Sunday, 31 December 2017

Sunday, 24 December 2017

CPRW's 2017 Gig Diary

Seeing a punk rock band play live is quite simply the best. Seeing a band you love put on a performance containing pure and unadulterated passion and energy, whether it's in a small pub with only a few people in attendance or at one of the big faceless, corporate owned academies, always puts a smile on our faces. We've been to so many fantastic gigs this year so rather than choose top tens we thought that it might be a fun task to put together a kind of a gig diary of the CPRW team's favourite gigs – or sets – of the year.

12/1: Layman’s Terms at The Trap, Bristol (Dan)
The Trap is a cool little cave in Bristol that I travelled to one cold night in January to play guitar for Demon Smiles. All the supporting acts were cool but Layman’s Terms took the cake because they were super high energy and played that old school fierce as fuck hardcore that I do so love to hear, especially in such an intimate venue. Playing hyper fast, up to 11 and still not missing a beat is something a lot of burgeoning hardcore bands could do with paying attention to. These guys not only have the attitude but the aptitude to back it up into something enjoyable to listen to.

9/2: Our Lives In Cinema at The Unicorn, London (Dan)
OLIC are a band that are just hypnotising to watch. Whether it’s their super upbeat pop punk style or Mark Bartlett’s ADHD fidget dancing, they are fun from start to finish. These guys are, I believe, quite new on the scene right now but judging by their relentless work ethic over the year they’ll be a big name soon – so watch out for them and get down to see them if you can. I’ve actually seen them a few times this year but February was when I broke my Cinema cherry so it remains the most special.

21/2: Good Friend at the Underworld, London (Colin)
Good Friend came as a massive surprise to myself and Emma, despite the fact that the Irish three piece had released their latest album, Ride The Storm, in 2016. I became an instant fan of the band based on this fantastic performance. It was jam packed full of an infectious energy that made it impossible to take your eyes away from the stage. It was a half an hour set of brilliant sing-a-long punk rock that really made a big impression on me. I'm sure if I'd have known the words to the songs it would have made a big impression on my throat as well, there were so many great choruses.

24/3: Faintest Idea at TNS Tour, The Portland Arms, Cambridge (Emma)
Faintest Idea are probably my favourite band that knowing Colin has brought into my life. They're definitely one of my absolute favourites to see live. When TNSRecords announced that four of their bands – Wonk Unit, Roughneck Riot, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man and Faintest Idea – would be embarking on a UK tour together, we just had to go. We'd usually go to the London date but on this occasion we already had another gig planed, so we opted for Cambridge. The whole night was really great but I loved Faintest Idea's infectious performance just that little bit more than the rest.

26/2: The Exhausts at South East Fest, The Montague Arms, London (Emma)
The Exhausts don’t play live very much anymore but when they do there’s no signs of rustiness as they are just brilliant. We saw them twice this year but I remember the first as being particularly great. This is a fun band to watch on stage and the songs are pretty darn good too. Apologies, I Have None, who headlined the night, were obviously good but I got that little bit more excited about The Exhausts than I did them.

28/2: Triple Sundae at The Black Heart Camden, London (Dan)
I remember the first Trips gig. It was rough around the edges and the guys seemed to have more enthusiasm than any real idea what they wanted out the band. Through a couple different iterations they went and on the 28th Feb they emerged fully formed and in the best shape of their life.  Everything hit home for me. The new school pop punk sound. The tightness of a band now familiar with not just the material but each other and a confidence and stage presence that let me know that this wasn’t kids play anymore – this was the real fucking deal. Half way into their first song I knew I was now a fan for life.

16/3: Dave Hause & The Mermaid at The Garage, London (Emma)
In support of his incredible third album, Bury Me In Philly, Dave Hause returned to the UK for the first time in several years – this time with a full band in tow. He really suited and seemed comfortable being a frontman again and the songs, new and old, sounded better than ever.

22/4: Stöj Snak at Underdog, Manchester Punk Festival 2017, Manchester (Emma)
Stöj Snak’s set was my absolute favourite performance of the whole Manchester Punk Festival weekend this year. I was a fan of his album ScreamerSongwriter from last year and keen to see him live anyway but I wasn’t prepared for quite how amazing it would be. I was honestly speechless afterwards – the whole thing was raw, passionate and, lame as it may sound, utterly magical.

22/4: ONSIND at Manchester Punk Festival (Colin)
When ONSIND made their very first appearance at Manchester Punk Festival back in April you could sense the anticipation for what would be a great show. MPF attendees packed out the Underdog bar to scream along to the Durham based acoustic duo. They started out with fan favourite Heterosexuality Is A Construct which got a massive reaction, from then on it was one big sing-a-long after another. ONSIND have been going for ten years now and remain an important part of the UK punk scene. They have also recently released a fantastic new album named We Wilt, We Bloom which you should check out.

22/4: The Burnt Tapes at Manchester Punk Festival (Colin)
2017 was the year of The Burnt Tapes for me and Emma. They went on to be the band we saw the most times throughout the year. This performance at Manchester Punk Festival, at the brilliant Zombie Shack, was the first. It had been a year or two since I'd last seen the band and I was really taken aback by just how good the band have become. This set was before they released their excellent EP Alterations so I wasn't familiar with all the songs yet but it showed a band that were really on the rise.

22/4: Clowns at Manchester Punk Festival (Colin)
Australian hardcore punk rockers put on the wildest performance of the year at the Manchester Punk Festival. Bodies were flying everywhere at Zoo. After three long days of festival fun you could have forgiven the MPF crowd for feeling a bit lethargic but Clowns turned up and everyone found that last piece of energy. There was plenty of stage diving, crowd surfing and moshing and that was just from the band. The crowd was simply savage but in the best way imaginable. This was a performance that will live long in the memory.

17/5: Forever Unclean with Fastfade, Cereal Box Heroes, On A Hiding To Nothing, The Run Up at The Unicorn, London (Emma)
I’m putting this one down as being an amazing DIY punk gig as a whole – all of the bands were brilliant, not just Danish headliners Forever Unclean. The whole evening was a fine example of how great the London punk scene is. There’s been other great London DIY punk gigs that we’ve been to this year but this one is up there near the top of the list. Gigs like this knock those at Academies or Arenas completely out of the park.

