Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Album Review: Shutup by Millie Manders and The Shutup

Millie Manders is a name that has been tipped to be a big breakout star from the UK's underground music scene for a while now. Mille, along with her band The Shutup, have been wowing crowds all over the UK with their high octane live performances and fantastic songs. I've said a few times on CPRW just what a fantastic performer Millie herself is. During September (sorry for the delay, holidays and stuff) Millie Manders and The Shutup released a brand new EP titled Shutup on Bad Granola Records and Bredda Records.

Shutup begins with the song Right To Life. The track begins slowly with Millie showing off her phenomenal vocal range. Fantastic warbling! Then the song really takes to life with a frantic brass section that injects an unbelievable amount of energy into the track. From there we get some fast paced, almost rapping vocals from Millie that give the verse some attitude before we hit the chorus which contains a massive hook. Mille continues to show off her impressive vocal range to the back straight of the song, as she switches to a growling death metal style similar to Teddy from Obsession Transgression. Following Right To Life is the track Brave. Brave sees more of those fast paced vocals accompanied by some background drumming. It's an interesting way to start the song, a quite minimalist approach that really catches your attention. The song is about having the courage to live your life how you want to and not the way society says you should.

Track number three, Lollipops, was a stand out from MMATSU's EP launch at the New Cross Inn back in September. Swaying into more of a pop punk with horns style, Lollipops draws you in with simple guitar. Millie's vocal soon joins and builds the song up nicely. Lollipops sees the band stray into politics as it talks about our government dropping bombs on innocent people. This is the first time I've heard Millie's songwriting go in this direction and I really enjoyed it. One That Got Away finished Shutup in a big way. The tone of the guitars at the beginning of the track gives it a massive sound and the horns add the energy to the song. Of course, the thing that really stands out is the chorus of "I'll be the one that got away." Simple but brilliant for having a big sing-along. This line is the big earworm of the entire EP. The energy on the whole track is completely infectious and really finished the EP on a gigantic high.

Shutup is Millie Manders and The Shutup's best work to date. All four songs on the EP are highlights in their own way and I really enjoyed how each song has its own distinct sound whilst still remaining a MMATSU song. I've felt for a while that this band's career is on a very upward trajectory. After the release of Shutup, I can only see that trajectory getting steeper and steeper. This is an immensely talented band who deserve your attention.

Stream and download Shutup here:

Like Millie Manders and The Shutup here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Album Review: 1000 Daisies by Stöj Snak (by Emma Prew)

Since seeing Niels Højgaard Sørensen and his band live at Manchester Punk Festival 2017 – playing the best set of the weekend no less – I’ve been eagerly anticipating whatever Stöj Snak would release next. Following the 2016 album ScreamerSongwriter, 1000 Daisies is a brand new 3-track EP from the Danish band that was released in September. It is available as a pay-what-you-want download but the important thing is that you pay something as all proceeds go to a worthy cause:

‘This EP was written and recorded for the fundraiser to save the venue 1000Fryd in Aalborg, Denmark. Having this venue around has been of great importance for us growing up in our small town and after being part of the scene at 1000Fryd for almost 20 years, it is still our favourite place to go as both audience and performers.’

The first song on the EP is its namesake, 1000 Daisies. Fast paced and lively from the outset, the combination of bouncy double bass, frantic acoustic guitar strumming and scratchy washboard instantly remind me how much I love the Stöj Snak sound. The music hooked me in and had my head nodding enthusiastically but it is the lyrics that really made their mark. 1000 Daisies is about how important DIY music venues are to musicians and music fans alike, especially in the punk scene, all over the world. Of course the song is a tribute to 1000Fryd in Denmark but the sentiment applies to all small venues and I’m sure Niels intended it that way. The lines that lead us into the chorus particularly hit home – ‘Without knowing the words we sing along, For the music belongs to everyone, There's so much hatred outside of these walls but, In this pit we pick up those who fall.’ What a gloriously powerful song. 

Opening with some gentle acoustic guitar, the second song on the EP is much slower than the first. The combination of instruments is subtle but if you listen closely there is quite a variety, from xylophone to melodica! By its title and the opening line of ‘The world’s gone to shit’, I’m sure you can make an educated guess about what Election Night might be about. I don’t know much (anything) about Danish politics but I do know that the UK isn’t the only country where people are frustrated with those in power and so, like 1000 Daisies, Election Night is a song that is bigger than itself. The song is angry but in a subdued sort of way. The message conveyed is that we’re not happy with what our leaders are doing to our countries but we did what we could and voted, we’ll do it again in another four years – we won’t give up. Bringing this trio of tracks to its conclusion is Bitter Place. This is the longest of the three songs with a duration of almost 6 minutes and a reasonably lengthy instrumental introduction to kick things off. It’s progressive and almost eerie in sound as a guitar, this time electric, plays a haunting melody. A second layer of acoustic strumming comes in after too long and the volume increases a little. When Niels’ vocals do eventually come in, after over a minute, his voice feels softer and less strained than it perhaps usually does. Bitter Place is as sad as it is sincere – ‘You are not weak you’ve just been strong for too long, And all hope is not gone, But you just long for somewhere to belong.’ I feel like this song showcases a different side to Stöj Snak that I’ve not really heard before – certainly not on the other two songs on this EP. A sign of what we could potentially expect from the next Stöj Snak full-length perhaps?

