Friday, 30 September 2016

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: September 2016

This is the September edition of the Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist featuring tracks that Dan, Emma, Omar and myself have been listening to this month.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Top Tens: Emma's Top Ten Acoustic Artists

Sam Russo
One of the graveliest voices of acoustic punk rock, Sam Russo is one of the very best – hence why he made the list! Russo is a musician best experienced live with an eager audience singing – or yelling – along at the top of their lungs. He just gets better and better each time too, which isn’t something you can say about all artists ‘Soooometimes!’

Patrick Craig
Patrick Craig has fast become one of my favourite UK solo musicians. Ever since I saw him play with Joe McCorriston and John Allen, who are also solo acoustic artists (sorry you didn’t make the list, guys), I’ve been a fan. His debut album, True Story, released earlier this year is packed full of honest, heartfelt and highly relatable songs. There’s hints of Frank Turner, Wil Wagner and Ducking Punches in Patrick’s music but the stories within the songs are definitely his own.

Billy The Kid
I’m a little bit ashamed to say that Billy The Kid is the only female artist that has made this list. This is mostly because I’ve grown up listening to far more male musicians than female – despite being female myself! – and because I’m generally a fan of gravelly vocals (see Sam Russo, above). Billy Pettinger’s voice is certainly more grace than gravel, but she writes some really amazing songs. She’s punk at heart though – if you saw Against Me! at the Electric Ballroom in 2014 then you may recall Billy’s awesome duet with Laura for Borne On The FM Waves Of A Heart, complete with stage dive.

Gaz Brookfield
‘Gaz Brookfield’ was a name I'd heard of but not actually listened to until around this time last year, when I saw him as support act for Ferocious Dog at my local music venue (and I probably enjoyed his set even more than theirs). His down-to-earth, honest and hardworking ethic – touring non-stop, as heard in the song ‘Land Pirate's Life’ – instantly made me a fan.

Andrew Cream
Andrew Cream has released one of my favourite albums of the year so far, Self-Portrait. The album is a bit more of a full-band affair than his previous releases but it still contains the same sincere and inspiring lyricism. His song ‘Forever, In A Good Way’, from an earlier release, has been special to me since the first time I heard it.

Tim Vantol
I first came across Dutchman Tim Vantol due to his involvement in European legs of The Revival Tour, Chuck Ragan's live music camaraderie, and it was alongside Chuck that I saw him for the first time. He was brilliant and totally won me and the crowd over. Trust me, you can't listen to ‘If We Go Down, We Will Go Together’ and resist the urge to sing along.

Dave Hause
Punks, don’t hate me… but I’ve listened to Dave Hause’s solo material far more than I have The Loved Ones. I have Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour to thank, again, for giving me the chance to see Mr Hause live for the first time. His debut album, Resolutions, was and still is one of my favourite albums – ‘Prague (Revive Me)’ is my favourite song, although it has quite a different sound. I’m also really excited for his third album that I believe is in the making.

PJ Bond
My most played artist of 2015 was without a doubt PJ Bond. I discovered him after he signed to Xtra Mile for the release of Where Were You?, an album that I thought was brilliant, but it was some of his earlier more raw-sounding tracks that really made me fall in love. He’s an excellent live performer and also a really lovely chap – he dedicated a song to myself and my parents (also acoustic punk fans) when we saw him last summer.

Chuck Ragan
I wasn’t going to include Chuck Ragan on this list (other than the previous two times I have alluded to him already!) as he’s not really a typically ‘acoustic’ artist, certainly not on his last album, Til Midnight, where he played full-band Americana-style music. He’s usually accompanied by at least double bass and violin as well. However, after talking to Colin, I was persuaded to put him on the list. Chuck is after all one of my favourite musicians, acoustic or otherwise, with one of my favourite voices of all time.

Frank Turner
I know some of you reading this may think that it is a bit of a cop out to put Frank Turner on this list, as he’s not really a solo acoustic artist anymore but there’s no denying that it’s where he started out… well, after Million Dead. If you know me then you’ll probably know how much I love Frank’s music and it was his 2006 Campfire Punkrock EP that I first heard – although not actually in 2006. Nashville Tennessee is still one of my favourite Frank Turner tracks, even if the lyric ‘And the only person in my band is me’ is not so true anymore.

You can listen to my ‘Top Ten Acoustic Artists’ playlist here:

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Album Review: Pour Out by These Minds (by Dan Peters)

I’ve come to relish receiving promos in the (e)mail from Disconnect Disconnect Records. They’ve been putting some really quality music into the world with the likes of Bottler and Larrakia and also putting on killer touring bands like The Decline. A promo from them, even if I haven’t heard of the band before is like a Nintendo seal of Quality.

So it came to be that I found myself listening to Pour Out by These Minds. I popped that bad boy in fired up In My Way which in it’s own way started with riffs, rhythm and vocals that instantly told me “you’re gonna be listening to some pop punk here”. Take that as you will, and if you’re not a fan of gruff pop punk then you will instantly know you’ve come to the wrong place and you can move on, no harm, no foul. If like me you live and breath pop punk then you’ll probably find this to be a solid fun opener which is well crafted and while it holds to genre staples stands out enough to be interesting.

After that, much to my delight, things speed up. I’m a sucker for fast punk rock and this has a breakneck opening before falling back into what after a few minutes I’ve picked out as the These Minds signature sound. Things continue on much in this same way for the rest of the EP. These Minds have nailed their formula down and they know what works. Nothing here is over produced or sickly but at the same time it is lovingly crafted and expertly delivered. Sometimes I don’t want to hear something blazingly original, I want to hear a genre I know and love played as well as it can be. This is what you get here.

If you like gruff pop punk then this will definitely be for you, as it is for me. Once again Disconnect Disconnect have added a fearsome good record onto their books and helped cement themselves as a label much worth paying attention to.

Pre-order Pour Out here:

Like These Minds here:

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Gig Review: ONSIND at DIY Space For London (Last Ever 176 Show) 23/9/16

Friday the 23rd of September was going to be a very bittersweet night for me. On one hand, one of my favourite bands ONSIND were playing a headline show at DIY Space For London. On the other, it was the last ever 176 Records show. This made me sad as Angela has been putting on the best punk shows in London for a number of years. For me 176 has been a huge part in not only discovering so many amazing bands but also quite inspirational in supporting the punk scene. But more on that later - ON WITH THE SHOW!

We were running a little late to get to the show but we managed to catch a few songs of the opening band, Apartments. The duo from Belfast, via Leeds, make one hell of a fantastic racket. With just an electric guitar and drums, vocals are shared between the two members and I was amazed by the raw emotion that is poured out of every song. A great start to the night.

