The Narrows – Benjamin

The Narrows – Benjamin / 2007 Wantage / 4 Tracks / http://www.wantageusa.com /

The Narrows start off their “Benjamin” with a heavy bit of drudge and sludge, in “The Sasquatch”. “The Sasquatch” has much more of a pop style to it than would be present on a The End Records or Hydra Head Records band, and at points, I can hear a little bit of Audioslave present in the band’s style. This does not mean that the average chach / fratty will be able to get into the music. What may just be the strongest point of The Narrows during the early part of this CD would have to be their ability to construct a narrative for a full two minutes before the tortured, intense vocals take their place at the front of the track. When the vocals are fully integrated into “The Sasquatch”, something is constructed that feels very organic and very much a part of the early nineties. Continue reading “The Narrows – Benjamin”

Landon – Defying The Stereotype

Landon – Defying The Stereotype / 2006 Self / 8 Tracks / http://www.landonband.com /

“Only 20” is a track that is interesting to me. The Spartan, heavily electronic style of the instrumental segment of the track is good enough, but the vocals only reach their stride when Landon moves from the spoken style of vocals to something much more singing-heavy. “Only 20” has catchy bits, but is not solid enough to mark Landon’s first entry into the rock radio charts. “Hush” is the next track, and is a much stronger effort by Landon. This track could make it even onto the pop charts, as the vocals link together Avril Lavigne with Kelly Clarkson and Pink to make a harder-edged pop princess. The guitars follow from the grunge tradition, but add a little bit of the Santana style to playing guitar to make something qualitatively different to anything else on the market. Continue reading “Landon – Defying The Stereotype”

Girl In A Coma – Both Before I’m Gone

Girl In A Coma – Both Before I’m Gone / 2007 Blackheart / 13 Tracks / http://www.girlinacoma.com / http://www.blackinacoma.com /

I’m not sure if Girl in a Coma has changed the title of the Smiths classic for their own profit, but “Both Before I’m Gone” shows a band that is trying their hardest to create their own sound. Obviously, they have some pretty powerful supporters – no less than Joan Jett (owner of Blackheart Records) is a supporter. The disc starts out with “Clumsy Sky”, and this sedate sound finally gives way to something louder and noisier at about the minute mark. What results is a punk like tempo but a set of vocals that could still conceivably work in the pop scene. “Clumsy Sky” has hints of The Breeders and Me First present in its sound, and the high energy present during the track brings individuals in for later tracks. Continue reading “Girl In A Coma – Both Before I’m Gone”

Blake Lewis – Break Anotha

Blake Lewis – Break Anotha / 2007 Sony / 1 Track / http://www.myspace.com/blakelewis /

Anyone that knows me knows that I pretty much loathe American Idol. Sure, there have been one or two idol stars I could stand after the show (Clarkson and Aiken, primarily), but the vast majority of post-Idol albums have been drek. Blake Lewis, with eir single “Break Anotha”, is trying to change that. What Lewis trying to do with “Break Anotha” is to position eirself as the next Justin Timberlake. Throw in a chorus that will remind individuals of Nelly, and it seems that on paper that Lewis will be able to be the next thing. However, what holds Lewis back during this track is the fact that there is too much in the way of eir influences and not enough in the way of eirself present. I have no clue what Lewis honestly sounds like if one would take the whole Timberlake/Nelly mystique away from eir. I am sure that this track (as well as the rest of “Audio Day Dream”) will go rocketing up the chart but that Lewis will have serious problems with subsequent singles and albums. The only way out is to differentiate eir sound from the rest of the songs on the radio and video stations; can ey do it?

Rating: 5.0/10

Athlete – Beyond The Neighbourhood

Athlete – Beyond The Neighbourhood / 2007 Astralwerks / 11 Tracks / http://www.athlete.mu /

Athlete is perhaps the biggest band that no one has heard of in the United States. Their last album, “Tourist”, went double platinum, and “Beyond The Neighbourhood” is poised to do the same thing. From the opening strains of “In Between 2 State”, Athlete shows that they understand how to get individuals involved with their music. Continue reading “Athlete – Beyond The Neighbourhood”

Countime – Broken Blinded Betrayed

Countime – Broken Blinded Betrayed / 2006 No Joke / 7 Tracks / http://www.nojokereordsla /

