Monday, 23 May 2022

Album Review: feels by Trophy Jump

Trophy Jump are a band we’ve been keeping a keen eye on since discovering their album Depression Club in 2018. Since then, we’ve really enjoyed the band’s progression with each subsequent release. In February the band released their second album, feels, on JeboTon (Croatia), Horn & Hoof Records (UK), We’re Trying Records (US) and Nasty Cut Records (EU). I listened to it immediately but then life got in the way and that’s delayed my review/love letter to the band until now! Let’s get on with it.

Feels begins with It’s Not A Race!!! This track serves as an introduction for the album. Beginning with some phone feedback before we get some electronic music along with Antun Aleksa’s recognisable vocals. During the forty-eight seconds, Antun sings about taking your time with whatever you’re doing in life. This then leads into the first proper song on feels – Business Trip. Starting with some building guitars and a simple drum beat, Antun’s vocals soar during this opening section. The song is about quitting your job that you hate and going out and experiencing life. Something I’m sure that most of us wish we had the courage to do. Maybe this song will give you the encouragement to do so. When I first listened to the third song, Neon Light, there was a very familiar voice coming through my speakers. The track features the brilliant Phil Georgoulopoulos of our friends Burnt Tapes on guest vocals. Starting out in a sombre fashion, the song has an element of Alkaline Trio to it in sound as well as the way they tell a story. It’s one of those times where you can get a sense of what the music video would look like just from the lyrics. The track is about the come down you often get after a good night out and that horrible feeling of depression that can come from that. Phil’s vocals add some real emotion to the song. I hope that when they play Bristol Booze together in May Phil joins the band on stage to provide vocals.

Leather Couch is a song that Trophy Jump originally released as a single back in 2019. I’m very glad that they decided to put it on the album as, at the time, I stated that I think it’s the best song they had written to date. I’ve listened to the song so much, whenever that opening guitar riff comes in I get excited. It’s a familiar feeling when I hear the opening of Gainesville Rock City by Less Than Jake. I get pumped. I’m a big fan of gang vocals and harmonies and Leather Couch is chock full of them. This works especially well as the song is about friendship, those beautiful times of doing nothing and having the best time in the process. This feels like a show closer. Next is I Don’t Wanna Live In A Fitness Ad. After a short audio clip featuring a phone call between two chaps talking about going for a run, the song kicks in. There’s a paunchiness to things that changes things up a bit. The song is a fun one about not wanting to exercise and enjoying the things that are bad for you. Probably not something I would recommend but, also, life is too short so sometimes you have to go nuts. The highlight for me is the chorus and the gang vocals which I imagine getting a great reaction. The sixth song is titled Brkn Values. Trophy Jump really bring the pace down here with an introduction that will get your head banging. This is Trophy Jump at perhaps their moodiest and I feel like they have perhaps taken inspiration from UK legends Apologies, I Have None with the atmospheric sound they have going on. Brkn Values takes digs at musicians who sell out, lose the passion for their music and keep recycling the same old stuff to cash in on their fans. I’m sure everyone reading this will have experienced frustration at how the mainstream ignores a band we love and feel like should be huge for a safe and risk-free choice who sold their souls many moons ago.

Interdimensional Cable 420 acts as a short interlude that leads into the eighth song FOMO. FOMO brings the mood back up with a fast and upbeat song about not knowing how to be by yourself and always wanting to be out doing things with friends. Fear Of Missing Out is a real thing that people can experience and I’m glad to see Trophy Jump write a song about it. Once again there are plenty of moments to sing-along with the band, this gives the track a cathartic feeling, especially to anyone who does suffer with FOMO. Hugs And Drugs was the first single released in the build up to the album’s release and it was the very best choice. I think this is the best Trophy Jump song to date. The chorus is absolutely huge here as the band belt out “well I guess that it kinda sucks, that the only love we ever had, was hugs on drugs.” The track is about using drugs, or I guess alcohol, as a way to get over your shyness and how friendships can feel empty because of this. This is not something I can really relate to as I’ve always been sober but I’m sure I know plenty of people who will. I look forward to the day I can be surrounded by friends, arms locked and shouting this back at the band. It seems like that will be special. The penultimate track is Beer Pressure. Once again, this is a hard one for me to relate to as I don’t drink but it’s about the pressure to continue consuming alcohol to keep up with your friends even if you’re not sure that you want to. I really enjoyed the switches in melody and how the band effortlessly switches between pop and skate punk throughout the track. Finally we have Sharing Is Scary. This is an epic acoustic track to close things off. I enjoyed the stripped back approach to the song, it makes it feel more intimate and there is an element of campfire punk rock about it, particularly in the final moments. The track is about exactly what the title suggests, sharing your feelings with anyone and the fear that that brings. Something every human struggles with at some point but it’s important and healthy to talk about your feelings and I’d encourage everyone to take the brave steps to do it.

