Friday, 28 December 2018

CPRW Playlist: The Best Songs Of 2018

It's the last Friday of the month and the last of the year so here at CPRW we thought we'd do something a little special. Brett, Dan, Emma, Jack, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have selected our favourite songs of the year. But because 2018 has been such an incredible year for new punk rock music, we decided to ask some of our pals from the punk blogging community to add some of their favourite songs of the year as well. Many thanks to Sarah from Shout Louder, Matt from Ear Nutrition, Makky from Broken Arrow, David from Keep Track Of The Time, Mick from Just Some Punk Songs, Marie-Line from Punk Rock Avenue, AJ from The Punk Site, Bruno from PunKanormal Activity and Tony from Apathy and Exhaustion. Check out all of these blogs whilst listening to this superb playlist. 

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Jack's Top Ten Albums of 2018

Every year, for the past four maybe five, I’ve eagerly waited for this time of the year. This has nothing to do with Christmas celebrations, unwrapping presents, or getting stupid drunk during the day. Maybe a little with the last one. For me, December is mostly about what people in music either love or absolutely despise the most: end-of-year top 10 (20? 100?) lists. I quickly moved from using such lists as a source of inspiration, a way to make sure I hadn’t overlooked any gem, to writing my own lists for the ‘benefit’ of an unwilling and probably confounded audience on Facebook who must have been wondering the size of my ego when stumbling across these unsolicited lists full of obscure references.

Colin and Emma’s end-of-year lists – and those of the rest of the lovely people who write on this blog – have quickly become something of a measuring stick for my own tastes, which makes writing this year’s list without reading theirs first particularly challenging. Because, in fact, I usually wait until the literal last day of the year to post my thoughts on the best albums of the previous 12 months. But not this year! Would those extra 20-ish days have generated some extra discovery that would have made it into this list? I honestly can’t think about it too much or I’ll spend several more hours listening to new music and I don’t think my brain can take it right now. So let’s dive in.

One quick final note on this list: I used to include, before my yearly lists, a disclaimer saying that it was obviously based on my personal taste and musical preferences, which for the last 15 years had gravitated around California-based skate punk. I think this is increasingly less true, and in fact a fair share of the 10 albums I enjoyed the most in 2018 were not even punk. But this is Colin’s Punk Rock World, so I’ve decided to stay topical. At the end of the album list, however, I’ve included two extra features: my top 10 list of the punk songs of 2018, to recognise that there were some hidden gems even in albums that didn’t make the cut here – or indeed EPs, which I haven’t considered; and my top 10 list of the non-punk songs of 2018, just in case you’re curious about how I’ve been non-punk curious lately :D

10. Grit by No Fun At All

I never paid too much attention to No Fun At All, to my discredit. Grit is a classic skate punk sounding album that will entertain you all the way through, with a selection of proper bangers (Sucker for a Plan being my favourite from the album).

9. Entropic by Hit The Switch

Here’s another band that I had only heard about but actually never listened to. Reacting to the hype surrounding the announcement about their new album – the first after a long hiatus – I decided to give this one a go, and I have not regretted it. Entropic gives me very strong No Use For A Name vibes, with a lot of simple melodies over fast drums, all hitting the right notes. I'm definitely hoping to hear more from Hit The Switch in the future.

8. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat

I have yet to hear a bad release by Eat Defeat. After the absolute diamond of an EP released in 2016, which sparked several European tours and even a series of gigs in Japan, with I Think We’ll Be OK the band from Leeds have reaffirmed themselves as one of the bands in the UK that does happy-sounding pop punk best, while singing of much more sombre themes such as depression and existential dread, but in a humorous and relatable way.

7. Alamort by Ducking Punches

Here’s what I thought when I listened to Alamort for the first time: this album sounds fucking MASSIVE. The guitar, bass and sounds are simply spot on, the arrangements are insanely intricate, while still fitting perfectly with the emotional vocals performed stupendously by band founder Dan Allen.

While Ducking Punches have always made music that departed away from punk rock – while having a gruff punk rock core – Alamort is probably the album where the sound has evolved the most, making it more ‘accessible’ to people who don’t listen to punk rock necessarily. That however doesn’t make it any less ‘authentic’. The song I Ruin Everything is, simply speaking, the best song – punk rock or not – to come out in 2018. It’s so honest, a fucking gut punch, so raw, and yet so mindbendingly beautiful. I can’t stop listening to it.

6. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs

Funny that Spanish Love Songs come immediately after Ducking Punches in this list, given that they were touring together earlier this year. But I didn’t go see them. Why? Because I had never listened to SLS until I finally decided to listen to Emma’s advice, and boy was she right!!

Schmaltz is a massively enjoyable pop punk album that follows the path laid down by The Menzingers in their 2017 hit After The Party. Hence, you can expect very personal lyrics, reflections on one’s place in the world, friendship and love, all while making you wanna dance from the sustained rhythms. The best example of what I mean is The Boy Considers His Haircut, a hilarious and yet also serious monologue about struggling with one’s own identity, fulfilling your dreams and meeting others’ expectations.

