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  1. “Up All Night” Blink 182 Single

    August 27, 2011 by J-Man

    Somehow Blink-182 released a new single and I missed it. Well, until right now anyway. Did you know I am a Blink-182 fan? I am a huge Blink-182 fan. I was 14-year-old-girl-giddy when Pandora played “Up All Night” for me.

    My first impression is that this sounds like the logical next-step from their last venture as a band, which is exactly what I wanted to hear. Their self-titled album, which dropped all the way back in 2003, showed a band that was maturing as its members aged (you can’t always play three power chords and sing about how parents suck), and I was anxious to see where they were going when they fell apart.

    The things that happened in the aftermath were stagnant at best. (more…)

  2. Oax album The Distance

    July 26, 2011 by J-Man

    If you’ve ever read any of my reviews, you know that I have a special place in my heart for albums that are real. I like albums that are more human and less computer. I like real drums, as opposed to drum machines. When my editor-in-chief sent me a track off of This Distance, the new EP from Oax, it hit me right in that “this is real” heart place.

    I would even venture as far as to call this EP raw, and I would mean it in the most positive way possible. The guitars feedback. The cymbal hits aren’t uniform. You can hear that someone is playing the music you are listening to, and that someone is Angelini Giorgio. Aside from the closer on the EP, ‘Sutures’, everything on the album was written and played by Giorgio.

    On my first listen through, this album made me want to drive. I wanted to feel wind, and watch mountains and hills pass by. I wanted to cruise down Highway 1 and listen to this and remember good times and bad times. Then I read the story behind the album and understood why.

    Angelini had been on a hiatus from music, after leaving The Rosebuds and going back to school. Then he went through a hard breakup. Then he sat down and wrote music, by himself. This EP is the result of an emotional dam breaking. I listened to the album a second time and I could feel the lyrics. I empathized with the man singing about the sins he had committed, and the sins committed against him, and the culmination of all these sins and how they make up the lives that we lead.

    What I’m trying to tell you is that this music is good. It is really good.

    Mp3 “Liar, Cheater, Jerk”

  3. Cady Groves’ Life of a Pirate

    June 14, 2010 by J-Man

    I am a huge fan of singer-songwriters. In the world of over produced, auto-tuned, ghost-written pop packages, I’m always pleased when I’m handed an album filled with music written and performed by the same person.

    Cady Groves Ep Life of a Pirate fits that bill perfectly. You get to hear the passion of a person singing words they wrote. You get the raw unfiltered sound of a girl who doesn’t need the studio magic in order to bring her songs to life.source -

    Her music, although enjoyable, is underwhelming. Don’t take that the wrong way. Life of a Pirate is full of endearing and heartfelt songs, and the music is well written. I just didn’t feel like I was listening to anything special happen. When asked to describe her music, Cady herself posits “If Miranda Lambert, Paramore, Dixie Chicks, and Taylor Swift all had a less talented baby – that would be me.” Her modesty is commendable, but sadly, extremely accurate.

    source -

    Listening to her music brought forth one of two reactions from me. I either started doing something else, letting her music drift into the background and provide a nice ambience for whatever else was going on; or I was reminded of other artists I wanted to listen to, who she sounded like, but was not quite as good as.

    Bottom line, Cady Groves and her new EP are good, maybe even really good, but not good enough to stand out. Good enough to cause me to be pleased if I was able to catch her set on The Bamboozle Road Show this summer, but not good enough to make me buy a ticket specifically to see her.

    Rating: (3/5)

  4. Angels & Airwaves’ Love

    February 18, 2010 by J-Man

    picture source -


    When I heard that Angels & Airwaves was releasing another album, my immediate response was, “They’re still together? That’s a shame.” I’ve been incredibly disappointed with Tom DeLonge’s “I’m going to save the world” movement since the first time I got “The Adventure” in my ears. The entire project sounds like a crippled Blink 182, his pretention is so thick its opaque, and his hair is retarded. I mean seriously… what is going on with his hair.