29/5: Against Me! at Slam Dunk Festival 2017, Hatfield University (Emma)
This was my first Slam Dunk Festival and the main reason I decided to go was because Against Me! were announced as one of the festival headliners. I had a great time earlier in the day at the ‘ska stage’ but I don’t have a big emotional and nostalgic connection to those bands. Against Me! however… One of my favourite bands of all time, not to mention one of my favourites to see live, playing a fairly small stage to a crowd of people who picked them over Enter Shikari or Bowling For Soup. It was hella good.

3/6: The Burnt Tapes at Urban Bar, London (Colin)
This was The Burnt Tapes' release party for their brilliant EP Alterations on Umlaut Records. The show, which was at my favourite venue Urban Bar in the Whitechapel, was being billed as The Burnt Tapes and Friends because the line-up was stacked with long time pals of the band as well as tour buddies all the way from Mexico, Shinjoku Riot. Every band's set was unfortunately littered with sound problems but seeing them all power through regardless really showed a true punk rock spirit. When the chips are down we make the best of it. When Pan, Phil, Jordan and Tone took to the stage they didn't let all of those sounds problems affect them and played what could be my favourite set of the year.

3/6: Eat The Evidence at Bones and Pearl Studio, London (Dan)
I’ve been to Eat The Evidence shows where I was worried the floor would collapse because everyone was going so crazy and their album launch party was that times 10! One of the most entertaining bands in the UK ska scene right now to watch on stage, ETE have charisma oozing from every pore and are first rate musicians to boot. They’ll take any show anywhere but having top billing and an hour to do what they wanted was an experience that’s hard to top.

4/6: Descendents at The Forum, London (Colin)
It's the Descendents.

11/6: Iron Chic at The Montague Arms, London (Colin)
When this show was announced it proved to be so popular that the band ended up selling it out so quickly that a matinee show earlier on the same day was also announced – which also quickly sold out. I did question why Iron Chic still choose to play small pub venues when they could clearly sell out much bigger venues. Aside from their strong DIY ethics, it's simply because small pub venues are the very best way to see Iron Chic. Playing all the classics from Not Like This and The Constant One as well as a cover of Green Day's She and at least one from the, at the time, unreleased You Can't Stay Here, Iron Chic showed yet again why they are one of the most popular punk bands in the world.

12/6: Easydread at Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes (Colin)
Living in Colchester meant I got to see local favourites New Town Kings a lot. Then at the beginning of this year I moved to Bedford and soon discovered another local ska act in Easydread. The seven piece seemingly support every ska or reggae act that turn up in the area. This was my third time seeing them in five months and definitely my favourite because by now I've learnt the words to the songs. Easydread are one of the best new ska bands around and are definitely deserving of your time.

12/6: [Spunge] at Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes (Colin)
[Spunge] are one of my all time favourite bands, they were one of the first underground ska punk bands I listened to and also one of the first that I ever saw live. When they announced a gig at The Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes I jumped at the chance to see them yet again. It turns out [Spunge] have a loyal following in the area as the Craufurd Arms had plenty people ready for a good old fashioned skank to the scene legends. Despite the Craufurd Arms feeling like a sauna, we skanked away for the entire set. [Spunge] played a good mix of classics, new songs, rarely played songs and, of course, covers. We came away from the night soaked with sweat but with the biggset grins on our faces.

29/6: Flogging Molly at The Forum, London (Emma)
I love anything folk punk so obviously I like Flogging Molly! Colin had never seen them live before and I’d only seen them supporting Frank Turner, so why ever would we not go see them live this year? I knew I’d enjoy this gig but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so good as it was. I’m not really a big fan of the Academy-sized venues, nor the gigs at them, although I suppose The Forum is a bit smaller. Anyway, despite the venue this show was brilliant. Such a talented bunch of musicians and frontman Dave King was a particularly standout performer.

7/7: The Bennies at Stereo, Glasgow (Colin)
When it was announced that The Smith Street Band would be back in the UK for a tour with The Bennies Emma and I were quite excited and ended up going to three of the shows. The highlight for me was The Bennies set at Stereo in Glasgow. Whereas The Bennies were immediately loved by the crowds at their two London shows on the tour, it felt like they had to work a bit harder to get the Glaswegian crowd on side. And you can bet your entire record collection, including that priceless original splatter vinyl, that they did! The Bennies always put on a fantastic live show with their genre defying sounds. In Glasgow things started slowly but by the time The Bennies reached the end of final song, Knights Forever, the room was full of new fans of these lovable Australians.

16/7: Resuscitators at New Cross Inn, London (Colin)
After seeing three gigs from the same package tour at the beginning of July, we were quite looking forward to going to a gig which featured some other bands. That next gig was a pop punk all-dayer at The New Cross Inn in South London. Headlined by The Overjoyed and supported by The Burnt Tapes, Triple Sundae, On A Hiding To Nothing, Cereal Box Heroes, The Splash, Resuscitators, Joe Sullivan & The Happiness Werewolves, Fastfade and Sweater Songs, it was a fantastic gig all round. The band that left the biggest impression with me were Kingston's Resuscitators. I first saw them back in 2013 and this was my first time seeing them since. They just amazed me with their fast paced skate punk which features some seriously impressive harmonies. A band not to be slept on, hopefully they'll have some new material out in 2018.

22/7: Chrandesyx at Level Up Festival 2017, The New Cross Inn, London (Emma)
I was all over the fact that the Saturday and Sunday of Level Up Festival would have an acoustic stage downstairs in The New Cross Inn, even though I didn’t know who half of the acoustic acts were – I still wanted to see them all. The act that impressed me the most were a band rather than a solo artist from Belgium called Chrandesyx. They were one of the bands I’d never heard of before but that didn’t stop them from completely captivating me – from their accapella introduction and throughout their folk-fuelled set. This was a ska festival and my favourite act was the most folk punk of the lot, I’m not surprised really.