Following Apartments were a four piece band named Molar. This London band feature two different vocalists, one of the guitar players and the drummer. This was my first time hearing Molar and I was pleasantly surprised by their sound. It was much harder than I expected and was a sound I don't really hear much of. There was a great rawness to it which really caught my attention.

Next up was a band named Break-Ups that both Emma and I feel like we should have seen a lot but have never managed it. Despite this between us we have seen guitarist Luke and bass player Alfie play solo on separate occasions. Basically seeing Break-Ups was well over do and it was definitely worth the wait. This three piece play some fantastic heart on their sleeve sing-a-long punk rock. Alfie and Luke take turns with lead vocals and both sound great, even better when they are singing together. Sadly, because the night was running slightly late Break-Ups had to hurry through their set but that didn't stop them putting on a great performance. I can't wait to see them again.

The final support act were Kamikaze Girls, who have recently released a new EP named Sad. I reviewed Sad and loved it and I had heard so many good things about Kamikaze Girls live so was very much looking forward to experiencing it for myself. WOW! What a performance it was - Lucinda and Conor are both incredible performers and write some of the most powerful and emotional songs out there at the moment. It always pleases me when a band who are great on record completely blow me away with their live performance. Lucinda is a special talent, an incredible guitarist with a voice that effortlessly switches from a clean soft vocal to a raw, snarling howl that will knock your socks off. There set was moving. Make sure to catch Kamikaze Girls live!

Finally it was time for the evening’s headline act and the final band to play a 176 show, the amazing ONSIND. The acoustic punk duo from Pity Me in Durham have long been a favourite of mine and I always get so excited to see them play. It seems like ages since ONSIND played in London as well so it felt well over do. Starting with the opening track of last album, Anaesthesiology (spelt correctly first time - hooray for me!), the crowd at DIY Space sang along instantly for Pokémon City Limits and continued to sing as loud as possible throughout the entirety of ONSIND’s set. Something I really love about an ONSIND set is that it feels like every person in the crowd is as much a part of the band are as Daniel and Nathan are. Obvious set highlights were Mildred, Dissatisfactions and of course the "hit" Heterosexuality Is A Construct. The song that really stood out to me though was BA77. BA77 has the lyrics "I'm Sick Of Border, Sick Of Nations, Sick Of Racist Immigration." Hearing a room full of people belting out those lyrics amidst the currently political climate in the UK gives me hope that there are still plenty of people out there who believe in doing the right thing - despite all of the atrocities that are happening. ONSIND are just an incredible band who really should be heard by everyone. Not only do they write really important songs about mental health, social and gender politics and racism that not only entertain but really educate. They're also a pretty kick-ass punk rock band.

ONSIND brought an end to somewhat of an era of punk rock shows in London. 176 shows are sadly no more. Over the years, Angela has put on the best shows featuring some of the best in UK bands (Muncie Girls, Bangers, Great Cynics, Above Them, Zatopeks, Crazy Arm, Caves, Bear Trade, Martha, ONSIND and Apologies, I Have None to name a few) and some of the best in international bands (Direct Hit, RVIVR, Iron Chic, Smoke Or Fire, Dear Landlord, Nothington, Arms Aloft, Red City Radio, Timeshares, Tender Defender and Mikey Erg to name a few more). Every single 176 show I've attended has been just a wonderful time. As good as the bands always have been, something that has always stood out to me is how welcoming and friendly the shows are. For years I went to shows by myself and never once did I feel out of place or like I didn't belong at a 176 show. Angela deserves a lot of credit and should be immensely proud the wonderful atmosphere and community that was made at her shows. DIY Space For London mentions the term "safe space" a lot in their manifesto, for me every 176 show I ever went to felt like a safe space. The role of a promoter is often overlooked at a show and I can't begin to imagine the amount of energy, time and work goes into putting on a show. So for anyone to do so, especially when it's not their full time job, must be a great strain on their lives. I fully respect Angela's decision to move on to something new. Thank you Angela and 176 Records, your shows will be really missed.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Album Review: The Decay by Colder Bones (by Emma Prew)

Matt Awbery is a musician from Cheshire, previously performing under his own name and now using the name Colder Bones. He describes his sound as sad, punk-influenced acoustic music and has just released his first EP, under the new guise, titled The Decay and recorded by Steve Millar, AKA Arms & Hearts. The EP is out on Local Colour Records  and is available now from Bandcamp – pay what you want.

The first of three tracks on The Decay is titled I Still Believe (and is not a cover of the Frank Turner song of the same name). The first thing that initially stood out to me when listening to I Still Believe was just how distinct Matt’s voice is. His vocals reminded me a lot of The National’s Matt Barninger – and probably a few other musicians that I can’t quite put my finger on – but either way, great voice. Vocally and musically there is certainly a sad tone to it but the lyrics hint at optimism a little – ‘Well I still believe that best friends succeed while people like you tear through, Til the end.’

I’m Sorry, the second track, opens with a stop-start repeated acoustic guitar riff. I must admit I had to check that the song hadn’t just stopped playing but it certainly builds a sense of atmosphere. The stop-start style continues throughout the majority of the song with the melancholic vocals joining the guitar, between pauses – ‘I’m sorry, That I was not enough, I’m sorry, That I am not enough.’ Towards the end of the song there is a stretch of acoustic guitar and vocals without the disjointed feel – sort of what the rest of the song was building towards.

The last track on The Decay is a track of the same name… Decay. It’s probably the most stripped back of the three songs on the EP – if you can call a song on an acoustic EP stripped back! What I mean is that the acoustic guitar is fairly quiet and gentle with Matt’s vocals being the main emphasis of the song. There’s no denying that, as the man states himself, he is a writer of distinctly sad sounding songs but they are so full of emotion. ‘Tell me that it hurts, Tell me you’ve be crying, So that I can close my eyes…’

If sad acoustic music is your sort of thing then I suggest you check out Colder Bones on Facebook here.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Dan vs California (by Dan Peters)

My Review that’s not a Review of Blink-182: California.

Honestly I tried so hard. I really did. But not once have I had the energy to get all the way through the thing. Instead, because I want to get on with listening to the new Guttermouth EP some more, here are a selection of thoughts I have on the album:

  • Cynical is my favourite and least favourite Blink song of all time. Favourite because it’s a fantastic back to form fun, fast enjoyable song. Least favourite because it’s like a spit in the face to me. A “look what we could have done but instead this will finish in 1:40 and then you have to listen to Bored To Death”.
  • Bored To Death is the worst.
  • The song after… (checks album track listing) She’s Out Of Her Mind is also fun, Then Los Angeles is not - are they deliberately doing it?
  • Say what you will about Tom, at least he was distinctive, I honestly struggle to guess where Matt and Mark switch over with all that autotune of the vocals.
  • Speaking of Los Angeles, why have you got so many songs named after towns? It just makes me not remember which one is which.
  • Built This Pool is another kick in the face. “Hey” Mark says with a huge grin, “Remember when this band had a wicked sense of humour?”. “No” says the Record Exec, “Get on with songs called No Future instead”.
  • Rabbit Hole is cool. I really, really like Rabbit Hole. If that was the second track on the album I probably would have been won over enough that I would have forgiven all the boring forgettable stuff.
  • I heard many people say something good about Brohemian Rhapsody but I never got around to listening to it and I’m not motivated enough to care to do it now.
  • I put this on for a full week every day and I can’t sing the choruses to any of the tracks except Out of Her Mind and Rabbit Hole.

