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: https://throwpdx.bandcamp.com/album/i-m-very-upset

Like Throw here: http://www.facebook.com/throwpdx

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: https://meancaesarlrr.bandcamp.com/

Like Mean Caesar here: https://www.facebook.com/Mean-Caesar

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: https://www.facebook.com/wearetheinterrupters/

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: http://www.realghostrecords.com/products/623969-the-run-up-good-friends-bad-luck

Like The Run Up here: https://www.facebook.com/therunupuk/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Album Review: Shrug Dealer by Shrug Dealer


I won't lie, I wanted to check out Shrug Dealer purely because of their truly awesome name. The four piece from New York formed this year and recently released their debut self titled EP. Containing six songs in just eleven minutes, the EP promised to be packed with fantastic high tempo punk rock music. Shrug Dealer have the great name but do they have the great songs? Only one way to find out!


The EP opens with a fast melodic hardcore track named Writer's Block. The verses are delivered in a fantastic punchy way which makes energy ooze out of the song and the chorus is so wonderfully catchy you can't help but get swept away with it. The track is about the frustrations of having writer's block and trying to get through the struggle. The song is only just over a minute long but Shrug Dealer do an excellent job of fitting a lot into the song. It's no thrills quality punk rock. Up next is a song named Snowflake Wars. This track is played at a slower tempo than Writer's Block and features some great shredding guitars in a similar style to A Wilhelm Scream or Darko. The song draws you in quickly with some duelling guitar playing before the vocals begin. The song is about those horrible types of people who go out of their way to offend you and wear you down for no reason whatsoever. The vocals on the song are impossible to ignore and are extremely impressive. The third song That's $10 You Owe Me Now, Dickhead has a great introduction. At the start it has you thinking this could be some kind of melodic punk reggae track before the song quickly shifts into the fast paced hardcore song that you would expect from Shrug Dealer. The song looks at the big multinational stores in the USA that are putting the small "mom and pop" stores out of business. It basically says these big chains are not playing fair and are causing a lot of people to lose their income.

The fourth song This Song Written On A Macbook Pro is just twenty-eight seconds long. When I first read the title I guessed it might be an attack on all these modern day performers who make all of their music on a laptop. In fact it's about how throughout the world child labour is used to make many of the products we use and how we don't do enough to deal with this disgusting practice. This short song packs a big punch and really gets you thinking. The penultimate song is named The Lanes. Here we are greeted by the poppier side of Shrug Dealer's sound. It still retains the shredding guitars of the previous songs but also has a bit of a 90s pop punk influence on it that I loved. The energy at the start of the song is infectious and the line in the chorus of "I believe in myself" is simply empowering. The Lanes is about finding a strength in yourself to remain true to who you want to be despite all of the rubbish that can be thrown your way in life. The positivity coming out of the song warms my heart. The EP finishes with the song Who Is Molly? This track has one of those incredible building sections that I completely adore and is worthy of your time just for that. It feels like a final song with its big finish where the band really let loose with some wailing guitars and rawer vocals.

What a great debut EP this is. Shrug Dealer take the melodic hardcore genre and, for me at least, have given it a fresh sound that really allows them to stand out from the rest of the pack. I will be recommending this EP to many of my punk pals.

Stream and download Shrug Dealer here: https://shrugdealer.bandcamp.com/releases

Like Shrug Dealer here: https://www.facebook.com/shrugdealer/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Album Review: House On The Hill by Enda McCallan (by Emma Prew)


Enda McCallan is an acoustic folk punk musician from Omagh, Northern Ireland, who is now based in Manchester. It was in Manchester, at Manchester Punk Festival no less, where I first came across his music. I’d arrived to see Arms & Hearts but managed to catch the last couple of songs in Enda’s set and was really impressed – plus I kicked myself for not getting there sooner. On the 15th of September, Enda McCallan released a brand new four track EP titled House On The Hill and produced by Steve Millar (Arms & Hearts). I was keen to give it a listen…


First up on House On The Hill is a song called Cheatin’ Ways. Opening with some soulful electric guitar and a steady drumbeat, I soon realise that this isn’t an acoustic track like I was kind of expecting. Instead this a very much country-tinged rock track – I can imagine it being played from a car driving across America (maybe that’s what the skeleton is doing on the EP artwork). As you can probably guess from the title, this is a story of heartbreak but we don’t just hear from the man in this scenario. Chloe Hawes contributes some fine guest vocals to Cheatin’ Ways and we get to hear both sides of the story. There’s also a great, yet unexpected, guitar solo towards the end enforcing that American feel. December Nights is the second song of the EP and here Enda slows things down a bit – not that the first track was especially upbeat – for a track that is solely acoustic. December Nights feels like quite a sad and personal song. The lyrics speak of admitting where mistakes have been made in your life in the past but also how you can learn from them and try to better yourself in the future. There’s a particular line (‘Are you dreaming of being free tonight?’) that really reminded me of Bruce Springsteen – which is never a bad thing – although it did also make me think that this song could use some harmonica. Towards the very end of the song it suddenly switches to the fuller band sound and even has some backing vocals. Nice!