5. Cheer by Drug Church

The last of the late additions in this list (thanks Colin’s Punk Rock World crew for the tips!!), Cheer by Drug Church completely took me by surprise as I first listened to it. I would describe the album’s genre as “hardcore with catchy pop punk chord sequences”, kinda like Iron Chic but with these two components brought to the extreme. It kind of makes me wonder how this works when played live, something I look forward to finding out in the new year.

4. The Sparks That Moves by Cancer Bats

This has been one hell of a year for Cancer Bats, maybe the year they’ve established themselves as a hardcore powerhouse. The Canadian band has come to the UK at least three times in 2018, at one stretch selling out four (maybe five?) consecutive nights at the Underworld in London. Most importantly, they have released The Spark That Moves, the band’s sixth full length.

I am not a *huge* hardcore connoisseur, so maybe that’s why I don’t know any band quite like Cancer Bats. Just like all the albums that preceded it, TSTM is a collection of sludgy “mean” hardcore, infused with southern rock sounds and gang vocals that make it a beast when played live. Particularly noteworthy is the collaboration with Chris Hannah from Propagandhi in the album’s closing track, Winterpeg.

3. No Discordance by Harker

Little known fact: Harker were the first UK band I ever bought a record of. It was at the Windmill in Brixton, they were opening for Red City Radio, I had never heard of them but I was massively impressed by this punk rock ensemble where the singer is playing the acoustic guitar. It’s not something you see every day. Another little personal note: that night I decided that I wanted to get involved in the local punk rock scene, got myself a guitar, and a week after I joined Ships Down. True story.

No Discordance is Harker’s first full-length album, and Mark has now ditched the acoustic guitar and gone full electric, but the emotional rawness of their songwriting is still there. Broadly falling under the categories of ‘gruff punk rock’ and pop punk, the 10 songs on the album are in my view the best Harker have ever written. It’s not easy to identify a song that stands out from the others, but at the same time I keep going back to Caught Up, a beautiful ballad in three quarters that slowly builds up to some properly emotional “who-hoos” that I really wish would never end. A proper anthem that can only get better live.

2. Clarion Call by The Human Project

In July 2017, The Human Project released a new track, What We Always Do, announcing with it a new album, the first since Origins in 2013. Now, let me tell you one thing: What We Always Do is probably the best album concentrated of fast, technical skate punk in the past, well, five years? It showcases what writing a *perfect* skate punk song is. My point is, if aliens invaded this planet and asked me what song perfectly encapsulates 2010s skate punk – weird flex, but ok – I would probably say: “Is there a way of answering this question without all the anal probing?”, before ultimately referring them to The Human Project’s bandcamp.

The fact that WWAD was so good turned against us, however. In a cruel turn of fate, fans of The Human Project had to wait close to a year before the full length containing it, and 10 more songs, was finally released. Needless to say, Clarion Call is a blast. The Human Project are deservedly part of the UK tech-punk pantheon, but it’s a different kind of technicality that distinguishes them; there’s no frills, and the songs are mostly linear in a hugely impactful way. You actually realise how good they are when you see them live, and realise that: a) they sound exactly like in the studio; b) there’s actually a billion little details in their songs that reveal the huge amount of work that goes into them; and c) they do all of this while seamlessly nailing 3-way vocal harmonies.

It’s also not straightforward to box The Human Project in a well-defined genre. Clarion Call is in fact a multifaceted work of punk rock, ranging from more melodic, emotional tunes (like Pride Before A Fall) to angrier songs about our corrupt political system (That One Percent). The Human Project have traditionally appealed to fans of many different kinds of music, and Clarion Call has the ability to continue to do exactly so, while also representing a step up for the band in terms of songwriting.

1. Black Panther The Album (Music From And Inspired By) by Various Artists [but, like, mostly Kendrick Lamar]

Ok, I lied when I said I left out non-punk albums from this list. But I couldn’t leave this one out. Not when this particular non-punk album was THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Not when I have so many things to say about it.

Before I continue, however, let’s clear the air: there isn’t a take in music that is as lame, and boring, and superficial as saying “hip hop is the new punk”. I don’t want to spend the rest of the space available here to list the cultural, historical, and political reasons why such a take is good only for Jack White types who can’t see further from their own noses (I’m also probably not the best person to do so). I just want this to be on the record, that it wasn’t this type of sentiment that led me to include a hip hop record on a list of otherwise punk albums. I just decided to break my own rule, there’s nothing punk about that either. Just remember: hip hop is hip hop. New punk, is new punk; for better or for worse, I guess.

Imagine being Kendrick in 2016. You’ve just finished producing DAMN., a fitting follow up to the smash hit To Pump A Butterfly, but taking a rather different turn stylistically and lyrically. You’re the most in-demand artist in the world. You’re releasing the new album in February, when you’re approached by an emerging movie director about maybe doing a few original songs for a movie that’s coming out in 2018. Which movie? Oh, nothing special, just the most politically relevant blockbuster of a generation.

