Thursday, 22 June 2017

Top Tens: The Run Up's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Here are The Run Up's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences!

Charlie (Guitar):

Latterman – A perfect combination of great catchy songs with intelligent, relevant messages within the songs. Tackling song topics that weren’t so conventional in punk. Also Phil Douglas is a genius and I love pretty much anything he works on.

The Flatliners – I loved every single piece of music they put out, still to this day one of my favorite bands, Chris Cresswell's vocals are just incredible and he is probably my favorite singer. It's cool to see a band who you think are super talented alter their sound and pull it off super well.

Dan (Bass):

Early Offspring and Green Day – it's what made me want to be in a band!

Rob (Drums):

Alkaline Trio as a main band influence, but I've also been raging on the latest Menzingers record, particularly whilst we've been recording recently.

Larry (Vocals):

Lost pets and lost friends. Also people like Colin that are out there doing what they love and being a great figure in the punk scene!

Nick (Guitar):

Single coil pickups – learning to appreciate them gave me a whole new appreciation of guitar music!

Uberyou, from Switzerland – such a good band and a great bunch of dudes, the amount of passion they put into their live shows is massive influence for me. And we're lucky enough to be touring with them in the summer!

Check out The Run Up here:

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Album Review: Project 313 by The Lillingtons (by Robyn Pierce)

Huzzah! The Lillingtons are back in action with a brand new EP, Project 313, released on 9 June via Red Scare. This Ramones-channelling four-piece from Newcastle, Wyoming haven’t had a major release since 2006 and they’re easily one of the best pop-punk bands in the scene, so I was really stoked to check out their new material – even if it is just four (sob) short tracks.

The opening track, ‘Under the Sun’, wastes no time getting your toes tapping and your hips swaying with some bright guitar tone and a catchy hook. The lyrics are a little dark, with the verses lamenting how “it’s been raining everyday” and how the band would like to “wish it all away”, but the chorus is hopeful – looking to the sunshine that is sure to come. This soon leads into ‘Rubber Room’, which is such a hilariously happy and fun song that I honestly can’t get enough of it. It’s essentially a daydream about finally giving in, going insane and getting to live in your own rubber room – and how fantastic this would be. The entire song has a gleeful, manic energy and is really like a trip to the rubber room in itself – a slightly bonkers escape from daily pressures and anxieties. It reminds me a little of Direct Hit’s ‘Paid in Brains’, but it is absolutely a quintessential Lillingtons’ song. In ‘Project 313’, the Lillingtons offer a return to the familiar realm of science fiction with a song about being stranded on a rocket. It’s short and sweet, despite being a midtempo track with a quite a gloomy theme. ‘It’s On’ rounds off the EP brilliantly by adding a dash of perfectly coiffed hair metal to the Lillingtons’ sound. It’s about a femme fatale – an alluring and dangerous woman who, the band warns us, is ‘the devil’s child’. The driving guitar here will get your body rocking, and the slight fuzziness in Kody’s vocals really works.

I’m fairly certain that it’s physically impossible not to hit replay once you get to the end of ‘Project 313’. With less than 10 minutes of music, it’s tough not to feel slightly starved and gagging for more once you get to the end of its four outstanding tracks. I can loop this EP almost infinitely, so I definitely recommend giving it a listen.

Stream and download Project 313 here:

Like The Lillingtons here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Album Review: Life Is Good by Flogging Molly

At the end of the this month Colin and I will be going to see Los Angeles’ infamous Celtic punks, Flogging Molly, at the Kentish Town Forum. It will be Colin’s first time seeing the band live and my first time seeing them headline their own tour (I saw them support Frank Turner in 2014). On 2nd of June this year Flogging Molly released their sixth album, Life Is Good, their first album in six years. As a folk fan, a punk fan and, most of all, a folk punk fan, I was keen to share my thoughts on the album.

Life Is Good opens with There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1. The song begins with gentle guitar and the classic Flogging Molly fiddle soon joins the mix. The song builds gradually which is probably what you’d expect from the first song on the album. It’s a short song as Flogging Molly songs go but that’s okay. Within the lyrics there are references to the devil which I think is fairly common in traditional Celtic music. ‘Here we are now, Here we are now.’ The devil has spoken and he’s not very bright.’ Next up is The Hand of John L. Sullivan with a tin whistle start to rival The Pogues (I love the Pogues). In fact, much of the song sounds like a homage to The Pogues. John L. Sullivan was a boxer in 1880s Boston and was deemed to be the first heavyweight champion of the sport. I love how Flogging Molly often have historical aspects to their songs. This is an upbeat and bouncy track that will definitely go down a storm at any Flogging Molly Live show. ‘Now I am the man with the plan to shake the hand of John L. Sullivan, A fighter till the end, legend he will be.’

Welcome To Adamstown is a song about the ‘new town’ south of Dublin, Ireland, that generally has negative connotations. However, the band try to put a positive spin on it with the message that you should respect where you’re from. This is another dancey track that I can almost imagine doing a can-can style dance to! It sounds like there’s a saxophone, trumpet or something being used for the main and super catchy melody but I think it must be the accordion – I can’t imagine a saxophone in Flogging Molly anyway. But perhaps that the point, they wanted to do something different. ‘Things are not all as they seem, In this rundown suburban dream, Tiger may have lost its roar, We will never lose our soul.’ Next up is Reptiles (We Woke Up), a song that begins slowly with acoustic guitar. It almost sounds like it could be used in a movie or as part of a stage show. Flogging Molly the musical, anyone? ‘For once in this life, Let's' just make these wrongs right and then, Seize the day, We woke up!’ After ‘we woke up’, drums and fiddle kick in. There’s a great sense of building in this anthem of a song. 

Bassist Nathen takes over from frontman Dave for the lead vocals of Days We’ve Yet To Meet. This song features a catchy fiddle intro that I love. The message Flogging Molly are trying to get across here is that if today is a bad day then don’t worry because tomorrow might be better. ‘For it’s tomorrow and the days we’ve yet to meet…’  The bridge – ‘Lai, ladi ladi lai, dai dai dai, lai lai lai lai dai dai’ – echoes the fiddle part. It is, of course, super catchy and very Celtic-sounding. After Days We’ve Yet To Meet we come to the album’s title track, Life Is Good. Slightly mournful fiddle and whistle open the song. There is a great swaying motion to the track which is helped by the bass. An upbeat lead into the chorus has you nodding along. ‘Life is good, Life is fine, Life is everything we loathe, It’s so unkind. Death is cruel, Death unwinds, It comes naturally to all us here alive. She said take these words, Sing along…’ Life Is Good is about not only the good points but the bad too of life (and death).This a standout track on the album for sure.

As we enter the second half of Life Is Good we have The Last Serenade (Sailors and Fishermen), a song that, unsurprisingly, brings about images of the sea. This is one of the slowest songs on the album. It is fairly sad sounding but is also very atmospheric. The Last Serenade is a tribute to sailors and fishermen lost at sea. ‘So goodbye to you dreamers, Vagabonds and true believers, Long may you sing once again.’ Picking up the pace a little is The Guns Of Jericho. This song has a typical bright and zesty Flogging Molly sound. The song starts relatively slowly but the pace picks up nicely about half way through this 4 minute song as the drums properly kick in. I can almost imagine doing an Irish jig to the fiddle part towards the end!

I first listened to Life Is Good whilst at work, with my headphones in. That’s never really a good situation to be able to give a new album your utmost attention and most of the album did pass me by. Crushed (Hostile Nations), however, grabbed my attention and claimed its spot as my favourite from my very first listen. It’s the kick-in-the-face crank-up-the-volume track of the album and appeals most to my punk sensibilities. It does start fairly quietly, almost like a sea shanty with minimal music backing Dave’s vocals. But as the song gets going it reveals a super duper catchy melody that definitely brings to mind pirates. This is the loudest song on the album and it even features an impressive electric guitar solo. I love it. I hope they play it live at the Forum. The tenth track on Life Is Good is simply titled Hope. The song begins with slightly muted distorted guitar before the song gradually builds in volume. As the volume builds so does the hopefulness. This is an optimistic and positive song which does feel like a bit of a rarity lately. ‘I said hope is still a shout away, A shout away, Like it was yesterday, I said hope is still a shout away, A shout away, In a way we shout once more.’  The chorus is sung by more than just Dave by its second run through which improves the impact.

Drawing towards the end of the album, The Bride Wore Black is the penultimate track. This is a feel-good song about an independent woman who doesn’t always do things by the book. The song kicks off with fiddle which is accompanied by pounding drums. The Bride Wore Black has a decent pace and is another bouncy, danceable number. It’s also fairly rocking with electric guitar at points. Until We Meet Again is the final song on Life Is Good. Even the title sounds like an album closer! This song begins with muted electric guitar before this is switched to acoustic guitar. I feel like this song has a great sense of Johnny Cash about it, particularly in the lyrics and the way in which Dave sings them. There’s a super folky Celtic accordion / fiddle part that encourages you to use your dancing shoes one last time – although there’s no need to go too crazy, this is a fairly slow song. ‘Until, Until we meet again, I’ll drown in my own hell, To take back all I’ve said, Until we meet again.’

This album is really a lot more folk than punk but I have absolutely no problem with that and longtime Flogging Molly fans shouldn’t either. I definitely enjoyed this album but I think I’ll like the songs even more once I’ve heard them played live – good thing I don’t have long to wait!

Life Is Good is out now on Spinefarm Records and Vanguard Records and you can download / stream it in the usual places. Also, find Flogging Molly on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Album Review: Never Settle by Hope In High Water

Hope In High Water are a dark and raw folk duo from Milton Keynes. Their unique sound combines elements of Americana, blues, country, English folk music and even hints of soul. That combination might have you questioning why such a band is being reviewed on Colin’s ‘Punk Rock’ World but both members of Hope In High Water spent time in the punk scene prior to coming together as a musical duo (sorry if that sounds like jail time!). Josh Chandler-Morris used to be the vocalist and sax player in one of Colin’s favourite UK ska punk bands, Anti-Vigilante, while Carly Slade played bass and sang backing vocals in Hackney-based Trashcat. Upon first listen, Hope In High Water sound nothing like their previous bands but there is no denying that without their punk roots they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Never Settle is Hope In High Water’s debut album, featuring songs that they have written and perfected playing live over the course of the last few years. The album was recorded by Luke Yates, of Crazy Arm and The Human Project, who also plays violin on the album. Hope In High Water were also joined by Josh’s old bandmate, Darren Capp, on drums. Having heard the duo play several of these songs live, I was very much looking forward to hearing them – plus more – with a fuller sound. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The album begins with a song called Time Shall Pass. It is a quiet and soothing start with a gentle acoustic guitar and banjo led intro before Josh’s vocals and a drum roll kicks in. Time Shall Pass is a heartfelt track about how it is sometimes better to feel pain for a time than feeling regret forever. ‘I would rather hurt 1000 times, Than regret leaving you behind.’ A suitable introduction to Never Settle. Next up is Bored Of Just Getting By. There are no drums on this song but the guitar playing sets the rhythm. It’s a little louder than the first track but still does its job of easing the listener in. The song features duel vocals from the outset and show for the first time on Never Settle just how perfectly matched Josh and Carly’s voices are. Josh’s voice is more prominent but the song definitely wouldn’t be half as lovely without Carly in the background. This song is about trying to enjoy life and not take each day for granted, even if it seems a struggle sometimes. ‘Maybe we’ll feel alive, Just for tonight.’ / ‘Am I foolish if I believe?’

A video for Four Strange Walls was released to coincide with the release of the album and features Josh and Carly wandering through a forest. It’s visually as beautiful as the song itself and I highly recommend giving it a watch (here) and being as mesmerised as I was. This song has a very much bluesy feel to it with a wonderful swinging motion to Carly’s banjo playing. The lyrics speak of struggles with alcohol addiction – ‘Lost myself to the bottle’ / ‘I was young, I was stupid…’ . It is a powerful song despite its despairing lyrics about dealing with inner demons. Carly’s vocals are amazing – and that’s coming from someone who until the last few years or so couldn’t get on with female vocalists (I know, I know that’s terrible). After Four Strange Walls, Josh takes back vocal duties for Pictures. His vocals are accompanied by some lovely finger picked acoustic guitar. Pictures is a song about wanting to be alone when dealing with the loss of a loved one. ‘Put your pictures in a frame, Hang them on the wall and forget the pain’. The melancholic violin in the middle and at the end of the song adds an extra element to the band’s sound – I’d love to see Luke join Josh and Carly at a future Hope In High Water gig, fingers crossed. (If he brings Crazy Arm along too I wouldn’t complain either!)

The fifth song, Who’s Gonna Hold Your Hand, is one the handful of songs on Never Settle that I’ve heard before, both live and on the EP that they released last year. This version of the song has been given a new lease of life compared to the live version by adding in drums and percussion which gives the song a much bigger sound. There’s more of those bluesy feels in the vocals and the rolling banjo rhythm properly gets your head nodding. It also makes me want to pick up the dusty banjo at my parents’ house that I bought several years ago but never learn how to play. One of my favourites on Never Settle, for sure. Next up is Angels In Heaven, another song that I’ve heard live a few times – in fact, the first time I heard it I was convinced that I’d heard it before. It turns out that I have heard it before, somewhere, because it’s a traditional song (Tom Waits did a version so maybe I’ve heard that somewhere along the way.) It’s very soulful, very bluesy. There are points in the song where the instruments pause and its all about Josh’s vocals which is great as he has a fine voice – it’s hard to believe he’s the same person that used to scream and shout in Anti-Vigilante.

Forgive Me is an upbeat number that kicks off with drums ahead of anything else. It reminds me of Crazy Arm on their acoustic country-style album, The Southern Wild, but I guess what it really sounds like is more authentic country-style music – it’s just I’m not actually much of a country listener! This song is about dealing with grief and realising that you haven’t always been the best person but wanting to change that and not wanting those around you to suffer because of it. ‘Throughout my youth I forgot my prayers, Pursuing happiness without a care, In these last few years I’m back down on my knees, Show me the error of my sins, But please don’t take the ones I love.’  Following on from Forgive Me is a song with gentle beginnings, Late Nights. The soft acoustic guitar with Josh’s slightly husky vocals and Carly’s warm tones is a simple combination but one that works. This is a song of loneliness and loss – not knowing which route to take in life or what to do next. ‘I’ve got no reason for tears, People have had it much harder here, And I know that time is precious, And I’m wasting all of mine, Late nights drunk and crying.’ It’s heartbreaking yet startlingly relatable if you’ve ever dealt with any form of depression. From one melancholic song to another, She Cries is a distinct almost gospel-sounding blues song. The acoustic guitar and drums are there and I also think I hear a bass guitar underneath – well, Carly did play bass in her old punk band after all. She Cries tells the tale of a woman who appears strong on the outside but breaks down when she’s alone. Carly’s vocals are powerful, sad and full of emotion. ‘Now she’s got no one to fall back on, Nobody’s got her back, And her heart couldn’t be mended, She couldn’t put it right, But she chose to put up defences, She chose to put up a fight.’ This track also features a great violin solo.

Heartaches On Hold is a banjo-heavy country song. The slow pace holds your attention as you nod along to the plucking of the banjo and let the song whisk you off to Nashville (or is it Milton Keynes?). Carly leads on this song but Josh adds excellent harmonies on the chorus – ‘I need, I need you here right now. But you’re never around, And so I drown. I drown, I drown in these sorrows, Hoping that tomorrow you’ll come back home.’ This song really pulls at your heartstrings. In fact, listening to it so closely, as I do when I review a song, it almost brought me to tears. That’s impressive songwriting. Then we come to the album’s closing track. When Sorrow Calls was also the title track of the EP that I mentioned previously, which was released last year. It’s such a good song that it’s no surprise that Hope In High Water wanted to include it on their full length debut and as the final song as well. When Sorrow Calls has almost solely vocals for the first verse with only very subtle acoustic guitar chords. This song is about finding hope in the darkest of situations. People are amazing, sometimes. ‘Don’t you think it’s amazing friend, The human spirit endures such things, I just hope I can find some strength, When sorrow calls at my door again.’ Although, like much of the album, this is a sorrowful song (it is in the track title after all) there is a distinct sense of hope that ends the album. There’s a reason why this band is called Hope In High Water and it's inspiring. Never settle. Never give up.

I understand that most of our regular CPRW readers may not be onboard with Americana or country music but if you like anything remotely folky, particularly folk punk with the inclusion of a banjo, then I urge you to give this album and this band a listen. Their songwriting tackles subjects that I feel could really connect with many of our readers and their musicianship is incredible. Hope In High Water deserve to be appreciated by more than just folk fans.

Never Settle is released on Fish Records and you can buy a physical copy here. It's also available to stream on Spotify or download on iTunes. You can and should also like Hope In High Water on Facebook here.

And finally, Alessia Pedrosa, a talented tattoo artist, illustrated the wonderful Never Settle album artwork.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Gig Review: [Spunge] at The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes 12/6/17

You know it's been some gig that when you go to do the washing the afternoon after the night before and your clothes are still soaked with sweat.

With that disgusting image now in your mind, let me explain what happened the night before. Emma and I made the trip across to Milton Keynes and The Craufurd Arms where one of my all time favourite bands [Spunge] were playing. We were both shattered after a late one the night before seeing Iron Chic in South London and then full days at work. We had debated skipping the gig but we decided to soldier on because it was [Spunge] (and it was local). This would be my first time seeing [Spunge] since Slam Dunk 2016 so it felt way overdue.

Support for the show came from local pop punks All Tied Up and local ska/reggae act Easydread. Both bands played great sets with Easydread particularly standing out with their energetic performance and strong social messages. They finished their set with the excellent song Scrotes in which half the band joined the crowd for a bit of a boogie.

After a lively couple of opening bands, The Craufurd Arms was now getting extremely warm. I could feel sweat building up on my back and all I was doing was standing awaiting the almighty [Spunge] to take to the stage. The Craufurd Arms wasn't packed but a decent crowd had gathered on a Monday night to see the long running ska punk heroes. The crowd was a little slow to get dancing on the opening song but, after some gentle encouragement from the band, the skanking began. As the show went on, more and more people were overcome by the infectious nature of ska and were dancing away with massive smiles on their face. All the "hits" were played with Ego, Jump On Demand, Roots and Some Suck, Some Rock getting big reactions as well as covers of Centrefold and No Woman No Cry. The band threw in some real old school [Spunge] tracks into their set as well, with Best Mate's Girlfriend, All Gone Wrong, Go Away and Make Me Happy getting rare run outs. I've seen [Spunge] a lot in the last few years but I missed out on the real early days so hearing these songs was an absolute treat. The set was obviously finished with Kicking Pigeons and we were treated with a special performance of the song as the Easydread brass section took to the stage to perform the song with [Spunge]. This obviously got the biggest reaction from the crowd and there wasn't a still foot in the building. After an encore of Skanking Song, where things got a little rowdy, I heard a girl say "it's called Skanking Song not Mosh Song" which made me grin. After over twenty years of being a band, it's clear that [Spunge] still love being a band and playing shows. It doesn't matter if it's at a small pub show like this or in front of a big crowd at a festival - they just love it. The band have developed such a loyal fanbase over the years that, despite not being as active as they once were, whenever they do get together for some shows it's always a special thing.

Emma and I had had a wonderful time at the show. It was certainly the hottest show we've been to in a little while and after spending an hour skanking away we were dripping with sweat but were completely over our exhaustion of the two nights of gigging. [Spunge] are the best.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Column: Musical Memories

Just over a decade ago, when myself and my group of friends were in a college,we had a weekly summer tradition. That tradition became known as Beach Monday. Every Monday during the summer holidays we would pile into whoever-could-drive's cars and make the forty minute trip to Frinton, to play such fun games as beach volleyball, football, rounders and our, quite legendary, fort building competition. Team Dave and Voice were the best! Even all that time ago I was very passionate about forcing awesome punk music into my friends ears. I took it upon myself to make a CD for the car journey and insisted that we play it every week. This became the soundtrack of summers and even now I can pretty much remember every song that was on that CD.

You might be thinking "cool story, bro" or "That's lovely. You made a CD and played it to people, what's the point of this story?" The point of that story is this. Recently I made a Beach Monday playlist on my Spotify account (we're up to date with the technology these days!) and it got me fondly remembering some of the happiest times of my life growing up. This got me thinking about how wonderful music is for soundtracking certain memories from different periods of your life.

I'm sure that anyone reading this can think back to a particular period in their life and remember exactly the songs that they loved, even if everything else you were doing is a bit hazy. Without being too deeply scientific, I think it's absolutely incredible that there is some part of a person's brain that sorts out the music you loved with different events. I'm sure it's also the same for music you hate but we like to be positive here at Colin's Punk Rock World, so let's stick with the music that you loved.

Music is this powerful force that remains with you forever. Much like a scar but far more wonderful and a lot less painful and disfiguring. Something I've done since I started going to gigs is tracked every band I've seen (and the amount of times I've seen them), every venue I've been to and who I've been to gigs with. To go along with this I've created a massive playlist on Spotify documenting my gig going history. Whilst making this playlist I've gone along with the general rule of picking a song from each band at the gig that isn't necessarily my favourite song that was played but the song that I think will give the longest serving memories. For instance, I saw Less Than Jake at Koko in March 2015 and they played Automatic and slipped in their song We're All Dudes from the Good Burger soundtrack (if you don't know the film Good Burger I'm not sure we can be pals). This was amazing, something I want to remember for a long time, so Automatic goes onto the playlist. I absolute love listening to this playlist, it's so much fun to hear these songs and think back to the many fantastic times I've had seeing my favourite bands. Or times where I've met cool people. Or times I had an interesting adventure due to a gig. Or that time I got kicked in the head at Slam Dunk watching Zebrahead. Or that other time I got kicked in the head watching Iron Chic at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston. Memories are ace. I plan to keep adding to this playlist for as long as I keep going to gigs so I can keep remembering the great times and bore whoever I might be listening to it with of stories of the past.

If anyone is interested here is that Beach Monday playlist.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gig Review: Iron Chic at The Montague Arms 11/6/17

Long Island, New York punk rockers Iron Chic are hugely DIY. Preferring to playing small independent venues rather than bigger, franchised venues. Iron Chic are also hugely popular. So much so that when their show at The Montague Arms in South London was announced it sold out within hours. Because of this, promoters Everything Sucks decided to put on an earlier show so that more people could witness the phenomenon that is Iron Chic. Both shows had different support acts with Bear Trade opening up the early show and then Molar and The Exhausts warming up the crowd for the evening show. Emma and I could only make the evening show but our pal Sarah from Shout Louder Punk reviewed the early show here.

When we arrived at the Montague Arms there were already a fair few people around ready for what was guaranteed to be a fantastic night. First up were Molar. This was my second time seeing the four piece from London. The first time I saw them I can remember enjoying them enough but never feeling completely enamoured by them. This time however I felt like Molar had really stepped up their game. The dual vocals between the band's drummer and one of the guitarists was a delight, adding a fantastic layer and depth to their songs. Molar are obviously a band that keep on progressing and I can only imagine it won't be long until they are one of the most talked about bands in the scene.

When we saw The Exhausts play at South East fest back in February they were without a doubt one of our highlights. Having the opportunity to see them again was a brilliant bonus of seeing Iron Chic again. The three piece's brand of in-your-face pop punk translates really well from record to the stage. I don't think The Exhausts have written a bad song and it's clear that the entire set went down a storm with not only Emma and I but everyone in the Montague Arms. The banter between Rory, Tommy and the rest of the crowd was hilarious, whether they were joking about not knowing how to play the songs or trying to get rid of some old t-shirts, they kept the crowd entertained between songs - whilst melting our faces with banger after banger. We were even treated to a couple of new songs from an upcoming EP that we are really looking forward to.

I can't think of many of the more modern day era of punk rock bands that are as universally loved as Iron Chic. The five piece have wowed crowds all over the world with their melodic gruff punk rock. Guitarist Phil Douglas (who I think is an incredibly underrated musician - watching him live is just spellbinding) starts things off with a cry of "kick it" and the party begins. The first song up is Cutesy Monster Man and from that moment and for the next forty-five minutes there was a euphoric sing-a-long. I love Jason Lubrano as a frontman, he does so little but always manages to have the crowd in the palm of his hand. Just stumbling around the stage and occasionally hitting himself on the head, but the crowd absoletly laps it up. Iron Chic are a band that don't need to do gimmicky things on stage, just letting their incredible music do the talking. Everything sounded great as always so it's hard to pick out any real highlights because in truth the whole set was a highlight. It was however great to hear some new material from the band, it's been too long since they released there last full length, The Constant One. Of course this song was brilliant and I eagerly await more news on a future release. Iron Chic also like to throw a cover song into their set. Joking about how they wrote this song in 1994, the band broke into a fantastic rendition of Green Day's She. After forty-five minutes of shouting my lungs out and throwing my fists in the air, Iron Chic were done and the whole room was full of massive smiles. Iron Chic are so good.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Top Tens: Fastfade's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Life In General. Easily the most influential record on our early musical direction. Simple chords and melodies played to rapid drum beats.

Captain Everything
This band from sunny Watford town has had a massive impact on our creative process. These guys showed us that we can still keep our English attitudes in a genre dominated by old Californian dudes.

Eyes Open Wide. This was the first track we ever played together and is still influential to our music writing. We even ripped off the bass riff in our first 'original' song - 'Negative'.

Seeing a Strung Out live show
The huge presence and unreal energy of this band is something we aspire to have at our live shows.

Ryan's Garage
The garage where we write and rehearse all of our music is cramped, cold and has terrible acoustics. Creating music in this kind of environment has inspired us to have a raw sound and energy and not take ourselves too seriously.

This online community has shown us that quite a few people actually still like this terrible music.

Brain Puker - Some Days
This hidden gem of a song is a huge inspiration to our musical direction. The progressive non linear structure and melodic vocals are something we try and incorporate into our style.

Blink 182 - Cheshire Cat
"Dude you guys sound just like blink in the Cheshire Cat era!" is a compliment we hear all too often. But to give credit where it's due, this album definitely changed our musical tastes back when we were 13/14 and is the reason we got into fast punk in the first place.

Rich Alexander from No Insight
This guy has recorded everything we've ever put out, makes all our video promos for us and shows up to 100% of our shows. This dude has inspired us to keep making music.

Umlaut Records
When we stumbled upon Umlaut Records through a great band called 'On a Hiding to Nothing' it made us realise that there's actually a London punk scene for melodic fast punk. After countless gigs playing with indie and metal bands, we found a scene where we actually fit in and inspired us to keep going with our melodic fast punk style.

Umlaut Records are also putting out Fastfade's next EP Side Effect, you can pre-order it here.

Like Fastfade here.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Album Review: Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt

Eat Dirt are a new band from the East of England who play angry hardcore punk rock. This month the band released their debut self titled EP.

Eat Dirt start off the EP named Eat Dirt with a song named Eat Dirt. The song is only thirty two seconds long but really serves as a guide to what you can expect from the band. It's fast, in your face and incredibly angry. This band is seriously pissed off about something. It's also quite a lot of fun and really cathartic to sing along with. The second track, Pigs, is a full minute longer than Eat Dirt (the song). It's not as fast as its predecessor, focussing more on melody rather than creating a whirlwind of chaos. The song is a protest song that encourages the beaten down to "rise up and be heard." I particularly like the dual vocals in the song, combining the harsh shouty vocals with a more melodic style. The fast paced craziness is back on the third track 48. 48 is about struggling to find the inspiration to go and fight for what you believe in. Another song that is less than one minute in length but manages to pack an incredible amount into the track. That's something that has always amazed me with hardcore music, how so much can be squeezed into a short song. The EP is finished with the song Dead. What a superb track this is. The song frequently switches its melody and style around depending on verse or chorus. This makes for an interesting style that makes it hard to predict what will happen next. The combination of a thudding rock 'n' roll sound and hardcore punk works far better than you might expect that it would. The band's guitarist gets to show off his musical chops towards the end of the song. They really wail!

Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt is a short but sweet kick in the face. If you like your punk rock hard, intense and angry but also a lot of fun then you need to be checking out Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt. Eat Dirt.

Stream and download Eat Dirt here:

Like Eat Dirt here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Gig Review: Dwarves at Belvederes, Pittsburgh 6/7/17 (Lauren Stein)

Hordes of punk rockers braved the hipster-filled streets of the Pittsburgh, PA neighborhood of Lawrenceville on Wednesday night, making their way to the safe confines of Belvederes to see the almighty Dwarves. This show, one that I was eagerly looking forward to, marked just about a year since the last time these punk rock legends were in town, and the crowd was ready to party.

Appropriately enough, the first band up was the Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band. These locals came prepared as they always do, stocked with party hats, confetti poppers, noise makers, and lots and lots of balloons. This sextet plays some loud and fast ska-punk, and the light-hearted nature of their songs is made clear by such song titles as “Party Pooper” and “Shart Attack.” When lead singer and guitarist Polka Kapolka shouts, “Let’s get ready to stumble!” you know you’re in for a good time. Plus they’ve got the coolest horn section in town. SFTAPBʻs next show is June 22nd at the Buzzbin Art & Music shop in Canton, OH with Clownvis Presley, Whiskey Daredevils, and Subourbon Son.

Next up was Porno Tongue, a band that I don’t get to see nearly enough. I first saw these guys last February at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern and was blown away. Their music is something like a cross between punk rock and jam band, complete with a handful of extended guitar solos by Joel Forsgren; these are not your typical two minute, three-chord bangers. Weed is a prevalent theme in their songs (and the in-between song banter), and frontman Jerry Lyon looks the part with his dreads. As always, their set was a ton of fun and ended with an extended version of their song, “Middle Finger.”

Last up of the local acts was Thunder Vest. Their set featured the return of guitarist Nasty Nate (also of The Scratch n’ Sniffs), which brought the Vest back to their original lineup. The crowd was pleased by this event and there much heckling for Nate. Thunder Vest plays some loud, fast, beer-infused punk rock and they really got the crowd moving with songs like the Karate Kid-inspired “Sweep the Leg.” After playing a solid set, including new song “Human Vacuum,” they closed out with “Fat Chicks,” which featured dueling guitar solos from Nate and guitarist Steve Chiang.

Touring with the Dwarves was California-based Decent Criminal. This four piece continued the momentum that Thunder Vest started, playing a unique mix of punk rock, surf rock and alternative, with some pop vibes thrown in. Their sound was definitely fun and refreshingly different. Although initially skeptical, the crowd’s interest was soon piqued and they left the bar to check out the set. You can find Decent Criminal’s music on their Bandcamp page.

Finally it was time for the Dwarves. Earlier in the week Dwarves’ singer Blag Dahlia had blown out his voice and had been passing vocal duties onto the audience during the set. There had been conflicting stories as to whether or not he had recovered, but when he took the stage Blag confirmed that there would be “Dwarves Karaoke” that night. But the show must go on, and it did so admirably.

The set was weighted towards songs sung by bassist Nick Oliveri and Blag did sing a bit throughout the set, occasionally lowering the mic so a fan could sing the next line. At one point he handed off the mic entirely to Thunder Vest frontman Scott Terzolino for two songs, “One Time Only” and “Everybodies Girl.” Terzolino’s animated stage presence helped him fit right in next to the Dwarves crew and the songs went off without a hitch. Despite the unusual circumstances, the crowd was still raging, forming a small mosh pit in front of the stage. The Dwarves' set ended too soon, and although the situation was understandable, the crowd left still craving more.

This show review was originally posted on Punksburgh.

Album Review: Renovations by Pseudo

Oh, another fantastic band from Canada is on Colin's Punk Rock World today! Pseudo are another of the many great bands that are constantly coming out of the great punk rock factory that is Canada. The three piece from Toronto put out their debut album Renovations late in 2016 and I've finally discovered it.

Renovations starts out with the song Slump (Rink-a-Dink, a fantastically unique guitar intro before the real bangers and mash of the song gets going. As soon as the vocals hit, it's impossible not to compare Pseudo to The Flatliners. The powerful gruff sound has Chris Cresswell written all over it. But saying that Psuedo are just a Flatliners rip off really doesn't do them justice, as after just one song it's clear that they are a great band in their own right. There is a great pop tinge to the music too, going along with the hard hitting melodic punk rock. Pseudo bring everything to the party. After a superb opening track we have I've Got No Eggs. I've Got No Eggs is a slower paced track with a hard hitting sound. The song is about missing someone who is especially special to you and trying to find a replacement. The track absolutely flies by, it's actually over three minutes long but it seems like it's at least half that when you're listening to it. As the saying goes, time flies when you're having fun! Cold Pressed really took me by surprise from the outset. Starting out with a grungy hardcore sound, the band switches between clean and dirty vocals throughout. I loved that Pseudo played three different styles of punk rock in their opening three tracks, showing a real variety in their sound. I was expecting a pop punk record, haha!

Modest is a brilliant song that switches between the poppiest of punk and the hardiest of hardcore. Pseudo do a fantastic job of keeping you guessing what's coming next. Modest is full to the brim with so much emotion, using the angry man style of vocal brilliantly to portray so much aggression inbetween the more laid back sound. This is just excellent songwriting. Outlaws is one of my favourites on the album. The tempo is upped and the melody just flows along beautifully whilst keeping a gritty edge. The song is about that person who has to be the alpha in everything and wanting to put that person in their place. I imagine we all know a person who has to be in charge of everything all of the time and how annoying that person can be. I'm sure we all want to put that person in their place for time to time. The album's title track, Renovations, is another that really takes you by surprise. Beginning with a beautiful piano led intro before Pseudo unleash a storming melodic hardcore track that the likes of Strike Anywhere or Propagandhi would be proud of! The song itself is about knowing somebody you care for is in a really bad way and not wanting to lose them forever. The seventh song on the album is named Albatrosses. Pseudo switch the style around again with some mid-tempo pop punk. While it doesn't quit hit the same heights as some of the other tracks on Renovations, it still has its place on the album. The song doesn't really come into its own until the ending when some brilliant aggressive vocals pick the song up and power it through to its conclusion.

What an incredible song Plastic Bottles & Tubs is! It's up-tempo pop punk with gruff vocals. The energy that comes out of the song is infectious and instantly has me nodding my head and tapping my toes as I listen, whilst sat behind my laptop. This is exactly how I love my punk rock music. It gets me wanting to move, wanting to sing and wanting to throw my fists in the air. There's some great gang vocals and a superb guitar solo thrown into the song for good measure. What a tune! The penultimate song on Renovations is named Lifeblood and is based on, and largely inspired by, Apache Blessing. Beginning with some crunchy guitars we are again treated to some gruff pop punk. Of all the styles of punk that Pseudo have squeezed into Renovations I think that they do the gruff pop punk the best. Something that Pseudo do really well on all of their songs is build. The ending of Lifeblood is absolutely huge - it has to be heard to be believed. What an explosive ending! Finally we have the song Fun Guy. This mid-tempo number feels like a fantastic way to bookend Renovations. There's something about it that just feels like a final track. I've always been very big on the flow of an album's track listing and Pseudo have done a fantastic job of that.

Renovations is a great, fun and inventive album. If you love The Flatliners but were a little disappointed by their newest album you can do a lot lot worse that given Renovations a chance. I don't think that you'll regret it!

Stream and download Renovations here:

Like Pseudo here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Album Review: Sex, Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics by Eat The Evidence (by Dan Peters)

Quick Disclaimer: Colin's Punk Rock World does not condone the recreational taking of illegal substances in order to expand your mind and have an amazing time. Any anecdotes about drug use during this review are purely hypothetical and you can’t prove anything unless you have pictures of mental house parties down in Brighton circa 2003-6.

In my efforts to remain an impartial reviewer I like to set myself challenges and reviewing an album from a bunch of incredible dudes that I’ve been good friends with for around 15 years is gonna be tough. I will tell you a few facts though, to help sway the fact that I may come across overly positive without it just being because we’re all friends. Eat The Evidence have been a sleeper big band for at least three years now. I have been to several ETE shows and I have never seen them play to less than a packed out show. From little shitholes in Harrow to their recent album launch show, crowds of people have always been jammed in to see them play live. They are talented dudes who have a flawless live show that has done nothing but get stronger each time they play. Something of a super group, all the members have had reasonable success in previous bands before coming together.

Sex, Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics is actually the debut Eat The Evidence album. Despite several of the tracks having the odd home recording, this is the first time everything has been placed in one properly mixed and mastered place. If you’ve been unlucky enough to miss ETE at one of the aforementioned packed out shows then it’s gonna be a hard time describing the style to you. They are a third wave ska/reggae group with grime vocal stylings and unique instrumentation. Or “that rapping ska band with the accordion”. Either descriptor will do.

The album kicks off with ukuleles, slide whistles and a “funny because it’s true” story about British Imperialism. Once you wrap your head around the musical arrangement you’ll find a fun romp of a song that will stick like glue to your memory banks.

No ’Ists No ’Isms is an ETE classic with all the trademarks of the band, the accordion rhythm, the reggae beats and bass, easy upstrokes and guitar noodles over tightly rapped lyrics with tighter harmonies. Vocals throughout the album are irreverent and often funny to the point of laughing out loud but always with a potent undertone of political savviness. Duck Hunt is all about the ridiculous notion of trickle down wealth but you need to be paying real attention to catch the witticisms within.

Alongside the political banter is the sex and drugs side of things mentioned in the title of the album. Songs like You Only Say You Love Me When You’re High and Come Down With Me hark back to fond memories of party days, with all the (figurative and literal) highs and lows that comes with adding drugs to your party lifestyle.

I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the wit and intelligence in almost every aspect of the vocals of lead singers Tom and Jack. Lines like “You take a swig on your Bulmers, Your mind’s as open as Woolworths” are at once incredibly clever and just shy of ridiculous. It’s stuff like this that’s a Hallmark of the ETE experience. There’s everything available from biting political satire to the kind of in joke that you’d only pick out if you were smashed off your gourd in Riley Road that time when handsome Jack climbed over the house whilst tripping his nuts off. Actually maybe that didn’t happen, I don’t remember I was pretty munted! Either way, this is an album you can pour over and over on subsequent listens and always find some new and clever that you missed in a track you’ve already listen to fifteen times and swear you know back to front.

I feel like I’m rambling a bit, I guess I’m starting to give myself flashbacks a little so I’ll shoot for a conclusion. Sex, Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics is an utterly unique blend of almost nothing you’d think to add to a reggae/ska album and yet somehow everything else seems pale and washed out next to it. Eat The Evidence already showed that these songs are instantly likeable and amazing to dance to in their live experiences and now I feel they finally have something that is a good enough sounding representation of them to listen to. Just for the fact you will have never heard anything like this before, you should check them out. Once you’ve inevitably fallen in love then I highly recommend seeing them live because there’s nothing like an ETE live show.

N.B. the track listing of the link I’ve listened to doesn’t match the CD I own, doesn’t matter though what kind of square listens to an album in order these days anyway.

Stream Sex, Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics here:

Like Eat The Evidence here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Gig Review: Descendents at The Forum, Kentish Town 4/6/17

I've finally seen the Descendents. They were a bucket list band of mine since I've known what a bucket list was. And now I have finally seen them! I don't think I've been so excited for a gig in years, probably not even for Fest last year. If you were to do a ranking system for the most influential and important bands in punk rock the Descendents would have to be placed very close to the top. Ahead of bands such as Green Day, The Offspring, blink-182, NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion and 99% of all the other bands you or I can probably list.

The evening before the gig Emma and I were at The Burnt Tapes album launch (go check them out here, they are incredible) and I was talking to a friend and asked if he was going to see the Descendents the following night. Knowing that he is a fan of the band, I was somewhat surprised to learn that he wasn't because the last time he had seen them he found them a little boring. I was left a bit speechless by this as I couldn't believe the Descendents could be anything less that amazing on stage. I guess I was going to find out the following night.

Emma and I arrived in Kentish Town and discovered the punks were out in force tonight. We were waiting at Kentish Town Underground Station for Emma's pal James Jackson and I've never seen so many people sporting the t-shirt of the band they're about to go and see. We were expecting there to be a massive queue at the Forum when we arrived but surprisingly it wasn't. I guess all the punks were at the pub. We soon got in and excitedly waited for the Descendents.

There were two support acts for the evening. First up were The Kenneths from London who Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson had worked with on their latest album. The three piece played a high energy style of punk rock 'n' roll and used the space on the stage really well. Second up were old school punk rockers Abrasive Wheels from Leeds. Combining '77 style punk and Oi! music, the four piece successfully got the crowd moving during their 45 minute set.

Where do I start when talking about the Descendents set. First of all it was bloody long - they managed to squeeze thirty-five songs into an hour and a half set that included not one, but two encores. Unsurprisingly the set was heavy with songs from last year's brilliant Hypercaffium Spazzinate album but almost all of the classics as well as some rare, old school favourites were also played. Starting out with Everything Sux, the crowd at The Forum was immediately strapped in and ready for what was going to be one hell of a ride. I was amazed at just what a well oiled machine the band were. I know all four members are absolute legends in the punk world and complete masters of their craft but the Descendents really don't play that many shows. If you didn't know this though you would have never noticed. Bill, Stephan and Karl never miss a single note or beat as Milo prowls around the stage singing songs of love, loneliness, growing up and, of course, coffee. There wasn't much time spent between songs for banter with the band preferring to power through song after song. The stamina of the band was incredible, remember these guys are all in their fifties but they played like they were half that age. For anyone in the crowd who is in a band, this was a lesson on how to play a set. There was a no thrills approach to the songs that I particularly enjoyed as well. There was no throwing in extra break downs or solos or getting the crowd to sing or clap along, instead sticking with playing a song and moving on to the next one. This shows just how good the songwriting of the Descendents is, each song felt like a big deal without any funny business being thrown in. Like I said earlier, they played all of the classics during their set. Highlights for me included Coolidge (which is my favourite Descendents song), Hope, On Paper, Clean Sheets, Coffee Mug, When I Get Old, Thank You, Descendents and I'm The One - that's a lot of highlights. In all honesty though, out of all thirty-five songs there wasn't a single dud. The crowd around me, and I assume throughout the venue, sang their hearts out to one of the most beloved bands ever. We knew that this was a very rare opportunity to see the Descendents and we had to make the most of it. On a personal note it was absolutely incredible to finally see them live for the first time. If I never see them again I can happily say that at least I saw them once when they were still at the top of their game. Top of their game despite being a less than part-time band and getting older in age but definitely not spirit.

I don't have much else to say except - it was the Descendents, of course it was incredible!

This gig review was writen by Colin Clark.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Gig Review: The Burnt Tapes and Friends at Urban Bar, Whitechapel 3/6/17

This past weekend was a particularly exciting weekend for punks in London as the Descendents were playing the Forum in Kentish Town on the Sunday. The night before that was also an exciting night for Emma and I though as it was The Burnt Tapes launch party for their incredible new EP named Alterations. The party was taking place at one of my favourite venues, Urban Bar in Whitechapel, with a stacked line up of bands. O'Holy Ghost, Shinjoku Riot, Triple Sundae, Wayfairer and Werecats were all supporting what was promising to be a very special night to celebrate a great band's great release.

When this gig was announced I knew it was one I just couldn't miss. Normally I have to work Saturday nights but, after a little bit of bargaining with a colleague, I got an early shift and all was well. As we arrived in London we discovered that Whitechapel Underground Station was closed for the weekend so we had to make our way to Aldgate and walk the rest of the way. Thankfully the first act, Wayfairer, wasn't due on until 7.30 so we arrived in plenty of time. When we did arrive at Urban Bar we were greeted by Burnt Tapes bassist, and possibly the most positive guy in punk rock, Tone. After some hugs and hellos we made our way upstairs where we bumped into Burnt Tapes guitarist Pan (who is also a member of the CPRW team) who filled us in on the band's tour, including his sun stroke. The Burnt Tapes had gone all out with decorating Urban Bar in anticipation for the party, with colourful bunting, balloons, inflatable animals, pineapples and a massive inflatable palm tree. The party was ready! (We also bumped into Mark of Müg/Umlaut Records, but we see him everywhere! Hi Mark).

Wayfairer aka Ian was first to take to the stage. Except he wasn't on stage, he decided to play his set down on the floor. After reviewing his EP earlier in the year, Emma was particularly looking forward to seeing him live and he definitely didn't disappoint. This is exactly how I like my acoustic punk rock. It's no thrills and direct to the point. Ian's voice carries very well in this setting and I wish I would have known the words to his songs so I could sing along. This was a great set that was finished off with an Alkaline Trio cover. A brilliant way to kick start the night.

Up next was a new band named O'Holy Ghost who were playing their first ever gig. The four piece from London currently have two songs they have released all across the Internet that were recorded by Apologies, I Have None's Joe Watson. Boy, we were impressed by this band. If you're into bands like The Menzingers or Iron Chic, O'Holy Ghost are certainly a band you should be checking out. They put on a fantastic, slick performance. The band's duel vocalists helped give the songs a bigger feel with both doing a great job with cleaner singing and the more gruff, dirty vocals. Unfortunately O'Holy Ghost were the first band to be hit with some sound problems that occured frequently throughout the night. This however didn't take anything away from O'Holy Ghost's first gig. I'm looking forward to many more.

I'd seen Triple Sundae for the first time a couple of weeks earlier supporting Jeff Rosenstock at the Underworld and loved every second of it. I approached their set at Urban Bar wondering if they could catch lightning in a bottle again. Well, I think that I may have enjoyed this set more than I did their Underworld show. The high energy pop punk and Hassan's brilliant vocals work so well together and really got the crowd pumped up. Despite growing issues with the sound, Triple Sundae were excellent throughout.

Following Triple Sundae were a band who have previously contributed a top ten influences post to the site but I've never had the pleasure of seeing live. London four piece Werecats are a band I was very interested to see live. I absolutely loved the duelling vocals of Pip and Cici during their three chord pop punk assault. On record the production is quite slick and well-produced whereas in a live setting there was a wonderful rawness about them which I adored. How it's taken me so long to see this band is beyond me and I'm very disappointed in myself. This Ramonescore pop punk couldn't be more up my street and am hoping to see the band again very soon.

Mexican three piece Shinjoku Riot have been on tour with The Burnt Tapes throughout their entire tour of Europe and the UK and it's clear that both bands have developed a strong friendship. Not being at all familiar with their music I was very curious to see what they were like. The poor sound definitely hit this band the hardest which was a massive shame. Since the show I've checked them out online and am so impressed with the band. Straight forward, sing-a-long punk rock at its finest. Hopefully Shinjoku Riot will be back on our shores very soon!

Now it was time for the main event. London via Athens "regret punks", The Burnt Tapes. The band's new EP is Alterations is one of mine and Emma's favourite releases of the year so far. Pan was nice enough to let me listen early and I was completely blown away and excitedly told Emma that she has to listen to this. I also bumped into Tone at the Jeff Rosenstock gig and gushed excitedly to him just how good Alterations is. Hearing it live took my appreciation of the record up another level. I'm not good enough at words to really express just how good it was. I'm also trying to write this as a neutral to the band and not as someone who loves the band as people and not just as a band. Phil's voice was on absolute top form and was ably backed my Pan and Tone, despite Tone having to share a mic with whoever wasn't using their's due to Urban Bar weirdly only having two microphones. When we saw The Burnt Tapes at Manchester Punk Festival back in April we thought they were great, here they really took things up another level. Despite all of the technical difficulties (I felt so sorry for the poor sound man trying to fix it) The Burnt Tapes put in such a polished performance. Clearly a lot of time and effort was put in crafting these songs, not only so they sound great on record but completely rock when they are played live. One highlight for us was when Pan got a chance to take lead vocal duties on his song Things Get Weird. A song that starts slow but when it kicks in just blows everything away. The crowd at Urban Bar loved this. Finishing their set with a great surprise cover of Dear Landlord's I Live In Hell, in which Phil crowd surfed whilst still managing to play guitar, it's safe to say that The Burnt Tapes absolutely smashed it and played one of the best sets I've watched in ages. Emma and I both came away smiling.

That was the end of the night for us. Dark Days were playing a Pup cover set to finish the night but we knew we had to get a bus replacement service half the way home so decided it would be best to call it a night. As we made our way back to Aldgate, we discussed the night and particularly how much we loved The Burnt Tapes. Not only are they a fantastic band but are just excellent people. Despite the downhearted nature of their songs, they are such a positive group of guys who clearly have a huge love of punk rock music and the community as a whole. The night was named The Burnt Tapes and Friends. I don't think that title was just meant for the line up of bands playing the show but also for everyone who attended the gig. I think we all had and have a lot of love for The Burnt Tapes.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

This is something that I've put off doing for a while. Ever since Avon came up with the idea of getting people from the punk rock community to give us their top ten punk rock influences, I've avoided doing one myself. Partly because picking just ten would be really quite tricky and also because I don't feel like people would really care about my picks. However because this week Colin's Punk Rock World is three years old it seemed like a good time to do it. Hopefully you all enjoy it and can relate to some of them.

1. The Abu Club

The Abu Club is the name that myself and my three oldest and best friends, Craig, Anthony and Dr Dave, gave our little gang when we were children (after the monkey from Aladdin). None of these three chaps are strictly punks in the sense that they particularly enjoy punk music but when I think about growing up with the three of them I realise that they've always had a punk rock spirit. Think back to your days at secondary school, your year group and all the different cliques there probably was. We had the populars, the grungers, the geeks, the smokers and so on. Our little gang never really fell into one group or another and just went about our lives minding our own business and being ourselves. This really taught me that you don't have to act a certain way to fit in with a crowd and you can just be yourself, do things your own way and be accepted. Since my school days I've always gone and done things my own way knowing that it's okay to be and do things differently.

2. Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake changed my life. Growing up I'd heard all of the MTV pop punk bands such as Green Day, The Offspring and blink-182 and I enjoyed them immensely. Then I heard Gainesville Rock City and I fell in love. There was something about that fast paced punk rock interlaced with horns that I just got and I have been obsessed with the band ever since. They were the first band I ever went to see live and have seen them many times since. I've even seen them in Gainesville at Fest. Through Less Than Jake my love of ska punk grew and grew, I discovered so many fantastic bands from the USA and the UK and I know I'll definitely be a ska kid at heart for life.

3. [Spunge]

I first heard [Spunge] whilst listening to Steve Lamaq's old Radio One show. The song was Roots from the album The Story So Far. I thought this song was just incredible and after I got my first ever pay cheque from work I went into our local Virgin Megastore and bought that album. I've probably listened to that album a thousand times and I still love it. [Spunge] were my first foray into UK underground ska punk and I discovered so many great bands because of them.

4. Golf Records/Household Records

So many people who have done these influences lists have listed Fat Wreck and Epitaph Records. Not surprising really as the bands on those labels were a big part of growing up listening to punk rock but for me it was the UK scene that really got me excited. Golf Records, Deck Cheese and Household Name were the home of so many of my favourite bands at the time. The list of great bands from the time that were members of those rosters reads like a who's who of UK punk at the time. Capdown, Lightyear, Jesse James, 4ft Fingers, Vanilla Pod, Not Katies, Captain Everything, The Filaments, Uncle Brian, Tiny Elvis, Fletcher, King Prawn and many, many more! These bands played a big part in shaping my musical development and, on the rare occasion that any of these bands play, I do everything in my power to make sure that I see them.

5. The Lock Up

I miss Mike Davies' old Radio One show The Lock Up. There's a good chance that you do as well. His weekly two hour show helped me to discover so much great punk rock from the UK, as well as the USA. He did an incredible job of showcasing the talent in the UK underground scene and often put them on his always popular stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Why the show stopped is beyond me.

6. True Believers

The Bouncing Souls anthem True Believers is a song that should inspire all punks all over the world. The song is jam packed with lyrics about living life the way that you want to despite what other people might think and standing and fighting for what you believe in. That's how I try and live my life every day, to me it's the only way to live.

7. Reinventing Axl Rose

The Against Me! anthem Reinventing Axl Rose paints a perfect picture of what not just a punk scene should be but how the whole music world should be. In the song Laura Jane Grace sings about how music should be about empowering people rather than making money, becoming famous and living a glamorous lifestyle. As someone who is tee-total, the line "Just Gimme A Scene Where The Music Is Free, And The Beer Is Not The Life Of The Party" always really struck a chord with me.

8. UK Punk Scene

The United Kingdom's punk scene is absolutely incredible. There are so many incredible bands all over the place it's ridiculous. The spirit of community across the punk scene is second to none. I really can't believe that any other music has a communty anything like our one. It's not just the bands who are great either. Whenever you meet a stranger at a show they are always the nicest person. When you go to a DIY punk show, even if you're alone and don't know a soul in the room, it always feels as if you are in a room full of best friends. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

9. Promoters

I felt like it was important to separate the promoters from the UK scene as an influence. If there weren't so many fantastic promoters across the UK, there wouldn't be much of a punk scene. I've looked into putting on shows myself and it looks like it's a lot of work! Taking the time to organise a venue, finding bands to play the show, trying to promote it, getting people to come, making sure things run smoothly at the gig, making sure the bands are looked after, doing the door so you end up not really seeing the gig you've just put on… So much goes into it. These people put on shows not for money, most promoters work on a not for profit basis, but because they love music and want to help it thrive. These people are often the unsung the heroes of the scene and deserve all of the love and respect in the world.

10. Jeff Rosenstock

Jeff Rosenstock has been featured quite a bit on this blog recently. His DIY attitude to music is a massive influence on me. He's certainly not the first person to take the DIY approach to punk rock but he did help to pioneer the idea of giving his music away for free. It was more important for him that people would get to hear the music and his message rather than ever making any money from it. This practice is fairly common these days but when he began to do this with his band Bomb The Music Industry it was seen as a big risk and it was an incredibly brave decision. Safe to say that the rest is history.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Album Review: Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams by Arms & Hearts

As you probably know if you are a regular reader of Colin’s Punk Rock World, Arms & Hearts is the name that acoustic folk punk Steve Millar goes by. I say you probably know this as he’s a CPRW favourite and we’ve reviewed his stuff before! Last year I reviewed his two track EP titled The Jaded Captain (spoiler alert: it was great) and so I was keen to take a listen to his newest offering when given the opportunity.

Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams is a four track EP that was released by Under The Bridge Records last month. Before I talk about the music, I just wanted to say how much I love the artwork which features four neat (I think) linocuts by Alex Rennie that represent each of the four tracks – clever.

The first song on Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams is called Racketeers (not to be confused with ‘raconteurs’ which means something different, although they were an excellent band!). The track begins with some gentle acoustic guitar which is a nice soothing entry into the EP before Steve’s distinct, ever so slightly gravelly vocals come in. You can feel all of the passion that goes into Arms & Hearts’ songs in his voice. ‘And the city’s been dragging me down, Love the lights, Oh I love the lights, But I can’t see past them.’ Cue some subtle backing woah-ohs that lift the track. A promising start to Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams. Next up we have Embers which kicks off with dual guitars – one acoustic and one electric. It’s a bigger sound that reminds me of Chuck Ragan and that’s no band thing – all it needs is some fiddle thrown in! Despite the bigger and somewhat uplifting sounds of a electric guitar in the background, this isn’t the most positive of songs. The lyrics deal with the idea that nothing happens for a reason (rather than the classic ‘everything happens for a reason’) but, in the end, that’s okay and we’ll be able to deal with it. ‘And I no longer believe in apologies, It will all fall on deaf ears, And we’ll burn down like embers, And we’ll burn down to the ground, We’ll burn down to the ground.’ 

Following on from Embers is a track called Blue Sky Minds. This song builds on the stripped back acoustic nature of Racketeers, combines it with the electric guitar elements from Embers and creates my favourite song of Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams – best of both worlds on the musical front. At almost 4 minutes long, Blue Sky Minds is the longest song on the EP but it doesn’t waste a second. There is a great sense of building throughout the song, both musically and lyrically. I don’t know for certain that this is what Steve is referring to but a ‘blue sky mind’ is the idea that there is a calm and clear mind underneath all of our thoughts, emotions and anxieties. The way I interpret Blue Sky Minds, the song, is that your friends can help you to find that calm place. But maybe I’m just too spiritual-hippy in my thinking. Oh yeah, and there’s some great handclaps at towards the end of the song! While the last two songs had fairly big sounds, Arms & Hearts returns to a stripped back and acoustic-led track with High Time, High Tides closing Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams. All of his songs are highly emotive but perhaps this song is the most heart-wrenching of all – the soft guitar and slower pace helps with that. The addition of bluesy harmonica between verses helped to cement my interest – I do love a bit of harmonica. The song is very much a sorrowful one and I found I couldn’t listen to it too many times, lest I become too sad. That could be seen as a negative against the song but it also means that High Time, High Tides connected with me on a deeper level than simply having a catchy tune or whatever. Great songwriting.

Arms & Hearts hasn’t exactly pushed any genre boundaries with this EP but, hey, I wouldn’t want him to. I’ve enjoyed everything that Steve Millar has put out up to this point and Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams is no different. Another solid release.

You can buy and stream Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams from the Under The Bridge Bandcamp, here. And also find Arms & Hearts on Facebook, over here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Album Review: Disasters by Rayner

Rayner are a five piece punk rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. The band formed in 2014 and are influenced by 90s punk rock music. On June 23rd they release the follow up to their debut album, Circles, with a new EP named Disasters. Disasters is being put out by the brilliant For The Love Of Punk Records. Everything I've heard from that label has been fantastic so I was keen to give Disasters a listen.

The first track on Disasters is named Jagged Pieces. This song and the entire EP starts off in a way that I fully expect a pop punk band to start - with some upbeat duelling guitars getting things going. I immediately loved lead singer Dany's vocals. They are not what I was expecting at all! I was expecting fast paced and snotty but what I got was clean and melodic. This might be an obsecure reference to many but they really remind me of the 90s Christian punk rock band Fanmail. (Check this out and tell me if you agree). As the song goes on the rest of the band get to add gang vocals, which are slightly dirtier in sound, but work fantastically well. Up next we have a song named Simplicity. What a great track this was! The song begins quite slowly with a slow guitar riff and some light cymbal tapping before things gradually pick up. Not so much in speed but definitely in power. Here Rayner show that you don't have to play everything at full speed to make a big impression. The chorus, when the gang vocals come in again, is where Simplicity really hits the heights. I can imagine a small, sweaty club shouting along to this at the top of their voices. I'm jealous of that imagination, I want to be at that small sweaty club shouting along.

The tempo is upped again on the third song, Get Nasty. As great as the guitars are on this track it's Dave's drumming that really stands out. Especially during the segments where it's mostly drums and vocals. Unless you're giving the track a really thorough listen you don't even realise the guitars aren't there - that's how good the drums are at laying down the rhythm. Another fantastic track. Two songs to go and I'm really in love with this EP. The penultimate track on Disasters is Model Competitors. Model Competitors is a very mature sounding pop punk number about trying to find a constant in your life to put your mind at ease. This song has a soothing quality to it that makes you feel like there are people in the same boat as you and that everything will be alright in the end. I love that sense of positivity that pours out of the song. Music like this is important - it helps people. More of the same please.

Lastly we have the song Blurred Limes. From the outset Blurred Limes has a feeling of epicness that all final songs on EPs and albums should have. Immediately you get the feeling that this song is going to have a massive sound to it. This is another positive song about feeling good about things despite being in a bad situation. The song builds brilliantly towards its  finale, which is the real highlight of the song. Dany sings "I'm Feeling Good Tonight" whilst the rest of the band provides some excellent gang vocal harmonies of "We're Already, Already, Already Living In Hell." Just brilliant.

The wonderful Lauren Mills on Mills On Wheels PR sent me this amazing release. I love when she sends me stuff because I know I'm going to love it. Rayner are a band I'm now fully on board with. If you like pop punk music with plenty of melody then Rayner are a band for you.

Pre-order Disasters here:

Like Rayner here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Gig Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2017 at Hatfield University 29/5/17

Monday May 29th 2017 marked my fifth year in a row attending Slam Dunk Festival at Hatfield University in Hertfordshire. The line up has always been really stacked with the best bands in punk, ska, rock, metal and all other alternative genres and this 2017 edition was obviously no different. Of course, I was there for the punk and ska stage which was rammed with some of the biggest name ever in the ska and pop punk genres. This year Emma was with me as well, attending her very first Slam Dunk Festival. (Emma’s parts of this review are in italics.)

As the Slam Dunk organisers advised, we arrived nice and early at the Hatfield site and met up with our pals Dan, Marilyn and Emily. We very quickly got our festival wristbands and joined an already growing queue. Part of the reason that Slam Dunk advised arriving early was because of the extensive searches that would be going on before entering. Something that was completely understandable given the devastating terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier in the week. This did make moving through the queue take a little longer than normal but I'm sure the majority of people were completely happy with this and I thought that the whole process was handled superbly. One girl near me wasn't quite so happy about the speed of the queue and was moaning something about how this wasn't value for money. I didn't quite get what on earth she was going on about. What a silly billy. Once we made it in we used the toilets and scoped out where all the stages and food stalls were around the site. After bumping into our pals Mark from Müg (who designed the Fireball stage poster) and Jack from Ships Down, we made our way to the Fireball stage to check out the first band of the day - Fenix TX!

Slam Dunk Festival was Fenix TX's first UK appearance in many, many years. Fenix TX were a big part of the Drive Thru Records roster that first got me into punk rock music all those years ago. When they were announced for the line up I was so excited. I am very pleased to say that Fenix TX did not disappoint! Starting out with the opening track from Lechuza Phoebe Cates was a master stroke. This got those of us in the crowd who were old enough to have known Fenix TX way back when invested into the set properly and the sing-a-longs kept coming and coming. The set included favourites such as Threesome, Minimum Wage, Katie W and A Song For Everyone before closing on my personal favourite, All My Fault. For a band that so rarely play shows Fenix TX were so tight and their onstage banter, whilst maybe not being to everyone's taste, had me thoroughly entertained. It was so good to finally see Fenix TX after all these years and it was the best possible start to the day.

While Colin stuck around for the end of Fenix TX’s set, before heading over to the Signature Brew stage to see Sorority Noise, I split off to find the Uprawr acoustic stage. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to catch more of the acoustic artists really as they’d probably have all been right up my street – there was just too much great stuff going on elsewhere that I didn’t want to miss, mostly the Fireball (ska punk) stage. The one artist that I did see however is one of my favourite melancholic songwriters, The Lion And The Wolf. I’ve seen him a couple of time before so his jokes about bringing the mood down and wanting to start a sad mosh pit were not new to me but they were equal parts humbling and amusing nonetheless. The Lion And The Wolf’s songs are beautiful on recording and also pretty darn lovely to hear stripped back live with just an acoustic guitar and Tom’s excellent voice. I made the right choice in catching him play at Slam Dunk South and, hey, I still got to see the end of Sorority Noise’s set anyway.

We'd already seen The Ataris earlier this year so I figured I'd go and check out an up and coming pop punk band who have been making waves in the past few years, Sorority Noise. By the time that Fenix TX had finished and I'd made my way across the festival site to the Signature Brew stage Sorority Noise were just beginning their set and boy it was busy! I ingeniously got myself a good viewing point behind the sound tent (you could see straight through it without being squashed up next to folk) and then preceded to be wowed by the band from Connecticut. If I had to desbribe their sound to someone it would say take the best bits of Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms, toss them carefully (we don't want to make a mess) into the blender until you get some fantastic story telling pop punk. Playing a mix of songs from all three of their albums; Forgettable, Joy, Departed and new album You're Not As _______ You Think, you could see that the kids down the front were so pumped for this band. They are clearly destined to play bigger stages and much higher up the bill at many Slam Dunk Festivals to come. The major highlight for me was the song Mediocre At Best where the band's singer mixed The Menzingers song Good Things into the original track. I love The Menzingers so this was cool.

Emma came to meet me during the finish of Sorority Noise and after finding Dan at the main stage watching Crossfaith (who covered The Omen by The Progidy which was pretty cool) we headed back to the Fireball Stage to see Zebrahead. There is a joke that goes around that Zebrahead are the Slam Dunk house band as they've played four times in a row now. It's easy to see why they are always invited back - they always bring the party! A huge crowd came to see Zebrahead and as soon as they began their opening track, Save Your Breath, the pit opened up and it got crazy. Zebrahead are experts at getting a crowd moving and never ever disappoint. Always ones for encouraging a little bit of crowd surfing, particularly during the song Mike Dexter Is A God where they tried to get as many crowd surfers as possible. They did this a few years ago at a Slam Dunk and I ended up getting kicked in the head. I've learnt my lesson had stayed well clear this year. The set was of course finished with Anthem and the band were joined on stage by the Reel Big Fish horn section, not the last time we'd be seeing them today. I've seen Zebrahead many times over the years now and I've gotten to the point of "cool Zebrahead" rather than being over excited to see them but when I they come on I'm immediately into it and have the best of times.

When preparing for Slam Dunk 2017, Colin made a playlist of his (our) must-see bands. There was one band that kept cropping up on shuffle and I would always say ‘Ooh, I like this. Who’s this?’ – that band was Mad Caddies. You’d have thought after a few times I’d have learnt which songs were Mad Caddies but actually they have a very wide ranging musical repertoire. Loosely falling under the overarching genre of ‘ska punk’, Mad Caddies’ music ranges from punk rock, reggae, polka and even a bit of Latin music thrown into the mix. For this reason alone, I was very much looking forward to seeing what their live show was like. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed! Up until that point of the day, I’d been bopping along to the bands but didn’t really have a proper dance – or skank – until watching the Mad Caddies. They even [unintentionally] got a bunch of people near us doing the macarena. Whatever the genre, the Californian six piece definitely play music to get you moving. I can imagine it going down well on a gloriously sunny day but it worked perfectly fine in the British drizzle anyway. I’m looking forward to seeing them again, alongside Reel Big Fish, in October and dancing my socks off once more.

Back in 2015 Goldfinger's Slam Dunk set was incredibly delayed due to a big technical issue. For me this put a little bit of a downer on the day as it was an hour wasted where I could have seen some other bands (notably, Finch) rather than standing around waiting for so long. When they were announced for this year's festival I was happy to be able to see them again, hopefully this time without all of the technical difficulties. Well there was a slight delay but once Goldfinger took to the stage and opened up with Spokesman you just knew this was going to be a special set. There were some new, but familiar faces playing with Goldfinger now - Phillip Sneed of Story Of The Year was on lead guitar, Cyrus Bolooki on drums and Mike Hererra of MXPX of bass. That's basically a super group. Frontman John Feldmann has some talented pals. Goldfinger's set made me realise how much I loved Goldfinger back in the day and just how many amazing songs they have in their locker. Highlights included a cover of Operation Ivy's Knowledge along with Goldfinger classics such as Counting The Days, Mable, 99 Red Balloons and Superman, when the Reel Big Fish horns again made an appearance. Goldfinger also played a couple of new songs - Put The Knife Away and Tijuana Sunrise, both of which have got me looking forward to a new album. We also found it particularly amusing that John repeatedly referred to where we were as London - Hatfield is not in London.

Reel Big Fish are the first big ska punk that I ever saw live, about ten years ago at a one-day festival in Wales. I wasn’t overly into them at the time but, as you can probably imagine, I enjoyed their live performance all the same. I then saw them again five years later whilst at university in Falmouth, Cornwall. Cornwall doesn’t get all that many touring bands so I jumped at the chance to see Reel Big Fish again and it was great. Another five years on and I’m more into ska punk (and punk rock in general) than ever and so Slam Dunk was the perfect time to see the band again, if perhaps a little overdue. Like many ska bands, but perhaps more so than their counterparts, Reel Big Fish are a band that are at their best when performing live – they are just such great showmen and that goes for more than just frontman Aaron Barrett. Particular highlights of their set included I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend, Where Have You Been and, of course, Sell Out. Ever the comedy act, there was also an entertaining part of the set where the band played bits of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lit’s My Own Worst Enemy and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ The Impression That I Get before crediting the song to incorrect bands – with the latter two songs credited to Bowling For Soup and Less Than Jake, the bands that would be playing after them on the Fireball stage. It’s great that all these 90s/00s pop punk and ska bands are still great friends, I’m not sure the same could be said of other genres. I had a brilliant time skanking away to Reel Big Fish and I certainly won’t be leaving it another 5 years until I see them again… more like 5 months.

One way to get a crowd that is surely tiring after a long and exhausting day is by kicking off your set with one of your most well known and loved songs. That's exactly what penultimate band, ska punk legends and my all time favourite band, Less Than Jake did when they kicked off their set with All My Best Friends Are Metalheads. This certainly got me and many of the people around me skanking and instantly forgetting all about their aching limbs. Despite releasing an excellent new EP this year, named Sound The Alarm, the set featured mostly old school Less Than Jake songs. I always think this is the best thing for bands to do at a festival show. People want to hear the classics and Less Than Jake have many of those. They did however play Bomb Drop from the new EP and it was a very welcome addition to the set. This was my thirteenth time seeing Less Than Jake live - the more superstitious might think it will be unlucky thirteen and LTJ might finally produce a bad performance. Obviously they didn't. The songs sounded fantastic, the sound across Slam Dunk all day was fantastic, and all of the between song shenanigans were as entertaining as ever. There was a moment when guitarist Chris Demakes wanted to pull up a member of the crowd who was dressed like he should be appearing in a My Chemical Romance video. There was a bit of a snag however when one of the security wouldn't let him up so Chris had to have an argument with security to get him on stage so he could dance on stage to Overrated. Finishing the show with The Science Of Selling Yourself Short (where Reel Big Fish horn section made another appearance on stage - I hope they were paid well), Gainesville Rock City and The Ghost Of You Me Less Than Jake was as amazing as ever.

Looking at the whole line-up for Slam Dunk 2017, alternative music fans in general were probably both excited and gutted about the choice of headlining acts in equal measures – excited because there were six of them to choose from and gutted because, well, you can’t see them all at once. For us, however, there was no choice in the matter. We wouldn’t be watching Enter Shikari on the main stage and we wouldn’t be watching Bowling For Soup on the Fireball stage, where we had spent the majority of our afternoon. For Colin and I our headline act of choice was always going to be Against Me!. As one of my all-time favourite bands, it was Against Me! that actually officially had me ‘sold’ on going to my first Slam Dunk in the first place – although the combination of Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish had me pretty keen too. There was plenty of time in between the end of Less Than Jake’s set and the start of Against Me!’s that meant we were able to snag a decent view spot in plenty of time. On the one hand, it feels like Slam Dunk could have fit more bands into the whole day with shorter change over periods but on the other it was pretty good to have time to get food or just generally walk between stages without actually missing any of the bands you wanted to see. The Signature Brew stage was actually pretty small as the stages at Slam Dunk go so it was pretty interesting seeing Against Me! there. Personally, I think they could have played a much bigger stage but then I’m surprised they were added to the bill at all, let alone as headliners, given the festival is predominately ‘new’ pop punk bands (hence why I haven’t been before). Anyway, enough rambling because rambling is something that frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! did not do. They were slick and intense as they powered through their set, without much time for words in between. The setlist was one that could happily appeal to all Against Me! fans – old and new – featuring the likes of True Trans Soul Rebel, Teenage Anarchist, Pints of Guinness (as well as two others from Axl Rose!), New Wave, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Sink Florida Sink and plenty from the latest album, Shape Shift With Me, as well. I adore Against Me! and I enjoy them the most when watching them live and, despite a festival appearance being a slightly different ballgame, I loved watching them headline Slam Dunk, albeit one of the smaller stages. The band packed a mighty 17 tracks into their hour long slot and it went by in a whir – because it was all so good. Towards the end of their set, the band paused for a moment while Laura could express her love for the DIY punk scene. Slam Dunk is, of course, a fairly sizeable music festival but its roots are in DIY and I completely get what Laura was saying. The poignant statement of ‘DIY doesn’t mean doing it alone’ is something that stuck with me after Against Me! had finished playing. Long live DIY punk rock!

Before getting to a conclusion of what a fantastic day we had there is a couple of negatives I wanted to talk about. Firstly the sheer amount of rubbish that was everywhere, even after the site was only open a couple of hours. I realise there wasn't always bins immediately available where you might have been but it really doesn't take much to hold on to your rubbish and put in a bin when you see one. If it's full, which admittedly many were, just put it next to the bin as that's better than just leaving wherever. It's supposed to be a nice day out, nobody enjoys wading through piles of rubbish to get around a festival site. The other thing was the throwing of bottles into the pit. This is just stupid and I don't see the fun in it at all.

But the good stuff. Oh there was so much good stuff! The event was organised brilliantly, with the festival organisers giving out plenty of information prior to the festival and during. There wasn't a single bad band that I saw and no watching filler sets whilst waiting for a band that I actually wanted to see. There wasn't a single time when I had a bad view of the stage and, like I mentioned earlier, the sound was fantastic. Especially for an outside event. The line-up for the entire festival was first class, probably the best Slam Dunk has ever had and, in my own humble opinion, is easily stronger than the three more mainstream alternative festivals Reading/Leeds, Download and Glastonbury. The crowd was also one of the nicest Slam Dunk crowds that I've been part of, everyone was really friendly and looked after each other in the pits. I had a great time dancing in a smaller pit that opened up at the back of the crowd during Reel Big Fish's set. Five Slam Dunks down, this was probably the best yet. Bring on next year!

This review was written by Colin and Emma.