Thursday, 21 June 2018

Top Tens: James from O'Holy Ghost's Top Ten Second Albums

The real test of a great band is their second album - the first one they had years to write with no-one watching, but the second one? The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, the label is paying for studio time, press are waiting to tear it apart. So when it’s done right, it can be the start of something special. This is my (James) definitive 2nd albums list… With the exception of The Ordinary Boys - which was Darren – these views are my own and not of the rest of the band.

Maybe I’ll Catch Fire - Alkaline Trio
I picked this record up from the local record shop in Norwich some time in 2002, a period in my life when most of my friends were listening to NOFX. But this was clearly the thinking man’s drinking album.

Skiba rates this as one of his least favourite Trio records, he felt it was rushed and produced under quite a bit of internal turmoil. You can hear that - but it’s definitely the start of a band finding their sound - they sounded like nothing else, totally new.

Very Proud of Ya - AFI
I came to AFI really late - I was in a hardcore band in the early 2000s and most of the guys in the band were really into AFI. it wasn’t until much later that I went back and got into this record. I mean, it’s that total SoCal Nitro Records sound that just makes you want to loose your shit.

It wasn’t until writing this that I realised Jade wasn’t even on this record apart from doing a few backing vocals - totally makes sense now. Great record, super fast, super punchy, shame they went too far down the big old ‘spooky kids’ route.

Through Being Cool - Saves The Day
Out of all my 2nd albums, this has to be my number 1. I remember someone I lived with at the time had this video sampler from Equal Vision and in the middle of all the terrible hardcore videos was this video of a bunch of kids having a house party with a band whose singer looked like a 12 year old. Little did I know that a decade and loose change later I’d be able to share a stage with them!

I know they basically ripped off Lifetime but, lyrically, this record really influenced me - that mix of super dark imagery and weird turns of phases. Really cool album.

Dude Ranch - Blink 182
The guitars may sound like a tin of bees, the vocals may be painfully out of tune (weren’t they always, Tom?) and the lyrical themes as thin as toilet paper, but this album has to be peak Blink.

I really got into this record when I’d dropped out of school and moved away from my home for some reason. Things were pretty grim and, despite all the dick jokes, this record really got me through some tough times.

As The Eternal Cowboy - Against Me!
There was a point where I pretty much modelled myself as Tom Gabel (now known as Laura Jane Grace) on the cover of this record. Patch covered black denim? Check! Carabiner? Check! Rickenbacker? Check! If only I could write songs this good.

This record sounded like a band that just wanted to get shit moving - the songs are all real short, mega scrappy and none of the drumming is in time - but there’s a thread through it all that just makes it work. And still to this day, hearing Sink, Florida, Sink in their set never fails to make me go all giddy.

Brassbound - The Ordinary Boys
Gonna repeat this - Darren picked this one. But I’m going to review it. This is exactly the kind of music I imagine Darren liking when I see pictures of him from the mid 2000s. He still sings like this. He’s funnier than Preston though.

Boys Will Be Boys will forever remind me of terrible indie club nights where I’d had too many WKD Blues.

Meat Is Murder - The Smiths
Let me get this out of the way - yes, Morrissey is an asshole. But he still made great music - especially when he was with Marr.

My uncle had a poster of this album on his wall in the late 80s, I remember seeing the cover and being totally intrigued as a young kid. It was probably remembering that poster that triggered me to pick this album up in a Virgin Megastore bargain basement bin for about £3. It was then my love affair with Moz and Marr began. I’m still super influenced by Morrissey’s writing, but goddamn does he make it hard to be a fan of him anymore. I can’t bring myself to listen to any of his new stuff, he’s just insufferable.

Miserable New Experience - Gin Blossoms
I got into Gin Blossoms from watching Empire Records, I was pretty young when I saw that film, but I remember checking out all the bands that were on the posters / stickers / records around the store. Their track Till I Hear It From You that was in the movie had the most mad hook - at the time I was mainly listening to grimes gutter punk stuff, but then I got into all this melodic mid 90s jams.

I went back and checked out this album from ’92 and it was wall to wall bangers - total understanding of melodies - although most of the tunes are all the same chords. Obviously the standout here is Hey Jealously. It was really cool when I heard (one of my favourite bands) Iron Chic’s ‘True Miserable Experience’ - their homage to this song - it opens with the same bass riff and then has the lyric ‘We were singing "Hey Jealousy’, we drove through town and let the cops chase us around”. Pretty cool.

Echoes - The Rapture
I went back and listened to this record - it’s not perfect, but totally summed up the sound of that era. We were all just a bunch of indie loving punks, but we still wanted music to dance to.

The standout track from this record, House of Jealous Lovers, still stands up as one of the greatest songs of all time - it felt like it was all going to fall apart at any moment but in its non-stop cowbell worship it totally took you back to a sweaty basement party somewhere out of your mind. Incredible record.

Owen - No Good For No One Now
Mike Kinsella is definitely still finding his feet on this record - his hushed tones over looping, circular acoustic guitar riffs still impress. His lyrics piece together neat little dioramas that really stick out in your head - “What else in this room reminds me of you? The windowsill, where the crucified pit of an avocado still sits in water”. It wouldn’t be until I Do Perceive that Mike’s songwriting really started to take him beyond just being the ‘guy that was in American Football’.

You should like O'Holy Ghost on Facebook here:

O'Holy Ghost are releasing their debut EP TRVTH on July 13th. To celebrate they are throwing a release show on the 26th of July at The Cavendish Arms with Sam Russo, Mean Casear and Modern Shakes. Check out the details for that here:

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Album Review: I Think We'll Be Okay by Eat Defeat

I'll get to the conclusion of this review immediately. Eat Defeat have probably won pop punk in 2018. Their brand new album, I Think We'll Be Okay, is a masterpiece and I've no doubts that this will propel them onto a much bigger audience than the one they already enjoy. I've enjoyed following the career of the Leeds based four piece since 2012's debut album Challenges. Challenges saw the band play more of a skate punk with traces of ska style. Since then they've released two EPs, 2014's It's Always Sunny In Yorkshire and 2016's Time And Tide. These releases saw Eat Defeat shift towards the more pop punk style they're known for today. Something that I think connects all these releases is the message of positivity that is spread through their music. They write songs to empower people and help them realise that no matter what is going on in your life you are never alone.

This is also the case on the opening track on I Think We'll Be OK. The first song is titled A Little Less Than OK and brings you into the album with a great building guitar intro before lead singer and bass player Summers joins the party. The guitars and drums fade out slightly to really allow the listener to focus on what Summers is singing about and get fully invested into the song. It's about trying to stay sane whilst pushing yourself to achieve your goals and is a perfect way to open the album. The second song Duvet Day is a bit of an early curveball as it's only forty-one seconds long and that's not what I expected. It's a short song about needing to take a day off work due to things becoming too much and telling your boss what to do when they question you. I look forward to seeing this song live and singing along, particularly to the outro. Smile is a song that is completely Eat Defeat. It's so catchy, it's so uplifting, it's so wonderful. The opening guitars had me thinking of The Menzingers song Burn After Writing with perhaps a more fuller sound. It's energy, energy, energy immediately and I can't help but get swept away with it. Singing along to the repetitive lines of "I just smile" as well as the chorus of "We can do anything, we can go anywhere" when the song is played live will be such a cathartic feeling.

Nothing's Wrong is about putting on a front and pretending that everything is fine when in fact you're really struggling. I'm sure we've all been feeling bad and have responded to the question "what's wrong?" with the answer "nothing." I know I have on many occasions. The fifth song, Can't Say I'll Miss You, is another with a big, building intro that gets you pumped up for the song. The track begins with a high tempo before gradually morphing into a more melodic style. Can't Say I'll Miss You tackles the subject of false friendships coming to an end and realising it's for the better. There is a particularly special moment towards the end of the track where the music again fades away and we are treated to a superb building section with some exquisitely executed harmonies before reaching the song's big finale. Shortcuts originally appeared on Time And Tide and it's great to see it come back for I Think We'll Be Okay. This song is always one of the highlights of an Eat Defeat live set. It's about bands taking shortcuts to try and getting ahead instead of going about it by working hard and ultimately achieving whatever you would class as success in a more rewarding way. Basically - DIY or die! Shortcuts is a fast paced banger with a brilliantly catchy chorus that will have you singing along, as well as having a fantastic jump around. This song is a bit of an anthem for all the small DIY gigs that Eat Defeat play and perhaps a bit of an F-U to the bands who don't put the work in and get ahead. Running In Place is a softer song which sees Eat Defeat in more of a reflective mood. The song looks at the conflict of either staying rooted to one place or wanting to live a life of adventure and how these decisions affect your mental health. This is a really intelligently written song that makes you think.

