Average Rating: 3.31
Rating Variance: 0.48
Objectivity Score: 81% (Well Balanced)
Sort by: Rating | Release Date | Rating Date | Name5.0 classicArcade Fire FuneralArcade Fire's influential 'Funeral' is the landmark when it comes to a greater widespread acceptance of indie rock. From the front half's heartfelt & personal concept to the latter half's captivating diversity, the affecting & ultimately inspiring lyrical symbolism makes it an exquisite & compelling listen. The effortlessly layered melodies emanating from a multitude of instruments & vocal techniques are deceptively catchy, while the ambitiously grand & cinematic crescendos are extremely memorable. That one of the best albums of the decade turned out to be a debut LP is a phenomenal accomplishment. Recommended Tracks: Crown of Love, Wake Up, Power Out, Rebellion (Lies) & Laika.Def Leppard HysteriaSetting new standards in remaining loyal to a band member by retaining one-armed drummer Rick Allen, Def Leppard released their biggest & best album in 1987s 'Hysteria'. Containing the greatest 4 song sequence in musical history, the glam stomp of 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' is ably backed up by power ballad 'Love Bites', rocker 'Animal' and the harmonized vocals of 'Armageddon It'. While the 2nd side does not quite match up, it still betters similar tracks from phenomenal predecessor 'Pyromania'. Enduring, influential and a classic in every sense, 'Hysteria' is quite simply one of the greatest albums of all time! Recommended Tracks: Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites, Animal, Armageddon It & Hysteria.Emery ...In Shallow Seas We SailAfter ruffling a few feathers on 2007's 'I'm Only A Man', Emery do more than return to form on their 4th LP '...In Shallow Seas We Sail'... They deliver the album of 2009 & one of the finest post-hardcore releases ever! A much more mature & polished outfit than in their formative years, they craft each song with a strong attention to detail. Containing absolutely no filler, each track has multiple hooks, yet there is still a raw & passionate feel to it all. The dueling clean vocals & intricate yet melodic guitar-work is especially impressive. Recommended Tracks: A Sin To Hold On To, The Smile The Face, Churches and Serial Killers, Cutthroat Collapse & Piggy Bank Lies.Living Colour VividLiving Colour's 'Vivid' not only contains one of the greatest songs of all time ('Cult of Personality'), but the combination of musical talent & original fusions of sound make the entire album truly classic. The quality of songwriting & musical diversity evident on 'Vivid' is akin to that of a veteran band, not one making their debut. Meshing the super-tight rhythm section with Vernon Reid's thrilling guitar-work & Corey Glover's striking vocals, 'Vivid' is not only an even & consistently impressive LP that should appeal to a wide audience, but it is one which has stood the test of time. Recommended Tracks: Cult Of Personality, Open Letter (To A Landlord), Desperate People, Middle Man & Which Way To America?Metallica MetallicaFollowing their most ambitiously complex release yet, Metallica bravely switch tack on their self-titled 5th LP - more commonly known as 'The Black Album'. It pays off too; winning a Grammy award, selling 30+ million copies & rising to the top of the charts! Crisply produced by Bob Rock, the quartet's thrash-metal roots are divisively pared down in favor of a tight, groovy & melodic metal sound which influentially brought the genre into the mainstream. Any minor flaws can easily be forgiven for the sheer amount of classic tunes contained within. Recommended Tracks: Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Nothing Else Matters & Sad But True.Muse AbsolutionMuse's best album is an absorbing listen from start to finish, with the English trio wrapping the ambition of their previous LP within an accessible package. From the synth-heavy pseudo-opener to the hooky 'Time Is Running Out', & from Hysteria's killer riff to sublime motivational cut 'Butterflies & Hurricanes', it is all perfectly executed & without filler. Then there is 'Stockholm Syndrome', which coherently combines everything that is great about Muse. It's a tell-tale of the whole LP as they move effortlessly from frenetic hard rock to sparse ballads without missing a beat. As with all classic albums, many fantastic tracks undeservedly get forgotten on this huge step forward which is thoroughly recommended no matter what your taste in music! Rise Against The Sufferer and the Witness'The Sufferer & The Witness' is a sensational album which delivers energetic, passionate & accessible punk rock. Rise Against have achieved the difficult task of not selling out their origins, yet furthering all facets of their music to become a little more mainstream through improved production levels and choruses. It is often difficult not to shout along with lead vocalist Tim McIlrath or be drawn in by the extremely effective lyrics. With many highlight tracks, and what could be the best trio to "ever" close out an album, Rise Against deserve all the success they achieve following this release. Recommended Tracks: Survive, Ready To Fall, The Good Left Undone, Prayer of the Refugee, Drones & Roadside. Streetlight Manifesto Somewhere in the BetweenStreetlight Manifesto fans didn't think the ska punk ensemble could top their debut, but the septet have done so with 'Somewhere in the Between'. Refining their upbeat genre-leading formula, everything is tightened up, with barely a wasted second & absolutely no filler. The addictive horns return, as do the dynamic song arrangements & Tomas Kalnoky's engaging lyrics. With improved backing vocals & production, the infectious hooks are given a further shot of fun, making 'Somewhere in the Between' a crowd-pleasing classic. Recommended Tracks: The Receiving End of It All, Watch It Crash, Somewhere in the Between, Would You Be Impressed? & Down Down Down to Mephisto's Cafe. 4.5 superb12 Stones 12 StonesPlaying the kind of post-grunge/nu-metal hybrid that pro-wrestling fans love, young Louisiana bred outfit 12 Stones impress on their uplifting self-titled debut LP. While nowhere near ground-breaking, the quartet find the almost perfect balance of shouty agression & melodic hooks. Pretty much all tracks are ready for radio, yet many of them are also destined to be a release valve for some adolescent angst. While repetition does eventually set in, it is a by-product of an amazing consistency, since there is practically no filler whatsoever on this sincere & exciting release. Recommended Tracks: The Way I Feel, Broken, Fade Away, Crash & Home. Alkaline Trio CrimsonAfter a long career of consistently excellent albums, Alkaline Trio amazingly betters them all with 'Crimson'. While the LP is their most accessible & produced yet, it still contains all of the band's trademarks; dark clever lyrics, alternating vocals, catchy razor-sharp guitar riffs, propulsive drumming & fantastic bass-lines. The real surprise is the growth & experimentation on display, which sees elements such as keys & strings used successfully. If anything, placing its highlights at the beginning of the disc is Crimson's main flaw. Recommended Tracks: Dethbed, Burn, Time To Waste, Mercy Me & The Poison. Alter Bridge BlackbirdWell & truly leaving behind the Creed legacy, Alter Bridge forge forward on their 2nd LP 'Blackbird'. Continuing to play an aggressive form of hard-rock, the real strength of this Michael Baskette produced album is how much melody is incorporated into it. Mark Tremonti's driving riffs & exciting solos again stand out, but there is a sense of stronger song-writing from a cohesive band here... Especially on opener 'Ties That Bind' & the 8 minute title track. It may be a little overlong, but that doesn't stop 'Blackbird' from being a superb release & AOTY contender! Recommended Tracks: Ties That Bind, Blackbird, Come to Life, Before Tomorrow Comes & Break Me Down. Amy Macdonald This Is The LifeGorgeous, mesmerizing, ravishing, enchanting & stunning... And that's just Amy MacDonald's voice! At only 19 years of age, the talented Scottish singer-songwriter & guitarist has delivered a debut LP loaded with fantastic acoustic melodies. The musical backing (which also includes keys, strings & even trumpets) is predominantly upbeat, yet MacDonald's strong self-assured vocals seem effortless in keeping pace & delivering perceptive, mature lyrics. The infectious title-track & multi-faceted 'Let's Start A Band' are the highlights, yet there is absolutely no filler & practically every track has the potential to be released as a single.Anberlin CitiesThe first 3/4 of Anberlin's 3rd LP 'Cities' consolidates on its predecessor's excellence; up-tempo catchy rock highlighted by Stephen Christian's exceptional vocals & interesting lyrics. There is also the majestic acoustic ballad 'The Unwinding Cable Car', as well as an infusion of occasional synths. The final 3 tracks however, lift the album to a brilliance that one could never have imagined. First it is the gorgeous 'Inevitable', then the amazing 'Dismantle. Repair.', and finally, the breathtaking choir-assisted '(*Fin)' closes things off on the highest of highs and what may be the song of 2007. Wow... Just wow! Recommended Tracks: (*Fin), The Unwinding Cable Car, Dismantle. Repair., Godspeed & Inevitable.Anberlin New SurrenderWhile 'New Surrender' may not quite reach the individual heights of 'Cities', it is arguably more consistent with absolutely no filler. There are more of Stephen Christian's exceptional vocals & interesting lyrics, and more of Anberlin's up-tempo catchy rock. This time around, there may be more of an emphasis on the "catchy" side of things, with even a song about breaking hearts having a contagious upbeat feel to it. Yet, it is tracks 8-10 - a feel-good & uplifting trio of epic proportions - that really defines 'New Surrender' and makes it another winner from a dependable band that may be able to do no wrong. Recommended Tracks: Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights), Haight St., Disappear, Breaking & The Resistance.Anberlin Vital'Vital' is Anberlin's aptly titled 6th LP, where the dependable Floridian quintet return to producer Aaron Sprinkle to successfully capture the essence of their live sound on record. Explosive, energetic & passionate, this is heavy without sacrificing any of the band's melodic hooks. Stephen Christian's majestic vocals are matched by the blazing guitars & pounding drums, while the infusion of synth flourishes not only adds depth, but somehow assists the aggressive tone. From the tremendous opening one-two punch to the epic closer, this consistent LP is a supremely rewarding listen. Recommended Tracks: Little Tyrants, Self-Starter, Desires, Someone Anyone & Type Three.Arcade Fire The SuburbsDisplaying a deft balance of personal intimacy & grand accessibility, Arcade Fire deliver another superb LP with 'The Suburbs'. The Montreal septet include greater diversity & inspirations on this well produced & densely layered album where effortless melodies seemingly appear from nowhere. The absorbingly honest theme of questioning reminiscing, results in a mature (almost parental) LP which may not appeal to teens & should therefore age strongly. At 64 minutes it could have done with some editing, but otherwise 'The Suburbs' deservedly fuels more "world's best band" talk. Recommended Tracks: Ready to Start, The Suburbs, Sprawl II, Suburban War & We Used to Wait.Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am..."Anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment..." is an ironical opening lyric to the Arctic Monkey's debut LP. Thankfully, the hype surrounding these 4 teenagers is warranted, as this is an exemplary album that contains excellent songwriting & strangely charming vocals that combine near-perfectly with very good musicianship. It results in a great sound that will have you rocking, tapping your toes & singing along. Furthermore, this album is fun, which means it almost has a character to it in itself. Recommended Tracks: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, When The Sun Goes Down, The View From the Afternoon, Riot Van & Mardy Bum.Balance And Composure and Tigers Jaw Split CDContinuing to mature & improve, Balance and Composure have recorded 4 brilliant tracks for their split with fellow Pennsylvanian outfit Tigers Jaw. Displaying their usual affinity for quiet/loud dynamics, detailed song structures & climactic build-ups, the musically accomplished quintet continue to blur genre boundaries with their combination of punk, rock, indie & emo. Highlighted by raw, intense vocals that deliver emotion-packed lyrics, this deceptively melodic 18 minutes is as ambitious as it is passionate, and as varied as it is cohesive. With hardly a wasted moment, the sky is the limit for this exciting band. Recommended Tracks: All 4.Bayside BaysideOn their self-titled 2nd LP, Bayside take a huge step up from their debut. Subtly polishing up their sound while also retaining the raw edge, the Long Island quartet likewise tone down their morbidly self-loathing lyrics without eradicating their passion, relatability & descriptiveness. More importantly, 'Bayside' brings the hooks, with a succession of memorable sing-alongs & guitar lines that are extremely well-crafted to enhance lasting value. Sure, it's front-loaded, but that is because the 1st half is flawless! Recommended Tracks: Blame It On Bad Luck, Devotion and Desire, Montauk, Tortures of the Damned & They Looked Like Strong Hands.Billy Talent Billy TalentOnce Ben Kowalewicz's screeching vocals are overcome and any pop discrimination is put aside, there is too much on offer here throughout Billy Talent's self-titled debut LP to not enjoy it. Whether it is by the catchy choruses, relatable lyrics, fist-pumping sing-alongs, tight musicianship or all of the above, it is near impossible not to get hooked. Quite simply, this is one hell of a fun punk album. Recommended Tracks: Try Honesty, The Ex, Nothing To Lose, River Below & Line and Sinker.Birds Of Tokyo Universes'Universes' sees Birds Of Tokyo find their natural sound by taking the soaring melodies & guitar-driven hooks of their debut and building upon them with greater atmospheric soundscapes & punchier vocals. The first half of the LP is likely to contain the album's singles with a number of polished & catchy songs. The latter half sees the band lean much more towards the experimental & progressive. It all results in one hell of an enjoyable listen that proves Birds Of Tokyo are no longer a side-project. Recommended Tracks: Silhouettic, Broken Bones, Wild Eyed Boy, Armour For Liars & Head In My Hands.City and Colour Sometimes'Sometimes' is the impressive debut LP under the City and Colour moniker for Alexisonfire singer/guitarist Dallas Green. As side-projects go, this may top them all, with the Canadian seamlessly moving from hectic post-hardcore to calming acoustic pop-rock. With only sporadic glimpses of keys, strings & percussion, this isn't much more than an acoustic guitar & Green's voice... But what a majestic voice it is, as it lulls you into Dallas' heartfelt world of love & loss. And while there is a lack of variety, the songs are strong enough to make up for that. Recommended Tracks: Hello I'm In Delaware, Comin' Home, Save Your Scissors, Sometimes (I Wish) & Sam Malone. Conditions Full of WarRecalling heavier Anberlin, under-rated Virginian band Conditions step up on their 2nd LP 'Full of War'. Losing nothing for guitarist Jason Marshall's departure, the quartet deliver more explosive & passionate rock that contains impressive vocals & relatable lyrics. Hard-hitting drums & soaring guitar lines punctuate consistently anthemic choruses, and while some excursions into mainstream-rock need work, they are still strong & add variety. Considering that Conditions raised funds to have this LP released, one can only hope that 'Full of War' solidifies the band's future. Recommended Tracks: Skeleton, Love Elusive, Every Day Is a New Life, Descent of Man & Walking Separate Ways.Def Leppard PyromaniaWhile showing more than a few snippets of potential on 'High N Dry', it was on the influential 'Pyromania' where Def Leppard and producer "Mutt" Lange reset the boundaries of how accessible metal can be. Equally filled with tight musicianship, infectious melodies and anthemic choruses, the use of layers of harmonized backing vocals is especially impressive on this LP which contains barely a filler track. Thoroughly recommended to pretty much anyone... No matter what their taste in music is. Recommended Tracks: Photograph, Rock Of Ages, Foolin', Too Late For Love & Rock Rock (Till You Drop).Fanfarlo ReservoirFollowing a string of singles, the debut LP from London-based chamber-pop/indie-folk outfit Fanfarlo doesn't disappoint. Self-released, yet expertly produced by Peter Katis, 'Reservoir' impressively finds a familiar & accessible middle ground between heavy-hitters Arcade Fire, Beirut & Grizzly Bear! Think of an instrument & it's probably here, as lush, soaring orchestral arrangements merge with prominent horns, folksy flourishes & a superb rhythm section, to create a series of glorious, meticulously crafted melodies. Consistent & without filler, this is an outstanding achievement. Recommended Tracks: Ghosts, Harold T Wilkins, The Walls Are Coming Down, I'm A Pilot & Fire Escape.Fightstar One Day Son This Will All Be YoursNot resting on their laurels, Fightstar mature & progress on 'One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours'. Another consistent effort, this LP continues to prove that the English quartet are experts at combining raw aggression & slick melodies. This time however, they do so in a more diverse & ambitious fashion. From the Muse-like piano & synths of 'Floods' to the strings of 'You & I', and from the full on metal of 'Deathcar' to the perfectly placed female vocals of the closing ballad, this is one hell of a satisfying release. Recommended Tracks: Floods, Unfamiliar Ceilings, I Am the Message, Deathcar and You & I.Fightstar Be HumanFightstar deliver another ambitious LP with 'Be Human', this time adding orchestral arrangements to their blend of aggression & melody. It works a treat, giving the album a cinematic feel that proves the quartet's songwriting maturity. Diversity also exists; ranging from the offbeat ('Whisperer') to pop ('Mercury Summer'), and from dance-rock ('Tonight We Burn') to metal ('Damocles'). Without a filler track, it is the anthemic 'The English Way' & epic 'War Machine' which stand out, the latter's chill-inducing finale being the musical moment of 2009! Recommended Tracks: War Machine, The English Way, Colours Bleed To Red, Whisperer & Chemical Blood.Florence and the Machine CeremonialsBringing along her soaring, ethereal voice, flame-haired Florence Welch leads her Machine back for their 2nd LP 'Ceremonials'. Unapologetically more sumptuous & grandiose than its captivating predecessor, the usual cavalcade of instruments & fantastic rhythms are once more evident. More cohesive than 'Lungs', Paul Epworth's huge-sounding production initially muffles diversity & lacks restraint, but 'Ceremonials' turns out to be a real grower. It is ultimately a winner too, due to its bewitching nature, stirring highlights, rousing climaxes & alluring vocals. Recommended Tracks: What The Water Gave Me, Shake It Out, Spectrum, No Light No Light & Heartlines.Foals Total Life ForeverThe greater ambition & maturity evident on Foals' 2nd album 'Total Life Forever' could not have been foreseen by anyone. While it may not be an especially immediate LP, its slow-burning qualities turn what initially may seem a little messy, into a satisfyingly cohesive release. From the measured beginning of opener 'Blue Blood' all the way through to tense closer 'What Remains', the Oxford quintet continuously take your breath away... No more so than on the 7 minute epic behemoth that is 'Spanish Sahara'; a bona fide song of the year contender. Recommended Tracks: Spanish Sahara, Blue Blood, This Orient, What Remains & 2 Trees.Foo Fighters The Colour and The Shape (Expanded)Foo Fighters The Colour and the ShapeOverall, the Foo Fighters have clearly aimed for wider appeal with their second release and achieved it successfully without selling their soul. More proficient and expansive than their self-titled debut, while also containing lyrical growth, 'The Colour and The Shape' shows a professional outfit at work as even the little things such as padding out 4+ minute songs is more efficient here. While there are a couple of misses on the album, they tend to be short and the strength of the highlight tracks more than make up for that. Quite simply, this is the Foo Fighters best LP. For more detail, see my review of the 10th anniversary edition of the album. Recommended Tracks: Everlong, Monkey Wrench, My Hero & Hey, Johnny Park!Franz Ferdinand Franz FerdinandJam-packed with fidgety angular guitar hooks, catchy sing-along choruses, witty satirical lyrics and harmonic vocal melodies, this is an exciting and vibrant