Those Mockingbirds is your new favorite band in 2014!

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Looking for something to do in and around Boston this weekend? Sick of the music scene and need a band to come along and totally change the face of rawk? Then you’re looking for Montclair, New Jersey’s own Those Mockingbirds! I’m not going to mention the many accolades the band has already received because, quite frankly, the tunes speak for themselves.

Just one listen through “How To Rob A Bank” (Stream it below) or “A Ballad From Hell” (Here it here) should assure you that you’ve made an excellent choice should you choose to venture to one of their three (3!) shows in the area this weekend.

It’s hard to describe Those Mockingbirds to the uninitiated. There’s some Clutch in there (Check out some of the riffing in “…Bank”), some Von Bondies in other spots and enough “Whoa-oh” sing-a-long moments to bring a classic Misfits record to shame. But Those Mockingbirds is none of the above. Something else entirely, they pave their own way and that’s just fine by me.

Their first full length, Penny The Dreadful, should see the light of day this summer. Meanwhile, you can get all your TM needs over on their official Facebook page or better yet catch them live as they hit Pittsfield, Providence, and Cambridge’s Middle East this weekend with New City Ghost, Islands In Motion, Arms & Ears, Nemes, and Friendly People.

 

 

Eagulls: Believe the hype!

 

Whenever a band is labeled as “post-punk” and compared to one of my all-time favorites like Killing Joke I’m always skeptical. Take Eagulls, for example, who have even gone so far as to put out a cover of “Requiem” (For the record, I didn’t like the cover). When it come to these UK upstarts, however, you best believe the hype.

From the moment the hypnotic “Nerve Endings” kicks in it’s apparent this debut is something else. In fact, is it too early in 2014 to declare an album “must-have” or “brilliant” or champion it for album of the year? Mixing Killing Joke, U2’s early days in some spots and then Failure-like guitar screams in others, Eagulls capture an era and then go beyond on their debut.

“Hollow Visions” is and abrasive guitar exercise complete with Raven/Youth bass lines while “Yellow Eyes” captures some of that ’50’s dreamy guitar pop during the intro but quickly devolves into 21st Century post punk. Official first single “Tough Luck” mixes that “Eighties” riffage with a thunderous percussive presence and some truly monolithic choruses while later on, “Fester Blister” combines shimmering guitar lines, pummeling drums, and enough time changes to make Kyuss step back and say “Whaaaaa?!?!?!”. Through and through, Eagulls is a solid debut that demands to be listened to at obnoxious volumes

Eagulls self-titled debut is out on March 4th though Partisan Records. You’d be wise to get your copy here (And like us over here if you want).

 

Maximo Park give “Too Much Information” on fifth LP.

“Wanted to try something different this time” sings Maximo Park vocalist Paul Smith in a haunting falsetto during the chorus of Too Much Information lead single “Brain Cells” and no truer words have ever been sung. TMI is, hands down, one of the most diverse records MP has ever released. It doesn’t totally abandon the Maximo Park “sound” so much as it expands upon it greatly.

“Give, Get, Take” is like the pied piper leading listeners into a trap with its jangly guitars and broad choruses, typical for standard Maximo Park. Then it all goes South. The aforementioned “Brain Cells” is unlike anything the band have written to date and we had some words to say about it when it was released late last year. From there, TMI takes a turn for the somber and the synth.  “Leave This Island” follows next and continues along the “Brain Cells” path adding a little more organics to the mix with a tale that’s equal parts beautiful and bittersweet.

“Lydia, The Ink Will Dry” dials it back to Our Earthly Pleasures while “My Bloody Mind” is an almost Beatles-esque full on rock out which, when fully realized on stage, is sure to be a crowd pleaser for years to come. Smith’s heavenly falsetto comes back into play on the ’80’s inspired “Is It True” reminding listeners that TMI is definitely not your typical Maximo Park album.

