Friday, 22 November 2019

Gig Review: Hot Water Music at The Underworld, London 17/11/19 (by Emma Prew)

It’s not often that you have to buy tickets for a punk gig a whole year in advanced. When Hot Water Music announced a European tour of album shows for – arguably their most popular albums – No Division and Caution however, tickets were snapped up. The UK leg of the tour consisted of Caution shows in Manchester and London and a single No Division show in London. We opted for the Caution show at The Underworld in Camden and patiently waited for the day to arrive. Meanwhile, the supports were announced as CPRW – well, pretty much everyone’s – favourites Spanish Love Songs and Red City Radio so it couldn’t really get much better. Did it live up to my expectations though? Read on to find out…

The thing that stopped me from getting too sad about having missed Spanish Love Songs’ set at Fest (by not going to Fest) at the beginning of the month was that I would be seeing them at The Underworld. It’s no secret that they have become one of my absolute favourite bands over the past couple of years – I went to three dates of their UK tour in May – and so I’m always keen to scream my lungs out to their songs. On Sunday night, Spanish Love Songs had me hooked on every single note – from their opening song, Losers, through to the closing song, Beer & Nyquil – whilst putting in as much effort as if they were the headlining band. I wasn’t the only one who was hooked as, despite the early hour (6.30pm), The Underworld was pretty busy with those down the front raising their fists in the air enthusiastically. Such is our love for this band. I was particularly pleased to hear (No) Reasons To Believe live for the first time. But was 30 minutes enough? No, not for me. The good news, however, is that Spanish Love Songs will be back in just a couple of months to support The Menzingers(!) on their February UK/EU tour – I’ll be there!

After going a little hoarse singing along to Spanish Love Songs, it was time for more singalongs with one of the very best rock ’n’ roll bands in punk. There aren’t many better front people in punk rock than Red City Radio’s Garrett Dale either, he and his band sure know how to put on a good show. There’s a kind of theatrical nature to it, a little over the top but just the right amount of punk attitude to balance it out. I know Colin always refers to Red City Radio as being a singles band or at least a band with a lot of hit songs from their whole back catalogue, this is something that becomes apparent when they play live. Every single song is a banger, whether it be Whatcha Got? or Electricity from their 2015 self-titled album or the slightly older, highly singalong-able Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You – ‘I am a fucking juggernaut!’. Of course the setlist also featured tracks from last year’s excellent SkyTigers EP, such as If You Want Blood (Be My Guest) and Rebels which have become future classics in their own right, as well as the brand new song, Love A Liar. A killer set from a killer band.

So, we’d had two quite different but equally excellent sets from Spanish Love Songs and Red City Radio but, as The Underworld packed out even more, there was only one band that everyone cared about. Hot Water Music have been a band for 25 years – that means they formed when I was just three years old! (Sorry if that makes anyone reading this feel old!) Sadly, Chris Wollard wouldn’t be joining his bandmates on the tour but, as with the last (which was also the first) time we saw Hot Water Music in 2018, the highly capable Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners fame would be stepping up to fill Wollard’s shoes. It can’t be an easy task to temporarily replace a founding member of a legendary band such as Hot Water Music, particularly when that person is also one of the band’s lead vocalists but Cresswell does an outstanding job. This being a Caution album show meant, of course, that Hot Water Music’s set opened with a double whammy of Remedy and Trusty Chords – quite possibly two of the band’s biggest hits from their whole back catalogue, never mind of the album itself. Playing big hitters so early on in a set is a sure fire way to get the energy levels of the crowd up from the outset and the energy didn’t relent as the band tore through the remaining ten songs of Caution – Alright For Now and Wayfarer being notable highlights for me. I was half expecting Hot Water Music to exit the stage when they’d played the entirety of Caution before returning for an encore consisting of a handful of other songs but, instead, they stayed put to play nine songs from other releases in their 25 year back catalogue. With songs ranging from Shake Up The Shadows from this year’s EP of the same name to Turnstile from their 1997 album, Fuel For The Hate Game, there was something for new and old fans alike – and we even got to hear a song from No Division. Judging by the crowd at The Underworld on Sunday night, Hot Water Music are adored more so now than ever and I hope that they are still here for many years to come.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Photos also by Emma.)

