Back in 2015, Bolton pop punk band Don Blake released one of my favourite albums of the year. Named Pocket Universe, one of the album's main themes was the subject of mental health and how it affects your life. On June 19th, the four piece released a new five song EP named Blake District on Round Dog Records and I took a listen.
First up is the song A Broken Baritone. If you've listened to Don Blake before (and I hope that you have!) you know that they play Ramonescore pop punk music but they are so much more than just a straight forward pop punk band. Pace wise it's not so fast and in your face and there is so much melody. A Broken Baritone continues Don Blake's theme of mental health, with the song being about looking at yourself and realising things aren't okay. On the second track Lurking we are treated to a more of a traditional pop punk sound. Don Blake up the tempo on this song, a song that isn't quite 100 seconds long. It's bursting with hooks and incredible harmonies, however. When Don Blake do decide to pick up the pace they prove they do it just as well as all of their contemporaries. The Road Home begins with an excellent drum and guitar combo before lead singer Joe gently eases us into the track. Returning to the mid-tempo melodic sound, The Road Home talks about having the strength to carry on, trying to better yourself and not giving up getting to where you want to be. I loved the understated feel that the music has on the track. It allows Joe's vocals a chance to really shine whilst still adding a fantastic punch to the song. The penultimate track is On The Line. Another track with a great intro, drummer Nige does a fantastic job in providing a really danceable beat. I also loved the use of two vocalists on the track, this gave On The Line such a bigger feeling. I'm such a sucker for a song when there is more than one person singing, it gives such a great feeling of inclusion. Last up is No Stops. No Stops is another song about trying to get somewhere and having the incredible determination to get there. This track really shows off what fantastic musicians the members of Don Blake are with an extended musical interlude during the song which includes one of the best guitar solos I've heard in a long time.
Don Blake are one of the most underrated pop punk bands around. It makes me sad that when people talk about pop punk these days, it's bands such as Neck Deep or WSTR or The Wonder Years that they mention, whilst there are incredible bands such as Don Blake, who are releasing incredible music with lyrics that will really get you thinking and can even help you, get completely overlooked. Like everything else the Bolton boys have released, The Blake District is fantastic and deserves your attention.
Stream and download Blake District here: https://donblake.bandcamp.com/album/blake-district
Like Don Blake here: https://www.facebook.com/donblakeband/
This review was written by Colin Clark.