Monday, March 31, 2008

The Tossers

Gloatin' and Showboatin'
Victory Records

The Tossers are a seven piece Irish folk/punk outfit hailing from the southside of the windy city (that’s Chicago folks). Merging traditional Irish folk melodies combined with the energy and speed of punk music, the Tossers are a wonderful unique blend. There's lots of songs about drinking and well…. More drinking! Seriously, these guys truly raise the roof on this live disc and it sounds like one hellacious party. You can hear the crowd sing a long to these classic Irish melodies (and trust me, you will as well)! The band utilizes mostly acoustic instruments but the fans scream and yell with drunken glee as they pound each number out, electric guitars be damned. My favorite songs were "Buckets Of Beer" and "Seven Drunkend Nights" (although the song only goes to Friday?) Gloatin' and Showboatin' was recorded on St. Patrick's Day in their hometown and there's no more fitting a day for this band to record a live album than this wonderful Irish holiday. There is also a DVD of the same show which I have got to have as well! With an extensive back catalogue, I encourage you to check these guys out if you love music that's fun and full of energetic upbeat melodies.

- Craig Harvey

Friday, March 28, 2008

Star Of Ash

The Thread
Candlelight Records

Being on the Candlelight label, many might think that Star Of Ash would be a metal release. Quite the opposite. "The Thread" is a foray into dark electronics and ambient/down-tempo soundscapes, with guitar, bass, and piano providing extra sonic and melodic textures. There are bursts of static beats and noisy experimental sounds that blend in seamlessly along side the other instruments, conjuring up images of futuristic realms unknown. The entire album has a wonderful soundtrack quality that let's your imagination run wild with possibilities. The musical atmosphere that is envoked is multi-layered requring many listens just to absorb it. So who, you might ask, is behind this incredible release? Heidi Solberg Tveitan. Not familar? You may know her by her other name, Ihriel from the metal band Peccatum. Wife of Ishan (of Peccatum and Emperor). I bet many of you are going "Ohhhh... ok! Well I need to check this out then." Yes you do. It's that good. She also worked with German composer Marcus Reuter and the Japanese cyber-punk author Kenji Siratori on this release as well. Being a fan of metal and electronic music, I was instantly hooked from the very first track. "The Thread" comes recommeded for anyone who likes great music with depth and imagination.

- Craig Harvey

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sigur Ros - Heima dvd

"Heima" is a film by Icelandic pioneers Sigur Ros. I personally was extremely excited for it's release and was not at all let down by it's undeniable beauty. The film is a journey with the band as they play a variety of unannounced shows throughout their homeland of Iceland. They filmed the tour immediately following what seems to be ages of non-stop World tours. The performances vary from very small, acoustic renditions of their songs in locations like gyms, local clubhouses, and fields to full-blown out door amphitheater experiences. "Heima" translates to "at home" and in this visually stimulating piece the band (accompanied by Amiina) takes the viewer through the country and educates them on some parts of Iceland and touches base on the humanities of the area along with some brief history. The films visual quality is remarkable; Super high-definition and vibrant colors capture you as the music moves you. "Heima" has absolutely changed what a music dvd really is and has moved audiences worldwide. The dvd is now available online as well as in many music/book stores.

- Brandon Highfill

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Wagon

Match Made In Hell
Las Conchas Records

This California trio cut's loose on their latest powerhouse album "Match Made In Hell." Track one "The Rocker" has a vibe that reminds me of early Smashing Pumkins, while the title track, "Match Made In Hell" opens with vocal harmonies that would make a barbershop quartet proud, before slamming into a Ramones inspired riff that makes you want to pump your fist in the air. The guys slow down a bit on the next few tracks with some cleaner reggae grooves on "Too Long", and the balladesque' "See You Again" which moves back into the crunchy guitar in places. There's even a bit of country on the somber "Blueberry Sue" with it's beautiful steel guitar lines. "Chopped And Screwed" is a filler piece of noise and distorted vocals that shows this band is never predictable. "82' is another slamming number that has a thrashy punk sound, talking about what else? 1982 of course! This is a great rock & roll album that is blazing with fun and energy. These guys must be fantastic live as great as this disc is.

- Craig Harvey


The Acrobats
TSC Records

Anytime I hear a band described as "lo-fi" I tend to cringe a little. My first impression is a bunch of guys who aren't very good musicians and record using crap gear because it's "hip and sounds cool". Well Helve'tia certainly doesn't sound like that. "The Acrobats" has a dreamy, mellow feel throughout with jazzy progressions, cool effects and solid bass lines that really drive the songs. It takes me back to the late eighties, early nineties when alternative rock was just that; an alternative to what was mainstream. The guitars run through a variety of tones and textures along side some pedal steel and organ thrown in for good measure. The vocals have a laid back feel to them, never getting loud or over the top. This is definitely for those looking for the true "indie" bands still out there. Good stuff.

- Craig Harvey

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stuck Mojo

Southern Born Killers
Napalm Records

Rap metal is usually a genre I tend to avoid, mainly because of my dislike of most rap music. However, Stuck Mojo managed to change my mind after to listening to their latest effort "Southern Born Killers". Their frontman can rap and sing (quite well actually) proving he has some actual talent. His rap style sounded very similar to Chuck D of Public Enemy and I have to give him credit, it really has a commanding presence. The guitars are thick, powerful and simply slay the groove! There is some great lead work as well, which I always approve of on my metal menu. Lyrically, it's very pro American with an anti-Islam slant (no problem there). However, I think anti-terrorist is more accurate, but those two go hand in hand. Anyway, I gotta recommend this to all who (like me) usually bypass this type of metal without giving it a second thought. If your already a fan then you won't be disappointed.

- Craig Harvey


Turning Season Within
Napalm Records

The latest opus from gothic/doom masters Draconian, is a tour de-force that is sure to please fans of this genre of metal. The production is fantastic (due to the fact that it was recorded at Fascination Street Studios who did the last two Opeth albums) the musicianship is flawless as always and Lisa Johannson's voice is simply beautiful. Combined with Anders Jacobsson's growling and spoken word passages, it produces a chilling emotional interplay of love, tragedy and pain. The downtuned guitars produce massive riffs that draw you down into the churning abyss that only intensifies the lyrical content. Only a handful of bands come close to perfecting this style of music and Draconian definitely qualify as one of those few. A must have for doom metal lovers.

- Craig Harvey


Werk 80 II
Napalm Records

A few years back, Atrocity released an album entitled "Werk 80" that was a merging of metal and classic 80's new wave hits. I really enjoyed the mix of the two styles and after hearing it straight from singer Alexander Krull (who by the way is one of the coolest people you will ever meet) that a sequel was in the works, I have been highly anticipating this album ever since. So, you ask, was it worth the wait? Of course. I mean, who doesn't love the 80's? Especially when they have been given a metal infusion! This is a really cool album with a lot of great 80's classics and some not so familiar ones as well lurking on this disc. Some of the highlights were "Relax, Don't You Forget About Me, Here Comes The Rain Again and Forever Young". Frontman Alexander Krull's vocal's have a mid to low range that comes across perfect for these tunes and he occasionally lets out a growl or two here and there to add some edge to things. His wife Liv (of Leave's Eyes) does some backing vocals with her beautiful siren voice as well. For those who are not in the know, Atrocity (and Leave's Eyes) are the same band with Alex fronting Atrocity and Liv fronting Leave's Eye's. This is a wonderful trip down memory lane of some great songs, given a new twist. You should definitely get this album if your a fan of the 80's and metal.

- Craig Harvey