Monday, 17 December 2018

Emma’s Top Ten EPs and Top Ten Albums of 2018


2017 was a great year for music and 2018 has proved to be just as good, if not even better. This is great for your ears but not so good when it comes to putting together your end of year lists. I’m being slightly more ambitious/productive this year and writing about my Top Ten EPs as well as Top Ten Albums – last year I did Top Five EPs – so, please, read on…

Top Ten EPs of 2018

10. This Place Matters by The Capital


The Capital were one of my favourite live discoveries of 2018 when they played the New Cross Inn supporting Red City Radio back in July. They completely blew me – and most of the audience – away with their huge sound. Perhaps more rock ’n’ roll than punk rock, I’d liken them to Crazy Arm meets Pearl Jam. This Place Matters is five down-to-earth, relatable and singalong-able rock tunes played by a highly talented bunch of musicians – and did I mention singer Seamus Mcloughlin’s voice? So good!
Favourite song: This Place Matters

9. Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up


It’s no secret that we love The Run Up here at CPRW. We didn’t expect a new EP from the band so soon after their debut album (which was released last year) but were more than happy to lap it up. The Run Up play great singalong punk rock tunes about having the best of times with your friends, carrying on despite whatever struggles you may have and just generally finding the positive in any situation. Also, the band are such lovely chaps who always look like they’re so happy to just be able to play music together.
Favourite song: The Upside Of Being Down

8. Learning How To Lie by Katie MF


Like The Capital, Katie MF is another artist who wowed me when seeing her (and her band) live for the first time this year. Firstly, her voice is ridiculously good. Secondly, her anti-folk tunes with just the right amount of attitude and plenty of passion are right up my street. Learn How To Lie is the right balance of upbeat tunes and slower more heartfelt songs with themes ranging from politics to break ups. A very promising debut EP.
Favourite song: Feelgood Films

7. Reasons To Breathe by Uniforms


This recently reformed Scottish foursome released three excellent new tracks this year in the form of Reasons To Breathe. Before releasing said EP, they made a triumphant return at MPF – closing the whole festival with a raucous performance. I wasn’t too familiar with the Uniforms back catalogue before seeing them live but since Reasons To Breathe was released in August I’ve become a big fan. This is excellent slightly gruff, super melodic punk rock.
Favourite song: Get Me Out Of Here

6. Desire And The Need To Live by Crushed Veneer


I came across a London-based band called Crushed Veneer whilst browsing new punk stuff on Bandcamp. Their debut four track EP, Desire And The Need To Live, soon got added to my review list. Incidentally, I also saw them live shortly after discovering them supporting the aforementioned Uniforms – it was a great show all around. This EP is that perfect blend of punk rock with a country-tinged folk style that I love so much. There’s also hints of The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers in their sound which again is a big hit with me – with them being my two favourite bands and all.
Favourite song: Sew Me Up

5. 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything by Jake Martin


Jake Martin is a DIY singer songwriter who plays lively acoustic punk tunes and in 2018 he released a four track EP called 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything. I was originally drawn to the Dan Allen artwork but was really hooked in by the lyrics of Jake’s songs. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and, at times, violin or banjo, these songs have some important messages in their lyrical content – not wanting to lose another independent music venue to corporate giants, trying to live your life to the fullest and the difficulties of having a ‘normal life’ as a touring musician.
Favourite song: May Your Venue Never Die

4. 1,000 Daisies – Stöj Snak


If you read our end of year lists last year (and you have a good memory), you may recall that one of my absolute highlights in terms of live music was Danish band Stöj Snak’s performance at MPF. I was a fan of their album, ScreamerSongwriter, which was released in 2016 but after seeing the band live for the first time I was so keen for their next release. 1,000 Daisies was released in September to raise money to help save the 1000Fryd venue in Denmark. The three tracks are each quite different in sound with subject matters ranging from supporting independent live music (similar to Jake Martin in fact) to political frustration – all top stuff. Stöj Snak returning to MPF next year and I am super excited to see them again.
Favourite song: 1,000 Daisies

3. TRVTH by O’Holy Ghost


O’Holy Ghost were a band I had been following for a little while before the release of their debut EP, TRVTH, in July. It was a debut that I was very much looking forward to and so when CPRW got sent an early copy, I quickly snapped it up for myself. I was not disappointed by these six songs, in fact I was maybe even a little bit surprised just how much I loved it. O’Holy Ghost play emotional and passionate punk rock that has you wanting to sing along instantly. Unfortunately I haven’t seen them live since this EP was released but I can’t wait to sing the lines ‘Well don’t say that it’s over, When the pen has run dry and you scream, Just one more verse.’ from I Am Jinx back at the band when I do catch them again.
Favourite song: Across The Pond

2. The White Album EP by The All Brights


There’s quite a contrast between my number two and number one EPs this year. The White Album EP by The All Brights is not a particularly serious piece of punk rock but it is a collection of insanely catchy and ridiculously fun pop punk tunes. With songs about hanging out with your pals at the beach, love in the age of social media and instant messaging, a paddleboarder being bullied by some surfers and a boat-buying themed break-up, The All Brights are a band that definitely don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re also amazing musicians and the lyrics, although mostly silly, are actually quite cleverly written. There’s also one ska/reggae song amongst the pop punk which shouldn’t work but oh my gosh it does.
Favourite song: Stand Up Pat L. Board

1. Misery-Punk Ruined My Life by Goodbye Blue Monday


And so we go from cheery fun times to the miserableness that is Goodbye Blue Monday. But misery is what they do best and the three song EP, Misery-Punk Ruined My Life, is so fucking good – note the swear word for extra emphasis. I guess the only bad thing about this EP is that it only consists of three songs but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to those three songs on repeat. A lot. There’s no shying away from the fact that Goodbye Blue Monday’s lyrics are pretty dark, twisted and brutally honest but it’s all wrapped up with infectious melodies and beats that will have you smiling despite the apparent unhappiness. I had no doubts about making this my number one. The lines ‘I tried to write a miserable song, But the chords hit a stroke and it came out wrong, Lock it up lock it up with a major key, So nobody can understand the misery.’ pretty much sums up Goodbye Blue Monday. I can’t wait for their debut full-length release… whenever that may be!
Favourite song: Misery-Punk Ruined My Life


Top Ten Albums of 2018

10. For The Sake Of The Bit by Elway


When it comes to singalong-able gruff punk rock, there are not many bands better than Colorado four piece Elway. After seemingly disappearing for a while, they were back in April this year with eight brand new songs. For The Sake Of The Bit features a selection of melodic, mid-tempo and faster punk rock tunes that will have you wanting to sing along with the band from your first listen. The songs are honest, bitterly nostalgic and heart-felt with Tim’s excellent storytelling lyrics setting quite the scene in your head. There’s also some shredding guitar moments that would give Red City Radio a run for their money.
Favourite song: Inches

9. Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour


Derrick Johnston – the person who features in both my top EPs (Uniforms) and top albums list this year. Aphorisms is Tragical History Tour’s debut album and it was, well, quite a long time coming. Thankfully it was well worth the wait – even better than I expected, in fact. This is an album of brutally honest and personal, raw country/folk punk songs. Covering some pretty tricky subjects in his lyrics, there is a darkness to the whole album but there is also a light that shines through and proves that there is also a great positivity to Tragical History Tour. ‘If I make it through the day, I swear to you I will change my ways, All I need is to hear you say, “You’re not alone”, Give me strength now to be strong, And together we can conquer anything.’
Favourite song: Three Two

8. How To Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope


I hadn’t really listened to Camp Cope properly until they released The Opener last year. I was absolutely hooked on the track so when it, appropriately, turned out to be the first song on their second album How To Socialise & Make Friends, which was released in March this year, I was keen to hear what followed. I liked the album after a few listens but it was seeing the trio live in September that really had me sold on these songs. As I said in my live review, Camp Cope’s songs are more thought-provoking and powerful than particularly upbeat or lively – it’s the lyricism that really makes this album a great one.
Favourite song: The Opener

7. Reach Out by New Town Kings


I didn’t really expect an album that’s more ska/reggae than punk rock to make its way into my top ten albums of 2018 but Reach Out by Colchester’s New Town Kings is just that good. Colin reviewed the album back in the spring and it had me dancing around the living room singing ‘Mango, papaya and tangerine…’ and other such fun lyrics. It was a great album to listen to over the summer and I had it on repeat a lot when I just wanted something catchy, fun and happy to listen to. That said, not all the songs are cheery. There are plenty of tracks with more serious subject matter that make you think but what holds it all together is this band’s incredible musicianship.
Favourite song: Why You Always Take

6. Roundabouts by Spoilers


Having only listened to this album in early November, Roundabouts by Spoilers is probably the latest entry into my end of year lists but I guess that just means that I was very quickly hooked on it. I didn’t actually realise until I decided to review the album myself that this was Spoilers’ first full-length release – I figured they’d been going for years! There’s something for all types of punk fan here, from pounding drums, fast guitar riffage and punchy, aggressive vocal sections to upbeat poppy melodies and infectiously catchy choruses. Spoilers really have a knack for writing immensely catchy, feel-good tunes, even if they aren’t always entirely feel-good subjects and I love it.
Favourite song: The Same Again

5. Salvation by The Penske File


Before Salvation was released at the beginning of this year, my main experience of The Penske File was Colin singing the ever so catchy line ‘I wrote a book.’ (from their song Damned on their previous album Burn Into The Earth) over and over and over again. I got pretty sick of it to be honest – Colin’s singing, not The Penske File – but was very excited to hear Salvation, particularly after they were likened to both The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers on this very blog. The music that I like the best is that which I can sing along to and ultimately lose my voice to. Throw some catchy hooks, multiple vocalists and a bit of harmonica into the mix and I’m well and truly sold. That’s what I love about Salvation and The Penske File.
Favourite song: Golden Futures

4. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs


This is where things get tough because the next four albums are all, in my eyes, deserving of being my number one album of the year. It feels like a crime to put Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs at number four in my list when this is the band I have literally obsessed over in 2018 – I guess it just goes to show how good the next three are. From start to finish, Schmaltz is a masterpiece of heart-on-your-sleeve, honest punk rock. For the most part, these are sad songs but the feeling of catharsis that I get from singing along to them at the top of my lungs makes me happy. I was a big fan of SLS’s first album, Giant Sings The Blues, but hearing songs from Schmaltz played live for the first time this year (on two separate occasions) has convinced me how much of a step up these songs are for the band. I feel I could go on and on but I still have three more albums to rant about…
Favourite song: The Boy Considers His Haircut

3. I Was Broken When I Got Here by Call Me Malcolm


And then there’s Call me Malcolm – the band who have a song that is basically a tribute to the New Cross Inn ska punk scene, of which myself and Colin play a small part in. But it’s not just All My Nameless Friends that kicks butt on this album, the whole thing is a triumph in ska punk and it simply becomes more addictive the more you listen to it. Talking about mental health has become more common in punk in general but I think not so much in the world of ska punk. For Call Me Malcolm to really open up about this somewhat taboo topic is incredibly important. They team this honesty up with insanely catchy horn lines and hooks that have me dancing like no other band – Colin insists I have a Malcolm specific dance move that I only crack out when seeing this band live. Call Me Malcolm deserve all of the hype and praise for I Was Broken When I Got Here. It is my SKA punk album of the year, even if not technically my overall number one – I know it will be for plenty of others.
Favourite song: All My Nameless Friends

2. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat


When Eat Defeat played with Rehasher at the New Cross Inn last month I was definitely more excited to see the Leeds foursome play than Roger from Less Than Jake. If Call Me Malcolm released the ska punk album of 2018 then Eat Defeat released the pop punk album of 2018 in the form of I Think We’ll Be OK. I’m not really a big user of the term ‘banger’ but ever there was an album full of bangers this is it. It’s not only full of snappy, melodic, fast pop punk tunes but it also spreads a great message of optimism and positivity. It’s not just the song Smile that has me smiling but the entire 31 minutes of the album – I wish it was longer in fact but that’s pop punk for you. I feel like, of all the albums on this list, this is maybe the one that I know the most words to and sing along to the most – although it does help that everything is so darn catchy. I liked Eat Defeat before I Think We’ll Be Okay but it feels like they really stepped things up a notch with this release. Eat Defeat are the best.
Favourite song: Not Today, Old Friend

1. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays


Way back in January of this year, I stumbled across an Australian folk punk band’s debut album on Bandcamp called This Is For You. To say I was blown away by it wouldn’t even begin to do it justice. Put it this way – I knew that, despite it being only the first month of the year, this album would almost definitely be my album of the year come December. And wow, the competition has been tough. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays is an album of emotional and genuine songs that are equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking. The lyrics are a real highlight – I want nothing more than to be able to belt them back at the band when they’re playing live. These lines in particular: ‘We’ll sing these songs for the broken hearted, To help them find their way, We’ll raise a glass for the dearly departed, We’ll carry on the fight screaming their names.’ Unfortunately I won’t ever get to do that. Not just because the band is from Australia but, the sad thing is, The Suicide Tuesdays broke up back in the summer. If just one person goes and checks out This Is For You after reading this then I’ll be happy. It’s so damn good and it deserve more attention.
Favourite song: Leave Us Be

Honorable mentions:
City Of Strangers by Five Minute Major, Traverse by Traverse, Fight The Good Fight by The Interrupters and Awareness Songs & Side Stories by We Bless This Mess. Plus Authority Zero in general because not only did they release a brand new album, Persona Non Grata, just a few weeks ago (that I still need to listen to some more but I think it’s pretty darn great from what I have heard) but also because I stupidly missed them off my 2017 albums of the year list yet Broadcasting To The Nations is one of my most-played albums this year – I was late to the party.

