Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Album Review: Wait by Pardon Us (by Emma Prew)

Liverpudlian pop punk three-piece Pardon Us are a band I’m very excited about this year. The trio, consisting of Morgan on guitar, Alex on bass and Gabby on drums, are set to release their debut album Wait on 13th September with the help of Everything Sucks Music (UK), Johann’s Face Records (USA) and Fixing A Hole (Japan). Here at CPRW, we’ve been lucky enough to have had an early listen of the album and, let’s just say, you’re in for a treat next month!

Wait kicks off with Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves. I want to say that this is a short and fast song but I could say that about almost all of the tracks on this album (the whole thing is only 30 minutes long) – such is the way with Pardon Us. It’s hard to work out the exact lyrics as Morgan has quite a gruff (and Northern) voice but Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves is about growing up, moving out and ‘moving on’ from certain aspects of your life. Very relatable. I also have to give a special mention to the lovely little guitar solo that mimics the chorus melody and plays out the song. Counting Backwards is up next and it opens with more of an indie-style technical riff showcasing a different side to the Pardon Us sound. This style also contrasts nicely with Morgan’s aforementioned gruffness when the vocals come in for the first verse. Counting Backwards is quite an angry sounding song about feeling like you want to be able to make a change in your life, or to the world in general, but always feeling like you’re going backwards. The chorus is a particular highlight as Alex and Gabby harmonise certain lines – ‘“Wanna count for something”, But you’re counting backwards, And in the end you’re left with fucking nout, “Wanna count on something”, But the only thing you’re really sure of, Is your own self-doubt.’

There’s a stop-start feel to the opening melodies of the third track, Brains, which quickly grabs your attention. This is a particularly raw-sounding track that is equal parts angry and passionate. It’s short, repetitive and darn catchy but, if you ask me, that’s the perfect combination for a successful pop punk song. Again, it’s difficult for me to quote the exact lyrics but I’m fairly sure this song is about how Daily Mail readers, and other folks of a similar ilk, are lacking in brains. Except I’m sure Pardon Us put it more eloquently than that. Thankful is the first song to go over 3 minutes in length, at 3:21. The track also features a longer introduction before the vocals come in which allows the trio to showcase their excellent musicianship. With similar themes to the first song on the album, Thankful is about making the most of the life you have and being thankful for not having it so bad. A succinct, catchy chorus of ‘Gotta make the most of it.’ really drives the message home. There are also some really lovely subtle harmonies courtesy of Gabby which compliment Morgan’s more gravelly tones well.

For the next song, It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day, I must admit I had to Google who Phil Ochs is/was. He was an American protest folk singer in the 60s and 70s it turns out, which makes perfect sense for this song. It’s about wondering where the years have gone and why nothing has changed – ‘And we’re trying to keep hope but everything’s so hopeless, Believing in the sunshine, Although this life is cold and grey’. Is it worth the effort to express your political opinions? Will it make any difference? It’s probably something we’ve all often pondered. It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day is a real highlight of the album for sure (and I’ve made a mental note to listen to Phil Ochs myself when I’ve finished writing this review). Half Empty somehow immediately feels louder and faster than everything that came before it. It’s an instant head-nodder of a tune about feeling negative and pessimistic but trying to look on the bright side. The lyrics ‘You’ll soon understand, That the half empty glass in your hand, Is better than no glass at all’ is certainly a nice way to put it. It could always be much worse, sometimes you just need reminding that. There’s also some more really great harmonies and exchanges of vocals from both Alex and Gabby, alongside Morgan, giving the song an inclusive feel.

I said Half Empty was fast but If The Black Shirt Fits is almost skate punk style in the delivery of its introduction – with shreddyness to boot. It does slow a little when the vocals come in however and becomes a perhaps more recognisably Pardon Us sound. This song is about how the word ‘fascist’ isn’t used lightly but it is a suitable word to describe certain folk in this country – ‘Fascist is such an ugly word, But if the black shirt fits’. These people think they’re speaking for us all with their views but they sure as hell are not. The technical and fast paced riffage returns for the outro and the vocals verge on screaming – justified anger I'd say, given the subject matter. Inconvenient Reminder continues the themes of the previous track but in a slower paced yet super catchy way. The song is a response to people who use the phrase ‘Go home’ to mean leave the country. Inconvenient Reminder is about standing up for people that have been through all kinds of hell just to find a safe place to live –‘You’re already home, “So don’t you believe them”’. Who are we to decide who does and doesn’t deserve to be safe? This is the lead single from the album – so you can listen to it right now – and due to its catchy nature, as well as the important message, I can certainly see why this song was chosen.

