Monday, 13 July 2020

Album Review: Just Stay Calm by Panic Problem (by Chris Bishton)

Like a lot of people, the COVID lockdown has meant I've been able to spend more time than usual checking out new bands. Once of my favourites I've discovered over the last few months is Baltimore's Panic Problem, a three piece pop punk band who released their debut album, Just Stay Calm, a couple of months ago.

Formed in 2018, but by three people with plenty of experience – Neal Page, Tom Gilhuley and Sue Werner from War on Women – the band remained a three piece after Werner departed due the rise and rise of WOW, being replaced by Jeff Brigman on bass.

Just Stay Calm is the band's debut album, although it does include four songs that were originally released on their debut EP. Not a problem for me as I'm new to the band, but I know some people can be a little disappointed when albums include 'too much' previously released material. That aside, it's 11 absolutely pure pop punks bangers, that was recorded with Pete Steinkopf from the Bouncing Souls, resulting in songs that sit in the same mould as a lot of fast, anthemic bands with that early 90s sound. Think Lagwagon meets Sicko (and if you don't remember Sicko, you should check them out – they were the early 90s pop punks that should have gone on to world domination, not Green Day).

As the band's name, and indeed album title suggests, much if not all that they sing about is associated with mental health issues. As I sit here writing this in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week, whilst most are still in some form of lockdown/isolation, it strikes me that even though the sound is similar, pop punk (and of course, much of society) has come a reasonably long way and it's great to hear so many bands address this subject so openly now. There's still some way to go, but bands like Panic Problem really do help encourage a positive culture in association with mental health. (By the way, you can still grab a download of CPRW's birthday comp on Bandcamp, with all proceeds going to the UK mental health charity Mind if you haven't already done so.)

But don't be fooled into thinking this album is going to be a solemn or introverted affair given its subject matter. Far from it. It's upbeat, feel good, positive and celebratory. As it should be. The first song, Time Flies, lets you know exactly what you're in for – a cocktail of fast guitars, relatable singalong lyrics and a super catchy chorus.

What follows are 10 more tracks in a very similar vein. There's not a great deal of variation with these, again a bit like a lot of those great pop punk albums that came before, which is just fine by me! But of course everyone will have their favourites on the album, mine being Works Suck In General, Stormy Weather and I Hate Tuesdays, but I'm sure anyone can easily pick out three completely different tracks. If you can manage to remember what it was like to be in an audience, try then to picture that whole audience singing along to every song a band plays. That's what I imagine will happen once these guys eventually get to play these songs live again. All pretty similar, but all audience favourites.

I don't think Panic Problem have set out to be anything other than what they have done with this album. Some might say we heard all this way back in the 90s, which might be true, but that's not to say that it isn't any good. There may have been a lot released back then that I really don't like, but it was also a bit of a golden age for this type of pop punk that Panic Problem have once again captured here.

Stream and download Just Stay Calm on Bandcamp here.

Like Panic Problem on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Top Tens: Frank from Much The Same's Top Ten Comics

Hi, I’m Frank and I play bass in Much The Same and I am also a lover of comics and cartoons. Comics and cartoons have always been my mental Xanax. (If you have ever met me, you know I’m a high strung dude.) Though they’re a bunch of books with pictures, there are some really great artists and stories out there. Here’s ten that I really enjoy in no particular order.

Batman: Hush
Whenever someone tells me they want to get into comics, this is the first one I lend them. First, because I fucking love Batman. Second, this comic has EVERYONE. Heroes. Villains. You also get a great mystery that introduces a new villain and one of the best Batman vs. Superman fights out there. Also, Jim Lee is probably my favorite artist when it comes to drawing superheroes.

Thor: God Of Thunder

The first Thor book I read. Puts the god of thunder against The God Butcher, who is essentially a brutal god serial killer. This one, if you make it to the second book, really makes you think. You get some time travel/flashbacks in this one and get to see a badass sky fight between a young arrogant Thor and The God Butcher. I’m really hoping this one makes it to the MCU, but I doubt it. That fight would look great on a big screen.

