Albums/EPs

ALBUM: Heavy Heavy Low Low – Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock

Release Date: August 19th, 2008
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 6/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/heavyheavylowlow

Heavy Heavy Low Low profile

The band Heavy Heavy Low Low have never really came across as the most serious bands on the scene, in the sense that they have one of the most obscure band names to grace alternative music, and give similarly bizarre names to their songs and albums, such as their newest full-length studio album, ‘Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock’.

Their irradicle nature and behaviour to what they do has lost gained a lot of haters a long with many dedicated fans, some of these haters going as far as to say “they’re cancer to music”. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say with evidence that there are many other bands doing the same thing as these guys out there. Their songs are short, loud, and chaotic to put it mildly. The first proper track ‘Giant Mantis VS. Turt Nip’ pretty much bursts into their insane nature, with a timed guitar riff leading to the bombshell scream “It’s the same / It’s the same / It’s making me… smile” from the gut of lead vocalist Robert Smith. The song is then soon lead to a more funky section before another explosive moment before the end.

The loud release of ‘How Many Dad’s Must Eat Themselves?’ is a short-lived one, and is the owner of a seemingly meaningless and random track title, which can also be said for ‘R4TB3LLY’, ‘Supernova Ninja Surfers’, and ‘Rotten Church / Mall / Parking Lot’. Though this isn’t even an issue due to the experimental and irrelevance to meaning nature this band give-off in their material.

It’s criticised a lot that the band’s weakest point musically is the vocal quality and stylings of Robbie Smith, which to be fair isn’t anything near the standard you’d expect from the likes of Oliver Sykes, M Shadows, and other similar vocalists, but suits the musical style made from Heavy Heavy Low Low. Though, if anything is to put you off this record, or even this band, that would be the main point. Despite this, the vocal work has been severly improved since that of previous release ‘Everything’s Watched, Everyone’s Watching’, and with the band even claiming themselves that they were much more prepared this time and weren’t “100% ready” when recording the previous record. This statement is clearly proven by the much more polished and rehearsed sound of the songs overall on ‘Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock’.

If short songs lasting the average of anything from one minute to 3 minutes at the most is what floats your boat, along with random song titles and lyrical content, and music that could be heavy one minute and psychedlic the next, then Heavy Heavy Low Low should be number 1 on your ‘to hear’ list. Not the most talented band in the world, but they most certainley aren’t the most boring or overdone.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: The Heart Attacks – Hellbound And Heartless

Release Date: October 23rd, 2006
Label: Hellcat Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/theheartattacks

The Heart Attacks profile

With a sound combining classic punk bands such as The Sex Pistols with more modern rock bands like The Glitterati, the energetic singles from this record, ‘You Oughtta’ Know By Now’ and ‘Travelin’ Band’, don’t seem too different from one another. Neither does the track ‘Fast Times Attached’, with shouting and squeals throughout, angry lyrics, and raw punk guitars.

‘Hellbound And Heartless’ is one of the stand-out tracks on the record, with more melodic, slow-paced sing-a-long verses; the “Heartless and hellbound” pre-chorus line and the “Ah-ah ah-ah” chorus will bring a hairbrush moment or two.

Joan Jett‘s guest appearance on the track ‘Tearstained Letters’ is one of the few times where there’s any recognisable variation, it’s not half as raw or punk – a suprise from The Heart Attacks to say the least.

This record tugs at your heartstrings and then smashes you in the face, definately one for fans of punk or high-pitched squeals.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

Release Date: May 15th, 2009
Label: Reprise Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.greenday.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/greenday

Green Day profile

So five years after Green Day more than slightly changed up their modus operandi with 2004’s ‘American Idiot’, we have received a second rock opera in the form of 70 minute epic ’21st Century Breakdown’. You’ll have to excuse me now as I take a brief detour down anecdotal lane to put my thoughts on this album into context.

In 2004, I remember an album coming out. People (13/14/15 year old girls and boys, I mean) who previously liked all manner of shite manufactured commercial chart ‘R’n’B’ music (sans rhythm and/or blues, naturally) suddenly started dyeing parts of their hair purple, wearing brightly coloured skinny ties and checked wrist bands for no apparent reason. Their listening habits quickly switched to the likes of Blink-182, The Offspring, New Found Glory and various other pop-punk bands that had been around a for a decent while with varying levels of success. You know, simple melodies, teen angst, all that good stuff. However, the band at the epicentre of this new found alternative listening habit of my peers was Green Day which was odd considering they were doing something entirely different with their album ‘American Idiot’. They were trying to do something grand, say things about important things bands like this aren’t supposed to. They were having chart success with the title track and even moreso with ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’. Not liking this kind of music, and even moreso Green Day, for trying to play music like they’re something they’re not contributed slightly to my very angry little man phase that I’m probably still not entirely over. So with chairs thrown, pencils stabbed (unrelated to Green Day thankfully) I calmed down a little, learned of how the band were getting progressively closer to this kind of territory anyway, and every now and then enjoying the bubblegum, the likes of your ‘Basket Case’‘s and your ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’‘s. The question is: can Green Day convince me they have the credibility to pull of this kind of thing five years on?

Right, so some quick notes on the idea; it’s an ‘opera’ as I have mentioned, it is set in Detroit hence ‘Murder City’, sort of follows a couple called Christian and Gloria in George W. Bush’s America. It’s set into three ‘acts’; Heroes & Cons, Charlatans & Saints and Horseshoes and Handgrenades. Buy into this or don’t at your own discretion. First track proper, the titular song, displays a level of the dreaded and generic word maturity, as Green Day go into full U2 mode, and for the opening few songs, if not throughout the whole thing, this definitely is more pop than it is punk, but not necessarily in a bad way. How much you’ll enjoy this depends on your tastes; but you can see the fully fledged stadium rock band in full swing now. The whole concept shows the ambition that the band has to escape the stereotypes I and many others lavish them with; they’ve definitely achieved it. The band display a brand of pop-rock mixed with politics, war, love, romance and all those epic kinds of things, and in a lot of places like the sadly-not-a-Rage cover ‘Know Your Enemy’. That’s not to say they haven’t stayed true to their roots in a lot of places. They mix their new found love of piano, flute and string (maybe not the flute but a Moby reference never hurts) is melded efficiently with their three-chord bubblegum punk salvados of yore, complete with the catchy hooks and big drums.

Lyrically, many of the songs are from either or both of the characters points of view, as well as being drawn from singer Billy Joe Armstrong‘s personal life, if you look to media calls that promote this album and just general interviews with the band from history, there are some parallels, with Armstrong himself saying in a piece with Rolling Stone that “I look at Christian and Gloria, and it’s me”. And while in terms of the lyrics themselves I’ve never been a big fan of Armstrong‘s writing, songs like ‘Last Night On Earth’, a stunning love ballad, actually work quite well without any of the pretentious melodrama that both clouded the previous album and the title of the song. However, in other moments like the successive ‘East Jesus Nowhere’, a crack on religion or perhaps religious zealots, things aren’t blunt to be impactful but rather blunt to the point where it just sounds Neanderthal. Still, whilst I find myself enjoying many of the songs, both musically and lyrically, this story of Christian and Gloria I just don’t find myself getting into. For instance in the second ‘Viva La Gloria’ I like the nice gypsyish start into the punk attack transition, but I don’t really care for Gloria.

So Green Day did sort of convince me here. This will never be one of my all time favourites but I enjoy it, it’s a nice package of punk, pop, rock and dare I even say a little bit of soul too. I would perhaps even go as far to say albums like this give the band the potential to become the next U2 a few more years down the line. The thing they convinced me of is that they can very much pull off a concept album, they have the skill set to tell a story, and they are the kind of band who can do it. It’s just that on this particular occasion, the story didn’t grab me. However, the tale of Christian and Gloria will probably mean a lot to somebody, people who do forge their own opinions on things and see the world as on it’s way to it’s own destruction. For me though, this is a fun record, even if I don’t quite buy into the meaning, and a more complete one for my money than Green Day have ever put out before.

Written by Paul Smith

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ALBUM: Greeley Estates – No Rain, No Rainbow

Release Date: January 26th, 2010
Label: Tragic Hero Records
Rating: 8/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/greeleyestates

Greeley Estates profile

“If it’s not broken don’t fix it” is a phrase the post-hardcore genre is all too familiar with. The genre is overcrowded with artists that have no intention of bringing something fresh and different to the table. But there are always a few exceptions to the rule, and in amongst the stereotypical screamers lay a couple of hidden gems, Greeley Estates being one of them. The Arizonian quintet, who’ve had more member changes than they have albums, have finally got a strong and sturdy line-up and this is reflected in the band’s latest release ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’.