The eighth song on I Think We'll Be OK is named Scorched Earth. This is one of my favourite tracks on an album full of excellent songs. It's a fun and uplifting song about making the most of your life even if something might feel like a bad idea to begin with. After the more thoughtful and melodic style of Running In Place, this fast paced and slightly chaotic sound really grabbed me. It's a slight contrast that works really well. For me, Eat Defeat are at their very best when they've got their foot fully on the floor and are going for it. I loved the lyrics of "Let's make bad decisions, defy traditions, embrace collisions and see where it gets us." That's a fine way to try and live your life. The penultimate song is titled Self Help (For The Helplessly Selfless). The song begins with a somewhat darker tone compared to the rest of the album, kind of making me think of Challenges era Eat Defeat. I then did a little checking and realised that this is in fact a re-recorded version of the opening the song of Challenges. Good thing I checked – I would have looked silly! The song works brilliantly within the theme of the album - taking chances and trying to live life to the fullest. Eat Defeat in my opinion saved the best song for the end on the album. The excellent Not Today, Old Friend first appeared on the Japanese version of Time And Tide but this is its first appearance on a UK release. The album also takes its name from the lyric in the chorus, "I think we'll be okay." The song is obviously about fighting back against your demons and not letting the rubbish bring you down. This is truly just a perfect song in every aspect and genuinely puts a smile on my face each every time I hear it. I do think that we'll be okay.

This is hands down THE pop punk album of 2018. Stop reading, go and listen. Smile, dance, be empowered and have a lovely day.

I Think We'll Be Okay is out on August 3rd. People from Europe can pre-order here and the UK and the rest of the world can pre-order here

Like Eat Defeat here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Album Review: Life At Thirty by On My Arms

I'll never get tired of listening to Ramonescore pop punk. It takes me to my happy place, perhaps even more so than ska does. Because of this I'm always excited to check out new bands in the scene. Mainland Europe is jam packed with these great bands. A few weeks ago we checked out Austrian band Dorkatron. Today we're giving a listen to Italian four piece On My Arms. On My Arms formed in 2011 in Venice after being influenced by old school bands such as The Ramones and The Queers, as well as modern acts like Teenage Bottlerocket. Back in March they released a brand new album titled Life At Thirty. The ten track album is being released in Europe by Monster Zero, Japan by Waterslide Records and in the USA by Outloud! Records.

The first song on Life At Thirty is titled 15 + 18. Like you would expect from some Ramonescore pop punk, it's a short, sweet and fast song. It's quite a simple song lyrically which you will quickly be able to sing along to. The track is about being in a hurry to grow up when you're a kid. This song really gives you a great feel of what the album and On My Arms are all about. The second song, It's Gonna Be Now, quickly moves the album into traditional pop punk territory - girls. On this song On My Arms show off their more melodic sound and serve up some delicious harmonies. Naturally the catchiness remains and you'll be smiling along gleefully as you sing along with the chorus of "And Is Gonna Be Now." On the third song, For Life, the band find the perfect mix of tempo and melody. They manage to hook me into the song instantly with its energy and it has me listening along to the lyrics so intently. I love how On My Arms have managed to write a really energetic song without playing as fast as they possibly can.

The meaning of the fourth song I Wanna Quit My Job is self explanatory. I'm sure it could quite easily become an anthem for anyone you has a job that they dislike. The song is fast, fun and fantastic. On My Arms really hit the nail on the head with their extremely relatable lyrics. The relentless lines of "Can't make it this morning, Can't make it to wake up, 'cause my job, 'cause my boss sucks." I truly believe lead singer Ganz genuinely hates his job. The fifth song on the album is named I'm Obsessed With Posers. The song is about people in the scene who don't care about it and only see it as a way to try and make money off of other people's hard work. This feels like a more serious side of On My Arms. They show this by playing in a more measured way without many key changes or big building guitar solos.

The album's title track, Life At Thirty, is up next. Starting out with just a guitar and vocals, you immediately want to sing along with the band. As soon as the full band kicks in we are again treated with the more serious On My Arms. As you may have guessed, the song is about reaching the grand old age of thirty and the feelings that come with that milestone, in particular feeling like you can't follow your dreams anymore and you have to settle with what you now have. Up next is song seven, Baby Where Are You? Here the band revert back to the short and sweet pop punk style. The tempo is upped and it feels as if drummer Marco is hitting the tubs with a bit more ferocity. The song is about having a crush on a girl and searching for them on a night out.

Sick Of You sees a much much angrier side of On My Arms. Perhaps this is unsurprising given the song title. On the song Ganz sings at some speed and adds some spite and venom into his vocals as he talks about not wanting to be like somebody he claims to be a selfish, ignorant, sad poser. It really feels like he means every single word. The penultimate track is named I Wanna Win. This song was one of the stand out tracks on my first listen of Life At Thirty. It's an uplifting feel good number about wanting to come out on top of life despite all of the things that happen that make you feel like it is not possible. The song is a thoughtful one, relying much more on melody than tempo to draw in the listener. There is even some added piano at the end of the track that adds another fantastic element to the song's sound. The tenth and final song on the album is the acoustic Everything. What I really enjoyed about this song is, even though it's a soft acoustic song, it's actually full band with the inclusion of drums and what sounds to me like a violin. The drums provide a big back bone to the song and the violin gives a haunting touch and adds so much emotion to the song. Everything is about the breakup of a relationship and dealing with the aftermath. This album finishes on a beautiful but downbeat moment.

Life At Thirty is another superb Ramonescore pop punk album from mainland Europe. The plethora or really great bands out there playing this style is incredible. On My Arms are one of my new favourites.

Stream and download Life At Thirty here:

Like On My Arms here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Album Revew: Reach Out by New Town Kings

In my opinion the New Town Kings are the best thing to come out of Colchester since Humpy Dumpty. They are a band that make me hugely proud to come from the North Essex town. For years now they've been wowing crowds in the town and throughout the rest of the UK and Europe with their modern take on ska and reggae music, constantly earning more and more fans. It has been seven long years since the eight piece released a new album which is a really long time to wait. During that time they replaced their former frontman Chris White with Dabs Bonner and were hard at work playing shows all over the place. They released a handful of singles and an EP whilst working on a new sound to compliment their new singer. Now, finally, the New Town Kings have self released a brand new album of thirteen brand new tracks named Reach Out. To say I was looking forward to this would be a huge understatement.

The album starts out with its title track, Reach Out. Here we have a slick reggae track where Dabs and the Kings basically re-introduce themselves onto the scene. Dabs has a fantastic versatility in his vocal and shows this off brilliantly on the track, whether he is soulfully singing or rapping in an up-tempo fashion it is superb. This song is followed up by Borderline which sees the band get political. It's about the absurdity of still having lines to separate countries and the ridiculousness of needing special permission to cross between these borders. The message in the song is obviously something that the band feel very strongly about and they've done a brilliant of job of conveying their views here. First of all it's extremely catchy so you will quickly be singing along with the chorus but the real strength in the song is how eloquently written the rest of the track is. It feels as if the band are trying to teach the listener rather than preaching their views. This is amazing. The third song is the upbeat ska number Why You Always Take. This is a wonderful summertime ska track about that friend, that we all have, that only takes and never gives back. It's a song where Dabs lets out his frustrations about the situation but in true ska fashion does it in such an upbeat way.

British Summertime is an ode to growing up in the UK during the summer and making the best of it not often being especially warm. There is something magical about those few days when it does get nice and the whole country has a collective smile on their faces. The upbeat ska vibes continue on the next song, Deep Water. It's more of a humorous song that may or may not be about bass player Tommy's attempts at being a ladies' man and how it often ends in disaster. This is one of those songs that is impossible not to smile along to like a bit of a goon. This is another really catchy track that you'll quickly learn the words to. I kind of feel like this song was written so that a room full of people can sing the song back at the band and in particular Tommy to help him learn "that if you play with fire you're sure to get burnt." The sixth song Music is perhaps my favourite on Reach Out. It's about just what a magical art form music is and how it just makes everything better. We can all agree with that. This is a wonderful song for chilling out with your loved ones on a nice summer's evening with everything in your life just feeling perfect. Dabs's vocals are on the softer side here which just adds to the whole vibe of the song. Listening to the song I just want to wrap my arms around my favourite people, smile and sing away. This is seriously the bees knees of a song.