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    Tom contemplates his horrible wig

    Needless to say, I pressed play on the new album Love with very low expectations. Part of me was desperately hoping that I was going to be surprised by what I heard. That part of me was disappointed. About the album, Mr. DeLonge says, “Things happen unpredictably and take you to these epic soundscapes. It’s very much in the spirit of Angels & Airwaves, but it sounds way, way more thought-out and way more ambitious.” He is mostly lying. If you have listened to previous A&A albums, then you’ve already heard every song on this album. I guess maybe the words are different. He repeats every line a thousand times, so that he can stretch three minutes worth of writing into six minutes of song. There are ambient things happening, to try and justify his use of the word “epic”. Side note: never, ever refer to anything that YOU HAVE MADE as epic. That is a word for OTHER people to use.

    source -

    They were serious when they took this picture

    About halfway through the album, I happened across what I had read was the first single. “Hallucinations” sounded like everything else so I skipped it. Then the same song played again so I skipped it as well. I think it was called “The Moon-Atomic” this time. The next track was called “Clever Love”, and I waited for it to start for four minutes, then it ended. The next song was called “Soul Survivor (…2012)” and based on the title alone, I skipped it. For the last two tracks, I skipped immediately to the middle of them to see if anything distinguishable from the rest of the album was happening… it wasn’t.

    Bottom line, this is an Angels & Airwaves album. It is what happens when an artist gets so much money that they no longer think they need to listen to what anyone else says. It sounds exactly like everything else A&A has done, and I guess you’ll like it if you’re one of those kids who takes the time to figure out how to type an upside down “A” when you type their name, but me and you probably won’t ever get along.

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    Still serious.

    They also made a movie with the same title as this album. It’s about an astronaut who meets God after traveling through a wormhole. Also something about the civil war. Tom DeLonge has lost his mind, and I really hope it doesn’t adversely affect the next Blink 182 album.

    Rating: (0.5/5)

  5. Chaser’s album The Big Picture

    February 2, 2010 by J-Man

    Chaser - The Big Picture Album Cover -’s a punk band out of Orange County called Chaser that’s been kicking around doing their thing since 2002. They’ve already released two CDs, and will be releasing their newest venture, The Big Picture, on February 16th.

    The band went into this album with a brand new outlook on life. After becoming a father, front man Mike LeDonne found himself with a new, more positive spin on the world he lives in, and he carried that perspective throughout the writing process on The Big Picture. Every song gravitates around the concept of figuring out what really matters in life, and finding the silver lining in the storm clouds that too often darken our days.

    Chaser Promo - album opens with the title track, which lyrically sums up everything I just said about the album. Musically, this song also sets the stage for everything else you’re about to hear. It’s punk. There’s nothing new, nothing exciting… it’s just punk. Drummer Josh Millican falls into the punk-o-matic trap of using the D-Beat relentlessly throughout The Big Picture, and the guitar/bass riffs and solos (supplied by Cameron Denning, Nate Warner, and Jesse Stopnitzky respectively), although handled by obviously talented musicians, are interchangeable between songs. A couple of songs tried to trick me into thinking otherwise with inspired intros (the first ten seconds of “Actions to Ashes” wakes you up with a primal scream and some metalicious guitar shredding) but most of them, disappointingly, melted into cookie-cutter punk songs shortly thereafter. Although most punk fans will not be bothered by this, it made the album a bit boring for me to listen to.

    Also lending to my struggle to pay attention to what was happening were the extremely tired sounding vocals. You come to expect a certain strength from your lead vocalist when listening to punk, and that is just not present on this album. Lines that almost beg for some punch, some excitement, (“No no no no never again” in “Nevermore”) fall flat and rob the songs of their potency. This could very easily be a problem that is nonexistent live, it can be hard to muster up that raw energy in a recording booth, but it hurts the album a great deal.

    Chaser Promo - the up side of things, which is what this album is all about, cookie-cutter does not necessarily mean bad. If you are a punk fan, and you are looking to expand your punk library, this album is probably a cookie that you will enjoy. As a bonus, you’ll be able to listen to music that doesn’t base its lyrical content solely on calling George Bush the devil. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Ska breakdown in the middle of “In This Together” that featured a vocalist who seemed a bit more comfortable singing in a studio. (I couldn’t find his name specifically credited to the song, but I believe it is Jason Devore of Authority Zero. LeDonne has mentioned that they worked with a number of guest musicians on this album.)  “My Promise”, an acoustic ballad that I can safely assume was written for Ledonne’s daughter, also provides a nice little breather, and ends with a phone call between the two of them that just might bring a tear to your eye.

    All in all, The Big Picture fails to bring anything revolutionary to the table, won’t shock you with amazing vocals or deep, thought provoking lyrics, but wouldn’t be a bad addition to your punk library, if that happens to be a thing that you have. Look for Chaser to hit your town with Guttermouth. The tour kicks off on Februrary 5th in San Luis Obispo.