23/7: Level Up Day 3 at New Cross Inn, London (Colin)
Level Up was a brand new ska punk festival co-promoted by Be Sharp, Fishlock and El Topo at the New Cross Inn. All three days of the festival were a huge success but it was the third day that was a particular highlight. When I list the line up you'll know why and then I won't really have to say much else. Playing in a small pub in South London were Big D & The Kids Table, The JB Conspiracy, P.O.Box, Jungleproof, Tree House Fire, Call Me Malcolm, The Pisdicables, Just Say Nay, Giles Bidder, Mille Manders and Triple Sundae (acoustic). Enough said really.

1/8: Bad Religion at The Forum, London (Emma)
This year I got to see two of my bucket-list bands live for the first time and both of these, unsurprisingly, appear on this list. The first is the legendary Bad Religion who have more than 30 years of punk rocking under their belts. When a band like this plays live, and a punk band in particular (because the songs are shorter!), you realise just how many amazing songs they have in their back catalogue. Bad Religion were no exception. Also, the fact that the band members aren’t particularly young anymore didn’t matter one bit. One of the world’s greatest punk bands for sure.

2/8: No Trigger at Borderline, London (Colin)
August was an incredible month for punk gigs in London. My second of the month (and note the date) was No Trigger at the recently refurbished Borderline in Soho with my pal Jack from Ships Down. This was No Trigger's first London show in five years and their first anywhere in the world in two years, so it was a pretty monumental occassion. Despite suffering from some jet lag, the band put on a big performance full of big energy, bigger sing-a-longs and plenty of fists held high in the air. This was one of those that reminded me why I love basement shows. It was a room full of people being brought together by music and having the greatest time.

4/8: Face To Face at Shepherd's Bush, London (Colin)
If you're a fan of American skate punk then this really was a line up not to be missed. Pennywise were headlining Shepherd's Bush Empire with Face To Face, Good Riddance and Teenage Bottlerocket. Face To Face really stole the show for me during their time on the stage. Face To Face are one of those bands that feel really underrated when people talk about the best bands from the 90s skate punk scene. It seems like everyone loves Face To Face but nobody really gives them their dues. Not many bands could steal a show that also featured Teenage Bottlerocket and Pennywise but Face To Face managed it.

8/8: The Planet Smashers at Underworld, London (Colin)
As someone who grew up as a ska kid before really finding my love for punk rock, I was a big Planet Smashers fan but was never able to see them. It had been so long I had kind of expected that I never would see them. But then on the 8th of August I did get to see them! And boy golly jeez it was worth the wait! I'm not sure that I've ever skanked for so long with such a big smile on my face. The whole set just made me so incredibly happy and it seemed to for everyone else around me. I don't think Emma or myself have ever been happier dancing to a song at a gig than when they played The Hippopotamus. That song is basically the theme song for our house.

8/8: The Planet Smashers at The Underworld, London (Emma)
This was one of Colin’s bucket-list bands and so he is obviously the best person to talk about this gig… But I just want to say that I’ve never been more excited about a band playing a song than I was when The Planet Smashers played The Hippopotamus. If you don’t know the song, it is a not-too-serious tune that has a dance routine to boot. It was so much fun live.

12/8: The Dreadnoughts at The Underworld, London (Emma)
August was such a good month for punk shows in London! I guess we have the festivals (Rebellion, Boomtown and Outcider to name but a few) to thank for that. In the same week that The Planet Smashers were at The Camden Underworld, fellow Canadians – and one of my absolute favourite folk punk bands – The Dreadnoughts were also at the same venue. They also happened to be one of my bucket-list bands so for those reasons alone this was a brilliant gig. It was lively and rowdy with rousing singalongs and a great sense of not know what would happen next.

12/8: The Drunken Ramblings at The Fiddlers Elbow, London (Dan)
Despite their guitarist Vic apparently being on a four day coke binge comedown, The Drunken Ramblings once again show why more bands should make the investment into radio jacks for guitars. They’re never in the same spot for more than two seconds and bassist Colin in particular was off into the crowd and away more than he was on stage. That was great for me because it gave me space to stage invade and steal his mic for some gang vocal choruses.

25/8: Ships Down at The Fighting Cocks, Kingston (Dan)
I’m determined to get the term “Theatrical Hardcore” into circulation when referring to Ships Down. This is another band I’ve seen on several occasions this year but there’s something about the mix of the Fighting Cocks’ intimate nature, the mountains of pizza available at Pizza Party 5 and the screaming crowd that made this the defining performance for me. Ships Down have a heady mixture of incredible technical guitar licks, West End Musical level vocals and insane speed. And it ticks every box in my musical loving heart. Of course seeing a sweating and shirtless Joseph Guthrie standing before me bellowing like his voice could knock down a building makes any night top notch.

7/9: The Isotopes at MK11, Milton Keynes (Colin)
After seeing three local acts, and not being particularly enamoured by any of them, The Isotopes Punk Rock Baseball club took to the stage in support of CJ Ramone and put on one hell of a show! At the time I thought of them like an incredible cross between Teenage Bottlerocket and Masked Intruder with their buzzsaw fast gimmicky pop punk. It didn't take itself seriously but it was serious fun. Many of the songs' baseball references went over most of our heads but it did nothing to hamper our enthusiasm for a fantastic new band.

7/9: CJ Ramone at MK11, Milton Keynes (Colin)
Seeing CJ Ramone live was either going to be incredible or the best thing ever. It was the latter. I knew I'd enjoy hearing The Ramones hits played by an actual Ramone live an unbeleivable amount. Incase you weren't aware The Ramones are one of my all favourite bands. I think it's pretty safe to say that everybody at MK11 was there for The Ramones songs but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed his solo material too. The fact that CJ is still playing under The Ramones banner, doing those classic songs a huge amount of justice and adding to The Ramones legacy with some fantastic solo material, proves that The Ramones are forever.

30/9: Codename Colin at The Flag, Watford (Dan)
I remember standing next to Mike from Triple Sundae whilst Codename Colin were wowing me and saying to him “Be Sharp should snap these guys up they’re amazing” and of course it turned they are a Be Sharp band. Very Reel Big Gold Than Jakey in style, it’s the ska punk that I know and love and these guys don’t miss a single beat.

