Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 22.10.07

It’s that time of year again – it gets dark earlier, the nights are drawing in, the cold creeps through your bones and the rain showers down on you… OK, well the rain has been here all year, but the rest still stands. So to help you through this dark and dreary time, we’ve got some reviews of the best guitar-led music has to offer. Get ready for the carnage:

Pete Craven recommends:

BAD RELIGION – “New Maps of Hell”
(Epitaph)
www.epitaph.com

Studio album #14 from Bad Religion and 16 brand new cuts of their trademark compact melodic Punk with socially conscious lyrics and those infamous “oozin aah” vocal harmonies.

Greg Graffin’s lyrics are like no-one else, he really is the Punk Rock Nutty Professor… “Lacerate eviscerate and perforate and mutilate (We all fall down, all fall down) Deprecate repudiate ameliorate adjudicate (The wisdom found, wisdom found)”… the Graffin’s must hide the scrabble when Greg comes around.

KNUGEN FALLER – “Lugna Favoriter”
(Wasted Sounds / Ny Våg)
www.wastedsounds.com / www.nyvag.com

Following up their 2 cracking EP’s, and the Knugen Faller debut album is finally out. And to this listener it doesn’t disappoint one bit. Super melodic ’77 influenced Poppy Punk, complete with saxophone (that gives it an X-Ray Spex push) and Silvia Sate’s fine vocals.

With a drastic swing to the Right in Swedish politics, these Umeå radicals have plenty to sing and dance about at the way they see their country headed.

PELIGRO SOCIAL – “No Religion”
(Tank Crimes)
www.tankcrimes.com

Ay Carumba! A most ass-kicking album from these SanFran East Bay Hispanic spikey tops. It’s a winning formula, with a crunching blend of UK82 (Blitz, Partisans) mixed with a classic snotty SoCal beach sound (Social D, Adolescents) and old Spanish Punk like Espasmodicos and Eskorbuto. Absolute fuckin’ smoker.

RED DONS – “Escaping Amman”
(Deranged)
www.derangedrecords.com

From the ashes of The Observers comes the Red Dons, and yes it sounds a heck of a lot like The Observers, and yes – I like these 4 songs a heck of a lot – even if the production is a little muddy.

There’s a Middle Eastern theme throughout, with the futility of the Arabic and Jewish divide given the ‘Dons attention. Hope I get to see ’em when they tour Europe.

THE HARD-ONS – “Most People are Nicer Than Us”
(Boss Tuneage)
www.bosstuneage.com

Finally out, this is the accompanying Noise disc to the previously released Pop album “Most People are a Waste of Time“.

And this is indeed a whole different beast… with Ray, Blackie ‘n Pete flicking the detonation switch and letting rip with breakneck guttural hardcore rage and full tilt wrought iron rock. It’s a ferocious offering that bears little if any semblance to their better known material, but for me these guys are improving with age.

Alex Gosman recommends:

CHUCK RAGAN – Feast Or Famine
(Side One Dummy)
www.chuckraganmusic.com

The Draft’s superb 2006 debut, ‘In A Million Pieces‘, was undoubtedly comfort to those still mourning the demise of Hot Water Music…but what of the one ex-HWM member not involved, Chuck Ragan? He’s grabbed his acoustic guitar and headed in a folk/country direction, creating a record that resonates with genuine warmth and emotion whilst retaining the rough edges so beloved of his former band.

There’s a wealth of traditional folk instruments present on songs like ‘California Burritos‘ and the violin-driven ‘Do You Pray‘, but at the heart of it all are Chuck’s trademark gruff vocals and insistent strumming; a troubadour who’s been there, seen that, and has plenty of stories to tell. Believe me, you should be listening.

WE START FIRES – We Start Fires
(Hot Noise)
www.westartfires.co.uk

Could your life use a little extra sparkle? Then you’d do well to check out We Start Fires; three girls and one guy who, on their debut album, have created the best Geordie(ish) sexy pop-glam-punk experience since the first Kenickie album.

Stripped-down guitars, squiggly synth and dual vocals are the orders of the day, and they arrive in form of catchy mini-anthems like ‘Hipshake’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Play You’ – the ideal soundtrack to getting ready for a night on the tiles. And when it’s all over, the beautifully melancholic finale of ‘Lullabies’ should help ease the comedown.

THE BONES – Burnout Boulevard
(Century Media)
www.bonesrocknroll.com

Crank this one up loud, and you can almost hear the flame tattoos, leather jackets and low-slung guitars. Yep, the Bones play unashamedly gutter-level rock n’ roll, and they play it as if their very lives depend on it.

Marrying terrace chant choruses and squealing solos to melodic punk rock riffs, singer/guitarist Beef Bonanza (!) and his crew certainly aren’t reinventing the rock n’ roll wheel, but there are enough catchy tunes and hell for leather attitude on display here for ‘Burnout Boulevard‘ to warrant repeated listens.

FUELED BY FIRE – Spread The Fire
(Metal Blade)
www.myspace.com/fueledbyfire

The cover of Fueled By Fire‘s debut album depicts a long haired, leather-jacketed thrash aficionado strangling an emo kid with his studded belt. No, it’s not big or clever, but it is pretty damn funny – rather like FBF themselves, who gleefully reference many of thrash’s leading lights (Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, etc.) and traditional lyrical topics (destruction, warfare, and the general awesomeness of thrash) on tracks like ‘Thrash Is Back‘ and ‘Dreams Of Terror‘. More overtly metallic than their former tour buddies Municipal Waste, FBF are a welcome addition to the current thrash revival.

MEET ME IN ST LOUIS – Variations On Swing
(Big Scary Monsters)
www.meetmeinstlouis.co.uk

Ridiculously long song titles seem to be all the rage these days; but alas, the songs themselves are rarely as interesting as said titles might suggest.Meet Me In St Louis are an exception to this; an utterly warped post-hardcore troupe that have recorded one of the most schizophrenic and volatile British debut albums since Yourcodenameis:milo (RIP) first leapt from the trenches.

Constantly twisting and turning, the likes of ‘I Am Champagne, You Are Shit‘ are fast, slow, loud, quiet, energetic, melancholic – and also eerily addictive. They’ll be touring almost non-stop for the next couple of months; you know what to do.

THE MENZINGERS – A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology
(Go-Kart)
www.themenzingers.com

If you thought Against Me’s recent ‘New Wave‘ album was a bit over-polished, you could do a lot worse than check out The Menzingers. Hailing from Scranton, Pennsylvania, these guys specialise in a mix of melodic but aggressive punk rock anthems, huge sing-along choruses and even the odd acoustic folk number here and there.

It’s smart, propulsive stuff, with an enjoyably rough production job that doesn’t stop songs like ‘Sir Yes Sir‘ and ‘Even For An Eggshell‘ shining through as proof of a band with a fire in their collective belly. And let’s face it, we really need more of them these days.

SOHODOLLS – Ribbed Music For The Numb Generation
(A&G/Universal)
www.sohodolls.co.uk

Sex and music are hardly strangers to each other, but it’s a particularly strong aura of sex that pervades Sohodolls’ debut album (just check that title, ferchrissakes). This London electro crew make the ideal soundtrack to an evening of S&M delights, and if that sounds mildly unnerving, you could happily just get your groove on to the likes of ‘Prince Harry‘ and ‘Trash The Rental‘ (essentially the sound of Blondie meeting Depeche Mode in a fetish club). Overall, ‘Ribbed Music…’ is the equivalent of a velvet-gloved hand stroking its way down the inner thigh of musical banality; and for that alone, the Sohodolls deserve kudos.

DROPKICK MURPHYS – The Meanest Of Times
(Cooking Vinyl)
www.dropkickmurphys.com

The Dropkicks have been flying their Irish-American folk punk flag for over a decade now, and it seems that all those years on the road have only made them stronger. ‘The Meanest Of Times‘ is their sixth album, and it burns with all the raw honesty and everyman spirit that the band have long since made their trademark.

They may have sacrificed some of their variety for sheer pace this time around, but there’s no arguing with anthems like ‘God Willing‘ and ‘Flanningan’s Ball‘ – bursting as they are with Celtic charm and fists-in-the-air choruses. Let’s Go Murphys!

Ryan Bird recommends:

COHEED & CAMBRIA – No World For Tomorrow
(Sony BMG)
www.coheedandcambria.com

Already a sure fire contender for album of the year, the fourth album from New York’s Coheed & Cambria sees the band moving away from their previous ‘concept’ angle, instead choosing to write a deeply personal and entirely non-fictional record. With Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins occupying the stool, ‘No World For Tomorrow‘ is utterly sensational, representing possibly the best album of their career thus far.

Though the conceptual element to the band’s sound may have taken a back seat, absolutely none of their song-writing and technical abilities are missing in action. Songs such as ‘The End Complete‘ even feature thrash metal grooves, while ‘On The Brink‘ sees them delving into the twisted, psychedelic world of Tool during its explosive climax. Unpredictable and never less than riveting, Coheed & Cambria are your new favourite band. You just may not know it yet.

DOWN – Down III: Over The Under
(Roadrunner)
www.down-nola.com

Given that this is only the third album in almost fifteen years by one of rock’s favourite super groups, when Down announced that work had begun on ‘III’ in late 2006 the anticipation alone was enough to convince you that one of the albums of the year was on its way.

Twelve months later and proof is at hand, arriving in a bellow of suspicious smoke. Their first effort in over five years, each track is a Sabbath-worshipping, Moonshine-guzzling triumph that will you leave you in little doubt as to the necessity of such a stellar band.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Avenged Sevenfold
(Warner Bros)
www.avengedsevenfold.com

Self-titled albums are a bit of a dodgy quantity these days. They’re either a firm statement that the music contained is a perfect representation of a band’s sound, or merely a sign that they couldn’t be arsed to think up a better title.

Thankfully the latest effort from Avenged Sevenfold is the former. Blending traditional metal with classic rock and their own distinctive, ever-present twists, Avenged Sevenfold – both band and album – sound nothing less than vital.

ALTER BRIDGE – Blackbird
(Island/Universal)
www.alterbridge.com

Ok, so three of them used to be in Creed, but the truth is that the second album from Alter Bridge is nowhere near as much of an embarrassment as you may fear.

In fact, ‘Blackbird’ is everything a decent hard rock album should be: crunching, melodic and utterly soulful. Opener ‘Ties That Bind‘ even features the type of busy opening riff so often seen in bands Lamb Of God, suggesting that their future may indeed be an interesting one.

EVERY TIME I DIE – The Big Dirty
(Ferret)
www.everytimeidie.com

Throughout the remainder of the year, chances are you won’t see many album titles quite as apt as this bad boy. Over the years the New York quartet have undertaken a slow but steady evolution, gradually merging their already unique hardcore sound with traditional rock and roll.

Their fourth album thus far, ‘The Big Dirty‘ is exactly as its name suggests – fucking filthy and featuring more blinding riffs than you can shake a stick at. If you want a little ruckus with your rock, look no further.

HIGH ON FIRE – Death Is This Communion
(Relapse)
www.highonfire.net

Over the past seven years, two things have been certain in life. Night always follows day, and High On Fire are always nothing less than brilliant.

Death Is This Communion‘ is absolutely no exception, further enhancing their already uncanny abilities to sound like the best bits of Slayer and Motorhead simultaneously. Fire may not be your chosen narcotic, but if such activities are your bag then is undoubtedly your new recreational soundtrack.

Charli Russell recommends:

THE SONIC HEARTS – Hold On
(EMI)
www.myspace.com/thesonichearts

The debut single from Liverpool quintet The Sonic Hearts, “Hold On“, is a perfectly melodic showcase of the newest indie talent. Lead vocalist, Sean Francis Butler, demonstrates how a lazy summer should sound, with backing vocal help from Kirsty Donaldson and John Sealey.

Listening to “Hold On“, it is possible to imagine The Sonic Hearts as an almost Magic Numbers-esque band, however, they are so much more. Currently recording their debut album at The Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire (other bands to have recorded their debuts here include Arctic Monkeys and The Automatic), The Sonic Hearts have the potential to become much more than a one hit wonder festival band.

