Friday, 19 October 2018

Column: United States Of Ska (Part One)

UK ska punk is currently thriving. I honestly can't remember a time where the scene has had more bands putting out such fantastic releases and wowing crowds all over the country with their incredible live shows than now. There are even small DIY festivals popping up here, there and everywhere to showcase these incredible bands – the best being Level Up Festival in South East London. Lately I've been thinking about American ska punk bands and how I know nothing about the underground scene there. Sure I know all about the big boys like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Big D & The Kids Table, Mustard Plug and the Mad Caddies but what about the bands playing the small basement and bar shows? I decided to take to the Internet and see what underground gems I could find. It turns out that the underground ska scene in the USA is packed with incredible bands, so many that this post has been split into two parts. Here's part one of my look into the American underground ska scene. Part two coming soon!

The B Sharps
Not to be confused with Homer Simpson's acapella band or the promoters from South East London, The B Sharps are a seven piece from Riverside, California. On their latest album, Plan B's Get Degrees, the band brilliantly combine poppy ska and smooth reggae to create these fantastically fun joyful sing-along songs.

Be Like Max
By the time that this column is posted Las Vegas' Be Like Max will have just completed a European tour including a couple of UK shows which I'm gutted to have missed. The six piece are one of the most varied bands in the scene mixing 90s third wave with a more modern take on the genre. It's all good times throughout with plenty of big choruses and lots of skanking to be done to Be Like Max.

The Big Skandal
The Big Skandal are a ska/rocksteady band from Miami, Florida. Taking influence from traditional bands such as The Skatalites and Prince Buster as well as more contemporary acts such as Madness and Operation Ivy, The Big Skandal are one of the most impressive rocksteady bands I've heard in some time.

Chilled Monkey Brains
Combining punk, ska and metal, Tallahassee's Chilled Monkey Brains are a band you'll love if you're a fan of the UK's own ska metalheads Beat The Red Light. Famed for their electric live performances, Chilled Monkey Brain have toured all over the USA with bands such as Less Than Jake, Strung Out, Authority Zero, Mustard Plug and The Slackers to name just a few.

The Dirty Notion
Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, The Dirty Notion are a four piece rocksteady band. The band came together to play something different from their previous bands and something rooted to the music they love. Definitely a band for fans of The Slackers and The Aggrolites.

The Fad
The Fad are a long running New York band originally active between 2000 and 2008 before reforming in 2012. I was completely unaware they were back together until I noticed their name on this year's Fest line-up and my feeling of guttedness about not attending this year doubled. 2008's Kill Punk Rock Stars album is absolutely superb.

Grey Matter
Michigan's Grey Matter are one of the most unique ska bands I've ever heard. Classifying themselves as "emotional skacore", the fivesome fuse ska punk and emo together to create something quite awe-inspiring. These are two genres that I would never expect to work together but Grey Matter have pulled it off with some aplomb.

The Hempsteadys
We reviewed The Hempsteadys' superb 2018 album Séance! Séance! last month and enjoyed it so much I had to include them in this column. The Connecticut based eleven piece take traditional ska and reggae music and drag it into the 21st century with dirty vocals and perhaps the best brass/horn section on the list. The Hempsteadys are a band I'm desperate to see live.

I first became aware of Joystick! after checking out some of the bands on the Fest 17 line-up that I hadn't heard of before. I had a listen to their 2017 album Sinceriously and was blown away by the high-tempo ska punk songs the band play. The eight piece from New Orleans have taken the classic third wave sound and added some of their own hometown jazz influences to create something just wonderful.

Runaway Ricochet
On their recently released album, Gas Station Culture, Runaway Ricochet play an infectious poppy form of ska punk that you can't help but smile and sway along to. The six piece from St. Paul, Minnesota, are a fairly new band on the scene but are seriously impressive. They are a great gateway and into the world of ska punk for people newer to the genre.

Scheming Thieves
A former CPRW Band of the Week, Utah's Scheming Thieves are one of my favourite discoveries of 2018. Their debut release A Classic Ruse is eight songs of fun fast paced ska punk from a band showing a huge amount of promise. With big horns and fun choruses, there's a lot to love about those Scheming Thieves.

Stupid Flanders
When a band is described as "the best parts of Less Than Jake, Rancid, Mustard Plug and Goldfinger" you know you're listening to something pretty darn good. With big horns, catchy lyrics and gritty vocals, played at a pace that will get you dancing like a loon, it's hard not to fall in love with Stupid Flanders from California.

Tef London
Orlando's Tef London combine punk, ska, swing and dixieland music to create an terrific high tempo sound. Fronted by Jenny Morrison and featuring some of the best brass musicians in the Orlando area, Tef London formed due to the fact there were no ska bands in the community and became one of the most impressive bands in the state.

Victims Of Circumstance
Clearwater, Florida's Victims Of Circumstance are one of my favourites I've discovered putting together this list of American ska punk bands. Combining pop hooks with a punk attitude and energetic ska, Victim Of Circumstance have toured the world playing their superb music to people all over. It seems they even found their way to England to play Rebellion Festival in 2012. Gutted I missed out on seeing them back then.

Keep an eye out for part two of this column coming soon.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Top Tens: Rachel from Swan Prince's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

I’m Rach. I play guitar and sing in Swan Prince. I’ve tried to choose the bands that I know have influenced my band in some way, or me in general as a musician. I could list a million other bands though. I haven’t even mentioned my days as a ska punk kid… but that’s another story…

The Flatliners
One of the most inspiring bands out there for me. As soon as I got into them I started trying to sing like Chris Cresswell in my car. Weirdly, I found their b sides album Division of Spoils the most inspiring musically and to this day I still listen to it on repeat a lot. Chris is a great songwriter and an amazing singer. Josh actually paid for him to write me a custom song and he gave it me on my birthday one year. The song is called ‘Never Without You’ and it's about being in love. We met Chris at a show not long after he wrote that song, he seemed super stoked to talk to us about it!

The Bombpops
I first heard them through Facebook about 5 years ago. I downloaded their early EPs but it wasn’t till they released Can o Worms that something hit me. I wanted to do what they were doing. I wanted to play guitar and sing. For somebody who can’t do either that was a ridiculous thought. Getting into this band really pushed me and gave me the confidence that I needed to learn a new instrument. Every release by them has been amazing and their music videos are always so fun. They’ve pushed through a difficult 10 years with various line-up changes and they’ve just continued and lived their dreams. I also find that very inspiring and this band will always mean a lot to me.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop
I was so happy when I discovered this band! Another female fronted punk rock band – and all female! I felt like I had died and gone to heaven when I heard their stuff. They really pushed me creatively. Since their first album came out, I’ve had them on every single week. I love their harmonies. I’d never really thought about harmonies at all before until I heard them. They have so many in their songs and they made me realise there is a lot that you can do with your own songs.

I heard them on a compilation CD almost 20 years ago and since then I have been hooked. I am constantly sad about the fact that they split up and that I will never get to see them. I was quite young when I got into them and I’m pretty sure in that time they didn’t come to the U.K. Even if they did, I bet I wouldn’t have been able to go. Devon is an amazing songwriter, I really wish he would come back to punk rock. I know it would make a lot of people happy! Various bands I’ve played drums in have covered their songs. It’s always really fun mentioning them to punks I meet and hearing what people have to say about them. It seems they really did inspire this generation of skate punks!

The Swellers
I made a huge mistake and didn’t bother listening to this band for ages even though people kept telling me to. Josh got me into them early into our relationship, sadly around that time the band were splitting up. I was extremely lucky to catch 2 of their last ever shows, but was also sad I didn’t get into them sooner and see them more. Their music has inspired me so much. They’re another band I would sing to in my car and they really helped me to learn to sing. I listen to all of their releases every single week more than once, they’re an absolutely underrated band and now they’re gone, people want them back!

Another band I stupidly got into quite late and they’re actually one of my band's biggest influences. Josh and I quite often write lead guitar parts and say to each other ‘This sounds like Hi-Standard’. We were extremely lucky to see them play at the Fat Wreck 25 Year show in Japan a few years back. We are actually planning on going back in a couple of years to catch them live again. It’s mental seeing them and seeing how big the crowd is. Punk is huge over there!