Francine is a fun swing number that the New Town Kings have been playing live for a number of years now but this is the first time the song has found its way onto a record. Tommy Marchant's walking bass line along with the Kings amazing brass duo of Rory Sadler and Robert Landen really steal the show on this one. It's another song that encourages a huge sing-a-long with some fun gang vocals adding harmonies to the chorus. When a whole room of people is shouting along with the band it adds a big feeling of inclusion and connection that can often be lost between a band and its crowd. Not with the Kings though! The eighth track features a special guest in the form of roots reggae artist Sylford Walker. The song, titled Burn Babylon, is more of a serious reggae style track about wanting to bring down the establishment. This is another one of the Kings' more political songs that not only educates but also gets you thinking. Long Long Road is an uplifting and positive song about following your dreams no matter what obstacles might stand in your way. Much like Music, this is a great chilled out song that's perfect for those great summer's evenings. I love any song that empowers me and this certainly does that. Having a group of people singing "oh now it's a long long road, we've got to walk, we've got to walk" who really believe in these words must be a really special feeling.

Coconut Tree could be one of the happiest songs I've heard it a very long time. Returning to the upbeat ska sound, this song is about escaping from the trials and tribulations of your everyday life and living a simplistic life in paradise. This song is really clever in the way that it is written. With the catchy chorus listing fruit you might find on a tropical island, it does make the track feel a bit silly on the surface. But if you dig deeper and really think about the song, it actually is a great piece of social commentary on how you don't need all of the expensive and shiny things that you think you do to be happy. You actually just need the simple things to be happy. Track number eleven is another song that the band have been playing live for a little while but has finally found its way onto a record. The Hawk is a completely instrumental song that allows the band to really show off what an incredibly talented bunch of musicians everyone in the band is. The penultimate song is named Fine Fine Fine. Fine Fine Fine is another brilliantly uplifting tune about feeling so happy in your life and wanting to spread your love with everyone around you. I can, again, imagine singing this song along with a room full of people – friends, family and strangers – and just feeling so unbelievably positive and empowered. Dabs really has done what he set out to do on the song and spread his love. The final song on Reach Out is the slower ska ballad Lullaby. This is a side of the New Town Kings we've never experience before. Like the title suggests, the song is a lullaby that feels deeply personal for Dabs. Because of this I won't try and delve too much into the meaning of the song but just know it is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Reach Out didn't just surpass every single expectation I had for the album, it completely blew me away. A band shouldn't lose their lead singer and come back with an album that's better than any of their previous work (and that's not a slight on their previous work as I adore it), that's just not how these things usually work. Reach Out is everything I want in a ska and reggae album and then some. It's danceable, I can sing along, it makes me smile and laugh, it makes me think and most of all it makes me feel better. Ska, in all of its wonderful forms, is making a huge statement in 2018 with so many bands in the genre releasing album of the year contenders. Reach Out is certainly one of them.

You can buy Reach Out here:

Like New Town Kings here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Gig Review: Pkew Pkew Pkew at the New Cross Inn, London 12/6/18

When it comes to deciding on my gig of the year in December I already have a few strong contenders. I have a feeling that the majority of my favourite gigs of 2018 will have been put on by Be Sharp Promotions at the New Cross Inn. They are on such a hot streak of putting on incredible shows at the moment. The latest came this past Tuesday night when they had Canadian pop punks Pkew Pkew Pkew playing their first ever show in the UK. That was enough for me to quickly buy my ticket and then I saw the incredible line-up booked for the entire night. The Burnt Tapes, The Run Up and Our Lives In Cinema were supporting Pkew Pkew Pkew and I couldn't have been more excited. This was going to be one of those special punk rock nights that will forever have me smiling when I think about it.

First up were Bristol's The Run Up who were supporting Pkew Pkew Pkew on a few of their European tour dates. The guys in The Run Up have had a tricky couple of months when it comes to touring, with their van breaking down in Europe twice on their last two trips to the mainland resulting in a few missed shows. Watching them on stage, I sensed there was a bit of relief at being able to be playing a gig and not still hanging out in a Mercedes garage in Germany. This was my third time seeing The Run Up this year, having caught them twice in January on their tour with Quitters, and they just get better and better. It's always great to see people who genuinely love being on stage together and playing their songs. You could see that playing the show has made all of the troubles they've had of late worth it. The band played mostly songs from last year's self-titled full length but they did also manage to squeeze in a couple of older tunes as well as a brand new one. Learning Loss was a particular highlight for me – I love that song! What a great way to start the night.

London's Our Live In Cinema are relatively new to the London punk scene but are quickly making a name for themselves. The five piece have released two superb EPs within the last year and have been steadily getting themselves booked on more and more shows. Lead singer Mark Bartlett is also a huge Pkew Pkew Pkew fan and was so unbelievably excited to be on this bill, saying during the set that it was a dream come true. The enthusiasm that Our Lives In Cinema play with is infectious with Mark in particular standing out as he dances around the front of the stage whilst displaying some seriously impressive vocals. This was my first time seeing OLIC but had heard about Mark's high energy performances and I wondered if he'd be able to maintain the great vocals I'd heard on their EPs. He nailed it. I especially enjoyed the songs from the recently released All Talk. EP opener It's Always Sunny In Paterson Park is a superb live song. There was also a funny point during the song where Mark randomly broke into some classic Whitney Houston. I thought OLIC were absolutely great and this wasn't even them at full strength as they had a stand in guitarist in the form of Eat Dirt's Richie Cooper filling in for them. I wonder how good they are normally? Our Lives In Cinema are a band I will be keeping an extra special eye on.

For me, The Burnt Tapes are the best band in the UK at the moment and I'm always so excited whenever I get to see them. I hadn't seen them live since October 2017 when they supported The Bombpops at the New Cross. Nine months is way too long! Being a New Cross show, it was kind of a home turf situation with plenty of people there to support the four piece. We were treated to an extra special set full of all our favourites and some brand new songs that sound absolutely incredible. Their last EP, Alterations, was my favourite release of 2017 and the handful of new songs they played during this set sounded better than all of songs from the aforementioned EP. That's saying something! Naturally there were some great singalongs for the older songs. The Burnt Tapes have made many friends over the past few years so it was perhaps no surprise when Hassan Afaneh (of Triple Sundae) joined them on stage to sing part of their opening song. I later found out that this wasn't planned which made me laugh as Hassan so coolly walked onto the stage, sang and walked off again as if they've done it 100 times. To be fair they probably have. The main highlights for me were Go Home. You’re Drunk and Things Get Weird. The Burnt Tapes just get better and better every time I see them and I can't say enough positive things about them. I'm quite convinced that soon it will be them selling lots of tickets for headline shows at the New Cross. I hope I'm right because it's what this incredibly talented band and these wonderful people deserve.

Last but certainly not least were Pkew Pkew Pkew. You know it's going to be an extra special night when a band is playing their first UK show ever and have sold over 100 advanced tickets for a Tuesday night show in South London. That's an incredible achievement. Pkew x3 play fast, singalong pop punk tracks that are mostly about partying, drinking and having a great time with your friends – so they're perfect for a live show. The front of the stage was now packed as everyone in the New Cross instantly joined in with the singing of opening track The Prime Minister Of The Defence. During the track, a member of the crowd had brought the band jagerbombs and soon enough the party got wilder and wilder. Playing the entirety of their debut self-titled album as well as a brilliantly sounding new song, Pkew x3 were loved throughout. It seemed as if everyone in the pub knew the words to each and every song they played and sung it at the top of their voice with fists permanently punching the air. Pkew x3 seem to have this incredible ability to connect with the crowd with relatable songs and a charming nature on stage – it's hard not to love the band. I'm not sure who was more stoked, the band to be playing to such a great crowd on their first UK show or the crowd to have them. It was just smiles all round for everyone. It's hard to pick stand out songs from the set because, genuinely, every single one was just so well received. Finishing their main set with the awesome Glory Days and its many whoa-ohs would have easily been a great a way to finish the night but the boys had a couple of surprise cover songs up their sleeves for an encore. Claiming to be the only two songs by UK acts that they knew how to play, the first song of the encore was The Clash's version of Police On My Back and then, to really send the crowd home happy, they played a hilarious cover of I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.

