Monday, 15 July 2019

Album Review: Body Bag Your Scene by Riskee & The Ridicule (by Lee Morton)

Welcome to your new favourite band! Bold words I know, but bear with me on this. They may have been around a few years now, this being their third album along with a few EP releases but “Body Bag Your Scene” should be the album that launches Riskee & The Ridicule out of the DIY scene and to the forefront of the UK punk explosion. Whilst this is released on Bomber Music, previously home to bands like Random Hand, The Skints and Jaya The Cat, it’s a true DIY effort, having been financed by the band and fan pledges which gave them the freedom to write their strongest record yet.

“Accelerate” opens the album and, as the title suggests, it’s pedal to the floor time as the song ominously builds with vocalist and all round livewire Scott Picking leading a chant of “da-da-da-da” before the rest of the band, Jimbo (Guitar), Matt (Drums) and Jordan (Guitar) start dropping hooks that draw you in straight away. It’s infectious and sure to be a crowd pleaser with Scott spitting grime/rap style lyrics that are both vicious and smart.

Tackling so many different targets over the course of the album – the media, politics, social classes, sex etc. – may seem like a scattergun approach but, despite this, theirs is a focused attack that hits its target every time. Second track “Kaboom!”, and first single to be released, is a great example of this, holding a mirror up to mass media, highlighting how it’s controlled by the rich for their own agenda. The lyrics are sharp and direct but the energy from the rest of the band turn this into a real dancefloor smash, making you both move and question your thought process.

After the high energy start, things slow down a little for the intro to “Our Time”, allowing Scott to stretch his vocals, something that he did to great effect on their acoustic EP “They Need Us To Believe” last year. The high energy tempo and delivery quickly returns though with the song drawing a line in the sands of the past and proclaiming it “our time” to change things. It’s an attitude that’s prevalent across the album – seize the moment, make a change, do it yourself, nothing’s impossible. Strong messages indeed.

That message carries into the throbbing menace of title track “Body Bag Your Scene”, mixing the alt-grime vocals with some alternative 90s style rock riffs along with Jimbo’s now legendary screams. Before the only real lull on the album in “Black, White & Grey”, which is more restrained and it’s that lack of impact, certainly compared across the record as a whole, that stops the song taking off.

That’s not to say that they can’t do restrained well, as “In The Dark” follows and is a real highlight. A grim Romeo & Juliet tale of drug addiction paints a dark, ugly picture of the underbelly of life with the lyrics making you feel like an observer to the story that’s being played out. It’s so powerful that you’ll finish the track and feel dirty and in need of a wash.

“Sellout” follows and provides a well needed pick me up after the bleakness of the previous track. It’s another infectious energy rush highlighting the crisis of local DIY venues shutting down and the destruction of town centres. I defy you to not scream along after a couple of listens.

“Sex” sees the boys take on the misogyny and hypocrisy of the sex industry and antiquated laws on sex offenses. Once again, I need to highlight the intelligence behind the lyrics here as on every listen I’m getting more and more from every song.

Taking a right turn at the signpost marked hardcore, “Cut Your Teeth” is a raging beast of aggression that also contains one of my favourite lyrical couplets in “trust me I’ll always try to persuade my cynics, I’ll have a broom handle hanging out your arse like it’s quidditch”. It’s fair to say they may not be big Harry Potter fans.

“For Old Times’ Sake” slows things down again whilst touching on a number of topics – getting old, male suicide and people not wanting you to evolve – which shows a different side to the band that was hinted at on the “They Need Us To Believe” EP. It displays an assuredness to their songwriting craft.

The last song harks back to the beginnings of the band and reflects the life of many of the bands that you listen to. “D.I.Y” is a defiant FU to the system, to the corporations that can’t see beyond the latest greatest trend and anyone that says you can’t “do it yourself”. Whipping up the energy levels again with another massive singalong chorus, in fact you could pick pretty much every track and be singing along within moments, it a perfect closing statement from the band.

Having followed the band since the debut album, “Dawn of the Dog”, I’ve seen the development in sound and style that now sees them crawling out of the DIY scene and proudly screaming from the rooftops. When speaking with any of the band, you can feel the pride in this album and rightly so – in fact, they are arguably downplaying how good this album is. Their best yet, certainly. Album of the year, maybe – it’s definitely a contender. They have taken the sounds of the street, grime, punk, rap and merged them into a coherent beast of an album that will kill the posers and wannabes. Body bag your scene, exactly!

Friday, 12 July 2019

Column: Colin Doesn't Drink

Here's a column I've been wanting to write for a little while but I've been putting it off because it's a bit of a personal one. It's about the fact that I don't drink alcohol (never have done, most likely never will) and how that's affected me during my life – as a teenager when the cool thing to be doing was going out and drinking as much as you could and then venturing into my experiences in the punk rock scene, where sometimes it seems that almost every other band shouts out "who's getting drunk tonight!?"

