Already Heard
FESTIVAL PREVIEW: READING AND LEEDS FESTIVAL 2014 - 20 MUST-SEE ACTS
It’s no doubt it has been an incredible summer of music, and it’s not over yet as the legendary Reading and Leeds Festival takes place this weekend. With dozens of acts playing across 8 stages over 3 days, there is lot to choose from. As always the Already Heard team has got together to pick out what we think are the 20 must-see acts at Reading and Leeds 2014.
HEVY FEST 2014
Check out our full coverage from this years Hevy Fest right here!
ALREADY HEARD RECOMMENDS: BLOODY KNEES
Bloody Knees are the latest band to emerge from the UK lo-fi punk scene. On August 25th the quartet release their new EP, 'Stitches' which promises to be a catchy and raw in equal measures. We spoke to vocalist Bradley Griffiths to discuss the new EP, joining Dog Knights Productions, being part of the UK emo and lo-fi resurgence and more.
EXCLUSIVE EP PREMIER - FROM HER EYES - DEMONS EP
If metalcore is your thing then say hello to From Her Eyes. The Welsh quartet are exclusively streaming their debut EP 'Demons' right here on Already Heard.
ALREADY HEARD SESSION: DIAMOND YOUTH - DON’T FEEL REAL
During their recent first ever run of the UK with Citizen and Headroom, Justin Gilman and
Sam Trapkin of Diamond Youth met up with Already Heard ahead of the band’s London show
to record an ‘Already Heard Session.'


Versus: Blink-182 - ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ vs ‘Untitled’

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Often in music the word “legend” is thrown around too easily but in the pop-punk world Blink-182 are just that - legendary!

Since forming in 1992 through mutual friends, bassist Mark Hoppus and guitarist Tom DeLonge have gone on to become icons of the genre, and along with second drummer, Travis Barker, are one of the most influential bands in pop-punk.

Having released a couple of releases within the underground scene during their early years, Blink-182 started making momentum with their 1997 LP, 'Dude Ranch', with its lead single, 'Dammit (Growing Up)' receiving national airplay but its with their 1999 follow-up, 'Enema of the State' which is when things really picked up for the trio.

Led by the worldwide hits that was 'All the Small Things' and 'What's My Age Again?', the record truly broke Blink-182 into the mainstream. Two years later, the band repeated the success with 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket'. The 2001 record peaked the US Billboard 200 at number 1, and saw the band continue to tour in more arenas globally.

2003 saw the band take a somewhat change in musical direction. 'Untitled' took a more personal and darker approach which saw the band more away from their standard pop-punk sound. Nevertheless the change was welcomed by both fans and critics.

However in February 2005, the band confirmed an “indefinite hiatus”, with DeLonge become frustrated with creative freedom and the band’s heavy touring schedule resulting in time away from his young family.

The resulting breakdown in communications led to Delonge starting a new atmospheric arena-rock band called Angels and Airwaves, whilst Hoppus and Barker continued to work together in a new alt-rock band known as +44. Whilst both bands had an enthusiastic following from fans, critics were mixed about both AVA’s 'We Don't Need to Whisper' and +44’s 'When Your Heart Stops Beating'.

In February, 5 years on from confirming their hiatus, DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker appeared together at the Grammy Awards and announced they would be reuniting. After a North American reunion tour that year, followed by European festival appearances a year later, the bands released 'Neighborhoods' in September 2011. Much like the album’s recording sessions, the band’s returning effort was disjointed and lacked consistency of previous efforts.

In 2012 the band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a UK and European tour and ended the year with the release of 'Dogs Eating Dogs', a self-released and self-produced EP which saw the band work together in the studio. The EP benefitted from this by being a more focused set of songs that had elements of progression yet were distinctive Blink-182 at the core.

Now, as the band are set to play and headline the Reading and Leeds Festival this weekend, we’ve decided to bring back our "Versus" for a brief cameo appearance as Senior Editor Sean Reid and contributing writer Dane Wright battle out as they discuss their favourite Blink-182 albums.

Sean explains why 2001’s 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket' is not only the band’s best album but one of the best pop-punk albums ever! Whereas Dane tells us why their 'Untitled' effort is their magnum opus.

What do you consider to be Blink-182’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (by Sean Reid)
I’ll start off my defence of my chosen album by saying I consider Blink-182 being the first band I was an all-round fan of. They were the first band I saw live and the first band where I would go out and buy every album. Sure they’re not the most perfect band in the world but as a teenager they were “my band”.