GOOSE- Bring It On
(Skint)
www.goosemusic.com

Bring It On” is the latest single from the Belgian electro indie band Goose. Signed to Skint Records, Goose began as an AC/DC cover group, “Bring It On” shows how far they have come from then. Though they have been together since 2000, the path that has been laid out by the new rave bands of 2007, such as The Klaxons and CSS, leads them towards a hit single.

Their style of electro rock music together with striking vocals seems as though it was perfected for the new rave phase, however they have been performing like this since before the Klaxons were around. “Bring It On” treads the delicate line between indie and electronic genres, and does it perfectly.

THE GOSSIP – Jealous Girls
(Back Yard)
www.myspace.com/gossipband

Still known as that band with the fat female singer who sung “Standing in the Way of Control”, The Gossip have produced an unpretentious follow up single. “Jealous Girls” certainly has a lot of similarities to “Standing…”, the strong, repetitive staccato bass line with the amazing vocal talents of Beth Ditto, though “Jealous Girls” is a strong song in it’s own right.

Perfectly understated with a clear message throughout, The Gossip have yet again come up with a catchy, sing along single. Whether the majority of the record buying public will also realise, this is unclear – however what is clear, listening to the live track included on the single, is that this is definitely a band who need to be seen and heard live to be completely appreciated.

MR HUDSON – Picture Of You
(Mercury)
www.myspace.com/mrhudson

Taken from the debut album “A Tale of Two Cities”, “Picture of you” is the latest single from Mr Hudson and the Library. The song itself is a testament to the ability of a picture of a loved one to comfort and inspire those who carry them. A beautifully written and tender single,
listening to “Picture of you” can take you away from life, if only for a short two and a half minutes.

The piano melody throughout the song, especially poignant in the instrumental version available on the single, is perfect for the lyrics. “Should time bring me fame or a touch of bling, imagine that – getting paid to sing” sings Mr Hudson, the lines just adding to the simple delicacy of the song. Truly beautiful.

KINGSOMNIAC – Language Of A Lady
(Faculty)
www.kingsomniac.com

Touted as “proper guitar pop”, Kingsomniac are a Brighton based foursome whose debut single “Language of a Lady” is released 13th August. “Language of a Lady” is a suave, ska like single that almost seems to promise that there is so much more to come from this band.

Kingsomniac manage to both sound like so many different bands currently on the scene, yet also to sound like something completely new and not heard before. A band with a playful debut single and a band to look out for, Kingsomniac come across as not only a breath of fresh air on the indie circuit, but also a simply a likable group of people. Definitely keep an eye on these boys.

JAMIE SCOTT – When Will I See Your Face Again?
(Polydor)
www.jamiescottandthetown.com

The debut single from Jamie Scott and the Town, “When will I see your face again“, is a delicate balance of classic ballad and indie pop. Jamie Scott is a part of the recent breed of singer-songwriters all fighting to make their mark on the charts and the record buying public.

“When will I see your face again” is the first single released of Jamie Scott’s debut album, “Park Bench Theories”, which is set for release on September 3rd this year and if the rest of the album tracks are as beautifully written as this, then the album is a sure fire hit. The beauty of “When will I see your face again” lies in not only the strong vocals, but also the meaningful lyrics that lend a sense of longing to the song.

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Real Life
(PIAS)
www.joanaspolicewoman.com

Another summery single from Joan as Police Woman (Maine-born Joan Wasser), “Real life” is a touching record that, on first listen, appears nothing more than a typical ballad single. However, once the lyrics have sunk in and been understood, the song is taken to a different level.

Lyrics such as “It’s true what they say about me, that I’m out of my mind but i think that you like it, so take the chance, be reckless with me” show that in this instance, Joan is allowing the listener to delve just that little bit more into her private lives. A gorgeous single from a woman who gives as much as possible to her audience.

KATE NASH – Foundations
(Fiction)
www.myspace.com/katenashmusic

The first release from Kate Nash after having signed to Fiction, “Foundations” is an honest and full of attitude retelling of a typical nightmare boyfriend story. Having seemingly taken tips from Lilly Allen and Mike Skinner, Kate Nash boldly narrates the song with her distinctive London accent, including such lyrics as “You said I must eat so many lemons ’cause i am so bitter” and “My finger tips are holding onto the cracks in our foundation”.

Her novel, witty song writing and harmonious vocals make her not “the next..” anyone, but simply Kate Nash. She is a new type of singer-songwriter, not yet seen and experienced.

LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION – Galaxy Of The Lost
(Domino)
www.lightspeedchampion.com

The debut single from London based Lightspeed Champion, “Galaxy of the Lost”, is somewhat of a slow burner. The lyrics are cleverly written by Dev Hynes (formerly from Test Icicles) and after having played the song on repeat, it becomes more than another mellow indie track. The semi-acoustic, folk sound couldn’t be more different from Dev’s Test Icicles days, he seems much more suited for this type of catchy, chilled, almost country-esque music.

Backing vocals appears courtesy of Emmy the Great and just add to the atmospheric record. B-side to the single is “Waiting Game”, featuring Derek Pressnal from Tilly and the Wall, which is a slightly more upbeat song along the same vein as “Galaxy of the Lost”. Worth buying if just to see what a difference a decent band can make.

LITTLE DRAGON – Twice/Test
(Peacefrog)
www.myspace.com/yourlittledragon

“Test”, taken from the debut album of Gothenburg band Little Dragon, can only be described as a “happy” song. The vocals of Yukimi Nagano radiate from the speakers whilst listening to the track, and you can’t help but think of the summer.

An upbeat and lovely single which could be described as verging on nu-rave “Test” is released as a double A-side single with “Twice”. “Twice” is a much slower paced and more poignant track, a beautiful song with Yukimi’s vocals appearing so strong and able to rival any female fronted band in the spotlight currently. A gorgeous new soulful band that need to be checked out.

JARVIS – Fat Children
(Rough Trade)
www.myspace.com/jarvspace

With a melody that could have been taken from any generic indie song, “Fat Children”, the latest offering from Jarvis Cocker, on first listen seems unremarkable. However, on closer listen to the lyrics depicting the modern youth, “Fat Children” becomes more than an average song.

It describes an altercation between the song writer and a group of children, who steal his phone – cleverly written lyrics such as “maggots without the sense to become flies” let the single evolve beyond the melody.

THE CORAL – Who’s Gonna Find Me
(Deltasonic)
www.thecoral.co.uk

After having taken a two year break since the last album release, “The Invisible invasion”, The Coral are back with a new album “Roots and Echoes” and new single “Who’s gonna find me”. “Who’s gonna find me” is an easy-listening, vintage piece of song writing, with the smooth vocals from James Skelly making the single just that much better.

The song could have been taken from the Brit pop era of the nineties, with the trademark confidence of The Coral. Judging by this one single, the new album “Roots and Echoes” will no doubt be a fantastic album. The Coral are back, and are ready to reclaim their place in British music.

THE SHAKER HEIGHTS – Magna Doors
(Face Value)
www.theshakerheights.sh

The debut album from Aylesbury band, The Shaker Heights, “Magna Doors” is a mixed bag of songs, none really reflecting the band’s talent.

Album opener “All about white out” has a 1 minute 45 intro which shows off the instrumentals of The Shaker Heights, particularly worth noting is Emily Coole on keyboards. Though once the vocals kick in, the song appears no more than that of a generic indie guitar band and things don’t seem to get any better with the next track, “Waiting on me”, which is another keyboard based ballad, almost indistinguishable from the first song.

Title track “Magna Doors” increases on the previous standard, rather than being a Keane sound-a-like, it is an individual track which ebbs and flows beautifully with the vocals of Vincent Coole. “Magna Doors” is the first track on the album worth listening to all the way through.

“Write to me Buccheimer” takes the tempo down again, and, though an improvement on the first third of the album, still leaves you thinking that The Shaker Heights could have put together an album so much better than this. There are hints in “Buccheimer” and “Pigment in the Rally” that The Shaker Heights are, in fact, much more than a generic indie band and, unfortunately, their talents are just not coming across.

“We are old baby” is definitely one of the few highlights on “Magna Doors”, a track which appears to take influences from Belle and Sebastian and Arcade Fire, and mixes them together to form a track too good for this album. “Guillotine” and “Intimidation” also come in as strong tracks, worth paying attention to.

All in all, the first half of “Magna Doors” is an average guitar-ballad album, with no real inspiration or confidence appearing. >From the title track, “Magna Doors”, onwards, the album picks up pace and starts to become something really worth listening to. The Shaker Heights talent begins to shine through, but, sadly, not enough before the album comes to an end.

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES – Wait For Me
(Dance To The Radio)
www.thepigeondetectives.com

“Wait for me”, the debut album from The Pigeon Detectives starts off with single “Romantic Type”, the kind of song which has shown that this Leeds band deserve all the hype they are receiving. “Romantic type” is one of many highlights of “Wait for me”, which could propel this album into the best albums of 2007 category. “I Found Out”, another recent single, showcases more of their indie-boy talents, with “I’m not sorry” and “You better not look my way” further confirming the Pigeon Detectives’ status as one of the best new indie bands around.

“Caught in your trap” and “I can’t control myself” are the only songs that don’t have the same charisma as the other ten tracks and are the only noticeable dips in the quality of “Wait for me”.

“Don’t know how to say goodbye” and “You know I love you” are the tracks that could be described as the closest things to ballads on the album. Both still retain the charm and cheekiness that you come to expect from a Pigeon Detectives’ song. The surprise song of the album, “Stop or go”, is a slow burner. At first listen, it appears to be nothing special, at least compared to the rest of the album. However, on repeat, “Stop or Go” becomes one of the highlights.

New single, “Take her back” encompasses all that Pigeon Detectives are, the lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and typical of the laddish band, put together with a catchy, singalong chorus and melody that any indie band would kill for, and you have the best song on the album.

Overall, the songs are short, with an average song length of under three minutes, but the majority of the 35 minutes on “Wait for me” are top class songs with the potential to all become indie classics.

Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 03.08.07

The Pit delivers more guitar fodder this month courtesy of Alex Gosman and Dee Massey.

Dee Massey is into:

Record Of The Month
SCOUTING FOR GIRLS – She’s So Lovely

(Epic)
www.scoutingforgirls.co.uk

With ‘Its Not About You‘ still ringing in our ears UK indie popsters Scouting For Girls are following up their debut with the undeniably charming and wonderfully witty ‘She’s So Lovely‘. Let me cut to the chase – I think this track is great. It actually makes me smile – no mean feat at this time in the morning, let me tell you. It’s a light hearted, funny, tongue-in-cheek, sparking effort from this self effacing 3 piece.

With lines like ‘She’s pretty, she’s witty, she’s got a boyfriend though and that’s a pity’ and my personal favourite ‘She 30, turned 30 and that the age girls get really dirty’, it glitters throughout, with a incandescent piano driven chorus of ‘She’s so lovely oh she’s so lovely’ – this is the perfect antidote to this miserable summer. Scouting for Girls are crossing into the mainstream with their up-tempo and intelligent indie pop, and this track is infectious and bright. And who’s the inspiration behind this track you ask? Well…bizarrely enough it’s the very lovely host of the ‘Really Wild Show‘… Michaela Strachan..

RYAN ADAMS – Easy Tiger
(Lost Highway)
www.ryan-adams.com

It’s been almost 18 months since Ryan Adam‘s last album, 29, and for most artists that’s not really a long time, but we’re dealing with an artist who’s released 7 solo albums, 2 EPs, one double album, a last CD with his old band mates Whiskeytown along with endless unreleased material – so for him this 18 months has been quite the hiatus (although never one to slack, he has produced Willy Nelson’s album in that break too…)

Harking back to his Heartbreaker days, this album is far less rock n roll, and far more alt country than its predecessor ‘29‘. Wonderfully bluesy, downtrodden somewhat maudlin tracks like ‘Two’ and ‘The Sun Also Sets‘ sit alongside comic touches like ‘Halloween Head’. ‘String of Pearls‘ is almost bluegrass, whilst ‘Oh My God, Whatever, etc‘ is wonderfully drawn out and folksy. This album is almost a step back in sound for Adams, with ‘These Girls‘ which has been taken and reworked from Adam’s unreleased 2000 album ‘Destroyer’ – and has some moments of genius, in an album which is consistently solid, but ultimately fails to ignite the emotions – in fact he sounds almost bored in some tracks.

