Thursday, 21 June 2018

Top Tens: James from O'Holy Ghost's Top Ten Second Albums

The real test of a great band is their second album - the first one they had years to write with no-one watching, but the second one? The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, the label is paying for studio time, press are waiting to tear it apart. So when it’s done right, it can be the start of something special. This is my (James) definitive 2nd albums list… With the exception of The Ordinary Boys - which was Darren – these views are my own and not of the rest of the band.

Maybe I’ll Catch Fire - Alkaline Trio
I picked this record up from the local record shop in Norwich some time in 2002, a period in my life when most of my friends were listening to NOFX. But this was clearly the thinking man’s drinking album.

Skiba rates this as one of his least favourite Trio records, he felt it was rushed and produced under quite a bit of internal turmoil. You can hear that - but it’s definitely the start of a band finding their sound - they sounded like nothing else, totally new.

Very Proud of Ya - AFI
I came to AFI really late - I was in a hardcore band in the early 2000s and most of the guys in the band were really into AFI. it wasn’t until much later that I went back and got into this record. I mean, it’s that total SoCal Nitro Records sound that just makes you want to loose your shit.

It wasn’t until writing this that I realised Jade wasn’t even on this record apart from doing a few backing vocals - totally makes sense now. Great record, super fast, super punchy, shame they went too far down the big old ‘spooky kids’ route.

Through Being Cool - Saves The Day
Out of all my 2nd albums, this has to be my number 1. I remember someone I lived with at the time had this video sampler from Equal Vision and in the middle of all the terrible hardcore videos was this video of a bunch of kids having a house party with a band whose singer looked like a 12 year old. Little did I know that a decade and loose change later I’d be able to share a stage with them!

I know they basically ripped off Lifetime but, lyrically, this record really influenced me - that mix of super dark imagery and weird turns of phases. Really cool album.

Dude Ranch - Blink 182
The guitars may sound like a tin of bees, the vocals may be painfully out of tune (weren’t they always, Tom?) and the lyrical themes as thin as toilet paper, but this album has to be peak Blink.

I really got into this record when I’d dropped out of school and moved away from my home for some reason. Things were pretty grim and, despite all the dick jokes, this record really got me through some tough times.

As The Eternal Cowboy - Against Me!
There was a point where I pretty much modelled myself as Tom Gabel (now known as Laura Jane Grace) on the cover of this record. Patch covered black denim? Check! Carabiner? Check! Rickenbacker? Check! If only I could write songs this good.

This record sounded like a band that just wanted to get shit moving - the songs are all real short, mega scrappy and none of the drumming is in time - but there’s a thread through it all that just makes it work. And still to this day, hearing Sink, Florida, Sink in their set never fails to make me go all giddy.

Brassbound - The Ordinary Boys
Gonna repeat this - Darren picked this one. But I’m going to review it. This is exactly the kind of music I imagine Darren liking when I see pictures of him from the mid 2000s. He still sings like this. He’s funnier than Preston though.

Boys Will Be Boys will forever remind me of terrible indie club nights where I’d had too many WKD Blues.

Meat Is Murder - The Smiths
Let me get this out of the way - yes, Morrissey is an asshole. But he still made great music - especially when he was with Marr.

My uncle had a poster of this album on his wall in the late 80s, I remember seeing the cover and being totally intrigued as a young kid. It was probably remembering that poster that triggered me to pick this album up in a Virgin Megastore bargain basement bin for about £3. It was then my love affair with Moz and Marr began. I’m still super influenced by Morrissey’s writing, but goddamn does he make it hard to be a fan of him anymore. I can’t bring myself to listen to any of his new stuff, he’s just insufferable.

Miserable New Experience - Gin Blossoms
I got into Gin Blossoms from watching Empire Records, I was pretty young when I saw that film, but I remember checking out all the bands that were on the posters / stickers / records around the store. Their track Till I Hear It From You that was in the movie had the most mad hook - at the time I was mainly listening to grimes gutter punk stuff, but then I got into all this melodic mid 90s jams.

I went back and checked out this album from ’92 and it was wall to wall bangers - total understanding of melodies - although most of the tunes are all the same chords. Obviously the standout here is Hey Jealously. It was really cool when I heard (one of my favourite bands) Iron Chic’s ‘True Miserable Experience’ - their homage to this song - it opens with the same bass riff and then has the lyric ‘We were singing "Hey Jealousy’, we drove through town and let the cops chase us around”. Pretty cool.

