Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Album Review: Outsider by Comeback Kid (by Robyn Pierce)

Longtime Canadian hardcore band Comeback Kid recently released a new full-length album entitled Outsider, out on Nuclear Blast. I’m always stoked about new music from Comeback Kid, who are definitely one of best hardcore bands in the scene, but I was particularly interested in this record after hearing the singles the guys released and seeing some of the guest vocalists the band collaborated with on Outsider (Chris Cresswell on a Comeback Kid record? Whaa?! It’s like they’re trying to make a point about how many great musicians come from Canada). Comeback Kid are also my go-to band when I’m struggling to feel motivated and need a bit of a push, so I was really counting on Outsider to give me the energy fix I need at this time of year.

And, it delivered. Outsider is heavy in all the right ways, delivering vibrant riffs and often veering into the realm of metal. This is perhaps best encapsulated in the track entitled ‘Absolute’, which includes a guest appearance from legendary metal vocalist Devin Townsend (who is, of course, another amazing Canadian). Townsend’s vocals really fill out the sound in ‘Absolute’, giving the song an operatic quality as it builds to a crescendo and ends with an awesome breakdown. ‘Absolute’ was one of the singles pre-released off of Outsider, together with ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ and ‘Surrender Control’. ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ really showcases Comeback Kid at their best, tempering fast and aggressive verses with a soaring, anthemic chorus. ‘Surrender Control’ is also quite anthemic, with a chorus that promises to have crowds all over the world singing along, but it’s much more bass-driven and deliciously heavy. I looped these three tracks more than a few times leading up to the album release, and they definitely measure up to Comeback Kid’s previous singles and best-loved tracks.

With the full release came ten more new songs. Much like the title track off of Die Knowing, which also leads off that album, ‘Outsider’ opens the record with a long intro and introduces the theme of the outcast whose power lies in challenging the status quo. ‘Hell of a Scene’ is an unexpected track that marries together an aggressive, ultra-fast verse and a highly melodic chorus that reminds me ever so slightly of Sum 41 (and no, it’s not just because they’re Canadian – although, maybe?). It’s jarring and fun, and could wreak untold havoc at shows. This song gives way to ‘Consumed the Vision’, which features Chris Cresswell (from The Flatliners) and is therefore, perhaps unsurprisingly, a more straightforward punk track (although, it doesn’t escape the metal influence altogether). I don’t think there is any possible manifestation of Chris Cresswell’s vocals that I could ever dislike, but man – I really enjoy the overlaying and blending of vocals on this track. Like the addition of Townsend on ‘Absolute’, it adds great flavour and dimension to the sound. ‘I’ll Be That’ is a headbanger with some tight palm muting, while ‘Outrage’ and ‘Blindspot’ are two of the faster songs on the album with fantastic drumming at breakneck speed.

In between the old-school, hardcore aggression of ‘Livid, I’m Prime’ and ‘Throw That Stone’ is one of my favourite tracks off of Outsider, entitled ‘Recover’. This song steps away from the metal elements on the rest of the album and delivers a rousing melody with similarly stirring lyrics: “I’m not slipping away, I’ll recover”. In a video in which the band discuss Outsider, Neufield says that ‘Recover’ came out of an attempt to return to an earlier sound and to write a song like ‘Wake the Dead’. I think the band is successful in writing a song that is as enjoyable as this fan favourite. Outsider finishes up with ‘Moment in Time’ featuring Northcote (yes, you guessed it, another great Canadian musician). Northcote’s input is most apparent at the beginning of the song, which begins as a somber folk punk tune before exploding with frantic energy. In fact, the speed and intensity of the rest of the song almost seems to be a response to its grim beginning. This is fitting in a song about making the most of the precious time you have with your loved ones. ‘Moment in Time’ caps off the album beautifully with a track that’s really different to anything I’ve heard from Comeback Kid before.

