Here's what Dan, Emma, Omar, Pan, Robyn and myself have been listening to this March.
Friday, 31 March 2017
Thursday, 30 March 2017
Long time readers of Colin's Punk Rock World will know that one of the bands that really opened my eyes to the world of UK underground punk rock were Tewkesbury's [Spunge]. The long running band became somewhat of an obsession of mine to the point that to this day every word of near enough every single one of their songs is ingrained in my brain. [Spunge] have a tour coming up in June so I figured that this would be a good time do my top ten [Spunge] songs.
10. Hang On? from Hang On?
When the album Hang On? was released in was released in 2014 it was the band's first new material in seven years! What I really loved about the album was the shift towards a more mature sound, whilst keeping all of the cheeky ska punk sound that [Spunge] built their career on. Hang On?, the song, starts with a slow reggae track before gradually building towards a powerful and moving rock 'n' roll finale that we've not often heard from [Spunge].
9. Some Suck Some Rock from That Should Cover It
Some Suck Some Rock first appeared as one of two brand new original tracks on the mini album That Should Cover It and has become a massive live favourite since. Guitarist Damon Robin's opening chords always get a massive reaction at [Spunge] gigs before lead singer Alex Copeland's distinctive vocals sings a track lamenting different music scenes and being proud of being part of the ska scene despite peoples negative opinion's on it.
8. Jump On Demand from The Story So Far
Jump On Demand is [Spunge]'s most successful single, charting at number at number 39 in the UK chart in 2002. It would probably be higher up on my list but I often get slightly irritated by it at live shows. The chorus goes "Jump Jump Jump Can't Understand It When People Demand It." To me that implies that you shouldn't jump when people demand it, so why at a live show do people jump along with the band during this song? - it makes no sense. That said, I do jump along and have the greatest time. Jump On Demand is a great song about sticking it to the man.
7. Angel With A Pint Glass from Pedigree Chump
For me, Angel With A Pint Glass is one of [Spunge]'s most underrated songs. Released on their debut album Pedigree Chump waaayyyy back in 1999, it was the first time I heard [Spunge] really play a slower, reggae style song and absolutely loved. It's really a quite lovely song lyrically as well, as the band tells a story about wanting to ask out a girl and regretting not having the courage to do it.
6. Ego from Room For Abuse
Ego is another [Spunge] classic, originally released on 2000's Room For Abuse album before being rereleased on The Story So Far in 2002. Ego is about feeling like the biggest rock star before getting completely humbled when you get on stage knowing you're doing what you love with your best friends.
5. One More Go from Self Titled
One More Go was released as a single in 2005 before getting released properly on the band's self titled album in 2007. [Spunge] have always written fantastic sing-a-long tracks but One More Go is a cut above most of them. Packed with plenty of whoa-ohs that really get the crowd going, One More Go is about not giving in if you fall down, picking yourself up and trying again. A fantastic positive song that will have you singing, dancing and feeling inspired.
4. Too Little Too Late from The Story So Far
Too Little Too Late is the final track from The Story So Far, my favourite [Spunge] album. One of the few [Spunge] songs that strays away from their trademark ska sound but is still so damn good. I love a good build in a song and Too Little Too Late does that brilliantly. Alex's voice is absolutely superb on this track as he sings about trying to learn from mistakes even if it's too late to fix them.
3. Kicking Pigeons from Pedigree Chump
Kicking Pigeons is the song that started everything for [Spunge]. Back in 1998 the Kicking Pigeons EP sold 5000 copies at pub gigs and convinced the band to go full time. I for one am bloody glad that they did. Almost twenty five years later, it's still a firm favourite amongst fans old and new. If ever someone thinks about [Spunge], there is no doubt that this is one of the first tracks that come to mind. It's kind of a silly song about finding a way to get out your frustrations and anger by kicking pigeons in the park. Seeing it live and skanking along is one of the most fun things you'll ever do in your life.
2. Friend Called Fred from The Story So Far
The penultimate track from The Story So Far and another huge fan favourite is Friend Called Fred. This track is about having an imaginary friend that encourages you to get into mischief. Kind of like having a devil on your shoulder. Something I really love about Friend Called Fred is the harmonies that happen towards the end of the song before the big finale. Probably the best harmonies throughout the band's entire discography. Great on record and at a live show.
1. Roots from The Story So Far
Roots was the first [Spunge] song I ever heard and has remained one of my all time favourite songs since. I first heard it around the same time me and my three best friends left secondary school and started to go our separate ways. This was a particularly trying time for me as I felt like I was left behind. The song is about not forgetting where you came from and forgetting the people who helped shape you into the person you become. Kind of ironically the meaning of the song has come round full circle as I've now left my home town and left a lot of people behind and am now making sure that I don't forget about the people who helped to shape me. Musically this track falls more into the punk side of things than the ska but it still has that unique quality that will get a crowd skanking away and having the time of their lives.
This top ten was written by Colin Clark.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
You know when you're clicking around Spotify or Bandcamp and you discover your new favourite band? That happens to me quite a lot. It happened recently when I discovered a band named Dead Bars from Seattle. I listened to them religiously for a couple of weeks and then I had an email from the wonderful Gregory Lambrechts from Midwestern Anxiety asking if I'd like to review their new album Dream Gig. Of course the answer was yes!
Dream Gigs opens up with Overture. This is an album introduction track that is just a simple piece of piano playing and it warms you up for the first proper track - Ear Plug Girl. The track begins with an instant sing-a-long moment that will immediately get the listener invested in the song. This gruff pop punk song tells the story of meeting a girl at a punk show who was kind enough to share her ear plugs with Dead Bars lead singer John Maiello. A fun and infectious way to kick off Dream Gig. Always Bet On Clark is another track that tells a story. I do enjoy a story based song. This song is about a trip to Reno, Nevada, and all the strange things that happened in the night. The moral of the story is that no matter what scrapes you manage to find yourself in, you can always count on your friend Clark to look after you. Maiello really stretches his gruff, crackly vocals on the track and gives it a raw and charming sound. The fourth track on Dream Gig is named Emergency. Emergency is a song about suffering with anxiety and panic attacks and crying out for help. Despite the gruff pop punk sound that Dead Bars play, there is a sombreness about the song. This is one of the highlights on Dream Gig. I imagine that there is a sense of catharsis about seeing Dead Bars play it live.
D Line To The Streamline has an introduction that hit me straight away. The guitar riffs along with the rumbling rhythm section allows Dead Bars to show what capable musicians they are before Maiello is back in story telling mode, weaving a tale about a night where he gets stuck out, not able to go home. Then about the wanting to go home but not wanting to be alone. D Line To The Streamline has a bit of a softer tone to it than the previous tracks but is still just as much an enjoyable listen. On my first listen of the sixth song, Face The Music, I knew this was gonna be a firm favourite of mine. I liked the structure of the song from the outset with concise sentences that will be incredible fun to sing live. I'm sure you've worked out just from the title of the track that the song is about realising some home truths about your life, that might not amount to anything, but then deciding to follow your dreams anyway. The lyrics "I Don't Wanna Face The Music, I Just Wanna Turn Around And Play Some Music" is quite an uplifting way to finish the track that for the most part is quite downbeat. The old switcheroo! Tear Shaped Bruise is the name of the penultimate song on Dream Gig. Tear Shaped Bruise is quite a sad song about not being invited to an old friend's wedding and feeling hurt by it. I thought the line about being in a mosh pit when the wedding is on and feeling like the elbow received to the head was from the old pal. Is it a theme for punks not to get invited to weddings? I'm pretty sure that Lagwagon's May 16 song is also on this topic. Both songs are fantastic. Dream Gig finishes with the album's title track. The biggest surprise about this was that it's over seven minutes long. Dream Gig is another uplifting song about persevering with what you enjoy and working hard in the hope you will make it in the end. The big dream in Dream Gig is to play a show with the mighty Bouncing Souls. ("My Only Goal Is To Play With The Souls"). I feel like this would be a set closer for Dead Bars with it's uplifting style and really long musical outro. Like I said, the song is over seven minutes long and the final four minutes of the song is all music, really winding up the album in style.