The Ataris
I keep writing songs and then I can imagine Kris Roe singing them more than me. That’s happened a few times and the vocal melody has been so ‘Ataris-y’ I’ve had to change it. I feel like this band are always in my head when writing. Just shows how much I listen to them and how much they mean to me. I’ve loved them for most of my life and seeing them live is always an emotional experience for me!

The Starting Line
Back in 2002 all of my friends were getting into Drive Thru bands and I just wasn’t arsed about the rising pop punk scene. I was more of a ska punk or skate punk kid. However, for some reason this band stood out to me. I had to buy their CDs and I listened to them a lot. ‘Almost There Going Nowhere’ is one of my favourite songs ever. We’ve actually got a new song ready for our next EP and everything about it reminds me of this band. When people have reviewed my band's music, they’ve said my vocals are almost pop punk at times. Well, you can thank The Starting Line for that.

When Josh wrote the music for Disguise, we instantly compared the lead guitar part to Bodyjar. They are one of our main influences when writing the music for our band. I was so happy when I finally got to see this band live a few years back at Groezrock. They were on my list of bands that I would probably never get to see.

No Use For A Name
A friend once told me my band was like ‘a female fronted No Use For A Name’. That was super cool. That’s because Tony’s vocal style and lyrics do inspire me. If I hit any kind of creativity wall, I can put this band on and they solve that. I know they inspire Josh a lot too when he’s writing guitar parts for our songs. They just hold that perfect Fat Wreck sound.

Check out Swan Prince on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Album Review: Clarion Call by The Human Project (by Brett Coomer)

2018 has been an amazing year for me. Attending MPF, seeing Propagandhi twice, being introduced to a ton of new bands, and getting married are just some of the highlights. Since becoming friends with Colin and Emma two years ago I am happy to say that the amount and variety of music that Robyn and I get exposed to has increased exponentially. Not being familiar with The Human Project before this year, Robyn ordered me to listen to them after hearing the other members of CPRW hyping up the new album.

The Leeds band are known for playing fast melodic punk with politically-charged lyrics so I was quite surprised I hadn’t heard of them before, but not at all surprised at how much I loved what I heard. It was love at first listen and I immediately added their debut album Origins to my library. Fast forward a couple months and the wait was over, Clarion Call was released into the world.

Defined as a strongly expressed demand or request for action (thanks Google), Clarion Call is the perfect title for this album which feels like the band letting out their frustrations at the world’s current socio-political environment. There are so many moments that make you want to get up, raise your fist in the air and yell along to the lyrics. The band have been able to aptly articulate what a lot of people around the world, and especially in Britain, must be feeling using eleven songs over thirty-one minutes.

The album kicks things off with some quiet piano and clean guitar, describing a bleak world not too far from the one we live in right now, questioning the role we’ve all played in getting there. Desperate Times builds anticipation and provides a taste of what’s to come with a furious final minute before pick sliding into the next song. Desperate Measures feels like it’s directed at the apathetic and complacent people who sit back and watch injustices happen while critiquing anyone who stands up against it. That One Percent and The Rhetoric take aim at the rich politicians and businessmen who control so much of how the world operates, but only care about the bottom line regardless of the cost. After four political tracks, Knocked for Six is a more personal song about getting back up after being knocked down by an ending relationship. It provides a break from the political theme and features some great hooks and an impressive breakdown.

With its atmospheric interlude, Carrion provides a short opportunity to breathe before cranking up the energy level again with What We Always Do, which drives home the message that we shouldn’t sit back or give up, but continue to push for the change we want to see in the world in spite of all opposition. The next two tracks, Blame and Pride Before a Fall, offer more personal touches to the album with the latter song dealing with empathy towards other human beings. Everyone lives in the same world but we all experience it differently and you can’t know what somebody is feeling regardless of their outward appearance or social status.

A Debt to Society features some excellent guitar work with great melodies and a catchy chorus, describing the current state of the world where the decisions made by the controlling minority to further their goals are sold to society as selflessness and as being the best for everyone. Clarion Call brings the album to a close with an epic four + minute challenge to everyone listening to come together and fight for a world that benefits us all rather than a select few. The song asks the question “Are we still dangerous?” and if inspiration is taken from the album as a whole, the answer is a resounding yes.

The production on this album is top notch, highlighting the technical aptitude of all the band members and letting every aspect of the band shine through equally. The vocal harmonies, dual guitars, driving bass, and hard-hitting drums are all on point. Clarion Call is a bit more polished compared to Origins, but not to the detriment of the overall sound and it definitely fits in with the best of the genre. This album should serve as a blueprint for melodic skate-punk albums to come.

2016 brought us The Revenge of The Fifth and Remember Death, 2017 gave us Victory Lap and Bonsai Mammoth and with so many great releases this year already, I can safely say Clarion Call will make a few top ten lists including mine. If you’re a fan of Mute, This Is a Standoff, Belvedere and melodic punk rock in general this is a must have album. And if you have the chance to catch them live – do it!

Buy Clarion Call here:

Like The Human Project here:

This review was written by Brett Coomer.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

News: We Went Away And Loads Of Things Were Announced

So we've been having a lovely time in Japan and missed out on spreading some of the wonderful punk rock news that was announced whilst we were away, so here's a brief update in case you missed some things too.

First of all, this Saturday at the New Cross Inn the fourth instalment of Might As Well Fest is happening. The festival is put together by Disconnect Disconnect Records and Speaking Tongues and raises money for The Rainbow Trust. The Bar Stool Preachers are headlining the festival this year and are backed by a superb line-up of bands, featuring The Capitalist Kids, Thousand Oak, Aerial Salad, The Capital, Eat Dirt, Modern Shakes, Laserchrist and Tom Aylott. Get tickets here.

Next up is the news from Manchester Punk Festival. MPF is returning for its fifth year next year, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st of April, and is looking bigger and better than ever. Super early bird and early bird tickets sold out incredibly fast. I might be right in saying that both sets went before any bands were announced which is crazy! There are still some standard priced tickets available for £60. I can't imagine that these are going to be available for long though so don't sleep on getting your ticket. MPF also announced their first wave of bands for 2019. So far they've announced Dead To Me, Doom, King Prawn, Faintest Idea, The Arteries, Consumed, Press Club, Not On Tour, Arms Aloft, The Infested, The Winter Passing, Janus Stark, Call Me Malcolm, The Human Project, Grand Collapse, Joe McMahon & The Dockineers, Youth Avoiders, Woahnows, Svalbard, March, Sam Russo, Kermes, Eat Dirt, Follow Your Dreams, Jodie Faster, Well Wisher, Jenkem, Slumb Party, Joe Tilston & The Embers Band, Screech Bats, Incisions, Wolfrik, Grafteoke, Jake Martin, Tim Loud Full Band, Poisonous C*nt, Mean Caesar and Sallows. With 130 bands promised for the festival I'm looking forward to seeing what other surprises the MPF collective have in store for us. You can buy tickets and keep up to date with Manchester Punk Festival here.

Speaking of exciting things happening in Manchester. Our buddy Sarah, creator of the excellent Shout Louder webzine, is throwing an all dayer in February to celebrate her 30th birthday. Taking place at Gullivers, it has a stacked line-up featuring Faintest Idea, Fair Do's, Nosebleed, PMX, Aerial Salad, The Human Project, The Burnt Tapes, Goodbye Blue Monday and Follow Your Dreams. A crazy line-up – buy your tickets here. Shout Louder has recently started an excellent series looking at mental health titled #Mentally Sound that is essential reading, do so here.

Finally, in some news that actually made me do a little jump of excitement in our hotel room in Japan,  Rehasher are doing a UK and Europe tour for the first time in November including a stop at the New Cross Inn in South London for Be Sharp Promotions. For those who don't know, Rehasher are the skate punk side project of Roger Lima, bassist and co-vocalist of ska punk legends Less Than Jake – and they are amazing. I was lucky enough to catch them live a few years ago in Florida and was flabbergasted by how good they were. I can't wait to see them again. And if that isn't exciting enough, UK pop punk heroes Eat Defeat will be on tour with them. Brilliant. Like Rehasher here to keep up to date with the tour.

Album Review: Textures by My Own Co-Pilot

My Own Co-Pilot are an emo punk and hardcore act from Gothenburg in Sweden. It is the project of Michal Kosinski with the assistance of Derrek Siemienuik. Back in July, My Own Co-Pilot released their debut four track EP Textures. With the music written by Kosinski and the lyrics and vocal melodies handled by Siemienuik, Textures was recorded in Sweden and the USA.

