Friday, 18 August 2017

Gig Review: The Dreadnoughts at the Camden Underworld 12/8/17 (by Emma Prew)

On Saturday night I ticked another band off on my still-to-see-live bucket list, a band that I presumed that I’d never actually get to see live – at least short of travelling to Canada to see them. The band I’m talking about are the cider-swilling, shanty-singing, folk punks from Vancouver, The Dreadnoughts. They’ve been over the UK a couple of times over the past few years but they tend to only play a handful of festival appearances like Boomtown and Rebellion, rather than actually touring around the country. This year wasn’t too different but they also added an exclusive non-festival date at the Camden Underworld. As soon as this was announced, I was EXCITED.

Unfortunately the gig was happening on a Saturday and Colin works Saturday nights so he was unable to join me for this gig. However, I wasn’t gigging alone as I invited my uni pal James along which made sense really as he was the person who suggested that I listen to The Dreadnoughts in the first place five years or so ago. 

Being a Saturday night at the Underworld, a venue where they have a club night from 11pm, the show kicked off early with the first of four bands on before 7pm. I didn’t know any of the support acts prior to the gig but I had read their descriptions and all sounded good to me! First up were Space Chimp, a band who were also from Vancouver – I realised later that two of their members, Drew on mandolin and Marco on drums are actually in The Dreadnoughts as well. The four piece played a fairly eclectic mix of songs with some sounding super country/bluegrass and others verging on reggae/ska. The band’s enthusiasm was great to see and they did a decent job of drawing people away from the bar to watch them. I particularly enjoyed the cowbell – as did the drummer! Not a bad start to the night at all.

Next up were a band by the name of Black Water County, who it turned out were a six-piece folk punk band from Bournemouth. The band were each uniformly wearing waistcoats and had a wide array of instruments on stage with them – certainly more instruments than members. My expectations were already fairly high as I knew this would be my sort of band and as soon as they burst into their set I was hooked. They instantly reminded me of Roughneck Riot although with less gruff, I guess more traditionally folky, vocals. The majority of their songs were upbeat and lively so this did a great job of getting the crowd, included myself, moving. The slower numbers were great too though! I particularly enjoyed the switching of vocalists for different songs between Tim and Shan as well as the rest of the band joining for more gang-style vocals. Black Water County are a band I cannot wait to see live again.

Then we came to the final support act. From their name, Calico Jack, I figured that they’d be another folk-influenced act – Calico Jack was a famous pirate, by the way – but I was wrong. The stage was cleared of instruments and microphones, leaving it looking oddly bare after Black Water County, as Calico Jack were a straightforward trio of drums, bass and guitar. By this point there were a bunch of eager music fans gathered at the front of the stage who obviously knew this band which was pretty cool for a non-headlining act. When Calico Jack eventually kicked off their set I discovered that, rather than folk, they had more of a funky alternative rock sound. It was not what I was expecting at all and I have to say that it made me feel like I’d suddenly been transported to another gig. It’s not that they weren’t good at what they did – far from it, they were a confident and talented bunch of young musicians – but, to me at least, it just felt out of place. Even their two-song Avril Lavigne cover medley didn’t really do much for me. But regardless of what I thought, there were plenty of people in the Underworld who loved their set so that’s all that matter really.

