MxPx – Panic – (2005 SideOneDummy Records)

Tom, Mike and Yuri seemed to have packed up their punch and settled down for family life on their last release “Before Everything and After” Then they went home and listened to “Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo” and decided they haven’t used up all their MxPx brand extra loud punk rock just yet. Evidence of the return of a more aggressive sound is found on songs like Cold Streets, The Story and Get Me Out. Don’t think this is one of those “We better redo an old favorite album to stay popular” though. Panic is an all new offering with new experimentation heard in Cold Streets and Late again when they infuse some good old string bending rock and roll.

If you love the typical singable melodies MxPx has mastered, never fear, this album has melody as well.  One such song is Wrecking Hotel Rooms which features guest Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. Another is Kicking and Screaming which will stick in your head all day.

It may have seemed like MxPx was taming on their last record, but Panic proves MxPx is still packing a pop punk punch!

-Josh Anderson

MxPx – Before Everything & After – (2003 A&M Records)

Long time fans know where MxPx came from and will tell you this album is different. MxPx has always been melodic punk rawk (or at least since Life in General) but they have taken on “Pop Punk” full on with The Ever Passing Moment and now more than ever on Before Everything and After. If you like memorable songs with catchy melodies that are easy to sing along to, then you’ll love the new direction they have taken on this disc. The cleanness of production and simple song structures allow Mike Herrera’s voice to be showcased which is making his signature sound more evident and likeable (notably on Well Adjusted)

The CD is kicked off with Play it Loud, an anthem about them holding their own in the punk scene that features a guest appearance by the chick band The Halo Friendlies. Well Adjusted is song that sticks in your head and will most likely be featured on future “Best of” albums because it so genuinely MxPx. Other highlights on the disc include Everything Sucks (When You’re Gone) which is something we can all relate to at one time or another, and You Make Me Me which is their shout out to God whom they declare makes them everything they are.

If you love the thrash punk days of Pokinatcha and Teenage Politics you might want to hold out for their next CD.

-Josh Anderson

Five Face Down – (2005 Five Face Down Inc./Paradice/Hot Lunch Music)

Out of the ashes of former bands, SMA, God’s House and Kerusso rises Five Face Down. On this, their first full length release Five Face Down display their experience gained in former pursuits as musicians. The CD was recorded in drummer Kevin Decker’s own studio Paradice Studios but could have been recorded at Island Records for all we know. The production is clean and tight revealing the guitar work of Jared Johnson and Alex Case along with the veteran timing of Decker himself. Usually bass can easily be overlooked and recorded “muddy” but we hear the aggressive bass licks of Anthony Cooper crystal clear. Evidently influenced by U2’s bono, we hear lead singer Troy Behren’s passion as a singer on tracks like “Face Down” and “If”. Lyrically the songs dig into the member’s faith and attempt to encourage as well as state their position as Christians. The disc has an underlining heavy edge with aggressive guitar licks, distortion pedal tricks and a few studio tricks thrown in for good measure. Stand out tracks are “Leave it all Behind” and “If”. Support the local scene and pick up their self titled disc at www.fivefacedown.com.

Starflyer 59 My Island – Tooth & Nail 2006

Starflyer 59 has a unique ability to stay genuinely Starflyer yet release a new album almost every year that is entirely new and explores new territory. My Island is more radio friendly like a lot of SF59 after The Fashion Focus and doesn’t have any of the smooth lounge-esque tracks like “Old” from the album Old. The songs are brighter than a lot of the “shoe gazing” material that Jason Martin and Co. are known for. Fans of Fran Ferdinand and Modest Mouse my take notice with such songs as Nice Guy and It’s Alright Blondie. With excellent composition, this latest from SF59 will be playing in your head even when you’re away from the CD.