Having spent longer working on this album than any before it, it almost lacks the fluidity and ramshackle loops that makes Heartbreaker, Demolition and Gold and Co so addictive ( the difference maybe being that he is now reportedly sober). With this album he shows he can be a serious, and now sober, artist…but to honest, I hope the ‘old’ Ryan Adams hasn’t left us forever. The NY Post reported that he’d drawn a self deprecating cartoon of himself singing piss take of his lyrics'”Blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine, it takes two when it used to take one..” so it good to see he’s not taking himself too seriously as an ‘artiste’.

INME – I Won’t Let Go
(Graphite Records)
www.myspace.com/inmeofficial

Take all your preconceived notions about British 3 piece InMe and cast them to one side, and if you can’t do that, listen to their new single and let it do it for you. Having been on the scene for over ten years, they’ve now amicably parted company with the hot one, bass player Joe Morgan and bought on board vocalist Dave McPherson’s younger brother Greg, and turned to Opeth’s producer Jens Bogren to produce their new album. So far….so metal.

I Won’t Let Go‘ is an abrasive and raw slice of their new album, with an new dynamic sound, complete with searing riffs and aggressive vocals. Building on the foundations laid in previous album, Dave McPherson takes the opportunity to vent all his frustration in lyrics saturated in spite and vitriol – and what a difference it makes to them. InMe prove they’re more than just pretty faces with this exciting preview of what promises to be a kick ass album.

KINGS OF LEON – Fans
(Columbia)
www.kingsofleon.com

Taken from their No 1 album ‘Because of the TimesKings of Leon‘s new release is going to draw in whole host of new fans for the Tennessee sets of brothers. Radio friendly and somewhat pandering to their London fans (two name checks in one song…we’re flattered!), this is arguably the best thing this band have done, with Caleb’s sultry vocals and explosive drums combine in this semi-acoustic anthemic heart stopper of a track.

Throbbing bass lines wind their way through the track, but it’s the vocals which stick in your mind, intense and dark. Kings of Leon have managed to produce a single that’s both user friendly and unchallenging to the listener, but is still absolutely beautiful and bewitching, and would be well deserving of a No 1 slot.

MUMM-RA- These Things Move In Threes
(Columbia)
www.mumm-ra.com

Following on from their exciting debut single ‘Its Out of The Question‘, Mumm-ra finally release their first album ‘These Things Move in Threes‘. Having shone through over The Horrors and The Automatic on the NME tour, Mumm-ra have taken elements of pop, indie and dance and put in a hefty dose of rock to reveal a whimsical album that you can sing, shout and throw yourself around the dance floor to.

Opener ‘Now or Never‘ starts off acoustically before descending into rough guitars and sparkly vocals, reminiscent of Hope of The States. ‘Its Out of The Question‘ obviously stands out, as does ‘She’s Got You High‘, which was NME’s song of the week on release (but don’t hold that against the band). This unpretentious and upbeat album is one for the summer; it’s uplifting on the most miserable of days with their infectious brand of up-tempo indie pop. Even the epic seven minute ‘Down Down Down‘ can’t break the spell that this exciting debut casts. Listen to it and smile…

Alex Gosman recommends:

THE AGGROLITES – Reggae Hit L.A.
(Hellcat)
www.aggroreggae.com

Got Aggrolites? Got soul. This Los Angeles quintet’s self-titled debut was an unexpected highlight of last year; the work of a band that infused new life into the sounds of classic 60’s ska, soul and reggae. Barely a year later, the follow-up has arrived, and it’s an absolute treat. A record intended as a tribute to their hometown’s thriving reggae scene, there are no weak links on show here; with the pulsing groove of the title track, the smooth lilt of ‘Let’s Pack Our Bags‘ and the organ-laden party vibe of ‘Lucky Streak‘ almost guaranteed to both soothe you and move you. Make no mistake: these guys are the real deal.

BRAIN FAILURE/BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE – Beijing To Boston
(Household Name)
www.brainfailure.com/www.bigdandthekidstable.com

Household Name have released some pretty nifty split CDs over the years, and this one is no exception; bringing together bands from China and the USA. Brain Failure have a strong Rancid aura to them, offering up an enjoyable if derivative feast of sloppy guitars and anthemic terrace-chant choruses on songs like ‘Coming Down To Beijing‘ and ‘You’re Gonna Die‘. Meanwhile, Boston ska/punk veterans Big D And The Kids Table bring their trademark blazing brass and smart, sarcastic lyrics with no little panache on the likes of ‘Taking Back The Rhythm‘. Ska-punk may no longer be fashionable, but it’s certainly not dead.

DARKEST HOUR – Deliver Us
(Victory)
www.darkesthour.cc

Arguably one of the finest non-Scandinavian purveyors of melodic death metal, Darkest Hour created one of 2005’s essential releases with previous album ‘Undoing Ruin’. ‘Deliver Us’, like its predecessor, is a deeply personal record that will only reveal its true depth if given the time; with the band’s brutal bludgeon and John Henry’s sandpaper-raw vocals offset – as ever – by some brilliantly technical guitar work. Check the title track and ‘A Paradox With Flies‘ for a couple of potential future live favourites, and be sure to catch the band when they return to the UK in September.

MUNICIPAL WASTE – The Art Of Partying
(Earache)
www.facethewaste.com

The cover art and song titles (including ‘The Inebriator’, ‘Beer Pressure’ and ‘Septic Detonation‘) of Municipal Waste‘s second album suggest that it isn’t going to be a radical departure from their ‘Hazardous Mutation‘ debut. But who gives a shit? There are few bands who play thrash-core as fast, tight and funny as these guys do, and ‘The Art Of Partying‘ is more of the same, but better – lyrically, musically, and in terms of circle-pit fuel, too. Best enjoyed with a breakfast of Rice Krispies soaked in beer.

AGAINST ME! – New Wave
(Sire/Warners)
www.againstme.net

“All the punks still singing the same song!” howls Against Me singer Tom Gabel on ‘Up The Cuts‘. A commentary on the state of punk rock in 2007, perhaps, or maybe a condemnation of those that criticised his band’s decision to sign to a major label for this new album? If it’s the latter, then said criticism certainly hasn’t shaken AM’s confidence – ‘White People For Peace‘ and ‘Americans Abroad‘ are shot through with the ragged vocals and punk rock vigour of old, whilst elsewhere, the disco-stomp of ‘Stop’ and jerking rhythms of ‘Piss And Vinegar’ are as compelling as they are surprising. It’s not the Against Me that we used to know, Jim, but it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

TURBONEGRO – Retox
(Cooking Vinyl)
www.turbonegro.com

How, you might ask, does ‘Retox’ differ from Turbonegro‘s previous releases? The answer is: not much, but complaining that they still sound the same as ever is rather like complaining that premium-quality Black Forest gateau still tastes the same as ever. ‘Retox‘ may not scale the heights of the band’s 1998 ‘Apocalypse Dudes‘ classic, but the likes of ‘Do You Dig Destruction’, ‘Stroke The Shaft’ and ‘Hell Toupée‘ see Hank and co firing on all cylinders. Well over a decade since their inception, there’s no other band that sounds quite like Turbonegro – and they deserve kudos for that alone.

TURISAS – The Varangian Way
(Century Media)
www.turisas.com

Epic‘ is most definitely the word here. But then, you wouldn’t expect anything less from self-proclaimed ‘battle metal’ pioneers Turisas, who perform in full war paint and Norse warrior’s regalia, and boast a violinist and accordion player among their ranks. ‘The Varangian Way‘ sounds utterly huge in almost every way; a mesh of crunching old-school riffs, folk rhythms and orchestral soundscapes that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack of ‘Braveheart‘. Bizarre as it may sound, it’s hard not to get caught up in the Wagnerian drama of tracks like ‘A Portage To The Unknown’; so kindly hand me my sword and flask of mead.

Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 12.06.07

Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for years. Was LL Cool J talking about The Pit? Maybe. We know you’ve been baying for new reviews and that’s why we’ve got this bumper edition of The Pit ready for you. If you like punk, we’ve got it. Indie, got it. Rock, got that too. Whatever you’re into, Crossfire has it covered, so get your eyes locked on the reviews below and get ready for the music!

Jane Hawkes recommends:

Album Of The Month
GOOD CHARLOTTE – Good Morning Revival.
(Sony BMG)
www.goodcharlotte.com

I dunno about you, but I love surprises. Take Good Charlotte for instance. Many have rubbished them over the past few years, but having notched up 9 million albums sales they must be doing something right mustn’t they? And they are. ‘Good Morning Revival‘ is an album that will surely push the band on to reach a wider audience than 2004’s ‘Chronicles of Life and Death‘.

Full of sophisticated, radio-friendly and highly polished tunes, there is evidence that band have grown slightly. The chunky chimes of ‘Victims Of Love‘ and raucous pop bomb ‘Broken Hearts Parade‘ are well thought out and as a whole ‘Good Morning Revival‘ never loses the dancefloor appeal. It’s an undisputed joy-ride of an album which based on the single ‘Keep Your Hands Off My Girl‘ would have been easy to ridicule, but after a few listens the massive, anthemic grooves really get under your skin. So what, Good Charlotte are not ‘cool’ or ‘scene’ but everybody knows being cool is so overrated these days. If you haven’t already, go and get this album ‘cos quite frankly its ace.

THE VINCENT BLACK SHADOW – Metro
(Bodog Music)
www.myspace.com/tvbs

Vancouver based band The Vincent Black Shadow have, despite nicking their name from the bike out of “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas“, picked up quite the following stateside. Its only a matter of time then before their genre cris crossing efforts wheedle their way into our hearts and minds over here too.

New single ‘Metro’ provides the perfect foil for their enchanting ska-pop albeit very much akin to No Doubt circa 2000. Even so, there is charm to frontwoman Cassandra Ford’s chirpy voice and enough originality in their songs so’s not to lump them into the pile of aping acts looking to score commercial success. Although, they indefinitely will if they keep rolling out tunes like this and having just wrapped up a UK tour with trip hoppers Kosheen, TVBS could well be one of 2007’s one’s to watch.

THE PINK SPIDERS – Little Razorblade
(Polydor/Suretone)
www.thepinkspiders.com

This ‘quirky’ pop rock never really goes away does it? Which then begs the question, does the world really need another generic fashionista band? Hell, why not when a song sounds this good.

Little Razorblade‘ is hardly dynamic, nor is it about to win any prizes for most intelligent lyrics, but it should be celebrated for what it is; a dumb pop-punk stomp which is guaranteed to get even the most die hard rocker tapping a foot a least. Ok, so we may not remember Nashville’s The Pink Spiders in 5 years time but for the moment play this loud in your car when the sun is out and you won’t stop yourself smiling.

THE CONWAY STORY – Landing Light
(IRL/Pinnacle)
www.theconwaystory.com

Combine the depressingly earnest vocals of Coldplay with the inherent drone of Snow Patrol and all the positivity of a Trent Reznor song and you have ‘Landing Light‘ taken from The Conway Story‘s debut album. The band are obviously trying to be arty and emotionally engaging and failing dismally with their plodding guitars and echoing vocals.

This spectacularly average wail may appeal to people your mum, or your dad or those of you who drive a Lexus or Mondeo but the sheer abomination of this song is so derivative that the prospect of listening to it again about as appealing as scurvy.

FROM GRACE – Frayed End Network
(Stagefright Records)
www.myspace.com/fromgraceuk

Yes, the guitars crunch; yes vocalist Alex Augustyn has a blood curdling growl and yes the band are touted as the next big thing but oh, we have heard all of this a million times before. From Grace hail from London but to be brutally honest, there are other metalcore bands from overseas putting these boys to shame. There really isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with this record at all; the production is good, the musicianship flawless, it’s just there is just nothing to set From Grace apart from any other band of the genre.