Echoes - The Rapture
I went back and listened to this record - it’s not perfect, but totally summed up the sound of that era. We were all just a bunch of indie loving punks, but we still wanted music to dance to.

The standout track from this record, House of Jealous Lovers, still stands up as one of the greatest songs of all time - it felt like it was all going to fall apart at any moment but in its non-stop cowbell worship it totally took you back to a sweaty basement party somewhere out of your mind. Incredible record.

Owen - No Good For No One Now
Mike Kinsella is definitely still finding his feet on this record - his hushed tones over looping, circular acoustic guitar riffs still impress. His lyrics piece together neat little dioramas that really stick out in your head - “What else in this room reminds me of you? The windowsill, where the crucified pit of an avocado still sits in water”. It wouldn’t be until I Do Perceive that Mike’s songwriting really started to take him beyond just being the ‘guy that was in American Football’.

You should like O'Holy Ghost on Facebook here:

O'Holy Ghost are releasing their debut EP TRVTH on July 13th. To celebrate they are throwing a release show on the 26th of July at The Cavendish Arms with Sam Russo, Mean Casear and Modern Shakes. Check out the details for that here:

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Album Review: I Think We'll Be Okay by Eat Defeat

I'll get to the conclusion of this review immediately. Eat Defeat have probably won pop punk in 2018. Their brand new album, I Think We'll Be Okay, is a masterpiece and I've no doubts that this will propel them onto a much bigger audience than the one they already enjoy. I've enjoyed following the career of the Leeds based four piece since 2012's debut album Challenges. Challenges saw the band play more of a skate punk with traces of ska style. Since then they've released two EPs, 2014's It's Always Sunny In Yorkshire and 2016's Time And Tide. These releases saw Eat Defeat shift towards the more pop punk style they're known for today. Something that I think connects all these releases is the message of positivity that is spread through their music. They write songs to empower people and help them realise that no matter what is going on in your life you are never alone.

This is also the case on the opening track on I Think We'll Be OK. The first song is titled A Little Less Than OK and brings you into the album with a great building guitar intro before lead singer and bass player Summers joins the party. The guitars and drums fade out slightly to really allow the listener to focus on what Summers is singing about and get fully invested into the song. It's about trying to stay sane whilst pushing yourself to achieve your goals and is a perfect way to open the album. The second song Duvet Day is a bit of an early curveball as it's only forty-one seconds long and that's not what I expected. It's a short song about needing to take a day off work due to things becoming too much and telling your boss what to do when they question you. I look forward to seeing this song live and singing along, particularly to the outro. Smile is a song that is completely Eat Defeat. It's so catchy, it's so uplifting, it's so wonderful. The opening guitars had me thinking of The Menzingers song Burn After Writing with perhaps a more fuller sound. It's energy, energy, energy immediately and I can't help but get swept away with it. Singing along to the repetitive lines of "I just smile" as well as the chorus of "We can do anything, we can go anywhere" when the song is played live will be such a cathartic feeling.

Nothing's Wrong is about putting on a front and pretending that everything is fine when in fact you're really struggling. I'm sure we've all been feeling bad and have responded to the question "what's wrong?" with the answer "nothing." I know I have on many occasions. The fifth song, Can't Say I'll Miss You, is another with a big, building intro that gets you pumped up for the song. The track begins with a high tempo before gradually morphing into a more melodic style. Can't Say I'll Miss You tackles the subject of false friendships coming to an end and realising it's for the better. There is a particularly special moment towards the end of the track where the music again fades away and we are treated to a superb building section with some exquisitely executed harmonies before reaching the song's big finale. Shortcuts originally appeared on Time And Tide and it's great to see it come back for I Think We'll Be Okay. This song is always one of the highlights of an Eat Defeat live set. It's about bands taking shortcuts to try and getting ahead instead of going about it by working hard and ultimately achieving whatever you would class as success in a more rewarding way. Basically - DIY or die! Shortcuts is a fast paced banger with a brilliantly catchy chorus that will have you singing along, as well as having a fantastic jump around. This song is a bit of an anthem for all the small DIY gigs that Eat Defeat play and perhaps a bit of an F-U to the bands who don't put the work in and get ahead. Running In Place is a softer song which sees Eat Defeat in more of a reflective mood. The song looks at the conflict of either staying rooted to one place or wanting to live a life of adventure and how these decisions affect your mental health. This is a really intelligently written song that makes you think.

