Sunday, 28 December 2014

Album Review: Hang On by [Spunge]

It’s always very exciting when one of your musical heroes releases a brand new album. Legends of the UK ska punk scene [Spunge] recently did that, releasing their first new album in seven years after another very successful pledge music campaign. Titled Hang On?, I was really looking forward to hearing a new album having been given a taster a recent London gig.

[Spunge] are incredibly quick out of the blocks on Hang On? with the catchy Everyone Else. This is a trademark [Spunge] song, upbeat, fun and positive. It’s a fantastic anthem about sticking to your guns and being yourself. Never Grow Old starts out with some great ska chords whilst lead singer Alex Copelands punchy vocal delivery carries the melody. The song gives out a great message about not having to become old and boring if you don’t want to. On the third track Gavva Wound [Spunge] slow things down a bit as they play a song about being a band for a long time. These Tewkesbury gentlemen have now been a band for twenty years, an amazing achievement for a DIY band.

Nothing At All is already becoming a crowd favourite after it’s appearances at live shows for the past couple of years. There a hint of venom in Al’s vocals this time as he sings about breaking free of chains that are holding you down in life. This message is so relatable to anyone stuck in a mundane job that they hate. Strictly Need To Know is a mid-tempo paced song, there is a lovely hint of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in guitarist Damon Robins opening chords as Al sings about gossip and why people feel the need to know everything about everyone’s life, a very interesting and unique topic for a song. The long, drawn out outro leads nicely into the punchy Pirate Song. At just one minute and twenty-one seconds long it’s the shortest on the album but it really packs a big hit. The chorus of “Well I Try To Be The Best I Can, I Really Really Do, But I’ve Had 20,000 Problems And The Newest One Is You” will draw massive sing alongs at live shows.”

Track seven, Worthwhile Waste Of Time is a fun summer jam. It’s a great little love song about spending time with someone you care about, doing nothing but having the best time with that special someone. One Of Those Days is a more aggressive sounding song, for [Spunge] anyway. This song is about not having time for negative people and urging them to “Take Those Bad Thoughts From Your Mind And Tell The Rest To Run And Hide.” Penultimate track Higher Ground is a slow reggae number which opens with a great bass line from Chris “Jarv” Murphy. The message of this song is simple, always try to find a way to be the bigger person and be on “higher ground.” The final song on Hang On?, titled Hang On? could be the best song [Spunge] have ever written. It starts out slowly, telling a story about growing up and doing things your own way before launching into a heavy chorus of “The Times Before The Times We Met, The Times That Happened And Haven’t Yet, The Times We Laughed Until We Cried, And Yeah Ok, The Time That Flame Died, But We Came Back, And We Made It Right, We Start The Fire, Put Up A Fight, We Bonded Stronger Than Ever Before And That Won’t Go Away.” Lyrically and musically that is brilliant and a really great way to end the album.

I absolutely loved this album, if it had came out a little earlier it definitely would have placed very highly on my end of year list. Everything I love about this band is still there after all these years and it still sounds so fresh. Something I did notice about Hang On? compared to some of their past albums is the maturity of the subject matter, absolutely no songs along the lines of lesbians, imaginary friends or striking flying rodents in recreational grounds. This is by no means a bad thing though as it shows some growth in the bands song writing. Absolutely cracking effort!

Check out [Spunge] here:

Now listening to Wezeltown by Tim Barry

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Top 10 gigs 2014

Here are my top ten gigs of 2014.

10. Imperial Leisure/Anti Vigilante – Camden Underworld
This gig was my first one of the year and turned into a bit of a bitter/sweet evening for me. The sweetness was that Imperial Leisure and Anti Vigilante were both brilliant on that nice. Anti Vigilantes skacore thunder got the Underworld moving before Imperial Leisures brand of altska took the party to a whole new level that only they can. The bitterness of the evening was that this turned out to be the last time I ever got to see Anti Vigilante as they decided to call it a day. A massive loss to the UK’s underground ska scene.

