Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Album Review: Outsiders by Gnarwolves

When I first heard Gnarwolves after the release of their second EP, Cru, I instantly fell in love with the band. I then checked out their first EP, Fun House, and again loved it. Next they released a third EP named Funemployed and again I loved it. They released all three EPs together as a compilation album named Chronicles Of Gnarnia and it became one of my go to albums, whenever I wasn't sure what to listen to I usually found myself listening to Chronicles. Then Gnarwolves released their first proper album which was self titled. Whilst I did enjoy that album it never hit me as well as the band's previous work. Then the band released a new single named Adolescence and I had honestly no interest in it at all. So when news of a new Gnarwolves album came out I was slightly sceptical. Named Outsiders and released on Big Scary Monster Records, I, with a little trepidation, checked it out.

Just looking at the album art I got a small sense that this would be a more mature sounding Gnarwolves. Gone are the trademark slimy letters and cartoon skateboarders and what we have now is a mostly black record sleeve aside from some simple white text and a small photo of some lampposts. Outsiders begins with the song Straitjacket. Straitjacket is a straightforward punk rock song which eases you into Outsiders superbly with its simple and catchy lyrics that allow you to sing-along with it after just one listen. Something that really stands out after a couple of listens is drummer Max Weeks's tremendous work behind the kit, doing a first class job on driving the song forward with some incredible drumming. The first time I heard Car Crash Cinema I was instantly reminded of Bangers (RIP). It's a more melodic style of punk than the usual fast paced thrashy shred that Gnarwolves are known for. I love this change of style, really showing a skill in song writing and proving they are not one trick ponies The "all in this together" vibe Gnarwolves have always had in their music remains as despite the sonic change this remains a massive, fists up, voices loud banger. The third song, Wires, does see Gnarwolves return to their familiar gruff pop punk sound. This song is about living your life on the edge, knowing that you might mess things up but still being prepared to live your life that way.

Paint Me Like A Martyr is a song that is carried by Max's tremendous drumming. He pounds his way right through the song giving it a heavier sound. I loved the way that the drums, guitars and vocals all do their own thing on this song, giving it a fresh and unconventional sound that you don't often hear in the pop punk genre. The fifth song, English Kids, is about not wanting to live your life the way popular society thinks you should but not knowing what you want to do. I loved the opening line of the song. After a slightly grungey sounding guitar intro, the words "Forming A Straight Line, On A Crooked Mile Is No Easy Kind Of Life," really pulled me into the track. From then on the song just gets better and better. Argument is like no Gnarwolves song I've heard before. It's a slower paced indie pop punk song. There is definitely none of the thrashiness that the band are well known for and I think it's extremely refreshing to hear the band attempt such a different style. Not only do they attempt it, they do it so bloody well! Despite the slower pacing of the song it feels so upbeat and like a defiant summer sing-along track. It's the sort of song that is impossible not to smile along with when you're singing it. The Comedown Song sees the band pick the pace up but sticks to the pop sensibilities. This is a fairly melodic sounding track, it shows more of a restrained approach. I do get a sense that things will eventually explode into life but it never does. I like that.

Gnarwolves have done something so great on this record, they've managed to change up their style but still sound unmistakably like Gnarwolves. The best example of this is on the song Talking To Your Ghost. Production wise it's great, it sounds polished but still has a rough charm about it. Talking To Your Ghost is the kind of song that could help Gnarwolves achieve some well deserved mainstream success as it's wonderfully accesible to fans of all genres of music rather than just die hard punks. It's a plodding song from start to finish with Thom's vocals carrying the majority of melody. The penultimate song is brilliantly named Channelling Brian Molko. For those who don't know Brian Molko is the lead singer and guitarist of British rock band Placebo. It's a song about not being sure about who you are anymore and trying to find a way to discover yourself. Beginning with some more of the fantastic drumming that's been a big feature on Outsiders, on this song the band really find the perfect middle ground between the old and new Gnarwolves sounds that will please all fans of the band. I loved the use of the riff from Placebo's classic Nancy Boy, very creative song writing. Gnarwolves finish Outsiders with potentially the best song they've ever written. Shut Up is an almost seven minute long epic. I never, ever expected Gnarwolves to write a song like this but my word they did a fantastic job of it. Shut Up starts out at a slow pace and continues this way throughout the majority of the track, as Thom sings a story about the end of a relationship and the terrible place you can find yourself in. Thom's vocals are perfect here, you can really feel his pain. Just incredible stuff.

Outsiders is a wonderful accomplsihment from the Gnarwolves lads. Proving they are much more than one trick ponies with this wonderfully mature sounding effort. I feel like those first three EPs will always be my favourite Gnarwolves releases but this album is a real close contender. If you weren't so sure on Gnarwolves before you should definitely check out this album. It'll change your mind on the band.

Buy Outsiders here:

Like Gnarwolves here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Gig Review Red City Radio at Howlers, Pittsburgh 23/5/17 (by Lauren Stein)

I went bonkers as soon as this show was announced in February: Red City Radio, The Bombpops, Russian Girlfriends, and Pittsburgh’s own World’s Scariest Police Chases. Great bands all around, but with enough differences between them to make for a well-rounded bill.

I had been a fan of Red City Radio for a couple of years, after "Spinning In Circles Is A Gateway Drug" popped up on my Spotify discover playlist. I first learned of The Bombpops in February, when their album Fear of Missing Out was released and it was impossible to avoid them on social media. Shortly after, I heard and interview with front women Poli and Jen on the Mable Syndrome podcast and it endeared me to them even more. The fact that I was going to see both on the same bill was a dream.

Local dive bar Howlers was already packed when I arrived for the show since there was a Penguins hockey playoff game on and we Pittsburghers are nothing if not devout sports fans. The fact that the Pens score right when the show began was an auspicious sign for the evening (spoiler alert: the Penguins lost that game but went on to win the series).

First up was the seven-piece Pittsburgh hardcore group World’s Scariest Police Chases. These guys are always a total blast; the music is fast, the lyrics are brash and sarcastic, and they have matching outfits. They played some new material as well which sounded great. Those outside of the Pittsburgh area can catch WSPC when they play at Fest 16 in Gainesville, FL this fall.

Next up was Russian Girlfriends, whom I hadnʻt heard before. Itʻs a little bit hard to classify their sound: thereʻs definitely a pop punk base, but some songs veer off into solid rock and roll, while others are more aggressive. The lead singer has an excellent voice which really goes well with the songs. I really enjoyed their set and hope to hear more of them in the future.

Then, The Bombpops. Poli had brought her 4-year old son Adler on tour for a few days, and he was sitting on his dadʻs shoulders watching as the band set up. It was obvious he enjoyed seeing his mom do her thing, and an impromptu shout of, "I love you mommy!" just about killed me. Iʻm sure there are some people who think that a bar is never an appropriate place for a small child, but itʻs clear that his parents took the proper precautions (ear protection, etc) to make sure he was safe and loving the experience.

Their live set was as awesome as I expected it to be. Everyone was full of energy and Poli and Jen were killing it. They played all of my favorite songs, including "CA in July", "Capable of Lies", and "Be Sweet." The latter song they dedicated to the memory of Brandon from Teenage Bottlerocket, who had written the lyrics for them when they were first starting out. They finished their set off with the song "FOMO" and a surprise guest—Adler, with his own small guitar. It wasnʻt actually plugged in, but the kid was absolutely rocking out and having a blast being on stage with his mom. 

Finally, Red City Radio took the stage in front of a packed room. Lead singer Garrett Dale and the rest of the crew absolutely destroyed. They played a mix of old songs, including crowd favorites "Two Notes Shy of an Octave" and "Whatcha Got?", as well as some newly released material like "Rebels" and "If You Want Blood (Be My Guest)". Everyone in the room was moving around and singing along to the songs, just having a fantastic time.

