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Applications are still open for contrib and staff positions for those wishing to climb the proverbial Sputnik ranks. If you have a vested interest in writing about music, are a respectable and friendly member of the community, and have no idea what I mean when I say mezz crew, then head on over here to submit your applications.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 17th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

36 Crazyfists – Time & Trauma (Spinefarm Records)
The Amazing – Picture You (PTKF)
Anthony Naples – Body Pill (Text Records)
Black Rivers – Black Rivers (Ignition Records) – SowingSeason
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth – Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (Neurot Recordings)
Colin Hay – Next Year People (Compass Records)
Elle King – Love Stuff (RCA)
Estelle – True Romance (BMG Rights Management)
Ibeyi – Ibeyi (XL Records)
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors (Interscope Records)
José González- Vestiges & Claws (Mute)
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat Records)
Kate Pierson – Guitars & Microphones (+180 Records)
Kodaline – Coming Up For Air (RCA Records)
Letts – Hold Fast (Vagrant Records)
Lyal Strickland – Balanced On Barbed Wire (Self released)
The Mavericks – Mono (Valory)
Mourn – Mourn (Captured Tracks)
Nedelle Torrisi – Advice From Paradise (Ethereal Sequence)
A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixation (Dead Oceans)
Six Organs Of Admittance…


As an indirect prelude to the ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column that is set to break the internet mid-week, here are the first 2 tracks to be heard from Florence and The Machine’s third LP ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’. To be released on June-1, it follows the critically acclaimed releases ‘Lungs’ and ‘Ceremonials’. First up is the title track, which is predominantly instrumental and very orchestral. It sounds like the perfect album opener to me:

However, a closer look at the track-listing for this much-anticipated 11 track release suggests that it actually slots in as the 3rd tune of the album. That feels a little strange to me, but until we hear the (pardon the pun) flow of the LP, then I’m happy to take a “wait-and-see” approach. What we do know is that it will immediately follow the lead single ‘What Kind of Man’. This one’s got everything; an alluring build-up, hooky guitar riff, blaring horns and those oh so passionately soaring vocals that have become a staple of Ms. Welch… and the video even has boobs:


Seriously, the world has gone fucking mad! If it wasn’t enough that Tenacious D just won a Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’, it has just been announced that Australia has been allowed to enter the Eurovision Song Contest this year. That’s right, the EUROvision Song Contest. Never mind the 16 hour flight it takes to get there. Upon first hearing the news, I immediately thought that the organizers of the event had done a Jim Carrey:

I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised, since the reigning winner of this cheesy contest is Conchita Wurst / Thomas Neuwirth; a bearded, umm, person from (ironically) Austria. Talk about opening the proverbial can of worms; while supposedly a “one-off initiative to mark the contest’s 60th anniversary”, we could one day have a Eurovision Song Contest without a European nation taking part! Of course, the only reason why the participating countries are relevant anyway, is for them to vote along political lines to the point of predictability. And the best thing about the contest itself is the hilariously demeaning voice-over commentary.

So the next step is for Australia to choose an entrant, and the mainstream media are all over it in asking for possibilities. Sadly, it’s the usual dross that’s put up for discussion; which basically amounts to Kylie Minogue or any one of a number of young female reality show contestants. Some bright spark, however, has taken it upon themselves to think outside of the box and put…


Oh, you knew it was coming… And who better to talk about heavy freaking metal than yours truly? How about those youngsters Def Leppard burning up the scene right now! Seriously, anyone would think that I was a NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) member and took part in the voting this year myself. For the two of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, let me inform you that Tenacious D just beat out Anthrax, Mastodon, Motorhead and Slipknot to win the ‘Best Metal Performance’ Grammy award. Yes, that Tenacious D; the fat bald guy and the comedian who starred in that film ‘School of ROCK’ (or was it ‘School of Metal’)!?

Of course, this isn’t the first time that this category has received backlash. Back in 1988 when the award was called ‘Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance’, aging Brits Jethro Tull beat out Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’… A result which prompted audible booing from the audience, an infamous magazine advertisement (right) and Lars Ulrich actually making people laugh 4 years later with his “I’d like to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year” quip. Just to confuse matters further, this hybrid award made a return to the Grammys three or four years back. Understandably, it was booted again rather quickly, but one has to wonder if it made any difference in light of recent happenings.

