Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Make Do and Mend - Part and Parcel

Pop punk-ish band Make Do and Mend from Hartford, CT have recently released a cool little acoustic EP featuring four old songs re-imagined acoustically, one completely new song, and one cover of an awesome Touche Amore song. It’s actually a pretty cool little album, overall. My only beef with it being that when performed in this style, and with vocalist James’s voice, these songs sound very much like some late 90s/early 2000s radio rock ballad type shit. If you can get over that, it’s a solid release.

The first song, “Unknowingly Strong,” and the last (untitled) song are the two that don’t really suffer much from this weird radio rock ballad feel, and they also both happen to be my favorite on this release. The first of those two is pretty much just awesome acoustic version of an already awesome song, whereas the second is an all new song, and has this really cool folk feel to it. These two songs alone make this a pretty worthwhile purchase, and the rest are just there to drive it home.

You can stream this EP for free over at Make Do and Mend’s bandcamp page, and I heavily recommend you do just that. It’s an enjoyable album and is practically flawless if it’s a style of music you’re into. It seriously sounds great and you should definitely check it out!


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Andrew James & The Steady Tiger- Red in Tooth and Claw

Andrew James & The Steady Tiger is this really talented bluegrass band from Cape Town, South Africa. The band is actually just a guitarist (Andrew James) and a drummer (James van Minnen), which is pretty cool. The music is extremely calming, fun to listen to, and really talented. I actually fell asleep listening to this record last night. Released on the 5th of August of this year.
They have an amazing roots sound with this great mix of instruments. It's calming, it's inspiring, and it's fun. Andrew James has a very talented and controlled voice that I adore, and his array of instruments is very impressive. It all gets tied together by van Minnen's fun and interesting percussion choices. I absolutely love the duo. This is the kind of music I want to paint to.
Songs worth bringing up are "Swansong," "Harder than My Bones," "Rushing," and "Under the Umbrella."
"Swansong" is a slow and brooding song with a great guitar intro. It's very Joe Bonamassa and I love it. The melody is intricate and weaves around itself in the best of ways. It leaves an amazing first impression and I'm immediately hooked.
"Harder than My Bones" shows off Andrew James' banjo skills and it's really a great song. The percussion really gives it a serious tone and a powerful beat. The back-up vocals rock. Great song.
"Rushing" is a sweet, slow song with a great vocal melody that I adore.
Lastly, "Under the Umbrella" has the best guitar melody ever.

Such a great album! love it.
You can download it for free, too!
Learn more about Andrew James & the Steady Tiger!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Scrap Kids- All That I Can't Be

I'm a bad reviewer, guys. We have this huge waiting list right now that we've been doing our very best to get through, but tonight, something happened. I was talking to my friend Tim McGowan when he sends me this link... And I freaked out. No, Idle and I both freaked out. This kid is amazing. Scrap Kids is Lawson from Pennsylvania. Acoustic ska. This is his third release, and it's been on Bandcamp since the 22nd. I don't know when it was/will be released. Sorry.

"Reminiscing," the intro really show's off Lawson's voice. It's got great lyrics too, but I love his voice. I was hooked straight from this song. "All That I Can't Be" has great guitar, amazing lyrics, and is just so great. It's extremely upbeat and catchy and sweet. I can't get enough of it. "Just Five More Minutes" has the best lyrics. Super catchy and just flat out FUN. "The Straw That Broke The Hater Camel's Back" wins the WTF title award, and proofs that he's a versatile musician. Oh, and weird. "Testament" is just a really, really sweet song. I honest to god want to cover every single one of these songs. I would play them all day. The solo in this one is great. All I have to say about his High Anxiety cover is holy fuck. Lastly, "Connor" is an amazing way to finish the EP.

Somehow, in the last week of 2011, this guy I've never heard of before has made his way into my favorite artists of 2011. Kudos, dude. Thanks.


Dead End Story- Dead End Story EP

I think this might be our first review of a Finnish band, everyone! This is Dead End Story from Oulu, Finland. They've been together since fall of 2010. They're awesome. This EP was released on July 19th of this year, and you can download it for free on their bandcamp! RIYL Hot Water Music, Leatherface
Dead End Story is a pretty straightforward punk band. It's very melodic and technical. The guitarist is extremely talented. So are the other musicians, clearly, but damn. That guitar makes me happy.
The EP is a single, but I can't wait to hear more from them.
"Workaholic" starts off with a strong guitar beat and then goes straight into a super awesome guitar intro. The vocals are awesome, and all the instruments work together really well.
"Yesterday's Burden" is a great song. My ska-o-meter is going crazy though. Oh Finnish melodic punk band, why are you playing ska riffs? Squee. How happy-making. Anyway, the song is really good. The little ska-fit ends and it goes into another badass punk song. No horns, in case you were wondering. 
This is a great single. Listen to it!


Lie Captive- The Hopeless North

Lie Captive is this badass punk group from Plattsburgh, NY. They got together in the summer of 2010, and have since released an EP and a full length, both on DTFH records. This was released in November of this year. RIYL Polar Bear Club, The Get Up Kids, The Draft.
So let me start off by saying I love this record. It's interesting, it's powerful, it's loud, and the songs are short. Badass.
The first track, "Whatever May Come From Here" is a really chill acoustic track that lies to you. It lies to you because it makes you think these boys are mellow. They aren't. (Musically, at least.)
"Judas Like The Last Time" is a great track with a nice guitar/bass balance and great vocals coming from Tyler Oliver and Chris Parmelee. The drum rhythm is interesting enough to make me pay attention to it, which I don't do very often. We're starting on a good foot, Lie Captive!
"Weight of Meager Pay" takes on one of the most socially-relevant topics on America today, and does it quite well. The lyrics are thoughtful, the music is catchy, and the beat rocks.
The music is very guitar driven and fast. It's a little technical without sounding over-the-top and the melody always has an interesting "play" to it. They play fast, but they get a nice variation on tempo to keep it fun.
"Lit Screen Commodity" is one of my favorite songs. It starts off slow and pretty, and then launches into this badass song that shows off the bass (<3) and has a great beat to it.
This is an awesome record. Check it out.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grand Hotel Paradox- Louder Than Lyrics

