Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Album Review: Civil War Rust / Squarecrow Split

In March, Californian bands Civil War Rust and Squarecrow released a four song split. I has been aware of both bands for a while but had never really properly checked each out so this felt like a great opportunity.

Oakland's Civil War Rust start the split with their two tracks – Hopeful At Last and Hunting For A Good Will. Hopeful At Last starts out with a slower section with the band’s vocalist pretty much crooning before the full band comes in and we get a huge sing-along moment of "wake up, wake up" that will fully get a crowd involved. We then transition back into a slower moment that builds back up to the big ending, which is the real highlight of the song. Back to the repetitive "wake up, wake up" line and then a raspier vocal that add some aggression to proceedings. What a superb way to start things off. Hunting For A Good Will begins with your more standard melodic pop punk guitar tone. The opening vocals almost feel like a spoken word segment in the way it's delivered and was a great way to pull the audience in. This builds towards a superb chorus. The huge gang vocal shout of "maybe we're all lost and lonely, we fell in love without an exit plan, I'll see you soon" had me fighting the urge to throw my fist in the air.

San Diego's Squarecrow begin their half of the split with the song Can't Sleep. Gonna Die. Squarecrow offer more of an indie punk style compared to the melodic pop that Civil War Rust gave us. The dual vocals give the song a fantastic element and make it feel somehow more rounded. I really enjoyed how the bass takes the lead throughout the verses with the guitar only adding some nice moments here and there. If you've never listened to Squarecrow before then this is such a great place to start. The three piece’s second song is titled Showing Teeth. Starting out with a raspier vocal than what we heard on Can't Sleep. Gonna Die, Showing Teeth is a song about trying to prove to someone that everything is going to be okay despite how it might currently seem. It's a catchy song that you'll be humming long after you've finished listening to it. The chorus really is a big ear worm and it will act as a moment of catharsis for anyone singing it. Hopefully it will get plenty of people believing its message.

I really enjoyed all four of these songs and will now be making sure to check out more material from both Civil War Rust and Sqaurecrow. Releases like this are the reason I do love a split – you get to check out more than one band, it feels like you're getting a great bonus from it. More bands should do splits.

Stream and download the split here:

Like Civil War Rust here:

Like Squarecrow here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Album Review: Six Feet Deep by Tightwire

I'm about six months late to the party on this one but I enjoyed it so much that I had to give it a review. When Red Scare Industries release a new album, for me, it's a guarantee that it's going to be very good. That's certainly the case with Tightwire's debut album Six Feet Deep. It was released way back in October but I only just discovered it thanks to a tip from Red Scare's Toby Jeg. The three piece from Minneapolis came personally recommended to Toby by one of the guys from Dillinger Four so you know that they're a big prospect in the scene.

Six Feet Deep is thirteen songs in only nineteen minutes so you can imagine that each song is pretty short and played quite fast. The opening song is named Draggin' Me. It starts out with a distortion filled, sludgy opening before moving into some fast paced Ramonescore pop punk. It's infectious and catchy and has you hooked immediately. It won't be long until you're singing along to this song about having a friend that you realise is bringing you down. Next up is the album’s title track, Six Feet Deep. I really enjoyed how Tightwire started the track with the song’s chorus, this really welcomes you into the song as it's the catchiest part. This is one that will be hanging around in your head long after you remember where you know the words from. On Spell On Me it sounds as if the vocals go up a pitch, getting close to Intruder Blue's trademark high notes. This really softens the overall sound of the track and shows a different side of Tightwire. For the first time on Six Feet Deep, the band show off their wonderful harmonies towards the end of the song. I'm such a sucker for a great harmony so this was something I really enjoyed.

Guts wastes no time in getting started. Three crashes of a cymbal and you're immediately into the song. It's about having the courage to tell someone that you care for how you feel about them because you don't want to be alone. This is a sugary sweet pop punk track that will have you smiling throughout. Pentagram Tattoo is one of a few songs on Six Feet Deep that are less than a minute long. Tightwire do an incredible job of fitting a lot into the fifty-eight seconds that the song lasts for however. It's a punch track about admiring someone from afar. You'll be singing along with every word after just a couple of listens and will also find yourself really caring about what Tightwire are singing about – it's also really relatable. The sixth song, Don't Like To Lose, quickly had me thinking of Teenage Bottlerocket. There's a bouncy quality added to the fast buzzsaw guitars and the pounding drums that gives the song a fresh sound. This is the first song that really allows the band to show off their skills as musicians with a superb guitar solo being squeezed into the track. I also got a bit of a kick out of the claps that appear midway through the song, these will allow for some great crowd participation moments.

If Don't Like To Lose reminds me of Teenage Bottlerocket then the next song Told Ya has The Copyrights written all over it. I loved how it started with some great gang vocals as they belt out the chorus. The pace of the vocals is noticeably quicker, injecting a huge amount of energy into the song that's just brilliant. It's about being right about something, not wanting to rub it in someone's face, and then doing it anyway. The energy continues on Hidden Planet. Being just over a minute long, Tightwire are relentless on this track, barely slowing down at all throughout the song. It's about wanting to get away from the world because it's an absolute mess. It amazes me just how much the band can squeeze into these short songs. The ninth song, Simple Questions continues the less is more style of Six Feet Deep. Tightwire goes from Teenage Bottlerocket, to the Copyrights and now to Dude Ranch era blink-182 with this track about being in high school and wanting to talk to a girl. It's a short and punchy song that will quickly take up a residency in your brain.

The tenth song is titled Body Language. Packed with some more glorious harmonies, this is a rapid fire pop punk number that will really get a live crowd moving – it's exploding with energy. We're getting to the point in the album where you begin to realise just how much information your brain can store as this is yet another real ear worm that you'll be singing instantly. Don't Wanna Wait sees Tightwire return to their softer poppier approach whilst retaining that unstoppable energy. It's about being impatient waiting for someone to stop wasting their time in a bad relationship when they could be in a good one with you. I like this as a subject matter as it's not one I usually hear. It's a very interesting take on the love song. The penultimate track on Six Feet Deep is named Out Of It. This may be the album’s catchiest song, which really is saying something. The brilliant yet simple chorus of "I'm so out of it, I'm so out of it, I'm so out of it, whoa-oh-oh" starts the song and from there we're into a great song about being so drunk that you're not sure what's going on anymore. Last up is the twenty-five second Closing Time. This was the perfect choice to, not only follow Out Of It but, to finish the album as it's about the bar closing and it being time to go home. I hope this is also the song that Tightwire finish their live sets with.

Six Feet Deep is a really great pop punk album and I'm surprised that Tightwire haven't had a lot more press. This really is an album that fans of most of the genres that fall under the punk umbrella will adore. It's fast, fun, full of energy and has lots of great moments but, most importantly, it will get you smiling.

Stream and download Six Feet Deep here:

Like Tightwire here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Album Review: The New Farm Sharks EP by Smallest Horse (by Emma Prew)

It’s no secret that we are suckers for Australian bands here at CPRW. My personal latest discovery from down under is an indie punk trio from Brisbane called Smallest Horse. The band released The New Farm Sharks EP in March and here’s what I thought of it…

The EP kicks off with a song titled The Race Up The Stairs. This was the first song I heard by Smallest Horse. Let’s just say that it certainly hooked me in and encouraged me to check out the rest of the EP when I had it stuck in my head for days. The track is upbeat and the infectious ukulele melody combined with a fast paced rhythm section instantly gives it a feel-good feel. Apparently the song is actually about band member Nick almost dying, but then not dying, so it’s a sort of sad subject but not a sad song! I Can Tell is next up. With a slow and stripped back opening featuring just vocals and ukulele, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a quiet love song. Well, it kind of is for the first thirty seconds or so but then the pace picks up for another snappy indie punk tune. It’s a sound that Smallest Horse do so well. In contrast to the upbeat and feel-good nature of the first two songs on The New Farm Sharks EP, All Of My Friends is without a doubt an initially sombre-sounding track. Opening with the line ‘All of my friends need to stop dying, I’m in my twenties and I’m sick of crying.’ is pretty hard-hitting but it is also comforting to those listening who might also be in a similar situation. There is a reminder within the lyrics that people are not always as ‘happy’ as they might seem by the photos they post on social media. As the song progresses, it becomes a celebration of those people who have died – gone but not forgotten. A wonderful tribute. The final song, New Farm Sharks, Pt. 1, sounds nothing like the rest of the EP. Gone is the ukulele, the bass and the drums and instead we have the melancholic notes of a piano. The vocals are slower, full of emotion and powerfully honest. You could say that all of the songs on the EP are emotional and honest but here, maybe due to the stripped back nature, it is perhaps more obvious. It almost feels like an intrusion to be listening to such a song but it’s also a lovely end to the, aptly titled, New Farm Sharks EP.

