Music Reviews:
JULY 2005

Sugar Ray,"The Best of Sugar Ray" (Atlantic)
With the longevity of 15 years and 5 albums later and riding to the top with fellow Newport Beach/Long Beach bands No Doubt and Sublime, Sugar Ray releases their best of album and will probably be their last. From the tantalizing and eye appealing cover of Lemonade and Brownies (remember Charles in Charge??) to the popular Floored and 14:59 albums. The hits such as Mean Machine, Fly, Falls Apart, and cover songs of Cyndi Lauper, Time after Time, and Joe Jackson, Is She Really Going out with Him adorn this disc. I will admit I am a big fan of the first album but they lost me after that. I think the word is neutered......But I could be wrong. It's funny to see how a cover band can come up the ranks and become media darlings and so appealing to the masses. Hard work and unrelenting promotion is the key I guess....
www.sugarray.com
Rating:

Review by JRumbass


Mutant Radio,"Cash N Burn" (Indie Release)
This six piece out of LA via Detroit are known for their high-energy shows and their debut album is good sign of what they are all about. They lay down the funkiest beats with lots of heavy melodic guitars, thumping bass, a Dj, and an eloquent wordsmith dropping some killer rhymes. From the opener, All American Guy, to highlights Fallen, and In the Air, it’s definitely high energy and with purpose. But what distinguishes them from the others is they are a little funkier jazzier, and intelligent lyrics and a little more depth. But these guys are riding the rap-rock train into the sunset and they are the caboose. This style has been revisited countless times but they do it their way and they do it with style.
www.detroitmutantradio.com
Rating:

Review by JRumbass



The Jim-Jims,“Box Lunch” [7” vinyl] (Wee Rock Records)
Trashy rock n’ roll just like I like it. Four wild and wooly romps through garage / frat rock history that will surely get your ass a wiggling while you wait in line for your turn at the keg. Side one has the coolest songs if you ask me. The title track rocks but it’s the Kiss fueled “Slow Bang” that really brings out the drunken caveman in me. It has a slower, harder, “I Wanna Rock N’ Roll All Nite” kinda beat that just makes you want to play air guitar and make those funny rock n’ roll faces.
www.weerockrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Fountains of Wayne,"Out-Of-State Plates" (Virgin)
Its funny how Fountains of Wayne can put out a collection of non-album rarities and still deliver one of the best albums of the year?! Comprised of various “bonus tracks” recorded over the bands career, OUT OF STATE PLATES show that F.O.W. is almost too clever for their own damn good! A band has no right to put out endless little melodic masterpieces that other bands would kill to have the talent to just to produce one of! Of course I’m kidding…but my point is that even these songs that weren’t deemed relevant for regular releases show the pure talent of the band. And of course, what would a “rarities” CD be without those almost obligatory cover songs? Included are covers of: ELO, Gene Pitney, Jackson Browne, Burt Bacharach and Britney Spears. My fave of these covers is ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”. While their version of Britney’s “Baby One More Time” is hilarious, I still prefer the Travis version from a few years back. A great retrospective from one of the best bands of the past decade.
www.fountainsofwayne.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Collapsar,"Collapsar" (Escape Artist)
Collapsar is a trio hailing from Louisiana that employ two guitarists and a drummer and still manage to sound as heavy as any band with a bassist. On the band's self-titled debut, there's a whole lot of riffing going on, as well as dual guitars galore, and a sense that these guys like Pink Floyd as much as they do Converge, which is never a bad thing. Up for adventure? Allow Collapsar to lead the way with their avant-garde metal styling.
www.escapeartistrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Holy Frog,"My By Self" (Indie Release)
While I described their last disc as "psychedelic-Americana", Holy Frog's new disc finds them with a more bluegrass-Americana feel than their previous effort. They haven't totally abandoned their sound , but this time around picture a Gram Parson's influence instead of Syd Barrett ("S'Mores" still keeps this formula). While their last effort was only a 6-song EP, MY BY SELF is a full-length release, and Holy Frog have proven that they can progress in not only sound but in production. My favorite is "Trust Fund Baby" - a catchy little ditty with hilarious lyrics.

And as with their last, Holy Frog always delivers something that is worth a listen. This ain't your average "alt-country" act! That's only part of the picture...they weave a collage of sounds that sounds somewhat familiar, yet different.
www.holyfrog.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Ronnie


I.D.M.,"I.D.M." (Indie Release)
I.D.M. (standing for It Doesn't Matter) is a hard-hitting trio from California whose musical leanings sound strikingly similar to NYC bands like Helmet and Prong without the layer of grime. The band's five-track collection's raw intensity and heavy handed hooks give off a metal backlash, complete with staccato riffs, pummeling bass, and thunderous drums, making I.D.M. a band that one day down the road may matter to a lot of people outside of their immediate surroundings.
www.idm-music.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS



Kevin K and the Real Kool Kats / Sonic Angels,“Split” [7” vinyl] (Speed Records)
Two perfectly matched rock n’ roll bands slapped together on one shiny slab of vinyl. Kevin K and the Real Kool Kats check in with a couple of favorites, “What It Takes” and “L.O.V.E.”, two songs that sound great every time you hear them played. Next up is the Sonic Angels, a three piece punk rock n’ roll outfit from France. They have a mean, stripped down, almost tribal rock n’ roll sound that is instantly contagious. “Get Lost” rocks and I love their second track, “Listen To The Stooges”. A solid seven inch split all the way around.
http://www.lolaproduct.com/sonic-angels.htm
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Sunsets and Silhouettes" (Planting Seeds Records)
Normally I find compilation discs to be extremely boring. I mean, most acts are going to save their really good tracks for their own CD right? I have rarely found a compilation disc that I have even wanted to hear more than once. That is, until now! While there isn’t a bad track on this 18-track CD (another rarity for comps!), some of my faves include: Mark Gardener, Sister Vanilla and The Voyces. SUNSETS AND SILHOUETTES by Planting Seeds Records shows that their roster is a virtual mother lode of powerpop/sunshinepop untapped gold.
www.plantingseedsrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Motorhead,"Live at Brixton ‘87" (Sanctuary)
LIVE IN BRIXTON ’87 captures Motorhead with a rare quartet lineup, instead of the usual trio. It’s funny because adding an extra member to Motorhead doesn’t seem to alter their already high-energy heavy rock. Still, this is a great performance, with highlights including “Eat the Rich”, “Deaf Forever” and “Stone Deaf in the USA”. And of course the Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades” is included! Trends may change over the years, but one thing is guaranteed: Motorhead ALWAYS rocks! While Motorhead might be an acquired taste for some, this CD is guaranteed to please all true headbangers!
www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Linda Draper,"One Two Three Four" (Planting Seeds Records)
After a stack of hardcore screamo cds this was a soothing welcome for my weary ears. An eclectic mix of folk and pop the likes I haven’t heard since Susan Vega. New York singer-songsmith Linda Draper is what the major label heads call the total package. Great songwriting, beautiful music, loads of talent and the natural good looks to push a video to the top of the VH1 charts.
www.plantingseedsrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Pinkie,"Sharon Fussy" (Planting Seeds Records)
This has a real early eighties Echo and the Bunnymen feel to it with it’s soaring yet laid back vocals and jangly guitars. After checking out the website I found out that Pinkie is basicly the solo efforts of one Alex Sharkey with the assistance of some “helpers” as he calls them. Sharkey was formerly a member of the power acoustic trio Brighter that released an impressive list of Eps before things finally fizzled out and everyone parted ways. An interesting and addictive pop album.
www.plantingseedsrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Scott Turchin,"River Can Cry" (Indie Release)
Reggae and American folk? Played by a white boy? I know it might sound very strange, but Scott Turchin somehow makes it work – on the reggae songs that is. The CD is mixed with reggae and folk, which each song denoted on the CD jacket which style belongs to which song. Unfortunately, his reggae songs are the most interesting as his folk songs fall flat. It doesn’t help when you have horrendous vocals, like the song “Baby Don’t Mind” – you are guaranteed to hit “fast forward” faster than touching a hot stove. If Turchin would just stick to one style (in his case reggae), his CD’s would be vastly improved! “White Man” touches on brilliance, but alas good songs like this can’t be saved by some boring folk music.
www.songmon.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Wydown,"Message From the Yes Man" (Indie Release)
What do you get when you cross Faith No More and ELO? I know that is a bizarre mixture, but that best describes Wydown’s immediate sound. They have the power of Faith No More with the symphonic qualities of ELO. But they don’t wear their influences on their sleeves - there is enough originality here to make these tunes interesting and call out for repeated plays. With only 5 consistently good songs, you can’t help but wonder what these guys can do with a whole CD!
www.wydown.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Jerry Fels,"How To Make Enemies…" (Nobodys Favorite Records)
Jerry Fels lives in his own world and he knows it, even admits it and he’s happy with it. Now, if more artists were of the same mindset maybe radio wouldn’t be backed up with crap like a roadside restroom at a Texaco station. If you play from your heart and your head and don’t give a shit about what will or won’t sell then sometimes you get something new. Fels puts me in mind of a young Pete Townsend locking himself into his studio to wrestle with his demons. Well, a young Pete Townsend with an acoustic guitar and a cheesy drum machine anyway.
www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Robert Cray Band,"Twenty" (Sanctuary Records)
Robert Cray is one hell of a bluesman. He’s not your everyday “my woman done left me” bluesman either. He’s a bluesman that has so much soul dripping from his voice that you sometimes don’t even realize your listening to the blues. Take “Poor Johnny”, the leadoff track from “Twenty”, for instance. This is a soul song in every right. It’s so smooth that you just sink right down into it from the first verse and don’t even get me started on his guitar work. A great release with loads of class.
www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Champion,"Time Slips Away" (Bridge Nine)
Champion is a straight-edge hardcore group whose criss-crossed the country with everyone from Sick of it All to Terror and whose latest release chronicles the band's previous works, namely their last two albums. The 13-track offering contains the quintet's anthems of self-pride, lost relationships, and the pressures of growing up and getting older, suitable for dancing, moshing, and ripping it up to, as tracks like the contagious title cut and the stabbing "One Sixteen" mark Champion as one of the premiere hardcore bands on the scene today.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nehemiah,"Lenore" (Uprising)
Minnesota-based metalcore monsters Nehemiah's latest five-track explosion yields a cavalcade of guttural vocals, churning guitars, powerhouse drumming, and frenetic rhythms, whipping up quite the ruckus. But, these guys can bring it down 300 notches before bashing in your skull, shown on "Return to Grandeur". Technically diverse and hammeringly heavy, LENORE fills that spot on your CD shelf between Unearth and As I Lay Dying as yet another band that combines all of the nuances of the heavy music genre into a brutal stew best served with a boot to the head.
www.uprisingrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


