Thursday, 17 October 2019

Gig Review: Just Say Nay’s Maximum Effort Album Release Show at New Cross Inn, London 11/10/19

Recently I posted my review of London ska punks Just Say Nay's incredible debut album Maximum Effort. The album was officially released on Friday October 11th. To celebrate, the band, with the help of Be Sharp Promotions, had a launch party at the New Cross Inn. To help celebrate, the band asked long time friends Triple Sundae, King Punch and Lucias from Call Me Malcolm to support. It was shaping up to be a very memorable night!

Fresh from finishing a tour with The Slackers the night earlier, Lucias Malcolm took to the New Cross stage to start the evening off. This was a rare acoustic performance for Lucias and one that I was rather looking forward to. It was nice to see a sizeable crowd gathered early, eager to see him. Playing stripped back songs taken from Call Me Malcolm's wonderful I Was Broken When You Got Here, the set was full of big sing-alongs – including the brass parts being sung loudly back at the stage. It was really a great experience hearing so many songs that I love played in a different manner. More acoustic shows please, Lucias.

Next to take to the stage were Triple Sundae. These melodic pop punks might have looked like a bit of an odd choice for support at a ska punk show if you're unaware of the history between the two bands but both bands are born out of the South London New Cross scene and JSN's Dave was a former member of Triple Sundae in their early incarnations. I was excited to see Triple Sundae as it would be my first time since they released their fantastic new EP Glow. This was also Triple Sundae's first London show since they returned from a small tour of Canada at the end of the summer. The band got a great reception from the quickly expanding New Cross Inn crowd and deservedly so as this was the best I've seen them. This was my tenth time seeing the band and I'm pretty sure I've said that every single time – they just get better and better. There's a growing confidence in their stage presence and they just look like their having the most amount of fun on stage whenever they play. I think this applies to lead singer and guitarist Hassan in particular. Off stage he's quite reserved and laid back but on stage and playing these songs he’s never looked happier. I always enjoy Mike's pop punk jumps as well. 2019 has been a big year for Triple Sundae and I only expect 2020 to be even bigger.

When we had arrived at New Cross earlier in the evening, we had discovered that King Punch would actually be playing an after party set so up next was the main event. The New Cross Inn was now completely full to see Just Say Nay play Maximum Effort in full alongside some old favourites. If you don't already know, Just Say Nay are a nine piece so at times squeezing them all on stage can be a bit of a logistical nightmare (pun very much intended). To make a little bit more room for himself, bass master Leo placed a stool next to the stage and proceeded to play the set with one foot on the stage and the other on the stool. That's the sort of nonsense you get at a DIY show. From the moment they started their set, Just Say Nay just blew everyone in the room away. It was clear that a lot of people in the room had been listening to Maximum Effort during the day as each song got superb receptions. There was so much love and excitement around the room during the set, I'm not sure I've been to many gigs ever with a more positive and uplifting attitude. I'm always amazed by how energetic Just Say Nay manage to be on stage, given how little room that have. They find a way though and their energy quickly projected into the crowd. The room was skanking immediately and it wasn't long before there was a constant stream of crowdsurfers. Midway through the set, things got emotional as the band took a moment to remember their good friend Mike Crampton who sadly passed away in 2017. Luke May, a friend of the band, joined them on stage to perform his poem Two Empty Glasses which appears on Maximum Effort before the band jumped into their own tribute to Mike – the absolute banger that is Don't Let The Coffee Grind You Down. Highlights of the set for me were With A Twist Of Lemon, the song where trombone player Mikey T gets the crowd to yodel/chant/shout along with him. Normally at this stage, Mikey takes on the role of a preacher character but for this occasion he was his humble self and asked the crowd if they would crowd surf him during the song as he's always wanted to. Of course, the crowd obliged and it created an awesome spectacle. Other highlights for me were Butterfingers (which is surely going to be a single at some point?), Techno Guilt and the classic Low Blow where I accidentally ran into the pit, forgetting how ruined my wrist currently is (Whoops!). The absolute highlight was their final song, Kuromouri. The song is an eight minute long epic that I've been really excited to hear live since I first got to hear it on a promo copy of Maximum Effort. I was absolutely astonished by this performance – it was amazing. I wish I had better words to really explain just what a moment it was. I'm not sure how often the band will play it live as it is so long but I do hope they are able to bust it out on regular occasions. During their own set, King Punch took the time to say how this was the very best version of Just Say Nay they had ever seen and I'm sure the whole room will agree with that sentiment. If you haven't checked out Maximum Effort yet, get on with it!