I was right, this was an extra special night. Of course Pkew Pkew Pkew were the highlight but the whole night in general was just perfect. The Run Up, Our Lives In Cinema and The Burnt Tapes were all fantastic and were a perfect advertisement for the UK's underground scene. And as always at Be Sharp shows, the atmosphere was brilliant with plenty of old friends, new friends and future friends coming together to share a great time.

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

Friday, 15 June 2018

Column: Polite Riot Festival Preview

On the 22nd of June a brand new punk rock festival is being unleashed on South East London. Named Polite Riot Festival, this three day extravaganza is what happens when Be Sharp Promotions, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches team up with Destiny Tourbooking and decide to put on three days of punk rock at the New Cross Inn. Promising the best of UK hardcore, skate, melodic and pop punk, as well as some super special guests from further afield, it's already looking as if it's going to be a huge weekend. I decided to take an in-depth look at each day and the bands that will be knocking our collective socks off!

I was going to say that Friday starts the weekend off with some ease but that's just not the truth. Sure the day isn't such a test of your endurance like the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, as there are only five bands playing. Headlined by a band that now have to be considered pop punk legends – all the way from Wyoming – Teenage Bottlerocket. Teenage Bottlerocket have been wowing crowds with their fast paced pop punk for years now and in my opinion they have played a huge part in bringing proper pop punk back to the forefront of the punk rock genre. TBR continue to grow in popularity and getting the opportunity to see them play in a small space like the New Cross Inn is a rare treat that shouldn't be missed.

But it's not just about Teenage Bottlerocket! Swan Prince are a four piece band from Redditch fronted by Rachel Blewett. This pop punk quartet are a relatively new band on the scene, having only formed in 2017 so the opportunity to play a show with Teenage Bottlerocket must be a huge deal for them. After checking out their demos on Bandcamp, I'm really looking forward to seeing them for the first time. Up next are a couple of bands who recently opened consecutive days at Manchester Punk Festival. No Matter were one of my highlights from a festival jam packed with special moments so you can imagine that I'm excited to see them again. The Irish foursome channel that great Lookout Records era pop punk sound that I, and so many people of my age, cherish so much. Being one of the first bands signed to the impressive Umlaut Records roster, this show will almost feel like a home town show for the band. Eat Defeat opened the second day of MPF to a massive crowd and I've no doubt that they'll get the same kind of treatment at the New Cross Inn. I've been lucky enough to have had an early listen of their forthcoming album and it's superb so hearing those songs live for the first time is going to be a lot of fun. That album is going to help Eat Defeat explode in the UK's pop punk scene and it surely won't be much longer until they're headlining gigs at a packed New Cross Inn themselves. Lastly we have one of the most popular bands in the UK scene and one that I've never seen live, Spoilers. The four piece from Canterbury play their own blend of catchy punk rock music and have recently been gaining more and more fans all over the country. Lead by guitarist and lead singer Dan Goatham, who has one of the most unique and distinctive voices in the scene, expect some big sing alongs for these guys.

The Saturday of Polite Riot is headlined by London punk heroes Apologies, I Have None. I believe I am right in thinking that this will be their only full band London headline show of the year so that's reason enough to come down to the New Cross Inn for a set full of massively passionate singalongs. But before AIHN we have a stacked day of punk rock. Looking at this line-up it seems as if the promoters have made an extra special effort of showcasing some newer bands to the New Cross scene as there are a few bands I've not seen on line-ups there before. The one that stood out the most to me was Stoke On Trent's Only Strangers. The four piece released their self-titled debut album earlier this year to positive reviews from all circles – including CPRW's Richard. This will be the band's first adventure down South to play a show and I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Expect superb melodic punk rock from this great band who are sure to gain plenty of new fans at Polite Riot.

Peckham's Love Songs are a very new band on the scene having released their one and only single Now That's What I Call Love (Volume 1) late in 2017. They play a moody and atmospheric brand of melodic punk rock which I'm certain will be captivating to watch live. Snap Out are a band returning from a four year hiatus in time to play the festival. Playing a hybrid of grunge and pop punk makes them stand out from many of their contemporaries and they are surely an intriguing act to witness live. I've been listening to Snap Out's 2013 EP Dino Diner a fair amount since it was announced that they would be playing the festival and it has some absolute bangers on it. Mean Caesar are a band who recently blew a New Cross crowd away when they opened for The Copyrights back in April. If you don't know the band, there's a good chance that you will recognise the members from their other or previous bands such as Great Cynics, Pure Graft, Werecats, The Murderburgers and many more. Mean Caesar are sure to make a big splash on the UK punk scene very soon, another set not to be missed. Finally we have a band that regular attendees of New Cross shows will definitely know, everyone's favourite rubber skull enthusiasts – the mighty Müg. The four piece, who also run the incredible Umlaut Records, have been favourites in South London for many years now but sadly don't play as many shows here anymore as they're extremely busy gentlemen. I think they're a very important band in our scene have helped out so many other bands throughout the years. Of course musically they are superb. If you are a fan of 90s skate punk you will love Müg.

When Massachusetts melodic hardcore act A Wilhelm Scream were first announced for Polite Riot my first thoughts were "My gosh! A Wilhelm Scream are playing the New Cross? will it still be standing after they've played?" Having a band the stature of A Wilhelm Scream play the New Cross Inn is another massive achievement for all involved with the venue. This Sunday night slot is going to be a moment people will be talking about for a long time. AWS will be starting a month long European tour in the UK and they will be joined at the majority of the UK shows by Darko. The Guilford based five piece have become legends within the UK and European melodic punk scene, as well as becoming standard bearers for the genre further afield. Somehow I've only ever seen Darko once before so seeing them at again at Polite Riot is well overdue.

Drones bring their political punk rock back to the New Cross Inn. Fronted by Lois McDougall, the band have become well known for their socio-politically charged songs as well as an exhilarating live show. CPRW's Robyn recently caught them live at Manchester Punk Festival and was seriously impressed. Drones are yet another band I cannot wait to see at Polite Riot. On A Hiding To Nothing are one of our favourite bands here at CPRW and they always put on such a fun and energetic show. Playing unbelievably fast skate punk tunes always go down a treat. OAHTN are one of those bands where I'm astounded by their skill – it baffles me how they can play so fast but remain so catchy. One of the best bands on the scene! Eat Dirt are a relentless whirlwind of a hardcore band. Playing ferocious sub-three minute songs, Eat Dirt are an ideal band to go on early on the Sunday of Polite Riot to shake away any cobwebs and hangovers of the previous two days with sublime punk rock fun. I've heard that Eat Dirt are a lot of fun live and I can't way to see if for myself. French band Zombies No released the excellent Divided We Fall on Umlaut Records last year and it's great to see them back in the UK again. Influenced by 90s skate punk with a pinch of metal thrown in for good measure, I'm seriously impressed with what I've heard of Zombies No. Not only do they write some great punk rock but lyrically they spread their social and political messages wonderfully. Polite Riot Festival will be a very special show for London based Ships Down. This will be their final ever show and they get to share a stage with their heroes A Wilhelm Scream as well. I'm stoked that I get the chance to see Ships Down finally after worrying I'd missed the chance. I've followed them since reviewing their excellent demo in 2016 but never got round to seeing them. I can't wait to see this technically brilliant theatrical punk rock band. Last, but by no means least, is Local Mad Man. This London four piece are a heavy and ferocious hardcore act who have been going for a number of years now. 2018 sees a slight line-up change and some brand new material in the works. I'd imagine we might get the chance to hear a couple of these at the festival.

Polite Riot Festival is going to be an incredible weekend of live punk rock music. The festival is stacked with a phenomenal and varied line-up featuring local talent and some great acts from further afield. It's got some of the biggest and most popular bands around, as well as some just getting started. If you like your punk rock fast and loud then you really need to be at the New Cross Inn between the 22nd and 24th of June!

For those worried (like I was) the New Cross Inn will be showing the England vs Panama World Cup match at 1pm on the Sunday – phew!