Before really getting going I should probably explain why I have decided not to drink. Without naming names and getting myself in trouble, there has been instances of alcoholism in my family that resulted in some really terrible times for me and definitely affected me more than I realised at the time. Now might be a good time to add a bit of a disclaimer about how this isn't a column designed to get me any sympathy, I'm completely over it and am only writing this to hopefully help anyone who might have gone through similar things. To me, as a child between the ages of around 8–14 alcohol seemed to bring arguments, stress, tension and a general letting down of anyone who needs and depends on you. I quickly made the decision that I wanted no part of that – alcohol doesn't do good things for people. Growing up in that world was not so pleasant.

I think growing up in that world really affected me in a social capacity. When I got to the age where drinking was a thing that my friends wanted to do, I quickly felt uncomfortable and out of place. At thirteen years old, the conversation about going out for a drink or having a beer never really comes up – or didn't in my circle of friends (we were and still are all angels). When we began to hit eighteen however life got hard. As is the norm for people that age, you want to go out drinking at pubs and clubs as much as you can. The thought of this filled me with all sorts of anxiety and was very happy to have the readymade of excuse of having to work Saturday nights. The thought of going out, not drinking, being surrounded by drunk folk and people asking why I'm not drinking terrified me. That question of "why don't you drink?" always made me so uncomfortable. The answer would usually be because I don't want to rather than admit the truth. Looking back now, this really made me feel like a bit of an outcast amongst my friends. Through no fault of theirs I have to add – they weren't doing anything wrong. My refusal to go on those nights out also prevented me ever making new friends or meeting girls and doing all those other things that happen on these nights out. I really found myself locked hard into my shell and I was very lonely.

Eventually, through work, I did make some more pals and slowly my confidence grew to the point where I felt comfortable going to the pub and then eventually on a few nights out. Those nights out always ended early for me though, solely because I found them to be quite boring. It wasn't the company at all. It was the going somewhere, ordering your drink – mine’s a Pepsi – then spending the time drinking your drink, arguing where you go next rather than enjoying each other’s company. And because my intention wasn't drinking to get drunk, I drank my drink at a more leisurely pace. I'd end up having to down my drink quickly because the majority of the group would be ready to move on to the next place to do the same all again until you eventually ended up at the same place you would every night out anyway. Eventually after doing this a few times, I gave up with going out – it was really bloody boring!

Through that group of friends, I ended up going to my first ever punk gig and my life changed forever. I had somewhere to go for a night out where I could enjoy the music, have fun and not drink – or so I thought. It turned out that a lot of people saw going to a gig as a big reason to just go out and get drunk. It was just a night out with a live band rather than a god awful DJ playing the same songs as last week, last month, last year etc. I loved gigs though and didn't want to stop going. As I started going to more and more gigs, there came a time when I would have to go by myself because my pals just weren't into it like I was into it. And as I got more into it, I would discover smaller bands playing smaller venues and then life got awesome. These were my people, sure people were drinking and often getting a bit drunk but it wasn't about drinking to get drunk, it was just drinking sociably and getting drunk just kind of happened. I'd never felt more comfortable in such a social setting with that many people who I didn't know. As I got more comfortable in that environment, I became more settled around drunk people. Admittedly it took me a few years to then begin making friends but, largely thanks to this blog and Paul Be Sharp coming to talk to me at a New Cross show, I eventually did and felt more part of a social group than I ever had. In a way, it helped me see why people might decide to drink. It loosens your inhibitions and makes you more social and does help you to make friends. I feel like me deciding not to drink really slowed down my growth as a person and having that ability to talk to people I didn't know.

That last sentence might sound as if I regret being a sober person in my younger days but that's not true. Sure, it definitely made things a lot harder for me but I'm so proud of myself for sticking to my guns and never bowing to the mass amount of peer pressure I've had to deal with throughout my adult life. Do you know how often you get told that "you should try everything once" when you tell people you've never tried alcohol? It's a lot! I started to come up with the most ridiculous or extreme scenarios to tell people they should try them…

For me, this whole feeling of finally being accepted is the biggest thing DIY punk rock has given me. It's given me amazing times, amazing friends and most importantly an amazing life and a feeling of truly belonging somewhere – it's a really lovely feeling. I am now, for the most part, completely comfortable around my drunken friends and actually find a lot of their antics quite comical – when you see your pal introducing themselves to somebody, assuring them they're the least intimidating person they will ever meet whilst getting closer and closer to their face, it's hard not to have a fun time.

I've learnt that it's okay not to drink, it's also okay to drink. Just respect the people around you and don't be a dick. Some people can feel uncomfortable it certain situations – be wary of them, don't pressure them and make them feel worse. Be pals.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Top Tens: Top Ten Reasons To Start A Record Collection

You've all heard by now that people buying records is on the rise. Us folk at CPRW love the vinyl and are constantly adding to our collections. Personally, I check my wanted list on Discogs at least once a day to find some favourites. Whenever I go to a new town I will always do a little bit of research beforehand to see what record shops they have and whether they're likely to have something I'd want. Buying records is great. To show you how great, I've put together a top ten reasons why you should start your record collection (if you're one of the few who haven't already).

