Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Colin's Top Ten EPs and Top Ten Albums of 2018

I always find doing end of year lists to be equal parts terrifying and exciting. It's exciting because I enjoy going back and revisiting some of my favourite music of the year and falling in love all over again. It's terrifying because every single year it seems that more and more bands are putting out incredible releases and trying to pick just ten of the best is so, so difficult. It being difficult is really a good thing because it means that the punk scene is continuing to grow and improve and be the best musical genre. This post is going to be my personal top ten EPs and top ten albums. Because I see these lists as a celebration of punk rock throughout the entire year, I'm also going to mention some of my favourite gigs, festivals and performances of the year. There really have been too many incredible live performances this year to even try and do a top ten and pick a sole favourite but I feel like live music is too important not to mention on a roundup of 2018, so I'm throwing them in. Pre-warning: This is likely to be a long post but I hope you do make it to the end, that it gives you a smile, potentially exposes you to some new music or encourages you to revisit some music you may have overlooked.

Top Ten EPs 2018

10. All Talk by Our Lives In Cinema

I'm not sure that there is anyone in the UK scene with as much passion and enthusiasm for the UK punk rock scene than Our Lives In Cinema's lead singer Mark Bartlett. He, along with the rest of his band, can also write some wonderful pop punk tunes. I first became aware of the band last year, after the release of their self-titled EP. All Talk was released in March on Umlaut Records and I was really taken aback by how much the songwriting has come along. These are three wonderfully earwormy tracks that also get you thinking. They also put on one my most memorable live performances of the year, definitely a band you need to keep an eye on in 2019.

9. Peace Of Mind by Triple Sundae

Umlaut Records were on extra top form in the Spring of 2018, also releasing Peace Of Mind by Triple Sundae. If you regularly attend gigs around London then you've probably seen Triple Sundae already and know what a good band they are but Peace Of Mind seemed to open a few doors for them to start gigging more around the UK. This EP shows such a massive improvement for Triple Sundae, I mean their previous material is good but Peace Of Mind really took the band to another level. Here we have three fantastic melodic punk tunes that speak about living with mental health problems. This is one of those great EPs where it's so hard to actually pick a favourite song as they're all so good. I've also been lucky enough to hear a few new tunes lately at a live show and am so excited for the next release – it's going to be something very special.

8. Innocent Until Proven Filthy by Filthy Militia

When I received a message from Filthy Militia frontman at the beginning of the year I was excited. He was asking me to review the debut EP for a ska band - I rarely get sent ska! Of course, I fell in love with it immediately! Combining ska, two-tone and reggae with some lovely punk rock and sounding like a breath of fresh air in the process. Innocent Until Proven Filthy contains four fantastic songs that will get you dancing and singing in equal measure, with the horn lines in particular doing such a good job of driving the songs forward whilst getting your feet moving. I really wish I'd managed to catch them a few more times this year, their opening stint at Level Up Festival was superb.

7. Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up

It's no secret that we're big fans of The Run Up here at CPRW. Not only are they a great band but are also lovely people. They've had a year of ups and downs with some incredible tours with Pkew Pkew Pkew, Quitters and Junior Battles but also some horrendous luck with vans. On a recent three week tour with Junior Battles they managed to go through four of them! Throughout all of the stress that must come with this, they've continued on with a positive mindset knowing that even though they have bad luck they've always got their good friends with them for support. That's what Good Friends, Bad Luck is about – getting through the bad times with your pals. This is an EP brimming with positivity and it really shows a band that are going from strength to strength with every release.

6. Mean Caesar by Mean Caesar

When a new band features former and current members of bands such as Pure Graft, Great Cynics, Myelin, The Murderburgers and Spoilers then you know that that band have some pedigree. Mean Caesar formed in 2017 but didn't start gigging until the spring of 2018, working hard to perfect a sound and style before unleashing it to the masses. We first saw them live in April supporting The Copyrights and from that moment I knew I had a new band that I was very excited by. We saw them a couple more times before the eventual release of their self-titled debut in October. Hearing those songs that I'd enjoyed so much live on record for the first time just increased my love of this band. It's wonderful heartfelt gruff punk that speaks of the trials and tribulations of life in your thirties and continuing to find yourself. South London Summer is a real stand out, I'm constantly singing the chorus to myself when I'm out and about. It's a tune.

5. As Long As You're Here by The Hope Hereafter

There's every chance you've never heard of The Hope Hereafter before. According to the Facebook they've only got 28 "likes" so you assume from that that they're pretty small. I randomly discovered them on the Bandcamp whilst I was just randomly checking out the new punk section. I came across this EP with some interesting looking artwork, clicked play and instantly got so very excited. I quickly messaged Emma, who was out at the time, and told her in what I imagine was quite a hyperactive text how I had found something incredible. That was of course the four track As Long As You're Here by The Hope Hereafter who are from Indiana. I actually struggle a bit to summarise what exactly it is about these four songs that have me so excited. There's a great rawness to it that really adds to its charm and I just get pumped up every time I listen. It's punk, it's folk, it's indie. It's so good.

