Review: Rock Kills Kid – Are You Nervous?

Rock Kills Kid - Are You Nervous

Hey, did you hear? 80’s revival! Electronic dance music is in! Seriously guys, it’s the new wave. All the cool bands are doing it.

That has to be the rallying call going on at major labels these days. They’ve seen the trend and they’ve pounced. We’ve seen it in The Faint, Panic! at the Disco, Head Automatica, Men, Women & Children, etc., and the list goes on and on. I now welcome Rock Kills Kid to the family.

There’s one minor difference. Regardless of the amount of crap I’m going to get for the following statement – I’d take the new Rock Kills Kid over just about all of them.

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Review: Thursday – A City By The Light Divided

Thursday - A City By The Light Divided

In 1992, the defending AFC Champion Buffalo Bills faced the Houston Oilers in the AFC Wild Card round. The first half of this game was a disaster for the Bills. Jim Kelly out with an injury and the Oilers dominated going into halftime with a 28-3 lead. Dejected, the Bills didn’t have a lot of time to make changes, but they realized they were the defending champs and needed to live up to that. The second half featured a completely different team, as backup quarterback Frank Reich threw 4 touchdowns to bring the game into overtime, which the Bills eventually won 41-38, making it one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. I’m sure by now all of you are confused as to why I began the review with such a story, but it is a great way to describe Thursday’s second major label album (and fourth overall), A City By The Light Divided

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Review: Moneen – The Red Tree

Moneen - The Red Tree

Thus far in 2006, there have been a few really good records, some solid ones, and more mediocre albums than I can count. No album has hit me in a way where I have to take a step back and just mutter “whoa.” Enter The Red Tree, the new album from Canadian rockers Moneen and the first great album of 2006. I enjoyed their previous efforts, but I was not expecting this album to hit me like it did. This 11-track masterpiece incorporates beautifully crafted lyrics with music that is just as delicate as it is hard-hitting, making this album full of intensity, passion, and raw emotion. 

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Review: Hit the Lights – This Is A Stick Up… Don’t Make It A Murder

Hit the Lights - This Is a Stick Up...Don't Make It a Murder
Tell me again how we're easily forgettable
So formulaic and way too simple to be at all original, yea so we've heard
It's time to keep your mouth shut while we show you how to rock-n-roll

This is how Hit The Lights begin their debut full-length album, This Is A Stick Up….Don’t Make It A Murder, by responding to a certain AbsolutePunk.net reviewer’s opinion on their EP Until We Get Caught. The Lima, Ohio, five-piece not only deliver on their promise to “show us how to rock-n-roll,” but this album is also one of the first feel-good albums of 2006. Produced by Matt Squire (The Receiving End Of Sirens, Panic! At The Disco, many others), HTL offers us 12 tracks of pop-punk goodness that’ll have you wishing that summer were already here.

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Review: From First to Last – Heroine

From First to Last - Heroine

Let’s start this with a disclaimer. The readers at AP.net have known that I haven’t been one to shy away from my opinion in the past. In fact, I’ve taken a fair amount of criticism for being too harsh on bands in the past (and too nice, it’ll never end). Those of you who are looking for me to rip FFTL to shreds can stop reading at this point, because it’s not going to happen. I don’t care what you think of this review and I don’t care what you think of me. All I know is that From First to Last has shocked me by creating a solid album that I expected to be awful. From the band’s previous work full of oversaturated clichés and ear-splitting vocals, one would never think the band could progress to this sort of level. If you haven’t given Heroine a fair listen, then you can’t judge this band. Yes, their image is absurd. Yes, many of their fans are ridiculous teenage girls with eyeliner and glam/goth outfits. But putting aside all of these factors, one must strip down FFTL and critique the actual music – and it’s good. This is a group of talented musicians who seem to have truly found their sound, with the help of acclaimed producer Ross Robinson, well known for his work with late 90’s nu-metal acts such as Korn and Slipknot. Robinson’s touch gleams off of Heroine from start to finish. Gritty as hell, full of obscenities and soaring sing-along choruses, FFTL has successfully transformed their sound.

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Review: No Trigger – Canyoneer

No Trigger - Canyoneer

When I sat down to review this record, I thought I’d browse the web to see what other people have said about Canyoneer. It only took a few minutes for me to realize that people know absolutely nothing about this band, and some of the reviews I read were so under-researched and inadequate that it actually made me upset. One website even went so far as to call No Trigger a “more scene Rise Against.” It is with these reviews in mind that I felt justice must be done to such an incredible band and release. And trust me, there’s nothing overtly “scene” about No Trigger – they’re more like a balls to the wall fusion of punk, melody, and hardcore. No Trigger shouldn’t be viewed as an aspiring band in comparison to Rise Against when they’ve already created a record that rivals anything Rise Against has ever created.

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Interview: Matt Watts of The Starting Line

The Starting Line

I’d have to say the “Screaming Is For Babies” tour is one of my favorite tours in a long time; how’d it get put together and how’s it been so far?

Well this is kind of like our first real headlining tour—we headlined the Drive Thru tour before, but this was like the first chance for us to go out and headline and pick the bands that we wanted to pick. We got a list of who we could take on the tour, and we wanted to make it sort of a diverse bill of bands that we’re all fans of, and we knew the Cartel guys a little bit before going into it, but not really all that well, and we met the Gatsbys guys on Warped Tour, and we’re just fans of all the bands on it. It’s a lineup that I’d love to see if I was going to a show because there aren’t really two bands that sound alike, and I love going to shows like that. Kids that come for us or Cartel may have not heard Copeland or Gatsbys, and to introduce them to a new band is awesome, especially bands like that.

How does it feel to have your most successful tour in quite some time when some people had maybe written you off?

