Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Album Review: Struck Dum Records presents Punks vs Depression

Struck Dum Records is an independent record label based in Aberdeen and run by the wonderful Mitch. In June Struck Dum released a brand new compilation named Punks vs Depression. As you might have guessed from the title, it's a charity compilation with all profits being donated to The Scottish Association for Mental Health - who do some amazing work in helping people with mental health issues get back to work, as well as promoting suicide prevention. An extremely worthy cause. If that wasn't good enough reason to buy the compilation it also features seventeen tracks of punk rock awesomeness.

There is a great selection of different styles and some nice surprises on the compilation. Starting off the comp is After The Fall's Mike Moak playing an acoustic version of Dedication. The full band version of this track is packed with emotion and this translates well on the acoustic take of the song. Next up is Struck Dum Records band Watchfires. Watchfires contribute the song King Midas which is an energetic burst of indie punk goodness. Glasgow's pop punks Northern Nightlights contribute a new song in the shape of Makes Me Mad. In particular I really enjoyed the use of dual vocals on the song. Pop punk done right. The next song comes from Colin's Punk Rock World favourite Paper Rifles. It Always Rains In Scotland is a love song with the message being that everything is wonderful as long as you're with the person that you love.

Leading Scottish pop punk band The Murderburgers and The Kimberly Steaks provide the next two songs. The Murderburgers track is actually just Fraser playing an acoustic version of new song Waves from his upcoming new album The Twelve Habits Of Highly Defective People. The Kimberly Steaks also provide an unreleased track. Give It Time is what we've come to know, expect and love from the three piece - fast, loud and relentless Ramones-core pop punk. Robot Doctors provide a track from their 2015 EP Routes named Animals. Sadly Robot Doctors are splitting up this month, which is shame as they are a criminally underrated band with a great skill in writing melodic rock music. Austria's Astpai add some European melodic punk rock to the compilation. The song Fainting from their newest 7" Run From Home is featured and is everything I've grown to love about Astpai. Fantastic technical punk guitars and some distinctive emotional vocals from Zock Astpai.

Billy Liar is up next with a fantastic acoustic cover of Smoke Or Fire's Neon Lights. I imagine most people reading this know that Billy and Smoke Or Fires Joe McMahon are good friends, so I think it's pretty cool that this cover was recorded. It also features another friend of Billy's, Paper Rifles, doing some backing vocals. Up and coming Edinburgh punks Elk Gang are next. Their song Market To Mission is yet another unreleased track and really packs a punch. Lead singer Kev has one of my favourite vocals of any new band I've heard in the past year - it's really powerful and carries a lot of emotion. When Mitch first told me about this compilation he told me it features a lot of bands that I love (which it does), so I was quite surprised that my favourite song actually came from a band I'd never heard before. That band is State Line Syndicate and the song is Borrowed Time, the first track on their album Go Back To The 90s. The song is about living life how you want to and not how someone else does because we're not here for a long time.

Lancashire pop punks Don Blake provide an acoustic version of their awesome track The Plan. One of my favourite things about this comp is the unique versions of songs I already know. When I hear acoustic music, especially in the punk world, I always feel like it needs a big sing-a-long feeling to it. The Plan certainly has that. London via Greece gruff punks The Burnt Tapes make a welcome appearance on Punks vs Depression. One of the best new bands coming out of the London scene their song Adrenochrome Heights is fantastic. This is shout along gruff punk done really, really well. Scottish punks Science Made Us Robots are one the scenes best kept secrets. They contribute the fourteenth track on the comp with the song Hopeless Attitude. One of the things I loved about Science Made Us Robots when I first heard them was the thick Scottish accent giving the fast punk rock tunes a slight Celtic tinge. A cracking band that deserve a lot more attention.

Tragical History Tour aka Derrick Johnston of Make-That-A-Take Records changes things up somewhat with his track What Would Vinnie Mac Do? Normally playing acoustic punk rock, this song has almost a lo-fi electronica style to it. It was really interesting to hear Derrick create a song like this and it's still great. Taking things in a completely different direction are Glaswegian hardcore band False Hopes with a song named Red Cola. If Tragical History Tour relaxed you then False Hopes will get you seriously amped up again. A minute and a half of furious hardcore punk rock fun. The final song on Punks vs Depression is interestingly another of my favourites despite never having heard of the band before. This is the great thing about compilations, discovering brilliant new bands. Chicago punks Lost Years song I've Still Got A Soul Left To Lose from their 2014 album tradition is absolutely brilliant. It's a fantastic slice of thoughtful pop punk music. On the surface it's a fun, light pop punk track but it's actually about something much deeper. It's about feeling like you're losing a bit of yourself every day and the struggle that comes with that.

I love listening to new compilations but very often they do have songs on them that you might not like. This really isn't the case with Punks vs Depression. All seventeen songs are completely brilliant - I've listened to this a lot without skipping a single track. Go and buy it now!

Buy Punks vs Depression here: https://struckdumrecords.bandcamp.com/album/struck-dum-records-vol-1-punks-vs-depression-2