If you’re a fan of indie punk songs that might just make you feel something, then I can highly recommend that you give The New Farm Sharks EP a listen. After writing this review I checked out their previous EP, The Goodonya EP, which is also great. Smallest Horse are great.

You can (and should) stream and download The New Farm Sharks EP on Bandcamp and like Smallest Horse on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Gig Review: Spanish Love Songs at New Cross Inn, London 11/5/19 & 12/5/19 (by Emma Prew)

As tour line-ups go, I don’t think they get much better than Spanish Love Songs, Pkew Pkew Pkew and Goodbye Blue Monday. They are not only three bands that we love here at CPRW, they are three bands that we know each put on a killer live show. In fact, we know it’s a combination that works well together in a live setting because a few days prior to the Saturday 11th of May London show we went to The Hope & Ruin in Brighton to see the same line-up – and it was awesome, obviously.

There was no way we were ever going to miss seeing this momentous occasion at our favourite venue in the world, the New Cross Inn, as well though and when a second night was announced for Sunday the 12th, well, we snapped up tickets for that too. Sadly Pkew Pkew Pkew weren’t be able to play the bonus show but the heroes of Be Sharp Promotions gave us Burnt Tapes and Katie MF instead. They’re so good to us!

Both shows were destined to be incredible in their own ways, read on to find out if they lived up to our expectations…

Joining the already excellent line-up, for the Saturday date only, were New Jersey’s Save Face who were fresh off their EU/UK tour with Can’t Swim. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Save Face before they were added to this show but I’m always up for checking out a new band. It turned out this was their first time in the UK and their second time in London, after their first show just a week earlier. The New Cross Inn was gradually filling up with some of the earlier arrivers and, although I imagine not many people knew Save Face, the crowd soon warmed to the four piece. The band were slick performers and were clearly passionate about playing their music, which ranged from jangly indie style melodies to heavier punk riffs and intricate shreddy moments. Definitely not a bad start to the evening.

Fresh from releasing their excellent second EP Every Trouble Meant on Friday, Katie MF were a late addition to the Sunday line-up. It was a very welcome addition for CPRW since we were at the EP release show on the Thursday night and therefore knew that the New Cross Inn was in for a treat. The Sunday show had an earlier start than the Saturday but there were still a fair few people about nice and early to watch Katie and her band. Playing songs ranging from the super emotional Do Without to more upbeat songs Leather Jacket, Feelgood Films and Praying For Rain, it wasn’t long before the trio were winning over the room. These are three very talented musicians and, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Katie has the most incredibly captivating voice. Finishing up their set with protest song Mr Cameron Mr Gove, I'm certain the band earned themselves some new fans. I can’t wait to see them again at the end of the month with Western Settings – also at the New Cross Inn.

When we heard that our favourite Scottish misery punks Goodbye Blue Monday would be on board for the whole of this tour we were over the moon (it may well have encouraged us to go to the extra show in Brighton). If you are not familiar with Goodbye Blue Monday, they play catchy, seemingly upbeat melodic punk with, simply put, miserable lyrics. It’s all good fun live and that was definitely the case on Saturday night, with the band dressed in matching sunset vests which they said was for Spanish Love Songs – who are from LA. Their voices were feeling the effects of being on tour but that didn’t stop them from giving it everything they had left – and if lead vocalist Graham’s voice failed him then bandmates Ross and Sean were on hand to sing harmonies. Goodbye Blue Monday had played at the New Cross Inn twice before but this was definitely their biggest crowd yet. The set included tracks from their last two EPs, as well as the latest tune Trigger Alert. It was great to hear the brand new unreleased track It’s Not Okay – which we may have had a sneaky listen to prior to hearing it played live. Finishing up with a double whammy of Misery Punk Ruined My Life and Take You Pills – two songs from two different EPs that flow so well into one another – and finally closing with Love Is A Noose For Two was just perfect. We love Goodbye Blue Monday!

I cannot think of a band more deserving of a slot on the Sunday line-up than the Burnt Tapes. The band are huge fans of Spanish Love Songs so I know they would have been looking forward to just watching them, let alone playing with them. In fact, if it wasn’t for guitarist and vocalist Pan writing about Giant Sings The Blues in a guest end of year list for CPRW a few years ago, we wouldn’t have known about Spanish Love Songs ourselves. (I’m sure we’d have heard them eventually, they’re pretty popular now, but still – thank you, Pan!) Burnt Tapes released their incredible debut album, Never Better, earlier this year which I happen to know is many people’s album of the year so far, mine included – if you haven’t listened to it yet, where’ve you been? It's full of emotional, gruff punk – or as they like to call it, regret punk – bangers. Understandably their setlist consisted of many songs from Never Better, including Drift Champ ’16, Robert Cop and Don’t Make Me Play Bocelli, as well as a few tracks from 2017’s Alterations EP. It was a slick performance, complete with some amusing on stage banter from bassist Tone, that was finished up with ‘the hits’ Yuzi and Things Get Weird. Burnt Tapes once again proving that they are the best band in London.

Returning to the New Cross Inn – basically their London home – for the second time this year, Saturday night was to be the final night of tour for Pkew Pkew Pkew. Having seen the Canadian band the previous two times at NXI (and at Fest), we knew they put on one hell of a live show – their debut in London last year was without a doubt my gig of the year. And yet, somehow they managed to blow their previous performances out of the water on this occasion. Pkew Pkew Pkew are epitome of a good time with infectiously catchy, sometimes silly and always insanely fun songs – with some of the best harmonies in punk rock. If I recall correctly, the band opened their set with Thirsty And Humble from their new album, Optimal Lifestyles, which, like many of Pkew’s songs, is about drinking and having the best time with your pals – and that’s exactly what their show feels like, everyone is pals. The set was understandably heavy on tracks from Optimal Lifestyles with Drinkin’ Days, Passed Out, Point Break and I Don’t Matter At All making an appearance. It was particularly great to hear The Pit and I Wanna See A Wolf which I don’t think I’d heard live before, alongside classics such as Glory Days, Asshole Pandemic and Before We Go Out Drinking from their first album. I didn’t even notice that the band didn’t play Mid 20s Skateboarder/Blood Clot until Colin pointed it out to me afterwards – the new songs are so bloody good so it was nice to mix it up. There was also a human pyramid at one point which is, I think, quite a rare occurrence for the New Cross Inn. At the Brighton show, Goodbye Blue Monday joked that Pkew were actually the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. This is apparently something that stuck with the bands as in London we were treated to a rendition of By The Way. Members of Goodbye Blue Monday and Spanish Love Songs joined Pkew on stage for this very rough around the edges, no doubt only put together over the past few days, but ridiculously fun cover. And that sums this band up really – ridiculously fun.

