Saturday, 31 March 2018

Album Review: Desire Paths by Turnspit (by Richard Mair)

I remember hearing The Gaslight Anthem’s “Sink or Swim” for the first time. I was in the lounge ironing (how rock and roll) and it stopped me in my tracks. For the next few months I listened to nothing else; living and breathing their nostalgia filled, Americana tinged folky punk world. This is the closest comparison I can draw for Desire Paths; the debut album by Chicago’s Turnspit both in terms of its quality and sound. The band were already a staple of the Mair household on the back of two excellent EPs (their debut 2015 release “I Wonder if They are Happy” and 2016 split single with Holy Mess troubadour Steve O and his crippling Addictions), with their combination of modern, lyrical storytelling (“Watching the Lightning”) or angsty, personal and introspective tunes (“To The Moon and Back”) meaning they’ve more than filled the hole left by Brain Fallon and Co. whilst they enjoy their hiatus. Consequently a full length by the Chicago natives was definitely on the most wanted list…

For existing fans “Desire Paths” picks up exactly where you’d hope; full of sing-a-long songs, heart-on-sleeve emotion and excellent lyrical storytelling that is both highly personal and challenging but also fun and always engaging.

First track “Irish Name” is amazing. It showcases Gillian McGhee’s gritty and aggressive Chuck Ragan meets Kylie Lotz emotionally vulnerable voice perfectly; capable of switching from subtle and soft to loud and raspy. If your first introduction to the band is this track you’ll easily be won over! A catchy tune with instantly infectious and sing-a-long lyrics; it’s safe to assume this will sound epic, and most likely be a ton of fun, in a live setting. It’s pretty much a relentless song complete with a fun little guitar solo, gang vocal breakdown and who-whoas. It’s an easy song to put on repeat (again and again)!

This approach also works well on “Walk Away”, a great rocking, vocal driven song with another epic sing-a-long chorus that also plays to second vocalist Jason Swearengin’s voice providing some depth and an extra layer when needed in the background. Again the little guitar flourishes help differentiate them from other bands. It also showcases their collective abilities as songwriters to compose and structure songs to have a broader appeal to a more rock audience, in the same way The Gaslight Anthem, or more recently The Menzingers, have been able to transcend rigid scene boundaries.

Their ability to write anthemic feel good songs that make your hair stand on end is truly the preserve of a few exceptional bands. Yet the maturity and craft on display is startling; for example using a string accompaniment in Invisible, adds a melancholic layer that would have been missing if it had been purely acoustic. The bare, personal emotion within “Skin” and “Breath Taking” also demonstrate the confidence of the band. “Breath Taking” deals with Jason’s sexual identity and subsequent liberation through a brilliant modern-era Hot Water Music approach, whilst “Skin” is brutal, uncomfortable and uncompromising. Over recent years we’ve seen an increasing visibility of abuse, sexual misconduct and other behaviours that contradict the values we as a scene profess to uphold, particularly around the scene’s views towards women; anyone still unsure on why it’s important these issues are addressed needs to listen to this song. Absolute props need to be sent to Gillian for such a challenging song; yet behind it all (as with many of the other songs on Desire Paths) there is an inherent resilience and positivity; marking their political and social awareness out above many of the peers.

In terms of standouts “Apologies I Have So Many” is stunning, with a chorus that warrants everyone singing in unison. It’s a great Menzingers style punk rock song; fast, full of melody and insanely catchy, making use of the duel vocalists in the best way possible and will undoubtedly put a smile on your face. “Home is Run No More” is another song where the back and forth vocals work so well and within its frantic, chaotic delivery hides a real pop punk gem. “Taproom” is a more straightforward rock song, with Gillian’s range on full display moving from gritty to soulful. Like the best of the Gaslight Anthem, it’s just a great story-tellers song. Meanwhile “Midsentence” draws on that brilliant Midwestern vibe with a gorgeous guitar line and Gillian providing a gentle backing vocal to Jason’s all out blast.

Production wise the album is also stunning; clean and crisp picking up on all the subtlety and depth within the songs. In true DIY fashion, the production was handled by drummer Dan Tinkler, who lays one of the best beats I’ve heard in ages to drive the opening of closing track “If It Meant Heaven…”. To suggest the whole band is on top of their game would be an understatement!

There are a couple of slower acoustic numbers breaking the album up slightly, although not the flow. The aforementioned “Invisible” is a great set up for the final track clocking in at under 2 minutes and is an atmospheric Petal-esque tune, whilst “Given” wouldn’t be lost amongst folk punks finest at the Revival Tour, that sounds like Jason is having the time of his life with.

For a debut album, Desire Paths has well and truly exceeded any expectations. It’s the kind of album you’ll instantly fall in love with and find yourself telling other people to listen to it with almost as much passion as the band spent crafting it. Over the years Chicago has been home to many vital bands within the punk scene from The Lawrence Arms to Alkaline Trio. Turnspit are the latest band to join that list!

Stream Desire Paths here.

Like Turnspit here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Friday, 30 March 2018

CPRW Playlist: March 2018

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

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Bands To See At Manchester Punk Festival 2018

In just three weeks it will be time for Manchester Punk Festival. For me, personally, it's my favourite event of the entire year. This year is the fourth edition of the festival and it continues to grow and grow. The line up this year is its biggest yet with over ninety incredible bands coming together from all other the world. Obviously that is far too many for us to write about every band. Instead myself, Emma and a combined effort from Robyn and her fiancé Brett (who are coming all of the way from South Africa to Manchester as part of their pre-wedding honeymoon!) have each picked ten bands that we're really looking forward to seeing. We do love a top ten at CPRW! Here are my ten picks for bands to see at Manchester Punk Festival 2018.

No Matter (Thursday at Rebellion 19.00–19.30)
The task of opening the entire festival falls to Northern Irish pop punks No Matter. The male/female band's music is full of infectious energy that is guaranteed to get the weekend long party, known as MPF, started with a bang. Since forming, No Matter have forged a real name for themselves within the UK punk scene and their 2016 Umlaut Records release Ill Advised drew a massive amount of critical praise. If, like me, you've yet to see No Matter live make sure you get yourself to Rebellion early!

Random Hand (Thursday at The Bread Shed 22.40–23.25)
As the line up for MPF began to take shape there weren't many bands that had me more excited than the announcement of Random Hand. Random Hand are legends of the UK punk scene, having toured relentlessly from their inception in the early 2000s until they decided to go on hiatus in 2015. Now, after a two and a half year break, the band are back. The Yorkshire based four piece are ready to put on a show like only they can. High energy, crunching guitar, pounding drums, irresistible trombones and big sing-a-longs will be the order of the day here… and a lot of crazy skanking in the pit!

The Raging Nathans (Friday at Rebellion 17.15–17.45)
As Manchester Punk Festival has grown, more and more international bands have been joining the hard working UK bands who play the festival. This year's festival welcomes Ohio pop punks The Raging Nathans. I first became aware of them in the build up to The Fest 2016 but didn't really give them much of a listen until last year and thought they were brilliant! When it was announced that The Raging Nathans would be at MPF I was stoked and immediately put them down as a must see – I'm not missing out again like I did at Fest. Their newest album Cheap Fame is one of my favourites of the year. This is going to be a memorable set.

The Bennies (Friday at The Bread Shed 18.05–18.40)
Australian party machines The Bennies are bringing their own eclectic style to MPF for the first time. Mashing up punk, ska, reggae, dance, electronica, death metal and everything in between to create a style that's completely their own and completely The Bennies. The four piece are one of the best live bands I've seen during the last few years and have blown me away every single time. Whether it's at a club show or in a smaller pub setting, The Bennies always bring it live. The band released a brand new album titled Natural Born Chillers (check out our review here) and I'm really looking forward to checking out those songs live.

Stand Out Riot (Friday at The Bread Shed 19.00–19.35)
Continuing the party after The Bennies set are Manchester's very own, Stand Out Riot. Playing only their second show together since the first MPF back in 2015, Stand Out Riot's set is going to be one that is hugely anticipated by many. This six piece ska-punk-gypsy band fill out all of their songs with an incredible energy that will get the entire Bread Shed moving. Stand Out Riot were one of the highlights of MPF 2015 and I fully expect them to top that performance this year. Hopefully it won't be so long between seeing them again.

Lightyear (Friday at Gorilla 21.00–22.00)
One big theme of the MPF 2018 line up is returning ska punk heroes. One of my all time favourite bands, Lightyear, returned to the scene last year and put together an incredible tour that drew positive praise from everyone who saw it. Their set at the Garage in London was one of my favourites of the entire year. Their inclusion on the MPF line up for 2018 was no great surprise for me but still had me punching in the air and shouting "yes!" in excitement. If you've not experienced a Lightyear live show before prepare to be entertained in a way that you never have before. For long time fans I'm sure we can expect some new material from the band as well as all the old favourites.