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Top Tens: Ten Bands To See At Book Yer Ane Fest XIII

It's not very long to go now before Scotland's best festival Book Yer Ane Fest returns for its thirteenth edition. The three day festival is put together by the wonderful folk from Make-That-A-Take Records and takes place at Conroy's Basement and new vegan establishment Rad Apples in Dundee. The festival is a three day celebration of DIY culture and supports organisations Addaction, Royal Life Saving Society, Dundee Women's Aid, Dundee Foodbank, Dundee Refugee Support and LGBT Youth Scotland.

Something I always enjoy about the festival is that it offers the chance for us to see some bands that are new to us completely or are bands that don't very often find their way to England. I've taken the time to check out a few of the acts playing the festival and written a top ten list. I've avoided including bands such as Uniforms, Tragical History Tour, Goodbye Blue Monday, The Kimberly Steaks and The Murderburgers, who are playing their last gig at the festival, as they're a bit obvious and everyone reading this will know how good all those acts are. Instead I've picked ten bands that are new to me, ones I've never seen before or ones that don't come to London.

Dutch punk rock 'n' rollers Batwölf are perhaps better known for their previous band Black Volvo. Continuing on from where Black Volvo left off, Batwölf play heavy rock music with a punk swagger. They're a bit of a throwback but also have a sound that you don't often find in the UK punk rock scene. Listening to 2018's Spare No One EP, I'm looking forward to catching them live. I imagine it will be a lot of fun.

Broken Stories
This Perthshire folk duo offer something a little different to Book Yer Ane Fest. With just an acoustic guitar and a fiddle, Broken Stories craft these mesmerising tunes about life, love and loss. Broken Stories seem to be one of the Scottish scene’s best kept secrets and I'm certain that anyone checking them out for the first time will fall in love with them.

Buffalo Heart
Dundee's Buffalo Heart play sad and gritty emo punk rock music. Normally it's not my go-to genre but the beauty of a festival is being able to check out bands you wouldn't usually. Buffalo Heart could become my new favourite band that I didn't know I needed.

The Dangerfields
The Dangerfields are a thrash punk rock band from Belfast. From what I've heard from them this is going to be a very fast, frantic and energetic set from the band that will get everyone in Conroy's very sweaty. I love a relentless band like this and The Dangerfields are definitely one of the bands I'm most looking forward seeing at Book Yer Ane Fest.

Get It Together
Last time I made my way to Book Yer Ane Fest, I ended up missing Get It Together because of a Mega Bus that wasn't so mega. By all accounts, Get It Together played one of the best sets of that entire weekend and I was gutted to have missed it. Fingers crossed I won't miss another brilliant set from the hardcore band from Central Scotland. 2019's Live Free is one of my favourite hardcore albums of the year.

Getting Away With Treason
Berlin's Getting Away With Treason bring some fast, melodic skate punk to Book Yer Ane Fest. My first impressions listening to them is that they take everything you would expect from a band in the genre – fast technical riffs, pounding drums, soaring vocals, aggressive vocals, intricate fills – and manage to squeeze it all into one song without ever feeling like overkill. This is going to be something to see live.

Misfortune Cookie
Misfortune Cookie formed following the break-up of the much loved Bear Trade. Misfortune Cookie feature Bear Trade minus Greg and with added Helen Chambers. That's a seriously talented band. Their debut LP, Heavy Seas, has been very well received throughout the punk rock community and Book Yer Ane Fest will be my first opportunity to see them live. I'm expecting heartfelt lyrics and big sing-alongs.

Nicola Madill
I feel like I've seen Nicola Madill's name on a number of Make-That-Take Records gig posters and, judging from Madill's Facebook page, it's clear that Deeker thinks very highly of them. Crafting hauntingly beautiful Americana folk music, I assume everyone watching Madill will be absolutely spellbound by their performance.

The Overbites
The Overbites are one of the CPRW teams favourite new bands. Their debut EP, Mince, is so good. I love how varied it is, from fast punk rock, to some ska and even some gypsy punk. I never got to see The Overbites front man Muzzeh's previous band Maxwell's Dead so I'm extra excited to see The Overbites.

Paper Rifles
I've been a big Paper Rifles fan since hearing their early acoustic EP back in 2015. Since then, I've kept a keen eye on Paper Rifles and have taken delight in seeing the project grow and grow. Evolving from a solo acoustic project to a rocking full band effort, I would describe Paper Rifles as the best Scottish band you probably haven't heard of yet. On my last trip to Book Yer Ane Fest, I got to see the acoustic version of Paper Rifles and now I can't wait to see the full band effort.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Album Review: Pit Stop Punk Rock by Hateful Monday

Hateful Monday are a skate punk band from Switzerland. I first became a aware of them in 2017 when I reviewed their full length album Unfrightened. Now in their 21st year as a band, Hateful Monday released a new EP in September named Pit Stop Punk Rock.

The EP begins with The Road. Beginning with some fast riffing guitars and some rapid drums, it's clear from out outset how unashamedly skate punk Hateful Monday are. When the band’s lead singer Seb comes in I'm quickly impressed by his vocals. There's passion and melody in every word he sings. You know that he really believes in what he's singing about. On this occasion it's about life as a touring band, absorbing everything you encounter and sharing those brilliant experiences with your friends and family. Basically it's about living life to the fullest because you never know what might happen. Up next is Vault Of No Heaven. This is a slower track about relying on medication to help get you through the dark times that are happening in your life. I enjoyed how they lowered the pace on the song, it helps you connect with the track more. When the chorus hits, particularly the final one which they build up to nicely, they have you itching to sing it at the top of your lungs.

The End Is Near is a song about how we're quickly killing our planet and how we have no-one to blame but ourselves. The tempo is brought back up and there is also some added aggression that wasn't featured in the opening two songs. This is very appropriate given the subject of the track. The chorus feels like a real protest movement moment. I can just imagine a crowd of people screaming "THE END IS NEAR" in unison with the band, making a very powerful statement. The final track, also titled Pit Stop Punk Rock, begins with an audio clip from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby where Ricky is told that it's not important to always come first. The song is a gentle acoustic number about living your life as a punk rocker, living life fast but without any general direction. It sounds like a bit of a negative thing but the way in which the song is performed feels as if Seb sings of this life with joy – and so he should.

If you're new to Hateful Monday then this EP is a great place to start before working your way back through their impressive back catalogue. It's reasonably varied and gives you a great idea of what to expect from Hateful Monday. Introspective skate punk.

Stream and download Pit Stop Punk Rock here:

Like Hateful Monday here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Album Review: Vacation To Helheim by The Palatines

It's my opinion that Texas based act The Palatines are one of the best bands in pop punk at the moment. 2018's Death From Below was one of my favourite albums of the year and their split release this year with fellow Texan's Destroy Orbison was also superb. In September, the three piece released a new six song EP titled Vacation To Helheim. Given how much I enjoyed the previous two Palatines releases, I got around to listening to this disgustingly late. When I did finally listen to it I was even more disgusted with myself as it's really, really good. Perhaps their best release yet. I'll explain why.

Something I loved about The Palatines from the very first time I heard them was the mix of buzzsaw pop punk ala Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights and the vocal styles of Trevor Keith of Face To Face. It works really well. The first song on Vacation To Helheim is titled Too Poor and that wonderful sound is revisited. The song goes back to The Palatines’ school days and talks about being bullied because their families couldn't afford the "right clothes" and didn't fit in. Up next is Hikikomori. After a little Google search, I discovered that Hikikomori is a psychological condition that makes people shut themselves off from society, sometimes for months on end. This is what the song is about. Unsurprisingly from The Palatines, it's fast paced and relentless throughout. What makes this great though is, despite the speed, it's very easy to sing along with due to the short and stabby way the lyrics are delivered and the simple chant of "hikikomori" to finish the song. All I Need starts slowly but gradually gets faster as the song progresses. This works brilliantly in the song that is about going through a break up and wanting a chance to make things right. The song has more of a classic pop punk feel to it with some nice subtle doo-wop harmonies thrown in, adding a little extra level.

