Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Gig Review: Me First And The Gimme Gimmes at o2 Shepherd's Bush Empire 25/2/17

Saturday the 25th of February was one of those wonderful but also rubbish gig nights in London. It was wonderful because there was a lot on but it was rubbish because I can't be in more than one place at a time. At the Camden Underworld the TNS Records Tour was in town, the second night of a new festival named South East Fest was happening at DIY Space headlined by Great Cynics and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and Masked Intruder were playing at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. We had tickets for the Gimme Gimmes show. Here's what happened.

First up were a young band from Sheffield playing their first ever London show. What a place to be doing it! Sweet Little Machine are a four piece pop punk band who are the winners of Fireball's Hottest Band of 2017 award. Playing to what was already a substantially sized crowd didn't seem to faze the band as they kicked off their opening song with a great amount of bravado. It didn't seem cocky though, just a band with the utmost confidence in their ability. And rightly so as they played a fast paced and energetic set. So much work has clearly gone into perfecting their live show and they appeared to be so tight despite their relative inexperience. As I watched they reminded me of one of my all time favourite pop punk bands, Chicago's Allister. A good number of the crowd really seemed to enjoy what Sweet Little Machine were doing as well, as they got involved with some sing-a-longs for the songs We Used To Own These Playgrounds and War. A band with everything going for them, I expect to see a lot more of Sweet Little Machine in the future.

Up next were everyone's favourite criminals, the wonderful Masked Intruder. Only this time it was a slightly different Masked Intruder to what we're used to. Tonight, and for the entire tour, Fraser from Scottish pop punks The Murderburgers was filling in on guitar for Intruder Green as he is currently “in prison”. It was clear some of the crowd still weren't sure who Masked Intruder were as we overheard someone behind us ask if they keep the masks on for the entire set. I always think when it comes to Masked Intruder, what if aliens were to arrive and this was the first music they saw/heard - they'd think we are all crazy and then stay because Masked Intruder are one of the most entertaining bands around. This was my fifth time seeing the band and all of the stage banter about committing crimes and chasing girls still doesn't get old or stale. If anything I am more entertained by it every time. Of course Officer Bradford was giving his usual police escort of the band before the power of rock 'n' roll overcame him and he joined the crowd in going crazy for the band. Making his way round the crowd for dancing, hugs and high fives and commenting on the best looking member of the crowd's Fest hoody (me). Masked Intruder are one of those must see live acts whenever they roll into your town.

Finally it was time for everyone's favourite punk rock super group cover band - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes! The band, featuring members of Lagwagon, Bad Religion, Uke Hunts and Face To Face, have been a popular act for over twenty years now, regularly touring the UK despite all of their other projects. Really the Gimme Gimmes are a bit of a novelty act and shouldn't be taken that seriously but they are just so gosh darn good. I think part of making a cover version of a song good is transforming it so much you could be forgiven for not realising that the song is a cover. As ever with a headline act the crowd seemed to swell towards the front of the stage as we prepared for an evening of getting bumped into whilst singing along to my mum's favourite songs. And that is exactly what happened. Front man Spike Slawson is as charismatic as ever as he leads the band and the packed crowd in some massive sing-a-longs. There is a brilliant silliness about the whole thing with the band playing hard to songs such as Mandy, Rocketman, I Will Survive and, of course, the massively popular I Believe I Can Fly. This was a crazy fun party that will be a lot of the crowd's gig highlight of the year. Smiles were everywhere which is always good to see in these troubled times. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes offer a great form of escapism. Sometimes you need your music to be on the fun, silly, amusing side and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes do that as well as anyone.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Album Review: Formaldehyde by On A Hiding To Nothing (by Dan Peters)

I have a lot of experience with seeing and listening to On A Hiding To Nothing. Not only did their drummer once drum in my band too but they also happen to be excellent dudes whose company I greatly enjoy. 2015 saw the release of their first self-titled EP, a staggeringly good romp which I own on vinyl and now, after a couple of line-up changes, they’re back with Formaldehyde – brought to us courtesy of skate punk label Umlaut Records.

If you’re an old fan of OAHTN then you may have listened to their original couple of bedroom demos they had on Bandcamp. One of them, ‘Braindead’, appeared on their original EP and they continue the tradition straight off the bat with Swagger. For those of you who haven’t heard it before, it’s a lightspeed belter about what I’d refer to as ‘townies’ but I hear the kids these days call them chavs. Afterwards I move into unfamiliar territory with ‘Call Me Flyboy’. The pace slows down but I’m always happy to listen to songs about zombies and this is full of references and just happens to be a great tune to boot. I’m enjoying this slightly heavier melody and the harmonies here are just so on point. I’m a sucker for a great vocal harmony and OAHTN never fail to get the hairs on my arms to raise.

Things speed up again for Stuck Record. Lead singer Al always had a vocal style that reminded me of Frenzel Rhomb frontman Jay Whalley and this is maybe their most Rhombish tune to date. Lastly and personally best on the list is ‘London Road, Mate’, back up to blisteringly fast, politically charged and where OAHTN shine brightest. With both the UK and US political landscape being the way it’s been over the last year this song hits a nerve for all of us dubbed remoaner. The frantic pace of the guitars and drums along with the scorn dripping off every lyric sets my punk meter to maximum.

I never like to make assumptions but I already knew Formaldehyde would be great and several listens in my appreciation has only grown. On A Hiding To Nothing are certainly a top tier UK punk act and it’s pleasing to my ears to be able to expand their discography between seeing them play live.

Stream and download Formaldehyde here: https://onahidingtonothing.bandcamp.com/album/formaldehyde

Like On A Hiding To Nothing here: https://www.facebook.com/onahidingtonothing/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Album Review: The Tales Of Youth by The Ultraviolet

The Ultraviolet are a four piece band from Boston, Lincolnshire, who play alternative rock music mixed with a smidge of pop punk. On the 23rd of March The Ultraviolet release a new EP titled The Tales Of Youth. I was fortunate enough to get an early listen.

First up is the track You're Better Off On Your Own. Starting out with a soft drum beat and some jangly guitars you immediately get a feel for what The Ultraviolet's sound is. They are excellent musicians who are incredibly tight as a band and lead singer Ben Thorn has a voice that just can't be ignored. Immediately I can hear the crossover appeal of the band - they could easily be at home in a small sweaty basement or on a big stage with thousands of fans screaming at them. The second track, Signal Flare, starts out with a much darker guitar tone. I loved the way the rhythm section of the band kept the song going forward while the guitar did its own thing at the start of the track. Bassist Emilio Parla gets plenty of time to shine on the song with a fantastic, deep bass section in the middle of the song. Signal Flare could become a massive crowd pleaser thanks to its "woooo-oooh" parts littered throughout the choruses. I Wrote You A Letter is the band's big arena anthem. Straight away the sound is massive and you just know the whole song will feel epic. That's what you want in your arena anthem. The opening guitar riffs, then being joined by a huge sounding full band, will allow the crowd to get excited before things get quiet and Ben would lead a crowd in singing the opening verse, then a massive chorus kicks off. To give everyone a bit of a rest, guitarist Sam Beck plays an excellent solo leading into one final flurry. The penultimate track on Tales Of Youth is named Wake Up Dead. I have to admit I had a hard time getting into Wake Up Dead at the beginning, probably due to the sheer epicness of I Wrote You A Letter. It wasn't until the mid part of the track when Sam plays another incredible guitar solo that I really woke up. Ben's vocal range is really tested with a series of different pitches and screams. This dude has a fantastic voice. Wake Up Dead is without any doubt the hardest hitting song on the EP. Finally we come to the song All I Need Is To Be Needed. Of all the tracks on Tales Of Youth this definitely feels the most pop punk like. The band I'm actually reminded of the most by this track is Taking Back Sunday, who do happen to be an influence of The Ultraviolet's. There is a bit more of an up-tempo bounce to the song ensuring that the EP finishes while a whole lot of energy. The song pounds along nicely taking the listener through a series of highs and lows during the songs duration. All I Need Is To Be Needed wraps up Tales Of Youth very nicely.