Goodbye Blue Monday (Saturday at The Bread Shed 16.10–16.40)
Of all the bands I've not seen before at MPF Goodbye Blue Monday are probably the one I'm most looking forward to seeing. After being sent their latest EP The Sickness, The Shame earlier in the year I've become hooked on this band. Influenced by bands such as Iron Chic, The Menzingers and Dead To Me, Goodbye Blue Monday play superb misery punk rock which is perfect for shouting along too. I feel like this could be one of those sets where I can say "I was there when they made their first appearance at MPF" because this band are destined for big, big things. They've also just finished recording a new EP so perhaps some of those tunes will get an airing at The Bread Shed too.

Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man (Saturday at The Bread Shed 18.45–19.25)
This will be (for the foreseeable future at least) be Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man's last ever Manchester Punk Festival appearance. Really that's enough of a reason to go see them without any other explanation. ROTPM are responsible for one of my personal favourite performances in the entire history of MPF when they opened the after party of MPF 2016 at Zoo (The Bread Shed's former name) and things just went absolutely crazy. Playing stupidly fast thrash punk rock with plenty of songs about booze and partying, Revenge are a big part of what makes MPF so great and not just because they are a part of the organising collective. Be sure to catch them play THEIR festival one last time and show them why they will be hugely missed. I also look forward to seeing the biggest human pyramid of the entire festival during their set.

The Copyrights (Saturday at Gorilla 18.55–19.35)
The 6.30-7.30pm slot on the Saturday of the festival provided the biggest clash of the entire MPF weekend for me. Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Counterpunch and The Copyrights are all playing at that time! Revenge playing their final MPF show is what swung my decision on who to see, plus the fact that The Copyrights are playing at the New Cross Inn in South London the following week. I do want to talk about The Copyrights a bit here though. They're one of the best pop punk bands to come out of the USA in the past decade or so and have put out so many consistently fantastic records during their career. Rather insanely this will be their first time playing in the UK after all these years and will definitely be worth the wait. Expect the best anthemic buzzsaw pop punk set of the entire weekend.

Uniforms (Saturday at The Bread Shed 01.20–01.50)
Closing the whole festival will be Scottish cow punks Uniforms. I've been waiting three years to see Uniforms after missing what, at the time, was their final show at Book Yer Ane Fest IX due to a Mega Bus and bad traffic. So imagine my excitement when the recently reformed band were added to the MPF announcement! I am going to have to power through an entire festival to see them but they are a band I definitely will not be missing. I love their gruff melodic punk rock that's full of deep and insightful lyrics. Uniforms are going to finish Manchester Punk Festival 2018 with a massive fist in the air sing-a-long for those punk rockers with plenty of stamina (and/or stubbornness) who manage to make it to the end.

Normally I'd add a you can buy tickets for Manchester Punk Festival here link but it's already sold out! So can we just get it started already, please?

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Album Review: Crooked Shadows by Dashboard Confessional (by Dan Peters)

In the early 2000s, emo/pop punk was ruling supreme. Bands like The Ataris and Jimmy Eat World could do no wrong and on a pedestal all of his own stood one beautiful man with sleeves of tattoos and the voice of an heartbroken angel. Chris Carrabba stood alone with an acoustic guitar and a bared soul and cemented himself as one of the leading authorities on the genre. When the mid 2000s came along they faded into pop rock obscurity with the less than critically acclaimed Dusk and Summer and then they fell off my radar.

Now, nine years after they last put out a record, the brand new album Crooked Shadows has magically appeared on Spotify. Dashboard are a band that got me through many a tough time and heartache as a teen and young adult so I’m extremely curious to see if they recaptured that MTV Unplugged era quality or if this is just an ash can record.

‘Grower’ is how I think I’d adequately describe this album. On first try, standout tracks like the opening We Fight, Heart Beat Here and Open My Eyes (with guest instrumentation by the excellent Lindsay Stirling of YouTube fame) struck the chords I was hoping this would hit and sound classically Dashboard enough for me to instantly like it. The rest of the album I felt was too poppy, reminded me a little of The Killers and soured the overall experience for me. I could say that and end this review right here but then a funny thing happened to me. I picked the album up again. And again and again and now it’s been on constant rotation for about a week. I still think it’s incredibly poppy, and if you couldn’t ever stand the extreme end of the emo pop punk spectrum there is nothing here to win you over, but if you’re the kind of person still wearing their Jimmy Eat World tee with pride then maybe this album will creep up on you too.

As I mentioned, We Fight, Heart Beat Here and Open My Eyes are more in a classic Dashboard vein. The latter of the two being very acoustically focused and soulful. The former being a Mark, Mission, Brand, Scar era full band affair which is breathy and serious, building to a shouty crescendo in the chorus.

Other tracks on the album like Catch You and About Us are much more standard poppy fare and initially just served as a bridge between the songs I preferred but eventually I found enjoyable in their own right. Not everything hits home and there are tunes like the title track that fall a little flat and are forgettable. All in all it’s a mixed bag, with enough for me to enjoy as a background album but it’s not the triumphant return to form that other bands have enjoyed recently – which I’m fully willing to admit is in large part due to the high regard teenage me holds the band. If you liked most of their newer stuff then you’ll probably enjoy everything on offer but if you live in those golden years then it might be more of a test on your love for them.

All in all not a bad album and definitely something worth some attention especially if you’re previously a fan. But if your tastes in punk can’t push into the poppiest side of the emo spectrum then avoid at all costs, there’s nothing for you here.

Like Dashboard Confessional here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Album Review: Loose Ends by Rhys Kirkman (by Emma Prew)

Rhys Kirkman is a Bedfordshire based musician, sometimes solo acoustic and sometimes accompanied by a band. Being Bedfordshire based myself, it probably comes as no great surprise for me to say I discovered Rhys after seeing him play live locally. I liked his songs the first time I saw him play live, I felt suitably familiar with them the second time I saw him play and by the third time I even knew some of the words. So when Loose Ends, a 4 track EP, was released in February I thought it only right that I write a review.

Loose Ends kicks off with My iPhone Is Ruining My Life, one of my favourites from a Rhys Kirkman live set and I think you’ll soon understand why. This song manages to be both amusing and brutally honest as the lyrics talk about how we are all too glued to our mobile phones, technology and social media, etc. that we’ve lost track of what’s really important. The lyrics are simply brilliant – ‘Well since I got my iPhone I haven’t got a life, You’re supposed to use it to share things with your friends, Well since I got my iPhone I haven’t got any friends left, Won’t somebody get me a Nokia 3310.’ I particularly like that last line as it turns out I’m the same age as Rhys Kirkman and I too remember the Nokia 3310 fondly. The second track, Flat Pack Bad Back, is a love song of sorts but it is certainly not your typical soppy or cheesy love song. This is a down to earth song about building flat pack furniture for the one that you love so that you’ll have something new and functional to share in your home together. It’s sweet but also has that element of amusement that the first song had. However the most important message in the song lies towards the end when we realise that it’s not about furniture or other worldly possessions – ‘It was then I realised, That it wouldn’t matter, If we were sat on the floor, Because when I’m with you, Anything will do, And I couldn’t ask for anything more.’ Also, on a personal note, Colin has been known to build flat pack furniture by himself when I’m out so that it is ready for me to see when I get home. 

The most upbeat and carefree song of the EP is this next one, My Friend Jack. Starting out with a rhythmic guitar part that’ll have your head nodding and your toes tapping, Rhys soon launches into a story about his friend, named Jack of course, who has ‘got a proper job’ working in London. And, while Jack’s got a proper job, Rhys remains in his hometown and doesn’t work 9 to 5.‘Yeah my friend Jack’s got a proper job, He works all week with no time off, Down in the city with a suit and tie, But come the weekend he’s mine.’  My Friend Jack is about trying to stay in touch with childhood friends despite the different paths your lives take you on and being nostalgic about your past life together. This is something I’m sure almost everyone reading this can relate to. The last song of Loose Ends is a song that I’m not so familiar with as I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it played live before. Heartbroken is perhaps the slowest and most serious of the four songs on this album. The title might have you thinking this is going to be a song about a break-up or another form of romantic heartbreak but actually Heartbroken is about having your bubble burst when it comes to being young (or not so young as the case may be), smoking and drinking too much and just trying to have fun. ‘Maybe I can’t get away with it, Maybe I’m not that young, Maybe I can’t do the things I did when I was 21, Maybe instead of a couple of pints, I just have one.’ The song also questions whether you can enjoy drinking or smoking or whatever if you then make up for it by doing some exercise. Personally I don’t see exercise as being a punishment for doing ‘bad’ things but then I am an exercise addict! Either way, despite the somewhat sombre nature of this song, Heartbroken is really just about wanting to have fun and doing things that make you happy. Nothing wrong with that.