4. Shut Up by Millie Manders & The Shut UP

2018 has been the most incredible year for UK ska punk with so many bands really stepping up and releasing their best material yet. I was expecting big things from Millie Manders and her band, The Shut Up, but I wasn't expecting to be blown away quite as much as I was by the latest EP, Shut Up. More so than any other Millie Manders release, this really feels like a full band effort and just feels like a more rounded sound. You probably know by now that Millie herself has the very best vocal in punk rock music and it is, of course, sounding perfect here. All four songs differ in their own way but are all packed with such a fantastic energy that you get swept away with the songs every time you listen. If Millie Manders & The Shut Up aren't on your musical radar yet then I highly suggest that you adjust that.

3. The Extra Mile by Dorkatron

I love me some Ramonescore pop punk music. Austria's Dorkatron put out the best release in the genre in 2018 with their The Extra Mile EP, on Monster Zero Records. At a time when most pop punk is over-produced and terrible, I love hearing any band that remains true to the original sound. Dorkatron are a band that don't take themselves too seriously with song topics that deal with being a bit of "dork." What I really loved about this EP is that, despite it being a Ramonescore style release, it's really varied. It's not all blisteringly fast pop punk, there's plenty of melody throughout and it won't be long until you're singing along. When it comes to singing along to The Extra Mile, there are so many moments where you won't be able to resist. This is exactly how pop punk should be.

2. Reasons To Breathe by Uniforms

This is a spoiler for something later on in this post but Uniforms played my absolute favourite set of 2018 when they closed Manchester Punk Festival. During their gloriously raucous set they mentioned how they'd be releasing a brand new EP via Make-That-A-Take and TNSrecords later in the year and oh boy gosh golly was I excited for this. When it was released in August it did not disappoint. It was never going to. Titled Reasons To Breathe, Uniforms have written three of their best ever songs for this release. This is gruff punk done perfectly – the rawness of the vocals, the big choruses, the fist-in-the-air moments and the positive outlook of the songs. There is this incredibly infectious energy about every one of these songs that really grabs you and pulls you along for the ride. It's impossible to ignore, not that anyone ever should. What makes this EP extra special is that it's an EP I perhaps thought we would never get, as Uniforms had previously split up – what a comeback this was.

1. Misery Punk Ruined My Life by Goodbye Blue Monday

It's a first and second placed finish for Make-That-A-Take Records on my to ten EPs list. If I've spoken to you previously about my favourite releases of 2018, I'm sure you could have easily guessed what would be my favourite of the year. Misery Punk Ruined My Life by Goodbye Blue Monday is so unbelievably good. Like seriously, wow. I'm listening now for what is probably the 500th time and I still get so pumped up by these three songs. This is powerful sing-along pop punk music that is so cathartic and puts you in such a smashing mood. This is all the more remarkable given that the subject matter is pretty bleak – talking about topics such as not being able to be happy, feeling terrible in the morning and how marriage is an archaic institution. I've been known to sing along very keenly to the song Love Is A Noose For Two and the chorus "Get a job, Get married, Get a House, Reminisce. Have kids, Get buried, There must be more to life than this." Goodbye Blue Monday have had an amazing year in 2018 and this looks set to continue in 2019 with appearances at Groezrock and Punk Rock Holiday already announced.

As incredible as all of the music that's been released in 2018 has been, the real highlights are always the gigs. There have been so many incredible moments at punk gigs this year I really must mention some of my favourites.

Manchester Punk Festival will forever be the highlight of any year. This year the entire UK punk community, and plenty of people from overseas, seemed to descend on Manchester for the three day festival that got nicknamed Manchester Pals Fest. We're already really excited to make the journey back to Manchester for next year's festival. A special mention also has to go Level Up Festival at the New Cross Inn. This three day ska festival was an absolute triumph again.

If you've been a regular reader of Colin's Punk Rock World over the past couple of years, you'll know about the love we have for Be Sharp Promotions and New Cross Inn. This year has been absolutely incredible in South London with so many fantastic gigs. For me the gig of the year was Pkew Pkew Pkew making their first London appearance along with The Run Up, Our Lives In Cinema and The Burnt Tapes. This was a night of massive sing-alongs and even bigger smiles. There have also been some pretty legendary sets from bands such as Rehasher, The Penske File, Eat Defeat, Call Me Malcolm, Random Hand, Lightyear, Uniforms, Red City Radio, Fandangle, [Spunge] and, of course, Goldfinger – I still can't believe that happened. If there was an award for promoter of the year ,Be Sharp would comfortably win it in my eyes. CPRW 4 Be Sharp forever.

There's been some very special sets this year away from the New Cross Inn, as well. Like I mentioned earlier, Uniforms’ set at MPF was the best. It was just the perfect way to end a wonderful weekend. That whole after party was a big highlight of MPF with Beat The Red Light, Chewing On Tinfoil and Minor Discomfort Band really ensuring the weekend finished in some style. Back in January we made a trip to The Exchange in Bristol to see Quitters and The Run Up play a fantastic set each that put big smiles on our faces. The New Town Kings played a superb set at Esquires in Bedford with the always fantastic Easydread. Spanish Love Songs have been over to the UK for the first time and have been playing special set after special set everywhere they've turned up. I made it to the London show and was completely blown away. The whole room of people were so passionately singing along to these wonderful songs and it was a special moment to be part of it.

2018 has been great for gigs, I can't wait to see what happens in 2019.