Do you guys remember Grand Hotel Paradox? You should. This is such a great band. It seems like just yesterday I was sticking their stickers all over the United States (Send in a picture if you ever see one, it was probably me.) and reviewing their last EP. In July, they released a new single that's badass. Check it out! RIYL punk rock.
The first track, "Wake Up Call" has really powerful lyrics and a super catchy bass line. It kind of makes you want to dance. Ants in your pants, yeah? Sorry, I'll stop with the rhyming. Politically charged, talented, and full of energy straight after a tour is the best combination for writing an album. Badass.
The next song, "Louder than Lyrics" is absolutely amazing. Holy shit. It's got a guitar line that sounds like pins and needles- in the best of ways. It gives an atmosphere of desperation and determination. The bass and drums are stronger than hell. I'm just going to tell you guys the lyrics now:
"the only bars that we're behind are 4/4 signature time 

and we are able to find the key much more easily 

we are just the commentators, we're not in the boxing ring 
we are just the war reporters, gotta keep our hands clean 

but dictators won't step down and economies won't shape up 
if you just sing 

actions speak louder than lyrics 

but dictators won't step down and economies won't shape up 
if you just sing"
Have I won you over yet? You should be nodding your head "yes" right about now.

Check it out!


Ridgemont - Colder Days

A long time has elapsed since the last moment in which I’ve had the pleasure of discovering a new band that hit all the right spots musically for me. Until today, that is.

Ridgemont play a gritty-as-fuck brand of pop punk that seriously strikes home for me. I obsess over bands like Dear Landlord, Dillinger Four, Mayflower, Pinhead Gunpowder, Arms Aloft, The Dopamines, and all the other usual suspects for this type of beer-chugging, vocal-chord-ruining, energetic and infectious pop punk shit. I love it.

Ridgemont from Allston, MA fit into the above list rather perfectly, with their new 12” ‘Colder Days’ being an excellent example for this. (I’d also like to accentuate the fact that they’re from Massachusetts, because long time readers of Idle and the Bear are probably quite used to the fact that I have some weird sort of musical hard-on for MA at this point. I don’t know what it is about that state, but for past couple years they’ve done nothing but release excellent pop punk band after excellent pop punk band. Seriously, it’s great.) These guys gave us 14 awesome pop punk jams to take over our musical enjoyment for the remaining weeks of the 2011 calendar. I’m not saying you’re going to just quit listening to them once the “clock” strikes 2012, because you’re not likely to let go of them at all.

The music on this ‘Colder Days’ album is absolutely perfect. There’s the right amount of interesting/impressive guitar leads mixed in with an abundance of beyond catchy, throaty vocal melodies. If you’re a fan of the pop punk genre, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be a fan of this record. And if you’re not a fan of this record, I’m not entirely sure that I’m a fan of you. I don’t know...maybe that’s a bit harsh. But honestly, I feel like I’d be hard pressed to find a soul in the scene who would turn up their nose and scoff at this awesome band. That’s just impossible!

Get your hands on ‘Colder Days’ by Ridgemont from Kiss of Death Records! You can even just get your digital hands on a digital copy for free! What beats that?


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adaje/Shark Bait Split 7"

This is quite possibly the most interesting release I've listened to in a long time. Adaje, a strange mix of progressive and the 90s, paired up with Shark Bait, who are kind of like 90s emo, but not. Shark Bait is from Lafayette, LA and Adaje is from Memphis. Released in September.

Let's start with Adaje. The first track, "Caveman" shows extreme musicianship. I liked that a lot. It's an extremely intriguing song with lots of dynamic and talent. Not too big of a fan of the vocals, but there are barely any vocals, so it was okay. The bass, guitar, and drums were all extremely pleasant to listen to, though.
The second, "Cavemen Not Cometh" has a really catchy melody for the intro.
They're good at what they do, I will grant them this. I'm just unskilled in discussing what they do.
I really, really enjoyed Shark Bait's half. Maybe it's because I have a weakness for Cursive, I dunno. "High Horse" is unbelievably catchy. The bass line of the little interlude is great.
"Something Old, Something New" is also a really great song. They have a really amiable sound that you can get really into.

If you're looking for new music with a new sound, look no further, people. I can honestly say that I haven't heard anyone that sounds quite like these guys, and that's hard to do.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Declaration - Searching For the Answers

There are two very important things that the band Declaration (Pee Records) have taught me today:

  1. Hardcore punk bands from Melbourne consist of members that appear as if they belong in a third wave ska band.
  2. Hardcore punk bands from Melbourne have the potential to be fucking awesome, and Declaration are a perfect example of living up to, and then exceeding that potential.
‘Searching For the Answers’ is the debut 7” from Declaration and it’s filled to the brim with melodic hardcore punk excellence. Environmentalists, look no further for your alternative source of energy! Just find a way to extract the pure musical chaos presented by Melbourne hardcore group Declaration and I think we’d probably be all set to power everything on the planet for another hundred years or so...and I think that’s really plenty of time to finish whatever the hell we’re on this planet to be working on.

While Declaration’s musical influences may be easily discerned simply by listening to this 7” (Champion, Black Flag, Casey Jones, Municipal Waste, etc.), the listener definitely won’t find themselves mistaking them for any other band. Declaration takes the meat and potatoes of the genre and adds their own flavor to it. And the result is pretty fucking tasty, really. So, do yourself a favor and get your hands on this record, because you’re only hurting yourself by putting it off any longer.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greenland is Melting - Where Were We

Greenland Is Melting are this folk punk band from one of the few folk punk capitals of the United States, which of course would have to be Gainesville, Florida (home of The Fest). Upon checking them out though, I’d be hard pressed to immediately think, “Gainesville” just by hearing them. They’re more bluegrassy than Steve Martin’s band...hell, they’re more bluegrassy than my entire state...and I live in the Bluegrass State.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything quite like Greenland Is Melting. Their music is blatantly bluegrass/folk with vocals that very much complement the style. The lyrics are very much in the typical style of folk punk, which is to say it’s very folk, but with a bit more edge to it. This isn’t your grandma’s folk band...unless your grandma is a badass with great taste in music.

