Monday, 24 April 2017

Album Review: We're Sorry We Missed You by THREES

Time for another fantastic Canadian punk band. This time it's THREES, a three piece band from Toronto. At the end of 2016 they released their only release to date, an album named We're Sorry We Missed You. In all honesty I can't find much else about THREES on the Internet other than that they seem to have played their last show and weren't especially active anyway. We're Sorry We Missed You is a fantastic album though so I decided it definitely needs some more coverage.

We're Sorry We Missed You begins with the song Rot Away. This song serves as much as an intro to the album as much as it does a standalone song. With some background noise of a children's playground, it features just vocals and some light percussion as a song about wanting to rot away is sung. A cheery way to get the album started. The album starts properly next with the song, Old Vans. Here we get the proper THREES sound. You've heard this sound before, it's that gruff, melodic punk rock that's oh so popular these days and THREES do it as well as anyone. Old Vans is a song about looking back at old photos of previous adventures and reminiscing about the good times. Dufferin Street Blues is one of the standout tracks on the album. It's a great big sing-a-long from the outset with the lines "Say Goodbye To The Only Constant In My Life" delivered in a way where it's impossible not to want to sing with THREES. The song, which is about struggling to deal with change, is only a short one but seems to pack a lot into it. With great lyrics and some big hooks, this is a perfect song to get a crowd good and rowdy. Up next is the song Out There which is a song about people who spend more time socialising on their mobile phones than actually speaking to people in real life. The song isn't quite as in-your-face, shout-a-long fun as the previous track but there's more of a serious, take a look at your life tone to it. I'm enjoying both styles of songs by THREES.

The fifth song, Last One Out, is another that goes with the more mid-tempo melodic sound. This track is one that deals with the subject of depression, in particular the struggles of getting up in the morning and not liking the person that you are. The opening lines are something many sufferers of depression could easily relate to - "This Time Of Morning, I Don't Know What I Hate More, My Alarm Clock Or Myself." The nest song, Scary Movies, took me a bit off guard on my first listen of it as We're Sorry We Missed You is a short acoustic track. Sometimes I find that this disrupts the flow of an album when an acoustic pops up at the midway point but here it works well and showcases a different side to THREES. Scary Movies is a song about hating somebody that won't leave you alone. Honest Son is a slower paced track that has plenty of hooks and sing-a-long moments. It's about coming to a crossroads in your life and realising that you might have to give up on your dreams and find yourself a job instead of constantly having to borrow money from your parents. I really liked the honesty in the lyrics and I feel like there is a whole lot of truth in the song. Wednesday, 25 Cents brings the album to its halfway point. THREES pick the pace up slightly on this shorter song that has plenty of punk rock attitude. It's about not getting stressed out about the troubles that occur in your life. The track finishes with the repetition of the line "I Don't Give A Shit About It" which I think could become a huge crowd sing-a-long moment.

Mother's Lament kicks off the second half of We're Sorry We Missed You in fine fashion. When I first heard it I was instantly reminded of Colorado's Elway, one of my favourite bands in the gruff pop punk genre. The song starts with some thoughtful and heartfelt lyrics that will hook you into the song immediately and have you singing along with every word. It's not a hard hitting song by any means but one that you'll love instantly. The tenth track is named L5-S1. This song is about holding in so much emotion that you can't relax. There is a raw, fuzzy sound on the recording of the song which adds a warmth to the track. I liked that the music is on a loop throughout the majority of the song with the vocals carrying the melody of the song. As it goes on, the guitars go their own way and set up a fantastic finale. Dirty Dishes is another short acoustic song. This is a bit of a love song that talks about wanting to finish a relationship because of the frustrations of little things that don't actually matter but realising how much you love the person. Remains is an interesting song that mostly features only the electric guitar before the full band comes into the song towards its finale. There is a feeling of loneliness when the guitar is on its own only accompanied by vocals. The song is about finding the strength and confidence to tell someone how you feel before it's too late.

