It’s June and we’re moving into the best few months of the year. But without undeniable brilliance of The Pit, all the sun, ice creams and bikini clad units wouldn’t mean anything. So before you go and grab yourself some of the sun factor 50, get your lugholes around the new recommendations, including those of a new addition to the Pit’s team. You love it you dirty bastards.
Dee Massey is entertaining work clients with:
ANGELS AND AIRWAVES – We Don’t Need To Whisper
Take members from four of the most popular bands, add into the mix one of the most successful producers of our generation, Tom Lord Alge – and in theory, you should have the mother of all records on your hands. Does Tom DeLonge’s project live up to the hype? Well…..yes and no. If you’re expecting Blink 182 Version 2 then you’ll be in for a disappointment. Gone are the immature lyrics, gone are the easy on the ear hooks and singalong bouncing choruses – Angels & Airwaves is a very different beast indeed.
DeLonge’s vocals are still wonderfully familiar, but take on a serious tone, tracks are experimental – but whilst it’s a conceptual album it still sits easily in the mainstream. Every track has an epic quality, it’s a theatrical momentous piece of recording, a bright and variable album, tracks like ‘The Adventure’ and ‘Good Day’ are over brimming with emotion, every track stands its ground whilst almost verging on self-indulgence. Whilst built on punk rock foundations, Angels & Airwaves have proved themselves to be much more than just another side project – they could be the real deal.
HOPE OF THE STATES – Sing It Out
Hope of the States spent most of 2005 holed up in a studio, with only 6 live dates to keep their fans satisfied. With their limited release EP Blood Meridian being lapped up, the Chichester 6 piece return to the airwaves with ‘Sing It Out’, the first single from their eagerly awaited second album ‘Left‘. ‘Sing It Out‘ grabs your attention from the start, Sam Herlihy’s dark vocals almost veer towards menacing at first, but with the chorus comes a wave of reassurance ‘ you are not alone, you are not the only one, you were lost and now you’re found, sing it out.’ There’s no clever effects, this is stripped down and simple – and it works. Hope of the States have come back stronger than ever, this wonderful compact, tight track is everything you can hope for – they’ve overcome tragedy and if this taster is anything to go by – their new album is going be an absolute blinder.
LOUIE – Dead Man
Louie blasted onto the scene last year with the irrepressible single “Trees“, and step up to the fold again with another scorcher of a track “Dead Man“. If Louie was a person, he’d strutting round the room threatening to take on everyone in the place who so much as looked at him weirdly, this track steps up, grabs you by the collar and gives you a good shake. Jordan Smith and Gaz Tomlinson’s vocal chemistry produces a wonderfully high octane flash in the pan, combined with snarling guitars and punk driven chords – it’s a short and sweet, but not hugely memorable. This track’s like a Chinese takeaway, you’re only satisfied for half an hour and then you want more. Enough of the starter size portions – Louie need to provide the main course now.
STARS OF TRACK AND FIELD – Centuries Before Love And War
The downsized Stars of Track and Field follow up their well received EP ‘You Came Here for the Sunset Last Year‘ with a full length album, brimmed full of ambient, piano driven tracks that seem to wheedle their way into your head for days on end. Entrancing tunes, wonderful effects from the previously studio based 3 piece, and an air of innocence and sincerity to the proceedings have produced an album that combines the best of guitars, twinkling percussion effects and lyrics that embrace the listener. If you’re looking for something to melt into then look no further- this is one for dusky summer evenings. Kevin Calaba’s vocals are persuasive, seductive but with an edge – this multi-faceted record is a must for anyone’s record collection.
THOUSAND NATURAL SHOCKS – Under The Sun/Attack
(Play it Again 7)
Exeter has churned out some of the UK’s most popular acts in recent years, Thom Yorke, Muse and er….Coldplay to name a few. Hot on their heels come Thousand Natural Shocks, a four piece who live and breathe music – and over the years have even pieced together their own studio, a focal point for many bands in this thriving West Country scene. The debut single ‘Under The Sun‘ is a easy mix of post hardcore, with new wave indie sensibilities strewn into the mix. Emotive lyrics combine with darker echoes, to provide a sound that instantly accessible without being same same. The tracks tight and compact, mirroring the fact these guys have been playing together since they were kids – they bounce and spar off each other with relentless energy. If they can recreate their studio sound live, they’ll be a very exciting prospect indeed… watch this space.
SCOTT MATTHEWS – Passing Stranger
If it is sunny outside or even if it’s raining, this debut album from Scott Matthews should fit the bill regardless. Deciding to do it the independent route, Matthews has put together a full album that will simply melt in your mouth from start to finish and why? Because talent this good comes once in a blue moon and if you miss it, you end up being one of those people that discovers classic records in later years and misses out on the growth of something completely special.
You see, this Birmingham based singer/songwriter has taken simplicity and turned it on its head allowing his music to bury his desires deeply into your own. There are influences in here alright, like any new record and they come from greats such as Jeff Buckley for starters, but if you add the dark side of Radiohead, the light side of Lewis Taylor, and the laid back and deeply meaningful rays of Jose Gonzales you are barking at the right road sign. His voice is something you just want more of but the musicianship across all 17 tracks on Passing Stranger is something else, it just all fits.
Buckley left the world a massive gap to fill and although this man is influenced, he has taken beautifully crafted songwriting to another level that could easily sit in absolutely anyone’s record collection who loves music, period. This track Elusive you can stream on this page is just one offering, one side of the coin, so do not judge this record on one track, as the entire record has so many doors. I bet you my bottom dollar that in the future you will hear this album everywhere and will have to submit to buying it at some stage if this review is not convincing enough.
New girl Jane Hawkes is slaying anyone that stands in her way to the soundtrack of:
THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Stadium Arcadium
It’s hard not to love the Chilis. Widely hailed as pioneers of the genre, they triumphantly return after a four year absence with a absolute corker in Stadium Arcadium. Rhythmically infectious, it’s rammed with epic grooves tinged with ska and funk just as you’d expect. And in a world where hoards of bands all scream the same, the RHCP’s remain a strong and constant force not to be fucked with. Although double albums generally have the tendency to be self-indulgent, the Chilis have once again found that higher plane which sets them apart from everyone else by remaining true to their roots. With funky, inspired and punchy tunes like ‘Hump de Bump’ and the insanely raw but captivating ‘Readymade‘ both albums are of epic proportions. What’s more, we will all be singing along to their choruses once again this summer, because these songs will not leave your head. Even the more sombre tracks come with enough passion to make them fly. The Red Hot Chili Peppers vie for world domination is not over just yet…
FEEDER – The Singles
Love ’em or hate ’em, Feeder have had some great singles. So, they may not be cool or particularly ‘scene’ but I bet you have all at least bobbed your head to ‘Buck Rogers’ and laughed at that emo kid in the video for ‘Just A Day’ whilst tapping your foot. Feeder have a staunch following of hardcore fans but to us less obsessive followers, it’s easy to forget about Feeder. Just when you have, they pop up again in a video game or on the radio and then you remember, they’re actually not that bad. Catchy choruses have always been Feeders greatest asset and here are 20 songs full of packed with them. Included is even the particularly broody ‘Suffocate‘ from as far back as the Polythene album. Fans will probably own all of these tracks already but may buy it for the bonus DVD which has loads of cool extras on it. Ok, so you may want to hide this album from your mates but you know behind closed doors, you will be dancing round the room with your limbs flailing all over the shop. Pop-rock at its happy, shiny best.
SATYRICON – Now Diabolical
It’s so easy to get bored with black metal these days. What with its overflowing pot of lustrous Cradle wannabes, you sometimes wonder where the hell, the grittiness and out and out fucking evilness of it all went. Until now. Enter Norwegen two piece Satyricon. They’ve come to beat you round the ears with their new album Now, Diabolical which is actually a bit of a grower.
It’s the first release since signing to Roadrunner Records but having been around for nigh on 13 years, this could well be their most successful album since 1996’s Nemesis Divina and the one that possibly catapults them more into the mainstream. Eight tracks of your typical black metal fare but with a brain throttling doominess, that will leave you quaking in your New Rocks.
