Monday, 20 August 2018

Album Review: Fangs by Dynamite Dynamite

Back in 2015 Dynamite Dynamite released one of my favourite albums of the year in Apologies/Apathy. This past April the Scunthorpe based four piece released a brand new five track EP on the magnificent Umlaut Records titled Fangs. Quite criminally it's taken me until now to get around to checking it out. Is it worth the wait?

Fangs begins with the song Good Work. After the initial intro I'm quickly reminded of why I loved Dynamite Dynamite so much in the first place - those incredible duelling vocals, one clean and one raspy. Not only does this give some great variety on the song but it allows for some amazing harmonies. I love harmonies. This is the type of song I imagine is at its very best in a live setting with some great sing-along moments, those aforementioned harmonies and some great breakdowns. Up next is Werewolves which was originally released as a single before the release of Fangs. Werewolves isn't quite like the Dynamite Dynamite I know and love. They take those superb vocals and big choruses and give it a harder and, dare I say it, more of a metal edge. The riffage on the track is really amped up to levels I've never heard before from Dynamite Dynamite.

This Town Ain't What It Used To Be sees the band go back to their more classic style. Musically there's some powerful and crunchy guitars that will really get you jumping in the pit between shouting each and every line back at the band. This is modern pop punk music done very well. The penultimate song, Bad News, is a rockier track perhaps verging towards more of an alternative rock style. It's great to hear Dynamite Dynamite playing around with these different sounds rather than sticking to the tried and tested formula. This rockier style certainly gives the song and lot more bite and a whole load of additional urgency. It shows off what a great bunch of musicians the chaps in Dynamite Dynamite are as well with some superb displays on the guitars and the drum kit. Last up is Have Mercy. Have Mercy immediately had me throwing my fist in the air with the band despite never having the heard of the song before. If that's not the sign of a great song then I'm not sure what is. This is just a great track from start to finish and if you only listen to one song on Fangs then make sure it's this one. But seriously listen to the whole EP, it's a banger.

I feel like Dynamite Dynamite are among the most underatted bands in the UK's punk rock scene. They seem to be one of those bands where either you love them or you don't know them. They don't appear to be overly active anymore in regards to playing heaps of shows but they're still putting out superb releases. Check this out!

Buy Fangs here:

Like Dynamite Dynamite here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Album Review/Column: MXPX by MXPX (by Dan Peters)

Here is my totally unbiased review of the new self-titled MXPX album in fifty words or less. It’s the single greatest piece of musical art to come into my life in the last 6 years and I loved it without reservation and will do till the end of time.

Phew now that I’ve got that out the way, what I’d like to talk about is the fact that one of the biggest bands of my childhood decided to Kickstart this album for funding and what that says about the music industry. MXPX are far from the first band to have kickstarted an album but, in my narrow view of musical genres, they are certainly the biggest and, bless them, they have been incredibly candid throughout the process when people have asked questions. They therefore make an excellent case study on the trend of crowdfunding music.

MXPX were a band in their twilight circa 2012. Their previous full length album, Plans Within Plans, is noticeably darker in tone than anything that came before it with songs like Screw Loose, Cast Down My Heart and Nothings Gonna Change casting a bit of a shadow over a group whose positive lookout on life had always been such a strong part of their personality. The band has had numerous issues with record labels over the years and have been open about not being well compensated for record sales. After years of hopping from label to label it seemed like Plans Within Plans would be the last official release of the band. MXPX alumni Tom and Yuri stopped touring and MXPX All Stars became a thing instead of a true blue touring MXPX.

Cut to around 2013 and Mike Herrera started an acoustic solo project, and in doing so fully embraced social media to get his music out there. MXPX stayed alive through sheer force of will on Mike's behalf and he can be found in numerous acoustic appearances on any number of social media outlets and YouTube channels. This experimentation with how to distribute their music led to an official MXPX acoustic album and also an official from the ground up re-recording of Life In General on Bandcamp. For me it was a dream, having such easily accessible music from my favourite band and I’m sure a lot of other people felt the same.