Irish Eyes was a pleasant surprise because I realised almost immediately that I recognised it. It was a fun song to hear live at MPF and is just as fun to hear the recorded version. It is is more of an upbeat and folky track than the previous two songs, serving as both a head-nodder and foot-stomper, but it also comes with an important message. Irish Eyes is an anti-racist anthem written from the perspective of an Irishman who has seen how many people are reverting back to racist views and ideologies of old. ‘The way I see it, There are no borders, There are no countries, We’re all part of one collective known as the human race.’ Brilliant! I also got my harmonica part that I wanted from the previous song – and then some banjo! The more upbeat pace is retained for the final track of the EP, which is also its title track – House On The Hill. Despite the faster pace this is clearly a sombre yet sincere track full of nostalgia. House On The Hill is a song written in memory of and, I suppose, in celebration of an old, potentially childhood, home and the people who were there with you. ‘…Like an old tattoo your memory fades but it will never truly leave, And I know one day we will meet again…’ It is sad but also a great tribute to somewhere and someone – or multiple someones – who have shaped Enda’s life in one way or another. And a short, sweet but rocking guitar solo ends the EP on a high.

You can stream and download House On The Hill here on Bandcamp and like Enda McCallan here on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Gig Review: Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves at the New Cross Inn 10/9/18


September has already been super busy on the gig front for Emma and I. On Monday the 10th we found ourselves at our fourth in nine days. Back at our home from home, the New Cross Inn in South East London, for a night of punk rock presented by Be Sharp Promotions and headlined by Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves with support for The New Heat, Resuscitators and Katie MF. Being a Monday night it unfortunately it wasn't the best attended punk show of the year but what it lacked in people it more than made up in talent.

First up was Katie MF, who we featured as our Band of the Week earlier in the year. Katie MF are a three piece, fronted by Katie MF. They started out their set with a slower folk number that at times felt kind of bluesy before picking up the tempo and adding some gutsy punk rock to their sound. I assume that Katie started out as a solo act before adding the full band. She picked two supremely talented musicians to back her up, I was so impressed with them as a band. Katie herself was captivating, playing with so much energy and passion during the faster tracks and delivering a really powerful and moving performance during the slower songs. The highlight of their set was the song Mr Cameron, Mr Gove – a song about the terrible state those two men have left our country in. I loved this set and have already recommended to my friends at Be Sharp that they should book them again.


Up next were Resuscitators. I've been following these guys for years now and have loved everything that they've done. Recently they've become a three piece after losing one of their guitar players and I was interested to see how this affected them as a live band. They've also recently finished recording an album so the set promised to be full of new tracks. Starting out with my favourite Resuscitators track Little Victories before moving onto Rivers from their latest single, they really hooked me in and I found myself singing along best I could. From there they moved onto some newer tracks which have me quite excited to hear this new album. Something I've always adored about Resuscitators is their use of multiple vocalists, this gives their skate punk sound even more energy. Guitarist Roger Holland seems to have taken on more vocals on the new material and sounds great. Bassist Matt still does the majority of the singing though and as ever was on top form. This was a fun and energetic performance from Resuscitators. Finishing on the fantastic A Record Of My Own Self Doubt, Resuscitators cemented my opinion on them being one of the most underrated bands in the UK.


We first got the opportunity to see the next band, The New Heat, back at Polite Riot Festival in June. The four piece left a big impression on everyone in the crowd that day and we were looking forward to catching them again. Playing soulful and energetic punk rock similar to The Gaslight Anthem they again set about wowing everyone in the New Cross Inn. They have this great quality in their sound that makes me think it would work well in a big academy venue as well as a smaller venue like the New Cross Inn. Lead singer Nik Holi has a superb voice, it’s equally raspy as it is powerful and really captures the whole room’s attention. They mostly played songs from their EP We Said Our Prayers but also treated us to a brand new song which saw the band spread their wings a bit. Like I said earlier, they have a similar sound to The Gaslight Anthem but for me they play that style with a lot more of a kick than Gaslight and I loved them for this. There was also a nice moment where Katie MF joined the band on stage to provide vocals for one of the tracks. The New Heat are going to very quickly make a big name for themselves amongst the London punk rock scene. Go check them out.