Textures opens with a song named Exit You. Starting out with a gentle but distinctive drum beat and some jangly guitar, the track begins how you would expect an emo song to begin. It slowly builds before launching into some crunching moments with some superb hoarse, screamy vocals but switching back to the emotional sound that started the song. This pattern continues throughout the song with the contrasting styles really bringing the song to life. Exit You has such a big sound that really pulls you in and takes you along for the ride. When The Missing Returns hooks you in from the start with a fantastic guitar part that really makes you think that this song is going part. There is a lot of energy in the start of the song that I really appreciated. The use of harmonies in this opening section work really well. I'm not sure whether or not there are multiple vocalists or if it is one person's vocals layered to create the harmony but, either way, it sounds great. I'm coming to realise that My Own Co-Pilot are brilliant at building towards those big and explosive intense sections of the song, when you get there it just feels like a great primal release.

The third song is named This Crying and there's a heavier tone to this track. It doesn't quite have the same energy as the previous song but it certainly creates a great atmospheric feeling and it will no doubt get you head banging. As the track progresses, it gradually shifts into a more alternative rock sound that makes it more accessible to the more casual rock music listener. It definitely feels like the right track for first time listeners, who might not necessarily enjoy emo/punk music, to hear first when they check out My Own Co-Pilot. Finally we have the song Remembering. After a brief moment of radio static, some wonderful drums open the song before leading into some interesting stop/start vocals. Soon enough these vocals go towards a more melodic route before yet another amazing building section. The contrast between the sweet and gentle, higher pitched vocals and the screams add a great deal of theatre to Remembering that doesn't go unnoticed. It doesn't feel like screaming for the sake of screaming though, it all feels very well thought out and does actually add to the song. When I first saw the length of the song – it's over five minutes long – I was slightly worried that it might feel like a bit of a slog to get through but it actually flew by. That's a great testament to the songwriting skills that My Own Co-Pilot are blessed with.

Emo isn't really ever my go to genre but I'm really glad I checked out Textures. It's a fantastic debut EP for a couple of super talented gentleman. Strong songwriting, great performances and moving songs. Exactly what you what from your emo tunes.

Stream and download Textures here:

Like My Own Co-Pilot here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Gig Review: The Penske File at New Cross Inn 25/9/18

You'd think that after going to my seventh gig of the month, and the fifth and New Cross Inn, some of the novelty and excitement of the activity might wear off. Nope! Partly because I just love going to gigs and going to the New Cross Inn but mostly because Be Sharp Promotions had put on an absolutely stonking line up. Canadian punk rockers The Penske File were in London for the first time and were being supported by up-and-comers Fintan Stack and Love Songs, as well as the UK's best punk band The Burnt Tapes. This was going to be some night.

Within the opening few seconds Peckham's Love Songs had the crowd that had gathered early mesmerised by their melodic punk rock tracks. This is my third time seeing the band now and each time I'm more amazed by their intricate guitar work and intense vocals. I wouldn't imagine anyone who's seen the four piece before has come away from the set thinking anything other than "wowee, that was something special." Love Songs are a very talented bunch who have crafted their own unique sound that's certain to see them quickly grow an impressive following.

I've fallen hard for Fintan Stack this year. Since getting sent their two singles, Nap All Day, Sleep All Night, Party Never and I'm Done, they've been on constant repeat. In July I got to see them play their first ever show with Red City Radio at the New Cross and was super impressed. Now they were back at the New Cross for their second ever show supporting The Penske File. These five chaps are getting booked with some great bands! At this gig they showed just what a promising new band they are. Of course the two songs I knew were highlights but I also really enjoyed their unreleased tracks. If you enjoy high energy pop punk music with delicious harmonies, Fintan Stack are definitely a band for you.

I've been telling long time readers of CPRW for four years now how much I love The Burnt Tapes. It's still very true. They played another superb set that again cemented my belief that these guys are the best punk band in the UK. As soon as they began their set the New Cross Inn crowd began to sing along in unison to their "regret punk" bangers. Go Drunk, You're Home is a particular favourite of mine. It's always fun to shout back "Is this growing up?!" at the right time. Much like with their set with Pkew Pkew Pkew earlier in the year, half of the set was new songs from their upcoming – at some point in the hopefully not too distant future – debut album. Judging from the songs I've been lucky enough to hear already, that is going to be a huge album and I can wait for it. Of course, they finished on the now classic Burnt Tapes song Things Get Weird (despite my earlier request for their cover of I Live In Hell by Dear Landlord) which drew another big sing-along to finish the set.

I've been waiting the best part of three years for an opportunity to see The Penske File. Since discovering their awesome Burn Into The Earth album I've been completely hooked on the band. 2018's new album, Salvation, had me wanting to see them even more. They write some seriously great music that I could only imagine is even better when you get the opportunity to shout the lyrics back at them. From the opening of Home to the ending of Come What May, I sang as loudly as I could to just about every lyric of every song and I was pleased to see that I wasn't the only one. Mostly playing tracks from Salvation, as well as a couple from Burn Into The Earth including the ultimate ear-worm Damned ("I WROTE A BOOK"), it was one fantastic song after another. I often worry that playing as a three piece who all provide vocals can be limiting for a band's live show but this certainly wasn't the case as Travis (guitar) and James (bass) bound about the stage between singing. The band clearly really enjoying themselves on stage and this enthusiasm pours into the crowd who are love every single second. The Penske File are a really great band and I really hope I don't have to wait another three years to see them again.

This concluded a month of seven gigs for Emma and myself. The five nights we spent at the New Cross Inn were all fantastically fun filled with great bands and wonderful people. I think we finished the seven with what was probably the best of the lot. Punk rock is such a lovely time.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

CPRW Playlist: September 2018

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Jack, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to this September.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Gig Review: Goodbye Blue Monday at New Cross Inn 23/9/18

Paul at Be Sharp Promotions keeps booking all my favourite bands. This means on Sunday 23rd of September we found ourselves back at the New Cross Inn for an intimate night of punk rock fun. Glasgow's finest misery punks Goodbye Blue Monday were in South London, popping by on their way back from a short tour of Belgium. With support from London favourites Triple Sundae as well as two new acts for us The Half Strikes and Batwings, it promised to be a great night.

Opening up the night were The Half Strikes. This was my first time seeing or even hearing The Half Strikes but I did notice that My Third Leg's guitarist Will was playing bass for the band so it was obvious they had pedigree. Playing fast pop punk, which also contained some metal riffage, they were a fun band to watch. Never taking themselves too seriously but showing off some considerably skill, this was a really impressive set. I enjoyed that Will, along with guitarists Aaron and Matt, all provided vocals for the songs including some great harmonies. The highlight of the set for me was their cover of Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American. A band to check out again for sure.

Up next was one of the more interesting sets of the year. Batwings had formerly been a band but is currently just one man named James (though he was joined by a female vocalist to provide some sweet harmonies). Watching someone play his guitar along to a backing drum track took a little getting used to but James had enough charisma to pull it off, playing a passionate and intense style of punk rock that quickly won the New Cross Inn crowd over. He briefly switched styles to play a fun kind of cockney cabaret track about loving to drink wine which put smiles on plenty of faces. This was an interesting and great set. I'm now hoping to see a full band Batwings set in the future.

The main support for the evening came from London's Triple Sundae. In the summer, lead singer and guitarist Hassan injured his arm so this would be his first show back on guitar and the band were promising some new songs. This had me excited for sure. They've only just released a new EP earlier this year so to already have a bunch of new songs ready for recording, to me, shows some real intent from the band. The new songs were so, so good as well! They felt a bit crunchier than some of the band's earlier tracks and Hassan's vocals seemed to have a bit more bite. I wonder if these tracks were written in frustration when Hassan couldn't play guitar. Triple Sundae get better every single time I see them, Hassan is one of the best vocalists in the scene and is flanked brilliant by back-up vocalist and drummer Zandro. This band are going places, get on the hype train now!

