CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Jack, Omar, Richard, Robyn myself and our newest member Lee have been listening to this March.
Friday, 22 March 2019
Thursday, 21 March 2019
The Penske File (Friday at The Bread Shed 17:50–18:00)
There's no doubt that Ontario, Canada's The Penske File earned a lot of new fans on their first tour of the UK last autumn and the announcement of their appearance at MPF was greeted with much excitement. The three piece play passionate, big chorused, shout along, punk rock songs that fill you with energy. Last year's Salvation album was their best release yet, which is some achievement given how good their previous album Burn Into the Earth is. This is definitely going to be one of those must-see sets of the weekend so make sure you get there early!
King Prawn (Friday at Gorilla 21:00–22:00)
This year, particularly on the Friday of MPF, the collective have got some of the best ska punk acts in the country on the line-up, including undisputable legends of the scene King Prawn. The festival takes place the same weekend that King Prawn will finally release the album they've been teasing us with since reforming six years ago. Titled The Fabulous New Sounds Of, I'd expect a set to be comprised of new tracks alongside plenty of old classics such as Dominant View, Survive, Bitter Taste, The Loneliest Life, Caught Inna Rut and Someone To Hate. It seems kind of crazy that it's taken so long for King Prawn to appear at MPF but they'll definitely be worth the wait.
Catch-It Kebabs (Friday at The Bread Shed 23:55–00:25)
Oh boy, I was excited when Catch-It Kebabs were announced on the line-up. The Yorkshire ska punk heroes are a band that I was quite late getting into so never managed to see them live. Needless to say I'm delighted to see them back, even if it is just for one night. Combining bouncing ska punk and swing movement with songs tackling political and social issues, the band will be playing at a special after party at Bread Shed named "The Big Tone Stage" in memory of local music producer Tim Gray who sadly passed away last year. I can't wait to see Catch-It Kebabs roll back the years and get everybody skanking.
Skin Of Tears (Saturday at Zombie Shack 14:50–15:20)
As the announcements for the festival were slowly coming out, I was gradually making my own playlist to make sure I checked out some bands I've never heard of. The first that really caught my interest was Germany's Skin Of Tears. It turns out that Skin Of Tears aren't a new band and have been around since 1991. The three piece play melodic skate punk music that would fit perfectly on the Epitaph/Fat Wreck rosters of the day. Skin Of Tears released a brand new album last December named Ass It Is and it's superb. I'm looking forward to watching a new favourite for the first time.
7 Years Bad Luck (Saturday at Zombie Shack 16:30–17:00)
Austria's 7 Years Bad Luck are a band I've been wanting to see since I first heard their album Bridges in 2014. When I saw that the three piece had been added to the weekend I was over the moon as I didn't really ever expect them to reappear in the UK. Playing melodic pop punk (the good kind) with a raspy vocal and great harmonies, 7 Years Bad Luck will offer something a little different to MPF and will no doubt gain many new fans during their set. If you've never heard of them before and you like bands such as No Use For A Name or The Murderburgers then you'll love 7 Years Bad Luck.
Officer Down (Saturday at The Bread Shed 23:50–00:20)
There are a whole host of bands reforming to play Manchester Punk Festival this year. One that really stood out for me was Evesham/Bristol's Officer Down. Another band that I was too late to get into and so I never got the opportunity to see them live but I absolutely adored their final album Dead Lands. Playing a mix of punk rock and hardcore and adding some melodic harmonies, Officer Down will add some bite to the weekend. It seems to be that Officer Down are back properly and not just for MPF and, given their former history with TNS, the festival will surely feel like a bit of a homecoming for the foursome.
Werecats (Sunday at Zombie Shack 14:50–15:20)
Bringing some much needed Ramonescore pop punk to MPF are South London's Werecats. The four piece, which boasts current or former members of The Pukes and The Zatopeks, write wonderfully catchy songs packed with delicious harmonies that always bring a smile to my face. Don't let the sugary sweet vocals put you off, when Werecats perform live they are brimming with attitude and are one of the best live acts around. If you haven't checked out last year's Destined For The Outside yet I strongly suggest that you do. If you love a bit of pop, then Werecats are one for you.
