BRIEF LIVES: Whistleblower: 7″

Whistleblower cover art

This quartet from Virginia give us two tracks of post hardcore that gets under your skin and won’t let go. A bit of the old D.C. sound, a bit FUGAZI, JAWBOX and QUICKSAND meets 1.6 BAND all meet in their sound, but not in a way that takes away from the band, but just gives the songs a little bit of texture.

“Whistleblower” has a nice shouted lead vocal, and terrific wall of noise music creating a great sound with thick bass and guitar playing that goes from gentle to ringing without missing a beat. “No Voice” is a bit faster and has that fat bass going through it, more shouted vocals, inspired guitar playing and as in the last song, drumming that gets your head bobbing and your feet tapping.

Two songs, both winners that will grab you and make you sad that there are only two songs on here. These guys really need to get an album out.

PLACES TO HIDE: Almost Nothing: CD

Almost Nothing cover art

This is the debut album from this quartet out of Atlanta, GA that has touches of ’90s indie, but not the bad, pretentious crap that made you want to throw up, instead they conjure up some grooves that SUPERCHUNK would have killed for. The band is made up of Kyle Swick on guitar and vocals,
Deborah Hudson on guitar and vocals, Gavin Caffrey on drums. and Steve Valero on bass and the dual vocals make this a standout.

The male and female vocals give this a very cool sound, especially since they aren’t perfect and it gives it a feeling of being in a live situation listening to them instead of a sterile recording. The songs are all about youth, sex, drugs, and drinking, but not cheesy or contrived, just their experiences and thoughts that are catchy and a lot of fun to listen to. The band is creating a great noise behind the vocals with everything a little sloppy, disjointed and probably one of the better albums that I’ve heard in a long time by a new band. The band scores points for really making me want to go see them live and buy a t-shirt from them, not a lot of bands can pull that one off.

Possibly one of those albums that will get dragged out to all of my friend’s houses to make them hear what a great debut album this is. Their E.P. from last year is good, but this shows them getting even better and growing as a band.

THE MISSION: The Brightest Light (Deluxe): CD

This new album is the first from THE MISSION which currently features original members Wayne Hussey, Simon Hinkler and Craig Adams, plus the addition of new dummer Mike Kelly. This is their first new album since 2007′s God Is a Bullet, and the first featuring Hussey, Hinkler and Adams since 1990′s Carved In Sand.

If you’ve come expecting the band to be treading through the past with a sound-a-like album of goth rock you’ve got a shock coming buddy! This is the sound of a band who is back in their pristine fighting weight and ready to take on those who doubt their power and commitment. The songs are bombastic, but more rock with some goth thrown in and I’m glad that they updated their sound and didn’t just fall back on their old sound. The album starts with the eight minute “Black Cat Gone” and sets the pace for the album with its power and energy. “Everything But The Squeal”, and “Sometimes the Brightest Light Comes From the Darkest Place” give us a bit of the old sound mixed with the almost CULT rock sound, then the almost total metal track “Drag” comes in and brings to mind ZODIAC MINDWARP and is one kick-ass track! “Born Under a Good Sign” and “The Girl In the Fur Skin Rug” bring back their old sound with great textures and then “When the Trap Clicks Shut” are two reflective and moody pieces that sound fantastic with the lights turned down and cranked up loud. “Just Another Pawn In Your Game” is a great song that has a nice acoustic sound and lots of harmonica in it giving this a song that would sound great in a pub. The last three songs take us back to the older sound with Hussey giving a fantastic performance vocally in these songs. The second CD starts off with “I’m Fallin’ Again” a quiet song that keeps on building and building and just gets huge and bombastic, “The Long Way ‘Round Is Sometimes the Only Way Home” is a beautiful mellow song that I can’t stop listening to. The other six songs are demos from Hussey, a nice way to see how the songs started out.

A terrific double CD that holds some surprises for the older listeners, but worth every second of your time. It may not be the band of old, but they have giving us something that is diverse and possibly one of the best albums of their career.