I can only see big things for The Ultraviolet. Like I said earlier, they have a wonderful crossover appeal and fans of mainstream music will love them just as much as fans from the underground.

Stream and download The Tales Of Youth here https://theultravioletofficial.bandcamp.com/album/the-tales-of-our-youth-ep

Like The Ultraviolet here: https://www.facebook.com/theultraviolet.music

This review was writen by Colin Clark

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Gig Review: TNS Tour at The Portland Arms, Cambridge 24/2/17

When the mighty TNS Records announced a package tour at the end of last year I was completely stoked. They were rolling out the big guns - Wonk Unit, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Roughneck Riot and Faintest Idea - for what was sure to be one of the gigs of the year. I immediately found the London date and my excitement crashed through the wall and ran away. It clashed with the Me First & The Gimme Gimmes/Masked Intruder gig that we already had tickets for. Then I noticed that the night before the London show the tour was beginning in Cambridge at The Portland Arms. I live quite close to Cambridge now so we could go to that - PHEW!

The running order of the bands on the tour aren't being announced to encourage people to get down to each show early to see all of the bands. Why anyone wouldn't do that anyway is beyond me, but there you go. First up in Cambridge were Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man. I always think of ROTPM to be THE TNS band. Think of ROTPM and think of TNS, think of TNS and think of ROTPM. So it only seemed right that they kicked off the show and the entire tour. The Manchester three piece's fast and aggressive brand of thrash punk is good on record but live it really is something else. I first saw ROTPM last year at the Manchester Punk Festival and I was amazed by the whole spectacle of their set. They really got the crowd going that night, so much so that I remember the chaos that was happening in the pit more so than the band's performance. This time I made sure to pay attention to the band. I have to say, I don't think I've ever really appreciated just what good musicians Chris (drums), Matt (guitar) and Andy (bass) all are. They play faster than any band I've ever seen but with and crazy amount of technique as well. This was the perfect was to start the night. I thought “If it continues like this, we are in for a real treat.”

Next up were London's Wonk Unit. I haven't seen Wonk Unit since they supported Teenage Bottlerocket at the Camden Underworld back in 2015, so seeing then again felt well overdue. It was also my first time seeing them since they released brand new album Mr Splashy, on TNS Records. I was expecting them to play songs mainly from that album in but in true Wonk Unit fashion they threw in a curveball and played mostly older songs that they hadn't played for a while. A bit of a baptism of fire for stand in guitarist Ed who had only joined the band three days earlier. He played like he had been in the band for years, so kudos to him. Wonk Unit are one of those bands I always find completely captivating live, especially Wonk leader Daddy Wonk, Alex. He has a unique stage presence like nobody else in the UK punk scene. Wonk Unit appear to be extremely popular in Cambridge with the Portland Arms being packed from back to front with plenty of people having a right good dance. Finishing with my personal favourite, Go Easy, Wonk Unit continued the greatness that Revenge Of The Psychotronic had started.

Before the gig, I had predicted that Faintest Idea would probably be the headline act as it was almost a hometown gig for the King's Lynn punks. After ROTPM and Wonk Unit I felt like the band had some work to do to keep the energy and momentum of the night going. Not a problem for a band as good as Faintest Idea though. As is tradition the band's brass section started their set in the pit with the crowd for opener ...Back To The Asylum. It never takes long for a crowd to get dancing when Faintest Idea get going. They even had the crowd singing along by the second song, Youth. The dancing and singing continued throughout their forty five minute set. This is really how a punk gig should be - lots of singing, dancing, smiles and good times. Now the night really felt like a party! If there is a better live band in the UK than Faintest Idea I'm yet to discover them. By my maths I've seen them eight times now and every single time they seem to have gotten better - they seem seriously tight as a band now. They mostly played tracks from their last two albums, the Voice Of Treason and Increasing The Minimum Wage (both available from TNS) before finishing the set with an older one in the form of Too Bad. Perhaps as this was close-to-hometown show they decided to finish on one about where they are from. I was left exhausted after Faintest Idea's set and was left wondering how could Roughneck Riot kick the party on even more.

After Roughneck Riot finished their set, Emma said there was a reason why the Warrington based six piece have the word Riot in their name. That's exactly what happens during their live set. The crowd were so riotous in fact that with a couple of songs left the crowd at the Portland Arms had to be calmed down or risk the show ending early. Bodies were flying round the room to Roughneck Riot's spirited Celtic punk rock music. Playing tracks from newest album Out Of Anger as well as a handful from This Is Our Day and a couple of new tracks, which I assume are being released at some point this year. I forget sometimes just how good Roughneck are as a live band, all six members of the band playing their instruments flawlessly which is pretty incredible to me given the madness that was happening in front of them. I'd find it quite distracting myself. More so than any other band playing that night the energy coming from the stage really shone through - which is saying something considering the ridiculous line up of the night. Highlights of the set for me included Parasites, All That We Know, Anomosity and Ignorance Is Easy. There's also a metaphor I could write about Storm Doris arriving at the Portland Arms a day later than the rest of the country in the form of Roughneck Riot.

I once read that the best parties don't wind down, they just stop at the highest point when it's not possible to top itself anymore. That's definitely what happened on the first night of the TNS Tour. This was a fantastic showcase for one of the best DIY record labels in the country featuring some of the very best musical talent around. Long live TNS!

This review was written by Colin.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Gig Review: Nothington at The Underworld, Camden 21/2/17

It seems like an absolute age since I went to The Underworld in Camden for a gig. There was a time when I was there so much it felt like I may as well get their door stamp tattooed on my hand. These days not that many punk shows seem to happen at The Underworld so it was a nice surprise when one actually came up. The bigger surprise was the band that was announced - Nothington! I kind of figured they weren't a band anymore as it had been so long since I heard any activity from their camp. This year marked their tenth anniversary as band so they decided to tour to celebrate as well as putting out a brand new album named In The End, on Red Scare Industries.

First up was Joe McMahon of Smoke Or Fire and more recently Joe McMahon the solo artist. When he got on stage he mentioned how he had literally just arrived at the venue because the tour van had broken down an hour outside of London on their journey down from Glasgow. So with no time to prepare and being extremely rushed to the stage, you might forgive Joe if it wasn't a classic performance. Despite the chaotic nature of his evening, Joe McMahon played a fantastic set of acoustic covers of old Smoke or Fire songs and songs from his solo LP, Another Life. I particularly enjoyed hearing the stripped down versions of Smoke Or Fire songs, most notably Monsters Among Us – which I found myself singing along with. I'd love to see Joe back doing a headline tour with Smoke Or Fire or with his full band used for Another Life. At least it wouldn't be the last we saw of him this evening though.

Up next were Irish via Newcastle punks Good Friend. You know those times when you've never heard of a band and then you see them for the first time and they completely blow you away. This was one of those times multiplied by a thousand. I can't remember the last time I was this impressed by a band I'd not heard of before. Taking to the stage with minimal fuss, Good Friend's guitarist blasted out a distorted slide and they were off – and had the whole crowd's immediate attention. Playing a bunch of tracks from their recently released Red Scare debut, Ride The Storm, the three piece amazed with their intense but good time sing-a-long punk rock. Bass player and lead vocalist Adam Carroll's singing really stood out. How he can maintain his rough, raw, shouty style is beyond me but it's really, really good. I don't really think my words can do justice to how much I enjoyed Good Friend, they're a band that should be on everyone's radar. I don't know how they stayed under my radar for so long but I am pleased that they're not anymore. I'm very much looking forward to hearing more from them and seeing them again.