Fin!

These top tens were written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

News: Boxing Day To Release New EP On Boxing Day.


Belgium based emo/pop punk band Boxing Day are getting set to release their second EP on you guessed it, the 26th of December - Boxing Day. Titled Retrospect, the two track EP is being released by the always awesome Real Ghost Records.


Since forming in 2016 Boxing Day have shared the stage with bands such as No Trigger, Not On Tour, F.O.D. and Nowhere, impressing crowds with their beautifully depressing and yet catchy songs. You can pre-order Retrospect from Real Ghost Records here.


Top Tens: Fastfade's Top Ten Moments So Far


10. Call Me Malcolm, Fastfade & Shark Party @ Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe
We got offered a chance to play up in High Wycombe with Call Me Malcolm and Shark Party. There was a small turnout as is sometimes the case with these local punk shows but it ended up being one of our more enjoyable gigs. We got a chance to hang out with Call Me Malcolm and see them play a bunch of their new songs, we smashed a few locals at pool and got heckled by an old geezer named Darren at the bar who was just trying to enjoy his pint.

9. Müg, The Burnt Tapes, Ships Down, Triple Sundae, Cereal Box Heroes, Fastfade @ New River Studios, London
This absolute beast of a line-up was organised by Hassan Afaneh in the early days of Fastfade and it plunged us right into the scene where we pretty much hung out with all the local Umlaut Records/Be Sharp people for the first time. This show was a turning point for us because it revealed something to us that we had thought unlikely; that there was a fresh, energetic and punk rock scene alive and well in London and it had some really awesome bands in it. We also spent some time eating pizza, skating outside the venue with a bunch of people – Ryan even took it upon himself to ollie over our good pals in No Insight. RIP SHIPS DOWN.


8. Rehasher, Eat Defeat & Fastfade weekender
Recently we spent a weekend playing shows with Roger Lima’s Rehasher and one of the best bands in the UK scene right now – Eat Defeat. After the very intimate Brighton show at Sticky Mike’s, we smashed a few beers and scoffed a bunch of pizzas back at Ryan’s place before heading to New Cross Inn where Joe unleashed his inner fanboy and stage-invaded Eat Defeat’s set, signing their song “Nothing’s Wrong”. That weekend was one we’ll never forget; playing with our childhood hero Roger Lima and getting the chance to hang with the lads in Eat Defeat.

7. Filming the Walkie Talkie music video
We wanted to release a video with our first single, ‘Walkie Talkie”, from our upcoming album, ‘Happy If You Aren’t’. We decided to chuck some equipment in Ryan’s spare room and do a standard performance-type video to go along with the song but it quickly devolved into a contest of who could do the stupidest thing on camera for some alternate B-roll footage. We chucked a toaster in the drum kit, kickflipped off an amp and, finally, covered Jake in flour and bread while he was in the shower. See more here.

6. Local Heroes
Some of the best times we’ve had come from the discovery of local bands that give us some really good vibes about the future of the scene. Our time as a band has seriously affected our music tastes for good. It’s quite possible that Joe will be banging out Eat Defeat and Call Me Malcolm until he’s in his late 60s, Ryan will still have Triple Sundae’s ‘Peace of Mind’ EP and Cereal Box Heroes’ ‘Frier’ on repeat even when CDs become obsolete and Jake would rather die than wash his Aerial Salad sweatshirt. The best part about playing around the country with different punk bands is that we have discovered artists that will stick with us for a very long time. Some other honourable mentions Cereal Box Heroes, Saving Sebastian, Müg, SKIV, The SLM, Captain Trips, Sub-Grunk, Negative Measures, The Burnt Tapes and EAT DIRT.

5. International Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to play with a bunch of international bands that simply know how to party different. Back in April we somehow managed to get on a bill with Waterweed (JPN), Rebuke (SWE), Antillectual (NL) and Forever Unclean (DE). (Thanks to Paul Smith.) It was definitely a great feeling to be chosen as the only UK band on that line-up full of international skate punk heavyweights. We’ve had a bunch of shows like this, with the opportunity to play with bands from all over the world such as Counterpunch, Straightline, The Overjoyed, Circus Rhapsody, Fluffy Machine, Trophy Jump, FOD, For I Am and Main Line 10.


4. Joe’s ankle
Just before a relatively long string of gigs, Joe decided to let Jack from Brighton hardcore powerhouses Negative Measures absolutely obliterate his ankle in the pit. After the substances wore off, Joe realised it was serious and went to a doctor. He had to play the next few gigs in a cast with crutches but, while it was a blow to our on-stage energy, it gave us something to talk about and he still smashed out every song – and, despite medical advice, he managed to get on his feet and even jump around a bit for the last few shows with the cast. A true hero.


3. Three gigs in 48 Hours
This is why we need an agent. We somehow managed to book three shows over the course of 48 hours with a show in High Wycombe, then an acoustic set at Sussex Uni and then another show in Hastings the same day. Needless to say the three of us discovered the limits of our endurance that weekend. Functioning on about 2 hours sleep after being reprimanded by beach police for urinating in the Brighton sea at 4am, we somehow managed to play the two shows the next day. We very nearly left Joe in a Hastings car park because he was literally unresponsive and legally deceased. He literally looked like this:


Joe somehow got a second (maybe fourth) wind after being soaked in water and slapped a couple of times and we smashed a quick set before watching Spoilers (who were sick!).

2. Hearing our album
Since we started tracking our album ‘Happy if You Aren’t’ in January this year, receiving the final masters was a long awaited moment for us. Mark Bell did an excellent job getting a sound that we were all proud of and that we felt did our songs justice. Hearing some of the songs we demoed back in Ryan’s garage 2015 turn into songs that sounded tight, rich and heavy was an amazing experience. We are all super proud of how these songs came out and can’t wait for people to hear them on December 14th. None of us had ever recorded an album before so it was a fresh and educational experience for all of us from start to finish.


1. Strawfest 2018 w/ Lyon Estates, No Insight
This summer our good friends Lyon Estates from York threw their annual Strawfest and asked us to play. This completely unique festival takes place on Rich Harrison’s farm in rural Yorkshire. The barn that the stage was set up in was the biggest space we have ever played. The event was so well organised with a pool, barbeques, food and drinks – it was just great vibes all round. Playing a venue with a pool outside isn’t something that happens very often for us so this was definitely a unique experience, one that Ryan didn’t take for granted as he ran off stage mid set for a quick swim only to return and get water all over the stage. This is why we bring wet floor signs to gigs. Just in case. We also got to have a go in John Wace’s (Lyon Estates) DeLorean.


