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Note: If you can read french, go to the french section for additional content.

 

0-9 - 1208 -

A - Alpha - The Arcade Fire -

B - Bad Religion - Bars - Beastie Boys - Before Today - Black Cat Music - The Black Keys -

C - Camera Obscura - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Clumsy Lovers - Codeseven - Collective SoulCommuniqué - Converge - Amy Correia -

D - Delerium - Division of Laura Lee - Dropkick Murphys -

E - Each On Set - Eminem - Endicott - Engine Down - Error -

F - Fear Before The March Of Flames - The Frames - Franz Ferdinand - Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards - From First To Last - The Futureheads -

G - Gabriel & Dresden - Good Charlotte - Green Day - Guttermouth -

H - The Hives (3) - HorrorPops - Hot Water Music - Griffin House -

K - The Killers -

L - The Lashes - Liars Academy - Courtney Love -

M - Made Of Koncentrate - The Matches - Sarah McLachlan - Tom McRae - David Mead -

N - Nekromantix - NOFX -

O - Old Crow Medicine Show -

P - Panurge - Po' Girl - Pulley -

R - The Reputation -

S - Simple Plan - Slipknot - Elliott Smith - The Snake The Cross The Crown - Gwen Stefani - Sum 41 -

T - Tiësto - Tiger Army -

U - U2 - US Roughnecks -

V - Vaux - The Vines -

W - Rufus Wainwright - Tom Waits - Brian Wilson -

COMPILATIONS - Chillout 05 - The Dreamers - Give 'Em The Boot - Maybe This Christmas Tree - Modern Day Troubadours - Punk-O-Rama - A Winter's Night

 

 

1208, Turn Of The Screw

This second album of the pop punk California band 1208 was a part of my CDs I knew I had to make a review of since a long time but I was always choosing something else to talk about, thinking it was not interesting for many of the visitors of the site. I listened to it a couple of times not very carefully and I thought it was interesting, but not more than that. I liked the video of Next Big Thing (we can see in the enhanced portion of the CD). Finally, listening to it with care, I discovered an excellent album. They have the negative point to offer a style that is not very hot since a couple of years, but have the quality to give us good pop punk. "Turn Of The Screw" contains particularly well done melodies, a lot of energy and no pre-teen ballads (good!). It's an album we can compare to the good years of Blink 182, Pennywise, NOFX and The Descendents. Staying a music for teens, the music of 1208 represents at least something good. The fans of that style should not be disappointed and will prefer this record to the new ones by New Found Glory or Good Charlotte. (December 2004)

Epitaph

½

Alpha - Stargazing

Alpha, Stargazing - Special Edition

Alpha is a british duo from Bristol including Corin Dingley and Andy Jenks. The 2 guys make trip hop music, most of the time instrumental, but sometimes, they invite singers to give their voices to some of the compositions of the band. "Stargazing" is their 3rd album and the one that gave them the greatest success in England. It is now offered in America one year later in a special stretched edition to catch the americans attention, americans that were never very attracted by this genre of ambiant electronic music. Looking at the sales of the last Massive Attack release in America, it's easy to think that Alpha won't reach the same success than they had in their native country. Yet, it's a good idea to listen to this record which is among the bests in the genre. They say they are influenced by movie soundtracks and they give us a very rich music with different sounds and moods. It's true that we talk about trip hop music, but they are able to go to another level with it, far from the first records of Portishead and Massive Attack. In fact, they are able to make trip hop continue to grow, a genre that had many problems to survive in the last couple of years. They offer us a good musical deepness and all the album is perfectly balanced. We can almost see images when we're listening carefully to "Stargazing". Of course, like the Alpha music is very soft and introspective, it's strongly suggested to listen to the entire album at least a couple of times before making an opinion of it. But, when you will have made the necessary effort, you will be greatly rewarded. If you're a fan of Portishead, Massive Attack and the softest side of Björk, you should acquire this album that will surely fulfil you. A great discovery! (June 2004)

Nettwerk

½

The Arcade Fire, Funeral

The Arcade Fire is a band from Montreal that catches everyone's attention since the release of its first album in September of 2004. The band is formed by a couple, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, accompanied by Will, the younger brother of Win, and completed by Richard Parry and Tim Kingsbury. This family gives us an indie rock music particularly creative with unforgettable melodies and a perfect mix between introspection and rhythm. We can compare them to their cousins from Montreal The Dears, but other names come to our minds: Pixies, Sugarcubes, Modest Mouse, The Cure. We can find in The Arcade Fire sound a good use of strings and keyboards bringing a great musical richness. They gave the title "Funeral" to the album after many deaths of people in their environment in the last year, but don't worry, the record has nothing annoying to death. On the contrary, the 10 tracks of the record for a total of 48 minutes never disappoint us and every new listening helps us to discover a new aspect of it we didn't hear before. It's an album without any weaknesses that leaves us foresee a brilliant future for this new band of the Montreal scene that can already be compared to the greatests of all. This album, I have to add to my 2004 top 20, is an excellent reason to start a new section of this page entitled "best new artist", a section that will come back every month. (February 2005 featured new artist)

Merge

½

Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First

Bad Religion, The Empire Strikes First

I liked the previous record of Bad Religion, "The Process of Belief", which was giving us back guitarist Brett Gurewitz, but with some distance, I had the feeling I didn't remember anything of it. With "The Empire Strikes First", we find once again the lineup with three guitarists, but this time on better compositions. I needed a couple of listenings to really appreciate, because in the beginning I compared too easily some of the songs to their less efficient albums of the late 90's. But, I learned to appreciate them more and more and I can now say there is very few weak songs among the 14 tracks of the album (not more than 2 ou 3). Some of the songs have also the potential to become classics of the band. Sinister Rouge, Social Suicide, Let Them Eat War and God's Love have nothing to envy to the best songs of "Against The Grain", "Generator" and "Recipe For Hate". In fact, I think this is their best record since "Stranger Than Fiction" released 10 years ago. Once again, they use the winning formula of short songs of 2 minutes representing most of the time the best compositions of this album. The band is still as socially engaged and they don't hesitate to denounce the american administration. We can see on the cover what is their opinion about president George W. Bush. So, it's a particularly well balanced album Bad Religion is offering us with "The Empire Strikes First", an album that should stay in our mind for a longer period of time than the previous one. (July 2004 featured review)

Epitaph

½

Bars, Introducing...

Here is a nice discover I did. Bars is a band from Boston giving us hardcore rock n' roll extremely energetic. The press release talks about influences of Dead Boys and Entombed and comparisons with the Misfits, Queens of The Stone Age, McLusky, Black Flag and Discharge. I almost agree to all those comparisons to which I would add a little bit of Motörhead in some occasions. Except for a couple of songs a little annoying, you will have a lot for your money during the 29 minutes of the album. The listening of the 10 songs is quick as light and you will desire to listen to it one more time at the end. Incredible guitar solos arrive at any moment on the record and it's easy to imagine the guitarist in a smoky bar going in trance. The rock n' roll fans that are not afraid of having their ears brutalized by the screaming voice of the singer, should pay attention to this new band that has not a lot to do to its compositions to become a band of a great quality. (December 2004)

Equal Vision

½

Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs

Beastie Boys, To The 5 Boroughs

There are some of those untouchable bands a lot of people love with passion whatever the quality of their product. The Beastie Boys are among them and a negative review of their most recent album would bring me a big number of insulting emails. Moreover, it's the first time that a new release gives me as much messages from people wanting a review from me as soon as possible. So, here it is! The first album of the band in 6 years, "To The 5 Boroughs" don't bring anything really new compared to their 2 previous albums, except for the theme of 9/11. Once again, I have problems to get into this album completely, like it was the case for most of their albums anyway, which is making me a bad judge for the Beastie Boys. The previous albums had the advantage to include classic songs totally impossible to forget (Body Movin', Sabotage, etc.), but here it's not even the case. The first single, Ch-Check It Out, don't reinvent anything, is not played anywhere and probably won't receive any recognition in a long term basis. The rest of the album, some kind of always similar, don't include anything else to make a large audience pay attention to it. It's anyway a good album which is fun to listen to, an album that is getting better and better after a certain number of listenings, except that you need to have the patience to go through the first ones. It's possible you sigh a couple of times, but don't worry about it because you probably won't be the only one since there are weaker songs in the middle of the album. When the 15 tracks for a total of 43 minutes will end, you will have anyway a good feeling about it because of good songs after the 9th (All Lifestyles, An Open Letter To NYC and Crawlspace). So, it's an album that should please the fans, but will be totally ignored by a large audience less convinced about the band. But we have to consider they are the pioneers of rap music and they can give lessons to many contemporary pseudo rappers well overestimated. "To The 5 Boroughs" is under the average of the other albums of the band, but is above other rap albums from these years. (August 2004 featured review)

½

Before Today - A Celebration Of An Ending

Before Today, A Celebration Of An Ending

Before Today is a melodic punk band from San Diego, California. They mix complex guitars and melodies to this style of punk known for its simplicity. Elements of progressive rock come to enrich the mix, bringing it simple and complex, aggressive and clean. What a mix! The band, formerly known as Early Times, changed its name for contractual reasons when it was signed with Equal Vision Records. "A Celebration Of An Ending" is the first complete record for the band and it should please fans of energetic and different punk music. Its most important weaknesses are: no song comes out of the package and we don't remember anything of it. Yet, it's an album we like to listen to and the 35 minutes don't last long. Take a listen to it and maybe you will be catched by this more than I was. (November 2004)

Equal Vision

Black Cat Music - October November

Black Cat Music, October November

Here is the second album of Black Cat Music, an indie rock band from Oakland, California. Their previous record, "Hands In the Estuary Torso In The Lake", was acclaimed by the critics, even if its success was not so great. With "October November", the band presents us an extremely well done album with its own personnality. The comparisons are almost impossible and the bands mentionned in the press release are not so close to the sound of Black Cat Music (Misfits, The Clash, The Cure, Social Distortion, etc.). Their garage side can be compared to The Strokes or The White Stripes. Their punk side can join Talking Heads, Wire and The Dead Kennedys, but they are the only comparisons I can do. They have a sound of their own, what is doing a very creative band, a band that we should take a look at in the years to come. You will love their blues influences (Down Pretty Low) as well as their rock n' roll influences (Hearts Of Chrome). If you're looking for a new original rock band, look at Black Cat Music and you will make a very impressive discovery. (May 2004)

Lookout!