Finally it was time for Nothington, with added Joe McMahon on the bass guitar. I'm not sure if he's now a permanent member of Nothington or he was just filling in but it was pretty cool to see him on stage. Playing their brand of melodic gruff punk rock, the people of the Underworld seemed quite excited to see them and have a good sing-a-long. Despite having a brand new album out, the setlist was comprised of mostly older material, probably due to their anniversary. I have to admit that despite knowing of the band for a number of years and always enjoying their music, when it came down to it I wasn't completely knowledgeable on their songs. That didn't prevent me getting swept up in the music and performance though, with the guitarist and singer Jay Northington really catching my attention due to his energetic performance. The band's other guitarist and singer Chris Matulich also put in an energetic display despite not being very well. This was probably the reason that the set was only about 40 minutes long and mainly featured songs where Jay took lead vocals. It was pretty cool seeing Nothington play a show, something I didn't ever really expect to happen. The band were tight, the music was great and everyone had a great time. A good way to spend a Tuesday evening in London.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: February 2017

Here's what Dan, Emma, Omar, Pan, Robyn and myself have been listening to in February 2017.

Meet the team behind this playlist here.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Top Tens: Omar's Top Ten Hot Water Music Songs

Hot Water Music are one of those bands that, if you haven’t heard already but like your punk rock, you’ve probably heard them second hand. They’re namechecked frequently and vociferously by a surprising number of bands, from folk musicians who play up their strong, gruff-sung but big hearted lyrics, to fellow gutsy rockers whose raw throated barking and snarling riffing owes much to those expertly deployed by the two arguable figureheads of the band – which is to say the two guitarist/singers, Chris Wollard and Chuck Ragan.

Both men are physically and sonically contrasting which plays a big part in Hot Water Music’s unique sound; the burly, muscular Ragan’s lower growl is offset by the lanky, shaggy-haired Wollard’s higher pitched rasp, while their guitars weave in and out of each other like a punk rock Ron Wood and Keith Richards. They’ve been categorised as many genres; punk rock, post-hardcore, ‘Org’core and (hilariously) beardcore. But whatever they are, there’s no escaping the fact that they are one of the best bands to have ever come out of Gainesville’s punk scene.

And now to the impossible task which I have before me, which is narrowing their sprawling, consistently excellent oeuvre down to their ten best songs. I would like to point out that this is in no particular order, and not even in chronological order. But it’s as best I can do. Let us begin.

1: Remedy (from Caution, 2002)

It was always going to be “Remedy”, wasn’t it. One of the few Hot Water Music songs that actually got a music video, “Remedy” proved that in spite of this being their second record on a so-say ‘big label’, that absolute bludgeoning fury that powered their early days at the Hardback hadn’t mellowed them one bit. If anything, it sharpened that to a keen edge, the song’s under-three-minute running time only heightening its freight train impact. Ragan re-voices the tired trope of time healing wounds in a way that instils it with a new power and meaning, giving the thrilling aggression a sombre, grounded base. Brian McTernan’s stellar production has to be also credited, as he renders the Gainesville’s quartet in the sharpest focus, as he did on any of his three records with Hot Water Music.

2: Jack Of All Trades (from A Flight And A Crash, 2001)

Perhaps one of the most underrated songs from this record, “Jack Of All Trades” is that big anti-corporate fuck you song that legions of punk rockers have tried to write but end up tripping over their own tongue with one toothless screed after another. Hot Water Music’s decision to keep things mid-tempo, with simmering, crunchy guitars that avoid the trap of mall-punk saturation gives the song a keen edge, with focus given to Ragan and Wollard’s harmonised vocals. Lyrically Ragan takes to task careerist musicians with a terse, vicious pen, eviscerating his targets with every line: “So you've got a tale to tell / Well how about something real? / Feel free and stifle someone / Go on and belittle someone as well / Oh but fucker yeah you'll get yours / So fill up your pockets, and watch them swell.”

3: God Deciding (from Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music, 2002)

Anti-war songs have been a punk rock tradition since the genre’s very inception, and they’ve been done with varying degrees of success. “God Deciding” is one of the very best examples. Eschewing the frequent didacticism that plagues this kind of subject matter, it’s led by a piercing, repeated hook in the verses that really bolsters the whole song, with another of Jason Black’s astonishingly mobile basslines grounding the whole lot alongside George Rebelo’s crashing drums. Ragan’s lyrics in this particular cut are impressionistic but totally compelling, as he manages to distil the whole sordid nature of bloody combat across the years and time itself, critiquing the human cost as well as the vile chickenhawks who push the violence to such ugly ends; “So who will pay for all the tears / All the lives, from either side? / All the years, all the time of living blind / Playing "God Deciding?" And who will die next in line / For the lie, justified / For the rise of sitting high playing "God Deciding?”. One of Hot Water Music’s most powerful songs, without question.

4: The Bitter End (from BYO Split Series Volume I, 1999)

Opening with an almost delicate hammer-on/pull-off lick from Chris Wollard, this is one of the lengthier songs in the Gainesville foursome’s repertoire, but fortunately it’s so excellent you’d rather it didn’t finish. One of the things that defines Hot Water Music is that, for a gruff, growling guitar band, the sentiments expressed in their music are often big hearted and indicative of a deep and abiding love for humanity’s best aspects and the inherent power of tolerance, love and acceptance, rather than simply resorting to nihilistic flailing. “The Bitter End” is a perfect example of this, as Wollard’s keening rasp opines; “When you let your / Hate endure / More prominent / Than your love / Or your trust you / Let it push us away .” The music spits and roars, dynamically changing between a comparatively sparse verse and a guitar drenched chorus before splitting open into a soaring, spiralling outro, with Ragan and Wollard’s six string fury duelling as much as it embraces, until it finally, sadly, comes to an end, with one last note ringing out into nothing. A finish befitting of the song’s title.

5: All Heads Down (from The New What Next, 2004)

Comparing a song to Fugazi is always a compliment, and this is no exception, with a jerking, almost funky single note guitar line in the verses from Chris Wollard complimenting the quieter, ringing line from Ragan in the background, with the slow, steady thump of the drums insistently marching into your brain. The chorus explodes into a restrained yet furious maelstrom, and thematically this could be taken as one of the most politically inclined songs that Hot Water Music have ever written before or since. Ragan completely takes to task the sickening, shameless behaviour of corrupted demagogues with line after line of gruff vitriol; “All I ask is how we carry on / Tricked and blind / Raped and robbed / […] Freedom fades like / Promises made for the trade of a vote in the game.”

6: Paper Thin (from A Flight And A Crash, 2001)

I would be both remiss in calling myself a fan of Hot Water Music, and also piss off a lot of people, if this one didn’t appear. Fortunately the song itself is so excellent it completely validates its vaunted position in their body of work. Clocking in at just under two and a half minutes, the song is a perfect paean to the pain in having a loved one in hospital, as heart-breaking as it is rousing. Chris Wollard heads the song with a consummate, rugged fury, giving a powerful voice to a topic that could easily veer into the maudlin with a careful hand, while the song itself is about as perfect and concise a punk rock song as it gets, with a simple, memorable hammer on/off lick and a chorus that sticks in the chest and the heart; “White white walls, and hospitals / All of us feel trivial / Paper thin, tentative and waiting.”

7: Turnstile (from Fuel For The Hate Game, 1997)

One of their oldest songs, “Turnstile” is the sound of a young band raging as hard as possible with complete righteous energy – which it to say it’s not perfect, perhaps lacking the more considered approach of Hot Water Music’s later material, but the song makes up for this with sheer, ripping energy. It’s a live favourite for that same reason, with the building blocks that would make up Hot Water Music’s captivating sound beginning to take shape; the interlaced guitars and dual vocals, with dynamic shifts and changes. The song barrels along at a righteous pace before the outro almost literally explodes, with a bellow of “Lift yourself up” from Ragan, while the time signature shifts and the drums employ an off-kilter, almost jazzy pattern, both shattering the listener’s eardrums and tingling their spine.

