The Slow Death – Born Ugly Got Worse

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I have been a fan of mid-west pop punk for some time now, but I am still new enough that I am unfamiliar with the other bands that The Slow Death members belong to (Pretty Boy Thorson, or The Ergs for example), and maybe is that ignorance that is skewing my perception of the record. But I have heard enough to know that these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel, but what they are doing (and it comes out in the music) is making the type of music they love, and loving it all the while.

It reminds me of yesterday while I was watching one of my favourite movies, Rocky Balboa (don’t judge me). A line at the beginning of the movie says “all of boxing is looking for a warrior who thrills us with their passion.” While boxing in real life is in much the same state, music is too, but music can give us something boxing can’t, the warriors who can thrill us .I think that is what drove me to buy the record, and when the band recently had a Kickstarter campaign to help them go on a European tour, I purchased the record again (only this time signed). Sadly the campaign failed and I won’t get to add that record to my collection.

But enough of my bitterness, Born Ugly Got Worse is a collection of 12 pop punk anthems that are full of the 3 punk H’s:hooks, heartbreak, and hanging out drinking. What else could you want if you are a fan? What else could you ask for? To me, nothing. If you want a good down and dirty pop punk album, listen to Born Ugly Got Worse, if you’re looking for something else, you won’t find it here.


The Shell Corporation – Force Majeure

(c) 2011 The Shell Corporation
Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

The Shell Corporation, to be confused with the Shell Corporation is what comes up when you google the band and see the link to the group’s website. A lot of times bands won’t have an accurate picture of what they really sound like, but this time I think they hit the proverbial nail on the head. I may not have said that after the first listen. After initially hearing Force Majeure (the group’s new album), I was really looking for a frame of reference and someone to compare them to. I had been listening to Holding Onto Sound’s The Tempest EP recently and I heard (imagined) so much of them in the Shell Corporation that I had to check to see if any members of the band happened to be in both groups (the answer is no). Like I said the comparisons were imagined and the only song that I could even hear what I thought I had was on “Ozymandias”, the second last track of the album.

While downloading the album I was reading the webpage and they mention a comparison to early Against Me! Confusion would run rampant again. I was convinced that “Broken Hearted Loser” was the second coming of “Shit Stroll.” While I can still hear where I got the comparison from it wasn’t completely accurate.

Don’t get me wrong, there are comparisons that can be made, and you can pick out possible influences in their songs (I even heard a little bit of Dead to Me’s “A Day Without War” in “Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying”). But I learned a few things from listening to Force Majeure (a good listen by the way, with something for everyone from political punk to punk ballads): think critically before you take things you read at face value, take your time before making any snap judgements, and finally The Shell Corporation, to be confused with the Shell Corporation.


Burning Streets – Sit Still

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
© 2011 Sailor’s Grave Records

Boston band Burning Streets has a new release. “Sit Still” is out now on Sailor’s Grave Records and with it you get 11 tracks of emotionally charged rock and roll. On the whole, Sit Still hovers in the punk rock vein, but is heavily laced with a melancholy that accompanies other similar acts like The Loved Ones or American Steel and to a lesser degree, Dead to Me.

The songs, averaging around the four minute mark, tend to be longer than what usually sits well with me. However the individual tracks have enough variety to maintain interest. The album is also well arranged, so the lengthy tracks aren’t as much a hindrance as they might otherwise be.
Nearly all the tracks are of the emotive and moody variety. In the right frame of mind I can get into this more mellow side of punk rock. The album begins to gain momentum around track five, “The Safety”. After which the velocity appears to be too much and begins to lose control of itself as it careens into the oddly Black Crows gone glam rock sounding “Let Me Go”.

Once the wreck is over “Sit Still” falls back into its more familiar, and frankly more enjoyable, paces. The disc winds down through a few more tracks and culminates into the feedback and tape hiss of its final track leaving you, I can only hope, feeling cathartic.

So as a final note, while I prefer my punk faster, a bit more raw, and a little less emo, this is still pretty good stuff and great if you’re a fan of the sub-genre. Don’t believe me? Check out some tracks for yourself over at Sailor’s Grave Records

–Jerry Actually

1 Distance Between
2 Disappointed
3 Blood I Need
4 Different Drums
5 The Safety
6 Let Me Go
7 Comfort In Confusion
8 Simplicity
9 Full-Time Gamblers
10 Strange Me
11 M.I.A. (Hold On)

Holding Onto Sound – The Tempest

© 2011 GC Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

When you think of musical entertainment in Las Vegas, there’s a pretty good (or bad) chance that you’re conjuring up images of Beatles tributes bands, performers in drag, or heaven forbid, Celine Dion. Well, if this describes you, you can extract yourself from the turnip truck right now.

Holding Onto Sound (or HOTS) are stalwarts of the Vegas music scene and over the last eight years have honed their brand of progressive punk rock to a fine edge. The music is filled with intensity and sincerity alongside its punk rock core. The band elicits a comparison to bands like Dead to Me and American Steel, but with enough distinction that you’d not want to pass over one for the other.

The Tempest is the bands newest release and provides three tracks of the aforementioned intense and sincere punk rock. In just about 9 minutes you get a showcase of some of the best efforts for HOTS that I’ve heard to date. If you get a chance, check out their live show. The band plays fairly frequently around the West and of course, Las Vegas.

… and while I know that it is only a 7” with a sparse three tracks, and sure, that probably won’t fill you up, instead, they give you enough to leave you wanting more.

You can pre-order the new release from GC Records.

–Jerry Actually

Get Dead – Letters Home

(c) 2008 Horns Up Records
Rating: ★★★½☆

Have you ever, as an ever tough punk rocker wanted to let you inner-emo out?  But how could you and still  save face with all your extra tough punk rock friends?  San Francisco’s Get Dead holds the answers to your fears.  Their “punkcoustic” anthems reek with their innermost feelings but still come across as cool and nonchalant.  I venture to say that you can safely listen to Letters Home and you will still command the respect of your spike-bedazzled friends and maybe you’ll even show that cute little pale girl all dressed in black a little bit of your own tortured soul (but not too much) Aside all that, Get Dead brings some fine non-electrical punk rock in an anthemic and almost piratical way. If I had to make up some adjectives that you can use to tell your friends about them, I’d go so far as to say that they are both Clashtastic and SwinginUtteriffic.  For those of you back east, you can say that they’re wicked sweet!

–Jerry Actually