9. Masked Intruder – Fighting Cocks
The Fighting Cocks in Kingston played host to one of the funniest gigs of the year. Being supported by the excellent folk punk Sam Russo and hardcore punks Throwing Stuff those pop punk criminals Masked Intruder entertained a packed crowd. With Officer Bradford in tow they entertained the room with their songs about breaking the law and girls. Playing a mixture of songs from both of their full length albums as well as an excellent Linoleum cover they had the room singing and dancing with massive grins on their face the whole way through their set.

8. Ducking Punches - Brixton Windmill
This turned out to be one of the best surprises of the year. Norwich’s Ducking Punches being supported by River Jumpers, Wank For Peace and Other Half. This was my first time at the Windmill in Brixton, whenever I go to a new place I always get a bit wary about what it would it be like, what’s the atmosphere going to be like? All was well as all four bands put on a great night of brilliant and varied punk rock. It really won’t be long until both Ducking Punches and River Jumpers are playing shows at much bigger venues, incredible talents.

7. Less Than Jake/Reel Big Fish – Shepherds Bush Empire
Ska punk colossuses Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish on tour together? With Zebrahead? This of course was going to be one hell of a show. I’m a massive fan of all three bands so when tickets went on sale I got mine as quickly as possible. I’ve seen all three bands multiple times over the past few years and never get bored of watching them play. Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish have been going for over twenty years now and it’s a testament to them that people still keep going back and having the best nights at their gigs.

6. The Smith Street Band – Our Black Heart
It wouldn’t be a top ten of 2014 list without The Smith Street band making an appearance. At the end of a long European tour with Restorations and Astpai they decided to play one last headline show at Our Black Heart in Camden before heading home to Australia. Being supported by their friends in Caves and Great Cynics this was one of the hottest tickets in town. Caves started the show of great and Great Cynics continued with some great indie punk but The Smith Street Band blew the roof of the place. Everyone was covered in sweat as we sung along as loud as we could throughout the set. The biggest sing along was of course saved for the closer Young Drunk, where Wil Wagner gave his microphone as they sung so loudly.

5. Jesse James – The Borderline
This was a gig I never ever expected to happen, Jesse James back together playing a headline gig. The ball got started after it was announced they would be playing at Slam Dunk Festival and after their set they announced a single headline show at The Borderline, I couldn’t get my ticket quick enough! Being supported by the excellent Vanilla Pod (who celebrate twenty years as a band next year) it was a night full of nostalgia as I danced and sang along to one of the my all time favourite bands. That was a night I know that I’ll remember for a long long time.

4. ONSIND – Urban Bar
ONSIND are without a doubt the best band in the UK for me. Being supported by The Fairweather Band, Losing Sleep and the amazing Erica Freas of RVIVR, ONSIND had a whole room of sweaty punks in the palm of their hands singing along to their political anthems with them. I’m not sure that there are many better songwriters than this two Pity Me gentlemen, they can write some great hooks with some seriously catchy lyrics that will also make you think. Whether the song is about the government, mental health or gender equality ONSIND always have something important to say. An extra special moment for me was when Erica joined Nathan and Daniel on stage to sing their cover of Starships by Nicky Minaj. This was the song that got me into both ONSIND and RVIVR and never expected to get the chance to see it live, so that was a fantastic treat.

3. Against Me! – Electric Ballroom
Against Me are without a doubt the best punk band in the world right now. This gig was always going to be a special night but I was still in awe of just how special the night would become. After the fantastic Billy The Kid opened the show with a little help from Frank Turner Against Me took to the stage and the energy levels of the whole room went right up to eleven. Tearing through songs from their entire discography they had the crowd in the palm of their hands for the entire set. Before the encore a massive sing along of Sink Florida Sink gave me goose bumps. I said when I reviewed the gig that this night made me so proud to be a part of the punk scene in the UK. By now we all know that Against Me are a band with a difference, in most music scenes there would be a bit of attention and the words acceptance would be thrown about a lot. In our punk scene there never was any need to accept the difference, it was what it was – they are still the best band in the world.