debut album that consistently excels and contains no filler. Furthermore, through the band's charisma, it has that certain X-factor which one cannot help being wowed by. A deserving winner of the 2004 Mercury Music Prize and thoroughly recommended for listeners of all kinds of musical styles. Recommended Tracks: Take Me Out, Darts of Pleasure, Michael, The Dark of the Matinee & This Fire. Givers In LightNot renowned for indie-pop, Louisiana has produced an extremely promising talent for the genre in Lafayette's Givers. Their debut LP 'In Light' takes you on a trip around the musical world, with subtle Cajun & funk influences differentiating the band from the pack. With all 5 members being multi-instrumentalists & a brilliant boy/girl vocal dynamic, an expansive array of sounds & influences are apparent. Creative & experimental without sacrificing accessibility, 'In Light' is without filler & begs for repeated listens to explore its numerous layers, rhythms & melodies. Recommended Tracks: Meantime, Up Up Up, Atlantic, Noche Nada & Ceiling of Plankton. Jimmy Eat World Bleed AmericanThis album can best be described with 3 adjectives: "Catchy", "Sing-along" & "Memorable". Taking the more accessible aspects out of their previous very good LP 'Clarity' & amping them up a further notch, Jimmy Eat World lay their melodies over strong & often interesting instrumentation. There is arguably not one filler track amongst the 11 songs here and the variety of emotions & styles are impressive throughout. In fact, 'Bleed American' is quite simply the best of its kind in the pop-rock (or power-pop) genre. Recommended Tracks: Bleed American, Get It Faster, The Middle, Hear You Me & Sweetness. K Sera The CantosFollowing a promising - if inconsistent - debut EP, Sacramento rockers K Sera take a major step up on 'The Cantos'. Playing a genre-bending mix of everything from indie-pop to progressive rock, this eclectic - and mildly experimental - group own a satisfying penchant for theatricality that recalls 'Absolution' era Muse, The Dear Hunter & Panic At The Disco. Crunchy riffs, thunderous drums & spellbinding piano complement Mike Caswell's dynamic vocal range, while the band have a knack for melodic hooks. To top it all off, there isn't a bad track among these 7. Recommended Tracks: Young Forever, ...And So It Goes, Me Before Women and Children & Advice: Save Yourself.Lana Del Rey Born to DieUnder the pseudonym of Lana Del Rey, 25 year-old Elizabeth Grant makes a huge impact on her heavily hyped LP 'Born To Die'. Owning an alluring lower register, the dramatic singer-songwriter finds a captivating middle ground between modern & retro, as samples add a hip-hop flavor, while string arrangements give off a lush & cinematic baroque vibe. Both accessible & unique, the album may be front-loaded & contain some dubious lyrics, but it's just best to ignore the flaws & hype, and allow yourself to be drawn in by this magnetically sensual New Yorker. Recommended Tracks: Off To The Races, Born To Die, Video Games, National Anthem & Radio.Lana Del Rey Lana Del ReyUnder the pseudonym of Lana Del Rey, 25 year-old Elizabeth Grant makes quite an impact on her self-titled EP. Released 3 weeks before her heavily hyped 'Born To Die' LP, this 18 minute sneak-peek arguably contains the best 4 tracks from that album in a more appropriate order. Owning an alluring lower register, the singer-songwriter somehow manages to find a middle ground between modern & retro, as well as being both accessible & unique. Samples add a hip-hop flavor, while string arrangements give off a baroque vibe... It all results in a captivating appetizer to what will surely be a fruitful career. Recommended Tracks: Off To The Races, Born To Die & Video Games.Local Natives Gorilla ManorLA indie-rock quintet Local Natives seamlessly combine multiple components in brilliant fashion on their debut LP 'Gorilla Manor'. Sublimely executed, the band's hooky guitar lines, soaring vocal harmonies, lush strings, worldly percussion & terrific keys all play vital roles. Best of all is Matt Frazier's insistent, propulsive drumming which is pleasingly mixed front and center. Relatively catchy & accessible, song structures are still dynamic with many a tempo switch. The placement of the 4 singles may suggest front-loading, but this is extremely consistent with only the slower 'Cards & Quarters' resembling filler. Recommended Tracks: Sun Hands, Airplanes, Camera Talk & Wide Eyes. Lostprophets Start SomethingLostprophets refine everything that made their debut so hit & miss, and deliver an album of 2004 contender with 'Start Something'. From the energetic opener to the experimental closer, the Welsh sextet superbly balances aggression & melody. The turntable/synth components subtly complement the sound this time, while Ian Watkins goes from Mike Patton impersonator to one of the best vocalists going around. The anthemic 'Last Train Home' was the smash hit, but this fun, catchy & rocking LP is so deep that almost every song could have been one. Recommended Tracks: Last Train Home, Burn Burn, Make A Move, I Don't Know & We Still Kill the Old Way.Manchester Orchestra Simple MathAfter putting the "rock" back in indie-rock, Manchester Orchestra return in majestic fashion on 'Simple Math'. An even fuller sound is evident here, with intricately layered arrangements being complemented by a strings ensemble & occasional horns. Both within songs & between them, the balance of vulnerable intimacy & tense power is expertly crafted, with Andy Hull's intensely captivating vocals begging to be crooned, & then screamed, along to. With only the closer approaching filler, this is another superb & consistent release from this prolific & evolving Atlantan quintet. Recommended Tracks: Mighty, Simple Math, Virgin, Pale Black Eye & Pensacola.Mayday Parade A Lesson In RomanticsMayday Parade capitalize on the promise of their debut EP & follow it up with a sublime full-length release in 'A Lesson in Romantics'. Returning strengths are passionate dual vocals, catchy sing-alongs, song-writing depth & sincere lyrics, but the Floridians build on that with extra hooks, craftier melodies, slicker production, stronger guitar riffs & punchier drumming. Furthermore, the sextet prove their diversity with piano ballad 'Miserable At Best' suggesting there may be something beyond the pop-punk genre in the band's future. It all adds up to a suberb debut LP with no filler. Recommended Tracks: Miserable At Best, When I Get Home..., I'd Hate To Be You..., Jamie All Over & Jersey.Metallica Master of PuppetsLooking to subtly refine superb predecessor 'Ride the Lightning', Californian quartet Metallica hit pay-dirt with 3rd LP 'Master of Puppets'. The final LP to feature bassist Cliff Burton, this relentless riff & solo extravaganza sees the outfit satisfyingly evolve their song-writing skills, as well as improve vocally & lyrically. Incorporating progressive tendencies into their technical brand of thrash-metal, these 8 tunes present 55 minutes of muscular aggression & melodic speed. So for the 2nd time in a row, Metallica produce a landmark release without filler. Recommended Tracks: Disposable Heroes, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Battery & Master of Puppets.Metallica Ride the LightningReleased almost a year to the day since their debut LP, 'Ride the Lightning' displays monumental evolution for young thrash metallers Metallica. Everything from the vocals to the song-writing, and musicianship to the lyrics has improved, even if some exuberant flair has been sacrificed. Surprisingly diverse, the Californian quartet approach their ambitious objectives with confidence, infusing their sound with an intricacy that leads to both greater atmosphere & melody! With no filler among its 8 tracks & 47 minutes, this is undoubtedly a landmark release. Recommended Tracks: Fade to Black, Creeping Death, Ride the Lightning & For Whom the Bell Tolls.My Chemical Romance The Black ParadeMy Chemical Romance improve all facets of their sound, but go one step further by taking a brave risk on their 3rd album 'The Black Parade'. Thankfully, it pays off as this theatrical rock-opera of sorts works excellently due to how well it brings together all forms of rock music. At worst, there has to be something here that is liked. At best, there is not a bad track amongst this lot. Providing hooky & anthemic sing-along accessibility to their rockers, MCR also provide vibrancy & positivism to what are essentially dark & depressing subjects. An "Album of 2006" contender. Recommended Tracks: Welcome to the Black Parade, Famous Last Words, I Don't Love You, Teenagers & How I Disappear.Parades Foreign TapesNo matter what your musical tastes, do yourself a favor and let 'Foreign Tapes' win you over. Searching for weaknesses on this debut LP by Parades is a difficult task, with the Sydney art-rock quartet masterfully juxtaposing multi-faceted indie, ethereal dream-pop & even complex post-rock. This self-produced album ebbs & flows brilliantly, and exudes a spontaneous nature which lessens predictability. Vocally resplendent, 'Foreign Tapes' is all the better for Rebecca Shave's guest contributions. An exciting album of 2010 contender. Recommended Tracks: Marigold, Loserspeak In New Tongue, Dead Nationale, Hunters & Lung Full of Light.Rise Against Appeal to ReasonBettering 'The Sufferer & The Witness' was impossible, but with 'Appeal To Reason' Rise Against have consolidated themselves at the top of the punk/melodic hardcore pack. While there is a want to head towards mid-tempo numbers, songs are still far from tame & include the same base punk rock aesthetic as always, just in a more melodic & slickly produced package to enhance accessibility. Filled with rollicking fast-paced numbers, memorable moments & hooky vocals, there is not a bad tune included and the mosh-worthy 'Savior' could be their best track yet. Recommended Tracks: Savior, Collapse (Post-Amerika), Hero Of War, Re-Education (Through Labor) & Kotov Syndrome.Senses Fail Still SearchingWith the addition of guitarist Heath Saraceno & producer Brian McTernan, Senses Fail step up to the big leagues with their 2nd LP 'Still Searching'. Energetic from the start, the album sees the New Jersey quintet mature dramatically to improve their vocals, lyrics & musicianship. The 2 singles 'Can't Be Saved' & 'Calling All Cars' are phenomenally catchy, while some surprising experimentation with dynamics on the LP's 2nd half work a treat. With next to no filler, this is an unforeseen Album of the Year contender! Recommended Tracks: Can't Be Saved, Calling All Cars, Sick or Sane, The Priest and The Matador & Still Searching. Senses Fail Still Searching (Re-issue)Story of the Year In The Wake Of DeterminationWhile their debut LP seemed too compromised, Story of the Year just do what they enjoy on follow-up 'In The Wake of Determination'. With a greater reliance on the dual guitar attack of Ryan Phillips & Philip Sneed, the genre of choice here appears to be hard-rock, with a lashing of punk through Sneed's backing vocals. While heavier than its predecessor, the most impressive aspect of the album is its ability to remain so melodic, with many anthemically catchy vocal hooks. So check your head at the door & have a fun, hard-rocking time. Recommended Tracks: We Don't Care Anymore, Five Against The World, Take Me Back, Taste The Poison & Sleep.Streetlight Manifesto Everything Goes Numb DemoPredominantly formed from the remnants of Catch 22 & One Cool Guy, New Jersey ska punk collective Streetlight Manifesto show a glimpse of the quality that was to come on their 4 track 'Everything Goes Numb Demo'. With killer bass-lines & innovative drumming, the rhythm section would normally be the standout, but it is the array of horns which provide a diverse set of atmospheric melodies that truly captures attention. All 4 tunes would rightly go on to make the band's seminal debut LP & it is interesting to see the slight differences, especially the shorter versions of the opening duo. Recommended Tracks: We Are The Few, Everything Went Numb & Point/Counterpoint. Streetlight Manifesto Everything Goes NumbNew Jersey ska punk collective Streetlight Manifesto do more than just bring the fun on debut LP 'Everything Goes Numb'. While energetically up-tempo, the dynamic song arrangements provide depth & allow tunes to run past 4 minutes. A quality rhythm section provides a solid base, but the vibrant, addictive horns shine brightest, resulting in a multitude of varying melodies. Meanwhile, Tomas Kalnoky's mile-a-minute raspy vocals deliver perceptive lyrics & many a sing-along refrain. With next to no filler, this is a landmark release that transcends genre boundaries. Recommended Tracks: We Are The Few, Everything Went Numb, A Better Place..., Point/Counterpoint & Here's to Life.The Academy Is... Almost HereFollowing on from their rather disappointingly derivative and wordy self-titled EP, The Academy Is... show pop sensibilities beyond their years on debut full-length release 'Almost Here'. No matter which way you look at it, this is one hell of a hooky & impressive album without a bad track to be heard. It is catchy pop-rock at its very best. If there is justice in the music world, The Academy Is...'s time is NOT "Almost here"... It IS here! Recommended Tracks: Slow Down, The Phrase That Pays, Down and Out & Attention.The Blackout The Best in TownDuring a year in which many post-hardcore heavyweights released albums, they may all be upstaged by 6 young Welshmen. The secret to The Best In Town's success is that The Blackout have combined heaviness with catchy & accessible melodies. While the energetic dual vocal dynamic still exists, the band has matured & progressed in almost every facet of their craft. They are not looking to push the boundaries of post-hardcore, but simply perform the genre better than the majority of their peers. Immensely enjoyable & crowd-pleasing, this is a surprise A.O.T.Y contender. Recommended Tracks: Save Our Selves, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, ShutTheF*ckUppercut, Top Of The World & The Fire.The Classic Crime Phoenix'Phoenix', the 4th LP from Seattle alt-rockers The Classic Crime, is undoubtedly their magnum opus. Opening up the band's sonic palette, the sheer growth in the depth & variety of both the musicianship & songwriting is exemplary. The album's mid-section is absolutely gorgeous, as the near-seamless juxtaposition of old & new works a treat. You can hear the blood, sweat & tears dripping out in every meticulously layered piece of instrumentation; every emotional heart-on-sleeve climax; and in every dark & brooding - yet uplifting & relatable - lyric. 'Phoenix' is the album of 2012! Recommended Tracks: Heaven & Hell, Beautiful Darkside, Let Me Die, The Precipice & You and Me Both.The Dear Hunter RedThe most focused & consistent of all 9 EPs in 'The Color Spectrum' collection, the 'Red EP' highlights what The Dear Hunter can do when pulling back their progressive tendencies & playing straight-ahead alt-rock. The sound is reminiscent of a band like The Foo Fighters, where passionate anger & driving melodies combine seamlessly to result in a near faultless 14 minutes worth. The bass-driven 'Deny It All' is best, perfectly showcasing the guest vocals of Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull, who provides just the antidote to anyone claiming this effort lacks variety. Recommended Tracks: Deny It All, I Couldn't Do It Alone & A Curse of Cynicism.The Dear Hunter VioletCertain to be a favorite amongst fans of The Dear Hunter, the penultimate of 9 EPs which make up 'The Color Spectrum' collection is the one which most resembles the sound of the band's previous releases. Filled with piano, strings & imaginative storytelling, the 'Violet EP' is progressive leaning indie-pop which gives off a theatrical broadway vibe. Meticulously arranged & fantastically catchy, front-man Casey Crescenzo really shows off his pipes here, just begging for the listener to sing along. Could this be a hint at what 'Act IV' will sound like or will the final EP be more of a pointer to that direction? Recommended Tracks: Too Late, Lillian & Mr. Malum.The Dear Hunter WhiteOn top of being amazingly cohesive over its 36 tracks, The Dear Hunter's 'Color Spectrum' collection ends on a superb note with the 'White EP'. Combining almost every sound, instrument & musical style of the previous 8 EPs, none of these 4 tracks feel forced despite cramming so much into their 4 minute durations. Everything is so perfectly balanced that you can't help but feel that this is a maturing band that has now entered the next stage of their career. From the majestically delicate vocal harmonies to the inspiring lyrics; the 'White EP' is moving, yet ultimately exhilirating. Recommended Tracks: Home, Lost But Not All Gone & No God.The Gaslight Anthem The 59 SoundNostalgic LP's that whisk you off to another time & place are rare, but the absorbing storytelling on The Gaslight Anthem's superb 'The '59 Sound' does. Strangely relatable, each endearing song drips with sincerity & emotion, while this consistent album is cohesive in moving from fast-paced sing-alongs to gorgeous ballads. Combining blues, punk & Americana rock, every track contains hooky guitar melodies, with some cuts growing their own character over time via subtle tempo switches. It's upbeat 3 singles begin the LP perfectly, with the anthemic 'Great Expectations' being a song of 2008 contender. Recommended Tracks: Great Expectations, Old White Lincoln, The '59 Sound, The Patient Ferris Wheel & Here's Looking At You Kid.The Graduate Only Every TimeJam-packed with killer refrains, seldom has there been an album as instantaneously infectious as The Graduate's 2nd LP 'Only Every Time'! From the opener's gang vocals to the closing sub 3 minute epic, the band has improved in every facet. The shimmering effects of the dual guitars weave value-adding textures, while frontman Corey Warning handles the gentler moments impressively. Containing an X factor which spotlights its strengths & hides its weaknesses, 'Only Every Time' is a fun & catchy LP without a wasted moment. Recommended Tracks: Don't Die Digging, Pull Me In, All At Once, For The Missing & Stuck (Inside My Head).The Jezabels Dark StormWith their 3rd EP in 20 months, Australian quartet The Jezabels deliver another 5 consistent tracks on 'Dark Storm'. As meticulously crafted as its predecessors, all of the band's captivating characteristics return: the sweeping piano, relentless drumming, angular guitar &, of course, Hayley Mary's enchanting vocals. While the deceptive pop nous of 'Mace Spray' is the EPs highlight, the opening & closing tracks may well be its most telling revelations, with the maturing outfit using space to create greater atmosphere. All in all, another fantastic EP from a very talented group. Recommended Tracks: Mace Spray, Dark Storm & She's So Hard.The Jezabels The Man Is DeadTo think that 'The Man Is Dead' is the debut release from Australian outfit The Jezabels is astounding, since everything about its 5 tracks suggests the work of mature veterans. All 4 band members contribute terrifically, as gorgeous piano melodies combine seamlessly with hooky indie-pop guitar & surprisingly heavy drums. And then there is the marvelously expressive vocal range of Hayley Mary, whose peaks & troughs assist the Arcade Fire like build-ups. Ambitious, always enthralling & without a weak song, this spellbinding 20 minutes is one hell of an astonishing achievement. Recommended Tracks: Be A Star, Disco Biscuit Love & Unmarked Helicopters.The Jezabels PrisonerFar from rehashing their 3 superb EPs, Aussie quartet The Jezabels use the long-play format to fully explore the boundaries of their sound on debut LP 'Prisoner'. The eye-opening organ & synths of the opener, the catchy melodcism of lead single 'Endless Summer' & the cinematic 'Long Highway' propel this captivating album to great heights. With all 4 members working double-time to compose near flawless music, 'Prisoner' is the rarity of a debut LP adding to an already superlative discography. The Jezabels are just getting started & the sky may be their only limit. Recommended Tracks: Endless Summer, City Girl, Horsehead, Deep Wide Ocean & Prisoner. The Rocket Summer iTunes EPReleased as a preview of sorts for The Rocket Summer's upcoming 3rd LP, the 'iTunes EP' is an exciting look into the maturing of a potential superstar. It may only be 4 tracks & 18 minutes in length, but the 1st 3 tunes here are as upbeat & addictive as anything that Bryce Avary has put out to date, while pushing his vocals into a more soulful direction adds an even greater pop sensibility. He tops it off with a fascinating choice to cover the Colin Hay (Men At Work) ballad 'I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You'. Wow, talk about a taster to make any power-pop fan salivate! Recommended Tracks: Break It Out, So Much Love & So In This Hour... The Rocket Summer Do You FeelThe one-man band that is The Rocket Summer just keeps on improving with 24 year old Texan multi-instrumentalist