Friday, 29 September 2017

CPRW Playlist: September 2017

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Dan, Emma, Omar, Pan, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to this September.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Top Tens: Top Ten Propagandhi Songs (by Omar Ramlugon)

Propagandhi began as a Canadian trio of irreverent punks who purveyed songs shot through with heavy doses of irony, melody, and sometimes just full on piss-taking. But as time wore on, and the line-up shifted around the two remaining members of the original threesome – singer/guitarist Chris Hannah and drummer Jordan Samolesky – their music began to shift and mutate in concurrence with the increasing technical proficiency of the band’s members. All of them are avowed metal/thrash fans, namechecking bands such as Venom, Voivod, Final Conflict and Sacrifice in interviews and on their t-shirts, so on reflection their increasing thrash metal leanings shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, but it’s often a point of contention among their fans; some argue that they peaked with 1996’s Less Talk, More Rock, others say their indulging in a love of metal has only strengthened their sound and that their early material pales in comparison.

Whatever the argument, the simple version is that they are one of the best bands in the world today, with their socio-political venom and uncompromising music serving as a fitting soundtrack to the terrifying turmoil of modern events. And with their new record, Victory Lap, due to be released on September 29, I figured now is as good a time as any to run down some of the brightest spots in a very consistent body of work, and provide a gateway into their music before the new record drops. Because, if the singles ‘Failed Imagineer’ and ‘Victory Lap’ show anything, it’s on track to be their best one yet.

1. Anti-Manifesto (from How To Clean Everything, 1994)

A fond favourite amongst Propagandhi fans on either side of the divide, the opening track of Propagandhi’s first album is arguably the best song on it, fusing fat powerchords, jaunty ska-influence upstrokes and even a brief moment of shred, knowingly lampshaded by Chris Hannah with his sung admission “By the way, I stole this riff.” Lyrically the song is a Dead Kennedys-esque takedown of faux punk rebellion, railing against supposed ideologies packaged, sanitised and sold on; “Dance and laugh and play / Ignore the message we convey / It seems we’re only here to entertain / A rebellion cut to fit / Well, I refuse to be a soundtrack to it / We entertain, we’re still knee deep in shit.” It’s sharp, funny, and even a little poignant.

2. And We Thought That Nation States Were A Bad Idea (from Less Talk, More Rock, 1994)

Perhaps the centrepiece of Less Talk, More Rock, this particular tune’s burst of energy on its intro sets the bar very high, and luckily this high standard is absolutely maintained throughout. Although still punk, ‘…Nation States’ edging towards hardcore only serves to suit its ferocious lyrical screed, with Hannah’s snotty delivery backed up by then-bassist John K. Sampson, now of the Weakerthans. The song takes corporate America to task, deriding the profiteering off of public funding; “Publicly subsidised, privately profitable / The anthem of the upper-tier puppeteer untouchable / Focus a moment, nod in approval / Bury our hands in the pockets of these neo-colonials.” Ringing guitars and growling bass carry things along in anthemic fashion, with a call and response lyric in the bridge of “They own us / Produce us / Consume us” bringing the song’s message to bear in uncompromising fashion.

3. Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An (from Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, 2000)

In the interest of full disclosure, this was the song that hooked me personally on Propagandhi. The song’s title, which is an East Timorese phrase meaning ‘Independence or Death’, was inspired by the band’s meeting with Bella Gahlos, a former rebel against and refugee from the brutal regime of Suharto. Her experiences are lyrically juxtaposed by Hannah against his own teenage life, and the contrast is both heartbreaking and staggering, with the Canadian’s stories of “Busting windows and getting busy behind the Sportsplex” laid into sharp relief against Gahlos’ forced “[…] Depo Proveran[1] family planning / Her own Pearl Harbour / And a holocaust spanning 25 years to life / A prison my country under-wrote in Paradise”. The song is a tragic ode to the brutality of a tyrannical regime, and yet as it draws to a close, there is a trace of optimism with the whisper of “The truth will set my people free”, as though the outcome is not foregone.

Musically it is also untouchable, with Hannah’s employing of a capo and employing melodic open chords rather than standard issue powerchords giving the song’s machinegun palm-muted main riff a real punch and sparkle that elevates the song to new heights, with Samolesky’s pin-sharp changes in pattern and tempo neatly counterpointed by at-the-time new bassist Todd Kowalski’s nimble fretwork. A personal favourite.

4. Back To The Motor League (from Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes)

Exploding out of the gate with a nose-bursting, intricate riff, as is often the case, this is perhaps the most withering put-down of the punk rock scene I have yet heard, as its message still resonates even today. Essentially an elegantly penned ‘fuck you’ to the commodification and denaturing of punk rock, its pointed use of metaphor and aphorisms only heighten the head-banging riot of the music, as Hannah fuses punk rock’s melodic bounce with metal’s brutal precision, decrying their contemporaries in no uncertain terms; “But what have we here? / 15 years later it still reeks of swill and Chickenshit Conformists / With their fists in the air / Like-father, like-son "rebels" bloated on Korn, Eminems and Bizkits / Lord, hear our prayer / Take back your Amy Grant mosh-crews and fair-weather politics / Blow-dry my hair and stick me on a ten-speed / Back to the Motor League”.

‘Back To The Motor League’ strikes a balance between hilarity and brutality to incredible effect, a trick that is very easy to overdo and slip into comedy rock. Well played, gents.

5. A Speculative Fiction (from Potemkin City Limits, 2005)

Potemkin City Limits was released while the Iraq War was in full swing, and it almost goes without saying that this fuelled the vast majority of the lyrical content contained within the record. Hannah, Samolesky and Kowalski were burning with ire at their close neighbours, taking the US’s foreign policy to task almost every chance they could. However it’s one of the more conceptual songs that opens the album, describing in concise but evocative terms an outbreak of war between Canada and the United States. Hannah brings his typical snark and bite to the subject, citing – of all things – augmented reality tracking in televised hockey as an initial casus belli; “Your stupid fucking laser-pucks were just the start!”

The song is grounded by a thundering Anthrax-meets-Sex Pistols riff, with moments of searing shred to cut through the din, and a bridge section that employs a thrillingly off-kilter rhythm to balance the pugnacious lyrics; “We don’t care if we’re destroyed / We’ll never capitulate / We’ll take the whole fucking world down / Down with us in flames / Just a speculative fiction / No cause for alarm.” One can only wonder how the band feels towards America’s 45th president; either way, this is a fucking epic way to open an album by any measure.

6. Iteration (from Potemkin City Limits)

There is relatively little footage of this particular song being played live, and for the life of me I have never understood why. It’s perhaps the best set of lyrics Chris Hannah has ever put to paper, a biting depiction of an ideal world in which war profiteers and chickenhawks actually pay for their crimes, in this case Donald Rumsfeld and his cronies. To put up only part of the lyrics is to do them a disservice, so I can only urge you to read them in their entirety, but a choice section to my eye comes from the fictional court’s derision of Rumsfeld & co.’s risible attempt at a defence; “He searches for the words / To stop this table in mid-turn, like “We are but old men, / We only did what we were told” / But the laughter from the gallery drowns out these vestiges / Of a profession’s oldest defence / The court will direct / The record to reflect / Compliments from the bench / You sir, are central casting’s crowning achievement.”

Musically the song barrels through its five-minute run time with a pace and breathless fury that makes it seem like three, with Hannah’s crunching metal-punk riffing stacked high over it all. The song twists and turns, changing direction almost in concurrence with the defendant’s squirming under the harsh light of a justified court, before finishing things off with some outstanding guitar fretboard pyrotechnics. On an extremely strong album, this one stands tall.

7. Supporting Caste (from Supporting Caste, 2009)

This record was arguably the point when Propagandhi started to lean more towards progressive thrash metal than punk, a move which to some was divisive while to others was a bold step in a thrilling new direction. Regardless, it’s pretty hard to refute that the title track of the Canuck’s 2009 LP is killer, with ferocious riffing - bolstered by the addition of second guitarist David ‘The Beave’ Guillas - juxtaposed against another taut set of lyrics, this time using the smartly observed metaphor of a disaster film in which we are all the victims to critique the world at large. The galloping guitars and peals of high string riffs give way to a lush, reverbed bridge, whereupon Hannah delivers a fatalistic lyric that is eminently quotable; “And so in these days / In this terminal phase / It’s all left to chance / A piece of advice / If you’re cast on thin ice / You may as well dance.”