You'll Remember Me originally appeared on the split with Destroy Orbison. It's a fast and raucous song about a night out that went terribly wrong. You'll Remember Me definitely falls into the more rambunctious side of the punk rock genre whilst retaining some pop qualities with some infectious hooks and some catchy lyrics. The penultimate song is named To The Cleaners and sees a return back to the buzzsaw pop punk style. You could easily find this song on a Copyrights album. That not only says something about its sound but also its quality. This is as good as any song the Chicago band have written and The Copyrights are a band I hold with the highest regard so that's a big compliment. To The Cleaners is about being at the end of your tether and feeling like it's time to end it all. Lyrically, it's a very sad song but there's an upbeat nature to the song that initially drew me in. There's this great energy and urgency in the way that the song is played that I'm all over. The moment towards the end of the song after they play the chorus and then the song cuts out, making you think it's done, before coming back in is brilliant. I love things like that in songs. The final track is the EP's title track Vacation To Helheim. I wasn't sure where/what Helheim was originally so I, again, made my way to Google. It turns out The Palatines are making a reference to a region in the video game God Of War where Helheim is known as the realm of the dead. It sure doesn't sound like the sort of place I'd like to go on vacation. The song is about death but The Palatines have found a way to make it sound like a lot of fun and I wish I could get the chance to see The Palatine live to get the chance to sing the chorus back at the band. This is a stunning way to finish the EP.

Like I said at the start of this review, The Palatines are one of the best pop punk bands around at the moment. Vacation To Helheim is another brilliant release that I would expect to place quite highly in my, and many other peoples’, end of year lists.

Stream and download Vacation To Helheim here:

Like The Palatines here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Album Review: I've Made A Terrible Mistake by Our Souls

Leicester's Our Souls have become a firm favourite of mine since I was sent their debut EP, I Might Drink Myself To Death, at the beginning of the year. Clearly not a band to rest on their laurels, the five piece are already back with their next release – another EP, titled I've Made A Terrible Mistake. I Might Drink Myself To Death was packed full of melodic gruff punk that hooked me straight away. Would I've Made A Terrible Mistake do the same?

The EP opens with To Wound And Wander, Destitute. The track gets the EP off to a blistering start, greeting the listener with some up tempo guitars – immediately getting you pumped up and ready for the vocals to come in. When they do come in, be ready to shout along with a fantastic song about over analysing things and the toll it takes on your mental health. The song really comes alive during the chorus, it's one that will take up a quick residency in your brain and you won't be able to help but sing this to yourself all day long. There's also a great moment during the track where Our Souls deliver a great harmony section that had me salivating at the mouth. The second track, 12312341 showcases the harder side of Our Souls that we haven't heard before. I must admit this took me a little bit of getting used to as I wasn't really expecting it. It's a powerful and aggressive song about being fed up with something and just not caring about it anymore. The song is relentless throughout and will really get you fired up whether it's with a head bang or a full on mosh.

The third track is named Histrionics. Going back to the more melodic style and featuring a delicious bass line in the introduction, this is Our Souls showing the side of themselves that made me fall in love with them in the first place. Fist-in-the-air, sing-alongs and lyrics that look at looking back at the mistakes you've made and continually make, how they affect your life and whether or not you can learn from them. The penultimate song is titled Mental Health. When I read the track listing for I've Made A Terrible Mistake, this song instantly stood out. Mental health is a very big and important topic around a lot of modern punk rock and I'm always keen to hear more songs on the subject. Our Souls sing about the constant battle with your mental health issues. On the track, it's as if they are in conversation with their mind and are basically agreeing to do all the things that you shouldn't do when you're struggling. I really liked this different take on the subject. Last up is Beer Bullet. We were lucky enough to be asked to premiere the video for Beer Bullet on CPRW a few weeks ago, so hopefully you've already heard this track. It's a short hardcore song oozing with venom. I believe the song is about struggling with a drinking problem and finding it hard to quit. It's a short and catchy track that addresses a serious issue.

Our Souls continue to write seriously great songs. If I'm being 100% honest, I definitely prefer the more melodic stuff but the harder stuff is great too. If Our Souls continue to release such great tunes on a regular basis, I'm sure they will have more and more people talking about them.