½

The Black Keys - Rubber Factory

The Black Keys, Rubber Factory

After the excellent "Thickfreakness" released in 2003, I didn't know what to expect of a new album released so quickly by this blues/garage american duo. But, the result is pretty impressing with a sound more influenced by the 60's blues of Jimi Hendrix and the british R&B of the same era, with still influences of black blues from the south of the US. The strength of the Black Keys is to bring those musical genres to another level and to make a complete modern sound of them. Their minimalist arrangements still bring comparisons with The White Stripes, but I would say that they are more able to make us forget they are only 2 musicians (Dan Auerbach, voice and guitar and Patrick Carney, drums). The band reminds us also of the beginnings of the canadian trio Big Sugar before they became a common pop rock band. The rock n' roll songs we can hear on "Rubber Factory" make certainly of this album one of the most interesting rock n' roll albums of the year. We only have to think of the "hendrixian" 10 A.M. Automatic, Just Couldn't Tie Me Down and Stack Shot Billy, which are immediate classics of bluesy rock n' roll, and all by themselves, they give me the motivation to see the band on stage. They make a pleasant cover of Act Nice And Gentle by The Kinks, plus Grown So Ugly from the first record of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band in 1967. Every person who likes modern blues and rock n' roll absolutely has to discover the Black Keys to be able to say they know the genre. "Thickfreakness" is an excellent choice to discover the duo, but I think that "Rubber Factory" is better. A minimalist but great album! (November 2004)

Fat Possum / Epitaph

Camera Obscura - Underachievers Please Try Harder CD

Camera Obscura, Underachievers Please Try Harder

Camera Obscura is a scottish band that was formed almost 10 years ago, but issued its first album in America  at the beginning of 2004 with "Underachievers Please Try Harder", the american version including 2 bonus tracks in comparison with the original version released 1 year before in Europe. This band regrouping 6 members gives us a pop sound that can be compared to their older brothers Belle and Sebastian. They have many influences from the 60's, with a country side in some occasions and a folk acoustic side in others. In every cases, the melodies are particularly effective and the songs are extremely well worked with arrangements of a superior quality. Their compositions need a couple of good listenings anyway to learn how to like them officially, but you will remind some melodies very quickly. To conclude, it's an album you have to listen to totally and it will certainly please the Belle and Sebastian fans. (May 2005)

Merge

½

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus

After "Nocturama" released in 2003, considered by many like the worst album of their career, Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds come back with nothing less than a double album. An exaggerated double album, because they only had to cut a song to put it on a single disc, and they only had to separate it in 2 parts if they wanted it absolutely. Musically, "Abattoir Blues" is a lot different from "The Lyre Of Orpheus", the first one being more rock and raw with close comparisons with "Nocturama". The second one is more in the zone of Nick Cave, where he is at his best, with introspective, deep and smart songs. On the 2 discs, we can hear a gospel choir on most of the songs, an interesting addition without being so impressive. Right in the beginning of the 1st CD, Get Ready For Love aggressed me, without reconquering me after, which is forcing me to always skip this one each time I listen to the album. It's exactly the type of song giving me a bad feeling I can't explain, but like I listen to music for the opposite reason, it was not the best way to start this album. After that, the situation is more stable, even if at least 3 other songs from "Abattoir Blues" left me totally indifferent, including the title song. At the beginning of "The Lyre Of Orpheus", the new title song brings us once again a fear about what's coming up, but as soon as at the following track, the acoustic Breathless, we're completely conquered. The addition of flute is particularly pleasant and later, the addition of piano in Easy Money and of violin in Spell are great for the musical richness. The gospel choir, more discreet on the second disc, is easier to like, even if it reappears clearly on O Children closing beautifully the album. In conclusion, we find more songs with good commercial possibilities on "Abattoir Blues" (There She Goes My Beautiful World and Nature Boy, the first single), but "The Lyre Of Orpheus" is  clearly better and more interesting. The total double album is extremely varied, and except for the couple of weaknesses we can find, it's certainly an excellent album for Nick Cave and his band. By cutting a few songs and with a different pacing, it could have become one of the best albums of his career. (November 2004)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Clumsy Lovers - After The Flood

The Clumsy Lovers, After The Flood

After many albums produced by themselves, the ontarians of The Clumsy Lovers release their first real album on Nettwerk with "After The Flood". They offer us folk rock music with references to celtic music, bluegrass and country. We can do some comparisons with The Clash of the last years, The Pogues, Barenaked Ladies, Great Big Sea and Ashley MacIsaac. We find a great number of traditional instruments, most of the time not used in rock music like mandolin, violin, banjo, etc. In my opinion, it's with Mercy that they are more able to perfectly mix traditional and modern music. For the rest, it's typical to canadian folk and a few new sounds are integrated to their music. Among the 15 songs of the album, we can find 4 covers of traditional songs (Groove Set, Waterbound, Highland Skip and Playera). I have many problems to be a good judge for this genre of music because it's not one I appreciate very much, but it's a happy and energetic album that should be appreciated by the fans of traditional canadian music. (May 2004)

Nettwerk

Codeseven - Dancing Echoes / Dead Sounds

Codeseven, Dancing Echoes / Dead Sounds

Codeseven is a band from North Carolina formed by 3 brothers and 2 good friends of Winston-Salem. After beginning its career as a punk band in 1995, Codeseven took a metal direction in 1999, before becoming softer and more experimental in 2002 with the album "Rescue". On "Dancing Echoes / Dead Sounds", there is nothing left close to metal. They almost followed the same way as Incubus, but keeping their creativity and exploiting it more and more. This 4th record of the band presents us experimental rock, sometimes ambiant and sometimes a little bit more pop, with influences of Pink Floyd, Björk and Muse. Electronic sounds are particularly well used on this album and it mixes in a good way with rock, even if rock stays well in front. It's a very good album Codeseven is offering us, and I hope they won't take another direction with the next one keeping their name. In a marketing point of view, the strategy is bad because they always have to conquer new fans each 3 or 4 years. Nothing stops them to do many different styles, but they should change the name for each different project! (November 2004)

Equal Vision

½

Collective Soul - Youth CD

Collective Soul, Youth

I was not very excited about a new Collective Soul album after a couple of dull ones with too much ballads. But the band comes back with a rock sound closer to their 2 first records. It's a sound we can consider "power pop", and that made their eponymous album of 1995 their most popular. Collective Soul took it in the 90's where Bon Jovi couldn't go anymore and it's still the case here. Good rhythms, perfect for the radios, on a short album of 38 minutes: here is the recipe for success with Collective Soul. Obviously, the band doesn't break any rules and if their sound at their beginning was creative, it seems older today, like if the band had stopped somewhere between 1995 and 1998. So, fans of creative and modern music will have to forget it, but the band's fans should be pleased with Youth, a refreshing album to listen to all windows down in the car by a sunny afternoon of summer. (June 2005)

½

Communiqué, Poison Arrows

Here is the first complete album for this Californian band among the most interesting for the future. Communiqué takes its inspiration as well in the 60's than in the 80's with a mix of Bowie, Duran Duran and U2, with a little twist of punk hard to detect, which is making it a very actual rock sound. We can compare them to Franz Ferdinand and The New Pornographers because of their melodies particularly catchy. We just have to see if they can get out of all the other bands in the genre like Franz Ferdinand does these days, but it's sure that it's only a question of time anyway. Even if it's not with "Poison Arrows", we will certainly hear about Communiqué in the years to come. This first album a little bit naive is very effective, even if it needs a couple of listenings. Everything shows that the experience the band will gain in the next years will bring the band to a new level of maturity that will give them the oppotunity to be among the greatest of their era. A very good discovery that I made! (July 2004)

Lookout!

½

Converge - You Fail Me CD

Converge, You Fail Me

The sixth album of the band, You Fail Me is their first on Epitaph Records which can help them to get out of the American underground in which they are well known since many years. But, musically, there is nothing on this most recent release that can catch the attention of a larger audience. Like they always do, the guys of Converge give us a brutal metal sound that will hurt many ears, except for the soft "In Her Shadow" making an interlude to the 8th track. It’s an album that didn’t impress me at the first listen, and I didn’t want to listen to it many times in a row to appreciate it. But, the band does what they always did best and the album should please their fans, especially in concert. There is a good continuity on the album and it’s perfect for the underground metal with strong punk hardcore influences fans. (July 2005)

Epitaph

Amy Correia, Lakeville

Born on the US east coast (Lakeville, Massachusetts), Amy Correia now resides in Los Angeles, California. "Lakeville" is her 2nd album after "Carnival Love" issued in 2000. A great composer-songwriter, she offers an adult and contemporary pop music, with some elements of modern folk and country in some occasions. So, it's a soft and relaxing music she presents with a particular poetry. The sounding is rich and the co-production of Amy and Mark Howard is almost perfect. The main problem with the album is that it doesn't have the little thing that would bring the attention on her by people like me who don't listen a lot to this very adult type of music. But fans of the genre should pay attention to this particularly talented singer that will probably seduce them with her warm voice. (January 2005)

Nettwerk

Delerium - The Best Of

Delerium, The Best Of

Here is a collection of the best songs from the 4 albums of the canadian duo Delerium since 1994, which was their debut with Nettwerk. We can find 12 classics of the band plus 2 new compositions: Paris (in french) and You And I. Delerium started as a side project to the band Front Line Assembly in the late 80's, but was able to establish itself as a first category electro band throughout the years and you will be the witness of it here with ambient and dance songs of great quality. Many of the songs offered are presented in a different version than the original one, sometimes in a radio version or a dance remix, which is giving one more reason to the fans to buy the album. The two most important negative points of this compilation is the non-chronological order of the songs and the booklet with no details. But, we find the best of the duo Leeb/Fulber in the last 10 years and everything is presented in a pop approach because of the remixes, which is giving Delerium the opportunity to come out of the underground scene. Every fan of Sarah McLachlan (we can hear by the way on  2 versions of Silence) and 90's trip hop lovers should discover Delerium if it's not done yet. And this collection is the best way to do that. I loved the album "Chimera" released in 2003 and with this compilation, I'm now officially a Delerium fan! (October 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Division Of Laura Lee - Das Not Compute

Division of Laura Lee, Das Not Compute

Division of Laura Lee is a swedish quartet, offering us a garage music, and they are now releasing their 2nd real album. In Sweden, they talked about them at their beginning as an underground hardcore punk band, but there is nothing hardcore on this CD. Even if their sound has evident punk influences, it's most of the time easy to listen and it has a great pop potential. In fact, their sound is closer to modern rock bands like Supergrass, Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Strokes and The Hives, even if we can hear old influences of Iggy Pop, MC5, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Pink Floyd. The garage sound is less perceptible on "Das Not Compute" which benefits of arrangements at a high level of quality. Melodies are always well done and after a couple of listenings, we discover surprisingly that we already know most of them. The critics seem to have not appreciate this new album as much as "Black City" released in 2002, but for me, having not heard the previous one, I can only say that this one is a very good album that has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to other bands in the same genre but more famous. In my opinion, it's only a question of time before the band gets success in America like The Hives did before. "Das Not Compute" is a CD that won't get out of your sound system, except to transfer it to your car! (June 2004)

