Category Archives: Album Reviews

Torche – Restarter Album Review

torche

Restarter Album Review

I liken Torche’s music to dredging a swamp full of corpses in tutus…

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Or… Southern Gothic glitter….

Or… Monsters puking rainbows sitting on clouds…. which is appropriately the album art off the previous Torche album, “Harmonicraft”

Whatever vision one has of Torche, the general consensus is that they have found a way to marry the bludgeoning, sludgiest dirge metal, with a toe tapping, head bopping, pop mastery that would hold Katy Perry hostage. I have to admit that my opinion is biased and they have become one of my favorite bands.

Hailing from the swampy madness that is Florida they seemingly, knowingly or not, have invented a new genre dubbed “doom pop.” I’m not one for genres but I am happy about this one, because there is no argument with what bands belong, there is only one…

Torche’s 4th full length record, among their many EP’s, is full of what makes them exciting, forging a road for bloody unicorn metal. A low-end record, that erupts into chaos only to be spun back into a tightly tuned tornado, with sing-along options turned to 11. Restarter is also what it sounds like, a step away from the sing-along of Harmonicraft back to the band’s first down-tuned tempos.

The record opens with the bruising “Annihilation Affair” which could have been a B side on previous record “Hellion” and lurks along on Steve Brook’s formidable, and manly, baritone.

“Bishop in Arms” follows a driving percussion that seems to push the rest of the band to keep up and “Minions” offers a fluid foundation to ride on. “Loose Men” gives us an insight into Andrew Elstner’s guitar work, and the band’s tongue-in-cheek sensibility.

And so on… From “Loose Men” to “Barrier Hammer”, this is the yin of heavy and the yang of happy that is spoken in parallel with Torche. And a void missing in rock and metal music today. Similar bands take themselves, and their metal, way seriously, and sometimes that’s OK. Torche knows that… and they acknowledge it…they poke fun at themselves, and they move on… giving the listener a different perspective, sometimes without the listener even knowing it, which is what good musicians, and good artists, are challenged with doing in the first place.

Mayor Peach

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Sonic Dissonance from Vienna Ditto

Vienna Ditto
Vienna Ditto

Vienna Ditto Single Review

Sonic Dissonance is a term that’s bounced around in my head for the past few years but I never stumbled across a band that seemed to be well-suited for that label.

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Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what Sonic Dissonance means, but it has to feel like the sexy, cool new music offered up by Vienna Ditto.

To me, the term makes me think of music that doesn’t fit together perfectly and it’s probably a little bit unusual, but it’s stuff that’s still pleasing to the ears – like Vienna Ditto! The music on the band’s new single “Hammer And Nail” is addictively weird shit that I just can’t seem get out of my head. I love this song, and I’m not totally sure why.

The dreamy vocals are captivating and the synth driven music attention-grabbing. I don’t know much about the band, except that they’re a duo from the UK who have been collaborating for a few years; and unfortunately, thus far have precious few releases available for our aural consumption. But that should change soon, as they will be releasing their debut album this Spring.

It’s difficult to classify their sound, it’s part Nancy Sinatra, part Florence and the Machine, with a nice serving of David Lynch thrown in. The music features elements of blues, atmospherics and electronic, which are woven together magnificently. I can’t find a download of the song online, but am pleased to see that the band’s debut album will be deliver on May 4th, and I can’t wait to get this wonderfully creative music on my playlist.

Check out the song in the embedded video below and let me know if you find it as intriguing as I do.


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Rock On!
Cretin

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Periphery Album Review

juggernaut a o

Periphery – Alpha and Omega Album Review

There are so many genres in metal, and with it, a clusterfuck of typecasts: Black metal, Sludge metal, Doom pop, Norwegian black metal….. Norwegian black metal with a cherry on top… everything has to be compartmentalized…..

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The genre known as “Djent” was derived from the sound that you make when impersonating an open bottom string on the guitar…. I will give you a minute to repeat the word to make the sound…. Beavis and Butthead would be proud.

Periphery, a stalwart of that so-called genre,  recently released the double album “Juggernaut: Alpha & Omega” a good name for an album that is ominous in sound, larger than life, and mysterious. Unfortunately a horrible name for Periphery’s newest record.

