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. 

Read More “Anti-Flag – For Blood and Empire”

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

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. 

Read More “Brett Detar of The Juliana Theory”

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.

Read More “The Academy Is… – From the Carpet EP”

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.

Read More “The Living End – State of Emergency”

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.

Read More “Hawthorne Heights – If Only You Were Lonely”

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.

Read More “Yellowcard – Lights and Sounds”

Interview: Matt Squire

Matt Squire

This interview was conducted via email on January 14th, 2006 with record producer Matt Squire (Northstar, The Receiving End of Sirens, Panic! At the Disco, The Junior Varsity, Hit the Lights, etc., etc., etc). I don’t know how to thank Matt enough for the work he put into this interview. It was extremely long, he’s a busy man, and yet he still came up with detailed, thorough answers.

Read More “Matt Squire”

Review: Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This to Memory

Motion City Soundtrack - Commit This to Memory

Having garnered much praise and acclaim for their Moog-laced, high-octane, pop-tinged, full length debut I Am the Movie, expectations for Motion City Soundtrack’s follow-up, Commit This to Memory, were astronomically high, especially with Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 fame on board as producer. So, with all the build-up and the big name attached to the project, did Motion City Soundtrack deliver? Absolutely, and then some.

Read More “Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This to Memory”

Review: Finch – Say Hello to Sunshine

Finch - Say Hell to To Sunshine

It’s been three very long years for Finch fans across the world. After the immense success of the band’s debut full-length What it is to Burn, fans grew tired of watching Finch play tour after tour, performing the same songs that had since grown old. Although Finch had played a large part in triggering the so-called “screamo” explosion, their sound had been replicated by hundreds of other bands who tried to cash in on the screamo fad. Of course, Finch was one the first bands to become a commercial success while performing that style of music. That was three long years ago, and the Finch faithful have been anxiously awaiting another album with bated breath. New demos began to surface, and reactions were widely varied. The consensus seemed to be that everybody absolutely hated Finch’s new style, or loved it. One thing was for sure – Finch’s new material was not going to be What it is to Burn part 2. That brings us to today, just days before Finch’s long awaited follow-up album, Say Hello to Sunshine.

Read More “Finch – Say Hello to Sunshine”

Review: All Time Low – The Party Scene

All Time Low - The Party Scene

I remember when I was 17 years old. I did a lot of stupid things, as well as some great things, but I never did what the 4 members of All Time Low did. That would be releasing a debut album under independent label Emerald Moon Records. Hailing from Baltimore, All Time Low (consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Gaskarth, guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick, and drummer Rian Dawson) have released an album, titled “The Party Scene”, filled with great melodies, catchy sing-alongs, and energizing guitar hooks. If you were listening to this album for the first time, not knowing who the band was, you would think that this would be an established pop-punk band’s second or third album. You would think that a band with four 17 year-olds wouldn’t be able to write an album as good as this. But All Time Low has surprised many, showing that they are very talented despite how young they are. Prepare yourself for 40 minutes of some of the best pop-punk you’ll hear all year.

Read More “All Time Low – The Party Scene”

Review: Panic! at the Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

Panic! At the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out

Let’s just get it out of the way: Panic! At the Disco sounds like Fall Out Boy. Extraordinarily so. And it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed: “Is this Patrick Stump’s side project?” and “I honestly thought this was Fall Out Boy playing a joke on people until they started playing shows” are common replies in news posts here regarding the band. You get the idea. Let’s just accept the fact that they’re a bit derivative (hell, they christened themselves after a line in the Name Taken song “Panic”), and go from there.

There has been a shit-load of buzz regarding Panic!: their idea of posting clips of songs from the album on Purevolume on Fridays and full versions on Tuesdays has almost necessitated a good many news posts on AP and on other webzines, which in turn has really put their name out there and gotten people talking about them. Here’s the thing though—people wouldn’t care talk about them unless they were really good, or really bad. And they’re not really bad.

Read More “Panic! at the Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”

Interview: Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake

Hey, Vinnie. It’s nice to have you here again for round two of the “Brandon vs. Vinnie Interview Series”. What’s been happening since the last time we sat down?

Well, we are in the studio recording our new record in North Hollywood. It’s been 18 days so far. Howard Benson is producing it. He did our Hello Rockview record, but also POD, My Chemical Romance, Motorhead, Papa Roach, Rooney, and The All-American Rejects. It’s going fast. We are almost done.

Read More “Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake”

Review: Plain White T’s – All That We Needed

Plain White T’s – All That We Needed

Within the first few seconds, the impression is given that this is going to be a fun album. However, a crucial question lingers – will the fun last? The answer is an emphatic NO. The opening track, “All That We Needed”, is a really basic pop-rock song. Clean, simplistic rhythms work the song forward with high, jumpy bass lines. The snare jumps out of your speakers with a pop and my head was nodding without giving it any thought. It’s nothing new – but it’s done really well, as the repetitive chorus will remain in your mind for hours. This is a good thing – for one song. Not 13 songs. The album progresses into a darker song, “Revenge”. This is when the lyrics started to annoy me – “I’ve got the microphone so don’t go too far, I’m gonna tell the whole world how you really are”. The bubbly undertone provided by the album opener has managed to disappear in this song, as the verse is overly basic, the same pulsing beat pops in after each vocal line is spoken throughout the song. No variation means the song isn’t interesting.

Read More “Plain White T’s – All That We Needed”

Review: Acceptance – Phantoms

Acceptance - Phantoms

It’s ironic that such a great summer album leaked online a month after the summer of 2004 was over. Now, in April 2005, Acceptance’s debut full-length Phantoms is about to become the mainstream summer hit of 2005. There’s a lot of pressure on this album to sell. A major label debut for a band with no proven mainstream success? A ballad (“Different”) being marketed as the first single? An album leak 6 months before the street release? A lot of questions have been raised regarding this band, but Acceptance has created an album to silence the doubters. Acceptance’s brand of catchy, emotional pop-rock stands out from the pack with killer hooks and stunning vocals. This band is about to take over the airwaves.

Read More “Acceptance – Phantoms”