What I really like about ‘Outsider’ is the diversity of tracks that it offers, each developing a different facet of Comeback Kid’s sound but all of them administering the power and energy that you’d expect from these hardcore heavyweights. Chances are, even if you don’t love every song off this album, there’ll be a few tracks that you really enjoy. Outsider also testifies to the musical talent coming out of Canada and makes really fantastic use of guest vocals (seriously, if you are reading this Comeback Kid: just keep collaborating with other awesome Canadian musicians. It’s working. You have made me so happy.) Outsider is a great addition to Comeback Kid’s growing catalogue of music, and has definitely satisfied my need for some quality hardcore punk to help me push through the last few months of the year.

Stream and download Outsider here:

Like Comeback Kid here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Gig Review: The Real McKenzies at The Camden Underworld 13/9/17

What do you do when you're off work and have a day planned in London? Go to a punk show, of course. Canadian celtic punks The Real McKenzies were playing at The Underworld in Camden, somewhere we seem to have been to loads lately, and had Counting Coins supporting them. This promised to be a evening full of fun.

When I saw that there was only one support band on the evening's bill, I must admit that I felt a little disappointed - it felt like I was paying full price for a gig that wouldn't be as long as normal. Any disappointment that I was feeling was soon forgotten as Counting Coins took to the stage. The five piece from Hull play a hybrid of ska punk, hip-hop and gypsy music and kind of felt like strange bedfellows for The Real McKenzies for this tour. I wondered how a crowd of predominantly older punk rockers would take to this band. They took to them very well. I think that this was down to the infectious energy that the band put into their performance. Lead vocalist Harry is sometimes hard to make out due to the sheer speed that he delivers his lyrics but he has me smiling and enjoying myself anyway. Because Counting Coins were the only support band of the evening they were afforded a little extra time for their set. This seemed like we were able to get the full Counting Coins experience. Playing a selection of songs from their entire back catalogue as well as at least one new one, the band got a few people in the crowd that had gathered early dancing. The band had become great friends with tour pals Real McKenzies over the previous week or so and it was great to see some of those Canadian chaps down the front singing along with the band. It's always great to see some camaraderie develop between bands whilst on tour, it really shows the strength of the community in the punk scene. Counting Coins really impressed with a high octane set.

Next it was time for long running celtic punks, The Real McKenzies. The band formed way back in 1992 so this was the band's 25th year in existence, an incredible achievement. Frontman Paul McKenzie is the only original member who still plays with the band and as soon as he took to the stage he got an standing ovation from the Underworld crowd. This is where I must admit that I'm not overly knowledgeable on much of The Real McKenzies music, I know a couple of songs and I've always enjoyed listening to them but have never fully been on board the McKenzies bandwagon. I now am after witnessing an incredible live performance. I don't think I've seen many more entertaining live shows this year. I think a key part of the band's longevity has been the excellent selection of musicians that Paul has surrounded himself with. Watching them all interact with each other on the Underworld stage is an absolute delight. It reminds me of Paul being the serious teacher and the rest of the band behaving like naughty school boys behind him. Bass player Troy Zak in particular likes to act out, being the one to mock Paul's age and answer back when asked to do something. It's all in good fun of course and adds a great dynamic to the set. There wasn't a single song in their set that didn't get me dancing. Whether it was a faster paced punk track, a slower drinking song or a sea shanty - everything was just fantastic. Of the songs that I did learn favourites of mine included Droppin' Like Flies, Bugger Off, My Luck Is So Bad, Fuck The Real McKenzies, Due West and Barrett's Privateers. If you've never seen The Real McKenzies live you are really missing out. Amazing.

In all honesty this was a gig we went to just because we were off work and we like going to gigs. This was a great decision as we had a brilliant night dancing along to really good bands from different sides of the punk genre.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Album Review: Come Undone by Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders (by Emma Prew)

This time last year I was constantly listening to my favourite bands that were set to play Fest 15 in anticipation for seeing many new faves live in Florida at the end of October. One artist that I listened to, probably more than anyone else, was Lincoln Le Fevre, a country/folk punk chap from Australia. When Fest came around we ended up seeing him play twice over the weekend and each time was simply wonderful – he has an incredible way of captivating a bar (or beer garden, in the second instance) with his wistful storytelling. I loved Lincoln Le Fevre then, I still love Lincoln Le Fevre now and now I also love Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders and their 2017 full-band full-length release Come Undone.