You can support 1000Fryd now by downloading (and listening to) 1000 Daisies on Bandcamp. Also be sure to check out and like Stöj Snak on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew. 

Monday, 29 October 2018

Album Review: Goodbye My Love by Vanilla Pod

Earlier this year Vanilla Pod sadly announced that they were calling it a day after twenty-three years together as a band. But before they leave us, they've been playing goodbye shows all over the country with the London show being on the 2nd of November at the New Cross Inn. The band have also released a final EP as a surprise. Titled Goodbye My Love, it's released by a big handful of DIY punk labels including Horn & Hoof Records, Aaahh!!! Real Records, Brassneck Records, TNSrecords, Make-That-A-Take RecordsDisconnect Disconnect Records and Speedowax. Vanilla Pod are one of the most beloved UK punk bands of all time and I was certain this farewell EP would see the band go out with a bang.

Goodbye My Love begins with Disgracer. It's not long until we are greeted with Rob Bunting's familiar vocal as he leads us through a heavy hitting, up tempo, melodic skate punk track. It might be because he's been in the game so long now but Rob has one of the most distinctive voices in the UK scene. If a Pod track comes on that you don't know, you will instantly know who you're listening to. Of course the song hits its high point during the chorus as the band belt out "I know that I'm a waster, And I know that I could be better, I know that I'm a waster, fuck you me." Grey begins with a rumbly bassline from Matt Clarke before he's joined by the rest of the band for another hard hitting track about the problems of alcohol abuse. This may be the final Vanilla Pod release but they're certainly not taking it easy on the subject matter. I've often felt that Vanilla Pod are a very underrated band lyrically. On Grey they are at their very best, extremely relatable and perhaps even cathartic on this number.

The third track on Goodbye My Love is titled Waster. This is classic Vanilla Pod. From the beginning Rob is straining his voice as he belts out the opening verse and quickly moves on to a chorus that you'll be singing along to during your first listen of the song. I enjoyed how the song builds throughout and finishes with some fantastic harmonies. If a song has a harmony, it's always a hit with me. Finally we have G.O.B. As a final Vanilla Pod song, this had to be great. It had to cement one of the best legacies in UK punk rock. Of course the Pod boys smashed this song. It feels like a celebration of the long career of the band. The highlight is of course the duelling vocals that make up a big portion of the track – it gives so much energy to the track, it's so infectious. The song actually has quite a sombre feel at its finale as Rob sings "It's over now, I don't want it to be."

When I first saw that Vanilla Pod were releasing one final EP I was a little worried that it might be a bit half-arsed because it was their last hurrah. I needn't have worried as Goodbye My Love is a superb piece of work. All four songs could fit nicely into their entire discography. This is such a fitting end for one of the hardest working, dedicated and, most importantly, finest band our UK scene has ever produced. When many of their contemporaries from the late 90s/early 2000s scene called it a day, Vanilla Pod kept on going and helped to build the next generation's scene. Vanilla Pod are legends and will be so sorely missed. They're not here for much longer, so let's make sure we all see them one last time to give them the send off they richly deserve.

Stream and download Goodbye My Love here:

Like Vanilla Pod here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 October 2018

CPRW Playlist: October 2018

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

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Top Tens: Ten Books Colin Would Like To See Written

Ever since I got my Kindle a few years ago I've become a bit of a reading machine. Along with fantasy and comedy books, I really enjoy reading books about punk rock. I've really enjoyed reading Tranny, Punk Rock Dad, So This Is Ready, Gainesville Punk, How To Ruin A Record Label, NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub & Other Stories and many more. Some of these book have been real eye-openers into some of the history of punk rock. It has got me thinking about more punk rock books and stories I'd like to learn about in more detail. I've put together a list of ten books I'd love to read. Of course some of these stories might be deeply personal and I would never suggest that these books need to be written, I'm just saying that if these people were willing to tell their story I'd be very interested to read. Also, if these books have been written already please send links my way so I can check them out.

The UK Punk Scene in the 2000s
I know that the chaps in Lightyear are currently making a documentary about the punk scene in the UK in the early 2000s but I'd love for there to be a book on the subject as well. You can go into much more detail with a book. My, like many people my age, first introduction into proper DIY punk rock in the UK was through bands like Lightyear, Capdown, King Prawn, [Spunge], 4ft Fingers, Phinius Gage, Whitmore, Jesse James, Adequate 7, No Comply, Captain Everything, Consumed, Vanilla Pod and many more bands that are still much loved almost twenty years later. I'd love to learn about how that scene came together and ultimately faded away.

James Bowman of Against Me!
By now we all know the story of Laura Jane Grace. But I've always be interested to hear what her best friend and guitarist of Against Me! James Bowman's take on it all. Obviously what happened was game changing not just for Laura but all of Against Me!. It could have been the end for Against Me! which is Bowman's livelihood. It's also discovering that your best friend has been keeping this massive secret from you all these years and dealing with all of the emotions of these impending changes, knowing things will never be the same again. That's a side of the story I'd be interested in hearing.