FM Bats,"Everybody Out… Shark In The Water" (Vinyl Dog Records)
Raw, lo-fi, garage punk. Think Black Lips, Dumptruck, Thee Fine Lines or the Dirty Jobs. Pretty damn cool and a definite keeper in my humble opinion. These guys play what I like to call “underdog rock”. You can always root for bands like this because they’re just like you and me, an bunch of average joe just trying to make it through another week without the sky falling. Underdog rock is always cool until a major label comes along and screws things up by making them rich and famous. Let’s hope we get a few more great albums from these guys before that happens.
www.vinyldogrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Hatepinks,"Plastic Bag Ambitions" (TKO Records)
Hailing from France, the Hatepinks naturally bring a double dose of snotty punk attitude to the table. Check out some of these song titles and you’ll understand what I mean, “Kissing Cops With My Ass”, “I Piss In Your Swimming Pool”, “We Are The F*cks” and don’t forget the jaw dropping refrains of “Motherfuquer”. If your into garage-punk flavored rock n’ roll that’s as obnoxious as the Pistols without all the hype then the Hatepinks are your band. Thirteen snotty 77 style punk rock anthems that clock in at sixteen minutes and twenty eight seconds.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Runt,"The Attic Sessions" (Fury 76)
Naming this band Runt is clearly a misnomer, as this band is far from diminutive in musical stature. Instead, they are a fierce new rock band from the UK that boasts two-thirds of UK rock luminaries The Almighty in its ranks. This blistering trio plays the kind of contagious hard rock that a combination of Helmet, Alice in Chains, and Thumb would make if joined together. Gritty, barked vocals attack your ears as a pummeling array of flailing guitars and cymbals collide with bulky bass lines anchoring the heaviness. Tracks like the serpentine staccato of “Exit” and the relentless “Oversize” are examples of unmitigated hard rock aggression at its finest. Underground, but not for long, THE ATTIC SESSIONS, with its metallic sheen and hardcore overtones, is a release that will make you stand up and take notice.
www.r-u-n-t.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blacklisted,"We’re Unstoppable" (Deathwish)
Brimming with confidence and stacked with the hardcore chops to take you out like a windmill kick to the head, Philadelphia’s Blacklisted embodies the unique spirit of beatdown hardcore on WE’RE UNSTOPPABLE, an unbridled collection of the band’s past efforts with some new stuff thrown in for good measure. In the vein of bands like Madball, Hatebreed, and Terror, this outfit chug its way through 10-tracks of no-nonsense, take no prisoners, assaulting hardcore, as tracks like “3800” and “My Advice” burst through the speakers with all of the menacing aggression you’d find in the pit. Blacklisted aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are holding it down with conviction, and are a surefire moshpit picker-upper.
www.deathwishinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kill the Thrill,"Tellurique" (Season of Mist)
Kill the Thrill is a French trio whose synthetic metal offerings make for an intriguing listen. The outfit’s fifth album, TELLURIQUE, is a collection of ambient metal with an overall somber feel, allowing tracks like “Us and Them” to resonate in your head longer than expected. Combining the wares of Godflesh, Isis, Cult of Luna, and Killing Joke into a smorgasbord of dashed hopes, bleak outlooks, and melancholy emotion, songs like “Permanent Imbalance” and “Non Existence” benefit from the callous programmed beats and industrial-tinged rhythms. TELLURIQUE is an album full of masterfully manipulated yet cold and calculated songs, convincingly embodying sad feelings filtered by technological advance.
www.season-of-mist.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wrecking Crew,"1987-1991" (Bridge Nine)
Seminal hardcore troupe Wrecking Crew’s most influential years are chronicled on this 26-track reissue disc. Known for being one of the pioneer acts that bridged the gap between metal, punk, and hardcore, this Boston outfit’s snarling vocal delivery and subtle yet heavy riffs sound as imminent today as they did back in the their heyday, as songs like “1000 Yard Stare” and “Judgment” laid the blueprint down for countless underground rockers to start their own quest for success. Containing live cuts and out of press tracks, as well as a good indication of East Coast hardcore in its infant stages, this disc is a worthwhile purchase for any hardcore fan who wants to know more than Hatebreed and Terror.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Killwhitneydead,"So Pretty, So Plastic" (Tribunal)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is what this band was thinking Blending their death metal menacings with a slather of samples from movies and television shows is what sets Arizona’s Killwhitneydead apart from the plethora of other extreme metal groups out today. On SO PRETTY, SO PLASTIC, the quintet (who recorded this endeavor as a trio) whip up some staggeringly heavy death metal riffs, some Carcass-esque vocals, and whirlwind drums, and manage to implement movie clips from such notorious flicks as FULL METAL JACKET, APOCALYPSE NOW, and PLANET OF THE APES inside such pulverizing cuts as “One Match and a Gallon of Gasoline” and the deliciously depraved “If I Told You I Love You, Will I Get It Any Faster?” Armed with a barrage of crushing riffs as well as a demented sense of humor, these warped metal warriors push the envelope of both musical limitations and good taste and come up with another intriguing release.
www.tribunalrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Bravery,"The Bravery" (Island)
Ah, the big beats, the synthesizers, the echoed vocals. It's not 1985 all over again, people; it's the Bravery's self-titled debut. Rising from a Lower East Side tenement to the annals of Island Records in meteoric fashion, this quintet's Strokes meets Killers meets The Cure will get all of the twenty-something’s in the bar hopping, but it's nothing that you couldn't dig out of your older sister's or John Hughes' record collection.
www.islandrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nile,"Annihilation of the Wicked" (Relapse)
The Middle Eastern ideology obsessed death metal troupe Nile return with yet another installment of technically untouchable, painstakingly meticulous brutality. Tracks like "The Burning Pits of the Duat" and "Lashed to the Slave Stick" may not sound as groundbreaking as previous works by the band a few album's back, yet they still maintain that crushing quality that Nile is renowned for.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Coliseum,"Goddamage" (Manic Ride)
Merging punk, hardcore, and metal is commonplace these days, but no one told Kentucky's Coliseum, as the quartet's eight-song, 15-minute explosive EP destroys everything in its path with vitriolic conviction and true underground fervor. Tracks like "Theme" and "Reborn to Hang" combine the wares of crusty punk, blistering metal, and fist-pumping hardcore into musical equivalents of Molotov cocktails, ready to detonate at any given time.
www.manicriderecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Monarch,"Monarch" (Pop Faction)
Virginia's Monarch's twist and turn approach to metal is a refreshing listen to ears that yearn for the unexpected, as the band's 10-track release steps inside the metalcore pit long enough to get a few shots in before heading back into doom stoner rock caverns and gut wrenching thrash metal expositions which evoke bands like Lamb of God. Tracks like "Bars & Graveyards" and "Lay With Me" stand out as pushing the metal envelope every which way without sacrificing overall heaviness, while the entire disc serves as an awakening to ears that have lain dormant for some time.
www.popfaction.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mercury Switch,"Time To Shine" (Indianola)
The sophomore release by New Hampshire's eclectic quintet Mercury Switch finds the band transcending the usual metalcore moniker for a much broader, yet still soberingly heavy label. The seven-track affair (with the last track being broken into five parts) is yet another triumph for the band, which tastefully mix violence and experimentation together for a stellar listen. If you like Poison the Well, Deftones, and Unearth, you'll fall hard for TIME TO SHINE.
www.indianolarecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Metalium,"Demons of Insanity" (Crash)
Metalium's latest offering is the fifth installment of the German band's storyline driven albums, as DEMONS OF INSANITY contains 14-tracks of standard power metal flare. Armed with the kind of righteous guitar playing that you'd expect from songs titled "Atrocity" and "Endless Believer", this disc isn't a must-have offering as much as it follows the formula well enough to appease fans of the genre in addition to perpetuating the epic storytelling. If you dig the power metal sound and can cut through some of the excess cheese, DEMONS OF INSANITY is a worthy purchase.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