Despite only knowing of Dead Bars for a short while I was expecting big things from Dream Gig and I can honestly say it did not disappoint. It had that rough and raw sound that I love so much, whilst giving the impression that anyone can write music and lyrics and be in a band. That's what punk rock should be - all inclusive, anyone can get involved and have the best time. That's what I think Dead Bars are all about as a band. Their not reinventing the wheel but they are inspiring people to get out and play in bands and forget about all of life's problems and enjoy themselves. Great stuff!
Stream and download Dream Gig here: https://deadbars.bandcamp.com/album/dream-gig
Like Dead Bars here: https://www.facebook.com/deadbars
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Dragged In is a hardcore punk band from Toronto made up of five guys who seem to share a love of tight, heavy riffs, and original Ranch dressing. This is the second of two EPs that Dragged In released last year, and while their sound is hard and in-your-face on both releases – the blending of hardcore with other elements from skate punk, grunge and thrash metal seems more apparent on this second offering. The result is some fist-pumping, pit-spinning melodic hardcore, occasionally slowing down to some thick, body-rocking grooves.
EP 2 opens with smouldering, grungy guitar which rumbles over even-toned words spoken in the background. It’s not easy to hear what’s being said here, but this opening on ‘Burning Inside’ sounds like a declaration of self-determination that’s just waiting to be kicked into high gear. As expected, you don’t have to wait long before this smouldering intro is fanned into some fiery drums and guitar blasting out at breakneck speed. Patty’s raspy and biting vocals compel you to ‘stay focused’, ‘dig deeper’, and ‘push harder’ – to ‘keep the fire’ of passion or righteous anger that’s burning inside of you. This rousing opening leads into ‘Until it Kills’, which bursts open with a rich and guttural chord progression. Once again, Patty vows to ‘keep fighting’ and to ‘keep digging deeper’ to achieve his goals. At this point, the EP begins to focus on the theme of finding the personal strength to fight against external forces which seek to silence, oppress or exploit, and Dragged In do a good job of leading the charge.
The third track on Dragged In’s EP 2, ‘Absolute’, is a steady and intense song beginning with some beautifully blown-out bass that’ll definitely kick up a crowd into a wild, twisting circle-pit. Here, the band pushes back against ‘absolute’ opinions, posing the question: ‘what if you’re wrong?’ Following this, ‘Stand Strong’ is powerful and uplifting – treating us, once again, to some thick and juicy chord progressions in a fist-pumping, crowd-yelling song about staying true to yourself and not buckling under the pressure of the status quo. EP 2 then finishes up with the hulking groove of ‘Get Low’, which feels like one long, awesome breakdown where everyone can hang their heads and sway along to the lines: ‘I don’t think we can get sink much lower than this’ and join in the chant of ‘get low, real low!’. This song rounds off the EP nicely, allowing you to stretch and regroup after the four previous high-speed tracks.
In true hardcore tradition, you’ll get through these five songs in less than 15 minutes but finish up the EP feeling satisfied. As a whole, Dragged In’s EP 2 is energetic, brash and empowering; perfect to listen to when you want to blow off steam, pick yourself up and keep going.
Stream and download EP 2 here: https://draggedin.bandcamp.com/album/ep-2
Like Dragged In here: https://www.facebook.com/draggedin/
This review was written by Robyn Pierce.
Monday, 27 March 2017
The first song on the EP is Don’t Get It, the title track, and it starts out with some powerful, crunchy guitars – it certainly kicks the record off with a bang. At under 2 minutes long, this is fast-paced and energised punk rock at its best. The chorus of ‘I don’t get it, don’t don’t get it, I don’t get it, I’m not with it.’ is as insanely catchy as it is enthusiastic. It’s also a song that I’m sure many young people can relate to – at least those of us that don’t necessarily conform to what is expected of us in today’s society. Thankfully we have the punk scene and bands like Empty Lungs to make us feel comfortable being whoever we want to be.
Losing It. Finding It. is the second song on Don’t Get It. This is a slower paced (and lengthier, too) track with a small amount of warm distortion to both the guitars and vocals. Overall it has more of an indie rock sounds than the first track – think Tellison. I could definitely hear it being played on the radio (6 Music rather than Radio One, mind you). It’s not all indie sounding though as there’s some big woah-ohs at the end that would go down very well at a punk show. ‘Am I just losing my mind, Are we just wasting our time?’
The third and final song is titled Fragile. The track begins with a loud and fuzzy bassline before the somewhat brighter sounding guitars and pounding drums kick in – it’s a big sound, that’s for sure. Then the vocals come in and you realise that this isn’t quite the uplifting anthem that you thought it might be – ‘We lost our friend today, She’s gone, She took her own life away, And I’ll never forget, How we cleaned up that mess.’ It’s certainly a sad song but Empty Lungs also manage to pull off a feeling of empowerment. Life is fragile but it’s still worth living, no matter how tough. (I basically just paraphrased the chorus there.)
Featuring three great individual tracks – by which I mean they don’t all sound the same – Don’t Get It is an excellent release from a very promising UK punk band. If a 3-track EP is this good then I can’t wait for a full-length album!
Don’t Get It was released on the 10th March and you can buy, download and stream it now now now! You can also find Empty Lungs on Facebook here.
This review was written by Emma Prew.
Don’t Get It was released on the 10th March and you can buy, download and stream it now now now! You can also find Empty Lungs on Facebook here.
This review was written by Emma Prew.
Friday, 24 March 2017
The other day I was having one of those days when for no inexplicable reason I was feeling really down and miserable. I hate days like this. Then I was sent an email from Kay at Specialist Subject asking me to review one of my favourite bands, Great Cynics. I had already pre-ordered the album, titled POSI, a month or so earlier and all of their back catalogue is on constant rotation in our home. I had already heard POSI was an album about the struggles of life in London and trying to keep your head up despite all of the problems you might have in your life. If ever I needed to listen to a positive record then today was the day.
There had been a little bit of change in the Great Cynics camp before POSI was recorded, with long time bass player and occasional singer Iona Cairns stepping away from the band to be able to concentrate more time on her own band, Shit Present. This was a great shame as I think Iona with guitarist/vocalist Giles Bidder and drummer Bob Barrett had a wonderful dynamic, especially on stage together. I am also intrigued to see what the newest incarnation of Great Cynics is like though. This will have to wait until their album release shows in April. On POSI the bass playing was also done by Giles, a man of many talents.
POSI begins with the song Let Me Go Home. The track begins with an extended musical intro with a guitar sound that will immediately make you think "Great Cynics" even if you didn't know you were listening to a Great Cynics song. It's that wonderful and warm indie pop rock that the band have perfected over their previous three albums. Giles' vocals hit and it's like an old friend singing songs that I've been listening to for years. From the outset I'm hooked on POSI. When I first heard the start of Only Memories, the second track, I instantly thought Menzingers. The opening guitars really reminded me of the song Gates from the Pennsylvanian punks. Not to say that this is rip off of The Menzingers, far from it. Giles has one of the most recognisable vocals in the world of punk and as soon as he starts singing this song about remembering all the things you did when you were younger and trying to forget about the bad things. The ending of the song where the music dies down and you just get Giles on his own was a fantastic way to finish the track. It also leads brilliantly into the next song Blue Roll And Duct Tape. The opening guitar riffs have a lovely uplifting feel to them that just makes you want to dance. The opening lyrics of "Do You Wanna Give In To The Shit, Or Worse Get Used To It" give me a great idea of what the track is about. It's about getting on with life and making the best of it despite the rubbish that is thrown your way. After a brief breakdown, some fantastic gang vocals come in shouting "I Just Needed The World To Feel A Little Bit Bigger" along with some backing harmony "Bah, Bahs" that finish the song in a positive way.