Trophy Jump always take things to another level with every release and they’ve continued to do that on feels. If you’re a fan of melodic pop punk with raspy and gruff vocals and great lyricism then definitely do not sleep on Trophy Jump! They will be in the UK in the middle of June. Get out to a show and support them.

Stream and download feels on Bandcamp. Like Trophy Jump on Facebook.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Gig Review: Drones Final Gig at The Lexington, London 7/5/22

So, Drones have split up after twelve years. During their time together they became one of the most well loved and respected DIY bands in the UK punk scene. Despite some line-up changes throughout the years, the band only ever seemed to go from strength to strength and got to bow out at the absolute top of their game. The band announced that they were splitting up at the beginning of the year and that their final two shows would be at Manchester Punk Festival and one final headliner at The Lexington in North London. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend their Lexington show which featured support from label pals Burnt Tapes and newcomers Cult Revival.

First up were Kent’s Cult Revival. The five-piece only formed in 2021 and had, so far, only played one gig together. I thought it was really cool for Drones to pick such a new band for their last show. In a way, the crowd could replace some departing heroes with some new ones. Not knowing much about Cult Revival I was intrigued to see what their sound was. Unfortunately, it took a couple of songs to really get a feel for them as the sound was not as good as it could have been. The band played a fresh and interesting sounding emo style with elements of alternative rock thrown in that I’ve not heard a lot of recently. The use of two singers, one with cleaner vocals and one with a big scream, was a nice contrast and the band do seem to have come up with a sound that could see them do some exciting things. There was a nice moment during their set where they did a quick cover of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) which they dedicated to their friends in Drones – which I thought was a lovely touch. Slam Dunk is on the horizon and Cult Revival have the kind of sound that I think will be very popular for fans of that festival in years to come.

Next up were Drones’ long time friends and Lockjaw Records label mates, Burnt Tapes. You know we’re massive fans of the band at CPRW and any opportunity to see them is always a pleasure. A bit like Cult Revival before them, the sound for the first couple of songs was a bit off but it didn’t stop the crowd from engaging in a big sing-along. The band tore through so many favourites, barely stopping for a chat. Perhaps wanting to squeeze as many songs in as possible during their thirty minutes on stage. Songs such as Drift Champ ’16, Dirt Roads, Robert Cop and Greek Wood all got great reactions, alongside closers Things Get Weird and Yuzi. A new thing that the Tapes have incorporated into their live set since lockdown is bass player Tone getting into the crowd and encouraging them to squat down during the intro of Things Get Weird. It’s a fun bit of crowd participation that Tone in particular gets a real kick out of. As always, Burnt Tapes smashed their set and got me excited to see them again at Bristol Booze Cruise next month.