It’s cool man. The fans are there and it’s proof that good work ethic and grassroots touring makes real fans. Kids support the record, although our record label hadn’t and didn’t really get it out there in full force, but our core audience seems to really like the record or people who didn’t like the last record might like Based On a True Story. It all comes down to the songs, and if people connect with the songs, they’ll support your band.

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Review: Anti-Flag – For Blood and Empire

Anti-Flag - For Blood and Empire

Surprising everyone by signing to major label RCA, Anti-Flag, one of the ultimate anti-establishment proponents, was doing one of two things – committing career suicide and losing all their hardcore DIY fans, or getting a chance to create one of the best albums of their career and send their message to the entire world. It certainly appears the latter is about to happen. Anti-Flag created a great record with top-notch production, intelligent songs, and an unabashed political message. Full of gang vocals, simplistic and memorable choruses, For Blood and Empire is an impressive major-label debut which will expose the band and their message to more than ever before. As always, the band’s intention seems to be raising awareness about the political environment while calling out our nation’s wrong doings and ignorance. 

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Interview: Brett Detar of The Juliana Theory

The Juliana Theory

Brett, first off, I want to say thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You’re music has been a huge inspiration to me, as well as many of the readers on absolutepunk.net.

Thank you! It’s no problem at all. 

I think the first question on everyone’s mind, is will ever see a farewell tour, or maybe a farewell show? 

Well Caleb, unfortunately for the kids who wanted to see us one last time in the States, our final show was in Cologne, Germany. We did not want to do a farewell tour because the last thing we wanted to do was to prolong our breakup. It’s been rough enough just breaking up, let alone 6 weeks of shows under that knowledge. Also, there were a lot of logistical things that got in the way of doing one final show Stateside. 

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Review: The Academy Is… – From the Carpet EP

The Academy Is - From the Carpet EP

Over the past year, The Academy Is… has sold over 100k of their Fueled By Ramen debut, Almost Here, have toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy and Midtown, have headlined their own nationwide tour, and have been embraced by TRL and 15 year old girls everywhere. They have boarded the “buzz” train and are on their way to a major label deal, so to keep the buzz pulsating and to satisfy fans (old and new alike), they have released a 6 track EP titled From The Carpet, exclusive only to iTunes. Now while I strongly disagree with this “digital only” crap, The Academy Is… (vocalist Will Beckett, guitarists Mike Carden and Tom Conrad, bassist Adam Siska, and drummer Andy Mrotek) do not disappoint with this EP. With 2 new acoustic songs, one John Lennon cover, and 3 new versions of favorites from the debut, this EP is definitely a must-have for all TAI fans.

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Review: The Living End – State of Emergency

The Living End - State of Emergency

Produced by the masterful Nick Launay (Silverchair, INXS, Gang of Four), State of Emergency is quite the fourth album from The Living End. After the success of their Mark Trombino-produced third album, Modern Artillery (2003), the band took the overwhelming sheen from that CD, pared it down to simply a dull roar, and unleashed the aggression that seemed to be missing on their last album on State of Emergency. As a finished product, we the listeners get a CD packed with gritty post-punk and no bullshit to be found.

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Review: Hawthorne Heights – If Only You Were Lonely

Hawthorne Heights - If Only You Were Lonely

There are two overly weak aspects of Hawthorne Heights’ If Only You Were Lonely, and they are the same two elements that plagued their high selling The Silence in Black and White. Lyrically, Hawthorne Heights needs a lot of work to pass up the post-hardcore clichés of their predecessors in their own songwriting, and they need to do something more profound with their triad of guitars. When you have three people playing the same instrument and a bassist to add to the mix, we need something more complex than a flourish or a little reverb here and there to accent the lead guitar. Any metal or hardcore band worth their salt can play something similar with one guitarist and a bassist; the band has a huge opportunity to make grippingly corrosive music to curl your toes, the likes of which modern music has not seen. Instead, The Fully Down (who also have three guitarists) put Hawthorne Heights to shame in that department.

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Review: Yellowcard – Lights and Sounds

Yellowcard - Lights and Sounds

This is an open letter to Yellowcard, a band whose album Ocean Avenue I consider one of my favorite “summer albums,” and who hail from Jacksonville, in my adopted home state of Florida. I will welcome any attempt by the band to contact me regarding this review/open letter, and I am looking forward to reading fans’ thoughts.

Dear Yellowcard,

So you’ve finally gotten over the MTV-spurred major-label buzz from Ocean Avenue and the unceremonious banishment of guitarist and founding member Ben Harper (who you have replaced by former Staring Back guitarist Ryan Mendez) in time to build on that promising hype you generated back in 2003. The hype is there, with your lead single hitting the airwaves only about half a million times a day. With electrically charged guitar riffs, the title track is fun to listen to the first few times. But Ryan, your voice needs a little bit more “oomph.” I believe that as a band, you have managed to earn early “worst of ’06” honors for your abysmally awful “Down On My Head,” which stinks up the third spot on the CD. Did you just take cheesy emo lyrics, put them on repeat, and toss in a little bit of one-dimensional harmonizing for good measure to make sure the song is dead as a doornail? I’m of course going to say this and you’ll pick it as the next single, catapulting this steaming pile of dung into trendy oblivion. After your listeners work their way through that drag of a song (or just press “skip forward”), I have to give you props for the first solid track on Lights and Sounds. “Sure Thing Falling” is hard charging and overwhelmingly hooky, which plays to its advantage. I enjoy the brief interlude from violinist extraordinaire Sean Mackin late in the song as well, which adds some depth to this catchy piece of music. Characterized by a throaty bass line and simple yet well-written guitar riffs, “Sure Thing Falling” will hits your listeners hardest with the infectious lyrics, which are probably the best on the album. One for two isn’t bad.

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