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Issue 32 Cover - Feb/Mar, 2009 - Innocent Words
 
Featured Articles - Stories and Interviews Minimize
Stephanie Fischer
In promotion of their latest album, Appeal to Reason, Rise Against came back to their hometown of Chicago to perform two shows. They shared the stage with fellow Chicagoans Alkaline Trio, as well as two other great talents- Thrice and The Gaslight Anthem. When Rise Against takes the stage, the waiting audience stands watching. They are anticipating, not only the raw, heavy music, but also...
John B. Moore
You’d have to dig back to The Beatles or The Stones to find a rock band as influential as Cheap Trick. From metal bands to punk rockers and a slew of top 40 groups in between, Rockford, Illinois’, favorite sons have been a musician’s stable for three decades now. Just months ago, the band...
John B. Moore
Working on their second full-length – the follow-up to the insanely addictive Cuban Ballerina – San Francisco’s Dead to Me realized they were already sitting on a decent collection of songs. Rather than try to shoehorn the tracks onto the next record, the band decided to go ahead and release an EP. The result, the five-song Little Brother, is the first with the band’s permanent lineup consisting of Chicken on vocals and bass, Jack Dalrymple on guitar and vocals, Nathan Grice on guitar and Ian Anderson on drums. Chicken spoke with Innocent Words recently about the new EP...
Lisa Zyga
When Larkin Grimm was 20 years old, she dropped out of Yale (though she would later return to graduate), ran off to Alaska, and spent her nights sleeping in a tent. Depressed and alone, she describes her time there as "somewhere between a suicide mission and spiritual quest." Lying awake in her tent at night, she listened to music to pass the time. "When I’d hear bears outside my tent, I’d put my headphones on and listen to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection," recalls Grimm...
John B. Moore
Dustin Kensrue could very well be the James Brown of post-hardcore. With a second solo record out just months after Thrice’s ambitious project called "The Alchemy Index" – a series of four EPs all tied to the same theme – hit the shelves and weeks before Thrice releases a live DVD and CD, Kensrue is already planning on his band’s next full-length release. If not the hardest working man in post-hardcore, he’s certainly running an exhausting campaign for the title. We spoke with Kensrue recently...
John B. Moore
Ska bands are not exactly known for longevity. There’s a reason why the genre has had three or four different waves of popularity. Though someone obviously forgot to mention that to the guys in Reel Big Fish, now about 15 years and eight records into their career. On the eve of the their latest release, Fame, Fortune and Fornication, a covers-only album that manages to add horns to everyone from Poison to Tom Petty, the band is proudly without a record label and living out of suitcases yet again on an endless trek across the globe. Innocent Words spoke with Reel Big Fish front man and guitarist Aaron Barrett...

Book Reviews Minimize
Ever since the guitar pick up was invented, the instrument went on to change the guitar forever. Over the years the guitar player has evolved through many genres of music. But lately the instrument has lost some of its influence. However over the last few decades there has been some amazing guitar virtuoso’s in the metal genre that have influenced many. Freelance music writer Joel McIver writes for several music magazine and has penned more than a dozen books. His latest offering is...
Charles Peterson is a celebrated photographer who first earned national attention with his photos when they appeared as the art work on many early releases from his hometown label Sub Pop Records. Capturing intimate and raw "grunge" images, Peterson had his pics published in
At first glance, one would expect the usual cautionary tale of the evils of drugs and excess in hip hop with a bio on ODB. This aspect is there, considering the fact that the New York medical examiner's office had ruled the death of ODB (aka "Ol' Dirty Bastard," "Big Baby Jesus," "Dirt McGirt," etc.) to be an "Accidental overdose from a lethal combination of Tramadol and cocaine." However, Lowe performs a complete excavation that the momentary sound bites on the evening news failed to uncover. This biography chronicles
None of the arguments put forth by Glenn Greenwald in his latest rant against the Right, Great American Hypocrites, is going to come as a shock to anyone who has ever made a donation to MoveOn.org. But, that’s not to say it’s not a highly entertaining read full of solid argument starters. Greenwald does a great job of tackling a handful of the biggest hypocritical arguments about the Republican Party that conservatives love to trot out on talk radio and in election ads. Here are a few of the myths Greenwald deftly introduces...