12/10: Gaz Brookfield at The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes (Emma)
Gaz Brookfield always puts on a great live show, just him and his acoustic guitar, but when he played Milton Keynes for the first time this year he was exceptionally good. It might have a little something to do with how great The Craufurd Arms is as a local independent music venue or how the crowd was a lot more respectful than when I’d previously seen Gaz in Bedford. Either way, this was a really great show, with I’ve Paid My Money being played to a silent room of music fans a particular highlight – look up the song if you don’t know it.

15/10: The Burnt Tapes at The New Cross Inn, London (Emma)
The Burnt Tapes are the band that I’ve seen live the most times this year and there’s a good reason for that – they are bloody good! This was the last time of 2017 and they were on a line-up of 9 excellent, predominantly pop punk, bands including headliners from across the pond, The Bombpops. The Burnt Tapes were on somewhere in the middle of the day and I, and those around me, just had the best time singing along. We were also treated to some new tracks that were just as good as those we know and love.

17/10: Anti Flag at The Forum, London (Colin)
It's not many bands that can upstage both Reel Big Fish and The Mad Caddies but political punk rockers Anti Flag managed it. It had been five long years since seeing the Pittsburgh four piece live so this performance was way overdue! Co-frontmen Justin Sane and Chris #2 were just superb and work so fantastically well together, which does make sense given how long they've been together. Anti Flag are a really empowering live band who manage to make you care about what they're singing about, whilst you have a wonderful time dancing and screaming along.

21/10: Lightyear at The Garage, London (Colin)
This set was my favourite set of the year hands down. How often do one of your favourite bands announce they are getting back together properly and not just for a brief reunion? This year Lightyear did and celebrated with a run of shows around the UK. My excitement for the London show built up for months as I impatiently waited for the gig. By the time it did roll around my excitement was at fever pitch and my expectations of the night were really, really high. Lightyear surpassed every single expectation I had and then some. One of the most beloved bands of the era I grew up on are still the best live band around. Playing a host of fan favourites songs to a wild and crazy crowd who skanked, sang, moshed and crowd surfed throughout a perfect set. Having Lightyear back is the best thing that happened in punk rock in 2017.

17/11: The JB Conspiracy at Boston Music Room, London (Colin)
2017 marked the tenth anniversary of the release of The JB Conspiracy's debut album This Machine. To celebrate they announced a tour where they'd be playing the album from start to finish. This Machine is a classic in the UK ska punk scene so I'm sure you can imagine that this news was greeted with much excitement. The tour concluded with a night at The Boston Music Room in London and it was the most perfect ska punk party you could imagine. Spirits were high within the crowd as well as on the stage with everyone wanting to make sure that This Machine was celebrated properly. The JB Conspiracy also threw in a cover of the Slow Gherkin classic Shed Some Skin which was the best surprise.

5/12: Jaya The Cat at Underworld, London (Colin)
It had been two long years since I'd last seen Jaya The Cat and that frankly was two years far too long! When they announced a show at The Underworld in support of their long awaited new album, A Good Day For The Damned (which is incredible), I knew that I had to go. And I did! Of course it was fantastic to hear so many favourites from their back catalogue but the real highlight for me was hearing the new songs live for the first time and seeing how well they work with the older songs. It was also really nice to see that everyone at a packed out Underworld really loved the new songs as much as me. Jaya The Cat are one of the most underrated bands in the world. I won't be going so long without seeing them again.

8/12: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnake at Brixton Academy, London (Colin)
I wasn't a fan of Gallows or Pure Love and I hadn't even listened to Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes when one of my good friends, who I hadn't seen much since moving away from home, asked if Emma and I wanted to go see them at Brixton Academy. I pretty much agreed to go just to see my friend and can't admit to being that fussed about the music. However I had heard that Frank Carter is an incredible frontman and I can report that this is definitely true. Whilst Brixton is far too big a venue for my liking, give me a small pub venue any day of the week, I have to admit I was seriously impressed by the show that was put on. Musically I didn't love it but I also couldn't take my eyes off of all that was going on in front of me. It was a memorable show.

This end of year list was written by Colin Clark, Dan Peters and Emma Prew.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Jack’s Top Ten EPs of 2017

We can all agree that 2017 will go down as one of the best years for new punk rock music in a long while. In fact, drawing up a list of the 10 albums I liked the most, let alone raking them, was just an impossible task for me right now, so I have given myself until the very end of the year to do that, and instead I’ve decided to focus on the EPs that were released this year for this post.

EPs are so often disregarded in end-of-year lists – which typically prefer full-fledged albums – however they often contain some of the best independent music produced in any given year.

Or, from another perspective, here’s a list of bands you won’t see fill up an arena, but that you should definitely try to see at your local punk rock venue at the next opportunity.

10. First The Town, Then The World by Bare Teeth

Bare Teeth are a band from Lille in France. I didn’t know anything about these guys until their 2015 demo surfaced the internet, gaining good impressions all around for their biting – pun intended – melodic thrashcore sound of the Propagandhi school of punk. It wasn’t a surprise to then see their debut EP released on pretty much all the labels that have been championing skatepunk in Europe and Asia – and I’m pretty sure this is just the beginning for this band.

You can stream First The Town, Then The World here / Vinyl available via Lockjaw Records and Morning Wood Records (among many others)

9. Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike by Rebuilder

For the past 2 years or so, I have maintained that Rebuilder are among the most underrated bands in punk rock in the world. Period. In 2015 they released their first and only full-length album, Rock & Roll In America, which was one of the best albums of that year in my view (2015 was another great year for new releases). SFTMT, released this past September, is a pretty decorous follow-up to that album, preserving the same desperate lyrics, the same intertwined vocals over upbeat pop punk music, uniquely accompanied by a sumptuous organ in the background which always hits the right spot. I really hope to see these guys on this side of the Atlantic very soon.

You can stream Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike here / Vinyl available via Panic State Records

8. Lifer by Sombulance

This EP had me at the cover art. Sombulance are a legendary band from Portsmouth, although I had not had the chance to listen to them properly until this EP was announced. Thankfully, what came with this awesome artwork did not disappoint. Lifer has everything I want from music these days: intricate riffs, fast drums, not-too-aggressive distortions so to exalt the guitarists’ technique, glorious vocals. Bonus: they sound exactly as incredible live.