8. Without Love (from Supporting Caste)

For all the mordant imagery and grim portents that abound over the length of Supporting Caste, it’s perhaps the song with the most basely human and emotional subject matter that hits the hardest; ‘Without Love’, believe it or not, hinges its heartbreaking confrontation of life’s transience and the passing of our loved ones on the death of Hannah’s cat. This simple emotional core, wrapped in barbed riffing and battering drum fills, lends a profound sadness to the song, and the emotion in Hannah’s voice is palpable as he sings; “Is breathing just the ticking of an unwinding / Clock counting down the time it takes / For you to comprehend the sheer magnitude of / Every single precious breath you’ve ever wasted? / […] As Cronie slipped away, I held her in my arms, reduced / To “Please don’t leave me. / What will I do?”

9. Unscripted Moment (from Failed States, 2012)

Opening with a jagged burst of power chords, ‘Unscripted Moment’ swiftly wrong-foots the listener with knotty, intricate clean guitar figures while the voice of Siegbert Frieberg[2], a holocaust survivor, tells of his missing father. The song strikes hard as it uses Frieberg’s tale to demonstrate the wickedness of humanity and Hannah’s terror of all he loves being stripped away by some such oncoming evil; “All the avarice and greed, and puny human hatreds / That dare to come between two human hearts. / I try not to live in fear, and I'm truly grateful / For every happy moment here / Upstairs I hear her voice, she’s softly singing / To him and I come undone. / Something wicked this way comes.” The band, meanwhile, unleashes one skullcrushing riff after another, only serving to heighten the nervous tension established as the lyrics unwind.

10. Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report) (from Failed States)

Neatly, this happens to be the ending song of Failed States, and it seems in usual Propagandhi tradition, they saved one of their best for last. Opening with a gorgeous, elegiac figure of chiming guitars and a brooding rhythm section, the song builds before exploding into distortion and fury – but Propagandhi break from the alt-metal dunderhead riffing yet again by instead choosing for the melody to ascend, somehow ending up with an opening chord progression that’s beautifully melodic and gut-punchingly powerful.

Lyrically this is one of the most abstract in the entire Propagandhi catalogue, seeming to be from the perspective of some kind of hallucination, which has the effect of the song being almost transcendental, albeit with moments of stark clarity amid it all; “We’re so frequently seduced / By such novel, exotic views / Our confirmation biases / Leverage everything we perceive.” The song careens from place to place, finishing up with a full on ripping shred solo and a somewhat heartening reminder that “This universe is love”, but delivered like a defiant battle cry before battering the listener with one last sally of palm muted chugs before winding into silence.

If you’ve never listened to Propagandhi, and enjoy punk, political music, or both, then I urge you to do so without delay. Chances are, when Victory Lap drops September 29th, this list will have to be completely rewritten, as we’ve never needed this quartet of questioning, disquieted Canadian agit-punks and their outright life-affirming musical calls to arms more than right now.

Like Propagandhi here:

This top ten was compiled by Omar Ramlugon.

[1] A reference to Depo-Provera, a birth control drug that was injected forcibly into the women of East Timor by Suharto’s soldiers who would frequently subject the women to rape and other atrocities.


Top Tens: Johnny from Pet Needs' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Against Me!
Without a shadow of a doubt, Against Me! are a huge influence on my life and PET NEEDS' music. Laura is an absolute hero - principled, gnarly and consistently honest. She isn't afraid of pop melodies and delivers her songs with ferocity and conviction. I saw AM! play in Lisbon in front of about 40 people and they played as hard as when I saw them headline on a massive stage in London.

My favourite album is 'Searching for a Former Clarity', however I love absolutely everything they have put out.

Billy Bragg
Mate. This man.

I learnt guitar by playing Billy's songs and my wife and I signed our wedding register to 'Milkman of Human Kindness'. He's an absolute inspiration in both his music and his politics. I had the pleasure of meeting Billy at a festival in Southend and he's every bit as warm and kind as you'd imagine. His lyrics are second to none. I'll never forgive Lars Fredrickson for covering 'To Have and to Have Not' and changing the lyrics, "All they teach you at school is how to be a good worker, The system has failed you – don't fail yourself!"

Dingus Khan
Dingus Khan are a Manningtree based band and are the most fun act I have ever seen live. A chaotic, hook-laden tidal wave that smacks you in the face and leaves you confused, trying to understand how and why you enjoyed it.

I've seen their frontman Ben throw up on himself multiple times, run around with a full wheely bin full of disgusting festival juice on his head, shave a monk-shaped patch into his head and microwave a copy of their latest fanzine live on stage. I also booked him to play our wedding and he was the perfect entertainment – the nans loved him.

Songwriting-wise, Dingus construct clever Blur-esque pop songs then absolutely destroy them sonically, with three bass players, three drummers and a host of other insane sounds on their album 'Save Mistley Swans'. They're a force to be reckoned with. We're lucky to have them in Essex.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
When we last went into the studio we sent our producer a Frank Carter track as inspiration for the kind of sound we were looking to achieve. MASSIVE riffs, incredible tones and an explosive live performance. My opinions on Frank himself differ slightly, however there's no denying that Blossom is an absolute beast of an album.

Kulk are the coolest band. A two piece grunge/punk act in their mid teens who we played with at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket and who I've been a massive fan of ever since. Part The Fall, part Nirvana, part The Birthday Party and part pure fucking performance art, every time I see Kulk I think 'We need to write more parts in our songs like this'.

Sex Pistols
I know, I know. When I talk to people about John Lydon, I feel like a disparing father desperately trying to cling on to some positives... 'Oh, but he's not that bad really, look at this great tune he made'... only to be massively dispirited when he, I dunno, releases a limited edition book for £350 or starts bigging up Donald Trump on national TV.

However. Sex Pistols were my gateway into punk. I remember watching something about a Pistols anniversary on Newsround when I was a kid and was completely fascinated by these bizarre, snotty punks on my TV shouting about the queen. Following this, I became obsessed with the band and would watch The Filth and the Fury religiously every night on DVD. The music was amazing, but for me the story was even better. Some cockney tragedy of manipulation, control and betrayal, ending climactically with the death of two star-crossed lovers.

And I still stand by the fact that Never Mind the Bollocks is an insane soundtrack to the calamitous play, which will remain firmly in my top ten albums – probably forever.

Sleaford Mods
This is my only choice that isn't guitar based. To me, Sleaford Mods are everything that punk should be. Honest, reductive, snidy, hilarious and vicious. They have not compromised one iota of their sound despite their considerable success. They are the most real band I know.

Also, Drayton Manored is PET NEEDS' soundtrack to every drunken shop tinny stop at every service station on the way back from shows.

This band, man. Following Against Me!, PUP are probably the second biggest influence on PET NEEDS. My brother and I both absolutely love them. They have a glorious sense of fun in their writing and play fantastically with dynamics. And their YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH sections are second to none. What a band. Also, if you haven't seen the video to SLEEP IN THE HEAT, you need to check it out. I'm unashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye.

My wife, brother and I drove about a 400 mile round trip to Belgium just to see Rancid play '...And Out Come the Wolves' in its entirety. That says it all, really. WHAT TUNES.

X ray Spex
Poly Styrene has been influencing my lyrics for years. I love her crossover between lyrics and poetry. Her words are fantastically intelligent, juxtaposed by her juvenile shrill tone, spat out in a way that takes the piss and almost trivialises the band for people who don't give them the time to listen properly.

"My mind is like a plastic band. I eat Kleenex for breakfast, and use soft, hygienic Weetabix to dry my tears."

Where possible we also try to go on to an X-Ray Spex song. Disenfranchised party music at its best!

Like Pet Needs here:

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Album Review: Never A Dull Movement by Kid You Not

Kid You Not are a four piece punk rock band from Saint Augustine, Florida. Since forming in 2015 they have released the EPs Almost Home and Nothing Was Beautiful And Everything Hurt. Now they are about to release their debut album Never A Dull Movement on Deep Elm Records. I stumbled upon the band whilst checking out bands who are playing The Fest this year and loved what I heard. When the opportunity to get an early copy of Never A Dull Movement arose, I jumped at the chance to give it a review.

Opening song Heaven For The Climate Hell For The Company is an excellent indication for what to expect sonically from Kid You Not. This band is hugely influenced by Long Island punk rock heroes Iron Chic and have taken their melodic punk sound and really made it their own. The track actually starts off solely with front man Patrick Drury's excellent vocals before we are treated to a fantastic fists in the air anthem. The gang vocals really give the song an all inclusive element that fans at a Kid You Not gig will actually adore. Up next is There's No Crying In Baseball. Here we have longer musical intro with some huge sounding pounding drums before Drury's forceful vocals kick in. The music at the start helps the song to build nicely into the vocals and when they hit you get the sense that it's time to have some fun. The song is about learning from your mistakes and moving forward no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way. Third song, Me And Dead Owls Don't Give A Hoot, is another fists in the air banger that will get you shouting at the top of your voice. Kid You Not are clearly very good at writing this type of song. There's something about this track, and the other ten on the album, that are just instantly accessible after the first listen. There are more hooks here than there is in a fishing equipment shop.