The penultimate song of Wait comes in the form of Signing Out. An upbeat introduction kicks the song off and has your head nodding once more before things slow down for the first verse. Signing Out is another highly relatable song about losing touch with people as you get older but still cherishing the memories you have with them – ‘Everyone I ever cared about is signing out.’ I really enjoyed the muted melody of the verse which leads into a huge chorus – complete with more of those wonderful harmonies I enjoyed earlier on in the album. Bringing the album to a close is We Aren’t The Champions and what an ending this is! Gone are the political themes and instead we have a song about being in a DIY touring band in the UK. Here Pardon Us admit that they perhaps aren’t the best band in the scene but they have a great time anyway. This is reflected throughout the song, as it’s all so much fun. I love singing along to the chorus and I imagine a live audience would too. ‘And if we don’t break down, Then we’ll see you soon in your shit town, ’Cause we aren’t the champions, And we’re not even runners up, We can’t much play but we’ll do our damnedest anyway…’

I was really looking forward to this album and it did not disappoint one bit. If succinct, catchy and relatable pop punk songs, perhaps with an underlying political message, are your thing then Wait is just the album for you.

You can pre-order Wait on Bandcamp now and like Pardon Us on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Album Review: Fires To Find Our Friends by Lead Shot Hazard

Long running London ska punk band Lead Shot Hazard are gearing up for the release of their debut album on August 25th. Titled Fires To Find Our Friends, it features twelve brand new songs from the West London based six-piece. Lead Shot Hazard have become a fixture in the UK DIY ska punk scene since their formation in 2011. It seems as if it's been a bit of a bumpy road to get to where they are today, with a number of line up changes, but now they seem settled and ready to take the next steps as a band. I was fortunate to have a bit of a preview of some of the songs from Fires To Find Our Friends at Level Up Festival in July and this really wet my appetite for what I think could be Lead Shot Hazard's best release to date.

Jokers, Then Kings & Queens opens the album in a big way. The three part horn explosion from Eve Crabb (saxophone), Jess Pook (saxophone) and Abi Harrison (trombone) really makes the song sound huge before it even really gets started. When the vocals come in from bass player Dave Collis I'm quickly reminded of Jake from Capdown, there's a great amount of attitude here. Something that really sets Lead Shot Hazard apart from many of their contemporaries is their use of two main vocalists and when guitarist Tom Crabb adds his vocals during the track the intensity is really upped. The second track is titled Chase This Down. Again, this track opens with some divine horn lines that will get you skanking very quickly. It's an upbeat, positive song about going after your dreams before it's too late. The energy in the song is superb. Different vocals spread throughout the track with gang vocals being a particular highlight. Hacky Sack? Let's Have A Rebellion begins with some crunching guitar and bass before switching things up, LSH instantly getting you to get those knees up with a bouncy ska riff. The song is about the confusion and frustration surrounding Brexit and the complete mess it's made of the UK. The section in the song where the whole band sing "whoa-oh, let's have a rebellion" over and over again is certainly going to receive a big reaction from a live crowd.

Off Beat On starts out as a more summery ska punk song that will quickly have you smiling along. The horns give it so much energy at the start before the vocals come in. The whole track is delivered in a fun and bouncy style that you would expect from great ska punk music. As the track progresses, the tempo gradually picks up which builds up the energy more and more and eventually finishes as more of a fast paced punk track than a ska number. There's a few nice mentions of various bands in the scene spread throughout the song that really kept my attention as I was trying to find them all. The fifth song is named Red/Blue/Black and is about the media spinning the public all manner of lies no matter their political alignment. This is a bit of a protest song, telling the listener that the time has come to end this and we need to somehow make a change. Gone is the upbeat sound that I've become accustomed to, instead we have a more serious tone. This more serious tone continues on When The Daylight Ends. The tempo is dropped considerably on this song, showing a side of Lead Shot Hazard that you don't often see. It's a song about dealing with grief and hiding your emotions. It's quite a sad song but extremely moving. I can see it being one that a lot of people will relate to. I was also really impressed with horns on the song. Normally they add the energy and generally make a song seem happier but on When The Daylight Ends this isn't the case as they add a great deal of emotion and mood to the track.

