Friday, 31 August 2018

CPRW Playlist: August 2018

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

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Top Tens: John Holt from Fair Do's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

There's no other band this list could possibly start with. It used to be that Capdown were seemingly in Manchester every 3rd week, and, to this day, they remain my most seen band. They were stalwarts of the the UK ska-core scene and, at the time, that scene was huge. They played upbeat, political ska-core tunes, and 18 year old me ate that shit right up. If I'm being honest, the first band I ever played in was a ska-core band and I owe a lot to the genre. I can still remember sitting down to learn the drums to "Kained But Able", which set me on the path to playing double time. So thanks, Capdown!

Good Riddance
The first proper CD I ever bought was "Ballads From The Revolution" by Good Riddance. "Fertile Fields" as the opening track was like opening the door to Narnia for me. Moody audio clip breaks straight into double time! The tune doesn't let up in its tempo, and that started a love affair with double time tunes that still hasn't ended. Now, Good Riddance aren't a solidly double time band, but to find them so early on in my journey of musical discovery was a great boon for me. They showed me that songs could communicate a serious subject matter, and be angry, whilst still keeping stuff catchy and melodic. Russ Rankin on vocals seemed to sway between love songs and social injustice, but it kept me entertained for my formative years and seriously influenced my outlook, politics, and playing. I still can't help but sing all the words when they're on the stereo.

Yes, believe it or not, I am a fan of NOFX. Commentary on recent events left aside, I absolutely battered NOFX when I was younger. Easily one of the smartest, most musically proficient bands in the punk scene at the time; their level of songwriting, playing (I heard they don't always suck live), scathing humour and social commentary are pretty much untouched to this day. They've been prolific in their output, but "So Long, And Thanks For All The Shoes" and "Pump Up The Valium" will always be their best stuff for me. Songs like "It's My Job..", "180 Degrees", "Falling In Love", "I'm Telling Tim", and "Herojuana" are all stand out tracks. They've been around since the early 80s, written an 18 minute song that's actually good, had more key changes than most people have had hot dinners, and still manage to have people talk about them now. Plus, if you have 3 or 4 musicians in room, odds are you'll get a rendition of "Linoleum" out of them, if needs be. It's punk's "Agadoo".

Thrice were in heavy rotation before I hit my 20s, and they were very interesting indeed. When I first discovered them, I hammered "Identity Crisis". It's a good mix of up tempo punk/hardcore, and what is essentially the beginnings of today's melodic hardcore/screamo scene. The vocals are clean and full of melody, but also shouty. This introduction to a strong, clean vocal melody, alongside some shouty goodness was nice to find. Their progression through their albums saw them drop the up tempo melodic punk style, and aim towards a more metalcore style. They still had the classic octave singalong parts, but they also introduced a clear metal influence in their playing. Heavy rhythms, harmonised guitars and aforementioned shouting. "The Artist In The Ambulance" was a clear direction change, and it's apparent during listening. They were heavier, angrier, and more technical, although they never lost the ability to hammer home a good hook. We soaked up their new direction, and put it to good use.

Captain Everything
Captain Everything were an absolute gem of a find. When I was 17 I went to see Lightyear in Manchester, and Captain Everything were then opening band. Easily one of the fastest bands I have ever seen play. Their guitarist looked like rabid dog, banging his head like he wanted to lose it, in between getting to and from the microphone. At first glance, they may come across as puerile, with lyrics about wanting to marry your mate's mum, but the greatness lies within endless catchy bangers, harmonies your choir leader would be proud of, and tempos not often below 190bpm. They showed me that fast punk did exist inside the UK, and I was ecstatic to find that out at the time.

"Twas Hell, Said Former Child" was pretty a pretty influential album for me. Every instrument and part really stood out at the time. Someone was playing the style I loved, and not half-arsing it! The songs are some of the catchiest ever written in that particular small subgenre of punk. Cellophane Coffin is everything to love about Belvedere smashed into 60 ticks. Shouty, fast, singy, heavy, and bouncy - it sort of became Fair Do's' modus operandi. Their drummer, Graham Churchill, really showed me how to step outside of the double time punk box. He's technical, whilst staying fit for purpose, and there's some absolutely blistering fills in his playing. 10/10 Whacker of the pans.

Death By Stereo
I can clearly remember the moment I first heard Death By Stereo. I was 17, knocking about in my mates living room, and he'd found an Indecision Records sampler on Kazaa, or some other such ruination of the music industry. The song was "Looking Out For #1" from their first album, "If Looks Could Kill, I'd Watch You Die" and if you care to listen to it, you will note the truly slapping drum fill to start proceedings. I had never heard anything that sounded like them before. The drums immediately grabbed me, the guitars quickly followed. At the time, it was a perfect mix of punk tempos, and melodies, with the heavier, and more intricate rhythm section of metal. Again, shouted talk of social injustice, and government failings had 17 year old me gritting my teeth, and the tunes had me banging my head, and trying to figure out how to play them. I had discovered good Crossover/Melodic Hardcore/ Whatever you want to call it, and i had shit the bed. I couldn't get enough and quickly ate up their second album, just as their third came out. Their first album will always be my personal favourite, as it showed me that you can throw a huge mix of stylistic ingredients into a pot, and come out with a vicious and powerful cake. Their drummer on their first album, Jarrod Alexander, gave me the biggest musical kick up the arse I think I've ever had. "Just throw in a samba. It's not gonna hurt anyone."

Fireapple Red
Fireapple Red will always have a special place in my mind. After finding brief glimpses of the style I loved, without actually knowing what it was, Fireapple Red entered my field of vision. They were huge beacon of hope for me, as they were tangible and accessible, and pretty fucking good too. They were from the UK, and an old band I played in actually got the chance to play with them! (An outdoor gig in a park in Blackburn. The Cheeky Girls also played. I shit you not.) I had heard their first release and it was stupidly good listening. People in our part of the world making the music we wanted to see more of. They were, fast, angry, melodic and technical (I'm sure you're sensing a theme here). Hugely political and talking about issues we could relate to, they pedalled their own brand of melodic hardcore. I remember seeing a review that read "Like the lovechild of NOFX and Metallica" which was total bollocks, because they were much better than that amalgamation could ever be. It's that never ending question: what do you call tunes that are too metal for the punx, and too punk for the metal heads? The lovechild of NOFX and Metallica, apparently.