It's Not Years Honey It's The Mileage is up next. This song manages to have a more understated feeling to it despite also being a big sing-a-long. How the band have managed that I do not know. The song is about feeling like nobody understands where you're coming from and trying to find that place where you feel like you belong. As soon as the fifth song Smoke Another Beer began I thought of The Bouncing Souls and when Patrick began to sing Spraynard popped into my head. It seems as if Patrick is elongating his words as he sings, this adds some urgency and emotion into the vocal delivery and I love it. Smoke Some Beer is about going after your dreams and finding yourself even if you think it might fail. The line in the song that really caught my attention was "We've Made All These Plans But We Don't Do Them." I'm sure that many of us have made massive life plans but been too scared to follow through with them. This is a positive song that aims to inspire the listener and this is something I can get fully on board with! Nothing Is The New Black really shows off Jeremy Austin's ability behind a drum kit. The beat really powers the song forward and almost feels like it's carrying the melody of the song and the guitars are providing the back beat. After saying that I do also really love the guitars on the song, there's a simplicity to them that injects the song with plenty of energy. Following Nothing Is The New Black comes the song You Know What I Like About Rich Kids? Nothing. Kid You Not have some cracking song titles. The guitars here are absolutely superb with Patrick and fellow guitarist Ben Bennett trading lines brilliantly. The song is about finally being able to fight back against people who have held you down in the past. Again I'm sure you've encountered people who have held you down in your life and being able to get some measure of revenge on them is a very satisfying feeling. There is a lovely section where the music drops out and we are treated to some gang vocals before the song's last big chorus brings this show home.

Be A Lot Cooler If You Did continues with the sounds that Kid You Not have really excelled on throughout Never A Dull Movement. It strikes me at this point of the album that the band never really slow down during its duration. The pace is constant and makes the whole album feel extra powerful. Be A Lot Cooler If You Did is about living in denial and not learning from your mistakes. "Every Morning I Wake Up And It Hurts Just A Little Bit More, Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, Another Story To Make Up And A Feeling You Can't Ignore, Lies We Tell Ourselves To Keep On Going" may well be my favourite lyrics on the entire album. The penultimate track is Never Tell Me The Odds. What a great song this is! From the very beginning of the song you just have a gigantic urge to stick your fists in the air (this makes reviewing tricky, typing with one hand is hard) and shout until you are hoarse. The best part of a very very good song is of course the movement when the gang vocals kick in on the chorus. The atmospheric sound is fantastic. If I had a penny for every time I've said this in the past I'd have a big collection of pennies but gang vocals are magnificent for giving a song an inclusive feeling between the band and the listeners - and I love it. The tenth and final song on Never A Dull Movement is No Shirt No Shoes No Dice. This song starts off in blistering fashion giving the feeling that Kid You Not are putting everything they possibly have left into this final song. The guitars are speedy and the drums sound like they are being hit extra hard. This is another song about searching for who you are and finding something to believe in. The final few lines are absolutely amazing and it is just super empowering to listen to and shout out loud. "One Voice, One Reason, One Choice No Regrets, We Just Want, We Just Want, We Just Want Something To Believe In!" Maybe these are my favourite lyrics on the album?

When I first heard Kid You Not I was a little concerned at just how much they seemed to sound like Iron Chic. I'm sure they're told this a lot. But after listening to Never A Dull Movement I've discovered that Kid You Not are so much more than a band that sound like a band they're influenced by. There is a fantastic energy and passion about the music, it's obvious that the band really care about their music and the messages that they are putting out. I'm 100% behind this. This is an album that had me hooked from beginning to end. After listening to their first two EPs and then this album, the progression is outstanding. Kid You Not could well be the next big breakout American punk band.

Stream and download Never A Dull Movement here:

Like Kid You Not here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Album Revew: Sanguine by Brutal Youth

Canadian punk rock is just ridiculously popular at the moment and for good reason - it's ridiculously good! Toronto based band Brutal Youth have been flying the flag for Canadian hardcore music since 2010 and last year they released what is arguably their best album to date in Sanguine. Sanguine finally had its European release thanks to Gunner Records recently so it only seemed right to give it another listen.

Before I even started listening to the album I noted that Sanguine contains fourteen songs but is only twenty-three minutes long. In the hardcore punk rock tradition, the songs are short and sweet - in fact only one song goes over two minutes. That song, titled The King, actually happens to be my favourite song on Sanguine. Straying slightly away from the angrier, hardcore sound The King has a much more chilled out vibe, taking its time to progress rather than charging through the song.

The album is split into four parts with the songs I. Denial, II. Anger, III. Bargaining and IV. Depression working as beginnings of each section of the album. I found this to be a really interesting approach to tracklisting. Sanguine takes you on a bit of an emotional journey that hopefully makes you feel better when it quickly spits you out of the end of the ride.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of seeing Brutal Youth live at Manchester Punk Festival. Playing in the tiny Zombie Shack they managed to get an early evening crowd going nuts by playing with a ferocious energy. That ferocious energy works almost as well on the recorded version of Sanguine. Sitting and listening to the record whilst I try and write this makes trying to writing incredibly difficult, as I just want to get up and start a one man mosh pit in my living room. I'll refrain though as I like the stuff in my living room and don't want to break anything… or myself.

I'm not the biggest fan of hardcore personally but I absolutely adore Brutal Youth. They manage to tread that fine line between aggression and melodic brilliantly. It's angry enough to get a listener extremely worked up and lose their poop but there's also enough melody and hooks to create some excellent earworms. Some of these tracks you'll be singing at the top of your voice between going crazy. If I'm going to listen to some hardcore punk rock then this is exactly what I want.

I don't know why exactly it took so long for Sanguine to get a proper European release but it's well worth the wait. Brutal Youth are one of those bands who are making a big impression throughout the punk rock world. I imagine that it won't be long until they are playing massive shows and festivals throughout North America, the UK & Europe - and the rest of the world. I feel like Sanguine is where that future world domination begins.

Stream and download Sanguine here:

Like Brutal Youth here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Album Review: Club Dragon by Hightower

Hightower are a punk rock band from Paris who formed in 2012. The five piece, like many of their contemporaries, grew up listening to and are heavily influenced by the finest of 90s punk rock. In 2014 Hightower released their debut album Sure. Fine. Whatever. and this month saw the release of their second album Club Dragon on Krod Records. Let's see what it's like.

Club Dragon begins with the song Numero Uno. Taking me slightly by surprise the song starts out with some soft acoustic guitar before some reverb from an electric guitar lets us know that business is about to pick up. Musically Hightower play modern pop punk music with a bit of an edge. Unlike a lot of pop punk, there isn't really a chorus to the song but there are plenty of hooks and a great breakdown that will grab the listener's attention. Mushrooms And Bamboo is about learning from the mistakes you make and pushing through until you get it right. For what is on the surface a pop punk song there is a heaviness to the track musically with lead vocalist Attila's voice doing a wonderful job keeping a melodic pop sound to the song, as well as carrying its melody. Ernest's Castle is a short song at only fifty-eight seconds long. The track does a great job in packing in a lot during its short duration however. Sometimes shorter songs are the best way to get your message across. The message here is to watch your back because there's always someone ready to try and bring you down.

The fourth song is named The Party and was also Club Dragon's lead single. This was a great choice as it's definitely one of the stand out songs on the album. The Party starts out in a gloriously punchy fashion on the opening verse before we get a joyously melodic chorus. After the opening punchiness this chorus just puts a smile on your face and makes you feel wonderful. This is the song that gets you dancing and singing with strangers in the pit. Up next is Hedonic Treadmill. Hightower slow things down for this song, making it sound more reminiscent of an alternative rock track. I like this switch up of sounds - it shows some great variety in the band's songwriting. This slower approach to the song gives it an emotional layer that has perhaps been lacking in the previous songs. Tournesol brings us to the halfway point of the album. The introduction of the song features some good stop-start tradeoffs between guitars and drums with a little bassline thrown in for good measure. Turning towards a more melodic hardcore sound here makes the sound song huge. Attila's vocals soar during the slower paced sections of the track and sound fantastic.

