Whether working or relaxing, Mike Keane is listening to music. It all started growing up in the Bronx devouring his parents’ and brother’s excellent collection of records. Once he had some cash flow, he started collecting and digesting his own vinyl, starting back in the 80s with early days of thrash metal and NYHC, through the 90s expanding into shoegaze and post-hardcore. Some of his favorite bands arrived in the mid-90s but he continues to discover new music which he prefers to witness live, force onto his buddies, and now write about. Contributing to BigTakeover.com is his first foray into getting published and he could not have found a happier home for his blurbs from the ‘burbs.
The three-piece Castle Ruins are certainly not going to set the world on fire with musical evolution, rather their latest EP, You’re the Curse, is of the post-hardcore, late-period grunge style and that works well for me.
Having missed this band their first time around, I am glad to have come across Criteria now. Years is the title of their first release after a fifteen year hiatus. Stephen Pedersen spent some time in Cursive before departing and eventually forming Criteria.
Based out of Vienna, Austria, Pastor has bestowed their final release Unveil. Six originals plus one cover of riff-heavy, galloping songs, Pastor do not hide their influences
Hot Water Music, celebrating twenty-five years, have released the EP, Shake Up the Shadows on Epitaph. This legendary band own their own sound, one carved out over the years through sweat and hard work.
Even with only four songs there is more to the Havoc Siren than on most LPs three times longer. “Solstice” is the climax and brings elements of shoegaze, plodding along, crescendoing before coming down to an abrupt ending which is leading this listener to go and check out the band’s back catalog.
Self-described psychedelic stoner-punks, ASG return (finally!) with Survive Sunrise. It continues the North Carolina band’s trajectory of excellent, never-boring, energetic music. My only complaint about this band is why do we have to wait five or six years between offerings?
Sample Size is the debut from Ruins, hailing from Liverpool, and it is a stunner demonstrating the ability to create atmosphere, emotion, and beautiful music in a minimalistic arrangement of sounds, beats, and voice. Go get this now and let’s hope it is not a one off. Hands down, debut of the year so far and, who knows, this could easily become album of the year.
On Schmaltz, Spanish Love Songs offer up extremely emotional punk/ hardcore with hooks galore that just screams for audience participation in sing-alongs at a basement venue coming to a town near you. This an interesting LP: the hooks and energy make it hard not to recommend and the subject matter makes it curious to see what this band becomes when they grow up. This is a much deeper record than it appears at first glance, like someone smiling at you as they tell you how much they are struggling through life.
I have a soft spot for succinct post-hardcore EPs and thankfully Full Color Dream have released What Do I Owe You because I needed it. No new ground is broken here but putting all the pieces together from late 80s and early to mid-90s (before the bubble burst) alternative rock/ hardcore/ post-hardcore is not always done this well. Bring more soon!
Hailing from New Jersey, this is the band’s first new material in about 10 years. One can hear hints of post Sunny Day Real Estate Jeremy Enigk and the melodic styling of Death Cab for Cutie – these are offered only as reference points and not meant to detract from this band’s ability to have their own voice, which they do in spades. Keep an eye out for these guys, let’s hope they keep the music coming.
All is right with the world: Corrosion of Conformity have released their tenth studio album, No Cross No Crown. Much is written about line-up changes, who is in, who is out, but this matters very little since all C.O.C. releases are a reason to celebrate. Regardless of how the world changes, it is great to know C.O.C. will continue to add to the punk/ metal lexicon they helped establish and once again prove the best head-bangers have a punk soul.
Michael Shepard appears to be staying in his electro-pop phase with the release of Relive. It is a crisp, modern album with a steady flow of mid to slow tempo synth-driven/ effects songs. Let’s hope they take this effort on the road as it would be great to hear these in a live setting side by side with the bands earlier rock anthems.
On Wexico, The Midwesterns offer ten enjoyable rockabilly/ alt-country tunes. Songs of love lost, hope and advice are sure to be sing-along anthems coming to local (and hopefully further) honky-tonks across the nation in the new year.
Rad Owl has released their debut EP, Alladin’s Castle. The bad news is there are only three songs but the good news is all are solid post-hardcore/ punk gems.
With the Amulet, Circa Survive offer fans a slightly softer [even] more atmospheric take on their unique mash up of alternative / post-hardcore/ emo/ prog rock hybrid. It is difficult to pick a favorite, as listening to this over the past month, each day brings a different top track, most likely tied to the listeners current mood or cycle of the moon.
Living Colour has released Shade and, sorry for the cliché, it rocks. There is nothing unexpected here and that is not a complaint as the thirteen tracks have the riffs, grooves, hooks, and beats found in their early days. The production is pristine mixing hard rock blues, funk, jazz, and hip-hop. Bottom line, if you need some rock and roll, don’t mind some tough talk lyrics, Shade is not to be missed.
Queens of the Stone Age return with their seventh studio album, Villains, and not surprisingly it swings, rocks, and grooves. If this is what happens when a well-paid producer combines with a band that helped define a sub-genre than who cares, let the beat go on.
By the end of the first listen to Out in the Storm, the latest album from Waxahatchee, the tunes already felt familiar. The album is filled with enjoyable melodies, guitar-driven rock, and lyrics that are quite personal. The album closes on “Fade” but not for long as this record screams repeat.
Mutoid Man’s latest LP, War Moans, opens fast and furious with “Melt Your Mind” and does not slow down much thereafter. Knowing the historical output from the band members’ other bands, namely Cave In and Converge, it is not surprising the 12 tracks comprise a splendid mix of extreme metal and hardcore punk.
Walking into the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY, there were signs that warned NO SURFING and NO MOSHING. Clutch were in town on their East Coast leg of their Summer 2017 tour supporting Psychic Warfare. These signs made it seem that the crew running the theater have not seen Clutch since the early to mid ‘90s. True enough, the band were part of the 90’s punk and hardcore scene but over the past 15 years or so they have evolved into a hard-working no BS kick-ass rock band.