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The Pit

The Pit – 07/07/06

Dee Massey is taking these badboys with her to Bali:

RAZORLIGHT – In The Morning
(Vertigo)
www.razorlight.co.uk
www.vertigorecords.co.uk

It’s almost two years since Razorlight stormed up the charts with ‘Up All Night’ and they’re back stronger than ever with the first single off their as yet unnamed album, set for release on 17th July. Co-written by frontman Johnny Borrell and drummer Andy Burrows, who only joined the band on the eve of their last album release, its clear that that this song writing partnership has only added another arrow to their bow.

The sound has matured, Borrell’s commanding vocal combine with the upbeat guitar sound. ” In the morning..you really won’t remember a thing” kicks out, the tempo kicks in, vocals layered up, before you’re left hanging. One thing’s for sure, they’ve regained their trademark sound as a foundation, and have built on that to a stronger vibe, whilst still having that wonderful looseness to the proceedings. Razorlight took the UK by storm with their last album, and ‘In the Morning’ is proof indeed that they weren’t just a flash in the pan.

THE KOOKS – She Moves In Her Own Way
(Virgin)
www.thekooks.co.uk
www.vvmg.co.uk

Following their No5 single ‘Na├»ve‘, Brighton’s brightest export The Kooks return to the front line with the second single taken from their almost platinum album ‘ Inside In/Inside Out’ – ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’. Looking for a track for balmy summer evenings? Look no further.

No – it’s not going to win a prize for innovation ( there’s more than a passing nod to The Coral), but Luke Pritchard’s earnest vocals have a endearing quality, and lyrics are heartfelt without being saccharine sweet “You’re all about to lie down for your cause, but you don’t pull my strings ’cause I’m a better man..moving on to better things.” The Kooks seem to have escaped being herded in with all plethora of other indie bands, and this flittingly acoustic, unchallenging track, with it’s easy hooks and attractive chorus, can only help to further their popularity.

THE LITTLE EXPLORER – Chair Legs
(Reveal Records)
www.thelittleexplorer.com
www.revealrecords.com

It’s easy to become disillusioned with emo/indie at the moment, with everything starting to sound the same – and in this smog Derby four piece The Little Explorer are a very pleasant surprise indeed. ‘Chair Legs’ is set for release on Reveal Records , and is a fast paced little indie package, which seems at first to simply be a very tight instrumentals – but is actually just an excessively long intro. The tempo grows and grows, before the vocals swoop in by surprise, back up by shattering screamo tendencies. Growling guitars, an upbeat tempo atmosphere that twists and turns with new resonance – this is short and sweet and leaves you hungry for more. Sit back, turn the volume up and smile – bands like ‘The Little Explorer’ show there’s life in the old emo dog yet.

THE HOLLOWAYS – Two Left Feet
(TVT Records)
www.theholloways.tk
www.tvtrecords.com

The Holloways have been bubbling under in North London for the last few years, and now their deal with TVT Records they’re striking out with new single ‘Two Left Feet’, following up from their self released infectious exemplar singles ‘ Happiness and Penniless’ and ‘Generator’. At first I had to check I had the right CD in – the sounds initially nothing like what we’ve grown to expect from The Holloways, who’ve blasted their way through killer sets across the UK with their tight, punk driven bouncing tracks.

Alfie Jackson and Co have produced what is, essentially an endearing love song. Fiddles, careful ongoing guitars and harmonica are thrown into the mix, the result being a gentler, softer but upbeat track, which might be a bit country for some, showcases their diversity. “I need some joy in my life, some joy in my life” Jackson sighs, wavering on being really endearing..or a little soppy? ‘Two Left Feet’ is an unchallenging little track, upbeat and resounding with hope, almost Dylan-esque – but here’s hoping their next track has a bit more bite to it.

DIRTY PRETTY THINGS – Deadwood
(Vertigo)
www.dirtyprettythingsband.com
www.vertigorecords.co.uk

If you liked ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’ then Dirty Pretty Thing‘s follow up, taken from their album ‘Waterloo to Anywhere’ is going to make you very happy indeed. It’s a blinder of a track, literally – it races in, lets loose around you, spinning around you faster and faster out of control, then quick as a flash it’s gone, leave you dazed and thrilled. Whilst purists would argue that it’s not as good as The Libertines, it does have the same wonderfully arrogant swagger, the same cockiness to Barat’s vocals.