In the early 1990s, I dug Juliana Hatfield - the kick-ass guitarist who notoriously proclaimed her virginity at 23. The inspiring rocker — first as a Blake Baby, then on her own — who ruled MTV’s Alternative Nation alongside Hole and Sleater-Kinney. Then I moved on. But as I read her memoir, When I Grow Up, I felt a little guilty for deserting her. After all, she stood by me in adolescence with her crunchy pop proclamations about being "ugly with a capital U" and how "a heart that hurts is a heart that works." I read When I Grow Up to ...
Even though the United States is due to inaugurate its first African-American President, Amiri Baraka's essays reminds us that the Civil Rights Movement is far from over. In his new introduction written for 2009, Baraka apologizes for his use of the abusive term "fag," mentioning that "there were even in my own youthful experience very open homosexuals who could kick most of the straight dudes' behinds." While this by no means pardons him, this new introduction only hints at ...
British comedic writers Steve Lowe and Brendan McArthur have made a career of sorts bitching about ‘modern conveniences’ through a collection of books. The best bits have been sandwiched into Is It Me or Is Everything Shit? with additional observations added in by Daily Show writer/American Brendan Hay. For the most part, the book has some pretty hilarious, astute observations. Like their straight to the point take on Hare Krishnas: "Hare, hare Krishna/Hare hare/hare Bullshit/Bullshit/Bullshit Krishna/Hare bullshit/Bullshit hare/(Repeat)." The book does slant predictably British with some entries that will have you ...
Readers will watch as the City of Light goes dark as Akashic's short story anthology series goes international. What better way to begin than the country where noir originated? In the introduction, the editor Masson observes that the city "lives, and thus dies, every day." The opening story "The Chauffeur" by Marc Villard as translated by Nicole Ball is a prime example: a woman from Martinique comes to Paris to make money to send home to her family, only to end up involved in ...

Table of Contents Minimize

Issue 32, Feb/Mar 2009
Cover Story: Rise Against
Interviews: Cheap Trick, Dead to Me, Larkin Grimm, Dustin Kensrue, Reel Big Fish
CD Reviews: The Age of Rockets, Tim Barry, Belle and Sebastian, Blitzen Trapper, Call to Preserve, Cowboy Mouth, Davenport Cabinet, Dead to Me, Deathcab for Cutie, Everything Now!, Fear Before, Joel McIver, Bella Morte, Charles Peterson, Godhead, The Handcuffs, I Am Ghost, La Dispute, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Charlotte Martin, Mercury Rev, Oh Captain My Captain, Pavement, Pontiak, Jason Reeves, Self Made Soul, Sense Fail, Sound and Shape, Marnie Stern, Warship, Gina Young, Various Artists (MPress)
Book Reviews: Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myth of Republican Politics by Glenn Greenwald, When I Grow Up by Juliana Hatfield, Home: Social Essays by Leroi Jones

Reviews Minimize
Eric Savage
Upon playing this album, the listener is first greeted with Andy Deane’s haunting voice, inviting you to sink with him into the waters of time. Backed only by Micah Consylman’s sparse piano, the first 30 seconds of Beautiful Death are nothing less than chilling. This chill is warmed by the emergence of ...
Chris Ridgeway
I may have just stumbled upon my favorite album of the year: Blast off with The Age of Rockets, a pseudonym for New York music kid Andrew Futral and a pair of his music conservatory buddies who, not-unexpectedly, talent their way through more than a few instruments. Trumpet, piano, timpani, cello, upright bass, violin, harp, bassoon and a couple of nice...
