Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Album Review: Civil War Rust / Squarecrow Split

In March, Californian bands Civil War Rust and Squarecrow released a four song split. I has been aware of both bands for a while but had never really properly checked each out so this felt like a great opportunity.

Oakland's Civil War Rust start the split with their two tracks – Hopeful At Last and Hunting For A Good Will. Hopeful At Last starts out with a slower section with the band’s vocalist pretty much crooning before the full band comes in and we get a huge sing-along moment of "wake up, wake up" that will fully get a crowd involved. We then transition back into a slower moment that builds back up to the big ending, which is the real highlight of the song. Back to the repetitive "wake up, wake up" line and then a raspier vocal that add some aggression to proceedings. What a superb way to start things off. Hunting For A Good Will begins with your more standard melodic pop punk guitar tone. The opening vocals almost feel like a spoken word segment in the way it's delivered and was a great way to pull the audience in. This builds towards a superb chorus. The huge gang vocal shout of "maybe we're all lost and lonely, we fell in love without an exit plan, I'll see you soon" had me fighting the urge to throw my fist in the air.

San Diego's Squarecrow begin their half of the split with the song Can't Sleep. Gonna Die. Squarecrow offer more of an indie punk style compared to the melodic pop that Civil War Rust gave us. The dual vocals give the song a fantastic element and make it feel somehow more rounded. I really enjoyed how the bass takes the lead throughout the verses with the guitar only adding some nice moments here and there. If you've never listened to Squarecrow before then this is such a great place to start. The three piece’s second song is titled Showing Teeth. Starting out with a raspier vocal than what we heard on Can't Sleep. Gonna Die, Showing Teeth is a song about trying to prove to someone that everything is going to be okay despite how it might currently seem. It's a catchy song that you'll be humming long after you've finished listening to it. The chorus really is a big ear worm and it will act as a moment of catharsis for anyone singing it. Hopefully it will get plenty of people believing its message.

I really enjoyed all four of these songs and will now be making sure to check out more material from both Civil War Rust and Sqaurecrow. Releases like this are the reason I do love a split – you get to check out more than one band, it feels like you're getting a great bonus from it. More bands should do splits.

Stream and download the split here:

Like Civil War Rust here:

Like Squarecrow here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Album Review: Six Feet Deep by Tightwire

I'm about six months late to the party on this one but I enjoyed it so much that I had to give it a review. When Red Scare Industries release a new album, for me, it's a guarantee that it's going to be very good. That's certainly the case with Tightwire's debut album Six Feet Deep. It was released way back in October but I only just discovered it thanks to a tip from Red Scare's Toby Jeg. The three piece from Minneapolis came personally recommended to Toby by one of the guys from Dillinger Four so you know that they're a big prospect in the scene.

Six Feet Deep is thirteen songs in only nineteen minutes so you can imagine that each song is pretty short and played quite fast. The opening song is named Draggin' Me. It starts out with a distortion filled, sludgy opening before moving into some fast paced Ramonescore pop punk. It's infectious and catchy and has you hooked immediately. It won't be long until you're singing along to this song about having a friend that you realise is bringing you down. Next up is the album’s title track, Six Feet Deep. I really enjoyed how Tightwire started the track with the song’s chorus, this really welcomes you into the song as it's the catchiest part. This is one that will be hanging around in your head long after you remember where you know the words from. On Spell On Me it sounds as if the vocals go up a pitch, getting close to Intruder Blue's trademark high notes. This really softens the overall sound of the track and shows a different side of Tightwire. For the first time on Six Feet Deep, the band show off their wonderful harmonies towards the end of the song. I'm such a sucker for a great harmony so this was something I really enjoyed.