Arms Aloft (Sunday at The Bread Shed 16:10–16:40)
Wisconsin, USA's Arms Aloft will make only their third appearance in Manchester in thirteen years when they play MPF this year. I've only managed to see Arms Aloft once, at The Fest in 2016, and was really impressed with the way they connect with an audience and I'm looking forward to witnessing it again. The four piece play some of the best emotional gruff punk around and it's likely to be a whole set of passionate sing-alongs. I'm hoping to hear the songs Untitled, What A Time To Be Barely Alive, Where Seagulls Dare and Comfort At Any Cost.
Calvinball (Sunday at The Bread Shed 17:00–17:30)
Calvinball, with a little help from Arms Aloft, are reforming for MPF this year. They're a band I had previously heard a lot about but never had actually listened to myself. This was a big mistake on my part as I've really been enjoying the Sheffield band's gruff pop punk, particularly the album Last Orders. I can only imagine that this is going to be an emotional set for thess returning heroes of the UK's DIY punk scene. It's likely to be the last time the band will be about for a long time so don't miss this chance to see them.
The Junk (Sunday at The Bread Shed 17:50–18:30)
Yet another band who have recently reformed is The Junk. The Brighton based skacore act are back after going on hiatus in 2016. Adding to the very impressive roster of ska bands on the MPF line-up, The Junk will please fans who like to skank and mosh in equal measure. With some superb bouncing horn lines that will have the room picking their knees up and heaving hitting drum beats that will have folks joyfully bouncing off one another in the pit, this will be a seriously sweat filled set. It will also be a lot of fun.
This top ten was written by Colin Clark.
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Continuing the tradition of ska punk bands having bad puns for their names are Perth, Australia's The Donald Trumpets. Forming in January 2017 as a way to release their frustrations about all that is wrong with the world, the six piece quickly earned a reputation as a political ska band that will really get you partying. In February this year, The Donald Trumpets released their debut EP Waterboarding At Guantanamo Bay. I'm always eager to check out new ska bands so I enthusiastically sat down ready to review these five songs.
The EP begins with the song Bummerfest. The song starts out slowly with Peter Riggs' guitar welcoming us in before the rest of the band, including a three piece brass section, come in. Soon enough the vocals start and we are treated to a couple of verses talking about how we're spied on through our computers with all the data collected about us being stored in warehouses until you die(!). Around the halfway mark the tempo is upped and The Donald Trumpets get you skanking away whilst continuing to make you think about this current social climate. This song is such a great way to introduce you to the band. Up next is the sing along Coping Mechanisms. Starting out by shouting out the chorus of "wake up, get sad, get drunk, throw up" you instantly learn the chorus to this party ska song that's about drinking to keep away the horrible demons in your mind. As many ska punk bands do, here's a really cheerful sounding song about a topic that's really quite sad. The sense of catharsis in this is always clear though and I'm sure there are plenty of folk who will relate and will hopefully feel better after hearing this song and having a sing and a skank.
When I saw the title of the third song, Guys I'm Syrias, I immediately had a little chuckle. This political track begins with a sound bite of a man passionately stating he wants to overthrow the current system. Then the song starts proper and we're greeted with a bouncy ska punk tune that again will have you dancing and thinking. When the chorus begins we get a crunchier punk sound that really helps drive home the message the band are trying to put out. The penultimate song on the EP is named The More You Know. Again starting out slowly with an acoustic ska jam, things soon progress with the sound getting bigger and the tempo increasing quickly. The contrast in sound at the beginning and the end helps the song to stand out and show a different side of The Donald Trumpets sound. The multiple vocalists in the opening section make the stripped back section sound even bigger. When it's time to pick up the tempo it's like a flick of the switch and, just like that, it's crazy ska mosh pit time. Waterboarding At Guantanamo Bay finishes with Beer Party. You've just read the title so I'm pretty sure you can work out what the song is about – having a beer party. It's ridiculous fun and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The chorus, "whoa-oh, having a beer party", is likely to take residence in your head whether you like it or not and it will rattle around in there for a long time – you better get used to it. Such a fun way to finish the EP.
