Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Album Review: Driving by Bashful

Driving by Bashful is one of my favourite releases of 2020 but yet I never got around to reviewing it until now. Released in February on Low Risk Records, it’s a ten tracks in twenty-one minutes pop punk gem of an album.

It begins with the song Boston Shitter. This will most likely be your first listen of Bashful (unless you picked up our Hidden Gems comp) and they showcase what they’re all about brilliantly here. It’s an uptempo track that’s packed with melody and lots of opportunities to sing along. Jake Guralnik’s vocals have plenty of passion behind them that really help you to invest in the song and the album early. Up next is Song, Too. It’s clear, after just two songs, that Bashful have a great knack for writing a catchy chorus and they’re not shy about getting there quickly. Musically the song doesn’t stray far from the standard pop punk formula but, when the song is so fun to sing along to, this really doesn’t matter. Lightheaded reminded me of The Ergs when I first listened to it. I love The Ergs so this pleased me no end. There’s a slight twang in Jake’s voice that really had me thinking of Mikey Erg. I believe the song is about being on a bad trip and not enjoying how it’s making you feel. (Please correct me if that’s wrong). This is the first time that gang vocals are used during the choruses and it’s a great addition.

The album’s title track, Driving, comes next. Slowing things down slightly, there’s an indie punk vibe about this song. If you know the London based band Great Cynics, think in that direction. The slower tempo allows for a bit more depth musically. Drummer Alex Wilhelm squeezes in some sweet fills throughout the track, really showing off his skill. This skill is also shown during the short introduction to Impossible. Bringing the tempo back up very quickly, this is Bashful at their very best. Buzzing guitars, rapid fire lyrics and yet another chorus that will glue itself in your mind. The track is about realising that you’ve not been a good person to be around and promising to do better in the future. The sixth song is titled Running. Slowing things back down, Running is a power-pop track that features some sweet harmonies. The song is about dealing with anger issues and just being fed up with always feeling angry at the world. Fun? was the track that appearing on our Hidden Gems compilation. Tonally this is a fun and breezy listen but when you dig into the lyrics it’s a sad song about not enjoying your current situation and wanting to be all by yourself.

Us is about trying to move forward with your life whilst attempting to block out and escape the past. This is a song that I’m sure many people will relate with. We’ve all got things that have happened in our past that continue to haunt us into our adulthood. This song about self-realisation feels more uplifting than some of the other tracks and is treated as such with the upbeat nature of the music. The penultimate song on Driving is named Overreact. Starting out with some “whoa-ohs”, it welcomes you in immediately and will get a live crowd involved from the outset. The song shifts tempo and melodies throughout, keeping it sounding fresh and showing another page of the Bashful trick book so late in the album. The album is finished with On My Way Out. The only song on Driving to go over three minutes, this really allowed Bashful time to let loose with some extra guitar solos and drum fills. The song looks at what it’s like to feel like you’re about to have a breakdown but trying keep things together as best you can. Something else I’m sure most of us have had to deal with at some point or another.

As I said in the introduction, Driving is just ten songs in twenty-one minutes but what a fantastic twenty-one minutes it is. It’s hard to make pop punk sound fresh and new in 2020 but Bashful have done a magnificent job of this. Definitely a band you need to be keeping an eye on.

Stream and download Driving on Bandcamp here.

Like Bashful on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Album Review: NO DREAM by Jeff Rosenstock

On the 20th of May Jeff Rosenstock, in true Jeff Rosenstock style, released a brand new full length without any fanfare, build up or promotion. All of a sudden there was a new Jeff Rosenstock album unleashed on the world and the punk rock scene was very excited. Titled NO DREAM, this is the fifth album to be released under the Jeff Rosenstock name. As a fan of pretty much everything Jeff has released, including former bands such as The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches and Bomb The Music Industry, I was looking forward to hearing the next addition to Jeff’s forever growing discography.