The second half of the album opens with Titty Twister. Titty Twister is a positive song that tries to teach the listener to live your own life and not to conform to what is expected of you if it doesn't feel right. This topic isn't really anything new from a punk band but the point can never be made enough if you ask me. The track goes along at a mid tempo pace and this does a great job of getting the point across without feeling too laboured. There is a fantastic breakdown during the song that almost makes you believe that the song is finishing before a big ending. To The Hole is an instrumental track that works as an introduction to the ninth song Kind Of Blue. To The Hole really darkens the mood before Attila's vocals kick in early on Kind Of Blue and things explode into life. Kind Of Blue is about ignoring all the propaganda that can be forced onto you and learning to think for yourself. In a time where there are so many crooked politicians making big decisions this thought process is more important than ever.

Lov' Pyramids reverts back to the pop punk sound that Hightower played early on Club Dragon. Lov' Pyramids kicks off with a couple of big sing-a-long choruses that will instantly get a live crowd singing along. I kind of felt that they needed some gang vocals to give the start an even bigger sound. I have to say the lack of gang vocals on the whole album was slightly disappointing, but that might just be because I'm very partial to a gang vocal. The penultimate track on Club Dragon is Kvlt. This song begins with some very quiet guitar before some very loud vocals that really show off the strength of Attila's vocals. This was such an interesting way to start off the song. I was fully expecting a slow build with the guitar increasing in volume before the expected burst into life but Hightower jumped to the gun to great effect. Kvlt also has a section that really allows drummer Romain to showcase his considerable skills behind the kit. The twelfth and final song on the album is the epic Cheyenne Mountain. Cheyenne Mountain finishes off Club Dragon in fine form. At nearly five minutes in length it's easily the longest song on the album. It feels as if Hightower put everything they possibly could into this final song, not wanting to leave anything in their metaphorical locker. I enjoy an epic final song and this is up there with some of the best.

I'm the first to admit I'm not the biggest fan of this style of pop punk music but there was something in Club Dragon that really pulled me in. If you are a fan of the modern era pop punk sound you will adore this album and Hightower.

Stream and download Club Dragon here:

Like Hightower here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Future Classic: Home, Like NoPlace Is There by The Hotelier (by Richard Mair)

The idea of an album being a future classic is a hard one to judge. Having been introduced to punk through The Offspring's “SMASH”, Green Day's “Dookie” and Rancid's “... and Out Come the Wolves” it's easy to look back on those albums 20+ years later and appreciate how they blew the scene open; and since then punk hasn't gone away; sure it's had different trends and vogue moments but generally speaking it's still as accessible albeit maybe not as popular as it was back in the mid 90's. Therefore for me to identify a potential future classic is hard as I'm looking back over 20 nostalgic years trying to find something that could have as large a cultural impact as those three iconic albums from my formative teenage years.

Recently I think punk has gone through somewhat of a renaissance akin to the 90s explosion where social commentary, political awareness and song writing craft have taken centre stage perhaps as a reaction to some of the showy screamo fads of the early millennium years; particularly in the DIY scene with labels such as Tiny Engines, Red Scare Industries and No Sleep allowing bands to create statements as opposed to a desire to shift units. One album that really benefits from this and should be held in high regard as a shining example of punk from the 20teen years is The Hotelier's "Home Like NoPlace is There".

Around its release I remember the album generating a significant buzz, not because of it being highly anticipated, indeed their debut album has probably found more of an audience in recent years than it did when first released. The buzz came organically based on the strength of the songs streamed prior to its release. Both "Your Deep Rest" and "Life in Drag" felt like emotional hand grenades. While both completely different in tone and feel, the qualities they displayed suggested that on its release the album could be something special. I'm generally sceptical that such songs streamed ahead of a release are likely to be the highlights of the album, so on the morning it was unleashed, I like many people downloaded the link with some form of excitement and anticipation I was unprepared for the emotional roller coaster I was about to embark on.

"An Introduction to the Album" kicks things off; it's subtle musical background giving way to Christian Holden's voice which generates much of the tune and melody, especially in the early stages whilst the song builds. To describe it as a beautiful song doesn't do it justice, but by the 3:30 minute mark its sucked you in with its crescendo of drum beats, and Christians now painful yelps; in fact everything you can expect to feel on the album is covered in this first song, giving its title a portentous feeling.

The album has a real anger to it and the feelings of guilt, loss and regret permeate the whole album. It also has a real element of isolation and has some difficult subject matter contained within it; "Among the Wildflowers" and "Housebroken" perhaps the two obvious tracks where the theme of abuse is very overt and at times painful to listen to, but this is why the album is such a classic, it never takes the easy option with the subject matter; it always wants the listener to feel that anger and have that emotional connection and I can't think of another album in recent history that has had that effect on me in such a way.

The album finishes with "Dendron", which is an odd closer given it always feels like a sibling to "An Introduction to the album", in fact I usually start with Dendron (maybe because I love it so much, but the flow into the first song with the closing refrain of Dendron is perfect), again highlighting the craft of the band to put the album together as one piece. As a standalone song it’s the real high point of the album; in fact so good it’s possibly the finest song to close an album since Weezer’s Blue Album epic of “Only in Dreams”; again capturing the feelings and emotions of everything that went before it and releasing it in a cathartic explosion of noise.

From start to finish the album is a masterclass, it's pure punk rock perfection; it's emotional, it's socially aware, it's angry and it's tons of fun to sing along to in small venues with arms around strangers and beers aloft; so what should make this stand out as a future classic compared to some of its contemporaries? When looking at those releases from the mid-90s it's important to note that they weren't debut releases or new bands; these were groups who had captured a feeling or a moment in time and helped launch it to a wider audience. All three were coming off the back of generally positive if unspectacular releases, but managed to capture a moment in time and tap into the psyche of the malaise and disaffection brewing in youth culture. For me these were the first albums that really spoke to me and therefore something that can have such an emotional connection will always hold the test of time.

I could discuss politics and social issues with anyone until I'm blue in the face. The last few years for many people have been a struggle. We now have the first generation who can realistically not expect the same standard of living as their parents, but who are probably the most educated they have ever been. We have a generation of young people saddled with debt, unable to have a place to call their own and higher rates of mental health conditions than any other group; it’s also very clear that through the internet and social media many more people are exposed to circumstances, situations and experiences that can have traumatic and lasting impacts. It's in this context that “Home Like NoPlace is There” exists, and it’s also there to offer us comfort and hope and comfort reminding us we aren’t alone; to reach out when we need to and to look after each other. Like those albums from my formative years this is a genuine cross-over success with enough to keep members of various sub-factions of the scene happy, and should be applauded for being a stunning piece of art and social commentary that defies categorisation. For those still to experience its pleasures, please give it a home!

Stream and download Home, Like NoPlace Is There here:

Like The Hotelier here:

This Future Classic was nominated by Richard Mair.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Top Tens: The Doublecross' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen is the musician I remember most vividly from my childhood. My folks would play their vinyl copies of his earliest albums over and over. I certainly think that his heartfelt mixture of rhythm and blues, rock, folk and country has influenced my songwriting more than any other musician.

Buffalo Tom
The first time I heard Buffalo Tom was their live performance of the song Tree House on the Channel 4 pop culture show The Word, in 1993. I was instantly taken with Bill Janovitz' honest vocals over the jangly 90s guitar sound that I had already grown to love in other bands such as Teenage Fanclub.

The Black Crowes
The Crowes are one of my all-time favourite bands and, despite not having a direct influence on The Doublecross, are one of the reasons I learnt to play guitar. The first time I heard them was on a late night rock music television programme on ITV called Raw Power. It was the song Twice As Hard, a single in 1990.

Having been a lover of hip-hop and rap music since the early 90s, I'd never connected on a personal level lyrically with anything in the genre until Atmosphere came along. I discovered them three albums into their career when the Lucy Ford EP collection was released in the early 2000s, a crazy and important time in my life in terms of learning who I thought I was and understanding my relationships with other people.

The Prodigy
It was The Prodigy that got me into creating my own electronic music during the 90s which has influenced the way I write, compose and almost construct Doublecross songs since. The Prodigy helped me understand the power and importance of repetition in music, treating every instrument and melody in a song as a separate element that may be introduced and reintroduced in a song.

The Wildhearts
I heard The Wildhearts for the first time on Noisy Mothers, ITV's late night replacement for the show Raw Power, when they released Nothing Ever Changes as a single in 1992. That song blew my mind with its mixture of power-pop, punk and metallic riffage and I've loved the band ever since. I cite them as a direct influence on the sound of the latest Doublecross album, Keep Bleeding.

