The Capsules – “Long Distance Dedication”
Pretty, pretty pop is always the name of the game from these former local mainstays. Featuring Julie and Jason Shields, the Capsules can no longer to be said to feature “former members of Shallow.” The Capsules have become an act in their own right, and even though it’s been nearly five years since their last record, and they’ve moved out of the area, and haven’t really played any shows in over a year and a half. This is what used to be called “space rock,” and it’s all swimmy and pretty and sounds like what music ought to sound like when you’ve just drank an awful lot of very expensive vodka tonics. Julie’s voice is, as per usual, childlike, yet knowing, and the instrumentation ebbs and flows gorgeously. This is one of those records that doesn’t really do anything the previous one’s haven’t, but it’s done well, and there’s no one else doing it.
Split Lip Rayfield – “I’ll Be Around”
Is it wrong to judge a band based on what they now lack, rather than what is still extant? Because it seems like Split Lip Rayfield’s remaining members are mourning the loss of Kirk Rundstrum, and it’s really affected the state of their music. Now, albums to a fallen a band member are nothing new, and musicians from AC/DC to Ozzy Osbourne have moved on after the tragic death of a treasured band member. Still, the mood always tends to be somewhat somber, if not downright dark. I’m not saying that this is Split Lip’s Back In Black or anything, but it’s certainly not as upbeat as past efforts. This isn’t necessarily surprising, considering the band lost not only one of its founding members, but their primary songwriter (although, all things considered, I’ve always like Gottstine’s songs better). But, if you’re looking for balls-to-the-wall bluegrass anthems, here you’ll be a little let down. This is probably the closest the band’s ever been to “traditional” bluegrass.
Something Fierce – “There Are No Answers”
Leather jackets? Strange sunglasses? I think we’ve got ourselves a new wave punk band, kids. Take equal parts the Briefs and Teenage Bottlerocket, and you’ve got Something Fierce. They sound like a band you’d find on Dirtnap, with garage-y recording levels, some new wave accents, and snotty, snotty vocals. It’s ridiculously fucking fun, and while I’ve probably got seven bands on my shelves that sound just like this, it’s hard to say no to a formula that works so well. The Buzzcocks and dBs used it to great effect, and lord knows the Spits and the Ergs have taken it to the logical extreme as of late, but there always seems to be a band that puts a new twist on it, and Something Fierce is just the latest in a long line. You might be able to dance to this if they slowed it down, but in the meantime, just bounce around the room like a five year old who got into some espresso beans.
The Fake Boys – “Pop Punk Is Dead”
It’s really never fair to judge a band by the album cover art, but man… this is fucking AWFUL to look at. Seriously, it hurts my goddamn eyes and offends me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Not surprisingly, there are no art credits in the CD. I wouldn’t take credit for this crap, either. The music doesn’t fare much better. There’s a lot of good bands keeping pop punk alive right now, but the Fake Boys hew closer to the pop edge of the equation. The band sounds a lot like New Found Glory, and while that sound has its fans, I’m not a big supporter of the nasal whine school of pop punk vocals.
The Prozacs – “Playing the Chords We Love”
Basic pop-punk. It’s good, it’s catchy, it’s fast. If you like the Queers, Screeching Weasel, the Mr. T Experience, or any other Lookout Records stalwart of the 1990s, then you’ll like this. Other than that, it’s not really anything that jumps out ahead of the pack a la the Ergs or Teenage Bottlerocket. Capable, but not extraordinary.