Monday, 28 September 2020

Album Review: Grower by Burnt Tapes

It’s no secret what a big fan of Burnt Tapes I am. I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow their career since they released their first demo/EP Wasted History in 2014 and have seen the incredible progression up until last year’s stunning debut album, Never Better. Never a band to stand still for long, Phil, Pan, Tone and Jordan have been back in the studio, The Ranch, with their frequent collaborator Daly George to record a new EP named Grower. Instead of releasing Grower on CD or vinyl, the band decided to do something a little different. Grower has been released with a beech tree. The reason for this was to be more environmentally conscious. Guitarist Phil explained “We wanted to do something a little different, more sustainable and planet-friendly. Something you can plant and nurture, and watch grow. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good band T-shirt! But we need more green spaces in order to tackle the climate emergency, and hopefully, we can raise more awareness about this through this initiative. And most of all provide you with some wholesome family fun”. I’m sure you already know that I loved this EP as I have loved everything the Tapes have released.
Grower begins with Dynasty, Die With Me. Continuing with the sound that the band made their own on Never Better with warm guitar tones an fantastic gruff sounding vocals, Dynasty, Die With Me could have easily found itself at home on the album. As ever Phil and Pan share vocal duties and to open the EP Phil gets his chance to shine. It’s a powerful and emotional vocal from Phil, who’s vocals get better with each and every release. He’s always had a great gruff style but on recent releases he seems to have learnt how to add more melody to his singing. Up next it’s Getitgotitgood. The track begins with a short introduction that builds towards Pan’s vocals. Pan’s vocals give the song such an infectious energy that have you wanting to sing along immediately. The song’s highlight is without a doubt the chorus, which may be one of my favourites the band has written to date. Pan definitely has a fantastic skill for writing some huge hooks. This is one that I’m really looking forward to seeing live when such things are allowed to happen again.

The third song, Greek Wood, was released earlier this year when the band asked friends to film themselves in the bath for a special video. Check it out here and look out for some familiar faces. I loved the opening guitar riff, it’s the sort that lets you know immediately what the next song is. It had me wondering if it was a little nod to their great friends in Triple Sundae who have a similar alarm like riff for their song Fabricated. This is another song that I can’t wait to see live as I can imagine the crowd going absolutely nuts for it. The song is about a sad break up. Phil pours his heart out singing about thinking about an ex and wondering if there are feeling left between them. The final track on Grower is an acoustic version of Yuzi, the lead single from Never Better. This is the first acoustic version the band have ever released and I loved it. This whole summer was about acoustic live streams so it seemed very fitting to include this. I’m very impressed with how Pan managed to retain the energy from the original on this stripped back version. If you don’t know the original then I strongly advise you to go and check it out.

It’s a Burnt Tapes release so it’s obviously brilliant. Go and buy it from Lockjaw Records and, if you have the space to grow a small beech tree, buy one of those as well.

Stream and download Grower on Bandcamp here.

Like Burnt Tapes of Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 25 September 2020

CPRW Playlist: September 2020

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Chris, Dan, Dan#2, Emma, Lee, Marcus, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to in September.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Album Review: Congrats, For Now by Got Trash?

Got Trash? are a four piece band from Denton, Texas. The band, who describe themselves as “whatever The Mountain Goats are, but angstier”, only started in 2019 but have somehow found the time to release a demo and two EPs. The second EP, which I am about to review, is titled Congrats, For Now and was released in August. I was lucky enough to discover it on a Bandcamp Discovery binge and had to share it with all of you.
Congrats, For Now begins with Seven Harder Steps To Realize My Body Is A Sin Puppet. On my first listen I was really impressed with the energy in the song. A big part of this was due to the use of gang vocals throughout the song. The song begins with a building guitar part and rolling drum beat that gets you amped up for the vocals. From then on the band continues to build the song up. There’s an air of intensity as the song progresses that really makes the song captivating. The track’s highlight comes in its ending when the two vocalists perform a call and response section that ensures the song finishes in a big way. The second track is titled Interlude 69 which is a mostly instrumental track. It was an interesting decision to include this style of song on a three track EP and I’m glad they did. I also found it equal parts annoying and hilarious that this was the only song on Congrats, For Now that the band provided lyrics for on Bandcamp. It’s such a mesmerising song that it’s hard not to be swept away with it. The guitars in particular are great, with their jangly, upbeat nature giving a lot of life to the song. Last up is Irish Goodbye At Terminal Velocity. This song showcases the more pop side of Got Trash? as well as showcasing elements of indie, emo and perhaps even jazz. The song is a very sad one about missing a friend who has sadly died and not having had the opportunity to say goodbye. The lyric “if an angel earned its wings then why did I lose a friend?” is completely heartbreaking and shows what strong lyricists Got Trash? are.