DieYoung,"One" (DIYFS)
Die Young is a gritty California glam band gone bad, opting to scream their heads off and denounce the vapid posturing while cranking out six tracks chock full of crossover appeal. There's a strong sense of influence of bands like Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, and Black Flag on songs like "What They Say", giving off a fuck the world mentality over scathing music and unearthly vocals. ONE displays a band hell-bent on taking the scene back, by any and all means, and starting with a solid yet catchy release laden with anthems to kick someone in the head to.
www.chrisgultch.tripod.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Stroke 9,"All In" (Rock Ridge)
Stroke 9 is a Bay Area band that enjoyed success in the early '90s with songs that appeared on various television and film projects who felt it was time to break away from its major label to explore its creative side. The end result is a 10-track album that sounds more commercially appealing than songs heard on WB melodramas and beer ads combined, as this band's frat boy grunge is well past its keg partying prime.
www.stroke9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Disgorge,"Parallels of Infinite Torture" (Crash)
California's Disgorge isn't concerned with anything besides presenting a sick array of splattercore riffs, guttural vocals, and an overall grim death metal release, something which the quintet never lose sight off throughout the 10-track offering. Hitting the drums like it was a life or death choice while growling out a multitude of guttural utterances, Disgorge aren't likely to win any awards soon, but are highly likely to rip your face clean off.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Grand Magus,"Wolf’s Return" (Candlelight)
Boasting the talents of Spiritual Beggars throat JB on both vocals and guitar, the latest effort by Swedish power metal trio Grand Magus blurs the edges between metal and stoner rock. This 11-track collection finds the band's writing never sounding as epic and grandiose, while the performances on the songs like "Kingslayer" and "Repay In Kind" expertly find that middle ground that both ardent metal fans and purveyors of doom rock can dually revel in.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Gods,"I See You Through Glass" (Hand of Hope)
Gods features Jesse Smith, founding drummer for Christian metalcore stalwarts Zao on both drums and vocals, as well as 10 tracks of discernibly more rock-esque material. Taking over the singing on this endeavor, Smith and company try real hard to emulate bands like Glassjaw and Grade, but instead come off as poor versions of the aforementioned, complete with uneven songwriting, and less than stellar vocals. Sounding like they're trying too hard, I SEE YOU THROUGH GLASS does have a few solid moments ("Ephedra" would be a cool Faith No More song if Patton took the helm), but ultimately, falls way short of the mark.
www.handofhoperecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