The versions of songs on Loose Ends are a little different to the purely acoustic versions that I’ve heard live as the EP features piano, drums and some lovely bits of bluesy electric guitar in places. I was expecting this EP to sound more demo-like but it doesn’t at all – the four songs have been refined and polished and all sound great.

Rhys Kirkman had this to say about the release of Loose Ends: ‘The EP is a small selection of acoustic songs from the last four years – I recorded them so that you can have something to listen to while you wait for my full band EP (out in May).’ So I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears peeled for that full band EP – maybe you should too.

Loose Ends is available on iTunes and Spotify (not Bandcamp, sadly) now and you can like Rhys Kirkman over on Facebook for updates on the forthcoming full band EP.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Album Review: Keep This Close by Invaluable

Invaluable are a four piece punk rock band from Virginia Beach. Influenced by the likes of Propagandhi, Converge, The Replacements, The Flatliners and Hot Water Music, Invaluable recently released a new EP named Keep This Close.

Keep This Close begins with the song A Beautiful Fucking Bird. Starting out with some dirty guitar feedback before a crashing, unforgiving start. This is raw punk rock music - no thrills just straight up aggression. In an era of punk rock where it's mostly melodic and technical, hearing this style is quite refreshing. Vocally again it's all about being raw - there is no autotune here, just real, angry passion. The second track, The Battle Of Virginia Beach starts out with some slow guitar and some cymbal beats before a pounding drumbeat ups the ante gradually. This is a slower paced song that really relies on the band's musicianship and songwriting skills. The song builds brilliantly, having you right on the edge of explosion before things really kick off. This track allows Invaluable's lead singer to show off an impressive voice that really steals the show on an excellent song.

Up next is I Came, I Saw, I Drank. On this song Invaluable make you believe that they are continuing with their brand of mid tempo punk rock and by this point of the EP I'm hooked on this band. The guitar work is beautifully simple at the start of the track and pulls you into the song tremendously. It's not long before some fast paced guitar and some machine gun like drums get the party going though. There's a maturity about this punk rock, sure there are hooks a'plenty and the chorus is instantly accessible, but there's also a feeling that this is punk rock by grown-ups for grown-ups. The fourth and final track is titled A Death, So Pale. At over five minutes long it's a bit of an epic but it really shows off exactly what I think Invaluable are all about. It features the softer, slower sections, the perfect builds and some raw intensity that just blows you away.

Keep This Close left me wanting more and more. Invaluable play a style of punk rock that we don't often hear anymore. The mix of old school and new works brilliantly and creates a sound that fans of all the different genres of punk rock will enjoy.

Stream and download Keep This Close here:

Like Invaluable here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Album Review: Singalong by Krang

European skate punk is certainly on a constant bearing of up currently. I'd argue that the skate punk scene in Europe is the biggest and most exciting in the world currently. One band flying the European skate punk flag high is Krang who come from Valasske Mezirici in the Czech Republic. On January 21st (my birthday incase you wanted to know), Krang released a brand new album named Singalong via Bird Attack Records and Melodic Punk Style.

Singalong begins with the song Life Is Like Mortal Kombat. I immediately like the nice little touch of the sound effect of a coin being inserted into an arcade game before we are treated to simple but energetic guitar opening. When the vocals start I'm quick to think of Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere and Great Collapse - excellent raspy and passionate vocals. The track is about what its title suggests, life being like Mortal Kombat. As the song progresses the band offer up metaphors as to reasons why they think this is the case. My favourite is "you have health and you have a timer, you fight for your life like a tiger, don't expect mercy from enemies." Up next is IDDQD. This forty-seven second track throws away the melodic sound of the opening track and instead travels at light speed throughout its duration. There is a great sense of urgency in the track and the passion that pours out of my speakers is infectious. IDDQD is the secret cheat code you can use in the video game Doom to give you god mode. On this song Krang sing of their dislike for people who use the code. The third song, King Of A Dancefloor, is Krang's request to their crowd, and all alternative music crowds, to look after each other in the pit and not be violent. I really loved this song. Not only is the message great but the song is written in such an interesting way. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into these lyrics to not only send out a positive message but also to entertain people. It's a shame that bands have to write songs asking for there to be no violence at a show but at least Krang have managed to write one is a style that will put smiles on people's faces.

No Fun In Fundamentalism is not a cover of the NOFX song. No, Krang have written their own song on the subject of Fundamentalism and used the same title. It's a message to fundamentalists who think it's okay to hurt people and start wars because of what it says in a book. This is another shorter, fast paced song that certainly falls into the adage of less is more, packing in its message as well as one hell of a punch in not much time at all. The fifth song is titled Zombies Should Be Slow. This song is essentially a rant about Zack Snyder's 2004 film Dawn Of The Dead saying that the zombies move too quickly. This melodic skate punk song is a lot of fun and quickly put a smile on my face. Hearing Strike Anywhere play passionate songs about the bad state the world that the world is in and then hearing Krang singing in a similar style about a zombie film did tickle me. Up next is I Ain't Got Time To Bleed. I think that this song is about not having any spare time because you are attempting to live your life to the fullest because ultimately we're not on this earth for very long. Krang have developed a trademark sound where each and every second of their music is just full up of more passion and energy than you can imagine. It's really hard not to get swept away with it all. If one song title stood out to me more than any other it was the seventh song, Indiana Jones Hates Nazis And Snakes. This is a hard hitting song about Nazis being scum. Krang have again gone down the route of addressing a serious issue whilst still entertaining their listeners with smart lyrics and smart pop culture references.

Better Dead Than Brown Or Red starts off with probably the best guitar work on Singalong. Musically this song really shows off Krang's skill with their instruments. Not only are they great lyricists but they can really slay. Better Dead Than Brown Or Red is one of the more urgent songs on the album, at times in the songs you can really feel the desperation in the vocals. The ninth song is named Fuck Fast Fashion and slams the consumerist culture that we live in. There is such anger in the song, you really get the sense that Krang really and truly believe exactly what they are singing. The backing vocals here and, to be honest, throughout the entirety of Singalong are superb. The higher pitched raspy vocal really accompanies the main vocalist splendidly. The penultimate track on Singalong is Kick Ass Or Chew Bubble Gum. On my first listen of the album this was definitely the standout track. Starting out with an audio clip from They Live (the film where the song's title is borrowed from) before launching into more of a hooky beginning, almost venturing into the realm of pop punk whilst maintaining their Krang sound. For people who are not fans of the melodic skate punk genre this is probably the most accessible song on the album and the gateway for you to discover what really is a fantastic album. And if this isn't the song that grabs you then the eleventh and final song definitely will. It's a cover of The Beatles' 1965 smash hit Help. Krang don't really stray too far from the Beatles original track but by speeding things up and singing in those brilliant gruff and raspy vocals whilst adding some brilliant harmonies, this is just a great cover and fun way to finish the album.

I know that it's only March but Singalong is already a strong contender for album of the year. If it doesn't place in my top ten at the end of the year then we know it's been another incredible year for punk rock music. Another fantastic release from the incredible European skate punk scene.

Stream and download Singalong here:

Like Krang here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Column: Without Punk Rock

Recently I've been thinking a lot about all of the different things that punk rock has given me. It's kind of crazy how this simple, everyman, play three chords on the guitar as fast as you can and shout along music has played such a big part in shaping the past fifteen years of my life. From the little things to the big life changing decisions, punk rock has played a massive part in everything. Here's a list of things (good and bad) that probably wouldn't have happened in my life without the best type of music ever.

I wouldn't have learnt it's okay to speak my mind.

I wouldn't have mastered the London Underground.

I wouldn't have been propositioned by an old gay gentleman in Brighton.

I wouldn't have gone on an 18 hour Mega Bus journey to Dundee.

I wouldn't have learnt about community.

I wouldn't know how to skank.

I wouldn't have seen the most disgusting thing I've ever seen.

I wouldn't have attempted and completed a fifty-two gigs in a year challenge.

I wouldn't have discovered a passion for writing.

I wouldn't have (hopefully) gotten better at writing.

I wouldn't have friends in awesome bands.

I wouldn't have many friends at all.

I wouldn't have been offered drugs and been told I'm a devil worshipper within five minutes of arriving in Brixton.

