Thursday, 31 January 2019

Gig Review: ALD Life Fundraiser at New Cross Inn, London 25/01/19

On Friday the 25th of January, French promoters May Bee Massive took over the New Cross Inn in South London for an eclectic night of punk rock in aid of the ALD Life charity. Check out more on the charity here. A five band line-up featuring skate, ska, acoustic, folk and pop punk was ready to take to the stage for what proved to be a very entertaining night.

First up, kind of surprisingly, were London's Our Lives In Cinema. The five piece were playing their first show with a new drummer and decided to go on first to lower the pressure. OLIC absolutely smashed their set! If you were unaware of the line-up change you would have been none the wiser as they tore through songs from both of their superb EPs. Lead singer Mark Bartlett is always a joy to watch on stage as he lets the music take control of him and displays one of the best voices in the London DIY punk scene. We were also very impressed with the band's new (since the last time we saw OLIC) bass player. He had a great stage presence and did a great job contributing to the harmonies. We love Our Lives In Cinema – if you're yet to check them out then I seriously suggest you do so soon.

Up next were a very new band on the block, playing what I think was only their third ever gig, however if you're a regular at New Cross Inn gigs then you've probably seen these guys around. Bald Head And The Dreads describe themselves as "crowdbois who want to be stagebois" and as "attempted ska punk/Paul Smith-core." Whatever they are, they put on a fun show with songs about Be Sharp Promotions, when your drug dealer is late and quitting your job/getting a dog. The latter sounds like a great idea to me! There was a fun moment during the Be Sharp Bop where another of the bands playing, Boom Boom Racoon, and some of their pals sat in a line on the floor and started crowd surfing each other from front to back. Something I've never seen before. This was actually a really fun set and had me wondering why these chaps have never started a band together before. I'm looking forward to seeing them again on 24th February at NXI for a benefit for Mind. Check the event here.

Up next was acoustic singer-songwriter Doozer McDooze. This set was a revelation. I was kind of curious as to how an acoustic artist would fare after a couple of rousing full band sets but Mr McDooze is clearly a seasoned performer and had the New Cross crowd in the palm of his hand immediately. Armed with a bunch of rousing songs tackling subjects such as politics, living life to the fullest and not liking the internet, I don't think there was a soul in NXI who didn't love this set. The set was full of sing-alongs, synchronised dancing, a sit down and, at one point, a mosh pit. He mentioned during his set that he doesn't often get a chance to play with London punk bands, hopefully he gets to play with more again soon. Doozer McDooze was great fun!

The penultimate act of the night were Bristol's Boom Boom Racoon. We'd previously had the chance to see Boom Boom Racoon back at Level Up Festival last year and were looking forward to seeing their unique take on acoustic ska folk music again. Back at Level Up they performed as a three piece with Ivo on acoustic bass, Sarah on acoustic guitar and Rosie on trumpet but tonight the line-up included a spoon player, who I didn't catch the name of, and a special appearance from former And The Wasters accordion player, who would be playing clarinet on a couple of songs. At the start of the set, Ivo announced the set's running order would be decided by using a paper fortune teller – you know, one of those paper things that you fold up fancy and spell out the options until you get the song. What a set this was! Playing with an infectious energy, you couldn't help but be mesmerised by what was happening on the stage. Boom Boom Racoon are a lively bunch, clearly having a lot of fun on stage, this quickly transferred into the crowd who responded with some enthusiastic dancing. Playing songs from their debut album, Now That's What I Call Boom Volume 1, they were so loved. The obvious highlight was their re-working of the Vengaboys classic Boom Boom Boom Boom but the whole set was just lovely.

Last up were Dubai's Fat Randall. Unfortunately the night was overrunning so we only got to see five of Fat Randall's songs before having to leave to catch the train home. I have to say that I was really impressed with Fat Randall's fast pop punk style however. They played fast and catchy songs that had me thinking of the 90s and really wishing I'd given the band a proper listen so I could have a sing-along. Hopefully these three chaps find themselves back in London again soon!

This was one of those nights where I didn't really know what to expect but ended up having a lot of fun. Sometimes you need to take a chance of these types of shows. You'll probably end up leaving with a smile on your face!

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

Top Tens: Question The Mark's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Descendents / ALL

I think it's probably expected to see these guys on a Punk Rock Top Ten List but I was torn between these or the Ramones and I only had one choice left. We've listened to Milo Goes to College a few times recently while in the van – it never gets old, a true classic. (Tim)

The punk rock gateway drug of some of ours and many others youth. Everyone likes a bit of classic NOFX, don't they? (Lewis / Tim)

The Bouncing Souls
Anthems for days, always play a blinder live. I remember seeing them play TJ's in Newport, that was a special time. That place influenced a few of us growing up just as much as the bands did. It was the place where most of the touring punk bands would play when they came through Wales. We miss it. (Lewis / Tim)

A Wilhelm Scream
A constant on my playlists since the early 2000s. Effortlessly technical, but never at the cost of class songwriting or lyrical wit. Pure carnage live and lovely dudes to boot. (Rob)

Idle Will Kill was the first punk rock album which really spoke to me. I will never get through the whole damn thing without singing along. They were fast and smart and cynical and didn't just write what people wanted to hear. (Rob)

Senseless Things
Morgan Nicholls is a phenomenal bassist and Mark Keds is a genius songwriter. They showed what can be achieved through hard work and a strong DIY ethic. Whilst they have all gone on to play in other bands over the years, the Senseless Things are still something special, as they showed at their two reunion shows last year. I was able to get to their London show and was blown away. I had seen them many times in my youth and I was so glad I could jump around like a loon and sing along with all the pop kids one more time. (Rich)

If I had enough money, I'd spend my days spam posting Tiltwheel records through strangers’ letterboxes. (Tim)

I first heard them when a friend suggested I go check them out when they played at Le Pub in Newport and I've loved them ever since. No Matter Where We go was always on in the van when we first started out and quite rightfully so – it's a belter. (Tim)

Hot Water Music
We've been compared to them quite a bit in the past which is no surprise as they've been on heavy rotation across multiple audio devices of mine for a few years and were definitely a mutual influence of the band’s first line up. The album "No Division" is one of my all time favourite records. (Tim)

The Take
Whilst we were putting this Top Ten together it occured to me that we have a lot of US influences and being a Welsh band I thought we should include the one Welsh band that both myself and Tim would agree stands out above all others – and we’ve had a lot of bands come out of Wales over the years.
To me, The Take’s debut album ‘Propeller’ (on Household Name – find it and check it out) is a masterpiece. The songwriting and musicianship is top drawer and having put the guys on many times, and seen them play pretty much since their inception as Fishtake back in the late ’90s, they are hands down still my favourite Welsh band. (Rich)

Stream and download Question The Mark's music here and like them here.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Album Review: Straight Outta Luck by Alex The Kid

Alex The Kid are a five piece punk band from the West coast of Australia. I've been aware of them since I wrote a post looking into the Australian punk rock scene and they were one of the standouts from a very good group of bands. Back in November they released a brand new EP named Straight Outta Luck on Pee Records. Featuring four new tracks, I was excited to hear what this band influenced by bands such as Iron Chic, Lifetime and Jawbreaker have been getting up to.

The EP begins with its title track, Straight Outta Luck. Wasting no time in getting started we are almost instantly greeted by lead singer James Matthews' gruff vocal as he belts out the opening lines of this melodic punk rock song. Straight Outta Luck is a song about coming to a crossroads in your life and wondering what is the best thing to do. This is hugely relatable to most punk rockers who get to a certain point and have a big think about what they are doing with their lives. Up next is When This Baby Hits 88. This song is played with a lot more intensity than the previous song and really launches the EP into life. I really liked how Alex The Kid somehow managed to combine gruff punk vocals with a skate punk style perfectly. I feel like this band will please fans of both genres of punk. The tempo at which it is played gives the song a huge amount of energy and will evoke a very passionate response from the listener.

One Day When You Hear This is the title of the third song on Straight Outta Luck. This is the biggest sing-along on the EP. As soon as Matthews began to sing I felt myself compelled to join him with my fist high in the air. The chorus in particular is insanely catchy, especially the line "do you wanna? do you wanna see me go? just say the words and I'll make it so, do you wanna? do you wanna drag me down? I try to swim but I always drown." I loved the ending of the song, first some massive gang vocals that are then joined with a harmony that sounds just incredible. The EP is finished with Nothing New. The opening verse brings a great urgency to the song but as the chorus hits the song oozes with melody and you're hooked. The song is about another failed relationship and Matthews sings about being a part of an uneven partnership. The track allows the rest of the band to show off their musical abilities with one guitar solo really standing out. Nothing New is a fine song.

Straight Outta Luck is a very fine EP. Alex The Kid still stand out in the Australian scene and I hope that more people in the UK become aware of them so they can make the trip over here at some point. Maybe bringing Nerdlinger and Flangipanis with them, that would be sweet.

Stream and download Straight Outta Luck here:

Like Alex The Kid here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Album Review: Where The Buses Don't Come by The Bare Minimum

It's rare for me to review hardcore punk. It's one of those genres I always enjoy live but don't actually listen to that much. Because of this I'm always pretty apprehensive about reviewing hardcore releases and making sure I do them justice but I really enjoyed Where The Buses Don't Come by Canadian band The Bare Minimum, so just had to give it a go. Where The Buses Don't Come was released in November 2018 and features seven tracks in a blistering thirteen minutes, as you would expect from a hardcore release.

The album begins with a song named Safe Bet that isn't even a minute long. It's a relentless fifty-eight seconds in which The Bare Minimum play a song about the monotony of everyday life. The song is a whirlwind of fury that will have a lot of people really relating to the track's subject matter. I really enjoyed the intro on the next song, Outdoor Cat. The combination of the short but memorable guitar riff and some rapid fire drum rolls fill the song with this fierce energy immediately. From there we are treated to a track that looks at life in the big city and how it's all that it's made up to be. After a super fast start, the song soon progresses into more of a slower paced almost reggae style that did take me by surprise. The song is finished in the same way that it began with that beaut of guitar riff and those rapid fire drum rolls. The third rack, Hollow Animals, feels more like a metal track than a hardcore one. Simplicity is the key – it doesn't over complicate itself and that's what really drew me in. It allows the listener time to breathe while the band are still able to get their message across. In this instance, the band are singing about how living life in a self centred way will not make you feel whole and how you can be dropped by someone just as quickly as they pick you up. Trainwreck sees The Bare Minimum pick things back up with what is probably my favourite song on the album. The vocal is at its harshest and this really adds some extra emotion to the song. It's about your life being an absolute mess and feeling like you're right at the bottom of society. Lyrically it's pretty hard hitting, the opening two lines for example are "sex, drugs and nothing else, you were looting, I was rotting on the shelf".

The fifth song on the album is titled Safety Pin. This track sees The Bare Minimum go back to more of a metal sound and really allows the band to show off some incredible skill with their instruments, particularly on guitar. There's some mad good guitar parts on Safety Pin. I'm also so impressed with the vocal display on the track, they soar and add a great amount of character to the song. The penultimate song on Where The Buses Don't Come is named Broad Daylight. The beginning of the song sees The Bare Minimum again showcasing what great musicians they are, with the guitars really ripping. The vocals are punchy and are brilliantly interlaced with the music. Broad Daylight is about falling down the wrong path, heading towards a life of serious crime and wasting your life because of it. The chorus is brilliantly catchy. Repeating "you line 'em up, I'll shoot 'em down" over and over again. The final song is the almost three minute long Punk Rock Is A Pyramid Scheme. On this track The Bare Minimum go all hair metal on us. It's a more methodical song that goes along with a whole lot of thunder. The song feels like a big middle finger to a potential punk rock hierarchy with The Bare Minimum suggesting that all bands in the scene should all be treated on the same level. Can't say that I disagree with this. This is a big way to finish the album.

This is one of the most interesting hardcore albums I've heard in a while, especially as it shows a lot more variety than you would expect from an album in the genre. I love that The Bare Minimum aren't afraid to do things a little different and that's a big reason I enjoyed Where The Buses Don't Come.

Stream and download Where The Buses Don't Come here:

Like The Bare Minimum here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Album Review: Hope This Ends Well by Feeble

Here's a review for an album I am really late to the party with. Hope This Ends Well by Feeble was released back in June of 2018 but I only discovered it on Bandcamp this month. Feeble are a four piece kind of pop punk band from Honolulu, Hawaii, who have been putting out music regularly since January 2017. Normally I have a rule about reviewing albums that came out so long ago but I enjoyed Hope This Ends Well so much I just have to! Plus it's an opportunity to feature a band from Hawaii, we've never done that on CPRW before.

Hope This Ends Well begins with the song Jules. Starting out with some jangly indie punk guitars, it quickly feels upbeat and even chirpy. Quite a surprising way for the album to start considering it was described as being by four "kinda bummed dudes". It is a positive and upbeat song where lead singer Brent Vida encourages his girl to cheer up and hang out with her friends. The chorus is quite the highlight and I imagine it's a lot of fun to sing back at the band in a live scenario. This is followed by the track Peeling Scabs. It starts with a fairly lengthy intro which sounds a bit distorted. This adds to the overall raw feel of the album and I really dig it. When the vocals do come in there's a real sense of urgency and Feeble immediately have your attention. Vocally this song is so intense, particularly as the song builds it becomes more of a scream than actual singing. It's about coming to the end of a relationship or friendship and realising that there's nothing worth holding on to. The third song on the album is called Jobs. Jobs is one of the real stand out tracks on the album, tackling the subject of being stuck in a job you dislike and realising that you're wasting your life away. This is quite a bleak subject but musically Feeble sound as if they're having a bit of a celebration. Perhaps the song is quite cathartic for them, like I imagine it would be to a lot of the listeners. Much like Peeling Scabs before it, there's a reasonably length intro before the party really gets started. This seems to be a technique that Feeble like to use.

On Labon it seems as if Feeble are at their lowest. Gone is the cathartic upbeat nature from earlier in the album, there's a real feeling of glumness throughout the song. Even at the highest points of the song, it just feels really sad. The lyric "make me better, as if I mattered at all" is the one that really stands out and it just breaks you. The fifth track, Ms Mullins, She's The Man, is the song that first caught my attention when I discovered Feeble. On this one Feeble spend no time on the introduction and Vida launches himself into the opening lyrics of "I wanna bring you flowers when you're not okay". From then on I found myself completely hooked on the song and quickly found myself wanting to sing-along. Luckily the song is written in such a way it doesn't take much time at all to pick the song up with its simple structure and catchy lyrics. Reverting back to the sad song/upbeat sound formula, it's another song that is brilliantly cathartic. It tells the story of rejection from someone you have some strong feelings for – we've all been there. I loved the clash of styles with the raw vocals and the pop style instrumentation on the song. The styles contrast but also give the song that special feeling. Grampa is another big favourite on Hope This Ends Well. It begins with just Vida's bass and his vocals. This style again quickly has me yearning to sing-along. It doesn't take long for the rest of the band, Caleb Corpuz and Caleb Limbaga on guitars and Ethan Limbaga on drums, to join in to create a near perfect pop punk track. It seems to go at a faster pace than anything else so far on Hope This Ends Well and it's so easy to get swept away with the song. It's a track about trying to get on with your life despite the grief you're suffering due to the loss of relative. It's a heartbreaking song when you really get down to the bare bones of the track.

The seventh song on the album is Pencil Fight. Again wasting no time in getting going, there's a chaotic energy in the song with the band seemingly all doing their own thing at times in the song before coming back together for the choruses. It's about breaking up and having a extremely hard time dealing with it. There's a bitterness in the song that everyone feels at the end of a relationship with Vida's raw vocals adding plenty of emotion and anger to the track. The penultimate song on Hope This Ends Well is A.C.P. This track had me thinking of Jeff Rosenstock after my first listen, in that it sounds like a rough around the edges pop song that could seemingly go off in any direction. It's totally rambunctious and I love it for this reason. I really enjoyed the storytelling aspect of the song, with it feeling as if you can picture exactly what's going on in the song. Last up is Four More Beers. This is a slower and more methodical track about using beer to escape all the bad feelings you're having. The song is an emotional one that builds throughout, really pulling tightly on your heart before just breaking you. What a way to finish the album.

Hope This Ends Well shows a new band with a huge upside. On this album Feeble show they can write some great songs that people will relate to and will really grow an emotional attachment to. All nine songs will have you shouting along whilst being in bits. Feeble are a fantastic new band and I hope to see them grow and grow.

Stream and download Hope This Ends Well here:

Like Feeble here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 25 January 2019

CPRW Playlist: January 2019

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

Column: European Festival Preview 2019

Continuing our two part series giving a short preview of the best festivals in the UK and Europe, today we look at some of the great festivals on the mainland – if you fancy going a bit further a field for your punk rock adventures!

Groezrock, 26th–27th April
Groezrock is a long running festival that takes place in Meerhout, Belgium. When you think of European outdoor punk festivals, this is probably the first that comes to mind. And perhaps rightly so, they've been putting on the biggest and best bands in punk rock for years! This year they've arguably got the most impressive headline act of all the festivals in Europe. The legendary Jawbreaker are headlining the first night of the festival. The headliner for the second night is Dropkick Murphys – not too shabby either. Other bands already announced include Millencolin, Comeback Kid, Good Riddance, Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Restorations, Joyce Manor, Teenage Bottlerocket and Marky Ramone with Greg Hetson.

SBÄM Fest, 1st–4th May
Back for it's third year this year is SBÄM Fest which takes place in Alter Schlachthof Wells, Austria. Taking place over three days, if fast sing-along punk rock is your thing then SBÄM Fest is the festival for you! The line up is superb, headlined by Toy Dolls, Good Riddance and The Real McKenzies as well as a great mixture of bands from Europe, the USA and the UK. Bands that stand out on the line up include Teenage Bottlerocket, Get Dead, Rebuke, Chaser, Authority Zero, Useless ID, The Lillingtons, Petrol Girls, Dee Crack, Krang, Snuff, Jaya The Cat and The Human Project.

Obenuse, Fest 4th May
Obenuse Fest is a one day festival that takes place in Zurich, Switzerland, in six different venues and features thirty five different bands. The festival is now in its fifth year and I've no doubt this is its best line up yet, with the likes of The Lillingtons, Spanish Love Songs, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Tim Vantol, The Run Up, Four Lights, Antillectual, Luke Hilly and Pity Party. As a day in Zurich goes, I can't think of a better way to spend it.

El Topo Goes Loco, 17th–18th May
El Topo Goes Loco: Welcome To The Ska Punk Jungle, to give it it's full name, is a DIY festival that takes place in Mol, Belgium. Put together by Jason of El Topo Bookings (who also is a part of the Level Up Festival team) it features bands, free camping, a swimming pool, cheap beers, cocktails and great people. That's reason to attend before even mentioning some of the bands playing. But I kind of need to mention the bands in this preview or it would be a terrible preview, so some of the bands playing are The Filaments, The Junk, From The Tracks, Braindead, Overweight and Wröng.

Bearded Punk Festival, 1st June
Yet another Belgian punk festival happens on the first day of June. Bearded Punk Festival, obviously put together by Bearded Punk Records, is back for its third year and is based in Genk. No bands have been announced yet but in previous years bands such as Straightline, Eat Defeat, For I Am, River Jumpers and F.O.D. have appeared at the festival.

This Is My Fest
Here's a line up that has me very excited, mostly for one band. Wank For Peace are back to play This Is My Fest in Paris! This is the seventh edition of the festival which also features P.O. Box, Nightwatchers, Good Friend, The Arteries, Mighty Bombs, The Deadnotes, Jodie Faster, Lone Wolf and Decent Criminal. Wank For Peace are back!

Booze Cruise, 7th–10th June
Booze Cruise Festival is back for its fourth year in June. Taking place at Hamburg Harbour, the festival uses multiple spaces around the area as well as a boat for bands to play. Bringing over some of the top bands from the USA alongside the best from Europe and the UK, this is closest you're going to get to The Fest without heading to Gainesville. Bands announced for this year include Chamberlain, War On Women, Ducking Punches, Petrol Girls, Bong Mountain, Überyou, Typesetter and Not Scientists.

Punk Rock Raduno, 11th–14th July
Of all the festivals in Europe that I've discovered over the past few years, Punk Rock Raduno is perhaps the one I most want to go to. This Italian festival, situated in Bergamo, specialises in Ramonescore pop punk – maybe my favourite style of pop punk. Despite only being in its fourth year, the festival has managed to attract the biggest names in the genre including CJ Ramone, The Queers, The Bombpops, Even In Blackouts, 20belows, The Manges, Dr Frank of The Mr T Experience, The Apers, Zatopeks and Chixdiggit. Only four bands have been announced so far but what a collection of bands it is – Dan Vapid & The Cheats, The Creeps, The Copyrights and Kepi Ghoulie. The Copyrights and Kepi will also be joining forces for a set as The Kepirights.

KNRD Fest, 12th–13th July
KNRD Fest in Germany got some rave reviews from everyone I know who attended last year. It's a not-for-profit festival with a goal of supporting the punk rock scene and bringing folk from all over the world together. Taking place in a woods near to Nuremberg, the festival is now in its eighth year. No bands have been announced yet but you can bet that the very best in fast skate punk will appear. Something extra special about KNRD Fest is that it offers a pay what you like scheme for the ticket prices and also offers free camping – that's amazing.

Brakrock Ecofest, 2nd–3rd August
Brakrock Ecofest first came to my attention last year with the most ridiculous line up that included The Vandals, Satanic Surfers, TSOL, Mute, The Lawrence Arms, The Menzingers, Authority Zero, Mad Caddies, This Is A Standoff, Nothington and Useless ID to name just a few. The line up this year is similarly insane with Descendents, Propagandhi, Less Than Jake, The Bennies, Pulley, Cigar, Pears and The Dopamines – plus even more to be announced. Brakrock takes place in the beautiful area of Terelst, Belgium, and uses its surroundings to create the most unique festival experience. Brakrock is a punk rock festival that is all about having a positive mindset with a focus on sustainability in all its facets.

Punk Rock Holiday, 6th–8th August
Punk Rock Holiday has become THE European punk festival to attend over the years. Not only attracting the best bands on the planet, its setting is absolutely stunning. Taking place in Tomlin, Slovenia, in a beautiful forest area complete with a beach on the side of a lake, there is no other punk festival like this in the world. Now in its ninth year, the festival is more popular than ever. Showcasing some of the biggest bands in the world along with some of the emerging talent from Europe, Punk Rock Holiday is definitely a bucket list festival. Among the bands playing this year are NOFX, Less Than Jake, Sick Of It All, Ignite, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Bennies, Masked Intruder, Pears, Hit The Switch, The Dopamines, as well as CPRW favourites Call Me Malcolm and Goodbye Blue Monday.

It's looking like a massive summer of punk rock for all you festival goers. Europe has been spoilt with all these great weekends lined up. Click that you're interested in all of the events to keep fully update with all the future announcements.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Top Tens: Moonraker's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Here’s our list of ten influences. I left out obvious stuff like Bad Religion, Lagwagon and the 90s/early 00s Fat/Epitaph catalogues, and more abstract stuff like jealousy and inadequacy, but make no mistake, those are all HUGE influences on everything we do. But, without further ado, here’s our list:

1. Alkaline Trio
What can I say about the Alkaline Trio that hasn’t been said? For my money, with Skiba’s ability to craft a perfect metaphor and turn it into melodic perfection while Dan lays down beautiful harmonies and Derek completely kills it on the drums and high notes, hardly anything can come close to fucking with it.

2. The Lawrence Arms
Matt Skiba may be the gold standard for metaphors, but the way Brendan Kelly takes snippets from every aspect of pop culture and weaves them together to explain the personal struggles that he (and all of us) are going through is a HUGE influence on everything we’re trying to do over here.

3. Futurama
I talk about it all of the time, but I compare the way I love a band like NOFX to the way I love The Simpsons: extended back catalogues, that are still active today, that as a child/teenager everyone relates to heavily, and despite being weighed down by years and years of whatever, it’s hard to compare anything to their golden early-middle outputs. That being said, Futurama (and, for a band example, The Lawrence Arms) is perfect from the jump and is a contained entity that is perfect throughout its entirety that as an adult, I find myself relating to so much more than any other TV show (or band). It’s a show that will make you laugh, cry, think, smile – whatever you want, it’s got. We’ve incorporated everything from song titles and sound clips (“War Were Declared”, “Forget the Park”) to references in lyrics, to band bios, etc. from this show.

4. Comic Books
Perhaps the backbone on which our band is built is Nick and mine’s love of comic books. When I first met Nick, we bonded over the fact that we were both really into comics. It’s sort of defined who we are and the way we think about everything. Our new record “Lanterns” would not exist without the Geoff Johns run on Green Lantern (from like Green Lantern: Rebirth through Blackest Night), our EP “String Theory”’s cover art is inspired by the DC character The Question, an old EP of ours is called “New Ways to Die” which is the name of an arc from The Amazing Spider-Man from like 2008 (even though I don’t really consider that EP canon anymore [even me considering things canon and non-canon is comic-inspired]), our song “Post-Crisis Origins” is inspired by the fact that certain things became non-canon after Crisis on Infinite Earths and how our band sort of had a soft reboot around the release of that song. There’s more examples, but you get the idea.

5. Jeff Rosenstock and Ryan Young
Not in the sense that Bomb the Music Industry/Jeff’s solo stuff and Off With Their Heads are huge influences on us (even though they totally are and I LOVE those bands), I’m talking about how the two of them as people are huge influences on us. At our inception, our band was a lot different. We had different guitarists, different lead singers, a different vibe. But when we were trying to, for like the fourth time in a couple years, find someone to join our band and play guitar, we hit a wall. Some people who lived in town were like, “I can play local shows, but I can’t tour” and people we had met on tour were like, “I can tour, but I wouldn’t be able to do stuff where you live.” So the way that a band like Off With Their Heads or Bomb the Music Industry (especially in their early years) is set up with Ryan or Jeff and then a rotating cast of different people really helped us shift into the band we are today with a guy who plays bass, a guy who plays drums and some other people we trust from different places. I mean, it was either that or wait and do nothing ’til we found someone who wanted to do it full-time (which we still haven’t and it’s been like 5 years at this point).

6. Bojack Horseman
Nothing had a bigger impact on the writing of our first album, “Fail Better”, than the first season of Bojack Horseman. Maybe it had a lot to do with where I was at in my life when I saw it, but I watched that first season front to back like 10 times when it came out. The only thing I wanted to do was put out an album that could maybe make people feel the way I felt when I watched that show. The desperation, the heartbreak, the word-play. It quickly became and still is my favorite show of all time. Our songs “Sandpaper Skin”, “X-Rays” and “No, I Think YOU’RE the Tar Pit” are all directly influenced by it, but the entire album’s vibe was crafted around it.

7. The song “The New Style” by The Beastie Boys
This song is just so cool. The entire vibe of it is just insanely cool. Front to back, just the sarcasm and confident boastfulness of stuff that’s not worth boasting about is incredible. The way that MCA comes in talking about being tough and hard and then Ad Rock comes in to echo his statement and hype him up but he’s doing it in a Jerry Louis voice, the way that most rappers are bragging about drinking champagne and The Beastie Boys are bragging about drinking Budweiser and eating White Castle with just as much pride in their voice as the guys bragging about actual cool stuff. It’s the way that they’re kind of not cool, but so stoked about it that makes them the coolest mother fuckers ever. To this day one of the coolest things we’ve ever done is sit in Nick’s truck eating White Castle while blasting this song.

8. The scene from “Wet Hot American Summer” where Ken Marino crashes his van
It’s just so fucking funny! His eyes aren’t even closed when he’s singing and then when he starts swerving, the exterior shot of the van is just driving straight! And that tree is like RIGHT in front of him. We watched the clip of it like 100 times one tour and every time there would be ANY kind of traffic or something on the road, whichever one of us was driving screamed, “OH FUCK!” Like he does and started swerving the wheel and all of us always lost our shit laughing. It hasn’t really influenced any songs or anything, but there was no way it wasn’t making the list.

9. Ben Folds Five
This is the one that always surprises people, but we fucking LOVE the Ben Folds Five. They’re a HUGE influence. The way that Ben Folds, Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee are just insanely talented musicians but downplay it so much, and that they’re just hilarious! Ben Folds had a guest arc on “You’re the Worst” (an amazing TV show, by the way) a couple years ago and he was so goddamn good on it. The freaking band name is the Ben Folds FIVE and there’s only THREE of them. They’re just awesome and write great songs. And how good was that come back album?!

10. The films of Mike Birbiglia
We’ve always been huge fans of Mike Birbiglia’s stand-up and it’s always cool when he pops up in things as an actor, but the two movies he wrote, directed and starred in are some of the most brutally relatable things I can think of off the top of my head. “Sleepwalk With Me” is an emotional gut punch about long-term relationships and touring. I’ve watched “Don’t Think Twice” a bunch of times and I don’t think I’ve ever made it through without crying. There’s a scene where Keegan Michael Key is tweeting to promote his improv show that night while he’s at work and says something like, “Sup everyone! Just out here delivering food. Fuck my life!” Chris Gethard has a line about how he’s fine working his stupid day job as long as he has improv because it makes him feel like he has a secret identity. Gillian Jacob’s line towards the end about feeling trapped in a well but being okay with it shaped our record “Lanterns”. I can not recommend these movies enough.

You should like Moonraker here and check out their music, including their newest album Lanterns which is incredible here.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Album Review: Wherever That Is by Panhandler (by Emma Prew)

Panhandler are a four-piece punk band from Stockholm, Sweden. In December they released a new album titled Wherever That Is on Trash Crusader Records (Sweden) and Whisk & Key Records (Australia). It was through the Australian label that we first heard of Panhandler. Intrigued by why this Swedish band was on an Australian label, I had little listen on Bandcamp and instantly took a liking to what I heard.

The album opens with its title track, Wherever That Is. A blast of energetic guitars and pounding drums instantly lures the listener in. It’s in a similar vein to bands such as Iron Chic and is definitely a style I love. The use of two vocalists is great – Shifty taking the first verse with a slightly rougher vocal and Frieda taking the second with a warmer, perhaps more polished vocal, before both joining together for the chorus. These vocals remind me a bit of RVIVR which is no bad thing. Wherever That Is is about knowing that someone is with you in your head and your heart, despite not knowing when you’ll actually see them again. Don’t Get Out Much is the second song of Wherever That Is. This is a fast paced and shorter tune which packs in plenty of melody. It has a sort of care-free indie punk feel at the beginning but this develops into a screamier fists-in-the-air punk rock banger. At points, the song reminds me of early Menzingers which is never a bad thing. Don’t Get Out Much is about dealing with the anxieties that come with everyday life including, but not limited to, leaving the house. A big guitar solo outro with the closing line ‘Isn’t that just what you wanted?’ finishes the song in style.

Musical styles are switched up further for the third track, Heroes. This is a rousing tune that feels almost folk or country-like. The best likeness I can think of is Dropkick Murphys, but without the inclusion of any typical folk instruments. Heroes is a heartfelt anthem for those unsung heroes in our lives. The song is a slow one for half of its duration before the pace and intensity picks up for the second half, returning to a more typical punk style. Vem Är Du Utan Pengar? (which translates as Who Are You Without Money?) is next up. Opening with crashing drums followed by fast, raspy and raw vocals, it all feels a bit angry but I mean that in the best way. It’s quite the contrast from the folk vibes of Heroes but I appreciate variety like this in an album. Vem Är Du Utan Pengar? feels like one big singalong with the chorus in particular being so cathartic – ‘So you look away to alleviate the guilt, So you don’t have to break up, A little piece of your heart.’ This song feels like the perfect release from the pressures of working your life away everyday.

Bad Daze will get your head nodding along in no time with its speedy guitar-based introduction. The mid-tempo verses where the instruments take more of a backseat allow the listener to fully take in the vocals. Panhandler seem to be quite the storytellers and this is particularly apparent on Bad Daze. The song is about having a bad day, or week, or month… but battling against giving up or giving in to negative feelings as best as humanly possible. Towards the middle of the track everything slows down and there’s a sort of interlude within the song. It’s not something you hear very often so it really grabbed my attention. As did the line ‘I just need to be a little more horizontal for a while.’ – I get you completely, Panhandler. Bitter vocals from Shifty kicks things off before anything else with Pacify Me‘I wanna be distracted…’. This is the first time we’ve heard the vocals take centre stage from the outset and it is something that hooked me immediately with the song. Slow verses compliment a bigger sounding chorus – ‘Pacify me, pacify me, pacify me, pacify me, Until it’s, until it’s gone.’ – and there’s a great sense of building between these, as well as contrasting instrumental sections and vocal parts. A highlight of the album for sure.

More of those huge-sounding, melodic guitars that we’ve come to expect from Panhandler lead us into the seventh song of Wherever That Is, Church. There’s an exchange of sorts between the quieter, mid-tempo vocals of the verses and fast and furious guitars parts on display here. Lyrically, the song is more than a bit self-deprecating but it is also strikingly honest. The line that really stood out to me is ‘I’ll let you down, Just like I used to.’ I’m getting more of The Menzingers-feel here or perhaps Spanish Love Songs. Parasites is the name of the next song which kicks off with some wonderfully warm guitars and a subtly fuzzy bassline. The track is about feeling frustrated and angry but trying to channel those feelings into something more worthwhile. I think the overall message is a positive one and the way in which it’s delivered is certainly effective. The upbeat chorus just might win the award for being most singalongable of the album – at least it would, if I could figure out each exact word.

The penultimate song of the album is titled Ache. It’s a slow burner that allows the listener to take a bit of a breather whilst taking in all the bitterness and emotion packed into the song. Ache feels a little alt-country in style which reminds me of punk bands like Timeshares. I initially thought it odd that Panhandler list their genre as being ‘emo country’ on Facebook but I kind of get it with songs like this. The repetition of ‘Someday you’ll ache like I ache.’ that ends the track feels like a huge emotional release for the band. It also leads us perfectly into the final song. I Want To Believe feels like an album closer, not least because with a 4 minute 18 second running time it is the longest track on the album. With a slow start featuring gentle guitar but no drums, this is another Timeshares-esque number with the alt-country vibes staying onboard from the previous song. There is perhaps also a hint of The Hold Steady, musically but not so much vocally. I Want To Believe seems to build as it progresses, the vocals increase in volume and intensity for one last jolt of energy. Towards the end I’m pretty sure there’s some brass alongside some whoa-oh-ohs. What a finale and a triumphant end to an excellent album.

You can stream and download Wherever That Is from Bandcamp (or buy it on vinyl!) and, obviously, you should also like Panhandler on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Album Review: Set Sail by Beat The Smart Kids

Last year I went out of my way to try and discover some underground ska punk bands from America as I felt that my knowledge was severely lacking. I had a lot of success in my search and discovered some really great bands. One of those bands, Chicago's Beat The Smart Kids, put out a brand new EP titled Set Sail towards the end of 2018 and I figured that after spending so much time finding these bands I should give it a listen.

The EP begins with its title track, Set Sail. It starts with some scratchy sounding guitar and some rough vocals, before some trombone hits and the song begins properly. On my first listen of the song I was immediately impressed with how the band implement a few different styles and tempos on the song without the song feeling clunky or clustered. It's also a song that you can pick up very easily and will have you singing along quickly. Set Sail is about doing your own thing and going your own way despite what the naysayers might think. On the second song, It's A Bomb, Beat The Smart Kids show off some diversity with their sound. The song starts with a much heavier tone than on the previous track and has a massive introduction before we get into some high tempo brass that will get everyone skanking. Vocally I'm really reminded of Dave Kirchgessner of legendary ska punks Mustard Plug. That is until Beat The Smart Kids really change things up and we get super skacore, perhaps giving the similarly named UK band Beat The Red Light a run for their money with some fantastic screaming.

Skippin' The Gym starts out quite slowly with more of a bouncy sing-along style about constantly avoiding things that you don't want to do. Soon enough the song picks up some real speed and will quickly get you dancing and getting your cardio before slowing down again to complete the track. I really enjoyed how a song that talks about avoiding exercise will get you doing it. The penultimate song on the EP is named Table For One. Table For One is about living in solitary, not giving up your time for other people and generally being a bit selfish. It sounds like quite a sad way to live and you'd think that musically the song would represent that, but no, this is a ska punk song. The trombone at the beginning of the song in particular put a huge grin on my face and it's another song that you'll be singing along to very quickly. The fifth and final song on the EP is titled Better Than Just Fine. It's a shorter song, at under two minutes in length, and finishes Set Sail off in a real positive way. It's a song about being happy and enjoying your life. The chorus was what really stood out on my first listen with the whole band taking turns to sing about what's making them so gosh darn happy and then combining for a gang vocal shout of "we're doing better than just fine." What a wonderful way to finish this fantastic EP.

If I had spent a little more time with Set Sail before the end of 2018, there's a very good chance that this would have finished up on my end of year list. Yes, it does sound very Mustard Plug but they're one of my favourite bands ever so I'm more than okay with that. I hope Beat The Smart Kids eventually find their way to the UK where they will be very well received.

Stream and download Set Sail here:

Like Beat The Smart Kids here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Gig Review: Jake Jellyfish and Arms & Hearts at waterintobeer, London 17/1/19 (by Emma Prew)

Thursday 17th January marked the first (of many) gig of the year for myself and Colin. It was also specifically the first (also probably of many) South London gigs of 2019 – South London being the home of DIY punk rock, of course. Hosted by Gold Soul Theory Promotions at waterintobeer, a small shop selling all things beer, the all acoustic line-up featured Jake of Jake & The Jellyfish, Arms & Hearts, Tommy Simpson and C-Rage.

Having travelled to and across London from Bedford, we only just about made it to waterintobeer on time to see C-Rage open up the show – arriving during his first song, Fenchurch Street. The venue was already busy with plenty of pals, us included, keen to watch him do his thing. Usually found down the road at the New Cross Inn, there were plenty of the New Cross ‘crowd’ in attendance with a lovely chilled atmosphere for C-Rage’s set. The mixture of self-deprecating and nostalgic acoustic pop punk tunes was warmly received with attentive silence throughout the songs and enthusiastic applause after each. The set included a cover of Mixtapes’ Orange-Yellow and, fan/friend favourite C-Rage original, Soundcheck. We couldn’t have asked for a more lovely start to the evening.

Up next was Tommy Simpson, someone who I am most used to seeing as a part of London-based punk trio The Exhausts. I’m a big fan of the band but hadn’t listened to any of Tommy’s solo stuff before so was interested to hear him play and, with everything being unplugged, I didn’t have to wait long. It turned out Tommy Simpson, who frequently performs at waterintobeer, plays sad indie punk songs that are not too dissimilar to a stripped back Menzingers. Think songs about growing older and wondering what you’re doing with your life – it was his 30th birthday the next day so there was a bit of a theme. The songs were great, as was the banter in between, including introducing us to his best pal Buster, the dog, who happened to be outside the venue. I really enjoyed Tommy’s set and I’ll definitely be checking out his solo EP now.

The second part of the evening featured two musicians from a little further afield, the first of which being Arms & Hearts from Manchester. I saw Arms & Hearts last year for the first time, at Manchester Punk Festival no less, and was thoroughly impressed. Being completely unplugged at waterintobeer however gave this performance a different feel. Steve kept the audience captivated from the very first note with his gruff vocals carrying with ease despite not having a microphone. Arms & Hearts plays a sort of Americana-style acoustic punk, in a similar vein to Dave Hause, and was the only act of the night to bring more than just his acoustic guitar, with the addition of harmonica bringing bluesy Springsteen-esque vibes to the evening. Finishing a great set with the brilliant Fortitude, Steve encouraged the waterintobeer crowd to join him for a little singalong of ‘Home is wherever you happen to be tonight.’ Perfect.

The singalongs didn’t end there as it was time for the last act of the evening – Jake Jellyfish aka Jake from Jake & The Jellyfish, from Leeds. I’ve been a big fan of the folk punk stylings of Jake & The Jellyfish for several years now and have seen the band live multiple times, I had never seen a solo Jellyfish show however so this was going to be quite the treat. Jake’s set was choc-a-block with everyone’s favourite Jellyfish songs – hence the further singalongs – including Tunnel Vision, DIY, Dotted Line, Reading List and Same Old. The stripped back renditions of songs in such an intimate setting made for perhaps an even more emotional connection with the crowd than usual. Full band Jellyfish sets often feature an acoustic last song where Jake, and sometimes other members of the band, join the crowd for a final sing-song. So, to have a whole set of unplugged and much-loved Jellyfish songs just like that really felt special. We all loved it so much in fact that Jake agreed to play a bonus song at the end of his set – 23. A wonderful end to a wonderful evening of acoustic punk.

We probably didn’t really need easing back in to another year of punk rock gigs but it was nice to kick things off with something a little different all the same. Thanks to Gold Soul Theory Promotions and waterintobeer for making a Thursday in January thoroughly more enjoyable than staying home.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (Rubbish photos also by Emma.)

Album Review: Cubs by Cubs

Cubs are a five piece punk band from Newcastle, England. I luckily stumbled across their debut a few days ago and instantly fell in love with this band. In December they released what I believe is their debut self titled EP. It features three tracks of melodic gruff punk rock in a similar vein to Iron Chic, Red City Radio and Bear Trade. Three of my favourite bands so of course I was going to love it.

The EP begins with Curse Of The Colonel. After reading the list of bands I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I'm sure you can imagine what we have here – mid-tempo, hook filled sing-along punk rock. It's not reinventing any wheels but it does give the genre a bit of a shot in the arm. From the outset I had the urge to sing along with the band and there were plenty of opportunities. I loved the harmonies and the gang vocals. The song feels like it moves in stages, from the pounding opening, to the melodic chorus, the breakdown and the build towards its finale. The second of the three songs on the EP is named Bone Float. This shorter song really raises the tempo of the EP. At just under two minutes long, it manages to squeeze a lot in. The simple drum beat really drives the song forward and Cubs’ lead singer shows some good skill in delivering the lyrics clearly despite the speed of the track. You still want to sing along even if you can't keep up. The song’s highlight is obviously the gang vocals at the end of the track, getting everyone involved for the big ending. Last up is Haway Man. This song seems to combine a bit of everything I've enjoyed from the previous two songs on the EP. There's melody, there's tempo, the different stages stand out but also interlace with each other perfectly and, of course, there are more gang vocals and harmonies. Anyone who has been a regular reader of CPRW over the past few years must know how much of a sucker I am for gang vocals and harmonies. From the start of Haway Man I'm filled with a unstoppable energy that keeps me pumped up for the entire song. If a track does this, you know it's a pretty special song.

This is some debut from a band I stumbled upon by dumb luck. I was a very lucky boy to discover them. If you're a fan of gruff punk then Cubs are seriously a band you need to be listening to!

Stream and download Cubs here:

Like Cubs here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Album Review: The Subjunctives by The Subjunctives (by Emma Prew)

The Subjunctives are a three-piece from Seattle, Washington, who play hook-laden pop punk tunes. In true pop punk fashion, their debut (or at least what the band describes as their first ‘real’ recording) self-titled EP, released at the beginning of the year, is 6 tracks in 12 minutes – short and fast. Despite its brevity, I loved this EP by The Subjunctives from my first listen. Here’s why…

Opening the EP with pounding drums, fast paced guitar riffage and soon a steady pop punk bassline, Pass It On wastes no time in getting things going and showcasing what The Subjunctives are all about. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy and those harmonies in the chorus – so good! Pass It On is a feel-good tune about having a great time and trying to pass that feeling on – which certainly works in the form of this song. ‘Pass it on, try to let go.’ Next up is a song called Girl Ghost. The speed is upped a notch for this one as the band tear through a tale of a ‘little girl ghost’ who haunts guitarist and vocalist Ean’s house – at least in the song, perhaps also in real life. ‘Little girl ghost you're the audience of one, Little girl ghost I hope that you like my new song.’ Girl Ghost is short but fun song. It also has its own video to visualise the tale and you can check it out here (the clip at the end of the song makes more sense if you watch the video). Kicking off with a lovely slice of bass, Anastasia is the title of the third song of the EP. As soon as the vocals hit for this sweet, snappy power pop song, I am reminded of a specific band – R.E.M., from their early days. Now I know there are probably plenty of specifically more pop punk comparisons I could make (Hüsker Dü for example, who the band mention themselves) but, for me, that’s what I hear. And besides, I love it either way. Things switch up about halfway through the song and the power pop turns shreddy for a rocking outro. Great stuff!

Having not paid attention to the titles of the songs the first time I hit play on this EP, I instantly took a liking to the fourth track thanks to its opening lines. ‘Some girls like to go to parties others like to be alone, Some girls like to stay up late others like to stay at home.’ By the time the chorus hits and I realise this song is both about [a] and titled Introverted Girl, I’m well and truly sold. Why? Because I’m an introverted girl and this song celebrates introverts like Isabella (the girl in the song) and me. Quit is the longest song of the EP, although it’s still less than 3 minutes in length. It also has less of a pop punk feel to it than some of the other tunes but that’s okay because it’s still great. The highlight of the song has to be its chorus with the combination of two vocalists exchanging lines – plus I love a good nautical metaphor. ‘You’re grasping, you’re flailing, Your ship's left, it’s sailing, The captain is bailing, Now.’ The short, fast pop punk style returns for the final song, Rotate. This is, I think, the first song I’ve ever heard that talks about the rotation of the earth. The Subjunctives use this theme to create their own kind of lively love song. ‘Eight more hours would rotate you back around the world to me.’ Sadly the song is over before you know it, as is the EP, but it’s ever so easy to hit play again.

It’s not often I listen to an album or EP and can instantly think of what I’d write in my review, if I was to review it, but that’s exactly what happened with The Subjunctives. I loved it and I want you to too!

Check out The Subjunctives on Bandcamp and on Facebook now.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Top Tens: H_ngm_n's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

(Chris) – MCS are one of my all time favourite bands. The way Justin Pierre writes really dark lyrics over super catchy pop-punk songs has always been one of those things I've wanted to do. The subject matters of alcoholism and pushing away those closest to you are really honest and bleak, whilst having these big pop hooks and fun energetic songs, create a contrast that I've always been amazed by. I've always wanted to approach my songwriting in a similar way. The drums are insanely good, some of the most creative drumming I've ever heard. And, although I prefer the earlier albums, I don't think I dislike anything they've released. RIP MCS.

(Chris) – "Is A Real Boy" has to be up there in my top ten all time favourite albums. Such a creative masterpiece. I don't think I heard it or got into Say Anything until 2012 – very late to the party – but lyrically I've always aspired to try and write like them. I also love how they don't exactly stick to the conventional song structures and mess around with time signatures, tempos etc. Me and James have always tried to put little bits of "weird" in the songs and I feel like Say Anything have a big part in that. Seeing them at Slam Dunk this year was a dream come true.

(Chris) – I've been a huge Paramore fan from their first album, I remember seeing them in Kerrang Magazine's "Introducing" feature and I was obsessed with them around the time I started playing in bands and writing. Despite all of their line ups and changes in sound, there's not one Paramore album I don't love. Hayley Williams' vocals are incredible and they're just one of those solid bands that I don't think I'll ever get bored of. I've actually done a couple of acoustic Paramore cover sets!

BLINK 182:
(James) – I have always loved Blink. From a drummer's point of view, Travis Barker is truly phenomenal. Ever since Enema of The State, this band went from strength to strength. From a young drummer, Blink have always inspired me to be in a crappy pop punk band and write music about drunk parties and generally being immature. Both Chris and I haven't grown up completely and we will endeavour to continue this trend. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket has to be up there as one of my favourite albums of theirs, closely followed by their self-titled album.

(Chris) – I came across these guys when they were "The Hotel Year" via some blog post years ago – awesome band. Their albums were really refreshing to me and it always seemed like they were trying to go for something a bit different. I saw them in London a year or two ago and their live sound was incredible. I can't deny that they've been a huge influence on H_ngm_n's music, I'd probably say they're one of the biggest influences, especially in our newer stuff.

(Chris) – I gotta include Stereophonics, probably the first band I got into when I was learning guitar. My older sister was a huge fan and I used to steal her CDs when we were kids. I loved the fact they were a three piece, as was my first band, and the way their songs lyrically told a story. "Word Gets Around" has to be up there in my top albums of all time. I was really into learning full guitar chords rather than just power chords and yeah I don't think I'd write songs in the style I do now if it wasn't for Stereophonics! I know James hates them, hahaha.

(James) – I have a always been a huge fan of UnderOath. I'm generally a fan of a lot of hardcore music, but was introduced to them by a friend at school, way back in 2004 with the track Reinventing Your Exit. The cross between singing and screaming really appeals to me. The blend of intricate drum parts, weird time signature parts and heavy hitting is something I try to emulate. I enjoy their open minimalistic middle 8 sections, back into heavy full on choruses. Great for a long drive! I'm not a fan of their latest album, but after having all members changed and Aaron Gillespie leaving, their sound changed dramatically.

(Chris) – Hugely into Taking Back Sunday [2], another one of those bands that despite various line-up changes, I'm a massive fan of every release. I wouldn't be able to choose a favourite album. The whole dual vocals thing was really influential in mine and James' old band and musically they're just bang on. The first time I heard of them was through mates in bands when we were in school who covered "Cute Without The E" and I guess the EMO phase (that I never grew out of) started from there.

(Chris) – Bert McCracken is one of my heroes. Amazing songwriter and vocalist, still to this day absolutely smashing it. Another one of those emo bands discovered in school. "Maybe Memories" and "In Love & Death" are amazing records. If you're not familiar with these two records then you need to get on it. Such a great band.

(Chris) – Not exactly a direct influence on our songs, but Michael Jackson has to be the first music I remember being into as a kid and have always been hugely into pop music since. For someone to have so many great songs is nuts. I remember having some plastic Fisher Price walkman thing as a kid and stealing my mum's MJ tapes from the car. I mean, there were others – David Bowie, David Essex, David Cassidy, all the "David's" in music apparently – but MJ was the one that stuck with me. Cheers mum, I had to listen to something other than The Smurfs album (not hating – that was also sick).

Like H_ngm_n here:

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Album Review: Nightmare On Misery Street by Question The Mark

The beginning of January is basically that time where I catch up with releases that came out late in the year before and didn't have enough time to spend much time with. One such release came from Welsh punks Question The Mark who released a brand new EP on Little Rocket Records. Titled Nightmare On Misery Street, it features three brand new tracks of distinctive gruff punk rock.

Opening with the EP’s title track, I'm instantly reminded of what I loved about Question The Mark when I first heard them a few years ago on the Smoke Signals EP. The vocal is one of the most distinctive in the UK gruff punk scene and it really adds something a little different to the QTM sound. Nightmare On Misery Street starts out quite slowly with Rich's bass and Lewis' drums introducing us into the EP before the vocals comes in and we're off and running. Like all the best gruff punk, it instantly has me wanting to sing-along. The melody does a superb job of drawing you in and helps the song get caught in your head. In one song I'm already remembering just what a superb band Question The Mark are. The second track on the EP is Perk U Later. This song starts with some lovely guitar work that quickly fills the song with a great energy. It has you thinking we're getting another melody filled track, which we do get for a little while before it switches to more of a stabby and to the point style. By the end of the song you'll be shouting "never gonna get it" back at the band as loudly as you possibly can with your fist high in the air – it's that kind of song. The EP finishes with Where There's A Pill, There's A Way. Not bothering with an introduction to the song, the band launch straight into a song about using prescription drugs to help you live your life. I say this so much but I am always so impressed when a band uses their music to discuss mental health. The more people talk about it the better. The song feels much more urgent than the previous two, probably due to the higher tempo and the strained backing vocal adding an excellent harmony.

I loved all three of these songs. Question The Mark have been going for a little while now and seemed like a bit of a well kept secret in the punk scene in the south of the UK. Nightmare On Misery Street could definitely open a few more doors for them around the country and further afield. A great introduction for new fans as well as an impressive return for older fans.

Stream and download by Misery On Nightmare Street here:

Like Question The Mark here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Album Review: Bad Times Don’t Last by Goalkeeper (by Emma Prew)

Goalkeeper are a pop punk trio from Philadelphia/South Jersey who describe themselves as being stuck in the 2000s. After seeing them (and their shark artwork) pop up on my ‘Discover Weekly’ on Spotify, I decided to give their November 2018 EP, Bad Times Don’t Last, a listen.

Sunshine is the first song of Bad Times Don’t Last and after a fade-in intro we are hit with a slice of Blink-182-inspired pop punk – I can certainly hear what they mean about being stuck in the noughties. Despite the obvious comparisons, Sunshine is a super cheery punk song in its own right. The track is an optimistic one about knowing that things will be alright, particularly knowing that you’re waiting for that special someone to come home. I admit that lines like ‘You’re my sunshine on a cloudy day.’ are pretty cheesy but they still make me smile. Pounding drums and crashing guitars open up the next song, Chances. We soon learn that, in contrast to the first, this song isn’t quite so positive in its outlook. Chances is a plea to someone, presumably a former significant other, to take you back – and give you another chance. It’s not all self-deprecating however as towards the end of the song, it turns out that it was probably for the best anyway as life isn’t so bad without them – I do love a plot twist. ‘Today I have some new friends, a good job and a life, I learned to live without you and it's turning out alright. Life’s too short to be looking into the rear view, I’m speeding towards the future whether or not that includes you.

I was quite surprised when the third song, Lately, kicked off with an acoustic guitar. In fact, the whole song is acoustic. The lyrics are still in a pop punk vein but the acoustic nature reminded me of Garrett Dale (of Red City Radio) – except much less gruff. Lately is an honest and nostalgic song, admitting that you do care about someone who was important to you not being in your life anymore. I enjoyed the change of pace and tone that came from an acoustic tune but equally welcomed the volume and intensity that returns for the penultimate song of the EP. Left Lane feels more bitter and rage-driven than the previous songs on offer and I love this side of Goalkeeper. The song reflects on a particular person in your past who you now know wasn’t good for you. The highlight of the track has to be its chorus that would make for an excellent singalong – ‘Don’t be surprised if your life starts falling apart, I tried my best but my guess is you can’t start, I can’t let it bother me.’ Bringing the EP to a close is an additional Blink-style pop punk banger in the form of Nothing At All. Another of the optimistic variety, this is a bouncy and fast paced tune that vows to put you in a good mood. The final refrain really sums it all up – ‘If I fall down I’ll get up again, I’ll make mistakes but I’ll own up to them, If I let go then I’ll be free, Nothing's stopping me, Nothing at all.’

You can stream and download Bad Time Don’t Last on Bandcamp now and find Goalkeeper on Facebook too.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Album Review: Singing Like Nobody Is Listening by Quitters

Quitters are without a doubt one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years. Since stumbling across the incredible Good Night Memories, they've been a band I've recommended to anyone that would listen. In January of last year I was fortunate enough to catch them live twice and was blown away on both occasions. Now it's time for the French four piece to follow up Good Night Memories with their next release – the five track EP, Singing Like Nobody Is Listening. I was so excited to hear this.

Singing Like Nobody Is Listening opens with the song My Own Worst Enemy which featured as a CPRW video of the week a few months ago. If you've not seen it yet check it out here – it's so wholesome. My Own Worst Enemy immediately makes you realise exactly why Quitters gave this EP its title. From the start it's a wonderful, fists-in-the-air, big sing-along kind of time. The track is about realising that you always have a choice and that despite feeling frustrated and angry at the world there are always positives to find. A big highlight of the song for me is the small breakdown that builds to a great, gang vocal finale where the band shouts ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ repeatedly. Up next is Better Off Dead. This is, as you might expect, another big sing-along song and has a whole load of whoa-ohs throughout its duration but it also feel more restrained that My Own Worst Enemy. It doesn't sound as if Quitters really get into top gear on this song but that only adds to the power of it. This is one I'm really wanting to hear live with a room full of people shouting every word back at the band.

Letter To Forgotten Friends sees the tempo get increased and also sees the introduction of more jangly guitar riffs that were used so brilliantly on Good Night Memories. This may make it my favourite song on Singing Like Nobody Is Listening. It combines the best parts of this EP as well as the previous album. Featuring an abundance of gang vocals, the song has that inclusive feel to it that I really love. Another track that I just have to witness live. Letter To Forgotten Friends is about trying to reconnect with old acquaintances and trying to figure out what happened to your friendships. The penultimate song is titled Burn Your House Down. Falling more into the indie punk style rather than being a gruff punk sing-along, Burn Your House Down sees a more restrained Quitters showing off some of their sublime musical ability, particularly the lead guitar part. On this track the band show that they're definitely not one trick ponies and can feature a number of different style in their songwriting. Singing Like Nobody Is Listening finishes with Biting The Dust. I always enjoy when an EP or album's final track sounds like a final track. Whether it puts an exclamation point on the release or ends with an epic flourish, a final song needs to leave an impression. Biting The Dust does this. Combining everything I've loved about the EP into three and a half minutes – big singing moments, wonderful musicianship and a sweet ending that has me thinking of the lengthy outro of The Brighter Shades Of Time from Good Night Memories. I love this little Easter Egg.

This is the first release from 2019 that I've reviewed this year and it already has me thinking it's going to place highly on my end of year list – it's that good! I love Quitters.

Stream and download Singing Like Nobody Is Listening from the 18th of January here:

Like Quitters here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Column: UK Festival Preview 2019

This past week at work I've had to book my holidays for the upcoming year. For me that means, and I imagine a lot of you, working out which festivals I want to go to in the coming year. In the UK and Europe we're so lucky to have so many punk rock festivals available to us. In preperation for writing this column I listed all I could think of and was amazed by just how many there are. This is the first of a two part feature previewing the best punk festivals in the UK and Europe. Today we're going to look at what's going on this year in the UK.

Arrowfest, 22nd–24th March
Our pals at Broken Arrow Magazine are putting on a punk rock weekender towards the end of March. Taking place at Crowley's Bar in Hastings on the south coast, it features a varied line-up of acts from all parts of the punk rock genre. Some of the bands announced for the three day festival include Darko, Call Me Malcolm, Fair Do's, Blind Man Death Stare, Incisions, Aerial Salad, Codename Colin and Misgivings. This weekend looks like a treat.

Washed Out Festival, 12th–13th April
Sticking to the south coast, midway through April Washed Out Festival returns. Taking place in a handful of venues in the vibrant seaside resort of Brighton, Washed Out is a festival that has grown out of the thriving DIY punk community in the town and features some of the most popular bands in the scene as well as some new acts that you're guaranteed to love. Bands to watch out for include Doe, Kamikaze Girls, Triple Sundae, Throwing Stuff, Woahnows, Death By Shotgun, Mean Caesar and The Menstrual Cramps.

Manchester Punk Festival, 19th–21st April
I'm sure you all know about my love of Manchester Punk Festival by now. Back for its fifth year, it's been an absolute pleasure to see this festival grow. This year the festival will be expanding to eight venues and feature more bands than ever before. It is also going to be three full days now so it's going to be a test of endurance – but a test of endurance with so many amazing bands and your punks pals from all over the UK and further afield. MPF now attracts the top bands from all over the world as well as continuing to promote the best home grown talent. Among the bands announced so far are Samiam, Dead To Me, Subhumans, Smoke Or Fire, King Prawn, Tom May, The Bar Stool Preachers, Faintest Idea, The Penske File, Muncie Girls and many, many more.

Booze Cruise Bristol, 24th–26th May
Booze Cruise Festival originated in Hamburg, Germany, and is now expanding to have a weekend in Bristol over the second bank holiday weekend of May. It will take place in a number of venues along the River Avon and, I believe I'm right in thinking, on a boat. Bringing in some top new bands from America and Europe as well as some of the UK's finest, this weekend has the potential to be the festival of the year. Already announced are Tiny Moving Parts, Bong Mountain, The Burnt Tapes, Western Settings, Mobina Galore, Ducking Punches and You Vandal.

Slam Dunk Festival, 25th May (North) & 26th May (South)
Slam Dunk Festival has become a staple of the festival calendar for many fans of alternative music over the past thirteen years. Of course, this being CPRW we're most interested in the punk bands playing the festival and this year the festival organisers have really hit it out of the park. Teaming up with Fat Mike's Punk In Drublic festival this year, punk rock legends NOFX, Bad Religion, Less Than Jake, Lagwagon, Milllencolin, Mad Caddies and Anti-Flag will all be making an appearance, along with newer bands The Interrupters and The Bombpops. Bands such as New Found Glory, The Menzingers, Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids are also playing the festival. Basically if you grew up around 15 years ago really wanting to go Warped Tour, this is probably as close as you're ever going to get.

Hell Hath No Fury Fest 2.0, 31st May–1st June
Hell Hath No Fury Fest first took place in Bristol last year but as organiser Holly as moved to Manchester so has the festival. The festival features the very best of riot grrrl, melodic and hardcore punk led by and inclusive of womxn and non-binary folk. Taking place at the brilliant Bread Shed, Hell Hath No Fury have teamed up with Anarchistic Undertones to put together what looks to be one hell of a good weekend. Among the bands already announced are War On Women, Petrol Girls, Mobina Galore, Drones, Pussy Liquor and Piss Kitti.

Polite Riot Festival, 28th–30th June
Taking place at the home of punk rock in London, the New Cross Inn, Be Sharp Promotions and Umlaut Records are again teaming up for a weekend of skate and melodic punk madness. Last year's debut festival featured Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream, Darko and Apologies, I Have None and was greatly enjoyed by all that attended. So far only two bands have been announced for this year's festival but they are legendary. Satanic Surfer and the Adolescents are coming!

Level Up Festival, 19th–21st July
Taking place at the home of ska punk in London, the New Cross Inn, Be Sharp Promotions, Fishlock Promotions and El Topo Bookings are again teaming up for a third weekend of ska punk madness. The last two years have been among my favourite weekends of the year with so many wonderful memories made. The festival always features the best of the UK's ska punk scene as well as getting some legends from around the globe to appear. This year will feature The JB Conspiracy, Claypigeon who are playing their first show in five years and Buck-O-Nine, who are making their first UK appearance in eighteen years!

Rebellion Festival, 1st–4th August
I think it's safe to say that Rebellion Festival is the biggest punk festival in the UK. Now stretching over four days, it's become an annual punk rock pilgrimage to Blackpool for punks old and new alike. The amount of bands from all over the world the festival attracts is truly staggering. Bringing in the biggest hitters from all over the world along with giving a platform for new bands to show what they can do, Rebellion really has something for everyone. I believe I read that there have already been over 150 acts announced including FEAR, The Stranglers, Descendents, Cock Sparrer, CJ Ramone, Teenage Bottlerocket, Citizen Fish, The Dwarves and Poison Idea.

Boomtown Fair, 7th–12th August
Aesthetically Boomtown is one of the craziest looking festivals in the world, with many different areas of the festival built up to look like different districts for different musical genres. Nothing is known about the punk and ska stages yet but I'm quite certain that the Last Gang In Town promoters will again pull some great names together for a very special festival.

Wotsit Called Fest, 27–29th September
The dates for this Hastings based DIY festival only got announced as I was writing this piece so again little is known about this year's edition. If the previous years are anything to go by it will be another riotous weekend of punk rock that will put plenty of smiles on plenty of people's faces.

Pie Race Festival, (if it's on I guess it will be sometime in November)
Pie Race Festival is a long running DIY festival based in Leeds. If last year's line-up is anything to go by the 2019 version will be a cracker. Faintest Idea, Millie Manders & The Shut Up, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Nosebleed, Atterkop and Captain Hotknives all played last year's Pie Race, if they can book more bands anywhere close to this calibre then it will no doubt be a fine weekend. There's also a pie eating contest of which I believe TNSrecords' Bev is the reigning champion.

Book Yer Ane Fest, 29th November–1st December
Make-That-A-Take Records will be hosting the thirteenth edition of their festival at the end of November. The Dundee based festival has long been a highlight of the DIY punk rock calendar. The one and only time I've managed to attend the festival I had the best time and Sarah Shout Louder recently named it as her festival of the year for 2018. This has me itching to go again and spoiler alert, I've already got the time booked off. Derrick and his crew always deliver incredible line-ups for BYAF and this year will no doubt be the same.

This column was written by Colin Clark.