Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Gig Review: Manchester Punk Festival 2019 Day One 19/4/19

You might have noticed over the past month we've been very excited about the fifth Manchester Punk Festival taking place over Easter Weekend. The past four years of the festival have been all been absolutely amazing and we were all in no doubt that this year would be the same. As it seems to every year, the festival has grown once again with the inclusion of The Union, MPF's biggest ever venue, which would also be where you would collect your festival wristband and merchandise as well as being home to a pop up record shop featuring some of the UK's best labels and distros. The Union was a fantastic addition to MPF.

Manchester Punk Festival is also one of those magical times where it feels like everyone we've ever met at a gig or because of CPRW was all in the same place ready to hang out. Our best pals Robyn and Brett were back over from South Africa for their second MPF in a row and were rooming with us again. With over 130 acts playing as well as poets, comedians and live podcasters, it was a very busy weekend and is likely to make for a very long review. If you've not got the time to read the whole thing, basically everything myself and Emma and the rest of our pals saw was five stars. If you've got the time to read about mine and Emma's weekend, sit comfy and here we go.

(Note: Colin's parts are in regular text and Emma's parts are in italic.)

Sarah from Shout Louder is a good friend of CPRW and myself personally so when she told me that she would be doing a live recording of her podcast, with Luke from Call Me Malcolm and Holly from Hell Hath No Fury Records, it became a must see thing for me. Unfortunately we were a little bit late arriving due to basically getting the biggest breakfast I possibly could before heading to The Union for our wristbands and then back to The Font for the podcast. It was nice to see that a nice sized crowd had already gathered to watch, including fellow punk writers Matt (Ear Nutrition) and Makky (Broken Arrow). Shout Louder do a lot of fantastic work talking about mental health, something Sarah, Luke and Holly all spoke brilliantly about. It was an eye opening listen as well as having some very funny moments.

After the Shout Louder podcast, we made the short stroll over to Brickhouse Social (formally known as Underdog) for the first band of Manchester Punk Festival 2019. Dog Hand String Band are a 7-piece folk punk super group of sorts featuring members of Bad Knaves, Bootscraper, China Shop Bull and Jake And The Jellyfish. Despite being the first band of the day, the venue was packed out with plenty of eager punks lapping up this boot-stomping band. A fine kickstart to MPF 2019.

After Dog Hand String Band, I stuck around at Brickhouse Social to watch a bit of Chloe Hawes’ set. Having reviewed her EP O.W.W.W.P last year, I thought I should try and squeeze in at least a few songs before dashing off to the next act on my schedule. Chloe was joined by Steve Millar of Arms & Hearts fame on electric guitar while she played acoustic. I can report than her voice was every bit as lovely live as on recording and the two of them were captivating to watch.

Brighton's The Meantime Collective were a late replacement for Small Gods, a band I was planning on seeing. As they pulled out and The Meantime Collective took their place, I decided to pop along to Zombie Shack and see them open up the stage. This was a great decision on my part as I really enjoyed their set. Bringing together thrashy punk rock and bouncy ska upstrokes, The Mean Time Collective were a great addition to the festival and a great choice to open the stage. Playing as a three piece, though Facebook says they're normally a four piece, they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the stage despite leaving Brighton at 5.30am to get to Manchester in time for their set. The Meantime Collective were a brilliant new discovery for me.

Heading back out into the glorious Mancunian sunshine (who says it always rains in Manchester?), I made my way over to Gorilla where I found a rammed venue waiting eagerly for Manchester’s own Incisions. I’d heard a lot of good things about this foursome prior to the festival and having listened to them a bit, decided they were well worth checking out. Incisions are perhaps a little heavier than my usual tastes but that didn’t stop me enjoying their live show. It was ferocious – in only the best way. I also particularly enjoyed guitarist and vocalist Jordan’s tale of becoming a Crocs wearer after finding a pair in Falmouth (I don’t own any Crocs myself but I did live in Falmouth for a few years!).

After Incisions blew everyone away with their set, MPF veterans Wadeye were next to take to the Gorilla stage. Despite having been at every MPF, this was somehow my first time catching the festival regulars. This year the clashes finally aligned and I got to see the Manchester based band. The five piece played a melodic style of ska punk with a bit of crack rock steady thrown in for good measure. I assume they played some old favourites alongside some songs they said were new but in all honesty all of the songs were new to me. That didn't stop me having a little dance though!

Next on my schedule were another band that I’d heard nothing but good things about – ‘Yorkshire’s best-dressed band’, Nosebleed. They were the first band on at the newest, and by far the biggest, stage of MPF at The Union. The space is huge, especially compared to Brickhouse Social or Zombie Shack, but Nosebleed had drawn quite the crowd and I instantly understood why. Nosebleed play rock ’n’ roll with punk rock speed and attitude, plus they have such a great stage presence. I left just before the end to get back to Gorilla for Call Me Malcolm but I did hear mention of the band getting into the crowd so imagine things got really crazy pretty soon after that.

Before the festival had even started, I had been telling everyone they needed to go and see Call Me Malcolm at Gorilla – I gave my reasons in the programme. Of course, the London based ska punk band didn't disappoint. Gorilla was rammed for their Manchester debut and as soon as they began their set the room started moving. It was a non stop party from start to finish. Singing, skanking, moshing, a wall of hugs, Bruce The Bunny – everything that I love about a Malcolm show. The set flew by much too quickly and seemed to be over just as soon as it began, which in hindsight may have been a good thing for me as we still had two and a half days of MPF to go and I needed some voice left for it. Of course they finished their set with All My Nameless Friends. I don't think I saw any song the whole weekend get a reaction as big as this one, the chorus of whoa-ohs at the end of the song was a very special moment.

Energised from Call Me Malcolm’s awesome set at Gorilla, I ran off to see if I could catch the end of Pardon Us at Zombie Shack. The Liverpudlian trio had quite the crowd but I managed to squeeze in and watch about 15 minutes worth of blistering pop punk – and they fit quite a lot into that 15 minutes! The band were celebrating the release of their brand new EP, Pardon Us Stink, which was available after their set but also played a number of older tracks. Finishing up with my favourite tune Carry On from their debut EP, I left Zombie Shack in high spirits to see another half-set – because half a set is better than none!

When I headed down to Brickhouse Social once more I found yet another full room of music fans – this time watching Speed Dinosaurs, a trio whose instruments consist of ukulele, double bass and cajon. Two of the four songs that I caught at the end of their set were from their Mass Extinction Split EP with Stöj Snak. It was the EP’s official release day but I’d already heard it, loved it and reviewed it so it was fun to hear the songs I knew live. Even more fun was the cover song they finished with – Toxicity by System Of A Down. I loved that band as a teenager and hearing a fast folk cover of one of their songs was a highlight of the whole festival for me.

Manchester Punk Festival had a load of classic bands reuniting for the weekend. The first I checked out were The Arteries from Swansea. These guys haven't played a show together in years but you wouldn't have realised if you didn't know the history of the band. Grungey indie punk rock is the name of the game here for The Arteries as they stormed through the set. I was really impressed with just how tight they still were and I wonder how much time they spent getting ready for their set. I left a bit early to catch my next band of the day but not before I got to see a great performance of my favourite Arteries song, Acoustic Associations.

