Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Art of Punk: Jonathan Minto


I’d like to apologise for taking until my 19th Art of Punk post to feature someone with more photographic-based portfolio. I love the abundance of illustration within the punk rock scene but it’s refreshing to see more abstract, graphic and photographic artwork sometimes. That’s why I really don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to write about the wonderful Jonathan Minto! I’ve been a fan of his photography, record sleeve and t-shirt designs – as well as his bass-playing and head-banging skills in Caves – for quite some time.

Jonathan Minto, or Minty, is a man of many talents. Firstly he is an extremely skilled photographer and a photographer of many different subjects at that. Of course, this being a music blog, I should start with his live music photography…


I particularly like the images with a sense of motion to them. It really captures the energetic essence of live music and makes me wish I was at a live show. His photographs of Against Me! are used as part of the band’s official website too which is awesome – check it out.

I won’t share much here – go check out the full online portfolio – but Minty also has a talent for capturing portraits and landscapes. This tree photograph in particular really caught my attention – it’s beautiful.


It’s clear from a lot of Minty’s photography that he has an eye for composition and patterns in the natural, and indeed man-made, world. They make for great standalone photographs but it’s also wonderful to see them repurposed as striking designs for music. For example, taking the texture of a stark almost black and white photograph of the sea and envisaging that it’d look great on a record sleeve – Nervous Tensions by Hot Mass.


I don’t own a copy of the Hot Mass record but I do own a number of other Minty record sleeve designs. The artwork for Great Cynics’ I Feel Weird is a classic as it’s actually a self-portrait.

  
  
  

When it comes to the more typographic elements of a record sleeve design, Minty generally sticks with handwritten lettering. Personally I’m a big fan of handwritten lettering – especially when it’s nice handwriting (so, perhaps not my own) – and it does generally work well for record sleeves, gig posters, t-shirts etc. It retains a sort of DIY-feel which suits the bands and, in the case of lyric sheets, makes them seem more human and relatable.

Lastly, I mentioned Minty’s eye for composition and patterns earlier… well, see how he recreates them in graphic t-shirt and/or poster designs. It’s a bit different from the highly illustrative in-your-face t-shirt designs that you typically get in punk rock but great stuff nonetheless.

 
 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Album Review: Time and Tide by Eat Defeat


Eat Defeat released one of my favourite EPs of 2014, the fantastically positive It's Always Sunny In Yorkshire. The band, who formed in 2010, will be releasing a new EP in June titled Time and Tide on Umlaut Records. I was really looking forward to hearing it.


Time and Tide opens with a song named DIYTanic. It's a song about sticking with your DIY principals despite how difficult it can be. Musically it's fast paced skate tinged pop punk that barely pauses for breathe throughout the song. There are some enjoyable shifts in melody that keep the track sounding interesting. I particularly enjoyed the punchy nature of the vocals in the second verse. Up next is the song Shortcuts. The opening of the song falls a lot more on the skate punk sound of Eat Defeat's sound. The drums in particular are fast and aggressive and really thrust the song forward. As the song progresses it transitions into more of a pop punk song complete with some big hooks and some fantastic harmonies. The way the band perfectly blend one style of punk into another is a joy to listen to. Don't Look Back wastes absolutely no time in getting started. The track, which is about going for what you want and taking advantage of any opportunities you're given, jumps into life immediately. Summers vocals are extremely fast paced and feel the song with an unrelenting energy. I found this to be a very uplifting song, something that Eat Defeat excel at.

The fourth song on Time And Tide is named Make Or Break. Make Or Break has a slower paced beginning allowing listeners to get involved and sing with the band. The song soon picks up a little tempo but it never gets into top gear. For me this was a good decision as it gives you time to breathe after the first three frantic songs. Make Or Break is about arriving at that point in your life where you have to make a big decision in your life. The penultimate song is named The North Remembers. I loved the jangly guitars that carry us into the song before Summers's vocals (which carry a lot more emotion) really come into play. As the song goes on the tempo gets faster and faster and the emotion in the vocals adds so much power to the track. The song has more of a pop punk feel ala Neck Deep and The Story So Far but much better. Time And Tide concludes with the song Dead And Gone. Dead And Gone is a song about wanting to be remembered after you die. The vocal delivery is again superb, particularly the lead vocal and gang vocals trading lines during the opening verse.

Eat Defeat have added another fantastic release to what growing into a very impressive back catalogue. If you like your skate punk poppy or your pop punk skatey or your music good then this is a EP you should be listening to.

Pre-order Time & Tide here: http://umlautrecords.bigcartel.com/product/eat-defeat-time-tide-pre-order-11-06-2016

Like Eat Defeat here: https://www.facebook.com/EatDefeat/

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Album Review: Crowley’s Curse by Matilda’s Scoundrels


Matilda’s Scoundrels are one of my current favourite folk punk bands – ‘folk punk’ being my absolute favourite (sub)genre of music. Having recently enjoyed their performance at Manchester Punk Festival, I was very keen to hear their new 7” that was announced shortly after the festival. Released by TNS Records, Smegma Records, AWOL Records, Charlie’s Big Ray Gun and Almighty Beard Records, Crowley’s Curse is a two track single featuring the title track and, another brand new track, Pissheads Anthem.


Crowley’s Curse opens with the classic folk instrument, the tin whistle – something that, I for one think, not enough punk songs do! The tin whistle is accompanied by some mandolin and soon some accordion as well, before the more traditional punk instruments kick in – guitar, bass, drums. I’m a big fan of The Pogues (although not so much Shane MacGowan himself) and Matilda’s Scoundrels’ sound is very reminiscent of their music, the tin whistle in particular. Except Matilda’s Scoundrels are probably better! They’re clearly a band that is proud of where they come from – the south-east seaside town of Hastings. The lyric “In the old town of Hasting!’ is chanted several times throughout Crowley’s Curse – and it’s done in such a way that makes me feel proud of Hastings… I’ve never even been. The song is about Aleister Crowley, a ceremonial magician and occultist who lived and died in Hastings in the 1940s. He had a theory that everyone who lives in Hastings stays in Hastings. He was also the creator of a philosophy and religion called Thelema, the symbol for which is used on the artwork for the 7”. Lyrically the song is very much a traditional folk song with a great sense of storytelling, but there’s certainly a punk edge to the music too. (Watch the awesome video for the song here.)

Like Crowley’s Curse, Pissheads Anthem also starts off with a whistle. But whereas the first song starts fairly slowly with the pace gradually building up, Pissheads Anthem has more of an instant sense that the kick is soon coming. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of bass guitar from the outset – a more typical punk instrument, after all. As anticipated, the tempo soon picks up and some ‘Hey!’s from several members, if not all members, of the band are shouted. When the full vocals start about a minute into the song, the singing/shouting in unison continues. It’s clear that, as the title of the track suggests, this is going to be a shout-along-merrily-in-the-pub type song. In fact, there’s only a couple of lines in the whole 3 and a half minute song so it would be easy to pick up the words. It’s a lively song and, even if you’re not getting drunk, you’ll find it difficult to refrain from singing and foot stomping along.

Matilda’s Scoundrels, like many folk punk bands, are a band that are at their best performing live and they now have two brilliant new songs to add to their setlist. I’m really looking forward to hearing the tracks live myself soon.

The digital album is released on 10th June and vinyl orders will be shipped around then as well – check out Bandcamp for more details.

You can also like Matilda’s Scoundrels on Facebook here.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: May 2016


This is the May edition of the Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist featuring tracks that Dan, Emma, Omar and myself have been enjoying this month.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Top Tens: Hope Thackray of Fierce Morgan's Top Ten Female Guitar Players


Hope Thackray, guitarist from Fierce Morgan has put together this list of her favourite female guitar players.

1. Sulynn Hago - Propagandhi
It's no secret that Propagandhi are the extreme riff-lords of the world of punk rock. The people who brought you such influential albums like Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes and How to Clean Everything, coupled with the newer, more progressive Supporting Caste and Failed States brought in this female powerhouse just last year but she has already cemented herself in the history of the band. Plus, if she's good enough for the guys in Propagandhi, do I even need to say anything else?

2. Laura-Jane Grace - Against Me!
For many, including myself, Reinventing Axl Rose is one of the most pivotal albums of modern times, pushing forward that signature thrash-folk sound into the mainstream culture. As a result of this, this list would be incomplete without the mastermind behind them, Laura-Jane Grace (who I hold to be one of the most inspirational women on the planet!)

3. Joan Jett
Possibly the most influential woman in Punk Rock. Not only was she a ripping vocalist, her iconic take on "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" came to be the most well known version of the track (a lot of people crediting HER as the writer!) Rarely seen without her signature Gibson Melody Maker, she's still shredding away, recently featuring her guitar-work on Foo Fighters' latest album, Sonic Highways.

4. Laura Nichol - Heartsounds
It's no secret that I'm a sucker for some good, honest skate punk, and Heartsounds are as skate punk as they come. Laura Nichol brings all the fast palm-muting, double time goodness that this genre demands, and seals it with heavenly harmonies alongside their other guitarist/vocalist, Ben Murray.

5. Nancy Hornburg - War On Women

Before Sulynn Hago joined Propagandhi, I saw War On Women support them at Corporation in Sheffield. They were a scrappy, thrashy, punky mess, and with 3/5s of their band female, were doing very well at holding up against gender stereotypes. Nancy Hornburg has well established herself as a fine hardcore axewoman in my eyes.

6. Nancy Wilson - Heart

Okay, so not necessarily a punk guitarist, but, during the 70s, Heart pushed aside the gender roles in music and provided some solid rock jams courtesy of their guitarist, Nancy Wilson. And, to me, that is pretty punk rock.

7. Becky Blomfield - Milk Teeth

Taking it from the 70s to a more current setting, Milk Teeth have been making waves in the modern punk scenes since their debut in 2013. Becky Blomfield takes centre stage as lead vocalist and bassist, tearing through tour after tour.

8.Kristin Hersh - Throwing Muses
If you never listened to Throwing Muses, were you ever really alive in the 90s? Opening for the likes of The Pixies, and with members going on to create The Breeders, Throwing Muses were the epitome of 90s post-punk. Kristin went on to have a solid solo career, with lyrics touching some groundbreaking topics including the loss of custody of her son and childbirth. And what's more punk rock than real life?

9. Reba Meyers - Code Orange
Formally known as Code Orange Kids, Reba is pushing true boundaries in hardcore punk, a genre seemingly dominated by male influence. This band is as heavy as you can get, complete with hair windmilling and a good ol' mosh, riffs being provided by Reba and, at times, a hefty scream or two.

10. Iona Cairns - Great Cynics

Having just finished a massive tour with Jeff Rosenstock, Great Cynics have been hot on the scene for a while now, with Iona slamming it on bass, but also jamming with the guys in Shit Present. If you haven't heard either of these bands, you probably need to fix that immediately!

Check out Fierce Morgan here: https://www.facebook.com/FierceMorgan/

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Album Review: Battle Lines From Better Times by Sink Alaska


Battle Lines From Better Times is the new EP from Glasgow's Sink Alaska, released by the ever excellent Make-That-A-Take Records. Sink Alaska play melodic skate punk rock full of great hooks and catchy choruses. I was excited to check out this EP.


The opening track on Battle Lines From Better Times is named I Am A Legend/I Am A Robot. It starts off with some great up-tempo guitar work that really put a smile on my face. The riff just makes me want to jump up and down. The vocals have more than a hint of Tony Sly about them, which is by no means a bad thing. They fall on the more poppy side of skate punk, which keeps the song sounding upbeat and makes the song way more accessible to the masses. Up next is All That Got Hurt Was Feelings. There is a bit more of a hardness about this track; the guitar tones are lower as is the pitch of the vocals. The urge to sing-along is still strong though and the chorus grabs you on the first listen. The third song on the EP is named Poacher Turned Gamekeeper and it has another excellent guitar-led introduction. I really enjoyed the tempo throughout the song, it's full of melody but really feels like the band are holding absolutely nothing back. For me this is the best song Sink Alaska have written to date. The final song on Battle Lines From Better Times is titled Overkill Is Underrated. More fantastic up-tempo skate punk that gets you jumping, head banging, throwing your fists up and singing along. Sink Alaska have a knack of making it very hard to stay still whilst listening to their music. (Makes reviewing very tricky!)

Battle Line From Better Times is another fantastic release from Sink Alaska and MTAT. Sink Alaska manage to take a sound that hit its peak twenty years ago and give it a fresh and fantastic make over. Great job!

Sream and download Battle Lines From Better Times here: https://sinkalaska.bandcamp.com/album/battle-lines-from-better-times

Like Sink Alaska here: https://www.facebook.com/SinkAlaska/

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Album Review: Painted Blue by Austeros


Austeros are a three-piece band from the west of England (Cheltenham and Bristol) and they release their first full-length album, Painted Blue, this week on the mighty Specialist Subject Records.


The album gets going with By Now and what I want to describe as a 15 second guitar solo (is it a guitar solo if it’s not in the middle of the song?), which is soon joined by pounding drums. It’s an upbeat track and a perfect example of pop punk, akin to early Green Day, with a happy-go-lucky feel that you can’t help but nod your head along to. A great album opener.

Next up is Superpowers, one of two tracks that I’ve been streaming a lot over the past couple of months as they were released ahead of the album. And I’ve been streaming it a lot because it’s really good! The melody is catchy, the lyrics are catchy and you’ll probably have it stuck in your head for days. ‘You can read me like a terrible book, A look in my eyes is all it took. And I wonder, Is everything crystal clear?’ 

The third track on the album is the other track that I’ve listened to previously and it’s just as good, if not better. In Orbit is another lively track to get you moving and features some highly relatable lyrics about personal insecurities. ’What’s it like to be everything you want to be?, Not be tormented by inadequacies.’  (I struggle to say the word ‘inadequacies’ let alone sing it, so good going there!)

Here We Are Again slows the pace down a bit and allows vocals to become the main focus. Jeremy doesn’t have most typical of pop punk-style voices but I love it – he reminds me a bit of Steve from The Sidekicks. I could be wrong but I’ve interpreted this song as being about decisions made by higher powers. ‘We didn’t want this, Most of us didn’t want this. So tell me how is it fair? It’s not a question of how it directly affects me, But I care for the wellbeing of everyone I meet.’

The next song on Painted Blue is entitled Shit Sticks and is about dealing with all the ‘shit’ – not literally, I hope – that gets thrown at you in the form of words. ‘All the shit you threw, Stuck to me like wet sand.’ Shit Sticks features some great melodic guitar, particularly about two thirds of the way through the song.

The tempo picks up again for Fraction Of Time, another lively pop punk tune. This song reminds me of label-mates (at least for their latest EP), Woahnows, as it has a similar intensity to some of their songs. I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing Austeros live yet but I can imagine a song like this being played with a lot of energy.

The next song, We Seem OK, is a song with a big punk rock sing-a-long chorus – ‘Oh, oh, oh, oh, we seem OK. Oh, oh, oh, if you don’t look closely.’  And, as you might be able to gather from the title of the track, it’s a song about a person or a relationship seeming ‘OK’ at first glance but that perhaps not really being the case. I mentioned guitar solos at the beginning of my review and this song definitely has a great one.

Don’t Wanna Know kicks off with one of my favourite guitar riffs of the album – and I’m a sucker for a nice bit of guitar. ‘We just wanna get to where we wanna go, Without enduring the highs and the lows. That’s why, We don’t wanna know oh oh.’ followed by further woah-oh-ohs – after all, what’s a punk rock album if it doesn’t have some woah-ohs. With the risk of sounding like I’m repeating myself, this is another upbeat and lively track! The thumping drums will certainly have you tapping your feet along.

As the album draws to a close, the penultimate track Sorry Sight sees Jeremy’s heartfelt vocals take priority accompanied by some simple guitar chords. ’I’ve never been so unsure of myself, Dragging my feet just so I don’t keep still. I’ll pick up the pieces when I’m ready and well, But until then I’ll put myself through hell.’  The song doesn’t stay stripped back for long and the rest of the band soon join in. The rhythm of the song has an almost folky or country feel to it – think Defiance, Ohio – but the pounding drums and frantic vocals keep it very much punk rock. 

One Way is the last song on Painted Blue and it finishes the album much how it began – with pure energetic pop punk. Musically it sounds quite light-hearted and carefree but, as with many of the songs on the album, the lyrical content is not perfectly positive. ’I need a break and I don’t mean a week in the sun, woah-oh-oh-oh. A break from being me just to see how I get on. I’m always finding something wrong.’ A great song on a great album.

You can purchase Painted Blue, in various forms (the split vinyl looks pretty) from the Specialist Subject store. And you can also like the band on Facebook here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Album Review: In The Margins by The Dead Anyways


Fun fact: Dave from South London punk rockers The Dead Anyways was the first person to ever ask me to review an album. Before then I'd only ever written about albums I'd found myself. Someone requesting that I review their album was a pretty big deal for me and gave me a whole lot more confidence in my writing. So thanks Dave, this whole Colin's Punk Rock World thing that has taken over my life is down to you!

I tell you this little fun fact because Dave got in touch again recently to ask me to review The Dead Anyways newest release - their first full length record, In The Margins, released on the always excellent 13 Stitches Records.


First up we have a track named Faceless Reminders Of Home. The thing that struck me immediately was singer and guitarist Dave's vocals, singing in nobody's accent but his own and giving The Dead Anyways a unique voice. The band play mid-tempo, gruff punk rock with plenty of passion and energy that you can't help but enjoy. The next track, Hazy Hazy Nights, starts very quickly musically with guitars buzzing and drums thumping. The track is about watching the world go by and realising you're just a small part of it, giving you the feeling of being lost. The song is very relatable and has a great feeling of accessibility that makes me just want to sing along. The Legend Of Billy Jean begins with more of those distinctive vocals and a great drum beat before the song really kicks into life. The song starts out with the chorus, which I think is always a great way to get a listener into the track. The opening lines of "When You're Caged All You Want Is To Be Free, When The Expectations Leave, When You Have Nothing That's A Scary Place To Be, When The Expectations Leave" would, I think, get a crowd going early. Which is always a good thing.

The opening chords of Where The Light Shines Brightest make me think something big is about to happen, and that is certainly the case. Switching guitar tones after a few seconds the song goes along at a nice pace accompanied from some great vocals that are bursting with emotion. There is definitely a very serious and thoughtful feel to the track, which ends with a similar guitar tone to its beginning. Great book-ending. The fifth song is named East Bound Railways and it's a real chugger of a song. Chugging along nicely with a simple riff and a powerful drum beat, this is the first time on In The Margins that a dual vocal is used and it works really well on this slower style of song. East Bound Railways also leads excellently into the next song - Kids By The Bins. Kids By The Bins starts quickly and is a song about being younger and seemingly having the world at your feet. There is a big uplifting feel to the song, particularly in the chorus which includes some wonderful "ahhhh" harmonies that really give some atmosphere to the track. Up next is the song Poems A Dead Boy Wrote. For some reason the opening guitar parts really reminded me of The Bouncing Souls song Kid, I half expected the song to launch into some big "whoa-ohs!". Poems A Dead Boy Wrote is about being able to look at your life and find all the great bits "in the margins". This track also has a brilliant uplifting quality to it that I really love. The song really made me think about life -an amazing piece of song writing.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter has an old school sound to it. Mixing a bit of Oi! with The Dead Anyways trademark sound, the main thing that stands out about the song is the chorus. It's got something about it that really makes me want to shout it back at the band (or in this case, my laptop). Track number nine is called Distant Lights and is a song about running away from your problems and the thought that the further away you are the more the problem goes away. Out of sight, out of mind. There is a real sense of seriousness to the song as it travels along at a good pace. The drums pounding away give the feeling of urgency and the delivery of the vocals, rarely going up or down an octave, pull the song along. The penultimate song is named Bookshop, Waterloo Main and is a song about moving on from a relationship. I like the use of the simple guitar chords and the vocals in the verse. The simplistic nature of the music really draws you into the lyrics of the song. The chorus is incredibly catchy and heart-wrenchingly relatable at the same time as Dave recounts going past a favourite book store hoping to bump into "the ex" or to work out an explanation of why things ended. Fantastic track! The final song on In The Margins is called God Is Our Interior Designer. I knew I was going to love this song from the first ten seconds. It's up-tempo from the outset and really got me moving in my desk chair. The tempo of the track and some massive sing-along, fist-in-the-air vocals make this an early contender for song of the year in my book. It's really, really, really good!

In The Margins by The Dead Anyways is an absolutely fantastic debut album from the South London band. I wouldn't call it a varied album but it really doesn't matter to me, every song has a great sound and there is no filler at all. Great stuff!

Stream and download the album here: https://13sx.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-margins

Like The Dead Anyways here: https://www.facebook.com/thedeadanyways/

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Top Tens: Jeremy from Austeros Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


Austeros are a three piece punk band from Cheltenham and Bristol. Their new album Painted Blue is released by Specialist Subject Records on the 27th of May. Here are guitarist Jeremy's top ten punk rock influences.

The Offsrping – Ixnay On the Hombre
I was 12 years old when I bought my first punk album, and this Offspring record was it. I grew up in the Middle East (Egypt / Israel) in the 90’s, and the story of how I got into punk is both very lame and kinda romantic, I guess. The class I was in was tiny, 10 kids at most. We got to know new pupils by passing round a diary and asking them to fill in some stuff about themselves. Music was always my first question, and when a new girl wrote Offspring / Green Day / Nirvana as her favourite bands, I pretended to know what she was talking about in a bid to impress her. I went to Tower Records and picked up Ixnay, cos it had the coolest cover. Shortly after that I got into Green Day, Nirvana, No Doubt, Blink 182 etc...

Early 00’s UK skate punk
When I moved to England at 15, being in a town like Cheltenham was fucking amazing. The first punk show I went to was 4ft Fingers. Being a local band, they were the coolest thing on the planet to me. We were lucky enough to have tons of great bands passing through Cheltenham, and my friends and I went to see them all. Five Knuckle, King Prawn, Farse, Captain Everything, Lightyear etc... all became favourites, and made the transition of moving to UK a lot less painful!

REM in Wiesbaden
I don’t know if REM is punk, but to me they are. I went to see them in Wiesbaden in 2003, and to this day it remains one of the most inspiring performances I’ve ever witnessed. Michael Stipe is a hero. I’d equate his writing to Dylan’s, though most of my friends wholeheartedly disagree. I think being an REM fan is like being a Morrissey fan – when you meet a fellow enthusiast they instantly become your best friend, and when you meet someone who isn’t a fan, they really slate you.

Specialist Subject Records
My involvement in the punk scene dwindled for a few years, whilst I was busy being a hippy. I got back into it when some of my friends played me Bangers and Arteries, and I went to see them play at the Frog in Cheltenham. The music was great, and the people super friendly. I started getting into more and more bands in that scene, and they mostly happened to be on Specialist Subject Records. When we started Austeros, we really wanted to be involved with those people / shows / bands, and putting out a record on spesh sub was the ultimate dream. Haha

WOAHNOWS
The first time I saw WOAHNOWS was in a practise room in Gloucester, and I’d never seen / heard any band like them before. I was even more sold when I saw Kurt Vonnegut on their merch t-shirts. I’ve seen them tons of times since then, and every single time is just as exciting as the last. They put so much energy into their shows, and the musicianship is a cut above what most bands are doing. Get into them!

Tim produced our upcoming album by the way!

Grrrls
It’s true, punk rock, like everything else in this world in very much dominated by boys. The music I listened to growing up was almost entirely male-oriented. I’m happy to say that’s no longer the case, and girls are kicking ass in the uk punk scene. Personal Best, Fight Rosa Fight, Doe, Muncie Girls, Kamikaze Girls, Colour Me Wednesday, Shit Present, El Morgan, Kelly Kemp, Helen Chambers, Petrol Girls, No Ditching.... I could go on. Get more grrrls in your record collection!

Unknown bands
I love sharing little known bands with friends, and I love it when my friends show me bands I’d never have heard if it wasn’t for them. One band in particular that I’ve been listening to obsessively for the last few months is Van Dale. I heard them through Jake from Doe, and I’ve been telling everyone I know about them since then. No one seems to have heard of them, but everyone should hear them! Also Laika’s Orbit. and Alimony Hustle are bands I’ve been sharing with people lately.

My mate Jack
Jack is one of my heroes. I’ve known him since I’ve been in England. We went to shows together when we were teens, played in shitty bands together, grew up together... I’m including him in my punk influences because since we met he has always introduced me to the best bands. Anyone who introduces you to Neutral Milk Hotel, Bomb the Music Industry, Laura Stevenson etc... needs to be appreciated. Oh he also recently showed me Laika’s Orbit, who I mentioned above.

Chewing on Tinfoil
We played our first show with Chewing on Tinfoil, and we also did a tour with them in the early Austeros days. They are some of nicest people you could ever hope to meet, and an awesome band to boot. Their album Marrowbone Lane is a masterpiece, I can’t stress enough how much you need this album in your life.

Don’t Ask Records
That was our little label for a little while. We did some really fun stuff during its short lifespan, and more importantly made some great friends. The bands we’ve played with the most are those who were on Don’t Ask. I think we’ve done a total of 3 weekender with Happy Accidents in the last couple of years?? And there’s another one planned this summer! Also played loads of shows with Isaac, Kimberly Steaks, Haters, Young Attenborough. We consider those people dear friends, and they’ve all influenced us musically as well.

You can pre-order Austeros new album Painted Blue from Specialist Subject Records here: http://shop.specialistsubjectrecords.co.uk/

Like Austeros here: https://www.facebook.com/weareausteros/

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy at The Camden Barfly 14/5/16


Saturday the 14th of May had me the most excited I'd been for a gig in a little while (and I'm always pretty excited for a gig so that explains how excited I was). The Bennies are a band I have loved since hearing their 2013 album Rainbows In Space and were currently on their first UK tour with Throwing Stuff. They had a gig at the Camden Barfly supporting one of the UK's finest ska punk bands - the ever amazing JB Conspiracy. And as an added bonus - Shit Present were also playing. What a smashing line up!


Opening the show were Throwing Stuff. It felt like ages since I had seen the four piece who now reside all over the UK so I was quite looking forward to seeing them again. If you've never seen Throwing Stuff before you'll be in for a bit of a shock. This is some of the loudest, fastest, in-your-face punk rock going and it's a lot of fun to watch. Particularly lead singer Ben Small who spends just as much time in the crowd as he does on the stage. It's like a switch in his brain flicks when the music hits; he loses it and it's brilliant to watch. Throwing Stuff don't play a whole lot of gigs anymore due to "real life" but when they do play it's a joy to see them. They all clearly had a fantastic time playing together and that really added to the charm of their set. The set flew by and before I knew it they were on to their awesome set closer Steve Jobs where Ben was joined by The Bennies’ Anty to sing/scream the song.


Up next were Shit Present, who I'd seen ten days earlier supporting Iron Chic at DIY Space For London. It's been fun over the past year watching Shit Present grow and progress as a band. They get better and better every time I see them and they always have the crowd's attention throughout their set. No talking at the bar when they play. Like at DIY Space, the band played a set full of new material that will be on a new EP they will be recording soon. Though we couldn't sing along to the new songs they sound great and have given me really high hopes for the eventual release. To quote Jamie from Throwing Stuff "Shit Present should be called Great Future."


The Bennies were up next and it was immediately clear as they were setting up that a lot of people were very excited to see the Melbourne four piece. The floor around the stage was packed as soon as the band opened the set with Party Smashers. Before the song even started lead singer Anty proclaimed that he had dreamed of playing the song in London ever since he wrote it due to the lyric "Mother Fucking London." Of course that lyric got a big reaction as did the entire song. The Bennies were so completely stoked to be on this tour. Early in the evening I bought the Rainbows In Space vinyl from the merch table and bass player Craig was so lovely and cheerful. As they were getting ready for the set I saw Craig and Anty exchange a high five with some massive smiles. They seemed to be pleasantly surprised by just how happy everybody in the Barfly was to see them; the dancing was rowdy and the sing-a-longs were loud. I was pleasantly surprised by their set - I was expecting a set list heavy on songs from their new and excellent album Wisdom Machine but in fact they played a best of set with songs from all of their releases. Favourites included My Bike, Heavy Disco, Party Machine, Detroit Rock Ciggies and, my personal favourite, Anywhere You Wanna Go. I had extremely high expectations for The Bennies set but they smashed all of those expectation - they were just phenomenal. I've always said that Less Than Jake are the best live band on the planet, The Bennies have definitely made me rethink my opinion on that.


The headliners, The JB Conspiracy, had a big job on their hands to top The Bennies' performance. If the long running ska punk band were phased though it really didn't show. I've seen the band eight times now and I'm sure that they've had a different line up every single time but this doesn't stop them always putting on a fantastic show. From the outset the Barfly's crowd were skanking into a frenzy and singing at the top of their lungs with lead singer Lank. A JB performance is always full of energy and that transfers brilliantly into the crowd. Playing a selection of songs from their last two albums This Machine and The Storm as well as some new songs - which was a fantastic surprise. They sounded fantastic and I'm looking forward to hearing them some more (perhaps at Slam Dunk in a couple of weeks?). As always I had a lot of fun during their set but I did have one minor gripe with the set. Certainly not with the band, they were completely fantastic. My gripe was with a couple of people at the front of the stage, one who decided to film the whole set on his Go-Pro and basically shoving it as close to the band as he possibly could. The other with a chap who spent more time taking selfies than watching JB. Both were really unnecessary and got on my nerves. I understand taking photos at gigs, it's a fun reminder of the night and it's fun to share on social media (you can see my rubbish gig photos at @ColinsPRW on Instagram - Emma, the better photographer, took the photos in this post) but you shouldn't need to take more than a couple. Live in the moment. The JB Conspiracy continue to prove why they are one of the best of the UK's ska punk bands, fantastic as always.


What an amazing gig. The JB Conspiracy, The Bennies, Shit Present and Throwing Stuff were all on top form. This is a strong contender for gig of the year and we are only in May!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Art of Punk: Horsebites


Richard Minino, or Horsebites as he is better known in the world of punk rock, is an illustrator and designer from Orlando, Florida. Growing up in the shadow of Disneyland and always drawing from a young age, he’s now one of the most well-known illustrators in the Florida punk scene – and probably the rest of the US, if not the world, too.

He’s well-known for his artwork of Florida-based bands, including Hot Water Music and Less Than Jake. Plus the ultimate event in the punk rock world – Gainesville’s The Fest – where he’s consistently produced incredible design year after year. But Horsebites isn’t one for keeping his design work close to home, he’s collaborated with bands from all over the world. Producing a load of great stuff for the likes of Bear Trade, Dead to Me, The Flatliners, Polar Bear Club, Strike Anywhere, Wank for Peace… the list goes on and on. I guess you could argue that having artwork designed by Horsebites – be it album artwork or a t-shirt design – is sort of a punk rock seal of approval.

 
 

Looking back over Horsebites’ Instagram feed, I found it really interesting to read about the album artwork he created for Strike Anywhere’s To Live In Discontent over 10 years ago. He states that he barely knew how to use a computer – let alone Photoshop / Illustrator / any other form of design application. He’s sure come on a long way since then! And anyway it’s not always about digital skills, he can certainly draw far better than I ever could (and I’m a designer too, y’know).


So far all of the designs I’ve shared are quite different, but some of my favourite of his album covers (that I’ve picked out below) seem to follow a similar pattern in terms of their composition. Using one central image with the band name and album title incorporated, with surrounding intricate details and shapes adding a level of complexity to the image as a whole. The designs often use borders and corner details which bring everything together and almost seem to hold everything in place. The artwork for Hot Water Music’s Exister and The Flatliners’ Dead Language, for example, use this sense of framing similarly, but without just looking the same.

 
 

However, Horsebites isn’t a… er, one trick pony (pun wasn’t intended, honest) as you can see with his recent artwork for Ship Thieves’ latest album, No Anchor. In terms of colours and texture it does have some similarities to the album covers above, but visually it’s really quite different. Still just as awesome though!


A lot of those album covers are fairly dark, but that’s not the case for all of Horsebites’ design work and certainly not when it comes to The Fest. Being over Halloween weekend, the visuals for The Fest have generally embraced this over the years but in a wide variety of ways – and anything Day of the Dead is amazing in my opinion. We’re planning on hopping over the pond for our first ever Fest (and first ever trip to America) this year and I can’t wait to get my mitts on a Horsebites-designed t-shirt.


Not content with just being Horsebites, Richard Minino also has his own clothing brand, VNM, and is a part of a design studio called Black Axe.