Then the Kickstarter happened. The band explained that they were all together again, that they loved what they did again and that they weren’t having anything more to do with labels and the stresses that come with being tied down. They had already recorded the music and set a modest $48,000 dollar target to help market and distribute the album. Having your favourite band explain they’re back in full force and that for a small amount you can help their dream come true was an easy sell for their huge and passionate fanbase. They absolutely smashed the target, coming in well over $200,000 at the close of the campaign. Finally, blessedly we got the MXPX album we’ve been waiting for and it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more.

The lyrics are full of joy and hope and there’s a lot of mention of that “weekend” feeling, symbolic to me because in order to get to the weekend you have to slog through the week to appreciate it and this is a band who went through that slog and is clearly now in an excellent place. The full line-up is in check, the energy, excitement pure unadulterated joy (in songs like All Of It) can be clearly felt. So what changed? Certainly having some time away from something can make you miss it more, but I think it’s the freedom that came with unshackling themselves from the main things tying them down. Let’s Ride, an album standout track, is about the freedom to go and travel wherever you like and when you’re attached to a label you’re beholden to them and don’t have that freedom. Having to only please fans that love you enough already to support you in your career is a far better way to live (although no less daunting due to expectations). There have been a spate of “surprise” albums over the last 18 months, where artists have put out their newest creations without pomp and ceremony and, for me personally, MXPX are the biggest of the bunch. Anything that takes away from the music industry and places the power back with the artists is a great thing in my mind and I hope many more bands are encouraged to follow suit as a result.

So, in conclusion, this was a very differently created album and is a richer happier more fulfilling experience to listen to as a result. There will be no prizes for guessing what will be at the top of my end of year lists and I can’t recommend you listen to it enough.

Like MXPX here:

This review/column was written by Dan Peters.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

News: Loads Of Shows At The New Cross Inn This September

So I think I might be moving in to the New Cross Inn this September. Be Sharp Promotions alongside Umlaut Records, Till The Wheels, Make-That-A-Take Records have announced six superb punk and ska shows featuring bands from England, Scotland, America and Canada. Check out the details below.

Sept 7th / UNIFORMS / Break-Ups - Band / Crushed Veneer / 1 more TBC

Top Tens: Ten Reasons To Keep Going To Gigs In Your Thirties

Recently I've seen an article about how going to gigs makes you live longer floating around on the social media. I'm sure you've probably seen it as well, as the kids would say "it's pretty viral innit bare tings." Whenever I see this article pop up it always gets me thinking about how I'm now making some good headway into my thirties and I still spend a lot of my spare time and income travelling into London in the middle of a week for a gig, very often multiple times a week. This is some contrast to some of my nearest and dearest friends of the same age who are happily married, have beautiful kids, successful careers and are home owners. I often think that I should slow down all of this gig going and think about becoming a proper grown up.… and then I learn about another upcoming gig than I simply cannot miss. It's an ongoing and endless cycle. Whenever I think about quitting the going to gigs game, I quickly remember what I love about going to gigs. So, I've compiled a list of reasons I still love going to gigs in my thirties.

1. Music Is Best Experienced Live
You may have already realised this if you've been following this blog over the past four years but I am a bit of a music fan. Growing up there was always music on in our family house and that tradition has continued in Emma and mine's little house in Bedford. Whether we're playing a record or streaming music, we're usually listening to something. I'm not up to date with any of the current 'box sets', ask me if I've seen a film and the answer will more than likely be no. That's because I prefer listening to music and I love it even more when I experience it live. There's something so special about seeing a band play your favourite songs right in front of you. I feel like this is really how you were supposed to experience these songs.

2. Meeting Your New Best Pals
Think about the friends you've made since you left education. Are the majority of them from work? A lot of mine are too, and many are definitely lifelong ones, but do you find that whenever you meet up away from work that work still dominates the conversation? I've found it's different with my gig friends. We never talk about work, we talk about the thing we love more than anything in the world – music! (Except when the World Cup is on, when the World Cup is on we talk about the World Cup).

