Saturday, 20 January 2018

Album Review: Long In Winters by Jake & The Jellyfish (by Emma Prew)

One of my favourite UK-based DIY folk punk bands, Jake & The Jellyfish, are back! It seems a long time since they released their last album, Dead Weight (2015), and we (Colin and I) haven’t seen the band live since Fest 15 in 2016. It turns out they were pottering away crafting a new album last year and the wait for new music is nearly over as Long In Winters is released on 26th January, by the Bristol-based label Invisible Llama Music.

As soon as I heard they had a new album coming, I begged Colin to let me be the one to review it and so when Iwan, from the label, dropped us an email with a stream of the album I was over the moon. The press release suggests that the album might be for fans of Hot Water Music, Latterman and The Menzingers. My first thought was that that doesn’t really sound like the Jake & The Jellyfish I know but it sounds like something I will like anyway. And it certainly made me all the more keen to hear what the band has in store for us on album no. three!

Kicking off the album with a blend of rhythmic acoustic guitar and pounding drums is a song titled Spokesdog. This is a loud and rowdy folk punk tune from the outset with a neat little 1, 2, 3, 4 count in before Jake’s distinct vocals make their first appearance. This certainly gets the album going in style. Spokesdog reflects on how we hear so much about how the world is a terrible place, everything is going down the drain, nothing is going to get better etcetera, etcetera, that we almost become desensitised to it – it’s hard to care anymore. I can definitely appreciate what Jake’s getting at. ‘I’ve been winding myself up anyway, You can tell that I’ve been overthinking anyway … The radio’s telling me it’s all gone wrong, The country’s fucked and the money’s all gone, It’s hard to care after a while.’  The second song on Long In Winters was released at the end of last year as the lead single from the album. The track is called Reading List and it is pure classic Jake & The Jellyfish that we know and love. Reading List begins with a slick bassline before the guitar adds another layer, with said guitar simply being melodic rather than the more in-your-face style of the opening song. There are some great whoa-ohs as soon as the first chorus comes in – which, by the way, is only after about 30 seconds. This song doesn’t hang around. The lyrics of the second verse are really great. ‘I swear looking at my phone makes me unhappy, I tried to read this book three times already, Every time you ring I think someone’s died, Phonecalls bring out my worst side.’ Reading List is about the age of procrastination, as well as often expecting the worst in life. It’s become almost normal to spend more time looking at your phone than with your head in a book, even if the latter would make you more happy. Plenty of food for thought there.

Graveyard is the third song of Long In Winters and it is the violin that stands out as the star of the show here. I was actually wondering if the band still had a violin player (having seen them without one a few times) so I’m pleased to know that they do! ‘We used to drink in the graveyard in town, We used to talk about the music we’d found…’ Graveyard is a fast paced and furious track that, rather than just whoa-ohs, has ahh-ahh-ohhs as well. I can’t do them justice in words – just listen to it as soon as you can. It makes the song sound huge anyway which is no bad thing. Jake has some fine lyricism throughout the song but the line that really stood out to me is the slightly oxymoronic ‘All this thinking can’t be good for your brain.’ Jake is a wise man. The fourth track kicks off with a fast bass part before louder – electric? – and more urgent guitars also join in. The Shakes is the first song that really shows this new Hot Water Music-influenced Jake & The Jellyfish. Like I said, I didn’t expect it from Jake & The Jellyfish but I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s so awesome. This is a heavy, headbang-inducing song about struggling with mental health problems and how those around you don’t always offer the best support. ‘You said I don’t help myself, Talking to you won’t help my mental health.’ Definitely relatable but also delivered in a powerful way.

The louder, faster and heavier Jake & The Jellyfish sound continues into Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peas – always nice to have a bit of humour in a song title. The song title is definitely the only place where humour is apparent with this song as it is deadly serious and fuelled by anger – in a totally good way. The anger is certainly justified as this song is an attack on mindless racists who don’t think about their actions, in particular, I imagine, Nigel Farage and UKIP. ‘It’s easy to be influential when you’re targeting the vulnerable.’ And the simple idea that you should think before you open your mouth. ‘Do you hear yourself? Do you hear yourself when you speak?’ There is an incredible amount of passion and energy that is perfect for the middle point of the album. Things calm down a little bit for the sixth song, Comics, which sees the return of the acoustic guitar… at least for the start of the song. This is a fairly straightforward and honest song which is apparent from the very first line. ‘I just want to sit and read comics…’ With so much going on in the world and in our own lives, sometimes you just want to sit and do something you love, forgetting about life’s stresses for a while – whether it be reading comics or writing folk songs. Comics has a lovely rolling motion thanks to its drumbeat, inducing a folk-country vibe. I think there’s also some accordion on this song?! I hope I’m not imagining anyway. ‘We’re all the same, In very different ways.’