This is a great, but far too short, EP from Got Trash?. This is obviously a foursome with a great amount of potential and I’m already yearning for more from the band. Got Trash? are a band you need to check out now.

Stream and download Congrats, For Now on Bandcamp here.

Like Got Trash? on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Album Review: Sad In The City by Broadway Calls

It’s mad that it took Broadway Calls seven years to release the follow up to their brilliant 2013 album Comfort/Distraction. In July this year the three-piece from Oregon finally released a brand new album titled Sad In The City. Released by Red Scare Industries, label boss Toby Jeg has said it’s the best thing they’ve ever put out. That is a big statement when you look back at how many amazing releases Red Scare have put out over the years. Enough waffle, let’s crack on with Sad In The City.

Sad In The City begins with Never Take Us Alive. This was the perfect song to start the album and a great way to reintroduce the band to their fans along with showing exactly what to expect for any new listeners of Broadway Calls. The track begins quite slowly and softly before building up to the main portion of the song. As soon as the chorus hits, the band have you singing along passionately and looking forward to where the album goes. Up next we have You Gotta Know which also starts softly before vocalist Ty Vaughn’s distinctive vocals come in and inject the track will a lot of energy. I’ve always thought that Ty’s vocals are cleaner and poppier than many of the bands contemporaries in their pop punk scene and that’s helped the band stand out massively. The song is about wanting to tell someone special how you feel about them. The third track is the album’s title track, Sad In The City. This song looks at how communities are being torn apart by wars started by rich people. Lyrically the song is superb, there are some great sing-alongs alongside some hard hitting imagery. “There’s a stain on the road shaped like a kid” is just one instance of this.

Always On The Run is about life on tour and the different life experiences that happen along the way. With its simple and catchy chorus, it’s guaranteed to find a home in your head. The song also feels full of joy as Ty recounts moments from tour that he seems to have happy memories of. About halfway through the track there’s a nice call and respond moment that leads to the bridge and builds to one final chorus. It’s great stuff. The fifth song is titled There’s A Glow. Broadway Calls play around with their sound slightly on the track with the verses venturing into garage rock territory. Of course, when the chorus hits we get that big Broadway Calls anthemic style that we all know and love. It’s nice to hear a band playing around with their style but also not forgetting what people love about them in the first place. Take Me Down has quite a startling start. It opens with a brief moment of acoustic guitar before we get a fantastically brash chorus to really get us started. At the halfway point of Sad In The City this was great track ordering as it gives the album another shot of energy. The chorus is another huge ear worm that will encourage huge amounts of audience participation in the future. Radiophobia was one of the singles released to promote Sad In The City and shows a darker and heavier side of the band. For the first time on the release Ty plays around with his peddle board to create some fantastic effects that really set the tone for the entire song. The track is a personal one to Ty as it is about growing up near a radiation cooling tower and knowing from the age of seven what it would mean to his friends and family in the town if the nuclear reactor were to have a meltdown. Just reading about it is terrifying so to have experienced it firsthand must have been horrible.

Slick New Truth sees Broadway Calls revert back to the tried and trusted and is one of my favourites on Sad In The City. This is infectious pop punk at its finest. The track reminds me of Be All That You Can Be from Good Views Bad News as it feels like Broadway Calls are really trying to spread their political message. In the case of Slick New Shoes, it’s about how the news has been streamlined down and you’re not always given the whole story. This is a bad thing. This song feels more relevant than ever given how we consume our news stories these days. The ninth song, Meet Me On The Moon, is a song about getting away from all the troubles on earth with that special someone. The song is a lot of fun but also shows a serious side when you think about how bad the world must currently be if you want to escape all the way to the moon. I can see this song being a big favourite with Broadway Calls fans. The penultimate song is Big Mouth. This is more of a mid-tempo track that makes me think of a cross between Social Distortion and The Ergs, that will enable massive barroom singalongs when such things are able to happen again. The line “I’ve got a big mouth and it gets me into trouble” is perhaps the most contagious on the entire album which is really saying something. I can really see this song being a set closer for the band and what a joyous occasion it will be. Sad In The City is completed by Went Dyin’. This is such a change of direction after Big Mouth. It’s a sadder song with much heavier tones than anything else on the album. The song looks at self-destructive tendencies in people and why they occur. Of course the song has a massive chorus and will be extremely cathartic for anyone listening. A sadder song seems completely appropriate for finishing Sad In The City.