Last up, it was time for the final ever Drones set. During the changeover we popped outside for some air. Upon returning the room was packed with a lot of people very keen to give Drones a proper send off. The band took to the stage and the anticipation was high as the band started their set. I was extremely pleased that the sound issues that had troubled Burnt Tapes and Cult Revival at the beginning of their sets didn’t seem to be an issue for Drones. Of the few times I’ve seen Drones in the past I’ve always come away just mesmerised by just how good they are live. Lois is such an incredible front person, charisma oozes out of them and makes them extremely watchable. Their vocals sounds spot on and accompanied by bass player Kerr’s shouts is really when the band come into their own. The opening of the set sees the band getting the crowd more and more amped up and it’s not long before the mosh pit gets going and we get our first crowdsurfers of the evening. As I’ve seen Lois do at most Drones shows I’ve been to, it’s not long before they enter the crowd to sing. The crowd seemed to part for them to make a corridor for them to stalk down whilst belting out Rorschach. I always enjoy seeing a band get down in the crowd, not only does it create a stunning visual but it shows there is a togetherness between the band and their fans that’s just wholesome. I stood towards the side of the crowd and had a great view of both the stage and the crowd and it was amazing to see both parties feed off each other to create a truly special moment. The set sadly flew by and it seemed to get to its conclusion far sooner than anyone (including the band, I suspect) would have liked. They saved a couple of surprises for the end though. The first being the current members of the band being joined by some old members for a song, during which Lois took the opportunity to crowd surf, and then as a final song all Drones members past and present performed together, in what I jokingly referred to as a McBusted moment. It was a pretty special moment to witness. It felt like a great way for the band to go out. This was not quite the end though, as the crowd demanded that Drones returned to the stage for a well deserved encore.

This was such a special way for Drones to go out. The room was full of friends of the band from all over the country for one last party with them. The whole evening was full of positive feelings and love and I felt particularly blessed to have been able to witness it. I’ve no clue what the members of Drones have planned but I suspect that we will see them pop up with other musical projects in the future – there’s too much talent in the band for them not do something else.

RIP Drones. Thanks for the music. Thanks for the memories.

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

Monday, 16 May 2022

Album Review: Sham Laws by Slow Science

When Slow Science were announced for Manchester Punk Festival it came as quite the surprise. The four-piece split up in 2014 and I hadn’t ever heard of any rumblings of a reunion. I was pleased to see them returning, as I only ever got into them after catching them at their final show at Urban Bar in Whitechapel. To go along with their MPF appearance they had another surprise. A brand spanking new two track EP titled Sham Laws! This pleased me greatly and I couldn’t wait to check it out.

I’ve realised as I’ve written this that there might be a few folk who are unaware of Slow Science’s sound. I think the best way of describing them is as anthemic, melodic pop punk with dual vocals and beautiful harmonies. There’s also a healthy dose of gang vocals. All the good stuff.

The first track is named Cold Smoke. Now, whenever I usually see that a song is five and a half minutes long I groan. That’s a long length for a song, especially for someone with my attention span. I absolutely loved this song though. It’s a real lesson in making songs long but also keeping them interesting. There’s loads going on but it doesn’t feel congested. It’s also not super repetitive. Cold Smoke starts out in a punchy fashion with Jon taking the lead before the track switches to a more melodic style and Stacey takes over. I love this. The pair switch multiple times throughout the song and combine on the huge chorus. The gang vocals accompanied by some delicious harmonies during the final moments of the song are an absolute thing of beauty that needs to be heard to be believed.

What We Are is the second track on Sham Laws. What a journey this song is! Once again there is a lot going on but once again it all works perfectly. It starts with a dreamy fuzzy guitar riff that all your emo heroes of the past would be jealous of before Jon’s vocals come in as well as some gang harmonies trading lines. A great way to start the song. The chorus has a familiarity to it that sends me back twenty years but doesn’t feel like something they’ve rehashed. What We Are also has plenty of moments where the band can show off their musicianship with some slick solos scattered throughout the song. The ending of the track also shows off a different side of Slow Science as they strip things back and have some huge gang vocals to get things finished, as the band yell “turn to what we are, not what you became” repetitively and the song fades out.

This is one of those times where the level of musicianship and songwriting is so high, I really struggle to review and eloquently describe just how brilliant it is. Basically, don’t take my word for it, go check it out for yourself and you will be as awestruck as I am by it. New material suggests that Slow Science’s appearance at MPF wasn’t a one-time thing and I hope they find their way back down to London pronto.

Stream and download Sham Laws on Bandcamp here.

Like Slow Science on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Album Review: Now by Rent Strike (by Rich Bailey)

I've always enjoyed a bit of ‘folk punk’; especially Drag the River, Wingnut Dishwashers Union, The Taxpayers and Chuck Ragan’s stuff. I first came across Rent Strike when they released ‘IX’ in 2018 and vaguely followed their comings and goings ever since. ‘Now’ is a slight departure from earlier recordings in that it is more on the ‘folk’ side of things rather than ‘punk’; but that said, it doesn’t detract from some great storytelling and personal lyrics that are very emotive.

