Formed over the summer of 2001 in Louisville, Kentucky, Black Cross rose from the ashes of two of the city's most well known bands, By The Grace Of God and The National Acrobat. One loved for their positive, political hardcore, the other notorious for mind bending, sarcastic noisecore, the melding of the two bands seemed an unlikely union. Yet, when The National Acrobat guitarists Ryan and Evan Patterson joined By The Grace Of God singer Rob Pennington (also of Endpoint notoriety) and drummer Thommy Browne, a bond was immediately formed. United in their love of DC hardcore, a coming of age through the early 90's hardcore scene, and a desire to emphasize the aspects of hardcore and punk that they held dear, they formed Black Widows. The result was a scorching sound that wore its influences on its sleeve - landing somewhere in the middle of Black Flag's aggressive early years, Swiz's frantic guitar work and Drive Like Jehu's mathematic noise-rock. They quickly recorded their debut CD EP, Black Widows Stops A Beating Heart, and released it on the label Ryan co-runs, Initial Records, in May 2002 (it was also released on 10" vinyl on Reflections Records from The Netherlands).

They hit the road soon after, awing receptive audiences at every stop, filling a void that many had apparently desperately needed. Touching equally upon personal and political issues, Black Widows didn't just dictate a message, they attempted to communicate and share their ideas with those in attendance, joining together in their quest to find answers and take the next step in life and within the hardcore community. Black Widows signed with Equal Vision Records in late 2002, and shortly thereafter found that another band held the rights to the name 'Black Widow(s).’ As they were completing writing the songs that would comprise their debut album, they finally decided to change their name to Black Cross, a moniker as ambiguous as it is ominous.

In December 2002 they entered a Louisville recording studio with Washington DC musician and famed indie rock producer J. Robbins behind the board. Known for his musical output in the bands Burning Airlines, Jawbox and Government Issue and his recording/production of indie/emo figureheads Jets To Brazil, The Promise Ring and Braid, Black Cross chose Robbins based on his work with lesser known post-hardcore acts like Kerosene 454 and Bluetip.

The outcome is Art Offensive, a twelve song album that shows Black Cross stepping away from their collective influences and finding a voice all their own. Alternately more melodic and at times far more chaotic and destructive than their previous efforts, the songs contained within still draw inspiration from DC hardcore and arty mathrock while funneling early punk rock and even a wide variety of indie rock. It's catchy, devastating, personal, political, inspiring, foreboding, anthemic and back again, all within a scant 26 minutes.

Long Island, NY. The largest island adjoining the continental US, birthplace of Walt Whitman, location of the internationally known rich-and-famous resort playground, "The Hamptons," sprawling suburb of New York City. A calm, peaceful place where much of New York's workforce resides to escape the chaos of city life. This is the backdrop that inspired Blood Red's debut album, Hostage.

Blood Red formed in the Fall of 2001 after the demise of two of Long Island's most revered melodic hardcore bands, Silent Majority and Inside. Tommy Corrigan had become a well-loved frontman during his days as vocalist for Silent Majority, known for his honest lyrics that pulled no punches and his instantly recognizable voice and delivery. At nearly the same time, one of Long Island's other mainstays was meeting its end. Inside disbanded, leaving its members, including Tommy's brother Vincent Corrigan, Craig Willis and Tom Comerford (both trained music teachers), anxious to pursue new musical outlets. The four joined together with plans to create a melodic hardcore band similar to 7 Seconds but soon found themselves following a somewhat different path.

Their name was derived from a U2 song, and after the four began writing songs their common love for the Irish rockers began surfacing in their sound. Built upon the rhythm section of Vincent's somber basslines and Craig's solid drumming, the band began to drift into a world of hypnotic echoing guitar work and textured arrangements. Tommy's forceful voice had grown with age, soaring above the music - a guiding light in a sea of faceless cookie-cutter bands.

Soon after a self released demo and a quick EP on Redwood Records, Blood Red retreated to their home on the South Shore of Long Island to write Hostage. The band then entered Magic Shop studios in NYC to record with friend Juan Garcia behind the board. Garcia's long history of working with acts as diverse as NYC post-hardcore heroes Quicksand to even Lou Red and Bjork gave Blood Red the chance to use his experience to their advantage. The recording sessions gave the band freedom to experiment and craft the album they dreamed of - a sprawling debut album that reaches deep within the lives, loves and strife of suburban life. A record that, as Tommy Corrigan states, dares to touch on the subjects that "people are too scared to talk about." A tour de force that owes as much to the work of the mid-80's college rock classics as it does the hardcore community from which the band was bred.

Providing a common ground between current faves like THURSDAY, THRICE and TAKING BACK SUNDAY and melodic hardcore classics like DAG NASTY, BLUE SKY MILE carves a new path by learning from their influences, not mimicking them. Originally hailing from various points across the US and converging in Seattle, BLUE SKY MILE formed in early 2001. Consisting of five, self proclaimed “twenty-something college students, graduates, and dropouts,” BSM’s self-effacing humor belies the grandiose leanings of their musical output. Precise, interlocking guitar work runs behind the acid-tongue of singer Jerry Kansky, spitting his diatribes with a bittersweet melodic passion. Produced and recorded by Joel Brown at Hall Of Justice studios (owned by Chris Walla of DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, home base studio of Barsuk Records), Sands Once Seas tackles and conquers weighty lyrical themes and extraordinary musical ground. Standing head and shoulders above their contemporaries, BLUE SKY MILE at once embraces their musical roots and lays waste to all comparisons. A mixture of intricate indie rock, melodic hardcore sensibilities and dazzling, inspired emotional rock takes BLUE SKY MILE into the stratosphere of today’s musical heavyweights.