Streetlight Manifesto vs Victory Records
Fans of ska punk will no doubt be well aware of the lawsuit between New Jersey band Streetlight Manifesto and their former label Victory Records. The band and the label had a poor relationship for years and years which eventually resulted in Streetlight's leader Tomas Kalnoky getting sued by Victory. I'd be interested to learn about what actually went on and the strain that must have put on Kalnoky's life and whether or not it affected his love for music.

An Idiots Guide To Running A DIY Record Label and Putting On DIY Shows
The bigger that CPRW gets the more I communicate with DIY labels and promoters. I've always been interested to learn about what goes on and just how much hard work goes into it. How you go about doing it and, ultimately, is it really worth doing it?

Mike McColgan of Street Dogs
Mike McColgan seems to have lead a very interesting life. In the early 1990s he served for the U.S. Army in the Gulf War, he then became a founding member of the Dropkick Murphys, recording one album before leaving to become a fireman and then becoming a full time member of the Street Dogs. The man has lived a very interesting adult life, that is for sure. I'd love to hear his stories from being in the army and the fire brigade, his thoughts on starting the Dropkick Murphys and whether he ever felt any bitterness towards them as they started to take off and whether he felt any pressure for the Street Dogs to have some success because of what the Dropkick Murphys had become.

Derrick Johnston of Make-That-A-Take/Tragical History Tour/Uniforms
I don't think there's anyone I respect more in the UK punk scene than Derrick "Deeker" Johnston. He's a member of bands such as Joey Terrifying, Shitgripper, Uniforms and his acoustic solo project Tragical History Tour as well as running Make-That-A-Take Records. The label that not only puts out records from the best of the Scottish punk scene (and beyond) but also puts on loads of shows and the legendary Book-Yer-Ane-Fest. He's a man that has put his whole life into supporting the punk scene and helping to make it a better place. In his life he has had to slay some demons but seems to come out the other side as the embodiment of everything I think the UK punk scene should be.

The Origins Of Band Names
Punk rock bands have long had some of the most interesting names. I'm sure, like me, you've always wondered why a band has picked a particular name, what the origin is, whether it's an in-joke, were there other options, do they regret it? Imagine if a load of bands got together and contributed to a book with all the information you could possibly want. I'd read that.

Punk Rockers Against Mental Health
Mental health is a subject that is being discussed more and more by punk rock bands and this is a good thing. I think it would make for a good book if someone collected pieces from people in the scene talking about their experiences with mental health. I feel like a book like this could help a lot of people and give more exposure to the topic of mental health. The more it's discussed the less of a taboo it comes.

Ryan Greene
Ryan Greene is an American music producer who played a massive part in shaping the 1990's skate punk sound that is still loved today. In Motor Studios in San Francisco, he worked on albums with legendary bands such as NOFX, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, Propagandhi, Good Riddance, Pulley, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Strung Out, Nerf Herder, The Dickies and many, many more. I can only imagine the stories this man has about creating history.

Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads
I forget how many times I've claimed that Ryan Young is the best lyricist of his generation. So many of his songs are so heartbreaking but also so cathartic. It seems like it would be an incredibly sad book but also a must read to get an insight into those lyrics. I would also love to know more about the formation of Off With Their Heads, what it's been like having a rotating cast of members and the highs and lows of being in that band.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Album Review: Mea Culpa by Dead End Drive-In

Being from Canada seems to be the mark of being a great band. That great country is a conveyor belt for my new favourite punk band. Whenever I work my way through the punk section on Bandcamp discovery, you can always guarantee at least one of the bands that catch my attention will be from Canada. My latest find is Dead End Drive-In. This five piece comes from Vancouver and just released a brand new album named Mea Culpa.

Mea Culpa begins with the song The Music I Can't Hear. After an elongated intro that has me thinking of bands such as Iron Chic or Elway, things slow down to allow a dramatic and theatrical vocal that really grabs your attention. It gives Dead End Drive-In this massive sound that feels like it would work equally well in a tiny basement or a big arena. As the song progresses the tempo increases and so does the intensity. The track is about avoiding facing the truth and feeling sorry for yourself. Up next is Apathy Kills Again which is about wanting things to change but not being willing to do it yourself. On this song Dead End Drive-In really showcase want a great group of musicians they are, in particular there is a fantastic guitar solo midway through the song. The band seem to be experts in the extended introduction to a song that has you eagerly anticipating the vocals beginning. The same can be said about the third song, Echo Chamber. It's full on an infectious energy that has you ready to explode when the vocals come in. This feels like much more of a punk rock banger with its punchy delivery and big sing-along moments. Echo Chamber is about realising that it is okay to stick to your guns in an argument even if it means you could potentially be outcast.

Saturated Sponge is about how our minds are so full of things forced upon us by the media that it's hard to have your own original thoughts. It sounds as if Dead End Drive-In feel very strongly about this subject as there is a lot more venom in the vocals on this track. The short and simple chorus of "but this sponge is saturated, this sponge is saturated" is a fantastic section to shout along to at the top of your voice. The fifth song Floodgate gets started with some lovely big "whoa-ohs" which will instantly pull a listener in. We all love a "whoa-oh." I loved the build during the second half of the track, starting off quite quietly before gradually picking up tempo, volume and intensity that leads us to more "whoa-ohs" that book end the song perfectly. Floodgate is about getting in to an argument with someone but neither of you really winning. I really liked this as a subject for a song, it's very thoughtful and not one that you ever find in punk rock music.

