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”

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) /

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)

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”

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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

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)

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)

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

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)

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

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

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

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 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

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)

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

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

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?

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.


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

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.


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.


“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)

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

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.

(Face Value)

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.

(Dance To The Radio)

“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.

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


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)

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)

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.


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

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:


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.

(Household Name)

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.


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

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

“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.

(Cooking Vinyl)

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)

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.

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)

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.

(Bodog Music)

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

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

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)

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)

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

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.


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)

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)

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

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)

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

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)

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

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
(14th Floor Records)

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)

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)

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
(Complete Control)

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

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.

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:

ILiKETRAiNS – Spencer Perceval
(Beggars Banquet)

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?

(Warp Records)

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.

(TVT Records)

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”.”


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.

(Matador Records)

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:

THE EXIES – A Modern Way Of Living With The Truth
(Eleven Seven Music)

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

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

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.

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:


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.

(Century Media)

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

“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)

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

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:

HELL IS FOR HEROES – You’ve Got Hopes
(Burning Heart)

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


Alfie Holloway isn’t having a good night. Smoke in his face and tears down his cheeks, and he can’t even find his’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)

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.

(1965 Records)

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)

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:

VIVA MACHINE – My Jet Set Radio
(TPF Records)

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)

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

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

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)

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

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

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!

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)

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

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)

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.

(Virgin Records)

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 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.

(Modular People)

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

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)

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

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)

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)

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 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…

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)

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

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)

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)

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

“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.)

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.

The Pit

The Pit – 12/01/07

2007 is here and we welcome you all back to the Pit. We hope that amongst all the turkey sandwiches and boozing you’ve had the urge to be punched and kicked by some fucking tunes, because even if you haven’t, that’s what you’re going to get. As always we’re serving you up the best in metal, punk and indie and if you don’t find something here to quench your musical thirst, you’re getting sent to the back of the queue!

Jane Hawkes’ picks

Album of the Month
INCUBUS – Light Grenades


Lets be honest here, Incubus‘ last album ‘A Crow Left Of The Murder’ was shit. It left many fans disappointed and it never really had the same initial impact as previous albums. Hurrah then, that Incubus are back with a vengeance with their distinctive blend of rock riffs and catchy pop hooks in new album Light Grenades.

Even though the lyrics on some tracks are broken hearted and a little cliché at times, it still makes for enjoyable listening. The steady stream of solemn intensity weaves its way through tracks like ‘Paper Shoes’ and ‘Dig’ and you know Brandon Boyd is singing from the heart. Beautiful, soothing and complex this is surely a contender for best album of 2006.

THE VIEW – Same Jeans

The four piece hailing from Dundee have been quite the success story in 2006. Touring with Primal Scream and Babyshambles and with a spot on the upcoming NME tour, this success looks like it will continue well into 2007 if this single is anything to go by. This shiny, happy tune has an aura of 90’s pop about it, with a little head nod to the likes of Space and Kula Shaker.

Listening to The View singing about the same pair of pants they have worn for ages makes you think sunshine, festivals, warm beer and hair like a bath mat and what with the god awful weather going on outside, we all need a bit of cheering up. I mean, who hasn’t worn the same pair of jeans for four days in a row?? No? Pfft. call yourselves festival goers.

AEROSMITH – The Very Best Of
(Sony BMG)

This must be the eleventy billionth AerosmithBest Of’ that has been rolled out over the years. Fans surely must be getting a tad pissed off by now that they need to keep forking out for a whole album of stuff they already own just to get a couple of new tracks stuck on the end. Ok, the new tracks ‘Sedona Sunrise’ and ‘Devil’s Got A new Disguise’ on this ‘Best Of’ aren’t bad, but they are hardly stand alone classics in the making either. If you have just discovered Aerosmith, this so called ‘Best Of’ CD is not really the best introduction as some of their best stuff doesn’t even feature, if you are already a fan you know what to expect.

Dude Looks Like A Lady’…check. ‘Living On The Edge’…check. ‘Crazy’….check. And so it goes on, just like those before them. This then begs the question, why in the hell did Aerosmith give the green light for this? They surely aint skint. It would have been much better to whack out a few more new songs and stick out an album wouldn’t it? All in all a pretty pointless release which emphasises the bands desire to cash in on their own legacy.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Desecration Smile

Possibly the finest track from epic double album ‘Stadium Arcadium’, ‘Desecration Smile’ begins all mellow with an irresistible slow groove before erupting into the type of huge anthemic chorus the boys are best known for.

Uncontainable energy seeps from every note and ensures that yes dammit, you will be singing along whether you like it or not. An gloriously compelling delight.

Ryan Bird’s picks

Record Of The Month
THE HAUNTED – The Dead Eye
(Century Media)

When The Haunted released their self-titled debut in the winter of 1998, it quite literally turned a then diminishing thrash metal scene on its head before slamming it firmly into the nearest wall. As genre greats like Metallica and Megadeth turned to radio rock and the previously mighty Slayer’s wheels at last began to wobble, it was this 40-minute blast of snarling ferocity that provided a float.

Almost a decade on, ‘The Dead Eye’ sees the Swedish quintet at their darkest and most sinister yet. Proof indeed that ambition and creativity need not wither with age.

DEFTONES – Saturday Night Wrist

Sometimes it’s simply too easy to poke fun at Chino Moreno. Not only has he seemingly added an inch to his waistband for every year that passes, he also seems hell bent on convincing us that he’s still “down with the kids”. Baggy shorts and dickie socks, anybody?

One thing that’s simply impossible to mock, however, is the Deftones’ ability to recreate themselves with each release. The fact that they do so without ever losing their artistic sparkle is simply astonishing, and ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ is no exception. As progressive, unpredictable and downright incredible as ever; this is metal at its most grandiose.

GOJIRA – From Mars To Sirius

Quite simply the most terrifying metal prospect ever to cross the channel. Hailing from the unlikely source of France, the quartet deal in some of the most twisted, complex and utterly fucked up soundscapes since Meshuggah first picked up their 8-strings and tuned lower than Abi Titmuss’ sense of morality.

If you’ve picked up a metal rag over the past 12 months you’ll need no introductions, but for the unfamiliar among you, pick up this bad boy and crank the volume to 11. Once your ears start bleeding and your body spontaneously convulses in a state of shock, you’ll wonder how you ever coped with sanity.

CHOKEHOLD – Sweet Sense Of Genocide

The follow-up to 2006’s ‘The Killing has Begun’, this sophomore effort from Oxfordshire’s most promising beast is already shaping up to be one of the unlikely success stories of 2007. Having received copious airplay on the likes of Total Rock radio and Scuzz TV for the song ‘Faith Of Fear’ – as well as sharing stages with the likes of German metal champions Caliban and headlining the latest leg of the Casket Lullabies tour across the UK – these groove-metal behemoths are set to put home grown talent back in the driving seat. Prepare for utter devastation.

BLACK SABBATH – Black Sabbath

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 40 years since this essential slice of heavy metal history first came to fruition, and even harder still to contemplate that the entire album was recorded in just one day on a four-track recorder.

Few could have predicted the ever-lasting effect this six-track effort would hold, but the amount of people fortunate enough to discover its glory without being utterly dazzled by the undeniable brilliance is less still. If you don’t like Sabbath, you don’t like metal, and that’s the truth. An pure and untouchable heavy metal nirvana.

Dee Massey’s picks

Record Of The Month
BRAND NEW – The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me

It was a long time in the making but long island emo-supremos Brand New are back in the ring with their eagerly anticipated new album ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’, which takes its title from a conversation frontman Jesse Lacey had with a schizophrenic friend whilst making the album. Never ones for resting on their laurels, Brand New’s 2003 album ‘Deja-Entendu’ was the polar opposite to their debut ‘My Favourite Weapon’, and similarly, this new offering is another huge leap forward to a darker, more challenging sound. Lacey, a reluctant front man if ever there was one, has grown from a boy singing of love, to deeper, almost menacing topics – his lyrics now spin out stories of death, religion, executions and even drowning babies. So far, so bleak.

Tangled guitars rip into the listener in Sowing Season, ‘Degausser’ brims with an eerie choir, whilst ‘Archers’ stays with you. ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me’ confirms Brand New’s reputation as a band constantly striving evolving into something bigger and better, growing with every new release. Brooding at times, furious and fighting in others – this is an album that’s sure to amaze, scare and delight with every twist. And does the Devil or God win the fight? I’m sure we’ll find out in their next album, I just hope they don’t keep us waiting another 3 years…

THE HEDRONS – Heatseeker
(Measured Records)

Scottish fourpiece The Hedrons blast their way into 2007 with their third single ‘Heatseeker’ on indy label Measured Records. The girl band has grown in confidence and matured already, and like their previous offerings, ‘Heatseeker’ is a ballsy, aggressive and energy filled track, with Tippi’s lead vocals wonderfully sleazy and gritty, with a gloriously jagged edge.

These four girls are the real deal, with a presence both on record and live that demands your attention, and this single is just a glimpse into what we’ve got to look forward when they hit Metro on 24th January. With slivers of punk and metal, these girls produce a sound that drags you up by the scruff on the neck, but without coming across as try hards. With a phenomenal online following (they were the first British band in history to play a virtual gig on Second Life), the girls are growing in stature with every release – catch them live, you really won’t be disappointed.

TAKING BACK SUNDAY – Liar (Takes One To Know One)

One of the things I admire most about Long Island natives Taking Back Sunday is that they never let you down. Throughout the last three albums they have been consistency impressed with their own brand of screamo and aggressive emo tones which always stay with you hours after the last listen.

Despite their hiatus after their first album and a near split, Lazzara and Co have come back stronger than ever. Their second single from their Eric Valentine (Queens of The Stone Age) produced album ‘Louder Now’ is full of slashing guitars, edgy growling vocals courtesy of enigmatic frontman Adam Lazzara, and a tight drum sound produced by setting up Mark O’Connell’s drum kit in the smallest room in the studio, producing a tight 80s sound.

The sounds is evolving with every album, and this album is without doubt their best yet, it bristles with excitement and vigour, their arena-ready hooks ( so greatly showcased as their Milton Keynes shows last year) are pushing them from just another screamo band to something really quite spectacular…and one of the few bands that didn’t get bottled on the main stage at Reading – impressive stuff!

MARMADUKE DUKE – Everybody Dance
(Captains of Industry)

Taken from the up coming album ‘Duke Pandemonium’ , ‘Everybody Dance ‘is just a sneak preview (check it out on their my space page) of what we’ve got to look forward to. An upbeat, dance fever, up-tempo disco ball of a track, bordered by ample guitars and a in your face bassline. With it’s mantra like lyrics repeated over and over again, the tempo is cranked up from the very beginning, and it’ll have your toes tapping from under the January gloom.

With band members from Sucioperro and Biffy Clyro making up the numbers, the magnificent Marmaduke Duke are a multi-facetted bundle, a band that can attack and soothe, and have you dancing before you even know why. ‘Everybody Dance’ is the track that could lift you out of your winter gloom – whilst it’s not exactly the musical version of prozac, it’s a great bit of ear candy. With their album in the wings, Marmaduke Duke are proving themselves to be more than just a one trick pony, and one of Captains of Industry’s most promising acts for 2007. Watch this space.

Alex Gosman’s picks

Record Of The Month
CANCER BATS – Birthing The Giant


2007: the year of stoner-punk’s resurgence? It won’t seem so ridiculous an idea once you’ve heard the debut Cancer Bats album. This hard-rockin’ Canadian quartet mix the speed and fury of Black Flag with the thunderous grooves and fuzzed-up guitars so beloved of bands like Down and Corrosion Of Conformity, and on ‘Birthing The Giant’ they’ve served up some of the rawest, most visceral rock n’ roll thrills since The Bronx last laid waste to these fair shores. You might as well join ’em; because on this form, there’s no way you’ll beat ’em.