The eighth song on I Think We'll Be OK is named Scorched Earth. This is one of my favourite tracks on an album full of excellent songs. It's a fun and uplifting song about making the most of your life even if something might feel like a bad idea to begin with. After the more thoughtful and melodic style of Running In Place, this fast paced and slightly chaotic sound really grabbed me. It's a slight contrast that works really well. For me, Eat Defeat are at their very best when they've got their foot fully on the floor and are going for it. I loved the lyrics of "Let's make bad decisions, defy traditions, embrace collisions and see where it gets us." That's a fine way to try and live your life. The penultimate song is titled Self Help (For The Helplessly Selfless). The song begins with a somewhat darker tone compared to the rest of the album, kind of making me think of Challenges era Eat Defeat. I then did a little checking and realised that this is in fact a re-recorded version of the opening the song of Challenges. Good thing I checked – I would have looked silly! The song works brilliantly within the theme of the album - taking chances and trying to live life to the fullest. Eat Defeat in my opinion saved the best song for the end on the album. The excellent Not Today, Old Friend first appeared on the Japanese version of Time And Tide but this is its first appearance on a UK release. The album also takes its name from the lyric in the chorus, "I think we'll be okay." The song is obviously about fighting back against your demons and not letting the rubbish bring you down. This is truly just a perfect song in every aspect and genuinely puts a smile on my face each every time I hear it. I do think that we'll be okay.

This is hands down THE pop punk album of 2018. Stop reading, go and listen. Smile, dance, be empowered and have a lovely day.

I Think We'll Be Okay is out on August 3rd. People from Europe can pre-order here and the UK and the rest of the world can pre-order here

Like Eat Defeat here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Album Review: Life At Thirty by On My Arms

I'll never get tired of listening to Ramonescore pop punk. It takes me to my happy place, perhaps even more so than ska does. Because of this I'm always excited to check out new bands in the scene. Mainland Europe is jam packed with these great bands. A few weeks ago we checked out Austrian band Dorkatron. Today we're giving a listen to Italian four piece On My Arms. On My Arms formed in 2011 in Venice after being influenced by old school bands such as The Ramones and The Queers, as well as modern acts like Teenage Bottlerocket. Back in March they released a brand new album titled Life At Thirty. The ten track album is being released in Europe by Monster Zero, Japan by Waterslide Records and in the USA by Outloud! Records.

The first song on Life At Thirty is titled 15 + 18. Like you would expect from some Ramonescore pop punk, it's a short, sweet and fast song. It's quite a simple song lyrically which you will quickly be able to sing along to. The track is about being in a hurry to grow up when you're a kid. This song really gives you a great feel of what the album and On My Arms are all about. The second song, It's Gonna Be Now, quickly moves the album into traditional pop punk territory - girls. On this song On My Arms show off their more melodic sound and serve up some delicious harmonies. Naturally the catchiness remains and you'll be smiling along gleefully as you sing along with the chorus of "And Is Gonna Be Now." On the third song, For Life, the band find the perfect mix of tempo and melody. They manage to hook me into the song instantly with its energy and it has me listening along to the lyrics so intently. I love how On My Arms have managed to write a really energetic song without playing as fast as they possibly can.

The meaning of the fourth song I Wanna Quit My Job is self explanatory. I'm sure it could quite easily become an anthem for anyone you has a job that they dislike. The song is fast, fun and fantastic. On My Arms really hit the nail on the head with their extremely relatable lyrics. The relentless lines of "Can't make it this morning, Can't make it to wake up, 'cause my job, 'cause my boss sucks." I truly believe lead singer Ganz genuinely hates his job. The fifth song on the album is named I'm Obsessed With Posers. The song is about people in the scene who don't care about it and only see it as a way to try and make money off of other people's hard work. This feels like a more serious side of On My Arms. They show this by playing in a more measured way without many key changes or big building guitar solos.