For anyone wondering, Tenacious D’s award-winning effort was a song called…


Applications are still open for contrib and staff positions for those wishing to climb the proverbial Sputnik ranks. If you have a vested interest in writing about music, are a respectable and friendly member of the community, and have no idea what I mean when I say mezz crew, then head on over here to submit your applications.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 10th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Adolescents – La Vendetta… È Un Piatto Che Va Servito Freddo (Frontier Records)
Adrenaline Mob – Dearly Departed (Century Media)
Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses (Rounder)
Blacklisted – When People Grow, People Go (Deathwish Inc.)
Caught On Tape – Full Bleed (Northern Spy Records)
The Districts – A Flourish And A Spoil (Fat Possum)
The Dreaming – Rise Again (Metropolis Records)
Fat Mike – Home Street Home (Fat Wreck Chords)
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop Records)
Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds (Scarlet Records)
JD McPherson – Let The Good Times Roll (Rounder)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons (Mexican Summer)
Johan Agebjorn – Notes (Paper Bag)
Joker – Mainframe (Kapsize)
Knifight – V (KnifightMusic)
Marduk – Frontschwein (Century Media) – Kyle Ward
Martin Sexton – Mixtape Of The Open Road (Kitchen Table)
Neal Morse – The Grand Experiment (Metal Blade)
Retox – Beneath California (Epitaph)
Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow…





A big part of why I review music here on Sputnik lies in my desire to introduce little known bands to a wider audience every now and again (and to get introduced to other lesser-known bands myself). Saudi-Arabian black/folk metallers Al-Namrood definitely fit into that “little-known” category, and from today up until Friday the 13th, Sputnikmusic has an exclusive chance to stream their upcoming EP, titled Ana Al Tughian, which will see the light of day also on the 13th via Canadian label Shaytan Productions. As can be expected already by reading where they’re from, Al-Namrood sound nothing like the Western metal we’ve become accustomed to. There’s real oriental flare, theatrics, and an alien quirkiness on this short EP that makes it seem like it’s from another world entirely to a Westerner like me. Especially helpful in making it sound so different are new frontman Humbaba’s vocals, which seem downright bizarre at first, but on repeated listenings prove an invaluable part of the Al-Namrood experience. As a whole, Ana Al Tughian sounds almost like a soundtrack to an Arabian festivity in the same way Mechina’s albums sound like soundtracks to space epics: with a lot more guitars incorporated. As a unique listening experience, Al Namrood’s newest EP is surely worth 12 minutes of your time.

The stream has ended!


Al-Namrood Facebook
Al-Namrood homepage
Shaytan Productions bandcamp



Late night talk shows have always been good for a casual watch. They’re usually entertaining for the most part, even if the topics of discussion are no deeper than drunk guys arguing the Jordan vs LeBron debate. With guests from all walks of life (sport, movies, television, music, politics, etc…) conversations are at least varied enough to not bore viewers to sleep. Most of these talk shows will include a musical guest playing 1 or 2 songs from whatever album they are selling at the time. However, if the musical act is not sufficiently well-known, they can occasionally feel like a time-filling hindrance; Simply there to fulfil some kind of structural obligation.

Of late, however, that seems to have changed to some extent… And thankfully for the music industry, it’s for the better. I’m no expert – or religious viewer – but it may have been ever since Sauturday Night Live alumni Jimmy Fallon joined the talk show host ranks, and happened to bring along with him a genuine musical act in The Roots as his studio band. Furthermore, Fallon has deftly integrated comedy and entertainment into the music which appears on his show, whether via impersonation, surprise guests or otherwise. I’ve already blogged about his fantastic Neil Young impression in the past.

Well, it seems that Conan O’Brien is now (literally) getting in on the act by uniting tv (himself), movies (Jeff Bridges) & music (Slash) in the one performance! With Bridges a guest on the…


He goes missing and then in the space of a couple of days he writes a review and a blog post. Yeah, that’s just me. Plus, I wasn’t missing, I was just lurking like the Aussie stalker that I am… Keeping an eye on how you’ve all been behaving. It comes in handy come promotion application time, you know!? Speaking of, the staff at Sputnik Towers were finally released by the overlord Jom (his torture tactics were actually quite pleasurable, but the lack of beer did us in) and once we reconvened, it was decided that we’d try to liven up the blog. So here’s yours truly throwing something at the wall and seeing what sticks.