Getting to tracks 6 and 7 you almost feel like the band ran short of the ideas required to make this album an absolute killer, but in its entirety ‘Frayed End Network‘ is the sound of a band forcefully finding their feet. Who knows, with a few years experience behind them From Grace may just be able to put their own stamp on planet metal. Time will tell my fair readers, time will tell.

Dee Massey recommends:

Record Of The Month
HELL IS FOR HEROES – Hell Is For Heroes
(Burning Heart)
www.hellisforheroes.net

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but post hardcore mainstays Hell is For Heroes are back in the ring, and their third studio proves that good things comes to those that wait. Following on from their Henricsson/Lovstrom produced ‘Transmit Disrupt‘, this third album makes good promises laid down in their recent live performances. ‘To Die For‘ opens the proceedings, gently welcoming the listener in, but you can’t really relax as you listen, you’re on edge knowing it’s all about to kick off at any moment. And kick off it most certainly does, as the tempo lifts and explodes with HIFH’s turbulent mix of anger, love, passion and crunching guitars.

‘Arcades‘, new single ‘You’ve Got Hopes‘ and ‘My Protector‘ stand out on the album, especially the latter, which has all the right ingredients to blow you away in a live set. The punching guitars and thumping bass line drive the tracks onwards with Schlosberg’s vocals clean and slick. Hands Up has an almost downcast feel to it, an almost lovesick washes over it but the tempo’s immediately picked up by the smooth, sultry ‘Into The Blood‘.

Only The Ridiculous Will Survive‘ is drama filled and exciting, with a full broad sound, unleashed with searingly aggressive hooks and slamming riffs. ‘Once and For All‘ brings our journey to an end, soft and gentle at first then picked up as we’ve come to expect. The album is a journey, from start to finish, every twist and turn has HIFH’s stamp all over it. Fans will be happy they’ve stuck to what they know best; still offering the hooks and passionate choruses that make their live shows so emotion fuelled, but the sound is maturing into something slicker, with the overall sound on this album much more polished and rounder than ‘Transmit’. The inclusion of some mellower sounding tracks is another string to their bow and the end result is an album that’s built on the foundations laid by its predecessors and explored new ideas. With a Kerrang tour kicking off shortly Hell is For Heroes seem to be really getting into their stride – and this album …well it was worth the wait.

THE VIEW – The Don
(1965)
www.theviewareonfire.com

Dundee indie pranksters The View are back with another single from their No 1 album ‘ Hats off To The Buskers‘. Having sold out their headline tour last month within 5 minutes of the tickets going on sale, and scooped ‘Best Track’ at the NME Awards for their debut ‘Wasted Little DJs‘, the new single comes as a bit of a disappointment. Whilst it is a fun slice of indie, with an upbeat and happy vibe, it never really goes anywhere, and is lacking the effervescent choruses that made ‘Same Jeans‘ and ‘Wasted Little DJs‘ so addictive.

The Don’ is relaxed, lacking the energy from earlier singles but the overall feel that of contentedness, a shimmery glow, upbeat and almost….sprightly? A completely inoffensive but not that memorable single from The View, here’s hoping the next offering has a little more clout to it.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND – Into Oblivion
(Atlantic)
www.funeralforafriend.com

When I first heard ‘Into Oblivion‘ I thought it was Lost Prophets. Wrong band. Right country. Wales emo heroes Funeral For a Friend are back for another bite of the cherry with their third studio album. The overall sound with this first single is much ‘safer’ than their previous offering, this is a drama fuelled and passionate sure fire radio hit, Davies’ emotion filled vocals soar above wailing and crashing guitars.

It’s mainstream enough to help their cause, but still maintains that edge that we’ve grown accustomed to. ‘Into Oblivion‘ was reportedly played over 14,000 times within 24 hours of being uploaded onto the band’s creep space page, which shows just how highly anticipated this single’s been.

WAZ – Home (EP)
(Self released)
www.wazmusic.com

Hailing from California, Waz has worked his way up, gigging and plugging away with Pete Yorn until Yorn signed his major deal with Columbia. Now going it alone, Waz recorded in fits and starts by Will Golden and Al Sagro ‘Home’ is a beautifully written and recorded showcase of this singer/songwriter’s talents, and whets the appetite for his full length album out later this year. Available through iTunes, ‘Hardly Enough‘ starts gently, and as the guitars flourish through, it’s both involving and enjoyable.

Slivers of Josh Witter, Damien Rice and Ryan Adams filter through, but the tracks on ‘Home’ are stand alone works, ‘She’s Gone‘ is both touching and raw. With singer/songwriters as popular as ever, this EP stands out from the others, with beautifully written lyrics, with uplifting hooks. It’s refreshing real, there’s no sugar coating, and that perhaps is why it’s such an impressive introduction. With a support slot with Jesse Malin this May, and his full length album on its way, Waz could be one to keep your eye on.

ENTER SHIKARI – Jonny Sniper
(Ambush Reality)
www.entershikari.com

What do The Chuckle Brothers, Mrs Mangle from Neighbours, Stephen Hawkins and Enter Shikari have in common? Sod all actually, apart from that they’re all from St Albans. Hertfordshire’s finest nu-rave export are back with a surprisingly radio friendly single ‘Jonny Sniper‘, taken from their top 5 debut album ‘Take to The Skies‘.

According to internet murmurings ‘Jonny Sniper‘ takes it’s inspiration from the sex education cartoon the guys were subjected to at school, but whatever the real meaning this track’s a softer, less abrasive single that stills maintains the screamo tactics coupled with riffs lifted from Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ – it’s upbeat and exciting, and even better live than on CD. Following their successful slot at Give It A Name where, despite Rou’s frazzled voice, they blew the American bands off the stage, Enter Shikari maintain their assault on the airwaves, and with insane touring schedule planned ‘Jonny Sniper‘ is just another step up for a band who’ve taken the best elements of rave and trance and meshed them nicely with hardcore punk. Lovely stuff.

Alex Gosman recommends:

Record Of The Month
DINOSAUR JR – Beyond
(P.I.A.S.)
www.dinosaurjr.com

It’s not a pretty sight when a classic band reforms purely for the sake of milking some extra cash from their legacy; but thankfully ‘Beyond’ is just about everything we could have hoped for from the reunited Dinosaur Jr, who still sound fantastically lazy after all these years.

J Mascis’ none-more-languid tones could still soothe the worst of hangovers, and they’re put to fine use on tunes like ‘Almost Ready‘ and ‘This Is All I Came To Do‘; all subtle melodies and fuzzed-up guitars, it’s as if the past fifteen-odd years never happened. So go dig out your old plaid shirt and faded jeans, because ‘Beyond’ is definitely worth it.

ATTACK! VIPERS! – The Mirror And The Destroyer
(Rat Patrol)
www.myspace.com/attackvipers

To simply label Portsmouth-based quartet Attack! Vipers! as a hardcore band would be to sell them short; because ‘The Mirror And The Destroyer‘ is probably one of the most ambitious and inventive records you’ll hear in 2007.

Granted, there’s no shortage of raw thrash n’ bludgeon on songs like ‘Our Shark‘ and ‘Group Therapy‘ but later tracks reveal a more progressive edge to their sound; with intricate instrumental passages that are reminiscent of Pelican or even Mogwai. Beautiful in its brutality (and vice versa), ‘The Mirror…‘ not only helps to restore hardcore’s much-sullied name, but takes it to places where few other bands would venture. Brilliant stuff.

BRIGHT EYES – Cassadaga
(Universal)
www.thisisbrighteyes.com

The enigma that is Conor Oberst has gone for a more alt-country direction this time around, and sounds all the better for it. ‘Cassadaga‘ is essentially a record themed around conflict – in both a personal and universal sense – and indeed, explorations of mortality (‘No One Would Riot For Less‘) and tales of marital infidelity (‘Hot Knives‘) resonate far deeper than your average singer/songwriter fare.

Oberst’s cracked voice sounds wonderfully fragile throughout, and against a background of acoustic guitars, rustic violins and subtle harmonies, it makes for an expansive yet somewhat understated record that reveals new dimensions with every listen.

LUCKY SOUL – The Great Unwanted
(Ruffa Lane)
www.luckysoul.co.uk

The UK’s highly anticipated ‘early summer’ seems to have taken a turn for the worse lately, so thank goodness for Greenwich sextet Lucky Soul and their none-more-sparkly debut.

The Great Unwanted‘ is something of a homage to the greats of 60’s soul – the likes of The Ronettes, Dusty Springfield and Phil Spector all spring to mind – but lovelorn songs like ‘Lips Are Unhappy‘ and ‘Baby I’m Broke‘ are strong enough to lift Lucky Soul high above the realms of mere parody. Just listen to singer Ali Howard’s voice on the string-laden chorus of ‘One Kiss Don’t Make A Summer‘ and you’d struggle not to smile. Come on sun, this is your cue for a re-appearance.

THE WILDHEARTS – The Wildhearts
(Round)
www.thewildhearts.com

Strange to think that a decade has passed since the Wildhearts released ‘Endless Nameless‘; a record that reflected a band on the verge of collapse from excessive drug use and in-fighting. Thankfully, the Wildhearts of 2007 are in far better health and spirits, although this self-titled effort does feature a fair few ‘EN’-style raw edges to contrast with Ginger and co’s trademark sun-kissed melodies.

And why not? The propulsive grind of opener ‘Rooting For The Bad Guy‘ the epic chorus of ‘Slaughtered Authors‘ and the sing-along genius of ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised‘ all suggest that there’s still plenty of life left in these Brit-rock veterans.

Joe Moynihan recommends:

Record Of The Month
BIFFY CLYRO – Puzzle
(14th Floor Records)
www.biffyclyro.com

At the dawn of the millennium, Scottish 3 piece, Biffy Clyro propelled their angst-fuelled rock against an unsuspecting nation with their acutely titled E.P, thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow. 7 years onwards, and after influencing countless bands, and even more listeners with 3 glorious, genre bending, thought provoking albums, Biffy ambitiously take on the mainstream with their fourth studio album, Puzzle. Something the lads have been getting closer to solving since the bands inception.

Talks of the fourth album first circulated after the blistering gig in King Tuts in 2005, in which Le Biff showcased all their new material in one unforgettable night for all those in attendance. And this was when I first listened to a song that would thrust one of my favourite bands into the limelight, Semi-Mental. For a song to remain mostly untouched since then, and still sound as energetic, and passionate as it did back then is a rare occurrence in music. But somehow, they’ve done it. And on first listen to an album I’ve been waiting for ages to hear, I can imagine I won’t grow weary of this either.

What makes this album so special, is that it grabs aspects of the albums beforehand, and moulds them together to create a Biffy sound that arguably we’ve heard before, but not like this. The eerie choirs and haunting strings heard on ‘Living Is A Problem‘ sound reminiscent of the closer on Vertigo Of Bliss, where as ‘Who’s Got A Match‘ dwell on the band’s poppy, sing along persona, demonstrating James Johnston’s ability to bring the funk. Stand out track for me has to be ‘Get Fucked Stud‘, which takes us right back to the bands golden age of Blackened Sky, with a chorus so powerful it evokes a tingly feeling that tells me that Biffy have really done it this time. Three albums exploring different pathways, and now Biffy have finally found that golden sound. The Puzzle, is complete.

EDITORS – Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors
(Kitchenware Records)
www.editorsofficial.com

On the 25th June, Brummy indie kings, Editors release their follow up to the fantastic Back Room, an album which redefined the standard for real ‘indie’ music. Not the garbage we’re currently receiving from the barrage of bands that are persistently setting up accounts with the Maccabee National. Lead single for sophomore release, ‘An End Has A Start‘, is entitled ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors‘, and the gritty British imagery doesn’t stop there either.

Tom Smith’s dark edged vocals cut in slyly with his superb thespian quality to his well-toned voice. Backed up with his companions’ melodious guitars that swell, engulfing the listeners’ ears with a parade of joyous melancholy. While this track is nothing like the Back Room‘s stunning single, ‘Munich’, the similarities to other such brooders like Interpol and Joy Division are thankfully still in force.