This is the part of punk rock that I love the most: intimate shows, the shared experiences of being up way too late on a Tuesday night (now Wednesday morning) rocking out to music you love, and the sense of community that comes out of it. Such an amazing night with fantastic bands.

Album Review: Broadcasting To The Nations by Authority Zero (by Dan Peters)

Defending all the things!

Bird Attack records can’t seem to put a step wrong with their release lineup. With the greatest from the British scene amongst their line-up as well as top rated global powerhouses like Counterpunch, Forus, Belvedere and, my all time number 1 favourites, MUTE included in their roster it feels like they looked at my taste in music and decided that was exactly what they were going to exclusively release! In a line-up that consists of my 2016 pick for album of the year and 2017's current contender, Bonsai Mammoth by Darko, of course it’s Bird Attack that give the Darko masterpiece its first serious competition in my eyes with the incredible Authority Zero and their brand new album, Broadcasting To The Nations.

The hairs on my arms start to stand up as I hear “let’s go zero” chanted when firing up this album. I’m not usually one to jump the gun on my predictions of whether a record will be good or not but I hear the chant and flashback to all the times I’ve seen AZ live and I face the facts. They’d have to write an electronic house concept album for me to not enjoy what’s about to happen, even then I’d give it a good college try! And then just like that I’m into it and greeted with scorching pace drums, gritty deep bass and skate punk riffs. We’re into it. First One In The Pit is a machine gun of a track firing at a thousand miles an hour and should be the new anthem for every pit freak out there.

For the uninitiated, Authority Zero have many an arrow in their quiver. A strong skate punk start plays a fitting tribute to the Epitaph heyday whilst also being low key better than anything the bands they are honouring have produced in recent years. With Reconciliation we get to witness the birth of a beautifully harmonised classic with all the right woahs in all the right places and the pace doesn’t slow through Destiny And Demise. The gears shift over to the offbeat afterwards, title tune Broadcasting to the Nations is a ska punk skankathon with obligatory tasty punk chorus and in Summer Sickness things slow right down and we’re treated to staggeringly good vocals from Jason DeVore. His intonation and inflection is just a delight and shown to full effect in a chilled and beautiful sounding reggae track. Things start really mixing up afterwards with AZ clearly having a great time flexing all their creative muscle. If you are a fan of any type of punk rock, ska, or just alternative music in general you’ll find something that will set off your incredible track radar. Revolution Riot is for the ska kids what Reconciliation is for the skate punk kids as One Way Track Kid is for the pop punk kids.

Everything here is of the utmost quality and sounds like a dream. If I had to pick an album to be stranded on a desert island with I would strongly lean towards Broadcasting To The Nations. There’s a huge diverse range of punk to reggae in one place. I don’t want to compare this too much to previous albums but the mixture of styles hasn’t been this varied since Andiamo and the production on Broadcasting To The Nations is a million times that of the 13 year old former. So am I saying this is the best album they’ve ever created? Well, in a nutshell, yes. For everyone from the Authority Zero journeyman to the master this is the new go to album. Whatever your taste I defy you not to find a track on here that is something you can love deeply. You could ask me to pick a standout track and to that I would say there is no standout. Revolution Riot is exceptional, same applies to finisher No Guts No Glory and also La Diabla. There is clear mass appeal and single opportunities with Reconciliation, the title track and really everything else in the thirteen songs taking up residence within. Sum 41 claimed it but Authority Zero really delivered on all killer no filler. In an age where people seem to listen to full albums less and less this is one I’ve had on from start to finish since it graced my presence.

In conclusion, Authority Zero have not only hit a personal best and bolstered the already outstanding reputation of Bird Attack Records but they’ve also set in stone the fact that they are one of premier global punk outfits in the world today.

Defend Skate Punk.

Defend Pop Punk

Defend Ska Punk

Defend Reggae Punk

Defend Street Punk

Defend it all with one easy purchase.

Stream and download Broadcasting To The Nations here:

Like Authority Zero here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Album Review: Ann Beretta by Ann Beretta

Ann Beretta have new music! If you're old like me this is very exciting, if you're a little younger then you might not know who Ann Beretta are. Let me give you a little history lesson.

Ann Beretta formed back in 1996 in Richmond, Virginia, also the home of punk legends Avail. They played straightforward punk rock music with slight hints of country and rockabilly. Between 1996 and 2003 the band was very prolific, releasing 10 albums, EPs, singles and a live album on labels such as Fueled By Ramen, Lookout and Union 2112 Records. Sadly in 2004 the band disbanded due to long time issues with record labels and managers. In 2012 the band reformed and released a best of album named Wild, Young and Free on Gunner Records and last month they released their first new material in fourteen years in the form of a self titled single on Say-10 Records. This got me so excited! 

The single has two new songs on it. First is the completely, brand spanking new Kill The Lights. The second song is a re-working of Forever Family which originally appeared on 1998's Bitter Tongues. On my first listen of the single I immediately messaged the Colin's Punk Rock World group chat and said "The new Ann Beretta single is incredible!" Which it is. Kill The Lights is pure pop punk perfection. From the very second the song started a huge grin appeared on my face, this is the Ann Beretta I loved oh so much back in the day. It starts off at a great pace and doesn't really slow down aside from a short breakdown towards the end of the song. On that very first listen I found myself wanting to sing along with every single word, verse and chorus. Lead singer Rob Huddlestone's voice makes the song so accessible to anyone listening. If you're not a fan of punk because you think that it's all incomprehensible screaming then you need to listen to this song. A blooming wonderful piece of punk rock that I will continue to gush over for a long time, I suspect.

Forever Family is a firm favourite Ann Beretta track of mine so I was intrigued to hear this re-working. The first thing you notice is how much fuller the production on the song sounds compared to its original 1998 recording. Hardly surprising considering there are almost twenty years between the releases of the two versions. Forever Family feels like a great choice of song to re-work for this release as it's about sticking together as a band knowing that no matter what you will survive. The band have been through a lot during its existence and to be releasing new material after all this time says a lot about the bond that the band have.

This single has got me really excited for a brand new album from Ann Beretta. As one of the most underrated bands from back in the day, I'm so pleased they're back and sounding better than ever. I don't know if the band has many plans for shows but if they do I really hope a UK visit is in the pipeline.

Buy Ann Beretta here:

Like Ann Beretta here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Gig Review: Jeff Rosenstock at The Camden Underworld 23/5/17

Every so often a gig is announced where I immediately shout "Yes!" and excitedly tell Emma that we're going here to see whoever without really thinking too much about it. This was without a doubt the case when Jeff Rosenstock announced a run of shows in the UK as part of their European tour. The London part of the tour would be happening at The Camden Underworld with support from Doe, Triple Sundae and Iona of Shit Present. Much fun was to be had.

Iona, who also booked the tour, was first up. There was already a decent sized crowd gathered to see the former Great Cynics bassist and she did not disappoint. Playing a selection of newly written songs, a Shit Present song and a Great Cynics song, seeing her perform live you quickly see what a special talent she is. Lyrically the songs all have quite a sad undertone but the way they are performed is so unbelievably captivating. I loved Iona when she was in Great Cynics, I love Shit Present and I love her solo work. A great start to the show.

Up next were London pop punks Triple Sundae who were arguably playing the biggest show of their careers… so far. I say so far because I can only imagine they'll go from strength to strength based on this performance. Starting off with a high energy track, they immediately got a big portion of the crowd dancing, moshing, crowd surfing and singing along. If they were nervous about playing a show at the Underworld with Jeff Rosenstock then it certainly didn't show as the four piece put in a slick and confident performance, completely undeterred from the madness that was happening in front of them. Triple Sundae definitely earned some new fans after this show, I am looking forward to catching them again - hopefully soon.

