Thursday, 17 October 2019

Gig Review: Just Say Nay’s Maximum Effort Album Release Show at New Cross Inn, London 11/10/19

Recently I posted my review of London ska punks Just Say Nay's incredible debut album Maximum Effort. The album was officially released on Friday October 11th. To celebrate, the band, with the help of Be Sharp Promotions, had a launch party at the New Cross Inn. To help celebrate, the band asked long time friends Triple Sundae, King Punch and Lucias from Call Me Malcolm to support. It was shaping up to be a very memorable night!

Fresh from finishing a tour with The Slackers the night earlier, Lucias Malcolm took to the New Cross stage to start the evening off. This was a rare acoustic performance for Lucias and one that I was rather looking forward to. It was nice to see a sizeable crowd gathered early, eager to see him. Playing stripped back songs taken from Call Me Malcolm's wonderful I Was Broken When You Got Here, the set was full of big sing-alongs – including the brass parts being sung loudly back at the stage. It was really a great experience hearing so many songs that I love played in a different manner. More acoustic shows please, Lucias.

Next to take to the stage were Triple Sundae. These melodic pop punks might have looked like a bit of an odd choice for support at a ska punk show if you're unaware of the history between the two bands but both bands are born out of the South London New Cross scene and JSN's Dave was a former member of Triple Sundae in their early incarnations. I was excited to see Triple Sundae as it would be my first time since they released their fantastic new EP Glow. This was also Triple Sundae's first London show since they returned from a small tour of Canada at the end of the summer. The band got a great reception from the quickly expanding New Cross Inn crowd and deservedly so as this was the best I've seen them. This was my tenth time seeing the band and I'm pretty sure I've said that every single time – they just get better and better. There's a growing confidence in their stage presence and they just look like their having the most amount of fun on stage whenever they play. I think this applies to lead singer and guitarist Hassan in particular. Off stage he's quite reserved and laid back but on stage and playing these songs he’s never looked happier. I always enjoy Mike's pop punk jumps as well. 2019 has been a big year for Triple Sundae and I only expect 2020 to be even bigger.

When we had arrived at New Cross earlier in the evening, we had discovered that King Punch would actually be playing an after party set so up next was the main event. The New Cross Inn was now completely full to see Just Say Nay play Maximum Effort in full alongside some old favourites. If you don't already know, Just Say Nay are a nine piece so at times squeezing them all on stage can be a bit of a logistical nightmare (pun very much intended). To make a little bit more room for himself, bass master Leo placed a stool next to the stage and proceeded to play the set with one foot on the stage and the other on the stool. That's the sort of nonsense you get at a DIY show. From the moment they started their set, Just Say Nay just blew everyone in the room away. It was clear that a lot of people in the room had been listening to Maximum Effort during the day as each song got superb receptions. There was so much love and excitement around the room during the set, I'm not sure I've been to many gigs ever with a more positive and uplifting attitude. I'm always amazed by how energetic Just Say Nay manage to be on stage, given how little room that have. They find a way though and their energy quickly projected into the crowd. The room was skanking immediately and it wasn't long before there was a constant stream of crowdsurfers. Midway through the set, things got emotional as the band took a moment to remember their good friend Mike Crampton who sadly passed away in 2017. Luke May, a friend of the band, joined them on stage to perform his poem Two Empty Glasses which appears on Maximum Effort before the band jumped into their own tribute to Mike – the absolute banger that is Don't Let The Coffee Grind You Down. Highlights of the set for me were With A Twist Of Lemon, the song where trombone player Mikey T gets the crowd to yodel/chant/shout along with him. Normally at this stage, Mikey takes on the role of a preacher character but for this occasion he was his humble self and asked the crowd if they would crowd surf him during the song as he's always wanted to. Of course, the crowd obliged and it created an awesome spectacle. Other highlights for me were Butterfingers (which is surely going to be a single at some point?), Techno Guilt and the classic Low Blow where I accidentally ran into the pit, forgetting how ruined my wrist currently is (Whoops!). The absolute highlight was their final song, Kuromouri. The song is an eight minute long epic that I've been really excited to hear live since I first got to hear it on a promo copy of Maximum Effort. I was absolutely astonished by this performance – it was amazing. I wish I had better words to really explain just what a moment it was. I'm not sure how often the band will play it live as it is so long but I do hope they are able to bust it out on regular occasions. During their own set, King Punch took the time to say how this was the very best version of Just Say Nay they had ever seen and I'm sure the whole room will agree with that sentiment. If you haven't checked out Maximum Effort yet, get on with it!

I can't think of many bands in the New Cross scene better to play an after party set than King Punch. The band are always so full of energy and charisma and never fail to get a crowd moving. Unfortunately, the night was running a little behind schedule so we had to miss out on some of their set but had thoroughly enjoyable times dancing to King Punch originals such as Wishbone and Sit Still as well as covers of Walking On Sunshine and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). I had a wonderful time dancing along to a band who are quickly becoming one of my favourites to see live. Later in the night, I saw online that the band had got a massive conga line going after we had left that even exited the venue and made its way into the rainy street.

This was a superb night of music spent with wonderful people. When I look back on 2019, it will definitely rank among by favourites of the year. Particularly as that Just Say Nay set where they really announced themselves as one of the leading bands in the scene. I can see Maximum Effort taking them to some very big and exciting things in the coming year. Thanks for a great night JSN!

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

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Bands She’d See At The Fest 18, If She Was Going To Fest 18

As you can probably gather from the title of this top ten, I am sadly not going to The Fest this year but that doesn’t stop me from listening to plenty of the bands on the line-up. I’ve decided to write about the top ten bands I would go and see, if I was going to Fest this year. I’ve chosen ten bands that I’ve never seen live before and, conveniently, none of my picks clash!

Okay, before we get into this, I realise that I’ve managed to pick only one ‘international’ band that’s playing The Fest this year for which I apologise but, given that I don’t live in the States, that kind of makes sense. (See the end of this post for a further note about international bands.)

Lone Wolf (Friday at High Dive 22:00–22:30)
First up we have said international band – Lone Wolf from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I first became aware of this foursome when I spotted their debut self-titled album in All Ages Records, Camden. It has a wolf on the cover and wolves are one of my favourite animals so obviously I was intrigued. Lone Wolf play catchy, melodic tunes featuring some excellent dual vocals from Merel and Ox. Their second album, Together Alone, which came out two weeks ago, is definitely worth your time. (Full review of said album coming soon!)

Big Nothing (Friday at The Wooly 23:20–23:50)
Big Nothing, a four-piece from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently played their first UK tour… and I ‘discovered’ them a couple of days after the London date thanks to their album Chris popping up on Colin’s mega 2019 playlist. I should have found out about them sooner given that they have a familiar face in the band in the form of Pat Graham from Spraynard but, alas, I did not. Big Nothing play big fuzzy indie punk and, like Lone Wolf, also feature some killer dual vocals from Liz Parsons alongside Pat.

Cold Wrecks (Saturday at Boca Fiesta 13:20–13:50)
I may have mentioned it once or twice already but This Could Be Okay by Cold Wrecks is quite possibly my album of the year. If you’re not familiar with the band, they are from Brooklyn, New York, and play a perfect blend of emotional pop punk – music that is highly singalong-able that also gives you all of the feels. In my review of the aforementioned album, I said something along the lines of ‘Sorry, Spanish Love Songs, Cold Wrecks are my new favourite band’ and they are probably the band I am most gutted to not be seeing at Fest.

Nightmarathons (Saturday at Boca Fiesta 14:10–14:40)
I have to be honest, I knew the name Nightmarathons but until writing this list I knew next to nothing about this band. When we were looking at the line-up however, Colin pointed out that they were one of those bands where I always said ‘I like this, who is this?’ when a song of theirs is playing – I had their album Missing Parts on my ‘New For Prew’ playlist earlier in the year. Nightmarathons are from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and play melodic punk rock with post-punk and emo influences that shine through. 

Devon Kay & The Solutions (Saturday at CMC Paper + Plastik Showcase 16:40–17:10)
Devon Kay may be most well-known as the guitarist of Direct Hit! but Devon Kay & The Solutions, based in Chicago, Illinois, are a six-piece who play the most wonderfully eclectic brand of punk rock. On their last album, Yes I Can’t, alone the songs range from jangly power pop, to vibrant folk and ska punk. It’s a whole lot of fun musically but also features some  relatable lyrical content that will make you think as well as dance. Rerelocating is one of my favourite songs of the year.