Supporting Bands
Continuing to buy physical music is one of the best ways to support a band financially. Sure, we all love a stream for convenience but bands make next to no money on them. Why not splash out and buy their record instead and help them to continue making music?

It Is Nice To Have A Physical Copy
Isn't having something you can hold in your hands just a million times better than something that just exists on your PC, laptop, tablet, phone or whatever else you listen to music on? Especially if you're handing over some of your precious pennies, surely having something physical is just better than digital!

The Whole Package
Something I really love about owning physical music is the whole package that you get. I love the artwork, I love reading the lyrics and the thank yous in the inlay. I love when the vinyl is coloured and watching it spin around on my record deck. These are things you just don't get with downloads.

It Feels Less Like Background Music
Listening to a record feels much more like an event than listening to a music digitally. I find it's easy for digital music to become like background music that I don't really absorb in the same way that I would when listening to a record. To listen to a record you would usually set aside a part of your day to sit, listen and really take it in. There's no skipping to your favourites, you have to listen to the body of music how it was originally intended.

Collecting Things Is Fun
Pretty much self explanatory really – collecting things is fun. Records are a thing that you can collect. That exciting thrill when you find a record you've been searching for for a long time. Maybe it pops up in an online distro or, when you are working your way through a records in a store, you find a gem you've forgotten all about – it never gets old.

It Is A Conversation Piece For House Guests
Emma and I have found our record player set up and collection to be a conversation starter in our home. Whenever we have guests around it's not long before they're checking out our collection looking out for anyone they've heard of. Often non-record collecting pals have been amazed by how you go about playing the record (our record player has a start button so you don't need to position the needle) so there's a nice feeling of seeming cool when you're looking like you know what you're doing and how things work.

Supporting Record Shops
Are there any shops that are more exciting than record shops? Whenever I visit somewhere new, I try and check out whatever record shops I can find. Sometimes you don't find anything you want but so often you can find gold (which is what happened in Japan). Record shops play a big part in helping people discover new bands. How often have you been flicking through the stacks at your local record shop and seen some artwork that you think is cool and gone on to check out the band?

Sometimes it's fun to go through your record collection and dig out some old classics, something you probably wouldn't do on Spotify or wherever else you stream your tunes from. Music has this great quality of soundtracking certain times in your life. Odds are you can remember exactly what was happening in your life when you play your favourite records from 2002.

You Make New Friends
A fun thing to do when you're listening to your records is to share them on your social media accounts. Not only does this give the band some valuable coverage but it also allows you to strike up conversations with people you don't know about them. More often than not, you'll probably have a few musical tastes in common with them and you could make friends. Music does have this great way of bringing folk together. I bet nobody ever made pals through digital music.

It Is An Investment
I imagine most people don't like to sell their records unless they absolutely have to but in a lot of cases you could potentially make money. If you manage to get your hands on some rare, special coloured or first pressings of a record, there's every chance that in a few years down the line it could be worth more than you paid for it. So, in a way, buying records can be seen as an investment for the future. You definitely can't say that about a stream or something you've downloaded!

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Album Review: Divide And Conga by King Punch

Over the past year, King Punch have become one of the bands I get most excited to see live. They're an incredible high-tempo ska punk band with some of the best brass players in the scene. A King Punch live set is the most amount of fun, as well as the most exhausting. I was very pleased when an advanced copy of their first EP since 2017's Low Profile was sent my way. Titled Divide And Conga (a nice little nod to their live show), the EP features three brand new songs as well as a fantastic cover of a nu-metal classic. I got my dancing shoes ready for this review.

Divide And Conga begins with the song Sit Still – something that's pretty impossible to do when listening to King Punch. Like I said in my opening paragraph, King Punch have some of the best horns in ska punk and they quickly get the EP off to a high octane start. The horns are played with such a high tempo and result in the song sounding absolutely massive. Lead singer Liam Creech's vocals also really stand out, as on a recording you get such an appreciation for what a strong singer he is. Sit Still is about feeling anxious and how you're affected if you don't take medication. King Punch are such a fun party band that sometimes you forget they do also write songs that tackle the important issues. Up next is Whole Lotto Love. Beginning with some great drums from Tom Maples, the song isn't quite as high in tempo as the EP's opener but will certainly get you dancing with its swing style. Whole Lotto Love asks the question ‘what have you done to deserve all the things in your life?’ and considers how lucky you might have been. I guess the song could be seen as a political or social conversation on how you don't choose where you're born and how things could be much worse for you.

Weekend Warrior is a song that King Punch have been playing live for a little while now. Going back to that sweet, sweet ska punk sound, Weekend Warrior is about working Monday to Friday and treating Saturday and Sunday like you are a king or queen. Creech really showcases some vocal variety as he, at times, basically raps, sometimes croons and also belts out the big chorus. The chorus cries out to be shouted right back at King Punch – that is if you've got the energy from all the skanking you will be doing during the track. Last up is that classic nu-metal cover that I mentioned. If you've seen King Punch before you've probably guessed what it is – Chop Suey by System Of A Down. I imagine that this is such a difficult song to do a good cover of as it's such a unique and iconic tune. King Punch pull it off though! A band with such talented musicians that are also bursting with creativity and charisma was always going to. If you grew up with this song, like I imagine most of the people reading this did, you're really going to enjoy this. They take everything about the original that makes the song so legendary, add some ska flavourings and produce a fantastic version of a complete banger.