The Penske File were undoubtedly one of the bands I was most excited for over the entire MPF weekend. Dashing round to The Bread Shed for the first time this weekend, the first thing I noticed was the barrier that had been put up in front of the stage since last year. I thought that was a bit of a shame as something I've always enjoyed about The Bread Shed was the intimacy that came with the low stage and no stage barrier – it worked perfectly for a punk gig. It didn't however affect my enjoyment of The Penske File in the slightest. When I finally got the opportunity to see them at the New Cross Inn last year I was blown away by their live show – energetic performance, great harmonies and big choruses, everything you would expect from a top punk rock band. This was the case yet again as the Canadian three piece ripped through their set, playing mostly songs from last year's Salvation album but throwing in a couple of older songs from Burn Into Earth as well. Midway through their set, drummer Alex Standen accidentally broke the bass drum skin. This didn't deter the band one bit though as this was a punk show afterall and they powered through the rest of their set as if nothing was wrong at all. What a set this was.

My absolute highlight (musically) of the festival has to be the final act at Brickhouse Social on the Friday, Denmark’s Stöj Snak. Having adored their passionate and raw set at MPF in 2017, I knew this was one not to miss (despite the heartbreaking clash with The Penske File) and I could tell that others felt the same. Starting out solo, Niels kicked things off with shout-along tracks Screamersongwriter and Fuck! before the rest of the band joined him with double bass, washboard, all sorts of percussion and harmonica. A guitar string was broken early on but that didn’t stop the band from giving it everything they had. It was great to hear a few new songs from their latest split release and last year’s EP 1000 Daisies live. The biggest singalongs however came from older songs and none more so than Ronkedor where the band joined us in the crowd. Singalongs weren’t the only form of crowd participation however as the band handed out percussion instruments for the last few songs which a lovely yet unexpected touch. I don’t quite know how but this was even more special than Stöj Snak’s MPF set in 2017 and if you missed it, you missed out!

Slight side note: After Dog Hand String Band had finished earlier in the day and I’d been standing by myself (because the CPRW crew all split up to see different bands), I started talking to a lady named Katie. She asked who I was most looking forward to seeing and without a pause I said ‘Stöj Snak’. After Stöj Snak’s set she found me again and told me how much she had enjoyed it which was so lovely to hear. 

After meeting back up with Colin and Robyn and grabbing a quick bite to eat, it was time to put our dancing shoes back on for Norfolk’s finest ska punks, Faintest Idea. We actually ended up being a bit late as we skanked our way into Gorilla – I assume the band would have begun their set with …Back To The Asylum as is Faintest Idea tradition but I cannot be sure. Either way, the large crowd was happily lapping it up and enjoying every second. The same could be said of the band themselves with Bobble, trombone, and Lil Dan, saxophone, in particular showing off their best dance moves. Classic songs such as Youth, House Of Cards and, set closer, Bull In A China Shop got huge crowd reactions and new song Stomp Them Down was also well received. There was also a pretty special rendition of Corporation featuring Ed Ache of I.C.H/Casual Nausea, the original writer of the song. Another top notch Faintest Idea performance.

Following Faintest Idea at Gorilla were a band I was super excited to see – Authority Zero. Just a week prior to MPF I had never seen the Arizona reggae-meets-skate-punk legends live before but, having played the New Cross Inn a few days prior, MPF was my second time seeing them. They were incredible in London and I was expecting similar levels of awesome in Manchester – I was not disappointed. The room and crowd were bigger but, from the very first notes of A Passage In Time, they went just as crazy for the band as the crowd had in London. And rightly so, Authority Zero are incredibly skilled musicians and put on a captivating performance every single time. You can’t even compare it to other bands because, at least with my own limited punk knowledge, I cannot think of a single band that sounds quite like Authority Zero do. The set was mostly old favourites with a few newer songs from their most recent albums Broadcasting To The Nations and Persona Non Grata. Whether it was old or new, it was loved. There were some technical difficulties part way through with Dan Aid’s guitar cutting out but it didn’t phase frontman Jason DeVore as he led a very much unplanned rendition of Rattlin’ Bog. Just another reason why Authority Zero are one of the best punk bands in the world and were one of CPRW’s highlights of the whole weekend.

The band chosen to headline Gorilla on the first night of the festival was UK ska punk legends King Prawn. When they were first announced I was kind of surprised that this was their first time playing MPF, they seem to be the absolute perfect fit. It's a very exciting time to be a King Prawn fan at the moment as this weekend they released their long awaited new album, their first since reuniting in 2013. Titled The Fabulous New Sounds Of, the set was sprinkled with some songs from that (which sound superb) along with all of the old favourites. Obviously King Prawn are ageing but that didn't stop them putting on one hell of a show. Their music has this energetic quality that you can't help but dance to. King Prawn seemed to have the majority of the punks in Gorilla dancing, whether they were old fans or people seeing them for the first time. Whenever I see King Prawn the big realisation I always have during their set is how many brilliant songs they have written. I had the time of my life dancing along to favourites such as Caught Inna Rut, Bring Down The House, Bitter Taste and Someone To Hate – all were great fun. Unfortunately, due to a little delay in getting started and the apparent strict 10pm curfew at Gorilla, King Prawn had to cut their set a little short, but not before finishing with Day In Day Out and Dominant View. What a way to finish a set. I can't wait to see King Prawn at Level Up Fest at the New Cross Inn in July.

Now here’s where I have to attempt to review a headlining band that I don’t know too much about. Because, instead of staying to see King Prawn – a band I have seen and enjoyed a fair few times before – I decided to go and see a band I hadn’t seen live before, 88 Fingers Louie. I knew Robyn and Brett were keen to see the Chicago punks so decided to give them a shot myself. 88 Fingers Louie were headlining at The Union which was the largest of the MPF venues this year although, with the likes of King Prawn and Subhumans all playing at the same time, it wasn’t perhaps as packed out as it could have been. Still, there were plenty of folk keen to see these kings of melodic hardcore. Apparently it was the band’s first time ever in Manchester in their 26 year career so I imagine it was a pretty special occasion for many in attendance. Before too long, I was watching in fascination at just how slick this band was – 88 Fingers Louie sure know how to shred. All I kept thinking is ‘This is a “proper” band’. (No offence meant to the other bands I’ve reviewed!) Despite not really knowing any songs, I enjoyed having a little headbang along to 88 Fingers Louie and was glad to have taken a chance on a new (for me) band.

The fun didn't stop at Gorilla. After King Prawn had finished their set it was time to head to one of MPF's legendary after parties. I had a very entertaining walk to The Bread Shed, with my pals C-Rage and Jason from El Topo Bookings,  for a special party in memory of Manchester producer Tim Gray. Tim was a close friend of many of the Manchester punk scene and the organisers decided it was only right to have a stage (named big Tone After Party) dedicated to him.

Harijan, a band that Tim was a member of, were the first to take to the stage for the after party. Harijan are a band I've been aware of for a while but have never really listened properly to, perhaps because they haven't played any shows in a long time, but I was looking forward to checking them out. Obviously, this being Manchester Punk Festival and Harijan having been a part of TNSrecords, they were treated like returning heroes and had people dancing throughout their set. I believe that Harijan were playing as a nine piece for the set, I don't know if this was the norm back in the day or they had managed to get as many members from the band’s history together for this special set. Either way it look great on stage and all those horns sounded superb. Playing a set full of ska and two tone with bit of a working class feel, I'm so pleased I got to see Harijan.

The second band to take to the Big Tone After Party stage were Yorkshire's Catch-It Kebabs. Featuring Tim's sister Chloe on saxophone, Catch-It Kebabs are a band I never ever thought I'd get the chance to see as they split up not long after I discovered them, potentially on Myspace way back when. Needless to say, I was excited to see them. Another band with many members, at one point there were ten people on the stage (unless my maths had got a bit squiffy at 1am), they quickly had the survivors of day one (of which there were still many) dancing away with such big smiles on their faces. Playing a selection of songs from Skanking Sausages and Return Of The Kebabulance, I couldn't believe I was finally seeing them live and I was so happy. Hearing songs such as Bluelight, Party Politics and 5 Years had me joyously dancing their set away.