Strung Out
The first time I ever heard Strung Out was on an old Fat Wreck Chords sampler, and the song was "The Exhumation of Virginia Madison." It's a fairly pacey number and the melodies stick with you forever. That's what Strung Out are good at. They write punk tunes that you whistle for a month on end, whilst still being fast, and metal edged. "Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues" and "Twisted By Design" are 2 albums that I discovered in my late teens and I don't think I will ever tire of them. At the time, their sound was hugely defined, and clearly separate from their fellow label mates. Jordan Burns is another drummer that really spoke to me when I was young. His pace, style and huge library of fills seemingly shat on anyone near them at the time, and seeing them live always ended up in a "stare at the drummer all night" affair. A lot of people called them a metal band at the time, but what the fuck do people know? That was something that made them stand out for me, too. That "metal stick in the punk mud" place that they seemed to fill really pleased me. "You want to like it, but your punk points quota for this month is dangerously low."

My love for Propagandhi is undying, and I will say terrible things on the internet about anyone who cares to besmirch their good name. From discovering their early stuff, up to now, they have been an influence not only on my playing, but also on my personal perspectives. They have become the ever changing band and I love them all the more for it. "How To Clean Everything" is about as snotty as left-wing, speedy ska punk-rock gets. "Less Talk, More Rock" followed in much the same vein, but with "Anchorless" on there. (Don't ask me.) Then, one of, if not the greatest collection of songs ever written and played by mere mortals is bestowed upon us. "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes" is a piece of fucking history, and it soundtracked most of my adult life. It is that good. It never leaves the rotation.

From that release, their growth in song writing and playing, has travelled in a hugely different direction from their humble beginnings, but I cannot fault them for it. I love each one. They have their own style that many attempt to imitate, but never quite succeed. If you fancy some Propagandhi style stuff, you listen to Propagandhi. Each album has it's own charm, but they are never without their intelligent, funny, scathing, tear-jerking, and terrifying lyrical contents. Shouts to Propagandhi for consistently moving forward, challenging the status quo, and giving us the music the beautiful music they have, so far.

John Holt plays drums in Fair Do's. Check them out here. Fair Do's recently released their debut album Leopards through Lockjaw Records. You should definitely check it out here.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Album Review: This Place Matters by The Capital (by Emma Prew)

The Capital are a band that seemingly came out of nowhere for me and yet absolutely blew me away. Back in July we saw them at a New Cross Inn all-dayer headlined by Red City Radio. Playing their first show in London, the five-piece from Preston wowed not just me but the whole NXI crowd and earned themselves plenty of new fans with their slick and passionate rock ‘n’ roll infused punk rock. Since seeing the band live, I’ve listened to their latest EP, This Place Matters, quite a lot and so I think it’s time I gave it a review!

Kicking off the EP is a song titled Trouble. After a short fade in we are soon hit by pounding drums and huge sounding melodic guitars. When the vocals come in, you can be sure that the guitars aren’t the only things that’s huge on this track – frontman Seamus Mcloughlin’s voice is incredible. It’s not the sort of voice that I’m all that used to hearing in punk rock to be honest as it is perhaps more akin to that of a stadium rock band. Although one punk band that I was definitely reminded of – and Colin and I both thought this when we saw The Capital live – is Crazy Arm (who happen to be one of my all-time favourite UK punk bands). When the chorus hits it is powerful and anthemic – ‘There’s a fire here, We’re in trouble, Something’s happened to us, There’s a feeling in our hearts, We’re in trouble.’ One thing for sure is that I really want to sing along! Trouble fades out and we’re thrown straight into the next song, Harbour In A Storm. The stop-start guitars at the beginning of the song bring the punk rock influence into play but it’s not too long before the power is amped up again and the song is transformed into a rock anthem. There’s some great slightly slower and quieter moments in the run up to the chorus where all the focus is on Seamus’s flawless vocals before the rest of the band joins in for some whoa-ohs. Another fade out after the lines ‘You’re the only one.’ bring track number two to a close. The first two tracks on This Place Matters were relatively mid-tempo and so when the third song, Rise Above It All, starts in a fast a furious fashion I was a little surprised. Pleasantly surprised, mind you. Here The Capital show that they are every bit as capable as playing fierce punk rock as, say, Hot Water Music. It is brilliant to have this change of pace and the track is certainly well placed at the middle point of the EP. There are, of course, plenty of moments that are begging for a singalong but perhaps the chorus of Rise Above It All will evoke one or two shout/scream-alongs as well. ‘I’ve been waiting, I’ve been waiting, To rise above it all, Like anyone, Just give me something, To rise above it all.’ Awesome stuff.

The penultimate track of the EP is also its title track, This Place Matters. I’m going to go right out there and say that if you’re only going to listen to one song by The Capital (but don’t just listen to one song), then make sure that it is this one. Perhaps I’m saying this because I know how well this song was received live but, on recording also, it is superb. This Place Matters is about how important music venues and pubs are and how much they matter. When we saw The Capital live, This Place Matters was dedicated to our beloved New Cross Inn but it is applicable to any independent venue throughout the UK. Without those venues, we wouldn’t have this music scene, we wouldn’t have The Capital, I wouldn’t be reviewing this EP, this blog wouldn’t exist. Support live music. Also the song is so uplifting. Only Human is the closing song of This Place Matters and it wonderfully combines everything that is great about The Capital – and then some. Here Seamus’s voice brings to mind Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam – and it doesn’t get much more stadium rock than that – but at the same time it feels very down to earth. I often mention in my reviews how relatable the lyrics are for listeners – something that is perhaps more prevalent in punk rock than, say, pop music – and you can’t get more relatable than a song about being human. The chorus is also rather catchy, features some sweet harmonies – ‘The tide is turning, The tide is turning, Turning around, I’m not letting go.’ – and is followed up by a guitar solo. What more could you want?

The Capital are definitely a band that I’ll be keeping an eye on and I’d be very keen to see them live again, whenever they venture back down south.

This Place Matters is available digitally on Spotify and iTunes etc., as well as on CD from Bad Horror Records, and you can (and should) like The Capital on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Album Review: Desire And The Need To Live by Crushed Veneer (by Emma Prew)

Crushed Veneer are a four-piece from London who I stumbled across on Bandcamp a little while ago. I really liked their sound of their most recent four track EP, Desire And The Need To Live, which was released in May this year. I promptly added the EP to my review list and then… well, life (mostly my job) got in the way and I haven’t been able to make time for reviewing. Since adding Crushed Veneer to my review list however, they’ve been added to a great line-up at a New Cross Inn show in September, alongside Uniforms, Break Ups and Modern Shakes. This has spurred me to finally give Desire And The Need To Live the review that it deserves.

