Album Reviews

Review: Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True

Matt Skiba has confessed that the songs he wrote for My Shame Is True are very much catharsis for a romantic relationship gone sour. Yet as one wanders through the Alkaline Trio back catalogue, it is not a stretch to say that much of the agony, anger and melancholy heard seems to come from this very source; that a complicated connection between two people is as friction fueled as a power chord. One listen to classic tracks like “Radio” and “Stupid Kid” and one can see a bright bitterness resonate through both the words and the music. So perhaps this, their ninth studio album, as Skiba notes, wasn’t meant to be a “personal record”, it just turned in to one. The results are the most profound they’ve been in almost a decade.

Gone are the more punk rock oriented numbers like “Private Eye” and “Goodbye Forever”, their ethos replaced by the more languid, fluid sounding song writing they began to explore in Crimson. Much of My Shame Is True takes its cues from what they laid down in 2010’s This Addiction; mid-tempos, extended bridges, more succinct melodies that while tone down their angst, are no less urgent. This includes some of the album’s best tracks, “Kiss You To Death” and “Midnight Blue”- all while keeping Skiba’s lyrical ability for being emotional without sounding over dramatic; “I don’t care if we fuck / or we if talk / or we cry / I just miss you / I want to kiss you to death tonight”.

Pleasantly surprising, is the quality of the Dan Andriano-sung work this time around. He’s sung on one of the best Alkaline Trio songs to date (“I’m Dying Tomorrow”), but perhaps down to personal tastes, there’s always been a preference to Skiba-sung tracks. On My Shame Is True however, the Andriano numbers are brilliant. “Only Love”, with its piano-laced contemplations, and the live-for-today ode of “Young Lovers”, come across as some of the best post-Crimson tracks the band have written.

It is foolish to think the band will ever write another Maybe I’ll Catch Fire or From Here To Infirmary. But with My Shame is True, Alkaline Trio, along with the Blasting Room crew (who seem to be busier than ever), have produced their most assured record to date. They are sounding as comfortable with their sound as t they’ve ever been, and with it comes the creative freedom to write songs that resonate on both a personal and aesthetic level. This is the record that Agony & Irony and This Addiction wanted to be. (Heart & Skull / Epitaph)

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

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Epitaph are streaming the new Alkaline Trio record via YouTube. The new album, My Shame Is True, is set for release April 2nd and is the follow-up to their 2010 album My Addiction.

This clunky stream is cut into separate YouTube videos so it’s not the easiest of streams to get through, but we’re getting a good feeling about the new album. Sounds like a positive follow-up that features the best of old and new Alk3.


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Video: Pulley – “Mandarin”

Pulley’s Time-Insensitive Material was one of my favorite EPs of last year; short, melodic, and every bit as urgent as SoCal punk gets. The release was, as expected, aptly titled as Pulley’s release schedule has been erratic of the course of their career. Most probably because front man Scott Radinsky spent a great deal of his professional working career as a major league pitcher.  He most recently split singing duties in Pulley with being the bullpen coach for the Cleveland Indians, so I think we can all forgive him if he doesn’t have time to keep slugging it out in a touring van 10 months a year.

So perhaps it’s fitting that the video for one of the EP’s best tracks come more than a year after its release. Nonetheless, fans of SoCal melodicore will love it. Here’s to hoping a new full length is on the horizon.

You can check out the video above.

Featured Video, Videos

Video: Social Distortion performs “Machine Gun Blues” on Jimmy Kimmel

It is mystery as to how one of the great rock n’ roll bands of our time had, in 30 years, never once appeared on a live television event performing one of their songs. Social Distortion’s inexplicable run finally came to an end recently as they graced the small screen for their first ever television performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Performing “Machine Gun Blues” from their upcoming new album Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes along with favorite “Story of My Life“,  Social Distortion proved that aging well isn’t exclusive to fine wines.

Check out their take on the new track above. The band’s new album is due January 18, 2011 via Epitaph.


Converge start writing new album

Massachusetts metal/punk act Converge have begun work on the follow-up to 2009’s acclaimed Axe to Fall. The band have entered Kurt Ballou’s studios in Salem and tweeted the following update;

This week we commence writing a new album together at God City, get ready world…

Get ready world indeed. The band’s blistering style has put them on the forefront of metal-infused hardcore punk, laying waste to timid ears since 1994. The band’s magnum opus, 2001’s Jane Doe, is considered among the genre’s best.

You can check out the video for title track from Axe to Fall right here.


Social Distortion’s ‘Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes’ gets official release date

After much delay and uncertainty on an actual date, official word from the Social Distortion/Epitaph camp has revealed that the new album, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes, will in fact see release January 18th, 2011. The album’s cover art along with the track listing have been unveiled while the first single, “Machine Gun Blues”, is due out on iTunes November 16th.

Produced by the band themselves, the album features Social Distortion threading the line between hard hitting rock n’ roll and Americana- dabbing the downtrodden riffs with blues, country and punk.

Mike Ness spoke about the track “Diamond in the Rough” and had this to say about it’s content, echoing the Social Distortion manifesto;

That one is pretty autobiographical….so many faults, yet so little time. What are you gonna do?… Better write a song.”

January 18th can’t come soon enough. The band will head down to Australia for the first time next February/March to tour with the Soundwave Festival and will play a special Melbourne-only sideshow with the Gaslight Anthem March 2nd (please don’t cancel!)