Few modern hardcore bands have fused a deep rooted political consciousness with a passion for their musical art like Boy Sets Fire. One would be hard pressed to name a more sincerely socially aware hardcore band that comes to mind more quickly than the Delaware outfit. Driven by the unrelenting burden of their unique sociopolitical perspective and an urgent need to communicate to a wide audience through the heavy/melodic hardcore medium, Boy Sets Fire have promoted discussion, debate and dialogue like few other bands before them.
Emotionally charged, heartfelt and honest, Boy Sets Fire mix aggression and thought provoking ideas into a positive blend of melody and abrasive music. There are plenty of bands out there that never tell us why they're so pissed off. Boy Sets Fire lets us know exactly what they're angry about, point by point.

"We have a good mix of politics- social and political," says drummer Matt Krupanski. "We incorporate that through our music and lyrics. In our live shows, we put those things hand in hand. We play our songs but we also talk a lot during our sets. We try to establish a solid line of communication between the audience and band about our beliefs."
Having played together and apart in different Newark bands like Swivel, Lean and Nine, Krupanski, guitarists Chad Istvan and Joshua Latshaw, bassist Darrell Hyde and outspoken vocalist Nathan Gray came together in 1994. "We all wanted to start a band that was different than what Newark was used to," Matt recollects. "We got together with no specific goal besides doing something different, and talking about issues and our beliefs. We wanted to teach, and to be taught about issues that involve every aspect of our own personal lives, and everyone's personal lives. We try to establish communication where we can let people know about specific institutions that hinder everyone's individual thought and progression."

The band quickly became popular around the country after the release of a self financed single (“Consider,” now available through Initial) and a raw but ground breaking split LP with Jazz Man's Needle, the songs from which later appeared as “This Crying, This Screaming, My Voice Is Being Born” CD on Magic Bullet. These two releases set the stage for what would develop the band's reputation: thick, abrasive guitars balanced by sometimes soft rhythms and a vocal style that varies between screamed and sung.

But it was their debut full length- the massively successful "The Day The Sun Went Out"- that fully defined Boy Sets Fire's sound. The album is marked by bitingly political commentary, and perhaps the most emotive hardcore since the glory days of Falling Forward, Endpoint and Split Lip. Boy Sets Fire managed to find their own sound while wearing their diverse punk and hardcore influences on their sleeves, nearly rivaling genre defining records by bands like Fugazi and Avail while still retaining a youthful edge and sincerity.
“The Day The Sun Went Out” has already become a classic to many. Boy Sets Fire are now a band almost above comparisons; other bands are now compared to them. The album was a huge commercial and critical success, garnering praise from diverse rags like Kerrang!, Maximum Rock N' Roll, Alternative Press, Magnet and Rockpile.

"In Chrysalis," the band's latest release on Initial and follow up to an inventive split single with Coalesce (Hydra Head) pairs a handful of new songs with a cover of "Holiday In Cambodia," an homage to their political predecessors Dead Kennedys. More recently, Boy Sets Fire contributed two songs to a split with Snapcase on Equal Vision Records, which has already become Equal Visions fastest selling release to date.

Despite seven US tours- including stints with Avail, Snapcase, The Enkindels and Brother's Keeper- and a five week trek through Europe under their belts, Boy Sets Fire have managed to keep their line-up intact and survive two marriages and three children amongst the band.
Obviously, they're in it for the proverbial long haul. "It's become pretty much full time," Matt says. "It's not as easy as it may seem to do what we do, but we try not to stray away from the path that we've accomplished as a band."

"The main purpose of the band is to open ourselves musically and politically," Matt says, stressing that they enjoy playing "to audiences that we feel would like to understand, accept and possibly learn from who we are as Boy Sets Fire."

BREATHER RESIST unleashes an unrelenting wave of potent, searing heavy music. Hailing no allegiance to metal nor its bastardized offspring, BREATHER RESIST takes its cues alternately from the brutal noise of the AmRep era, the precise pummeling of the Jesus Lizard, and the pure rage of Kiss It Goodbye.

Omaha, Nebraska is a hotbed of musical talent. Coincidentally, so is Stephen Pedersen. Here's a brief recap of his musical life from the last 8 years and a few words about his new band, CRITERIA.

After relieving himself of duties as rock guitarist for indie stalwarts CURSIVE, Mr. Pedersen surreptitiously moved to Durham, NC . . actually, no, that's not exactly right. He let everyone (or at least his friends still willing to listen) know he'd decided to "matriculate" to the Duke University School of Law. Upon arrival in NC, Mr. Pedersen wrote a record in about 7 days. He formed a band called THE WHITE OCTAVE and released Style #6312 (Deep Elm). Shortly thereafter The White Octave joined the reputable roster of Initial Records and released a critically accliamed second album, Menergy. That record title (and cover) weirded people out but the music was cool.