Guts wastes no time in getting started. Three crashes of a cymbal and you're immediately into the song. It's about having the courage to tell someone that you care for how you feel about them because you don't want to be alone. This is a sugary sweet pop punk track that will have you smiling throughout. Pentagram Tattoo is one of a few songs on Six Feet Deep that are less than a minute long. Tightwire do an incredible job of fitting a lot into the fifty-eight seconds that the song lasts for however. It's a punch track about admiring someone from afar. You'll be singing along with every word after just a couple of listens and will also find yourself really caring about what Tightwire are singing about – it's also really relatable. The sixth song, Don't Like To Lose, quickly had me thinking of Teenage Bottlerocket. There's a bouncy quality added to the fast buzzsaw guitars and the pounding drums that gives the song a fresh sound. This is the first song that really allows the band to show off their skills as musicians with a superb guitar solo being squeezed into the track. I also got a bit of a kick out of the claps that appear midway through the song, these will allow for some great crowd participation moments.

If Don't Like To Lose reminds me of Teenage Bottlerocket then the next song Told Ya has The Copyrights written all over it. I loved how it started with some great gang vocals as they belt out the chorus. The pace of the vocals is noticeably quicker, injecting a huge amount of energy into the song that's just brilliant. It's about being right about something, not wanting to rub it in someone's face, and then doing it anyway. The energy continues on Hidden Planet. Being just over a minute long, Tightwire are relentless on this track, barely slowing down at all throughout the song. It's about wanting to get away from the world because it's an absolute mess. It amazes me just how much the band can squeeze into these short songs. The ninth song, Simple Questions continues the less is more style of Six Feet Deep. Tightwire goes from Teenage Bottlerocket, to the Copyrights and now to Dude Ranch era blink-182 with this track about being in high school and wanting to talk to a girl. It's a short and punchy song that will quickly take up a residency in your brain.

The tenth song is titled Body Language. Packed with some more glorious harmonies, this is a rapid fire pop punk number that will really get a live crowd moving – it's exploding with energy. We're getting to the point in the album where you begin to realise just how much information your brain can store as this is yet another real ear worm that you'll be singing instantly. Don't Wanna Wait sees Tightwire return to their softer poppier approach whilst retaining that unstoppable energy. It's about being impatient waiting for someone to stop wasting their time in a bad relationship when they could be in a good one with you. I like this as a subject matter as it's not one I usually hear. It's a very interesting take on the love song. The penultimate track on Six Feet Deep is named Out Of It. This may be the album’s catchiest song, which really is saying something. The brilliant yet simple chorus of "I'm so out of it, I'm so out of it, I'm so out of it, whoa-oh-oh" starts the song and from there we're into a great song about being so drunk that you're not sure what's going on anymore. Last up is the twenty-five second Closing Time. This was the perfect choice to, not only follow Out Of It but, to finish the album as it's about the bar closing and it being time to go home. I hope this is also the song that Tightwire finish their live sets with.

Six Feet Deep is a really great pop punk album and I'm surprised that Tightwire haven't had a lot more press. This really is an album that fans of most of the genres that fall under the punk umbrella will adore. It's fast, fun, full of energy and has lots of great moments but, most importantly, it will get you smiling.

Stream and download Six Feet Deep here:

Like Tightwire here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Album Review: The New Farm Sharks EP by Smallest Horse (by Emma Prew)

It’s no secret that we are suckers for Australian bands here at CPRW. My personal latest discovery from down under is an indie punk trio from Brisbane called Smallest Horse. The band released The New Farm Sharks EP in March and here’s what I thought of it…