Stream and download I've Made A Terrible Mistake here:

Like Our Souls here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Column: Why We're Doing It Together

By now you've hopefully seen the event I'm helping to put on with my pals Paul from Be Sharp Promotions and Sarah from Shout Louder. The event is titled Do It Together Fest and is taking place at the New Cross Inn in South East London on January 24th and 25th 2020. Buy tickets here – it's going to be smashing.

The big theme for the festival is, of course. Doing It Together. For years, the punk rock scene all around the world has had strong DIY ethos but in recent years I've noticed a change. Things aren't so much about doing it yourself but instead collaborating and "doing it together." We want to celebrate this ethos, hence why we're coming together to attempt to put on one of the best weekends of the year. (It also happens to fall nicely between our birthdays.) In this column, I plan to talk about all the positives in "doing it together."

Pretty much ever since Paul and I became friends, he's told me I should start putting on shows. I've always said no, for two reasons. The first is that there really isn't an audience for the bands I'd like to put on in Bedford. Secondly, it looks like a lot of stress and hard work and my mental health just isn't up for that. However, when Paul and Sarah approached me about putting on a birthday gig I jumped at the opportunity. I'd been wanting to learn what goes into putting on a show properly for ages and this was a great chance to do so. Plus I was getting a chance to have input as to who plays the gig. (And it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday.) Putting on a show with other people, especially people who I know are experienced in doing it, would take away a lot of the stress from me – this was the biggest reason why I jump aboard DITFest.

A big bonus about doing something like this with other people is that you can bounce ideas off each other. Obviously Paul, Sarah and myself are very good friends and aren't afraid to share thoughts and ideas with each other. Being the least experienced of the trio but with a huge willingness to learn, I've had loads of questions about things and the best way to do things. Discussing the best way to do certain things and how we should do things has hopefully helped everything run smoothly.

Between the three of us, we had a lot of ideas for cool things we could include at DITFest to make it stand out from your typical gig. We started with a massive list of bands we'd like. Obviously, time restraints meant we couldn't have all the bands on the list so we worked together on narrowing the list down to fourteen. Fourteen bands seems like quite a lot to organise but with three of us doing it it really made things much easier and it wasn't long before the line up was sorted.

Dividing jobs between the three of us really has made it easier on us all. If one person has seemingly been taking on more than the other two, we've been able to step in and take jobs of each other's hands to stop them piling up and hopefully preventing any unnecessary stress. When it's been needed we've even been able to use other resources to help with jobs that aren't in our own particular skill sets. Thanks for your design help, Emma. I can only imagine how much harder it would be to put together this gig by yourself. I just can't see the fun in it and if it's not fun, what's actually the point?

Something I've really enjoyed about doing DITFest with Sarah and Paul is just having the opportunity to converse with my friends. Often, whilst working on DITFest, the chat has strayed away from what we're working on just moved onto random chat. That's been nice. They're my friends and I like talking to them. Sometimes we get bogged down with things that aren't important and we don't talk to our friends enough. I'm really looking forward to being able to celebrate the birthdays of two of my friends in January. Last year Sarah and Paul put on separate gigs so I could only celebrate with one of them. Them doing a gig together (with me) means that this year I can celebrate with both of them! Doing It Together is better.

I'm super proud of the line up we've put together for DITFest. It's pretty varied, reflecting all of our personal tastes. This means that we're getting some bands that might not be frequent at the New Cross Inn for Be Sharp shows or that there's not as many bands that you might associate with Shout Louder (or Lockjaw Records that Sarah helps to run). This variation will hopefully help the bands play to some different audiences than they may usually and probably gain them some more fans. This is a fantastic thing.

In summary, Doing It Yourself is great but Doing It Together is even better. Come celebrate with us on January 24th and 25th.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Top Tens: Top Ten Unreviewed Albums (Part 3)

The amount of fantastic new releases in 2019! We missed so many for full reviews so Colin is working his way back through 2019 and sharing some gems that weren't originally featured on CPRW. This is part three of this series. Feel free to go back and read the other two posts in this series so far.

Mike Vidal – The Diners
Mike Vidal is the lead singer and guitarist of New Jersey punk band Nine Eighteen. This year he decided to swap his electric guitar for an acoustic one to release a solo EP. Recorded by the legendary Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls, The Diners features four stripped back acoustic punk and folk songs. Mike's gravelly vocal really shines on this superb EP.