P.H.O.B.O.S.,"Tectonics" (Candlelight)
One word sums up the eight-track offering by this avant-garde French metal collective: unsettling. Cold, bleak industrial metal that shares as much in common with Godflesh as it does Neurosis, TECTONICS is a amalgamation of blunt force, machine noise, and an undercurrent of metal that fans of the left of center side of the spectrum will dig for its mechanically metallic appeal.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Demons and Wizards,"Touched by the Crimson King" (SPV)
Team up members of Blind Guardian and Iced earth, and your bound for some serious metal, and Demons and Wizard's sophomore effort is exactly this and a whole lot more. This 10-track endeavor is laden with all of power metal's staples, from the anthem-like feel of the title track, to the savage riffs displayed on "Terror Train", to the inspired cover version of the Zeppelin classic "Immigrant Song". Providing a head exploding experience for fans of both band's and of the genre in general, TOUCHED BY A CRIMSON KING is a power metal fan's wish come true.
www.spv.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nocturne,"Guide to Extinction" (Triple X)
Nocturne is a duo out of Texas whose industrial strength female fronted metal may sound run of the mill at first, but after becoming entranced with singer Lacey Conner's sultry, seductive delivery and the heavy handed riffs dropped by Chris Telkes, the appeal of songs like "Shallow" and "Passion" increases a great deal. And to think at one time these two were an item...not even Sonny and Cher were able to come as clean as Nocturne does, pulling an industrial metal version of Fleetwood Mac on us all while keeping the synthetic venom flowing freely.
www.nocturne.cc
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dam,"Purity" (Candlelight)
English death metal troupe Dam has studied their Death and Carcass discs ad nauseum, and it shows on the 12-track PURITY. Combining the technical prowess of the more progressive members of the death metal genre with sledgehammering heavy antics, tracks like "City of Envy" and "Fury" kick it old school a la Entombed and Malevolent Creation, complete with a heartfelt intensity not heard in much of today's death metal offerings.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Shadow Gallery,"Room V" (SPV)
American Prog rockers Shadow Gallery's record releases are infrequent, yet when the band gets it together, they rival Dream Theater, Queensryche, and Symphony X for the coveted crown of prog rock. On the outfit's latest 14-track endeavor, the band mixes in a plethora of hard rock, arena rock, and rock ballads, and the end result is a disc that most fans of bands such as Deep Purple and ELP can surely sink their teeth into.
www.spv.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various,"Get Outta Philly" (Tick Tick Tick Records)
This is a great compilation of some of the best rock n’ roll, punk and garage bands from the city of brotherly love. I especially dig Thee Minks, The Bad News Bats, Bad Penny and the Jukebox Zeros. Thee Minks “I Lie To Boys” is one of the catchiest tracks on the disc and the Jukebox Zeros reworking of Bob Segers “Get Out Of Denver” to “Get Outta Philly” is a fun romp through Chuck Berry territory. There isn’t really any songs on here that I didn’t like. It makes one hell of a great party cd!
www.tickticktickrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Duane Peters Gunfight,"The Duane Peters Gunfight" (Disaster Records)
Damn, what a scary bunch of guys. One look at the picture of the band on the back cover and I knew this cd was getting a great review. I sure as hell don’t want this bunch showing up in my town looking for the little peckerhead that wrote the bad review. Well, lucky for me this album is great and I don’t have to write a bogus review. A nasty mix of old school punk rock and seventies rock n’ roll with all the attitude of the back row of an eight grade math class with a substitute teacher. Trust me, you’ll like it.
www.disasterecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Presto Ballet,"Peace Among the Ruins" (SPV)
Kurdt Vanderhoof is best known for his fretwork with Metal Church, but who knew (until his solo efforts) how deep rooted he was in '70s arena rock? Presto Ballet is the name of this retro project, as Vanderhoof and crew (many returning from his self-named group), put a hard rock spin complete with dominant keyboards, high-pitched vocals, and compositions that may remind you of works by bands like Boston and King Crimson. The best part of PEACE AMONG THE RUINS? It was recorded completely in analog, so the retro feel is not only limited to the songwriting, but the entire project as well. Feel the warmth and pick this one up if you miss the crackles and richness of your album collection.
www.spv.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


My Shining One/Son of the Mourning,"Split CD" (Engineer)
A trans-Atlantic meeting of sorts comes via Engineer Records, as New Jersey's My Shining One and England's Son of the Mourning team up. First up are the impressive pedigreed My Shining One (featuring ex-members of Nora, Ensign, For the Love Of), whose hardcore meets indie rock blend goes down as smooth as Thursday meeting Thrice. Next comes a heavier, more frenetic Son of the Mourning, complete with dissonant chords, a discernibly murkier feel, and a liking for Isis heard on the collection's closer, "Memento". A good array of what hardcore bands sound like (or should sound like) today can be found here.
www.engineerrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Accursed Dawn,"Manifest Damnation" (Pop Faction)
Virginia's Accursed Dawn's latest eight-track endeavor showcases a quintet who have nailed the extreme metal formula so well that they've almost rewritten the rules. Melding the sounds of Swedish metal with elements of crust-laden doom rock and a sprinkle of American thrash metal, tracks like the intriguing "Last Requiem for the Storm" clock in at over six minutes and not once does it become burdensome to listen to. While these guys do dig a bit deep into the Carcass/ At the Gates catalog, they do so with the utmost respect and with their own unique twist, making Accursed Dawn's latest one of the most brilliant extreme metal albums to come down the pike in a long time.
www.popfaction.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