I wouldn't have eaten raw chicken.

I wouldn't have been on a plane.

I wouldn't have met Emma.

I wouldn't live in Bedford.

I wouldn't have just been told the most exciting news.

I wouldn't have friends in South Africa.

I wouldn't have been to Florida.

I wouldn't have been to Berlin.

I wouldn't know that The Ramones are the greatest band that ever existed.

I wouldn't have learnt about mental health.

I wouldn't have learnt that it's okay to be different.

I wouldn't have had songs dedicated to me.

I wouldn't have left my favourite t-shirt in a car park in Nottingham.

I wouldn't have a team.

I wouldn't have started CPRW.

You wouldn't be reading this post.

This is what I came up with in an hour. Have a think and leave some comments about the things in your life that wouldn't have happened without punk rock.

This column was written by Colin Clark.


Thanks to the incredible work of Be Sharp Promotions, Californian pop punk legends Goldfinger are playing a special show at the New Cross Inn before Slam Dunk Festival on Friday 25th May! This is incredible! Getting the opportunity to see a band like Goldfinger play a pub show is one not to be missed. Check out all the details you need below.

Go here for all of the details on Facebook.

Tickets go on sale on Monday 26th March at 10am on the New Cross Inn website here. Don't sleep on this, these will sell so quickly!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Top Tens: Holly of Kiss Me, Killer and Hell Hath No Fury Promotions Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Hey, I am Holly, front brat of Kiss Me, Killer and promoter at Hell Hath No Fury Promotions (Bristol, UK).

People often see me and immediately box my vocals and stage presence as a “Kathleen Hanna” Riot Grrrl type, which is a huge compliment. However, I didn’t come into this world screaming “girls to the front” as much as I would’ve loved too! So here is an honest insight of my top ten vocal/front person influences:

Davey Havok (AFI/Xtremist)
I absolutely adored AFI growing up, I saw them several times and adored Davey’s unique and distinctive vocals – going from Pop-Punk/Melodic notes to holding perfect screams for seconds on end. His ability to reinvent his style was always one I admired. I once got compared to Davey which was probably the best thing I have heard in my life.

Lou Koller (Sick of It All)
Lou has this amazing skill where he can execute Hardcore vocals flawlessly using just 50% projection when performing and I love his passion on stage. You can feel how much he loves music and his fans. I still melt when I meet him. Some of my lyrics are a direct nod to Lou and the gang.

Gwen Stefani (No Doubt)
Tragic Kingdom was always on repeat in my CD player when I was a teen, I knew and still know all the words. One of my first front woman idols. I loved Gwen’s style, I loved the way she came across as absolutely adorable yet likely to rip your head off – not to mention her vocal range is incredible.

Jamie Searle (Adequate 7)
Impending cringe fest – this is my big brother, I could not write my top ten influences without including him as I idolised him (still do) and often hear and see how much of an influence he is on my vocal and stage presence. Jamie also had a significant impact on my political and social views from a young age, thus influencing a lot of my lyrics and socialist shit posting.

Morgan Lander (Kittie)
Brackish was one of the first albums where it hit me that woman could sing and scream as well as, or better than, their male counterparts. I love the juxtaposition of being able to hold a note yet scream the house down in the next. Morgan wasn’t typically ‘femme’ back then either, which made me feel a lot more comfortable with myself as a teen.

Ray Cappo (Shelter/Youth of Today/Better than a Thousand)
Ray Cappo, what can I say? The creator of Krishnacore! Ray wasn’t afraid to sing about his beliefs, he was a pioneer of the straight edge scene and I have so much respect for that. I can listen to any song featuring or fronted by Ray and I immediately can tell it’s him by his distinctive voice. His vocal technicality is one I aspire to.

Brody Dalle (The Distillers)
I was late on the Distiller bandwagon. I think the first song I heard was stereotypically “City of Angels”. Everything about Brody blew me away – I envied her grit and gravel, her lyrical content and the way she performed on stage.

Zach de la Roche (Rage Against the Machine)
I was very much into politics and Rage Against the Machine taught me that anger about the injustices of the world could be penned down and released through song. With this, Zach also has an incredibly powerful stage presence and knows how to work a crowd.

Beastie Boys
Again following on from Rage, I loved the rap/metal/punk hybrid. I like singing fast and putting mini raps into our songs to mix it up, I like the challenge! I also enjoyed the lighter and fun vibe that the Beastie Boys portrayed. It’s a reminder that you can care about the world but you don’t have to be serious all the time.

Gorilla Biscuits were a huge musical influence on me growing up. CIV sings hard and fast (I’m sure you can see a pattern by now!) with a mixture of political and non political lyrical content. A fun fact is that CIV never wanted to sing at first and faced the wall when performing at gigs. At my first gig with KMK my eyes were to the ground (I have a thing about eye contact and suffer from social anxiety). I often briefly turn to face the back of the room mid set if I become overwhelmed. But I think to myself – if the legend that is CIV, who two years ago called out the bully security at a London show for acting like a police state at their gig, started off like that then I’m going to own it and work with it.

Check out Kiss Me, Killer here and Hell Hath No Fury Promotions here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Album Review: Not Enough by Teddy Westside (by Emma Prew)

Teddy Westside are an emo-driven punk band from Atlanta, Georgia formed by vocalists and guitarists Connor Smith and Dominick Maduri alongside a revolving cast of other musicians. On the 1st of February they released a four track EP titled Not Enough. The artwork and featured song grabbed my attention on Bandcamp and beckoned me to review it. So I did.

The EP opens with Chaplin and some melodic guitars that instantly have me hooked. The guitar melodies and deep bassline bring to mind The Menzingers and the song Good Things, which is never a bad thing in my book. There are also distinct elements of Spanish Love Songs – whom I also adore – but when the vocals start, they are more pop punk and less, err, whiney (sorry SLS, I mean whiney in a good way). Comparisons aside, this is pure heartfelt and honest emo punk. It’s super catchy and will have you nodding along, believing that this song is written about you – again, I mean that in a good way! – in no time at all. The chorus is top stuff – ‘And now I'm drinking by myself, You're probably out watching the game with somebody else, I’m feeling sorry for myself, And you got no one else to blame cause you're by yourself.’  My only one niggling fault with this song is that towards the end there are some shouts of ‘hey, hey, hey!’ and it makes me think of stadium ‘pop punk’. Opening with some huge sounding guitars and drums, the second song on Not Enough is called No Good. Teddy Westside sure are good at their opening guitar riffs! This song takes a bit of a slower pace than the first but what it doesn’t deliver in speed it makes up for with an element of anger. The vocals are also a little more rough around the edges and shouty. This does an excellent job of conveying emotion, as well as contrasting nicely with the sweet guitar parts. No Good is about running away from your problems, particularly if your problems are people. The chorus is just begging to be shouted along to – ‘This makes me, You make me, I make me, Want to run away.’  – in fact, I think that a second vocalist does just that. So now we just need the rest of the barroom to sing along. 

The sense of anger is retained for Santa Rosa, the third song of the EP. This time there is no melodic guitar introduction as the song kicks off with vocals immediately. The combination of shouty vocals and simple but boldy strummed chords has me enthusiastically nodding my head along right away – I guess what I’m saying is if I was the head-banging sort… The two different vocalists are more apparent in Santa Rosa, particularly when we get to the chorus – the lead vocal sings ‘Take me back’ and the backing vocals sing a different part. Those backing vocals are quieter however and I can’t quite make out what is being sung but, no worries, because it sounds great anyway. At only just over a minute long, we soon find ourselves at the end of the EP. The fourth and final song is the title track, Not Enough. This track sees the Teddy Westside sound get stripped back as it opens gently with just an acoustic guitar. When the vocals come in and the lines ‘You spoke to me for like the second time this week, And my ankles and my knees are getting weak.’ are sung I know that this is going to be a super sad song. Not Enough has a melancholic sense of longing to it as the lyrics tell the tale of an unrequited love and how the person at the heart of the story was never able to give enough – or receive it. This is certainly an emotional song but what really helps to emphasise this is when, after 2 and a half minutes, the full band sound returns. The song could have quite easily stayed acoustic but an increased volume ending is perfect.

Check out Teddy Westside if you’re a fan of The Menzingers or Spanish Love Songs and are partial to a sad song every now and again. You can pay what you want for Not Enough over on their Bandcamp page (or download it for free). And give the band a like on Facebook while you’re at it.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Album Review: Tropical Depression by Suburban Swamp Kids

Ska! I'm reviewing some ska today. I love ska. I don't ever listen to enough of it. Please send me more ska! Today I'm reviewing a seven song release EP by skacore act Suburban Swamp Kids from Hollywood, Florida. Titled Tropical Depression, it was released at the beginning of December 2017. Enough intro. I'm excited to get started on this!