Sad In The City has received nothing but positive reviews and rightly so. From beginning to end it’s packed with fantastic pop punk. I’m not sure why it was such a long gap between albums but it’s certainly been worth the wait. For me this is easily the band’s best work so far. It’s the biggest shame that the band’s UK tour with The Flatliners was cancelled earlier this year, I was looking forward to seeing them at both Manchester Punk Festival and the New Cross Inn and I’m anxiously awaiting future dates. In the meantime I’ll be listening to Sad In The City a lot.

Stream and download Sad In The City on Bandcamp here.

Like Broadway Calls on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Album Review: Sweet Dog Violet by Sweet Dog Violet

Sweet Dog Violet are an emo-shoegaze band from Berlin, Germany. In March they released their self-titled debut EP. Despite not being my usual go to sound, there was something about this EP that really caught my attention so I wanted to share it with you. 

The three track EP beings with Permanent Scar. I enjoyed how the song wasted absolutely no time in getting started. After just a few guitar strums, a short riff and a blast of drums we get to the vocals. I was quickly enamoured with these vocals. Completely captivating. Permanent Scar is about the ending of a relationship and the damage it has done. Sweet Dog Violet’s vocalist does an amazing job of building up the emotion during the song. You can really feel their pain by the time you reach the song’s conclusion. The second track on the EP is Bloom. From my first listen of the song I was reminded of Australian punk act Camp Cope. It’s a mid-tempo song with a simple melody and beat, plus some more extremely emotive vocals. The song is a more positive and uplifting one about how a friendship can grow and how you can always count on your pals to look after you when things aren’t going how you want them to. The third and final song on the EP is Pluto. So far on the EP we’ve had a sad song and a positive one, the third and final one shows an angrier side of Sweet Dog Violet. The track begins in a similar vein to the rest of the EP but when we hit the chorus the vocals become more primal and raw and really make you stand to attention. Pluto tackles the subject of anxiety and being in the mindset of things not going the way that you want them to.

This is a seriously impressive debut from Sweet Dog Violet. 2020 has been such a hard year to be in a band at any stage of their careers but I feel like for a new one like Sweet Dog Violet it’s been particularly hard, as they haven’t been able to get out and play any shows to help spread their message. I implore you to take fifteen minutes to listen to this EP, you won’t be disappointed.

Stream and download Sweet Dog Violet on Bandcamp here.

Like Sweet Dog Violet on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Album Review: The Bin Collection by Mitch, Please (by Emma Prew)

Mitch, Please are a four piece pop punk band from Brisbane, Australia, who released their debut EP titled The Bin Collection earlier this month. With cats on the EP’s artwork and a band name as good as theirs, I was already a fan of Mitch, Please before I hit play… Thankfully, I still liked them after listening as well!

The Bin Collection opens with Temporary Punks and the line ‘Oh hey there punk’ (seemingly) welcomes us into the EP. Mitch, Please proceed to sing about how some, typically ‘old school’, punks can judge others in the scene to not be punk enough because they don’t dress or act a certain way or, in this case, deem them to be merely temporary punks. Of course, this is stupid and punk is so much more than the cliché image of old. Temporary Punks is a mid-tempo pop punk tune with some super catchy harmonies of ‘Temporary, I’m so temporary’ in the chorus that I can instantly imagine singing along to in a live music setting. Rubbish is up next and the pace and overall heaviness is immediately ramped up with an almost metal-like opening guitar riff. When the vocals come in, they are a lot more aggressive and hardcore in style than I was expecting from the previous track. This increased anger certainly makes sense with the lyrics of the song however – ‘I have never needed your approval, You think you validate me? So you’re the ones to cut me out now, Good fucking riddance, You’re fucking rubbish.’ Rubbish is about feeling better off without someone in your life and realising that you don’t need their praise or acceptance because, quite frankly, they are a rubbish person. Cola Drunk Polly is a 12 second interlude of sorts that features a heavy repetitive guitar riff, pounding drums and three words – ‘Cola drunk Polly.’

