Average Rating: 3.29
Rating Variance: 1.14
Objectivity Score: 88% (Well Balanced)
Sort by: Rating | Release Date | Rating Date | Name5.0 classicLetlive. Fake HistoryFake History is a rare beast: I first heard it last year, and immediately, before all rthe catchy-as-hell choruses and memorable lines took root in my noggin, I knew, I fuckin' knew, it was just something extra special. Every song vaguely caught my interest even initially - a rarity for me when listening to any album. I kind of worried that it would get old quick, though, given this characteristic; from reading some comments, I can see that it has for a few of the users here. But for me this mother fucker has done nothing but grow and grow over time. "Muther" may have been the song of 2010 for me, but I can recall a point in time when any of the songs present on this catchy-as-hell post-hardcore release could have made a case for that spot as well - even the fucking bonus tracks that were released this year! Call it highly produced Glassjaw-aping, marketable to angst-y youngsters that only care about fun and games - granted, Fake History is indeed that, admittedly. But it's perfectly done here, perfectly, and I seriously can't help but have a blast while playing it. Spoon Kill The MoonlightYou know, there's a reason this is one of the highest rated, straightforward indie rock albums of the last decade. And that reason is the rolling bass rhythms of "Small Stakes". That reason is the piano ditties and sing-a-long chorus of "That's the Way We Get By". That reason is the pomp and circumstance of "Something to Look Forward to". That reason is the mic sex and general mind-glue nature of "Stay Don't Go". That reason is rock 'n' roll's beautiful yet ambiguous style of storytelling in "Jonathan Fisk". That reason is the creepy brewing of "Paper Tiger". That reason is the Billie Joel spirit of "Someone Something". That reason is one of rock's trademarks of leveling with and picking up the everyday man in "Don't Let It Get You Down". That reason is the third-person pursuit of a girl and do-do-dos of "All the Pretty Girls Go to the City". That reason is the short one-track mind, not a second wasted of "You Gotta Feel It". That reason is the hand-claps and lovely strings of "Back To The Life". That reason is in the perfect closing acoustics and lyrical continuity of life and holding on with "Vittorio E". That reason is all those reasons: Kill The Moonlight is the best album from Texas' Spoon, a band that is known for pure, honest quality, release after release. Mind-blowing. The Microphones The Glow pt.2"There's no end; there's no glory; there's a slow resounding story / There's no place to feel certain; there's no body waiting for me / There's no stand of trees, no morning; there's a curve without a warning / There is weird and lasting sadness; there's no large and lengthy warming / There's no heat; there's no expansion; there's no door into the mansion / Lengthy warming, sweet removal, sweet expanse, sweet and substantial / There's no flesh; there's no fingers in my hair; I see a tunnel / We built walls, tall and solid, between the treasure and the shovel / I see a fountain; there's a trail over the mountain / There's no wayside; there's no stopping; and the peak is wide and rocky / There's no ceiling in the mansion; there's no waste, no hesitation / There's no crack of dawn, no morning, just an everlasting warming."Verse AggressionI don't hardcore like a ThisLifeIsGenocide or a fromtheinside, but I do know my way around a number of bands. And out of all the Defeaters and Have Hearts out there, Verse's Aggression is probably my all-time favorite conglomerate of all - or at least most - things melodic hardcore from those other bands in one album. "Story of a Free Man" three-part song is one of my favorite musical moments ever, and damn if I don't like every other track as well. Enter a cliche plea for a legitimate display of passion or whatever that you read about in many hardcore sound-offs or reviews, and you've got why I consider this a classic. Those a little disappointed by 2011's Defeater should give this a spin.4.5 superbArctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am...I wasn't too sure - but apparently it's not cool to like these guys around here, even this album. I don't care for Humbug or Suck It and See. But Arctic Monkeys' first two releases, particularly Whatever People Say I Am..., are among the best modern British rock out there. You don't find frontmen as full as vigor and pomp as Alex Turner was on here, nor do you get someone that sounds so wonderfully British - if such a thing can be imagined - either. Each song rocks, grooves, and if these guys weren't everything Oasis in the 90s was cracked up to be in 2006, then no one ever came or will come close. I don't care where they may be now in their career or in the use of their talents, but Whatever People Say I Am... is all that hype of a hyped band making a hype of a hyped album that's damn good.Balthazar ApplauseThe start of a new decade in music hasn't seen too many good albums in indie pop - save Contra or Teen Dream, perhaps - but Applause, on the other hand, is indie pop excellence with a unique swagger: think Spoon having a baby with Is This It-era The Strokes, for a good idea. These Belgians are strikingly smooth in their delivery, cool in the sounds of their instruments, and completely lovable in their overall sound. Shame this album's excellence went largely untold last year, though, because it was one of 2010's best. Gonzales Solo PianoThis is like during a drizzling Sunday morning, on your second cup of coffee, while somewhere, in the back of your mind, is a lingering, nagging feeling that there is a term paper that you need to finish. But for now, you have time to enjoy the light 'tapping' of rain on the window, the calm before your roommate wakes from a drunken stupor no doubt birthed from a rowdy Saturday night before. Gonzales' Solo Piano is a sweet reminder of the simple, uncomplicated pleasures of life, brief as they often may be - modern piano pieces as warm as they are delicate.Hell Is For Heroes The Neon HandshakeHell Is For Heroes slowly slipped away from the public eye after The Neon Handshake, but for a while there they were the kings of UK post-hardcore. This