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Reviews: Tigers Jaw, Blacklisted, Them Crooked Vultures, Pegasus etc…

February 24, 2010

Tigers Jaw – Self Titled
2008 | Photobooth Records [9.5/10]

There are a lot of bands out now and you hear people talk about them and you just think to yourself, “I need to check them out”. Well that is what happened to me recently with this band. I kept hearing everyone talking about Tigers Jaw, and the named flowed so great and sounded cool that I made myself check them out, and I’m overly glad that I did.

Tigers Jaw have been lurking around the indie/punk and hardcore scene for awhile now, more so on a low radar. Having released two records prior to this its safe to say that they have developed their sound a lot and are doing their own thing. There are so many new bands rising up its starting to get overwhelming and even tiresome to even show interest because most bands are just trying to follow the path that has already been laid out for them. This band however did the right thing, there are influences that are incorporated into their sound (The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring) but they also have room left over that is strictly their own style. I think that this record in particular will draw to the majority of kids who are into Title Fight and those style of bands, but as they put out more records I think that they will start to stray away from that and get a little more creative.

This record alone has a lot of different characteristics to it. Right off the bat the first chord progression is very catchy and upbeat and grabs your attention and then as the song progresses further is slows down into this mid tempo clean guitar groove that just makes you feel good about everything (“The Sun”). This song is a great opening track and it sets the tone of how the overall record is I think, and that is a very important necessity for a full length, or any record for that matter.

Following that is a great acoustic track (“Plane Vs Tank Vs Submarine”) that evolves into somewhat of a slow ballad, which is a good separation from the song prior which had a lot more intensity to it. This song ends with an unsettling feeling but as soon as the next song (“I Saw Water”) kicks in the anxious feeling goes away. Both of the songs flow right into each other so perfectly that it almost sounds as if it was the same song, which in this case isn’t a bad thing.

Im only three songs into a review on this record and I already have a book written about it practically. Either way the rest of this record is sure to be just as good as the first three songs. This band will be one that I will for sure keep in mind when they put out new material in the future. They have such a good sound as it is that its sure to develop into something even better over time. I believe all of the LP’s for this are sold out, but expect a re-release on Run For Cover records sometime soon as well as a new full length and some other releases.

Blacklisted – Eccentrichine
January 2010 | Six Feet Under Records [9/10]

This EP was recorded at the same time as the most recent full length “No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me” and contains two songs that would have been on the record as well as an alternate version of “The P.I.G.” and an acoustic version of “Wish” which was originally on the bands previous full length. If your are into what this band has been doing recently than there is no doubt that you should like this, however if you have not been then you simply will not like this.

The two new songs compliment the full length but also expands their creativity just a little bit more. The opening track “Stone Trow” starts off with a mellow guitar chord melody with soft spoken vocals over top and later introduces vocals by Melissa Farley whose sang on the song “I Am Extraordinary” off the LP. The song picks up to a mid tempo “ballad” almost with lots of strange guitar noises in the background that sound as if Archers of Loaf were playing. Melissa’s vocals come back towards the end of the song and it all just comes together really well and leaves you with a feeling of sorrow almost.

The alternate version of “The P.I.G.” is pretty neat also, I’m not too sure but it sounds to me like they played it in a different tuning, probably a lot lower then the original and the arrangement is a little bit different, but still cool nonetheless. My favorite track off of this however the title track “Eccentrichine” which reminds me a lot of Dinosaur Jr and Archers of Loaf. There is a lot of great guitar work going on with this song and if you had no recollection of Blacklisted before hearing this song than you would assume they are just a weird 90’s alt rock band, and thats kind of what they’re going for lately.

The acoustic version of “Wish” is nothing short of amazing. Never would I have thought to hear this song being played on acoustic and when I read about it when this was first announced my jaw almost dropped. In order to really get the feel for it I would listen to it with a nice pair of headphones or in a decent car stereo because there’s a lot in the background that comes that almost is unbearable unless your in the right listening environment.

Many can hate on the direction that Blacklisted has taken with the past few records, and they can keep hating because I don’t think they care. I think personally they just want to create music that’s different and what they like. I think more bands and people need to step out of the box and be more creative, but then again if everyone did that than what would be considered different? Either way this is a great EP from a great band and if you have been digging what Blacklisted’s been doing lately than you will for sure get into this.

Them Crooked Vultures – Self Titled
November 26, 2009 | DGG/Interscope [7/10]

Often you hear the word “Supergroup” and it never really ends up being that, or anything close to that. Sure you can get a bunch of different guys from some okay bands together and jam but do they end up writing good music together? Hardly really…however when the band consists of members from some of the most notable and influential bands in the past 3 to 4 decades then you start to wonder could they really create something for people to grasp and hold onto, well the answer is yes.

Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and the legendary John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin are the three member that make up Them Crooked Vultures. I remember vividly coming across a review of some sort on the internet and the only thing that was written at the top was “1 Nirvana + 1 QOTSA + 1 Led Zeppelin” and I immediately was in shock and fell out of my chair almost. Obviously its not too surprising that Dave Grohl and Josh Homme are working together but the fact that they got John Paul Johns in on this as well is even more remarkable.

There is no beating around the bush with this record, it is a straight up Rock album. With Josh Homme on vocal duties it sounds obviously very similar to QOTSA but a little more mellow. A lot of this is due to his unique guitar patterns and vocal style but there are some new twists and turns with this that didn’t seem to be done before with his previous bands. Its good to see Dave Grohl back on the drums as well too. He use to fill in for QOTSA a few years back but since then I don’t think he has done any projects besides this one. The drumming is definitely his own style on this recording and the Nirvana resemblance is shown but don’t expect these songs to sound like anything off of “In Utero” or “Nevermind”.

And lets not forget about the legendary John Paul Jones, the fact that he is playing on this record is amazing and there is not better word in describing that. He’s well recognized as an icon for many bass players but he is also a very versatile musician/composer and he shows that a lot on this record by playing a variety of different instruments as well as the piano. He definitely holds this band together and without him it simply would not be the same.

“New Fang” and “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” are the two singles off of this record and the most prominent as well as the opening track “No One Loves Me, & Neither Do I” which starts off with a simple but groovy drum beat shortly being followed by smooth guitar licks and soft vocal melodies. However there are a few songs on here that are filler songs, its not that they’re bad but they just are not as powerful as the others but with any record there are bound to be a few of those.

All in all this record is great and there are a lot of songs on here that I constantly go back to and listen to and still find things that I never picked up on. The word super group is almost overplayed and redundant because there have been so many, but this is one thats needed to happen for those who have been a fan of any of the three bands that this was derived from. Go and pick this up and hear it for yourself, you either will be love it or hate it and that pretty much goes for any thing really so whats the point of reading this review?

Maximum Penalty – Life & Times
October 2009 | Reaper Records [9/10]

I saw Maximum Penalty two summers ago when we played with them at This Is Hardcore, I had never listened to them prior so I made sure to get a spot up by the side stage to see how they were. This when they had just coma back to play more shows again and let me tell you, they had the best set of the whole fest and they blew me away the most that weekend. The singers voice totally surprised me and the music was so intense and catchy that I immediately grabbed one of the promotional demos they had at their table, and that was just as good as their live set.

Now over a year later they are back with one of the best LP’s of 2009 “Life & Times” on Reaper Records. This record is packed with 15 songs of pure NYHC and it shows both old school traditions and a bit of new school style of hardcore that makes you proud to listen to. I think if Eddie Sutton (Leeway) sang for Madball this is what it would have sounded liked and I’m glad he didn’t because I think MP does it better.

Starting off with the title track (“Life & Times”) which is a punch in the face when you first hit play. Immediately starting with a groovy riff following shortly by the clean cut full range vocals. This is defiantly one of the hits off this record and I’m glad its the first song because it really does the job right by pulling in the listeners attention. This song sets the entire feel for this record and you can kind of get what its about, but it doesn’t stop here, it keeps getting better and better. The production of this record is top notch, especially for a hardcore band. They put a lot into this and a lot of time as well, I remember hearing from someone that they spent over a year recording and preparing for this release which doesn’t sound to far off because a production of this scale needs a lot of time and patience.

Some of my favorite tracks off of this include “Paper Bullets”, “Threat Assessment”, “Fight My Way Back”, “And The Walls”, and “Tribulations”. For a hardcore record I would say 15 songs is a lot, and almost overbearing but I think they got away with it. After all its the first real release for the band in quite some time now so it makes sense to have a lot of songs on this. I find this is the best to put on when I’m driving a lot, you can rip right through the whole record and hopefully not get pulled over while doing so.

All in all this is one of the best hardcore records to come out in the past few years in my opinion, at least for this particular style. Maximum Penalty does it right and they display the essence of what a true hardcore band is, and this record stands as a tribute of lifestyle and the music. If you have not yet heard this record and you are a fan of NYHC there is something wrong with you, go pick it up and hear for yourself. Also be sure to check them out live this year as well, because they are one of the best live bands in hardcore today, lots of energy on stage, don’t be a sucker and pick up this LP.

Power Trip – Armageddon Blues
September 2009 | Double Or Nothing Records [8/10]

This is the debut 7″ EP from Texas’s own Power Trip. Gaining influence from local bands such as Iron Age and Bitter End there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a metal influenced record. I don’t know what kind of air they are breathing in over there but everything that has come out of the great state of Texas in the past few years has been gold.