The fourth track London, Happiness has an absolutely massive chorus that goes "IIIIIIIIIIIII Know That Happiness Is A Place In London." I'm imagining that getting a massive reaction at their album launch shows at Urban Bar, Whitechapel, in April. Quite clearly the song is about loving where you live despite all its pitfalls. Shabba Shabba is track that starts off quite slowly, before gradually building towards a big ending. Bob's drumming really stands out as he brilliantly lays down the foundations for the big finale. Shabba Shabba is about getting over a break up by blocking out your feelings and pushing the person you're breaking up with away despite them not wanting you to. Shaba Shabba leads seamlessly into the next song, Don't Buy The Sun. After a slow building beginning, the song explodes into life as Giles lets rip on The Sun newspaper. I don't remember ever hearing so much venom in Giles' voice as there is here and I have to say that I loved it. After the introduction, the track becomes a whirlwind of anger. There is a rawness to the sound of the song that only adds to the energy in it - giving you the feel of a live Great Cynics performance. Perhaps my favourite track so far. Easily Done is more of an up-tempo song that keeps POSI flowing along nicely. It seems as if a lot of thought as gone into the synchronicity of the album - it's these little things that make a good album great. Giles maintains a fast paced vocal throughout the song, stuffing it full of energy. The song is about realising that you're not perfect and that that is okay despite what other people might think.
Too Much feels like a classic Great Cynics track with its extremely anthmeic and catchy chorus. It starts out with a simple drum beat before Giles opens the song with my favourite lyrics of the entire album - "When I Wake Up In The Morning I Got Nothing To Do, Because We've Come Home From Tour And I Finished In School, So I Wrap My Legs Around My Duvet And Watch TV, On A Borrowed Netflix Account On A Computer Screen." This just painted a brilliant picture. Soon enough we get to the chorus of "Too Much, Too Much, Too Much, Too Much Is Never Enough." Another song that I can see getting a big reaction at a Great Cynics live set. The ninth track is titled Summer At Home. This is another incredibly uplifting song that really put a smile on my face. It's a track about going home and reacquainting yourself with your old friends and letting them know how much they mean to you. The chorus of "You Don't Think That You're Special, You Don't Think That You're Special, It's What Makes You Special" is another that will get a crowd singing at the top of their lungs whilst feeling empowered by Giles' words. The penultimate track on POSI is the excellent Butterfly Net. Butterfly Net is a piece of indie pop punk perfection. It's got everything I want in a song - it has great energy, smart and poignant lyrics, it's relatable and most importantly it's fun. You can sing along, have a dance and just smile away throughout the song. Lovely jubbly. Finally we have the track Things We Don't Need. It's a short track at only forty-nine seconds but it does the job. It's about getting over a break up and realising that the person the relationship made you become is not who you want to be. How many of us have been there? It's a fantastically positive way to end a record about trying to be positive.
The fact that Great Cynics are on their fourth album despite being a small DIY band is an incredible achievement in itself. This is down to a lot of hard work, sacrifice and most importantly a huge amount of talent. Great Cynics are one of those bands where it baffles me that they haven't made more of a break through into the mainstream music world. The talent is obviously there for anyone to see and since album number one, Don't Need Much, they've always felt like an accessible band to all fans of music - not just punk rock. Perhaps POSI will be their breakthrough album, it's certainly showing a band that are still at the top of their game.
Stream and download POSI here: https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/posi
Like Great Cynics here: https://www.facebook.com/greatcynics/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Thursday, 23 March 2017
April 2017 sees the third annual Manchester Punk Festival taking place across three days and many different central Manchester venues. It will be my second MPF (yes, I am gutted that I didn’t go to the very first one – unfortunately I didn’t know it existed at the time) and if my first is anything to go by then MPF 2017 is going to be a good’un.
Here’s my top ten bands that I am most looking forward to seeing at Manchester Punk Festival 2017:
I’ll start with my most obvious choice, King’s Lynn six-piece ska punk party machines – Faintest Idea. I’ve seen them six times over the last year or so and each time they just get better and better and I enjoy myself more and more. It’s impossible to stay still whilst they’re playing hits such as Too Bad, Bull In A China Shop and Circling The Drain. Bring on the dancing, skanking and trying not to get knocked over by someone bigger than me.
Fresh from playing SXSW in the states, Muncie Girls are taking the underground music world by storm. They will be returning to Manchester Punk Festival after playing the very first year, this time with tracks from their debut album to add to their setlist as well as classic tracks such as Car Crash and Revolution Summer. Muncie Girls are actually playing a gig in our town, Bedford, on the Thursday night when we’ll be in Manchester for day one of MPF!
Stöj Snak is the solo project of guitarist Niels Sörensen from Denmark’s Mighty Midgets. Both solo project and band, as TNSrecords favourites, will be making an appearance at MPF this year. I reviewed ScreamerSongwriter for the blog last summer – I really liked it – and can’t wait to finally hear the DIY folk punk songs from it live. I wonder if he’ll bring a kazoo…
This is a band that I discovered thanks to last year’s MPF – and Colin’s playlist of all the MPF 2016 bands! Matilda’s Scoundrels are a folk punk band from the southern seaside town of Hastings, incorporating mandolin, banjo, tin whistle and accordion alongside the more typical punk instruments. We only managed to catch half of their set last year due to clashing with another band but I definitely want to see their whole set this year!
A Great Notion are a three-piece punk rock band from Peterborough. I know of them thanks to their 2011 split with Andrew Cream, although they’re not a band I’ve listened to a great deal and I haven’t seen them live yet. I do however enjoy enough of what I have heard of them to know that I want to catch them at MPF – and hopefully to become a new firm favourite.
Next on my list is another artist that I’ve heard of but not listened to a great deal. Tragical History Tour is the acoustic punk offerings of Derrick Johnston, also known for being the founder of Make-That-A-That Records in Scotland. He has a new album due to be released later this year so we can expect to hear a few songs from that, as well as others from his back catalogue. Also, ‘Tragical History Tour’ is just such a great name.
Making their Manchester debut with their new line-up are CPRW favourites, Ducking Punches. The Norwich band were due to play at last year’s MPF but unfortunately Mr Frank Turner decided he wanted to take them on his European tour which clashed. Since then Sophie, Cal and Serge have sadly left the band but thankfully new members Ryan, bass, and Marcus, guitar, have stepped in. We actually saw the new Ducking Punches back in January and I can safely say that the Manchester audience are in for a treat.
Another band that has had a bit of the line-up change are Great Cynics. With the departure of Iona (who you can still catch at MPF 2017 but with Shit Present – who narrowly missed making this list), Great Cynics have a new bassist on board as well as the addition of a keyboard player. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any form of the band so with their brand new album due out not long before MPF, I am very much looking forward to seeing Great Cynics – and you should be too.
Arguably Durham’s greatest indie pop punk band (well, perhaps tied with ONSIND), Martha will make their Manchester Punk Festival debut this year. I’ve never seen the band live before so I’m looking forward to changing that, plus I really liked last year’s album, Blisters In The Put Of My Heart.
The oldest band on my list – and probably one of the oldest of the whole MPF 2017 line-up too – are The Toasters, third wave ska legends who formed way back in the early 80s (which is long before I was born). Of course, for a band with so many years behind them they also have an extensive back catalogue. A back catalogue that I must admit I haven’t listened to in much depth BUT every time one of their songs comes on, I can’t sit still or keep from smiling. They are definitely going to be great fun.
I can't wait!
This top ten was written by Emma Prew.
I can't wait!
This top ten was written by Emma Prew.
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Some long time readers might remember that my 2015 album of the year was The Anachronist's Cookbook by Will Tun And The Wasters. Since then the band have had a bit of a line up change and now go by the name And The Wasters. On March 12th the band released a brand new EP named State Of Repair and after enjoying the previous release so much I was pretty excited to hear this.
The EP begins with the track Lion's Share, that the band have also made a video for - check it out here. Something that I really loved about Anachronist's Cookbook was the sense of not really knowing what was going to happen next on the record as the band incorporate so many different styles into their sound. Whether it's punk, ska, folk, reggae, gypsy, rap or even throwing in some French, it was always hard to prepare for whatever could be coming next with the band. Lion's Share takes the ska energy that will get you dancing and adds some great accordion playing that really gives And The Wasters a sound all of their own. The track talks about how the people who already have the most seem to continue to get the lion's share of everything else. I really enjoyed the breakdown section which features mostly trumpet and vocals that serve as a rallying cry for the people who go without to start getting back what's fair. The second track is named Small Victories. The first thing I noticed about the song was that it features a different vocalist to Lion's Share. The fact that the vocal duties are shared around the band add to that sense of "what's going to happen next" that I love so much about this band. Musically it's not quite as upbeat as Lion's Share but there are still plenty of great skanking moments. The track is about how despite all of the hardship that goes on in the world there is a small victory to be had by knowing you've got a small community of people who believe in the same principles as yourself. I really like this positive outlook.