2. Slam Dunk Festival – Hatfield University
When the organisers of Slam Dunk festival began to start announcing the bands that would be gracing the stages I was blown away. By the time they finished announcing everyone I counted seventeen that I wanted to see. Among the highlights were Less Than Jake, The Skints, Gnarwolves, a rare appearance from Capdown, the returning Fandangle and of course a reunited Jesse James. I’ve never fan girled more at a line up. Fandangle opened the day up the best way possible, getting a huge skank pit going (not bad for a early opener), I was then sent down memory lane by Jesse James and continued to be entertained by The Skints, MC Lars, Gnarwolves, Zebrahead, The Ataris and of course the legendary Less Than Jake. There were so many great moments throughout the day but the one that always sticks out most to me came and the end of Zebraheads set. I’d gone to the festival with a few friends, two of which were my great friends Smurf and Scouse. I hadn’t seen them much all year so was great to see them regardless of what we were doing. After finding them in the middle of the mosh pit we danced through the set of a band we had bonded over when we first met. When Zebrahead finished their set they played Whitney Houstons I Will Always Love You, the three of us just had a massive hug together. Moments like that confirmed that I will be friends with those boys for a very long time.

1. The Menzingers – Electric Ballroom
Those close to me know that I’ve not had the easiest of years and the result of that has been some mental health issues, one of which being anxiety. On the day of what already promised to be one of the gigs of year, The Menzingers at the Electric Ballroom with The Smith Street Band and The Holy Mess I was really struggling with my anxieties, so much so that I nearly stayed at home that night. I forced myself to go though and was treated to an amazing night. The show was opened by one of my finds of the year – The Holy Mess. This trio play some great fists in the air punk rock and should be on everyone’s radars. Up next was a band I can’t seem to shut up about – The Smith Street Band. This would be my first time seeing them on a stage of this size and they easily surpassed all of my already high expectations. During the set Wil made a comment about how being on stage is the only time of the day when he really feels right. This really resonated with me, as soon as I had arrived at the Electric Ballroom that night all my feeling of anxiousness had disappeared, I knew that this was a place where I felt right. Up next came The Menzingers, one of the most popular punk bands on the planet. Every single time I see The Menzingers I know it’s going to be an epic performance, and this was no different. I’ve said in the past the crowd are as big a part of a Menzingers set as the band themselves. On this night the crowd were phenomenal. Shouting along to songs from all four of their albums, the crowd danced, moshed, surfed and fist pumped all night long. It won’t be long until The Menzingers are rubbing shoulders with the biggest bands in music, not just our little world of punk.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Top 10 Albums 2014

Here are my top ten albums of 2014

10. Roughneck Riot – Out Of Anger
Warringtons folk punks returned with Out Of Anger towards the end of 2014. The album marked a slight change in sound for the band as they slowed things down musically to help put their political message across. The result of this makes of the smartest and hardest hitting albums of the year. These guys and girls have created an album that you will enjoy and learn a lot from in equal measure. Learning things is fun. Stand out songs include Parasites and England’s Desperate Liars.

9. The Menzingers – Rented World
The Menzingers were really going to have to pull out all of the stops to top their previous release On The Impossible Past. On Rented World they very nearly did it. On The Impossible Past will always be the Philadelphian four pieces classic album but Rented World came really close to eclipsing it. This is a slower paced album that focuses more on song writing that previous efforts and the result is an album full of perfectly crafted punk rock gems. Stand out tracks are I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore and My Friend Kyle.

