Review Rundown: Heart-Set Self Destruct, Mayday Parade, Sparks the Rescue, Marillion, Sin-atra

 This Review Rundown offers reviews of the latest releases from metal guys performing Frank Sinatra on Sin-atra, Heart-Set Self Destruct, Mayday Parade, Sparks the Rescue, and Marillion.

Purchase - Monster (EP)
File Under: Melodic Hard Rock
Heart-Set Self Destruct – Monster EP (Soundmine Musicworks): Very much in the vein of uber-melodic hard rock outfits like Red and Janus, Chicago’s Heart-Set Self Destruct know what it takes to put together a marketable and overwhelmingly accessible mainstream rock tune. They know the game, for sure, and play it well, evidenced by their polished, well-produced Monster EP. The band’s sonic endgame on Monster isn’t as dynamic as their afore mentioned predecessors, but it’s clear these boys have a keen knack for writing soaring hooks that are as catchy as they are towering. And it’s those over-the-top melodic hooks that drive the core of Monster, tunes like “Collapse,” Rain” and “Useless,” the latter showcasing the bands ability to deliver a solid crunch reminiscent to Welcome-era Taproot complete with scream-y vocals. Sure, the structures might be a bit humdrum, but there’s no denying their capacity to entertain. If melodic hard rock with a thick radio ready sheen is up your alley, then Heart-Set Self Destruct’s Monster EP is a record you should set your sights on. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: “Useless”

Purchase - Valdosta EP
File Under: Powerpop Minus the Power
Mayday Parade – Valdosta (Atlantic): Valdosta is Mayday Parade equipped with acoustic guitars, no amps, no electricity, just a bunch of guys and wooden stools. The EP is six songs, two of which are new, culled from all three of the bands previous releases. While it is true that Valdosta is anchored by two new cuts, “Amber Lynn” and “Terrible Things,” which should serve as the albums main focal points, though upon further listen you’ll see it’s the acoustic renditions of the bands career-spanning tracks that outshine their new brethren. It’s ironic that one of the better moments of Valdosta comes from the pen of ex-leadman Jason Lancaster (now of Go Radio), “Jaime All Over,” though the vocal treatment current frontman Derek Sanders gives the song does it justice. Perhaps somewhere the rest of Kid Named Chicago (Lancaster’s previous band who originally performed the track) are thinking the same thing. “Kids in Love” and “Bruised and Scarred” star here, but take nothing away from “Terrible Things,” a sweet, endearing ballad backed by a heaping dose of driving piano that should pluck at your heartstrings early, and often. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Terrible Things”     

Purchase - Worst Thing I've Been Cursed With
File Under: Summer Time Powerpop
Sparks the Rescue – Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With (Fearless): Ok, frivolous songwriting aside (um, “Better Side of Me” anyone?), Sparks the Rescue’s Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With isn’t all that much of curse to be honest. Sure, by the time the second track, “She’s A Bitch, And I’m a Fool” hits your speakers you’ll already have a pretty firm grasp of how the album will play out – clean guitars and huge hooks just aching to sung along to, with witty vocals that mostly stay the course throughout. Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With is sunny from start to finish, and chances are you won’t see nary a cloud in the sky while listening, evidenced by tracks built for summer listening (“High and Hazy,” “Postcard of Tidal Wave”). Though there are some tracks along the way that don’t seem like all that good a fit on Worst Thing (“Vanities,” “Holiday”), as well as the afore mentioned “Better Side of Me” which sounds like a poor attempt at radio ready nu-rock, there are songs that offer up different looks at Sparks the Rescue’s sonic capabilities. “60 Seconds of Fame” shows a nice pop-punk prowess with killer hooks and “How to Make a Heart Hollow” finds the bands waxing emotional at an endearing, tempered rate. Whichever way you choose to look at it, Sparks the Rescue’s Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With looks good from all angles. ( 
Grade: B
Go Download: “60 Seconds of Fame”

Purchase - Sin-Atra
File Under: Ol’ Blue Eyes Gone Metal
Various Artists – Sin-atra (Armoury): Sin-atra as a whole seems confusing right from the start, because, honestly, it just doesn’t seem all that necessary. An all-star cast of aping metal dudes jamming classic (Ok, legendary) Frank Sinatra tunes isn’t something you’d be wishing for in a covers album. Sin-atra falters right from the get go, as the album literally put its best foot forward in opening track “New York, New York” as performed by Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Band). This track in and of itself is excellent, with Townsend’s trademark operatic voice filling in the song’s theatrical shoes nicely. It’s just too bad that, from here on in, the album takes a nosedive. On paper, some of these songs should have been tremendous, like Geoff Tate’s (Queensryche) rendition of “Summerwind” and Joey Belladonna’s (Anthrax) version of “Strangers in the Night,” songs that should have led the charge on Sin-atra, but ultimately fade into the background. “Love and Marriage” with Nonpoint’s Elias Soriano isn’t terrible, but it’s not great, as it just sort of lingers, but at least some of the album’s follies are bailed out by Dee Snider’s (Twisted Sister) take on “It Was a Very Good Year,” perhaps the albums best executed moment. Leave it to Snider to save the day again. Sin-atra is alright as far as gimmicks go, and while it does warrant a listen if for nothing else but shock value, be sure to temper your expectation. (
Grade: C
Go Download: “It Was a Very Good Year”

Purchase - Live From Cadogan Hall
File Under: Live & Acoustic
Marillion – Live from Cadogan Hall (Eagle/Racket): Marillion’s Live from Cadogan Hall is comprehensive to say the least. Documenting the bands acoustic tour in support of their Less is More album, Live from Cadogan Hall is two-discs of Marillion is all their six-string glory. The first disc features the band entire Less is More album, minus its closer “Cannibal Surf Babe,” and LIM’s penultimate “This is the 21st Century” gets transformed into the disc’s closer, a transformation that goes more than smoothly. Though the pace of the first disc moves along rather slowly (um, blame acoustic guitars?) the interludes and banter between songs keeps things interesting enough. The second disc finds Marillion mostly waxing nostalgic, digging into their impressive back catalog of tunes to round out their set list, with tunes like “Easter,” “Beautiful” and “You’re Gone” highlighting the night’s festivities for the most part. Though Live from Cadogan Hall isn’t the Marllion’s first soiree into the live release arena, the material housed within offers a unique look at a number of the bands best cuts. (     
Grade: B-
Go Download: “You’re Gone”