3. It's Better Than Watching The Rubbish That Is On TV Most Evenings
What would you rather do with your evening? Watch the latest episode of your favourite soap or reality TV show or go out and see a great band? It's a no brainer for me – great band every single time! Something I've never quite been able to fathom is why someone would stay in to watch a TV show instead of going out and seeing people doing something fun. Especially in this day and age of catch up TV.

4. Don't You Just Feel A Bit Old And Creepy In A Club?
Admittedly I have been in clubs very few times in my entire life let alone since I reached my thirties but I can only imagine that if I was going to now I'd feel extremely uncomfortable and out of place. I'd feel like I was twice as old as everyone else, I'd worry that the young ladies would be cold in their fashionable going to clubs (I guess) dresses, I'd be worried about accidentally bumping into anyone and I would just hate the overly macho attitude of the gentleman in attendance. Quite ironically I'd complain about how loud the music is and how I can't hear anything my friends are saying. At a punk show it's very very rare for these type of feelings to occur. I love the comfort zone of a punk rock show.

5. It's The Best Way To Support Your Favourite Bands
In this digital age where you can hear music from all your favourite acts for free the best way to support them financially is by going to see them at a show (and maybe buying some merch). That's as good a reason for keeping going to my gigs in my thirties as anything I can think of. If nobody goes to see bands live then they can't afford to keep on being a band and then the gigs stop and I spend every night sitting at home being quite bored and miserable.

6. It's Also The Best Way To Support Your Local Venue
I read a stat recently that stated that something like four pubs in the UK close every day. A lot of this is due to gentrification with councils and land devleopers deciding that we need more yuppy apartments. If all the pubs and music venues close then there will be nowhere for bands to play. Then they can't make money and stop being bands. Then I spend every night sitting at home being quite bored and miserable.

7. It's Much More Fun Than Going To The Gym
Going to the gym seems to be cool these days. Getting fit is important and I commend anyone who tries to keep their bodies fit and healthy. I like to try and keep fit but I like my exercise to feel like I'm having fun and not just endlessly repeating myself lifting things or running without ever getting anywhere. Instead I like to go to a ska gig and spend a couple of hours skanking away and singing along to my favourite songs and, as it's a ska show, more than likely a couple of covers. That's so much more fun than attempting to do a sit up.

8. Reunion Shows
It's always fun to be a bit cool and smug and say that you remember when a band was playing pub shows once they hit big and start playing large venues. It's even more fun when you can say I remember this band before they got back together for this run of reunion shows. That's something you can only really do when you're an older gig goer.

9. It's Great For Your Mental Health
There's so much rubbish in life that is so easy to get bogged down with. Between the stresses of working, chores, paying bills, supporting Crystal Palace and the country seeming like it's falling apart more and more each day, it's important to continue to keep doing the things you love, no matter how old you are. It will keep you happy, it'll continue to give you amazing memories and most importantly it will keep you sane.

10. Your Bands You've Seen Live Spreadsheet Will Have Even Higher Numbers
I assume it's not just me and C-Rage who have written down every single band we've ever seen and totted up exactly how many times we've seen them. Imagine having been regularly going to gigs for ten to twenty years and therefore what an impressive list of bands you are likely to have. Then think about how all your friends are going to love hearing about all your stats.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Album Review: Resurgence by For Heads Down

For Heads Down are a five piece melodic punk rock band from Siegen in Germany. Back in July they released their second album Resurgence with the help of Melodic Punk Style Records. The thirteen track album promises crunching riffs, pounding drums running alongside melodic vocals and catchy choruses.

The opening track Fatty Livers And Deep Pockets is a positive song about feeling better when you get on stage and play a gig. It's about how you can forget all of life's problems and find a way to escape. It's the same feeling we all get when we attend gigs. When I first clicked play on the track I kind of expected more of a harder edge to the poppy sound that greeted us, this sound worked really well with the message within the song however. On the next song, In This Case, we feel the harder edge of the For Heads Down sound. Christian Kalmbach puts in a sterling performance behind the drum kit as his beat really gives the song an incredibly strong back bone. Alongside this we have some wonderfully urgent sounding guitars with Philipp Nowotny's soaring vocals. This is the sound I expected from For Heads Down and I really enjoyed it. How It Feels continues with this sound. The song has a pounding also metal-like intro that had my head banging immediately. For Heads Down do something really interesting on the song with the music and vocals seemingly being played at different tempos to create quite an effect. This adds more urgency behind Nowotny's emotional lyrics.