The Eradicator (Saturday at The Wooly 21:10–21:40)
Also from Chicago, The Eradicator is an artist that I figured everyone needs to experience at some point. Sometimes solo and sometimes backed by a mixed cast of backing members, The Eradicator play aggressive punk rock songs that are quite often about squash (the sport, not the vegetable or drink). I imagine a live performance to be as absurd as that description sounds but also to be heaps of fun. Plus, I just really want to scream along to I’m A Squash Man!

Worriers (Saturday at 8 Seconds 23:20–00:10)
It feels well overdue time to see Worriers live, having missed them the times they’ve been to the UK in the past. The Brooklyn, New York, band whose music centres around the songwriting of Lauren Denitzio alongside friends including Mikey Erg, Lou Hanman and Nick Psillas play melodic punk rock. Their 2018 album, Survival Pop, was so, so good and I know the band have finished recording the follow-up. I’m not sure if it’s due out this year or not but, either way, I’m keen.  

Telethon (Sunday at Hardback Cafe 12:30–13:00)
Another of my favourite discoveries this year, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, based five-piece Telethon released an absolutely brilliant album called Hard Pop in June. It, and the band in general, are difficult to describe in a single genre but that’s just one reason why I love them – their songs are so varied, there’s got to be something for everyone in a Telethon live set. They’re playing early on the last day of Fest but I reckon there will be a lot of people battling through hangovers to make sure they see this band play. 

Ramona (Sunday at High Dive 18:50–19:20)
Colin reviewed Ramona’s Red Scare debut Deals, Deals, Deals! earlier this year and it has understandably been on a lot at CPRW HQ – we both love it. The Philly via Seattle, trio play catchy and energetic indie pop punk songs that are equal parts sad and cathartic. We’d love nothing more than to see the band live and sing along with some of our favourite songs from the record. Also, from what I’ve seen on YouTube, Ramona seem like a damn good live band.

Rebuilder (Sunday at Downtown Fats 01:10–01:40)
Closing the whole damn festival (and partly clashing with my equally beloved Überyou) are Boston, Massachusetts, foursome Rebuilder. I wrote about Rebuilder last year in a sort of bucket list of bands I’d really love to see live (which you can check out here) and also reviewed their 2017 EP Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike EP. The EP, quite frankly, blew me away and made me a big fan. I have since tweeted them many times asking when they’re coming over to the UK. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future but I think watching them at The Fest would be ten times better anyway. 

Finally, my special mentions go to New Junk City, Spanish Love Songs and Überyou, all of whom I have seen before but would absolutely love to see again. I was also going to list some of the UK/European bands that I’d personally recommend (other than Lone Wolf and Überyou, who are from Switzerland) but Colin has a post specifically about just that coming next week so I’ll leave it to him! And if you are going to The Fest this year, have an amazing time – I won’t be at all jealous of your photos and videos on Instagram…

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Album Review: Thoughts And Prayers by Good Riddance (by Richard Mair)

The Santa Cruz melodic hardcore stalwarts love a good quote to provide context to their music. These can often be categorised in two groups – political speeches such as the raging Mario Savio socialist diatribe that appears before “Article IV” or the relevant and poignant Martin Luther King Jrs Poverty of the Soul speech that links to “Shadows Of Defeat”.

The other camp is film quotes such as Some Kind Of Wonderful’s “show me the money Keith” ahead of “Heresay, Hypocrisy and Revenge”. Thoughts And Prayers, the 9th studio album by Good Riddance, opens with arguably one of Michael Douglas’ most iconic quotes from the loathsome Wall Street capitalist Gordon Gekko. Whilst not as obvious as “Greed is good”, the rationale behind the used excerpt is very much of our time – its argument that big business is the new political class and the fact that they control so much of our world; capitalism on steroids and success at any cost is so relevant that you forget that the film it’s taken from is 32 years old!

Consequently, in introducing “Thoughts And Prayers” in this way you instantly realise that Russ Rankin and co have lost none of their vitriol as they explode into “Edmund Pettus Bridge” (a US landmark in Alabama which is named after a confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and the site of the ruthless beatings by police on civil rights activists on Bloody Sunday). That GR have named the first song on the album after one of the most important events in the civil rights movement after the Gordon Gekko quote is not lost – consider how many left behind communities in both the UK and USA are largely dominated by minority groups, the reference that white authoritarian capitalism is holding people back is explicit. It’s also a pummelling statement of intent!

So where to start with the music? It’s Good Riddance so it’s fast and melodic punk, punctuated by some heavier parts and fist in the air sing-a-long moments that are politically and socially motivated; and let’s be honest few bands have had the impact and success of delivering this skate punk / melodic hardcore blend as this band, and “Thoughts And Prayers” doesn’t deviate from this approach at all. Personally that’s a good thing as across their career they have been one of the most consistently brilliant bands around; never compromising on quality and always with something interesting and relevant to say.

Whilst GR have always delivered on the hardcore bangers (and this album is no exception) the melodic moments on Thoughts And Prayers are stunning. The three mid-album songs “Wish You Well”, “Precariat” and “No King But Caesar” are truly excellent and a masterclass in how to put together an album to keep your interest. The first of the three is a slow burner, vocally driven, with some excellent pieces of guitar work punctuating the verses before an uplifting chorus. “Precariat” is a straight up fast melodic pop-punk tune; quite light and airy, it releases some of the angst and anger contained within the album (lyrically it remains on point for GR). Whilst the final one of the trio “No King But Caesar” is a song of thirds; a rhythmic introduction led by a great riff and equally excellent drumming before exploding into a typical melodic hardcore song, finally closing with an anthemic melodic refrain. This is Good Riddance at their best, cramming so much high quality content into 2:30 minutes.

The more straight forward songs are also excellent. “Rapture” is such a stereotypical Good Riddance song where the drumming of Sean Sellers really stands out. “Don’t Have Time” is reminiscent of one of my favourite GR songs “Stand”; albeit lacking the special hook that elevates the classic of yesteryear. Whilst “Who We Are” is just a classic sounding GR song; everything about it is quintessentially what you want from a GR song – take the lovely guitar line that overlays the verses to the clarity of the vocals and building to a satisfying ending; in one word it’s ‘textbook’!

The closing stages of the album help solidify it as a high point in their back catalogue. “Pox Americana” is another ‘fun’ song whilst “Lo Que Sucede” with its Spanish verses is possibly the darkest song on the album (whether that’s because of my limited understanding of Spanish I’m unsure), it’s arguably the one that carries the most sinister edge, building to an explosive conclusion. “Requisite Catastrophes” is a brilliant way to close the album; its hopeful, uplifting music at odds with the lyrics at times which talk of being suppressed and of materialistic consumerism but at the same time a positivity also speaks of change.

As a band who I feel have never disappointed, and some 25 years into their career, it’s amazing that Good Riddance can still produce something as relevant and essential today as they could back in the mid-90s. The case in point is “No Safe Space” – on first impressions it’s a really quiet, almost ballad-esque song. Yet with the squealing guitars, shotgun drumming and excellent lyrical content you have one of the single best songs released this year.

So this, their 9th album, will certainly not win awards for reinvention but will hopefully win over some new fans. It’s arguably their most accessible album but, at the same time, I personally think it’s one of their best since 1996’s “Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion”; which let’s face it is a landmark album and easily in my top 10 of all time. Recent years have seen so many iconic and important bands rediscovering their mojo and, whilst I don’t think GR ever lost theirs, this is easily an essential long player to add to your collections! Welcome back Russ and the boys!

Stream and download Thoughts And Prayers here:

Like Good Riddance here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Album Review: Redefining Home by Little Teeth

Little Teeth is a new band fronted by Arliss Nancy's Cory Call. A few years ago Cory moved to Germany and formed a band with Jason S. Thompson (The Sky We Scrape), Max Phillip (Captain Asshole) and Bastian Wegner. The four piece have been hard at work crafting their debut album Redefining Home which was released last month through Gunner Records and Say-10 Records. After catching part of their set at Booze Cruise in July, I was seriously looking forward to checking the album out.

Redefining Home starts with One Hotel Room. As all album openers should do, it really lays down a marker of what to expect – mid-tempo Americana-inspired punk rock with Call's distinctive raspy vocals leading the way. There's a really warm tone to the Little Teeth sound, making you feel welcome and reminding you of an old friend. I'm instantly on board with the album. Atlanticism is a slightly more up-tempo track that caught my attention immediately. Not only do Little Teeth up the tempo but the track is ridiculously catchy and it will become ingrained in your head before you even realise it. I really loved the addition of the harmonies on the track, it just takes the song up another level. These harmonies are a little subtle so they add to the song without taking anything away from Call's vocals. The first thing that struck me about the third song, Avondale, was how big it sounds. The song has this brilliant anthemic quality that makes it equally easy to imagine it being played in a big arena or in a tiny, sweaty basement – in both settings the crowd will sing the words back passionately at the band. Avondale is a bit of a mushy love song. It talks about living life to the absolute fullest with the person you're in love with, as there's so much to experience and so little time to do it.