8. Ducking Punches – Dance Before You Sleep
Music, in any genre is at its very best when it’s heartfelt and honest. That’s exactly what Norwich’s Ducking Punches achieved on Dance Before You Sleep. It’s a folk punk record The topics on the album are far cheerful and include dealing with death, drug addiction and break ups. Musically it offers a nice amount of diversity, there are some slower tempo songs and some great big foot stomping albums, defienitely an album for everyone. Check out Bug Brown Pills From Lynn and Six Years.

7. Mike TV – Sausage Hospital
When it comes to make fast, fun pop punk music few bands do it much better than Mike TV. Sausage Hospital is their first album in six years and everything that makes this band great is still there. Sausage Hospital contains sixteen hook filled pop gems born for singing and dancing to. Dombs lyrics are as smart and insightful as ever and cover a wide range of areas such as break ups, alcoholism, growing up and life in a band. Also, there are fantastic harmonies. Have a listen to 90s Teenager and Cool Wave Magnolia.

6. Wank For Peace – Fail Forward
French hardcore punks Wank For Peace came out of nowhere for me this year. After seeing them support Ducking Punches and River Jumpers at the Windmill in Brixton they blew me away and couldn’t wait to check out their brand new album Fail Forward. Fail Forward cements Wank For Peaces place as one of the finest bands in mainland Europe with its passionate and anthemic punk rock numbers. Stand out songs include Was That What You Expected Kid and Twelve Cheese Sticks.

5. Leagues Apart – Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Manchester melodic punk rockers debut album Brief Interviews With Hideous Men seemed to be a very long time in the making but when it was finally released fans of the band were in for a treat. From the opening of the first song Kat Dennings; You Are My Everest (best song title of the year) and the closing of the epic To Know The Night is To Live Forever it’s an album full of fist in the year sing along moments. Having three different singers and songwriters keeps the album fresh and gives you a feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen next, something few bands in this genre of punk can pull off. Check out the two songs I mentioned as well as Rampant Horse Is Rampant.

4. Martha – Courting Strong
Pity Me punks Martha released the best album by a UK based band this year in Courting Strong. It contains ten of the best written pop songs you will hear anywhere in the world currently. Another band with multiple vocalists that keep the sound of the record fresh and fun, the way pop should be. The brilliantly written lyrics speak about growing up, gender, being unable to avoid going down a bad path and living in the moment. A must for anyone who likes music. Check out Present, Tense and Bubble In My Bloodstream.

3. Rancid – Honor Is All We Know
Honor Is All We Know was a real return to form for Californian legends Rancid. Everything you loved about Rancid when you first heard them is on display on their first album in five years. Fourteen punk rock anthems about sticking together, standing up for what you believe in and brotherhood delivered in a way no band can top. Lars and Tim’s dual vocals sound better than ever and Matt Freeman again proves why he is thought of as the best bass player in the world. Listen to Raise Your Fist and A Power Inside.

2. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Despite being released in January Transgender Dysphoria Blues was the most anticipated album of the year and boy it did not disappoint. This was the first album since Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender person and there was a slight worry about how the album will sound. For me this was the best album the band have put out in years, there are ten rousing, fist pumping, foot stomping punk rock jams. Despite the subject matter being mainly about Laura’s new life the songs still feel relatable and really make you want to sing along loud and proud. I’ve said this before but bands like Against Me! really make me feel proud to be a part of the punk rock scene. Check out Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues and FUCKMYLIFE666.

1. The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In The River

It’s probably no surprise what I’ve picked as my number one album of 2014. No band has caught my attention more than The Smith Street Band this year. Whether it’s a slow burning song or a full on punk rock party Wil Wagners lyrics are always so brutally honest and sung with such passion. Throw Me In The River was a continuation of that them as he basically wrote a self help book to himself. The album is an emotional roller coaster of lives highs and lows in which he sings about belonging, being yourself, travelling, love, drinking and coming through all of the bad things you encounter in life. The final track I Love Life is the best song of 2014. It’s an uplifting song about celebrating life and finding what makes you happy. Also have a listen to Something I Can Hold In My Hands and East London Summer.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Top 10 EPs 2014

Here is a top 10 list of my favourite EPs of 2014.

