Monday, May 16, 2011

"With no lights on and no body or soul, you've made a joke of every fucking body you know"

The Computers - This Is The ComputersProduced by the incomparable Speedo (John Reis) of Rocket From The Crypt fame, This is The Computers continues the blaring sonic assault established on You Can't Hide From... by The Computers. Speedo also happens to contribute baritone guitar parts and keyboards to many of the tracks on this album, which was recorded live to tape.

Musically, The Computers play high energy, balls to the wall rock and roll and care very little about what anyone may think, which the band acknowledges in the song "Yeah Yeah Yeah" with the lyrics, "We want to make something we care about and need to create something that matters to us. Be fucking rebels or fucking revolutionaries. We are going to rock any way we see fit." Songs like "Music Is Dead" and the previously mentioned "Yeah Yeah Yeah" touch upon the band's feelings and ethics on music with such unbridled passion that you can't help but to scream and shout along with vocalist Screaming Al Kershaw, while songs like "Rhythm Revue" will leave you breathless from dancing your ass off. 

If you like raw, ferocious music with a classic rock and roll swagger, you might want to do yourself a favor and put on your dancing shoes because these four boys from Exeter know what they're doing.

Verdict: 5/5
Sounds like: Rocket From the Crypt and The Bronx had a lovechild that was raised on classic rock and roll
Favorite Tracks: "Hot Damnocles," "Rhythm Revue," "Yeah Yeah Yeah," "Music is Dead"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"And now she's shaking and drying her tears on her sleeve, where her heart used to be."

Freeze the Atlantic, which contains ex-members of Hundred Reasons and Reuben, recently dropped their debut EP, Colour by Numbers. As a fan of Reuben, I looked forward to some fairly impressive music. What I heard, however, was music and vocals that felt like something I would have listened to in high school.

Still, there are moments that make this a promising preview of things to come. The last half of "Waking Up" is very Reuben-esque, which can never be a bad thing, and flips the song around completely. Jon Pearce and Guy Davis are a strong rhythm section and stand out clearly in the mix, while vocalist Chris Knott, who at times gives off a Patrick Stump feel, really shines on "Broken Bones (acoustic)." The guitar work, however, isn't anything above average, which is a shame due to the fact that Andy Gilmour can do so much more for this band.

Overall, this is a decent debut and I look forward to hearing more from Freeze the Atlantic. Hopefully, it will live up to what fans of the members's previous bands know these guys are capable of.

Verdict: 3/5 Alibis
Sounds like: High School
Favorite Tracks: "Waking Up," "Broken Bones (acoustic)"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bands You Should Be Listening To: Streetlight Manifesto

Streetlight Manifesto is a seven-piece third-wave ska band from New Jersey that deserves more credit and recognition than they receive. Largely a product of the genius of lead singer and guitarist, Tomas Kalnoky, the band's songs are exceptionally well-written. Kalnoky initially writes the songs using an acoustic guitar. The band later takes this blueprint and fine-tunes it, cleverly combining guitar riffs typical of ska acts with intricate horn breakdowns. In short, these guys are brilliant musicians. Any band that can incorporate a horn section rendition of Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5" into one of their songs ("If and When We Rise Again") deserves all kinds of praise.

Just last year, the band released an album of cover songs, titled 99 Songs of Revolution. Covers of songs like "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service and "Just" by Radiohead showcase Streetlight's ability to rework songs into a masterpiece all their own. It's been over three years since the band released any original material, but Kalnoky recently revealed that they had been in the studio recording a new album. The album will be released this year, though a date has not been set. To say that I'm excited would be an understatement.

"If and When We Rise Again"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Kingdoms will rise and fall and we'll be the same as before"

Let me just preface this article by telling you what I went through to review this album. I pre-ordered Pedals by Rival Schools on the 4th of March, four days before it was set to be released, and didn't receive it until the 25th of March. Not to mention it took three emails before I got any sort of response from the record label pertaining to my order, but I'll tell you what, I'd wait that long all over again.

Cover (Pedals:Rival Schools)After nearly a decade, Rival Schools finally released a follow up to 2001's United by Fate with Pedals. Instead of trying to rehash or imitate what they sounded like ten years ago, Rival Schools brings to the table an album that keeps the band's signature post hardcore/indie/alt rock sound but with enough tweaks to show that the members of this band have grown since their debut. In comparison to United by Fate, the approach Rival Schools takes on Pedals isn't as energetic, but it's alot more melodic and this works for them. Pedals sounds far more focused and confident than before, which is evidenced in songs like "Shot After Shot," in which the guitar riffs sound like something Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme would have written. Tracks like "Choose Your Own Adventure," which uses both synths and organs to create what I feel is one of the best tracks on the album, and "69 Guns," which sounds like what would happen if The Clash were a dance punk band, show the bands willingness to experiment with their sound.