DOWN I GO – This Is Disastercore

If only my school’s history lessons had been half as interesting as this. For the follow-up to their ‘This Is Dinocore‘ debut, London noise experimentalists Down I Go have produced 13 tracks inspired by and chronicling some of history’s most notable disasters; including odes to the Great Plague of London, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown and the sinking of the Titanic. It might sound bizarre and over-ambitious on paper, but the reality is a unique record that sounds not unlike the Dillinger Escape Plan infused with a dark sense of humour and some clever lyrical twists. Disastercore, indeed, but far from disastrous.

FRANKY LEE – Cutting Edge
(Burning Heart)

If Millencolin vocalist Nikola Sarcevic is the softly-spoken Jekyll of his band, then guitarist Mathias Farm is definitely the hard-partying Hyde. Franky Lee is the latter’s side-project band (also featuring members of fellow Swedish bands Randy and the Peepshows), and their debut album is grittier and louder than you might expect – often reminiscent of band favourites the Afghan Whigs and early Foo Fighters. There’s still enough irresistible choruses in the likes of ‘Antifreeze‘ and ‘The World Just Stopped’ to keep Millencolin fans happy, though. Promising stuff.

FU MANCHU – We Must Obey
(Century Media)

If you’re still not convinced of stoner-punk’s potency, then here’s hoping that the daddies of the genre can change your mind. Right from the start, ‘We Must Obey’ sounds like a runaway steamroller bursting out of your speakers; as the likes of ‘Knew It All Along’ and ‘Shake It Loose’ surge forth in waves of Southern-fried riffage and bowel loosening bass. It’s the same brilliantly dirty, unpretentious Fu Manchu sound of old, but this time around they’ve refined it almost to perfection. Enough waxing lyrical – turn this one up loud and just fucking FEEL it.

KUBICHEK! – Not Enough Night
(30:30 Recordings)

Constant touring can either wear you down or build you up – and in the case of Kubichek!, it’s definitely the latter. This Newcastle quartet’s love of jerky post-punk rhythms and melancholic edge indicates a strong Joy Division/New Order influence, but the fuzzed up, dissonant guitars and a certain sense of urgency help them to stand out from the pack. ‘Not Enough Night’ is an excellent debut; packed with songs that invite you to dig out your dancing shoes, but are far more substantial – both musically and lyrically – than your typical indie club fodder. They’re probably playing near you soon; you know what to do.

Joe Moynihan’s pick

Record Of The Month
NEX – Nex
(Rising Records)

While cruising through my friend’s Myspace profiles (the one’s with bad music taste at least), I’m persistently ravaged by the general selection of pap they have as their profile song. The second I hear another carbon copy of Bring Me The Horizon or some other gash, so called ‘metal’ band I mute my speakers before you can say “gore”. In fact, pressing the stop button on profile songs was becoming a force of habit. Thankfully I resisted the urge when I stepped across the wee underground beauty that is Nex, lurking innocently on someone’s prof. Check that bass riff! An unexpected, ludicrously versatile group that let their music do the talking. Rather than a shit haircut or jeans that can’t have been put on without the assistance of lube and a shoehorn.

Self-titled debut album, released under the solid, Rising Records name, is a gritty surge of musical ability, combined with witty satire dotted amongst Ed Dickinson’s luxurious wandering vocals. Nex finger out every glob of style in the deep metal/punk crevices and force them together like wrong puzzle pieces to create a better picture than the one on the box. That’s no mean feat. But while boomingly lush tracks like “The Worm” and “Paper Moon” offer an in depth perspective of the bands talent, light hearted ripper “OMG” throws you a package of internet dialect gnarled lovingly into your ear, fully demonstrating how these guys don’t give a fuck. And I dig that shit.

The Pit

The Pit – 28/11/06

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. They’re not the only ones – we’re going to get you so full of great tunes that you’re gonna be stuck listening to them well after the chocolate has gone from your advent calendar. Screw you Santa, Crossfire’s the place to go for all the best presents. On with the recommendations!

Rebecca Geach’s playlist:

Record Of The Month
THE ALTERKICKS – On A Holiday (single)

(B Unique)

Alterkicks have turned the concept of a holiday upside down in their zesty debut single. Far from sun and fun, the song is a dark satire and better for it. Expectations of bubblegum music (as might be suggested by the title) are instantly dispelled when Martin Stiwell’s voice creeps in slow and enticing, drawing in the listener and pleasantly surprising him. The lyrics are wonderfully bizarre and catching.

Yet only Martin with his flexible vocal chords could carry them so well and blend them effortlessly into the fantastic instrumental behind the song. It is not all Martin’s work though. The all round talent of the band is clear by the energetic beats of the drums and the strums revealed through the odd solo here and there. So much momentum is gathered throughout that there is no way that On A Holiday could just simply wind down. So it dramatically closes with its hit line “Oh mother, look what’s become of us”, and don’t you ever forget it.

RICHARD SWIFT – The Beautiful Heart
(Secretly Canadian)

This is a solid piece of music far away from the steely road of indy-punk which is unfortunately popular with too many bands these days. Listening to songs like the Beautiful Heart is a revelation that there is more to music than opulent drum and bass. Yes okay, the lyrics are a bit soppy and the rhythm is unchanging but at least it’s steady.

This is not supposed to be a dynamic masterpiece but a gentle tune that’s easy to listen to. It has a lot of creativity behind it but why over-analyse a nice piece of music? The important thing is I am happy to listen to it, and I would like to hear more of Richard Swift’s stuff.

THE MACCABEES – First Love (single)

You will fall in love with “First Love” by the Macabees. It won’t be your only love when they bring out more music, but you will always remember this track as your first Maccabean love. “First Love” is an upbeat little tune with a lot of bounce to it. I could imagine happily dancing to it in a club or bar, and giving a squeal of delight every time the DJ picked it out. It’s clear the band enjoyed playing it and so the listener enjoys hearing it. The hit line “First love, only love” may not be the most original to grace the music scene this year, but the Maccabees are not about poetry. Instead they are one of the funkier indie bands to emerge from the mists of talent.

BAT FOR LASHES – Trophy (single)
(The Echo Label)

Tragic. Not the music, well not entirely. The song is a tragedy about a woman who has lost her trophy, the meaning of which is entirely subjective as most lyrics are. It is dramatically relayed in this song, and though the lyrics may not have exactly appealed to me I can not fault Natasha Kahn’s voice, the vocalist whose performance of the desperate lady was so poignant. Her strong voice brewed in Caveman like supportive vocals, simple percussion and dour strumming was a spell for mystique. Though it does not satisfy my taste in music it maybe a godsend for those who like a little romantic theatre in their lives.

Dee Massey’splaylist:

Record Of The Month
THE MAGIC NUMBERS – Those The Brokes


The West London foursome are back with a multi facetted album – which at first appears to be the musical equivalent of comfort food – heart warming and embracing – but on closer inspection shows an intriguing darker edge. Recorded mainly at Allaire Studios, high in the hills of upstate NY, the brother/sister quartet holed themselves up for months with producer Richard Wilkinson, and the end result was clearly worth their dedication. Opener ‘This is a Song’ has a captivating introduction, which leads into a flurry of upbeat pop, first single ‘Take a Chance’ stands out, the charming ‘Undecided’, slides us into the slower, most pensive atmospheric area of the album, Romeo Stodart’s lyrics of lost love carried on from their debut. Angela’s vocals are stronger than the previous album; she seems to have grown in confidence.

‘Carl’s Song’ and ‘Let Somebody In’ are simply beautiful, the 60’s vibe and feel good factor belying the heartbreak in the lyrics, whilst ‘Runnin’ Out’ picks up the tempo. ‘Goodnight’ is the perfect mellow closing for the album. The album is one amazing journey, from the mesmerizing introduction up to the heartening first few tracks, until the emotive lyrics reveal the almost mournful tones of the latter stages of the album. It takes the listener on a real journey, a exploration for the emotions, and makes you realize how important the order of tracks actually is when an album’s played as a whole. ‘Those The Brokes’ is a simply beautiful offering, which exceeds expectation. The Magic Numbers play from the heart and it shows in this multi-dimensional album – and whilst little can dent their reputation at a great summer festival band, it’s intriguing to see they’re not just a one trick pony.

THE ZUTONS – It’s The Little Things We Do (Single)

Liverpool’s finest are back with the third single from their top ten album ‘Tired of Hanging Around’, firing on all cylinders with an infectious hook laden track relaying the price of partying hard the night before. “I had women, wine, party time and everything that mattered .And when I woke up today you know my brain was all in tatters”. Remorseful lyrics are echoed in guilt laden almost mournful guitars, Dave McManus’s voice is gritty – not unlike someone’s who’s been on a bender the night before!

Whilst it’s as upbeat and catchy as previous offerings from this album ‘Valerie’ and the upbeat ‘Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?’, ‘ It’s the Little Things We Do’ shows a different side to The Zutons, a mature and almost haunting edge to their character. This single combines the best of The Zutons, the infectious pop swirls working stunningly with Dave’s voice, and lyrically this piece is short and very sweet indeed.

NIKOLA SARCEVIC – Roll Roll And Flee
(Burning Heart)

Millencolin’s front man shows his softer side with his second solo album ‘Roll Roll And Flee’ – which couldn’t be further from the Sarcevic we’re used to, thrashing it out as frontman of Sweden’s premier punk act. ‘Roll Roll And Flee’ was recorded at Svenska Grammofon Studio, where he chose to record live onto analogue tape rather than digitally, hence this album has a glorious free flowing, intelligent and spontaneous feel, the tracks roll into one another with the kind of relaxed cajoling vibe that embraces the listener.

Sarcevic is really coming into his own as a song writer, and tracks like ‘Soul For Sale’ and the stunning title track are a cut above. The horns in ‘Let Me In’ are a great moment, and despite the comparisons with Bob Dylan and other classical singer/songwriters, Sarcevic argues that actually “..a lot of these songs have the similar chord patterns as Bad Religion songs – a lot of minor chords.” Roll Roll and Flee shows reveals Sarcevic as a great musician, growing and changing with the times. This second solo outing is already a huge progression from his first release, and whilst it’s reassuring that he’s not turning his back on Millencolin, it’s a out and out pleasure to hear this side project.

THE HOLLOWAYS – So This Is Great Britain
(TVT Records)

If was just a matter of times before indie upstarts The Holloways were picked up by a good label, and with two singles under their belts, the Nambucca regulars are back with their debut album ‘So This is Great Britain‘.on TVT. It’s a somewhat bleak view of the state of the nation to be honest – winos, drunks, ASBOs, STDs and the like – but stand out tracks ‘ Generator’ and ‘Two Left Feet’ give the proceedings a lighter note. ‘Happiness And Penniless’ ponders whether it’s better to be skint and happy, or a slave to the grind, whilst ‘Re-Invent Myself’ takes a stab at the powers that be.

Reknowned for their electric live performances, this album doesn’t quite capture the thrill of those sets. Whilst NME and the scene kids will be creaming their panties over this – is misses that rawness and the sounds a bit too polished for it’s sleazy contents. The Holloways still blast most of their contemporaries out of the water with their sets, so whilst this album doesn’t quite do them justice, this’ll still have you dancing, and single is ‘Generator’ is undoubtedly one of the most upbeat tracks you’ll trip over this year.