Ultimate Spider-Man vol 4 Legacy (issues 22–27)
Marvel kicked off the Ultimate series to introduce fans to old heroes from the beginning. You can never really go wrong reading one of these and anything by Brian Bendis is usually safe to be solid. Before this issue, Peter Parker is still finding his footing (and getting the shit kicked out of him) as Spider-Man. In this issue, I think he really steps into the role. There's a great battle with the Green Goblin and you see the badass Peter is becoming.

Locke And Key

I’m just going to say read the whole series. It’s IT meets Strangers Things meets whimsical adventures of children… but sometimes the kids may get their eyes ripped out. Magic keys and monsters, beautiful art – it has it all. I also recommend reading any novel by Joe Hill.

Green Lantern: Omnibus by Geoff Johns
I impulsively paid $100 dollars for this after a drunken trip to the comic shop. It’s the size of Moby Dick and worth it. My favorite part of it is the Sinestro Corps War where we are given the inception of Yellow Lanterns, their back stories, and a pretty epic space battle. If you’re looking to get into Green Lantern, you’ll be an expert by the end. I also love that anyone who’s brave can be a Lantern. My niece thought Green Lantern was a guy and it was cool to see her pumped that a girl could be one as well. Man, woman, alien, gay, anyone without fear can join the Corp.

Civil War
The MCU version was great and the source material is right on par. Enough stuff was left out of the movie that this read will be new to you if you only saw the film. Same basic premise of Captain America squad vs. Iron Man squad. We also get an adult Spider-Man whose story arc in this is my favorite, and adult Spider-Man knows how to beat some ass.

DC Identity Crisis
Someone is killing members of the Justice League’s families in some pretty brutal ways. Question is who? This is a great mystery and it has everyone from the JLA. Amazing battle as well with Deathstroke single handedly taking on members of the JLA.

Mark Waid’s Daredevil vol 5 (issues 22–27)
Known as the man without fear, here we find Daredevil afraid. His best friend is dying of cancer and all his loved ones are being targeted. A battle with the villain Ikari leaves him beaten and terrified. I recommend all of Waid’s Daredevil. Daredevil is a character who has been lower than low and struggles with depression. Waid tried to reinvent him as a man trying to beat that and putting on a happy face. Something we can all relate to sometimes.

Deadpool: Secret Invasion
Deadpool vs. The Skrulls. I peed myself laughing out loud with this one. Deadpool is smart, funny, and ruthless. Wait till you get to the part where they clone the Skrulls from Deadpool’s DNA.

Batman: Death In The Family

I was obsessed with Robin as a kid and this one features the death of the second more violent Robin, Jason Todd. This comic showed me that comics weren’t just books where heroes sweep in and save the day. It was bloody, violent, and tragic. The panels of The Joker beating Robin, a child, with a crowbar over and over and over and over and over again… are haunting. Probably shouldn’t have read this as a kid. However, highly recommend this now and this event led to great characters and stories down the line.

Like Much The Same on Facebook here.

Much The Same recently releases a remixed and remastered version of their classic album Quitters Never Win on Lockjaw Records. Buy it here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Album Review: Split by Catbite & Omnigone

Bad Time Records are without a doubt the best ska punk label in the world at the moment. It seems as if everything they release is absolute gold and with every announcement they make I know I need to check out the bands. On the 5th of June the label releases a new four song split featuring Catbite and Omnigone. On the four song split, the bands cover one of each other’s songs as well as covering a classic punk song from the past. Both acts are among the hottest in the scene right now so I was very keen to check out the split.

Philadelphia’s Catbite are the first band up. They decided to cover Omnigone’s Horizontal Aggression. Omnigone’s original version of the song is more of an upbeat skacore style. Catbite’s take on the song sees them add some organ and it gives the song a more traditional ska sound. I felt like this actually really helped to get the song’s message of unity coming across even more than on the original. Catbite’s classic cover is White Riot by The Clash. This song doesn’t stray too far from the original. The band do a great job of retaining the energy and spirit of the track. It’s a brave decision to cover one of the most well known songs of a band as legendary of The Clash but Catbite certainly do it justice.

