Friday, 30 November 2018

Gig Review: Rehasher at New Cross Inn 24/11/18

What a year it's been for Be Sharp Promotions. In 2018 they've booked Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream, Lightyear, Random Hand, The Toasters, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Red City Radio, The Penske File, Fandangle, [Spunge], Nothington, Vanilla Pod, The Bennies, Get Dead, Death By Stereo and, of course, Goldfinger. It's been absolutely incredible. Now as we're getting towards the end of the year, the brothers Smith had yet another incredible band lined up to play London's best venue, the New Cross Inn. Rehasher were in the middle of their first ever UK tour and boy golly I was excited. If you're unaware who Rehasher are, they are Less Than Jake bass player Roger's other band who play fast punk rock songs rather than the ska that has made Less Than Jake famous. I have loved Rehasher since I heard their debut album Off Key Melodies almost fifteen years ago and have excitedly checked out all of their releases since. Emma and I were also lucky enough to catch them live a few years ago when we visited Gainesville for The Fest. Knowing what a big fan I am of both Rehasher and Less Than Jake, Be Sharp's Paul let slip that he was in talks with the band about five months earlier and that blew my mind. When it was finally confirmed at the beginning of October, I actually did a little jump of celebration. This eclipsed any band announcement of the entire year and I excitedly awaited the day to arrive.

As ever with a Be Sharp gig at the New Cross Inn, the line up was stacked from start to finish. Opening the evening were a new band for me – Sharp Bones. This five chaps were only playing their third show as a band but you couldn't tell based on the musicianship demonstrated throughout their set. Playing a heavy form of pop punk, Sharp Bones had the steadily growing crowd at New Cross hooked with a powerful display. The band's frontman really brought the energy and charisma as he prowled around the stage. He also showed off some impressive microphone swinging skills during the set. Side note: I always get worried when a singer starts swinging the microphone around that it might come loose and disaster might strike! Sharp Bones finished an impressive set with the song Sea Of Doubt which features Nick from Hit The Lights on the recorded version.

Up next were London/Brighton-based super fast skate punks Fastfade. Or as Eat Defeat described them, "Captain Everything's sons." Fastfade are going to become one of the most talked about bands in the UK sooner or later, they're that good. Ryan, Joe and Jake are just about to release their debut album We're Happy If You Aren't on Umlaut Records. It's an album that I've been lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of but I resisted listening to it as I wanted to check out some of the tracks live first. Spoiler, the new songs are sounding incredible. This is my fourth time seeing Fastfade live and I always come away feeling so impressed. The trio are clearly are intent on having the most fun and creating the most carnage they can together on stage with guitarist Ryan and bassist Joe constantly fighting each other on stage – at one point Ryan even fell off the stage. Fastfade are such a great band and this was definitely the best set I've seen them play. It felt somewhat like they were playing the headline set, they put in such a big performance. Keep a lookout on CPRW for our review of We're Happy If You Aren't and if you having climbed aboard the Fastfade train yet I suggest you do but, hang on tight, it's going to be a wild ride.

Fintan Stack were another band playing only their third gig together. We've also attended the other two, supporting Red City Radio and The Penske File at the New Cross Inn. Before the set I'd been telling some new pals, who had yet to see Fintan Stack, how good they are and how excited I was to see them. Of course they didn't disappoint and during the set the pal told me they they're really good. Fintan Stack are really good at highlighting their strengths, with co-vocalists Adam and Duncan really shining. Both these guys have really powerful voices that work really well together. Some of those harmonies make me so happy. Their two singles Nap All Day, Sleep All Night, Party Never and I'm Done are obvious highlights and I enjoyed having a sing-along to two of my favourite songs of the year but I'm itching for these chaps to get back into the studio and record some more music. Fintan Stack are my favourite new band of 2018.

It's not been long since we last saw Saving Sebastian, playing the Fandangle all dayer at the beginning of the month. I enjoyed them then but this set was when I really got on board with the band. This weekend they were recording some new songs with Fandangle's Andy Baker but jumped at the opportunity to get on this bill. I guess this meant they were at their sharpest musically and it really showed. Now I've never been involved in recording music but I imagine it's quite a tiring process, so for the band to play with as much energy as they did was quite something. These guys weren't stationary for a single second as they blasted through their 2000s inspired pop punk gems. We all know how much I love a band with multiple singers and it works so well with Saving Sebastian's sound – it really amps up the energy even more. They're also such fun to watch on stage as they jump around the stage or, at times, in the crowd. There was a cool moment where Cereal Box Heroes Conor Yates, who was only there as a fan, joined the band on stage for a Blink-182 cover which went down a treat with the New Cross crowd.

The main support for the evening and for the UK leg of Rehasher's tour came from Eat Defeat. At this point I think it's fair to say that Eat Defeat are New Cross Inn legends and always provide super memorable moments whenever they take to the stage. Despite vocalist Summers suffering with some illness and drummer Stephen having a couple of cracked ribs, Eat Defeat put on yet another absolutely stonking performance. Starting out with the brilliant Smile from their excellent 2018 album I Think We'll Be OK, the crowd down the front erupted for Eat Defeat with plenty of huge sing-alongs and so much energy. Because Summers’ voice was struggling throughout the set, Eat Defeat had a couple of guest singers join them. CBH Conor again took to the stage to sing DIYTanic and Joe Fastfade sang Nothing's Wrong to great receptions. You do wonder what those not associated with the New Cross family made with these random folk jumping on stage to sing the songs but I thought it was great fun. Of course, they finished with Not Today Old Friend which got the biggest sing-along of the night thus far as the entire crowd as the New Cross belted out “I Think We'll Be Okay!”. Eat Defeat played a set that could have easily been a headline set and sent many people home very happy. I don't think there is a better pop punk band in the UK at the moment, their best New Cross set yet.

It was now time for Rehasher and I can't remember a time when the anticipation was so high for a band at New Cross – and you've read the list of bands that have passed through the door at the beginning of the review. (Unless you have for some reason skipped to the end, I bet you feel quite silly now don't you?) To me, it felt like the room was a bit split. Half of the room were super excited for Rehasher and the other half were excited because Roger from Less Than Jake was playing the New Cross Inn – which was huge, this is ska kid central. A big crowd gathered around the front of the stage ready to go absolutely wild. As soon as they opened with Compass someone did a big stage dive and we were off. Rehasher play fast punk rock that never seems to slow down, this really suited the crowd as they clearly had one speed and that was GO! The band, completed by Tony on bass and Alex on drums, looked so pleased with the reactions they were getting as they blasted through songs from all of Rehasher's discography and we were also treated to a couple of new tracks that are due to be recorded next year. From the two songs that they played, I'm already looking forward to this release. I love that Roger manages to find the time for Rehasher despite his very busy schedule with Less Than Jake. It was also an absolute pleasure to hear some classic Rehasher tracks from Off Key Melodies, with One Shot Deal, Average, Sinking and Lift! all making appearances. With every song there seemed to be more and more people stage diving and the pit just became crazier and crazier and it was clear that the band were loving it. The crowd really lost their minds when they played a sped up punk version of the LTJ classic Dopeman. This was a proper punk rock show, filled with passion, energy and plenty of smiling faces. This was a special moment not just for the fine people in the New Cross Inn crowd but I'd predict for the band as well.

I don't know if Rehasher will ever find their way back to the UK but the UK crowds have definitely shown how much they're loved over here and really appreciated the effort that went into getting them here.

And maybe if Rehasher don't come back, Roger will have seen just how incredible the New Cross Inn is and will suggest his other band play an intimate show there instead.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

CPRW Playlist: November 2018

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

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Top Tens: Rob from Misgivings’ top ten places to hide when he’s had enough of other people

You know that feeling. We all know that feeling. That feeling when every single person you see is just more than you can handle. That feeling you get around half an hour before it's time to go home and your boss comes in with something urgent. And for whatever reason it’s your problem. Joy of joys.

Or you’re in the supermarket and that person you sort of remember from school has waved at you and said hi… please mother earth swallow me whole.

Maybe you are out with your friends, it’s been three hours and, despite your unconditional love for the people you are with, you need a break.

Well maybe you don’t relate but corresponding with the release of Hermitage, here is my list of the top ten places I go to hide when I’m feeling delicate.

10 My Car:
Not everyone has a car but those who do know the wonderful peace of an empty car. Need quiet? Sure, you’re alone, silence is yours. Need to play something savage and drop tuned to the point where the strings are practically rubber bands? Sure, crack on, turn it up till the empty seats and your ears bleed. Do you want to scream WHY?! over and over again at the top of your voice until you can’t make noise at all… go see a counselor, but other than that fill your boots. It’s your car. Gary Numan was right; also it’s a cracking tune. The one massive problem with this is other people. I personally find myself very frustrated with the fact that nobody else on the road understands what the thing under their right foot is for.

9 The Smoking Area:
I don’t smoke (unless I am completely battered) which actually helps. You are that one guy not smoking in the smoking area, people rarely talk to you in that situation. Obviously this still works if you smoke. It’s worth mentioning this option works way better in the winter so wrap up. Added points if you don’t have a lighter.

