Thursday, 29 January 2015

Album Review: Sophomore by John Allen

It seems like every week I am discovering a new singer/songwriter type whose inspirations come from the world of punk rock, folk and americana music. Recently I was pointed towards the direction of John Allen from Germany and was told that his new album in spectacular and has an early Frank Turner vibe. As a huge fan of Frank Turners early work I had to check out the album, named Sophomore and discovered it truly was spectacular.

Sophomore opens up with a song named New Years Eve and straight away I could tell that this would be an album I would enjoy. Allen sings about lamenting New Years Eve. His lyrics are absolutely spot on about a cynic’s view of new years. Lines like “New Years Eve Quite Simple Serves One Purpose And One Goal, A Lame Excuse For Idiots To Get Pissed Beyond Control” and “So I Sit Down Before I Leave And My Mind Begins To Stray, For A List Of Resolutions That I Won’t Keep Anyway. The use of a whole band on the track really makes this sound like a big foot stomping anthem. Despite the cynicism throughout the verses the chorus is actually full of hope and promise; he sings “May My Heart Be Filled With Hope, may My Road Be Straight And Clear, May I Shout Out Of Full Of Confidence, Maybe This Will Be My Year. The second song Home is about finding somewhere to belong in many different places. I love how musically in trundles along at good tempo, giving the song a great punk rock feel. It’s a song where anyone who has ever toured, done some travelling or just had trouble finding somewhere to fit in can relate to. There’s a nice surprise towards the end of the song to, the man himself Mr Frank Turner sings a verse adds a nice new dimension to the track. On the third song Night Falls Over Reno the tempo of the album is slowed. This song feels a bit retrospective as he sings about having to make decisions knowing there will be consequences. His voice is superb on this song as it carries real emotion throughout and really tugs on the heart strings.

Springtime has a feel of The Gaslight Anthem to it. His voice is again full of emotion has he sings about the anxiety that is felt in a relationship. The song starts off with just Allen’s voice and some acoustic guitar before building into a big band performance for the chorus. The fifth track, Blood Brothers starts out with a thumping drum beat before being joined by acoustic guitar and a piano. It’s a song about the strong bond of true friendship and how despite being far away from each other that special connection is still there. As someone who doesn’t live near his best friends and misses them daily I really related to this song and found myself getting a little teary listening to the song. I love the chorus of “Whatever Happens And Until The End Of Days, Whatever Happens, All The Resistance We Will Face, Whatever Happens, We Will Fight Hard Against The Tide, And We Remain Blood Brothers Side By Side.” Blood Brother is an absolute corker of a song that if there was any justice in the music world should make John Allen a household name. The tempo is up on the next song Rock’n’Roll Romeos. This song is about leaving the dream despite it’s obvious drawbacks. The message is a positive one  and it’s the sort of song that will have you joining arms with strangers at shows and joining in with the singing with a massive smile on your face. Track number seven is called It’s Raining Every Day. This is one of the more sombre songs on Sophomore with Mr Allen musically stripping every back to just his voice and a acoustic guitar. He seems to have an amazing ability to really make the listener hear each and every one of his lyrics and just forget about everything around you when you’re listening to his music.

Freedom is another foot stomping folk punk anthem that needs to be played loud. This song is about being brave enough to stand tall and for what you want in life and the freedom you feel from living this way. This verse in particular is amazing – “So Now He’s Leaving Town, He’s Leaving Home, They Say All Roads Lead To Rome, Freedom’s Just Another Word For Petrol Steal & Chrome, So He Hits The Ground Running Into The Great Unknown,” Fantastic song writing. Track nine on Sophomore is called Lessons I Have Learned. The feeling of positivity is high in this americana inspired song. It’s a slow burner that you can’t help but smile to when listening. It’s about finding the good in life despite all the bad situations you can find yourself in. The chorus is really strong – “ That All I Really Want Is To See Your Smile At The Break Of Day, And All I Really Want To Feel Your Touch And To Hear You Say, Listen To Me Baby, Sometime Things Are Bad, And Sometimes They Get Worse, But Don’t You Dare Forget, How Lovely Life Can Be, How Wonderful And Lovely Life Can Be.” I also loved the lines “And If You’re Out There Somewhere Listening To That Song, And If It Makes You Smile, Try And Sing Along” – simple but utterly brilliant. The final song is appropriately titled Famous Last Words. John brings the piano to the forefront on this song and gives it a deliciously haunting sound. Again, his amazing ability to get the listener to hear every single lyric throughout the song. He really pulls on the heartstrings again as he sings a ballad about saying goodbye and asks if he will be remembered when he’s gone.