10. Creeper – Self Titled
Creeper emerged this year from the ashes of Southampton punks Our Time Down Here. This is their debut release and shows that big things should be expected from this band. Channelling their heroes AFI and Alkaline Trio they have created a refreshing pop punk sound that will make you want to sing as loudly as possible and dance like a mad person in equal measure. Stand out tracks include We Had A Pact and Gloom. Look for these guys to explode in 2015!

9. Mϋg – World Of Weirdos
Mϋg are in my opinion one of the most underrated punk bands in the UK and this release proves that. World Of Weirdos contains three fantastic tracks of pop tinged skate punk that will be stuck in your head for a long time.  This EP has been on my recently played list ever since it came out and the song World Of Weirdos is one of my favourites of the entire year.

8. Bottler – Smithereens
Bottler were a band in took me an age to check out but my gosh I’m glad I did. Smithereens is a five song release packed with smartly written melodic punk rock. Containing songs about being in a band, committing crimes and religion no topic seems out of bounds for these gentlemen. Stand out tracks are Ex-Members, Ready Willing & Able and No Questions Please.

7. Bandit The Panther – 1-Up The Punks
Strictly a single rather than an EP but I had to include it on this list because it’s so damn good. The title track is an uptempo song lamenting life in the punk rock scene. The second song The Deadpool Of Punk Rock is a short but catchy song that you’ll want to sing along with instantly. Both of these songs are on a brand new Bandit The Panther album promised for 2015.

6. New Town King – Pull and Rewind
Pull and Rewind was always going to be an interesting release from Colchesters New Town Kings as it is the first recording material with new front man Dabs. When a band changes their lead singer there is always going to be a change in the sound. For the New Town Kings it was a brilliantly refreshing new sound, the characteristic modern take on the traditional ska sound but Dabs vocal really adds to the band. Stand out tracks for me are Change and Luna Rosa.

5. Apologies, I Have None – Black Everything
Black Everything was another record that marked a change in a bands sound. I’ll be the first to admit that the first time I listened to this EP I wasn’t a big fan of it, previous release London is one of my all time favourite records. As I listened to it more the new darker sound really grew on me and really cemented new solo front man Josh McKenzie as one of the best songwriters in punk rock. Check out Two Bombs In A Box and Coffee, Alcohol, Codeine, Repeat.

4. Not Half Bad – Sorry Dudes
This EP has really been a pleasant surprise, I only picked it up by chance whilst buying 7 Years Bad Luck’s album from Disconnect Disconnect Records. Sorry Dudes features six songs of some of the best folk punk you will have heard all year. This Texan four piece write some fun as fudge fist in the air anthems that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Check out Daybeers and You’re Alright You Know That Kid.

Eat Defeat are a band I have a lot of time for. Combining skate, pop and ska punk they have released one of the most uplifting releases of the year. It’s Always Sunny In Yorkshire contains three songs (a a alternative version of one of the songs) about not letting life beat you, believing that it will get better, having the strength to stand up for yourself and living to fight another day. Luck Is For Losers (featuring Barney Boom of Sonic Boom Six fame) is easily in my top five songs of the year.

2. Red Light Rebels – Rebels
Red Light Rebels really came out of nowhere for me this year. Having been invited to a gig by Tom Saunders of 4ft Fingers and The Hook Line Riot (two of my favourite bands) to see his new band in Cheltenham (a gig that I unfortunately couldn’t attend) I checked out this release on their Bandcamp page. Rebels is five songs of punk rock perfection. Five excellently written songs played with energy and passion and are filled with great hooks. Stand out tracks are California Avenue and Barracuda.