Social Smoker is next up and it has a brilliant mix of pounding drums and acoustic guitar that’ll get your head nodding in no time. This is quite a classic sounding Jake & The Jellyfish song although it also reminds me of Ducking Punches, or Dan Allen solo acoustic anyway – they’d be great on tour together (again, if they’ve already toured together!). The way I interpreted the lyrics of Social Smoker is that some people are just instantly relaxed and at home when surrounded by others, like social smokers, while others find the relatively simple act of socialising more difficult. I am particularly socially awkward myself so, if that is indeed what this song is about, I can definitely relate. ‘You’re a social smoker, I’m a social waste of space.’ The highlight of this song has got to be the bridge section where Jake repeatedly sings ‘I don’t know what you want from me.’  it’s just asking for a big singalong really. The penultimate song of Long In Winters is No One Remembers Song Titles Anyway. Firstly, I’d like to point out that I am personally notoriously bad at remembering song titles, so they’re not wrong there! Regardless of the song’s name, this is a beautiful acoustic guitar and violin led track which sets a sombre and thoughtful tone.‘My TV is lying to me, About things that make you happy, Drink coke to quench your thirst, Take pills to stop the hurt.’  This is without a doubt a sad song as it is dedicated to lost loved one but it also feels like an appropriate celebration of that person. ‘This is my first Christmas without you…’ cue pounding drums, crashing guitars and a louder violin. The louder sound equals more intense emotions. You don’t have to be religious or traditional to miss someone when Christmas or family and friends gatherings happen and they are not there.

A few times when I’ve seen Jake & The Jellyfish live they have unplugged their instruments and come into the crowd to sing their final song. That song is usually the previous album’s closing track, Hypocrites, but I can definitely imagine it being replaced with this album’s closing track in future Jellyfish set lists. The closing track also happens to be the album’s title track, Long In Winters. If it was possible to sound more stripped back than the other acoustic-based songs on this album, this song has done it. It is simple but effective. Long In Winters talks of bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years and wanting to make more of an effort to stay in touch. Faces can change but underneath appearances people remain the same. Since the album title was first announced I’ve been puzzling over exactly what ‘long in winters’ might mean. Listening to the chorus, I think I sort of get it. ‘You say that I’m long in winters, But short in years, You say that I think too much, After all these years.’ The way I interpret it is being ‘long in winters but short in years’ means that you are perhaps wiser than your age might suggest but also maybe more troubled, as you overthink things. An apt end to an inspiring, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable album. Bravo Jake & The Jellyfish!

Long In Winters is out next Friday and you can catch Jake & The Jellyfish live at their album release shows in Leeds and Bristol – check the band’s Facebook page for details. Word is they’ll be embarking on a full UK and Europe tour later in the year as well if you, like me, don’t live near enough to Leeds or Bristol.

You can stream Reading List on Bandcamp ahead of the album’s full release and pre-order the album now from Invisible Llama’s shop.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Album Review: Rhombithian by Sincere Engineer (by Emma Prew)

Sincere Engineer is the name that Chicago native Deanna Belos goes by when she’s armed with an acoustic guitar and writing and playing songs. Last autumn (or fall if you’re American, like Sincere Engineer) she teamed up with a full band for her debut album, Rhombithian, which was released by Red Scare Industries. I must admit that the album completely passed me by when it was initially released until Colin mentioned that he thought I would like it – and when Colin says he thinks I’ll like something he’s usually correct.