After releasing and touring behind Menergy, THE WHITE OCTAVE broke up. Mr Pedersen came back to Omaha and lived in a friend's basement for six months. He was unable to stand up straight in the basement, but the rent was great and he loved his landlords. Mr. Pedersen wrote some more songs. He writes songs pretty much all the time. He has since he was 16 or so (he learned from Tim Kasher of CURSIVE & THE GOOD LIFE - Tim's the best. Period.). Steve describes his music as "riff-rock." But it's much more than that. It's massive-anthem-power-pop-riff-rock. Imagine if WEEZER had the guts of QUICKSAND and DOUG MARTCSH (BUILT TO SPILL) could scream. If you can imagine that and it appeals to you, then you will love CRITERIA's first full length entitled En Garde.

Mr. Pedersen has had this to say about CRITERIA: En Garde, "It's the closest I've come to painting." Huh? Regardless, Mike Sweeney (session drummer for bright eyes) played the drums on the record, Ian McElroy (keys player for DESAPARECIDOS) laid down some keyboards and A.J. Mogis (bassist for LULLABY FOR THE WORKING CLASS and PRESTO RECORDING engineer) played bass on a couple of tunes and also laid down some keys and a vocal. It took Steve some time to get his shit together to finish this record. He tells us, "making the record is the best part." Having heard this, however, we can assure you Mr. Pedersen is no stranger to the stage. He's been an obnoxious showoff ever since he could dunk a basketball (15 yrs old).

Now, CRITERIA is a band. Mike Sweeney plays drums. Aaron Druery plays guitar. AJ Mogis plays bass and sings. Stephen Pedersen sings and plays his guitar.

This eight-song CD has four brand new ones plus the much sought after, and out of print Buried Alive 7". Featuring members of Snapcase and Despair, this CD delivers that upstate New York style of tight, pounding, super energetic hardcore. Real catchy. Real hardcore!

"All we know is what we do," says Elliott frontman and guitarist/vocalist Chris Higdon, when quizzed about his band. "We put our heart into this and dedicate everything to it. We take everything that we know and everything that we're kind of interested in and push it into one format. That way it creates its own kind of vibe."

Everything, indeed. The creativity of Radiohead. The dreamy accessibility of Sunny Day Real Estate. The angst and unbridled energy of the Foo Fighters. And more.
Elliott are truly a band that is the sum of its dynamic parts. Guitarist Jay Palumbo's late-'80's-new-wave listening habits and mesmerizing stage presence lay nicely atop drummer Kevin Ratterman's sturdy back-beat and industrial-inspired, classically structured keyboard and sampler effects. Bassist Jonathan Mobley's jazz influences are marginally audible as well, but it’s Higdon's soaring, near-ethereal vocal melodies and other-worldly voice that sometimes transcend the words and their meanings themselves. But none of this ever sacrifices the overall stealth and warmth of the bands emotive songs.

If you think you've fallen in love with Higdon's voice before, you're probably right. Elliott formed in late 1995 after the dissolution of Chris and Jonathan's monumental band Falling Forward just a year before. Falling Forward's classic Hand Me Down LP continues to be one of Initial's strongest selling accomplishments, and is considered by many to be a truly genre defining record.

After Falling Forward, "We got together and started going through some songs," Chris remembers, "just to see if we wanted to play music again."

As it turned out, they just couldn't keep away. But this time if they were going to do it, they were determined to dedicating themselves to perfecting their craft.

"Playing music is the easiest way that I've found to express myself and communicate," Chris explains. "The way that has really clicked. I tried painting, drawing. I eventually got into photography- then music was the next step. Its what makes us the most fulfilled. Its the best way for us to relate to people."

A few four track recordings later and Elliott was rolling. Jay- who's also impressive hardcore resume includes By The Grace Of God and Empathy- came soon after. He was followed shortly by Kevin. Falling Forward drummer Ben appears on the bands earliest recordings.
1996 saw the band release their first EP, In Transit on Initial. Recorded in Lafayette, Indiana at the semi-legendary Sonic Iguana Studios (Squirt Gun, Screeching Weasel), the inventively packaged single was quick to reestablish the momentum built up by the band member's former outfits.

"I like those songs and we still play them," Chris says of In Transit, "but they aren't as cohesive as the stuff we're working on now. They are somewhat immature as far as the writing process went, but they were very passionate for us at that time."

The single was enough to get the band noticed by Revelation Records, who snatched them up and released a set of their post-In Transit demos as the US Songs album.

If They Do... (a sister single to its Revelation counterpart, ... Will You?) is a collection of songs that span Elliott's entire career so far: two brand new tracks, the two songs from In Transit, a song never released from those sessions and a rerecorded instrumental version of "Halfway Pretty."

The two new songs (which will also be released as a seven inch) were recorded at the band's loft/studio, and show a range of emotion and depth heretofore uncharted.

According to Chris, the new songs "will bridge the gap between US Songs and our next album. Its kind of a steady progression. You'll be able to see it musically. We're pushing ourselves to create something new and exciting and different for us."