This whole record is screaming 80’s/early 90’s thrash and in the vein of Nuclear Assault and early Cro-Mags mixed Obituary riffs(cause of death era). The sound of this record could get confused with one of those records as well because the production sounds very similar. The record starts off with a guitar intro (“Armageddon Blues”) with just one riff and then breaks right into an upbeat thrash riff that will sweep you off your feet. The vocals on these recordings are really unique and they fit the style that they are going for, it reminds me John Joseph mixed with the singer of the Icemen a little.

The next track (“Lake of Fire”) starts off with a groovy 80’s sounding bass line that I was not expecting to hear when I first put this on for a spin, very cool. The last two songs are both my favorite, they stand out the best and I think you can get what this band is about by listening to both of those tracks. They simply just make you want to bang your head up and down and wish you had long hair.

Power trip recorded four songs for this 7″ and I feel that it was the perfect amount. A lot of bands I think overdo it when they put out a 7″. The length is perfect and the songs are not to long but also have structure. I think the longest song is the first one and its about halfway over four minutes in length. But what do you expect when a band decides to crossover thrash and hardcore.

This is a great first EP by a great hardcore band out of Texas. I would say keep your eye on this band if you haven’t already because they will be doing some good things in the future. I can only imagine what the record after this will sound like.

Pegasus – Self Titled
2009 | Six Feet Under Records [9/10]

Six Feet Under in the past has been known for releasing records of bands who have not done anything prior and mainly just let people hear about it from word of mouth, well Pegasus is another band you can add to the list. Featuring members of Cold World, War Hungry, RZL DZL, and the Rival Mob this 7″ consists of three songs that are heavily influenced by late 80’s/early 90’s metal/rock.

Most people have never listened to the last two records by Leeway (Adult Crash, and Open Mouth Kiss) and its a shame. I recently just discovered them and was bummed that I had not heard these recordings before. But, the influence that those records have on this band dominate over anything else that I can think of. The vocals on this are all singing and sound as if he took a time machine back to ’94 and recorded it during the ‘Adult Crash’ sessions but added a lot of reverb over top. There is really no other way to describe it except it sounding really 90’s and awesome. I have not heard a recent hardcore band sound like this ever and its cool that they did something like this.

This record starts off with some weird noise with feedback overlaying it until about 0:45 and then the song kicks right in with guitar and drums doing an intro that cuts right into this fast part with the vocals quickly following. The recording on this record is really raw, but not unlistenable, it actually sounds good. I think its made to sound like its from the late 80’s/early 90’s to sort of capture that “classic” sound. The second track (“In My Fright”) ends with a fast picking thrash riff over top slow hard hitting drums. The vocals really come out towards the end of the last song (“Nine Bites of the Cherry”) and the reverb added onto his vocals really makes it all come together, along with the groovy Iron Age style riff at the end that leads right into a pretty neat solo.

I was not expecting to be so into this record as much as I am. When I first heard about it everyone just said it sounded like leeway and I thought to myself how many times can a band rip off the riff to “Enforcer” but this is not really like that at all. They are definitely influenced a lot by that band but they really have something else going on with their music and its overall just an awesome EP. Go and pick this up because the 2nd pressing is selling fast.

Fire & Ice – Gods & Devils
January 2010 | Triple B Records [8/10]

This is a band everyone has been talking about for past few months now, and this release has been one that I’ve been excited to get on vinyl. This is the bands debut 7′ on Triple B Records and one of the best releases to date for the label. This is raw and pure sounding, some of these songs are re-recorded off the demo which originally sounded like they were recorded in garageband, but still cool nonetheless. Mixing influences from early Cro-mags to the more obvious Icemen, Fire and Ice is bringing back the old raw NYHC sound.

Some of my favorite elements of this recording are defiantly the guitars and the vocals. The vocals are clean and blend well with the rest of music. You can understand and pick out almost everything that’s being said. There are even parts (i.e. “Grave Digger”) that he is actually singing, and it reminds me a lot of Eddie Sutton’s (Leeway) voice. I haven’t heard of a band doing that in a long time, and especially as well as this.

The riffs on this record sound as if I was listening to an earlier NYHC recording from The Icemen or Leeway. “Gods & Devils”, “Vices”, and “Grave Digger” are my personal favorites and they all happen to go right after one another. A lot of hardcore records that have come out lately do not flow smoothly at all, but all of these songs sound and fit appropriately.

All in all this is a great record from a great band. Its raw, quick, and memorable. Richmond has been known to spark many good bands in the past and this band has definitely been the talk of the town for a while now. We are only a few weeks into 2010 and I am already calling this my favorite release of the year. This record just dropped so be sure to pick one up online through Triple B or at a show, you will not be disappointed.

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