Burning Heart / Epitaph

½

Dropkick Murphys, Tessie (EP)

The punk band Dropkick Murphys decided to rewrite and rearrange the official anthem of the Boston Red Sox of the early 20th century, Tessie. The guys present it here in 2 different versions on this EP also containing 3 other songs: The Fields Of Athenry (from the band's most recent release, "Blackout"), Nut Rocker and an acoustic version at WBCN of The Burden. It's also an enhanced CD including the video of Tessie. You will be able to hear on the title song the voices of 3 Red Sox players: Johnny Damon, Bronson Arroyo and Lenny Dinardo. I don't know how much this EP could have been a turning point for the Red Sox way of playing the world series, but the team came back from a 0-3 disadvantage against the New York Yankees, their worst enemy, to win the world series with 8 wins in a row against New York and St. Louis. I don't think the quality of this CD made the difference, because it's musically weak, but it should please the Red Sox fans and baseball fans in general who can keep it as a souvenir of the 2004 world series. Take note that all proceeds from the sales of this CD will be donated to the Red Sox Foundation. (November 2004)

Hellcat / Epitaph

Each On Set, Living For Artificial Fun

Each On Set is a punk band from Quebec City presenting a standard punk style, not so far from the California punk. In fact, right at the beginning of To All My Plastic Friends, before the beginning of the voice, we think to Blink 182. Later, we can compare them to Sum 41 and Pennywise with a little hardcore side in some rare occasions, most of all because of the voice of Samuel Paquin which is most of the time melodic, but sometimes screaming. The energy of the quartet can be heard all along this first album of 34 minutes divided in 10 tracks. A video has been filmed for Getting Out and you will be able to see it on Musique Plus, the french version of Much Music on the 123 Punk show. Each On Set is certainly among the bands to check out in the Quebec punk scene. (December 2004)

New Horizon

Eminem - Encore Cover Art

Eminem, Encore

Being a fan of the 3 first records by the bad boy of hip hop Eminem, I had big expectations about this new release. Then, the critics' not very good reactions at its issue disinterested me to hear this new record. At the end, I decided to listen to it anyway and it's once again a good album I found in "Encore". Good, but with too much elements he already used before, which is making this one a less interesting one. First, the album is structured in the exact same way as the previous ones with an intro (Curtains Up), an outro (Curtains Down), interludes, 20 tracks and 77 minutes. Secondly, the strongest songs (Just Lose It, Like Toy Soldiers, Rain Man) are less impressing than the ones on the previous records. Finally, there is more unuseful stuff, easier to skip. Nevertheless, we can once again hear great sampling like Crazy On You by Heart in Crazy In Love and Toy Soldiers by Martika in Like Toy Soldiers. More friendly than before, Eminem presents us a softer album needing a few good listenings. After this effort, you should appreciate it anyway, but it's sure that you won't hear the genious you've heard before. He keeps the lead among modern hip hop artists, but he will have to bring better compositions on the next album to keep the audience's interest. (March 2005 featured review)

½

Endicott, The Words In Ink Don't Lie

Endicott is a new band from Albany, NY offering us a punk rock sound with influences of metal and hardcore. They often go from melodic voices to guttural ones. When they're guttural, it's probably the most negative part of the album and it forces us to turn the volume down because it becomes intolerable on many songs one after the other. Anyway, they have an energetic style that should catch your attention, even if the album misses a little bit of variety. The theme of the album is a kidnapping sometimes in the victim point of view, sometimes in the abductor point of view and sometimes in the victim's family point of view. Comparisons are difficult to make, but the most melodic moments reminded me of the beginnings of Incubus. Endicott is that type of band you will love or hate. On my part, as soon as on the first song I didn't like it very much and because of the uniformity of the album, I was not very impressed by it. It's a good first try, but they still have work to do to be different and better than a lot of other bands and gain many fans. Take note they were on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. (September 2004)

Equal Vision

Engine Down - Engine Down

Engine Down, Engine Down

Even if Engine Down presents us its first record on Lookout, the band is far from its beginning because this is its 4th album since 2000. This band from Virginia offers us an indie rock sound very melodic with some discreet hardcore tendencies. Their sound is built on a good bass line particularly efficient and guitars are well in front. The creativity of the band makes them difficult to describe and compare, but we can say they are closer to the alternative New York scene with elements of progressive rock. They also have a pop side that can bring them out of the underground circuit. Being totally unable to compare them, you will have to listen to samples of their music online to make your own opinion. But what is perfectly clear, it's that their music becomes more and more interesting after a couple of listenings, and even if very few songs come out of the album as big hits could do, you will have a good time to listen to the album once again. An interesting band to discover with a great potential for the future. (September 2004)

Lookout!

½

Error - Error EP

Error, Error (EP)

Here is a EP that was very surprising for me. Released by Epitaph and with Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion among the members of the trio, I was sure it would be a punk rock album in the pure tradition of the California record company, but it's not the case. Error has an industrial sound they call "industrial punk" at Epitaph, but that is in fact directly influenced by Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Skinny Puppy. You are certainly questioning what Brett Gurewitz, founder of Epitaph, does in this band? He most of all brought ideas, composed the melodies and wrote the lyrics, in addition to his work as sound engineer. The other members of the trio are Atticus Ross on programming (who worked with Trent Reznor and Rancid and works right now on the next Nine Inch Nails' record) and his young brother on guitar, bass and programming. The voice is done on the CD by Gregg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan. The final result of those collaborations is an electronic music on a fast punk structure. This EP of 5 tracks for a total of 17 minutes presents a very good introduction to the band that is working on a complete record and is looking for full time musicians for an eventual tour. If you like industrial music and you are not pleased with what we offered you in the past few years, you should pay attention to this new band that will probably be of a great interest for you. With this EP at a very low price, you don't take a big risk anyway. (September 2004)

Epitaph

½

Fear Before The March Of Flames - Art Damage

Fear Before The March Of Flames, Art Damage

Directly from Denver, Colorado, Fear Before The March of Flames come back with their 2nd album, the 1st with Equal Vision Records that also released the 1st record of the band entitled "Odd How People Shake". They offer us a punk hardcore and metal sound with creative elements reminding us of the east coast alternative rock scene (Fugazi, Sonic Youth, etc.). The rhythm is very fast and the singer David Marion cries with a guttural voice all the 11 songs of the album, and after only one song, we have a soar throat for him and we can't breath anymore. Even if the musical background is creative with good melodies, I had problems with the voice all along, which means that I didn't appreciate very much. Plus, it's easier to put the volume at a lower level than at a higher level, another big sign that I didn' t appreciate "Art Damage" very much. Hardcore music fans, who like very aggressive music, will probably love it and should appreciate the creativity and freshness of the band, in addition to be able to read a beautiful booklet of great quality containing all the lyrics. But on my part, they hurt my pure ears... or almost. (October 2004)

Equal Vision

Frames - Set List Cover Art

The Frames, Set List (2003) (2004 re-issue)

After having heard the excellent new album of The Frames, "Burn The Maps", and before going to see them live on March 3rd at Cabaret La Tulipe of Montreal, I had to write about their live record, "Set List", recorded in Dublin, Ireland (the town where they were born) in November of 2002. We can hear 14 tracks for a total of  almost 74 minutes and it represents the best of their 4 first records. The band includes a couple of classics through its music like Pure Imagination (a jazz classic), Redemption Song (of Bob Marley) and Ring Of Fire (of Johnny Cash). We can hear a little more of traditional irish elements than on "Burn The Maps" with the use of violins, banjo, etc., but it's never irritating. The band travels greatly between energetic songs and more introspective ones which is making a perfectly organised album. The sound is excellent with the crowd that is only present in a good way to recreate the show atmosphere in our living room. An album to have for every fan of the band and an excellent way to discover them for the others, without forgeting to buy their new record. (March 2005)

Anti- / Epitaph

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

This band from Glasgow, Scotland presents us its first album, an eponymous one containing 11 songs for a total of less than 40 minutes. The band gives us a modern rock sound particularly creative influenced by the alternative music scene of the 80's (The Cure), but also by the 60's-70's (David Bowie, T-Rex). They are often compared to The Strokes, but the Franz Ferdinand sound is a lot less garage and their influences seem a little bit less punk and less from New York. The melodies are always remarquably well done and you won't be able to stop humming some of the songs for days to come. If Take Me Out took your attention since we can hear it almost anywhere, you should appreciate all the album that generally stays in this genre of danceable and very catchy pop/rock. It will surely be a big hit in alternative bars and we will certainly hear about them for many years to come. The Franz Ferdinand album will surely be in the first positions of my 2004 top 20. A great one! (July 2004)

½

Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards - Viking Cover Art

Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards, Viking

Lars Frederiksen is a part of Rancid as guitarist and his work with the Bastards is in fact a side project. "Viking" is the second album of Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards, once again produced by Tim Armstrong who is the singer of Rancid and founder of Hellcat Records. Armstrong also provided the photographs on the album, some of them taken at the end of the Rancid tour in Japan and presenting young japanese girls with a few clothes. He also sang on the track My Life To Live. The record was mixed Brett Gurewitz, a member of Bad Religion and founder of Epitaph Records. All those important collaborations let us expect a great quality album, especially because the first solo record of Frederiksen was acclaimed by the critics in 2001. But, for "Viking", the result is not as impressive. Many songs have a lack of energy, and when there is energy, it’s the melody that is missing. It’s a very common punk sound they offer us without creative and surprising elements. At some points, we have the feeling to listen to a copy of the Dropkick Murphys or The Clash. In fact, the most interesting moments of the album are 2 covers: Marie Marie of The Blasters and For You of The Anti-Nowhere League. Blind Ambition seems to bring a different mood with energy, but it lasts only 20 seconds. It’s the same thing for Gods Of War lasting 55 seconds. We have to wait for the 15th track, just before the last one, to get real satisfaction with Streetwise Professor. "Viking" is most of all an album for the biggest fans of Rancid and Lars Frederiksen that will please very few other people. (April 2005)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

From First To Last, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Bodycount

