Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Album Review: Coping Mechanism by Filthy Militia

London ska punks Filthy Militia release their second EP, Coping Mechanism, on the 4th of February with the help of Pookout Records. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, the band went into the studio with Oz Craggs at Hidden Track Studios to record five new songs. Because I’m a very special boy, guitarist and lead singer Frosty sent me an early copy. Here are my thoughts.

Coping Mechanism begins with Another Day. The song starts off with a great drum beat before some brass comes in. This gets the EP off to an energetic start. Then the music stops and some upstrokes alongside Frosty’s vocals start – and he’s almost rapping. This is a new thing and I like it. When the chorus comes in I get some strong Call Me Malcolm vibes which isn’t too surprising given that Filthy Militia are fans of the band and Craggs is also their producer. If you enjoy Malcolm then you’ll also enjoy this. The second track is Differences. This song is pure joy contained in four minutes and thirty seven seconds of music and singing. The track is about how everyone is different but that’s what makes each person special and how we should embrace those differences rather than arguing about them. The horns at the beginning put a smile on my face immediately, like I said – they are pure joy. The opening verse keeps things quiet until the chorus comes in and the tempo is raised. The band are definitely embracing the punk part of the ska punk genre more so than they did on their debut EP. It’s also fantastic to hear the band using gang vocals more – they really give the song a fuller sound.

Beatdown sees Filthy Militia slow things down and enter the world of dub. I’ve never heard the band go down this musical path before and it’s nice to see them spreading their musical wings and showing a bit more variety. The track is about coming together and fighting back against the people that try and hold you down. The more restrained nature of the song really drives home the message that the track is spreading. The penultimate song on Coping Mechanism is Land Of The Dead. Picking the tempo back up, Filthy Militia return to their ska punk sound but also add in some gypsy influence. I’ve seen this song live and it certainly has some Gogol Bordello influence to it. It is a very welcome addition to the band’s live set. The final section of the song features a huge chanting section that builds and builds and is a whole lot of fun! The final song on the EP is Don’t You Look Back. The band made and released a lockdown video for the track last year that you should definitely check out. It’s here. This was the perfect choice to bridge the band’s first EP, Innocent Until Proven Filthy, and Coping Mechanism. The track has more of the ska pop sound that can be found on Until Proven but also has the up tempo edge that the band have brought in for this EP. Don’t You Look Back is about chasing your dreams and not worrying about things that have happened previously. A nice positive message to end a nice positive EP.

On Coping Mechanism, Filthy Militia have really stepped things up another level. I really enjoyed Innocent Until Proven Filthy but Coping Mechanism showcases a band who have spent the last few years growing and improving as a band. I expect this EP will earn the band a lot more fans and propel them on to even bigger and better things.

Filthy Militia are hosting an EP launch show at The Black Heart in Camden on Saturday the 12th of February, make sure you get a ticket and pop along.

Check out Coping Mechanism when it is released on 4th of February and, in the meantime, you can find their previous releases on Bandcamp here.

Like Filthy Militia on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Album Review: Twistin' The Knife Away by Heart & Lung

Red Scare Industries continue their trend for only releasing bangers. Towards the end of last year, they released the brand new full length from Cleveland, Ohio’s Heart & Lung. I first heard of Heart & Lung thanks to a lot of listening to bands playing The Fest 2021 in Gainesville. I immediately knew they were a band for me and, knowing their sound, it was no surprise that Red Scare ended up releasing Twistin’ The Knife Away. The album is eleven tracks of superb punk rock and features three different lead singers and plenty of harmonies. What’s not to love!

Twistin’ The Knife Away begins with Watch You Suffer. After a short audio clip, we’re greeted with a high energy introduction. The guitars buzz and the vocals have a hint of urgency that ensures that the album kicks off in the right way. The track is also plenty catchy with a chorus that you will be singing from your first listen and for days to come afterwards. I felt that it was pretty gutsy of the band to take on religion on the first track but seriously enjoyed it. The next track, I’m Fine, has more of a mid-tempo style with Heart & Lung immediately showing off their different vocalists and influences. The switch in style may take the listener a bit by surprise but will also help retain attention throughout the entire album. I’m Fine is about trying to convince people that you’re okay, when in truth you’re just lying to yourself and everyone else. This is something I’m sure we’ve all done and can really relate too. The band return to the poppier side of their sound on Punk Posters. This is another real earworm of a track. The opening harmonies of “putting up all my old punk posters” puts a smile on my face every time hear it. The track is about getting over a break up by going back to the things you found love and comfort in before the relationship. In this case, it’s punk rock music.

Die Alone is a forty-four second song that is simply about dying alone. It’s short, catchy and has a shreddy solo to finish the track. I’m not sure there’s much more to say about it other than I bet it’s great fun to sing live. The fifth song is titled Headache. Headache is another of the slower tracks on Twistin’ The Knife Away and offers a bit of a rest after the high tempo nature of the previous two songs. It’s a masterclass in writing a catchy song but also being extremely melancholic. The song eases in gently and sets out the scene of what life suffering with depression can be like. As the song progresses, the whole band comes in and gives the song a fuller sound. I can imagine this song also being extremely well received in a live setting and it being super cathartic. Up next is Shit Together. Starting out with some dual vocalists trading off lines was something I really liked. I’m assuming that the band are all in their late twenties and/or early thirties as they question where their lives are going and wonder when “they will get their shit together.” Another hugely relatable song that will be super fun to sing along to. The song structure is pretty simple, making it really accessible for the folk listening. I particularly liked the verse where the band essentially lists all the things going wrong in their life – I thought that was some quite creative lyric writing. Never Come Home is a song about dealing with loss and coming to terms with the finality of death. It’s definitely the saddest and most emotional song on the album and displays a different style of songwriting from the band. The “whoa-oh” shouts throughout the track really add some extra atmosphere to Never Come Home and you can hear some heartbreak as they are bellowed out.

Caveman is another short song – this time it’s just thirty-four seconds. Heart & Lung do an impressive job of packing a lot into this high octane pop punk song about starting again and going back to when times seemed simpler. Track nine is named Drunk And Right. On my first listen through of Twistin’ The Knife Away, Drunk And Right was one of the stand out songs for me. In particular, it was the lyric “shit don’t change if you don’t push back” that really caught my ear. Given the amount of gang vocals and harmonies that Heart & Lung use, it makes sense for them to have a song that rallies people to fight back against injustices. The jangly guitar sound that introduces the song and leads into the opening “whoa-oh” is masterful – the song does a magnificent job in subtly building up. It’s one where you get hooked in without even realising that they have caught you. The penultimate song is titled Control. This is a shorter song that feels as if it’s been split into two parts. The first part is just one of the band’s vocalists and a guitar along with a simple drumbeat welcoming you into the song before the whole band gradually comes in and the song explodes into a huge sound. As the whole band does come in, the song also becomes more urgent and it eventually feels like it’s a race to the finish. Last up is Earth, Wind, And Water. What a wonderfully raucous way to finish the album! Once again, the track starts out at a slower tempo but it’s not long before the chaos begins. There’s so much going on throughout the song with tempo and melody shifts, key changes and vocals galore. It’s what I love to see in a punk rock song. It’s nice not knowing what’s going to happen next. I think it’s important for an album to finish with a bang and Heart & Lung certainly accomplished this. Great stuff!