The third track on State Of Repair is titled Reduce, Reuse, Rebel. The song is a very accordion heavy sounding track, something that differentiates And The Waster brilliantly from many of their peers. The element of ska is still very present though and the song will have you skanking along despite the lack of horns during the bulk of the song. I loved that the bulk of the song focussed on the music rather than the lyrics, showing off the high level skill that is featured in the band. Reduce, Reuse, Rebel is a song about how society as a whole rarely uses things again when they quite easily could. Something I'm sure many of us are often guilty of. There is a nice chanty section of lyrics with the simple lines "Capitalism Is Killing Us All" which will get some great crowd participation at an And The Wasters live show. The penultimate song is named Bound As One. Bound As One is a much slower track than the previous three on the EP. This gives the song more of a serious feel to it, despite using the slew of instruments that have featured throughout the EP. Vocally it's a lot more understated too, really making you listen to the message of the track rather than just making you dance. State Of Repair is finished with a track named Intro Dub. Finished with a track named Intro you say? Yup, confused me too! It's a two minute instrumental song that allows And The Wasters to venture down a reggae road, showcasing another string to their bow. I'm not normally big on instrumental songs but this is one I can listen to over and over again without getting bored. A great way to finish the EP.
State Of Repair picks up right where Anachronist's Cookbook finished off. Despite all the line up changes, And The Wasters remain a top top quality band and one that deserve all of your attention.
Stream and download State Of Repair here: https://andthewasters.bandcamp.com/album/state-of-repair-and-the-wasters
Like And The Wasters here: https://www.facebook.com/willtunandthewasters/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Spoiler are a melodic skate punk band from Toronto, Canada. Influenced by 90s Fat Wreck and Epitaph Records (who isn't?), last year they released a three song EP named Starts With An S. As is often the case, I'm quite late to the party on this one but it's a party I'm glad that I eventually found.
Interestingly all three songs on the EP begin with the letter S, the first being the track Snooze. It starts out with an alarm clock noise before launching into some energetic skate punk that really reminds me of old school Lagwagon, with lead vocalist Scott channelling his inner Joey Cape. The song is about the joy of snoozing before getting up and dealing with the world - something everyone can appreciate. The second track is named Something More. With that title I'm sure you can have a good guess and what the song is about - feeling stuck in a rut and wanting more from your life. The guitars on the track are very busy and technical whereas Scott's vocals do a great job of supplying the melody. This makes for a very interesting sounding song that got me listening to it over and over again. Lastly we have Summer. Musically there is much more of a modern pop punk sound to start the song. It's an uplifting song about enjoying the summer and how the season has an ability to help you forget about all of the misery in your life. It made me think about all of the fantastic summer memories I have and how much I also enjoy the summer. Most of all this song really made me smile!
Starts With An S is a short and sweet EP that really does a great job of introducing you to what Spoiler are all about. It's a bit of a throwback sound with a modern twist, drawing from great influences without feeling like a complete rip off. If you love Lagwagon then I have no doubt you'll love Spoiler.
Stream and download Starting With S here: https://spoiler.bandcamp.com/album/starting-with-s
Like Spoiler here: https://www.facebook.com/SpoilerSkatePunk/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Monday, 20 March 2017
Just a Random Project?
Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you they’ve mixed two of your favourite things and all of a sudden you’re ever so slightly nervous? You think well this could be the next peanut butter and nutella but it could also turn out to be the next Batman v Superman! So it is that I press play on the brand new shiny Traits EP, Limits. A supergroup formed by members of not one but two of my bestest UK bands, Random Hand and The Human Project. Will this just sound like one or the other and will each side compliment the other? Let’s find out…
Well for starters take what you know about each of the satellite bands surrounding Traits and just throw it all in the bin. I’m surprised from start to finish at how much Traits are their own beast, not sailing on the strengths of their formers and instead looking to carve a path of their own. This isn’t Ska-core and this isn’t Melodic Hardcore. In the place of what I assumed was going to be the foundations of their sound is good times late 90s style pop punk. Traits aren’t a group that are taking themselves too seriously but are a band with a great sound and I had a hell of a lot of fun listening to them.
This departure from what I’m expecting initially comes as a bit of a shock as I listen to the title track of the EP Limits and I find myself having to go back and repeat because I was waiting for the double time to come in the first listen through. So second time round I settle into the groove and appreciate the almost new wave feel of the riffage on display (the track reminds me of Ever Fallen In Love by the Buzzcocks) and get to grips with Human Project vocalist Jonny Smith not singing about class war and politics and instead getting a little irreverent.
Things do get up to double time in the second track, Nobody Likes A Narcissist, which is the skatepunkiest track of the bunch. I love fast songs, of course, and this scratches my itch nicely without the need to get too technical or obtuse. We’re All A Dick Sometimes could have come straight off of a P-Rock video from the early 2000s and I love it for that. Fed To Me, whilst maybe being the “heavy track” of the album, is still a real teen angst pop punk anthem and sounds like a great radio friendly standout tune. Rounding things up is The Little Things, again keeping that upbeat old school vibe going.
This EP is a nostalgia hit for those of us who grew up in the 2000 era pop punk bubble. Not in any way a rip off or just a tribute but rather a development of a slightly lost genre that would fit in well back then and is a pleasure to listen to right now.
Stream and download Limits here: https://traitsband.bandcamp.com/releases
Like Traits here: https://www.facebook.com/traitsband/
This review was written by Dan Peters.
Saturday, 18 March 2017
Bury Me In Philly, the third album from Dave Hause, is on track to be in my top ten albums of 2017 (I know, I know, it’s only March). And I’m glad I loved the album so much as we bought tickets to see Mr Hause at some point last year – it seems a long time ago now. Given that I hadn’t seen the man play for something like 5 years and never at his own headline show either (I saw him on The Revival Tour and as a support act twice), I was really quite excited. It would also be my first time seeing him – and his first time in the UK – with a full band. Added excitement.
There was a slight adjustment to the advertised bill for the tour as a member of one of the bands, Dead Heavens, was involved in a freak accident with a folding chair (apparently it sliced the tip of his finger off – ouch!). This meant that they, understandably, weren’t able to continue the UK leg of the European tour. Thankfully different musicians around the country were able to step in which is exactly what Sam Russo did on Thursday.
But first up was a different man-with-guitar, Robyn G Shiels from Northern Ireland. Neither myself or Colin had heard of him before so we didn’t really know what to expect, aside from assuming he probably played some form of folk music. We soon found out that Robyn plays sad-sounding folk-come-alt country songs that have a sound more akin to Nashville than Northern Ireland. I was very impressed by the melodic finger-picked guitar parts and he certainly kept me captivated.
Everyone’s favourite foot-stamping acoustic guitar wielding man from Suffolk, Sam Russo, was next up. Except he wouldn’t be stomping his feet as he mentioned early on in his set that he had a broken foot. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Mr Russo play live – it’s definitely been several times a year for the past few years though – but I never get bored of watching him play. The man has such great charisma on stage and has an amazing storytelling ability both within his songs and his general on stage talk in between songs. Having seen him play so many times, a Sam Russo show does seem a little bit like a greatest hits set with songs like Small Town Shoes, Runaways, Dry Shampoo and Holding On all making an appearance – as well as Sometimes, obviously – but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It was a little odd not seeing Sam bounding about the stage and stomping his feet but the music was excellent.
I don’t think The Garage was officially sold out but it was certainly starting to get pretty packed by the time Sam Russo finished his set and we all waiting eagerly for the return of Dave Hause – and the debut of The Mermaid. Looking around us, Colin was trying to work out how many of the crowd members would actually know The Loved Ones, Dave’s old band prior to his solo work. I figured a fair amount would but I also know that he must have gained a lot of fans from his tours over here as part of The Revival Tour (one of the greatest musical experiences I’ve ever seen) and as main support for The Gaslight Anthem some years ago.