The Best Horse Doesn't Win This Race is another slower Lead Shot Hazard tune. It feels extremely retrospective as they look at how things that happened in the past affect them today. The song builds as it progresses with the inclusion of gang vocals and harmonies, including some exquisite ones during the song’s finale that I can't wait to witness live. They're pretty special. The eighth song Rinse, Repeat is one of Fires To Find Our Friends catchiest songs. I loved how the band all slowly join in at the beginning with the bass, then guitar, then drums and finally the horns getting involved and playing along to the same riff. It almost sounds as if Lead Shot Hazard are just jamming together as they reminisce about old times. The old times that they are talking about on this occasion are those times when you were younger and you would party harder than you wanted to just to fit in. Ultimately I think it's a song about realising how important the friendships and relationships you made in your youth are to you now. Braggin' Rights was one of the stand out tracks on my first listen of the album. Combining a carnival style ska with some straight punk rock – it's a high octane ride that will leave you feeling breathless. This is one of those songs that will have you skanking one second and then moshing like your life depends on it the next. Zandro Morreale really impresses on the final stretch on the song with some superb drumming that wouldn't be out of place on a metal album.

Track number ten is about the me, me, me culture that litters much of the first world. Titled The Self-Obsessed this is Fires To Find Our Friends’ The Science Of Selling Yourself Short. It's a slower, poppier ska tune that will get a crowd swaying and singing along passionately. To add to the sing-along nature of the song, some lovely "whoa-ohs" are harmonised during the song’s big ending. The horns grow and grow, adding lots of life to the song’s final section. The penultimate song is Move Your Mouth! Lead Shot Hazard pick the tempo back up here, those wonderful horns giving the track a big introduction. Tom and Dave do a nice job trading lines in the opening verse, really giving the song a whole load of energy. This is one of my favourite things that bands with two lead singers can do. The vocal trade off always sounds so cool to me. When we reach the halfway point of the song, there's a bit of a breakdown/spoken word section that leads into some more superb horn work. As this album has gone on, I've come to the conclusion that Lead Shot Hazard may have one of the best horn sections in the ska scene currently. They bring so much to every song. Last up is Between Hell And High Water. Doing that thing that all final album songs should do, it sounds huge. It builds and builds as the song goes on and completely sweeps you away in the song. Those gang vocal "whoa-ohs" that turn into some harmonies on the song’s final stretch are another that will get a massive crowd reaction and the intense shouting of "we light fires to find our friends" ensures that the album finishes in some style.

Fires To Find Our Friends was a long time in the making but it is definitely worth the wait. During the past year or two, so many of the UK's DIY ska punk bands have really stepped up and put out some superb albums. Fires To Find Our Friends can easily be spoken about alongside some of the other great ska punk albums of the last few years.

Preview two songs from the album here:

Like Lead Shot Hazard here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Album Review: Drip Fed by Youths

We had the pleasure of seeing new London pop punk band Youths play their first proper show a few weeks ago when they opened for Red City Radio at the New Cross Inn. The four piece, who consist of Max (guitar and vocals), Boz (drums), Phil (guitar) and Martin (bass), are a group of friends who are on the best side of thirty who decided to get together and play a style different to their usual genre of hardcore punk rock. In July, they released their debut EP Drip Fed. After being impressed by their live performance, I was looking forward to seeing what Youths are like on record.

Up first is the EP's title track Drip Fed. The track crashes into life immediately, seemingly slowing down in its build to Max's vocals. The vocals are, as you might expect from a pop punk band, clean and slick without much hint of the gruff. This makes the song instantly accessible to anyone listening for the first time. Drip Fed is about all of the false news stories that appear all over the internet, in particular on social media, and how easy it is to believe these stories. To add some intensity to the track, some gang vocals are added towards the end of the song as the band shout their message with some passion.

