Review Rundown: Thrice, Sugar Ray, The Morning After Girls, Lacuna Coil, Drive A

Thrice – ‘Beggars’ (Vagrant Records): It’s pretty obvious that Dustin Kensrue’s solo career had a sizeable impact on the bands current sound. When you think Thrice you normally envision epic songs packed with rich melodies, like on their last proper full length ‘Vheissu,’ but ‘Beggars’ is more serviceable (save for the atmospheric jam of the album’s title track) like ‘The Alchemy Index’ series. ‘Beggars’ just fails to leave a lasting impact, and doesn’t pack a punch like the rest of the bands discography. (
Grade: D
Go Download: 'The Weight'

Sugar Ray – ‘Music For Cougars’ (Pulse Recordings) – ‘Music For Cougars’ is exactly what you would expect from a Sugar Ray release, but none of these 12 tracks jump off the record at you. There isn’t a clear cut radio single among them, proof positive that the crowning achievement of the effort is the title itself. (
Grade: D
Go Download: 'Love Is the Answer'

The Morning After Girls – ‘Alone’: This is easily one of the better releases this year from a band you haven’t heard of. Think lush contemporary music scapes with influences nods to both 80’s Brit-pop and the entire underground alt-pop scene. With ‘Alone,’ The Morning After Girls transition effortlessly through transient dream pop (‘Part of Your Nature’), radio sheened indie rock with a coat of romanticism that should make the industry take heed (‘You Need to Die’) and atmospheric concussions with distant guitars (‘Still Falling’). It does enough to prove that it belongs on at least some critics Year End lists. (
Grade: B
Go Download: 'Part of Your Nature'

Drive A – ‘Loss of Desire’(Adrenaline/Dead Conflict Records): Drive A’s ‘Loss of Desire’ can be described using any combination of heady adjectives, none of them bad, like aggressive, unapologetic, energetic and the list goes on and on. The high production value at times saps some urgency and diminishes part of the raw, garage punk rock feel, but all in all this is a release that sounds as much Vox Jaguars as it does Burn Halo. ‘Wake Up’ needs to be heard immediately, and is so massive that it makes the entire record. Oh yeah, none of the band members are even 20 years old yet. (
Grade: B
Go Download: 'Wake Up'

Lacuna Coil – ‘Shallow Life’ (Century Media): The main selling point of Lacuna Coil has long been the dynamic vocal interplay of co-front persons Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, something that remains pretty prevalent (‘I’m Not Afraid,’ ‘The Maze,’ ‘Unchained’) on their latest, ‘Shallow Life.’ You don’t hear it as much as you would like but it is appreciated more that way. ‘Spellbound’ is one of the bands best works to date but you would like to hear Lacuna Coil try their hand at more than a couple of ballads (‘Wide Awake,’ ‘Shallow Life’). ’Shallow Life’ is a collection of glam-laden goth metal movements that are as ethereal as they are crushingly beautiful. (
Grade: B
Go Download: 'Spellbound'