Pre-order Happy If You Aren't here: www.umlautrecords.co.uk

Like Fastfade here: https://www.facebook.com/fastfade/

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Album Review: Persona Non Grata by Authority Zero (by Dan Peters)


Wow. It feels like only last year I was writing up a frankly glowing review of an Authority Zero album. Wait, that’s because it was only last year I wrote up a review for Broadcasting to the Nations. BttN was a truly stellar outing, with at least five of my now all time favourite Authority Zero songs. With such an incredibly strong offering still on heavy rotation in my personal playlists, it feels like it’s incredibly early to be able to review another album but this is the situation I find myself in. So bear with me whilst xmas comes early and I dive into a brand new suite of songs by the champions of the modern punk scene.


Persona Non Grata is what I’d consider an “all rounder” in terms of the directions Authority Zero can swing. From the opening A Blind Eye things are dripping with all the charm and charisma that you’d expect from Authority Zero without straying too far to the extremes of punk or ska too often – reggae crooner Shake The Ground followed by 49 second hardcore smasher Mush Mouth being the exception here – and they find a comfortable middle ground on the album as a whole. Those of you hoping to find an album as ska heavy as Broadcasting might be a little disappointed with stats like that but, honestly, it doesn’t matter since there’s far too much to love here to worry about the amount of upstrokes rolling your way.

There’s a lot to love track wise here, we’re talking all killer for the 12 track runtime. If I had to twist my arm and pick out some standouts – which of course I will because otherwise this review would just be a giant thumbs-up emoji – I would go for title track Person Non Grata, which is very Strung Out-y in composition so, of course, I’m instantly in love with it. The Bright Side which is probably the fastest song on the album is fun as hell. And straight after that Back From The Dead which is probably the ska punkest song available and something I find myself skanking to even though I’m sat down while listening to it!!!

I’m never unhappy to have new AZ to listen to but I can imagine some of you thinking it’s a little quick to come out and if you already own Broadcasting you may be wondering if there’s enough different here for you. Well, production wise things are very similar which I’d say should be fairly obvious considering the two record's proximity to one another. That is not a bad thing of course, both album are beautiful sounding, with everything feeling massive and Jason's voice is to die for. Style wise I’d say the last record was far more specialised while this, as mentioned, travels a more rounded path. Both are their own beasts though and both are unmissable.

In conclusion, Authority Zero have outdone themselves twice in two years and Persona Non Grata is something that had better be on your xmas lists because it’s an instant classic.

Stream and download Persona Non Grata here: https://thousandislandsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/persona-non-grata

Like Authority Zero here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorityZero/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Album Review: Happy If You Aren't by Fastfade


Before last year's release of Roach, Aerial Salad were the north's best punk rock secret. Then Roach came out and the three piece became one of the most popular new bands throughout the entire country. Down south we have our own best kept punk rock secret who, like Aerial Salad, are just about to release an album that all the punks will soon be talking about. That band is London/Brighton super fast skate punks Fastfade. This three piece, Ryan on guitar and vocals, Joe on bass and Jake on drums, have been steadily gaining themselves a reputation of being one of the south's best young bands with their chaotic live performances and Captain Everything inspired songs. On December the 14th, Fastfade release their debut full length Happy If You Aren't through Umlaut Records and I'm expecting it to catapult them to big things.


Happy If You Aren't begins with the song Walkie Talkie which had a video released for it last month. This song so perfectly encapsulates what Fastfade are all about. Fast guitars, fast drums, fast vocals, fast harmonies but so much melody. These guys channel an era of punk rock I'm not sure they were even alive for and do it oh so well. Time Stuck is about exactly what you'd probably expect given its title, feeling as if time is standing still and that you're going around in circles. The song does lack a bit of the melody that featured so heavily in Walkie Talkie but certainly it has lots more intensity. Musically it's so stabby, every note is short and to the point which creates an interesting sound. Ryan's skill on guitar really shines at the start of track number three, Idiot. This is one of those crazy fast songs that just blow you away – I get breathless just listening to it. I do wonder if when these guys reach their thirties will they still be able to play songs at this pace. The energy that omits from the gang vocals and harmonies is so wonderfully infectious and I find myself smiling like an idiot the entire way through the song. From Idiot we move onto Weirdo. Weirdo is much more of a sing-along punk number. Joe's superb bass playing is featured heavily during the verse, in essence taking the lead on the track. When we reach the chorus it's time for us all to join the band in a sing-along. It seems as if Fastfade have taken a leaf from their Umlaut buddies The Burnt Tapes and Triple Sundae with this more mid-tempo approach to their style.

The fifth track on the album is title Will. This bouncy skate punk song surprisingly features some ska upstrokes – is this Joe's attempt to get some attention from his "dad", Paul from Be Sharp Promotions? As you might expect from a Fastfade song, it's a lot of fun and will get you dancing away pretty quickly. A big feature of the Fastfade sound is the use of gang vocals to finish off sentences. This really does a magnificent job of making sure every line hits home. Negative is an older Fastfade song that first featured on the band's first EP Simple Ideals. Re-recorded and remastered for Happy If You Aren't, it has a much fuller sound and going back and listening to the original you can really see how far Jake and Ryan have come along as musicians (Joe wasn't in Fastfade for the original release). I do love hearing a band's progression. Sub Motive is a track that is only just over a minute in length but Fastfade go all out to fit everything that they can into it. It feels like a perfect song to create a circle pit to (if you're into that kind of thing). It doesn't really slow down and it's not so long that you're likely to run out of breath midway through the track.

Seatbelt is a kind of a forty five second building introduction to the following song, Blunt, which also features on Simple Ideals. I believe that Blunt is the first song that Fastfade ever wrote and is a fan favourite when they play live. This is a wonderful piece of early 90s-style pop punk where you can easily hear Fastfade's blink-182 and Green Day influences. There's also a riff midway through the song that really reminds me of No Use For A Name that caught my ear. The final lines of "It's something, it's nothing, I'm telling you we'll be just fine, believe me, I've been there, we'll find another way in time" ensure that the song finishes on positive note. Frontside is a song of two styles, at times sharp and punchy but effortlessly switching to some of the most melodic parts of the entire album. This works well with the theme of the song being mental health and how sometimes things are lovely and sometimes they really aren't. As soon as I heard the opening riffs on the eleventh song, Passtime, I instantly thought of NOFX. Then Ryan's vocals hit, seemingly doing his best Billie Joe Armstrong impression before some big Bad Religion-esque oozinn-ahhs add another layer to the sound. This is going to be one of those songs that I'll listen to a hundred times and continue to find new things I enjoy about it.