And so it was time for the band I’d been waiting for what felt like forever to see live, the mighty Dreadnoughts! Having never seen the band before or even ever watched any live videos, I didn’t actually know how many people were in The Dreadnoughts. It turned out that there were five, although I noticed that they didn’t have an accordion with them so potentially a member and/or musician was missing. The band members go by piratey nicknames so I won’t attempt to list them! Taking to the stage with a confident air, it wasn’t long before the band were making jokes about their great support bands, Metallica and The Beatles, as well as attempting a rendition of the English national anthem – ‘Eeennggeerrrlaaaand…’. The Dreadnoughts are clearly a band that don’t take themselves too seriously in a live setting and I didn’t expect any less to be honest. After this bit of tomfoolery, it was time for the tunes and time for the crowd to go absolutely nuts. I’m a big fan of The Dreadnoughts’ first album, Legends Never Die, so it was great to hear Antarctica, Elizabeth and the classic sea shanty Roll The Woodpile Down – the latter featuring a crowdsurfing, cowbell armed drummer to the bar and back for beer (not cider, interestingly). However, it was songs from Polka’s Not Dead that seemed to get the biggest reactions. Tracks such as Turbo Island, Poutine, Sleep Is For The Weak, as well as the album’s title track, went down a storm. Other highlights included two circle pits around the Underworld’s central pillar – something I’m surprised to say I’ve never actually seen there before, clearly I haven’t been to enough rowdy and raucous Underworld shows. They also got two members of the audience on stage to help sing what they said was a Wurzels song (it wasn’t Combine Harvester). All of these components made for an excellent gig but I particularly enjoyed one of a few brand new songs that they played. The song was titled Two Ciders Ago and is based on something that the band’s violinist said when she was drunk – ‘I’m two ciders ago’. I don’t know what the recorded version will sound like but the live rendition featured each member of the band taking a turn at singing the chorus, giving the song a real barroom feel. It was excellent. The Dreadnoughts are excellent.

The Dreadnoughts live show was everything that I had hoped for and more. I just really hope I don’t have to wait another five years to see The Dreadnoughts again. Oh, and the new album will be released in November by the way.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Top Tens: Paul from Be Sharp Promotions' Top Ten Bands He'd Love To Book

1. Goldfinger
They've been my favourite live band since I first saw them at the Astoria in 2001.

2. Lightyear
Because it's Lightyear.

3. Mustard Plug
I haven't seen them for over 10 years and they are the most amount of fun.

4. Buck O Nine
Last year I went to Asian Man Records 20th Anniversary in San Francisco and ended up seeing Buck O Nine 4 times, including once at Gilman Street (bucket list thing right there) and an INSANE show in Tijuana. Lovely guys, so much fun and they haven't played the UK since 2001. Long overdue.

5. Mad Caddies
One of my all time favourites. I'm still jealous that Jason El Topo put them on in Belgium last year.

6. Anti Flag
We got a bit ska heavy, so let's add a punk rock band in. After their 2 shows at Old Blue Last in 2015, I'd love a sweaty and intimate gig at New Cross Inn.

7. The Interrupters
On their first UK tour, I managed to get The Pisdicables and Call Me Malcolm supporting them. Since then it's been great to watch them get bigger and bigger. Such an incredible live band.

8. Talco
I had tickets to see them in Budapest, but they cancelled due to illness. When they played Boomtown, I got offered a pass about an hour after their set and therefore missed them. I had them booked at NXI in February but the tour got cancelled. I think I'm jinxed. Amazing Italian ska punk. Silent Town was my favourite album of 2015.

9. The Bennies
I just really want to book The Bennies for a Besharp party.

10. Less Than Jake
They played the Barfly in 2012, so are no strangers to small gigs. We'll have some of that.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Album Review: Reservoirs by Myelin (by Emma Prew)

Myelin are a four-piece from London, fronted by ex-Apologies, I Have None guitarist and vocalist, Dan Bond. On the 4th of August they released their first EP, titled Reservoirs, on Uncle M Records which features 5 brand new tracks. If I had to label Myelin’s music with a particular genre I would edge towards post-punk over poppier punk. I was a big fan of ‘Dan’s songs’ on Apologies’ early releases and therefore keen to hear how his music had progressed with Myelin’s debut EP.