I can't think of many bands in the New Cross scene better to play an after party set than King Punch. The band are always so full of energy and charisma and never fail to get a crowd moving. Unfortunately, the night was running a little behind schedule so we had to miss out on some of their set but had thoroughly enjoyable times dancing to King Punch originals such as Wishbone and Sit Still as well as covers of Walking On Sunshine and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). I had a wonderful time dancing along to a band who are quickly becoming one of my favourites to see live. Later in the night, I saw online that the band had got a massive conga line going after we had left that even exited the venue and made its way into the rainy street.

This was a superb night of music spent with wonderful people. When I look back on 2019, it will definitely rank among by favourites of the year. Particularly as that Just Say Nay set where they really announced themselves as one of the leading bands in the scene. I can see Maximum Effort taking them to some very big and exciting things in the coming year. Thanks for a great night JSN!

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

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Bands She’d See At The Fest 18, If She Was Going To Fest 18

As you can probably gather from the title of this top ten, I am sadly not going to The Fest this year but that doesn’t stop me from listening to plenty of the bands on the line-up. I’ve decided to write about the top ten bands I would go and see, if I was going to Fest this year. I’ve chosen ten bands that I’ve never seen live before and, conveniently, none of my picks clash!

Okay, before we get into this, I realise that I’ve managed to pick only one ‘international’ band that’s playing The Fest this year for which I apologise but, given that I don’t live in the States, that kind of makes sense. (See the end of this post for a further note about international bands.)

Lone Wolf (Friday at High Dive 22:00–22:30)
First up we have said international band – Lone Wolf from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I first became aware of this foursome when I spotted their debut self-titled album in All Ages Records, Camden. It has a wolf on the cover and wolves are one of my favourite animals so obviously I was intrigued. Lone Wolf play catchy, melodic tunes featuring some excellent dual vocals from Merel and Ox. Their second album, Together Alone, which came out two weeks ago, is definitely worth your time. (Full review of said album coming soon!)

Big Nothing (Friday at The Wooly 23:20–23:50)
Big Nothing, a four-piece from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently played their first UK tour… and I ‘discovered’ them a couple of days after the London date thanks to their album Chris popping up on Colin’s mega 2019 playlist. I should have found out about them sooner given that they have a familiar face in the band in the form of Pat Graham from Spraynard but, alas, I did not. Big Nothing play big fuzzy indie punk and, like Lone Wolf, also feature some killer dual vocals from Liz Parsons alongside Pat.

Cold Wrecks (Saturday at Boca Fiesta 13:20–13:50)
I may have mentioned it once or twice already but This Could Be Okay by Cold Wrecks is quite possibly my album of the year. If you’re not familiar with the band, they are from Brooklyn, New York, and play a perfect blend of emotional pop punk – music that is highly singalong-able that also gives you all of the feels. In my review of the aforementioned album, I said something along the lines of ‘Sorry, Spanish Love Songs, Cold Wrecks are my new favourite band’ and they are probably the band I am most gutted to not be seeing at Fest.

Nightmarathons (Saturday at Boca Fiesta 14:10–14:40)
I have to be honest, I knew the name Nightmarathons but until writing this list I knew next to nothing about this band. When we were looking at the line-up however, Colin pointed out that they were one of those bands where I always said ‘I like this, who is this?’ when a song of theirs is playing – I had their album Missing Parts on my ‘New For Prew’ playlist earlier in the year. Nightmarathons are from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and play melodic punk rock with post-punk and emo influences that shine through. 