Head First is the longest track on Happy If You Want. It's four minutes long which in Fastfade terms is a marathon length song. I listened to this song on repeat for about twenty minutes trying to figure out who it reminds me of and it finally clicked. Chicago pop punk heroes Allister (who happen to be one of my all time favourites), but really old school era Allister – Dead Ends And Girlfriends era Allister. The whole tone of the song has a bit of an older school feeling to it which I really enjoyed. It really took me back to the late 90s/early 2000s when I was just finding pop punk music. The penultimate song on the album is Sink Or Swim which is a cover of the band No Thanx To Paul. I have no idea who No Thanx To Paul are so obviously have no knowledge of the song but I enjoyed what seems like a heavier style from Fastfade. It's pretty relentless throughout with Jake's immense drumming really shining through. Finally we finish with what was my favourite song from the last Fastfade EP, Slingshot. For me, this if Fastfade at their best – fast, bouncy and wonderfully catchy. There's plenty that stands out on the track – the excellent guitar riffs, the hard hitting chorus, the delightful bass solo and that exceptional chorus that'll be ringing in your ears for days.

This is such a good debut full length from Fastfade. As I said at the beginning of this review, these young men are the London punk scene's best kept secret. This won't be the case now. I'd expect to see them popping up all over the country playing shows based on the strength of Happy If You Aren't. I predict that 2019 is going to be some year for Ryan, Jake and Joe.

Pre-order Happy If You Aren't here: www.umlautrecords.co.uk

Like Fastfade here: https://www.facebook.com/fastfade/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 10 December 2018

News: Airstream Futures and Mean Caesar UK Tour


Little Rocket Records bands Airstream Futures and Mean Caesar are hitting the road together in January. Mean Caesar released their debut EP back in October and Airstream Futures released a brand new 7" Single titled If I / PR Nightmares in July. Check out the details of the tour below.

Thu - 17/01 - Le Pub - Newport
Frid - 18/01 - New Cross Inn - London
Sat - 19/01 - Cavern Club - Exeter
Sun - 20/01 - Mothers Ruin - Bristol
Mon - 21/01 - Conroy’s Basement - Dundee
Tue - 22/01 - Bannermans - Edinburgh
We - 23/01 - Wharf Chambers - Leeds
Thu - 24/01 - The Cherry Moon Shop - Bolton
Fri - 25/01 - Old Town House - Warrington
Sat - 26/01 - Mama Liz’s - Stamford
Sun - 27/01 - The Fighting Cocks - Kingston

Airstream Futures is a rock/punk/alternative band from Chicago, Illinois. The members are Devon Carson (vocals), Jeff Dean (guitar, vocals), Katie Karpowicz (bass), and Michael Soucy (drums).

Airstream Futures recorded a full-length album, Spirale Infernale, released via Paper + Plastick Records in December, 2017. In May, 2018, they self-released a limited-edition cassette, En Avoir Marre, with 2 LP songs, 1 studio outtake, and 3 unreleased live songs recorded at Liars Club in Chicago. This 7” vinyl release is a limited edition of 300 random coloured vinyl available via Little Rocket Records with new songs If I and PR Nightmares.

The tracks were recorded by Guitarist Jeff dean and the record produced by Derek Grant from Alkaline Trio and Rodrigo Palma from Saves the Day.

Airstream Futures has performed in the UK, Canada, and many U.S. cities with bands such as The Descendants, Pegboy, Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, and The Bollweevils. Airstream Futures is scheduled to perform this October at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida and most recently at Montreal's premier Festival Pouzza.

The Single is available here:
https://airstreamfutureslrr.bandcamp.com/

Video: Airstream Futures - If I
https://youtu.be/h-Jh19YJPrA

Devon said - The song is about the fight against depression and anxiety, wanting to do all the things you love but can’t. It’s a war in your brain and body, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Video Credit - Derek Grant (Alkaline Trio)

https://airstreamfutureslrr.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/airstreamfutures/

South London juggernauts Mean Caesar have been tearing their way through the grimiest clubs and loudest bars South of the river since the start of 2018. Their debut EP, self-titled ‘Mean Caesar’, deals with London’s darker side and personal loss, attaining nosebleed-reaching dimensions. Asserting an amplified, technically informed, yet polish-free style, the band proves their punk mastery while retaining all of their raw, buzzed-out power.

Opening for the likes of Red City Radio, Apologies, I Have None and The Copyrights, vocalist Danny Lester, guitarists Oliver Ward and David Littlefair, bassist Stu Henson and drummer Stu Morrison have spent their time in the practice room studying the controlled power of their mentors. For the self-titled debut, their goal was to make the music “hooky as hell, with an urgency to it,” as frontman Lester says, and they tasked veteran post-hardcore engineer Joe Watson with helping them achieve a muscular bite. In typical fashion of their former bands, the music rejects any hints of pretention.

First single ‘South London Summer ‘epitomizes this; an insatiable sharpness of a track, about finding a gang where you feel at home. “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 / We’d toast our failures in the park and wonder reckless streets in the dark,” Lester croons on the rampageous track.

Get the EP here –
https://meancaesarlrr.bandcamp.com/

Video – South London Summer –
https://youtu.be/cLHfPu5Gp28

Album Review: Entropic by Hit The Switch (by Dan Peters)


Another month goes by and another band who’ve had a massive hiatus have laid a brand new offering at our feet. In this instance it’s skate punk aficionados Hit The Switch. After a seven year hibernation, the band are back and, not only that, they are on a label that brings joy to my heart with every offering – Bird Attack. With a glowing endorsement like that, I’m going into this review with open arms and the volume up max.


So an entire minute of intro clip seems a little excessive even to someone like me who loves that sort of thing but once that 1 minute mark is passed you’ll be treated to the blisteringly fast riffage and supersonic drumming you’d expect from the band (or you’d expect from a Bird Attack band if this is your first foray into Hit The Switch). ‘Perigee’ seems to deliberately take the 90s skate punk formula and runs with it wholeheartedly with abandon.

Entropic, as a whole, is very much a genre album which will likely, by its nature, be a little divisive. If, on the one hand, if you’re a bit of a skate punk purist and find it difficult to listen to anything without double time drumming then this is an album created especially for you. The template here is very strictly adhered to, if you love that template then this is 30 odd minutes of joy in a bottle. An unending speed trip with chugging guitars, high octane solos and Matt Hawks’ old school melodic vocals. However, if listening to the fastest Strung Out, NUFAN and Lagwagon songs on repeat doesn’t sound like your idea of heaven this may be difficult to get all the way through.

That’s not to say that even if you’re not a diehard there’s not real gems in here that I can’t imagine anyone loving. ‘Down and Out’ is an absolute belter from start to finish and is the track on the album I’ve come to love the most out of the whole record. ‘North Star’ is another cracking tune, with one of the coolest punk solos I’ve heard in a while on it.

Entropic is an album that wants to travel down a very narrow path, and if you’re a fan of that path then you’re going to love this, because it’s start to finish high grade super fast skate punk excellence. But don’t expect any deviation on your way through.