And that’s not to say I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t a Juggernautic….. It was not “mercilessly destructive”, and will not “crush it’s devotees”…… definitions according to the Oxford Dictionary.

But it was a good metal record, more progressive than anything. What I like about this record was what was hidden on the Periphery of the songs. For every crunching guitar, there was a 15 second jazz lead in. For every Meshuggah-like time signature, there was an Muzak outro…. And this is what surprised me, those changes were effortless, as if the jazz, and the reggae, and the folk had been hidden underneath the original song, flowing just under the radar….

Standouts include the haunting and tension filled “Black Minute”, The almost poppy plus extra hook of “Heavy House” the brutal tech metal of “Graveless”, and the hangover jazz melody at the end of “Hell Below”. Misha Mansoor’s guitar work is stellar on “MK Ultra”.

There are points on the record where vocalist, Spencer Sotelo, sounds like someone stole his ball on the playground… whiny and tinny, which diminishes the overall aesthetic of the record, and reminds me that I was that boy on the playground, but the group is tight, all musicians owning their respected instruments.

Another definition of Juggernaut is “an overwhelming force”, and this definition fits much better with the sound of this overall record…. as many things can be defined as overwhelming… beauty, love, passion…..and are hard to put in a box…

They are hard to compartmentalize…

I fucking hate compartments

– Mayor Peach –

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Dirty Dishes: Guilty album review

New Music from Dirty Dishes

Los Angeles based Dirty Dishes could easily have opened for Hole or PJ Harvey, their music being very grunge-like, but that doesn’t mean it easily fits into any one genre.

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Jenny Tuite (vocals/ guitar) seems to have a limitless supply of influences, and isn’t afraid to explore various avenues in her pursuit of creativity. Alex Molini (synth/bass/vocals) forms the rest of the band, wearing many hats, and fleshing out their unique sound, his instrument work perfectly complementing the broad range of music they make together.

The new record, Guilty, released by Exploding In Sound Records is available on Itunes, or buy the digital album on the free Bandcamp app.

“Thank You Come Again” welcomes you to the album like an old friend you haven’t seen since the late nineties, with squelching, distorted guitar riffs haphazardly held together with a rolling beat disrupted by brief bursts of frenzied percussion. “Red Roulette” keeps the grunge vibe going; but “Guilty”, the title track, takes off in a different direction, the tone being much more modern, and having influences that range from pop-punk to new wave alt rock.

“Androgynous Love Song” is far and away my favorite track of the entire album. I can see it being in a movie soundtrack, or being belted out at a smoky karaoke bar by a beautiful stranger. “Dan Cortez” sounds very surreal, almost as if Tuite were covering a long lost piece by The Doors, or Jefferson Airplane. The surreality continues as it’s followed by the ethereal, slow motion sounds of “Dinner Bell”. This song would be perfect for a lazy afternoon imbibing your favorite mind altering substance and philosophizing about the meaning of life. “Lackluster” feels like it belongs on the soundtrack to that groggy feeling of not quite being awake after a nap on a day that’s far too warm to be comfortable. It features plenty of effects and has a kind of post-industrial punk vibe.

We have all had that one who got away, and some of us have had a hard time letting go. “One More Time” tells the sad story of love lost, told by the lover who was cast aside and now lives with a delusional fantasy, believing that one day fate will find a way to reunite them. The music box-like sound plunking away in the background almost creates a horror movie feel. “Sugar Plum Fairies” continues the theme of sadness and loss, ending the album on a wistful, melancholy note. It might not leave you mourning lost life, but you may mourn that it’s the end of the album.

Regardless if your taste in music leans more towards metal, or you favor a more classic sound, Guilty has a little something for every rocker. The songs might have you feeling loss, love, nostalgia, or even guilt, but most everyone, if given the chance, will feel something when giving this record a listen. If you enjoy what you hear, go like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or reblog them on Tumblr.

If you want to see a live show, the only tour date I see on their Bandcamp website is March 14, 2015 at The Hive, in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you aren’t going to be in the Flagstaff area then, maybe use that same social media to try and convince them to do a gig near your town. If you want to hear more Dirty Dishes until then, check out their other albums: One More Time, and the self-titled Dirty Dishes.