Devon Kay & The Solutions (Saturday at CMC Paper + Plastik Showcase 16:40–17:10)
Devon Kay may be most well-known as the guitarist of Direct Hit! but Devon Kay & The Solutions, based in Chicago, Illinois, are a six-piece who play the most wonderfully eclectic brand of punk rock. On their last album, Yes I Can’t, alone the songs range from jangly power pop, to vibrant folk and ska punk. It’s a whole lot of fun musically but also features some  relatable lyrical content that will make you think as well as dance. Rerelocating is one of my favourite songs of the year.

The Eradicator (Saturday at The Wooly 21:10–21:40)
Also from Chicago, The Eradicator is an artist that I figured everyone needs to experience at some point. Sometimes solo and sometimes backed by a mixed cast of backing members, The Eradicator play aggressive punk rock songs that are quite often about squash (the sport, not the vegetable or drink). I imagine a live performance to be as absurd as that description sounds but also to be heaps of fun. Plus, I just really want to scream along to I’m A Squash Man!

Worriers (Saturday at 8 Seconds 23:20–00:10)
It feels well overdue time to see Worriers live, having missed them the times they’ve been to the UK in the past. The Brooklyn, New York, band whose music centres around the songwriting of Lauren Denitzio alongside friends including Mikey Erg, Lou Hanman and Nick Psillas play melodic punk rock. Their 2018 album, Survival Pop, was so, so good and I know the band have finished recording the follow-up. I’m not sure if it’s due out this year or not but, either way, I’m keen.  

Telethon (Sunday at Hardback Cafe 12:30–13:00)
Another of my favourite discoveries this year, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, based five-piece Telethon released an absolutely brilliant album called Hard Pop in June. It, and the band in general, are difficult to describe in a single genre but that’s just one reason why I love them – their songs are so varied, there’s got to be something for everyone in a Telethon live set. They’re playing early on the last day of Fest but I reckon there will be a lot of people battling through hangovers to make sure they see this band play. 

Ramona (Sunday at High Dive 18:50–19:20)
Colin reviewed Ramona’s Red Scare debut Deals, Deals, Deals! earlier this year and it has understandably been on a lot at CPRW HQ – we both love it. The Philly via Seattle, trio play catchy and energetic indie pop punk songs that are equal parts sad and cathartic. We’d love nothing more than to see the band live and sing along with some of our favourite songs from the record. Also, from what I’ve seen on YouTube, Ramona seem like a damn good live band.

Rebuilder (Sunday at Downtown Fats 01:10–01:40)
Closing the whole damn festival (and partly clashing with my equally beloved Überyou) are Boston, Massachusetts, foursome Rebuilder. I wrote about Rebuilder last year in a sort of bucket list of bands I’d really love to see live (which you can check out here) and also reviewed their 2017 EP Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike EP. The EP, quite frankly, blew me away and made me a big fan. I have since tweeted them many times asking when they’re coming over to the UK. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future but I think watching them at The Fest would be ten times better anyway. 

Finally, my special mentions go to New Junk City, Spanish Love Songs and Überyou, all of whom I have seen before but would absolutely love to see again. I was also going to list some of the UK/European bands that I’d personally recommend (other than Lone Wolf and Überyou, who are from Switzerland) but Colin has a post specifically about just that coming next week so I’ll leave it to him! And if you are going to The Fest this year, have an amazing time – I won’t be at all jealous of your photos and videos on Instagram…

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Album Review: Thoughts And Prayers by Good Riddance (by Richard Mair)

The Santa Cruz melodic hardcore stalwarts love a good quote to provide context to their music. These can often be categorised in two groups – political speeches such as the raging Mario Savio socialist diatribe that appears before “Article IV” or the relevant and poignant Martin Luther King Jrs Poverty of the Soul speech that links to “Shadows Of Defeat”.

The other camp is film quotes such as Some Kind Of Wonderful’s “show me the money Keith” ahead of “Heresay, Hypocrisy and Revenge”. Thoughts And Prayers, the 9th studio album by Good Riddance, opens with arguably one of Michael Douglas’ most iconic quotes from the loathsome Wall Street capitalist Gordon Gekko. Whilst not as obvious as “Greed is good”, the rationale behind the used excerpt is very much of our time – its argument that big business is the new political class and the fact that they control so much of our world; capitalism on steroids and success at any cost is so relevant that you forget that the film it’s taken from is 32 years old!