Stream and download Entropic here: https://birdattackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/entropic

Like Hit The Switch here: https://www.facebook.com/hittheswitch.music/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Gig Review: Junior Battles at New River Studios 3/12/18


So you're full of the world's worst ever cold, you've had a late one the night before because of a gig, you have a busy day at work… the sensible thing to do is to stay in, watch Liam Bakes and get an early night, right? Yeah. Not me though, I decide to head straight to London from work for another gig. The gig in question was one that I felt like I couldn't miss but almost did. The gig in question was Junior Battles’ first ever UK show. It was originally scheduled for Friday the 16th of November, I excitedly brought my ticket and waited patiently. Then I sadly had to bail because Emma had to have her wisdom teeth taken out that day and I had to nurse her back to health. Then as luck would have it, for me at least, Junior Battles had to cancel the show due to a cancelled flight meaning they wouldn't make it to London in time. This meant that the show would be rescheduled to Monday the 3rd of December. This would be the fourth gig from new London promoter Gold Soul Theory Promotions, formed by Hassan Afaneh of Triple Sundae. Taking place at the awesome New River Studios in North London with support being provided by Triple Sundae, The Run Up and Sugar Rush, this was sure to be a great night despite me feeling like death.

I arrived at New River Studios halfway through Sugar Rush's set. I wasn't at all aware of the band's sound before the gig and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Catchy indie pop pun tunes with multiple vocalists and plenty of charisma and charm. Tackling a variety of social issues, it felt like Sugar Rush really were trying to inspire the crowd with their music which was great. Midway through, drummer Laura and guitarist Marcello swapped instruments to finish the set. The set was finished with a great song with the hook "everything's fine, nothing is fucked" which was a delightfully optimistic way to finish things up for Sugar Rush.

Next to take to the stage were London punks Triple Sundae who were making their final London appearance of the year. 2018 has been a good year for Triple Sundae with the release their EP Peace Of Mind on Umlaut Records, supporting the likes of Red City Radio, Consumed, Guttermouth and Pkew Pkew Pkew and getting out of London and playing more shows around the UK. Things are looking bright for these guys! Not a band to rest on their laurels, Triple Sundae have recently been in the studio working on a new EP and they treated us to some new songs from it. These new songs – wow! I loved Peace Of Mind (spoiler alert: it is going to be on my top ten EPs of 2018) but these new tracks blow them out of the water. These are melodic gruff punk rock beauties that really accentuate Hassan's amazing vocal. Also, shout out to guitarist Mike's energy on stage – never staying still for a moment and even popping out a couple of perfectly executed Busted jumps.

Bristol five piece The Run Up have been tour support for Junior Battles for the entirety of the tour. If you're familiar with The Run Up, you will know about their terrible luck with vans. On this tour they managed to use four different ones. It's a long and complicated story, if you ever catch them live – which you should – ask them about it. Because of the issue with vans, normal Run Up drummer Harry ended up not being able to make it to London for the show but a couple of members of the Junior Battles line up stood in to ensure that the show could go on – what fine chaps! At the end of the spring, The Run Up released a brand new EP titled Good Friends, Bad Luck which I thought was their finest release yet. This was the the first chance I've had to hear these songs live and boy was I impressed. Largely tackling the topic of friendship, the songs work so great live when you are surrounded by a group of your buddies. The big highlight for me, and at every Run Up gig, is when they played Learning Loss. Hilariously lead singer Larry (and not stand in drummer Glenn) messed up the start of the song so began to sing on the first chorus, as did I despite my cold attempting to kill me. It's always so great to see The Run Up live, I can't wait for the next time.

I now have to admit I'm not overly familiar with Junior Battles. I'd heard of them and knew I enjoyed the music that I had listened to so was expecting to really have a great time seeing these four Canadians live. Playing energetic sing-along pop punk songs, it wasn't long before a lot of clearly hardcore fans who were so excited to finally these chaps. There were a couple of nice moments where first Larry joined them for one song and towards the end of the set The Run Up's Charlie, Lawrence and Dan joined them on guitar for a song. It's clear that a big friendship has been built up through the tour which is always just so lovely to see. I did end up ducking out of the gig a little early because I was starting to feel pretty much dead on my feet but I was so impressed with Junior Battles and will definitely be listening to them properly and hoping they find their way back to the UK again.

This was a great night and I'm glad I forced myself to go despite feeling so unwell. A massive amount of love to Gold Soul Theory Promotions and the bands for making this happen despite the difficulties with travel.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Top Tens: The Capital's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


Rob (drums and vocals)

Beatsteaks – Limbo Messiah
This album is the perfect entry to discover one of your new favourite bands. Since it came out in 2007, they’ve definitely been my favourite band! Beatsteaks are everything that’s right about a band. Melodic, creative, boundaryless, fun, humble and incredible live. Limbo Messiah captures these traits and their personality perfectly. "As I Please" is a brilliant opener. By the time the drums come in, you already know you’re going to make it all the way to the end of the album.

Crazy Arm – Born To Ruin
When you hear your friends new album/EP for the first time, you hope it’s going to be good enough to not have to lie about it. I’m sure our friends know that feeling well!!! On this occasion, our friends in Crazy Arm had genuinely created one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Perfection from start to finish. You’ll blow your voice out singing along to it and lose count of how many times you punch the air. Not much else to say really. If you’re a fan of music, it’s impossible not to be a fan of this record.

Andy (guitar and vocals)

Audio Karate – Lady Melody
This album is incredible from start to finish. The song ‘Hey Maria’ resonates with me on so many levels. Musically, lyrically and production-wise it has it all for me. There is a raw emotion throughout the album which never gets old. I was so inspired by the vocal takes on Hey Maria that I wrote to the singer (Yeah, I know.) and struck up a conversation about music production. He wrote back with such appreciation and explained that, even though he’d recorded the vocals to this song already, the producer demanded that he re-record the vocals precisely ‘because’ his voice was worn out. Listen to the song with this in mind and I think you’ll agree it was a good move. Unbelievable song, classic album.

Cave In – Antenna
A timeless classic which is both unique and inspiring. I can’t explain why but this album somehow bends the rules. The song ‘Inspire’ has everything; an enormous riff that even a neck-brace wouldn’t hold back the frowning nod and a chorus which would make any band jealous. I was devastated to hear the tragic news of Caleb Scofield’s passing, but his lyrics, vocal melodies and basslines will inspire me forever.

Scott (bass guitar and vocals)

Fighting With Wire – Man vs Monster
Sad to see this band disappear after being held back by their label. After signing with Atlantic, they seemed like they were destined for the big time, but had their sophomore album release delayed and delayed until the strain broke up the band. But their amazing debut record is full of massive riffs and a distinctively dirty guitar tone. It's a passionate record that should have seen them achieve far wider recognition.

Sparta – Porcelain
A great record that strikes the ideal balance between Sparta's punk roots and more artistic ambitions. "While Oceana Sleeps" in particular has everything – atmosphere, raw passion, beautiful lyrics and one of the best bass-driven verses ever written.

