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Tegan and Sara with Northern State

Fort Lauderdale Gets Cultured By Shaun Flagg Northern State opened with brazen feminine, hip-hop swagger tossing line after line of lyrical flows over a background of heavy beats. These ladies evoke the images of Luscious Jackson but edgier; it doesn’t surprise me that their latest album was co-produced by Beastie Boys member Ad Rock. They…

J. Holiday – Back of My Lac

It’s obvious that Capital knew what they were doing when they discovered J. Holiday, who oozes with sexy smooth vocals and a strong catchy urban R&B flavor that can compete with the best of the best. His vocal prowess is reminiscent of Usher meets D’Angelo with an R. Kelly feel to it. When I first…

Modena Vox – Transportation

At its very best, Modena Vox’s Transportation is boring. Like warmed over Oasis or Interpol with no hook or energy, Vox is a perfect example of why Yanks shouldn’t try to sound like Brits. Even though some songs, like “L.F.A.S.” and “Show Me” seem to promise fast rocking bits, those songs always peter out in…

Justin Currie – What is Love For?

I can’t figure out why Justin Currie would put a song like “What is Love For?” on this album, much less make it the title track. With wince-worthy lyrics such as, “What is love for, Does it wash good people ashore, Does it keep the wolf from the door” I was ready to chuck this…

Black Suit Youth – Our Future is History

Our Future is History isn’t too bad as far as Screamo/Modern Rock goes, there just isn’t anything all that remarkable about it. The punk influence is obvious in the fast, frenetic pace of “Fight Plan” and “We Are Lions” as well as in the urgent, angry lyrics in “Sceneager” and “Midnight,” but its pretty standard…

Intodown – Brave New World

Michael Clark leads the psychedelic decent into the rabbit hole with a variety of drummers, bass players and multi instrumentalists. Brave New World is a skillfully executed instrumental rock album that reverberates below the radar of mainstream pop with Clark making exquisite us of power chords, riffs, and improvisation. Clark has studied the blueprints of…

Christus & The Cosmonaughts – From Atop This Hill

This album evokes the vibe of Pink Floyd but without the pleasant harmonies and vibrant complexities. There is a layered sound built on vintage analog synths. The music is atmospheric and can take you on some journeys of the mind, but be warned, this is not an easy listen. It possesses a depth that requires…

Sound The Alarm – Stay Inside

Punk rock died when Johnny Thunders bit the dust in 1991. Green Day attempted to revive the fuck-all spirit of the former New York Doll three years later with Dookie; that release presaged the second demise of the scene as every acne-wrecked teenage boy who struggled with an instrument in a high school imitated newly…

Readnex Poetry Squad – Social Issue

Social Issue is a collage piecing together different sounds, issues, words, and allusions. The album is very in touch with history, and has an educated basis. I was first given hope by the subtitle “poetry squad” on this album. To me, this signaled an emphasis on lyrics. I was proven right by poignant writing, with…

Keith Murray – Rap-Murr-Phobia

Longevity is a subjective concept in hip-hop nowadays, and based solely on the innumerable, watered-down offerings on the shelf at the record store, any artist who releases two decent albums can very loosely be said to have achieved permanence. There are still a few rappers who have truly been in the game for more than…

Mountain – Masters of War

Tribute albums and cover bands usually conjure images of middle-aged, monochrome make-upped garage band rockers coping with a midlife crisis, but there are exceptions to every generalization, and Mountain’s Masters of War is one of them. Masters of War “pays homage to (Bob) Dylan’s song writing genius,” the band claims on its website. Mountain succeeds…

Milton and the Devils Party – How Wicked We’ve Become

Milton and the Devils Party’s latest album, How Wicked We’ve Become has just left the record player, and has left an uninterested and totally distracted feeling with its listeners. Every song has the same really dreary, monotone vocal by singer/bass player Daniel Robinson. The song structure is decent in terms of instrumentation, however. Mark Graybill…

Melody Club – At Your Service

Being likened to ABBA is an outwardly questionable-at-best comparison, but in the case of Swedish rockers Melody Club and At Your Service, it’s a complimentary measure. Melody Club is a badass, contemporary version of ABBA without the prancing, leotarded visions of Mamma Mia! So what warrants the comparison? Because Melody Club plays catchy, fun music…

Mass Shivers – Ecstatic Eyes Glow Glossy

Give the Chicago-based band Mass Shivers credit. Not only is its latest CD Ecstatic Eyes Glow Glossy short (a mere 29 minutes long) but the band has released one of the more obscure rock recordings of the year. So kudos go out to this band, because it has the guts to spit in the face…

Bedlight for Blue Eyes – Life on Life’s Terms

Former grandiose pomp-rock nimrods Bedlight for Blue Eyes have kicked out a burdensome former singer, gone through several other line-up changes since the uneven and equally oppressive 2005 debut The Dawn, and re-emerged bouncier than a Super Ball. The follow-up, Life on Life’s Terms, is a totally revamped pop-oriented endeavor with a cache of radio-responsive…

Daniel Bon – Walking Backwards Thru the City

There’s nothing really wrong with Walking Backwards Thru the City, the debut CD by Boston’s Daniel Bon & the FUTURE ghosts. The playing is capable, recorded with booming, live-sounding production. Bon churns and croons, changing up the pace enough to keep from settling into the same groove for too long. And Bon has clearly studied…

Landon – Defying the Stereotype

Despite its title, this album defies no stereotype. Landon is the equivalent to a combination of Pink, Amy Lee from Evanescence, and Jo Jo. Landon has a strong voice and can hit high notes, but this does not negate the unoriginality of this album. Remember when Britney Spears did “Stronger” on her album Oops, I…

Awake and Alert – Devil in a Lambskin Suit

Rich, thick, and somber, Awake and Alert’s Devil in a Lambskin Suit is moody and subtle in its execution. Finely crafted with deep and sometimes haunting landscapes, the album’s only shortcoming is its repetition. The Arizona quartet’s deep and atmospheric feel is initially striking. Minimalist instrumentation weights every note and tone with importance as Awake…

Sweetbird – Shine

First impressions are hard to overcome. For someone who is not really into religion, the Heavenly Father and all that jazz, it’s difficult to give an honest opinion about a record for music’s sake when it was recorded in worship of the Lord. Lyrical content is a large part of the entire concept of a…

Grayshot – Waiting Days

Not anyone can be a musical genius, and as such, there are very few artists out there who manage to do something new and totally unexpected. Instead, what happens is this: one band comes up with a sound, and then facsimiles of that band start appearing all over the place; imitation is the sincerest form…

Hip-Hop Victory in Miami – M.I.A and The Cool Kids

M.I.A. and The Cool Kids Heat Up Miami By Shaun Flagg I am exhausted from last night; it is a struggle to function and coffee is the only thing holding me together right now. But it is worth the pain, a long workday of lethargy is a small price to pay. The show at Studio…

Impending Doom – Nailed.Dead.Risen

Blast beats, metalocalypse themes and the guttural bellowing vocals of Brook Reeves take the listener to the darkest corner of the subterranean world, and this is where you will find Impending Doom. Although the band hails from sunny and affluent Corona, California, Impending Doom sharetheir demonic inclinations with standout tracks of irony such as the…

Cipes and the People – The Conscious Revolution Has Begun

“We can free the world”, sings Greg Cipes in “Free Me”, the first single from The Conscious Revolution Has Begun. The debut album from Cipes and the People is a powerful mix of reggae, hip-hop and rock. The album may not be pioneering any new music frontiers; however there is no shortage of love, passion…

Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew – Spirit If…

Broken Social Scene may be presenting Kevin Drew, but this is not a BSS album. Like many BSS compositions, each song is quietly tripped into, and then builds to a symphony of horns, flutes and other orchestral instruments. But there’s something different about Spirit If… The difference between could possibly be due to the host…

Axe Riverboy – Tutu To Tango

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Tahiti 80 front man Xavier Boyer, now know as, Axe Riverboy, has created a collection of smart lyrics and winsome melodies on his new album, “Tutu To Tango”. The arrangements are concise, the embellishments are well-placed and the production extremely well-done. Axe confesses that he “could be somebody else” in the tune…

Immortal Souls – Wintereich

Finnish band Immortal Souls has embarked on an ambitious project. Though I am not a hardcore fan, I was impressed with the beauty (yes, you did read that right) of the lyrics and the artwork of Wintereich. This album is Immortal Souls’ third full-length album and its second US release on Facedown Records. Immortal Souls…

Carnifex – Dead in My Arms

Dead in My Arms is the debut metal album released by San Diego based Carnifex on This City is Burning/Uprising Records. Is there such a genre as “metal soundscape?” This 10-track offering is best described as just that. The “scape” is thick with blistering drum fills and guttural chants intended more to add texture than…