Track listing:
01. Road Zombie
02. California (Hustle and Flow)
03. Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown
04. Diamond In The Rough
05. Machine Gun Blues
06. Bakersfield
07. Far Side Of Nowhere
08. Alone And Forsaken
09. Writing On The Wall
10. Can’t Take It With You
11. Still Alive


Bad Religion announces 30th anniversary vinyl box set!

It’s been a banner year for the good ship Bad Religion this year. With their 30th anniversary celebrations nearing an end, the long serving punk band have announced the collectors dream- a vinyl boxset containing wax versions of 15 Bad Religion albums! If there was but one way to crown a collection, this would be it.

The box set features the very first Epitaph pressing of the long gone album Into the Unknown (the first in 27 years!) and the first pressing in more than a decade of their album Generator. This limited pressing will be kept at 3000 while the first 500 to place an order will get their hands on a free Bad Religion flag.

The group’s most recent release, The Dissent of Man, was released last month. You can order your vinyl box set, retailing at $199.99, from Epitaph.


Micheal Larsen (Eyedea): 1981-2010

Micheal Larsen, one half of hip hop group Eyedea & Abilities, has passed away at the age of 28.

A statement from his mother was posted on Facebook;

It is with great pain and sadness that I tell you my son Mikey (Eyedea) has passed away. At this time we kindly request your respect and our privacy as we process this devastating loss. On behalf of Mikey’s family, close friends and fans, thank you.”

The Minnesota native made a name for himself as an underground battle rapper and forged a partnership with DJ Abilities (Gregory Keltgen) to form one of indie hip hop’s finest duos. The pair went on to release music under the name for established labels Rhymesayers and Epitaph Records.

The group’s last album was 2009’s By the Throat.

An official statement from Rhymesayers is forthcoming.


Social Distortion album delayed until January 2011

In unfortunate news, Mike Ness has stated that the much anticipated Social Distortion album, Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, has indeed been delayed until January 2011; two months after the original November 2010 date.

Speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune, Ness had this to say about the new album’s content and the meaning behind the title;

Music does the same thing for adults that nursery rhymes do for kids: It gives them an escape, and [it’s about] not growing up.”

Ness also said that he is, “not afraid of taking risks” on the new album.

Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes is the first Social Distortion album since 2004’s Sex, Love and Rock ‘N’ Roll and is now expected January 2011 via Epitaph Records. The band will make their way down to Australia for the very first time next March as part of the Soundwave Festival and will play an exclusive Melbourne-only sideshow March 2nd with the Gaslight Anthem.

We have tickets. It’s going to be awesome.

Album Reviews, Highlights, Music

Review: Bad Religion – The Dissent Of Man

In an interview prior to the release of The Dissent of Man, Brett Gurewitz had referenced Tom Petty and The Kinks as influential outlets for the album’s songwriting. It was a disarming statement at first, but why can’t a Bad Religion album sound a little like something Ray Davies would have written? Yet as The Dissent of Man unfolds, it is clear that it is still a distinctively Bad Religion album- compact melodies, sharp guitars and Brooks Wackerman’s great percussion work- but there are many instances where they venture out into the kind of ambition unseen since Into the Unknown.

It isn’t a grating, blatantly abstract form of musical diversity- they’ve exercised these textures with certain restraint. Most evident perhaps, in the closing “I Won’t Say Anything”, an acoustic driven, soft rock-tinged tune that will play closer to Tom Petty and Ray Davies than Greg Ginn and Steve Soto. But the song’s diversion from the regular Bad Religion sound is still in line with the album’s bigger thematic nuances- so it doesn’t feel out of place. Mid tempo tracks “Won’t Somebody” and “The Devil in Stitches” are from the same book as “The Answer” and “Honest Goodbye” while “The Pride And the Pallor” is a great example of forward thinking songwriting blended perfectly with accessible rock aesthetics and their trademark lyrical attack.

Where The Dissent of Man really tests the waters are with its two (yes, two) love-themed tracks, and as alarming as it is to know that Bad Religion have written a love song, it is less so once you hear it. Lyrically, it’s a mix of cheese and embittered lovelorn couplets in “Cyanide”; “Let me say / (Oh oh) well there’s no place left to hide / (Oh oh) from the loneliness inside”, complemented well by the song’s country-punk flavoured sound. “Turn Your Back On Me” is equally pessimistic.

The most effective aspects of The Dissent of Man are when Bad Religion ups the tempo and dives into more familiar waters. “Only Rain” and “The Resist Stance” (first heard on 30 Years Live) is closer to vintage BR, while tracks like “Meeting of the Minds” and “Wrong Way Kids” would not feel out of place on Generator or Against the Grain.

Gurewitz has said that there have been a few cases where they would step back from the progressive writing to pen a more straightforward punk album (as with New Maps of Hell and The Empire Strikes First) but this is not one of those times. Greg Graffin has made no secret of the band’s intake of music outside of punk rock since their earliest of days. Their latest simply shows these influences on a more prominent level. Some 30 years after their formation, The Dissent of Man is proof that one of the smartest bands on Earth is still challenging music on a multitude of levels. They’ve now challenged long-time fans and listeners as well, with remarkable effect. (Epitaph)

[xrr rating=4/5]

AUDIO STREAM: “The Pride And the Pallor”
Bad Religion – The Pride And the Pallor (from the album The Dissent of Man)