Consequently, in introducing “Thoughts And Prayers” in this way you instantly realise that Russ Rankin and co have lost none of their vitriol as they explode into “Edmund Pettus Bridge” (a US landmark in Alabama which is named after a confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and the site of the ruthless beatings by police on civil rights activists on Bloody Sunday). That GR have named the first song on the album after one of the most important events in the civil rights movement after the Gordon Gekko quote is not lost – consider how many left behind communities in both the UK and USA are largely dominated by minority groups, the reference that white authoritarian capitalism is holding people back is explicit. It’s also a pummelling statement of intent!

So where to start with the music? It’s Good Riddance so it’s fast and melodic punk, punctuated by some heavier parts and fist in the air sing-a-long moments that are politically and socially motivated; and let’s be honest few bands have had the impact and success of delivering this skate punk / melodic hardcore blend as this band, and “Thoughts And Prayers” doesn’t deviate from this approach at all. Personally that’s a good thing as across their career they have been one of the most consistently brilliant bands around; never compromising on quality and always with something interesting and relevant to say.

Whilst GR have always delivered on the hardcore bangers (and this album is no exception) the melodic moments on Thoughts And Prayers are stunning. The three mid-album songs “Wish You Well”, “Precariat” and “No King But Caesar” are truly excellent and a masterclass in how to put together an album to keep your interest. The first of the three is a slow burner, vocally driven, with some excellent pieces of guitar work punctuating the verses before an uplifting chorus. “Precariat” is a straight up fast melodic pop-punk tune; quite light and airy, it releases some of the angst and anger contained within the album (lyrically it remains on point for GR). Whilst the final one of the trio “No King But Caesar” is a song of thirds; a rhythmic introduction led by a great riff and equally excellent drumming before exploding into a typical melodic hardcore song, finally closing with an anthemic melodic refrain. This is Good Riddance at their best, cramming so much high quality content into 2:30 minutes.

The more straight forward songs are also excellent. “Rapture” is such a stereotypical Good Riddance song where the drumming of Sean Sellers really stands out. “Don’t Have Time” is reminiscent of one of my favourite GR songs “Stand”; albeit lacking the special hook that elevates the classic of yesteryear. Whilst “Who We Are” is just a classic sounding GR song; everything about it is quintessentially what you want from a GR song – take the lovely guitar line that overlays the verses to the clarity of the vocals and building to a satisfying ending; in one word it’s ‘textbook’!

The closing stages of the album help solidify it as a high point in their back catalogue. “Pox Americana” is another ‘fun’ song whilst “Lo Que Sucede” with its Spanish verses is possibly the darkest song on the album (whether that’s because of my limited understanding of Spanish I’m unsure), it’s arguably the one that carries the most sinister edge, building to an explosive conclusion. “Requisite Catastrophes” is a brilliant way to close the album; its hopeful, uplifting music at odds with the lyrics at times which talk of being suppressed and of materialistic consumerism but at the same time a positivity also speaks of change.

As a band who I feel have never disappointed, and some 25 years into their career, it’s amazing that Good Riddance can still produce something as relevant and essential today as they could back in the mid-90s. The case in point is “No Safe Space” – on first impressions it’s a really quiet, almost ballad-esque song. Yet with the squealing guitars, shotgun drumming and excellent lyrical content you have one of the single best songs released this year.

So this, their 9th album, will certainly not win awards for reinvention but will hopefully win over some new fans. It’s arguably their most accessible album but, at the same time, I personally think it’s one of their best since 1996’s “Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion”; which let’s face it is a landmark album and easily in my top 10 of all time. Recent years have seen so many iconic and important bands rediscovering their mojo and, whilst I don’t think GR ever lost theirs, this is easily an essential long player to add to your collections! Welcome back Russ and the boys!

Stream and download Thoughts And Prayers here:

Like Good Riddance here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Album Review: Redefining Home by Little Teeth

Little Teeth is a new band fronted by Arliss Nancy's Cory Call. A few years ago Cory moved to Germany and formed a band with Jason S. Thompson (The Sky We Scrape), Max Phillip (Captain Asshole) and Bastian Wegner. The four piece have been hard at work crafting their debut album Redefining Home which was released last month through Gunner Records and Say-10 Records. After catching part of their set at Booze Cruise in July, I was seriously looking forward to checking the album out.