Thinning Out is a song about friendship. It's about going to gigs and connecting with people that help you see a light at the end of a dark tunnel. This is something I'm certain the majority of people reading this will relate to in some way. As one of the strongest songs on Redefining Home, it's the sort of song that is great to sing along to with all of your gig pals. I really enjoyed the trade off between Call singing a line solo and then the band repeating the line with some great gang vocals. It sounds awesome. Sixteen Candles was a stand out song on my first listen of Redefining Home. It was the line "All I know, nothing ever mattered but these basement shows. Alone and getting hammered with the friends who chose music as a better way to make our way out of the fire." The song is about the power of music for perhaps the briefest of moments, how it can make you feel alive and forget about all the bad things that are happening in your life. Another extremely relatable theme. There's something special about those nights spent with your own bunch of misfits singing along to your favourite songs that can make everything seem better and it's something I'm personally eternally grateful for.

Bender was released as a single before Redefining Home. This was a great choice as it showcases many of the great things about Little Teeth. It's a hook filled and catchy mid-tempo song with introspective lyrics, a great chorus and some great harmonies. A particular highlight of the song for me was the breakdown that then builds up to a spectacular conclusion to the song. The seventh song, Amphetamine, looks at abusing alcohol and drugs to get through hard times before meeting someone who helps you move away from those life choices. It's a really uplifting and life affirming track that ends on a lovely positive note. It's good for people to hear there is sometimes a way out of your darkest moments. Pillow Cases starts out with a generally heavier tone with some pounding drums opening the song up. It's fitting as the opening lyrics of the song are "Oh dark and deadly bleak and miserable night." Despite the heavier tone this is still unmistakably Little Teeth, displaying all we've come to expect from them so far whilst also showing a moodier side to the band. I was impressed with the range Call shows with his gravelly vocal on the song. Expertly switching between moody and hopeful.

The ninth song is titled Drunk Apostles. Drunk Apostles is perhaps my favourite track on Redefining Home. Really upping the tempo, the song is filled with this beautiful and infectious energy that I really loved. The track starts slowly, gradually building towards the pop-like melody that quickly hooked me in. It's about how the people you meet on tour can inspire you and give you hope when all seems lost. There's an autobiographical feel to the track as Cory recounts a tour with Makewar (which I went to the London show of) and how that lead him onto the right path. I adore when the chorus hits – it's sung with such a passion and urgency. The penultimate song on Redefining Home is Sleep Better. Bringing the pace back down slightly, this is a track heavy on gang vocals and harmonies – two of my favourite things. This gives the track a great feeling of inclusiveness that invited you to sing along with the song. There is another positive feel to the song as Call sings about finding a way to ease his mind and sleep better. Last up is Western Skies. I immediately loved that this feels like a final track. The way in which it builds up at the start gives you the immediate feeling that it's going to be a big ending to Redefining Home. The song doesn’t stray far from the Little Teeth sound but everything sounds like it's been turned up a notch. Western Skies tackles the theme of separation but always managing to find your way back to someone. A fine song to finish a fine album.

Redefining Home is as good as you would expect from a band featuring such talented songwriters and musicians. There's a definite crossover appeal for plenty of different genres that fall under the rock 'n' roll banner. Whether it's punk, Americana or even indie, I can see plenty of people getting on board with Little Teeth.

Stream and download Redefining Home here:

Like Little Teeth here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Album Review: Death Is Death by EAT DIRT. (by Richard Mair)

London based EAT DIRT. have been making waves in the scene since their inception a couple of years ago, and only enhanced their reputation with two excellent EPs prior to unleashing their debut album “Death Is Death” which will inevitably take them further outside of their South East homeland. Melding visceral, angry and defiant vocals and lyrics with a melting pot of punk and hardcore influences, “Death Is Death” is arguably the most schizophrenic album you’ll hear this year; but with good reason. It’s not a hardcore album nor is it a punk album, it’s pitched perfectly in the line between the two sounds; combining the best of say Cancer Bats or Death by Stereo with The Hives, yet at the same time sounding nothing like these bands.

Clocking in at 25 minutes for 14 songs should give some indication as to its brevity and speed. EAT DIRT. don’t do epics; instead just 4 of the songs clock over 2 minutes. This isn’t a case of quantity over quality though as the standard across the album is high and none of the songs in any way feel like fillers.

Lyrically the album is typical of late 90s or early 00s hardcore (I’ll fight anyone that doesn’t agree that Indecision / Initial / Revelation Records / Bridge Nine are responsible for creating the greatest era of hardcore). Given my love for the bands of this time, having something new yet that feels nostalgic back to this time is brilliant. Opening track “Make Peace” could easily find itself on a sampler from this era. It’s a great introduction to the band and the album; the heavy shotgun style drumming a real statement of intent. It’s a proper hardcore song which is followed by a more punk tune in “Worms Of The Earth”, which barely reaches the minute mark despite it following a typical song structure of verse-chorus-verse. Both songs work well next to each other to introduce the album and its themes.

Showing they can mix it up, third track “Come And See” is more of a slow burner and whilst the bulk of the song is pretty epic it’s the closing stages which really elevate it; the frantic shouting of “The devil and God are raging in me” is a real crowd pleaser. This ability to mix things up is also apparent on the track that follows; “Moribund”, which has a melodic edge that is more reminiscent of skate punk than hardcore, again it’s a curveball that pays off big style.

The album’s title track “Death Is Death” is a straight up hardcore bruiser that doesn’t even make 1:40. It’s a cracking tune and its circle pit inducing credentials are apparent for all to hear. “Punk Rock Con” is an excellent nostalgia driven song; and by this I mean it reminds me so much of the aforementioned early Bridge9 / Indecision / Initial bands (particularly Breathe In) in that its simplicity, musicality and driving beats will transport you back to the hardcore heydays.

It’s not all straight up hardcore belters on the album, straddling the line between punk and hardcore their more punk leanings come to the fore with tracks such as “Night Terrors”, ” The Beast” and “Bones”. Taking “The Beast” for example, it’s a tune evoking the spirit of The Hives at their most brattish. At the middle of the album, it’s a great pacing decision. In addition, the melodic elements of both “Night Terrors” and “Bones” are real standout moments of the album; again highlighting the band’s ability to turn traditional hardcore tropes on their heads. Finally the guitar work on “Bones” is brilliant; containing the closest thing to a solo on the album and is reminiscent of the metal tinged approach of latter day Death By Stereo.

The closing stages of the album pick up the pace again. “Spend Your Life” with its whoa-whoas is another brilliant song designed to get fists in the air as it talks of the traditional hardcore values of “breaking chains” and “standing up for yourself”.

Closing track “Pull Out” pulls strands of everything that has gone before into a stunning culmination of the bands efforts; bringing an end to proceedings with a brief sing-a-long punk rock song.

Eat Dirt are not the most innovative boundary pushing band. Personally I don’t think they set out to be the next La Dispute but what they have achieved is to deliver a real bombastic, fun, angry and ultimately essential slab of British hardcore. It’s an album you can put on and listen to over and over with ease, the brevity of the songs keeping it interesting and their ability to deliver all the essential hardcore elements in a variety of ways makes for an album that never outstays its welcome. Much like the now iconic (and CPRW faves) Drug Church, if you’re looking for something to listen to that’s more edgy and hardcore than your typical pop-punk fare this could be the release for you.

One final thing to recommend the album is the artwork. I’m a sucker for good art and often feel that if done well can really help set a release apart. The work of Ben Mills (who also happens to be a member of the band) is stunning; I might even go as far to say have we got a British Lubrano on our hands – here is hoping future releases draw on those artistic skills!

Stream and download Death Is Death here:

Like EAT DIRT. here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Gig Review: The Slackers at Esquires, Bedford 4/10/19

Something I don't do enough is go to local shows. I go to loads of DIY gigs in London but I very rarely go to shows in Bedford, where I live. This is partly because there aren't often gigs in Bedford that really cola my coke but also because most of my gig going pals are based in London and it's nice to see them. It took me 42 gigs and until October before I managed to get to a Bedford gig this year but what a line up it was. New York ska legends The Slackers were making their first ever appearance in Bedford and were joined (as they would be for the duration of the tour) by my favourite UK ska punk band, Call Me Malcolm.