Too Much Information might not be the Maximo Park album that fans deserved but it’s the one that we all need from time to time. TMI is out now. Get your copy here and be sure to check out the band when they tour the States this spring!

 

White Noise Owl’s debut EP is the first must own of 2014!

It’s true what they say: Good things come in small packages. In White Noise Owl’s case the “small package” is in the form of a debut EP instead of a full-length and the tracks included within are definitely some of the best hard rock anthems you’ll hear in all of 2014.

Until We Meet Again is a mature helping of hard, heavy rock from a bunch of guys who you probably saw in one form or another on Ozzfest ’98. Make no mistake, though, this is not another version of Snot or Ultraspank or even Evanescence or Staind. WNO is something different altogether. This is a group of guys who have been around the industry and are banding together to forge a new destiny and judging by the results of Until We Meet Again, it’s definitely a promising one.

Vocalist Pete Murray croons on opener “Feed” with the line “I don’t care for what you’re feeding me/And I won’t stand for negativity, no!” and that is exactly the case with White Noise Owl. There’s no bullshit and a focus on the heart of the matter: The music!

“Bomber” is a sonic masterpiece and has some of those grandiose Filter-like radio rock choruses that the band have become known for (Title Of Record producer Ben Grosse coincidentally is the producer and mixer here) while guitarist Chris Shy diversifies the proceedings during the opening of “End Over End” with some down home strumming. The EP culminates with “Are You Breathing” which is probably the best example of the “White Noise Owl sound” as it were featuring stellar drumming from Will Hunt and some fantastic bass work from John Fahnestock along with the aforementioned Shy and Murray.

Look, I’m a fan of most of these guys already. I’ve been Team Murray since I first heard of Ultraspank and their ridiculously underrated vocalist in the late ’90’s, I bought the Snot debut after seeing Lynn Strait leap on stage during a Manhole opening slot in Boston (Fahnestock actually sold me the long sleeve I still own after a Snot show opening for Sevendust in Worcester), and I loved both Skrape records that Hunt bashed away on.

These guys know the biz and they definitely deserve your attention. Hopefully White Noise Owl is the spark that lights a fire under the ass of the hard rock music world.

For more on White Noise Owl including pre-order options for Until We Meet Again (Due on March 11th), head on over to their official Facebook and Twitter pages and please don’t forget to “like” us over on ours.

 

Breton prepare for “War” on sophomore release.

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Listening to War Room Stories, the second full length from the UK’s Breton, has made me appreciate Other People’s Money so much more. They’re both equally brilliant but for different reasons. While OPM was this mechanical blip-hop masterpiece, War Room… sees the band opening up so much more.

Opener “Envy” is an easy contender for single of the year. It’s catchy and moves the band’s sound ahead tenfold presenting a more organic overall approach and a warmth not felt on some of their earlier works. Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibe the song emits or maybe it’s the typical “They’re growing as musicians” spiel. Whatever the case, the song is hypnotic and is the perfect introduction to War Room Stories.

From there, Breton continue to excel and exceed expectations. “S4” could be a film score with the plucked strings that open it up and while “Legs & Arms” (Along with “302 Watchtowers”) might be the closest Breton come to sounding like OPM, the track still drives their sound infinitely forward. Speaking of forward, “Get Well Soon” is the undeniable future of Breton. A veritable sonic tour-de-force, the song is unlike anything Breton have birthed thus far yet it’s the next one, “Closed Circuit”, that really shakes things up. It’s the striking guitar lines, the string section, the horns…just everything about this song that screams perfection.

While later still, echoes of “Envy” rear their pretty little head on closer “Fifteen Minutes” proving that Breton makes music that’ll make you think as well as move. Far be it from me to tell you what you should and shouldn’t like but I’ll be damned if I don’t take this opportunity to stress how essential War Room Stories is to any your collection this year.

War Room Stories is out on February 3rd. You can still pre-order the album here then check out Breton online here and don’t forget to head on over to our Facebook page and give us a like, too!