Nowhere probably has my favourite intro of the whole album. The fast paced guitar at the beginning really adds a truck load of energy to the song immediately and I instantly want to see where the song is going to take me. The song is loud and fast and is one of the best tracks in this genre of punk rock I've heard in a long time. It's a brilliantly shoutable song about wanting to go somewhere in your life and not being content with where you currently are. It's a positive upbeat song that is inspiring. Wayside starts with some crashing guitars and some thumping drums before we slide into a more restrained (compared to Nowhere) sound. I'm reminded of the UK's own Bear Trade here with this mature and thoughtful style of punk. There are some fantastic harmonies on this song, perhaps the best on the album. I do love a good harmony. The penultimate song on We're Sorry We Missed You is named Mind Fuck. There isn't a whole lot to this song in all honesty. It's a short, simple song about having your head messed with. Mind Fuck has definitely fucked with my mind as it has now wedged itself into my brain. It's quite catchy. Finally we have the sixteenth song on the album, Fuck This World. Fuck This World is a song about finding a way to make sense of all the darkness that goes on in the world. The songs starts with some fantastic guitar chords that make me want to jump up and down before finishing with a fantastic chorus of "We're Sing Through The Night To Make Some Sense Of The Light." A wonderful way to finish off a great album.

Stream and download We're Sorry We Missed You here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Top Tens: Dan's Top Ten Songs from Tony Hawks Pro Skater

I got a little emotional when this topic for a top ten came up, as I imagine a lot of you guys did when clicking on the link. I know a lot of people will have their own favourite songs and I urge you guys to share your own too. THPS meant a great deal to a great many and the soundtrack is that of our subculture through and through.

The important question of which songs meant the most though, I think, can stem from how old you were in 1999. I was seventeen when I first played a THPS game and, for me, the experience was of listening to songs that I had in my album collection play over a computer game. Others may have a totally different opinion to me since they would be discovering punk/rock/hip hop for the first time as part of the experience. Let’s have a look and see…

10. 99 Quite Bitter Beings – CKY
If you were watching Jackass when I was a teenager you were a sellout. If you really wanted to get a proper experience you had to be watching Bam Margera's Toy Machine skate videos and his offshoot films, CKY. His brother provided the soundtrack to those films and one tune in particular found it’s way onto Pro Skater 3.

9. TNT – AC/DC
I shouldn’t really need to say anything about this tune. It’s a classic hall of fame rock anthem and makes every trick gain +1 swag!

8. B-Boy Document ’99 – The High & Mighty
Hip hop didn’t feature on the original THPS soundtrack so my first experience with skating in any form to it came with this track. Now a staple of skating or snowboarding for me, it all came from this one tune.

7. Vilified – Even Rude
I love the start of this track. It feels totally epic and goes so well with hurtling round a level at top speed trying to finish in quickest time. Even Rude are one of those bands, of which I’m sure we all have many, where I hear the song on the game and think “damn man I need to find these guys' album” but always seem to forget to do so once I put the game down. Maybe this time I’ll remember!

6. Ace Of Spades – Motorhead
I own no less than four different versions of this song. Even though I could listen to it anywhere it’s just that little bit extra special screaming the lyrics out through the airport whilst racking up a ridiculous score going round and round the baggage reclaim.

5. Seneca Falls - The Distillers
Every now and then I’m a little indifferent to listening to bands that I already know of in the games. Sometimes the lyrics have to be censored and the song itself shortened and it can spoil it. Not for the Distillers though, they are nigh perfect in any setting in every situation.

4. I’m Destroying The World – Guttermouth
As I mentioned earlier, I was a big fan of stupid tricks and pranks mixed in with my skateboarding. Because of this I was always (and still am) a massive Guttermouth fan. The silly nature of the games just feels perfectly encapsulated in the red neck riffs and lyrical stylings of Mark Adkins.

3. No Cigar – Millencolin
This was Tony Hawks' favourite track and the man had damn good taste. Off the best Millencolin album (imo), No Cigar is a skate anthem that’s universally loved for its awesome riffage and super catchiness. I would be flabbergasted to not see this on everybody's lists.

2. Superman – Goldfinger
For a lot of people this is THE song for the THPS soundtracks. It’s so instantly recognisable lived as the standout out track of the smaller but amazing quality first soundtrack. I could have put this at number 1 if not for the fact that early 2000s nightclubs played this song to death and nowadays I can’t really listen to it all the way through.

1. May 16th - Lagwagon
Lagwagon were a band I’d missed in my early punk rock education. When your only access to music is sifting through CD Warehouse or downloading mp3s over a dial up connection, you tend to miss some of the good stuff so it wasn’t until I played the games that I came across what I consider as one of the best written skate punk songs in all of existence. The funny thing is I’m not even that big a Lagwagon fan but this one song seems to stand for everything I love about the genre, the scene and was just kickass when it was on – and you’d worked out how to keep up a combo circuit of the hangar!!

I could mention a hundred other honourable mentions but instead I’ll leave it to you guys to add your own. This was honestly exhausting trying to do a top ten so I would genuinely love to here from you and all your best tracks too.

This top ten was written by Dan Peters.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Album Review: Tales of Interest by The Dopamines (by Robyn Pierce)

I became a big fan of The Dopamines in 2010 with the release of their second full-length, Expect the Worst. I’m pretty sure that album made a few lists for the best albums released that year. It was so well-received that all of the band’s subsequent albums are almost certainly doomed to be considered in light of it. When 2012’s Vices came around, I’m sure my expectations were way too high. The same elements were there, but it seemed too cluttered to me, too slick at times and lacking some of the raw, biting cynicism I’d loved on the previous release. However, after a few more listens I realized that this was just a slightly more grown-up Dopamines party, with the same sardonic spirit and punchy songwriting. Enter The Dopamines’ latest album: Tales of Interest, out on Rad Girlfriend Records.

This time I was more excited about how The Dopamines have been able to grow and develop their sound. The first song I actually heard off of Tales of Interest was ‘Ire’, which premiered a few weeks ago on the Anxious and Angry podcast (rather awesomely in the 150th episode. If you haven’t checked out this podcast yet, which places you in the intimate company of Ryan Young and his candid punk rock guests, I really suggest that you do.) This is definitely one of the stronger tracks off of Tales of Interest and showcases a number of elements that characterize this album – such as a heavier, darker sound, aggressive vocals and a pounding melody. The Dopamines are at their best when they’re spitting bitter truths and pithy burns, and that hasn’t changed here. ‘Ire’ hits you with some great lines about revenge, with Jon belting out “And I can’t think of a better way to throw it right back into your lying face”, because “it’s true what they say, revenge feels pretty sweet”. When I moved from this to the album, I was caught off-guard by the beginning; instead of dropping straight into one of the band’s leaping melodies, you’re eased into the album with what sounds like the band plugging in and warming up. This gives it a little bit of the feel of a live show, but it also just feels dirtier and more D.I.Y. – like the guys recorded the entire album in about four days while chugging beer the entire time (which they did. Again, you really should check out the Anxious and Angry podcast.) About halfway in, the first track kicks into gear with the heavier, getting-towards-metal type of distortion that is used throughout the album.

Once you get into the second track, ‘The King of Swilling Powers, Part I, II, II’, you can tell that the band have thought about the dynamics of these songs. It’s easy with this sort of in-your-face punk to keep everything bashing out at a similar volume, so that it all bleeds into each other. Here, as on “Ire”, the band strips things down to begin with – dampening the guitar so that the vocals come to the forefront and allowing for more of an impact when the full band comes in. The next song, ‘Business Papers’, starts out thick and heavy with a syncopated rhythm; in true Dopamines style, this is a song about corporate trappings and the frustrations of working in an office (think Office Space, but with more la la las). There’s also a broody breakdown with some tight drumrolls. Tracks 5 and 6 are both a little less heavy (mostly). ‘Common Rue’ brings in some palm muting with poppier vocals while, wait for it… ‘Midwesternplayalisticeconolinemuzik’ (yeah, they’re trolling us; just call it track 6) is really fun, with a jiving drum beat and guitar and vocals that burst out with angsty brilliance. ‘083133’ kicks you in the face again with something faster, dirtier and louder, before you slide down into the pop punk melody of ‘Pavlovian Fixations’. In Tales of Interest, it’s really clear that The Dopamines have tried to create an album with variety that keeps your interest, but which also has a set of songs that sit together comfortably and clearly belong on the same album. Each song is a ‘tale’ of daring, or a slightly cynical story in a drunken punk storybook for adults, with Jon’s yells urging you to turn the page.

‘Open Letter’ is essentially a glorious vent, with a chord progression that rises and builds beautifully. At one point Jon sings: “wearing kid gloves, trying new things, playing nice…I’d rather set your ass on fire!” (Ah man, I’d love to see Jon in the Johannesburg traffic. I can only imagine the deliciously horrible things that would come out of his mouth.) The album doesn’t really slow down in this last third, with the last five songs all delivering on pace and raw energy. ‘Expect the Worst’ does actually remind me of the album of the same name, but more polished. ‘Kaltes Ende’ seems to refer back to the first track on the album (Kalte Ente), but a quick Google search tells me that Kalte Ente just refers to the practice of mixing leftover wine to create a drink called ‘Cold Duck’ and I could find nothing for Kaltes Ende. So…the guys started out drinking and they’re drinking again? Or, this album is the swirled mix of all the cold leftovers of their previous songwriting attempts? After ‘Kaltes Ende’ the guys get really sweet in ‘Heartbeaten by the Police’, which reminds me of Masked Intruder simply because of its vocal harmonizing and love-themed punning. The beginning of ‘Business Papers (Reprise)’ is the slowest the album gets, but it’s really a slow burning build to the banged-out ending. ‘Everyone Dies’ is an old-school jam that ends off the album in a blaze (and with a great Cranberries reference).

If you are an ‘Expect the Worst’ fan like me and hoped for more of a return to that sound, then Tales of Interest may not be for you – but I’d urge you to listen to it anyway because it’s a great record that delivers on the caustic, yet fun-loving, dirty, yet tight, Dopamines sound that you can’t help but enjoy. This is still The Dopamines you know and love, just a little more hardened and grown.

Like The Dopamines here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Album Review: Pardon Us by Pardon Us

Pardon Us are a three-piece punk rock band from Liverpool. Earlier this year they released their debut self-titled five track EP with the fine folks at Every Thing Sucks. Shortly after that I saw the band live for the first time, at South East Fest, – and heard songs from said EP for the first time too. Its safe to say I became a firm fan from that moment. I added Pardon Us to my ‘Prew’s Reviews’ list but I must admit I’ve been slower than the band deserves at getting onto it…

The first song is called Goodnight Adam 12 and is a song that also has an excellent SEGA-style RPG music video. (You can watch the video here.) One reason I was immediately hooked on Pardon Us when I saw them live was that their music packed a certain punch without being unnecessarily aggressive. I’m pleased to say that this remains the case on recording. Goodnight Adam 12 is a good ol’ song about growing up and having to make decisions as to where your life is heading – hence why a RPG music video works so well. Next up is Sleepwalk, a relatively speedy little track that kicks off with some great guitar work before the opening verse. The verses of the song are accompanied by palm-muted guitar which, although I know a lot of bands do, is something that always reminds me of Cornwall’s Bangers (RIP). Pardon Us did remind me a bit of the Cornish trio when I saw them live as well, which is not a bad band to be compared to if you ask me. Sleepwalk is about how you can sometimes end up going about your day in somewhat of a sleepwalking or zombie-like state, not really taking everything in but carrying on anyway. Until you realise all the time you’ve wasted anyway. 