Hot Water Music
After hearing their song Choked And Separated on a compilation, HWM without a doubt became the most influential band for me particularly in my earlier days of making punk rock music. Everything from the chord progressions, lead guitar style and rough yet melodic vocals to the lyrical content helped shape the music I made with my old band This Hidden Switch and the first Doublecross album, Things Will Never Change.

When a friend played the Rebels And Rogues album to me, this was the first time I had heard Lucero and their music struck a nerve. It seemed to tap in to a part of me that had laid dormant since my teenage angst days in the 90s. Except this time I was in my 20s and very much into over analysing everything about my love life. Lucero, as with Atmosphere, gave me the confidence to write honest, personal lyrics of my own.

Rival Schools
Being a fan of Walter Schreifels' band Quicksand, I was nothing less than blown away when I saw the Rival Schools Used For Glue video for the first time. I still don't know how he does it but Schreifels has this way of writing such vague lyrics that seem to mean so much to me and his vocal delivery is nothing short of soulful in my opinion. This coupled with Ian Love's beautiful guitar work will always leave Rival Schools as one of my all-time favourite bands.

Dinosaur Jr
Yet another band I heard for the first time on Channel 4's The Word. The song they performed was Start Choppin' and I was immediately in love with J. Mascis' guitar playing and sound. I've been trying to emulate and play guitar like Mascis ever since, with minimal success. This alone is not why I love Dinosaur Jnr so much, as their songwriting underpins an entire sound that I believe is completely unique.

Like The Doublecross on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Album Review: Outsider by Comeback Kid (by Robyn Pierce)

Longtime Canadian hardcore band Comeback Kid recently released a new full-length album entitled Outsider, out on Nuclear Blast. I’m always stoked about new music from Comeback Kid, who are definitely one of best hardcore bands in the scene, but I was particularly interested in this record after hearing the singles the guys released and seeing some of the guest vocalists the band collaborated with on Outsider (Chris Cresswell on a Comeback Kid record? Whaa?! It’s like they’re trying to make a point about how many great musicians come from Canada). Comeback Kid are also my go-to band when I’m struggling to feel motivated and need a bit of a push, so I was really counting on Outsider to give me the energy fix I need at this time of year.

And, it delivered. Outsider is heavy in all the right ways, delivering vibrant riffs and often veering into the realm of metal. This is perhaps best encapsulated in the track entitled ‘Absolute’, which includes a guest appearance from legendary metal vocalist Devin Townsend (who is, of course, another amazing Canadian). Townsend’s vocals really fill out the sound in ‘Absolute’, giving the song an operatic quality as it builds to a crescendo and ends with an awesome breakdown. ‘Absolute’ was one of the singles pre-released off of Outsider, together with ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ and ‘Surrender Control’. ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ really showcases Comeback Kid at their best, tempering fast and aggressive verses with a soaring, anthemic chorus. ‘Surrender Control’ is also quite anthemic, with a chorus that promises to have crowds all over the world singing along, but it’s much more bass-driven and deliciously heavy. I looped these three tracks more than a few times leading up to the album release, and they definitely measure up to Comeback Kid’s previous singles and best-loved tracks.

With the full release came ten more new songs. Much like the title track off of Die Knowing, which also leads off that album, ‘Outsider’ opens the record with a long intro and introduces the theme of the outcast whose power lies in challenging the status quo. ‘Hell of a Scene’ is an unexpected track that marries together an aggressive, ultra-fast verse and a highly melodic chorus that reminds me ever so slightly of Sum 41 (and no, it’s not just because they’re Canadian – although, maybe?). It’s jarring and fun, and could wreak untold havoc at shows. This song gives way to ‘Consumed the Vision’, which features Chris Cresswell (from The Flatliners) and is therefore, perhaps unsurprisingly, a more straightforward punk track (although, it doesn’t escape the metal influence altogether). I don’t think there is any possible manifestation of Chris Cresswell’s vocals that I could ever dislike, but man – I really enjoy the overlaying and blending of vocals on this track. Like the addition of Townsend on ‘Absolute’, it adds great flavour and dimension to the sound. ‘I’ll Be That’ is a headbanger with some tight palm muting, while ‘Outrage’ and ‘Blindspot’ are two of the faster songs on the album with fantastic drumming at breakneck speed.

In between the old-school, hardcore aggression of ‘Livid, I’m Prime’ and ‘Throw That Stone’ is one of my favourite tracks off of Outsider, entitled ‘Recover’. This song steps away from the metal elements on the rest of the album and delivers a rousing melody with similarly stirring lyrics: “I’m not slipping away, I’ll recover”. In a video in which the band discuss Outsider, Neufield says that ‘Recover’ came out of an attempt to return to an earlier sound and to write a song like ‘Wake the Dead’. I think the band is successful in writing a song that is as enjoyable as this fan favourite. Outsider finishes up with ‘Moment in Time’ featuring Northcote (yes, you guessed it, another great Canadian musician). Northcote’s input is most apparent at the beginning of the song, which begins as a somber folk punk tune before exploding with frantic energy. In fact, the speed and intensity of the rest of the song almost seems to be a response to its grim beginning. This is fitting in a song about making the most of the precious time you have with your loved ones. ‘Moment in Time’ caps off the album beautifully with a track that’s really different to anything I’ve heard from Comeback Kid before.

What I really like about ‘Outsider’ is the diversity of tracks that it offers, each developing a different facet of Comeback Kid’s sound but all of them administering the power and energy that you’d expect from these hardcore heavyweights. Chances are, even if you don’t love every song off this album, there’ll be a few tracks that you really enjoy. Outsider also testifies to the musical talent coming out of Canada and makes really fantastic use of guest vocals (seriously, if you are reading this Comeback Kid: just keep collaborating with other awesome Canadian musicians. It’s working. You have made me so happy.) Outsider is a great addition to Comeback Kid’s growing catalogue of music, and has definitely satisfied my need for some quality hardcore punk to help me push through the last few months of the year.

Stream and download Outsider here:

Like Comeback Kid here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Gig Review: The Real McKenzies at The Camden Underworld 13/9/17

What do you do when you're off work and have a day planned in London? Go to a punk show, of course. Canadian celtic punks The Real McKenzies were playing at The Underworld in Camden, somewhere we seem to have been to loads lately, and had Counting Coins supporting them. This promised to be a evening full of fun.

When I saw that there was only one support band on the evening's bill, I must admit that I felt a little disappointed - it felt like I was paying full price for a gig that wouldn't be as long as normal. Any disappointment that I was feeling was soon forgotten as Counting Coins took to the stage. The five piece from Hull play a hybrid of ska punk, hip-hop and gypsy music and kind of felt like strange bedfellows for The Real McKenzies for this tour. I wondered how a crowd of predominantly older punk rockers would take to this band. They took to them very well. I think that this was down to the infectious energy that the band put into their performance. Lead vocalist Harry is sometimes hard to make out due to the sheer speed that he delivers his lyrics but he has me smiling and enjoying myself anyway. Because Counting Coins were the only support band of the evening they were afforded a little extra time for their set. This seemed like we were able to get the full Counting Coins experience. Playing a selection of songs from their entire back catalogue as well as at least one new one, the band got a few people in the crowd that had gathered early dancing. The band had become great friends with tour pals Real McKenzies over the previous week or so and it was great to see some of those Canadian chaps down the front singing along with the band. It's always great to see some camaraderie develop between bands whilst on tour, it really shows the strength of the community in the punk scene. Counting Coins really impressed with a high octane set.

Next it was time for long running celtic punks, The Real McKenzies. The band formed way back in 1992 so this was the band's 25th year in existence, an incredible achievement. Frontman Paul McKenzie is the only original member who still plays with the band and as soon as he took to the stage he got an standing ovation from the Underworld crowd. This is where I must admit that I'm not overly knowledgeable on much of The Real McKenzies music, I know a couple of songs and I've always enjoyed listening to them but have never fully been on board the McKenzies bandwagon. I now am after witnessing an incredible live performance. I don't think I've seen many more entertaining live shows this year. I think a key part of the band's longevity has been the excellent selection of musicians that Paul has surrounded himself with. Watching them all interact with each other on the Underworld stage is an absolute delight. It reminds me of Paul being the serious teacher and the rest of the band behaving like naughty school boys behind him. Bass player Troy Zak in particular likes to act out, being the one to mock Paul's age and answer back when asked to do something. It's all in good fun of course and adds a great dynamic to the set. There wasn't a single song in their set that didn't get me dancing. Whether it was a faster paced punk track, a slower drinking song or a sea shanty - everything was just fantastic. Of the songs that I did learn favourites of mine included Droppin' Like Flies, Bugger Off, My Luck Is So Bad, Fuck The Real McKenzies, Due West and Barrett's Privateers. If you've never seen The Real McKenzies live you are really missing out. Amazing.