Reservoirs opens with the not so cheerily titled Die. Before I go any further – or before you read any further – I should probably point out that if cheery, happy-go-lucky songs are what you’re looking for then Myelin probably aren’t for you. Die starts slowly and quietly with gentle, sombre guitar and Dan’s restrained vocals. However there is a great sense of building as the song progresses towards the chorus. This building continues through the second verse and things really kick off in the second chorus, as Dan screams ‘Some things were born to die…’ A particular lyric that stood out to me was ‘I thought I was nothing without resilience, well I am nothing now.’ as it seems to be a nod towards the AIHN song Foundations which uses a similar phrase. The second song, Fifteen, has more of a melodic feel to it from the start with more intricate guitar playing. Fifteen is a song about reflecting on feelings you had when you, and those around you, were younger as well as dealing mental health issues as an adult. The lyrics are pretty direct and hard hitting – ‘Now we're both looking at the other like "I am done with this, I am done with you, you'll never be happy" and we're both thinking "I don't feel anything about anything, I don't know what's wrong with me.”’ This song could have easily finished after 3 minutes and been good but it doesn’t. There is what feels like a short musical interlude in the middle of this track before the lines ‘Is it all in my head? Because I can't tell. Is it all in my head? Because I can't fucking tell anymore.’ are repeated over and over. This makes Fifteen more than just good. I imagine this will be equal parts amazing and emotional to watch played live.

The pace picks up a little for Gaps with another melodic guitar introduction. At first glance, or listen I suppose, this song sounds like another downcast tune but I think that that’s not necessarily all there is to it. Gaps is about having someone that you love more than anything, despite how much of a struggle it is and despite how difficult it might feel sometimes. Even though there are ‘gaps’ in a person’s personality or a relationships compatibility, that’s okay because there’s no such thing as perfect. ‘It's complicated but I love you, every part that's still intact and the devil in your gaps.’ Horror is the penultimate track on Reservoirs and it is a powerful and honest song about dealing with anxiety. I imagine that writing this song was a form of release from all of these negative feelings that you can have when dealing with any sort of mental health problem. It is easy to nod your head along to this song with its rhythmic guitars and pounding drums and get lost in the music but I think you’ve really got to listen closely to the lyrics (or read them on Bandcamp, as I’ve done!) to fully connect with this song. The last line of the song is one that fully deserves to be spread far and wide – ‘Sometimes to get better you've got to get worse first.’. The last song, Cave, begins with a fair amount of reverb, giving the song an echoey and dream-like feel. This song closes the EP in much of the same vein as that which came before it. But that’s not to say that it sounds exactly the same as the previous four tracks. It certainly sounds like an album or set closer for one thing. Cave also helps to bring Reservoirs full circle, using the line ‘We are caged animals down here, waiting to die.’ to link up with the first song on the EP. 

Reservoirs is a pretty heavy going EP emotionally, and musically as well in parts, but that does not mean that it does not deserve your attention. On the contrary it is songs that deal with these difficult sort of subjects that need to be heard more so than songs about drinking or partying or whatever, especially when so many people struggle with mental illness. Myelin deserve yours ears.

You can download and stream Reservoirs on Bandcamp and find Myelin on Facebook. Facebook is also where you’ll find details of the EP release show happening in London on 17th of August, featuring full band Sam Russo as well. What a treat!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Album Review: Adult Braces by No Trigger (by Robyn Pierce)

It’s always a special day when No Trigger brings out some new music. I’ve really grown to love this five-piece melodic hardcore band from Massachusetts, but they can leave fans a little starved for new music (the six year wait between Canyoneer and Tycoon was so.damn.long.) While we don’t have another full-length album yet, No Trigger have just released a 4-track EP entitled Adult Braces out on Bird Attack Records. No Trigger’s previous EP (Be, Honest) came out right at the end of 2010, less than a year and a half before Tycoon was released in 2012, as a between-albums snack to keep fans going; so, I hope that’s what is happening here and we can expect to have even more music from these guys in the next little while. Right now, the question is whether the new EP measures up to the quality of No Trigger’s previous releases.

The first song off of Adult Braces that the band put out was ‘Dogs on Acid’, which came a little earlier than the full release with a goofy and slightly trippy music video. It starts, perhaps not so strangely, with some acoustic guitar. Despite being pretty fast and loud, No Trigger is adept at slipping some softer moments into their songs to really great effect (it is the tender guitar ringing out at the end of ‘The Honshu Underground’ that makes that song so damn perfect). It’s not long before ‘Dogs on Acid’ bursts open with Tom Rheault’s familiar vocals and some exhilarating guitar. When I first listened to this, I clicked the link on Facebook where someone had written in the comments that this new song was “worth the wait”. Although this seemed like a painfully predictable response, it is 100% correct. ‘Dogs on Acid’ has all of the pounding melody you’d want in a No Trigger song, and Tom’s vocals are complete perfection. I’ve since found out that Adult Braces is produced by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore of The Blasting Room, who also produced Canyoneer – arguably No Trigger’s best album, and so many other awesome albums that CPRW should probably do a Blasting Room top ten (if we haven’t already/if it’s even possible).