You can stream Lifer here / Vinyl available via Lockjaw Records

7. Attack.Sustain.Decay by The Fullblast

A true skatepunk hipster (is that even a thing?) would say “I knew The Fullblast before their bassist joined A Wilhelm Scream”. Well, I did not. But, if you’re anything like me, your eyebrow has just raised at the words “bassist” and “A Wilhelm Scream” in the same sentence. Indeed, before joining AWS to record the monumental Career Suicide, Brian Robinson played in another ridiculously technical, furiously fast melodic hardcore band, who released their latest album in 2004. More than a decade later, The Fullblast came back in their full formation – i.e. including Brian – to release an EP and tour across North and South America. But don’t be fooled by the association I’ve just made: Attack.Sustain.Decay does not sound at all like anything AWS, and yet manages to blow your eyebrows away from how good it is. In a word: insane.

You can stream Attack.Sustain.Decay here

6. Calunnia by Slander

Slander are a thrashcore band from Venice, Italy. In the past few years, they have climbed to a certain prominence in the Italian hardcore scene, release after release and show after show, up to the point of becoming the face of a new generation of hardcore kids from the peninsula. A common trait of Slander’s discography is that their music is never obvious; however they probably outdid themselves in Calunnia, a key feature of which is the seamless blending of old-school HC beats and rap. Considering that these guys have toured as far as Kenya, it’s really a shame that they have not made it to the UK yet – hopefully that will happen soon.

You can stream Calunnia here / Vinyl available via FOAD Records

5. Alterations by The Burnt Tapes

Punk rock is a genre that can be slow at renovating itself, and sometimes it struggles to find the tone which makes it relevant to current times. In the UK, the face of this innovation are The Burnt Tapes. In Alterations, they mould the “traditional”, Fat-Wreck-inspired punk rock into a more delicate, darker and jarringly beautiful sound which reminds me of PUP or the “new” Flatliners. I can’t hide it – I’m quite excited for the future of this band!

You can stream Alterations here / Vinyl available via Umlaut Records

4. Two Ts EP by Garrett Dale

Garrett Dale is the lead guitarist and singer for the band Red City Radio, from Oklahoma. This may be an overstatement, but RCR in my opinion have revolutionised punk rock in the past decade. And that, at least in part, is thanks to Garrett, who in his first EP as a solo artist showcases all his songwriting talent. Mostly his voice and an acoustic guitar, although not lacking some interesting arrangements at times, this EP contains all the bitterness, grittiness, and melancholy that Garrett got us used to so far. A magnificent bummer, this EP might cause listeners to stare into the abyss while contemplating the lack of any meaning in this life.

You can stream Two Ts EP here / 7” available via Red Scare Industries

3. Formaldehyde by On A Hiding To Nothing

For those like me who were maybe just too young – or lived in the wrong place – to fully enjoy the golden age of California-style skatepunk in the 1990s, On A Hiding To Nothing are a little hidden treasure to be guarded at all costs. Marking the second release by the London-based band, Formaldehyde is a turbocharged 15 minutes of bangers which will make you want to dance and sing and stage dive like it’s 1996 again.

You can stream formaldehyde here / CD available via Umlaut Records

2. Adult Braces by No Trigger

This was probably the release that got me most excited this year. I have spent the past 10 years in adoration of No Trigger, but I was also extremely nervous at the prospect of never being able to see them live, as they hadn’t released anything in ages. Their social media profiles were mostly silent, if it wasn’t for the odd tweet or reply which gave me – what seemed – false hope. Until this summer when, like a bolt from the blue, they announced it all at once, a new EP, a new tour, they were back. Because you have got to give it to them: at a time when nostalgia-fuelled tours are announced every week, they could have easily just jumped on a van and played the same old songs, but instead they wanted to reward their fan’s dedication with new songs. That’s awesome, right? And yes, alright, Adult Braces is not their best material – I wonder if these were songs cut out of previous albums that they recorded for this EP, as I doubt they could have written these songs in such a short period of time – but honestly, nobody quite writes a chorus like No Trigger, and Holy Punks is probably the single greatest song about ageing as a punk rocker. But that doesn’t matter. No Trigger are back, baby.

You can stream Adult Braces here / Vinyl available via Bird Attack Records

1. Deep In A Hole by Such Gold

It scares me how much I liked this EP since the first time I listened to it. What genre do Such Gold play? Pop punk? Melodic Hardcore? Emo? Progressive Rock? Who cares?! Song after song, this EP does not cease to amaze you, taking you to places you weren’t expecting and you never knew you could love this much. I want these guys to come to the UK as soon as possible, I-WILL-NOT-MISS-THEM-LIVE-AT-ANY-COST.

You can stream Deep In A Hole here / Vinyl available via Lockjaw Records

Honourable mention: Direct Hit & Pears – Human Movement (technically a split album, which is kinda like a double EP, right?)

This end of year list was written by Jacopo Genovese.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Dan's Top Ten Albums of 2017

There are those amongst us that cry about there being no more good music. The type of person who won't look further than the radio or their local HMV will cry a river about the state of music and tell you how the art form is dead.

2017 however would beg to differ.

It has been such a bumper year for incredible new music from new bands, established acts and barn burning comebacks that I would hesitantly say it’s been the best in recent history. Whittling down a list to ten albums has never been more difficult for me and I shed a tear for those incredible albums that would have easily found a place any other year but this time lost out by shear weight of gold that has befallen us. Therefore I caveat this entire list before announcing it by saying “yes I agree, [x] album is also incredible but alas I only have the ten spots”.

10. Wolves by Rise Against

Rise Against are a band that I loved dearly for a significant period of time and then I felt lost their way. This is often the way for incredibly popular bands but 2017's Wolves is a great listen and the first RA album that I’ve really enjoyed since 2011's Endgame.

9. Stealing The Covers by Teenage Bottlerocket

Incredible compilations could have taken their own list this year. One of the best has been War On Errorism II which came out recently and on it featured a song from TBR that I hadn’t heard before. A friend then quickly directed me to Stealing The Covers which is as perfect a covers album as could be made. You have no need to know the songs as the Bottlerocket boys make every one their own and it’s a joy from start to finish.