The EP kicks off with a song titled The Race Up The Stairs. This was the first song I heard by Smallest Horse. Let’s just say that it certainly hooked me in and encouraged me to check out the rest of the EP when I had it stuck in my head for days. The track is upbeat and the infectious ukulele melody combined with a fast paced rhythm section instantly gives it a feel-good feel. Apparently the song is actually about band member Nick almost dying, but then not dying, so it’s a sort of sad subject but not a sad song! I Can Tell is next up. With a slow and stripped back opening featuring just vocals and ukulele, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a quiet love song. Well, it kind of is for the first thirty seconds or so but then the pace picks up for another snappy indie punk tune. It’s a sound that Smallest Horse do so well. In contrast to the upbeat and feel-good nature of the first two songs on The New Farm Sharks EP, All Of My Friends is without a doubt an initially sombre-sounding track. Opening with the line ‘All of my friends need to stop dying, I’m in my twenties and I’m sick of crying.’ is pretty hard-hitting but it is also comforting to those listening who might also be in a similar situation. There is a reminder within the lyrics that people are not always as ‘happy’ as they might seem by the photos they post on social media. As the song progresses, it becomes a celebration of those people who have died – gone but not forgotten. A wonderful tribute. The final song, New Farm Sharks, Pt. 1, sounds nothing like the rest of the EP. Gone is the ukulele, the bass and the drums and instead we have the melancholic notes of a piano. The vocals are slower, full of emotion and powerfully honest. You could say that all of the songs on the EP are emotional and honest but here, maybe due to the stripped back nature, it is perhaps more obvious. It almost feels like an intrusion to be listening to such a song but it’s also a lovely end to the, aptly titled, New Farm Sharks EP.

If you’re a fan of indie punk songs that might just make you feel something, then I can highly recommend that you give The New Farm Sharks EP a listen. After writing this review I checked out their previous EP, The Goodonya EP, which is also great. Smallest Horse are great.

You can (and should) stream and download The New Farm Sharks EP on Bandcamp and like Smallest Horse on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Gig Review: Spanish Love Songs at New Cross Inn, London 11/5/19 & 12/5/19 (by Emma Prew)

As tour line-ups go, I don’t think they get much better than Spanish Love Songs, Pkew Pkew Pkew and Goodbye Blue Monday. They are not only three bands that we love here at CPRW, they are three bands that we know each put on a killer live show. In fact, we know it’s a combination that works well together in a live setting because a few days prior to the Saturday 11th of May London show we went to The Hope & Ruin in Brighton to see the same line-up – and it was awesome, obviously.

There was no way we were ever going to miss seeing this momentous occasion at our favourite venue in the world, the New Cross Inn, as well though and when a second night was announced for Sunday the 12th, well, we snapped up tickets for that too. Sadly Pkew Pkew Pkew weren’t be able to play the bonus show but the heroes of Be Sharp Promotions gave us Burnt Tapes and Katie MF instead. They’re so good to us!

Both shows were destined to be incredible in their own ways, read on to find out if they lived up to our expectations…

Joining the already excellent line-up, for the Saturday date only, were New Jersey’s Save Face who were fresh off their EU/UK tour with Can’t Swim. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Save Face before they were added to this show but I’m always up for checking out a new band. It turned out this was their first time in the UK and their second time in London, after their first show just a week earlier. The New Cross Inn was gradually filling up with some of the earlier arrivers and, although I imagine not many people knew Save Face, the crowd soon warmed to the four piece. The band were slick performers and were clearly passionate about playing their music, which ranged from jangly indie style melodies to heavier punk riffs and intricate shreddy moments. Definitely not a bad start to the evening.

Fresh from releasing their excellent second EP Every Trouble Meant on Friday, Katie MF were a late addition to the Sunday line-up. It was a very welcome addition for CPRW since we were at the EP release show on the Thursday night and therefore knew that the New Cross Inn was in for a treat. The Sunday show had an earlier start than the Saturday but there were still a fair few people about nice and early to watch Katie and her band. Playing songs ranging from the super emotional Do Without to more upbeat songs Leather Jacket, Feelgood Films and Praying For Rain, it wasn’t long before the trio were winning over the room. These are three very talented musicians and, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Katie has the most incredibly captivating voice. Finishing up their set with protest song Mr Cameron Mr Gove, I'm certain the band earned themselves some new fans. I can’t wait to see them again at the end of the month with Western Settings – also at the New Cross Inn.