Finally it was time for Goodbye Blue Monday and my gosh I was looking forward to this. I was lucky enough to catch them for the first time earlier this year at Manchester Punk Festival and knew what a great live band they were. Since then they've released the frankly epic Misery Punk Ruined My Life EP and I've also been spending a lot of time with their previous effort The Sickness, The Shame so I was more than ready for a big sing-along. To most of the crowd's surprise, Goodbye Blue Monday opened with what Paul Be Sharp has named "the best punk rock song of 2018" – Misery Punk Ruined My Life. What a great way start their set. For the next half an hour or so they ploughed through their entire discography, with oldest song Omega Point getting a run through as well as treating us to some brand new songs which have me excited for what's likely to be another incredible release. If you're yet to see Goodbye Blue Monday live then you're in for a treat when you do. They take their melodic pop punk tracks and really amp up the intensity when they are played live. Each song deserves a massive sing-along which I tried my very best to do. I just don't have the stamina to keep up with Graham's fast paced delivery though! Highlights of their set for me were Take Your Pills, The Sickness, The Shame and Love Is A Noose For Two. A song I perhaps sang a little too enthusiastically considering I was stood behind the woman that I love. At least I didn't jump on stage to sing it, I guess. Goodbye Blue Monday are one of the UK's finest new bands and I can't wait to see where they go next.

This was such an enjoyable night of punk rock fun. Sadly the attendance wasn't great but it was full of the loveliest people and everyone had a magnificent time – bands, fans, pals and punters alike. Go out of your way to catch all of these bands.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew

Top Tens: Ed Hall of All Silk Mastering House and Ville's Top Ten Records

Converge – Axe To Fall
Kurt Ballou, of course. Don't think I've ever met anyone without a K.B. appreciation but it'd probably be the same as meeting someone who doesn't like dogs...

This album steadily blew my lid off - it took a lot of digestion to appreciate how detailed and involved this record is. I used to stick it on computer speakers, car speakers, van speakers, ear buds – everything – and that depth, saturation, impact and solidity held-like-glue; every-single-time. What you think you're hearing is not what you're hearing, you get the main upfront parts, except it's sitting on a foundation on a foundation on a foundation – inception vibes.
 The guitars have this dimension, character, aura – pretty mind altering getting into the deep waters of this record (so many whaa, hmm, aah moments) – seamless changes of themes, hidden parts, space, distance, layering; the pallet of production and music technique is entirely varied and breaks the conventions of the genre. Not just to throw it all in there but to do it that well with real transcendent, emotional impact.

Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies
This album came to me at a time where I was way deep in punk/hardcore/metal and trying to upkeep 100+ days of touring a year, so was pining for an ear break. Some friends told me the stories of this crazy noodly genre that wasn't exactly a genre, that didn't really blow up, that maybe 2–3 bands were doing well. It was very niche and hip but the story went that a bunch of 'hardcore kids' got bored and started coming up with these noodly gritty melodic lines that didn't fit into pop punk at all, always with a screechy vocalist who couldn't really sing too well but had decent scratchy pipes. It really is it's own thing; it's not pop, indie or punk but it's sorta-kinda all those things at once without being them at all. The guitar playing was irresistible, just these juicy odd melodic noodles sounding like they were hanging by a thread all the while being catchy as anything. The production on even the best bands of this wave is pretty bad (although it wouldn't be the same if it wasn't) yet this particular album is very well done in its own right, not over-produced in any way, great decision making – appropriate to the core. I'm not sure if it was recorded to tape but I'd be pretty surprised if it wasn't, so nicely sizzled – either way, the engineer managed to fit all this drive, melody and awkward vocals into all the right ranges and it still sounds so juicy, airy, layered and separated. The character of the production is so specific to the genre, it's very cool that this tiny movement happened. For sure a masterclass on guitar phrasing and genre appropriate production but at the heart of it just a nice, exciting listen.

Big D & The Kids Table – Good Luck
It's 2005, you've got a usb operated mp3 player and enough room for 200 songs... Limewire is hot shit and you've only gotta wait an hour to get one album at a time. WYD – Get into ska-punk bands, of course. Actually, my buddy sent me some of their highlight songs on MSN messenger, which started it all off... I loved what McWane sang about especially on the title song of the album. It was straight to the point, heartfelt and accessible to a teenager finding their way in the world. The journey wouldn't have been the same without this one, very dear.

Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity

A handful of shrooms from a stranger at Hevy Fest 2012 led to seeing these guys live for the first time, having never done the Dillinger dive before. All I felt was pure awe, Billy Rymer being an absolute genie. It was pretty late into their run at that point. By today's standards it's a pretty bad sounding record (piccolo snare and boss sounding distortions) except for the fact it was recorded to tape, in the 90s. The drums are human, no disguising. I love the combination of raw, direct human playing and raw production. There was no hiding behind anything on this record. The purity is rare at that level and then so many bands have spent 3 decades trying to catch up.

Within The Ruins – Creature
I have no idea how a burned copy of this CD made it into the car but it did, around a time I'd devoted a portion of my life to working every hour under the sun at a call centre. The drive was an hour and a half there, same back, and I was leaving at 6am, getting home late. It's a lot of digestion time, a lot of time in traffic with nothing but the company of CDs (and Rayyan EATD, he slept a lot) and this one just kept making its way back in. I was working through a big library of metal/djent style tunes at the time but this one was the anchor of the lot. I guess the grooves are linear, catchy, don't require all your mental capacity, the movements are varied enough to keep your attention and the playing is silly, I guess that's what made it so digestible on long drives.

At The Drive In – Relationship of Command
The precursor to all aforementioned records, before I knew what hardcore was, before I knew why I liked juicy saturated guitars or fucked up vocalists. In fact, I guess I didn't love this record for many years after I heard the band. They did 'One Armed Scissor' on Jools Holland and it was just bat shit, Robbie Williams was there, too, acting the goat – mad scenes. It was a good place to start at 13/14 years old – anything that breaks open the head, challenges convention, has undeniable character. This band was for me before the journey really began. Omar was a very striking and inspirational character actually, clearly introverted and focused on his creative endeavours. You don't know it at the time, but people like him who dared to be himself, it's very powerful to take in that kind of example at a young age and he just hasn't stopped since – I consider him a master producer for sure.

The Mars Volta – Frances The Mute
When the first song kicks in after the ambience/intro-stuff it's absolute drive – jungle/drum n bass/samba beats, wah-pedal-dry-palm-muted-quick-choppy-lead-lines, the first 3 or 4 movements are aaace listens. I had never heard anything like it at the time so it beat a lot of its contemporary sub-genres to the punch. I used to stick it on while going to sleep and go through all the movements, broadening cerebral horizons and informing themes that I'd come to love years later in a lot of different forms. Although Bedlam In Goliath is the better album (Pridgen throwing down with no respect) this was one of those records of personal growth with some absolutely murderous parts.

City and Colour – Bring Me Your Love
The night drive go-to! A super nostalgic album right there, a sweet example of ambience and dimension. The songs are brilliant, the pipes on Mr. Green. Such nectar, friends! If this album was recorded in a different way, I have no idea how the songs would transcend. Bear in mind it was recorded in a church hall, on steel string acoustics from the 1910s, 30s and 40s with a major label budget. There's a lot of depth to it, history in the sound sources but the mood is so relaxing, a nice introspective listen. It's a part of the pallet to reach for when I can't deal with the sensory overload.

TTNG – Animals
Gotta admit, a friend showed me some of these guys on a Blue Peter looking live set and I didn't get it at all. I thought it was pretty awful at the time, haha. I couldn't pinpoint when this band resurfaced in my immediate reality but their burned disc worked its way into the van (like so many others) and became a daily listen in the hefty touring days, it was hard to appreciate anything finer about this record in van speakers, other than the guitar work. Like, it's been a constant mesmerisation of how they constructed the layers of these songs to make coherent start to end tracks with bass, drums, choruses, verses, the guitar work is... involved. It's hard to imagine how they make coherent songs exactly – which is a whole other level of TTNG's game, the fact they do make accessible songs with hooks, movement, melody, drive. Heck knows fren’. Another one the masses are still playing catch up with.

Blakfish – Champions & See You In Another City (how do you pick)
The logical conclusion of all the above records. The band that did it all – melodic mega noodles, horrible screaming and shouting vocals, big choruses that hit, no missin’, ugly stink face breakdowns, brilliant juicy production and the vocal work is grand. I can't find the weak link amongst them – they dialled it in! It really flows, a seamless effort. An inspiration to any DIY band coming up – they just went for it, did it, suffered the consequences of the lifestyle, survived on the strength of their songs and character. Did it with class and quality tunes.