8. PokéJon by Jonathan Young

I listen to a lot of Pokémon covers on YouTube. Enough that I can honestly say that this album full of Pokémon covers is definitely the best of the lot. For what is essentially a joke created by one guy in his basement, it’s incredibly well produced and fun to listen to whether you like this sort of thing ironically or joyously. The Pokérap is particularly excellent.

7. Harvest by F.O.D

Of the category “mainland European bands that don’t play particularly original music but pay incredible homage to established genres” there has actually been several great entries but F.O.D are surely the undisputed kings. Songs that are at once totally their own and perfect amalgamations of the best bands of 90s skate punk, this is an album that stands apart by virtue of being the most Bad Religiony of the crew and just having phenomenal vocals.

6. Victory Lap by Propagandhi

Having the first Propagandhi album in 5 years come in at number 6 on this list should be in no way a smear on the quality of this album and instead show just how incredible the quality of musical releases has been this year. The kings of Melodic Hardcore bring to the fore once more their furious brand of progressive rock mixed in with almost metal riffage and fierce political observation. A band that has never put a foot wrong in a 25 year career show that they’ve still got it and always will.

5. Sex Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics by Eat The Evidence

Eat The Evidence picks up the coveted “needed a kickstarter to fund my album and it actually happened” award this year. Trying to rely on the support of fans to pay for something of this magnitude is always a difficult task and this is one of a handful of albums I’ve seen successfully made this way. People who backed the album were thankfully treated to an outstanding second wave ska experience that is unlike absolutely everything else around them. Well crafted, infinitely fun and technically brilliant, Sex Drugs and Wishy Washy Politics is be best thing to come out of West London since Andy Serkis.

4. Troublemaker by Rancid

I’m the first to admit when I’m wrong. And with Troublemaker I was wrong. When this album was released I still had a pretty sour taste in my mouth from Honor Is All We Know and I instantly dismissed this new offering as the work of a washed up bunch of geezers cashing in a check. Instead, after forcing a listen for the sake of my Tim Armstrong tattoo, I found to my amazement easily one of the best Rancid albums of this millennium. With a varied and interesting track list, catchy tunes and the kind of Rancid charm that is thankfully back after too long away, we’re treated to the kind of album that you’d happily patch up your cut off denim jacket with. And what else matters when you’re a Rancid fan?

3. Broadcasting To The Nations by Authority Zero

Oh Dan you have two Bird Attack records in your top three!! You’re damn right I do. Bird Attack Records are exclusively dealing in what my brain considers the greatest music on the planet right now and they sure do know how to pick them. Broadcasting is now the go to Authority Zero album when people want to know what’s the greatest they’ve made. From start to finish this album is a (revolution) riot and it was one of the hardest albums I found to put down all year. Full to the brim with skate punk, ska, reggae and Jason DeVore’s heaven sent vocals, there’s not a second of this album that doesn’t scream “instant classic”.

2. Bonsai Mammoth by Darko

Right at the beginning of the year this beauty fell into my lap and back then I knew that something truly spectacular would have to happen to knock this off the top spot. I don’t think it’s too controversial a statement to say that Darko sit on a crown as the kings of the UK Melodic Hardcore scene, a scene stacked with incredible talent. Bonsai Mammoth is the full length that fans have been dying for and it delivers on every note. It’s blisteringly fast, mind-blowingly technical and raw as all fucking hell but never overbearing, always fun and sticks in the mind like glue.

1. The Knife by Goldfinger

So as I said, something truly spectacular would have to happen for Bonsai Mammoth to not be in first place. That spectacular feat was accomplished by the legendary Jon Feldman and his amazing band of hyper-talented friends. Or Goldfinger as they went by on The Knife. This album is my childhood in a nutshell and it’s not only the best Goldfinger have to offer but it is also blessed by other superstar members such as MxPx's Mike Herrera and Blink-182's Travis Barker. They allow their own styles to bleed into the songs too so that I also get Blink-esque songs better that anything the actual band have cobbled together this year and tracks that could be straight out of the MxPx albums I’ve been waiting five years to appear. I love every song on this album and struggled to review anything after it came out because I just couldn’t seem to get it off my stereo and still can’t. This is a masterclass in how to create the ever popular “been away for a while but I’m back and tracing my style back to our roots” style of punk album that seems to be a major staple these days.

This end of year list was written by Dan Peters.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Robyn's Top Ten Albums of 2017

I realise that absolutely everyone is going to say this, but it really has been a fantastic year for music. It felt like every few weeks there was another album to get excited about, and I listened to more new music than ever this year (shout out to Colin for being that wonderful person who gives really great music recommendations, and to everyone at CPRW for a great year of writing and talking about music!) When putting together this list, I included the albums I kept coming back to throughout this year. The ones that stuck with me and from which I couldn’t bear to be parted.

10. Seafoam by Kamikaze Girls

As I shamelessly confessed in my review of this album, I was drawn to Seafoam primarily because of its gorgeous album art. This may have been the shallow lure that pulled me in, but it’s the dark and vibrant melodies – biting and broody at times – that really captured me. I think the album works best together as a whole, but I would occasionally come back just to listen to ‘Berlin’, ‘Teenage Feelings’ and ‘Deathcap’. This is a fantastic first full-length from Kamikaze Girls and I can’t wait to see what the band do next.

9. Inviting Light by The Flatliners

It’s hardly surprising that the new Flatliners album is on my list, since the Flats are probably my all-time favourite band (if such a thing could ever exist). Although many fans didn’t enjoy this album as much as the band’s earlier material, I love the glowing and luxurious melodies on Inviting Light. The songs are beautifully crafted and characterise some fantastic developments in the Flatliners’ sound.

8. The Knife by Goldfinger

This is a little gem of an album, boasting an amazing collaboration between the pop punk royalty of Mike Herrera, Travis Barker, Philip Sneed and, of course, John Feldmann. It quickly became one of my go-to running albums because every song is so fun and catchy, and I never found myself getting bored with it halfway through. The album is equal parts nostalgic and new, and really delivers on the SoCal pop punk sound than many of us grew up on.