When we heard that our favourite Scottish misery punks Goodbye Blue Monday would be on board for the whole of this tour we were over the moon (it may well have encouraged us to go to the extra show in Brighton). If you are not familiar with Goodbye Blue Monday, they play catchy, seemingly upbeat melodic punk with, simply put, miserable lyrics. It’s all good fun live and that was definitely the case on Saturday night, with the band dressed in matching sunset vests which they said was for Spanish Love Songs – who are from LA. Their voices were feeling the effects of being on tour but that didn’t stop them from giving it everything they had left – and if lead vocalist Graham’s voice failed him then bandmates Ross and Sean were on hand to sing harmonies. Goodbye Blue Monday had played at the New Cross Inn twice before but this was definitely their biggest crowd yet. The set included tracks from their last two EPs, as well as the latest tune Trigger Alert. It was great to hear the brand new unreleased track It’s Not Okay – which we may have had a sneaky listen to prior to hearing it played live. Finishing up with a double whammy of Misery Punk Ruined My Life and Take You Pills – two songs from two different EPs that flow so well into one another – and finally closing with Love Is A Noose For Two was just perfect. We love Goodbye Blue Monday!

I cannot think of a band more deserving of a slot on the Sunday line-up than the Burnt Tapes. The band are huge fans of Spanish Love Songs so I know they would have been looking forward to just watching them, let alone playing with them. In fact, if it wasn’t for guitarist and vocalist Pan writing about Giant Sings The Blues in a guest end of year list for CPRW a few years ago, we wouldn’t have known about Spanish Love Songs ourselves. (I’m sure we’d have heard them eventually, they’re pretty popular now, but still – thank you, Pan!) Burnt Tapes released their incredible debut album, Never Better, earlier this year which I happen to know is many people’s album of the year so far, mine included – if you haven’t listened to it yet, where’ve you been? It's full of emotional, gruff punk – or as they like to call it, regret punk – bangers. Understandably their setlist consisted of many songs from Never Better, including Drift Champ ’16, Robert Cop and Don’t Make Me Play Bocelli, as well as a few tracks from 2017’s Alterations EP. It was a slick performance, complete with some amusing on stage banter from bassist Tone, that was finished up with ‘the hits’ Yuzi and Things Get Weird. Burnt Tapes once again proving that they are the best band in London.

Returning to the New Cross Inn – basically their London home – for the second time this year, Saturday night was to be the final night of tour for Pkew Pkew Pkew. Having seen the Canadian band the previous two times at NXI (and at Fest), we knew they put on one hell of a live show – their debut in London last year was without a doubt my gig of the year. And yet, somehow they managed to blow their previous performances out of the water on this occasion. Pkew Pkew Pkew are epitome of a good time with infectiously catchy, sometimes silly and always insanely fun songs – with some of the best harmonies in punk rock. If I recall correctly, the band opened their set with Thirsty And Humble from their new album, Optimal Lifestyles, which, like many of Pkew’s songs, is about drinking and having the best time with your pals – and that’s exactly what their show feels like, everyone is pals. The set was understandably heavy on tracks from Optimal Lifestyles with Drinkin’ Days, Passed Out, Point Break and I Don’t Matter At All making an appearance. It was particularly great to hear The Pit and I Wanna See A Wolf which I don’t think I’d heard live before, alongside classics such as Glory Days, Asshole Pandemic and Before We Go Out Drinking from their first album. I didn’t even notice that the band didn’t play Mid 20s Skateboarder/Blood Clot until Colin pointed it out to me afterwards – the new songs are so bloody good so it was nice to mix it up. There was also a human pyramid at one point which is, I think, quite a rare occurrence for the New Cross Inn. At the Brighton show, Goodbye Blue Monday joked that Pkew were actually the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. This is apparently something that stuck with the bands as in London we were treated to a rendition of By The Way. Members of Goodbye Blue Monday and Spanish Love Songs joined Pkew on stage for this very rough around the edges, no doubt only put together over the past few days, but ridiculously fun cover. And that sums this band up really – ridiculously fun.