The final act of the day were Manchester genre crossing heroes Sonic Boom Six. You'd expect a full day of punk rock goodness would have had the crowd completely broken by this stage of the night/morning but SB6's Laila K took to the stage and announced it was really time to party and that's what happened. There aren't many bands capable of getting a crowd dancing at this late hour like SB6. Opening with Bigger Than Punk Rock and Sound Of The Revolution, two old favourites, was a masterstroke and from then on the party continued. It was nice to hear old school tracks such as All In and Monkey See Monkey Do get run outs alongside newer songs like No Man No Right. By this point I was having a hard time concentrating on what was going on so decided it might be time to call it a night. Sonic Boom Six were slaying the crowd as always though. A few days after the performance I discovered that Barney Boom had been unwell for the set, so the level of performance was even more impressive.

While Colin stuck with his ska punk and went to the after party at Bread Shed, I headed to Rebellion with Robyn and Brett for the other after party. My main reason for opting for Rebellion was to see the first band, Above Them. I don’t have the best track record with Above Them. I listened to the Yorkshire band a lot during my uni years but somehow missed out on seeing them live on several occasions… then they broke up. I was gutted. So, when I heard they would be reforming to playing MPF this year I was excited but also a little apprehensive. What if they weren’t as good as I’d built them up to be? Thankfully, they were. They were so unbelievably good. I’d forgotten just how great the songs in their back catalogue are. Sadly, despite recognising all of the songs, I hadn’t brushed up on the lyrics so wasn’t able to sing along as fully as others in the room but still had the best time.

With Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man calling it a day last year, Throwing Stuff have stepped up to be the official band of Manchester Punk Festival (guitarist Kieran is one of the MPF organisers, if you didn’t know). I’ve seen the band a few times over the last few years and, although their style of hardcore punk is heavier than anything I would generally listen to on recording, they always put on a good show. The crazy and intense energy that comes with a Throwing Stuff set is probably just what was needed to ensure that there would be no one falling asleep at this after party! I couldn’t tell you the names of most of the songs they played but I know the set closer was Steve’s Job and included a stage invasion – amazing.

Following Throwing Stuff and closing the first day of MPF 2019 wasn’t going to be an easy task but Mean Caesar were up to it. Despite being a relatively new band, the five-piece from London are a band I’ve seen a lot (at the New Cross Inn) over the past year. Each and every time they get better and better however. Here they were playing to a potentially brand new audience but they soon won over those that had lasted until the end of day one with their hooky gruff punk. It was a little odd to see the band on such a large stage but they owned it, with Lester in particular strutting his stuff up and down the stage as only Lester can. Mean Caesar only have one EP out so far which meant their set was a short one – short but most definitely sweet. A fine end to MPF day one.

Day one had already set up the fifth year of MPF to be the best yet and there were still two full days to go. I was broken already but I couldn't wait to see what fun the next day would bring.

This review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew.

Professional looking photographs by Marc Gärtner and Gresle Photography.
(Those that look like they were taken on a phone by Emma Prew.)

Album Review: Old Soul 45's by Almost People

Almost People are a band I've had my eye on since discovering them thanks to their superb song Bored With Booze a couple of years ago. In March the three piece from Durham, North Carolina, released a brand new three song EP titled Old Soul 45's which looks at having to make sacrifices to do the things that you love.

Title track Old Soul 45's opens up the EP. This is an extremely endearing melodic pop punk track. Lead singer Jonny's vocals immediately stand out and welcome you into the EP. They quickly have you wanting to sing along to this song which is about selling your old records to help keep a relationship going. The song feels like one that would get such a passionate sing-along response from a crowd due to the way the vocals are delivered along with the catchy lyrics and big hooks.

Up next is The Apologies. This may be a bit of a niche reference but I really enjoyed the title of this track given the similarity in sound to really, really early Apologies, I Have None. The chorus is one that you will pick up from the start. It's catchy and the use of gang vocals give it a huge sound that must work so well live. The track is over four minutes long, which is probably a bit longer than your average pop punk song, but it doesn't ever feel like it's dragging due to its many sing-along moments, a nice guitar solo midway and some tempo and key changes.

The final track on the EP in named Sore Throat Blues. Almost People slow things down slightly on this much more emotional song to finish Old Soul 45's. Vocally things sound a bit toned down which brings the overall sound of the track down. It has quite a melancholic feel. There are moments when you think that things are going to pick up but this doesn't happen. The song would probably fall more under the emo umbrella of punk rock, making me think a bit of Saves The Day – which is lovely.

This is a great but short release from Almost People. Definitely a great introduction to the band if you weren't familiar before but also a nice progression for long time fans of the band. Almost People are a band with a huge upside who I imagine will gain more and more fans as the year goes on.

Stream and download Old Soul 45's here: https://almostpeople.bandcamp.com/

Like Almost People here: http://www.facebook.com/almostpeople

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Gig Review: Anarchistic Undertones Present The Official Manchester Punk Festival 2019 Warm Up Gig 18/4/19

After six months of excitement and anticipation we were on the cusp of the fifth Manchester Punk Festival. As an added extra this year one of the festival’s promoters, Anarchistic Undertones, put on an official pre festival gig at Rebellion featuring a stacked and varied line up. It was also a fantastic chance to catch up with the seemingly unending list of pals who were descending on Manchester from not just the UK but all over the world.

First up were Bristol skate punk band Layman's Terms. This five piece are a band I have been aware of for a while now but hadn't yet checked out. This was my chance and I was quickly impressed with the Epi-Fat style shredders. A decent sized crowd had gathered early and seemed very receptive as they tore through their set. Midway through the set the band’s guitarist took a moment to talk about mental health and how more and more people are coming forward to talk about how they're feeling. Layman's Terms are a seriously tight band who put on an energetic performance. Despite not knowing any of the songs, I was completely compelled by what was happening on the stage and am even more compelled to check them out in the future.

Up next were London d-beat/crust band Arboricidio. In all honesty this style of music is not one I ever find myself drawn to but I decided that, in the spirit of MPF and checking out new bands, I should watch them. Despite some trepidation I quickly found myself really enjoying the five piece. Frontperson Amy has the most ferocious vocal I've heard in some time and it filled Rebellion. I quickly found myself nodding my head along to their music, their set filling me with a power and energy that I guess only this kind of music is capable of. It's always good to see a band that isn't really to your normal tastes blow you away.

The penultimate act of the night were Liverpool's Down And Outs. Down And Outs were a band I was really looking forward to seeing. Their last album, Double Negative, was a big favourite of mine last year and finally being able to see them live felt like a real treat. From the outset I was loving them. Kind of mixing gruff pop punk sing-alongs with a working class street punk vibe, Down And Outs are a band that are completely up my street. Unfortunately, during their opening song, drummer Morgan Brown's (whose other band Pardon Us were playing on the Friday) drum pedal broke cutting it short but from then on it was smooth sailing. It wasn't just me who enjoyed Down And Outs, I noticed everyone around me really getting into it and there was a good amount of people right down the front having a dance and a sing. I hope to be able to see Down And Outs again soon, they are definitely one of the scene’s best kept secrets.