Look I’m being mean, and you may of course take this whole thing with a huge pinch of salt but here’s my honest opinion in the conclusion. Blink had enough material for an incredible EP here but there just seems like so much filler that it dilutes good stuff. It’s not that bad, but there’s so much out there more worth your time/money/attention.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Venues

Over the years I have managed to visit many different venues to watch punk and ska music. Sixty-four different ones to be exact - yes, I am that cool that I've kept track of them. Obviously living an hour outside of London, in sunny Colchester, the majority of venues I've visited are in London. But I've also visited various venues in Norwich, Manchester, Dundee, Brighton, Oxford, Plymouth, Bristol, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Kingston and of course Colchester. I thought it might be a fun to put together a list of my top ten favourite venues I've visited so far. (Not in any particular order).

The Underworld, Camden
The Underworld is by far the venue I have visited the most due to my love of punk music. For a few years, Camden Carnage would take place over a week in August at The Underworld. A who's who of the punk rock world would play shows and I'd spend the majority of my week sweating and shouting along. (These gigs still happen although not under the 'Carnage' name nor over just a week.) The stage is placed in the corner of the decently sized room and you are able to see the stage from wherever you decide to stand, whether it be at the front, at the back or on the raised area around the floor.

The Fighting Cocks, Kingston
The home of Banquet Records shows is the Fighting Cocks. A tiny backroom of a pub in Kingston is not really where you might expect to find some of the best shows in the country but Banquet Records have made this place so special. If you love small, sweaty shows full with some of the most passionate music lovers around, The Fighting Cocks is the place for you. Some of my favourite shows ever - including Iron Chic, Off With Their Heads, Masked Intruder and The Smith Street Band - have been at The Fighting Cocks.

The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch
Situated in London's trendy Shoreditch area, The Old Blue Last is the premier small venue. If a band wants to play an intimate London show, The OBL is often the place to play. Bands such as The Menzingers, Anti-Flag, Cancer Bats, Andrew WK, Hot Water Music and, erm, Kylie Minogue have all played gigs there. It's a tiny venue, with one of the smallest stages around but there is something special about the Old Blue Last.

Our Black Heart, Camden
Situated just round the corner from the Underworld, Our Black Heart is one of Camden's best kept secrets. Its music venue room is upstairs and is one of those strange rooms that feels tiny when it's empty but when it's full it feels massive! The room is a long one, with the stage at one end and the bar at the other. I've had the pleasure of seeing bands such RVIVR, The Mahones, Elway, Bangers and The Smith Street Band at the Black Heart. All were truly memorable nights.

The Owl Sanctuary, Norwich
In a relatively short space of time The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich has become the premier venue for underground rock music. After originally opening in 2014, earlier this year the Owl was forced to move venues. Despite this setback it has flourished. The biggest and best names in punk rock, based in the UK and internationally, have graced the stage. With a big emphasis on independence and the community the Owl is a blueprint for what all new venues should be.

Zombie Shack, Manchester
I've only been to Manchester's Zombie Shack once but I quickly fell in love with it. A new addition to this year's Manchester Punk Festival venues, Zombie Shack is themed like a tiki bar with additional zombies. It's only a small room, which is basically a loft for MPF main venue Sound Control, but it is a fun and quirky place to visit.

Urban Bar, Whitechapel
Another small room upstairs of a pub - there's a theme here. I'm not sure that I've ever been to a gig here and not left completely covered in sweat. That's good though as it is always a good show. Urban Bar is a great place for DIY promoters to put on gigs with sales from the upstairs bar going towards paying the bands. Buy drinks upstairs!

Electric Ballroom, Camden
I've said many times that I'm not keen on bigger venues. There's always an exception though and in this list it's the Electric Ballroom in Camden. As you enter the building and head down the stairs you are encountered by a huge (compared to what I'm used to) floor space and stage. The stage is nice and high up as well meaning you can get a decent view of the stage from wherever you stand.

Sound Control, Manchester
Sound Control is the home of the Manchester Punk Festival. Comprising of three different floors with rooms of different sizes, it's the perfect place to host a small festival. Amazingly all three rooms are absolutely great for live music, all have great sound and excellent viewing points. It's a great way to get fit as well - going up and down the stairs all day on the day of the festival to see different bands!

DIY Space For London
A venue that, at the time of posting this, I have only been to once but it just had to be on this list. DIY Space For London is a volunteer-run crowdfunded space in South East London. By day it's a space for creative work, meetings and a social place and by night it runs screenings, talks and of course live music. The first time I went to DSFL I was surprised by the size of the place and just how organised and how well run everything was. DIY Space For London is a place that all the volunteers who have invested so much time in making it work, and London in general, should be proud of.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Album Review: Mr Splashy by Wonk Unit

Wonk Unit are releasing a brand new album. This is exciting news in the world of punk rock music. The much adored Londoner's new album, Mr Splashy, comes out on TNSrecords on the 23rd of September. I was lucky enough to get an early copy.

Mr Splashy starts out with the song Awful Jeans. Starting out with Wonk Unit leader Alex, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of punk rock. If a song comes on shuffle that you don't recognise, as soon as you hear him sing you know it's Wonk Unit. Awful Jeans is a fun punk rock song about a terrible pair of trousers. Wonk Unit aren't always the most serious of bands, but bands don't always have to be deadly serious. It's good to have fun. That being said the lyric "There's Kiddies In The Sweatshop, For Primark And Top Shop, Just So You Can Wear Those Awful Jeans" is kind of hard hitting. Up next is a song named I Told You So. This song has a much more traditional punk sound to it, something that long time Wonk Unit fans will know they often stray from. I Told You So is a track about being right when someone has ignored advice you've given to them. The advice given in this instance is about having rubbish tattoos. I found this quite relatable - a friend of mine has terrible tattoos that he regrets. I imagine most people have a friend like this. Bin Him is a foot tapping, head nodding, hand clapper of a song. It's a song about leaving someone who is abusing you in a relationship. Heavy stuff. I think it's a song about empowering people to find the strength to stand up for themselves when times are unimaginably hard. Something I really enjoyed about the song was the addition of a female vocal to accompany Alex, this adds a lot of power to the song.