First up on the full release is ‘Sleeping Bags’, which opens with a few stirring chords before sliding into a fast-paced verse and chorus. Like ‘Dogs on Acid’, this song sits so well with everything else that No Trigger has already produced, but it doesn’t feel tired or boring. I found myself dancing along to the chorus almost immediately, and it’ll make for a great singalong at live shows too. The second track, ‘Holy Punks’, keeps up the energy with a narrative-style song about getting thrust into adulthood and making the most of it. I love everything happening with Tom’s vocals on this track. The backing reverb on the refrain “We’re all just holy punks in a burning church” is scrumptious. Then, on Adult Braces’ last song ‘Hyperaware’ you can hear why No Trigger has sometimes been compared to A Wilhelm Scream. Despite being quite long, it’s hard and fast – gradually building and ending the EP with some furious chanting.

As a long time No Trigger fan, I’m more than satisfied with this latest offering; I really just wish there were more songs on this EP. If you’ve never listened to No Trigger before, Adult Braces would serve as a great introduction (and, if you like melodic hardcore, you really should check them out!). If you’re a fan, you’ve probably already listened to this EP multiple times because you’ve been waiting FOREVER for some new music from No Trigger. As expected, it’s worth the wait.

Stream and download Adult Braces here:

Like No Trigger here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Album Review: No Solidarity by The Over Everythings (by Dan Peters)

New school pop punk done good.

I’m not too sure when I first came across The Over Everythings but it’s a happy mystery I’m glad occurred. As far as I can tell, I stumbled across them as a fledgling pre gigging band back in 2015 and decided I’d keep my beady eye on them.

Almost exactly two years later, I sit with No Solidarity in my lap and it seems like the guys have been busy perfecting their craft. The debut album of these Hertfordshire pop punkers is a polished and fine tuned thing and adds to the fact that the last few months have been a landslide of incredible punk rock.

No Solidarity opens to the decidedly heavy and blisteringly fast Union. Everything that sets off my great band radar is present from the get go. Heavy riffs, double time drumming and gorgeous vocal harmonies all wrapped around a frenetic but coherent song structure.

The Over Everythings strike me as a band that would fit so perfectly on a late 90s punk bill. I could see them fitting right into a gig with Captain Everything, 4ft Fingers and Caffiene. It’s that brand of tongue in cheek fast skate/pop punk that was pretty prevalent back in the day and it’s seeing a resurgence amongst bands like On A Hiding To Nothing and Captain Trips too. There are touches of heavy riffage in places but nothing so involved as the Melodic Hardcore crew and although the vocals are perfectly coiffed and the harmonies are crisp and tight they aren’t too overboard or overproduced like the new school pop punkers.

Instead The Over Everythings have carved themselves out a niche as something original in style and flavour whilst also remaining accessible to a huge range of tastes, a job many try and fail at.

Stand out tracks on the album were Medicate And Move On which is an instantly catchy tune and sounds like single material, Shrapnel which is fast yet melodic and has an incredible Fat Wreck feel and Blue Nightmare which is my personal favourite for being as close as you could ask to an MxPx song.

All in all No Solidarity shows a band that were good to start with who have perfected and honed what they do into the best possible package for us all to consume. You may have noticed I have deliberately name dropped several bands and styles into this review. If any single one of these strikes a chord with you then I am 100% certain there is something for you here for you to love.