After touring Europe and the US in 2000 and 2001, a slightly dirty but enriched Elliott came home, rebooted, and in July of 2001 - began recording and investigating the new songs they had been making together. Song in the Air, Elliott's third full length, is the first record they have made with the addition of Benny Clark on guitar and Jason Skaggs on bass. The idea was to make a quick and easy EP but the ideas kept coming and songs kept growing. At times the prospect of insanity didn't seem too far off... But, finally, in November of 2002 the project was finished. Song In The Air had been created.

Tracks from Song in the Air are some of Elliott's best yet. These songs are infused with an immediate - urgent, feeling.... and that gives us, the listeners, a view of something that hasn't been cleaned up and fabricated.

One of Louisville, Kentucky’s longest running bands, The Enkindels were a staple in the emo, hardcore and punk rock scene from 1992 - 2001. Finally settling into their sound with 1998’s smash hit, “Buzzclip 2000”, they gained hooks along with maturity over the years. Their final album, “Can’t Stop The Enkindels,” solidified their place as punk superstars. Produced by Ed Rose (Get Up Kids, Coalesce) at Red House studios in Eudora, Kansas, it was undoubtedly The Enkindels most characteristic work - including full on AC/DC style rock to self realized pop punk to honest and personal softer songs.

Hand Me Down, the 1994 debut album from Lousville, Kentucky's Falling Forward, whose members went on to form Elliott, was a defining moment in the evolution of melodic, emotional hardcore. Long before ‘emo’ had become a catchphrase recognized the world over, many hardcore bands began their quest to merge the abrasive elements of their past with the melody of alternative rock. Falling Forward became an essential part of this progression with this album, showcasing singer Chris Higdon’s soaring melodic vocals and insightful, sincere lyrics along with the band’s powerful hardcore punch.

Art rock hard rock? Is there such a thing? Can the foot stomping quality of AC/DC, soaring melodic angst of NIRVANA, mathematic thunder of MELVINS and arty aggression of THE JESUS LIZARD be woven into a snarling form of progressive hardcore? We say it can, and HARKONEN alone are the captains of this journey.

Boston, Massachusetts has come to be known for its wealth of legendary groups, combining hi-powered pop hooks with angular rock aggression. Helicopter Helicopter may not be influenced by The Cars, The Pixies, The Modern Lovers or The Lemonheads, but like those groups they know how to balance their musical angst with sweet melodies. At the forefront of this sound exists the partnership of Chris Zerby and Julie Chadwick, whose dual vocal harmonies and fuzzy twin guitars layer each song ten feet thick. Zerby and Chadwick are rock socialists; rather than having one front-person at the helm, they share the spotlight, adding intertwining vocals and sections to each other’s songs. At times Zerby even composes his patented abstract lyrics especially with Chadwick’s voice in mind. The result of this union has been a massive wealth of creative gems, three albums deep in the four years since the band’s inception.

Armed with a semi-detachable rhythm section the band has spread its gospel of large choruses and unforgettable hooks across the U.S. the old fashioned way, by touring. Benefits of the hard work put in include a loyal fan-base nationally, as well as selling out shows throughout New England. Helicopter Helicopter’s rising stature is recently evidenced in the Boston Globe, the daily newspaper of Boston (over 800,000 Circulation), which proclaimed the band “one of the best pop acts in town.” Constant writing and road testing of material has resulted in the album Wild Dogs with X-Ray Eyes arguably their most balanced work to date. Recorded with producer/engineer Matthew Ellard (Tanya Donnelly, Converge, Weezer, The Lemonheads, Sebadoh) at Q Division studios, Wild Dogs With X-Ray Eyes conjures thoughts of greats like Tom Petty, Guided By Voices, and The Flaming Lips, securing H2’s place among of Boston's long line of incredible rock bands. Equipped with a sound that creates an arresting mixture of contemporary and classic influences, Helicopter Helicopter has unleashed one of the year’s most majestic and powerful rock albums.

Everybody has a dark side. Philadelphia’s Ink And Dagger were just trying to help you get in touch with yours. Their all-too-short career saw them go from aggressive DC styled aggro punk to techno-enhanced masters of noisecore to finally tripped-out experimental hardcore / psychedelic fusion. The almighty Ink And Dagger’s first releases were progressive hardcore along the lines of Swiz, done with unbridled passion and unique vocals. Think bloodsucking, theft of souls, nocturnal adventures, and punk rock. By the end, long gone were the Swiz and Circus Lupus inspired hardcore blasts that they began with, the Daggers took their experimentation to the next level. Dreamy, psychedelic trips with some of their patented aggression, but none of the moshable grooves. Their noisecore / hypnotic fusion was complete, the influence of bands like Pink Floyd and Aphex Twin apparent, but never sounding like imitators or ever losing the essence of what made Ink & Dagger great - their attitude. If their first full length was over your head, their final work will decapitate you. Undeniably one of the best bands of the 90’s and one of the most boundary-pushing hardcore bands of all time. You will be missed, Sean.

Formed in 1996 in Kutztown, PA, the Jazz June have survived the mid-90’s “emo” explosion, its inevitable backlash and current media notoriety - and emerged relatively unscathed. The only noticeable scars appear in the form of their music - which has taken leaps and bounds beyond the simplicity of the jangly pop present on their earliest work. They’ve grown up in the years since - if The Medicine was their Revolver, then Better Off Without Air is the Jazz June’s White Album. A varied, mature slab of catchy and impassioned indie rock that finds the band jumping a few steps up their evolutionary ladder.