Doe are one of the hottest bands in the UK's indie punk scene. Emma and I have seen them a few times now and we both agreed this was the best we've seen them. Personally I find Doe a little hit and miss but this night was definitely a hit. Something really clicked tonight. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what is was but it just felt Doe had stepped things up a notch and I now understand a bit more just why they are so loved. Despite saying at the start of the set that her throat was sore I thought singer Nicola's vocals were superb throughout and drummer Jake's backup vocals really were on point too. I'd never even noticed him do vocals before. Playing a selection of older material, along with some new tracks, it's clear that Doe are a band that will continue to grow and grow.

Finally it was time for the legend that is Jeff Rosenstock. Seeing him perform live for the first time last year was one of my highlights of 2016 so, like I said when this gig was announced, I was excited. It seems that I wasn't the only person who was excited about Jeff Rosenstock's gig as the Underworld was now packed. As full as I've seen it in a while. After a brief chat with our new pal Sarah from Shout Louder Punk, we got ourselves a good viewing spot for what we expected to be a set full of brilliance from Jeff Rosenstock. Despite a few issues that I'll get to later, the set was absolutely superb. Rosenstock's music has always had a chaotic charm to it and it's definitely best witnessed live. His records are great but it's clear that he writes for a live crowd. Playing mostly songs from his previous two albums, We Cool? and Worry, every song gained huge sing-alongs from the Underworld crowd. Highlights for me were Festival Song, Wave Goodbye To Me Tonight, Nausea, Serious, I'm Sorry and You, In Weird Cities but in truth I was over the moon with every song that was played. Jeff Rosenstock gets a lot of great press for his strong DIY ethics in his approach to his music but I always think he deserves more recognition for what a fantastic live performer he is as well. Because of the chaotic nature of his music you'd think the set would be littered with mistakes but if there are it doesn't matter at all. Like Jeff said "If it sounds a bit different; see it as a special, limited edition performance." I feel like that's the case with every Jeff Rosenstock show - it's a special one-off performance that will never be repeated. Jeff is the best!

Now to a slightly negative part of the evening. There was a very small minority of the crowd that weren't as pleasant as the people you'd normally bump into at a punk show. One incident happened at the beginning of Doe's set where some moron shouted something sexist towards Nicola, she dealt with him brilliantly and really put him in his place. The second incident was during Jeff's set. One member of the crowd got a little too rambunctious for the people around him and was causing people to not enjoy themselves. Jeff noticed this and stopped playing a song midway through to try and sort things out before they escalated. Nobody likes to see things like this at any show or event, especially with all the terrible things that are happening all over the world. Gigs should always be a safe space. I thought both Jeff and Nicola handled these incidents perfectly and made me have even more respect for both of them.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Colin's Punk Rock World Playlist: May 2017

Here's what Dan, Emma, Omar, Pan, Robyn, our new friend Lauren and myself have been listening to this May.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Jeff Rosenstock Songs

I got to see Jeff Rosenstock again on Tuesday night. I absolutely love Jeff Rosenstock. Not just his amazing music but the whole punk rock DIY ethic he lives his life by. The man is an inspiration to everyone that knows of him. He is one of the true, great icons of our generation. People will tell Jeff Rosenstock stories forever. He has had a long and storied career in this little obsession we call punk rock music so I thought it was only right to attempt a top ten Jeff Rosenstock songs. This top ten is my picks from my three favourites of his musical endeavours - his first band The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, the legendary Bomb The Music Industry and his current project, simply named Jeff Rosenstock.

10. Wave Goodnight To Me Tonight (Jeff Rosenstock - Worry)

Wave Goodnight To Me Tonight Was Written by Jeff Rosenstock as a thank you to those who donated money after the band's van was broken into in San Francisco. It's on the newest album, Worry, and is more of an indie rock song rather than the chaotic punk we might be more accustommed to from Mr Rosenstock.

9. So Let's Go Nowhere (Arrogant Sons Of Bitches - Three Cheers For Disappointment)

The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches and So Let's Go Nowhere were my first bits of Rosenstock exposure and I was instantly hooked. I loved the upbeat, high tempo ska punk. There is also so much of the chaotic nature that has been present in much of Rosenstock's music that endeared him to the masses.

8. Nausea (Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?)

Nausea was the first single off of Jeff's second "solo" album, We Cool? A big theme of that album is approaching your thirties and wondering what you've accomplished so far in your life. Nausea in particular focuses on this as it tells a story of how Jeff would avoid conversations with family and friends because he didn't know what he wanted to do with his future. How many of us have been there? I certainly have!

7. Festival Song (Jeff Rosenstock - Worry)

Festival Song was definitely the stand out track from last year's album Worry. Starting out with a chorus of "Whoa-ohs", it's immediately a sing-along fun time. Festival Song is a song about playing shows that you don't really want to because of the good money you'll get paid.

6. It's Official! We're Booooorrrrring! (Bomb The Music Industry - Goodbye Cool World)

What I loved about Bomb The Music Industry was just how much is going on in their music. It always felt like a lot of their songs were a jam by people who could barely play their instruments, rather than wonderfully crafted songs by an amazingly skilled group of musicians. This is something that really made BTMI loved - they didn't come off as superstar rockstars they were one of us! It's Official! We're Boring is a song about going against the grain, standing up and doing your own thing.

5. The First Time I Met Sanawon (Bomb The Music Industry - Adults!!!: Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing!!!!!!!)

I love the chorus of "As We Get Older Every Day Feels Longer, And Although I Know I Struggle I Will, Do My Best To Never Get Tired" on The First Time I Met Sanawon. It's a proper gang vocal moment that I adore. The whole song is an upbeat, fast paced affair that will get fans dancing and singing as if their lives depended on it. The track sees Jeff return to more of a ska punk sound that he does so brilliantly well.

4. I'm Serious, I'm Sorry (Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?)

I'm Serious, I'm Sorry is an incredibly emotional song that really shows off Jeff's skill as a songwriter. It's a song that tells the story of the regret that Jeff felt when he went to a party and his friend had a breakdown but he was too drunk to help her. Throughout the song you can really feel the pain that Jeff is feeling. The way the song builds towards its ending is hugely draining, every time I hear this song it really get me and pulls my heart strings.

3. Future 86 (Bomb The Music Industry - Album Minus Band)

Future 86 is a rare slow paced Jeff/BTMI song. The majority of the track is just Jeff and his guitar before he is eventually joined by the rest of the band for the big climax of the song. The song is about being on tour and struggling with life away from your loved ones. This is one of Jeff's most beautiful and touching songs and the way it performed is just masterful.

2. You, In Weird Cities (Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?)

Every couple has songs that they consider "our songs". You, In Weird Cities is one of mine and Emma's. It's about living apart from the people that you care about and using music to help you feel close to them. This was so relevant to me and Emma at the beginning of our relationship as we lived two hours apart and didn't get to see each other anywhere near as much as we'd like. It's a fast paced punk rock track that starts like a bomb going off and is full of so much passion and energy it's impossible not to love this song.

1. I Don't Love You Anymore (Bomb The Music Industry - Get Warmer)

This was the first Bomb The Music Industry song I ever heard. It's a party song, it's upbeat and you will dance like it's the last time you will ever dance. It's a crazy amount of fun. A lot of people think that I Don't Love You Anymore is a break up song but it's actually about feeling like you drink too much and wanting to kick the habit. Jeff brilliantly uses relationships as a metaphor. I love a party song that actually has a real sombre tone when you look at it more closely.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Album Review: Responsibilities by A Great Notion (by Emma Prew)

A Great Notion are a three-piece punk rock band from Peterborough. Their sound has evolved from a one-man acoustic act to a louder, full band folk and Americana-influenced band. We recently caught some of their set at Manchester Punk Festival and I was particularly impressed by them – their sound is certainly my cup of tea. Their new album, Responsibilities, was released the week after MPF, on the 28th April by Aaahh!!! Real Records. Jordy kindly posted us a copy of the CD, after reading our MPF review, and I was keen to take a listen.