First up on Desire And The Need To Live is Kind Of Blue. This is a track that wastes no time in getting going with the guitars cranked up and drums being sufficiently pounded from the start. Pure punk rock. When the vocals come in the guitars are toned down a bit while a distinct indie-style riff stands out. It feels upbeat although that is perhaps a contrast with the lyrics of the song. Kind Of Blue is about facing up to sad or negative feelings and trying to find something that makes you feel happy again. There are also some first hints of a singalongable or gang vocal-style chorus that bodes well for the rest of the EP (and for seeing the band live). ‘I don’t know why, I never feel alive, A soul on fire, Another compromise, Everything you do, I try to do it too, “Kind of Blue”, Reminds me of you.’  Sew Me Up is the second song on the EP and it takes a slightly different direction musically to Kind Of Blue with an almost country-tinged folk punk sound. Sort of Chuck Ragan but with not so gruff vocals. This, of course, is absolutely fine by me and on my first listen of Desire And The Need To Live I definitely had this track marked as my favourite. The rumbling drum beat, plodding bass line and slightly distorted guitars have me nodding along in no time but it’s the vocals and the lyrics that have me fully invested. Sew Me Up is rather short and sweet as after just 30 seconds we have reached the first chorus and the singalong feeling that was hinted at in the previous song feels even more present here – at least, I want to singalong anyway. ‘Cut me down, sew me up, I have never had enough, I want it all, I want it now, And I don’t care how.’

With the third song, Wild Nights, we go back to a more straight up melodic punk rock sound. There’s a great sense of storytelling throughout the lyrics of this song which reminds me of the likes of The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers – no surprises then that both bands are listed as influences on Crushed Veneer’s Facebook page – but that’s not to say that the song actually sounds exactly like either of those bands. Although not played at a super fast pace, there is a certain urgency to Wild Nights as a tale of regret and bitterness unravels. ‘My skeletons they keep me up, I used to crave your every touch, The nights were wild and full of lust, We’d drink our weight then sleep it off, My skeletons they keep me up, I used to crave your every touch, But now I lie awake alone, And watch you fade away, you’re gone.’ I guess this song is the reason there’s a skeleton on the EP artwork as well as on some of the band’s merch. Or maybe they just like skeletons. Me too. Bringing the EP to a close is its title track, Desire And The Need To Live. This final song opens with a clean and distinct unaccompanied guitar line that immediately has my attention (not least because I can’t stop thinking that it sounds like the opening of classic Funeral For A Friend song Juneau – just me?). It’s not long however before the rest of the band, including the vocals, come in. I mentioned earlier that Sew Me Up felt short and sweet, well this song isn’t exactly short in length but there’s a great succinctness to each line of the song that gets the message across without too much fuss. Desire And The Need To Live is about finding purpose as well as enjoyment in your life and, as the last chorus is sung by multiple voices, there is a definite sense of not being alone with such feelings. ‘Last call, last drink, last night, Trying to find someone to fight, Less love, less lust, less life, Raise a glass, we’re still alive.’

Desire And The Need To Live can be streamed and downloaded on Bandcamp now.

You should also like Crushed Veneer on Facebook and check out this event for details of that gig with Uniforms, Break Ups and Modern Shakes at the New Cross Inn, London, on Friday 7th September.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Future Classic: In Desolation by Off With Their Heads

Recently, whilst sat in a burrito place before a gig, I was scrolling endlessly through my phone looking at things but not really taking anything in until something caught my eye. Somebody in a punk rock vinyl group was selling a bunch of Off With Their Heads records including In Desolation. I've been trying to get hold of that album for ages so I quickly messaged the guy and got a real bargain. As soon as it arrived it went straight onto the turntable and I quickly remembered just how great this album it is. I decided to put it forward as a "future classic." Let me tell you why.

First a little bit of history. Off With Their Heads are an American punk rock band that originated in Minnesota in 2002. Playing a particularly harsh and gruff form of punk rock, Off With Their Heads are lead by one of the greatest lyricists of his generation – Ryan Young. Over the years the band have had a rotating cast of members due to the band’s busy schedule and the members’ own commitments. Young has stated in the past that this has kept the band feeling fresh over the years. The band first found their way onto my radar after they released a music video for the track Fuck This, I'm Out from their 2008 album From The Bottom that was originally released on No Idea Records. I later found out that they had released a handful of EPs and singles through the Gainesville based label and this soon caught the attention of the mighty Epitaph Records. In early 2010 Off With Their Heads signed with Epitaph and that summer they released In Desolation.

For me, In Desolation is the album that really put Off With Their Heads on the punk rock map globally. What really helped was how much cleaner the production felt. On their earlier releases there was a rawness that I loved but perhaps made it a little less accessible for all fans of the punk rock genre. In Desolation managed to sound much clearer, so you can easily work out and relate to what Young is singing about, without taking away from the sound that drew people into Off With Their Heads in the first place. Young's gruff and often harsh vocals are not harmed in the production of In Desolation and arguably sound better than ever. I think it's fair to say that Young isn't the greatest singer in the world but this really is part of the charm of Off With Their Heads. It makes them into an everyman type band that you could be the lead singer for and it makes for a great live show with a whole room shouting along to every single lyric.

I've already mentioned that I think that Young is probably the greatest lyricist of his generation. He has the great ability of being able to write this incredibly relatable lyrics. They almost exclusively tackle dark and depressing topics but somehow manage to make you feel better when you're singing along with them. Make no mistake, In Desolation is an album you have to sing along to at the top of your voice with your fist planted firmly in the sky. It has that fantastic cathartic feeling that the very best music has. In Desolation is a healing album. On the album, topics tackled include trying to escape from your depression, being abused or bullied in the past and getting revenge, anxiety attacks, grieving, bad family relationships and admitting that you're not okay. Something for everyone. Clear The Air is one of the stand out tracks on the album and, for me, it's perhaps the best song lyrically I've ever heard. There are so many lines that hit home so much. It breaks your heart and really does make you feel better. If you don't know the song then I really implore you to go and read the lyrics here. Alongside Clear The Air, more standout songs are Drive, Their Own Medicine, Spare Time, All I Can Do and the piano led My Episodes but in truth every song is a banger. Off With Their Heads are without a doubt up there with the best bands of their generation and I would predict few have touched their fans in a way that Off With Their Heads did on In Desolation and continued to do on their next album, 2013's Home – also a banger!

Like Off With Their Heads here:

This future classic was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Top Tens: Paul Smith's Top Ten Be Sharp Shows at The New Cross Inn

2 years ago I started working full time for New Cross Inn after putting on Be Sharp shows at NXI every couple of months since 2012. Katy, the previous event manager, decided to move on and suggested I apply for her job. I wasn't convinced, as it was my hobby and I only did it to have fun and help out my mates with tour dates, and I didn't want to end up hating promoting.

Needless to say, it's been a pretty good couple of years and I don't completely hate the music industry (yet).