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

News: The Bombpops Are Back At The New Cross Inn

After a successful headline show last October, Fat Wreck Chords band The Bombpops are returning to the New Cross Inn thanks to Be Sharp Promotions, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches on Monday July 23rd. That show back in October showed London why The Bombpops are among the elite of pop punk bands in the world. You can get all the information about the gig on Facebook here and you can buy tickets (£7 in advance and NO FEES) here. This is going to be a fun fun night!

Top Tens: The Papashangos' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Hi I'm Lolly Shango and I sing for THE PAPASHANGOS, also put on local gigs as half of Weird and Raw Promotions, and run a new festival for weird and raw bands called The Unholy Messtival.

Top ten influences

1. Jazz
I grew up in a household where jazz records were always playing. My dad liked the smooth and classic swing stuff, but my mum loved nouveau jazz, all quirky rhythms and odd squeals. I learned to find beauty in challenging, discordant music.

2. The Beatles
My parents also loved the Beatles, mainly their earlier, more melodic poppy stuff. But, when I heard tracks like Helter Skelter and Revolution my ear started to adapt to a harsher, less controlled rock sound, which prepared me for punk.

3. Early 80s rock and metal
Iron Maiden and Blue Oyster Cult started my love of rock, Motorhead and AC/DC cemented it.

4. The Ruts
I heard Babylon's Burning on Top of the Pops and nearly had a fit. Love that song, it blew my mind.

5. Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power
That album broke me. I love the scratchy, uneven production, the bass, the guitars, the vocals and the songs. I played Hard to Beat (Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell) on my crappy stereo until I knew it better than any other song ever. When I later started playing bass myself, I used to try to sneak a bass lick from that song into at least one tune in the set.

6. The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned
These were the big three for me, once I went full on punk. I doubt I could say anything new about them, but The Damned are personally responsible for my attempts to write music. I learned a couple of easy chords from the sleeve notes of Machine Gun Etiquette, and that was that...

7. Oi! Music
I have all the the first Oi! compilations on vinyl. Loved them. The music and lyrics were usually dumb and often unintentionally hilarious, but many of the songs still have a kind of simple, primal power that's hard to match.

8. Inner City Unit
An offshoot of Hawkwind, this was an amazing band that incorporated everything from punk to ska to folk to jazz into a truly unique sound.

9. Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers in the film Top Secret
If you ever catch one of our shows, you'll see the influence this sequence has on my personal performance style...I'm not as graceful, though!

10. Rude Boy (1980)
The film about Clash roadie Ray Gange. I remember enjoying the film. In my memory it's a bit of a precursor to the mumblecore style of filmmaking that was popular a while ago, but it's the live footage of the Clash performing Police and Thieves that really stuck with me. Up until I saw that, I'd always taken it as a fact of life that live performances are inferior to recorded versions of songs. In my opinion, the version of Police and Thieves on the first Clash album is lifeless and boring. It's a track I always skip. However, the live version on Rude Boy....

It's like a whole different song. Incredibly infectious, engaging and passionate. I love it, and it helped to make me a more active fan of live music, no longer satisfied with just buying records.

Those are my personal top ten influences. I hope they're interesting and perhaps a bit surprising.

This is my band:

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Album Review: Austeros by Austeros (by Emma Prew)

It doesn’t seem that long ago since Austeros released their debut album, Painted Blue. Well, it was two years ago actually and it was one of the first full-length records I reviewed for this ’ere blog. Thankfully the album was brilliant so that made reviewing it easier for an amateur like me! Two years on and I’d been hoping it was maybe time for a second full-length, particularly after their great 5-track EP, I’ve Got This, that was released last year. Sadly, last month, the Bristol-based three-piece announced that after 5 years of being a band they were calling it a day. This was very sad, not least because I’ve for one reason or another only ever managed to catch them live once – but one time is better than no times. The band will be playing one final show at the wonderful Exchange in Bristol on the 6th July but before that they have left us with one last release, featuring three new(ish) songs.

The first song on the EP is called Raindrops. Beginning fairly slowly with just guitar before the bass and drums come in, shortly followed by the vocals, Raindrops is a song about trying to let go of your anxieties and insecurities and just be yourself  – therefore ‘shedding your raindrops’. If you don’t know Austeros (shame on you!) then you won’t know that they play a brand of indie punk and lead vocalist (and guitarist) Jeremy has a superb and, I think, unique voice. It’s that classic Austeros sound that is on display here. The pace picks up into the last third of the song and we are treated to some lovely melodic guitar and the positively assertive line ‘Now we know exactly who we are.’ Next up is Cherished. When I first listened to this EP and this song, I thought I recognised Cherished and it turns out there’s a reason for that. It was actually previously released on I’ve Got This (hence why I said newish songs up there in my intro) although that version was an acoustic rendition. It’s is only a short track at less than 2 minutes in length but Austeros pack a lot into that timeframe. The bass kicks things off as Jeremy sings affirmatively about being able to be happy – ‘I’ve got this, I am worthy of being happy, Oh I’ve got this, I am cool.’ The lyrics and the melody makes me feel happy too and it’s great to hear what was already a good song played by the whole band as well. Lastly we have Eyelids, opening with the ever so slightly gloomy lyrics ‘I’ve been staring at the back of my eyelids, It beats the ugliness I see with my eyes open wide.’ I think the first two songs were fairly positive and uplifting but what Eyelids lacks in positivity, at least to begin with, it makes up for with pure emotion. This is another slower paced track but there is a definite sense of building throughout its duration as the volume is cranked up and the passion levels in the vocals are upped too. The repetition of the line ‘Is this all we’ve got?’ offers up one last singalong opportunity – and not just for the EP but the band in general. Following an encouraging remark of ‘I don’t think so.’, Eyelids ends with an instrumental outro where Austeros give every last thing they’ve got – some keys included.

If it has to end, then at least Austeros ended with three more great songs for us to listen to again and again. This is a band that will be sorely missed both in the UK’s DIY punk scene and further afield. Austeros, we love you.

You can stream and download the EP on Bandcamp and like Austeros on Facebook, for old times sake.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Album Review: Wires Crossed by Arms & Hearts

Northwest acoustic punk rocker Arms & Hearts has got to be one of the most prolific songwriters around at the moment. It seems as if every few months he has an exciting new release for us to listen to. We're big fans of Arms & Hearts (real name Steve Millar) here at CPRW so every new release is met with much anticipation. In fact there was a little disagreement between Emma and I about who would review his latest release, Wires Crossed. This new EP was released by the always reliable for great music Real Ghost Records and sees Steve take a foray into full band territory. I was keen to see how this new side of Arms & Hearts sounds.

EP opener Sore Sight For Sorry Eyes starts with a little bit of distortion as if he is signalling that this will be a full band release. Pretty quickly we're greeted with Steve's gruff yet soulful voice. I did wonder if some of the emotion of the earlier releases might be lost in a full band effort but in fact I found that the songs had more. Having the backing of a full band seemed to add more urgency to the songs which I loved. On the EP's title track, Wires Crossed, this urgency continues. There is also a superbly punchy guitar section that adds some attitude to the song. This punchy style accompanied by the melodic way in which Steve delivers the vocals really drew me into the song. What kept me interested was the way it builds towards the end. I love a great building section in a song, particularly when it hits its high point and the song explodes into a great big sing-a-long.

The third song, Falling Short, remains full band but feels more stripped back and bare than the previous two songs. This really allows the listener to focus on what Steve is saying in the song. Falling Short is about all the different character flaws in people and how they don't often hit the standards that perhaps they should. The penultimate song Back Up Plan is probably my favourite track on Wires Crossed. The song starts out simply with Steve's stunning voice pulling you into the song with just a bit of guitar to accompany it. Of course it quickly builds into an Americana tinged punk song that has me thinking of Dave Hause of The Loved Ones. The song feels nice and positive as Steve sings about the experiences he's had because of music. There is a section towards the end of the song with a phenomenal build – it really takes you on a ride and when it gets to the end it gives you a great feeling of satisfaction. On the EP's final song we are treated to an acoustic number. Titled Benchmarks, the song is about trying to improve yourself and as he sing "be better than this." The undoubted highlight of the song are the beautifully layered harmonies that take place towards the end of the song.

Arms & Hearts doesn't just consistently write songs, he consistently writes great songs. This was my first time hearing him with a full band backing him and I loved it. His solo acoustic stuff is superb but for me he really comes into his own with the full band backing – there's just an all round fuller sound. Wires Crossed is sure to place well on my end of year top EP's list.