Released on Poison City Records towards the end of July, Come Undone has been top of my must-review-list ever since. Except life got in the way, work has been busier than ever and I haven’t had time to give the album the appreciation it deserves. Until now.

Opening the album is a song called Ugly Enough. It starts out reasonably slowly, with soft guitar before Lincoln’s distinct vocal utters the words ‘I should warn you, I’m not built to last, And the future casts a shadow, Darker than the past.’ You can tell that the song is building as the guitars appear to get ever so slightly more urgent. Drums kick in for the full band sound we’ve been waiting for at around the one and half minute mark and we are even treated to a big guitar solo towards the end of the song. This is the same heartfelt and honest Lincoln Le Fevre that I know and love just with a punchy impact and sound. The feedback at the end of Ugly Enough leads us into Undone and while the first track was slower to get going, track number two wastes no time hanging around. Undone has a fuller sound from the outset and a faster pace to get your head nodding and foot stomping. This was one of the first tracks released ahead of the album and I was sold on it from my first listen. As much as I love the stripped back and more acoustic nature of the last album, Resonation – and I sure as hell love that album – I think this rockier, punkier sound is what I subconsciously wanted all along. Undone is about being able to put the past behind you and get over someone or something. ‘Boy I know what’s getting you down, But there’s no point missing her now…’ I bet it would go down and storm at a live show and I really, really hope that’s something I get to witness one day.

There are plenty of genres that Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders could plausibly fall under. Of course, this is a ‘punk rock’ blog and they are not necessarily out of place here, as a major part in the Australian punk scene alongside the likes of The Smith Street Band, Camp Cope and Luca Brasi, to name but a few. You could also label Lincoln’s previous releases as having more of a folk or country sound and this comes across in the warm guitar tones throughout Summerhat. Perhaps this is Australiana? (Y’know, like Americana.) That’s the guitars however, meanwhile the lyrics are as packed with emotion as ever. You know that phrase ‘to wear your heart on your sleeve’? Well, that could be applied here too. ‘And when she turned to me and she respectfully disagreed, But in every kid there’s an asshole who don’t know right, Because what all this means is maybe she won’t think the worst of me.’ The tempo is taken down a notch for the somewhat melancholic The Get Go. A steady drum beat takes us through this song with the guitars taking a bit of a backseat for Lincoln to give an honest outpouring through his vocals. ‘Was it recklessness or reason, An echo of whatever but it means, That you were here from the get go.’ The sombre tone continues into the next track and this is where Lincoln really pulls at the heartstrings. Newcastle is the name of the fifth track on Come Undone and it is about loneliness and the frustration that comes with that, as well as how a particular place, Newcastle for instance, can embody all of those feelings. This song contains some of the most poignant and yet heartbreaking lyrics of the whole album – the whole Lincoln Le Fevre back catalogue in fact. ‘I’m staring at the infomercials, Waiting to be told, To go to bed and give up on another night alone, And lie awake in wait for sleep to bring her home, And I’m listening […] And when I told you that I missed you, You just stared at the floor, And you held me like there’s nothing left to hold anymore, And it looks as though when I get back to Melbourne I’ll be coming back alone.’ I want to scream those words almost as much as they make me feel like crying. That’s a good thing, right?

Phew! After that slightly emotional whirlwind, Useless Shit brings us back to straight-up head nodding folk punk rock. The drum beat gives the song a rolling motion, the guitars are suitably jangly and the lyrics are easy to pick up and sing along to – particularly those echoed lines in the chorus. This song has an official music video which features a bunch of people have a yard sale of what turns out to Lincoln’s, probably not so unwanted, belongings. It’s a fun spin on what could be presumed to be ‘useless shit’ but I think the song is more about starting afresh and perhaps trying to forget some things from your past. Another great song. Then we come to what I think is the perfect combination of heartfelt, emotion-fuelled lyrics with an upbeat pace and that excellent full band sound. Constellations is almost definitely my favourite song of Come Undone. Leading us into the song with a catchy guitar riff, the verses are mid tempo but the chorus is where it all happens. ‘And you caught me just in time, To turn the night around, And if the cop don’t shut us down, We’ll drink all night.’ There’s just something about the warmth in Lincoln’s voice that makes me love this song that little bit more than all of the rest. I think you’ll have to listen for yourself and see if you hear what I mean.

