Friday, 3 December 2021

CPRW Playlist: November 2021


CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Chris, Dan#2, Emma, Ilse, John, Lara, Lee, Marcus, Omar, Rich, Richard, Robyn, Theo and myself have been listening to in November.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Gig Review: Breakup Haircut at New Cross Inn, London 16/11/21


Ever since seeing Dundee’s ALLDEEPENDS at Book Yer Ane Fest in 2019, I’ve been desperate to see them again. Obviously a pandemic delayed that enormously but things began to get better and, to my surprise and delight, ALLDEEPENDS got booked at for a gig at my beloved New Cross Inn by Alright Mate Promotions. They were on a fantastic looking mixed genre bill with Tim Loud, Making Friends and Breakup Haircut and I could not wait for the night to come around.


Tim Loud opened the show with his own brand of acoustic/country punk. Tim had been on tour throughout the UK prior to the show and this was my first time seeing him live since an early edition of MPF where he did the show wearing some striking face paint. Tim is a fantastic songwriter, musician and storyteller and it was fantastic to see him back on stage again. It wasn’t the biggest of crowds, it was early on a Tuesday night after all, but Tim managed to captivate the crowd whether it was with his six string, twelve string, his harmonica or voice. I’ve said this before – and Tim put it on his tour poster – but he is an exceptionally talented individual. The set was sprinkled with old favourites and some new ones written during lockdown. A mixture of slower bluesy numbers and rowdier anthems, all played with a lot of charm and passion. It was good to see Tim play live again.


ALLDEEPENDS were the next band to take to the stage. The three piece had also been on a short UK tour and had been making new friends wherever they had been. I know from punk celebrity Sarah of Shout Louder that they had had a particularly impressive showing in Manchester earlier in the tour. I’m not sure many of the fine folk at the gig had much of an idea what to expect from the band when they took to the stage but they certainly became fans thirty minutes later. For those unaware, ALLDEEPENDS play a crunching mix of folk and hardcore with rapid fire vocals and massive hooks. They are one of the most unique and interesting bands in the UK at the moment. The set was a mixture of songs from their debut EP My Name Is and some unreleased tracks that I assume will be on their debut LP – whenever they get that out to the world. As I stood watching the stage I heard some folk around me comment how good the drumming was, as well as my favourite quote of the night – “I didn’t know you could make that noise with a banjo.” Nicholas, John and Hooligan played a stunning set and I hope it’s not long before they’re back in New Cross. I’m positive that they’ll be very welcome.


Up next were a band I had heard a lot of great things about and was looking forward to seeing live for the first time, Brighton’s Making Friends. Fronted by Ryan Mansell, formerly of Fastfade, the band play super fast, melodic skate punk that wouldn’t feel out of place on a 90s Fat Wreck compilation. The foursome launched into the set with a lot of energy and burned through their songs. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a band squeeze that many songs into a thirty minute set. I assume they played all the songs they’ve released so far plus some unreleased material. I was super impressed with how tight the band were. At this point, they can’t have played that many shows together but it looked as if they had been playing together for years and years. It was also clear that the band were having a lot of fun together on the stage and this feeling definitely spilled into the crowd. At one point, I assume to catch their breath, they took a moment to shout out seemingly everyone in the room which was nice. Making Friends seem to be playing as many gigs as possible right now, so if you get the chance to see them I highly recommend you take it. A fantastic new band in the UK skate punk scene.