Track six is titled A Stranger Kind. This song is about taking a chance on meeting strangers and having the greatest time. A Stranger Kind starts out with an almost country music feel to it before it gradually shifts into a fast paced punk rock jam. The song really hooks you in as its pace increases and by its end you'll find yourself breathless after screaming along with the song. The brilliantly named Dominant Male Monkey Motherfucker is up next. It's the shortest of all the songs on Mea Culpa at two minutes and fifty-four seconds long. I should have probably mentioned that the majority of the tracks on the album are a little on the long side of what I'm used to listening to, most are over four minutes long – but at no point do any feel like they're dragging. I'm sure you might have guessed from the song's title that it is about the ridiculous nature of the "alpha male" and how they often have a pack of idiots who blindly follow them.

Up next is Tomorrow's Idiot which is more of a slow plodding song. I really enjoyed the way the song is written, there's a simple song structure and melody that will have you singing along pretty quickly. Particularly to the chorus which is so catchy and easy to remember – "today you're just tomorrow's idiot (x3), today your head's just stuck in the clouds". The song is about having a really strong and passionate opinion about a topic but going the wrong way about expressing it to people and ultimately coming across as a fool. The penultimate song is Bus. Bus feels more like an alternative rock song with some pretty angst filled vocals that give it a punk edge. It's a mid-tempo number with some more incredible musicianship including a guitar solo that finishes the track in some style. Bus is about bumping into someone from your past and feeling embarrassed about where you are in your life compared to them. The tenth and final track on Mea Culpa is named Chameleon. When I saw that this song was almost six minutes in length I had a feeling that this would be a big epic track. The track is played at a higher tempo than I was initially expecting, this is good as it helps the song fly by. I think if the song was a slower song I would definitely get bored before the end. The higher tempo helps inject a great amount of energy and keeps you interested throughout.

I really enjoyed this effort from Dead End Drive-In. It's not a punk album in the traditional sense but captures the punk rock spirit tremendously. The songs are extremely well played and the lyrical content is superb. I love finding bands like this that I've never heard of and being blown away by just how good they are. What a great find, a great album and a great band.

Stream and download Mea Culpa here:

Like Dead End Drive-In here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Album Review: Short Tales For Braves by 30 Miles (by Omar Ramlugon)

I confess, I’ve not listened to a single Italian punk band other than Dufresne, who I also only knew because of their rather great cover of Texas Is the Reason’s ‘Antique’. Luckily this set a fairly high standard, so it was with little to no trepidation I put on the new LP from Firenze’s very own 30 Miles’, Short Tales for Braves.

Opener ‘The Forest’ adds slow layers of ambience before bursting into life in a breathless charge, with some smart serrated melodic guitar sequestered amongst the crunching power chords, only to wind back in on itself and adopt a slower pace for the rest of things. It’s an ambitious opener, and is swiftly followed by ‘Candle Thief’ and ‘Brotherhood Spirit’ which burst out of the speakers with some well-placed harmony vocals and some machine gun palm-muting reminiscent of A Wilhelm Scream.

The latter comparison is one that comes to mind several times over the course of the album, albeit with a vocal styling more reminiscent of Waxwing’s more desperate moments rather than Nuno Pereira’s muscular bark, with the odd jangly guitar filigree tossed in here and there to add some flavour to the stew. The production ably reflects the strong performances from every member of the band, with the bass given a pleasing clarity and thump that helps to highlight the counterpoint and melody it supplies rather than simply following the guitar’s chord progression.

‘Their Brains Upside Down’ is a pleasing harmony-laden left turn, perhaps more reminiscent of The Smiths or The Cure rather than other such bludgeoning touchstones as mentioned before, and it’s a nice little twist in the middle of the record. ‘Painter on Panic’ is something of a sprawling epic, as punk goes, while ‘The Illusionist’ piles on the dirt and snarling vocals for an aggressive, attacking song that is definitely one of the highlights, even adding a pretty ripping guitar solo for good measure. ‘The Beasts’ lives up to its name with a foreboding spoken word intro before some metal-influenced ripping and some outright bellowed vocals practically going for your throat.

Short Tales for Braves isn’t long – around 33 minutes – but it packs a lot into a short time, showing that these young men have a fair few tricks in their bag. Not everything works, and some of the songs might have been enhanced by cutting the odd bit of noodling here and there, but it’s a strong and well played outing. Arguably the best moments are where the band really cuts loose and delves into its heavier side; definitely worth a spin.

Stream and download Short Tales For Braves here:

Like 30 Miles here:

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Album Review: Learning How To Lie by Katie MF (by Emma Prew)

Katie MF is an anti-/alt- folk/punk musician from London. We have featured Katie MF as ‘band of the week’ here at CPRW in the past but after seeing Katie plus her band live for the first time in September, supporting Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves at the New Cross Inn, I was keen to have a further listen to the debut Katie MF EP, Learning How To Lie, which was released back in April this year.