Hitting play on the track number one, Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7, for the first time I exclaimed ‘Yeah, I like this!’ within seconds and decided to have a go at reviewing the album. The main thing that immediately strikes me is what an amazing and distinct voice Deanna has, whilst clearly not being overproduced. ‘What am I supposed to do now? When you’re still not around, When you’re all I think about.’ Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7 is fairly upbeat, super catchy and definitely serves as a fine album opener. The lyrics strike me as being completely down to earth and honest with themes covering falling asleep on the couch and not wanting to leave the house. The anxious themes continue into second song, Ceramic Tile. More than just an ode to a bathroom tile – I don’t think that’s a phrase I’ll ever use again – this is somewhat of an anthem for hangovers. If you’ve ever been drunk enough to feel it the next day then you may well have experienced lying on the aforementioned tiled floor. The song is a mid-tempo one with slightly strained vocals but not in a bad way. Overbite is next up on Rhombithian and this is probably one of my favourite tracks on the whole album. The song is about how Deanna was, or is even, smart enough to have been a dentist but she knew that it just wasn’t right for her. She could have tried harder but it was not what she wanted. Musically the song reminded me of Captain, We’re Sinking and I guess there are similarities with both artist’s emo influence. My favourite bit is definitely the faster paced and infectious chorus – which seems far more cheery than it actually is. ‘I don’t care about anything as much as I used to, I don’t care about anything as much as I used to.’ and also to the same tune ‘I still feel just about as dumb as I used to, I still feel just about as dumb as I used to.’ 

Kicking off with a slow melodic guitar opening and gentle background ooh-woahs, the fourth song Screw Up brings the tone down a notch more with the opening line ‘I’m gonna screw up again…’  This is a song about lacking in self-confidence and being sick of feeling stuck at a certain point in your life. It’s pretty brave, if you ask me, for Deanna to have put so much of herself into these songs and I greatly admire her for that. There is also a really great folky-punky fairly fast bridge section before all of her remaining emotion is put into the last chorus. ‘And they’ll all think I’m nuts but I don’t give a fuck, Just as long as they’ll let me come crawling back.’  The distorted ending of Screw Up cuts straight into Shattering, a carefree track with some more don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. A nice touch that I don’t think we’ve heard until now is that the guitar echoes the melody of that first verse – which is pretty darn catchy to boot. ‘I’m gonna jump in Lake Michigan and swim out as far as I can.’  It’s sure to get your head nodding. The vocals are that little bit more raw as Deanna verges on screaming in parts but she has such an incredible voice that it doesn’t sound too raw. (If that makes any sense!) Here’s Your Two Dollars is the next song and it is an interesting one because it seems very much like an aural representation of the image on the album cover. There are bad dreams, anxieties, ideas of sinking and drowning all thrown into the song. It is much slower paced than previous tracks with a steady drumbeat. The whole thing feels almost dreamlike, which really matches up with the lyrical content. However the chorus is more upbeat and the drums become more rumbling – ‘I’m waking up, I’m rising up to the surface, And goddamn I feel so nervous.’ Towards the end of the song everything starts to fades out – this signal the end of Side A on the record perhaps.

Track number 7 is called 1K Rats and it begins with an acoustic guitar which accompanies the first short verse. At first I wasn’t sure if the whole song would remain acoustic but soon enough drums kick in along with electric guitar and bring back the full band dynamic. As well as the full band sound we have the picturesque and wonderfully direct lyrics of ‘Now I’m throwing up in a parking lot.’ It feels like the vocals are kept a little more restrained for this song. It is still not exactly ‘sweet’ as Deanna packs plenty of punch with her vocal chords alone but the change from previous tracks is noticeable. Towards the end of the song we are treated to a neat short guitar solo that echoes chorus ‘All I wanna do is spend the day with you.’ Lovely! Candle Wax is next up and it doesn’t hang around – straight in there with the volume cranked up. The pounding drums keep your head nodding along while the guitar riff gets lodged in your head. Musically the track is reminiscent of Americana-style punk rock but the vocals remain angsty. This is a song about drinking, hangovers, being young, making mistakes and apologising for them, as well as realising afterwards that ‘I should have saw it coming.’ In punk rock style, this song features some rousing gang vocals.