The fourth song, Neighbourhood Cat, has got to my favourite song on The Bin Collection. A fast paced tune that sits somewhere between the poppier pop punk of Temporary Punks and the more hardcore style of Rubbish, this song is about when you keep seeing the same cat everyday on your street but the cat hasn’t, as yet, decided that it wants to be your friend despite how much you want to win it over. I’ll be honest, I can relate to this song a lot. The intense repetition of ‘Why won’t you rub your face on me?’ is both infectiously catchy and amusing, although then it got me thinking that if you didn’t know this song was about a cat these are quite worrying lyrics. Perhaps that’s the point. If the cat wants to be your friend, it will be. The penultimate song is Polygon Pit and this is perhaps the song that is most reflective of the ‘nerd punk’ label that the band have given themselves. Polygon Pit is about a variety of different shaped mosh pits – but not a circle pit, because where’s the fun in that? As you might imagine for a song about mosh pits, this song is on the more aggressive end of the Mitch, Please musical scale. I particularly enjoyed the friendly voice that introduces the song, after the opening verse, with ‘This is a polygon pit and I am your professor of aggressive geometry’ which is quite a contrast to the song itself. It’s all a lot of fun, that’s for sure. What We Do closes the EP by slowing things down a notch. It definitely pulls back on the aggression that’s been on display in the last couple of tracks as Mitch, Please deliver a more straightforward mid-tempo pop punk song. The chorus is a bit of a tongue twister – ‘When you watch me watch you, Say what you do, say what you do, When you watch me watch you, Do what you do, say what you do’ – but the addition of some whoa-ohs in the background make it enticing to join in one way or another. Whereas Rubbish was about excluding someone from your life, What We Do seems to be about accepting someone’s apology and giving them a second chance. It’s certainly nice to finish the EP on a positive note.

The Bin Collection is an excellent debut EP and I would highly recommend checking it out if you like your punk music to be fun and/or not really too serious. I can’t wait to see what Mitch, Please do next.

You can stream and download The Bin Collection on Bandcamp and like Mitch, Please on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Album Review: Split by Two Houses and New Junk City (by Emma Prew)

You probably know that we love a split release here at CPRW. It’s often a great opportunity to check out one new band while also supporting one you already know and sometimes they cover each other’s songs too which is always pretty cool to hear. That’s exactly the case with this four track split on Rad Girlfriend Records featuring Two Houses – a band that’s new to me – and New Junk City – a band I know and love. They each have one, I assume, brand new song as well as a cover of one of the other band’s tracks.

Two Houses take the first half of the split. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the band, they describe themselves as a reliable rock ’n’ roll band and are a trio from Chicago. Southbound And Down opens with a jangly guitar riff before the volume and distortion levels are ramped up when the vocals come in. There’s a rawness to the song and the vocals that reminds me of Tim Barry of Avail. It’s a fairly fast paced and short song, at only just over 2 minutes in length, but Two Houses still manage to fit in a guitar solo in the middle of the track. Up next is Snot A Problem which is a cover of the opening song on New Junk City’s 2014 self-titled album. The original is fast paced and quite an angry sounding song – which is understandable given the lyrics (‘You come in the door at 3am, You’re drunk as fuck and screaming at me again.’). Two Houses slow their version down somewhat and, rather than obvious anger, they simply seem resentful and bitter. It’s dark and almost grungey sounding and the band also add some fine harmonised vocals that drive the story of the song home all the more.

New Junk City are a four-piece punk rock band from Atlanta. I had the pleasure of seeing them live at Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival last summer and their set was one of my highlights of the whole weekend. Sticky is the name of their original song on the split and it wastes no time in getting going. Upbeat from the outset, the track immediately gets my head nodding. There’s a catchy riff threaded throughout the song but it’s the vocals and lyrics that really stand out to me. I’ve always thought vocalist John has an incredibly distinct voice, it’s got a sort of Americana or Bluesy twang it that works so well with the band’s fast paced and melodic punk rock – I love it. The Two Houses’ song that New Junk City cover is The Fear from their 2016 album I Feel So Good I Can’t Stand Myself. Having not listened to Two Houses prior to this split, I did quickly check out the original so that I could properly compare the two. The obvious immediate difference between the two is that New Junk City have included an audio clip at the beginning of their version but, after that, it is perhaps slightly more upbeat than the original with some slightly fuzzy guitars bringing a warmth to the track. It’s a super catchy tune and the layered vocals towards the end – which are more distinct than on the original – are brilliant. This is probably my favourite of the four songs.

I perhaps wouldn’t have thought to check out a slightly grungey rock ’n’ roll band such as Two Houses before but I’m glad that I have now thanks to this split. Both Two Houses and New Junk City have contributed great stuff here and I would recommend checking out both of their back catalogues out – starting with this split.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp.

Like Two Houses on Facebook here and like New Junk City on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.