The opening two tracks Now, Diobolical and K.I.N.G are the stars of the album and encompass the full blooded evilness that Satyricon have pulled off. Swaddled in gloom and teamed with such phenomenal drums, you will not want to switch it off. After a few spins you will get past the low budget production which granted most black metal albums have, and begin to appreciate an album worth shelling out a few quid for. Even if you are not a fan of black metal, give it a go and you just might be surprised. Obviously if you play this while you gran is round, you’re gonna scare the bejesus out of her and she may well pee her pants in fear. But, on your own head be it.
Col Rothwell is hiding in the trenches behind sandbags with these tunes for company:
TRIVIUM – Ascendancy (Reissue)
It’s safe to say that if you haven’t heard of Trivium by now you must have spent the last couple of years living under a rock. Since inking a deal with Roadrunner the Florida based four-piece have managed to push their way to the front of the metal scene at the pace of a speeding juggernaut, with a massive main stage appearance at last years Download fest, many upgraded sell-out tours and an upcoming support slot to the legendary Iron Maiden already to their credit. ‘Ascendancy’ was the bands highly acclaimed 2nd full length release (1st on Roadrunner) from last year which has already been deemed worthy of the re-release treatment once before. What you’ll find here is simply one of the best metal records of last year complete with a bonus DVD and 4 extra tracks tacked on to the original version CD. One of which being a highly ambitious but excellent cover of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ Whilst being tagged as the next Metallica may just be a little over the top, it’s safe to say this band on their current form have a promising career ahead of them and if you don’t own either of the previous discs, I highly recommend you add this one to your collection.
SOIL- True Self
Chicago rockers Soil have endured tough times in the past eighteen months or so, having lost previous front man Ryan McCombs who upped and left citing family reasons only to turn up months later as the new vocalist for Drowning Pool, many could be forgiven for thinking Soil would struggle to regain former glories. It’s safe to say that any band with a new vocalist is always going to come under scrutiny, but Soil need not worry as going off this album, the transition has not only gone smoothly but is also actually a positive change. New guy A.J Cavalier manages to add a little something to Soil’s already trademark edgy sound on tracks such as opener and undoubted crowd pleaser ‘Fight for Life’ whilst also bringing in a more melodic and cleaner side to his vocals, giving the album a fresher and more varied feel than previous releases. One thing that you really sense here is the new level of harmony within the group and this can only be a good thing. If Soil can continue on this new path a bright future is most surely in store.
SCARVE – Irradiant
If you think of the French what do you normally come up with? Berets? Onions?, Thierry Henry? Not metal right? Well Scarve should change all that. Most people will probably recognise drummer and founding member Dirk Verbeuren who has recently joined Soilwork as a full time member for starters, and his work here shows exactly why he’d be in demand. 2004’s ‘Irradiant‘ goes a long way to showing that you don’t have to head for Scandinavia to find metal that’ll knock your teeth into the back of your throat. Drawing on influences such as Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad to name but two, Scarve have everything any self respecting metal fan needs. Gut wrenching screams? Check. Crunching riffs that bore into your brain? Check. Double kick drumming like a pneumatic drill? Check. Overall Irradiant is a brutally crushing album that casually slipped under the radar over here and definitely needs checking out.
MINISTRY – Rio Grande Blood
(13th Planet Records)
Having been clean from heroin for the last four years many could question whether Al Jourgensen still has the same vision and creativity upon which his Ministry work is known for. Hell even Al himself questioned it. But upon listening to ‘Rio Grande Blood’ all fears are dispelled immediately. Al has not only returned to form, he’s returned with possibly his most political and heaviest work to date. ‘Rio Grande Blood’ can only be described as a relentless assault on the senses from start to finish, much like being repeatedly beaten around the head with a blunt instrument. There simply is no let up. Whether it’s the marine inspired ‘Gangreen’ complete with Sergeant screaming obscenities, or the fist pounding, riot inducing anthems such as ‘Lies, Lies, Lies’ and the title track ‘Rio Grande Blood’ is a perfect example of industrial heavy fucking metal at its finest.
30 SECONDS TO MARS – A Beautiful Lie
It’s commonly known that movie stars and bands are not usually a good mix (hello Keanu Reeves) but try telling that to Jared Leto. Not content with starring in Hollywood, Jared also fronts upcoming rock band 30 Seconds To Mars in his spare time, and there’s nothing here which suggests it’s merely a hobby. Now onto their 2nd release ‘A Beautiful Lie’ the band, which also includes Jared’s brother Shannon on drums, seamlessly fuse alternative rock and nu-metal with a hint of industrial samples and catchy hooks. Leto himself shows off a good range of vocal abilities swiftly moving between soaring melodic choruses and eardrum busting growls in favourites such as album opener ‘I’ll Attack’ while the band also show their versatility with the more laid back numbers such as 2nd single release ‘The Kill’ and the much smoother and enchanting title track. Catchy, refreshing and inspiring, 30 Seconds to Mars prove that should Leto decide to ease back on the movies there’s most definitely a well deserved place for him within the music scene.
Alex Gosman is guzzling twix bars with the music of:
B-MOVIE HEROES – Calibrate
Good, solid, tuneful hard rock bands seem to be something of a rarity these days; the kind of bands that are melodic enough to sound good on the radio, but loud enough to upset the Coldplay fans (which, let’s face it, is never a bad thing). Step forward please, the B-Movie Heroes – a band who certainly deserve a lot more attention than they’ve received lately. ‘Calibrate‘ is a feast of punchy, melodic tunes, lush harmonies and crunchy riffs; often reminiscent of the Wildhearts and 3 Colours Red, but with a stronger punk rock influence. B-Movie Heroes they may be, but this record is Grade-A material. Turn up loud and enjoy with a cold beer.
BOUNCING SOULS – The Gold Record
Nearly three years after the slightly patchy ‘Anchors Aweigh’, the Bouncing Souls are back on form with a great seventh record. In an ideal world, it would be this lot who made it big (instead of the likes of Blink 182) – their brand of melodic punk is smart, streetwise and boasts a hardcore edge that many of their peers would kill for. Songs like ‘Sarah Saturday’ and ‘So Jersey’ are bursting with anthemic lyrics and fists-in-the-air choruses, and there’s even some experimentation afoot on ‘The Pizza Song’, a reflective number built around an acoustic guitar and accordion. Quite simply, it’s a brilliant punk rock record from one of New Jersey’s finest. Got ‘Souls?
JESSE JAMES – The Assassination Of
If you can only remember Jesse James for the song ‘Shoes‘ (which is not even their best song, by a mile), then you seriously need to hear this, their best and most varied album to date. The stop-start rhythms of ‘Wake Up’ and the irresistible hooks of – ahem – ‘Hooks‘ are sure to become future crowd favourites, whilst recent single ‘Everything‘ boasts a chorus that will stick in your head on first listen. Lyrically, it’s darkly humorous and more contemplative than previous efforts, but nevertheless does a great job of capturing the spirit of their frenetic live shows. There’s also a couple of amusing promo videos tacked on for good measure. ‘The Assassination Of Jesse James’ – it’s a killer record.
LESS THAN JAKE – In With The Out Crowd
The early-period Less Than Jake purists will probably hate this one, but it’s their loss. Not only are there some great songs on offer here, but if there’s any justice, ‘In With The Out Crowd’ will be the record to finally kill off any remaining perception of LTJ as a happy-go-lucky ska punk band. After all, this is a record of very little ska, sparing horns and some of the most bitter, cynical lyrics this band have ever written. ‘Soundtrack Of My Life’ and ‘Overrated‘ are typically catchy odes to frustration, whilst the melancholic, reflective ‘Rest Of My Life’ ranks highly amongst LTJ’s finest efforts. A record for the outsider in all of us.
WINNEBAGO DEAL – Flight Of The Raven
Winnebago Deal records are not for the faint-hearted. Let’s not forget that the Oxford duo have played with former QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri, drank with Motorhead, and toured almost non-stop since their inception; so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that ‘Flight Of The Raven’ sounds no less fast, furious, or downright filthy than any of their previous efforts. Sure, they’ve introduced the odd flash of melody and a few guitar solos, but the foundations of songs like ‘Not Human’ and ‘Venomized‘ are mired deep in the band’s usual recipe of thunderous stoner-punk riffs and Ben Perrier’s gravel-throated vocals. How on earth can two people sound so utterly ferocious?