    Rating: (1/5)

  6. Emery’s …In Shallow Seas We Sail

    May 18, 2009 by J-Man

    …In Shallow Seas We Sail

    On June 2nd, Emery’s new album …In Shallow Seas We Sail hits shelves (Click here for Our Interview with Bassist and Vocalist Devin Shelton). Now, I could tell you how Emery delivered on their ever present ability to seamlessly blend hardcore primal screaming with gorgeous melodies and layered harmonies. I could tell you that they took a step back into their The Weak’s End roots, without losing the lessons and maturity that they’ve earned over the years. I could tell you that this album is probably going to end up on my Top 5 List for this year. I actually DID tell you all of that. Those things, however, are not going to be the focus of this review. There is one piece of Emery that I did not mention; a very large piece…

    The Lyrics.

    These boys have a way with words. Just look at the album title. Do you wonder why it starts with the “…”? (That’s called an ellipsis.) It’s because the EP that preceded it is called While Broken Hearts Prevail. Go ahead and put those two together, and then close your mouth after it falls open in awe of Emery’s word-smithery. Okay, maybe I’m overdoing it a little bit, but it’s hard not to give a huge head nod to the words that are woven into Emery’s music.

    Here’s the great thing about being a language artist in the digital world we live in: your fans will use your words as their new motto, and spread your genius to all their friends. In honor of just that, I’m am going to give you one line from every song on this album that is undoubtedly going to end up in Myspace headlines, Facebook statuses, and Twitter updates everywhere.

    1 – Cutthroat Collapse

    “Under this December sky, I walk away

    2 – Inside Our Skin

    “We all feel real inside our skin, with
    selfish hearts that hide our sin.”

    3 – Curbside Goodbyes

    “I chose every word that I knew would hurt,
    but that was a poor choice at best.”

    4 – Twelve And Fading

    is a part of me that sees the easy way out. If it doesn’t hurt, then not
    another word…”

    5 – I’ve Got A Way

    “You’re a broken record repeating these
    vanities, over and over…”

    6 – In Shallow Seas
    We Sail

    “I fell apart when I fell for you.”

    7 – The Poor And The Prevalent

    “I’ve got to put a stop to all this. To all this being separated and being cut off…”

    8 – The Smile, The Face

    rehearsed your lines with rhythmic details, they match the pounding in my

    9 – A Sin To Hold On To

    “If you’ve got the time, then I’ve got the
    reason for the sin”

    10 – Piggy Bank Lies

    lies were wealth, you’d need help counting riches from your mouth’s piggy bank”

    11 – The Edge Of The World

    “My intentions were to never give myself to
    anyone… Look what I’ve done”

    12 – The Ghost Of You

    “Esta noche serás mía.”

    13 – Open Hands, Closed Eyes

    a look around, where is your hope found.
    Is it the ones you love, or just your bank account…”

    And there you have it.
    Every song on this album contains, at the VERY LEAST, one line that will be quoted all across the facebook/myspace/twitterverse. You’re impressed (I can tell) and you can’t even hear the music that’s playing behind the words. Combine this with all that awesome stuff I said at the beginning of the review?
    Great. Album.

  7. Hedley’s new album Never Too Late

    April 14, 2009 by J-Man

    Never Too Late

    There’s a band called Hedley that you have never heard of. A guy named Jacob Hoggard is their lead singer. Tommy Mac plays bass. Dave Rosin plays guitar for them. Chris Crippin plays the drums. Not ringing any bells? Let me give you a list of reasons (complete with bullet points) your innocent ignorance is ridiculous. In three years, this band has:

    • Taken two albums double platinum
    • Released seven #1 songs
    • Beat out Nickelback and Avril Lavigne on Nielsen’s BDS Top 10 Artist Airplay
    • Toured with Nickelback, Sum 41, Yellowcard, 3 Days Grace, Finger Eleven, and BON FRICKEN JOVI.

    So why have you never heard them? Canadia has been keeping them secret, that’s why. I’m fairly certain that our northern neighbors have some sort of Weapon X-like facility where they genetically engineer rock stars. As with all of Canada’s radio-take-over artists, Hedley is now headed down our way with their exclusive U.S. release, Never Too Late. On this album, we get all seven #1 singles along with other songs from their two double platinum releases that we didn’t get to buy due to not being Canadian.

    The first track on the album, “She’s So Sorry”, hits hard and gives you a taste of the band’s rock influence. I immediately thought of Billy Talent when the vocals started, and that is a very good thing. It’s a powerful start to a well rounded album.