7. Unfrightened by Hateful Monday

I’m sad to say that I’d never heard Hateful Monday until one fine day when Colin suggested their new album to me. Unfrightened immediately grabs your attention with a fantastic song about the joy of being a ‘punk rocker’ and listening to music that makes you feel alive. The album doesn’t let up after this, delivering some really outstanding melodic punk jams. One of my best finds this year.

6. Outsider by Comeback Kid

I really enjoy Comeback Kid’s brand of hardcore punk, and I think they’re definitely one of the best live acts that has ever come to South Africa, but I didn’t really get into their previous album Die Knowing. Outsider promised so much leading up to its release, with three great singles and some awesome collaboration with other Canadian artists, but it could still have fallen down as a full album. Thankfully, the band delivered a deliciously heavy record that I have been able to listen to again and again since it came out.

5. Survival Pop by Worriers

This new album from Worriers showcases some truly outstanding song writing, primarily from Lauren Denitzio. I love this album for the way in which it marries intense honesty and a willingness to explore difficult subject matter with a fun and engaging sound. Denitzio offers some perspective on problems and experiences that are not often dealt with in punk, like struggling with self-acceptance and discrimination. I found Survival Pop to be a welcome and joyful blast of fresh air.

4. Warriors by Bad Cop/Bad Cop

Warriors is an exuberant feminist powerhouse of an album, boasting three amazing vocalists and a ton of edgy hooks. What I really enjoy about this album is that it not only offers amazing feminist anthems like ‘Womanarchist’ and ‘I’m Done’, but that there are also songs which are much more raw and introspective like ‘Broken’ and ‘Amputations’. This is an album to get up to in the morning; an album to help you dust yourself off and start again; and, an album to make you feel happy and not so alone.

3. Victory Lap by Propagandhi

I am that rare thing: a punk fan who has not always been totally in love with Propagandhi. It’s strange, perhaps, but I’ve never really vibed with Propagandhi (at least, not in the way that everyone else has). That is, until now. Victory Lap will rightly feature on a ton of top ten album lists this year because it is so damn good. There was no possible way I could resist the amazing song writing on this album. Every track is stellar, but it’s probably ‘Adventures in Zoochosis’ that really stands out to me as a uniquely beautiful and stirring song.

2. Leonard by Deforesters

When I reviewed this first full-length album from Deforesters back in February, I loved it from the first listen and proceeded to gush about it and listen to it all year long. ‘The Topiary Animals are Telling Me to Do Terrible Things’ is my absolute jam, but the whole album is fantastic from beginning to end with lots of great hooks and rousing gang vocals. The guys in Deforesters also just seem like really lovely humans and I hope that some time in my life I’ll get to see Deforesters play live, because this record promises so much sing-along enjoyment.

1. After the Party by The Menzingers

I love early Menzingers and I love later Menzingers and everything in between. I was so damn excited for this album and it just gave me everything I wanted. I have literally sung along to this album in my car for days on end. It is perfection, and the only album I could have possibly chosen as my top pick for 2017. Not only are the songs pure Menzingers magic, beautifully combining narrative and emotion so that I find myself having all the feelings, they also work together as a cohesive meditation on life after the ‘party’ of your 20s and the reality of facing life after 30. As I contemplate the implications of my own 30th birthday, less than a month away, I need this album more than ever.

This end of year list was written by Robyn Pierce.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Emma's Top Five EPs and Top Ten Albums of 2017

This year I’ve decided to write about my top ‘releases’ of 2017 which means I’m including EPs as well as full-length albums in one post. I figured it wasn’t fair to disregard some of my favourite music from 2017 just because the releases consist of less songs – that and there’s been some awesome EPs released this year! Originally I was going to combine EPs and albums into one top ten… but I ended up going with Top Five EPs and Top Ten Albums. So, without further ado…

Top Five EPs of 2017

5. Living With. Being Without. by Paper Thin

Last year this Australian four-piece released one of my absolute favourite EPs of 2016, last year I didn’t include it on my end of year list because I only included full-length albums. This year I’m not making that mistake! Living With. Being Without. is four tracks of emotional pop punk with some sweet melodies and lyrics that are at times self-deprecating but at others honest and hopeful. This band hasn’t released a full album yet but I certainly cannot wait for when they do.
Favourite song: London

4. Fyah by Easydread

Easydread are a 7-piece reggae-rock band who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing play live loads of times over the past year or so. They are pretty local to where Colin and I live, also being located in Bedfordshire, and we’ve seen them as support for the likes of The Toasters, [Spunge] and New Town Kings. When Fyah, a five track EP, was released on Bandcamp in February I already knew all the songs from seeing them played live. These are catchy, entertaining and danceable tracks by some super talented musicians. I am particularly fond of The Wake Of You and often find myself singing ‘The water’s choppy…’ in my head whilst swimming.
Favourite song: The Wake Of You

3. Don’t Get It by Empty Lungs

This is only a three track release and I have listened to these three song SO MUCH this year. They are each brilliant in their own way but the lead song, Don’t Get It, absolutely blew me away the first time I heard it. The other two tracks are also great with some amazing lyrical content. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch Empty Lungs live this year (nor have I seen them at all in previous years) so I really hope I get to see them next year – and maybe they’ll have a full-length album in tow!
Favourite song: Don’t Get It

2. Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike by Rebuilder

This EP came out of nowhere for me and ended up being the single release that got me the most excited in such a short space of time – especially considering I had never heard of the band before. I was so excited and so in awe of what I heard that I sat down to review these six tracks the day after first hearing them. I can’t even really sum up what it was that hooked me, Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike is just awesome. Rebuilder are simply awesome. My absolute favourite new band discovery of the year without a doubt. I can’t wait to see them live! (ps. Please come to the UK, Rebuilder.)
Favourite song: The World Is An Asshole

1. Alterations by The Burnt Tapes

Yep. The Burnt Tapes. We love The Burnt Tapes at Colin’s Punk Rock World (and not just because one of our members happens to be in the band). They are the band I (and I guess Colin as well) have seen live the most times this year and for good reason – they are bloody incredible. I had Alterations, which is six tracks, in my car for months and happily sung along with it every day on the way to work. The lyrics, the melodies… the band members themselves are lovely chaps too. The Burnt Tapes are destined for greatness.
Favourite song: Wayne Regretzky