It was pretty hard to limit the best gigs to only 10, but here they are:

24th August 2016
Authority Zero w/ DropThis, Triple Sundae, Cereal Box Heroes, Fat Randall

Authority Zero are one of the best live bands on the planet and tear it up everytime they play NXI. 4 completely different punk bands supported, but it worked so well. DropThis brought the heavy (at their last ever show, RIP), Triple Sundae brought the melodic, CBH brought the pop and Fat Randall brought the skate. Sick show.

4th February 2017
Popes Of Chillitown w/ King Punch, Call Me Malcolm, The Pisdicables and tons more

My old mate Dave and myself share a birthday, support Spurs and love ska punk. So we put a ska punk gig on for our birthday. This was a very self-indulgent gig that we booked together for ourselves. We're not that popular, so it was quite the surprise that 250 people turned up to have an absolute time. Classic all dayer with all our pals' bands and all of the friends. Shout out to C-RAGE for the poster in Tottenham colours too. Sick show.

28th April 2017
Chewing On Tinfoil & Popes Of Chillitown w/ Unknown Era, Millie Manders, The Boom

This was just one of those gigs where everything came together. Popes always kill it at NXI, so I was able to book a couple of out of towners (for once). Unknown Era from Nottingham and The Boom from Derby were both incredible, and got a wonderful reception on their New Cross debuts.
About a month before the gig, Chewy got in touch asking if I had something they could jump on as they were in town supporting Choking Victim the night before. After deciding it'd be a good idea to stick them on at 11pm as an afterparty band, it just exploded. Chewing On Tinfoil & Popes Of Chillitown. Crikey. Sick show.

21st July–23rd July 2017
Level Up Fest #1
The Filaments, King Prawn, Big D And The Kids Table, The JB Conspiracy and tons more

If you visit this website, you're probably aware of Level Up so I'll spare you the details. A ska punk weekender where Be Sharp, Fishlock Promo and El Topo Bookings join forces to put on the ultimate party. I first saw the 3 headliners when I was a nipper, across various shows in 2001. 16 years later, I'm involved with putting them all on the same festival. Still stunned we pulled it off. Sick show(s).

4th August 2017
Pears w/ Great Cynics, Darko, OAHTN, CBH, Eat Dirt

That time Be Sharp, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches went up against Rebellion and the Pennywise / Teenage Bottlerocket gig across town and won. Everything was against us, but the place was packed and Pears played one of the best sets I've seen at NXI or anywhere. Also, it was the first time Eat Dirt announced themselves to the scene with a blistering 15 minute set at doors. Now I can't get rid of them. Sick show.

25th April 2018
The Bennies w/ King Punch, Just Say Nay, Paul The Kid

For a couple of years I've been trying to book The Bennies. I knew it was a good idea, as did Summers, who is their European tour manager. Eventually the stars aligned and we had an absolute rager of a Thursday night party. I lost count of the amount of times people told me it was about time they got to NXI. Sick show.

25th May 2018
Goldfinger w/ The Bottom Line

The gig of dreams. After spending most of the early 2000s watching Goldfinger play sold out shows at The Astoria and Brixton Academy, some kind of miracle occured and I booked them for a pub in South East London. It sold out in a day and was Be Sharp's finest hour. The sickest show.

12th June 2018
Pkew Pkew Pkew w/ The Burnt Tapes, Our Lives In Cinema, The Run Up

Mark from OLIC text me to ask if I'd book Pkew x3 should the opportunity arise. I said sure. As debut UK shows go, this was one of the best. Triple figures sold in advance, much to the disbelief of the band, and it was one of my favourite DIY gigs ever. The band are the sweetest guys I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. And me and Mike had a wonderful time with them at Penge Wetherspoons, introducing them to gin palace and the 'spoons app. I miss them. Sick show.

20th–22nd June 2018
Polite Riot Fest
Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream, Apologies I Have None and tons more

AKA the punk rock Level Up. Another co-pro with Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches – and what a weekend this was. Every band killed it. TBR played NXI for the first time since their last minute word of mouth appearance in 2011 and AWS were on another level. So many amazing bands and friends all weekend. Proper wholesome fest. Sick show(s).

22nd–24th July 2018
Level Up Fest #2
Lightyear, Random Hand, David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7, The Toasters and tons more

Level Up 2, bigger and better than ever. Random Hand's first London show in 3 years, The Rocksteady 7's first ever UK show… and Lightyear. How good were Lightyear? This weekend was full of pure joy and absolute madness and was even better than the previous year. Already looking forward to Level Up 3. Sick show(s).

Like Be Sharp Promotions here to keep up to date with all of their latest shows.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Album Review: It's Alive, Too! by The Young Rochelles

We're breaking from the norm today on CPRW. Today I'm reviewing a live album. In the whole four and a bit years history of the blog I've only reviewed two live albums. There's a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it's extremely rare for us to be asked to review one. Secondly, live albums are basically a best of featuring songs we all know and love already. Then New York pop punks The Young Rochelles asked if we could review their new live album, It's Alive, Too! This intrigued me. I really enjoyed their last full length album, the self titled Young Rochelles, and was very interested to hear those songs live. It was also a chance to hear some tracks that aren't from that album and generally get a feel of what to expect from a Young Rochelles live show.

If you don't know who The Young Rochelles are then they are a three piece Ramones-core pop punk band from New York. In all honesty that's probably all you really need to know about the band's sound. If I say Ramones-core I'd hope you'd instantly think of bands like Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket and, of course, The Ramones – so you know exactly what they sound like.

In true Ramones-core tradition, It's Alive, Too features sixteen songs played in just twenty-one minutes. Much like their heroes, very little time is wasted on between song banter as the band power relentlessly through song after song. This leaves the listener very little time to catch their breath and runs the risk of the songs just feeling like they all blend into one. Thankfully there is enough variety in the Young Rochelles’ songwriting to prevent this from happening, there is a clear definition between songs so you can tell when one finishes and the next begins despite the band never pausing on the whole album.

For a live album to really work I always think that it needs to capture the spirit of the band’s show. Unfortunately the crowd seems pretty quiet on the recording and at times you could be forgiven for thinking this live recording came from a practice room rather than a proper live show. It would have been nice for the crowd noise to be picked up a bit better, it's there but you have to really listen for it. That said, I really enjoyed the energy in the performance and even though you obviously can't see the band it's very easy to imagine them performing these songs on stage. The harmonies in particular sound great on this live recording and do a really good job of showcasing the band’s ability in the area. The harmonies also help to bring the live element of the album with the forefront. I imagine seeing The Young Rochelles live makes you want to sing along with the band's harmonies and it's the same on this recording – I had a really fun time doing it in my living room.

If you're new to The Young Rochelles then It's Alive, Too! works as a great introduction to the band. It works brilliantly as a best of compilation, along with giving you a sense of what to expect of the band if you ever see them live. If you're a long time fan then this is a fun addition to what's becoming quite an impressive discography.