Before I get on to my top ten albums of 2018, I want to give a little shout out to my favourite new band of 2018. Fintan Stack are a band that have really got a lot of love from me. From when guitarist Chris sent me their two singles at the beginning of the year and seeing all three of their shows, I've just been in love with their harmony filled pop punk and I can't wait to see how this incredible five piece progress in 2019.

Aaannnnddd before we get on with my top ten albums I want to give honourable mentions to the following bands – Abraskadabra, Authority Zero, Dead End Drive-In, Fastfade, The Filaments, The Hempsteadys, The Interrupters, Kid You Not, Krang, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Nerdlinger, New Junk City, Odd Robot, The Pissups, Rock 'N' Roll Television and Throw – who all released music that made comprising a top ten incredibly hard.

Right... LET'S DO IT!

Top Ten Albums 2018

10. Always The Bridesmaid by Flangipanis

Since The Smith Street Band and The Bennies have started coming over to the UK, I've found myself keeping a eye on the Australian punk scene and discovering so many amazing bands from down under. Flangipanis are a four piece pop/skate punk band from Brisbane whose 2018 Always The Bridesmaid was a breath of fresh air for me. A lot of modern day skate punk bands seem to go down the more shredding guitars road and use many social and political themes is their music. Flangipanis however keep it fun and bouncy with songs about partying and drinking. It's kind of old school but it also feels new and fresh. Punk rock doesn't always need a message, it also can be a lot of fun and that's why Always The Bridesmaid earned its place on this list.

9. Death From Below by The Palatines

As mentioned in the Dorkatron entry in my top ten EPs, I love Ramonescore pop punk. I also have a big love for the fast buzzsaw style like Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights. In 2018 I stumbled upon The Palatines who, in my opinion, released the best album in the genre this year. Death From Below came out back in February and found a near permanent place in my listening habits for the rest of the year. Something I can be a little critical of when it comes to buzzsaw pop punk is that it can be a little samey, I never found that with Death From Below. Something I really enjoyed about this album was that on a few songs the vocals really have me imagining of Trevor Keith from Face To Face fronting The Copyrights – that can't be a bad thing. There's also a fun cameo appearance from Alex Wonk of legendary UK punk rockers Wonk Unit on the album. If he likes it, it must be half decent at least. It's not just half decent, it's fantastic.

8. Let Me Turn You Up by The Sensations

I'm a huge believer in punk rock changing the world not just with its message but by putting massive smiles on people's faces. That's exactly what Let Me Turn You Up by Japan's The Sensations does to me. Described to me as a cross between Potshot and Bomb The Music Industry and combining punk, ska and 60s rock 'n' roll, Let Me Turn You Up is ten tracks of unstoppable energy that will get you dancing, singing and laughing like a complete idiot. You will look silly dancing to this but it doesn't matter because it will make you the happiest person around. In a world where there seems to be misery and despair around every corner we need albums like this to help us get through the day sometimes. Word on the street is that they are incredible live as well so I really hope they find their way to the UK next year.

7. Salvation by The Penske File

We've been big fans of Canadian three piece The Penske File for a while now and when I was fortunate enough to get an early listen to their new album, Salvation, I knew this was going to lead to some big things for the band. I like to think I was spot on with my prediction, with some big tours around the USA and Canada, another trip to Europe and a first ever tour in the UK as well as getting chosen to be the very last band to play at this year's Fest in Gainesville and playing to a packed out room in the process. Taking their sing-along pop punk sound from previous effort Burn Into The Earth but adding some maturity to their sound, it feels like with Salvation the band have grown as people and as musicians and it really comes across on the album. In my review I said that Salvation could be a breakthrough album like The ’59 Sound was for The Gaslight Anthem or On The Impossible Past was for The Menzingers, I stand by that statement.

6. This Will Haunt Me by Dollar Signs

On This Will Haunt Me, Dollar Signs do that thing of writing a really sad album lyrically but also sounding completely joyous in its delivery. This is obviously fantastic because it allows the listener to realise that it's okay to be sad and that they’re not alone. It's an emotional album but it's a fun one. I feel like people can take so many different things away from This Will Haunt Me, whether it's the relatable and often helpful messages or the many, many opportunities to shout along with Dollar Signs. There is a sense of chaos in the music that gives it a huge amount of energy and leaves you thinking what on earth is going to happen next. It's very easy to compare the Dollar Signs sound to Jeff Rosenstock but, in my honest opinion, I believe that this album is better than anything Jeff has released in a long time, which is some high praise. Like The Sensations, I really hope Dollar Signs can find their way to the UK soon as I can only imagine that it will be a very fun time to see them live.

5. Paid In Change by Dinner Club

Things that aren't a secret on CPRW – I love Canadian punk rock. I'm forever finding new favourite bands from Canada and 2018 has been no different. My favourite was Dinner Club who are a four piece from Winnipeg and released their debut album Paid In Change in September. I actually find it hard to put my finger on why I loved this album so much. I think it's because it is so varied. Whilst compiling this top ten I put all of the bands in the running in a playlist, hit shuffle and listened for what stood out amongst all the awesome music of 2018. Whenever a Dinner Club song would come on my reaction was always "oooh, what's this?" and discover it was Dinner Club. No two songs on Paid In Change sound the same which was really refreshing. Despite their newness it's clear that the band aren't afraid to experiment, often adding a trumpet to their punk sound and combining the wonderful vocals of Josh and Kiah Verinder really adds something special to their music.