All Shall Perish,"Hate. Malice. Revenge." (Nuclear Blast)
Bay Area death metal mongers All Shall Perish rip through eight-tracks of seething extreme metal on HATE. MALICE. REVENGE. The quintet's hardcore approach to the death metal genre is carried out with brutal conviction, as tracks like "Our Own Grave" and "For Far Too Long..." contain neck snapping breakdowns and whiplash inducing rhythms that any type of kid that likes to rage can easily follow through to.
www.nuclearblast.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Television Hill,"Twilight" (Teneral Records)
The countrified refrain of the Rolling Stones “Far Away Eyes” was the first thing to come to mind when the leadoff track “Jewel Of Texas” commenced to yelp and warble from my speakers. As a matter of fact, if the Rolling Stones were an all out country band I imagine they would sound a lot like this. I have to admit, their version of “John The Revelator” is hands down the best version I’ve ever heard in my life. Fourteen folk, country, rock songs that make you feel like your listening to The Band fronted by Mick and Keith and everybodies been sipping from the mason jar.
www.televisionhill.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Richard X. Heyman,"Rightovers" (Turn Up Records)
Heyman is a genius at what he does. He can write some of the best pop songs you’ll ever hear this side of a Beatles catalog and a few that could stand side by side with the Fab Four’s work. Yeah, you read it right. He’s that good. “Rightovers” is a downloadable only bonus disc to 2002’s “Basic Glee”. You can purchase “Rightovers” online and download everything all the way down to the cd artwork so if you want a copy go to Heyman’s website to see how to get yours.
www.richardxheyman.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Crest,"Vain City Chronicles" (Season of Mist)
The Crest is a female fronted outfit from Norway whose 11-track mid tempo melancholic collection fits alongside your Evanescence and Lacuna Coil discs, yet goes a lot further in scope, throwing in some My Dying Bride or Theatre of Tragedy (lead singer Nell's other outfit) for some gloom factor. Guitar wise, it seems a bit heavier than most bands in the genre, and Nell's superlative vocals truly stand out here. Despite these nuances, VAIN CITY CHRONICLES isn't doing anything groundbreaking in the Goth rock realm, but do manage to lay down some intriguingly somber moments that should appeal to the black nail polish wearing teen in your neighborhood.
www.season-of-mist.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Evile,"Evile" (Indie Release)
Evile is a metal trio from Spain whose four tracks of metal mayhem display a raw, yet overwrought style. Plagued with atonal singing, Evile's songs would be better suited with a less gruff vocal delivery, yet it serves the death rattle of "Liar" quite well. Not exactly doing anything original, this band sticks to the book and turns out some competent, cohesive tunes that you could bang your head to like it was 1989.
e_vil_e2004@yahoo.es
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Coram Lethe,"The Gates of Oblivion" (Crash)
Italian death metal troupe Coram Lethe's cranking 10-track release is yet another fine work of extreme music. This outfit utilizes the technicality of Death with the sheer sonic power of At the Gates throughout THE GATES OF OBLIVION, as tracks like "Shouts of Cowards" and "Hand of Lies" contain the mindful progressiveness and the savage vibes of both bands without directly ripping one off outright. If you enjoy your death metal laden with unexpected twists and turns, check these guys out.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nortt/Xasthur,"Split CD" (Southern Lord)
Nortt and Xasthur are two prominent underground black metal artists who weave intricate atmospheres of darkness and despair into their blends of extreme music, aptly shown on this seven-track split. Up first is Denmark's Nortt, whose bleak dissonance and ominous aura bleeds all over these four tracks. After you take the cap off the pill bottle, be prepared for Xasthur's texturally rich ambiance and mellow, yet overpowering waves of intensity. And, if you're not on suicide watch by the end of this disc, congratulations to you for surviving some of the most depressing music out there today.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bosio,"This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things" (Indie Release)
Bosio is a rock band that sound like much of the output hitting the Warped Tour this year, only a tad heavier and a smidgeon less annoying. This Milwaukee quartet's three-song sampler is slickly produced, passionately performed, and craftily written, yet there's something about Bosio that comes off as insincere. Is it their Bert McCracken-esque vocals, or is it the Story of the Year meets Fall Out Boy choruses? Dunno, but whatever it is may propel this band to pin-up heroes, as they have all of the right nuances in place to go places.
www.simplybosio.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hollow Ground,"Cold Reality" (Organized Crime)
Winnipeg, Canada's bruising clan Hollow Ground's latest six-track release is a subtle shot of metallic hardcore that is short in length (12:31 to be exact), yet just long enough for you to get injured really bad to. Featuring some of the most scathing vocals this side of Hatebreed, chugging riffs that illicit violence, and a thunderous rhythm section that holds it all down, tracks like "Final Words" and "Torn To Pieces" are succinct in both message and damage caused by the whiplashed breakdowns. If you dig your hardcore menacing, Hollow Ground delivers.
www.organizedcrimerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dispatched,"Terrorizer" (Crash)
Morphing black and Swedish metal into one continuous entity, the Swedish quintet Dispatched's latest endeavor is a 10-track metal experiment gone well. Produced by Anders Friden of In Flames, tracks like "Override" and "Cyber" borrow liberally from their producer's back catalog, yet tracks like "Wicked Dreams" rear a more keyboard-tinged, galloping metal attack that sounds like a cross between Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir. Interesting when experimenting, and solid when keeping it heavy, Dispatched's latest release tightly gels two of metal's more intricate styles together.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Infidel? Castro!,"Bioentropic Damage Fractal" (Crucial Blast)
This disc is not for the faint of heart. Infidel? Castro! is a duo whose warped musical minds have spilled out all over this twin-disc collection. BIOENTROPIC DAMAGE FRACTAL is the name of this unsettling array of electronic ambient noise rock, and it is as ambitious and adventurous as anything you can imagine. Spastic, raging, and all together challenging, you either need a doctorate in engineering or some potent drugs to get what these guys are giving.
www.crucialblast.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Stutterfly,"And We Are Bled of Color" (Maverick)
Stutterfly suffers from an oversaturation of the genre in which they belong, otherwise, this 13-track disc would be burning up the charts. Sadly, we already have so many of these type of nu angry acts flooding the market (Trust Company, The Used, Story of the Year, etc.), so this Canadian quintet won't get as much credit as they deserve for their cascading melodies, or moody interludes like "Fire Whispers". With that being said, the high-pitched lead vocals do get irritating at times, yet a solid guitar attack and arena rock hooks galore do keep AND WE ARE BLED OF COLOR afloat long after the last chord of "Flames Adorn the Silence".
www.maverick.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mike Verna,"Farrah" (Indie Release)
Very wild and slightly trippy techno-pop with a d.i.y. punk edge. This cd will get your full attention right away. It’s a bit like Beck in a way only edgier. “When You Gonna Make The Change” sounds half Beck, half John Lennon. I’m sure I’m not making much sense here but it’s pretty much a whole new animal to me. What I can tell you is that I enjoyed it from beginning to end and the songs are very catchy and all the hooks work like a charm but other than that your just going to have to see for yourself. Verna has some mp3s on his website listed below. Trust me, its well worth checking out.
www.mikeverna.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