Greenland’s new album ‘Where Were We’ is a perfect example of just how good folk music can be. Each song is infinitely catchy and relatable, and you can’t go wrong with some banjo and upright bass when they’re performed so damn expertly. My favorite song on the release is either every single song, or “The Dead Are Watching”; it’s honestly too close to call. You’ll have to make the final decision on that yourself, dudes.

‘Where We Were’ is currently up for sale on Paper + Plastick for not very much money at all, making it the perfect purchase in this hectic holiday season. Slip that shit in somebody’s stocking or exchange it as a secret Santa present, and people will most certainly fall in love with you. It’s 13 tracks of pure bluegrass/folk-punk amazingness and you’re only doing yourself a serious disservice by not getting your hands on it immediately. You can also download Greenland’s older material from their band website, and that’s always an awesome bonus. It’s all worth it!


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Story So Far- Under Soil and Dirt

Honestly, it's hard NOT to like The Story So Far. With their super-catchy melodies, strong harmonies, heartfelt vocals, and powerful lyrics, I can guarantee you'll find yourself bouncing along with this band with me. To be honest, you probably already are. This album was released in this past summer on Pure Noise records. RIYL Fireworks, The Wonder Years, Transit, or Saves the Day.
I listened to this album twice, and then immediately sent Idle a text. "The Story So Far might be my new favorite pop punk band."
I honestly mean that. I rant over bands all the time, but I never say anything that extreme, right?
The combination of perfect lyrics and catchy melodies is just perfect.
"Roam" has this awesome rhythm and the vocal pattern is genius. Parker Cannon does  some of the best harmonies I've heard in quite a while. "High Regard" follows the same pattern- the lyrics blow me away. It's like if Soupy Campbell and Justin Pierre had a lyrical baby, and it turned into this group. 
The music is study, steady, and powerful. The vocals are heartfelt and powerful. The themes of the songs are powerful.Getting my drift so far?The guitar is always interesting, the bass is innovating, the drummer is badass, etc. etc. etc. 
"Mt Diablo" is interesting- the tempo and dynamic changes keep you listening without zoning out. It's feel good music. There's even a little bit of a breakdown towards the end, but it's so minor and it fit so well that I didn't even mind!
Instead of having instruments take turns being the "power sound" like a lot of bands do, The Story So Far really seems to work together. Everyone plays their equal part and it sounds great.
This CD is going to be in my car for a long, long time. End of story.

If you haven't yet, check them out!


Rejectioneers - 25 EP

Honestly, the only issue we have when it comes to reviewing indie records would have to be the fact that we’re completely brain dead when it comes to any sort of background with that scene. We’re ska kids and pop punk dorks. Seriously, that sums us up pretty well. But, we do know a good album when we hear one, regardless of genre, and this band Rejectioneers not long ago put out an excellent fucking EP called ’25’.

Rejectioneers sounds like the result of taking They Might Be Giants, Foo Fighters, Ben Folds, and Jimmy Eat World and just mashing them all together into this perfect concoction of indie rock gold. That’s probably the neatest way to put it, too. (I mean neat as in organized...not like the way Beaver Cleaver would say it). ’25’ happens to be Rejectioneers’s debut release...which for some reason just makes it all that better to me. I already just considered it to be an excellent album, but now that I know it’s the first official demonstration of what this band has to offer, I’m just all that more into it.

The few songs on ’25' are catchy, thought-out and complex where necessary while being simple where it counts. Your ears aren’t doing homework here! They’re taking a vacation! A much needed one, too, because the latter half of this year has definitely been lacking in excellence. Well, here’s your fucking excellence!

Do yourself the favor of all favors by downloading Rejectioneers’s ’25’ EP for free over at their bandcamp page. You’re missing out if you don’t, and nobody likes to be missing out. Except for creepy, weird people. And our readers are neither creepy or weird...despite the fact that we are...


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Nightlights- So It Goes

Nightlights is such a great band. From the second I heard their 2009 demo, I was in love. Alex, Jake, Matt, and Joe are all really talented guys and they make great sound together. They're from Daytona Beach in Florida, and this album was released on Eulogy in July. RIYL Latterman, Menzingers, Iron Chic, or Red City Radio
Nightlights is one of those rare bands that fits into two of the best categories: "interestingly different" and "comfortably the same." I'm gonna be honest- it doesn't have a new sound. In fact, it's very similar to most other modern punk bands. HOWEVER. It's got something different to it to make you want to listen to it. Maybe it's Matt's voice, or the organization of their rhythms. I don't know what it is, but I like it.
"When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies" sounds like the name of a poem you wrote in freshman year, but it's not. It's a lot more talented than that. Slow melody with mostly rhythm instrumentals going on. 
"Truffle Shuffle" is one of the better songs on the album. I really like the lyrics and the vocals on it. The guitar-bass ratio is also a pretty cool sound.
"Obviously You're Not A Golfer" is a great song. It's got a pretty nice intro and a calm melody to it. It's (as always) addictive as hell.
"That John Denver is Full of Shit!" is my favorite track. It's a kickass song with a great rhythm and the lyrics are great.
"Good Morning Mr. Breakfast" has the best song title on the entire album, and that's hard to do with these guys. The titles are all amusing. Oh, and the outro to this song is badass.
"There's Something New In Nothing" is super pretty. 

The rest of the album continues being pretty good. I wouldn't say it's the best I've heard lately, but it definitely impressed me and held up their reputation in my mind. Listen to it!