I don’t know enough superlatives to really give this album the praise it deserves. Simply put it is a masterpiece. You need to check this guy out.

Check out John Allen here:

You can buy Sophomore here:

Now listening to Autobiographer by Eric Ayotte

Dr Dave Is Trying To Make Me Deaf and Poor (Introductions)

What did you do in the past 12 months? Seriously. Think about it. This is not an idle question – I don’t care “how you are” or “what’s up” – I am questioning the way you live your life.

OK, you say, so what did you do in the past 12 months then, Mr Foreword Writer? That’s Dr Foreword Writer to you. Because that’s one thing I did last year. I finished my PhD. I also published some academic articles about the psychology of social networks, spoke at some conferences, and told some businesses how to do their online marketing.

Being a researcher is a diverse and challenging job, and I think I had a pretty good year. But in five years I’ll still barely remember any of it; hundreds of thousands of academic articles are written every year, even the audience at a conference doesn’t remember the talk they just sat through, and no one wants to dwell on the time they spent telling advertisers how to annoy people more efficiently.

That leaves me getting a PhD. Pretty cool eh? And I’ll surely remember it. But fifty thousand people got a PhD in the US in 2009, so it’s not very unique.

What I will remember is the time between Christmas and New Year when I sat in the pub with Colin, and he mentioned that he’d been to 30-something gigs that year. “That’s nearly one a week!” I said, “You should go to 52 next year.” And then, for some reason that I can’t fathom, he agreed. Despite being just a spectator of his crazy journey, for me 2013 will be the year that Colin took that insane bet.

So, that’s what I think this book is about. OK, there’s a bit about punk rock now and again, but that’s just allegorical flavour for the real morality tale, which is about doing something interesting in your life. Whatever you want, as long as it’s something you can tell people about. Something you will remember.

Dr Dave

I love music. Specifically I love punk rock music. I love it because it’s so accessible, its music anyone can get involved with and anyone can relate to. Punk rock music is the thing that gets me more passionate and excited than anything else in the world. I love listening to it, talking about and most of all going to watch it live.

I was very late to the live music scene. I didn’t go to my first until November 2010 but from that moment on I was hooked. It’s now January 2013 and I’ve now been to forty one. Thirty three of those were last year which to me is ridiculous. At the end of last year I decided I should probably try and cut down on the gigs and start to think about saving to move out of mothers and I should probably learn to drive. I’m nearly 27, probably time to think about growing up.
It’s that between Christmas and New Years 2012 and I find myself at the pub with one of my dearest friends. It had been a few months since we’d seen each other so we were catching up with each other. Telling stories of things we’d done throughout the year. He finished his PhD and is now a doctor of psychology. I went to lots of gigs. He was impressed with how many I’d been to and enjoyed my many stories. I then began to tell him about my plans to cut down next year and do some growing up. What happened next will shape the next twelve months of my life.

Dr Dave (who is now a respected member of society) told me I shouldn’t cut down and then challenged me to try and average one gig a week for the whole year. That’s 52 gigs! Straight away I said “no chance, I’m growing up this year.” I amazed myself with how well I withstood this idea. Normally I’m very much up for such a challenge. He then offered me the prize of a pat on the head and a kiss on the lips from our friend Sarah (she for some unknown reason wasn’t too keen on this part of the prize). Even with these massive prizes as incentives I stuck to my guns and said no and we left it at that.

The next day at work I thought a little more about the challenge. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like a fun thing to do. After all, I LOVE GOING TO GIGS. I spoke to some more friends about it; they all encouraged me to do it as well. Clearly nobody wants me to grow up anytime soon. I decided “fudge it; I’ll grow up next year.” I got in contact with Dr Dave, accepted the challenge and we decided on some rules. Here they are:
Go to 52 gigs before midnight on 31st December 2013.

Normally a “gig” is defined as an event for which you need a ticket (even if it’s free), but if you go to a music event lasting multiple days, in which it’s possible to buy a ticket to a single day’s music, then you’re allowed to count the number of days you’re there as separate gigs. A gig is an event at which (live) music is the main event - but for the purposes of this challenge we’ll also include that punk rock crap you nod your head to. We’ll need photographic proof from each gig.