That was difficult!! Can I have a short list :')?

The top 10 top 10 shortlist:

10. Propagandhi – Supporting Caste
9. Turnover – Peripheral Vision
8. Captain Everything – Buena Vista Club (Can't be a UK audio engineer without some saucy Pete Miles appreciation)
7. Beat The Red Light -–EP
6. The Ghost Of A Thousand – This Is Where The Fight Begins
5. Belvedere – Fast Forward Eats The Tape
4. Snowing – Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit
3. Folly – Insanity Later
2. Botch – We Are The Romans
1. Fellsilent – The Hidden Words


Ed has just opened up his own studio named All Silk Mastering House which specialises in Mastering, Mixing and Audio Engineering. If you've just recorded some music you should definitely check All Silk Mastering House out.

Ed also sings and plays guitar in Ville (formerly Edgarville).

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Album Review: Befriend Your Sins by Bourbon Brawlers (by Emma Prew)

Bourbon Brawlers are a 7-piece folk punk band from Denver, Colorado, who describe themselves as ‘whiskey swilling musicians out to have a good time’. Sounds fun, huh? In June this year they released new album titled Befriend Your Sins and, being a fan of all things folk punk, I was keen to have a listen.

Befriend Your Sins kicks off with a song called Revolution. The track opens with a generous helping of mandolin, before slowly the other instruments also come – and there’s quite a variety of instruments in Bourbon Brawlers’ ensemble, including harmonica, washboard, banjo and upright bass alongside guitar, drums and the aforementioned mandolin. I’m reminded of British anarcho-folk band Matilda’s Scoundrels, particularly with the theme of rebellion and revolution, on this opening track – ‘Are you ready for the revolution?’ . But something the Scoundrels don’t have is harmonica and its wailing on Revolution really stands out as the song progresses at a steady pace. Up next is Never which begins with some reasonably fast paced acoustic guitar strumming. This leads into a distinct call and response section between the lead vocalist and the rest of the band ‘Have you ever? Have you ever?’ Followed by some more bluesy harmonica, Never develops into a feel good song about drinking with your friends and having a good time. I can imagine it being played live in a rowdy bar where everyone is singing – or perhaps drunkenly shouting – along to the words.

Irish Yoga is the name of the third track of the album and its title alone has convinced me that I will like it – even though I’m not really sure what Irish yoga is! This is a short and fun little song with a great banjo melody that carries the song along at fairly fast pace. Bourbon Brawlers are definitely at their best when playing a bit faster. Much like the previous track, Irish Yoga is a feel-good tune – the epitome of having a good time. The bass line at the beginning of the next song, Light It Up, will get you grooving in no time. It’s not long before the other instruments join in for a fairly lengthy instrumental intro. Once again, the harmonica stand out here – this album has so much harmonica and I love it. That said, the washboard is more distinguisable on this song than previous ones – a greatly underused instrument if you ask me. Light It Up is a song with a distinct storytelling feel with the tale here being about a particular bad character. ‘You were never true, You never spoke the truth, You were never true, ’Til you got that bullet in your gun, Now every night you want to light it up.’ U.N.P.C. switches things up a bit with the vocals starting before any instruments this time. This is a rousing speedy little number that will try its damned hardest to get you singing along with ‘If you don’t like any of that then hey, Fuck you!’ After just over a minute you’d be forgiven for thinking the song had finished as it seems to fade out… But then there’s a yell of ‘Pick it up, pick it up!’ that signals that the song is back. It doesn’t actually turn ska though – now that would have been a surprise! – the hint at it was refreshing anyway.

The Legend Of Shorts McGraw kicks off with a plodding bass that gives a different sort of feel to previous tracks on Befriend Your Sins, perhaps more bluesy than folky. Of course, there are plenty of other instruments in the Bourbon Brawlers ensemble and these add plenty of melodic layers on top of the bass. This is the Legend of Short McGraw so it is only right that there is a big sense of storytelling to this song – something this band excels at. The song is about a friend of the band rather than someone from a long time ago – ‘It’s the legend of Short McGraw, He’s been kicked out of every bar.’ I think it’s meant in a lovable kind of way! As we draw towards the end of the album, we get to some of the longer tracks. The penultimate track, Weight Of The World, has quite a stripped back and gradual opening – for Bourbon Brawlers at least. Here a palm-muted acoustic guitar offers up the first melody. Shortly the pace picks up for a song about feeling like there’s too much pressure on you and struggling to deal with all that life throws at you. There is a lot of shouting of ‘I’ve got the weight of the world on me.’ that seems like both a release for the vocalist and an empowering statement for listeners who might feel the same way. Backseat brings Befriend Your Sins to a close in almost epic style. From the opening line of ‘Everybody’s got a demon in the backseat.’ this song takes listeners on a journey with plenty of ups and down. Backseat is about how it doesn’t matter what demons you might be hiding, everyone is the same – and the track has some rowdy gang-style vocals as if to reinforce this. This is the longest song on the album, at just over 5 minutes long, with a lengthy slowed down last two minutes that almost feels like a live jam session. The song speeds up and becomes frantic and erratic before slowing down again. Well they couldn’t have put that in the middle of the album, could they? I was tired just listening to it!

You can stream and download Befriend Your Sins on Bandcamp and like Bourbon Brawlers on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Album Review: I'm Very Sad by Throw

Throw are another of those brilliant Bandcamp discoveries. The three piece from Portland, Oregon, recently released a brand new album titled I'm Very Sad. When I was clicking through Bandcamp on the hunt for my new favourite band, I was drawn to Throw because of the Fugazi-ish artwork that has been produced for I'm Very Sad.

I'm Very Sad begins with the song Atlas; Bummed. This is a loud and fast punk rock jam that quickly gets you invested into the album. I really enjoyed how the majority of the song is sung by two vocalists. This gives it a sing along quality that pulls you into the song and the tempo in which the song is played leaves you breathless in the best possible way. The song talks about realising that things are getting hard but not doing anything to try and make things better. The next track is named Jake Never Owned A Bird. On this song there is a hint of Skiba about the vocals that really adds a lot to the Throw sound. The track is about someone you care about leaving for years and then expecting to just waltz back into your life like everything is fine. My first thought was that this song is about this happening in a relationship but could also be about a friend or a parent. The third track is named Crawlspace and is about trying to live someone else's life and eventually getting caught out. It tells the story of spying on your neighbours and getting so caught up in their better lives that you end up sneaking into their house. Kind of creepy stuff. I really enjoyed the narrative style of the song, it plays out like a music video.

Drinking Wine With My Dad is about exactly what you think it is about. There seems to be more urgency in the delivery of the vocals on the track. Musically it feels a bit harder than the previous songs with the drum skins taking a real pounding, adding a great amount of power to the track. The fifth song is named Wisconsin (May For Effort). It starts out slow (for Throw's standards, at least) with some guitar and vocals that lead you into the song before launching into a blisteringly fast pop punk track. This song is one of the big highlights on a phenomenal album. It's one of those super fast songs that I just want to shout along with but struggle oh so much because of the super fast tempo. The song is about horrible Wisconsin winters that are really difficult to get through - physically and mentally. It doesn't sound like an appealing place to live. After the four second long Trees, comes the seventh song Steamroller. Steamroller is another big highlight on I'm Very Sad. It is about breaking up with someone and all the dirty laundry that can sometimes get aired. The trade off in vocals are just wonderful. I'm not sure if the two vocalists are playing the role of the same person or they are arguing with each other through song. Either way it works brilliantly and adds extra energy into the track.

The high energy and big sing-alongs continues on song number eight, Pass The Prozac. The dual vocals are again on display beginning with the deeper, Skiba-like, more melodic style before gradually blending to the snottier and more intense vocals. Both styles complement each other extremely well and add so much to the overall Throw sound. The track is about the after affects of taking anti-depressants and how they can numb your feelings towards things. SeaShip is more of a laid back song (again, for Throw) about missing out on an opportunity to date the girl that you like. Stylistically the song feels more like an indie pop punk track than the more raucous nature of the rest of the album. It's again though a really really good song that I loved from start to finish. From the opening sing-along to the jangly guitars and the brilliantly catchy chorus, SeaShip is superb. After what is perhaps the best sing-along intro on I'm Very Sad, the tempo is upped once again on the ninth song Smoke 'Em. This melodic number hooks you in so well and is one of the more emotional songs on the album. It's about knowing that you don't have much time left on this earth and wanting to go out in your own way. It's well cheery. This is a song that I imagine is just brilliant live and must get such a great reaction.

