Joseph Coscarelli

  • Anti-Flag 'Still' Hates Your 'Corporate' Allegiance

    Anti-Flag may be pacifists, but don't you dare try to placatethese fuming rebels. Channeling every last drop of theirsocio-political angst into song, the Pittsburgh-based group's unrestshowers the dirty, greedy and rotten in snarling discontent. On"Corporate Rock Still Sucks," the fury rains down in distorted powerchords and breakneck drums. And the societal villain in the cross hairsthis time? That'd be the white-collar stiffs, soulless like wide-eyedzombies. "You do what you're told!" sneers frontman JustinSane with audible contempt. But thickened by faded handclaps and thechorus of whoa-ohs that made AFI a crossover sensation, thepissed-off punks sound tickled as ever to be the voice of thedisenfranchised youth brigade.

  • Breaking Up 101: Lose a 'Lover' with the New Amsterdams

    Former Get Up Kids and current New Amsterdamsfrontman Matt Pryor knows his way so well around a break-up song thathe could teach a course. On "Dear Lover," class is in session. Duringhis days with the emo-pioneering Kids, Pryor scored make outs, make upsand break ups with a tossed-off ease and youthful flair. Now grown,Pryor's life experience floats above acoustic fingerings on "DearLover" as he implores, "Hard living's the only way I can get by." Soundingboth worn-down and oddly self-assured, Pryor baldly confessesinfidelity, warning knowingly against the hazards of smothering a freespirit -- you may get older, but love doesn't get any easier. The otherAmsterdams take a breather, leaving only a simple strum pattern to holdthe weight of crushing claims, dictated in letter form, on this takefrom the band's sessions for their sixth studio long-player.

  • 'Three Months' of Beautiful Misery with Castanets

    "I was ready to settle down," sings Raymond Raposa on "Three Months Paid," one of the haunting tunes featured on the Castanets' forthcoming studio effort, In the Vines. But by constantly mulling over the possibility, Raposa sounds like he might be trying to convince himself, as if the repetition will make it true. In place of permanence, sorrow and regret shade every line, lending a lost and transient sadness to this genuine drifter ballad. From Gainesville, Florida to Northern California nothing feels quite right. Raposa's low, gravelly voice intones his remorse over a spare arrangement including electronics that gurgle and hiss, while soft country-tinged licks squeal and whine in the distance. Through measured strums and molasses-like pacing, Castanets still manage to captivate through over six devastating minutes, as droning sound effects and primitive percussion echo hollowly.

  • The Most Serene Republic Get 'Back' to Business

    The plinking rise and fall of the keys that drive "Why So Looking Back" move anywhere but backwards. Instead, the track from the Milton, Ontario art-pop group the Most Serene Republic propels boatloads of momentum forward with surging percussion and blistering distorted guitar. But strip the energy-injected exterior and TMSR reveal their inner composure and buried tranquility. The vocal repartee between frontman Adrian Jewett and vocalist/guitarist Emma Ditchburn ricochets wildly. But they also manage to ally in harmony in order to fight the song's frenetic pace. The blustering swirl stacks tiers of instruments while lyrically damning nostalgia -- in quick bursts the near five-minute tune sprints then slows in a rhythmic rise and fall, careful not to over-exert.

  • Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: 'Paid' in Full

    If you're sick of getting short-changed, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir has your back. They may not be an imposing force, with their acoustic rhythms, light keys and warm organ moans, but having them on your side might just curb your grief and warm your heart. When the "Holy Bible and a book on punk rock" line your shelves "alongside Steinbeck, Salinger, and Guthrie," chances are you had it rough at some point growing up, and the Choir empathize with anyone who was ever made to feel small because they were "different" or their accent "strange." A karmic ballad, "Everything You Paid For" wraps optimism and peaceful female vocals into a hug for the downtrodden and an enduring promise of emotional reimbursement -- better days when bad fortunes will turn.

  • Mariee Sioux Sails Away in 'Friendboats'

    Close your eyes and float upstream with the lush and fluid beauty of Mariee Sioux's new ballad "Friendboats." The track's sparse arrangement features only a finger-picked acoustic pattern, mesmerizing in its dreamy spiral, and Sioux's breathy dreamlike words, with her airy harmonies layered for texture. Combining the artful subtlety of Marissa Nadler, the idiosyncratic vocal flourishes of Joanna Newsom and the worldly flair of Devendra Banhart, Sioux is poised to join today's top tier of freak-folk royalty. But without the overt eccentricities of her contemporaries, Sioux, who has recorded albums with Brightblack Morning Light, is content to practice reverent traditionalism, allowing her music to exists in ageless suspension, both pleasantly tranquil and strangely alluring. "Friendboats," featured on Sioux's upcoming debut LP, Faces in the Rocks, will drift into your consciousness Oct.

  • What 'Else'? A Brand New They Might Be Giants Video!

    On the album opener from their twelfth career LP, The Else, They Might Be Giants play it straight with a crisp little power-pop ditty guided by a fuzzy guitar crunch and perky refrain. "I'm Impressed" resounds with repeatability thanks to a playful mood and endlessly catchy hook. The clip features a Ben Hur and Gladiator hybrid as performed by animated robots, complete with flaming chariots and epic, Colosseum-worthy duels. A malevolent dictator presides over the cruelty, eager to lay a beating on his servants and only delighted by excessive bloodshed, courtesy of a bone-crushing machine. Culminating in a large-scale assassination plot in the name of bloody justice, only They Might Be Giants could managed to make such wicked acts look not only innocuous, but even fun.

  • No Second Troy Burn Bright As the 'Sun'

    Sharing a name with a William Butler Yeats poem, No Second Troy are not shy about their bookish origins, exhibiting a fine-tuned literary finesse on their bittersweet new single. "Into Your Sun" is an earnest, articulate love song with a touch of sentimental longing under which tender acoustic guitars and tinkering piano lay the groundwork. The song's video treatment, directed by Brent Green, presents flickering fragments interspersed with a handwritten narrative, beautifully complimenting the song's frailty with warm imagery. Like scenes out of an I-Spy book or snippets from pictures you might find browned and curling in the attic, the romantic wistfulness and youthful nostalgia of the clip serve to heighten the song's serene glow.

  • Black Lips Get 'Evil'

    On their newest single "O Katrina" the Black Lips do their best to sully up the sleek, hip new record label they now call home, showing Vice the same variety of muddied garage rock and frenetic energy that made their super-charged live show the stuff of legends. On stage the band is known for baring all while spewing various forms of bodily fluid and "O Katrina" is that furor laid to tape. Rowdy and emphatic but with a soulful streak, the Black Lips howl at the hurricane as if they were hoping to be heard over the torrential downpour and wailing winds. "Oh, Katrina, why you gotta be mean?" pleads the Lips' Jared Swilley, but praying for serenity from a storm is like asking the Black Lips to turn down their lightning-quick leads and low rumbling drum rolls -- it's just not going to happen.

  • The Good Life Try to 'Let Go'

    As the autumn leaves begin to brown and fall away the Good Life's Tim Kasher hopes to undergo a similar transformation, shedding the baggage of a stagnant relationship built on fear and lies. A bold reality check for a cold and distant lover, "So Let Go" lays it all on the line, refuting all the ifs, ands and buts of a union gone sour. Structured around weathered doubts, Kasher croons variations on a theme: "We could ... but we won't" and "we should ... but we don't," as this embittered ballad builds. Over a gentle slide guitar and soft drum brushes come Kasher's brave, if not pessimistic indictments, woozy with reverb, giving the tune a whiskey-soaked feel. Never raising his voice above a hushed whisper, he lets his words do the stinging.

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