The album's title track, Life At Thirty, is up next. Starting out with just a guitar and vocals, you immediately want to sing along with the band. As soon as the full band kicks in we are again treated with the more serious On My Arms. As you may have guessed, the song is about reaching the grand old age of thirty and the feelings that come with that milestone, in particular feeling like you can't follow your dreams anymore and you have to settle with what you now have. Up next is song seven, Baby Where Are You? Here the band revert back to the short and sweet pop punk style. The tempo is upped and it feels as if drummer Marco is hitting the tubs with a bit more ferocity. The song is about having a crush on a girl and searching for them on a night out.

Sick Of You sees a much much angrier side of On My Arms. Perhaps this is unsurprising given the song title. On the song Ganz sings at some speed and adds some spite and venom into his vocals as he talks about not wanting to be like somebody he claims to be a selfish, ignorant, sad poser. It really feels like he means every single word. The penultimate track is named I Wanna Win. This song was one of the stand out tracks on my first listen of Life At Thirty. It's an uplifting feel good number about wanting to come out on top of life despite all of the things that happen that make you feel like it is not possible. The song is a thoughtful one, relying much more on melody than tempo to draw in the listener. There is even some added piano at the end of the track that adds another fantastic element to the song's sound. The tenth and final song on the album is the acoustic Everything. What I really enjoyed about this song is, even though it's a soft acoustic song, it's actually full band with the inclusion of drums and what sounds to me like a violin. The drums provide a big back bone to the song and the violin gives a haunting touch and adds so much emotion to the song. Everything is about the breakup of a relationship and dealing with the aftermath. This album finishes on a beautiful but downbeat moment.

Life At Thirty is another superb Ramonescore pop punk album from mainland Europe. The plethora or really great bands out there playing this style is incredible. On My Arms are one of my new favourites.

Stream and download Life At Thirty here:

Like On My Arms here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Album Revew: Reach Out by New Town Kings

In my opinion the New Town Kings are the best thing to come out of Colchester since Humpy Dumpty. They are a band that make me hugely proud to come from the North Essex town. For years now they've been wowing crowds in the town and throughout the rest of the UK and Europe with their modern take on ska and reggae music, constantly earning more and more fans. It has been seven long years since the eight piece released a new album which is a really long time to wait. During that time they replaced their former frontman Chris White with Dabs Bonner and were hard at work playing shows all over the place. They released a handful of singles and an EP whilst working on a new sound to compliment their new singer. Now, finally, the New Town Kings have self released a brand new album of thirteen brand new tracks named Reach Out. To say I was looking forward to this would be a huge understatement.

The album starts out with its title track, Reach Out. Here we have a slick reggae track where Dabs and the Kings basically re-introduce themselves onto the scene. Dabs has a fantastic versatility in his vocal and shows this off brilliantly on the track, whether he is soulfully singing or rapping in an up-tempo fashion it is superb. This song is followed up by Borderline which sees the band get political. It's about the absurdity of still having lines to separate countries and the ridiculousness of needing special permission to cross between these borders. The message in the song is obviously something that the band feel very strongly about and they've done a brilliant of job of conveying their views here. First of all it's extremely catchy so you will quickly be singing along with the chorus but the real strength in the song is how eloquently written the rest of the track is. It feels as if the band are trying to teach the listener rather than preaching their views. This is amazing. The third song is the upbeat ska number Why You Always Take. This is a wonderful summertime ska track about that friend, that we all have, that only takes and never gives back. It's a song where Dabs lets out his frustrations about the situation but in true ska fashion does it in such an upbeat way.

British Summertime is an ode to growing up in the UK during the summer and making the best of it not often being especially warm. There is something magical about those few days when it does get nice and the whole country has a collective smile on their faces. The upbeat ska vibes continue on the next song, Deep Water. It's more of a humorous song that may or may not be about bass player Tommy's attempts at being a ladies' man and how it often ends in disaster. This is one of those songs that is impossible not to smile along to like a bit of a goon. This is another really catchy track that you'll quickly learn the words to. I kind of feel like this song was written so that a room full of people can sing the song back at the band and in particular Tommy to help him learn "that if you play with fire you're sure to get burnt." The sixth song Music is perhaps my favourite on Reach Out. It's about just what a magical art form music is and how it just makes everything better. We can all agree with that. This is a wonderful song for chilling out with your loved ones on a nice summer's evening with everything in your life just feeling perfect. Dabs's vocals are on the softer side here which just adds to the whole vibe of the song. Listening to the song I just want to wrap my arms around my favourite people, smile and sing away. This is seriously the bees knees of a song.