Divide And Conga adds to the already very impressive back catalogue of King Punch releases. The UK ska punk scene has seen a surge in great releases over the past two years and this EP certainly stands amongst the best of them. I am now very much looking forward to seeing these songs live at some point, hopefully very soon.

Like King Punch here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Album Review: Glow by Triple Sundae (by Richard Mair)

Despite only being a band for a brief 5 years, a number of high profile support slots (Pkew x3, Such Gold) coupled with some promising EPs have placed London’s Triple Sundae on the cusp of greatness. Glow, the band’s fifth release, will certainly only enhance their credentials as “the one to watch” ahead of a full length album, with its earnest songwriting, singalong choruses and a musical knack of hitting the right epic moments at the right time so that each song sounds special. With Glow, the band have delivered a near perfect pop punk EP which showcases all of the good things about the genre without bowing to lazy stereotypes or cliche’d tropes.

The six tracks clearly fall into two camps of three. One set are raucous, upbeat punk tunes (“Pollution”, “Dazed” and CPRW 5th birthday charity comp fave “Everything’s Cool”) and the other are a much more melodic emo-tinged trio (“Swisher”, “Glow” and “Safe”). However, as opposed to seeing a dip in quality across the styles, they complement each other wonderfully and both styles are delivered with aplomb.

Of the upbeat punk tunes, “Pollution” is a great opener. Its gritty, throaty lyrics are easy to relate to and the song chugs along with guitar flourishes, a well-constructed bridge section and good use of gang vocals in the chorus. An obvious nod would be to suggest it has an Iron Chic feel to it, albeit with a distinctive British pop punk slant.

“Dazed” is a rocking good tune with a ‘da da da’ ditty which will get lodged in your head and buzz around for ages. In terms of style, it reminds me of another CPRW favourite New York’s Timeshares with its more more blue-collar rock feel, especially to the verses.

Finally of this trio we have “Everything’s Cool”; an epic, fast, singalong song complete with fist-in-the-air moments. Lyrically it’s much darker than the upbeat melody would suggest with its themes of isolation standing out; however it’s the kind of song people will rally around and, as an introduction to the band, it’s a great starting point.

The three more melodic emo tunes have a true Midwestern punk feel to them evoking feelings of Signals Midwest or the more subdued tunes of Philadelphia heroes The Menzingers, perhaps a more left field comparison might even suggest glimpses of The Hotelier. Title track “Glow” is the song where this feels the most apt comparison, with the vocals doing much of the heavy lifting. Closing track “Safe” is similar in this regard. Its much slower start helps demonstrate the band’s songwriting ability and craftsmanship. At the 1:30 minute mark the tempo picks up and you know you’re in epic album closer territory and that’s exactly what Triple Sundae have delivered here, a fitting conclusion to a great EP.

The only song not discussed so far is second track “Swisher”; I cannot describe how amazing this song is apart from it needs to be listened to very loudly. All the individual components described above, which make the release stand out, are present in this one song. Whilst I’d go as far as to say the release is essential, Swisher has the potential to be iconic. The second verse in particular is spine tingling and, as a self-confessed over thinker, it resonates superbly with the daily struggle of second guessing everything. It’s then topped by a closing coda which rounds off a near pop-punk anthem!

With Glow, Triple Sundae have delivered that preserve of all great pop punk bands – the essential EP (think The Movielife’s Gambling Problem). A full length is the obvious next step which, based on this release, can’t come soon enough... but, for now, enjoy this rather delightful cherry on top of their already glowing back catalogue!

Stream and download Glow here:

Like Triple Sundae here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Monday, 8 July 2019

News: Pardon Us Announce Debut Album Wait

Last week Liverpudlian pop punk trio Pardon Us announced the release of their debut album, Wait. The album will be released on 13th September on Everything Sucks Music in the UK, as well as Johann’s Face Records (USA) and Fixing A Hole Records (Japan). It’s a release we’re particularly excited about here at CPRW, having been fans of the band since their 2015 split with Only Strangers – keep your eyes peeled for our review of Wait in the near future.

To whet everyone’s appetites for the full album, Pardon Us have one track streaming now on their Bandcamp page. Titled Inconvenient Reminder, the song sees Pardon Us tackle political themes. It’s great! Head over to Bandcamp now to hear the song and pre-order the album – the vinyl, if that’s your sort of thing, is an awesome purple colour.

Like Pardon Us on Facebook here.

Album Review: Keep Your Chin Up by Tim Hampshire

Australian acoustic punk rocker Tim Hampshire as been playing solo since 2008 and has steadily built up a good following during that time. He has played shows all over the world, including festivals such as The Fest in Gainesville and Pouzza in Montreal. In May he released his latest EP, Keep Your Chin Up. We're big fans of Tim Hampshire, as well as Australia punk music in general, so were keen to check it out.