Album opener Radio Silence starts initially with typical folk guitar and folk singing, then drums, bass and the rest burst in and give the whole song a fuller, padded out vibe: later we return to the guitar/vocals. This is a great opening track about how peripheral noise (radio, TV etc.) is meaningless. Taking My Time reminds me of early Magazine, especially John Warmb’s vocal delivery – albeit in a Michigan accent. There's great, intricate guitar over pounding rhythm section. A song about revisiting the past to take what’s rightfully yours rather than putting up with what hand you’ve been dealt; “Bathed in radiation, born under a sour sign, all that I’m left with is this meaningless existence, being made to work and wait around to die.”

From The Outside is a highly emotional piece about the unfairness of existence which ends with a hopeful sense of trying to make things better; “… but I’m gonna be strong, and I’m gonna see.” Work! (Future Perfect) is a lament about having to work to live and how one person copes (beer and cigarettes) with this immutable fact – a lot of people’s favourite track on the album. There's some excellent use of slide guitar! The Solid Wall of Stuff has great lyrics about wasting life and not really knowing why; brilliantly delivered with female vocal echoes.

Next Time and Redline (Derive) are long, slow burners with thoughtful, personal lyrics that are emotionally raw and honest with magnificent and sparse guitar work that complements the words beautifully. GBRO is a song about the end of a relationship and who actually called it; “So who’s hand is on the switch anyways?” It's a swing style track with excellent trombone from Michele Fortunato. Time And Decay has an opening verse with an acoustic led impassioned pontification about getting old and being likened to an old, slow computer. The rest of the band then kicks in for a sped up country punk song about how we all turn into our parents (God forbid!).

At The Threshold is a slow, mournful broadside about how we are slowly killing out planet and we haven’t got long to do something about it. The longest track and perhaps my favourite Now (… and Forever!) links back to the opening song about sleeping with the television on and is a magnificent opus about God being dead, everybody hating the police and how to cope with how the world is changing – a quality track! The album's closer is A Spectacular Time, a synth laden, intricate song about the end of a relationship (or the end of an album?) with the closing lines – “I’ll never know if the moment was right, But I had a spectacular time.”

All in all, the album consists of some hopeful undertones to some personal and bleak topics.

Stream and download Now on Bandcamp and like Rent Strike on Facebook.

This review was written by Rich Bailey.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Album Review: Total Disarray by Quaker Wedding (by Marcus Pond)

Total Disarray is the sophomore LP from Quaker Wedding, a three-piece outfit from New York City. If you scroll back in the CPRW archives far enough, you’ll see that I ranked their debut record, In Transit, as my 3rd favorite album of 2020, so when Marco (who runs Salinas Records and is the frontman for Quaker Wedding) sent me the link to the new songs, I was beyond stoked to check them out. Of course, even though I totally meant to write it up ahead of time, I waited until the vinyl came in the mail, because spinning it in my living room is always a better experience than with my headphones on a laptop.

Although Quaker Wedding released “Russian Hill” as a 7” single last year (by the way “Running List”, also made the tracklist), “Vintage Dress” is the song that was given the music video treatment and leads off the record. It sets the lyrical tone for the album, with palm muted verses leading to a crashing chorus about a dissolved relationship. Looking at the lyric sheet, it reads like a diary, and lines like “when you left it / you left me to be the one / to throw your dress out in the trash” had me speechless when I first heard them.

Like their debut, the album art on Total Disarray hints at the band’s relationship with location (faded photos of mostly desolate cityscapes with images of maps around the edges), and they hash out that relationship out in songs like “Woodbridge” and “A New York Minute”. The former is a burst of anger-fueled energy about all the things you hate about where you live driving you crazy, while the latter is a bittersweet number about knowing “how it feels to be a ghost / to haunt the place I love / without the people I miss most”.