Francine is a fun swing number that the New Town Kings have been playing live for a number of years now but this is the first time the song has found its way onto a record. Tommy Marchant's walking bass line along with the Kings amazing brass duo of Rory Sadler and Robert Landen really steal the show on this one. It's another song that encourages a huge sing-a-long with some fun gang vocals adding harmonies to the chorus. When a whole room of people is shouting along with the band it adds a big feeling of inclusion and connection that can often be lost between a band and its crowd. Not with the Kings though! The eighth track features a special guest in the form of roots reggae artist Sylford Walker. The song, titled Burn Babylon, is more of a serious reggae style track about wanting to bring down the establishment. This is another one of the Kings' more political songs that not only educates but also gets you thinking. Long Long Road is an uplifting and positive song about following your dreams no matter what obstacles might stand in your way. Much like Music, this is a great chilled out song that's perfect for those great summer's evenings. I love any song that empowers me and this certainly does that. Having a group of people singing "oh now it's a long long road, we've got to walk, we've got to walk" who really believe in these words must be a really special feeling.

Coconut Tree could be one of the happiest songs I've heard it a very long time. Returning to the upbeat ska sound, this song is about escaping from the trials and tribulations of your everyday life and living a simplistic life in paradise. This song is really clever in the way that it is written. With the catchy chorus listing fruit you might find on a tropical island, it does make the track feel a bit silly on the surface. But if you dig deeper and really think about the song, it actually is a great piece of social commentary on how you don't need all of the expensive and shiny things that you think you do to be happy. You actually just need the simple things to be happy. Track number eleven is another song that the band have been playing live for a little while but has finally found its way onto a record. The Hawk is a completely instrumental song that allows the band to really show off what an incredibly talented bunch of musicians everyone in the band is. The penultimate song is named Fine Fine Fine. Fine Fine Fine is another brilliantly uplifting tune about feeling so happy in your life and wanting to spread your love with everyone around you. I can, again, imagine singing this song along with a room full of people – friends, family and strangers – and just feeling so unbelievably positive and empowered. Dabs really has done what he set out to do on the song and spread his love. The final song on Reach Out is the slower ska ballad Lullaby. This is a side of the New Town Kings we've never experience before. Like the title suggests, the song is a lullaby that feels deeply personal for Dabs. Because of this I won't try and delve too much into the meaning of the song but just know it is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Reach Out didn't just surpass every single expectation I had for the album, it completely blew me away. A band shouldn't lose their lead singer and come back with an album that's better than any of their previous work (and that's not a slight on their previous work as I adore it), that's just not how these things usually work. Reach Out is everything I want in a ska and reggae album and then some. It's danceable, I can sing along, it makes me smile and laugh, it makes me think and most of all it makes me feel better. Ska, in all of its wonderful forms, is making a huge statement in 2018 with so many bands in the genre releasing album of the year contenders. Reach Out is certainly one of them.

You can buy Reach Out here:

Like New Town Kings here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Gig Review: Pkew Pkew Pkew at the New Cross Inn, London 12/6/18

When it comes to deciding on my gig of the year in December I already have a few strong contenders. I have a feeling that the majority of my favourite gigs of 2018 will have been put on by Be Sharp Promotions at the New Cross Inn. They are on such a hot streak of putting on incredible shows at the moment. The latest came this past Tuesday night when they had Canadian pop punks Pkew Pkew Pkew playing their first ever show in the UK. That was enough for me to quickly buy my ticket and then I saw the incredible line-up booked for the entire night. The Burnt Tapes, The Run Up and Our Lives In Cinema were supporting Pkew Pkew Pkew and I couldn't have been more excited. This was going to be one of those special punk rock nights that will forever have me smiling when I think about it.

