Reviews June 2003
ARIEL KILL HIM -- In The Pyramid (LP / Strange Fruit Records)
Ariel Kill Him is the solo project of David Lehnberg who is also playing in his main band Leiah. I didn't care much about Leiah's last album, because it was a bit boring in my eyes, so I wasn't too enthusiastic about David's second solo album. As you might have guessed by now, I was pretty wrong. "In the pyramid" is great! How can you describe the music on here? It's chiefly quiet, but also rocking at times. But overall it's pure beauty that comes out of my speakers. The first track is ok, but the second one, "Alarm", is a true jewel, so much beauty and warmth. I felt reminded to the quiet songs on Jimmy Eat World's classic "Clarity" record when that song played, and I'm sure people out there who enjoy listening to bands just as Jimmy Eat World or Mineral will love this record and the fragile vocals of David Lehnberg. I could go on and write about each of the ten songs on this record, but I think it's better if you take a listen on your own. Really really strong. By the way: The vinyl comes out on Strange Fruit Records while Kasual Recordings take care of the CD version.
CALL DAVID -- Elegy Vs. Tragedy (CD / Strange Fruit Records)
Call David come from Stuttgart, Germany, and even though I originally am from this area, too, I've never heard from this band before. Maybe that's because "Elegy vs. tragedy" is their debut album. Call David cite Planes Mistaken For Stars as their main influence, and I guess that's not very far away from the truth when you're listening to this seven song record as there are more quiet parts on the one hand and more aggressive ones with screaming vocals on the other. So this is no boring mediocre indie stuff, but intense music that come with a fantastic layout (clear booklet etc.). Now as this CD is limited to 500 copies I'd rather be fast to get a copy. Fans of the aforementioned Planes Mistaken For Stars won't be disappointed.
CRUSH MY CALM -- Lies Make Life Easier (CD / Strange Fruit Records)
Crush My Calm come from Switzerland and were called Blue Water Boy back in the day. If I remember right Blue Water Boy - who released an album, a single and a couple of split singles - were playing music in the vein of bands like Hot Water Music, so I guess it was the right decision to change the name of the band because "Lies make life easier" shows more old school Hardcore. I really like this old school sound a lot, but even though this album is ok I think there are better bands around playing this style. I mean there could be more break downs and back ups, and also the guitar sound should have been more fat. Apart from these points of criticism the lyrics are quite good as they deal with things happening in the scene that not only Crush My Calm don't like. As a summary I'd say that this is nothing special or original, but fun to listen to.
DEAD SILENT DAYS -- Striving For Perfection (CD / My Favourite Toy Records)
When I got this CD from My Favourite Toy Records I was pretty sure that I had heard the name of this Swedish band before, but I didn't know exactly where or when. But the info sheet helped to clear up the situation. Dead Silent Days were on a split CD with The Whole Nine Yards which was released early this year by Puresome Productions, even though it was already recorded in 2001. "Striving for perfection" was also recorded quite a while ago, in February 2002 to be precise. Initially it was set to be released in autumn 2002, but due to differences with their previous label, it finally comes out these days on My Favourite Toy Records. The album was produced and engineered by Magnus Björk who worked with bands like Ariel Kill Him or Children of Fall in the past. Dead Silent Days sound pretty different compared to these bands, their sound is more indie influenced, sometimes melodic, other times more complex, but always interesting. As I said, these guys had had a couple of problems with the release of this album, so why not cheering them up by checking out the record :-)
DRIVE TIL MORNING -- s/t (CD / Deep Elm Records)
If I'm not completely wrong Drive Til Morning were featured on a Deep Elm compilation in the past, but I'm not quite sure if it was one chapter of the Emo Diaries or one of the Unreleased comps. But what I can tell you for sure is that this album is the right stuff for warm summer nights. Drive Til Morning is the one man project from Francis Garcia who formerly played in Pop Unknown. And even though there are more and more acoustic artists around these days - just think about Kristofer Aström and of course Chris Carraba and Dashboard Confessional - Francis Garcia adds something fresh and new to this genre. Mostly quiet with lots of country influences, this self titled debut was written and recorded between Spring 1998 and Summer 2002 in New York and Austin. Now Francis Garcia is not the only person that can be heard on this record, as he handles the vocals, guitar and some keyboards, but got help from some other people contributing strings, banjo and pedal steel. Most notably is the appearance of Jeff Caudill from Gameface who did some vocals on the song "Stompers". Hearing Jeff's voice I wonder when the new Gameface comes out?! But back to Drive Til Morning: Ten songs of beautiful, relaxed music that I think my girlfriend might like, too. And if you'd know what she thinks about the music I'm listening to in general that means a lot. Get this.
FAUST AGAIN -- Seizing Our Souls (CD / Circulation Records)
Faust Again is a pretty strange not to say stupid name, but of course you shouldn't judge a band over their name. Musically this five piece from Poland should appeal to all you Metal(core) freaks out there, because "Seizing our souls" is totally in the vein of bands like At The Gates, Darkest Hour and countless other bands that have a Hardcore background but play pure Swedish Death Metal with some Hardcore influences, these being mainly the vocals that are rather screaming and not so much growling. The singer of Faust Again uses both styles, and that's pretty cool. The music's also a mixture of fast and slower parts, but overall it's brutal stuff. Even though this really nothing new, it's definitely entertaining and for friends of this kind of sound (like me) it's always nice to hear some new bands blast and shred. Check 'em out.
HONEYTAOST -- Monsoon (CD / Circulation Records)
The cover artwork of this CD is really nice, so I'm sorry I can't offer you a picture here. But anyway, you want to read about the music of this German band, don't you? Described by their record label as the perfect mixture of Hardcore, Emo and Rock you really can find elements of all these styles on "Monsoon", but not in way that it feels like it's too much of everything. The guitar sound is very thick and sometimes reminds me to Quicksand, so maybe fans of this band (and of Rival Schools) should also take a listen. The songs are mostly grooving with this wall of sound coming from the guitars. After a DIY CD, a four track demo and a live CD (DIY too I guess?) "Monsoon" is the first output on Circulation Records, and it's a nice one. Not outstanding or anything like that, but well played and cool to listen to.
LIGHTSOME -- The Essential Thing Of Transposing Own Inspiration Is The Attempt To Do This (CD / Greenboots Records)
I hate bands who come up with long titles like this, so don't expect a good review from my side. Hehe, just kidding. After listening to this record I really don't know how I could write anything bad about it. Lightsome were founded in the end of 1998, even though the members play together since 1994. After a self produced 10" (1999) and a split 7" with My Own Summer (2000) here's their first full length record featuring ten songs of rocking emo(core) with a beautiful female voice. Speaking of beauty: Even though the CD contains no real booklet (the lyrics can be found on the backcover) the outer appearance of the record is pretty cool anyway as the CD case itself is printed. You can often find multiple vocals (the male part sometimes reminds me a bit to Morrissey) and that's something I also like very much about them. If you're into melodic and beautiful emo, go check out this promising band. www.lightsome.de or www.greenboots.de
MIRACLE OF 86 -- Every Famous Last Word (CD / Defiance Records)
The only thing I knew about Miracle of 86 was that their singer/guitarist Kevin Devine has a solo project were he supposedly does mostly acoustic stuff. I never heard his solo songs either, so "Every famous last word" was my first encounter with the music of this New York four piece. The info sheet that came along with the record was written by the band members themselves which is kinda cool, because you get a description how they see their music and not they usual praise to promote an album. Miracle of 86 play indie rock, but not the type of sound that bores you to death because hardly anything is happening. Miracle of 86 are definitely more rocking than many other indie bands and I appreciate that. On Deep Elm's Emo Diaries Chapter 2 from 1998 Miracle of 86 contributed one song and their first record came out in the year 2000 on Fadeaway Records and later got re-pressed on Immigrant Sun Records in 2002. After playing live with countless bands and an 8 song semi acoustic record entitled "Kevin Kolankowski" Miracle of 86 are back together with a new full length and as I said, I like their version of the indie rock sound very much. Acoustic parts, country elements and rocking stuff can be found side by side and make this album really cool. Watch out for them in a town near you soon and in the meantime get this record, it could become a good friend of yours.
NOFX -- The War On Errorism (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)
I think it started a couple of years back with the release of the NOFX album "Heavy petting zoo" when for the first time I wasn't so enthusiastic anymore when I listened to the record for the very first time. After a couple of more more listening sessions I liked the album. With the next NOFX albums it was quite similar. I thought "So long and thanks for all the shoes" and "Pump up the valuum" didn't have these "moments" that I liked about NOFX in the beginning (for me, "White trash, two heebs and a bean" is still my favourite record, closely followed by "Punk in drublic"). But after a while I enjoyed listening to these albums as well. Now the latest NOFX record is out (for the first time not on Epitaph but on Fat Wreck Chords (the 7"s and the comp of rare songs not counting)) and I had the same feelings. Nice songs, but nothing outstanding. Another NOFX record after all. Meanwhile I've listened to this record a lot and I really like it. NOFX still are better than most other melodycore acts out there (which are basically more or less NOFX clones) and know how to write a handful of hits for each record. This time songs like "The separation of church and skate", "Idiots are taking over", "Mattersville", "Anarchy camp" (who said that NOFX wouldn't play Ska anymore?), "American errorist" or "We got two Jealous Agains" are those type of songs NOFX became famous for. Even though Fat Mike knows how to write some really cool and funny lyrics ("We got two Jealous Agains"), some of his lyrics are pretty dumb. Well, if all those punk kids out there who will buy this CD really care about the lyrics at all. Pretty sad, because there's along introduction to this CD and its obvious political content written by Fat Mike in the booklet as well as an enhanced part on the CD featuring two videos and a political commentary. As a conclusion I have to say that "White trash,..." and "Punk in drublic" still are my faves, but "The war on errorism" is quite cool after all.
NONE MORE BLACK -- File Under Black (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)
Do you remember a band called Kid Dynamite? I'm sure you do, because they were one of the most energetic, melodic and powerful Hardcore bands around in their days. Especially their latest album "Shorter, faster, louder" was a true masterpiece. Unfortunately they split up some time ago because their singer Jason Shevchuck decided to pursue schooling and a career in film. Well, obviously Jason couldn't live without the music, so only after a couple of months he chose to make music again, but not with his former Kid Dynamite mates, but with new guys, one of them being his brother Jeff on second guitar (while Jason was only handling the vocals before he's now playing the guitar, too). After a couple of line up changes the first full length is finally out (ironically it was produced by their former drummer Nick Rotundo at his own studio). Due to Jason's unique vocals there's of course an ever apparent Kid Dynamite touch to the music, but None More Black are way slower and more punk than Kid Dynamite. You know, Kid Dynamite was a Hardcore band in my eyes, but None More Black is more punk rock, maybe comparable to the slower parts of Kid Dynamite (I wonder how often I mentioned the name of Jason's previous band in this review; sorry guys!). All in all I like Kid Dynamite better, but "File under black" is far above the average punk rock album that seems to be released too often these days. Cool stuff.
THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS -- Please Believe It (CD / Velocette Records)
This CD is made up quite cool with kind of a seal around it (see the picture on the left), so I was pretty curious about the band's sound as I had never heard neither of them or their record label before. To describe their sound is pretty hard as normally I don't listen that much to this kind of music. Maybe you can compare this outfit from Kent, Ohio, to indie bands in the Dischord vein. I think I also hear some Dag Nasty influences ("Wig out at Denko's" period). Formed in 1995 and having ten releases and tours under their belts "Please believe it" is as I said the first record I get to know from The Party Of Helicopters. I don't know if I should check out their previous releases, because this record doesn't blow me away. That doesn't mean it's boring or something, it's just not the kind of music I get too excited about. Nice to listen to, but all in all not my cup of tea. If you're into this type of indie rock, then why not checking them out.
SCOREFOR -- Just Another Version Of Truth (CD / Wolverine Records)
Scorefor from Germany gained the attention of a broader audience back in late 2000 when German magazine Visions took one of their songs for a CD compilation that accompanied an issue. One month later Scorefor appeared on another compilation which was put out by Rock Hard Magazine. This led to the release of their first single and debut album in 2001 on Wolverine Records. In early 2003 they once again entered the studio to record the follow up to that album, this being "Just another version of truth". On this album you can find 13 songs of melodic punk rock, mostly played in a faster way. But fortunately Scorefor aren't too fast or hectic like some of those melody acts around (don't wanna name any). Fans of this type of music should give this album a try, because Scorefor aren't bad at all and the layout of the CD is nice. It's just not the music I'm into at the moment. But maybe you are, so maybe you want to take a listen.
SNITCH -- Genuine (CD / Wolverine Records)
Snitch are from Switzerland, but unlike their country mates Cataract or Dark Day Dungeon they don't play Metalcore but rather a more melodic and rocking sound that has been compared to bands like Hot Water Music or Bombshell Rocks in the past. Well, I would say add some Donots to that and you get a rough impression how they sound like. I'd say the comparison to Germany's very own Donots is probably the most fitting one as Snitch come up with a bunch of great melodies. After two EPs and one full length (both got compiled on the "Fallen angel" album released by TV Freak Records from Japan) "Genuine" is the first release on Wolverine Records. The two boys and one girl in Snitch recorded this album in Sweden at Soundlab Studios Örebro with Mieszko Talarczyk who worked with bands like Bombshell Rocks or Voice of a Generation in the past and runs this studio with Mathias Färm from Millencolin, so the sound is how it should be. Once again it is shown that you don't necessarily have to come from California or Gainesville to make cool and rocking music. Snitch rock!
WEDEKIND -- The End Of My Heartbeat (CD / Defiance Records)
The first thing that comes to my mind when I look at "The end of my heartbeat" is the stunning artwork, layout and packaging of the CD. The second thing is that Wedekind are the first band from Austria on Defiance Records and one of the few bands I know from this country. I was clever enough not to expect something in the vein of their country mates Pungent Stench or Disharmonic Orchestra (which I both like pretty much by the way), and neither should you. Wedekind play a mixture of Post-Hardcore, Pop, New Wave and Emo (especially the drums remind me to Brandtson at times), and I like this blend. The funny thing is, the three piece doesn't have a bass player. In fact their keyboard player contributes an electronic bass, but I have to admit that I didn't hear any difference to a "normal" bass. Talking about keyboards: You can hear lots of them on this record, but not in a way that it gets on your nerves, but rather as a cool completion of the band's sound. Sometimes dark, sometimes melancholic, but always great melodies. Oh, the info says that members of Wedekind have records from bands like Muse, Jimmy Eat World, Placebo, Radiohead, Sensefield, Sunny Day Real Estate or Last Days Of April in their collections. I don't know if that is true (maybe they are more into more heavy stuff like Pungent Stench, hehe), but concerning the sound of "The end of my heartbeat" it could be true. Check them out.
V/A -- The Emo Diaries Chapter Nine - Sad Songs Remind Me (CD / Deep Elm Records)
"Sad songs to remind me" is the ninth chapter of the ten chapter Emo Diaries. The concept is the usual one: All unreleased songs from more or less unknown bands from all over the world. This time many of the 12 bands come from Sweden, and I have the impression that the Emo/Indie scene became pretty big in Sweden in the last few years. But there's also a band from Japan on this comp called The Local Art that has Japanese lyrics. Quite cool. One of the highlights and probably my fave band on this part of the Emo Diaries is Michael with the song "Finish line". They truly rock! As I said, the guys from Deep Elm didn't change the concept of the Emo Diaries, and that's not necessary anyway. So support this compilation and the featured bands.
V/A -- Vans Warped Tour 2003 Compilation (2 CD / Side One Dummy Records)
This is the sixth chapter of the collaboration between Side One Dummy Records and the Vans Warped Tour, and this time it's a 2 CD set featuring 52 (!!) bands/songs. Apparently 50 of them are previously unreleased, but I guess one or another will end up on forthcoming albums. Among those bands I was very eager to listen to were of course Thrice (their latest album "The illusion of safety" is one of my alltime faves, so I was excited if they could hold the high standard of that album with their first major release, and their song "Under a killing moon" is once again great, showing all the typical Thrice trademarks), NOFX (with a song from the forthcoming 7" "13 stitches"), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Poison the Well. I won't name all 56 bands on the two CDs, but here's some of them: The Used, Less Than Jake, No Use For A Name, Face to Face, Yellowcard, Matchbook Romance, Motion City Soundtrack, Glassjaw, Taking Back Sunday, Bouncing Souls, Swingin' Utters, Lagwagon, Andrew W.K., Coheed and Cambria (yeah!), Death By Stereo, and Missing 23rd. I think this is a cool sampler that gives you a good overview of today's Punk/Hardcore/Emo scene, and it's a lot less work than picking some of your favourite bands for a mix tape/CD.