These NYC post-hardcore supergroups are getting crazy, man. Now they're even moving to the opposite coast and forming supergroups with one another. Josh Loucka (vocals, guitar) was last seen fronting Shift, which borrowed a lot from Quicksand but was still pretty damn good. Good enough that the drummer (Samantha Maloney) went on to be in Hole and then Motley Crue. But what of our man Josh? He moves to the left coast with guitarist Matt Kane, and then they hook up with yet another NYC expat, Gavin Van Vlack from Burn and Die 116. Throw in Kyle Stevenson from Flashpoint, and you've got Big Collapse. So what do these guys sound like? Well, to tell you the truth, I can't really phrase it better than the press kit does: "We've been told that we sound like a cross between Helmet and early Def Leppard." Damn right they do, and that's a beautiful thing. Basically expanding on the poppier slant that Shift was taking in its latter days, Big Collapse fuses loud, metallic guitars with catchy melodies and some damn good songwriting. There's not a lame song in the lineup, in my opinion. Prototype will have you rockin' like Dokken in no time. (You may be wondering, "is that a good thing"? Two words: Dream Warriors.) (MHo)
(The Militia Group -- 1215 N. Red Gum Ste. L, Anaheim, CA. 92806; http://www.themilitiagroup.com/; Big Collapse -- http://www.bigcollapse.com/)
Blow Up Hollywood
Bands that rely on multimedia concepts to hide the fact their songs are not that special are disappointing. Unlike Pink Floyd or Manitoba, bands for which the stage show is almost as important as the music, Blow Up Hollywood's songs often sound end up sounding like the lamest ballad -- only with better instrumentation.
Fake certainly leaves me torn. On one side, I think the music is brilliant -- it's slow, melodic, spacey, and beautiful. Much of the album could be the soundtrack to any movie. But on the other side, the singer's voice practically ruins the experience. It's not that he has a bad voice (think Ed Kowalczyk from the band Live), but it's just that the music stands better on its own.
"Born" leads off the album, and it's a great start. Most of the songs on Fake are very slow, almost droning electronica, and yet the album works as a whole -- each song keeps your interest well. The main problem with Fake is that the band seems to takes itself too seriously -- the lyrics are not as deep as the lead singer (the band leaves itself unknown on purpose -- an "egoless environment") thinks.
The press release touts the band's songs as giving the feeling "you are Neil Armstrong walking across the moon's surface listening to your favorite tune on an iPod." With music like this, you'd think that the band would come off like Pink Floyd or Godspeed You! Black Emperor; unfortunately, it comes off more like Live or David Gray. (DAC)
(mj12music -- 110-45 Queens Blvd #910, Forest Hills, NY. 11375; http://www.blowuphollywood.com/)
The Boxing Lesson
Normally when the hype surrounding a band sparks comparisons to the likes of Radiohead, Coldplay, and (ahem) Pink Floyd, my skepticism meter goes off the charts. I imagine a bunch of guys in a garage and chomping E's while thinking, "Yeah, we do kind of sound like The Verve. Maybe we should make an album..."
Luckily for them, The Boxing Lesson's EP lives up to the hype. The L.A. band takes its influences -- the obligatory Radiohead, a smattering of early Coldplay, and some Ride -- and weaves four tracks of modern space-rock that is surely only a brief taste of what's to come from this band.
Unlike its British influences, however, The Boxing Lesson -- Paul Waclawsky (vocals, guitar, synth), John Treanor (guitar), J. Phil Cobb (guitar, polymoog), Chris Judd (bass), and Casey Jones (drums) -- could use a bit of help with its lyrics. For example, "You tie me up like gridlock" (from "Motorola"). Thankfully, the music on The Boxing Lesson is so beautiful that the band's only weakness is very easily ignored. (DAC)
(Send Me Your Head Records -- 1337 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles, CA. 90026; http://sendmeyourhead.com/; The Boxing Lesson -- http://www.theboxinglesson.com/)
I firmly believe that without meth, albums like Breather Resist's latest effort, Charmer, would never get made. Not that music like this -- I've heard the term "screamo" used to describe it -- doesn't have any appeal. The music's not bad -- loud is often very good. It's just that the lyrics, or at least the way the lyrics are sung (and I use that term loosely), is often grating. In my opinion, Corrosion of Conformity's "Ahh Blugh (Milking the Sick Farce)" held more promise than anything on Charmer.
But that's just me.
Don't get me wrong -- Charmer is not a bad album. Luckily for Breather Resist, by the time the third song ("Midas In Reverse") comes on, the listener's brain is so pummelled into submission that it is impossible not to get excited and anticipate what comes next. And what comes next is an impressive selection of hardcore songs that hit slam-fisted right into your face -- listen and try not to get amped up. Sure, go ahead. Try. Good luck.
"As Far As Goodbyes Go" is the album's standout and, along with "Long Nights, Short Fuses" and the aptly-titled "Amphetamine Praise," will make believers out of even the most skeptical listener. It definitely charmed me. (DAC)
(Jade Tree Records -- 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE. 19810; http://www.jadetree.com/; Breather Resist -- http://www.breatherresist.com/)