Saturday 22 October 2016

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: 500 Blog Posts!

This is the 500th blog post on Colin's Punk Rock World! To me, that is rediculous! When I decided to start doing this blog it was for a couple of reasons: one being a way to try and give back to a scene that has given me so much and two of a way to focus my mind, at a time when all manner of rubbish things would pop into my head. I never ever expected to get to twenty posts, let alone five hundred. It really feels like a massive accomplishment. Of course, I have had a lot of help along the way and I doubt that I would have ever got this far without Dan, Omar, Avon and, especially, Emma for her continued support and help. Other people to thank are all the people who have contributed by doing top tens, writing guest reviews, sending me music, sharing or retweeting posts, liking and favouriting them, giving me advice and ideas and everyone who hasn't unfriended me when I've had to decline a invitation to do something because I've been busy with blog work. To celebrate getting to 500 posts I decided to create a playlist featuring some of the favourite songs that we've reviewed on Colin's Punk Rock World so far. We hope that you enjoy it. Here's to the next 500 posts!


Friday 21 October 2016

Fest 15: Preview 4

This is my fourth and final preview of The Fest. This week I'll be taking a look at the solo acts that will be playing the festival. Since planning this column I have discovered that some of the acts that I thought were playing as solo acts are actually playing with a full band but I'm going to include them anyway!

First up is somebody that Emma is extremely excited to see - Australia's Lincoln Le Fevre. Le Fevre is one of the artists I thought was solo but will actually be playing with his band The Insiders. Definitely falling into more of a acoustic rock sound than punk rock, Le Fevre's music is full of heart and is sure to mesmerise and captivate his audience.

Legendary Avail frontman Tim Barry is a firm favourite at Fest and all over the world. His stripped back country-tinged acoustic punk stories will delight, entertain and move whoever listens. His latest album is named Lost & Rootless and saw Barry completley strip back his sound with just acoustic guitar, vocals and a little violin. At Fest Barry will be playing an hour long set at 11pm on the Friday night - a wonderful way to come down after the first day of the festival. Or give you a bit of a rest before Strike Anywhere knock your socks off.

Mikey Erg, Joe McMahon and Chris Farren all come from popular punk bands before forging careers as solo artists. As well as performing with the reformed Ergs, plus a long list of other bands, Mikey Erg will be taking to the stage to perform songs from his new solo album titled Tentative Decisions. Mikey's distinctive vocals really make him stand out as a performer and his lyrics about girls are likely to break your heart. Punk celebrity Chris Farren (of Fake Problems, Antarctigo Vespucci and The Smiths t-shirt fame) recently released an album named Can't Die. Farren is sure to draw a big crowd at the Civic Media Centre. There is an uplifting quality about his music that really will make you bounce along and put a big smile on your face. Joe McMahon, of Smoke Or Fire, also recently released a brand new solo album - Another Life. Going down the route of Americana, Another Life is one of Emma's favourite albums of the year and it will be fantastic to see some of those songs performed live, alongside some of his older solo songs - plus some classic Smoke Or Fire tracks.

Erica Freas has one of my favourite voices in the world of punk rock. I can't wait to see her perform with RVIVR as well as playing solo, also at Civic Media Centre. I had the pleasure of seeing Erica play live in London a couple of years ago and was completely captivated by her performance. It's certainly a lot softer than what I'm used to with RVIVR but it's just as good. Watching her perform live always puts a smile on my face as she performs with a big one on hers. Australia's Georgia Maq of Camp Cope is a performer very highly regarded in her homeland so it's great to see her being able to bring her beautiful voice to a bigger audience. Back in April Camp Cope released a brand new self titled record on Poison City Records so I am looking forward to hearing many songs from this at Fest.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Album Review: Besides by The Burnt Tapes

London via Athens gruff punk rockers The Burnt Tapes have just released a short b-sides EP named Besides. Containing three songs that were written and recorded over the past year for different compilations and projects that didn't come off, the band deciding to release it as a stop gap before they release a new EP.

First up is a song named Go Drunk, You’re Home. This is a slow paced song that really focuses on the big sing-along moments rather than being a whirlwind of a punk song. It's a song about feeling like you're being left behind in life and making sure you have a lot of great memories. I really enjoyed the use of two different vocalists on the song - more bands should use multiple vocalists especially in music like this. It does give the feeling of inclusiveness that all punks love. Of course there are also some "woah-oh" harmonies thrown in towards the end of the song, as you would expect from the best sing-along punk rock music. Next up is the track South To Motherboy. The song starts out a little slow with a short and quiet guitar riff acting almost as a siren, warning that something big is about to happen. The pace is certainly upped here showing a different side to The Burnt Tapes. The upped-pace gives a sense of urgency to go along with lead singer Phil's raspy, strained vocal. South To Motherboy is a song about not wanting to let somebody down and also not being able to let them leave your life. This is a bit of a heart-on-your-sleeve track with Phil really singing with a lot of passion. Finally we have Adrenochrome Heights. This song originally appeared on a Struck Dum Records comp earlier in the year. The tone on Adrenochrome Heights feels much darker than on the previous two tracks. There is also a lot more focus on the guitar work, with Phil and Pan having some great duelling riffs throughout. Phil's vocals are really pushed to the limit here, really portraying so much emotion that really gets you invested into the song.

The Burnt Tapes are one of the very best up and coming punk bands in the UK. Playing shows all over the UK, as well as the odd tour of Europe, they are picking up more and more fans all of the time. This EP showcases the band’s continuing growth as musicians and songwriters and should help tide over fans of the band who are eagerly awaiting a brand new EP of new material.

Stream and download Besides here:

Like The Burnt Tapes here:

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Album Review: Downers by Dead Rejects and Positive Junk

Another day, another split review. This one is titled Downers and is brought to us by two ska-punk bands - New Jersey's Dead Rejects and Positive Junk from Coventry, UK. Before I stumbled upon the release on Bandcamp I hadn't heard of either band so was excited to hopefully find two new favourites.