We arrived at Esquires not long before the bands started and it was lovely to see plenty of people gathering early to see all the bands. For some reason there were no local supports on the evening’s bill so it was up to Call Me Malcolm to get the crowd warmed up. Obviously the five piece were more than up for the task. I wasn't sure how many people in the crowd were aware of the band before the gig began but they quickly won the crowd over with a typically energetic performance. Playing a set comprised mostly of songs from their classic album I Was Broken When You Got here as well as old favourites Does My Offbeat Look Big In This and I Sold My Cat, I couldn't help but sing along and dance from start to finish – even to the instrumental track F.T.I.M (I sang along to the brass parts). I'm now very used to seeing Malcolm play to an adoring crowd at the New Cross Inn so it was an absolutely pleasure to watch them in different surroundings winning over a new crowd. The sing-along at the end of All My Nameless Friends was as special as ever. Call Me Malcolm aim to spread love and empathy wherever they go, they certainly did this at Esquires and Esquires gave them plenty of love back.

After the excitement of the Call Me Malcolm set, it was now time for The Slackers. The band have been making frequent trips to the UK in their nearly thirty year career but this was their first ever time in Bedford. The good folks of the town were super appreciative that they had finally made it. A crowd of very enthusiastic people gathered at the front of the room began to dance and sing as soon as the six piece began to play. As you would imagine from a band that have been going as long as the Slackers, they were incredibly tight. I'll hate myself for saying this when this review is posted but you could say that there was nothing slack about them. Also, having been a band for such a long long time, The Slackers have a lot of songs to choose from when compiling their set list. I won't even try and name them because I will miss something out but it was a very crowd pleasing set. Playing a mixture of ska, rocksteady and reggae it was a joyous performance. It was great to see the band playing with such big smiles on their faces, clearly enjoying the enthusiasm for them that the crowd showed. Highlights of the performance came from vocalist and organist Vic Ruggiero's dry humour between songs and trombone player Glen Pine's unmatched charisma – he connects so well with the crowd. This was the first stop on a long UK and European tour for The Slackers so there's a chance they were only really warming up here, anyone who sees them later on in the tour is certainly going to be in for a treat.

This was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night in Bedford. Great atmosphere, friendly faces, big smiles and great music.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Top Tens: Top Ten Unreviewed Albums (Part 1)

Recently I've been on a massive binge of trying to listen to as many albums from 2019 as I can. I mean, doing CPRW I feel like I've listened to a lot but, when you look at just how much punk rock has been released this year, our reviews are only really scraping the barrel. To help myself work through all of the punk releases of 2019, I've made a mega playlist which currently contains 3733 songs and is almost 186 hours long (you can check it out here). So to make this new binge addiction of mine productive, I've decided to start a new series of top tens. I'm going to run through some of the favourite releases I've discovered recently, from earlier in the year, that the CPRW team haven't reviewed. Hopefully you'll find some hidden gems like I have!

Dollar Signs – I Need Some Space
Dollar Signs’ 2018 album This Will Haunt Me was one of my favourite albums of the year so I have no idea how I managed to miss their next EP I Need Some Space which was released by A-F Records in January. Here we have four older Dollar Signs songs that have been given a fresh lick of paint with the band’s current line-up – and they're sounding great. This EP is a cool introduction for new fans of Dollar Signs to get a feel of their history whilst being exposed to their current sound.

Celebrity Hangover – Upon Reflection
Originally from Ireland but now based in San Diego, Celebrity Hangover released Upon Reflection on New Year’s Day. The album features sixteen highly infectious melodic punk rock songs. From start to finish Upon Reflection is full of sing-along fist in the air moments that you instantly pick up. The band also released an EP titled Older in June which also fantastic.

A Crash Republic – Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy
I wasn’t sure I was really going to like A Crash Republic after reading they were influenced by bands such as Neck Deep and Knuckle Puck but I was pleasantly surprised by Homewreckers: Sweet Apathy. What really stood out to me was the vocals. They were so much rawer than the clean cut polished vocal I expected and really help A Crash Republic stand out from other modern pop punk bands. They remind me of one of my favourite bands Problem Daughter and are definitely worth checking out.

The Specials – Encore
Despite being a fan of The Specials it took me eight months to listen to Encore, which was the legendary ska band’s first new album in over twenty years. It took me so long to listen because I couldn't see how it would match up to all those classic songs the band had written during their career. It doesn't match up, but it doesn't try too. This is a different sounding Specials tackling the issues of today in their own distinctive way. Given the reach that The Specials have, this could be one of the most important political albums of the year.

Good Shade – Way Out
Ohio's Good Shade is the ambitious solo project of Shane Natalie. Shane writes, composes and plays all of the music in Good Shade themself and gets friends to help perform it live. In February, Good Shade released a new album named Way Out. Twelve songs of energetic indie/power pop goodness that is a breath of fresh air.

Millencolin – SOS
Swedish skate punk legends Millencolin released their ninth studio album SOS back in February to quite the fanfare. Why it took me so long to check it out I don't know as I thoroughly enjoyed their previous album, True Brew, from 2015. SOS continues that new found form the band had with their previous album and, for certain, it doesn't stray from the Millencolin sound we've become accustomed to over the past twenty-five years. When such an influential band from the scene continues to put out such accomplished work it does make me happy.

Lenny Lashley's Gang Of One – All Are Welcome
You might know Lenny Lashley from his days fronting Darkbuster or from playing guitar with the Street Dogs. All Are Welcome is the title of his new solo album performed under the pseudonym of Lenny Lashley's Gang Of One. All Are Welcome is a powerful and emotional album combining Americana and folk with a slice of punk rock. Lashley proves just what a fantastic songwriter he is on All Are Welcome as he manage to grab your attention without having to resort to blisteringly fast and loud punk rock.

Coral Springs – Always Lost, Never Found
Always Lost, Never Found is the debut album from Dutch pop punk band Coral Springs. Released in February on Umlaut Records in the UK, Coral Springs continue to show why they are one of the most exciting bands in mainland Europe. Imagine if you take Rise Against and add Agent M from Tsunami Bombs’ vocals, that's what you get from Coral Springs. This is an album I really regret sleeping on for so long as it's very very good.

Bony Macaroni – Bony Macaroni
I first listened to Bony Macaroni whilst travelling around the North Wales coast in early October. The weather was pretty bleak and I was a bit tired, then this EP came on and it really raised my spirits. Playing poppy emo punk tunes with jangly guitars and a stunning vocal, it was hard not to take notice. They quickly reminded me of one of my favourite UK based bands Toodles & The Hectic Pity. One to keep an eye on for sure.

Clarkkent – Stranger Than Fiction
I discovered Clarkkent thanks to F.O.D's Lode De Feyter. The Finnish skate punk act’s latest album Stranger Than Fiction is on the heavier side of skate punk and I found this refreshing. It managed to hook me in immediately with some soaring vocals, technical guitars that at time verge on metal riffs and some ferocious drums. If all punk rock from Finland sounds like this then I best do some more research into the country's scene.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Album Review: Nailed It! by Knuckleball

When a band describes themselves as "Upbeat 90s flavored pop punk that makes you want to mosh and laugh at the same time. If nothing else, it reminds of the days before Green Day became Broadway stars" you have to know I'm going to be interested in checking it out. The band in question are Waco, Texas' Knuckleball. At the beginning of September, the four piece released their debut EP Nailed It!

The six track EP Nailed It! begins with the song Emily. The opening of the track shows that Knuckleball definitely weren't lying about their style as the track is filled with youthful energy immediately. It really does take you back. When lead singer Andrew French comes in he has this great melodic style vocal rather than the fast paced, urgent style I expected. This gives the whole song a mature sound. The track is about being in a relationship where things are getting progressively worse and deciding to end it. High Anxiety could easily be from a late 90s Green Day album. One, because it has that sound that is so associated with that era of Green Day and, two, because it's really good. Wasting no time in getting started, the vocals kick in straight away giving the song a startling beginning. Doing this immediately gives you a bit of a rush and you're excited to see where the song goes next. The song is about struggling with your mental health and not really understanding it. The third track is named Rent-A-Hero. This song tells a story of a security man who does a wonderful job. The track is a fitting tribute. I really like the storytelling style of the song, it paints a great picture. Rent-A-Hero is a mid-tempo melodic song that doesn't really hit any highs or lows but just goes along in a pleasant manner.