Carry On is probably my favourite Pardon Us song – although it is a close call as all the songs on this EP are top notch. With an empowering and encouraging sentiment that really makes you want to shout about it, Carry On is simply DIY punk rock at its best. If you ever feel like you can’t do something or are feeling like there’s someone who is putting you down, you need to listen to this song. Knock us down, but we still don't die, People ask us why we even try, But you and me, we're not the same as everyone, All my brothers and my sisters too, I still remember all I've learned from you, And to you I dedicate this song, We'll just carry on.’ Cue the punk rock woah-ohs. Perfect.

The fourth song is titled Flightless and it wastes no time in getting going with pounding drums and fast-paced guitar and bass from the outset. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a happy-go-lucky punk song, as Morgan’s vocal style doesn’t particularly carry a lot of venom but within the lyrics it is clear that Flightless is a fairly anger-driven song. And I've seen you at the top, As you spit down in my eye, But I will see you at the bottom, When you realise, you don't know how to fly.’ Then, before you know it, it’s over and it is tempting to press repeat. But at least there’s one more song to come. I’ve been trying to work out what the title of fifth and final track, OHM, stands for or means and… well, I haven’t had much luck. I know that an ohm is something to do with electrical resistance (and is represented by this neat symbol – Ω) but I’m not sure how relevant that is. Whatever the song title may mean, I can at least decipher what the song itself is about – OHM is about about Pardon Us’s hometown of Liverpool. I enjoy the Beatles reference (not that I like The Beatles) – The Beatles moved to London, Pardon Us? We're staying here’. And I’m sure the closing line of Roam all you can roam, but there's no place like home’ can be applied to any individual and their own relationship to their hometown.

Pardon Us are a great addition to the UK DIY punk scene and I look forward to hearing whatever they release next – maybe a full length album!

You can stream, download and buy the 7" of Pardon Us here.
And like Pardon Us on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Album Review: Surprise! by Mystery Weekend

It's been at least a week since we reviewed a great release from a Canadian punk band so it's probably time again. This time we're reviewing Surprise! from Ontario based three piece Mystery Weekend. The band mixes together pop punk and metal music to create their own unique and exciting sound. This is going to be a fun one.

Album opener, Theodore, slowly fades in with a melody that gets harder and faster as it goes on, before Rody Walker's theatrical vocal style comes into play. Naturally the first thing I think of is AFI but I'm also somewhat reminded of the UK's own Creeper. This song really shows off Walkers exceptional vocal range and gets Surprise! off to a big start. The Obscenity Prayer is one of the best pop punk songs I've heard in years. Walker's voice is again at its theatrical best (I feel like that might be a theme to this album) as he takes us on a series of highs and lows throughout the song. The track is about feeling insecure and trying to find ways to improve yourself. The lyrics in the song are superb - stand outs including "An Apology Can't Effect The Past, But It Can Effect The Future And The Future's Coming Fast" and "And I'm Talking Shit, 'Cause Lately I've Been Fucking Feeling Old Hat, 'Cause There's A Million People Better Than Me At The Only Thing I'm Good At." The third song on Mystery is titled Broke, Old and Tired. It's at this point of the album that I really discovered what I love about Surprise! - that is that it is packed with a lot of lyrics but the whole time it's accessible for singing along. I've often found that with songs that include a lot of words it's hard to sing-a-long with every single one. The guitar work on Broke, Old and Tired really helps with the pacing of the song and adds a whole load of energy to the more up-tempo sections of the song.