Jay Eff Kay – America: Suicide Notes Vol. 1

The context for Jay Eff Kay’s America: Suicide Notes Vol. 1 is best captured by the image included on the back cover of the CD jacket: you, my friend, are stuck sniffing the butt of “the man.” Jay Eff Kay uses 14 tracks of hip hop and rap to fight back. “Den of Rats” takes…

The Peaces – Is/Are/Was/Were

I’m envious of the money somebody in this alleged 3-piece band must have to be able to spend all that time in the studio, overdubbing and layering all those vocals. What I’m hearing is a highly professional, painfully polished attempt at creating a 21st Century America or Bread, or at times perhaps an uninspired Brian…

Enamel – Stray This Way

Hailing from Springfield, the capital of Illinois, Midwestern power-rock trio Enamel has self-released a dramatic sophomore album. Stray This Way serves up more of the trademark alternating patterns of bone-crunching intensity and wistful balladry, juxtaposed against commanding melodies, soaring harmonies, solid songwriting and tight musicianship. The flawlessly self-produced Stray This Way wears its diverse influences…

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery (Remastered)

The fourth studio album from English progressive rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) is by far one of their most ambitious, if not successful, albums to date. The H.R. Giger artwork should be your first clue that this particular album has more of a science fiction theme than previous works. Peter Sinfield, the lyricist for…

Justin Martin – Chaos Restored

Born in West Hartford, Conn. but transplanted to San Francisco, Calif., Justin Martin exploded onto the house/techno scene in 2003 after being noticed by film producer/DJ Barclay Crenshaw- A.K.A. Claude VonStroke- with his single “The Sad Piano”. Martin has since been a frequent contributor to Buzzin’ Fly Records and recently a cofounder of dirtybird records…

Corporate X – Surrender

If Corporate X is as business-minded as its name suggests, then Surrender finds this dance-rock act easily settling in for a little casual Friday behavior. It contains no lyrical equivalents to flow charts. Instead, it features songs about real life. This act’s central player is Christine DeLeon, who fills these six tracks with eeriness that…

Ari Gold – Transport Systems

Ari Gold’s third studio album Transport Systems is classic hip-hop-influenced dance pop. The melodies feel nicked from Britney and the boy bands of the last decade, but without the catchiness. Ten years ago, few could help singing along with Brit and the boys–whether at the club or in the car on the way to work.…

Sergeant – Midnight to Midnight

Warning: If alone and depressed tonight, you do not want to listen to this album. If, on the other hand, you’re a sucker for straight ahead rock with an extremely moody powerhouse female vocalist/guitarist/pianist heading up the pack, then here’s your Huckleberry. Sergeant’s Midnight to Midnight is the darkest thing you’re going to hear in…

Motion Turns it On – Rima

Fans of progressive rock will be pleasantly surprised with the well crafted musical sketch presented by Motion Turns it On, the up and coming post modern rockers of Houston, Texas. Their debut, the EP Rima, is smoothly refined and cleanly produced. Adventurous this EP is not, and those looking for the edgy experimentalism of the…

Raspberries – Live at Sunset Strip

After 30 plus years, the Raspberries reunited to do a string of concerts. This disc features one of the shows at the House of Blues in So Cal. The group not only set standards that influenced countless working musicians, but captured the interest of music luminaries like Springsteen, Paul Stanley, Jon Bon Jovi, and yes,…

Clock Hands Strangle – Redshift/Blueshift

When one thinks of native Florida music, images conjure up of sultry nights yearning for old Havana, cocaine cowboys burning across the screen in cigarette boats, and Fred Durst rap metal infusions. Rarely does one think of sleek and clean indie riffs, calm and burning with a itching desire to be knotty and melodiously challenging.…

Marc Broussard – S.O.S. Save Our Soul

The Carencro Louisiana native’s purpose was to come out with a disc and live tour that paid tribute to our musical soul heritage. By competently covering classics made popular by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and other selected soul luminaries, he’s been able to accomplish his goal. The re-working of the classics on this 12-song release…

Red – End of Silence

Red is a group that provides some of the drive exhibited by Linkin Park early on and in-your-face guitar reminiscent of the styling of Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge). The use of strings keys, and melodic backdrops at the right places, adds a dimension to their hard driving sound that worked so well for Evanescence.…