Insomniac is another track that really reminds of classic Green Day. It's about living your life as an insomniac and what that's like. The line "I'll watch The Office Until 3am, maybe I'll be tired by then" is a line I really related with. Except watching Cheers instead of The Office. The song has quite an upbeat feel to it despite it being quite a sad topic. The penultimate track, White Trash Beach Party, has more of a throwback sound. More so than the 90s pop punk sound, this is more along the lines of the Ramones’ unmistakable sound. There's even a "hey ho! let's go!" thrown in for good measure. I love this Ramonescore style so the song really stood out on Nailed It! for me. It describes what a White Trash Beach Party is like with plenty of humour. The sixth and final song on Nailed It! is titled Frankly, My Dear. This song is the most hooky of all the tracks on the EP, with the chorus quickly taking up residency in your head. It's one of those songs where you can see the band, the crowd and yourself pogo-ing up and down for the chorus.

If I had to describe Nailed It! in one word it would definitely be throwback. Knuckleball certainly weren't telling tails when they spoke about their influences. They don't just rip off the genre though, they take it and give it their own spin. If you're a fan of 90s pop punk (and who isn't?) then this might very well be up your street.

Stream and download Nailed It! here:

Like Knuckleball here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Album Review: Hard Pop by Telethon (by Emma Prew)

Where do I start with Telethon… If, like me, you are fairly new to this band (or, indeed, if you’ve not heard of them at all) then I better give you a little background information about them. Telethon are a five-piece from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose sound is very difficult to describe with just one ‘genre’. There’s obviously ‘punk’ in there somewhere or I wouldn’t be writing about them on this blog but they are far from your average punk band. In 2017, they released a ‘five part rock opera’! I know, what?! Of course, it’s 2019 and I only discovered Telethon a few months ago when they released their fourth album, Hard Pop, on Take This To Heart Records and Halloween Records, their own label. I decided to check out the album because Cold Wrecks – who released one of my absolute favourite albums of 2019 (so far) themselves with This Could Be Okay – tweeted about it. Let’s just say, it was a very, very good recommendation.

Hard Pop was released back in June so I must apologise for my lateness in actually reviewing it. This is partly due to life being busy but mostly due to the fact that I’m a little bit scared that I won’t be able to do the album justice with my words. Every time I put the album on, however, I think to myself ‘Damn, this is such a good album. Everybody should to listen to this – punk fans or otherwise.’

Hard Pop kicks off with a 6 minute epic two-parter in the form of Loser / That Old Private Hell. Opening with the lines ‘The magic of being a loser, is that nobody has to find out.’ and hitting home immediately, the song has a slow and stripped back start with subtle instrumentation. This allows the focus to be on lead vocalist Kevin Tully’s rather distinct voice that you will no doubt come to adore throughout the duration of this record, as I have. Subtle backing vocals hint at what’s to come and after a gentle 40 seconds we are thrown headfirst into the full Telethon sound. There are melodic guitar riffs, keys and thumping drums and this combination of sounds serves as a lengthy interlude into the second part of the track. The song speaks about growing up in the Midwest of the US – something I obviously know nothing about but Telethon paint quite the picture here. Despite being the album’s opening track, Losers / That Old Private Hell perfectly encompasses the Telethon sound, with ups and downs, changes in pace and melody when you least expect them and so, so much lyrical content – brilliantly clever and poetic lyrical content. At times I’m reminded of Jeff Rosenstock, while other aspects of the song bring to mind alt-indie rock bands such as The Shins or Modest Mouse but ultimately it’s all Telethon – they have rather a unique sound. I wasn’t kidding when I called this song ‘epic’ as I feel I could write enough words for a whole album review just about this one song…

…but I should probably try and talk about the other nine songs on Hard Pop. Phew, after the 6 minute whirlwind of the album’s opening track, we get to (I Guess You’d Call It) An Undertone. Telethon instantly switch their sound up for an infectiously catchy guitar riff which is backed up by a horn section. It’s kind of over-the-top but in the best way possible. The track is ridiculously upbeat and bouncy – it’s just so much fun – although the lyrics deal with the subject of anxiety. (I Guess You’d Call It) And Undertone is probably the song that’s mostly likely to find its way into my brain at any given moment – I could start humming it or dancing around the kitchen to the melody in my head without even realising (this may or may not have actually happened). The song features a killer guitar solo from lead guitarist Jack Sibilski akin to something from a 70s stadium rock band, yet it somehow still manages to sound so fresh. This is then followed by a short saxophone solo, because, why not? The song feels short compared to the album’s opening track but is in fact well over 3 minutes long and it has the listener suitably pumped up for the next track. Catchy tunes are definitely something that Telethon do well as the theme continues with the third track, Wanderparty. The simple chorus of ‘Where do you wander and where do you party? Nobody knows where you wander or party, Everyone wanders, everyone parties, But not like you wander and not like you party.’ is a bit of a tongue twister but that won’t stop you from singing along immediately – the chorus opens the song after all. The verses are heavy on synth which brings an almost electro-pop vibe to the song but, of course, there’s plenty of hopping between other genres and sounds throughout the song. I think Wanderparty is about growing older and not wandering, in the travelling adventurous sense, or partying as much as you used to. Perhaps spending more time wondering than wandering.

How Long Do I Let It Go For? slows things down a little, at least for the first couple of verses. Accompanied by a piano melody that brings to mind Springsteen’s Thunder Road, the pace picks up as a fuller band sound comes in by the third verse. The vocals feel more urgent which makes sense given the song’s subject matter. How Long Do I Let It Go For? is about feeling anxious and maybe a little obsessively compulsive. The chorus is one of my favourites on the album – ‘Good god, have I become so tightly wound, I can’t stop it anymore, And in the quiet when there's no one else around, How long do I let it go for?’. The bridge that follows has a slight change in vocal style, including guest vocals from Willow Hawks of The Sonder Bombs, which weirdly reminds me of Americana or folk musicians – think The Decemberists, maybe. At just slightly less than a minute in length, Sirens could be considered an interlude, particularly as it appears around the halfway point of the album. That said, Telethon pack a lot into those 59 seconds. Ranging from muted guitar and vocals only to a rush of full band, I particularly enjoyed how the song starts and ends with the same lyrics – ‘Focus on the sirens, Focus on the pain you used to feel.’

When I first listened to Hard Pop, it was the sixth song that immediately grabbed me. Chimney Rock is an infectiously catchy and upbeat synth-heavy power-pop punk song. There’s something for everyone here, with so many layers of melodies and complex fast-paced lyricism weaved throughout the track. If you just read the lyrics on Telethon’s Bandcamp page it seems like vocalist Kevin is just saying exactly what he’s thinking at any given moment. This seems almost chaotic on paper but set to music it is pure genius. A real highlight of the song has to be the section towards the end – a snappy bridge gives way to a several lines from Willow Hawks, who appeared earlier on the album. Rather than simply adding backing vocals, Willow takes over lead vocal duties which gives the song a completely different feel, albeit only for a brief period. Cue more snappy vocals, a huge guitar solo and, finally, a gentle piano-led outro – you certainly can’t accuse Telethon of being dull or repetitive here.

After the intensity of Chimney Rock, Telethon allow us a little breather with House Of The Future (Parts 1 & 2). The slower pace and almost folky style of instrumentation – including but by no means limited to acoustic guitar and organ – showcases yet another side of the Telethon sound. There were hints at this style in earlier tracks but not such lengthy sections as is the case here. The song has a sombre feel and the melodies are melancholic and wistful. Of course, we know from the song’s title that this is a track of two parts and after three minutes the energy levels are ramped up for a more upbeat and loud Telethon. Being able to shift seamlessly between these different styles, within the same song as well as across Hard Pop as whole, is one of the best things about this band. Beefy guitars kick off Time To Lean (This Whole Building Runs On Windows 98) and will get your head nodding along in no time at all. When the synths become dominant for the chorus, there’s an almost 8-bit video game vibe to them – I don’t know, it just works. This is a fast paced tune with the theme of having a job that isn’t very rewarding. Aside from Sirens, Time To Lean is the shortest track on the album – of course, Telethon are able to pack a lot into its duration, including another awesome guitar solo, huge horn parts and tinkly piano playing. Is there anything this band can’t do?