The fourth effort from the post-hardcore rockers is an awful lot heavier than previous releases seeing the boys push their sound to extremes, at times they even border on the line of deathcore. Opener ‘Seven Hours’ along with ‘loyal.com’ are prime examples of how the five-piece have grown musically. The tracks are bursting with deep growls and screams from vocalist Ryan Zimmerman, steering clear from the clean vocals the band has heavily relied upon in the past. In fact, the only parts on this record that are actually sung are done so by guest vocalists. ‘Lying Through Your Teeth Doesn’t Count As Flossing’ featuring Beau Bokan (blessthefall) and ‘Friends Are For Never’ with Craig Mabbitt (Escape The Fate) are the only songs which sound remotely similar to the band’s backcatalogue.

The sudden change in sound and style is worlds apart from the quintet’s highly popular 2008 release ‘Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East’. The band won’t necessarily lose fans because of their new music, but it may take a couple of listens of the record for people to adapt to Greeley Estates‘ new found maturity and incredibly aggressive style.

‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ is a strong record from five increasingly talented musicians. Guitarists Alex Torres and Brandon Hackenson are on top form throughout the album, having created a superb mix of melodic and heavy riffs. Songs such as ‘Wolves Make Great Actors’ and ‘You’ll Never Leave Vegas Alive’ are especially good for showing off the boys’ skills. Of course, drummer Chris Julian and bassist David Ludlow also deserve recognition for their hard work, along with vocal shredding Ryan, creating sounds that you’d expect would bring his lungs out from his throat.

It will be very interesting to see what the quintet sound like on album number five. If their transition into ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ is anything to go by then it’ll end up being heavy as hell… watch this space.

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: Greeley Estates – Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East

Release Date: May 6th, 2008
Label: Science Records / Ferret Music
Rating: 8/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/greeleyestates

Greeley Estates profile

If the two American post-hardcore bands The Used and Drop Dead, Gorgeous were to somehow gain the ability to have children, their offspring would sound pretty similar to ‘Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East’ by Greeley Estates – which is clearly the heaviest offering this band have unleashed in their career to-date. It’s odd for any band today to go from a mellow approach to a much heavier one as opposed to the other way around, and at the same speed of this quintet is an achievement in itself. Just the titles of the tracks themselves, like ‘If I Could Be Frank, You’re Ugly!’, and ‘I’ll Have To Warn You, This Won’t Be Quick’ give off an aggressive and hostile impression.

Frontman and lyricist Ryan Zimmerman claimed to have much more concentration and had a lot more patience when writing the album’s lyrical content, by making himself wait until a melody was complete before putting pen to paper. The songs themselves also have a darker content to them, and derive a lot from movies and stories Ryan indulged during the creation of the release. Opening track and leading single ‘Blue Morning’ draws inspiration from the rage-infected zombies that star in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later films, with lyrics like “I’m one of them now / Quarantine me”, “You better lock the doors and hide” and “I don’t blame you for wanting me dead” putting Ryan in the position of one of these horror characters.

In the area of vocal work, Greeley Estates have pulled out an effort of a haunting and out of place vocal inclusion in the tracks ‘Go West Young Man’, and ‘If We Are Going Out, Let’s Go Out In Style’ which seem to work surprisingly well for this style of music. The musicianship and talent within the other members, like guitarists Alejondro Torres and Brandon Hackeson with their efforts in songs like ‘Mother Nature Is A Terrorist’ aren’t to go unmentioned or forgotten. The drum work used throughout, espeically in songs like ‘You’re Just Somebody I Used To Know’ keep the power going in this group and hold the jelly of the songs into one.

Greeley Estates aren’t the biggest post-hardcore act out their by any means, but their choice and direction of a heavier sound in ‘Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East’ was a smart one. Surely not one to impress those keen on previous releases like ‘Secret’, but one that will position and mature the band into a recognisable act in the alternative music field.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Goo Goo Dolls – Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles

Release Date: November 19th, 2007
Label: Warner Bros.
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.googoodolls.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/googoodolls

The Goo Goo Dolls profile

When it comes to a Greatest Hits compilation from any band, you’re to expect what is obviously a collection of songs that have been the most important points within the band’s career. The Goo Goo Dolls are no exception, planning to release two different greatest hits compilations in the space of a few months apart from one another. ‘Volume One’ is the band’s singles, and most of them are absolute stormers.