Although Pkew Pkew Pkew were missed on the Sunday night, it was great to see Goodbye Blue Monday stepping up to take the third spot on the bill. They certainly deserve all of the new fans that they have no doubt gained from these shows and imagine they gained a few more on the Sunday – the room was certainly getting pretty packed. Wanting to change things up a bit from their set the night before, Graham explained how they hadn’t written a second setlist so were just going to make it up as they went along – ever the professionals. It turns out these chaps are pretty good at improving however, kicking things off with Take Your Pills, a song that appeared towards the end of Saturday night's set, and then storming through an even better set than the day before. There were a couple of new songs that the band hadn’t played on Saturday, including one called Alaska that they said they’d never played live before – it sounded brilliant. Unfortunately the set wasn’t without its mishaps with Sean’s guitar causing him problems part way through. Thankfully Spanish Love Songs’ Kyle was on hand to lend his guitar and, while Sean got it set up, Graham treated us to a very much unplanned cover of Iron Chic’s Time Keeps On Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future. DIY punk rock is the best. Goodbye Blue Monday are the best.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a band playing the New Cross Inn than Spanish Love Songs – I am eternally grateful to Paul Be Sharp for making these gigs happen. Having seen Spanish Love Songs twice on their first tour of the UK last autumn and once already this week (you could say I’m a bit obsessed), I knew this was going to be an amazing performance. Last year, the band’s keyboard player Meredith and bassist Trevor were not able to come over (they had a stand-in bassist but no keys) so it was great to hear Spanish Love Songs as they are supposed to be heard this time around. The show was sold out and the room was rammed with excited people, eager to sing their hearts out to these cathartic emotion-driven songs. And that’s exactly what we did, from the two-part opening of Nuevo and Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations through to closer Beer & NyQuil and everything in between. I almost lost my voice screaming along to my personal favourite from last year’s Schmaltz, The Boy Considers His Haircut, but found enough breath to sing along to the likes of Bellyache, Otis/Carl and older song Mexico, among others. The band also threw in their latest single, Losers, and their cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ Funeral which was dedicated to their new pals in Goodbye Blue Monday. The New Cross Inn crowd was incredibly enthusiastic with plenty of fists in the air and a few too many crowd surfers for my liking. Unfortunately, perhaps because this was a sold out show on a Saturday night and few people had had a few too many beers (not that that is any kind of excuse), the crowd was not without a few inconsiderate people. This was not something that went unnoticed by the band however as they commented, more than once, that they appreciated the enthusiasm but people should be aware of those around them and try not to ‘kick anybody in the head’. Spanish Love Songs still put on an incredible show and, despite my bruises from being at the front, I loved it. However, I couldn’t help going home feeling a tiny bit pissed off that some idiots in the crowd had tarnished our beloved New Cross Inn – especially as those involved had probably never been to the venue before! Thankfully, the venue had a chance to redeem itself the next day.

And I’m delighted and relieved to say that we did redeem the New Cross Inn with the second night. Before opening Spanish Love Songs’ Sunday night set, lead vocalist and guitarist Dylan spoke about what had happened the night before, for those that weren’t there. You could immediately tell that this night was going to be different however as there was still excitement in the room but it was also more chilled – it was a Sunday after all. After a minor mishap in which Meredith discovered her keyboards were not on, the band launched into the same first three songs as the previous night – Nuevo, Sequels and Haircut – before making my night even better than it already was by playing Concrete from their first album, Giant Sings The Blues. It’s the first song that I fell in love with by the band and this was my first time hearing it played live. I know the band don’t really play songs from their first album very often anymore, and second album Schmaltz is a masterpiece so that’s okay, but it was amazing to hear this – and Vermont which they played a few songs later – just the once. The rest of the set was similar to the previous night but I’d happily sing along to those songs over and over so it didn’t matter one bit. As I said, the atmosphere was just generally a lot more pleasant for the band and the audience on the Sunday night. We were still happily singing along to every word but, well, nobody got kicked in the head. It was also nice to be able to have my full attention on the band and not be wary that I might be shoved into the bass monitor in front of me at any moment. Maybe that was my fault for standing right at the front on Saturday night but I was in the same place on Sunday and had a much lovelier time! Maybe a punk show shouldn’t be ‘lovely’ but I don’t care and I don’t think Spanish Love Songs do either. 

It's unlikely that Spanish Love Songs will ever play the New Cross Inn again. They are definitely, deservedly, on to bigger venues and bigger audiences (hopefully not with bigger idiots in said audiences) but I’m so happy to have been at these shows. I can’t see any other show this year topping Sunday night’s.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Photos also by Emma Prew.)

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Gig Review: Dave Hause & The Mermaid at Scala, London 10/5/19 (by Emma Prew)

Dave Hause is one of those artists that I’m always keen to see live whenever he comes over to the UK. I absolutely loved his 2017 album Bury Me in Philly and saw Dave Hause & The Mermaid at The Garage just after it was released. It was a great show and so when tour dates got announced for this spring I snapped us up a pair of tickets. Last month, Dave Hause’s fourth album Kick was released… unfortunately I didn’t manage to find a whole lot of time to listen to it before hearing the songs played live. Of course, it didn’t matter though.

The first date of the UK leg of the Dave Hause & The Mermaid was at the Scala in London. It being a Friday night meant that this was an early show – most likely because the Scala had one of those rubbish club nights afterwards. While it meant we’d be home and in bed before midnight (which, as the second of four gig nights in a row, was much appreciated), the opening artist was on at the rather early time of 6.45pm. Long story short, we only saw the last 30 seconds of Drew Thomson’s last song. I didn’t know his music but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to try and see a new artist play live. If at all possible, I always try to catch all bands on a bill – support bands are the headlining bands of next year, after all.

Next up were a band I had heard of prior to the show but had never seen live before, Cold Years a four-piece from Aberdeen. I’d been aware of them since Colin saw them at Dundee’s Book Yer Ane Fest a few years ago and told me they were like a Scottish Gaslight Anthem. Well, seeing the band live for myself, I can tell you that they are much more than that. Cold Years expressed how happy they were to be playing with Dave Hause and that this was the biggest tour that they have been a part of – they really stepped up to the challenge with their soulful rock ’n’ roll. It was great to hear a few of the songs from last year’s Northern Blue EP, which I had the pleasure of reviewing for this here blog, as well as some songs I didn’t recognise. They also threw in a cover of the Ramones’ Bonzo Goes To Bitburg which was, well, interesting. It was slower than you’d ever expect a Ramones cover to be – Cold Years certainly gave it their own spin.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this gig due to its larger size and less of a DIY nature than the shows I generally go to these days – this week especially. Thankfully all my doubts were laid to rest when Dave Hause & The Mermaid took to the stage and kicked things off with The Ditch, the lead single from the latest album. I may not have listened to the whole new album very much before this show but I did know this song so was able to sing along to the chorus at least with everyone around me. From then on we were treated to a mixture of tracks all four Dave Hause albums but focussing heavily on the last two releases. The last time I saw Dave Hause & The Mermaid, I remarked how great a frontman Dave is – rather than just being a solo performer. I still think this but, this time around, I really appreciated how great they all were as a band. There were some killer harmonies from the rest of the band, particularly Tim Hause (guitar), who also happens to be Dave’s brother, and Kayleigh Goldsworthy (keys). In fact, one of my highlights was hearing Civil Lies from Kick live which sees Tim sing the verses and Dave only joining in for the chorus. What a talented family those two come from! This opinion was further solidified when The Mermaid were joined by Dave and Tim’s dad, on acoustic guitar, for a couple of songs. Apparently he’d been on tour with the band but this was his last date before flying home – what a treat! Other treats included an interlude with the Hause brothers playing a few stripped back songs and the whole band being joined by Drew Thomson to cover one of his songs – which was nice, having missed his own set at the start of the evening. There were singalongs a’plenty as the band drew towards the end of their set, with C’mon Kid and, one of my favourites from Bury Me In Philly, With You before a triumphant encore featuring Time Will Tell, Dirty Fucker (boo Trump!) and We Could Be Kings.

Dave Hause & The Mermaid sure know how to put on a good show!

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Photos also by Emma Prew.)

Friday, 17 May 2019

Gig Review: Katie MF's Everything Trouble Meant EP Launch at The Black Heart, London 9/5/19

If you've been following CPRW for a while now you will hopefully have noticed that every Sunday we run a Band Of The Week feature. If you've not, it's basically a feature where I share a band that I've found after trawling through the endless amount of bands on the Bandcamp Discovery page (it's one of my favourite pass times). At the time of writing this we have featured 104 and my undoubted favourite has been Katie MF from London. (Sorry C-Rage, I still love you too.)