From First To Last is one of the bands of the new generation we call post-hardcore. But, their comparison with hardcore is not very clear, despite a couple of metal moments. On this first complete record by the band, they give us melodies full of melancholy, sometimes clearly screams from the heart, like on the acoustic song Emily for example where we have the feeling the singer, Sonny Moore, will fall in tears before the end of the song. It's what I disliked the most. Except for that, they offer us a creative and various sounding that can be an interesting hope for the future of their career. I absolutely have to mention the incredible performance of the drummer Derek Bloom that is simply astonishing in some moments. And I don't pay attention very often to drums... (December 2004)

Epitaph

Futureheads - The Futureheads Cover Art

The Futureheads, The Futureheads

Following Franz Ferdinand, here is a new post punk british band offering a creative sound (in fact, they opened shows for Franz Ferdinand in America). The Futureheads is influenced by the 1st wave of british punk rock (The Clash, The Jam) with also a touch of the american new wave of the 80's. Their pop direction make them totally accessible to a large audience, even if a few tracks are easy to remember on the album. It's a CD to listen to totally and not song by song, and you will definitely need a couple of listenings to catch their style that may seem weird at first. When you'll pass through this step, their neverending energy and their short songs of less than 3 minutes will keep your interest and fun for all the 37 minutes of the album, even if a couple of them are less convincing and miss a little depth. The band is able to help us to forget these ones with the cover of Kate Bush Hounds Of Love which will seduce you at the 14th track (on a total of 15). It's once again a good band that England sends us, a band we will have to check out in the years to come and a band that could become among the greatests with a little more maturity. (March 2005 featured new artist)

½

Gabriel & Dresden - Bloom

Gabriel & Dresden, Bloom

With hit remixes for many well known artists like Annie Lennox, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and Britney Spears, Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden could have only present their greatest hits on their first record and everybody would have been conquered. But, they give us a double album of new compositions, new artists inclusions and new remixes, still in the progressive house style. Everything is perfectly mixed for 150 minutes without any pause, except for the transfer from the 1st to the 2nd CD. Like it's the tradition in this musical genre, almost the entire album is instrumental, except for a couple of them. Among the remixes, there is Anything of the violinist Lili Haydn and Don't Leave Home of Dido, a very interesting remix lasting more than 10 minutes. We can also hear the remix by Junkie XL of World On Fire by Sarah McLachlan, another 10 minute remix. Of course, Gabriel & Dresden present essentially a music for clubs and raves we won't hear outside of those places, because it's a lot too underground for mainstream radios and large audiences who prefer shit like O-Zone and pop of bad quality. Here, the true fans of techno and house will have what they want. From the excellent Arcadia at the beginning to the acoustic Imagination by Motorcycle (trio formed by Gabriel, Dresden and JES), you won't hear any sad moments and you won't have any problems getting in the mood for the rave you're waiting for (or to continue the party the morning after). For someone like me who is not a specialist of the genre, it's the uniformity of it that is the most tiring thing, but we pass through it and we like it after a moment. Gabriel & Dresden don't have to be jealous of DJs like Tiësto and deserve all your attention. (November 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Good Charlotte - Chronicles of Life and Death - Death Version Cover Art

Good Charlotte, The Chronicles Of Life And Death

After the big success of "The Young and The Hopeless" issued in 2002, Good Charlotte comes back to us with a concept album, "The Chronicles of Life and Death". The CD is offered in 2 different versions, "Life" and "Death", with the only difference being the bonus track (Falling Away on the "Life" version and Meet My Maker on the "Death" version). The pop punk band from the east coast offers us an album that has no more punk in it except for the appearance of its members. It’s in fact a pop rock album they give us, with a classical intro in the pure style of opera (Carmen style). It’s so pop than the first time I heard I Just Wanna Live on the radio, I had the feeling to listen to a new "boys band" or a new Sugar Ray song. It’s a good song anyway, leading the album (with Predictable) and staying in our minds for a long time. Except for those two, there is nothing particularly impressive on this record, that is easy to listen to, but not more than that. The 60 minutes can seem a little bit too long because there are a couple of unuseful and boring songs, but the strongest tracks are well placed on the disc so it fixes the problem a bit. Some critics talk about their best record in career, maybe because the band goes far beyond than before, but on my part, "The Chronicles of Life and Death" is not really more interesting than the previous one. More than that, the fans can be a little shocked by the evolution of their musical style. Buy it for the hits if you like them, but don’t be too eager about the entire album. (April 2005 featured review)

Green Day - American Idiot

Green Day, American Idiot

After "Warning", released four years ago, which was surprising because of its more acoustic sound than the previous Green Day sound, the band comes back with "American Idiot", another surprising album. Even if the sound brings us closer to the era before "Warning", and despite the title song which is reminding us of the best moments of the excellent "Dookie", this new record is a 57 minute concept album containing even 2 songs of 9 minutes each and in 5 parts each: Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming. Some critics talk about an album between "Tommy" by The Who and the punk opera by Hüsker Dü, "Zen Arcade". Without going that far, I will only say that Green Day continues its evolution in modern punk rock, an evolution some can find weird because of the quickness of it, but that will surely be recognized in a couple of years. Don't forget that Green Day never did a bad album before, even if the audience had sometimes problems to follow them. The punk compositions of Billie Joe Armstrong are once again extremely efficient in addition to be different from many other bands in this genre (the title song, the excellent St. Jimmy, She's A Rebel, etc.), but the band also goes in classic rock and theatrical rock (Queen, Meat Loaf, David Bowie, etc.). The record, extremely rich in textures, will probably please you at the first listening, but will totally conquer you after a few more. It's an album you have to listen to in its entirety, but each song can be listened to separately also and be absolutely great. It's a beautiful album without any weaknesses, very close to perfection and it could become a masterpiece after maturing a bit. To listen to absolutely, but with a kind of an open mind... (November 2004 featured review)

½

Guttermouth - Eat Your Face

Guttermouth, Eat Your Face

After a 15 year career, the most politically incorrect punk band from California, Guttermouth, reminds us what punk rock was at the beginning and what it should still be today: an instrument to denounce our system. On "Eat Your Face", they distribute once again insults to anybody who wants to hear it, on a background of very fast rock n' roll, sometimes even a little bit more hardcore. They make me think in a couple of occasions to Motörhead, without Lemmy's bass. They never released big albums, but this one is maybe one of the bests of their career with "Covered With Ants", released in 2001. But, it's still most of all the lyrics that take our attention (they are all included in the booklet) and they make us smile at different points of the record. For example, you can take note of Ticket To Quebec denouncing the american attitude and telling the americans to go to Quebec if they're not happy in the US. I don't think it's a good idea... It's an entertaining album that will certainly please the band's fans without necessarily adding new fans to their fan club. (October 2004)

Epitaph

The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives

The Hives, Tyrannosaurus Hives

After the mega-hit of "Veni Vidi Vicious", released at first in 2000, but that conquered America in 2002, I was excited about the return of The Hives but I was also worried. When I heard for the first time Walk Idiot Walk, which would become the first single of this new album, I had serious doubts thinking I was listening to an old composition of the band not very interesting. But, listening to the album, I discovered it was one of the worst songs among the 12 offered, even if we appreciate it more and more after a certain time. It was probably the good choice to conquer mainstream radios, but some of the other songs beat this one easily. We only have to think of Abra Cadaver, a quick song of only one minute and a half opening the album and showing you exactly what is the most interesting side of the band. Among my other favourite ones, I have to talk about Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones, No Pun Intended and See Through Head, the most rock n' roll songs of the record. In A Little More For Little You, we hear influences of The Clash, when in Diabolic Scheme, orchestration integration brings a new dimension to the band, even if the result is not so great. Once again, influences of The Stooges and the Stones are numerous and "Tyrannosaurus Hives" is absolutely the logical follower to "Veni Vidi Vicious" with big similarities, but also a great evolution. Despite a couple of songs a little bit less interesting, the total of them are assembling together perfectly and the 30 minutes of the album seem completely insufficient, asking you to start it again, even if it's only to listen to the best tracks. A garage album of a great quality that will surely have its place among my 10 favourite albums of the year. (October 2004 featured review)

The Hives, a.k.a I-D-I-O-T (1998) (re-issue)

After their excellent first album, "Barely Legal", The Hives presented us this EP with an incredible energy carried by the title song that was on the first record. You will also recognize Outsmarted that was on "Veni Vidi Vicious", the breakthrough album released 2 years later in Europe and 4 years later in America. Three other songs complete beautifully the record of less than 11 minutes: Untutored Youth, Fever and Mad Man. This EP, re-issued by Epitaph in 2004, is perfect for someone who would like to discover the early material of The Hives at a low price. (January 2005)

Burning Heart / Epitaph

The Hives, Barely Legal (1997) (re-issue)

Even if "Veni Vidi Vicious", released in 2000, brought The Hives all around the world (as late as in 2002 in a certain number of countries including America), the swedish band released a first energetic album in 1997 entitled "Barely Legal". Burning Heart Records offers us the pleasure to rerelease this album we can now hear on the other side of the Atlantica. It's a short album of 27 minutes and 14 tracks that will give you dizzy spells. Take the crazy energy you know about the band on its 2 latest albums and multiply it by 10 with a punkier sound and you will have a good idea of what is waiting for you on this first record of the band that won't give you any chance to take your breath before the end. Obviously, the arrangements are garage, dirty, without any embellishments. The ones that bought their compilation "Your New Favourite Band", released in 2002 when the band became famous, already know some of the songs on it (aka I-D-I-O-T, Here We Go Again, Automatic Schmuck and Hail Hail Spit N' Drool). The band's fans should acquire this one to better discover where the band started and the punk fans should pay attention to it too. A particularly interesting album! (December 2004)

Burning Heart / Epitaph

½

HorrorPops - Hell Yeah!

HorrorPops, Hell Yeah!