The fourth song on Mr Splashy is titled And You Call This Normal. And You Call This Normal feels as much like a poem as it does a song. If you have seen Wonk Unit live you will know that Alex often recites poems on stage between songs so it's no surprise for something like this to pop up on the album. This poem is beautifully accompanied by some acoustic guitar and some cello that really pull on your heart strings. A really powerful and emotional song. Silly Voices is a lovely love song. There is plenty of the traditional Wonk Unit lyrical charm in the song. Lines such as "But We Just Work, There Ain't No Drama, Life Ain't A Fairytale And There's No Palava" and "In Bed Watching The Netflix, Watching The Bake Off, Holding The World At Bay, I Like My Humour Gentle, Because The World's Mental" as well as the simple chorus of "You're My Bird And I'm Your Geezer" stood out. Owen Meaney is the name of the sixth song. It's also the name of a Lagwagon song but isn't a cover. Owen Meaney is a short song with minimal lyrics but is sure to get a crowd singing along loudly nonetheless. Je M'Appelle Alex brings us to the halfway point of My Splashy. I loved the beginning of the track with the crunchy guitar and Alex's vocals setting up the song. The song is about the frustration of people asking for a guest list spot at a gig when the band needs as much money from the doors as possible. This is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's a faster aggressive punk song that builds from a slow intro into a snarling, venomous banger.

The opening song on the second half of Mr Splashy is another song in the style of poem. Old Train is a song about old style trains and the fun/mischief you could get up to on them. Going again with the stripped back acoustic style. The cello in particular adds so much atmosphere to the song and the brass gives the song a much bigger feel. Ode To Summer is a fast paced punk sing-a-long. One of my favourite Wonk Unit songs ever, it's about being thankful for having a nice summer season. It's not going to change the world but it's the type of song that puts a massive smile on my face. At just one minute and thirty-one seconds long the song is quite short but there is a feeling of epicness about it. I can imagine this being a great set closer for Wonk Unit. Pale Moonlight is another different sounding song. Wonk Unit have a great skill in writing very diverse sounding music. Keeping within their distinctive punk rock sound, Wonk Unit tread slightly into a dancey/pop vibe on the track. The next track, Model On The Northern Line, is another song that sways into the pop world. The chorus in particular will be stuck in your head for days. Alex sings the lines "I Think Only In Diamonds" over and over and you will too.

Old Man sees the pace get picked up and for me this is when Wonk Unit are at their best. A straight forward punk song that you can sing and dance along with. It's yet another song that puts a great big smile on my face. The sound makes me feel very nostalgic, I can't quite put my finger on why exactly at the moment though. The penultimate track on Mr Splashy is named Hot Day You Know It and it tells the story of a hot day in London. I really liked the raw and rough sound of the music on this song, especially the distorted sound of the guitars. It gives the track slightly more of a heavy sound, something that we haven't heard on the record so far. Mr Splashy is completed with the song We Are The England. This is a song attacking all that is wrong with our country. Topics touched include propaganda in the media, selling all of our industry and the decline in apprenticeships for young people. Another stand out Wonk Unit song, not just on Mr Splashy but in their entire discography.

Mr Splashy is without a doubt my favourite Wonk Unit album yet. It shows of a lot of the strings on the Wonk Unit bow whilst always managing to sound like Wonk Unit. It's silly, thoughtful, provocative, sweet and, at all times, full of heart. Cracking job.

Order Mr Splashy here:

Like Wonk Unit here:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Art of Punk: 176 Records and Greg O’Grady

After 9 years of putting on gigs in London, Angela – the founder and overall mastermind behind the wonderful 176 Records – has decided it’s time to call it a day and move on to other things. It will be sad without the 176 shows in London but I can’t begin to imagine how much work goes into putting on gigs – and gigs with such great line-ups as hers have had – so I also understand. 

The last ever 176 show is this Friday at DIY Space for London with ONSIND, Kamikaze Girls, Break Ups, MOLAR and Apartments. As of today it is sold out, so if you didn’t get a ticket then I’m sorry but you’ll definitely be missing something special.

I will be attending the final 176 show although I must admit I have only been to a handful of the many gigs that Angela has put on over the lifetime of 176 – unfortunately I only really started going to the smaller and more DIY punk shows in the last two years. Looking back at Angela’s list compiling all the shows since April 2011, I can see that I missed a lot of great ones – and that’s just the shows under the 176 name, she was putting on various London gigs before then as well.

Angela wrote a final statement on the 176 Records blog at the end of August summing up the end of 176, which I highly recommend you go and read now. I’m just going to share the last paragraph from that blog post as she talks about the design for the 176 Records posters – which, after all, is partly what this Art of Punk post is about.

Biggest thank you to Greg O’Grady who has made 176 look so much better than I ever could. When I first met Greg I was finding pictures of animals on Google and adding some text. Whilst I thought this was good enough Greg didn’t so he rudely, without me asking, designed a poster for the RVIVR show I had coming up – telling me I was no longer allowed to use the stag poster I had expertly created.



As a designer myself, I can see why Greg felt the need to step in and help. (I may have done the same thing to Colin with this blog and the Facebook banner in particular…) I’m not sure if Greg has designed every single 176 Records poster but he’s certainly designed the majority of them, as well as the 176 Records logo that has been used since July 2013.

It would be wrong to say that all of Greg’s 176 posters look the same but there are definitely some similarities and themes than run through most of, if not all of, them. Flat blocks of colour and distinct patterns and shapes occur through most of the design. They also more often than not feature animals – perhaps a nod towards Angela’s original ‘posters’. The pug on the Bangers poster, above, has got to be one of my favourites. The pug also makes a reappearance on the last 176 poster – x 2!

I’ll miss seeing 176 poster designs but most of all I’ll miss going to the shows and I know I won’t be the only one. Thank you Angela and Greg.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Album Review: Hardcore!! Bootlegs!! by Little Sparta OX1

Little Sparta OX1 are a new band with a lot of promise. Describing themselves as middle-classhole punks, the three piece combine a good mix of folk, punk and ska. In June they released a new four track EP named Hardcore!! Bootlegs!!.

