Monday, 17 December 2018

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


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

Top Ten EPs of 2018

10. This Place Matters by The Capital


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

9. Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up


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

8. Learning How To Lie by Katie MF


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

7. Reasons To Breathe by Uniforms


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

6. Desire And The Need To Live by Crushed Veneer


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

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


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

4. 1,000 Daisies – Stöj Snak


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

3. TRVTH by O’Holy Ghost


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

2. The White Album EP by The All Brights


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

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


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


Top Ten Albums of 2018

10. For The Sake Of The Bit by Elway


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

9. Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour


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

8. How To Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope


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

7. Reach Out by New Town Kings


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

6. Roundabouts by Spoilers


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

5. Salvation by The Penske File


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

4. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs


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

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


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

2. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat


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

1. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays


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

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

Fin!

These top tens were written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

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


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


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


Top Tens: Fastfade's Top Ten Moments So Far


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Like Fastfade here: https://www.facebook.com/fastfade/

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Album Review: Persona Non Grata by Authority Zero (by Dan Peters)


Wow. It feels like only last year I was writing up a frankly glowing review of an Authority Zero album. Wait, that’s because it was only last year I wrote up a review for Broadcasting to the Nations. BttN was a truly stellar outing, with at least five of my now all time favourite Authority Zero songs. With such an incredibly strong offering still on heavy rotation in my personal playlists, it feels like it’s incredibly early to be able to review another album but this is the situation I find myself in. So bear with me whilst xmas comes early and I dive into a brand new suite of songs by the champions of the modern punk scene.


Persona Non Grata is what I’d consider an “all rounder” in terms of the directions Authority Zero can swing. From the opening A Blind Eye things are dripping with all the charm and charisma that you’d expect from Authority Zero without straying too far to the extremes of punk or ska too often – reggae crooner Shake The Ground followed by 49 second hardcore smasher Mush Mouth being the exception here – and they find a comfortable middle ground on the album as a whole. Those of you hoping to find an album as ska heavy as Broadcasting might be a little disappointed with stats like that but, honestly, it doesn’t matter since there’s far too much to love here to worry about the amount of upstrokes rolling your way.

There’s a lot to love track wise here, we’re talking all killer for the 12 track runtime. If I had to twist my arm and pick out some standouts – which of course I will because otherwise this review would just be a giant thumbs-up emoji – I would go for title track Person Non Grata, which is very Strung Out-y in composition so, of course, I’m instantly in love with it. The Bright Side which is probably the fastest song on the album is fun as hell. And straight after that Back From The Dead which is probably the ska punkest song available and something I find myself skanking to even though I’m sat down while listening to it!!!

I’m never unhappy to have new AZ to listen to but I can imagine some of you thinking it’s a little quick to come out and if you already own Broadcasting you may be wondering if there’s enough different here for you. Well, production wise things are very similar which I’d say should be fairly obvious considering the two record's proximity to one another. That is not a bad thing of course, both album are beautiful sounding, with everything feeling massive and Jason's voice is to die for. Style wise I’d say the last record was far more specialised while this, as mentioned, travels a more rounded path. Both are their own beasts though and both are unmissable.

In conclusion, Authority Zero have outdone themselves twice in two years and Persona Non Grata is something that had better be on your xmas lists because it’s an instant classic.

Stream and download Persona Non Grata here: https://thousandislandsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/persona-non-grata

Like Authority Zero here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorityZero/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Album Review: Happy If You Aren't by Fastfade


Before last year's release of Roach, Aerial Salad were the north's best punk rock secret. Then Roach came out and the three piece became one of the most popular new bands throughout the entire country. Down south we have our own best kept punk rock secret who, like Aerial Salad, are just about to release an album that all the punks will soon be talking about. That band is London/Brighton super fast skate punks Fastfade. This three piece, Ryan on guitar and vocals, Joe on bass and Jake on drums, have been steadily gaining themselves a reputation of being one of the south's best young bands with their chaotic live performances and Captain Everything inspired songs. On December the 14th, Fastfade release their debut full length Happy If You Aren't through Umlaut Records and I'm expecting it to catapult them to big things.


Happy If You Aren't begins with the song Walkie Talkie which had a video released for it last month. This song so perfectly encapsulates what Fastfade are all about. Fast guitars, fast drums, fast vocals, fast harmonies but so much melody. These guys channel an era of punk rock I'm not sure they were even alive for and do it oh so well. Time Stuck is about exactly what you'd probably expect given its title, feeling as if time is standing still and that you're going around in circles. The song does lack a bit of the melody that featured so heavily in Walkie Talkie but certainly it has lots more intensity. Musically it's so stabby, every note is short and to the point which creates an interesting sound. Ryan's skill on guitar really shines at the start of track number three, Idiot. This is one of those crazy fast songs that just blow you away – I get breathless just listening to it. I do wonder if when these guys reach their thirties will they still be able to play songs at this pace. The energy that omits from the gang vocals and harmonies is so wonderfully infectious and I find myself smiling like an idiot the entire way through the song. From Idiot we move onto Weirdo. Weirdo is much more of a sing-along punk number. Joe's superb bass playing is featured heavily during the verse, in essence taking the lead on the track. When we reach the chorus it's time for us all to join the band in a sing-along. It seems as if Fastfade have taken a leaf from their Umlaut buddies The Burnt Tapes and Triple Sundae with this more mid-tempo approach to their style.