Drawing towards the end of the album, Gaslight City is the eighth track of Come Undone. A simple melancholic guitar riff opens up the track and when the vocals kick in we can confirm that this is a bit of a remorseful and bitter sounding song. ‘And you told us we need it, Everything we never needed.’ This is another song with a great sense of building throughout its duration. We don’t exactly get a massive punk rock kick in the face by the end of it but that’s not really what this song is about – it’s deeper than that. The melancholy gives way to a faster paced and almost optimistic penultimate track, Alone At The Back. I say ‘almost’ as it’s more like being on the road to positivity but not quite being there yet – ‘Giving up and giving in is not the same thing.’ There’s a great little section towards the end of the song where there are two different vocal lines being sung over the top of each other. Unfortunately I can’t quite pick out every single word to quote this (and I can’t find the lyrics online) so you’ll just have to listen yourself. Bringing Come Undone to a close in the longest song on the album at 5 minutes (exactly) in length, Stay Close. As you might imagine an album closer of 5 minutes to be, this is an atmospheric builder of a song. The slow guitar playing and softer vocals that start the song remind me a bit of Ryan Adams, if Ryan Adams was from Australia – which I’m sure is not an unusual comparison to make. In this song, Lincoln admits trying to be optimistic in when life puts you in some difficult situations which I feel reflects on much of the album and not just this song. It’s a good way to be. ‘So stay close, Stay close, Because I am still a stupid optimist in spite of every doubt.’ 

Come Undone is out now on Poison City Records and you can download and stream it on Bandcamp here.

I also suggest you give Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders a like on Facebook here.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Column: Music Videos Are Still Cool

Remember about ten years ago when you would spend hours watching Kerrang or Scuzz or MTV2 or, probably the most popular with readers of this blog, P-Rock hoping to catch your favourite bands new music video. Back then, before social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter exploded, a big tool for getting your band some important exposure was getting your music video onto one of those channels.

These days music videos don't feel as important as they once did because there are so many other (and usually cheaper) ways to spread the good word about your band. I however still do get excited when my favourite bands release a new music video. I figured it might be fun to share a few of my favourites with the Colin's Punk Rock World readers.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Top Tens: Danny from The Crash Mats' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Ever since I first heard White Trash, Two Heebs And A Bean I’ve been in love with NOFX. Being 13 and getting into punk was fun, I spent about a year listening to the Sex Pistols and other such 70s bands then I heard White Trash… and Punk in Drublic on the same cassette tape. I didn’t realise you could have fun with punk, NOFX taught me that.

The Beastie Boys
The best/most punk album I owned when I was 14 was Aglio E Olio. The greatest album of all time is Paul Boutique. The videos they made were funny, plus their cover of Minor Threat's Screaming At A Wall is amazing! The Beasties are better at everything musically than anyone else, ever!

When I was 13 I heard Crass and my young Roman Catholic head exploded. I didn’t really understand 95% of it, but I totally got what the song So What was on about. I really dug the dirty bass and drum sounds and they made me feel like I could write a punk song and that it was easy. All you need to do is shout and sound Cockney!

All the early Fat Wreck comps were amazing, but Snuff really stood out to me. They filled the music out with Hammond organs and trumpets, they did stupid covers and made me laugh a lot. They didn’t seem to care everyone else was trying to be serious, they carried on regardless. All the Snuff spin off bands are great too, Guns n Wankers, Your Mum, Billy No Mates etc. but I still remember listening to a copy of Potatoes And Melons with Mr Royales (Guitarist in The Crash Mats) aged 13/14 and wanting to do my own punk version of Magic Moments and trying to figure out which TV adverts would make a good punk cover.

The Toy Dolls

I smoke weed, and I like punk and ska… do I need to explain this one any more? I didn’t really get into them until the early 2000s but just wow. 40 Oz To Freedom is just so smooth. It flows from track to track, everything fits, nothing stands out as odd or an album track. Just pure gold.