The first song on the EP is named Topshop Marxists. Topshop Marxists is acoustic track featuring guitar and violin. It goes along at a wonderful up-tempo pace and is full of life. Lead singer and guitarist Joe has a fantastic vocal for this kind of music. It's a good mix of pop punk and a rough edge. On Topshop Marxists he sings about the higher classes believing that they are better than lower classes. There is a fantastic gang vocal section towards the end of the track that put a massive smile on my face. I really love gang vocals and this makes me think of Little Sparta OX1 in a small club with a room full of people singing back at them. It's wonderful. Next up is 0240. This song has a slower tempo to it with Joe's voice displaying more anger than on the previous track. He sings about realising you're not treating people as well as you should and wanting to apologise. Violinist Paula does a fantastic job on the track - giving 0240 a bigger, yet more sombre, sound. The third song on the EP is titled Please God Is It Like This (At All)? This track sees the paced pick up again with some speedy guitar playing combined with some more melodic violin playing. It's about playing shows in small towns to small crowds and loving it. The lyrics "I'd Fucking Die Tomorrow For A Heaven Just Like This, Please God Is It Like This At All?" really sum up the entire song. There is a real sing-a-long charm to the song. Folk punk is at its best when it can get a whole room of people singing along together in unison - this track could do this with ease. The final song on Hardcore!! Bootlegs!! is named Borussia Dortmund. This track is almost ballad like in delivery and I love it because of this. Joe's vocals are fantastic on this track. It's a song about individuality. I really loved the lyric "one size fits no-one at all." That's a tattoo worthy lyric, if I was brave enough to get a tattoo. Borussia Dortmund is just such a beautifully written song, I can't really say the right words to really do it the proper justice. Just go and listen to it.

Go and check out this hidden gem of an EP. I really look forward to seeing Little Sparta OX1 going from strength to strength and becoming a well known name in the UK's punk scene. I will be championing them to anybody who wants to listen.

Stream and download Hardcore!! Bootlegs!! here:

Like Little Sparta OX1 here:

Friday, 16 September 2016

Fest 15: Preview 2

Every year The Fest in Gainesville, Florida, features not only the best bands from America but also plenty of talent from all over the punk rock world. Over the past few years the very best of UK punk rock have played the festival including the likes of Muncie Girls, Great Cynics, Don Blake, Caves, Leagues Apart, Bear Trade, Gnarwolves, Pale Angels, The Murderburgers, Woahnows and Frank Turner. This year, like always, there is great selection of bands travelling across the Atlantic to Gainesville.

Wonk Unit are one of the most talked about bands from the UK scene. The London based group have grown a cult following in the UK and will be back in Gainesville for the second year in a row. Wonk Unit are like no punk band you've ever seen before, practically reinventing the sound whilst remaining very true to their punk sensibilities. Always incredibly entertaining live, you're guaranteed to come away with a massive smile on your face. Another of the UK's brightest punk bands Ducking Punches are also returning to The Fest for the second year running. The Norwich based five piece's folk tinged punk music tackles subjects such as love, death, addiction and mental health. Frontman Dan Allan manages to write about these difficult subjects in a way that makes you feel uplifted come the end of the song - he makes you feel like you're not alone in your struggles. Expect some big sing-alongs at both the acoustic and full band Ducking Punches shows.

Leeds based Jake and the Jellyfish are one of my favourite bands from the UK. Combining punk, ska and folk music, they have a wonderful ability to get you dancing and singing along whatever style they are playing. Lead singer Jake McAllister has a brilliantly distinct voice that will grab your attention from the outset. I believe that Jake and the Jellyfish will also be doing full band and acoustic sets at The Fest. Both are not to be missed. London five piece Ghouls are one of the best live bands in the UK at the moment. Playing pop punk music with a healthy dose of brass, these five young men will blow you away with their high energy set. Having played many of Europe's top festivals including 2000 Trees, Mighty Sounds and Hit The Deck, this will be Ghouls first time in the USA and are sure to make a big impression.

Some of the finest of UK acoustic punk music is also represented at The Fest. For me the most notable artist is Edinburgh's angriest young man Billy Liar. Billy plays a spellbinding brand of acoustic punk rock music guaranteed to captivate any audience. Billy plays all his song with so much emotion you can tell how invested he is in what he does. Such a brilliant songwriter, musician and performer. Another of the UK's brightest acoustic performers is Andrew Cream. This year at Fest he is actually playing with his full band so I would expect that is set will pack even more of a punch. His latest album, Self-Portrait, is a Colin's Punk Rock World favourite and we're looking forward to hearing songs from that album played live in Florida. At the beginning of this year I had the pleasure of seeing The Barnett Brothers lives at The Lexington in London. Supporting that night was Eastbourne's Brightr. Since starting out in 2015 he has toured everywhere playing his gloomy emotional pop songs picking up plenty of fans along the way.

Another of the most talked about newer bands in the scene are London duo Kamikaze Girls. Last month they released their fantastic new EP Sad - an EP about it being okay to feel sad. Musically they play raw, fuzzy alternative rock music and have a powerful and energetic live show. Aerial Salad are a band from Manchester who I actually only discovered because they are playing The Fest. They are a three piece indie punk band with a hint of 90s Green Day snottiness about them. In 2016 they have released two EPs - Stop Pushing and Roach - both of which are fantastic.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Less Than Jake Songs

When people of my age first start getting into punk music the majority of the time the way in is through bands like The Offspring, Green Day and Blink 182. For me however is was through Gainesville's ska-punk legends Less Than Jake. Next month not only will I get to see them yet again in London but I will be travelling to their home town to see them at The Fest. Because of this I decided to do a top ten list of my favourite Less Than Jake songs.

Before I start, a special mention goes to the song I'm A Dude which featured in the film Good Burger. It's a bit of a novelty song but I've always found it very uplifting and always puts the biggest smile on my face. I've seen Less Than Jake play this live as well which was awesome.

10. My Money Is On The Long Shot (See The Light)
When See The Light was released in 2013 it was my favourite Less Than Jake album since Anthem was released in 2003. My Money Is On The Long Shot was the stand out track from the album and was an example of Less Than Jake reverting to their third wave ska roots. The band made one of my all time favourite music videos for the song as well, where they got a massive collection of their friends to mime the song. Watch that here.

9. Liquor Store (Pezcore)
Liquor Store is proper old school Less Than Jake, released on their debut album, Pezcore, all the way back in 1995. This early song is where it all began for the band and is still a firm favourite twenty one years later.

8. My Very Own Flag (Pezcore)
I first heard My Very Own Flag on a Moon Ska Records compilation when I was first really getting into ska punk. I only had heard Less Than Jake's newer albums, Border and Boundaries and Anthem at the time so this was my first exposure to real old school Less Than Jake. It's a song about not liking the rules and regulations laid down by the older generations and wanting to make your own rules. There is a fantastic whoa-oh section to close out the song that really gets a crowd singing loudly.

7. The Science Of Selling Yourself Short (Anthem)
If ever a song was going to be a radio friendly hit for Less Than Jake The Science Of Selling Yourself Short is that song. First Appearing on Anthem, the song sees the band slow things down (something they rarely do) and play a sing-a-long reggae style. Interestingly the song was a last minute idea for Anthem and has turned out to be the band's most well known song.