 

Have A Nice Life invite you to The Unnatural World!

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I have to admit: I tried to get into Have A Nice Life before and couldn’t. For all the praise Deathconsciousness received I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Still, when The Unnatural World was announced I was determined to try again. I’m lucky I did because this is easily an album that is not to be missed in 2014.

If ever there was an album that was meant to be heard through headphones and at high volumes it was The Unnatural World. Especially during these recent cold New England nights, a stereo just won’t do this album justice. One needs to be fully enveloped in the warmth of Have A Nice Life’s sound to fully appreciate it. Take opener “Guggenheim Wax Museum”, for example, which is this massive wall of sound that could easily be dropped into The Thing as it heralds something truly bleak and solitary.

Cut to the Joy Division meets The Sisters Of Mercy “Defenstration Song” which is glorious, goth-soaked, and destined to stand out on the dance floor at the Paradise during one of their inevitable Man Ray Redux nights to give you the knowledge that Have A Nice Life is anything but predictable. “Burial Society” follows and is this beautiful and hypnotic piano-laden piece with vocals that are at times Dave Gahan-esque while the rest of The Unnatural World just amplifies what the first three songs inevitably laid the groundwork for. Like Sigur Ros without the made up language (Especially “Music Will Untune The Sky”), Have A Nice Life is presenting something completely fresh and an easy contender for must-own album of the new year.

The Unnatural World is out on February 4th through The Flenser (Stream AND buy it here). For more on HANL, head on over to their Facebook page and don’t forget to like us, too, over on ours!

 

Sierra mixes old school Tool with COC-style swamp boogie on debut album Pslip!

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The debut release from Kylesa mainman Philip Cope’s Retro Futurist label is here and it is a glorious amalgamation of everything that can go right in the world of heavy rawk. The band is Sierra, the album is Pslip, and they deliver a down home-style rock album straight from the swamps of Ontario (Wait, what???).

“Pslip In” starts off with an almost Adam Jones-like riff leading into the epic “Little Smoke” which clocks in at just under seven minutes and introduces Jason Taylor’s COC meets COC vox (A little John Custer, a little Pepper Keenan, a whole lotta awesome).

“Control Folly” really displays what this band can do and lets drummer Ky Anto shine a little while Taylor lays some thick and crunchy riffs. Bringing up the low end is never an easy task in any band but bassist Robbie Carvalho does an excellent job especially during instrumental track “Psquigalogz” which brings to mind the vastly underrated Karma To Burn.

And as they say, the hits just keep on coming especially as you “Pslip In” more to the album. “Pseptember” is an unbridled riff session while “Smoke Filled Room” is quiet and introspective before giving way to an all out assault on your senses. Kylesa like Sierra already. Pslip is the evidence of why you should, too.

For more on Sierra, head on over here and please don’t forget to “like” us on our very own Facebook page!

Pslip is out on January 28th through Retro Futurist. Snag your copy here.

 

 

 

The Greater Wrong of the Right re-issue: How Skinny Puppy got her groove back

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The Skinny Puppy renaissance of the 21st Century began in 2004 with the release of The Greater Wrong of the Right, their first new studio recording in eight years. Ten years later and the band is better than ever and even more potent releasing one of their best to date with last year’s Weapon. In 2004, though,  they were still finding their sea legs if you will on an album that was also the first without Dwayne Goettel and longtime producer Dave Ogilvie.

As a whole the album was a welcome return for the reigning industrial giants but it shed most of the ferocious bile they spewed in their early years. Jarring guitar lines are mechanically cut and pasted  throughout and not much of a presence overall (Most noticeably on opener “I’mmortal”) while the ringmaster himself, Nivek Ogre, doesn’t quite sound like Ogre. That unmistakable snarl doesn’t rear its’ ugly little head until closers “Goneja” and “DaddyuWarbash” actually. The surprises continued with the overly lush, almost Pop, sound of “Use Less” featuring Wayne Static and Tool’s Danny Carey.