Stream and download It's Alive, Too! here:

Like The Young Rochelles here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Album Review: Magic Gone by Petal (by Richard Mair)

Magic Gone is a truly depressing title; it sounds like it should be the soundtrack to the death knell of a relationship. A realisation that it’s over; what made it sparkle has disappeared… and in many ways that’s exactly what the sophomore album by Scranton native Kiley Lotz (without the supporting stars who accompanied her on Shame) has created. Magic Gone is sombre, cold, distant and haunting, yet at the same time beautiful, warm, endearing and passionate. In its simplest form it's quite possibly one of the most successful break-up albums I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a schizophrenic album in the best way possible and the kind of journey that only a skilled songwriter can effectively take you on; making you angry and broken or reminiscent and hopeful at the same time.

The path through “Magic Gone” is via two acts: the first “Tightrope Walker” and the second “Miracle Clinger” whilst stylistically similar show a subtle difference in Petal's outlook. The first half finds a pre-breakdown Lotz hiding from view, putting on a facade almost; with the second half offering a more bare and exposed perspective, whilst intrinsically sadder, quieter and more vulnerable; yet hopeful and optimistic. It also feels as if the first half has a feeling of trying to pretend or hide from the acceptance that a relationship is over; whereas the second shows a realisation that things have changed. The album is also much more mature than the debut “Shame”. For example, take “Photobooth” with its uplifting chorus of kissing under street lights and feeling lucky; there is certain optimism within many of the songs off that album. If “Shame” showcases the start of a new relationship, or youthful naivety, “Magic Gone” is world weary, shining a magnifying glass on the relationship and its final throes.

The real outlier on the album is opener “Better Than You”. It’s the most obvious “punk” song of the collection; fuzzy, noisy and fast. I first saw Petal live supporting Beach Slang and that’s the obvious comparison to make; however the positivity exuded by James Alex is removed and replaced by a neurotic and paranoid Petal battling through regardless. It’s a song about being isolated set to the backdrop of playing to empty rooms. As an opening track it puts you right where Lotz wants you for the forthcoming journey. Yes it’s an upbeat song but it’s dark... It’s also about being true to yourself and if anything resonates about this album it’s that one message. Don’t compromise your ideals, love yourself for who you are and cherish those around you.

Following tracks “Tightrope” and “I’m Sorry” are both painful. The first of physical pain, with a beautiful 3rd act and stunning musicality, it skips along nicely following a quiet start and in the final stages showcases Lotz’s range. It’s also the song that most reminds of the additional musicians who accompanied Lotz on “Shame”; it has some real Tigers Jaw moments. It’s a nice nod to the previous album but also helps show how Lotz has grown as an artist in her own right. The second of these is a much more personal pain; its feelings of something ending permeate through the soft guitar. It’s a tough song to listen to with Lotz admitting she is sorry over and over, before a full band kicks in at almost the 3:30 minute mark. It’s a bold move but one that pays dividends.

Last year’s “Comfort” which acted as a forerunner to the album was possibly my favourite EP of 2017 and its inclusion here is welcome. A quiet, angry song, where Lotz blames herself for the reaction she generates in others. Led by just a guitar all the heavy lifting, melody and depth is provided by Lotz’s voice; soft for most of the song but loud and defiant as the song concludes.

The first half of the album finishes with “Shy”, another simple guitar led song; it’s one that speaks again of paranoia, of second guessing the partner’s perspective and their views of Lotz. It’s a fitting end to the Tightrope Walker element. It’s the realisation that something has ended... and a great set up to side B.

Miracle Clinger by contrast feels subtly different. Kicking off with title track, “Magic Gone” finds Lotz in a different place; there seems like more resilience to the song, the feelings of giving up appear to be replaced by a feeling of moving on. It’s more contemplative and reflective as opposed to the raw pain of side A.

“Shine” is a slow burner, a beautiful guitar line accompanied by the gentle drums of the only other player on the album, Derrick Macias. It’s a song that alludes to sexual identity and partly confusion around how to fit in; or be what other people want you to be. Again the lyrics are superb and the delivery full of emotion.

Both “Carve” and “Something From Me” are quiet songs, finding Lotz in a much calmer more serene place, and act as a chance for her to showcase not only a musical ability but also a fantastic range. In terms of content Carve is very much about hiding away whilst Something From Me, with its piano melody a soft accompaniment to Lotz’s voice, deals with mundane everyday things that one often focuses on whilst having a relationship breakdown. Both are equally stunning and complement the other fantastically.

Closing track “Stardust” is special. It’s very reminiscent of a subdued track by emo legends The Hotelier; it sounds like a song that could have made it onto their last opus “Goodness” and it’s one that hits all the feels. Everything clicks from the acceptance and defiance of Lotz’s vocals to the changes in tones to the slightly off kilter melody providing a unique and paranoid feeling; at times feeling claustrophobic yet escapist as Lotz lets her voice exist in a space outside the song. This is the epic culmination of the journey where Lotz questions the life she could have had. It feels like an acceptance of past mistakes and awareness of the good things of the relationship but the end at the same time. After all the flip flop emotions, angst and frustration on show over the previous 9 songs this is the escape; this is Lotz moving on and accepting who she is and where she is in life.

Writing this review has been hard as the sheer quality of the lyrics, musicianship and craft can’t be fully appreciated by my words alone; it’s a truly living, breathing album where we get to see all the pain and emotion bottled up within the fragile human psyche as one deals with change and turmoil. I’ve obviously painted a picture of a near perfect album and in many ways it is. Everything feels polished, carefully considered and a labour of love; but at the same time it feels slightly flawed - but deliberately so. The only human element on show (Lotz’s voice) sounds completely natural, raw at times and certainly not over produced, allowing her natural accent to come through in places; when in a lower register some of the clarity gets hidden, and Lotz almost mumbles through, reinforcing the perspective of trying to hide away. These imperfections generate a human “flaw” throughout the album; reminding you all the time that this is the story of a real person. I should also add I’m typically ambivalent to what feel like “concept albums” but again here it all works and flows naturally. The journey needs to be followed as Lotz intends; taken in isolation some songs don’t click in the same way as they do when heard in order. It’s an album you have to consciously invest time in to fully appreciate, in much the same way as one would imagine Lotz has in crafting it.

Petal return to the UK later this year. Based on past performances and such a stunning collection to showcase, these gigs promise to be ones not to be missed!

Stream and download Magic Gone here:

Like Petal here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Album Review: Fangs by Dynamite Dynamite

Back in 2015 Dynamite Dynamite released one of my favourite albums of the year in Apologies/Apathy. This past April the Scunthorpe based four piece released a brand new five track EP on the magnificent Umlaut Records titled Fangs. Quite criminally it's taken me until now to get around to checking it out. Is it worth the wait?