Blind Man Death Stare – Comin' In Hot
Melbourne skate punk band Blind Man Death Stare have certainly made a name for themselves in the UK since releasing Comin' In Hot. I criminally overlooked the band when the album was released in March and am extremely pleased I eventually made my way back to it. The Australian skate punk scene really is thriving at the moment and Blind Man Death Stare do a fantastic job of standing out with a more "rough around the edges" sound. I'm excited to see the band back in the UK next year with a set at Manchester Punk Festival in April.

Dan Vapid & The Cheats – Three
Dan Vapid is best known as the guitarist from Chicago pop punk bands Screeching Weasel and The Riverdales, as well as the lead singer of The Methadones. Since 2012 he has also been releasing albums with his band Dan Vapid & The Cheats. This year they released their third album, imaginatively titled Three, and it's another album of Ramonescore pop punk bangers. Vapid has one of my favourite voices in the genre and it's as good as ever here. Three is one of the best power pop albums you'll hear all year. Probably not a big surprise given Vapid's history in the genre.

Versus You – Worn And Loved
Luxembourg's Versus You have been together since 2005 and have been steadily making a name for themselves throughout Eastern Europe. Worn And Loved was my first exposure to the band and I quickly became a fan. Blurring the lines between pop and punk rock, Worn And Loved is full of thoughtful and introspective songs by a band that are now masters of their craft. The album also includes a great cover of Straight Into Darkness by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.

Madaline – "It Is What It Is"
There have been some great ska punk albums released in the United States this year and one of my favourites as been "It Is What It Is" by Madaline. The North Texas seven piece play an energetic brand of third wave with superb dual vocals and some frantic brass lines. There's not a song on the album that will fail to get you dancing and it's always great to hear more and more fantastic underground ska bands from the States.

Patch Kid – Guts
Patch Kid are an indie punk/math rock three piece from Brooklyn, New York. The four song EP Guts is a refreshing take on the indie punk sound. On Guts, Patch Kid have produced a varied EP that showcases a variety of styles but also remains firmly Patch Kid. By that I mean that despite playing some different styles, you'll know instantly it's Patch Kid. This says a lot about the songwriting ability of the band.

Blind Adam & The Federal League – Mansions On The Boulevard
A-F Records always put out top quality releases so I don't know how I managed to miss Mansions On The Boulevard by Blind Adam & The Federal League. Combining punk rock with a little bit of country, I quickly fell in love with the three songs on this release. The Chicago based band play that fists-in-the-air style that so many of us love these days. I love the everyman quality to the songs. It feels like music by the people, for the people. This is how punk rock should be.

Thurman – A Day Called X
Thurman are a powerful emotional punk rock trio from Portland, Oregon. A Day Called X wasn't an EP that grabbed me immediately, as sonically it's not really my go to genre, but the more I listened to it the more it grew on me. Featuring big guitars, pounding drums and vocals that vary from indie pop to emo howling, Thurman do a wonderful job in keeping you on your toes throughout the EP. I imagine Thurman are absolutely fantastic to see live.

Nightmarathons – Missing Parts
I had every intention of reviewing Missing Parts by Nightmarathons when it was released in March but sadly never got around to it. I've felt bad about this all year because Missing Parts is a stunning album. All eleven songs are big bangers and always get me pumped whenever I listen. The Pittsburgh four piece play up tempo gruff punk with brilliant gang vocals and harmonies (my favourite thing about all songs) that needs to be shouted along to. Missing Parts is truly one of the best albums of the year. Hopefully nobody reading this overlooked it like I did.

The Muslims – Mayo Supreme
Mayo Supreme by The Muslims could be one of the most important punk albums to be released in 2019. It's a striking album as the band spread their political and social message by merging classic punk rock and afropunk along with elements of hardcore and rap rock. The album is relentless and I'm surprised that it didn't explode in the scene in the same way that G.L.O.S.S. did a couple of years ago. If you haven't listened to Mayo Supreme yet then I implore you to do so, not just for the music but for the message and content within.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.