The first of five tracks on Learning How To Lie is titled Leaving For The Last Time. Opening with some muted yet rhythmic palm-muted guitar, this song eases us in gently and allows for Katie’s vocals to take the forefront. And damn it’s a good voice! Overall Leaving For The Last Time is a fairly slow paced song but it does seem to build as it progresses, both in speed, volume and passion. I guess this is a break-up song of sorts but it feels remarkably affirmative despite this. Next up is Feelgood Films which is certainly more upbeat than the first track and I’m instantly hooked for this reason alone. The pounding drums that accompany the fast paced guitar and bass in opening up the track have my head nodding immediately and that remains so when the vocals begin. Feelgood Films is about how some people seem to have their heads up in the clouds without properly accepting what is going on in the world around them. The chorus is both thought-provoking and singalong-able – ‘So let’s kill our negativity with feel-good films and drugs, Oh optimism is the key with denial and such, Just think how very happy you could turn out to be, If you believe there’s nothing wrong with your daily fantasies.’

The Other Side brings back a slower pace with a soft yet melodic guitar intro that feels retrospective and somewhat sad. These feelings are reinforced when the vocals come in and Katie sings of how the most insignificant of things, like sunshine for example, can take you back to another time and place with someone who was once important to you. As we reach a faster paced chorus there is a switch in tone as Katie decides that actually ‘I’m on the other side now, And it’s pretty fucking great’. I love a song with a twist. The title of the next song will give readers a pretty good idea what it might be about – My Cameron, Mr Gove. Katie MF is far from the first punk or folk musician to write a song confronting politicians but, just because it’s been done before, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done again – and potentially better. Understandably this is probably the angriest of songs on this EP with Katie expressing in the lyrics that she’s well and truly ‘pissed off’. Like many (actually, I hope, all of us), Katie used her vote when it came to Brexit but unfortunately didn’t make a difference on the night. Obviously that won’t stop us being pissed off and wanting a change. A fine protest song. Bringing Learning How To Lie to a close is a quiet and sad-sounding number called Nights Unspecified. It is probably the least ‘punk’ of all the songs on the EP but what it lacks in angst and such it makes up for with pure emotion. It feels like quite a personal song but the last lines feel quite truthful for us all – ‘These are the days that make us.’

Learning How To Lie is a great little debut EP and a thoroughly encourage you to give it a listen – I’d also recommend seeing Katie MF live if you get the chance. You can stream and download Learning How To Lie on Bandcamp and like Katie MF on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Column: United States Of Ska (Part One)

UK ska punk is currently thriving. I honestly can't remember a time where the scene has had more bands putting out such fantastic releases and wowing crowds all over the country with their incredible live shows than now. There are even small DIY festivals popping up here, there and everywhere to showcase these incredible bands – the best being Level Up Festival in South East London. Lately I've been thinking about American ska punk bands and how I know nothing about the underground scene there. Sure I know all about the big boys like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Big D & The Kids Table, Mustard Plug and the Mad Caddies but what about the bands playing the small basement and bar shows? I decided to take to the Internet and see what underground gems I could find. It turns out that the underground ska scene in the USA is packed with incredible bands, so many that this post has been split into two parts. Here's part one of my look into the American underground ska scene. Part two coming soon!

The B Sharps
Not to be confused with Homer Simpson's acapella band or the promoters from South East London, The B Sharps are a seven piece from Riverside, California. On their latest album, Plan B's Get Degrees, the band brilliantly combine poppy ska and smooth reggae to create these fantastically fun joyful sing-along songs.

Be Like Max
By the time that this column is posted Las Vegas' Be Like Max will have just completed a European tour including a couple of UK shows which I'm gutted to have missed. The six piece are one of the most varied bands in the scene mixing 90s third wave with a more modern take on the genre. It's all good times throughout with plenty of big choruses and lots of skanking to be done to Be Like Max.

The Big Skandal
The Big Skandal are a ska/rocksteady band from Miami, Florida. Taking influence from traditional bands such as The Skatalites and Prince Buster as well as more contemporary acts such as Madness and Operation Ivy, The Big Skandal are one of the most impressive rocksteady bands I've heard in some time.

Chilled Monkey Brains
Combining punk, ska and metal, Tallahassee's Chilled Monkey Brains are a band you'll love if you're a fan of the UK's own ska metalheads Beat The Red Light. Famed for their electric live performances, Chilled Monkey Brain have toured all over the USA with bands such as Less Than Jake, Strung Out, Authority Zero, Mustard Plug and The Slackers to name just a few.

The Dirty Notion
Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, The Dirty Notion are a four piece rocksteady band. The band came together to play something different from their previous bands and something rooted to the music they love. Definitely a band for fans of The Slackers and The Aggrolites.

The Fad
The Fad are a long running New York band originally active between 2000 and 2008 before reforming in 2012. I was completely unaware they were back together until I noticed their name on this year's Fest line-up and my feeling of guttedness about not attending this year doubled. 2008's Kill Punk Rock Stars album is absolutely superb.

Grey Matter
Michigan's Grey Matter are one of the most unique ska bands I've ever heard. Classifying themselves as "emotional skacore", the fivesome fuse ska punk and emo together to create something quite awe-inspiring. These are two genres that I would never expect to work together but Grey Matter have pulled it off with some aplomb.

The Hempsteadys
We reviewed The Hempsteadys' superb 2018 album Séance! Séance! last month and enjoyed it so much I had to include them in this column. The Connecticut based eleven piece take traditional ska and reggae music and drag it into the 21st century with dirty vocals and perhaps the best brass/horn section on the list. The Hempsteadys are a band I'm desperate to see live.