THE MISSION: Silver: Double DVD & CD Special Edition

A fantastic collection for fans and newbies alike, the best of THE MISSION performed live, the perfect way to hear them and now see three shows from their 25th anniversary tour in 2011. The band got three of their original members back together, Wayne Hussey, Craig Adams and Simon Hinkler plus new drummer Mike Kelly to give the punters a real treat.

The band is tighter than a frog’s ass under water and they have never sounded better or looked happier together than on this collection. On the first DVD, recorded on Oct. 22, 2011, they play their most beloved songs with a true love for the music and the fans who according to the interviews on here, have come from around the world to see them. The fans show their love of the band and the band gives them everything that they have on these shows and it truly makes for a terrific experience that will stick with you. You get behind the scenes from London Brixton Academy, fan interviews from London Brixton Academy, and rehearsal footage for the 2011 tour on the first DVD. You also get to hear Hussey take a shot at his old band THE SISTERS OF MERCY and his surprisingly good sense of humor, no dour goth guy he is. The second DVD has two shows on it, the Nov. 1, 2011, show in Cologne, Germany, plus eight more songs recorded the night before in Frankfurt. The performance is every bit as exciting and energetic as the first disc and the CD features most of the Cologne concert.

If you are a fan, you will play this over and over and this is also a great introduction for the newer fan curious about the band. I loved every second of this release and know that it will be played a lot in my house.

POP WILL EAT ITSELF: Dos Dedos Mis Amigos / A Lick of the Old Cassette Box: CD

A remastered and expanded fifth album from PWEI and now you can get to hear what would have been their sixth album for the first time. The original album has been expanded with demos and selected b-sides and remixes plus a detailed essay and liner notes from guitarist Adam Mole.

This is the album that put them on the charts around the world and got people on the dance floors and now it gets a fresh sound that gives the songs more of a clean sound with the instruments jumping into your ears and giving you a sense of the energy and power that PWEI put into this release. The songs all sound fresh and make you want to get up and dance like a madman around your house and the addition of the bonus tracks just adds to the terrific original album, including the great singles “R.S.V.P.” and “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” which I played the hell out of when this album first came out in 1994. The album goes into a more industrial direction than their previous albums, but still retains the same feel of their older albums. Their unreleased album goes even further into industrial with some techno touches as well and would have been a very good follow-up to Dos Dedos, but at least we get a chance to hear where they were going before money and life got in the way of this great band.

I had a chance to see these guys live once and had to pass it up, at least I have the chance of listening to this great remaster and enjoy them whenever I want, and now in improved sound…it’s some consolation. Grab a copy and hear what a band at the top of their game sounds like and what could have been…if only.

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Surrealistic Pillow: CD

The second and arguably, the best album from JEFFERSON AIRPLANE has been beautifully remastered with crisp sound and it fills in the spaces that were missing on previous releases. This is the first album to feature Grace Slick on vocals and has the top ten singles “White Rabbit” and Somebody To Love”, which became classics not just of the band, but rock’n’roll classics.

The mix of folk rock and psychedelia was original at the time with bands taking music into wild directions that were never thought to be put together in those ways before, but while some bands faded away, these guys put out a classic that still sounds fantastic today. The album goes into softer, folky songs like  “Comin’ Back To Me”, hard-hitting rockers like “Somebody To Love”, and the complete weird-out psychedelic track “White Rabbit” and flows perfectly. The music can still grip you and pull you into its weave of delirious excitement and that shows just how good of a band they were. The cleaned up sound makes the instruments sound a lot clearer and more powerful than before and you can really hear the emotion in the band’s performance. The packaging is impressive, a reproduction of the album jacket, a black CD that looks like the record did, and a cool OBI strip like they have on Japanese CDs.

If you are a fan, you need this album, if you are looking for the definitive album by them, get this one today. All of their first nine albums have been remastered and are out now on Culture Factory USA, get out your credit cards and grab them!