John B. Moore
Based on the past few years, you’d think every grizzled punk rocker wants nothing more than to be a folk musician. Hot Water Music front man Chuck Ragan put his band on ice for a year or two to pick up an acoustic guitar; Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin went rootsy on his solo record last year; and former Avail singer Tim Barry has been unplugged for several records now. On his latest, Manchester, Barry seems to have perfected the punk/folk hybrid, bringing politically-charged lyrics ("South Hill") and angst-tinged vocals all backed by subtle acoustic guitar and drums.
Shane Matthew Stiles
Belle and Sebastian is a band that incites quite a riot among their fans. The seven-piece band from Glasgow, Scotland, has a ravenous fan base that can never get enough of their quirky indie rock sound. It’s these overly-obsessed people that will most likely pick up this collection of songs. The BBC Sessions is an album of songs compiled between 1996 and 2001, the band’s formative first five years.
Greg Walker
What is it with Portland, Oregon, nowadays? Some of the best and brightest new bands keep emerging from this city. Let’s see, The Decemberists, Helio Sequence, Menomena, The Thermals and M. Ward have recently become quite prominent in the indie-rock scene. Not to mention The Dandy Warhols, Elliot Smith and…Everclear began their musical careers in Portland. Makes you wonder what is in the...
Shane Matthew Stiles
This is what hardcore is supposed to sound like. With a sound driven by fast guitars, faster drum beats, and absolute ferocity, Call to Preserve has surely left their mark with this record. From Isolation is the follow-up to the band’s debut album Unsinkable, but it’s...
John B. Moore
Eighteen years and still going... for some unexplainable reason. New Orleans party band Cowboy Mouth have managed to take a handful of trite party songs, a strong word-of-mouth live show, and shape a pretty decent career as second-rate Jimmy Buffetts. On Fearless, their ninth full-length, the band continues to confound. Filled with 12 mostly novelty songs about everything from big girls ("Belly") to ...
Brian Campbell
Davenport Cabinet is better known as Travis Stever, guitarist extraordinaire of Coheed and Cambria. This is Stever’s side project, which used to be English Panther but has since been renamed to honor the Davenport Brothers, a magician duo in the 1800s.
John B. Moore
I’m usually not a big fan of EPs, seeing them as little more than a record company’s quick way to cash in on a rising band with not enough material for a full-length. I am, however, willing to make an exception for Dead to Me’s five-song offering Little Brother.
John B. Moore
Listening to Death Cab for Cutie’s first proper release, 1998’s Something About Airplanes, there is little indication that the band would someday be headlining major festivals, churning out records for a major label and pretty much adding a touch of indie cred and respectability to mainstream radio stations. It’s not that the songs are not good – in fact, for the most part they are just as beautiful as the latter work Death Cab is more well known for – it’s just surprising that the band was able to ...
Eric Savage
Spatially Severed is a surreal album in the tradition of the Flaming Lips. A strange mix of toe-tapping percussion, soothing guitar, and interstellar sound effects make up most of the album's sound. It’s in the lyrics that Spatially Severed stands alone: songs about labyrinths, the brother of the Prodigal Son being "reincarbonated as a thousand-pound rock," and Venus playing dice are only a couple of the bizarre stories told by Everything Now! Even someone who puts most of the emphasis of the quality of a song on the lyrics like me can ...
Shane Matthew Stiles
This is the first album on which this band refers to themselves as just Fear Before; prior to this release, this Colorado-based group was called Fear Before the March of Flames. They must have finally come to the conclusion that everyone else already did. Sure, good music, but the band’s name wasn’t just lengthy, it didn’t really make much sense. Coincidentally, that’s a good spot to pick up from when describing this album: it doesn’t really make much sense. Even with their last album, The Always Open Mouth, Fear Before drifted between ...