Redefining Home starts with One Hotel Room. As all album openers should do, it really lays down a marker of what to expect – mid-tempo Americana-inspired punk rock with Call's distinctive raspy vocals leading the way. There's a really warm tone to the Little Teeth sound, making you feel welcome and reminding you of an old friend. I'm instantly on board with the album. Atlanticism is a slightly more up-tempo track that caught my attention immediately. Not only do Little Teeth up the tempo but the track is ridiculously catchy and it will become ingrained in your head before you even realise it. I really loved the addition of the harmonies on the track, it just takes the song up another level. These harmonies are a little subtle so they add to the song without taking anything away from Call's vocals. The first thing that struck me about the third song, Avondale, was how big it sounds. The song has this brilliant anthemic quality that makes it equally easy to imagine it being played in a big arena or in a tiny, sweaty basement – in both settings the crowd will sing the words back passionately at the band. Avondale is a bit of a mushy love song. It talks about living life to the absolute fullest with the person you're in love with, as there's so much to experience and so little time to do it.

Thinning Out is a song about friendship. It's about going to gigs and connecting with people that help you see a light at the end of a dark tunnel. This is something I'm certain the majority of people reading this will relate to in some way. As one of the strongest songs on Redefining Home, it's the sort of song that is great to sing along to with all of your gig pals. I really enjoyed the trade off between Call singing a line solo and then the band repeating the line with some great gang vocals. It sounds awesome. Sixteen Candles was a stand out song on my first listen of Redefining Home. It was the line "All I know, nothing ever mattered but these basement shows. Alone and getting hammered with the friends who chose music as a better way to make our way out of the fire." The song is about the power of music for perhaps the briefest of moments, how it can make you feel alive and forget about all the bad things that are happening in your life. Another extremely relatable theme. There's something special about those nights spent with your own bunch of misfits singing along to your favourite songs that can make everything seem better and it's something I'm personally eternally grateful for.

Bender was released as a single before Redefining Home. This was a great choice as it showcases many of the great things about Little Teeth. It's a hook filled and catchy mid-tempo song with introspective lyrics, a great chorus and some great harmonies. A particular highlight of the song for me was the breakdown that then builds up to a spectacular conclusion to the song. The seventh song, Amphetamine, looks at abusing alcohol and drugs to get through hard times before meeting someone who helps you move away from those life choices. It's a really uplifting and life affirming track that ends on a lovely positive note. It's good for people to hear there is sometimes a way out of your darkest moments. Pillow Cases starts out with a generally heavier tone with some pounding drums opening the song up. It's fitting as the opening lyrics of the song are "Oh dark and deadly bleak and miserable night." Despite the heavier tone this is still unmistakably Little Teeth, displaying all we've come to expect from them so far whilst also showing a moodier side to the band. I was impressed with the range Call shows with his gravelly vocal on the song. Expertly switching between moody and hopeful.

The ninth song is titled Drunk Apostles. Drunk Apostles is perhaps my favourite track on Redefining Home. Really upping the tempo, the song is filled with this beautiful and infectious energy that I really loved. The track starts slowly, gradually building towards the pop-like melody that quickly hooked me in. It's about how the people you meet on tour can inspire you and give you hope when all seems lost. There's an autobiographical feel to the track as Cory recounts a tour with Makewar (which I went to the London show of) and how that lead him onto the right path. I adore when the chorus hits – it's sung with such a passion and urgency. The penultimate song on Redefining Home is Sleep Better. Bringing the pace back down slightly, this is a track heavy on gang vocals and harmonies – two of my favourite things. This gives the track a great feeling of inclusiveness that invited you to sing along with the song. There is another positive feel to the song as Call sings about finding a way to ease his mind and sleep better. Last up is Western Skies. I immediately loved that this feels like a final track. The way in which it builds up at the start gives you the immediate feeling that it's going to be a big ending to Redefining Home. The song doesn’t stray far from the Little Teeth sound but everything sounds like it's been turned up a notch. Western Skies tackles the theme of separation but always managing to find your way back to someone. A fine song to finish a fine album.

