Alkaline Trio – This Addiction

(c)2010 Heart and Skull / Epitaph Records
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve got a soft spot for Alkaline Trio. I’ve been listening to them for the better part of the last 12 years. After I first heard Goddamnit I was hooked. I have to admit that after they left Asianman Records I got a little disenchanted. Not that I begrudge them the popularity and a little recognition for their hard work, and don’t get me wrong major labels are a collective bag of douche, but I don’t blame A3 for that. However when I heard they were starting their own Heart and Skull label in conjunction with Epitaph I was relieved. I hoped that things might get back a bit closer to the earlier days. I heard that that the new release was going to rock it a bit harder. Well I finally got a copy of This Addiction and I’m fairly convinced that the rumors I heard were right. The 11 tracks are more reminiscent of something around From Here to Infirmary. The content has a little more edge and a little less emo to it. For fans of the more downtrodden of A3’s work, don’t be disappointed (or do, if that is what you’re into) I’m just saying that they brought it back a bit, but this time with a lot bigger production. There are lot more layers to the songs and a lot more variety. The zip of track two, “Dine, Dine my Darling” is refreshing. So are the 80’s keyboard sounds on “Eating Me Alive”. Hell there is even a horn track on the also up-tempo track three, “Lead Poisoning”. When it’s all said and done you know this is Alkaline Trio, but it’s an Alkaline Trio that seems somehow revitalized. This Addiction is well worth it.

–Jerry Actually

Sadplant – The World’s Got Problems, So Do You

© 2009 Sadplant
Rating: ★★★★☆

sadplantSadplant … A manufacturing plant that makes sad? An unhappy houseplant? Not sure, I can’t find the one-sheet that came with this new Sadplant disc, but damn! This band from Connecticut has got it going on something fierce. Formed in 2007 this release marks their fifth DIY effort and out of their own studio as well. Don’t wait too long to grab this one though, ‘cause there is a new new release slated for November. I have to admire this band for their sheer energy. They are nothing if not prolific. The music is catchy and punk rock with a unique style that you don’t often get these days. It is especially rare when you see a band cranking out this much material and it doesn’t end up sounding like musical Xerox. I’d like to say more, but frankly I think the new material is in my mailbox. No seriously, keep on with the rock-n-roll onslaught. Incidentally, the bonus track fucking sucks. 😉

–Jerry Actually

Heads Held High – So Say We All

(c)2008 Heads Held High on Crossface Records

Rating: ★★★★½

hhh Hot damn, it’s good to listen to old-fashioned, ass-kicking hardcore punk!  I hope these guys have stock in bass drum heads and throat lozenges; I’m sure they go through a lot of them. 

So Say We All is an 11-track musical masterpiece. You get screamish vocals from a frontman who can also sing, classic punk guitar notched up with nu-metal riffs, staunch and strumbly bass support, and insanely exceptional drumming.  Clever nuggets of movie quotes pop up between songs with lyrics ranging from introspective, self-abasing, life-loving and regime challenging — brilliant.

Heads Held High deliver an album that makes you want to go out and drive fast, drink hard, and kiss beautiful strangers.  I can’t wait til they tour the West Coast — go get this CD, learn the lyrics so we can go sing along when they’re here.

-HK-47

Joshua Lanes – The Dance Thunder EP

(c)2008 Spillway Records

Rating: ★★★★½

dancethunderThe Dance Thunder EP is strange and good and cool…reminds me of weird early 90’s bootleg tapes that we’d listen to in the high school photo lab, or mid 90’s albums you’d hear wafting through dorm halls on move-in day.  It’s a bit Pixies, a tad Modest Mouse, a smidge mellow Sonic Youth.  The songs have that fun sound of indie tracks peppered into Chuck or this-season’s-Juno movies.

I adore what they say on their press sheet: “Joshua Lanes never proclaim to be creating music that has never been done before, like so many of the delusional bands today. All Joshua Lanes want is to play music that they enjoy rocking out to on a daily basis and play it for the world.”  Play on.

-HK-47

Animo – Blood in the Water

(c)2008 Animo Music

Rating: ★★★★☆

animo-blood-in-the-water I saw these guys at Warped Tour last year and thought they were a perfect fit.  They’ve got a high energy live act and were adored by the throngs of screaming girls in the audience. While giving Blood in the Water a first listen, I browsed other review sites to see what was being said…sigh.

I fully believe MC Lars when he tells us that “Hot Topic is not punk rock,” but there’s no need to slam the kids who like the music they promote, or the bands who capitalize on the sound.  Animo perfectly capture the summer fest’s style, and  Blood in the Water is a very decent, albeit short, album.  While I agree with the general web consensus that these guys don’t fit the classic definition of punk, they’re poster children for pop-punk. Their songs are amazingly catchy, their lyrics don’t drag into the total emo-therapy downturn that lesser Warped acts have.  They’ve got a brilliant drummer, great guitar hooks, slappy bass support, and amazing vocals.  Radio pop-punk isn’t disrespectful to the pioneers of the 70’s, it’s a natural progression supported by America’s youth who are bound to adore Animo.