The fourth song, Stuck In Reverse, starts out with a huge sing-along beginning before we get into some proper shouty vocals that add some aggression into the song. I hadn't really realised that some aggression was missing from the songs before it was added. I think this is where For Heads Down are at their very best. Last Man Standing makes you feel like For Heads Down are going to slow things down for the fifth song with some more jangly guitars and a more plodding style until the vocals hit and come at you faster than ever. It's when we reach the chorus that you feel fully involved in the song as you can shout along "Til I'm the last man standing, believe in the better times." This is a song that takes you through a series of highs and lows before slowly fading out and launching into the fifty second song Calculator. Sound wise this is a definite ode to the 90s EpiFat sound that has influenced so many of the current crop of punk rock bands throughout the world. If you love that EpiFat sound then I'm very confident that you're really going to enjoy this song. The seventh song is titled Side Effects. This track continues the melodic punk rock style, with the longer intro to the song really standing out. It feels kind of retrospective, a song that is supposed to make you think and take a look at yourself.

Goals features an incredible guitar solo which alone is worth listening to the song for. The vocals on the track feel more subdued compared to what we've heard on Resurgence so far and it's a welcome change as it adds a bit of variety to the album. Following this is a slightly poppier number in the form of Much The Same. It features one of those great long intros that make you feel like something big is about to happen. It ticks all of the boxes for melodic punk rock – crunching guitars, powerful drumming and soaring vocals. This is a great advertisement for what For Heads Down are all about. The title of the tenth track is Quiet Irony. Quiet Irony starts off slowly with some rumbling bass and slowly builds up. This build gives the song a hell of a lot of intensity from the outset. We are then greeted by a kind of clunking style with Nowotny's vocals working overtime to carry the melody of the track. I really enjoyed this approach to the song as I thought it really spiced things up a bit.

Smile is a song about looking back on your life in the search for answers. This track again sees For Heads Down in retrospective mode. Like on How It Feels, it feels as if the music and vocals are going at two different tempos which creates a great sound. This is one of those great songs where you can listen to it ten times in a row and keep hearing new little bits that you love. The penultimate track is titled Wasting Time. Wasting Time is probably my favourite song on Resurgence. Musically it's a little harder than anything else but features great sing-along moments throughout. The build towards the big finale is superb and I can imagine a room full of people with fists in the air shouting the words back at the band. This is what I love. Last up is the five and half minute long Feeding The Beast. Being such a length I was expecting this to be an epic ending to Resurgence but if I'm being completely honest it felt as if it could have been placed anywhere on the album. That doesn't stop it being a great song, because it is but I was really expecting something a bit more.

Melodic punk rock seems to be making a big come back throughout Europe. Resurgence is a very aptly named album and should cement For Heads Down among the very best in the genre.

Stream and download Resurgence here:

Like For Heads Down here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Album Review: Hi-Sci Fidelity by The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks

It's been ages since I reviewed a split release. I've always enjoyed a good split and I've always felt like they are win win for everyone. With multiple bands on a release the recording and manufacturing costs for the bands are split and for the consumer there's the opportunity to check out more bands for the same price of what you'd pay for one. Everybody wins. Because of my love for a good split I was absolutely stoked to come across a new one from pop punk bands The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks named Hi-Sci Fidelity. Released by Milksop Records, the split features two songs from both bands and was out in in July.

The Radio Buzzkills are the first band featured on Hi-Sci Fidelity. The Radio Buzzkills are a five piece band from St. Louis, Missouri, who formed in February of 2016. Their first track on the split is titled Without A Trace and is about travelling around the galaxy trying to save your dream girl and then vanishing. With an EP title of Hi-Sci Fidelity you had to know this was going to be a sci-fi pop punk fest, right? Musically it's what you would expect – fast music, sugary sweet vocals and brilliant harmonies. If you love Star Wars, you'll love this song. Radio Buzzkills' second track is named Mulder Suicide. This track is about feeling like you're competing for the affections of your partner with Mulder from The X-Files. Obviously it's a bit of a silly song but there is also a sadness in lead singer Zac Buzzkill's vocals that make you feel genuinely sorry for him.