Released at a time when Babyshambles seem to be imploding, and barely a week goes by without some Doherty drug ‘ scandal’, Dirty Pretty Things couldn’t have timed it better. No matter what side of the fence you stood on, it’s clear who is the victor in this war. The sound is tight, broad and soars around you, twisting and ducking higher and higher; it’s a spot on follow up to ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’ – Dirty Pretty Things live up to their name – this is gritty and raw, and beautiful.

Alex Gosman has been sticking up petrol stations to the delights of:

AFI – Decemberunderground
(Interscope/Polydor)
http://www.afireinside.net

Those who resented AFI’s increasing love of experimentation on previous album ‘Sing The Sorrow’ may as well stop reading now, because ‘Decemberunderground’ sees the Californian quartet venture even further from their straightforward hardcore punk past. Recent single ‘Miss Murder‘ is one of the more direct tracks on an album that owes as much to 80’s metal and electronica as it does to the likes of Black Flag; with songs like ‘Love Like Winter’ and ‘37mm‘ featuring stadium-sized choruses, along with looped beats and samples. It sounds odd at first, but ‘Decemberunderground‘ will soon grow on you, given the chance.

THE KING BLUES – Under The Fog
(Household Name)
www.kingblues.com

This, my friends, is London street music at its finest; a young quartet from Hackney armed with acoustic guitars, a ukulele and a renegade attitude. The King Blues play honest and intelligent folk-punk, with elements of dub, ska and hip-hop thrown in for good measure, and in ‘Under The Fog’, they’ve produced an absolute stunner of a debut album. With socially conscious lyrics, sweet harmonies and hooks that will lodge themselves firmly in your brain, this is the album of the summer, and sure to be amongst the best of 2006. Essential.

THERAPY? – One Cure Fits All
(Spitfire)
www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk

This is Andy Cairns and co’s 11th (!) studio album, and whilst it’s a more polished affair than previous record ‘Never Apologise, Never Explain’, the songs are still typically twisted affairs. ‘Sprung‘ is built around a brilliantly spiky riff, ‘Dopamine, Seratonin, Adrenaline’ is a darkly melodic ballad, whilst ‘Our White Noise’ is a suitably cynical ode to human indifference towards others’ misfortune. Therapy? have never been content to merely recycle the sounds of their previous records, and ‘One Cure Fits All’ continues that tradition in fine style.

TOWERS OF LONDON – Blood Sweat & Towers
(TVT)
www.thetowersoflondon.com

My award for Guilty Pleasure Of 2006 surely has to go to this bunch of shameless sleaze-punk urchins. Sounding like the bastard offspring of Sham 69 and Motley Crue, Towers Of London are about as intelligent and credible as Blink 182 (not to mention twice as profane), but fuck me sideways if they haven’t gone and created the perfect soundtrack to a night of booze n’ vomit-drenched mayhem. Songs like ‘Kill The Pop Scene’ and ‘On A Noose’ are bursting with sloppy guitars and terrace-chant choruses, so pop your brain back into its spongebag for a while and enjoy.

ZAO – The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here
(Ferret)
www.zaoonline.com

One can only imagine what inspired Zao to make such an enthrallingly dark, bleak and furious record as ‘The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here’. Like their compatriots the Dillinger Escape Plan, Zao have little regard for conventional song structures, throwing off-kilter rhythms, powerhouse drumming, and amazingly intricate guitar work into the mixing pot – all with a suitably raw production courtesy of the infamous Steve Albini. This is a record that constantly treads the line between innovative extreme music and pure sonic warfare, and does so brilliantly.

Jane Hawkes has been lighting up broadway with this in her ears:

SONIC YOUTH – Rather Ripped
(Geffen)
www.sonicyouth.com

With a career that spans 25 years, Sonic Youth have influenced some of the finest bands around in recent times. With bands like Nirvana, Babes In Toyland, dEUS, Placebo and Bloc Party all citing Sonic Youth as inspiration, it’s clear just what a formidable force Sonic Youth were and still continue to be. ‘Rather Ripped’ is amazingly the bands 20th album and as usual, is far from ordinary. Every song feels like a soundtrack to the summer, dreamily flowing together with effortless precision. Add to that the ethereal quality of Kim Gordon’s voice and what spills out of your speakers is nothing short of exquisite.
Sonic Youth have managed to meld the extensive yet laid back feel of previous albums with a slightly more unembellished, naked sound which, if you are already a fan of SY, will once again leave you captivated and possibly frothing at the mouth. Kicking off the album with the incredibly uplifting ‘Reena‘ and winding up with bonus tracks ‘Helen Lundeberg’ and ‘Eyeliner‘ Sonic Youth return full of confidence and conviction to deliver an album that’s as creative and inspired as ever.