8 Salt Lane (according to google maps):
Between Winchester and … Corhampton? Maybe, I don’t know. Either way it’s my old route home from work and it is more often than not blissfully empty. Had a bad day? Get on that winding road and make your smoking, knackered, diesel, Škoda sing. This road is everything that is fun about driving. Tight corners, mixed road conditions, loose gravel, wet leaves and sheep that one time. You need to be focused on what you are doing. This is not a route you take with an absent mind or a phone in your hand. I’m not advising you to drive dangerously, mind you. You can get away with hooning on the motorway because it’s a straight line, there is less to go wrong. You can still have fun. But mess up on this road and you’re going to end up wrapped around a tree waiting a looooooooooooong time for anyone to find you. Don’t be stupid.

7 The Work Toilet:
An obvious one and one you can’t over use. But, picture this. That person you don’t like is talking about their weekend or children or holiday plans, partner, boring pointless hobby etc, etc. You can feel your fist clenching, eyes twitching, you think you might be growling like an angry rottweiler but you’re not sure. Every fiber of your being wants to pick up the nearest impractically large object and ram it between their teeth. Now would be a good time to take a shit or pretend to shit. Just enough time to calm down and use the wifi to be baffled by the comments section of a Daily Mash article.

6 Loading Up The Car After A Show:
It’s rare that I’ll do this to avoid people, most of the time I’ll happily stop and chat but it’s a sure-fire way of making every conversation end very quickly. “Hey man do you want a hand with that?” and you answer “Nah mate I’m good, thanks though.”. Done. Such an easy and obvious solution, it brings you neatly back to number 10 on this list. I love gigs, I really do. Seeing people taking an interest in music and appreciating the effort that bands go to for these gigs fills me with real joy. It's just after being around that many people for several hours I think most people crave a little solitude. I know I do.

5 Behind The Couch:
When I was a wee little sprog/nipper/child and I wasn’t feeling all that social I would crawl into the gap between the back of the couch and the wall. It was dark and cramped, there was a strong smell of dog and sometimes our dog would join me. I would sometimes spend more than an hour back there. I felt safe and comfortable despite normally being incredibly claustrophobic. It wasn’t just behind the couch, I’d get under the cushions and stay there for ages as well and I felt safe. The rest of my family found this a little strange but just kinda let me get on with it. I don’t think I ever thanked them properly for that.

I am somewhere under Billy and that pile of cushions and pillows.

4 The Mini Box House:
In one of my old jobs, we had a room full of old stock that was stacked on pallets. For whatever reason it constantly needed sorting. In between other tasks, several of us would be given a list of this stuff to find and then work on. This was boring beyond words. This was around the time we had lots of polished brass table lights we were making for one of Donald Trump's golf hotels. (Fun fact: I folded a little square of paper with the words “made in Mexico” into every single one I worked on.) Eventually we got fed up of this. We found this huge box that even someone my height could comfortably sit in. Someone cut a door into it, then someone else did a window, we got a bit carried away. We ended up taking it in turns to have box time. It was great, I could eek out half an hour of reading when there wasn’t much to do and none of the management knew or cared. It doesn’t scream work ethic but it was the best part of my day.

Home sweet box.

3 Queen Elizabeth Country Park:
I don’t do this as often as I should but I love walking around in the woods. It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by trees. You get to make up your own little stories about how you’ve gone off the grid and become some sort of self reliant hunter gatherer out in… Queen Elizabeth Country Park. But genuinely, fresh air, bird song, crunching leaves underfoot and all that lovely stuff. Living in a city and working in an office you can’t help feeling claustrophobic and trapped. Everywhere there are walls and boundaries, signs, restrictions, people, things, adverts, lights, some sort of sporting event, royal weddings, Tesco value booze, estate agents, drunk people singing 80s classics badly, shops, royal babies, normal babies (just like royal babies except they have far less potential), vape shops, more sodding vape shops, Ed Sheeran!

Jesus Christ, modern life is a complete nightmare. Go out and walk around the countryside, dense woods or rolling hills, it’s really pretty and there is enough space to be alone for a bit.

2 The Library:
I love the library. To me it is this wonderful place where knowledge is stored, quietly. Mum used to read a lot, at some points because of her illness she couldn’t move all that much so she stocked up on books when she could. The whole family would all bundle into the car and go to the library. I remember it way more fondly now than I felt about it at the time. The library helped form a lot of my personality as it is now. I liked knowing things and having that quiet space to learn and think is very important when you are trying to figure out who you are and what you are into. The library gave me access to any fantasy world, brutal dystopia or far flung corner of the world I could want to visit. Any series of books I could want to read was there. In the non fiction section, any set of skills you could want to pick up were there, on paper. Just waiting for you to pick them up and learn. Crucially Portsmouth city library had CDs that you could borrow too which introduced me to music that I otherwise would never have found on my own. I have trouble imagining mum without a book in her hands and because of that being surrounded by books just feels safe to me. I suppose by extension I also like to hide in a good book.

1 Mum’s Garden:
On the 21st of June 2017 my mother died. I was utterly crushed by this. A lot of the time when I was upset or worried I would go to mum and most of the time I would find mum in the garden. She spent all the time she could in the garden planting and growing things, it made her so happy. We used to sit around watching the various animals and insects that came to mum’s little oasis in the city. She asked my dad and I to build her birdhouses.

We had one screwed into the wall, you could see it from the couch in the conservatory. As her health deteriorated she spent a lot of time watching the birds from that couch. Mum used to love watching the birds fly in and out of the house, when it wasn’t birds it was bees and damselflies. We dug out a pond, which attracted frogs and other things. We also found that in the summer Scout (the family dog) would wade into the pond, he loved that. It left us with an excellent smell to enjoy around the house, a subtle blend of wet dog and pond.

After building a greenhouse, we could have fresh tomatoes and chillies amongst other fresh and wonderful things. There is nothing like the peace I could find in mum’s garden. There was always so much green and so much life. Life felt far less hectic surrounded by things mum grew and cared for. On warm summer nights you could hear bats, which we found very exciting. A gentle breeze rustling through the assorted varieties of tall grass, the gentle buzz of many happy bees, bird song and frogs. I felt so calm in that garden, that it is my number one place to hide from people and will probably stay number one for a long time.

You can pre-order Hermitage from Lockjaw Records here and like Misgivings here.

Also make sure to like Colin's Punk Rock World and look out for our review of the album coming on Tuesday.

Top Tens: Will from Misgivings’ Top Ten Punk Rock Influences & Inspirations

Hi, it’s Will from Misgivings everyone. You might know me from being the guy that plays two sets at shows in Portsmouth sometimes, sometimes three.

I thought I’d talk through some of my main inspirations and influences for songwriting and being a musician in the form of a Top Ten on this fantastic website Colin’s Punk Rock World. Some of these are people in bands, some of these are people who are not in bands, some of these things aren’t even people. Try to bear with me.

1. Gordon Ramsay
I do my best work when I’m a bit knackered to be honest. I feel like there’s a sweet spot for how ideas manifest themselves when you’ve just got home from a tiring day at work and your body is telling you to spend the evening napping on the sofa watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Nightmares, but then instead you spend the evening playing your acoustic guitar but still watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Nightmares while pressing record on your phone’s voice memos.

The reason why Rob sometimes shouts obscenities while we’re playing is because he expects to hear Gordon shouting ‘where’s the fucking lamb sauce?’ in the quieter parts of the songs from listening to the demos. I also find watching sports a good songwriting prompt, when Gordon isn’t on.

2. Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices and every other band he’s been in)
I had a Tory mate at school who told me that ‘Thatcher only slept about 3 hours a week’ (or something) and got out of bed super early and then spent the day running the country into the ground. I’m not comparing this total hero to the Iron Lady, but I heard that Robert Pollard gets up at 6am every day, writes songs and makes collages all morning and may end up with a whole album by the end of the day. ‘Uncle Bob’ has appeared on and designed the artwork for around 100 albums and many of them are worth a listen, he’s a songwriting machine. He has the ability to write playful guitar riffs, great melodies that never get old, short concise songs with lyrics that cover a wide range of emotions and does so at a really alarming rate. He also seems to be chronically tequila drunk.

3. My Musical Friends
So this is an important one. I was lucky to grow up in a musical family, but even luckier to have some good pals in Fareham/Portsmouth who I grew up playing rock and punk music with, drinking all night and going on long midnight walks to the woods.

I’ve always been an obsessive music fan and there are maybe four or five bands that I’m the biggest nerd about but none of my friends really give a shit about any of them and vice versa which means the only time we really talk about music is when we’re talking about our own, if that makes sense. So I get a lot of chances to air ideas out with people.

4. My House
So Ollie and I started the band in the room that I’m writing this interview, all the way back in 2013. The room has been his room, it’s also been mine and it’s currently my studio room (currently inhabited by boxes of our new record Hermitage, buy it!). We’ve written many of our songs in the very same area of the room. The room doesn’t really have any particular acoustic quality but I’ve recorded crappy demos in here for the past five years and somehow that makes things sound right.