Stream and download No Solidarity here:

Like The Over Everythings here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Future Classic: London by Apologies, I Have None

Today we are continuing our Future Classics series. This nomination is for what I believe is the best UK punk album of the last decade. It's an album that brought me back to UK punk rock after a few years of solely listening to American punk music. I'm trying to write a long winded introduction that leaves you in suspense about what album I'm talking about but now I'm thinking what is the point? You're reading this column so therefore you've probably read the massive title at the top of the screen. If not you can probably see the artwork below this paragraph. If you've done neither of these things then the album that I think is a Future Classic is London by Apologies, I Have None.

Apologies, I Have None formed as a guitar and drum two piece featuring Josh McKenzie and Dan Bond in the early 2000s. During the early stage of their career they released a handful of EPs and eventually grew into a full band with Josh and Dan both taking guitar and vocal duties, while they were joined by Joe Watson on drums and PJ Shepherd on bass. This was the band's line up when they released London in 2012.

London was self released on CD by the band and the brilliant London based record label Household Name handled the vinyl release. It was also later put out in Germany by Uncle M Music.

Now being a full band, the Apologies sound grew from an acoustic almost folk style punk rock to more of a melodic sing-a-long style and I think this style is why the album is so universally loved. It's accessible to anyone. It doesn't fall into the fast, shouty, super aggressive genre of punk rock but it's also not so poppy and cheery that it would put off the most diehard of punk rock fans. It's fantastically played punk rock that you can shout along with at the top of your voice. That seems to be the way that punk music has grown over the years. It's not just 1000mph three chord punk rock with snarling and snotty vocals. Punk rock has morphed into expert musicians playing these songs that can move people, teach them things and help them grow. London ticks all of those boxes.

Lyrically the ten songs on London tackle a whole range of subject matter but also fall under the universal topic of what it's like living in London. Subjects tackled include learning from your mistakes, growing as a person, getting through bad times, dealing with mental health and blaming others for your own wrong-doings.

London features two of my all time favourite lyrics. The first of which is in the second track, Sat In Vicky Park - "The Worst Mistake To Make Is To Be Afraid To Make Mistakes, And I Can't Believe This Took So Long To Learn, It Should Be So Obvious, Like A Man Cannot Be Measured By The Number Of People He's Fucked, Like Numbers On A Payslip Are No Indication Of Worth" and in the fourth song Concrete Feet - "You'll Always Make Mistakes, You'll Always Fuck Shit Up, You Will Sometimes Make Bad Choices And Blame That Shit On Bad Luck, You Will Often Face Decisions That You Do Not Want To Make, And You'll Find Yourselves On Paths That You Did Not Mean To Take, There Is Always An Answer, There Is Always A Lesson, A Lining Of Silver Around Every Situation, And Asking For Help Is Not The Same Thing As Failing." These are my two personal favourite lyrics but the album is jam packed with more great ones.

I always think an album should be judged on how great it sounds live as well as on record. London live probably eclipses London recorded. Being in a room with sweaty like minded individuals belting out these songs like our lives depend on it. Even five years later singing along to any of these songs, though they don't play half of this album anymore since Dan left the band, still has an extremely cathartic and gratifying experience. Since London's release, Apologies have released the EP Black Everything and the album Pharmacie, which are both incredible releases, but it's still the tracks from London that get the biggest reactions. They are timeless.

This is why I consider London by Apologies, I Have None to be a future classic. An album that when people talk about defining albums of this generation of punk rock will be mentioned a lot.

Stream and download London here:

Like Apologies, I Have None here:

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Top Tens: Kurt from Sounds Of Swami's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Kurt from Sounds of Swami’s Top Ten Punk Rock Influences… in alphabetical order.

At The Drive-In
Like most noughties teenagers, I was drowning in a swirling pool of baggy pants, back to front caps and wallet chains with the sound of Limp Bizkit and Staind blaring at every house party I stumbled into. Seeing the DIY video for ‘One Armed Scissor’ on MTV2 from Relationship of Command kept me afloat through all that; then came the purchase of In/Casino/Out and Vaya. No one does chaos like ATDI. We’ve been trying to rip them off ever since.