4. Lanterns by Moonraker

You know when you listen to an album for the very first time and you're only a few songs in and you think this is incredible? That was my thoughts when first listening to Lanterns by Moonraker. Well, as I continued to listen it just seemed to get better and better. This album had me seriously excited about punk rock for days after hearing it. I recommended it to anyone and everyone before I'd even published my review – something I rarely do. The Californian three piece have this infectious energy that really does things to me. It's just captivating. It cements my belief that punk is the very best genre of music, I can't believe that any other musical genre can give you the same feelings that punk rock does. What gives Moonraker this great infectious energy you ask? For me it's the brilliant dual vocals, whether they're trading lines, singing together or providing harmonies it's amazing. Moonraker kind of remind me of The Lawrence Arms except I've never quite got the insane amount of love they get, but I do have an insane amount of love for Moonraker and, in particular, Lanterns. Lyrically Lanterns is also superb, wonderfully insightful and relatable and it is delivered in such unique and catchy ways. There's not a single thing I dislike about this album. It's the best American punk record of the year.

3. Reach Out by New Town Kings

I have to admit I was extremely surprised by how much I loved Reach Out by Colchester ska heroes the New Town Kings. I expected it to be good, with the level of musicianship in this eight piece it's almost impossible for it not to be, but wow oh wow was I taken aback by Reach Out's epicness. The first time we heard these songs was actually at the Reach Out album launch show at Colchester Arts Centre in the summer. This got me so excited to hear the actual album and I honestly don't think I've had more fun reviewing an album this year. All the songs on Reach Out are earworms, even instrumental track The Hawk which has replaced New Town Hop as the band's opening song when you see them live. I've often thought that you know a guitar or horn line is great if you can sing along to it like you would lyrics. Reach Out covers a broad range of topics such as politics, friendship, relationships, music and escapism. Without a doubt the least "punk" album on this list but it gives me so much joy. I like things that give me joy. Things that give me joy are great.

2. I Think We'll Be OK by Eat Defeat

I've been following Eat Defeat's career for years now, since hearing their debut album Challenges in 2012. Since then they've released a handful of very well received EPs and singles before releasing for their long awaited second full length, I Think We'll Be OK, in August. Eat Defeat are one of those bands who I've had the pleasure of seeing grow in the timeframe that CPRW has existed and I have to say I'm so proud of what Summers, Jimmy, Stephen and Richard have achieved. On I Think We'll Be OK, Eat Defeat have done something that not many bands try – they've been optimistic. As the album title obviously suggests, this is an album about finding the good in bad situations and believing that despite things seeming terrible currently they will get better. This message is put across through ten upbeat melodic pop punk songs that are so unbelievably catchy that you can't help but sing-along and it will genuinely make you feel better. I Think We'll Be OK is second on my albums of the year list but my goodness it was very close to being number one. If it had been released any other year it probably would have been my number one but a certain ska punk band from London went and released a genre defining album in 2018.

1. I Was Broken When You Got Here by Call Me Malcolm

How could an album that redefined a genre and forced all of their friends and peers to really step it up not be my album of the year? I Was Broken When You Got Here by Call Me Malcolm is an absolute triumph. I was lucky enough to be sent it about a month before it was released in April and before I'd even found the time to listen to it, Sarah from Shout Louder, Makky from Broken Arrow, Steve from Easydread and Paul from Be Sharp Promotions told me just how good it was. So when I found time to give it a listen I was expecting big things but my word was I in for a shock. This is the best ska punk album released in about fifteen years, not just in the UK but anywhere in the world. I can't remember the last time a ska punk album had this much positive press behind it and it's pushed the band and the entire UK ska scene to a new level. It seems that people are excited about ska again and that can only be a good thing. So what's so good about this album? Everything, obviously. Call Me Malcolm playing upbeat ska punk songs complete with a first class horn section and a brilliant three part harmony. Originally taking influence from 90s third wave ska and adding a slightly crunchier edge, Call Me Malcolm play a style that will get a crowd skanking, moshing and singing along like it's the most important thing in their lives. And, to be honest, when you see them live it is the only thing in the world that actually matters – it's pure escapism, it makes you feel amazing, it's why I love punk music. What really makes I Was Broken When You Got Here is its subject matter. The band have had some tough times in their personal lives in recent years and this album addresses that with songs about dealing with mental health and helping you realise that it's perfectly fine to talk to people when you need to and that you're not alone in the world. I don't think a track sums up the importance of having people you love in your life better than All My Nameless Friends. It's a song that on the surface is a love letter to the Be Sharp/New Cross Inn scene that is such an important part of so many people's lives, myself included, but it's also about having friends who will always pick you up when you're down. I Was Broken When You Got Here is a self-help album and is so important in 2018 as the stigma attached to mental health continues to be fought against. If you still don't believe me when I try to articulate just what a amazing album this is, then please just go and check it out for yourself. It's not often that I'd say this about an album but I think it's as close to perfect as an album can be. Congratulations and thank you, Call Me Malcolm.

You may have noticed a theme with the majority of my picks. Trying to look after yourself, being positive and having fun is an extremely important part of life, particularly in the complete mess that is the world in 2018. Hopefully you enjoy these albums and they put as big a smile on your face as they have mine.

What an incredible year 2018 has been! Thanks for reading. Well done if you got all the way to the end.

This end of year essay was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Emma’s Top Ten EPs and Top Ten Albums of 2018

2017 was a great year for music and 2018 has proved to be just as good, if not even better. This is great for your ears but not so good when it comes to putting together your end of year lists. I’m being slightly more ambitious/productive this year and writing about my Top Ten EPs as well as Top Ten Albums – last year I did Top Five EPs – so, please, read on…

Top Ten EPs of 2018

10. This Place Matters by The Capital

The Capital were one of my favourite live discoveries of 2018 when they played the New Cross Inn supporting Red City Radio back in July. They completely blew me – and most of the audience – away with their huge sound. Perhaps more rock ’n’ roll than punk rock, I’d liken them to Crazy Arm meets Pearl Jam. This Place Matters is five down-to-earth, relatable and singalong-able rock tunes played by a highly talented bunch of musicians – and did I mention singer Seamus Mcloughlin’s voice? So good!
Favourite song: This Place Matters

9. Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up

It’s no secret that we love The Run Up here at CPRW. We didn’t expect a new EP from the band so soon after their debut album (which was released last year) but were more than happy to lap it up. The Run Up play great singalong punk rock tunes about having the best of times with your friends, carrying on despite whatever struggles you may have and just generally finding the positive in any situation. Also, the band are such lovely chaps who always look like they’re so happy to just be able to play music together.
Favourite song: The Upside Of Being Down

8. Learning How To Lie by Katie MF

Like The Capital, Katie MF is another artist who wowed me when seeing her (and her band) live for the first time this year. Firstly, her voice is ridiculously good. Secondly, her anti-folk tunes with just the right amount of attitude and plenty of passion are right up my street. Learn How To Lie is the right balance of upbeat tunes and slower more heartfelt songs with themes ranging from politics to break ups. A very promising debut EP.
Favourite song: Feelgood Films

7. Reasons To Breathe by Uniforms

This recently reformed Scottish foursome released three excellent new tracks this year in the form of Reasons To Breathe. Before releasing said EP, they made a triumphant return at MPF – closing the whole festival with a raucous performance. I wasn’t too familiar with the Uniforms back catalogue before seeing them live but since Reasons To Breathe was released in August I’ve become a big fan. This is excellent slightly gruff, super melodic punk rock.
Favourite song: Get Me Out Of Here

6. Desire And The Need To Live by Crushed Veneer

I came across a London-based band called Crushed Veneer whilst browsing new punk stuff on Bandcamp. Their debut four track EP, Desire And The Need To Live, soon got added to my review list. Incidentally, I also saw them live shortly after discovering them supporting the aforementioned Uniforms – it was a great show all around. This EP is that perfect blend of punk rock with a country-tinged folk style that I love so much. There’s also hints of The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers in their sound which again is a big hit with me – with them being my two favourite bands and all.
Favourite song: Sew Me Up

5. 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything by Jake Martin

Jake Martin is a DIY singer songwriter who plays lively acoustic punk tunes and in 2018 he released a four track EP called 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything. I was originally drawn to the Dan Allen artwork but was really hooked in by the lyrics of Jake’s songs. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and, at times, violin or banjo, these songs have some important messages in their lyrical content – not wanting to lose another independent music venue to corporate giants, trying to live your life to the fullest and the difficulties of having a ‘normal life’ as a touring musician.
Favourite song: May Your Venue Never Die

4. 1,000 Daisies – Stöj Snak

If you read our end of year lists last year (and you have a good memory), you may recall that one of my absolute highlights in terms of live music was Danish band Stöj Snak’s performance at MPF. I was a fan of their album, ScreamerSongwriter, which was released in 2016 but after seeing the band live for the first time I was so keen for their next release. 1,000 Daisies was released in September to raise money to help save the 1000Fryd venue in Denmark. The three tracks are each quite different in sound with subject matters ranging from supporting independent live music (similar to Jake Martin in fact) to political frustration – all top stuff. Stöj Snak returning to MPF next year and I am super excited to see them again.
Favourite song: 1,000 Daisies

3. TRVTH by O’Holy Ghost

O’Holy Ghost were a band I had been following for a little while before the release of their debut EP, TRVTH, in July. It was a debut that I was very much looking forward to and so when CPRW got sent an early copy, I quickly snapped it up for myself. I was not disappointed by these six songs, in fact I was maybe even a little bit surprised just how much I loved it. O’Holy Ghost play emotional and passionate punk rock that has you wanting to sing along instantly. Unfortunately I haven’t seen them live since this EP was released but I can’t wait to sing the lines ‘Well don’t say that it’s over, When the pen has run dry and you scream, Just one more verse.’ from I Am Jinx back at the band when I do catch them again.
Favourite song: Across The Pond