The second of the three songs is named The Ones You Need. On my first listen of the track, I felt a huge Menzingers and PUP vibe. The song starts with a guitar riff that could easily be found on the next Menzingers album when it's released. When the vocals come in, they are delivered in a wonderfully punchy way that really grabs your attention and has me wanting to sing along from the get go. They also have you wanting to listen to every single word and keen to really learn the meaning of the song. I took the song as being about the world turning into a horrible place and making sure that you have plenty of people around you who make it better. The ending of the track is a big highlight of the entire EP. Again the gang vocals come in but, rather than the intense shouting of the previous song, it's more of a melodic chant that should get a whole room singing along.

Last up is We Talk Of Travel When We're Drunk. The song is about those great nights down the pub, talking about your hopes and aspirations for the future. It's an uplifting and positive song about going for your dreams that will give you that get up and go feeling. The chorus in particular will inspire some folk, especially if you find yourself singing it with a group of friends who have similar dreams to yourself. This is the kind of pop punk track that I can see fitting perfectly into a teen movie montage from the 90s. I can already see a convertible car full of hot teenagers going on their summer road trip to find themselves. There you go Youths, there's the concept for the future music video for the song.

Drip Fed is a hugely impressive debut EP from Youths. These guys obviously have some pedigree from their previous bands which has helped with this release and it has me extremely excited to see where they go next. I don't think it will be long before I see them live again and am really looking forward to singing along to these songs.

Stream and download Drip Fed here:

Like Youths here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Column: Desert Island Punks

Podcasts are cool these days, aren't they? It seems like everyone is starting them. One new one I've really been enjoying recently is Desert Island Punks which is presented by Jake McAllister of Jake And The Jellyfish. On the podcast Jake asks the guest, a member of the punk rock scene, what five records they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island (they can't be live albums or compilations) as well as a book and a luxury item. So far on the podcast (at the time of writing) Jake has spoken Robin from Random Hand, Ren from Petrol Girls, Ryan Donovan from Red City Radio and producer Bob Cooper about what they would take. I imagine I'm not the only one who has put thought into what they would take with them. I imagine you've started thinking about it just reading this paragraph. I decided, with Jake's blessing, that I would write a column explaining what my choices would be.

Once you're done reading this, make sure you go and check out the Desert Island Punks podcast at all good podcast providing services and check out their Facebook here and Twitter here.

Lightyear – Call Of The Weasel Clan
I figure if I'm stuck on a desert island it's not only important to have good music but it's also got to be a lot of fun. Are there any bands more fun than Lightyear? I've been listening to Call Of The Weasel Clan for so many years now and I'm still hearing new things that I love. It's not only a lot of fun but it's incredibly creative and Chas Palmer-Williams was back then and still is today one of the best songwriters around. There are songs that make me want to dance (great exercise) and there are songs that make me smile (good for the mental health) and songs that are empowering (great for motivation).
Favourite track: Three Basics

Davey Dynamite – Holy Shit
Davey Dynamite is actually the only album on this list that appears on my ‘all time top five list’. It's probably number one. If you don't know, Davey Dynamite is a Chicago based folk punk artist. Holy Shit was released right at the end of 2016 and blew me away from the very first time I heard it. It's raw but not so raw that it's unlistenable. On the album, Davey touches on a lot of different political and social injustices and talks about them in a way that really gets you pumped up. Holy Shit is a really good album to get angry to and let out any frustrations you might have. If I'm stuck on an island by myself, things are going to bubble up in my mind and I'll need something to help explode on occasion.
Favourite track: Gods

Wank For Peace – Fail Forward
I feel like to survive on a desert island you need to remain pumped up and motivated. No album gets me more pumped up than Fail Forward by French punks Wank For Peace. Fail Forward is a ferocious album of fast, raspy vocal hardcore with massive choruses. I very, very rarely ever listen to hardcore music but this album has been a go to since it came out in 2014. Fail Forward will be great for keeping my cardio up as it makes me want to start a one man most pit whenever I hear it.
Favourite Track: Twelve Cheese Sticks