8: Alachua (from Never Ender, 2001)

Although production-wise, this track recalls the fuzzier, looser early Hot Water Music sound, the song within is a classic. This track is led by Chris Wollard, who seems struck by the trials and tribulations of growing up and losing adoration for things once loved; “[…] So show me how this all works / ’cause all these things just seem empty / And that’s what hurts.” The chorus is one of their best and most original, as it has both Ragan and Wollard singing completely different lyrics, weaving in and out of each other in much the same way as their instruments, as if in a stream of desperate consciousness. Meanwhile the music backing it all is exemplary, with a muscular palm muted guitar hook from Wollard that sets up the huge charge of each chorus.

9: Home (from Till The Wheels Fall Off, 2008)

This was a song originally intended to be on 2004’s The New What Next, and for some reason it was left off. I will never understand why, as it’s one of the best songs Hot Water Music have ever recorded. It manages that duality of being a gutsy, crunching slab of punk rock while at the same time being a sweet, tenderly written song for anyone having to spend time away from those they love. This is Ragan’s song through and through, as his gravelly bark gives real strength and weight to the song’s lyrics, with some really beautiful lines; “Still so far away from you, it cuts so quick and clean / Still so far away from you but I still want more / I can close my lips before I taste ours soaked in wine / Lay my head upon your breast and count your beats and smiles.”

The song is also notable for being unabashedly melodic, even as it rampages through its slightly-over three minute length, and in a relatively rare instance, contains a guitar solo which simply shreds – completely blowing back your hair before the endlessly repeatable outro brings it all to a close.

10: Trusty Chords (from Caution, 2002)

I simply couldn’t leave this one out. It’s arguably their best known song, clocking in at just shy of three minutes, with an unbeatable chorus that is just specific enough to catch the ear but relatable enough for anyone to smile in nostalgic recognition; “I hate this place but I love these chords. “An empty fate just means an even score. / And the pain this morning... / It filled my head. / It's Jameson. / It means that I'm not dead.”

It’s been covered more than a few times, with varying degrees of success, but no one gets it done quite like the original four. Vocally this is almost entirely Wollard, with his cracked, yearning roar elevating the song to a whole different level than any other mall pop punk bottom feeder. While musically “Trusty Chords” sounds simple, it’s one of those truly great pieces of music that reveals its complexity the more you listen to it. The guitar parts are so excellently counterpointed, for rather than just idiotically thumping the same power chords, Ragan rides sustained legato notes in the verses while Wollard bounces between octaves, and as the chorus bursts into life Wollard’s barre chord fury is matched by some nimble hammer on/pull off work from Ragan, really adding some sparkle and texture to the mix. It’s perhaps a microcosm of the band in a single song; simplistic on first glance but richly layered and rewarding the listener with something new each time it’s heard. It’s a classic, in short.

Well, that was extremely hard, if I’m perfectly honest. There are plenty more songs that could have made the list, but for the sake of brevity they had to be omitted for now. Either way, pick any one of these, as you can’t really miss, and then just buy the record it’s from if you like what you hear. Chances are it’ll make you buy their whole back catalogue anyway. Which you should.

This top ten was written by Omar Ramlugon

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Album Review: After The Party by The Menzingers (by Emma Prew)

The Menzingers’ fifth album has felt a rather long time coming – although maybe I’m just saying that because they’re one of my absolute favourite bands and so I could be considered a bit bias. It could also be said that I might be a tad bias when reviewing the aforementioned fifth album, After The Party. That said, I have had mixed feelings about the songs they released early from it over the past few months – one I loved instantly but the others were growers for me. But, of course, that didn’t stop me from being hella excited about a new Menzos album.

My vinyl copy was delivered on release day and featured a lovely little Good Things pun written on the back of the packaging – ‘FRAGILE. NOT all good things should fall apart’. So cheers Banquet Records, you made my Friday. I’ve only listened to the vinyl version of the album once, at least at the point of writing this review, but the digital version has had more than a few plays by me. And so, without further ado, After The Party…

The first song is called Tellin’ Lies and it gets the album off to a promising start with some big guitars. It definitely feels like a decent introduction to what I’m hoping is going to be an excellent album and it isn’t long before Greg’s voice can be heard singing Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible’. This song sets the tone for much of the album with its theme of realising that you’re getting that little bit older and wondering if that means you should change your ways. The chorus is poppier than I was expecting but it’s sure as hell catchy and I can’t wait to yell it along with the band at a live show soon. ‘Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?’

The big guitars continue into the second song, Thick As Thieves. The guitars actually remind me a bit of 80s metal music – which is not something I ever thought I’d say about this band! This is a slower track than the first and sees Tom take on the vocal duties. There are some pretty pounding drums behind the melodic guitar playing. The verses are relatively slow-paced, not dissimilar to Sculptors And Vandals from On The Impossible Past, while the chorus is a tad faster and louder. Thick as thieves, On our knees with an ocean in between’ The song is about remaining close friends with someone despite the physical distance between you.

Lookers is next up on After The Party. You’ve probably heard this track already yourself, even if you haven’t listened to the whole album yet, as this was the first song that the band previewed ahead of anything else – several months ago. I have to admit that I wasn’t 100% sold on my first few listens to the song but now hearing it as part of the full album I do like it a lot more. Thick As Thieves fades out and Lookers begins slowly, with Greg’s vocals sounding muffled and echoey at first. After 30 seconds or so, the volume is cranked up and the same lyrics are repeated again. The song has a poppier tone – probably one reason why I wasn’t so sold on it at first – but the pure sense of nostalgia can be enjoyed by all.

The fourth track is named Midwestern States and is a song about wanting to go somewhere, anywhere, so long as it’s different from where you started – in this case, the midwest of America. This song has definitely got one of the best choruses of the album – ‘You said LA's only two days if we drive straight, Denver if we get tired, Said you didn't mind stopping just as long as we got out of the midwest states, The midwestern states’. You’ve kinda gotta hear it as Greg sings it to fully know what I mean. Another one that I bet will be brilliant live.

Charlie’s Army is a weird song but maybe I’m just saying that because it’s quite different. It’s upbeat and pretty lighthearted – I mean, aside from the fact that it’s about Greg’s (or a metaphorical man’s) girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend ‘coming for him’. The chorus is super accessible, almost to the extent that I’m not actually sure I like it and it feels like some sort of guilty pleasure if I was to say that I do. Perhaps I will think of the song differently after I hear it live for the first time. I’ll probably leave the gig with ‘Charlie's army's coming for me, He says, "Boy, you're gonna be sorry”’ in my head either way.

Tom is back for House On Fire, the sixth song on After The Party. As much as I love Greg’s voice and his songs, I think that Tom is stupidly underrated. On the earlier Menzingers albums I think he sang on more songs – although some were probably more gang vocal style songs from both Tom and Greg. House On Fire is a continuation of the ‘getting older and wondering what to do with your life’ theme but this time it’s great to hear Tom’s point of view. ‘Waiting for your life to start then you die, Was your heart beating in the first place?’

As we reach the middle point of the album – or side A if you’re listening to the album on vinyl – there is a significantly slower song than anything that we’ve heard so far. Black Mass almost sounds like it could be included on more of a folky sounding album – which is also not something I ever thought I’d say about The Menzingers. At least they can’t be accused of making songs that all sound the same! Black Mass has quite a melancholic tone, with a chorus of ‘But hey, do you really want to throw it away?, Do you really want to throw it away?, I'd do anything to make you stay’. But the last line of the song offers a sense of hope – ‘For just a little, just a little bit longer…’.

Boy Blue is the first track on side B, or you could just call it track 8. This is a song led by Tom and it reminds me a lot of Chamberlain Waits era Menzos – except a bit of a slicker sound with more refined vocals. The chorus has some pretty great rhymes too – ‘The boy blue with the silver spoon, They found him dying in the living room, Say goodbye to the bride and groom, Send them off on their honeymoon’. Great stuff.

Bad Catholics is one of the other songs that was released out into the world ahead of the full album and I heard it live for the first time at The Fest 15. As you can probably gather from the title alone, this is a song about rebelling against the religious background that you were brought up with. The song begins with a catchy guitar riff and the catchiness continues into the lyrics. Interestingly, apparently this song wasn’t supposed to be on the album but the band were impressed by the audience’s reaction to its live debut. I can confirm that this song does sound great live!