In all honesty this was a gig we went to just because we were off work and we like going to gigs. This was a great decision as we had a brilliant night dancing along to really good bands from different sides of the punk genre.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Album Review: Come Undone by Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders (by Emma Prew)

This time last year I was constantly listening to my favourite bands that were set to play Fest 15 in anticipation for seeing many new faves live in Florida at the end of October. One artist that I listened to, probably more than anyone else, was Lincoln Le Fevre, a country/folk punk chap from Australia. When Fest came around we ended up seeing him play twice over the weekend and each time was simply wonderful – he has an incredible way of captivating a bar (or beer garden, in the second instance) with his wistful storytelling. I loved Lincoln Le Fevre then, I still love Lincoln Le Fevre now and now I also love Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders and their 2017 full-band full-length release Come Undone.

Released on Poison City Records towards the end of July, Come Undone has been top of my must-review-list ever since. Except life got in the way, work has been busier than ever and I haven’t had time to give the album the appreciation it deserves. Until now.

Opening the album is a song called Ugly Enough. It starts out reasonably slowly, with soft guitar before Lincoln’s distinct vocal utters the words ‘I should warn you, I’m not built to last, And the future casts a shadow, Darker than the past.’ You can tell that the song is building as the guitars appear to get ever so slightly more urgent. Drums kick in for the full band sound we’ve been waiting for at around the one and half minute mark and we are even treated to a big guitar solo towards the end of the song. This is the same heartfelt and honest Lincoln Le Fevre that I know and love just with a punchy impact and sound. The feedback at the end of Ugly Enough leads us into Undone and while the first track was slower to get going, track number two wastes no time hanging around. Undone has a fuller sound from the outset and a faster pace to get your head nodding and foot stomping. This was one of the first tracks released ahead of the album and I was sold on it from my first listen. As much as I love the stripped back and more acoustic nature of the last album, Resonation – and I sure as hell love that album – I think this rockier, punkier sound is what I subconsciously wanted all along. Undone is about being able to put the past behind you and get over someone or something. ‘Boy I know what’s getting you down, But there’s no point missing her now…’ I bet it would go down and storm at a live show and I really, really hope that’s something I get to witness one day.

There are plenty of genres that Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders could plausibly fall under. Of course, this is a ‘punk rock’ blog and they are not necessarily out of place here, as a major part in the Australian punk scene alongside the likes of The Smith Street Band, Camp Cope and Luca Brasi, to name but a few. You could also label Lincoln’s previous releases as having more of a folk or country sound and this comes across in the warm guitar tones throughout Summerhat. Perhaps this is Australiana? (Y’know, like Americana.) That’s the guitars however, meanwhile the lyrics are as packed with emotion as ever. You know that phrase ‘to wear your heart on your sleeve’? Well, that could be applied here too. ‘And when she turned to me and she respectfully disagreed, But in every kid there’s an asshole who don’t know right, Because what all this means is maybe she won’t think the worst of me.’ The tempo is taken down a notch for the somewhat melancholic The Get Go. A steady drum beat takes us through this song with the guitars taking a bit of a backseat for Lincoln to give an honest outpouring through his vocals. ‘Was it recklessness or reason, An echo of whatever but it means, That you were here from the get go.’ The sombre tone continues into the next track and this is where Lincoln really pulls at the heartstrings. Newcastle is the name of the fifth track on Come Undone and it is about loneliness and the frustration that comes with that, as well as how a particular place, Newcastle for instance, can embody all of those feelings. This song contains some of the most poignant and yet heartbreaking lyrics of the whole album – the whole Lincoln Le Fevre back catalogue in fact. ‘I’m staring at the infomercials, Waiting to be told, To go to bed and give up on another night alone, And lie awake in wait for sleep to bring her home, And I’m listening […] And when I told you that I missed you, You just stared at the floor, And you held me like there’s nothing left to hold anymore, And it looks as though when I get back to Melbourne I’ll be coming back alone.’ I want to scream those words almost as much as they make me feel like crying. That’s a good thing, right?

Phew! After that slightly emotional whirlwind, Useless Shit brings us back to straight-up head nodding folk punk rock. The drum beat gives the song a rolling motion, the guitars are suitably jangly and the lyrics are easy to pick up and sing along to – particularly those echoed lines in the chorus. This song has an official music video which features a bunch of people have a yard sale of what turns out to Lincoln’s, probably not so unwanted, belongings. It’s a fun spin on what could be presumed to be ‘useless shit’ but I think the song is more about starting afresh and perhaps trying to forget some things from your past. Another great song. Then we come to what I think is the perfect combination of heartfelt, emotion-fuelled lyrics with an upbeat pace and that excellent full band sound. Constellations is almost definitely my favourite song of Come Undone. Leading us into the song with a catchy guitar riff, the verses are mid tempo but the chorus is where it all happens. ‘And you caught me just in time, To turn the night around, And if the cop don’t shut us down, We’ll drink all night.’ There’s just something about the warmth in Lincoln’s voice that makes me love this song that little bit more than all of the rest. I think you’ll have to listen for yourself and see if you hear what I mean.

Drawing towards the end of the album, Gaslight City is the eighth track of Come Undone. A simple melancholic guitar riff opens up the track and when the vocals kick in we can confirm that this is a bit of a remorseful and bitter sounding song. ‘And you told us we need it, Everything we never needed.’ This is another song with a great sense of building throughout its duration. We don’t exactly get a massive punk rock kick in the face by the end of it but that’s not really what this song is about – it’s deeper than that. The melancholy gives way to a faster paced and almost optimistic penultimate track, Alone At The Back. I say ‘almost’ as it’s more like being on the road to positivity but not quite being there yet – ‘Giving up and giving in is not the same thing.’ There’s a great little section towards the end of the song where there are two different vocal lines being sung over the top of each other. Unfortunately I can’t quite pick out every single word to quote this (and I can’t find the lyrics online) so you’ll just have to listen yourself. Bringing Come Undone to a close in the longest song on the album at 5 minutes (exactly) in length, Stay Close. As you might imagine an album closer of 5 minutes to be, this is an atmospheric builder of a song. The slow guitar playing and softer vocals that start the song remind me a bit of Ryan Adams, if Ryan Adams was from Australia – which I’m sure is not an unusual comparison to make. In this song, Lincoln admits trying to be optimistic in when life puts you in some difficult situations which I feel reflects on much of the album and not just this song. It’s a good way to be. ‘So stay close, Stay close, Because I am still a stupid optimist in spite of every doubt.’ 

Come Undone is out now on Poison City Records and you can download and stream it on Bandcamp here.

I also suggest you give Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders a like on Facebook here.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Column: Music Videos Are Still Cool

Remember about ten years ago when you would spend hours watching Kerrang or Scuzz or MTV2 or, probably the most popular with readers of this blog, P-Rock hoping to catch your favourite bands new music video. Back then, before social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter exploded, a big tool for getting your band some important exposure was getting your music video onto one of those channels.

These days music videos don't feel as important as they once did because there are so many other (and usually cheaper) ways to spread the good word about your band. I however still do get excited when my favourite bands release a new music video. I figured it might be fun to share a few of my favourites with the Colin's Punk Rock World readers.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Top Tens: Danny from The Crash Mats' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Ever since I first heard White Trash, Two Heebs And A Bean I’ve been in love with NOFX. Being 13 and getting into punk was fun, I spent about a year listening to the Sex Pistols and other such 70s bands then I heard White Trash… and Punk in Drublic on the same cassette tape. I didn’t realise you could have fun with punk, NOFX taught me that.

The Beastie Boys
The best/most punk album I owned when I was 14 was Aglio E Olio. The greatest album of all time is Paul Boutique. The videos they made were funny, plus their cover of Minor Threat's Screaming At A Wall is amazing! The Beasties are better at everything musically than anyone else, ever!

When I was 13 I heard Crass and my young Roman Catholic head exploded. I didn’t really understand 95% of it, but I totally got what the song So What was on about. I really dug the dirty bass and drum sounds and they made me feel like I could write a punk song and that it was easy. All you need to do is shout and sound Cockney!