Responsibilities kicks off with Save Me Jerry, a fairly distortion heavy song that has an almost grungy feel to it – almost. But Jordy's vocals are clearly more rooted in folk or Americana-style rock and that’s just how I like it. The song is about drinking (Sailor Jerry rum, for example) in an attempt to solve your problems. It’s a short song at just over 2 minutes and is very much suited to opening the album. The alcohol theme continues into the second track, Whiskey & Blood. Unlike the first however, this one features pounding drums, a fast pace and far more of a punk rock intro. Gruff punk meets Americana that is sure to get your head nodding, whilst metaphorically hitting you in the face. This is a singalong, fists-in-the-air feel good punk rock affair and the vocals on the chorus actually remind me of The Bouncing Souls, weirdly.

Les McQueen Was Right continues the more upbeat nature of the previous track, this time taking a turn away from the alcohol theme – just when I was starting to think the band were alcoholics (just kidding!). Instead the subject of this song is nostalgia. Or more specifically, thinking back to a time when things seemed simpler – you could call it the good old days and it’s something we’re all guilty of doing. ‘We move on, We grow old, We look back, We hold on, Then realise it’s all the same.’  It almost seems like the songs so far are paired together in their themes, as the fourth song, Something To Lose, is also about looking back at the past to a certain extent. Things were easier ‘back then’ when you didn't have anything to lose. This song features some great harmonies, showing that the full band adds more than just volume. A fairly repetitive but catchy track. Great stuff.

Next up is Hey Happy!, a song that, ironically, doesn't sound too happy to start with thanks to a melancholic solo guitar riff but when the drums kick in with more melodic guitar the mood lifts. This song is simply about being happy because you know someone else is happy, perhaps after they've been through a rough period. There’s a great little folky almost country-style guitar riff and layered vocals that really make the song. After Hey Happy! comes Favourite Lines, a song with a big sound and a big intro. It is slower paced than previous songs on Responsibilities but the change in pace is welcome. Favourite Lines has slightly different sound altogether really, it’s maybe even a bit bluesy and is packed full of emotion. There are some great melodic guitar parts in between verses to once again get your head nodding along. Just when I thought this was a more negative-sounding song we come to the end and the line ‘It will be alright’ is repeated in an uplifting manor.

The next song is one that I recall hearing live when we watched A Great Notion at Manchester Punk Festival in April, just before the album was released. It's The Waiting I Can't Stand is a punchy little number with vocal parts dispersed with the drums, bass and guitars. I guarantee the chorus of ‘Are we just waiting? For this to go wrong.’ will be lodged in your head after one listen. This is another head nodder – hell, they all are – and maybe a bit of foot stomper too. The eighth track, Stronger From Mistakes, brings a surprise with it. Here A Great Notion returns to their roots for an acoustic track – the only one of the album. As much as I'm loving the full band sound, this is a refreshing change for the album. ‘You know I’ve got to go get away, Got to go find away, I’m never going to change my mind, No, no not this time, All that I can do is try, All that I can do is try, All that I can do is try, try, try, try.’ If at first you don't succeed, you know what to do – try, try, try. You can do it.

The penultimate song of Responsibilities is titled Medicine & Books and it sees the full band return and on top form too. This song has shouty gang vocal verses while the chorus is far more melodic. It’s a great combination and there’s no denying just how catchy that chorus is – even if it is only two lines repeated over and over. ‘Don’t wait for me, I’m not coming home tonight.’  Five Thousand Strong is the album’s closer, an almost acoustic track to begin with that weirdly reminds me a bit of Dolly Parton’s Jolene – haha (sorry). The first part of the song features simple muted electric guitar and vocals alone before the drums tempt the listener into one last full band party around the halfway mark – it definitely feels like an album closer. Listening to the recorded version of this song for the first time, I realised that this is the track I spoke about in my MPF review. Five Thousand Strong is about playing music for the love of it, regardless of who is watching and, if just a handful of people turn up, you'd put on the same show as if there was a hundred people in the room – or five thousand in this case. ‘Even if there’s only 5 people in this room, we’re gonna sing like we’re 5000 strong, Our tongues’ will spit the words while our hearts keep the beat, and we’ll sing like we’re 5000 strong.’

I knew I’d like this album because A Great Notion play my sort of music but I wasn’t prepared for Responsibilities to be quite this good. I love it. I hope you do too.

You can download/stream the album here on Bandcamp and find A Great Notion on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Gig Review: Flogging Molly at Morgantown Amphitheater, West Virginia 19/5/17 (by Lauren Stein)

Before Friday night, I had never heard Flogging Molly. I had heard of them, of course. They've been around long enough that it's pretty much impossible to avoid the name. And, technically, I have heard some songs in the past; a friend attending their Salty Dog cruise in March bombarded me with footage. But on that same boat Less Than Jake's Roger Lima was standing in for Eric Melvin and killing it with NOFX, so forgive me if my attention were elsewhere. I didn't have anything against the band itself; I just never really sat down to check out their music.

But I'm never one to turn down a show, so when a buddy was looking for company I gladly said yes.

That's how I ended up at Morgantown Amphitheater on a warm Friday evening, about to see three bands I knew nothing about. The amphitheater was located in a small park in Morgantown, about half a mile from its sister venue Mainstage Morgantown. It was a surprisingly intimate venue, divided into lawn, benches, and pit. I always like to be right up front where the action is, so we arrived early to check out merch (Flogging Molly gets bonus points for rad womenʻs shirts) and get a spot on the rail.

It was a good thing we did, since music started right at 6:30 with Dublin-born singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe. Walshe played a mix of his own songs in addition to some Irish and British folk songs. Clearly skilled on the guitar and with a solid voice, he provided an entertaining start to the evening. It was a shame that the venue was still mostly empty during his set; he was a solid opener.

Next up was The White Buffalo, who my friend was especially excited to see (their songs have been featured on the TV show Sons of Anarchy). This three piece group exuded stage presence and enthusiasm. I have literally never see a drummer smile so much. Their songs ranged in genre from upbeat rock and roll to depressing Americana, but they were always well-executed and enjoyable.

Around 8:30, as the sun was setting, Flogging Molly went on. As the band took the stage, I recognized a familiar face: bassist Nathen Maxwell, whose band The Bunny Gang had opened up for Less Than Jake earlier this year (they were good). Flogging Molly wasted no time in getting down to business and the stage erupted with sound. I hadnʻt realized how large the band was: seven members (two guitarists, drummer, bassist, fiddle, accordion, and mandolin/banjo). The result is an amazingly rich sound that immediately gets your toe tapping.

The music was fast and catchy and just plain fun. Frontman Dave King clearly loves what he does, and either heʻs younger than he looks or is in incredibly good shape, as he was bouncing around the stage in a way I wouldnʻt expect, including a bout of Irish dancing. Despite the energy that was flowing from the stage, the pit was surprisingly sedate. People barely moved at the beginning of the set and moshing was non-existent until about halfway through, when the band played "Devilʻs Dance Floor." Perhaps the crowd just needed time for the alcohol to soak in, as it was increasingly rowdy from there on out.

Most of the evening was somewhat of a blur; without knowing any of the songs or getting a setlist, itʻs hard to give a play-by-play of the night. Every so often they played a song from their upcoming album, Life is Good, which revealed a benefit of going into a show blind: I wasnʻt inherently biased against the new material! Letʻs be honest, though: if you know the band well enough to recognize the songs, you probably have a good idea of what their live show is like: crazy entertaining. By the end of the night, I was exhausted from dancing my butt off. The music was fun, the energy was infectious, and (eventually) the crowd was along for the ride.

Many (most?) people donʻt like the idea of going to see bands theyʻve never heard of. And I get it: tickets can be pricey, drives can be long, and time is at such a premium that people only want to spend it on sure bets. But sometimes, if you take a chance and give that new band a shot, or even just arrive early enough to hear the supporting acts, you can discover some new favorite music. Flogging Molly has definitely entered my music rotation and Iʻd absolutely go back next time theyʻre in town.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Gig Review: Forever Unclean at The Unicorn, Camden 17/5/17

What is the best way to cure a rubbish day at work that involved walking around in pouring rain for eight hours? Going to Camden for a punk rock show, of course! Danish skate punks Forever Unclean were in town to celebrate the release of their newest EP Float, which was released on Disconnect Disconnect Records in March. The show was at The Unicorn pub and had a stacked line up featuring Cereal Box Heroes, Fastfade, On A Hiding To Nothing and The Run Up. And the show was free! Result!