The list of bands that have released amazing records on Red Scare and then gone on to do some amazing things is massive and I can fully see Heart & Lung following on in the footsteps of those bands.

Stream and download Twistin' The Knife Away on Bandcamp here.

Like Heart & Lung on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Column: Punk Festival Preview 2022

Writing this post very much feels like I’m tempting fate. I wrote one of these in 2020 and we all know what happened there. However, I would rather be a naïve optimist rather than a cynical pessimist so I’m ploughing on and writing this anyway. Plus it’s easy content! What you are about to dive into is my festival preview for 2022.

We all love a punk festival. They are a time where fans of punk from all over the world gather in a place to rekindle and make friendships, as well as watching the best bands around. Festivals always feel like a big celebration of what the punk scene is about and, after a very difficult couple of years, I think they are needed more than ever. Here’s a big ol’ preview of some that are happening in the UK and further afield in 2022.

Fishstock 2022 at The Exchange, Bristol (26th March)

Starting with one that isn’t technically a festival, it’s an all dayer but I wanted to include it anyway. Chris Fishlock is a promoter and all around legend based in Bristol. Each year they put on a show for their birthday and, all going to plan, 2022 isn’t going to be any different. We were fortunate enough to attend Fishstock in 2021 and it was one of our favourite days of the year. I really enjoyed the varied and diverse line up and 2022 looks to be just as good. Across the two stages at The Exchange are The Filaments, Grand Collapse, The Menstrual Cramps, 2 Sick Monkeys, Killdren, Darko, 51st State, Triple Sundae, Boom Boom Racoon, Roshambo, Buds., Cosmit, Sniff and Petty Treason. All this for just £12 as well!

Manchester Punk Festival, Manchester (15th to 17th April)

If you’re reading this you probably are well aware of Manchester Punk Festival and what an incredible weekend it is. After having to cancel in 2020 and not being able to put on the 2021 edition, MPF 2022 promises to be bigger and better than ever. Such is the excitement for the festival’s return, tickets for the weekend sold out six months in advance which is absolutely ridiculous. Talking about ridiculous, have you seen the line up?! I’m not listing them all as there’s loads of bands appearing over the three days, across half a dozen venues. If you like any music that falls under the punk umbrella there will be something for you.

Slam Dunk, Hatfield (4th June) / Leeds (5th June)

Slam Dunk pulled off somewhat of a miracle last year by not only managing to get their festival to happen but they were also one of the first events to be able to host international bands. I made a very last minute decision to attend last year and I’m very glad I did. The outdoor festival takes place in Hatfield and Leeds during the first weekend of June. So far they’ve given us two line up announcements and it’s looking massive already. Some stand outs for me are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Interrupters, Pennywise, Hot Water Music, The Vandals, Spanish Love Songs, The Flatliners, Meet Me @ The Altar and Pinkshift. I fully expect the Slam Dunk Team to bring out some more massive names in the coming months.

Bristol Booze Cruise at The Exchange, Bristol (18th to 19th June)

Bristol Booze Cruise is the sister festival of Hamburg Booze Cruise which, in my eyes, is the European equivalent of The Fest. Taking place at The Exchange in Bristol during June, the only news we have about the festival at the time of writing this is the first batch of bands playing. And what a first announcement it was! Some of the international acts included were Tigers Jaw, Dogleg, Dollar Signs, MakeWar, The Penske File, Mikey Erg, Ramona and Moonraker, alongside UK and Ireland acts such as Dream Nails, Fresh, Nervus, Cherym, Hell’s Ditch and Goodbye Blue Monday. It’s going to be a big weekend!

Hamburg Booze Cruise, Hamburg, Germany (24th to 26th June)

We attended Hamburg Booze Cruise for the first time in 2019 and it instantly became a must-attend event on our festival calendar. Stefan and the team put on such a wonderful event that we just fell in love with. Taking place at a handful of venues around the Hamburg docks as well as some sets on a boat, there isn’t any news on the line up as yet but I would imagine that a lot of the North American bands playing in Bristol will also be in Hamburg alongside some of the very best in European punk rock. Given that Brexit has now happened and screwed over UK bands being able to tour Europe and European bands being able to tour the UK, events like this are now your best chance to see your favourite bands from the mainland.

Punk Rock Raduno, Bergamo, Italy (14th to 17th July)

If you're into your three chord pop punk music then there is no better festival than Punk Rock Raduno. The festival brings together the very best acts in Ramonescore from all over the world and puts them on for free in a field in Northern Italy. I've long admired the festival and it's high on my list of festivals I must find time to go to at some point. The organisers have been releasing news on the line up over the last few months and it's already looking amazing. So far The Huntingtons, Giant Eagles, Dan Vapid And The Cheats, Stinking Polecats, Beatnik Termites, Geoff Palmer, Pat Todd And The Rankoutsiders, The Methadones and Baby Shakes have been announced and you should expect to see more of the amazing bands in the genre revealed soon.

Level Up Festival at New Cross Inn, London. (It’s usually in July.)

There’s actually been no news yet about whether or not the best ska punk festival in the world will be returning in 2022. In previous years the weekend-long festival which is put on by Be Sharp Promotions, Fishlock Promotions and El Topo Bookings has been a big highlight of the year. With ska’s popularity on the rise I would imagine that, if the festival does happen, it will be the craziest one yet. In the meantime I’m going to keep pestering Paul for news.

KNRD Fest in the woods near Nuremburg, Germany (22nd to 24th July)

KNRD Fest is an outdoor skate punk festival that takes place in some beautiful woods in Nuremburg, Germany. I’ve not seen any news on the 2022 line up yet, I suspect it will be coming in early 2022 but, looking at past line-ups, I’ve no doubt it will be stacked with the finest DIY bands Europe has to offer.

SBÄM Fest 4, Linz, Austria (30th to 31st July)

SBÄM Fest 4 already looks like it’s going to be huge and they don’t seem to have announced their headliners yet. Amongst the bands already announced are Descendents, Millencolin, The Bouncing Souls, Get Dead, Chaser, Love Equals Death and Roughneck Riot – and, like I said, they’ve not announced their headliners yet! The festival will also feature an art exhibit with SBÄM founder Stefan Beham’s designs of tour posters, album covers and merchandise, as well as international guests and their own work.

Wonk Fest at The Dome, London (30th July)

Wonk Unit’s annual big London party returns in July. Each year the band invite the friends they’ve made through touring to play at The Dome and I’m told every year is a massively wholesome time. No bands have been announced yet but you know the line-up is going to be packed. If all the bands aren’t enough to entice you, there will also be a buffet!

BRAKrock, Duffel, Belgium (5th to 7th August)

BRAKrock returns for its tenth anniversary in 2022. The outdoor Ecofest is now a staple in the European festival circuit and takes place in what looks to be a beautiful location. Promoter Kim has been hard at work booking and rebooking bands for the festival throughout the entire pandemic and, as things stand, the line-up currently features Descendents, Circle Jerks, Sick Of It All, The Bouncing Souls, Mad Caddies, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Get Dead, Authority Zero, Belvedere, The Decline and many, many more.