Penultimate song Skin Hotel begins with an exhilarating drum explosion that gives the album a final boost as we race to its finale. I feel like the song is about being on such hard times that you have to sell your body. (I'm so sorry if that's completely wrong). It's a really sad song about being in such desperate times you have to go to desperate measures to try to survive. Despite this, musically it's quite upbeat and even chucks in a joyous "woo!" at the end of the track. I'm Very Sad finishes with the song Spaceship. Spaceship sees Throw slip into more of an 80s So Cal punk sound. Think of early NOFX, Pennywise and Bad Religion (who have a riff borrowed in the song). The song tells a story of a journey through space and the politics in the 80s. Listening to the track, there are so many little references to the decade so brilliantly written in. Throw have kindly supplied the lyrics on Bandcamp – go check them out and see which references you can spot. Spaceship is the final proper track on I'm Very Sad but the album is actually completed by a reprise of the song Trees. This version is a lengthy eleven seconds long and finishes the album of with a bit of a giggle.

I fell in love with I'm Very Sad on my very first listen. It's such a good album from start to finish, no song felt like filler and all could be my favourite on the album depending on my mood. Throw have this unique sound that they've brilliantly coined as "stress punk." I wish them all the success in the world with this album and hope it does well enough for them to find their way other to the UK soon as I imagine these songs are even better live.

Stream and download I'm Very Sad here:

Like Throw here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Gig Review: Call Me Malcolm at New Cross Inn 20/9/18

September is turning into a bit of a gig marathon for Emma and myself. Twenty days into the month and we found ourselves on our way to our fifth gig in September. We were on our way back to the New Cross Inn for a night of brilliant ska punk presented by Be Sharp Promotions and headlined by Call Me Malcolm along with Millie Manders and The Shut Up, Tree House Fire, Just Say Nay and Matt of Popes Of Chillitown. Of course, all of this fun was put on by Be Sharp Promotions. Due to the slightly early start time we unfortunately missed Matt Popes but judging from his performance at Level Up back in July I'm sure it was a lot of fun.

We did however make it in time for Just Say Nay. The (on this occasion) eight piece are fast becoming one of my favourite bands in the UK ska punk scene thanks to their high energy performances and infectious nature. Beginning their set with the songs Mud Pie and Mr Plank Goes To Town, Just Say Nay gradually begin to get the early crowd moving along to their set. Of course, as the set progresses, more and more people begin to have a dance. Whether it's a full on skank or just swaying from side to side, it's impossible to not enjoy and be completely captivated by JSN. Frontman Jak's voice is as always on fine form and he is a very watchable performer. I need to see JSN on a bigger stage to see him have the room to really cut loose. Along with favourites such as Jiggy Bean and Bouncer, the band performed a new song that's set to be recorded for the band's upcoming debut album. They were planning on playing two new songs but unfortunately due to time restraints, their set had to be cut short so they finished the set with the always great fun Low Blow. Always truly wonderful to see Just Say Nay live.

Up next were Tree House Fire. I was really looking forward to seeing Tree House Fire full band again after being blown away by their (almost) acoustic set at Level Up Festival. The Welsh five piece have recently released a brand new EP titled Fool's Gold and I was looking forward to hearing some songs off of it for the very first time. I've always felt that Tree House Fire are at their very best live and of course this was no exception. From the opening track Push, Tree House Fire had the crowd moving along to their reggae sound. Playing old classics such as Dutty Girl and Mr Aggressor alongside newer tracks such as Fools Gold seemed to really please the New Cross crowd. It's really nice that a band can come from so far away and it feel like they're playing a hometown show. That's definitely the feeling at a Tree House Fire New Cross Inn show. Finishing up with Rock To The Rhythm, Tree House Fire showcased why they are so highly thought of in the UK's ska and reggae scene. If you haven't checked out Fool's Gold yet then you should as it's a fantastic EP.

The penultimate band of the night were Millie Manders and The Shut Up who were celebrating the release of their brand new EP, Shut Up. At this point of the evening sadly the night was running quite behind so Millie and the boys had to rush through their set. This didn't stop an excellent performance. Millie is one of the most charismatic performers in the scene and sings as well as all these pop stars that the radio forces down our throats. She is an exceptionally talented individual and along with her band, is well on the way to becoming a big name in the UK music world. Unfortunately The Shut Up's usual drummer was out of action with a hip injury so Jack from Popes Of Chillitown was drafted in to play the show. Not that you would have known, as the band played a brilliant set. Starting out with a track named Brave from the new EP before going into an older number named Bacchus, which is a really fun drinking song, did a great job in getting the crowd warmed up. From then on they had more and more of the crowd dancing along to many of the songs from previous EP Obsession Transgression including Teddy, in which Millie joined us in the crowd and had a bit of a sit down whilst singing the track. Interestingly they finished the set with the other three songs from the new EP. I thought this was a brave move that really paid off. The final song, One That Got Away, really stood out and is a track I'm looking forward to seeing live again. MMATSU are becoming a force to be reckoned with. Great songs, great live, great band.

What an amazing year Call Me Malcolm are having. They've released the best ska punk album in years and have been playing shows all over the country including Rebellion Festival and a show stealing performance at Level Up Festival. So you have to assume a headline show at the New Cross Inn was going to be yet another special moment and of course it was. We made our way down to the front ready to sing and dance the rest of our night away. It seemed that the rest of the New Cross Inn crowd were intent on doing the same. As soon as Malcolm opened with The Gentleman And The Onion, the room was in full voice. Even with stand in horn players, Lloyd from Easydread and Eve from Lead Shot Hazard, the band were on top form as they blasted through track after track from the amazing I Was Broken When You Got Here. After a few songs they brought out a very special guest in the form Bruce the Bunny who joined the crowd for some dancing. For the faced paced skate punk track Jacob Bruce initiated a big circle pit with the crowd gleefully bashing into each other. Next up was the more laid back Restore Factory Settings. Restore Factory Settings is such a great track to sing along to with a room full of your best friends. Then the crowd completely lost it with the next track Does My Offbeat Look Big On This. A real highlight for old school Malcolm fans. There was a fantastic moment of crowd participation when frontman Lucias got everyone to do an American sports hands in moment – I've never seen that at a gig before. Of course they finished with the banger All My Nameless Friends. This song is not just an ode to the New Cross ska punk scene but a track about how there are always people there to help you when you need it. This track finishes with a huge finale with some fantastic sing-along "whoa-oh's" (my throat is still sore from belting them out as loud as I could) that bring the crowd together in unison. It's probably been said to death already but the line "all my nameless best friends will be there" sums up the New Cross scene perfectly and it's always a pleasure to see such high quality bands in my favourite venue with so many of my favourite people.

This review wa written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Album Review: Mean Caesar by Mean Caesar

The wait is almost over! South London five piece Mean Caesar are just about to release their debut self titled EP - on Little Rocket Records no less! Now you might by thinking "Wait. I've never even heard of Mean Caesar!" The band have been together for about two years now, perfecting their sound before they played their first live show at the beginning of the year. Since then they've been steadily making a name for themselves in the South London punk rock scene, particularly during support slots with The Copyrights, Red City Radio and Apologies, I Have None. I was at all of those shows and Mean Caesar absolutely slayed. So now the wait is almost over for an EP I've been excited to hear for months now. I hope it lives up to the hype.

The opening song on the six track EP is named The Lane. As with any good opening song it serves as a great introduction to what you can expect from Mean Caesar - melodic but raw punk rock music that is filled with plenty of hooks that will have you singing along with the band. Lead singer Danny Lester's vocal adds a great deal of urgency that will really make you care about the song. The bridge of the track in particular stands out and will certainly get a crowd singing "slow it down" with Danny and the rest of Mean Caesar. Up next is Gone. The track opens with a bit of a bang. We get a single drum strike and then the most delicious guitar riff to welcome us into the track before we are lead through a short song about grieving for a loved one and not knowing what to do. The guitars from Oliver Ward and David Littlefair on the third song, Drowning, really caught my attention. There are some really nice little technical riffs that appear throughout the song that accompany the powerful drumming of Stu Morrison superbly. It didn't take long before I found myself wanting to sing along with Danny and it's not too long before I actually can as the song is wonderfully catchy. The song is about falling deeper into a depressed state and needing to escape the situation that you're in.