Tracks like ‘Let Love In’ and ‘Here Is Gone’ carry that traditional sound which The Goo Goo Dolls are well-known and loved for. The radio friendly and very adaptable soft alternative rock genre is one they’ve made the best of, improving each aspect of its criteria close to utmost perfection. They have their moments on display here where they’re a little more mellow than they are usually, such as with ‘Name’, which is also a new version of the original from the ‘A Boy Named Goo’ album. But by no means have they made the song any worse by slightly tampering with it.

‘Broadway’ is one sample of the more hairbrush moment songs that appears in the tracklisting. The dark undertone in the lyrics doesn’t seem to dampen this effect either, See, you’d love to run home / but you know you ain’t got one / ’cause you’re living in a world / that you’re best forgotten.” is definitely one of the more sinister offerings The Goo Goo Dolls have on their table.

Another song featured is the recent release contributed to the Transformers movie, ‘Before It’s Too Late’. From listening to the other songs on the CD you can see how the band have changed, and arguably improved their sound throughout the past 20 years they’ve been at this game. However, nothing has been able to compete with the worldwide success and popularity of ‘Iris’. A song that has been covered by other artists such as New Found Glory and Ronan Keating shows it’s true brilliance through its original creators, and leave all other attempts at such a masterpiece in the dust.

A marking point in the bands career of over 20 years making much, The Goo Goo Dolls releasing a Greatest Hits of the band’s singles was a sensible move, especially compared to acts like McFly who decide releasing a Greatest Hits compilation album after just 3 years is a brilliant idea. A showcase that there are decent musical acts still out there still going strong, but if you’ve got most of the songs present on this collection then there’s not much point in purchasing this. You’ll just be getting what’s already in your collection, with the only change being a slightly different version of ‘Name’ and a remix of ‘Feel The Silence’.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: The Ghost Of A Thousand – New Hopes, New Demonstrations

Release Date: June 1st, 2009
Label: Epitaph
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.theghostofathousand.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/theghostofathousand

The Ghost Of A Thousand profile

In 2007, The Ghost Of A Thousand tore up the British punk scene with their debut effort ‘This Is Where The Fight Begins’. The Brighton boys weren’t afraid of pushing musical boundaries and their interpretation of hardcore punk was welcomed with open arms. Two years later and the quintet release sophomore album ‘New Hopes, New Demonstrations’. The band wanted to create a record that was “weird and dark” and felt that producer Pelle Gunnefeldt (Refused, The Hives) had the ability to bring out a much more sinister side to them.

This record is a whirlwind of emotions from start to finish, and I’m pleased to find that there is a range of diversity and variety track after track. Opener ‘Moved As Mountains, Dreamt By The Sea’ is a superb start to the album, welcomed by Lacey‘s immense vocals, the song showcases the band’s familiar hardcore sound we’ve all come to know and love. However the quintet make it very clear early on in the record that they are not afraid to experiment. ‘Split The Atom’ showcases the group in a very different light, they are pushing towards the alternative rock genre and somehow manage to pull it off with great success. ‘Knees, Toes, Teeth’ stands out like a sore thumb – if fellow UK punk band Gallows and rock n roll legend Bruce Springsteen were to ever team up, this is close to what it would sound like. Another noticable change is the intensification in lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, the songwriting skills used on This Is Where The Fight Begins were witty, but it’s clear to see that they have improved a great deal over the past two years. You can’t help but notice the constant reference to oceanic imagery – it must be all that seaside air down south.

‘New Hopes, New Demonstrations’ is a memorable album with strong music and sturdy lyrics, and seemingly the Brighton five-piece can do no wrong. The Ghost Of A Thousand have once again destroyed any expectations of them sticking to a particular style of music and staying to common and safe ground. The noticeable change in sound throughout the album is symbolic of a band who have progressed, and leaves them hard to categorise them into just one genre. Lacey was very right in saying “… the perception of us as a band within a scene will be blown apart now”. I can’t even begin to imagine what album number three will sound like!

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: Funeral For A Friend – Memory And Humanity

Release Date: October 13th, 2008
Label: Join Us
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.ffafmusic.co.uk
MySpace: www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend

Funeral For A Friend profile

The last time we heard from Funeral For A Friend was with last year’s experimental concept effort, ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’. Unfortunately for the boys, it ended up being their least successful album to-date, and also proved to be a strong reason their label at the time, Atlantic Records, dropped them. Determined to carry on, the band formed their own label Join Us, and returned strong with their fourth album, ‘Memory And Humanity’.