The first track is titled NO TIME. Starting out in a style that made me fall in love with Jeff Rosenstock all those years ago, this is an energetic and chaotic track that’s just fifty-four seconds long. On the song, Jeff asks the question ‘have you grown into the person that you wanted to be?’ and responds with the reason/excuse that they didn’t have the time. A common theme among a lot of Jeff’s music over the past few years has been self-discovery and looking at life in your thirties so it’s nice to see this continues on NO DREAM. Up next is Nikes (Alt). On this track, the tempo is brought down slightly but all of the energy remains. Jeff delivers the verses on the song in a punchy fashion that allows the song to quickly find a place inside of your mind. The verse is much more melodic and allows for plenty of sing-along moments. Scram! is about wanting to get away from the poisonous people in your life. The people who try and force you to see their point of view and aren’t willing to listen to your own. The song has a simple but effective rhythm and does a magnificent job of building towards its big ending. Next is the album’s title track, N O D R E A M. Starting out slowly before exploding into a big, angry passionate finale, N O D R E A M is about seeing atrocities on the TV and trying to ignore them before realising you should help and asking how it is possible. This is a track that seems to be becoming more and more relevant at the moment as people begin to see the terrible things going on in the world and want to help with a positive change.

I really enjoyed the alarm/siren like sound at the beginning of State Line. This is one of the more emotional tracks on the album with Jeff’s vocals feeling more strained than ever as he pours his heart out. The track is about life on tour and the emotions that you go through. The sixth song is titled f a m e and is maybe my favourite on the album. It’s about continuing to do your own thing despite the pressures of being a bigger name and people expecting a certain thing from you. It feels as if Jeff is releasing some past frustrations through the track and this is perhaps something that a lot of musicians will also relate to. Leave It In The Sun looks at the subject of struggling to let go of past relationships even though it’s often a necessary part of growing up. This, like many Jeff Rosenstock songs, is an extremely self-reflective song. When the song started, I was fully expecting a full blown fast paced number but instead the band stay at a mid and sometime even mellow tempo that really allows you to think about the track’s lyrics.

From the title The Beauty Of Breathing you might expect a positive song about how good life can be. This song is actually about realising all of the negative aspects of your personality and feeling jaded by them. Despite the downbeat nature of the song, it’s actually quite a summery sounding track – the sort that you would find on a “100 Songs Of Summer Playlist.” Old Crap begins with a scratchy DIY sounding acoustic opening which really takes you back to some of Jeff’s earlier work. I loved this as it breaks the album up considerably. As Old Crap progresses, the song morphs into a full band effort and the production gets cleaner. This also adds some great intensity to the song in a way that only Jeff Rosenstock can do. The tenth track, ***BNB is a song about life on the road, staying in strangers’ homes and how weird that can feel sometimes. The first two verses are basically reviews of stays at BNBs from being on tour. The autobiographical nature of this really helps the song hit home with what it can be like being on the road and staying at strangers’ places every night.

Monday At The Beach is a pretty special song for me. Growing up, myself and a group of my best friends would spend every Monday at the beach during the summer so it’s almost as if this song was written about that. It’s only a short, fifty four second song but it’s performed in such a way it feels like there’s a lot packed in. The penultimate song is titled Honeymoon Ashtray. The track is about always remembering the good parts of a relationship even when things are at their most difficult. This is a really sad and sombre song for the most part with some brief upbeat moments added towards the end of the track. NO DREAM is completed with the epic Ohio Tpke. This is a song about coming home from tour and dealing with the excitement of seeing your loved ones but also the dread of going through airports and feeling guilty about things. The song takes you on an series of highs and lows and has you feeling many emotions. It’s a track that really does play with your heartstrings in a fantastic way and is a fitting way to end the album.

NO DREAM is another very impressive addition to the Jeff Rosenstock discography. Jeff is one of the most prolific songwriters, not just in punk rock but in the wider world of music. The man churns out banger after banger. NO DREAM will please long time fans of the band and also be a great introduction to those discovering them for the first time.