All the early Fat Wreck comps were amazing, but Snuff really stood out to me. They filled the music out with Hammond organs and trumpets, they did stupid covers and made me laugh a lot. They didn’t seem to care everyone else was trying to be serious, they carried on regardless. All the Snuff spin off bands are great too, Guns n Wankers, Your Mum, Billy No Mates etc. but I still remember listening to a copy of Potatoes And Melons with Mr Royales (Guitarist in The Crash Mats) aged 13/14 and wanting to do my own punk version of Magic Moments and trying to figure out which TV adverts would make a good punk cover.

The Toy Dolls

I smoke weed, and I like punk and ska… do I need to explain this one any more? I didn’t really get into them until the early 2000s but just wow. 40 Oz To Freedom is just so smooth. It flows from track to track, everything fits, nothing stands out as odd or an album track. Just pure gold.

Rich Kids On LSD/RKL
I first heard these guys on a compilation from Epitaph years ago, then I forgot about them. Then later on in life I got back into buying vinyl and re-discovered RKL. Everything about this band is amazing, from the bass and vocals, to the mental backstory of the guys in the band. I love all eras of RKL, from the early Mystic stuff to the later Epitaph albums, they just inspire me to want to sound better musically. I’ve still yet to hear better vocals on a record than Jason Sears.

Dead Kennedys
I used to love looking through the album artwork for a DK album, the dark humour really stood out to me. The sound of the band was pretty damn cool too. I had no idea what they looked like from being 13 to about 15 when I saw a video of a live set in San Fransisco. It wasn’t until I saw East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride playing that I understood just how damn good they were.

Wesley Willis
If you make me laugh I will love you forever, Wesley Willis is punk rock. Rock over London, rock over Chicago, Wheaties the breakfast of champions.

Frank Sidebottom
Laughing at your own jokes whilst other people stare at you in befuddlement is the best feeling in the world sometimes. Frank scared me as a kid, but as I grew up I realised just how funny he was. Also just how controversial he was to people as well. I’ve only ever been told to turn off two records by my mum, one was Crass and the other was Frank Sidebottom. Stuff like that makes people stick in your mind and I’ve probably stolen more from Frank Sidebottom than anyone else. I don’t think many people “get him” but that is their problem. You know it is, it really is!

Check out The Crash Mats here and here.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Album Review: Call In Sick by Toodles & The Hectic Pity

I love it when small bands I've never heard of send me emails asking if I'd like to review their new release and it turns out to be one of your favourite releases of the year. That's definitely what happened when Bristol based three piece Toodles & The Hectic Pity got in touch ( if you're interested) and told me about their new release Call In Sick which was released in June via Invisible Llama Music. Toodles & The Hectic Pity consist of Callum McAllister (vocals, acoustic guitar), Max Cole (bass, vocals) and Dom Mosley (drums, vocals, melodica) and play acoustic folk punk music. A genre I usually leave for Emma to review but I enjoyed this release so much I had to do it myself. Here's why I loved Call In Sick.

Opening song Menthol Cigarettes begins with some quiet acoustic guitar before the drum kicks in and we get a upbeat extended introduction to the song. When the vocals do kick in the drum drops out and the song builds up towards its chorus. I like the effect of having two introductions to the song that lead into a big sing-a-long chorus. Menthol Cigarettes is a break up song, particularly about struggling to let go of the relationship and not coming to terms with the situation. Despite the sadness of the topic there is such a great upbeat feel to the song, it's kind of difficult not to smile along to it. Next up is I Do Not Need A Doctor (Oh My Dear). The track doesn't waste much time in getting started this time with some fast paced acoustic guitars. McAllister's vocals are also up-tempo and have a hint of storytelling in their delivery. I Do Not Need A Doctor tells the story of a girl who tries so hard to fit into what society deems is the correct lifestyle and it driving her to sickness. There is a great section of the song when things are brought down to a slower pace and some well placed "whoa-ohs" come in before the song gradually picks itself back up for its ending. Superb song.

The third song is the EP's title track Call In Sick. Call In Sick is a song about being stuck in a job that you hate so much that it begins to affect your mental health. The track goes along at more of a mid-tempo pace with McAllister again in storytelling mode. I can see this song really going down well in a live environment, especially when the music cuts out and the line "Because You Shouldn't Have To Work So Hard To Barely Get You By" is sung, in my head I'm imagining a room full of people shouting this back at the band in a very cathartic moment. The penultimate track is named Faster Than This. As you might assume from the title of the track, it's a fast paced one that's just two minutes in length. It's a bit of a punk anthem about realising your own self worth and ignoring the people who don't respect yours. Faster Than This is a track that really allows Mosley's drumming to shine with some rapid fire drum rolls giving the song an explosion of life. Lastly we have Ear To The Concrete. Here we have another mid-tempo track that tells another story. McAllister does a wonderful job of painting a picture in this, and all his songs, where it feels as if you can see what he's singing about as if it's a film. This is an incredible skill and shows so much songwriting talent.

Call In Sick is one of the biggest surprises of the year. All five songs are just superb and deserve a lot of attention. Toodles & The Hectic Pity have not been a band for a long time but are already showing a lot of promise. If you only check out one band that you've never heard of this year then you could do far worse that giving Toodles & The Hectic Pity a chance. You certainly won't regret it!

Stream and download Call In Sick here:

Like Toodles & The Hectic Pity here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Gig Review: CJ Ramone at MK11, Milton Keynes 7/9/17

On Thursday the 7th of September 2017 I saw a real life, living, breathing, singing, bass playing Ramone! The legendary CJ Ramone, who played bass for the most important band in the history of music between from 1989 to 1996. Kind of randomly, he was playing Milton Keynes as the final night of his UK tour supporting brand new solo album American Beauty on Fat Wreck Chords. To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.

Of course CJ had support for the evening. In fact he had a lot of support. No less than four support acts were playing at the MK11 sports bar. The first three were reasonably local acts We Are Giants, Dead Frequency and Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns. The fourth was a band who I'd only heard great things about and was really looking forward to seeing, Canadian punk rockers the Isotopes. This was my first time listening to the band and if I was going to describe them to you I'd tell you to imagine a cross between Teenage Bottlerocket and Masked Intruder. Musically they definitely have a bit of the Teenage Bottlerocket buzzsaw pop punk sound with the fun gimmickry of Masked Intruder. Unlike Masked Intruder though the gimmick isn't about girls and committing crimes, it's about America's favourite pastime, Baseball. Many of their songs are either about baseball or feature baseball references in the titles. The stage at MK11 isn't the biggest so it was tight trying to squeeze all five members into the tight space. But Isotopes also have a non music playing member, similar to the job Officer Bradford does for Masked Intruder where he paces around the stage getting the crowd even more hyped up. I should point out that this gentleman was wearing just a denim waistcoat and a jock strap, wielding a baseball bat. This was quite distracting from the band to begin with. The Isotopes played an absolutely fantastic set of pop punk. I was slightly concerned that all of the baseball references might fall down with a UK crowd but it certainly didn't stop the good folks of Milton Keynes enjoying Isotopes. A great, fun band who I look forward to seeing again.

Now it was time for CJ Ramone. When the legend took to the stage I began to feel a little giddy, turned to Emma and said ‘that's a Ramone.’ I was less than ten metres away from a member of the greatest band that ever lived. Before the gig I had wondered if he would only play his solo material or would play a mixture of his own songs as well as playing some Ramones classics. That question was answered on the first song as CJ and his band opened the set with the classic Let's Dance. Immediately the crowd that had gathered at MK11 began to sing and dance. Naturally it was The Ramones songs, of which there were plenty, that got the biggest reactions but people also reacted very positively to CJ's own songs. I will be making sure to get very familiar with these songs as the ones that he played live were all great. Hearing CJ play those old Ramone songs made me realise just how many incredible songs the band wrote back in the day and how timeless they still feel. A few months ago I did a Top Ten Ramones Songs for CPRW and I'm pretty sure almost every single one of those songs was played along with countless others. One of the things that I really enjoyed about CJ's set was the enthusiasm he had for playing those songs. He has obviously played to much bigger crowds than the 100 or so people who gathered to see him on this night but this didn't quell the effort he and his band put into their set and were clearly having a ball on stage. This wasn't about a pay cheque, this was about a love of music, punk rock and The Ramones. There were some fun guests joining the band on stage throughout the set. First up was Isotopes singer Evan who joined the band to sing Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, next up Lisa from The Ramonas (an all female Ramones tribute act) who is local to Milton Keynes joined the band on stage for my personal favourite, Bonzo Goes To Bitburg, and lastly for the final song of the night all of the Isotopes came back on stage for a cover of Motorhead's tribute to the Ramones - R.A.M.O.N.E.S.