-HK-47

Jaya the Cat – More Late Night Transmissions With…

(c)2007 I Scream Records

Rating: ★★★★☆

jayathecat-morelatenighttra Bosterdamian group Jaya the Cat deliver a unique fusion of punk, reggae, rock, and ska that took a few listens before it gelled into awesome.  More Late Night Transmissions With… bounces across the Atlantic like Cannabis Cup winning weed followed by a dram of 20 yr barrel aged Glensomething whiskey — oh-so-hazy and smoother than a mo’fo’.

Continue reading Jaya the Cat – More Late Night Transmissions With…

The Loved Ones – Distractions

(c)2009 Fat Wreck Chords
Rating: ★★★★☆

lovedonesdistractions Philly punkers The Loved Ones dropped this 6 track EP earlier this year, needing to give fans something to hold between whirlwind touring.  Half originals, half covers, it performs well as it stands. EPs should leave you wanting more than their scant offerings, and Distractions does just that.

Starting with a powerful song of a woman overcoming domestic violence, rocking through to a drunkard’s lament, and punking out on an awesome weekend anthem, the original tracks show promising writing and talented performances.    The covers are mixed: a wonderful electric version of Bruce Springsteen’s Johnny 99 (just as moving in today’s economic climate), Billy Bragg’s Lovers Town Revisited, and Joe Strummer’s Coma Girl.  While they fit the feel of the album, I love to hear a more original interpretation in covers than just excellent reproductions.  For an EP, Distractions impresses, and I am eagerly awaiting a new full-length.

-HK-47

Mute – The Raven

(c)2008 Mute on 2nd Wave Records
Rating: ★★★★★

mute-theraven I’m kicking myself for never listening to Mute before. This CD hasn’t left my player since it was sent, but it was time to take it out to write a review. GO GET THIS NOW.  Seriously, if you like music, you should like Mute.  This an amazing album — skate-punk steeped in metal, sweetened with power chords and harmonies, served up with a twist of punch-the-air songs to quench your music thirst.

I can taste the Lagwagon flavor, but Mute takes it over the edge…like a hotdog compares to gourmet imported Italian sausage.  The Raven serves up 12 tasty tracks, amazingly crafted — both lyrically and musically — and beautifully presented.  These guys are technically proficient, crisp, punchy, and savory.  Some lyrics toe the edge of heartbreak and come back swinging, others have you banging your head or shaking it in empathy.  They sing “Can’t be slowing down…” and here’s hoping they don’t.

The Raven is perfect for an afternoon barbeque or a raging party — you may need to re-up on beer, but you can just hit repeat on this CD and be sated.

-HK-47

The Psycho Nubs – Alley of the Ignots

(c)2007 The Psycho Nubs
Rating: ★★★★½

psychonubs2 The Psycho Nubs are a great duo with an odd name.  This album is fun, energetic, creative and overall awesome.  Their style swings around from political-themed glam-tinged rock over to basement punk and around the corner to psychobilly.  Impressively, they show no hesitation and rock all 17 tracks with a pure, musical passion that’s often lost in mainstream bands.

At times reminiscent of 50’s do-wop ballads, the Psycho Nubs also channel the Descendants, the Groovie Ghoulies, and a touch of early Beastie Boys.  There are love songs to PBR, Mary Anne from Gilligan and Monica May, anti-establishment punk themes peppered with “woah-oh” choruses, and tales of alien invasion and the zombie apocolypse.  These guys are lyrically entertaining, musically talented, and right up my alley.

Honor Bright – If this was a movie

(c)2008 Honor Bright (now on Aux Records)
Rating: ★★★★½

honorbright Oooh! Shiny! Honor Bright is everything that I love in radio music today, with none of the crap. That r-word might be enough to deter many, but I’m a big fan of Warped Tour sounding artists, and these guys are some of the best.

Forearm tattoos, slightly-greasy protractor haircuts, and Goodwill shirts? Check!
Beautiful vocal harmonies, punchy high-hat heavy drums, chunky guitar parts? Check!
80’s pop-culture referencing song title with no relation to the lyrical content? Check!

The music is crisp and urging, the lyrics are emotive without being too emo. Sure, these guys sound like other radio artists, but if their live performances are half as good as this 6 track ep, they’ve already got one-up on most of them. This CD is brilliant and left me wanting more — I’ll be heading out to get their Aux Records re-released full-length to fill my fix.

-HK-47