As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009)


As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009, Tooth & Nail)

  1. ’84 Sheepdog
  2. Errand Rum
  3. Into The Sea
  4. Made Too Pretty
  5. Lady Blue
  6. Petty
  7. Daughter
  8. Pirate Blues
  9. Capo

Band Lineup:
Cody Bonnette – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keys
Colin Kimble – bass, guitars, backup vocals
Aaron Lunsford – drums, percussion
Chris Lott – lead guitar
Produced by: Tyler Orr & Cody Bonnette

Total Time = 38:14

As Cities Burn MySpace page
Tooth & Nail Records

2009 has been a great year so far for Hard Rock & Heavy Metal new releases but there is always a few albums that cross my desk that are awful and a waste of my time. The first suspect of 2009? HELL OR HIGH WATER by Christian Indie Progressive Rock band As Cities Burn.

I got this album a couple months ago for review and I put it in the pile because I have a massive backlog of promos but I read the press release and the band sounded interesting. Tooth & Nail Records is home to the popular Metalcore band Underoath so I figured that As Cities Burn would have some sort of Metal slant to their music. The album cover looked promising although a bit different but you should never judge an album by it’s cover!

As Cities Burn plays a very mellow brand of Indie Rock that I would here on my local Indie rock station instead of my local Rock station. There is nothing hard, heavy or fast to the music, it’s more ambient (not in a Gothic Metal style) and mellow. Lead vocalist & guitarist Cody Bonnette sounds very whiney and subdued with no display of vocal range or ability, kind of like a younger Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). The music itself sounded primarily the same over the entire album, the sound effects were distracting and the performances were boring. On the positive side….the production was crystal clear and there is a bit of melody in the songs. I liked the middle section of ‘Lady Blue’ but that’s it.

Bottom Line:
I’ve played this album at least 10 times to try and find something interesting or something that relates to what this website is about: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. I didn’t find anything worthwhile, what I got was the most boring 10 spins I’ve ever listened to (and I really listened). The album is so mellow and boring that I actually fell asleep a couple of times and had to go back! There is nothing Metal here, nothing Hard but fans of Indie Rock will eat this up I’m sure. There is crossover Pop Rock appeal to the music so I’m sure that Indie rock stations will pick this up. This type of Indie Rock music gets played all the time at the record store I shop at weekly and I am always annoyed when I hear it. There is good interesting Indie stuff out there but HELL OR HIGH WATER is just boring. If you like Smashing Pumpkins with an Indie/Punk flavor then this is for you. If you are looking for any piece of Metal or Hard Rock…..avoid this album! This is my lead candidate for the worst album of 2009.

Favorite Songs: none

Psychostick – Sandwich (2009)


Psychostick – Sandwich (2009, Rock Ridge Music)

  1. Metal?
  2. Caffeine
  3. Shower
  4. A Lesson In Modesty
  5. P Is The Best Letter
  6. Minimum Rage
  7. Don’t Eat My Food
  8. The Hunger Within
  9. Grocery Escape Plan
  10. Too Many Food
  11. This Is Not A Song, It’s A Sandwich!
  12. Girl Directions
  13. Orange
  14. Beer (Pt.2)
  15. Do You Want A Taco?
  16. Attempt At Something Serious
  17. #1 Radio Single
  18. Vah-jay-jay
  19. Die…A Lot!
  20. You’ve Got Mail Enhancement
  21. Passive Vengeance
  22. 373 Thank Yous
  23. OUTTAKES!!!1
  24. We Ran Out Of CD Space


Band Lineup:
Rob “Rawrb” Kersey – Lead Vocals
Joshua “The J” Key – Guitars & Vocals
Jake “Jakermeister” McReynolds – Guitars & Vocals
Jimmy “Jimmychanga” Grant – Bass & Vocals
Alex “Shmalex” Preiss – Drums

Produced by: Psychostick

Total Time = 75:55

Psychostick MySpace page
Rock Ridge Music

Spinal Tap, Tenacious D, Bloodhound Gang, and Weird Al Yankovic…..all these bands play a comedic Rock style. Add some M.O.D. and you get Psychostick. The Phoenix, Arizona band has returned from a two and a half year stretch of touring the U.S. to release their third album titled SANDWICH. Psychostick blends Metal, Hardcore, Punk and Alternative together with a comedic lyrics to create their own unique sound called “Humorcore”. When I took my first look at the CD I knew this wasn’t my usual type of Heavy Metal, anything remotely resembling Punk or Alternative usually finds it’s way to the trash pile, but their was something interesting in the song titles that reminded me of Billy Milano’s M.O.D.

SANDWICH is 24 songs clocking in at over an hour and fifteen minutes long: some songs like ‘Metal?’ and ‘Vah-jay-jay’ come in at a few seconds while the fan tribute ‘373 Thank Yous’ tops out at over fourteen minutes. The band spoof a wide range of normal topics from an ode to coffee (‘Caffeine’), to good hygiene (‘Shower’), the grocery store (‘Grocery Escape Plan’) and the Internet (‘You’ve Got Mail Enhancement’). First thing you notice is that the band can play: Psychostick can lay down some serious music and the vocals have a ton of attitude, sarcasm and irony. There are some songs that you could easily put some serious lyrics too and get a regular Rock song…..but Psychostick obviously aren’t a regular band!

There are a lot of entertaining songs on SANDWICH and most of them have to do with food! I’m not sure if the band has had some hard times and missed a few essential meals or they hit every buffet in town, they seem to like anything to do with food. I counted 9 songs that had to do with some sort of food either by consumption or purchase but the song that I liked the best of the “food tunes” was ‘Minimum Rage’. If you’ve ever worked in retail (I do) and you’ve dealt with idiot customers then this is the song for you! Outside of food, I liked the rage filled take on getting directions from a woman in ‘Girl Directions’, the washing instructions in ‘Shower’ and the pride in lovving the female anatomy in ‘Vah-jay-jay’…..these songs had me laughing out loud. The problem I had with the album was that it was too long and a lot of the songs sounded like the previous ones. I hate to use the word “filler” but I found the last few songs a bit boring. ‘373 Thank Yous’ is 14+ minutes of the band singing the names of fans who donated money for the band’s studio time. Using an epic length tune to thank the fans instead of the liner notes is a unique idea but after hearing it once you don’t really need to again. Same thing with ‘OUTTAKES!!!1’, a song which is basically a musical blooper reel for the album, and ‘We Ran Out Of CD Space’ that really runs out of space. These songs are funny ideas but by the time you get through 21 songs it ends up being too much.

Bottom Line:
Psychostick is not my usual style of Metal band but they are entertaining. I had no idea what to expect when I read the band’s bio and first put the album on but I was pleasantly surprised. SANDWICH kind of reminds me of M.O.D’s 1987 debut album USA FOR M.O.D. because of the number of songs, the length of some are just a few seconds and both records are hilarious. The difference is that M.O.D. are very controversial and politically incorrect while Psychostick compose humor from normal things in everyday life… food! Overall I liked a lot of the songs but I used the <SKIP> button a few times. Metal fans are a serious breed and I’m not sure how SANDWICH will resonate in the Metal community but it’s a change of pace that is good from time to time. I heard enough interesting tunes to go back and check out Psychostick’s 2nd album, the 2007 Xmas record, THE FLESH EATING ROLLER SKATE HOLIDAY JOYRIDE but I’m still not sure what to expect.

Favorite Songs:
‘Shower’, ‘Minimun Rage’, ‘Grocery Escape Plan’, ‘Girl Directions’, ‘Vah-jay-jay’

The Bangkok Five – We Love What Kills Us (2008)

Bangkok Five - We Love What Kills Us (2008)

The Bangkok Five – We Love What Kills Us (2008)

  1. We Love What Kills Us
  2. This One’s For The Haters
  3. Straight Fell Off
  4. Party Machine
  5. Outlines Of Us

Bangkok Five

(photo by Robin Perin)

Band Lineup:
Frost – Vocals
Sweeney – Lead Guitar
Coatez – Bass
Blanco – Drums
Bobby S. – Guitars

Total Time = 20:41

The Bangkok Five official website
The Bangkok Five MySpace page
Long Live Crime Records

When the sophomore effort, WE LOVE WHAT KILLS US, by L.A. quintet The Bangkok Five crossed my desk, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve never heard of the band and all the press releases online use quotes from print magazines like Revolver, Hit Parader, and Blender…..magazines that are usually behind the times when it comes to Hard Rock.

So I pop this CD in and I’m greeted with the title track and the first thing I notice is lead singer Frost’s voice, very unique especially when using a deeper tone. Usually you can tell what an album is going to be like by the first song and ‘We Love What Kills Us’ is a good Modern Hard Rock/Alternative/Punk hybrid that reminds of Buckcherry meets Urge Overkill. Same with ‘This One’s For The Haters’, there is a lot of guitars and energetic vocals that I draw comparisons to Buckcherry yet not as polished, more raw.

‘Straight Fell Off’ is a little slower tempo, mid-paced, and reminds me of early ’80s Punk/New Wave with slightly distorted vocals. I like this song the best of the five and I’ve played this over and over, I think it would make a good follow-up single to the title track. Things pick up with ‘Party Machine’ and the vocals are a little more controlled. I like the subdued nature of the track even though it’s a Modern Rock song. The band slows things down with ‘Outlines Of Us’ and it’s the one track I’m not feeling. It sounds like one of those Alternative songs that the guy working the stereo in the record store plays to show how “hip” he is. Sounds like a song college radio or modern rock stations like Rhode Island’s 95.5 WBRU would play. Not my type of music…..

Bottom Line:
Not my usual listening choice but I was pleasantly surprised, enough to check out the band’s debut, WHO’S GONNA TAKE US ALIVE? (2006), and see what’s there. I like the music when it steers more towards the Hard Rock style but I get a little lost when the Punk/Alternative side shows…..chalk that up to personal tastes. I could see The Bangkok Five getting airplay of Rock radio with ‘We Love What Kills Us’ and ‘Straight Fell Off’, the two tracks I felt really stood out. Definitely a band to watch when the album is officially released on May 13th. It’s also going to be released in Spanish to honor the band’s Spanish influenced environment in Los Angeles, I’ll bet that will sound cool.