It feels like perhaps Deanna has saved the more personal and confessional songs for last as Let You Down opens with the lines ‘How often do you think about dying?, Because it haunts me every time I sleep, So I’ll just stay awake and watch cable TV.’ This is a slow, heart-wrenching and emotion-fuelled track about quite simply not wanting to let someone down. The theme of bad dreams is also back adding to the concept of the album as a whole. I really loved the warm melodic guitar riff after the chorus. After an almost eerie noise that accompanies the penultimate song’s guitar intro, Keep You Company kicks off at a mid-tempo pace. This is quiet track about dealing with feeling lonely and insecure – ‘If you’re lonely, If you’re lonely, Let me keep you company.’ The word that springs to mind is ‘Emo’. These days people think emo is, or was in the early 2000s, bands that wore too much eyeliner and make an obvious point of being ‘sad’. but that’s not quite it really. Although this is a sad song, I feel like there’s an element of hopefulness in there as well. We end the album with a completely stripped back and acoustic track, Ghosts In The Graveyard. Obviously this album is my first experience of Sincere Engineer and Deanna Belos but I imagine this is what she sounded like before the full band. Luckily she sounds excellent, full band or not, and if there was going to be an acoustic track then it makes sense to be the album’s closer really. Ghosts In The Graveyards is about trying to figure out what’s going on in your own head when you have lots of thoughts ‘swimming around’ – ‘There’s plenty of fish in this graveyard, There’s plenty of ghosts in the sea.’ Deanna singing ‘And we keep running.’ with multiple voices in the background shouting ‘Nah, you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.’ back at her is a perfect ending to a brilliant debut album.

I didn’t know Sincere Engineer before this release, well not even then for a couple more months after its release, but I’ll be sure to check out whatever they do next because Rhombithian is excellent. Don’t just take my word for it, listen now!

You can stream three of the tracks and download the full album now on Bandcamp. You can also give Sincere Engineer on Facebook – because they deserve more than 1,600 likes!

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Top Tens: Sean from Coach Bombays' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Taco Bell
Definitely the most inclusive fast food restaurant, with plenty of options for the vegan in the band. Ensures that we can all talk about farts and diarrhea equally.

The Mighty Ducks
The biggest influence on our band. Taught us all that it's all about the team.

John Madden
Incredible broadcaster and namesake of a great video game series. It doesn't matter if the horse is blind, just load the wagon.

Ja Rule
Most bands' gruff vocals are probably influenced by Chuck Ragan or Tim Barry. Those folks got nothing on Ja Rule's gravelly tone.

Jud Jud
This one is controversial, some of the band can't appreciate the genius that was Jud Jud. They headlined bands like Minor Threat and Judge, legendary hxc.

Mountain Dew and Whiskey
The best mix drink of all time, made specifically to drink with whiskey.

The Casualties
Just kidding, fuck this band.

Sum 41
Amazing band. All Killer, No Filler remains timeless.

Apparently everyone in the world except us thinks we sound like Rancid. As long as it's pre-Indestructible that's ok.

Iron Chic
Maybe the band the four of us collectively like the best – and an actual influence on our band.

Stream and download Coach Bombay's music here:

Like Coach Bombay here:

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Album Review: The Sickness, The Shame by Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye Blue Monday are a band I am embarrassingly slow in getting into. The four piece from Edinburgh released their latest EP The Sickness, The Shame back in February last year on Make-That-A-Take Records and I've only just gotten around to checking it out. I'm almost a year too late on what is a fantastic EP that I loved immediately.

The three track EP begins with a song titled Fungus. A common theme in Goodbye Blue Monday's songs is the topic of mental health. On this opening song the band use fungus as a metaphor for your mental health issues spreading and getting worse. Musically they play melodic shout-a-long punk rock similar to that of Iron Chic and The Flatliners. I love this style of punk rock and Goodbye Blue Monday do it very well. The structure of the song and the melody hooks me in straight away and I quickly want to throw my fists up and scream along to the infectious chorus. Up next is Take Your Pills. What a song this is! Goodbye Blue Monday manage to take a topic of having to take pills to help with your mental health and turn it into a joyous occasion. I wish I had had this song when I was formerly on anti-depressants, it would have been my anthem. I used to absolutely hate having to take them but this song is great to help you realise that it is actually okay if you have to. Again it's a song that I want to shout my heart out to - Goodbye Blue Monday must be an incredible live act. The third and final song is the EP's title track The Sickness, The Shame. This song is just superb. Lyrically it's incredible, it's hugely relatable to anyone who has struggled with mental health issues. Seriously go and check out the lyrics to this song, there's every chance you'll read at least one and think "yeah that's me" or "that was me." Despite the sadness of the lyrics there is again an upbeat nature to the song, probably coming from the shout-a-long qualities pouring out of the song. This is one of those songs where you will get a great feeling of catharsis listening to it but especially from shouting it as loud as you can.