David Levin,"Stepping On My Hat" (Indie Release)
The former Screaming Yahoos guitarist delivers with “Stepping On My Hat”, an album full of R.E.M. style pop rockers with slightly meatier vocals and a little edgier stance. Think of the Police fronted by Dave Matthews. My favorite track is “How Could You?” with its heavy handed guitar playing that brings to mind Gang Of Four guitarist Andy Gill. Other standout tracks are “Demolition Boy”, “We’re Okay, For Humans” and the title track. I’d like to see Levin rock a little harder but all in all this is a pretty great release so I won’t complain.
www.davidlevin.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The PB Army,"Spine for the Snapback" (Sin Klub)
The PB Army is an eclectic outfit whose love of all things rock is obvious based on the outfit's latest 13-track barnburner. Juggling from caustic hard rock to meandering stoner grooves to fist-pumping arena shuffles, this trio (whose drummer doubles as lead vocalist) bring the rawk spirit front and center and in turn, let it all hang out, and provide the perfect soundtrack for a Saturday night kegger in the process.
www.sinklub.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Overmars,"Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo" (Candlelight)
French weirdoes Overmars are not your typical heavy band, even though at times their merger of lush soundscapes embellished with drizzles of hardcore, Goth rock, ambient metal, and crushing doom may make them sound like one. This septet bring out the gloom and doom without shame, digging deep down to flesh out some of the most adventurous apocalyptic rock on the landscape today. Tracks like "Buccolision” finds the group shifting from a lonely piano to a ripping cacophony of sound in the matter of minutes, only one example of Overmars' staunch lack of convention. This disc keeps you on your toes and your senses on overload throughout the entire 70-minute mission, so if a penchant for the wild has led you to bands like Isis and Converge in the past, allow Overmars to continue the trend.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ichabod,"Reaching Empyrean" (Black Locust)
Ichabod’s second sojourn into the sun is titled REACHING EMPYREAN, and the six tracks adorning this disc are swirling pieces of savory mid-tempo stoner rock. There’s a whole lot of dirge-y, droning melodies here to keep the mood dark and brooding, and the sludge factor from the rhythm section is right on point. Sounding like The Melvins, Trouble, and some early NWOBHM can never be a bad thing, and Ichabod succeeds on tracks like “Succubus” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” by invoking all of those band’s spirits without directly ripping off any of them. Keeping it slower and lower than many of their contemporaries, Ichabod’s caustic musical offering is welcoming to riff-worshippers and purveyors of the pummeling sounds of stoner rock everywhere.
www.blacklocustent.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Future Kings of England,"The Future Kings of England" (Backwater Records)
With a heavy dose of MEDDLE-era Pink Floyd, The Future Kings of England deliver a psychedelic-jam of epic proportions, albeit in an instrumental-only fashion. That’s the only problem I see – without vocals, their music sounds like Pink Floyd’s soundtrack works. Not that that is a bad thing – these guys definitely have the chops musically. You could probably even fool a few by telling them that these are unreleased Floyd tracks. But, in my opinion you need vocals to go to the next level guys! Unless you want to be the next Tangerine Dream.
www.thefuturekingsofengland.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Gordon B. Isnor,"Creatures All Tonight" (Lord Sir Skronk Records)
Folk electronica? Gordon B. Isnor combines both these styles to a very fascinating result. Some of the songs sound like almost-hits of the 1980's, especially "Always Come Back", which sounds like a mix of Tom Petty and Human League! His blend of styles shows that not everyone that delves into the past should be automatically labelled "retro". Gordon B. Isnor is the exception to the "retro" rule. A great diversion from bland, ordinary indie music!
gordon.superlovestarpower.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Black Label Society,"Mafia" (Artemis)