June 12th is the title of the fourth song on the EP and it has a great extended introduction that builds nicely. The entire song actually builds slowly throughout its duration until we get to a raucous section that features some great gang vocals. In the press release for the EP, Danny says the goal was to make music that was "hooky as hell, with an urgency to it." That is something they have achieved in a great fashion on June 12th. The penultimate track is Blinded Eyes. Blinded Eyes is a real stand out track on the EP, it starts out super melodic and has some warm tones before Danny's raw and gruff vocals come in. I've noticed throughout the EP that Danny's delivery really makes you feel like you're down the pub with him and he's telling you a story. That's something I really enjoy in music. Much like June 12th, the song has this great build that adds to the urgency of the song. Despite the urgency though, Blinded Eyes manages to retain that infectious melody during its big finale. This is superb songwriting. Last up is the EP's lead single, South London Summer. I assume that this is a play on a lyric from their great friends Apologies, I Have None. The song is about finding your own group of friends who you feel at home with. It's plain to see why this song was picked as lead single - it's one of the best tracks any band has released this year. It's got an instantly recognisable guitar introduction and as soon as Danny begins to croon, you're hooked and ready to shout along with him. The lyrics "I’m thankful every day that this bunch of misfits happened to cross my way / We’d prop up the Monty bar where talking endless shit can get you far" really stood out. I loved the little nod to the Montague Arms, a pub in South London that hosted many a DIY punk show during the last few year before it was sadly closed down. Just a cracking song.

I'm really starting to worry about doing my top tens at the end of the year as more and more incredible music continues to be released. Mean Caesar is definitely a contender for EP of the year. With the help of the production skills of Joe Watson, they have created these technically masterful but also powerfully raw songs that grab your attention from the outset and keep you hooked throughout. And then you listen to it again and again and continue to find nice little touches that become your new favourite parts of the song. If you don't know Mean Caesar yet then you certainly will very soon!

Pre-order Mean Caesar here:

Like Mean Caesar here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Album Review: Fight The Good Fight by The Interrupters (by Robyn Pierce)

Right on time, almost exactly two years since the release of their last studio album, The Interrupters have given us a new full-length record entitled Fight the Good Fight. As with the band’s previous releases, the new album is produced by Tim Armstrong and out on Hellcat Records, and promises the fun, positivity-fueled ska punk that we’ve come to expect from Aimee and the Bivona brothers. The title for the album seems appropriate, since ‘Fight the Good Fight’ offers a kind of slogan or mantra for everyone who is struggling to deal with the dangerous conservatism of the present moment (which basically feels like everyone).

The album’s theme of staying true to your principles, standing tall, and fighting for what you believe in is introduced right from the first song. ‘Title Holder’ is a jaunty, mid-tempo track that asks you “are you a fighter, or will you cower”? It’s got a great vocal hook and a lot of sass, ultimately delivering the message that the only way you lose the fight against injustice is by not showing up. The next track ‘So Wrong’, like the later song ‘Gave You Everything’, is more punk than ska, and both remind me a lot of Bad Cop/Bad Cop. This is probably because of the gorgeous bass lines the band has laid under Aimee’s gravelly vocals in ‘So Wrong’, and the joyful self-assertion of ‘Gave You Everything’. There are also some awesome pop-punk woos and aahs in the background of both songs. In the second half of the album, ‘Outrage’ and ‘Room with a View’ also deliver a more straightforward punk sound; the first reflecting on the divided “age of outrage” we find ourselves in, while the other is a touching tribute to a lost loved one. I don’t think The Interrupters will ever escape the inevitable comparisons to The Distillers (or Rancid, for that matter), but for me these songs are much closer to a fun and edgy pop punk sound like that of Bad Cop/Bad Cop.

The rest of the album is loaded with catchy ska melodies. The band released ‘She’s Kerosene’ as the album’s first single, and it’s very clear to see why. It’s a highly skankable, uptempo ska tune with fast lyrical delivery and upstrokes a plenty. However, I’d argue that the rightful centerpiece of this album is ‘Got Each Other’, which plays out like a love song to the scene. The song springs out of a collaboration between The Interrupters and Rancid and is the musical equivalent of having a friendly (albeit sweaty) arm flung around your shoulders as you hop and dance in the pit. Everyone gets on the chorus of “We don’t have much but we’ve got each other”, making this a perfect singalong for live shows. ‘Leap of Faith’, introduces a darker groove but is also a great uptempo ska track with a catchy chorus, and includes some welcome horns in the breakdown. ‘Broken World’ responds to the divided opinion and lack of communication plaguing society with rampant love and positivity, while ‘Not Personal’ and ‘Rumours and Gossip’ call out police violence and the way in which rumours can poison relationships. As the album winds down, ‘Be Gone’ brings back the beautiful bass lines as the band chants “devil be gone” and exorcises everyone’s demons.

Fight the Good Fight is an excellent third album from The Interrupters, in which the band faces challenges head on but refuses to get discouraged or to give up. Every song is filled with an infectious energy and joyful defiance, and I’m sure it will please anyone who was a fan of the band’s first two albums. If you enjoy dancing along to the likes of Rancid and Operation Ivy but have yet to give Interrupters a try, I definitely recommend giving Fight the Good Fight a listen. It’s got all of the ska punk happiness we need right now.

Like The Interrupters here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Top Tens: Graham from Goodbye Blue Monday's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Thanks for asking me to do this, Colin. I’m going to avoid listing 10 bands that are blindingly obvious influences (yes, I’m sure we do sound like a Scottish cheap Off With Their Heads). I’ll try to focus more on what helps me write songs/gives me inspiration. Hope that’s alright. Sorry if I ramble. Plus, trigger alert and all that.

1. Punk Rock
I’ve listened to punk, in various forms and styles, for 20 years. From the early days of buying NoFX CDs at Tower Records, making and exchanging comps with mates and buying knock-off shirts outside shows; to downloading mp3s from AudioGalaxy to discover new bands (NoFX didn’t cover ‘I Want You To Want Me’ after all); to downloading full album torrents; to vinyl and Spotify and merch at shows. It’s been the one consistent genre I’ve always listened to. Playing in a punk band (whichever genre we fall into), it’s impossible not to accept how heavily influenced we are by a relatively limited genre. But also, I don’t know of any other genre which prides itself (despite often failing) on a good ethical outlook, stripped of the ambitions and vanity of other bands. Times change and you appreciate certain aspects of the music more, or get completely turned off by other things. My perspective has shifted a lot and some bands I never used to listen to, I now listen to all the time; and some of the bands I used to love, I’d probably consider to be assholes now. But I guess this is growing up. See what I did there? Plus, I can work up so much hatred for other music. As soon as I get a sniff of arrogance, or a whiff of insincerity, I lose my shit. The older I get, the worse it is. I didn’t mind the Chilli Peppers when I was a teen. Now all I hear is fuckin “wizza wazza warn ya, girl in Californya” or some shite like that. I can’t get passed that. Aye, punk though, I like that.

2. Frightened Rabbit
The only band I’m going to mention as a direct influence. I was late to the Frightened Rabbit party. I’d written them off as a folky Biffy Clyro, which was a huge mistake. Someone had recommended them and effectively made me listen to it. Musically they’re great of course, but what clicked was the lyrics. There’s a quiet line in ‘Dead Now’, which just simply states “There’s something wrong with me.” That was it for me. In all sincerity, I doubt I would’ve felt confident enough to write about what was going on in my head without hearing that. I’ll go one step further and say that I sincerely doubt I would have gone to get medical attention for my mental state had I not heard this. That Scott ended his life just cements them for me, as dark as that sounds. The relatable thing isn’t just the blues, it’s the grays, the constant 4/10 days: the life-long passivity and melancholy that can’t be shaken. Scott’s lyrics captured that perfectly and him choosing to end his daily suffering makes so much sense to me.

3. Being Sad
I love a good mope and there’s nothing better than a good sad song. The genre doesn’t even matter. I have a sad playlist on Spotify that I listen to religiously. There’s nothing better than sitting in on a dark cold night, listening to sad music and reading misery-lit. It’s quite fun to do. I laugh at myself just being a sad sack of shit. I try to think of lyrics and things that are quite tongue-in-cheek. Things you hear in sad songs you can pick at and twist. Going from mopey to suicidal. Although there’s genuine despair, I think it’s fun to poke fun at it too.