Last up was a band that was guaranteed to get the crowd properly warmed up for the rest of the weekend. I think it's fair to call The JB Conspiracy UK ska punk legends at this point and the crowd that had gathered at Rebellion were keen to see them play. Honestly these guys don't play anywhere near enough shows these days. That didn't stop them putting in a faultless performance though. Lead by some of the bet horn lines in the genre, JB quickly had the folk in Rebellion skanking like it was the final band of the entirety of Manchester Punk Festival. I'm writing this after the entire festival so my mind is a bit hazy of what songs they actually played but it seemed to be a bit of a best of set with favourites from This Machine and The Storm both going down extremely well. The highlight for me was Say Goodbye, I haven't heard them play that song for ages. We were also treated to at least one new song from some new material they have been busily working on this past year that is sounding fantastic. The JB Conspiracy are one of those bands that will blow you away even if you're not a fan of the ska punk genre and they certainly did that on this night. I can't wait to see them again at Level Up Festival at the New Cross Inn in July – perhaps with even more new songs?

I really enjoyed this MPF warm up. The varied line up was a great idea as it got me excited for all the different styles of punk rock that would be represented over the weekend. What a brilliant way to start the weekend.

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

Album Review: Grand Relapse by Pizzatramp (by Lee Morton)

To be honest, this wasn’t an easy review to do as anyone familiar with Welsh Thrash/Skate punks Pizzatramp can attest – they are best enjoyed live and ideally with your alcoholic beverage of choice in hand. Neither of which is really feasible on my daily commute to and from work when I do most of my music listening.

For those unaware, Pizzatramp deal in stupidly fast thrash punk songs about drinking, hangovers, working class life and more drinking, as well as more serious topics like racism and the NHS. All this is delivered at 100Mph, as 15 tracks in 25 minutes will attest to.

The album starts in blistering fashion with “Captain Sea Org”, which effectively lays down the template for the album. Fast, snotty, obnoxious thrash that speeds by in a blur. I really loved the mid-section riffs and SP/OG vocal shout-outs that so reminded me of early skate-punk legends Suicidal Tendencies.

Another thing Pizzatramp are known for is their sense of humour, which is displayed over the next couple of tracks. “Millions Of Dead Goths”, a possible homage to the band MDC, is quite simply about goths dying in sunlight and manages to reference Helena Bonham Carter and possibly others if you listen really closely. The slightly darker, more sinister guitar tones fit perfectly with the Hammer horror track, complete with doom sounding outro, whilst the faster angrier “He’s Gone Full Mitchell” hurtles along on bouncy basslines and some ferocious drumming.

Talking of drums, Danny Bang Bang’s drumming is on point for the whole record and he gets his chance in the spotlight on next track, “137995”, with a drum solo intro as the song builds slowly and ominously, interspersed with some shouty hardcore. A snippet from Scottish detective show Taggart, featuring the famous line “There’s been a murder”, starts track 5 of the same name. It’s fast, packed with riffs and gang vocals to scream along with.

As we approach the mid-point of the album things briefly take a turn to the serious as vocalist Jimmy No Whammy takes aim at people who feel that they are entitled to leer, grope and touch others without consent on the storming “Letch”. Its no nonsense attitude and aggression really hammers home the point and leaves you in no doubt of his feelings.

Coming in at an epic (for Pizzatramp) three and a half minutes, “Nobhammer” is one of my favourite songs here. An old school style hardcore thrash crossover track, with some tasty breakdowns and gang vocals to get your teeth into as well as a Black Sabbath like groove as it fades out towards the end. Tasty stuff.

I think we can all relate to “I Got Work In The Morning”, a tale of abstinence due to work the next day which starts with a loud techno/Drum ’n’ Bass intro, before the buzzing guitars kicks in and Jimmy reels off the list of stimulants he can’t have due to work commitments. Its humorous tone really shows how they can empathise with their audience, which is a great knack to have.

I’ve no idea who “Neville Clartos” is but, based on the song of the same name, I wouldn’t like to meet him. This is fast, aggressive and bludgeons you with riff after riff with Jimmy screaming the title so hard you can visualise the veins in his neck bulging.

The Self-explanatory “Stop Being A Racist C*nt” follows and is another pot-shot at the racial underbelly that somehow still exists in this country. A raging storm of a track that can be summed up by the line “when will you wankers learn”.

The last two songs, “Weekend At Jimmy’s” and “Nappy Thrash” both clock in under a minute and thrash harder than a fish on a hook but, mostly due to the quality that comes before them, feel a little by the numbers – not really delivering that final knock-out blow that great albums should.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t a great album, especially if you like your punk fast and filled with attitude, but it does lose it a few marks so instead of an A*, it’s a A. What it does prove though is that with the sad demise of Revenge of the Psychotronic Man, Pizzatramp are ready and able to pick up the mantle as the fastest riff slingers in town.

Stream and download Grand Relapse here: https://tnsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/grand-relapse

Like Pizzatramp here: https://www.facebook.com/Pizzatrampuk/

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Friday, 26 April 2019

CPRW Playlist: April 2019

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

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Top Tens: Tane from Tightwire's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

AC/DC – Back In Black

Bon Scott was clearly the better frontman, but this album was the ultimate comeback. Can you imagine what this record would've been like with Bon Scott? Holy shit.

Van Halen – 1984
Yes! This was another album my Dad showed me. How could you tell?? P.S. David Lee Roth is a god.

Heart – Dreamboat Annie
Another one from my Dad. He's the best AND this album is life changing.

Blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
This record was a turning point for me. My relationship with my folks got all fucked up and I started smoking pot. Carson Daly can suck my shitty ass but this record was pretty cool.

NOFX – 45 or 46 songs…
Best NOFX record of all time. Okay, maybe Punk in Drublic was better. Who gives a shit.

Dillinger Four – Midwestern Songs
Some stoner kid from my high school gave me this record and it totally changed pop punk for me. Also, I always thought the line was "fuck the mall", kinda sad. I guess Lorraine's down in Africa.

The Ergs – Three Guys Twelve Eyes
This is the absolute best version of pop punk in my opinion. You don't agree? Well, don't listen to my fuckin’ band then. I don't give a shit.

Have I listed 10 bands yet? No, shit, okay.

Toys That Kill 

Anything Motown

And, uhhh, Blink 182 Dude Ranch

If you do like The Ergs then you can listen to Tightwire here. You should buy their latest album here. And you should like them here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Album Review: Live in Wiesbaden Ringkirche / Live in Iserlohn Dechenhöhle by Nathan Gray (by Richard Mair)

Warning: This will not be an objective or unbiased review… it just can’t be, as will become abundantly clear. If you’ve come here expecting such a review please head over to Punknews or Dying Scene, I’m sure they’ll be able to provide a much more detached review and justify the inevitable 4.5–5 stars they’ll most likely give it (’cause it is very good)! If you’re still reading and want to know my thoughts, thank you and I hope you’ll realise why I’ve taken this approach…

…Much like the recent Springsteen on Broadway experience, this collection of Nathan Gray tracks take us on a personal journey, spanning his career as leader of emo/hardcore pioneers Boysetsfire to the more indie pop influences of The Casting Out and the solo songs released last year on Feral Hymns. Whilst Springsteen always comes across as the blue collar everyman done good delivered with a poetic edge, Nathan Gray’s solo live set is something much more raw, exposed and hard hitting. Its story telling approach is dark, haunting and powerful – the emotion of his voice on show whilst linking the songs is truly inspiring. This is not always a happy story but it is one that hits home… and hits hard.

January 10th 2016 is etched into my head. Early morning, say about 6:10am, I’m sat at home working whilst my girlfriend is getting ready for work. As she is walking out the door breaking news announces the death of David Bowie; her idol and hero. Stunned into silence we watched the news for an hour straight before she finally got in the car and drove to work, Hunky Dory on the stereo and tears in her eyes. At work, colleagues struggled to understand why she would be so upset at someone dying who she had never met... Before playing a cover of Red Tape Parades “Leap Year of Faith”, Nathan talks about the emotional connection and impact music has on us; it’s ability to inspire and influence but also heal us. Whilst he was talking about this I was transported immediately back to that cold winter morning, and seeing someone close to me hurting for something that they can’t readily explain but also for the solace she found in revisiting Bowie’s music. That’s ultimately the essence of this set. This is Nathan’s chance to heal himself and help others, whether he is talking about society, religion, abuse – it’s just purely inspiring and a message that needs to be told.