Stream and download Wires Crossed here:

Like Arms & Hearts here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Album Review: For The Sake Of The Bit by Elway (by Emma Prew)

It’s been three years since Elway released their last album, the excellent Better Whenever – it was a CPRW top album of 2015 by the way. We saw the band live a year later at Fest, whilst the likes of Red City Radio and Propagandhi were playing at the same time, and it was a massive highlight of the whole festival for us. I for one, having not listened to their back catalogue in great depth before Fest, was completely blown away by their performance. Since then we’ve been eagerly awaiting more recorded material from the band. On April 27th our wishes were granted and the band released For The Sake Of The Bit on Red Scare Industries. With 8 songs on it, I’m not entirely sure if this is a generous EP or a short album (I’m opting for the latter) but who cares because Elway are back! And – spoiler alert – it’s pretty darn good.

The opening track is called Inches and it is a relatively mid-tempo song to ease us into the album. The guitars are big from the outset and Tim’s warm yet slightly gruff vocals will immediately have the listener hanging on his every word. As I said this isn’t a fast paced track as such but nor is it a slow plodder, it goes along at a perfect pace and brings us to the excellent middle section of the song. Tim sings ‘But if you can’t face the end, Then maybe you could start a band, But until then…’ and then we are treated to a gang vocal response of ‘Get fucked!’ Suddenly this song got a little more gritty and I love it. (According to an interview I read, the band are telling people who needlessly criticise bands online to ‘get fucked’ here.) There’s some great guitar work in this song too – a fine album opener all round. Inches is followed by a shorter, faster tune called Hold On. The drums are pounded that little bit harder from the start and the guitars feel more urgent – urgent yet super catchy that is. There’s more of that grittiness in this second track which is ever more present when the vocal kick in as Tim’s voice seems more intense and perhaps a little strained (not necessarily a bad thing). I must admit, the faster and rougher vocals do make it hard to figure out precisely what Tim is singing which is a shame because I really felt like I wanted to sing along. Thankfully the chorus, filled with equal parts bitterness and nostalgia, is a whole lot more singalongable than the verses – so much so that it sounds like the whole band is singing it: ‘Letting go is harder than it seems, I never needed sleep to fucking dream… Hold on, A part of me remembers when, All my friends weren’t so blasé, It seems like yesterday…’ Actually, although I’ve referred to that as the chorus, it’s actually only sung once and at the end of the song meaning that Hold On definitely goes out with a bang.

The third track on For The Sake Of The Bit is titled Crowded Conscience. Here Elway take their foot off of the accelerator (or the gas pedal if you’re American) a little for another more mid-tempo number. The volume is still amped up but it doesn’t feel as fast and furious as the previous song on the album. I think, assuming I am interpreting the lyrics correctly, that this is a love song of sorts about trying to make time for that special someone who has perhaps been a little neglected by you – and so clearing your conscience. This feels like both a feel-good and heart-felt track which is none more apparent than in the chorus. ‘Baby, we could drive all over the country, Or pretend that we could avoid the cities, I would just whisk you, Whoa, Oh (x7ish)…’ The song has that same sort of alt-rock Americana feel to it as something like The Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound (album) but still sounds distinctly Elway and I love that. Following on from this love song comes Selfish Masochistic Psychic Trauma, a track that feels much darker – not least because of its title. The song’s intro is a little stripped back with a clean melodic guitar riff to lead us into the song but before too long those huge Elway guitars and drums are back. The opening lines set a somewhat sour tone – ‘To have lived is not enough, I have to talk about it in all these songs…’. Selfish Masochistic Psychic Trauma is about a particularly entitled individual who feels like the world revolves around them. The band’s bitterness really comes through in the song and has me feeling pretty resentful myself. I guess that’s the sign of a great songwriter!

The second half of the album sees the arrival of some fuzzy and distorted guitars. Eating Crow is the name of the fifth song on For The Sake Of The Bit and that opening riff will no doubt have your head nodding from the start. When the vocals come in after 30 seconds or so things are slowed down a little and there’s a great bit of call and response between Tim’s vocals and a more melodic guitar part. This song seems to be about what a disgrace we are as human beings most of the time whilst living in out own little bubbles and not really learning from our past mistakes. ‘If we don’t learn a goddamn thing then the history it just repeats.’ Tim also questions what we’ve done in our lives and to the world as a whole and if we’ve ‘gone too far’. The song is perhaps not as obviously venomous as the previous song on the album but Eating Crow sure packs its own punch too and the songwriting is masterful. Perfect Silence is the name of the next track and there is no hesitating with this one as the vocals come in after just a few seconds. The song has a fairly slow pace and almost melancholic sound. That said, it also has a great distinctly Midwest sort of sound that I can’t even describe properly in words but I know I love it when I hear it. I feel like it draws near to indie or alt-country and Americana but, no, this is still a punk band at heart. This also feels like a very honest song – I mean most Elway songs are but more so with this one – as Tim mentions mental health and acknowledges that he knows there is no hidden purpose in life. I particularly enjoyed the line ‘I carry happiness inside a balled up fist.’ . Perfect Silence tackles the daily struggles we face in life and offers up a positive thought to end on – ‘…There is no hidden worth, No purpose, No nothing, Well for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s crazy to try.’.

Things take a little bit of a different route for the penultimate song, Paper Guitars. There’s an echoey and almost dream-like start with the lead guitar sounding distant, before a second guitar, bass and drums kick in. However, when the vocals come in we’re back to classic Elway again and the pounding drums and bass carry us through to another hugely singalongable chorus – complete with plenty of whoa-ohs. ‘Go on and swim, Whoa-oh, As far as you can, Whoa-oh, Go on and swim, Whoa-oh, And never return again, Whoa-oh whoa-oh-oh.’ Damn, I’m just thinking about how much I want to see Elway live again to be able sing along with the band (At the time of writing this they are on tour with Dead To Me in the US but it is unlikely they’ll be over to UK anytime soon, if ever.) Paper Guitars features a soft instrumental breakdown that is accompanied by a voice recording. To be honest it isn’t all too clear what the recording is about but I think it might be someone talking on the phone. I was mostly focussed on the guitar shredding that was going on anyway! This carries us into the last song on For The Sake Of The Bit which is titled Nobody Goes Into Meteorology For The Sunny Days – a lovely humourous yet cynical title if ever there was one. There’s a sombre and thoughtful tone set here which seems like an apt way to play out the record really. This song is probably the slowest of the album but the pace does pick up nicely towards and beyond the chorus – ‘Go ahead dude, no one is listening… I’d like to thank my heroes for giving me a voice, And no thank you to the bastards who only make white noise.’  An instrumental section that follows gives a sense of something building – because it is. Building to a goodbye. As Tim musters up some emotional cries of ‘So here’s a goodbye, Here’s a goodbye.’, there are hints of it being screamed back to him in the background. Then we soon find ourselves at a distorted fade out that ends the album. That’s it, over in no time. At only 25 minutes in length, you may as well listen to the whole thing through again!

I think Elway may well have released one of the best singalong gruff punk albums of 2018. Check out For The Sake Of The Bit yourself and see if you agree with me.

You can stream and download For The Sake Of The Bit on Bandcamp and like Elway on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Gig Review: RVIVR at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, London 5/6/18

Bethnal Green Working Men's Club isn't a place I fully expected to spend to spend a Tuesday evening in June enjoying some punk rock goodness but this week that was indeed the case. Everything Sucks Music had taken over the place for two nights to put on Olympia, Washington punks RVIVR, one of my favourite bands of the past few years. I would have loved to go to both nights but unfortunately I had to work on the Wednesday night. Not to worry though as one time is better than none and it had been over eighteen months since I last saw RVIVR – and that was in Florida. It had been way too long since RVIVR had played London so it was sure to be a night to remember. I was also getting the chance to see two bands I'd never seen before in the form of Personal Best and Charmpit.

First up were Lewisham four piece Charmpit. Beginning their set with an acapella version of a Britney Spears song to get themselves comfortable on stage was a unique and fun way to start things off. From there we were treated to a fun set of feminist indie pop punk. As their name would suggest, the band was full of charm not just when they were playing but between songs as well. The songs were played with a great spirit and it was clear that Charmpit were having a lovely time. This spread into the crowd as more and more people began to get into the band. What a fun way to start the night.