Tropical Depression opens with the song Lost Cause. The track starts slowly with some soft guitar and a bit of brass before the song starts properly and we're treated to a scratchy vocal similar to what you might hear from skacore legends Against All Authority. Lost Cause is about wanting to be with someone who has a different sexuality to yourself. So it's sort of a new version of the Reel Big Fish classic She Has A Girlfriend Now. The brass sections on the song really stood out on my first listen and soon had me skanking around my living room. Jit Drunk is one of the more interesting songs I've heard recently. It starts out showing off the more hardcore side of Suburban Swamp Kids sound, with some rough and raw vocals. The pace is breathtaking and things just get more and more ferocious with the inclusion of some really primal screams. Then things calm down, the brass comes in and things turn into a party! When you use the term 'a wild ride' I feel like it was invented for songs like this. The third song is named Let Down and again starts slowly with a long bass solo before BAM! the fast and in your face hardcore punk brings the song to life. Soon enough things calm down and the song morphs into a melodic punk track before the horns come in again and we're skanking round the living room again. Suburban Swamp Kids do such a fantastic job of including their influences but never making it feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

If you're a fan of the Against All Authority, The Suicide Machines or even Destroy To Create era Flatliners you'll love the fourth song, Very Smart. For the first time on the EP, the band stick to one style and just excel. This is one of those great occasions where less is indeed more. The song is a political and socially aware one about searching for your own truths and not just believing what you are told. This is just a fantastic song from start to finish. It has me dancing throughout and when the chorus hits I just want to scream along until my throat is hoarse. Turn For Worse is a really angry political number, even the horns have a downtrodden sound to them. It's about being extremely frustrated (to say the least) with the state of country due to the people who are supposed to be in charge of looking after it - i.e. the government and the police. I think there's a hint of sombreness in the snarling vocals, as if he's in disbelief that this is still happening in 2017. Towards the end of the track it turns into a full on protest song with the band asking for people to stand up and help to make the important change. The penultimate song on Tropical Depression is titled Damaged Goods. This track is about dealing with addiction and not being able to help yourself because you think you are worthless. This is never the case. Once you get past the fast paced ferocity of the song it's actually really quite heartbreaking. Last up is Nude Dude, the song title that really stood out to me when I was checking out the track listing of the EP. Nude Dude is a really fun phrase to say. Go on, do it now, you'll enjoy it. This is an upbeat and positive song about being comfortable in your own skin. On this track Suburban Swamp Kids have somehow managed to combine 80s metal with ska to create a brilliantly uplifting sound that I would never have thought possible. This is such a good track to end the EP on.

I surprised myself by just how much I enjoyed Tropical Depression. I mean I do love ska and all of its different forms but I just didn't expect to fall in love with this as much as I did. Suburban Swamp Kids are a serious band who don't take themselves too seriously. The messages in the songs are important and need to be paid attention to but it's also so much fun. What an EP!

Stream and download Tropical Depression here:

Like Suburban Swamp Kids here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Album Review: The State Of It All by Paper Rifles

On Friday 2nd of March one of the albums I've most been looking forward to being released in 2018 was released. Edinburgh's Paper Rifles released their brand new full length album titled The State Of It All. The State Of It All is Paper Rifles first release as a full band after frontman Jon originally started out the project as an acoustic endeavour and has released a handful of superb EPs. When I first heard the album would be released full band this really added to my excitement for the release. The album features some older Paper Rifles songs that are given the full band treatment as well as some brand new tracks. Enough intro-ing, let's give The State Of It All a thorough listen.

The State Of It All begins with one of my favourite Paper Rifles songs - the awesome Politics. When those familiar lyrics "Every young man pins his colours to a mast" get the song started only with the backing of an electric guitar, rather than Jon's trusty acoustic, I expect the song to launch into a loud and fast paced version. Instead it's a more mid-tempo number with the added full band making the song sound huge. I think starting with this slower number was a bit of a masterstroke as it eases you into the new Paper Rifles sound rather than being too in-your-face too quickly. Four Hours is another big favourite of mine and I suspect many other people's. It was on the first single Paper Rifles released back in 2014 and has also featured on a split release with Billy Liar so it's no surprise to see it making an appearance of The State Of It All as well. Seeing the evolution of this track has been just wonderful. Acoustically the song is bursting with passion but this new full band version just explodes. This is the full blown punk rock track I first expected from Politics, at the start of the album, and I love it. The electric guitar, provided by Elk Gang's Kevin Cameron, sounds great and really brings an already lively song into another world. Jon's vocals have always been superb and remain so here, even adding a little snarl to them – it's punk rock, you need a little snarl. The rocking continues on the third song, Faith Healer, which was the first single released in support of the album. Jon's voice continues to grow and grow on the track with some angry shouts I wasn't aware he was capable of. The tempo is high and gives the song an excellent feeling or urgency. Despite the fast pace, the punchy style that the vocals are delivered in make the song so easy to sing and shout along to.

The fourth song is Ophelia. Ophelia is one of Paper Rifles' quieter acoustic songs so when I saw The State Of It All's tracklisting I was very interested to see how it would work full band. The song shows brilliantly the importance of having a great chorus – it doesn't matter how it's played, I just want to sing along with the song. I really enjoyed the opening of the song, giving me a sense of the Elk Gang influence that makes up 50% of Paper Rifles full band – Elk Gang's other guitarist, James Johnson, plays drums for Paper Rifles. No Tunnel Light is the first completely original song on the album. Listening to the song there is a real feeling that this song was written as a full band song originally rather than an acoustic song. I loved the tempo of the song and the melody is just wonderful. The track is about feeling at a loss with the world despite being past your twenties and wondering if this feeling will ever end. Much like Politics at the start of the album, It Always Rains In Scotland starts similarly to its acoustic counterpart. This Paper Rifles love song doesn't really stray too far from the structure of its original incarnation with the full band style giving the song a fuller and more rounded sound. The seventh song is Pennies For The Dead. This political song sees Paper Rifles at their angry best as they play a song about how war is about making a profit and not worrying about the loss of life for so many innocent people. This version of the song certainly has more passion than the original and gets its point across in a different way. The original version carries more of a thoughtful emotion in it whilst this full band version has a feeling of "we're angry, we've had enough, we're not taking this anymore."

Sharp Tongues is another brand new Paper Rifles song and it's bloody ace indie punk at its finest. It's a big anthem that's accessible for fans of punk rock as well as people of a more indie persuasion. If I was playing somebody Paper Rifles for the first time this is the perfect song to ease them in. From its excellent song structure, the way that the vocals are delivered in a way that make them so easy to sing along to or the simple "ooooooh" harmonies that get stuck in your head, you can't help but be pulled into the song. Bad Blood is the ninth song on The State Of It All. Not straying too far away from its original sound, the electric guitars are subtle for the most part during the song, eventually building towards a big and emotional finale. I like that the band haven't decided to play as hard and as fast as they possibly can just because this is a full band effort and, for the most part, the songs have remained true to their original forms. It feels more like a natural evolution rather than a reworking for the sake of reworking. The penultimate song Made To Break is the other song from Paper Rifles' debut single from 2014. The guitars at the beginning of the track give you the impression that this will be a fast paced, punk rock sing-a-long. Well it's definitely another sing-a-long but its goes along at a nice mid-tempo speed, this allows you to get really invested in the song. The band give a great sense of urgency throughout the opening of the song with a simple beat and melody accompanying Jon's excellent emotive vocals. The band also provide some fantastic backing vocals during the track. Last up is I Was A Whaler. Paper Rifles goes old school here with an acoustic song to finish the album. This style is what made me fall in love with Paper Rifles music so it's nice to hear that the acoustic sound hasn't gone completely. This song finishes The State Of It All with more incredible emotion with Jon really tugging on your heart strings during the track.

Like I said at the start of this review, I was really looking forward to hearing this album. Often there are times when eagerly anticipated albums leave you feeling a little disappointed. This certainly wasn't the case for The State Of It All. The old favourite songs sound absolutely incredible full band and the brand new songs are brilliant as well. This is coming from someone who has been following the Paper Rifles project from almost the very beginning and it's just been an absolute pleasure seeing it grow and grow and just get better and better. If you're not a Paper Rifles fan yet, get listening to this album and you soon will be!