I first became aware of Joystick! after checking out some of the bands on the Fest 17 line-up that I hadn't heard of before. I had a listen to their 2017 album Sinceriously and was blown away by the high-tempo ska punk songs the band play. The eight piece from New Orleans have taken the classic third wave sound and added some of their own hometown jazz influences to create something just wonderful.

Runaway Ricochet
On their recently released album, Gas Station Culture, Runaway Ricochet play an infectious poppy form of ska punk that you can't help but smile and sway along to. The six piece from St. Paul, Minnesota, are a fairly new band on the scene but are seriously impressive. They are a great gateway and into the world of ska punk for people newer to the genre.

Scheming Thieves
A former CPRW Band of the Week, Utah's Scheming Thieves are one of my favourite discoveries of 2018. Their debut release A Classic Ruse is eight songs of fun fast paced ska punk from a band showing a huge amount of promise. With big horns and fun choruses, there's a lot to love about those Scheming Thieves.

Stupid Flanders
When a band is described as "the best parts of Less Than Jake, Rancid, Mustard Plug and Goldfinger" you know you're listening to something pretty darn good. With big horns, catchy lyrics and gritty vocals, played at a pace that will get you dancing like a loon, it's hard not to fall in love with Stupid Flanders from California.

Tef London
Orlando's Tef London combine punk, ska, swing and dixieland music to create an terrific high tempo sound. Fronted by Jenny Morrison and featuring some of the best brass musicians in the Orlando area, Tef London formed due to the fact there were no ska bands in the community and became one of the most impressive bands in the state.

Victims Of Circumstance
Clearwater, Florida's Victims Of Circumstance are one of my favourites I've discovered putting together this list of American ska punk bands. Combining pop hooks with a punk attitude and energetic ska, Victim Of Circumstance have toured the world playing their superb music to people all over. It seems they even found their way to England to play Rebellion Festival in 2012. Gutted I missed out on seeing them back then.

Keep an eye out for part two of this column coming soon.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Top Tens: Rachel from Swan Prince's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

I’m Rach. I play guitar and sing in Swan Prince. I’ve tried to choose the bands that I know have influenced my band in some way, or me in general as a musician. I could list a million other bands though. I haven’t even mentioned my days as a ska punk kid… but that’s another story…

The Flatliners
One of the most inspiring bands out there for me. As soon as I got into them I started trying to sing like Chris Cresswell in my car. Weirdly, I found their b sides album Division of Spoils the most inspiring musically and to this day I still listen to it on repeat a lot. Chris is a great songwriter and an amazing singer. Josh actually paid for him to write me a custom song and he gave it me on my birthday one year. The song is called ‘Never Without You’ and it's about being in love. We met Chris at a show not long after he wrote that song, he seemed super stoked to talk to us about it!

The Bombpops
I first heard them through Facebook about 5 years ago. I downloaded their early EPs but it wasn’t till they released Can o Worms that something hit me. I wanted to do what they were doing. I wanted to play guitar and sing. For somebody who can’t do either that was a ridiculous thought. Getting into this band really pushed me and gave me the confidence that I needed to learn a new instrument. Every release by them has been amazing and their music videos are always so fun. They’ve pushed through a difficult 10 years with various line-up changes and they’ve just continued and lived their dreams. I also find that very inspiring and this band will always mean a lot to me.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop
I was so happy when I discovered this band! Another female fronted punk rock band – and all female! I felt like I had died and gone to heaven when I heard their stuff. They really pushed me creatively. Since their first album came out, I’ve had them on every single week. I love their harmonies. I’d never really thought about harmonies at all before until I heard them. They have so many in their songs and they made me realise there is a lot that you can do with your own songs.

I heard them on a compilation CD almost 20 years ago and since then I have been hooked. I am constantly sad about the fact that they split up and that I will never get to see them. I was quite young when I got into them and I’m pretty sure in that time they didn’t come to the U.K. Even if they did, I bet I wouldn’t have been able to go. Devon is an amazing songwriter, I really wish he would come back to punk rock. I know it would make a lot of people happy! Various bands I’ve played drums in have covered their songs. It’s always really fun mentioning them to punks I meet and hearing what people have to say about them. It seems they really did inspire this generation of skate punks!

The Swellers
I made a huge mistake and didn’t bother listening to this band for ages even though people kept telling me to. Josh got me into them early into our relationship, sadly around that time the band were splitting up. I was extremely lucky to catch 2 of their last ever shows, but was also sad I didn’t get into them sooner and see them more. Their music has inspired me so much. They’re another band I would sing to in my car and they really helped me to learn to sing. I listen to all of their releases every single week more than once, they’re an absolutely underrated band and now they’re gone, people want them back!

Another band I stupidly got into quite late and they’re actually one of my band's biggest influences. Josh and I quite often write lead guitar parts and say to each other ‘This sounds like Hi-Standard’. We were extremely lucky to see them play at the Fat Wreck 25 Year show in Japan a few years back. We are actually planning on going back in a couple of years to catch them live again. It’s mental seeing them and seeing how big the crowd is. Punk is huge over there!

The Ataris
I keep writing songs and then I can imagine Kris Roe singing them more than me. That’s happened a few times and the vocal melody has been so ‘Ataris-y’ I’ve had to change it. I feel like this band are always in my head when writing. Just shows how much I listen to them and how much they mean to me. I’ve loved them for most of my life and seeing them live is always an emotional experience for me!