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Versus: The Replacements - ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’ vs ‘Let It Be’

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Forming in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979, The Replacements are considered to be one of the pioneers for alternative rock. For most of their career, the band’s line up included guitarist/vocalist Paul Westerberg, guitarist Bob Stinson, bassist Tommy Stinson and drummer Chris Mars. This lasted up until 1986 after Bob Stinson left due to in-fighting with Westerberg plus substance abuse problems. Slim Dunlap would take Stinson’s place, whilst Steve Foley replaced Chris Mars as the quartet’s drummer in 1990. Yet, the band would ultimately split in 1991 pursuing various projects; Westerberg pursued a solo career, whilst Tommy played in short lived but fan favourite projects such as Bash & Pop and Perfect before replacing Duff McKagan as the bassist for Guns N’ Roses in 1998. Stinson’s half brother and former guitarist Bob died in 1995 from alcohol abuse, whilst second drummer Foley died in 2008 from an accidental overdose from prescription medication.

It wasn’t until 2012 that The Replacements would resurface. Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars recorded an EP entitled 'Songs for Slim', aptly named, for it was released in 2013 to help benefit former bandmate Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke. Apart from Mars, The Replacements would play their first shows after 22 years at Riot Fest in Toronto, Chicago and Denver in late August and September last year. Filling out the rest of the current line up is current Weezer and The Vandals drummer Josh Freese, and on guitar, Dave Minehan from Boston band The Neighborhoods. The Replacements haven’t looked back since, and Westerberg has said they neither will rule out touring or a new album.

In terms of style and in contrast to their contemporaries, the band plays heart on sleeve punk influenced rock songs, with Westerberg’s raw yells and self disparaging lyrics. Their first three albums, including 'Hey Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash' in 1981, 'Hootenanny' in 1983, and 'Let It Be' in 1984, were released on Minneapolis indie label Twin/Tone Records. Whilst the first two was influenced by raucous post punk and hardcore from the time, the third strayed towards more melody. This would play a part in them being signed to a major label, and influencing the group’s various line up changes. They signed to Sire Records in 1984, thus releasing 1985’s 'Tim', 1987’s 'Pleased to Meet Me', 1989’s 'Don't Tell a Soul', and 1990’s 'All Shook Down' (the latter considered by many to be a Paul Westerberg solo record). 

In their heyday, the band were known for their unpredictable live shows. More often than not, their performances would involve them being intoxicated and trashing their instruments. However, they would equally play sober also at unpredictable points, critics often citing them as being brilliant in performance in such a state of mind.

In line with the unpredictable nature of their performances, we at Already Head have also veered clear of the expected this week by not tying "Versus" with a news related topic. Thus we shall ask the debated question on what is The Replacements' best album. Our Guest Writer this week, Harker lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Boniface, defends 'Don't Tell a Soul', often considered to be the band’s weakest album. On the other side, our very own Assistant Editor, Aaron Lohan, boldly claims why 'Let It Be' is the band’s magnum opus.

What do you consider to be The Replacements’ best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Don’t Tell a Soul (by Mark Boniface, Harker)
I feel I need to start by saying, ‘Don’t Tell A Soul’ isn’t my favorite Replacements album. In fact, I probably wouldn’t ever be able to favor a single album of their back catalogue, as each record shows the band in an ever-changing transitional stage. First album ‘Hey Ma…’ was a scatty, raw and powerful homage to basement bands of the early eighties, while the last album, ‘All Shook Down’, was a fantastic Alt Rock album by an ever-important underdog band taking a final bow.

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Versus: Weezer - ‘Pinkerton’ vs ‘Weezer (The Blue Album)’

Forming in 1992, L.A. alternative rock band, Weezer, took the world by storm with their first 1993 self titled album (also know as 'The Blue Album' to fans), released through Geffen Records. After the touring cycle of their initially negatively received, but cult favourite 1996 second LP, 'Pinkerton', the quartet went on a hiatus due to life’s pressures and commitments, from 1998 to 2000. 

They would eventually return at the dawn of the new millennium, releasing 'Weezer (The Green Album)' in 2001, 'Maladroit' in 2002, and 'Make Believe' in 2005. The band would eventually switch over to Interscope Records in 2008 to release their third self titled album (aka 'The Red Album'), and 'Raditude' the following year. After an estimated two decades of being on major labels, they would sign to renowned indie label Epitaph Records and release their eighth studio album, entitled 'Hurley'.

Besides releasing a multitude of albums, the band have had various incarnations in their line up; the only consistent members have been lead vocalist/guitarist Rivers Cuomo and drummer Patrick Wilson. In terms of style, Weezer are known for their catchy pop alt rock style, funny music videos and personal, awkward but charming lyrics. Their influence is found throughout all forms of alternative, punk and emo styles.