Up next is a song named Don't Blame The Kids. Don't Blame The Kids is a song about the blame that the young people get for the decline in record sales due to downloads when really it was the greed from the music industry that made music too expensive for people to afford. It's one of the shorter songs on Surprise! and focuses less on the theatrics and more on getting their angry point across. This anger comes across the most at the end of the song when the line "Fuck The Entire Fucking Music Industry!" Up next is a song that really reminded me of My Chemical Romance's cover of Desolation Row by Bob Dylan, the song is named Nostalgia Is For Birds. It starts with more of a mid-tempo pace with some fantastic pounding drums courtesy of Mike Ieradi. When the band get to the chorus, the songs jumps into life with a huge sing-a-long section. The song is about different generation's tastes and how older people will say that things aren't as good as they used to be, with the example of TV shows being used. Mystery Weekend make the point that today's youth TV isn't aimed at the youths of 20 years ago. A very valid point. This song is da bomb. Everyone's A Liar starts out with a fantastic rock 'n' roll guitar solo. As the song progresses it morphs into more of a 80s metal sound whilst keeping its pop punk catchiness. Everyone's A Liar is definitely the sort of song that really allows Mystery Weekend to show off their musical prowess.

Barfly sees the band go down the hardcore route. It's just fifty four seconds in length but packs an immense amount of punch. It is about feeling at home in a dive bar rather than spend time with upper class, stuck up people. I think any punk rocker reading this will relate to that. I really enjoyed this side of Mystery Weekend's sound - it's a fantastic change of pace that really gives the album a fresh sound. The penultimate song on Surprise! is Mission Statement. Mission Statement is one of my favourites on the album. It's about Mystery Weekend's philosophy for their band. The philosophy is about how they don't care about doing it the "right" way, they want to be a band the way that they want to be no matter what other people might think. Something every band should do. This is quite a powerful song and something Mystery Weekend are clearly very passionate about. There plenty of fantastic lyrics demonstrating this philosophy including "Not Everything Has To Be Perfect, Not Everything Has To Be Right," "It's Not What We Wanted, You'll Have To Do It Again, You'll Have To Do It Again, You'll Have To Do It Again" and "I'm Just Trying To Carve Out A Place Where I Belong." Surprise! finishes with the acoustic track, Super-Death. This track is about how not all songs have to be about tragedy and it's good to have happy, positive love songs. The acoustic style of the track, I must admit, did catch me a bit off guard as I expected the album to finish with a great big flourish rather than a soft acoustic song. But I guess that there was no other place to place the song, as if it was in the middle it might affect the flow of the songs. This was a nice positive way to finish a fine album.

Surprise! is a fantastic album that was a bit of a revelation for me. Mystery Weekend really came out of nowhere to release one of the best albums of the year so far. Despite taking influences from different bands, that I've mentioned above, they have managed to stick to their mission statement and sound exactly how they want to sound.

Stream and download Surprise! here:

Like Mystery Weekend here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Gig Review: Great Cynics Album Release Show with Happy Accidents and Fresh at Urban Bar 13/4/17

On the 24th of March London punks Great Cynics released their fourth album POSI, on Specialist Subject Records. To celebrate this release the band put on two record release shows at the intimate Urban Bar in Whitechapel. The first night featured support from Happy Accidents and Fresh and on the second night they were supported by Austeros and Nervus. Emma and I went to the first night of fun - here's what happened.

First up were a band we first saw at the Happy Accidents album launch show last July, also at Urban Bar, London's Fresh. The three piece, fronted by the brilliant Kathryn Wood, are slowly building themselves a reputation as one the DIY scene's best up and coming band. Despite not really knowing any of the songs, I thoroughly enjoyed their set. The whole band clearly love playing live, the entire time that they were on stage they had the biggest smiles on their faces. This made me smile - I love watching a band who clearly love what they do and don't just try and be cool dudes and nonchalant about it. I just wish I knew more of the songs so I could have sung along. Fresh are a fantastic new band who certainly deserve your attention.