Bryce Avary reaching a new peak on 3rd LP 'Do You Feel'. Containing no filler whatsoever & an abundance of hook-filled melodies, Avary's feel-good power-pop has never been this upbeat or infectious, nor has his sound ever been so full. Finally comfortable with his range, Avary pushes his passionate vocals into a more soulful direction here, while his lyrics continue to mature. Quite simply, power-pop doesn't come any better than this! Recommended Tracks: Break It Out, So Much Love, So In This Hour..., All I Have & High Life Scenery.TRUSTcompany The Lonely Position of NeutralCall it dated nostalgia, call it repetitively formulaic, call it whatever you want... TRUSTcompany's debut LP 'The Lonely Position of Neutral' hits a sweet spot when it comes to finding a fan-friendly median of nu-metal, hard-rock & alt-metal. Utilizing engaging quiet/loud dynamics, Kevin Palmer's always melodic vocals switch from ominous whispering to anguished screaming in a heartbeat. As consistent an album as you will find, practically every single word here is crafted to sing along to, especially the infectious choruses that just keep on coming. Recommended Tracks: Downfall, Deeper Into You, Falling Apart, Hover & Figure 8.Twin Atlantic VivariumTaking cues from fellow Scots Biffy Clyro, Glaswegian rockers Twin Atlantic follow up the promise of their debut EP with the superb 'Vivarium'. Consistent, catchy & accessible, yet diverse & unpredictable with key changes & stop-start tempo switches, 'Vivarium' contains more soaring, yet technical, guitar melodies. The distinctive Scottish brogue of Sam McTrusty (the best name in music) also returns, as do the quirky lyrics & attention to detail. While 8 tracks at 33 minutes is an odd length, it suggests quality over quantity for this exciting quartet. Recommended Tracks: What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?, Audience and Audio, Human After All & Lightspeed.Van Halen 1984Just as Van Halen looked to be diving into obscurity, they produce what may be their best album to date in '1984'. The quartet's 6th LP - & final with David Lee Roth - is pure entertainment without filler. To mark the occasion, DLR provides his best vocals yet, while Alex Van Halen's drumming also reaches new heights. Most striking is Eddie Van Halen's prominent synths, which pleasingly do not impede his astounding guitar-work. It is this combination of hard-hitting rock & infectious pop melodies which made '1984' a groundbreaking crossover success that deservingly sold over 10 million copies. Recommended Tracks: Panama, Jump, Hot for Teacher & Top Jimmy.Van Halen Van HalenThe self-titled debut LP from Californian quartet Van Halen is one of the most innovative & influential rock albums of all time. Melding classic rock, metal, punk, blues & pop, a tremendously under-rated rhythm section helps to highlight Eddie Van Halen's stupendous guitar-work. Its 1st side is full of classics & while front-loaded, there is absolutely no filler. The lyrics may not be the greatest & David Lee Roth's charismatic vocals suit some songs more than others, but this fun & exciting release deserved to sell 10 million copies. Recommended Tracks: Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, You Really Got Me, I'm The One, Runnin' With the Devil & Feel Your Love Tonight. Van Halen 5150'5150' marks the beginning of the much derided "Van Hagar" era, as Van Halen's 7th LP is the 1st to feature new front-man Sammy Hagar. While the sound, themes & tone has changed since the replacement of David Lee Roth (& producer Ted Templeman), the Californian hard-rockers match their groundbreaking previous effort with another 3 hit singles & an entertaining supporting cast. With a greater emphasis on synth & a number of power ballads, many longtime fans were disappointed... But those who judge this album in isolation will realise that it is a tremendous release. Recommended Tracks: Dreams, Love Walks In, Why Can't This Be Love, Get Up & Best of Both Worlds.Yellowcard Southern AirA combination of all of their previous releases, the fact that there is something for everyone on Yellowcard's 8th LP 'Southern Air', makes it their best album yet! Every one of the Floridian pop-punk quintet's signature elements are here: The abundant hooks, exquisite violin melodies, endearing vocals & hard-hitting drumming. It results in an immediate LP that is packed with catchy & upbeat summer anthems; whose mature, relatable & poignant lyrics will prove to be timeless. Nostalgic in an uplifting fashion, there is absolutely no filler on this superb release. Recommended Tracks: Awakening, Always Summer, Ten, Surface of the Sun & A Vicious Kind. 4.4 superbCaptain, We're Sinking The Future Is CancelledThe biggest surprise of 2013 comes in the form of 'The Future Is Cancelled'; the 2nd LP from Pennsylvanian quartet Captain, We're Sinking. Best described as punk with flourishes of emo & post-hardcore, the technically accomplished music is not only intense & emotional, but deceptively melodic. This is despite the captivating lyrics which contain lashings of melancholy, as delivered by the dual vocal attack of Bob Barnett & Leo Vergnetti. Containing no filler, this powerful album not only builds well to individual climaxes, but progresses cohesively as a whole. Recommended Tracks: A Bitter Divorce, Annina We Will Miss You, You Have Flaws, Here's To Forever & Brother.4.3 superbHands Like Houses UnimagineJust 16 months after their debut LP, Aussie post-hardcore act Hands Like Houses step up on 'Unimagine'. Showcasing greater diversity, this James Paul Wisner produced album is consistent & contains no filler. Trenton Woodley's soaring vocals return, as do the subtle electronics, hooky guitar melodies & catchy choruses. Musically, the sextet are undoubtedly tighter, even if the intricacy of their playing has been toned down a little. Pleasingly, Hands Like Houses have successfully evolved by refining their weaknesses, while maintaining their strengths. Recommended Tracks: Shapeshifters, A Tale of Outer Suburbia, Introduced Species, A Fire on a Hill & No Parallels.K Sera Collisions and Near MissesFollowing 3 impressive EPs, Sacramento rockers K Sera further evolve on their debut LP 'Collisions and Near Misses'. Expertly produced by The Dear Hunter's Casey Crescenzo, this meticulously crafted record is both immediate & a grower. Epic & ambitious - yet refined & controlled - this theatrical album is delivered so cohesively that it's difficult not to fall engrossed. Guitars, piano & a dynamic rhythm section coalesce with Mike Caswell's strong vocals to result in a melodically hooky mix of indie & progressive rock. K Sera could very well be as big as Muse one day! Recommended Tracks: Dream Like I Do, Near Misses, Ambien, St. Peter & True Enough To Be Interesting.Local Natives HummingbirdFollowing their superb critically acclaimed debut, LA indie-rockers Local Natives do not disappoint on 2nd LP 'Hummingbird'. Produced by The National's Aaron Dessner, this album is less vivacious & immediate than its predecessor, instead choosing to be introspective & emotional. While the dynamic instrumentation returns, it's performed in a deft & subtle manner that compels & rewards further listening. Furthermore, the dual vocal harmonies of Kelcey Ayer & Taylor Rice take a step up here, providing a handful of spine-chilling moments that are worth the price of admission alone. Recommended Tracks: Breakers, Black Balloons, Wooly Mammoth, You & I & Heavy Feet.Streetlight Manifesto The Hands That Thieve'The Hands That Thieve', the much-anticipated - & delayed - new LP from New Jersey ska punk ensemble Streetlight Manifesto is thankfully worth the wait. The septet don't mess with their winning formula, only subtly adding extra influences & slowing down tempos. While 2 or 3 tunes seem composed for nothing but a sing-along (both a pro & a con), the mid-section highlights are worth the price of admission alone. It may well be the least effective of the band's 3 LPs of original material, but that's not a slight for this talented & consistent outfit. Recommended Tracks: The Littlest Things, If Only For Memories, With Any Sort of Certainty, The Three of Us & Your Day Will Come.4.2 excellentAlter Bridge FortressLondon Grammar If You WaitLondon Grammar Metal & DustState Champs The Finer ThingsThe Wonder Years The Greatest Generation4.1 excellentBiffy Clyro OppositesBlack Veil Brides Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild OnesFarewell Fighter ChallengesI The Mighty SatoriJustin Timberlake The 20/20 ExperienceLos Campesinos! No Blues4.0 excellent10 Years The Autumn Effect10 Years DivisionA Loss For Words Returning to Webster LakeAbel (NY) Make It RightAbel (NY) The Honest LoveAdele 21Alexisonfire CrisisAlexisonfire Old Crows / Young CardinalsCanadian quintet Alexisonfire have grown once more, this time incorporating an element of hard-rock into their punky post-hardcore sound. Longtime fans may have issues ("we are not the kids we used to be, stop wishing for yesterday"), but it results in an accessible & anthemic 4th album that includes some genuine "wow" moments. George's new raspier screams are hit & miss, but it's negated by the 3 vocalists being more cohesive than ever. As consistent, passionate & energetic as always, 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals' rivals 'Crisis' as their best LP. Recommended Tracks: Born and Raised, Old Crows, Accept Crime & The Northern.Alkaline Trio GoddamnitAlkaline Trio Maybe I'll Catch FireAlkaline Trio From Here To InfirmaryAll Time Low Put Up or Shut UpAll Time Low The Party SceneAlter Bridge One Day RemainsAmy Macdonald A Curious ThingAnberlin Never Take Friendship PersonalAnberlin don't reinvent the wheel on 'Never Take Friendship Personal', they simply consolidate on their promising debut. The songs are better produced & written - as proven by the fantastic 7 minute closer - and while the lyrics are almost entirely based around relationships, they are perceptive & relatable enough to be unique. Amazingly, Stephen Christian's vocals have also improved, since he handles aggressive ('The Feel Good Drag'), poppy ('Time & Confusion') & gentle ('The Symphony of Blase) tracks in his stride. Tight, catchy & enjoyable, there isn't a bad track here with the exception of a short instrumental. Recommended Tracks: Paperthin Hymn, Dance Dance Christa Paffgen, A Day Late & (The Symphony of) BlaseAnberlin Dark Is The Way, Light Is A PlaceArcade Fire Neon BibleArcane Roots Left FireArctic Monkeys BrianstormArctic Monkeys Leave Before The Lights Come OnArctic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The DancefloorArctic Monkeys When The Sun Goes DownBalance and Composure I Just Want To Be PureBalance and Composure SeparationBastille FlawsBastille Laura Palmer EPBastille Bad BloodBayside Live at the Bayside Social ClubBayside AcousticBayside ShudderBertie Blackman Secrets and LiesBiffy Clyro Only RevolutionsBiffy Clyro PuzzleBig Boi Sir Lucious Left FootBilly Talent Billy Talent IIBirds Of Tokyo Day OneBon Iver Bon Iver, Bon IverBon Iver For Emma, Forever AgoBritish India GuillotineBroadway Calls Good Views, Bad NewsBuilt To Spill Keep It Like A SecretCanterbury More Than KnowCanterbury SaviourCanterbury Thank YouCinema Sleep Make Your WayCirca Survive Blue Sky NoiseCity and Colour City and Colour LIVECity and Colour Bring Me Your LoveCity and Colour Little HellCity and Colour Live at the Orange LoungeClosure in Moscow First TempleClosure in Moscow The Penance and the PatienceIt takes about 5 seconds of listening to the blistering guitar of opener 'We Want Guarantees, Not Hunger Pains' for me to feel guilty for not having heard of Closure In Moscow. They're from my home-town of Melbourne-Australia for goodness sake! Ranging from hard-hitting to melodic, the guitar is ably backed by a strong rhythm section, as well as some spot-on moments of electronica. An extremely mature debut EP, 'The Penance and The Patience' is deceptively catchy & expertly switches tempo. They even pull off a metal-like cut & a haunting ballad! Recommended Tracks: We Want Guarantees Not Hunger Pains, Dulcinea & Ofelia... Ofelia. Conditions Conditions EPConditions You Are ForgottenConditions Fluorescent YouthCooper Temple Clause See This Through And LeaveCraig David Born To Do ItDananananaykroyd There Is A WayDashboard Confessional The Places You Have Come To Fear The MostDashboard Confessional Dusk and SummerDead Letter Circus This Is The WarningDead Letter Circus Dead Letter CircusDead Letter Circus Next In LineDeaf Havana Meet Me Halfway, At LeastDeaf Havana Fools And Worthless LiarsEditors An End Has A StartEditors The Back RoomEisley The ValleyEmery The Weak's EndBeginning superbly with a multitude of (both musical & vocal) hooks, the opening 1-2 punch of 'The Weak's End' delivers an accessible & melodic brand of post-hardcore. The occasional screams only accentuate Toby Morrell's smooth vocals, while the slower passages that contain relatable lyrics are emotionally believable. A sense of inexperience sees Emery struggle to bring out the full potential of later tracks, meaning the 2nd half doesn't quite match the 1st, but this is still an excellent debut from a band capable of reaching great heights. Recommended Tracks: Walls, The Ponytail Parades, Fractions & The Secret. Emery We Do What We WantEnvy On The Coast Lucy GrayFair to Midland Fables From a MayflyFair to Midland Arrows and AnchorsFang Island Sky Gardens EPFarewell Fighter The Way We LearnFightstar They Liked You Better When You Were DeadCharlie Simpson leaves Busted behind with a debut EP that masterfully integrates melody & aggression. His & Alex Westaway's grungy vocals emote passion & energy, while the latters guitar-work impressively showcases both hard-hitting riffs & ambience. Lyrically strong & containing great drumming, the under-production hinders the catchy 'Speak Up', but helps the raw 'Palahniuk's Laughter'. Extended from a 5 track 22 minute EP to a 9 track 38 minute one, the better cuts are strangely those which did not make their subsequent LP. Recommended Tracks: Palahniuk's Laughter, Speak Up, Amethyst & Paint Your Target.Fireworks We Are EverywhereFireworks All I Have To Offer Is My Own ConfusionFlorence and the Machine LungsThere is something very special about Florence Welch if her debut LP 'Lungs' is anything to go by. With her occasionally quirky, but always captivating, vocals fronting an array of instruments, it is impossible not to get drawn in. The rhythms are especially impressive, with the infectious double chorus of 'Drumming Song' a standout. Quality production & well structured songs often build to rousing climaxes, and while the album is a little front-loaded, even the so-so tracks are made interesting by that alluring voice. Recommended Tracks: Drumming Song, Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), Kiss With A Fist & Dog Days Are Over. Foals AntidotesFoals Holy FireFoo Fighters Wasting LightForever Came Calling ContenderPromising Californian pop-punk outfit Forever Came Calling hit the ground running with their debut LP 'Contender'. Kicking off with 2 short filler cuts, the album soon hits its stride with an energetic New Found Glory influenced style that throws hooks at the listener from every direction. Originality & diversity may not be priorities here, while the 24 minute duration does raise some eyebrows. Yet, these youngsters perform with a confidence & convinction that produces tremendous results... And they should only get better when they learn to fill out their sound & experiment with dynamics. Recommended Tracks: Ides, Front Porch Sunrise, Dead Poets Honor & Contender. Foster The People Foster The People - EPfun. Aim and IgniteIf 'Aim and Ignite' can be classified as pop, then it is the best pop album of 2009. Nate Ruess & Co. deliver a thoroughly satisfying LP with many highlights & only a couple of tracks where the interest drops. From infectious harmonies to thoughtful piano ballads, fun. has successfully released an album which is simple, yet intricate; immediate, yet a grower. Best of all are the 2 bookends; the joyous African rhythms of the 7 minute closer & the uplifting theatrical opener which seamlessly uses every musical technique in the book to result in one of the songs of the year! Recommended Tracks: Be Calm, Take Your Time, The Gambler & At Least I'm Not As Sad.fun. Live At FingerprintsFuneral for a Friend Tales Don't Tell ThemselvesFuneral for a Friend The Young And DefenselessFuneral for a Friend Welcome Home ArmageddonFuneral Party The Golden Age Of KnowhereFuture of the Left Travels With Myself And AnotherGabrielle Aplin HomeGallows GallowsGivers GiversGo Radio Do Overs and Second ChancesGo Radio Lucky StreetHalestorm Live in Philly 2010Hard-Fi Stars Of CCTVHey Rosetta! Hey Rosetta!Hey Rosetta! Into Your Lungs (And Around in Your Heart and onHey Rosetta! SeedsHoly Esque Holy EsqueHouse Of Heroes The End is Not The EndHouse Of Heroes SuburbaHouse Of Heroes What you Want is NowHouse Of Heroes House Of HeroesHouse Of Heroes Cold Hard WantHouse Of Heroes Say No MoreHouse Of Heroes House Of Heroes Meets The BeatlesHouse of Pain Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise AgainHRVRD The Inevitable And II Am the Avalanche I Am the AvalancheI Call Fives I Call FivesI The Mighty Hearts & SpadesI The Mighty Karma Never SleepsIcarus the Owl The Spotless MindIcarus the Owl QualiaIcarus the Owl Love Always, LeviathanIn This Moment The DreamIvoryline VesselsJack's Mannequin Everything in TransitA surprisingly impressive album of piano based pop-rock. More often than not however, this is performed with a pace that belies its genre... As well as occasional flashes of under-rated guitar work. Lead man Andrew McMahon proves his talent by somehow making rather straight-forward music sound completely original. With his catchy melodies and witty, yet genuine, lyrics that include very good story-telling, the songs also have a feel good nature about them, even if the themes do not. Likeable in every way, the album does lose a bit of steam between tracks 7-10a. Recommended Tracks: The Mixed Tape, I'm Ready, Dark Blue & Holiday From Real.Jack's Mannequin Dear JackJanelle Monae Metropolis Suite I of IV: The ChaseJanelle Monae The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)Japandroids Celebration RockJimmy Eat World FuturesJunior Battles Junior BattlesK Sera The Cantos: IIKids In Glass Houses DirtKill Hannah Until Theres Nothing Left Of UsLadyhawke LadyhawkeLast Dinosaurs In A Million YearsLily Allen It's Not Me, It's YouQuite possibly 2009's biggest surprise, Lily Allen presents a more mature & relatable side to her character on 2nd LP 'It's Not Me, It's You'. While retaining her trademark cheeky & clever lyrics, there is greater consistency on this release, which is also more musically varied than her debut. Furthermore, Allen has been able to iron out her previously annoying tendencies. With only a couple of low points, nearly every track could be released as a single. It is great to see a young pop artist improve on her deficiencies from one album to the next. Recommended Tracks: The Fear, Fuck You, Everyone's At It & Who'd Have Known.Little Comets WorryLiving Colour Time's UpLondon Grammar StrongLostprophets Liberation TransmissionLostprophets look to consolidate on their trans-Atlantic success by poppifying their catchy hard-rock on 3rd LP 'Liberation Transmission'. Slickly produced by Bob Rock, they tone down their aggression & musical technicality, but this can be overlooked when you have tracks like anthemic sing-along 'Rooftops' & melodic 'Can't Catch Tomorrow'. Even the non-highlights are made memorable with infectious choruses. It needed more variety to match 'Start Something', but with so many involving call & response vocals, it's another enjoyable fist-pumper of epic proportions. Recommended Tracks: Rooftops, Can't Catch Tomorrow, 4:AM Forever & Everyday Combat.Lostprophets The BetrayedLower Than Atlantis World RecordLowtalker People Worry About EverythingMadina Lake The Disappearance of AdaliaMadina Lake The Dresden CodexMake Do and Mend End Measured MileMake Do and Mend Everything You Ever LovedMallory Knox PilotMallory Knox SignalsManchester Orchestra Mean Everything To NothingOn 'Mean Everything To Nothing', Manchester Orchestra put the "rock" back in indie-rock. Right from the beginning, a fuller rock sound is apparent & it holds up the few relatively less memorable cuts here. Meanwhile, lead vocalist Andy Hull seamlessly moves from passionate screams ('Shake It Out') to catchy sing-alongs ('I've Got Friends'), and from desperate howls ('100 Dollars') to emotional storytelling ('I Can Feel A Hot One' & 'The River'). A pleasing step up, this is a consistent & mature LP from an accomplished band. Recommended Tracks: I've Got Friends, Shake It Out, I Can Feel A Hot One & The River.Marianas Trench Ever AfterMarianas Trench Fix MeMarianas Trench Masterpiece TheaterMarianas Trench Face The MusicMarina and The Diamonds The Family JewelsMayday Parade Mayday ParadeMenomena I Am The Fun Blame Monster!Metallica Kill 'Em AllMetallica