Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Album Review: Cracked Beyond Repair by Nelson Savage

Despite still being a relatively new band, Edinburgh’s Nelson Savage have been super prolific since forming in 2018 – they’ve already released four EPs. Their latest, and the subject of this review, was released in January on Anti-Manifesto Records. Titled Cracked Beyond Repair, it features five brand new tracks of emotional pop punk.

The opening song is named Bricks. The track starts with a fantastic guitar solo that quickly pulls you in. Soon enough the vocals come in and we are greeted with a subtle yet mesmerizing style that does a magnificent job of telling the story of the song. Bricks has plenty of hooks that will enable you to pick up the song quickly and the use of harmonies throughout the song add some brilliant additional layers to the track. Next is Glasgow Coma Scale. The song sees Nelson Savage up the tempo of the EP and also feels as if the song was written to be a cathartic sing-along. It certainly feels like that. The track is about feeling as if you’re sleepwalking through your life and looking for people who are feeling the same. I really enjoyed the moment where the track got slightly quieter with the lines “while I’m sedate, can you relate...” before it builds to a bigger finale.

The third song is Choke. Choke starts out with a jangly guitar riff before the vocals come in. The track sees Nelson Savage venture into the political waters (potentially for the first time as Nelson Savage). Choke is about being outraged by the political and social unrest that is ongoing all over the world, wanting to speak out but not feeling able to. I’m sure that’s something a lot of us can relate to. The penultimate song is titled Auctioneering. This track is about trying to sell yourself to the world and showcasing every side of the person you are. Vocally it sounds slightly angrier than the previous songs; you can definitely hear some spite at times. This adds an extra emotional element to the entire EP that I really liked. The big sing-along of “if you’re not buying what I’m selling” was a great touch that I look forward to witnessing live at some point. The final song on Cracked Beyond Repair is Kings Of The Inbetween. Whenever a song begins with a cymbal crash you expect it to be high in energy and, in its own way, Kings Of The Inbetween delivers that. The track looks at life in your thirties and all the questions that surround your life at the time. Remembering that the cookie cutter life isn’t for everyone and people are successful in different ways. I found this song extremely cathartic as I often question where I am in my life before realising that it doesn’t matter, as I’m happy.

Nelson Savage are one of the hottest new(ish) bands in Scotland. There’s always a slight worry that when a band releases so much music so consistently, will it always be good or will it be a bit throwaway? I’m very happy to report that Nelson Savage seem to get better and better with every release. If you’re not listening to these guys yet, change that.

Stream and download Cracked Beyond Repair on Bandcamp here.

Like Nelson Savage on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Album Review: Cobwebs by Burning Nickels

If you’ve been following our CPRW Records releases closely you hopefully should have already heard of Burning Nickels. Burning Nickels are a three piece band from Alberta, Canada, who play melodic pop punk. Since 2018 the band have been consistently releasing new songs on High End Denim records. On March the 2nd they release their newest EP Cobwebs. We were lucky enough to get an early listen.

The four track EP opens with the title track, Cobwebs. Burning Nickels were kind enough to send us a super early version of the track to use on our Hidden Gems 2 compilation that we released in January. This is a updated version of the track. It’s a upbeat piece of melodic pop punk in a similar vein to bands such as No Use For A Name and Bracket. On my first listen of the track what really stands out is the flow of vocals during the verse alongside a truly impressive guitar part. The track is about feeling depressed but gradually realising things can get better. The second track is Sentiment which is a Trashed Ambulance cover. Musically the song sounds smoother than the original but Alex Goldfarb of Debt Neglector’s guest vocals add the gruffness you hear in Trashed Ambulance’s version. The song is about dealing with mental health issues and questioning why you are going through these struggles. I really like the imagery that the audio clip at the end of the song presents. Have a listen to find out why I think it’s so smart.

The UK’s Sam Russo makes a guest appearance on the third song, Bootstraps. This song is perhaps the most varied song on the EP so far. The track combines the poppiest of pop punk alongside some heavier skate punk moments as well as Russo breaking your heart as only he can. Bootstraps is about the ending of a relationship and coming to terms with everything that’s happened along with worrying how much more anguish you can take emotionally. The final track on the EP is titled Summer Boner. This song is a retrospective song that also has a bit of a silly side. It’s about looking back on a past summer romance and realising that you had stronger feelings than your first thought. This is one of those great songs that’s fantastic at painting an image with its lyrics. It really allows the listener to visualise the story of the song in their heads. Imagery is such a important part of songwriting and Burning Nickels do such a good job here. There are also some very juvenile lyrics that did make me smile, as I am still a child at heart.

Burning Nickels are one of the most fun bands I’ve discovered over the past year but they are also very capable of writing some serious songs that listeners will really relate to and hopefully get a feeling of catharsis from. It’s clear that the band aren’t the type to sit for too long and I’m already looking forward to what they do next.