Brian Campbell
Finally, a Godhead album that sounds closer to 2000 Years of Human Error and less like Evolver and The Shadow Line. With At the Edge of the World, their seventh studio album, Godhead finally regains some of their dramatic goth/industrial musical form they had close to a decade ago. Suffice to say, this is the best Godhead record we have seen in a long time. At the End of the World is an album compromised of 13 tracks that are essentially ...
Eric Savage
These Handcuffs are the blue fuzzy sort you allow yourself to be held captive in. Chloe Orwell and Brad Steakley are the lovers to whom I gave myself over. There was an initial discomfort when the cuffs were wrapped around my naked wrists: the title track "Electroluv" is lacking in complexity and the lyrics are poorly composed. Once secured in the ‘cuffs, I waited for the fun to begin. "Half a Mind" more than made up for "Electroluv" and provided ...
Brian Campbell
The problem with I Am Ghost has been, and more than likely always will be, that there isn’t any progression in their music. Well, their music has a progressive element to it; there just isn’t much progression to the overall sound. Their second studio album, Those We Leave Behind, sounds almost exactly like their debut, Lovers Requiem. Besides changes made to the band’s lineup (new drummer and guitarist), and the apparently letting go of violinist Kerith Telestai, there isn’t much change here. While being somewhat heavier, both in guitars and vocals, Those We Leave Behind sounds like a ...
Brian Campbell
Look beyond the lengthy and clichéd album title, and beyond their obvious literary flaws (reference unnecessarily long song titles), and you will quickly see that La Dispute’s Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair (SATBOTRBVAA for short) is a pure geyser of human emotion. Think Thursday and Vendetta Red; think early hardcore but with more to offer. In short, think of crashing waves of sound captured on record. La Dispute’s SATBOTRBVAA is a sonic force full of...
Carly O'Connor
If you’ve purchased, or even just looked into Animal! and Not Animal, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s latest releases, you’ve probably realized that both albums contain quite a few of the same songs. The difference between the two is that Animal! is the album the band preferred to release – and, oh yeah, tiny but important detail, it’s only available on vinyl – and Not Animal was Epic’s pick. While I’m definitely in favor of bands who put forth the extra effort into making an album that isn’t just a ...
Lisa Zyga
As a classically trained singer (with a degree in opera from Eastern Illinois University), Charlotte Martin is simply too good a musician to release a bad album. This eight-track EP is a collection of b-sides that didn’t make it onto her previous three full-length albums (hence the name, Orphans). The songs span the past 10 years of Martin’s career, and range from soft piano-based lullabies to electronics-driven ballads. The arrangements allow her to demonstrate the range, emotion, and overall strength of...
Greg Walker
Mercury Rev has been around for quite some time. In fact, their first album, Yerself Is Steam, was released all the way back in 1991. Remember the ‘90s? Well, back then, Mercury Rev was known for experimental, psychedelic rock. Seventeen years and six albums later, and Mercury Rev is a changed band. Sure, their newest release, Snowflake Midnight, is especially experimental, yet it is so in an especially new direction. Snowflake Midnight is not as focused on the guitars and drums as Mercury Rev fans may be used to. Instead, the album relies more on...
William Gillespie
It's hard to write a review of Recklessly She Split the Sea, the debut CD from Portland's Oh Captain, My Captain, without comparing it to other bands like King Crimson, Radiohead and Styx. But describing bands in terms of other bands is too easy. The album, in presentation, music, sequence, and flash, has an inspired sense of rock drama. Metallic, interlocking guitar cogs propel vocals that more than make up in emotion what they lack in intelligibility. Bold, strident waves of...
Valerie Enriquez
Even if, for whatever reason, you haven't even heard of Pavement, this two-disc set should sound familiar. This would be because almost every other band since Pavement has been influenced by their jangly, noisy, raucous sound. Originally released in 1997, Brighten the Corners still sounds fresher than many bands now. "Stereo" definitely sounds like something that made the rounds on every college and alt radio station. However, the original 12 tracks are...