Philip Snyder

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Purple (409) Album Review

purple (800x799)

Killer New Rock from Texas

My In Box is overflowing with catchy boy-girl rock ‘n roll combos. The typical recipe delivers sweet harmonies over a bed of bouncy, upbeat tunes.  I expected a similar serving of rock music from Purple, but was pleasantly surprised by a much more rugged, spicy offering.

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Purple has been branded as party rock; honestly, I’m not sure what the hell that means, but if this gritty, creative stuff is party rock, I want my invitation.  The Texas trio tear through ten absolutely addictive punk-infused rockers on an impressive debut album.

Last year, at this time, I reviewed my first album of the young year and instantly knew that album was going to appear on my year-end Best Albums list.  To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again.”  This one probably won’t finish at #1 as Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues did, but it’s got staying power and is going to be one of the rock albums that defines the year. (Check out last year’s list here)

The music is fun, brash and in your face, and it’s captivating.  Listening to the tracks, it’s obvious that the three musicians are playing what makes them happy, and in return, they’ve produced an album that is going to excite many rock music fans. They’ve got talent, some pent up angst, and a common appreciation for a good party, and it’s a great recipe for killer rock. Drummer/vocalist Hanna Brewer offers, “I’ve heard ‘Hey, you drum pretty good…for a girl’. It’s that phrase: ‘for a girl’. It doesn’t make me mad though; it just makes me want to be more bad-ass than the boys. Anger can be extremely inspiring that way.”

Brewer’s straight-forward drums and hard driving bass from Tyler Smith are nicely accented by cool guitar riffs from Taylor Busby. It’s the perfect musical bed for the distinctive edgy boy/girl vocals.

The album kicks-off with “Wildflower,” a raucous rocker that sets the stage for what’s in store throughout. It’s a juxtaposition between slick guitarwork and gritty passionate vocals that brought back happy memories of Joan Jett’s throaty growls. Next, we hear “Double Nickels,” a ferocious breakneck rocker with a wistful garage rock feel. It’s off to the races with song after rollicking song.

There’s quite a bit of diversity on the album, as well. “LecheLoco” is a quirky song that reminded me of Jack White and “Thirteen” is a searing punk offering that squeezes a crapload of music into one hundred seconds of breakneck feverish rock. As good as the album is, it’s not exactly dripping with radio-ready ditties, but “Beach Buddy,” is built for radio. It’s catchy as hell, boasts a sweet summer feel, without selling out the band’s rugged soul. It’s a damn good song, and one that demands broad airplay.

The album is out today. Grab it now, grab a beer or twelve and soak up the beauty of a filthy dirty masterpiece.

Rock On!
Cretin

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Grab Some Hope This Week

Manchester Orchestra Hope Album Review

We saw Andy Hull and Manchester Orchestra back in the summer. At the time he was hinting about a special recording the band was working on in the studio. It came as a bit of a surprise as they were just beginning to support their recent album release, Hope.

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The album is a reimagined version of their hit Spring 2014 release, Cope, and it’s a pretty damn cool idea. All 11 songs from Cope are re-recorded in a stunningly different and creative stripped down mode.  It results in quite the captivating listening experience.  The new album was released a few weeks ago digitally, but has just hit the streets today on vinyl and CD, which is great timing with Record Store Day just around the corner on November 28th.

I won’t spend a lot of time comparing this album to it’s predecessor, but as an example of the vast difference between the recordings, you only need to listen to the first ten seconds of the lead-off track and first single “Top Notch.” On Cope, the hit single kicks off with a powerful, loud distorted guitar riff; whereas on the new Hope version, the same notes gently ease out of a subdued piano. Listening to the two versions side-by-side presents a stunning, and intriguing juxtaposition. It’s just one example, but a good glimpse of the differences seen repeatedly between the two albums.

The constant theme throughout the new versions offered on Hope are fantastic, nicely accentuated vocals.  Andy Hull has never sounded better. His vocals are tender, passionate and dripping with vulnerability throughout the stripped down versions.  The superb harmonizing on the album is also a welcome surprise. The vocals never more impressive than on the a capella “See It Again,” a song that might make a few hardcore Manchester Orchestra fans cringe, but a brave creative version that worked for me.