Seeing CJ play on stage was a bit surreal. I didn't really know what to expect from the night but I have to say I loved every second of it. I'm sure CJ doesn't have to come out to the more unpopular towns on the UK touring circuit but I'm certain every single person there was eternally grateful that he did. Incredible.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Album Review: Nuking Candyland by Fast Food Society

Fast Food Society are a five piece band from Palma, Spain. (I believe this makes them the first Spanish band featured on CPRW). The band describe themselves as anti-globalist, pro-feminist, pre-anarchist punk rock. According to their Bandcamp tags they play melodic hardcore political punk rock music. Back in July they released a brand new EP named Nuking Candyland on Disconnect Disconnect Records in the UK as well as a whole host of labels all over Europe. Anything with Disconnect Disconnect involved is always gold so I was looking forward to checking this out.

The EP starts out with the song Hijacking Hijab. Beginning with an audio clip cut together with some sad sounding guitar and drum parts before the song really gets going. Things pick up and the song bursts into life with some exquisite guitar work that really got me pumped up. When the vocals hit I'm immediately pulled into the song. They are fast paced and have me wanting to throw my fists up in support of the band. Hijacking Hijab is about realising that it's not a nation or religion that commits the terrible atrocities that happen in the world and more so a select group of people. Next up is L'Abattoir. This is a one minute long hardcore song that's pro vegetarian. I absolutely loved this song, definitely one of the best hardcore songs I've heard in a long long time. In its short duration it begins, starts a massive musical storm, gets its message across and finishes without any fuss. Great stuff. The third track is named Invincible By Default and sees the band return to their skate punk sound. What a great song this is! The song is about the upper class privileged members of society who are oblivious to the struggles of the people who they believe are lower class than them. The song has so much energy in it that it's impossible not to get passionate about the track's message. Fast Food Society have some fun on the song as well, changing up the skate punk and playing a reggae verse with a reworked version of Ace Of Base's All That She Wants. Maybe one of the songs of the year!

Last Words looks at the problem of institutional racism. As you can probably imagine given the topic of the song it's extremely hard hitting, musically and vocally. There is a punchy quality to the vocals that makes sure every word hits home with the listener. This is very important to the song. There are some also some fantastic vocal harmonies that accompany the chorus that add a community feel to the song, making the listener feel that they are not alone. There are some audio clips sliced into the song addressing times when institutionalised racism has taken place. A very powerful song. The penultimate song on Nuking Candyland is named Enemies Of Reason. The guitar intro straight away made me think of Bad Religion and as the song got going so did the vocals. I loved this, Bad Religion are ace. Enemies Of Reason is a song that questions people's belief in religion, no matter which one it is - I'm certain that it's no coincidence the Fast Food Society have gone for a Bad Religion sound for a song about this subject. Finally we have the song The Unfortunate Origin Of A Rather Familiar Family Game. This is a bit of a bonus track on the EP. So I won't say too much about it, so I won't ruin the surprise. It's awfully surprising though and awfully fun!

What an incredible release Nuking Candyland is! It's hard hitting skate punk that will inspire and educate you in equal measure. Sometimes I feel like some bands try to write political songs for the sake of writing a political song and they don't really mean anything. This really isn't the case here. Each song, including the bonus song, really hits home and makes you think along with just being absolute punk rock gems. If you like your punk political then Nuking Candyland is an EP you must check out!

Stream and download Nuking Candyland here:

Like Fast Food Society here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Album Review: 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics by The Crash Mats

You may have heard that way back in April Emma and I made our annual visit to Manchester for Manchester Punk Festival. One of the bands that really caught my attention at the weekend were Oldham based three piece The Crash Mats. The trio played a fun mix of punk and ska music about various topics such as smoking weed, drinking, Neighbours getting cancelled, wrestlers and also threw in a cover of one of the greatest TV themes of all time - Chucklevison. This month they release a brand new album named 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics on Horn & Hoof Records. I stuck it on expecting to be very entertained.

My favourite era for UK punk rock was probably the P-Rock era of the early 2000s, that's when I first really started listening to UK underground punk so it's a sound very close to my heart. When I first put on 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics my mind was immediately filled with nostalgia for that time. The Crash Mats sound is a straight forward but in your face punk rock sound that has plenty of pop hooks thrown in as well as the occasional hint of ska. Think of a Northern 4ft Fingers and you get the idea. On the eighteen tracks on the album the band do show off some different sides of their sound, going from upbeat and fast to a darker hardcore sound. Production wise you can tell that this is a DIY release that they didn't have a big budget for studio but this only adds to the album's charm. This rougher, raw sound gives me the same feeling I had when I saw The Crash Mats live - it's a bit rough around the edges but it really doesn't matter because it's so much fun.

If you're expecting to be moved by some of the topics that The Crash Mats tackle then I'm afraid you're looking in the wrong place. Who says punk always has to change the world though? Sometimes it can be silly and fun. In a world where we are bogged down by so much rubbish, it's important to have some silly and fun music to help lighten your mood. Song topics include life in Oldham (Don't Go Down Yorkshire Street On A Friday Night, 409 Home), love (Hot Air Balloon Ride, My Girlfriend Only Has 24 Hours To Live), wrestling (Terry Funk Forever, Mr Wonderful) and Neighbours (Party At Lou's Place).

This is such a fun album. I've listened to it quite a few times whilst writing this review - the songs are pretty short - and each time it has had me smiling. The songs are short and sweet, doing what they need to do with minimal fuss. Musically it's very well played, keeping it quite simple the majority of the time but throwing in some excellent bass and guitar solos along the way. I hadn't appreciated the band's skills as musicians when I saw them live but hearing them here I am very impressed.

If you love your punk fun, if you like your music to make you smile, if you want some brilliantly ridiculous songs to get stuck in your head, if you miss the p-rock days or if you love a good drunken party then 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics is the album for you.

Also if you listen all the way to the end of the album there is a nice surprise for you.

Stream and download 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics here:

Like The Crash Mats here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Future Classics: Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me!

Before I get started with this future classic column I must add a disclaimer. The album which I am nominating is not my favourite by the band it is by. A couple of years ago I did a top ten songs by the band and not a single song made it onto my list. I do however believe that in twenty or so years we will look back on this album and say "yeah, that album's a classic." I'm not sure why I'm being so cryptic about what the album is. You must have read the title of this column before clicking on it. For those who did somehow miss that, I'm talking about Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me!.

I imagine that if you're reading this you know all about Against Me!'s storied history but I perhaps somewhat naively like to believe that on occasion non-punk people read these posts and might not know the band's back story. Against Me! were originally formed in 1997 in Gainesville Florida by Tom Gabel. They gained a massive and passionate following due to their raw punk rock sound, incredible live performances and their strong DIY ethics. They released their first three albums independently, firstly with No Idea Records and then Fat Wreck Chords. These albums were very well received and increased their reputation in the music world a lot. So much so that the major record labels came knocking. For many of their hardcore fans the band did the unthinkable, left their DIY roots and signed a two album deal with Sire Records. These two albums did extremely well commercially for the band but they got a lot of heat from old school fans accusing the band of being sell outs.

Then in 2012 everything changed.

Tom Gabel came out as a transgender person having dealt with gender dysphoria since childhood. From that point on Gabel would be living life as a woman and her name would now be Laura Jane Grace. On the 21st of January (my birthday) 2014 the first album by a Laura Jane Grace fronted Against Me! was released and was named Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

That history went on a bit longer than I had planned. Here's the reason I think Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a future classic despite it not being my favourite Against Me! album. First of all it's a painfully truthful and personal album. Without a doubt this is the most honest album lyrically that Against Me! have ever released. Laura was finally being true to herself and this came across in her songwriting. The big theme of the album is, of course, gender dysphoria after the coming out of Grace.

The punk rock scene, being as incredible as it is, again took the band back into their hearts and accepted them like they did in the early days. The album, in a way, mended old relationships between the band and the original fans. Gone were the accusations of selling out. So now Against Me! had all their old fans back, new fans they'd gained thanks to the major label releases and now more and more queer and transgender people were jumping on board with the band too. Finally feeling like they had a voice and someone so incredibly brave to relate and look up to. You can now go to an Against Me! show and see people from all walks of life coming together harmoniously and people's differences in lifestyles not mattering. Because it doesn't!

Laura Jane Grace's coming out and then the release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues to me is a real turning point for the acceptance of transgender people in mainstream society. Bringing the issue of gender dysphoria to the masses gave a lot of people strength to also come out and let the world see the people they really are. I think that is a quite incredible thing for a person and an album to achieve.

This column was written by Colin Clark.