Starting live as a solo acoustic act before going full band, Katie MF are a band I've been telling everyone about since I first heard them. From the first time I saw them live, I was blown away. Playing a blend of punk rock and folk with powerful and emotive lyrics that can break your heart or get you amped up, Katie MF are the best band to come out of London in the past year or so. This year they have been gearing up for the release of their second EP Everything Trouble Meant – which is incredible. To celebrate the release, the band hosted a launch party at the Black Heart in Camden with a bunch of their friends playing support slots. This was a gig I was seriously excited for.

Opening the night would be solo acoustic guy Will O'Donoghue. He brilliantly opened his set with an acapella song that is, but really isn't, about football. During the song he expertly used picking a football team as a metaphor for not being able to choose where you're born. From there he went onto some sad quiet songs about break ups and bad relationships and had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout with a really charming performance. He was equally charming between songs as well with some first class stage banter that kept the audience thoroughly entertained. This was a fun and relaxed way to start the night.

When I think of Katie MF one of the first bands that come to mind are their great friends The New Heat. It was absolutely no surprise that these guys were playing the show. It would have been a bigger surprise if they weren't playing really. The New Heat have had a couple of line up changes since I last saw them with only guitarist and singer Nik and bassist Phil remaining. If you didn't know this however you would have never guessed as they put on a very slick performance. Nik's raspy and soulful voice is one of my favourites in the scene at the moment – they are one of the best new bands in London. Highlights from the set included Heartbreakers and No Way Back as well as a cover of Fidlar's West Coast, which I actually prefer to the original. The New Heat are back at the New Cross Inn supporting The Bombpops on the 23rd of May – be sure to get there early for them.

The penultimate band of the evening were Charles And The Big Boys. I was so impressed with this London four piece. Combining punk, grungey rock and jangly indie guitar with the most soulful voice, it was clear to see why a good number of people seemed to have turned up especially to see them. Playing a mixture of songs about love, grieving and politics, it was lead singer and guitarist Charles (who has previously performed solo as Charlie Raphael-Campbell) that stood out with her incredible voice. Some of the notes she was hitting I'm just not used to hearing at a punk rock show. It's refreshing to hear something that I wouldn't normally and to really enjoy it. After the set I actually turned to Emma and said we should go see people who can actually sing more often, she agreed. What a fantastic new band that need to be on your radar.

Now's the time I had been excited about since receiving an early listen of Everything Trouble Meant a month or so before the show. It was time for Katie MF to take to the Black Heart stage, but not before popping backstage to put on some fancy party shirts with plenty of sequins. Emma and I made our way down to the front to make sure we got a great view of what I was sure was going to be the most fantastic hour of music. My brain is a bit messy with the order of the songs but I'm pretty sure they played every single song they know and there wasn't a single dud. When you get a band as ridiculously talented, with Katie on vocals and guitar, Ben on bass and Tobias on drums I'm pretty sure it's impossible to write a bad song. It was great to hear all of Everything Trouble Meant live as well as old favourites such as Feelgood Films, Leaving For The Last Time, Kiss Me Again, Nights Unspecified and some unreleased tracks such as Rat Race, Lucky MF and Apocalypse (which is going to featured on the upcoming CPRW fifth birthday comp) and a very much loved cover of Green Light by Lorde. Ben and Tobias are extremely good at what they do, as demonstrated when they free styled an extended introduction to Praying For Rain whilst Katie had to deal with some spilt beer inspired technical difficulties, but it really was Katie who was the star of the show. Bouncing around the stage, shredding her guitar and showcasing her wonderful vocals, there just aren't many people with a better stage presence. She's just captivating. There was a section of the set where Ben and Tobias left the stage and left Katie to play a few songs solo and acoustic. The room fell silent as she played some really emotional songs that must have pulled on the heartstrings of everyone in the room. There was a moment during the set where I began to tear up; seeing this person, who I found by luck, who I'm completely in awe of how talented they are, is one of the loveliest people I've ever met and who has become a pal of CPRW, live out their dreams in front a room full of friends, family and fans. It was just an absolute pleasure to be able to witness this. It was a moving experience that I'll be telling folk about for a long while. I actually started to during the set, messaging Paul Be Sharp and telling him to put Katie MF as headliner over Spanish Love Songs on Sunday night – for some reason he didn't. Finishing the set with a particularly rowdy of the anti-brexit track Mr Cameron, Mr Gove, this really was a set to remember. Far and away the best hour of music I've seen this year and I'm not sure anything is going to top it.

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

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Gig Review: Jawbreaker at Kentish Town Forum, London 27/4/19 (by Omar Ramlugon)

It wouldn’t be wrong of me to say I was rather excited for this one. Ever since I first started listening to Jawbreaker at 17, I was heartbroken that at the thought of never seeing them live, which judging by Blake Schwarzenbach’s extreme reticence towards the idea, seemed to be the most likely outcome. Then the impossible happened. After hearing of their reformation and sporadic shows sprouting up across the US, I waited and hoped with bated breath for UK dates. They finally arrived, 10 long years from the first time I ever listened to Jawbreaker. In short, it was worth the wait.

The atmosphere was almost at fever pitch right from the off. Support band Beach Slang delivered a confident, rambunctious set, even managing to include well-handled covers of the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’ and The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’. Singer/guitarist James Alex pinwheeled across the stage in a whirlwind of mop-like hair, spitting beer and actual spit at various intervals and embodying the energy conveyed by the buzzsaw guitars. The rest of the band grounded his antics with tight, sure-handed performances, with lead guitarist Aurore Ounjian’s peals of noise cutting through the din.

Then Jawbreaker themselves arrived and the atmosphere finally boiled over. Looking healthy, happy and sounding better than ever, singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach tore into the first chords of ‘Save Your Generation’; I couldn’t say for certain, but it felt like the entire room was singing along. Rhythm section Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfhaler have not lost a beat either and their thick, driving sound served as the perfect counterpoint to Schwarzenbach’s ripping guitars. On that note, his new rig of a Marshall JCM800 and Mike Fortin-modded Marshall 1959SLP paired with his white Les Paul Custom was a simply powerhouse combination, sounding both clear and yet focused like a punch in the jaw. The band looked and sounded like the last 22 years hadn’t even happened; Schwarzenbach was as charismatic and drily humorous as ever and clearly touched by the rapturous reception from everyone present.

The material covered was primarily from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Dear You, with fan favourites like ‘The Boat Dreams from The Hill’ and ‘Condition Oakland’ shoulder to shoulder with ‘Jet Black’ and ‘Accident Prone’ – the ferocious energy of the former two were beautifully offset by the appearance of the latter, giving the crowd a dearly-needed chance to catch their breath. For my part I was particularly happy to hear the old Thorns of Life tune ‘Black Art’ emerge in the set, as I’d only heard it on old bootlegs, but it took on a new life nestled in the Jawbreaker set, maybe offering a thrilling glimpse at the new material that is perhaps yet to come.

‘Ache’ was even more powerful live than on record, serving as the halfway mark in what had been an already amazing set list, almost bringing a tear to my eye and probably to quite a few others. It came as a blessed relief when, after a muscular, grinding rendition of ‘Shield Your Eyes’, the band returned for an encore, with a knockout trio of ‘Boxcar’, ‘Jinx Removing’ and the classic that is ‘Kiss The Bottle’. ‘Boxcar’ might have caused structural damaging from the pogoing that resulted in the crowd, while ‘Kiss the Bottle’ was a sing-along to end all sing-alongs.

In this 90 minute set, I was 17 again. It was simply incredible. If you like punk of any stripe, make sure you catch this legendary trio at the earliest available opportunity; you will not be disappointed.

This gig review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

News: Shackleford & SKIV Tour

UK DIY punk acts Shackleford and SKIV are going on a two week tour of the UK starting on the 1st of June in Gateshead and finishing on the 16th of June in London. These are two of the most exciting new bands in the scene so the shows are not to be missed.

Nuneaton's Shackleford play some melody infused pop punk with some great harmonies and big choruses. Check them out on Facebook here and Bandcamp here.

Kent/London's SKIV play high quality pop punk and feature some of the best vocals throughout the entire UK punk scene thanks for Jordan Harris. Check them out on Facebook here and Bandcamp here.