First up were Bristol's The Run Up who were supporting Pkew Pkew Pkew on a few of their European tour dates. The guys in The Run Up have had a tricky couple of months when it comes to touring, with their van breaking down in Europe twice on their last two trips to the mainland resulting in a few missed shows. Watching them on stage, I sensed there was a bit of relief at being able to be playing a gig and not still hanging out in a Mercedes garage in Germany. This was my third time seeing The Run Up this year, having caught them twice in January on their tour with Quitters, and they just get better and better. It's always great to see people who genuinely love being on stage together and playing their songs. You could see that playing the show has made all of the troubles they've had of late worth it. The band played mostly songs from last year's self-titled full length but they did also manage to squeeze in a couple of older tunes as well as a brand new one. Learning Loss was a particular highlight for me – I love that song! What a great way to start the night.

London's Our Live In Cinema are relatively new to the London punk scene but are quickly making a name for themselves. The five piece have released two superb EPs within the last year and have been steadily getting themselves booked on more and more shows. Lead singer Mark Bartlett is also a huge Pkew Pkew Pkew fan and was so unbelievably excited to be on this bill, saying during the set that it was a dream come true. The enthusiasm that Our Lives In Cinema play with is infectious with Mark in particular standing out as he dances around the front of the stage whilst displaying some seriously impressive vocals. This was my first time seeing OLIC but had heard about Mark's high energy performances and I wondered if he'd be able to maintain the great vocals I'd heard on their EPs. He nailed it. I especially enjoyed the songs from the recently released All Talk. EP opener It's Always Sunny In Paterson Park is a superb live song. There was also a funny point during the song where Mark randomly broke into some classic Whitney Houston. I thought OLIC were absolutely great and this wasn't even them at full strength as they had a stand in guitarist in the form of Eat Dirt's Richie Cooper filling in for them. I wonder how good they are normally? Our Lives In Cinema are a band I will be keeping an extra special eye on.

For me, The Burnt Tapes are the best band in the UK at the moment and I'm always so excited whenever I get to see them. I hadn't seen them live since October 2017 when they supported The Bombpops at the New Cross. Nine months is way too long! Being a New Cross show, it was kind of a home turf situation with plenty of people there to support the four piece. We were treated to an extra special set full of all our favourites and some brand new songs that sound absolutely incredible. Their last EP, Alterations, was my favourite release of 2017 and the handful of new songs they played during this set sounded better than all of songs from the aforementioned EP. That's saying something! Naturally there were some great singalongs for the older songs. The Burnt Tapes have made many friends over the past few years so it was perhaps no surprise when Hassan Afaneh (of Triple Sundae) joined them on stage to sing part of their opening song. I later found out that this wasn't planned which made me laugh as Hassan so coolly walked onto the stage, sang and walked off again as if they've done it 100 times. To be fair they probably have. The main highlights for me were Go Home. You’re Drunk and Things Get Weird. The Burnt Tapes just get better and better every time I see them and I can't say enough positive things about them. I'm quite convinced that soon it will be them selling lots of tickets for headline shows at the New Cross. I hope I'm right because it's what this incredibly talented band and these wonderful people deserve.

Last but certainly not least were Pkew Pkew Pkew. You know it's going to be an extra special night when a band is playing their first UK show ever and have sold over 100 advanced tickets for a Tuesday night show in South London. That's an incredible achievement. Pkew x3 play fast, singalong pop punk tracks that are mostly about partying, drinking and having a great time with your friends – so they're perfect for a live show. The front of the stage was now packed as everyone in the New Cross instantly joined in with the singing of opening track The Prime Minister Of The Defence. During the track, a member of the crowd had brought the band jagerbombs and soon enough the party got wilder and wilder. Playing the entirety of their debut self-titled album as well as a brilliantly sounding new song, Pkew x3 were loved throughout. It seemed as if everyone in the pub knew the words to each and every song they played and sung it at the top of their voice with fists permanently punching the air. Pkew x3 seem to have this incredible ability to connect with the crowd with relatable songs and a charming nature on stage – it's hard not to love the band. I'm not sure who was more stoked, the band to be playing to such a great crowd on their first UK show or the crowd to have them. It was just smiles all round for everyone. It's hard to pick stand out songs from the set because, genuinely, every single one was just so well received. Finishing their main set with the awesome Glory Days and its many whoa-ohs would have easily been a great a way to finish the night but the boys had a couple of surprise cover songs up their sleeves for an encore. Claiming to be the only two songs by UK acts that they knew how to play, the first song of the encore was The Clash's version of Police On My Back and then, to really send the crowd home happy, they played a hilarious cover of I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.

I was right, this was an extra special night. Of course Pkew Pkew Pkew were the highlight but the whole night in general was just perfect. The Run Up, Our Lives In Cinema and The Burnt Tapes were all fantastic and were a perfect advertisement for the UK's underground scene. And as always at Be Sharp shows, the atmosphere was brilliant with plenty of old friends, new friends and future friends coming together to share a great time.

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

Friday, 15 June 2018

Column: Polite Riot Festival Preview

On the 22nd of June a brand new punk rock festival is being unleashed on South East London. Named Polite Riot Festival, this three day extravaganza is what happens when Be Sharp Promotions, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches team up with Destiny Tourbooking and decide to put on three days of punk rock at the New Cross Inn. Promising the best of UK hardcore, skate, melodic and pop punk, as well as some super special guests from further afield, it's already looking as if it's going to be a huge weekend. I decided to take an in-depth look at each day and the bands that will be knocking our collective socks off!

I was going to say that Friday starts the weekend off with some ease but that's just not the truth. Sure the day isn't such a test of your endurance like the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, as there are only five bands playing. Headlined by a band that now have to be considered pop punk legends – all the way from Wyoming – Teenage Bottlerocket. Teenage Bottlerocket have been wowing crowds with their fast paced pop punk for years now and in my opinion they have played a huge part in bringing proper pop punk back to the forefront of the punk rock genre. TBR continue to grow in popularity and getting the opportunity to see them play in a small space like the New Cross Inn is a rare treat that shouldn't be missed.

But it's not just about Teenage Bottlerocket! Swan Prince are a four piece band from Redditch fronted by Rachel Blewett. This pop punk quartet are a relatively new band on the scene, having only formed in 2017 so the opportunity to play a show with Teenage Bottlerocket must be a huge deal for them. After checking out their demos on Bandcamp, I'm really looking forward to seeing them for the first time. Up next are a couple of bands who recently opened consecutive days at Manchester Punk Festival. No Matter were one of my highlights from a festival jam packed with special moments so you can imagine that I'm excited to see them again. The Irish foursome channel that great Lookout Records era pop punk sound that I, and so many people of my age, cherish so much. Being one of the first bands signed to the impressive Umlaut Records roster, this show will almost feel like a home town show for the band. Eat Defeat opened the second day of MPF to a massive crowd and I've no doubt that they'll get the same kind of treatment at the New Cross Inn. I've been lucky enough to have had an early listen of their forthcoming album and it's superb so hearing those songs live for the first time is going to be a lot of fun. That album is going to help Eat Defeat explode in the UK's pop punk scene and it surely won't be much longer until they're headlining gigs at a packed New Cross Inn themselves. Lastly we have one of the most popular bands in the UK scene and one that I've never seen live, Spoilers. The four piece from Canterbury play their own blend of catchy punk rock music and have recently been gaining more and more fans all over the country. Lead by guitarist and lead singer Dan Goatham, who has one of the most unique and distinctive voices in the scene, expect some big sing alongs for these guys.

The Saturday of Polite Riot is headlined by London punk heroes Apologies, I Have None. I believe I am right in thinking that this will be their only full band London headline show of the year so that's reason enough to come down to the New Cross Inn for a set full of massively passionate singalongs. But before AIHN we have a stacked day of punk rock. Looking at this line-up it seems as if the promoters have made an extra special effort of showcasing some newer bands to the New Cross scene as there are a few bands I've not seen on line-ups there before. The one that stood out the most to me was Stoke On Trent's Only Strangers. The four piece released their self-titled debut album earlier this year to positive reviews from all circles – including CPRW's Richard. This will be the band's first adventure down South to play a show and I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Expect superb melodic punk rock from this great band who are sure to gain plenty of new fans at Polite Riot.

Peckham's Love Songs are a very new band on the scene having released their one and only single Now That's What I Call Love (Volume 1) late in 2017. They play a moody and atmospheric brand of melodic punk rock which I'm certain will be captivating to watch live. Snap Out are a band returning from a four year hiatus in time to play the festival. Playing a hybrid of grunge and pop punk makes them stand out from many of their contemporaries and they are surely an intriguing act to witness live. I've been listening to Snap Out's 2013 EP Dino Diner a fair amount since it was announced that they would be playing the festival and it has some absolute bangers on it. Mean Caesar are a band who recently blew a New Cross crowd away when they opened for The Copyrights back in April. If you don't know the band, there's a good chance that you will recognise the members from their other or previous bands such as Great Cynics, Pure Graft, Werecats, The Murderburgers and many more. Mean Caesar are sure to make a big splash on the UK punk scene very soon, another set not to be missed. Finally we have a band that regular attendees of New Cross shows will definitely know, everyone's favourite rubber skull enthusiasts – the mighty Müg. The four piece, who also run the incredible Umlaut Records, have been favourites in South London for many years now but sadly don't play as many shows here anymore as they're extremely busy gentlemen. I think they're a very important band in our scene have helped out so many other bands throughout the years. Of course musically they are superb. If you are a fan of 90s skate punk you will love Müg.

When Massachusetts melodic hardcore act A Wilhelm Scream were first announced for Polite Riot my first thoughts were "My gosh! A Wilhelm Scream are playing the New Cross? will it still be standing after they've played?" Having a band the stature of A Wilhelm Scream play the New Cross Inn is another massive achievement for all involved with the venue. This Sunday night slot is going to be a moment people will be talking about for a long time. AWS will be starting a month long European tour in the UK and they will be joined at the majority of the UK shows by Darko. The Guilford based five piece have become legends within the UK and European melodic punk scene, as well as becoming standard bearers for the genre further afield. Somehow I've only ever seen Darko once before so seeing them at again at Polite Riot is well overdue.

Drones bring their political punk rock back to the New Cross Inn. Fronted by Lois McDougall, the band have become well known for their socio-politically charged songs as well as an exhilarating live show. CPRW's Robyn recently caught them live at Manchester Punk Festival and was seriously impressed. Drones are yet another band I cannot wait to see at Polite Riot. On A Hiding To Nothing are one of our favourite bands here at CPRW and they always put on such a fun and energetic show. Playing unbelievably fast skate punk tunes always go down a treat. OAHTN are one of those bands where I'm astounded by their skill – it baffles me how they can play so fast but remain so catchy. One of the best bands on the scene! Eat Dirt are a relentless whirlwind of a hardcore band. Playing ferocious sub-three minute songs, Eat Dirt are an ideal band to go on early on the Sunday of Polite Riot to shake away any cobwebs and hangovers of the previous two days with sublime punk rock fun. I've heard that Eat Dirt are a lot of fun live and I can't way to see if for myself. French band Zombies No released the excellent Divided We Fall on Umlaut Records last year and it's great to see them back in the UK again. Influenced by 90s skate punk with a pinch of metal thrown in for good measure, I'm seriously impressed with what I've heard of Zombies No. Not only do they write some great punk rock but lyrically they spread their social and political messages wonderfully. Polite Riot Festival will be a very special show for London based Ships Down. This will be their final ever show and they get to share a stage with their heroes A Wilhelm Scream as well. I'm stoked that I get the chance to see Ships Down finally after worrying I'd missed the chance. I've followed them since reviewing their excellent demo in 2016 but never got round to seeing them. I can't wait to see this technically brilliant theatrical punk rock band. Last, but by no means least, is Local Mad Man. This London four piece are a heavy and ferocious hardcore act who have been going for a number of years now. 2018 sees a slight line-up change and some brand new material in the works. I'd imagine we might get the chance to hear a couple of these at the festival.

Polite Riot Festival is going to be an incredible weekend of live punk rock music. The festival is stacked with a phenomenal and varied line-up featuring local talent and some great acts from further afield. It's got some of the biggest and most popular bands around, as well as some just getting started. If you like your punk rock fast and loud then you really need to be at the New Cross Inn between the 22nd and 24th of June!

For those worried (like I was) the New Cross Inn will be showing the England vs Panama World Cup match at 1pm on the Sunday – phew!

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

News: The Bombpops Are Back At The New Cross Inn

After a successful headline show last October, Fat Wreck Chords band The Bombpops are returning to the New Cross Inn thanks to Be Sharp Promotions, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches on Monday July 23rd. That show back in October showed London why The Bombpops are among the elite of pop punk bands in the world. You can get all the information about the gig on Facebook here and you can buy tickets (£7 in advance and NO FEES) here. This is going to be a fun fun night!