    They’ve got a bit of the “producer added electronica” curse that seems to be plaguing bands today (electronic drums on “Bone Shatter”, synth noises on “Hand Grenade”, keyboard track on “On My Own” without a keyboardist in the band), but it’s not so bad that it distracts from the obvious talent these guys bring to the table.

    The reggae influence on the title track “Never Too Late” was an awesome surprise. The band pays tribute to Jacob Hoggard’s pop star days on Canadian Idol with “For the Nights I Can’t Remember”. They round out the album with a couple of well placed ballads, ensure that they’ll be played at every graduation with “Old School”, and seem to have put together a record that’s probably going to go platinum here in the U.S. just like it did in Canada. I’m going to buy it, and I got it for free already.

  8. Anarbor’s new album Free Your Mind

    March 9, 2009 by J-Man

    Anarbor’s new EP Free Your Mind hits the shelves on March 10, and if you are a fan of music, I suggest you pick it up. I’ve been listening to it almost non-stop since I got it for review (I paused briefly to sleep once or twice) and I’ve yet to get tired of Anarbor’s high energy, catchy sound. Hopeless records made a good decision picking these guys up.

    Reading up on the band, the first thing that caught my eye was their honesty. They are Pop-Rock. They call themselves Pop-Rock. They make a point to not have any instrument on their album that they don’t play live. To quote their guitarist Mike Kitlas, “The distinctive sound we are reaching for is rock and roll… We are going for a very raw and real sound for this record.” They stuck to this mantra on every song. You get the feeling listening to this album that the songs would sound very similar if you were listening to the band practice in a garage, and that’s not a bad thing. Every song feels genuine and real.

    The two founding members of the band, Mike Kitlas and Slade Echeverria, have been friends since kindergarten. They met up with their drummer, Greg Garrity, in middle school, and finished up their lineup with Adam Juwig on guitar shortly thereafter. After listening to them, it’s not hard to tell that these guys have pretty much grown up together. Every piece of the band seems to both stand out on its own and support the other pieces equally. It’s obvious that they all enjoy working together, and they do it well.

    My favorite song on the album, hands down, is the closer, “Always Dirty, Never Clean”. In it, they put the cookie-cutter music industry on blast. Every song ends with a very simple, yet poignant question: “What the f*ck happened to Rock and Roll?” I myself have asked this question on countless Nickleback-related occasions. They go on to challenge the “image before talent” mentality of pop music with the last line in their chorus, “Music is what you hear, and not what you see.” Preach on Anarbor. Preach on. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this band. They’re currently on the Take Action Tour with Cute Is What We Aim For, Breathe Carolina, Meg & Dia, and Every Avenue. If I can catch one of these shows, I’m definitely going to. I suggest you do the same.

    I am definitely looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this band. They’re currently on the Take Action Tour with Cute Is What We Aim For, Breathe Carolina, Meg & Dia, and Every Avenue. If I can catch one of these shows, I’m definitely going to. I suggest you do the same.

  9. Thursday’s new album Common Existence

    February 2, 2009 by J-Man

    I’m supposed to be reviewing Thursday’s new album Common Existence. It’s the band’s first album to be released on Epitaph Records. It’s the 5th full length album of their twelve year career. It lives up to Thursday’s signature high-energy multi-layered sound, and the music seems good.

    The reason I say “seems”, is because the recording/production/mastering value on this CD is so crappy, every song on it seemed to melt into the next without distinguishing itself from the song before it. I couldn’t pick out a “favorite song”. There wasn’t a song that made me want to play it over and over again, singing along. For the majority of the time I was listening to the album, I couldn’t even pick out what Geoff Rickly (lead singer) was singing about.

    The album was recorded at Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studios, and I kind of wonder if maybe his studio is literally a box full of tar. The vocals sound like they are being sung through a can, in a garage. The drums sound like they were recorded in the same can. All of the instruments are mixed too high, and drown out the vocals throughout most of the songs. This is a big mistake for a band that is so lyrically driven.

    All of these things put together makes for a very messy sounding album that is almost immediately forgettable.

    As far as I can tell, Thursday brought the rock like they always do. Concerning Common Existence the band has said that Epitaph really encouraged them to be more socially and politically active, leading to songs like the very personal “Friends in the Armed Forces”. I really can’t wait to see them play some of these songs live, since I really had a hard time enjoying the recordings of them.


    -Thursday is still awesome

    -This album probably has some very good songs on it

    -Dave Fridmann and the production crew at Tarbox Road Studios really dropped the ball on this one.