Keep Your Chin Up begins with Surge Protection. Here we have a powerful and high energy track about being whoever you want to be and always looking forward, never back. Tim has one of those great voices that really lends itself to a great story telling song. He has you captivated from start to finish whilst also empowering you throughout. I Left My Socks In Sacramento is a slower song where Tim sings about life on tour and how it has the ability to help heal you as a person. I instantly enjoyed how different Tim made the song feel to the first just by not strumming on the guitar quite so hard. This song really shows off what a great vocal he has as it grows throughout the song, seemingly getting stronger as he starts to feel better in the narrative of the song. I really appreciate things like that. The EP finishes with Dogman. Dogman is over five and a half minutes long. I have to admit that when I first saw the length of the song I did feel a little bit of dread as I wasn't sure how an acoustic song that long could remain interesting the whole way through – but Tim Hampshire pulls it off. Dogman is about how brilliant dogs are (I agree) and all that they do to help humans, perhaps without the human really realising. The song builds as it goes on and really hits its high point when the gang vocals come in, they sound incredible.

Tim Hampshire is a really gifted musician, singer and songwriter. Keep Your Chin Up is a great showcase of the man’s talent. He's a man who really should be household name in the singer-songwriter world, rather than all the bland song-by-numbers types that currently take up space in the genre. If you're into your acoustic tunes then you need to check Tim out.

Stream and download Keep Your Chin Up here:

Like Tim Hampshire here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Album Review: Defections Split by Actionmen and Dead Neck (by Richard Mair)

Split EPs are always a brilliant way to discover new bands, in this case we have one half from Italian punks Actionmen and the other from UK based Dead Neck released by Mud Cake Records. It would be fair to assume if you are a fan of one of these bands and unfamiliar with the other you’re likely to finish listening to this with a new favourite band you’ll want to explore further!

Opening act Actionmen play real techy punk rock that melds elements of melodic noise oiks Fang Island (see the track “C’est Dada” as the case in point) with more straight up skate punk and by and large it’s an approach that works well. Being a continental band, my yardstick in terms of skate punk is always Burning Heads or I Against I and Actionmen certainly have a feel of both of these bands and that’s definitely a good thing!

One thing that stands out with the Actionmen side is their ability to create off kilter melodies alongside a relentless rhythm. The pick of these songs is their final track on their side “Polite”; it has everything from an anthemic, building guitar line to a real driving beat and lyrics. As an introduction to a creative, slightly odd and unique band, you can’t go wrong!

The most obvious ‘punk’ song of theirs is their first tune “Lion”; which with its reggae style interludes, funk rhythm and persistent driving beat, help ease listeners in to what is a unique experience. This is followed by “Born to be High”; I defy anyone to not love this smile inducing song, and listen out for the machine gun drumming at the end of the song – it’s stunning!

Dead Neck then offer more straight forward skate-punk / melodic hardcore fare; and what it misses with the technical elements of the Actionmen it makes up with the fist in the air anthems. This is the type of punk rock it’s easy to fall in love with, each song is a singalong anthem. From screamed, passionate vocals to beat downs, epic closing codas and brutal drumming, Dead Neck have thrown everything into their side of the EP and it pays off massively!

Their first track “Die Tryin’” starts with a rolling, driving tune before the real melodic moments kick in. It’s typical Epi-Fat influenced music but done superbly and gets you hooked instantly. The second track “Bakers Dozen” is probably the pick of them for me; it’s Pennywise-esque music gives way to a straight hardcore vocal before an insanely catchy chorus and gang vocals. It’s a song with numerous pacing and melody changes but works so well together. If “Die Tryin’” is accused of being generic, this is anything but; what both songs have in common is how brilliant they are to sing along to.

“Clatter” is another excellent fist in the air anthem; perhaps more straight up hardcore, the musicianship on show is stunning. Fast, brutal and angry, it makes way to a Good Riddance-style melodic breakdown which elevates it above many a peer. Their most unusual song on the release is “Seven Shades of Shit”, the electronic vocals coming as a surprise in the first verse on first listen. However it explodes into another anthem, which again demonstrates their knack for a tune and building the song around simple effective melodies. Closing with another fast anthem which will be an absolute blast in a small sweaty dive bar “Blind Into The Dark”, its chorus is one of the best I’ve heard this year. It’s a great way to close the EP.

Overall what we have here is a brilliant release with neither band outstaying their welcome, offering something different but complementary and constantly worthy or repeat spins. One added incentive to buy it is the artwork; the cover art by Mark Bell Illustration is just brilliant and you’ll want a physical copy to enjoy looking at it!

Stream and download Defections here:

Like Actionmen here:

Like Dead Neck here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Top Tens: Tom and Liam of King Punch's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Green Day
This first one is mega obvious but I'd have to say Green Day to start us off. I'm really not much of a fan of what they are putting out these days but I still remember buying Dookie as a lanky teenager at an airport (before a very long flight) and just boshing through set after set of batteries on my shitty walkman, getting my mind absolutely blown for the whole flight. I'd never heard anything like it at the time and it just opened up all this amazing music to me from that point on.