It seems as if the absolutely fantastic Arcade Fire has caused a fair bit of influence this time round, and it does the boys well. This is grown up indie at its very best. Tell those Maccabee kids who keep going on about some bint’s dress to jam their hype, letting Tom and his gang overshadow them with sheer musical brilliance.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND – Tales Don’t Tell Themselves
(Atlantic Records)
www.funeralforafriend.com

When Welsh rockers, Funeral For A Friend announced that their upcoming third album was the most exciting thing they have ever conceived, there were unsurprisingly a few eyebrows rising. So much so that a few people even looked a few centimetres taller. After bursting onto the scene with such a unique take on the post hardcore genre with debut, Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, many fans were disappointed in the distinct change in follow up, Hours. Third studio album, Tales Don’t Tell Themselves is their biggest step yet; almost abandoning their hardcore roots that numerous fans hope they will once again embrace.

TDTT cannot be approached with a closed mind, as it’s nothing like you would expect. Both Casually Dressed and Hours began by throwing you straight into a gritty, head throwing riff, whereas debut single and album opener, Into Oblivion starts with real atmospheric strings and echoes, before sinking into those superb guitars, welded by Darren and Kris. Matt’s voice soars high above the more gently enforced riffs, this by no means implying that they are not as powerful. No sir. This is something else.

As the album steers into live favourite, The Great Wide Open, influenced from Brad Delp and Boston are clear. This is real rock music, not watered down (although arguably the theme of the album may suggest otherwise), but untouched emotion. Funeral have shaken off that emo tag now, booted it across the floor, and into a blazing fire. This is an entire new band. And it’s fantastic.

The construction of the album shows a great deal more thought than the albums prior to it. Each song follows neatly from the other, and helps amplify the concept album as a whole. From flowing along pleasantly in tracks like ‘On A Wire‘, the album really captures the strength of a storm at sea in the more aggressive tracks such as ‘Out Of Reach‘. And by closing on a song backed by a 26-piece orchestra, this album is a statement as to how the bands have matured over the years. It’s a bold album, in which many fans will loathe. Not that it would affect the band in any way. This is the music they want to make. And this is the music I want to listen to. Belting.

Pete Craven recommends:

Record Of The Month
RESTLESS YOUTH – Light Up Ahead
(Complete Control)
www.myspace.com/therestlessyouth

This Dutch band has sure made some serious progress with “Light Up Ahead“, their second, and unfortunately it turns out – final album.

They seamlessly fuse urgent and buzzing Bad Brains styled hardcore, with a darker rocking beat, certainly The Misfits and TSOL come to mind, and even kick in with a few MC5 and Stooges inspired moments of proto-Punk.

It’s a winning combination, highly recommended.

THE STOOGES – The Weirdness
(Virgin)
www.myspace.com/iggyandthestooges

A journalist for Circus magazine, reviewing a live set by The Stooges back in 1970 was left somewhat perplexed by what he’d just witnessed… “”What does it all mean? Is it just a hype, an exercise in theatric weirdness?” Well, not-so-fast-forward 37years later and certainly one of the least expected releases in modern musical history is with us – Iggy Pop reunited with Ron ‘n Scott Ashton… The Muthafuckin Stooges.

I’ve given this disc repeated end-to-end spins and feel qualified enough to say that it’s Nothing Special. If this was a review of the latest Iggy solo outing, then that verdict would in fact not have been too negative. And trust me – I’ve intermittently been listening to his solo output since the late-Seventies.

But “The Weirdness” finds Iggy back in the studio with his Stooges brothers (plus Mike Watt on bass) for the first time since nineteenseventyfuckin’three and expectations are quite rightly – High. Way Too High. The reality is that Iggy’s vocals are at times deflated and lyrically lacking. But even more criminal is the lack of hi-energy kill-o-watt guitar from Big Ron, a big disappointment… especially as I’ve been listening a lot recently to his late-Seventies outfit Destroy All Monsters where he also turned in some sterling fret work.

Sure, The Stooges always said they were one of the slackest bands in history, but given this golden opportunity to shine one last time you’d have thought they’d wanna give it that extra shot of adrenaline. It wasn’t to be. Like I said – it’s not that bad an album, there are a few choice tracks, but overall it rarely rises above being an ordinary grind.

Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 24/04/07

The Pit is back, and it’s badder than ever. We know you’ve been waiting for this month’s installment to drop and so we are not going to disappoint you with our reviews across the spectrum of music. Indie, punk, metal and more… we’ve got it all, so get that mouse scrolling and get to reading.

Joe Moynihan recommends:

RECORD OF THE MONTH
ILiKETRAiNS – Spencer Perceval
(Beggars Banquet)
www.iLiKETRAiNS.co.uk

Only just this week, I had an interesting encounter with a train. I was travelling up to the city when all eight carriages of a hideous purple and green colour scheme came to a stand still. Turned out some mischievous scoundrel had been attacking innocents with a fire extinguisher, then, when confronted by two, pathetic excuses for a security guard, he decided to peg it down my carriage and hide somewhere. The fuzz were hot on his trails though, and decided to lock us all in the train, for our safety. I’m sitting here pissing myself when 15 minutes later; they let us carry on, after the little toerag managed to evade those vigilant security guards. He must have been unstoppable at hide and seek as a little nipper!

And it’s reasons like this why my relationship with this Leeds’ 5 piece, is already off to a blossoming start. We both like trains. Then to my pleasant surprise I notice that both tracks are over 5 minutes long. Now after shifting through numerous run of the mill indie bands, this was already a ray of hope. And I was not to be disappointed either.

iLiKETRAiNS‘ music on it’s own would be stupendous, but by breaking away from the conventional instrumental mould set by bands like Explosions In The Sky, they chose to incorporate vocals. This is a blessing. As there are still enough instrumental sections to allow the mind to wander, but to mix this up with a story being told, in this case, the assassination of British Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, particularly one from two perspectives, is something really fresh, and sounds gorgeous.

The guitar tone on Spencer Perceval sounds reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘Sad Mafioso’ section in East Hastings. This dark, haunting melody is a lot more refreshing than most bands of this genre, and a lot more interesting than most bands of other genres. Spencer Perceval is a superb choice of debut single, and has already won me over. Trains symbolise progression, so why hate on trains?

CLARK – Ted EP
(Warp Records)
www.throttleclark.com

Chris Clark, rightfully critically acclaimed classical electronica craftsman who dabbles in blissful acid soul. With 6 years of groundbreaking releases behind him, what’s next? The release of the Ted EP offers Clark’s new collection of treats he’s been prying about with in the wake of the fantastic ‘Body Riddle‘. The result is inspirational.

What comprises the Ted EP together is an unfathomably tight structure of perfectly measured out, haunting electronica beats, laced with an inconstant melody that takes you on a journey through a compressed labyrinth of ever changing emotions. This is a record that constantly points forward, and doesn’t look back. It’s phenomenal. Each track has it’s own wickedly seductive personality and is the perfect backdrop for getting loose. Chris is attempting to please no one with this record, only his most demanding critic, himself. While this is evident in the obscurely precise collection of sounds, which has clearly been revised several times over, this is by no means a case of over perfection. Clark has hit the nail on the head with this one, and has opened numerous gateways for further musical exploration. Whatever path he may chose after this one, I’m intrigued to hear the results.

TOWERS OF LONDON – I’m A Rat
(TVT Records)
www.thetowersoflondonus.com

AQA – Fucking Obviousology – A Level Exam

Question 1 – Please listen to the source material provided on the audio CD (entitled, ‘Towers of London – I’m a Rat’) and then read the statement below.

The Towers of London are not actually a band, but as the song, ‘I’m a Rat‘ pre-dominantly suggests, are in fact a metaphor of a much bigger source. The potential death of good music. Arguably, the name of the band would be more appropriate if it were, “Towers Of Shit”.”

Discuss.

I have seven A Level exams in the next two months. Unfortunately, I do not take “Fucking Obviousology”, as alas, it does not exist. But if I did, a question like this would be a gift from God himself. I could go on for pages upon pages about how disgracefully abysmal this band is. How the racket they create can be greeted with a pleasant response of “ah, I’m A Rat! What a choon” is fucking beyond me. I’m not going to go too much into things, as I’m sure as a visitor to this page, that your musical taste is sublime, and you wouldn’t dare consider listening to such tripe.

But allow me to sum up this record in one or two sentences. Fake names such as ‘The Rev’ have never, ever been acceptable, not even in the 80’s, so we have no love for you. And the quips of some cunt screeching, “I’m a rat” over the monotonous sounds of guitars being murdered is something I would never like to hear again.

Or speak of again. So let’s just leave well enough alone. Hopefully Donny Tourette and his band of misfits will do the same.

LOVE OF DIAGRAMS – Mosaic
(Matador Records)
www.loveofdiagrams.com

Melbourne’s 3-piece rock outfit, Love of Diagrams have been causing quite a stir since their inception into the live music scene in 2001. However, it has remained at nothing but a mere stir. Swinging away from their instrumental based debut, Mosaic has given the band a voice, and the ability to bring that stir up to an electronic whisk level of power.

And the album doesn’t disappoint. Opener, ‘Form and Function‘, sets the pace for the thrilling jerky festivities that are to come. The simplicity, combined with rugged passion and blissful female vocals cast minds to the era of the B-52s while also touching on recent gems such as Death From Above 1979 and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The swinging riffs are wonderful, and whilst remaining structurally confusing, it flows brilliantly. Antonia’s voice is superb on tracks like ‘Pace or the Patience’ and acts as a contrapuntal factor to the siren like guitars from Luke Horton. Overall, this is a band that should not be slept on whatsoever.

Love Of Diagrams pay homage to an awesome genre that does not get enough attention as it is, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Summer soundtrack ahoy!

Jane Hawkes recommends:

RECORD OF THE MONTH
THE EXIES – A Modern Way Of Living With The Truth
(Eleven Seven Music)
www.the-exies.com

For a band with such an amazing track record, it’s hard to see why they were dropped by their label Virgin. Their songs have featured in various PS2 and Xbox games, been used by WWE as theme tunes and the band have toured with the likes of Motley Crue and Velvet Revolver. Nevertheless, after a bit of a break, a line up change and new record label, The Exies are back.

What initially starts out as a potentially Stereophonics-esque drone, actually turns out to be a fucking huge record. It takes a few spins to really get into and although not quite on par with their awesome self titled debut album, it does prove that their old record label will be shaking their little money grabbing mitts in despair. Genius.

MADINA LAKE – From Them, Through Us, To You
(Roadrunner)
www.madinalake.com

Its hard not to like this. From Them, Through Us, To You is the debut album from Chicgo based four piece Madina Lake.Think Lostprophets, think Billy Talent, even think Lit (remember them??) with a hint of Linkin Park and you’re almost there. It’s a catchy affair and seeing that it’s produced by Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182) is it any wonder?

Huge choruses, bold breakdowns and melodic niceties saturate this solid romp. Notable tracks ‘House Of Cards‘ and ‘Pandora‘ bash home the fact this is a debut album to make a ton of other bands envious.

SHINY TOY GUNS – You Are The One
(Mercury)
www.shinytoyguns.com

What did bands do before Myspace? Shiny Toy Guns are yet another band whose popularity soared with the use of the web. With a solid fan base and extensive touring, they are out to take over the world. 80’s inspired electronica jumbled with dramatic boy/girl dual vocals, this has a hint of A-ha about it.

Maybe it is no coincidence A-ha had a song of the very same name sometime in the 80’s. Nonetheless it’s a diabolically appealing piece of retro kitsch.

HINDER – Get Stoned.
(Island)
www.hinderonline.com

Poor Austin Winkler. Not only does the Hinder vocalist have the least rock n roll name ever, his voice carries an uncanny resemblance to Nickelback crooner Chad Kroeger.

Still, all is not lost. ‘Get Stoned‘ is a clever little slice of rock with a massive anthemic chorus which teeters on the right side of overblown. The cheesy lyrics lull you into bawling along and although not inventive, it won’t bloody leave your head.