The last band of the night was Breakup Haircut from London. I first became aware of the band thanks to my good buddy Katie MF and have had the pleasure of featuring them on CPRW and CPRW Records in the past but this was my first time seeing them live. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the band in a live setting but I was pleasantly surprised and seriously impressed. Playing a fun brand of indie and garage pop punk, it didn’t take long for Breakup Haircut to get the NXI crowd moving. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band whose music was so infectious. Breakup Haircut managed to get the audience in the palm of their collective hands almost instantly and it was bloody wonderful. Despite still being a relatively new band on the scene, I believe they met and formed at a First Timers workshop at DIY Space For London (RIP) a couple of years ago, the band had such confidence on the stage and were an absolute joy to watch. It was nice to see the band utilise three different singers, all with their own unique style but all still feeling very Breakup Haircut. The between song banter was also extremely charming, as the band playfully joked around with everyone. It felt like they were letting everyone else in the room into their little gang. I really enjoyed the set and was quite sad that we had to chip off a little before their set finished to catch our train home. I look forward to seeing them live again, hopefully soon. Is it over-exaggerating to say that Breakup Haircut may be the future of the UK indie punk scene? Maybe, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them really take off. Check them out before they do!


Thanks to Alright Mate Promotions for a wonderful Tuesday night of punk rock. It was a lovely time, with lovely people and fantastically talented bands. What more could anyone want on a Tuesday night?

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Album Review: Glow On by Turnstile (by Richard Mair)


Invention in hardcore can go one of two ways. Taking landmark albums such as Converge’s ‘Jane Doe’ and Refused’s ‘Shape Of Punk To Come’, they can either double down on the ferocity, becoming almost too intense and visceral whilst bludgeoning the audience to submission through cavalcades of frenetic noise like the former or alternatively incorporate elements from disparate scenes and sounds to extend the palette of hardcore – such as jazz, dance and pop like the latter. Both approaches are needed and whilst the Converge approach is unlikely to bring a new audience, instead helping retain advocates and more than likely fostering a more rabid and passionate fan base for the scene, the second is certainly needed to help re-profile what hardcore can be.


Currently acting as the new nexus for hardcore Baltimore, Maryland’s leading lights Turnstile return with an album that pushes the boundary in much the same way as ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ did in 1999. Perhaps more linear than Refused’s masterpiece, ‘Glow On’ is arguably the next brilliant crossover album the scene has been yearning for over the best part of a quarter of a decade. This is pop hardcore; not like the unique (and bonkers) pop hardcore noise of The Armed but perhaps more akin to The Movielife’s ‘This Time Next Year’. Sure, it’s a softer more polished album than their previous full lengths; yet its DNA is unashamedly in the rhythmic hook-laden hardcore they’ve become synonymous with. Despite the gloss and sheen, this is a hardcore album. Will it polarise opinion? Undoubtedly. Will it take Turnstile to a much larger audience? Inevitably. And this is certainly a good thing when you look at the excellent and diverse acts coming out of Baltimore at the moment from the politically charged, self-aware metalcore tinged Sharptooth to the east coast youth core revivalists of End It; you would hope they would elevate their scene to new heights. In essence, Turnstile are sure to be ushering in a new golden age of hardcore.

‘Glow On’ is not a perfect album. Before we get carried away it does have its flaws. The obvious one being that some of the songs need more. The biggest culprit of this is album closer ‘Lonely Dezires’. As an album it builds to what should be an epic closer, and yet at 2:42 it feels too short; especially as it feels it would naturally round out with a big chorus instead of the more electronic tinged melody that seems to put a stop to proceedings a little premature. It’s also likely that the desire to push boundaries comes at the expense of creating a coherent flow and rhythm (something predecessor ‘Time And Space’ balanced perfectly); consequently at times it can feel disjointed. The flow in the middle of the album for example feels a little off with ‘Alien Love Call’ (an excellent song in its own right) sitting uncomfortably next to the more traditional hardcore songs of ‘Wild Wrld’ and ‘Fly Again’.

These are little niggles and probably missteps that stand out given how great the album actually is. Opening track ‘Mystery’ sets the tone for the album and it’s very clearly a Turnstile song of old, although subtly introducing some of the electronic flourishes that permeate through the whole album. It’s a juggernaut of a hook-ridden song with a pre-chorus that helps elevate the chorus proper to one of epic proportions. The song is likely to be described as ‘limbs’ when heard in a live setting.