Is this a watered down version of SP then? Far from it! Instead, TGWotR presents a band falling in love with creating progressive industrial music all over again and a sign of what was to come. If you were a fan of the band previously, TGWotR just made you appreciate them more. If you were a new fan looking for a jumping on point then there was no better gateway drug then TGWotR.

The Greater Wrong of the Right re-issue is out on January 28th through Metropolis Records, pressed on heavyweight vinyl for the first time ever. Reserve your copy here, but act fast as the vinyl is limited to 1000 copies! You can also get the album on CD and digitally.

For more on Skinny Puppy (And to see where you can catch them on their upcoming tour) head on over to their Official Facebook Page and don’t forget to “Like” us at the Rock And Roll Fables page, too!

 

Hank & Cupcakes complete a 180 on new single “Countdown”. Sort of.

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Hank & Cupcakes is poised for great things, that’s for sure. On their debut album, Naked!, this Brooklyn-based duo set the music world ablaze with an electro-pop romp that made listeners want to dance and rock their socks off at the same time. On “Countdown”, the first single from their upcoming Cash For Gold (Due this Summer) album, H&C take a subtle approach which is no less intriguing than anything found on their debut. It’s a synth-heavy dream state with almost sitar-like passages that has none of Cupcakes drums present and vocals that were recorded in the G Train Metropolitan stop in Brooklyn,

First singles are never a good indicator of where any album is going but with Hank & Cupcakes expect the unexpected. Even if “Countdown” isn’t the direction the rest of Cash For Gold is headed, fans know that this album is destined to be special.

Buy the “Countdown” single over on Itunes here, check them out on Facebook here and don’t forget to like our page right here!

 

Editor’s picks! Top 13 of ’13!

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The best of the best of the best of 2013. What this year has taught me is that I like the ladies and I like the rawk. I still love my metal but it seems that stone cold rock has infiltrated my soundwaves and made a significant impact. Anywho, without further adieu here is the Top 13 of ’13 according to me!

1. Skinny Puppy: Weapons This is the one for me. Since they reformed in 2004 (Have you pre-ordered your vinyl copy of The Greater Wrong Of The Right yet?) Skinny Puppy has been on a constant path of putting out solid albums….but this is the one that really encapsulated the awesome that is SP. A throwback to the old days yet a step into the future, Weapons captured all that Skinny Puppy has been but ventured off into the beyond with epic results. Stand out’s include the hypnotic opening number  “wornin'”, the dance floor-ready “paragUn”, and the cataclysmic “solvent”.

2. Filter: The Sun Comes Out Tonight It was such a great year for Filter. Such a great year! And for me! I had the honor of interviewing Richard Patrick twice and seeing the band destroying at the House Of Blues in Boston in June but the real gem was the album they released around that time. The Sun Comes Out Tonight, quite simply, is Filter’s best. Is it Richard Patrick firing on all cylinders once again or is it his new writing partner Jonny Radtke that’s making this magic happen? Whatever the answer is the results are TSCOT which is a little industrial, a little rock, and a whole lot of ass kicking anthems.

3. Clutch: Earth Rocker ER has lived with me the longest as I’ve had it since January of 2013 and it is still a part of my regular rotation. The most straightforward, balls out rawk album Clutch has put out, it’s also probably their best. Period. If by the time “Oh, Isabella” saunters seductively into banging closer “The Wolfman Kindly Requests….” you don’t agree, then you might need to check your pulse.

4. Middle Class Rut: Pick Up Your Head Unbelievable sophomore release by a duo that expanded into more for their live performances in 2013. “Born Too Late” literally explodes when it comes on while songs like “Leech” and “Cut The Line” are brilliant sonic excursions. In the end, it’s latest single “Dead Eye” that will show you how far MCR have come since their inception. You’re welcome in advance.