James Sherry has been spending quality time with family and friends to the sounds of:
CONFLICT – The Ungovernable Force
Following Conflict‘s recent run-in with the Inland Revenue, the band have signed their back catalogue over to Cherry Red for a run of reissues. The good news is this will not only help pay off the band’s tax bill, but the people at Cherry Red have done a fine job in representing these UK anarcho punk classics. All of the band’s albums have been remastered and sound better than they ever have before. The original CD releases suffered from an overly quiet mastering job but this new series rectifies that by finally giving these records the crunch they deserve. Better still, they’ve been packed in swanky digi-packs, bolstered with extra tracks and packed with extra photos. And then of course there’s the music. Inspired by the anarchist punk rantings of Crass, Conflict led the early eighties punk movement in an angry, far more directly political direction and ‘The Ungovernable Force’ is by far their most focused and vicious piece of work. This is the sound of grown men exploding with rage. And they sound like they mean it too.
MELVINS – A Live History Of Gluttony And Lust – Houdini Live
The set of ‘Don’t Look Back’ concerts organised by the fine people at ATP were one of the musical highlights of last year. Inviting bands to play a classic album from beginning to end, the likes of Mudhoney, Dirty 3, The Stooges, The Lemonheads all joined the fun, taking nostalgic trips back to their chosen peak recordings. Grunge over-lords The Melvins were asked to play their classic 1993 Kurt Cobain produced ‘Houdini‘ album in its entirety and in true Melvins style, reduced the crowd and venue to rubble as they pounded through the album from beginning to end and reduced our brains to mulch. And here we have the live recording of the event. Now, whilst a live album can never hope to fully capture the intensity of the night, this comes damn close to recording the truly majestic power of the Melvins onto tape. Either way, if you were there, this is a great souvenir, and if you weren’t, have a little listen to what you missed.
TIGER BY THE TAIL – S/T
There’s a certain style to the way Australians play rock and roll. There’s something darker and more menacing about the way they swing when they’re kicking out the punk rock jams down under. The Scientists, The Saints, Radio Birdman, Celibate Rifles and many more Aussie punk rock greats all have a feeling and attitude that separates them from their European and American counter-parts. And Tiger By The Tail are keeping the tradition alive and strong. Recorded and mixed in 48 hours at the legendary Birdland Studios in Melbourne, this, their debut album is a whiskey soaked, boozy bluesy wretched rock n’roll record that oozes primal screams and howling guitars, then moments of clear clarity and aching melody. It’s hard to believe this is the band’s debut release as there is music here that should be far beyond their experience and years. In short, this is ace.
NEIL YOUNG – Living With War
Neil Young is back and he’s pissed. One of America’s true originals and most expressive song-writers, Neil Young has often used his music to vent his spleen but none more so than on this, his bitter verbal attack on Bush’s leadership and the sickening war in Iraq. Consequently, ‘Living With War’ is up there with some of his greats. Inspired and motivated by the war and the politics surrounding it, he’s never sounded more focused and utterly pissed off. Songs like ‘Let’s Impeach The President’ and ‘Shock & Awe’ are quite literally spat out in disgust as Young channels his aggression and aims for the target. Yet, it’s a sad state of affairs when we have to rely on the ’60s generation to stand up and say what needs to be said.
IMPERIAL LEATHER – Something Out Of Nothing
Back in the eighties Imperial Leather was every punks preferred soap for spiking up their hair. Yeah, we didn’t have gel or fudge in those days, we just used glue and soap ‘cos things were much more punk back then and this record celebrates those glory days! Musically Imperial Leather are classic punk rock with an early eighties sound that is packed full of high-energy tunes and buzzing riffs. The only difference from the old days being that ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ is blessed with a great production that is just on the right side of raw but clear enough to do the killer tunes justice.
Hailing from Sweden, their line-up is a virtual who’s who of Swedish punk rock featuring Amyl Nitrate of the Spider Cunts on vocals (could this shit get anymore punk rock?) and past members of bands such as the mighty Bruce Banner, DS-13, Dischange and No Security – teaming up to create the perfect punk rock explosion. Regulations better watch their backs, Imperial Leather could be after their Swedish punk rock crown!