Speaker For the Dead - I Hope You Have Fun While You Sleep

This seriously has be the greatest album released this year. I'm serious. I've used serious multiple times now! That's how seriously serious I am. Okay, I'm done being annoying now. Well, I'm done being intentionally annoying, at least. Speaker For the Dead is what Greg McKillop from Worchester, MA calls his solo project (or is it a collective in this case, due to the additional members on some release?).  Greg has a whole bunch of music up on the SFTD bandcamp page, and it's all pretty awesome... but it's kind of logical that I should focus on the most recent release 'I Hope You Have Fun While You Sleep'...so here we are:

Pretty much immediately after starting up the first song "Journal" on this short release, you'll be stoked on your choice to have done so. It's a very emo-punk styled instrumental track reminiscent of bands like Shinobu and Laura Stevenson and the Cans. Actually, this EP sounds so much like some of the music you'd find on Quote Unquote Records' website that I'm quite surprised it's not. This song functions as the perfect lead in to "St. Peter", which is probably one of the best folk influenced songs I've ever heard. The accompaniment of trumpet and tuba (delightfully performed by Larry Wilson) on parts of this record is a beautiful touch, as it goes so well with Greg's beautiful vocals. These songs bear a stylistic resemblance to bands like Defiance Ohio, The Taxpayers, and RVIVR, and I'm liking every second of it.

"Pile of Dirt" is a not only a great point in my argument for synthesizer being a gift from above, but also an amazing fucking song. Also, Greg and his friends once again remind me of Shinobu at this point. It also reminds me heavily of the 'Your Favorite Weapon' album by that Brand New band. Hmm...

Do your punk rocker duty and head over to Speaker For the Dead's bandcamp page and stream or download this album. It's fantastic. I mean it. There's nothing more I can say about the album that you won't immediately understand by checking it out for yourself. That's what's awesome about bandcamp and other music streaming websites! Everyone likes to try shit before they buy it.


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Wild- A Collection

The Wild is awesome. I think we all know that. You've heard us geek out about them before here and you're about to hear it again. Easily the best folk punk in Atlanta (I don't know if there is any other folk punk in Atlanta, to be honest) and it shows. This record is exactly what the name says- a collection of different works. It contains songs from live recordings, splits, and EPs. I wish more bands would do this, because it makes listening to the harder to find and scattered out music much easier. This came out in July of this year. RIYL The Weakerthans, Ghost Mice, Defiance Ohio, and Billy Bragg

Tracks 1-4 are off of their split with Pedals on our Pirate Ships. "Mudlines" is a great song with awesome lyrics (as per the usual) and a super catchy melody. It has great contrasts and I love the harmonies.
Tracks 5 and 6 are from their split with Run, Forever. "To Be Content" has a great drum and bass intro. It's a really great song, and it's a little quieter than the usual with them. 
7 through 11 are all from the self titled EP. "We Will Drive Those Warlords Out" has always been a favorite of theirs for me. The harmonia melody is so pretty and the lyrics are some of my favorite ever. It's such a great song. I'm ashamed to say how many hours I've spent playing this song on guitar. 
12, 13, and 14 were all recorded for various things.
"Everything We Need" was for If You Make It, and it's great. I love Diana's voice, and you can hear it 
more clear than usual on this stripped-down track. It's a pretty cute song.

I'm so glad that this CD exists. It gives you a nice taste of them if you haven't heard of them, and it's like a bonus to the older fans.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Prevenge/Dig It Up Split 7"

I love split records. I love listening to the new songs, the experiments, the covers, and the co-work. Lots of times, I discover bands solely because they did a split with a band I already like. This right here is a split record from Prevenge and Dig It Up out of Montreal. The two bands are extremely close, and released this album together on Pavones Records in the summer of 2011. Prevenge are a heavier version of pop punk, and Dig It Up are a mix of grunge and hardcore punk.
I absolutely LOVE Prevenge. So great. The first track, "Berry'd Alive" not only made me giggle, but impressed me. Super catchy, nice guitar riff at the beginning, and great vocals. It's got a vintage pop punk feel, which is pretty cool. It's a really fast, bouncy song with a very sing-along-able vocal melody.
"Wicked Mess" is a little softer of a song, but not any less awesome. It has a more prominent bass line, and it's an interesting song. Love it.
To be honest, I didn't like Dig It Up at first. It wasn't that they were bad, the sound was just strange to me. But I've listened to the record 3 times now, and I have to admit... they've grown on me. A lot.
I still wouldn't say it's my favorite, but I do plan on listening to them more.
It's very fast and rough sounding with lots of extensive guitar work. "Move My Way" is my favorite one. It's fast and I like the drums a lot. The melody, once you pick it up, is really addictive and cool-sounding.
"Cops On Horses" has a funny name and the ending is also funny. The song is once again, really fast and powerful. I would love to see these guys live, because I bet the crowd just goes insane. 

Overall, really enjoyed it.

There were only 500 of these made, so I advise you JUMP ON IT! I already took one of the white ones though, sorry. That leaves 99 left for everyone else to fight over... But some of those are probably gone too. I have faith in you! Buy it! It's five dollars.


The Mighty Fine- In Revival

The Mighty Fine are this badass punk band from San Luis Obispo. They combine almost all the punk subgenres on this album at one point or another, and it sounds great. It's a pretty awesome sound and I fell in love right away. This is their sophomore release, and their first with Solidarity Records. It came out in August. RIYL Menzingers, Against Me!, or Hot Water Music.

This is a very melodic record with impressive harmonies and riffs. It's just flat out interesting. Brook Thompson has THAT voice. You know what I mean, that guy that you always wanted to sing for your punk band but was too into grunge/hip hop/metal/whatever in high school so he never joined your band. Except in this reality, he does like punk rock. And he's damned good at it. He also plays guitar. Mikey Castillo (bass) makes some impressive harmonies with it, and I like him best. Just because I like bassists.
To tie it all together, Chris Scott is a great drummer. It always takes a good drummer to really tie together music and give it the right sound. 
The first track, "Revive" is really, really catchy. It pretty much sets a tone for the rest of the album.
Some of my favorite songs are "To Indiana," "Flow," "Paper Trails," and "Catching Up To Tired."
"To Indiana" has this really addictive intro, it's a little pop-punk, and it's so great. The song is a mix of tempos and sounds. It's a goddamn ballad. It almost made Indiana suck less in my mind. almost.
"Heroes On TV" has the best lyrics on the entire album- not to mention the melody rocks. It's a little repetitive, but the beats are great. I fullheartedly approve.
This album is awesome, seriously. Perfect mix of hard and soft, lots of musicianship, and most importantly, it will stay in your head for fucking WEEKS.
"Ambassadors" is a perfect example of how dynamic they are. It's slower, but they rock that, too. It has much more of the roots influence showing through.