HorrorPops is a super Danish band formed by members of Peanut Pump Gun, Nekromantix and Strawberry Slaughterhouse who met each other at a festival in Germany in 1996. Patricia, the singer and guitarist of Peanut Pump Gun and Kim Nekroman, the singer and double bassist of Nekromantix discovered mutual affection for the music of Blondie, Depeche Mode and Siouxsie and The Banshees. They taught each other to play the other's instrument and they started writing songs without any particular style. The result is a first complete album including some ska, punk, surf, psychobilly and rock n' roll. We can make comparisons with the bands named before, but also with Reverend Horton Heat, Billy Idol, No Doubt, The B-52's, The Misfits and even The Ramones. "Hell Yeah" is an extremely energetic album that will obviously please any fan of music with good rhythms and good old school rock n' roll. It seems that they are very impressing live, so don't miss them if they give a show in your area. Before that, jump on this unique record! (July 2004)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Hot Water Music, The New What Next

Hot Water Music is a post-hardcore band from Florida formed 10 years ago and presenting us here its 6th album (the 3rd on Epitaph Records). Even if many critics talk about their best album to date, I unfortunately think that we don't remind a lot of it, despite many careful listenings. Yet, everything is there to launch the band to the front page: a great production by Brian McTernan, a rock sound very catchy with great pop hooks to please a large audience, a beautiful booklet, etc. But, there is not the little thing, the hit that would bring all eyes on them. In the middle of Fugazi and the Goo Goo Dolls, Hot Water Music doesn't have anything of an amateur band and their fans will probably be seduced by the record, unless they don't like the pop and catchy sound of the new songs. In my case, not only I took a lot of time to decide to write about it, but it's certainly not an album I'll listen to very often in the future, others having a lot more captured my attention. (January 2005)

Epitaph

Griffin House - Lost & Found

Griffin House, Lost & Found

Griffin House is a young songwriter born in Ohio but now living in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to his physique which is a copy of Bono, he has almost the same voice sometimes. But musically, he's closer to Bob Dylan and Neil Young with folk rock songs essentially acoustic. "Lost And Found" is already his 2nd album despite his young age and, for a 24 year old guy only, he writes very introspective and mature songs. The album is very well produced and arrangements, staying simple, are absolutely magnificent. Even if there is nothing completely incredible on "Lost And Found", fans of acoustic folk music and of tortured lyrics should appreciate well. (October 2004)

Nettwerk

The Killers - Hot Fuss

The Killers, Hot Fuss

The summer of 2004, brought us a new pop rock american band with a great talent. It's the quartet from Las Vegas The Killers that was able to conquer the world with the inevitable Somebody Told Me. For the ones thinking that this song is too pop, I should say them to pay attention carefully to the album anyway because it's very different. The band, that is strongly influenced by the 80's (Duran Duran, The Cure, U2, Television), presents us songs with great hooks particularly intelligent and creative. We can compare them to Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture, The Stills and Muse. I also had the feeling to listen to the Cranberries at the beginning of All These Things That I've Done. So, it's a polyvalent band taking its inspiration to many places to create a unique sound that can be weird in the first place (especially if you only know Somebody Told Me), but will please you quickly after a few listenings. You will become completely addict to this record because of great songs like Jenny Was a Friend Of Mine, Mr. Brightside and Andy, You're a Star. It's one of the best releases of the summer and it will certainly be a part of the first positions on my 2004 top 20. A new band promising a lot for the future! (September 2004)

The Lashes - The Stupid Stupid EP

The Lashes, The Stupid Stupid EP

The Lashes is a new band from Seattle which is offering us here an EP to make us wait until their first real complete album is released. The EP with 4 tracks and of less than 13 minutes gives us a rock sound with great pop possibilities because of excellent melodies. Their influences are in part in punk, but especially in 80's rock and new wave. The 6 guys present it with 2 guitars well in front and some keyboards which is reminding us of The Cars. So, they walk in the footprints of bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Killers and they are to check out with attention in the years to come. Waiting for a complete album of the band, you can buy this EP at low price and you won't be disappointed because it will play non-stop in your CD player. (August 2004)

Lookout!

Liars Academy - Demons

Liars Academy, Demons

Liars Academy is an indie rock band from Baltimore, Maryland which is far from being new to the underground scene. In fact, the band was formed a few years ago and released its first album in 2001 entitled "No News Is Good News", followed by an EP in 2002 entitled "Trading My Life". This new record, produced by J. Robbins (who worked with Jawbox and Jets To Brazil among others), offers us a mature rock sound with extremely great hooks. As soon as at the first song, Microtron, we question ourselves why we never heard this band anywhere before. But, don't worry, the day we will hear them everywhere will surely come. We can hear influences of The Strokes, but with a sound less garage. In some moments, the band reminded me of Division Of Laura Lee. The warm and powerful voice of Ryan Shelkett (who also plays guitar) is not so far from Robert Smith's of The Cure, a band we can also compare Liars Academy to in some occasions, even if their influences are mostly from the New York area. They also have influences of classic rock well spread in their sound. Finally, "Demons" is a brilliant record that should be pleasant to fans of good pop rock and, even if they won't revolutionize the genre, it can easily represent the way for the band to a big future success. Good luck! (October 2004)

Equal Vision

½

Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart

Courtney Love, America's Sweetheart

Here is the eagerly awaited first solo album by Courtney Love. She worked on that album for a long time, but she had many problems to finish it because of all her drug problems and her legendary problems with the law. For this first record without her band Hole, she asked Linda Perry (ex-4 Non Blondes) to work with her on the writing of the songs. We can also see the presence of Bernie Taupin (writer for Elton John) who co-wrote Uncool with Love and Perry, and it's certainly the most introspective song of the album with Never Gonna Be The Same which is ending the CD. Courtney put her touch in every song of the album anyway, which is making it a not so different sound from what she did in the past with Hole. Always the same guitars with distortion with the screaming voice (often unpleasant) of Courtney who spits literally her lyrics to our face. In fact, "America's Sweetheart" could have easily been a new Hole album. It's an energetic and entertaining album, that won't transform the face of rock music, but will satisfy all the fans of dirty rock n' roll that have problems to satisfy themselves since a couple of years with too much clean or simply annoying bands. It's a must anyway for every Hole and Courtney Love fan. But, the ones who always had difficulties with her style and her voice should simply buy something else. (May 2004 featured review)

Made Of Koncentrate, Made Of Koncentrate

Here is a new band from Quebec City. They give us a ska full of energy that takes our attention as soon as the first song begins, Freak Inc. Society. Added to the ska/punk influences, we can guess of a big metal influence at some moments of the album, especially with the voice. The singer (Boud) pitches us his lyrics in some occasions the same way a hardcore metal band would do it and it's probably the heavier side of Made Of Koncentrate. At the opposite, their ska, generally accompanied by a brass section, is easy to listen and we can compare them in a great way to Venus 3 (another ska band from Quebec City), with the exception of the voice. The band's energy, we can hear on the album, is certainly impressing on stage and if you're from the Quebec City region, you should check out their shows to come. You will be able to hear Beauport Beach, the excellent Droogskin (one of my favourites that is very good to let off steam), without forgeting Prophylactics. There are 9 titles (+ 2 different versions in hidden tracks) on this first eponymous album of 33 minutes, that seems so short when you're listening to it. Finally, the arrangements are well done for an independant album. So, it's a very good first record by a band to check out in the years to come, who has unfortunately to work very hard in the small Quebec market so reluctant to good rock in english. (March 2004)

New Horizon

½

The Matches - E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals

The Matches, E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals

The Matches is a pop punk quartet from Oakland, California presenting us its first album. Following bands like Blink 182 and Sum 41, the band offers us a sound with great hooks that could reach the top of the charts without any problems. We can hear in fact influences of Blink 182 in The Jack Slap Cheer, one of the best songs of the CD with Sick Little Suicide. On Chain Me Free, we can think of Simple Plan, when with Borderline Creep, it's Rancid that comes to our minds. The most negative point about the record is that very few songs come out of it and after many listenings, it's difficult to get hooked by "E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals". We can hear the big potential of the band, but it will probably be necessary to wait for their next album to really have a breakthrough. Anyway, it's a good first record by a band you will have to check out in the years to come. (September 2004)

Epitaph

Sarah McLachlan, Live Acoustic EP

After the great success of the "Afterglow" album released in 2003, they decided to release an EP of Sarah McLachlan recorded live in an acoustic version. We find obviously 2 songs from her most recent album (the hit Fallen and Answer), but also some of her classics (Building a Mystery, Adia and Angel). So, we can find 5 tracks for a little total of 20 minutes, but it's certainly the best of Sarah McLachlan we can hear because she shows us her great voice and the quality of her compositions, without any over production. It's a great gift for her fans, but if you don't know her well, it would be better to buy "Afterglow" or any of her previous records. (July 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Tom McRae - Just Like Blood

Tom McRae, Just Like Blood

Tom McRae is a british songwriter offering us his 2nd album. Playing in an adult rock and folk way, he is often compared to Bob Dylan, but we can also do a parallel with Rufus Wainwright, Elliott Smith, Ron Sexsmith and Leonard Cohen. "Just Like Blood" starts in a strong way with the excellent A Day Like Today in which we can hear a great musical richness with the addition of xylophone. You Only Disappear also continues in a good way, before the interest decreases a lot. His songs, totally based on the lyrics, become annoying after a moment, because he always presents it with common melodies and a boring voice. It's true that I'm not a big fan of songs based on lyrics, but other ones like Wainwright and Smith are able to catch our attention and keep it all along the album. The so beautiful mood created on the first song won't reappear after, unfortunately. There is a bit of a rebirth at the 7th and 8th tracks (Mermaid Blues and Karaoke Soul, this one containing well done orchestration) but this time, the lyrics are the problem. At least, the bonus at number 12, Walking 2 Hawaii, recorded live in a radio show and including violin, ends this on a good note, even if it's as smooth as most of the record. All the same, it's a songwriter album extremely well produced and that should catch the attention of the fans of the genre. But if you want to discover Tom McRae, I thing his first album (an eponymous one) should be a better choice, because it has the advantage to present the freshness and creativity of the first record. (November 2004)

Nettwerk

½

David Mead - Indiana

David Mead, Indiana

David Mead was born in New York City, but grew up in Nashville. With "Indiana", he gives us his third album, once again an album very introspective. His acoustic pop rock sound very adult includes elements of contemporary folk. We can compare him to Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney and Rufus Wainwright. So, it's most of all poetry in music that gives us David Mead on a musical background often containing a great richness. Being not a great fan of poetry at first, the Mead universe was not interesting me very much at the beginning, but listening carefully to it, a couple of melodies hooked me like Rufus Wainwright did before for example. For the ones who prefer lyrics to music, you will be completely pleased with David Mead which is interpretating them in a great way. A relaxing album, to avoid when you drive your car, but that you will appreciate at home in front of the fireplace. (August 2004)

Nettwerk

Nekromantix - Dead Girls Don't Cry

Nekromantix, Dead Girls Don't Cry

Nekromantix is a Danish trio directed by the singer and double bass player Kim Nekroman. Even if the band was formed 15 years ago, it's still not well known from a large audience. The trio gives us a rockabilly music which would have made some "coke" that we call "psychobilly". So it's a heavier and faster version of rockabilly, that has not much to do with Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats. As soon as at the intro, Black Wedding, we have a doubt that it will be dark and heavy, and we have quickly the proof of it with punk rock influences, but also heavy metal ones in some moments. The title song is probably one of the most melodic songs of the album, album that should please people who prefer something different. The most important point of "Dead Girls Don't Cry" is that there is about no weakness and the 13 songs are listenable entirely until the end without any particular effort. This 6th studio album by Nekromantix is definitely the best of the band's career, and even if it won't climb the charts, it should give them many new fans and give the genre new fans too. Take note that Kim Nekroman participated as a guitarist with the band Horrorpops to the album "Hell Yeah" also released this year. (June 2004)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

NOFX, The Greatest Songs Ever Written (By Us)

NOFX started in Berkeley, California in 1983, and even if the band never had a real commercial success, a compilation became necessary to celebrate their 20 year career. The band was able to get a little recognition in the 90's when their friends of Bad Religion and The Offspring jumped into the punk revival wave to become known by a larger audience. But here stops the fame. We find on "The Greatest Songs Ever Written (By Us)" 26 of their best songs in career, even if most of them are only known by their fans. All written by the singer and bassist Fat Mike, you should recognize a couple of classics anyway like Bob, Bottles To The Ground, Party Enema, Don't Call Me White and It's My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite. Unfortunately, there is no chronological order on the album, despite the 21 years of the band detailed year by year in the booklet, a booklet that is maybe not offering any biography of the band, but presents anyway a good summary of their career. The 27th track of the record is a never released song entitled Wore Out The Soles Of My Party Boots. Even if NOFX didn't do many great albums through the years, the punk rock band, which is sometimes offering us ska, remains very important for the California punk scene, being a band of the first generation. So, it's an excellent way to discover them. (January 2005)

Epitaph

Old Crow Medicine Show - O.C.M.S.

Old Crow Medicine Show, O.C.M.S.

Old Crow Medicine Show is an American band playing only acoustic instruments that gives us a folk music with inspirations of country, blues and rockabilly. We can hear influences of Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and Willie Nelson in the sound of the band. On this first eponymous album, we can find some traditional songs revisited by the band (Tell It To Me, Poor Man, Tear It Down, Hard To Love and CC Rider), a cover of Bob Dylan rearranged with additional lyrics (Wagon Wheel), and also original songs of the band. The quintet gives us everything with a remarquable energy. Fans of traditional music who don't have many new bands to listen to these years will love it. For the ones that don't particularly appreciate this genre (like it's my case), you will probably won't be attracted to this album that doesn't offer anything very new, except for the quality of recording new artists can have and older didn't have before. It's completely a question of music preferences here. (July 2004)

Nettwerk

Panurge - Throw Down The Reins

Panurge, Throw Down The Reins

Here is the first album from a Vancouver band presenting us a weird mix of styles. The trio gives us a pop music in the 60's way, with elements of folk and funk, and with a bit of electronica. So, it's the perfect mix between the music of 40 years ago and modern music. A comparison we can easily make is Beck which is certainly a big influence for Panurge. After this comparison is made, it's very difficult to find another one. It's in fact an original and creative album that will entertain you for sure. The only thing I don't like about it is that we don't remind anything of the album when it's done. No song gets out of it and, even if it's essentially a pop album, a few tracks have what it needs to become great hits on the radio. It's a good album anyway that should be interesting to Beck fans, unless they think it's a copy of their favorite singer... (June 2004)

Nettwerk

Po' Girl, Vagabond Lullabies

Following the temporary (?) split-up of The Be Good Tanyas in 2003, the canadian Trish Klein decided to form the duo Po' Girl with Allison Russell. After a first eponymous album in the summer of 2003, they were joined later by Diona Davies with who they recorded "Vagabond Lullabies". Easy to compare to The Be Good Tanyas, Po' Girl offers us a mix of modern folk and country with elements of blues and jazz. Their sound is essentially acoustic and it includes different instruments giving an excellent musical richness to the ensemble. On "Vagabond Lullabies", in addition to acoustic guitar, we can hear banjo, harmonica, clarinet, Hammond organ, piano, slide guitar, etc. With their soft sound and their great compositions, the girls will certainly impress many fans of the genre, because it's an album full of beautiful artistic qualities, even if it would be weaker than their previous album according to the experts. Except for a few weaknesses and the uniformity of it that can be disappointing on the first listenings, Po' Girl gives us a good album with incredible arrangements and harmonies. To the fans of contemporary folk and the fans of The Be Good Tanyas: you need this album! (December 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Pulley - Matters

Pulley, Matters

Pulley is a punk rock band of Southern California giving us its 5th album with "Matters". Having not heard the previous recordings of the band, I can't make comparisons, but the specialists talk about maybe their best record to date. On my part, I can tell you I like it better and better when I listen to it again. With the 2 first songs (A Bad Reputation and Blindfold), we could think we listen fo a new pop/punk band like Blink 182. But, when we go forward on the album, it's easier to compare them to Bad Religion and they are particularly energetic. Voice harmonies, leaded by the singer Scott Radinsky (which was a baseball pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers), are specially well done and Matt Hyde's producing (Slayer, No Doubt, Fu Manchu) is totally great (we're very far from the garage sound we here everywhere since a couple of years. The sounding reminds me of other californian bands like Lit, but I prefer by far the Pulley compositions. A good album of californian punk that should be appreciated by the fans of that genre. (October 2004)

Epitaph

½

The Reputation - To Force A Fate

The Reputation, To Force A Fate

The Reputation is an indie rock band from Chicago which is releasing the 2nd album of its career, the 1st on Lookout Records. They have a rock alternative sound with an unavoidable pop side, especially because of the beautiful voice of Elizabeth Elmore. Their commercial potential is huge and if the Rolling Stone Magazine talked about them as a band to take a look at, I can tell you that with "To Force a Fate", success is guaranteed. They produced the album themselves, but it was mixed by Mike Hagler who worked with artists like Billy Bragg, Wilco and The New Pornographers. The result is extremely convincing! For the game of comparisons, I have many problems to do some because their music is totally new and personal. The press release mentionned names like The Sundays, Squeeze and Ben Folds. Maybe, but I have to add some elements of Belle and Sebastian, Sarah McLachlan and The Pixies. In fact, they can only be compared to The Reputation. They integrate american and british rock and bring a refreshing sound more than interesting. Even if 2004 just began, it's the best album I heard this year. Definitely a band to check out attentively! (May 2004)

Lookout!

½

Simple Plan, Still Not Getting Any... (CD + DVD)

After a first album sold at millions of units all around the world, "No Pads, No Helmets... Just Balls", the pop/punk quintet from Montreal Simple Plan had a huge challenge with its second album. The guys decided to ask for the help of Bob Rock to produce it probably thinking they would give credibility to themselves. But, after having listened to many records produced by Rock in the past that lost their soul with an unuseful overproduction, my fears were huge before listening to "Still Not Getting Any...". But, despite a few ballads completely uninteresting that will certainly please the pre-teen girls, we still can hear their energy of the beginning added to a 2 year touring experience around the world. For sure, we still talk about pop and catchy rock songs that have nothing in common with punk anymore, but in this genre, they are better than many California bands since a couple of years, bands that created the genre. It's evident that we don't find anymore the freshness they had on their first record and that some ballads are really annoying, which brings this record under the quality of the first one, but we can find anyway some really good songs on it that will be appreciated by teens in your environment (and some will probably be played in many teen movies in the next 2 years). Don't pay too much attention to the first single, Welcome To My Life, which is one of the least interesting songs of the record. A DVD is offered in bonus and it's a 2-face disc with the CD on one side and the DVD on the other side, for the first time in Canada, but probably a standard in a near future. Another version is also available with 2 different discs for the CD and the DVD, and we can find for a limited time 2 different covers, so make the best choice for you... (December 2004 featured review)

½

Slipknot - Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)

Slipknot, Vol.3: (Subliminal Verses)

After the excellent eponymous album of Slipknot in 1999 (that was in fact their second one), the band impressed us once again in 2001 with "Iowa", an album not so far from the famous "Toxicity" of System of a Down at the top of heavy metal. Three years later, the waits became very big for the new record of this group from Des Moines, Iowa and the result is once again very impressing. "Vol.3: (Subliminal Verses)" has even chances to be the only one at the top of metal in 2004. These weird guys, always wearing homemade Halloween masks and industrial jump suits when they're on stage, have a great creative energy. We heard many hardcore metal bands in the past and it's easy to fall in something common trying to be the most agressive band possible using sounds heard too many times in the last 25 years. So, to be able to keep their creativity staying as agressive as they are is an exploit. Because there is still a lot of agressivity on this new record. The rhythm section will give a good test to your speakers that can be jumping around in your living room if you turn on the volume a little bit too much. And I don't even talk about your neighbors that will hate you from the day you will buy this album. Despite all the dynamic tracks, we can hear a ballad at the 6th with Circle and another one at the 11th track with the second part of Vermilion, ballads reminding me a little bit too much of the bad turn that took Incubus a few years ago when the band was one of the best among the new bands of metal before falling down creatively (for the sales it's another thing). In my opinion, "ballads" and "heavy metal" can't go together and I still don't understand why bands continue to break a metal album this way. Who has the desire to listen to some acoustic ballads and thinks to place a Slipknot album in his CD player? It's ok as an intro or as a conclusion, but if they have that desire to play acoustic ballads, why don't they start a side project and record 12 of them for an album classified in the folk category. Until then, I don't think there are many Slipknot fans very pleased about those inclusions, but we can forgive them those two mistakes. Those dull ballads are only useful to take a break before the energetic followers and you will be happy to take a good breath of fresh air. Even if the first single from the album, Duality, is an excellent one (and certainly the most catchy song of the record), other ones will catch your interest too (The Blister Exists, Three Nil, Pulse of the Maggots and the very pop Before I Forget). Slipknot will remind you of System of a Down for sure, but also the good years of Incubus and you will think about classics of hardcore metal like Slayer and some elements of Metallica. The 14 song record with a total of 60 minutes should catch your attention, because it's a great album that should be a part of my 2004 top 20. (September 2004 featured review)

Elliott Smith - From a Basement On The Hill

Elliott Smith, From A Basement On The Hill

Elliott Smith killed himself on October 21st, 2003 when he was working on the recording of this album for many years, his previous one being released in 2000. It's a record that seems to have been particularly tough to do if we pay attention to the number of producers who worked on it but very few of their work was kept for the final product, being rejected by Smith. David McConnell seems to be the one who has recorded the most songs on the album, when he was sure he was working on the next Beatles' "White Album". After Smith's suicide, it's his family and friends that worked to finish the record and release it. "From A Basement On The Hill", his 6th album, would be well different from what Smith and McConnell expected, according to what McConnell says about the fact that Smith wanted a raw and dirty sound. Instead, we can hear clean and well produced arrangements, staying light and nostalgic, an excellent choice in my opinion. The soft and sad voice of Smith, offering us dark lyrics almost announcing his suicide, presents us anyway many happy songs with good melodies reminding us of the good years of the Beatles. Known as a folk punk singer, he gives us a more folk pop side on this posthumous album, an influence that is still directly took from the 60's. The 58 minutes of the CD, divided on 15 titles, can be enjoyed slowly and is more and more delightful after a couple of listenings. Knowing none of his previous records, I can not make any comparisons. But, if it's not the best record of his career, bring me the other ones quickly... (November 2004)