The Johnstones – Can't Be Trusted
In 2010 I broke my leg and that left me pretty much alone at home for a couple of months. During that time I must have listened to Can't Be Trusted by The Johnstones two or three times a day every day. Admittedly this isn't the most PC of albums and in 2019 some of the lyrics could be deemed offensive but I'm stuck all alone on this island until, I assume, I die so offending folk isn't something I need to be too worried about. The Johnstones started life as a fast ska punk band that was all about having the best time possible. As their sound progressed, they took on more of a poppier style which meant that they added some really big choruses and made the songs so much more accessible sounding. The use of three vocalists really adds to the songs, always keeping the energy really high. Every song is an earworm as well, you'll be humming songs all the time – hopefully keeping me reasonably sane.
Favourite track: Right To Say

NOFX – The Decline
Myself and some friends used to play a game called Race The Decline where we would try and get from place A to place B in less time than it takes to listen to The Decline by NOFX in full. This obviously makes this album a sensible choice for a desert island and it will increase productivity. Trying to do certain island life tasks such as building shelter in the time it takes to listen to The Decline for example. The Decline could become my new system of keeping time. I could ditch measuring time in hours, we could advance and begin to measure time in The Decline. My island could become the most forward thinking and productive place on the planet. It's a shame I will be the only one there who will be able to benefit from this new and perfect way of living life.
Favourite track: The Decline

Now for the book and the luxury item. They kind of tie in with one another. The luxury item is a drum kit. I've always wanted to learn to play the drums but have lacked the patience, the room and a sound proof room so I don't have to worry about angering anyone with the awful racket I'm guaranteed to make at the beginning. On a desert island I've got nothing but time to practice, loads of room and I'm all alone so I won't be getting on anybody's nerves. The book will be Drumming For Dummies, obviously to help me learn how to play the drums. When I originally was thinking about what great piece of literature I'd take, I was pretty stuck on what book I could read over and over again. I also thought I could perhaps try and learn a language on the island to kill time but I'm alone so who do I need to speak to? If I learn to drum it would keep me entertained during the times I'm not jamming my records!

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Top Tens: Brett’s Top Ten No Use For A Name Songs (that are not on All The Best Songs)

All The Best Songs is a No Use for a Name compilation album first released in 2007 and then again in 2016 to include songs from their (awesome) final album. It’s a great collection of songs that includes all of the band’s “hits”, showcasing the fantastic melodies, hooks, and song writing abilities of Tony Sly and the rest of the band. Best-of albums can never please everyone and every fan will have an opinion about which songs should have been included. So, with that said, this is a list of 10 songs (in no particular order) that aren’t on the compilation but that I feel should be included when considering the best songs by No Use for a Name.

PS. Choosing only 10 songs from your favourite band is no easy task but with the recent anniversary of Tony Sly’s death I thought it would be nice to give it a go in the hope that someone else out there will enjoy the playlist as much I enjoyed making and writing about it.

Lies Can't Pretend
I remember the day I first listened to More Betterness! very clearly. I was in high school, it was the holidays, and I was at one of the few CD stores that had a "punk" section and a listening station. I had only heard Leche Con Carne at the time, so I picked up More Betterness! based on that alone. I took it to the store clerk and asked if I could give it a try. Luckily the store was quiet, because I was hooked from beginning to end and happily handed over the little money I had to buy my first No Use album. Although there are a lot of fan favourites on More Betterness!, I feel that Lies Can't Pretend really showcases all of the characteristics that make the album so great. The guitar riffs in perfect harmony, the fast-paced basslines and drum beats, and Tony's just-enough-rasp vocals layered in just the right places make for a song that everyone should listen to more.

Leche Con Carne is almost entirely made up of fast and aggressive songs, but the album never gets tired or monotonous for me. This fact made putting together this list more difficult and if this were a top 15, there would be at least 2 other songs from the album on this list. Alone is one of the shortest songs on the album but it is fully satisfying, maintaining the speed and aggression of the rest of the album and at the same time providing glimpses of the more melodic direction the band would take in the future. As the penultimate song on the album, Alone also wins as being the best song to precede Exit, one of the best No Use songs and album closers ever.