The fifth track on the album is title Will. This bouncy skate punk song surprisingly features some ska upstrokes – is this Joe's attempt to get some attention from his "dad", Paul from Be Sharp Promotions? As you might expect from a Fastfade song, it's a lot of fun and will get you dancing away pretty quickly. A big feature of the Fastfade sound is the use of gang vocals to finish off sentences. This really does a magnificent job of making sure every line hits home. Negative is an older Fastfade song that first featured on the band's first EP Simple Ideals. Re-recorded and remastered for Happy If You Aren't, it has a much fuller sound and going back and listening to the original you can really see how far Jake and Ryan have come along as musicians (Joe wasn't in Fastfade for the original release). I do love hearing a band's progression. Sub Motive is a track that is only just over a minute in length but Fastfade go all out to fit everything that they can into it. It feels like a perfect song to create a circle pit to (if you're into that kind of thing). It doesn't really slow down and it's not so long that you're likely to run out of breath midway through the track.

Seatbelt is a kind of a forty five second building introduction to the following song, Blunt, which also features on Simple Ideals. I believe that Blunt is the first song that Fastfade ever wrote and is a fan favourite when they play live. This is a wonderful piece of early 90s-style pop punk where you can easily hear Fastfade's blink-182 and Green Day influences. There's also a riff midway through the song that really reminds me of No Use For A Name that caught my ear. The final lines of "It's something, it's nothing, I'm telling you we'll be just fine, believe me, I've been there, we'll find another way in time" ensure that the song finishes on positive note. Frontside is a song of two styles, at times sharp and punchy but effortlessly switching to some of the most melodic parts of the entire album. This works well with the theme of the song being mental health and how sometimes things are lovely and sometimes they really aren't. As soon as I heard the opening riffs on the eleventh song, Passtime, I instantly thought of NOFX. Then Ryan's vocals hit, seemingly doing his best Billie Joe Armstrong impression before some big Bad Religion-esque oozinn-ahhs add another layer to the sound. This is going to be one of those songs that I'll listen to a hundred times and continue to find new things I enjoy about it.

Head First is the longest track on Happy If You Want. It's four minutes long which in Fastfade terms is a marathon length song. I listened to this song on repeat for about twenty minutes trying to figure out who it reminds me of and it finally clicked. Chicago pop punk heroes Allister (who happen to be one of my all time favourites), but really old school era Allister – Dead Ends And Girlfriends era Allister. The whole tone of the song has a bit of an older school feeling to it which I really enjoyed. It really took me back to the late 90s/early 2000s when I was just finding pop punk music. The penultimate song on the album is Sink Or Swim which is a cover of the band No Thanx To Paul. I have no idea who No Thanx To Paul are so obviously have no knowledge of the song but I enjoyed what seems like a heavier style from Fastfade. It's pretty relentless throughout with Jake's immense drumming really shining through. Finally we finish with what was my favourite song from the last Fastfade EP, Slingshot. For me, this if Fastfade at their best – fast, bouncy and wonderfully catchy. There's plenty that stands out on the track – the excellent guitar riffs, the hard hitting chorus, the delightful bass solo and that exceptional chorus that'll be ringing in your ears for days.

This is such a good debut full length from Fastfade. As I said at the beginning of this review, these young men are the London punk scene's best kept secret. This won't be the case now. I'd expect to see them popping up all over the country playing shows based on the strength of Happy If You Aren't. I predict that 2019 is going to be some year for Ryan, Jake and Joe.

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

Like Fastfade here: https://www.facebook.com/fastfade/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 10 December 2018

News: Airstream Futures and Mean Caesar UK Tour


Little Rocket Records bands Airstream Futures and Mean Caesar are hitting the road together in January. Mean Caesar released their debut EP back in October and Airstream Futures released a brand new 7" Single titled If I / PR Nightmares in July. Check out the details of the tour below.

Thu - 17/01 - Le Pub - Newport
Frid - 18/01 - New Cross Inn - London
Sat - 19/01 - Cavern Club - Exeter
Sun - 20/01 - Mothers Ruin - Bristol
Mon - 21/01 - Conroy’s Basement - Dundee
Tue - 22/01 - Bannermans - Edinburgh
We - 23/01 - Wharf Chambers - Leeds
Thu - 24/01 - The Cherry Moon Shop - Bolton
Fri - 25/01 - Old Town House - Warrington
Sat - 26/01 - Mama Liz’s - Stamford
Sun - 27/01 - The Fighting Cocks - Kingston

Airstream Futures is a rock/punk/alternative band from Chicago, Illinois. The members are Devon Carson (vocals), Jeff Dean (guitar, vocals), Katie Karpowicz (bass), and Michael Soucy (drums).