Fangs begins with the song Good Work. After the initial intro I'm quickly reminded of why I loved Dynamite Dynamite so much in the first place - those incredible duelling vocals, one clean and one raspy. Not only does this give some great variety on the song but it allows for some amazing harmonies. I love harmonies. This is the type of song I imagine is at its very best in a live setting with some great sing-along moments, those aforementioned harmonies and some great breakdowns. Up next is Werewolves which was originally released as a single before the release of Fangs. Werewolves isn't quite like the Dynamite Dynamite I know and love. They take those superb vocals and big choruses and give it a harder and, dare I say it, more of a metal edge. The riffage on the track is really amped up to levels I've never heard before from Dynamite Dynamite.

This Town Ain't What It Used To Be sees the band go back to their more classic style. Musically there's some powerful and crunchy guitars that will really get you jumping in the pit between shouting each and every line back at the band. This is modern pop punk music done very well. The penultimate song, Bad News, is a rockier track perhaps verging towards more of an alternative rock style. It's great to hear Dynamite Dynamite playing around with these different sounds rather than sticking to the tried and tested formula. This rockier style certainly gives the song and lot more bite and a whole load of additional urgency. It shows off what a great bunch of musicians the chaps in Dynamite Dynamite are as well with some superb displays on the guitars and the drum kit. Last up is Have Mercy. Have Mercy immediately had me throwing my fist in the air with the band despite never having the heard of the song before. If that's not the sign of a great song then I'm not sure what is. This is just a great track from start to finish and if you only listen to one song on Fangs then make sure it's this one. But seriously listen to the whole EP, it's a banger.

I feel like Dynamite Dynamite are among the most underatted bands in the UK's punk rock scene. They seem to be one of those bands where either you love them or you don't know them. They don't appear to be overly active anymore in regards to playing heaps of shows but they're still putting out superb releases. Check this out!

Buy Fangs here:

Like Dynamite Dynamite here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Album Review: Sugarcane by Poor Me

Poor Me are a five piece punk rock band from Denver, Colorado. The band formed towards the end of 2010 and have recently put out their third release titled Sugarcane. Sugarcane follows on from their debut Readymade and second release Cosplay. According to the band, Sugarcane is inspired by "a proliferating feeling that the world is getting harder to navigate morally. Falsities are acceptable as warrants for our beliefs, social issues are diluted and polarized until they are palatable for the ill-informed, and confidence in ourselves is replacing the competence of collaboration. As we negotiate circumstances in our lives, we have a plethora of sources to turn to for direction. We can gut-check the moment, or we can turn to science, philosophy, religion, government, our families, etc. – each has its limits, its agendas, but increasingly, a satisfaction with conversion rather than persuasion. Watching the world turn this direction is frustrating, but not surprising... the carrot and stick has always been this effective on the masses."

The EP begins with the song So, Brother. The track starts off in quite a bouncy skate/pop punk way that really draws you in. And then, just like that, Poor Me flick the switch and the vocals jump into an intense raspy hardcore style that reminded me of Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere. This really gave a lot of life to the song and left me really wanting more. The second track on the EP, Mistakes Can Be Made, has a bit of a theatrical rock element alongside Brett Delaney's superb vocals. It really feels as if Poor Me take us on somewhat of a ride full of fantastic melodies and hard hitting intensity. The track is about realising that you don't have to be perfect all of the time and coming to the conclusion that you better yourself by learning from your mistakes.

Up next is the EP's title track, Sugarcane. Sugarcane certainly has a bit of an 80s metal edge to it. Not the cheesy hair metal stuff but the good stuff. The first third of the song is spent building towards the chorus and the shift in tempo is really striking in the most wonderful of ways. The poppier sound of the chorus really made me fall in love with the track, it's jam packed with energy. The penultimate track on Sugarcane is named Papa Tells Me. I really enjoyed the atmospheric beginning to the song with a jangly guitar riff, simple drum pattern and a soft ooooh-ing harmony all accompanying Delaney's vocal. This jumps into a harder style at will that quickly had me headbanging along to the song. I think that this song, perhaps more than the others on Sugarcane, really shows off what a great bunch of musicians Poor Me are. The final track on the EP is Perpetrators and is more of a straight forward punk rock song. Sure there are plenty of shifts in tempo but the theatrics are toned down. Poor Me manage to squeeze some of their most melodic and most intense moments into this four minute masterpiece that captivated me from beginning to end.

I didn't know much about Poor Me before getting sent Sugarcane. I really enjoyed the originality of this EP. It's taken the melodic hardcore punk rock sound and given it a whole new twist. This is a great EP from a great upcoming band.

Stream and download Sugarcane here:

Like Poor Me here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Album Review/Column: MXPX by MXPX (by Dan Peters)

Here is my totally unbiased review of the new self-titled MXPX album in fifty words or less. It’s the single greatest piece of musical art to come into my life in the last 6 years and I loved it without reservation and will do till the end of time.

Phew now that I’ve got that out the way, what I’d like to talk about is the fact that one of the biggest bands of my childhood decided to Kickstart this album for funding and what that says about the music industry. MXPX are far from the first band to have kickstarted an album but, in my narrow view of musical genres, they are certainly the biggest and, bless them, they have been incredibly candid throughout the process when people have asked questions. They therefore make an excellent case study on the trend of crowdfunding music.

MXPX were a band in their twilight circa 2012. Their previous full length album, Plans Within Plans, is noticeably darker in tone than anything that came before it with songs like Screw Loose, Cast Down My Heart and Nothings Gonna Change casting a bit of a shadow over a group whose positive lookout on life had always been such a strong part of their personality. The band has had numerous issues with record labels over the years and have been open about not being well compensated for record sales. After years of hopping from label to label it seemed like Plans Within Plans would be the last official release of the band. MXPX alumni Tom and Yuri stopped touring and MXPX All Stars became a thing instead of a true blue touring MXPX.

Cut to around 2013 and Mike Herrera started an acoustic solo project, and in doing so fully embraced social media to get his music out there. MXPX stayed alive through sheer force of will on Mike's behalf and he can be found in numerous acoustic appearances on any number of social media outlets and YouTube channels. This experimentation with how to distribute their music led to an official MXPX acoustic album and also an official from the ground up re-recording of Life In General on Bandcamp. For me it was a dream, having such easily accessible music from my favourite band and I’m sure a lot of other people felt the same.

Then the Kickstarter happened. The band explained that they were all together again, that they loved what they did again and that they weren’t having anything more to do with labels and the stresses that come with being tied down. They had already recorded the music and set a modest $48,000 dollar target to help market and distribute the album. Having your favourite band explain they’re back in full force and that for a small amount you can help their dream come true was an easy sell for their huge and passionate fanbase. They absolutely smashed the target, coming in well over $200,000 at the close of the campaign. Finally, blessedly we got the MXPX album we’ve been waiting for and it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more.