Killing Time
I can't lie, when Keep Them Confused was first released I was disappointed. After all the hype of waiting for a new No Use album, I disliked the production and didn't enjoy the majority of the songs. There were a few songs that I loved immediately and to this day I feel that It's Tragic, Killing Time, and Slowly Fading Fast (spoiler alert) are a near perfect trilogy of songs. For a long time, the sequence of these three songs was the only reason I listened to the album at all. Since then, my contempt for the album has waned but my love for the three songs and Killing Time especially has never faltered. Killing Time is told from the perspective of a grieving mother who has lost her son to a meaningless war. The lyrics were very relevant at the height of the war in Iraq and the closing line of "If an angel earns its wings every time somebody dies, then today the angels black out the blue sky" is one of my favourite lines from Tony Sly ever.

No Way To Live
In the year 2005, Warren Fitzgerald and Joe Escalante of The Vandals respectively wrote and directed the film Cake Boy and released it into the world. Don’t feel bad if you've never heard of it or if you've never seen it; count yourself lucky. The soundtrack was alright though, featuring a number of songs from No Use For A Name who also play a fairly large part in the film. No Way To Live serves as the theme for the film and is thankfully MUCH BETTER than the film itself. Catchy hooks, rich basslines, loads of melody, and Hard Rock Bottom era Tony vocals make this song worth the pain and suffering of sitting through the film – or just find the soundtrack and listen to that instead.

Best Regards
After high school I moved to Australia with my dad. Leaving friends and family behind in South Africa was difficult but one of the few things that gave me solace was the fact that I could walk into a music store and find an actual punk section to browse through. Making Friends was one of the first albums I purchased during a trip into Brisbane city and after spending a few years falling in love with the likes of More Betterness! and Hard Rock Bottom, it was great to hear that No Use were tending towards a more catchy hooks and melodies, which cemented my love for the band even more. It's difficult to look past the classics like Invincible, The Answer Is Still No and the impeccable On The Outside but this list is focused on the "deeper" cuts so I thought I'd pick Best Regards although I wouldn't argue with anyone for picking a different song from the album, it's *that* good. Best Regards starts off with a classic fast punk drum beat, brings in the full band with a pick slide, and doesn't let up until the short but sweet guitar solo and the closing lyric "I hope you're happy". There are also a few small touches in between the verses, whether it's a small guitar harmony, drum fill or slight rhythm change, it’s these touches that really edged the song into this list for me.

Hard Rock Bottom (just like More Betterness!) is an album that I remember getting some hate when it was released. No Use definitely smoothed out the rough edges, Tony Sly's vocals became a little less shouty and the band fully embraced a more melodic sound. I love the production on this album; the bass is punchy and deep, the drums are perfectly balanced and Tony's vocals are so sweet to the ear. Picking a favourite song from the album is tough because if I didn't choose International You Day, I'd get an angry look from Robyn (it was the song we first danced to at our wedding) but it is already featured on All The Best Songs, so I get an excuse to pick a different song that I love and think deserves to be on this list. Although there are a bunch of really great songs to choose from, Undefeated has the speed and furious sound found in songs from previous albums but which also fits in perfectly on Hard Rock Bottom, discarding any fears from fans that the band may have lost their edge.

Don't Miss the Train
Don't Miss the Train was one of only two albums that got no love from the song selectors of All The Best Songs, probably because it (as well as Incognito) wasn't originally released by Fat Wreck. It may not have the production value that the Fat Wreck releases do, but there are still some solid songs on this album that I feel deserve some recognition. I chose Don't Miss the Train because I feel it highlights the more melodic/punk elements the band would embrace going forward within an album that has quite a lot of hardcore/metal influence. The live version featured on Live In A Dive is a great rendition; it stands up to the band’s newer material nicely and was a strong factor in me checking out No Use's older, pre-Fat Wreck material.

Slowly Fading Fast
Keep Them Confused doesn't rank in my top 3 No Use albums despite being home to some of my favourite No Use songs. It's also the only album that gets more than one song on this list because I love these songs that much. Slowly Fading Fast is one of the faster tracks on the album, with a simple chord progression that is crafted into a really catchy melody and chorus that can get stuck in my head for days. The subtle ahs in the chorus and the cool little bass riffs found throughout make the song easy to listen to over and over again (truthfully you should skip back two songs to It's Tragic, listen and repeat).