Pre-order Cobwebs on Bandcamp here.

Like Burning Nickels on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 February 2021

CPRW Playlist: February 2021

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

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Album Review: Force Feeding Unhealthy Cereal Knowledge by The Cereal Killers

The Cereal Killers are a new pop punk band out of New Jersey. I was lucky enough to discover them thanks to the Punk Rock Radar Instagram account – if you’re passionate about finding great new punk bands then I seriously suggest following them. In January, the four piece band released their debut EP titled Force Feeding Unhealthy Cereal Knowledge. From that title and looking at the artwork for the EP, which features the four members of the band dressed as a Dracula, a rabbit, a tiger and a frog forcing cereal upon a tied up child, it’s obvious they are a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Another clue on that is that they’re called The Cereal Killers. The EP features six songs that put a big smile on my face.

The EP begins with Magically Delicious. The track starts out with an audio clip of a bowl of cereal being made before it jumps into a drum roll and some guitars. Soon enough the vocals come in and we’re treated to a melodic pop punk song about the band’s love of Lucky Charms cereal despite knowing how bad they can be for you. It’s a mid-tempo song with a catchy melody that will certainly get you tapping your toes. Next is Hey Mikey Likes It which sees The Cereal Killers play a ska style. I was not expecting this but I really enjoyed it. This sound doesn’t hang around for long as the band soon hit the chorus where they revert back to a pop punk sound. The song is about a cereal named Life (something we don’t have in the UK) and the bands love for its simplicity. During the pop choruses I’m really reminded of the song Life, Hey Mikey by the McRackins. Batman Bank starts out with a much higher tempo than the previous two tracks giving the EP an injection of energy. On this track, the band talk about classic Batman cereal and bemoan the fact that they kept making Batman sequels but stopped making the cereal. It’s hilarious how passionate the band are on this subject.

The second half of the EP begins with Perfect Saturday. The track has a quiet and slow build that eases you into the song. As it progresses, the track does get more expansive without really hitting any massive highs. The song’s lyrics are the real highlight. They paint a perfect picture of a dream Saturday, eating cereal, watching cartoons and playing Nintendo. Sounds like a top quality day to me! The penultimate song is titled Silly Rabbit. My immediate thought on the song was that it has a darker tone than anything previously on the EP. The track has a couple of really interesting and catchy guitar riffs that really stand out, giving the song a really serious feel. Obviously, it’s not serious at all, it’s about cereal. Last up is Young Frankenberry. Things get heavy here – heavy for The Cereal Killers anyway. Sonically there is a hardcore vibe but the song manages to keep a great melody throughout. I’m probably going to get slated for this but it actually reminds me slightly of very early AFI and I love it. We don’t have Frankenberry cereal in the UK but after a little research I discovered that it is only sold in America around Halloween and the song is about how the cereal mixes four different flavours together to create something else. Frankenberry – Frankenstein, I get it!

Obviously this is an EP to take deadly seriously and to live your life by all the messages that spill out of it. Force Feeding Unhealthy Cereal Knowledge really made me jealous of all the different types of cereal that they have in America. We’re missing out on a lot of sugary goodness over here in the UK!

Stream and download Force Feeding Unhealthy Cereal Knowledge on Bandcamp here.

Like The Cereal Killers on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Album Review: South Loop Summer by Hospital Bracelet (by Emma Prew)

I’ve recently been listening to Beach Bunny’s latest EP, Blame Game, a lot (I recently reviewed it as well if you want to check that out) and it was through Beach Bunny that stumbled across fellow Chicago-based band Hospital Bracelet. Hospital Bracelet are a three-piece emo band consisting of Eric Christopher on lead vocals and guitar, Arya Woody on bass and Manae Hammond on drums and I was blown away by their latest release. South Loop Summer is the band’s debut album and it was released by Counter Intuitive Records on 17th January. Here’s what I have to say about it…

The first of seven tracks on the album is its title track, South Loop Summer. Opening with a melodic and slightly fuzzy guitar riff, this first song serves not only as a great introduction to the record but also an introduction to Hospital Bracelet’s own brand of emotional pop punk. The track is about feeling stuck in your life, missing your friends who are miles away and simply wanting to be anywhere else but where you are right now – ‘Why are all my friends in Ohio? I’m 6 hours away from everywhere, I wish I could be, I can’t keep telling myself to be a better version of me’. There’s a bitterness in Eric’s vocals that really shows the frustration with their situation. Sober Haha Jk Unless is up next and here Hospital Bracelet take their emotion on display to another level. It’s a quieter sounding song and there is a real sense of fragility in Eric’s vocals that manages to be both soft and powerful at the same time as they sing about battling with sobriety. The songwriting and delivery of the vocals do an incredible job of making you realise just how difficult giving up alcohol (and other substances) can be.

Kicking things off with a bold, reverberating emo-style guitar riff before the pounding drums and deep bass line come in as well, Happy Birthday is a faster paced ear worm of a tune that has a great sense of building throughout its verses. It kind of reminds me of Camp Cope – which is no bad thing. The chorus of ‘Happy birthday to you’ is far from the cheery tone that you might typically associate with that phrase, as the song is about wanting to forget someone whom you don’t hold fond memories of in your mind. If big fuzzy, almost grungey guitars are your thing then you may well like the breakdown section of this track. The repetitive but super compelling emo-style riffage continues into the fourth track, Feral Rat Anthem. Like Sober Haha Jk Unless, this is a slower paced tune but it packs no less punch than some of the louder songs on the album. Eric grows angrier and angrier throughout the track’s four minute duration while singing about a particularly despicable and toxic human being. The culmination of all that pent-up anger results in a stunning bridge section that sees out the song – ‘None of this is fucking tight, None of this has ever been right, ’Cause everyone knows you’re a lying cheat, And I hope you’re always feeling incomplete, And you can go rot in hell, And I really hope you learn and never forgive yourself, Because everyone knows you’re a lying cheat, And I hope you’re always, always feeling, always feeling, always feeling, from everyone you hurt, I hope you’re always feeling incomplete’.

I may have mentioned already that this is an emotional album but with Sheetz vs Wawa Eric truly lays bare some of their most intimate and troubling thoughts and feelings – ‘I'm tryna figure out where I went wrong, Have you been this person all along? The couch wasn't good enough for you, Climbed into my bed when I begged you not to’. The song is about dealing with being at your absolute lowest low and struggling to define what it is that is expected of you. It’s difficult to know what more to say about such a deeply personal song so I’ll just suggest that you listen to it (and the whole album) yourself instead. The penultimate song on South Loop Summer sees the volume and pace cranked up for a relentlessly catchy, relatively short Dungeons & Dragons themed track. With Sour OG RPG, Hospital Bracelet cleverly have a song that is seemingly about being an unsuccessful character in everyone’s favourite role playing fantasy game but could quite easily translate to real life relationship problems. Musically, I’m reminded of Paramore but you wouldn’t ever find Hayley Williams singing ‘I’m a small rogue with no self-control, Chaotic neutral who, Can’t find a home, And you’ve got the people lining up at your door, You’re a bard with a guitar with a voice for the scoreboards’. I love this song so much and, damn, I miss playing Dungeons & Dragons. Bringing the album to a close is Summer Friends. I always think it’s fairly important for a closing track on an album or EP to sound like the last song and that’s certainly what we have here. Summer Friends feels like a combination of all that came before it – and then some. It’s emotional, of course, but it also feels more hopeful and resilient than some of the preceding tracks on the album. Lines such as ‘And I will keep on playing shows, And writing music no one knows, Because it’s worth a shot.’ make me want to throw my fist in the air in unity and agreement. The song, and indeed the album, feels like end of a certain chapter in Eric’s life before they move on to bigger and better things.

Is this my favourite album I’ve heard so far this year? Yes, I think it is. It’s been a little while since I’ve been this excited about a new band and/or new album – I literally discovered this band two days prior to me writing this review – and I want everyone I know to check this out. Please.

You can stream and download South Loop Summer on Bandcamp and like Hospital Bracelet on Facebook (although it looks as if the band is more active on Twitter and Instagram so maybe find them there instead?).

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Album Review: Blame Game by Beach Bunny (by Emma Prew)

Beach Bunny are an emotional indie rock meets power pop band from Chicago, Illinois, who, until coming to write this review, I didn’t realise were quite as ‘big’ as they are – they have their own Wikipedia page and over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify! The band started out as the bedroom-based solo project of Lili Trifilio in 2015 and, after releasing a number of solo EPs, the band expanded to a four-piece. In February 2020 – on Valentine’s Day no less – the band released their debut album on Mom + Pop Music, Honeymoon, which was highly rated not just in indie rock circles. It was not long after this that I discovered the band and Honeymoon was on regular rotation for me throughout the Spring last year.

At the beginning of this year, 15th January to be precise, the band released a new four-track EP titled Blame Game. I must have missed the initial release of the EP as it’s now early February (at the time of writing this) and I’ve only just checked it out thanks to one of the songs popping up on my Spotify Release Radar but I am absolutely loving these four new songs.

First up on Blame Game is Good Girls (Don’t Get Used). Lili’s vocals take centre stage right away with the rhyme of ‘Say you miss me, Say you wanna kiss me’ immediately grabbing the listener’s attention. It’s a catchy tune from the outset and is oozing in feel-good vibes as Lili sings of being fed up of being messed around by a guy and saying that enough is enough. Rather than being a woe-is-me tale of heartbreak – something that I feel a lot of the tracks on Honeymoon could be described as – this is an empowering anthem that declares ‘I don’t need people like you in my life and I’m going to be just fine without you’. Love Sick is the name of the second track on Blame Game and it opens with a brilliantly infectious indie-style guitar riff that instantly has me grooving in my seat. You might think from the title of the song that Love Sick is about pining over someone but it’s actually more about being sick of love and the pressures to be ‘in love’ for a young twenty something year old woman – ‘Sick of love, I’m tired of the bullshit, Fed up with subtracting names, Need someone that isn’t an equation, Only adding up to pain.’

There’s a feeling of bitterness seething underneath the opening lines of third track, Nice Guys. After starting out fairly slowly and stripped back for the first few lines of the song, it’s not long before some crunchy guitars and pounding drums come in and build up to a hard-hitting chorus. Lili displays some of her finest lyrical work thus far with ‘I’m sick of nice guys, I want someone who actually wears hearts inside their eyes, And isn’t only interеsted in what's between my thighs, You win me likе a trophy, not a consolation prize.’ The track is a fuck you to so-called ‘nice guys’ who are far from as genuine as they seem. Bringing the EP to a close is its powerful title track, Blame Game. Musically it’s a fairly slow-paced and pleasantly melodic tune but it was the lyrics of the track that really made me stop what I was doing and pay attention when I first heard this song. Blame Game is about how people often try to justify sexual assault by saying things like ‘they were asking for it’ because of how they were dressed. The ‘blame’ is shifted to the person who has been assaulted rather than the actual abuser – ‘Guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at, Sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing, Yeah, it’s my problem, I’m asking for it, Guess you’re the victim and I’m the suspect’. It’s crazy that in 2021 this is still a problem and songs like this are needed. As Lili says, we should ‘Teach them why they shouldn’t do this, Instead of telling us [women] to hide.’

Although I enjoyed Honeymoon a lot at the time, this feels like a leap forward in terms of Lili Trifilio’s songwriting, as well as the subject matter she’s writing about. The songs feel more mature and, I guess being a good few years older than her myself, I feel like I can relate to these songs more so than the band’s previous material. With Blame Game, I feel like Beach Bunny have gone from adolescent heartache and superficial insecurities to really taking charge of their identity. These songs are passionately defiant and are the perfect combination of catchy indie punk melodies and lyrics with plenty of bite. If this EP is anything to go by, the next full-length Beach Bunny record is really going to pack a punch and I cannot wait to hear it.

You can stream and download Blame Game on Bandcamp and like Beach Bunny on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Album Review: Bone IDL by Bone IDL

On a recent hunt around Bandcamp, I discovered this great band from South Wales named Bone IDL. I was immediately impressed with what I heard from the band and was gutted when I discovered I’d found them too late to see if they wanted to be on CPRW Records’ Hidden Gems 2 compilation. Not to worry as I have a blog, you’re reading it now, where I can showcase great underground bands. In December Bone IDL released their debut self-titled EP and here’s my review of it.

The first of the five tracks on the EP is named Kaleidoscope. As you would expect from all great pop punk EPs, it begins with a flourish. The opening guitar acts as a siren, the drums and bass build up towards the vocals which hit you like a brick when they come in. They are absolutely ferocious and I was not expecting it. I love them though. This is the type of aggression in music that I really enjoy. The song is about the break-up of a relationship and how usually it’s not just one person’s fault. Next is The Local (Anaesthetic). This is a song about using alcohol to try and solve your problems and the effect that has on you. Vocally the song is more melodic, though there are times where that angry monster does come out. Perhaps that’s a metaphor for what the alcohol is doing? The song is less urgent than the previous track, this really allows for the storytelling element of the lyrics to really shine through.

Synonymous is the title of the third track. This song shows off both sides of Bone IDL. The first half of the song is super melodic, the opening two verses are full of great hooks and it just builds wonderfully. When we reach around the halfway point of the song we are treated to a great guitar solo (that really shreds) before that intense vocal comes back and the song finishes in this heavy manner. This is another song about the ending of a relationship. The penultimate song is 1992. I think that this is a song about holding on to your youth and your dreams when everyone around you tells you to do otherwise. This is a song a lot of people I know will relate to. The opening verse has this great walking melody that gives the song a great energy and will get you moving. And, as soon as the chorus hits, it’s time for a big sing-along! The final track on the EP is Second To One. This is where Bone IDL really turn up ready to rock. The track had me headbanging the entire way through and I loved how it again got more intense as the song progresses. The song ensures that the EP finishes much like it began, with a ferocity that feels like getting hit by a brick.

Bone IDL are a new band that I can already see getting quite a following. They have a sound that I don’t hear that often anymore and that has me excited.

Stream and download Bone IDL on Bandcamp here.

Like Bone IDL on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.