Rich Kids On LSD/RKL
I first heard these guys on a compilation from Epitaph years ago, then I forgot about them. Then later on in life I got back into buying vinyl and re-discovered RKL. Everything about this band is amazing, from the bass and vocals, to the mental backstory of the guys in the band. I love all eras of RKL, from the early Mystic stuff to the later Epitaph albums, they just inspire me to want to sound better musically. I’ve still yet to hear better vocals on a record than Jason Sears.

Dead Kennedys
I used to love looking through the album artwork for a DK album, the dark humour really stood out to me. The sound of the band was pretty damn cool too. I had no idea what they looked like from being 13 to about 15 when I saw a video of a live set in San Fransisco. It wasn’t until I saw East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride playing that I understood just how damn good they were.

Wesley Willis
If you make me laugh I will love you forever, Wesley Willis is punk rock. Rock over London, rock over Chicago, Wheaties the breakfast of champions.

Frank Sidebottom
Laughing at your own jokes whilst other people stare at you in befuddlement is the best feeling in the world sometimes. Frank scared me as a kid, but as I grew up I realised just how funny he was. Also just how controversial he was to people as well. I’ve only ever been told to turn off two records by my mum, one was Crass and the other was Frank Sidebottom. Stuff like that makes people stick in your mind and I’ve probably stolen more from Frank Sidebottom than anyone else. I don’t think many people “get him” but that is their problem. You know it is, it really is!

Check out The Crash Mats here and here.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Album Review: Call In Sick by Toodles & The Hectic Pity

I love it when small bands I've never heard of send me emails asking if I'd like to review their new release and it turns out to be one of your favourite releases of the year. That's definitely what happened when Bristol based three piece Toodles & The Hectic Pity got in touch ( if you're interested) and told me about their new release Call In Sick which was released in June via Invisible Llama Music. Toodles & The Hectic Pity consist of Callum McAllister (vocals, acoustic guitar), Max Cole (bass, vocals) and Dom Mosley (drums, vocals, melodica) and play acoustic folk punk music. A genre I usually leave for Emma to review but I enjoyed this release so much I had to do it myself. Here's why I loved Call In Sick.

Opening song Menthol Cigarettes begins with some quiet acoustic guitar before the drum kicks in and we get a upbeat extended introduction to the song. When the vocals do kick in the drum drops out and the song builds up towards its chorus. I like the effect of having two introductions to the song that lead into a big sing-a-long chorus. Menthol Cigarettes is a break up song, particularly about struggling to let go of the relationship and not coming to terms with the situation. Despite the sadness of the topic there is such a great upbeat feel to the song, it's kind of difficult not to smile along to it. Next up is I Do Not Need A Doctor (Oh My Dear). The track doesn't waste much time in getting started this time with some fast paced acoustic guitars. McAllister's vocals are also up-tempo and have a hint of storytelling in their delivery. I Do Not Need A Doctor tells the story of a girl who tries so hard to fit into what society deems is the correct lifestyle and it driving her to sickness. There is a great section of the song when things are brought down to a slower pace and some well placed "whoa-ohs" come in before the song gradually picks itself back up for its ending. Superb song.

The third song is the EP's title track Call In Sick. Call In Sick is a song about being stuck in a job that you hate so much that it begins to affect your mental health. The track goes along at more of a mid-tempo pace with McAllister again in storytelling mode. I can see this song really going down well in a live environment, especially when the music cuts out and the line "Because You Shouldn't Have To Work So Hard To Barely Get You By" is sung, in my head I'm imagining a room full of people shouting this back at the band in a very cathartic moment. The penultimate track is named Faster Than This. As you might assume from the title of the track, it's a fast paced one that's just two minutes in length. It's a bit of a punk anthem about realising your own self worth and ignoring the people who don't respect yours. Faster Than This is a track that really allows Mosley's drumming to shine with some rapid fire drum rolls giving the song an explosion of life. Lastly we have Ear To The Concrete. Here we have another mid-tempo track that tells another story. McAllister does a wonderful job of painting a picture in this, and all his songs, where it feels as if you can see what he's singing about as if it's a film. This is an incredible skill and shows so much songwriting talent.