Walter Schreifels's lyrics are well written and are more focused than they were on United by Fate. Schreifel's lyrics vary from first to third person, but always feel as if you're getting a peek into his personal life. You can see this in "Wring it Out" alone, with lyrics like, "You told me long ago to leave fate to itself, but I'm gonna need help/ The coast is clearly not on my side now, if it ever was" and "I have battles in my life to keep me distracted, or just a lame excuse for acting how I acted/ Pushing you away, it was too high a price to pay, I can see that now for miles and miles."

I, for one, hope that this isn't just some one-shot album Rival Schools did just to see if they still had it and they continue to release new material. We can only wait and see, but one thing's for sure, there's no way I can wait another 10 years for another album.

Verdict: 4/5 Small Doses
Sounds like: A summer soundtrack
Favorite tracks: "Wring it Out," "Choose Your Own Adventure," "Shot After Shot," "A Parts for B Actors"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"We are the orphans of the American dream"

Rise Against's 2008 album Appeal to Reason met with disappointment from fans and critics alike. The band was accused of straying from their hardcore punk roots to venture into the mainstream. With the obvious pop sensibilities, slower songs, and catchy hooks, they seemed to be losing touch. Now the band is back with the release of Endgame, which I was more than a little bit skeptical about. Instead of reverting back to the musical style heard on their pre-Appeal to Reason albums, the band polished that new sound, making it harder and more in-your-face. The result is an impressive, energetic album full of politically charged anthems that are surprisingly easy to relate to.

Rise Against's musical growth from album to album is blatantly apparent, and their most recent effort is no exception. Though the band has let go of the raw sound of old, their music is still essentially hardcore punk. Songs like "Midnight Hands," "Survivor Guilt," and "A Gentleman's Coup" feature guitar riffs and drums that stand out from the rest of the album and show what the band is truly capable of. The vocals on the album are exactly as expected -- gravelly singing with a few screams thrown in -- and the songs are rife with poignant lyrics. One thing I've always admired about Tim McIlrath's storytelling is his ability to place himself in the situation. Many of the lyrics are written from a first-person perspective, which is particularly powerful on "Make It Stop (September's Children)," a song that was written in response to the suicides of teens bullied for being gay. In it, McIlrath sings, "I'm done asking, I demand / From a nation under God / I feel its love like a cattle prod / I'm born free but still they hate me / I'm born me, no, I can't change." No matter what topic is covered in a given song, the message is always relevant.

Overall, Endgame is a solid album that serves as a reminder of what makes Rise Against special in a sea of fading hardcore punk acts. If you were disappointed by Appeal to Reason, this will certainly renew your love for the band.

Verdict: 4/5
Sounds like: One big call to arms
Favorite tracks: "Midnight Hands," "Make It Stop (September's Children)," "Satellite"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jersey Spotlight: Folly

I stumbled upon Folly around the time my interest in hardcore music was dwindling and Purevolume was still a popular and reliable source for finding new music. What I heard blew me away. Never has a band been able to combine hardcore with ska as seamlessly as these New Jersey natives, though many have tried. John Tummillo changes his vocal style at the drop of a hat, going from hardcore screams to the almost-singing typical of ska vocalists. Their stage presence is insane and fans take hardcore dancing to a whole new level at their shows, doing everything from backflips to cartwheels in the pit.

With two full-length albums, two EPs, and a series of tours that took them across the US with bands like The Human Abstract and The Dillinger Escape Plan, the band seemed to be gaining popularity. Unfortunately, a break-up was announced in February of 2008 and they played three farewell shows, all of which sold out.

Naturally, it came as a huge surprise when Folly announced three upcoming reunion shows:

March 26 @ Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ
April 2 @ School of Rock East in South Hackensack, NJ
April 9 @ Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ

What does this mean for one of the best hardcore bands to ever come out of Jersey? We'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully more of this:

...and this:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Death From Above 1979 Reunion!

Recently, we at Rock 'n' Roll Etiquette mentioned Death From Above 1979 in relation to a remix by MSTRKRFT. Well, boys and girls, if you're as much of a fan as I am, you'll be happy to know that DFA1979 announced they will be reuniting to perform at Coachella this year (this blog has magic powers!). Hopefully, this won't be a one shot performance and they'll see that they were silly for going their separate ways almost 5 years ago. Here's hoping for a new album and subsequent tour.

If you're not sure if you should be amped, watch this:

Yes, you should be amped.