“From The Heavens Above” is the first track on “Broken Blinded Betrayed” and it shows Countime as an act that loves their classic, “tough guy” hardcore. The band produces fast, heavy, and intense hardcore music that has more than its fair share of metal influence. Note that during “From the Heavens Above” that Countime do not move into a nu-metal style, which many bands in the genre tend to do. After two and a half minutes, Countime move into “City of Fallen Angels”. “City of Fallen Angels” is a track that throws in much more in the way of thrash punk while keeping the overall sound of Countime the same. Even though the band is only putting in a few minutes to each track on “Broken Blinded Betrayed”, they are able to go forth and really make a cohesive sound by the time that a track like “Lies Within” ends. Continue reading “Countime – Broken Blinded Betrayed”

The Good Night Fight – Serpentine

The Good Night Fight – Serpentine / 2007 Brave New Records / 5 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/thegoodnightfight / http://www.bravenewworldrecords.com /

The Good Night Fight start off their “Serpentine” EPO with a track in “Conqueror Worm” that is nothing out of the ordinary. What the band does during this track is throw in screaming, metal-like vocals with a set of instruments that would work well in a Fu Manchu or a CKY disc. The resulting sound is not very impressive, coming forth like a second rate Pantera. Couple the weak effort taken during this track with the fact that the song is almost a minute longer than any of the other tracks on the disc, and what individuals have is little reason to continue with this disc. The guitar work during “The Kid Is Back” is decent, but the band slides back into the same style that was all too common during “Conqueror Worm”. “The Kid Is Back” shows a passable side of The Good Night Fight during the chorus. Continue reading “The Good Night Fight – Serpentine”

First To Leave – Forging A Future

First To Leave – Forging A Future / 2007 Wednesday Records / 12 Tracks / http://www.firsttoleave.org / http://www.wednesdayrecords.com /

Man, I had no idea that First To Leave was going to sound like how they end up sounding at the beginning of “Forging A Future”. The cover of this album is very nondescript when it comes to giving clues about the band, so needless I was shocked when I heard an energetic, punk-heavy sound during “The Saving Cycle”. “Forging A Future” was produced by J. Robbins, who individuals may remember as a member of Jawbox, Government Issue, and Burning Airlines. “Keep Moving” brings the style of The Red Hot Valentines back into prominence, although it is true that First To Leave does not have a synthesizer in their music. What the band does during the entirety of “Forging A Future” is create a pop-punk style that few individuals remember. This pop-punk style is not the style of a Green Day, nor is it the style of a Blink or a Green Day, but rather of (very) early Unwritten Law and Face to Face. Continue reading “First To Leave – Forging A Future”

Silence Is Safety – S/T

Silence Is Safety – S/T / 2007 Teeno / 7 Tracks / http://www.teenorecords.com /

Silence Is Safety plays a style of rock that has not been heard on the radio for about ten years. There are hints of the Goo Goo Dolls as well as with the Spin Doctors, but the energy present during this track is high enough that individuals can get behind this female-lead band. “He Doesn’t Know” shows the vocalist for Silence Is Safety as someone that has heard more than eir fair share of Switchblade Kittens. The band’s instrumental arrangements could use a little bit of variation and tweaking, but what the band does during this track is give individuals some sense of what the band is trying to do with their music. “I Can’t Tell You Why” is the follow up to “He Doesn’t Know”. Continue reading “Silence Is Safety – S/T”

Middle Distance Runner – S/T

Middle Distance Runner – S/T / 2007 Self / 6 Tracks / http://www.middledistancerunner.com/

“The Sun and Earth” is the first track on this EP, and it starts out in a sedate way. However, the tempo is something that slowly builds up to give individuals something to get amped up with. The neat composition allow the vocals to take a focal part of the band’s sound, and while the act is influenced by bands like Interpol and The Editors, Middle Distance Runner has a sound that is all their own. “The Sun and Earth” is the track that will get individuals talking about the band, and it will be on the success of this track that Middle Distance Runner makes a name for themselves. The clapping, shuffling sound of “Monochrome Boys” links up with a vocal style that unites Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5, and while the band again plays on a few common musical styles, the beauty of Middle Distance Runner is that they soon make their own style prominent. Continue reading “Middle Distance Runner – S/T”