Personal Best are a band I've known about for a while but had never actually listened to. I've no idea why as they are long time members of the Specialist Subject Records roster which I am a fan of. After seeing their set it had me wondering even more why I had never listened to them as they were fantastic. Lead by guitarist and lead singer Katie Gatt, the band stormed through a set of power pop gems. Personally I enjoyed the faster songs the most but every single song had me tapping my toes, bopping along and wishing I could sing along. The harmonies between Katie and fellow guitarist El Morgan were a superb element of the Personal Best sound. I'm a big fan of vocal harmonies and will forever get a kick out of them.

Finally it was time for the evening's main event. RVIVR are a very popular band in London, hence the reason for two nights in a row. Bethnal Green Working Men's Club boasts a capacity of 400 people and as I looked around the room it seemed as if there was now a decent amount of people that had turned up ready to sing their hearts out. The thing that first attracted me to RVIVR was the incredible dual vocals from Erica Freas and Mattie Jo Canino. These two have some of my favourite vocals in the world of punk rock and together it's like when the Avengers assemble. It's pretty special. I first became aware of RVIVR back in 2013 after the release of their second studio album, The Beauty Between, and quickly became hooked on the band. Since then the band have only released a couple of EPs but I, and I'm sure many other RVIVR fans, have been anxiously awaiting a brand new album. Well judging from the set that RVIVR played, that new album is imminent as they squeezed in four or five brand new songs amongst many old favourites. One particular track had a nice vibe of older Gaslight Anthem which has me very excited for the new album, whenever it may be released. All the new songs were really well received but of course the old stuff got the biggest reactions. Songs such as Edge Of Living, Wrong Way/One Way, Cut The Cord, Goodbyes and Change On Me are always a pleasure to hear live. Whenever I've seen RVIVR in the past I've always thought how happy they look on stage, like performing these songs is some kind of release from their everyday lives. The dynamic between the band members makes for a very entertaining live act. They just look as if they're having the most amount of fun and this leaks into the crowd who dance and sing along to every word. RVIVR are one of the best and most important bands in punk rock right now and I love them.

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

Saturday, 9 June 2018

News: Fandangle "Fly Away" 10 Year Anniversary One Off Show

UK ska punk legends Fandangle are returning for a one off show at the New Cross Inn on the 3rd of November to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their superb album Fly Away. How on earth is that album ten years old already!? It's going to be another of the New Cross Inn and Be Sharp Promotions' legendary ska punk all day events with doors opening at 2pm and bands playing all day. Advance tickets go on sale on Monday 11th June here.

The show also comes a month before Fandangle release a brand new album, who saw that coming!? Fandangle were one of the first UK ska punk bands I ever really got into so I'm completely over the moon to have them back again.

To keep up to date with all the information regarding the event click on this link here.

Album Review: All Talk by Our Lives In Cinema

Our Lives In Cinema are busily carving themselves out a nice reputation in the London punk rock community. Armed with an infectious enthusiasm for the scene along with some kick-ass pop punk songs, the band with the best name in the game are on a path to greatness. Back in March the five piece released a brand new EP on the mighty Umlaut Records titled All Talk. Dan has already interviewed OLIC frontman Mark for CPRW (which you can read here) but we loved the EP so much that we also decided to give it a proper review.

The three song EP begins with the track It's Always Sunny In Paterson Park. The extended intro of the song serves as a great introduction to the whole EP. The song really kicks into life when Mark's vocals begin. Delivered in a fast paced and punchy style, they steal the show and inject so much energy into the song. I loved the breakdown in the song where Mark's vocals are joined by a simple, plodding instrumentation and some superb harmonies. A really great sing along moment. The second song, Talk You Up, is more melodic and slightly edgier than what I've hear from OLIC before. I really enjoyed this different side to the band, it shows some great versatility to their song writing. OLIC have a fantastic skill at pacing their songs. They do this magnificent job of playing at a high tempo but the songs never feel rushed. They're not just playing super fast for no rhyme or reason, the song composition is brilliantly thought out. This is one of the more emotional OLIC songs as Mark's anger seems to build throughout the song. It's just superb. The final song is titled Every Year Is A Mountain. This track feels like a final song. I can imagine it being a great set closer because of its massive chorus that's so catchy you'll be singing along with it very quickly. Even if it's your first time hearing OLIC, you'll be singing along come the end of the song.

Our Lives In Cinema are seriously a top band that you should not be sleeping on. This release, as well as their previous self-titled effort, shows serious amounts of promise. I've heard great things about them live as well. I'm looking forward to finally catching them when they play with Pkew Pkew Pkew at the New Cross Inn on Tuesday 12th of June.

Stream and download All Talk here:

Like Our Lives In Cinema here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Column: Punk In 2018 (This Column Is Going To Get Me Abuse)

A couple of weeks ago NOFX made some highly thoughtless and inappropriate comments. This isn't exactly a new thing for them to do and sadly is no longer surprising. This however isn't a column about what they said, it's about the aftermath and the reaction of the punk rock community. You see, opinions were incredibly split and the common argument of "what punk rock is and isn't" soon became the main theme of most threads. To be fair, before this month's punk rock controversy, the meaning of punk rock is a subject that is contested more frequently than the argument of what's better – cats or dogs? (Dogs obviously [Emma says cats, whilst proofreading this post]).

I decided to take the incredibly brave steps for putting my opinions on the subject on the Internet. Before I do, I want to put out a bit of a disclaimer to try and limit the abuse I'm expecting to come my way by people who have a different opinion to me. This is just my opinion – I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it's just the way I see it. Please be nice and just see this as one person's views on a subject. He doesn't judge you on your opinions so please show him the same courtesy. Disclaimer/begging people not to be horrible to me out of the way, let's get on with it.

So, to my knowledge and belief, when punk rock first began in the late 1970s it was seen as a way to fight back against a society where you felt oppressed. This was done by playing short fast songs which had strong political messages or were just shocking for the time. At the time, this really did define what being punk was. The more shocking you could be, the more punk you could be. In the next big punk explosion during the 1990s the big political messages began to fade away and the message of a lot of punk rock began to centre around feeling like a misfit and trying to find your place in the world. The shocking nature of early punk rock remained as well but had shifted towards crude humour – basically dick and fart jokes.

In the past few years, there has been a major shift in what many punk bands are talking about. To my knowledge, bands seem a lot more focussed on spreading a more socially aware message. Of course politics and finding your place remain big parts of the subject matter but bands have now added subjects such as equal rights, mental health, building a community and not being afraid to be yourself. Humour, of course, remains but the more modern bands tend to have more of a self-depreciating humour than crude. Bands use their time on stage to try to help and educate people with messages of positivity and, for me, that's a much better environment to be a part of. It's nice to listen to an album or come away from a punk show feeling empowered and wanting to help make a change, not just in the punk scene but in the world in general.

That for me is what punk means in 2018. Whereas in the past it was about being an anarchist and trying to bring down the system by rebelling against everything, now it's about working together and trying to make things better for everyone. The spirit of rebellion remains but now the punks are so much more positive about how they get the message they want to spread out there to the people. The punk rock scene is now an incredible community-driven environment as well. There are small scenes all other the UK who help each other put on shows, share events, review albums and generally just support great music. These small scenes form a bigger community throughout the whole country of like minded people who work together to try and create something better. There are no egos, no drama, no dicks. It's about people coming together to build something brilliant. It's about coming together and sharing your thoughts and opinions in a positive way. The DIY ethos is potentially stronger than ever, only there's been a change. It's not so much about doing it by yourself, it's about doing it with others and doing it with your friends. In 2018, punk rock has evolved from the shock tactics of old. Sure I still love a crude joke from time to time but never at the expense of other people. If it makes people feel uncomfortable, it's probably not necessary. Punk rock is this really special movement that can be used to achieve some great things and generally make your world a better place.

So, in summary, I think that punk rock in 2018 is about working together in a community to positively achieve what you believe in and to try to make everything better.

Punk rock used to be about smashing the system, now it's about fixing it.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

News: Polite Rot Festival Announces More Bands

Last night the organisers of South London punk rock festival Polite Riot announced the latest wave of bands playing the event. The festival is taking place at the New Cross Inn between June 22nd and 24th is being headlined by Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream and Apologies, I Have None. Also playing the festival are Darko, Drones, Eat Defeat, Eat Dirt, Local Mad Man, Love Songs, Mean Caesar, Mug, No Matter, On A Hiding To Nothing, Only Strangers, Ships Down (last ever show), Snap Out, Spoilers, Swan Prince and Zombies No. What a line up! You can get all the details for the event here and you can buy weekend and day tickets here.