The band are currently in the studio, recording their ninth studio album, with Ric Ocasek, who previously worked on the 'Blue' and 'Green' albums. Speaking of which, this Saturday marks the twentieth anniversary of the aforementioned debut “blue” coloured album. To celebrate, we at Already Heard have decided to answer that controversial question: what is Weezer's best album? To answer this, two individuals have battled it out in typical "Versus" style. In one corner, our own Alex Phelan returns for another round by stating a case for second album ‘Pinkerton’. On the opposite side meanwhile, Jack Brown of alt rockers Pretend Happy has decided to argue for that Twenty year old blue coloured debut LP.

What do you consider to be Weezer’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Pinkerton (by Alex Phelan)
'Pinkerton'was never meant to achieve greatness. Weezer’s follow up to the hugely celebrated ‘Blue Album’ was a flop, mustering terrible sales figures and receiving heavy criticism from the media. It took the world a little while to realise the ugly duckling would soon turn into a beautiful swan for those who could spare the time and attention.

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Versus: Quicksand - ‘Slip’ vs ‘Manic Compression’

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Comprising of former members from several New York hardcore bands including Gorilla Biscuits, Bold and Youth of Today, post hardcore/alt metal quartet Quicksand formed in 1990. The line up includes vocalist guitarist Walter Schreifels, guitarist Tom Capone, bassist Sergio Vega and drummer Alan Cage. After releasing a self-titled EP on Revelation Records, the band would go on to release two albums on the major label circuit; 'Slip' on Polydor Records in 1993, and 'Manic Compression' for Island Records in 1995. After extensive touring in support of both releases, plus pressure from their labels and within the band, they decided to separate for the first time in 1995.

Eventually, Quicksand would reform from 1997 to 1999, and would attempt to record a third full length. Unfortunately, this would see them split yet again, and also abandon the aforementioned album. Following this, Schreifels would go on to form Rival School (2001-2003, reformed in 2008) and perform solo; Capone played guitar for Instruction since 2002 for the majority of their existence; Vega temporarily replaced Deftones bassist Chi Cheng since 2009, before becoming a permanent member after his death; and Alan Cage has worked with alt metal act Enemy, New Idea Society and hardcore group 108 in the last decade.

In 2012, despite intentionally playing a special “one-off” set during the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary shows, the band decided to reform for a second time, and they have wowed audiences at shows ever since.

To coincide with the band’s upcoming slot at Belgium’s Groezrock Festival next weekend, this week’s "Versus" is dedicated to Quicksandand their unwavering legacy. Assistant Editor Aaron Lohan has decided to stand by debut 'Slip'. In the other corner, Heather Robertson goes all out arguing for second album 'Manic Compression'.

What do you consider to be Quicksand’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Slip (by Aaron Lohan)
There’s always that one band you wish you’d gotten into sooner, but perhaps that’s fate, or to be more realistic, a massive inconvenience. I heard of Quicksand’s name a few times, but it wasn’t until the band reformed (for the second time in 2012) that I began to investigate their legacy. Two incredible albums and a solid EP; according to my results, after endless hours of exposure, a consistent but short discography to the core. Yet, when it comes to their best album out of the two they’ve released, that title is claimed by none other than the genre defining debut LP ‘Slip’.

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Versus: Alkaline Trio - ‘From Here to Infirmary’ vs. ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire’

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With their return to the UK imminent, the latest edition of "Versus" sees us putting the focus on Alkaline Trio.

Since forming in 1996, the Chicago band have released 9 albums under their belt. Add to that several EP’s, and forming a handful of side-projects, and you’re left with a dense discography with plenty to pick from.

With the band’s roots firmly in the punk/hardcore Chicago scene, the partnership of guitarist/vocalist Matt Skiba and bassist/vocalist Dan Andriano has been the core ingredient to the band’s punk rock sound.

Alkaline Trio are one of the most influential punk rock bands in recent years, and for this installment of "Versus", two members of the Already Heard team have picked out a classic Trio album each with the belief that there chosen album is the band’s best. To begin with self-confessed Trio MEGA fan Jay Sullivan tells us why 'From Here to Infirmary' is the band’s finest work. Whilst Alex Phelan explains how 'Maybe I'll Catch Fire' is a superb example of musical catharsis.