Punk Rock Holiday in Tolmin, Slovenia (9th to 12th August)

Slovenia’s Punk Rock Holiday is probably the most well-known European punk festival at this point. For years now the festival has been welcoming bands from all over the world to its two stages in what looks like a punk rock paradise. With two stages, one of which is on the beach, the festival hosts some of the biggest bands in the scene alongside some of the best new talent. At the time of writing, the line-up for 2022 has yet to be announced but the organisers are working hard on mirroring the 2020 line-up as best as they can. I’d predict there will be plenty of bands who are also playing BRAKrock and SBÄM on the line-up.

Washed Out Festival, Brighton (2nd to 4th September)

Washed Out Festival in Brighton is a celebration of all things independent and alternative music. Bringing in punk, emo, indie, hardcore and hip hop acts from all over the UK, Washed Out always looks like such a busy time with the amount of amazing established and up and coming acts that they book. This year the Washed Out team have also added Be Sharp Promotions, Upsurge Promotions and New Cross Live to their team to expand the festival even further.

Wotsit Called Fest at The Pig, Hastings (23rd to 25th September)

Wotsit Called Fest is a DIY festival put together by the Toxic Wotsit collective in Hastings on the south coast of England. Like a lot of the festivals in the back end of 2022, not much is known about the line-up but this year’s featured bands like The Filaments, Nosebleed, Knife Club, The Domestics, Killdren, Haest, Rash Decision and Pizzatramp so if that’s anything to go by then you should expect Wotsit Called Fest to be one of the rowdiest festivals of 2022.

Till The Fest in New Cross, South London (14th to 16th October)

Till The Fest was an event that was put on by DIY promoter Till The Wheels last year to celebrate twenty years of putting on gigs. It was a huge success and was my personal highlight of the year. I was over the moon to learn that Ollie would be making it a yearly event. The event had stages at The Amersham Arms, New Cross Inn and Matchstick Piehouse, whilst also running a record fair and a five-a-side football tournament. More news about the festival is due for the new year but early bird tickets are currently available on Dice. Don’t hang about. Ollie has already announced that Inner Terrestrials, Ducking Punches, Misfortune Cookie, Roshambo, Sniff, The Restarts, The Human Project, Other Half, Harker and Early Flights for the festival.

The Fest in Gainesville, Florida (28th to 30th October)

The only North American festival on this list, Gainesville’s The Fest is also probably the biggest. They welcome hundreds of punk bands from every conceivable genre to Gainesville to basically host a worldwide family reunion. In 2022, Fest will host its twentieth edition and I suspect all the stops will be pulled out to ensure it’s the biggest one ever. I’d expect plenty of surprises in the line-up alongside all the familiar faces. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to get out to Florida for Halloween, then I look forward to seeing you there. The first line-up announcement and tickets will go live on the 20th of April.

Book Yer Ane Fest at Rad Apples and Conroy’s Basement, Dundee, Scotland (Usually the end of November)

Make-That-A-Take Records’ yearly punk rock get together Book Yer Ane Fest is one of my very favourite festivals I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. It’s perhaps the smallest in size in this preview but my goodness it’s a hell of a time. The last two additions primarily featured the very best in Scottish punk rock but bands from all over the UK and across the world have been known to make an appearance in the basement. BYAF is a celebration of all of the amazing work that MTAT do throughout the year and they also use their event to help raise much needed funds for local charities. If you’ve not been yet it should be at the top of your list.

Nice As Pie Race in Leeds (Not sure when)

Nice As Pie Race is a festival that takes place in Leeds put on by a collective promoting fun, kindness, pies and punk, what more could you possibly want? What makes the festival different to the others on this list is that all the bands the festival book feature folk who don’t classify themselves as male. There’s been a real push in the UK DIY scene to make gigs and festivals more diverse and operations like Nice As Pie are a wonderful part of this. Check out social media pages for all the upcoming details.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Album Review: Fires Forming by The Jukebox Romantics

New Yorkers The Jukebox Romantics released their long awaited new EP Fires Forming at the end of 2021. This was the band’s first new material since their split with The Sewer Rats which was released in 2018. I didn’t really start listening to them until they did a UK tour with our friends Triple Sundae in 2019, followed by a European tour in which they played Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival. I was lucky enough to catch them at that festival and absolutely loved their set. I also really enjoyed their Alkaline Trio cover set that they played the same evening. It was honest, heart on your sleeve punk rock that was written to be played in sweaty basements. That’s exactly my kind of thing so I was very keen to check out this EP. Christmas very much got in the way so now, at the beginning of January, I’m finally getting some time to check out Fires Forming.

The five track EP begins with Time To Fly. The track wastes no time in getting started, getting the EP off to a blistering start. Time To Fly is a real call to arms of a song. I don’t know if The Jukebox Romantics really stray much into the realm of politics that often but this track is one that really encourages the listener to stand up and rebel against the people who are supposed to be in charge and helping but are instead using opportunities to capitalise for themselves. This is such an uplifting way to start the EP. Up next is Hey Nora. This was the band’s lead single for the EP and they even made a fun music video featuring some wonderful dance moves. One of my first observations about the track was the pounding drum beat that provides such a thick spine for the song. It’s a simple beat but, boy oh boy, does it drive the song on. The song feels deeply personal and I believe that it’s about seeking answers on how to make the world a better place from a departed loved one. The chorus is a wonderfully catchy one that will have a room of people shouting the lyrics right back at the band.

The third track on Fires Forming is titled Dine Fleisch. On Punknews I came across a quote from the band’s Mike Terry stating that the song is about how we as humans have a choice about what we consume and how animals don’t have that choice. The song is written from the viewpoint of animals at a farming factory who are trying to plot their escape. Given the song’s meaning, it’s perhaps no great surprise that this is one of the heavier songs on the EP. I particularly enjoyed the intensity in the vocals, they really made me pay that extra bit of attention. The penultimate song on the EP is named You Spin Me (Right Said Fred). This song sounds like a bit of a nineties throwback compared to anything else on the EP. It shows that The Jukebox Romantics aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. The chorus in particular reminds me of a lot of the melodic skate punk from the 90s and early 2000s era of skate punk. The track has a bit of a chaotic ending with a melody switch and some big harmonies. The final track on the EP is Castaway. On my first listen through of the EP this was the song that stood out the most, with its slow start where the band sing about wanting to get away from their home and finding somewhere better. Soon enough the song kicks in properly and we are treated to a mid tempo basement sing-along. As I listen to the song and read the lyrics, it dawned on me that the idea of leaving a town might be a metaphor and instead the song is about dealing with mental health issues, in particular trying to get through them before it’s too late. This track really has a feeling of a final song, especially with the atmospheric “whoa-ohs” that are included and the long fade out that gives you time to really think about the final lyrics of “get me out of this world before I run out of time.”

Fires Forming is a superb addition to the Jukebox Romantics discography. This really is a solid EP from such a solid band. I only have one gripe with is, I wish they had done an entire album because as soon as it finishes I still want more. Hopefully that’s in the pipeline and they’ll be back in the UK or Europe sooner rather than later. I’m keen for another shout-along.

Stream and download Fires Forming on Bandcamp here.