+44 – Lycanthrope
(Interscope )

With Tom Delonge having enjoyed critical success with his post Blink offering ‘ Angels & Airwaves’, it’s now turn for the other two thirds of the arguably most successful pop punk band of our generation to step up to the plate. Frontman Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have teamed up with Craig Fairbaugh (who already played with Barker in Transplants) and Shane Gallagher (The Nervous Return), and bought onboard bought Blink producer Jerry Finn as executive producer, to create an album that maintains the best elements of Blink, but is slashed through with a darker, most progressive electronic sound.

Debut single ‘ Lycanthope’ was debuted on Tony Hawks Project 8 Xbox game, and whilst there’s no escaping that Hoppus’s vocal will forever bring you back to Blink tracks about banging the neighbour and the girl at the rock show – this is like Blink all grown up. Hoppus remarks “We’re not divorcing ourselves from the past, but we are pushing beyond..” The sound is more mature, Jerry Finn’s concocted a masterpiece of a mix, with keyboards, electronic drums and a gently throbbing bassline caressing a catchy but not cheesy chorus. As Barker himself puts it “If Blink was the daytime, Plus 44 is the nighttime.”

This is in exciting debut from a band who are moving and growing, Hoppus and Barker have maintained the accessibility of Blink, but +44 is darker and edgier. If you thought you’d outgrown Blink shrug this on for size – after all, what’s not to love about a band named after the UK dialling code?

ENTER SHIKARI – Sorry You’re Not A Winner
(Ambush Reality)

You’ve got to respect Enter Shikari – despite the bun fight of labels after them they’re sticking to their roots and releasing their debut single ‘ Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ on their own Ambush Reality label. Having had to recently upgrade their Mean Fiddler show to the Astoria, enjoyed a nomination at the Kerrang awards and killer shows at the Reading and Leeds festivals it’s not bad going for group of guys who were relatively unknown this time last year.

Having released their first offering ‘Mothership’ digitally, ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ is being released on CD and limited edition colour 7″. It’s a heady mix of metalcore and trance like beats, lyrics screamed out so hard that the rising tension is palpable. The lyrics are too blurred to create images for the listener, so it’s down to the guitars and effects to draw up feelings and emotions – and that’s where Enter Shikari step into their own. The disco vibe layered over heavy riffs and biting guitars mesh with the wonderfully incoherent lyrics, barked out by frontman Rou. This is what The Automatic try to be – this raw, jagged offering is the real deal, fresh, vicious and very very exciting.

Enter Shikari are home-grown talent at it’s best. Progressive, innovative and something different from the endless indie bands that all merge into one another after a few drinks. Full of an acidic zest, ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ is the real deal, it’ll grab you by the scruff of your neck and enthral you – turn up and the volume and enjoy, this is a sheer delight.

Joe Moynihan’s playlist:

Record Of The Month
(TPF Records/Split Lip Recordings)

The Welsh music scene is somewhat hit and miss these days. With almost every other little boyo recording something or other in their bedroom it’s harder and harder to find any genuine musical talent. That’s what makes Gethin Pearson and his crew of merry men and women all the more enjoyable. Representing the Zooport massive, Gethin shares his personal view on life with the help of a backing ‘scenery’ of musicians. A cocktail of folk and country riffs that really waken up the senses, more so than your herbal essences shampoo could ever dream of.

Despite unfortunately only being a 4 track EP, there is not one dodgy melody, and the variety is unfathomable. Opening track “Lost At Sea” captures the listener in a head tapping, finger clicking, folk trap, while the following “Shatterproof” offers a chorus worthy enough to be chanted at Wembley with lyrics as thought provoking as major metaphor heads, Thursday. Though, as said by the man himself, the words are about ‘nothing, something, no-one, someone, anything and everything all at the same time’. Which is a blessing in itself; creating songs that allow a listener to interpret the song however they wish only underlines the talent this little boyo has. Live, the band is stunning, each set resulting in their merch stall being surrounded before even Linford Christie has left the start line. Without a doubt, this is one of the best debut EPs I’ve heard in a bloody long time. Get in.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Digital Penetration (Vol.1)
(Alt-Delete Records)

Musical bandwagons trundle through scenes on a regular basis these days. With the emo one finally veering out of sight, a funkier, yellow painted Volkswagen comes rolling around the corner, and it’s got a big fucking smile on it. New Rave has shat its internal goodness all over the UK indie scene recently, and by the sounds of it, the constipation only made it better. Digital Penetration is a wickedly cool compilation album from the guys at Alt-Delete that takes samples from the freshly spawned pioneers of the genre that’s currently getting a thorough brown nosing from the guys at NME. Each track is a glorious burst of fresh air. Delectable twangs from out of tune guitars, combined with Nintendo beats and vocalists that spit lyrics at you like they couldn’t give a toss. Fantastic.

The album deserves a good listen, or three. By avoiding the almighty Klaxons, who prove themselves once again to be the principal noise makers in New Rave, you stumble across the odd little gem, like the lesser known, but Klaxon recommended Crystal Castles. The variety within this little shiny disc is mind blowing. Tracks like “Are You The One” by Aussie shape throwers The Presets will no doubt be filling floors at the KOKO in Camden with colourful Topshoppers armed with glowsticks, while Cut Copy serve up a plate of droned out, boppy goodness that would make the likes of Beck drool.

The New Rave bandwagon has parallel parked itself firmly between the Indie and Dance rides, I’m hoping its paid for a long stay.

TO MY BOY – theGrid
(Abeano Records)

Being a record company conceived by one of the major indie clubs in the big smoke, we can only presume scousers To My Boy’s follow up single to schizophrenic toddler on a keyboard smash ‘I Am X-ray’ will be another XFM and MTV2 hitlist anthem. But why should that be a problem? It’s hard to fault the tripped out electro nerds on another floor filling, shape tweaking banger.

It looks like 2006 is the comeback of the robot! This is news coloured with 8 shades of ‘fuck yeah’ to us rigid honkies who have secretly been dying for a dance, now’s the chance ladies and gentlemen! TheGrid is an instantly appealing nouvel rave gem that places the band right up there with the Klaxon hegemony. The duo sound like an infant pounding away at his honky-tonk alongside his stuttering, well pronounced thespian of a father reciting the words to another sing-along chorus. Which, funnily enough, works like a wee leprechauns bag of charms. Whether you hear this track at the disco, or watching MTV2 on a comedown, get up, move your feet and bop around like you were a born again epileptic. Nostradamus predicted these to be the future of pop*, and since when was he wrong!

*True story.

Alex Gosman’s playlist:

Record Of The Month
(People Like You)

That web address isn’t just an arrogant boast, y’know. As singer/guitarist and founder of the Meteors, P. Paul Fenech effectively invented psychobilly (the bastard son of punk and rockabilly), and this record – his sixth solo outing – is a typically high-quality affair. Whether turning his hand to the eerie atmospherics of ‘Scarecrow’ or unleashing squalling solos over the rollicking ‘3 Minutes To Dead Time’, every track is laden with the horror-movie aesthetic and gallows humour that has long been Fenech’s trademark. Oh, and if you’re still not impressed, check out the title track.

(Burning Heart)

Considering the hundreds of UK bands currently looking to the leading lights of 1970s punk for inspiration, it seems odd that it should take four Swedes to make a decent job of it. That said, when said Swedes include Dennis Lyxzen – of former Refused and The International Noise Conspiracy fame – you know you’re onto a good thing. ‘Automatic’ is joyful in its simplicity; a record bursting with punchy punk-pop tunes that owe plenty to the likes of the Buzzcocks, Undertones and The Jam. You’ll be singing along to the choruses of ‘I Don’t Understand’ and ’30 Something’ before you know it.

(Fat Wreck Chords)

The history of punk rock cover versions may stretch back to the days of Sid Vicious massacring Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, but successful punk cover bands are few and far between. Californian quintet Me First…, however, are an exception. Having previously reworked 70s, 60s, R&B and Broadway hits, they’re now focusing on Country & Western music; beefing up songs from the likes of Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks with the kind of melodic, turbo-charged guitar action that you’d expect from a band featuring members of NOFX and Lagwagon. Highly entertaining stuff.

WALLS OF JERICHO – With Devils Amongst Us All

It’s no surprise that Walls Of Jericho are a savage musical beast, given the mental and physical trauma that has dogged their career; but ‘With Devils Amongst Us All’ is still breathtaking in its sheer sonic brutality. Frontwoman Candace Kucsulain’s voice is as raw as sandblasted skin as she vents her fury over metallic hardcore gems like ‘Plastic’ and ‘And The Dead Walk Again”; songs that boast a more anthemic edge than previous efforts, but nevertheless hit home like a sledgehammer to the senses. It’s a shame that they felt the need to include the mediocre power ballad ‘No Saving Me‘; but otherwise, ‘With Devils…’ is metalcore at its most potent and punishing.


Boston septet Westbound Train deal in a soulful, rootsy ska/reggae hybrid, and in ‘Transitions” (the band’s third album) they’ve created a record with the perfect balance of variety and accessibility. Like their labelmates the Aggrolites and the Slackers, these guys don’t so much plagiarise as pay homage to ska’s rich history, infusing old sounds with a fresh shot of vitality and irresistible grooves. Check out the likes of ‘Good Enough’ and ‘The Runaround’, and be sure to have your dancing shoes at the ready.

Pete Craven’s playlist:

Record Of The Month
VARIOUS ARTISTS – American Hardcore

You’ve read the book, seen the film… now here’s the CD soundtrack to Steven Blush’s historic recollections of the early Eighties American Hardcore scene. I understand a range of porcelain figurines and souvenir plates are to follow. Any self respecting (elitist) follower of the genre will have most, if not all, of the material featured on this 26track CD, but as compilations go this is excellent and to have all these songs in a handy compact format sure makes for great listening.

This is evidenced by the opening salvo – Nervous Breakdown by Black Flag, Out of Vogue by Middle Class, Play to Cum by Bad Brains, Fucked Up Ronnie by DOA, Circle Jerk’s Red Tape, Minor Threat’s Filler and MDC’s I Remember – you can’t argue with that!!!

Elsewhere it’s a who’s-who of heady sounds from ground breaking times including The Freeze, Jerry’s Kids, SSD, Void, Scream, Negative Approach, AOF, 7Seconds, Big Boys, Really Red, Adolescents, DRI, closing with the classic Flipper twister “Ha Ha Ha”. Fantastic. And I picked this disc up (new) in Fopp for a fiver, who’s laughing now huh?!

UK SUBS – Original Punks Original Hits

If you’ve been living feral on a South Pacific island for the past 25+years, or some similar backwater fate, and the UK Subs have not registered on your radar, then this 46track double CD compilation is a cracking showcase and at a fiver a pop (thank you again Fopp) it’s an absolute bargain.

This collection hits you up with prize numbers from their debut 7inch “CID” and the subsequent releases on the Gems label, with virtually all the singles A and B-sides, plus a few choice cuts from the “Another Kind Of Blues” “Brand New Age” and “Diminished Responsibility” albums. The only obvious omission is the A-side of their final single on Gems “Keep on Running (’til You Burn)” although the B-side “Perfect Girl” is included. Without a doubt ‘Subs frontman Charlie Harper is Punk Rock Royalty, they guy has never stopped, never relented, never slowed down, and is gonna be hollering out his hoary anthems ’til he drops. Charlie, we salute you!

James Sherry’s playlist:

Record Of The Month

Has the whole world gone fucking deaf? First, last years utterly brilliant ‘World’s Apart’ album was almost universally ignored when it should have been heralded an instant classic and made compulsory listening for the whole damn world. Now the follow up comes out and what happens? The press don’t give a shit. Every review I’ve seen has been average beyond belief. People just don’t seem arsed by it. Maybe it’s me but I just don’t get why people don’t get the genius song-writing and epic sounds this band create on a whim. Fuck ’em all. This Trail Of Dead album is yet another classic from the depths of Texan depravity. Fuck the lot of you.