King For A Day, featuring members of Detroit luminaries Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade and The Great Detroit Riverboat Race, produce highly memorable upbeat and melodic, emotional pop. The well thought out rhythms and song structures coupled with driving guitars and smooth dual vocals will have their relentless use of harmonies stuck in your head for days. King For A Day is not to be missed by fans of bands like Hot Water Music, Elliott and Jimmy Eat World.

From the rotten underbelly of Louisville, Kentucky, LORDS has risen. The blasphemous sound erupts from a frenzy of Gibson guitars, Marshall amps, and thunderous pawnshop liberated drums, piloted by four scruffy miscreants. Their songs barely last a minute and a half - rather than getting right to
the point LORDS runs circles around it. Comparisons aren’t obvious, because LORDS are sharp enough to know not to rip off their influences. The easy answer might be BLACK FLAG meets KARP with early IRON MAIDEN guitar runs
sprinkled throughout…hints of old RYE COALITION and INK & DAGGER can also be found if you look hard enough. Ultimately, LORDS are a creation all their own, a stunning and rare feat in these days of faux punks and manufactured angst. Bow down and enter the house that LORDS built.

One of many bands that never seemed to get their due during their existence, THE NATIONAL ACROBAT established a legacy that finds the band reaching nearer to legendary status as each year passes. Its members have gone on to form the backbone of Louisville, Kentucky’s current indie music scene in BLACK CROSS (Equal Vision Records), CHRISTIANSEN (Revelation Records), BREATHER RESIST (Deathwish Inc), and Initial’s newest signing – LORDS. Along with their friends and contemporaries in CAVE IN, ISIS, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, BURN IT DOWN, HARKONEN, ANODYNE, BURNT BY THE SUN, KEELHAUL and others, they were part of a brief but important explosion of bands formed with roots in the ideas and urgency of hardcore, yet forging beyond that genre’s restraints to include elements of many other musical styles. Briefly dubbed “noisecore” by indie press, the ad hoc anti-movement disappeared as quickly as it began. Some bands broke up, others skyrocketed in popularity, some still toil in obscurity. THE NATIONAL ACROBAT broke up. TNA, the title originally planned for their never completed full length, compiles every single song ever recorded by THE NATIONAL ACROBAT. All three CD EP’s, the 7”, as well as various compilation tracks, selected live tracks, and an unreleased SEX PISTOLS cover song are included here.

Formed in 1998 by guitarist / songwriter Evan Patterson (now of BLACK CROSS and BREATHER RESIST) and also including Ryan Patterson (BLACK CROSS), Robby Scott (CHRISTIANSEN), and Stephen George (LORDS), THE NATIONAL ACROBAT set forth on a mission to burn every musical bridge they crossed. Fronted by vocalist Casper Adams, whose bratty onstage antics coupled with the meticulously constructed musical mayhem provided the perfect amount of levity for the barrage of sonic fury let loose by the rest of the band, and earned the Acrobat a reputation as a formidable and always entertaining live act. While THE NATIONAL ACROBAT took their cues from sources like THE NATION OF ULYSSES, BORN AGAINST, DEADGUY, DRIVE LIKE JEHU, and JESUS LIZARD, they were often compared to contemporary bands such as REFUSED, INK & DAGGER, and BOTCH.

Your new favorite band has arrived, the Initial Records debut from New Jersey's PAULSON. No matter what your musical background, you'll find
something to love about PAULSON. There's technical innovation, smart lyrics and a list of obscure influences a mile long. A long residency within the hardcore / punk scene has translated to a storied live show and the band's CAVE-IN-plus-FAILURE-plus-drum-and-bass sound will delight even the most jaded ears.

Variations is dark and powerful. Beginning with the semi-instrumental bounce of 'Diaryland' and ending with a haunting rearrangement of jazz standard My Funny Valentine, the record showcases the band's dramatic breadth and deepening maturity. This record is poised to catapult them from the New Jersey Turnpike to coordinates unknown. Look for them on tour all summer!

Elizabeth Elmore made a substantial mark on the American indie rock scene in the late 90’s. Her former band, Sarge, exploded with a barrage of press coverage and fanatic fandom, not only dominating the indie press circuit but appearing everywhere from Rolling Stone (named “Hot Band” in 98’s “Hot Issue”) and Spin to Playboy and Interview. Elmore was only 22 at the time and, in her own words, “had no clue what to think.” The attention was well deserved. Sarge played fast power pop with scathingly honest vocals, and Elizabeth never pulled a punch or hesitated to speak her mind. Then, at the height of their popularity, they quietly disbanded in December 1999.

Elizabeth entered Northwestern Law School, began touring simply under the name “Elizabeth Elmore,” released a split single with Hey Mercedes / Braid’s Bob Nanna, found permanent members, then christened the band with the moniker they found most fitting - The Reputation.

So why give the project a proper name and not continue under her own name?
Elmore explains, “It is my band but it's a band, y'know? I write the songs and take care of the business, but when we're in the van together, we function as a band. If we'd played under my name, they could have been seen as ‘backup players’ but they’re all an invaluable part of this band.”