4. Scottish DIY Punk Scene
Sorry other countries, I don’t know your punk scenes well enough to comment. We played our first show with Make-That-A-Take in Dundee in January 2016. Before that, we’d only played shitty pay to play and free shows sandwiched between ‘the next’ Arctic Monkeys and ‘the next’ Metallica. We were very nervous about how we would go down with da punx and weren’t quite sure if we’d be treated as outsiders. The first thing that struck me was what a great sense of community there was. It was just a social event for people. The other bands were unreal as well. And we got a great reception. Everyone was warm, friendly and caring. And it was the same in Glasgow once we started playing shows with Dammit Presents too. Despite that, I used to have frequent panic attacks when we’d just finished playing. Jack was always good at packing my gear up for me and I would run outside and hide round a corner to calm down. I probably looked rude with my head down, pacing outside, completely ignoring everyone, but no one commented or seemed to care. They just chatted with me when I was done. Always warm and welcoming. Gradually the post-set panic attacks became less frequent and seem to have stopped. This is a testament to the warmth of the scene.

5. Mates
As much as it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment to get a good review, there’s nothing better than your mates telling you that they genuinely like your music or that your new song is class. I think Goodbye Blue Monday is the first band Jack and I have been in that our friends actually like. There are often times I’m writing a wee hook or melody and think so-and-so will love that wee bit there. It’s a great motivation for song writing. There have been times when I’ve sent a demo round to the rest of the band or a mate, and they’ve been like “yeah, it’s alright” and the song gets dropped instantly. What’s the point if you can’t even win over the people who actually like you?

6. Cigarettes
I’m not a smoker. I’m not a smoker. I took up full-time dedicated smoking when I was 30. Jack had come round to my flat to look after me and have some beers when I was a wee bit too suicidal. Long story short, he accidentally left his cigarettes behind when he left. I was having a panic attack and couldn’t grasp onto any form of thought and didn’t know what to do. I smoked a feg out the window and it was the ideal intervention. There really isn’t anything else like it for a panic attack. Apart from the niccy buzz, it was like a sand timer. It gave me purpose and calm. About 3 minutes of slow calm inhaling, literally burning time away. Even my psychiatric team struggled to offer a better alternative. I go through phases of insomnia and I get stuck in my head. I’d just get up, open up the window and smoke a few while starting at Arthur’s Seat and the flashes of a lighthouse. It’s meditative. I find writing songs quite intense, so smoking allows a break, to slow down and think about what I’ve written, rather than ploughing on. I couldn’t write music without it. I smoked way too much since then, and have managed to “stop” and vape instead, but I still enjoy the odd smoke if I’m drinking or going through a rough spot. Plus, I don’t care what anyone else says, the best thing in life is an early morning smoke and a coffee.

7. Self-harm
I haven’t written many songs without self-harming. I’ve done it since I was 9 (at least this is the first time I remember doing it) and I don’t really know how it started. It carried on (“teenage angst”), and on (secret twenties cutting) and continues now. It links so closely to song-writing. When you’re unwell and you have been for a long time, you have the ability to keep a mask on. The self-harm is just a physical expression of the mental state for me. And the songs are a “creative” expression. The two are intrinsically linked.

8. Insomnia
The best lyrics come at night when I can’t sleep and my thoughts start spiraling. I come up with weird scenarios and have the darkest thoughts, most of which morph into lyrics and into songs at some point. The thing is, when it’s 4 in the morning, there’s no escape because there’s nowhere else to go or nothing with which to distract myself. Exhaustion can be a wonderful thing. I also end up coming up with melodies and hooks which is fun. It just plays over and over in my head, until I either forget it or record it. The riff to ‘Pills’ was written at stupid o’clock.

9. Satanism
LaVeyan Satanism. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s helped shaped my outlook on life. The Satanic Bible is about 1/3 genius and 2/3 gibberish. For every on-point philosophical argument there is talk about witches and hexes. Ultimately, it follows the line of “I-theism”: there is no God, you have one life, Satan is the manifestation of human instinct, ergo be a c*nt if you want. It’s absolutely true. When you start thinking about it, you see it everywhere: competitive ambition, egoism, narcissism and self-indulgence (I’m aware of the irony). I completely agree with a lot of that, apart from the last bit. I’ve been writing songs about it. If humanity is inherently selfish by nature, and life is pointless, you can’t justify your own existence, so the only way to be ethical is to kill yourself? Life’s fuckin’ pointless anyway.

10. Suicide
The biggy. The one thing that gets me through life, is knowing that I can quickly end it when I choose to. When things get bad, I have an itch in my veins which feels like an ulcer that I want to tear at. It’s an inevitability and a matter of time to be honest. Everything feels like I’m running out of time to enjoy and do things. It makes me work harder on writing songs and playing music, rather than cowering in a room; it reminds me to appreciate the days when I have clarity; it lowers my tolerance to bullshit so I like what I like and love who I love. I guess it gives my life purpose in a backwards way.


Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. If you're struggling with mental health problems there are people you can talk to. Samaritans is one of a number of fantastic charities set up to help people. Please do not hesitate to seek help if you feel like you need it.

Check out Goodbye Blue Monday on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here.

On Sunday 23rd of September Goodbye Blue Monday are playing the New Cross Inn with Triple Sundae, Half Strikes and Batwings. It's going to be a great night, find the details here and come along!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Album Review: Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up

Lately I've become quite convinced that Bristol five piece The Run Up have found a way to stop time. Since releasing their superb debut self titled full length last year, they seem to have been endlessly on tour. To my great surprise, they've also found the time to write and record a brand new EP – set for release on 28th September through Real Ghost Records and Uncle M Music. Named Good Friends, Bad Luck, it's based around a theme of making the best out of bad situations and the strong bonds of friendship that grow due to these predicaments.

Good Friends, Bad Luck starts off with a short instrumental track of the same name. This serves as a great introduction for the EP as it shows off what is now becoming The Run Up's signature sound. It all leads brilliantly into the next song, The Upside Of Being Down. This is the EP's leading song and a fantastic music video was made with The Run Up just having the best time together as great friends. That's what the song is about – getting out and having amazing times with your best friends. The Run Up have this great skill in writing songs that I immediately want to sing along to. This song is catchy enough that it's not long before I'm singing my heart out with lead singer Larry and the rest of the guys in the band. The gang vocal "whoa-ohs" that lead into the song's ending add a bit of atmosphere into the song, making it feel extra emotional and making you believe that the band mean every single one of these words. The third song, Captain, starts off at a great pace with guitarists Charlie and Laurence laying down some great riffs. It's another track that has me wanting to sing along straight away. This might be to do with the superb way that the band make use of gang vocals and harmonies for a big portion of the song. For me,  this type of gruff pop punk is at its very best when the whole band are singing together – I find it allows me to connect to the band a lot quicker.

The fourth track, titled Eteranal Ghost, sees The Run Up holding things back slightly musically to allow Larry's vocal to really have centre stage. The song is about the struggles of life in a DIY punk band and trying to play shows and tours around having a normal life and it being great to be able to do it with your best friends. The song puts that kind of life into perspective and does make me think that we perhaps we take for granted the struggles and sacrifices people in bands make to come and entertain us. The fifth and final track on Good Friends, Bad Luck is named Keep Moving and is the perfect way to finish the EP. From Daniel and Harry's superb rhythm section, Charlie and Laurence's guitars and Larry's vocals, as well as more brilliant gang vocals and harmonies, the whole track is layered to perfection. I'm constantly hearing little things that I love that I didn't hear on my previous listen. The gang vocals make the song feel huge and it just continues to build and build throughout the song. It feels like it will be a massive sounding song if it were played in a small pub show or at an academy or arena show.

Good Friends, Bad Luck is The Run Up's strongest release to date. It's perhaps their most mature release so far and definitely their most focussed. The band have had some terrible luck on tour this year with broken down vans but have managed to turn all the stress that comes with that into a positive with this absolutely brilliant release. Who knows, if the bad luck hadn't happened would we have got this EP of the year contender?

Pre-order Good Friends, Bad Luck here:

Like The Run Up here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.