This is why I can’t treat this as a normal review. When I was in my late teenage years trying to find a place in the world and feeling slightly alone in my views, bands like Boysetsfire, Hot Water Music and As Friends Rust provided this feeling of identity. Nathan Gray’s words in particular spoke to me more than anyone else. When he talks about the influence music can have, it’s not lost on me that he has one such voice that continues to support my own world view. He is one of my heroes and this story telling approach here makes him all the more heroic for his humanity and fallibility on show.

So the music then… it’s epic. Simply, what we have are two sets delivered by Nathan that encompass choice cuts from his career. Inevitably the Boysetsfire songs instantly stand out. An abridged version of “Walk Astray”, “Phonecall 4AM” and “Fall From Grace” all sound so familiar yet so much more vulnerable by the acoustic, pared down approach. We also have some Casting Out songs on show which Nathan admits were conceived as a solo endeavour before he ‘chickened out’. “Lullaby” and “Quixote’s Last Stand” sound exactly as you’d hope they would. Nathan has such a strong and emotional voice that on all of these songs you truly get to appreciate how talented he is, not only as a singer but also with his lyrics and song-craft.

Last year’s Feral Hymns was the first real solo work by Nathan and as you’d expect these songs also appear. “As the Waves Crash Down” opens the set, its atmospheric moody guitar line offset by his melodic uplifting vocals. It’s a great start to both sets. It’s joined by “Burn Away” which Nathan introduces as an admittance of past mistakes and also of recognition of one’s own flaws. It’s this approach that adds the humanity and frailty to the shows. With many of his introductions to the songs he talks from the heart and it makes the songs all the more powerful; and this is especially true of this specific song.

The highlights, of which there are many, are truly amazing – again on both live sets. The Boysetsfire song “Across Five Years” is transformed into a gorgeous acoustic number with some lovely guitar licks and string accompaniment. Whilst the ever stunning “My Life In The Knife Trade” is just, well… stunning; especially the crowd’s reaction in Wiesbaden which is both beautiful and goosebump inducing!

On both collections, two songs really stand out. “Alone” and “Ebbing Of The Tide”. As a fan of the Casting Out I loved both songs but here, knowing the personal background to the project, they both just live and breathe so much more. Nathan acknowledges the personal turmoil that surrounded the touring and live aspects of the Casting Out but both songs have his heart and soul laid bare and have the majesty to reduce you to tears. As previously stated, the music is epic but these two are taken to a completely different level due to their stripped down approach.

So in terms of a review, genuinely there was no chance I could ever suggest that this was anything but a gushing love letter to one of my heroes. A man who through personal adversity, challenges and hardship has created songs that I feel resonate with my own life story; whose political and social beliefs make me believe that punk rock can change the world for the better and who continues to show humanity and compassion for those around even if we sometimes struggle to understand them and their views of the world. What we always tend to forget is that sometimes things happening in the world are more important than music but music provides us a soundtrack and narrative with which we experience the world. That’s exactly what we have here – and it’s truly magical!

Stream and download Live At Ringkirche Wiesbaden here: https://endhitsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-ringkirche-wiesbaden

Like Nathan Gray here: https://www.facebook.com/nathangraymusic/

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Album Review: Conviction, Vol. III: The Road To Clarity by Jason DeVore (by Emma Prew)

As a reader of this very much punk themed blog, I probably don’t need to explain to you who Jason DeVore is. You probably know him better as being the frontman and leader of reggae meets skate punk rockers Authority Zero rather than for his solo material, mind you. I certainly do. However, as a huge lover of his songwriting and his incredible voice in particular, I was more than happy to check out his third solo album, Conviction, Vol. III: The Road To Clarity, which was released in March on his own label Operation Records.

The Road To Clarity opens with a song called I Hate To Say I Told You So. Some gentle acoustic guitar sets the tone for what’s to come – or does it? Gentle it may be but it’s certainly not simple as there are multiple overlapping melodies on offer here. DeVore’s distinct vocal are unstrained and simply stunning. This feels like an opening track as the pace and volume builds slowly throughout. Things pick up after the one and half minute mark however and by two and a half minutes the song is pretty fast paced, ensuring that you get your head nodding. The song is about staying strong despite what difficulties you may come up against in life. ‘Gotta move on, gotta keep on, gotta be strong, hey, hey. Gotta get on, gotta hold on, gotta go on, hey yeah.’ Up next is an acoustic re-working of the Authority Zero song When We Rule The World from 2017’s Broadcasting To The Nations. I absolutely loved that album so it was a pleasant surprise to hear a song I recognised from it on this release. I mean, if you’ve listened to Authority Zero’s R&B III live acoustic album then you’ve actually already heard a similar acoustic version of this song although this one is stripped back even more. It’s a great song though and fits in well on The Road To Clarity.

You know sometimes when you listen to a new album for the first time and there’s that one song that really stands out to you on your first listen? No matter how many times you listen to the album, you keep coming back to that one song and declaring it your favourite? For me, on this album, it’s Choke. As one of the longest songs on the album, it builds and builds throughout its duration from a simple acoustic track, to being accompanied by piano, to a pure gang vocal singalong that just fills me with so much joy. I love it so much. I think the song is about struggling mentally whilst being a touring musician and just trying to get through each day as best you can. I wish I had the full lyrics to read in depth as they’re so good. As if there wasn’t enough emotion packed into the previous song, DeVore somehow has even more to fit into this next song, Vertigo. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking both in its lyricism and melodies. Similar to Choke, and perhaps overall themes of the album in general, Vertigo talks about fighting life’s demons but trying to find the positives in the darkness. ‘So hold my hand, Don’t you leave me alone, I’ll hold my breath ’til I choke on my own, Words that will never quite make their way back, Back to the place where your heart turned so black.’

The Road To Clarity (Here Here) is the fifth song of the album. There’s a simple, soothing and warm acoustic guitar melody that repeats throughout the song. I also feel like I could lie down, close my eyes and let Jason DeVore’s deep voice sing me to sleep… but, not yet, we’ve got the rest of the album to listen to! I think there’s a violin on this song although it might be piano, I’m not entirely sure. Either way, it’s lovely. The song reflects on the fact that you only live once so try not to worry about the things you can’t change – ‘There’s never going to be a second chance, We’re not meant to live in fear.’ I don’t know if there’s a vinyl version of the album but this track brings side A to a close very nicely. Up next (on side B) is a song that I could quite easily imagine as an Authority Zero tune, Another Song Of Freedom. I suppose that might be because it is a bit of a political and/or protest song with a clear message about standing up for what you believe in. Despite its stripped back nature, the song has plenty of groove. Plus it encourages you to get up and – ‘Sing with me, Another song of freedom, Through the night ’til sunrise, Oh come on and dance with me, Until it’s taking over, Raise your voice and play.’