Stream and download The State Of It All here:

Like Paper Rifles here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Album Review: Only Strangers by Only Strangers (by Richard Mair)

Stoke-on-Trent. Home of Josiah Wedgewood, long ball football and a monkey forest... Genuinely that's as exciting as Stoke gets. As a Staffordshire native I'm allowed to say this about the sleepy Midlands city; it's certainly not somewhere one would instantly think of as a hotbed of punk rock. Challenging this view is the debut album by Only Strangers which is most likely to breathe more life into the city than the old pottery towers of its industrial heyday.

Currently the UK punk scene is experiencing something of a gruff punk renaissance. Last year’s self-titled album by the Run-Up was easily a personal highlight and this first album by Only Strangers is already kicking 2018 off in the way 2017 finished. Despite its short run time, each and every song has something to really enjoy, from the excellent vocal deliveries of Declan O'Reilly and Adam Gater; wearing their influences on their sleeves it's easy to suggest one opts for a Chuck Ragan howl and the other a more melodic approach akin to Chris Wollard. Perhaps not as technical as the Gainesville heavyweights on their own debut, Only Strangers offer up an excellent take on the genre; in addition to the aforementioned The Run Up, if you are a fan of Iron Chic, The Menzingers, Worship This! or Red City Radio you'll instantly be at home.

Kicking things off is "The Last Time", wasting little time with an introduction hits home like Joe DiMaggio and is a clear statement of what to expect across the next 30 minutes. Given this is a debut, the maturity and skill with which this opener is composed is truly astounding and shows a brilliant level of confidence (and competence) to pull off, with excellently layered vocals, guitar work and drumming. It's an easy song to get sucked into and sets up the album perfectly. The second track only serves to up the ante; slightly slower and reliant on a more melodic vocal style "So Long, Etruria" shows a more refrained approach than the opener, relying on the melody as opposed to aggression to put a smile on your face.

In fact this style serves the band well, the middle third in particular is well balanced with more melodic and slower songs (Never Wanted This, with its notable Leatherface influences, Counter Attack and Fare Thee Well in particular shine) bookended by the more frantic ends of the album.

If the opening tracks serve to welcome you to the band the final three will make you hope they never leave. All three are stunning examples of what can be achieved within the genre. Whilst not necessarily ground breaking, they are delivered with aplomb. "Anyway, We Delivered The Bomb" is characterised by machine gun guitars and great sing-a-long lyrics, destined to get fists in the air. Following track "Creatures" will no doubt evoke memories of the finest moments of The Lawrence Arms and makes best use of the dual vocalists – it's a relentless, breathtaking song that doesn't let up.

Closing such a good album can be tricky, to be done properly it needs either an absolute banger or a slower acoustic number to help provide context. Opting for the former, Only Strangers see out their debut with a monstrous guitar driven epic that serves to pick the best elements of the previous nine tracks and build something greater than the sum of its parts. It is safe to assume “Hardest Thing” is a real fan favourite in the making; the little guitar flourishes reminiscent of Iron Chic, whilst the drumming in the bridge also provides a stand-out moment. There is so much to love about this song, you'll be replaying it over and over without realising it.

Overall this is a brilliant debut and, like most great albums, everyone who listens to it will have a different personal favourite so picking highlights is really difficult. Only Strangers they may be but within a few short months expect them to have many new friends up and down the country.

Stream and download Only Strangers here:

Like Only Strangers here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Album Review: I Was Broken When You Got Here by Call Me Malcolm

Call Me Malcolm are a five piece ska punk band from London. In 2014 they released their excellent debut album We Did This To Ourselves which reached number one in the Bandcamp ska punk charts, quite the achievement. Now the band are getting ready to release a brand new album titled I Was Broken When We Got Here. I Was Broken When You Got Here is an album about the band's struggles with mental health, so it's going to be a fun album that also tackles an important topic. Before I had even gotten round to listening to the album, I'd been told to expect great things. Because of this I was really looking forward to sitting down and reviewing the album.

I Was Broken When You Got Here begins with an introduction named Guided Meditation. It's a short spoken word segment parodying meditation audio clips. Things really get going on the first actual song, The Gentleman And The Onion. From the beginning the song displays some big horns that are a trademark of the Call Me Malcolm sound. It's high energy throughout and will quickly get a crowd moving. After seeing Call Me Malcolm live last year at Level Up Festival I was so impressed with lead singer Lucias' vocals. They are stunning here, offering something slightly different to many of their ska punk contemporaries with a slightly poppy and more theatrical approach to singing. He also sings along to a horn section in one part which is just wonderful. Regular readers of CPRW are hopefully familiar with the next song, There's No "I" In Apocalypse, as it was recently featured in our Video Of The Week section. A big theme throughout the album is songs that sound absolutely massive and take you on a musical rollercoaster. This is none more the case than on this song, as Call Me Malcolm take us on a fast paced series of highs and lows. The beginning of the song will grab you immediately with the one-two punch of some rapid fire vocals followed by some stabby horn blasts. The chorus is a real earworm and you'll be singing along loud and proud with the band. The fourth track is arguably the best song on the album and I can see it being a big hit for the band. Titled Restore Factory Settings, the song sees Call Me Malcolm go for a paddle in the reggae pool. There's a really summery vibe to the song and you can easily imagine singing this song on a warm afternoon with your pals with a huge smile on your face. It's about realising you're unwell and finding a way to start again in an attempt to fix yourself. This is the first time on the album that Call Me Malcolm's trombonist Derryck gets a chance to show off his vocal skills as him and Lucias share vocal duties on the track with a huge amount of success. I love this song. Restore Factory Settings reminds me of the Less Than Jake classic The Science Of Selling Yourself Short – but this may be even better than that song.

Call Me Malcolm are really influenced by 90s third wave ska punk and that's no more evident that on the fifth song, Inside Out. If Less Than Jake were channelled on Restore Factory Settings then Reel Big Fish came through on Inside Out. It's an instant skanking song with some superb horns throughout the song. Inside Out is about the negative voices in your head and having a hard time not listening to them. The ending of the track is outstanding, getting slightly heavier before finishing up with a massive chorus. Jacob is I Was Broken When You Got Here's thrashy punk rock track. This is a real throwback to 90s skate punk/pop bands such as MXPX and Goldfinger. It's the chorus that stands out most, particularly the line "start a revolution, with a little dissolution." The band don't forget their ska roots on the song as there is a exceptional breakdown where the horns come in and build the song back up towards one big final chorus. The seventh song on the album is named In Treatment and is about being in therapy and feeling uncomfortable talking to someone. As somebody who has experienced this I found the song hugely relatable. It can also be a frustrating situation to be in, shown brilliantly by a really angry scream that's also used to build towards the end of the song. This is followed up by a musical interlude titled F.T.I.M. After another meditation audio clip we are treated to a horn lead instrumental song. Even though the song feels like an interlude there is absolutely no reason not to be skanking like your life depends on it throughout the song. This moves us nicely into more 90s third wave ska in the form of It's My Plagiary And I'm Going Home. The song begins with a mid tempo but upbeat horn section before some quick vocals from Lucias pick things up. His vocals steal the show here, he really has one of the best set of pipes in the scene. It's My Plagiary And I'm Going Home is such a fun song, it's pretty impossible not to smile the whole way through it.

Show Me What You Got starts out with somewhat of a funky beat before it launches into a hard hitting ska punk jam. It's about finding a way of letting out all of your rage and frustrations. It's a pretty empowering song with a big chorus to sing-a-long with and plenty of opportunities to give it your all on the dance floor. This song delivers a great amount of catharsis for its listeners. Up next is Now Wait For Last Year. Now Wait For Last Year is about trying to remain strong for somebody who sadly doesn't have long left. I Was Broken When You Got Here is full of personal moments but this song, without a doubt, feels like the most personal. Whenever a band or artist writes a song as deeply personal as this I always have the utmost respect for them because I think it's so brave to put out all your feelings in such a way. Despite its sad topic, in true ska punk style, it's another really upbeat song musically that I can imagine a room full of people having the best time dancing along to. On an album jammed full of amazing songs, Call Me Malcolm perhaps finish it with not only the best song on the album but maybe the best song they've ever written. All My Nameless Friends starts out with a reasonably long introduction that does a fantastic job of building towards the opening lyrics. The song is about being feeling better when you're around all your friends and those familiar faces that you see in your local punk scene. Call Me Malcolm are a huge part of the Be Sharp Promotions/New Cross Inn ska punk scene and there are plenty of subtle references to this spread throughout the song. This song is a great little nod to what is a really friendly and welcoming scene. There is no other phrase for the song's ending other than "fucking epic." I really don't like to swear ever, whether it's in everyday conversation or in my writing, so please know that if I do drop an f-bomb then I really am trying to emphasise my point. I'll say it again, the ending of All My Nameless Friends is fucking epic! After a long sequence of choruses, the song transitions into a ginormous whoa-oh section to finish the song. I can't wait to be at the New Cross for Call Me Malcolm to play this song, particularly for this section, I can only imagine the size of the goose bumps that will appear on my arm as this is belted out by the whole pub. Fucking epic. I Was Broken When You Got Here concludes with another guided meditation audio segment that suggests if you're still feeling terrible come the end of the album you should listen to it again. This made me laugh.