Alex Gosman recommends:

ALBUM OF THE MONTH
POISON THE WELL – Versions
(Ferret)
www.myspace.com/poisonthewell

They may have been somewhat eclipsed by a metalcore scene that they themselves helped to spawn, but if ‘Versions’ is anything to go by, then Poison The Well aren’t going down without one hell of a fight. The Floridian bruisers’ fifth album is a brilliantly discordant, aggressive and expansive beast of a record; moulding Deftones-esque atmospherics, unbridled hardcore rage and off-kilter rhythms into songs that will grab you by your frontal lobes with one hand, whilst flipping off the majority of the band’s so-called contemporaries with the other. After all, fame is one thing, but class is quite another – and Poison The Well display the latter in spades.

DARK TRANQUILLITY – Fiction
(Century Media)
www.darktranquillity.com

This veteran Swedish melodic death metal crew co-founded the hugely influential ‘Gothenburg sound’ back in the early 90s, and 2007 finds them in frighteningly fine form on their seventh release. Songs like ‘Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)’ and ‘Inside The Particle Storm’ boast enough savage guitar work and raw-throated vocals to placate death metal purists, but are also infused with eerily catchy keyboard melodies that could well appeal to fans of their fellow Scandinavians HIM. Dark Tranquility may not be breaking new ground here, but the level of quality control on ‘Fiction’ is certainly high enough to warrant them some much-deserved widespread recognition.

THE GHOST OF A THOUSAND – This Is Where The Fight Begins
(Undergroove)
www.theghostofathousand.com

“Time to start spitting blood again/Punk rock needs you again!” roars TGOAT vocalist Tom Lacey on opening track ‘Bored Of Math‘, and you can’t help but admire his conviction. This Brighton quintet are probably sick of being compared to Gallows by now, but they do share many of their best traits with Frank Carter’s mob; the dissonant rock n’ roll swagger, the huge crashing waves of metallic guitar – and most notably, the welcome sense of danger and unpredictability that infuses every track on this debut album. If this is indeed where the fight begins, then you’d be well advised to sign up for TGOAT’s cause; because right now they’re sounding unbeatable.

LUCERO – Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers
(Liberty & Lament)
www.luceromusic.com

2007 increasingly seems to be the year of Springsteen-isms, but Lucero are doing a more convincing job of capturing the spirit of The Boss than most. These four seasoned road-dogs hail from Memphis, Tennessee, and have spent the last few years cultivating a rabid following with their soulful alt-country sounds. ‘Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers’ – the band’s fifth release – could well propel them to big things, with songs like ‘Sing Me No Hymns‘ and ‘I Can Get Us Out Of Here‘ awash with addictive melodies, swirls of organ and the whiskey-soaked tones of vocalist Ben Nichols. Rugged and remorseful, yet also hopeful and heart-warming, Lucero are a band with many a story to tell…and better still, they’re visiting the UK for the first time in May. Start getting excited now.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Pop-Punk’s Not Dead
(Go-Kart)
www.gokartrecords.com

Let’s get one thing straight: ‘pop-punk’ in this context does not mean over-produced crap like Good Charlotte or Simple Plan. Instead, think along the lines of the Ramones, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, that kinda thing. With summer arriving early this year, Pop-Punk’s Not Dead‘ couldn’t have been better timed; a 30-track compilation packed with insidiously catchy 2/3-minute gems from bands all over the globe, with tracks from Teenage Bottlerocket, The Dazes and Boris The Sprinkler among the highlights. According to the compiler, Dave Parasite, this is music played by hopelessly single guys and gals for hopelessly single guys and gals. Boy, did they see me coming.

Dee Massey recommends:

RECORD OF THE MONTH
HELL IS FOR HEROES – You’ve Got Hopes
(Burning Heart)
www.hellisforheroes.net

London’s post-hardcore heroes return to the ring with their first single from their much anticipated third studio album, due out later this year. With a new home on Burning Heart the five piece’s first offering is a classic slice of Hell is For Heroes. Starting off quietly, unassumingly, Justin Schlosberg and Co surround the listener with gentle vocals, warm almost reassuring flourishes, and a slowly driven bass line that takes you right back to The Neon Handshake.

As the drums start to quicken, building slowly into a racing heartbeat, the vocals harden, the guitar push upwards, with controlled reined in energy just waiting to be unleashed until a wall of sound punches with straight between the eyes, in a Trombino-esque tsunami of energy. Then quick as its thrown you off your feet they’re reining it back in – it’s Hell is For Heroes at their best, showcasing their intensity, the raw power they’ve harnessed. ‘You’ve Got Hopes‘ is polished and tight, the sound ranges from bitingly aggressive to soothingly calm – it’s what HIFH do best. A welcome return to form from a band who really seem to have found their feet at Burning Heart.


THE HOLLOWAYS – Dancefloor

(TVT)
www.the-holloways.com

Alfie Holloway isn’t having a good night. Smoke in his face and tears down his cheeks, and he can’t even find his mates..it’s all in a night’s work for North London upstarts The Holloways. The new single from their debut album ‘ So This Is Great Britain‘ keeps up the momentum, and it’s a strong, gritty and upbeat offering, despite the seemingly unsuccessful night it relates.

A cautionary tale of love..and money lost – you end up feeling pretty sorry for The Holloway boys – their lyrics tells of having no money, fickle girls, no jobs – but always encased in their up-tempo brand of indie-pop, with strings and choppy tangled guitars. Unfortunately this single stills lacks anything really original – and The Holloways are in danger of drowning in the endless surge of indie that’s flooding the airwaves. Dancefloor is a likeable track from a band who still need to find their niche in the market.

THURSDAY – At This Velocity
(Hassle Records)
www.thursday.net

Having announced earlier this year that they were cancelling their Give It a Name dates and other tour slots, Thursday seemed to be faltering after their split from Island Records. The band announced that they were taking time out to devote their energy to new music, new labels and some new energy. Released on Hassle Records on 23rd April, ‘At This Velocity‘ is taken from their last album on Island, ‘A City By Light Divided‘, and it serves as a good reminder as to just how good these guys can be.

The title says it all – from the word go the velocity, the intensity, the pressurised explosion of sound envelopes you. Frontman Geoff Rickly belts out vocals at such at rate that you fear for his lungs, as he relentlessly screams out lyrics. Fast riffs and uncompromising guitars unwinds to calmer, melodic balanced tones, sweeping to a close. ‘At This Velocity‘ is well placed to keep Thursday in our minds, it’s a single that showcases their talents, and we can but hope they’ll return with a new deal stronger than ever.

HOLY GHOST REVIVAL – Bleeding Light
(1965 Records)
www.holyghostrevival.com

The press blurb describes Holy Ghost Revival‘s debut album as ‘Elizabethan theatre meets Pagan Glam’…and to honest, they’ve pretty much nailed it on the head. At first listen you’re confused, bemused, amused and then blown away by a band who are bizarrely appealing, dramatic and bewitching. Hailing from Seattle the alt-glam-punk (could that be a new genre?!) five piece signed to 1965 Records and holed up in the studio with Ryan Hadlock (The Strokes, Modest Mouse etc) and end result is truly enchanting. Pulling on influences as diverse as films like The Wicker Man and Phantasm, Holy Ghost Revival have a punk based sound, leaning on influences from Iggy and The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, TRex and even GNR and the inevitable grunge sound of Seattle. Theatrical and dramatic at times, Conor Kiley’s vocals are sublime, soaring with clarity and punch above ripped guitars and fuzzy bass. Holy Ghost Revival are certainly original, and for some could be just what the doctor ordered. Just enjoy it for what it is.

ENTER SHIKARI – Take To The Skies
(Ambush Reality)
www.entershikari.com

They’ve only gone and pulled it off haven’t they? Enter Shikari have shrugged off the flirtatious advances of the majors, stuck to their principles and released their seminal debut album on their own label. What’s more- it’s winging it’s way up the charts with a dizzying pace. Having kept a tight rein over artistic control the St Albans upstarts have produced the albums they wanted to release, and it’s a rib cage rattling, heart thumping, trance explosion from start to finish.

Mix hardcore punk, trance, electronica with a heft dose of attitude and the result is Enter Shikari. They’ve bought together a diverse and well rounded collection of tracks, singles ‘Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour‘ and ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner‘ stand out from the pack with their almost euphoric rage, surging upwards, winding themselves into angst ridden knots. Rou’s vocals are at time dark, at times demented -but always with that wonderful raw edge. Interspersed with raucous instrumentals, tracks seem to melt into one another, their frayed edges merging into one.

Take to The Skies‘ isn’t polished; it’s far from perfect with some ropey vocals recording at times, but therein lies the charm. They guys even reveal their sensitive side with the acoustically driven ‘Adieu’ but it seems like they’re merely biding their time before they can crank up the adrenaline again. ‘No Sssweat‘ is old school punk, with more than a nod to The Refused coming through at times. ‘Mothership‘, the download only first single, is a wrecking ball of vitriol, with Rou growling out lyrics, whilst the rest of the album meshes effervescent trance with biting, spikey guitars, a combination that makes their live sets explosive. Have them managed to cage their live sound into a studio album – well, yes – to a point. But no matter how raw and unfettered this album is, Enter are a band that come alive on stage, and take it to another level when faced with a packed-to-the-rafters venue.

With their fusion of trance and hardcore, Enter Shikari look set to dominate this summer with an ever growing list of festival slots. It’s refreshing for a debut album to actually live up to the hype and buzz proceeding it, ‘Take to The Skies’ is an in-your-face showcase of a band that are injecting new life into the British music scene.

Charli Russell recommends:

RECORD OF THE MONTH
VIVA MACHINE – My Jet Set Radio
(TPF Records)
www.myspace.com/vivamachine

Swansea newcomers, Viva Machine, surprise with their debut single. My Jet Set Radio is an exciting mixture of electro indie and likeable pop. With lyrics such as “you can make it happen” and “you can settle down to filter your imagination” showing grown up writing style from a band whose average age is no more than 20.

The vocal harmonies and jagged edge song writing combine to form what appears to be the next big thing, and because of this, it’s surprising to hear that Viva are still unsigned, the potential is definitely there.

KAISER CHIEFS – Everything Is Average
(B Unique)
www.kaiserchiefs.co.uk

The follow up to hit single “Ruby” is anything but average. Fresh from a year off, Kaiser Chiefs have come back with a vengeance. “Everything is Average” is a fast paced, easy listening, typical pop friendly song you’d expect from the Kaiser Chiefs.

Main vocals from Ricky Wilson work well against the backing oohs and ahhs from drummer Nick Hodgson. “Not much to believe in” Ricky wails – indeed, the Kaisers are definitely something you want to believe in. They are back and it’s all sounding amazing!

THE CRIBS – Men’s Needs
(Witchita)
www.thecribs.com

Another come back single, another indie hit. Guaranteed this song will win over all the hardcore Cribs fans, as well as a few new scensters, but it could also be the song that breaks The Cribs. Three albums in and they still haven’t achieved “commercial” success – “Men’s Needs” could be the song to do this.

Chart friendly and still essentially a Cribs song, brothers Jarman work well against each other with lead vocal duty flipping back and forth between Ryan and Gary. Watch out world, here come The Cribs…again!

THE SWITCHES – Lay Down the Law
(Atlantic)
www.switchesmusic.co.uk

From the start, this song hits you hard and it’s easy to tell that “Lay down the law” could be huge. Everything works together to result in the perfect summer song that you just can not get out of your head. It’s easy to imagine this being the summer festival anthem.

Matt’s growly vocals cut perfectly through the bass line and you can’t help but wonder where The Switches have been all this time! The Switches release “Lay down the Law” on Monday 16th April. You know you want to buy it.

MUMM-RA – She’s Got You High
(Sony BMG)
www.mumm-ra.com

She’s Got You High” showcases Mumm-ra lead vocalist Noo’s amazing range. A gorgeous song which starts off slow and harmonized and builds up to an exciting climax mid way through the song. “Sun’s in the sky, it makes for happy endings” is just one of the heartfelt lyrics appearing in this song, delicately written and played fantastically..

The repetitive nature of this song works well, and rather than seeming boring as you would normally expect, it makes for an instant hit song for the Bexhill-on-Sea band.

Zac Slack recommends:

THE MILK TEETH – Go Faster Stripes
(Traficante)
www.myspace.com/themilkteeth

Last year we brought The Milk Teeth to you when they released their debut single Cold Climate and since then they have simply grown into molars ready to take a bite from the bigger slice of the pie.