Following ‘Mystery’ is ‘Blackout’, which is just a masterclass in beats and grooves; especially through the verses. Yet its chorus is simple, effective, rammed with melody and in every sense reminiscent of songs that Turnstile were producing on their early EPs; complete with a very typical hardcore beat down. It’s absolutely a song that hardcore purists will love. Rounding out the opening section is ‘Don’t Play’, a song that has tinges of early Smash-era Offspring (think ‘LAPD’ / ‘Tehran’ / ‘Come Out And Play’); complete with a very skate-punk intro. Underpinning much of the song is a really neat melody that highlights the creative approach the band have taken with ‘Glow On’. All opening three songs are standouts and yet it’s the 4th song that really demonstrates their growth and progression…

‘Underwater Boi’ has all the hallmarks and tropes of a hardcore song (chugging riffs but slowed right down, beat downs although delivered by a voice as opposed to an instrument). It’s the perfect deconstruction of a hardcore song into something brand new. It’s so different to anything they’ve done before and yet works perfectly in the context of the album. It’s a genuinely fun song. The same thing can be said of the 80s vibe that runs through ‘New Heart Design’, with its Duran Duran style verses. This creativity extends to the inclusion of the aforementioned ‘Alien Love Call’ which features Blood Orange / Dev Hynes as a guest and again demonstrates how versatile hardcore can be in the right hands.

‘Holiday’ and ‘Humanoid / Shake It Up’ both have a feel of ‘Time And Space’ about them. ‘Holiday’ in particular is all about the groove, where as ‘Humanoid’ has a distinctly Ramones-inspired hardcore-ness about it, especially the vocal delivery. This is where the album really works; despite all its forward leaning pretensions its these nods to the past when aligned with the new that give the album its sparkle. This extends to the most traditionally hardcore, lyric based song: ‘Turnstile Love Connection’ with its ‘Thank you for letting me be myself’ self-actualisation chant; which comes across as a love letter to the scene for recognising their success in developing their sound and allowing them to be true to themselves.

‘Lonely Dezires’ closes the album; and whilst it’s a great song in its own right it feels lacking as a closer given what has come before; and rather than ending with a bang, which would be more fitting, it means the album feels like it fades away (unless you see this as subverting expectation in a way that only Turnstile can). It’s a small gripe, as a stand-alone song it’s brilliant, but in the wider context it falls a little flat. I’m sure many will disagree!

The real stand out performance on the album has to be the rhythm / percussion section of Franz Lyons and Daniel Fang – genuinely, they have laid a marker down for others. The changes in tempo and rhythm they orchestrate are outstanding; ‘Dance Off’ and ‘Wild Wrld’ in particular showcase their talents. One nerdy statement to make is that it needs to be heard in the best format possible. Listening to Glow On through a Dolby Atmos set up it takes on a whole new depths and layers as beats and voices cascade from all directions. Mike Elizondo’s work on the production (and synths) is truly outstanding and needs to be recognised.

Returning to the fun element, hardcore is often a genre that is – by its nature – very serious and yet this album has an innate care-free feel about it. It’s genuinely fun with a broad everyman vibe. It’s a hardcore album for people who like to dance and sing to the music as opposed to get angry and throw their fists in the air as proclamation of the truths of the hardcore band in front of them. This appeal is crucial and whilst I’m much more of a fan of the political tinged, angry vitriolic hardcore, this is a perfect gateway for people to discover bands such as Bane, Battery, Have Heart, American Nightmare, Converge or Rotting Out, that may at one time felt intimidating. Coupled with this, hardcore is in a really healthy place at the moment; The Armed have released a genuine masterpiece this year and acts such as Power Alone, Initiate and Sharptooth are providing a much needed feminist lens to a once male dominated scene. Finally, One Step Closer have dropped an incredible album that is likely to benefit off of the back of the interest in ‘Glow On’; and in doing so taking them to a much wider audience than they could have expected with their debut full length. After the recent emo revival, it really feels like the next wave of hardcore is ready for its time in the sun.

I’ve seen a lot of love for this album already and rightly so. It is an incredible piece of work that stands to elevate Turnstile to almost unheard levels for a hardcore band, such is its crossover appeal. It is flawed; yet that makes it all the more real and natural. Does it eclipse ‘Time And Space’… I’m not so sure; however what it does do is firmly cement Turnstile as one of the most forward thinking, accessible and essential bands currently laying beatdowns down.

Stream and download Glow On from your chosen music provider and like Turnstile on Facebook here.

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Album Review: Fuck These Fuckin' Fascists by The Muslims (by Theo Martin-Herbert)


In what might be both one of the most important punk releases in a long time and a litmus test for your friends, The Muslims have put out one of the most necessarily divisive and deliciously corrosive punk albums with “Fuck these Fuckin' Fascists”.


This is an absolutely fearless release that remembers the key in making this kind of statement work – don't forget the music. Choruses so catchy you'll find yourself throwing these mantras out in your spare time and loving every minute of it, combined with some fantastic song titles and guitar tones more akin to razor wire you'll happily throw yourself into than anything that's come out for a while. I found myself enjoying this more than I ever hoped I would have based on the single released shortly before this.

You know you're onto a winner when you release something that angers the right people and this is exactly what this release does with the kind of confident and giddy energy people could only dream would accompany this. The conversation surrounding this, from what I've seen, seeks to reclaim punk as something to educate without fear or needing to pander to the whataboutisms and well actuallys that normally seek to dominate and neuter any criticism. A defiant and important release, I can't recommend this enough and I hope you all check it out. Whether it challenges you or you agree, it's a great time and is the kind of venom we need.

Stream and download Fuck These Fuckin' Fascists on Bandcamp here.

Like The Muslims on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Top Tens: Craig "C-Rage" Darran's Top Ten (Eleven) Bands He's Never Seen


If you're reading this, I've finally seen my thousandth band. Little did I know when I started my infamous spreadsheet back in September 2004 that I'd still be using it 17 years later to document hundreds of acts per year. Heck, in 2004 I was so green I don't think I even realised there were more than a thousand bands! It's been a long road, in the last 17 years I've seen some truly bucket list sets and musical greats, I've seen history being made and stages being destroyed. I've seen legendary bands, terrible bands, unexpected reunions, countless album shows, three "last ever" Capdown shows and six or seven different line-ups of Reel Big Fish. I've made life-long friendships, smashed three cameras, been bruised, muddied, scarred and soaked. I have, without a doubt, loved every second of it.

So, what's left to do now, I hear you ask? After 1000, who's left to see that's worth seeing? Well, I guess the short answer is, there's always more bands! But thanks to time, deaths, career changes and break-ups, my spreadsheet will never be as full as I'd like. Below are eleven bands that I really want to see but probably (and, in most cases, definitely) will never get to add to my list.

Queen (with Freddie Mercury)

Let's get the obvious ones out of the way first. Queen. Over the years I've managed to catch a few surprise appearances from Brian May and Roger Taylor but never (and obviously) the full ensemble. When I was first introduced to classic rock music by my parents as a child, I had plenty of acts to choose from – Thin Lizzy, Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, to name a few. In those early days, no car journey was complete without a blast of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but what really set Queen apart from the other classic rock bands was Freddie's powerful voice, charisma, and the sheer theatrics of his performance. Seeing videos of Freddie perform in front of the Live Aid audience and watching the crowd eat from the palm of his hand was mesmerising – this was what it was like to be in the presence of a true Rock God. I'm not normally a fan of big stadium acts but I'd have loved a chance to have experienced that for myself.

Nirvana

I think everyone of a certain age that listens to alternative music has a soft spot for Nirvana. When I was first discovering modern rock as a teenager my neighbour gave me a bootlegged copy of Nirvana's "best songs" which I listened to obsessively until the CD died. Compared to the classic rock that I'd been used to, Nirvana felt heavier and hit harder whilst also feeling more personal and intimate. The story of Kurt's life as the reluctant rock star and conspiracy theories surrounding his death only added to my intrigue. As a fellow lefty, Kurt was a big influence on my guitar playing with a DVD of MTV Unplugged becoming my go-to training resource when I first started learning – almost 20 years later I'm pretty sure I can still play all of Nevermind. My first ever music festival was Reading which was well known to have been host to the largest (and last) UK performance the band ever played back in 1992. In front of the main stage, I could only imagine what that last gig would have been like. If anyone ever figures out time travel, that'd be my first stop on my way back to the Jurassic Period.

Avril Lavigne (Early 2000s, before they replaced her with Melissa)

When I was at college between 2002–2004, I lived close enough to class to be able to spend my free periods (and sometimes lunches) at home. I used to put on the Freeview music channels like The Hits and TMF and watch what was current whilst eating instant noodles. The channels were mostly filled with terrible pop (like Atomic Kitten's awful cover of ‘The Tide Is High’) so I'd switch between them trying to find rock songs or fun music videos (like Jr Senior's Move Your Feet). It was during this time that I discovered Offspring, Muse, System of A Down, Incubus and a whole bunch of other bands that in the years following I would see at various gigs and festivals. It was also during that time that I discovered ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8r Boi’ and eventually the album Let Go which I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, I had to keep that love a secret because back in those days it was uncool to admit to liking Avril Lavigne. Thanks to that, I never saw her live when I had the chance, which I now really regret. I haven't really kept up with many of her more recent songs or albums but whenever I hear anything from that first or second album, I'm instantly transported back to those college years.

Crush 40

I imagine this is probably the most obscure band on the list. Crush 40 play high tempo, technical hard rock. After discovering that I'd been listening to Bad Religion and Offspring for years in Crazy Taxi without realising, I decided to revisit other video game soundtracks from my childhood and discovered Crush 40 – the band responsible for all the Sonic Adventure songs. Crush 40 are a musical partnership between Jun Senoue a composer for Sega video games (as far back as Sonic the Hedgehog 3) and Johnny Gioeli, the vocalist of 90s hard rock band Hardline. They originally formed to record the main theme for Sonic Adventure but have subsequently gone on to record most of the music for all following Sonic video games and spin offs. Thanks to Sonic fandom, they've performed live on a number of occasions, and I was lucky enough to see Jun Senoue play a full band show at the Garage in late 2019 (which was amazing but it only covered their instrumental tracks). Hopefully one day I'll get to see them both together.

Ten Foot Pole

Of all the bands on this list, Ten Foot Pole probably feels like the one I'm most likely going to see at some point – I've been begging Paul Smith of BeSharp Promotions to book them for years! Back when I was first discovering punk was my favourite type of music, I spontaneously bought Punk-O-Rama Volume 3 (mostly because of the word "punk") and through it I was introduced to my first batch of Epitaph bands. I really loved the song 'A.D.D' towards the end of the comp and soon afterwards purchased the Ten Foot Pole album, Unleashed. I loved the tempo and the album's themes of loss and alienation but mostly the fact I had a new favourite band that no one else knew about. I soon tracked down more Ten Foot Pole albums but they never really grabbed me like the first, and not long afterwards I discovered the Descendents so that was the end of that. I might not listen much anymore, but they'll always be my gateway to less mainstream music and I'm surprised that after twenty years I've still not seen them.

The Weakerthans

The first Weakerthans song I heard was called ‘A Plea From A Cat Named Virtute’ on the Epitaph comp Punk-O-Rama Volume 9. A song about a person dealing with deep depression told from the perspective of their adoring but confused cat – I'm pretty sure I cried. I instantly bought two albums, Left And Leaving and Reconstruction Site but was left pretty indifferent by them. I put this down to discovering them quite early in my musical taste's evolution, at a time where all I wanted to hear were fast, overdriven guitars – The Weakethans were just a little too peaceful for me. Fast forward to my mid to late 20s, a random conversation with someone lead to me discovering that Virtute had a sequel song called ‘Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure’ – probably the most depressing song ever told from a cat's perspective. I listened to it and cried again. Now with a more developed taste I was able to listen to Weakerthans again with fresh ears and damn, they're such a great band. ‘Aside’ from Left And leaving is absolutely one of my favourite songs ever and I'm so cross with myself that it took so long to appreciate them properly. As far as I can tell, they haven't toured since 2013 and are on indefinite hiatus. I do hope I'll get to see them one day.

Farewell Continental

To those that know me, it's no secret that Motion City Soundtrack are my favourite band. Imagine how happy I was in 2012 when I discovered that their vocalist, Justin Pierre had a lesser-known side project called Farewell Continental. A far less poppy outfit than Motion City Soundtrack, FC play a style I can only describe as experimental, sonic garage rock. Justin is joined on vocals by the band's keyboardist Kari Gray and the two duet together with lyrics far less personal but more metaphorical than MCS, covering a range of topics from dreaming to war. Farewell Continental don't seem to have performed together since February 2012 and with Justin working on his solo career and a reunion tour with Motion City Soundtrack, I don't see them reforming again soon, if at all. I was lucky enough to catch Justin perform two or three Farewell Continental songs on his solo tour a couple of years ago, but I'd love the opportunity to see them tackled by the full band.

Dance Hall Crashers

I believe the Dance Hall Crashers were one of my last CD purchases before I moved away from solid copies to streaming. I'm not really sure how I discovered them either, maybe it was an early Spotify recommendation? Either way, when I heard the dual harmonies of Karina Denike and Elyse Rogers over high energy, joyous ska punk I was sold. After a little research I also discovered that the band was started at the famous Gilman Street venue in Berkeley California by none other than Operation Ivy and Rancid members Matt Freeman and Tim Armstrong. I have to admit I prefer the horn accompanied songs from their earlier albums to the more punk rock inspired songs of their later releases but as a whole their music is solid, catchy and pretty unique thanks to the aforementioned vocal harmonies. I absolutely love the song ‘Skinhead BBQ’! It makes me wonder why they never took off to the same extent as some of their Gilman contemporaries. DHC haven't performed together since 2008 with no sign of a reunion on the horizon, though you've probably heard Karina sing and play keys on some of the more recent NOFX releases.

Mixtapes

I remember back in 2014, Paul Smith was adamant that I listen to his latest musical discovery Masked Intruder, and after seeing them live at Groezrock in 2015 I was completely hooked. One of their songs, Heart Shaped Guitar, incorporates vocals from guest singer Maura Weaver whose voice I instantly loved. After a little YouTube search I discovered their band Mixtapes, and the songs 'Hope Is For People' and 'Bad Parts'. Mixtapes began in Cincinnati, Ohio, as an acoustic musical partnership between Weaver and Ryan Rockwell before expanding to a full pop punk band with acoustic elements. I enjoyed the duets between the two singers and the stream of consciousness, introspective almost conversational lyrics about all manner of subjects. Despite being quite literal, I always read the lyrics as learning to be ok with yourself whilst accepting the rut you've found yourself in, something I heavily related to in my late 20s. Mixtapes went on indefinite hiatus in 2014 (though they've definitely played some reunion shows since) with little hope of there ever being another UK performance. Ryan and Maura have since moved onto other musical projects, one of which, Ogikubo Station, I was lucky enough to catch at the New Cross Inn a few years back. If only I'd discovered Mixtapes a couple years earlier, I could have seen them play Hevy Fest 2012 (which I was at!).

Atom And His Package

During lockdown I moved in with my partner, Kate. Without gigs, or anything social happening, we spent much of our free time building Lego sets, like, a LOT of Lego sets. It was while building Lego that she began to introduce me to lots of old bands she loved. Eventually our main Lego soundtrack would become Hair:Debatable, the live album and final show by synth punk legend (and possibly the godfather of Nerdcore) Atom And His Package. Atom, also known as Adam Goren, has played in a number of punk bands over the years but is best known for his one-man-band, Atom And His Package. As Atom, Goren plays synthesisers and guitar and produces music that sounds a bit like punk played through a SNES or Megadrive. Lyrically he's clearly very intelligent but often chooses humorous subjects, like ‘I'm Downright Amazed At What I Can Destroy With Just A Hammer’ and ‘Lord It's Hard To Be Happy When You're Not Using The Metric System’. He occasionally touches on politics, and regularly highlights the faults and hypocrisies of less self-aware members of the punk and metal communities, with choruses like "Oh, I get it. Anarchy means that you litter". Atom stopped touring in 2003 and has since become a Physics and Chemistry teacher in Pennsylvania. Although he's played a couple of reunion shows at Fest, it's pretty doubtful we'll ever see him play the UK again.

Minor Threat

Thought I'd save a big one until last. Over the years I've been lucky enough to see all manner of bands from the early years of punk, The Damned, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys to name but a few, but one band I'll never get to add to that list is Minor Threat. Forming in 1980 in Washington DC and only lasting for three years, the band built upon the emerging hardcore style pioneered by Bad Brains and Black Flag by combining the aggression and high energy of the two with an incredibly strong moral code and DIY ethic. The band produced some of the most influential hardcore songs of all time and even spawned the Straight Edge subculture thanks to singer Ian MacKaye's lyrics, in the song of the same name, about his personal abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Eventually, MacKaye's moral code would lead to the break-up of the band, citing the violence at hardcore shows (as well as disagreements in musical direction) as his major reason for disbanding. The members of the band would end up continuing their musical careers in a number of other influential bands, such as Fugazi, Bad Religion and Dag Nasty. I've seen plenty of fuzzy videos of Minor Threat playing live on YouTube, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to being in the pit – it’s probably safer that way.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Album Review: Perfect by Mannequin Pussy (by Theo Martin-Herbert)


Sometimes it pays to be fearless and put out everything you can be in one release, a gamble that pays off with aplomb on Perfect from Mannequin Pussy.


It's been a long time since I've heard an EP that shows this much range, kept completely consistent and cohesive in quality and execution. Opening with the amazing grunge ballad 'Control', the group deftly work their way through a stunning variety of sounds and emotions, touching on the intense and fuzzed up 'Pigs Is Pigs' to the ambient pop of 'Darling' – hitting all they can in between.

The sheer variety on display lends itself to the sounds as well, with some raucous fuzz driven tones from the guitars showcasing the gritty production on display, something that I think helps keep the slower tracks edge. This strange consistency is definitely one of the most impressive things on display here, something to keep the listener hooked and pumped throughout. I'm so excited to hear what they do next based off of this, so if you need something fuzzed up and angry but with enough introspective moments to keep your head together, this is definitely a release worth checking out. You could say it's perfect.

Stream and download Perfect on Bandcamp here.

Like Mannequin Pussy on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Gig Review: Burnt Tapes at Old Blue Last, London 13/11/21


I was thinking the other day, something nice that has come from the all the bands not being able to play gigs for so long is that they’re all now back doing comeback shows. Every gig has felt like a big reunion with everyone in great spirits. It was now time for London’s Burnt Tapes to make their long awaited return to the stage with the help of Be Sharp Promotions. The whole gig felt like it would be a great big friends fest and that feeling was amplified with the addition of Triple Sundae and Katie MF.


The gig would be taking place at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, a venue I hadn’t been to in years. Leaving Liverpool Street Station we were really taken aback by just how many people there were everywhere. You don’t get this many people in New Cross. After getting some food in Spitalfields market, we made our way to the venue and once we were inside there was a nice feeling of familiarity to be surrounded by all the pals from the New Cross scene rather than all those pesky Shoreditch trendy types.

The always absolutely delightful Katie MF would be opening the night. Katie was playing solo acoustic this evening and amazingly, despite seeing her play a lot over the past couple of years, this was my first time seeing her without the band. Something I believe Katie is very good at is tailoring her songs for the type of gig she’s playing. On this occasion, she played more of an upbeat and rowdy set of songs than she would perhaps would at a folkier type of gig. The set mostly consisted of unrecorded songs that are getting me super hyped about her next release, whenever it may be. Something I’ve noticed in her songwriting is that her songs are getting more uplifiting. Her previous release Everything Trouble Meant was an EP full of sad break up songs but the direction she’s going now seems to suggest there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel where everything will be fine. It’s a message I love. She finished a glorious set with a song that Emma thinks is titled Set It Alight which got such a fantastic reaction from the Old Blue Last crowd. The best way to start the night.


Next to take to the stage were Triple Sundae. Before the supports for the gig were even announced I think most people would have assumed that Triple Sundae would be playing. The two bands have been playing together in the same London DIY scene since their beginnings and have become great friends over the years. It was only right that Triple Sundae played this gig. The band themselves had already played their triumphant comeback show a month earlier at Till The Fest but this didn’t dampen anyone’s excitement to see them take to the stage. I said after the Till The Fest show that it was perhaps my favourite time ever seeing them. I take that back. This was my favourite time seeing Triple Sundae. Since coming back, there seems to be a new found enthusiasm within Hassan, Zandro, Mike and Andy and they have really smashed their sets. The smiles on each member of the band’s faces was just lovely to see and they were putting everything they had into the performance. I can’t think of many bands that get the kind of reaction from their fans as Triple Sundae do. It really is a case of everyone in the room is in it together. So many times during the set Hassan just stepped away from the microphone and let the crowd take the lead vocals. It’s something you love to see. Something I always enjoy when I see Triple Sundae play is how they make a point to shout out everyone in the room who has helped and supported them over the years. The love that comes from the crowd is always reciprocated right back by the band. It’s how it should be. Another stunning set by Triple Sundae


It was now time for Burnt Tapes and the room was absolutely buzzing. This was their first London headline show since their album launch show for Never Better back in 2019. After setting up their gear, they then left the stage and some traditional Greek music began to blare over the Old Blue Last speakers. It really gave the set a big-time feeling and really added to the level excitement throughout the room. The band soon returned to the stage and kicked off their set with Getitgotitgood and Drift Champ ’16. From then on, the next forty five minutes was filled with big sing-alongs, crowd surfs and stage dives – and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The set was full of songs from Never Better and their 2020 release Grower as well as a couple of special covers. With each song the reaction seemed to get better and better. I fully expected them to finish their set with Yuzi but they decided to include it early in the set. I got extra excited when they played Dirt Roads, as I’ve been asking them to play it for months and was it great to finally see them play it again. The two pronged vocal assault from Phil and Pan throughout the set sounded as good as ever and Tone and Jordan’s rhythm section proves once again that they are one of the best in the scene. After Dirt Roads, the band slowed things down with Lost In Transit. Midway through the song Phil decided to put down his guitar and jumped into the crowd to be surfed around the room before getting put safely back down on the stage. The Burnt Tapes have played a few Menzingers cover sets in the past and treated the Old Blue Last to renditions of I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore (where Zandro of Triple Sundae sang lead vocals) and After The Party. Both went down an absolute storm. After the covers, the band finished the set off with Things Get Weird where Tone joined the crowd on the floor to start the song and then Don’t Make Me Play Bocelli. What an epic ending to not just an incredible set but a wonderful night.


I think that when I look back at this gig in the weeks, months and years to come, it will be one of my favourites ever. With everything that’s gone on over the past eighteen months this gig seemed to mean so much to so many people. The level of love in the room was something truly special to be a part of. As we left the venue (and walked awkwardly through the weird hip hop clone swaying dance party that was happening downstairs) we were on a massive high, absolutely buzzing with a night of brilliant moments replaying in our minds. I couldn’t help but think about how much the Tapes, as well as Triple Sundae, would’ve smashed The Fest if things had worked out better. These two bands, as well as Katie MF, deserve all the success in the world, not just because of their brilliant music but because they are amazing people.

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