Saturday, 30 April 2016

Album Review: Müg/Maxwells Dead Split


Umlaut Records is a new London-based independent record label run by the fine gentleman from Müg. Their first release is a split from Müg and Scottish ska punks Maxwell's Dead, each providing two songs to the record.


Müg are up first with their two songs. The first is named Misery Guts. I've enjoyed the four-piece’s melodic skate punk for a number of years and they have consistently put out great releases throughout their time together as a band. Misery Guts is everything I've come to expect and love from the band. Starting out with a great drum beat and some slight guitar riffs before fully committing to the track musically there is such a NOFX influence before lead singer Mat's smooth and melody driven vocals join in on the fun. Guitarist Mark and bassist Mikey both have time to shine on the track but it never feels likes they are just trying to squeeze everyones parts in for the sake of it, which is good. Müg’s second song on the split is named Silent Nights. From the start this feels like a big sing-along and I love it instantly. It's a proper punk rock fist-in-the-air shout along with your mates or whomever you are standing next to punk anthem. The tempo of the song is fantastic, after a slower opening it bursts into life and, aside from one slower moment in the middle of the track, the pace is kept high throughout. Love it!

Scottish ska punks Maxwell's Dead take the next two songs. The first of their songs is titled Transposed and actually goes down more of a skate punk route than the Rancid inspired ska/street punk that I was expecting. Then, wonderfully but quite randomly, there is a slight folk/celtic punk breakdown that would fit wonderfully in to a Dropkick Murphy’s song. I wouldn't ever have thought that skate and folk punk would ever fit well together in a song but it certainly does here. Credit to Maxwell's Dead for adding something different to the skate punk genre. Maxwell's Dead's second track, The Doctor, is a lot more of what I was expecting. The song starts with a slower, reggae style that gets you grooving but also gives you a sense that soon enough things are going to get faster. The tempo certainly does rise and gradually transforms the song into much more of a punk song. The guitar work during the song is fantastic and serves as a catalyst in transforming the track into a big punk rock jam with some fantastic harmonies. The final minute of the song, musically especially, is relentless and really finishes the song and the split with a bang!

I really enjoyed this fun little split from these two fantastic underground bands. Two bands that deserve a lot more attention from the musical world. Both are incredible songwriters and do the world of punk proud. I recommend checking out this split and I'm really looking forward to whatever Umlaut Records put out next.

Stream and download the split here: https://mugrocks.bandcamp.com/

Like Müg here: https://www.facebook.com/mugrocks/

Like Maxwells Dead here: https://www.facebook.com/maxwellsdead/

Check out Umlaut Records here: https://www.facebook.com/umlautrecs/

Friday, 29 April 2016

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: April 2016


In a new feature on Colin's Punk Rock World, the last Friday of every month members of the wonderful CPRW team will put together a playlist of the tracks that we've been listening to recently. This is what Dan, Emma, Omar and myself have been listening to in April.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Top Tens: Millie Manders Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


Here are London based ska punk Millie Manders top ten punk rock influences.

Glen Miller
I went to see the Glen Miller Orchestra when I was maybe 12 years old. I was a clarinet player at the time but this experience pushed me to play saxophone. The richness of the layers of Big Band Jazz resonated with me in such a huge way. It inspires the way I think about horn lines and composition even now. I still have vinyls and CDs signed by the band.

Aretha Franklin
I was brought up in a house that had walls of CDs in classical, RnB and contemporary music. Aretha Franklin, in particular her performance of "Think" in the movie Blues Brothers, made my heart hurt. She has the most amazing vocal range and control. All old school RnB and ragtime are favourites but Aretha tops the bill of awesome.

Skunk Anansie

The minute I heard "Stoosh" front to back I was hooked. I earned every nuance of that album. Skin's unique tone and the ability to scream as well as sing through three octaves still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The band's unique sound is flawless, and at that time was completely unrivalled. They had managed to create this whole new brand of rock music that was fervent and feverish and I wanted to do something like that so badly.

No Doubt
Another vocal legend, another band that created a new niche in rock music. The influences of Ska and rock were clear, but the introduction of electro and pop made them stand out fully. Gwen's unique style and idiosyncratic vocals coupled with her beauty made her desirable in so many ways. The days I spent daydreaming wishing I was her!

The Specials
Time for a couple of real old school influences! Along with Madness and other Two Tone legends, some of my early music memories are hanging on to my Dad's belt with my sisters dancing around the living room to The Specials. Ska is still a huge influence on the music I write, and they have written some of the best, most iconic songs in that genre.

Sex Pistols
It might have been contrived, engineered by McClaren and taken up by a bunch of crazy, fame hungry junkies, but Sex Pistols’ manic sound and scratchy, scathing vocals resonate with me. I love the pure anarchy of the sound.

Capdown
Just... How cool are they? Their manic style, the ska-core frantic energy and the demo-esque quality to their records... Jake and his incredible, scratchy vocals and lightning fast sax playing... I got likened to Capdown recently after a show and I very nearly kissed the person who said it out of sheer gratitude for such high praise.

Lazy Habits
Live hiphop. LIVE HIPHOP! With wo drum kits, huge brass section, vocalists, guitars, bass. They are funky, super cool, pull out some of the best horn hooks and lyrical licks ever and are all really, REALLY lovely people.

Cypress Hill
My Dad started listening to them in 1991 when Black Sunday came out. He bought it the week it was released. It was my first taste of hiphop and I loved it. I remember dancing round the lounge and learning the words. I didn't know what half of them meant but thought it was infinitely funny that the lyrics "toss that ham in the frying pan" would end up in a song. They had this dark and dangerous sound and I still can't get enough. Still one of my favourite hiphop albums ever.

Rage Against The Machine
I was in high school when I first heard Rage. I was just getting into Nu Metal - Limp Bizkit and the likes. The political energy, Zac's infinitely amazing vocal performances and the out-of-the-box instrument use from the band captured my imagination. Every bassist wanted to learn the bass lines. Every guitarist wanted to take their jack out and make cray noises on the plec plate. Every vocalist wanted to be able to spit and sing and scream. They were a musical revolution. Ground breaking and awesome!

Like Millie Manders here: https://www.facebook.com/milliemandersmusic

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Album Review: Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia by Mischief Brew


Back in February long running folk punk band Mischief Brew released a new album named Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia. Strictly speaking Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia isn't a completely new release, it combines Mischief Brew’s two earliest releases - Tracks one to six are from the Philadelphia side of a split with Robert Blake and tracks five to eleven are from the EP Bakenal. All the songs have been remastered from their original recordings.


Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia begins with the song Every Town Will Celebrate. This song talks about the commercialisation of towns across America that are all becoming cookie cutter places with all the main streets becoming the same and having the same chain shops and restaurants on them. The song moves along at a nice tempo and is a rousing sing-a-long track. Old Tyme Mem'ry starts off with a much slower tempo and a heavier tone. The mood of the song does pick up at the chorus though with Mischief Brew leader Erik Peterson singing about reminiscing about the times when people where trained in a craft and life wasn't all about possessions. I really like the feel of the song, it does make you imagine being in the bar with Peterson whilst he tells the stories. Up next is a song named Boycott Me! For an acoustic song this starts very quickly and hooks you in immediately. It's another big, rousing song that will get a crowd singing loudly together. That's what this type of music is all about; bringing a community together and fighting for a common goal.