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

To celebrate CPRW’s fourth birthday this week, Colin asked me to write my very own top ten punk rock influences – finally! Not that I’ve actually been a part of the blog for since the beginning but Colin and Dan have already written theirs and I guess I’m next in line as I’ve been contributing to CPRW for nearly three years.

Although I’ve been secretly hoping that Colin would ask to/let me write my top ten for a while, I didn’t actually have a set-in-stone list so it did take some thinking and narrowing down. I decided to order my top ten chronologically – number 10 is my oldest influence and number 1 is, sort of, the most recent. Here we go…

10. Mama and Papa Prew
I’m surprised how few mentions of parents I’ve seen in other people’s top tens over the years… My mum and dad both absolutely love music – it’s how they met – and that means that I grew up with music always playing in our family home. They didn’t exactly listen to punk but there was a great variety of ‘rock’ music on offer from dad’s favourites Pink Floyd, Neil Young and R.E.M. to mum’s Bon Jovi obsession and plenty of (relatively speaking) newer bands as well – Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, etc. These days my parents listen to a lot of folk and Americana, alongside the classic rock, which I like too. Like me, they love live music and probably go to far more gigs a year than your average person. Oh and mum loves dancing to Against Me!

9. The Pitz Club in Milton Keynes
So my parents got me into rock music pretty young, then when I was around 13 or 14 I’d discovered some newer rock bands of my own – y’know the kinds that were played on the radio. Mum and dad took me to my first few gigs around that age, which involved driving to Birmingham or similar Midlands locations, but I also ventured out with some of my school friends to Milton Keynes’ premiere music venue – The Pitz. By premiere I mean it was the best on offer at the time (long before the brilliant Craufurd Arms or MK11 venues that the town now has) even if it was a bit of a dive – a dive in a function room at a leisure centre that is. We used to go to The Pitz to see local bands play and it was here that I discovered ska punk… and, most importantly, Capdown! It took me a few years to get back into ska punk but I appreciate my initial introduction to it back in the day.

8. The Gaslight Anthem
I don’t have much to say about The Gaslight Anthem that I haven’t said multiple times on this blog before, most recently in my classic album review of The ’59 Sound (which you can and should read here). Basically they are, and always will be to some extent, my favourite band. Without them I don’t know if I would have discovered punk rock. I just really love this band, their songs and their sound.

7. Frank Turner
Yes, the controversial Frank Turner. He’s very much like marmite in the punk rock community isn’t he? I appreciate that not everyone likes his views or his music – I’m not even sure I like much of his new music and I try not to read into his personal opinions and actions too much – but I can’t deny that he’s been a huge influence on me and my music taste over the last 11 or 12 years. (That’s actually longer than I realised and it’s longer than I’ve been listening to The Gaslight Anthem!) I’m sure I’m not the first person to have been introduced to acoustic and/or folk ‘punk’ through Frank Turner and I’m sure I won’t be the last. It’s his man-with-acoustic-guitar singing down-to-earth songs that I love the most – Love, Ire & Song is obviously the best FT album. I’ve seen Frank live more than any other artist although I am now content not to see him again for the time being. I’ve moved on a bit in my listening tastes but I will never take for granted what an impact this skinny half-arsed English country singer has had on me.

6. Chuck Ragan and The Revival Tour
From one acoustic punk to another… completely different one from the other side of the pond. I know, I know, most punks would have Hot Water Music on their top ten list and not the solo endeavour and self-curated collaborative folk music event of one of the band members. But I ask you, did you go to the 2011 UK Revival Tour where Chuck Ragan was joined by Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and Dave Hause of The Loved Ones? No? Then you won’t have witnessed the amazing 3+ hour musical experience of these guys, plus Jon Gaunt and Joe Ginsberg, playing each other’s songs as if they were just having a jam at Chuck’s house. Also, Chuck Ragan – what a guy! I took the aforementioned mama and papa Prew to see Mr Ragan a couple of years ago and mum in particular just had the best time – she says it rekindled her love for live music too. Awesome.

5. Mike Davies and the Radio One Punk Show
In 2010–11 I was studying for my graphic design degree in Falmouth, Cornwall. I would go into the studio to work alongside my pals on my course and then plug into my iTunes library or, if I hadn’t listened to it already, catch up on the Punk Show with Mike Davies. It was broadcast at 2am one day in the week so I never listened to it live – did many people actually listen live? I was still relatively new to punk rock at this point but I knew that I liked the genre, probably more than other genres, and so listening to this show was a great way for me to discover some new bands. Sadly the Punk Show got cut from the Radio One roster in 2014 but the legend lives on!

4. The Menzingers
I’m not really sure which I discovered first, the Punk Show or The Menzingers, as it was around about the same time really. It was pre-On The Impossible Past but post-Chamberlain Waits, yet I was listening to their first album the most. There was just something infectiously enticing about A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology and I couldn’t stop listening to it. It was actually a lot shoutier and screamier than my general tastes, even for punk rock, but for some reason I loved it all the same. When On The Impossible Past was released in 2012 I wasn’t immediately hooked on it. It was really different to the band’s earlier albums and it took some time (a few days) to grow on me. But when I had got accustomed to it there was no turning back, my Menzos obsession had well and truly begun. Basically, for everyone one song I listened to by another band I listened to three Menzingers songs. I absolutely loved them – and still do. They have got more and more popular over the years and therefore play bigger venues these days but seeing them at the Underworld in 2013 was a turning point for me. I went to a proper punk gig by myself and it was exhilarating.

3. Bangers and Specialist Subject Records
I’ve already mentioned that I went to university in Cornwall but there wasn’t really much of a punk scene in Cornwall, at least not one that I knew about or had ventured into. However, I did know about a number of South West of England punk bands. My long-time favourite of these bands, who also happen to be the Cornish ones, are Bangers. I listened to them a hell of a lot whilst at uni, alongside bands such as Above Them (who I always think were from Wales but they weren’t, they were from Yorkshire), The Arteries, The Cut Ups, Great Cynics and OK Pilot. Many of these bands were either on or associated with Specialist Subject Records, a DIY UK label that was of course co-created by Andrew from Bangers. Ironically I never saw Bangers live until I’d left Cornwall – however I did travel back to Falmouth to see them support fellow Cornish band Crowns after leaving. I was gutted when Bangers broke up in 2016 but I got to go to their last ever show (it was emotional) which was also a celebration of Specialist Subject Records. Discovering Bangers and their labelmates gave me an insight into the underground UK punk scene, which leads me in nicely to my next pick…

2. The DIY punk scene in the UK
It took me several years of listening to punk rock to actually start seeking out DIY punk shows in the UK. Obviously I’d been going to gigs since I was a teenager but that was generally to see bands with my friends – or my dad – who also liked the same bands. By the end of university I had this ever growing love for punk rock but no friends who might want to go see such music live with me. That’s why forcing myself to go it alone to see The Menzingers was such a turning point for me. Before too long I didn’t care if I had to go alone, I had to get my live punk rock fix. Throughout 2014 and 2015 I gradually upped my attendance at DIY punk shows, mostly in London, then I met Colin… and our favourite thing to do together is go to a gig. The scene itself is just so welcoming and the music is pretty alright too. I don’t think I properly realised just how amazing our punk scene is in the UK until MPF this year. Everyone from the different scenes all over the UK, including our usual London crowd, travelled to punk rock Mecca, aka Manchester, and just had the most amazing time. There were friendly faces everywhere, high fives and hugs a’plenty and just so, so much love for punk rock. It makes my insides all fuzzy thinking about it.

1. Colin’s Punk Rock World
Well, we’ve come full circle. I’ve discovered a hell of a lot of bands through writing for and reading CPRW. Some of my favourites albums of recent years are those that I reviewed for this ’ere blog. Obviously most of that is down to the blog’s namesake who also happens to be someone I share my home and heart with but I don’t want to get all soppy with this post. It was Colin who encouraged me to write my first review for the blog (a gig review/ramble of The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘last’ show with Against Me! supporting) although I was quite happy just to redesign the logo and blog layout. Of course, the other members of the team are all wonderful and vital parts of what makes CPRW so great – plus it’s fun having our group chat to discuss all things punk rock together. I love our little blog family.

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.