The veritable Zakk Wylde returns with yet another solid display of biker boogie on the latest Black Label Society adventure, the 14-track MAFIA. Bursting with riffs that solidify Wylde’s status as guitar hero, tracks like “Suicide Messiah” and “Been a Long Time” allow the virtuoso guitarist’s roughneck vocals and dazzling dirty fretwork the chance to grab you by the throat, while the tender “In This River” (dedicated to Zakk’s fallen friend Dimebag Darrell) showcases the southern rock roots of BLS. Never disappointing and always on point, MAFIA once again finds BLS going the Motorhead and AC/DC route, giving the people what they want; some honest, no frills hard rock done with soulful conviction.
www.blacklabelsociety.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Closenuf,"Closenuf" (Wreckords)
Closenuf is a NYC outfit whose middle of the road approach to rock is suitable for all ages, based on the outfit’s 15-track disc. Sounding like a cross between Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Billy Joel, and Grand Funk Railroad, this quintet’s pristine sound and stellar performances shine on tracks like the hypnotic “At Night” and the atmospheric “All the Same”. Aimed with a lighter approach, and armed with accomplished musicians whose musical prowess harkens back to the days of the soft rock of the ‘70s, Closenuf is a band that you and your older relatives would probably agree on.
www.closenuf.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ghost Orgy,"Lullabies For Lunatics" (Indie Release)
If Concrete Blonde, Dead Can Dance, and Lacuna Coil joined forces, the end result would probably sound like the spooky dissonance of New Jersey’s Ghost Orgy. This unit’s 12-track effort’s unsettling nature is exemplified by the use of viola, which creaks in and out of tracks like “Bogota” and “Nothing” with eerie reservations. Laden with mid-tempo guitar churnings and emblazoned with an empowered female lead throat, Ghost Orgy’s latest release instantaneously chills the bones and gives off that uneasy feeling that any good horror flick would.
www.ghostorgy.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Donnybrook,"Lions in this Game" (Hand of Hope)
Los Angeles hardcore troupe Donnybrook pounds out 12 tracks in 26 minutes on LIONS IN THIS GAME, giving the grizzled fans of windmills and breakdowns all of the tough guy ammunition needed to survive. Emulating acts like Madball and Terror, this quintet keep the pace brisk, the songs short and tight, and the aggression level clipped, as songs like “Purify” and the venomous “House of Rage” are surefire moshpit triumphs, and should assist Donnybrook in winning hardcore peeps over coast to coast.
www.handofhoperecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Orion,"The Sound and the Fury" (Hotfoot)
Orion comes from the same breeding ground as Taking Back Sunday and Glassjaw (that’s Long Island, NY, by the way), and the quintet’s sounds just as you’d expect. Screamo meets emo with dashes of metallic fury, songs like “Burial At Sea” sounds like a VFW hall in Hicksville at a Saturday all-ages matinee, with a dosage of Thursday’s gut wrench and Thrice’s twin guitar bedazzlement. The outfit’s five-track endeavor showcases a band fortified with a strong sense of dynamics, as well as the right sound and stunning performance skills to run with the Warped Tour pack.
www.hotfootrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Katie Davis,"Terrible, Terrible" (Indie Release)
With only 4 songs on this disc, it is truly hard to judge Katie Davis. What does stand out is the terrific guitar work and of course Katie’s voice – it is truly mesmerizing and even transcendent. The songs are only o.k. - but they don’t seem to do justice to that voice! The best being “She Hates Love Songs” (love that title!). A great look at possible brilliance if she gets the right songs. Way better than your average singer-songwriter!
www.katiedavis.us
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Joe Songwriter,"Live-Perfectly Imperfect" (Indie Release)
Apart from the pretentious name, Joe “Songwriter”, what sets this guy apart from all the thousands of folk writers/performers? The whiny vocals grate on you like a constipated Cat Stevens, making the songs hard to sit through. The guitar playing is good but not outstanding, and that’s the only redeeming part of this CD. There is absolutely nothing else which makes Joe Songwriter’s music stand up above all the others playing folk. Just how many Jim Croce wannabees does the world need?
www.joesongwriter.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Our rating system:

Flawless...
Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
Slightly redeaming...
Worthless piece of $#%@...
Extremely BAD! Should be illegal to possess...

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Note: mp3 "albums" count as CD's. All reviewed collections are CD's unless tagged with the following images:

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