Redefining Home is as good as you would expect from a band featuring such talented songwriters and musicians. There's a definite crossover appeal for plenty of different genres that fall under the rock 'n' roll banner. Whether it's punk, Americana or even indie, I can see plenty of people getting on board with Little Teeth.

Stream and download Redefining Home here:

Like Little Teeth here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Album Review: Death Is Death by EAT DIRT. (by Richard Mair)

London based EAT DIRT. have been making waves in the scene since their inception a couple of years ago, and only enhanced their reputation with two excellent EPs prior to unleashing their debut album “Death Is Death” which will inevitably take them further outside of their South East homeland. Melding visceral, angry and defiant vocals and lyrics with a melting pot of punk and hardcore influences, “Death Is Death” is arguably the most schizophrenic album you’ll hear this year; but with good reason. It’s not a hardcore album nor is it a punk album, it’s pitched perfectly in the line between the two sounds; combining the best of say Cancer Bats or Death by Stereo with The Hives, yet at the same time sounding nothing like these bands.

Clocking in at 25 minutes for 14 songs should give some indication as to its brevity and speed. EAT DIRT. don’t do epics; instead just 4 of the songs clock over 2 minutes. This isn’t a case of quantity over quality though as the standard across the album is high and none of the songs in any way feel like fillers.

Lyrically the album is typical of late 90s or early 00s hardcore (I’ll fight anyone that doesn’t agree that Indecision / Initial / Revelation Records / Bridge Nine are responsible for creating the greatest era of hardcore). Given my love for the bands of this time, having something new yet that feels nostalgic back to this time is brilliant. Opening track “Make Peace” could easily find itself on a sampler from this era. It’s a great introduction to the band and the album; the heavy shotgun style drumming a real statement of intent. It’s a proper hardcore song which is followed by a more punk tune in “Worms Of The Earth”, which barely reaches the minute mark despite it following a typical song structure of verse-chorus-verse. Both songs work well next to each other to introduce the album and its themes.

Showing they can mix it up, third track “Come And See” is more of a slow burner and whilst the bulk of the song is pretty epic it’s the closing stages which really elevate it; the frantic shouting of “The devil and God are raging in me” is a real crowd pleaser. This ability to mix things up is also apparent on the track that follows; “Moribund”, which has a melodic edge that is more reminiscent of skate punk than hardcore, again it’s a curveball that pays off big style.

The album’s title track “Death Is Death” is a straight up hardcore bruiser that doesn’t even make 1:40. It’s a cracking tune and its circle pit inducing credentials are apparent for all to hear. “Punk Rock Con” is an excellent nostalgia driven song; and by this I mean it reminds me so much of the aforementioned early Bridge9 / Indecision / Initial bands (particularly Breathe In) in that its simplicity, musicality and driving beats will transport you back to the hardcore heydays.

It’s not all straight up hardcore belters on the album, straddling the line between punk and hardcore their more punk leanings come to the fore with tracks such as “Night Terrors”, ” The Beast” and “Bones”. Taking “The Beast” for example, it’s a tune evoking the spirit of The Hives at their most brattish. At the middle of the album, it’s a great pacing decision. In addition, the melodic elements of both “Night Terrors” and “Bones” are real standout moments of the album; again highlighting the band’s ability to turn traditional hardcore tropes on their heads. Finally the guitar work on “Bones” is brilliant; containing the closest thing to a solo on the album and is reminiscent of the metal tinged approach of latter day Death By Stereo.

The closing stages of the album pick up the pace again. “Spend Your Life” with its whoa-whoas is another brilliant song designed to get fists in the air as it talks of the traditional hardcore values of “breaking chains” and “standing up for yourself”.

Closing track “Pull Out” pulls strands of everything that has gone before into a stunning culmination of the bands efforts; bringing an end to proceedings with a brief sing-a-long punk rock song.