With The Mermaid on board, the setting up and tuning of various instruments took a tad longer than it would have done had it been a solo Dave Hause show but I was definitely excited to hear the full band sound… and it was certainly worth the wait. In true rock ’n’ roll style, The Mermaid took to the stage before Dave and the crowd exploded when he stepped foot on the stage. He has obviously been greatly missed by UK fans. From the outset Dave was the perfect frontman – I’ve always enjoyed his solo performances but I truly think that Dave was born to play with a full band. Opening with The Flinch from Bury Me In Philly, Dave and the band were on top form. I enjoyed hearing the new songs live – With You and Bury Me In Philly in particular – but I also enjoyed hearing older tracks from first album, Resolutions, and second album, Devour, with the full band sound such as Autism Vaccine Blues, Father’s Son and Resolutions. At one point Dave even slipped in a bit of Hot Water Music’s Trusty Chords into the set – a nod towards the mighty Chuck Ragan. I knew I’d enjoy this show but I wasn’t prepared for just how much – I loved it, the rest of the crowd loved it and Dave and The Mermaid were clearly loving it too.
The band could have easily finished with We Could Be Kings but a headline show at The Garage does typically call for an encore, so an encore we got. Before the gig, Colin asked if I thought Dave would play a Loved Ones song. I thought probably not but you never know with these sorts of shows. If ever there was a time in the set for a cover of his old band’s song then it was the start of the encore with just himself and his guitar. Introducing the song Jane, Dave said that he was never going to play the song again – at least not in this acoustic form (ie. he might play it with The Loved Ones again one day!). It was wonderful. As was the next song, a Revival Tour style rendition of Prague (Revive Me) featuring multi-instrumentalist Kayleigh on the mandolin. C’Mon Kid was then the set closer – it had to be really – and the crowd indulged in one last massive singalong.
I’d been waiting a long while to see Dave Hause live again and it was 100% worth the wait. The addition of The Mermaid was an excellent choice and the songs, both new and old, really benefitted from the full band sound – plus it allowed Dave to fully embrace being a frontman.
Probably my favourite gig of the year so far. Bravo Dave Hause and The Mermaid.
This review was written by Emma Prew.
This review was written by Emma Prew.
Friday, 17 March 2017
One weekend that is always a highlight of the year for many alternative music fans in the UK is the second May bank holiday weekend, the traditional weekend of Slam Dunk Festival. This year will be my fifth time (in a row) visiting the South version of the festival, at The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, and it's a day I always look forward to.
In the months leading up to the festival, the organisers slowly release details of the massive list of artists playing the festival and every year it's a who's who of the best in rock, punk, metal, ska and alternative music - whether it's old favourites, current superstars or hot up and comers, I've always felt there's something for everyone attending. This is probably a little naughty of me but I absolutely love reading people's comments about each line up announcement on Facebook. Despite each and every year producing an incredible line up, you still get so many people moaning because their favourite band hasn't been announced and start to slag off the festival. It's ridiculous, petty, childish but bloody hilarious. In my four previous years I've always felt that the line up has been one of the best of any UK festival that year. The thing I personally love about Slam Dunk announcements is the sense of nostalgia with so many bands I loved growing up always playing the festival. In previous years legendary (to me anyway) bands such as King Prawn, Streetlight Manifesto, [Spunge], Capdown, Jesse James, Fandangle, Millencolin, Lightyear, Big D & The Kids Table and Catch 22 have all played. In case you hadn't guessed, I love the ska element of Slam Dunk Festival. This year the organisers have really taken things up a notch. If you were a fan of ska and pop punk in the 90s and early 2000s then you absolutely love this line up. Let's check it out.
This year the punk/ska stage will be known as The Fireball Stage and headlining this year will be Bowling For Soup. A band I've never seen but were an integral part of my discovery of punk rock music. Surprisingly it will be the Texans' first time playing Slam Dunk Festival. I expect a massive crowd to gather to see the band for which is now a rare UK performance. This fun filled, sing-a-long pop punk will have everyone who goes to see them smiling and humming songs to themselves as they leave the festival… for the long wait to get out of the car park.
One band that has played Slam Dunk many times over the years is Orange County rap/pop punk legends Zebrahead. This will be the fourth year in a row Zebrahead have played Slam Dunk, which I think pretty much makes them the Slam Dunk house band. There's one big reason that the band come back every year, they absolutely slay it live. Pulling in some of the biggest crowds and creating some of the craziest mosh pits at the festival, last year I think I actually paid more attention to the crowd than I did to all the antics that were happening on the stage. Zebrahead are the ultimate party band for the Slam Dunk Party.
When you think of 90s ska punk two bands that instantly come to mind are Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish. This year Slam Dunk have managed to book both bands! Less Than Jake are one of my all time favourite bands and one of the bands I've seen the most. Every time I come away on a massive high because they are one of the greatest live bands I've ever seen. It amazes me that they are still so enthusiastic after all these years as a band. With a discography spanning over twenty years, there's bound to be some old classics mixed in with some newer tracks from this year's Sound The Alarm EP.
Everything I've just written about Less Than Jake I can easily repeat for Reel Big Fish, except the part about the new EP named Sound The Alarm. Reel Big Fish didn't release that, Less Than Jake did. I'm hoping for Reel Big Fish to debut some new material at the festival as it's been five years since the band released its last full length album, Candy Coated Fury.
Completing a trio of 90s ska bands are The Mad Caddies. The Californian band have been going since 1995 and have established themselves as one of the top live acts around. Combining punk, ska, reggae, polka, jazz, swing and many more styles the Caddies are a band like no other. If you've never seen The Mad Caddies live before you will be in for an absolute treat. Lead by lead singer Chuck Robertson, the band will have you dancing from the opening note to the last trumpet blast and it will be a set not to forget.
Goldfinger bring some more of the 90s pop punk sound to the Fireball stage. Making a surprising return to the festival after just one year away, I can't wait to see Goldfinger again. Last time the set was massively delayed due to some technical issues but this didn't stop Goldfinger putting on an incredible performance. Hearing tracks such as Superman, 99 Red Balloons, Spokesman, Counting The Days and Mabel will be a Slam Dunk highlight for sure!
One band I really didn't expect Slam Dunk to announce was Fenix TX! Fenix TX! Despite breaking up in 2002 the band have often done reunion shows and I believe that this could be the band's first trip to the UK in a long time. It seems to be Slam Dunk tradition that they announce a band I never expected to get the chance to see and I really can't wait to be singing songs such as Pheobe Cate, All My Fault and Threesome with the band.
The Fireball Stage will be compered by another Slam Dunk Legend - MC Lars. MC Lars has been a Slam Dunk regular for years so it feels right to see him back for the 12th year of the festival. He's another act who always brings the party with his own brand of laptop rap. A whole host of people playing the festival have had guest roles on his songs so expect to see some surprises on stage with Lars.
Of course The Fireball Stage isn't the only stage at Slam Dunk Festival and there are a handful of other bands I'm also really hoping to see. The first being Against Me!. Arguably the biggest punk band on planet Earth right now. Always putting on a fantastic live show, it's loud, ferocious and packed with massive sing-a-longs from the band's loyal and hardcore group of fans. Against Me! are one of the most important bands in the world right now - you will be entertained, you will be moved and you will learn some important life lessons from the band.
Long Island, New York, melodic hardcore/pop punk band The Movielife make a rare appearance at Slam Dunk Festival this year. Like Fenix TX, the band were part of the legendary Drive Thru Records roster in the late 90s/early 2000s that spawned so many of my favourite bands of the era. The Movielife got back together for some shows in 2011 and have been playing shows and festivals here and there ever since. They've also been working on some new music which I'm hoping to hear included in their set at Slam Dunk.
Finally we have Sorority Noise. In a time where pop punk is becoming absolutely massive again Sorority Noise are a band that have really stood out to me. Combining pop punk, indie and emo the band have created an honest and captivating sound that really grabs your attention. With a new album out today named You're Not As _______ As You Think, I expect the Sorority Noise to be one of the breakthrough artists at this year's Slam Dunk Festival.
Thursday, 16 March 2017
This year's Manchester Punk Festival is fast approaching and it's safe to say that Emma and I are quite excited to attend for another year. Over the past few months the organisers, the fine people from TNSrecords, Moving North and Anarchistic Undertones, have been putting together a fine roster of bands for the festival to make it bigger than ever. The calibre of bands that they've managed to book this year is ridiculous, especially considering this is only the third year of the festival. Over the next two weeks Emma and I will pick ten of the bands that we are most looking forward to seeing. Here's my top ten.