There is one catch though… It’s called “Sputnik Discusses” for a reason and needs YOUR help to keep it going and keep me motivated (Otherwise, I would have titled it “Davey Discusses”, which just sounds overly pretentious). So if you’ve got a thought, experience, list, ranking or whatever on the relevant topic being discussed, then don’t be shy… Fire away. Again, you just never know who is stalking your contributions to the site and what it may mean for your climb up the tower!

We all know that music (whether scored or soundtracked) has always played a large role in motion pictures. The same can be said to a lesser extent on the small screen, but seems to have become much more prevalent – and integral – over the past decade. Whether it’s…


Welcome back!

Remember that applications are currently open for both contributor and staff positions on the site. If you’re interested and feel as if you have what it takes, then head on over to the application thread here and sell yourself to us! Not in a literal sense of course though… *

*There’s a different thread for that

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 3rd, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Big Noble – First Light (Affiliates Sound)
Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror (Nuclear Blast America)
Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night (Columbia)
Breakfast In Fur – Flyaway Garden (Bar/None Records)
Butch Walker – Afraid Of Ghosts (Dangerbird Records)
Chip Z’Nuff – Strange Time (Cleopatra)
The Church – Further Deeper (+180 Records)
Diana Krall – Wallflower (Verve Music Group)
Fifth Harmony – Reflection (Syco Music/Epic)
John Carpenter – Lost Themes (Sacred Bones Records)
John Tejada – Signs Under Test (Kompakt)
Kid Ink – Full Speed (RCA)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee (Constellation)
Mount Eerie – Sauna (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Murder By Death – Big Dark Love (Bloodshot Records)
Ricked Wicky – I Sell The Circus (Guided By Voices)
TeeFlii – Starr (Epic)
Title Fight – Hyperview (Anti)
Two Gallants – We Are Undone (ATO Records)
Victor Villarreal – Sleep Talk (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Yesterday’s Saints – Generation Of Vipers (Draconum Records)…


10. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Official Site // Spotify // Facebook

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Stream: ‘Carissa’ (6:55)

The fact Mark Kozelek’s “dispute” with The War on Drugs has overshadowed Benji in press coverage speaks volumes for how fucking stupid it was, but at least it proved Mark doesn’t hold anything back. When he spends an album fearing, thinking about and reflecting on death you know he means it; when he says sorry to the kid he punched in high school you know he means it; when he explains how terrified he is of losing his mother you damn well know he means it.

And that’s what makes Benji so special. In his long-winded, meandering way, Mark has exposed himself to the world without a thought of how the world might react. The album doesn’t lose impact over time because there is nothing to be cynical about: nothing to see through. This is it, and it is sad, but with one line at the end of ‘Michellene’ Mark manages to remind us not to worry, because there is always each other. — Jonny

9. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

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Stream: ‘Rattlesnake’ (3:36)

Perhaps the most frequent justification for a record being self-titled is that it signifies a definitive statement; a culmination of all that’s great…


30. La Dispute – Rooms Of The House

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Stream: ‘Woman (Reading)’ (3:30)

La Dispute’s third full length release sees the bands continually shying away from their flashy post hardcore roots, instead focusing on cohesiveness, both musically and lyrically. And while Rooms of the House has been met with mixed critical reception, it personally seems clear that this record is one of the better efforts La Dispute have put forth, as this record strikes the perfect balance between harmonic brashness and quiet contemplation. While Rooms of the House’s subject matter regarding loss of love is nothing new to Jordan Dreyer and company, the approach to such a topic vastly differentiates itself from past albums, telling the story of a couple falling out of love, but mixing in real life locations and referencing past songs on the album. And while this approach to songwriting is not immediately rewarding, the intricacies found on tracks such as ‘Woman (Reading)’ or ‘Stay Happy There’ make revisiting this album a pleasant and necessary experience. — Alex T.

29. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

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Stream: ‘Back To The Shack’ (3:05)

Of all the emotions that fell out upon listening to Everything


50. Gates – Bloom And Breathe

Official Site // Spotify // Facebook

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Stream: ‘Not My Blood’ (5:56)

Many have taken to calling Gates “Thrice with post rock”, which, while meant as a compliment in most cases, does a massive disservice to what they’ve created with Bloom and Breathe.  Gates have crafted a deeply affecting and unique album which deserves to be heard on its own merits – not by way of piggybacking or association with the now deceased (or not??) post hardcore band. Bloom and Breathe’s swirling melodies make a foundation which allows for huge moments, placed in such a way that allows for it to wash over, creating a sense of catharsis. So much more than the sum of their parts, Gates have put together something special with their sophomore release. They may not have been on too many radars before 2014, but over 50-minutes they prove themselves to be a must-listen. — Josh Fountain

49. Manners – Pale Blue Light

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Stream: ‘Binge’ (2:29)

Manners so perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to be depressed, alone, and under the influence; it’s kind of scary. There’s a connection that’s felt with the members of Manners through their music; like these guys aren’t just dudes that make catchy…


10. Cult Leader – Nothing For Us Here

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Stream: ‘Skin Crawler’ (2:52)

What happens when your lead singer is accused of a heinous crime and the event begins to overshadow your music and message? It was quite simple for the remaining members of Gaza as they moved their sound literally from one band to another.  Gaza’s three remaining musicians took no time in re-establishing their grind influenced hardcore in Cult Leader on their introduction EP Nothing For Us Here with a new singer (who sounds exactly like the accused singer of Gaza).  Even the title doesn’t stray far from the Gaza hate-fueled lyrical themes that studied political and religious crimes against the world. Looking at the EP itself, ‘God’s Lonely Children’ is a feedback drenched intro that helps rocket the next four tracks into warped, off-kilter grinding riffs and metalcore beatdowns that will surely please anyone looking for an intense, yet interesting take on hardcore.  It’s not until ‘Driftwood’ where we can finally breathe and allow ourselves to pick up our teeth and take in the glorious use of slow dynamics, showcasing a brooding melody that ends up knocking us to the ground. Fans of Gaza, you need not worry because we now have the mighty Cult Leader. — Karl V.H.

9. xSPONGEXCOREx – How Tough Are Yah?


The temperature was rapidly falling, dipping well below 0° Fahrenheit, with the wind chill shooting even further into the negatives as the tall buildings lining Main St. in Worcester, MA funneled the stiff wind down the street’s narrow corridor. Fitting weather for a metal show, indeed. In fact, New England seems to always conjure up something interesting to welcome Swedish melodic death metal titans Dark Tranquillity to the area, as last February when they played the very same venue it so happened to dump 2 feet of snow only a few hours after the show ended. This time there wasn’t any snow, just an icy chill that signaled not only Dark Tranquillity’s presence, but also the long-awaited return of Insomnium to North America. I missed their last stop in New England in 2007 when they played at a now-shut strip club in my home state of New Hampshire to support Above the Weeping World, so seven years later I certainly wasn’t going to miss this tour.

It’s arguably the greatest melodic death metal duo in the world, making this tour arguably the greatest melodic death metal tour ever, so I eagerly awaited the show. Before the doors opened at 6:30 I walked a few blocks down the street to the local pizza place to get something to eat, and to my giddy dismay I recognized two familiar faces as soon as I walked in the door. Insomnium vocalist Niilo Sevänen and guitarist Markus Vanhala were sampling some mediocre, greasy…



It was the 5th of December. A rather warm (for December), reticent evening was taking shape in Tallinn – uncharacteristically quiet even. It wasn’t a harbinger of things to come though, not for me at least, as in a few hours, Finnish melancholic metallers Ghost Brigade and their supporting cast would light up the stage over at rockclub Tapper, making sure some highly season-fitting dark music was heard that night. It’s not every day you get to actually meet one of your favorite bands, much less develop a conversation with them for a good thirty minutes. That’s exactly the kind of break I caught though, and what follows is what transpired during our chat. It should be noted that the interview was done at a great little Mexican bar called Ancho in Tallinn’s Old Town, and that everything but the time it took place was more or less improvised. That was the intention all along though, so instead of reading out aloud questions carefully constructed in the safety of home’s walls, what is transcribed here was originally a rather free-flowing, hey-i’d-like-to-learn-more-about-you-guys conversational interview with Wille Naukkarinen (guitars) and Veli-Matti Suihkonen (drums). Ghost Brigade’s new album IV – One With The Storm was released on the 7th of November, and was one of my highlights of the year (while also peaking as the Finnish metal album of the year in their local Inferno magazine, and ending up #4 on Finnish critics’ all-genre end of the year list). Check out the…


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