Should you beat the challenge, then I will give you a hug and a pat on the head while proudly saying the words “good Pig”, and Sarah will give you a kiss (maybe on the mouth).

So the challenge has been accepted, now I just have to find 52 gigs for the year. How hard could it be?

Finding Gigs
When I said I now I have to find 52 gigs for the year I wasn’t strictly telling the truth. I have four gigs already booked for this year so technically I only need to find 48 more. That’s 7.6% of the work already done; I’ve got a sneaky head start.

A couple of days after the challenge was set I decided it would probably be sensible to start planning my adventure. The best thing to do is probably to work out what will create the biggest obstacles for me. I quickly realised that they would be having to work full time and the fact I’m sadly not a millionaire. Luckily I have the coolest boss in the world that will always help me have time off if it is possible, however as cool as she is at that she can’t get me a pay rise. Money will definitely cause me the biggest problems.

When I speak to people about the amount of gigs I go to they usually ask how much the tickets are. The majority of time they are usually surprised when I reply “between £10 and £15 most of the time.” I guess they usually go to see the “bigger” bands whose tickets usually range between £50 and £100. If was doing those gigs this whole challenge would be impossible. So the tickets themselves aren’t going to be the major stumbling block either. The biggest problem I will have is travel.

I’m sure everyone is aware trains are expensive. The majority of gigs I went to last year were in London. If the majority of this years are there as well I will spend over £1000 just on travel. Needless to say that is a scary amount of money. The obvious plan is to get to more local gigs at home in Colchester. The main venue for gigs in Colchester is The Arts Centre. Weirdly the same day I started to plan gigs and flyer for Colchester Arts Centre came through my door. It was if they knew of my challenge. Straight away I found gigs for screamo/post hardcore giants Funeral For A Friend, ska legends The Selecter and up and coming local band Dingus Khan.
Sadly, Colchester Arts Centre won’t supply enough gigs for me to complete the challenge. I used Google to search for gig venues in Chelmsford and Ipswich as they are the closest towns to my own. Sadly both appear to be pretty shocking for live music so I would have to go to London. I’ll worry about money later on.

I figured I best get some sort of system going to organise the gigs before I get started booking them. I also figured I better wait until I get some money. I decided the best thing to do is to make a table to organise the gigs. Once that was done I got online and started searching all the usual venues for gigs. A couple of hours later and I had 9 more lined up. That’s now 16 in total. This should be a piece of cake. Assuming I get the time off work…….and I can afford it.

Now I have a system for organising gigs and some lined up its time to start going to them.

Now listening to Truth or Consequences by Eric Ayotte

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Euro Punk (Part Two)

Here is the second part of my research into some of the great punk rock bands based in mainland Europe.

The Helltons (France)
The Helltons are a pop punk band from Bordeaux in France who formed in 2006. They play high octane snotty melodic pop punk and have released albums on labels such as Round Dog Records, Slow Death and Monster Zero. Their last release was a fantastic EP named Dead Wrong. Check out the songs We’re Dead and Socially Retarded.

Hogwash (France)
Hogwash are a punk rock band from Paris who formed in 2002. This year they have a new LP named Rainmaker being released on London’s Disconnect Disconnect Records and are doing a UK tour to go along with the release. Influenced by the 90s international punk scene they play fast and melodic music with some fantastic three part harmonies. Check out Cutting Cirlces and Samurai.

The Hormones (Spain)
The Hormones are a pop punk band from Oviedo in Spain. Playing fast and direct like their heroes The Ramones and The Riverdales. This is punk rock at its simplistic best, three chords and minute and a half songs. Check out Nerd Days and Little Jeannie.

Idle Class (Germany)
Idle Class are a German five piece punk rock band who formed in 2011. Influenced by the likes of The Menzingers, Red City Radio and Polar Bear Club, Idle Class write hook filled songs with massive fist in the air choruses. Check out the songs Han Shot First and The Essence Of Every Fight.

Irish Handcuffs (Germany)
Irish Handcuffs are a punk band from Germany. Since forming in 2011 they have put music on a number of different labels including Shield Recordings and Fond of Life Records. They play melodic punk rock complete with fantastic harmonies. Check out Singing To The Dead and Road Ahead from the album Hits Close To Home.

Maladroit (France)
Maladroit are a pop punk band from Paris. After forming almost like a joke they have played more than 100 shows . Playing simple three chord pop punk their songs as wonderfully catchy as they sing about bad experiences with girls, life on tour and the DIY punk rock scene. Their 2014 album Old & Poor is a pop punk masterpiece, check out the songs She Spent Valentine’s Day On Her iPhone and Mila Kunis (Will You Be My Plus One).

Malemute Kid (Italy)
Malemute Kid are a band from Torino in Italy who play straight forward punk rock music. To me this sounds like The Menzingers meeting up with Screeching Weasel, it might sound like an odd combination but it sounds absolutely brilliant. Check out Don’t Talk The Scene and Token.

The Manges (Italy)
The Manges are an Italian pop punk band who formed in 1993. They have close ties with legendary American pop punk band The Queers having gone on a European tour with them. Like The Queers they sound like a cross between The Ramones and The Beach Boys by playing simple fast three chord pop punk and having a whole load of harmonies. In 2014 they released the album All Is Well, check out Plan Honolulu and Don’t Bet On Me.

The Mugwumps (Austria)
The Mugwumps are a three piece pop punk from Austria. Like all of the best pop punk bands The Ramones are huge influences on this band. They have released two albums titled Banana Brain and Mutation In The Family. Check out the songs Your Kids and We Hate Your Club.

Neon Bone (Germany)
Neon Bone are a pop punk band from Germany. The pop punk is full of hooks and melodies and will have you singing along in no time at all. As band they are incredibly prolific when it comes to releasing music having put out seven different records since 2012. All of them are fantastic quality. Check out Laika and Will You Be There Tonight.

The Octopussys (Belgium)
The Octopussys are a melodic punk band from Belgium influenced by the Epi-Fat era of punk rock bands such as No Use For A Name, Lagwagon and Pulley. Since forming in 2005 they have played over 250 shows with the like of Refused, A Wilhelm Scream and Flogging Molly. Check out the songs Tonight and Summers Gone.

Pipes and Pints (Czech Republic)
Pipes and Pints are a band from the Czech Republic who formed in 2006. Mixing fast and furious street punk with highland bagpipes similar to Dropkick Murphys and The Real McKenzies. This is music that makes you want to sing along with the band with a fist in the air and a smile on your face. Check out City By The Sea and All I Know.

PO Box (France)
PO Box are a ska punk band from France. Since six piece formed in 2001 and have consistently put out fantastic music ever since. Playing ska punk anthems packed with socially conscious lyrics PO Box will have you skanking and thinking in equal measure. For fans of Big D &The Kids Table and The JB Conspiracy. Check out Look What You Have Done and On How To Light A Fire.

The Priceduifkes (Belgium)
The Priceduifkes are a Belgian pop punk band. Fast catchy and fun The Priceduifkes have been putting out great pop punk records since 2003. Ricky D’s snotty vocal is often used to carry the melody of the songs which are played at a great pace. Check out the songs Captain, We’re Drinking and Stuck.

Public Domain (Austra)
Public Domain are hardcore punk band from Austria who recently toured with Gnarwolves. This is fast and aggressive music made for live shows. The songs are all about positivity and skateboarding (possibly not in that order).  Lots of bands play this style of punk rock but few do it as well as Public Domain. Check out Line Of Lights and Know My Limits.

Now listening to What If by The Real Danger

Monday, 26 January 2015

Gig Review: River Jumpers and Eric Ayotte at The Montague Arms 24/1/15

Sometimes I’m blown away from the level of talent within the UK’s punk rock scene. There is a constant stream of fantastic acts popping up from all over the country. This past Saturday Till The Wheels Tours put on a punk rock all dayer featuring River Jumpers, Eric Ayotte, Harker, Floating Bear, Max William, Haters and Young Attenborough at The Montague Arms in Peckham to celebrate the Gadabout Film Festival. I went along.

First up was acoustic folk punk singer Max William. Max William was an absolute revelation for me, within the first thirty seconds of his opening song I was a fan and continued to enjoy his set more and more with every song he played. The UK scene is producing a great number of talented acts who play in this genre, and William deserves to be mentioned with the very best. One particular highlight from his set was when Mark from Harker joined him to play the song Squanderer. Before Mark left the stage he claimed that Max was the best lyricist in the country, a statement that nobody in the room would dispute.

