Review Rundown: Artist Vs Poet, Circa Survive, Bury Tomorrow, KMFDM and Derek & the Darling

This time around the Review Rundown puts new releases from Artist Vs Poet, Circa Survive, Bury Tomorrow, KMFDM and Derek & the Darling into the review spotlight.

File Under: Classic Powerpop
Artist Vs Poet – “Favorite Fix” (Fearless): If you didn’t know any better it’d be easy to think that “Favorite Fix” is the latest release from the All-American Rejects, but in reality it’s the latest from another in a long line of home runs for Fearless Records, Artist vs. Poet. The bands pop sensibilities are palpable, often stunning, as they help to separate the band from most of their genre running mates, but it’s the songs on “Favorite Fix” that that are the stars, that’s for sure. That might sound pretty obvious to say, but these songs are very good. ‘Favorite Fix,’ ‘Unconscious Reality,’ and ‘Damn Rough Night’ sell themselves through the feel of classic powerpop and the bands overwhelming penchant for big melodies, while songs like ‘Miserable Loving You’ and ‘Broke But Not Broken’ toss heartbreak and vulnerability into the bands already beguiling sonic aesthetic. “Favorite Fix” can be haunting and memorable, it can be infectious and ultimately contagious, and it could also be the best release Fearless drops in 2010, though we have a lot of 2010 to go. You may have just found the new soundtrack to your summer. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Favorite Fix’

File Under: Expansive Post-Post-Hardcore
Circa Survive – “Blue Sky Noise” (Atlantic): “Blue Sky Noise” is the best that Circa Survive has sounded in a long time, and perhaps the best they’ve sounded ever. There is clear progression and staunch experimentalism to these 12 songs, songs that end up leaving more of a lasting feel than most of the band’s prior body of work. Looking back quickly, 2005’s “Juturna” was special, though it didn’t last beyond a handful of spins, and while 2007’s “On Letting Go” was the logical next step and was/is a commercial success, it still didn’t break these guys out of their shell so to speak, but things seem different with “Blue Sky Noise.” Circa Survive has flat out gotten better with this album. Not only have they gotten better mechanically, meaning they sound as if they are playing their respective instruments at a higher level than before, but their song structures, their musicianship and cohesiveness also sound to have ascended to that next level. These guys have always been on the cusp, seemingly poised to shatter their glass ceiling and step up to that next plateau, but in years past they’ve never seemed all that ready, or willing possibly, to live up to their potential. Apparently they just needed more seasoning, and an album like “Blue Sky Noise” to get them there. “Blue Sky Noise” is a massive piece of art that finds Circa Survive at their most immense and adventurous yet, qualities that should lead more than a few listeners to believe this maybe their best record ever. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Get Out’

File Under: Paint By Numbers Metalcore
Bury Tomorrow – “Portraits” (Artery Recordings): “Portraits” is essentially pretty cut and dry, and not really all that hard to figure out. Plain and simple, you’ve heard this before; here it’s just been repackaged for consumption. Bury Tomorrow is of the ‘plug and play’ garden variety, meaning that the members of the band are interchangeable, and that there isn’t too much worthy of notable mention. Well, the duel vocal feel adds a nice touch, but frankly that’s about the only saving grace. If Bury Tomorrow were to slide down the slippery slope that once claimed the life of former metalcore poster children From Autumn to Ashes, they might be able to sustain, but that would involve leaning more and more on the clean, melodic voice of Danni Winter-Bates, who, in this scenario plays the role of Francis Mark, and less on the sometimes necessary, sometimes far too generic bellowing of Jason Cameron, who plays the role of ex-FATA throat Benjamin Perri. Now, that’s not to say they can’t work in unison (‘You & I,’ ‘Confessions’) – “Portraits” might not be better than the back and forth vocal aesthetic of ‘Repair the Lining’ & ‘the Human Condition,’ it’s just that Cameron’s sharp, serene vocals (‘Relief,’ ‘These Woods Aren’t Safe for Us,’) offer most of the album’s highlights. Now, to be honest, “Portraits” shouldn’t be entirely written off – some of it just plain shreds, other parts seriously rip, it’s just that it’s pretty uninspiring on the whole. (
Grade: C
Go Download: ‘Portraits’

File Under: Ultra Heavy Beat
KMFDM – “Krieg” (Metropolis): As if KMFDM really needed to be remixed in the first place, the band drops “Krieg” on us, their fourth complete remix record and first since 2008’s “Brimborium,” and the scene itself is better for it. “Krieg” is 12 tracks from 2009’s “Blitz” release re-imagined, making them somehow more expansive, basically picking up the ball from “Blitz” and running with it. There are multiple remixes of the same song which is somewhat unnecessary, a word that could also be used to describe some of these songs themselves. “Krieg” does offer up enough quality material to sink your teeth into, including both Combichrist’s progressive house and trance laden take on ‘Bait & Switch’ (All 4 One Mix), and Prong’s unrestrained look at that very same track (Sacred Cow Mix). Among the best cuts from “Krieg” are former White Zombie drummer Ivan de Prume’s handling of ‘Never Say Never’ (Naughty Habit Mix) and Static-X’s jack-of-all-trades Koicki Fukuda’s look at the song ‘People of the Lie’ (Requiem Mix). While you might find yourself skipping around this record to get to the better material, the record on the whole is worth a few push of the buttons. (
Grade: B
Go Download: ‘People of the Lie’ (Requiem Mix)

File Under: Synth Pop Rock
Derek & the Darling – “Rockface EP:” Derek Nicoletto has long been a charismatic frontman, one with a magnetic vocal presence, and the debut from his new project, Derek & the Darling’s “Rockface,” is just the latest showcase of that fact. With respect to Nicoletto’s prior incarnation Telling on Trixie, it would be criminal to call “Rockface” the best we’ve heard Nicoletto on wax, though the argument could surely be made (go look up TOT’s 2009 release “Ugly, Broke and Sober” – you’ll be better for it). Nicoletto isn’t alone here, hence the ‘and the Darling’ part of the band’s moniker, as Sammi Garrett plays the Meg White to Nicoletto’s Jack White if you will. With “Rockface,” Nicoletto continues to do what he does best – captivate listeners with his blessed voice (‘Alabaster Sky’), though he isn’t the one doing so. Counterpart Garrett chimes in as well, registering a memorable vocal performance on ‘You,’ a track that offers perhaps the best melodies on “Rockface.” Before you ask, yes, the two work best as a team, as evidenced by the 1980’s glam soaked bounce ala Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ of ‘Lucky Lola.’ While its unclear if the door to Telling on Trixie is shut for good, hopefully the door to Derek & the Darling will stay open for a long time. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Hustler with a Rescue Plan’