I have to admit I wasn't overly familiar with Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves before the gig but had heard good enough things to make me want to make the two hour journey to New Cross on a Monday night to check them out. I soon discovered the North Carolina based four piece play fast and aggressive gruff punk music. Think Red City Radio or Elway but with raspier vocals and played at a much faster pace. Now not knowing the songs makes the set kind of tricky to review but after every track I thought I need to check this one out again. This was definitely the type of punk rock I love and I really enjoyed their set. The small crowd didn't seem to put a dampener on their performance and, like the best punk rock bands, they put everything they had into the set. Taking the time to banter with the crowd between songs was a nice touch, this included a terribly hilarious joke about shopping malls. Wolves x 4 play the sort of punk rock that I love to sing along with and I imagine it's so good in a small room with a big crowd screaming along to every word. That's what I really wished this show was and it has me wanting to see them again – once I've learnt every word from the record I bought after the show, The Cross And The Switchblade. Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves are a great band who need your attention.


This, as always, was a great night of punk rock down at the New Cross Inn. It was a big shame there weren't a few more folks in attendance but each band killed it anyway and we had a wonderful time.

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

Friday, 14 September 2018

Top 5 Eat Defeat In Jokes That Were Never Funny To Begin With, Still Aren't Funny, and Are Less Funny Written Down in a Top 5 List


Ask touring bands what their favourite things about tour are and they'll probably lie and say something like 'everything is worth it for those 30/60/90 minutes on stage.' Those people are liars. The best thing about touring are the insane inside jokes you develop due to extended lengths of time spent sat in a confined space with other idiots who have decided this is the best way they can think of to spend their lives. The problem is, when this touring circus rolls into a whole new set of innocent, shielded people, the inside jokes don't exactly translate. So here are 5 classic examples of things that you won't find even remotely amusing.

5. Incessant MOOing
This is what inspired me to write this top 5 as it's something very fresh in my mind and I can recount the exact genesis and propagation of this total nonsense. It was on our most recent tour (as i'm writing this, tour finished yesterday and I'm currently on a ferry to pick up a band from Prague) and it all started with a pot of yoghurt and a few too many coffees. I know, rock n roll lifestyle or what? So we're playing a show at The Fulford Arms in York and we decide to nip out to the nearby Aldi to grab some snacks. As we're perusing the snack section, I'm totally drawn towards an obnoxiously sized personal yoghurt, the brand of which is 'MOO!' I'm feeling a bit nuts after a long day of sitting around drinking coffee and so I loudly announce to the supermarket that I'll be buying the MOOOOOOOOOOOO. This carries on at the checkout, it escalates to innocent shoppers leaving the store and it carries on throughout the van journey home. The next morning, I'm awoken by a video message from Jimmy which is simply him waking his poor sweet dog up by loudly and obnoxiously MOOOOOOOOOing at her. I then spend an entire journey to Glasgow MOOOOOOOOing whenever Jimmy looks like he's about to fall asleep and it goes so far as us encouraging the crowd at the gig later that evening to MOOOOO instead of applaud after every song. Again. I'm not saying it's funny. You shouldn't be laughing. What's wrong with us?

4. #GFY
We've been unfortunate enough over the years to tour in Germany with a ska punk band called La Familia. Terrible, beautiful people. I can't remember how it started, but every single exchange with any member of the band ended with 'go fuck yourself.' They graffiti'd bathroom stalls with poems dedicated to telling us to go fuck ourselves. They wrote a song called GFY. They won't leave us alone. Somehow, someone let them into England earlier in the year and they ended up playing a few shows with various friends of ours. So after the first show I receive a text message from a friend asking 'What did you guys do to upset a band called La Familia? They announced onstage that they hated you and that you should go fuck themselves.' Aachim (lead vocals/bass) was apparently even wearing an Eat Defeat hoodie whilst doing so, so this makes it even better. Anyway, fuck those guys. GFY.

3. The 'Eat Defeat' voice
If you've ever been a member of Eat Defeat or have filled in for us at any point (and quite a lot of people have, I counted 17 in total) then our impression of you is exactly the same. We developed it early on to mock an old guitarist who we kicked out (twice...) and the bullying has continued ever since. It's hard to describe the accent accurately, I think the closest example I can think of is, you know that bit in Spaced where Reece Shearsmith's character is mocking Tim and Mike and he says 'OH, A HADN'T THOUGHT OF THAT', well it's kind of like that. There's been a few awkward incidents in the van when we have guests where they've clearly stated 'So and so doesn't sound like that at all, that's not a very good impression.' To them I say, well, something mean in a silly voice. This one doesn't really translate to print.

2. Dickhead Day
Ugh. I don't know when it started. I think it was pre-Steve, so it's been a few years now. One day of a tour, we just decided we'd be fully horrible to each other. This included (but wasn't limited to) knocking pints out of each others hands, eating each other's food and playful amounts of physical violence. If it was Dickhead Day, anything was ok and nobody could get mad. It was like the purge, but for emotionally stunted adult males. It's become thankfully less frequent, but there were inklings of Dickhead Day being declared when we strangely ended up at the Fifa eWorld Cup on this past tour. It was arranged via Steve's workplace and we decided we'd do our best to show him up by pretending to be various outlandish characters. It was quelled by a rather forceful statement from Steve that 'IT'S NOT DICKHEAD DAY.'