I advise you look into these boys.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New vinyls out from Paper + Plastick

It's a good day to be an employed fan of punk music (or possibly some punk dude or chick who won the lottery or found a few bucks on the sidewalk)! Paper + Plastick have released 7 new, reasonably priced albums on vinyl! There's 'Idle Ages' by Junior Battles, 'Hey, Hey Pioneers!' by Farewell Continental, 'Hither & Yon' by Reverse the Curse, the Smash/Grab EP from Riverboat Gamblers, a split between Red City Radio and The Gamits, a collection of songs over the years on 2x LP by Plow United, and a compilation of female-fronted punk bands titled 'Are You With the Band?'

Actually, it's a good day to be a broke punk with internet access too, because the first five albums I listed are also on Paper + Plastick's SoundCloud page for free streaming purposes. But, if you have the spare cash, you should probably do yourself a favor and pick up one or so of these records from the Paper + Plastick online store.

Here are short reviews of some of these new records!

Red City Radio/The Gamits split 7"

Red City Radio and The Gamits have a thing or two in common...they're both awesome pop punk groups and the bear and I both love the both of them. And now, they have this split together! How badass is that? Very, I know. If you like The Dopamines, House Boat, For Science, Vacation, or any other pop punk band that sounds remotely like any of the ones I just listed, you'll probably dig this split. You can read two reviews from our site regarding Red City Radio's last release; one from the bear, and one from myself.

Riverboat Gambler's - Smash/Grab

Riverboat Gamblers are what I guess you'd call an awesome fucking pop punk group. They don't directly resemble any band I can think of, and that's definitely a positive thing. I mean, they play pop punk...or at least some version of it, and they do it pretty damn well. There's not really much more you need to know! There's tons of energy and awesomeness, just like there's tons of talent and infectiousness. Perfect.

Reverse the Curse - Hither & Yon

I have to admit, this turned out to be a pretty good album. After turning on Reverse the Curse's new release 'Hither & Yon', I can't say I was immediately into it at all. The music came off as a bit dull and I was pretty much prepared to just write it off as an album I just couldn't possibly get into. A few songs later, it turned out that I was wrong. This is actually a pretty solid post-hardcore punk album. It's passionate, impressive, infectious, and just about everything else it needed to be in order to win me over in the end. I definitely recommend it to anyone who has ever been at all interested in this particular sub genre.

Junior Battles - Idle Ages

Farewell Continental - Hey, Hey Pioneers!


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mindset - Midnight Sky

Mindset are this hardcore band from Melbourne, Australia that happen to sound an awful like a mix between Set Your Goals and Kid Dynamite. Earlier this year, in April, Mindset released their debut full length ‘Midnight Sky’ upon the world, and the world rejoiced. I mean, the entire world didn’t rejoice...but hardcore fans certainly did.

Mindset play this brand of hardcore punk music that borrows from pretty much every decade in which hardcore punk existed. The vocals and guitar leads at most times are heavily influenced by 80s hardcore and 90s/2000s metal, whereas there are times in the music where the vocals sound very post-2000 hardcore and the instrumentals don’t hesitate to accompany the vocals by playing the same style of hardcore.

If Mindset threw in any more melodic influence than they currently have, it’d be very difficult to tell them apart from bands like Set Your Goals. But since they stay pretty strictly on the side of hardcore, we can’t in good conscious refer to them as a bro-core punk band by any means. What they are, though, is a hardcore band that managed to change my opinion on recent additions to the genre I’ve grown out of. And they did this by writing some good fucking songs.

If you’re a fan of pretty much any hardcore band within the last 30 years, you definitely owe it to yourself and to Mindset to try this record out. It’s driven and heavy just as much as it is interesting, unique, infectious, and intelligent. This album is post 2010 hardcore punk at its absolute best, and you’re doing yourself a solid by tuning in. You can check it out on Pee Records’ bandcamp page or just purchase it over at iTunes. That part is up to you, really. Just trust me, it’s a fun album that I’ll definitely be listening to quite a few more times this month. You should do the same, dudes!


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Sirs/Run, WALK! split 7”

Today’s Idle review is this awesome post-hardcore split co-released by Topshelf Records and Holy Roar Records (UK). The two bands represented on this release are Sirs from New York and run, WALK! from Winchester. Both bands are amazing, therefore, both sides of this split are pretty damn great. They both play their own unique form of indie/post-hardcore/punk music that is vastly different from most of the bands I come across while reviewing, but at least similar enough between the two bands to qualify the split’s existence.

I have to say I’m much more fond of the Sirs side of the split than the run, WALK! side, despite liking both sides overall. The songs are catchy and short, which are two of my favorite things when it comes to music. In these two songs, there is an awful lot of experimentation with the guitar, and that’s always something worth getting into. I like the attitude behind not just settling with vocals on top of a chord progression; I like the addition of interesting shit instrumentally throughout. It’s clever and fun for the band and for those of us fortunate enough to stumble upon them. There’s also this whole atmospheric feel to the songs, which is something I’ve always found awesome about the genre. It’s definitely due to the ambient guitar tones and the way the drums seem a little distant in the mix. Sirs supply two badass songs for this split, and I know I’ll find myself coming back to listen to them with each new release that comes out now.

As for Run, WALK!’s side of the split: it’s also awesome! It starts off with ‘Rainhouse’, which is admittedly quite a long song, but, at the same time, it’s a fucking awesome song. It starts off with some crazy guitar bits that decide the right thing to do is to never abandon the song, so we’re lucky enough to hear that shit throughout. And then the scathing yell/scream-vocals come in to tear us a new one and pretty much paint us a vivid picture of what a Run, WALK! live show must be like. I imagine beautiful chaos, mosh pits, stage diving, angry British teenagers, and Mordor. I’m pretty sure they play all of their concerts in Mordor. It’s just how it has to be for them. This first song takes a lot of interesting turns musically, and for a song clocking in at over four minutes, it doesn’t give you a single second to grow bored or restless; it’s awesome.