PEARL JAM – Pearl Jam
(Sony/BMG)
www.pearljam.com

Considering the greatness of Pearl Jam, it would be easy to just fall to the floor and give a Wayne’s World ‘We’re not worthy’ style bow instead of a review. But, to be fair their past few studio albums, have not been the best. This long awaited eighth release however proves that Pearl Jam have found their creative juices once again and continue to move with the times. Covering a broad spectrum of sounds and emotions from the angry, political first single ‘World Wide Suicide’ to the anguish and aching melody wrapped around Eddie Vedders naked vocal on ‘Come Back’, it’s the ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ of the album. The more you listen, the more it invites you in to an overwhelming mix of introspective song writing and consistently well-balanced musicianship. Truly outstanding.

BULLETS AND OCTANE – In the Mouth Of The Young
(BMG)
www.bullets-and-octane.com

Rapidly snowballing into a band with a huge following, Southern Californian based Bullets & Octane have been working hard out on the road making a name for themselves with bands like Flogging Molly, Avenged Sevenfold and most recently a set at this years Download festival. The end of May saw them release their second album ‘In the Mouth Of the Young’ which was produced by Page Hamilton, front man with Helmet. Running through these 12 tracks is a punk-inspired backbone and when teamed with jagged riffs and pummelling drums, B&O appear somewhat less polished than many of the bands around today. They are scuzzy yet ballsy and with Gene Louis’ impeccable vocals carried out with just the right intensity, it’s a winning formula. Notable tracks include ‘Bathroom Floor’ which is as close to a ballad as it gets, and opener ‘Going Blind’ which effortlessly rises above many of the other tracks on the album. You can hear hints of Billy Idol, Therapy?, The Almighty and even Motorhead in the mix. It’s fast, anthemic and rocks like a motherfucker. Go get.

LIVE – Songs from Black Mountain
(BMG)
www.friendsoflive.com

Since releasing their phenomenal second album ‘Throwing Copper’ in 1994, Pennsylvanian quartet Live have always seemed to be playing catch up. Because, truth be told, from that point on, nothing they have released has ever managed to come remotely close to their 12 million selling masterpiece.

Fast forward twelve years and unfortunately it’s the same old story with current offering ‘Songs from Black Mountain‘. Never ones for your average happy-go-lucky tracks, Live stay true to form and deliver 12 utterly depressing songs. Even when the lyrics Ed Kowalczyk is wailing are upbeat, every tune seems to have a knack of stripping away any trace of the good mood you were in before you gave this a spin. Now having aged a few years, Live are calling the release of this album ‘A new chapter of their career’, but honestly, it just sounds like they have side stepped to more mature musical pastures. It’s full of promising intro’s that don’t really materialise into anything significant and as a whole is simply lacklustre. Think Nickelback, think Staind and you get the gist of this album. Do yourself a favour a give this one to your dad.

THE ANSWER – Rise
(Albert)
www.albertmusic.co.uk

If you haven’t had the pleasure of discovering Northern Ireland’s The Answer yet, then there is obviously something wrong with you. As if having recently been voted Best New Band by Classic Rock after only their second single wasn’t enough, the band have had live supporting slots with legends Deep Purple, Whitesnake and The Who nonetheless. On hearing the album it’s clear they were perfect choices to open for those acts.

Within the 11 songs featured here in this cracking debut album are several that evoke feelings of what it must have been like listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Free in the 70’s.

Sounding ‘retro’ without sounding like rip off merchants is a tricky little business but it’s safe to say The Answer have nailed it. It’s out and out plain and simple rock n roll with guitar slides and widdling all the way. With every track as glorious as the last it’s not often in this reviewing lark you get to say that. ‘Rise’ is a somewhat incredible introduction to an extraordinary band.