This EP is golden. Making me think of ska legends Mustard Plug and The Planet Smashers without ripping them off in the slightest, The Donald Trumpets are a band with a very bright future ahead of them. I don't know much about the Australian ska punk scene but on the strength of this release I'm very keen to check it out. If the bands are half as good as The Donald Trumpets then it must be a very special scene.
Stream and download Waterboarding At Guantanamo Bay here: https://thedonaldtrumpets.bandcamp.com/album/waterboarding-at-guantanamo-bay-2
Like The Donald Trumpets here: https://www.facebook.com/TheDonaldTrumpets/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
I stumbled upon Reconciler when I was scrolling through my Bandcamp feed and I saw the artwork for their new album Set Us Free. Featuring a wolf sitting on a red pillow with a rabbit and some dark clouds behind it, it was quite startling. This was enough to make me want to check out Set Us Free and I was really impressed with what I heard. Reconciler are a three piece band from Atlanta, Georgia. They formed in 2016 and had already released a debut EP before the release of their first full length Set Us Free which was released in February this year on A-F Records. Reconciler is Joseph Lazzari on guitar/vocals, Darren Nuhfer (formerly of Less Than Jake) on bass/vocals and Kelsey Wilson on drums.
Set Us Free begins with the song Honest Words. This sets the stall out for what you should expect from the album – Americana inspired punk rock with a vocal that is part Dave Hause and part Laura Jane Grace and is a really big selling point for Reconciler. The mid-tempo pace along with some easily accessible lyrics and a catchy chorus ensure that you'll be singing along from start to finish. This is followed up by Constant. At just over a minute and a half long I was kind of surprised Reconciler would put a song so short so early on the album. It works really well though. The pace is upped and Lazzari's vocals seem to have a bit more aggression about them. This perks the album up immediately and has you wanting more already. Constant also flows brilliantly into the third song, All We Have. On my first listen through of Set Us Free this song really stood out. It starts reasonably slowly but soon builds up into a melody-infused song that has this brilliantly infectious tune that you will be humming for days. All We Have is about not having much but appreciating the memories that you hold close to your heart. The song is really uplifting and leaves a big smile on your face.
There is a moody tone that opens the fourth song, January. The slow way in which the song begins and the muted background music underneath the vocals ensure that you pay full attention to Lazzari's vocals which really remind me of LJG on New Wave. It's a plodder but another stand out that is about trying to keep a relationship together even though you know it's falling apart. Things pick back up on the following track Just Say It. If you're a fan of The Gaslight Anthem, I have no doubt in my mind that you'll really enjoy this song. A repeating trick that Reconciler seem to do is to start songs out with some guitar and vocals before they bring the full band in, this is a sure fire way of getting a listener's attention – particularly live. The song is about having the strength to talk about things that are troubling you and putting on the facade that you find it easy. The sixth song, Rust, presents a heavier side of Reconciler. The tone of the opening guitars feels angrier and Lazzari seems to be straining his vocals slightly, adding more emotion to the song. The tempo is upped slightly too which gives it more urgency. This is a break up song as Lazzari laments the things that he's messed up in a relationship and wonders what might have been. The higher tempo continues on the following song, Take It Away. Feeling more like a straight punk rock song that anything else up to this point, it helps give Set Us Free a bit of an adrenaline boost. I loved hearing Reconciler mix up their sound here, doing a great job in keeping me interested in the album. There's a great section in the final portion of the song that's instrumental and sounds like it's going to lead into the next track but in fact it builds into a final ferocious salvo to finish the song.