Run, WALK!’s second song on the split is about half the length, but I would never dare say it’s half the energy or half the awesome-i-tude, because it’s definitely high as fuck in both. Seriously, you have no excuse to not grab this split immediately. The record is five dollars! What else were you planning on spending that five dollars on, anyway? Probably fast food or beer or something pretty worthy, but certainly not as worthy as a split between two awesome bands like Sirs and Run, WALK! So do your civic duty, and head over to Topshelf Records or Holy Roar Records and purchase yourself this 7”. Or at least visit the Sirs's bandcamp page and Run, WALK!’s facebook page to listen to the songs off this split. You’d be doing yourself something quite far from a disservice. Later, dudes! Make good choices!


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hightime- Ishi Prende

Hightime is an awesome ska-punk band from Adelaide, Australia. They've been playing together since 2009, and recently signed to Pee Records to release their debut album, Ishi Prende. Nina is an amazing vocalist and the music is absolutely badass. Lately, it's rare to hear any NEW ska-punk bands that don't suck major balls, so it was really exciting to get this. Ishi Prende will be released on the 25th (Black Friday)!

The first song, "Beer Garden," is great. The guitar/bass play of Reuben and Jay is really catchy, and Nina's voice is perfect for the sound. It's a really fun song. The sound is very NOFX meets Save Ferris, if you can picture that (I'm sure you can.) "Share Your Smokes" is another one of the punx-y songs, and it's pretty great. The lyrics are awesome and really up-front, which I love.
"Figure This Out" is probably one of my favorites. It's super addictive. It's been on-and-off stuck in my head for days. 
Other great songs include "Lay Low," "Don't Move Away," and "Lag Behind." "Lag Behind" is INTENSE, dude. I bet seeing them play that song live is crazy.
Overall, I'm just really impressed with the musicianship of these guys.
Last but not least, the ending track "Die For Something" is the best out of all of them. It has male vocals on it, the lyrics are brilliant, and I love the melody.
There's also a little secret on this album!

I really recommend this to all ska fans reading this... Give Hightime a shot!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Decline- Are You Gonna Eat That?

The Decline, in short, rock out. They play melodic punk with a powerful backbone and clever lyrics. Oh, and I love Australian accents. It's pretty much just a winning situation across the board. This album was released in September on Pee Records. RIYL Frenzal Rhomb, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, Millencolin.
This is a great album. How have I not heard this earlier, seriously? It's awesome. Every time I think a record that gets sent to me is the BEST THING EVER, something else comes along... And I realize that maybe it wasn't the best thing ever. And maybe this is the best thing ever. But I have a feeling this CD will end up playing in the car for a while.... It's great. It's like the Aussie DC Fallout. The first song hooks me right away with the pounding bass, strong vocals, and creative guitar patterns. And then, I found out that all the songs were like that. Woah, right?
The lyrics are a great mix of extremely well educated, clever, thought provoking, and sometimes, just FUN. I'm a sucker for social awareness and accents... Have I mentioned that already?
There are songs like "The Financial Equivalent of a Complete Rectal Exam," "A Crash Course in Emotional English," and "Showertime in the Slammer" that we can all find something to relate to in it. Speaking of "Showertime...", it's one of the many songs on this album that includes some audio clips. That I don't recognize, which is strange. I will give my first child to the first person to cite all of these things for me.
"Worlds Apart II" says my name in it. That's my favorite part. Granted, it's only the first half of my name, which is really only used by a little less than half of the people in my life, but still, it made me giggle. The song itself is also badass. It's one of those songs that makes you think, watch out.
The rest of the songs are pretty much either A) Really sweet and clearly for someone special, like "Addison." or B) politically charged awesome magic-glitter.
And by that, I  mean these are some really intelligent guys trying to get a great point across through punk rock and a little bit of fun.
Idle and I want to cover "2006" more than anything. That's all I have to say about that.

Overall, if you're wondering if you should buy this album, the answer is: hell yes.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Run For It - No You Ain’t, We Is

Run For It are this band from Pennsylvania consisting of members from Bangarang, Your Best Regret, and Straight Up! If you happen familiar with any of those bands, you’re likely already prepared for the pop punk awesomeness that they put out in this newer band. They play a brand a pop punk that is very similar to bands like The Wonder Years, Title Fight, Fireworks, and whatever else you feel like throwing in there. They're like a brocore pop punk, but kind of sophisticated. 

Well, the dudes in Run For It have just released their sophomore album ’No You Ain’t, We Is' recently, and I have to say it's pretty badass. Every song (other than the one acoustic song) is packed full of energy, power chords, infectious vocals and solid backup vocals. Oh, and that one acoustic song sounds a lot like that one acoustic song on ‘Suburbia’ by The Wonder Years, meaning it sounds pretty awesome.

I know I say this pretty often, but I also review great bands pretty often, but every song on this album is seriously great. I think I’m in love. Musical love, that is; nothing my girlfriend should be concerned about. The vocalist of Run For It reminds me very much of Patrick from Fall Out Boy. Like how I just threw that in the middle of some random paragraph? I’m such a professional, guys.

You can stream this album for free on their facebook and their stereokiller pages, or you can purchase it on itunes so that you can listen to it wherever you go! I highly recommend both options, really. Stream it so that you can test it before you buy it, then once you undoubtedly fall in love with it, buy it. Fool proof plan! If you’re into anthemic pop punk with heavy guitars, catchy vocal melodies perfect for singing along to, and pretty much good music in general, you’re going to dig Run For It. I promise.