Dead Rejects kick off the split. First up is a song named It Gets Worse. This is an intro track which is just some beautifully played piano that leads brilliantly into the second song, Hear Me Out. As soon as the piano finishes we are greeted with some guitar and a huge primal scream. Hear Me Out is a full on hardcore punk rock song - fast, furious and full of anger. It's about the frustration of wanting to be heard. An explosive start to the split. Keep Dancing is a more melodic style. Lead singer Shane Sparacello's vocals are raspy, reminding me of Mark from Boston street punk act The Unseen. They work fantastically on the song which is a great sing-along. It's about going to gigs and how that one night dancing along with your favourite band can make you forget about all the troubles that are happening within your life. Hugely relatable. The fourth song is named Burning Bridges. Burning Bridges is a song of many styles and tempos. Style wise it switches between ska and hardcore effortlessly - being a very skankable tune during the ska before breaking through walls with some devastating hardcore. Burning Bridges tells the story of a friendship that ended in a bad way and then questioning why it happened. "What Happened To You? What Happened To Me? What Happened To Everybody?" sums this up perfectly. The final Dead Rejects song is Lonliness. This is definitely the most ska-sounding song on the Dead Rejects half of the split, with the first verse of the song having a slight pop tinge to it as well. It plays at a mid-tempo pace throughout most of the song, allowing plenty of dancing before building to a big, fast paced punk rock finale. A brilliant song.

Positive Junk, who is actually just one man named Tyler Atkins, starts his half of the split with the song Voices. It starts similarly to the Dead Rejects opening tracks with a slow start before a big scream wakes the track up. Voices is about combating the voices inside your head. It heavily features a ska guitar sound whilst Atkins, like Shane Sparacello, sings with a raspy voice. The song Demons also follows the topic of mental health, starting out with a hardcore punk rock vibe before transitioning into a upbeat ska punk party. I love how the different styles define the different moods of the song. The opening hardcore style is when the song talks about struggling with your demons and feeling like you're losing, while the upbeat ska is played when the demons are beaten. A very special song. Up next is a song going by the name of Leech. More fantastic skacore music here with a little bit of pop thrown into the mix. The "Don't Count On Me, To Let You Know When I Am Down" line sounds like it has been lifted from the Sum 41 track Fat Lip and they really pulled me in. A creative piece of song writing. Listening to Leech reminds me structurally of a pop punk song but with a very, very distinctive skacore sound. It's ace. Positive Junk's penultimate song is called Wasted Daze. Wasted Daze is about being stabbed in the back by your best friend and feeling like you've wasted all of your time. Jumping between bouncy ska and more serious straight forward punk rock seamlessly, it's a fun sounding song even if the lyrical content is sad. The final song on the split is named So Much Worse! This is another beautifully played piano song to complete the split.

Downers is a fantastic split showcasing two quality skacore acts from both sides of the Atlantic. Whenever I think the ska scene is beginning to get short on fantastic bands some more always pop up. Dead Rejects and Positive Junk are another two of those. Check out this split and both bands’ back catalogues.

Stream and download Downers here:

Like Dead Rejects here:

Like Positive Junk here:

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Art of Punk: Bryan Kienlen

Forgive me if I’m pointing out the obvious here but… Bryan Kienlen is the bassist of The Bouncing Souls. He has also been the man behind all of their artwork (nearly 30 years!), from the band’s early DIY gig flyers and first EP covers to their latest album, Simplicity, Bryan has designed them all – which is pretty good going for one man if you ask me!

After finishing high school, Bryan was all set to go off to art school but that would have meant giving up The Bouncing Souls who were just beginning to pick up momentum… so he didn’t go to art school and, as they say, the rest was history. Of course, he’s never given up creating visual art in place of musical art as the two work hand-in-hand. Plus, he also works as a tattooist, at Neptune Tattooville in New Jersey, when the band isn’t on tour as well.

The Bouncing Souls’ latest album features the iconic ‘face’ in the middle of its artwork. The same face that appears on almost all of their previous releases, not to mention on hundreds and hundreds of posters, t-shirts and other band merchandise for years. The ‘Ball Guy’ has acted as a sort of a mascot for the band, although it shouldn’t really be considered their logo as the classic crossbones heart probably serves that purpose better. I read somewhere that the ‘Ball Guy’ was a representation of Bryan himself – at least that’s what someone else in the band said, I think!

Something I like about Bryan’s art, and the artwork throughout The Bouncing Souls’ career in particular, is that it is so varied. The band’s album covers, for example, are so varied in visual style – Anchors Aweigh is an oil painting! – but the ‘Ball Guy’ has found his way into the majority of them. I do, however, like how it isn’t always so obvious – see Anchors Aweigh again, plus Ghosts On The Boardwalk.

I recently watched the 2004 Bouncing Souls documentary, Do You Remember?. The tagline for the documentary is ‘Fifteen years of The Bouncing Souls’ so obviously it is a little bit dated now, but it was great to hear the band talk about how they formed and see lots of footage from all those years ago. It was also particularly interesting for me to see Bryan creating art for the band, which included hand illustrating mail cards and CD artwork, plus spray painting designs onto fan’s own t-shirts – very DIY. You can watch the whole thing here on YouTube, but if you need persuading I’ve included some screenshots.

You can also check out a wide variety of Bryan’s designs, both for The Bouncing Souls and other bands, on his website. If you’re a tattoo fan then I recommend following Bryan on Instagram as well as his photos are mostly of his tattoo art.

Monday 17 October 2016

Album Review: Blowing Minds & Melting Faces by Burn Burn Burn! and ...Whatever That Means

Split releases are always a fantastic way to discover new bands. Earlier this year I discovered two fantastic bands in the form of Burn Burn Burn! from Seattle, Washington and ...Whatever That Means from Seoul, South Korea. Together they released a split titled Blowing Minds & Melting Faces back in July.

Burn Burn Burn!'s half of the split features two songs that were unreleased b-sides from their 2015 EP Have Fun. First up is Maps Of Brick Walls. When I first heard Maps Of Brick Walls I instantly thought of Jeff Rosenstock. There is a mayhem to the music that Rosenstock has made a fairly successful career of. Burn Burn Burn! have their chaotic charm down to a tee. It's a fast paced track that really grabs your attention. The drumming in particular really drives the song forward and provides a great back bone to the mayhem that appears to be going on throughout the song. The second Burn Burn Burn! song is named Drink It Away. This track is a little more restrained than the chaos that ensued on the first song but keeps up the fast pace. The verses especially have a pop punk feel to them while the chorus is insanely catchy and so easy to sing along with. It's a song about using alcohol to escape your problems and the chorus just goes "So Drink, Drink, Drink Away, I'll Drink, Drink, Drink Away Tonight!" Two very strong songs.

The ...Whatever That Means half of the split contains three songs. First up is a short track named Can't Take It. The song goes off like a starting pistol and doesn't relent for its forty-five second duration. This is some pop punk perfection, as a female vocalist lets out all of her frustrations in life in no time at all. Up next is This Betrayal. A male voice takes the lead on this more melodic track. Multiple vocals are always great on a release, but when it's two voices that are completely different it adds so much freshness to a band’s sound. The song has a great sing-along aspect to it as well, with the chorus being very catchy. There's a nice treat towards the end of the song as well, as the female vocals come in for a short bit of one-two vocals. The third and final ...Whatever That Means song is named Just Another Day. This track has more of a summery pop punk feel to it. Like the sort of pop punk you would expect in a montage on an Amercian teen movie. The chorus again really stood out with the male vocals taking the lead and the female vocals adding some fantastic harmonies. Three great tracks all of which show something different from the ...Whatever That Means sound. Great stuff.

I'd never heard of either of these bands before I stumbled upon them on Bandcamp. Both are just brilliant new bands I am looking forward to checking out more from them.

Stream and download the split here:

Like Burn Burn Burn! here:

Like ...Whatever That Means here:

Saturday 15 October 2016

Gig Review: The Menzingers at the Scala 12/10/16 (by Emma Prew)

I’ve mentioned a few times in various contributions to this blog that The Menzingers are almost definitely my favourite band. I know it’s not always good to claim one band (or album or whatever) is your absolute favourite, but there isn’t another band or artist that gets me quite so excited as The Menzingers do. I love them most at a live show and I hadn’t seen them (full band) in over two years, so needless to say I was ridiculously excited for their London show on Wednesday night.

The last time I saw The Menzingers, and indeed last time they were on tour in the UK (aside from their Reading Festival appearance last year), they brought with them The Holy Mess and The Smith Street Band – an awesome line up. For this short run of UK dates, they had Swansea-based Hot Mass and Philly comrade Roger Harvey on board.

First up were Hot Mass. I’m not entirely sure how to best describe Hot Mass’ sound as it is quite different to that of your average punk band. They are very guitar-driven with distorted and fast-paced riffs. Definitely the kind of music to get your head nodding along to and just what was needed to open the show. They’ve become a new favourite of Colin’s with their latest album, Nervous Tensions, and I know he particularly enjoyed seeing them live. We both said the song Action At A Distance was our favourite for its shout-along style chorus.

Then it was time for something different again. It was quite a surprise (I mean, not literally a surprise on the night – I do generally look up and a listen to support acts beforehand) to have an acoustic artist on before The Menzingers, especially after the more typical punk line up of the last tour. That said, Roger Harvey’s set was a refreshing change in sound and pace – I guess you could say he was the calm before the storm. I’d listened to his debut album, Twelve Houses, which has more than just acoustic guitar – some songs include brass, while others are a little bit electronic-sounding – but I actually enjoyed him better live with a more stripped back sound. There was a little bit of talking somewhere in the audience, as is often unfortunately the way with acoustic artists, but most were deeply absorbed in Roger’s music. I’ll be listening to him some more, for sure.

As is often the case before a headlining band takes to the stage, Colin turned to me and asked what song I thought The Menzingers would open with. I instantly said ‘Lookers’, as the band’s newest song (that is actually available to stream and whatnot online) it seemed appropriate to me. Colin thought it was perhaps a bit risky for them to open with a new song… but guess what they opened with? Besides being a new song, Lookers is also a song that starts fairly gently with just Greg’s guitar and vocals, before the rest of the band kicks in. So it turns out this is also an excellent way to start a Menzingers gig. I must admit I hadn’t been completely sold on Lookers when I first heard it but hearing it live for the first time was something else. It was also really great to hear the crowd singing along despite the album the song is from, After The Party, not even being released yet.

The singing, or perhaps more shouting, continued into live show favourite The Obituaries with everyone in the room screaming ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it.’ at the top of their lungs. The band were on top form with a performance that seemed to me to be so ever slightly more perfected than when I’ve seen them previously – definitely not a bad thing. They flowed skilfully from one song to the next with a setlist that just worked. Highlights for me from their set included; I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore, Who’s Your Partner, Sun Hotel, Rodent, Rivalries and, of course, Good Things. Although, for whatever reason, the band chose to not play any songs from their debut album, A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology (I guess a band gets pretty sick of playing the same 10 year old songs all the time). As the album that got me into The Menzingers, I was a little bit disappointed by this but the quality of the rest of the set more than made up for it. As well as Lookers, we were treated to another track from their upcoming fifth album called Thick As Thieves. Tom takes the lead on this one and I just have to mention how much I love watching him perform – he simply cannot stand still. The Menzingers are a band that is definitely at home on stage, but they are also very appreciative of their audience – Greg and Tom (being the two vocalists) each expressed this – and you can tell how happy they are performing.

In what felt like no time at all the band was leaving the stage but we knew they’d be back – after all, they hadn’t played Gates or In Remission yet. Returning for their encore, Greg, Tom, Joe and Eric were joined by fellow Philadelphian (is that a term people use?) Roger Harvey to add some acoustic guitar to Gates. I wouldn’t have thought adding an acoustic guitar – rather than playing an entirely acoustic version – would work but it actually sounded really good, so cheers Roger. The band then found they had more time left than planned and decided to fit in their cover of The Bouncing Souls’s Kate Is Great. It was my first time hearing The Menzingers version live and it was awesome. As predicted, In Remission was the band’s closing track. By this point my throat was well and truly raw from shouting along to the rest of their set but that didn’t stop me, nor the rest of the crowd, from singing along one last time.

The Menzingers are the best and I simply cannot wait to see them again in two weeks time across the pond at The Fest!

Friday 14 October 2016

Album Review: Geezers by The Wonder Beers

You might be able to guess what punk rockers The Wonder Beers are all about. The band from Kingston Upon Thames love writing songs about drinking beers, eating kebabs and partying. In July they released their new album Geezers on Lockjaw Records.

Normally when I review an album I like to talk about each song individually and look into what they are about. That's not something that I really feel the need to do on Geezers. Like I said in the introduction, every song on Geezers is about going out, getting drunk and having a great time with your mates. If you're looking for an album that you hope will change the world politically, then this definitely isn't an album for you. If you're looking for an album full of party punk hits that will leave you smiling, then Geezers definitely is an album for you.

Party Punk is the best way to describe The Wonder Beers sound. Each of the eleven songs on Geezers is a big punk rock anthem designed to get everyone listening shouting along with the band. Musically there is a big feel of the UK's 1980's Oi! movement in the sound – bands like Cock Sparrer, The Business and The Cockney Rejects. This is working class punk rock at its finest.

I feel like The Wonder Beers were formed by a group of friends at the pub who love punk rock music that wanted to make a band with the intention of having as much fun as they possibly can. This certainly comes across on Geezers.

Like I said, this album is a ridiculous amount of fun. In all honesty I thought I would be put off of the album because it is all about drinking. I don't drink at all, so I wondered how I would relate to any of it. I relate because I like music that is fun. Geezers is fun. Sometimes musicians take themselves far too seriously and forget about the whole enjoyment factor of listening to and playing music. This is without a doubt a band that doesn't forget that. Want a good time, listen to The Wonder Beers.

Stream and download Geezers here:

Like The Wonder Beers here:

Thursday 13 October 2016

Album Review: State Of Excess by The Lash Outs

The Lash Outs are a power pop punk band from Dallas, Texas. In March they released their third full length album, State Of Excess. State Of Excess was produced by Stephen Egerton of Descendents, ALL and Flag fame. With such a legendary figure in the punk world on board I was keen to check out this album.

The first track on the album is named Validation Song. Validation Song begins with a fun rolling guitar intro before we get to the vocals. Within a few lines there are some "Nah Nah Nahs" giving you the knowledge that this is going to be a fairly light hearted album. The song itself is about seeking validation from somebody whatever the cost. Up next is the track Sha La La. This song is about feeling like you're past your prime and that everyone who is younger than you is getting the breaks that you might deserve. Lyrically the song is quite sad but the music keeps the song feeling quite upbeat. The "Sha La La" harmonies add a positive, happy feel as well. This is followed up by Light And Sound. The beginning of this song has a great building quality that has you expecting a really big moment in the song. This long build gives you the feeling of wanting more. Sadly that big moment never comes in the song but it does lead into a big heavy metal style riff which opens the next song, Bondage Of Self. I really liked the short sentence structure in the verse, the lyrics are almost as if lead singer, Joey Holbrook, is reading from a list. This gives so much fantastic energy to the track. Bondage Of Self is a song about being self obsessed and features an extremely catchy chorus. The fifth song on the album is named Mistakes. This is a slower paced song than the previous four, with The Lash Outs really focussing on the content and message of the song. The message of the song is fairly obvious - it's about being mindful of making mistakes and making things worse. I really enjoyed the musicianship on this song, showing an influence from early rock and roll music.

The title track, State Of Excess, is the sixth song on the album. State Of Excess has my favourite intro of the whole album. The slow start with just guitar and vocals make the track instantly recognisable before the song really starts in earnest. The song itself is about the current culture of people being more fussed about things they own than anything else and the belief that you are judged on possessions. Up next is the incredibly catchy I Don't Know Why. It's about not understanding why somebody would stay in a relationship with someone who doesn't treat them well. You'll immediately  be singing along with the chorus of the up-tempo song. There is a guitar riff in the next song, Bowels Of Time (First Movement), that reminds me of the song I Want Candy. This caught my attention from the outset. The whole song is actually a completely musical affair with no vocals whatsoever. It incorporates different stlyes such as 60s rock n roll and surf rock blended with some pop punk to make a very interesting and enjoyable track. You don't often hear tracks like this on pop punk records and it showcases just what good musicians The Lash Outs are. The penultimate song on State Of Excess is titled Retail Therapy. The Lash Outs are very good in that their song titles make it abundantly clear what their songs are about - this makes the job of a reviewer much easier! It's about shopping to make yourself feel better. Something everyone is guilty of at times. There is a darker, more metal tone on this song giving it a serious edge to go along with the insanely catchy chorus of "Retail Therapy, Retail Therapy." Finally the album is completed with Work To Get By. On my first few listens of the album this is probably the song that stood out the most to me. Work To Get By is a song about how not everyone is lucky enough to be given everything they want - some people have to work to get by. I really love the message on this song, coming from a working class family myself and seeing a lot of people around me just getting things handed to them it is really relatable. A great working class anthem found in quite an unlikely place. The 60s rock vibe is strong on this track with some added keys for the first time on the album.

The Lash Outs have written a fantastic album about the world's current social status and are really quite insightful on this release. It's also a hell of a lot of fun. If you want to hear a smart album that will also have you smiling then look no further than State Of Excess.

Stream and download State Of Excess here:

Like The Lash Outs here:

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Album Review: Second Wind by Edgarville

Second Wind is the second release of acoustic/emo/punk duo Edgarville. Following hot on the heels of January's excellent debut release of Fingerprints & Handwriting, it shows Edgarville haven't been resting on their laurels to have another release out so soon.

Second Wind begins with the song Srsly. After a jangly guitar opening, vocalist Ed Hall's deep, booming voice hits you like a hammer. He has one of those voices that you can't help but listen to - it catches your attention immediately. The track is about learning that as you grow up all of the insecurities you had don't actually matter. There is a great fist in the air sing-a-long quality in the song that really makes me think of hearing the song played live with a crowd of people singing along. Up next is the song Titled. The whole sound of this song is a lot softer than on the previous, showing a different side of Edgarville. I loved the musicianship on Titled. Ed Hall has some serious talent with a guitar. There sounds like there are multiple guitar tracks on the song which makes me very intrigued to see how it would be performed live. There is a nice musical interlude between the first and second verse that just has to be heard. Titled is about not being bitter about friends having success and how it's easy to blame others for things not going the way you want. The final song on Second Wind is named Iron. Iron is just a fantastic song about it being okay to be nice to people. Such a simple concept that is often forgotten. There is much more of a full band feel to Iron that again gives it a different sound to the other two tracks on Second Wind. When you think of the top emo band in the UK at the moment you think of Moose Blood. Iron is better than anything that band have ever written and should help propel Edgarville up another level .

Not many bands manage to have two releases in a year let alone two great ones. Edgarville managed that and deserve your attention. They are a fantastic band sonically and when they are performing live.

Stream and download Second Wind here:

Like Edgarville here:

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Album Review: We Could Find New Ways To Walk Home by Less Deceived

Hull gruff punks Less Deceived released two of my favourite EPs last year - the excellent It'll Never Get Better Than This and the fantastic Average Songs About The Best Days Of Our Lives. Now, after a few line up changes, Less Deceived are back with a new EP named We Could Find New Ways To Walk Home. I couldn't wait to give this a listen.

First song up is titled The Inevitable Song About Trains. This track is a song about wanting to get out of your town. This is some hugely enjoyable anthemic gruff punk that you can shout along with as loudly as you possibly can. As with the best songs in this particular genre, there are plenty of gang vocals and harmonies throughout. The chorus of "And We Can Pretend That It's Ever Going To Get Better, And We Can Pretend We're Not Drinking To Forget That Fact" feels huge and like it will get a massive crowd response. Great start to the EP. Up next is a song named That Shit'll Kill You. Something I really loved on my very first listen of the song is the shift in melody during the song. The first half of the song is played at a high tempo, wasting no time it getting through the track. Then Less Deceived switch things up for the end and finish the song with a slow, deliberate plod that really makes the final few lines really hit home hard. That Shit'll Kill You is a song about thinking of trying to do new things but never actually doing it. I think the overall message of the song is you have to take chances in life. We Could Find New Ways To Walk home is completed with LDNY. What a cracking song this is! It starts out slowly with a big shout-a-long intro which features simply vocals and a bit of guitar. After a few shouts of the line "I Get To Miss You" the song explodes into life. You may have guessed from the line "I Get To Miss You" that the song is about missing a friend who has moved away - something that is very relatable. Less Deceived have definitely saved the best for last on this EP. I think it's the best thing they've written yet and could even be my song of the year. LDNY is superb.

We Could Find New Ways To Walk Home shows a bit of a change in the Less Deceived sound, as you would expect after some line up changes, but it's still fantastic. Probably the best new(ish) band from the UK underground in recent years. Everything they do is gold. I really need to catch them live and shout-a-long with some of my favourite songs.

Stream and download the EP here:

Like Less Deceived here:

Monday 10 October 2016

Album Review: Expectations by Mudhill (by Omar Ramlugon)

As is so often the case with pleasant discoveries, my introduction to Mudhill happened completely by accident. I was watching Hot Water Music’s ‘Live In Chicago’ on Youtube when a brightly coloured album appeared on the right hand side in the section for similar or related videos, labelled ‘Mudhill – Expectations – FULL ALBUM STREAM’. On a whim, I clicked the link, and within minutes found myself with my preconceptions thoroughly busted.

A family member once told me that you should always try to listen to music as though you were fourteen. Now at face value that appears to be questionable advice, but to fully elaborate, the sentiment is more that you should allow yourself to get giddily excited, passionate about and even obsessed with music. It’s a sentiment I hold particularly close to my heart, and it very much applies here.

Hailing from Brazil, Mudhill are an example of how music of all genres transcends borders, language and cultures better than almost anything. This foursome kick out a brawny, powerful sound but with a real knack for strong hooks that could rival any Punknews luminary, blending some of the heart-swollen melodies of the Menzingers with an ear for a ripping guitar solo. Often the songs on Expectations reside in mid-tempo, a decision that allows the songs more room to grow and breathe, digging into the dual guitar parts in a fashion similar to Leatherface. Furthermore, it means that when the quartet do kick up the tempo, it comes as an invigorating blast rather than a dull retread.

Vocally, Mudhill present even more of a refreshing change from the orgcore drill sergeants, with singer/guitarist Zeek Underwood deciding to eschew the rote punk rock spit-drenched, raw throated bark in favour of his own surprisingly warm and inviting take alternative rock singing, which lends a really plaintive edge to the lyrics – which are sung in English, fortunately for me, as my grip on Portuguese is about as sound as Donald Trump’s grasp of foreign policy. The content of them delves into topics such as personal insecurity, the interpersonal and the human condition, topics which simply don’t go out of style, so long as your approach them with a deftness of touch, which Mudhill luckily do.

The album opens with the quietly recriminatory “What You And Your Friends Said About Me”, with a speedy clean guitar arpeggios setting a backdrop to Underwood’s lyrics before surging guitars burst through in the chorus; a well worn trick, sure, but still a great one when done well. Things only get better from there, with the one-two punch of “Not About Survival” and “Decisions Bring Collisions”, the former’s simple chorus lyric of ‘Cause it’s not about survival / It’s only about feeling alive’ being a sure-fire earworm while the latter’s stomping riff could make a corpse bob it’s head in approval. Elsewhere, ‘So Far Gone’ simply explodes out of the gate like Copper Blue-era sugar, with more killer riffs in one song than All Time Low have managed in their entire miserable career.

Expectations pulls off the admirable feat of having one consistent sound throughout the album which makes it feel cohesive and complete, while having variations within that winning ‘sound’ to make it consistently engaging and easy to pick out favourites. It’s a hard thing to do, but they pull it off without question; ‘You Dare Me To Feel Anything’ is another highlight, while the short sharp burst of ‘It Might’ careens into the slower ‘Dust Me Off’ with consummate ease, with soaring guitar figures doodled throughout both tracks. Finally, ‘To Get Back At Us’ draws things to a close, with a touch of acoustic guitar at its start before pulling back into the classic sound that makes the whole record such a pleasure to listen to. It should be mentioned that the album’s production is excellent, polished without being glossy while making sure every instrument is clearly heard in the mix.

Expectations was an absolutely wonderful surprise. I was so impressed that within half an hour I’d bought the record off of Mudhill’s bandcamp – and if you like what you hear in the stream posted below, you should too. This is simply a cracking album. Miss it at your peril.

Stream and download Expectations here:

Like Mudhill here:

Saturday 8 October 2016

Gig Review: Less Than Jake at the Brixton Academy 6/10/16

When Less Than Jake announce a UK tour it's always a very exciting thing for me. For as long as I've been a fan of punk rock Less Than Jake have been my favourite band. When the Fireball sponsored super tour with Less Than Jake, The Skints, Mariachi El Bronx and Kemuri was announced I quickly booked tickets for the Brixton Academy show and excitedly counted down the days.

We arrived at the Brixton Academy a little early and joined the queue that was already forming. Usually this isn't really worth writing about but I figured the security guard/steward deserved a mention. Normally I find the security guards at these bigger events to be rude idiots who aren't friendly or helpful in the slightest. The chap we encountered who was looking after the line on this night was an absolute hero, willing to chat, make jokes, answer questions and generally just be a nice guy. He also gave me and the other people in the queue lanyards. I'm not quite sure why but I decided to attach one of my Colin's Punk Rock World business cards to it.

First up were a late addition to the line up, London's Ghouls. Playing their own unique brand of pop punk with horns, the five piece are having an incredible year and this Brixton show must be one of their biggest shows to date. I must admit it was kind of weird seeing them on such a big stage after seeing them play so many smaller venues over the past couple of years. The size of the stage and the room didn't deter them though as they confidently played a fantastic, energy filled set. This show without a doubt earned them some more fans. Next stop for Ghouls is America and The Fest!

Next up was a big treat for everyone in Brixton, especially if you've been a fan of ska punk since the late 90s after the third wave exploded. Tokyo, Japan’s Kemuri were playing their very first show in London - and what a place for it to happen! The seven piece lead by front man Fumio Ito looked so excited to be playing the show and it really came across in their performance. If there was only one word that I could use for their set it'd be joy. That's the feeling that I got from the band and it clearly spread through the entire crowd as we danced, skanked, put arms around our neighbours, waved our arms, clapped, sung along and did generally whatever else Kemuri wanted us to do. Kemuri are veterans in the ska punk world and, in this instance, are still one of the very best.

Mariachi El Bronx were the next band to take to the stage. A band I've heard so much about but have never actually listened to. I have a little confession to make, Mariachi El Bronx's proper band, The Bronx, are not a bad I've ever really gotten into and the idea of them playing mariachi-style music seemed a bit odd to me. Not really knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to immediately find myself dancing along to the first song and this continued throughout the set. The eight piece from Los Angeles, California, are clearly an extremely talented group of musicians who really enjoy playing this style of music. I did find myself wondering during their set if when they started the mariachi version of The Bronx they ever expected to be playing shows in front of almost 5000 people in London? I really liked this set and it helped to continue the party atmosphere that was really beginning to build in Brixton.

The penultimate act of the evening was The Skints. It's incredible how far The Skints have come in such a short space of time and by playing a genre of music that is far from mainstream. I remember hearing them not long after their debut EP came out on Do The Dog Records and seeing them for the first time supporting Capdown at Koko not long after their debut album was released back in 2010. Since then I've seen them almost a dozen times but it must have been well over a year since the last time. Immediately I was blown away by them. I think I'd forgotten just how good Josh, Jamie, Marcia and John are as musicians and as a band. Their brilliant modern take on reggae and ska with added elements of hip hop and dub music really got Brixton moving. Playing a selection of hits from all three of their albums, The Skints really were on top form. On one song they even had some additional  saxophone from Less Than Jake's JR which was a nice surprise. They could have easily been the headline act for this tour and if they continue the way that they're heading I'm sure that one day they will be.

Finally it was time for the amazing, the brilliant, the majestic (I might be over selling this now)… it was time for Less Than Jake. Gainesville, Florida, America and the world’s (might be over selling again) finest band. To say I was excited might be an understatement. If I was to do a list of the best live bands I've ever seen Less Than Jake would place first without any real competition. I've now seen them eleven times and on every occasion they have been perfect. I'm of the belief that it is impossible for them to play a bad show. Opening the set with Last One Out Of Liberty City, Less Than Jake played a very crowd pleasing set featuring many songs from the classic Hello Rockview. This album is considered a fan favourite and the entire room began moving from the opening bass line - didn't stop until the final chords of the closer All My Best Friends Are Metalheads. Of course, the usual fun and shenanigans that Less Than Jake are famous for went on. Whether it was setting off confetti canon, firing toilet paper into the crowd, playing with beach balls or inviting members of the crowd on stage to dance and drink with them. After more than twenty five years of playing shows, Less Than Jake still manage to find ways to stay fun - I imagine this is as much for them as it is for the crowd. The energy and effort that goes into a Less Than Jake live set is nothing short of amazing. To still be so excited to play these songs and put that much into them after all these years is a testament to the band and their desire to make sure every fan has a fantastic time seeing them. Long may it continue - I don't think we'll ever see a band like Less Than Jake ever again.

Every single band was great this evening but my highlight of the night wasn't actually any of the bands. It was actually this: My best friend of over twenty five years Craig was a last minute addition to our gig party after another friend sadly had to drop out. Over the years, Craig and I have been to a couple of gigs together but never a full on punk or ska gig which are really my favourites. Craig has often teased me about my tastes in music, not because he doesn't enjoy the music, just because he enjoys teasing me. In our group of friends I was always the youngest and the smallest, so I got a lot of the little brother treatment - always the one to be teased about things. I've always wondered if he really ever understood my love of going to see live music and why I spend so much of my time and money travelling around going to see bands with silly names that nobody has even heard of. Watching him enjoy himself so much at the Brixton Academy to bands that I completely adore put a big smile on my face. It felt like he got why I love going to see these bands so much and hopefully he went home a fan of some new bands. It was a great feeling and a fantastic night.

Friday 7 October 2016

Fest 15: Preview 3

The Fest is fast approaching and I'm getting very excited. Continuing with my series on bands I'm really looking forward to seeing in Gainesville, this week I'm looking at some of the bands that maybe aren't considered headliners but are still absolutely brilliant.

Starting out with a band I think is one of the most underrated in pop punk - Oregon's Broadway Calls. It feels like ages since the three piece put out any new material, the last album being 2013's Comfort/Distraction. Perhaps verging on the poppier side of pop punk, the band write some of the catchiest songs in the business and are a fantastic live act.

A band that probably should be considered headliners for the festival are Toronto's The Flatliners. It says a lot about how strong the Fest line up is that they aren't. The Flatliners have come a long way since their ska punk beginnings and over the years they have matured into one of the finest and most beloved melodic punk rock bands in the world. Whenever they release a new album it is considered a massive deal and are always killer live.

Not Half Bad are a band both Emma and I are really looking forward to seeing. The Texans play a fantastic brand of folk-infused punk rock. Not Half Bad are the perfect Fest band, with their beer fuelled songs and rowdy performances. The song Punk Rock Is A Full Time Job could be an anthem for Fest.

When Dead To Me announced they were getting back together the punk rock world was full of excitement. The San Francisco based band have been hugely popular for a long time now and will no doubt draw a massive crowd for their set. Personally I'm really looking forward to hearing songs from debut album Cuban Ballerina.

A band that we'd not heard of before the Fest announcement, and Emma in particular is really excited to see, is Broadcaster. The group from Long Island, New York, have been together since 2010 and play a brand of punk rock that has been compared to bands such as Jawbreaker, The Weakerthans and Superchunk.

Pkew Pkew Pkew are probably the band I'm most excited to see at Fest. Their self-titled album is currently my album of the year and is a piece of pop punk brilliance. Every single song on that album is superbly catchy, fills you with energy and makes you shout along with the band. I imagine this will be the same after seeing them live.

I've been waiting nearly a year to see MakeWar. I was supposed to see them on the first night of Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee last year but was late due to a severely delayed mega bus. Last year their self-titled debut was one of my favourite records of 2015 and has remained in constant rotation this year. I'm also unbelievably excited for their upcoming Red Scare debut, Developing A Theory Of Integrity, which they will be playing in full at Pre-Fest.

Earlier this year Direct Hit released their new album, Wasted Mind, on Fat Wreck Chords. Being able to release a record on that label shows just how far Direct Hit have come in a short space of time. Taking the genre of pop pun, increasing the intensity a lot and adding stories of monsters, aliens and Satan, Direct Hit have carved their own unique niche in the genre. Having seen videos of previous Direct Hit sets at Fest they are a band not to be missed!

In my Fest preview where I featured bands that would probably be considered headliners I spoke about the relationships between Latterman, Iron Chic and RVIVR. Well there's yet another band that connects those groups - the mighty Tender Defender. After releasing a fantastic debut EP earlier this year, I'm incredibly stoked to see them at Fest. I missed seeing them in London in April of this year as I was on holiday. Now I get to see them on my holiday. Win!

The Smith Street Band are playing. If you're a long time reader of this blog you know how excited I am to see them.

Red City Radio are a classic Fest band. The sort of band you just assume are playing without even looking at the festival line up. Their brand of melodic sing-a-long pop punk is always crowd pleasing and are one of the best live bands around. Front man Garrett Dale in particular is one of the best front men around.

Adding to the incredible roster of Red Scare bands that are playing Fest is Elway. The Colorado quartet play some of the smartest orgcore punk going. Since seeing them in London all the way back in 2013, I am certainly long overdue seeing them and singing along again!

Chicago's The Copyrights could be considered the kings of modern day pop punk music. With their buzzsaw guitars, big hooks and catchy lyrics they are everything you could possibly want in a pop punk band. I've been following their career since hearing their debut album, We Didn't Come Here To Die, way back in 2005 and I've still never seen them live. Until Fest when according to the schedule I get to see them twice. I can't wait!

Since discovering Tens earlier this year they are another band I've listened to a lot. Another band from Chicago - so many amazing bands come from Chicago - Tens’ self-titled album is an instant classic in my eyes. Honest, heartfelt, sing-a-long punk rock. Not the most well known of bands but definitely a band you should be aware of.

Arms Aloft are yet another band from the Red Scare family. They recently released their brand new album titled What A Time To Be Barely Alive. The Wisconsin four piece are another band that play the melodic, sing-a-long punk sound - something that could be described as a Fest trademark - and definitely do it with their hearts on their sleeves.

Perth, Australia's The Decline are touring machines. They always seem to be on tour all over the world. Playing their second Fest in a row, the skate punk band are fast becoming one of the most popular bands in the genre. The Decline will also be touring the USA with the mighty Makewar during the lead up to The Fest.

Up For Nothing, a four piece band from Long Island, New York, are sadly hanging up their guitars this year so Fest will be my last chance to catch them live. Heavily inspired by 90s punk rock, the band have put their own spin on it to create a wonderful throwback sound.

Finally we have Western Settings from San Diego, California. Playing a slower brand of punk rock that manages to pack just as much of a punch as their more up-tempo contemporaries. The crowd will sing loud and proud to the epic songs from their 2015 album, Yes It Is, as well as their brilliant new EP Old Pain.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Top Tens: Emma's Top Ten The Menzingers Songs

When Colin asked me if I wanted to do a top ten of Menzingers songs my first thoughts were ‘Yes, of course. I love The Menzingers!’ shortly followed by ‘How do I pick only ten songs?!’. I’d never really considered just how difficult it is to compile a top ten of your favourite band’s songs (Colin did it for Less Than Jake recently) but I’ve given it a go…

The top ten is ordered not necessarily in a chart-style run down 10–1 (ie. 1 being my absolute favourite) order but more how I’d like to listen to the tracks as a playlist – said playlist is at the bottom of this post.

Gates (On The Impossible Past)
On The Impossible Past is an incredible album. I might be a tad bias but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that thinks so. Gates is definitely one of the big ‘hits’ from OTIP and it is one I really love singing along to. Someone new to The Menzingers once described them as ‘a bit emo’ to me (and I was, understandably, a bit offended). But with the lyrics ‘So I'm marching up to your gates today, To throw my lonely soul away, ’Cause I don't need it, You can take it back.’ I can kind of see why.

Cold Weather Gear (A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology)
When you think of The Menzingers, and their debut album in particular, you probably don’t think of the slow, acoustic track with lyrics from the point of view of a soldier in World War II. Starting with the famous speech from The Great Dictator and some simple acoustic guitar followed by Greg’s heart-wrenching and raw vocals, Cold Weather Gear is (to my knowledge) the shortest Menzingers song to date and it always has been one of my favourites. ‘I lost my best friend to Bastogne today, I wonder who’ll tell his family and who’ll tell his wife.’

Who’s Your Partner (Chamberlain Waits)
Unlike the first two songs on my list, Who’s Your Partner sees Tom rather than Greg take over lyrical and main vocal duties. The opening lyrics ‘I was born on a light-skinned road, I was born with an engineer’s gold, I did better than most. Now I live on a dark-skinned road, The collectors call they try to take my gold, I’m happier than most.’ are brilliant. It’s a fast paced, catchy song with a drum beat and palm muted guitar that always make me want to get moving.

I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore (Rented World)
I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore is the opening track on The Menzingers’s fourth album, Rented World. It’s also the first track on my punk rock-themed gym playlist, purely because it really is a great song to get you pumped. From the awesome guitar riff in the intro to the screaming of the chorus – ‘Baby, baby I'll be good to you, I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore.’ – and those classic punk rock woah-ohs, this is definitely a top tune.

The Obituaries (On The Impossible Past)
And after a song about not being an asshole, we come to the song about ‘fucking up’. Apologies for the swearing but this is another song where the chorus just makes it… and the chorus is ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it.’ – repeated. If you’ve ever seen The Menzingers live – and I have quite a few times – then you’ll know that this is the one set of lyrics that is sung louder by the audience, and with more passion, than any other song. Not bad for a song that has a pretty slow tempo compared to some others.

Sir Yes Sir (A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology)
The second song on The Menzingers’s first album, A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology, is Sir Yes Sir. ALITAOIT is an album that features a lot of dual vocals from Tom and Greg – something that they’ve strayed away from in more recent releases, but is still apparent in their live show. This is how Sir Yes Sir begins, accompanied by pounding drums, before Tom takes over. The last line of the song is one best shouted along to – ‘Get up, get off your horse boy you’re nothing special.’

Transient Love (Rented World)
Transient Love is a song that sounds absolutely nothing like anything else that The Menzingers have ever done, but it’s also a song that is special to me and I adore it. I mentioned that Cold Weather Gear is the shortest ever Menzingers song, well Transient Love is the longest at just over 5 minutes long. It’s a slow builder with first drums, then bass, then guitars, before the vocals eventually begin at the 1 and a half minute mark. Rented World was the soundtrack to my 2 weeks of travelling alone in Japan and the lyric ‘But now I'm five thousand miles from a head on my shoulder’ really hit home with me.

Time Tables (Chamberlain Waits)
Probably one of the better known tracks from second album, Chamberlain Waits, Time Tables is a song that more often than not appears on a Menzingers set list – and it’s not surprising really as it’s such a great song. The song tells the story of a short-lived romance and feels kind of nostalgic. I love the mention of Bad Religion too – ‘We argued over which Bad Religion album was better, I thought ‘No Control’ or ‘Suffer’.’

A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology (A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology)
Title track from probably one of the most mouthful-of-a-titled albums in punk rock, A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology is loud, angry and fast. For a long time, well until I read the lyric sheets really, I had absolutely no idea what half of the lyrics were. But, even so, that didn’t stop me from loving the song because of the pace and energy within it. Of course the last lyrics of the song are some that I could decipher and yell along to – ‘We'll burn this city to the, Scream, our throats are bleeding, Wear our scars with pride.’

Good Things (On The Impossible Past)
I said at the beginning of this post that the last song on this list isn’t necessarily my number one Menzingers song, however if I was to pick one song to play to someone who hadn’t heard the band before it would probably be Good Things. With the opening line ‘I’ve been having a horrible time…’ and the simple yet effective guitar riff, Good Things kicks off On The Impossible Past in style. It’s one that the crowd at a live show – and myself most definitely included – goes particularly crazy for screaming ‘So all good things should fall apart’ over and over again. (There’s also an awesome 8-bit style version of the song that will make you long for a Menzos NES game.)

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Album Review: Heartsongs by Aree And The Pure Heart

Aree And The Pure Heart are a punk rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. In September 2015 - I'm really slow to discover this one - they released their debut EP named Heartsongs. Here's what I thought about it.

The opening track is named Waiting On A Sunset. Immediately we are presented with some soulful, athemic punk rock in a similar mould to The Gaslight Anthem. Vocal wise I'm reminded of The Loved Ones’ Dave Hause. So basically if Dave House sang for The Gaslight Anthem you get Aree And The Pure Heart. The overall tone of Waiting On A Sunset feels incredibly uplifting and the band’s ability to write a fantastic song really is apparent. American Love starts quietly with just some good sing-a-long vocals and some gentle guitar strumming. This also gives it a nice feeling of intimacy. Of course it builds into a much bigger sounding track, but the intimate feeling remains. The more I listen to the song, I kind of feel like American Love could also be amazing as an acoustic track. Perhaps that was how it was originally written. The third song on the EP is titled Tear Down Every Wall. Like American Love, the song starts quietly before building into a big sounding anthem. The lyric that really stands out throughout the song is "Our Love Will Tear Down Every Wall." To me this lyric means that if people are working together as one then nothing can get in your way. The song starts up by talking about dreaming of a better life but being held down before deciding it's time to take charge. I love songs about making a positive change and that's exactly what I think this song is about. The penultimate song on Heartsongs is Kamikaze. As is becoming somewhat of a trademark of Aree And The Pure Heart, Kamikaze starts slowly building towards a big punch to start the song proper. Kamikaze definitely has that big punch to it. After the slow build, the music cuts out completely with just some big vocals from Aree remaining. This was such an effective way of catching my attention. It also shows a lot of confidence from Aree letting his vocals do all of the work. I bet this is fantastic live. The final song of the EP is called Exploding Heart. Beginning with a simple drum beat and some gang vocals, Exploding Heart is a song that is packed with soul. The tempo of the track is defintely slower than the previous four songs with the vocals really carrying the melody for the majority of the song. There are plenty of gang vocals, harmonies and sing-a-longs throughout the song and feels like a perfect closer not only for the EP but for a Aree And The Pure Heart live set.

Like I said I was really, really late in getting into Aree And The Pure Heart. This is a fantastic debut release - go and check it out. Then like all the relevant social media pages as something new is probably due very soon.

Stream and download the EP here:

Like Aree And The Pure Heart here:

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Art of Punk: Devan Power

I bought my first proper full-sized, screen printed gig poster at a Chuck Ragan show last year. I bought it because the design and colours really caught my eye. So, when I got home and got it all framed up for my bedroom wall, I took to Google and Tineye (reverse image search) in an attempt to find out who the designer of the poster was. The Internet wasn’t very helpful in giving me names so in the end I just tweeted Chuck Ragan and asked. If I remember rightly, he replied pretty promptly and soon I had my answer – Devan Power, a graphic designer based in Ontario, Canada.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Devan’s design portfolio – and Instagram account – since then and, although he does a lot of work for more Americana or folk-based musicians (Jason Isbell and Ivan Rivers), I was pleasantly surprised he’s recently done some designs for The Menzingers as well.

The Menzingers, if you didn’t know, are one of my absolute favourite punk bands. Devan’s T-shirt designs for the band were produced for their North American tour this year – here’s hoping they’ll be available for the UK tour this month as well. I particularly like the hourglass T-shirt but the grim reaper Milo tribute is just brilliant – not sure if it was for a T-shirt as his website doesn’t show it as such.

Devan also plays in a punk band himself, called No Hands, and works a tour manager therefore he has a certain insight into the world of bands and artists he designs for – always good to understand your clients. His designs have a very North American feel to them which is reflected in the typography and imagery – bringing to mind national park decals and tattoo art. This style of design is right up my street and I would happily wear all of these T-shirts (I like the artists too).