There's not much left to say for a conclusion to this review other than I Was Broken When You Got Here is 99% certain to be the ska punk album of 2018.

Pre-order I Was Broken When You Got Here here:

Like Call Me Malcolm here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Top Tens: Charlie Longman from PINTS' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

…And Out Come The Wolves. The best album by the best band. Rancid were the band that made me say, “I’m going to do that”. I wanted to make noise my way with my pals and make someone feel the way I still feel when I listen to that record. I think they are the best band to start with when introducing anyone to punk rock music. Their career spans every type of punk rock there is and if you delve into their continuing and past musical endeavours you will discover a treasure trove of great music including: Operation Ivy, The Bastards, The Transplants, Devils Brigade, Old Firm Casuals and so on. Through them I got into the Hellcat Records’ Give ’Em The Boot compilations, which introduced me to many of my favourite bands. There is something to Rancid which goes beyond their music; it’s like discovering a family you never knew you had and I am forever grateful to them for that. It honestly would sound redundant for me to continue to go on about how much this band mean to me without repeating the phrase “this is sick, this track is awesome etc.” Just go and listen to some fucking Rancid and make sure you start with “…And Out Come The Wolves.”

Johnny Cash
I never had an interest in music when I was younger. I hated the radio and both my mum and dad primarily listened to soul music (something I wouldn’t appreciate until a lot later). I remember the first bit of music that sparked any reaction out of me was when my uncle took me, my cousin and my brother out on my 11th birthday. We sat in his car and he was playing A Boy Named Sue (the uncensored version - fuck you very much, Spotify) from the Live At San Quentin album. I was hooked and in my opinion, there isn’t a storyteller, lyricist or rebel since that tops The Man in Black. He was mean as hell and you hung on every word he said. It sparked a lifelong love of mine for country music. Country was punk rock before punk rock. It was working class, sang about what affected the people at the bottom and most importantly it was honest (unlike modern pop country bollocks). While rock ’n’ rollers were living the highlife and playing big stadiums, Johnny Cash played prisons and had a real connection with his audience. The year The Undertaker had “Ain’t No Grave” as his Wrestlemania intro music it blew my bollocks off.

The Misfits
As a kid (and now to be fair) I loved two things: Punk Rock and Horror Movies. So, to discover a band like the Misfits was a dream come true. When I read about them for the first time I immediately fired up Limewire and downloaded every song I could find. I’m a massive nerd at my core and I spent hours finding all the references in their songs to all the horror movies I could find. They are a band I cannot help but love, even to this day with Jerry Only on vocals you can still go to a show and, while it might not be as good as the glory days with whatever line up you prefer (Danzig or die), the fun is in the atmosphere and it’s amazing to hear those songs live. The perfect blend of horror movie nostalgia and my favourite time in American hardcore - seeing Danzig and Doyle play songs at the Garage a few years back was a life changing thing for me. No matter how good you think you are on stage, no one is quite like Danzig.

Jamie T
As a kid me and my pals were always crashing parties of the kids who went to Chigwell (a more “well off” part of Essex depending on what part you end up in) school. These kids had big houses with swimming pools and all that bollocks, so their parties were always a bit of a laugh. This was just as the show Skins had hit TV so all these parties had the same shit soundtrack comprising of bands that looked and sounded like northerners who had moved to London on their gap year from university to sell falafels during the day in Shoreditch and had an endorsement from Topman. It made no sense to me and seemed to be a million miles removed from my comfy punk rock bubble. Until I stumbled upon the CD Panic Prevention by Jamie T that is. There was this scruffy kid on the cover sitting in a room filled with Gang of Four, Ian Dury, The Damned records and all sorts. I ‘borrowed’ it off some kid and began to listen. Jamie T summed up in audio form what it was like to be a young kid street ratting with your mates and living day to day. The nights out you had with your mates and the trials and tribulations of your youth now had a backbeat to them. It was totally DIY and easy to fall in love with. He became the soundtrack not just to my youth but to my life as he somehow always manages to release an album at a significant time in my life, almost as if his fans and he are growing up together.

Street Dogs
I’m going to slightly cheat here and include (along with Street Dogs) the first Dropkick Murphys record: Do or Die, as Mike McColgan was the singer at the time of that record and the reason for loving both are so similar. Punk rock likes to give it the big’n. It’s all fuck the Queen this, smash the system that etc, but it rarely ever gives you an example, reason, or a way of doing so. I was hooked on Street Dogs from the moment I first heard Two Angry Kids. Powerful, catchy as hell and beautifully written lyrics as per always but it was songs like Unions and Law, Up the Union, Modern Day Labour Anthem or the title track of Do or Die that really struck a chord with me. In a 2-minute song I’ve already been taught about unions and policies that help me and my fellow blue-collar Joes find a way of being treated fairly and getting our voice heard when we believe our rights are being played with. It inspired me to enquire about a Union with every job I’ve had. I made a point of seeing Street Dogs every time they played London for about 4 years before finally being offered to open for them last summer. I had so badly wanted to thank the lads for all the music and stuff it taught me over the years but instead just drunkenly told them “I love your band man” over and over again like a drunk fanboy bellend. It was truly a huge honour though and hearing them give us a shout on stage was a career defining moment for me.

Bruce Springsteen
My journey into discovering the boss man is something I’m quite proud of, because unlike so many older artists I’m into or most people I know who are fans of Springsteen, he was not introduced to me through anyone else. I discovered Bruce on my own at a time where I felt I really needed him. When I was 14 I was out with my pals getting pissed on cheap wine and after climbing a fence to get into a safe spot to take a piss I got my foot caught on it and broke my ankle. I spent a week in hospital and an entire summer (a lifetime for 14-year-old) pretty much bed bound. This being the last days of youth without smart phones and easy internet access everywhere, all I had for that week in hospital was whatever magazines where available in the shop and the limited channels on the hospital TV. One night when my boredom was reaching a critical boiling point and the painkillers I was on were wearing off, I flicked through the channels of the TV set and discovered a top ten of Bruce Springsteen songs. I was hooked from then on. Springsteen’s power doesn’t come from a big band or massive live shows (although it certainly is something to behold and live, Bruce and the E Street band are untouchable) for me it’s in his words and the stories his songs tell. Bruce has the power to turn the most mundane and average qualities of working class life and turn it into poetry. That summer on crutches and not being able to go out with my pals, I lost myself in the world that Bruce Springsteen and the characters he sings about created, so it’s something we try to do with our songs (except all of ours are about our pissed up mates). To this day there isn’t a bad day at work that can’t be cleared up by Bruce Springsteen, the only boss I listen to.

The Clash
I think a lot of people’s journey into Punk music is very similar. You start with the classic big three: The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Ramones. You discover the first wave and it grows from there. You do your research and realise it lived on past, the 70s and the rest is a hodgepodge of bad haircuts and hours sewing patches on your denim jacket. But the Clash in my opinion are so much more than a band from way back when. In school you’re never taught about politics. You’re never told about the horrors of ending up on the dole or what the bloody hell is happening around the world and how it affects us. The Clash were that band for me and Joe Strummer is the ultimate punk poet. He was the start of my mouth getting bigger and my voice a whole lot louder. Stand up for what’s yours. Fight anyone who may take it away from you. The working class are not stupid; we just need to be more aware and I think The Clash are the perfect soundtrack to that realisation. 11 years in school or the 40 minutes it takes to listen to any Clash record? I know which one I’d prefer.

Cock Sparrer
Despite living and growing up in Essex, I spent all my time as a teenager in London, when I was first able to buy a Travelcard me and my friends would journey to London for any reason (most of the time it was a show at the Astoria or to get pissed by Trafalgar Square). Bands like Cock Sparrer are like an audio map of the big smoke. Their music resonated with me because they’re singing about things that are virtually on my doorstep and that I’d see every week while out with my pals. They’re unapologetic in their delivery and not afraid of their roots. Whenever PINTS start writing I usually surround myself with a lot of home-grown punk bands (Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, the Filaments etc.) but Sparrer are always at the top of the pile. True kings of the game. Still slaying live shows and, while often copied, are NEVER bettered.

