Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hardcore AoTY #3

Ceremony - Rohnert Park

This album is the closest to 80's hardcore I have heard in any recent releases. For those not familar with Ceremony they are a San Francisco bay-area hardcore band that has been around for five years. Rohnert Park is hands down the most unquie album they have released to date though, while less "intense" at times than their previous releases it is also their most stripped-down sounding. Blending a mix of early Stooges influences with more typical hardcore influences (i.e. Black Flag) this album is unpredictable but always punk. It's unusual and definitely worth a listen. This is an album that might be a case of fridge brilliance though, it wasn't until my second or third listen that I truly appreciated it and as far as I can tell that is the only flaw it exhibits.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hardcore AoTY Contender #2

Touche Amore/La Dispute - Searching for a Pulse/The Worth of the World 7"

This split comes courtesy of two pretty sick bands. I saw Touche Amore back in May opening up for Converge and they were awesome live. They blend "traditional" with screamo and sound reminiscent of Orchid at times. La Dispute has more of a post-hardcore sound mixed with some prog. Both bands sound amazing on this and there is a consistency here that is lacking on a lot of splits.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hardcore AoTY Contender

More Than Life - Love Let Me Go

More Than Life is a melodic hardcore band from England that deserves a lot more credit. Checkout this album it's one of my favorites of this year (so far) and blends melodic screaming hardcore seamlessly with emotional lyrics.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"Punk died when the first kid said, 'Punks not dead!" I have no idea who said that and I wish they were wrong but unfortunately with time it seems more and more that real punk music is on serious life support and showing signs of brain damage...hang on, apparently the brain damage has always been there. I know you're all thinking, "but Matt, how can this be?! A punk band won a Grammy this year! The announcer on the TV said so." Let's get something clear right off the bat, Green Day hasn't been relative to punk rock since the mid 90's. Ask a real punk fan ("real" being the key-term there) and they'll tell you the same exact thing. Green Day has been riding the sellout train since then and they have made a stupid amount of money doing it, and that's where the problems begin. Bands see the success (i.e money) that Green Day gets and they start to follow suit (see: Alkaline Trio). Now some people might say "hey, a band is like a business and if they want to make money then why stop them?" If your sole purpose in playing music is to make money then you are doing it quite wrong, it's one thing to sign to a major label as a business move (I remember the backlash from the punk community when Dillinger Four signed to Fat Wreck however) but it's another to change the sound and content for purely commercial reasons. When that occurs you are now venturing into"sell-out" territory. There is a Green Day musical in the works, yeah that's right, a Broadway musical is being made out of American Idiot. Now if that's not selling out then I don't know what is. At the very least to continue to call yourself a "punk" band is like a slap in the face to all the real punk bands that came before you. So yeah if there's one thing to take away here it's this: if your band gets big kids, don't make a musical based on one of your albums, it's just stupid.

Alright, end rant, start review:
"so it's one of the best metal albums of '09? But it's by a punk band?"
Propagandhi - Supporting Caste

For anyone not familiar with them Propagandhi is a very outspoken political-oriented punk rock band from Canada. These guys have been killing it since '86 and they are showing no signs of slowing down with their latest release. Again if you're not familiar with them they have been drifting towards a more technical metal influenced sound with their latest releases, and that shows here. This album really lets you hear some of the more metal influences on these guys while still remaining a solid political-punk release. Old school hardcore riff'ing and furious blast-beats abound while a few songs almost have a "lighter" feel to them. The track Potemkin City Limits is the perfect example of that with it's very melody oriented atmospheric guitar work. Still this is straight up anti-establishment music and Propagandhi loves sharing their opinions on government, human rights and tolerance with us, usually in an angry manner too. One of the things that Propagandhi has always impressed me with is their lyrics, they've always seemed to be able to say a lot with a little. Hooks get you to sing along with some catchy line or chorus until you dig deeper and get the whole meaning. These guys are the absolute experts at that, you'll listen to a song by them and then the next thing you know there is a line stuck in your head for the rest of the day. The opening track "Night Letters" showcases this beautifully and features thrash-influenced guitar work that would make the likes of James Hetfield, Scott Ian and Kerry King jealous (notice I didn't mention Dave Mustaine because Dave Mustaine never gets jealous of anyone AMIRITE?!). Some of the best displays of the technical chops of Propagandhi comes on the track "The Funeral Procession" and makes it one of the standout songs off this album in my opinion. All in all, in a year that was pretty weak in music (2009) Supporting Caste is quite an astonishing work and is an ideal alternative to the likes of Rise Against who are fast becoming generic and pop infused. This album is worth every cent and I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

School is busy and time consuming

School has been consuming my time a lot, it sucks being a bioinformatics major and a music minor. It should be noted that I hate neither subjects it's just that the amount of reading that those subjects require is consuming a lot of time but the content is quite enjoyable at least. I'm going to school in Albany and I feel it's appropriate to mention that the music scene up here is very impressive. Being a college town, a somewhat decent size city and located in the middle of New York there is a very interesting mix of styles and acts that play in the area. You can go to a dive bar one night and watch a local two-piece art rock act for $2 and then the next night go blow over fifty bucks at the Times Union Center for some overrated, over-hyped national touring alternative band. The diveristy of the genres up here is what is impressing me the most, but coming from Poughkeepsie where all the bands were either generic metalcore or generic alt. rock that might not be saying much. If you got the time look into Albany area natives After The Fall, Dead Aces and The Killerados .