Have a look at the details on this lovely poster.

Album Review: Empathy by Edward In Venice (by Lee Morton)

The best thing about doing these reviews for CPRW is that I get exposed to new music from bands that might otherwise have passed me by. Case in point is the latest release from Italian melodic punks Edward In Venice. Despite having formed back in 2011 and with three previous releases under their belt, they had completely flown under my radar until I was sent their latest EP “Empathy”, which was released on the 26th April on Lockjaw Records.

The EP is a catchy mix of melodic hardcore, pop punk, emo and screams – so effectively we have a little something for everyone. Especially on opening track “The Deserter” which starts with a rumbling, dirty guitar riff that builds slowly with the dual vocalists bouncing off each other between the clean melodic delivery and the more hardcore screams. The guitars and the drums are tight and on-point, instantly grabbing you and demanding your attention.

“High Tide” continues that heady mix, with a little added pop-punk ear for melody but without sacrificing the energy or lacerating screams despite the more melodic approach. There’s a natural ebb and flow to the song, which makes it so catchy and infectious, while the bass lines and vocals really stand out. On listening to this I couldn’t help but think that if Edward In Venice were British or American then their profile would be so much bigger.

On my first few listens to the EP it was third track, “Spark The Philly”, that I found most memorable. A fast, angry track that reminded me of Fever333 in both delivery and passion in the lyrics. I also loved the quieter breakdown towards the end of the track which contrasts brilliantly with the furious energy of the rest of the song. Talking of contrast, the next song, “Manolo Riddim”, was a real head scratcher for me. More a lazy jazz interlude than actual song but over the course of listening it kind of grew on me as sitting in the middle of the track listing it breaks up the EP and sets us up nicely for the second half.

Stuttering dynamics meant I struggled to get into next track, “PipeDream”. I just found it a bit too stop/start although there’s no denying the catchiness of the massive singalong verses. Fortunately it’s swiftly followed by “Blue Whale” which ups the energy levels as the drums pound out an impressive rhythm and the addition of a gentle breakdown later in the song shows that they have a lighter touch, before it all goes hardcore again with an explosion of noise that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Cave In album.

The final track, “Vaporeon”, is a snaring, twisting beast that jumps around from furious metalcore/punk and breathless fragile beauty. The whispered vocal before erupting into a wall of noise is a trick I loved since my nu-metal days and Edward In Venice pull it off to perfection as the track constantly builds up the pressure before the dramatic release and thrilling climax to the EP.

It took a while for this EP to really take hold of me but after a couple of listens I was getting it completely. Don’t let the fact that you may not have heard Edward In Venice before put you off and give this a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Stream and download Empathy here:

Like Edward In Venice here:

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Album Review: Crucial Moments by The Bouncing Souls

The Bouncing Souls are not only an important part of the modern punk rock scene throughout the world but also a very important band to me personally. I can't think of many bands that have empowered me more than The Bouncing Souls with their songs about being yourself, going for what you believe in and making memories with your friends. This year marks thirty years of The Bouncing Souls and to go along with a massive tour the band have released a six song EP named Crucial Moments on Rise Records.

The EP begins with the title track, Crucial Moments. Taking the more mature sound that the Souls have grown into since 2006's The Gold Record, the track talks about continuing to make special memories with your friends – and these guys have made countless together over the past thirty years. This song is basically a thank you for the life that being in The Bouncing Souls has given these New Jersey heroes. Up next is the minute and a half 1989 that harks back to the band’s early years. The track is fast and frantic as lead singer Greg Attonito yells out a song talking about the crazy times that occurred in the early years of the band. The final verse of "love you stay true, with you make our own rules, believers achievers day dreamers, looking for something" is basically a re-working of the band’s ethos throughout their entire career.

The Bouncing Souls have never been against writing super sweet love songs and that's exactly what Favorite Everything is. Upbeat, melodic and catchy as hell, it won't be long before you're singing along with Greg and the boys. This is a song that will get even the most hardened of punk rockers singing along in the pit. This is something that the Souls have managed to do a lot during the past thirty years and I'm happy to see that this tradition is continuing on Crucial Moments. The fourth track on the EP is Here's To Us. This song is about celebrating the bonds of friendship and staying true to yourself – staples of the Souls songwriting playbook. Played at a mid-tempo pace, Here's To Us is a big anthem. The harmonies that end the song are some of the best in the band’s careers, with Greg's vocal layered over Brian and Pete's harmonies sounding incredible.

The penultimate track on the EP is named 4th Avenue Sunrise. Picking the pace back up, this song shows a more hardcore Bouncing Souls. Brian Kienlen's bass playing is a big highlight on the track. He has to be one of the most underrated bass players in the scene, you can always hear a bass line and automatically know it's a Brain Kienlen one. The song is about finding light at the end of a dark period, using the imagery of watching the sunrise over a New Jersey beach. The final song, Home, is about having your own special place that becomes your safe zone where all of the troubles in your world can't get to you. As you might expect from the band, the chorus is absolutely huge and, like Favorite Everything, you'll be singing along with the band as loudly and passionately as you possibly can. The Bouncing Souls don't just write songs, they write anthems.

I do love The Bouncing Souls and Crucial Moments is a superb addition to their pretty much untouchable discography. I don't know why you've read this review, you already know that The Bouncing Souls are legends! Here's to many, many more years of great songs and special memories.

Stream Crucial Moments here: Crucial Moments

Like The Bouncing Souls here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Album Review: Royal Danger by The Kujo Kings

This past month I seem to be slowly stumbling upon more bands from the Australian ska punk scene. Recently I reviewed The Donald Trumpets’ excellent EP Waterboarding At Guantanamo Bay and now I've discovered The Kujo Kings who are from Melbourne. In March, the seven piece released their debut album Royal Danger. Featuring thirteen songs of energetic and fun ska punk, I felt like this one was going to take a while to review as I imagined I'd spend a lot of time dancing around my living room!

Royal Danger begins with Party In The A.M. Starting things out with a big horn filled introduction gives the beginning of the album a grand feel. Soon enough the tempo is upped and within the first minute of the song The Kujo Kings will have you skanking away. It's a fun song about the benefits of day time partying when you should probably be out earning some money. The second song is named Bass Fish and sees The Kujo Kings lead singer Wes takes on the roll of a sea bass, but not just any old sea bass. The singing one that's on those lovely plaques that adorn the walls of classy people’s homes all over the world. It's silly but incredibly entertaining. It's not the full on skankfest that the opening track was but that's because it's supposed to be quite a sad song. That said there are plenty of moments that will have you throwing your knees up. Birthday Suit was first released as a single back in September 2018. I'm sure you have worked out from the song’s title that it's about wearing your birthday suit (being completely naked). Again this song is kind of ridiculous but it's such a good time. I can already imagine this song live, being played with some massive smiles and most likely some folk stripping off!

The fourth track is titled Strange. This song takes you on a series of highs and lows. Whether it's a slowed down reggae feel or some up-tempo, brass fuelled ska, Strange has you constantly guessing what's next. The track is about being comfortable in your own skin and not worrying about people thinking that you're different. Diggin' sees The Kujo Kings add a bit of an 80s pop and sci-fi sound to their ska style. It seems like a really odd combination but my gosh it works. I assume Diggin' is about life in a game like Minecraft where you start from scratch building your world and continue to grow. It's very clear by this point of the album, The Kujo Kings aren't a band that takes themselves too seriously and they have this ability to write quite varied and very silly songs. Zombie Bride begins with a sweet bass line that immediately gets you quite chilled out before a wonderful brass line puts a big smile on your face. It's a slower reggae pop track about falling in love with a zombie. I can't imagine there are any other reggae songs about this but if there are please link them in the comments. Even though the song is again a bit of nonsense, it actually allows the band to show off what fine musicians they are as well as letting Wes show off a great vocal.