This was the first time either Emma or I had made the trip to The Unicorn and neither of us were completely sure where exactly it was. After a quick check of Google Maps we soon discovered The Unicorn is a twenty minute walk from Camden Town station, in the rain. (Google didn't tell me about the rain, I could tell that from the drops of water that were falling from the sky onto my head). When we eventually arrived at The Unicorn, we were fairly soggy and opening act Fastfade had begun their set.

Approaching the stage, I was excited to hear that Fastfade were playing a Lagwagon cover. Being the day after Lagwagon Day (May 16) the band played Mr Coffee and sounded fantastic. I like to think that if they had played a day earlier they would have played May 16. Fastfade also did a cover pf Green Day's When I Come Around. These covers were fun but I was most impressed with Fastfade's original material. This was fast, snotty, 90s-style skate punk that was full of attitude and great fun to watch. These three guys all looked quite young so it was kind of refreshing to hear them play such a style, especially as they probably weren't alive when it was at its peak. What was even more refreshing was that they played it really, really well. Fastfade are a really talented young band who, with a lot of hard work, could make a good name for themselves. I will be watching out for these boys.

Next up were Cereal Box Heroes. Cereal Box Heroes are a three piece band from London who I've been aware of for a while but have never seen live. This was a mistake - I should not have waited so long. Cereal Box Heroes were just completely ace. The band played fast paced, in-your-face pop punk with bassist Dominic and guitarist Conor sharing vocal duties. Tonight's set list was comprised of mostly Conor songs, something he wasn't too keen on and jokingly complained about throughout the set. The entire Cereal Box Heroes set went by like a whirlwind which is also how I would describe their presence on stage. There isn't a moment when any of the three members of the band are stationary of stage and they put everything they have into their performance. Fantastic set.

Following Cereal Box Heroes were another London based band I've been aware of for a while but never seen - On A Hiding To Nothing. The four piece are one that CPRW's Dan Peters has been raving about for a while and now I really understand why. Playing 90s influenced USA skate punk with a British charm, I found myself wondering why exactly this band aren't on more line-ups in London. They played a selection of songs from their previous two EPs, 2015's self titled and 2017's Formaldehyde, all of which sounded fantastic live. There was also a funny moment where bassist Jack's strap came flying off. The lovely Mark Bell of Umlaut Records and Müg who was in the crowd quickly jumped on stage to assist and ended up holding Jack's bass for him for the majority of the song. Only at a punk show! If you've not seen On A Hiding To Nothing you're really missing out. Go listen to them as soon as you finish reading this and then find out where they're playing next and go see them!

The penultimate band of the evening have just released one of my favourite singles of the year, The Run-Up. The five piece from Bristol recently released the brilliant follow up to 2015's Scared Of Everything - Sink or Swallow/North. The Run-Up actually started their set with Sink or Swallow which really eased me into their set brilliantly. When I reviewed the single I mentioned how the sound reminded of bands like Iron Chic and Red City Radio. Live there was definitely a sense of these bands but The Run-Up's songs are so good it never comes across that they are ripping anybody off. Their sound is melodic with fantastic gruff vocals. I'm constantly amazed by all of the great bands that are in the UK scene. I think The Run-Up are up there with the very best. These guys are going to be massive!

Finally it was time for Forever Unclean. I've been a big fan of Forever Unclean since hearing their debut EP, Shreds, which was awesome but with Float the Danish three piece have really upped their game even more. I was fortunate enough to see them a couple of years ago (which I think was their first UK tour as a band) at Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee and was blown away by them as a live band. Combining fast skate punk with a bit of a scratchy, indie sound, Forever Unclean had the entire crowd at the Unicorn hooked as they stormed through songs from both EPs. As good as the tracks from Shreds are it was the songs from Float that really got the best reactions from the people watching. It's safe to say that that EP will be on a lot of end of year lists. It was great to see the band having such a fun time on stage as well. It's clear that Forever Unclean are aware of how lucky they are to be able to go and tour another country and to be adored wherever they go. There's a playfulness about them on stage but also a lot of humbleness. Forever Unclean finished off a fantastic night of punk rock!

It felt like ages since I've gone to a small punk rock show so it felt fantastic to be back in the back room of a small pub. All five bands were fantastic and all got great reactions from the crowd. This was our first time at the Unicorn and I was really impressed. The floor space was a decent size, the stage management was superb with all the bands getting their allotted time without the show overrunning - considering there were five bands playing this was some feat and the sound for each band was superb. This was such a great night and one of my favourite gigs of the year so far.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Album Review: Giantnormous by Zapiain (by Omar Ramlugon)

Yorkshire trio Zapiain describe this album on their label’s website with a comparison that neatly encapsulates the three cornerstones of their sound; “[…] fans of such 90s heroes as Jawbreaker, Leatherface or Samiam will once again find themselves in the sweetest of familiar territories.”[1] Without wanting to be unfairly reductive, it’s safe to say that is about as on the nose as I could describe them, but that’s intended as a compliment.

Chris Hall’s rough, low-register bark is mixed quite prominently in the mix, which was a smart move as his gnarled voice actually carries the songs with a bracing grit and fervour halfway between Frankie Stubbs and Blake Schwarzenbach, while the rhythm section of Chris Haigh and James Booth capably tear along, contributing vocal harmonies as and when appropriate. The guitars’ clanking grit is even a little reminiscent of Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, mixing in some saw edged high notes among the growling barre chords to keep things interesting.

Opener ‘My New Home’ sets the bar high, with a slicing hook and satisfyingly meaty palm muted chugging, with Chris Haigh’s weathered roars of “Rock bottom / Every day” cutting through the din. Things don’t really let up from there, with the furious ‘Survivor’ and ‘Antimatter’ giving way to the slower ‘Shotgun’, which features tangibly bitter lyrics. Elsewhere, ‘Zapplecross’ is a bit of a ripper, as is ‘Sulk And Beg’, with its pointed lyric of “You can be the one to prove me right / By proving me wrong”. In spite of its stupid title, ‘Mislaid Eyes’ is another winner with barrelling crunchy riffs and power pop hooks abound, and ‘Sunrise’ ends the album on a sweet, soaring guitar solo to bring things home in riotous fashion.

Not everything works; ‘Without Warning’ loses itself a little and ‘Twin Geeks’ pales a bit in comparison into the strength of the tracks around it. But on the whole this is a solid, enjoyable effort, put together with heart and conviction. What’s not to like?


Stream and download Giantnormous here:

Like Zapiain here:

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Album Review: Crustfall by Days N Daze (by Emma Prew)

Days N Daze are a DIY folk punk band – or thrashgrass band as they’ve sometimes labelled themselves – that originally formed as a duo in Houston, Texas, by Whitney Flynn and Jesse Sendejas, almost ten years ago. They’ve swapped and changed additional musicians over the years and put out more than 10 albums and splits, with the latest album, Crustfall, having been released in March this year.

When I was initially confronted with reviewing Crustfall I was a little apprehensive about reviewing an album with so many songs on it. What if they all sound the same? What if I start to repeat myself? I’m used to albums that have maybe 10–12 tracks, nevermind that I often review EPs as well, and this one has 16. However, upon listening to Crustfall for the first time I realised that this was a 16-track album with lots of variety. There’s something for everyone on this album, well every punk fan anyway. 