When I first saw that the fourth song Dirty Pennies was over six minutes long I immediately thought "oh this could go on a bit" but thankfully it doesn't. It's actually a beautiful song telling the story of a homeless woman who was given kindness by a young boy who grows up and forgets who she is. It makes me think about how when you are young you don't judge anyone but when you are growing up you are often taught to be afraid of things that are different. Liberty Unmasked begins with some great traditional marching drums that give you an impression something big is on the horizon. It's an uplifting folk anthem. I like the rawness of the track, it gives the song a more rooted, everyman feel. The sixth song is named Fare Well, Good Fellows. Musically the song is fairly simple with Peterson using his vocals to really carry the melody of the song. It feels like a good camp fire sing-a-long with its simple catchy chorus of "Fare Well, Good Fellows, Your Ways Are Not For Me, Rest Upon Your Laurels, Glad You Found Your Peace, But Fare Well, Good Fellows, Your Ways Are Not For Me". Devil Of A Time has an Eastern European twist to it. It puts another string on the Mischief Brew bow and keeps Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia from becoming stale.

Track number eight - Rambler's Ghost - is an energetic and up-tempo song. I enjoyed the song but I couldn't help but feel like I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if there had been a full band version to it. It sounds like it's trying to have a big sound but that incredibly difficult with just an acoustic guitar. The following song The Drunk Of Three Nights suffers from a similar problem. It builds up to a big sound but doesn't stay big long enough to really keep my attention for long enough. The penultimate song - Roll Me Through The Gates Of Hell sees Mischief Brew revert back to a more traditional folk punk style with just acoustic guitar and vocals. Starting out with a simple beat and a catchy opening, it’s a song that will get a crowd singing along instantly. I really love the irony that one of the catchiest lines from the album is "I Am A Leader But You Will Not Follow Me". This song is exactly how I like my folk punk. Baccenhal 'N' Philadelphia is completed by a softer track named Anti-Lullaby. It's a good change of pace from Roll Me Through The Gates Of Hell and is a fantastic way to finish the album. Despite its slower pace it's still a track to get people singing along and getting involved. It has an anthemic feel to it, it will get your arms round the person next to you and have singing like your life depends on it. It's punk rock.

This is a fun walk down memory lane for old time Mischief Brew fans as well as an interesting look at the beginnings of one of the most respected bands in the folk punk world. Definitely worth checking out.

Stream and download Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia here: https://mischiefbrew.bandcamp.com/album/bacchanal-n-philadelphia

Like Mischief Brew here: https://www.facebook.com/mischiefbrew

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Album Review: Civil War by Dillinger Four


On the 28th of April something very exciting is happening at The Dome in Tufnell Park - Dillinger Four are playing a very, very rare UK show, popping to the UK on their way to play Groezrock Festival in Belgium. I'm very excited for this gig as Dillinger Four are a band I never expected to see and so I decided to go back and review one of my favourite D4 album - Civil War. Civil War came out in 2008 on Fat Wreck Chords and to date is the band's latest album.


The opening song on Civil War is A Jingle For The Product. Anyone who is unfamiliar with Dillinger Four's sound will soon fall in love with lead singer Erik Funk’s distinctive raspy vocals. The track is a mid-tempo song about remembering all of the battles you tried to fight when you were younger and the frustrations of things not going quite to plan. Up next comes Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woes. The dual guitars in this are the highlight of a song about fighting to make a change. I like how one chugs along whilst the other throws in some nice melodic chords. The tempo of the song is good and fills me with energy and I love how they change the melody for the lines "They Can Cover Their Ears, But We Won't Stop Screaming!" That's the big line in the song that will really get a crowd shouting loudly. Parishiltonisametaphor begins with a piano intro reminiscent of something from an old speakeasy bar before some big guitars explode the song into life. A much harder and gruffer vocal is provided from bass player Patrick Costello. Costello's vocals are much more aggressive than Funk's as he sings a song about the birth of the non-celebrity - those celebrities who have become famous just for having rich parents rather than for having any actual talents. It's a sad and depressing part of our modern culture that we celebrate someone because they are related to someone with a lot of pennies. The fourth song, Gainesville, is my favourite on the record, if not one of my favourites of all time. Because of the lyrics "And It Feels Like Summer In October, And I Hope This Day Is Never Over" Gainesville has become the anthem for The Fest, which happens every year in late October, but for me it's so much more than that. It's an uplifting song about not wasting your life waiting for things to happen and instead going out and getting them yourself. This is summed up perfectly in the bridge of the song as Funk sings "Time Was Wasted, We're Moving Way Too Slow, Lets Go Before We're Old, Time Doesn't Wait For Me". This is a fantastic sing-a-long, fist-in-the-air song that I really can't wait to hear live.

Ode To The North American Snake Oil Distributor always reminds me of Bad Religion during the short guitar introduction. On this track Funk sings about things not always being black and white and that sometimes there is a grey area. The line "How Can You Judge What You Don't Understand" is one that stands out in particular. Like Gainesville, this is a positive and uplifting feeling song. The sixth song is Minimum Wage Is A Gateway Drug and is about it being okay to do a minimum wage job and how having the high-powered, big-money job isn't for everyone. Vocally the song is very rough and sometimes you have to listen quite closely to make out the lyrics in the verses but I like this. It's punk rock, it doesn't have to be perfect! The chorus, however, is extremely clear and simple: shouting "This American Me!" over and over. Next song The Classical Arrangement starts very slowly with some guitar feedback and Funks carefully delivered vocals. Eventually the tempo of the song does pick up for one final verse. I enjoyed how long it takes for the tempo to pick up, it takes so long it makes the listener think it's not actually coming but when it does it's really worth the wait. The Classical Arrangement is a song about religion and not judging people because of their faith or lack of faith. This is something I can really relate to. It's fantastic that Dillinger Four have written such a song, like the lyrics says "And We Are Only Tiny Droplets In The Ocean". By this they mean we don't know whether there is or isn't a higher power somewhere so we might as well all get on with each other in the meantime. Americaspremierfaithbasedinitative wastes no time in getting going with Funk’s vocals hitting you straight away. The track is about coming together and fighting for what you believe in. The song has much more of a pop punk feel to it than anything else on Civil War, but this is by no means a terrible thing. Sometimes it's good to have some big hooks!

The ninth song on the Civil War is called The Art of Whore. After the more upbeat feel of Americaspremierfaithbasedinitative The Art Of Whore goes back to a more serious and mature sound. Funk's vocals are delivered quickly and with a lot of intent and little time is wasted throughout the song with the approach firmly in the world of less-is-more. Nothing too fancy, just get the job done. That is until the end of the song when it goes into a small breakdown before a final big sing-a-long. Up next is a slower and softer song titled Fruity Pebbles. It's a gentle plodder of a track with much cleaner vocals than anything else one album, this is probably the most accessible song of the whole Dillinger Four back catalogue. It's a song dedicated to a fallen friend with some particularly poignant lyrics at the end of the song - "Cause Tonight I Guess I'm Drinking Alone, And Y'Know I'd Like To Think, That Then Again We'll Share A Drink, I Just Got To Know It Won't Be Tonight, But Today I'm Drinking Alone, Yeah Today I'm Not Singing Alone, I Know I'm Never Singing Alone". The pace is then picked up for a pounding song titled A Pyre Laid For Image And Frame. Again Erik Funk shows that every word sang is meant by adding a whole lot of attitude to every line. The song is about learning to let go of impossible dreams and discovering that life could be better without them. There seems to be a lot more emotion in Funk’s vocals during this song, which really adds to the track. The penultimate song on Civil War is named Like Eye Contact In An Elevator and it is the first time on the record that Funk and Costello share vocal duties, which I absolutely love. Having multiple vocalists on a song always adds a lot of energy to it. The song is about being stuck in a boring conversation and not being able to get out of it (we've all been there). I can't think of any songs that have tackled this subject, very creative songwriting. Like Eye Contact In An Elevator also features the first guitar solo on Civil War, adding something else to their style. The final song on the album is Clown Cars On Cinder Blocks. The track begins with just guitars and vocals (reminding me of the Foo Fighters) before slowly building into one last punk rock banger. It's a fast-paced track with plenty of sing-a-long moments, including a big chorus. This final track is another of the more pop infused songs on Civil War and is a brilliantly uplifting way to finish.

If Civil War is the last full-length album that Dillinger Four release then it is certainly a fantastic record to complete a fine body of work. Gosh I can't wait to hear some of these songs live and in person!

Stream and download Civil War here: https://dillingerfour.bandcamp.com/

Like Dillinger Four here: https://www.facebook.com/Dillinger4/

Monday, 25 April 2016

Album Review: Ruin Or Worse by Geistfight


Geistfight are a ska punk and hardcore band from Guildford. Back in March they released their debut EP named Ruin Or Worse. Stating that they play "a high energy set of head banging breakdowns, killer sax and guitar solos, skanking ska and tons of attitude" this was a release I just had to check out!


There are always a lot of misconceptions in music, one being that all ska music sounds the same. This could not be further from the truth and Geistfight prove this from the opening track, Real Value. Starting out with a super fast sax solo and then a complicated guitar riff the vocals come in, with voices seemingly coming from everywhere. Eventually a main voice comes to the front, reminding me of the mighty Capdown. The track sums up everything Geistfight are as they take us on a ride full of skanking, and big sax and guitar solos with the odd hardcore vocals thrown in for added emphasis. This continues with the following track - The Fine Line. Starting out with a big drum beat and some nice bass lines before some high tempo saxophone playing comes in. The whole track is geared towards some high energy dancing and even when things are slowed down you know they are building up again for a crazy finale. Phenomenal! It has a bit more of a funk rock feel to it, which is much needed after a fast and frantic opening two songs. Despite the mix up of styles I still felt as if Geistfight were taking me on a musical adventure and I was fully engrossed in the song. This is a testament to the high level of musicianship in the band. The tempo is then raised again for the penultimate track Counting Hours. After a rapid fire drum roll the sax comes in and gets you moving again. The song brilliantly jumps between ska and hardcore punk rock again giving you a feeling of not knowing what will be coming next, other than some big energy of course. There is an absolutely fantastic guitar solo in the song as well, giving the song another brilliant dimension. You'd think big guitar solos shouldn't really work in a ska punk song but here it is perfect. Ruin Or Worse is completed with the song True Warriors. I expected the EP to finish with another big, fast in your face ska punk number but instead Geistfight have gone down the route of reggae. Displaying yet another string on an already impressive bow (that makes sense in my tiny mind) this is a fun way to finish things. The song starts slowly with the reggae but slowly builds into more of a ska song before finishing with a big explosion of everything that's great about Geistfight; big solos and massive energy.

Ruin Or Worse is a fantastic release! If you're a fan of ska punk and you haven't heard of this guys or checked out the EP then do so immediately. Ruin Or Worse is five songs of explosiveness that will get you moving and really capture your imagination.

Stream and download Ruin Or Worse here: https://geistfight.bandcamp.com/album/ruin-or-worse

Like Geistfight here: https://www.facebook.com/Geistfight

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Top Tens: Patrick Craig's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


I am often called folk-punk as a genre, and it is something I understand as being more about mentality, rather than necessarily a sound. Folk music has a history of being something that belongs to the people; performers who travel around as much as possible and work with what you already have. Which, to my knowledge, is much the same as Punk. So for this list, I focused more on punk music, although I think the DIY mentality and integrity in apparent in all of these bands and musicians.

Green Day
Green Day were my gateway band into punk, as a genre. My sister came home with some music she’d got from a friend, and one of the CDs was American Idiot. At the time I had just got an electric guitar, so after borrowing the “play-a-long” book from a friend of mine, I immediately joined a band. Admittedly, we pretty much only played Green Day songs, and we probably weren’t very good, but that energy and power in the music ignited something within me, and I still get a kick every time I hear the start of Jesus of Suburbia.

Dropkick Murphys
My dad was very much into Irish folk music, so we always had The Fureys and the Dubliners playing in the house. I remember first hearing “The Green Fields Of France” by Dropkick Murphys, and then “The Fields Of Athenry” and it blowing my tiny, tiny mind. The Murphys' version of Green Fields of France is relatively akin to the original (or at least the versions I had grown up listening to) but their version of “Fields…” is full of the anguish and emotion that the song is about, but tipped towards ire and aggression, rather than mourning. And it was LOUD. So I think hearing songs that I already sort of knew but in a punk setting definitely broadened my horizons. And then I heard “Shipping Off to Boston” and I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered.

Frank Turner
I first came across Frank Turner in a list of “30 tracks to check out this month” in Total Guitar, for “The Real Damage”. I remember listening to “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” and “Fathers Day” and loving the songwriting more than anything else. I saved up and bought ‘Sleep is for the Week’ track by track as my pocket money would allow. Then, when “Love, Ire and Song” came out I went to an in-store at Banquet Records (still in my school uniform I think) and was absolutely blown away. I’ve loved Frank’s music since then, and he remains very influential.

The Clash
Someone gave me (shortly after American Idiot) two Green Day covers - “Brown Eyed Girl” and “I Fought The Law”. I knew Van Morrison (parents are fans), but had never really heard The Clash (aside from London Calling on adverts and the like). So when a friend made me a mixtape which included “White Man (In Hammersmith Palais)” and “Guns of Brixton”, it all made sense. Punk wasn’t just safety pins and loud out of tune guitars, there could be reggae ideas in the music, and lyrics that talk of politics, injustice and social issues, as well as being able to dance to it.

Billy Bragg
Levi Stubbs’ Tears is one of the greatest songs ever. To have the aggression of an overdriven electric guitar and the simplicity of just that and a voice (and a trumpet and bongos at the end). After hearing some of Billy Bragg’s songs on youtube ("Waiting for The Great Leap Forwards”is in my head of one I found) I went to my local library and got “Must I Paint You a Picture”, the best of (up to a certain date, I can’t remember which date) and loved the angry political songs, as well as the heartfelt tender music that Bragg has also produced. Scroobius Pip always says that he bases his opinions on matters according to what Bragg says about them, and I’d be lying if I said that he doesn’t have a solid influence on me politically and musically.

Against Me!
One of the best modern punk bands. Laura Jane Grace is an amazing songwriter, and their arrangements of her songs are exactly how punk has naturally progressed. ’Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a fantastic album, one that combines the social commentary in the lyrics and the aggression in the music. I think it definitely helps that if you ever watch videos of Laura solo, the songs do not lose any of their impact thanks to her delivery and passion.

Jonah Matranga
Jonah for me is the essence of DIY. I’ve loved Jonah’s music for several years but it is his mentality and tenacity that I find so influential. The fact that he books tours anywhere that will take him and his “pay-what-you-can” approach have been two things that I have tried to keep integral to my mentality when it comes to music. I saw him at 2000 Trees last year and was so shaken up (in a good way) that afterwards I went back to my tent and wrote several songs in a row. And if that isn’t influential then I don’t know what is.

The Front Bottoms
Possibly my favourite band of the last few years. Someone shared “Twin Sized Mattress” on Facebook, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with them. A perfect example of building slowly, self releasing home-recorded EPs, and then making two amazing albums in the self-titled and 'Talon of The Hawk'. I do love ‘Back on Top’, but in a slightly different way. The fact that they recorded the first two all together in a live room and then did some small overdubs shows such a level of musicianship and rehearsal, and something that I definitely wanted to do when it came to recording ‘True Story’.

The Mountain Goats
This is fully a mentality rather than a music thing. 4 chords on an acoustic guitar and pure poetry spat out at the audience, done with such passion and integrity. The fact that John Darnielle recorded on an old boombox, tape hiss and all, gives an extra layer to the songs. There’s definitely parallels to be drawn between the early Mountain Goats and early Front Bottoms (and the fact that TFB are fans of the Mountain Goats) and (dare I say it) some of my first releases, in that the urgency is present: The songs need to be heard, so they must be recorded quickly with whatever equipment you have to hand so you can play these songs to people.

If you want to see acoustic punk at its best, watch The Mountain Goats’ show at the Swedish American Hall. And enjoy every minute of that hour and a half.

The Smith Street Band/Wil Wagner
Just recently I’ve started listening to more of The Smith Street Band, and I am loving every second of new discovery. A friend gave me Wil’s solo record - “Laika”, which is possibly the best acoustic record ever made. Just do yourself a favour - go and listen to them. And then go see them on their July tour.

I’ve talked a lot now. I hope you’ve enjoyed that. If you want to argue or agree with me I’m @pcraiguk on twitter, or you can contact me at pcraiguk@gmail.com

Like Patrick Craig here: https://www.facebook.com/pcraiguk

Check out a review of Patrick's new album True Story here: http://colinspunkrockworld.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/album-review-true-story-by-patrick-craig.html

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Album Review: Friendville by Sunrise Skater Kids (by Dan Peters)


Parody can be a difficult thing to pull off, as the highs and lows of a Weird Al album can attest to. It’s filled with pitfalls and done wrong can come off slightly bitter or jealous. You also stand the chance of alienating the fan base of the thing you’re parodying, meaning you’re left with no audience.


Of course when it’s done well it can often outshine even the original material it was aped from and luckily this is the case with Friendville, the indiegogo funded album by fictional pop punk band Sunrise Skater Kids. The band is the brainchild of Jarrod Alonge, Youtube celebrity and rock comedian.

Sunrise Skater Kids are everything that 2000s pop punk bands are known for. Clean high pitched vocals, easycore breakdowns, catchy riffs and big choruses. Because of this if you’re already not a fan of bands like Four Year Strong, New Found Glory, Blink-182, Sum 41 and The Wonder Years then there’s not much here that’s going to win you over. By virtue of it being a parody of those bands the styles and tropes found in those bands are all very much present and exaggerated to comedic effect. You won’t be blown away by innovation, but you will be blown away by quality if you’ve ever liked the above mentioned acts.

I’ll get the bad out of the way first. As I mentioned there is no new ground treaded, which is of course to be expected from something designed to play on the styles of established acts. The lyrics here fall into two categories; on the one hand you have songs explaining the concept laid out in the title, like in Pit Warrior and All The Old Things. Other the other, you have pure nonsense. These are words that are used to fill in the vocal style and to allude to tropes and concepts that are often found in pop punk (hanging with friends, hating your hometown, eating pizza etc). The bottom line here is if you like your music deep then you came to the wrong place.

But with that out the way, let’s focus on the good. The quality here is astounding for what is essentially something recorded by one guy in his bedroom. The music is just top-tier pop punk. It’s amazing to listen to something that’s actually better in a lot of ways than the style being parodied. The humour is totally on point for anyone who likes to poke fun at themselves. It’s like the best of HardTimes.net for pop punk in musical form. Star Wars related acoustic ballad Rylo Ken hasn’t failed to put a smile on my face after several play-throughs.

Overall Friendville is a great fun, catchy, high quality offering that gives us the entire Sunrise Skater Kids discography to date, something any fan of pop punk over the last 20 years will be amused by. It’s all available on YouTube so there’s no reason not to give it a whirl.

Like Sunrise Skater Kids here: https://www.facebook.com/SunriseSkaterKidsOfficial

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Art of Punk: Righteous Indignation


Iron Chic are a band that always have really distinct album covers and tour posters. Why? Because the man behind their artwork also happens to be Jason Lubrano, vocalist for the band. This means that he has full control and understanding of all things visual for Iron Chic. When Jason is holding a pen rather than a microphone he goes by the name Righteous Indignation and produces illustrations for (other) bands, record labels, zines, etc.


Righteous Indignation provides custom Layout and Illustration services for your band, record label, zine, business, organisation or whatever other things that might need it. Fine art commissions are also available so if you want ads, record covers, and posters or just a gross/scary monster to hang on your wall I've got you covered.

And ‘gross/scary monsters’ is a pretty good representation of Righteous Indignation’s style as he is a master of creating weird, wonderful and, yeah, quite grotesque creatures. Of course, the most memorable of these creatures is the fat, red, many-armed little creature riding in an, err, skull spider thing on the cover of Iron Chic’s first full-length album, Not Like This. Perhaps this is the Cutesy Monster Man?


With Iron Chic’s second album, The Constant One, Righteous Indignation uses another visual theme and it’s an odd one… creatures or body parts coming out of other creatures. Seriously, look at all these illustrations:

 
 

Righteous Indignation’s style is very graphic novel-esque, with thick black lines and, when not simply in black and white, bold colours. I don’t know if he’s done anything more story-based with his creatures and characters but it would be awesome if he did – I can almost picture it now! Also, note the Watchmen reference in the image below. I can really picture his creatures being produced as vinyl toys as well (Google that if you don’t know exactly what I mean). 


Oddly their latest release, the three-track 7” EP Ys, sees Righteous Indignation step away from the scary monster theme. Instead of a monster Ys features an illustration of an astronaut that wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of a black and white comic book. It’s a great cover, well composed with simple typography and a black background that looks like it’s been lino or screen printed – a bit patchy and rough around the edges. But I’m sure the weird and wonderful creatures will be back because, let’s face it, that’s what punks love!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Gig Review: Jake & The Jellyfish at The Monarch 15/4/16 (by Emma Prew)


When Jake & The Jellyfish announced that they would be playing a free show at Camden’s The Monarch pub I didn’t hesitate to put it in my [metaphorical] diary. Despite being a week before Manchester Punk Festival, where they are high on my list of bands to see, I was keen to see them in London as well. Of course, Colin came along too – he’s the one who introduced me to the band last year.

The band were supported by a, and I quote, ‘rock ’n’ roll’ trio called No Sugar. It was an odd choice of support act and far from what I’m used to. The guitarist was clearly very skilled but after a couple of songs with intense guitar parts, I got a bit bored. To be honest it kind of felt like two separate gigs!


So anyway, on with the band we actually wanted to see! Jake, singer and acoustic guitarist of the band – with some of the longest dreadlocks I’ve ever seen – expressed how happy they were to be playing in London, having not played for a while and the enthusiasm was soon showing in their performance.

Jake & The Jellyfish are a band that aren’t afraid to mix up lots of different styles of music into one. Ranging from folk, ska, reggae and punk, a Jake & The Jellyfish setlist is a varied one. They started their set with Richard on electric guitar but it wasn’t long before he put the guitar down and took up the violin. I love all of a Jake & The Jellyfish live performance but, personally, I think they are at their best when they are embracing the more folky and lively side of their music. We’d spotted a familiar face holding an accordion earlier and recognised him as being Joe from Will Tun And The Wasters. He joined the band on stage and was a great addition to their live sound (actually, I think he’s the accordion player on record too!). Although we did note afterwards that it was a shame there was no trombone for Coffee Tally – although maybe Bobble from Faintest Idea will join them at MPF.


They played a number of songs from their first album, Credit Cards & Overdrafts; Tunnel Vision, Rise and Shine, Black, White & Grey and Dotted Line, plus many from last year’s Dead Weight; Coffee Tally, Don’t Follow The Leader, 23 and Homesick. And, as I’d seen them do last year in Bristol, they joined us in the crowd for the last song of their set – an unplugged version of Hypocrites. There was some talking in other parts of the pub but Jake’s voice managed to carry loud and clear, even without a microphone. There was even some crowd participation for the ‘woah-oh-oh’s at the end. Awesome.


If you’re at Manchester Punk Festival this weekend I highly recommend that you get down early to see Jake & The Jellyfish who are opening the Zombie Shack stage on Saturday. You can also catch them on tour with Faintest Idea next month!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Early Gigs


A few days ago I was reminded of something about gigging in London that really annoys me. Early blooming gigs for fudging club nights! A lot of venues in London have them every Friday and Saturday night after a gig. I kind of understand why they do it, they want to make more money, but it makes it unfair on the thousands of people who gig in London but don't actually live there.

London, being the capital city of England, is the centre of all things gigs in the country. It's not just people from London who travel to the city to see their favourite bands. People from Essex, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Kent, Brighton, Berkshire and many other areas around London also do. Folk from most of these places will have to travel at least an hour to get to London. I also assume that the majority of these people also work and probably work to at least 5pm. Using me as an example (as I know my own routine) I finish work at 5pm, go home, get changed and get everything I need for the night and head to the station. I usually get there in time to get the 18.03 train to Liverpool Street and arrive in London just before 7. Then I jump on the Underground. Most tube journeys to gigs I attend take 15-20 minutes. So the earliest I can really get to a gig is about 7.30pm. On most days this is perfect timing. But what about on early gig nights?

For an early gig the venue would normally open its doors at 6pm with the first band starting 30 minutes later. So from the start out-of-town gig-goers are missing something they've paid good money to see and the opening bands crowd will not have the same amount of people as they would have an hour later, making early gigs unfair on both the bands and the fans. I'm always quite put off by early gigs, knowing I'm either going to have to pay knowing that I'll miss part of the night or if I want to make sure I see the whole gig I have to book time off of work. Booking time off work is a feasible option but it just seems like a waste of yearly holiday allowance for the sake of an extra hour.

To be honest, this isn't so much of a column as it is a rant about something that is quite frustrating and seems fairly needless. Basically London venues should stop doing early shows for club nights and I and many other people will be happy.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Top Tens: Robot Doctors Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


Robot Doctors are a punk rock band from Dundee. Here are their top ten punk rock influences.


Green Day (Darren, vocals and guitar)

Without a doubt this bands biggest album, the one everyone talks about, is Dookie but my love for this band began with Kerplunk.

I was 13 when I heard the band for the first time. Dookie had been out for about eight years, Nimrod and Insomniac had been released and Warning was being finished up. I suddenly had my eyes opened to a whole new genre of music and had album upon album to listen to.

I had never heard music like this before and although I haven't been a fan of anything released by Green Day in quite a few years, I would still to this day argue that Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the best lyricists to make music.

…And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid (Iain, guitar and vocals)

This was the very first punk album that really caught my attention. Previously I had been listening to nu-metal bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit but Rancid’s catchy courses and fast-paced, punchy three-minute songs had me hooked from the word go. I was also playing bass at the time and, as any Rancid fan knows, Matt Freemans epic bass lines were enough to keep your attention before you even noticed the rest of the music.

The bass solo in the opening track, Maxwell Murders, set my music goal for the next few years. I never did learn it. The album opened up a whole new world of bands and music for me that I can say for certain was the start of my love for punk music.

Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World (Kieran, bass)

I was 15-years-old when the title track’s chorus boomed from the TV and demanded I pay attention. I did, which proved to be a good move in both the short and long term.

Jimmy are one of those bands I return to regularly and are a big influence on all of us in Robot Doctors. This LP is magnificent from start to finish. It is musically brilliant, catchy and reflects real life lyrically through heartbreak and making subtle social and political observations.

Nirvana (Craig, drums)

First and foremost, Nirvana may sound like a strange choice for a punk influence but actually I consider them to have been a punk band more than a “grunge” band. The term didn’t technically exist when they started and came from a scene of bands from America with a particular sound.

Sure grunge is the first thing we think of when we consider Nirvana’s short lived work but in actuality they were a punk band. Certainly with their ethos anyway, as well as with their fast-paced take on rock music.

Asides from the criticisms about perhaps being a band that perhaps contradicted themselves at times, an everlasting impression people hopefully remember them for was that they were a band that promoted the fact that we should be accepting of all people. They often spoke out against fascism, homophobia and misogyny. A far more positive message for youngsters than the image of Axl Rose violating a woman for an audio recording on an album. A feeling I believe is strong in the punk community.

Nirvana influenced me when I was younger as a gateway band to many others. Listen to songs such as Territorial Pissings, Sliver or even Smells like Teen Spirit. These are great, thrashy, punk tracks for a young teenager whose musical exposure was as limited as it was when I was 11-years-old.

Dave Grohl’s certainly been a large influence on me learning how to play the drums. I still remember learning the drum intro Teen Spirit and being overjoyed.

Hot Water Music (Kieran)

I was a latecomer to HMW. In fact, my first encounter with them was Dave and I’s old band being compared to them. We duly went away for a listen and became rather chuffed with ourselves for a few days. Combining aggression and melody, there are few things better than this band in full flow.

Alkaline Trio (Darren)

This was one of the bands that Green Day led me to. Alkaline Trio always had a darker edge to them. They make punk rock that is often morbid but also incredibly romantic. Kind of like Edgar Allan Poe armed with an electric guitar! Although I don't think Matt, Dan or Derek have married within their own families.

An argument is often made that “rock music corrupts our youth” but for me and many others, punk rock has always addressed universal themes honestly and growing up there was nothing more comforting to me than to feel I wasn't alone in the way I felt. Alkaline Trio are a great example of this. Also... they are a three-piece packing a serious punch!

Kerrang (Iain)

As much as I would probably sit and slate most of the music that is featured on Kerrang TV today, the channel was the first consistent window into the world of alternative music that I had access to.

Back in the day, hanging out with friends would be heading over to someone’s house who had Sky TV and sitting there for hours on end watching all the metal, nu metal, rock, punk and ska music you could handle at the age of 14. We even used to make compilation VHS tapes of our favourite bands that less fortunate friends without Kerrang could take home… simpler times.

When the P-Rock channel was introduced later I really found myself in my element listening for the first time to punk bands like The Bouncing Souls and Pennywise, who would quickly find their way onto my CD rack in abundance.

The best thing about Kerrang is, although there are plenty more ways to expose yourself to new music these days, I’m sure that they are still doing their part in shaping young people’s lives with regards to music tastes looking to the alternative.

Laura Jane Grace (Craig)

Hopefully not too many people have been living under a rock and know who LJG is but understandably we don’t all listen to rock music so here’s the picture for anyone reading who doesn’t know of her. Laura Jane Grace was once known as Tom Gabel and is still currently the lead singer of punk band Against Me!. A band I’ve listened to and enjoyed for many years now. In 2012 it was announced that Laura had come out openly as a woman after suffering from transgender dysphoria.

Now, for me, the issue of someone who truly believes they are a man or a woman and is born differently but is living a life they don’t feel comfortable with is absurd. Especially if it stems from the idea that you need to be who you are for other people even though it actually makes you miserable.

Now it just so happens she fronts a band I admire so this is not just limited to LJG as the issue still stands for anyone who suffers from any affliction whereby someone is suppressed by the pressure to conform to society’s norm. I’m mostly influenced here by the positive response to the news and the awareness that has been created through punk music. No one else should decide what makes you happy for you.

The Living End (Darren)

At this point it seems as though I only listen to three-piece bands. This Australian punk rockabilly or “psychobilly” band (a rose by any other name, huh!) were introduced to me by a good friend back when I was at college and kicking up dirt in the streets of Arbroath!

What I love about these guys is it just sounds raw. Chris Cheney is an amazing guitarist but, more importantly to me, can write great hooks and catchy choruses without compromising that pace or raw sound. The double bass is just a great addition to any band!

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys at the Astoria in London 12 years ago and, despite what I can only describe as the world’s most aggressive hangover, I loved every second they were on stage.

The Masses Against The Classes by Manic Street Preachers (Kieran)

Not very punk? Think again. It got to number one in the charts without a music video. It quotes Chomsky and Camus and references Gladstone (“all the world over, I will back the masses against the classes”). Plus it’s a damned good tune. The Manics are my favourite band. You never know what they’re going to do next. That’s punk to me. Oh, and I’ve borrowed lots of Nicky Wire’s stage moves over the years.

Dave (guitar and vocals) simply doesn’t like music, unfortunately. We harness his talents after winning them in a bet with a mysterious hooded man by the roadside in Padanarm. That’s the only reason he even tolerates us as a band. It’s all just “noise and thumping” to him, apparently.

Check out Robot Doctors on Bandcamp here: https://robotdoctors.bandcamp.com/

Like Robot Doctors here: https://www.facebook.com/RobotDoctors

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Album Review: True Story by Patrick Craig (by Emma Prew)


Patrick Craig is one of my favourite up-and-coming young singer-songwriters around at the moment. He releases his debut album, True Story, on the 29th April on Under The Bridge Records. We were lucky enough to hear the album a couple of weeks before its official release and Colin let me take a stab at reviewing it.


The album opens with the title track, True Story, in which Patrick sings of an insecure young female who finds escape in skinny dipping and drinking alcohol. The song begins with simple palm-muted guitar but progresses into more of a full band affair throughout the song. The sea sound effect is a nice touch at the end of the song, although it does make me long for the seaside!

Your Life Jacket Is Under Your Seat flows well from the previous song with a continuation of the seaside sounds, this time overlaid with guitar and drums. The song is quite a slow one featuring honest lyrics about being able to pick yourself back up again when things get bad. Patrick has an excellent way with words, ‘I may stumble, and I may fall. But I will pick myself back up, Like I’ve done a couple of times before. I refuse to sink but I’m not sure how far I can swim. So lead me to the water and throw me in.’ Those lines in particular remind me of Wil Wagner of The Smith Street Band, although musically they are quite different.

The third track on the album, Cold Coffee In Cracked Mugs, sees the guitars take a backseat while haunting piano-playing takes the forefront. It suits the melancholic lyrics of the song and gives it even more of a heartfelt feel. The song is about how people can sometimes find themselves in desperate situations in which they don’t get on with one another anymore. ‘You read these stories of people you’ll never be, Having adventures you’ve never had and never will have. But if it’s you and be against the world then I’ll guess we’ll call it a draw.’

The guitar is back for Words Unspoken, as is the theme of singing about a troubled person (and a female at that) and trying to be there for them. The song is an emotional one and it really feels like Patrick is baring his soul. Musically it doesn’t use anything but an acoustic guitar but that’s really all it needs. At this point I will point out Patrick’s obvious similarities to Frank Turner, both musically and lyrically, but I don’t mean that negatively. For one thing I love Frank Turner and for another Patrick’s songs seem all the more relatable than Mr Turner’s, for people in their twenties at least.

Splinters is the next song on True Story. Following on from earlier themes on the album, the song is about having negative feelings and not being alone in that. Whereas in Your Life Jacket Is Under The Seat Patrick sang of picking himself back up, in Splinters Patrick is singing of others being able to pick themselves up after a rough time, perhaps a break up. ‘There’s no such thing as a clean break, splinters get left behind. Even the deepest cut, heals over time. I’m sorry this isn’t easy, but it gets better. Believe me.’ This is another almost entirely acoustic guitar-based song with some melodic picking as well as strummed chords.

The tempo picks up a bit for the next song, Fighter, as Patrick sings of overcoming depression and anxiety – or rather, fighting it. ‘So let’s go storm this barricade, We’ll go dancing in the rain. And when every demon is slain, We’ll sing we survived. We survived.’ There is a potential singalong moment towards the end of the song when Patrick sings ‘You are so much stronger than this.’ and another voice (possibly still Patrick’s but recorded separately, although I’m going to assume it is someone else!) echoes it back to him. It makes me believe in his words and I hope others believe in his words too. I’d love to see this song performed live with some audience participation.

Begin Again is louder than anything before it with full band from the outset. As the title suggests, Begin Again is about having to start over and rethinking how to do things after changes in your life. ‘Because you’re still living in North London, And I’m back at my parents’ house. And the distance isn’t anything, It’s just one more thing to figure out.’ It’s the kind of song I can imagine going down well when played live, like a hit single (if such a thing exists anymore) or a set closer. Again, it’s very Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls-esque but also reminds me of full-band Ducking Punches – perhaps this mean Patrick Craig could be a future signing to Xtra Mile!

Like Splinters, Drinking Too Much features some really lovely, haunting and melodic guitar playing. As you might imagine from the title, the song is about drinking too much alcohol, as many young people do, as a form of release. ‘We’re drinking our poison, We’ve got things inside of us we need to kill. We’ve been drinking too much.’ Although the song is nearly 3 minutes long (most of the tracks average at 3 or 4 minutes long), musically it sort of feels like an interlude.

The penultimate song on the album is one that I clearly remember hearing when I saw Patrick play live last year. I liked it then and I like it even more so now. Hold My Jacket is a song about wanting the freedom of being an adult without actually needing to ‘grow up’. ‘She wants to be an adult, But doesn’t want to grow up. I say surely you see where your argument is flawed.’ Patrick is joined by a female vocalist to sing the chorus, ‘Hold my jacket, I’m going in for a swim. And if the water is nice then baby won’t you come on in.’ which is a nice touch (and makes sense given the lyrics). Like Begin Again, Hold My Jacket is a powerful full band track that I’d love to see live, again – but with the full band next time!

The final track on True Story, It Matters, slows things down again to bring the album to a close. There is no mistaking that the album has come to an end with lyrics ‘Here’s to nights we’ll never remember, Here’s to friends we’ll never forget.’ The whole track is sort of muffled by whatever effects and samples they’ve used which is little bit strange as none of the other songs had such effects. It’s odd but doesn’t change the fact that It Matters ends a great album.

All-in-all True Story is excellent; varying musically from stripped back acoustic tracks to full band, full energy tracks with some piano thrown in for good measure. Lyrically the album is honest, heartfelt and highly relatable, encompassing themes of growing up, dealing with change, overcoming anxieties and being there for others. As I mentioned already, I would recommend for fans of Frank Turner and Ducking Punches.

You can pre-order True Story from Under The Bridge Records here.
And find Patrick Craig on Facebook here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Album Review: Sorry, We're Late by The Vaseliners


The Vaseliners are a pop punk band inspired by the likes of The Ramones, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, The Apers and The Groovie Ghoulies. The Italian five-piece formed in 2012 and this January they released their aptly named debut album Sorry We're Late. With those influences it was pretty obvious what kind of album you were going to get from The Vaseliners, so I was looking forward to giving it a listen. Here's what I thought.


The album starts out with a song named One Hit Wonder. As is completely obvious from the song’s title, it's about a band having one big hit that everyone knows and then getting tossed aside when the next band has their hit. As you can imagine, it’s a fast-paced track with very punchy vocals. From the outset it's clear The Vaseliners aren't reinventing the wheel but they are going to show their own spin on it. The Queers influence is clear on the second track Friendship Sinking. There are some fantastic harmonies to go along with the softened vocals. It's about drifting apart from the friends that you grew up with as you get older and travel down different life paths and sadly not caring about it. The Vaseliners rhythm section takes the lead on the next song Let You Go with a pounding drum beat and a rumbling bass line. It's a pop punk album so you have to have at least one song about getting over a girl, it's pretty much law! This track is played at a mid-tempo pace and nothing feels rushed despite the shortness of the song. Clearly these Italians don't like to be cryptic with their song titles - evident in the next track, Back To The Future. Ten points if you can guess what it's about! It's a fun, catchy song that fans of the film will really get a kick out of. The fifth song, Rollercoaster, is about the highs and lows of being with someone. This is a very melodic song with some more brilliant harmonies. There is an upbeat feel in the delivery of the song that I imagine would put many smiles on faces at a Vaseliners live show.

The fast-paced Hobson's Choice kicks off the second half of Sorry We're Late with a bang. After a couple of slower songs this really wakes the listener up again. I wasn't immediately aware of what the track was about so I took to Google to find out what Hobson's Choice is. According to Wikipedia it's when you are given a free choice but only one option is offered. Basically it's when you are in a "take it or leave it" scenario. The Hobson's Choice in the song is directed at being in a relationship and putting up with the bad along with having the good. Autumn begins with a simple beat that, along with the singer’s vocal, carries the melody. It's a simple but very effective way to grab a listener’s attention. From there of course the song kicks into a full band effort but the vocals continue to lead the way. The song is another song about relationships (it's a pop punk record), this time about feeling down at the end of the relationship and looking back on the good times. Obviously She's A Stalker is about wanting to be left alone by your ex-girlfriend after things come to an end. Lyrically this is one of my favourites on Sorry We're Late. The first verse in particular stood out and really dragged me into the song - "No No More Texts Or Emails, Don't Wanna Know How You Feel Now, Stop Walking My Way Till Home, I've Already Closed The Door". The penultimate song on the album is titled Mercurial and it is about struggling to cope in a relationship with someone who can be volatile and animated and the behaviour is making you dislike the person you're with. It feels like there is a bit more venom in the vocal delivery of the song than on previous tracks, which I'm pleased about as it shows some emotion. All music needs emotion. The final song on Sorry We're Late is Jennifer Blue. I really enjoyed the opening of the song with the trade off between vocals and music giving the song a great one, two punch. This method continues throughout the song and gives it an interesting sound.

It was a long wait for The Vaseliners album but it was really worth it. Lots of bands play this style of pop punk music but few do it as well as The Vaseliners. If there is going to be a better pop punk album this year then it will be an all time classic.

Stream and download Sorry We're Late here: https://thevaseliners.bandcamp.com/album/sorry-were-late

Like The Vaseliners here: https://www.facebook.com/thevaseliners

Monday, 11 April 2016

Album Review: Pre-Drinks by Joe McCorriston (by Emma Prew)


I first came across Joe McCorriston when Colin and I went to see John Allen at the Lock Tavern in Camden last October. It was actually Joe who was the headlining act, although we hadn’t known about him before, and rightly so as he turned out to be excellent. He earned himself a new fan that night and so when he announced a new EP, ahead of the release of his upcoming third album, I was keen to take a listen.


Pre-Drinks is a 4-track EP recorded live with Sean Barnes of Two-Faced Music Production and features 2 acoustic versions of songs from the forthcoming album, 1 brand new song and 1 Alkaline Trio cover. Also the EP is free to download on Bandcamp right now, so go go go!

The EP starts with the brand new track, only written last month, titled My Hero. Being a purely acoustic track, the main focus is on Joe’s northern-tinged vocals with some fast-paced chord strumming underneath. It’s a song about choosing a life on the road, touring around and playing music – even if it’s not much of a way to ‘make a living’. Starting with the line ‘Gearing up for the UK tour, we can’t let standards drop’, this theme brings to mind Gaz Brookfield – someone who I’m sure Joe has toured with! The reason for the title is revealed towards at the end of the song with the lyrics, that reflect on the first line of the song, ‘Gearing up for the long drive home, just 16 hours to go. The driver of this bus he is my hero.’ 

The second song on Pre-Drinks, Alive, is going to be on the new album (I don’t know what said new album is called or even when it’ll be released, unfortunately). It is a song about simply wanting to be, well, alive without worrying about things like what you weigh or what your social status may be. Featuring a catchy and empowering chorus ‘I just want to be living for the right reasons, singing during every season…’ that I can imagine a crowd singing along to. Perhaps I will be part of that crowd at a future Joe McCorriston gig, I sure hope so anyway!

Ce La Vi Pt. 2 is also set to be on the upcoming album and it’s a song I actually remembering hearing played live when I saw him last year. In fact, if I remember rightly, he then transitioned into a cover of The 26 by Apologies, I Have None. The EP version, however, doesn’t feature any Apologies lyrics but it’s easy to see why he chose to blend the two songs when playing live – they both have a fairly negative lyrics and a somewhat bitter feel, at least to begin with. The song is slower than the previous tracks on Pre-Drinks but that allows for Joe to properly express his emotions in the lyrics. Of course, as the title suggests, Ce La Vie Pt. 2 ends on a more positive note – ‘Now I’m free, ce la vi.’  (Ce la vi, or c’est la vie, is a way of saying ‘it’s just one of those things’ or ‘what’s done is done’ or maybe even hakuna matata…)

The final track on Pre-Drinks is a cover of a band and song we all know and love – Alkaline Trio’s Mercy Me. Joe’s take on the song is not too far from the original aside from the fact that it’s slowed down, stripped back and sung by a northern English chap! That said, I really like it and if for some crazy reason I’d never heard the Alkaline Trio song then maybe I wouldn’t even know that it was a cover. It’s certainly a great end to Pre-Drinks and I’m looking forward to what the next full album brings.

You can download and stream Pre-Drinks here.
And find Joe McCorriston on Facebook here.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Gig Review: Jeff Rosenstock at The Victoria, Dalston 2/4/16


Saturday 2nd of April was quite a night for fans of punk rock music. In Bedford Tellison and Muncie Girls were playing, in Dalston it was Jeff Rosenstock and Great Cynics and in Kentish Town the legendary Screeching Weasel and the legendary MXPX were playing at The Forum. What a choice for the punks to make! When Screeching Weasel were announced I was excited as they were a band I grew up listening to and had never seen. Then Jeff Rosenstock was announced and I exploded with excitement. His album We Cool? was one of my favourites of last year and I had heard his live performances are not to be missed. As I'm sure you can guess from the title of this review I plumped for Jeff. When I was younger I adored Screeching Weasel but haven't really listened to them in years. However We Cool? is an album I have played constantly since it was released last year. It's also one of the most relatable albums I've heard in years. It's mostly about being in your thirties and still not really knowing what you want to do with your life and trying to justify the way you live to your peers. Before reading this you should go and listen to the album here.


The gig took place in a pub named The Victoria in the Dalston area of London. Due to a rail replacement service and getting lost at Stratford station I eventually made it to The Victoria just in time to see the opening act Toothpaste take to the stage. Toothpaste are a new band I hadn't heard anything about before the set so I had no idea what to expect from the three-piece. It turns out they play some fun DIY powerpop. Opening with a song named All The Other Girls Are Shit they played a set full of songs about relationships not working out. They took an idea and they really went with it. They played really well and the male/female harmonies were fantastic. A very promising new band.


Next up it was a far more established act from the UK's punk rock scene - Great Cynics. Giles, Iona and Bob have earned themselves a very dedicated fan base after years of great shows and top albums, any time you go to a Great Cynics show you know you're in a for a big sing-along. Something I always love when I watch Great Cynics is just how much they love playing shows. I always figure that playing the songs over and over again must get a little dull but if that's the case it really doesn't show. Giles was bopping around the stage so much that at one point he fell of the stage. Punk rock unpredictability! The set was heavy with tracks from their latest album I Feel Weird with a couple of old favourites such as Nightcaps and a cover of the Bryan Adams and Sporty Spice "classic" Baby When You're Gone. With the success that Muncie Girls are having this year hopefully their great friends Great Cynics will also get some well-deserved love from the mainstream. In the meantime I will happily keep going to see one of the undergrounds best bands.


Jeff Rosenstock is a legend in today's punk rock world for his tireless DIY ethic, along with his efforts in making sure all of his gigs are affordable and all-ages and so available to everyone. His former band Bomb The Music Industry were one of the most respected and loved punk bands in our scene and his band before that - The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches - were just fantastic as well. The man just writes awesome music. I've seen plenty of live clips of Jeff Rosenstock in his numerous bands throughout the years and they have always looked like the best fun. Now I was finally getting the chance to witness the chaos and mayhem that I'd witnessed on YouTube first hand, I was beyond excited. And so were the 250 people who had sold out and crammed into The Victoria, all of whom were doing their best to get a spot as close to the stage as possible. Like I mentioned, the clips that I've seen were full of chaos and mayhem and seeing him live did not disappoint! Jeff, as well John on bass and Kevin on drums, was a bundle of frantic energy. Jeff didn't stay still for a single second as he blasted through his set. The crowd moved from side to side and screamed along with every word. Hey Alison, Nausea, You In Weird Cities and in particular I'm Serious, I'm Sorry got the biggest reactions from the crowd. I felt my own voices going quite hoarse before the end of the set. In a fun little moment Kevin and John jammed some sexy funk music and Jeff free-styled a rap about socks whilst he replaced a couple of broken strings. Unique moments like this are why I love going to gigs. The set was just incredible and I know I definitely made the right choice in gigs on this night.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Gig Review: Tellison and Muncie Girls at Bedford Esquires 2/4/16 (by Emma Prew)


Every now and again a local gig (ie. Bedford or Milton Keynes, not London) is announced that I just know is going to be brilliant. That was the case for Tellison and Muncie Girls in my little ol’ town of Bedford. When I first saw the show listed I had only heard of Tellison but, having seen their name on various line-ups in the past with loads of bands that I know and love, I knew it was worth checking them out. Months before the show I listened to their back catalogue and their latest album, Hope Fading Nightly, in particular. I definitely liked what I heard so I know it’d be a great show anyway, but then none other than featured-in-Kerrang-magazine Muncie Girls were announced as main support for the tour also. I was pretty excited.

I always like to arrive in time to see all the bands play, even those that I haven’t heard of before, so I got down to Esquires early enough to see opening act, Wah Wah Club, play. It wasn’t difficult as I only live down the road from the venue! Wah Wah Club are a four-piece alternative rock band from Milton Keynes (my hometown, woo!). I’d not heard of them before but they put on a great performance and were clearly all very skilled musicians. They played a brand of rock music similar to Queens of the Stone Age, or perhaps The White Stripes, with heavy almost grungy guitars. It was the sort of guitar-based music that I really like but don’t really listen to all that much myself. Seen live however, it was right up my street.


Muncie Girls were up next. I have to say it was a little bit surreal to see one of my favourite British punk bands, that I’m used to seeing playing in small London pubs (and more recently the not-so-small Lexington), performing in my town. The band were on top form and played their set with as much passion and energy as if it were a headlining slot. The setlist included several songs from the new album, From Caplan To Belsize, and a number of songs from their previous EPs as well. I’m not sure how many people in the audience had heard of Muncie Girls but I reckon they probably earned a few new fans. Lande also told the audience about her neck injury induced by headbanging too hard to Danzig at a club in Manchester the night before – she called in a bangover. She's got a way with words!


Playing their own kind of sad indie rock, Tellison are not strictly a punk band… but they are a great band, so who cares! Having not seen them before I didn’t really know what to expect from them. If I could sum up their performance in one word it would be energetic, particularly the main vocalist, Stephen (in the red shirt, below), who couldn’t stay still… and made me not want to stay still either. I recognised a lot of songs as being from their latest album, Hope Fading Nightly, but they also played plenty of songs from their previous 2 albums. As I hadn’t listened to the band too much I wasn’t able to sing along much, although plenty of people around me were singing at the top of their voices. Esquires was by no means packed (unfortunately Bedford is probably not somewhere that a band like Tellison, or indeed Muncie Girls, would sell out) but there were clearly a bunch of dedicated fans loving every minute of the show. I liked Tellison on record but I loved them live and I’d definitely be keen to see them again.


I’d like to give a special mention to my new friends Lisa and John who let me hang out with them as I was gigging alone. They’d been to a number of the Tellison tour dates (I think John had been to all of them actually!) and said that the bands kept getting better with every performance. Incidentally, this was the first time that Colin and I have been to two separate gigs on the same night – he was at Jeff Rosenstock, which I’d have liked to have gone to myself but local Tellison and Muncie Girls show won for me. It was an awesome night.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Gig Review: Faintest Idea Album Launch at The Owl Sanctuary 1/4/16


Last month you may remember that I reviewed King's Lynn rude boy punks Faintest Idea's new TNS Records release Increasing The Minimum Rage. The six-piece had their album release show at Norwich's premier independent venue The Owl Sanctuary with support from The Lagan and The Bar Stool Preachers. The show promised to be a memorable one.


I was particularly excited about going to The Owl Sanctuary. Over the past couple of years the venue has become an important part of the independent music scene in the UK. Earlier this year a property developer bought the building where The Owl Sanctuary was situated and things were looking very bleak. Thankfully The Owl found a new venue and it continues to be one of the best and most important venues in the country.

Up first were Kingston's The Lagan. It has been a few years since I had seen The Lagan play live and it looked like there had been some line-up changes in that time but that didn't stop them being just as fun as I remembered. The Lagan play (to quote The Art of Punk’s Emma Prew) shanty-piratey-irish-folky-punk that is very hard to keep still to whilst listening. Not that you'd want to. This music is made for dancing, singing and having a great time. I wish I had listened to them more over the years, as it was such an enjoyable set and I just wish I could have got more involved in the singing. If you like bands such as The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly then The Lagan are a band you need to check out.


Next up it was The Bar Stool Preachers from Brighton. The Bar Stool Preachers are a band I've heard a lot about over the past year so I was looking forward to checking them out. If I only had one word to describe the set I would use the word "fun". Luckily this is my blog so I have as many words as I fancy! The band I instantly thought of when the band began to play was Boston's The Kings Of Nuthin'. It's refreshingly upbeat ska punk with lead singer Tom McFaull's vocals giving the sound a bit of a bluesy feel. There are many ska punk bands around the UK scene at the moment (a scene that's apparently dead!?) so it's great to hear yet another band giving the genre a different spin. The energy and enthusiasm of the whole band on stage was infectious and I can't wait to see them again sometime soon.


The sold out Owl Sanctuary was now packed to its capacity for Faintest Idea. As ever they began their set with Back To The Asylum, which of course had brass players Bobble, Sara and Lil Dan starting in the crowd before. I've seen this so many times now but always get a kick from it. If you've somehow not heard Faintest Idea yet they play a mix of street punk and ska with a lot of political content. With this being an album launch show of course they played a set heavy with new material from Increasing The Minimum Rage. Aside from videos for Circling The Drain and Cocktails, the album had only been released on that day so I was pleasantly surprised to see so much singing and dancing for the new stuff. The two aforementioned tracks, plus Down Pressure, No Pressure and Corporation, got big reactions and fit perfectly into Faintest Idea's already strong set list. Songs from the band's back catalogue also got some great reactions, particularly Youth, Mutual Aid, House of Cards, Too Bad, Bully Boy and the show closer Bull In A China Shop. Basically every song in the set was sung along to, danced to and really, really loved. On stage Faintest Idea are a joy to watch, whether it's the dancing from the most entertaining brass section in the scene or the intensity pouring out of bassist and lead singer Dani or guitarist Jack P, the performance hits you like a fireball of energy that makes it impossible not to get swept up in the excitement and chaos that is a Faintest Idea crowd. Faintest Idea are constantly going from strength to strength, whether it's their music, their song writing or their live performance they are a band you need to know.


You can buy Increasing The Minimum Rage here: http://www.tnsrecords.co.uk/?product_cat=tns-releases