1. The Cheetah Onesies
I think this one was on our last 'proper' UK tour and we were in the apex of our 'We love It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' phase. There was an episode that season where a gag was that Frank just randomly had 'the spots' and turned up towards the end of the episode as a 'man-cheetah.' Well, before a show at the Birds Nest in Deptford we decided to pay a visit to Lakeside (a big ol' shopping centre in Essex) and whilst in Primani we stumbled across a load of Cheetah onesies that were reduced. We decided it'd be HILARIOUS to buy them and play in them. That night I sweated from places I didn't even know I had. The worst part, though, was that then me and Jimmy decided to fully commit to the onesies, and wore them all tour. Not just onstage, but all day as well. This was like, night one of maybe a 2 week tour. We got some weird looks, but it got weirder when we fully embraced the aesthetic and drew whiskers and a black nose on. In a nice aside, we brought the onesies back for a mainland Euro tour a bit later on, and Jimmy injured himself at a gig in Aachen whilst wearing the onesie, and had to be taken to the Krankenhaus whilst fully dressed as a cheetah. I love tour.

Summers

This year Eat Defeat released the pop punk album of the year. Buy it here: https://itsalrighttonotbealright.com/

Like Eat Defeat here: https://www.facebook.com/EatDefeat/

Gig Review: Uniforms at the New Cross Inn 7/9/18


You know those days when you're feeling quite miserable for no actual reason and then something happens that absolutely makes your day? I had one of those a few weeks ago. Like I said I was feeling quite miserable for no actual reason, then I checked my phone and discovered that Dundee's Uniforms had been booked to play the New Cross Inn as part of their tour supporting their superb new EP Reasons To Breathe. I'd been waiting to see Uniforms for years before they played Manchester Punk Festival earlier this year and stole the show. The chance to see them again so soon after had me super excited and I couldn't wait.

Emma and I arrived at the New Cross with plenty of time to see the opening band of the night Modern Shakes. We were lucky enough to catch the London based three piece at Polite Riot Festival earlier in the summer and were really impressed by this new band. They play melodic pop punk music in the vein of bands like Dillinger Four and Banner Pilot. Modern Shakes were so good on this night, I can't wait for them to release their debut EP so I can sing along with these fantastic songs that they've written. Throughout the set Modern Shakes did introduce each song but I've completely forgotten the names and I'm not pro-journalist enough to write important things like that down. The highlight of the set was the penultimate song of their set though, that was a particular banger.


Up next were another new band on the scene - Crushed Veneer. Emma recently reviewed their EP for CPRW and really enjoyed it and from what I've heard of them I was expecting to enjoy their set too. Something I found interesting when they were setting up was how the bass player had his microphone stand set up not facing the crowd but instead slightly further back facing the drum kit. It makes for an interesting visual and allows him more room to bounce around the stage. I guess that's why he does it. Crushed Veneer played with plenty of energy and I particularly enjoyed the faster songs in their set which had some epic three part harmonies. It was clear for all to see how skilled Crushed Veneer are as a band and I'm expecting them to make a bigger and bigger name for themselves throughout the London punk scene.


Break-Ups don't play many shows anymore so I was quite looking forward to seeing them at this show. Unfortunately it turned out their drummer couldn't make the show so what we got instead was perhaps the most unique Break-Ups set ever. Fair play to Luke and Alfie for deciding to play the show as they pretty much winged their set with Luke playing guitar and the duo singing some Break-Ups songs. At times it was a bit haphazard but in truth that really added to the charm of the set. I would have loved to have seen full band Break-Ups but this was a nice little surprise and a lot of fun. Hopefully they'll have another show soon with an actual drummer.


Next it was time for Uniforms to play their first London show in five years and I couldn't have been more excited. I quickly made my way to the front of the stage to get the best possible view, alongside my buddy Tone from The Burnt Tapes, to see one of the UK scene's very best bands. We were treated to a half hour set of old Uniforms favourites as well as some new tracks from Reasons To Breathe. Uniforms’ music is filled with such an infectious energy that you immediately get caught up in their songs and live is truly when they're at their very best. They're a band who put everything they have into their live performance and it's an absolute pleasure to watch. The crowd, which unfortunately wasn't the biggest, were really into it with one chap in particular quite clearly having the time of his life. I was too, just in less of an alcohol influenced way. I enjoyed everything about Uniforms set but the two highlights were Pink Couch and brand new song Get Me Out Of Here which finishes with a great breakdown and this incredible and ferocious finale that works so brilliantly live. Uniforms are the best - thanks for getting back together and coming back down to London.


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