Like The Jukebox Romantics on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Album Review: The Homeless Gospel Choir / Teenage Halloween Split (by Emma Prew)

If you’re a regular reader of CPRW then you probably know that we love a split release! Often it’s a chance to discover a new artist, alongside one you already know and love. In this case, I am aware of both bands involved in this split but I’d say I’m more familiar with Teenage Halloween than The Homeless Gospel Choir. This gave me the perfect opportunity to check out more of The Homeless Gospel Choir – and the new tracks from Teenage Halloween, of course! The split was released on 1st January on Don Giovanni Records and here’s what I thought of it…

Each band has two songs on the split which, as far as I’m aware, are new tracks for both bands. First up is The Homeless Gospel Choir. THGC are a raucous protest-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA, who have evolved from the solo project of Derek Zanetti to a five-piece band. Track number one, Harrisburg Shoes, wastes no time in getting started with a huge-sounding combination of warm guitar tones to welcome the listener to the split. My immediate impression of the track is that it sounds a lot less ‘folk punk’ than I was expecting but, as much as I do love my folk punk, that’s certainly not a bad thing. The guitars are wonderfully melodic and give the song a positive feeling – something I think we can all appreciate at the start of a new year – although THGS’s lyrics are notoriously not so optimistic. The second track from the band is called Pittsburgh Shoes (I’m not sure why there’s shoe theme) and it opens with the slightly bleak but relatable line of ‘It feels like it’s just you, sitting in your room, and everyday just feels the same, your friends quit calling you.’. The first verse starts slowly with the instruments taking a backseat to Derek’s pessimistic lyricism but things start to amp up as we head further into the song with plenty of distorted and fuzzy guitars soon injecting some energy into the song. The track has got that slightly raw quality to it that I’m familiar with from when I’ve previously listened to THGC. Towards the end there are also kazoos. Yes, you read that correctly. Kazoos! More kazoos in 2022, please!

Teenage Halloween take on the second half of the split. The band, who are a six-piece power-pop/indie punk band from Asbury Park, NJ, released their debut full-length in 2020 and it was on repeat an awful lot for me at the start of 2021 (it took me a few months to actually get around to listening to it – sorry!). The album featured ten passionately poppy and energetic tracks about mental health and queer struggles and the new tracks on this split continue in a similar vein but bring with them a breath of fresh air. Floating is up first and initially opens with the jangling of keys before immediately plunging us into an upbeat and catchy pop punk track. It’s a short and fairly fast-paced song that features a great exchanging of vocals between Luke and Tricia come the chorus. The layered vocals and harmonies is definitely one of my favourite things about Teenage Halloween’s music so it’s great to hear it again here. The last song on the split is called Burn. Tricia takes over on lead vocal duties here for what is probably the stand-out track of the whole EP – which is saying something because everything on this split is great. Much like the previous track, Burn is upbeat and energetic but it also feels kind of erratic, I think mostly due to the jazzy keyboard playing. Either way, I love it. The track also happens to be the perfect fist-in-the-air cathartic protest song. You only have to read the lyrics for the chorus – ‘I don’t want your empty promise, I don’t want your easy fix, I want to burn the city down, And rise from the ashes.’ – to get an idea of what makes this song so great. Alternatively, you could listen to it yourself!

Stream and download The Homeless Gospel Choir / Teenage Halloween on Bandcamp here. You can also pre-order the limited edition yellow vinyl there, which looks very nice (artwork by Maura Weaver, of THGC).

Like The Homeless Gospel Choir on Facebook here and like Teenage Halloween on Facebook here.

The Homeless Gospel Choir are touring the UK in the summer which I’m very much looking forward to. Hopefully I will be able to see Teenage Halloween live as well, somewhere down the line!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Column: Colin talks about 2021 and Previews 2022

Do I usually write a column piece for the beginning of the year? I can’t remember and checking will be about six clicks I can’t be bothered with. If I did, what did I write about? I guess review the previous year and talk about our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the upcoming year. That seems like the appropriate thing for a column like this to cover. Off we go then, let’s try that.

As ever, I don’t want to dwell too much on the negative things that happened in 2021. We all know there were many awful things that happened all over the world and we can all do better to try and improve things for everyone in the future. I feel incredibly lucky to be in a bubble with the DIY punk community who are constantly inspiring me with their efforts in helping to make the world a better place, whether it’s raising money, offering help or educating people in matters of importance. It’s wonderful to see.

For Colin’s Punk Rock World we continued to plod along as best we could. We mostly wrote album reviews but as the winter finished and spring began I lost all motivation to write album reviews anymore. It was partly because I was struggling to find anything I was particularly excited to write about and partly because album reviews were the only thing I was writing and I missed writing about gigs. I made the hard decision to put CPRW on a hiatus until gigs could return properly and I could write about them as well. I’ve always said that the thing I most enjoy about CPRW is writing gig and festival reviews.

You might be wondering what I got up to in the hiatus. We did record some podcasts and had a lot of fun doing them but the thing I spent the majority of my time doing was making my way through a massive playlist of bands that were playing The Fest in Gainesville (a festival we had hoped to go to this year but unfortunately could not) whilst also playing Football Manager. I’ve got back into playing Football Manager in a big way during the duration of this pesky pandemic and I spent the summer taking Braintree Town FC from the National League South to winning the Champions League and it was a wonderful time. If you want, ask me about the big save I’m attempting on Football Manager 2022. I’m sure Emma would rather I talk about it with someone else other than her.

In August of 2021 gigs were allowed to return, for Emma and I this meant a return to our beloved New Cross Inn. Our first gig back was King Punch supported by 3dBs Down and Last Edition. I could not think of a better way for live music to return. Watching three upbeat and fun bands inside my favourite four walls with loads of friends that we hadn’t be able to see for 18 months was a great feeling. We were lucky enough to get to 13 gigs in total and I quickly realised that, as much as I had missed live music, what I had missed the most was spending time with friends and just being in the positive atmosphere that generates when the DIY scene comes together. I’ve often said that we start going to gigs for the music but we continue to go for the people. Till The Fest was a perfect example of this, I missed so many bands I had planned on seeing just because I was having a lovely time catching up with so many great people.

Speaking of gigs, in previous years I have written about my ten favourite sets of the year. I just wanted to list a few of my favourite sets of the year.

3dBS Down at New Cross Inn, London
Call Me Malcolm (Album Launch) at New Cross Inn, London
Popes Of Chillitown at Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield
A at Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield
Out Of Love (First Ever Show) at Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
Slug Puppie at The Exchange, Bristol
Triple Sundae at Amersham Arms, London
Party Boss at Matchstick Piehouse, London
Apologies, I Have None at New Cross Inn, London
Lightyear at New Cross Inn, London
Roshambo at New Cross Inn, London
Andy B and the World, New Cross Inn, London
Triple Sundae at Old Blue Last, London
Burnt Tapes at Old Blue Last, London
Alldeepends at New Cross Inn, London
Faintest Idea at Camden Underworld, London
Plot 32 at Bread Shed, Manchester
Call Me Malcolm at Bread Shed, Manchester
Popes Of Chillitown at Bread Shed, Manchester

As I said, I was lucky enough to get to 13 gigs between August and the end of the year. Sadly that pesky pandemic decided to ruin folks plans again so the gig year didn’t end in a way that anyone had wanted. Hopefully it doesn’t cause too much chaos for promoters and venues in the new year and we can get back to attending gigs as safely as possible early in the new year.