Stream and download NO DREAM on Bandcamp here.

Like Jeff Rosenstock on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Album Review: I Hate My Life, I Hate Myself, and Everyone Hates Me Except For My Dog by Snow Day (by Emma Prew)

Browsing the ‘folk punk’ tag on Bandcamp recently resulted in me discovering acoustic punk artist Snow Day. A self-proclaimed ‘mediocre singer-songwriter masquerading as a punk’, Meghan Burke describes I Hate My Life, I Hate Myself, and Everyone Hates Me Except For My Dog as being about going through a really rough time – ‘I was experiencing feelings of hopelessness and self hate and the only one who was there for me during that time was my terrier Delilah.’

The first of four songs on the EP is titled Lucky. Opening with some simple strummed chords, the vocals soon come in and begin to tell their impassioned tale. Lucky is about the all too real struggles that many young people experience today (in this case in America but it applies elsewhere too) – working hard to get a decent education and then struggling to get by with a minimum wage job at the end of it. The addition of violin for the chorus really lifts the song, particularly alongside Meghan‘s anger-fuelled lyrics. Caffeine is up next. Here Meghan sings more specifically about suffering from depression and anxiety, perhaps as a result of the life struggles mentioned in the previous song. However, the song is as much about trying to be better as it is about mental health problems. ‘Don't think that I'm pathetic, please don't think of me that way, I’m running out of things to lose, I'm just trying to find my way, My hands begin to shake, my head begins to sway, Maybe ’cause caffeine makes me sick, but I drink it anyway.’

The third song, Alone, feels very personal as Meghan sings of having serious trust issues as a result of a toxic relationship. There’s an understandable amount of venom to the vocals that, along with the brusque strums of the guitar, really make you feel the pain in the words that are being sung. Towards the end of the song, Meghan shouts ‘I wish I never met you’ which further which further emphasis the pain and anguish. Throughout the EP, but particularly on this song, I was greatly reminded of Days N Daze’s Whitney Flynn which is definitely no bad thing. The final song is called Going To Rutland. Starting out with some distinct muted guitar playing, this is a fairly slow-paced song – not that the others have been especially fast paced, mind you – which allows the listener to focus on every word. Going To Rutland is about revisiting somewhere that holds both good and bad memories and the mixed feelings that this results in. Although the anger is still there, it does feel like some sort of conclusion to the thoughts and feelings that were discussed on the previous tracks and ends the EP well.

I’m not sure how long Snow Day has been playing music – this appears to be their first release on Bandcamp – but I will be keeping an eye out for more from them in the future.

You can stream and download I Hate My Life, I Hate Myself, and Everyone Hates Me Except For My Dog on Bandcamp and like Snow Day on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 31 July 2020

CPRW Playlist: July 2020

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Chris, Dan, Dan#2, Emma, Lee, Marcus, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to in July.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Album Review: We Are All We've Got by Milpool

Milpool are a punk rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the beginning of April the band released a brand new five track EP on Lemon Tree Records titled We Are All We’ve Got. I stumbled across it one evening whilst looking for new bands on Bandcamp and quickly became a fan of the band.

The EP begins with It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This. This opening track really sets the scene of what to expect from Milpool – melodic, shout-along punk rock with big choruses and lots of hooks. It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This starts out with a guitar riff that not only starts the EP with a lot of energy but builds wonderfully to the vocals. Vocally, Milpool fit somewhere between pop punk and hardcore and it works really well with the tone they’re trying to set. The track is about looking back on old times and wondering how you ended up where you are now. Sitcommunist is a more political song that takes aim at the super rich who don’t help the people that really need it. The line that really stuck out when I listened to the song was “all we’ve got is us and that’s all we need.” Sadly there’s a massive divide in the classes in the entire world and this needs to change. The song is played at a slower tempo than the opener and feels much more passionate and angry. Given the song’s subject, rightly so.

The Perils Of Self Betterment is a more personal song. On the track, the band’s lead singer talks about remembering an old friend and working on bettering yourself in their honour. I really enjoyed the positivity that comes from the track, particularly the chorus of “This world isn't prepared, for what we have in store, we aren't just a family, but so much more.” The penultimate track is titled Bummer Vacation. As you might guess from the song’s title, it’s a pretty sad song about feeling like you don’t belong somewhere. That’s something that I’m sure most of us have felt at some stage or another. The song’s highlight is undoubtedly the fantastic ending with the repetitive chorus and the harmony giving the track a brilliant extra dimension. Last up is Good Game, Let’s Go Eat. Finishing the EP on a positive and inspiring note, this track is about learning from your experiences and becoming a better person because of it. Bringing the tempo back up, Milpool shout out their message in a way that just can’t be ignored. The use of two vocalists is great, adding extra energy to the track and, in the final moments, the repetitive lines of “So I said to myself, be a better man than yesterday” will be ringing in your ears long after the song finishes. A great way to finish the EP.

What I really liked about Milpool was how fresh they feel. I don’t listen to much on the heavier side of punk rock but I really got into We Are All We’ve Got. The energy is infectious and there’s a great deal to either relate to or to inspire you. That’s great song writing.

Stream and download We Are All We've Got on Bandcamp here.

Like Milpool on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Album Review: Split by 7 Years Bad Luck & Dorkatron

I’ve been on a bit of a roll for reviewing splits lately. After two ska punk reviews, here is one for some Austrian pop punk. I’ve been a fan of 7 Years Bad Luck for a number of years and have been lucky enough to see them live a couple of times in the last year or so. Dorkatron are a newer band who I fell in love with immediately after hearing their The Extra Mile EP in 2018. 7 Years Bad Luck and Dorkatron recently teamed up for a twelve song split which was released by Monster Zero Records.

Dorkatron kick of their half of the split with the song Robotic Love. Robotic Love is a weird love story between a human and a robot. If you’re new to Dorkatron then this is a great introduction. The band plays fast and catchy Ramonescore pop punk, very often with a nerdy sci-fi theme. Up next is Custodians. Inspired by a solo from a Fidlar song, the track is about feeling uneasy about custodians. Fast, catchy and fun with witty lyrics, Dorkatron have a style and they absolutely excel at it. I really like the guitar riff in the song, it gives the track a great energy. Shop Class Baby is a story about falling in love with a girl in your shop class. Another theme of Dorkatron’s is high school and often falling in love with different girls. I’m glad to see they haven’t stepped away from this theme on the split. It’s a relatable topic for fans of pop punk.

Hall Monitor sees Dorkatron actually slow things down a little. It’s a pop punk ballad dedicated to the people who care about safe and respectful behaviour at school. It’s great to hear the band slow things down and show a different side of their songwriting. The chorus is the standout moment and features some great chant-along harmonies that will get the listener invested straight away. My Girl is a thirty second song where Dorkatron proclaim that a girl is theirs. It’s short and sweet, really repetitive and a whole lot of fun. The final Dorkatron track is titled Pills. Starting in explosive fashion, Pills actually sees a more mid-tempo and melodic side of Dorkatron. It also feels more serious as the band sing about becoming reliant on medication to help you stay awake to study, because you don’t have enough time, and then regretting taking it. It’s quite a sombre finish to Dorkatron’s side of the split.

7 Years Bad Luck begin their half of the split with Comatose. The three piece play a more melodic style of punk rock than their counterparts in Dorkatron but that doesn’t mean it’s any less catchy. This half of the split already feels a lot more dramatic and emotional thanks to the builds spread throughout the song as well as some great gang vocals. Up next is Out. Starting out with a crunching introduction before some fantastic fast paced vocals, this song has a slight feel of the 90s skate punk sound to it. The song is a more political one about wanting to question decisions and realising that, no matter how hard you fight, it will always feel like an uphill battle. You, The Ocean And Me shows the poppy side of 7 Years Bad Luck and also has a bit of 60s rock ’n’ roll sprinkled in. It’s the sort of song that instantly cheers you up and has you bopping along in your seat. This is a sweet, summery love song about needing your loved one around and missing them when they’re not there.

Better Joke is a song dedicated to that friend who likes to play the joker but often takes it too far. This song has the more traditional 7 Years Bad Luck sound, melodic pop punk that brilliantly pulls you in. There’s a seriousness about the track and also a sadness in the vocals that plays with your heartstrings somewhat. The penultimate song on the split is titled Milk Teeth. Jumping back into the skate punk style, there is a driving tempo that gives the song plenty of urgency. It has you yearning to know where the song is heading. I think this is mainly due to the drumming. The beat really stands out on this track. There’s an understated style to the vocals. They feel a little quiet and this makes you really listen hard, as well making you anticipate something louder coming in. The split is finished with Movie Star. This feels like a final song. By that I mean that there’s a sense that 7 Years Bad Luck put everything they have into the song. It sounds bigger, it’s full of hooks, it has shifts in tempo and it’ll have you singing along happily from start to finish. There’s also some subtle “whoa-oh” harmonies to get involved with.

This is a fantastic split by two of Europe’s best pop punk bands. As you would expect from a Monster Zero release, it’s quality from start to finish and, if you’re not familiar with either of these bands, it’s a great place to start before checking out their previous work.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp here.

Like 7 Years Bad Luck on Facebook here and like Dorkatron here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Album Review: Straight To VHS by Abandon The Midwest

We first featured Orlando’s Abandon The Midwest in 2018 when we reviewed Rides Again. We’re so happy to have them back on CPRW again with their excellent new EP, Straight To VHS. With all that’s going on in the world currently I missed that they even had a new EP coming out so, when I saw it, I was pleasantly surprised and it went straight to my review list.

Straight To VHS begins with Bright Lights. On my first listen, I’m instantly reminded of what it was about Abandon The Midwest that I fell in love with in the first place. The band has wonderful dual vocals from BJ and Matt, BJ singing in a clean pop style and Matt with a gruff and gravelly tone. The two styles work so well together. This adds so much energy to their sound and I get swept away with it everytime. Bright Lights is about realising that you’re not living your life the right way and looking for a way to improve things. On the second song, Mistreat Yourself, Matt takes lead vocal duties for himself. This is a more mid tempo track that you will lose your voice shouting along too. From the opening lines of “you’re afraid you won’t amount to anything” you will be involved in the song. It follows a similar theme to Bright Eyes, realising you’re not looking after yourself and shutting yourself away. The only thing I have left to say about this song is that it’s easily one of my favourites of the 2020.

You Don’t Want Me Around begins slowly before becoming another great big fun sing-along. It’s got a pop melody that’ll get stuck in your head quickly and it won’t be long before you’re singing along with the band. I was a bit surprised that Abandon The Midwest didn’t use this song as the lead single for the EP as it’s so wonderfully accessible and a great example of what to expect from the band. Straight To VHS is completed with the song Skyline. The track has more of a Ramonescore feel to the song, albeit with gruffer vocals. The buzzing guitars and simple drum beat that drives the song forward is great. The chorus is where the song really shines, Matt’s vocals take the lead but are brilliantly harmonised with by BJ. This extra layer adds a lot to the sound. I’m always a big fan of this kind of thing when I’m listening to music. Skyline is about returning to the same place over and over again because it’s a really good place. There is something great about having a place you can always go to and knowing you’re going to have a good time.

In short, Straight To VHS is four brilliant songs that you need to listen to. It’s a fun EP for singing along to with your friends. What more could you possibly want?
popping up, proving that the genre is still alive and kicking.

Stream and download Straight To VHS on Bandcamp here.

Like Abandon The Midwest on Facebook here.

This review was written Colin Clark.