Although Pkew Pkew Pkew were missed on the Sunday night, it was great to see Goodbye Blue Monday stepping up to take the third spot on the bill. They certainly deserve all of the new fans that they have no doubt gained from these shows and imagine they gained a few more on the Sunday – the room was certainly getting pretty packed. Wanting to change things up a bit from their set the night before, Graham explained how they hadn’t written a second setlist so were just going to make it up as they went along – ever the professionals. It turns out these chaps are pretty good at improving however, kicking things off with Take Your Pills, a song that appeared towards the end of Saturday night's set, and then storming through an even better set than the day before. There were a couple of new songs that the band hadn’t played on Saturday, including one called Alaska that they said they’d never played live before – it sounded brilliant. Unfortunately the set wasn’t without its mishaps with Sean’s guitar causing him problems part way through. Thankfully Spanish Love Songs’ Kyle was on hand to lend his guitar and, while Sean got it set up, Graham treated us to a very much unplanned cover of Iron Chic’s Time Keeps On Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future. DIY punk rock is the best. Goodbye Blue Monday are the best.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a band playing the New Cross Inn than Spanish Love Songs – I am eternally grateful to Paul Be Sharp for making these gigs happen. Having seen Spanish Love Songs twice on their first tour of the UK last autumn and once already this week (you could say I’m a bit obsessed), I knew this was going to be an amazing performance. Last year, the band’s keyboard player Meredith and bassist Trevor were not able to come over (they had a stand-in bassist but no keys) so it was great to hear Spanish Love Songs as they are supposed to be heard this time around. The show was sold out and the room was rammed with excited people, eager to sing their hearts out to these cathartic emotion-driven songs. And that’s exactly what we did, from the two-part opening of Nuevo and Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations through to closer Beer & NyQuil and everything in between. I almost lost my voice screaming along to my personal favourite from last year’s Schmaltz, The Boy Considers His Haircut, but found enough breath to sing along to the likes of Bellyache, Otis/Carl and older song Mexico, among others. The band also threw in their latest single, Losers, and their cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ Funeral which was dedicated to their new pals in Goodbye Blue Monday. The New Cross Inn crowd was incredibly enthusiastic with plenty of fists in the air and a few too many crowd surfers for my liking. Unfortunately, perhaps because this was a sold out show on a Saturday night and few people had had a few too many beers (not that that is any kind of excuse), the crowd was not without a few inconsiderate people. This was not something that went unnoticed by the band however as they commented, more than once, that they appreciated the enthusiasm but people should be aware of those around them and try not to ‘kick anybody in the head’. Spanish Love Songs still put on an incredible show and, despite my bruises from being at the front, I loved it. However, I couldn’t help going home feeling a tiny bit pissed off that some idiots in the crowd had tarnished our beloved New Cross Inn – especially as those involved had probably never been to the venue before! Thankfully, the venue had a chance to redeem itself the next day.

And I’m delighted and relieved to say that we did redeem the New Cross Inn with the second night. Before opening Spanish Love Songs’ Sunday night set, lead vocalist and guitarist Dylan spoke about what had happened the night before, for those that weren’t there. You could immediately tell that this night was going to be different however as there was still excitement in the room but it was also more chilled – it was a Sunday after all. After a minor mishap in which Meredith discovered her keyboards were not on, the band launched into the same first three songs as the previous night – Nuevo, Sequels and Haircut – before making my night even better than it already was by playing Concrete from their first album, Giant Sings The Blues. It’s the first song that I fell in love with by the band and this was my first time hearing it played live. I know the band don’t really play songs from their first album very often anymore, and second album Schmaltz is a masterpiece so that’s okay, but it was amazing to hear this – and Vermont which they played a few songs later – just the once. The rest of the set was similar to the previous night but I’d happily sing along to those songs over and over so it didn’t matter one bit. As I said, the atmosphere was just generally a lot more pleasant for the band and the audience on the Sunday night. We were still happily singing along to every word but, well, nobody got kicked in the head. It was also nice to be able to have my full attention on the band and not be wary that I might be shoved into the bass monitor in front of me at any moment. Maybe that was my fault for standing right at the front on Saturday night but I was in the same place on Sunday and had a much lovelier time! Maybe a punk show shouldn’t be ‘lovely’ but I don’t care and I don’t think Spanish Love Songs do either. 

It's unlikely that Spanish Love Songs will ever play the New Cross Inn again. They are definitely, deservedly, on to bigger venues and bigger audiences (hopefully not with bigger idiots in said audiences) but I’m so happy to have been at these shows. I can’t see any other show this year topping Sunday night’s.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Photos also by Emma Prew.)

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Gig Review: Dave Hause & The Mermaid at Scala, London 10/5/19 (by Emma Prew)

Dave Hause is one of those artists that I’m always keen to see live whenever he comes over to the UK. I absolutely loved his 2017 album Bury Me in Philly and saw Dave Hause & The Mermaid at The Garage just after it was released. It was a great show and so when tour dates got announced for this spring I snapped us up a pair of tickets. Last month, Dave Hause’s fourth album Kick was released… unfortunately I didn’t manage to find a whole lot of time to listen to it before hearing the songs played live. Of course, it didn’t matter though.

The first date of the UK leg of the Dave Hause & The Mermaid was at the Scala in London. It being a Friday night meant that this was an early show – most likely because the Scala had one of those rubbish club nights afterwards. While it meant we’d be home and in bed before midnight (which, as the second of four gig nights in a row, was much appreciated), the opening artist was on at the rather early time of 6.45pm. Long story short, we only saw the last 30 seconds of Drew Thomson’s last song. I didn’t know his music but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to try and see a new artist play live. If at all possible, I always try to catch all bands on a bill – support bands are the headlining bands of next year, after all.

Next up were a band I had heard of prior to the show but had never seen live before, Cold Years a four-piece from Aberdeen. I’d been aware of them since Colin saw them at Dundee’s Book Yer Ane Fest a few years ago and told me they were like a Scottish Gaslight Anthem. Well, seeing the band live for myself, I can tell you that they are much more than that. Cold Years expressed how happy they were to be playing with Dave Hause and that this was the biggest tour that they have been a part of – they really stepped up to the challenge with their soulful rock ’n’ roll. It was great to hear a few of the songs from last year’s Northern Blue EP, which I had the pleasure of reviewing for this here blog, as well as some songs I didn’t recognise. They also threw in a cover of the Ramones’ Bonzo Goes To Bitburg which was, well, interesting. It was slower than you’d ever expect a Ramones cover to be – Cold Years certainly gave it their own spin.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this gig due to its larger size and less of a DIY nature than the shows I generally go to these days – this week especially. Thankfully all my doubts were laid to rest when Dave Hause & The Mermaid took to the stage and kicked things off with The Ditch, the lead single from the latest album. I may not have listened to the whole new album very much before this show but I did know this song so was able to sing along to the chorus at least with everyone around me. From then on we were treated to a mixture of tracks all four Dave Hause albums but focussing heavily on the last two releases. The last time I saw Dave Hause & The Mermaid, I remarked how great a frontman Dave is – rather than just being a solo performer. I still think this but, this time around, I really appreciated how great they all were as a band. There were some killer harmonies from the rest of the band, particularly Tim Hause (guitar), who also happens to be Dave’s brother, and Kayleigh Goldsworthy (keys). In fact, one of my highlights was hearing Civil Lies from Kick live which sees Tim sing the verses and Dave only joining in for the chorus. What a talented family those two come from! This opinion was further solidified when The Mermaid were joined by Dave and Tim’s dad, on acoustic guitar, for a couple of songs. Apparently he’d been on tour with the band but this was his last date before flying home – what a treat! Other treats included an interlude with the Hause brothers playing a few stripped back songs and the whole band being joined by Drew Thomson to cover one of his songs – which was nice, having missed his own set at the start of the evening. There were singalongs a’plenty as the band drew towards the end of their set, with C’mon Kid and, one of my favourites from Bury Me In Philly, With You before a triumphant encore featuring Time Will Tell, Dirty Fucker (boo Trump!) and We Could Be Kings.

Dave Hause & The Mermaid sure know how to put on a good show!

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Photos also by Emma Prew.)

Friday, 17 May 2019

Gig Review: Katie MF's Everything Trouble Meant EP Launch at The Black Heart, London 9/5/19

If you've been following CPRW for a while now you will hopefully have noticed that every Sunday we run a Band Of The Week feature. If you've not, it's basically a feature where I share a band that I've found after trawling through the endless amount of bands on the Bandcamp Discovery page (it's one of my favourite pass times). At the time of writing this we have featured 104 and my undoubted favourite has been Katie MF from London. (Sorry C-Rage, I still love you too.)

Starting live as a solo acoustic act before going full band, Katie MF are a band I've been telling everyone about since I first heard them. From the first time I saw them live, I was blown away. Playing a blend of punk rock and folk with powerful and emotive lyrics that can break your heart or get you amped up, Katie MF are the best band to come out of London in the past year or so. This year they have been gearing up for the release of their second EP Everything Trouble Meant – which is incredible. To celebrate the release, the band hosted a launch party at the Black Heart in Camden with a bunch of their friends playing support slots. This was a gig I was seriously excited for.

Opening the night would be solo acoustic guy Will O'Donoghue. He brilliantly opened his set with an acapella song that is, but really isn't, about football. During the song he expertly used picking a football team as a metaphor for not being able to choose where you're born. From there he went onto some sad quiet songs about break ups and bad relationships and had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout with a really charming performance. He was equally charming between songs as well with some first class stage banter that kept the audience thoroughly entertained. This was a fun and relaxed way to start the night.

When I think of Katie MF one of the first bands that come to mind are their great friends The New Heat. It was absolutely no surprise that these guys were playing the show. It would have been a bigger surprise if they weren't playing really. The New Heat have had a couple of line up changes since I last saw them with only guitarist and singer Nik and bassist Phil remaining. If you didn't know this however you would have never guessed as they put on a very slick performance. Nik's raspy and soulful voice is one of my favourites in the scene at the moment – they are one of the best new bands in London. Highlights from the set included Heartbreakers and No Way Back as well as a cover of Fidlar's West Coast, which I actually prefer to the original. The New Heat are back at the New Cross Inn supporting The Bombpops on the 23rd of May – be sure to get there early for them.

The penultimate band of the evening were Charles And The Big Boys. I was so impressed with this London four piece. Combining punk, grungey rock and jangly indie guitar with the most soulful voice, it was clear to see why a good number of people seemed to have turned up especially to see them. Playing a mixture of songs about love, grieving and politics, it was lead singer and guitarist Charles (who has previously performed solo as Charlie Raphael-Campbell) that stood out with her incredible voice. Some of the notes she was hitting I'm just not used to hearing at a punk rock show. It's refreshing to hear something that I wouldn't normally and to really enjoy it. After the set I actually turned to Emma and said we should go see people who can actually sing more often, she agreed. What a fantastic new band that need to be on your radar.

Now's the time I had been excited about since receiving an early listen of Everything Trouble Meant a month or so before the show. It was time for Katie MF to take to the Black Heart stage, but not before popping backstage to put on some fancy party shirts with plenty of sequins. Emma and I made our way down to the front to make sure we got a great view of what I was sure was going to be the most fantastic hour of music. My brain is a bit messy with the order of the songs but I'm pretty sure they played every single song they know and there wasn't a single dud. When you get a band as ridiculously talented, with Katie on vocals and guitar, Ben on bass and Tobias on drums I'm pretty sure it's impossible to write a bad song. It was great to hear all of Everything Trouble Meant live as well as old favourites such as Feelgood Films, Leaving For The Last Time, Kiss Me Again, Nights Unspecified and some unreleased tracks such as Rat Race, Lucky MF and Apocalypse (which is going to featured on the upcoming CPRW fifth birthday comp) and a very much loved cover of Green Light by Lorde. Ben and Tobias are extremely good at what they do, as demonstrated when they free styled an extended introduction to Praying For Rain whilst Katie had to deal with some spilt beer inspired technical difficulties, but it really was Katie who was the star of the show. Bouncing around the stage, shredding her guitar and showcasing her wonderful vocals, there just aren't many people with a better stage presence. She's just captivating. There was a section of the set where Ben and Tobias left the stage and left Katie to play a few songs solo and acoustic. The room fell silent as she played some really emotional songs that must have pulled on the heartstrings of everyone in the room. There was a moment during the set where I began to tear up; seeing this person, who I found by luck, who I'm completely in awe of how talented they are, is one of the loveliest people I've ever met and who has become a pal of CPRW, live out their dreams in front a room full of friends, family and fans. It was just an absolute pleasure to be able to witness this. It was a moving experience that I'll be telling folk about for a long while. I actually started to during the set, messaging Paul Be Sharp and telling him to put Katie MF as headliner over Spanish Love Songs on Sunday night – for some reason he didn't. Finishing the set with a particularly rowdy of the anti-brexit track Mr Cameron, Mr Gove, this really was a set to remember. Far and away the best hour of music I've seen this year and I'm not sure anything is going to top it.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Gig Review: Jawbreaker at Kentish Town Forum, London 27/4/19 (by Omar Ramlugon)