1. RVIVR – Bicker and Breathe

RVIVR are one of the most forward thinking and most important bands in the punk scene today. Whilst being better known for the gender equality politics many of their songs can also be easily relatable for many of life’s problems. Bicker and Breathe is a great pop punk record where Mattie and Erica’s dual vocals really come into their own. Topics such as homelessness, struggling to say goodbye and being strong are included on this fantastic release. Stand out songs are 20 Below and In Waves.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Top 10 Music Videos 2014

Here are my top 10 music videos of 2014. Enjoy.

Anywhere You Wanna Go by The Bennies from Rainbows In Space

Big Brown Pills From Lynn by Ducking Punches from Dance Before You Sleep

Don't Fuck With Our Dreams by The Smith Street Band from Don't Fuck With Our Dreams EP

I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore by The Menzingers from Rented World

Present, Tense by Martha from Courting Strong

Seventeener (17th and 37th) by The Lawrence Arms from Metropole

Scallywag by The Kubricks from Wasters and Wannabes EP

Spencer Reid by The Holy Mess from Comfort In The Dischord

Was That What You Expected Kid by Wank For Peace from Fail Forward

Your Graduation by Modern Baseball from You're Gonna Miss It All

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Gig Review: Gnarwolves at Camden Underworld 5/12/14

2014 has undoubtedly been a career defining year for Gnarwolves. They released their debut album to extremely positive reviews (hereis mine), they opened the main stage at Reading and Leeds festival, made their debut Fest appearance, toured the USA and are currently on a headline tour of Europe and the UK with Prawn and Public Domain. Last week they played a sold out show at the Underworld in Camden, naturally I went along.

First up were Austrian hardcore punks Public Domain. After dedicating the whole of their set to anybody that skateboards Public Domain stormed through their set with their front man being a whirlwind of energy as he paced back and forth across the stage. Public Domain are one of the finest hardcore punk bands I have heard in a while, they excelled at everything I like about the genre. They played fast and loud and took absolutely no prisoners. Public Domain really kicked off the night in a great fashion.

Up next were Prawn from New Jersey. Prawn describe themselves as an indie/punk band and they reminded me a lot of probably the second biggest success story of the year in UK punk, Moose Blood. I had never heard of Prawn before but it was clear a fair few of the now full Underworld crowd had. It’s always nice to see a support band getting a decent amount of love from the crowd and Prawn seemed to really appreciate it claiming that this was probably the biggest crowd that they have ever played for. Prawn really impressed me, combining jangling guitars with heartfelt vocals they had me hooked from beginning to end. These gentlemen are definitely a band to watch out for; I’m expecting big big things.

It really doesn’t seem that long ago that I saw Gnarwolves for the first time. That was towards the end of 2012 opening up for Joyce Manor at the Old Blue Last with Bangers and Apologies, I Have None. Then a relative unknown it’s amazing to see how far the trio have come in such a short space of time, especially for a DIY punk band. It really goes to show that you really don’t need to make appearances on TV talent shows to get ahead in the music world, you can get what you want from an incredible work ethic, getting out and actually playing shows whenever and wherever you can does pay off. It also helps that you have a fantastic talent for song writing, something Gnarwolves have in spades. Starting out two of the lead songs from their self titled debut Smoking Kills and Bottle To Bottle the Underworld becomes a huge mass of bodies singing at the top of their lungs. The chorus from Smoking Kills that goes “We Are The Product Of A Broken Class But, We Weren’t Raised To Be Fucking Morons” really seemed to strike a chord with the young and old punks in attendance. Gnarwolves shows are notorious for getting extremely rowdy with fans relentlessly join the band on stage and dive back onto the crowd. There is a sense of joyous carnage and celebration throughout the set, everyone seemingly wanting to celebrate the success of Gnarwolves year. Their set flew by as they played songs from the entire back catalogue, all of which got massive reactions. The biggest reaction of the night came for Limerence.  I’ve not heard many bigger sing alongs for any song at any gig than I did for Limerence, I felt goose bumps during the opening lines “A Mixture Of All The Things You Didn’t Want To Do, A Certain Someone Who Reminds You Of All The Things You Did, But Didn’t want to.”