Eat Dirt are not the most innovative boundary pushing band. Personally I don’t think they set out to be the next La Dispute but what they have achieved is to deliver a real bombastic, fun, angry and ultimately essential slab of British hardcore. It’s an album you can put on and listen to over and over with ease, the brevity of the songs keeping it interesting and their ability to deliver all the essential hardcore elements in a variety of ways makes for an album that never outstays its welcome. Much like the now iconic (and CPRW faves) Drug Church, if you’re looking for something to listen to that’s more edgy and hardcore than your typical pop-punk fare this could be the release for you.

One final thing to recommend the album is the artwork. I’m a sucker for good art and often feel that if done well can really help set a release apart. The work of Ben Mills (who also happens to be a member of the band) is stunning; I might even go as far to say have we got a British Lubrano on our hands – here is hoping future releases draw on those artistic skills!

Stream and download Death Is Death here:

Like EAT DIRT. here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Gig Review: The Slackers at Esquires, Bedford 4/10/19

Something I don't do enough is go to local shows. I go to loads of DIY gigs in London but I very rarely go to shows in Bedford, where I live. This is partly because there aren't often gigs in Bedford that really cola my coke but also because most of my gig going pals are based in London and it's nice to see them. It took me 42 gigs and until October before I managed to get to a Bedford gig this year but what a line up it was. New York ska legends The Slackers were making their first ever appearance in Bedford and were joined (as they would be for the duration of the tour) by my favourite UK ska punk band, Call Me Malcolm.

We arrived at Esquires not long before the bands started and it was lovely to see plenty of people gathering early to see all the bands. For some reason there were no local supports on the evening’s bill so it was up to Call Me Malcolm to get the crowd warmed up. Obviously the five piece were more than up for the task. I wasn't sure how many people in the crowd were aware of the band before the gig began but they quickly won the crowd over with a typically energetic performance. Playing a set comprised mostly of songs from their classic album I Was Broken When You Got here as well as old favourites Does My Offbeat Look Big In This and I Sold My Cat, I couldn't help but sing along and dance from start to finish – even to the instrumental track F.T.I.M (I sang along to the brass parts). I'm now very used to seeing Malcolm play to an adoring crowd at the New Cross Inn so it was an absolutely pleasure to watch them in different surroundings winning over a new crowd. The sing-along at the end of All My Nameless Friends was as special as ever. Call Me Malcolm aim to spread love and empathy wherever they go, they certainly did this at Esquires and Esquires gave them plenty of love back.

After the excitement of the Call Me Malcolm set, it was now time for The Slackers. The band have been making frequent trips to the UK in their nearly thirty year career but this was their first ever time in Bedford. The good folks of the town were super appreciative that they had finally made it. A crowd of very enthusiastic people gathered at the front of the room began to dance and sing as soon as the six piece began to play. As you would imagine from a band that have been going as long as the Slackers, they were incredibly tight. I'll hate myself for saying this when this review is posted but you could say that there was nothing slack about them. Also, having been a band for such a long long time, The Slackers have a lot of songs to choose from when compiling their set list. I won't even try and name them because I will miss something out but it was a very crowd pleasing set. Playing a mixture of ska, rocksteady and reggae it was a joyous performance. It was great to see the band playing with such big smiles on their faces, clearly enjoying the enthusiasm for them that the crowd showed. Highlights of the performance came from vocalist and organist Vic Ruggiero's dry humour between songs and trombone player Glen Pine's unmatched charisma – he connects so well with the crowd. This was the first stop on a long UK and European tour for The Slackers so there's a chance they were only really warming up here, anyone who sees them later on in the tour is certainly going to be in for a treat.

This was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night in Bedford. Great atmosphere, friendly faces, big smiles and great music.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Top Tens: Top Ten Unreviewed Albums (Part 1)

Recently I've been on a massive binge of trying to listen to as many albums from 2019 as I can. I mean, doing CPRW I feel like I've listened to a lot but, when you look at just how much punk rock has been released this year, our reviews are only really scraping the barrel. To help myself work through all of the punk releases of 2019, I've made a mega playlist which currently contains 3733 songs and is almost 186 hours long (you can check it out here). So to make this new binge addiction of mine productive, I've decided to start a new series of top tens. I'm going to run through some of the favourite releases I've discovered recently, from earlier in the year, that the CPRW team haven't reviewed. Hopefully you'll find some hidden gems like I have!