Next up is a song that is in parts as sad as it is beautiful. Your Wild Years is a slower paced song in which Greg expresses how he knows his girl deserves better than he can offer – ‘I toss and turn at four in the morning, Petrified of where our future's going, ’Cause you're the kind of girl that deserves the world, I'm just the kind of guy that promises the world.’ 

The Bars is a pure drinking song, although not in the typical rowdy style that you might expect and that’s what I love about it. It’s a slow builder and the guitar at the beginning sounds a little like this could be some sort of alternative national anthem (maybe that’s just me!). An anthem for bars at least – no matter how shitty they may seem, no matter how many times you end up losing your wallet, phone and keys and no matter how horribly hungover you feel the next day. There’s something that always draws you, or Tom in this case, back. It actually reminds me a bit of Dropkick Murphys or something like that, perhaps just because it's such a ‘drinking song’.

Now that we’re drawing towards the end of the album, we come to the title track. After The Party is one of my favourite songs on this album and I loved it from the first listen – unlike the other couple of tracks that were released ahead of the full album. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of previous Menzingers songs that I have loved – and still do. It doesn’t try to do anything crazily new, it just is brilliant. I could quote the lyrics of the whole song because it’s all great but, of course, the chorus stands out the most. ‘Everybody wants to get famous, But you just want to dance in a basement, You don't care if anyone is watching, Just as long as you stay in motion, We put miles on these old jean jackets, Got caught up in the drunk conversations, But after the party, it's me and you, After the party, it's me and you.’

I would have been more than happy if the album ended there but in true Menzingers style, they end After The Party with a slower track. The melodic and melancholic opening guitar part of Livin’ Ain’t Easy definitely reminds me of When You Died from Rented World but this song isn’t quite that sad. The song sums up the overall theme of the album, continuing to live your life despite getting older and despite how difficult it might seem sometimes. The bridge is a lyrical highlight for me – ‘Oh you know it breaks my heart, Watching your whole life fall apart, While bastards dance off with the night, As we try to break free with all our might.’

No matter what The Menzingers do, there are always going to be people who compare new material to their 2012 third album, On The Impossible Past – and, for the most part, people will probably say that OTIP was better. That album is without a doubt one of my favourite albums of all time, let alone just my favourite Menzos album, but I am also able to acknowledge that the band are not in the same place that they were 5 or more years ago.

They will never write another On The Impossible Past and I’m okay with that. I think I need to listen to After The Party a few more times (as I did with each of their previous releases) but I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this album. It is more varied that I was expecting and that’s no bad thing. I’m looking forward to hearing some of these songs live in April and you should be too.

If you should desire it, you can find The Menzingers on Facebook here and pick up the record from Banquet Records here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Album Review: Sound The Alarm by Less Than Jake

I don't think I get more excited by a band releasing new material than I do with Less Than Jake (maybe the Descendents, but it's the Descendents). So I was incredibly excited when the Gainesville ska punk legends announced that they would be releasing a new EP named Sound The Alarm. Their first new material since 2013! That's the longest time! Released on Pure Noise Records, of course I was very much looking forward to hearing it.

Sound The Alarm gets going with the song Call To Arms. Beginning with some thick Roger Lima basslines before guitarist Chris DeMakes comes in with some of his instantly recognisable vocals. Call To Arms is about realising that you have messed up a lot and you're getting close to your limit but having the faith that you can "turn it all around." As Less Than Jake have aged they have developed a more mature sounding ska punk style and after one track on this release I already think it's sounding fantastic. The second track continues this more mature sound as Roger takes lead vocal duties. Whatever The Weather takes a look at the deep, dark places that depression can take you and realising that if you stay strong and stick to your own path you can come through it. After an extended horn section things get a little quiet before a Roger sings "It's Out Of My Hands, These Too Heavy Times, No Matter The Weather, I'll Never Waver." I can just imagine a massive Less Than Jake crowd singing this back at the band and it being an amazing uplifting moment. Bomb Drop is classic Less Than Jake. It's fast paced, has plenty of horns and Chris and Roger share vocal duties. This, for me, is when Less Than Jake are at their very best. Bomb Drop is another track that looks at mental health and the ways that people deal with it. On this occasion the message is about not waiting around for things to get better and taking the initiative to try and make things right for yourself. In proper Less Than Jake style, Bomb Drop is full of great hooks and catchy lyrics - you'll be humming for days after you first hear it.

The fourth song on Sound The Alarm is named Welcome To My Life. Welcome To My Life is a slower, more reggae and ska based tune similar to the classic Science Of Selling Yourself Short. Roger's voice is on top form as he sings a song about having the best intentions but things always going wrong. As much as I love fast Less Than Jake, when the band do decide to slow things down for a song it's always very special. Good Sign brings the pace back up with a bouncy ska punk sound. Chris's vocals throughout the verses are fast and the whole sound will get a pit skanking away with smiles on their faces. Good Sign is about discovering the light at the end of the tunnel. Coming through all of the horrible, bad times and now beginning to "fight through the doom and gloom." The penultimate track on Sound The Alarm is named Years Of Living Dangerously. This is another slower Less Than Jake track. The guitars really stood out to me on my first listen of the song. They have been recording in a way that gives them a slight echo that makes them sound fantastic. The track itself is about all those times you've tried to talk your problems through but not being able to work out what is wrong with you. Last, but my no means least, is Things Change. Returning to the classic Less Than Jake sound, Buddy and JR start the track off with some of their trademark horns. Less Than Jake have one of the best and most unique horn sections in the genre today. The horns build the start of the song up brilliantly, letting you know that something big and exciting is about to happen. Something big and exciting does happen as Chris and Roger again share vocal duties on this high octane ska punk banger about realising no matter how bad things get that things can change for the better. This is a great, uplifting way to finish an EP that is mostly about the different stages and aspects of mental health.

It's been four long years since Less Than Jake released a new record and it's well worth the wait. Musically it's as good as ever. Less Than Jake will never reinvent the wheel musically but as they've gotten older they've found a sound that is more mature but it's still the same Less Than Jake that have been loved the world over for more than twenty years. Sound The Alarm is another classic to add to Less Than Jake's impressive discography.

Stream and download Sound The Alarm here: https://purenoise.bandcamp.com/album/sound-the-alarm-ep-2

Like Less Than Jake here: https://www.facebook.com/lessthanjake/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Album Review: Blame Culture by Riskee and the Ridicule

Riskee and the Ridicule are a four piece grime punk band from Kent. “Grime punk?” You ask. What on earth is grime punk!? Grime punk is what you get when a grime MC links up with a punk band and creates one of the most energetic and unique sounds you'll hear all year. At the beginning of the year the band released a brand new album named Blame Culture.

The album starts out with the track Nobody Likes Us. I wonder if this was a light hearted jab towards the punk police who might argue that Riskee and the Ridicule don't fit in with the more traditional punk rock music. I'd argue that, immediately, Riskee and the Ridicule are one of the most punk bands I've heard in a long time - doing things completely their own way. Musically it's charged with energy that will get you dancing from the outset, before the chorus hits and you'll be singing defiantly with the band. The second song is named Banger and that's exactly what it is. It's a party song that's certainly going to be a live favourite. You can imagine a packed basement, dripping in sweat going wild for this song. Banger is about being happy with what you have, knowing that eventually you'll have more. I liked the use of a second, hoarser vocal, adding a bit of anger to the track. On my first listen through of Blame Culture, the third track Hipster was probably one of my favourites. It's such fun! On my first listen I thought Hipster was just about having a girlfriend who is cooler than you but as you listen more carefully you discover it's about someone's struggles to keep their girl happy and the fear that she'll leave you for someone she perceives to be cooler than you.

The fourth song, Drown, is a song that really showcases vocalist Scott Picking's voice - whether spitting down some sick bars (I think that's what the kids call it) or singing with some fantastic melody and harmony, he really impresses. I was also fairly surprised by the fact that he could sing as well as rap. The guitars on the track are fantastic. When Drown first began I was reminded of Swedish skate punk legends Millencolin - that's always a great thing. Drown finishes with a nice piece of spoken word poetry that really grabbed my attention as it was not something I was expecting after such a high octane track. This really displays Scott's incredible skill as a lyricist. Up next is the song Molotov Cocktails. It starts out slowly, in an almost sad and mournful manner. As the introduction progresses the song slowly grows with Scott again switching between rapping and singing. His raps in particular really give the song a massive sense of building. Although I did expect the pay off at the end to be bigger it was still a great song. It's a song with a great crossover appeal to it. The same can be said with the following song, Running On Air. Despite being released in January I see this song as a big pop punk song summer anthem. It's something a big festival crowd could sing-a-long to whilst having a great big boogie. Of course there are some high tempo verses that do a great job getting you back to the chorus for the next big sing-a-long. It's great to hear that Riskee and the Ridicule aren't one trick ponies. Party sees some brass, courtesy of Ghouls’ Russell Spencer and Ben Marion, join the fray. The brass, as well as a pounding drumbeat, give the illusion of marching which works as this is an inspirational song about making the best of things and making sure you live your life to the fullest. With another chorus that will get you singing with the band instantly, this will be another big live favourite. At the end of Party comes another great piece of poetry before we get to the eighth song Elmley To Holloway. Here we have some more summer pop punk fun. It didn't get me quite like Running On Air did but it's still a highly enjoyable song.

Backwords is another surprising track. Backwords is an acoustic track. I really wasn't expecting to find an acoustic song on Blame Culture! Of course the jumping between song and rap is there and that adds a bit of energy but without the full band it did seem as if the song was lacking something. However, full credit for trying to do something different on the album. Villain sees the full band come back - guitarist Jimbo Algony, bassist Dave Thomas and drummer Matt Verrell really do a fantastic job on this album and it was really noticeable when they weren't present. Scott will undoubtedly take a lot of the limelight for the band but he is joined by three incredible musicians. Villains is a great song with a strong social commentary throughout. After another great poem we have the penultimate track, Daddy's Boots. This was another big favourite on my first listen of Blame Culture. It's a bit of a working class anthem about working hard to get what you want and being strong no matter what happens. There is also some more social commentary about the divide between the classes. This is quite a hard hitting track and you can feel the band's anger oozing out of track. We'll Never Belong is the name of the final track on Blame Culture. Like the opening track, Nobody Likes Us, it's about not fitting in and not caring about it. Where Nobody Likes Us felt more angry about the situation We'll Never Belong is about being proud to be different. This is much more upbeat and is another huge anthem. Most bands struggle to write one anthem per album, I've lost count of the amount on Blame Culture. What a great pop pun tune. It's fun, thoughtful and so uplifting.

I'll be the first to admit that when I was presented with the opportunity to review a grime punk album I was quite sceptical and a little hesitant. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't like it and wasn't really sure what I could write about it. All of my scepticism and hesitancy quickly vanished after hearing the first verse and chorus and I now will proudly say I love Riskee and the Ridicule and thought Blame Culture was an absolutely cracking album. I now really want to see them live - I imagine it's a hell of a lot of fun!

Stream and download Blame Culture here: https://riskeeandtheridicule.bandcamp.com/album/blame-culture-2017

Like Riskee and the Ridicule here: https://www.facebook.com/riskeeandtheridicule

This review was written by Colin.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Art of Punk: Arturo Vega and The Ramones

Arturo Vega was a Mexican-born graphic designer, art director and artist, most famously known for having created the logo for The Ramones. He had such a close relationship with the band that he was commonly known as ‘the fifth Ramone’ – plus he went to all but two of their shows within their 22 year career! As a huge fan of The Ramones, Colin insisted that I make Arturo my next Art of Punk subject – to be honest, he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t thought to suggest it before. Sadly Arturo Vega passed away in 2013 at age 65 but legendary imagery that he left behind will never be forgotten.

Let’s start with The Ramones logo. It was created as a sort of parody of the US presidential seal but featuring an apple tree branch (instead of an olive branch) and a baseball bat –  a reference to the song Beat On The Brat from the band’s first album. Instead of saying ‘Seal of the President of the United States’, The Ramones logo, of course, famously states the (original) members of the band’s names – Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy. A few years before he died, Arturo had the logo tattooed on his back – interestingly he swapped out Tommy for ‘Arty’, which I can only assume is himself.

The logo is one of the most famous in the history of music, let alone punk rock. It is also probably one of the most iconic logos that has been appropriated for other uses, including other bands borrowing its design – Colin has a Masked Intruder t-shirt that comes to mind. I also came across this Pokémon logo that I found rather amusing.

Arturo is credited with pretty much creating the idea of a band t-shirt – I know, wow! Even before he’d created the famous logo, he printed some shirts with just ‘RAMONES’ on them. The band themselves were skeptical about whether anyone would buy them – especially as they were an unknown act at the time. But music fans did buy them. And when the presidential seal logo was designed and printed onto t-shirts they bought even more. Demand was so high, even in the early days, that Arturo had to outsource the printing of the shirts to other companies.

This quote taken from Hampton Arts Hub sums up how the use of the logo exploded:
Soon that deal grew into something much larger as he made licensing deals around the world for everything from sneakers and socks, to shorts, jackets, wallets, skate boards, baby clothes, hats and stickers – all bearing the logo. They were, and still are, sold in stores globally and online. They sold more T-shirts than records and probably they sold more T-shirts than tickets.’

As well as t-shirts, Arturo produced many of the images for The Ramones’ record sleeves. This was long before people were designing album artwork on computers and Arturo’s early designs for the band were created using photos taken in a photobooth. And for their live performances, he hand-painted huge banners! I dread to think how much time and patience that must have taken to get it looking just perfect.

This art of punk post has taken me an unusually long time to put together. This is partly because I’m super busy but also because I keep getting sidetracked reading articles and listening to podcasts about Arturo and The Ramones. I also spent a fair amount of time flicking through Colin’s copy of On The Road with The Ramones, a book written by Monte A Melnick, the band’s close friend and tour manager – a must have for any punk fan.

At some point this year we'd like to go to Berlin and visit the Ramones Museum, so if / when that happens I imagine I will get to see a whole load more of Arturo Vega's work. Maybe I'll share some photographs in a blog post…

On a side note:

You may or may not have noticed that Art of Punk posts have become very infrequent over the past couple of months. This is partly, as I mentioned before, because I am super busy in life in general but also because I've been dedicating more of my time to writing album reviews. There’s just so much great stuff in punk rock at the moment that I, and the rest of the CPRW team, want to write about, so Art of Punk is going to be taking a bit of a backseat for a while.

There will still be Art of Punk posts as and when I write them although they will no longer be posted specifically on Tuesdays – in fact, more often than not they will be posted on Fridays. If anyone has any ideas of suggestions for future posts then let me know! (Tweet me, etc.) Until then…

This post was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Album Review: Bury Me In Philly by Dave (by Emma Prew)

You may know Dave Hause as an original member of the melodic hardcore band Paint It Black or as one quarter of punk rock super group The Falcon. You probably also know him as vocalist and guitarist in The not-officailly-broken-up Loved Ones but I, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, listened to his solo material first before any of the bands I’ve just mentioned. For that reason, although I’ve listened to his previous bands and The Loved Ones more so than any other, it is his solo albums that have always connected with me the most. His last album, Devour, was released way back in 2013 and I honestly wasn’t 100% sure that he’d be making any more music as a solo artist but I’m sure glad that he has.

Bury Me In Philly is the title of Dave Hause’s third album, released earlier this month on Rise Records. I had been eagerly awaiting it for months, years even, and I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed.

The album kicks off with a punchy and upbeat track, With You. The song opens immediately with vocals as Dave sings I couldn't stop the ringing in my head…’. The music is Americana-influenced with a clear piano melody as well as warm slightly fuzzy guitars but there’s also a hint of Dave’s previous bands in the pacing of the track. The chorus is a highlight for me – ‘Oh, ache with me and I'll ache with you, I want to do it with you, Oh, dance with me we'll all be dead soon, I want to do it with you, Yeah, I want to do it with you.’ So good!

The Flinch is next up on Bury Me In Philly and begins with some more great guitar work – in fact there’s some great Americana guitar sounds on the whole album! This is a slower song than the first track on the album but I think that just helps to emphasise the melody. The Flinch is about how when you’re younger you can sometimes find yourself in certain situations that make you react with fear or anxiety – or flinch – but it’s possible to get over the fear when you get older and perhaps learn from your mistakes.

The opening guitar riff of My Mistake instantly brought to mind Bruce Springsteen for me (although I have just finished his book, Born To Run, so he’s been on my mind anyway!) – which is never a bad thing. The upbeat nature of With You is back for this song and it’s songs like this where I think Dave Hause really shines. The chorus is also super catchy – ‘It was my mistake, I was asleep but now I’m wide awake, wide awake…’. It had me nodding my head and tapping my feet from my first listen and, after a few listens of the whole album, I think this is my favourite track on Bury Me In Philly. 

We’re going to see Dave Hause at the Garage in London next month where he is billed as ‘Dave Hause and The Mermaid’ and The Mermaid is the name of the fourth song on the album. It does have me wondering which came first, the name for his band or this song – I’m betting the song. The Mermaid is a little bit of a change of tone and musical style with more of a soulful and bluesy sound. The chorus of ‘Ain’t gonna treat you like you (x3), Treat yourself. Ain’t gonna treat you like you (x3).’ sounds like it is sung by someone else, minus the ‘Treat yourself’ part so I’d be interested to hear it live.

Shaky Jesus is the next song on Bury Me In Philly. I’m not sure of Dave Hause’s religious views and so I’m not sure how literally to interpret the lyrics, but I’ll do my best. I think this is a song about being brought up as a Christian but doubting your allegiance to the religion as time goes on and instead finding love in the form of a person instead of Jesus. ‘If Jesus loves me now, Can he save my little sermon somehow, Because I found a little promised land, And I’m reaching out to take her hand and drown, If Jesus loves me now.’ Or it could all be one big metaphor. Who knows!

Next up is the more acoustic-based Divine Lorraine. The jangly guitars are more akin to Dave’s first album, Resolutions, although this song sounds more mature – there’s a real sense of growth from that first album, through to Devour and now to Bury Me In Philly. The middle of the song is interesting as Dave sings the chorus – ‘You get ground so down that you’ll forget the sound’… – which is then followed by a lovely smooth guitar solo and, after that, the chorus is repeated again. It’s simple but is not really something I’ve noticed in a song before.

The seventh track on Bury Me In Philly is sweary little number and not only in its name – Dirty Fucker. Dave clearly had some anger to vent when he wrote this song and what better way to let it all out than through singing and playing music. As you might imagine from the curse content, this isn’t a slow song but it’s also not your typical aggressive punk style. I’d even say that Dave ends up sounding pretty suave. That said, I probably wouldn’t pick this song to play out loud in the office or to my parents… except I did just that earlier today (as part of the whole album), oops.

The Ride is another Springsteen-esque track that also somehow manages to remind me of ‘I Want Candy’. It must be the rhythm. (In fact, upon Googling, I have discovered that this syncopated rhythm has a name – the Bo Diddley beat.) The vocal lines are echoed by the guitar – plus, I think I hear a little tambourine. ‘The ride’ in this song refers to a relationship that’s going great but also feels like you’re speeding through things. Despite this, you know you’ve got something special so are gonna stick at it, no matter how crazy it may seem to others. ‘We might going too fast, Everybody got something to say talking ‘bout it’ll never last, But it’s a helluva ride to take even if we crash.’

As the album edges towards its close, the feel-good factor is really pumped into Helluva Home. Opening with some classic harmonica, when the vocals kick in you can’t help but smile along to Dave’s lyrics. By the chorus you are fully invested in his connection to his hometown and I personally can’t help but sing along to ‘It’s a helluva home, It’s a helluva home, Where else would I go.’ There are things about your hometown that you might dislike but it will always be your home – it’s what you know.

The acoustic guitar is back for the penultimate track, Wild Love. It is probably the quietest and most heartfelt song on the album with the full focus being on Dave’s voice. In The Ride he sang of pursuing a seemingly crazy relationship and Wild Love feels like the next chapter in that tale. ‘Can this wild love, wild love, wild love, Keep me stoned, Wild love, wild love, can wild love, Build me a home.’ 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this was the end of the album but Dave has one last statement to make with the album closer and title track, Bury Me In Philly. The volume and pure electricity is cranked up again and Dave really gives it everything he’s got in this song. The song, despite the mention of dying, is a carefree anthem about escaping your hometown for the negative connotations you’ve attached to it but knowing that you’ll be content to return then when you die. They can bury me in Philly in the end, In the end…’

Dave Hause’s last album, although brilliant, was pretty dark in its subject matter. I’m pleased to say that Bury Me In Philly sounds like it was written in a far happier place and that happier place makes for an excellent album.

If you should desire it, you can find Dave Hause on Facebook here and pick up the record from Banquet Records here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Album Review: Goathorse by The Priceduifkes

The Priceduifkes are a long running pop punk band from Belgium. On February 25th the band have a brand new album out named Goathorse, on Bearded Punk Records. I'm a big fan of the Ramonescore style of pop punk that the band play so was really looking forward to checking this album out.

Goathorse begins with the song Bad Dreams Pt. 2. Beginning with a simple slow guitar riff before a little bit of percussion, the song explodes into life. Played hard and fast in the Ramonescore way the song really gets the album off to an explosive start. There are some repetitive but extremely catchy lyrics throughout the song, chief among them is "I Hope This Is Just A Dream, Bad Things Coming After Me." The second track in true pop punk fashion is just over a minute long. Named (No) Burkini Beach Party (Tonight) it starts out with a heavy drum roll before the song sets off like Usain Bolt and barely slows down for its duration. I got out of breath just listening to the song, so playing and singing it must be a huge effort. Perhaps that's part of the reason it was so short. Curiously the third song, named 1.38, is also one minute and thirty-eight seconds long. I hope this was done on purpose. Here the bass player of the band gets a chance to shine at the start of the track. It's about getting through a long day and being excited to see somebody. I loved this track - it might be one of the best pop punk songs I've heard for a very long time. I kind of wanted the fourth song It's Raining Shit (Hallelujah) to be a cover of The Weather Girls classic It's Raining Men. It's not but it's still a bloody good song. The track is about feeling like nothing ever goes your way, something I'm sure most of us can relate to at some point of our lives. There is a great gang vocal chorus towards the end of the song that goes "Everywhere I Go I Fuck Things Up Somehow, And I Can't Help But Feeling Like Some Sad Fucking Clown."

The fifth song on Goathorse is named Greetings From Angerville. There is a bit more of a softer, good time pop punk sound here than on a couple of the previous songs which were much more intense. The song really showcases The Priceduifkes’ rhythm section, with some great drumming throughout and a excellent bass solo during the track. Full Clown sees The Priceduifkes slow things down just a little bit and throw a little bit of 60s rock 'n' roll into their pop punk mix. I love this side of The Priceduifkes. It's a bit more laid back and fun than the full speed pop punk assault they also do oh so well. The breakdown in the middle of the song really slows the record down and puts you in a little bit of a chilled mood before the song picks back up for a final rockin' chorus. Full Clown is about growing up and realising that you can't do the stupid things you used to do when you were younger. The chill out doesn't last long as the seventh track, Miracle Man, hits you like a sack of bricks to the face. The 60s rock influence remains but the bands intensity returns with a track about getting drunk and terrorising people. I Can Dance continues the warp speed pop punk good times. If we were on the Millenium Falcon, Chewbacca has just punched it. I have no idea what the song is about as the speed that everything is going makes it impossible to have any idea what exactly is going on. I'm breathless just listening to the track. I can only assume it's about dancing, possibly about the Dradenspinnen.

Danni's In Denial really reminded me of American pop punk bands such as The Copyrights and The Dopamines. The buzzsaw like guitars give the song its intensity and the vocals take care of the melodic element of the track. It's fairly obvious what the song is about, a girl named Danni who is in denial. I can see this track becoming a favourite at a Priceduifkes show with the crowd joining the band in the cries of "She's Not Okay" that happen towards the end of the song. The tenth song is named Too Busy Having A Blast and is about the idea that you have to write about everything that you do on social media rather than just getting on with having lots of fun. I really like the message of this song as I think that people can spend far too much time on social media telling people what they are or have been doing. This is a song that actually makes you think and have a look at yourself. Something, to be completely honest, I did not expect to happen whilst listening to this album. Excellent social commentary. The penultimate song on Goathorse is named Braincracking. Continuing the buzzsaw pop punk style, Braincracking is a track that is as catchy as the common cold (something I currently have, oh woe is me!) and you will be singing along from the very first listen. The song is about being at the end of the line mentally and eventually breaking down. The track uses two different vocalists to great effect. With one singer taking control of the verse and the other having the chorus. Fantastic pop punk. Last, but by no means least, is Getwood City. It's a song that originally appeared on a 2014 split release with the great Direct Hit! The track starts out with the lyrics "Fucked Up On Anti-Biotics And Beer, There's No Place That I'd Rather Be Than Here" - it's clear that the track is about having the time of your life at a gig. The song sounds like it's an anthem for the band's scene in Belgium and Holland. I can see a packed and sweaty basement full of people going absolutely mental singing and dancing to the track. There is a fun nod to the Guns 'N' Roses track Paradise City where the band start incorporate the famous riff into the song before finishing the song and the album with a barrage of "whoas".

What a fantastic album. I've been a fan of the Priceduifkes for a while but on Goathorse they really take things to the next level. It's only February but I think you'll be hard pressed to find a better pop punk release this year.

Pre-order Goathorse here: http://beardedpunk.com/cd/priceduifkes-goathorse

Like The Priceduifkes here: https://www.facebook.com/thepriceduifkes/

This review was written by Colin

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Top Tens: Top Ten Punk Rock Love Songs (by Robyn Pierce)

Since the capitalist love festival of Valentine’s Day is today, it seems appropriate to put together a top ten list of punk rock love songs. Love and uncomplicated relationships is not a common theme in punk (and, to be fair, many of the songs that I’ve chosen are from pop punk bands, which are traditionally less serious in their choice of subject matter) but there were still quite a few tracks to sort through before settling on this final ten. I decided early on that I wouldn’t choose any ballads and that all the love songs on this list would be up-tempo songs that you can move around to. If you don’t have anyone to share this Valentine’s Day with, just remember that most of these songs can be sung to pizza too.

10. I Think I Love You by Less Than Jake
I know that Less Than Jake’s version of this song is just one of many covers, but LTJ’s sped-up version is the first one I ever heard and it stuck with me. It captures all of the nervous energy and anxiety that accompanies a new relationship and the fear that you may get hurt, but it’s also sweet and innocent in its apprehension.

Line that makes you go aww: “Do you think you love me? Yeah, I think I love you”.

9. Hot Air Balloon by The Lippies
The Lippies made it into my list of the top ten albums of 2016 and this is probably my favourite song from them. It’s catchy and great to singalong to, but it belongs on this list because it celebrates the safe space created by a loving relationship, which allows you to relax, be yourself, and escape the frustrations of the world ‘out there’. In this miniature world, you can forget everything and just be.

Line that makes you go aww: “No need to hide when it's only me and you”.

8. Best Friend by 7 Seconds
This is such a fun and heartfelt track that speaks to the importance of grounding long-term relationships in being both good friends and lovers. It’ll make you happy, it’ll make you wanna jive, and it’ll make you want to do something nice for your significant other, just because.

Line that makes you go aww: “Inspired by a love that never ends, I’m so that glad she is my best friend”.

7. Million Bucks by All
There were a number of Descendants songs that I considered for this list (including ‘Marriage’, ‘Silly Girl’ and ‘Nothing With You’) but it’s All’s ‘Million Bucks’ that ultimately made it. There are many things to like about this song: its straight-forward message of devotion, the rejection of a materialistic ideal for a personal and emotional ideal, and its glorious bass line. Play this on your boombox outside his/her window and you will be fishing, going to the movies, and camping together in no time.

Line that makes you go aww: “Everybody says they want a million bucks, but I’d rather just have a million days with you”.

6. Joy Comes With The Morning by Red City Radio
While ‘Electricity’ is also a great love song from RCR, I think this song (and this album) is ultimately better. I know this song is quite ballad-y in some ways, but it’s worth bending the rules for. By the time Garrett sings ‘You were my Ginger Rogers and I was your Fred Astaire’, you are completely invested in his yearning daydream.

Line that makes you go aww: “And I dream of you, you took the floor right underneath me and I never knew how to say that I want you in the worst way”.

5. What You Want/What You Got by The Unlovables
I was so happy to discover this fun and vivacious love-themed track from The Unlovables. The narrator of ‘What You Want/What You Got’ isn’t afraid to put herself out there and make the first move. Have a crush you want to ask out? Let this song be the confidence boost you need.

Line that makes you go aww: “Can’t you see how perfectly we were meant to be you and me?”

4. Spanish Reds by Banner Pilot
‘Spanish Reds’ doesn’t immediately strike you as a love song, until you take a moment to listen to the lyrics. This song is interesting in its choice to focus on the ways in which a loving relationship works in the drudgery of everyday life, which makes it feel more authentic and relatable. It’s also one of the stand-out tracks on the album ‘Heart Beats Pacific’, which is possibly the best (and definitely my favourite) album from Banner Pilot.

Line that makes you go aww: “I watch you fall asleep on a dead end street and the world is right somehow”.

3. 25 To Life by Masked Intruder
I don’t think a list of love songs would be complete without Masked Intruder. Green, Red, Yellow and Blue are very romantic, misunderstood criminals who just want the same things we all want: a steady life of crime and a steady girlfriend. Their 2016 e.p. was entitled ‘Love And Other Crimes’ but they have many great love-themed songs like ‘Heart-shaped Guitar’, ‘Crime Spree’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight’. But, I think that ’25 To Life’ is their best love song, with their best pun.

Line that makes you go aww: “Tell me baby, will you be mine for 25 to life?”

2. Todayo by Teenage Bottlerocket
Numbers 1 and 2 on this list are the songs that immediately sprung to mind when I was faced with compiling a top ten punk rock love songs. They are they songs that make me swoon and think about my own happy and loving relationship. Not only is ‘Todayo’ a great song to sing along to, it serves as a reminder not to get bogged down by petty problems. The concept of ‘living in the moment’ has, perhaps, become a bit cliché – but I think it’s worth remembering.

Line that makes you go aww: “Let me know you and I are gonna live like we might die tomorrow”.

1. International You Day by No Use For A Name
Tony Sly was a great songwriter, and this track is excellent whether you go for the full-band version on ‘Hard Rock Bottom’ or the acoustic version Tony did on the split with Joey Cape. There are also some great covers (Joey Cape’s among them, and I quite like the one by Thomas Oliver). ‘International You Day’ is simple, pure, and cuts right to the heart. If you’re making a mix tape for someone this Valentine’s, this classic should really be on it.

Line that makes you go aww: “You see, one million words can’t describe how it feels to know your love”.

Honourable mentions:
A Very Pretty Song For A Very Special Young Lady Part 2 by The Ergs!
The Rock Show by Blink 182
I Want You To Want Me by Letters To Cleo
I Have A Date by The Vandals
Lovers Of Loving Love by The Aquabats

This top ten was written by Robyn Pierce.