This three song EP is one of the best I've heard in long time. I wish I had given it a chance earlier as it would have placed really high on my end of year lists. It's got everything I want in my punk rock: it makes me smile, it's catchy enough for me to sing along to quickly, it has interesting melodies and it's about a relatable and really important subject that can never be spoken about enough. Goodbye Blue Monday seem to be a band that everyone needs to know about and soon will be the cream of not just the Scottish punk scene but the entire UK scene. I can't wait to catch them at Manchester Punk Festival in April. If you're going (why the hell wouldn't you be!?), make sure you do too!

Stream and download The Sickness, The Shame here:

Like Goodbye Blue Monday here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Album Review: Hits From The Void by All In Vain (by Emma Prew)

When I head to Bandcamp to find new music to listen to I usually make the ‘folk punk’ section my first port of call and that’s how I came across All In Vain, a folk punk band based in Liverpool. They put together an EP of five tracks at the beginning of November last year called Hits From The Void. Here’s what I thought of it…

The first track on Hits From The Void is Introspection/Threshold which opens with a slow yet ever so slightly haunting instrumental. I think it’s mostly the banjo that I can hear but there’s some mandolin, guitar, violin and drums in there as well. The eerie melodies, complete with subtle background ah-ahs, bring to mind scenes of a boat lost at sea or something similarly nautical. This is a lengthy track at 7 minutes long but, as you may have guessed form the song’s title, it is sort of split into two parts. After 4 and a half minutes, the music speeds up and we have some vocals. ‘If I were to succumb to our expectations, Would the split second before the fall be worth it all? How would it feel? I guess there's only one way to find out.’ It all feels very existential and mysterious but has me well and truly hooked and keen to hear the rest of the EP.

The second track, Regurgitate, has a faster pace from the outset and those banjo and violin melodies had me eagerly stomping my feet along. As enjoyable as it is just to nod along to the music – maybe even get up and have a bit of a dance in my living room – it’s the lyrics of the song that really hold the power. Regurgitate is about being brave enough to take a stand for what you believe in regardless of how much of an effect it might have. ‘If you speak out they'll make you pay, But some still speak out anyway, Just submitting would be a big mistake, Silently digging our own graves, We're burying ourselves alive.’ Keeping up the pace, Hymn Of The Free Market is a shorter song but that doesn’t stop vocalist Ash from packing plenty of lyrical content into this 2 and a bit minutes. Although the instruments come from more traditional folk music this track is as anarchic as the rowdiest punk band. Hymn Of The Free Market is an anti-consumerism anthem that labels consumerism itself as being like a religion. Worryingly truthful when you think about it. Despite the somewhat dark subject matter, this song has a pretty darn catchy chorus (which is pretty dark too) – ‘Every day is a sabbath day, they have ways to make you pray, Every day is a sabbath day, every day they dig more graves, Quotas to fill, demons to kill, Blood to spill, blood to spill.’

The violin is the star of the show for the opening of No Connection but once again it is the lyrics that really stand out throughout the rest of the song’s duration. In a modern pop music world of unintelligent and derogatory lyrics, we really ought to pay extra attention to songs like these. No Connection is about how we have become disconnected from the land on which we live and how our planet is being exploited for commercial gains. The verses are really rather fast paced but the chorus is much slower, mournful and all the more poignant because of this. ‘No connection, we are landless, History unspoken, history forgotten, No connection, this land was stolen, History unspoken, history forgotten.’ Bringing Hits From The Void to a close is a song called Void, in a nod towards the EP title. The song also nods back to the first track as it is similarly slow paced and atmospheric. This time the scene the song sets is a dark and lonely forest which is reflected in the lines ‘The only utopia that I can see, Is a cabin in the woods just the forest and me.’  Void is definitely not a hopeful song but, of course, that’s far from what All In Vain set out to do with it. Void is bleak, dystopian and melancholic but it left far more of an impression on me than if it had been another cheery pop punk song – I like cheery pop punk but you know what I mean. An appropriate ending to an intelligent, yet catchy, folk punk release. 