Next up were Happy Accidents, another young band on a very big upward trajectory. Since the release of last year's debut album, You Might Be Right, Phoebe, Rich and Neil have cemented themselves as one of the best bands in London. They are also one of the most charming bands I've ever seen live. Like Fresh, it's clear that Happy Accidents are happiest when they are performing on stage. Phoebe on drums in particular is in her zone behind the kit. Watching her bop her head and sing-a-long with the songs, even the sections where she doesn't have vocal parts, just shows how much she is enjoying herself. One particular highlight of the set was when they were joined on stage by Danny Lester and he helped out with the trumpet part of the song Facts and Figures - that was a nice surprise. The set mostly featured songs from You Might Be Right but there was a run out for older track Autopilot which went down a storm with the crowd at Urban Bar. Happy Accidents are another band who are fantastic and definitely need your attention.

Before Great Cynics took to the stage I thought about the bands that Giles had selected to play both nights. Three of the four bands booked were young London bands and the other were label mates on Specialist Subject. I suspect that all of these up and coming acts looked up to and were fans of Great Cynics before they began their bands. It's great to see Great Cynics, who at this point are veterans of the UK punk scene, give some rub to the younger bands coming through. It's kind of like Giles is a big brother to these guys and girls now.

On with the show. Tonight would be my first time seeing Great Cynics since long time bass player Iona left the band. Since then Giles and Bob have added Oli on bass and a new back-up vocalist and keyboard player, Gillie. After a bit of a onstage chat between Bob and Giles about getting hit by a beer glass whilst supporting the Aquabats and getting mugged by someone with an Operation Ivy Patch outside the Electric Ballroom, the band started out with Only Memories, the second song from POSI. Hearing this song live, and the rest of the songs they played from POSI, only made me love and appreciate the new album even more. I guess that's the point of an album launch show so that's a job well done. The problem with having a new line-up for a band that now has a fairly extensive list of songs to play is that it takes time for everyone to learn them. This obviously restricted the songs that the band could play but it didn't stop them playing plenty of fan favourites. Highlights included Want You Around - Chunky, Lost In You, Nightcaps and, set closer, Twenty Five - all of which got great reactions and at one point a crowd surfer. Great Cynics are another band the just exude charm on the stage, Giles’ enthusiasm on stage, bouncing around and smiling his way through the set was a joy to behold. I loved the make-it-up-as-you-go approach to the set list as well, as he chopped and changed the songs as he went - keeping the whole band on their toes. Great Cynics ended the night with a fun surprise cover of Cornershop's classic Brimful of Asha, which included the crowd stealing one of the microphones and Giles jumping into the crowd with his guitar to finish the song. There was quite a poignant section of the set as well where Giles spoke about formerly signed with a booking agency and not enjoying it and preferring the DIY approach of doing things yourself and taking chances. That's certainly something that seems to be working for Great Cynics.

And long may it continue!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Top Tens: John Maiello of Dead Bars Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

1) Green Day - 'Dookie'

In 1994, I was 7 years old and my parents both worked so for about an hour every afternoon I was in an after school program. I was in 2nd grade, and one of the 'older' kids in 5th grade showed me the song 'Basket Case' by Green Day on his Walkman cassette player. It was the greatest song I had ever heard in my life up until that point, and it made me feel a certain feeling that I'd never felt before. Not long after that I went to the store with my mom, and asked her if I could get the Green Day tape. I think it was 4 dollars. My mom, being a new mom, was excited that I was interested in something new so she got it for me. I went home and blasted it on my little boombox, and it only took a little while before my mom read the lyrics and decided that 'Dookie' was not appropriate for a 7 year old, so she took it away. I didn't even know the term 'Punk Rock', but I don't know if I would be here doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Green Day.

2) Blink 182 - 'Dude Ranch'

A few years went by and I sampled a lot of different music as a kid in elementary school - mostly stuff that was on the radio and MTV. It was 1997, and I think I heard Blink 182's 'Dammit' in a movie trailer for the film 'Cant Hardly Wait'. I remember getting the same feeling that 'Basket Case' gave me. I thought it was the greatest song in the world, and I wanted to know more about this band. By that time I had a CD player and I bought 'Dude Ranch' on CD.