Judy Nelson
Pontiak suffers from an unfortunate case of musical genre ADD. This is an invented disability, but it is all too common among current rock bands. It seems as though Pontiak, who normally falls under the "stoner rock" heading, tried to do too much with this particular record. Jumping from one musical feeling to the next, from song to song, can work well for some, but in Pontiak’s case, it feels inconsistent and flat. The overall theme is the same, but the mood shifts...
Shane Matthew Stiles
Jason Reeves has a heart of gold that he displays beautifully in his delicately simple acoustic-driven folk songs. The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache shows Reeves as a genius songsmith that crafts material that’s not only radio-friendly but also stands up well to those who would criticize the structure and form of his music. There are no gaps in this record, which has spot-on production, and is well-written. The only reason to not enjoy this record would be a matter of personal preference in not enjoying poppy folk rock. Even that isn’t an acceptable reason; this album is nearly without fault. The record starts off with "Someone Somewhere," which shows...
Brian Campbell
You probably have never heard of Self Made Soul or their excellent sophomore record The Future Belongs to Us, and that should be a crime. It is a record that screams for an audience, and also one that does not disappoint in the least. If you’re confused, perhaps a quick comparison: take parts of 30 Seconds to Mars, Anberlin, the Classic Crime and Further Seems Forever, toss them in a blender, and there you have Self Made Soul. All comparison aside, The Future Belongs to Us is...
Brian Campbell
With Life Is Not a Waiting Room, Senses Fail has again found that certain sense of urgency in their music that they haven’t had since their EP From the Depths of Dreams. In so many words, they sound young again. They sound fresh. Let’s face it: everyone thought this band peaked with the excellent Let It Enfold You. They followed that up with Still Searching, which seemed...
Shane Matthew Stiles
It’s great to have more intricate rock bands out there in the world, but there’s a certain level of musicianship you have to live up to if you’re going to try to pull off something like this. Sounding like a mixture between Cursive’s Domestica and Minus the Bear, Sound and Shape have headed in a good direction, but the problem is that they’re not quite ready for the big time yet. In terms of food, this band needs a little more time to season up and marinate. This Nashville-based band knows their way around a fret board, sure, they can whip out some licks that would make The Mars Volta...
Judy Nelson
It seems that almost every review of Marnie Stern’s record involves some talk of how hot she is. And yes. She is indeed very attractive. It could give some of us girls a complex to hear about how amazingly beautiful she is. Add on top of that her amazing guitar skills (and the kissing booth on her recent tour) and there goes your boyfriend. It’s hard in reality to resent her because she is so good at what she does and very modest about it. Marnie Stern has created a...
Brian Campbell
With legendary and innovative metalcore giants From Autumn to Ashes long laid to rest and far in the rear view mirror, and indie alt-rockers Biology a one-time thing, Francis Mark needed something to do, and that one thing is Warship. First off, forget all you know. Forget things Mark has accomplished musically in the past. Warship is noticeably different from FATA or Biology, and Mark, and Warship, is better for it. This band is far more accessible than the aforementioned, and allows Mark to...
Lisa Zyga
Gina Young’s 3am Voice is a mixture of two sounds: on one hand, electronics, synths, and drum machine beats, and on the other hand, acoustic guitar and more organic sounds. These different styles on the same disc might cause some listeners to enjoy half the songs, but not the other half, depending on personal taste. But regardless of the backbone of the songs, Young has a knack for crafting catchy melodies and singing (or speaking) the lyrics in a ...
Lisa Zyga
When Rachael Sage’s MPress Records announced three years ago that it would be doing its first New Arrivals compilation album for 2006, they received more than 1,000 submissions. By the time they began calling for submissions for New Arrivals: Volume Three, the response increased even more. Originally, MPress launched the series to highlight exceptional independent talent, and that’s exactly what it does. Some of the artists on the third volume are better...

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