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Driven Fear- Contender

Driven Fear, a hardcore punk band from Queensland, Australia, has made quite the name for themselves in the past couple of years. The five boys make hard-hitting, extremely fun songs that I enjoy quite a bit. This record, released on 11/11/11, is 14 songs of pure, undiluted hardcore punk. This was released on Pee Records out of Marden! RIYL Raised Fist, Final Fight, Comeback Kid, Down To Nothing

I'm going to make one thing very clear first- I am not traditionally a hardcore person. Unless we're talking pre-nineties hardcore, I just so rarely get into it. HOWEVER- this record was a different case. From the first track, I found myself getting really into it. The energy is badass, and you just want to move to it! It's extremely raw, fast, catchy, and it pumps you up with the first note. The first thing I said to Idle about Driven Fear is "At some point in our lives, we're going to go to see Driven Fear live. Australia's really fucking far, but I bet it'll be a good time." You can just tell they're great performers. 
Nic Lalot is a great drummer. Can you even imagine how tired he gets after these songs? This is not your typical hardcore drummer- not only is it faster than hell, there's some real refined technique to that. One of my favorite songs to show that off is "March 29th."
"Ten Years" has this awesome guitar riff in it that's super addictive. I can't give any name recognition to this one, because there are two guitarists... So we'll just go with yay for both of them!
"The Hunt" is probably my favorite song on the album. The intro is creepy. In a good way. If I was directing a horror movie, I would play this song at the beginning. I hope that's a compliment- I meant it that way. It changes pretty fast into a lighter tone, though. It's just a really great instrumental track. Everything ties together awesomely and the rhythms and melodies just work around each other perfectly.
Oh, and the bass in "The Contender" wins. It just beats everything else. Bass solos are the best.

Every single track is awesome. I demand that you listen to these guys!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Timeshares - Bearable

Timeshares are awesome. Timeshares are a punk band from New York. Timeshares have recently put their new LP 'Bearable' up for free download at If You Make It, and for vinyl purchase at Kind of Like Records. I don't think the order or structure of these sentence matters all too much. What matters is the overall message. The message you are left with upon clicking the hyperlink to the album download or vinyl purchase and making that plunge into greatness. Greatness in the form of a great fucking album.

From fist pumping beginning to raucous end, this album is a host of excellent scream-a-longs and perfect demonstrations of how scathing and anthemic, dirty pop punk can be done when done by professionals. Both vocalists deliver excellent high energy performances every time they take the microphone, and the band has no trouble at all belting our excellent amounts of noise and melody. Songs like "Focus, Eddie" and "Too Many ELO Days" will not soon leave your mind. They're catchy and ballsy, and just like the rest of the songs, have a bit of obvious Latterman influence being boasted. They also remind me a lot of that one band Mayflower. Those guys are fucking awesome. Arms Aloft too. Damn, I really like this brand of pop punk a shit ton.

If you've been dying for some new infectious beer-can-throwing type of pop punk band to become obsessed with, I don't think you'll need to look much further than this review. Timeshares are obviously perfect for you, from their pop punk chord progressions and vocal melodies to their 90s rock and folk punk influenced bits and pieces, they keep you paying close attention. Seriously, pick up this record immediately, or at least download it for free. I've supplied you with the proper means to do so like three times in this review.


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Beside Myself- Demo

Beside Myself is a new creation of 2011 that I'm very excited about. They share a member with The Regime, Todd Allen, who is a friend of mine and a very talented musician. He teamed up with Estevan Rodriguez and Ricky Schmidt to record this, and it's extremely impressive for a band's first demo. Perhaps the most amazing part about this group is that they started in two different countries- the US and Italy. How cool is that? This demo was released in October.
"Take Your Time" hooked me from the start. It's super catchy, and the 3 instruments work together super well. It's got a powerful bass line, catchy guitar, and the drummer is kickass. I love the fact that Todd and Ricky are both singing- their voices go together great. The lyrics are also enjoyable. Depressing, but enjoyable. Isn't that quite the oxymoron? 
"Something Casual" has a really great intro with a super catchy riff. I love how the bass and guitar play off each other- it's a little bit of a cat-and-mouse game between the instruments. The drums are like the glue of this awesome project... Which makes the band sound like macrame, but I promise this demo is even better than 3rd grade art projects. 
"X-Ray" has my favorite vocals out of the four. 
Last but not least, "Something Casual" is a kick-ass song. It makes your life feel exciting, seriously. If I ever do any undercover missions, play this song in the background- straight up.
It's a really awesome sound. I love demos like this, because normally, bands either sound awesome and have nowhere to evolve, or they suck. However, Beside Myself not only sounds great now, there are so many different ways that they can take their sound. I'm personally excited to see where they go with it.
If you haven't listened to these guys yet, I strongly recommend it.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Transit - Listen & Forgive

Transit are one of those really awesome pop punk bands from Massachusetts that I'm always going on and on about. I've said it before and if Transit's new record 'Listen & Forgive' is any indication, I'll say it a million more times:  they have to be putting something in the water up there. There's no other excuse for how awesome bands like Transit and The Hotel Year are.

So yeah, like last month or something Transit came out with this new album 'Listen & Forgive'. And, as stated in the previous paragraph, it's fucking great. The songs are all unreasonably catchy. The instruments inspire so much awe while the lyrics and vocals demand so much attention at the same time. The record starts off with one of the catchier songs on it, "You Can't Miss It", and it just keeps going uphill from there. I don't think there's a single song on here that I dislike. As mentioned in my review of their record 'Something Left Behind', I love the little guitar leads they have going on throughout all of the songs. It reminds me a lot of bands like American Football and Braid.

I would probably describe Transit as like a laid back version of bands like Saves the Day or The Wonder Years. There are stylist similarities, while the overall feel is ultimately different. They have their own very impressive sound that I think can only be continuing on an uphill path. The title track on this release is just so perfect from beginning to end. The lyrics are boasted by two vocalists and this is pulled off so damn well. Seriously, this is one of the best songs on the album. Transit have this perfect style that gets subsequently harder to compare to other bands with each release. They have their own style and if one of their songs came on while I was at a show or something, I'd for sure know it was them regardless of whether I've heard the song before or not.

With all that being said, you should definitely pick up this record right away, despite the fact that it may mean having to visit Rise Records's webstore. Whatever, I promise it's worth it! Great release and definitely in the running for top 10 albums of 2011. Check it out, dudes!