Omnigone kick off their side of the split with a cover of Catbite’s Scratch Me Up. Here Omnigone take a song that has more of a traditional two tone ska song and transform it into a hardcore song. Interestingly, reading the promo notes, Omnigone’s Adam originally wanted to do a ska punk cover of the track before he was convinced to turn it into a hardcore song. I absolutely loved this version almost as much as I love Catbite’s version. You can tell that the band had a lot of fun doing it as well. Omnigone’s other track on the split is a cover of Nothing New, a song that’s probably best known as a Link 80 song but was originally written for Omnigone’s Barry’s old band, Blast Bandits. (In case you didn’t know, Adam and Barry of Omnigone are both former members of Link 80). This version of the song feels more stripped back without the horns of the Link 80 version but still retains all of its energy.

This is such a fun little split by two of the best ska punk bands to emerge over the past few years. If you like these songs, I really urge you to check out both band’s most recent albums. If you’re a fan of ska punk, they are essential for your collection.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp here.

Like Catbite on Facebook here and like Omnigone on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Album Review: Bon Voyage by Mikey Erg

Mikey Erg is one of the most popular and prolific songwriters of the worldwide punk rock scene so I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t more fanfare surrounding his new four track EP Bon Voyage. I feel like this was mainly because it was released in time for Erg’s European summer tour which was obviously postponed due to COVID-19. Bon Voyage was released by the always brilliant Dutch record label Stardumb Records and sees Erg return to his pop punk roots.

Bon Voyage begins with its title track. The song wastes no time in starting as Erg’s unmistakable vocals welcome you to the song, and the EP, in an explosive fashion. For me, this is Erg at his very best – the song is fast but also so melodic and full of hooks. Interestingly, he has managed to craft an extremely catchy song without the track even having a chorus. The harmonies from Lydia Loveless are a very nice touch. The second track is titled The New Departure Blues. This song isn’t quite as bombastic as Bon Voyage and has more of a similar vibe to his previous two solo albums rather than his work with The Ergs. The song is about coming to terms with the breakup of a relationship and admitting that “you said the wrong things for a long time today.”

The upbeat pop punk returns on Colleen. This song is just pure energy from start to finish and will be brilliant when played live to an enthusiastic crowd. Like all the best pop punk, it’s brilliance is in its simplicity. Each verse is one line repeated four times so it gets stuck in your head immediately. There’s a positive hope in the song as Erg reassures the listener that they are not alone. The final song on Bon Voyage is a cover of The Beatles song Mother Nature’s Son. I know a miniscule amount about The Beatles so had to listen to the original to really know the difference. The Beatles original is a slower track but on Erg’s version he adds a lot of tempo and life to the song and it’s much more my kind of thing. I know that Erg is a big Beatles fan so I assume he had a lot of fun covering the song.

It was great to hear Mikey Erg return to his roots for Bon Voyage. It’s a short and snappy EP that you would expect given his past pop punk history. It’s a massive shame it’ll likely be a year before he is back in Europe but I look forward to hearing these songs live then.

Stream and download Bon Voyage on Bandcamp here.

Like Mikey Erg on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Album Review: Net Profit by The Scuts

The Scuts are a three piece pop punk band from London influenced by the likes of NOFX, No Use For A Name, The Offspring and Descendents. Originally an acoustic folk duo before growing into a electric three piece, the band have recently released their second album named Net Profit. Let’s see what it’s like.

Net Profit begins with a short song named Sony (Suck My Boney). This track is only twenty four seconds long and starts out a bit folky before finishing in a rowdy fashion. It’s about how punk rock isn’t cool and fashionable and gets ignored by the major labels. London Living Slave feels like the first proper song on the album. It’s an uptempo pop punk song about struggling to get by on the living wage. It’s fast and punchy but is also underlined with some sweet harmonies. The song has a great sing-along quality that will unite a crowd of people who are probably all struggling with the same thing. Punk rock always does a great job of showing people they are not alone. Generation Rent is about how rent is becoming unaffordable in many parts of the country and how landlords take advantage of people. Sadly this is a big problem in the UK but it’s great to hear a band shine a light on this issue. This is another hugely relatable song that will unite the people listening to it. That’s All Volks is a slower and more melodic song where you can hear the band’s Offspring influence. The track is about how big global corporations often have ties with fascist organisations and that we should fight against them. It’s an interesting listen that really makes you think about who you give your money to.

The fifth song, Monet, begins in a pretty sombre fashion before jumping up a few gears and becoming a full on melodic punk track. NOFX are clearly a big influence on the sound of the track, particularly their song Leave It Alone. UK Minimum Wage sees The Scuts showing off their folk punk origins. This really adds another element to the album and keeps it feeling fresh. It’s about how the minimum wage doesn’t go up as quickly as price inflation. This means many people struggle financially whilst the rich people just get richer. The Scuts take aim at the Conservative government who have willingly let this happen. What a bunch of bastards the Tories are. X-Fucktor sees The Scuts jump back to a skate punk style for a song where they talk about people’s obsessions with TV talent shows and how people use them as stepping stones to get famous rather than earning it the more traditional way. Coming from a punk background that values DIY ethics very highly, seeing performers earn their stripes in this way is something that is very frustrating and I completely relate to The Scuts on this track.

Hypnocratic is a mid-tempo track about how political parties lie to you to make you vote for them and that eventually people will begin to see through these lies. It took me far too long to work out the pun in the title of this track. Given the subject of the song, you might expect it to be an angrier sounding track but in truth it’s pretty uplifting, particularly when they sing about the revolution that will come soon enough. The ninth track on Net Profit is named Getting Lucky. On this track The Scuts step away from the politics and play a song about some misadventures in sex. It’s all a bit silly and doesn’t really feel that in keeping with the album. That said, punk rock doesn’t always have to be super serious and should also have a sense of humour. Plagiarism is the title of the penultimate track. It’s a tongue in cheek song about ripping off other band’s music and lyrics and claiming it as your own. Throughout the song, there are little nods to other band’s songs that are quite fun to try and pick out. Net Profit is finished by Hey Sister, Seoul Sister. After a long audio clip talking about North Koreans moving south, we are treated to the heaviest song on the album. I really enjoyed hearing The Scuts head in this direction and think it was a great way to finish Net Profit.

Net Profit is a fine pop punk album from a London band that I wasn’t too familiar with before. They don’t really reinvent the wheel here but it’s a fun listen and they touch upon many important subjects that people need to listen to. For the most part, they talk about more local political problems which makes the album really relatable for me.

Stream and download Net Profit on Bandcamp here.

Like The Scuts on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Column: CPRW Recommendations For Bandcamp Day

Tomorrow (Friday July 3rd) Bandcamp are having another day where they waive all of their fees to help support the artists on their platform. Bandcamp recognises that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of bands and artists have lost a major revenue stream due to not being able to gig. These special days have been amazingly helpful for the bands and have also brought the music community together. We’re big fans of Bandcamp here at CPRW and Marcus had the idea of each of us picking a band or release to recommend people check out tomorrow.

Self-Indulgent One-Take Woefuls (Acoustic) by Goodbye Blue Monday

If sadder versions of really sad songs is your thing then this is an EP for you! Glasgow’s Goodbye Blue Monday take three old songs and one new one and strip them back to make them so heartbreakingly beautiful you can’t help but get emotional. The songs sound so different to their rowdy, full band accompaniments and it really is a testament to Graham Lough’s incredible song writing ability. The EP is raising funds for Rad Apples and Conroy’s Basement in Dundee, home of the wonderful Make-That-A-Take Records. (This EP also comes with a trigger alert – if you’re struggling in any way, please be aware when listening to this EP).

Dead Inside by CF98 (Dan #2)

This EP is a fifteen-minute slice of punk-rock heaven. Each song is a chorus-driven hard-hitter complemented by perfect backing riffs. They also touch on great subjects such as gender stereotypes and mental health. As soon as I picked up this record, the title track (Dead Inside) resonated with me and helped me with my personal mental health issues I'm facing during lockdown. It felt like a friendly reminder that I'm not the only one feeling a little dead inside right now. If you like NOFX or Useless I.D. then don't sleep on this little EP – it's the best one I've heard so far this year!

We Live Here by Bob Vylan

London two piece grime punk act Bob Vylan released We Live Here on June 5th. From what I've heard from it, the album is eerily relevant to the current social climate and that makes it a very important listen. It's a politically hard hitting album that will inspire, enlighten and educate anyone listening to it. If you want to hear the entire album, you have to buy it as Bob Vylan have decided not to release it in full on streaming platforms.

Structure / Average At Best by Sunliner (Emma)

At the beginning of the year, before things all went down the drain, I made a list of ten bands I was excited about in 2020 and one of those bands was Leeds-based foursome Sunliner. Formerly known as Jake & The Jellyfish, Sunliner put out their first new music under their new guise recently. With the help of Lockjaw Records, Structure / Average At Best is the name of said release and both songs are excellent singalongable melodic punk rock with lyrical content that I’m sure many will be able to relate to – think working a minimum wage job you don’t enjoy and wondering where the time goes and/or what you’re doing with your life. As with all bands, Sunliner’s plans for 2020 have been put on hold but I’m glad they were able to get these songs out. I expect 2021 will be a big year for them.

Lockdown Unplugged by Ripcord Records

Lockdown Unplugged is a forty-five track acoustic compilation from Ripcord Records. It features a whole host of our favourites such as Paper Rifles, Burnt Tapes, Müg, ALLDEEPENDS, Don Blake, Codename Colin, Knife Club, Dead Neck and many more. All the acts featured recorded acoustic versions whilst in lockdown for the compilation. If forty-five acoustic tracks isn’t enough to wet your appetite then know that Lockdown Unplugged is also raising money for the mental health charity Support In Mind. If you buy the compilation on Bandcamp day, the charity will receive even more money. It’s a no-brainer purchase.

Jilted Lover by Quaker Wedding (Marcus)

Since my job went remote, my furthest drive is now is to the “other side of town”, which in my small city is about six minutes away. Coincidentally, it’s just enough time to listen to both songs from Quaker Wedding’s first single, “Jilted Lover”. Both songs are a perfect blend of self-loathing and regret, with a gruff delivery that really hits the spot. If there are any better songs than these that have been released this year, I haven’t heard them. I’m looking forward to their debut full length “In Transit” on Salinas Records in September.

Heavy Seas by Misfortune Cookie (Richard)

Let’s face it, this year has been an absolute write off and whilst we should have been basking in a summer of awesome tunes and amazing gigs we’ve been reduced to thinking of what could have been. One band I feel have been affected massively by this is the wonderful Misfortune Cookie... a name that seems ever-so apt given the circumstances. Last year’s Heavy Seas was an album full of bright, big summer songs and over the course of the year would have been taking their brand of Northern punk to the masses with some high profile support slots with the likes of Signals Midwest and Strike Anywhere (I was hoping to catch them at both) as well as a stint at Manchester Punk Festival. Sadly they’ll be unable to make any new friends at any of these now cancelled shows; so if you’ve not already done so pick up a copy of one of the best albums of last year, self-isolate in your garden, grab a craft beer and immerse yourself in its wonderfulness.

Covered-19 by Cherbourg Harps Assembly

Cherbourg Harps Assembly features Jan and Claire from Aberdeen bands Seas, Starry. Claire came up with the idea to cover 19 songs for an album to raise money for an animal sanctuary named Willows, which is based in the North East of Scotland. Willows looks after elderly and abused animals and relies on donations to stay afloat. Obviously, like a lot of charities and organisations, it has been hit hard by COVID-19. Among the artists covered on Covered-19 are Abba, Madonna, The Beatles, Tragical History Tour, Press Club, Stevie Nicks and Sonic Youth.

Stay Home. Stay Alive. Organise. by Davey Dynamite

Whenever somebody asks me for an artist they might not have heard of to check out, I will nine times out of ten say Davey Dynamite. Their last album Holy Shit is my favourite ever. In May, Davey released a brand new song titled Stay Home. Stay Alive. Organise. It’s an acoustic track that deals with the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how the government and media are using it for their own gain. The title of the track is based off the slogan by the Poor People’sCampaign. All money made from the track will be given to Davey’s neighbourhood’s mutual aid group for services like mask/sanitiser distribution, food delivery, supporting houseless communities and paying rent. If interested, you can download the track for free now and donate here to avoid the cut that Bandcamp takes – or download it on Bandcamp day and everyone wins.

The Ol’ Reacharound by Monday Morning Justice (Robyn) 

We Did This Records is a DIY punk distro from South Africa, and their Bandcamp is jam-packed with excellent SA punk releases. Most recently, the Johannesburg-based band Monday Morning Justice put out an EP entitled ‘The Ol’ Reacharound’ that’s been keeping me going while we’ve all been under lockdown and unable to have any local shows. MMJ’s sound borrows from a lot of influences, mixing together folk and ska punk with a liberal dash of South African flavour. Their latest EP really shows the band at the top of their game. The people behind We Did This Records are also just lovely humans who would really appreciate your support.

South Somewhere Else by Nana Grizol
Athens, Georgia, indie folk punk band Nana Grizol released their new album South Somewhere Else on June 26th. Lead by former Defiance, Ohio member Theo Hilton, this is the follow up to 2018's Theo Zumm LP. A concept album inspired by growing up in Athens, South Somewhere Else is one of the most beautiful folk punk albums I've ever heard. It's a quieter and slicker sounding style than you might expect but still empowers you in ways that all the best punk albums do.

Pleasure Vision by Bacchae (Emma)

I’m ashamed to say that I only came across Washington, D.C., four-piece Bacchae when they were listed on Angry Grrrl Music Of The Indie Rock Persuasion’s 100+ Black Artists To Support On Bandcamp Day article last Bandcamp day – but I guess that was the point of the article, to check out bands you may not know! I instantly took a liking to their synth-driven raw indie punk and the album Pleasure Vision has fast become one of my favourites of the year. They’re due to play The Fest this year (if it happens) so I’m definitely going to check them out live if I can.

New Sun EP by Wrong Life

Wrong Life is the new project from Fraser Murderburger. Due to the current lockdown restrictions delaying the recording of the debut Wrong Life, Fraser started writing the second Wrong Life album which lead to him taking a break from that to create this EP. If you're already familiar with The Murderburgers then there will be familiarity here but Wrong Life present a pop punk with a more mid-tempo and restrained approach that really allows Fraser's brilliant lyrics to shine through. If this is a little taster of what to expect from Wrong  Life then I can't wait to hear the full album.

The Way To Bombs EP by Smiley & The Underclass

London dub punks Smiley & The Underclass released their new EP, The Way To Bombs, this week. Mixing reggae and punk rock to make empowering protest music, the four piece have been working hard on spreading their message to fans all over the world for years now. The Way To Bombs is the follow up to 2017's brilliantly received debut album Rebels Out There. Smiley & The Underclass are a band that can expertly capture the energy and passion from their live show and recreate it on record.

Untenable by Bad Moves (Emma)

Released just last Friday, I saw that a lot of people on Twitter were stoked for Untenable, the latest album by Bad Moves. I soon understood why when I listened to the album myself – it’s really, really good. If infectiously catchy power pop is something you might be into too then this is a must buy for Bandcamp day. It’s certainly been the spirit lifter that I’ve needed this past week and I won’t be stopping listening any time soon.

Of course, we would be remiss not to recommend the CPRW Records catalogue during this post. So far our little label has put out six different releases raising money for five different charities – Mind, Crisis, Macmillan, Music Venue Trust and Refugee Action UK. Have you got them all yet? Bandcamp Day is a great day to complete your collection.