Death MagneticMetallica ...And Justice for AllMoneen The Red TreeMotion City Soundtrack Commit This To MemoryMotion City Soundtrack My Dinosaur LifeMotion City Soundtrack GoMS MR Candy Bar Creep ShowMuse ShowbizMuse Black Holes and RevelationsMy Chemical Romance Live And RareMy Chemical Romance The Black Parade: The B-SidesMy Chemical Romance Number OneMy Chemical Romance Number ThreeNaughty By Nature 19 Naughty 9: Nature's FuryNaughty By Nature Naughty By NatureNeon Trees Start a FireOf Monsters and Men Into the Woods - EPOf Monsters and Men My Head is an AnimalOff With Their Heads HospitalsOff With Their Heads From the BottomOff With Their Heads In DesolationP.O.S. AuditionA genuine revelation, P.O.S. shows on his 2nd LP 'Audition' that he is one hell of a talented & interesting rapper. With lyrics that are both witty & political, P.O.S. sets his impressive vocal flow over the top of an excellent mix of electronic & live instrumentation (including guitars, strings, bass & horns), and holds interest throughout on this consistent & deep release. Furthermore, despite being far from a mainstream rapper, he has a great knack for a hook, which really tops this album off nicely. Recommended Tracks: Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered), Bleeding Hearts Club (MPLS Chapter), Paul Kersey to Jack Kimball & Half-Cocked Concepts.P.O.S. We Don't Even Live HerePaloma Faith Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?Paramore Riot!Paramore Brand New EyesPassion Pit MannersThe fun debut LP by electro indie-poppers Passion Pit could well be the happiest, most euphoric album of all time! It's impossible to stay still during the catchy 'Little Secrets' & 'The Reeling', both of which are topped off by a children's choir. The eccentric 'Sleepyhead' has hooks which defy description, while other cuts include accomplished live drums. Michael Angelakos' falsetto & the overly peppy nature will annoy many, but where 'Manners' trumps the debuts of similar acts MGMT & the Klaxons is in its lack of filler. Fantastically produced, this is the feel-good LP of 2009. Recommended Tracks: Little Secrets, Sleepyhead, The Reeling & Let Your Love Grow Tall.Passion Pit GossamerPhrase ClockworkPierce the Veil Selfish MachinesPierce the Veil Collide With the SkyPink I'm Not DeadPink M!ssundaztoodRa Ra Riot The Rhumb LineRed Innocence and InstinctRed Until We Have FacesRed City Radio Spinning In Circles Is A Gateway DrugRise Against Siren Song of the Counter CultureRise Against EndgameSaosin Translating the NameSaosin SaosinSearch The City A Fire So Big The Heavens Can See ItSearch The City GhostsSecret And Whisper Great White WhaleSecret And Whisper Teenage FantasySenses Fail The FireSenses Fail Follow Your BlissSet Your Goals This Will Be the Death of UsSharks No GodsSilversun Pickups SwoonSleeping With Sirens If You Were a Movie, This Would Be Your SoundtrackSparks The Rescue Sparks the RescueSpokes Everyone I Ever MetState Champs OversleptSteel Train Steel TrainStone Sour Come What(ever) MayStone Sour Come What(ever) May [Special Edition]Stone Sour House of Gold and Bones - Part 2Strange Talk Strange Talk - EPStreetlight Manifesto Keasbey NightsSum 41 All Killer No FillerSum 41 Go Chuck YourselfThe All-American Rejects Move AlongThe Automatic Not Accepted AnywhereA genuine "love it or hate it" LP due to the background yelping of keyboardist Alex Pennie, this debut by a young Welsh quartet combines brit-pop, rock, electronica & punk! Some will see it as fun, others irritating. Some will think it consistent, while others will feel it has no variation. I'm on the positive side due to its catchiness and the fact that no song stretches out past 4 minutes. After 5 great tracks, the middle section does lag a little, but it then picks up again with its final 2 cuts. Now... "What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster, is it a monster?" Recommended Tracks: By My Side, Monster, That's What She Said & Raoul.The Black Keys El CaminoThe Classic Crime Seattle SessionsThe Classic Crime AlbatrossThe Classic Crime The Silver CordThe Classic Crime VagabondsThe Dangerous Summer War PaintThe Dear Hunter YellowThe Dear Hunter Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. LeadingThe Dear Hunter The Color SpectrumAllowing listeners to sample the complete collection of 'The Color Spectrum', this 11 track release cuts the running time down from 144 minutes to just 42. Including at least 1 track from each of the 9 EPs, this compilation flows remarkably well considering the diverse array of musical styles showcased here. It is that cohesion, as well as their representation of the various colors, which these tracks have been chosen for, since they are not necessarily the best each EP has to offer. There's still plenty of quality though & it does make for an intriguing preview of the main event. Recommended Tracks: Deny It All, Home, Lillian & But There's Wolves?.The Dear Hunter The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)The Dear Hunter OrangeThe Format Interventions and LullabiesThe Format EPThe Format Dog ProblemsThe Fratellis Costello MusicThe Gaslight Anthem Sink or SwimThe Gaslight Anthem American SlangThe Gaslight Anthem HandwrittenThe Gaslight Anthem iTunes SessionThe Getaway Plan RequiemAfter disbanding in 2009, Melbourne rockers The Getaway Plan reform for their 2nd LP 'Requiem'. For the most part, it is a continuation of the sound the quartet established on breakthrough debut 'Other Voices, Other Rooms', yet this album utilizes a significantly more dramatic approach. Produced by Canadian David Bottrill, it often sounds huge, with keys, choirs & orchestral flourishes augmenting Matthew Wright's ever-improving vocals. While its methodically paced latter half means it is not quite as immediate as its predecessor, 'Requiem' is ultimately the better release. Recommended Tracks: S.T.A.R.S, Phantoms, February & The Reckoning. The Graduate AnhedoniaThe Graduate Sea LegsThe Jezabels She's So HardThe Joy Formidable The Big RoarThe Joy Formidable RoaritiesThe Killers Hot FussThe Killers Sam's TownThe Maccabees Given to the WildThe Maine PioneerThe Menzingers Hold on, DodgeThe Rocket Summer Hello, Good FriendThe Rocket Summer You Gotta BelieveThe Sleeping What It TakesThe Starting Line Say It Like You Mean ItThe Starting Line Based on a True StoryThe Story So Far Under Soil and DirtThe Story So Far What You Don't SeeThe Subways All or NothingThe Sun and The Sea VegaThe Swellers Ups and DownsizingThe Swellers Good For MeThe Tallest Man on Earth The Wild HuntThe Tallest Man on Earth There's No Leaving NowThe Weeknd House of BalloonsThe Weeknd Echoes of SilenceThera The AftermathThera If This is the EndThera From the NorthThrice Major/MinorThursday Full CollapseThursday Common ExistenceThursday No DevolucionTTNG Adventure, Stamina & AngerTwin Atlantic A Guidance From ColourTwin Atlantic FreeVan Halen For Unlawful Carnal KnowledgeVan Halen Van Halen IIVan Halen Fair WarningVersaEmerge Fixed at ZeroWalk the Moon Anna SunWalk the Moon The AnthemWe Are The Emergency Seizure (EP)We Are The Emergency Whispers and FragmentsWe Are The Ocean Maybe Today, Maybe TomorrowWe Still Dream TherapyWe Still Dream Oh, Snap!We The Kings We The KingsWU LYF Go Tell Fire to the MountainYellowcard Ocean AvenueYellowcard Paper WallsYou, Me, And Everyone We Know Some Things Don't Wash OutYou, Me, And Everyone We Know Party For The Grown and SexyYoung Guns All Our Kings Are DeadYoung Guns Mirrors EP3.9 excellentBastille Pompeii (Remix)Bastille HauntBiffy Clyro Black ChandelierChvrches RecoverCinema Sleep Truth For The SeekerFollowing the excellent 'Make Your Way' EP, Ohio rockers Cinema Sleep return a year later with their debut LP 'Truth For The Seeker'. Looking to create something distinctive within well-worn genres, the quintet's sound takes in post-hardcore, alt-metal & radio-rock. Passionate vocalist Brady Reis has a diverse range, and while there are still some awkward transitions, the musicianship is impressive - especially the propulsive drumming & melodic guitar leads. 1 or 2 tracks fall a little short, but ultimately this is an exciting debut LP from a talented band. Recommended Tracks: Judging Glances, Inside My Hands, Empty Words & Collapse. Janelle Monae The Electric LadyMy Chemical Romance Conventional WeaponsThe 1975 The 1975Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the CityYou, Me, And Everyone We Know I Wish More People Gave A Shit3.8 excellentArcade Fire ReflektorArcane Roots Blood & ChemistryArctic Monkeys AMChvrches EPCity and Colour The Hurry And The HarmDead Letter Circus The Catalyst FireDeaf Havana Old SoulsLorde Pure HeroineMayday Parade Monsters In The ClosetMiles Kane Don't Forget Who You AreMiles Kane Give UpMy Chemical Romance Number FiveOff With Their Heads HomeSuper Water Sympathy Hydrogen ChildThe Dangerous Summer Golden RecordThe Darien Venture A Kite, A Key and A StormWe Still Dream Something to Smile About3.7 greatAFI BurialsAlkaline Trio Broken WingAlkaline Trio My Shame Is TrueBastille Laura PalmerBritish India ControllerRecalling excellent debut 'Guillotine', Melbourne rockers British India continue their rebuild on 4th LP 'Controller'. Delivering more urgent, raw & catchy garage-rock, the quartet incorporate some welcome diversity & greater dynamics here; with improved use of pacing, build-ups & song structure. Declan Melia's yelping vocals remain & there's nothing overly technical about the instrumentation, but this is a genuine step forward for the band. It's just a shame that the momentum of the 1st 6 tracks cannot be maintained through the final 4. Recommended Tracks: I Can make You Love Me, Summer Forgive Me, Twice Inna Lifetime & Plastic Souvenirs.Charli XCX True RomanceAfter repudiating her true debut LP & releasing 2 mixtapes, 20 year old English singer-songwriter Charlotte Aitchison (aka Charli XCX) unleashes 'True Romance'. While many tracks have already been heard, the voice behind Icona Pop's hit 'I Love It', delivers an impressive array of dark electro-pop that should be both critically & commercially successful. As modern as it is retro & as catchy as it is unique, the multi-layered production lends itself to repeated listening. It's overlong & a little repetitive, but otherwise this is a promising album from a talented new artist. Recommended Tracks: Nuclear Seasons, So Far Away, Set Me Free & You're the One.Chvrches The Bones of What You BelieveEditors The Weight of Your LoveFranz Ferdinand Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right ActionFuneral for a Friend ConduitFuture of the Left Human DeathHRVRD From the Bird's CageLorde The Love ClubPure Love AnthemsRed City Radio TitlesRudimental HomeThe Swellers The Light Under Closed DoorsUnder-rated Michigan quartet The Swellers don't target reinvention on 5th LP 'The Light Under Closed Doors'. Settling into their style, the hard-working punk-rockers do sound a little rawer here, without sacrificing their hooky melodies. Extremely lean at just 30 minutes in length, the band bleed authenticity with not a gimmick to be heard. Glorious guitar lines, an accomplished rhythm section & detailed song-writing add to the relateable lyrics & passionate vocals. So, while this is a bit predictable to be their best LP, it is another consitent addition to The Swellers' discography. Recommended Tracks: Big Hearts, Favorite Tune, Great Lakes State & Friends Again.Vance Joy God Loves You When You're Dancing3.6 greatBroadway Calls Comfort/DistractionSome 4 years after the excellent 'Good Views, Bad News', Oregon pop-punk act Broadway Calls return with their Bill Stevenson produced 3rd LP 'Comfort/Distraction'. Recalling early Green Day, the trio strive for that genre sweet spot between raw & gritty and fun & catchy. There's some promising maturity here, but it tends to blunt the quality of the hooks. The lessened dual vocal dynamic is one reason, even if the band lose nothing in terms of fantastic bass-lines. It may not best its predecessor, but this is another technically accomplished release from an under-rated group. Recommended Tracks: Bring on the Storm, I'll Be There, Lucky Lighter & Surrounded By Ghosts.Future of the Left Love Songs For Our HusbandsKodaline In a Perfect WorldCheekily dubbed Snowplay for their likeness to both Snow Patrol & Coldplay, Irish quartet Kodaline should take such comparisons as a compliment. Their debut LP 'In a Perfect World' shows proficiency beyond their years, with 11 consistent tracks that utilize inspiring, anthemic hooks over mostly disconsolate lyrics. It's not exactly musically challenging & their influences are obvious, but the slow builds into arena-baiting crescendos are difficult to dislike. Best of all is Stephen Garrigan's touching falsetto, which - along with some impressive backing harmonies - is an instrument in itself. Recommended Tracks: High Hopes, Love Like This, Pray & All I Want.Lorde Tennis CourtMS MR Secondhand RaptureFollowing a magnetic teaser EP, New York based darkwave outfit MS MR simultaneously impress & disappoint on their debut LP 'Secondhand Rapture'. A brooding, gothic & gloomy affair, the duo's versatility also means that it is a hooky, soaring & melodic record. The ominous sounding musical arrangements (courtesy of Max Hershenow) make fantastic use of rhythms, electronics & strings, while Lizzy Plapinger's mesmerizing vocals alternate between sensual & sinister. The main issue with this front-loaded release is that one could argue that the 4 returning EP tracks aren't bettered here. Recommended Tracks: Hurricane, Dark Doo Wop, Bones & Think of You.Newsted Heavy Metal MusicOneRepublic NativeReal Friends Put Yourself Back TogetherRx Bandits Covers EPSearch The City FlightThe Almost Fear Inside Our BonesThe Dear Hunter MigrantThe Joy Formidable Wolf's LawThe Maine Forever HalloweenTonight Alive The Other SideVeara Growing Up Is Killing MeYoungblood Hawke Wake Up3.5 great10 Years Feeding the Wolves10 Years Minus the Machine12 Stones Anthem For The Underdog12 Stones The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday30 Seconds to Mars A Beautiful LieA Loss For Words Webster LakeA Loss For Words Such Gold splitA Loss For Words These Past Five Years...A Loss For Words The Kids Can't LoseA Loss For Words No SanctuaryA Loss For Words Before It CavesA Rocket to the Moon Greetings From...EPA Rocket to the Moon The Rainy Day Sessions EPA Rocket to the Moon That Old FeelingA Tale of Two Cities Have HeartA Tale of Two Cities New HorizonsAbel (NY) Lesser MenAlesana The EmptinessAlkaline Trio I Lied My Face OffAlkaline Trio Hell YesAlkaline Trio Alkaline TrioAlkaline Trio Good MourningAlkaline Trio RemainsAlkaline Trio Agony and IronyAlkaline Trio DamnesiaAll Time Low Three Words to Remember in Dealing With The EndAll Time Low So Wrong, It's RightAll Time Low Don't PanicAlter Bridge AB IIIAnberlin Blueprints For The Black MarketA debut which displays enormous potential, 'Blueprints For The Black Market' sees Anberlin searching for their niche sound somewhere in between hard-edged rock & pop-punk. The quintet is at their best when at the heavier end of the spectrum ('Readyfuels' & 'Glass to the Arson'), however they occasionally pull off the hybrid sound near-perfectly (the catchy & memorable 'The Undeveloped Story' & emotional 'Cadence'). Even when the album leans towards generic pop-punk, Stephen Christian infuses hooky melodies and provides some moments of brilliance through his commanding & distinct vocals. Recommended Tracks: The Undeveloped Story, Readyfuels, Cadence & Glass To The Arson.Anberlin Lost SongsSeriously, it has to be considered showing-off when a band can put a song as great as the majestic part-acoustic/part-electric opener 'The Haunting' on a B-Sides, Covers & Rarities compilation. Elsewhere on 'Lost Songs', Anberlin display their usual brand of catchy rock, as well as some interesting covers (from the likes of Bob Dylan, Depeche Mode, Radiohead & The Smiths). Furthermore, a few of their classics have been acoustically stripped down to varying degrees of success. With 19 tracks & 70 minutes worth, this is a deep & enjoyable compilation that will predominantly appeal to fans. Recommended Tracks: The Haunting, Downtown Song, Enjoy The Silence & A Day Late (acoustic version).Anchor & Braille FeltAnchor & Braille The Quiet LifeArcade Fire The Arcade FireArctic Monkeys Favourite Worst NightmareArctic Monkeys Fluorescent AdolescentArctic Monkeys Suck It and SeeBalance and Composure Only BoundariesBalance and Composure The Things We Think We're MissingBastille Flaws (Remix)Bastille OverjoyedBastille Bad Blood EPBayside Sirens & CondolencesBayside Killing TimeBayside The Walking WoundedBayside Covers - Volume 1Beirut Elephant GunBeirut Lon GislandBeirut The Rip TideBeth Ditto EPBiffy Clyro Infinity LandBilly Talent Billy Talent IIIBilly Talent Dead SilenceBilly Talent Watoosh!Birds Of Tokyo Birds Of TokyoBlessed by a Broken Heart Pedal to the MetalBlessed by a Broken Heart Feel The PowerBlessthefall WitnessBlessthefall AwakeningBloc Party Silent AlarmBloc Party IntimacyBloc Party FourBlood Red Shoes Fire Like ThisBlood Red Shoes Box Of SecretsBlood Red Shoes In Time To VoicesBon Iver Myspace TransmissionsBraid/Balance and Composure SplitBritish India AvalancheBroadway Scratch and SniffBroadway KingdomsBroadway Calls Toxic KidsBroken Bells Broken BellsBuilt To Spill Perfect From Now OnCage The Elephant Cage the ElephantCalling All Cars Dancing With a Dead ManCalling All Cars Hold, Hold, FireCanterbury Calm DownCanterbury Heavy In The DayCassette Kids Nothing on TVCee Lo Green The Lady KillerCharli XCX You're the One EPCherri Bomb StarkCherri Bomb This Is the End of ControlChvrches The Mother We ShareCirca Survive The Inuit SessionsCirca Survive Violent WavesCirca Survive On Letting GoCirca Survive AppendageCity and Colour The MySpace Transmissions EPCloud Control Bliss ReleaseColour Color The Farther We GoCraig David Trust MeDananananaykroyd Hey EveryoneDance Gavin Dance HappinessDance Gavin Dance should be proud of surviving numerous line-up changes to record their best album to date with 3rd LP 'Happiness'. A strong 1st half sees technically proficient guitar-work successfully balance a jazzy progressive nature with a melodic dance-rock vibe. All the while, dual vocalists Kurt Travis & Will Swan work very well together. Highlights 'Carl Barker' & 'Happiness' also make this DGD's most accessible release yet. The album's 2nd half experiments with all sorts of dynamics and, while a few targets are missed, satisfyingly adds variety to the mix. Recommended Tracks: Carl Barker, Happiness, Powder to the People & NASA.Dashboard Confessional A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A ScarDashboard Confessional So ImpossibleDashboard Confessional Summers Kiss EPDashboard Confessional Alter The EndingDead Sara Dead SaraDef Leppard High 'n' DryDef Leppard Retro ActiveDef Leppard AdrenalizeDjango Django Django DjangoDommin Love Is GoneDon Broco Big Fat SmileDon Broco PrioritiesEisley Room NoisesEisley CombinationsEisley Telescope Eyes E.P.Eisley Deep SpaceEisley Like the Actors E.P.Eisley Laughing CityEisley Marvelous ThingsEllie Goulding LightsEllie Goulding HalcyonEmarosa EmarosaEmeli Sande Our Version Of EventsEmery The QuestionAfter their impressive debut LP, Emery unsurprisingly concentrate on their melodic strengths here on follow-up 'The Question'... The aggression has been cut back & the rougher edges have been polished up. This assists the energetic & catchy tracks (especially the hooky 'Studying Politics' & offbeat 'Listening to Freddie Mercury'), yet leaves other moments feeling a little sterile. Overall however, there is a likeable consistency evident, while the dual (sometimes tri) vocal attack is always an attraction. Recommended Tracks: Studying Politics, Listening to Freddie Mercury, Playing With Fire & The Terrible Secret.Emery While Broken Hearts PrevailOn EP opener 'The Smile, The Face', Emery deliver a statement of intent. A powerhouse of a song, it is their best since 'Walls'; a perfect blend of aggression & melody that is memorable from the get-go. Thankfully, 'While Broken Hearts Prevail' is not a one track EP, as the next 3 cuts blend Emery's trademark characteristics without outstaying their welcome. There is still some work to do as can be seen on the slower closing duo that don't quite get the mix right, however Emery are very much back on track here. Recommended Tracks: The Smile The Face, Edge of The World & Say The Things (You Want).Envy On The Coast Envy on the CoastEnvy On The Coast LowcountryEric Hutchinson Before I Sold OutEscape the Fate There's No Sympathy for the DeadEscape the Fate Dying Is Your Latest FashionEstelle The 18th DayEstelle ShineFair to Midland Inter.Funda.StifleFanfarlo Rooms Filled With LightFang Island Fang IslandFang Island Day of the Great LeapFang Island MajorFarewell Fighter The Winning TeamFightstar Grand Unification'Grand Unification' begins excellently with the same strengths that made Fightstar's debut EP so great; aggressive & passionate dual vocals, intricate guitar lines, a tight rhythm section & an appealing knack