THE MELVINS – A Senile Animal

How could the combination of Seattle grunge legends The Melvins and Hydra Head recording artists Big Business be anything less than absolutely fucking incredible? When word got out that The Melvins had teamed up with Big Business (who, in case you don’t know, delivered one of last years most powerful albums ‘Head For The Shallow’ and were equally jaw-dropping live) no one was quite sure how the end results would turn out. Chances are it was going to be a typically Melvins slab of impenetrable noise, but instead, the newly born Big-Business-Melvins have turned in the most commercial album of their long careers.

‘A Senile Animal’ is undoubtedly the band’s most straight-up rock album for years, but done, of course, in the trademark Melvins lurching doom-drenched noise. Rhythmically, it’s incredible – the combination of Dale Crover and Coady Willis on drums is utterly earth shattering. Combine that with a double lashing of fuzzed-out bass and this is the sound of planets exploding. Yet all the way throughout, the vocal and guitar hooks are utterly addictive and some of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place on a Soundgarden album.

Quite how, over twenty years into their careers, The Melvins have delivered what could be their best album so far beggars belief. But then again, this is The Melvins we’re talking about. Worship them!

CRASS – Stations Of The Crass

Yeah, it may be hard to believe that there was a time when punk was a genuine threat and not a fucking fashion parade but Crass at their peak were a real thorn in the side of the establishment. Welding sixties idealism with hard line anarchist politics, they created true independence in music, building a radical cottage industry of art, music and politics.

This month sees the release of two books that centre around the world of Crass. ‘The Story Of Crass’ by George Berger (Omnibus Press) tells the whole story in detail for the first time, whilst Ian Glasper’s brilliant ‘The Day The Country Died’ (Cherry Red Books) tells the story of Crass and the bands that followed in their wake, inspired by their ideas and sound. Subhumans, Rudimentary Peni, Conflict, Icons Of Filth, Omega Tribe and a host of others tell their stories but all refer back to Crass. And while much has been made of what Crass achieved politically (read all about it in the book!), to these ears at least, the music has stood the test of time. Always harsh and biting, viciously angry vocals mix with scratchy, abrasive guitar noise (pre-Steve Albini!) as military drums push the tempo to near breaking point.

‘Stations Of The Crass’, their second album, is a good starting point. But ‘Feeding Of The 5000′, ‘Christ – The Album’, ‘Penis Envy’ and ‘Best Before’ are equally deserving. It’s your choice. Like Crass said, here is no authority but yourself.

THE WHO – Endless Wire

It’s been some twenty-one years since the last Who album. After Keith Moon spun his last drum roll and fell of the end of the kit into the stars, they recorded two dreadful albums – ‘It’s Hard’ and ‘Faces Dance’ with Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones, both of which are pretty much dreadful despite a couple of good songs. Both albums were victims of dated eighties production techniques, uninspired song-writing and the loss of the ‘Greatest Drummer In Rock, Ever’.

So what’s changed twenty-one years later? Well, despite the loss of both Moon and then bassist John Entwistle, The half-a-Who have still been cranking out impressive live shows. With such a wealth of classic material to draw from how could they not? With Ringer Starr’s son Zac on drums (who himself was taught by Moon as a young kid), The Who finally had a drummer that could do justice to Moon’s classic rhythms and once more, even as old men and half the band dead, they still rock live. Which is where the problem comes in with this new album.

Unfortunately, due to Zac being busy playing with Oasis, he only plays on one song on this album. Because of this ‘Endless Wire’ doesn’t rock as hard as it should. Many of the songs are morose and slow, leaving Roger Daltry’s voice, already irreparably damaged from years of shouting and screaming over the noise, sound like he’s got a Kermit The Frog in his throat. This really shouldn’t be called a Who album. It is, in essence, a Pete Townshend solo album with Roger singing in it. Half a Who is still better than no Who and an average Who album is still better than no Who album as there are some good moments here, but too much of ‘Endless Wire’ is bogged down in old man crooning and not enough rock action. Shame.

The Pit

The Pit – 12/10/06

Just when you thought it was safe to come back to the water of rock, The Pit is back with its razor sharp punk, terrifying metal and bone chomping indie. There’s something for everyone here, as per usual, so get stuck in and check out what the writers have going on their stereos at the moment. Nothing fishy about that!

Dee Massey‘s Playlist:

THE FORMAT – Dog Problems
(Vanity Label)

What do you do when your relationship starts to fall apart? Get a dog of course, a band-aid pet to stick the flailing couple together. At least that’s what Nate Ruess, frontman of Arizona upstarts The Format decided. Whether or not it worked is neither here not there, but it did provide the title of their debut album, out now on their own vanity label. Not only did these guys have girl problems, but they also got unceremoniously dumped by Atlantic too – and in the bun fight by majors to pick them up, decided to go it alone, without the ‘guiding’ hand of a label hovering over them in the studio. The result, ‘Dog Problems’, was produced by Steve McDonald and is an homage to their dedication to their own sound.

Ranging from run of the mill American indie ( ‘Pick Me Up’) , to blues, to upbeat pop (‘She Doesn’t Get It’)to an almost vaudeville show boat style in some track (‘Dog Problems’), duo Nate Ruess and Sam Means have patched together a theatrical, exciting and catchy sound, with hook laden tracks which can’t fail to delight. Every track has a new quality, a different sound, a new style, ‘Dog Problems‘ is a dizzying mix of poetry, indie and Beach Boys-esque pop. Catch them on tour now in the UK, supporting All American Rejects.

(Measured Records/Pinnacle)

2006 has been quite a year for the Glaswegian four piece, The Hedrons – from playing at Download, opening for Alice in Chains, and obviously being interviewed for the Upstarts section on Crossfire *cough* they’ve ridden the wave of their success, partying and rocking their way around the UK, even apparently out partying hair metallers Towers of London. To top off their blinder of a year, they’re releasing ‘ I Need You’ on limited edition signed vinyl 7″ and digital download.

Tippi’s drawling vocals are swaggering and arrogant, these girls do gritty punk rock and they do it well. It’s no wonder that these four pouting, punky beauties have over 82,000 friends on My Space alone, with their brand of raw, dirty rock, they’re the real deal and ‘I Need You’ simply confirms what we already knew – The Hedrons are well on their way to becoming a real force to reckon with. Bring it on.

(TVT Records)

Nambucca’s finest are back with their second single on TVT Records, a fresh mix of Generator (previously released on Sensible Records). Listening to this first thing in the morning after a, quite frankly, shit night, I can grudgingly admit, that it had even me cracking a smile after 2 plays. It’s so endearingly happy, so upbeat, Alfie Jackson’s charming vocals “I can get a record player and a generator, generate the music to make you feel better” busy the proceedings along, and you’re left wishing you were dancing to this in a club, not nursing the first coffee of the day.

There’s a glow of infectious energy bouncing out with the bass line, a effervescent happiness – if they played this on the tube on a Monday morning, the world would be a better place. The Holloways are currently on tour with Babyshambles on the Frog Tour, they’re going from strength to strength, here’s hoping the album makes good the promises laid down in the singles.

THE LEMONHEADS – The Lemonheads

It’s been almost ten years since The Lemonheads disintegrated post Reading ’97, following frontman Evan Dando’s very public battle with drug addiction, and following a ‘Best of’ release by Atlantic, all went quiet on The Lemonheads front. But, you can’t keep a good man down. A decade later, Dando is clean, coping with bipolar, and this week sees the much anticipated release of a brand new self titled album on Vagrant/Polydor.

Recorded in seclusion at Allaire Studios, NY, the album brought together two of Dando’s strongest influences, drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendants, Black Flag) and basist Karl Alvarez ( Descendents), who along with Dando’s long term Australian colleraborator from Smudge, Tom Morgan, co-wrote an album of melodic, emotive and wonderfully reflective rock. The overall sound is wonderfully familiar, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ‘Become The Enemy’ is already a mainstay on their live show, a husky break in Dando’s vocals, that overwhelmed feel to the lyrics adding to the pumped up guitars. J Mascis adds his scuzzy guitars to ‘No Backbone’ and ‘Steve’s Boy’. Other guests include Garth Hudson on keyboards and Josh Lattanzi on ‘Let’s Just Laugh’ adds to pumped up drawling power pop – its the kind of infectious animated and melodic tune that Dando and Co did so well in the 90’s.

It’s almost as thought Dando’s simply been on pause for the last ten years or so, and are back with an album that’s every bit as infectious and endearing at ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’. So often you dread a favourite band’s ‘come back’, but this is a welcome exception. If you were a fan back in the day – you’ll be happy Dando’s stayed true to his sound, and at only 35 minutes long, it’s a short but sweet return to form from Evan Dando. Long may it last.

SOUND TEAM – Born To Please

The Texas based six-piece Sound Team step up to the plate with their debut single ‘Born To Please’, taken from their forthcoming album ‘Movie Monster’. Recorded at their own Big Orange studio, ‘Born To Please’ has a relentless beat, throbbing away as the track waltzes and meanders, blissfully chilled out at times, with passion searing through sporadically.

Charmingly familiar riffs and a multi textured sound combine to create a track that’s immediately likeable; the laid back Texan vibe combines with their indie sensibilities to produce a single that never quite grabs your attention with any one particular thing, but is a absolute gem of a track. One listen simply isn’t enough, and whilst you can’t pinpoint what’s so captivating about it – it simply curls its way into your memory. Frontman Matt Oliver’s vocals are engaging and sincere, backed up by his ‘team’ of friends, this is just the first offering off a debut album that could well be the surprise indie classic of the year. Close your eyes and let yourself be charmed.

Rebecca Geach‘s playlist:

THE DUNES – Socializing W/Life
(Curve Music)

How’s your day been? Depressing? Then I would not recommend Socializing W/Life for the instant uplifting remedy you need. Indeed, one might almost mistake the album for a rip off of Coldplay until track 6, when it mysteriously takes a deep dive into grunge.

It picks up a little in track 7, but never quite makes it back to the indie of the first few songs. For such an unusual mix of styles the listener might at least expect the orgy of depression to sound colourful and varied. Disappointingly however, I must used that dreaded word ‘samey’ to describe most of the songs. Dune really does try to add some diversity, but it can never quite depart from the bottomless pit of misery.

Having said that, Socilazing W/Life does have several redeeming melodies which are worth a listen. Hurry Up and The Easiest are solid tunes, but this album really does save the best till last. Lost is original and actually quite artistic, particularly in the way it starts and ends. It is a mesmerising tune which I admit to listening to over and over again. Ultimately, Socializing W/Life is no masterpiece but it’s also certainly no disaster.

THE LONDON APARTMENTS – Logistics And Navigation
(Beggars Banquet Records)

There is no beginning or end to Logistics And Navigation. The music seems to rotate in one circle, never changing and never moving away from the place where it all began. Apparently there are four tracks to this album, but apart from the five second gasp between songs, it sounds like one long 20 minute track to me. This is not to say that the music is bad. In fact Street Lights Are Soldiers kicks off with great promise.

There is a slow melodic beat interspersed with a smoky female voice. The mix of drums and electronics is smooth and original. It sounds as if Justin Langlois took his inspiration from Zero 7 and Air, but crucially he did not fall into the trap of copying them as is so easy for mystic-wannabee-musicians to do. No, he in fact fell into another, more common trap for all music artists-that of not making his songs sounding significantly different from each other. Maybe that is why The London Apartments ends at track 4. The even thump of electronic mystique soon ran out of steam. But for quick relaxation, 20 minutes of The London Apartments is just right. It’s easy to close your eyes to and go to sleep – and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.