5. A Pale Horse Named Death: Lay My Soul To Waste Speaking of sophomore releases, APHND stepped up their game considerably in 2013 with a doom rock record that was lush, bold, and delivered tenfold. Mainman Sal Abruscato recruited former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly (Yes, APHND now features two former TON drummers) to give the band some extra thump while Abruscato expanded his range vocally and sonically to create some masterpieces like “In The Sleeping Death”, “Growing Old”, and “Dead Of Winter” which meshed easily with rockers “Shallow Grave” and “DMSLT”.

6. IAMX: The Unified Field 2013: The year I finally discovered IAMX. Seriously, where have I been for the last 10 years? On The Unified Field, IAMX deliver emotion, sonic excess and superior production to create one of the most compelling and heartfelt albums of the year. “I Come With Knives” and the title track easily prove this to be true.

7. Vista Chino: Peace/QOTSA:…Like Clockwork I know this is a cop out to put both of these in the same rank but they’re both the flip side of the same coin in my opinion and equally appealing in different ways. While Josh Homme and co. go in a completely different direction than his former desert brethren, both albums are separately mature and a perfect fit and progression for each outfit. Peace, being the next logical step in the Kyuss legacy and …Like Clockwork being this grand culmination of work that started on the Kyuss/QOTSA split oh so many years ago.

8. Beyonce: Beyonce/Lady Gaga: ARTPOPYeah, I know. Another cop out. But who can choose between these two great ladies? Gaga, the modern-day chameleon shifting from the almost cock rock of Born This Way to the suave electro rush that is ARTPOP? Queen Bey, the elder stateswoman at this point whose surprised album is one of her most consistent and sexiest? I couldn’t choose.

9. Killswitch Engage: Disarm The Descent If the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach wasn’t enough to entice you back to the KSE fold then the fact that this was also one of their most brutal to date should. From the assault of “The Hell In Me” through to the melodious  “In Due Time” or the seriously vicious “All That We Have” it’s obviously apparent that this is a reinvigorated KSE that shows no signs of stopping.

10. Royal Thunder: CVI Wow. Just wow. If you haven’t heard “Parsonz Curse” and fallen to the floor in a quivering mess because of its sheer brilliance then I pity you. Miny Parsonz is undoubtedly a frontwoman you need to pay attention while Josh Weaver and Evan Diprima round out Royal Thunder to deliver an album that’s equal parts Sabbath and Heart (The band and the feeling).

11. earthtone9: IV All hail the underground kings. Cut down in their prime because they were making music that was before their time (Make sense?), Nottingham’s own prog-metallers earthtone9 reformed in 2010 but didn’t release the beast of an album that is IV until April of this year, their first full-length since 2000’s arc’tan’gent. Was it worth the lengthy wait for fans? Oh hells yes! Crunching riffs followed by broad melodic passages all topped with Karl Middleton’s deafening growl made IV a step in the right direction for e9.

12. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor Oh man was this the Rob Zombie album I had been waiting for! The kind of album that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and causes one to smile uncontrollably, VRRV hit the nail on the head with each of its 12 ghoul-infested tracks.

13. !!!: THR!!!ER A totally under-the-radar album, THR!!!ER was a subtle yet hypnotic dance favorite of mine in 2013. Frontman Nic Offer, as always, led the !!! crew through some slick grooves and some new instant classics like “Even When The Water’s Cold”, “Get That Rhythm Right”, and “Except Death”.

And I’d be remiss not mention the honorable mentions of 2013 (i.e. How can I squeeze some more albums on here?) so, in no particular order, here they are:

-Ghost: Infestissumam

-Holograms: Forever

-BLACK TAXI: Chioroscuro

-Mike Doughty: Circles Super Bon Bon…

-Monster Magnet: The Last Patrol

-Korn: The Paradigm Shift/Love & Death: Between Here & Lost

-The Soft Moon: Zeros