My first punk rock conga line was at a Lightyear gig. Need we say more? It's impossible to overstate just how bloody exciting Lightyear were at the peak of their power. It felt like anything could happen at one of their shows. They could take over anything (even all of Reading festival) and make it their own. It was amazing for us to get to support them at Level Up last year. (Cheers Be Sharp!!)

The Distillers
I was sat at a mate's house one day, he had this smile on his face and said "Oh shit, I've got a CD to play you that you're going to love..." and he put on 'Sing Sing Death House'. I was hooked after that first guitar line and very soon after we formed our first punk band (a two-piece where we swapped guitar and drum duties mid-set like a couple of right little show-offs), we were called 'The Halo Effect'. What a non-embarrassing band name!! Legend has it that all of the noise complaint letters we got from the council are still hanging up in the rock ’n’ roll hall of fame somewhere next to a signed picture of Dave Grohl's cock and balls.

4ft Fingers
One of the UK early 2000s punk bands who do not get enough love and respect. Fast, punchy and catchy as all hell. I saw 4ft Fingers with my besties in The Splash when I was 16 and we all just wanted to be in that band.

As much as I find these guys a little punk-cheesy these days (who doesn't like rhyming 'life' with 'strife'? Who?!), when I first discovered them I just devoured everything they'd written so far and it got me onto a load of other Epitaph bands. Practising guitar to the Pennywise back catalogue single-handedly taught me how to properly shred palm-mute stuff, haha! However, I still can't drum Pennywise-fast for more than 10 seconds without melting like cheap ice cream on a radiator.

Mad Caddies
Anyone who saw an early KP show would have seen us butchering a cover of Leavin' (you're welcome – and sorry!). Mad Caddies are just musically incredible. A big, brash, bold, swingin', rockin', skankin' machine of a band. It was great to hear them back at their best on last year's covers album.

Rocket From The Crypt
Not strictly a punk band but there's loads of lashings of garage punk in what they do, I bang on about this band all the time because they are fucking awesome! Like so many bands, I only discovered them once they'd broken up, but then they reformed and I managed to catch them in Paris – genuinely one of the best gigs I've ever seen. They've got an amazing balance of obviously having loads of fun playing but staying super fucking cool at the same time. Check out their old song 'Pictures of Lenny' and grab yourself a new pair of pants before you do (you'll need them).

The Hold Steady
The perfect rock ’n’ roll band for massive nights every time. I find it hard to talk about lyrics; personally I love storytellers (see also Art Brut, Eat The Evidence and The Boss) and I love the way Craig Finn tells 'em. I am not good enough to write stories in the same way so I rely on clumsy metaphors, rhyming couplets, a wing and a prayer. Buy hey, if you're gonna aspire to something, aspire to the best.

The Offspring
Another obvious one, but Smash is still one of the best punk albums out there and the first time I heard it my stupid little brain melted out of my ears. As a teenager, you know you are listening to something cool from the look on your parent's faces as they walk in just at the pinnacle of the singer shouting 'You stupid dumb-shit god damn MOTHERFUCKEEER!' That album is just absolutely full of gold – I think I genuinely broke the CD from how much I used to listen to it – and the ones directly before and after it are very close to my heart too.

Less Than Jake
The first time I swore it was the last time I would go see Less Than Jake was over ten years ago. I always think 'I have got to stop watching Less Than Jake because last time they were amazing and I want to remember them just like that'. Then I get the itch, watch them again and they are great – so the cycle continues…

King Punch have a new EP named Divide And Conga out on July 12th. Keep up to date with all things King Punch here:

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Album Review: Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! by The Hippaes (by Emma Prew)

The Hippaes are a four-piece indie punk meets power pop band from the south of England – 3 parts Southsea, 1 part Falmouth. Consisting of Kelly Kemp (of Dear Everyone) and Roo Pescod (of Bangers) sharing vocal and guitar duties, with Ben Pescod on bass and Mark Denny on drums (both of Attack Vipers), The Hippaes are an experienced bunch in the DIY punk scene. It’s been a few years since the band’s first EP, I Just Want To Float In The Void, was released but now they’re back with their debut full-length. Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! is a fun title for an album but is the music any good?

Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! opens with a song titled Inspiration. This immediately feels like a breath of fresh air as Kelly’s smooth, clear vocals contrast wonderfully with some distorted guitars. The vocal delivery is loud and almost forceful, as Kelly sings about the connections between mental health and creativity. It’s all over in less than two minutes but is a great kick-start to the album. Next up is Set The Agenda. After only adding minor harmonies in the first song, here we experience the brilliant distinction between Roo and Kelly’s vocals properly for the first time – it’s definitely a key draw of the Hippaes sound. Roo’s gruffer tones take the lead with Kelly singing the same lines but more softly. Something about the line ‘We’re going to build a new kind of Vatican’ screams Bangers to me but as the song progresses it becomes its own brand of catchy, upbeat and feel-good.

The third song, You Lay Down, is much slower in pace than the previous two tracks. The layered guitar parts give the track an almost dream-like feel that washes over you as the song progresses. The overall melody is repetitive yet methodical. With an obviously darker tone than much of the rest of the album, Roo says that this song is about his friend Jasmine who died how he found himself feeling guilty about it. Following on from You Lay Down is another slower paced song, I Once Felt Alive. Unlike the previous track however, I Once Felt Alive feels more hopeful and, in a way, care-free. The soulful riffs help to give the song summery vibes which are very welcome given that this album is released in the summertime.

The Ghost opens up with a soft yet fuzzy riff that has you thinking that this might be a quiet song but then, as if a switch is flicked, the rest of the band comes in. Kelly’s sugary sweet vocals – ‘You are the monster, I am the ghost.’ – are set against a bass-heavy almost grungey backing which is another instance of the Hippaes’ contrasting sound working so well. It’s all very eerie but then this song is about a ghost (either literally or metaphorically, I’m not sure). Next up is the super upbeat and infectiously poppy You Let Me Be. The track is very fast paced, therefore it makes perfect sense that the short but sweet chorus comes in after just 20 seconds. You Let Me Be is quite simply about how you can just be yourself around certain special people – quite sweet really. With a nice balance between the two vocalists throughout the track’s duration this is a great introduction to The Hippaes, if you wanted to start with just one song. Plus, there’s a video to aid this.

The seventh song, I Was A Light, switches things up once again. Opening with the line ‘I was a light that was left on every night.’ the song has a stripped back sound with just softly strummed guitar melodies and Roo’s vocals – at least to begin with. It’s slow and full of emotion. Then, half way through, the full band come in and progress into a lengthy instrumental, almost experimental, interlude. Simply put, this song sounds huge by the end. Kicking off with a distinct bassline and steady drum beat – The Hippaes’ rhythm section shining – Space takes the album in yet another new direction. Roo sounds particularly bitter with his vocal delivery which is reflected in the melody. Space is little bit about getting older and less ‘hip’ and a little bit about drinking wine in space. It certainly feels spacey musically so that helps reinforce the second theory. 

The penultimate track, The Backseat, starts with a groovy walking bass line and a yell of ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’. This is a short, simple and highly repetitive song but it is only repetitive within itself as it manages to sound completely different to all the tracks that came before it. It might just be me but the vocals sound distant, almost like they are literally being sung from the backseat while you’re listening in the front – that’s just silly isn’t it?. With a big punk rock riff opening, Heartbeats And Sand aims to end Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! in style. This is a nostalgic tune reflecting on what you had when you were younger and how your opinions may have changed on such things now. The chorus is as catchy as it is impactful – ‘We’ve got heartbeats and sand, We’ve got a long long way to go, Don’t know anything, Don’t miss anything, Don’t know.’ It’s a longer track that builds and builds towards the end. In a way, the song feels more straightforward and accessible than some of the songs on this release but it also ensures that the album finishes with a bang.

There’s so much variety in Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! that I’d say there’s something here for everyone, particularly if you were already a fan of any of the members’ previous bands. Regardless, it’s certainly a lot of fun. The album is out now on Everything Sucks Records.

You can stream and download Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! on Bandcamp now.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Album Review: Withdraw by Fresh (by Robyn Pierce)

London-based indie punks Fresh have just released their second full-length album titled Withdraw via Specialist Subject Records. I discovered Fresh last year in the run up to MPF and loved their self-titled album, so I’ve really been looking forward to hearing Withdraw since it was announced. Fortunately, Fresh also released a 7-inch earlier this year (featuring the fantastic tracks ‘Daytime’ and ‘Nighttime’) so I’ve had other new material to tide me over until I could get my hands on the latest album, but Withdraw is finally here and I can’t wait to dive into it.

The title track introduces the album with a hefty bit of fuzz and a hulking melody. The sound is surprisingly murky, but still quintessentially Fresh with Kathryn Woods’ unmistakable vocals and a recognisable immediacy in both the melody and the lyrics. The album seemingly begins with the withdraw from ‘public’ life that comes with the end of a tour. Woods talks about this in an interview with Ladyfuzz, where she says that she “wrote many of these songs after touring and travelling” and that they’re “about feeling alone and then finding solidarity, trying to love yourself more, and being very sweaty”. At one point in ‘Withdraw’, she wonders “How do I adjust to life after tour?” And the rest of the album jumps in to provide a possible answer to this question, beginning promptly with the jaunty strains of ‘Nervous Energy’. The second track has an upbeat, country feel that captures the restless excitement of a new crush, and builds at various points with some nice background woah woahs.

Coming up after this are two songs that were released as singles ahead of the album, ‘Going To Brighton’ and ‘Willa’. ‘Going To Brighton’ bursts open with an infectious guitar hook and a capering melody that carries you effortlessly through the entire song. There are some more well-placed woahs, together with an awesome solo/breakdown section. ‘Willa’ has a fun syncopated beat and brings back some of the fuzz of the opening track. The title of the song is a tribute to American writer Willa Cather, but the lyrics speak to the freedom and enjoyment of performing on stage. Both songs really showcase Fresh at their best, but the album still has many surprises in store.

‘No Thanks’ is very different to any other Fresh song I’ve heard before. The high-pitched guitar gives the song a whimsical, old-timey feel that I really like, and is perfectly complemented by the shuffling, jazz-y drumming. I can’t help but bop along to this song, and Woods’ delivery of the lines “I am fire and light. I am fine on my own. I am everything and nothing all at once” is superb. The same guitar tone appears in ‘New Girl’, giving it a similarly ‘new’ sound, but it’s the grooving bass and the smooth layering of sounds that really stands out in this song. ‘In Over My Head’ makes use of some driving guitar and a steady drum beat to give the song some head-bopping momentum, while ‘Getting Ready’ utilizes another catchy hook to capture the charged anticipation of looking ahead to a fun (or relaxing) night’s activities (or lack thereof).

The three concluding tracks on the album (I’ll put ‘Reprise’ aside for the moment) are probably my favourite of the lot. ‘Punisher’ begins like a really fun ensemble number from a musical (in fact, towards the end, Woods delivers a few lines from Grease’s ‘Summer Lovin’ that fit in perfectly with the song’s rhythm and mood) and I love its 60s doo-wap vibe, which comes through in the vocal harmonies as well as the swinging beat. ‘Nothing’ and ‘Revenge’ feel like two sides of the same moment when you’re trying to will yourself out of a perpetual cycle of low self-esteem, anxiety, and self-reproach. Although all of Woods’ lyrics spring from a noticeably direct and honest style of songwriting, ‘Nothing’ feels particularly open and raw. This is complimented by the fact that it’s an acoustic track with some affecting horn playing right at the end. ‘Revenge’ begins softly with some delicate guitar picking, swapping the previous refrain of “Everyday I tell myself that I am nothing” with the self-affirming mantra of “I am valued, I am loved”, gradually building until it blooms into a defiant and uplifting chorus. The album could have ended quite nicely here, on the uproarious notes of personal encouragement, but Withdraw closes more softly with the soulful aah ah aahs of ‘Reprise’.

My excitement to hear this album put a lot of pressure on Fresh to deliver, and they’ve fully met my expectations. Once again, Fresh have given us an album that is not just catchy, fun, and engaging but also open, raw, and sincere. A minor criticism might be that this album does not develop some of the punkier elements of the self-titled (I’m thinking specifically of a song like ‘Bible Camp’). Nevertheless, these songs are punchy and energetic, with loads of fantastic hooks, charming melodies, and highly quotable lyrics. In fact, on the topic of quotable lyrics, Fresh also released a gorgeous set of patches (designed by Bloodflower Design) to go along with the album. These feature lines from ‘Going to Brighton’, ‘New Girl’, and ‘Revenge’. I couldn’t pick a favourite, so I just ordered the whole set. They’re an excellent accompaniment to an equally excellent album.

Stream and download Withdraw here:

Like Fresh here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Album Review: And Then What Happened Was… by Kill The Rooster (by Lee Morton)

One of my favourite new band discoveries in the past couple of years has been Danish punks Forever Unclean so when I heard that Kill The Rooster was made up of two thirds of them I jumped at the chance to review their new EP. Having formed way back in 2007 and with a number of EPs and a full-length album under their belt, my expectations were set high and this didn’t disappoint.

Expecting more of the skate punk and melodies that Forever Unclean are known for, I was initially surprised by opening track “Machine”, kicking off as it does with a sleazy rock ’n’ roll riff that subsides into more straightforward punk. Guitarist and vocalist Carsten Hansen’s snarled delivery adds plenty of bite to the vocals while big singalongs and harmonies burrow their way into your head so quickly that you’re tapping your feet and singing along before the end of the first track.

A great start but it’s on the next track that things really take off. An incessant riff drives “Bombs” along as Leo Wallin pounds the skins creating the foundations to a track that has hints of the emo/goth bombast of bands like My Chemical Romance and AFI. In fact, over the course of the short EP there are nods again to both these bands as well as Green Day. Not exactly a tribute or rip-off of them but certainly an acknowledgement to their influences – and this tune is so catchy that you won’t be able to stop humming it.

“Time To Change” follows and keeps the quality levels high. The rumbling bassline courtesy of Troels Bak underpins the whole song, which is a little more up-tempo in pace and delivery, while the gang vocals and harmonies had me reminiscing early Billy Talent records.

Final track, “Walls”, appears to address depression/mental health issues and the layers of sound give it a claustrophobic feel, probably how anyone with mental health issues must feel at times. At under a minute and a half, it’s a short and sweet sign off to an excellent EP.

At four tracks and a little over ten minutes long, it’s a perfect re-introduction to the band – long enough to remind you of their quality but not too long as to overstay its welcome. In fact, I was left wanting more. I absolutely loved how instantly recognisable the Kill The Rooster sound is on this record but they have still added their own ingredients to create something very special.

Stream and download And Then What Happened Was… here:

This Kill The Rooster here:

This review was written by Lee Morton.