Rounding out the band are Joel Root (bass), a current member of Chicago avant-jazz group Andiamo, Sean Hulet (guitar), formerly of Moreno, and drummer Matt Espy, formerly of Southern Record's Atombombpocketknife. Before Espy signed on, former Sarge drummer Chad Romanski lent his talents to all the album’s songs.

Elmore’s music draws its influence from a wide, and seemingly unassociated, variety of sources - Washington DC post-hardcore, alt-country, 70’s singer/songwriters, indie rock, and her own favorites from childhood.

“The thing is, it would be hard to find direct connections between most of the music I listen to and the music we play,” Elizabeth stresses. “I don't know why, the music I listen to has just never sounded much like the music we play. I grew up on classical music, old country and bluegrass, 80's pop - Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Cyndi Lauper, the whole bit. I'm sure all of those things have worked their way into my brain.”

Whatever the source, The Reputation takes considerable leaps and bounds in Elmore’s songwriting abilities. A focused, concise, and -dare we say it? - mature pop record, the ten songs found within run the gamut from punkish power pop to stirring piano driven epics. Of course, her unique approach to lyrics is still intact, but her outlook may have changed a bit.
When asked about her lyrics, Elizabeth states, “The best way I can explain it is that as far as I can tell, I am too brutally honest and opinionated for most people. I think with Sarge, I was usually trying to understand why people acted the way they did. These days, I don't even try.”

Featuring guest appearances by Jay Bennett (Wilco), Josh Berman (Him), Fred Erskine (June Of 44, Him, Hoover), Nate Walcott (a touring member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra) and production by Bennett, Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio, Sarge), and Mike Lust (Sweep The Leg Johnny, Lustre King), The Reputation’s debut album is a sterling, pristine work of unabashed pop that provides the perfect disguise to force feed Elizabeth Elmore’s straight forward lyrical approach. The sugar to help the medicine go down, so to speak.

The band has taken on a head-spinning nearly non-stop touring schedule in 2002, trekking across the entire US many times over. A recent string of dates with alt. rock luminary Juliana Hatfield left Hatfield’s audiences stunned by The Reputation’s jaw dropping live show. Appearances with Girls Against Boys, Evan Dando (Lemonheads), the Anniversary, the Faint, Rainer Maria, Local H, Ben Kweller, Thursday, the Liars, Denali, Agent Orange, Ultimate Fakebook, Milemarker, and Dismemberment Plan, among others, has solidified the band’s reputation (pun fully intended) as one of the most powerful rock acts on the indie circuit today.

As much a tribute to their hometown of Tacoma, Washington as a source for the most anthemic blue collar rock and roll hymns this side of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's Darkness On The Edge Of Town, ROY could be Washington State's best indie rock band since the early 90's grunge explosion. Including former BOTCH members Dave Verellen and Brian Cook (also of THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES) as well as current HARKONEN leader Ben Verellen among their ranks, ROY crafts killer jangly indie rock tunes that bring to mind favorites like BUILT TO SPILL, DINOSAUR JR., GUIDED BY VOICES and at times even NIRVANA. (No, we've never heard of NIRVANA either.) While this might seem like a vast departure from the members' other bands, ROY's honest and stripped-down approach will have you humming along and pumping your fist in no time.

By now all in-the-know music lovers, post-punkers, and independent rock fans are certainly familiar with Louisville, Kentucky’s PETER SEARCY and his musical legacy. In his early teens Peter was the singer of one of the most important and influential punk bands to come out of Louisville, and the 80’s for that matter, SQUIRREL BAIT. Their energetic and unintentionally brilliant teenage punk rock turned the heads of everyone from their inspirations (notably Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould) to the mainstream press (yes, Spin was quoted as saying Peter had “the best voice in rock and roll next to Paul Westerberg.”) After Squirrel Bait’s demise, Peter formed the cherished alt-rock band BIG WHEEL, who released three wonderful albums and dissolved in the early 90’s, giving way to his next project, STARBILLY. Starbilly essentially refined and focused the sound Searcy began with Big Wheel, although label and lineup problems prevented the band from ever reaching its full potential.

Peter’s decision to enter the realm of solo artist in the late 90’s was a logical step – he’d been the singer and primary songwriter for his last two bands, as well as the focal point of Squirrel Bait. He joined the roster of the now-defunct Time Bomb Records, along with Sunny Day Real Estate, Social Distortion and the Reverend Horton Heat, and in 2000 released his first solo album, Could You Please And Thank You. The album’s first single, “Losing Light Fast,” became an instant hit everywhere from MTV (high rotation on M2 and on MTV’s “120 Minutes”) to modern rock radio (where it broke into Billboard’s Modern Rock Top 50). The album quickly sold over 15,000 copies, but Time Bomb’s abrupt closing soon after the release squashed the album’s growth and left Peter in label limbo.

Never one for complacency, Peter began writing new songs for what would become his next album. He also relentlessly played shows up and down the East Coast. Either alone with his acoustic guitar or with a backing band, Peter would perform alongside his post-punk brethren like Bob Mould and Evan Dando, hardcore upstarts Black Cross, and even the legendary Bob Dylan. In the basement of his Louisville home, Peter constructed a makeshift home studio and started recording demos of his new songs. The compositions, performed alone with only his acoustic guitar, contained a stark, undeniable strength and compelling honesty that immediately struck Peter, as well as, the friends who heard the recordings.