The first song of Crustfall is called I Wanna See It Burn and has one of the many guest lyricist/vocalists of the album, Juicy Karkass. The song is very raw, angry and fast. As you’d probably expect from a song about all the negatives in the world. It’s like getting punched in the face… in a good way. To Risk To Live (ft. Freddie Boatright) is a favourite of mine. It’s upbeat and features plenty of mandolin. The song is about avoiding the mentality that you have to life your life a certain way, ie. going to college and working hard to get a job like you dad and wasting your life away. Inspirational. Aspirational. ‘Don’t waste your best years, Just livin’ for somebody else, Don’t waste your best years, Just hidden behind a desk, Don’t waste your best years, They’re the only ones you’ll ever get, So why not play life closer to the chest.’

Note Idol is the third track of Crustfall and it starts with a decent amount of trumpet. It feels perhaps more Spanish flamenco than ska and gives the album a bit of a party vibe. ‘A house is not always a home.’ Saturday Night Palsy sticks with the trumpet, alongside guitar. This song has a super catchy chorus and is fairly melodic for two relatively raw vocalists. Where the past is the past, And what's done is done, And the only concern we have is having fun, Where the cops all turn their heads the other way’. The next track, Self Loathing, has a fairly lengthy musical intro showing some great musicianship. When the vocals do begin, the lines of the song are alternated between Whitney and Jesse. This is pretty self-deprecating song but it remains suitably upbeat. ‘And now I know myself a bit too well, And I’m not sure I like what I’ve become, Self loathing is overwhelming, Every mirror is a loaded gun’

Exhausted Insomniac is a cover of an RCI song – who Google informs me are a indie punk band from Ohio. I wasn’t familiar with the original until I looked it up but upon first listen to the Days N Daze version it did seem a bit different to the previous tracks so it wasn’t not overly surprising that it is a cover. The track somehow doesn’t have the same rawness as other Days N Daze songs but it was great nonetheless. They certainly put their own folk punk spin on it. Insta Mental Breakdown serves as an interlude of sorts. It’s a full length song (2 and a half minutes) but performed in a different style altogether. The lyrics feel like a spoken word recital rather than a typical song and the instruments seem like they’re more for theatrical effect than melody… until the end at least. Interesting.

The eighth track brings a great swinging motion to Crustfall. Devil’s Hour is quite Baltic-sounding song where Whitney takes the lead – previously it had mostly been the duo together so this was quite refreshing. The lyrics are venomous and passionate as ever with macabre images of graveyards and all other kinds of spooky shit being painted in my head. Jesse returns to join Whitney on Wholesale Failure, a furious anthem with more than its fair share of ‘fuck’s. ‘Everything’s so fucked it’s comical, Waking up’s a drag, And the worst parts that I know this isn’t even close, To how devastatingly bad everything is gonna get.’ The song has a really great ska-style breakdown – and I don’t just mean with horns – that I really wasn’t expecting. The tenth track, featuring a pun of the band’s own name in its title, is called Days N Daze Of Our Lives. The song is about someone who you thought was your friend but turns out to not be who you thought they were. It is angry and slightly offensive yet strangely feel-good. ‘You drive me crazy, You drive me to drink, I hope you drive your car off a cliff, You self obsessed asshole.’

Save A Life (ft. Joey Steel) is an anti-cop song – a protest song against all the police officers who have shot innocent people. ‘They don't serve and protect you, they'll kill and neglect you, to them their the boot you're the bug.’ The song has a great trumpet melody and also features a bit of that ska-influenced guitar that I loved in Wholesale Failure. Days N Daze pack so many words into the lyrics of their songs, especially considering most songs are less than 3 minutes long. I think this next song possibly has the highest word count of the album. Little Blue Pills Pt. 4 is a love song of sorts. ‘Love is just a breeze, In the middle of a hurricane, Restitch the timeline and I swear that we’d both go insane, Engaged to death got nothin’ left, But everything will be alright.’  The features yet another new instrument/sound, whistling, as well as a verse where Jess and Whitney sing slightly different lines at the same time. Is there anything they can’t do? World War 3 is the thirteenth track of Crustfall. Well, you can imagine the sort of subject matter of this song – riots around the world, cops killing innocent people, guns in schools. It’s scary but they’re not wrong. ‘The next world war is just around the corner, Blinded by the glitz and glam disease, Sirens wail the anthem of a generation frozen in apathy, You can’t just change the channel with the war at your doorstep.’

Anchor is a quieter track than many of its album mates (yes, I did just refer to a song as a ‘mate’). This is a harmonica and acoustic guitar driven sad song. Yet another different sound – not bad for the fourteenth track on the album. This song starts and ends with the same lines – ‘I got blacked out nights and tragic letters, Empty pockets distorted pleasures, This winters lasted years.’ There a lot of references to the fragility of life and death on Crustfall and that is very much the case for The Abliss. The song is about staying strong and above those negative mental feelings that you might have because there are people that care about you. ‘Life’s a minefield a treacherous road, Call me selfish but I don’t want to travel it alone, So burn the crutches and mend the bones, Cause we’ve still got so many miles to go.’ Finally we come to the album’s title track and album closer. It feels like Days N Daze give every last thing they’ve got with Crustfall – all of the instruments are there and both Whitney and Jesse are screaming their lungs out. Just when you think the song has ended, there is a surprisingly lovely musical breakdown before the final verse is sung more gently than before: ‘Well I know times running out, So before ya lay my body down, Before ya dress me up, Commit me to the ground, I wanna make sure that you know, I love you and thanks for putting up, With all my shit.’

Crustfall is available now from Sweater Weather Records and All We've Got Records and you can stream and download it from the band's Bandcamp, here. Also be sure to like Days N Daze on Facebook, here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Gig Review: Frank Turner’s Last Minutes & Lost Evenings, Sensible Sunday 14/5/17 (by Emma Prew)

The weekend of Friday 12th through to Monday 15th of May saw a new festival of sorts take place in Camden – a collaboration between OneFest, a not-for-profit organisation that supports talent development within the music industry, and Frank Turner. Last Minutes & Lost Evenings was a 4-day festival with events running throughout each day, culminating with a unique gig each night at the wonderful Roundhouse – headlined by Frank Turner, of course.

The first and last nights featured ‘Greatest Hits’ sets (which, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how that was any different from a standard Frank Turner show) while the Saturday saw Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls performing ‘Sleep Is For The Week’, Frank’s debut album, in full – as it has celebrated its 10th birthday this year. However it was the Sunday that we chose to attend (partly because Sunday is the only day/evening of the four that Colin gets off!), which had been dubbed ‘Sensible Sunday’ after the infamous Nambucca club night.

Sensible Sunday was a night of stripped back and acoustic music featuring a solo Frank Turner, rather than being accompanied by The Sleeping Souls. Alongside Frank, there were five acoustic-based support acts in the evening across two stages within the Roundhouse. But before the evening event kicked off, there was plenty happening in other locations around Camden as well. 

With a busy start to our Sunday before heading to London (On a slow ‘fast’ train with no seats! Why are trains so rubbish on Sundays?!), we didn’t make it to Camden until Last Minutes – the prequel to Lost Evenings – was well under way. Heading first to The Roundhouse, we arrived just before 4pm and caught the latter half of Sad Song Co.. Sad Song Co. is a musical project of Nigel Powell, better known for being the drummer of The Sleeping Souls – Frank’s band. I hesitate to call it a side-project as it’s really just a different music endeavour entirely and one that Nigel has been working on on-and-off for as long as, if not longer, than he’s been playing with Frank – over 10 years. Sad Song Co. was performing on the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust (more about that here) stage and it was packed out when we arrived. I personally couldn’t see the stage very well but I just about worked out that alongside Nigel, who played guitar and piano, there was a bass player. I’d not listened to Sad Song Co.’s music before but I soon discovered that the music was a sort of atmospheric indie rock. I wouldn’t say it was exactly my thing but it was great to see one of the members of The Sleeping Souls doing his own thing and clearly doing it well. Although he’s a fine drummer too, of course!