Top Ten Albums of 2017

10. More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me by The Smith Street Band

The Smith Street Band are one of my absolute favourite bands and in 2017 Colin and I went to three of the dates of their July tour. Despite this, their fourth album did take me quite a few listens to get into and that’s probably why this appears at number 10 rather than higher up the list. Number 10 or not, there are some amazing songs on this album. My favourite is still the first I heard, Death To The Lads, but Forrest, Passiona and Run Into The World (featuring Laura Stevenson) are wonderful too. I think the lyrics on this album seem even more personal to their author, Wil Wagner, than previous releases so kudos to the band for being that brave.
Favourite song: Death To The Lads

9. You Can’t Stay Here by Iron Chic

At the time of writing this Top Ten Albums Of 2017, I have recently read Richard’s review of You Can’t Stay Here. He talks in depth about how good this album is so I will leave you to check that out for all the finer details. What I will say is that I found this album to take Iron Chic on a slightly different path to what I expected them to with album number three, by which I mean this album doesn’t sound quite the same as the previous two. I love the classic sounding tracks on this album but I also like the surprising slower paced ones that are interspersed. I am looking forward to hearing these live at Manchester Punk Festival 2018!
Favourite song: My Best Friend (Is a Nihilist)

8. Responsibilities by A Great Notion

This was one of those albums that I knew I’d like based on the fact that I knew this was a gravelly-vocaled punk band with a bit of a folky influence to boot. Yet Responsibilities actually managed to exceed my expectations. This album is the perfect combination of gruff punk melodies and warm Americana-influenced tones that well and truly succeeded in getting my head nodding and feet tapping. It was also louder in volume than I was expecting, with only one acoustic track. Not that I dislike acoustic-based music by any stretch of the imagination, but the bigger sound was pleasant surprise!
Favourite song: Whiskey & Blood

7. Warriors by Bad Cop, Bad Cop

This is another album that one of my fellow CPRW writer’s reviewed for the blog and, in this case, it was Robyn’s recommendation that made me want to listen to the album for the first time. I had not listened to Bad Cop, Cad Cop previously although I had heard the name. It didn’t take too long for me to be hooked. It’s the perfect combination of pop punk melodies and catchiness with plenty of hit-you-in-the-face moments too. The overall feeling I got from listening to this album the first few times was empowerment. The term ‘feminist’ gets thrown around a lot today but I don’t think that should ever be a negative thing. 
Favourite song: Womanarchist

6. Never Settle by Hope In High Water

If you’ve read any of my album reviews previously – or glanced down at some of the other bands on this list – then you probably know I am a massive fan of a bit of folk with my punk. However Never Settle is a bit of an odd one because I will be the first to admit that this is not a punk album at all. The duo is formed of two people who have previously been a part of the punk scene but if you didn’t know that then the word ‘punk’ wouldn’t cross your mind when listening to this album. However genre is beside the point when it comes to why this album made my list – the songs are equal parts beautiful, raw, heartbreaking, uplifting and inspiring. It’s just lovely really.
Favourite song: Who’s Gonna Hold Your Hand

5. As The Tide Turns by Matilda’s Scoundrels

This was one of my highly anticipated albums of 2017 and I was so excited when Colin got sent an early copy – then let me do the honours of reviewing it. I loved Matilda’s Scoundrels’ previous EP releases, as well as their live shows, so this was bound to be love at first listen too. The album wasn’t quite what I expected, as it was a bit angrier and heavier than previous tracks, but it showed progression. Thinking about it now, although I’m not sure I specifically said this in my original review, As The Tide Turns perfectly captures the rowdy energy of the band’s live show – and what’s not to love about that?
Favourite song: God Forsaken Sea

4. Bury Me In Philly by Dave Hause

I feel like I was waiting for Dave Hause to release his third solo album forever. Needless to say, because of this, I eagerly listened to Bury Me In Philly as soon as I could – ahead of its release date on a live stream I believe. It turned out that this album was worth the wait. It was simply wonderful. The album has a fuller and generally happier sound than his previous two and in my review of it I compared him to Bruce Springsteen. This statement still stands. I’m a big fan of both. I was also pretty chuffed to see Dave Hause and his full band, The Mermaid, live this year – this album sounds great live as well.
Favourite song: My Mistake

3. After The Party by The Menzingers

After The Party is not On The Impossible Past but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I really liked this album on my first listen. On the one hand, The Menzingers are one of my absolute favourite bands so I was bound to like whatever they did but, on the other hand, what if I didn’t? The title track has got to be my song of the year – I’ve probably listened to it more than any other. Plus there’s a lot of other really great songs on this album with plenty of relatable themes like getting older as well as the big old Menzos singalongs we all crave. And it’s probably for the best that it’s not just another On The Impossible Past as that would be pretty boring. After The Party was released in February and I’m not a bit bored yet.
Favourite song: After The Party

2. Foreign Skies by The Dreadnoughts

This is latest addition to my Top Ten Releases of 2017 as it was only released in November but it sure is an awesome album – or, to quote my original review, an epic album. I have found it so, so hard not to put Foreign Skies as my number one album. Maybe if it was released earlier in 2017, and I had listened to it a hundred more times, it might have pushed the next album off the top but for now I’m placing The Dreadnoughts at number two. This album cemented the band as my absolute favourite of the folk punk genre. I rave enough in my actual album review about how great this is – read that.
Favourite song: Foreign Skies

1. Come Undone by Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders

Lincoln Le Fevre is my favourite Australian songwriter (sorry, Wil Wagner) and this year he released a full-band follow up to 2012’s solo release, Resonation. I reviewed this album in September, two months after it was actually released because life got in the way, and since then I have loved it more and more with each and every listen – and I was pretty complimentary to begin with in my review anyway. You know when an album just gives you ‘all the feels’? Well, that’s what Come Undone does for me every single time I hear it. I can feel it right now just thinking about it, so I’m going to put it on right now – that’s what makes an album Emma’s number one release of the year.
Favourite song: Constellations

Thanks for reading! I made a Spotify playlist of my 15 favourite tracks from these 5 EPs and 10 albums – listen here!

This end of year list was written by Emma Prew.