The Starting Line
Back in 2002 all of my friends were getting into Drive Thru bands and I just wasn’t arsed about the rising pop punk scene. I was more of a ska punk or skate punk kid. However, for some reason this band stood out to me. I had to buy their CDs and I listened to them a lot. ‘Almost There Going Nowhere’ is one of my favourite songs ever. We’ve actually got a new song ready for our next EP and everything about it reminds me of this band. When people have reviewed my band's music, they’ve said my vocals are almost pop punk at times. Well, you can thank The Starting Line for that.

When Josh wrote the music for Disguise, we instantly compared the lead guitar part to Bodyjar. They are one of our main influences when writing the music for our band. I was so happy when I finally got to see this band live a few years back at Groezrock. They were on my list of bands that I would probably never get to see.

No Use For A Name
A friend once told me my band was like ‘a female fronted No Use For A Name’. That was super cool. That’s because Tony’s vocal style and lyrics do inspire me. If I hit any kind of creativity wall, I can put this band on and they solve that. I know they inspire Josh a lot too when he’s writing guitar parts for our songs. They just hold that perfect Fat Wreck sound.

Check out Swan Prince on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Album Review: Clarion Call by The Human Project (by Brett Coomer)

2018 has been an amazing year for me. Attending MPF, seeing Propagandhi twice, being introduced to a ton of new bands, and getting married are just some of the highlights. Since becoming friends with Colin and Emma two years ago I am happy to say that the amount and variety of music that Robyn and I get exposed to has increased exponentially. Not being familiar with The Human Project before this year, Robyn ordered me to listen to them after hearing the other members of CPRW hyping up the new album.

The Leeds band are known for playing fast melodic punk with politically-charged lyrics so I was quite surprised I hadn’t heard of them before, but not at all surprised at how much I loved what I heard. It was love at first listen and I immediately added their debut album Origins to my library. Fast forward a couple months and the wait was over, Clarion Call was released into the world.

Defined as a strongly expressed demand or request for action (thanks Google), Clarion Call is the perfect title for this album which feels like the band letting out their frustrations at the world’s current socio-political environment. There are so many moments that make you want to get up, raise your fist in the air and yell along to the lyrics. The band have been able to aptly articulate what a lot of people around the world, and especially in Britain, must be feeling using eleven songs over thirty-one minutes.

The album kicks things off with some quiet piano and clean guitar, describing a bleak world not too far from the one we live in right now, questioning the role we’ve all played in getting there. Desperate Times builds anticipation and provides a taste of what’s to come with a furious final minute before pick sliding into the next song. Desperate Measures feels like it’s directed at the apathetic and complacent people who sit back and watch injustices happen while critiquing anyone who stands up against it. That One Percent and The Rhetoric take aim at the rich politicians and businessmen who control so much of how the world operates, but only care about the bottom line regardless of the cost. After four political tracks, Knocked for Six is a more personal song about getting back up after being knocked down by an ending relationship. It provides a break from the political theme and features some great hooks and an impressive breakdown.

With its atmospheric interlude, Carrion provides a short opportunity to breathe before cranking up the energy level again with What We Always Do, which drives home the message that we shouldn’t sit back or give up, but continue to push for the change we want to see in the world in spite of all opposition. The next two tracks, Blame and Pride Before a Fall, offer more personal touches to the album with the latter song dealing with empathy towards other human beings. Everyone lives in the same world but we all experience it differently and you can’t know what somebody is feeling regardless of their outward appearance or social status.

A Debt to Society features some excellent guitar work with great melodies and a catchy chorus, describing the current state of the world where the decisions made by the controlling minority to further their goals are sold to society as selflessness and as being the best for everyone. Clarion Call brings the album to a close with an epic four + minute challenge to everyone listening to come together and fight for a world that benefits us all rather than a select few. The song asks the question “Are we still dangerous?” and if inspiration is taken from the album as a whole, the answer is a resounding yes.

The production on this album is top notch, highlighting the technical aptitude of all the band members and letting every aspect of the band shine through equally. The vocal harmonies, dual guitars, driving bass, and hard-hitting drums are all on point. Clarion Call is a bit more polished compared to Origins, but not to the detriment of the overall sound and it definitely fits in with the best of the genre. This album should serve as a blueprint for melodic skate-punk albums to come.

2016 brought us The Revenge of The Fifth and Remember Death, 2017 gave us Victory Lap and Bonsai Mammoth and with so many great releases this year already, I can safely say Clarion Call will make a few top ten lists including mine. If you’re a fan of Mute, This Is a Standoff, Belvedere and melodic punk rock in general this is a must have album. And if you have the chance to catch them live – do it!

Buy Clarion Call here:

Like The Human Project here:

This review was written by Brett Coomer.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

News: We Went Away And Loads Of Things Were Announced

So we've been having a lovely time in Japan and missed out on spreading some of the wonderful punk rock news that was announced whilst we were away, so here's a brief update in case you missed some things too.

First of all, this Saturday at the New Cross Inn the fourth instalment of Might As Well Fest is happening. The festival is put together by Disconnect Disconnect Records and Speaking Tongues and raises money for The Rainbow Trust. The Bar Stool Preachers are headlining the festival this year and are backed by a superb line-up of bands, featuring The Capitalist Kids, Thousand Oak, Aerial Salad, The Capital, Eat Dirt, Modern Shakes, Laserchrist and Tom Aylott. Get tickets here.