The Hypnic Jerks take the second half of the EP. The four piece from Chicago are fresh from releasing their album, Lost In Love, back in October of 2017 and contribute one song from Lost In Love as well as a new one. Planet Zero is up first and was originally featured on Lost In Love. Here we have a Ramonescore pop punk track in a similar vein to bands such as The Queers or Teen Idols. Starting out with quite an instrumental opening before lead singer Pat's vocals come in along with a pounding drum beat that adds to the energy of the track. This then slips into a more melodic style as Pat sings about going off to save the girl from Planet Zero. Inanimate Lifeform is a brand new track recorded for Hi-Sci Fidelity and is probably my favourite of the four songs on the split. It features a softer more poppier style and at times there is even a hint of surf rock included. A genre The Queers themselves often included in their music. I couldn't help but smile my way through the entire song, particularly the "ooooh-ooooh" parts.

The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks are both great new pop punk bands. I'm forever discovering fantastic Ramonescore pop punk bands and this split EP serves as a brilliant introduction to two great bands – I will be going out of my way to delve into their back catalogues.

Stream and download Hi-Sci Fidelity here:

Like The Radio Buzzkills here:

Like The Hypnic Jerks here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Album Review: Have A Can by 6foot7

6foot7 are a five piece ska punk band from Cardiff, Wales. Featuring Tom Shazam on vocals, Marcus Maurice on drums, Nathan Allen on guitar and vocals, Craig Walker on trombone and Mark Lambert on bass, 6foot7 are about to release a brand new five track EP digitally on September the 1st with a physical release coming later in the month. Titled Have A Can, it promises five high energy ska punk offerings that will not only get you skanking but will also make you think.

The EP begins with title track Have A Can. The track starts off in a surprisingly moody fashion considering they describe themselves as high energy ska punk. Soon enough though some upstrokes come in and then some horns make us get our dancing shoes on. Tom's vocals then come in and we are treated to a wonderfully bouncy melody. As fun and as up-tempo as the track is it's actually about a very serious subject – dealing with mental health. Specifically turning to alcohol to try and cope with it all. I really want to see Have A Can performed live, I can only imagine how much fun this song is to dance to and to joyously sing along with the "nah nah nahs" in the chorus. Up next is the song Off My Face. This track is an all round rowdier affair with the highlight being some great back and forth vocals between Tom and Nathan. The song continues with the theme of using alcohol as a crutch to help you cope with your mental health problems. Off My Face features a great moment for some crowd participation during the chorus as they can shout "off my face" back at the band during the chorus.

I Am Incensed is much more of a punk rock song than a ska one. There's an infectious energy about the song that had me hooked immediately. Musically it's pretty simple and doesn't do much to reinvent the genre but when the song is so catchy this is never a problem. The song really comes alive when we reach the chorus. The penultimate track is titled Theresa and it's about the UK's prime minister Theresa May being a prostitute. Returning to their ska style, 6foot7 play a funky melody during the verse whilst vocalist Tom basically raps the lyrics. The chorus is another big sing-along moment and there's also a fantastic musical interlude that will get everyone having a great big skank. Finally we have the song Sobriety. This is my favourite track on the EP. It feels as if there is much more emotion in the song compared to the others, as 6foot7 sing a song about struggling to remain sober. As somebody who is tee-total and has never been drunk it's difficult for me personally to relate to the song but I'm certain the message will hit home hard for many people and will hopefully help them.

Have A Can is a superb EP that deals with the topic of using alcohol to deal with the difficulties of everyday life brilliantly. Like I previously said, it's not something I can relate to myself but I'm sure there are plenty of people who do. There seems to be more and more bands coming forward to discuss their issues and this is such a good thing. The more we talk about things the more we can help people. As well as having a important message, Have A Can has five superb songs that you can sing and dance along to and have a smashing time.

Like 6foot7 here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.