I don’t know why the title of the penultimate song of Hard Pop is written all as one word but it is – Youdon’tinspiremelikeyouusedto. It’s a mid-tempo number with plenty of groove in both the guitar riffs that run throughout its duration and the way in which Kevin sings his lines – particularly in the chorus (which is basically the song’s title repeated along with ‘And I didn’t sign up for any of this’). I read an interview recently (I forget where, sorry) and Kevin stated that the ‘you’ in this song is actually himself – so, basically, the song is about how he doesn’t feel as inspired or motivated to do things as he perhaps did when he was younger. By the halfway point of this 4 minute track, things have reached new heights musically. There’s a lengthy sax solo which again brings to mind Springsteen (well, Clarence Clemons to be precise) followed by a building bridge section complete with strings and vocal harmonies before a guitar solo closes out the track. Some might say it’s a bit much but I say that’s just Telethon. How do you follow that I hear you ask? With a dash of ska seems to be the answer. Manila has a slow piano-led introduction but if we’ve learnt anything about Telethon from this album it is that a song that starts slowly doesn’t necessarily stay slow. The volume and tempo are cranked up before too long for a somewhat nostalgic and contemplative song about not being completely happy with where you are, both geographically and in life in general. The ska I mentioned earlier comes in the form of guitar upstrokes for a couple of verses in the middle of the song and it doesn’t sound even slightly out of place, such is the magic of Telethon. The closing lines of the song, and album as whole, are just perfect – ‘Maybe by the time you leave your town, And get a thousand miles down you’ll turn around, Because you miss the stale emotion and the sounds of train stops passing, And all that you can’t stand to even think about right now.’

Wow, what an album Hard Pop is! I’m not convinced I have quite done it justice in my review – there’s far too many layers and intricacies in each and every second of this album for me to properly describe everything. It’s a relatively short album in only 10 tracks (the perfect amount if you ask me) but is complex; refined yet detailed. The lyrical content in particular I feel I have barely touched on but there’s just so much of it… You’ll just have to take my word for it and go listen to the album yourself! You won’t regret it, I promise.

If you’re going to Fest this year then you can catch Telethon opening up at Hardback Cafe on the Sunday (12:30–1:00pm). I’m not going so will be sat at home feeling sad but maybe next year…

You can stream and download Hard Pop on Bandcamp and like Telethon on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 7 October 2019

News: Might As Well Fest V

Yearly London based punk rock festival Might As Well Fest is back for it's fifth edition on October 18th and 19th at the New Cross Inn. The event, a collaboration between Disconnect Disconnect Records and Till The Wheels raises money for the mental health charity Heads Above The Waves.

The line up is absolutely stacked. The Friday night is headlined by Weatherstate and also features CF98, Break-Ups, Youths and Megaflora. Saturday is headlined by Crazy Arm and also features Beezewax, Burnt Tapes, Luke Rainsford, Pacer, We Bless This Mess, H_ngm_n, Death By Shotgun, Mixtape Saints, High Praise, Stew Gush, Tom Aylott, Gareth James and Party Boss. So many fantastic acts!

They've also got their usual charity raffle with big prizes from places like Awesome Merch, all the labels, local restaurants and bars and more!

Keep up to date with the event here:

Buy tickets for Might As Well Fest V here:

Album Review: Maximum Effort by Just Say Nay

One of the best things about doing CPRW is when one of your favourite bands sends you their new album – one you’ve been eagerly waiting for since learning about it in way back in January. I was so excited when the magnificent Leo Harvey of Just Say Nay sent me the band’s debut album Maximum Effort. I was at work at the time and planned to wait until I got home to give it a listen but I couldn't help myself and had a sneaky listen of a few songs before really sitting down with that. Just that little preview gave me the feeling that this was going to be a masterpiece.

For those unaware, Just Say Nay are a nine piece ska/punk/gypsy band who have been making a name for themselves around the UK with their high energy performances, skankathons and big sing-alongs. Taking the ska punk genre to places never before imagined, Just Say Nay are an eclectic bunch and unlike any band you will have ever seen or heard before. And they are on their way to becoming a big name, along with being a big band, in the UK DIY punk scene.

Maximum Effort starts with I Think I've Had An Apostrophe. Over the past year or so JSN have been squeezing newer songs into their set list, giving fans a little teaser as well as road testing some of the songs live. This wasn't something done for I Think I've Had An Apostrophe however. This made it a perfect choice to open the album as it instantly feels new for everyone, whether you're new to the band or you've been following them for a while. The song actually starts out pretty gently with some soft strums of an electric guitar and lead singer Jak soulfully crooning alongside some fantastic harmonies from flutist Becky. Gradually the full band comes in and the song really gets going, really getting your blood pumping for a good ol' knees up. In one opening song, JSN really show off their whole repertoire and leave you seriously excited for what is to come. Picking Stitches is up next with superb brass from Katy, Charlotte and Mikey T opening the song. JSN have one of the best brass sections in the scene, fantastic to watch and always spot on sonically. I feel like I can say this about a few songs on Maximum Effort, but it's a rollercoaster. Starting with some intensity, moving to something more punchy, adding some melody and finishing with some big gang vocal harmonies – it's all going on here! The third song Don't Try To Stop Me Smee is a song about continuing to go for your dreams no matter what barriers you might find in your way. Another song that takes you on one hell of a ride. The majority of the song sees JSN dabbling in a little bit of pop punk with some big shredding guitars opening the song before the brass and Jak's vocals come in, soon to be joined by Becky's flute that adds this great fantastical extra element to the song – making it all the more playful. The second half of the track adds more of a bouncy (another word that could be used a lot in this review) ska/carnival sound which gives you this great upbeat feeling.

Artistic Spectrum is one of the songs that JSN released ahead of Maximum Effort and one we were lucky enough to feature on our Fifth Birthday Compilation as well. This showcased a different side of the JSN sound when it was first released. So much so that I wasn't sure who it was when I first heard it. The song shows a more urgent JSN, with the song for the most part played at full speed. On the first verse I was reminded of the much missed Tyrannosaurus Alan, with Jak leaving behind his sweet melodic vocals for some rapping. Jak spits bars, as the kids say. This is a powerful song that just can't be ignored. Butterfingers is one of the more traditional ska/pop songs on Maximum Effort. Perhaps poppier than anything JSN have released in the past, it's a song about consistently letting the girl get away and realising after it's too late. Jak, along with Becky's backing vocals, may well have just delivered the best vocal performance on any JSN song so far – this track is just full of beauty and charm. All the best ska albums have that slower ska/pop song that really stands out compared to everything else, this is Maximum Effort's version. The sixth song, With A Twist Of Lemon, has become a big highlight of JSN's live set over the past year or so. The acoustic version they performed in the basement of the New Cross Inn at Level Up Festival in the summer was one of the highlights of the entire festival. It's a song about having a wild and crazy night out and the emotions that come with that. The song is split into three. The first two parts capture two emotions that you might feel on a night out. The first being that energetic excitement at the start of the night where nothing can stop you having the night of your life, the second a feeling of regret when you realise you might have overdone it and you find yourself trying to make sure you finish the night in one piece. These two moods are portrayed firstly, with an up-tempo, excitable section and then a slower, sorrowful moment before we get to the third and final section. The sing-along with Mikey T section. A favourite section for any JSN gig. Mikey T finishes the song with what I think is best described as some yodelling. I'm not really sure why this is a thing but I don't really care as it's the most amount of fun – every single time.

The seventh track is far and away the most poignant moment of Maximum Effort. It's a beautiful poem written and performed by a friend of the band named Luke. It's a moving tribute to a gentleman by the name of Mike Crampton who was a much loved friend to many people in the New Cross Inn/Be Sharp ska scene/family. This is followed by Don't Let The Coffee Grind You Down, which is JSN's own tribute to Mike. Exploring a punkier side of JSN, with the brass still there but also taking a bit of a back seat to the guitars on the song. During the song, Jak sings about his love of Mike, all the great things he brought to his life and how much it hurts that he is no longer with us. The chorus on the song is a big one. Becky's harmonies add even more emotion to what is already a very emotional song. It's also so damn catchy that you'll quickly be singing along with the song. Double Foxes showcases JSN's gypsy influence. Here's another that the band have been playing regularly live to great receptions. It's a song about wanting to be free of everything and to be able to do whatever you want without limitations. This song is all over the place in a way that only JSN can make work. It starts out slowly, builds, comes back down, gets a bit wild and then back under control. It's hard to predict where on earth it's going to go but it's a wild ride. The tenth song, Mug Pie, is a shorter song that on my first listen had me thinking that this was going to be an instrumental song. It's not until about halfway through the song that the vocals come in. Allowing such a talented band to have such a long instrumental moment in the song was a real treat, it flowed along really nicely and when Jak eventually does come in it felt like the natural point, really showing off some great songwriting. The track is about that guy who is always guilty of telling lies and has reached the point of never being believed anymore. Honesty is the best policy.