debut contains song after song that supply hook after hook, a youthful but not comical vocal - passionate but not immature, that I can't seem to find that often in much of today's post-hardcore scene. A lot of times these guys and this album, along with rthe likes of Reuben, fail to get a mention when modern best-of post-hardcore lists come along, and that's a real shame. "I Can Climb Mountains" is an anthem of epic proportions - excuse the cliche - while "Disconnector" should have you rising above any shit life has thrown or will throw your way. All the other songs rock and rule, too, memorable melodies galore. Don't let this one continue to slowly fade away with rtime. Jebediah KosciuszkoAlright, hold on. I figured it out: take Radiohead's The Bends' dexterity and variety as a subliminal 90s alternative rock record; take modern-day Feeder with some added restraint and depth; and imagine if Australia's You Am I actually had delivered on all that promised potential in this very year of 2011. That, in a nutshell, is Jebediah's return album, Kosciuszko. Not many comeback albums best all of the material that preceded it before a band's break, but Jebediah's Kosciuszko sure does. Frontman Kevin Mitchell's solo Bob Evans project has notably contributed to Jebediah's surprising leap in the area of their songwriting, and add a fantastic production job, never a filler track, and bam: Jebediah's Kosciuszko is a runner for album of the year in my book, if not already the best alternative rock album. No wonder the band named it after Australia's tallest peak - it's fucking huge. This needs more support, so pick it up. Lapko A New BohemiaThis is Fairway To Midland if guitarist Cliff Campbell was shreddin' riffs and solos, if Darroh Sudderth had a higher range - and more solid vocal melodies overall - and if Brett Stowers was more interesting behind the kit. Add in all the positives of Disco Ensemble, and you have a fuckin' good alternative rock album that doesn't reek of Chad Kroeger yet is still catchy as hell with never a weak track. Trust me - A New Bohemia should be huge.Owen I Do PerceiveOne man's horror is another man's delight - that, I think, is a beauty of life and a mystery
for us all, too: perception. Everything we deal with in life, on an individual level,
is all a matter of our own perceptions. What we perceive, coupled with the all-encompassing
boundary of time, shapes who we are - or rather, shapes who we, and others, perceive
ourselves to be.
Perception has always interested me, so it was a no-brainer for me to take a special
interest in Owen's own album I Do Percieve. To my delight, it's also his best. You
could more or less just mix preceding album No Good For No One Now - with its up
close, honest lyrics - and following album At Home With Owen - with its beautiful
arrangements and striking level of consistency - together, and you'll get exactly what I
Do Perceive sounds like. Mike Kinsella's songwriting does not get better than this with
entry after entry hitting the nail on the head. Many powerful one-liners ringing heavy in
the air, too, playing around in your head and making you wish you had said such words to
your ex. You want the best of Owen, or at least what I perceive to be the best of Owen,
get I Do Perceive. Panda Bear Person PitchIf Person Pitch is precisely most of what Animal Collective do right . . .Radiohead Kid A"That there / That's not me / I go / Where I please / I walk through walls / I float down the Liffey / I'm not here / This isn't happening / I'm not here / I'm not here / In a little while / I'll be gone / The moment's already passed / Yeah it's gone / And I'm not here / This isn't happening / I'm not here / I'm not here / Strobe lights and blown speakers / Fireworks and hurricanes / I'm not here / This isn't happening / I'm not here / I'm not here" The Bouncing Souls How I Spent My Summer VacationI was in a big pop-punk phase around 2007 or so and remember cranking this shit out after being recommended it by some Absolutepunk forum-creep who lived in his mom's basement - I wasn't initially surprised back then. Too happy? No. Too hooky? No, not really. If anything, while fun as hell, The Bouncing Soul's best album, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, did not sound like a blatant kiss by some feminine-voice man-groupie at Warped Tour jamming to The Summer Set or Spark The Rescue at all. rRather, the delectable, nostalgic punk rock that has you coming back summer after summer, as I found out while dusting off my copy's old cover in recent months - in alignment with its title being of no mystery - is very respectable and non-flamboyant in the least: proportioned, yet daringly, err, simple in its delivery by the band. Thankfully bassist Bryan Keinlen and drummer Michael McDermott get equal space in the recording as that of the guitars present, and while I feel I could easily pen these lyrics, the relational-ness of the song topics nail yours, my, and her summer[s] perfectly. Be you twelve or thirty-two, there is bound to be more than one chord that will resonate with you on How I Spent My Summer Vacation, surely. But I'm guessing most of you will like the whole of How I Spent My Summer Vacation, to be honest. Get this shit.The Dangerous Summer War PaintWar Paint is the best pop punk -- or pop rock, depending on who you argue with - album that I have heard in a long time, maybe in two or even three years. The Dangerous Summer take what made their debut so strong and, well, more or less just crank it all up a notch for a collection of tracks that hardly ever fail. Tell The Wonder Years, Yellowcard, and Title Fight to move over in 2011: The Dangerous Summer are the kings of summer hooks, memories, girls, and self-improvement. Let their roots of nostalgia set in with War Paint for the future summers to come.The Shins Chutes Too NarrowAfter you listen to this for a while, the 'ugh, indie pop fluffy stuff' feeling goes away, and The Shins' best album becomes something to truly treasure. Chutes Too Narrow is the kind of album you have to marvel at: you really can't find a consistent batch of songs like this hardly anywhere else. The Shins accomplish absolutely nothing new or original here - just great shit all the way through. Superb, indeed. 