Dollar Signs – I Need Some Space
Dollar Signs’ 2018 album This Will Haunt Me was one of my favourite albums of the year so I have no idea how I managed to miss their next EP I Need Some Space which was released by A-F Records in January. Here we have four older Dollar Signs songs that have been given a fresh lick of paint with the band’s current line-up – and they're sounding great. This EP is a cool introduction for new fans of Dollar Signs to get a feel of their history whilst being exposed to their current sound.

Celebrity Hangover – Upon Reflection
Originally from Ireland but now based in San Diego, Celebrity Hangover released Upon Reflection on New Year’s Day. The album features sixteen highly infectious melodic punk rock songs. From start to finish Upon Reflection is full of sing-along fist in the air moments that you instantly pick up. The band also released an EP titled Older in June which also fantastic.

A Crash Republic – Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy
I wasn’t sure I was really going to like A Crash Republic after reading they were influenced by bands such as Neck Deep and Knuckle Puck but I was pleasantly surprised by Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy. What really stood out to me was the vocals. They were so much rawer than the clean cut polished vocal I expected and really help A Crash Republic stand out from other modern pop punk bands. They remind me of one of my favourite bands Problem Daughter and are definitely worth checking out.

The Specials – Encore
Despite being a fan of The Specials it took me eight months to listen to Encore, which was the legendary ska band’s first new album in over twenty years. It took me so long to listen because I couldn't see how it would match up to all those classic songs the band had written during their career. It doesn't match up, but it doesn't try too. This is a different sounding Specials tackling the issues of today in their own distinctive way. Given the reach that The Specials have, this could be one of the most important political albums of the year.

Good Shade – Way Out
Ohio's Good Shade is the ambitious solo project of Shane Natalie. Shane writes, composes and plays all of the music in Good Shade themself and gets friends to help perform it live. In February, Good Shade released a new album named Way Out. Twelve songs of energetic indie/power pop goodness that is a breath of fresh air.

Millencolin – SOS
Swedish skate punk legends Millencolin released their ninth studio album SOS back in February to quite the fanfare. Why it took me so long to check it out I don't know as I thoroughly enjoyed their previous album, True Brew, from 2015. SOS continues that new found form the band had with their previous album and, for certain, it doesn't stray from the Millencolin sound we've become accustomed to over the past twenty-five years. When such an influential band from the scene continues to put out such accomplished work it does make me happy.

Lenny Lashley's Gang Of One – All Are Welcome
You might know Lenny Lashley from his days fronting Darkbuster or from playing guitar with the Street Dogs. All Are Welcome is the title of his new solo album performed under the pseudonym of Lenny Lashley's Gang Of One. All Are Welcome is a powerful and emotional album combining Americana and folk with a slice of punk rock. Lashley proves just what a fantastic songwriter he is on All Are Welcome as he manage to grab your attention without having to resort to blisteringly fast and loud punk rock.

Coral Springs – Always Lost, Never Found
Always Lost, Never Found is the debut album from Dutch pop punk band Coral Springs. Released in February on Umlaut Records in the UK, Coral Springs continue to show why they are one of the most exciting bands in mainland Europe. Imagine if you take Rise Against and add Agent M from Tsunami Bombs’ vocals, that's what you get from Coral Springs. This is an album I really regret sleeping on for so long as it's very very good.

Bony Macaroni – Bony Macaroni
I first listened to Bony Macaroni whilst travelling around the North Wales coast in early October. The weather was pretty bleak and I was a bit tired, then this EP came on and it really raised my spirits. Playing poppy emo punk tunes with jangly guitars and a stunning vocal, it was hard not to take notice. They quickly reminded me of one of my favourite UK based bands Toodles & The Hectic Pity. One to keep an eye on for sure.

Clarkkent – Stranger Than Fiction
I discovered Clarkkent thanks to F.O.D's Lode De Feyter. The Finnish skate punk act’s latest album Stranger Than Fiction is on the heavier side of skate punk and I found this refreshing. It managed to hook me in immediately with some soaring vocals, technical guitars that at time verge on metal riffs and some ferocious drums. If all punk rock from Finland sounds like this then I best do some more research into the country's scene.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.