I was so pleased when Strike Anywhere were announced for MPF. I was hoping to see them at The Fest last year but sadly missed out due to clashes. I'll make sure that's not the case at this festival. It's the legendary Richmond, Virginia bands first trip to the UK in seven years and you know it will be well worth the wait.
Canadian hardcore band Brutal Youth had a massive year in 2016 following the release of their new album Sanguine and look set to continue the wave of momentum that they are riding into 2017 with a tour of Europe. Being one of the most talked about bands of the moment, it's pretty clear that Brutal Youth will be one of the not to be missed bands at MPF.
I think I'm right in saying that Clowns are the first Australian band to play at Manchester Punk Festival. I've been listening to a lot of punk from Australia recently and Clowns are one of the bands that really stood out. Their fast paced, aggressive hardcore really catches your attention and I'm sure that the energy that explodes out of the recordings will translate brilliantly to the stage.
Essex's finest The Filaments are returning to Manchester Punk Festival for the first time since headlining the first festival in 2015. I believe that it will be my first time seeing them since that festival as well, so it will be well overdue. The ska punks have been going for years now and have earned a reputation for being one of the most ferocious live bands around, whilst keeping a lot of their Essex charm.
Dutch punks Sweet Empire make a welcome return to the UK. The four friends started Sweet Empire in 2008 and have since gone on to create some of the most unique sounding tunes in the world of skate punk. There is also a big socially aware side to Sweet Empire with topics of abortion, religion, the environment and politics all raised in the band's music.
Last year these legendary Canadian punks released what was considered by many to be an album of the year contender. A pretty good achievement from a band that had actually split up in 2005 and only decided to start writing music together again in 2014. Revenge Of The Fifth is already considered a classic by their fans and this chance to see the band reunited, and seemingly at the top of their game, is not one to be missed.
Jakal are a ska, punk, reggae, dub band from London who I've been aware of for years but have never gotten around to seeing - this will finally change at MPF! Something that really helps set Jakal apart from many of the other fantastic ska bands in the country is the dual vocals of Plug and Tali. If you like bands such as King Prawn, Operation Ivy or Sublime you're going to love Jakal.
ONSIND are a long time favourite of mine and any chance to see them live is not an opportunity to miss. The duo are celebrating their tenth year as a band in 2017 so a first time appearance at Manchester Punk Festival seems appropriate. Expect sing-a-longs so loud that you won't actually be able to hear the band when you go to see ONSIND.
The Human Project
The Human Project are one of the stand out bands in the burgeoning UK melodic punk rock scene. Returning this summer with a brand new album, the Leeds four piece look set to have a massive year in 2017. One of the most exciting live bands on the circuit, The Human Project's technical skill is only matched by their energetic performances.
The Living Daylights
No festival is complete without a reunion set and MPF has one from Lincoln's The Living Daylights. After splitting in 2012, The Living Daylights are back with two special shows to celebrate ten years since the formation of the band. I love the nostalgia that a reunion show brings and hearing so many great The Living Daylights songs again will put a great big smile on my face.
I CAN'T WAIT FOR MY THIRD MANCHESTER PUNK FESTIVAL!
For more information about the festival go here: https://manchesterpunkfestival.co.uk/
This top ten was written by Colin Clark.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Umlaut Records is a (relatively) new London-based DIY record label. On the 1st of March they released their first comp, featuring many of the UK’s great underground punk bands as well as a few from further afield. The comp features two of CPRW’s own with songs from RXR (Dan) and The Burnt Tapes (Pan) appearing on the album – which is one reason why I’m reviewing this and not either of them!
There are a lot of different music styles going on on Umlaut Records Vol. 1 and, of course, I have songs I like more than others but I have listened to the whole thing (more than once) and tried to summarise each song in a sentence or two.
First up are Launch Control with, the extremely short and pretty darn fast, Cloak & Dagger pt. 2. It’s literally only 43 seconds long but kicks off the comp well. Strange Planes are next with You People<Fucked, which is a loud song musically with a great refined vocal style. A band I already know I like a lot are next – Eat Defeat and The North Remembers. This is melodic singalong pop punk with a neat reference to Game of Thrones in its title (I hope it is anyway!).
Simple Words by Give You Nothing is song comprising of pounding drums and shout-along-able, fist-pumping hardcore-influenced punk rock from Santa Cruz, California. (One of the few international bands on the comp.) Coming in at number 5 are On A Hiding To Nothing with Call Me Flyboy. This track has intense guitars and a vocal style akin to Anti-Flag or Rise Against. Ships Down are next with a fast-paced and guitar-heavy track, Not An Option. The vocals remind me more of classic rock style artists than your typical punk band which is no bad thing.
The Automaton & The Cosmonaut by Drunken Ramblings is a short, catchy and raw-sounding song with some great repeated backing vocals. This is followed by Charlie Work and track titled Captain Crapburgers & The Rhyme Schemes – what a title! It’s fast, furious and angry with definite potential for good ol’ live sing/shoutalong. Powerful and booming guitars for a musical introduction, followed by surprisingly melodic vocals is what FastFade have to offer with their song, Mid Point. It is short but oh so sweet.
The Doctor is the biggest change in musical style thus far. The song sees Maxwell’s Dead add some smooth Scottish ska tones blended with punchy punk rock to the Umlaut Records comp. If ska isn’t your thing then perhaps the thought-provoking and lively skate punk of RXR’s Take It Back is more your cup of tea. I hear this track is an exclusive for this comp too. Next up is some punk rock with a nice touch of folk. Cleary’s Clock is meeting point in Dublin and I got the Irish vibes simply from the style of the song – although The Scuts are from London, but whatever.
No Umlaut Records compilation would be complete without Müg. Merci is a roaring, head-banging punk rock anthem of a song. And at number 14 on the comp are No Matter with Shooting Star. This is another fast-paced and short track but more on the poppier side of punk rock – which is quite refreshing after so many loud and furious bands! History is an even more refreshing track by Coral Springs, a band from the Netherlands. The song features some great guitar work at the beginning, followed by suburb female vocals – I think the only female vocal of the comp. A catchy pop punk track.
The Burnt Tapes are up next. This is a song with a great introductory guitar work – there’s clearly some great musicians, as well as songwriters, on this comp. Adrenochrome Heights is a melodic and heartfelt punk rock song with gruff vocal style not dissimilar to Red City Radio. Start At Zero are possibly the first Slovenian punk band I’ve listened to (at least knowingly). I Wonder is another fast and furious punk rock song with plenty of opportunities for shouting along. There are hints of grunge in Ten Times Better by Street Drugs, the 18th track on the comp, particularly in the bass line. This is teamed up with clean and melodic vocals for some pretty darn catchy lyrics.
No Escape by Hack The Mainframe is everything I expected from an Umlaut Records comp and it’s great – pounding drums, loud guitars, melodic vocals, definite singalong ability and all played at a decently speedy pace. And as we near the end of the comp, Tape It Shut are here to bring something entirely different to the table. Verging on rap in parts, Trigger Sad is an extremely fast-paced and fun track although the lyrics are of a political nature and are far from light-hearted. Then the job of closing Umlaut Records Vol. 1 falls to Cereal Box Heroes for a pop punk tune that is certain to get your head nodding along.
So there we have it, 21 great punk rock songs from Umlaut Records. If any of these bands or songs interest you, and I sincerely hope that at least some of my descriptions are enticing, then you can find Umlaut Records Vol. 1 on Bandcamp now. It’s available to buy at a price of your choosing.
This review was written by Emma Prew.
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
A little while ago, Colin and Emma saw Good Friend open for Nothington at a show in Camden and were thoroughly impressed with their performance. It makes sense that Good Friend would play alongside Nothington, as both bands released their latest albums on Red Scare Industries, although Ride the Storm came out a little earlier at the end of November last year (on Black Friday, no less). Much like the glowing review Colin gave Good Friend after he saw them live, I was immediately impressed with this band. Good Friend are based in Newcastle but originally hail from Belfast, and Adam Carroll’s delectable Irish accent is clearly discernable on the record. He’s joined by Andy Reid and Leon Connolly. I’m not sure if it’s the combination of Carroll’s accent with the nautical album art and the notion of ‘Riding the Storm’, but this album gave me some serious pirate vibes - stirring up ideas of rebellious comradery and raucous partying that are generally associate with pirates. I may be alone in this (one of my ancestors was an Irish buccaneer, so I may be more sensitive to this than others), but there’s definitely some whiskey-soaked Irish flair happening on Ride the Storm.