for melody. This time it's a little more polished & chorus reliant, but that is a neutral factor. Being critical; there is a mid-section lull, and despite some attempts at dramatic tempo switches it does get a little samey by the end. Yet, this is still a very accomplished & promising debut full-length release. Recommended Tracks: Grand Unification Pt. I, Waste A Moment, Paint Your Target & Hazy Eyes.Fireworks GospelFirst Aid Kit The Lion's RoarFirst Aid Kit The Big Black & the BlueFoals HummerFoo Fighters There Is Nothing Left to LoseFoo Fighters In Your HonorFoo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & GraceForever Came Calling HopE.P.assionForever the Sickest Kids Underdog Alma MaterForever the Sickest Kids J.A.C.K.Foster The People TorchesFour Year Strong Rise Or Die TryingFour Year Strong Enemy of the WorldFour Year Strong In Some Way, Shape, or Form.Foxy Shazam Foxy ShazamFrankie & The Heartstrings HungerFranz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much BetterFranz Ferdinand Tonight: Franz FerdinandFree Energy Stuck On NothingFree Energy Free Energy EPFrom First To Last AestheticFrom First To Last From First To Lastfun. Some Nightsfun. Daytrotter SessionFuneral for a Friend HoursFuneral for a Friend Memory and HumanityFuneral for a Friend See You All In HellFuture of the Left Man vs. MelodyFuture of the Left The Plot Against Common SenseFuture of the Left How To Stop Your Brain In An AccidentGabrielle Aplin Never FadeGabrielle Aplin English RainGallows Grey BritainGavin Castleton A Bullet, A Lever, A KeyGavin Castleton's concept EP tells the life story of it's lead character in reverse, with each track titled a particular year. Starting in 2054, this is not a happy story as a relationship break-up, drug issues & job loss are detailed. Over deceptively intricate music, Castleton's vocals alternate between anguished singing & spoken word, both of which successfully convey the mood of the situation & his age at the time. A lot of information needs to be absorbed & repetition does come into play towards the end, but with the EP lasting 20 minutes it's never over-bearing. Recommended Tracks: 2038, 2045 & 2031.Gin Wigmore Holy SmokeGirl Talk Night RipperA huge step up for Greg Gillis, 'Night Ripper' is arguably groundbreaking in the way that it layers multiple samples over each other & together to form a brand new piece. Even when the tracks aren't special in isolation, there are often moments of genius like KRS-One over Aerosmith, Notorious B.I.G over Elton John, and Sophie B Hawkins over Panjabi MC. The album is strangely front-loaded though. Or is it simply because the replay value of mash-ups is inherently low? Also not helping is that the vocals too often lean towards hip-hop. Still, reliving blasts from the past that are so well put together is darn fun. Recommended Tracks: Minute By Minute, Once Again, Hold Up & Bounce That.Girl Talk Feed the AnimalsGo Radio Welcome to LifeGo Radio Close the DistanceGotye Making MirrorsGotye Like Drawing BloodHalestorm Hello, It's Mz. Hyde EPHalestorm The Strange Case Of...Pennsylvanian hard-rockers Halestorm showcase their split personality on 2nd LP 'The Strange Case Of...'. Once more playing mainstream-leaning hard-rock, Howard Benson's production may be too polished this time around, slickening up Lzzy Hale's vocals to the point of detracting from her raw power. Conversely, one cannot deny the sheer catchiness evident here, as well as the band's admirable attempts to diversify their theoretically dated & generic sound. What made the band/label place 3 ballads consecutively mid-album - & exclude bonus track duet 'Private Parts' - will remain a mystery. Recommended Tracks: I Miss the Misery, Beautiful With You, Love Bites & Mz. Hyde.Halestorm HalestormHalestorm ReAnimate: The CoVeRsHandguns Anywhere But HomeHandguns Don't Bite Your TongueHandguns Handguns/Forever Came Calling SplitHands Like Houses Ground DwellerHard-Fi Once Upon A Time In The WestHellogoodbye Would It Kill You?Heroes For Hire Lights OutHeroes For Hire Take One For The TeamHeroes For Hire Life Of The PartyHey Rosetta! Plan Your Escape EPHit The Lights Invicta EPHouse Of Heroes The Acoustic EndHouse of Pain House of PainHRVRD Animals EPHyro Da Hero Birth, School, Work, DeathI Am the Avalanche Avalanche UnitedI Call Fives First Things First EPI Call Fives Bad AdviceImagine Dragons Continued Silence - EPImagine Dragons Night VisionsImagine Dragons Imagine DragonsImagine Dragons It's TimeIn Every Breath DistrustIvoryline The Life You HaveIvoryline There Came A LionJack's Mannequin The Glass PassengerNot as immediate as the band's debut, 'The Glass Passenger' sees Andrew McMahon trade in "witty" and replace it with "mature" following his successful battle with leukemia. While the hooks & melodies are turned down, the album is definitely a grower if given the chance. But while there really is not a bad track amongst the 13, the majority of them do not demand repeat listens. Thankfully, this is balanced off by 'The Resolution', which is not only the band's best song yet, but a song of the year contender. Recommended Tracks: The Resolution, Spinning, Drop Out - The So Unknown & American Love.Jack's Mannequin People and ThingsJanus ArmorJanus Red Right ReturnJanus Nox AerisJapandroids Post-NothingJessie Ware DevotionJet Get BornJimmy Eat World ClarityJimmy Eat World InventedJimmy Eat World DamageJonathan Boulet Jonathan BouletConsidering he wrote, recorded, produced & played almost every instrument on his self-titled debut album, 21 year old Sydney-sider Jonathan Boulet has quite the future. Filled with feel-good vocal harmonies & toe-tapping rhythms (he is the drummer for Parades), this LP is perfect for a mild summer evening. Boulet falters a little in the mid-section where he tries to be a touch too experimental, but ultimately this is a strong debut whose highlights are catchy indie-pop gems with an earthy difference. Recommended Tracks: A Community Service Announcement, 321 Ready or Not, Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die & Continue Calling.Junior Battles Idle AgesK Sera The MachinistKadawatha AgapeKaiser Chiefs EmploymentKanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyKasabian West Ryder Pauper Lunatic AsylumWith Chris Karloff's departure, guitarist Sergio Pizzorno writes every song on Kasabian's 3rd LP 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum'. This is a positive since it makes this their most focused & consistent release. Kudos also goes to hip-hop producer Dan The Automator, since the haphazard hit & miss nature of previous efforts is predominantly gone, and even the most psychedelic tracks remain accessible. Lyrical & originality issues mean it's no album of the year (what were you thinking Q?), although the addictive 'Fire' contends for song of '09 honors. Recommended Tracks: Fire, Where Did All The Love Go?, Underdog & Fast Fuse.Kasabian KasabianKaty B On A MissionKerrie Roberts No Matter WhatKerrie Roberts Once Upon A TimeKids In Glass Houses Smart CasualKids In Glass Houses In Gold BloodKill Hannah For Never & EverKisschasy Hymns for the NonbelieverKodaline KodalineLadyhawke AnxietyLana Del Rey ParadiseLast Dinosaurs Back From The DeadLights AcousticLights SiberiaLights SaviourLights The ListeningLinkin Park Hybrid TheoryLisa Mitchell Welcome to the AfternoonLisa Mitchell WonderLittle Comets Adultery EPLittle Comets In Search of Elusive Little CometsLittle Comets Life Is ElsewhereLiving Colour StainLiving Colour The Chair in the DoorwayLos Campesinos! Romance Is BoringLos Campesinos! Sticking fingers Into SocketsLos Campesinos! Hold On Now, Youngster...Los Campesinos! Heat Rash #4Los Campesinos! Heat Rash #3Lostprophets WeaponsLower Than Atlantis Punk on the coversLower Than Atlantis Far QLower Than Atlantis Changing TuneLowtalker The MarathonM-Phazes Good GraciousMadina Lake From Them, Through Us, To YouMadina Lake's heavier brand of pop-punk may not be the most original sound, but their debut album 'From Them, Through Us, To You' is a fun listen on the back of a number of supremely catchy tracks. The 4 singles are infectious standouts, but they are well complemented by 'Now or Never', 'Stars' & the more post-hardcore leaning 'True Love', which all contain anthemic components that are high on the sing-along factor. The band is not as convincing when they attempt to branch out ('River People' & 'Morning Sadness'), but they predominantly know their strengths & never outstay their welcome. Recommended Tracks: Here I Stand, House of Cards, Pandora & One Last Kiss.Make Do and Mend Bodies Of WaterMake Do and Mend Part and ParcelManchester Orchestra I'm Like a Virgin Losing a ChildManchester Orchestra Nobody Sings AnymoreManchester Orchestra 5 StoriesManchester Orchestra You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, But Brilliance...Marianas Trench Marianas TrenchMarina and The Diamonds The Crown JewelsMarina and The Diamonds Electra HeartMatt and Toby Matt And TobyMayday Parade Tales Told By Dead FriendsMayday Parade Anywhere But HereMayday Parade ValdostaMenomena Friend And FoeMenomena MinesMetallica No Life 'Til LeatherMetallica ReloadMetallica Some Kind of MonsterMetallica Beyond MagneticMetric Live It OutOn 'Live It Out', Metric use a louder & more pronounced guitar attack in combination with the band's usual new-wave tendencies. It works well too, since James Shaw puts together some genuinely hooky guitar melodies. The LP is a little inconsistent & some of the slower cuts lack appeal, but even then the enchanting & almost mysterious voice of Emily Haines makes those tracks interesting & worth a listen. The 2 clear highlights are the supremely catchy 'Monster Hospital' & the quiet/loud dynamics of 6 minute opener 'Empty'. Recommended Tracks: Monster Hospital, Empty, Handshakes & Glass Ceiling.Metric FantasiesTwo tracks into 'Fantasies', you get the feeling that this could be the album of 2009. 'Help I'm Alive' & 'Sick Muse' are a fantastic opening duo that are alluring & super catchy (both vocally & musically). There are memorable tracks elsewhere, but there are also some overlong cuts that are too complex & atmospheric for their own good. When Metric concentrate on writing hooky melodies from their synth-pop/alt-rock concoction, they are something special. Unfortunately, when they don't, the replay factor is low. Thankfully, there are more hits than misses here. Recommended Tracks: Help I'm Alive, Sick Muse, Gimme Sympathy & Stadium Love.Mew No More StoriesMGMT Time to PretendMGMT Oracular SpectacularMiami Horror BravadoMiami Horror IlluminationMiike Snow Miike SnowMiles Kane First Of My KindMoneen Are we Really Happy with who we are Right Now?With dual vocals that occasionally stray towards whiney emo, Moneen reminds of early Taking Back Sunday on their 2nd LP. However, there is more ambition at play here with their energetic pop-punk sound being stretched in all directions through tempo-switching & experimental song structures. Furthermore, the above-average lyrics concern more than just the usual stereotypes of the genre, while Chris Hughes' guitar-work is super impressive. Some songs are a little too rough around the edges & over-length is a concern as many songs begin to blend into each other over 51 minutes, but this is a very good LP that hints at the potential for greatness! Recommended Tracks 5, 2, 8 & 9.Moneen Hold that sound EPThis 4 track EP gives a sneak peek at Moneen's upcoming 4th album. There is adequate reasoning for it to exist, as it seems as if they have undergone a change in sound if the title track is anything to go by. Gone are the whiney vocals and in their place are a plethora of smooth melodies & soaring musical harmonies that appear to be targeting a mainstream audience. Elsewhere, the frenetic nature of 'Madness!' may remind of prior works, but is a rather unremarkable song. Finally, 2 gentle acoustic tracks show the band's sincere side and come up trumps, with the simple - yet memorable & recitable - chorus of 'The Way' especially impressing. Recommended Tracks: Hold That Sound & The Way.Motion City Soundtrack Even If It Kills MeMotion City Soundtrack Making MovesMumford and Sons Sigh No MoreMumford and Sons BabelMuse Origin of SymmetryMy Chemical Romance Three Cheers For Sweet RevengeMy Chemical Romance The Black Parade Is Dead! My Chemical Romance Danger Days: The True Lives of...My Chemical Romance Number TwoNaughty By Nature Poverty's ParadiseNeon Trees HabitsNeon Trees Picture ShowNever Shout Never IndigoNew Young Pony Club The OptimistNewsted MetalP.O.S. Never BetterPanic! At the Disco A Fever You Can't Sweat OutPanic! At the Disco Vices & VirtuesParamore All We Know Is FallingParamore Singles ClubParamore The Summer Tic EPPassion Pit Chunk of ChangePhrase BabylonPierce the Veil A Flair For The DramaticPMtoday In Medias ResPMtoday And Then The HurricanePure Love Handsome Devils ClubRa Ra Riot Ra Ra Riot EPRa Ra Riot The OrchardRazorlight Up All NightReal Friends Everyone That Dragged You HereReal Friends This Is HonestyReal Friends Three Songs About the Past Year of My LifeRed End of SilenceOn top of the alternating angsty & melodic vocals of traditional nu/alt-metal, Red has the ability to write a good hook, whether it be via a catchy chorus, a hard-hitting riff or the inclusion of piano & strings arrangements. The latter component is their secret weapon, and while over-used, it is an effective one. Vocalist Michael Barnes has a strong voice which also conveys emotion well, whether the piece is hard & fast, or soft & slow. The LP is front-loaded, but the stripped back closer ends things on a surprising note. An impressive debut with genuine crossover potential. Recommended Tracks: Lost, Let Go, Breathe Into Me & Already Over Pt 2.Red City Radio To the Sons & Daughters of Woody GuthrieRed City Radio The Dangers of Standing StillRise Against The Unraveling (Re-Issue)Newer fans that have been won over by Rise Against's most recent & more polished releases need not fear, as 'The Unraveling' is a surprisingly accomplished debut that contains all of the band's trademark strengths. The 2005 re-issue polishes things up a little and adds a couple of decent bonus tracks to the mix, but come the end of the day, it is the melody, passion and thought-provoking lyrics which still make this an excellent listen from beginning to end. For more detail, see my review of the original 2001 version of the LP. Recommended Tracks: Everchanging, 1000 Good Intentions, My Life Inside Your Heart & Alive and Well.Rise Against Revolutions Per MinuteRise Against The UnravelingRise Against Join The RanksRobyn Body TalkRoyal Republic We Are The RoyalRx Bandits MandalaOn 6th LP 'Mandala', the RX Bandits predominantly ditch the horns and add more keys to their creative, technical & progressive brand of rock. Initial signs are favorable with opening rocker 'My Lonesome Only Friend' being a highlight. Unfortunately, the remainder of the 1st half is not as immediately gripping as their previous album & comparatively struggles without the X-factor of the horns. Thankfully, the LP's latter half is its strength, with great variety & some stunning individual performances, especially from vocalist Matt Embree & drummer Chris Tsagakis. A grower of an album that is ultimately rewarding. Recommended Tracks: 1, 10, 7 & 3.Saliva Every Six SecondsSan Cisco AwkwardSaosin SaosinSaosin The GreySaosin In Search Of Solid GroundSay Anything Say AnythingThere may not be a songwriter as consistently witty & humorous as Say Anything's Max Bemis. The "manorexic" whose "hair cannot commit to one popular genre of music" rearranges song structures, while filling the band's self-titled 4th LP with hilarious pop-culture references. Efficiently refining their most outlandish characteristics without sacrificing variety, consistency or any of their one-of-a-kind attributes, this is the sextet's most catchy & accessible release to date. From the captivating opener to the infectious refrain of the closer, Say Anything have delivered another stellar LP that satisfyingly balances mature progression & crowd-pleasing quirkiness. Recommended Tracks: Crush'd, Mara and Me, Less Cute & Ahhh... Men.Senses Fail Let it Enfold You-Special EditionSenses Fail Let It Enfold YouSenses Fail Life Is Not A Waiting RoomSenses Fail RenacerSharks Shallow WatersSharks Show of HandsSharks The Joys Of Living 2008-2010Sharks SelfhoodSick Puppies Dressed Up as LifeSilversun Pickups SeasickSilversun Pickups CarnavasSimple Plan Still Not Getting Any...Skrillex Scary Monsters and Nice SpritesSkunk Anansie Paranoid And SunburntSkunk Anansie WonderlustreSky Ferreira As If!Sleeping With Sirens With Ears to See and Eyes to HearSleeping With Sirens Let's Cheers to ThisSleeping With Sirens FeelSnakadaktal SnakadaktalSparks The Rescue Worst Thing I've Been Cursed WithSparks The Rescue The Secrets We Can't KeepSparks The Rescue Eyes to the SunSpokes People Like People Like YouState Champs Apparently, I'm NothingSteel Panther Feel The SteelSteel Train TrampolineStone Sour Audio SecrecyStone Sour House of Gold and Bones - Part 1Story of the Year Page AvenueDespite attempting to reach too many targets with an invariable sound, Story of the Year impress in being able to deliver a number of aggressively catchy melodies on their debut LP 'Page Avenue'. Clearly a front-loaded album - with its best quartet of tracks arguably being the first four - the St.Louis quintet alternate from post-hardcore to hard-rock, and from pop-rock to metalcore in searching for their true sound. The memorable highlights on offer here suggest a band with genuine crossover potential, but a little more streamlining & imagination will be required first. Recommended Tracks: Until The Day I Die, Anthem of Our Dying Day, And The Hero Will Drown & In The Shadows.Story of the Year The Black SwanStory of the Year The ConstantStrange Talk Cast AwayStreetlight Manifesto 99 Songs of Revolution: Volume ISuch Gold MisadventuresSum 41 Half Hour Of PowerSum 41 Does This Look Infected TooSum 41 Does This Look InfectedSum 41 Motivation EPSurfer Blood Astro CoastSurfer Blood Tarot ClassicsSurfer Blood PythonsTaking Back Sunday New AgainTaking Back Sunday Taking Back SundayTenacious D Tenacious DTerrible Things Terrible ThingsThe 1975 SexThe 1975 IVThe Academy Is... SantiThe All-American Rejects The All-American RejectsThe All-American Rejects The Bite Back EPThe All-American Rejects When the World Comes DownThe Almost Southern WeatherUnderoath drummer/clean vocalist Aaron Gillespie does a Dave Grohl & not only writes every song for this side-project, but practically plays every instrument too. It's a resounding success as the harsh sound of his main band is toned down to a more conventional rock feel. Where Gillespie really shines is his ability to create hooks. The catchy & memorable 'Say This Sooner' has numerous, as does the Amazing Grace re-working 'Amazing Because It Is'. While there is no filler, a few too many tracks do unfortunately blend into each other though. Recommended Tracks: Amazing Because It Is, Say This Sooner, Southern Weather & Everyone Here Smells Like A Rat.The Almost Monster EPReleased 4 weeks prior to The Almost's 2nd LP, the 'Monster EP' is a promising teaser due to the strength of its 5 tracks. 'Hands' is a radio-ready highlight with its winning piano line, jangly guitars & super infectious sing-along chorus, while B-Side 'Birmingham' adds a punk influenced chant. Conversely, the opening acoustic half of the 6 minute title track re-explores the occasional country vibe given off on the band's debut, before satisfyingly breaking out into an instrumental jam. The remaining 2 cuts are not distinctly memorable, but each has a hooky chorus similar to Southern Weather's album tracks. Recommended Tracks: Hands, Monster & Birmingham.The Big Pink A Brief History of LoveThe Blackout The Blackout! The Blackout! The Blackout!The Blackout's debut EP is nothing you have not heard before, but with hardly a filler track it ticks all the boxes for a young band. From the metalcore like aggressive opener to the dual clean approach of the middle duo, the Welshmen are equally as proficient when it comes to vocals, musicianship & songwriting. They are at their best however, when performing a melodic & very accessible brand of post-hardcore - as heard on lead single 'Hard Slammin' - where Gavin Butler's catchy vocal melodies are well complemented by Sean Smith's manic & energetic screaming. Recommended Tracks: Hard Slammin', I'm A Riot? You're A F**king Riot! & Fashion Conscious Suicide.The Blackout We Are the DynamiteThe Blackout's debut full-length release threatens to run off the rails early with some bland, lazy & uninspiring guitar-work, but eventually delivers another impressive slice of fun, infectious & melodic post-hardcore. The dueling vocalists are once more in action on cuts like 'Spread Legs Not Lies' & 'Prepare For A Wound', while the polished production brings out the Welsh sextet's more accessible side elsewhere ('The Beijing Cocktail' simply oozes hooks). A semi-epic orchestral closer then hints at the band's maturity & ends things off nicely. Recommended Tracks: Spread Legs Not Lies, The Beijing Cocktail, Prepare For A Wound & Life and Death In Space.The Blackout HopeThe Cab Glitz and GlamourThe Cab Symphony SoldierThe Damned Things IroniclastThe Dangerous Summer Reach For The SunThe Dangerous Summer If You Could Only Keep Me AliveThe Darien Venture The Back to the Future EPThe Darien Venture IndicationsThe Dear Hunter BlackThe Dear Hunter GreenThe Dear Hunter Act I: The Lake South, the River NorthThe Dear Hunter Act III: Life and DeathThe Dear Hunter BranchesThe Dear Hunter The Migrations AnnexThe Feeling Twelve Stops And HomeThe Felix Culpa Sever Your RootsThe Felix Culpa SoSo RemissionThe Format SnailsThe Format And Now I Hope You're Alright - Live in CaliforniaThe Fratellis The Flathead EPThe Fratellis Here We StandThe Gaslight Anthem Señor and the QueenThe Gaslight Anthem Live at Park AvenueThe Getaway Plan Other Voices, Other RoomsThe Graduate Horror ShowThe Graduate The Evergreen EPThe Graduate Every Other TimeThe Holidays Post ParadiseFilled with indie-pop tunes that carry vibrant, percussion-heavy rhythms & just a touch of electro, Sydney quartet The Holidays have released a real summer album that seems to have come straight from a tropical island in the Caribbean. It's not exactly the most innovative LP ever & it does run out of steam towards the end as the band attempt to experiment a little more with darker sounds. Yet, with catchy melodies & suitably relaxing vocals, 'Post Paradise' still makes for an extremely promising debut LP. Recommended Tracks: Golden Sky, Moonlight Hours, 6 AM & 2 Days.The Horrible Crowes ElsieThe Joy Formidable A Balloon Called MoaningThe Joy Formidable The Big MoreThe Maccabees Colour It InThe Maccabees Wall of ArmsThe Menzingers Chamberlain WaitsThe Menzingers On the Impossible PastThe Morning Benders Talking Through Tin CansThe Pretty Reckless Light Me UpThe Pretty Reckless Hit Me Like A ManThe Rocket Summer Calendar DaysThe Rocket Summer Of Men and AngelsThe Rocket Summer Of Men and Angels: B-SidesThe Script The ScriptThe Sleeping Question & AnswersThe Sleeping The Big DeepThe Starting Line DirectionThe Story So Far While You Were SleepingThe Story So Far The Story So Far/Maker SplitThe Subways Money and CelebrityThe Subways Young For EternityThe Sun and The Sea NightfallsThe Swellers Beginning Of The End AgainThe Swellers My EverestThe Swellers Running Out of Places to GoThe Tallest Man on Earth Shallow GraveThe Tallest Man on Earth Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing BirdThe Temper Trap ConditionsThe Used ArtworkThe Weeknd ThursdayThe Wombats A Guide to Love, Loss and DesperationThe Wonder Years Won't Be Pathetic ForeverThe Wonder Years Suburbia: I've Given You All and Now I'm NothingThe World is a Beautiful Place... Whenever, If EverThere For Tomorrow PagesThere For Tomorrow There For TomorrowThere For Tomorrow A Little FasterThis Century Sound of FireThis Century Look What We MadeThis Century 2007 EPThis Century To Love and Back - EPThis Century Hopeful Romantic Sampler EPThis Century Acoustics EPThis Providence The Sunday BestThis Providence Our Worlds DivorceThis Providence The Bright LightsThursday A City By the Light DividedTonight Alive All Shapes & DisguisesTonight Alive Consider ThisTonight Alive What Are You So Scared Of?TRUSTcompany True ParallelsTRUSTcompany Dreaming In Black and WhiteTTNG This Town Needs GunsTwo Door Cinema Club Tourist HistoryTwo Door Cinema Club Four Words to Stand OnTwo Door Cinema Club BeaconValencia We All Need A Reason To BelieveValencia Dancing With A GhostVampire Weekend Vampire WeekendVan Halen Women and Children FirstVan Halen A Different Kind of TruthVan Halen OU812Veara What We Left BehindVersaEmerge PerceptionsVersaEmerge VersaEmergeJust 6 months after the release of 'Perceptions', VersaEmerge return with yet another very good 17 minute EP that sees their sound evolve with more electronica added to the mix. Keys/synths play a large part in 4 of the 6 tracks, yet it is the remaining 2 cuts which impress most; 'Past Praying For' is simply very catchy, while a re-recording of 'Clocks' takes on a more acoustic feel & sees it go from average to fantastic. This self-titled EP is a marginal improvement on 'Perceptions', if only for the lack of multiple interludes. VersaEmerge are well & truly ready to release their debut album now. Recommended Tracks: Past Praying For & Clocks.Versus The World Drink. Sing. Live. Love.Wale Attention DeficitWalk the Moon Walk the MoonWalk the Moon i want! i want!Walk the Moon TightropeWe Are The In Crowd Guaranteed To DisagreeWe Are The Ocean We Are The OceanWe Are The Ocean Cutting Our TeethWe Are The Ocean Go Now And LiveWe Still Dream ChaptersWe The Kings Smile KidWeezer HurleyWilliam Beckett Winds Will ChangeWolfmother Cosmic EggWU LYF Heavy Pop / Concrete Gold Yeasayer Odd BloodYellowcard The Underdog EPYellowcard Lights and SoundsYellowcard When You're Through Thinking, Say YesYou Me At Six Take Off Your ColoursEngland finally contributes something worthwhile to pop-punk with 'Take Off Your Colours', the debut LP from teenage quintet You Me At Six. While fun & consistent, the straight-forward 1st half is a little too derivative of many U.S bands. Yet, it accentuates the more diverse latter half which displays both maturity & potential. Despite the predictable lyrical themes, the songwriting is above-average and longer cuts such as acoustic ballad 'Always Attract' and closer 'The Rumour' (complete with sing-along finale) show a knack for ambitious song structure. Recommended Tracks: The Rumour, Always Attract, Jealous Minds Think Alike & If I Were In Your Shoes.You Me At Six Sinners Never SleepYou, Me, And Everyone We Know A Great Big HoleYou, Me, And Everyone We Know Things Are Really Weird Right NowYou, Me, And Everyone We Know So Young, So InsaneYoung Guns BonesYoungblood Hawke Youngblood Hawke3.4 greatAir Review Low WishesAndrew McMahon The Pop UndergroundBloc Party The Nextwave SessionsEisley CurrentsEmpire Of The Sun Ice On the DuneEscape the Fate UngratefulJessie Ware If You're Never Gonna MoveMy Chemical Romance Number FourNever Shout Never Acoustic EPPress to Meco AffinityRed Release the PanicSparks The Rescue Truth Inside the FictionThe Delta Riggs Hex.Lover.KillerThe Wonder Years Manton Street3.3 greatA Rocket to the Moon Wild & FreeBirds Of Tokyo March FiresBlood Red Shoes WaterFrankie & The Heartstrings The Days Run AwayLove and Death Between Here And LostParamore ParamoreThe Story So Far SplitVinnie Caruana City By The SeaWilliam Beckett Genuine & Counterfeit3.2 goodBlessthefall Hollow BodiesFree Energy Love SignLittle Boots NocturnesTwo Door Cinema Club Changing Of The Seasons3.1 goodKodaline Love Like ThisOrianthi Heaven In This HellThe Blackout Start The PartyTTNG 126.96.36.199.03.0 good10 Years Killing All That Holds You12 Stones Potter's Field12 Stones Beneath the ScarsA Loss For Words Motown ClassicsA Rocket to the Moon On Your SideAdele 19Aiden Nightmare AnatomyAiden ConvictionAiden Some Kind of HateAirbourne Runnin' WildAirbourne Black Dog BarkingAlabama Shakes Alabama ShakesAlabama Shakes Boys & GirlsAlesana A Place Where the Sun is SilentAlesana On Frail Wings Of Vanity And WaxAlex Turner Submarine OSTAlexisonfire Watch Out!Alkaline Trio For Your Lungs OnlyAlkaline Trio This AddictionAll Time Low Nothing PersonalAmy Macdonald Life In A Beautiful LightAnchor & Braille Anchor & BrailleAnna Calvi Anna CalviAnthony Raneri New CathedralsArctic Monkeys HumbugAsking Alexandria Reckless and RelentlessBahamas BarchordsBalance and Composure AcousticBeach House Zebra EPBeach House Teen DreamBeirut The Flying Club CupBeirut Gulag OrkestarBeirut March of the Zapotec/HollandBirds Of Tokyo This FireBlack Veil Brides Set The World On FireBlack Veil Brides We Stitch These WoundsBlaqk Audio CexCellsBlaqk Audio Bright Black HeavenBloc Party Four MoreBlood Orange Coastal GroovesBon Iver Blood BankBrand New DaisyNo-one can ever accuse Brand New of making the same album twice and 'Daisy' could be their greatest divergence yet! Often loud, aggressive & grungy, this divisive LP is intentionally raw, wild & messy. It works when the deceptive melodies reveal themselves & the quintet get the soft/loud dynamics right, but as a whole it comes off feeling only solid & a little unmemorable. It is not helped by atypical impersonal lyrics & too little method to the madness. The initial effect is jarring, then it grows, but ultimately 'Daisy' settles as a disappointing & over-ambitious experiment. Recommended Tracks: At The Bottom, You Stole & Vices.Brandon Flowers FlamingoBreaking Benjamin Dear AgonyBreathe Carolina Hell Is What You Make ItBroadway Gentleman's BrawlBroadway Calls Broadway CallsBroken Bells Meyrin FieldsBuilt To Spill You In ReverseBuilt To Spill There's Nothing Wrong With LoveBuilt To Spill Ancient Melodies Of The FutureCatcall The Warmest PlaceCirca Survive JuturnaColdplay Every Teardrop Is a WaterfallColdplay Mylo XylotoCraig David Slicker Than Your AverageD.R.U.G.S. D.R.U.G.S.Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Dark Night of the SoulDaniel Merriweather Love & WarDappled Cities ZoundsDashboard Confessional The Shade of Poison TreesDashboard Confessional The Swiss Army RomanceDashboard Confessional The DrowningDavid Guetta One LoveDeaf Havana It's Called The Easy LifeDef Leppard On Through the NightDef Leppard Yeah!Def Leppard Songs from the Sparkle LoungeEisley Head Against the SkyEisley Fire Kite EPEliza Doolittle Eliza DoolittleEmarosa This is Your Way OutEmarosa RelativityEmery I'm Only A ManEmpire Of The Sun Walking On A DreamEric Hutchinson Sounds Like ThisEscape the Fate Escape The Fate EPEscape the Fate SituationsEscape the Fate Escape the FateEscape the Fate Escape The Fate (Deluxe Edition)Estelle All of MeEvermore DreamsFair to Midland The Drawn and Quartered EPFireworks Adventure, Nostalgia, and RobberyFireworks BonfiresFirst Aid Kit Drunken TreesFoo Fighters Foo FightersForever the Sickest Kids Television Off, Party OnForever the Sickest Kids Forever the Sickest KidsFour Year Strong DemoFour Year Strong It's Our TimeFoxy Shazam IntroducingFoxy Shazam The Church of Rock and RollFraming Hanley The MomentFrom First To Last HeroineFuneral for a Friend Casually Dressed & Deep in ConversationFuture of the Left CursesGabriella Cilmi Lessons to Be LearnedGabriella Cilmi TenGabrielle Aplin Acoustic EPGallows Orchestra Of WolvesGallows Death Is BirthGeneral Fiasco BuildingsGypsy and the Cat GilgameshHaim ForeverHalestorm One and Done EPHandguns AngstHey Rosetta! Red SongsHey Rosetta! Plan Your EscapeHit The Lights This Is a Stick Up...Hit The Lights InvictaHit The Lights Skip School, Start FightsHit The Lights Coast to Coast (EP)House Of Heroes The Christmas ClassicsI Call Fives Someone That's Not YouImagine Dragons Hell and SilenceIn Every Breath AwakeningIn This Moment A Star-Crossed WastelandIn This Moment BloodJames Blake CMYKJames Blake James BlakeJames Blake Enough ThunderJapandroids All LiesJapandroids Lullaby Death JamsJapandroids No SinglesJay-Z and Linkin Park Collision CourseJessica Mauboy Been WaitingJimmy Eat World Chase This LightJunior Battles Hotel BiblesKaiser Chiefs Off With Their HeadsKasabian Velociraptor!Kasabian EmpireKerrie Roberts Kerrie RobertsKids In Glass Houses E-Pocalypse!Kill Hannah Here Are The Young ModernsKill Hannah American Jet SetKill Hannah Wake Up The SleepersKisschasy United Paper PeopleKisschasy SeizuresKlaxons Myths of the Near FutureKodaline High HopesLady Antebellum iTunes SessionsLady Antebellum Need You NowLate of the Pier Fantasy Black ChannelLead Hands DecoderLights LightsLily Allen Alright, StillLinkin Park MeteoraLisa Mitchell Said One to the OtherLittle Boots HandsLittle Comets Jennifer And Other Short StoriesLittle Red Midnight RememberLiving Colour CollideoscopeLiving Colour BiscuitsLos Campesinos! We Are Beautiful, We Are DoomedLos Campesinos! All's Well That EndsLos Campesinos! Heat Rash #1Los Campesinos! Hello SadnessLove and Death ChemicalsMadina Lake Attics To EdenMadina Lake World War IIIManchester Orchestra Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind EP/DVDManchester Orchestra Fourteen Years Of ExcellenceMenomena MomsMetallica The Unnamed FeelingMetallica The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-RevisitedMetallica LoadMetallica St. AngerMetric SyntheticaMetronomy Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe)Metronomy Nights OutMetronomy The English RivieraMiike Snow Happy to YouMiles Kane Colour of the TrapMoneen The World I Want To Leave BehindMotion City Soundtrack I Am the MovieMuse Muse EPWith 3 of this EP's 4 tracks being later re-recorded for their excellent debut LP 'Showbiz', the 16 minute 'Muse EP' is a nice little summation of the English trio's early potential. Many of Muse's strengths are on show, including Matt Bellamy's falsetto vocals & attention-grabbing riffs, as well as a talented knack to pull off effective quiet/loud dynamics. However, to suggest that this is much more than a taste of things to come would be going over the top, since the 3 'Showbiz' tracks were not highlights of that admittedly even album, and eventual B-Side 'Coma' is just another good solid track. Recommended Track: Cave.Muse Random 1-8Muse have always been ambitious and that fits right in with releasing (if only in Japan) an 8 track EP of B-Sides and live cuts after only one LP. Individually, most of these songs could have slotted in as album tracks on 'Showbiz', but as a whole they only result in a good solid package and nothing more. Only for diehard fans of the band, Muse's usual traits are on show here; The tempo-switching 'Host', the hooky guitar riffs of 'Coma' and the distorted vocals of 'Agitated'. Yet, it is the slower and haunting near-instrumental of 'Forced In' which stands out alongside the live version of the under-rated 'Filip'.Muse Hullabaloo SoundtrackNatalie Imbruglia Come to LifeNaughty By Nature 19 Naughty IIINever Shout Never Yippee EPNever Shout Never Time TravelNew Young Pony Club Fantastic PlayroomNewton Faulkner Hand Built By RobotsOf Machines As If Everything Was Held In PlaceOK Go Of The Blue Colour Of The SkyOneRepublic Dreaming Out LoudOneRepublic Waking UpOrianthi BelieveOrianthi FireOrson Bright IdeaOwl City Ocean EyesOwl City Maybe I'm DreamingPaloma Faith Fall To GraceParamore 2010 Summer Tour EPParamore The Only Exception EPPink FunhousePink The Truth About LoveReal Friends Acoustic SongsRev Theory Light It UpRev Theory Truth is CurrencyRise Against Rise AgainstRomantic Rebel Romantic RebelSaliva Back Into Your SystemSaliva Cinco DiabloSaving Abel Bringing Down the GiantSenses Fail From The Depths Of DreamsSet Your Goals Mutiny!Set Your Goals Burning At Both EndsSkrillex My Name Is SkrillexSkrillex BangarangSkunk Anansie StooshSkunk Anansie Post Orgasmic ChillSky Ferreira GhostSonny Moore GypsyhookSparks The Rescue Hey, Mr. AllureSteel Panther Balls OutSteel Train For You My DearStone Sour DemoStone Sour Stone SourSuch Gold PedestalsSuch Gold Stand TallSuch Gold A Loss For Words splitSugar Army The Parallels Amongst OurselvesSum 41 ChuckSum 41 Underclass HeroSum 41 Screaming Bloody MurderT-Pain Rappa Ternt SangaT-Pain RevolverT-Pain Thr33 RingzT-Pain Freaknik: The MusicalTenacious D The Pick of DestinyTerrible Things Pre-TransmissionThe 1975 FacedownThe 1975 Music For CarsThe Academy Is... From The CarpetThe Academy Is... Fast Times at Barrington HighThe Academy Is... Lost In Pacific Time: The AP/EPThe All-American Rejects Kids in the StreetThe All-American Rejects Flatline EPThe Almost Monster, MonsterThe Automatic This Is a FixThe Big Pink Future ThisThe Cab Drunk LoveThe Cab Whisper WarThe Dear Hunter BlueThe Dear Hunter IndigoThe Format B-Sides and RaritiesThe Fratellis The Fratellis EPThe Killers Day & AgeThe Killers (RED) ChristmasThe Killers Battle BornThe Killing Lights Kiss The Sun GoodbyeThe Maine Good Love: The Pioneer B-SidesThe Maine The Way We Talk EPThe Maine Can't Stop, Won't StopThe Menzingers A Lesson in the Abuse of Information TechnologyThe Morning Benders Big EchoThe Pretty Reckless The Pretty RecklessThe Rakes Capture/ReleaseThe Rakes KlangThe Rocket Summer The Early YearsThe Rocket Summer Life Will Write The WordsThe Rocket Summer The Rocket SummerThe Script #3The Starting Line With Hopes Of Starting Over EPThe Starting Line Make Yourself at Home EPThe Summer Set ...In ColorThe Summer Set Love Like ThisThe Sun and The Sea Demo EPThe Swellers Vehicle City BluesThe Tallest Man on Earth The Tallest Man on EarthThe Temper Trap The Temper TrapThe Wombats This Modern GlitchThe Wonder Years Get Stoked On It!The Wonder Years The UpsidesThe World is a Beautiful Place... FormlessnessThem Crooked Vultures Them Crooked VulturesThere For Tomorrow Point Of OriginThere For Tomorrow The VergeThis Century No Way OutThis Providence This ProvidenceThis Providence Who Are You Now?This Providence BrierThursday War All the TimeTNGHT TNGHTTom Gabel Heart BurnsTTNG Hippy Jam festTTNG AnimalsValencia This Could Be A PossibilityVampire Weekend ContraVan Halen BalanceVan Halen Diver DownWe Are The In Crowd Best IntentionsWild Beasts Two DancersWilliam Beckett Walk the TalkYeasayer All Hour CymbalsYeasayer Fragrant WorldYellowcard Still StandingYellowcard One for the KidsYou Me At Six Hold Me Down2.8 good30 Seconds to Mars Love Lust Faith + DreamsPanic! At the Disco Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!This Century Biography of Heartbreak2.7 averageRa Ra Riot Beta LoveSick Puppies ConnectThe Summer Set LegendaryThe Used The Ocean Of The SkyThese Hearts Yours To TakeUpon Wings Afterlife2.6 averageNever Shout Never SunflowerSaliva In It to Win ItSkrillex LeavingThe Bunny The Bear Stories2.5 average30 Seconds to Mars 30 Seconds to Mars30 Seconds to Mars This Is WarA Rocket to the Moon Summer 2007 EPAaron Gillespie Anthem SongAiden Rain In HellAlesana Try This With Your Eyes ClosedAlesana Where Myth Fades to LegendAll Time Low Dirty WorkAllstar Weekend SuddenlyAllstar Weekend Suddenly YoursAllstar Weekend All the WayArchitecture In Helsinki In Case We DieArchitecture In Helsinki Moment BendsArctic Monkeys Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?Arctic Monkeys Five Minutes With Arctic MonkeysAsking Alexandria Stand Up and ScreamBahamas Pink StratBayside Long Stories ShortBeach House DevotionBeirut PompeiiBlack Veil Brides RebelsBlessthefall His Last WalkBloc Party A Weekend in the CityBluejuice ProblemsBluejuice Head of The HawkBritish India ThievesCage The Elephant Thank You Happy BirthdayCaleb McAlpine Science FictionCarolina Liar Coming to TermsChildren Collide The Long NowChildren Collide Theory of EverythingCooper Temple Clause Kick up the fire.....Cooper Temple Clause Make This Your OwnDavid Guetta Pop LifeThe title of David Guetta's 3rd LP says it all as the French DJ infuses more pop into his house music. For the most part, it ends up as an awkward & forgettable mess, full of overlong & repetitive beats made for clubs. However, 'Pop Life' gets by satisfactorily on the back of its standouts where the house/pop combination works near perfectly. U.K Top 10 hits 'Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away)' & 'Love Is Gone' are 2 such examples, while Cozi's alluring voice on 'Baby When The Light', Juliet's captivating contribution to 'Do Something Love' and Tara McDonald's feel-good vocals on 'Delirious', add more than passing interest. Recommended Tracks: Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away), Baby When The Light & Love Is Gone. Def Leppard EuphoriaDef Leppard XDef Leppard SlangEagle and the Worm Good TimesEatmewhileimhot! All My FriendsEatmewhileimhot! MushroomElectric Six FireEliza Doolittle Eliza Doolittle (EP)Emarosa Corsets Are Cages EpEric Hutchinson Moving Up, Living DownEscape the Fate This War Is OursEscape the Fate This War Is Ours (Deluxe Edition)Evermore Truth of the World: Welcome to the ShowFair to Midland The Carbon Copy Silver LiningForever the Sickest Kids The Weekend: FridayFour Year Strong Explains It AllFraming Hanley A Promise To BurnFuneral for a Friend Between Order And Model EPFuneral for a Friend Seven Ways To Scream Your NameFuture of the Left Polymers Are ForeverGavin Castleton HomeHandguns MMIX Summer Tour EPHard-Fi Killer SoundsHellogoodbye Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!Hit The Lights Until We Get CaughtHouse of Pain Same As It Ever WasHRVRD The InterpretationsI See Stars Digital RenegadeI See Stars 3DI See Stars The End of the World PartyJames Blake Air & Lack ThereofJames Blake KlavierwerkeJames Blake Love What Happened HereJason Castro Jason CastroJessie J Who You AreJet Shine OnJet Shaka RockKaiser Chiefs Yours Truly, Angry MobKids In Glass Houses Trust Issues with MagiciansLady Antebellum Own the NightLady Antebellum Lady AntebellumLady Antebellum A Merry Little ChristmasLinkin Park Minutes To MidnightLittle Red Listen To Little RedLmfao Sorry For Party RockingLos Campesinos! Heat Rash #2Lostprophets The Fake Sound Of ProgressLower Than Atlantis BrettonMiranda Cosgrove Sparks FlyMy Chemical Romance The Mad Gear and Missile KidNatalie Imbruglia Counting Down the DaysMore of the same acoustic pop with a slight indie-bent from Imbruglia, who is still looking for her next 'Torn'. Admittedly, she comes damn close on shimmering lead single 'Shiver', which is clearly the best track here. Elsewhere, there are the usual safe & inoffensive - but likeable - songs that have been her hallmark. Occasionally, the tracks verge into blandness, but the poignant piano ballad 'On The Run', the quirky Daniel Johns (Silverchair) written 'Satisfied' & the up-beat 'Sanctuary' just make 'Counting Down The Days' a passable LP. Recommended Tracks: Shiver, On The Run & Satisfied.Naughty By Nature IiconsNever Shout Never demo-shmemoNever Shout Never The Summer EpNever Shout Never Never Shout NeverNever Shout Never HarmonyNothing Rhymes With David Beard Logic RiddlesOK Go Oh NoOK Go Ok GoOwl City Of JunePink Can't Take Me HomePink Try ThisRazorlight RazorlightRev Theory JusticeSan Cisco Golden RevolverSick Puppies Tri-PolarSilversun Pickups PikulSimple Plan No Pads, No Helmets... Just BallsSimple Plan Simple PlanSkrillex More Monsters and SpritesSnow White's Poison Bite The Story Of Kristy KillingsSnow White's Poison Bite Snow White's Poison BiteSoulja Boy The DeAndre WaySteel Panther Hole PatrolSteel Train 1969Steel Train Twilight Tales From the Prairies of the Stone Sour Demo CDT-Pain EpiphanyThe Academy Is... The AcademyThe All-American Rejects Same Girl, New SongsThe Almost No Gift To BringThe Bunny The Bear If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...The Cab The Lady Luck EPThe Getaway Plan Hold Conversations: special editionThe Killers SawdustThe Killing Lights Lost in the ShadowsThe Maine ...And a Happy New YearThe Maine Black & WhiteThe Rakes Ten New MessagesThe Script Science & FaithThe Sleeping Believe What We Tell YouThe Snowdroppers Too Late To PrayThe Summer Set Love the Love You HaveThe Summer Set Everything's FineThe Swellers End of DiscussionThe Ting Tings We Started NothingThe World is a Beautiful Place... Demo 2010The World is a Beautiful Place... Josh Is DeadThe World is a Beautiful Place... Gig LifeThese Hearts Elephant in the RoomTitus Andronicus The Airing of GrievancesTitus Andronicus The MonitorWes Carr The Way the World LooksWild Beasts Limbo, PantoWild Beasts SmotherWilliam Beckett What Will BeWilliam Control Silentium Amoris2.1 poorSnow White's Poison Bite Dr. Gruesome And The Gruesome Gory Horror Show2.0 poor10 Years Into the Half MoonAiden Our Gangs Dark OathAiden DisguisesAirbourne No Guts. No Glory.There are not too many positives to speak of concerning 'No. Guts. No Glory.', but thankfully - on this Standard Edition of the album - they did not include any of the 5 bonus tracks which were later released on the Special Edition. See my review of the Special Edition here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=36190
Alexisonfire AlexisonfireAllstar Weekend The American DreamArchitecture In Helsinki Places Like ThisBeach House Beach HouseBlack Veil Brides Sex & HollywoodBlessthefall BlessthefallBlood on the Dance Floor Anthem Of The OutcastBlood on the Dance Floor Clubbed To DeathBlood on the Dance Floor Bad BloodBreathe Carolina Hello FascinationCraig David The Story Goes...CrashDollz CrashDollzDef Leppard The Def Leppard E.P.Editors In This Light and On This EveningEvermore Real LifeFoo Fighters One by OneFoxy Shazam The Flamingo TriggerFrom First To Last Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body...Girl Talk UnstoppableHalestorm Don't Mess With the Time ManHalestorm Breaking the SilenceHinder Take It to the LimitHinder All American NightmareHinder Welcome to the FreakshowIn This Moment Beautiful TragedyJames Blake The Bells SketchJeffree Star Cupcakes Taste Like ViolenceJeffree Star Beauty KillerKill Hannah The Beauty of Sinking ShipsKris Allen Kris AllenLady Gaga The Cherrytree SessionsLmfao Party RockMGMT CongratulationsMillionaires Rated XmasMiranda Cosgrove About You NowMy Chemical Romance I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought...Never Shout Never MelodyNever Shout Never Me & My UkeNever Shout Never What Is Love?Panic! At the Disco Pretty. Odd.Papa Roach MetamorphosisRazorlight Slipway FiresRise Against This Is Noise: Canadian Tour EPSaliva Blood Stained Love StorySaliva Under Your SkinSaving Abel Saving AbelSaving Abel Miss AmericaScouting for Girls Scouting For GirlsShort Stack Stack is the New BlackSimple Plan Get Your Heart On!Skip the Foreplay NightlifeSnow White's Poison Bite Drama Trough Your StereoSoulja Boy iSouljaBoyTellEmSparks The Rescue Stumbling SkywardThe Automatic Tear the Signs DownThe Bunny The Bear The Stomach for ItThe Galvatrons Laser GraffitiThe Killing Lights Hellbound And HeartlessThe Maine Stay Up, Get DownThe Summer Set Meet Me on the Left CoastThese Hearts Nada DemoThese Hearts Mistakes and Second TakesThese Hearts Forever Ended YesterdayThursday WaitingVan Halen Van Halen IIIWe The Kings Sunshine State of MindWilliam Control NoirWilliam Control Novus Ordo SeclorumYellowcard Where We Stand1.5 very poorA Rocket to the Moon Your Best Idea'Your Best Idea', the debut LP from Massachusetts native Nick Santino (aka 'A Rocket To The Moon'), is one of a growing number of releases which could broadly be placed under the genre of bedroom electronica. Containing simple beats & keys, there are also heavily auto-tuned vocals which are extremely annoying & reduce what sincerity there is in the cheesy lyrics that are straight out of a teenagers diary. Worst of all is the deliberate pacing of this predominantly hookless album, which fails to switch gears & results in 'Your Best Idea' getting very boring well before its overlong 42 minute duration expires. Recommended Tracks: 54321 & I'll Be Your Sunset.Aiden KnivesFollowing their push for mainstream recognition on 'Conviction', Aiden return to their horror-punk roots on 4th LP 'Knives'. The restoration of this harder, faster style suits the band musically, since it covers up their lack of originality & technicality. Unfortunately, it is background noise to repulsive frontman Wil Francis, whose childish, attention-seeking lyrics cross the line into being offensive. The curse-ridden, hateful, violent & anti-religious diatribe is thoroughly tasteless & makes 'Knives' sound repetitive, even at a laughable 26 minutes in length. Recommended Tracks: Let the Right One In & Scavengers of the Damned. Airbourne Ready To Rock'Ready To Rock', the independently released debut by AC/DC worshippers Airbourne, is a simple, derivative, formulaic, overlong & repetitive mess that sorely lacks decent production. Filled with ridiculous lyrics, this is the type of music that would work better live at the local pub after a beer or nine. Joel O'Keefe is both the band's main strength & weakness since his guitar riffs & solos are acceptable, but his mundane - almost deadpan - vocal delivery removes much of the energy required by hard rock. Recommended Tracks: When The Girl Gets Hot (The Love Don't Stop) & Stand and Deliver.Airbourne No Guts. No Glory. (Special Edition)While formulaic, dated & derivative, Airbourne's previous LP 'Runnin' Wild' was likeable, harmless & fun. Follow-up 'No Guts. No Glory.' is a measured & calculated release which is anything but likeable, since the carefree nature & all of the fun has been drained from the band. There are no ballads, practically no experimentation & very little variety, as Airbourne write the same song over & over. Lyrics are repetitive, choruses are not memorable & the 5 bonus tracks on the Special Edition plunge to deplorable depths. Listen to 'Back In Black' or 'Pyromania' instead. Recommended Tracks: Raise The Flag & Armed and Dangerous.Architecture In Helsinki Fingers CrossedThere is indie-pop, there is twee pop & then there is eccentric Melbourne octet Architecture In Helsinki. Often sounding as if it would better suit Sesame Street, bizarre debut LP 'Fingers Crossed' would not be as bad if they did not take themselves so seriously. Sounding embarrassingly amateur at times, the alternating male/female vocals are deliberately off-key, meaning the album quickly grates. Credited for including over 30 instruments, the mix of organic & electronic music is great in theory, and some arrangements are decent, but ultimately 'Fingers Crossed' is just too annoying. Recommended Tracks: Souvenirs & The Owls Go.Asking Alexandria Life Gone WildNo, no, just no. Sure, it's better for English metalcore quintet Asking Alexandria to experiment on a 6 track EP rather than on a full-length release, but practically nothing works on 'Life Gone Wild'. The 2 Skid Row covers are nondescript & drag all the emotion out of the originals. The demo of '...Cowboy King' is useless, while the 2 remixes are repetitive & completely out of place. Finally, new cut 'Breathless' isn't anywhere near the best from their forthcoming 2nd LP. I understand this is meant to be a grab-bag release, but the lack of cohesion here is deplorable. Even fans of the band may struggle with this 23 minute EP. Recommended Track: Breathless. Blessed by a Broken Heart All is Fair in Love and WarBefore they incorporated glam-metal influences into their music, Montreal sextet Blessed By A Broken Heart were a straight-up Metalcore outfit... And NOT a very good one. Debut LP 'All is Fair in Love and War' is an unfocused effort, where the band seemed very confused... It is no surprise that their sound drastically changed come album #2. Amateurish clean vocals take a back-seat to Hugh Charron's indecipherable growls (that mask the christian lyrics), while the music is standard genre stuff apart from some solid guitar melodies. And guys, no-one wants to hear you recite the alphabet! Recommended Tracks: Another Day/Another War & Somekind of Wonderful.Blood on the Dance Floor I Scream I ScreamFollowing 2 horrendous albums, it didn't seem possible that Orlando electro-pop duo Blood on the Dance Floor could release anything worth listening to. However, their 5 track EP 'I Scream I Scream' almost pulls it off... & not just because it is only 17 minutes long. Nothing seems to have changed on abysmal opener 'Scream For My Ice-Cream', but while 'Up All Night' & 'Miss Bipolar' are simple & repetitive, both are rather decent... & surprisingly have choruses that contain actual singing! It's nothing to get carried away with though, as there are still some shocking lyrics, off-key vocals & standard techno beats. Recommended Track: Up All Night.Blood on the Dance Floor All The RageBlood on the Dance Floor just keep churning releases out, as their 4th LP 'All The Rage!' sees the Orlando duo tone down the explicit lyrics & concentrate on performing catchy electronica heavy tunes. In addition to some value-adding guest vocals, the production has definitely improved here, resulting in a couple of tracks actually having some kind of crossover potential. In most cases, however, songs will be brought down by one awful component or another. And then there is the absolute trash like the ode to video games that is 'Star Power' & the pirate-themed stand-up comedy act 'Yo Ho!'. Recommended Tracks: P.L.U.R. & Dark Dreams.Blood on the Dance Floor EPICBlood on the Dance Floor had no right to release a 3rd album, let alone get ambitious & have it contain 22 tracks! Yet, relative to their horrendous back-catalog, 'Epic' actually begins well enough with a greater emphasis on singing, even if that also means more auto-tune. Unfortunately, over the 76 minute duration, the Orlando electro-pop duo fall back into bad habits, especially when it comes to the sexually explicit lyrics. This album's lowlight comes on the terrible 'It's On Like Donkey Kong' with "My cum's so chunky, it's like an Oreo McFlurry". That should put you off your Maccas kiddies. Recommended Tracks: Sugar Rush & Lovestruck. Blood on the Dance Floor EvolutionReleasing their 5th album in just 50 months, it appears that electro-pop outfit Blood on the Dance Floor will not be going away any time soon. While a case could be made that this is their best release to date, that really isn't saying much... Sure, there has been gradual growth since their horrid initial output, but all the duo seem to be doing here is masking their numerous deficiencies as best as possible. Dahvie Vanity's vocals remain awful, the guest vocals are unconvincing & 4 spoken word interludes are extra cheesy. To make matters worse, this overlong 56 minute LP is rarely fun & catchy. Recommended Tracks: Rise & Shine and Hollywood Tragedy.Breathe Carolina It's Classy Not ClassicBreathe Carolina jot down everything they like about music & then attempt to create an original sound on debut LP 'It's Classy, Not Classic'. It's a shame then that the Denver based duo don't share similar tastes, since the result is a gimmicky clusterf*ck of unmemorable electro-pop that is contradictorily backed by awful screaming. The beats are decent but way too repetitive, while only 3 or 4 choruses are actually catchy. The fact that both the clean & screamed vocals are heavily filtered through vocoder seals the deal on this horrible album that lands in between target audiences. Recommended Tracks: Put Some Clothes On & The Birds and the Bees.Craig David Signed Sealed DeliveredTo reignite his career, Craig David has decided to change his target demographic by releasing a covers album of soul & Motown era classics. David has no chance of bettering the originals (by the likes of The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding & The Temptations) & is far too respectful to make the songs his own, as the arrangements are unimaginative. The one wholly original track is dated & predictable, while the LP as a whole is misguided, uninspiring & desperate. David may have just signed, sealed & delivered the end of his career. Recommended Tracks: One More Lie (Standing in the Shadows) & I Wonder Why.Design the Skyline NevaehMost infamous for their signing with Victory Records & subsequent horrendous demo 'Surrounded By Silence', young Texan deathcore outfit Design The Skyline don't exactly significantly improve on debut LP 'Nevaeh'. While there are some musically interesting moments scattered here & there, the songwriting is extremely haphazard & all worthwhile ideas are used up come the end of track 6 (the decent instrumental 'Reverie'). More strikingly, the three-way vocal attack is atrocious, with even the rare clean vocals failing to add much melody. And just to think: It took 7 of them to make this album! Recommended Tracks: Break Free From Your Life & Reverie. Eatmewhileimhot! Eatmewhileimhot!Back in 2008, Missouri native Cristofer Ingle was still deciding whether to play cutesy acoustic pop-rock individually or loud post-hardcore with a bunch of buddies. The latter outlet was initially called Mister Owl, but later changed their name to Eatmewhileimhot! Well, if their 3 track 10 minute self-titled debut EP is anything to go by, it is clear why this is seen as Ingle's side-project to Never Shout Never! Playing a generic & predictable brand of post-hardcore meets metalcore, the sextet bring absolutely nothing new to the table, as sub-par screams awkwardly clash with boring breakdowns & some occasionally atmospheric synths. Recommended Track: coughKIDcough. Hinder Extreme BehaviorDeserving the negative critical response they have received, Hinder perform simple and dull pieces that remind one of a 3rd rate 1980's hair band. This is evident from the very beginning of this one-trick pony debut as the music performed here is so mind-numbingly simple that there is no point even attempting to listen for any kind of variation. When they do attempt some variety on 'Room 21', the band show their true colors and completely botch it. Furthermore, the lyrics contained on this LP range from repetitively themed to sexist! Recommended Tracks: Lips Of An Angel & Shoulda.James Blake Order/PanYou know how your parents say "so this is the so-called music you kiddies listen to nowadays"? Well, what they are actually doing is admitting that whoever you are listening to is performing music. Such a statement would not be offered regarding James Blake's 10 minute instrumental release 'Order/Pan', since this minimal effort is more akin to sound; random or otherwise. 'Order' is overly sparse, repetitive & without melody, while 'Pan' at least has more variety which allows a dark, mysterious atmosphere to prevail. Even then however, little replay value exists. Maybe the 2 tracks are intended to be played simultaneously, but who can really be bothered?Jimmy Eat World Stay on My Side TonightPredominantly including remade versions of some songs that were left on the cutting room floor during early recording sessions for the 'Futures' LP, 'Stay On My Side' is basically an EP full of average album tracks. Sure, it is interesting to a point and has good length for an EP since it is 27 minutes long, but the quality of each of the tracks simply does not stack up with Jimmy Eat World's usual quality. Recommended Track: Over.Ke$ha AnimalJumping on the Gaga/Perry dance-pop bandwagon, Ke$ha's bratty & auto-tuned half-rapping/half-singing debut LP 'Animal' is 1 step forward, 5 steps back. Even on the admittedly catchy singles, there are cringe-worthy portions & never is the whole song infectious. She attempts variety with some slower cuts, but has neither the talent nor sincerity to pull them off. The main deterrent however is the awful & trashy lyrics, which are irresponsible considering the target audience. 14 tracks over 45 minutes is just too much, while 'Stephen' & 'Dinosaur' are Worst Song of 2010 contenders. Recommended Tracks: Tik Tok & Your Love Is My Drug.Lmfao Party Rock'Party Rock' is the debut LP from LA hip-pop/electro-hop duo LMFAO. Aimed at the lowest common denominator, this immature & juvenile release is admittedly fun on occasions... Unfortunately, it is way too overlong at 46 minutes, with the latter half particularly boring. Including some atrociously corny rhymes (EG: "Casio" & "Dancefloor"), almost every song begins with "I walk into a club..." It's difficult to tell how seriously they take themselves, but this is too generic to be a good club release and too offensive & unfunny as a novelty album. How it was Grammy nominated will remain a mystery! Recommended Tracks: Lil' Hipster Girl & La La La.Lou Reed and Metallica LuluWhat looked a strange pairing on paper turns out even weirder on record, as 69 year old art-rocker Lou Reed collaborates with thrash-metal band Metallica on 'Lulu'. Basically, it's Reed rambling away with often vulgar - always nonsensical - lyrics, while Metallica play in a repetitive & mis-matched fashion behind him. It kind of begins intriguingly, but any decent idea is exhaustingly turned into aimless drivel soon enough. Delivering very little melody or diversity, it's bewildering that these 10 tracks last 87 minutes! It's not the worst album ever made, but 'Lulu' does make 'St. Anger' sound like a classic! Recommended Tracks: Brandenburg Gate & Dragon. Metro Station Metro StationThe fact that the annoyingly catchy electro-pop of 'Shake It' could be the best song on Metro Station's self-titled debut LP says it all. 31 minutes of simplistic lyrics aimed at teenage girls, it is more an exercise in trying to be cool. The guitar-work is non-existent, while the band struggle with any variety. The vocals are the main issue however, with even the ok tracks ruined by an awful & embarrassing verse or bridge. Take the one step forward/two steps back of 'Now That We're Done', whose decent synths & break-up lyrics are undone by ill-fitting vocals & a ludicrous "everybody get down" refrain. Recommended Tracks: Shake It & Now That We're Done. Millionaires Cash OnlyIt is not saying much considering how horrible their first 2 EPs were, but I'll give bratty trio Millionaires one thing: They have improved. More club-ready & better produced than their previous releases, the most noteworthy aspect of their 3rd EP 'Cash Only', is that the choruses are actually catchy this time around... Annoyingly catchy, but still catchy. While the vocals are more auto-tuned than ever & the lyrics continue to ply the same juvenile themes, they have thankfully wound back the unsubtle nature of their act to something approaching listenable. Don't get me wrong though, it's still pretty bad. Recommended Track: Stay The Night. Millionaires TonightFoul-mouthed Californian tramps Millionaires have unfortunately decided to release a full-length album... & it's fair to state that 'Tonight' was not worth the wait. Delivering more Ke$ha inspired electro-pop, Melissa & Allison Green (now a duo after Dani Artaud's departure) spout out offensively juvenile lyrics that are filled with profanities concerning sex, money, drugs & alcohol. There's a couple of catchy choruses when they concentrate on (auto-tuned) singing & not some horrible form of rapping, but with little variety musically, 'Tonight' soon becomes extremely grating. Recommended Tracks: K Thx Bye & One in a Million. Miranda Cosgrove High MaintenanceWhile passable debut LP 'Sparks Fly' overcame her weak voice by focusing on simple & catchy pop-rock, 17 year old actress turned pop star Miranda Cosgrove does not make a successful transition to electro-pop on follow-up EP 'High Maintenance'. As soon as she splurts out "So what if I break a few glasses, kick a few asses" on the awful title track (a corny Rivers Cuomo duet), you just know this release is more a money-grabbing product than an intriguing comfort zone breaker. Closer 'Sayonara' (which doesn't even sound like her) is the only track to make an impact, with the other 4 being boring dime-a-dozen hotch-potches that remove all of Cosgrove's charm.Saliva Survival of the SickestOn this LP, Saliva attempt to return to the song structures & styles from their best album to date 'Every Six Seconds', and combine it with the mainstream rock apparent on follow-up 'Back Into Your System'. However, the quality in practically every aspect of their performance has diminished. Disappointingly bad, this is a poorly produced combination of uninspired music, mostly terrible vocals & headache-inducing lyrics, which only fuels the fire of naysayers who suggest that Saliva are derivative, dated & posturing wannabees. Recommended Tracks: Two Steps Back and Rock & Roll Revolution. Scene Kidz Fuq-N-Es-KayIndiana natives Scene Kidz are yet another group of teenagers who think that releasing some sort of crunk-rap/electro-pop hybrid is doing someone a service. For the most part, their debut LP 'Fuq-N-Es-Kay' (get it?) is filled with mediocre tracks that have practically no merit. However, on rare occasions, they do show a decent ear for melody, and the 3 distinct vocalists at least add some variety. Most importantly, Scene Kidz do not take themselves too seriously & it helps that 'Millionaires' is the only truly unlistenable tune here. Still, if I was these kids, I'd start working harder in school. Recommended Tracks: Hater Monkeys & Copy and Paste. Scouting for Girls Everybody Wants To Be On TVCrikey! I didn't think Scouting For Girls could get much worse than their self-titled debut LP, but they have indeed regressed on 'Everybody Wants to Be on TV'. This is due to the over-production & use of auto-tune occasionally used which sees them come off as Metro Station meets Westlife! And then there are the lyrics... Good God! 