Night Of The Living Living
It would be a big mistake to compile a list of the best No Use songs without including something from The Feel Good Record Of The Year and it was a smart move by Fat Wreck to reissue All The Best Songs with some songs from the band’s final studio album. The Blasting Room has put out some of my favourite records over the last two decades and Feel Good Record is no exception. All of the songs sound great and have an energy that I felt was missing from a lot of Keep Them Confused. Night Of The Living Living has some of the beautiful symbolism that we got used to hearing from Tony as well as some interesting and tight basslines throughout the song, making it one of my favourites from the album. I think Feel Good Record was able to bring a few No Use fans out from their hiding places with songs like this one which showed that the band had found their sweet spot in the world of punk rock.

Hazardous To Yourself
The final song in this list comes from The Daily Grind EP, released way back in 1993. It’s No Use's first on Fat Wreck and the foundation of the sound the band would refine on Leche Con Carne. In 1993, I was still very busy watching TMNT so I only listened to The Daily Grind after hearing some of the older material on Live In A Dive. To be honest, all 8 songs on this EP are great examples of early 90s punk rock with a heavy Bad Religion influence and without sounding too Fat Wreck-y. I think Hazardous To Yourself best demonstrates the combination of the Bad Religion influence – with the vocal harmonies, guitar solos and Tony’s singing on some of the verses – and the band’s earlier hardcore roots, and is an indication of the kind of music No Use would become so great at playing.

This top ten was written by Brett Coomer.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Album Review: I Don't Like Sports by Screaming At Traffic (by Richard Mair)

Canada has always been known for producing sporadic punk rock greats (Grade, Cancer Bats, Propagandhi) and has become something of a hot bed in recent years for raw talented punk rockers (Pkew x3 and PUP being the obvious big names), it’s nice then to add another name to this ever growing list – Screaming at Traffic. Albeit courtesy of the UK based Little Rocket Records and, let’s face it, their roster is getting insanely good too!

I Don’t Like Sports is the debut album from the Winnipeg based foursome and, in keeping with the sounds of latter day Canadian punk rock, it’s firmly in the anthemic, fist in the air, heart on sleeve bracket... and not just that – they are damn good at doing it.

Kicking off with “They Call Me Thrillhouse”, with its spoken word verses and electrifying chorus, you instantly know that this is something special. It’s a song about angst, introversion and isolation and these themes run throughout the whole album. The fact that the verse is spoken adds to the “personal” feeling of the song. This is the inner workings of vocalist Jacques Richer’s psyche laid bare. Poignant, sombre yet defiant, it’s everything you need to get acquainted with the band. It’s about questioning living up to people’s expectations, not wanting to grow up and take responsibility. Coupled with a chorus that will lodge itself in your head, this is a true statement of intent!

As if to prove they aren’t a one trick pony, second track “FYB” ratchets it up a gear. Much faster and raw, it’s a perfect continuation of the themes laid out in its predecessor. Again it’s just instantly catchy, melodic and fun despite the dark lyrics. The guitar work in the middle third helps change the pace and it has the kind of climax that is yearning to be sung ferociously back to the band in dive bars across the globe. As a 1–2 opening double, I doubt you’ll hear much better this year.

One of the lead songs off the album “Pantomime” comes next and it’s a straight up pop punk banger with some great little guitar licks and another big chorus. It’s followed by the title track “I Don’t Like Sports”. Despite the amusing title and Aquabats-esque chorus, which on face value could be almost a pastiche, it’s a really dark song of lost love. I read an interview with Pkew x3 vocalist Mike Warne where he basically said for every two stupid lines you write the third had to be profound and vice-versa. That is exactly the approach here and it’s such a glorious, amusing, heartbreaking song as a result. It’s also an approach that works brilliantly on “Weekend Cartoons”; a song that somehow manages to transport you back to your childhood! It’s a great song to showcase drummer Stefan St. Goddards ability, as while most of the songs have a typical punk rock beat, this one has some amazing rolls and beats in it that pop and fizz with energy and inventiveness.

Both “Bitter” and “Broken Teeth” follow this clever/dumb approach. The former with its gang vocal chorus and rapid fire, breathless verses and the latter a much more subdued song with great guitar work by both Jacques and fellow vocalist/guitarist Duncan Murta; especially in the closing stages of the song. It’s also another sad song that pretty much everyone can relate to.