Just Wanna Play Rock 'N' Roll is an upbeat track about music as an escape from all the rubbish that comes from life. I really loved the positivity in the chorus. Screaming out the lines "I just wanna play rock 'n' roll" will offer the listener a great deal of catharsis and will certainly put plenty of smiles on people's faces. I also enjoyed the final bridge of "this is a sound to wash away the anger, this is a hope that we can find peace." Really powerful lyrics. This is Reconciler's anthem. The ninth song on Set Us Free is titled Don't Cry. After the upbeat nature of the previous track, Don't Cry slows things down dramatically and almost sounds like a stadium rock tune. It's a song that slowly builds throughout its duration, it doesn't rush itself but when it reaches its climax it's certainly worth it. The penultimate song is titled Not What I Used To Be. Picking things back up the introduction of the song quickly had me dancing in my seat. Vocally, Lazzari's delivers the lyrics with a nice tempo and a wonderful melody that brilliantly gets you swept up in the song. Not What I Used To Be is about growing as a person and changing the way you are. It's a track that overflows with positivity and I really enjoy that. Finally we have Damn The Weather. The track is screaming out to be sung along with as about three quarters of the song is just guitar and vocals – Lazzari really puts on an impressive display here. What a great range he has. The slow build in the song creates such a great feeling of tension that the moment when the full band comes in really feels like a special moment. What a big way to finish off Set Us Free.
Set Us Free is a fine album. It's an emotive punk rock record that's full of smart and powerful punk rock anthems you'll be wanting to sing along to – loud and proud. Definitely an album for fans of Against Me!, The Loved Ones and The Gaslight Anthem.
Stream and download Set Us Free here: https://reconcileratl.bandcamp.com/album/set-us-free
Like Reconciler here: https://www.facebook.com/reconcileratl/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Monday, 18 March 2019
Boob Sweat are a three piece pop punk band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Consisting of Kate on bass and vocals, Athen on drums and Gracie on guitar and vocals, Boob Sweat recently released their debut self titled EP. The EP features four songs of powerful feminist pop punk that really caught my attention from the outset.
The EP begins with the song Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is a track filled with attitude that has the trio fighting back against a terrible boyfriend and calling them out on all of their downfalls. The song is pretty striking from the start, particularly the chorus of "fuck you, fuck you, fuck everything you do." Madison Avenue gets the EP started in pretty memorable way. Candy Wrapperz is more of a melodic pop punk track than the opener. Beginning with a simple drum beat, a grumbling bass and an impressive vocal, Candy Wrapperz pulls you in immediately before we even get to the crux of the song. I enjoyed that the chorus has a bit of a country vibe to it without Boob Sweat losing any of their punk attitude. The song is about being stuck in an uncomfortable position, being stuck in a car with a man and trying to avoid their unwanted advances. It's horrific and disgusting that such a thing would happen and full credit has to go to Boob Sweat for bringing it up in this fantastic song.
The third song on the EP is named Tamp-Off. This short track is a punchy one about the feeling of beginning your period. Obviously not something I'm an expert on it but it does seem like Boob Sweat have captured the feeling very well. It's clear by this stage of the EP that Boob Sweat are extremely blunt and honest songwriters who also have a sense of humour. Musically Boob Sweat are at their rawest, sacrificing some melody for a crunchier sound that works well with the context of the song. The final track is titled Gilman. This was the first song of the band’s that I heard and what encouraged me to check out the EP. Undoubtedly the poppiest song of the four, this is a great choice of track to introduce newcomers to their style. It's a positive song that talks about following your dreams, getting out of your house and going as far as you can in your life. I really like the feeling of empowerment that Gilman gives and it is so wonderfully catchy. This is a summer pop punk track that will put a smile on your face.
With bands such as Bad Cop / Bad Cop and The Bombpops getting a huge amount of attention in the USA's punk rock scene, it's great to see more bands of this style coming through. This EP shows a huge amount of promise from Michigan’s Boob Sweat. Four fantastic, honest, thoughtful and catchy pop punk songs that are a lot of fun.
Stream and download Boob Sweat here: https://boobsweatofficial.bandcamp.com/album/boob-sweat-ep
Like Boob Sweat here: https://www.facebook.com/BOOB-SWEAT-233590863957316/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Yesterday London's anti folk punk rocker Katie MF announced a brand new EP. Titled Everything Trouble Meant, it's being released on Friday the 10th of May. To celebrate, Katie MF will also be holding a launch party at The Black Heart in Camden on Thursday the 9th of May. Tickets are £7 in advance or £10 on the door AND everyone coming through the door will get a CD and Bandcamp download of Everything Trouble Meant. We're really excited for this EP.
Check out all the details for the event here.
Below is Katie MF's previous EP, Learning How To Lie, to wet your appetite and give Emma's review of it here a read as well.
Friday, 15 March 2019
In 2017 Seattle punk rockers Dead Bars' album Dream Gig was my album of the year. It was superb. I am thrilled to find out that the band are back with their follow up titled Regulars. Regulars will be released on the 3rd of May through All In Vinyl (UK), A-F Records (North America), Eager Beaver Records (Japan) and No Reason Records (Italy).
Here's what the band have to say about Regulars.
"I like this idea of being a regular. There are moments of highs and lows; loneliness and community, sadness and celebration. That's what it's like to be in a band. That's what it's like to be in Dead Bars." says vocalist/founder John Maiello
These ideas and contradictions that can be heard throughout the album, like on 'No Tattoos'. "All my friends have tattoos / But I don't have any tattoos. They wanna remember something / And I wanna forget everything," muses Maiello. Sure it's an easy-on-the-ear anthem, ripe for pit-friendly fun, but it's also indicative of the broader approach that underpins Dead Bars' song-writing. You can be part of the community - and you're welcomed into the Church of Dead Bars - but you're also an individual, and you can be different.
Formed in 2013, a song like 'No Tattoos' marks out just how different Dead Bars are, and how their path to this point has been anything but traditional. The brainchild of two East Coast drummers, John Maiello, and C.J. Frederick, who met, appropriately enough, in a Seattle bar. Since then, a succession of friends and session musicians have filled in, helping out when needed, until the current, steady, line-up of Maiello, Frederick, Jon Oddo and Elliot Thordarson solidified.
"It's always been a rotating cast of characters," says Maiello. "We kind of function like an actual bar. Sometimes people get tired, and they go home, or they get too fucked up and get kicked out."
Now a long-time Seattle resident, Maiello called on one of the city's icons to helm 'Regulars', hitting up the legendary Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden) to oversee production duties. When Maiello first sent some songs over, Endino replied that "[They have] a good pop hook with a bunch of bashing and screaming over it; what's not to like?" This sound remains on 'Regulars', sticking fast and true to the classic Dead Bars songs like 'Emergency' and 'Earplug Girl'.
"I cold-called him because I figured if it worked for Nirvana then maybe it would work for us," says Maiello. "So we tracked all the music with him at Soundhouse in Seattle, and then I did vocals at Pierced Ears Recording with Aaron Schroeder (Wimps). It was mixed in Massachusetts by Jay Maas (Defeater, Ceremony)."
Yet, while 'Regulars' retains much of what makes Dead Bars so great, it is no mere repeat of past successes. Instead, it features the group's most ambitious songs to date - a consequence of more collaboration and a settled line-up. In turn, this has allowed for more of the group's classic influences to start informing the song writing - from the Beatles to Tom Petty and the Stooges.
"Everything was different, this time," says Maiello. "We jammed a lot more during the writing of this, so there's definitely more guitar stuff - and more vocal stuff - going on. Also, two of C.J.'s songs made it onto the album."
The result is 11 songs of heartfelt and passionate punk rock, which will appeal to anyone who has ever struggled to find their place in the world. 'Lucky' and 'Another Day' are pure garage-tinged pop-punk ragers that are built for sweaty bar-room call-and-responses, while 'You Never Left' and 'Rain' show the group's ability to mix the hopelessness and hopeful. 'Freaks', meanwhile, is a rallying call for the misunderstood, while 'Producto Toxico' - a song about going to an exotic place and doing the same thing you do at home - carries a relatable world-weariness.
Two years ago, Dead Bars' biggest preoccupation was playing their 'Dream Gig'. Now, as they examine the human condition, the stakes are raised. In the classic Replacements tune, 'Here Comes a Regular,' Paul Westerberg's cry that "Everybody wants to be special here," seems like the perfect mantra for 'Regulars' and its overarching themes of acceptance, loneliness, and community. Of course, we're all special and unique in our own way - but sometimes you need a band like Dead Bars to realize it.