6. Look What Happened (Borders and Boundaries)
One of my favourite things about Less Than Jake is the dual Vocals of Chris and Roger. On Look What Happened (which was also released on Anthem) they really make the song shine. With Chris taking the verse and Roger the chorus it gives the song a much bigger feel. Live this song is an absolute banger, massive sing-a-longs, plenty of dancing and a break down and build towards an ending that will blow the roof of anywhere that it's being played.

5. Al's War (Hello Rockview)
Al's War is the final song on arguably Less Than Jake's most popular album Hello Rockview. To my knowledge this is one of the first times they really went away from the ska punk sound that has made them so popular. This is an anthemic punk rock song that proves that Less Than Jake aren't one trick ponies.

4. Pete Jackson Is Getting Married (Borders and Boundaries)
Pete Jackson Is Getting Married is one of Less Than Jake's most underrated songs in my humble opinion. Bass player, Roger, has for a long time had my favourite vocal in the world of punk music and it's at its very best on Pete Jackson. It's a fast paced punk song that has energy flooding out of it. This is everything I love about punk music condensed down into just under two minutes. It's fast, it's fun, it's a bit silly and it makes me smile.

3. Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts (Pezcore/Losing Streak)
I don't think my top three will actually surprise anyone and it is probably the same for many other Less Than Jake fans. Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts appears on Pezcore and Losing Streak and has long been a fan favourite. With its building intro and its big chorus, the song can get a Less Than Jake crowd brilliantly rowdy. Sometimes I feel like Less Than Jake's brass section doesn't quite get the credit it deserves, on Johnny Quest they are at their best, adding so much to the sound of the song.

2. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads (Hello Rockview)
On another day this song could have easily been number one on this list. It's a classic, not just for Less Than Jake but for the genre of ska punk as a whole. I love this song so much that I based my first email address on it. It's an instant sing-a-long and circle pit starter. As soon as you hear the audio clip of a Victor Lundberg speech titled An Open Letter To My Teenage Son you know things are about to get exciting. The song itself is about not judging people for the things that they believe and not being afraid of being judged for your beliefs.

1. Gainesville Rock City (Borders and Boundaries)
Whilst my friends and I were in college, during the summer holidays we would make a point of going to the beach every Monday. This tradition became known as Beach Monday. For the journey I made a mix CD which had Gainesville Rock City as track number one. As soon as that key turns, the engine starts and the one two punch of horns and guitar riffs come in you know you're in for a high energy party. Chris and Roger's dual vocals are at their very best on this track which is an ode to their hometown of Gainesville.

I actually surprised myself a little bit with this list. I figured I'd have a lot more tracks from Losing Streak and Hello Rockview. I consider them my favourite Less Than Jake albums and are generally considered classics. I guess I like them best as a whole with many of my other favourite LTJ song popping up throughout their discography.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Gig Review: PUP at The Dome 9/9/16 (by Emma Prew)

Every now and then there’s a band that everyone seems to be raving about in the world of punk rock and for a while now it has been Toronto’s PUP*. Partly to see what all the fuss was about and partly because he had seen them (and enjoyed them) as a support act before, Colin suggested that we go along to their London show. It was a Friday night gig and, at the time, our September gig calendar was pretty empty so I said ‘sure, why not?’. It was after that that I actually took the time to listen to PUP – mostly their latest album The Dream Is Over – and I did indeed enjoy it so was looking forward to seeing them live.

Opening up for PUP on their UK tour were one of my favourite UK punk acts of the last year, Shit Present. I’ve seen them several times recently (and several other times before that) but that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to seeing them again any less. Opening with Sick Of Me, a track off of their upcoming EP and one that was released to the world last month, it was a little odd seeing the band on such a large stage but they didn’t seem at all daunted. They played a good balance of songs from their first self-titled EP and the new release (out in November), all of which were well received – and deservedly so. I’ve just pre-ordered said new EP, Misery + Disaster, and look forward to seeing them play again soon.

Following on from Shit Present were fellow Canadians (to PUP, not Shit Present) Solids, from Montreal. I’d not listened to the band at all before so had no idea what to expect – always a bit risky when you know you’re planning on reviewing the gig afterwards! Thankfully I knew it’d be okay as soon as the three-piece, consisting of two guitarists and a drummer (no bass player), burst into their set with a loud and melodic sort of musical interlude. In fact, during this interlude I turned to Colin and we both did a little nod of approval. Solids play a very grungey brand of punk rock with mesmerising melodies. It’s certainly not my go-to style of music but it was enjoyable to watch live. As I looked around me, I found that The Dome was packed and everyone was getting into Solids – it was a great sight to see.

And so, the crowd was suitably pumped for the headlining act and we didn’t have long to wait before it was PUP’s turn to take to The Dome’s stage. The band came on stage to some hip-hop music which I have to say was a little bit weird – and I can’t say what exactly it was as I’m not a hip-hop fan – but all weirdness was cast aside when PUP surged into their set with If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You I Will, the opening track from The Dream Is Over. Then, just like on the album, they flawlessly flowed into DVP – it was great. I have to admit, I’m a little bit addicted to the song DVP which I think is mostly due to hearing it for the first time whilst watching the brilliant video game-themed video. This was also the first song of their set that had stage diving – Colin said to me beforehand that he thought the first stage dives would be in the first song, so obviously I bet that it would be second song or later. Unsurprisingly there were many more stage dives throughout PUP’s set and it was great to see so many people having such a good time – I don’t think I’ve been to a venue as large as The Dome for a while. Singer and guitarist Stefan stated that it was their largest ever headline show outside of North America and the fact that it was sold out as well really goes to show how many people love PUP, in London alone. There was never a dull moment during their set and I have to say that they really do excel performing live. They were joined on stage by Louis from Solids who took over singing duties on one song (I forget which, sorry) – he’s actually the drummer in Solids. But a highlight for me was during the ‘encore’ when PUP invited Thom of Shit Present (and Gnarwolves) on stage to sing the rather venomous vocals on Old Wounds, while Stefan got a chance to crowd-surf whilst playing his guitar. It was definitely worth sticking around for and a great end to the gig!

We went to see PUP to see if the ‘hype’ that has surrounded them was justifiable and, having now seen them live for myself, I think it probably is. They may not be my new favourite band but they put on an excellent show and have some great songs.

*Apparently ‘Pup’ has to be written in all caps at all time.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Gig Review: Apologies, I Have None at the Old Blue Last 7/9/16

You probably know this already but I absolutely love Apologies, I Have None. Their recently released second album Pharmacie is already a firm favourite of mine. It's a powerful and emotional piece of work packed with fantastic lyrics and musicianship. Last week they held an album release show at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch with long time pal Sam Russo and new hardcore band Group Of Man. Of course this was a gig I couldn't miss!

Opening the evening were post-hardcore band Group Of Man. Group Of Man are a band that I had never heard of previous to this gig so was quite intrigued to hear what they were like. After a fantastic musical intro some intense hardcore shouting took me slightly by surprise. It took me a few songs to really get into Group Of Man but once I was in I was definitely in. Group Of Man are clearly a talented bunch of musicians destined for big things.