(Domino Recordings)

I’m not quite sure what I’m listening to. Is it folk? Is it blues? Is it Country? Or is it just the ramblings of a man who simply picked up his guitar and just decided to strum out some songs. It does not matter. Whatever the category or categories, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s The Letting Go is heart renderingly beautiful. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has a reputation for pleasing both folk and blues lovers alike, but The Letting Go should please anyone who has a profound love of genuinely good music.

Its art not only lies in its soulful harmonies but also in its deception. On first playing it, the listener can be easily fooled into thinking that there is a strong orchestra supporting the music, but actually it only took five talented people to make the magic. With Dawn McCarthy’s pure voice stringing along Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s raw rasps to a haunting instrumental background, the mix is perfect. There was only one track, The Seedling, which, overcrowded with disjointed sounds, was hard to tune into. But hey, you can’t have it all, and 11/12 fantastic tracks certainly isn’t bad for an album. The Letting Go is perfect for putting your feet up and relaxing to. Go on, you know you deserve it.

THE EARLY YEARS – The Early Years
(Beggars Banquet Records)

The Early Years self-titled debut album is the definitive modern psychedelic trip. Having learnt well from their ancestors -The Beach Boys, U2, The Velvet Underground and of course the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour – The Early Years have twisted that old hippie formula of sitars and guitars into something new and shining. The band wastes no time. Track one, Ones And Zeros, lifts you up and never chucks you down. Those faints echoes of, “Freedom, freedom…” weaved into heart thumping beats and mind flowing chords, are liberating and exciting.

The unusually titled Musik Der Fuhen Jahre, is a five minute twisting, spinning hallucinatory spiral. The wordless track demonstrates the musical talents of the band. Do not mistake this album though for one plateau of high in the sky tunes. Every song is dynamic and often filled with something a little bit more than psychedelica. For example, Song For Elizabeth is a subtle tribute to a long lost love. The Early Years is not just a chill out session but also an inspiring piece of work. It’s easy to sleep to and it’s easy to think to. What more could you want from an album? For a debut, The Early Years is definitely an impressive start, and hopefully an indication of great things to come.

THE VIEW – Superstar Tradesman
(1965 Records)

Full of energy and a happy go lucky beat, Superstar Tradesman is a great song to just get up and bounce to. Every second is valuable bouncing time. It is no surprise then that The View is turning out to be a big must-see band. After the success of its first single Wasted Little DJs, Superstar Tradesman has been released to give music lovers another little taste of what’s to come in The View’s upcoming debut album. Superstar Tradesman is definitely a good wetting of the appetite, but be warned, it will leave you craving more. Supported by strong bass and drum, and lined with steely vocals, the four man band have created a simple light hearted song. On playing this you know it’s going to be a great day and more importantly, a great night.

Alex Gosman‘s playlist.

AGAINST ME! – Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!!
(Fat Wreck Chords)

It seems that just about every band and their dog are releasing live albums these days, although such recordings are rarely essential. In the case of Against Me‘s effort, the only incentive for die-hard fans is a solitary new track, but overall this record serves as a good overview of the Floridian folk-punk quartet’s career to date. The cynics that criticised them for their recent signing to Sire Records will hopefully take ‘Americans Abroad…’ as proof that the band’s righteous ire burns as fiercely as ever; every song here is infused with all the conviction you’d expect from such seasoned road-dogs as this lot. If you’re not yet familiar with Against Me, here’s a chance to catch up.

THE BRONX – The Bronx

A hint to bands wanting to recreate the energy of their live set on record; throw all that stupid multi-track/overdub crap aside and just record it live. That’s what LA quartet The Bronx did on their debut, and although the band’s hardcore fury has been tempered slightly on this second album, the likes of ‘Shitty Future’ and ‘Rape Zombie’ are sure to bring a smile to the face of those who yearn for Nick Oliveri’s return to Queens Of The Stone Age. There’s no time wasted here, as the band rip through thirteen songs in just over half an hour; just rock n’ roll played fast and raw – the way it oughta be.

FIVE O’ CLOCK HEROES – Bend To The Breaks

The words ‘scratchy guitar-pop’ may have been tainted somewhat by the legions of second-rate Libertines copyists currently clogging up the toilet circuit nationwide, but thankfully NYC’s Five O’ Clock Heroes are a different proposition entirely. ‘Bend To The Breaks’ is more reminiscent of The Cars than The Clash, more Joe Jackson than Joey Ramone. Essentially, it’s a record of unashamedly catchy tunes that will quickly take up residence in your brain. Songs like ‘Time On My Hands’ and ‘White Girls’ are infused with a healthy dose of funk and addictive choruses, so get your dancing shoes on and enjoy.

FUCKED UP – Hidden World
(Jade Tree)

As you might have guessed from their name, Fucked Up aren’t out to make friends, or to fit into someone else’s preconceptions of what constitutes ‘punk rock’. This – their debut album – takes in the fury of early American hardcore, shout-along choruses reminiscent of British street-punk and passages of drawn-out instrumentation allegedly inspired by (ahem) Pink Floyd. Bizarre as it might sound, this mix of influences works a treat; with the band creating a raw, twisted sound that is both confusing and deeply compelling. If you like your punk rock to be dangerous and unpredictable, then it’s time to get Fucked Up.

TILLY AND THE WALL – Bottoms Of Barrels
(Moshi Moshi)

Two guys and three girls, one of whom tap dances in place of a drummer? It might seem gimmicky, but if ever there was a band to make me push aside my ever-growing cynicism for a while, Tilly And The Wall are it. The band are based in Omaha, Nebraska, and this is their second album of sweet folk-pop odes to love, friendship and the innocence of youth. There’s a mischievous sense of humour at work on songs like ‘Bad Education’ and future single ‘Sing Songs Along’ that could charm the birds from the trees. Seriously, if you’re feeling a bit jaded these days, give ‘Bottoms Of Barrels’ a spin; it’ll help re-discover your inner child.

UNEARTH – III: In The Eyes Of Fire
(Metal Blade)

Having stolen the show on the Sounds Of The Underground tour in London earlier this year, metalcore maestros Unearth have returned with their finest album to date. The Massachusetts quintet’s strengths lie not so much in reinventing hardcore-tinged metal as simply playing it harder, louder and more skillfully than most of their peers. ‘III: In The Eyes Of Fire’ sees the band sounding nothing short of savage, with songs like ‘March Of The Mutes’ and ‘This Time Was Mine’ guaranteed to whip any self-respecting moshpit into something resembling a war zone. A fresh shot of vitality into an increasingly over-crowded genre.

Jane Hawkes‘ playlist:


Razorlight return with the second single from their current self titled album and revisit the sound they do best with ‘America‘. In other words, it’s another slice of radio friendly goodness from the London four piece, which to a cynic would sound like it was well and truly made to cash in on the American market. Still, the less cynical of us would say, it’s a scrumptious sing along anthem made to be played in front of thousands. Whatever you think, you can’t deny Razorlight have a certain knack of tapping into your head with their harmonious tunes and ‘America‘ is certainly no exception.

JAMES DEAN BRADFIELD – English Gentleman
(Sony BMG)

What a difference a few years makes. Minus his Manics bandmates James Dean Bradfield lifts his second single from ‘The Great Western‘. It’s catchy enough and sparks thoughts that Bradfield maybe has a more mature outlook on life these days. Of course, it’s nowhere near the quality of older Manics tracks and that’s the problem here. Bradfield’s solo stuff is always going to get compared to the Manics and unfortunately this single falls somewhat short.

SEETHER – One Cold Night
(Wind Up/Sony BMG)

Shaun Morgan sounds like a man full of issues. With a much publicised break up with Evanescence songstrel Amy Lee, Shaun is clearly still full of angst if the lyrics on these live tracks are anything to go by. Taken from a show in Philadelphia’s Grape Street in February earlier this year ‘One Cold Night‘ is an acoustic, stripped down performance of some of their best songs. Seether are well known by their fans for performing acoustic versions of songs at their live shows so it makes sense that they would at last release a live album and bonus DVD which truth be told, is actually rather good. With obvious Kurt Cobain comparisons aside, Shaun has a glorious voice and tracks like Broken, Remedy and Gasoline are both delicate yet ballsy in their execution. Whilst probably not as successful on UK shores as they are in the US (their current release Karma & Effect has sold over 700,000 copies there and still counting) this CD shows how extraordinary they are live. Do not miss them when they tour the UK in October.

ESCAPE THE FATE – Dying is Your Latest Fashion.

Hurrah! It’s here at last. Escape The Fate‘s debut album that is. After a well received EP ‘There’s No Sympathy For The Dead’ and an appearance on the legendary Warped tour this summer it’s all going rather well for the boys from Vegas. Ok, they look like every other band around just now and sound similar to some but they have just enough creativity to edge them apart from bands like Atreyu and Senses Fail. Having a few huge tunes like ‘Situations’ and ‘Friends And Alibis’ doesn’t harm them any either. In fact, I’d bet my last fizzy cola bottle that this lot are going to be massive. Check this CD out for yourselves. You’re going to love it.

THE LONGCUT – Airtight Session EP.

When I saw The Longcut a few years ago in a dingy little pub in the back of beyond and I wasn’t sure if I was standing in piss or beer, it was a quiet affair. Just a handful of people and a stage as big as a postage stamp. Now with their videos on almost constant rotation on MTV2 and with much airplay by Zane Lowe, The Longcut release their Airtight Session EP and are shaping up to be quite the band. Quintessentially Mancunian, there are elements of The Stone Roses and Joy Division in their music even if it is sometimes deficient in variety. This EP shows progression, determination and most of all, clear talent. An absolute belter.

Joe Moynihan’s playlist

THE FRATELLIS – Costello Music
(Island Records)

In a generation that’s becoming vastly over-populated with those “Indie Cindy, lego haircut and polka dot dress” lot, more and more bands are flooding the airwaves to encourage them. At first glance, I dismissed The Fratellis as just another band following suit. Though, thanks to a truly “Epic” Essex Pong video, (search that shit on youtube, you won’t be disappointed!) with bouncy ‘Chelsea Dagger’ as the soundtrack I was proven otherwise and bought debut album “Costello Music“. What I heard was a harmless, Scottish-tinged, indie-pop record that’s as infectious as the clap (check the irony!).

The Glaswegian trio venture into every crevice of the indie-genre, with triumph, resulting in a solid and chart worthy debut. Perhaps my immediate dismissal was an over-reaction; the record is definitely a worthy investment for anyone looking for some happy-go-lucky beats to bop around to like a mentally detached sap on a rainy day. So fellas, don your skinny fit jeans and knitted sweaters, ladies, start combing your hair like Doc from Back to the Future and go hit up your local indie disco. From the top ladies and gentlemen, “Doo, do do doo, do do doo, doo do doo de doo”.

GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLY – Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager
(Atlantic Records)

I’m sitting here, sipping on a steaming caramel macchiato with the beautiful debut from Southend’s very own Sam Duckworth under that now infamous alias, pouring into my grateful ears and I can only feel an overwhelming sense of comfort. After a shaky start, playing to slowly growing fans in his local haven, Chinnerys, Sam has managed to strap a jet pack to his arse and fly up that ladder of music prestige. It’s about time the lad got some credit. I first saw him playing a small set in my local summer festival, though totally wankered, the potential from him shone through and I made sure I was present at his later, heart warming live shows as often as possible. He’s definitely gone a long way since then. ‘Chronicles‘ has that instant appeal factor to it; while charming your ears from the beginning, it leads you on a trip from cleverly written acoustic medleys, to finger clicking, head nodding, jazzy scores that make that caramel macchiato taste just that extra bit, bohemian. Spicy. Despite being unavoidably comparable to USA’s Conor Oberst, Sam manages to pull away, just that extra bit, and create something that’s been missing from the English music scene for way too long now.