Now, it’s easy to see how this could have gone sour. Overworked artist, in the whirlwind of a new album release – with all the promotion and touring that normally ensues, working in a context that could have very likely turned unfavourable – a soundtrack to a Marvel (i.e. Disney) movie talking about drugs and gang violence? Get outta here! And yet, the unlikely series of illuminated choices made by executives, combined with the genius of the talent involved, have gifted us all with one of the greatest movie soundtracks of the decade, a cohesive work 14-song album – talk of a few tracks! – with a life of its own beyond the movie it accompanies (and not just because of how the songs are criminally underutilised in the film itself!).

It’s of course reductive to credit Kendrick Lamar alone for the brilliance of this album, even though he is listed as a songwriter in all of the songs. Producer Ludwig Göransson was responsible for a lot of the research that went into the distinctive sound of this album and Kendrick was joined by other world-class musicians such as SZA, Vince Staples, Jay Rock, James Blake, Anderson .Paak, Jorja Smith, The Weeknd and Travis Scott to name a few! We should also remind ourselves that this was a *monster* of a blockbuster movie, with a production budget for the soundtrack alone that would probably dwarf what has been spent to produce the top 1,000 DIY punk albums every year for the past five years. But it’s certainly not the case that every time these same ingredients – lots of money + great artists + great production and direction – are combined, the results are always so rosy.

Listening to this album, it’s impossible not to be baffled by the sequence of banger after banger that make this record. Compared to his latest solo project, DAMN., Kendrick is less concerned about following any strictly defined style, but instead each song takes inspiration from a different style of black music, alternating African rhythms (Redemption) with massive club hits (Opps). But a few words must be spent on King’s Dead, one of the singles which anticipated the album and the release of the movie. King’s Dead sounds a bit more like a ‘Kendrick’ song, stylistically – deep basses, dreamy choral arrangements mixed with heavy beats – and lyrically, where Kendrick, Jay Rock and Future sing in the voice of the villain, Erik Killmonger, boasting his riches, his conquests despite the state of oppression he was in, and laying claim to the throne. With the social themes explored in the lyrics, this album echoes the sentiment left by the movie itself: was Killmonger actually kinda right?

Songs – Punk
1. Ducking Punches – I Ruin Everything
2. Harker – Caught Up
3. Cancer Bats – Brightest Day
4. Alkaline Trio – Sweet Vampires
5. Eat Defeat – Can’t Say I’ll Miss You
6. Captain Trips – Siren Song
7. Drug Churg – Weed Pin
8. Red City Radio – In The Shadows
9. Trash Boat – Shade
10. Spanish Love Songs – Otis / Carl

Songs – Non-Punk
1. Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, James Blake – King’s Dead
2. Kanye West (ft 070 Shake, John Legend & Kid Cudi) – Ghost Town
3. Pusha T – Come Back Baby
4. Mac Miller – Ladders
5. Parsonsfield – Santa Monica
6. Travis Scott – Sicko Mode
7. Frank Turner – Be More Kind
8. Childish Gambino – Feels Like Summer
9. Arctic Monkeys – Four Out Of Five
10. Cardi B – She Bad
*Bonus: A-ha // Kendrick Lamar – Take On Backseat (n04h Mashup)

This top ten was written by Jack Genovese.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Brett's Top Ten Albums of 2018

It’s been said before and will be said again, but 2018 has been a great year for music. The amount of new music I have been exposed to thanks to the CPRW team, Facebook groups, and festivals like MPF has made choosing a top 10 albums of the year really difficult. The albums released this year that I’ve felt connected to far outnumber the limit of 10 required for this list. Fair Do’s, Spoilers, Spanish Love Songs, and Alkaline Trio all released amazing albums this year and only just missed out on making my list. For this I am sorry, but I do hope they make it onto some other best of 2018 lists. The Lawrence Arms collection almost made my list until I decided to exclude compilation, split, and cover albums. I haven’t listened to nearly enough EPs this year but Petrol Girls, Red City Radio, and Forever Unclean were standouts for me.

10. Entropic by Hit The Switch

As a young punk living in South Africa, I’d have to rely on the thank you lists in liner notes of albums and record label mailing lists to find new bands to listen to. I would then connect using our dial-up internet to a website like or Yahoo (yes, I am old), spend hours waiting for songs to download just to find something new to fall in love with. As the internet has got faster, and the way in which I consume music has changed drastically, so has the manner in which I find new bands. Hit The Switch arrived on my radar when I received a Bandcamp notification from Bird Attack Records, sharing their newest album called Entropic. I quickly swiped left and searched Apple Music for this band I had never heard of, trusting the reputation of Bird Attack and believing that if it was worth a notification, it’s got to be worth listening to at least once. Clean, high-toned vocals combined with harmonized guitars, the odd shred-solo, and some tight drumming all make for an album worthy of the Bird Attack lineup and any melodic skate punk collection. The pace is set to fast from the first track and never really subsides until the end, although the more melodic songs like ‘North Star’ and ‘Manic Heart Disease’ are probably my favourites on the album.

9. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat

Another band brought to my attention thanks to the MPF lineup and suggestions from Colin and Emma. After listening to their 2016 EP Time & Tide on repeat and seeing them open the Saturday of MPF, I was waiting for their second full-length with a high level of anticipation. I was jealous that Colin was able to get an early preview of the album and his statement that “Eat Defeat have probably won pop punk in 2018” didn’t make the wait any easier. While my title for pop punk of 2018 may be disputed and closely contested, the fact remains that I Think We’ll Be OK is one of the highlights of the year. From the opening chord, the band draw you in with songs that will be stuck in your head for days and are sure to make you feel better no matter the mood you find yourself in.

8. True Capacity by Astpai

One of my most anticipated albums of 2018, I pre-ordered True Capacity the moment it was announced. Astpai take influences from hardcore, melodic and pop punk and have managed carve out their own sound, refining it with each release. True Capacity takes the listener on a journey through the Astpai formula without ever getting too predictable. The album is full of powerful sing-along moments provided by songs like ‘Rotten Bait’, ‘Falling Trees’ and my personal favourite ‘No Hero’, which builds you up, brings you down, and builds up again with a great melody and super catchy chorus. There are also songs like the title track that remind you of the band’s hardcore roots with hints of a Refused influence, while still fitting in with the rest of the album easily. When deciding on a top 10, I look at the albums I’ve listened to the most over the last year and True Capacity has been a favourite of mine on the drive to work and back since its release. This is Astpai at their best.

7. Everything But The Here And Now by Happy Accidents

When Robyn and I made the decision to attend MPF 2018, we had no idea that our world of music would be blown open. Way back in November of 2017, Colin described Happy Accidents as a “London indie pop punk act” and “cheerful types”. After testing the water with their first album I agreed with Colin’s description and was excited to get the chance to hopefully (schedule permitting) catch them at MPF. I was lucky enough to travel to London in March for a conference and Happy Accidents announced a launch show for their new album. It was right in the middle of the crazy snow storms and I had jet lag in a new city but pushed through to attend one of my favourite gigs of the year. I remember telling Robyn after the show that Happy Accidents had become an absolute must-watch at MPF. With Everything But The Here And Now, the band push their unique genre of pop punk to new places and the talent of each member is highlighted throughout the album. The sincerity of the songs combined with genuine talent and some slick production make this one of the unmissable albums of the year. If this is what London 2018 pop punk sounds like, count me in!

6. Capture The Flag by War On Women

Following up War On Women’s amazing 2015 self-titled album was never going to be an easy feat. The band has taken the challenge head on and stepped up to deliver one of the best hardcore albums of the year. I believe that Shawna Potter is one of the best vocalists in hardcore and the talent she has for combining beautiful melodic moments with brutal emotion with her voice is second to none. With this album, it feels like War on Women have taken their anger and frustration to new levels musically with more dynamic songs than featured in their previous work. Capture The Flag is filled with passion and aggression, and songs featuring topical themes such as gun-control, LGBTQ+ rights, racism, and women’s reproductive rights. These topics should be brought into the spotlight and discussed not only through music but in all aspects of life, especially (although not exclusively) because of the Trump-era mess the planet finds itself in. Bands like War On Women help to bring these topics to the forefront and it’s easy to see how much they care about the battles we should all be fighting.

5. Self Care by We Are The Union

One of the later entries into this list, We Are The Union had faded into the background of my music library since seeing them live at Fest 10 in 2011. Sure, they put out You Can’t Hide The Sun in 2012 but it never really grabbed me in the same way as their earlier releases. Six years later, Kickstarter and the stars (or whatever) have aligned and We Are The Union have been able to release a crowdfunded album that feels like a collection of letters express-delivered to people that could use a pick-me-up. It’s ok to feel sad sometimes, you’re not alone. It’s ok to feel frustrated with the state of the world, you’re not alone. It’s ok to feel alone sometimes, you’re not alone in that either. After a pretty rough year at work, this album arrived at exactly the right time for me and has been in regular rotation since its release. The horns are more prominent again, the mix is perfect, and the songs are fun. I regret not catching the band at Fest 15 but I do hope to get the opportunity to see them live again, and thank them for an album that made me feel better when I really needed it.

4. MxPx by MxPx

have been around for a long time and have released a lot of music. Some I’ve loved, some I’ve liked well enough, and some I’ve only ever listened to once. I enjoyed 2012’s Plans Within Plans, but it still felt as though the band would never reach the highs of Life In General or Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo. When the band announced the Kickstarter campaign to release the self-titled album on their own, their enthusiasm was impossible to miss and they have delivered an album that is their best in decades and which has reignited my love for the band. The first 4 songs of this album easily rank as one of the best first sort-of-halves of any album in recent memory. The songs on this album emanate fun and remind us how great MxPx can be when they’re having as much fun as the listener.

3. Body Feel by Shook Ones

It’s always going to be a great year in music when it involves new Shook Ones. I had regarded the band as pretty much broken up after having heard almost nothing from them for almost 10 years. But after a member of the Fest Friends Facebook group shared the news of a new Shook Ones album and a new song, it was an easy decision to pre-order and put the song on repeat for a few days. I am a big fan of Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, and considering the influence of these two bands I’ve loved everything put out by Shook Ones almost immediately. Nearly a decade since their last full-length, Shook Ones have managed to mature their sound enough to keep things fresh while staying true to the formula that made it so easy to enjoy their releases from the past. Some might argue that the songs have gotten slower but the crunchy guitars, Shevchukesque vocals and melodies delivered with energy don’t feel slow. Although comparisons to Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, and None More Black are never far away, Shook Ones have managed to release an album that fits right into their already excellent catalogue of music and one which sounds more like the best Shook Ones rather than any other influential band.

2. Clarion Call by The Human Project

Thanks to Robyn’s recommendation, I first listened to The Human Project around May of 2018, shortly before the release of their second album Clarion Call. Thank goodness I didn’t have to wait too long for the new album, even though I feel like it would have been worth the wait regardless. This is fast, technical, and melodic punk rock done right, with thought-provoking lyrics and music that makes you want to get up and take action. Given the style of music and way in which it is delivered here, there was never any doubt that Clarion Call would be a long time favourite of mine.

1. How To Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope

I wasn’t super familiar with the Melbourne trio before 2018. I had heard of them touring with the likes of Against Me! and Worriers, and after listening to a few songs from their debut album and the Audiotree Live EP I was keen to hear more. My interest culminated in November 2017 when the band released the first single from How To Socialise & Make Friends into the world. ‘The Opener’ immediately drew me in with its brilliantly catchy bass lines and infectious melody. The lead single highlights the hypocrisy and misogyny occurring within the (punk) music scene, and was met with acclaim. In March of 2018, the full album was released. Not only did it live up to my expectations, it completely blew them out of the water. The album does not contain a single bad song; it’s full of personal and honest lyrics, beautiful melodies, and perfect bass lines that sound deceptively simple. Everything is put together so well: the songwriting, structure, musicianship, and production are all perfect. From the very first listen and despite being released so early in the year, I knew that the album would rank highly in my top 10 and Camp Cope are right at the top of my must-see-live-one-day list.

This top ten was written by Brett Coomer.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Robyn's Top Ten Albums of 2018

2018 has been a pretty amazing year. After twelve years of sharing our triumphs, failures, and passions (and a lot of music), Brett and I got married on a rooftop in the middle of Johannesburg. And, because we’re not really concerned with following the strict traditional ‘rules’ for these things (insert punk joke here), we decided to have our honeymoon holiday celebration beforehand at Manchester Punk Festival. As a couple who share a love of music and live performance, this was the perfect choice for us and we had the most amazing time at MPF with Colin and Emma. MPF introduced us to the U.K.’s flourishing D.I.Y. scene, and we discovered so many fantastic British acts. The fact that half of the albums on my top 10 list for 2018 are from British bands (compared to the single band featured in last year’s list) really attests to how much of an impact MPF has had on my listening this year. We met so many lovely people in the UK (including other members of the CPRW team – hi guys!) and are honestly just dreaming up ways to come back and do it all again. These albums were the soundtrack to this amazing year.

10. MxPx by MxPx

Like last year’s Goldfinger release, the new MxPx album feels like a gift to long-time pop punk fans. These songs are nostalgic and joyful, and just so damn catchy. Brett and I would often choose to listen to this album in the car while driving around on the weekends, shamelessly belting out “It’s Friday tonight!” The band had more creative freedom to play around and have fun on this album, and it really shows. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit it into my top 10 this year, but in the end I just had to make space for MxPx.

9. Body Feel by Shook Ones

It’s been NINE YEARS since Shook Ones gave us a full-length album. Their previous record The Unquotable A.M.H. was perfection from start to finish (and, along with D4’s Civil War, is the only reason I survived my Honours year), so when this album was announced I was super excited. The week it was released I spent an entire day with it on repeat, savouring all of the Shook Ones’ fast and raw melodies, and I’ve been bopping along to these tunes for weeks now. Their sound on this record is just as gritty and fun as before, although there are a few slightly gentler parts. I also love the hand-drawn album art, which is just so cute! I can’t help wanting every possible piece of merch that goes along with this album. Body Feel was such a welcome surprise this year, and, after making their fans wait such a long time, Shook Ones definitely did not disappoint.

8. Roundabouts by Spoilers

Spoilers are undoubtedly one of my favourite British bands. Seeing them at MPF this year meant that I missed out on seeing Lightyear, but it was totally worth getting the chance to sing along to some of the songs off of their EP and to hear some forthcoming material. (Side note: an awesome side-effect of choosing to watch Spoilers was that we didn’t get stuck in the super long queue outside Zombie Shack and were able to catch Aerial Salad’s Green Day cover set. It was so sweaty, and so awesome.) Spoilers’ first full-length album follows on beautifully from their highly-successful EP, and now I really can’t wait to see them again.

7. Exiled by Drones

Drones is another band I found through MPF, since I first heard their song ‘Territories’ on one of the playlists that the organisers put out at the beginning of this year. The band’s sharp and aggressive melodies immediately stood out to me, and I was surprised when I was the only one in our small group at MPF who had planned to check them out. I also suspect that I was one of very few people in the crowd who knew every lyric to every song they played (particularly strange for a South African watching a British band at a British festival), but I think I’m just early to the party. Drones were excellent live (as I gushed to them afterwards) and I’m still binging on this album.

6. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs

I only really discovered Spanish Love Songs this year, and although on first listen I could not get over how much vocalist Dylan Slocum sounds like Greg Barnett from The Menzingers, this band totally won me over with their rousing melodies and intricate song-crafting. The songs on this album are saturated with emotion, with lyrics that are raw and direct. I love the resonance that Meridith Von Woert’s keys bring to songs like ‘Nuevo’ and ‘Joana, In Five Acts’, and how the band builds up its sound in a banger like ‘Bellyache’. I enjoyed Schmaltz on first listen, and I’ve only grown to like it more.

5. Clarion Call by The Human Project

The Human Project is another phenomenal band I only discovered this year, but it’s also the only British band on this list that didn’t play MPF this year (and why I’m so keen to come back and catch them in 2019!). This was one of my regular running albums this year. Even when I had nothing left, the fast-paced melodies could get me over any hill and even helped me push through a few tight work deadlines. I can only imagine the energy these guys would bring to a live performance, but I’m hoping I won’t have to wait too long to find out.

4. Everything But the Here and Now by Happy Accidents

Leading up to MPF I happily binged on Happy Accidents’ first album, You Might Be Right, and then swiftly moved onto their latest release. Both are packed with lively indie-punk jams, but their newest album is a bit more filled-out as it includes a second guitar and features Phoebe’s vocals more prominently. In a similar way to Worriers, Happy Accidents blend joyful and engaging songwriting with frank and introspective lyrics. A song like ‘Free Time’ is ridiculously catchy, while reflecting upon the damaging effects of remaining too self-focused; and, ‘Text Me When You’re Home’ is both tragic and powerful (and absolutely superb live). This album feels timely and fresh, and seeing many of these songs played live is one of my best memories from this year.

3. True Capacity by Astpai

If it were possible for The Flatliners and None More Black to have an Austrian lovechild, then Astpai would be it. As a major fan of the former two bands, it’s unsurprising that I’ve quickly come to love Astpai as well. This album is full of great hooks and interesting melodic details, and is suffused with Zock’s gorgeously gruff vocals. It’s excellent from start to finish, and at one point this year it was the only album I could bear to listen to while working. Astpai have also been announced for next year’s MPF, so there’s even more incentive for me to get there.

2. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat

Whenever anyone asked me which band at MPF really impressed me, Eat Defeat was my default answer. I’d listened to them a little before we saw them, but I was totally won over by their energetic live performance. And then this album came out, and I quickly became an Eat Defeat superfan. These guys just exude happiness and positive energy, especially on this album (the central message is, after all, that “we’ll be okay”). Possibly my favourite thing about this album is the vocal layering and harmonising (it’s everywhere, but check out the superb endings for both ‘Running in Place’ and ‘Not Today, Old Friend’). I’ve been jamming to it almost non-stop since it was released, and I’ll still be rocking out to Eat Defeat in 2019.

1. How to Socialise and Make Friends by Camp Cope

Damn, Camp Cope. I just completely fell in love with this band this year, and I’m definitely not the only one. This Australian three-piece seems to have had an amazing year touring on a phenomenal sophomore album, and I’m so happy for them. With Georgia Maq’s soaring vocals and searing lyrics, and Kelly-Dawn essentially playing lead bass, they’re a band with a unique setup and a distinctive sound. The internet was all abuzz about this album and I really wondered if there was any way it could live up to the hype, but from the first few delectable bass notes on ‘The Opener’ I was totally hooked. Songs like ‘The Face of God’ and ‘I’ve Got You’ are incredibly moving and powerful, and no matter how many times I listen to this record it still gives me all of the feels. ‘The Face of God’ in particular seems timely – speaking to all of the issues raised this year by #MeToo, #TimesUp, and even #MakingSpacesSafer. As I wrote in my review for this album, these songs are personal and hard-hitting, gaining their intensity from the band members’ own personal experiences, and I just can’t imagine ever tiring of listening to them.

Honourable mentions: Old Youth by Former Member, Self Care by We Are The Union, Palms by Thrice, Salvation by The Penske File, I Was Broken When You Got Here by Call Me Malcolm, and Is This Thing Cursed? by Alkaline Trio. And, even though it’s not a full-length album, I just have to include a shout out to Red City Radio’s EP Skytigers, which I played to absolute death this year.

This top ten was written by Robyn Pierce.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

News: Polite Riot Festival

Last summer Be Sharp Promotions and Umlaut Records joined forces to create the melodic, shreddy, skate punk extravaganza Polite Riot Festival at the New Cross Inn in South London. The festival, which was headlined by Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream and local legends Apologies, I Have None was a great success. So much so they're bringing it back this year. Taking place between 28th - 30th of June at the New Cross Inn, the line up is already looking huge with the legendary Adolescents and Satanic Surfers already announced to headline the festival. And as an added cherry on top also announced are Chaser, Darko and In Evil Hour. Polite Riot Festival is already shaping up to be a weekend that's not to be missed. Make sure you snap up your tickets from the New Cross Inn website here and be sure to keep up to date with the festival by liking their Facebook page here.

Richard's Top Ten Albums of 2018

10. American Nightmare by American Nightmare

New material from legendary Boston hardcore mob, American Nightmare, was long overdue. Brutal, fast and angry, the self-titled release was a perfect addition to their amazing back catalogue. Perhaps more accessible than earlier releases with the abrasive edges softened, it’s a fantastic example of the genre in 2018.

9. Love Against Capture by Heavy Heart

The French punks Heavy Heart pulled off a fantastic follow up to last year’s Distance. Full of big songs with big choruses it’s a joy from start to finish. Tracks such as Winter Years and Holding On pop and fizz with energy and youthful exuberance, whilst generally speaking it’s also a more mature effort and the development of their songwriting is evident from the get go.

8. For the Sake of the Bit by Elway

The ever impressive Elway proved that quality definitely usurps quantity with 8 perfect gruff punk anthems that continue their melodic and considered development, producing one of the most heartfelt releases of the year.

7. Never Gonna Die by Pennywise

The skate punk legends Pennywise returned with their most essential release since the turn of the millennium. Fast, political, personal, aggressive and most of all a ton of fun, Never Gonna Die dials the clock back on an impressive career to date and asks what’s next for the pioneers?

6. Only Strangers by Only Strangers

Genuinely, I’m gutted that this album by Only Strangers wasn’t picked up by more people. Its near perfect throaty fist-in-the-air anthems have such a broad appeal whilst the melodies instantly draw comparisons to icons such as Iron Chic and Timeshares. Seriously, you need these Stoke-on-Trent boys in your life!

5. LP5000 by Restorations

Philadelphia natives Restorations’ fourth LP is a massive return to form, taking you on a journey through day to day life filled with vivid imagery and angst. Every song tells its own story but collectively it has the ability to transport you to a dystopian not too distant future. Is it a warning? Is it an allegory on these troubled times??? Maybe... what it is however is essential!

4. Cheer by Drug Church

The third album from Albany natives Drug Church ups the ante on past efforts and then some. Creative, visceral, melodic and vitriolic in equal measures, Cheer is not only a welcome return but the pinnacle of their career to date. Tracks such as Foam Pit, Unlicensed Hall Monitor and Tillary are the real standouts in an album of instant classics.

3. Magic Gone by Petal

Petal’s sophomore release is a heart-breaking journey of emo-tinged angst that ultimately triumphs through the most gorgeous lyrical content and emotional musicality. Full of introspection, frailty and an underlying determination, it’s a beautiful journey of an album that you need to immerse yourself in. Everything is just delivered with meticulous precession that by the time you reach the closing track, Stardust, you’ve felt every bump and turn on Kylie Lotz’s emotional rollercoaster ride.

2. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs

This album is a juggernaut of hits from start to finish; it drags you on an emotional journey of miserableness whilst tied together with the most amazing pop sensibilities and lyrical anthems. Schmaltz has rightly propelled Spanish Love Songs into the hearts of many a punk this year and the fervour and passion with which audiences sang along at their debut UK tour suggests this is just the start for the San Franciscans.

1. Desire Paths by Turnspit

Desire Paths by Turnspit is simply the most relevant socio-political album release this year. Whether it’s in response to campaigns such as #MeToo or the heightened awareness that is permeating mainstream culture around gender identity and celebrating diversity, this album is just so perfect in capturing this, the struggles that go with it and the progress we need to make to build a society that works for everyone. My rationale for putting this ahead of any other release this year is quite simply the goosebump test... this album will have hairs you didn’t know you had standing on end and inevitably have your fists-in-the-air. Tracks like Apologies I Have So So Many, Midsentence and Walk Away are destined to fill rooms with hundreds of voices whilst Skin and Invisible could stun a crowd to silence with ease. It’s a combination of perfect social commentary, gorgeous songwriting and fun anthems which mean this is an album that will be on repeat for many years to come.

EPs / singles
5. Wires Crossed by Arms and Hearts
4. Dead Bars / Red Car Burns split
3. Eureka / Esther by The Hold Steady
2. Good Friends Bad Luck by The Run Up
1. Out There by Timeshares

This top ten was written by Richard Mair.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Dan's Top Ten Albums of 2018

Last year I said something along the lines of “It has been such a bumper year for incredible new music from new bands, established acts and barn burning comebacks that I would hesitantly say it’s been the best in recent history”.

2018 saw this incredible year of music and – as the kids say – said “hold my beer” and proceeded to throw at us a tidal wave of exceptional music from start to finish. There haven’t been lulls in the awesomeness, it’s been such a constant stream of stand out blinding albums that I was having to change and chop this list right up until the pointing of typing this sentence out. It’s been so harrowing trying to select just ten albums that I’m genuinely sad about some of the records this year I’ve had to leave out. But ten is the rules and ten is what you will get, so without further ado here we go:

10. Crooked Shadows by Dashboard Confessional

The very first time I wrote for CPRW was for a band member top ten. In that top ten I talked about how much I loved Dashboard Confessional. Of all the many, many nostalgia trips I’ve been on with bands having long lay offs only to comeback with a return to form album, this one is the most nostalgic of the lot and it holds a special place in my heart.
Favourite song: About Us

9. Never Gonna Die by Pennywise

Pennywise, true to the name of their new album, seem like they really won't ever die. Never Gonna Die is vintage PW with all of the grit and sneer you’ve come to love from the band but with care and attention paid to making an excellent sounding record. This is something that kicks ass from start to finish.
Favourite song: American Lies

8. Sacrament of Sin by Powerwolf

This year I stopped listening to so many Pokémon albums and instead shifted focus to the logical next step which is a concept band that only sing about the fact the members are all werewolves from the middle ages conscripted by the church to fight in the crusades against the forces of Satan. Powerwolf have never done anything different with their sound but if operatic power metal is your jam then 2018’s Sacrament of Sin is a great addition to an already stellar set of albums.
Favourite song: Fire And Forgive

7. Part Of The Game by Fullcount

Part Of The Game is one of my real surprise hits of the year. Fullcount were one of those bands that I didn’t dislike but when you already have 300 super fast bands in your collection then some tend to fall through the cracks. Then all of a sudden this comes along and it’s now my melodic hardcore pick of the year. All the MH bands find their way to me and whilst there have been some other superb offerings this really is the greatest of all of those I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year.
Favourite song: Selfinfection

6. Ill by A Crowd Of Rebellion

Man, I am really into Japanese metalcore right now. If I was basing this list purely off the band I’ve listened to most this year then Ill by A Crowd Of Rebellion would be number 1. I love everything about their sound and Ill is the best of everything they’ve created to date. If you want your brutal metal to take regular swings into J-Pop then this is 100% the album for you.
Favourite song: Sign

5. Persona Non Grata by Authority Zero

An extremely late addition to this list, and responsible for me having to totally rework the thing for the umpteenth time this year, Authority Zero were a band I wasn’t expecting to add to an end of year list after having them on last year’s. Persona Non Grata is another outstanding record from a band at the very top of the punk world right now. Treat yourself this xmas and make sure this finds its way onto your playlists.
Favourite song: The Bright Side

4. Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard by Popes Of Chillitown

Looking back into the past, I think future punk scene historians (I’m imagining an aging C-Rage) will say that 2018 was the year ska punk became huge again and I’d say it’s in large parts thanks to stellar records like Work Hard, Play Hard, Take It To The Graveyard by Popes Of Chillitown. I love this album – with a heavier bass than anything recorded by the Popes before and a perfect blend of crunching guitar riffs, smooth dub and dancehall vocals. This is one for the ages.
Favourite song: Prang

3. I Was Broken When You Got Here by Call Me Malcolm

What can I say about Call Me Malcolm??? The band have had the greatest year this year. I remember standing in the sold out crowd screaming every word of this album back at the astounded band at the album launch party. This is a beautiful, honest and infinitely relatable album that strikes a chord with literally everyone that listens to it. I hate to use words like masterpiece for fear of it coming off as hyperbole but there’s not much else I can use to describe this album.
Favourite song: Show Me What You Got

2. Back From Hell by Satanic Surfers

Satanic Surfers were one of my big three bands when I was growing up. I held these guys above pretty much everything unless there was a Herrera or a Roe in your band. I was actually extremely nervous about this album dropping. I wasn’t sure whether they’d take a more theatrical Atlas Losing Grip style turn when they returned or really what having so much time away would do to a band I loved more than I loved myself. Thankfully, Back From Hell is the absolute greatest thing ever created by Satanic Surfers and could quite possibly be their finest moment! The album is blisteringly fast, technical all over the place and just fun as all hell. It makes me incredibly happy to hear a band I already consider legendary still improving and pumping out such quality music.
Favourite song: Tribute

1. MxPx by MxPx

I mean I don’t know what to say about this album other than it makes me the most happy I’ve been in 20 years listening to music. My love affair with MxPx has been a 20 year ongoing thing and whilst I very much enjoyed the two previous albums, they were darker in tone than anything that came before and showed a band falling out of love with the lifestyle. Six years after the last one, we’ve been treated to what can be considered the first true blue MxPx album since The Ever Passing Moment. An album full of joy and love and positivity. Something born from the love of the life rather than a contractual obligation. You can hear the excitement and enthusiasm from the very first bass note to the end of the record. A kickstarted album means no outside interference and total creative freedom throughout and it shows with an album full of mature but optimistic classics that have stuck with me constantly from the moment I heard the first single. This album has been played so much that even my daughter can sing the whole thing cover to cover!! All music, old or new, now has to contend with the question “Would I rather be listening to the MxPx self titled album?” and let me tell you not a lot has won through yet.
Favourite song: 20-20 Hindsight

This top ten was written by Dan Peters.