Sam Russo was up next and this offered up a complete switcheroo in styles. Russo's trademark soft, gravelly storytelling style of songwriting is always completely captivating. For the majority of the people who were filling up the Old Blue Last anyway. Annoyingly, as is often the case with acoustic artists you can sometimes hear people at the back talking between songs. I don't know why people can't just save their conversations for when people aren't trying to enjoy a very, very good performance. Russo always comes across as so natural and confident on stage with nothing seeming to faze him. He played a great selection of songs from both of his full length albums Storm and Greyhound Dreams, as well as a brand new song which I hope will be recorded soon. Russo again proved why he is considered by many as the number one acoustic punk artist.

Next it was time for the reason we were all here - the mighty Apologies, I Have None. Pharmacie felt like it was a long time in the making so for it to finally be out and to finally hear more songs from it live was quite an exciting event - I imagine as much for the band as it is for fans of the band. The Old Blue Last was now pretty much full and Josh, Joe, Simon and James didn't waste anytime launching into some new songs from Pharmacie. Opening up with my song of the year Love and Medication and following it up with Wraith, both songs already feel like established parts of the set and are very well received by the crowd. Love and Medication especially is perhaps even better when played live - Joe's drumming is just superb. Other new songs such as Goodbye Piece Of Mind, Everybody Wants To Talk About Mental Health and A Pharmacy In Paris all went down a storm. This really pleased me. Previous album London is such a classic and is completely adored so new material may not have been received quite so well at a live gig. The new stuff is just so good that this was not a problem in the slightest. It's great to hear the classics such as Sat In Vicky Park, The 26 and Long Gone but having these new songs made the set feel somehow more complete. As well as writing completely brilliant songs AIHN are also just an amazing live band. Playing with an intensity and skill that few bands can match it's impossible to take your eyes away from the stage. It's dramatic, it's emotional and it's just brilliant. It's completely draining but in the very best way imaginable. Between songs front man Josh McKenzie is hilarious, engaging in on stage banter (and often rambling) with the rest of the band and the crowd he keeps the whole room entertained.

This was my thirteenth time (yes I keep track of that kind of thing because I'm really cool) seeing Apologies, I Have None and this show was up there with the best. They are the crown jewel of the UK punk scene and, with gigs as good as this and such brilliant songs, it can't be long until they are headlining much bigger venues all around the country. If you haven't checked out Apologies, I Have None yet I suggest you take a good long look at yourself in the mirror and go and do it. You won't regret it!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Album Review: Got It Made by Guttermouth (by Dan Peters)

Have a conversation about Guttermouth and I’m sure we can mostly agree that Covered In Ants and Gusto are for casuals and weirdos respectively. Other than those later albums everything Guttermouth have done is gold dust. A sixteen year old Dan had this Guttermouth shirt and on the back it had a definition of punk rock which read “a loud, fast, and deliberately offensive style of rock music” . They really epitomised that definition and along with having the best and most genuinely hilarious live show I’ve ever seen they had the most offensive and funny songs too. I stumbled across the fact they have a brand spanking new album by pure chance and after giving a couple seconds listen to make sure it wasn’t another ‘Gusto’ I became hopelessly lost in it.

Guttermouth sound, for those who might not know, like someone got Greenday high on coke and played them on fast forward. As has been then case with many an older band coming back on the scene, this album is a return to the “glory days”. If you are an existing fan, then think Musical Monkey, Teri Yakimoto and Friendly People. For non fans listen to those albums once you finished with this. Couple the aforementioned description of punk with lyrics such as “Your wife is an inbred that married an idiot, it’s no surprise that your kids are deformed” (sung about his own father) and you have a perfect picture of Guttermouth and the measure of this EP. Everything is fast, everything is smeared with juvenile humour and Mark Adkins signature vocals and nothing lasts beyond the 2 and a half minute mark.

This is classic Guttermouth at its best. Trashy, stupid humour, breakneck beats and simple but fierce riffage all through. A lot of their charm comes down to personal taste and sense of humour but if you get it then you’ll love it.

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Friday, 9 September 2016

A Moan About Moshing

This was a column I never really wanted to write but after events at a gig recently I kind of felt like I had to. It's about moshing.

Something I really love, probably as much as anything in the UK's punk scene is the high level of respect between the audience. Everyone is always polite and friendly. If there is a bit of rowdiness during a gig it's always done in a way that doesn't end up affecting people who are happy just to stand and watch a band. Sure people do get knocked accidently but nine times out of ten there is always an apology. This has always made punk shows feel like an enjoyable and more importantly safe place to go. The punk scene is a community and a community only works if everyone is together pulling the same way. It's something I'm extremely proud to be a small part of.

That brings us to the aforementioned gig. I won't say which gig it was as I think it would be unfair to sully what was actually an outstanding gig other than one incident that really made me sad and uncomfortable. This is what happened.

Emma and I arrived at the gig a few minutes before the opening band were due to go on. Neither myself or Emma had heard of the band before but as lovers of new music we were both looking forward to checking them out. We looked around the venue, which was a tiny one, before the show actually began we and noticed something we thought was a bit odd. We didn't recognise anyone. Normally at a show you can guarantee you will recognise a good 75% of the people there from whatever awesome punk show was on a week earlier. Early on in the night this definitely wasn't the case. We didn't recognise anybody. If it wasn't for seeing the merch table we would have wondered if we were at the right gig. Eventually more and more of the "regulars" did filter in but I constantly had the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right.

Soon enough the headline act of the night took to the stage and the venue was now pretty full. The band were absolutely killing it and the crowd were getting very in to the set, nodding along and singing as loud as they possibly can. Then the "incident" happened. Some people decided to have a mosh. I assume most people reading this will know what moshing is but just in case you don't it's basically a form of dancing where you bump and bash into the people around you. I've taken part in some mosh pits before and it can be good fun but like everything there is a time and place for it and this certainly wasn't it. First of all the room was just too small and crowded to have a fun and SAFE mosh pit. It started out quite small with just some young guys getting a little rowdy until one guy decided to take it way too far!

From my view point he just looked like he was being plain violent for no reason whatsoever. All of a sudden there was a big circle in the middle of the room where he was bashing mindlessly into people. We were getting pushed back against the sides by people trying to get clear of this idiot with no respect for anyone around him. My first reaction to was to get infront of Emma so she didn't end up getting hurt. The thought of protecting somebody should never have to come into someone's mind on an evening out whatever you're doing in. I also noticed a few other girls clambering to get out of the danger zone so they didn't get clobbered by this tool. Seeing women having to run to the side to avoid getting hurt is not something that should be happening in 2016! It's completely unacceptable and really made me angry. It really has no place at a punk show or anywhere else for that matter.

Thankfully this moron was eventually restrained after a bit of pushing and shoving by some of the crowd. I don't know if he was thrown out or just decided to stop being a dick but happily that was the end of the trouble and the rest of the night was 100% fun!

It does make me ever so sad to write something like this and it is a very rare occurrence for something like this to happen. It should never happen. I'd never suggest that people shouldn't go to a punk show. Punk shows are a place for everyone. But everyone should be treated with respect. If you are a newcomer to the scene use some common sense and get a look at the lay of the land. If people clearly don't want to be part of a mosh pit, don't mosh it's pretty simple. Act accordingly. It's like going round somebody's house for the first time, you don't just put your feet up on the coffee table - that's rude. You respect the person whose house it is and the space in general. Basically the whole point of this rant is about respecting people and not being a goon at shows and making other people uncomfortable. It's not that difficult.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Album Review: Pennies For The Dead by Paper Rifles

This past July, with no fanfare whatsoever, Edinburgh acoustic punk act Paper Rifles released a new single named Pennies For The Dead. Pennies For The Dead was released via digital download or you could buy a cool USB penny which came with some bonus live tracks.

Pennies For The Dead starts out with some guitar work and some light piano playing, immediately giving the track a thoughtful feel. Then Paper Rifles' fantastic vocals come into play. He has one of my favourite voices, whether he is taking a restrained approach or really belting a tune out. This is a protest song written out of anger and frustration for the terrible year that 2016 has been politically. The final verse really stood out to me. "You Say You're Sick Of Sitting On The Fence So You Burn It Down And Build A Wall Instead, You Tell Me It's Not Time For All My Liberal Thoughts As You Count Out All The Pennies For The Dead" - it is about being stubborn and only seeing something from one side of the fence and ignoring everyone else as well as the consequences. PR's voice is in full on passion mode which does a fantastic job of getting the point across.

The second song on the single is named Bad Blood. From the outset Bad Blood has a brilliant piano melody that I can imagine a crowd happily replicating at a Paper Rifles gig. On Bad Blood PR sings about how people with the most expensive education are often unaware of how the masses feel about things, thus them not always being the correct person to run our country. This song doesn't hit the passionate highs that Pennies For The Dead does but there is a lot more forcefulness and anger in the music. You can also hear a lot of emotion throughout the track, really showing just how much PR cares about what he is singing about.

Paper Rifles only writes brilliant songs. Here are anther two. Listen to them, learn from them, sing along to them but mostly enjoy them.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Album Review: Silent Town by Talco

When I was first emailed about reviewing a ska band from Italy I was filled with excitement. One of my favourite things about doing this whole reviewing/blog thing is discovering new and exciting bands and it had been a while since I had been sent any new ska. For those who don't know ska punk was my first love in the world of punk rock music and I still love checking out new bands in the genre. The band in question are a band named Talco who have recently released an album named Silent Town. Full of the excitement of a little boy at Christmas who knows they are getting a Lego Millennium Falcon I pressed play to have a listen and quickly came across a small problem. The album is in Italian… I don't speak Italian. I have to be honest and admit I thought "I can't review this" but I kept listening anyway and really enjoyed the album so decided to give it a try anyway.

Obviously I can't talk about the meanings of any of the songs so there isn't much point me giving a song by song description of Silent Town. I can however talk about how I feel when listening to the album. From the very beginning I'm filled with energy and instantly want to dance. The horn blasts of the opening track Il Tempo start Silent Town with a bang and give you an impression on the type of musical ride you have just boarded. This just feels like a good time. It's the type of music you can't help but smile and dance along with even if you can't understand it all. Like all of the best bands, vocals come from all directions giving a fantastic sense of a party atmosphere. I can't speak highly enough about the horns on all twelve songs on the album. When I think about the best brass sections in ska punk the band I always think of is Streetlight Manifesto and the brass on Silent Town really reminds me of SM. It really drives the songs on and allows them to take a life all of their own. Before you try and pigeon hole Talco as just a ska punk band though they will surprise you. Adding a bit of folk and gypsy punk to their sound gives them a different style to many of their contemporaries. It adds a whole load of freshness to the sound which is good. I've known people to naively state that all ska sounds the same - Talco certainly prove that this isn't the case. On every listen you hear something different. Whilst writing this review I've probably listened through the album three or four times and every time something different and fantastic has caught my attention.

Despite not understanding a single word of it Silent Town is still one of the best ska albums I've heard in a while. This music should make me smile. It should make me dance. It does these things by the bucket load. It's a fantastic release. Go and take a chance and check it out.

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Monday, 5 September 2016

Album Review: Sad by Kamikaze Girls

Kamikaze Girls are a two piece punk band from Leeds and London, featuring Lucinda Livingstone on vocals and guitar and Conor Dawson on drums. The duo had a new release out on the 2nd of September titled Sad, on Bearded Punk and Wiretap Records.

The opening track on Sad is named Hexes. Starting out with a fuzzy guitar intro before blending into some harder punk music. It's not long before Lucinda's vocal joins the fray. It jumps from understated to being full of venom throughout. With the venom style being used to really make a point. Hexes is about having bad luck but pretending like you don't and accepting that's life. Up next we have the song Stitches. Stitches wastes no time in getting started and has more of a pop punk feel to it. It's about struggling with a mental health issue in a relationship. The song is extremely catchy and I loved that after half a dozen listens in a row there is still plenty of new things to discover in the song. The third song on Sad is named I Hate Funerals. This tracks begins with a slow pounding sound that reminds me of grunge music. The variation in style from Stitches and I Hate Funerals is a joy to listen to. I'm impressed that a band consisting of just two members manages to make such a big, full sound on this song. Ladyfuzz is my favourite track on Sad. Kamikaze Girls go down the emo/pop punk route here and there is a real rawness to the song. The raw sound really made the track stand out to me. A lot of bands playing this style really over produce the music, which makes it feel too slick and smooth. The rawness really adds to the emotion of the track. Fantastic job. Sad is completed with the track Black Coffee. Black Coffee is a faster tempo song which begins with some distorted guitars, a simple but interesting drum beat and Lucinda's distincitive vocals before the song really gets going. Once it does get going we have another highly enjoyable fuzzy pop punk song. Lucinda's vocal go through many stages throughout the song, ranging from a clean pop style to a angry snarling screamy sound. I really liked the angry snarl and I would like to hear a few more Kamikaze Girl songs with this sound.

Sad is an EP about it being okay to feel sad. Kamikaze Girls like to use their music as a way of challenging attitudes towards mental health - as the aim of the band is to show support and solidarity with young people who are struggling with mental health problems. Kamikaze Girls are an important band in or scene and need to be heard.

Stream and download Sad here:

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