I don’t think we have tickets for too many gigs for 2022 yet, the main one that comes to mind is when Alkaline Trio and Taking Back Sunday come to London in March. But we are also planning on attending Fishstock, Manchester Punk Festival, Slam Dunk, Bristol and Hamburg Booze Cruises, Level Up Festival, Punk Rock Holiday, Till The Fest, The Fest and Book Yer Ane Fest in 2022 – all going to plan. I hope I won’t be tempting fate for the year but I will be writing a preview of the punk festival calendar in 2022 soon. Fingers crossed they can all go ahead.

With gigs starting again that meant CPRW returned and with our come back came soome excellent additions to our team of writers. We were fortunate enough to add four more writers to our team which added some renewed motivation for everyone. It was fun to do CPRW again. The expansion of our team meant we added some more diversity to what we’re reviewing due to our different tastes and I believe that’s added a great new element to CPRW for our beautiful readers. It was also fun seeing everyone’s end of year lists. In total we featured 82 different albums on our lists – really showcasing what a strong year for punk music 2021 turned out to be despite all the hurdles we had to overcome.

I feel like the CPRW Podcast continued to improve. I think that my hosting skills have come on a long way and I’m getting much more comfortable behind the microphone. I’ve enjoyed the group chats among the CPRW gang as well as welcoming special guests (mostly friends I’ve made in the DIY scene) and I’ve even conducted some interviews, something I never expected to be able to do on the podcast. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to watch and listen or even appear on the podcast. It’s been a fun thing which we plan to keep on doing in 2022.

CPRW Records had a quiet year but we did manage to release two compilations and our good friend Wayfairer’s debut full length, if you’ve not checked that our yet then please do so here. I have a Zoom meeting scheduled soon (perhaps it’s already happened when you’re reading this) for our first release of 2022, more will be revealed when we have more details but make sure you follow the CPRW Records Facebook and Bandcamp pages to stay up to date.

We’re looking forward to plenty of our favourite bands releasing new music and discovering lots of new favourite bands in 2022. Obviously, we’ll be covering as many as we can on CPRW. As with all small, DIY punk endeavours we rely heavily on word of mouth to help the blog grow. Social media algorithms are not our friend and all the help we can get to spread our words is more helpful than you can possibly imagine. Every like, share, comment, retweet etc. is really helpful in ensuring that our posts find their way to everyone’s newsfeeds. If you read a review and discover a new favourite band, please tell us in the comments – it makes us very happy. One of my happiest moments last year (aside from Braintree winning the Champions League) was when I learnt that a someone had signed a band I reviewed based partly on a review I wrote. It really helped validate the amount of time I spend doing CPRW.

I think this post is long enough now and I want to make some lunch and get back to my Football Manager save. Thanks as always for checking us out and being really nice to us. Sometimes I get really awkward when people come and say nice things to me in person but I’m going to try and be better at that.

Best wishes to you all and hopefully we can have many fun times with great music and amazing people this year.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 24 December 2021

CPRW Top Ten Albums of 2021: Part 5

Has 2021 been a vintage year for punk rock? Genuinely, I can’t remember a year where there was so much anticipation over new releases; especially concerning debut albums or sophomore releases. Inevitably, some great albums have missed out on my top ten. Established acts such as The Ship Thieves (Irruption) and Rise Against (Nowhere Generation) have produced their finest work for many a year; whilst a couple of great hardcore albums from Fever Strike (Spin) and Dare (Against All Odds) have also missed out but should be investigated as they are phenomenal; as is the Hot Water Music meets Dogleg post hardcore of Stars Hollows (I Want to Live My Life) which narrowly missed my top ten. In light of that, I have to conclude that 2021 has been a brilliant year for new music and hopefully we can go into 2022 with a renewed sense of hope that we’ll soon be able to enjoy these bands and albums in live settings.

On to my top ten albums and top five EPs / singles of the year. Personally I think they are all excellent for a variety of reasons and I’d be really keen to hear what you think of my picks so please hit me up in the comments!


10. Axiom by Harker (Disconnect Disconnect Records, Fixing A Hole Records, Shield Recordings, Wiretap Records)

If debut album No Discordance was a gruff punk banger, its follow up Axiom draws further on the emo / post-hardcore influences that simmered under the surface in its predecessor, melding the sound into something that whilst familiar is also extremely unique and forward thinking. The dynamism and range of the album is astounding, covering straight up hard rock such as ‘The Beast Must Die’, to nice throwbacks to their punk rock roots on ‘Helion’, with ‘Flex Yr Head’ sounding like classic Get Up Kids style emo.

The culmination of this creativity and the album’s crowning glory is its concluding track ‘Antenna’, a six minute epic marathon of post hardcore noise. It’s a gargantuan song that epitomises the shift in Harker’s approach from that of blue collar punks to genuine innovators and ones to watch. Where they go next will be genuinely be exciting!

9. Ultrapop by The Armed ( Sargent House)

With Ultrapop, art-hardcore collective The Armed have created a huge sprawling, bombastic epic of an album that constantly surprises. Take the sheer bonkers-ness of songs such as ‘Masunaga Vapours’, that could prove inaccessible on initial listens yet quickly become addictive earworm on repeated spins; or the big hitters of ‘Bad Selection’ and ‘All Futures’ which are just incredible from the outset. Ultrapop is simply the most apt name for the album given its penchant for OTT melody coupled with Converge-esque metal flourishes. The Armed are one of the most important and creative groups operating in hardcore, demonstrating its artistic merit and value; whilst finding new boundaries to push. It’s a genuine 10/10 album and deserves to be heard by a wider audience than the traditional hardcore devotees and Kurt Ballou aficionados; even if it’s just the once to appreciate its truly bizarre amalgamation of colliding styles and inspirations.

8. Our Hell Is Right Here by Drones (Lockjaw Records)

Whilst hardcore has had a renaissance this year, the same can’t be said for skate punk which seems to have hit a bit of a lull at the moment (CPRW resident skate-punk expert Brett may take exception to this statement); thankfully Brighton’s Drones haven’t got that memo and unleashed an exceptional follow up to their 2018 debut. Our Hell Is Right Here is a pumped up, exhilarating rollercoaster of an album that’s rammed with excellent musicianship, smart lyrics and a vocal performance by Lois that is truly fantastic, adding greater depth and range to a sound that can appear at times very single paced.

In particular, attention should be paid to the stellar ‘Josephine’ (a song about alcohol dependency) that hits all the feels; whilst title track ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ is just a straight up banger, showing they can mix it up. Drones have clearly delivered on their early promise and they are now one of the most essential British bands on the circuit.

7. Life In Your Glass World by Citizen (Run For Cover Records)

On their fourth album, Citizen have really found their stride and voice. Life In Your Glass World feels at times reminiscent of the UK’s Indie Punk movement of the 00s (think Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party at their most punk – Bloc Party’s ‘Helicopter’ in particular feels like a great touch point for many of the songs on the album). As a result, Citizen have created an album that whilst retaining their roots feels fresh and vibrant. 