Alright end rant begin review:

"You got you're post-rock guitars in my emo vocals! You got you're emo vocals in my..."

Seasons In Verse

Seasons In Verse by the Connecticut band My Heart To Joy has to be one of the hidden gems of '09. My Heart To Joy has been around since early 2006, and they've been going strong ever since. One of my favorite things about them is the way they have evolved over the years. With origins in hardcore punk they blended in indie and art influences to sculpt their sound into something that is now comparable to Thursday and At The Drive-In. This shift in sound helped them stand out and garnered them a record deal. Seasons in Verse is the first full length record they have put out. The opening instrumental track with atmospheric guitars is reminiscent of post-rock such as sleepmakeswaves. The lead vocals of Ryan Nelson and backing vocals of Greg Horbal are post-hardcore in the vein of Thursday. The standout track on this album that showcases their blend of post-hardcore and indie rock has to be Old Capitals. The song features some of Greg's best guitar work on the album in my opinion and his post-rock inspired solo is one of the best examples of the keep-it-simple. I saw these guys live back in January and they absolutely killed it. Not only are they talented musicians but they are really friendly guys too. They have new material on the way too so be on the lookout for that and try to catch them on tour if you have the means.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good music that you probably missed in '09

So we're 13 days into 2010 ("twenty-ten" is how all the cool people are pronouncing it fyi) and I was reflecting the other day on the past year. For music it was pretty meh, some okay releases, quite a few mudane ones and a few rare gems. I'm going to try to break this up by genres because I listen to a somewhat wide array of music and doing a "best-of" for the entire year will result in some good releases being missed, and with the way the world is going now we can use all the good music we can get. So here we go, over the next few days we'll see what I think were the better and in some cases overlooked albums of '09.

Grunge isn't dead:

Black Gives Way To Blue - Alice In Chains

This was my pleasant surprise of the year. I had somewhat low expectations when I had heard that Alice In Chains was going to record a new album after the death of Layne however that all changed after I listened to this. Black Gives Way To Blue is not a solid release but a stunning and exceptional one. The first single Check My Brain is just as good as anything from Dirt-era Alice In Chains and showcases Jerry Cantrell simple but amazing sounding guitar style perfectly. It's all here, the energy, the harmonized vocals (it actually sounds like Jerry is doing the majority of the vocal work now, which is a-okay with me) and the gritty heavy-as-lead guitar riffs. The overall attitude of the album seems to be a bit more deep then on their previous albums which is probably directly related to the death of Layne. This is one of (if not the) best albums this year and is worth checking out. Also it should be noted that Elton John makes a guest appearance on the title track. That song seems to be a tribute to Layne and is a very nice showcase of the bands' talent.

"Hooks the size of Dave Mustaine's ego":

Homesick - A Day To Remember

The third release by A Day To Remember (ADTR) and it seems to be their stab at mainstream success. It’s easy to tell when someone is trying too hard. All bands want to be popular and be the “next big thing” the only problem is that it’s painfully obvious when bands deliberately try to be popular or “catchy” instead of writing good music. This has never been a problem for ADTR, the ease in which they blend catchy pop-punk choruses with post-hardcore breakdowns and drop C guitar work is impressive, surprisingly fresh and not a combination that one would expect to sound as good as it does. The opening track "The Downfall Of Us All" is an ideal case of ADTR's music style, the song is a great album opener and showcases the sound that make them get stuck in your head for days. The last track on this album is a nice acoustic-driven duet that shows us that vocalist Jeremy McKinnon has a softer side and is quite good at clean style vocal work as well as screaming. A Day To Remember is a band that seems like they are posed to breakout and this album might be the one that grants them mainstream success. It's definitely worth buying and checking out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fu Manchu - Signs of Infinite Power

This is the tenth album by the Stoner Rock kings Fu Manchu and one of the better albums of this year. Fu Manchu stays loyal to their fuzzed-out van-shaking bass-heavy sound with this release and it does not disappoint. For a band that's been around for over 20 years it's good to see these guys still stay loyal to their proved riff-based formula and still manage to make it sound good. My only complaint about this album is that it clocks in at just 35 minutes, which to me is a little on the short side. The shorter length does make it more accessible to listen to in it's entirety however which could be a ploy to capture the fans that just listen to singles. This is a solid release in what has been a kind of mundane year in music and is worth checking out.