The sequencing on Total Disarray is perfect, as they hit the listener with the best three-song leadoff I’ve heard from any album this year (I know it’s early, I’m just setting the bar here), and after slowing it down with tracks like the wistful “Staten Island Ferry” and the darker, moody “In And Of Itself”, they close with the one-two punch of the aforementioned “Russian Hill” and “Hurricane”.

The comparisons I’ve seen online to Jawbreaker are apt, as “Russian Hill” sounds like a bop that could’ve been from the 24 Hour Revenge Therapy sessions and is one of the brighter tunes on Total Disarray. Conversely, “In And Of Itself” has a (at least to my ears) Dear You kind of vibe. More than anything, both bands play heavy punk songs with impeccable lyrics, and if that’s what you’re into, Quaker Wedding has 10 fresh tracks that you should really dig.

Songs to check out: “Vintage Dress”, “Woodbridge”, “Running List”, “Russian Hill”.

Stream and download Total Disarray on Bandcamp.

This review was written by Marcus Pond.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Gig Review: Whitmore – 20th Anniversary Of Smoke The Roach at New Cross Inn, London 30/4/22

If you are of a certain age and you grew up loving UK punk rock music then I have no doubt that you have fond memories of the P-Rock TV channel. The channel, which only ran for about six months, played music videos from bands such as Rancid, The Distillers, The Vandals, Allister and Home Grown, as well as UK acts such as 4ft Fingers, King Prawn, Farse and [Spunge]. One UK act that is potentially most associated with the channel is Whitmore, because of the video for their song Alison. In 2022, the album which featured Alison, Smoke The Roach, turned twenty years old and Whitmore figured it would be a good time to celebrate this. A few shows were booked, including one at the New Cross Inn put on by Be Sharp Promotions. Of course, I had to pop along to the party.

I turned up early and caught up with Be Sharp’s Paul and Martin of Slagerij, one of the support bands for the evening. It was a bit disappointing to see the room looking a bit sparse for a band that is remembered so fondly but it was interesting to see the folk who did turn up. It looked to be mostly a bunch of folk in their mid to late thirties who have perhaps been allowed a night off from their partners for the gig. There were, however, also some young people in attendance. They were the opening act, Keep Summer Safe. The three-piece are a fairly new band but I recognised lead singer and guitarist Gian from filling in for Fastfade a few years ago. I felt like they were a great choice to open the show with their fun and energetic style of pop punk that fits perfectly between old school bands such as Blink and New Found Glory and newer bands like The Story So Far and Neck Deep. From the outset, the band made it clear they were about having fun and it was super nice to see. The between song banter was entertaining and at one point their bass player even left the stage to go to the bar for a drink! I get the feeling that I’ll be seeing Keep Summer Safe a lot at New Cross in the coming months and years.

Slagerij were next to take to the stage and had been supporting Whitmore at all of their Smoke The Roach shows. They had only been at the New Cross Inn a few months previously, supporting [Spunge] on their Room For Abuse tour. I had been impressed with the three-piece back then but this time I enjoyed them even more. This might be as I was a bit more familiar. It might be because the venue wasn’t as busy as the previous time. There’s a very good chance it was partly because I hadn’t just done my first three day festival in two years before the gig. As I watched the band bounce around the stage with relentless energy, I tried to think of some of the newer bands in ska that play this style and the only one I could think of that is remotely close were our friends Baldhead And The Dreads. Despite only being a three-piece, I was very impressed with the way they commanded the stage, using every square inch of it during their set. As they played through their set, Slagerij got more and more people dancing and got some great crowd participation during their penultimate track, Can’t Stop A Nation. This was a lot of fun and I hope it’s not long until they find themselves back in London again.

As we waited for Whitmore to take to the stage, Paul and I spent some time talking to Des and Jarv from [Spunge] who had travelled to South London for the gig. My mind is blown that not only do two members of the band that I have stated many times are my gateway band know who I am, but that they took the time to talk to me and thank me for the work I do with CPRW. It was really overwhelming but much appreciated. They also told me to write that Whitmore are shit….