5. Bob Mould
Shocker. It’s been observed before that my guitar sound/style is a bit of Hüsker Dü/Sugar (although I like to think I’m a bit cleaner!) but the thing that inspires me the most about Bob (the second Bob of this list!) is his lyrical honesty, which is surely the reason for his success and legendary status. I’ve been a fan for so long that it’s difficult to separate where his influence begins and ends in me, but his music has always been there. Thanks Bob.

6. Patrick Stickles & Titus Andronicus
So one of my favourite bands of the last decade is this band Titus Andronicus. I wore their T-shirt in the video for ‘Call It Off’ which has the cross and the A on it, which I seem to get some shit for because people think I’m wearing the anarchy symbol like a poser, but anyway, Titus Andronicus are brilliant so it’s worth it. The mastermind behind the band, Patrick Stickles writes concept albums about the civil war, addiction, mental health and everything they do seems to be very joyful and angry at the same time. They’re definitely a band for the lover of a lyric sheet and their records tend to include covers which made me check out stuff like Pulp and Daniel Johnston which probably would have passed me by otherwise.

7. Going on long walks with R.E.M.
So my best buddy Pete and I are totally obsessed with R.E.M. and we always talked about how the singer used to drive around with instrumental tracks and mumble along jibberish lyrics until the lyrics would formulate themselves. I don’t drive, but I often like to walk around listening to instrumental/acoustic demos of my songs and looking for the right notes… but if then that doesn’t work out and I get frustrated, I just put on ‘Reckoning’ and I feel good pretty quickly.

8. Great Shows
A bit cheesy I know, but I genuinely feel really up for writing songs and making music the more I’m surrounded by it. Some of the shows that have been on over the last few years have really inspired me, whether it’s just to show appreciation to the hardworking promoters by writing more music and taking what we do seriously or aspiring to be as good as some of the artists we have in the city and who visit us.

9. Books About Songwriting
This one is probably quite boring but I think I used to pretend that songwriting was something you either had or didn’t have, but like most other things it’s probably a skill that you practice, and I’ve found that to be particularly well challenged by the books ‘Writing Better Lyrics’ by Pat Pattison and ‘Tunesmith’ by Jimmy Webb. If I was ever asked for advice about how to get good at writing songs then this would be my go-to.

10. Rockumentaries
So this is maybe one of my all time favourite inspirations, I mentioned how obsessive I get about bands and records and a good rock documentary really is like Christmas.

XTC’s ‘This Is Pop’ comes to mind, the Descendents film as well as the 3 hour long Tom Petty documentary. Watch a documentary about a band you’ve never heard or aren’t sure about and it’s like a journey. But you don’t even have to move.

Not much more to say on this one really, thank you for reading!

Misgivings release their new album Hermitage on December 7th via Lockjaw Records and Charlie's Big Ray Gun Records. Pre-order the album here. Keep up to date with all things Misgivings here.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Gig Review: Ducking Punches & Spanish Love Songs at Boston Music Room, London 23/11/18 (by Emma Prew)

The 23rd of November was a date that I was very much looking forward to. I would be seeing one of my absolute favourite bands of the past few years live for the first time. It would not only be my first time however, as the band would be making their UK debut on this date so it would be the first time for many. The band I’m talking about is of course Spanish Love Songs! For their first UK tour, the lovely chaps in Ducking Punches have taken them under their wing(s) for a sort of co-headline tour. Joining them at all the UK dates are a full band We Bless This Mess which completes a pretty darn good line-up if you ask me. Not even having (all four of) my wisdom teeth out the previous Friday was going to stop me from making this show…

We arrived at Boston Music Room with time to spare before We Bless This Mess were due on and were pleasantly surprised to see plenty of other folks had done the same. Before too long the band took to the stage and we moved towards the front for our first experience of full band We Bless This Mess. Usually a trio but for this tour joined by an additional guitarist, We Bless This Mess are originally from Porto, Portugal, but the members are now actually all based in London. Colin and I saw singer and guitarist Nelson of the band play solo in Berlin last year and so I was relatively familiar with some of the songs but since then WBTM have released a new album. Understandably their set featured many of these tracks, such as Live For Today, Love This Life, Ocean and It’s Just A Matter Of Practice, and fully electric they sounded brilliant. The main thing I loved about WBTM was just how much they oozed positivity and general feel-good vibes. Many of their songs are about living life to the fullest which is definitely not bad advice.

As we were already positioned just metres from the stage, it only took a few steps forward to be ‘at the front’ – which with no barrier at Boston Music Room literally means touching the stage. I hadn’t intended to be quite so close, especially as it meant standing right next to one of the speakers, but it would mean I’d have no issues with not being able to see (short person problems). Also… Spanish Love Songs! I was excited and, judging by how the room had packed out around us, I wasn’t the only one. From opening lines of Nuevo and Sequels, Remakes & Adaptions – the first two songs on Spanish Love Songs’ 2018 album (of the year contender), Schmaltz – the band had their audience hooked on every single word and note. We were a little uncertain before the gig just how much of the audience would be there for Spanish Love Songs versus Ducking Punches but, based on the singalongs, I’d say a hell of a lot of people were there for SLS. I think the band were a little overwhelmed as well but it was so, so good to see just how happy they were to be there – at last. Much like WBTM, Spanish Love Songs’ set majorly consisted of songs from their newest album including my favourite, The Boy Considers His Haircut – my mouth really ached after singing along to that one. Having never seen the band before, it was nice to hear Mexico – apparently a song they haven’t played in a long time – and Vermont from their debut album, although Colin and I were both a bit disappointed they didn’t play Concrete. I believe the band has a new/stand-in bassist for this tour so I suppose they are limited with which songs they can play. Regardless, each and every song, right through to their set closer Buffalo Buffalo, was more well received by the audience than the last with plenty of fists thrown in the air and cathartic singing. What more could you want from your first ever show in the UK and what more could we ask for? Spanish Love Songs are the best.

Wow, what tough act to follow! But as one of the the UK DIY punk scene’s much loved bands, Ducking Punches were more than happy to give it a go. We do of course have Dan Allen to thank for putting this tour together and for that I am eternally grateful. Completing the theme of the night, Ducking Punches also have a new album, Alamort, released this year and so I expected that we’d hear quite a lot of songs from that. This proved to be the case, as they opened with the chords of I Was Uncomfortable – which, interestingly, is actually Alamort’s closing track. It’s quite a slow song that builds throughout its duration in intensity and passion. The band had me captivated immediately. Ducking Punches have gone through a few line-up changes over the past couple of years (Nelson of WBTM is actually their guitarist now) and their sound has also progressed from folk punk to a more straight-up punk rock style. I do still miss the violin but, at the same time, it’s great to see the band evolve rather than become samey. Following I Was Uncomfortable, Distant Shadows picked up the pace before another slower and incredibly emotional track, I Ruin Everything, before which Dan spoke of his own struggles with mental health. It was a very moving performance. After a succession of four or five newer tracks, it was time for Ducking Punches to throw in a few of the classics which were wonderfully well received by the Boston Music Room crowd. I don’t know if Spanish Love Songs had simply tired the audience out with their set or what but they took a little while to really warm up to Ducking Punches. The slightly older songs seemed to do the trick with God Damn Coward kicking things off, followed by the always emotional and yet hugely cathartic Six Years. This rendition was quite different to the original recording of the song but being fully electric seemed to make the song even more powerful. It really was a standout moment. Completing their set with It’s Been A Bad Few Weeks, Big Brown Pills From Lynn and Smoking Spot granted the band further singalongs and smiling faces. Sure, Spanish Love Songs could have easily been the closing band of the night but Ducking Punches proved that they are and always will be an important part of the UK punk scene. 

What an excellent night of live music that was! And guess what? I get to do it all over again on the 8th December at the Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes. I’m intrigued to see what the attendance in my hometown will be for the penultimate night of the tour but mostly I’m just super excited to see these awesome bands all over again.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. Photo also by Emma.

Album Review: Same Places by New Junk City

Same Places by New Junk City is an album I slept on for far too long! In my defence it was released while we were on holiday in Japan and life hasn't really stopped since we got home. I do really regret waiting so long to check it out though, it's definitely a contender for albums of the year. Not many albums have hooked me so quickly on my first listen. For those unaware, New Junk City are a four piece from Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2014 New Junk City have released one full length and a couple of splits, including one with Welsh punks Hot Mass. Now, enough intro - let's get on with explaining why I think Same Places, which was released by Real Ghost Records, is superb.

Same Places kicks off with Useless Friends. With its rumbling bass line and jangly guitar opening the song up before the vocals come crashing in, the song does a excellent job of grabbing your attention immediately and setting a precedent for the rest of the album. The vocals tread that fine line between gruff and poppy and fill each song with so much passion and energy. This punchy piece of punk rock gets you ready for a fine, fine album. The guitars in the intro of track two, High In The Morning, quickly get you bopping along before we go into a song about getting older and dealing with anxiety. It features one of the best choruses on the album – it's delivered in such a infectious, catchy way that it's impossible not to get swept away with it. The tempo of the whole song is spot on, it's quick which keeps the energy going but not so quick that we lose that delightful melody. Half Life starts off quietly and is a more purposeful song. Going at a slower pace than the previous two songs, Half Life features a lot of instrumentation with the vocals coming in short and sharp stages throughout the song. This really allows for some great building moments as well as showing off what a talented gang of musicians New Junk City are.

New Junk City released a beautifully shot video for the fourth song Stay Asleep. I can see why as Stay Asleep is a perfect song for newcomers to New Junk City to get a feel of what they're about. Passionate punk rock sing alongs. What more could anyone want in a song? The track is about not wanting something to end and putting off the inevitable for as long as possible. The use of gang vocals towards the end of the track is great, this is the moment I imagine a bar full of people really getting involved with the song. The fifth song, Losing Side, is a mammoth four minutes and forty-five seconds long (which is about a week in punk rock terms). It starts with a lengthy intro and has you awaiting vocals with a high anticipation. It's a mid-tempo track that again really shows off New Junk City's skills. There's a maturity about the song which shows that the band don't have to play with a quick tempo to fill a song with energy. The bass in particular really has you on the edge of your seat, adding some intensity to the song. Changing things up somewhat, Come Tomorrow has one of those intros where those vocalist dives straight in, wasting no time at all in getting the song started. The vocals on this track shine so brightly. I don't listen to many songs where I think this chaps a hell of a singer but I definitely did on Come Tomorrow.

The seventh song on Same Places is titled Coffee Mug. My first thought on seeing the song title was that could this be a wonderful Descendents cover – it's not. In fact it's a wonderful song that has a bit of a Gaslight Anthem/Dave Hause Americana punk feeling to it. Lyrically it feels very much like a story of feeling anxious around people and wanting to change for someone. There's a sublime building section with some great jangly guitars and a pounding drum roll before one final big chorus to complete the song. On the penultimate song, In Our Blood, New Junk City take things down a notch for an anthemic ballad type song. I have to admit I was a little surprised that the song never builds in tempo given how the rest of the album has gone and that this isn't the final song but my word this is a moving four minutes. I can only imagine this is a goosebump-creating song when it's played live. I would very much like to witness it. Same Places finishes with the track Nothing Waiting. It's quite a long song to conclude the album but New Junk City seem intent on packing as much into the song as possible. It never feels cluttered or like they've overstretched themselves though. They have managed to make the song feel like a big finale, finishing in a special way but have remaining New Junk City. Fantastic work.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Same Places from start to finish on the multiple times that I've listened to it now. It's one of those great albums that you can listen to over and over again and continue to find new favourite things. New Junk City are clearly a special band who I really expect to see making waves in the punk scene all over the world in the not so distant future. Check out the album and remember the name.

Stream and download Same Places here:

Like New Junk City here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Album Review: Dragged Through The Years by Aspiga

I have to admit that I've been slightly putting off reviewing Dragged Through The Years by Aspiga for a little while. I listened to a few snippets of songs to get a feel of the album and it didn't really grab me. Then I found a little bit of time to listen to the album and it finally did grab me and I loved it. Aspiga are a three piece from Collingswood, New Jersey, who have previously released material through such illustrious labels as Asian Man Records, Say-10 Records and Paper + Plastick Records. Their new album Dragged Through The Years was released by A-F Records at the beginning of September.

The album begins with the song Beautiful Wounds. The song wastes no time in getting going with some crashing guitars immediately starting the song off with a flourish. Aspiga describe themselves as an alternative indie punk band which is a pretty bang on description. Lead singer Kevin Day has a nasally vocal style that gives Aspiga their own unique sound. The song feels quite interesting in that the volume of Day's vocal doesn't really rise in the chorus like you might expect it to but the guitars and drums do. This gives it that anthemic quality without overdoing it with the vocals. As the song goes on, the tempo seems to quicken giving the great illusion of building. I enjoyed this. The second song August feels more like a fists in the air punk song. The tempo is quicker throughout and has you itching to sing along with the song very quickly. The chorus fantastic, with the lines "I'm sick of dying a little each night, can you see it in my face, I can see my flame slowly burning out, do you feel it too, am I like you?" really hits home and I feel like many people will relate. Up next is the track Searching which feels like it could have been the lead single for Dragged Through The Years. After a slightly moody start, we get to the chorus that will really draw the masses in. I can already imagine a basement full of people shouting "I've been searching for myself, and all I found was fool's gold" back at Aspiga.

Eucalyptus Nights is a stand out track on the album for me. It begins with just a guitar and vocals. This hooked me straight away. There's an urgent feeling about the song that I thought was fantastic. I love my music to have a sense of urgency. This urgency builds throughout the track to the point that it builds to some raw and harsh vocals to finish the song. I loved this. The urgency continues on the next song, Fading Into Summer. This song has me thinking a bit of Chicago punk legends The Lawrence Arms and in particular Brendan Kelly with a raw yet melodic vocal style. This, again, favours the punk sound over the indie and, for me, this is where Aspiga excel. It's a song you can listen to over and over again and continue to find new bits that you'll think are great. The sixth song is titled Good Thoughts. On this track Aspiga tone down the urgency slightly and treat us to their take on midwestern punk rock. It's a more understated song that just trundles along nicely, hooking you in without ever really getting over complicated. Direction is another highlight for me. Ramping the urgency back up, Aspiga use two vocalists on the track (I think), Day's now trademark vocal and a harsher raw vocal. The two work well together and it adds a lot to the Aspiga sound. I kind of wish there was more of this on the album. There is so much intensity in the middle portion of the track that has me going "yes!"

Momentary Flashes sees Aspiga show off the alternative side of their sound. Beginning with a pounding drumbeat before moving into an almost shoegazey dreamy vibe, Aspiga do a fantastic job in painting a picture with the song and taking you on a journey. The track is a positive one about wanting to live your life to the full and having no regrets. The drums in the ninth track, I'll Make You Believe, provide an excellent foundation for the guitars to play off. It's a simple beat that keeps the song together whilst the guitars do all the fancy stuff creating a great dynamic. I'll Make You Believe is an indie pop track with a catchy chorus that will get a room full of people singing along with big smiles on their faces. It's about doing your utmost to show someone what a fantastic person they are. More lovely positivity. The penultimate track on Dragged Through The Years is named Spirits. There isn't much of an opening introduction for the song which brings back that urgency that I was enjoying so much earlier on the album. The track is about learning from mistakes others have made in the past. I like how Aspiga use talking to ghosts and learning from them as a way to do this. It also creates some great imagery in my head and I can imagine an awesome music video getting made for the track. The urgency is upped even more on the album's final song, Don't Hurry Christmas. It's one of the more punk rock sounding tracks on the album but isn't shy about jumping into the more indie side of Aspiga's style as well. This keeps the album still sounding fresh, even on its eleventh track. The harder edge of the song helps finish the album in a big way and ensures that the band have given you everything they have on Dragged Through The Years.

Stream and download Dragged Through The Years here:

Like Aspiga here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Album Review: Haze Like Me by Hospital Job

Here's an album that almost slipped through my attention net at the end of the summer. Chicago's Hospital Job released their fourth full length album Haze Like Me on August 31st through Rad Girlfriend Records. For those unaware, Hospital Job is the side project of Luke McNeill of Chicago pop punk legends The Copyrights. The Copyrights are one of my favourite bands in the pop punk genre so I was looking forward to checking out this effort from Hospital Job.

Haze Like Me starts with the song Devices Got Design. As you might expect we have some energetic buzzsaw pop punk here that actually has me thinking of Direct Hit. The opening vocals are delivered in such a way where they seem to be melodic but also very punchy. I'm not sure how they managed to do this but it really helps draw you into the song immediately. I loved how the song is structured, breaking away from the verse chorus verse formula that is the norm. Instead the song has all of its verses at the beginning before finishing with the big chorus. Up next is the song Darts. This has a darker tone for its opening couple of verses before moving into a big melodic sing-along chorus that really brought the mood of the track up. Darts is about how no matter where you end up you'll always find the same trials and tribulations of the place where you started and how it's best to try and fix problems rather than run from them. The third song, Mount Rushmore, starts with a big opening sequence before switching towards some more subtle vocals. The same melodic pop punk style that I've come to expect from Hospital Job is still there but the vocals seem less in your face than normal. The chorus is as atmospheric as you would expect from the man behind The Copyrights lyrics and will have you shouting along with your fist high in the air.

Sheets In The Freezer again has a bit of a Direct Hit feel to it. It's a very wordy song but this doesn't mean it feels cluttered or hard to sing along with. Quite the opposite in fact. The song is infectious and with every listen you find something new to fall in love with. The chorus is the stand out – McNeill providing the melody with his vocals and being accompanied by a simple drum beat. Simple but oh so effective. The Purest Wifi In Western Europe is a very synth heavy pop track, similar to another Luke McNeill side project, Starter Jackets. The synth adds a whole load of drama to the opening of the track and offers a unique pulling point that you don't often hear in pop punk. I loved how throughout the track the vocals sound layered and almost like gang vocals, this adds another huge element to the song that makes it impossible to ignore.

All Gone opens in a subdued manner, to me it sounds quite moody and wintery. If winter has a sound that is? It's a slower paced track that never really hits any big highs but still has a wonderfully catchy chorus. The track not having that high spot works well with the theme of the song which is about losing everything and having to start again. I particularly enjoyed the harmonies in the song's finale. Vicodin Dream is super heavy on the synth. It's got quite a long introduction that builds nicely. You expect that the song will explode into life after this building intro but instead we get a quiet section that was really not expected. This surprise is what kept me interested though and had me thinking "where will this go next?". The song does eventually get to that big point that I was expecting at the end of the track with the words "it's so dark" being repeated over some more great harmonies and some more synths.

Dead End Street is one of the big stand out tracks on Haze Like Me. Its brilliance is in its seemingly simplicity. It's got a traditional song structure that doesn't offer any surprises. This allows you to get familiar with the song very quickly and you will soon be shouting along to that fantastic chorus. There's a darkness in the song as McNeill sings about living in a bad place and feeling like you can't escape. The penultimate track on Haze Like Me is titled Collars On Ashes. This is a very melancholic song about feeling depressed and stuck in a rut and struggling to go about your life. I really liked the structure of the lyrics on this track. The lines are all short which makes it very easy to follow the song and really soak in everything that's said. By the end of the track, it's feeling like an anthem with some perfectly layered vocals making Collars On Ashes sound huge. The album is concluded with Living Well. Comfortably the longest song on Haze Like Me, Living Well opens up with a very synth heavy introduction before suddenly switching into some crunching guitars and pounding drums. It's quite startling and extremely effective. This ensures that Haze Likes Me finishes in quite the fashion. The final lyrics of "what's the point in living well, if I know that you can't tell" will remain firmly lodged in your head for days.

Luke McNeill has got to be one of the most prolific songwriters in the pop punk world, constantly churning out banger after banger. If you like his other projects, be sure to check out Haze Like Me by Hospital Job. A great album to add to a very impressive body of work.

Stream and download Haze Like Me here:

Like Hospital Job here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Album Review: Territories by Territories

Territories are a four piece band from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They are long time friends and former members of the band Knucklehead. After twenty years of playing honest punk rock music together, they continue on as the new band Territories with the intention of thoughtful, melodic and compelling music. In August, Territories released their debut self titled album on Pirate Press Records.

The album starts with the song Numb Somehow. The song begins with some intricate guitars before we are greeted pretty quickly with some group vocals. This lays down a foundation of what to expect from Territories throughout the entire album. And I'm completely up for this. On the second song, Green Eyes, you feel a warmth that you only get from this melodic gruff punk rock. It's everyman music, accessible for everyone and is wonderfully infectious. I enjoyed the added organ on the track, giving the song a subtle extra layer which gives the song a more rounded sound. The paced is quickened on the third song, New Thing. Feeling more like a street punk track, Territories power through this one minute and thirty-four second song without ever slowing down. It's packed full of urgency and energy and will get your blood pumping in no time at all.

The fourth song Quiet Voices was a standout track when I first listened to the album. As soon as the vocals began I found myself heavily invested into the song and quickly wanted to sing along. The simplicity of the chorus works really well with the whole band adding group vocals. This gives a great feeling of inclusiveness between the band and the listener. Up next is another album highlight in the form of The Bigger They Come. This is a social song about fighting the man with the message being "the bigger they come the harder they fall." Vocally it gets even gruffer but also provides the majority of the melody for the track. The gang vocals add so much to the song, making it sound like a big working class anthem. There And Gone brings us to the halfway point of the album. From the beginning, the song makes you think it's going to be huge and it certainly is. Starting with a guitar riff and adding some simple power chords and drum blasts before all coming together and being joined by the vocals. There's definitely a feel of New Jersey punk legends The Bouncing Souls on this track and I have no problem with that. This is a song that I wish that band had written at some point on their past couple of albums.

Heart That Breaks gets the second half of the album started in a rowdy fashion. It's fast paced and has vocals coming from everywhere. It's about convincing someone that they are the only one you want. The catchy chorus gives the song such a joyous vibe that's hard not to get swept up in. Roman Walls might be my favourite song on the album. Going back to that street punk sound that Territories do exceptionally well, they add more of the modern day gruff punk to create something great! Not enough bands blend these two styles together. Roman Walls is jam packed with so much energy and passion that it gives me that feeling in my stomach that's hard to describe but gets me rather excited. On With The Show isn't quite like anything else on the album. The way that the vocals, lead and gang, are recorded seems rawer and less clean than on the other tracks and gives the song a different feel. I don't think it's quite as inclusive as the other tracks on the album and I found it harder to get invested in the song as quickly.

Standing In Place is a big sing-along of a song. It's about the human species not progressing and evolving as we should and still repeating the same mistakes. The repetitive chorus of "whatever happened to the atom bomb?" is where the song really stands out. This will have a whole room of people shouting along with Territories. The penultimate song, Wolves, has a rock 'n' roll vibe to it that gives it a different flavour. The intricate, walking guitar lines on this track put a smile on my face and really shows off some serious skill, particularly on the solo. The vocals maintain the Territories sound we've come to expect throughout the album. Finally we have the song Nulla Victoria which is more of a mid tempo, smartly thought out song. It manages to mix all sides of the Territories sound – clever guitars, infectious vocals and big choruses. This is a great way to finish the album.

It's kind of strange to say that Territories have great promise given that they've been in bands for two decades but on this album there's definitely a feel of excitement for what could come next for the band. It's a great way to introduce people unfamiliar to their previous work to what a talented bunch these guys are. I really enjoyed Territories and I'm now itching to check out older material as well as looking forward to what these guys do in the future.

Stream and download Territories here:

Like Territoires here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

News: Question The Mark Releasing A Brand New EP On Little Rocket Records

Welsh punk rockers Question The Mark are releasing a brand new EP titled Nightmare On Misery Street on 7in vinyl and digitally through Little Rocket Records. They are also hitting the road at the end of November and the beginning of December. Check out this press release from Little Rocket Records for all the details.

For almost a decade, Welsh punks Question The Mark have been touring the length and breadth of the UK & Europe, whilst putting out releases on several DIY labels in keeping with the bands ethics.

Mixing the traditional bearded punk of Hot Water Music/Leatherface/Banner Pilot with a healthy dose of rock’n’roll guitar pyrotechnics and distinctive Welsh cynicism, QTM are masters of their bleak yet buoyant craft.

This long awaited, and much anticipated new release follows the bands appearance at Fest 17 in Gainesville, Florida this October where Question The Mark played to a hugely receptive, packed out audience at the Foreign Bodies Showcase at Loosey’s on the last night of the festival, following two pre-fest shows in St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

The band made a visit to Sunderland, UK, the home of Leatherface / Medictation to the infamous, Bunker and the source of all things Punk Rock within the North East of England.

Expecting a few drinks and a night out, they ended up with the following three tracks recorded with Graeme Philliskirk in the Little Rocket Studios. They enjoyed their time and wanted to remember it by putting their new EP out.

Get it here -

To coincide with the release Question The Mark, have a full UK tour with Canadian Rifle and a video release for Nightmare on Misery Street.

Track Listing
1. Nightmare on Misery Street
2. Perk-U-Later
3. Where There’s A Pill There’s A Way

All Songs written by Question The Mark

Recorded at The Bunker, Sunderland, UK

Engineered by Graeme Philliskirk & Paul Le Hat

Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Graeme Philliskirk

Artwork & Layout by Exhume

Video Link Here - Nightmare on Misery Street -

These December dates will be the official launch of their new 7” release on Little Rocket Records on the 27th of November 2018.

2018 Tour Dates with Canadian Rifle (Chicago, USA)

W 28 Nov - The Exchange, Stoke
T 29 Nov - Bar Bloc, Glasgow
F 30 Nov - Book Yer Ane Fest XII, Abertay Student Centre, Dundee
S 01 Dec - Book Yer Ane Fest XII, Abertay Student Centre, Dundee
S 02 Dec - The Parish, Huddersfield
M 03 Dec - Wagon & Horses, Birmingham
T 04 Dec - The Salty Dog, Northwich
W 05 Dec - Gwdihw, Cardiff
T 06 Dec - Old Town House, Warrington
F 07 Dec - The Delicious Clam, Sheffield
S 08 Dec - Stag’s Head, Hoxton, London
S 15 Dec - Banktop Tavern, Oldham*

*Question The Mark Only.

Advance tickets for the shows are available from See Tickets / We Got Tickets.

Question The Mark are:

Tim Davies – Guitar / Vocals
Rob Pascoe – Guitar / Backing Vocals
Rich James – Bass / Backing Vocals
Lewis Green – Drums

For more information please contact:

United Kingdom & Europe -
Little Rocket

Press North America -
Melanie at

Press Germany –

Top Tens: Dan and Jason of Authority Zero's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Dan’s 10 influential bands:

Green Day
Rage Against The Machine
The Clash
Suicide Machines
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Less Than Jake

These are the bands that my friends and I were all listening to as we began learning how to play our instruments and started our first bands. There was a common core of albums that everyone had. I think because we were all pulling from the same influences, that it helped us step into a room with each other and kinda know where to go as we wrote our first songs. Green Day’s Insomniac record was the first album that I ever learned front to back on guitar. It was the first album that as I played along to it, what I was doing on guitar sort of sounded like what was happening on the album. That feeling blew my mind. It opened up a whole musical world to me and made songwriting and being in a band feel possible. Going to see most of these bands when I was young further solidified for me that this was where I belonged and what I wanted to be doing. Punk rock has and always will provide a home for young people that need it.

Jason’s top 10 influential Punk Rock moments that lead me here:


The Joykiller concert 1993/94 in the DV8 basement. I was recently, at this time in my life, introduced to punk rock through skateboarding. I was roughly 14 years old. They both went and still do go hand in hand with intensity and a sense of complete freedom and belonging. My friends and I snuck out of our houses one night in small town Evanston, Wyoming, and drove across the border into Salt Lake City, Utah (where SLC Punk was filmed), and had an amazing experience. Jack Grisham (the singer also of T.S.O.L.) was the frontman and was outrageous and entertaining. At the end of the show the place had cleared out and I saw him walking around. I grabbed some garbage off the ground and ran up to him asking if he could sign it for me, being my first show. He asked if I had any stickers and told him I was broke. He went back stage and came out with five stickers and one signed. I told myself then and there that if I ever started a band that that was how I wanted to interact and be there for people through music and life.

# 2

I started a very small punk rock band with some of those friends called D.E.A. (DERANGED EGOTISTICAL ASSHOLES). We had made plans to hit the road ASAP, eat hot dogs the rest of our lives, and drive as far as we could til the end.


I was introduced around that time to Green Day’s earlier 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, Pennywise, Minor Threat, Bad Religion, The Offspring, etc. You name it, they all came flooding in and caught my young ears and filled me with fire and ambition. I knew instantly this was something I longed to perceive.


I went to visit my dad in Phoenix, Arizona (where I was originally born). Within the apartment complex he lived in there was a kid next door named Jerry. We became instant friends and he had some friends in guitar class. We all met up, jammed out some acoustic songs and wrote a couple. They asked me if I wanted to start a band and I said sure, haha. At that time I was more into skateboarding so wasn’t too enthusiastic but was up for the fun of it. That was the very start of Authority Zero.


Playing early shows at JUGHEADS in Phoenix and The Big Fish Pub for literally 2–5 of our close friends and the owners of the club, Donnie and Sid. Simply because they were being nice and supportive. We’d crawl all over their bars knocking over drinks, kicking holes in the walls, and causing as much mayhem as we could in one evening.


Our friend Craven Moorhead (Derick Seidensticker) played a song called Open Eyes off our first LP that we recorded in two days on his radio show called “Backyard BOLLOX”. We freaked out and from there we then recorded our next EP titled “A Passage In Time”.


Signed our first record deal with Lava/Atlantic Records. To us… that was pretty punk rock at the moment and we went on to record our first major full length release, A Passage In Time. We hit the ground running and went on tour for the next 365 days straight. It was our first major tour and paved the path for the rest to come.


Leading a bit into the last answer with touring, we went on one of our very first tours with a band called H20. We played hardcore festivals with them on that run and especially at the time we were very inexperienced and certainly not hardcore. It was quite the eye opener and inspiring.


Playing our first DIY shows in Rocky Point Mexico. Self booked, self funded, and we gave away about 1000 self “burned” two song demo CDs. It was a hell of a good time.


In closing – hard work, patience, perseverance, dedication, love, and family got us to where we are today.

Authority Zero are gearing up for the release of their seventh album Persona Non Grata on December the 7th. Click this link for all the details on ordering physical and digital copies of the album. Authority Zero will also be back in London next April at the New Cross Inn, details here

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Album Review: Roundabouts by Spoilers (by Emma Prew)

I must confess that I was a little late to join the Spoilers fan club, having only really started listening to the Kent foursome earlier this year. We saw them play with Teenage Bottlerocket (plus Eat Defeat and Swan Prince) at the first night of Polite Riot Festival, at the New Cross Inn, in June and I was thoroughly impressed and hooked by their performance. Fast forward a few months and Spoilers have now released their much anticipated debut album, Roundabouts, on Brassneck Records (UK), Boss Tuneage Records (UK), SBÄM Records (EU) and Little Rocket Records (US). After having the album on repeat for several weeks, I figured I ought to review it.

Opening up the album in an upbeat manner with some pounding drums, fast guitar riffage and the line ‘Just be careful what you wish for…’ is Shortcuts. Lead singer Dan Goatham’s vocals range between a fairly gruff style for the verses and something a bit more poppy for a slightly slower paced but super catchy chorus. Shortcuts kicks the album off with a burst of energy and has me eager to hear what’s next. Track two is the album’s title track which gets started with a melodic guitar intro and then I don’t know if there are actually keyboards on this album but it feels like that’s what I can hear here… it might just be the guitars. Whatever it is, I love it. Roundabouts has my head nodding in no time as I’m carried along with the motion of the track – round and round, you could say. This is another fine pop punk tune that will get lodged in your head instantly – ‘Going round in this vicious circle, Miles away.’  – about feeling stuck in one place or rather going around in circles but not really getting anywhere. The third song, Collision Course, wastes no time getting started with a speedy drum roll to kicks things off. Spoilers really have a knack for writing immensely catchy, feel-good tunes, even if they aren’t always entirely feel-good subjects. Collision Course is a great example of this, a song about conflicting opinions wrapped up in an upbeat pop punk package – ‘We’ll meet in the middle as we collide, Same ideas a different side.’ 

Up next is See You Ringside, one of the shorter songs on the album and also one of the heavier sounding tracks. With its crunchy guitars and pounding drums, See You Ringside is an angrier track but Spoilers succeed in retaining their melodic sound despite this. There’s an additional shouty part towards the end of the song from, presumably, other members of the band. I imagine this would be great live with fists punching the air. The Same Again is a track that I’m familiar with from the Spoilers live show – and an excellent part of their set it is too. I feel like this song is somewhat nostalgic but is perhaps more about wanting to forget the past or at least not be reminded of it. The Same Again features a huge singalong chorus – ‘I’ll have the same again!’  – that is just such good fun, whether heard live or on recording. The bridge is also particularly excellent when Dan sings one part while the rest of the band chant something else – great harmonising. The finest of punk rock pub anthems if ever there was one. When I first listened to Roundabouts, I had to check that I was still listening to the same band when Pushover came on. It’s fast, punchy and aggressive for about the first ten seconds or so – possibly another member of the band singing(?) – before Dan’s more typical vocals come in. The element of aggression remains for this track about not wanting to be pushed around anymore. As the shortest track on the album, Pushover is over before you know it but I enjoyed the shift in sound as we reach the halfway point of Roundabouts.

If the previous song was a full-on headbanger then the next, Target Practice, is perhaps more of a head nodder in comparison. That’s not to say that the track is slow by any means however. This is more classic Spoilers in fact, with fast riffs and pop punk vocal delivery. Target Practice definitely has one of the most earwormy choruses of the album – ‘Just keep missing it, Take another blind stab in the dark.’ It was stuck in my head for days anyway. Eighth song Skimming Stones features some huge guitars that quickly grabbed my attention. There’s more of that feel-good nature here for one of the most poppy sounding songs on the album. I’m not sure if it is meant to be but this song has a real nostalgic feel to me. Maybe because I think of skimming stones as being something you do when you’re younger – at the good ol’ British seaside with your family. ‘Take me to the bottom of the sea, A tiny town, Now there’s one last pebble on the beach… I watch you skimming stones again…’ Interestingly, to me anyway, the next song, Harry G, opens with its chorus.‘When I think of the stories, Think of the glorious things that I could never tell, If there’s too many one-liners, Too much inside us, Harry G’s still around.’  If it works then why not? Harry G is a fast paced and urgent track about having a good time, as well as lots of laughter, and most importantly not forgetting about those good times. I think Spoilers are quite the good times band.

As we draw towards the end of the album, Spoilers have another slightly harder hitting, short and fast track in store for us. Lost Your Way feels a little different to the other songs on Roundabouts with a great opportunity for crowd participation in its chorus with some yelling of ‘Hey!’ in typical punk rock fashion – ‘You’ve lost your way, Hey, hey, hey! And it’s me who’s gonna pay, Hey! You’ve lost your way, Hey, hey! The time has passed, You’ve had your say.’ A furious ending brings us to the penultimate track, Recently Re-Released. Another superbly melodic intro leads into the lines ‘It all sounds the same, Re-released again.’ I think this song is possibly a dig at artists who recycle the same material in a slightly different package, but then it could possibly also be a dig at Spoilers themselves since they released an album called ‘Recently Re-Released’ earlier in the year! It could also, more likely, not be about musicians at all and be about wider issues. However you interpret it, it’s another wonderful slice of pop punk. Excuses Excuses is the album’s closing track. It has a slower start… but wait, no, not for long. Spoilers basically do two speeds in their songs – fast and faster. There’s a sense of bitterness in the vocals for this song about being fed up with someone who always makes excuses, often at the last minute. The last section of the song feels like a great end to the song and the album as a whole – ‘I won’t give in…’  Eventually, Spoilers do slow down a little to end the album. Cue fade out.

I can happily say that Spoilers are fast becoming one of my favourite bands in the UK right now and Roundabouts is without a doubt one of my favourite albums of 2018. Go check it out now, now, now!

You can buy physical copies of the album from the Spoilers webstore, as well as stream and download it on Bandcamp. Also be sure to like the band on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Album Review: Paid In Change by Dinner Club

Dinner Club are a four piece band from Winnipeg, Canada. Yup, we're featuring yet another Canadian band on CPRW. Like so many bands on CPRW, I discovered Dinner Club through Bandcamp. After seeing they had just released a new album (in September, I'm only just finding time to write the review) that they described as punk rock and ska I was intrigued. When I listened to the new album, titled Paid In Change, I didn't find quite what I was expecting but I did something quite wonderful.

Paid In Change begins with the song Never Enough. Now after the reading the description of punk rock and ska I was expecting to hear some fast paced and bouncy upstrokes and maybe even some horns. Nope! Instead Never Enough is a melodic pop punk song. If the track wasn't really good I would feel quite duped but there's a great sense of urgency in the track, as well as a fresh sound that's hard to ignore. Up next is the track Sunday Afternoon. This fast paced pop punk track has me thinking of Drive Thru Records era pop punk only with slightly more edge. It's a song about feeling like you're getting older and being bored of and fed up of your job. Hugely relatable to a lot of people reading this. I got awfully excited when I heard the horn line on the third song, West Bound. It's a slower tempo track that hooks you in with a simple melody and a huge chorus that had me wanting to scream along with it immediately. It's a song about being young and hoping your friends have succeeded where you haven't. It's kind of interesting in that it's an equal parts sad and happy song. I'm not sure how Dinner Club have managed this but bravo.

The pace picks up on the fourth song October. There's a fantastic skate punk intensity in the lengthy introduction of the song before vocalist Josh Verinder comes in with a more spiteful sounding vocal than we've previously heard. The track really comes to life during the chorus. It's a catchy one that you'll quickly be singing along to and it's nicely harmonised with a subtle horn line. I can't think of many bands that do this and it's a great technique. Like its opening, October features a lengthy outro where the trumpet really adds to the overall sound making it sound massive. Think about El Hefe's trumpet part in The Decline and you'll hopefully get an idea of what I mean. Can't Go Back sees a big change of pace and a very different sound. For the first time on Paid In Change, we are treated to some vocals from trumpet player Kiah Verinder. Combined with Josh's own vocals, this duet gives Dinner Club another really fresh sound. Paid In Change is full of wonderful surprises throughout.

Daysted Ways is a track about having big dreams in your youth and realising you've made no progress in reaching them as you've gotten older. There is more of a heavy edge on the track, musically reminding me slightly of Rise Against but without Tim McIlrath's trademark gruff vocal. The song's high point is on the chorus when the gang vocals happen. This gives the song a real feel of inclusion. When we reach track seven we are finally treated to an actual ska punk song! And it's great! Vs. The World begins with some glorious upstrokes and a heavy dose of trumpet. It's not long before I find myself wanting to have a bit of a skank around my living room. It instantly sounds uplifting which is fitting as the song is about continuing to fight your fight even when it seems as if everything is against you. I love ska so Vs. The World is a real album highlight for me. Best Of Luck sees Dinner Club revert back to their tried and trusted melodic pop punk. It's a great slow builder of a song. It starts out with Josh's vocals taking centre stage layered over the top of some fairly muted music. Soon enough things get louder and the tempo is upped quite considerably. This is a great way of hooking you into the song.

What It's Worth is a faster skate punk song that has me thinking of a poppier Pennywise. It's a socially aware song about how the world has become more self obsessed than ever and people don't take the time to think of others. This is one of those songs that really makes you think about things that we are all guilty of a lot of the time. The penultimate song is titled The Edge and begins with a fun noodley guitar riff before switching to an almost hardcore style. There's no doubt in my mind that The Edge is the hardest hitting and heaviest sounding track on Paid In Change. Dinner Club really are going all out to showcase all of their musical styles and that's another reason I am really enjoying this album. For the first time on Paid In Change, Josh is joined by a heavier, raw vocal courtesy of bass player Liam Marsch. Last up is the song Back Roads. In a surprising twist, which shouldn't really be a surprise at this point, Dinner Club seem to head down a folk punk road on this final song. Obviously they pull this off marvellously, Josh's rougher vocal style on the chorus really stands out. Back Roads is about remembering where you came from and sometimes wishing you could go back there. This is a fine way to finish the album.

I love finding albums like this from small bands. Paid In Change really is an album full of unexpected moments but also features eleven brilliantly crafted songs. It doesn't really seem to matter what style of song Dinner Club decide to play, they do them all exceedingly well.

Stream and download Paid In Change here:

Like Dinner Club here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Album Review: O.W.W.W.P by Chloe Hawes (by Emma Prew)

Chloe Hawes is a Manchester based singer-songwriter, originally from Essex. She recently released her third EP titled O.W.W.W.P on Under The Bridge Records which was produced by Steve Millar, aka Arms & Hearts. Playing a blend of Americana, country and folk with rock elements, this EP will appeal to those punk rock fans among us that enjoy a quieter tune every now and then – I know I’m not the only one.

First up on this four track EP is the aptly titled Shakespearean Tragic. I say aptly as both lyrically and musically Chloe tells melancholic tale throughout the song. After a slow, sombre yet melodic intro, the pace picks up a little and showcases that this track, and indeed this EP, isn’t simply an acoustic affair. In fact the electric guitar parts that thread throughout the track are probably my favourite bit, complimenting Chloe’s lovely vocal. You can hear the rockier influences in the opening of Anything Once. It feels pretty angsty in a subtle sort of way as the melodies remain somewhat gentle but there’s a hint of bitterness in Chloe’s words. There’s a sweet little guitar solo towards the end of the song and then, after the vocals come back in, a brass section that I completely wasn’t expecting. It gave the song a big boost in sound.

O.W.W.W.P, is the third song of the EP and I instantly see why this is the title track. Telling an honest and relatable tale of tackling your problems with alcohol, drugs and general partying, this is a hard-hitting song that really stands out. The song has a slow pace and quieter instruments allow Chloe’s voice and lyrics to be the main focus of the song. ‘Sort it out love, Don’t you know you’re not the only one, Whose had it a little bit tougher than most.’ Although I stand by my statement that O.W.W.W.P is the stand out track on the EP, my favourite song is probably the last one – Spirals. Maybe it’s because the song has a sound that I can more easily relate to punk rock than the others. Maybe it’s the sense of building throughout the first verse before we hit a huge sounding chorus. Maybe it’s the whoa-ohs that come in shortly after – that’s pretty punk rock, right? Maybe it’s the use of an additional vocal (quite possibly Steve) that contrasts with Chloe’s softer tones. Either way, Spirals ends the EP in style.

O.W.W.W.P is out now and you can check it out on Bandcamp. You can also find Chloe Hawes on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Column: We Went To Japan, I Bought Records

You may or may not be aware that at the beginning of October Emma and I got on a plane and went to Japan for two weeks. It was a once in a lifetime trip where we visited Tokyo, Hakone, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. Whilst travelling around we learnt how to play Taiko drums, visited various parks, shrines, temples and museums, hung out with some deer and some monkeys and went to watch Kyoto Sanga FC play football, among many other things. Another big part of the trip was me dragging us around the various cities on the hunt for record shops. With thanks to Emma doing a little research beforehand and The Vinyl Guide series on YouTube, we discovered Japan to be one of the best places we've ever been to for record hunting. This is a short column talking about my experiences (spoiler alert: it ended up not being very short).

We started off our Japan adventure in Tokyo – the capital of Japan. Wandering around the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, the first record shop we found was a massive multi-storied Tower Records located inside one of Japan's many shopping malls. One thing I learned about Japan was that the Japanese folk love a shopping mall. We didn't pick anything up here but I loved how they had many different listening stations for the various different charts, including a Japanese punk section that I spent a fair amount of time with, checking out different bands. We also found UK band Eat Defeat's EP Time And Tide which created a great photo opportunity for Emma. Tower Records was a good start for our record shopping. It reminded me of HMV in that it had a lot of selection but didn't really have too much of a selection of underground artists.

Up next was what is potentially my favourite thing about Japan – other than Crunky chocolate, Mos Burger and all bakery products – Disk Union. Disk Union is a massive chain store in Japan with shops selling new and second hand vinyl everywhere. Just in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo they have five different shops within quite a short walking distance of each other. Very helpfully they also provide a map (in English) of directions to each store as well as what's in each store. Naturally we were most interested in the punk section which was located on the seventh floor of the biggest Disk Union in the area. Before that though we made our way to the second hand store and had a little dig. Here I found my first record of the entire trip and probably the best bargain I'll ever find in my life – Mustard Plug's Pray For Mojo for the equivalent of £3. Amazing! After this I was in the absolute best mood as we made our way to the floor that is solely dedicated to punk rock. I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed when we first entered the floor – it was a lot smaller than I had expected and full of Japanese bands I'd never heard of (which in truth does make sense). Soon enough we found some classics though. There was so much good stuff that we had to leave some records behind but we did take home with The Guts – Let It Go, Green Day – Warning, Less Than Jake – Losers, Kings And Things We Don't Understand, Screeching Weasel – Bark Like A Dog, Descendents – Enjoy and Dropkick Murphys – Live On St Patrick's Day. A very good haul if you ask me! Later on that day, Emma took me to Shibuya to see the busiest intersection in the world and to help participate in making it so busy. It did make me think, would the crossing be so busy if people weren't crossing for the sake of crossing? Anyway, I digress. Whilst in Shibuya we visited another Disk Union which had a load more great stuff. I however showed some restraint and just picked up Do Or Die by Dropkick Murphys. Their first and only album with former lead singer Mike McColgan on vocals.

After a few days in Tokyo, we headed to Hakone to experience a slightly more rural and traditional Japan. Between visiting various sites in the area, including an open air museum and a cable car ride in an attempt to see Mount Fuji (that failed because it was mega cloudy), we had a lovely time using our own hot spring bath and shabu-shabu dinners (a hot pot you prepare yourself) where I almost poisoned myself – Chef Colin strikes again! – but we did no record shopping. We were actually doing touristy holiday type stuff on a holiday of all things!

Following two days in Hakone doing holiday stuff, we jumped aboard the bullet train and headed towards Hiroshima, home of Dumb Records and Misery Records. We arrived quite late in the day because of some high winds delaying the train (it was typhoon season). But something we discovered in Japan was that their shops open much later than they would here in the UK which is very useful when you travel on wind delayed bullet trains. We'd already researched these record shops beforehand and I was looking forward to checking them out. Emma had found Dumb Records on Google (other search engines are apparently available) and said they specialised in Ramonescore pop punk bands. When we arrived at the store we discovered that it's part record store and part café/bar – and it certainly does specialise in Ramonescore pop punk records. I was amazed by the amount of European bands that were stocked in Dumb Records as well as many from America. We settled on picking up a re-issue of The Queers’ classic album Punk Rock Confidential. Whilst paying, the owner of the shop noticed I was wearing my Ramones Museum hoodie from Berlin and said he had wanted to go there. This was a cool little shop owned by a lovely man. He even gave us some free stickers. After leaving Dumb Records we made the quick walk to Misery Records. Something I noticed about a lot of shops we visited in Japan is that they are often in tower blocks. I kind of feel like this might make it difficult to find them if you're just out wandering the streets and not specifically looking for them. I feel like we may have walked past a few hidden gems while we were hunting for others. Misery Records was probably my favourite of all the stores we visited. Not because of the selection they had, though I did come away with a varied selection (Against All Authority – The Restoration Of Order & Chaos, Anti-Flag – Mobilize, Left Alone – Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts, The McRackins – Mickey And Mallory) but because of how welcoming the store's owners (husband and wife) were. We spent about fifteen minutes in there talking about where we were from, where we'd been, how we had heard about the shop and what we were going to do in Hiroshima. He even assumed we were in a band that was currently touring Japan – I assume plenty of actual touring bands pop into the shop. There was also a funny moment where I almost made myself look really stupid. He was asking us if we were interested in the A-Bomb and for a second I did wonder if he was talking about a hardcore band. Before leaving the store he insisted on getting a photo of us with him. Also, if you ever find yourself in Hiroshima, I really recommend you visit a little Mexican restaurant named Otis, the food is delicious with lots of veggie options and the place is just really wonderful.

The next stop on our tour of Japan was a trip down to Nagasaki for a few days of sightseeing and stuff. Our stay in Nagasaki also coincided with a yearly festival that I'm not really sure was (Emma says it is called Nagasaki Kunchi Festival) but it involved lots of chanting and carrying around festival floats/mini shrines. It was really quite the spectacle. This festival also meant there were loads of food stalls around the Nagasaki harbour. We sampled some chocolate covered bananas – two each in fact because for some reason the nice lady gave us four for the price of two. They were delicious. Whilst in Nagasaki, we also found a great record store named Sonny Boy. This shop was full of crates of second hand records from every conceivable genre. The punk and ska stuff (the good stuff) was found at the back of the store mixed in with all sorts of modern rock bits that you don't generally see anywhere. It was like a little treasure trove of the stuff you didn't know you wanted but once you saw it you had to have it. I searched through each crate and found Catch 22 – Alone In A Crowd, Slow Gherkin – Double Happiness and Potshot – Rock 'N' Roll (we couldn't not get a Japanese band's record). But it was Emma who found the record I was most excited to buy. Above the 12 inches were a selection of 7 inches. I don't usually like to buy 7 inches because I rarely listen to them but when Emma pointed out Jump On Demand by, a band that changed my life, [Spunge] was sitting on the shelf, I had to have it. I didn't even know it existed and it made me very excited. Sonny Boy was a great shop with loads of great finds in it, a bit like Nagasaki itself which Emma and I both decided was our favourite place we visited.

The final destination on our adventure in Japan was Kyoto. Another fantastic place located near to lots of other brilliant tourist destinations – we hung out with deer (Nara) and monkeys (Arashiyama), saw plenty of temples and shrines and took a walk round Himeji Castle. Unfortunately the record shopping in Kyoto wasn't great but Kyoto is not too far from Osaka which was incredible for record shopping. We arrived in Osaka fairly late in the day but, again thanks to the shops opening late, this really wasn't a problem. I'd seen on The Vinyl Guide YouTube channel that the Shinsaibashi area has a lot of record stores. When finding the first Disk Union, we accidentally went into the classical music shop before heading across the shopping precinct to the rock and punk version. There wasn't quite as big a selection here as the Disk Union in Tokyo but I did find an original pressing of The Toasters’ Pool Shark that I was very pleased with. In Disk Union the nice chap who served me gave me a map of the Osaka record stores which I thought was incredible and extremely helpful. It had a list of all the stores in the area, where they are and what they specialise in. The one that originally appealed the most was a shop called Time Bomb. Although it was a pretty big shop and seemed to have a lot in, there wasn't a whole lot in the way of punk stuff. Hidden away in the corner though there was a section for punk records. We found a load of super rare first pressings including Green Day's classic breakthrough Dookie. However we had to leave it in the shop as it cost about £200! The biggest surprise of the whole trip was from a store that I wasn't actually expecting to find anything. There are a pair of King Kong Records shops in Shinsaibashi. The first we visited was a tiny pop up shop style place next to a Tower Records. Here we found Ann Beretta – New Union, Old Glory and Planet Smashers – Attack Of The Planet Smashers and I was over the moon. Later in the evening, we found another King Kong Records in another shopping mall place that was decorated wonderfully for Halloween. Something else I learned in Japan is that they love Halloween there. It was crazy. This King Kong Records was much bigger and an absolute gold mine! Digging through the punk and "neo ska" section (I guess neo ska means third wave ska) I found Mustard Plug – Yellow #5, McRackins – In On The Yolk, Buck-O-Nine – Twenty-Eight Teeth and Nerf Herder – American Cheese. I was very excited by the Nerf Herder find. I had to leave loads behind because Emma reminded me we also needed to eat for the remainder of the holiday and I was secretly getting a little worried about the weight of my suitcase.

Overall Japan proved to be great for record shopping and is a really fantastic country full of wonderful sights and the nicest people I've ever come across. Coming from Essex and having spent sixteen years working in retail, I'm not used to be surrounded by such a polite group of people and it took a lot of getting used to. I highly recommend visiting Japan, not just for finding great punk records but to experience this beautiful culture and country.

This wasn't actually the end of my record shopping. On our last day in Kyoto we were wandering back from Kyoto Zoo through a massive shopping arcade type place and we found one last record shop we hadn't actually been in yet. I've completely forgotten the name of the shop but it was a small basement store. It didn't really look as if it had much but there was an "after 90s" section that intrigued me just because of the name. In this I found actual (not actual) gold in the form of a picture disc version of the Less Than Jake debut album Pezcore. What a find that was! There were a lot of wow moments for me on this trip. This one earned a wowee!

Go to Japan. It's cool.

This column was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew and Colin.