Black And Blue is stripped back Jason DeVore at his best. He’s an amazing storyteller and he really doesn’t hold back on this song. It’s honest, passionate and really pulls at your heart strings. At just under six minutes long, this is no short, fast punk song but not a single second is wasted. ‘With my heart on my sleeve, And the world at the tips of my fingers, When there’s nothing to believe in, And all that you have loved you’ve now lost, And you’ll replace it with everything, Everything you can think of. That’s when it hits you, Only then will it hit you, You’re black and blue.’ Starting out quietly, eighth song Who’s Side Are You On eases you in gradually. The vocals increase in volume as the song progresses, with the guitars remaining very soft for much of the song. Who’s Side Are You On displays a series of questions throughout its duration, seemingly directed at the listener. ‘Are you lost in the world? Are you living day to day? Are you wondering? Yeah, I’m wondering just the same. Have you had enough of it all? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? What more can I say?, Who else can you blame? Who’s side are you on?’ DeVore’s songwriting, in this case about seeking purpose in life, will no doubt connect with so many people.

The penultimate song of The Road To Clarity is called Whiskey And Roses. Here we have an almost ballad-like track. It’s hugely nostalgic, reflective and is perhaps even the ‘love’ song of the album. For the most part, Whiskey And Roses is one man and his acoustic guitar for a very personal song but in the chorus there are some subtle harmonies that bring another dimension to the track. It’s just superb. Finishing things up is a bit of a boot-stomper if there ever was one. I’m struggling to find the right words to describe just how Are We Too Loud sounds – it’s unlike anything else on the album that’s for sure. The song is very much all about the vocals, while the instruments set the rhythm and backbeat – which will be drilled into your head, by the way. It’s super bluesy, methodical and a little bit intense. The song wouldn’t sound right placed at any other point on the album. It’s an ideal closing track.

Yes, The Road To Clarity is an acoustic album but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking variety, far from it. It just goes to show what an incredible vocalist, lyricist and musician Jason DeVore is that he can create stripped back songs such as these and yet keep each one sounding fresh and different. I am honestly a little bit in awe of this man. Conviction, Vol. III: The Road To Clarity is excellent.

You can buy, download and stream the album from the various places listed here. You can, and should, also like Jason DeVore on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Album Review: Hope And Ruin by Rowan Oak (by Emma Prew)

Rowan Oak are a four-piece emo punk band from Münster, Germany. Formed in 2012, the band describe their influences as headaches, heartbreaks, friends, family and the road – which sounds exactly like a band I could get on board with. Back in February, Rowan Oak released a new EP titled Hope And Ruin on Fond Of Life Records. I keenly took a listen.

Hope And Ruin opens with the song Build / Burn, kicking things off with a lone guitar before the drums and bass join after a few seconds. The opening lines of ‘Oh how I long for these nights in the basement…’ show that Rowan Oak are a DIY punk band through and through. The song ticks along at a fairly upbeat pace but there are moments where the instruments seem to slow down a little to allow the listener to really focus on the vocals. I’m reminded a lot of Welsh band Funeral For A Friend here which is totally not a bad thing as they were the soundtrack to my youth. Build / Burn is about trying really hard to make something work but it ultimately not turning out the way you planned. The line that really stood out to me is ‘All good things, have endings.’ Melancholic though it may be, it’s also… true. Yearn To Be Free is up next and it opens with an interesting little, almost improvised sounding, drum beat. After a short time the bass comes in, adding depth to the sound, before the vocals and guitars bring the melody. This is a slower paced song that oozes in emotion. The vocals verge on poppy as singer Flo Zandt tells the story of a relationship not working out and turning to alcohol to soften the pain. There’s a great section towards the end of the song where the lines ‘We yearn to be free.’ are repeated several times and two complimentary guitar melodies, along with the bass and drums, build and build. It actually ends up being an instrumental outro that slows down and finishes in a similar way to how the song began.

Dead In The Water is the third song of Hope And Ruin. The track has a fairly lengthy instrumental introduction, complete with some more of that almost experimental jam-style bass and drums action. When the vocals come in for the first verse it’s slow and soft sounding. Needless to say, even as the tempo seems to build, I wasn’t expecting the anger and volume that comes from the chorus. Showcasing a heavier side to their emo punk sound but without getting too ‘screamy’, I really enjoyed this change of pace from Rowan Oak. Switching back to the slower pace and cleaner vocals helps to hold the listener in suspense before another blast of angsty energy finishes the song. In perfect contrast, Better Self is a slower paced and hugely emotional song that opens with firm steady strums of the guitar. Something about it feels laid-back and almost dream-like as the melody carries you through the track. There is obviously a sad feeling to the song, this is an emo band after all. However, Better Self is about how – despite your outward persona – underneath there is a better perhaps happier version of yourself just waiting for the right person to bring it out. In a way, this is a bit of a love song with lines like ‘Everything seems effortless to you.’ and ‘You make me feel so alive.’ standing out. Perhaps saving the best for last, Rowan Oak close their EP with The Distance. Instantly more upbeat and more straight up punk rock sounding than previous tracks, The Distance will get punks and emo kids alike throwing their fists in the air. The song is about how certain friends will alway be close to your heart despite their physical distance from you at any given time because you always have the memories – ‘Forever with me, Wherever you may roam.’ It’s a theme that is not uncommon in punk rock but it’s great to hear Rowan Oak put their own spin on it and end Hope And Ruin on a high note.

You can check out Hope And Ruin on Bandcamp and like Rowan Oak on Facebook. I’ll be seeing the band live in a few months time at Booze Cruise Festival in Hamburg, maybe you should too!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Album Review: #chilloutradio by Heathcliff

German punk rockers Heathcliff (yup, they're named after the cat) released their debut album #chilloutradio on March the 9th. Featuring eight tracks of blisteringly fast skate punk with elements of hardcore, metal and a tiny amount of reggae, it sounds interesting but is it any good? There's one way to find out!

#chilloutradio begins with the song Kim Nuke'em Vs Twittler. Starting out with an audio clip which is partly in German (so I couldn't understand) before we switch to a clip of that moron Donny Trump talking about nuclear weapons. Thankfully this doesn't last long as the band then launch into a political song about how Trump and Kim Jong-Un are like children arguing about who has the better nuclear weapons and how they should focus on more important things that will help people. This is such a hard hitting opening to the album lyrically as well as how the band seriously shred. The song is an instant energy booster. The second track, Who Told You To Grow Up Anyway?, has a slow start but then explodes into life with some soaring vocals and a fast paced drum beat really doing a fantastic job in continuing the energy from the opening song. I really enjoyed how the vocals grow in intensity as the song progresses, really making it feel as if the band is growing more and more passionate about what they're singing about as the track goes on. It's about growing up and having the perfect life but it not being the life for them. Something a lot of punk rockers will relate to.

STFU is the title of the albums third song. This track has more of a 90s skate punk feel to it, particularly bands like No Use For A Name or The Ataris who fell into the more pop side of the genre. I'm impressed with how Heathcliff can confidently pull off this style as well as the super technical stuff they showcased earlier on #chilloutradio. STFU looks at politicians and how they look to make a profit for themselves without caring for the people they serve. There's an audio clip layered over the top of an awesome guitar solo that adds a bit of emotion to the ending of the song which I thought was a great way to end the track. George W. Redneck is up next, bringing the intensity levels back up as drummer Basti plays like a man possessed on this song. I'm exhausted just listening to him. It's pretty obvious what the song is about, George Bush being a terrible president. Perhaps this song is a little outdated now but it's still such a good song. Heathcliff do an incredible job in blending the technical punk rock with the 90s skate punk with some fantastic guitar parts, those drums and some fantastic vocals. I found the final verse which starts out "Take to the streets‚ ’cause it’s time to make a stand, human rights are to defend. Some man are killing for personal gain." really quite empowering.