Taking a song and stripping it down often reveals the majesty in the writing, and what we discover on Hope is that the songs loudly recorded under a haze of fuzz and distortion were pretty damn good; maybe better than we thought.

Highlights of the album include “Girl Harbor” a heartfelt rendition with pristine acoustic guitar work and a tremendously raw yet creative rendition of “Every Stone,” which is about 12 times slower than the hit version on Cope. My favorite track was a stunning string-driven version of “All That I Really Wanted.”

I’ll admit that not all of it is for everyone, and there will be some Manchester Orchestra fans who just won’t get it.  Me? I get it; I love it and think it’s one of the best albums of the year – and starting today, the vinyl and CD versions are available.  Pick one up and let us know your thoughts.

Rock On!
Cretin

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Sheppard EP Review

sheppard

Sheppard – Geronimo EP Review

Riding a huge wave of success fresh on the heels of their smashing breakthrough hit single, “Geronimo” I was intrigued by this fresh six-piece Brisbane, Australia band.

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As the catchy lyrics bounced around in my head, I had an instant thirst to hear more. Were they a one-hit wonder, or rather an artist that truly deserved a spot on our new music radar?

It didn’t take long to get my answer. This band has “it” and we are going to be listening as their sumptuous pop rock dominates the alternative rock airwaves for years to come. If you’re not nodding your head, tapping your feet and smiling incessantly when listening to this band, you just don’t have a pulse, because the Geronimo EP is absolutely filled with poppy, cheerful indie-pop rock that’s a blast to listen to.  And, let me be clear, this is not toss-away bubble-gum rock, this band has plenty of artistic talent.

In Australia, they are dominating the charts, but in the US, most of us have only heard “Geronimo,” the title track from this EP. It’s an addictive rocker that is all over the radio. Tribal beats, soaring synths, clever guitar riffs, powerful vocals and dreamy boy/girl harmonies. It’s probably the best effort on the EP, but all of the other tracks are compelling in their own way, as well.

“Flying Away” is a fun rocker, with the best vocals on the EP. Powered by great keys and hard-driving drums, it’s got a bit of a harder edge at times, but at its essence is another catchy pop rock hit-in-the-waiting. Next, we hear a more tender offering, “Smile,” a bouncy pop tune with purely Australian female vocals. I absolutely guarantee that this intoxicating tune finds it’s way onto American commercials in short time.

The EP closes with a more diverse offering. “Something Missing” is performed at a lower key, but is just as captivating. Acoustic guitars dominate, and the song features a slick surf guitar feel. It brought back pleasant memories of RARA’s Farm favorite’s The Mowgli’s and Cayucas. Good, good stuff!

It’s excellent pop-rock, if you’re one of our fans more into heavy rock, you probably won’t love the EP, but fans of Indie rock and Alt rock need to get Sheppard on their radar. After sampling the music, I’m anxiously awaiting a full-length from this band, and am quite curious to see how this fun invigorating music translates live on stage. In the meantime, I’ll be wearing these four tracks out, and suggest you grab them below, and do the same.

Bombs away…

Rock On!
Cretin

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Faults – Alexander Single Review

The Faults Single Review – Alexander

It seems like I’ve been hearing lots of excellent new rock out of Australia these days. For that reason, I was intrigued when I saw this new offering pop-up in my InBox and noticed the comparisons to Tame Impala and The Strokes.

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Comparing The Faults to the aforementioned bands is pretty damn appropriate; they have the cool swagger of Tame Impala and the gritty, edgy rock that is embodied in The Strokes. If their first single is any indication of what’s in store, it’s only a matter of time before this talented Sydney duo finds their way onto American alternative rock radio.

Oli is the guitarist/vocalist and he’s got a unique twist with his music.  His guitar riffs are catchy, and the vocals gritty and edgy, and he throws out a nice falsetto for good measure.  Not sure how to best describe his voice but it’s likeable as hell, and it has a great rock ‘n roll balance to it.  Coupled with the cool, creative drums from Tom, these guys just drip with garage rock coolness and it makes sense, as the band was founded in a Sydney garage.

It’s fresh music that’s better than must gracing the rock radio airwaves today.  Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts.  If you like what you hear, grab it on iTunes: Alexander – The Faults

Rock On!
Mike

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faults
The Faults – from Sydney, Australia