At The Market brings the tempo back up with an insane brass introduction that will have you exhausted before the vocals even begin. Thankfully, for me, things do slow down after that fast paced intro with a mid-tempo track about going to the Asian food markets and meeting all kind of different characters along with trying many different dishes. The Kujo Kings really don't stick to the traditional song topics! The long instrumental midway through the song was a big highlight for the whole album. Flappy Bird is a song about how no matter what amazing things you achieve in your life, the thing you're most proud of is your top score on a mobile phone game. I'm not sure if this is just The Kujo Kings being silly or a bit of a dig at society who seem to put too much time and energy into silly games. Either way it had me smiling throughout. I really enjoyed how the list of achievements gets greater and greater throughout the song, really building the scene up. It starts in a bouncy fashion and continues in the vein throughout – there won't be a single person who will keep their feet still listening to this one. My first thoughts when I heard the ninth song, Dragon Cool, is that Wes is back in character, this time playing the leader of a dragon club. However, as I read deeper into the lyrics it's all a metaphor for smoking weed and how people should just accept it. Lyrically the song does some great work creating an image in your head of what the music video might be like.

The tenth track on Royal Danger is named Wifi Today. There's a moodier tone surrounding this song. The brass is as bouncy as ever but it also feels as if there is a general darker feel to the track. It's about how reliant we have come of the Internet nowadays and the rage that people go through when it goes out. It's on this track that I really came to appreciate just how good The Kujo Kings horn section is, giving the best in the world a run for their money. Clean Underwear, Fresh Tupperware comes next. The song is about the struggles of living by yourself and wishing you were back at home with your folks. This is probably one of the most relatable songs for most people on the album. Lyrically it's full of humour but there is also a sadder subtext that could really hit home. The penultimate song on Royal Danger is The Lonely Pilot. The track starts slowly before picking up the tempo in the second half of the song. It's about looking out for your friend who has had a hard time because of other people and being there for them. The final track on the album is titled Get Out Your Cash. It starts out with a heavy bass line before the brass comes in giving the song a bit of a swing style that will have plenty of people having a dance. The bouncing bass takes the lead throughout the verses as Wes sings about committing a bank job. It's quite a laid back song given the subject matter, you might expect a high energy and adrenaline filled number but not from The Kujo Kings. Instead the album finishes with a big barroom sing-along of "get out your cash" repeatedly. A surprising but, of course, fun way to finish the album.

I loved this album. Fun is a word I used a lot during the review but there isn't really a better word to describe it. Royal Danger is a bit throwback to the days where ska punk bands didn't take themselves as seriously but it still has a fresh sound to it. If you're a fan of bands such as Reel Big Fish or the Mad Caddies, you will love The Kujo Kings.

Stream and download The Royal Danger here:

Like The Kujo Kings here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Column: Leatherface's Records, Ranked From Top To Bottom (by Omar Ramlugon)

Generally spoken of in reverent, laudatory terms, Leatherface are one of those ‘cult’ bands that somehow managed to fly under the radar and yet have had an absolutely earth-shattering impact on punk rock of all stripes. At turns ferocious, wistful and declamatory yet always searingly dynamic and melodic, they laid down a savagely introspective sound which has been endlessly imitated but never with quite the same unique blend of face-ripping guitar with singer/guitarist Frankie Stubbs’ sandblasted vocals. And I should know; I hasten to add that my own band is so heavily indebted to them that if we were described as ripping them off, I’d take it as a huge compliment because we were described in the same sentence as them.

Stubbs’ and his frequent right-hand man Dickie Hammond’s guitar playing is exquisite, weaving arpeggiated guitar filigrees in amongst barrages of power and barre chords; Stubbs himself is a lyricist easily on par with Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits, but delivers his vocals in a throaty roar reminiscent of Motorhead’s Lemmy, or even the aforementioned Waits if he had grown up in Sunderland. They are in a class of their own and completely dodge the macho knuckle dragging that dogs a lot of punk rock through virtue of Stubbs’ deft pen and their melodic sensibilities.

They have been namechecked by too many bands to count, among them Hot Water Music and J. Robbins[1], and inspired two separate tribute albums – 2004’s The Bastards Can’t Dance, comprised solely of Japanese punk bands, and 2008’s Rubber Factory Records Presents A Tribute To Leatherface. Indeed, Chuck Ragan himself has cited their LP Mush as one of his top five albums of all time[2] and in an interview with the AV Club recalls in reverent tones the first time he heard 1989’s Cherry Knowle[3]. They are one of the greatest punk bands of all time and, in my humble opinion, the best punk band Britain has ever produced.

So with this heaped praise in mind, how on earth do we go about ranking each of their eight albums? It wasn’t easy, but after much rumination, I think I have come up with something of a list; it must be noted that there isn’t a single album here that isn’t a bracing listen. It’s all a matter of degrees. Let us begin, fellow peasants in paradise…

8. The Last (1994, Domino Recording Company)
Closer to an EP than a full album, The Last fittingly represented a period right before the band took quite a long break, before reuniting five years later under tragic circumstances. There’s some good stuff here, such as the almost Police-like riff of ‘Little White God’ and the reckless abandon of ‘Patrick Kills Me’ and ‘Daylight Comes’. The piano grounding ‘Shipyards’ is a very interesting curio; however, it’s a little short and the bizarre Louis Armstrong-aping ‘Ba Ba Ba Ba Boo’ at the end is bewildering to say the least.

7. Cherry Knowle (1989, Meantime Records)
Young and full of rage, this is Leatherface still finding their feet. However, it’s also completely infuriating that they were this damn good this early on. There’s already the crunching melodies that would define later releases on cuts like ‘Cabbage Case’, ‘Colorado Joe/Leningrad Vlad’ and ‘Alright Jack’ while the political track ‘This Land’ is like a hot brand to the skin in this day and age, skewering the idiocy of white nationalism right through its craven heart. Not all of it is instantly memorable but it’s still a powerful listen.

6. Dog Disco (2004, BYO Records)
Shorn down to a three piece and with a thick, almost grunge-like guitar tone which stands in stark contrast to the exploding-Marshall midrange bite of their earlier LPs, Dog Disco finds Leatherface older, slower-paced and reflective. ‘Diddly Squat’ and’ Small Yellow Chair’ allude heavily to fatherhood while ‘Plastic Surgery’ is practically a ballad, albeit grounded in Stubbs’ weathered croak. The uptempo ‘Eggbound’ is almost pop-punk in its delivery. It certainly makes for a refreshing change up of their classic sound and, while it may not be Leatherface’s finest hour, it’s certainly one of their most interesting.

5. Fill Your Boots (1990, Roughneck Records)
Edging closer to the eventual blueprint of the Leatherface that we know and love, Fill Your Boots introduces even more interesting flourishes and left turns that popped up from time to time on Cherry Knowle – the turn-on-a-dime tempo shifts of ‘Here Comes The Judge’ and the slow drop-out before coming back in with a vengeance on ‘Razorblades And Aspirin’ to name but two. Pounding tracks like ‘New York State’, ‘The Bastards Can’t Dance’ and ‘Peasant In Paradise’ come forceful as a brick to the face, while ‘All I Wanted’ is about as close to a pop song as the Sunderland foursome get. Hammond and Stubbs weave in and out of each other like a very angry fencing match. The only mis-steps are covers of Elvis Presley’s ‘In The Ghetto’, which wouldn’t be that bad had they not already done so on Cherry Knowle, and ‘Candle In The Wind’ – however, the ten tracks preceding more than make up for these.

4. Horsebox (2000, BYO Records)
Another of the records without Dickie Hammond, this actually doesn’t prove to be a great detriment as Stubbs and newcomer (at the time) Leighton Evans’ guitar work on Horsebox is absolutely heart-pounding. Not as reflective as Dog Disco, this record has almost folk-like chord progressions in places, albeit played on a Gordon Smith and rammed through a Marshall set to stun. Some of the tracks jump right out of the speakers and bury themselves in your heart instantly, like ‘Sour Grapes’, ‘Watching You Sleep’ and ‘Lorrydriver’s Son’. Others work their way in more slowly, as is the case with ‘Box Jellyfish’. But to be honest, the entire album is worth it for the incredible ‘Choice’, a song that is impossible to find footage of the band playing live. Its twisting, gut-wrenching riff and Stubbs’ oblique but somehow heartbreaking lyrics are a perfect compliment to each other, but then the whole song opens up in its last minute into a beautiful, soaring, distorted roar of melody that you wish would ring on forever. Sadly it doesn’t, but that’s what the repeat button is for.