Their brand new single ‘Go Faster Stripes‘ is a perfect follow up to where they first started, mixing razor sharp garage rock with massive choruses. This track is rocket fuelled and ready to blast into your life as soon as you press play and the other wonderful observation is the Chris Massey directed video to go with it. The b-side to this gem “As Good As It Gets‘ has more of a Dick Dale influenced surf feel and oozes pop sleeze with slide guitars and muchos catchiness by the barrel load.

Basically this single is going to take some beating, so look out for Simon Clark’s fronted 3 piece in your local indie store today as this is certainly gonna put a smile on your face!

CAREER SUICIDE – Attempted Suicide
(Deranged)
www.careersuicide.net

Yes! Career Suicide are back with another explosive dump of toxic hardcore that should keep your veins fully charged with fresh blood within the first song. Attempted Suicide, the follow up to the Anthology series was immense but the satisfaction to finally get hold of 25 minutes of the best hardcore on offer right now was a result to say the least when this turned up at HQ.

Opening track ‘Play the Part‘ leaps into all your worries and decimates them all in 1 minute 17 seconds flat followed by the detonation of the powerful and out of control ‘Saving Face‘. From here on in this album is doused in the same quality with Jonah Falco’s schreeching guitars (who also plays drums in Fucked Up), David Brown’s outragiously fast drumming, pumping basslines from Mathew Miller and the vicious infectiousness of Martin Farkas’ amazing vocal delivery that leaves you firmly on the edge of your seat throughout and wanting to start a fucking riot. There are no duffers on this record, it’s all 100% amazing and will leave your ears on the critical list.

If you have spent your life listening to hardcore like Minor Threat and Black Flag and and are looking for something just as exciting in 2007 then look no further. Alternately, if you have just discovered hardcore and this is your first ever installment, then you are the luckiest person ever to read this as Career Suicide will be your new favourite band in one listen!

Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 22/02/07

We’ve had our fair share of rain and even some snow, but now is the time to forget all that and get ready for the furnace of noise that is The Pit. Our writers will be serving you up some prime cuts of indie, metal and punk for you to devour. So wrap up, get toasty and move onwards into the carnage:

Dee Massey recommends:

Record Of The Month
ENTER SHIKARI – Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour
(Ambush Reality)
www.entershikari.com

2006 was quite a year for St Albans locals Enter Shikari but 2007 looks like being their breakthrough year in more ways than one. Firstly – hats off to the guys, they’ve shunned the scrabble from major labels to sign them and have maintained complete artistic control and integrity, with their debut album scheduled for release on March 19th on Ambush Reality. Secondly….how many unsigned bands have sold out the Astoria? It takes a whole load of talent, confidence and some stellar tunes to do that.

Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour’ is the band’s third release, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. The single is an intoxicating mix of trance and full on rock, descending into raw guitars, almost guttural screamo vocals courtesy of frontman Rou. The electronic element cuts a swathe through a crunching hard bass line, with drums urging the proceedings on from below. This single had almost a euphoric quality; it’s uplifting and soars upwards, nicely caged by the darker vocals and spikey guitar sound.

As with their last two singles, ‘Anything Can Happen…’ is not only fresh and innovative, but it’s british! Home grown talent that needs to be nurtured and needs to be pushed onwards. Who knows where these guys will be in 12 months time, but I for one, can’t wait to hear it. Sit back, turn this up and let Enter Shikari pull you out of your Valentines blues with a track that’ll metaphorically kick your arse and leave you hooked.

THE VIEW – Hats Off To The Buskers
(1965)
www.theviewareonfire.com

With three well received singles, Dundee’s finest are back with their Owen Morris produced debut album ‘Hats off To The Buskers’. The singles ‘Superstar Tradesman’, ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Wasted Little DJs’ shine out from a collection of pretty mediocre indie ditties. Not there’s anything wrong with this ubiquitous sound, but the description by one ‘music magazine’ describing it as “the best debut since Definitely Maybe” was possibly a little overzealous. Or maybe they just had a hard on for Owen Morris?

Frontman Kyle Falconer has a wistfulness quality to his voice, which works either winding up ‘Wasted Little DJs’, bouncing through ‘Dance in to the Night’, or crooning after ‘Claudia’ or showing his humorous side with ‘Same Jeans’ – let face it, any band who can start a track with the opening line ‘I’ve had the same jeans on for four days now..’ commands respect. Guitars are universally light and upbeat, and there’s some solid writing ability on display, which can only grow with time. Fresh faced and full of youthful exuberance, things are on the up for The View, who this time last year were relatively unknown.

Hats off To The Buskers’ is a self assured debut from the band, and it’s easy to forget that the average age of these guys is just 18, and they come across well with a self assured, fresh and confident sound, helped no doubt by recording with Morris, who apparently whisked them off to a strip bar whenever things weren’t going so well in the studio. Nice work if you can get it.

BIG HAND – Black & White EP
(Self Released)
www.thebighand.co.uk

Mark it on your calenders, February sees the release of a Ltd Edition 7″ of Big Hand’s EP ‘Black & White’. Produced by one of Edinburgh’s most innovative producers, one Jonny Crawshaw, who bought on board Will Worsley at the helm for mixing, this is a second offering from the band hailed by many as one of the best unsigned acts working the UK at present. And it’s clear Big Hand have certainly been putting in the hours, with a seemingly relentless touring schedule, and support slots for Mumm-Ra, The Slackers, Reel Big Fish and The Sunshine Underground to name but a few.

Even if skanking along to ska’s not really your thing, Big Hand could be the band to sway your opinion. Tracks like ‘Big Hand’ are bound to bring a smile to your face, with their universally appeal brand of sunny, upbeat ska. ‘Oh No’ have you nodding your head…and god help us…almost dancing. Laid back carnival vibes will send some warmth your way, just the thing you need for this miserable month.

Black & White follows their successful ‘‘Day & Night’ and with such solid offerings, here’s hoping 2007 is the year Big Hand get the payback they clearly deserve and get signed. These four guys appear to be genuinely passionate about what they do, and with this feel good, uplifting reggae tinged ska, you can’t help but lose yourself in this upbeat band.

30 SECONDS TO MARS – Attack
(Virgin Records)
www.thirtysecondstomars.com

Think of Jared Leto and you’ll probably think of his gritty roles in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for A Dream, playing a messed up gun runner in Lord Of War and pummelling the crap out of Brad Pitt in Fight Club ( oh..and if you’re a girl you’ll probably remember Jordan Catalono in My So-Called Life…) – but it’s his role as frontman with his jagged edged act 30 Seconds to Mars that starting to cause waves.

Formed back in 2002, Leto has now bought onto board Shannon Leto on drums, Tom Milicevis on guitars and Matt Wachter on bass to complete a line up that’s got people talking. The band have sold over 900,000 copies of their Josh Abraham produced album ‘A Beautiful Lie’ in the US, and have now set their sights firmly on the UK market. ‘Attack’ is our first taster of what’s coming our way, and what an introduction it is. Epic guitars and a chorus that digs under your skin ” Run away..run away and I’ll attack’ roared out by Leto. The track punches out emotive cries soaring up to aggressive threats, it’s a broad sounding single, with a power-pop slant and giant choruses that can’t hurt it in the charts.

Taken at face value, ‘Attack’ is a impressive debut from the band, but realistically, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before really – it could be Gerard Way singing vocals, or any one of the kohl-eyed frontman you can’t escape from. In a commercial sense, 30 Seconds To Mars are a dream, and kudos to Leto for making the switch from actor to frontman with such panache, and they’re sure to be a runaway success ( their only two UK dates had to be upgraded to larger venues and still sold out)To be honest, with all the same same gritty indie bands out there, 30 Seconds to Mars and their LA sheen and eye candy frontman could be just what the doctor ordered.

NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB – The Bomb
(Modular People)
www.newyoungponyclub.com

New Young Pony Club has taken elements from punk, disco, electronica and added a dose of synthesisers – the result being a quirky, capricious upbeat single in ‘The Bomb’. The one thing with NYPC is that they come across as bit too cool for school, and as darlings of the NME, here’s hoping they don’t get too carried away with the hype. Mixed by Tom Elmhirst ( who’s added some magic to Hot Chip, and Amy Winehouse to name just a couple), it’s a funky little slice of indie disco, with an almost cosmic tone.

But despite the decent mix, at times singer Tahita Bulmer sounds a little bored of it all, her vocals seemingly coated in distain at times, whilst at other times she ignites the track with the passion it sometimes lacks. NYPC fall neatly into the new rave genre, but despite the funky, retro stylings that we’ve come to expect from the band, there’s not much to write home about with this single.

The Bomb’ is a decent dance track, but it might just be one for the fans. With a slot on the NME Indie Rave tour, New Young Pony Club will doubtless enjoy further success, with The Klaxons and The Sunshine Underground forging the way, but here’s hoping the next single’s got a bit more bottle to it.

Rebecca Geach recommends:

Record Of The Month
BAT FOR LASHES – Prescilla
(Echo)
www.batforlashes.co.uk

Natasha Khan’s beautiful vocals strike you as soon as they fall out of her mouth and through the speakers. If anything her hypnotising voice is worthy of praise alone. But “Prescilla” is more than just a good voice. It is an intriguing cocktail of instruments including harp, drums, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.

These instruments combined with her haunting voice and the ideas of her multi-instrumental mind have created a very colourful piece of mystical music that reminds me somewhat of the odd but very mesmerising songs that Stevie Nicks created for Fleetwood Mac. Of course there is no sound of the ’70s or ’80s in Khan’s work but I can see where she’s coming from. I look forward to hearing more of her when she tours later this month in the UK.

LAVENDER DIAMOND – The Cavalry of Light
(Rough Trade)
www.lavenderdiamond.com

I am always excited by any modern music which is described as being reminiscent of the ’70s since it is my favourite musical era. However “The Cavalry of Light” depicted as a combination of the best of the early ’70s Brit-folk boom and gorgeous arrangements only vaguely lived up to half this illustration. I could certainly hear the sounds of the ’70s in “You Broke My Heart” and “In Heaven There is No Heat” and they were genuinely good pieces of work combining lively instrumentals with captivating vocals.

You Broke My Heart” was especially ear-catching. However, the other two pieces “Please” and “Rise in the Springtime” were slow and boring with not much behind them except a piano and a gentle voice which too easily sends the listener to sleep. Overall Lavender Diamond known as Becky Stark when she’s off the stage has a long way to go before she can call herself Joan Baez, but she’s at least halfway there to potentially making some very good music just as long as she keeps the slow sensitive ballads to herself.

RICHARD SWIFT – Kisses For The Misses
(Polydor)
www.richardswift.us

With a voice like his I certainly wouldn’t mind being Richard Swift’s misses. It’s a rare jazzy harmony that makes the electric spinal cord of this jolly song. Filled with strong beats and carried by bold piano playing it reaches the level of a four minute masterpiece that so many bands fail to reach these days. There have been musicians who have sounded like Swift before, but not for a long time and there is no one who matches his buzzing style today.

With the courage to take a different angle on music it shows what an inventive creature he is and how much promise he potentially has as a musician. Curiously “Kisses For The Misses” reminds me of the early Beatles and Al Green at the same time but that could just be the way my odd mind works. Indeed Swift’s music is hard to give the credit it deserves in words. To know what I’m talking about you really need to listen to the track yourself.

THE ALTERKICKS – Album Sampler
(Polydor/B Unique)
www.myspace.com/alterkicks

The Alterkicks are revving up for the big one-the release of their first album in May this year, and what an electric build up it is. This sampler album is a four track tease of good things to come. Every song is vibrant and bursting with energy and the excitement which this recently signed five-man band must be feeling. Ever since their signing the band’s creativity has really flourished with ever more dimensions being added to their music.

Do Everything I Taught You” one of their oldest pieces now wears a brand new sparkling outfit of added tunes and inserted notes that makes the old version of this fantastic song sound bland. There’s no turning back for The Alterkicks now. It’s either up and up or crash and burn. So their album better live up to its promise. However as a long standing fan, I’ve definitely got my money on the band.