2. The White Album EP by The All Brights

There’s quite a contrast between my number two and number one EPs this year. The White Album EP by The All Brights is not a particularly serious piece of punk rock but it is a collection of insanely catchy and ridiculously fun pop punk tunes. With songs about hanging out with your pals at the beach, love in the age of social media and instant messaging, a paddleboarder being bullied by some surfers and a boat-buying themed break-up, The All Brights are a band that definitely don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re also amazing musicians and the lyrics, although mostly silly, are actually quite cleverly written. There’s also one ska/reggae song amongst the pop punk which shouldn’t work but oh my gosh it does.
Favourite song: Stand Up Pat L. Board

1. Misery-Punk Ruined My Life by Goodbye Blue Monday

And so we go from cheery fun times to the miserableness that is Goodbye Blue Monday. But misery is what they do best and the three song EP, Misery-Punk Ruined My Life, is so fucking good – note the swear word for extra emphasis. I guess the only bad thing about this EP is that it only consists of three songs but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to those three songs on repeat. A lot. There’s no shying away from the fact that Goodbye Blue Monday’s lyrics are pretty dark, twisted and brutally honest but it’s all wrapped up with infectious melodies and beats that will have you smiling despite the apparent unhappiness. I had no doubts about making this my number one. The lines ‘I tried to write a miserable song, But the chords hit a stroke and it came out wrong, Lock it up lock it up with a major key, So nobody can understand the misery.’ pretty much sums up Goodbye Blue Monday. I can’t wait for their debut full-length release… whenever that may be!
Favourite song: Misery-Punk Ruined My Life

Top Ten Albums of 2018

10. For The Sake Of The Bit by Elway

When it comes to singalong-able gruff punk rock, there are not many bands better than Colorado four piece Elway. After seemingly disappearing for a while, they were back in April this year with eight brand new songs. For The Sake Of The Bit features a selection of melodic, mid-tempo and faster punk rock tunes that will have you wanting to sing along with the band from your first listen. The songs are honest, bitterly nostalgic and heart-felt with Tim’s excellent storytelling lyrics setting quite the scene in your head. There’s also some shredding guitar moments that would give Red City Radio a run for their money.
Favourite song: Inches

9. Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour

Derrick Johnston – the person who features in both my top EPs (Uniforms) and top albums list this year. Aphorisms is Tragical History Tour’s debut album and it was, well, quite a long time coming. Thankfully it was well worth the wait – even better than I expected, in fact. This is an album of brutally honest and personal, raw country/folk punk songs. Covering some pretty tricky subjects in his lyrics, there is a darkness to the whole album but there is also a light that shines through and proves that there is also a great positivity to Tragical History Tour. ‘If I make it through the day, I swear to you I will change my ways, All I need is to hear you say, “You’re not alone”, Give me strength now to be strong, And together we can conquer anything.’
Favourite song: Three Two

8. How To Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope

I hadn’t really listened to Camp Cope properly until they released The Opener last year. I was absolutely hooked on the track so when it, appropriately, turned out to be the first song on their second album How To Socialise & Make Friends, which was released in March this year, I was keen to hear what followed. I liked the album after a few listens but it was seeing the trio live in September that really had me sold on these songs. As I said in my live review, Camp Cope’s songs are more thought-provoking and powerful than particularly upbeat or lively – it’s the lyricism that really makes this album a great one.
Favourite song: The Opener

7. Reach Out by New Town Kings

I didn’t really expect an album that’s more ska/reggae than punk rock to make its way into my top ten albums of 2018 but Reach Out by Colchester’s New Town Kings is just that good. Colin reviewed the album back in the spring and it had me dancing around the living room singing ‘Mango, papaya and tangerine…’ and other such fun lyrics. It was a great album to listen to over the summer and I had it on repeat a lot when I just wanted something catchy, fun and happy to listen to. That said, not all the songs are cheery. There are plenty of tracks with more serious subject matter that make you think but what holds it all together is this band’s incredible musicianship.
Favourite song: Why You Always Take

6. Roundabouts by Spoilers

Having only listened to this album in early November, Roundabouts by Spoilers is probably the latest entry into my end of year lists but I guess that just means that I was very quickly hooked on it. I didn’t actually realise until I decided to review the album myself that this was Spoilers’ first full-length release – I figured they’d been going for years! There’s something for all types of punk fan here, from pounding drums, fast guitar riffage and punchy, aggressive vocal sections to upbeat poppy melodies and infectiously catchy choruses. Spoilers really have a knack for writing immensely catchy, feel-good tunes, even if they aren’t always entirely feel-good subjects and I love it.
Favourite song: The Same Again

5. Salvation by The Penske File

Before Salvation was released at the beginning of this year, my main experience of The Penske File was Colin singing the ever so catchy line ‘I wrote a book.’ (from their song Damned on their previous album Burn Into The Earth) over and over and over again. I got pretty sick of it to be honest – Colin’s singing, not The Penske File – but was very excited to hear Salvation, particularly after they were likened to both The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers on this very blog. The music that I like the best is that which I can sing along to and ultimately lose my voice to. Throw some catchy hooks, multiple vocalists and a bit of harmonica into the mix and I’m well and truly sold. That’s what I love about Salvation and The Penske File.
Favourite song: Golden Futures

4. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs

This is where things get tough because the next four albums are all, in my eyes, deserving of being my number one album of the year. It feels like a crime to put Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs at number four in my list when this is the band I have literally obsessed over in 2018 – I guess it just goes to show how good the next three are. From start to finish, Schmaltz is a masterpiece of heart-on-your-sleeve, honest punk rock. For the most part, these are sad songs but the feeling of catharsis that I get from singing along to them at the top of my lungs makes me happy. I was a big fan of SLS’s first album, Giant Sings The Blues, but hearing songs from Schmaltz played live for the first time this year (on two separate occasions) has convinced me how much of a step up these songs are for the band. I feel I could go on and on but I still have three more albums to rant about…
Favourite song: The Boy Considers His Haircut

3. I Was Broken When I Got Here by Call Me Malcolm

And then there’s Call me Malcolm – the band who have a song that is basically a tribute to the New Cross Inn ska punk scene, of which myself and Colin play a small part in. But it’s not just All My Nameless Friends that kicks butt on this album, the whole thing is a triumph in ska punk and it simply becomes more addictive the more you listen to it. Talking about mental health has become more common in punk in general but I think not so much in the world of ska punk. For Call Me Malcolm to really open up about this somewhat taboo topic is incredibly important. They team this honesty up with insanely catchy horn lines and hooks that have me dancing like no other band – Colin insists I have a Malcolm specific dance move that I only crack out when seeing this band live. Call Me Malcolm deserve all of the hype and praise for I Was Broken When I Got Here. It is my SKA punk album of the year, even if not technically my overall number one – I know it will be for plenty of others.
Favourite song: All My Nameless Friends

2. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat

When Eat Defeat played with Rehasher at the New Cross Inn last month I was definitely more excited to see the Leeds foursome play than Roger from Less Than Jake. If Call Me Malcolm released the ska punk album of 2018 then Eat Defeat released the pop punk album of 2018 in the form of I Think We’ll Be OK. I’m not really a big user of the term ‘banger’ but ever there was an album full of bangers this is it. It’s not only full of snappy, melodic, fast pop punk tunes but it also spreads a great message of optimism and positivity. It’s not just the song Smile that has me smiling but the entire 31 minutes of the album – I wish it was longer in fact but that’s pop punk for you. I feel like, of all the albums on this list, this is maybe the one that I know the most words to and sing along to the most – although it does help that everything is so darn catchy. I liked Eat Defeat before I Think We’ll Be Okay but it feels like they really stepped things up a notch with this release. Eat Defeat are the best.
Favourite song: Not Today, Old Friend

1. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays

Way back in January of this year, I stumbled across an Australian folk punk band’s debut album on Bandcamp called This Is For You. To say I was blown away by it wouldn’t even begin to do it justice. Put it this way – I knew that, despite it being only the first month of the year, this album would almost definitely be my album of the year come December. And wow, the competition has been tough. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays is an album of emotional and genuine songs that are equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking. The lyrics are a real highlight – I want nothing more than to be able to belt them back at the band when they’re playing live. These lines in particular: ‘We’ll sing these songs for the broken hearted, To help them find their way, We’ll raise a glass for the dearly departed, We’ll carry on the fight screaming their names.’ Unfortunately I won’t ever get to do that. Not just because the band is from Australia but, the sad thing is, The Suicide Tuesdays broke up back in the summer. If just one person goes and checks out This Is For You after reading this then I’ll be happy. It’s so damn good and it deserve more attention.
Favourite song: Leave Us Be

Honorable mentions:
City Of Strangers by Five Minute Major, Traverse by Traverse, Fight The Good Fight by The Interrupters and Awareness Songs & Side Stories by We Bless This Mess. Plus Authority Zero in general because not only did they release a brand new album, Persona Non Grata, just a few weeks ago (that I still need to listen to some more but I think it’s pretty darn great from what I have heard) but also because I stupidly missed them off my 2017 albums of the year list yet Broadcasting To The Nations is one of my most-played albums this year – I was late to the party.


These top tens were written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

News: Boxing Day To Release New EP On Boxing Day.

Belgium based emo/pop punk band Boxing Day are getting set to release their second EP on you guessed it, the 26th of December - Boxing Day. Titled Retrospect, the two track EP is being released by the always awesome Real Ghost Records.

Since forming in 2016 Boxing Day have shared the stage with bands such as No Trigger, Not On Tour, F.O.D. and Nowhere, impressing crowds with their beautifully depressing and yet catchy songs. You can pre-order Retrospect from Real Ghost Records here.

Top Tens: Fastfade's Top Ten Moments So Far

10. Call Me Malcolm, Fastfade & Shark Party @ Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe
We got offered a chance to play up in High Wycombe with Call Me Malcolm and Shark Party. There was a small turnout as is sometimes the case with these local punk shows but it ended up being one of our more enjoyable gigs. We got a chance to hang out with Call Me Malcolm and see them play a bunch of their new songs, we smashed a few locals at pool and got heckled by an old geezer named Darren at the bar who was just trying to enjoy his pint.

9. Müg, The Burnt Tapes, Ships Down, Triple Sundae, Cereal Box Heroes, Fastfade @ New River Studios, London
This absolute beast of a line-up was organised by Hassan Afaneh in the early days of Fastfade and it plunged us right into the scene where we pretty much hung out with all the local Umlaut Records/Be Sharp people for the first time. This show was a turning point for us because it revealed something to us that we had thought unlikely; that there was a fresh, energetic and punk rock scene alive and well in London and it had some really awesome bands in it. We also spent some time eating pizza, skating outside the venue with a bunch of people – Ryan even took it upon himself to ollie over our good pals in No Insight. RIP SHIPS DOWN.

