The Loved Ones
Keep Your Heart
(Fat Wreck Chords)
Philadelphia punk trio The Loved Ones present Keep Your Heart to us at the end of February, an album of short, fast and aggressive punk rock tracks. While the songs are solid and even fun, they’re no different from what’s already been done. Pretty typical punk – so much so that a lot of songs blend together if you don’t give them more than a few listens. “Sickening” adds diversity half way through the record by slowing down the pace and showing us a bit of Dave Hause’s vocal range, and “100K,” which has a great combination of quick punk chords and a catchy tune. Definitely an upbeat album, but The Loved Ones could be a little more original if they want to be remembered.
-Stephanie Ng Wan
Lights And Sounds
Yellowcard’s new opus is proof that this band has grown up. The record starts off with a 90-second piano and violin intro entitled “Three Flights Up,” reminiscent of a movie intro and which foreshadows the increased use of piano and strings that are to come. This 14-track record produced by Neal Avron is a beautiful piece of work which contains interesting guitar solos, nice bass lines and even includes trumpets. Yellowcard has not completely let go of their past, providing a few fast-paced songs such as “Holly Wood Died” and “Two Weeks From Twenty.” The one thing that worries me is that it will be hard for them to reproduce the record live unless they decide to tour with an orchestra, which is highly unlikely. Lyrics touch on political subjects, growing up and relationships. Best song: “Rough Landing, Holly.” 4/5
Matchbook Romance’s sophomore release, Voices, is mostly a mixture of epic-sounding pop punk tracks that often seems to be searching for its own place in a genre where so many bands sound too much alike. There is a lot of experimentation, and the orchestral-inspired power guitar ballads are a nice touch. But singer Andrew Jordan’s voice doesn’t particularly stand out, so Matchbook Romance’s record could easily get lost in the shuffle of similar acts. The most interesting tunes are “Monsters”, which opens with an unusual but catchy guitar riff amongst background clapping, “Singing Bridges (We all Fall)”, with its guitar solos reminiscent of space and art rock as well as the mid tempo of “What a Sight”, that almost resembles an alternative rock track. Sometimes the songs are so varied that you’re left wondering if a second album is just too early to tell what exactly Matchbook Romance are about.
-Stephanie Ng Wan
The debut album from this Montreal four piece is what real music is all about. Rhythm, attitude and flare combine to make this versatile record more than worth a listen. Not only is this band talented musically, but the album includes songs in both english and french, making it a true Montreal creation.
Fluid Rouge’s sound is lighthearted, head-bopping rock ‘n’ roll that’ll have you singing along in no time. They’ve harnessed the melody and catchiness of the Beatles and The Doors, producing songs that’ll get stuck in your head and heart. Keep an eye out for these guys; they’re going places. With Fluid Rouge, you can’t go wrong. 4.5/5
Raising the Fawn
The Maginot Line
Due out in March 2006, The Maginot Line by Raising the Fawn starts off with a one-minute instrumental song called “Pyotr” to set the mood and feel of the album. The Canadian rock trio offer an eleven song album with periodic instrumental interludes in between tracks that can go over seven minutes in length. John Crossingham is not afraid to sing at different vocal levels, even bringing it up to high-pitched tones on tracks like “The Maginot Line”. Some might be adverse to the lengthy guitar solos, thinking that they drag on for too much time, but the use of other instruments during these lyrical breaks are refreshing and keep you interested in where Raising the Fawn are trying to take you on their songs. Their sound is hard to define, straddling between alternative, folk, and even indie. The Maginot Line may be slow-paced, moody and diverse, but that’s precisely what makes this record worth more than a few listens.
-Stephanie Ng Wan