(Capitol Records)

Somehow, it took Californian 5 piece SAOSIN 3 years, 2 member changes and a ridiculous amount of fiddling with songs before releasing their self-titled debut to the ever growing, awaiting fans, thankfully just before their impatience would have reduced them all to ripping their ears off in protest. So was it worth it?

I first heard the group in 2004 on some shoddy compilation CD free with a magazine. “I Can Tell There Has Been An Accident Here Earlier” demanded my attention more than if a drunken gentleman was to sporadically pummel me in the face with a screwdriver. Its immediate pounding beat alongside an addictive catchy riff had no trouble in getting my head to bump along to it, much to the hilarity of anyone on the same bus as me at the time. Although the agonisingly high-pitched vocalist, that could give Justin Hawkins a run for his money in the squashed testicle department, put me off slightly on first listen, it proved to be infectious and I soon sought after their previous releases. To my despair, there was only the one EP, ‘Translating The Name’. So, like many other fans I started to wait, and wait, and wait for an album.

Two years later, and bang, debut album frontin’ on the music store shelves. There was this awful feeling mind you, that all the excitement behind the album, would result in a bitter disappointment. Fortunately, SAOSIN hit the nail on the head with this, resulting in a beautifully produced, psychedelic and very likeable full-length which is proving to be one of the finest post-hardcore release of recent years. While it may lack the energy of some of their earlier work (in particular those with former singer Anthony Green, now of Circa Survive) it is still an album delicious enough to be in any post-hardcore lover’s collection. Just, for the love of God, don’t be fooled by the CD’s goodness and see them live. You may never hear it the same way again.

Nelson Bibb’s playlist.


For those who hark back to the good old days of rock where the women wore the make up and the men wore their hair long then you probably already know and love MMJ. For those of you that don’t then Okonokos, a double live album, just like they used to put out in the good old days, is a perfect introduction to a band who pride themselves on musicianship, top songs and good old-fashioned rock!

MMJ give a heavy nod towards Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lep Zep & even Pearl Jam, but by no means are stuck in the past, listen to One Big Holiday, Dancefloors or the sublime Golden and there is much more to their sound than rock throwback pastiche. The mastermind behind MMJ is Jim James, whose guitar playing, evoking many duels with fellow guitarist Carl Broemel, and incredible vocal talents are the heart and soul of the band, all conducted at the back by drummer Patrick Hallahan.

The Pit

The Pit – 11/09/06

When you’ve realised the weekend has flitted past you faster than you could ever have imagined and you can’t face the reality that there are 5 more long, drawn-out days until the next one, what you need is right here. The Pit will give you hope that despite that boring crappy jobs, there is some enjoyment out there. So get reading and get listening to what’s been recommended. On with the show…

Jane Hawkes’ stereo has been making friends with the soundwaves of these chosen few:

AKRON/FAMILY – Meek Warrior
(Young God Records)

If you are a fan of the stranger, slightly unhinged side of psychedelic indie such as The Polyphonic Spree and Broken Social Scene then Akron/Family are going to be right up your street. If you are not then be warned, Meek Warrior is some strange shit. Sounding like it’s influenced by a hundred different bands from The Velvet Underground to Pink Floyd with a little Bob Dylan thrown in for good measure, it’s a remarkable and artistically compelling listen and with the ever growing mountain of run of the mill indie-fads churning out the same old shit, that in itself makes Meek Warrior definitely worth a go. It’s possible however that on hearing the album in its entirety, you will sit and wonder whether what you just heard was unintentionally fantastic and a result of pure accident or whether it was simply a conscious endeavour stabbing at unique aspirations. Whatever, every now and then a little mystery is a good thing.

MASTODON – Capillarian Crest
(Warner Bros.)

Melodic, determined and rampant, Atlanta’s finest explode back on to the scene with an absolute ballbreaker of a single. Released on the back of well received appearances at the Carling Reading and Leeds Festival over the bank holiday weekend Capillarian Crest is taken from new album Blood Mountain which incidentally is their Warner Bros debut. Mixing the established Mastodon prog sound with more advanced sounds whilst still remaining tightly bound to their metal flagpole creates an insubordinately hair raising four and a half minutes. Not for the faint of heart.

THE WILDHEARTS – Geordie In Wonderland

The Wildhearts are one of those rare, energizing bands with an original sound executed to perfection. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing the boys live, you’ll know that the afore mentioned statement is right on the money. Now you can re-live the whole live experience once again and marvel at just how bloody good The Wildhearts are regardless of all the problems they have encountered both as a band and in their own lives. Taken from a performance at Scarborough Castle on September 17th 2005 it’s an invigorating run through all their hits. ‘Greetings From Shitsville’, ‘TV Tan’ and fan favourtite ’29 x The Pain‘ all make an appearance and remind you how decadent, sleazy, debauched rock n roll should be played. Stick this on loud and have yourselves a ball.

LESS THAN JAKE – The Rest Of My Life/Don’t Fall Asleep On The Subway
(Warner Bros)

As the last festivals of the summer pass by in a combination of cloud and rain (if you live up north anyway), Less Than Jake are the ones to come to the rescue to cheer us all up with two songs from their ‘In With The Out Crowd’ album plus an unreleased B-side. Singing about the last days of summertime in ‘Don’t Fall Asleep On The Subway’, its all very apt and ensues to be a soundtrack to hazy memories of some groovy festival moments even through all the shit weather. ‘The Rest Of My Life’ is perhaps one of the most radio-friendly Less Than Jake tracks to appear in recent years and could actually be mistaken for Good Charlotte/Blink 182/All American Rejects schtick. But don’t let that put you off, that aside it’s an infectious, uplifting slice of pop punk which will warm your cockles even on the cloudiest of days.

YEAH YEAH YEAHS – Cheated Hearts.

Karen O and her mob are seen to be the essence of cool by thousands of teens, why is anyone’s guess as it feels like an age since they produced anything that rocked like 2002’s self titled. Although 2006’s ‘Show Your Bones’ catapulted them into mainstream, the calibre of songs seem to lack the scuzz and grit of earlier stuff. Cheated Hearts is a prime example; enervating, contrived and damn right odious with wails of “I think I’m bigger than the sound” it seems the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have disappeared right up their own arseholes. Now that kids, is not cool.

Dee Massey has had the following soundtrack on as she cleans up after her new kitten time and time again:

ENTER SHIKARI – Mothership
(Ambush Reality)

Take some trance, euro pop synthesizers, some bleeps, adds a healthy does of screamo and kick ass guitars, and the result is a St Albans based four piece, Enter Shikari. Debut download only release ‘Mothership‘ takes you by the throat within seconds, screeching vocals tearing out at you over techno beats, guitars rip into you – it’s both innovative and addictive. Recorded by Justin Lockey (Yourcodenameis:milo) and mixed by Pedro Ferreira (Therapy?) the result is something that’s sparks the imagination, a full throttle glimpse at what these guys can produce. The UK’s indie scene seems to be forever churning out new Libertines-esque acts, so it’s a breathe of fresh air to see the post hardcore/screamo scene is still as vibrant as ever. Enter Shikari have captured the essence of a live show in these few minutes, it’s a shot of adrenaline to the heart – and show great promise of things to come.


The Automatic have captured a sound that is uniquely theirs, you’d never mistake an Automatic track for anyone else. The rasping vocals from Pennie backup the strong levels from frontman Rob, and the bouncing bassline and upbeat guitar sounds, are now familiar, after a summer of ‘ It is a Monster…?‘ being yelled across many a festival. Recover will get you nodding, it’s easy on the ear, and has all the right ingredients – but it’s a little too samey as the last two singles. In producing a signature sound the band seem to be sticking to it, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with it, how long before the audiences get bored with another identikit single?

TO MY BOY – I Am Xray
(Abeano Music)

After listening to To My Boy’s debut single, you need to lie down in a darkened room with a couple of nurofen. Robotic vocals over hypnotic disco techno beats, recorded in bedroom sessions wind themselves around you until you’re submerged in neon flashes. This electronic fever is surprisingly addictive, and with Hot Chip paving the way for techno geeks into the mainstream, this glorious introduction to this band is a real treat for the ears. Being a self proclaimed technophobe, it’s exciting to come across a dance act who’ve combined the best of guitar, dance beats, drum machines, pro tools malarkey and the like, and come out with something that really shines through.

THE RAPTURE – Get Myself Into It

I can’t help but think of UB40 for some reason when listening to The Rapture’s first single of their forthcoming album. It’s a commercial, radio friendly ray of sunshine from the dance rockers. They seemed to have gone down a more pop route, with Luke Jenner’s vocals surrounded by a dance beat, sax and a disco throbbing bassline, that’ll find new fans for them, but could alienate others. There’s more than a passing nod to Bloc Party, and it’s no surprise to see that Paul Epworth was on the desk. All in all, this introduction to their forthcoming album ‘Pieces of People We Love’ is funky and shimmering, a laid back summer evening tune, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea…

THE CRIMEA – Baby Boom

The Crimea have been simmering underneath the radar for a few months, relentlessly touring and working on the new album – but with the release of the atmospheric, multi facetted Baby Boom, they have the weapon with which to really crack into the mainstream. Baby Boom, a mainstay of their stunning live shows, sets your senses alight with twinkling keyboards, soothing bass and wailing, almost crying, guitars combining with Dave MacManus’s edgy and breaking vocals. The lyrics are both comical and tragic ‘we’re just a bunch of buffalos, getting slaughtered’ is closely followed by the wonderfully comic chorus lines of ‘You can call me Fred Flintstone, Tarzan King of The Jungle..’. It’s an inspirational wide sound, every piece of the jigsaw fitting together for a track that is both melancholic but strangely uplifting, a dark sky lit by sparkling stars. The Crimea are one of the hardest working bands out there, and well deserving of success. Baby Boom is a great showcase for them and it’s little wonder it’s been Track of The Week on Radio One – and with their slot at V Festival, here’s hoping they’ve won over the crowds.

PANIC! AT THE DISCO – Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
Once again the Las Vegas scenesters Panic! At The Disco belie their age with a fantastically punchy track that most of us can relate to in one way or another. Ever been screwed over – this is the cathartic little offering for you then. Pinning you to your chair ‘Lying the most Fun..’ is another fast paced, catchy hook laden punky little ditty, the upbeat chorus balancing out the vitriol filled lyrics.

If you still think Panic are just another emo boy band, this is the track to change your mind. “I’ve got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck, than any boy you’ll ever meet’ Brandon Urie spits out in his now familiar breathy vocals.

But this is no pity party, Urie isn’t about to go cutting up his wrists over this girl, there’s a eerie calmness to the proceedings, a quiet angry resilience balanced by flourishes of guitars, ‘Is it still me who makes you sweat? Am I who you think of in bed? When the lights are dim and your hands are shaking as you’re sliding off your dress? Then think of what you did and how I hope to God he was worth it’.

This is yet another stand alone single taken from their now platinum album, ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’, and there are plenty more would-be single bursting to be released. With storming tracks like this, its clear that Panic At The Disco are eons ahead of the curve, and with 5 MTV Music Video Award nominations up their sleeve, they’re becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Cathy Reay has been rocking back and forth in an unlit room to these maniacal sounds:

BABYSHAMBLES: BACK TO THE BUS – What Goes On Tour Stays On Tour!