‘Death Dance Approximately’ is a great opener, one that’s funky, rhythmic and massively danceable; whilst the obvious single ‘I Want To Kill You’ is a monster of a song that characterises Will Yip’s classic style of production (in fact the whole album sounds incredible). Finally, closing trio of ‘Glass World’, ‘Winter Buds’ and ‘Edge Of The World’ is a triumph, demonstrating how to close an album effectively. To date, Citizen haven’t quite reached the heights of their peers or that which their potential would suggest; preferring to tread their own path, however Life In Your Glass World is hopefully the album that will help break them out of their cult status and into a much wider audience.

6. This Place You Know by One Step Closer (For Cover Records)

Sitting in that perfect sweet spot between traditional youthcore, melodic hardcore and emo, the Wilkes-Barre rising stars have stepped up with a rip-roaring introspective, angst ridden debut that will catapult them to the pinnacle of the hardcore scene. Blending a sound that is very reminiscent of both Bane and As Friends Rust (particularly early era AFR such as ‘Encante’ or ‘Ruffian’), it’s massively accessible and melodic whilst at the same time capable of delivering bone crunching riffs and explosive screaming vocals.

Lead single ‘Pringle Street’ is a notable high point, however where the album really stands out is in its sequencing and it has a real ebb and flow to proceedings. It’s also worth discussing the risks that the band take on ‘This Place You Know’; whilst many young bands may be content to hammer out songs of a similar style, save alienating their audience, One Step Closer have taken a mature approach to things to showcase their range and versatility. Both ‘Chrysanthemum’ and ‘Hereafter’ demonstrate they are a cut above many of their peers. Closing track ‘As The City Sleeps’ echos Bane’s ‘Swan Song’ perfectly and is every inch the hardcore epic it set out to be. This Place You Know is quite simply one of the most essential albums of the year. 

5. Fuck Art by The Dirty Nil The Dirty Nil (Dine Alone Records)

Continuing their development from scuzzy basement punks to genuine stadium loving rockers, The Dirty Nil’s third album is an absolute triumph of singalong anthems, upbeat melody and sharp, self-deprecating lyrics that are firmly delivered with a tongue wedged in frontman Luke Bentham’s cheek.

Anyone lucky enough to see the Nil rocking out on stage will know they owe as much to Bowie and Hendrix as they do NOFX and Blink-182 due to their musical talent; however at no point does the album deteriorate into guitar noodling nonsense (although I have no doubt Luke could nail a Satriani style guitar led prog rock masterpiece). Instead, each song is a mini-story (‘Done With Drugs’ about exciting the party scene or ‘Doom Boy’ about dating a metal loving fella). They often come across like a juvenile delinquent Weezer and, let’s face it, that’s something the world needs more of at the moment!

4. How Flowers Grow by Scowl (Flatspot Records)

Clocking in at an impressive 10 songs in 16 minutes, How Flowers Grow is a frantic, angry and essential assault on the senses. Led by the sneering and righteously pissed off Kat Moss, Scowl produce some of scuzziest, nastiest hardcore around. It’s the kind of album you’d imagine festering in a gutter of its own filth… and it’s all the better for it. Equal parts Black Flag meets No Reply meets Striking Distance, it’s a brilliantly aggressive album rammed with social commentary from a feminist slant. With content concerning abuse, struggling to be heard and standing your ground, it’s an album that takes the traditional tropes of hardcore into a personal and reflective space; and lyrically it is probably one of the strongest releases of the year. 

Production wise, despite the gritty aesthetic, it sounds incredible and the vocals really shine. ‘Bloodhound’ promises to be an absolute beast of a song in a live setting (the introduction alone is enough to build anticipation of the chaos that is likely to ensue); whilst the most surprising song on the album ‘Seeds To Sow’ is more Link 80 than the Dead Kennedys and it comes out of nowhere with Kat’s singing voice really shining. This is just enough to tease how vital Scowl could become to the scene in terms of their writing and creativity! All in all an incredible album from a band that might just be your new favourites… catch them in the UK in the new year with hardcore giants Comeback Kid and Brian McTernan’s Be Well, in what promises to be one of the tours of the year.

3. Glow On by Turnstile (Roadrunner Records)

If Time And Space showed hardcore could bridge crossover to the punk and rock audiences, Glow On is Turnstile reaching for the mainstream with a truly incredible pop album. Sure it’s still got the crunching riffs and grooves but it’s brilliantly packaged with a sheen of pop gloss, catchy melodies and more hooks than the crew of a pirate ship. ‘Holiday’, ‘Mystery’ and ‘Blackout’ are the clear standout tracks but the creativeness of ‘Underwater Boi’ and ‘Alien Love Call’ shows the potential the scene has when it looks outside of its rigid confines. 

Given the success of predecessor Time And Space, and the fact that was a slow burn of an album, it’s clear expectation for Turnstile’s follow up to be special was through the roof and clearly they have stepped up to the plate and hit a massive home run. It’s inevitable that this album will be one of the must see tours over coming months and likely still be on active rotation into the festival season where you can expect it will really shine! 

2. I Won’t Care How You Remember Me by Tigers Jaw (Hopeless Records)

Since taking forward the Tigers Jaw name, Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins have taken huge strides; the kind of emo-pop masterpiece that previous album Spin hinted at has been fully realised with IWCHYRM. An album driven by heartbreak and relationship collapse, set to fantastic melody and told through a collection of immense ear worms. Each song has the potential to be a favourite at one time or another; however ‘Commit’ with its 80s Madonna vibe really stands out, showcasing Brianna’s vocal range and allowing Ben’s guitar playing to take centre stage. 

Other stand outs include the opening ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ which really ties all the threads and connections together on the album and closer ‘Anniversary’ which provides a satisfying conclusion and leaves the listener wanting more. As with all Will Yip albums, it sounds amazing and I’d go out on a limb and say it’s the best work he’s done to date. IWCHYRM is a huge album and one that should launch Tigers Jaw to a much larger audience when they can finally get it in front of people, where you can really see these songs resonating.

1. Between The Richness by Fiddlehead (Run For Cover Records)

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a huge fan of the latest creative renaissance hardcore is undergoing… Drug Church, Turnstile, La Dispute, Touché Amore and Citizen have really helped push the envelope whilst staying true to the principles of hardcore and maintaining their integrity. This increased creativity coupled with the experience of notable leading lights of the scene (in this case Have Heart’s Pat Flynn) has created an environment where strong narrative driven, introspective albums can truly flourish. Between The Richness is a monumental, cathartic release of emotion; even more so than its predecessor and songs like ‘Heart To Heart’, ‘Million Times’, ‘Down University’ and ‘The Years’ will enthral and captivate as much as they will excite.

One thing that is abundantly clear with Between The Richness is that, like Springtime and Blind, it’s a mature album that only gives up its secrets on repeated listens. It’s not inaccessible by any means but the depth and detail in each song come to the fore with repeated listens. Much like The Armed’s Ultrapop, it’s the addictiveness of the album that really takes hold and gets under your skin with its personal and reflective lyrics coupled with the desire the album creates in wanting to belt out these same lyrics in a room full of strangers. It’s clearly going to be one of those albums people fall heavily in love with – personally I already have! 