'Posh Girls' & '1+1' are woefully cringe-worthy, while 'Famous' & 'Little Miss Naughty' aren't much better. It is a bit of a shame too, since the 2 bookends are almost likeable with their effective combination of strings & piano. Recommended Tracks: This Ain't A Love Song & Take A Chance.Sick Puppies Welcome to the Real WorldThis young Australian trio seems to be having some fun and enjoying themselves, but that doesn't always translate well to the listening public. Rock-Rap has not dated well for any band and Sick Puppies were nowhere near the top of the genre circa 2001 when this LP was released. In fact, when a young & immature vocalist with a thick Australian accent is taken into account, 'Welcome To The Real World' ends up being rather cringe-worthy. Recommended Tracks: Nothing Really Matters & Do You Know. Sick Puppies FlyUnderstanding that they needed to change direction, these young Aussie rockers steer away from any kind of rap-rock hybrid on this transitional EP. And while they show glimpses of potential & finding their sound, Sick Puppies still cannot cover their weaknesses as inconsistent vocals, little depth and too much repetition plagues the 'Fly EP' throughout. Recommended Track: FlySkrillex Make It Bun Dem After HoursFollowing the release of 4 EPs, not only does Sonny 'Skrillex' Moore further delay his debut LP, but he presents us with the bane that is a remix EP. The LA producer has dealt up many a remix previously, but they were usually of his stronger tunes. Here, however, he takes 'Make It Bun Dem After Hours' - his mediocre collaboration with Damian Marley - and stretches it to 7 tracks & 28 minutes worth of what is essentially the same song. There's nothing catchy & melodic here, nor does the infusion of reggae suit Skrillex. The closing 'Alvin Risk Remix' is the best version, while in searching for diversity, the 'French Fries Remix' is absolutely horrible.Soulja Boy Souljaboytellem.comUnder the pseudonym of Soulja Boy, Mississippi based rapper DeAndre Way delivers a master class in how to stretch 1 tune out to 14 tracks on 'Souljaboytellem.com'. With only the choral slogans (usually repeated ad nauseam) to distinguish each song, the 17 year old clearly has high schoolers in his sights, with everything from the beats to the lyrics being mind-numbingly simple. Kudos must be given to Way for self-producing most tracks & the record is in fact listenable (if overlong at 49 minutes)... But it's so infuriatingly repetitive that you have to wonder how on Earth this album sold 1 million copies! Recommended Tracks: Crank That & Don't Get Mad.The Bunny The Bear The Bunny The BearA bunny walks up to a bear and screams "Wanna start a band"? Unfortunately, the bear is scared by the death growl of the bunny & replies in the affirmative, resulting in this self-titled debut LP by The Bunny The Bear. Fronted by dual vocalists who wear bunny & bear masks, the Buffalo sextet play a brand of post-hardcore that relies heavily on synths & keys. In truth, there are some decent ideas & melodies scattered around, but they are buried beneath fairly poor production & a handful of horrid tracks. This was probably one of those times when a band should have begun their career with an EP instead. Recommended Tracks: Lust Touch Seed & Leaves.The Feeling Join With UsYet another British band with an impressive debut album crashes & burns on their follow-up, as The Feeling get far too ambitious on 'Join With Us'. They do not have the musical talent nor songwriting skills to keep many Bowie & Queen-influenced cuts from coming off like children's songs! Any attempt at emotion comes off as rather bland, while the stabs at quirky pop miss the mark, despite an occasional catchy moment. In the future, The Feeling would do well to recall the K.I.S.S principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Recommended Tracks: I Thought It Was Over & The Greatest Show on Earth.Waking The Cadaver Beyond Cops, Beyond GodWhile they really couldn't sink any lower, it still surprises that New Jersey quintet Waking The Cadaver show improvement on 2nd LP 'Beyond Cops, Beyond God'. Of course, it is all relative, with this album simply being easier to endure than its predecessor, via improved production & more varied vocals... Despite the frog croaks & pig squeals continuing to exist. It's still tough to comprehend the ridiculously violent lyrics & repetition does sink in well before this half hour is up, but at least a more traditional death-metal leaning sound means that every track doesn't sound exactly the same. Recommended Tracks: Sadistic Tortures & Suffering Upon Revenge.William Control Hate CultureTo begin William Control's debut LP 'Hate Culture', Wil Francis states "I do not want you to like me". Request granted! Sounding unlike his main band Aiden, Francis' bizarre curse-filled side-project delves into electronica, with everything from synth-pop to industrial explored. It's all infused with his usual gothic tendencies that include consistently cringeworthy lyrics. In fact, he stoops lower here as the sleazy sex & death themes become repulsive. It's not unlistenable to & there are some decent synth melodies, but this is ultimately a failed experiment. Recommended Tracks: Beautiful Loser & Cemetery.Yellowcard Midget TossingSix years before Yellowcard released breakthrough album 'Ocean Avenue', a very different sounding band recorded their debut LP 'Midget Tossing'. As can be gathered by the immature album title, the then novice sextet were very young. Furthermore, future vocalist Ryan Key had yet to join the band, with Ben Dobson's raspier vocals matching the punk sound exhibited here. While there are moments where you can make out the musicianship potential under the amateur production, 'Midget Tossing' is ultimately a rather poor punk release with the intriguing idea of throwing in occasional violin parts. Recommended Tracks: Sue & Me First.1.0 awfulBasically the Best Band Ever You Wish You Were as Cool as UsFor every credit there must be a debit, and as much as the internet has helped artists get their music out to the public, the downside is that any idiot with a microphone can now upload their junk & call it an album. If you like the sound of a couple of kids making random noises, cracking unfunny jokes & playing out of tune instruments, then you will like Basically The Best Band Ever's debut LP 'You Wish You Were as Cool as Us'... You'd also be totally crazy. None of this is music, none of this is funny, and it is a genuine chore getting through its 31 track, 40 minute duration! For the 1st time ever, I have no recommended tracks!Basically the Best Band Ever This Is Our Second Album and it Cost Us A Lot...Where are the parents of these children when you need them... Shouldn't they be making them do their homework or something? On their 2nd LP 'This Is Our Second Album and it Cost Us A Lot...', the kids develop an affinity for hip-hop... & Will Smith's 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit It' (since it appears in 3 forms here). They even manage to rope in some dude named Elephant Man for a couple of guest appearances. The only other difference compared to their debut is that it's about 10 minutes shorter, which is at least a positive. There aren't many others, so you have to take what you can get! No Recommended Tracks, because it's all fuckin' awful!Blood on the Dance Floor OMFG Sneak PeakAfter displaying a modicum of promise on their previous 'I Scream I Scream' EP, Blood on the Dance Floor return to their horrid ways on 'OMFG Sneak Peak'. A preview of sorts for the Orlando-based electro-pop duo's upcoming 'Epic' LP, the dated & uninteresting beats are back, as are the seemingly intentional awful vocals. Worse still, the want to tell us about their infatuation with head-jobs is ever-present! Elsewhere, the lyrical nadir is "I'll throw a dildo in your grave, party up and start a rave". The best thing about this EP is that it is mercifully short at just 11 minutes in length. Recommended Track: It's Happening.Blood on the Dance Floor Let's Start A RiotThe best thing you can say about 'Let's Start a Riot', the debut LP from Orlando electro-pop duo Blood on the Dance Floor, is that it is good for a laugh. While the techno beats are occasionally decent, they are rather standard & don't make up for the rest of the package, which contains some of the worst vocals you will ever hear. The bottom of the barrel however are the shocking, often sexually explicit, lyrics which are filled with simple, corny rhymes like "Stop the hate, congratulate. You know my name, so eat some Cake". Maybe the worst thing about this album is that it has the gall to go on for f*cking 45 minutes. Recommended Track: Libertine.Blood on the Dance Floor It's Hard To Be A Diamond...It was difficult to imagine Blood on the Dance Floor recording an album even worse than their debut, but they have managed to pull it off on follow-up 'It's Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World'. At least some of the debut's latter-half tracks showed an inkling of promise, but practically every song here is genuinely worthless electro-pop. More horrid vocals are this time accompanied by a greater use of awfully misplaced screaming, while the lyrics just keep getting more ridiculous: This LP's lowlight being "I'm So Fresh I Got The Keys To The Bakery... I Got You Wetter Than Hurricane Katrina". Recommended Track: Do You Want to Be a Superstar? Dot Dot Curve:) I'm Still HereIt's pathetic when your best album is still downright awful. The fact that Dot Dot Curve's 3rd LP 'I'm Still Here' is not entirely unlistenable is a bonus, but that does not make it good in any way. Basically, you will be reaching for the "skip" - not the "stop" - button. To give DDC some credit, they wisely incorporate more hip-hop into the mix here & are less reliant on Spanky's horrible screaming. What drags the LP down whenever there is a semblance of anything promising are the ludicrous & profane lyrics. Without purpose, this is an annoying & easily dismissible album that is not worth anyone's time. Recommended Track: What the Future Holds.Dot Dot Curve:) Til the Wheels Fall Off'Till The Wheels Fall Off', the dreadful debut LP from Indiana-based duo Dot Dot Curve, has practically no redeeming features whatsoever. Containing a combination of awful unintelligible screaming & headache-inducing auto-tune, even the beats are stock-standard. Any semblance of catchiness stems from repetition, while ridiculous, expletive-laden lyrics sink any area of promise. It's no coincidence that the best 3 tracks all feature someone else. Hell, this abysmal album makes other crunkcore releases sound ok... And even makes Spanky's original band Scene Kidz sound like Radiohead! Just horrendous. Recommended Track: Boys Pop The Bottles.Dot Dot Curve:) Everyday Is HalloweenThose hoping a shorter tracklist & (18 minute) running time would help Dot Dot Curve are unfortunately mistaken, since 5 track EP 'Everyday Is Halloween' is just as horrendous as their debut LP. Showing practically no advancement from 'Till The Wheels Fall Off', the Indiana duo even recycle some of their own beats & themes. More atrocious wounded animal like screaming... More horrible headache-inducing auto-tune... More boring computer programmed beats... More profane cringeworthy lyrics. It's just an unlistenable mess, and it's a wonder that Standby Records even considered distributing this garbage? Recommended Track: Device.Dot Dot Curve:) Your Ears Will Bleeping BleedI think we may have found the very bottom of the barrel folks! I mean, I know Dot Dot Curve warned us with the album title, but your ears could actually bleed if you make it through the 40 minutes of pure torture that is the Indiana duo's 2nd LP. Released only 7 months after their horrendous debut album, this poor excuse for music will have you reaching for the mute button quick smart. Apart from the half-decent hip-hop cut 'Thr3e1se7en', 'Your Ears Will Bleeping Bleed' reaches new lows when it comes to vocals, beats & especially lyrics. Quite simply, this is as atrocious & unlistenable as "music" gets! Recommended Track: Thr3e1se7en.Eatmewhileimhot! XxBurritoXXReleased as a preview of sorts for Eatmewhileimhot's upcoming debut LP 'xALBUMx', 3 minute EP 'xXBurritoXx' showcases 2 of the worst tracks from that horrible album. Uncomplicated breakdowns, abhorrent growls & ridiculous pig squeals make even this brief duration a chore to get through! One really has to wonder why the Cristofer Ingle led outfit decided to change tack from the moderately catchy A Day To Remember style pop-punk of the 'All My Friends' EP to this garbarge! Hell, this dross makes the quartet's main band (Never Shout Never) sound like The Beatles... Oh, maybe that's the objective of this crap! Recommended Track: Neither.Eatmewhileimhot! XALBUMXListed as the debut "album" for Missouri outfit Eatmewhileimhot!, 'xALBUMx' really stretches the definition at just 8 tracks & 15 minutes in length. Even worse, it's a dismal 15 minutes worth, with the heavy side-project of Never Shout Never delivering a predictable & somehow repetitive take on metalcore. Apparently intended to be an ironic & fun parody of a cliched genre, practically none of this shines through, since the instrumentation is made up of simplistic breakdown after breakdown, while both the vocals & lyrics are atrocious. Any hint of promise usually disappears within 15 seconds on this horrendous release! Recommended Track: xVAMPIRESx.Girl Talk Secret DiaryBy definition, a "glitch" can never be a good thing, can it? So lord knows why anyone in their right mind would think that the musical genre of glitch could be a positive. This 40 minute album bleeps, skips and scratches its way through ten tracks of absolute garbage. A 6 minute Master P and New Kids On The Block collaboration may cause seizures, while 'Fun Have To' & 'Time To Get Glamorous' are headache inducing. Dizzying & unlistenable to at times, 'Secret Diary' also includes annoying switches in volume. This should have remained a secret!I See Stars Green Light Go!If I had to choose one word to describe the electronica-influenced post-hardcore debut EP from Michigan quintet I See Stars, it would be "garbage". It sounds like the product of four 12 year old kids being given electrified instruments for Christmas & then just banging away at them incessantly. Occasionally, their teenage brother unconvincingly screams at them to stop, but the kids can't understand a word he is saying, so they continue on "playing". Shoddily produced, any melody to be found on this excruciating 20 minutes comes incidentally through feedback! If I had to pick a best track, it would be the vocoder-filled 'Save the Cheerleader, Save the World'.Jeffree Star Plastic Surgery Slumber PartyIf his debut EP 'Plastic Surgery Slumber Party' is anything to go by, then the self-proclaimed "Queen of MySpace" Jeffree Star should have stuck to his day-jobs (make-up artist, fashion designer & model) rather than branch out into music. Performing generic electro-pop, the androgynous singer is more intent on lyrical shock value, with 'Ice Cream' & 'We Want Cunt' being especially cringe-worthy on this mostly un-catchy 17 minutes worth. Picking a lyrical lowlight is difficult, but it's either "Enter my construction zone & make me moan" or "I wanna boy like me but hotter to eat me out like Jeffrey Dahlmer". Recommended Track: Eyelash Curlers & Butcher Knives.Millionaires Bling Bling Bling!Californian electro trash-pop trio Millionaires should have called themselves "Contraception", since they are enough to put anyone off parenting. Showcasing everything that is wrong with youth culture, these girls make Ke$ha seem sophisticated with their foul-mouthed tirades concerning sex, money & alcohol. Beginning as a MySpace experiment, their 13 minute debut EP 'Bling Bling Bling!' is filled with amateur vocals, where the closest thing to a harmony is a cheesy rhyme. It might not have been so bad if any of it was funny, but instead its immature, juvenile, terrible, irritating, hideous, etc, etc, etc... Recommended Track: I Like Money.Millionaires Just Got Paid, Let's Get LaidAlright, who let these trashy, no talent little girls make another EP? Then again, their suggestively titled 18 minute 2nd EP 'Just Got Paid, Let's Get Laid' pretty much rehashes their debut release, with 3 of its 5 tracks reappearing here. Better production values are evident, but this is still sub-standard electro-pop with unoriginal & repetitive synth work & beats. Worse yet, the vocals of the Green sisters & Dani Artaud show no signs of progression, while the bordering on offensive lyrics are still as subtle as a sledgehammer. These girls seriously need to get grounded with no access to a computer! Recommended Track: I Move It.Short Stack This is Bat CountryGood God, 'This Is Bat Country' is awful. Young Aussie band Short Stack attempt to evolve & fail miserably. Complete with a sophisticated new look, the trio ditch the electro pop-punk of their debut, in favour of some kind of gothic electro-rock. Think MCR meets 30StM meets Twilight! It all ends up a terribly misguided & overlong mish-mash where dark brooding themes like bats, werewolves, vampires & dying young merge with "Cherry Cola"! Shaun Diviney's vocals are horrendous, while even the one-dimensional catchiness of its predecessor is missing. The best thing that can be said about this album is that it will make you laugh. Recommended Track: Planets. Waking The Cadaver DemoCrikey (or should that be "croaky")... Can an expert on amphibians please discern whether it is a frog or toad on vocals here! Playing what is apparently known as deathcore, New Jersey quintet Waking The Cadaver are in a word: Atrocious. There really isn't a single redeeming feature about either of these 2 tracks, which practically sound identical to each other. Horribly produced, there is repetitive guitar chugging, mis-timed drums &... ugh, those (for want of a better word) vocals spouting unintelligible lyrics. I'd much rather hear Kermit sing 'Rainbow Connection'. This headache-inducing EP is 5 minutes too long & it doesn't even last 5 minutes!Waking The Cadaver Perverse Recollections of a NecromanglerAs if their 5 minute EP wasn't enough, New Jersey deathcore quintet Waking The Cadaver felt the need to stretch their garbage out to 5 times that length on debut LP 'Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler'. I'd love to say they have improved, but that would be a lie. It's the same repetitive riffs & breakdowns fronted by the same indecipherable vocals of "The Human Frog" Don Campan. Of course, it's a positive that you can't understand him, since the song titles suggest that the lyrics revolve solely around crude & offensive woman bashing. If forced to choose a recommended track on this abomination of an album, it would be 'Type A Secretor'.
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