After Sad Song Co. we stuck around to watch the next artist. Until a day or so earlier, it was supposed to be The Lion And The Wolf gracing the NAMT stage at this time but he had to swap his slot for an earlier one to get a train to Manchester for a second gig. I must admit I was pretty gutted about this as I love hearing Tom’s beautiful yet melancholic music live, but I will be seeing him at the end of the month on the acoustic stage at Slam Dunk South anyway. The slot switcheroo meant that we would instead be checking out a brand new artist, which although risky could also end up being great – and that new artist was Harry Pane. With just an acoustic guitar in hand, he instantly drew me into his songs with a great sense of storytelling. His vocals, and even his guitar playing as well, initially reminded me of the more traditional English folk musician, Seth Lakeman – who ironically played the previous night of Lost Evenings. Although after a few songs I thought that Harry was more bluesy. Either way, he had a lot of talent and I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of his set.

We didn’t stay for quite all of Harry Pane’s set as I thought it would be a good idea to go and check out the other Last Minutes venue, The Hawley Arms, and see if we could catch a bit of Sean McGowan. Sean McGowan is one of those artists that I’ve heard good things about and know that I should check out… but hadn’t yet. So what better time to check him out! Unfortunately The Hawley Arms wasn’t a large venue, well it was a pub obviously, and the awkward layout of the second floor bar where the stage was set up meant that once the room was reasonably packed it was difficult to see. Not being able to see wouldn’t have been so bad if the sound was good but I have to say that that wasn’t all that great either. We could just about hear Sean’s vocals but the guitar wasn’t nearly loud enough. It was a shame for us but there were plenty of people closer to the stage that I’m sure loved Sean’s performance – we’ll just have to go and see him again as soon as we can!

Last Minutes, both at The Roundhouse and The Hawley Arms, finished around 6pm and then there was a half hour gap until doors opened (again) at The Roundhouse for the main event. We took this opportunity to go and grab some good ol’ Camden street food (word of advice: don’t go for the first Mexican place you see for a veggie burrito – they didn’t even wrap it in foil!). After filling our tummies and sheltering from a torrential downpour – it had been gloriously sunny all afternoon prior – we made our way back to the venue and joined the growing queue. As predominantly punk fans (Colin especially) we hate queuing – you don’t generally have to for punk shows, unless it’s like NOFX or something. There was a bit of a delay getting into The Roundhouse but we did at least manage to get inside in time to catch the first act of the evening over on the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust stage, Uri Sade. Uri Sade was not a name that either of us had heard of before and that wasn’t really a surprise when his set began and we realised his style of music was nothing like what we usually listen to – ie. not remotely punk. I don’t mean to say that I’m not willing to listen to something different, only that I might struggle to review it! What I will say is that Uri Sade had an amazing set of lungs with a voice to rival Matt Bellamy or Thom Yorke.

Soon it was time to set foot inside the main Roundhouse space, a stunning round (duh) room with plenty of floor space and a decently elevated stage, as well as a seated balcony. When I first got into going to gigs in London as a teenager (and generally went to see bigger bands than I do now), The Roundhouse was one of my favourite venues. Now I think it’s too big for my tastes but it’s still a wonderful space anyway. The Roundhouse also happens to be the venue in which I saw Frank Turner (and Chuck Ragan) for the first time so it was going to be special seeing him there again 7 years later. But before that, we had the two main supports to see and first up was Beans On Toast. Jay has been a close friend of Frank’s for a long time so for that reason alone it was no surprise to see him on the bill for Lost Evenings. But there is a more valid reason than that, Sensible Sundays originally took place at Nambucca, a pub in Holloway north London, where Jay lived, worked and played music – there was noone more perfect to play at the reimagined Sensible Sunday. Taking to the stage to much applause – after Koo Koo Kangaroo, American comedy duo come hosts for Lost Evenings, did their [weird] thing – Beans did a fine job of getting the crowd pumped up. He did the somewhat risky thing, particularly for a support act, of playing mostly new songs but it worked in his favour as they went down a storm. As well as playing songs, Beans shared stories of the Nambucca days including how he was on holiday in India when he got the call to say that the pub, and his home, was on fire. It was amazing to hear first hand. A particular highlight of Beans On Toast’s set was one of the new songs, a political number that was anti-May / pro-Corbyn – a view that was clearly agreed with by much of the crowd.

Beans On Toast was certainly a tough act to follow but the next artist gave it a damn good shot. Scott Hutchison is best known for being in Frightened Rabbit, an indie folk band from Scotland. Frightened Rabbit are actually a band that I’ve seen live before, several years ago supporting Biffy Clyro, but I can’t really remember them – at least I didn’t recall hating them though, eh? Scott obviously didn’t expect many people in the crowd to have heard of him or his band as he joked about it as soon as he mentioned the band name. However, I can safely say that I was surrounded by many people who did know the band as I heard them excitedly singing along. It was these enthusiastic fans that made me enjoy Scott’s performance all the more, especially as I didn’t know any of the songs myself. The melodic folky nature of the music was something that appealed to me as it reminded me of bands such as Band Of Horses, The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes – all of whom are bands that I love. Maybe Scott didn’t get quite the same enthusiasm from the whole crowd as Beans On Toast did but he did earn himself a new fan in me and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that night.

Koo Koo Kangaroo returned to the stage to attempt to get the crowd to play a heads or tails game that involved sitting down – taking a leaf out of Frank Turner’s book I think. Thankfully the game didn’t last long – no offence to the comedy duo but we definitely just wanted Mr Turner by this point of the evening. At last Frank took to the stage, looking quite small as a solo figure upon the Roundhouse stage especially as most are used to seeing him backed by The Sleeping Souls. In fact, he said that playing the Roundhouse that night was his largest solo show to date after Reading/Leeds festival. It didn’t take long for Frank to prove just why he was able to stand on the large stage alone, demanding and receiving attention from the crowd in equal measures. 

Like Beans On Toast, Frank chose to kick off his Sensible Sunday set with a new track – or at least a not-on-any-album-yet track. The Sand In The Gears was debuted at a US show in January and the live video of it has thousands of views, so it wasn’t entirely new for most of the Roundhouse audience but it was certainly new for the weekend in Camden. The lineCan't I just spend the next four years at a punk show?’ resonated pretty nicely with myself and Colin. If you haven’t heard the song – go listen now! After that we were treated to a variety of tracks from Frank’s whole back catalogue, including a lot of ‘B-sides’ such as Tattoos, Hold Your Tongue and a cover of The Weakerthans’ Plea From A Cat Named Virtute (note to self: must listen to The Weakerthans some more). The variety within the setlist was great – I imagine it would have been even more special had I been to the previous two nights as well – and we were also treated to a number of different versions of classic songs, stripped back for acoustic guitar.

If you attended Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls’ autumn 2015 tour then you may recall hearing the heart-wrenching rendition of Demons that was dedicated to Nick Alexander, who died in the Paris bombings days earlier. Nick was a friend of Frank’s and it was touching to hear him speak of Nick again and, of course, speak about the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust. The standout track for me, however, was one that came a few songs later, Heartless Bastard Mother****** a song I’ve never heard live before and don’t expect to again. It did a decent job of transporting me back to the first time I listen to Frank Turner some 10 years ago. We were quite lucky that it got missed off of the Sleep Is For The Week / Campfire Punk Rock setlist the night before really.

Generally I wouldn’t say that this set list contained too many of my favourite Frank Turner songs but it was great to hear some songs that I’d either forgotten about or never heard live before. I’ve been lucky enough to see Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls live 15 times now, including a couple of solo shows too, which means that I’m always gonna compare a Frank live show to those I’ve been to previously. This gig was special as the overarching Last Minutes And Lost Evenings was a wonderful thing but it wasn’t one of my favourite Frank Turner gigs. I’ve actually come to question whether 15 times is enough and if I should quit now while I’m ahead. But then Frank Turner will announce a new tour and I’ll probably be buying tickets as soon as they go on sale.