Up next was a man called Tom Sharpe who goes by the name of Floating Bear. Like Max William Floating Bear was an folk singer but in a very very different style. Where Max’s performance had a lot of energy and passion throughout the set Floating Bear played with a more calm and subtle style. It worked wonderfully well as he fully captured the good folk in attendance attentions. Floating Bears voice could melt even the hardest of punks hearts, he’s that good.

Next came the beginning of somewhat of a Brighton invasion, the first of four bands from the South coast town. Female fronted pop punk band Haters are a band I was very excited to see having really enjoyed their debut EP Skip To The End. Lead singer Jo’s voice was great, perfectly blending the bouncy pop sound with a small amount of punk rock grit. Very ably backed by a band who featured Luke from Muncie Girls on guitar and Jason from Young Attenborough on drums Haters played a set to make me believe there are great things to come from this band.

Harker are a band who I first heard on the Disconnect Disconnect Records compilation United (reviewed here) and fell in love with the song Somewhere Better. They are a four piece folk/punk band who formed in Brighton in 2011. The thing that really makes Harker stand out from many of their contemporaries is lead singer Marks voice. When I first heard it I was instantly reminded of Dave Hause of The Loved Ones. Hearing it live is every bit as good as it sounds on record. Harker as a whole are a very polished act and are another band to look out for.

The next band up, also from Brighton were Young Attenborough. This would be my second time seeing this indie pop punk three piece after watching them support RVIVR at The Montague Arms last October (reviewed here). I really enjoyed them that time but this time I was just blown away. I don’t really know what was different this time around but all three really seem to have grown as musicians and as a band and looked really relaxed on the stage together. The highlight of the set for me was the song Cables off of their debut album Isolations. It’s a fantastically written song about with relationships. I must admit though, I am a massive child and I do grin like an idiot whenever I hear the lyrics “I Wanna Get Deep, Like Really Deep.” Young Attenborough were awesome and this wouldn’t be the last we would see of them tonight.

Up next would be the first of two headline acts, all the way from Bloomington, Indiana it was Eric Ayotte. Now I have to admit, despite the fact he was one of the headliners I knew very little about his music. Turns out it’s blooming awesome, whether he’s playing acoustically or supported as a full band by the Young Attenborough lads he has some fantastic songs. The whole genre of acoustic folk punk is getting bigger and bigger and Eric Ayotte has to be one of the most underrated acts going. Particular song highlights for me were the songs Get To Stepping and Big Bully. Get To Stepping is about getting older and struggling with motivation and Big Bully is about trying to speak above people who are louder than you and making them realise you have something important to say as well. Eric Ayotte is somebody who definitely needs your attention.

Up next there was a huge surprise. I’m not really sure if this was planned or it was just done on a whim but it was awesome. The Ramones turned up to play some songs! Okay, that’s a small lie it was actually the Muncie Girls who appeared on stage to perform three Ramones covers. It was a great surprise and put a big smile on many people faces. In other news, Muncie Girls begin recording their debut album this week and I’m very excited to hear it when it’s done.

Finally it was time for the final band of the evening, also from Brighton it was time for River Jumpers. River Jumpers are a band who I can’t speak highly enough of. Even after a five hour drive up from Brighton where they only arrived at the venues minutes before their set was due to start they played a blisteringly good set. Songs that stood out were Five Doors Down (which is one of my all time favourite songs), Substance & Integrity and Heartstrong as well as three new songs from their forthcoming new EP. For me River Jumpers display everything I want in a punk rock band, fantastic songs that you can sing along with, played with unlimited amount of passion and energy. There can’t be many better bands in the UK than River Jumpers.

After all of this punk rock I was absolutely shattered so naughtily I decided to skip the film festival part of the evening to make the long journey back to Colchester. I had had a great day though; I got to see some great bands and discovered some new favourites. I think it’s brilliant that events like this are put on, it’s an awesome way to spend a Saturday and the best thing about it was it only cost me £5. I would happily pay double that to see each band on the bill on their own so to see them all at one place for that much was outstanding.

Check out Max William here:
Check out Floating Bear here:
Check out Harker here:
Check out Young Attenborough here:
Check out Eric Ayotte here:
Check out Muncie Girls here:
Check out River Jumpers here:

Now listening to Creep Like me by The Priceduifkes

Friday, 23 January 2015

Classic Album: ...And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid

Something is happening this year that makes me feel really really old. Rancids classic album And Out Come The Wolves turns twenty years old in August. That’s right; you read correctly And Out Come The Wolves is twenty years old! I decided to give this classic album to see how it stands up to today’s punk rock world.