It wouldn’t be wrong of me to say I was rather excited for this one. Ever since I first started listening to Jawbreaker at 17, I was heartbroken that at the thought of never seeing them live, which judging by Blake Schwarzenbach’s extreme reticence towards the idea, seemed to be the most likely outcome. Then the impossible happened. After hearing of their reformation and sporadic shows sprouting up across the US, I waited and hoped with bated breath for UK dates. They finally arrived, 10 long years from the first time I ever listened to Jawbreaker. In short, it was worth the wait.

The atmosphere was almost at fever pitch right from the off. Support band Beach Slang delivered a confident, rambunctious set, even managing to include well-handled covers of the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’ and The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’. Singer/guitarist James Alex pinwheeled across the stage in a whirlwind of mop-like hair, spitting beer and actual spit at various intervals and embodying the energy conveyed by the buzzsaw guitars. The rest of the band grounded his antics with tight, sure-handed performances, with lead guitarist Aurore Ounjian’s peals of noise cutting through the din.

Then Jawbreaker themselves arrived and the atmosphere finally boiled over. Looking healthy, happy and sounding better than ever, singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach tore into the first chords of ‘Save Your Generation’; I couldn’t say for certain, but it felt like the entire room was singing along. Rhythm section Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfhaler have not lost a beat either and their thick, driving sound served as the perfect counterpoint to Schwarzenbach’s ripping guitars. On that note, his new rig of a Marshall JCM800 and Mike Fortin-modded Marshall 1959SLP paired with his white Les Paul Custom was a simply powerhouse combination, sounding both clear and yet focused like a punch in the jaw. The band looked and sounded like the last 22 years hadn’t even happened; Schwarzenbach was as charismatic and drily humorous as ever and clearly touched by the rapturous reception from everyone present.

The material covered was primarily from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Dear You, with fan favourites like ‘The Boat Dreams from The Hill’ and ‘Condition Oakland’ shoulder to shoulder with ‘Jet Black’ and ‘Accident Prone’ – the ferocious energy of the former two were beautifully offset by the appearance of the latter, giving the crowd a dearly-needed chance to catch their breath. For my part I was particularly happy to hear the old Thorns of Life tune ‘Black Art’ emerge in the set, as I’d only heard it on old bootlegs, but it took on a new life nestled in the Jawbreaker set, maybe offering a thrilling glimpse at the new material that is perhaps yet to come.

‘Ache’ was even more powerful live than on record, serving as the halfway mark in what had been an already amazing set list, almost bringing a tear to my eye and probably to quite a few others. It came as a blessed relief when, after a muscular, grinding rendition of ‘Shield Your Eyes’, the band returned for an encore, with a knockout trio of ‘Boxcar’, ‘Jinx Removing’ and the classic that is ‘Kiss The Bottle’. ‘Boxcar’ might have caused structural damaging from the pogoing that resulted in the crowd, while ‘Kiss the Bottle’ was a sing-along to end all sing-alongs.

In this 90 minute set, I was 17 again. It was simply incredible. If you like punk of any stripe, make sure you catch this legendary trio at the earliest available opportunity; you will not be disappointed.

This gig review was written by Omar Ramlugon.