The musical content often overlooked in favour of Pete Doherty’s latest drugged-up, foulmouthed, who’s-that-girl-on-his-arm? nightly shenanigans, it’s easy to forget that Babyshambles are more than just part of the 00’s new wave of shaggy indie bands.

In this release, the group take us through an express train of what they claim to be their ‘on the road’ soundtrack. Featuring classic influences like The Clash, Johnny Thunders, Belle and Sebastian, the Stone Roses and Burt Jansch, amongst others, the songs handpicked cleverly depict a lot of what we imagine Babyshambles’ day-to-day life to be like. The Clash’s ‘Jail Guitar Doors’ is probably the most appropriate- “Let me tell you ’bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine/A little more every day/Holding for a friend til the band do well”- Christ, it’s like it was written purely about Doherty.

Surprisingly the band hasn’t picked the standout tracks from each artist, moreso the ones that relate to the work and life of Babyshambles. Although great that they’ve done that, it does mean that The Cazals, Littlan’s and Esther Phillips are portrayed in a much weaker light than they deserve- and considering that the people that buy this probably won’t know of any of the artists minus The Clash, it’s probably not the greatest selling point for the rest of the record.

Finished version includes an exclusive acoustic track from the shambolic fivesome and backstage video footage.

(Too Pure)

Cited as having a much more complex sound than that of their primary influences (B-52’s and The Cure), The Rogers Sisters are actually not The Puppini Sisters with a different name (as one might assume), but actually another pretty damn dreary indie band. Oh joy! The swing, swerve and swagger parade kicks a tin trashcan about for a little while before we’re exposed to just exactly what it is that they feel sets them apart from their contemporaries – an iPod (whoops, we mean deeply intricate, layered sonic Zeppelin-style waves). Electro snoozefest heading your way.

‘Why Won’t You’ has received rave reviews across the board despite it’s simple three chord design and lack of any direction worth pursuing. Recently it’s become questionable as to whether NME journos actually use their ears to listen to the music they rave about. They told us The Rogers Sisters would make us want to “party hard!” but all we want to do is turn this shit off so that this pseudo-guitar rock band don’t tarnish the image of our idols any further.

OK GO – Here It Goes Again

Superceded by one of the quirkiest music videos to explode Youtube’s trafficking numbers (1.5 million downloads within 24 hours, to be exact), Ok Go are releasing their second single from mediocre hit sophomore album ‘Oh No’. The video concept for ‘Here It Goes Again’ is simple; it features a rather amateur recording of the band performing an elaborate dance routine on treadmills. Perhaps the metaphorical context is written in the machinery used, the odd foursome obviously wanting to convey the monotony of whatever their song blathers on about.

Unfortunately for them, the track itself is quite mundane and repetitive-a few chords, some upfront chanting and the usual brash guitar work and occasional thump of the kick drum- although over so quickly that you barely have time or patience to notice. But somehow the fact that the video is so weird and the band is so garish makes their music more worthy of a smile. And if you can’t smile at the hilarity of their freaky moves in the video, you’re probably better off reading Aiden reviews anyway…

Alex Gosman has been recovering from Reading Festival flu with this musical equivalent of chicken soup:

THE DRAFT – In A Million Pieces

Given that The Draft are made up of three former members of Hot Water Music (plus a new guitarist), it’s no surprise that ‘In A Million Pieces’ is often reminiscent of the much-missed post-hardcore legends. However, whilst singer/guitarist Chris Wollard’s ragged tones remain familiar, The Draft are musically a folk-tinged and (gasp!) more polished affair. Quite simply, this is a record bursting with great tunes; proudly anthemic songs that could sound great on the radio, but retain a raw edge and variety that HWM fans are sure to love. You’ll be singing along to ‘Lo Zee Rose’, ‘Alive Or Dead’ and ‘Wired’ before you know it.

GALLOWS – Orchestra Of Wolves
(In At The Deep End)

On the evidence of their debut album, you wouldn’t want to meet Gallows late at night in a dark alley. ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ is a brilliantly twisted hybrid of hardcore energy, metallic bludgeon and all-out noise warfare, topped off with vocalist Frank Carter’s deranged howl. The band overcame countless mishaps to make this album; and this is reflected in every track, with the likes of ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘Six Years’ infused with a sense of urgency and malevolent rage. All you oh-so-trendy metalcore types take note: bands like Gallows will eventually destroy you. One of the best debuts of 2006, no less.

LAMB OF GOD – Sacrament

Arguably one of the finest American metal bands of recent times, ‘Sacrament’ could well see Lamb Of God replicating their homeland success worldwide. This is the band’s most coherent and savagely confident work to date; a feast of thunderously heavy Pantera-esque grooves offset by razor-sharp guitar work, with bonafide anthems of aggression in songs like ‘Foot To The Throat’ and recent single ‘Redneck’. There’s also a devilish sense of humour at work here: “The only catchy hook I’ve got/Is the one in my bleeding gut!” roars frontman Randy Blythe on ‘Forgotten (Lost Angels)‘. Pure American metal doesn’t get much better than this.


Allegedly named after the debut album from NYC hardcore crew CIV, Set Your Goals feature two vocalists and deal in a melodic but robust brand of hardcore punk. Sounding not unlike New Found Glory might if they’d been brought up listening to Gorilla Biscuits and drinking their own body weight in Red Bull, ‘Mutiny!’ is relentlessly upbeat, with catchy tunes and shout-along choruses in abundance. Sure, it’s a little cheesy and over-polished in places, but that title-track riff alone is almost guaranteed to make you bounce. So turn this one up loud, and embrace the positivity.

(Household Name)

The Sussex/Hampshire area of the south coast has become somthing of a breeding ground for DIY punk/hardcore scenes in recent times, and Portsmouth trio You, Me And The Atom Bomb are a ‘shore’ bet for success (sorry, I couldn’t resist it). Seriously, though…this band play speedy, melodic hardcore with a raw edge, in the vein of bands like Avail and Hot Water Music, and they do it very well. Songs like ‘Proud To Say’ and ‘No Surprises’ are rough diamonds that will work their way into your brain within a couple of listens, and there’s no let up in passion or energy throughout the record. They’re probably playing near you soon, so go and sea them…

Ryan Bird has been backing Oxford United’s promotion push with this catalogue of thrash goodness:

SLAYER – Reign In Blood (1986)

While Metallica were raising the stakes in thrash technicality and Dave Mustaine prepared to unleash Megadeth on a global scale, it was this now classic cut that would steal the show in 1986. Short, sharp and furious in its delivery, it succeeded in producing a longer lasting impression in just 29 minutes than many could ever have thought possible.

SLAYER – South Of Heaven (1988)

The follow-up to ‘Reign In Blood’ may have seen Slayer take their foot off the gas where sheer pace alone was concerned, but there was enough groove-laden heaviness and deeply sinister poetry packed into its ten tracks to ensure that they lost none of their now unstoppable momentum.

SLAYER – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

Just 12 months after release, drummer Dave Lombardo would leave the band for the next ten years, opting to spend more time with his wife than touring the globe. While cracks were beginning to show behind the scenes, ‘Seasons…’ remained a typically relentless affair, rightfully earning its spot in the band’s definitive ‘Big 3’.

SLAYER – God Hates Us All (2001)

Undoubtedly their best and most snarling effort in over a decade, it also arrived with typical Slayer-like controversy. In a cruel twist of fate, label chief and production guru Rick Rubin had the album’s release pushed back several months in July of 2001, with a revised date of September 11th taking its place.

SLAYER – Christ Illusion (2006)

With Lombardo behind the kit once more and Rubin taking a back seat from production duties, Slayer return in August sounding bigger and badder than ever. If ever there were an album worthy of occupying the slot directly below that of the Reign/South/Seasons pyramid, this would undoubtedly be it.

The Pit

The Pit – 03/08/06

Yes people, the raging, stinging scorpion of a jugganaught that is The Pit is back, ready to blow those little socks off that your mummy made you wear.

This time round we welcome new writer Cathy Reay, who joins us this week and whilst you’re reading The Pit, why not do it with the new Crossfire Indie Show or the latest Heavy Shit Show coming out of your speakers? You know it makes sense…

Delightful Dee Massey is bugging out to:

RAZORLIGHT – Razorlight

Despite the fact that Johnny Borrell is looking increasingly like a human tampon (head to white attire is never a good look when you’re that svelte) Razorlight‘s follow up to their hugely successful ‘ Up All Night‘ sees the band make good the promises laid down in the first album. Building on their signature guitar sound, the four piece have produced an upbeat, engaging array of tracks, albeit with a softer, perhaps more commercially appealing sound.

Tracks like ‘America’ and ‘Before I Fall to Pieces’, whilst endearingly melodic and summer filled, don’t have the same bite as tracks like ‘Vice’ or ‘Somewhere Else’. The band have taken a new direction, which might not appeal to all, but this album is definitely a grower, give it a few listens before casting judgement. ‘Who Needs Love’ and ‘Los Angeles Waltz’ stand out, but it’s the first single ‘In the Morning’ which has the kick and verve in it, which is lacking in the rest of the track listing.

(Sore Point Records)

The third single taken from their debut album ‘Actions‘ see the Leicester based four piece My Awesome Compilation notch it up a gear with their infectious brand of pop punk. Upbeat and starting to sound a little like Blink182, Chris Driver’s vocals pave the way for swirling, smiling beats – this is a perfect summer track from a band of brothers who’ve been plugging away for years.

Whilst previous offerings have been punk driven and higher octane, ‘Awake’ is a short lived, mellow sun soaked track, the perfect soundtrack to a balmy evening, the sharpened points of the surprisingly emotive lyrics padded by the warm guitars and upbeat vibe. ‘Awake’ prove My Awesome Compilation are more than your archetypal good time band- catch them on tour over the summer.

MONEEN – If Tragedy Is Appealing, Then Disaster’s An Addiction

Rumour has it that when Moneen recorded their album ‘The Red Tree’, the session was so intensive and so stressful that the amps and pedals in the studio quite literally went up in smoke – and the first (downloadable) single from that combustible album ‘If Tragedy Is Appealing, Then Disaster’s an Addiction’ is crammed full of pent up energy just waiting to explode out of your speakers.

It kicks off with a tumbling beat, heartbeat quick, levels rising, months of touring have produced a vibrant, engaging and jagged arrangement, and the first single combines all their best attributes into a high octane explosion of sound. Their intense live show has been perfectly captured by producer Brian McTernan (who also produced the equally spikey Thrice). They’ve managed to sidestep the ’emo’ tag with a fast paced, heart in your mouth single – Moneen are the best thing to happen to the Canadian rock scene since…well… ever?

BIG HAND – Day & Night
(Self Released)

When a band’s recording their debut album in the legendary Air Studios you know they must be doing something right. When Chris Nutall caught some of one of their notorious live shows at The Barfly, he was so impressed he offered to help them out, and so the four piece found themselves recording in the hallowed studios of Air.

Big Hand are a band who have universal appeal, whether rock, hip hop or indie schmindie is your bag, these guys have an uncanny knack of plastering a smile onto your face and lifting your spirits, and their EP ‘ Day & Night’ does just that. Five tracks of good time ska, the opener ‘ The Trumpet’ lulls you into a false sense of security before the Caribbean vibe waves in, gentle reggae tinged velvet vocals and a bouncing rhythm.

This EP just makes you want to dance; it’s laid back with a feel good vibe to life you out of the lowest of lows. ‘Pirates’ stand out, the tempo kicks up a notch – it brings in the sunshine with every trumpet call. It’s easy to understand why Big Hand have gained such a huge following, this is food for the soul, who needs Prozac when you’ve got these guys?