EPs / Singles

5. II by Loud Love

Belgium emo-core / hardcore crossover troupe’s second release is as essential as their first. Brimming with pop and fizz, Loud Love have again produced an collection of classic sounding Silverstein / Grade style emotionally driven hardcore songs. ‘VoxPopuli’, ‘Quichote’ and ‘Last Party’ really stick in the head and, whilst their self-titled debut showcased a full on assault, this follow up is much more layered and confident. Absolutely ones to watch!

4. Tawney by Drug Church

Continuing their evolution into a hardcore Pixies, Drug Church’s 4 track stop gap ahead of next year’s Hygeine is a brilliant representation of their development. Far more nuanced than previous releases, both ‘Bliss Out’ and ‘Tawny’ are exceptional songs. Throw in a brilliant cover of Arcwelders ‘Remember To Forget’ and you can see why they are now one of the most vital bands in rock music!

3. In The Ground by Timeshares

Few bands unite us here at CPRW quite like those lovelies in Timeshares. Their final EP in a series of releases is arguably their best (and considering how great both Out There and On Life Support are, this is some achievement). In The Ground has a really mature heartland rock feel to it. Equally melancholic and anthemic, it’s Timeshares doing what they do best – hitting all the feels!

2. Bear Away / Custody split

Split releases are the best! Whether it’s established acts taking new acts under their wing (such as Hot Water Music showing their chops alongside the established Leatherface) or mutual appreciation between peers (Signals Midwest / Worship This!) so many of my favourite releases are splits. At just one track each you can’t help but feel short changed with this one; however the caveat is that both songs are INCREDIBLE.

Finland’s Custody offer up Running In Circles; it’s an anthemic gruff punk banger with the type of epic guitar driven conclusion you can only dream of; whilst Scarborough’s Bear Away deliver another exceptional slab of heartfelt singalong punk rock that they’ve built a following on. This is everything great about split singles, distilled into two genuinely proper A-side releases; and anyway what’s wrong with leaving people wanting more!

1. Perfect by Mannequin Pussy

If the jump from Romantic to Patience was big; this is a leap of Evil Knievel proportions by the Philadelphia troupe. Opening track ‘Control’ is a gorgeous ballad; as is ‘To Lose You’ which may just be the best song they have written to date – Marisa’s vocals really shine and carry the song which is just a spine-tingling triumph.

Showing they haven’t lost any of their vitriol, ‘Perfect’ is a ranging, angry banger; yet contains far more light and shade than they would have previously displayed through such songs. It’s also great to see Bear taking centre stage on ‘Pigs Is Pigs’ and again this adds further layers to their arsenal. They’ve retained their level of social commentary whilst expanding their sound into something incredibly marketable… Their next full length may just be a boundary pushing, career defining masterpiece.

Final Words

Looking forward then to 2022. A new Drug Church album is already on the horizon, with its lead singles showing even more development in their sound, whilst my heroes Hot Water Music will be dropping their 9th studio album. However on the back of their work over 2021, the must-have release of 2022 is looking like German emo-punks Shoreline’s Growth – every song they have teased us with this year has been incredible and I’d urge everyone to get on board with them now as it has the potential to be a game changer of an album!

Finally, this year I’d like to throw some thanks and shout outs to labels and distros. End Hits Records have again outdone themselves. The quality of the products they produce are outstanding, and they are always creative and sympathetic; especially with the represses and their work with the Shelter albums (When 20 Summers Pass and The Purpose the Passion) in particular stands out. Also huge thanks to Nuclear Family and Land Of Treason for keeping me supplied with good old fashioned hardcore albums; you guys rock! Finally to the team (and wider family) at CPRW towers – it’s been a pleasure talking all things punk rock with you all this year and can’t wait to hear about your new favourites throughout 2022!

It’s been another strange year in the “new normal” – I’ve almost resigned myself to accepting that this is just how shit’s going to go down from now on. Life isn’t going to get any better, only worse. More types of Covid, but no more travel, no more new experiences (except for new Covid). Always showing my vaccination status before necking a pint. Feeling frustrated with people who argue about having to get vaccinated or show said status to neck a pint. 

On a personal level, it’s been a year of ups and downs – this is the year that I kept it punk, got a mortgage and bought a house in my favourite area of Swansea (contrary to popular belief, there are some nice areas here), but it’s also the year that I lost the one person who really understood me and always had my back – my dad passed away. His cat came home to live with me and she’s amazing, but I don’t eat meat, and cat food smells really bad. So yeah, swings and roundabouts.
So, with so much going on, it’s been good to sit down and reflect back on the year when compiling this list. Life is full of ups and downs, but music is a constant I think we can all appreciate, and always helps make things a little easier.

Here are my top ten albums from this year.

10. As The Love Continues by Mogwai (Rock Action Records)

Despite having 9 other studio albums, this is the first of Mogwai’s I’ve ever owned – or listened to. I was way too cool (obviously), and listening to Blink-182 and Less Than Jake in the late 90s/early 00s, to even entertain the idea of listening to Mogwai. Come on, it’s boring stoner music, right? At least that’s what I thought (to be fair, all of the people I knew who listened to them did smoke a lot of pot). I wasn’t about to wear a blim-hole riddled Soulfly shirt and sit under a ramp in the skate park looking in amazement at the size of my hands – I was too busy wearing a knock-off Green Day Dookie hoodie and falling off skateboards when trying to ollie.

Like the rest of their discography, this beautiful album is atmospheric and moving – the musical arrangement of this album is stunning. There aren’t any lyrics until you get to track 4, Ritchie Sacramento, but when they do make an appearance they aren’t intrusive, and don’t take over the track or the flow of the album. They add to the music rather than pushing their way to the front, like tall people at gigs always seem to do. This album doesn’t need any more lyrics, the music speaks enough and provides plenty of emotional charge. This album is a fantastic example of how music tastes change over time, and why we shouldn’t shut out a band just because they weren’t to our tastes when we were younger.

9. Waste My Heart by The Raging Nathans (Brassneck Records, Dead Broke Rekerds, Rad Girlfriend Records)

Raging Nathans haven’t let the quality slip, even after releasing their third full length just last year. Catchy melodies, strong vocals, creative lyrics, solid drumming – the album grips you from the get go with opening track Waste My Heart, reminiscent of the 90s skate-punk sound we all hold so dear. While I Could Never Fall In Love With You leans more on the ‘pop’ side, it still has that incessant skate-punk style of drumming with just enough palm-muting to pass as a 50s-style pop punk song. New Direction is a straight-up punk rock song with a top-tier chorus and first-rate harmonies. Another solid instalment from the mid-west four.

8. Empty Plinths by Grand Collapse (TNSRecords)

Empty Plinths is as unapologetic as it is angry, aggressive, and honest, with a fitting tribute to Icons Of Filth as a hidden bonus at the end of the record. Most of this album was written during 2020, with many of the social tensions experienced during that year being projected through the writing. It leaves you with hardly any time to catch a breath between songs – this itself reflecting many of the themes explored in the album, such as race and class divide, as well as animal and human rights. There is a hint of the melodic guitar from previous albums, though with a more thrashy, metal sound to it, which can clearly be heard on Without Let or Hindrance and Empty Plinths. An unforgiving, merciless album from the lovely lads at Grand Collapse.