Seamus (lead vocals and guitar)

Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites
Gil Norton took the helm in producing this album as the band went for a heavier sound for their second album. It is miles different to their debut, August, and everything after. Angels Of The Silences and Daylight Fading are two stand out tracks for me as the guitar playing is sublime and it really has a very live feel to the whole record. A Long December is heartbreaking and beautiful as the record’s closing track.

The Frames – Set List
The frames have been one of my favourite bands for years, ever since I caught them accidentally in a club in Dublin around 2001. Possibly one of the greatest live bands I've ever seen. And this record really shows off what the band can do live and how incredible their song writing is. Recorded in 2002 at the legendary Vicar Street venue in their hometown of Dublin, the audience singing every word highlights what the band mean to the people in the room and beyond. A truly great Irish band but with international appeal. Revelate and Santa Maria are insanely good songs and even better presented here live.

Nik (guitar and vocals)

Transit – Joyride
The album boasts a collection of well crafted pop-rock songs worthy of anyone’s attention (subjective). The dark and light contrast between beautiful melodic harmonies and scathing sinister lyrics set this album apart for me. A must listen.

RX Bandits – Gemini, Her Majesty
Underrated but certainly well appreciated. The songwriting, musicianship and production on this album is phenomenal. This is the kind of album that always sounds fresh, no matter how many times you spin it. Funk-punk-rock-soul and r’n’b at its finest.

Like The Capital here and check them out on Bandcamp here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Album Review: Cheer by Drug Church (by Richard Mair)


Hardcore. Potentially the scene that has shown the least progression, growth and development of any punk sub-genre; yet somehow I love it. It’s like a pair of comfy yet vitriolic slippers. The anger and angst spat forth from many bands is always a cathartic release of aggression. Yet despite my affection for the scene and the music, the bands I truly love are those that try to stretch beyond its strict confines. Bands like Boysetsfire, Grade and As Friends Rust are all stunning examples of what the scene can achieve when pushed, merging punk and emo, marrying melodic moments with brutal beatdowns. More recently the likes of La Dispute and Touché Amore demonstrate that creative hardcore has a place and role to play.

Despite this, Albany, New York’s Drug Church sound nothing like these bands; past or present. Imagine if you will the hits of The Pixies played by Planesmistakenforstars, whilst Bane’s Aaron Bedard half speaks half sings the sharp, witty, insightful lyrics of The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and you quite possibly might be in the right ballpark.


Cheer, the band's third album, continues their development into a unique band who can straddle genres and pigeonholes whilst retaining the visceral aggression that debut album Paul Walker displayed when they unleashed it back in 2013. Sophomore effort Hit Your Head, whilst still good, lacked the creativeness of the Swell EP of 2015 and suggested that potentially the band had hit a point of identity crisis, from maintaining a clear hardcore focus to branching out into more arty, poppy territory. With Cheer Drug Church have found a perfect balance in the fine line they tread with noisy guitars, hardcore beats, pop infused melody and ear worm hooks. It feels like Cheer is the perfect representation of who the band see themselves as and it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s attempting to play to any specific genre. It feels that this is the album they wanted to make and aren’t concerned with what the scene may think.

Saying this there are still very much straight up hardcore moments on display. Both “Strong References” and” Conflict Minded” are very typical of Drug Church’s output to date for large parts. “Strong References” mellows in the final stages whereas “Conflict Minded” draws on those Pixies nods with the inclusion of female vocals and what my Anglophile ears perceive as Spanish lyrics; it’s like textbook Kim Deal and Frank Black in the heyday of the band in the late 90s. Opening track “Grubby” also provides some familiarity to older Drug Church material, notably “Thinking About Joining Drug Church” from debut album Paul Walker.

Where the album really excels is in the use of twisted melody alongside traditional punk tropes. Having toured extensively with a variety of bands it’s easy to see how external influences have permeated the sound of the band. The best example of this is “Foam Pit”. Strip it down and it’s typical of a straight forward pop-punk tune that you’d expect New Found Glory to trot out. In the hands of Drug Church this becomes something much more; a savage critique on selling out to the 9-5 lifestyle, set to a warped pop melody and beats designed to get people pogoing. Both “Weedpin” and “Unlicensed Hall Monitor” typify this use of what can only be described as aggressive melody with aplomb.

Perhaps the finest moment on the album is closing track “Tillary”. The track is extremely rhythmic with the drums playing a prominent role in propelling the song forward, whilst the guitars evoke a feeling of The Cure at their best (such as “Friday I’m in Love”). It’s an anthem devoted to the hypocrisy that many people in power portray, yes they say they want an equal society but their actions continue to suppress people. It’s a song full of anger and defiance and rounds the album off perfectly with its instrumental coda.

Cheer might be a somewhat ironic album title given the very sardonic nature of the content. One would argue that there is very little to celebrate within Drug Church’s world, yet like all good hardcore the shared belief and values always remind me that we can make a difference and change the world for the positive. Given the accessible nature of the album and the potential for it to resonate in our current socio-political environment, maybe just maybe we’ll see more people thinking about the world around them and how they can bring about positive change… and that certainly would be something to cheer about.

Stream and download Cheer here: https://purenoise.bandcamp.com/album/cheer

Like Drug Church here: https://www.facebook.com/drugchurch/

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Album Review: Hermitage by Misgivings


Sarah Shout Louder has been banging on to me for ages about how good Misgivings debut album Hermitage is. She's often right about this kind of thing so as soon as I found a bit of time to give it a proper listen I made myself comfortable and prepared to be thoroughly impressed. Misgivings are a four piece band from Portsmouth who are described as "combining the hooks of The Flatliners and the rasp of Leatherface with the gut wrenching power of Iron Chic." This is definitely something I know I will enjoy. Hermitage is released on the 7th of December through Lockjaw Records, a label that guitarist Will Pearce worked with last year on his other band Sombulance's release, Lifer.


Hermitage begins with the song Call It Off which Misgivings also made a fantastic video for. Given the description for Misgivings’ sound, it was no surprise that I wanted to throw my fists up and shout along straight away. The way in which every line is delivered makes singing along passionately so inviting. The Artless Life is about what it would be like if the world didn't have free thinkers who take risks to create things. There's a poppier feeling to the track which has plenty of great hooks. There is a hint of Bangers or even noughties punk rockers Fletcher in the song. Those are two bands we love at CPRW towers and it's always nice to hear that sound.

Shameless grabs your attention quickly with the lyrics "when you get up in the morning, I'll be drinking through the night with a poor excuse." The song speaks about needing to sort yourself out but not being quite able to do so. The song uses the example of drinking too much to make its point, particularly being too tired and hung over from the night before to follow through with plans. The fourth track, On Your Tongue, feels like it has a darker tone than the previous songs on Hermitage. It also feels as if the vocals are delivered in a more passionate and urgent manner to really help drive the point home. I enjoyed the subtle harmonies that occur throughout the song, adding a nice little layer, giving the song a more rounded sound.