1933 brings us nicely into the second half of #chilloutradio. The song starts slowly, gradually building into a really powerful skate punk track. It's about growing up in post-war Germany realising how lucky you are to be free as it's more than likely your grandparents weren't but also believing that in ways it's still the same and how sad that is. This song really got to me, it's such a powerful and emotive song that really gets you thinking about things. I thought their use of gang vocal "whoa-ohs" at the end of the song was an absolutely inspired choice as they bring people together – really really amazing imagery to finish the song. Heathcliff really get intense again on the sixth song therules(dot)org. The song builds quickly with some more great shredding and some relentless drumming before we get a primal hardcore roar that really signals that the song is off and running and that Heathcliff are angry. They're fed up with the what society has become, with everybody seemingly looking out for themselves and not caring about everyone else. This is another empowering songs that really has me wanting to help make the world a better place. There's a really powerful verse where lead singer Flash mentions wanting to change the world to make it better for his young daughter. This was particularly moving.

The penultimate song is named Conjuring. Conjuring explores Heathcliff's most hardcore sound with some really raw screaming vocals that you might normally find in some death metal. They work very well in contrast to the higher, more melodic vocals that we've grown used to throughout #chilloutradio and it does a fantastic job of freshening up the sound of the album. It also helps to keep the intensity up as we're beginning to reach the end of the album. That is until we reach the end of the track and it morphs into a reggae song! This was quite the surprise but a fun way to finish after all that face melting. #chilloutradio finishes with the song Guacamole and features Bart from another German skate punk band – Straightline. It's basically a super fast punk rock song listing the ingredients of guacamole. Kind of random but a serious amount of fun.

I really did enjoy this album. Heathcliff could quickly become the hot new thing in the European skate punk scene – a scene that always seems to be going from strength to strength. If they can build from this serious impressive debut, I can see a lot of the big players in the genre taking notice of them.

Stream and download #chilloutradio here: https://heathcliff.bandcamp.com/releases

Like Heathcliff here: https://www.facebook.com/heathcliffskatepunk/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Album Review: Enjoy The Rain by Swan Prince (by Lee Morton)

Having formed late in 2017, Redditch four piece Swan Prince can already boast an impressive resume of live shows, from playing Polite Riot Festival in 2018, to supporting Teenage Bottlerocket and The Bombpops. Now, looking to build on the premise and excitement of last year’s debut EP, they are back with another EP, “Enjoy The Rain”, which was released on 15th March via Hell Hath No Fury Records.

The EP opens with “Glass Half Empty” and what sounds like a choir harmonising together before the choppy guitar strokes kick in along with some pummelling drums. But it’s vocalist/guitarist Rachel’s distinctive voice that really shines though, the heavy atmospheric quality to it giving the track an almost haunted feel which carries across the whole EP and fits perfectly with the lyrical themes that cover the wide spectrum of mental health.

“SWL” (which from the lyrics I’m going to guess at stands for Strongly Worded Letter) follows and had me humming along pretty quickly with a sound that, to my ears anyway, reminded me of The Swellers. Melodies, singalong moments and a couple of little breakdowns all combine to create a real gem of a track that is instant, memorable and possibly my favourite track on the EP as Rachel charts a relationship breakdown.

Whilst the first two tracks are slightly more sombre sounding, it’s from this point on that I felt a greater urgency to both the music and the delivery. Faster and more in your face from the start, “The Shadows” provides a welcome change of pace as skate-punk guitar riffs compete with the throbbing bass lines. “In Your Dreams” keeps up the tempo from “The Shadows”, but also sounds too similar. It’s still a competent song but at this point in the EP I was hoping for a little more experimentation and variety of sound, just something different to really show their musical development.

The EP ends on a high though with the energetic “Dangerous Weather”. Competing with “SWL” as my favourite track, it’s carried along by pounding drum beats as Rachel battles her mental demons. The quiet-loud, stop-start dynamics of the music and vocals add to the picture of mental health and works great on this track, showing great potential and excitement for future releases.

By taking a pinch of pop-punk, skate-punk and emo Swan Prince have crafted their own unique sound and path which, with a little more development of their sound, is sure to make for an exciting debut album.

Stream and download Enjoy The Rain here: https://swanprince.bandcamp.com/album/enjoy-the-rain-2

Buy the Enjoy The Rain CD here: https://hellhathnofuryrecords.bandcamp.com/album/enjoy-the-rain

Like Swan Prince here: https://www.facebook.com/SwanPrinceBand

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Gig Review: The Burnt Tapes’ Album Launch Show at Urban Bar, London 5/4/19

The last time I was at Urban Bar in Whitechapel, London, it was one of my favourite shows ever. It was the 3rd of June 2017 for the Burnt Tapes’ launch show for the much celebrated EP Alterations. The Burnt Tapes had been a favourite live band of mine for a while but it was that show that really took them up to another level for me. On Friday the 5th of April, this year, we found ourselves back at Urban Bar getting ready to celebrate the launch of the four piece’s exceptional debut album, Never Better, and it promised to be another very special night. Like at the EP launch two years ago, their great friends Triple Sundae would be providing support along with Mixtape Saints and Laserchrist.

Laserchrist were the band chosen to start the show. Because the gig didn't begin until 8.30 it meant a decent sized crowd had already gathered by the time Laserchrist began their set. Over the past year the four piece have become one of the most exciting new bands in London, even earning themselves a slot on the line-up for last summer’s Wonk Fest. Laserchrist have this unique sound where their mix a raspy voiced style of punk rock with grunge to make something quite special. It was clear they were impressing the majority of people in the room, I just wish I had known the words as a few songs felt like they were crying out to be shouted back at the band. I expect this to be a big year for Laserchrist.

I hadn't seen Mixtape Saints in years and I think, in a way, this made me enjoy them even more than usual. A part of me had forgotten just how good they are live. Unfortunately they had to cut their set a little short due to some technical issues which meant they were slightly late getting started but that didn't stop the band putting all they had into their performance. Last time we saw Mixtape Saints they had a nice Gaslight Anthem sound, on this night it felt as if they had shed that style slightly to a more melodic pop punk sound that really made them fit in perfectly on this bill. Lead singer Sam Maloney is a terrific front person, such a solid vocal and extremely captivating to watch. Like Laserchrist before them it was clear that Mixtape Saints left a great impression on the folk in Urban Bar and I'm now looking forward to seeing them again at the New Cross Inn in May with Western Settings, Bong Mountain and a whole heap of other great acts.

You really couldn't have had a Burnt Tapes album launch show without Triple Sundae. Both bands have grown together in the London DIY scene and it's pretty clear both are destined for some big things in the next year or two. Triple Sundae have a whole host of brand new tracks for their brand new EP coming out later this year and they treated us to some early plays of them. Judging from what I've heard, I think it's pretty clear that Trip Sun are about to receive a lot of love when these songs finally get released. This was my ninth time seeing them in about two years and seeing how they seem to improve each and every time (and they started with a pretty high level) has been such a delight to see. They finished the set by playing last year’s Peace Of Mind EP in full which got a huge reaction with everyone down the front singing along to every word. Triple Sundae, as the young people say, are about to release some "fire". Get ready.

It was now time for the moment we were all really looking forward to. I looked around the now full room as Phil, Pan, Tone and Jordan were setting up and it was so lovely to see so many people who have been with the band right from the start. There were members of Resuscitators, Waco, Müg/Umlaut Records as well as their old pal Wayfairer all in attendance – I would imagine they are all so proud of the Burnt Tapes. Never Better had actually been out for a month so we have all had plenty of time to learn the words to the songs. This meant that each song they played from the album and some favourites from Alterations all received big, passionate sing-alongs. There was so much love for these songs in the room, with plenty of big fist-in-the-air moments. There was a point during the set where I stopped singing and just watched in awe with the realisation that these guys are going up another level and will no doubt be headlining plenty more of their own shows with bigger and bigger crowds. After that brief moment of thought, I went right back to singing as loudly as I could, particularly to my personal favourite song from Never Better – Dirt Roads. Never Better’s two singles of course got big reactions, both sounding incredible live and of course the now traditional set closer Things Get Weird got a raucous reaction as well. Tonight the band weren't finished there though, for a short and well deserved encore they gave us a taste of their upcoming MPF Menzingers cover set when they ran through a superb version of Casey. What a set, what a band.