What do you consider to be Alkaline Trio’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From Here to Infirmary (by Jay Sullivan)
Alkaline Trio
are my favourite band, I’m a full-on logo tattooed, card carrying Blood Pact member so I could have argued for any Alkaline Trio album as their best (except maybe the unspeakable 'This Addiction'). However, for me ‘From Here to Infirmary’ stands out as their finest, displaying the right balance between the band’s more punk-orientated older tracks and their poppier latter material.

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Versus: Hot Water Music - ‘Caution’ vs ‘Exister’ vs ‘No Division’

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Since forming in 1993, Gainesville, Florida’s Hot Water Music have been an influential beating heart in the genres of punk, hardcore, post hardcore, indie rock and emo. Named after a book by Charles Bukowski, the band consists of guitarist/vocalist Chuck Ragan, vocalist/guitarist Chris Wollard, bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo. Despite having broken up and reformed various times in their career, the line up has been consistent.

The most recent split was in 2006, where Ragan left the band to pursue a solo career causing the other members to restructure themselves as The Draft. Eventually, by 2008, the gruff laden quartet returned, and have been ploughing through ever since. 

There discography is filled with seven studio albums, over a dozen EPs and two live albums. They’ve been signed to the likes of No Idea, Doghouse, Epitaph, and more recently Rise Records. Yet as previously mentioned, they have an undying vast imprint on the alternative scene as we know it.

In honour of the release of Chuck Ragan’s fourth album 'Till Midnight', we at Already Heard have thought it only right to argue which of his band’s albums is best. In one corner, Jay Sullivan stands by their more recent effort 'Exister'; over the other side, Alex Phelan raises fifth LP 'Caution' on to the pedestal. Additionally, Aaron Lohan has decided to represent and argue why their earlier efforts shouldn’t be forget, which he does via a piece on third effort 'No Division'.

What do you consider to be Hot Water Music's best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Caution (by Alex Phelan)
Hot Water Music
’s decision to make Epitaph Records their new home in 2001 was a divisive one to say the least. Their first album on the new label, ‘A Flight and a Crash’, was a far more accessible release than anything they did at No Idea. The songs were simpler in structure and more tuneful than their earlier material.

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Versus: Comeback Kid - ‘Die Knowing’ vs ‘Wake the Dead’

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At the turn of the century, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Figure Four members, Andrew Neufeld and Jeremy Hiebert formed melodic hardcore group Comeback Kid. With their name based on a headline about hockey player Mario Lamieux coming back to the NHL, the band initially formed with Scott Wade on vocals, Neufeld on rhythm guitar, Hiebert on lead guitar, Kyle Profeta on drums, and Cliff Heide on bass (he would be replaced by Kevin Call in 2003, who would be replaced by Matt Keil in 2008). 

Despite initially being a side project, word of mouth and underground success with debut album 'Turn It Around', released on Facedown Records, led to the outfit being on a full time serious basis. Signing with Victory Records led to their anthemic hardcore punk to be heard further, and also the release of their influential breakthrough LP, 'Wake the Dead' in 2005. 

Despite their continuing rise, the line up would be shook up as vocalist Scott Wade left, being replaced by guitarist Andrew Neufeld, whose position would be taken by Casey Hjelmberg (2007-2012), and since 2012, Stu Ross of Misery Signals/Living with Lions fame. Such a shake up didn’t stop the band from releasing critically acclaimed efforts in the form of 'Broadcasting…' in 2007 and 'Symptoms + Cures' in 2010.

Last year saw the quintet embark on a 10th Anniversary tour of 'Turn It Around' in Europe and North America. This tour exclusively featured former vocalist Wade back in position, with Neufeld reverting back to rhythm guitar. To the delight of fans, the band played material from their first two full lengths.

In celebration of their brilliant AH 5/5 rated fifth LP, ‘Die Knowing’, the team have decided to place Comeback Kid under the “Versus” microscope. In one corner, recently returned AH veteran Mikey Brown speaks from a third person narrative as to why their latest album is the band’s best. Meanwhile, at the opposite end, Chris Mackie from Norwich hardcore boys Free Will, has elected himself to explain why second album, 'Wake the Dead' is the bands best work.

What do you consider to be Comeback Kid's best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Die Knowing (by Mikey Brown)
In a shock revelation to fans everywhere, “music journalist” Mikey Brown (is that even his real name?) states that ‘Die Knowing’ is Comeback Kid’s greatest album to date, ignoring all of their previous releases and acknowledging that their newest album is their best work, despite only being a few weeks old.

It came as a shock to the 23 year amateur “journalist” when listening to the melodic hardcore band’s new album; “When that palm muted intro began I knew that I was onto something much heavier. It was just what I wanted from Comeback Kid and luckily the rest of ‘Die Knowing’ followed suit”. After one listen he knew that it was the band’s best work. Controversial it may be, especially when considering the old phrase ‘their older stuff was better’ was sure to be heard amongst the infamous ‘internet’.

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Versus: The Get Up Kids - ‘Something To Write Home About’ vs ‘Guilt Show’

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Recently Matt Pryor completed a run of UK shows, and in honour of his return to these shores, we thought it’d be good time to pit two albums from Pryor’s most well-known band, The Get Up Kids, against each other.

Formed out of Kansas City in 1995, TGUK became one of the main spearheads of the turn of the millennium emo scene. After the release of a couple of EP’s and their 1997 debut 'Four Minute Mile', a disagreement with the bands label Doghouse Records led them to depart for Vagrant Records, a struggling LA-based independent label. The bands Vagrant debut, 'Something To Write Home About' in 1999 became a breakthrough record for both the band and the emo genre.

With rising popularity due to the success of 'STWHA' and tours alongside Green Day and Weezer, a compilation of b-sides and covers was released in the form of 'Eudora'. Whilst the bands former label (Doghouse) capitalised on the bands new found success by re-releasing 'Four Minute Mile' and combining the bands 'Woodson' and 'Red Letter Day' EP’s as a one-disc release.

2002 saw the release of 'On A Wire' and saw the quintet take a more organic, mature approach that still divides fans and critics now. Two years later 'Guilt Show' arrived and was better received by critics yet the bands personal problems and inner band tensions resulted in the band going on hiatus in 2005.

Over the next three years, the band concentrated on their solo projects, however in 2008 the band reconvened to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 'STWHA' for US and UK dates and a CD/DVD re-release of the album.

2010 saw the bands first new material in six years. An EP titled 'Simple Science' saw the bands sound more towards a more experimental, indie rock sound that was further enhanced on the bands 2011 full-length 'There Are Rules'.

Having built such a cult-like following in their nearly 20 years activity, The Get Up Kids have built an acclaimed worth of material during their time together. Nevertheless this edition of "Versus" sees two members of the Already Heard team putting their case forward their respective TGUK favourite LP’s. First up Tom Knott explains why ‘Something To Write Home About’ is a masterpiece, whilst Senior Editor Sean Reid goes on to tell us why 'Guilt Show' is under-appreciated and is his personal favourite TGUK record.

What do you consider to be The Get Up Kids’ best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Something To Write Home About (by Tom Knott)
Is The Get Up Kids‘Something To Write Home About’ the greatest album of all time? I’ll accept a little debate on the matter. It’s a bold claim; I can’t deny that. Is it The Get Up Kids’ masterpiece? Yup, although Sean will no doubt do a great job fighting ‘Guilt Show’s corner.

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Versus: Mogwai - ‘Mr. Beast’ vs ‘Young Team’

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Forming in Glasgow, Scotland in 1995, Mogwai became one of a few bands to truly define the enigmatic and serene nature of post rock. In 1998, after the departure of Keyboardist/guitarist Brendan O’Hare, the line up has remained unchanged. Since then, this juggernaut comprises: vocalist/guitarist Stuart Braithwaite; bassist Dominic Aitchison; drummer Martin Bulloch; guitarist John Cummings; and multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns. 

Musically, the quintet takes inspiration from My Bloody Valentine, Slint, Fugazi, The Cure, Sonic Youth and the Pixies. With such influences, they have created a dynamic contrast of melody, distortion, grace, beauty and sombreness. Mainly instrumental, with minimalist vocals. Their craft and work has resulted in eight studio albums. They’ve worked with the likes of Matador, Chemikal Underground and PIAS Recordings. More recently however, the Scots distribute releases by U.S. label Sub Pop and their own Rock Action Records. For under twenty years, they have been an inspiration to many bands, across many genres.

In honour of the release of their latest LP, 'Rave Tapes', we at Already Heard have felt it only right to answer a simple question. What is Mogwai's best album? To answer this, two individuals have chosen a record each to defend and claim the top dog. On one side, our very own Heather Robertson has chosen to defend fifth album, 'Mr. Beast'. Meanwhile, Pete Bush, from Huddersfield post rock newbies Glass Harbours, backs debut LP, 'Young Team', as a worthy contender.

What do you consider to be Mogwai’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Mr. Beast (by Heather Robertson)
Mogwai albums for me are divided into pre and post beast. While I adore 'Young Team', Rock Action’ and 'Happy Songs for Happy People', I feel they’re all building towards something, pushing the boat out without as much of a clear purpose in sight. 'Mr. Beast' really feels like some solid ground to build out from rather than experimentation for experimentations sake. It’s a foundation upon which future Mogwai can branch out from.

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Versus: The Lawrence Arms - ‘Oh! Calcutta!’ vs ‘Apathy and Exhaustion’

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In the year 1999, three young punks formed The Lawrence Arms. The line up has included to this very day, Brendan Kelly on vocals and guitar, Chris McCaughan on bass and vocals, and Neil Hennessy on drums. They released two albums on Asian Man Records and a further three albums on Fat Wreck Chords. After releasing and touring in support of fifth LP, 'Oh! Calcutta!', (as well as releasing an EP in 2009), the band went to take a break and explore their creativity elsewhere in solo efforts. Eventually, the patience of fans was rewarded, after the band signed to Epitaph and released their sixth album, ‘Metropole’ (which can be heard here!).

Continuing our celebration of their latest LP, we at Already Heard have pitted two albums from their back catalogue against each other to decide which is the best…well sort of. Jay Sullivan holds third LP 'Apathy and Exhaustion' above a pedestal. Assistant Editor Aaron Lohan acknowledges, but writes on how 'Oh! Calcutta!' should also be regarded as a strong record from the Chicago trio.

What do you consider to be The Lawrence Arms’ best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook andTwitter pages.

Read 'Fives: The Best The Lawrence Arms Songs' here.

Oh! Calcutta! (by Aaron Lohan)
When it comes to The Lawrence Arms' best record, without hesitation, I would say ‘Apathy and Exhaustion’. On the other hand, since my fellow writer has chosen that record, I will stand by the band’s second best. ‘Oh! Calcutta!’ was for a lot of people, including myself, the record where the Chicago trio made perfect sense. It has the instant spark to get you into the band, and forthrightly appreciate all of their other outputs. With this point made, I guess I should lay out the blanket called my opinion, and deliver each point out of the picnic basket I carry, unto the rug.

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Versus: Against Me! - ‘Searching for a Former Clarity’ vs ‘White Crosses’

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The moniker of this Gainesville, Florida outfit began as the solo project, of an individual whose name was Tom Gabel. Gabel occasionally performed with backing musicians. After several line up changes, by 2002, this moniker became the name of the legendary folk punk anarchists. For roughly a decade, the band featured Gabel on vocals and guitar, James Bowman on guitar and back ups, Andrew Seward on bass, and Warren Oakes on drums. Through this line up, the band released one album on No Idea, and two albums on Fat Wreck Chords. Eventually, the quartet signed to major label, Sire Records, releasing another two full lengths. Both of these were successful on the Billboard 200; 2007’s 'New Wave' at 57, and 2010’s 'White Crosses' at 34. With success, the band went back on the independent road, establishing their own record label, Total Treble Music.

In 2012, Gabel publicly came out as transgender, beginning the transition to living as a woman, and taking the name Laura Jane Grace. Laura’s courage certainly has placed her as an inspirational figure, not just in the music community, but culturally as well. 

Despite losing several members, including recent drummer Jay Weinburg in 2012 and bassist Seward in 2013, the band have been actively busy over the last year recording their fifth album. This will be entitled 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues', a document of Grace’s experience, and will be released next week. You can listen to it here! (It’s great!) Also, the band have new members including Inge Johansson on bass, and Atom Willard on drums.

This week, in celebration of Against Me!'s newest album, we at Already Heard have decided to discuss which is the band’s best album. Senior Editor Sean Reid is writing to defend 'White Crosses', their most successful album to date. On the other hand, Assistant Editor, Aaron Lohan, glorifies the honour of final Fat album, 'Searching for a Former Clarity'.

What do you consider Against Me!’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Searching for a Former Clarity (by Aaron Lohan)
When it comes to Against Me!'s best, many people are stubbornly divided in precise cliques. Most older fans will stand by the band's classic debut '…Is Reinventing Axl Rose'. Fans of their recent output stand fast along with the likes of the polished stadium-esque ‘White Crosses’. In all honesty, I believe the band have yet to make a terrible album…yes even the wishy washy major label debut 'New Wave'. But out of their five outputs, I champion 'Searching for a Former Clarity'.

This would be the band’s second release on Fat Wreck Chords. It saw the band scrap shorter songs, and identified their fiery hunger for bigger punk fuelled rock songs. To gain a better understanding, here are my points as follows.

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Versus: Rise Against - ‘Siren Song of the Counter Culture’ vs ‘Revolutions Per Minute’

Formed from the ashes of Chicago punk bands 88 Fingers Louie and Baxter in 1999, Transistor Revolt was born. After releasing a demo in 2000, the band signed to Fat Wreck Chords and changed their name to Rise Against. They would release two albums under the label before signing to a major label i.e. DreamWork Records. Eventually, DreamWorks would be absorbed into Geffen Records. So far the melodic hardcore punk have released four full lengths, with a new album in the making. The punk band have grown from strength to strength, along with several line up changes, morphing into one of the world’s most adored punk bands, politically active in all manner of social conventions. The current line up includes vocalist Tim McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, guitarist Zach Blair and drummer Brandon Barnes.

This week’s Already Heard versus sees us tackle an important question; what is Rise Against's best album? Having wowed us at the recent Warped Tour show in London and the band heading off to record their seventh album, we thought it would only be appropriate to answer this. Sticking by 'Siren Song of the Counter Culture' is Jay Sullivan, whilst Aaron Lohan defends 'Revolutions per Minute'.

What do you consider Rise Against’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook andTwitter pages.

Siren Song of the Counter Culture (by Jay Sullivan)
Remember when you were 14? Apart from having terrible clothes and hair, unless you’re an absolute liar or have rockstar parents, your music taste probably hadn’t evolved to the superior heights that you like to think it has now. Somewhere along the way, you discovered a handful of ‘gateway’ albums, the ones that led you away from the mainstream and into a back alley filled with a brave new world of undiscovered bands and music. For me, Rise Against were one of those bands and ‘Siren Song of Counter Culture’ was one of those albums and for that, I owe them a fair bit.

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Versus: Reuben - ‘Racecar Is Racecar Backwards’ vs ‘In Nothing We Trust’

Back in the early part of this century, when we were starting to see the back of nu-metal and emo was starting to rear its head, something exciting was going on here in Blighty. The BritRock scene was at the forefront of the underground, and at its crux were bands like Biffy Clyro, Hell Is For Heroes, Million Dead, Hundred Reasons and Reuben. Reuben released just three albums (and a compilation), but they are remembered fondly amongst those who ever caught their scintillating live show. A unique mix of melodic hooks and bludgeoning heaviness, they are much-missed.

Continuing our Reuben theme from last week’s Fives, in celebration of frontman Jamie Lenman’s new double solo album, out now on Xtra Mile Recordings, we thought it’d be a good idea to follow it up with an edition of “Versus” on what is Reuben's best album. Ollie Connors hails their culturally iconic debut full length ‘Racecar Is Racecar Backwards’ (despite it’s longevity) as their best, whilst Aaron Lohan stands by the trio’s musically ambitious third full length ‘In Nothing We Trust’.

What do you consider Reuben’s best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Racecar Is Racecar Backwards (by Ollie Connors)
Coming from someone who grew up in small-town Surrey, it’s shit growing up in small-town Surrey. Borne out of the frustrations of having nothing else to do in Camberley, the band that started life as Angel thankfully changed their name to Reuben. With word spreading like wildfire off the back of their ‘Pilot’ EP, Reuben signed to Xtra Mile Records and released their debut record ‘Racecar Is Racecar Backwards’, an album that fired them to the very crux of the exciting “BritRock” scene, alongside bands like Biffy Clyro, Hell Is For Heroes, Hundred Reasons and Million Dead. My first exposure to Reuben came with watching the 'Stuck In My Throat' video on Scuzz - one listen and I was hooked. A band that mixed a keen ear for melody and a knack for writing a catchy riff with bludgeoning heaviness, they instantly became an object of personal obsession in the formative years of musical discovery. Despite subsequently releasing two excellent albums and a compilation, it’s the cocksure debut I keep coming back to - the sound of a young band firing on all cylinders, and adored because of, rather than in spite of, its imperfections and nuances.

If a debate arose concerning the best first track of a debut, 'No-One Wins The War' would lay more claim than most. A drum fill and a scream by vocalist Jamie Lenman opens the record, and blaring guitars scream into life, and from there on in the song is an exhilarating adrenaline rush, acting as the perfect curtain-raiser. The record is barely 30 seconds old before Lenman, in typically sarcastic style, delivers the line “Hell Is For Heroes, they’ve got another single out, my contemporaries, a Top 40 smash no doubt” - a sign of the kind of status Reuben were striving for from the get-go. It’s fitting that this is succeeded by perhaps the most instant of Reuben’s singles from this album, the aforementioned 'Stuck In My Throat'. It begins with a blood-curdling scream from Lenman, and a growling, lurching riff takes hold, laying over Guy Davis’ powerhouse drumming. Despite its malevolent beginnings, the song unexpectedly breaks into a arms-aloft singalong, perfectly representing the two sides of Reuben within one song.

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Versus: Pixies - ‘Surfer Rosa’ vs ‘Doolittle’

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Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986, featuring Black Francis on vocals/guitar, Kim Deal on bass/vocals, Joey Santiago on guitar and David Lomering on drums, alternative rock band the Pixies, helped influence and shape the guitar rock landscape for the next twenty five years. Alongside the likes of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., the band certainly laid the ground work for underground punk influenced indie and alternative bands. Their loud chorus and soft verse dynamic paved the way for a lot of big names including Nirvana, Biffy Clyro, PJ Harvey, Radiohead and Brand New.

The band achieved moderate commercial success in their home country, but were significantly more successful in the UK and mainland Europe. After releasing four studio albums and several EPs, tensions between members led the band to split in 1993 before reuniting in 2004. Eventually in 2013, Deal left the band, but this eventually led the remaining members to release their first new material in since 2004, under their new EP, ‘EP1’. Rumours for a new full length next year are still in motion.

Having recently returned to the UK with their new line-up and EP, Already Heard's Aaron Lohan and Antony Lusmore thought it be a good time to highlight two of the bands best albums. First off Aaron tells us why 'Surfer Rosa' is a "timeless, rock ‘n’ roll classic" whilst Antony defends the bands 'Doolittle' LP and explains why it has everything you could ask for in an alt-rock record.

What do you consider the Pixies' best album and why? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Surfer Rosa (by Aaron Lohan)
Whilst my favourite and the magnum opus Pixies full length is held by ‘Doolittle’, the band’s second full length, I will write about the band’s first. ‘Surfer Rosa’ is without question the band’s most influential; it is a record that stands toe to toe with its sucessor. It was the first record of the bands that I heard and certainly one of the most life-changing. I was turned to the Pixies through recommendation by my aunty who is a huge fan especially since I was a Nirvana fan (Pixies were a huge inspiration for the Seattle trio). Now that I’ve given you a brief insight on how it affected me, I will now explain to you as I type and listen to the record on vinyl (it sounds terrific on this format by the way), why this LP is worth a damn.

Let’s begin with the production by the magnificent Steve Albini. The former Big Black and current Shellac frontman did a fine job of capturing the dynamics and atmosphere of the band. In fact, it was this record that led to working with Nirvana, Jawbreaker, The Jesus Lizard, and PJ Harvey. The drums hit the senses perfectly, whilst the guitars sound crisp and the bass is slick sounding.

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Versus: Saves The Day -‘Through Being Cool’ VS ‘Stay What You Are’

New Jersey emo stalwarts Saves The Day started life in 1994. After a name change their 1998 Record 'Can't Slow Down' and 1999’s sophomore effort 'Through Being Cool' sent ripples through their native music scene, out into the wider american indie scenes. Label interest from Vagrant brought Saves The Day into their fold and released their first major label record, 'Stay What You Are' to much praise and attention from music tv. through tumultuous band lineup changes and a co-release by Dreamworks and Vagrant, their fourth album 'In Reverie' was released and then seemingly abandoned by the record labels in 2003. a trilogy of albums: 'Sound The Alarm' in 2007, 'Under the Boards' in 2008 and 2011’s ‘Daybreak’ followed, with the latest being heralded as a return to form for the band.

After numerous lineup changes, life changes and plenty of side projects along the way the band return this week with a self titled album and fairly settled lineup. To celebrate, we decided to look back and argue the case for the best Saves The Day release.

This week’s ‘Versus’ sees a guest writer enter the ring; Jessi Frick of Father/Daughter Records is writing for 'Through Being Cool' in a battle against ‘Stay What You Are’ by our very own Heather Robertson.

What do you consider Saves The Day's best album and why?  Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Through Being Cool (by Jessi Frick)
“What’s a bond if it dissolves in water?/ I took a piss that lasted longer / than you and your manipulations”

'Through Being Cool' was Saves The Day’s (and more specifically, Chris Conley’s) rite of passage. After breaking onto the pop-punk scene in 1998 with their debut ‘Can’t Slow Down’, Conley, Dave Soloway, Ted Alexander, Eben D’Amico and Bryan Newman (let it be known that this line-up IS Saves The Day. There are no substitutions) shed the Lifetime-copy scarlet letter and embraced themselves on what I’m defending as Saves The Day’s best album, 1999’s ‘Through Being Cool’.

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