Dashboard’s a strange conundrum, when once just a side project from Further Seems Forever’s ex frontman Chris Carrabba, he took to the stage sandwiched between bands on the Florida hardcore scene, with his acoustic guitar and produced tracks to melt the coldest heart, takes of heartbreak from a relationship breaking down to betrayal and infidelity.

The tracks took wings and he slid uneasily into the mainstream, and suffered the same backlash cries of sell-out that many have taken on the chin before him. There’s no denying the guy is a talented writer, the hooks he spins out, the raw emotional twirling on every line, that way he can capture a certain feeling, a depth of spirit – without being bland. The first single of the new album ‘Don’t Wait’ is a slice of soaring melody, urged along by a reassuring bass, Carrabba’s familiar vocals coaxing the listener to ‘lay your armour down..’, let yourself be swept along from chorus to chorus, the guitars washing over you.

He’s moved on from the raw hurt of ‘Screaming Infidelities’, the vitriol of ‘Saints and Sailors’, and the overwhelming joy of ‘Hands Down’, to a more mature sound, a dramatic track with an epic soaring quality. Forget your preconceptions about Dashboard and enjoy some truly talented songwriting.

Cathy Reay has hopped, skipped and jumped into the Crossfire crew to the following sounds:

HUMANZI – Tremors

They certainly do what it says on the, er, album title… or do they? Humanzi may have gotten too big for their boots with their startlingly samey debut. Who said loud is always a good thing? ‘Diet Pills and Magazines’, the first single to be ripped and also the opening song is a choice tune to begin with. It’s fiery; pop but dirty (and not in the Christina Aguilera way). Nothing radically new for the indie scene, which is obviously what these kids want to be at the forefront of, but presented by such an edgy, loud, spell-binding voice that you can’t help but want to either dance or sing along – or both.

Unfortunately it all goes a bit downhill after that. The following tracks have such a similar beat to each other that it’s difficult to distinguish where one ends and the next begins. But none of them are able to match up to the firestarting intro – perhaps if that’d been left until the end I would have had nothing good to compare the rest to, but then again I doubt I would have listened for the duration of the disc anyway.

A definite dancefloor hit for visitors of indie rock clubs, but nothing here to prove any hint of staying power. They’ll be a feature band in NME next week, in the listings a month after but a year down the line NME won’t even remember who they are. Will you?

JAMES MORRISON – You Give Me Something

Many music critics have already lumped this 21 year old bright-eyed Derby fellow in with the James Blunt crowd, but no self-respecting, eager young voice deserves that sort of diminishing label. When Blunt finally retreats to one of his stately country homes and a work schedule filled with regular slots at Mecca Bingo, Morrison‘s marketing campaign will continue to thrive, focusing on the boy’s aesthetically charming sound and appearance.

One of the major differences in the James’ is that the annoying one was posh before he started making music, whereas this loveable creature is branded as more of an “I worked hard to get where I am” story. Couple that with the fact that his small, fresh-faced physique automatically classes him as vulnerable, impressionable, naïve etc and I guarantee people won’t be able to stop themselves from falling under his spell.

The song is, admittedly, heavily laden with cheese. Soulful as it may be, Morrison is obviously counting on a loyal female fanbase as it’s extremely unlikely that members of the opposite sex would even dare admit to enjoying his music. But there’s something so sincere, captivating and inescapable about this young man’s music that the fact that he could probably woo the entire female population of Great Britain into bed with him suddenly doesn’t seem like such an outrageous idea…

ORSON – Happiness

Having failed to make a mark in their native land, generally assumed by us to have the only worthwhile opinion of music (ever) – the big ol’ US of A -, it’s surprising that Orson would be able to glide right into chart success in their native’s mini replica. But they have. Debut album ‘Bright Idea‘ hit number one here in the UK and the first single to be lifted from it, ‘No Tomorrow‘, was more than difficult to avoid on Radio 1’s rotation. The burning question is: what have they got that’s made them into such an overnight success?

The answer? Still trying to work that one out. ‘Happiness‘ is the second single from the record and is of a lower tempo than most of the other material. The singer sounds a bit like a cross between Bon Jovi and Spiral of the latest Big Brother, although veering dangerously towards the latter. His ability to actually sing is restricted to the chorus which is catchy, but nothing outstanding. The verses and bridge are when his Goldie Lookin’ Chain influences kick in and he seems unsure of what direction to push himself in. Settling for flatness, this is ultimately what makes the song such a let down. Though he’s not completely to blame, the music is pretty hollow and uninspiring too. Not a bad song per say, just sapped of powerful direction and taken over by fear and self-restriction.


Boasting five tracks (four of which are previously unheard mixes) instead of just the one, this single release appears more like a rare EP than anything else. Though it’s obvious which of the five is about to tear up commercial radio-ah, or maybe not. The Raconteurs-say that name to your friends and they probably wouldn’t be able to hum a line, despite the fact that the album garnered a #2 spot earlier this year.

So, ‘Hands‘. Introduced by a simple little drum solo that catches you completely off-guard, effectively grabbing one’s attention from the offset, it develops with a sturdy, formulated pace of mellowed verses and a crashing, powerful chorus. The chorus is quickly signalled by faster drumming and, er, a bit more guitar work, creating the impression that the fuel behind this band is consistently very basic. Coupled with the fact that the vocals are a little monotone, this ensures that ‘Hands‘ might be a nice enough song, but definitely won’t be the groundbreaking, catchy-as-hell anthem the Raconteurs are searching for.

Our lovable punk Alex Gosman has been planning his holidays to these records:

THE AGGROLITES – The Aggrolites

At first it’s hard to believe that the Aggrolites come from Southern California, an area hardly renowned as a mecca for traditional reggae, when their sound is more reminiscent of late 60’s Jamaica. Songs like ‘Time To Get Tough’ and ‘Work To Do’ are awash with soulful vocals, laid-back grooves and swirls of organ; the band creating a sound that is simultaneously fresh and vital, but also respectful of early reggae pioneers like Toots And The Maytals and the Wailers.If this current heat-wave is getting on your nerves, then try relaxing with a cold drink and ‘The Aggrolites’ on your stereo.

(Breaking World)

Having revived the legacy of bands like Fishbone and Bad Brains in fine style on their 2003 debut ‘Songs Of Innocence And Experience’, Cardiff’s Adequate Seven have pumped their hardcore funk to new heights on ‘Here On Earth’. Quite simply, the likes of ‘Head Up High’ and ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ are gonna make you bounce; a feast of smart lyrics and grooves so tight and fat that you’d swear George Clinton himself was at the controls. If you’re getting impatient for the next Capdown record, then ‘Here On Earth’ should tide you over nicely. Brilliant Seven, more like.

HEAVENS – Patent Pending

Given that one half of Heavens is none other than Alkaline Trio vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, it’s perhaps unsurprising that his distinctive voice and darkly romantic lyrics lend his side-project’s debut album a certain familiarity. However, he’s left the music itself to multi-instrumentalist Josiah Steinbrick, who has forsaken speed and power chords for programmed beats, understated Cure-esque melodies and a twisted art-pop nous. Not an immediately addictive record; but given time, ‘Patent Pending’ will reveal many a subtle delight.

THE PIPETTES – We Are The Pipettes
(Memphis Industries)

The songs of the Ronettes and other 60’s girl group favourites evoked an innocent, wholesome image. Not the case for Brighton trio the Pipettes, who add a humorous feminist slant and some Blondie style punk-pop energy to these classic influences on their debut album. Gems like ‘Tell Me What You Want’ and recent single ‘Pull Shapes’ are drenched in Spector-esque strings and sweet harmonies, and with fourteen songs over 33 minutes, ‘We Are The Pipettes’ doesn’t outstay its welcome. Oh, and for the record, my favourite Pipette is Riotbecki.


Having dealt with the death of both his parents as a teenager, William Elliott Whitmore could be forgiven for indulging in morbid self-introspection à la Staind. Instead, he’s found solace in the music of his rural roots; a mix of country and bluegrass that often resembles the work of Johnny Cash and Ralph Stanley. Most of the songs on ‘Song Of The Blackbird’ feature Whitmore accompanied solely by his trusty banjo, but his soulful rasp shines through equally well on full ‘band’ efforts like ‘The Chariot’ and ‘Red Buds’. Truly, this is music to soothe the soul.

Jane Hawkes has been uncontrollably dancing in the street thanks in no small part to:

AUDIOSLAVE – Original Fire
(Interscope Records/Epic)

Audioslave return with new single ‘Original Fire’, taken from their forthcoming third album ‘Revelations‘. To be fair, listening to this isn’t much of one because you know what’s coming before you even hear it. Chris Cornell’s raspy vocals, habitual Tom Morello solo and consistent but dull drums and bass from Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford all make for a dreary come back. It’s likely that in the just over 3 and a half minutes it takes to listen to Original Fire, you may have fallen into a deep coma. Desperately disappointing.

(Double Impact Management)

‘Whoooooooooooo?’ I hear you cry. Cast your minds back some time to BBC 1’s Fame Academy. He was the loony one that was often seen swaggering around trying to emulate Liam Gallagher and Mick Jagger and rolling about on the floor. This continued after leaving Fame Academy too, with Brame being photographed worse for wear falling out of every party going. But now, a few years on, it seems he has decided to sober up and shake the label of reality TV wannabe to pursue a career as a credible musician. ‘Wake Up’ is spurred on by the spirit of 90’s rock and recalls early Primal Scream and Smashing Pumpkins with Brame sounding eerily like Billy Corgan and although it’s not earth shattering, it’s glossy chorus and slinky guitar is screaming for masses of radio airplay. There are aspects of promise and there could be more to this boy than the chart-friendly tag suggests.

ESCAPE THE FATE – There’s No Sympathy For The Dead

Escape The Fate hail from Vegas, home of The Killers, Panic! At The Disco and class entertainment like Siegfried & Roy but thankfully they bear no resemblance to any of them. In fact their debut mini album is good. So good in fact it barely matters that this has all been done before. Much of this impressive debut is redolent of Senses Fail & Underoath with its thick guitars and soaring choruses and needs to be played at brain rattling volume for best results. Roll on the full length album…

VARIOUS – Unsound

Anyone who calls themselves a punk fan will probably own at least one of the legendary compilations that were Punk-O-Rama. But now as Epitaph, well known for being a punk label have broadened their horizons somewhat and started to sign more and more hip hop and hardcore artists Punk-O-Rama, after ten years has been revamped to reflect the change. Which aint a bad thing, so me ole ma says ‘a change is as good as a rest’.

So now called Unsound, you get 19 tracks on the CD and a 10 track DVD which is good value for your beans. Featuring the likes of Pennywise, Bad Religion and Bouncing Souls alongside Converge & Some Girls who nestle between Dangerdoom and The Robocop Kraus its all pretty diverse. Also featuring some less well known bands like The Matches and Youth Group, who do a natty cover of Alphaville’s 80’s classic Forever Young, all are worth investigating. So what are you waiting for? Buy, buy, buy.

SNOWDEN – Anti Anti
(Jade Tree)

Sensitive and packed with enticing tunes, Atlanta’s Snowden tick almost every box with their Jade Tree debut ‘Anti Anti’. Their sound is slightly 80’s inspired with hints of early Cure and New Order mixed with tinges of more up to date bands like Placebo, Beck, Coldplay and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs it’s and unpredictable yet beautiful album. Actually, there isn’t much else around at the moment that sounds quite like this, which is an absolute godsend. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking for something to get angry to or thrash about to, this isn’t it. It’s more your at home with some friends, chilling and having a beer music, which appeals greatly. Delicate guitars weave in and out of the albums fluent percussion and although not instantly catchy, give it some time. It’ll grow on you like mould.