First off, a bit of history. After 1994 when punk rock blew up in the United States after Green Day released Dookie major record labels clambered to sign the very best of the talent emerging in the scene. After the success of 1994s Let’s Go Rancid were courted by many major labels including Madonna’s Maverick Records but the band decided to stick with Brett Gurewitz’s Epitaph Records to release their next album And Out Come The Wolves. Produced by the late great Jerry Finn Wolves has sold over one million copies in the USA alone, an amazing achievement from an independent punk rock band.

And Out Come The Wolves starts out with the classic Maxwell Murder. This song really showcases why Matt Freeman is frequently mentioned when people talk about who the best bass player in the world is. For me it is Matt Freeman, his bass carries the melody of the whole song as Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen share vocal duties on the opening song. On The 11th Hour Rancid slow things down a bit and channel The Clash, who were big influences for them. The song itself is about realising that you have the power to take control of your life. Classic Rancid gang vocals sing the chorus which goes “Do You Know Where The Power Lies? And Who Pulls The Strings? Do You Know Where The Power Lies? It Starts And Ends With You.” The first of Rancids three hit singles from the album, which all received heavy airplay on MTV and radio stations, was Roots Radicals. This song is an ode to roots reggae the band grew up listening to. A firm favourite and Rancid gigs, the beginning of the song where Lars sings “Took The 60 Out Of Downtown Campbell” gets everyone excited for this classic Rancid track. The line “Give ‘Em The Boot also became the title for a popular series of compilations released on Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records. Time Bomb is another of the singles released from this album. Here Rancid go down the ska root of Tim and Matts former band, the legendary Operation Ivy. The fifth song Olympia Wa. returns to a more punk rock sound. Tim is in story telling mode on this song as he sings about nothing going his way and wanting to return home. This is quite a restrained song until the massive gang vocalled chorus at the end of the track.

The sixth track is another punk rock number in similar vein of The Clash. It begins with Tim singing with Lars filling in with harmonies, this gives the feeling that these guys are having a conversation throughout the song. Lars takes lead vocal duties at times throughout the song and adds some real venom to the proceedings, throw in some Matt Freeman bass lines towards the end and you’ve got one of Rancids most underrated songs in my opinion. Junkie Man is one of the more wordie songs on And Out Come The Wolves. It’s about reaching out to a drug addict and finding out what’s wrong with him. Jim Carroll who was an American author, poet, autobiographer and musician provides vocals on the breakdown of the song, reading a passage from his autobiography The Basketball Diaires. The album title comes from some words during his passage. Lars takes lead vocal duties on the eighth song, Listed MIA and carries the melodies on the verse excellently. The third single released from Wolves was Ruby Soho, probably Rancid’s most popular song. This song falls on the poppier side of punk and has a massively catchy chorus. Tim is back in storyteller mode throughout the verses, weaving a tale of a bad break up between two lovers. There is a fantastic guitar solo towards the end that leads to a big final chorus, with some great harmonies from Lars. Track ten, Daly City Train returns to a ska sound. In a song that will get you skanking in no time at all, Tim sings about a man who despite all of lifes hardships he always managed to stay himself. I love the line in the chorus “When He Rolled The Dice He Never Thought Twice, Never Thought Twice About Being Him.”

Journey To The End Of The East Bay is my favourite Rancid song. Starting out with another brilliant Matt Freeman bass solo and some soft cymbals courtesy of Brett Reed, eventually Tim and Lars guitars join in to start this party. Journey is an autobiographical song about Operation Ivy. For those who don’t know (shame on you) Operation Ivy were a band who were around from 1987 to 1989 featuring Tim and Matt as members. They are credited as being critical to the scene around 924 Gilman Street where bands such as Green Day emerged from. Journey sums up what Rancid are all about, brotherhood and sticking with your friends no matter what. She’s Automatic is a love song. Considering Rancid give the image of being tough guys this song features some of the sweetest lyrics. “The Situation Was Tricky, I Was Feeling So Down, The Bass And The Drums, The Music So Loud, She Asked Me If I Would Stand By Her Side, Like Glue That I Would Till The End Of The Night” are just some of the awesome lyrics contained in the song. Old Friend is a ska punk song about heartbreak. Matt’s bass player really stands out again on this track. It’s one of the slowest on the album but definitely has its place. Disorder and Disarray sees Rancid go down the path of some street punk. It’s a fun, simple song with a huge chorus for everyone to get involved with. Track fifteen At The Wars End starts out slowly with just a guitar and one of Lars more heartfelt vocals. This song is about being a young punk rocker, struggling to fit in and your parents trying to push you in a direction that you don’t want to go, something most of us could probably relate to at one point in our lives.