In true pop punk fashion, some of the songs on “I Don’t Like Sports” are reworkings of songs that appeared on earlier EP/Single releases. “Monstrosity” is one such song (alongside the aforementioned Broken Teeth) and it’s easy to understand why they would want to get it out to a wider audience via an album – it’s a proper anthem. Its huge chorus and relentless bridge make it a stand out track on the album. On a personal level, this reminds me of CPRW faves Worship This! particularly of the songs off their sophomore release Mint.

Another band that Screaming At Traffic remind me of is the now defunct Philadelphia mob The Holy Mess, with their poppy guitars, gruff vocals and ability to craft singalong songs. This really shines through on closing song “People Pay Good Money for Secrets”. Given the content, it’s a great culmination of everything that’s gone before with big whoa-ohs and a simple chorus everyone could pick up at a live show.

With I Don’t Like Sports, Screaming At Traffic have released a brilliant debut album that not only gets better, cleverer and more essential on repeated listens but endears itself to you to the point where you feel you have to tell everyone about it. Whilst it is instantly accessible and fun, it’s the nuances and craftsmanship that you appreciate the longer you spend with it. Like heavyweights of the scene such as Iron Chic, Pkew x3 and I’d argue The Menzingers to some extent, this debut should set the blueprint for what should be an exciting and enjoyable career of singalong anthems, heartfelt, endearing songs and epic live shows. Little Rocket Records certainly have the clout to get them out to a wider audience and, on this basis, you’d hope the sky is the limit!

Stream and download I Don't Like Sports here:

Like Screaming At Traffic here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Album Review: Minefield by Saving Sebastian

I first became aware of Hemel Hempstead pop punks Saving Sebastian when they played Fandangle's ten year anniversary of Fly Away at the New Cross Inn in November last year. This was a lot of the crowd’s first time seeing them and they certainly impressed many people in the room. One of them being Fandangle bassist Andy B, who they soon went on to record their latest EP Minefield with. It seems like it's been ages waiting for Minefield to come out but the time is almost upon us. Featuring four brand new tracks of fun pop punk, this could easily be many people’s summer jam.

Minefield begins with the song Hometown which we were lucky enough to feature on our fifth anniversary compilation back in June. Starting in quite a cliché way with an alarm clock before the song launches into life, it's not long until the energy that accompanies Saving Sebastian when they play live jumps out of the speakers and quickly sweeps you away. It's fast paced and is stupidly catchy. Hometown is about wanting to leave your hometown due to how mundane your life has become. It's a pretty standard topic for a pop punk band to write about but Saving Sebastian's infectious enthusiasm prevents it from sounding standard. Up next is the EP's titled track, Minefield. Slowing things down slightly, Minefield is more of a punchy song than the frantic Hometown. From the opening guitar riffs, Saving Sebastian will have you pogoing up and down. The song is about a relationship that is going wrong due to the two people both being self-obsessed but neither being able to end things. It's a more serious and mature side of Saving Sebastian that I'm really on board with.

Saving Grace is the lead single from Minefield. My first thought when I heard Saving Grace was how influenced Saving Sebastian are by old school Blink-182. It's got a very 90s pop punk feeling to it that automatically made me feel at home with the song. I grew up on this sound and it's nice to be hearing it again with one of the most promising new bands in the scene. Something that really stood out on the track was the use of co-lead vocalists Sonny and Jamie showcasing their different voices and coming together at the end of the song for a brilliant harmony at the end. This was a fantastic choice for lead single. Last up is the oddly titled The. Those wonderful dual vocals are again on display as Sonny and Jamie take turns in singing the verse and chorus before we are treated to some great layering of their combined vocals. The is perhaps more of a modern sounding pop punk style, definitely something for fans of the nu-school pop punk that the Slammy D kids love so much. Staring slowly really invites you to join in with the singing and it builds nicely to a fast paced chorus that really gets you pumped up. The track has plenty of shifts in tempo that keep you hooked throughout and it is a fine way to finish Minefield.

Pop punk in the UK is perhaps currently as popular as it has ever been. Saving Sebastian are one of the best bands in the current class of pop punk acts that I've heard in a long time. Great songs, ace musicianship, delightful vocals and just the most amount of fun.

Pre-order/stream and download Minefield here:

Like Saving Sebastian here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.