3) My friend, Derek Reilly

Green Day and Blink 182 were pretty mainstream bands, at least at the time I got into them. Both 'Dookie' and 'Dude Ranch' were released on major labels and both bands were selling out major venues, and they were, for lack of a better term, Rock Stars. As a young person getting into this type of music, I surrounded myself with other kids who were into the same music. My friend Alex was listening to a bunch of crazy stuff that he was getting from his older brother, Derek. Derek is 4 years older than me and was not only listening to awesome music, he was also playing awesome music in local bands. He was one of the founding members of Hidden In Plain View, who eventually went on to sign with Drive Thru Records. If it wasn't for me knowing Derek and going to see his bands play at a very early age, I don't know if I'd have the same drive to take my love for punk music and actually start bands and play punk music.

4) The Get Up Kids - 'Something to Write Home About'

I bought this CD when I was 12 years old, and it was my first introduction to what was described as Emo music. It was the first time that I heard something that I wasn't convinced was Punk music, but I didn't care because it was so good. It basically opened my eyes to the possibilities of song-writing. It didn't have to just be snotty pop punk songs. It could be more mature and more melodic, and I liked that.

5) Refused - 'The Shape of Punk to Come'

I also bought this CD when I was 12 or 13, and it was another eye opening experience. It was the moment that I realized that there was no formula for punk rock. It's about feeling and attitude, and not necessarily structure or sound. I must have listened to this album 1000 times. It was a huge part of my teenage years.

6) 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' by Michael Azzerod

I got this book when I was 14. This book was a major influence on me because it detailed the stories of so many influential bands that were before my time. This is how I learned about Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Replacements, etc. It reaffirmed that you could do whatever you want as a musician. DIY. The book title says it all.

7) My Friends Jarret Seltzer and Tom Keiger of Face First and Houston Calls

When I was a teenager in Northern New Jersey, Face First was THE band. Hundreds of people would go see them all over the state, and their shows were the most fun I have ever had. I saw them at least 20 times, but in 2003 they decided to call it quits. At the time, I was playing drums in a band with my high school friends, and I asked Jarrett from Face First if we could open their final show, and he said 'Yes'. It was my dream come true, and I'll always appreciate that because they really didn't have to have us play. Jarrett and Tom from the band went on to form Houston Calls who eventually got signed to Drive Thru Records. They were the first friends of mine who were actually realizing their dreams by putting out records, and touring all over the world. They also gave me a chance to tour with them; I sold their merch. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to see the country and work for one of my favorite bands. Later on, Tom and I actually played music together in a couple bands, and he is really the only reason I live in Seattle, weirdly enough.


In my early 20s, after playing drums in bands my whole life, I decided to try and learn guitar and write my own songs. At first, it was discouraging because it's not that easy, and I was having trouble playing along to songs I liked. Then I put on the Ramones and I re-remembered the beauty of simplicity. If it wasn't for the Ramones, I probably would have given up on guitar, and Dead Bars may have never been.

9) Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

In the documentary, 'Lemmy: The Movie', a journalist asked Lemmy something like "Why do you keep going after 35 years on road?" and Lemmy responded, "You have a dream when you're a kid, and mine came true. Why stop?" That's what I want to say 35 years from now when you ask me this question.

10) My bandmate and partner in crime, C.J. Frederick

When I was writing the first batch of Dead Bars songs, I was at a pretty low point in my life. Uninspired, confused, and probably depressed. A lot of people who I showed my songs to thought they were pretty stupid, which advanced the insecurities I already had about singing and songwriting. For a while, the idea of ever forming a Dead Bars band was nothing more than a dream. When C.J. joined the band, I gained a great bandmate, but also a great friend. We've shared a lot of influences with each other, and have discovered new ones together. His influences and passions have made their way into the Dead Bars songs and I am forever grateful.

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