You Don’t Care Nothin’ starts out with a great drum roll from Brett Reed, I love a good drum roll, really makes a song feel like it’s leading up to something big. Tim and Lars share the vocals on this track. I really enjoy when bands have more than one singer, it makes a song feel more inclusive when multiple people join in rather than just having one solitary voice. Track seventeen – As Wicked was the first Rancid song I ever heard and is what made me fall in love with the band. This song really showcases Tim’s trademark grumbling vocal style on the verses before everyone joins in for a massive chorus. It’s the sort of chorus that will make you put an arm round a stranger in a pit and sing as loud as possible. The penultimate song on And Out Come The Wolves is called Avenues And Alleyways. This is some first class street punk that rumbles along nicely without ever really picking up pace or slowing down. Again the dual vocals or Lars and Time Carry the melody and we are treated to yet another gang vocal chorus. And Out Come The Wolves finishes like and album should do, with a massive sing along complete with na na nas. The Way I Feel brings an end to the album nicely as for one final time the dual vocals bring the party home. Everyone gets to show their immense musical ability on the song, which I think is another underrated Rancid classic.

If you were listen to And Out Come The Wolves and Rancids 2014 album Honor Is All We Know (reviewed here) you would never know there are nineteen years between them. Rancid have always been fantastic songwriters and musicians and have a connection that few bands will ever match. That’s a big reason why they have been so successful for so long, the brotherhood that keeps them and their fans together. And Out Come The Wolves is timeless, I suspect I’ll still be listening in another twenty years and  I will still enjoy it as much as ever.

Euro Punk (Part 1)

The punk rock scenes in the United Kingdom and the United States get loads of attention, and rightly so, it’s thriving, I can’t recall a time when there was so many amazing bands for people to listen to. Lately I’ve been thinking about the European punk rock scene and wondering how a strong the scene is on the mainland. After a little research I discovered an amazing amount of fantastic European punk rock bands. Here is a selection of them for you to check out.

7 Years Bad Luck (Austria)
7 Years Bad Luck are a melodic pop punk band from Austria similar in sound to No Use For A Name and The Ataris. Late last year they released a new album named Bridges on Disconnect Disconnect Records (Reviewed here). Check out Beggars and Kings and Desert Island.

20belows (Denmark)
The 20belows are a pop punk band from Denmark. Formed in 2001 they are inspired by legendary pop punk bands such as The Ramones, Screeching Weasel and The Queers. In 2014 they released a new EP named Wreckage to add to a already excellent discography. Check out For Better Days and Bottom Of The List.

The 101’s (Holland)
The 101’s are a band from The Netherlands who play melodic punk rock. Last year they released For The Years on White Russian Records, No Panic! Records, No Reason Records and For Us Records. Check out Caught Up and Chances.

Accelerators (Holland)
Accelerators are a pop punk band from Rotterdam who formed in 2003. The influences of The Ramones and the 90’s Lookout Records roster are very clear in their music. They released their last full length album (Fuel For The Fire) in 2012 and have a realease due this year with the legendary Kepi Ghoulie of The Groovie Ghoulies. Check out Ready Set Go and The Ballad Of John Sancho B.

Antillectual (Holland)
Antillectual are socially conscious bands who blend 90’s skate punk with todays “orgcore2 sound. Infleunced by Rise Against, Strike Anywhere and Propaghandi as well as European punk legends Rentokill they have carried the torch for European punk rock since 2005. Check out Soundtrack and Pink Print from the 2013 Perspectives and Objectives.

The Apers (Holland)
The Apers are the kings of European pop punk. Since forming in 1996 they have released six full length albums and a whole host of EPs and split releases. Throughout that time they have played over 1000 shows all over the world. Their newest album Confetti On The Floor was released on Monster Zero records late last year (review here). Check out Almost Summer and Every Day Is A Rock N Roll Day.