Airstream Futures recorded a full-length album, Spirale Infernale, released via Paper + Plastick Records in December, 2017. In May, 2018, they self-released a limited-edition cassette, En Avoir Marre, with 2 LP songs, 1 studio outtake, and 3 unreleased live songs recorded at Liars Club in Chicago. This 7” vinyl release is a limited edition of 300 random coloured vinyl available via Little Rocket Records with new songs If I and PR Nightmares.

The tracks were recorded by Guitarist Jeff dean and the record produced by Derek Grant from Alkaline Trio and Rodrigo Palma from Saves the Day.

Airstream Futures has performed in the UK, Canada, and many U.S. cities with bands such as The Descendants, Pegboy, Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, and The Bollweevils. Airstream Futures is scheduled to perform this October at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida and most recently at Montreal's premier Festival Pouzza.

The Single is available here:
https://airstreamfutureslrr.bandcamp.com/

Video: Airstream Futures - If I
https://youtu.be/h-Jh19YJPrA

Devon said - The song is about the fight against depression and anxiety, wanting to do all the things you love but can’t. It’s a war in your brain and body, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Video Credit - Derek Grant (Alkaline Trio)

https://airstreamfutureslrr.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/airstreamfutures/

South London juggernauts Mean Caesar have been tearing their way through the grimiest clubs and loudest bars South of the river since the start of 2018. Their debut EP, self-titled ‘Mean Caesar’, deals with London’s darker side and personal loss, attaining nosebleed-reaching dimensions. Asserting an amplified, technically informed, yet polish-free style, the band proves their punk mastery while retaining all of their raw, buzzed-out power.

Opening for the likes of Red City Radio, Apologies, I Have None and The Copyrights, vocalist Danny Lester, guitarists Oliver Ward and David Littlefair, bassist Stu Henson and drummer Stu Morrison have spent their time in the practice room studying the controlled power of their mentors. For the self-titled debut, their goal was to make the music “hooky as hell, with an urgency to it,” as frontman Lester says, and they tasked veteran post-hardcore engineer Joe Watson with helping them achieve a muscular bite. In typical fashion of their former bands, the music rejects any hints of pretention.

First single ‘South London Summer ‘epitomizes this; an insatiable sharpness of a track, about finding a gang where you feel at home. “I’m thankful every day that this bunch of misfits happened to cross my way / We’d prop up the Monty bar where talking endless shit can get you far / We’d toast our failures in the park and wonder reckless streets in the dark,” Lester croons on the rampageous track.

Get the EP here –
https://meancaesarlrr.bandcamp.com/

Video – South London Summer –
https://youtu.be/cLHfPu5Gp28

Album Review: Entropic by Hit The Switch (by Dan Peters)


Another month goes by and another band who’ve had a massive hiatus have laid a brand new offering at our feet. In this instance it’s skate punk aficionados Hit The Switch. After a seven year hibernation, the band are back and, not only that, they are on a label that brings joy to my heart with every offering – Bird Attack. With a glowing endorsement like that, I’m going into this review with open arms and the volume up max.


So an entire minute of intro clip seems a little excessive even to someone like me who loves that sort of thing but once that 1 minute mark is passed you’ll be treated to the blisteringly fast riffage and supersonic drumming you’d expect from the band (or you’d expect from a Bird Attack band if this is your first foray into Hit The Switch). ‘Perigee’ seems to deliberately take the 90s skate punk formula and runs with it wholeheartedly with abandon.

Entropic, as a whole, is very much a genre album which will likely, by its nature, be a little divisive. If, on the one hand, if you’re a bit of a skate punk purist and find it difficult to listen to anything without double time drumming then this is an album created especially for you. The template here is very strictly adhered to, if you love that template then this is 30 odd minutes of joy in a bottle. An unending speed trip with chugging guitars, high octane solos and Matt Hawks’ old school melodic vocals. However, if listening to the fastest Strung Out, NUFAN and Lagwagon songs on repeat doesn’t sound like your idea of heaven this may be difficult to get all the way through.

That’s not to say that even if you’re not a diehard there’s not real gems in here that I can’t imagine anyone loving. ‘Down and Out’ is an absolute belter from start to finish and is the track on the album I’ve come to love the most out of the whole record. ‘North Star’ is another cracking tune, with one of the coolest punk solos I’ve heard in a while on it.

Entropic is an album that wants to travel down a very narrow path, and if you’re a fan of that path then you’re going to love this, because it’s start to finish high grade super fast skate punk excellence. But don’t expect any deviation on your way through.

Stream and download Entropic here: https://birdattackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/entropic

Like Hit The Switch here: https://www.facebook.com/hittheswitch.music/

This review was written by Dan Peters.