I couldn’t do that though as Whitmore played a brilliant set. This was a Smoke The Roach set but when they didn’t open with Alison I soon realised that they wouldn’t be playing the album in order. I think this was a great idea as it gives you the surprise factor you don’t get if you play the album from start to finish. Much like Slagerij before them, Whitmore commanded the stage like the seasoned professionals that they are. Led by the one and only Robb Blake, who is still heavily involved in the ska scene putting on great shows at his pub in Salisbury, Whitmore worked the crowd into a frenzy. Even though there can’t have been more than sixty people at the New Cross Inn, each and every person in the crowd showed so much enthusiasm for the band. Everyone danced, sang and remembered what it was like to be twenty years younger during their set. I’ll always prefer to be in a crowd of sixty really enthusiastic people rather than one with four hundred people, most of whom aren’t that bothered. One of my thoughts during the set was how I really didn’t appreciate Whitmore nearly as much as I should have during their heyday. I was expecting to enjoy Whitmore’s set but they exceeded all expectations. I had forgotten how many bangers are on Smoke The Roach. Obviously there’s Alison but songs such as Scones, On The Ceiling, 29 Times, Hydrant and Tell You Twice still sound as good as they did twenty years ago. Hopefully Whitmore don’t leave it too long before playing more shows because they are still so good and I’d certainly love to see them again!

Here on CPRW our main focus is to always champion new and exciting bands but I always think it’s important to spend some time every now and then looking at the bands that came before and show respect. Whitmore came along at a time when I was taking my first footsteps into the world of underground UK punk and it was awesome to see them play such a good show. I’m still waiting for the day when some legend of a promoter gets all the old favourites back together for a nostalgic all-dayer to end all all-dayers. It would be magic.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos also by Colin.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Album Review: Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta… by Snuff (by Chris Bishton)

Snuff are back. Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Così Magnifico! (yes, seriously) is the latest from the UK punk powerhouse and, given all the difficulties that have come with writing, rehearsing and recording over the last couple of years, it comes relatively quickly following 2019's Fat Wreck released There's A Lot Of It About.

If you don't know the band, which I doubt but I guess it's possible, they've been almost constant mainstays in the UK punk scene for over 30 years. There's been inevitable line-up changes, side projects and mini-breaks over that time and the band stripped back to a three-piece to write this new album, but Duncan Redmonds remains perpetual, meaning not only do you know what to expect, you also know you're going to get a banger.

With 10 tracks, it's not the longest and only one of these tracks lasts more than three minutes, but what you get is a snappy 25 minutes or so of that instantly familiar Snuff sound. There's harmonies, singalongs and very distinct vocals galore. The expected horns, trombones and organ are all in there as well. Listen to it from start to finish and I think most will also agree having just 10 tracks is to the record's benefit – there's very little need for any skips here.
The first track is Looks Alright From Here. The opening few seconds start with the guitars, followed by drums and then cymbals before Duncan's frantic and unmistakable vocals kick in. It's the way all good Snuff albums start. Vintage stuff.

Green Grass Chippings is next. I think it had been pre-released as an online single, but I hadn't actually caught it before. It's one of my favourites on the album – absurdly catchy vocals – but not quite as the brilliant One Of Those Days which follows and is the best song on the album. Fish 'N' Chips then reminds me further of their very indisputable sound. You can't hear this and wonder 'who are this band?' and 'where are they from?' – patently Snuff and obviously British.
Snuff being Snuff also can't resist a cover and there's a classic here with their take on Curtis Mayfield's Hard Times. The band themselves refer to their sound as "Motown Punk" and this is as good a cover as they've done. In fact, when you listen to the whole album on repeat you'll hear Motown references and sounds all over the place.

Barba Gelata then starts with the sound of a British ice cream van before a three minute instrumental. It's the only song that feels a bit out of place, but I'm sure that's more me than most.
Lemon Curd gets me back on track before being followed by Stolen From View and Small F; all solid tracks before it finishes with Bing Bing – a Snuff catchphrase and a feel good song, the mid-pace of which winds the album down nicely.
This Snuff release probably won't rank as many people's favourite, but why should it? A band with this much back catalogue can't put out better and better records indefinitely and it's right that everyone should have their own personal best. But, it's fast, harmonic, raucous and distinctly Snuff and I love it for that.

The album is available on the band's own 10 Past 12 Records and Austria's SBÄM Records.

You can stream and download the album on Bandcamp and like Snuff on Facebook.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.