If you've only ever heard one JSN song I would confidently place a bet that it's Low Blow. Originally appearing on the band’s debut EP Shit Out Of Luck, it has been given a new coat of paint and is included on Maximum Effort. I was so pleased when I saw this as it's one of my favourite JSN songs and puts such big smiles on everyone's faces when they play it live. It's just the perfect song for a live setting. To start with, the horn lines at the beginning of the track just encourage crowd participation. This crowd participation continues frequently throughout the entire song. I'm of the belief that whenever a band can connect with a crowd in a way in which JSN do on Low Blow, they are doing something very right. Listen to this song one time and then try not to spend the rest of the week singing it. The penultimate song is titled Techno Guilt. When I first read the title, a little part of me did hope that is would be a JSN take on techno music – that would have been quite something. In fact, it's a track about just wanting to live your life the way that you want to without feeling guilty for letting somebody down. It's pretty relatable for anyone who has chosen to stray away from the path that they're expected/pressured to be on. Musically, it's pretty high tempo and packs plenty of punch. As it plays through, the track gets more emotional as the gravity of what Jak is saying really becomes so powerful. The lines "we just want to live, we just want to love, we don't want to feel, like we're not enough" are tattoo worthy – assuming you have an area big enough to fit so many words. Finally we have the eight minute long epic Kuromouri. When I first saw that the final song was eight minutes long I thought that it might be that thing that bands do when they have the final song, leave a minute or so of silence and then have a little bonus track on the end. I actually hate that so was very pleased when I discovered that Kuromouri is actually an eight minute long song. It's eight minutes long and it's fucking amazing! What an adventure this song is. It starts out so quickly, there's no building moments, we just jump straight into the deep end and ride the waves of this song. There's so much going on here it's impossible to really give you a proper run through of the track – just go out of your way to listen to it. As soon as you can. Basically it show JSN at their very best. Great vocals, amazing musicianship, poignant lyrics, brave, unique, daring, it has you dancing and it leave you wanting more – imagine, being a fan of punk rock and wanting more of an already eight minute long song! When we do get to the song’s, and the album’s, finale we are treated to a goosebump raising gang vocal that finishes this absolute masterpiece.

Maximum Effort is so good it made me drop many f-bombs. With a band having so many different members and influences, there's a lot going on here but the amazing chemistry this band have make it all work. It doesn’t feel over-the-top and nothing feels like it could or should have been cut. This will be one of those albums you listen to a hundred times and still find something new to love. There are so many incredible bands in the UK ska scene, I think JSN just may have eclipsed anything that's been put out over the past few years. I know ska isn't for everyone and if you're not a fan of the genre but somehow find yourself reading this (thanks!), I urge you to check out Maximum Effort. Wowzas, it's good!

Like Just Say Nay here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 27 September 2019

CPRW Playlist: September 2019

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Lee, Omar, Richard, Robyn, myself and our special guest Katie from Katie MF have been listening to this September.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Top Tens: Ten Ways To Discover New Bands

Something that really baffles me is why more people aren't listening to new music. It's never been easier to find your new favourite band thanks to the Internet with social media and the abundance of music streaming platforms available. Whatever your preferred genre, there are hundreds of great new acts deserving of your attention. In so many different Facebook groups I see people only sharing music from bands that are twenty years old or complaining that there has been no good albums released this year – yes there has been, probably more than ever, if you look in the right places. This top ten piece is dedicated to sharing some of my favourite methods of discovering new bands. For a lot of people, this will probably just be a list of the obvious but I have so many people say to me "how do you find all these new bands?" so I figured it might be worth a top ten. I've probably written something similar in the past but it's a subject I feel very passionate about.

Go Into A Record Shop And Flick Through The Crates
We'll start with the most old school and most obvious one – going into a music shop and spending some time looking through the stock. Way back in the dark ages before the Internet, that's how we did it. How many albums did you buy when you were younger just because you liked the artwork? Records shops still exist and probably need your support more than ever. Pop into your local one, browse, speak to the staff – they might be able to recommend something for you. Plus, it's always nice to chat to folk about music.

Compilation Albums
Compilation albums are something I've spoken a lot about this year. It's such an obvious way of finding new bands. You buy one for a couple of bands you like and end up discovering five more great ones. Success!

Artist Recommendation
One of my favourite things about buying physical music is reading the inlay from start to finish. It's nice to read lyrics and sometimes even learn the meaning and inspiration behind the songs. I also love to read the thank you lists. I've found so many great bands through doing that. If you don't buy CDs or vinyl anymore, then check out a band’s page on Facebook or Spotify. They often have a ‘bands we like’ or ‘bands we sound like’ section – a great way of finding new acts that are similar to someone else you like.

Going To Gigs And Seeing The Supports
Another painfully obvious way to discover new bands is to go to a gig, get there for doors and check out the supports act. More often than not they will be a newer band on the scene and more often than not they'll probably be very good too. I find it painful the amount of time I go to gigs and see so many people just show up for the headliner and/or main support.

Look For Gig Listings
Maybe none of your favourite bands are playing gigs near you. I can assure you that there is a gig happening somewhere near you though. Search out your local venues, look at who's playing, listen to the bands that are playing. Go and see them. Local scenes are a building block for live music and you should always try your best to support them. It's quite satisfying to see bands build up a local fan base and then go on to perform to national audience.

Festival Line-ups
I love reading through a festival line-up and checking out bands I've never heard of before. There are so many music festivals put on all over the world. Some with only ten or so bands, some with hundreds and with line-ups typically ranging from established headline acts to plenty of up and comers. Something I like to do (which might be a bit sad) is go through the Clashfinder for The Fest in Gainesville and plan my own schedule even though I know I'm not going. Be warned though, you will find some great bands but you will be extra bummed out that you're not going!

Bandcamp Discovery
Bandcamp is, for my money, the best website on the world wide web. I can spend hours of my day in a Bandcamp black hole, jumping from one great band then finding another ten more. The discovery section on the site can keep you up to date with all the latest releases from established acts as well as brand new artists from all over the world. You can search through every conceivable genre and sort between new releases and best selling. I guarantee you will find something you love on Bandcamp. It's also the place where you can find the CPRW five year anniversary compilation.

Spotify Playlists
Spotify has played a massive hand in the way in which we listen to music. My favourite feature of Spotify is the ability to make playlists. We all love making that perfect playlist with all our favourite bands and then sharing them with folks. It's the 21st century mixtape. There now appears to be designated playlists that people create to showcase the best new music coming out in the future. Just whack a playlist on shuffle and find the stuff that strikes the biggest chord with you.

Obviously CPRW is the place to go to discover new music but there are loads of other blogs, zines and websites seriously dedicated to sharing brand new bands and music to the world. Even before I started CPRW, I would spend countless hours reading album reviews online or, before that, in magazines and checking out the featured bands.

Google Top Ten Lists
I had never thought about doing something like this before reading James Acaster's new book Perfect Sound Whatever but it's such a simple and brilliant idea. Say you fancy seeing what other people thought were the best albums of a particular year, just punch the year into Google and see what goodies it comes up with. When we come to the end of this year, it's something I'll definitely be doing.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Album Review: The Rising Sun by The House Of Flowers (by Emma Prew)

Chances are you may not have heard of The House Of Flowers. I hadn’t until I saw London-based trio The Exhausts post about it on Facebook. The House Of Flowers is a new project from Tommy Simpson, of The Exhausts, with Jake Popyura (Doe, The Exhausts) on drums and Rich Mandell (Happy Accidents) on bass, keys, organ and synth. The Rising Sun EP, released earlier this month, is the first full band music that Tommy has put out in four years and the moment I hit play on the first track I knew I was going to enjoy this.

The first of three tracks on The Rising Sun is titled Dirty Air. With acoustic guitar backed by a firm drumbeat and subtle bassline, the song has a reasonably upbeat feel to it but, of course, the lyrics tell a different story. Dirty Air is about feeling like you don’t want to go outside and instead feeling safe and comfortable in your own space. I don’t know about you but I can certainly relate. ‘And I’m comfortable stuck in this rut, With every window painted shut, And every door locked tight, I’m staying in tonight.’ The Dead Of Night is up next and here The House Of Flowers take us on quite a journey. There’s a great sense of storytelling throughout as Tommy sings of running away from his fears and anxieties but having them catch up to him eventually. As with Dirty Air, the melody and pace is fairly upbeat but the lyrics are pretty dark – ‘But I can’t sleep without picturing my death, And wondering how long I’ve got left, I can’t sleep without picturing my death, And wondering how long I’ve got left’ It’s great to hear the the inclusion of the keys (or synth or organ or all of the above, I’m not sure) here. The third song is Last Night’s Clothes. Beginning with gentle and sombre-sounding acoustic guitar, I was wondering if this was going to be an entirely acoustic song. After the first verse however, the full band comes in for the chorus – ‘And it’s alright as long as no one knows, That I’m still wearing last night’s clothes.’ I imagine it could be a rousing singalong at a live show but for now I’m just happy to sing along myself. It’s really great.