Since falling in love with Fugazi, I made a conscious effort to hear literally every band on Dischord Records (you really should check out Evens, Hoover, Jawbox, Nation of Ulysses, Scream and Q and not U for starters!) and Bluetip were like nothing I’d heard before. Punk N Roll before Punk N Roll with intelligent lyrics, interweaving guitars and someone that could actually sing. I’ve always how big they sounded with stripped back production (J. Robbins!) Compression isn’t everything…

Dead Kennedys
Like all bands, we’ve transcended through lots of influences and styles but without Dead Kennedys, we wouldn’t be the noise factory we are today. We’d all been through (and still love!) the likes of Sex Pistols, Ramones, Minor Threat et al… but Dead Kennedys were the band that made us realise that you can push the boundaries of the punk sound and still be classified as punk (whatever that means). On Fresh Fruit’, it was Jello Biafra’s theatrical performances and satirical lyrics and East Bay Ray’s delayed discordant guitar playing that set us up from the start.

Drive Like Jehu
No videos, no singles, no bullshit. They released two of the finest noisy punk rock records ever committed to tape and then split up. Much like a lot of the bands in this list, their brand of locked-in bass and drums provided an open landscape for two guitars to play absolutely anything over them. From dissonant noise to clean melodies, the twin guitar interplay is still mesmerizing to me. A couple of years ago I had tickets to see them until ATP fucked that up. Still hurts.

I could sit here and talk about Fugazi all day (the ‘End Hits is such an underrated album’ conversation has killed more than one party) but I’d say overall, they are our biggest influence… although I wouldn’t say we sound like them all that much. Fugazi really hit home that the song is all about the performance both on a stage and in the studio. Because of their manic live shows, they found it hard to capture their intensity in the studio… so they’d just do it live for the most part. Both our albums have been recorded mostly live with the most recent straight to tape. It’s all in the performance.

Hot Snakes
The band that followed Drive Like Jehu. When I first moved out of home, I moved to Leeds and spent my entire student load on drinking and buying records. I went straight to Jumbo Records and bought their third and final album (they’re recording a new one right now!) Audit In Progress on clear Red vinyl. What a revelation and what a record. The rhythms and quirky subject matter grabbed me instantly. Not to mention, it’s where we got our name. I listened to side one, flipped it over and there it was: Swami Records. Cool name for a band… but someone had it already so we added the ‘Sounds of’ part… still not as good!

There must be something in air in Seattle. The Sonics, Green River, Melvins… to many they won’t be seen as punk but to me, it’s all there in the attitude. Its the same with Nirvana; proud devotees of punk wearing the likes of the Wipers, Stooges and Flipper on their sleeves. However we go about it, a big chorus usually comes into play when we’re writing and it comes from Nirvana. The ‘grunge' sound looms heavy and that’s just fine.
There’s a formula emerging before my eyes; punk bands that push the sonic boundaries of punk. It’s fair to say that we all danced to New Noise in clubs years before buying The Shape of Punk To Come. One thing that is annoying about our music is that you can’t dance to it (maybe we should strive to rip Fugazi off a little more) but with the bulk of Refused’s third album, you could. Punk, Jazz, Metal, programmed Beats… and why not.

I’m not sure Reuben really falls into the punk category but you’ve got to give it to them for achieving what they did in a mostly DIY fashion. I love early punk and I love the many mutated angles it’s evolved into. You can see the clear evolution though Reuben’s three albums and it’s final magnum opus In Nothing We Trust has been blaring in our van for years whilst on tour. The intended raw production and genre defying music is something we took with us into the recording of Furniture For Modern Living.

SlintAdmittedly I’d heard about Spiderland for years but I didn’t buy it until I found a secondhand CD in a charity shop about 5 years ago. Their first album Tweez was very much of the Touch and Go / Jesus Lizard ilk but by the time they’d arrived at Spiderland, they’d turned their attention to a style of playing that was anything but that. A lesson in dynamics and story telling; they took the extremes to the extreme. Despite it’s dark and emotionally draining character, I’ve found that it’s the only album I own that I can listen to whatever mood I’m in. Spiderland had a huge effect on our new album.

Pre-order Sounds Of Swami's new album Furniture For Moder Living here: