Friday, 30 June 2017

CPRW Playlist: June 2017

Here's what Dan, Emma, Lauren, Omar, Pan, Robyn, our new pal Richard and myself have been listening to in the month of June.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Top Tens: Josh from Hope In High Water and Anti-Vigilante's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Josh Chandler-Morris is one half of dark folk duo Hope In High Water (whose album I reviewed last week). You may also know him as the vocalist and saxophone player in ska punk band Anti-Vigilante. Here are his top ten punk rock influences.

1. Propagandhi

I think Propagandhi will always be the number one punk band for me. I don’t think any other band has managed to mix both huge riffs and the most eloquent lyrics quite so seamlessly as Propagandhi. 

They manage to educate with political lyrics that are both impassioned whilst also being incredibly well informed. When I was a teenager they put me on to authors like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and were fundamental in raising an awareness of issues I’d never thought about, whether it be gender, migration, or animal rights. At the same time, particularly on the later albums, they have an incredible way of mixing that with songs that discuss more personal topics in the most sincere and heartfelt ways. 

The song ‘Without Love’ will always be one of my favourite songs. I first heard it around the time I had lost one of my best friends to cancer and it described so much of what I was feeling so beautifully that for a long while I couldn’t listen to that song without crying. That’s when you know a song is special.

2. Sick Of It All

There’s going to have to be quite a few hardcore bands in this list. For me the godfathers of the genre will always be Sick Of It All. Anti Vigilante had the pleasure of playing on the same bill with them at Reading and Leeds in 2013 and I honestly don’t think there are any others bands that do what they do so well. The energy and enthusiasm for their craft consistently comes through and they are always able to put on a show of such intensity that it makes the younger, most energetic bands look idle.

That same power comes through in their music whether it be from their earlier recordings or later ones, their power is unmistakable. If you’re unsure of what I mean, go and listen to the song ‘Uprising Nation’ and prepare yourself to two step your way around your living room.

3. Justin Townes Earle

Punk Rock means lots of different things to different people and in musical terms Justin Townes Earle is definitely not a punk artist, but I think very few bands that I’ve seen over the years come close to his level of honesty, sincerity and uncompromising willingness to be exactly what he is. When starting Hope In High Water he was definitely my biggest influence, he showed me that country music when done right contains the same spirit and integrity as punk music. No-nonsense, honest and often pissed off. 

I think a lot of people have been confused by my move from a hardcore band to what I guess is folk/Americana but to me it makes me perfect sense, if you listen to artists such as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark they had the same ethic. They toured constantly, living hard lives and sang sincerely about them.

Country music in Nashville has certainly become a pop industry with endless celebrity aspiring artists singing songs with little to no substance but Justin Townes Earle seems to sit in the middle of it as popular as ever laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. 

4. Hot Water Music

Who doesn’t love Chuck Ragan and Hot Water Music? I remember hearing Hot Water Music for the first time and those gruff voices and falling in love, whilst also being slightly worried for his vocal health at the same time (little did I know I’d have my own nodule induced Chuck growl later in life). I think like the other acts for me it’s all about sincerity, when you hear Chuck and Chris screaming out those songs over one of the best rhythm sections in punk there is no way you could doubt the sincerity of what they’re singing. I think the fact that they have continued to go on and do other projects whilst always returning to Hot Water Music shows the genuine love they all have for it. 

I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Chuck Ragan playing under his own name and was enchanted by him as a man as well as an artist. There are countless stories on the internet of Chuck being the nicest man in music, giving away his boots to an admiring journalist and basically just being kind to everyone he comes across and my experience only confirms everything that is said in internet legend. I think this is really important. I have met bands throughout my time in music that are able to create amazing protest music endorsing a better world but on a basic one to one level have been disappointing as people. We all have our bad days and I know I’m capable of being miserable and bad company at times but I think when a band is truly living its message to the best of their ability then that’s a very special thing.  Hot Water Music have consistently done this.

5. Five Knuckle

There were a lot of bands from the British Punk scene that I wanted to put in: King Prawn, No Comply, Random Hand, The JB Conspiracy I love all those bands and all of them were a massive influence but I think Five Knuckle were the band that really showed me what was possible within the genre.

The album balance had bits that were straight up experimental, discordant, shouty and yet still infectiously catchy. Lyrically it really spoke to me. I remember buying a household name records sampler that had the song Not In My Name on it, which comes straight in with the lyric ‘I shy away from your flag, hard to relate to it’ and it instantly grabbed me. As a teenager I never felt comfortable with patriotism but found it hard to pin point what it was about it that made me uneasy and this song perfectly expressed it. Yet despite rejecting patriotism as a philosophy they always managed to really sum up the experience of someone living in the UK, it wasn’t like listening to Anti Flag or someone like that who discussed universal ideas but were very much talking about Bush and American issues, Five Knuckle always felt grittier and more relevant.

It also gave me a real appreciation for unconventional and seemingly less melodic styles of music, before Sick Of It All, Have Heart and Gorilla Biscuits, Five Knuckle gave me my introduction.

6. Jeremy Corbyn

This week I watched a man who for 34 years has consistently stuck to his principles with a complete disregard for the corporate and career driven politics that seems to engulf so many once moral people. He has defied his own party and the media, who created scandalous lies about him every day, with no effort made to create anything like a fair and democratic debate. 

Yet despite all this he managed to create such an inspirational movement that he only lost the election by a tiny margin and managed to significantly reduce the Tories power in Parliament. He has inspired young people to get involved in politics and has brought leftist, morality driven politics back into the mainstream.  If that’s not punk rock I don’t know what is.

7. Have Heart

Another band not really conventionally punk but with an incredible work ethic and diy attitude. To the point that even when they were on their last tour which for many is a bit of a half-hearted affair, Have Heart did a literal World Tour which seemed to go on for about 6 months.

I always liked how although on the surface they produced music that sounded really tough and could be seen to an outsider as quite a macho form of music, lyrically they sang about abstaining from promiscuous sex and the effects that our culture has on the self-image of women. In a scene where at times it can feel like a bunch of blokes beating their chests, I always admire hardcore bands that emote and question what it means to be a man.

8. Capdown

Being from Milton Keynes and playing saxophone in a skacore band, I couldn’t really leave this band out. As a kid I probably saw Capdown 20 times plus and later had the fortune of being able to support them on one of their comeback tours and drive for them on a couple of occasions.

They were totally original, pioneered the mixture of hardcore and ska that went on to influence all the bands that followed in our scene and remain one of the most exciting bands to watch when they come back to play shows every now and then.  Top blokes and one of the best exports the UK punk scene has ever had.

9. Bad Religion

In all honesty I haven’t listened to too much Bad Religion in the last few years but I can honestly say that without that band I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the genre in the way that I did.  I remember sitting in science class with my friend Craig singing Bad Religion and Nofx songs from start to finish and that being the start of Anti Vigilante.  When we should have been learning the periodic table we were busy drawing band logos (which were pretty awful to be honest).  Looking back Greg Graffin (Bad Religion singer) would have been pretty disappointed in our lack of scientific interest considering his PHD in evolutionary biology but I always look back really fondly at that time. 

I also know that if I put Process of Belief or No Control on the CD player I would still mosh my way round the room.  

10. The Skints

I’m aware that quite a few of the bands on here aren’t really punk bands but The Skints have their foundations in the punk scene and even now that comes through at points in their music.

I first played with The Skints in The Loaded Dog I think it was called, in Leytonstone when we were both young and completely unknown and I had the pleasure of touring a lot with them just as they were beginning to break out of the Punk scene and beyond. I don’t think I have ever watched a bands success with as much joy as I have The Skints. From the moment people began discovering them there was always a common consensus that they were a ridiculously talented set of musicians with an ability to draw on so many genres and influences that they created something totally unique and totally representative of where they are from. With a band like that you don’t ever doubt that they will get recognition, it’s more a question of when.

They have gone on to be credit to the UK scene and I continue to take so much pleasure in watching them grow both musically and in their success. Lovely people with amazing music.

You can find Hope In High Water on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Album Review: While We’re Young by Old Rivals (by Emma Prew)

If you are a regular reader of CPRW then you probably know that one of the ways we find some of our new favourite punk bands – often that we’ve never heard of before – is though the Discover feature on Bandcamp. It was through this feature, with the sub-genre of ‘folk punk’ selected, that I recently found a new band whose sound just clicked with me instantly. That band is Old Rivals, a four-piece from southern California. On Facebook they list their genre as pop punk but I would contradict that by labelling them more of an Americana-infused punk rock. They have two releases on their Bandcamp page, the most recent being a 6-track EP released in April of this year called While We’re Young. I immediately pushed it to the top of my review list.

The EP opens with a song of the same name, While We’re Young. Kicking off with a steady drumbeat, before the electric guitars and harmonica join the mix, Old Rivals have me hooked after the very first verse of their first song. The song is in parts nostalgic but it is also about the band’s way of life in general, being wayfarers of their hometown and simply living and breathing music. ‘Remember buying our first record, Playing it again over and over, We learnt more from a 3-minute record, Than we ever did in school.’ Music is life. The second song on While We’re Young is called The Darkness. It keeps up the pace and ensures that my head doesn’t stop nodding along. There is some more excellent harmonica (to be fair, any harmonica is excellent to me) at the start of this track before the vocals even start. This upbeat number also features Bree Fondacaro for alternating verses, as well as harmonies on the chorus. It’s nice to have softer country-style voice to compliment Mark De La Torre’s gruffer lead vocals and adds an extra element to the Old Rivals sound.

Are you thinking that it might be time for a slower-paced song now? Nope! Miles Away is as fast and foot-stomping-ly furious as the previous tracks. This is another affirmative song about trying to deal with being apart – miles apart – from someone that you care about in the best way possible. ‘When you’re miles and miles away, Keep me in your heart my friend.’ About two-thirds of the way through Mile Away, after a harmonica solo, there is a great big reverb-y guitar solo that I’d love to see played live. The next song begins where the last left off, with some big guitars that wouldn’t be out of place on a Gaslight Anthem record. And as The Gaslight Anthem, one of my favourite bands of all time, are no more for the foreseeable future, I am very happy to hear their likeness in a new band. Now Or Never is an excellent song about friendship and being there for someone no matter what. ‘I’ll tell you one thing, No matter where you go, I hope that you find what you’re looking for. When you’re tired and you’re weak, I’ll be right there to pick you up, You’ve always got a place to call your home…’

For You As Many Words is a song with a sadder tone than its predecessors. This sadness is conveyed in its slower pace with some stripped back acoustic guitars. Although this song is about a lost loved one and not being able to do anything to change that, it is also about thinking of them fondly and reflecting on the positive impact they had on your life. ‘And I can write a hundred thousand words, Still none of them will ever bring you back, And all I can do is remember those good times, Until then I see you when I die my friend.’ There is also quite a funky, yet subtle, bassline for the breakdown in the middle which was a bit of a surprise. The last song on While We’re Young is called Say You Won’t and it gives Old Rivals a chance to crank the volume up once more for a fists-in-the-air style Americana-punk anthem. Say You Won’t is about seizing the day and enjoying each moment. This definitely ends the EP on a more positive note after the sombreness of the previous track (not that there’s anything wrong with sad songs). The line ‘Take it or leave it, What are you gonna do now?’ seems like a fine way to end the song and indeed the EP.

I was highly impressed by While We’re Young, especially having never heard of Old Rivals before. They’ve recently played with the likes of Spanish Love Songs and The Penske File, who are both favourites of ours at CPRW, and are hopefully on track to bigger and better things. It might be a bit much for me to hope they visit us over this side of the pond but perhaps I will catch them at a future Fest? 

You can stream and download While We’re Young here (it’s also on Spotify) and find Old Rivals on Facebook here, where they list their influences as Against Me!, Bouncing Souls, The Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music, Tom Petty, Rancid and Bruce Springsteen  – what’s not to like? (They also mention Bob Dylan but I’m not so fussed on him. 7 out of 8 ain’t bad.)

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Album Review: Dorkmanteau by Sixteen Scandals

Sometimes you want an album to be great purely because of its title. I mean if a band can title an album as brilliantly as Dorkmanteau then they must be able to write some brilliant songs, right? I was about to find out as Dorkmanteau is the brand new EP from Canadian three piece Sixteen Scandals.

The opening track on the five song EP is named Traffuck. There's a lot of pressure on this track as I've never heard a single note from the band and if I don't like this then I might scrap doing this whole review. Obviously that didn't happen, you know that because you're reading this review. Traffuck did take me a bit by surprise though, I was expecting more of a punk sound but this definitely has more of an alternative indie rock sound. It's a humorous song that laments people who walk, what you deem to be, too slowly in front of you. We've all been there and it is really annoying. Thank goodness somebody has finally written a song about it.

Next up is Diffriends. I loved this song immediately. Switching to more of a slow tempo pop punk sound, Diffriends is about seeing your friend fall into a bad group of friends who appear to be fake. Vocalist Zazoo Pittz's voice sounds on top form here - it's a dirty pop style that fits perfectly with the simple guitar and drum structure of the song. Less is more in a brilliant way here. Superb. Flawsophy is the name of the third track. It's a slightly harder hitting track with more venom in Pittz's vocal and the rest of the band throwing in backing vocals to give the song a fuller sound as well. Flawsophy is about questioning people's philosophies and trying to compromise on differences.

The penultimate track is called Tweetheart. On my first listen of this song I couldn't help but smile the entire way through. This also happened on the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth (you get the point) times. It's just the sweetest song. Tweethearts is about being in love with someone who is a bit of dork but loving them anyway. It's a slow paced track where Pittz voice does a fantastic job of carrying the melody whilst the music simply serves as a pleasant backing track. The entire song is jam packed with the sweetest lyrics. Seriously if you don't smile away blissfully listening to this song then you might be slightly dead inside. Last up is Adolessons. After the slowness of Tweethearts, Adolessons starts with a crash. The crash of drummer Dave Skrtich's cymbals to be precise. This is a faster paced track similar to Flawsophy. You might have guessed from its title that Adolessons is about the lesson you learn as a youth. This is a perfect song to finish off the EP, there is a great feel of positivity about the song and the advice given in the song makes me think "yeah Sixteen Scandals, you are right, excellent advice!" At 31 years old, I'm not even a youth. I wish I had this song fifteen years ago!

There are a lot of things I really loved on Dorkmanteau. Firstly the song titles are genius. All of them, if you haven't already noticed are portmanteaus. I like little geeky things like that. Musically, which I suppose is the most important thing, it's a solid record. To be honest I did enjoy opener Traffuck but it is a little shaky compared to the following four song - all of which are ace. Picking EPs based on witty titles is a solid way of choosing music to listen to!

Stream and download Dorkmanteau here:

Like Sixteen Scandals here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Gig Review: The Bouncing Souls at The Dome 22/6/17

June has been an awesome month for seeing some of my all time favourite bands - Descendents, Iron Chic, [Spunge] and now The Bouncing Souls! New Jersey's finest were back in London less than a year after a fantastic show at The Camden Underworld last August. It's cool when a big American band comes to the UK and brings along an up and coming American band with them. However, I think it's even cooler when the big American band decides to take a couple of the UK's great underground bands on tour with them. This was the case on the Souls tour as Great Cynics and Hot Mass (a replacement for Grand Collapse) would be along for the party. The London show of the tour would be taking place at The Dome in Tufnell Park, a venue neither Emma or myself are big fans of but with this line-up it was sure to be a great night!

First up on The Dome's stage, which felt massive, were Swansea's Hot Mass. When they took to the stage I was slightly confused as there was only three of them and last time I saw them supporting The Menzingers I was pretty sure that there were four members of the band. I double checked this with Emma and she confirmed this. Hot Mass addressed this during their set by saying that the other guitarists couldn't make the tour. Thankfully the lack of a member didn't make too much difference (though I'm sure he's a vital cog for the band when he is there) as Hot Mass played a storming set that comprised of songs from last year's excellent Nervous Tensions album. Their no thrills, grungey punk rock style translates brilliantly to the live setting. It's always great to see a band that puts all that they have into a performance and Hot Mass certainly did that. I've seen them twice now, both at fairly big venues for a small band. I'd love to see them playing their own show in a small, sweaty pub. I imagine that would be great fun.

Up next were Deptford High Street's Great Cynics. I've seen the band many times over the years now but this was by far the biggest stage I've seen them on. I was very intrigued to see how they would take to it. Of course, they took to it with an ease and coolness that you would expect from a band that has been around for a long time now. To be honest it's a wonder that I hadn't seen them play a stage this size before. If there was some justice in the world, they'd be playing more shows to crowds as big as the one that had gathered at the Dome. One thing I always enjoy about watching Great Cynics play live is the sheer amount of joy that the band display on stage. It's clear that there is no place that Giles, Bob or Oli would rather be. Three best mates playing music that they love together. And what great music it always is. As I mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of The Dome as a venue, mostly because I've always thought the sound and the acoustics are poor, it sounds strange and kinda dumb but it sometimes feels too loud. The bass and drums can often drown out the guitar. Emma and I both said that this was the loudest we had ever heard Great Cynics sound. I think that if I wasn't already familiar with the band's music I might have struggled to get into them, but that obviously wasn't the case and I loved every song that was played. Like at their album launch show back in April, the set was finished with a cover of Cornershop's Brimful Of Asher which went down magnificently with the crowd.

After two great sets from two great UK bands it was time for one of the greatest punk bands ever. The Bouncing Souls have been going strong since 1989 and in that time have become one of the most beloved bands in the world. Looking around The Dome there were plenty of old school punk rockers and a good amount of people who weren't even alive when the Souls formed. When the band took to the stage it didn't matter if you were young or old, you were a Bouncing Souls fan and you were about to have the best hour and a bit of your week. Starting out, of course, with Sing Along Forever - a perfect song to start off a set with - the Dome began to enthusiastic sing along with the band. The line "Gimme A Reason To Care, I'll Sing Along Forever" brings the whole crowd together as one. I get a sense that any problems the good folk in the Dome have in their everyday lives were forgotten and it was time to smile and have the best time. Greg, Pete, Bryan and George powered through song after song, every single one getting massive reactions. Over the past twenty eight years, they have written so many songs that are considered classics - so many that it's easy to forget just how many they have! The band have this incredible ability to write really simple songs that can change your entire outlook on life. For every song that inspires there are also plenty of songs are a bit silly but the most amount of fun. Songs such as I Like Your Mom and East Coast Fuck You get as big a reaction as Lean On Sheena and Kids And Heroes. Of course the biggest reactions are from the three big hitters from How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Manthem, Gone and True Believers. There's always such a strong positive vibe around The Bouncing Souls whenever they play live. It carries from the stage into the crowd and just doesn't stop. When the band stop the good times roll out of The Dome and spread round the rest of London. Every single person left The Dome feeling on top of the world, feeling like a True Believer.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Album Review: Two T's EP by Garrett Dale

On the 26th of May, Red Scare Industries and Garrett Dale sprang a little bit of a surprise on the punk rock community with the release of the Red City Radio frontman's debut EP, Two T's. Being a Red City Radio fan, particularly of Dale's soulful vocal, I was equal parts excited and intrigued to check out the release.

Two T's EP begins with the song 2016 Was… and, expecting a bit of an acoustic foot stomper, I was slightly taken aback by the soft acoustics that open the song up. I was even more surprised when some brass was introduced to the proceedings. Garrett's voice is of course superb, it's as soulful as ever and there is such warmth to it. The track is about the terrible year that 2016 was and realising that "everybody gets fucked once in a while." This is one of those brilliant cathartic songs that is fantastic for getting you through a terrible time. The second track is titled House Full Of Dogs. Another soft, soulful track that I can imagine silencing an entire room when it's played live. There is a nice lounge music vibe to the track with some great piano and a saxophone solo adding to the song. I feel like I'm in a jazz club and I'm loving it. That's not a sentence I ever thought I'd say. Lastly we have Down The Rabbit Hole. What a heartbreaker this song is! It's been a long time since I heard a guitar played so tenderly and when Garrett's vocal comes in you know immediately things are about to get emotional. There are times when you really expect the track to burst into life but those times it hits a slight peak and falls back into the familiar pattern. This less is more approach only helps add to the emotion of the song.

Like I said, I was expecting more of an acoustic punk rock foot stomper of a EP from the Red City Radio man. This is not what we got. What we got was a beautifully played, emotional and moving piece of country and alternative pop music. It definitely took me out of my normal comfort zone with regards to what I'd normally listen to but once I got in the groove I found three brilliantly written songs by a very talented man from Oklahoma.

Stream and download Two T's EP here:

Like Garret Dale here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gig Review: PUP at Spirit, Pittsburgh 13/6/17 (by Lauren Stein)

I like going to all kinds of shows. Six bands, starts at 6pm at Roboto? Sure. Four bands, starts at 10pm at Gooski’s? Iʻll be there. All day music festivals? Count me in. Iʻm typically down for whatever. But now, at my advanced age (said only slightly tongue-in-cheek), I hold a special place in my heart for the two band early start show. On a Tuesday night after a rough weekend, this was exactly what I was looking forward to: two killer bands, minimal downtime, and a chance to be home by a reasonable hour.

I was clearly not the only one who thought this way, as an eager group of fans was waiting outside Spirit for the doors to open at 7:00 pm, and shortly afterwards the area directly in front of the stage immediately filled up. All-ages shows shows are pretty hard to come by, but a quick glance at the crowd showed that many youngins were taking advantage of this opportunity. Antiquated Pennsylvania liquor laws meant that drinkers were sequestered to a roped-off area in the back, but itʻs good to see the younger generation coming out in full force.

First up for the night was Charly Bliss, a four piece indie rock band from Brooklyn. They are touring in support of their album Guppy, which was just released in April and is a must listen. Their sound is a mix between bubblegum pop and grungy rock, which sounds weird but works remarkable well. On the album and on stage, singer and guitarist Eva Hendricks steals the show. Her voice, with occasional endearing squeaks, perfectly complements her lyrics, which typically revolve around the themes of youth and growing up. The other band members are solid as well: the music works well here, always accompanying the vocals and never overshadowing them.

Eva Hendricks of Charly Bliss. Photo by Joseph Craft.

Listening to Charly Bliss is like thinking back to your teenage years, that fuzzy reminiscence punctuated by the occasional memory that sticks out strongly. At one point in the set, when introducing the song DQ, Hendricks asked the crowd, “Has anyone here ever peed on a trampoline? Has anyone here ever been dumped on their birthday? I have!” The lyrics are not necessarily the deepest or the most poetic, but they feel incredibly familiar. Itʻs fun, itʻs quirky, itʻs real fucking life.

Charly Bliss - Black Hole (live 6/13/17)

The set included a number of stand-out tracks from Guppy, including “Westermarck” (which they just released a music video for), “Black Hole,” “Glitter,” and a new song “Heaven” (declared by Hendricks to be the first Charly Bliss love song). For the final song Hendricks put down her guitar and raged along to the music, bouncing about the stage, head banging, flailing around for a minute or two before picking up the mic to start singing. It was impressive as hell and a fitting way to end.

We barely had a chance to rest from the amazingness that we just witnessed before PUP took the stage. These guys from Toronto are one of my favorite newer bands: their music is catchy and intense, their lyrics are clever, and they always put on a crazy show. The crowd got moving right away as they launched into their set with “Doubts,” and things stayed moving the whole night long. It’s been less than a year since PUP was here last (a sold-out show at Cattivo in November), but the crowd was as enthusiastic as ever.

After a few songs the guys took a break to introduce the band and make the obligatory Canadian hockey joke: “We come from the full-time home of the Stanley Cup” — a reference to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent victory, which led a member of the crowd to note their drummer’s uncanny resemblance to Penguins forward Phil Kessel.

Does this man look like a two-time Stanley Cup champion? He doesn’t think so.

Hockey aside, they jumped right back into it with songs two songs from their self-titled first album, “Guilt Trip” and “Dark Days.” By the time they reached the midpoint of their set with “Reservoir,” the crowd was going absolutely crazy, with crowd surfers constantly being thrown on stage and diving right back into the madness. The band noted how nice it was to play a crowd that was so enthusiastic despite a number of weird tracks and deep cuts being thrown into the mix.

As the night wound down, lead singer Stefan Babcock explained that he thought encores were stupid, and as such the band would not be playing one. Instead, they would close out their set with two final songs, the opening tracks to their most recent album, last year’s The Dream Is Over. The night ended on a high note, with the pit raging and a couple even getting engaged. After PUP put down their guitars, the crowd stumbled out, somewhat disoriented by the chaos and sauna-like heat, but wholly satisfied.

PUP - If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will / DVP (live 6/13/17)

And I was in bed by 11. Canʻt argue with that.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Column: Level Up Festival 2017 Preview

Earlier this year an event was announced that made me go "WOW!" That event was Level Up Festival and it would be taking place over the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of July at The New Cross Inn in London. Promoters Be Sharp Promotions, El Topo Bookings and Fishlock Promotions were working together to put on one of the most amazing ska-punk festivals that the UK has ever seen. Some of the best up and coming ska punk bands would be joining up with some veterans and legends from the UK scene, plus to top off what's sure to be a fantastic weekend Boston's Big D and the Kids Table would be headlining the festival's final day. We're very excited for Level Up Festival, here's a day by day break down of what we're looking forward to.

The festival starts on Friday the 21st of July. To ease everyone in its only a half day unlike the Saturday and Sunday which are all day affairs. Headlined by UK Skacore heroes The Filaments, I'm stoked just to see them so everything else is definitely a bonus. The other band that really stands out on the Friday night is The Foamers. The Foamers, like The Filaments, come from the punk and ska heyday of the late 90s early 2000s. I've never seen them live so it will be another of the bands from my favourite era of punk and ska that I can cross off of my list. I was hoping to see Jakal earlier in the year at Manchester Punk Festival, sadly that didn't happen so I'm thankful to get another chance at Level Up. Playing a mix of punk, ska, reggae and dub, Jakal are sure to get the crowd dancing. Luvdump and Atterkop complete the Friday line up. Both bands play a hardcore/punk/ska style with some politically charged lyrics. The Friday night is only a five band affair, but what a way to get the whole weekend started!

The legendary King Prawn headline the second day of the festival. Since reforming a few years ago the London based band have been popping up all other the place with small tours and festival appearances - and they never disappoint. Word on the street is that they have been working away on a new album, hopefully some new tunes will emerge alongside the old favourites. The Popes Of Chillitown are among the very best of the current crop of UK ska bands. Having seen the band a number of times over the past few years I know just how good they are, never failing to get me dancing along with their high energy ska punk assault. On a (presumably) sunny July evening, it's a sure bet that everyone watching the Popes set will be drenched in sweat by the time they finish. Captain Accident & The Disasters offer up some perfect summertime reggae tunes. If you need a band to help a crowd chill out amongst the frantic skank madness then Captain Accident & The Disasters are the band for you. Belgian skacore act The Dancing Morons are a band that are new to me but after checking them out on Spotify I'm instantly impressed. There is a fantastic intensity to their sound accompanied expertly with some of the best horns around. China Shop Bull have one of the most unique sounds of all the bands playing at New Cross. Combining electronic and hip hop with a ska punk style, it's always refreshing to hear a band take a style and try to shake things up somewhat. Bandits, Ill Gotten Gains and Lead Shot Hazard all take a different approaches to the ska genre. Bandits are a fast paced band that combing ska punk with hip hop, Ill Gotten Gains are more of a straight forward punk rock band with ska tendancies and Lead Shot Hazard are a horn driven band. All three bands are great so make sure you get down to the New Cross Inn nice and early with your dancing shoes on.

Who better to close out a DIY ska fest than the amazing Big D and the Kids Table. The band's mantra of built up from nothing really shows that the band have never forgotten their old DIY roots and are a big success story of the ska punk scene all over the world. Last playing in London at the Camden Underworld, getting Big D down to New Cross is a big achievement for Level Up Fest and Big D will close the festival in some style. The JB Conspiracy are one of the most beloved ska punk bands in the UK scene. It feels like they've been around forever now but are still consistently amazing. Never afraid to try new things whilst staying true to their trademark sound, JB have built up a reputation for not only having the best songs but being one of the best live bands around. There aren't many better horn sections anywhere in the ska punk world. The band I got most excited for when the full line up was Level Up was announced was French band P.O. Box. P.O. Box are a band I've followed for years but for some reason I've never been able to catch live. This political punk with horns is simply sensational, if you don't know these guys you will soon be big fans. Another European band coming over for Level Up are Jungleproof. I really enjoy the mixture of melodic skate punk and ska rhythms that Jungleproof have created. Another band I've never heard before but am really looking forward to checking out. Tree House Fire are the band that will bring the reggae vibe to New Cross on the Sunday. Something I love about the Level Up line up is the amount of variation on the ska punk genre that is on display. There is something for everyone here. Just Say Nay, Call Me Malcolm and The Pisdicables are staples of the Be Sharp ska scene. Any time Be Sharp put on a show I'm sure at least one of these bands are playing it! Three of the fastest rising bands from the newest crop of ska acts rising up in the scene, getting this chance to play with an act as well known worldwide as Big D is a massive opportunity for the bands to find some new fans. I've been lucky enough to catch Call Me Malcolm live before and I'm really looking forward to getting down to New Cross Early to see Just Say Nay and The Pisdicables as well. You should too!

Level Up Festival is really shaping up to be an incredibly, if not a little exhausting, weekend. People have been saying that ska is dead for years, it's clearly not. In fact it might be stronger than ever. If you have any doubts about how popular ska still is in the UK scene get yourself along to the New Cross Inn in July and come skank your night away with us.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Top Tens: The Run Up's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Here are The Run Up's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences!

Charlie (Guitar):

Latterman – A perfect combination of great catchy songs with intelligent, relevant messages within the songs. Tackling song topics that weren’t so conventional in punk. Also Phil Douglas is a genius and I love pretty much anything he works on.

The Flatliners – I loved every single piece of music they put out, still to this day one of my favorite bands, Chris Cresswell's vocals are just incredible and he is probably my favorite singer. It's cool to see a band who you think are super talented alter their sound and pull it off super well.

Dan (Bass):

Early Offspring and Green Day – it's what made me want to be in a band!

Rob (Drums):

Alkaline Trio as a main band influence, but I've also been raging on the latest Menzingers record, particularly whilst we've been recording recently.

Larry (Vocals):

Lost pets and lost friends. Also people like Colin that are out there doing what they love and being a great figure in the punk scene!

Nick (Guitar):

Single coil pickups – learning to appreciate them gave me a whole new appreciation of guitar music!

Uberyou, from Switzerland – such a good band and a great bunch of dudes, the amount of passion they put into their live shows is massive influence for me. And we're lucky enough to be touring with them in the summer!

Check out The Run Up here:

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Album Review: Project 313 by The Lillingtons (by Robyn Pierce)

Huzzah! The Lillingtons are back in action with a brand new EP, Project 313, released on 9 June via Red Scare. This Ramones-channelling four-piece from Newcastle, Wyoming haven’t had a major release since 2006 and they’re easily one of the best pop-punk bands in the scene, so I was really stoked to check out their new material – even if it is just four (sob) short tracks.

The opening track, ‘Under the Sun’, wastes no time getting your toes tapping and your hips swaying with some bright guitar tone and a catchy hook. The lyrics are a little dark, with the verses lamenting how “it’s been raining everyday” and how the band would like to “wish it all away”, but the chorus is hopeful – looking to the sunshine that is sure to come. This soon leads into ‘Rubber Room’, which is such a hilariously happy and fun song that I honestly can’t get enough of it. It’s essentially a daydream about finally giving in, going insane and getting to live in your own rubber room – and how fantastic this would be. The entire song has a gleeful, manic energy and is really like a trip to the rubber room in itself – a slightly bonkers escape from daily pressures and anxieties. It reminds me a little of Direct Hit’s ‘Paid in Brains’, but it is absolutely a quintessential Lillingtons’ song. In ‘Project 313’, the Lillingtons offer a return to the familiar realm of science fiction with a song about being stranded on a rocket. It’s short and sweet, despite being a midtempo track with a quite a gloomy theme. ‘It’s On’ rounds off the EP brilliantly by adding a dash of perfectly coiffed hair metal to the Lillingtons’ sound. It’s about a femme fatale – an alluring and dangerous woman who, the band warns us, is ‘the devil’s child’. The driving guitar here will get your body rocking, and the slight fuzziness in Kody’s vocals really works.

I’m fairly certain that it’s physically impossible not to hit replay once you get to the end of ‘Project 313’. With less than 10 minutes of music, it’s tough not to feel slightly starved and gagging for more once you get to the end of its four outstanding tracks. I can loop this EP almost infinitely, so I definitely recommend giving it a listen.

Stream and download Project 313 here:

Like The Lillingtons here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Album Review: Life Is Good by Flogging Molly (by Emma Prew)

At the end of the this month Colin and I will be going to see Los Angeles’ infamous Celtic punks, Flogging Molly, at the Kentish Town Forum. It will be Colin’s first time seeing the band live and my first time seeing them headline their own tour (I saw them support Frank Turner in 2014). On 2nd of June this year Flogging Molly released their sixth album, Life Is Good, their first album in six years. As a folk fan, a punk fan and, most of all, a folk punk fan, I was keen to share my thoughts on the album.

Life Is Good opens with There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1. The song begins with gentle guitar and the classic Flogging Molly fiddle soon joins the mix. The song builds gradually which is probably what you’d expect from the first song on the album. It’s a short song as Flogging Molly songs go but that’s okay. Within the lyrics there are references to the devil which I think is fairly common in traditional Celtic music. ‘Here we are now, Here we are now.’ The devil has spoken and he’s not very bright.’ Next up is The Hand of John L. Sullivan with a tin whistle start to rival The Pogues (I love the Pogues). In fact, much of the song sounds like a homage to The Pogues. John L. Sullivan was a boxer in 1880s Boston and was deemed to be the first heavyweight champion of the sport. I love how Flogging Molly often have historical aspects to their songs. This is an upbeat and bouncy track that will definitely go down a storm at any Flogging Molly Live show. ‘Now I am the man with the plan to shake the hand of John L. Sullivan, A fighter till the end, legend he will be.’

Welcome To Adamstown is a song about the ‘new town’ south of Dublin, Ireland, that generally has negative connotations. However, the band try to put a positive spin on it with the message that you should respect where you’re from. This is another dancey track that I can almost imagine doing a can-can style dance to! It sounds like there’s a saxophone, trumpet or something being used for the main and super catchy melody but I think it must be the accordion – I can’t imagine a saxophone in Flogging Molly anyway. But perhaps that the point, they wanted to do something different. ‘Things are not all as they seem, In this rundown suburban dream, Tiger may have lost its roar, We will never lose our soul.’ Next up is Reptiles (We Woke Up), a song that begins slowly with acoustic guitar. It almost sounds like it could be used in a movie or as part of a stage show. Flogging Molly the musical, anyone? ‘For once in this life, Let's' just make these wrongs right and then, Seize the day, We woke up!’ After ‘we woke up’, drums and fiddle kick in. There’s a great sense of building in this anthem of a song. 

Bassist Nathen takes over from frontman Dave for the lead vocals of Days We’ve Yet To Meet. This song features a catchy fiddle intro that I love. The message Flogging Molly are trying to get across here is that if today is a bad day then don’t worry because tomorrow might be better. ‘For it’s tomorrow and the days we’ve yet to meet…’  The bridge – ‘Lai, ladi ladi lai, dai dai dai, lai lai lai lai dai dai’ – echoes the fiddle part. It is, of course, super catchy and very Celtic-sounding. After Days We’ve Yet To Meet we come to the album’s title track, Life Is Good. Slightly mournful fiddle and whistle open the song. There is a great swaying motion to the track which is helped by the bass. An upbeat lead into the chorus has you nodding along. ‘Life is good, Life is fine, Life is everything we loathe, It’s so unkind. Death is cruel, Death unwinds, It comes naturally to all us here alive. She said take these words, Sing along…’ Life Is Good is about not only the good points but the bad too of life (and death).This a standout track on the album for sure.

As we enter the second half of Life Is Good we have The Last Serenade (Sailors and Fishermen), a song that, unsurprisingly, brings about images of the sea. This is one of the slowest songs on the album. It is fairly sad sounding but is also very atmospheric. The Last Serenade is a tribute to sailors and fishermen lost at sea. ‘So goodbye to you dreamers, Vagabonds and true believers, Long may you sing once again.’ Picking up the pace a little is The Guns Of Jericho. This song has a typical bright and zesty Flogging Molly sound. The song starts relatively slowly but the pace picks up nicely about half way through this 4 minute song as the drums properly kick in. I can almost imagine doing an Irish jig to the fiddle part towards the end!

I first listened to Life Is Good whilst at work, with my headphones in. That’s never really a good situation to be able to give a new album your utmost attention and most of the album did pass me by. Crushed (Hostile Nations), however, grabbed my attention and claimed its spot as my favourite from my very first listen. It’s the kick-in-the-face crank-up-the-volume track of the album and appeals most to my punk sensibilities. It does start fairly quietly, almost like a sea shanty with minimal music backing Dave’s vocals. But as the song gets going it reveals a super duper catchy melody that definitely brings to mind pirates. This is the loudest song on the album and it even features an impressive electric guitar solo. I love it. I hope they play it live at the Forum. The tenth track on Life Is Good is simply titled Hope. The song begins with slightly muted distorted guitar before the song gradually builds in volume. As the volume builds so does the hopefulness. This is an optimistic and positive song which does feel like a bit of a rarity lately. ‘I said hope is still a shout away, A shout away, Like it was yesterday, I said hope is still a shout away, A shout away, In a way we shout once more.’  The chorus is sung by more than just Dave by its second run through which improves the impact.

Drawing towards the end of the album, The Bride Wore Black is the penultimate track. This is a feel-good song about an independent woman who doesn’t always do things by the book. The song kicks off with fiddle which is accompanied by pounding drums. The Bride Wore Black has a decent pace and is another bouncy, danceable number. It’s also fairly rocking with electric guitar at points. Until We Meet Again is the final song on Life Is Good. Even the title sounds like an album closer! This song begins with muted electric guitar before this is switched to acoustic guitar. I feel like this song has a great sense of Johnny Cash about it, particularly in the lyrics and the way in which Dave sings them. There’s a super folky Celtic accordion / fiddle part that encourages you to use your dancing shoes one last time – although there’s no need to go too crazy, this is a fairly slow song. ‘Until, Until we meet again, I’ll drown in my own hell, To take back all I’ve said, Until we meet again.’

This album is really a lot more folk than punk but I have absolutely no problem with that and longtime Flogging Molly fans shouldn’t either. I definitely enjoyed this album but I think I’ll like the songs even more once I’ve heard them played live – good thing I don’t have long to wait!

Life Is Good is out now on Spinefarm Records and Vanguard Records and you can download / stream it in the usual places. Also, find Flogging Molly on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Album Review: Never Settle by Hope In High Water (by Emma Prew)

Hope In High Water are a dark and raw folk duo from Milton Keynes. Their unique sound combines elements of Americana, blues, country, English folk music and even hints of soul. That combination might have you questioning why such a band is being reviewed on Colin’s ‘Punk Rock’ World but both members of Hope In High Water spent time in the punk scene prior to coming together as a musical duo (sorry if that sounds like jail time!). Josh Chandler-Morris used to be the vocalist and sax player in one of Colin’s favourite UK ska punk bands, Anti-Vigilante, while Carly Slade played bass and sang backing vocals in Hackney-based Trashcat. Upon first listen, Hope In High Water sound nothing like their previous bands but there is no denying that without their punk roots they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Never Settle is Hope In High Water’s debut album, featuring songs that they have written and perfected playing live over the course of the last few years. The album was recorded by Luke Yates, of Crazy Arm and The Human Project, who also plays violin on the album. Hope In High Water were also joined by Josh’s old bandmate, Darren Capp, on drums. Having heard the duo play several of these songs live, I was very much looking forward to hearing them – plus more – with a fuller sound. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The album begins with a song called Time Shall Pass. It is a quiet and soothing start with a gentle acoustic guitar and banjo led intro before Josh’s vocals and a drum roll kicks in. Time Shall Pass is a heartfelt track about how it is sometimes better to feel pain for a time than feeling regret forever. ‘I would rather hurt 1000 times, Than regret leaving you behind.’ A suitable introduction to Never Settle. Next up is Bored Of Just Getting By. There are no drums on this song but the guitar playing sets the rhythm. It’s a little louder than the first track but still does its job of easing the listener in. The song features duel vocals from the outset and show for the first time on Never Settle just how perfectly matched Josh and Carly’s voices are. Josh’s voice is more prominent but the song definitely wouldn’t be half as lovely without Carly in the background. This song is about trying to enjoy life and not take each day for granted, even if it seems a struggle sometimes. ‘Maybe we’ll feel alive, Just for tonight.’ / ‘Am I foolish if I believe?’

A video for Four Strange Walls was released to coincide with the release of the album and features Josh and Carly wandering through a forest. It’s visually as beautiful as the song itself and I highly recommend giving it a watch (here) and being as mesmerised as I was. This song has a very much bluesy feel to it with a wonderful swinging motion to Carly’s banjo playing. The lyrics speak of struggles with alcohol addiction – ‘Lost myself to the bottle’ / ‘I was young, I was stupid…’ . It is a powerful song despite its despairing lyrics about dealing with inner demons. Carly’s vocals are amazing – and that’s coming from someone who until the last few years or so couldn’t get on with female vocalists (I know, I know that’s terrible). After Four Strange Walls, Josh takes back vocal duties for Pictures. His vocals are accompanied by some lovely finger picked acoustic guitar. Pictures is a song about wanting to be alone when dealing with the loss of a loved one. ‘Put your pictures in a frame, Hang them on the wall and forget the pain’. The melancholic violin in the middle and at the end of the song adds an extra element to the band’s sound – I’d love to see Luke join Josh and Carly at a future Hope In High Water gig, fingers crossed. (If he brings Crazy Arm along too I wouldn’t complain either!)

The fifth song, Who’s Gonna Hold Your Hand, is one the handful of songs on Never Settle that I’ve heard before, both live and on the EP that they released last year. This version of the song has been given a new lease of life compared to the live version by adding in drums and percussion which gives the song a much bigger sound. There’s more of those bluesy feels in the vocals and the rolling banjo rhythm properly gets your head nodding. It also makes me want to pick up the dusty banjo at my parents’ house that I bought several years ago but never learn how to play. One of my favourites on Never Settle, for sure. Next up is Angels In Heaven, another song that I’ve heard live a few times – in fact, the first time I heard it I was convinced that I’d heard it before. It turns out that I have heard it before, somewhere, because it’s a traditional song (Tom Waits did a version so maybe I’ve heard that somewhere along the way.) It’s very soulful, very bluesy. There are points in the song where the instruments pause and its all about Josh’s vocals which is great as he has a fine voice – it’s hard to believe he’s the same person that used to scream and shout in Anti-Vigilante.

Forgive Me is an upbeat number that kicks off with drums ahead of anything else. It reminds me of Crazy Arm on their acoustic country-style album, The Southern Wild, but I guess what it really sounds like is more authentic country-style music – it’s just I’m not actually much of a country listener! This song is about dealing with grief and realising that you haven’t always been the best person but wanting to change that and not wanting those around you to suffer because of it. ‘Throughout my youth I forgot my prayers, Pursuing happiness without a care, In these last few years I’m back down on my knees, Show me the error of my sins, But please don’t take the ones I love.’  Following on from Forgive Me is a song with gentle beginnings, Late Nights. The soft acoustic guitar with Josh’s slightly husky vocals and Carly’s warm tones is a simple combination but one that works. This is a song of loneliness and loss – not knowing which route to take in life or what to do next. ‘I’ve got no reason for tears, People have had it much harder here, And I know that time is precious, And I’m wasting all of mine, Late nights drunk and crying.’ It’s heartbreaking yet startlingly relatable if you’ve ever dealt with any form of depression. From one melancholic song to another, She Cries is a distinct almost gospel-sounding blues song. The acoustic guitar and drums are there and I also think I hear a bass guitar underneath – well, Carly did play bass in her old punk band after all. She Cries tells the tale of a woman who appears strong on the outside but breaks down when she’s alone. Carly’s vocals are powerful, sad and full of emotion. ‘Now she’s got no one to fall back on, Nobody’s got her back, And her heart couldn’t be mended, She couldn’t put it right, But she chose to put up defences, She chose to put up a fight.’ This track also features a great violin solo.

Heartaches On Hold is a banjo-heavy country song. The slow pace holds your attention as you nod along to the plucking of the banjo and let the song whisk you off to Nashville (or is it Milton Keynes?). Carly leads on this song but Josh adds excellent harmonies on the chorus – ‘I need, I need you here right now. But you’re never around, And so I drown. I drown, I drown in these sorrows, Hoping that tomorrow you’ll come back home.’ This song really pulls at your heartstrings. In fact, listening to it so closely, as I do when I review a song, it almost brought me to tears. That’s impressive songwriting. Then we come to the album’s closing track. When Sorrow Calls was also the title track of the EP that I mentioned previously, which was released last year. It’s such a good song that it’s no surprise that Hope In High Water wanted to include it on their full length debut and as the final song as well. When Sorrow Calls has almost solely vocals for the first verse with only very subtle acoustic guitar chords. This song is about finding hope in the darkest of situations. People are amazing, sometimes. ‘Don’t you think it’s amazing friend, The human spirit endures such things, I just hope I can find some strength, When sorrow calls at my door again.’ Although, like much of the album, this is a sorrowful song (it is in the track title after all) there is a distinct sense of hope that ends the album. There’s a reason why this band is called Hope In High Water and it's inspiring. Never settle. Never give up.

I understand that most of our regular CPRW readers may not be onboard with Americana or country music but if you like anything remotely folky, particularly folk punk with the inclusion of a banjo, then I urge you to give this album and this band a listen. Their songwriting tackles subjects that I feel could really connect with many of our readers and their musicianship is incredible. Hope In High Water deserve to be appreciated by more than just folk fans.

Never Settle is released on Fish Records and you can buy a physical copy here. It's also available to stream on Spotify or download on iTunes. You can and should also like Hope In High Water on Facebook here.

And finally, Alessia Pedrosa, a talented tattoo artist, illustrated the wonderful Never Settle album artwork.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Gig Review: [Spunge] at The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes 12/6/17

You know it's been some gig that when you go to do the washing the afternoon after the night before and your clothes are still soaked with sweat.

With that disgusting image now in your mind, let me explain what happened the night before. Emma and I made the trip across to Milton Keynes and The Craufurd Arms where one of my all time favourite bands [Spunge] were playing. We were both shattered after a late one the night before seeing Iron Chic in South London and then full days at work. We had debated skipping the gig but we decided to soldier on because it was [Spunge] (and it was local). This would be my first time seeing [Spunge] since Slam Dunk 2016 so it felt way overdue.

Support for the show came from local pop punks All Tied Up and local ska/reggae act Easydread. Both bands played great sets with Easydread particularly standing out with their energetic performance and strong social messages. They finished their set with the excellent song Scrotes in which half the band joined the crowd for a bit of a boogie.

After a lively couple of opening bands, The Craufurd Arms was now getting extremely warm. I could feel sweat building up on my back and all I was doing was standing awaiting the almighty [Spunge] to take to the stage. The Craufurd Arms wasn't packed but a decent crowd had gathered on a Monday night to see the long running ska punk heroes. The crowd was a little slow to get dancing on the opening song but, after some gentle encouragement from the band, the skanking began. As the show went on, more and more people were overcome by the infectious nature of ska and were dancing away with massive smiles on their face. All the "hits" were played with Ego, Jump On Demand, Roots and Some Suck, Some Rock getting big reactions as well as covers of Centrefold and No Woman No Cry. The band threw in some real old school [Spunge] tracks into their set as well, with Best Mate's Girlfriend, All Gone Wrong, Go Away and Make Me Happy getting rare run outs. I've seen [Spunge] a lot in the last few years but I missed out on the real early days so hearing these songs was an absolute treat. The set was obviously finished with Kicking Pigeons and we were treated with a special performance of the song as the Easydread brass section took to the stage to perform the song with [Spunge]. This obviously got the biggest reaction from the crowd and there wasn't a still foot in the building. After an encore of Skanking Song, where things got a little rowdy, I heard a girl say "it's called Skanking Song not Mosh Song" which made me grin. After over twenty years of being a band, it's clear that [Spunge] still love being a band and playing shows. It doesn't matter if it's at a small pub show like this or in front of a big crowd at a festival - they just love it. The band have developed such a loyal fanbase over the years that, despite not being as active as they once were, whenever they do get together for some shows it's always a special thing.

Emma and I had had a wonderful time at the show. It was certainly the hottest show we've been to in a little while and after spending an hour skanking away we were dripping with sweat but were completely over our exhaustion of the two nights of gigging. [Spunge] are the best.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Column: Musical Memories

Just over a decade ago, when myself and my group of friends were in a college,we had a weekly summer tradition. That tradition became known as Beach Monday. Every Monday during the summer holidays we would pile into whoever-could-drive's cars and make the forty minute trip to Frinton, to play such fun games as beach volleyball, football, rounders and our, quite legendary, fort building competition. Team Dave and Voice were the best! Even all that time ago I was very passionate about forcing awesome punk music into my friends ears. I took it upon myself to make a CD for the car journey and insisted that we play it every week. This became the soundtrack of summers and even now I can pretty much remember every song that was on that CD.

You might be thinking "cool story, bro" or "That's lovely. You made a CD and played it to people, what's the point of this story?" The point of that story is this. Recently I made a Beach Monday playlist on my Spotify account (we're up to date with the technology these days!) and it got me fondly remembering some of the happiest times of my life growing up. This got me thinking about how wonderful music is for soundtracking certain memories from different periods of your life.

I'm sure that anyone reading this can think back to a particular period in their life and remember exactly the songs that they loved, even if everything else you were doing is a bit hazy. Without being too deeply scientific, I think it's absolutely incredible that there is some part of a person's brain that sorts out the music you loved with different events. I'm sure it's also the same for music you hate but we like to be positive here at Colin's Punk Rock World, so let's stick with the music that you loved.

Music is this powerful force that remains with you forever. Much like a scar but far more wonderful and a lot less painful and disfiguring. Something I've done since I started going to gigs is tracked every band I've seen (and the amount of times I've seen them), every venue I've been to and who I've been to gigs with. To go along with this I've created a massive playlist on Spotify documenting my gig going history. Whilst making this playlist I've gone along with the general rule of picking a song from each band at the gig that isn't necessarily my favourite song that was played but the song that I think will give the longest serving memories. For instance, I saw Less Than Jake at Koko in March 2015 and they played Automatic and slipped in their song We're All Dudes from the Good Burger soundtrack (if you don't know the film Good Burger I'm not sure we can be pals). This was amazing, something I want to remember for a long time, so Automatic goes onto the playlist. I absolute love listening to this playlist, it's so much fun to hear these songs and think back to the many fantastic times I've had seeing my favourite bands. Or times where I've met cool people. Or times I had an interesting adventure due to a gig. Or that time I got kicked in the head at Slam Dunk watching Zebrahead. Or that other time I got kicked in the head watching Iron Chic at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston. Memories are ace. I plan to keep adding to this playlist for as long as I keep going to gigs so I can keep remembering the great times and bore whoever I might be listening to it with of stories of the past.

If anyone is interested here is that Beach Monday playlist.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gig Review: Iron Chic at The Montague Arms 11/6/17

Long Island, New York punk rockers Iron Chic are hugely DIY. Preferring to playing small independent venues rather than bigger, franchised venues. Iron Chic are also hugely popular. So much so that when their show at The Montague Arms in South London was announced it sold out within hours. Because of this, promoters Everything Sucks decided to put on an earlier show so that more people could witness the phenomenon that is Iron Chic. Both shows had different support acts with Bear Trade opening up the early show and then Molar and The Exhausts warming up the crowd for the evening show. Emma and I could only make the evening show but our pal Sarah from Shout Louder Punk reviewed the early show here.

When we arrived at the Montague Arms there were already a fair few people around ready for what was guaranteed to be a fantastic night. First up were Molar. This was my second time seeing the four piece from London. The first time I saw them I can remember enjoying them enough but never feeling completely enamoured by them. This time however I felt like Molar had really stepped up their game. The dual vocals between the band's drummer and one of the guitarists was a delight, adding a fantastic layer and depth to their songs. Molar are obviously a band that keep on progressing and I can only imagine it won't be long until they are one of the most talked about bands in the scene.

When we saw The Exhausts play at South East fest back in February they were without a doubt one of our highlights. Having the opportunity to see them again was a brilliant bonus of seeing Iron Chic again. The three piece's brand of in-your-face pop punk translates really well from record to the stage. I don't think The Exhausts have written a bad song and it's clear that the entire set went down a storm with not only Emma and I but everyone in the Montague Arms. The banter between Rory, Tommy and the rest of the crowd was hilarious, whether they were joking about not knowing how to play the songs or trying to get rid of some old t-shirts, they kept the crowd entertained between songs - whilst melting our faces with banger after banger. We were even treated to a couple of new songs from an upcoming EP that we are really looking forward to.

I can't think of many of the more modern day era of punk rock bands that are as universally loved as Iron Chic. The five piece have wowed crowds all over the world with their melodic gruff punk rock. Guitarist Phil Douglas (who I think is an incredibly underrated musician - watching him live is just spellbinding) starts things off with a cry of "kick it" and the party begins. The first song up is Cutesy Monster Man and from that moment and for the next forty-five minutes there was a euphoric sing-a-long. I love Jason Lubrano as a frontman, he does so little but always manages to have the crowd in the palm of his hand. Just stumbling around the stage and occasionally hitting himself on the head, but the crowd absoletly laps it up. Iron Chic are a band that don't need to do gimmicky things on stage, just letting their incredible music do the talking. Everything sounded great as always so it's hard to pick out any real highlights because in truth the whole set was a highlight. It was however great to hear some new material from the band, it's been too long since they released there last full length, The Constant One. Of course this song was brilliant and I eagerly await more news on a future release. Iron Chic also like to throw a cover song into their set. Joking about how they wrote this song in 1994, the band broke into a fantastic rendition of Green Day's She. After forty-five minutes of shouting my lungs out and throwing my fists in the air, Iron Chic were done and the whole room was full of massive smiles. Iron Chic are so good.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Top Tens: Fastfade's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Life In General. Easily the most influential record on our early musical direction. Simple chords and melodies played to rapid drum beats.

Captain Everything
This band from sunny Watford town has had a massive impact on our creative process. These guys showed us that we can still keep our English attitudes in a genre dominated by old Californian dudes.

Eyes Open Wide. This was the first track we ever played together and is still influential to our music writing. We even ripped off the bass riff in our first 'original' song - 'Negative'.

Seeing a Strung Out live show
The huge presence and unreal energy of this band is something we aspire to have at our live shows.

Ryan's Garage
The garage where we write and rehearse all of our music is cramped, cold and has terrible acoustics. Creating music in this kind of environment has inspired us to have a raw sound and energy and not take ourselves too seriously.

This online community has shown us that quite a few people actually still like this terrible music.

Brain Puker - Some Days
This hidden gem of a song is a huge inspiration to our musical direction. The progressive non linear structure and melodic vocals are something we try and incorporate into our style.

Blink 182 - Cheshire Cat
"Dude you guys sound just like blink in the Cheshire Cat era!" is a compliment we hear all too often. But to give credit where it's due, this album definitely changed our musical tastes back when we were 13/14 and is the reason we got into fast punk in the first place.

Rich Alexander from No Insight
This guy has recorded everything we've ever put out, makes all our video promos for us and shows up to 100% of our shows. This dude has inspired us to keep making music.

Umlaut Records
When we stumbled upon Umlaut Records through a great band called 'On a Hiding to Nothing' it made us realise that there's actually a London punk scene for melodic fast punk. After countless gigs playing with indie and metal bands, we found a scene where we actually fit in and inspired us to keep going with our melodic fast punk style.

Umlaut Records are also putting out Fastfade's next EP Side Effect, you can pre-order it here.

Like Fastfade here.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Album Review: Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt

Eat Dirt are a new band from the East of England who play angry hardcore punk rock. This month the band released their debut self titled EP.

Eat Dirt start off the EP named Eat Dirt with a song named Eat Dirt. The song is only thirty two seconds long but really serves as a guide to what you can expect from the band. It's fast, in your face and incredibly angry. This band is seriously pissed off about something. It's also quite a lot of fun and really cathartic to sing along with. The second track, Pigs, is a full minute longer than Eat Dirt (the song). It's not as fast as its predecessor, focussing more on melody rather than creating a whirlwind of chaos. The song is a protest song that encourages the beaten down to "rise up and be heard." I particularly like the dual vocals in the song, combining the harsh shouty vocals with a more melodic style. The fast paced craziness is back on the third track 48. 48 is about struggling to find the inspiration to go and fight for what you believe in. Another song that is less than one minute in length but manages to pack an incredible amount into the track. That's something that has always amazed me with hardcore music, how so much can be squeezed into a short song. The EP is finished with the song Dead. What a superb track this is. The song frequently switches its melody and style around depending on verse or chorus. This makes for an interesting style that makes it hard to predict what will happen next. The combination of a thudding rock 'n' roll sound and hardcore punk works far better than you might expect that it would. The band's guitarist gets to show off his musical chops towards the end of the song. They really wail!

Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt is a short but sweet kick in the face. If you like your punk rock hard, intense and angry but also a lot of fun then you need to be checking out Eat Dirt by Eat Dirt. Eat Dirt.

Stream and download Eat Dirt here:

Like Eat Dirt here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.