It’s clear from the off-set that Funeral For A Friend have taken a step back from their more commercial alternative rock sound evident on the previous album, and have inserted more of their original post-hardcore roots from ‘Hours’ and ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’, giving them a much more stable and mature sound than before. The skills and talent of guitarists Darran Smith and Kris Coombs-Roberts is still on show and as strong as it’s always been, especially in tracks like ‘To Die Like Mouchette’, and ‘Constant Illuminations’. Songwriting skills have improved once more, with the constant tug-o-war like approach of quiet sections and heavier bursts in ‘Maybe I Am?’, and the rejection of the common verse-chorus-verse approach in ‘Waterfront Dance Club’ shows a growth in musicianship. It’s nice to see a more anarchy and rebellious-esque number from the Welsh boys too, with ‘You Can’t See The Forest For The Wolves’ holding a punk-like verse, and a heavy distorted breakdown showing one of the band’s heaviest offerings since their second album back in 2005. ‘Building’ proves to be one of the strongest moments from this release, a quiet solemn acoustic-like number, shedding apart the chorus from the verses beautifully. Along with this, ‘Ghosts’ is easily one moment in the album where you’ll definitley detect the band’s step back towards their old sound, with a lacing of aggression and altering sections progressing from one another steadily with great finese.

Funeral For A Friend have taken a strong move taking a step back from their last full-length album, producing a collection of songs that are easily their most mature to-date. These boys aren’t down and out for a while just yet.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Funeral For A Friend – Waterfront Dance Club

Release Date: July 28th, 2008
Label: Join Us Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.funeralforafriend.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend

Funeral For A Friend profile

Over the years, Funeral For A Friend have gradually moved away from the heavier and dotted scream sounds evident from ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ album, and more towards a mainstream rock-pop band. ‘Waterfront Dance Club’ seems to show the band moving back to their original sound slightly, but creating something that’s different from their earlier work.

From the start off with the chugging introduction, this single shows a band who never want to do the same thing twice, blending their old ideas with their new comforts. This may be due to the fact that creating their own label Join Us Records has given them more time to concentrate and work on their material until they’re happy. The very quick and developed transitions from the verse to the chorus are well structure, and shows the band have worked on their talents.

Let’s just hope that the rest of the album release isn’t another step towards mainstrem rock-pop.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Full Blown Chaos – Heavy Lies The Crown

Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 3/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fullblownchaos

Full Blown Chaos profile

Metal and hardcore are genres which have stood the test of time, going through ups and downs over the years. There have been many successful acts and failed acts to accompany this, Full Blown Chaos are one of those acts that embrace that genre, but are definitely not a key band to be remembered within it, at least with what they bring with ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’.

From what this album has to offer, Full Blown Chaos just seem to want to churn out the same old metal in 12 different tracks with slight alterations. Sure, the songs have different variations within the riffs and lyrics as in every song you’ll ever hear, but there’s almost no change whatsoever in vocal work, or what the song brings to the listener at all. Just listening to tracks like ‘The Hard Goodbye’ and ‘Fail Like A Champ’ you can see how much this band are influenced by the likes of Sepultura and Machine Head, but instead of creating something new with it, they just seem to be recycling it and putting their mark upon it.

But to be fair, the album isn’t complete with boring songs repeated throughout. ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ does contain some stand out tracks which don’t sound like the other 80% of songs on the record. The title track is just one of these, and has it’s moments where you’re not just pummelled with cliché riffs. ‘All For Nothing’ is another key moment, where you can actually feel the emotion and anger channelling through in the music, like metal and hardcore music should do. The music actually grows, alters, and progresses throughout which is something that you’re after in an album.

It’s not like the musicians aren’t talented either, ‘Mojave Red Pt.1’ is a nice showcase of great guitar work and musicianship. If they used this kind of skill and co-operation just a little more often they’d be doing something great, sadly this isn’t the case. This then progresses onto ‘Mojave Red Pt.2’ which is a nice example of this band doing something a bit more intense, heavy, and exciting. The question is: Why didn’t they do this earlier?

Not a key moment in metal here from Full Blown Chaos. If they want to release another album in the future then they’re gonna have to step up in their game a little bit, or they’re gonna get crushed by the competition.

Written by Zach Redrup

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