The lyrics are full of joy and hope and there’s a lot of mention of that “weekend” feeling, symbolic to me because in order to get to the weekend you have to slog through the week to appreciate it and this is a band who went through that slog and is clearly now in an excellent place. The full line-up is in check, the energy, excitement pure unadulterated joy (in songs like All Of It) can be clearly felt. So what changed? Certainly having some time away from something can make you miss it more, but I think it’s the freedom that came with unshackling themselves from the main things tying them down. Let’s Ride, an album standout track, is about the freedom to go and travel wherever you like and when you’re attached to a label you’re beholden to them and don’t have that freedom. Having to only please fans that love you enough already to support you in your career is a far better way to live (although no less daunting due to expectations). There have been a spate of “surprise” albums over the last 18 months, where artists have put out their newest creations without pomp and ceremony and, for me personally, MXPX are the biggest of the bunch. Anything that takes away from the music industry and places the power back with the artists is a great thing in my mind and I hope many more bands are encouraged to follow suit as a result.

So, in conclusion, this was a very differently created album and is a richer happier more fulfilling experience to listen to as a result. There will be no prizes for guessing what will be at the top of my end of year lists and I can’t recommend you listen to it enough.

Like MXPX here:

This review/column was written by Dan Peters.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

News: Loads Of Shows At The New Cross Inn This September

So I think I might be moving in to the New Cross Inn this September. Be Sharp Promotions alongside Umlaut Records, Till The Wheels, Make-That-A-Take Records have announced six superb punk and ska shows featuring bands from England, Scotland, America and Canada. Check out the details below.

Sept 7th / UNIFORMS / Break-Ups - Band / Crushed Veneer / 1 more TBC

Top Tens: Ten Reasons To Keep Going To Gigs In Your Thirties

Recently I've seen an article about how going to gigs makes you live longer floating around on the social media. I'm sure you've probably seen it as well, as the kids would say "it's pretty viral innit bare tings." Whenever I see this article pop up it always gets me thinking about how I'm now making some good headway into my thirties and I still spend a lot of my spare time and income travelling into London in the middle of a week for a gig, very often multiple times a week. This is some contrast to some of my nearest and dearest friends of the same age who are happily married, have beautiful kids, successful careers and are home owners. I often think that I should slow down all of this gig going and think about becoming a proper grown up.… and then I learn about another upcoming gig than I simply cannot miss. It's an ongoing and endless cycle. Whenever I think about quitting the going to gigs game, I quickly remember what I love about going to gigs. So, I've compiled a list of reasons I still love going to gigs in my thirties.

1. Music Is Best Experienced Live
You may have already realised this if you've been following this blog over the past four years but I am a bit of a music fan. Growing up there was always music on in our family house and that tradition has continued in Emma and mine's little house in Bedford. Whether we're playing a record or streaming music, we're usually listening to something. I'm not up to date with any of the current 'box sets', ask me if I've seen a film and the answer will more than likely be no. That's because I prefer listening to music and I love it even more when I experience it live. There's something so special about seeing a band play your favourite songs right in front of you. I feel like this is really how you were supposed to experience these songs.

2. Meeting Your New Best Pals
Think about the friends you've made since you left education. Are the majority of them from work? A lot of mine are too, and many are definitely lifelong ones, but do you find that whenever you meet up away from work that work still dominates the conversation? I've found it's different with my gig friends. We never talk about work, we talk about the thing we love more than anything in the world – music! (Except when the World Cup is on, when the World Cup is on we talk about the World Cup).

3. It's Better Than Watching The Rubbish That Is On TV Most Evenings
What would you rather do with your evening? Watch the latest episode of your favourite soap or reality TV show or go out and see a great band? It's a no brainer for me – great band every single time! Something I've never quite been able to fathom is why someone would stay in to watch a TV show instead of going out and seeing people doing something fun. Especially in this day and age of catch up TV.

4. Don't You Just Feel A Bit Old And Creepy In A Club?
Admittedly I have been in clubs very few times in my entire life let alone since I reached my thirties but I can only imagine that if I was going to now I'd feel extremely uncomfortable and out of place. I'd feel like I was twice as old as everyone else, I'd worry that the young ladies would be cold in their fashionable going to clubs (I guess) dresses, I'd be worried about accidentally bumping into anyone and I would just hate the overly macho attitude of the gentleman in attendance. Quite ironically I'd complain about how loud the music is and how I can't hear anything my friends are saying. At a punk show it's very very rare for these type of feelings to occur. I love the comfort zone of a punk rock show.

5. It's The Best Way To Support Your Favourite Bands
In this digital age where you can hear music from all your favourite acts for free the best way to support them financially is by going to see them at a show (and maybe buying some merch). That's as good a reason for keeping going to my gigs in my thirties as anything I can think of. If nobody goes to see bands live then they can't afford to keep on being a band and then the gigs stop and I spend every night sitting at home being quite bored and miserable.

6. It's Also The Best Way To Support Your Local Venue
I read a stat recently that stated that something like four pubs in the UK close every day. A lot of this is due to gentrification with councils and land devleopers deciding that we need more yuppy apartments. If all the pubs and music venues close then there will be nowhere for bands to play. Then they can't make money and stop being bands. Then I spend every night sitting at home being quite bored and miserable.

7. It's Much More Fun Than Going To The Gym
Going to the gym seems to be cool these days. Getting fit is important and I commend anyone who tries to keep their bodies fit and healthy. I like to try and keep fit but I like my exercise to feel like I'm having fun and not just endlessly repeating myself lifting things or running without ever getting anywhere. Instead I like to go to a ska gig and spend a couple of hours skanking away and singing along to my favourite songs and, as it's a ska show, more than likely a couple of covers. That's so much more fun than attempting to do a sit up.

8. Reunion Shows
It's always fun to be a bit cool and smug and say that you remember when a band was playing pub shows once they hit big and start playing large venues. It's even more fun when you can say I remember this band before they got back together for this run of reunion shows. That's something you can only really do when you're an older gig goer.

9. It's Great For Your Mental Health
There's so much rubbish in life that is so easy to get bogged down with. Between the stresses of working, chores, paying bills, supporting Crystal Palace and the country seeming like it's falling apart more and more each day, it's important to continue to keep doing the things you love, no matter how old you are. It will keep you happy, it'll continue to give you amazing memories and most importantly it will keep you sane.