3. The Stormy Petrel (2010, Big Ugly Fish Recordings)
The last album they ever produced, and with the Stubbs/Hammond duo finally back together, this is somehow reflected in the elegiac quality of much of the music on The Stormy Petrel. In spite of Stubbs and Hammond being in their fifties when this was made, much of what is on here burns as brightly as anything from their youth – and puts to shame a lot of punks half their age. If anything, Stubbs’ advanced years on this record puts even more gravitas and weathered experience behind every word out of his ragged throat. Tracks like ‘Never Say Goodbye’ and ‘Broken’ could stir the hardest of hearts while at the same time fully rocking out. ‘My World’s End’ and the punishing ‘Disgrace’ clock the listener in the jaw; Stubbs’ uniquely English phrasing is in full flight here, referencing Roger McGough in one moment and then Channel 5 and Häagen-Dazs in the next. ‘Isn’t Life Just Sweet’ is one of the darkest songs in Leatherface’s catalogue, with its brooding arpeggios and lyrics alluding to one dearly departed; “I can’t kill you / But I forgive you. And I believe you.” The Stormy Petrel is, in short, rather excellent and all the sadder given that it ended up being Leatherface’s last album.

2. Minx (1993, Roughneck Records)
Perhaps the most underrated album in Leatherface’s catalogue, Minx deserves to be held up as a band on an absolute winning streak and was a victim of unfortunate timing given the album that preceded it. Recorded by Stubbs in his own home studio[4], Minx’s perhaps slightly raw production does little to blunt the quite unbelievable harmonically charged guitar and vocal hooks that make it worm its way into the ear as much the heart.

The opening salvo of ‘Wallflower’, ‘Books’ and ‘Fat, Earthy, Flirt’ could blow back your hair, but these slash-and-burn songs occupy the same space as two of the best songs Stubbs ever penned; ‘Heaven Sent’ and ‘Don’t Work’, a one-two punch that is basically worth the price of admission alone. The almost-five-minute-long former is somehow tragic but retains a clenched-fist determination; heart-swollen but furious guitars offset Stubbs’ barks of “A natural disaster a bit of a bastard / A mutual feeling of levelling the blame and how / The truth hurts and lies do the same.” ‘Don’t Work’ induces a gritted teeth head bang like all great punk but there is more beautifully rough lyricism in show; “Don’t waste your time / It’s heart that’s hard / It’s the head that’s fucking soft”. Stubbs’ trick is to somehow commingle the absurd with the poignant rather than recite past specific grievances in dull rote repetition and therein lies his genius. There’s only one slightly below par song here and that’s ‘A Sad Day Indeed’ – the rest is gold.

1. Mush (1991, Roughneck Records)
It was always going to be Mush that topped this list, as predictable as that might be to any Leatherface fans reading this. But by that same token, I will say that this is completely deserved; Mush is the album where absolutely everything came together. The fury of Fill Your Boots is now fully realised by the superb production, where the ferociously melodious guitar maelstrom find their match in absolutely battering drum work and grinding, muscular basslines. There’s so many classic songs here that it’s very hard to single out a few for particular note. ‘I Want The Moon’ is a simply glorious opener, an explosive minor-key adrenaline rush with searing guitar solos dotted through its brief length. ‘I Don’t Want To Be The One To Say It’ blazes with furious speed but power-pop like hooks. ‘Pandora’s Box’ spoils us with a powerhouse chord progression as well as one of the simplest, best choruses lines in punk; “Do as you would be done by / Do as you would be but don’t buy it!”. ‘Not Superstitious’ and its folk-like chords blast through the speakers with its life-affirming chorus cry of “All I can do / Is try my best for you / With all my indecision”, while ‘Springtime’ is as wistful and heartfelt as anything ever written but delivered with a thrilling gutsy aggression. ‘Dead Industrial Atmosphere’ is arguably the beating heart of the album, with references to the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ standing side by side with Vauxies Beer, the classic proletarian punk tropes exploded and then rebuilt with economy, class and spine-tingling riffs.

Mush is a perfect album. Miss it at your peril and then buy all the others because you will want to anyway. Leatherface are the best British punk band of all time and their catalogue speaks for itself. Buy/stream/download with confidence.


This column was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Bands To See At Slam Dunk Festival

The long running independent rock festival Slam Dunk is fast approaching. Taking place on the second May bank holiday weekend, it brings fans of rock, metal, punk and ska together to celebrate all things alternative. This year the festival is running for two days, in the South at Hatfield House Park and in the North at Temple Newsam Park in Leeds. This year will be my sixth time visiting the festival and my first visiting the new site in Hatfield. We love doing a top ten at CPRW so here's my top ten bands to see at Slam Dunk Festival 2019.

I haven't seen Anti-Flag live anywhere near enough times. For me, they are one of the most underrated live bands around. Playing powerful, political punk rock that will get you singing loud and proud, as well as making you think about the world. Anti-Flag are playing pretty early in the day but will no doubt blow out any cobwebs and get their crowd moving early.

The Bombpops
Californian pop punks The Bombpops are the band tasked with opening the special Punk In Drublic stage at Slam Dunk. The four piece, lead by the brilliant vocals of Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, play sugary sweet pop punk jams but perform with a tonne of attitude. Having first seen them live at the New Cross Inn a couple of years ago, I was so impressed with the way they controlled a crowd. Make sure you get to Slam Dunk early to see what is likely to become your new favourite band.

Chas Palmer-Williams
You may know Chas Palmer-Williams as the frontman for legendary UK ska punks Lightyear. When he's not throwing his body around and singing songs for what is arguably the best UK punk band ever, Chas is also a very accomplished solo performer. Whether he is playing his own solo songs or acoustic re-workings of Lightyear songs, one thing is for certain, you will have a great time watching Chas perform.

The Interrupters
No band has done more to push ska back into the mainstream in the past year than Los Angeles, California's The Interrupters. Following the release of last year’s Fight The Good Fight LP, The Interrupters have taken the punk scene around the world by storm with their catchy and danceable songs as well as a polished and fun live show. I'm really looking forward to seeing The Interrupters welcome Slam Dunk to the family.

The great thing about the Punk In Drublic stage is that it is stuffed with nostalgia. As a young punk growing up wanting more than anything to go to the Warped Tour (when it was good), the Punk In Drublic stage is as close as I'm ever going to get – without inventing a time machine. When you think back to those Warped Tour days, Lagwagon were a big part of it. Boasting some of the most popular tracks of the time, expect some of the biggest sing-alongs of the festival.

Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake are Slam Dunk veterans by this point and perhaps the most well known band from the world of ska punk. Is there a better live band on planet earth? I don't think so. You'll be skanking and moshing away or singing yourself hoarse to their unlimited back catalogue of hits. There is no band in history that gets a live crowd going like these Gainesville legends and I can't wait to see them steal the show yet again.

Mad Caddies
Nobody can go and see California's Mad Caddies and not come away with a big smile on their face. Combining punk, ska, reggae and polka for almost twenty five years, the Caddies are still one of the greats. For me they're one of the most underrated bands from the Fat Wreck Chords roster, they never seem to be mentioned whenever the conversation about best Fat bands comes around. Whether you're swaying along to Drinking For 11 or getting silly with Road Rash, with the Caddies it's always a good time.

The Menzingers
Maybe the most popular punk band of the past decade, Scranton Philadelphia's The Menzingers are making their first appearance at Slam Dunk Festival this year. Headlining The Dickies stage, it's bound to be fifty minutes of non-stop sing-alongs. The Menzingers have just finished recording their sixth full length album so hopefully we can expect some songs from that as well as plenty of old favourites.

When you think of punk rock bands, you don't get much bigger than NOFX. The Punk In Drublic stage is named after their classic album and they are rightfully headlining it. NOFX are a band that can split a crowd, it seems if you either love them or hate them. They can also be quite hit or miss live but when they hit their aren't many better. With thirty-six years of songs to choose from, they're bound to play plenty of favourites as well as giving some forgotten gems a showing.