The album opens with some slow, metallic distortion reverberating out like electrified water dripping down into an aluminium-bottomed boat, but soon fires up with some well-paced drumming and warm guitar. ‘Rock Bottom Revival’ is a fantastic song; its catchy chorus line of ‘I found faith on the radio’ is powerful and sincere, summing up the song’s focus on renewing one’s faith in humanity through music, bands, friends and community. There are a few synths brought into this song that I really wasn’t expecting, but which work here to create a fuller-bodied power pop sound. Towards the end, the song slows down to a poignant reflection on ‘those songs’ and the shared times they reflect. It then builds up beautifully with a stirring bridge, singing out ‘Hold me tightly, we arrive at the river. The water’s cold, but we’ll never surrender’. I know I’ve gone on quite a lot about this song, but it’s a really well-crafted track that immediately sweeps you up in the stormy pop punk of Good Friend.
The next song, ‘D.L.B.’, is a little more angsty and gritty. It reminds me of The Matches, but a more sophisticated version of that sound, with the self-deprecating chorus line of ‘Honestly, I’m a disaster, a dirty little bastard’. This line, of course, got firmly stuck in my head so that I found myself muttering ‘I’m a dirty little bastard’ under my breath while waiting in line at the supermarket. I got some great looks from moms doing their weekend shopping. The third track, ‘Overloading the Limiter’, brings back the energy of the album’s opener but plays with the contrast between quieter verses and a more raucous chorus. Then, ‘The Curious Case of Hy-Brasil’ opens with the sound of waves crashing and I’m getting all of those at-sea, pirate-drinking-song feels. There’s definitely a nautical theme being brought in again here with the lines ‘Would you be my anchor? Would you force me home? When the lights go down, I’ll cross this desolate shore’. This song also has some really great drumming and vocal work. ‘The Return of Fion and Fianna’ begins with a great looped riff that’s a little hypnotic, bounds through a few soaring choruses, and ends with a gutsy breakdown. ‘Curse the Name’ is a slower, heavier track where Adam can really show off his vocal talents. Actually, the vocals on this entire album are outstanding – switching between gravelly and smoother singing and hitting a wide vocal range. Not that any of the musicianship in Good Friend seems to be lacking, but I was continually impressed by Adam’s singing while listening to Ride the Storm.
‘Young Blood’ is my runaway favourite track from this record. It begins with some Matthew McConaughey-esque woah ohs that build into an upbeat song about ‘going wrong in all the right ways’. Leon’s drumming really makes this song, but I couldn’t tell you any specific reason why I immediately liked ‘Young Blood’ so much. It just has a great energy that feels like being blown free on the high seas. ‘Daniel O’D and the Moonshiners’ sounds like it could be an Irish band in its own right. Here, Leon shows off his drumming prowess again in a short and energetic song that issues a ‘call to arms’ to fight the feeling of ‘falling apart’. Before the band give out their ‘Irish Goodbyes’, ‘Bar Flies’ offers an acoustic song with some delicate layering of sounds (are those more synths I hear?) The effect of this is a really sweet, folksy ditty about the misfits who find homeliness in hanging out at their hometown bar. The last song on Ride the Storm, much like the first, begins with some slow reverb and the line ‘If you wanna drink whiskey, you’d best keep up’ (and I think we all know that these Irish lads aren’t kidding around when it comes to whiskey drinking). ‘Irish Goodbyes’ soon picks up and the album ends quite powerfully with pounding drums and soaring vocals.
Throughout the entire album, it felt like Good Friend reminded me a little of other bands. I’ve mentioned The Matches, and at times I also thought of Alkaline Trio, but the band that Good Friend most reminds me of is Direct Hit. However, while Good Friend are putting out edgy, well-crafted pop punk that does bear some resemblance to these bands, they also have a very distinctive flavour that smacks of salt water, whiskey and adventure. Ride the Storm packs a lot of power and energy; if the guys from Good Friend bring even a tenth of that energy to their live shows, I can see why Colin and Emma were really blown away by their performance. This is definitely a band that everyone should check out.
Stream and download Ride The Storm here: https://goodfriend.bandcamp.com/album/ride-the-storm
Like Good Friend here: https://www.facebook.com/goodfriendofficial/
This review was written by Robyn Pierce.
Monday, 13 March 2017
Fifteen Years are a melodic punk band from Bristol. The four piece, who are inspired by legendary labels Fat Wreck and Epitaph, formed in 2016 and in January of 2017 released their debut EP, Welcome To Hell.
Welcome To Hell starts with the most cheerful sounding of songs - Come On And Die. Starting out with a rumbling bassline before lead singer Dewey's distinctive vocals get the song really moving. They have that fantastic snotty sound that not many singers do anymore so it's feels fantastic to hear. This is followed up by Sail Away. The song starts with some first class drumming and some big guitar chords before Dewey's vocals add the melody to the song. There is an urgency in the verses that reminds me of The Ramones - always the best thing. Sail Away is a song that talks about wanting to get away and fighting the urge to go home again. It sounds like Dewey has an angel and devil on each shoulder, one telling him to get away and the other telling him to go home. Just reading the name of the track Suburban Wasteland makes me thing of 90s west coast punk rock. It's another song about wanting to get away from the place you're in. The use of different tempos in the song keeps you hooked on the verses until the massive and simple chorus of "I've Been Living In A Suburban Wasteland" comes in. So simple, catchy and brilliant. The crowd will be singing that loud and proud!
The fourth track, Mary, starts out in a bit of a plodding fashion before really springing into life. There are some wonderfully complex guitars parts mixed in with an ever changing tempo. This gives the song a really fresh sound that not many bands have. Lyrically there are plenty of sections that will allow a Fifteen Years crowd to sing along with the band, potentially making this a fan favourite. The penultiamte track on Welcome To Hell is named Rise and Fall. Listening to the music in the opening verse I loved how the guitar, bass and drums all do their own things but work perfectly together as one. Bassist Matt particularly stands out, he's one seriously skilled dude. The final track on Welcome To Hell is named Reason To Believe. I absolutely adored the simplicity of the song. It's basically a two minute long chorus but has such a powerful message. The lines "Find Reasons To Believe, Find Something Bigger Than Me, Find Solace In What You Do, Have Heart And Keep It True" are words that everybody in the whole wide world should live by!
Welcome To Hell as an EP is a bit of a throwback record, whilst somehow having a fresh sound to a lot of what is being put out at the moment. How these four Bristolians have managed this is beyond me. I don't really care, I just hope that they keep going and make more fantastic music like this.
Stream and download Welcome To Hell here: https://fifteenyearsbristol.bandcamp.com/album/welcome-to-hell
Like Fifteen Years here: https://www.facebook.com/fifteenyearsbristol/
This review was written by Colin Clark.
Friday, 10 March 2017
Here's part two of my look at a small section of the incredible bands coming out of Australia's punk rock scene.
Anchors are a fast paced melodic skate punk from Melbourne. The four piece have been around since 2008 and during that time they have made three releases including a self titled EP that was released only yesterday. Check out Born To Rust from that EP for a heavy, hard hitting, smash mouth punk rock explosion.
At The Space Jam
At The Space Jam are a brilliantly named ska punk band from Perth. The eight piece band formed in high school in 2013 and have since released an EP, The Shore Shark Redemption, which sees the band include elements of ska, reggae and punk together with funk, hip hop, dub and hardcore to create their own sound. Check out Marley and Me from The Shore Shark Redemption.
The Bob Gordons
Australia has a tradition of producing fast, fun and straight forward punk rock. That's a category you can definitely place The Bob Gordons in. Their music is hugely catchy without ever becoming poppy and has a charm about it that will instantly have you smiling like a fool. Check out Average At Best from the album Straight Hedge.