While work on his next full band “rock” album continued, Peter threw himself into writing and recording an entire album, played entirely on acoustic instruments, all performed by himself and recorded at home. A talented multi-instrumentalist (his cello talents have appeared on albums by Freakwater, Black Cross and Butch Walker), Peter also plays piano, mandolin, cello, and occasional percussion on the eleven songs recorded for the album, including a stunning new version of “Losing Light Fast.”

The outcome is the humbly titled Couch Songs, Peter’s first release in over three years and without a doubt among the strongest in his recorded history. This is Peter Searcy as we’ve never heard him, sounding at once familiar yet surprisingly different. Couch Songs presents one of the best and most unmistakable voices of the last twenty years of rock music in its most honest and natural state.

Long Island, NY’s Silent Majority are a straight forward hardcore band with little use for extra frills like abstract lyrics, artsy pretensions or even "professional" bios; hell, half of the time they'd rather not even be called a hardcore band. They aren't really concerned with being "this kind" or "that kind" of band, just a good band. And as far as being a good band is concerned, they sorta fail at that- because they're a great band.
There is no finer example of Silent Majority's simple melodies and complex yet catchy rhythms than You Would Love To Know, their brand new five song EP on Initial.
Silent Majority play upbeat and to the point rock that ranges through a variety of tempos, painting lyrical pictures that fill your mind while pleasing your ears with catchy melodies built for sing-a-longs. Their energy matches that of bands like Avail, and their music often draws comparisons to the semi-legendary Lifetime. But ultimately, this up-and-coming band is in a class all of their own.

The New York based band has been around for nearly a decade. In 1994, Silent Majority released a self financed, self titled demo, and soon after a single called This Island Earth on Reservoir. Drummer Ben VanDyke joined guitarists Rich Jacovina and Ryan Heyner and vocalist Tommy Corrigan for the band's second single, Distant Second, also on Reservoir.
The band's first full length was released on the NYC based label, Wreck-Age / Exit, appropriately titled Life Of A Spectator- highlighting Corrigan's unique gift for telling simple but thought provoking stories. Jacovina points out that the band's lyrics are "not cryptic at all. It's definitely a conscious decision on Tommy's part to be that way. If you want to tell a story, there are a lot of different ways, but the easiest way to do it is to go straight to the point."

Silent Majority later collected each of their singles and four other songs and released them as the Based On A True Story CD, also on Wreck Age / Exit. Bassist Nick Ghambarian joined up afterwards, and makes his debut with the band on You Would Love To Know. Silent Majority have completed five US tours, sharing stages with Indecision, Kill Your Idols and Milhouse among other bands. They have also made appearances at both Initial Records' Krazy Fests.

Jacovina sums up the Silent Majority mission this way: "The bottom line is that when we're together we just enjoy writing good songs. The best part is coming up with new songs and playing them for people.

Ultimate Fakebook singer / guitarist Bill McShane was weaned on 80’s pop anthems. From a young age he was entranced by the undeniable magic of pop melodies, big hooks and even bigger choruses. These days, McShane bounces around the stage like a child on a pogo stick, Fender Strat slung across his neck and horn rimmed glasses struggling to hold onto the bridge of his nose - a constantly moving entity of manic rock energy. His sweet-as-sugar and smooth-as-ice vocal stylings recall the finer points of Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander. His guitar work is a seamlessly executed blend of four chord power pop and stinging rock leads.

“I never intended to be a singer,” McShane humbly states. “However, I did grow up loving early Prince and 80’s pop like Olivia Newton John... So singing evolved out of that I suppose. As for guitar, that’s easy; I saw a Dokken video for “In My Dreams” when I was a kid and that was it - I had to play the guitar in a rock band. Of course, once I grew up I moved away from the hair metal thing. But I can’t shed the desire to rock out and play huge guitar riffs and solos, even though I’m really only interested in trying to write memorable pop songs.”

While McShane’s melodies and riffs are the bait that hooks the unsuspecting listener, it’s UFB’s rock solid rhythm section that provides the band’s unbreakable backbone.
Bassist Nick Colby walks the fretboard of his road-worn Jazz Bass with ease, as talented a solo player as McShane, and provides the vocal harmonies to their anthemic choruses. Colby makes Yul Brenner look like a pantywaist - the shaven headed, muscle bound counterpart to McShane’s wiry frame, the yin to his yang at the front of the stage.

Of course, as Joe Strummer says, “A band is only as good as their drummer.” Hooks and melodies alone aren’t going to get your foot tapping and pulse jumping, the unflappable 4/4 backbeat laid down by drummer Eric Melin picks up the reigns in that department.
Melin throws his head to and fro, his chin-length mane whipping about like flames reaching for the long lost spirits of John Bonham and Keith Moon. Taking cues from Led Zeppelin III, Who’s Next, and Mac McNeilly’s work on The Jesus Lizard’s Goat, Melin plays the drums as though they are the paramount instrument, as though the guitar and bass only exist to back him up... And in some ways they do. Beating the skins with an exact, calculated intensity, using the drumsticks like baseball bats with a combination of Babe Ruth’s accuracy and Al Capone’s ferocity.