Apple Juice (France)
Apple Juice are a female fronted hardcore punk band from France. The music and pretty angry and in your face and bloody brilliant. Last year they released the EP Human Poison on Panda Records. Check out the songs New Start and Dragging Me Down.

Astpai (Austria)
Austria’s Astpai are the leading lights in the European punk rock scene after making a name for themselves all over the world with the passionate melodic punk. Last year they released the excellent Careers (reviewed here) and went on a very successful tour of Europe and the UK with Restorations and The Smith Street Band. Check out the songs Emotion In The Way and Honest Or Sentimental.

Atlas Losing Grip are a melodic crossover punk rock band from Malmo in Sweden who formed in 2005. Expertly combining metal riffs with some fantastic emotional vocals Atlas Losing Grip offer something for everyone. This year they released a brand new album named Currents with new lead singer Niklas Olsson. Check out Different Hearts, Different Minds and Shallow.

Black Volvo (Holland)
Black Volvo are a Dutch three piece punk band who release music on TNS Records in England and Round Dog Records in Scotland. These guys are all about playing as fast and loudly as they can and singing at your top of your lungs. Their album Once We Were All Wolves is best played cranked up to eleven. Listen to Rockers and Wacka Wacka.

Brains All Gone (Poland)
Brains All Gone are a all female punk band from Poland who formed in 2012. Playing a blend of punk rock and pop music these three ladies are already turning head in their homeland and I suspect it won’t be long until they are well known all over Europe. Currently working on their debut album , check out their new single March Of The Youth.

Call It Off (Holland)
Call It Off are a four piece pop punk band from Eindhoven. They are a band who wear their influences on their sleeves, clearly they have a lot of love for the pop punk of the late 90’s and early 00’s such as Green Day, New Found Glory and Allister. In February they have a new album coming out named Lovers & Liars which features songs from their first two EPs. Check out Do It All Again and What She Said.

Cliff Diving (Italy)
Emotional punks Cliff Diving are a three piece band from Italy. On their EP Aporia they showcase some crunching guitars, a pounding drumbeat and a delicate vocal that carries the melody of the song. Check out The Youth Of A Reckless Racoon and The Saddest Summer.

DeeCRACKS (Austria)
DeeCracks are an Austrian pop punk band who formed in 2003 currently signed to Monster Zero Records. During their musical career they have released a couple of full length albums as well as a handful of 7” all of which are full of Ramonescore pop punk gems. Check out Monkey Boy and Turn Up Your Radio.

Despite Everything are a melodic hardcore band from Greece who formed in 2009. Their debut album The Dawn Chorus is one of the best albums in this genre I have heard in a long time, it will get you thinking, banging your head, punching the sky and singing at the top of your voice in equal measure. Check out Ink Scattered and Here Goes Nothing.

Dowzer (Holland)
Dowzer are a pop punk band from Holland. Influenced by the likes of New Found Glory, Descendents and Broadway Calls Dowzer are the perfect choice for some fun summer listening. Something I really enjoyed are the male/female harmonies on many of their super catchy choruses. Check out No Way Out and My Number One.

Germany’s The Evil O’Brians play some fun horror bubblegum pop punk music. Singing songs about zombies, vampires and love whilst being influenced by the Lookout Records era of pop punk bands such as The Mr T Experience, The Groovie Ghoulies and Screeching Weasel. Check out X-Ray Eyes and First Rule On The Beach.

F.O.D. (Belgium)
Belgian skate punks F.O.D. formed in 2008. In 2013 they released their debut album Ontario which featured sixteen songs about life, kids, music and society. Their music features catchy melodies and vocal harmonies very much in the same vein as NOFX, Lagwagon and Bad Religion. Listen to Carry On and Needful Words.

Fightball (Germany)
Fightball are a straight forward punk rock band from Germany with a refreshing sound. The lead singer has one of my favourite voices in punk rock as he belts out anthem after anthem. Fans of the Street Dogs will love Fightball. With a new album due out in 2015 check out Gentrify and Crossroads.

The Hallingtons (Norway)
The Hallingtons are a three piece pop punk band from Oslo, Norway. Inspired by the likes of The Ramones, The Lillingtons and Teenage Bottlerocket; The Hallingtons play three chord pop punk fast and relentlessly. Check out Are You Part Of The Human Race? and Aim For The Stars.

Now listening to Out Of Time by Flav Giorgini