4.0 excellentCentinex Decadence - Prophecies of Cosmic ChaosWith the stupid name of the album aside, Decadence[. . .] is a grade-A - or at least high-B - blueprint for how modern melodic death metal should be played. In fact, if the obtuse and saturated subgenre's stockpile of bands played shit more in line with this - not that keyboard-drenched, cleanly sung, been-there-fucked-that mess - than I am almost certain half of metalheads everywhere could at least tolerate the music again, like many used to. Centinex, on this release more than any other of their discography, balance melody and aggression just perfectly, not compromising their intended mood and atmosphere in the least. Just forget the rest of their releases, really; they're of no consequence. Decadence[. . .] is all you need bother owning at the end of the day. Darren Hanlon Hello StrangerHello Stranger is an album for broken hearts, much like Darren Halon's most recent, 2010's I Will Love You At All. However, what's really impressive about the Australian's 2002 debut is that it's just as fleshed-out and well-structured as his most recent: he's definitely proven himself to be a consistent songwriter throughout his career. Lovely yet meek vocal melodies coat ruminations on the after weeks of a broken relationship on Hello Stranger - the title itself is a reference to that sort of slow beginning of un-knowing that occurs once lovers part - but they're sincere and thankfully non-cliche as well. Jimmy Eat World InventedIf there is one album that I think critics really slipped up on, it's Jimmy Eat World's Invented. Those pissed with the band for the bubblegum of Chase This Light have all they could ever want from the band on display here: hooks that take some digging, a less 'gay' mood - as some have said - and for God's sake, some sense of self-control. Jimmy Eat World's songwriting has not slipped up in the least either: each song, with some repeated listens, reveals itself as a classic J.E.W. tune. I wasn't a fan of the double-stacked long-winding closers that are "Invented" and "Mixtape" at first, but holy hell the songs rule once they grow on you, especially the former where I'm compelled to just lift my fist in the air once Jim Adkins puts on the passionate vocal once the distortion enters in near the song's end. Live a J.E.W. fan, die a J.E.W. fan - Invented is no snore-fest.Killing The Dream In Place, ApartAh, yes - Killing The Dream's defining album, In Place, Apart. You see, what makes the band play its best for this album is its line-up: after this, Killing The Dream had a different set of songwriters that couldn't match the quality of the original crew. This hits hardcore track after hardcore track with memorable hooks and passionate lyrical one-liners, simple and potent. You just gotta love things that make you feel like shit and superhuman at the very same time: "We're all fucked / There's nothing we can do!" Throw in Killing The Dream's best song as a closer, "Four Years Too Late", and bam: typical melodic hardcore with that extra -umph and edge. Owen At Home With OwenOwen's Mike Kinsella steps into a studio for the first time, and in doing so produces his rmost pretty effort yet, At Home With Owen. On first listen, "Bad News" entrances all with its bulls-eye lyrical attack at another, presumably a fallen ex of Kinsella's. Half-way through, "A Bird In Hand" is studio ear-candy - soaring harmonies and heavenly acoustic guitars fucking rhythmically with Kinsella's familiar soft vocal delivery. You'll be dazzled a lot by At Home With Owen, and it is certainly one of the project's strongest albums; yet, barring "Bad News", lyrically it's a bit simplistic in comparison to No Good For No One Now and especially I Do Perceive. Biting witticism is traded in for prettiness, it would seem, which is okay, but fans of the singer are more likely to connect to his previous two offerings more. Still, this is an excellent, consistent album - not a bad track at all, really. Owen No Good for No One NowNo Good For No One Now is Mike Kinsella really coming into his own: this is the start of his golden years of 'journaling' for his music under Owen. Playing the part, primarily, as the boy that just got dumped in his lengthy relationship, Kinsella is able to easily level with his listeners in a way that most singer-songwriters can't match. His voice is subtle, smooth, and in context of these honest and fragile lyrical anecdotes, perfect. He would later perfect his style in the releases to come, but as far as those looking to get into Owen, you should definitely start here. "Nobody's Nothing" is essential listening. Spy Catcher HonestyHonesty does in thirty-nine minutes what many band's can't do in an hour or more, and despite the failings of a few songs, these same tracks themselves still stand strong alone and flow well in context of the album. Spy Catcher's proposed motive since their inception two years ago was for a no bull shit affair, and with restraint and skill, the four-piece is triumphantly successful in creating a honest, straightforward rock debut. The instrumental flourishings here and there that go beyond the tradition guitar-bass-drum attack sound wholly natural in their uses as well, and you always get a sense of there being a proper flow and genuine quality workmanship when listening to the album. Whether or not it makes it in the market is likely of no consequence to the band members themselves: 'We said, 'Fuck everything, we'll do the album ourselves, expecting to get a bit of criticism and curiosity,' states Gili-Ross concerning the Spy Catcher's decision to record Honesty after a year of waiting. Some disappointment often follows on the heels of honesty after all, so no big surprise there, but a lukewarm market reception can't lower the level of the quality music to be found here for those that discover it. It's all a job well done.The Flatliners CavalcadeThe Flatliner's affiliation with the ska genre tag kept me from checking this out since its release in 2010 - ska's just never been much of my forte. But thankfully, in my case at least, for Cavalcade The Flatliners have mostly utilized a sturdy pop punk/melodic hardcore base with a strong vocalist in Chris Cresswell, leaving some of their past behind. The best sound mix description here is if Four Years Strong and recent Strike Anywhere collaborated for an album than Cavalcade would be the offspring - in other words, excellent without being whiny, too. This is well worth your time. The Menzingers Chamberlain WaitsThe first half of Chamberlain Waits is what many of us probably wanted the last The Gaslight Anthem album to sound like: catchy, strong but guiltless punk with a strong inclination to level with us, beer and women. The prior album coming out in the same year was just a stroke of luck, actually, given American Slang's, uh, difference in its expected sound. The second half of Chamberlain Waits, though - that's something that took me a little more time to fully appreciate. It's here that The Menzingers weren't as immediate as the first half of golden tunes, but in hindsight, however, the ending tracks turned out to be quite resilient and purposeful, easily on par with the first six or so songs. I won't pretend this band is anything other than a 2006-2008-era The Gaslight Anthem at this point, because that's just what they are. But The Menzingers do make music that lasts, immediate and grow-able, and right about now they are probably doing it better than most of the bands in their scene. 'True' pop-punk, without the blinding sun - it's nice to not be forced to have to rush in quickly and restlessly get to know you. We can take our time with this band, and they'll reward us handsomely for doing so. Thursday No DevolucionFor me, Thursday actually sound like that band I had always heard of them being on their No Devolucion - that it, an actually good band. No offense intended, but up until this I had always found the band's music to be pretty mediocre at best - Geoff Rickly ever whispering into the mic on purpose, no drive in the music, just kinda 'blah blah'. Melodies swoon here, though, and the atmosphere that No Devolucion is able to conjure is quite impressive; oh yeah, and all of the songs are pretty good too. No Devolucion is one of those albums that will make even the career-long naysayer a believer. 3.5 great7 Angels 7 Plagues Jhazmyne's Lullaby"Our name is 7 Angels 7 Plagues, and we're going to re-define the sound of our genre" - or thereabouts, for a rough quote from the band. Sigh. No sooner than two or three years later from the date of said quote, 1999 or 2000, the band splits and leaves fans devastated. Really, guys? Gonna one-up Converge, are you, and then you fold? And what do you have to show for it, exactly? Oh, that's right: Jhazmyne's Lullaby. It's good, I'll give it that. Overrated, though, right? Yeah, yeah, sure. But it's solid: it's melodic, without being cheep; vocally competent, without being shrill or angst-y. But do you know what holds it back from sheer excellence, and beyond? Production. No worries, moshers - Converge are still metalcore's kings. Forever.A Perfect Circle Mer de NomsMer de Noms can't stand up to its younger, more powerful brother, The Thirteenth Step, but it does have its fair share of alternative/hard rock hits. In fact, most of the tracks here are strong, none bad per se, yet there's obviously a large differential level of quality to be found between songs like "Judith" and "The Hollow" and say "Thomas" and "Sleeping Beauty". Consistency, and in some places a muddy production value, are largely what keeps A Perfect Circle's debut from being truly superb; however, as an album it still bests most offerings by many current alternative rock bands out there, even in the ten years since its release. The lyrics here are, of course, a pleasure as well. Amia Venera Landscape The Long ProcessionUg, The Long Procession is really, really good. Amia Venera Landscape put work by similar contemporaries Devil Sold His Soul and Rinoa to shame rather easily. But here's the thing that sucks: it's too fucking long. The band uses up all of its ideas by the time "Marasm" is in the midst of escalating to the heavens. It's frustrating. Just cut the fat next time, and they'll have an easy metalcore-atmospheric sludge-post-hardcore-whatever classic on their hands.Defeater Empty Days and Sleepless NightsI think I now understand why Travels ultimately destroys this album of Defeater's for me: I didn't realize until after a year of listening to it that the band's 2008 debut was actually a convoluted, admittedly stupid story. To me, it was just fun, catchy-as-hell hardcore that beat out the rest of the albums of most of the melodic hardcore bunch. Empty Days and Sleepless Nights, on the other hand, takes that ridiculous story further, throws in four worthless acoustic tracks - though, "Headstone" is pretty cool - and turns the tempo down overall. It's still Defeater, though, so when the band does its hardcore sections, it does them well, hence the great-rating. But overall, given Travels' quality, you can't help but be disappointed. Defeater need to move away from the story bullshit - or at least be way more subtle with its implementation and get back on track. Face to Face Ignorance Is BlissA fleeting interest in this reportedly consistent punk rock band -save the aged and flaccid Laugh Now, Laugh Later album of this year - led me to Youtube where I heard Face to Face's song "Lost", taken from this Ignorance Is Bliss. Singer Trevor Keith is kind of like the bark-ier Dave Grohl we all know and love via Foo Fighters mixed in with a kick in the pants, kind of. Anyway, he's a nice voice, to say the least, and this is a nice, catchy alternative rock album with equal parts punk rock, which actually quickly divided fans on the onset of its release with Face to Face's stray of aesthetic from their 'classic' punk rock sound to a Rise Against like radio rock route. Anyway, in hindsight the fans were wrong, as this is arguably the most interesting album from the otherwise typical if consistent punk rock band. Bliss, bliss, bliss. Fleshgod Apocalypse AgonyAs well-played as Agony is, and as much as Fleshgod Apocalapse have improved as songwriters, the album itself cannot escape the fact that it is just another hybrid-mutant symphonic death metal circus. So while, yes, your typical cave-lurking Incantation-til-death metalhead will, as predicted, hate Agony, those that can stomach it will find a lot to love here. Instrumentally, the guitars and especially the drumming of Paoli are all top-notch, and while the symphonics are a wank-fest for Dimmu fans everywhere, the songwriting behind them and their fit into the music's flow is impressive. You won't do better, as far as symphonic death metal goes, then Agony, or The Great Mass too for that matter, but for its strengths, Agony easily gives the latter a run for its money. The Italians deserve a hand here - a job well done.Funeral for a Friend HoursI know a number of people, both on the internet and those actual really breathing kind, that would say Funeral For A Friend got them into 'harder' music when they were growing up. And in looking into the band's discography recently, I can see why: decent guitar work from a band in this scene of clean-harsh vocal, love-lorn catchy post-hardcore stuff. It's music hard enough for you to jam to when you're in the bottom numeric half of your teens and great for setting up nostalgic moments for years later. Of course this album though, Hours, like Funeral For A Friend's work before and after, sounds different than the rest. It's here that they were at their best, I believe; no offense to Ryan Richards, but the guy can't fucking scream, and luckily his presence is way more scaled back than it was on debutCasually Dressed & Deep in Conversation. Instead, you have the band bringing a rather consistent bunch of marketable hard-hitting songs about relationships - no needless bull shit about sailing ships or whatever like on its 2007 follow-up, Tales Don't Tell Themselves. The singles here, particularly "All The Rage" and "Streetcar", are Funeral For A Friend's best songs, and as a whole, Hours bests the band's recent 'return-to-form' - or whatever the critics call that shit - Welcome Home Armageddon rather easily. The band need to get rid of the screams of Richards and go back to the style of this album: Hours was definitely when Funeral For A Friend were at their best, skip-able tracks aside of course. Hey Rosetta! SeedsYou know that dedication that was required of you by Hey Rosetta! in 2008 and the expanse
and beauty that filled much of previous effort Into Your Lungs? Err - okay, you
probably don't because sputnikmusic has, as Knott stated, criminally ignored this band. But
regardless it was there in that album, I promise, and if you had, hypothetically, given
Into Your Lungs your time, it would have given you its time and more as fair
and just payment. Well on follow-up Seeds, the band condenses all that promise and
hidden chest-of-goodies-ness into a more immediate effort, which is good for those of us
This works incredibly well up until "Welcome" on the album's second half; Hey
Rosetta! show a commercial appeal in their music before this point that could very well be
marketable if their dumbass label wasn't busy not wanting to make money - seriously, what
the fuck? But anyway, this strength does taper off near Seeds' end, as stated, and
leaves you wondering where the band went off to and why the hell tracks 8 through 11 aren't
catchy as hell - like those that came before them. Still, that leaves eight awesome tracks
from these underrated Canadians for you to listen to, and personally, I'd much rather listen
to these guys on the radio than their country-brother, non-related kin Nickelback and Three
Days Grace any day. I'm pretty sure you would too. Do Knott a favor, please, and give
Seeds, and Into Your Lungs too, a chance. I guarantee the title-track of the
former will at least surprise you if you do.Joyce Manor Joyce ManorJoyce Manor is a great, if insubstantial, reminder of the great, better happy punk bands of the past: that's what this album is more or less, and no more. In effect much like Red City Radio's The Dangers of Standing Still, in this way - which is another 2011 album in the anthemic punk vein you should look into - the album serves as a great re-kindler of the old flame in the punk scene, making sure the music of the genre for the year doesn't taper out and become overly soaked and saturated by this year's dumping of We the Kings[s] and All Time Low[s]. So even if Joyce Manor doesn't offer anything other than a great play-off, it's still worth checking out for punk enthusiasts or particularly those that want their summer afternoon jams to be pleasant and youthful for the season. I'd sooner go with The Bouncing Souls for my fix of that kind of listening, but this isn't bad at all for being new music either. My Chemical Romance Three Cheers For Sweet RevengeDammit, it has been years since I had last listened to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge - and it's aged well, thankfully. My Chemical Romance's break-out album was well-made, despite all its backlash; honestly, the guys wouldn't have got half as much shit if Gerard Way and crew had just dressed decently on a day-to-day basis back in 2004, but that's beside the point: what you have is some kind of loose-concept funeral album, but I just consider it some catchy tunes with spunk, heart-on-your-sleeves grim lyrical anecdotal track after track. There's a good level of consistency through out, too, and I'll be damned if "Hang 'Em High" isn't M.R.C.'s best track - epic-Western shit all over that. Red City Radio The Dangers of Standing StillThe boys from Oklahoma City will best be remembered on debut full-length The Dangers of Standing Still for their attitude and passion, rather than a plethora of hooks. On first listen, this is nothing but solid, lovable punk with a sing-a-long vibe - think The Menzingers with weaker hooks, more or less - and you're actually tempted to think there may be a little more than there actually is for you to digest. However, while there are numerous memorable instances - such as gang shouts of "We'll burn this city down!" or "They want us to die for something but live for nothing!", and the like - a few of the album's cuts run together, especially in the middle. Still, this is some of this year's best punk right here: incredibly well-played, instrumentally sharp, and vocally compelling. Red City Radio may not be deserving of the top just yet, but they're bound to get there in the future. The Dangers of Standing Still is a great start. 3.0 goodGreen Day American IdiotBecause, well, so many things are summed up by what Jesus Christ-ego complex Billie Joe
Armstrong says in Green Day's best song, "Whatsername":
"Forgetting you, but not the time."
Here's for the memories, bitch.
Here's for the memories, American Idiot.Killing The Dream FracturesA lot of Killing The Dream's fans say that this is the band's finest hour, or finest thirty minutes rather, but I'd have to say that honor goes to the prior album of the band's discography, In Place, Apart. Fractures is still quality melodic hardcore, though, pissed and slightly melodic in its length. However, the band underwent some line-up changes between In Place, Apart and this, though, and the difference between how Fractures flows and Killing The Dream's past work is pretty strong: songs don't move that naturally from track to track - a lot of stop-starting - and the more interesting, varied sections of Fractures are too underplayed and forgotten. Replacement guitarists DJ Rogers and Patrick Guild are certainly competent for the job, but Killing The Dream's music just isn't the same, or as good, as it once was. Owen New LeavesYou can hear Owen aging on New Leaves - Kinsella's lyrics, his arrangements, and even from the strain on his voice. As a transitional album, where Mike grows up - becomes a father and husband - this can't help but be disappointing. He's a tired man, and his younger years have noticeably taken their tole on the poor guy: "It's a young man's game / bout time I quit," Kinsella confesses on "Never Been Born". New Leaves is the singer-songwriter's weakest collection of songs since his self-titled release. And had not next album Ghost Town been announced for this fall, I would have been suspicious that this may have been his last - of course, thank God it's not.Septic Flesh The Great MassIn general, The Great Mass' sound shouldn't be all that impressive given what the Greek symphonic death metal band had to work with when going into its conception - their choir and orchestra - so, yes, it's certainly grandiose to say the least. However, they could have done much more with this thing. Base songwriting has improved, too; and the harsh vocals of Seth Antoniou are just as potent as ever. The cleans, well - not so much. It's unfortunate that with each release Septic Flesh continue to downplay their death metal element, though, and The Great Mass is no exception either. Theatrical metal gets no better, and much, much worse, than this, though, but you might want to consider this year's Agony offering from Septic Flesh's Italian peers Fleshgod Apocalypse instead. The rumor is that that album is better anyway. Tool 10,000 Days"You're the only one who can hold your head up high / Shake your fists at the gates saying: / 'I've come home now! / Fetch me the spirit, the son, and the father / Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended / It's time now! / My time now! / Give me my, give me my wings!' / You are the light and way that they will only read about."World Under Blood TacticalTactical leaves you as a promising, quick melodic death metal album, well-played, if a bit bothersome for its flirtation with melodic death metal's cliches. The clean vocal rinclusions, for well over half the album, are horrendous, and a little too much of this rblends together. But it is well-played overall and proves Deron Miller can do more than just the alternative metal of CKY. Tactical may be a forgettable effort all things rconsidered in the long run, but at least it's not a disaster. And let's be honest here: didn't we all expect it to be horrendous? Surprisingly, it's actually solid. 2.5 averageArms and Sleepers The Organ HeartsInterestingly, The Organ Hearts turns out to be a rather dull and passable offering from the reasonably prolific Arms and Sleepers. Tracks featuring the vocals of Ben Sheppard seem ambiguous and slight-of-hand compared to Sleepers' past albums, and while I'm no admirer of any electronic-based reviews from a scene-ish 'zine like Rocksound, I believe the writer's quote, "this is an album that's much easier to admire than to love", rings with a whole lot of truth when describing The Organ Hearts: it's pretty, but there isn't all that much here worth returning to. Fightstar Be HumanFightstar take the more experimental direction of 2007's One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours and move in a more commercial direction with follow-up Be Human - perhaps to show up their prior label that had wanted them to be more marketable to begin with - also adding in the addition of choir accompaniment and symphonic orchestration via the work of Audrey Riley at Air Studios. The result is a remarkably strong collection of tracks by itself, if weaker production-wise in comparison to the band's first two albums. What really hurts Be Human, though, are its songs' incredibly laughable sets of lyrics: honestly, not many single tracks here make sense at all. Charlie Simpson seems to be singing about things in a dream world, with "Tonight We Burn" and perhaps "Never Change" being the lone exceptions. Again, the songs themselves are strong and catchy, but these lyrics are just too much to bare; this was a problem on One Day Son[. . .], but less so on debut The Grand Unification. Fightstar have everything they need to excel to the top of the UK rock scene, but if they want to be more successful they need to level with their audience a bit more. Keep the hooks coming, boys, but leave the penned shit at home next time. Be relevant to your audience: you know, uh - be human, or at least something like the rest of us.Fleshgod Apocalypse OraclesIn retrospect, I'm surprised a band like this could pull of Agony. For one thing, Fleshgod Apocalypse scream trite and typical tech-death fare on Oracle with lazy symphonics thrown in between some of their songs. For another thing, Paoli sounds pretty mediocre behind the kit, which is rather ridiculous - he's a fucking wrecking ball on the band's later work. Props for the band getting better and all after Oracle, though, because this right here is pretty dry and limp-y-sounding metal.Owen OwenIn 2001's Owen you hear everything that would later make Mike Kinsella's solo project what it is today - an audio journal of an aging man's life and failings. But here, his voiced is unfocused, his songs wondering, and the instrumentals are pointless. There's a couple of good songs, but for Owen's best material, listeners should look to No Good For No One Now and onward releases. Those never fail. Reigning Sound Time Bomb High SchoolAt the base of Reigning Sound's songwriting team is Greg Cartwright, and as this band's career in garage rock has proven, the guitarist's ear for melody is quite wonderful. However, it's Time Bomb High School's circular revolving lyrical schemes of Cartwright's 'girl' that seriously hamper the album's effect. All of these songs more or less amount to the same pursuit of a girl, fifteen cuts, and save some nice, dirty guitar solos here and there, instrumentally Reigning Sound are lacking that extra -umph. Sufjan Stevens IllinoisMetaphorically, it's like the audio of Illinois is starting to fade away from my ears, slowly. Sufjan Stevens, with his melodies, stories of the title-state's lure, and numerous instruments are riding off into the sunset of some overbearing horse, or donkey. I shake my head; this time, I tell myself, I 'get' it: Stevens' voice is sweet. Illinois may be impressive in its scope. And the styles on display, within the realm of indie pop, may be wide in their reach. But I simply, after years of trying, just plainly dislike this music: it grows tiring. The stories are dull. The melodies are sweet yet artificially saccharine, and I really want to tell Stevens to stop fucking whispering, for Christ's sake. The Age of Adz is leagues worse than this, mind you, but Illinois' magnificence, not just in the idea of it as a project, but as an actual listening experience, has finally escaped me. Stevens continues to ride away from me on his ass, and I think I'm no longer going to bother chasing after him anymore. This album and its numerous accolades can go to hell.You Am I Hourly, DailyYou Am I's best album, as well as one of Australia's best albums of all time, is merely good alternative rock and no more. Hourly, Daily hasn't aged well at all since its release roughly seventeen years ago: a blotchy production job and a rather inconsistent, if varied, collection of songs runs its welcome out just halfway into its length. Singer and guitarist Tim Rogers just sounds like a prepubescent boy, too, unfortunately. Still, it does carry a foundation framework that many of Australia's best alternative rock bands would follow into the later 90s and 00s as well. It's just a shame that the album many critics hold so highly and responsible actually isn't all that good when played out.Young Guns All Our Kings Are DeadWhat's the problem with All Our Kings Are Dead, anyway? Well - actually, there's rreally terribly nothing wrong with it really. Young Guns do nothing wrong, I guess, rand they do absolutely nothing right either. As one reader stated: this is completely harmless. And that's probably why Young Guns have such a boring and inoffensive album on their hands. The instrumentals are pleasant but are too liquid-like and slight. Singer Gustav Wood doesn't whine at all, thankfully, but neither does he incite much if any emotion in the songs. "Meter and Verse" is a solid enough tune, but other than that, this album will flow by you unnoticed. You won't find much fault, but like I said, you won't find much to come back to either. 2.0 poorArcade Fire The SuburbsFuneral and Neon Bible made Arcade Fire leaders of indie rock during the Naughts - and understandably so. But this . . . well The Suburbs is, uh, conflicted. At first listen the Canadians' third full-length would appear to be brimming with depth - some parts immediate, others that make you think 'I guess this will grow on me' - but sadly, this is a disappointingly empty beast that promises much and leaves you bored and empty-handed at the end of the day. The Suburbs is far too long, too, and while I have no fault with the lyrics here, some songs just seem out of place - "Month of May". What a shockingly poor effort by the powerhouse that is Arcade Fire. Every Avenue Bad HabitsUp until now Every Avenue were arguably the best band playing this style of summer pop-rock, showing up the likes of We The Kings and The Maine with ease. Tracks like "Tell Me I'm A Wreck" and "Picture Perfect" were Top-40 singles in the making from the last album with the same name of the latter song, and a ballad like "Saying Goodbye" would have even fit nicely on a dramatic love scene on a chick-flick of some sort. But Bad Habits, however, proves to be an album that's really no more than its own title: Every Avenue are going to regress in status with this one, and if they keep making "rocking, live-sounding" albums likes this one with bad-habit songwriting processes, pardon the pun, their future is a sure dead end. Best learn to mature properly, guys, or go back to making the music that you're actually good at making. After all, that's all that anybody wants to hear anyway.Fair to Midland Arrows and AnchorsShame this band is starting to get a close-minded fanbase - anyway, this is rather rdisappointing: "It's not so much the band itself or even the songwriting, which I personally think is weaker overall, but the production here is atrocious. It's a meaty heavy sound, which is okay in and of itself, but it drowns the singer out, who himself doesn't vary his tone as much as he did on Fables. Mix in a thick sound, a decreased level of songwriting quality, and too much length, and all together for me it's just a poor effort." Foo Fighters Wasting LightWasting Light had me worried when I first heard lead single "Rope" before the album's release: Okay. Here's a stereotypical Foo Fighter's song, I thought, but it doesn't have that 'umph' that predecessor lead singles "Best of You", "Pretender", or even "All My Life" had to make it stand out. It's just, well, there - a Foo Fighters song, and that's it. Regardless of what I think of that song, it still rules the charts to this day months later, a mystery. But my fears for the album itself were confirmed. Staff reviewer Nick Butler may say that Wasting Light is a Foo Fighters album without filler, but to me that's all it is: just a bunch of Foo Fighters songs that we have been hearing for nearly two decades now, no real standout melodies or anything worth calling attention to. Call it their best album if you must, but this fucking Crowe is gonna call Wasting Light wasting time. Now I really have absolutely no reason to listen to rock radio. Thanks, Grohl. Funeral for a Friend Welcome Home ArmageddonAlright, so it's been a while since Funeral For A Friend have been (at least fairly) good, rand Welcome Home Armageddon guarantees that it's going to be longer still until the band finds its feet - if ever. The instruments pound harder; the general tempo of the songs is faster, yet the songwriting just isn't there at all. Throw in the use of the painfully grating screams of drummer Ryan Richards again - a dreadful habit I had hoped the band had long since stopped around 2005 or thereabouts - and you have quite a painful-to-listen-to effort that will no doubt underwhelm you. Hints of something good is to be heard hear, I admit; but hints don't make a good song, much less twelve of them, now do they?Killing The Dream Lucky Me'Oh so disappointing' - that's a common phrase that I've read from Killing The Dream fans in a number of places around the internet regarding the hardcore band's 2010 release, Lucky Me. However, the change of direction that the band has taken itself here, slowing shit down and looking out for more melodic corners, isn't exactly a bad decision: it's just that they go about it all wrong. More slowed-down sections for purer lyrical clarity? Try sheer boredom and plodding instrumentals. More catchy, fist-raising moments for the more melodic bits? Try cheesy and, to be honest, a lack of good melody. So yes - 'oh so disappointing', but Killing The Dream can pull this thing off better next time, hopefully at least.My Chemical Romance Danger Days: The True Lives of...I found the critics' response to this, as well as sputnikmusic's, rather interesting: reviews were mediocre to good for My Chemical Romance's follow-up to the infamous The Black Parade, while around this corner of the internet they were rather atrocious. In comparison, The Black Parade was received well almost straight across the board with critics, but it was hit and miss here. My conclusion? If you are part of the sputnikmusic community, you have a negative M.C.R. filter. And I'm no different: Danger Days for My Chemical Romance is what The Black Parade could have been if it was done terribly. Each song has a hook, mind you, so you can once again hear the blatant singles lined up - "Sing", yikes - but they all feel so damn weak and contrived. My Chemical Romance just seem to have been trying too hard to recreate something that they will never top again in The Black Parade with Danger Days. In all honesty, this album is pathetic. Read the Staff review for further details and explanations. Panda Bear Tomboy. . . then Tomboy is precisely most of what Animal Collective do wrong. The Wonder Years Suburbia: I've Given You All and Now I'm NothingI listen to The Wonder Years - any of their albums, really - and I get that same feeling of bitterness and resentment that I imagine fans of bands like The Gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers, and, hell, even New Found Glory must get while listening to them, or any pick-and-choose modern "pop-punk" band: oh hey - this is, what do you know, more pseudo-sunny bull shit for the kiddies. If you like this, fine. But for the life of me, I don't hear anything here that stands out or makes The Wonder Years the Second Coming of Jesus Christ for pop-punk that sites like AbsolutePunk and, oh fucking God, sputnikmusic make them out to be. I was unimpressed with The Upsides and found Suburbia - [and insert random shit] even more infuriating: Grade-A Meh.Tool LateralusLateralus is atrocious.
"And now, the obligatory pitching of the fork."Trashcan Sinatras WeightliftingTrashcan Sinatras bring to mind the now-defunct indie pop powerhouse that was Australia's The Lucksmiths; that is, if that band were inconsistent and nauseatingly saccharin, unfortunately. Yes, What the Trashcan Sinatras make up with their ear for melody and soft, inoffensive sort of instrumental dabbings for each of Weightlifting's tracks, they lose with their lack of any real flow from track to track, and, well, they are a bit too obvious, too. Sure, indie pop is no subgenre for progressive heads that love to peel away the 'xtra layers, but this is pretty bare and straightforward stuff, painfully so; which in this case makes Weightlifting sound hopelessly insincere. Just listen to opening cut "Welcome Back", and you'll get what I'm talking about. 1.5 very poorThe Gaslight Anthem American SlangYou may hear a maturing rock band - but I hear boredom and a lack of inspiration. American Slang is just one of those dividing records for fans, though: some will like The Gaslight Anthem's new change in directions, but others like myself won't at all. There's nothing memorable here; I can't recall any highlights. And save for Brian Fallon's ever-likable chops, I'd sooner say this is the biggest disappointment of 2010. Want every rock band to make music like this, you say? How about every punk rock band make music in the vein that made them awesome in the first place - at least it was good music. If you're going to change, bring the quality with you. This is nothing but a drag, man.Wild Beasts SmotherI wish I could better explain my dislike for Smother, but I'll just say Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming are the worst vocal duo ever. There's this incessant talk of the real shit being hidden in there with repeated listens and what not. But I ain't hearing nothing but garbage, murk, and a whole lot that terrible singing from both of those dudes over and over again - be it with one listen to Smother or twenty. I haven't checked out the rest of Wild Beasts' output, and although people say it's all different from the rest, with singers like this I can't imagine it being any better at all, really. Smother sucks, and those afraid to rate this badly because of a fear of not being hip and cool can come out now: you're not alone. 1.0 awfulGreen Day 21st Century Breakdown21st Century Breakdown for Green Day is kind of what happened to Radiohead earlier this year in 2011 with shit-fest King of the Limbs: 'Oh hey, guys, we're important. So let's just do what made us popular before without any effort because shit's easy and we're Green Day'. Sorry, Mr. Armstrong, but throwing American Idiot 2.0 to us with melodies recycled from your past albums, particularly Warning, does not make good music. Jesus Christ, music's leading rock musicians need to get their heads out of their asses. This is shit. Radiohead The King of LimbsAccording to rumor, God doesn't make mistakes.
Therefore, Radiohead can no longer be considered God.
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