James Sherry has been making milk spurt out of his nose to the sounds of:

MISSION OF BURMA – The Obliterati
(Matador)
www.missionofburma.com

Let’s face it, the world is not short on old punk bands reforming for one last desperate attempt to re-live their youths or to milk those last few pounds. The ones that count, however, are the bands that can reform and continue to mean something now rather than then. Mission Of Burma are one such band. This is no useless exercise in nostalgia and this collection of new songs is all the proof you’ll need. Back in the early eighties, these Boston based art-punks stretched the limitations of punk rock and exposed the scene to new sounds and new ideas, constantly on a quest to push things forward (read their chapter in the incredible history of the American music underground ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ for the full story) and ‘The Obliterati’ features fourteen brand new reasons why you need this band in your life. Each song bristles with fresh ideas, spine tingling melodies and crushing noise. Like the book said, this band could be your life.

SUNS OF THE TUNDRA – Tunguska
(Shiny Mack)
www.sunsofthetundra.co.uk

Suns Of The Tundra evolved from the early-90s cult UK rock band Peach, famous for featuring Tool bassist Justin Chancellor. Combined with members of Mint 400 and Cortizone, Suns Of The Tundra enter a new era of progressive rock with their second full length album ‘Tunguska’ and it’s huge! A sprawling mass of sonic noise and grooves, these guys successfully take rock to the next level and every second of this CD is epic in it’s scope and sound. If you were lazy you could call them the UK equivalent of Tool, but we’re not and we won’t. Just be safe in the knowledge that Suns Of The Tundra will grow to Radiohead proportions or sink into obscurity because they’re just too damn clever for the lowest common denominator that you need to appeal too for success in the mainstream. Either way, this is a fucking great record.

BOXED IN – 2001-2005
(Flat Earth)
www.flatearth.free-online.co.uk

While vinyl will always rule within the world of underground DIY hardcore and punk, these CD discography compilations are perfect for those who want to hear all of the music in one go or missed out on the original limited runs of singles. Boxed In specialise in bursts of high-speed hardcore noise that will knock you flat off your feet. Taking their cues from classic eighties hardcore acts like Anti Cimex and Poison Idea and the UK punk of Discharge, between 2001 and 2005 (as the title cleverly suggests), Boxed In tore up and down the country screaming their throats raw in squats and the back rooms of pubs as people bounced off the walls. Need a wake up call? This is it.

WINNEBAGO DEAL – Flight Of The Raven
(Fierce Panda)
www.winnebagodeal.com

I know it’s been said a million times before but when talking about Winnebago Deal it’s still impossible not to exclaim in a loud and excitable voice ‘how the fuck do two people alone make such a screeching rock n’roll racket?’. Raised on a diet of Black Flag, Black Sabbath (all the blacks) and a endless parade of obnoxious rock n’roll, the two Bens (that’s Ben Perrier vocals, guitar and Ben Thomas on drums) return here with the first release on Fierce Panda records and scorch through fifteen tracks of high voltage rock n’roll that will melt your skin off. Produced by Seattle producer extraordinaire and the king of grunge Jack Endino, the is the Deal at their best, finally delivering the record they’ve been threatening to make for years. Plus, it ends with a suitably belligerent version of Black Flag’s ‘Revenge’. Perfect.

BLACK SABBATH – Black Sabbath
(Vertigo)
www.black-sabbath.com

Are Black Sabbath the greatest and first heavy metal band of all time? Yes they fucking are. It’s not often you can pinpoint the exact moment when a whole genre of music starts but it’s fair to say that when Sabbath’s first ground-breaking album was unleashed from the beast in 1970, Iommi’s demonic riffs kick started metal. The real beauty of Sabbath is despite how old these records are, they still sound absolutely amazing. This, their first album, is as good a place to start as any, kicking off with their signature tune that sets the scene with a gigantic doom-laden riff that killed the peace and love hippy era dead with one burst of distortion, housed in a record sleeve that is genuinely creepy. In short, if you don’t have this and the rest of Sabbath’s Ozzy era albums then you’re not into metal my friend.

