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Letter Kills – The Bridge

Letter Kills have definitely brought originality back to the front burner of music. Fresh and exuberant, sound they had a mission in mind to provide some change and originality from the often watered down music that fills the airwaves



When it comes to innovation and originality in music, the concept seems to be a lost art. Why be original with your music when you can easily rip off a currently successful formula? I mean, how many bands today sound so similar that you can’t even tell the difference? It is much easier for bands to take their influences within music and incorporate them into their sound; which in effect, is really just some slight variation of their musical influences. It happens all the time. It can best be addressed as an endless cycle that now includes prepping yourself with an image, a face-lift, and a makeover in hip clothes and crazy hairdos. It is becoming tiring and with each passing day, originality is fading away down a dead end road.

All is not lost. There is one band that is abruptly turning the car around and that band is Letter Kills. The music on their Island debut, The Bridge, offers a combination of inventiveness with powerful, potent melodies and sing-along choruses layered over guitars and music of early rock and roll.

The first thing that jumps out at you with Letter Kills is the double guitar combination that brings you back to the rock and roll days of AC/DC. Timothy Cordova and Dustin Lovelis, the guitarists of Letter Kills, really have carved out a guitar-driven hard rock sound that pound away relentlessly. The guitar work incorporates a pinch of punk infused hardcore that makes the sound a little sterner and a tad more gripping than 70’s style rock and roll. They also integrate some thriving guitar solos into the mix, which also bring up that nostalgic flair of the genre. It is a neat sound that definitely energizes the vigor and intensity of the music. The drums and bass lay low throughout the release but they do enough to keep everything stable while holding the music together; which is not overlooked.

The vocals of Matt Shelton really sit in a class of their own. His voice perfectly compliments the music behind him. The vocals are razor-sharp and unforgettable yet compelling enough to add some fire on top of the rock and roll bashing guitar sounds. Shelton’s vocals also have a tendency to speed up really quickly in machinegun like fashion. This really makes his vocals innovative and special. I’ve never heard anyone pull off his quick change of pace vocals in such an easy listening fashion.

Letter Kills have definitely brought originality back to the front burner of music. Fresh and exuberant, sound they had a mission in mind to provide some change and originality from the often watered down music that fills the airwaves. The ironic part of it is- if a band wanted to resemble Letter Kills, they wouldn’t know where to start. It’s safe to say that Letter Kills and uniqueness go hand in hand.

(Island Records)


The Ritualists – Painted People

The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music




After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.

“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.

Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.

“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.

There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.

(Out Of Line Music)

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The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk



The Decline

It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.

Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.

From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).

Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.

(Pee Records / Thousand Islands Records / Disconnect Disconnect Records / Bearded Punk Records)

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