Call In Sick is one of the biggest surprises of the year. All five songs are just superb and deserve a lot of attention. Toodles & The Hectic Pity have not been a band for a long time but are already showing a lot of promise. If you only check out one band that you've never heard of this year then you could do far worse that giving Toodles & The Hectic Pity a chance. You certainly won't regret it!

Stream and download Call In Sick here:

Like Toodles & The Hectic Pity here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Gig Review: CJ Ramone at MK11, Milton Keynes 7/9/17

On Thursday the 7th of September 2017 I saw a real life, living, breathing, singing, bass playing Ramone! The legendary CJ Ramone, who played bass for the most important band in the history of music between from 1989 to 1996. Kind of randomly, he was playing Milton Keynes as the final night of his UK tour supporting brand new solo album American Beauty on Fat Wreck Chords. To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.

Of course CJ had support for the evening. In fact he had a lot of support. No less than four support acts were playing at the MK11 sports bar. The first three were reasonably local acts We Are Giants, Dead Frequency and Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns. The fourth was a band who I'd only heard great things about and was really looking forward to seeing, Canadian punk rockers the Isotopes. This was my first time listening to the band and if I was going to describe them to you I'd tell you to imagine a cross between Teenage Bottlerocket and Masked Intruder. Musically they definitely have a bit of the Teenage Bottlerocket buzzsaw pop punk sound with the fun gimmickry of Masked Intruder. Unlike Masked Intruder though the gimmick isn't about girls and committing crimes, it's about America's favourite pastime, Baseball. Many of their songs are either about baseball or feature baseball references in the titles. The stage at MK11 isn't the biggest so it was tight trying to squeeze all five members into the tight space. But Isotopes also have a non music playing member, similar to the job Officer Bradford does for Masked Intruder where he paces around the stage getting the crowd even more hyped up. I should point out that this gentleman was wearing just a denim waistcoat and a jock strap, wielding a baseball bat. This was quite distracting from the band to begin with. The Isotopes played an absolutely fantastic set of pop punk. I was slightly concerned that all of the baseball references might fall down with a UK crowd but it certainly didn't stop the good folks of Milton Keynes enjoying Isotopes. A great, fun band who I look forward to seeing again.

Now it was time for CJ Ramone. When the legend took to the stage I began to feel a little giddy, turned to Emma and said ‘that's a Ramone.’ I was less than ten metres away from a member of the greatest band that ever lived. Before the gig I had wondered if he would only play his solo material or would play a mixture of his own songs as well as playing some Ramones classics. That question was answered on the first song as CJ and his band opened the set with the classic Let's Dance. Immediately the crowd that had gathered at MK11 began to sing and dance. Naturally it was The Ramones songs, of which there were plenty, that got the biggest reactions but people also reacted very positively to CJ's own songs. I will be making sure to get very familiar with these songs as the ones that he played live were all great. Hearing CJ play those old Ramone songs made me realise just how many incredible songs the band wrote back in the day and how timeless they still feel. A few months ago I did a Top Ten Ramones Songs for CPRW and I'm pretty sure almost every single one of those songs was played along with countless others. One of the things that I really enjoyed about CJ's set was the enthusiasm he had for playing those songs. He has obviously played to much bigger crowds than the 100 or so people who gathered to see him on this night but this didn't quell the effort he and his band put into their set and were clearly having a ball on stage. This wasn't about a pay cheque, this was about a love of music, punk rock and The Ramones. There were some fun guests joining the band on stage throughout the set. First up was Isotopes singer Evan who joined the band to sing Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, next up Lisa from The Ramonas (an all female Ramones tribute act) who is local to Milton Keynes joined the band on stage for my personal favourite, Bonzo Goes To Bitburg, and lastly for the final song of the night all of the Isotopes came back on stage for a cover of Motorhead's tribute to the Ramones - R.A.M.O.N.E.S.

Seeing CJ play on stage was a bit surreal. I didn't really know what to expect from the night but I have to say I loved every second of it. I'm sure CJ doesn't have to come out to the more unpopular towns on the UK touring circuit but I'm certain every single person there was eternally grateful that he did. Incredible.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.