THE HOURS – Back When You Were Good
(A&M Records)
www.thehours.co.uk

As this single springs into action it has the feel of a cheesy 1950s love song, but it’s just a tease because after a couple of seconds you realise that it’s much better than that. Yes it’s a love song, but it has a sweet and easy going swing to it that is not easily found these days in heart rendering tunes. That is what makes its unique but what is really lovely about Back When You Were Good is the harmonious duet in this two man band.

Both Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe genuinely have lovely voices and the combination of the two is spot on. This is their second single with Ali in the Jungle being their first but an album is already on the way. Narcissus Road is set to be released this February and will include both Ali in the Jungle and Back When You Were Good. But whether these will be the only two gems in the collection or several many time will only tell.

THE AUTOMATIC – Raoul
(B-Unique)
www.theautomatic.co.uk

The Automatic are true trendsetters of the weird and wonderful in the music industry. ‘Raoul’ follows in the footsteps of the Automatic’s first masterpiece ‘Monster’ by being completely strange but utterly fantastic. The lyrics make no sense but they sound great and as for the instrumental I can’t fault the band. Having seen them on stage myself I know how talented they are. As a song it’s fast and upbeat with a touch of misplaced anger and madness. I could imagine dancing to it or putting it on when I need to relieve a bit of pent up tension.

Despite the bizarre lyrics the hit line stands out like a guiding beacon: “It doesn’t seem like you mean. I don’t believe you really believe it.” There are too many people whos faces I would like to say that to, but since that is not really an option maybe I’ll just send them a copy of ‘Raoul’.

Alex Gosman recommends:

Record Of The Month
COMEBACK KID – Broadcasting…
(Victory)
www.comeback-kid.com

Following up 2005’s excellent ‘Wake The Dead’ album was never going to be easy, but this band aren’t called Comeback Kid for nothing. New vocalist (and former CBK guitarist) Andrew Neufeld does a fine job of filling the now-departed Scott Wade’s shoes.

Screaming his throat raw over the course of an record that ploughs darker, more abrasive territory than the band’s previous efforts, but remains utterly compelling throughout. Powerful, passionate and refreshingly devoid of the macho posturing that so often seems endemic to hardcore, ‘Broadcasting…’ is an essential release from one of 2007’s finest ambassadors of the genre.

FRANK TURNER – Sleep Is For The Week
(Xtra Mile Recordings)
www.frank-turner.com

You might not have expected the former frontman of UK post-hardcore geniuses Million Dead to pick up an acoustic guitar and hit the road solo, but he’s already proved himself a worthy singer/songwriter type. ‘Sleep Is For The Week‘ is a collection of heartfelt yet witty anecdotes set to a folk-punk/country soundtrack.

It includes tales of relationships gone awry (‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’), morning-after reflections (‘The Real Damage’) and some sharp social commentary in ‘Once We Were Anarchists’. Proof enough that an ear for a tune, a knack for storytelling and a punk rock ethic can go a long way, Frank is probably touring near you soon. Go see him.

THE HOLD STEADY – Boys And Girls In America
(Vagrant)
www.theholdsteady.com

Brooklyn quintet The Hold Steady have probably never been fashionable in their lives, and frankly, they sound all the better for it. ‘Boys And Girls In America’ – the band’s third album – could well be the record to make them a household name; an addictive hybrid of classic hard rock and US alt-rock influences, with frontman Craig Finn’s whisky-soaked tones lending a Springsteen-esque sense of intimacy to songs like ‘Party Pit’ and ‘Hot Soft Light’. Often radio-friendly but never bland, The Hold Steady are a band with no shortage of tunes and many a story to tell. So listen up.

THE LEGACY – Solitude
(Visible Noise)
www.myspace.com/thelegacy

In an ideal world, it would be The Legacy getting substantial recognition and high-profile support slots, as opposed to a certain other Sheffield ‘hardcore’ band. Still, ‘Solitude’ stands proudly enough on it’s own two tattooed legs; featuring eight tracks of intense, breakneck-speed hardcore with brief flashes of melody and solid breakdowns, plus a fair few nods to US hardcore greats like Black Flag and Minor Threat.

Having put themselves through some truly punishing tour schedules in recent years, here’s hoping that ‘Solitude’ is where it all pays off for these guys.

PIEBALD – Accidental Gentlemen
(Side One Dummy)
www.piebald.com

Hailing from the Boston area, Piebald have long been carving themselves a nice little pop-rock niche; imagine a punkier Weezer hanging out with Ben Folds, and you’ve got a rough idea of what ‘Accidental Gentlemen’ sounds like.

There’s a wry, self-deprecating sense of humour at work on tracks like ‘A Friend Of Mine’ and the beautiful, piano-led ‘There’s Always Something Better To Do’ that helps to set Piebald apart from the crowd, as well as their apparent knack for writing great tunes as easily as you’d eat ice cream. Did I mention that they tour in a vegetable-oil burning van to help give the environment a break? That’s got to be worth nearly as much kudos as this record.

Ryan Bird recommends:

Record Of The Month
MAYLENE AND THE SONS OF DISASTER – II
(Ferret)
www.mayleneandthesonsofdisaster.us

When Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster supported Atlanta metalcore champions Norma Jean on their recent UK tour, to say they made a splash would be an understatement. Boasting a triple guitar frontline, the Alabama sextet not only produced a bowel shaking performance, but spent much of the time high fiving the front rows and shaking their mullets.

Blending Motorhead’s thrash-punk growl with a hefty portion of Lynyrd Skynyrd worship, ‘II‘ is a true classic in the making, stomping, shimmying and boozing its way through each southern rock assault. This band will change your life, and give you slap hands in the process.

CAPDOWN – Wind Up Toys
(Fierce Panda)
www.capdown.net

It’s been some six years since Capdown’s last studio full length, but the result is most definitely an album worth waiting for. Where many bands (particularly those from our side of the Atlantic) would be largely forgotten, the near sold-out attendances currently packing in at their ongoing UK tour suggests the ska-punk heroes are firmly at the front of their pack.

Produced by Hundred Reasons six-stringer Larry Hibbitt, ‘Wind Up Toys’ is undoubtedly the band’s best work to date. Blending their usual ska/reggae combo with a crunching hard rock edge, this is the most fun and diverse punk offering since Sublime breathed their last.

MACHINE HEAD – The Blackening
(Roadrunner)
www.machinehead1.com

Picture the scene. You’ve just released one of the greatest metal debuts of all time. Then it all goes Pete Tong. Rap replaces riffs, band members begin to come and go and to top it all off, you make the shittest album of 2001. Having rediscovered yourself somewhat since, what do you do now?

Why, make the best album of your career, of course. The follow-up to 2003’s career saving ‘Through The Ashes of Empires’, ‘The Blackening’ is an early contender for album of the year. Produced by legendary mix-master Colin Richardson, each of its 8 tracks represent a master class, with song lengths ranging from 5 to 12 minutes without compromising an ounce of ferocity. Fuck being alive, Machine Head are reborn.

30 SECONDS TO MARS – A Beautiful Lie
(Virgin)
www.thirtysecondstomars.com

Juliette Lewis may have proven that movie stars can indeed rock, but you only have to look at the train wreck that was Wicked Wisdom (fronted by Will Smith’s actress wife Jada) to realise that they can also suck copious amounts of balls.

Fronted by ‘Fight Club’ star Jared Leto, 30 Seconds To Mars can firmly count themselves on the right side of the line. Having shipped nearly a million albums worldwide already, ‘A Beautiful Lie’ is a true masterpiece. Diverse, mystical and utterly spell binding, you’ll be hard pressed to find a record so full of epic twists this side of the next A Perfect Circle opus.

TEXTURES – Drawing Circles
(Listenable)
www.texturesband.com

Hailing from the pothead paradise that is Holland, Textures are quite possibly the most skull-fucking experience not available in a coffee house or red light district. Following their promising 2003 debut ‘Polars’, the Tilburg mob return with yet another slice of pure polyrhythm psychosis that has served the likes of Meshuggah and Gojira so well.

Entirely self-produced, ‘Drawing Circles’ is a jaw dropping body of work that sees the sextet frothing with rabid ambition, pushing the envelope of metal to its limits and bending and moulding the genre into unexpected new shapes. Mind altering substances? Hell no. This is the real Dutch treat.

Joe Moynihan recommends:

Record Of The Month
THE SECRET SHOW – Impressionist Road Map Of The West
(Atlantic)
www.myspace.com/thesecretshow

Debut album from a collective of passionate country heads, Impressionist Road Map Of The West sees Matt Davies’ side project, The Secret Show take listeners on a guided tour of the campfire folk song. A collection of comforting country riffs intertwined with the tales of two fantastically unique and pure singers. The album does as it says, it is an example of how music should be made, a group of friends paying homage to their childhood music heroes, and having a hoot while making it.

It’s incredibly accessible. With a cool, autumn breeze feel to the sound and enough variety between fast and slow it offers an apt introduction to the band. Opening track and recent single, Lovers is that lush sort of alt. country rock song that leaves you slightly refreshed and energised, and having you humming the chorus the following day. There are no hard hitters on this album, or complex metaphorical lyrics, just a soundtrack built for escapism. All be it constructed with rather clichéd stories, it only fuels the simplistic, yet wholly vivid atmospheric bliss that the songs create.

While Rhod Viney’s expert musicianship shines, the show is stolen by the unfathomably perfect combination of Matt Davies and Lianne Francis’ auteur like vocals. Very distinguishable on their own, but together is the birth of something magical. Impressionist Road Map Of The West is a lovely little record that brings you home. The band creates songs out of the pure joy that comes with writing and playing them. Anyone who can’t appreciate that is a no good shenis.

JAMIE T – Panic Prevention
(Virgin)
www.jamie-t.com

“Fucking croissant!” One of the first of many bizarre exclamations littered throughout Jamie Treays’ debut album, Panic Prevention. From its inception, the album stands out like an unsavoury looking stain on your brand new pair of slim fit cords, ‘what have you been up to last night then soldier?!’

It’s that sort of eyebrow raising comparisons that make Jamie’s unforgiving carnivalesque lyrics so special. Cue those puzzled looks now lads, as this album is filled to the brim with a grog soaked take on everyday life. And just like those drunken philosophers you always seem to come across while out on the town, he’s hit the nail on the head. Then smashed it in with a crowbar.

It took me a while to appreciate the glitter in this turmoil. Especially the brutal honesty of this album, in which I hope Jamie appreciates my brutal honesty here, I fucking hate his voice. Proper. It grinds against my skull as if a LSD induced pasta chef thought he’d top off his dish with some grated skin fresh off my face. But many people adore his scrappy, manic voice, so each to their own! But after getting past that barrier, uncovered before me was a gem of an album. Painfully intelligent, delivered to you like a mail bomb. 12 explosive tracks lurk on this innocent looking shiny disc. They will hurt you, spit on you and kick you when you’re down, but they will dust you off after and show you the way forward. Blur say that, “Modern life is rubbish”. No. It’s fucking shit. And that’s what makes it so good.

BENJY FERREE – Leaving The Nest
(Domino Recording Co.)
www.benjyferree.com

Benjy Ferree’s debut offering with Leaving The Nest is a fine demonstration of how an LP can be filled with variety, exploration and depth, into a relatively short running time and still leave you with a simple image of the album. It’s not complex by all means, just a mild psychedelic LP complete with ranging vocals and some really pleasant choruses. Like dozing off at a campfire. I can envisage at least 4 of the songs on here appearing in skate videos for every cord sporting, half cab wearing, pole jamming and wallride skater of ’07.

Opening track, In The Countryside sets the tone for the proceeding tunes, humble and bizarre in a fresh way. Atmospheric without being haunting and strangely compelling whilst not ever being an annoyance, this is the perfect soundtrack to a perfectly chilled spring day. Dog Killers! remains to be my favourite track on the album due to it’s insanely infective chorus, which is not by any means hit and miss on this album. Overall, a splendid debut from Washington’s hat sporting, scumtache representing finest. Niiice.

Categories
The Pit

The Pit – 12/01/07