All In Vain don’t have much of an Internet presence besides their Bandcamp page but they are featured on a website called Cacophonix Conspiracy which has the following message (and explains the lack of Internet presence): ‘Cacophonix Conspiracy is currently just a website, created in order to provide people with one place to visit to find links to various musical projects who cross-over members or are friends with each other. People often ask us when we are performing in the street where they can find us online and it's easier to provide one link rather than several.’

You can find Cacophonix Conspiracy on Facebook and, of course, download or stream Hits From The Void on All In Vain’s Bandcamp page.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Album Review: Losing Eleven by The Chromosomes

The Chromosomes are a pop punk band who formed in 1993 in Livorno, Italy. Playing that pop punk style that is a cross between The Ramones and The Beach Boys made famous by The Queers, the three piece released a brand new eleven song album last October named Losing Eleven. Sounds perfect for a chilly Monday in January.

First up is the track My Rowdy Hula Dancer. Immediately a big smile appeared on my bearded face the first time I listened to this track. It's a cheery one about being in love on a beach and having a wonderful time. How can they not put a smile on anyone's face? Of course it's ridiculously catchy and will have you singing along and tapping your toes quickly. This song really sets the tone for what The Chromosomes and Losing Eleven is all about. The second track is titled A Duet With Dolly and is about exactly what you probably assume it's about, performing a duet with Dolly Parton. It's a song that doesn't take itself too seriously and is just a whole lot of fun. I enjoyed the little dig at the modern day pop stars who rely on autotuning for their vocals. As you might expect from a band that is inspired by The Beach Boys, the song features some delicious harmonies. Watchin' Airplanes is the title of the third song. Musically the song is slightly harder and features some pounding drums throughout. The fun, happy times remain though with a song that is about doing your favourite thing with the person you love - what more could you ever want?

The fourth song is named Heavy Metal Kid. It's a song that pokes a little bit of fun at metal kids and how they're not as hard or dangerous as they like to think. They're actually quite nice. By now it's clear The Chromosomes have a knack of writing witty songs that will make you smirk. Mr. Grabbs is one of my favourite songs on Losing Eleven. It's an ode to an old Basketball teacher named (you guessed it) Mr. Grabbs. What I really loved about this song as the way the vocals flow along with the melody. It's kind of punchy without really hitting hard and immediately grabbed my attention. There are also some more of those delicious harmonies. The sixth song continues the sporting theme. It's named Goalkeeper and is about goalkeepers. If there was an award for the catchiest song by an Italian pop punk band I feel like The Chromosomes would have it in the bag. I challenge you to listen to this song and not be humming it for the rest of the day. It'll be stuck in my head the next time I'm forced to go in goal at five-a-side. Track number seven is titled Leavin' Canada and is about falling in love with a place, the example given being Canada. What a fantastic song this is. Again it's superbly catchy and is the most fun to sing-a-long with. I loved the little nod to Canadian pop punk legends Chixdiggit during the track. Chixdiggit are one of the most underrated pop punk bands ever. The finale of the song is a cracker. The addition of harmonies spelling out Canada to the chorus gives the song that good time feel that a live crowd will adore.

Escape From The Orgy Of Media is probably the darkest sounding song on Losing Eleven. It strays away from The Beach Boys sound and on first listen I was actually reminded of MXPX. The drums in particular thunder along on the track while the guitars and vocals do a good job of attempting to keep up with the tempo. The song itself is about society's need to document everything in their lives to seemingly prove themselves to everyone else. Like if you're unwell you need a picture to prove you are unwell. When you think about it like this the whole concept is crazy but that's modern society and we're all guilty of it. The ninth song is a cover of the Dolly Parton classic Coat Of Many Colors. This is definitely the first time Dolly Parton has gotten two mentions on a CPRW post. It's a fun little cover that a live crowd will absolutely adore. Stupidly catchy and will get everyone having a good ol' barn dance. The penultimate song is TV Will Blast You. I've been waiting for a song on Losing Eleven to start with some "do do dah do"s and TV Will Blast You is that. I'm surprised it took ten songs for it to happen. The song is about how TV can brainwash you if you're not careful. Finally we have the song The Age Of Summer. This song is a nice surprise on the album. It starts out with soft acoustic guitar and quiet vocals, of course you expect the full band to kick in soon. You get far enough into the song where you believe it will stay acoustic throughout and then BOOM! Full band for the song's big finale. Great fun!