7. Radical by Every Time I Die (Epitaph Records)

This is the first time I’ve really listened to ETID. They’re one of those bands that I always heard about, but never got round to listening to. It was actually my boss who kept on at me to listen to them, and when Radical was released, he borrowed me his copy on vinyl. I had an idea of what it would be like… But I wasn’t expecting to like the album as much as I did.

It’s urgent, brutal, and ferocious from the get go. While it absolutely is heavy as fuck, there’s also enough melody throughout the album to keep you engaged, with the album weaving hardcore, metalcore, and punk together into the 16-track long Radical pot. Songs like Thing With Feathers and White Void are prime examples of melody-strong, palate-cleansing songs showing just how good this band are at songwriting. 

I’ve bought my own copy of the record now.

6. Mid-Century Modern by Talk Show Host (Disconnect Disconnect Records, Wiretap Records)

The first full-length from the Toronto pop-punk trio, released in the UK by the very excellent Disconnect Disconnect. The range of the pop-punk sub-genre is pretty wide – I’d definitely stick this in as pop-punk, but it’s a bit different from the others on the list. Excellent songwriting, catchy as fuck melodies, great choruses, gang vocals, layered arrangements. I bought this record before listening to it, because I really liked the album title and artwork. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it turns out that you can definitely do that with albums.

5. On The Brink by Mark Murphy And The Meds (Brassneck Records, Bloated Kat Records, Horn & Hoof Records, All In Vinyl, Cat’s Claw Records)

Riffs aplenty from Mark Murphy And The Meds – fast, fun pop punk riffs with the added extra kick of rock ’n’ roll licks. Think Teen Idols or Green Day, with a bit of The Wildhearts thrown in for good measure. This album is wildly catchy, and you’ll find yourself singing along before the opening track Stuck Inside has finished playing (it’s a potential for my Song Of The Year). I’ve had this album on repeat since it was released. Mark Murphy And The Meds – it’s good for what ails ya.

4. Mikey Erg by Mikey Erg (Brassneck Records, Rad Girlfriend Records)

Starting off with Can’t Be Too Careless, the album keeps pumping out that classic 90s garage pop punk sound, with catchy melodies over distorted guitars. From the more straight up punk rock Spin The Black Circle reminiscent of Graham Coxon’s album The Golden D, to the more pop-punk Hey Marissa and Rumblestrip, this album has a bit of everything over the course of the 10 songs.

For Green Day fans, there’s a nice surprise with a great cover of Going To Pasalacqua, and as the album closes we are treated to Give Up. The heavier guitars, distortion, and noise on the closing track reminds me of the last songs on early Weezer albums (long, drawn-out, noisy outros are my favourite type of outros). A solid album from the pop punk veteran.

3. Alone In A Dome by The Copyrights (Fat Wreck Chords)

Another worldie of an album from the Illinois pop-punk four. Straight in there with crisp, catchy guitars and melodies, and soaring choruses you can’t help but get reeled in by. The album hits the ground running with Part Of The Landscape (as if we expected anything less) and pretty much continues straight through to the finish line hitting first-rate markers including Pretender, No Such Thing As Grownups, and Enemies. The album doesn’t slow down, with banger after banger of fast-paced pop-punk rock. Can this band do any wrong? 

2. Nice One by Catbite (Bad Time Records)

Ever since I started to really get into music I’ve had a soft spot for ska punk, and this album has been a refreshing take on the sub-genre. With more of a focus on two-tone rather than just upstrokes and trumpets over punk riffs, it stands out against the rest in the ska punk game, certainly at the moment. It can be hard sometimes to get ska punk to be taken seriously – it’s not the genre’s fault, trumpets and upstrokes just sound so silly sometimes – but nothing is overdone on this album. There’s a perfect balance of punk, two-tone, and engaging vocals reminiscent of The Selector, early No Doubt, DHC, and other greats of the genre from back in the day. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve listened less and less to ska as I’ve dived more in to punk, emo, and (gasp) indie. But if more ska bands take note from Catbite, I’ll be heading back down the black and white brick road, and won’t cover up my ska tattoo anymore.

1. Emphatically No. by Cheekface (New Professor Music)

Easily my new favourite band. I was convinced that this was Stephen Malkmus in disguise; the new, improved Pavement for the modern age. A fabulous reflection on modern life, easy going but catchy music jangling behind clever, tongue-in-cheek writing that you can easily relate to (“sometimes I wonder if a single good thing exists on Earth … And then I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch”). The nonchalant, sarcastic delivery of the lyrics is what caught my attention when I first heard their 2019 album, Therapy Island, and I’m very happy to confirm that Emphatically No. keeps this up. Everyone should listen to this band.

Honourable mentions (EPs)

Our Boring Lives by Dog Eared

Dog Eared know that you don’t need to fix what isn’t broken – they put the ‘power’ in power-pop, playing fast, fun, pop-punk with influences from the greats like Green Day and Blink-182. Hailing from Dundee, I love that you can hear the Scottish accent busting through the bouncy melodies and harmonies. This catchy as fuck EP will have you singing along in no time.

Sick Day by Rest Easy

This 8-minute punch in the face is the debut EP from the Canadian four-piece. It’s fast, furious, and is packed full of melodic hardcore bangers and high-energy vocals. You don’t have time to come up for air from the second this EP begins, but with just four songs, you won’t be ready to resurface when it’s over.

Believe In Forgets by Homeground

The second EP from the French punk rockers, on KROD Records. More of that lovely melodic beard punk, and a mix of lyrics from positivity in Mountains, to reflections on the pandemic in Circles, and (what I think is) a tongue-in-cheek poke at the French habit of protesting everything, with the very catchy tune Constant Protest (“here we come with this French song, to protest like everyone complains about the weather”). I could be well off the mark there, though. Constant Protest was the first song I heard of theirs, it was on a playlist from KROD Records, and I went to listen to the whole EP straight after. 

Bone Idl by Bone Idl

Technically this was right at the end of last year, so probably wouldn’t have had much of a chance to make it onto last years’ lists, but it was also released on Brassneck Records in September of this year, so I’m counting it. High energy, melodic punk rock from Wales, with something a bit different. It’s beard punk, but not as you know it. Released on Brassneck so you knows it’s a good one innit butt.

The Lockdowns by The Lockdowns

This fun EP instantly screams Screeching Weasel with the opening track Dirty Mouth, whereas
Duck Tape and Super Glue is reminiscent of early Green Day mixed with Teenage Bottlerocket. Skeletons (probably my favourite track on this EP) gives off massive Alkaline Trio vibes, both musically and lyrically (again, with a touch of Teenage Bottlerocket). The EP finishes with a pop-punk belter Monsters.

I hope everyone has had as good a year as they could have, and that we’re all looking forward to Christmas and hopefully a more positive year in 2022.

A massive thank you to everyone who reads this list, and to everyone who reads and contributes album reviews and articles to the blog. I also want to thank Colin and Emma for not only wanting to involve me in CPRW, but also for being fantastic friends, excellent music libraries, and all-round great people. I can’t stress enough what a wonderful community Colin has built up with CPRW.

If you’re interested in the DIY punk scene, whether that’s UK or further afield, check out the rest of CPRW. There’s podcasts, album and gig reviews, articles, and more. Don’t forget to check out the socials – @colinsprw on Instagram, and I’m @lara_robs (beware, I post cat photos too).