I can’t explain it, I just love Frank Turner.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Top Tens: Top Ten Bands That Colin Still Needs To See Live

Recently there was a game on Facebook where you had to name nine bands you've seen live and another that you hadn't and your friends had to guess which was the one you hadn't seen. I was far too cool to partake in such a game, I mean what kind of loser constantly lists ten things… hmmmm. Even more recently, Emma and I were talking with Robyn about bands we haven't seen live yet that we really wanted to. I've been very lucky in the past year to have seen many of the bands that I've wanted to for ages but never had the chance to before. I've also been very lucky with the amount of bands that I've wanted to see for a while that are playing UK shows in the next few months. That list includes the Descendents, The Planet Smashers, No Trigger and Flogging Molly. But there are still many more on the list - here's ten of them.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Growing up as a fan of ska punk in the 90s there were three big bands - Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, pioneers in the ska-punk genre since 1983! It's not very often that the band tour anywhere anymore ,let alone come over the UK. With such an impressive back catalogue of songs, the band can play anything they've written and a huge crowd of people would be so happy.

The Briggs

Way back in the early 2000s, Flogging Molly, the Street Dogs and The Briggs did a UK tour and swung by my local venue in Colchester, the Colchester Arts Centre. I had just started a new job and the gig clashed with one of my shifts. Being a young and conscientious worker I missed the gig and I've regretted it ever since. I've seen the Street Dogs a couple of times since and I'm seeing Flogging Molly next month but seeing The Briggs has always alluded me. This sucks as the band are one of the best street punk bands around and are responsible for so many of my favourite songs.

The Apers

The undisputed kings of European pop punk have been going since 1996 and have released a fantastic collection of albums and EPs during their long career. I've been a huge fan since hearing Almost Summer from the album The Buzz Electric back in 2003. The Apers are a band that are hugely underrated in the punk scene despite influencing a huge number of bands in Europe. If they've ever been to the UK since, I've sadly missed it but if they do find their way back to the UK, I will be there.

Hot Water Music

When Emma and I were having the original conversation with Robyn about bands we still haven't seen, Robyn was amazed that we had never seen Hot Water Music live. The Gainesville-based quartet are one of the most influential bands of their generation. Everything all four members have done, whether it be with Hot Water Music or any of their many side projects has been golden. Due to these multiple side projects, Hot Water Music is often placed on the backburner but the band are currently working on a new album so hopefully a UK tour is planned at some point around the album's release.

Dear Landlord

Dear Landlord are a pop punk supergroup from Minnesota and Illinois featuring members of Rivethead and The Copyrights. Anyone who loves the pop punk genre holds their album Dream Homes in the highest regard. It's fast paced midwestern pop punk that must be incredible live. I've seen so many incredible clips of Dear Landlord playing what look like amazing shows and I really want to be a part of that.

The Dopamines

This one was so close to happening. The Dopamines had a London show scheduled as a stop off on their way to play this year's Groezrock festival. Sadly they had to pull out of what would have been one of the shows of the year. The Dopamines, like Dear Landlord, are incredibly respected in the punk rock world and I can only imagine it would be a set of fists-in-the-air, sing-a-long punk rock mayhem.

The Vandals

The Vandals are one of the longest running bands in the world of punk rock. Forming in 1980, the four piece were at the forefront of the 1990s punk revival. Considering how long The Vandals have been around it seems absolutely insane that I'm yet to see them. Since releasing Hollywood Potato Chip in 2004 the band have toured sporadically, playing the odd show here and there but not playing many massive tours. They came to the UK in 2014 for Hevy Festival. They have yet to return. They need to return.

The Johnstones

I've mentioned before on Colin's Punk Rock World how obsessed I became with The Johnstones back in 2010, the summer I broke my leg and constantly listened to The Johnstones first two albums, Word Is Bond and Can't Be Trusted. Those albums kept me in a good place and never let my spirits drop. Since then they have released another album named Suck which is equally as awesome as their previous work. Sadly the members of The Johnstones are too busy working on other projects to dedicate too much time to the band but when they do get together it's always magic. When the band last toured the UK they got into trouble with the Millwall firm - I'm sure that's all forgotten now and we'd all welcome you crazy cats back!

Bomb The Music Industry

The last two bands on this list will most likely never happen, there is more chance of Bomb The Music Industry than the last band though. Punk rock superstar Jeff Rosenstock's former band had a very heavy emphasis on DIY punk rock ethics. This attitude, along with Jeff's exceptional songwriting and what I've seen on the You of Tube makes for some of the most enteraining live shows around. Watching the BtMI! documentary, Never Get Tired, really made me wish I could have seen the New Yorkers the first time around. But at least we still have Jeff Rosenstock's "solo" work.

Operation Ivy

This is a reunion that will never ever happen no matter how much the collective world of punk rock would love it to happen. Operation Ivy are one of if not the most important band in punk rock in the last thirty years, despite only being active between 1987 and 1989. They were one of the first bands to combine hardcore punk rock and ska and helped to define the Lookout Records era of San Francisco punk rock which spawned Green Day, American Steel, Screeching Weasel, The Mr T Experience and the Groovie Ghoulies. Of course Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman went on to form another of the most successful and most beloved bands in the punk rock, Rancid. If you managed to catch Operation Ivy in the two years that they were a band, you saw history created. You're so lucky!

Honourable mentions go to The Lillingtons, Ann Beretta, The Mr T Experience, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Slapstick, The Loved Ones…

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Album Review: Home by Primetime Failure (by Dan Peters)

A 90s kid handbook. A Disconnect Disconnect press release lands in my inbox and a smile hits my lips. I know that even if I’ve not heard of the band in question, these guys only associate themselves with great quality punk rock. The quality in this case is Primetime Failure. A band I know very little about other than the small blurb that accompanies the record. I’m promised, in a manner reminiscent of a Sega Megadrive advert, that my nineties skate punk prayers have been answered and I guess there’s only one way to find out whether I’m being lied to or not…

From the one note opening to the swift follow up drop I can feel the territory I’m in straight away. I’m immediately reminded of Fenix TX. Subject matter touching on revisiting old neighbourhoods, the bass breakdown in the middle eight, the ever so simple chord structure – everything here is specifically designed to set off a nostalgia trip, to a time when Jason Biggs was a star and All Star wasn’t just root of all memes. Luckily for Primetime Failure that is exactly the kind of teenager I was so it keeps me paying attention. Of course if you weren’t into the pulled up sports socks and ¾ length Dickies style of punk rock then there might not be a lot to keep you paying attention. I would say you’ll know for certain halfway through Home whether you’ll care to see this to the end.

The story here with every song is fairly similar. With every song selling so hard on that late 90s nostalgia nothing really finds a way to stand out from the rest of the tracks on the CD and indeed the rest of your collection. If you own some early Ataris, Fenix TX, Home Grown, Anti Freeze, Sum 41, Allister, Midtown etc. then you already know what you’re getting here. Primetime Failure aren’t going out of their way to be particularly original or veering from the formula. These guys are a band from Germany and over my many years of checking out bands I’ve noticed that European bands tend to be less interested in pushing the envelope musically and more interested in just playing music that sounds like the bands that they want to listen to. I spend five minutes looking through which shows are happening in their hometown and I can tell you that New Found Glory certainly aren’t passing through town anytime soon. Therefore if you love a certain style of band then you have to become that band.

This isn’t to say I think it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, I’m a firm believer in playing music that sounds like the stuff in your record collection. Every track is well produced and the guitar tones, vocal harmonies and sharp drums all mean that this will live proudly next to those Lit albums you got signed by AJ. If you love 90s pop punk and you’ve been jonesing for a new fix of exactly what you used to love then Primetime Failure have you covered. This is that great pop punk before all the bands got serious and grew fringes.

In conclusion, while not breaking any genre moulds Home by Primetime Failure is a fun, great sounding, well produced record that knows exactly who their target audience are – and they don’t really give a dried fig about anyone else.

Stream and download Home here:

Like Primetime Failure here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.