The Black Maria

The Black Maria – A Shared History of Tragedy (c) 2006 Victory RecordsThe Black Maria, slang for the police "paddywagon" of yore and the name of Thomas Edison's movie studio, offers up 11 tracks of alterna-emo-rock much in the same vein as other alterna-emo-rock. The musicianship is solid and the production is clean, but "A Shared History of Tragedy" sounds like a soundtrack to me. Be it movie or video game, this isn't something that I would listen to out of personal preference, but it has enough appeal that it could accentuate some tense scenes in a teen-angst drama or an open highway stretch in a race game. Overall grade: B- -Jerry Actually

This Feels Like A Riot Looks

This Feels Like A Riot Looks – Killian Betlach (c) 2005With a title that all but screams to be read and a prologue that sucked me in with the first paragraph, This Feels Like A Riot Looks was a decent read. The characters have a quality that makes them seem very familiar and there are a few laugh out loud antics I found entertaining. I can’t say that I put it down with any sense of insight or inspiration, after all this story is merely human, but I think the author has something with his first novel and I hope I get a chance to see some more of his work. -Krystal TolleGet a copy of the book here .

Mastodon

Mastodon – Blood Mountain (c) 2006 Warner Bros. RecordsMastodon, “Blood Mountain;” Scaling the peak. Approximately one minute into Mastodon’s third full length release, “Blood Mountain,” one gets the feeling they aren’t exactly listening to just any old record. From every riff, every transition or seeming lack thereof to every�beat, bass swirl and drum�fill to the�ever changing vocal styles of both Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds, (not to mention guests Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age) all the way down to the immpeccable guitar tones and drum sounds, this is a release to be taken seriously. And that is no accident. Mastodon have themselves claimed this as their greatest work to date, and while they have cultivated a loyal following thus far, they clearly had intentions of raising their proverbial bar, dare I say at the risk of alienating some entry-level fans. At times quite heady, filled with complex timing, intricate guitar work, blazing drums, highly unique lyrics dealing with myriad fantastical creatures and adventures sung in interesting ways,�and even a few “what the hell what was THAT!?” noises, Blood Mountain is certainly a couple of things. First, a finely crafted work of art by highly skilled individuals. Second, one intense son-of-a-bitchin’ ride. Never a dull moment, never a predictable one. As a side-note, upon waiting for the hidden track to kick in, a discussion about how Rob Halford is the most badass gay guy on Earth fired up. Just as I made my final�note about how even the most jock-esque dudes fail to stack up to his merits, Mastodon appeared once more, simply to laugh at my point. -Nick McGarvey�

The Bronx

The Bronx – The Bronx (II) (c)2006 Island Records / White Drugs Records I'll be damned. A major label band that ain't too bad. The Bronx, though not in fact from The Bronx, transmit a gritty and streetable urban appeal. The tracks for the most part are up tempo and clock in under 3 minutes with the exception of the rather haunting "Dirty Leaves" The Bronx appear to be part of the major resurgence of rock and roll in L.A. and in the country in general for that matter. With Zeppelin like vocal wailings and rocking out rhythms like a more articulate Mudhoney, they definitely have the rock thing going on. I'll be honest. It is the first thing in the morning and I've barely sucked down half my coffee, but the report thus far is that I like The Bronx. They have a sound that sounds like something that I remember that I like, but don't remember precisely what that is.

Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin – Phobia (c) 2006 Hollywood RecordsTrack one: Shitty intro, Track two: The Diary of Jane. You have heard the rest of the album already, you just don't know it yet. Take most of the bands you have heard on modern rock garbage radio ( Stained, Creed, Fallout Boy, Pan Full! of Crisco) and just kind of smash them all together until a bastard child emerges. Here he is! Breaking Benjamin. While I found most of the cover art and photography pleasing to my eyes, I can't say so much for my poor little ears. NO! NO! Don't break a Benjamin. Don't event break a Washington. Krystal Tolle

Drive By

Drive By – I Hate Every Day Without You Kid… (c)2006 Riot Squad RecordsHere is some more music on the Emo tip. Not quite as bad as the crap that I usually hate. Drive By has a bit of an Alkaline Trio feel albeit with less punk rock and more emo-pop driving it. I guess the drive by that they are taking about is the one where you drive by the flower shop and pick up some flowers for a funeral or something. Don't get me wrong though, I listened to the whole CD a couple times and not once did I run away screaming or try to stab myself in the ears with a pen. The debut CD from Drive By is definitely music for the depressed, the ones that are looking for catharsis.  

City Sleeps

City Sleeps – Hotel (c)2006 Maverick RecordsCity Sleeps – Freaking Ugggh. I am sick to the flippin' gills of whiney 'cry me a river' rock. Remember back in the day when Maverick was courting bands like Rancid? Maybe things would have been different then. Instead Maverick is so blighted that they list the Austin Powers soundtrack as a band in their roster. Hotel is music made by whiners for people who like to whine about how whiney music rocks. Oh, and rip off Brain May just once and people will claim that you're like the next Queen.

Catch 22 Permanent Revolution

Catch 22 – Permanent Revolution (c)2006 Victory RecordsAs I sit and listen to this Catch 22 release, I must say this is one of the best from the ska-punk band from New Jersey.  Having all their other releases, I must say I was excited to hear the newest one.  Now I must say that the first couple of times through this CD I thought it was kinda slow and different, but the more you listen to it the more I love it.  The CD explores the life of Leon Trotsky and it is very interesting how the story is told.  Catch 22 has brought us yet another great Disc and their live performance to back it up cements that.  I hope that Catch 22 will continue to bring us great music 'cause I know I will be listening.  I will give this CD 4.5 checkerboards out of 5, so pick it up and dance your ass off!!!

Slayer – Christ Illusion

Slayer – Christ Illusion (c)2006 Warner Bros. RecordsThere are 2 types of people in the world, the people that think Slayer rules, and the people that suck. With over 2 decades of butality under their collective belts, Slayer, unlike so many other bands, has not lost its diabolical touch. Slayer will still frighten the crap out of the feint of heart with all their music and If anything, Christ Illusion is their strongest material in a decade. It is umistakably signature sounding and that is just how it should be. I’m impressed by the bands ability to keep things fresh while at the same time keeping consistent. The one thing I do notice about how Slayer has progressed over time is that they are so much tighter as a unit now. Go out tomorrow and get Christ Illusion and play it loud. Personal favorites include Jihad and the scathingly satirical Supremist.

Angel City Outcasts

Angel City Outcasts – Deadrose Junction (c) 2006 Sailor's Grave RecordsThough they may tout the word outcast, these L.A. Boys massively recall the extremely embraced early 80's SoCal rock sound, albeit blended with more punk attitude. The Angel City Outcasts new release "Deadrose Junction" begs to be compared to early Crue and G'N'R. It is definitely straight ahead rock, but thankfully it lacks the posturing and pretense of the 80's hair-metal glam scene. "Deadrose Junction" also raises the rock bar with some of their more aggressive punk riffs. Comparisons and critiques aside, I still can't help but think that I could really get into blasting this on a beat up jam box while riding around drunk in the back of a pickup anywhere in the Midwest. 3 cheers for Rock and Roll!