What a great record of 90s Lookout style pop punk Losing Eleven is. The Chromosomes have put out one of the best pop punk records of 2017 and proved themselves to be legends in their genre. I wish I had known about them earlier and I feel like many more people should be aware of them. They've been going since 1993 so I have some lost time to make up on.

Stream Losing Eleven here:

Like The Chromosomes here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Album Review: Winter Songs From Summer Bruises by Traverse (by Emma Prew)

Traverse are a four-piece indie punk band from Paris, France. Formed in the summer of 2015, they released their first EP in early 2016 titled Winter Songs From Summer Bruises. Not being someone who is up to date with French punk rock, or indeed all that much European punk rock in general, I hadn’t heard about Traverse until more recently. The record label behind the EP, Bad Wolf Records, appear to have only recently set up a their Bandcamp page which is how I came across Winter Songs From Summer Bruises, as well as the label’s other releases, when clicking about the new arrivals in punk. I had a little listen and liked what I heard so figured, new or not, the EP deserved a review.

Winter Songs From Summer Bruises opens with Lights Off. This is a fairly short track, actually all of the songs on this EP are less than 3 minutes long and all 5 total less than 12 minutes – proper punk rock! Lights Off is a catchy and upbeat tune that sounds more uplifting than it actually is. ‘I’ve cleaned the mess in my head, But when I look in your eyes, I see nothing but myself, Falling over again.’ The second song of the EP, Lifelines, opens with an awesome guitar riff that stays present throughout the first verse. It’s darn catchy. There is perhaps more of an indie sound coming through with this song while the punk rock takes a slight backseat. There are however some nice somewhat shouty backing vocals. Towards the end of the song is a slower, quieter bridge section which builds until the volume returns for final verse. ‘May my dark thoughts stay with me, To turn them all into a blaze, If it feels like nothing's changing, We'll fight in an alcoholic haze.’ All I Never Wanted To Be is next up and has an almost eerie reverby guitar fuelled intro accompanied by pounding drums – not exactly what I was expecting on this EP, which is no bad thing. It’s clear to me by this third track that Traverse are a band that pack a lot of emotion into their songs and this is perhaps most apparent with All I Never Wanted To Be. Lines like ‘Staring at a glass I can barely hold in my hands, A thousand failures drawn on my lifeline.’ and ‘So, I raise my glass, keeping me safe from my greatest fears, Choked up with bruises, wishing for the sun to never come.’ show the darkness of struggling with negative feelings and, sometimes, trying to numb the pain with alcohol. 

The penultimate song of Winter Songs From Summer Bruises is called Rooms. As the shortest song of the EP, at a minute and a half long, it isn’t a great surprise that this track has more of a pop punk sound – all the better to pack those lyrics into. Rooms is a short, fast and furious song about knowing you need to make changes in your life for the better, except that is usually easier said than done. There is a neat melodic guitar breakdown after a minute, which is actually two thirds of the way through the track, before the song ends on a more positive note. ‘Now every second I become more awakened, Gotta get up and run before I rust, Start acting, take all this in my hands, choke it, This time I’m sure I can handle it.’ Oh, and did I mention there are some woah-ohs? Everyone loves the punk rock ‘woah’. The More Miles, The Less Troubles is the final track and it kicks off with a rough-around-the-edges almost folk punk sound. The opening lyrics are particularly great – ‘Broken but not defeated, Rough roads for troubled hearts, We never played to win, But we own this time anyway.’  Those are fine words to live by if you ask me. So we had the woah-ohs in the last song but what else makes for a great punk song? An immensely singalong-able chorus of course! And Those More Miles, The Less Troubles certainly has one – spoiler alert: it starts with the song title. There are plenty of sadder moments on Winter Songs From Summer Bruises but I think with the the fifth and final track we are given an uplifting ending.

I was a little late to the party but better late than never, eh? Check out Winter Songs From Summer Bruises if you like all things melodic indie punk. Plus, according to their Facebook, Traverse have an album due out in March so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that.

You can stream and download Winter Songs From Summer Bruises on Bandcamp and like Traverse on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.