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THE SIX DEGREES OF SUMMER: DISCS

Rob Ortenzi on 4/15/09 @ 10:00 AM











1. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
Killswitch Engage (ROADRUNNER; roadrunnerrecords.com)
WHEN: Late June
Every band will tell you that their new music is either "bigger-sounding," "heavier" or "meaner." So when we asked Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones to describe his band's self-titled fifth disc (produced by Brendan O'Brien), he lets out a boisterous laugh. "It's as gay as hell! Seriously, at this point in our career, we just want to put some variety in. The new record is a little more varied; we merely expanded upon what we do." Apparently, Jones felt some growing pains during the proceedings: When asked for some inside info, he put up the psychic wall. "As soon as I left the studio on the last day, I said, 'I'm not going to listen to this.' I lived and breathed this record for four months. There was so much writing, recording and re-writing, I had to step away. I will tell you that it's all over the place lyrically. There's some optimism, and there's some dark stuff on there, too. But it's not like we're a dark band-the only thing dark about [Killswitch] is me." He pauses before breaking into laughter. "Um, that's a joke!"

Killswitch guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz produced In The Library Of Horrific Events, the 2005 release from defunct British metalcore unit Johnny Truant, whose lead singer Olly Mitchell is fast buddies with...





2. ALL TIME LOW
Nothing Personal (HOPELESS; hopelessrecords.com)
WHEN: July 7
All Time Low have experienced a pretty swift career trajectory, but singer Alex Gaskarth isn't interested in repeating himself. "I'm sure [the new album] will make a lot of people smile and make a lot of other people upset-as new records always do." For Nothing Personal, the band worked with four producers (Matt Squire, Butch Walker, David Bendeth and the team of S*A*M & Sluggo) to change things significantly. "On everything we've released this far, the mood throughout the entire listen is the same," says Gaskarth. "This time, we tried to explore something a little bit deeper. We're exploring some new moods, which is pretty cool." The good word: The disc includes a furniture-smashing rocker ("Weightless"), a poignant ballad ("Therapy," Gaskarth's personal favorite) and a darker track called "Poison." The downside: The band's collaboration with Mark Hoppus remains unreleased. "It just didn't fit the vibe of the record," says the singer almost apologetically. "It will definitely come out at some time."

All Time Low hit the road on the 2007 Tourzilla campaign with these dudes...




PHOTO: DAN GILLIAN

3. BOYS LIKE GIRLS
TBA
WHEN: July 28 (COLUMBIA)
Boys Like Girls split their time recording their new album in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with producer Brian House and New York City with the team of S*A*M & Sluggo. Frontman Martin Johnson's agenda: To keep things as real as possible. "I feel like both technology and a lot of bands today push things into a tiny little box," he opines. "Everything is starting to sound pretty small. The songs might be catchy, but I haven't heard a big-sounding rock record come out of this scene. This record is poppier than the last one, but at the same time, a lot more rock 'n' roll with more balls to it." Fans should also expect some slower songs, as well as an epic string arrangement on Johnson's current favorite, an anthemic track that's either going to be called "Heart-Heart-Heartbreak" or "Don't Say That You Love Me." "A lot of bands are putting down their guitars, picking up their Apple laptops and thinking, 'Hey, let's do it this way,'" Johnson says. "We're not going to go with that trend."

When Johnson was 10 years old, he went to see his cousin Phil Solomon play drums in the street-punk band Anti-Heros. That band opened for these guys a few of times...




PHOTO: RACHEL TEJADA

4. RANCID
Let The Dominos Fall (HELLCAT/EPITAPH; hell-cat.com)
WHEN: June 2
What can you expect from the first slab of new music from Tim Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen and Matt Freeman in six years, powered by former Used drummer Branden Steineckert? Try 19 songs in less than 46 minutes (from 64 seconds to a whopping four minutes), ranging from ska-tinged pogo-fests ("Up To No Good") to powerful reclamations ("Last One To Die") to poignant acoustic ballads ("The Highway"). At first listen, Let The Dominos Fall has a loose vibe that sounds like a lost album recorded sometime between the band's 1993 debut and '94's Let's Go. But instead of spitting out class-system contempt, the sentiment of Rancid's new music is far more personal, reflecting on the uncertainty of modern life ("New Orleans," "The Bravest Kids," "Civilian Ways"). Just don't confuse "personal" with "soft," or you might find yourself swallowing your teeth.

Rancid teamed with skate-punk avatars NOFX for a split release on the BYO label in 2002. NOFX's latest album, Coaster, has a song called "Creeping Sara Out," which happens to be about Sara of...




PHOTO: AUTUMN DE WILDE

5. TEGAN AND SARA
TBA (WARNER BROS.)
WHEN: July
On the as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2007's The Con, members of their touring band join Tegan and Sara Quin, and Con producer Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) for an album Sara begrudgingly describes as "upbeat. I hate saying that, but we just get together in the studio and Tegan and I just dance awkwardly!" Fans can expect plenty of surprises, including a track called "Alligator," which Sara based around a piano hook in a bid for urban pop hit-making. "When it came to fleshing the arrangement out, nobody reached for a guitar," she recalls. "Six hours in and there were four people jamming on keyboards. I was like, 'Oh, my God, are we Kraftwerk?'" But like many of the Quins' adventures, there's always a great back story involved. "Tegan and I did a writing session in New Orleans a couple months ago," Sara begins, "We wrote seven songs together and all we had was an electric guitar, a weird acoustic guitar, a microphone and a drum kit. And we were like, 'We're gonna make a really stripped-down Replacements record, just harsh, reverb-y guitars and focus on melodies and lyrics. Watching everybody playing keyboards on 'Alligator' made me think, 'You know, we've really gone off the path here...'"

Okay, we couldn't make the leap from T&S to As Tall As Lions. (If you have suggestions, leave 'em in the comments.) ATAL are connected to a previously mentioned band, though, so we're gonna let it slide.




PHOTO: BO STREETER

6. AS TALL AS LIONS
You Can't Take It With You (TRIPLE CROWN; triplecrownrecords.com)
WHEN: July
"I hate answering questions in clich├ęd terms," begins As Tall As Lions frontman Daniel Nigro, "but our new music is more experimental, more melodic, more toned-down." The singer/guitarist goes on to say that the band's 2006 self-titled release was an impetus of what they didn't want to do. "It took so long to write this record because we were going in different directions-writing songs that were similar to the old stuff," Nigro clarifies. "It took us awhile to let go of our old stuff to do something different. We [wrote] 40 songs for this record, but we ended up keeping the ones that were the most different." Musically, ATAL aren't the same band who played the inaugural AP Tour in 2007, but Nigro hopes fans will appreciate the strides they've made, both rhythmically and vocally. "We did a lot of things to my vocals this time," he says. "Whether we were recording, layering, texturing them or just singing through an amp, so it didn't sound like, 'Oh, there's Dan singing again.'"

Nigro is an old friend of Bryan Donahue, whose band Lancaster shared stages with Nigro's pre-ATAL units. These days, Donahue spends his time in... Boys Like Girls!




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