Camp Cope are a three piece band from the amazing Poison City Records roster. These three Melbourne ladies have been making a name for themselves all over the world. Earlier this year they released a split EP with Philadelphia based three piece Cayetana, showcasing each band to an even bigger audience. Check out Lost (Season One) from Camp Cope's self titled album.
Melbourne's Clowns are playing this year's Manchester Punk Festival and I'm ridiculously excited to see them. Playing super fast hardcore punk rock this five piece have been tearing it up all over Australia and are sure to do the same in the UK this spring. Their previous album Bad Blood is incredible and I'm really looking forward to their next full length, Lucid Again, which will feature the track Dropped My Brain. Check it out.
I'm quite convinced that The Decline spend as much time away from Australia as they do at home - these four guys always seem to be on tour. After finally witnessing their live show at The Fest last year they are now a big favourite of mine. Their 90s inspired skate punk always puts a smile on my face and gets my blood pumping. The energy that comes from their music is infectious and they are one of the most fun live bands - and humblest bands - you're ever likely to see. Check out I Don't Believe from Resister.
Foxtrot were one of my big finds of last year with the album Habitats appearing in my top ten of the year. Mixing punk rock with a hint of folk, there is a great uniqueness about the album. There are massive sing-a-long moments along with a great maturity about the sound. Foxtrot should be huge and they should come and do a UK tour! Check out Miner Bird from Habitats.
Horror My Friend
Adelaide three piece Horror My Friend play a nice brand of indie punk rock music that's becoming more and more popular all the time. I really enjoyed their 2014 release A Million Hands, it displayed a nice range of sounds and styles that prevented it becoming a bit samey by the last song. Check out Kaleidoscope from A Million Hands.
Lincoln Le Fevre and the Insiders
Lincoln Le Fevre is a folk punk performer from South Hobart who last year wowed Emma and I at Fest. So much so we ended up seeing him twice. There was a fantastic story telling element to his performances that hooked me and really had me captivated. An incredible songwriter. Check out Get Drunk, See Bands from Resonation.
I first heard of Luca Brasi when they released a split EP with London's Apologies I Have None last year. I was impressed with the emotional punk rock that the Tasmanian four piece played. Since then they have released their third full length named If This Is All We're Going To Be which is excellent! Check out Man, This Is Living from the new album.
The Nation Blue
The Nation Blue are a three piece playing a progressive style of gruff punk rock. I'm kind of reminded of Hot Water Music with the vocal style, which is no bad thing. Not many bands have a greater vocal duo than Hot Water Music. There is a harshness to The Nation Blue sound that really pulled me in when I first listened to them. Check out Uprising's Off from Rising Waters.
Nerdlinger are a skate punk band from Sydney and Wollongong that formed in 2012. I was a big fan of their last release, 2015's Trend Setter. It was great pop and skate punk with a dash of ska that was just fantastic. One of those great bands that baffles me by the fact they're not known all over the world. Check out Breaking Murphy's Law from Trend Setter.
Paper Thin were one of those excellent Bandcamp discoveries last year. Randomly looking through the Discover section and I came across their debut self-titled EP. What I found was a great emo/pop punk band that really reminded me of The Smith Street Band - one of my favourite bands of the past five years. Paper Thin was an excellent EP and the band have since released a new single named Scared Of Flying too. Check out Japan Song from Paper Thin - you'll be singing it for days!
This column was written by Colin Clark.
Thursday, 9 March 2017
Both my parents never cared about music at all and my dad in particular hates going to concerts. Nonetheless they were very supportive when I wanted to learn to play the trumpet back in grade school and, even though they didn’t like the switch to becoming a (punk rock) bass player, they have always got my back. By the way: I stumbled onto some of my all time favorite punk records because of both my grandmothers ironically. Read all about it!
1. The Ramones
Didn’t see that coming did you? I got the Ramones Anthology at age 14 from my grandmother (different granny!) at a toy store called ‘Happy Land’ in Herenthout, the hometown of this other huge Ramones fan I met soon after this, who turned out to become the Priceduifkes drummer and one of my best friends. I listened to these two CDs all the time and still consider them the bible. I was also obsessed with the booklet - great job done on this best of!
2. The Nobodys
When I first borrowed a copy of ‘Short Songs for Short Attention Spans’ as a teenager I thought it was pretty good. It soon grew on me though and I became obsessed with the Nobodys. I looked up and bought their entire discography on e-bay bit by bit and I’m still proud of my little collection. ‘Generation XXX’ was the soundtrack to every drunk night and road trip for years. It was just 5 to 10 shirtless guys standing in a circle, singing along to every single word of that record. No homo. Best of times.
3. The Cocktomail Novtales
I just had to put these local heroes in my top 3 because without them I don’t think I’d been the person I am right now. I started going to the Chiro (a youth organization comparable to boy scouting) when I was 12 and the older guys there were in a band called The Cocktomail Novtales. They dressed up like women, jesters etc. at every show and played catchy, loud, organ fueled punk rock songs. I loved them and looked up to them and still consider one of their shows in particular as the best show I’ve ever been at. It was those guys handing me Dwarves, Groovie Ghoulies, Nobodys, Rancid CDs and got me way into it. They dragged my 15 year old ass to a Queers/Supersuckers show in the Lintfabriek (Belgium’s CBGBs if you want). I hung out at their band practices and that’s what made me wanna start my own band.
4. Minor Threat
I’d been into punk rock for a couple years when most of my friends somehow got into old school hardcore. I was learning to play bass and already playing as the Priceduifkes with Mambo, so my friend Berre burned me a CD with some songs that had cool bass parts in them. There were 5 Minor Threat songs on this CD-R along with some NOFX and Satanic Surfers. But I only cared about Minor Threat from then on. While I still listened to my punk rock records, I became a hardcore kid. We started a new band called Over Time and went to hardcore shows every weekend (Belgium had an awesome hardcore scene back then with bands like Justice, Dead Stop, In Arm’s Reach, Dead Reckoning, Reproach, Sunpower…). This taught me a lot about DIY, doing shit with your band and building a scene. I put on my first show when I was 16 and there were some class bands. I still think that’s quite something.
5. The Cramps
My uncle had a copy of ‘… Off The Bone’ and had left it at my grandmother's place when he moved out. I found it when I was looking for comics and got hooked to this new, weird kind of music. I remember playing ‘Love Me’ in class when I was 13 for some school assignment. The other kids didn’t dig it. Some other records I found at my granny’s place: Dead Kennedys – In God We Trust Inc. LP, Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss, Deicide – s/t.
This Belgian hardcore punk band has been going for about 15 years now and they’re the best. The main reason I put them in my top 10 is because they asked us to tour with them when we were 19 years old. On this tour (a 4 day UK trip) we met James from Squinty Joe records who put out our first 7" shortly after that, and it got us hooked on touring and taking the band to a next level. If it wasn’t for this trip we might have never gotten into the idea of touring and we wouldn’t have been a band anymore for years, so this weekend changed our lives for sure.
7. The Apers
I picked up a second hand copy of the Apers S/T CD at Fatkat record store in Antwerp. I loved it just because of the cover – 4 guys in denim and leather jackets, jeans and chuckies. It was pretty much exactly how I looked myself back then, being a huge Ramones fan and all. The record is great and later on we became really good friends with the band ourselves and did some touring with them. Kevin has been one of my main influences as a songwriter and it was a huge honor when they asked us if they could do a cover of our song ‘Break Stuff’ on their last album.
8. Chixdiggit / The Mr T Experience
Dr. Frank and KJ have the best lyrics and I always wanted my lyrics to be as clever as theirs. I think I did an OK job and I have them to thank for it.
9. The Dopamines
They’re from Cincinatti, OH, and they made some of the best punk rock albums of the past 10 years. They have a new one coming out and I’ve seldom been more excited about a record coming out.
10. The Dwarves
One of the more violent bands. The Jesuses of Cool. I love this band so much and lose my shit every time I see them live. They are especially an influence because they’re not afraid to experiment production-wise. They can put a hip hop song on a punk record and it will be the best hip hop song you’ve ever heard – and blend in perfectly. Still not boring after 30+ years.
Stream and download The Priceduifkes new album Goathorse here: https://thepriceduifkes.bandcamp.com/
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