Since their beginning in Manhattan, Kansas on Halloween 1996 (they have since spread out to Lawrence and Kansas City, KS), Ultimate Fakebook has trekked across the entire U.S. many, many times over. Touring with such heavy weights as The Get Up Kids, At the Drive In, MXPX, Good Charlotte, Rival Schools, Sloan, Reggie and The Full Effect, Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, Hot Rod Circuit, Further Seems Forever, Nada Surf and Hey Mercedes, UFB have amassed a loyal and fanatic fanbase built solely on their live shows and top notch work ethic. After two full length albums on Noisome Records (1997’s Kissing Parties, 1999’s This Will Be Laughing Week), the second of which was re-released in 2000 by Sony / 550 Music. UFB joined the Initial Records roster in 2002 and released their third album, Open Up And Say Awesome, followed up by the Before We Spark EP in 2003.

If The Replacements perfected what Big Star attempted, then UFB has taken the next step - an edgy combination of Cheap Trick’s songwriting and Kiss’s cartoonish glory, a reminder of what we all loved about Weezer’s first album. In many ways, as all great bands are, UFB are a tribute to their favorite bands. They wear their influences on their sleeve, and are poised to take their place among them, the timeless icons of rock and roll.

Ask the members of The White Octave just what exactly their band’s name means, and you’ll get a variety of duck and covers, shifty dodging and conflicting answers.
“I can’t tell you [what it means],” drummer Robert Biggers insists. “I can lie. Because I don’t like what it actually means, I just like the sound of it. It sounds scientific and confidential and Russian.”

Guitarist Finn Cohen merely quips that “the White Octave is the name of a female crime-fighting duo in North Carolina.”

Bassist/ vocalist Lincoln Hancock is similarly non-forthcoming, cryptically adding: “I can only say that is has something to do with the way Steve sings.”

Ah yes, the way that Steve (or Stephen) sings, something we all are at liberty to comment on. As primary songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for The White Octave, Stephen Pedersen is the gravitational pull around which the other members’ considerable talents revolve. His voice sounds weathered, often unfocused, gritty, yet almost feminine. There’s an ache in his throat and a pain in his words that lend the band’s songs instant credibility. If nothing else, he sounds authentic, and what else could a band ever want to be?

Stephen first noticeably cut his chops as part of the band Cursive from 1992 to 1998. After the band’s dissolution, he left the Midwest for law school in North Carolina, where he hooked up with Hancock and Biggers, and eventually Cohen.

Pedersen’s striking presence notwithstanding, the band’s debut, Style No. 6313 (Deep Elm) was certainly a cohesive album, and a collaborative effort, with each member attacking his chosen instrument with skill.

Although the band appears on one of the many Emo Diaries compilations, their sound clearly climbs above the “e-word” genre’s restrictive barriers, blending post-hardcore, indie rock and straight up crunchy bounce convincingly. A striking, cathartic and gut-wrenching debut, Style… kicked open the door for the four North Carolina gents with the quickness, eventually peaking the interest of Kentucky indie powerhouse label Initial Records.

Menergy, The White Octave’s debut recording for Initial sees the band fully coming into their own. The album improves upon the first record in just about every way, from the sounds, to the arrangements, down to the nitty-gritty of the performances themselves. Biggers’, a former guitar player, has upped the ante with his drumming, having honed his skills with the instrument on the road. Finn and Steve’s “guitarmonies,” as Lincoln calls them, add a new dimension to the band’s sound.

Like their debut, The White Octave’s sophomore follow-up was produced by Bob Weston, semi-famous for co-crafting many a landmark album from Chavez, Archers of Loaf and Boys Life. Everything about Menergy sounds more focused, more exact in its execution, exuding confidence and the sexy pheromones that only rock n’ roll of the highest caliber can produce.

Taking their time stirring the stew and meticulously adding ingredients during the writing and recording processes was a big help. To paraphrase the great poet, Dr. Dre: “take your time to perfect a beat.”

“It took a long time to write the songs and get them to where everybody was happy with them,” Cohen recalls. “It was an intense experience, but extremely rewarding.”
“[The recording process] went super well,” Biggers concurs. “It sounds better than the first album. It rocks more. Recording was a lot more comfortable. The other album was my first time in a studio for more than a day. Bob has really become a friend of ours, so it was that much more a fun process.”

Weston’s bond with the band runs so deep that he knows exactly how they should sound from the get-go. “What you hear is pretty much what we played live,” Biggers gushes.
The ever-articulate Hancock is similarly ecstatic about Weston’s contributions.
“We really couldn't entrust the bass and drum sounds to anyone else. Bob records in such as way as to allow each instrument a natural space in which to work, which benefits a band such as ourselves who rely heavily on the interplay of all instruments. You can really hear everything very well on this record, yet the whole sound remains cohesive. There's breathing space, yet it's also very much in your face. He did a damned fine job.”

So since we can’t seem to get a straight answer about the White Octave’s name, what the crap is Menergy all about?

“Menergy,” Linc begins, “is the mysterious force that inspires and feeds our rock music. Without it, we could not rock. The illustration of the man with glowing erogenous zones only seeks to indicate those areas from which Menergy flows.

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