Ryan Bird is trying to ignore Satan’s jibes by listening to:

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD – The New Black
(Century Media)
www.strappingyounglad.com

Their fifth and reportedly last ever album, Canadian maniacal mob Strapping Young Lad have produced what may also be their best in the form of forthcoming masterpiece ‘The New Black’. Packed full of grinding riffs, rampant drum bursts, hilariously insane lyrics and even a sprinkling of jazz flute; this is already without doubt an easy contender for metal album of the year. Jaw-dropping and utterly fucked up chaos.

SHADOWS FALL – Fallout From The War
(Century Media)
www.shadowsfall.com

While 2004’s ‘The War Within’ received mixed reviews from metal’s mainstream music press, it would still go on to become one of Century Media’s biggest selling albums – smashing its way into the US Top 20 in the process. Although little more than a contractual obligation before beginning work on their Roadrunner/Atlantic debut, ‘Fallout From The War’ continues the band’s trademark retro metal sound, smashing together a collection of covers, rarities and typically awesome fresh cuts. A fitting appetiser of things to come.

UNDEROATH – Define The Great Line
(Virgin / Tooth and Nail)
www.underoath777.com

Having drafted in Killswitch Engage guitarist and respected genre producer Adam D to give both vocals and guitars a kick up the backside of the most epic proportions, the result of this follow-up to 2004’s mega-selling ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ is a career defining album that oozes quality and drips emotion from every pore. From the all-out assault of ‘In Regards To Myself’ to the piano-led ‘To Whom It May Concern’, the result is never anyting less than spectacular.

EXIT TEN – This World They’ll Drown
(Deepburn)
www.exit-ten.co.uk

Hailing from the emo sweep-ridden metropolis of Reading, Exit Ten are fast becoming one of the UK’s hottest properties. Following on from high profile appearances at the Download Festival and support slots with everyone from Sikth to Avenged Sevenfold – this Andy Sneap produced EP offers little in originality but bucket loads in potential, adding a melodic twist to otherwise raging metalcore that hints at bigger things to come.

DOWN – NOLA
(Atlantic)
www.down-nola.com

What do you get when you combine members of Pantera, Eyehategod, Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity with a shitload of whisky and more than their fair share of marijuana? The answer is possibly THE definitive metal album of the last decade, rammed full of stunning grooves, mellowed-out southern American harmonies and a vocal performance little short of incredible courtesy of one Philip H. Anselmo. If you were unlucky or just plain stupid enough to miss their recent whirlwind tour of the UK, consider this album your ‘get out of jail free’ card.

Zac Slack has been cursing technology alongside the delightful noise of:

RYE COALITION – Curses
(Gern Balndsten Records)
www.ryecoalition.com

Rye Coalition have been around since 1994 or thereabouts and over the years have released cool records with an edge that would turn the ears of people that were into hardcore and alternative rock. The last record they released that I thought was great was “On Top“, where the band had a distinctly heavy sound that featured Steve Albini at the recording session.

I guess they could have gone one way or another with this new release titled Curses, but they decided to go down the full-on rock route and even pulled in a favour from one Dave Grohl who produced this new record and also added some backing vocals, percussion and guitars. The result is an album that seems to lack punchy songs and if you have to compare it with another similar record it would have to be Drunk Horse – In Tongues but Rye Coalition have nothing on this record in Curses. So I guess if you like your rock crunchy and a bit messy you should check this out but it’s certainly not a record that will blow your ears off, even if Dave Grohls name is splashed all over it.

RICH – Neon One
(Marine Parade)
www.rich.fm

Those of you who skated in the early 90’s with Zac, Richie Hopson, Gorm etc may well have bumped into our friend Richard File skating curbs and ledges schralping in Sutton and Croydon with Curtis McCann and Paul Shier. Since then, he has shared duties with James Lavelle on the U.N.K.L.E project, released a bunch of stuff on Mo’Wax Records and has also co-written the film score to cult film Sexy Beast.

On July 3rd, File’s brand new EP is released to the general public that witnesses a different side of his musical talents than heard before. “Neon One” is 3 tracks of subtle guitar work with an indie feel akin to the likes of Ambulance Ltd, Radiohead and The Verve’s psychedelic offerings, leaving you with subtlety and deepness only found in the higher regions of the Dead Meadow.

The fact that skaters continue to push music all over the world, assures me that music from this EP will end up on a skate video at some point, as lead track Big Mistake would fit like a pork pie in the hands of Shakespeare. Support other skaters and check this record out.