Anti- / Epitaph

The Snake The Cross The Crown, Mander Salis

The Snake The Cross The Crown is a young band originally from Alabama, but now residing in Santa Barbara, California. When reading "young band" and "California" you probably think of a new pop punk band like there are too much, but it's not the case. It's an extremely mature band offering us a rock introspective music well arranged and very creative. Their atmospheric side reminds us of british bands like Radiohead, Coldplay and Travis. We can also take note of similarities with the americans of Guided By Voices and they also have sometimes a folk side on acoustic songs (A Brief Intermission, etc.). "Mander Salis" is a record we love the very first time we listen to it, but an album that hooks us totally after a couple of listenings, which is making us completely addict to it. The album is well balanced, varied, doesn't contain any weakness and you can listen to it in many different moods. I hope they will be able to receive a good promotional support to bring them to a large audience and be sure many people can discover them in the next months, because on my part, it's one of the greatest discoveries I made this year so far. Definitely a name to remember! (September 2004)

Equal Vision

½

Gwen Stefani, Love.Angel.Music.Baby.

After the success she had with the band No Doubt, being able to make a name for herself at the same time, Gwen Stefani decided to present a solo album. "Love.Angel.Music.Baby." has very few elements from No Doubt except for the rock side of a couple of tracks like Danger Zone and the first single What You Waiting For?, a particularly energetic song which was already remixed by many DJs. For the rest, the pretty blonde girl gives us very modern pop and R&B music. In some moments, we can compare her to Beyonce Knowles, Eve and to a better version of Britney Spears. We can also hear her influences of Madonna which seems to have been very important for Gwen (like on Serious for example). Sometimes she uses electronica in a great way, like on Bubble Pop Electric and Long Way To Go. The second single, Rich Girl, is particularly well done. Many big names worked on this album like Dr. Dre, The Neptunes, Linda Perry (ex-Four Non Blondes and a contributor to the Courtney Love solo album), Andre 3000 (of Outkast), her ex-boyfriend and colleague in No Doubt Tony Kanal, etc. On this first record, Gwen Stefani looks in different directions of pop music, searches that won't probably please the No Doubt fans and the anti-pop people. Otherwise, she takes an important place in the genre, for the radios as well as the clubs, even if there are a few weaker songs. It's a pop album, ok. But it's maybe the best pop album of 2004. A must for the fans of this genre and a very entertaining record! (February 2005 featured review)

½

Sum 41, Chuck

"Chuck" is the 4th album of the Canadian punk band Sum 41. The band, that always liked to use metal elements in its music, goes far beyond with many metal songs. There are also ballads, but there is less punk than ever in their music. It's easier now to compare them to Linkin Park (without hip hop) and to the hardest side of Hoobastank than to their Canadian colleagues of Simple Plan, except maybe for Some Say. In fact, they were able to build their own sounding. On the first single We're All To Blame we can hear a guitar sound we can compare to thrash metal of the early 90's, and the band goes quickly from a mood to the other. For The Bitter End, it reminds us of the good years of Anthrax. Open Your Eyes is one of the only punk songs reminding us of their debut. What is always pleasant with Sum 41 is their hability to use all those sounds from the past to build their own style, and to stay energetic and efficient. Once again, they give us a short album that will probably please their fans, even if it can bring some doubts to a larger audience. A good album. (February 2005)

½

Tiësto, Parade Of The Athletes

If you saw the opening of the Olympic Games in Athena this summer, you saw for the first time a DJ play the music for the athletes entrance. It was the Netherland DJ known all around the world Tiësto, maybe the best DJ in the world today. His job was to offer some of his own compositions inspired by the Olympic Games and, except for a couple of his classics and the famous Adagio For Strings from Samuel Barber (which is a great link between ancient and modern games), we heard only new compositions of him fitting perfectly with the Games' atmosphere. It's the studio version of those that is offered here and the 12 tracks are all beautifully mixed, like he always does, for a total of 72 minutes. It's obviously very dancing, perfect for night clubs, but we also catch very well the atmosphere of the modern Olympic Games. With titles like Heroes, Ancient History, Athena, Olympic Flame and Victorious, and the title of the album, "Parade Of The Athletes", it's difficult to forget the circumstances in which the album was composed. But, on a dance floor, you should be able to forget it. There is also a remix by DJ Montana of Breda 8pm, previously released in 2001 on the album "In My Memory" by Tiësto, and it's a great result, one of my favourite ones. It's certainly one of the best techno albums of the year and one of the best Tiësto albums I had the opportunity to hear, with a good guide line and good various moods. On the contrary, will it be still interesting in a couple of years when the Olympic Games will be far in our memories? (December 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Tiger Army - III: Ghost Tigers Rise

Tiger Army, III: Ghost Tigers Rise

These South Californians present their 3rd record, offering us once again their energetic psychobilly. This accelerated and heavier version of the rockabilly is played by Tiger Army in a way reminding us of Reverend Horton Heat with who they gave some shows in fact in the past. We can obviously make a parallel with the Danish bands Nekromantix and HorrorPops. The most important difference they have is the excellence of the Tiger Army songs with catchy melodies that could be played in any radio with a little bit of guts (Wander Alone among others). Moreover, the singer Nick 13 enjoys great vocal capabilities. So, the Tiger Army sound is more and more far from punk music, which can bring them to a larger audience, wanting new rock sounds. I didn't listen to their 2 previous records, but many experts talk about their best until now with this third one. If you like the genre or if you are relatively open-minded in rock music, you will certainly be interested by this new Tiger Army album. (August 2004)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (CD + DVD)

After the extremely great return of U2 four years ago with the excellent "All That You Can't Leave Behind", the best album of the year 2000, the band had a lot to do on "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" to convince us that they are still the biggest rock band in the world. But, it's done! When on the previous record they offered us a sound closer to their 80's style, the guys continue in the same direction and seem to have forgotten their techno experiments of the 90's. I was not sure when I heard Vertigo for the first time on the radio, despite a rock sound I usually like. And the first listenings of the album disappointed me a bit. It's because we do easily a link to their albums of the 80's ("War", "The Unforgettable Fire", "The Joshua Tree") with the same type of compositions and arrangements and the return of Steve Lillywhite as producer, a guy who worked with the band at the beginning of the 80's. So, we can feel a little conservative vibe more oriented in the past than in the future, which is something the band always avoided before. But, here stops the negativity because, without making us forget "All That You Can't Leave Behind", this new U2 record is particularly well done and you have to listen to it in one shot. Efficient melodies, good rock compositions and beautiful arrangements are once again present on this 11th studio album by U2 in 25 years on disc. Even if when you'll listen to it for the first time you will think it's all the same song after song, you will love each of them after a couple of listenings and won't find any weaknesses. There is only a hit that is missing to equal their previous record and on the contrary of many other artists, the band will go on tour with a great album to promote for its 25 years anniversary tour, rather than presenting only their old stuff. Three versions of the album are available: CD, CD + DVD et CD + DVD + book. I suggest you strongly to pay 1 or 2$ more for the version with DVD (it's a lot more for the one with the book), because you will see particularly interesting bonuses: a 20 minute documentary where we discover the creation of 3 songs of the album including the excellent Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own (a future hit) and 5 videos (2 versions of Sometimes..., Crumbs From Your Table and 2 versions of Vertigo). (January 2005 main review)

US Roughnecks - Twenty Bucks and Two Black Eyes

US Roughnecks, Twenty Bucks and Two Black Eyes

US Roughnecks is maybe the last real American band to offer us good old hardcore punk. They give us here their first album, "Twenty Bucks and Two Black Eyes", an album without any compromises and extremely energetic. The themes exploited are most of all about the problems the singer and leader Mike Hennessey had in his youth. He screams it with his guttural voice, which is probably the most negative point of the album. In some occasions, we have the feeling to hear a "death metal" singer, which is not fitting very well with the music, especially in the pure rock n' roll songs (Saturday, Short Haired Rock n' Roll, etc.). When we get through with this point, the record is not so bad and it should be appreciated by the ones who miss the Dead Kennedys or the good years of the Misfits, and by the ones who think that punk rock music has become too much pop these days. (August 2004)

Hellcat / Epitaph

Vaux, Plague Music

Formed in 1997 under the name of Eiffel, the band from Denver, Colorado had to change its name to Vaux in 2000 for legal issues. They give us a mix of punk and metal inspired by the grunge of the early 90's. In fact, we find elements of the punkier side of Nirvana, Helmet and Faith No More. "Plague Music" is a 5 track EP lasting 16 minutes and a half. It will give you the opportunity to discover the band and its particular and various sound, which will maybe give you the wish to buy their previous record, "There Must Be Some Way To Stop Them", and to wait desperately for the ones to come. Personally, I was not completely impressed, even if I liked their interesting sounding. A complete album would certainly give me a better opinion about their music. The fans of heavy and energetic music will have their hears pleased. (December 2004)

Equal Vision

The Vines - Winning Days

The Vines, Winning Days

It's now the time for a 2nd album for the australian quartet The Vines which received a lot of success with its first one, "Highly Evolved", and particularly because of the mega hit Get Free. Personnally, I was not as impressed as other critics by that first album, because I thought it was not constant. But be careful: it's in my 2002 top 20 anyway! With "Winning Days", evocative title of their lightning starting career, they present us again the same elements than on the previous one. The album of less than 40 minutes can therefore seem a little bit of a repeat in some moments, and it's probably what justifies the less good reviews in general. The melodies are still hooking like we can have a foretaste with the first single Ride, but also with Animal Machine and the excellent TV Pro. The main problem with Ride, even if it's very good, it's that they sold it too quickly to Apple for a TV ad, which is making us feel sick a lot too early about it. Once again, I don't agree on the presence of too much ballads in the Radiohead style, but without many good results (Autumn Shade II, Amnesia and the title song). And, in the rockier songs, it's to Nirvana it's too easy to make a link to like on Animal Machine and She's Got Something To Say To Me. Finally, it's not an album with the best originality and that will transform contemporary rock, but it's a good album anyway, easy to listen to and a good entertainment. (June 2004 featured review)