Saves The Day
Making an extremely rare UK performance are New Jersey's Saves The Day. I've never seen them before so I'm really looking forward to finally see them. Mixing 90s emo and pop punk, Saves The Day have written many an angst filled anthem in their long and storied careers. They released their ninth LP in October last year so I guess we can expect some tracks from that as well as plenty of old school Saves The Day favourites.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Album Review: Haphazard by Trophy Jump

I first became aware of Croatian pop punks Trophy Jump after hearing their December 2017 debut Depression Club. Since then, the four piece have been making a bit of name for themselves. So much so that UK DIY label Horn & Hoof Records are involved in the release of their second EP, Haphazard, along with JeBoTon (Croatia) and Punk & Disorderly Records (Canada). When I was sent the EP, I was quite intrigued to see how the band had progressed.

Haphazard begins with Comfort Zone. Quickly tackling the theme of mental health, notably trying to reach out to a friend who won't leave the house (their comfort zone). Starting out with just a bit of guitar and vocals is a great way to get the listener to really grasp the message of track as well as quickly encouraging them to learn the words. This is a mid-tempo pop punk track that's full of hooks and is extremely catchy, setting a marker for the rest of the EP. Up next is Not That Kind Of Guy. Clearly taking influence from Fat Wreck legends Lagwagon and No Use For A Name, this is a melodic skate punk song with pop hooks. The song talks about drug users, how the band believe if people want to do drugs it's up to them but it's not something they are interested in. The song really hits its height during its final section as the band repeatedly sing "I'm not that kind of guy" to close out the track.

The third song is titled Bicycle. This was the stand out track on my first listen of Haphazard. Beginning with a thick, rumbling bass line that really drives the song’s opening before lead singer Antun takes to the microphone. The song is about having your bike stolen and how the perpetrator sucks. Bicycle had me singing along almost immediately with a massive smile on my face. The penultimate song is Chicago Kid. Opening up with a punked up version of a surf rock riff before Antun seemingly does his best Ben Weasel impression with some snotty and aggressive vocals. This is where Trophy Jump really get to show off their musical ability with plenty of room for a guitar solo within the snotty pop punk style. The final track is titled Remete Hills. It's a more melodic song with softer vocals giving the whole track a retrospective feeling, jumping on the familiar pop punk bandwagon of hometowns. For Trophy Jump, this takes on a whole new meaning though as they've spent so much time far away from Croatia because they've been in the United States touring. I can imagine a music video for the track with shots from their time on tour interlaced with shots from Croatia. You can have that cliché idea for free chaps. This was a great choice for the final track as it really gets you thinking about what you love about your hometown and puts a smile on your face.

I seriously enjoyed Haphazard. Taking their influences and giving it a fresh sound shows Trophy Jump are a band that are forward thinking and I enjoyed the variety on the subject matters throughout the EP. Given the huge renaissance that pop punk has had over the past couple of years I'm sure it won't be long until Trophy Jump are discovered by a much bigger audience.

Stream and download Haphazard here:

Like Trophy Jump here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Album Review: Regulars by Dead Bars

Seattle's Dead Bars released my album of the year in 2017 when they unleashed Dream Gig on the world. Those eight songs still get a regular spin on my turntable. Two short years later Dead Bar are set to release a brand new album on May 3rd. Titled Regulars, the album is being released by A-F Records alongside All In Vinyl, Eager Beaver Records and No Reason Records. After loving Dream Gig so much I had big expectations for Regulars.

Regulars begins with the second single Dead Bars released before the album came out, Freaks. This short song quickly reminded me why I loved Dream Gig so much. It's nothing overcomplicated – simple guitar riffs, simple drum beat and lead singer John Maiello's distinct, gravelly vocal telling a story of feeling like you don't belong and embracing that feeling. It's a cathartic song that will get a massive sing-along. Freaks is followed by the first single released to promote the album. Titled I'm A Regular, we hear a different side of Dead Bars that we've not really heard before. It's great to hear the band switch things up a bit, showing they're not one trick ponies. Interestingly it's kind of a follow up but also the same, an opposite of Freaks – if that makes any sense? It's another cathartic song, only this time it's about being different, it's about being down on yourself for being like everyone else. I think the point that Dead Bars are making is that it doesn't matter what type of person you are, you will have all kind of feelings and insecurities.

Pink Drink starts out in quite an energetic fashion with a big verse where Maiello really stretches his vocals chords. After that big first half of the song, the band really slow things down and the track gets quite sombre to finish things up. It builds but still feels pretty sad. Pink Drink is about getting away from brown liquor and replacing it with a pink drink (whatever that might be) and hoping it will help you. The fourth song is named Producto Toxico. Beginning in that same sad way, Maiello croons "sometimes I like to play guitar, sometimes it gets me very far" setting up the track’s story. It's a tale of debauchery for some time spent in Mexico on tour. The song is almost like a slow paced rock ballad or anthem with its distorted guitars, they build towards the massive chorus and some wonderful guitar solos. Dead Bars excel at the simple things but when they do decide to get a bit fancy they’re pretty good at that too.

Up next is Time Takes Away. This is one of the poppiest sounding songs on Regulars but it is also quite subtle and understated, with the volume of the vocals not really that much higher than the guitars. For the most part of the track, this is trademark Dead Bars’ brilliant simplicity but there are a couple of wonderful guitar solos that bookend the track. Rain is another track where the volume of the Maiello's vocals isn't much higher than the guitars, at times you really have to listen hard to hear them. This gives the song a sad feeling. It's about waking up in the morning, not knowing why you're not at home and wondering how your life has got to this point. My first thought on the song was that it was a little short but the more I listened the more I realised how well this length works. It doesn't overcomplicate the song and really allows the message of the song to sink in.

Lucky is about being excited about going to your favourite bar for the evening. I'm sure this is relatable for anyone reading this. Everyone has a favourite bar/pub/venue where they love to go – mine is the New Cross Inn. I think, because the song is so relatable, it will be a big favourite when Dead Bars play live and will get some big sing-alongs. The track isn't the most uptempo but it's got that brilliant anthemic quality. No Tattoos first appeared on Dead Bars’ 2016 split with Florida's The Tim Version. For Regulars, Dead Bars have given the song a bit of a spruce up in the recording – it sounds much cleaner here making it seem more accessible for new fans. Unsurprisingly the song is about not having any tattoos, the reason being that he doesn't want to remember the things that he has done. What's great about this song is that the band have managed to make quite a mundane topic feel extremely sad, I can't think of many acts that could do this so well.

The ninth song is titled I Need You. Starting off with a big flourish, Maiello sings "I need you, you don't need me" giving you an early sense of the kind of self-deprecating tone to expect from the song. Musically the track takes you on a wonderful journey of highs and lows – at times sounding massive, at times stripping it back and building towards the finale. The penultimate song is named Another Day and is one of my favourites from the album. It's a more positive and upbeat feeling song about appreciating your home and all the great things that are there. I particularly enjoyed the ending of the track where things kind of drop off making you think they are going to build towards a big finale but it never happens. This leaves you wanting so much more. It does lead in nicely to Regulars final track, the five minute epic You Never Left. I like the symmetry with the final song on Dream Gig also being much longer than any song on that album. You Never Left begins with some distorted guitars that truly make you believe that something big is on its way before we transition into the more traditional Dead Bars guitar sound that builds up the first portion of the track nicely, adding different layers as it goes. By the time the vocals come in you're itching to have a big shout-along but Maiello delivers a more refrained vocal performance. This is a track that really does allow Dead Bars to show off what superb musicians they are. You Never Left sounds epic from start to finish and is a strong finish for the album.

Regulars shows some nice developments in the Dead Bars sound. They have somehow managed to maintain that everyman feel that attracted me so much to the band in the first place but have also added a bit of flash to their style as well, really displaying some real progress and something that will help them appeal to a wider audience. If you are new to Dead Bars then Regulars is a great album to introduce you to the band before you go back and check out their previous material.

Stream and download Regulars here:

Like Dead Bars here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.