8. Rehasher, Eat Defeat & Fastfade weekender
Recently we spent a weekend playing shows with Roger Lima’s Rehasher and one of the best bands in the UK scene right now – Eat Defeat. After the very intimate Brighton show at Sticky Mike’s, we smashed a few beers and scoffed a bunch of pizzas back at Ryan’s place before heading to New Cross Inn where Joe unleashed his inner fanboy and stage-invaded Eat Defeat’s set, signing their song “Nothing’s Wrong”. That weekend was one we’ll never forget; playing with our childhood hero Roger Lima and getting the chance to hang with the lads in Eat Defeat.

7. Filming the Walkie Talkie music video
We wanted to release a video with our first single, ‘Walkie Talkie”, from our upcoming album, ‘Happy If You Aren’t’. We decided to chuck some equipment in Ryan’s spare room and do a standard performance-type video to go along with the song but it quickly devolved into a contest of who could do the stupidest thing on camera for some alternate B-roll footage. We chucked a toaster in the drum kit, kickflipped off an amp and, finally, covered Jake in flour and bread while he was in the shower. See more here.

6. Local Heroes
Some of the best times we’ve had come from the discovery of local bands that give us some really good vibes about the future of the scene. Our time as a band has seriously affected our music tastes for good. It’s quite possible that Joe will be banging out Eat Defeat and Call Me Malcolm until he’s in his late 60s, Ryan will still have Triple Sundae’s ‘Peace of Mind’ EP and Cereal Box Heroes’ ‘Frier’ on repeat even when CDs become obsolete and Jake would rather die than wash his Aerial Salad sweatshirt. The best part about playing around the country with different punk bands is that we have discovered artists that will stick with us for a very long time. Some other honourable mentions Cereal Box Heroes, Saving Sebastian, Müg, SKIV, The SLM, Captain Trips, Sub-Grunk, Negative Measures, The Burnt Tapes and EAT DIRT.

5. International Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to play with a bunch of international bands that simply know how to party different. Back in April we somehow managed to get on a bill with Waterweed (JPN), Rebuke (SWE), Antillectual (NL) and Forever Unclean (DE). (Thanks to Paul Smith.) It was definitely a great feeling to be chosen as the only UK band on that line-up full of international skate punk heavyweights. We’ve had a bunch of shows like this, with the opportunity to play with bands from all over the world such as Counterpunch, Straightline, The Overjoyed, Circus Rhapsody, Fluffy Machine, Trophy Jump, FOD, For I Am and Main Line 10.

4. Joe’s ankle
Just before a relatively long string of gigs, Joe decided to let Jack from Brighton hardcore powerhouses Negative Measures absolutely obliterate his ankle in the pit. After the substances wore off, Joe realised it was serious and went to a doctor. He had to play the next few gigs in a cast with crutches but, while it was a blow to our on-stage energy, it gave us something to talk about and he still smashed out every song – and, despite medical advice, he managed to get on his feet and even jump around a bit for the last few shows with the cast. A true hero.

3. Three gigs in 48 Hours
This is why we need an agent. We somehow managed to book three shows over the course of 48 hours with a show in High Wycombe, then an acoustic set at Sussex Uni and then another show in Hastings the same day. Needless to say the three of us discovered the limits of our endurance that weekend. Functioning on about 2 hours sleep after being reprimanded by beach police for urinating in the Brighton sea at 4am, we somehow managed to play the two shows the next day. We very nearly left Joe in a Hastings car park because he was literally unresponsive and legally deceased. He literally looked like this:

Joe somehow got a second (maybe fourth) wind after being soaked in water and slapped a couple of times and we smashed a quick set before watching Spoilers (who were sick!).

2. Hearing our album
Since we started tracking our album ‘Happy if You Aren’t’ in January this year, receiving the final masters was a long awaited moment for us. Mark Bell did an excellent job getting a sound that we were all proud of and that we felt did our songs justice. Hearing some of the songs we demoed back in Ryan’s garage 2015 turn into songs that sounded tight, rich and heavy was an amazing experience. We are all super proud of how these songs came out and can’t wait for people to hear them on December 14th. None of us had ever recorded an album before so it was a fresh and educational experience for all of us from start to finish.

1. Strawfest 2018 w/ Lyon Estates, No Insight
This summer our good friends Lyon Estates from York threw their annual Strawfest and asked us to play. This completely unique festival takes place on Rich Harrison’s farm in rural Yorkshire. The barn that the stage was set up in was the biggest space we have ever played. The event was so well organised with a pool, barbeques, food and drinks – it was just great vibes all round. Playing a venue with a pool outside isn’t something that happens very often for us so this was definitely a unique experience, one that Ryan didn’t take for granted as he ran off stage mid set for a quick swim only to return and get water all over the stage. This is why we bring wet floor signs to gigs. Just in case. We also got to have a go in John Wace’s (Lyon Estates) DeLorean.

Pre-order Happy If You Aren't here: www.umlautrecords.co.uk

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