10. Your Bands You've Seen Live Spreadsheet Will Have Even Higher Numbers
I assume it's not just me and C-Rage who have written down every single band we've ever seen and totted up exactly how many times we've seen them. Imagine having been regularly going to gigs for ten to twenty years and therefore what an impressive list of bands you are likely to have. Then think about how all your friends are going to love hearing about all your stats.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Album Review: Resurgence by For Heads Down

For Heads Down are a five piece melodic punk rock band from Siegen in Germany. Back in July they released their second album Resurgence with the help of Melodic Punk Style Records. The thirteen track album promises crunching riffs, pounding drums running alongside melodic vocals and catchy choruses.

The opening track Fatty Livers And Deep Pockets is a positive song about feeling better when you get on stage and play a gig. It's about how you can forget all of life's problems and find a way to escape. It's the same feeling we all get when we attend gigs. When I first clicked play on the track I kind of expected more of a harder edge to the poppy sound that greeted us, this sound worked really well with the message within the song however. On the next song, In This Case, we feel the harder edge of the For Heads Down sound. Christian Kalmbach puts in a sterling performance behind the drum kit as his beat really gives the song an incredibly strong back bone. Alongside this we have some wonderfully urgent sounding guitars with Philipp Nowotny's soaring vocals. This is the sound I expected from For Heads Down and I really enjoyed it. How It Feels continues with this sound. The song has a pounding also metal-like intro that had my head banging immediately. For Heads Down do something really interesting on the song with the music and vocals seemingly being played at different tempos to create quite an effect. This adds more urgency behind Nowotny's emotional lyrics.

The fourth song, Stuck In Reverse, starts out with a huge sing-along beginning before we get into some proper shouty vocals that add some aggression into the song. I hadn't really realised that some aggression was missing from the songs before it was added. I think this is where For Heads Down are at their very best. Last Man Standing makes you feel like For Heads Down are going to slow things down for the fifth song with some more jangly guitars and a more plodding style until the vocals hit and come at you faster than ever. It's when we reach the chorus that you feel fully involved in the song as you can shout along "Til I'm the last man standing, believe in the better times." This is a song that takes you through a series of highs and lows before slowly fading out and launching into the fifty second song Calculator. Sound wise this is a definite ode to the 90s EpiFat sound that has influenced so many of the current crop of punk rock bands throughout the world. If you love that EpiFat sound then I'm very confident that you're really going to enjoy this song. The seventh song is titled Side Effects. This track continues the melodic punk rock style, with the longer intro to the song really standing out. It feels kind of retrospective, a song that is supposed to make you think and take a look at yourself.

Goals features an incredible guitar solo which alone is worth listening to the song for. The vocals on the track feel more subdued compared to what we've heard on Resurgence so far and it's a welcome change as it adds a bit of variety to the album. Following this is a slightly poppier number in the form of Much The Same. It features one of those great long intros that make you feel like something big is about to happen. It ticks all of the boxes for melodic punk rock – crunching guitars, powerful drumming and soaring vocals. This is a great advertisement for what For Heads Down are all about. The title of the tenth track is Quiet Irony. Quiet Irony starts off slowly with some rumbling bass and slowly builds up. This build gives the song a hell of a lot of intensity from the outset. We are then greeted by a kind of clunking style with Nowotny's vocals working overtime to carry the melody of the track. I really enjoyed this approach to the song as I thought it really spiced things up a bit.

Smile is a song about looking back on your life in the search for answers. This track again sees For Heads Down in retrospective mode. Like on How It Feels, it feels as if the music and vocals are going at two different tempos which creates a great sound. This is one of those great songs where you can listen to it ten times in a row and keep hearing new little bits that you love. The penultimate track is titled Wasting Time. Wasting Time is probably my favourite song on Resurgence. Musically it's a little harder than anything else but features great sing-along moments throughout. The build towards the big finale is superb and I can imagine a room full of people with fists in the air shouting the words back at the band. This is what I love. Last up is the five and half minute long Feeding The Beast. Being such a length I was expecting this to be an epic ending to Resurgence but if I'm being completely honest it felt as if it could have been placed anywhere on the album. That doesn't stop it being a great song, because it is but I was really expecting something a bit more.

Melodic punk rock seems to be making a big come back throughout Europe. Resurgence is a very aptly named album and should cement For Heads Down among the very best in the genre.

Stream and download Resurgence here:

Like For Heads Down here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Album Review: Hi-Sci Fidelity by The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks

It's been ages since I reviewed a split release. I've always enjoyed a good split and I've always felt like they are win win for everyone. With multiple bands on a release the recording and manufacturing costs for the bands are split and for the consumer there's the opportunity to check out more bands for the same price of what you'd pay for one. Everybody wins. Because of my love for a good split I was absolutely stoked to come across a new one from pop punk bands The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks named Hi-Sci Fidelity. Released by Milksop Records, the split features two songs from both bands and was out in in July.

The Radio Buzzkills are the first band featured on Hi-Sci Fidelity. The Radio Buzzkills are a five piece band from St. Louis, Missouri, who formed in February of 2016. Their first track on the split is titled Without A Trace and is about travelling around the galaxy trying to save your dream girl and then vanishing. With an EP title of Hi-Sci Fidelity you had to know this was going to be a sci-fi pop punk fest, right? Musically it's what you would expect – fast music, sugary sweet vocals and brilliant harmonies. If you love Star Wars, you'll love this song. Radio Buzzkills' second track is named Mulder Suicide. This track is about feeling like you're competing for the affections of your partner with Mulder from The X-Files. Obviously it's a bit of a silly song but there is also a sadness in lead singer Zac Buzzkill's vocals that make you feel genuinely sorry for him.

The Hypnic Jerks take the second half of the EP. The four piece from Chicago are fresh from releasing their album, Lost In Love, back in October of 2017 and contribute one song from Lost In Love as well as a new one. Planet Zero is up first and was originally featured on Lost In Love. Here we have a Ramonescore pop punk track in a similar vein to bands such as The Queers or Teen Idols. Starting out with quite an instrumental opening before lead singer Pat's vocals come in along with a pounding drum beat that adds to the energy of the track. This then slips into a more melodic style as Pat sings about going off to save the girl from Planet Zero. Inanimate Lifeform is a brand new track recorded for Hi-Sci Fidelity and is probably my favourite of the four songs on the split. It features a softer more poppier style and at times there is even a hint of surf rock included. A genre The Queers themselves often included in their music. I couldn't help but smile my way through the entire song, particularly the "ooooh-ooooh" parts.

The Radio Buzzkills and The Hypnic Jerks are both great new pop punk bands. I'm forever discovering fantastic Ramonescore pop punk bands and this split EP serves as a brilliant introduction to two great bands – I will be going out of my way to delve into their back catalogues.

Stream and download Hi-Sci Fidelity here:

Like The Radio Buzzkills here:

Like The Hypnic Jerks here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.