Our Time Down Here
Our Time Down Here are the most underrated British punk rock band of all time. I’m happy to see them getting all the attention they deserve and more with their new band Creeper but I will never forget and fail to admire the work they did as OTDH. My brother got back from a tour with his band and said he reckons I would love the band they went out with. He threw me a copy of the Last Light EP and I listened to it solidly for weeks. When Midnight Mass came out I did the same and I genuinely mourned when they finally broke up. I also kick myself for not being in PINTS at the show where they supported them at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston. At a time where every punk band was trying to sound like The King Blues, a lot of hardcore bands became parodies of American bands and pop punk had started its descent into becoming an arena for sexual predators and fake, forced Californian accents they dared to do something different. Our Time Down Here showed that punk rock can mix some of the sub-genres best qualities comfortably by blending powerfully catchy songwriting and imagination.

Black Flag
When you’re young, the world is out to get you. At least you think it is. But when you’re that age it’s more than likely that you will think like that. The world is a scary place and everything around you is changing. So, when I first discovered Black Flag’s Damaged album it was a game changer. I stared at the cover with that guy smashing a mirror up and instantly related. I felt like smashing stuff up all the god damn time and once the music started it all fell into place; all the frustration of youth, feeling like an outsider, like you didn’t belong came screaming out. Every bit of venom I wanted to spit at someone and every fist I wanted to swing belonged in the comfort and confines of Black Flag’s music and I thank them for that. It’s something that I’ve always wanted with PINTS – to give people a place to lose themselves and have fun. PINTS at the end of the day, is all about having fun in a room filled with angsty, shirtless, pissed up nutters all letting loose from the world around them.

Stream and download PINTS music here:

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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Album Review: Barfly by The Real McCoys (by Emma Prew)

The Real McCoys are a four-piece celtic-influenced folk punk band from Houston, Texas (via Uruguay, I think). In October 2017 they released an album titled Barfly on Folk Drunk Records (which I suspect may be their own label give that ‘Folk Drunk’ was the title of their previous album). The album was originally on Colin’s review list but I heard a snippet – banjo, mandolin, accordion, etc. – and we decided this was definitely more up my street. Me being a folk punk queen and all.

After an audio clip about doing things in life just because you can and you want to rather than for anybody else, Last Call opens up Barfly with a flurry of folky instruments – the whistle and banjo standing out the most. It’s this opening melody that sandwiches itself between verses throughout the song and instantly gets stuck in your head. Much like the audio clip at the beginning, Last Call is about doing things your way with likeminded friends – ‘Until the last call we’ll still be here, Screaming our lungs out, Singing to deaf ears.’ It’s a short song at only a minute and a half long but it gets the album going with plenty of energy and has listeners eager for track number two, Trippin’ Up The Stairs. This song starts a little more slowly than the first but you can tell that it won’t remain that way for long. The first chorus comes in quite early – ‘And it’s one, two, three, You’ll be tripping up the stairs, Four, five, six, You’ll be tripping up the stairs, Anymore you’ll be crawling, Crawling.’ – before a furious instrumental section that sees the accordion make an appearance (and I love a bit of accordion). It’s great when a song is a bit more experimental in its structuring rather than simply being verse, chorus, verse, etc.

Up next is Lettuce (Jacob Berg) a song that kicks off with an almost nautical melody with the guitar, banjo and accordion generating a moderate swinging motion. It reminds me a lot of my favourite Canadian cider punks, The Dreadnoughts, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. This is definitely a song that would be best listened to with a pint of beer or cider in hand. Lettuce is a song about being there for a friend in need and offering the wise life advise ‘There’s no use in worrying when you can’t change a thing.’ Certainly one of my favourite songs on Barfly. Troubled Waters picks up the pace again, at least after an audio clip from Donald Trump (I think) saying the word ‘China’ a lot. Troubled Waters feels like more of an angry song than the previous three and rightly so given its political themes. The chorus, or is it the first verse as it actually starts the song, sees vocalist Josh repeat the lines ‘These troubled waters, These troubled waters…’ while a second vocal screams vehemently in the background. The whole song is fast paced and, like those before it, is also really short so its all over before you know it – giving the listener a small breather before we dive into the next song.

The fifth song is called The Loneliest Kill and things get going with a lone acoustic guitar before a second guitar and the vocals join in after a few seconds. ‘Well the sun is going down on the loneliest hill, Not a soul around for miles after the loneliest kill.’ The melodies and lyrics had me picturing scenes from a classic Western film although I have no idea if that was The Real McCoys’ intention. Either way, the tale told is a dark and atmospheric one with plenty to get the ol’ imagination going. I’m So Happy You Could Die is next up, starting out with steady drums and rhythmic guitar part that’ll have your head nodding in an instant. After the first verse the pace and volume are picked up a little and both the drums and guitar become more rolling in an almost country music stylee. This song is an apology to a friend, who is more of an acquaintance really, that may have not been treated as they deserved. ‘Farewell to a friend, I won’t be seeing you again, You weren’t the best but an okay friend, I couldn’t trust you, I hardly knew you, I couldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you, But I knew I threw you in the dirt. Sorry that it hurt.’ The song, as well as previous songs on Barfly, make me think of a combination between Streetlight Manifesto and Mischief Brew – two great bands.

Next we have a song titled Oh, Shane. After my first couple of listens to the album and this song, I settled with myself that the Shane in this song is the infamous Shane MacGowan of dodgy teeth, drunken antics and The Pogues frontman fame. It could in fact be a song about another Shane who likes a drink or two but the fact that Oh, Shane has the line ‘Ain’t no shame in waking on the sunny side of the street’ and The Pogues have a song called Sunnyside Of The Street has me convinced. This is a rousing celtic-influenced punk song that is sure to get a live audience dancing. Another song that opens with an audio clip is the oddly titled eighth track, Koala Bear Guacamole. When the song gets going properly it does so in style with an enthusiastic a cappella first verse featuring vocals from more than just the lead vocalist. ‘If I ever needed anyone, I needed you, Oh lord if I ever needed anyone, It might as well be you.’  If ever there was a perfect song designed for a rousing barroom singalong, it might as well be this one. Probably the song most likely to encourage mass singalong so far anyway. 

The ninth track of Barfly is Arguing On The Internet About Politics which begins with a slow banjo melody and vocals that sound slightly distant. This serves as a short introduction before the vocals become clearer on the second verse. For the most part this is a slow and thoughtful song, quite different from the rowdiness of many of the previous tracks. As you might have gathered from the song title, Arguing On The Internet About Politics is about people voicing their opinions somewhere where they know that they won’t have to deal with the consequences in quite the same way as in the ‘real world’ – ‘Shut the door, The world is too cold and uncertain.’ Barfly started out with a lot of shorter songs, less than 2 minutes in length, but this song is verging on 3 minutes. It uses the extra time to gradually build in volume and emotion until all instruments are back – there’s even a guitar solo. Wait For Summer is perhaps more of a straight up punk rock track compared to the folk punk sound of much of the album. The guitars, drums and bass guitar hold the forefront on this one and the chorus is a little bit poppy and hella catchy. ‘It’s harder to shut it off when you know you’re wrong, Brushing it off just moves it around, But it always collects and drags you down, It’s harder to shut your mouth when you know you’re right, Kick back, Wait for summer…’

Too Far Gone is the title of the penultimate song of Barfly and it features a guest appearance from Jesse Sendejas of DIY folk punk pros, Days ’N’ Daze. Too Far Gone is one big singalong-able, get drunk and merry to folk frenzy. The song is about it being too late to turn back from the path you’re heading down so trying to make the best of a bad situation. ‘We’ve too far gone to turn this ship around, The captain’s already corrupt…’ I enjoyed the references to sailing on a ship as they seem appropriate for this type of music. Too Far Gone speeds by at an alarming rate so much so that I feel tired just listening to it and before we know it we have come to the last song. Closing out Barfly is an appropriately titled song – The Hangover. Things are toned down here for a song about the morning after the night before – we’ve all (probably) been there. There’s a sense of all being in this together in the gang vocal chorus of ‘la, la, la, la…’. After one final verse, the acoustic guitar, banjo and xylophone play out the song before a final round of la la las. A fitting ending to a fine piece of folk punk.

I’m a little bit late to the party with Barfly but, as is often the case, it is better late than never. These 12 songs have the right balance between DIY rawness and skilled musicianship and the album is full of catchy melodies and fine lyricism. With most of the songs being less than 2 minutes in length, the whole album is only 25 minutes long – so there’s no reason for you not to be able to fit a listen into your life. Check it out!

Stream and download Barfly on Bandcamp here. And like The Real McCoys on Facebook here.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.