This really did feel like a celebration for Gnarwolves amazing year. They are a real success story from our scene and I’m really excited to see just how far they can go. The sky seems to be the limit for these boys.

Check out Public Domain here:

Check out Prawn here:

Check out Gnarwolves here:

Now listening to Somewhere Better by Harker

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy at the Camden Barfly 3/12/14

The Barfly in Camden is one of my favourite venues to watch live music. There is something about that place that makes bands and crowds step it up an extra level. This week we were in for a fantastic night of ska from The JB Conspiracy with support from Tree House Fire, Ghouls and The Popes Of Chillitown.

London’s Popes of Chillitown start the night off and from the get go they are full of energy. Combining the very best of punk, ska, reggae, dub and rap The Popes Of Chillitown are one of the most refreshing bands I’ve seen in a long time. Front man Matt is full of charisma and really grabs the audience’s attention. I’ve been aware of this band for a little while now but never really listened to them, after seeing them live I regret not making the effort. I enjoyed the bad so much. Check these guys out immediately.

Up next were reggae/ska band Tree House Fire. Another band I’ve heard plenty about but have never really listened to. Just like Popes Of Chillitown I loved them, they brought a fantastic summer vibe to a freezing cold Camden night. These guys were seriously tight as a band and whilst not as energetic as the Popes Of Chillitown they definitely had the Barflys attention. Singles Push and Dutty Girl got nice reactions from the crowd with everyone nodding their heads or bouncing along with huge grins on their faces. Another band you have to look out for.

The final support came from Ghouls. This would be the second time that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band, the first being 18 months ago when they supported Jim Lockey & The Solemn Son at the Borderline. Since that time they have released their debut album Ten Thousand Word On and more recently the EP Great Expectations and have toured all around the country. They were good the first time I saw them but my gosh they come on leaps and bounds in the past eighteen months. They played with a great amount of passion and really seemed to be enjoying themselves during the set. This was a really fun set from these five young men, highlights from the set included London’s Burning, Dive In, Gone Fishing and a first time playing of Being Me, a fantastic song about being true to yourself and it not mattering where you go in life as long as you make some great memories along the way.

Finally it was time for the excellent JB Conspiracy. The first thing I noticed as the band took to the stage was that there had been a line up shift, Bobble from Faintest Idea being one of them on the trombone. I had noticed a few Streetlight Manifesto shirts in the crowd and thought it was rather apt, if there is a band anyone in the world of ska punk that can hold a candle to their horn section it’s definitely the JB Conspiracy’s. The band very quickly whipped the barfly into a skanking frenzy. This was my fifth time seeing the band and each time they’ve managed to top the previous fantastic performance. I always forget just how many great songs The JB Conspiracy have in their discography; it seems with every song they play the reactions and dancing get more and more excitable. The sing long for the song Say Goodbye was absolutely huge as it was for slower Drop Your Anchor. I honestly can’t say much about the on stage performance of the band as I was to swept up in the excitement of the pit. It must have been great though as the set stormed by. Like every good party it didn’t slowly die down it just stopped dead and with that the hot and sweaty crowd descending back into Camden no doubt whistling one of the many memorable horn riffs written by the best ska punk band the UK has to offer.

The ska scene in the UK has been dealt some blows this year with the splits of Anti Vigilante and Dirty Revolution as well as ClayPigeons impending last show at the Underworld on the 20th December. I was beginning to wonder how long the scene would be able to keep going with the loss of these big hitters, happily after the night at the barfly it was proven to me there are plenty more amazing bands going strong in the scene. Ska’s definitely not dead.

Check out The Popes Of Chillitown here:

Check out Tree House Fire here:

Check out Ghouls here:

Check out The JB Conspiracy here: