2018 finished and it was quite a year. Of course the world seems to be crumbling down around us but Palace stayed up for another season and Andros Townsend scored the greatest goal in the history of football so that was lovely. It was also a phenomenal year for punk rock with more album of the year contenders than I can ever remember. It's so amazing to see so many bands, international and local, continuing to put out such fantastic music. My album of the year shortlist originally had 28 albums in it which is quite silly.
2018 has also been a year that has reignited my love of going to gigs. I mean my enthusiasm for three hour round trips to London to go to small pubs to see bands most people have never heard of and probably couldn't care less about never went away but this year I've definitely grown to love it more than ever. A big part of that has to do with discovering the Be Sharp / New Cross Inn scene in the summer of 2017 and then really becoming a part of it in 2018. Emma's mum actually joked that we must have second jobs there as we spend so much time there. In 2018 almost all of my favourite gig memories happened at the New Cross Inn. As Emma says, "it's a magical place."
The New Cross scene wasn't the only musical highlight though. For the fourth year running, Manchester Punk Festival was the best weekend of the year. Aside from the seamless organisation and excellent quality of bands, the big highlight of MPF was definitely the people. It was so lovely to catch up with so many people we've met through CPRW, whether it's folk from bands, labels or promoters, people from other blogs or legends who are fans of CPRW, the whole festival was handshakes, hugs, high-fives and smiles from start to finish. It was also just the best to have CPRW's Robyn and Brett over from South Africa to enjoy the festival with us.
In 2018 CPRW turned four years old and coincidently on our fourth birthday in June we hit the magical 500,000 views. Now when I started doing this blog I didn't really expect to go past four weeks so to get to four years and half a million views is something I'm probably more proud of than any other achievement in my life. The fact that CPRW continues to grow completely blows my mind. With so many other amazing punk rock blogs, zines, websites and such available, the fact that anyone would choose to read CPRW always makes me smile. I can never thank anyone who's supported us enough. And of course the biggest thanks will always go to my incredible team of friends who contribute so wonderfully. Thanks Brett. Thanks Dan. Thanks Emma. Thanks Jack. Thanks Omar. Thanks Richard. Thanks Robyn.
Sadly towards the end of the year Facebook, the site where we get most of our hits from, changed their algorithms which has really affected our reach and has seen our numbers nose dive. This was, as you can probably imagine, really frustrating after four years of working hard building up a fanbase and then seeing it basically get reset and, I won't lie, it did have me debating whether or not I want to keep on doing this but, to be honest, if I write a review and only one person reads it then I'm happy as it means I've exposed an awesome band to at least one more person.
June of 2019 will see CPRW's fifth birthday and we've got some cool secret things planned. It won't be a gig, as much as Paul Be Sharp keeps telling me I should start promoting. Hopefully you stick around to see what we've got in store for you. Hopefully CPRW can continue to grow and we can continue to meet and work with such great people.
I'm fairly certain 2019 will be another big year of punk rock. Festival line-ups for next year are quickly getting released and there looks to be more choice than ever for incredible punk rock experiences in the UK and all over mainland Europe. Imagine if you could get to them all, that would be pretty fun. I'm not as up to date as I probably should be about 2019's release schedule but I would assume that it's going to be another first class year for punk rock music in all its many forms and I'm excited to check out as much as I can – I do love discovering these tiny bands that release some of the most wonderful tunes.
In summary, 2018 was arguably the best year of my life and I'm looking forward to 2019 topping it.
This column was written by Colin Clark.