There’s a distinct theme of dealing with anxiety, and mental health problems in general, throughout the EP and the honesty within the songs is wonderful and comforting to hear. The Rising Sun is a great little EP. Check it out!

You can stream and download The Rising Sun on Bandcamp and like The House Of Flowers on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Album Review: The Yodees by The Yodees

Brazilian Ramonescore band The Yodees dropped their debut album earlier this month. Released by OutLoud Records, a label that's fast becoming my go-to place for the best in Ramonescore pop punk, it features eight tracks from the Curitiba based four piece. The band, which consists of Fernando Yudi (vocals and guitar), Neto Hog (vocals and bass), Bruno Bera (lead guitar) and Leandro Seco (drums), are influenced by bands such as Chixdiggit!, The Riverdales, The Huntingtons and, of course, The Ramones. This was one I was guaranteed to love.

The self titled album begin with the song Better Without Love. This song sets out the stall for what to expect from the whole album – mid-tempo melodic pop with plenty of hooks and harmonies. The track is about wanting to get out of a relationship that's run its course and deciding you'd be better off by yourself. Void In My Heart also talks about the topic of break ups. On this occasion, it's from the perspective of the person who wants to stay together. I loved how The Yodees decided to order these tracks one after the other. Letting you feel the emotions from both sides of the situation immediately after each other. Loony sees the band pick the tempo up for this more traditional Ramonescore track – it even begins with a cry of "1, 2, 3, 4!" The band present some snottier pop punk vocals for the first time on the album, giving The Yodees a different sound that will keep it sounding fresh. Loony sticks with the subject of girls, this time warning a friend to stay clear of someone because you know they're trouble. The fourth song is titled The Vitamin Shoppe Girl. The pace comes down and the cleaner and more melodic vocals return. The track starts slowly with Seco's drums opening things up and getting my shoulders shaking. It's a cheerful song about having a crush on the girl who works at the vitamin shop. This is a really sweet and lovely pop song.

Lost My Valentine continues with the slower paced melodic pop punk. There's also a bit of a classic rock 'n' roll feel to the song which offered something a bit different. This was the first time on the album that both of The Yodees vocalists sang a verse. The contrast in their vocals gives the song a new element that's not featured yet on the album. Lost My Valentine is about putting on a brave face after you've been dumped. Up next is Second Chances, a song about getting another opportunity to get a relationship right. It sounds like there is a lot of hope in the song and a willingness to be better. The whole tone of the song is so uplifting, it put a smile on my face. The penultimate song on the album is titled Everybody Is Growing Up (But Me). Stepping away from the many stages of a relationship, The Yodees go back to the fast paced snotty pop punk. It's quite obviously about all your pals growing up, getting married, having kids, buying houses – all that fun stuff – and you still being stuck doing the things you did when you were younger. Here's a very relatable song and perhaps my favourite on the entire album. The placement of the song was fantastic as it gives the album that extra shot of energy before the final song, Ally. The Yodees give us one last 60s rock 'n' roll inspired pop punk sing-along. It's the kind of track where you can imagine a room full of people swaying along with the band as they sing about a prostitute that they've fallen in love with. It's a different kind of topic than I'm used to hearing in songs and the heartbreak that the singer sings with almost got to me. A fun way to finish the album.

It's no surprise, given that this is a pop punk release, that this album focuses a lot on girls and relationships. The Yodees do a great job of exploring different parts of relationships from different sides though, making it more original and thoughtful than most other albums. As a pure pop album goes, this is one I really enjoyed.

Stream and download The Yodees here:

Like The Yodees here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Album Review: Parched by Thirsty Guys

I discovered New Brunswick, New Jersey ska punk band Thirsty Guys when checking out Bad Time Records’ online store after falling in love with Omnigone's debut LP No Faith. A record immediately caught my eye on the page. It featured two bottles of Coca-Cola (I'm a big fan) and a microphone. This was, of course, Thirty Guys and their new album Parched. Naturally I checked it out as I'm always on the hunt for new ska punk bands and really enjoyed what I heard. Thirsty Guys are a four piece who have been releasing music since 2016 and Parched is the band’s first LP. It collects many of the singles they've already released as well as some new songs.

Parched begins with Weekend At Bernie's. This track is a great introduction to Thirsty Guys. It's a fast paced, bouncy ska punk track with plenty of upstrokes that will quickly get you moving. There's that great raspy vocal style that you might expect more from a skacore act. I love this style of vocal, it's a bit dirtier and raw but there's something about it that makes it more accessible to me. Perhaps because it's not perfect and I can't sing for beans. Later on in the track there's an introduction of what I assume is a keyboard. This instrument becomes more prominent as the album goes on. Weekend At Bernie's is a more intense sounding Thirsty Guys, while the second song Bad Chemistry has a more slow paced, summer time feel as it begins. The harsh vocal comes in and creates this fantastic contrast that you just can't ignore. There was a nice surprise after the first two verse where Liz Fackelman guests for the band and turns the song into a fantastic duet. The keys add this fantastic extra element between verses that give Thirsty Guys such a unique sound that I love more and more with each listen. Actors & Addicts sees Thirsty Guys step away from ska slightly and just play a straight up punk rock song. It's about trying to become successful in the entertainment industry and feeling exasperated with all of the rubbish that comes with it. After the intensity of the opening half of the song, Thirsty Guys do throw in some keyboard-lead ska to break the song up a bit. This keeps the song sounding fresh and unpredictable.

Not Playing Fest is a slightly angry and bitter, but also very much tongue-in-cheek, song about not being booked to play The Fest in Gainesville. On the track, Thirsty Guys lament all the different hoops it seems as if you have to jump through to get a slot on the line up. There is an erratic quality to the song that fills it with this infectious energy that it's hard not to get swept up with. I hope this track doesn't affect Thirsty Guys playing the festival in the future as they're a top, top band. After the erratic Not Playing Fest, Thirsty Guys calm things down a bit on the fifth song, Common Place. The song starts slowly, building towards the first vocals. This sets the whole tone for the song, being slightly moody and unhappy with where you are in life. The band do a fantastic job flitting around between ska and a bit of midwestern emo as if the two genres are common bedfellows. Up next is Blank Slate. Blank Slate continues to cross emo and ska to great effect. The powerful and chunky guitars, along with those passionate vocals, start the song off in an ear catching manor before switching to the ska sound for the chorus. The track is about starting again because you're not happy with the life you currently have. Hollow Days (Mfc) is a track about how special holidays such as Christmas are ruined by consumerism and capitalism and how it takes the magic away. This is a message I can really relate to, especially since I've worked in retail for more than half of my life. A really easy (and perhaps lazy) comparison of Thirsty Guys is to Bomb The Music Industry. It's most apparent on Hollow Days (Mfc).

Pretend is a slower ska/reggae/pop song. I loved the no thrills beginning of the track with the vocals starting the song immediately before Liz Fackelman returns to add some trombone to the song. It's interesting that we've gotten to the eighth track of a ska album and we're only just getting treated to some brass. What's even more interesting, I've not even noticed the lack of brass on Parched. I think this says a lot about the skill Thirsty Guys have as musicians that brass has gone unmissed. Pretend is about realising you've spent way too long on a something that isn't as real as you thought it might be and being done with it. It's one of those ska songs that's quite sad but also feels extremely upbeat. The penultimate song is titled Bullshit. Getting back to the high energy and erratic style that I love about this band, Bullshit is about calling out a liar who has filled your head with lies. I assume that the track is aimed at one person in particular but I'm sure it's relatable for a lot of people. There's a no thrills approach to the song with Thirsty Guys storming through – they'll have you dancing, skanking, moshing and singing with your fist high in the air all at different moments in the song. A lot happens in this two minutes and eight seconds. Parched finishes with the song Falling On Deaf Ears. What a fantastic way to finish what is a fantastic album. The song has quite a long build towards its first verse, really creating suspense when the vocals come in. After a ska heavy verse we get to the chorus where Thirsty Guys give us another level of intensity. Bringing the powerful emo sound back in, the chorus really grabs at you. This is one of the more intense and powerful choruses I've heard on any album in 2019 and I love it. The ending of the song, and indeed the entire album, was perfect. Calming things down musically with some ska upstrokes we still have some powerful emo style vocals shouting out "it’s not my song to sing, but it’s my fight to fight, you’re still not listening, hope you feel dead inside."

I loved Parched from start to finish. This is such a brilliantly unique album with Thirsty Guys playing around with a sound that I've not really heard before. Thirsty Guys have got to be one of the most exciting new bands on my radar for some time. This band and this record are one I will be telling everyone I know about. It's a must hear record from 2019 for certain. Go and listen to it now, please. Thanks.

Stream and download Parched here:

Like Thirsty Guys here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.