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Candy Hearts- Everything's Amazing & Nobody's Happy

We love Candy Hearts. Using the words of Idle in our review of Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams, "Candy Heart is a pop punk infused indie group from somewhere north east of us in the New York City area. They play a brand of music which can most easily be compared to awesomeness, or you could compare it to bands like Rvivr, The Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World, and Laura Stevenson and the Cans." So we're a little late on this review, but that's okay.
"Tongue Tied" is one of the cutest songs ever. Candy Hearts are really good at being the cutest thing ever. It's super catchy pop punk that's just super positive sounding, and I love that. "What I'm Made Of" has a great lyrical premise- it's something we can all connect to. I love the simplicity of the lyrics. The entire album pretty much follows the same great trend- blunt lyrics, cutesy melodies, and AWESOMENESS.
"Sleepy Kisses" is the cutest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. I love this song to death. It's heart-ache cute, not happy cute... But all the same. Probably my favorite track on the entire album.
I just really love the entire mood of Candy Hearts. I fell in love with them when they released Ripped Up Jeans..., but this really set it in stone with me. It's the same thing as the previous, but I feel like it's a lot more put together and a little more focused. 
"Jawbreaker" is another great song. The lyrics are my favorite. It's also the catchiest, and definitely has my favorite riff. Oh, and the bass = <3
"Good Enough" is another great one. I can't get enough of their lyrics and I just want to dance to the music.

Overall, this record gets an A++++ from me. One of my favorite bands from 2011. Someone remind me why I haven't seen these guys live yet?


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Friday, November 11, 2011

Mike Park- Smile

If you've ever read any of our reviews, or have just even heard of our website, there's a good chance that you're familiar with the name Mike Park. Basically anyone familiar with any variety of punk or ska music is very aware of the importance Mike Park has in the scene. He's fronted so many excellent bands (Skankin' Pickle, The Chinkees, Bruce Lee Band) and he runs the best record label ever to be run out of a garage. Wait, scratch that- the best record label in the WORLD:  Asian Man Records. Asian Man Records is the label responsible for your addiction to bands like Alkaline Trio, Big D & the Kids Table, Lemuria, Hard Girls, Kepi Ghoulie, Lawrence arms, The Broadways, Shinobu, Slapstick, and way more. So, by saying that Asian Man Records is responsible for this, we're automatically saying that Mike Park is ultimately held responsible. Mike Park also does solo stuff, which never ceases to amaze me. This record is something truly awesome, though- Smile is a children's music work. And I am still proud to say that I've been listening to it for an hour straight. It's that good.
The record is an amazing combination of pure fun, education, and talented music. I can't stand so much of kids music because of the pure inanity of it all- it's boring, repetitive, and obnoxious. HOWEVER. As to be expected, that's not what Mike Park does with it. The music is great. It's something that could easily be passed off as any other kind of music with different lyrics. The sax solo in "I Love Playing My Saxophone" is so great, it makes me really happy. But above all- the lyrics are perfect for kids. It's a great balance of teaching good habits to kids and just letting them have fun with it. Songs like "I Can See The Ocean" and "We All Live In Animal Park" are prime wiggle-and-giggle opportunities. There's also stuff like "Apples are my Favorite" and "When The Light Turns Red You Stop", that clearly has an agenda. Although all the songs typically mention good habits for kids, there are still songs focused mainly on this. And yet the educational songs are still super fun.
I'm far too old to be enjoying this record so much! It's just Mike Park's magic, I guess. I'm going to be pulling out this record for my nieces and nephews, possible future spawns, and maybe even just for fun sometimes... But don't tell anyone! ;) "Wigily Wigily Worm" is my new jam, you guys. You don't even understand. I want to walk down the aisle to that song. 
"Paint With Me" also pulls a few heartstrings.

Overall, if you ever said to yourself "I bet Mike Park can't make a good album with a target audience of children," you were wrong. So wrong. 

Great record for parents! And well, not-parents too. I can say from personal experience that you don't need to be a little kid to get into this.

-Bear (With a little help from Idle

Gameday Regulars - ...But It's Hell in the Hallway

Immediately upon listening to the instrumentals at the beginning of the song "Pale Reflections", first track on Gameday Regulars' (NY) debut EP '...But It's Hell in the Hallway', you're dragged head first into this amazing world of what punk rock bands should aspire to be. This is then enforced by the bear-like vocals which come bursting into the mix partway into the song. You're in heaven, dude. and it's all uphill from here.

Gameday Regulars are one of the newest bands to become a part of the excellent Mightier Than Sword family. For those of you unfamiliar, MTS is this record label that has a tendency to release rambunctious pop punk bands alongside infectious melodic hardcore acts. And they do this with an uncanny ability to only put out excellent music. Gameday Regulars are no exception to the general order of things. They play an awesome brand of punk music, heavily influenced by groups such as Hot Water Music and Off With Their Heads, and they do it with enough musicality and originality to put their name out there with a vengeance. I'm pretty sure by the end of 2011, everyone I'm in communication with will have some sort of hardon for these guys.

'...But It's Hell in the Hallway' sticks around for six medium length songs with enough energy to power 20 robocops. Maybe even 21 robocops! Hell, I don't know; this kind of thing is rarely tested. The recording and production quality is also worth noting, because this awesome sounds pretty much perfect. I doubt this band is at all just studio magic though, but I would be working against my own belief by trying to suggest that magic was not made in the studio during the recording of this record. Hell, Harry fucking Potter is probably in this band. That'd be an easier way to explain just how awesome the record is from beginning to end.

If you're a fan of either of those two influences I mentioned, or of bands like Signals Midwest, O Pioneers!, or actually just a fan of music in general, you'll probably become an instant fan of Gameday Regulars. The awesomeness and inevitable importance of '...But It's Hell in the Hallway" is impossible for any human to deny. You can just prove this yourself by purchasing the EP from Mightier Than Sword. You'll be doing yourself a favor by doing so. I highly recommend it. You can even select to purchase this deal that comes with a t-shirt! That's just awesome, and you know it. I'm going to personally guarantee your enjoyment of the record, too. If you end up disliking it for any reason whatsoever, just come here and bitch me out about it. But, if you end up liking the album like I do, feel free to also come here and post in our comment section about it. Later, dudes!


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