Next up is the news from Manchester Punk Festival. MPF is returning for its fifth year next year, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st of April, and is looking bigger and better than ever. Super early bird and early bird tickets sold out incredibly fast. I might be right in saying that both sets went before any bands were announced which is crazy! There are still some standard priced tickets available for £60. I can't imagine that these are going to be available for long though so don't sleep on getting your ticket. MPF also announced their first wave of bands for 2019. So far they've announced Dead To Me, Doom, King Prawn, Faintest Idea, The Arteries, Consumed, Press Club, Not On Tour, Arms Aloft, The Infested, The Winter Passing, Janus Stark, Call Me Malcolm, The Human Project, Grand Collapse, Joe McMahon & The Dockineers, Youth Avoiders, Woahnows, Svalbard, March, Sam Russo, Kermes, Eat Dirt, Follow Your Dreams, Jodie Faster, Well Wisher, Jenkem, Slumb Party, Joe Tilston & The Embers Band, Screech Bats, Incisions, Wolfrik, Grafteoke, Jake Martin, Tim Loud Full Band, Poisonous C*nt, Mean Caesar and Sallows. With 130 bands promised for the festival I'm looking forward to seeing what other surprises the MPF collective have in store for us. You can buy tickets and keep up to date with Manchester Punk Festival here.

Speaking of exciting things happening in Manchester. Our buddy Sarah, creator of the excellent Shout Louder webzine, is throwing an all dayer in February to celebrate her 30th birthday. Taking place at Gullivers, it has a stacked line-up featuring Faintest Idea, Fair Do's, Nosebleed, PMX, Aerial Salad, The Human Project, The Burnt Tapes, Goodbye Blue Monday and Follow Your Dreams. A crazy line-up – buy your tickets here. Shout Louder has recently started an excellent series looking at mental health titled #Mentally Sound that is essential reading, do so here.

Finally, in some news that actually made me do a little jump of excitement in our hotel room in Japan,  Rehasher are doing a UK and Europe tour for the first time in November including a stop at the New Cross Inn in South London for Be Sharp Promotions. For those who don't know, Rehasher are the skate punk side project of Roger Lima, bassist and co-vocalist of ska punk legends Less Than Jake – and they are amazing. I was lucky enough to catch them live a few years ago in Florida and was flabbergasted by how good they were. I can't wait to see them again. And if that isn't exciting enough, UK pop punk heroes Eat Defeat will be on tour with them. Brilliant. Like Rehasher here to keep up to date with the tour.

Album Review: Textures by My Own Co-Pilot

My Own Co-Pilot are an emo punk and hardcore act from Gothenburg in Sweden. It is the project of Michal Kosinski with the assistance of Derrek Siemienuik. Back in July, My Own Co-Pilot released their debut four track EP Textures. With the music written by Kosinski and the lyrics and vocal melodies handled by Siemienuik, Textures was recorded in Sweden and the USA.

Textures opens with a song named Exit You. Starting out with a gentle but distinctive drum beat and some jangly guitar, the track begins how you would expect an emo song to begin. It slowly builds before launching into some crunching moments with some superb hoarse, screamy vocals but switching back to the emotional sound that started the song. This pattern continues throughout the song with the contrasting styles really bringing the song to life. Exit You has such a big sound that really pulls you in and takes you along for the ride. When The Missing Returns hooks you in from the start with a fantastic guitar part that really makes you think that this song is going part. There is a lot of energy in the start of the song that I really appreciated. The use of harmonies in this opening section work really well. I'm not sure whether or not there are multiple vocalists or if it is one person's vocals layered to create the harmony but, either way, it sounds great. I'm coming to realise that My Own Co-Pilot are brilliant at building towards those big and explosive intense sections of the song, when you get there it just feels like a great primal release.

The third song is named This Crying and there's a heavier tone to this track. It doesn't quite have the same energy as the previous song but it certainly creates a great atmospheric feeling and it will no doubt get you head banging. As the track progresses, it gradually shifts into a more alternative rock sound that makes it more accessible to the more casual rock music listener. It definitely feels like the right track for first time listeners, who might not necessarily enjoy emo/punk music, to hear first when they check out My Own Co-Pilot. Finally we have the song Remembering. After a brief moment of radio static, some wonderful drums open the song before leading into some interesting stop/start vocals. Soon enough these vocals go towards a more melodic route before yet another amazing building section. The contrast between the sweet and gentle, higher pitched vocals and the screams add a great deal of theatre to Remembering that doesn't go unnoticed. It doesn't feel like screaming for the sake of screaming though, it all feels very well thought out and does actually add to the song. When I first saw the length of the song – it's over five minutes long – I was slightly worried that it might feel like a bit of a slog to get through but it actually flew by. That's a great testament to the songwriting skills that My Own Co-Pilot are blessed with.

Emo isn't really ever my go to genre but I'm really glad I checked out Textures. It's a fantastic debut EP for a couple of super talented gentleman. Strong songwriting, great performances and moving songs. Exactly what you what from your emo tunes.

Stream and download Textures here:

Like My Own Co-Pilot here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.