½

Wainwright, Rufus - Want Two Cover Art

Rufus Wainwright, Want Two

Here is the follower to "Want One", the excellent album issued by Rufus Wainwright in 2003. It’s the logical second part of the previous one, but it also goes far beyond using more classical and introspective elements. There are still pop songs in the usual Wainwright style (The One You Love, Crumb By Crumb, etc.), but you will find a guy looking deep in his soul and his emotions on poignant serenades, sometimes boring (Peach Trees, The Art Teacher, etc.). The album overture, Agnus Dei, is totally neverending which is making us nervous for the rest of the disc. Where "Want One" conquered me completely, "Want Two" disappointed me, forcing me to end some of the tracks abruptely. I think Wainwright starts to consider himself too important, which can be worrying for the future. We can talk anyway about a good album and some even talk about a better one than the previous one, which is certainly varying on your preferences. His fans will certainly find enough positive points to continue to follow him without asking any questions. And, Wainwright stays above the average of the artists of the moment with a great creativity and so much talent. But, he will have to make adjustments at his next record to keep the audience’s interest, an audience that is not necessarily fan of classical music. (April 2005)

½

Waits, Tom - Real Gone Cover Art

Tom Waits, Real Gone

We can say that in the last 30 years, one of the artists to stay the most himself is Tom Waits. He never tried to follow any musical movement and always gave us very creative music. On "Real Gone", he goes far ahead in his own universe offering us an album coming back to the base of music without any overproduction. Even the keyboards completely disappeared and there is only the use of turntables at a couple of times to remind us we are in the 21st century. Sometimes blues, sometimes folk, sometimes country, but always well dirty, "Real Gone" could have been recorded 40 or 50 years ago by an old bluesman of south US, or by Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash. At the beginning of the record, with Top Of The Hill, I wasn't so sure I would like it, but it's a lot convincing after that with the excellent Hoist That Rag and the 10 minute plus Sins Of My Father. After that, there are a couple of weaker songs, but they won't break the quality of the total package of 72 minutes. We can hear latin and african rhythms, no drum, no piano, a romantic ballad (Dead And Lovely) and a political song (Day After Tomorrow), almost everything at the end... Take note of the presence of the bassist Les Claypool (ex-Primus) on 3 tracks of the record. Without being one of the best Tom Waits albums, it's a good one anyway and it should please his biggest fans and also the fans of creative and different music without overproduction. (March 2005)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Wilson, Brian - Smile CD

Brian Wilson, Smile

"Smile" is an album that was not finished by the Beach Boys in 1967, an album that was supposed to be an answer to the fabulous "Sgt Pepper..." by the Beatles (itself an answer to the masterpiece by the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"). 37 years later, the brain behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, decided to completely re-record this album, to complete it and release it. The result is a concept album in 3 parts reminding us of the 2 albums mentioned earlier, but that is certainly one of the greatests in Wilson's career. It's a refreshing album in the pure Beach Boys tradition, an album to listen to entirely that won't need you to skip some of the 47 minutes. Obviously, Wilson doesn't have his voice of 40 years ago and the harmonies presented here are not by the Beach Boys, but you will hear a couple of songs made famous by the Beach Boys like Good Vibrations and Heroes And Villains. Despite a couple of songs less impressive, "Smile" is definitely an extremely well worked album that won't only please the fans of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, but also fans of pop music with great artistic qualities. An album I add with great pleasure to my 2004 top 20! (May 2005)

Compilations:

 

   

Chillout 05: The Ultimate Chillout

Chillout 05: The Ultimate Chillout

Here is the 5th edition of the Nettwerk compilation "Chillout". Once again, we can hear some of the best electronic, atmospheric and lounge songs mixed together in a great way to make a particular mood on your dinners with friends or your calm partys. This newest edition is particularly good with big names. It begins with the excellent Do You Realize? by the Flaming Lips, followed by a remix of World On Fire of Sarah McLachlan. Radiohead's No Surprises brings us a great surprise with this classic from the album "Ok Computer", the best album of the band. We can also hear great songs by Starsailor (a very good dance remix of Four To The Floor), Delerium (Serenity), The Cinematic Orchestra (the hit All That You Give) and Goldfrapp (Deep Honey). Finally, you have to take note of the presence of Wax Poetic with Norah Jones on a Thievery Corporation remix of Angels, and Tiësto with Kirsty Hawkshaw on a Carmen Rizzo remix of Just Be. All that good stuff is ending greatly with Bonobo on the excellent jazzy track Pick Up. With this 12 track compilation for a total of almost 60 minutes, you will definitely have a lot for your money. Even if I liked very much the previous editions of "Chillout", this one is by far my favourite one! (August 2004)

Nettwerk

½

The Dreamers

The Dreamers (Original Soundtrack)

The main problem with original movie sountracks is often that the songs and the artists presented don't fit very well together and it goes in all directions. It's once again a little bit the case with the original soundtrack of "The Dreamers" of Bernardo Bertolucci. We can find a mix of american songs of the hippie era of the late 60's (Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, etc.) and old french songs of the early 60's (Françoise Hardy and Edith Piaf) even from the 40's (La mer by Charles Trenet). Don't make a mistake about it: there are great classics offered here, which is already better than for a lot of other original soundtracks that present most of all new artists with a poor future. But, the different directions make this product less interesting and I suggest it most of all to the fans of the movie. (May 2004)

Nettwerk

Give 'Em The Boot Vol. 4

"Give 'Em The Boot Vol.4" is the 4th edition of this compilation of Hellcat Records distributed by Epitaph. The record company presents us artists essentially punk, between reggae and psychobilly and including a more standard punk rock. We can hear Rancid opening and carrying this compilation of 26 artists including also Tiger Army, Nekromantix and Horrorpops (in psychobilly), The Aggrolites, Chris Murray and Slackers (in reggae), Roger Miret & The Disasters, US Roughnecks, Dropkick Murphys, Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards and Transplants (in punk), without neglecting Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros (in a live version of Junco Partner). One of the most positive points of this collection is that it doesn't contain only hits by each of the artists presented, because two thirds of the record include never released songs. It's a great punk compilation which, except for the different styles colliding, can be listened to in its entirety, in addition to giving you the desire to acquire many albums of the artists presented. 75 minutes that will completely fill your ears with satisfaction. (January 2005)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Maybe This Christmas Tree

For the third year in a row (like you can see in the title), we can buy an album in the "Maybe This Christmas" series from the record company Nettwerk. On this Christmas album, there are very few well known artists this year. The Polyphonic Spree starts it all strongly with the John Lennon classic Happy Xmas (War Is Over). The Raveonettes come right after that in a great way with the excellent The Christmas Song. Once again this year, we find many original compositions, even if we cannot miss the classic Jingle Bells beautifully interpreted by Lisa Loeb with her warm and seducing voice. It's also important to mention the cover of Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime by Tom McRae, even if it's so boring, and also the presence of Jars Of Clay (a justified presence for this christian band) and Pilate. The Royal Crown Revue brings us a touch of jazz on this album moving between folk and pop rock. I think it's an unconstant record and, despite some excellent tracks, it will be difficult to listen to it entirely each time. Anyway, it's an album very different from all the other Christmas albums we get at this time of year and it's also possible to listen to it at other times of the year without looking crazy. (December 2004)

Nettwerk

Modern Day Troubadours

Modern Day Troubadours

"Modern Day Troubadours" is a compilation by the Nettwerk record company with a portion of proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters which is helping the kids with problems in the US. This compilation contains songs from some of the best folk and country poets of all time. Among the most ancient ones, we can hear Johnny Cash (with Give My Love To Rose) and Bob Dylan (with One More Cup Of Coffee). But, we also hear more recent big names like Jeff Buckley, Ron Sexsmith, Daniel Lanois, Neil Finn and Sam Roberts, in addition to Matthew Jay, The Devlins, Griffin House, Jay Farrar, Sondre Lerche, Ed Harcourt and David Mead. Being not the greatest fan of poetry, I was a bit repulsed in the beginning to listen to this album, but finally, it's a well balanced album that is offered to us and we can hear great songs. Approximately 57 relaxing minutes perfect to listen to late at night. Most of all, it's for a good cause, so you don't have to hesitate if you're a fan of the genre. (September 2004)

Nettwerk

½

Punk-O-Rama 9

Punk-O-Rama Vol. 9 (CD + DVD)

Here is the 9th volume of this series which is most of all a promotion tool for the artists distributed by Epitaph Records. For the first time here, you will have a bonus DVD with 11 videos, the most interesting ones being the videos of Weakerthans, Bouncing Souls, HorrorPops, Pulley and Randy. Some of the videos present songs included on the CD, but for others, it's songs different from the CD and we can also hear artists on the DVD not included at all on the CD. This CD includes 24 songs from the main artists of Epitaph having release albums in the last months. In the case of Death By Stereo and Hot Water Music, the songs offered here are not included on the new releases of those bands because they are never released ones. There is also Tiger Army presenting us a song from their EP "Early Years EP", even if the band just released a new complete one, "III: Ghost Tigers Rise". The greatest songs of this punk compilation (in spite of the presence of hip hop with Atmosphere) are for sure those by Bad Religion, Weakerthans, Pennywise, Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, Refused and Division of Laura Lee. The result is a very good punk compilation that will give you the opportunity to discover some new interesting artists and make a clear choice on the best Epitaph music to buy. You will be able to buy "Punk-O-Rama 9" at a very low price by clicking the cover art. (July 2004)

Epitaph

½

A Winter's Night: The Best Of Nettwerk Christmas

The record company Nettwerk released many Christmas albums through the years including most of all its artists. The best thing with those records was that most of the time it offered musically interesting songs, which is not often the case for that kind of product. With "A Winter's Night", we find the best of those albums. Among the 15 songs offered, we can hear the excellent God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan (we can also hear them by themselves later), Donde Esta Santa Claus! by Guster, Christmas Day by Dido, and a very good version of O Holy Night by the duo Avril Lavigne / Chantal Kreviazuk. Lisa Hannigan presents us Silent Night in an a capella version when the Mediaeval Baebes dazzle us once again with Gaudette in an ancient version. I also have to mention the more than interesting version of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson. The other artists included on this beautiful record are Ron Sexsmith, Neil Finn, Sixpence None The Richer, Meryn Cadell, The Be Good Tanyas and Martina Sorbara. Here is a Christmas CD essentially folk and particularly relaxing that will make you forget about the usual recordings often close to easiness. It's an album with about no weakness at all and, in addition, you can almost listen to it all year long. (December 2004)

Nettwerk

 

 

 

     

     

 

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