Our good friends in Burnt Tapes are also currently donating any money they make on their Bandcamp page to Black Minds Matter. For my money, they are one of the best bands in the world at the moment and are due to play The Fest in Gainesville later this year. This is a great opportunity to delve into their entire back catalogue (including their brilliant first release Wasted History) as well as two new acoustic covers and support a very worthy cause.

If you didn’t pick them up on the last Bandcamp day, it's well worth checking out Decolonise Fest’s Bandcamp page to purchase one – or all – of their compilations. Decolonise Fest is a London-based DIY punk fest created by and for punx of colour. Comps like these are vital to diversifying your listening habits from typical all white male bands and DIY groups such as Decolonise Fest need our support and solidarity now more than ever.

If you're not on the hunt for new music but do want some new threads then head to Solidarity Not Silience's Bandcamp page. Solidarity Not Silence are a group of women facing a defamation case for speaking up about the disgusting treatment of women by a well known musician. Since 2017, they have been crowd funding the legal costs of this case. If you want to help out this extremely worthy cause and have a fresh new T-shirt to wear then click the link below.

Last but certainly not least, INiiT Records, the new label created by Our Lives In Cinema frontman and unsung hero of the UK DIY punk scene Mark Bartlett, are donating all the money they receive to organisations working for equality for those who have been deprived of it. So far INiiT Records have put out two stellar releases from Ode To Sleep and most recently High Visions. Two great acts you need to check out.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Album Review: St Angry by Swayze

Canada is a factory for producing incredible punk rock bands. My latest discovery from that wonderful nation is Saskatoon’s Swayze. The four piece released their EP St Angry on May 15th. After seeing a recommendation from a friend, I knew it was something I had to check out and I wasn’t disappointed.

St Angry begins with its title track. This is a great introduction to Swayze for any newcomers. It starts with a pounding drumbeat and some distorted guitars that build the song up before some a great guitar riffs and then the vocals come in. Vocally it’s gruff and raspy and not too dissimilar to Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners. Chris Cresswell is widely regarded as having one of the strongest voices in punk rock so I’m all about hearing something similar here. As St Angry progresses the track gets more and more intense. I found this captivating. As it hits its absolute peak, the song stops dead before building up slowly again for its finale. This was a great way of keep me interested in the track. Up next is Trambopoline. This track shows a more melodic side of Swayze. I believe it also uses a different vocalist as the vocal is a lot cleaner and less raspy than it was on the previous song. At almost five minutes in length, this song is a long one but it really shows off the band’s ability to play their instruments as well as constructing a well thought out track. It doesn’t feel long just for the sake of it. There are highs and lows in perfect moments that really help to get you emotionally invested in the song.

Large Island Iced Tea is a song that’s packed with energy from start to finish. The vocals are clean and drive the song forward at a great pace. I love the raspy vocals as well. For the second half of the song we are treated to a more aggressive, primal style vocal which is accompanied by softer harmonies. This is a great touch to the song that I wasn’t really expecting and really loved. The penultimate song is titled Portrait Of An Ass Grabber. Showing some great variety, this is a one minute and seventeen seconds hardcore track, allowing the band’s third singer the opportunity to shine. It’s the most aggressive song on St Angry by some distance but if you’re more into the poppier side of punk this shouldn’t put you off. The song is full of melody and plenty of moments where you can sing along. The final track is named Gorilla For Sale and features Derek Kuchirka of Me The Guts on lead vocals. This sees Swayze take on a more pop punk sound with a cleaner vocal that can hit some big notes. I found it quite interesting having a guest vocalist sing the majority of the song but it adds even more variety to the EP. The slower pace gives the song more of a big feel and makes it the perfect choice to finish the EP.

Swayze and St Angry are among my favourite discoveries of 2020. Check them out, I really think they will be one of your favourites as well.

Stream and download St Angry on Bandcamp here.

Like Swayze on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.