The New Lows has more of a punchy, stabby musical style with the vocals providing a large chunk of the melody. The chorus is one of the catchiest on Hermitage with the lines "the new lows, new numbers to fear" quickly finding a spot to make a home for itself in your brain. Johnny Come Late is about feeling jaded and bored with your life and not doing the things you love. The chorus on this track is the best on the album – "be a friend to all you see, be the mend to broken trees, even when the tough times call for tough endeavours, I bet I would do it if I was free, if I wasn't tired and salty, if I never fouled this bastard fucking country." This chorus sums up the entire song so perfectly.

Ironically the penultimate song on Hermitage is titled The Last Word. The pounding drum beat and a jangly guitar riff immediately fills the song with energy and when the vocals hit you're itching to sing-along with Misgivings. I preferred this higher tempo style of Misgivings sound, I love when a song fills me with energy – it's why I listen to music. The track uses more harmonies and gang vocals than any other on the album and this adds so much to the song, it makes it sound so much bigger. The final track on Hermitage is I Keep Hoarding Up and it is one of the strongest song on the album. It's about hiding yourself away from the world, keeping clear of the good times and the bad and just being by yourself. It feels like a final song in that it's very vocal heavy, making you listen intently and really take notice. It's one last big sing-along to finish the album.

Hermitage by Misgivings is a good record full of powerful heart on your sleeve punk rock. If you're a fan of bands like Polar Bear Club, The Burnt Tapes or The Loved Ones then this is probably something you need to be checking out. I can see why Sarah Shout Louder is so excited by this release.

Pre-order Hermitage from Lockjaw Records here: https://lockjawrecords.co.uk/shop/misgivings-hermitage/

Like Misgivings here: https://www.facebook.com/misgivingsband/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Album Review: Lanterns by Moonraker


Moonraker are a band I've been aware of for a while after seeing two of the members help out Not Half Bad at Fest 15. So when their brand new album Lanterns appeared in my inbox I have to say that I was very intrigued to check them out. Moonraker are a band situated in California who have prolifically been releasing music together since 2011. Lanterns is their newest album and it was released in September on Tiny Dragon Music.


Lanterns begins with the song One Trick Phony. After a creepy laughing introduction we jump straight into a fast paced punk jam about everything always going wrong and becoming used to it. The use of dual vocals on the track does a brilliant job of adding an extra jolt of electricity into the song, making sure that the album gets going in some style. I loved It's My Turn To Be Somebody Now, Nathan! from the very first time I listened to it. It's packed full of fantastic lyrics and has this energy about it that just makes it oh so infectious. You will get swept away by this song. My favourite lyrics of the song are "the past always looks bright if you squint your eyes, and the future looks just fine if you lie." Another part of the song I really liked was the dual vocals, with a cleaner and a raw vocal coming together and being ace. The track is about feeling like you are competing with people to have the best life you possibly can and it not going very well. Track three, To The Gills, begins with some quiet spooky lyrics saying "you'll have to pry my cold dead hands from this wagon, when the wheels fall off then we'll just have to drag it" before the song starts properly and then doesn't relent for the entire track. There's an intensity that reminds me of Direct Hit and those dual vocals scream Lawrence Arms. It's all good. Ram The Blade Ship is a piece of pop punk perfection. It goes along at a ridiculous pace but it's so full of hooks and catchy lyrics. Moonraker's Nick Shambra and David Green work together spectacularly well on the vocals, whether it's trading lines or harmonising, it's all superb. Pop punk song of the year?

The fifth song is titled War Were Declared. This song instantly feels like Moonraker have gone down a more mature road. Switching from the relenting pace, this track is more melodic and seems designed to get you to think about its meaning. There's every chance I'm wrong but I think the song is about how people's inability to change and grow causes unnecessary battles. Gin And Jews begins quietly with a chugga-chugga guitar riff that I joked reminded me of the intro of Eye Of The Tiger. Once we get past this intro we get a delightfully wordy track that hooks you in very quickly. "Wordy" is definitely a theme for Moonraker songs and they continue to prove themselves to be superb lyricists throughout Lanterns. The verse that really stands out on Gin And Jews is "I'm so scared you might know everything I'm scared of, and I'm so sorry I can't say it to your face, when six states over on a barstool next to strangers, I can't stop confessing all of my mistakes." The track is about using alcohol to hide yourself from your friends but being able to confess everything to strangers. They Called Me Mr. Glass is a big highlight on an album that seems to provide hit after hit. It begins slowly with a short piano led introduction giving it a sombre start before we are lead into an up-tempo track that puts a nice spin on the Lawrence Arms sound. I imagine this track to be phenomenal live with that slow start getting a big sing along before everyone goes crazy when the song really gets going. It's about always going out and getting drunk and having someone who will look after you, no matter what.

A Memoir really slows things down. It's a sad and sombre sounding track about feeling as if you have wasted your life. Lyrically, again Moonraker are on top form as they paint a picture that I'm sure a lot of people can easily relate to. I'd be shocked if there isn't at least one line in this track that doesn't make you think "that sounds like me." When I first listened to the ninth song, Hurricanes, it had me thinking of 90s skate punk with that melodic guitar introduction. From there, Moonraker move towards their own style musically but the lyrics are delivered in more of a sharp punchy way. I really enjoyed how Moonraker seemingly blended two different influences on the song to create something pretty fantastic. The song is about sticking with something or someone through thick and thin no matter how crazy things get. The penultimate track on Lanterns is named Seven Different Kinds Of Smoke. Looking at the lyrics and the length of the song (one minute twenty seven seconds) I expected the song to be crazy fast. And there are parts that are but interlaced between the speed are some brilliant melodic sections that help to break the song up slightly. Seven Different Kinds Of Smoke is about having a dad who constantly let you down in order to help out other kids and deciding to cut him out of your life. Speaking as someone who is estranged from two fathers this song hit hard and again I'm sure plenty others will relate. Lanterns is completed by The Well. The first half of the song is this brilliant building section. Musically it's so simple and the build gives the track a great intense feeling, leaving you urging the song to shift into the next gear. When it eventually does, you get some of the best raspy vocals on the album again beautifully harmonised with an evener rawer vocal – what an effect this makes! The song and the album ends with the line "you won't see it coming, you'll just hear.… fucking nothing." What a perfect way to finish an album.

Lanterns will no doubt be in my top ten albums of 2018. I think it's incredible. I don't have much else to say about it other than go and listen to it immediately!

Stream and download Lanterns here: https://tinydragonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/lanterns

Like Moonraker here: https://www.facebook.com/moonrakerpunx/

This review was written by Colin Clark.