I am so proud of everything these four guys have achieved so far in the Burnt Tapes. From their beginnings with Wasted History to now, the level of growth in their songwriting is just astounding. It's been an absolutely pleasure being able to witness this journey and can't wait to see where it takes them next.

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

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Top Tens: Brett's Top Ten Bands To See At Manchester Punk Festival 2019

Attending MPF with Colin, Emma, and Robyn last year was an amazing experience. It easily surpassed the hype and once it was over I knew that going to MPF 2019 would be inevitable. MPF has all of the makings of a great festival for me: good people, a cool and friendly vibe all around town, hotels/Airbnb instead of camping, a packed schedule, and no shortage of bands to see and enjoy.

The number of amazing bands on offer this year means that making a list of only ten bands to see is difficult, but it speaks to the great job the organisers have done in building a diverse festival that’s community and DIY focused, and that brings people together from around the world.

Now that the schedule is available to agonise over, some tough decisions will have to be made by most people attending so hopefully reading these CPRW lists can help sway you in one direction or another.

Here are the bands I’m most excited about seeing at MPF 2019!

The Affect Heuristic (Friday at Zombie Shack 14:50–15:20)
In March 2018, Lockjaw Records posted about a split album by Money Left To Burn and a new band called The Affect Heuristic. Upon listening, you wouldn’t say that the five songs on this split were from a newly formed band of guys from Scotland and Belgium. The songs are expertly put together, combining the energy and speed of skate punk, the aggression of hardcore, and a healthy dose of melody and technical precision. It all makes perfect sense when you look on the band’s Facebook profile at the long list of influences from all over the spectrum of independent punk, hardcore, and metal music. I’m excited to hear some new songs from these guys and hopefully there is a full album on the horizon.

After The Fall (Friday at The Union 16:20–16:50)
Since hearing their album Unkind in 2013, After The Fall have been a favourite of mine. They play music that feels like a combination of Kid Dynamite, A Wilhelm Scream, Comeback Kid, and No Trigger with a twist of their own unique delivery and style. They’ve also covered songs by 88 Fingers Louie and Kid Dynamite, so there is a lot to love about this band. Although they are painfully clashing with London (and CPRW) favourites Call Me Malcolm early on Friday, I would recommend the excellent live show put on by the Albany, NY band over almost anything. Seeing them play to a packed crowd in Tampa at Pre-fest 4 was a highlight of the entire Fest 15 experience for me and if you were able to see them at MPF 2017 then you will understand the amount of passion and energy that the band puts into every moment on stage.

The Arteries (Friday at Gorilla 17:00–17:35)
I had originally picked A Vulture Wake as one of my must-see bands at MPF but sadly they announced in February the cancellation of their UK/EU tour, which meant I had to pick another band to write about. The MPF line-up is pretty stacked with many awesome bands so choosing just one is not an easy task. Luckily, Robyn hinted at The Arteries a few weeks ago and on first listen I immediately thought that they sounded like a perfect Fest band, and then found out that we actually missed their set at Fest 10. The Arteries manage to blend their metal and punk influences with ease into a cohesive and unique package filled with punchy bass lines, guitar flourishes, interesting melodies, and plenty of sing/shout along moments.

Consumed (Friday at The Union 20:10–21:00)
Consumed have never been a band that I’ve really noticed. Although a few songs from some early Fat Wreck compilation CDs have stuck with me over the years, it feels like the band never really got the attention and recognition they deserved here in South Africa and the band’s break up in 2003 wouldn’t have made anything easier. Consumed reformed in 2015 but only caught my attention again with the release of their new EP A Decade Of No last year. Over the years, Consumed were able to refine their sound and songwriting while never straying too far away from the unpretentious punk sound that so many fell in love with, and their latest EP is a natural progression fitting in with the rest of their catalogue. The live show should be filled with heaps of thrash-metal headbanging moments mixed in with the circle-pit inducing melodies of classic skate punk.

88 Fingers Louie (Friday at The Union 21:20–22:30)
The early 2000s was a formative period for my music taste and life in general. RPM had been released by Rise Against and I needed more. I learned that the band was formed by 2 members of 88 Fingers Louie and it took about a day to download some songs off of Back On The Streets from some dodgy peer-to-peer service provider, but it was well worth the wait. After being in and out of the spotlight for a few years, the band reformed and returned in 2017, releasing the acclaimed Thank You For Being A Friend and reminded me why I had loved them in the first place: fast paced songs with great production that will stay with you for days. 88 Fingers were able to capture the perfect balance of melody and hard-hitting punk rock again, as if they had never left. For me, 88 Fingers have been on my list of absolutely-must-see bands at MPF 2019 since they were announced.

Astpai (Saturday at The Union 15:30–16:00)
When we made the decision to travel to Manchester for MPF last year, I knew that Astpai had played the festival before and was really hoping they’d be announced. As it turns out, they weren’t (which is probably for the best considering the schedule last year) but I was overjoyed when they were part of the second MPF announcement for 2019. We missed their set at Fest 10 in 2011 as they didn’t really arrive on my radar until the release of Efforts And Means the following year. For me, they are one of the most consistently good bands around. I have enjoyed every single one of their releases and I’m positive seeing the band live will be one of the highlights of my year.

Adrenalized (Saturday at Gorilla 17:50–18:30)
I arrived late to the Adrenalized party, only hearing about them in 2016 after watching some Punk Rock Holiday 1.5 videos and was immediately drawn to their style of technical punk. With the exception of their debut album, which by the band’s own admission is “quite far” from what they play these days (it’s still pretty good in my opinion), the Adrenalized catalogue is all fast, all technical, and all great. Fast melodic hardcore is my favourite kind of punk and Adrenalized do it really, really well. The band has continued to raise the bar with their latest album, Operation Exodus, which I’m sure will make my top 10 for 2019. Having watched countless videos of them playing at festivals around Europe for a few years now, I’m very excited to finally get to see them in person at MPF. Get to the venue a little earlier to catch Fair Do’s as well; they made my list last year and definitely lived up to my expectations.

March (Sunday at Gorilla 17:00–17:30)
One of the best things about MPF is the number of new bands I get to hear about through each announcement. One of the many, many bands that I have been introduced to this year is March, a four-piece from the Netherlands who play punk infused with a little bit of rock ’n’ roll, reminding me of early Distillers but with a more melodic sound. March’s debut album Stay Put is full of big riffs and hard-hitting songs with just the right amount of dirt that are sure to get you moving in the pit, in your car, or sitting in your desk chair. A new single ‘Fear of Roses’ was released in January 2019 and it provides a small taste of the band’s forthcoming second album. I’ve only watched some YouTube videos of the band live so it will be good to get to see the band rock out in person.

Main Line 10 (Sunday at Zombie Shack 18:10–18:45)
A massive thank you to Sarah at Shout Louder for bringing Main Line 10 to my attention when their album The Fox made her top 10 of 2018. The four-piece from Spain play fast, melodic hardcore punk, drawing inspiration from the likes of Mute, Belvedere, and This Is A Standoff with positive and uplifting lyrics and melodies that will get you dancing and playing the air-instrument of your choice in no time. If their live performance is half as tight as their recordings I can only prepare to have my mind blown by the quality musicianship that will be on stage. They’re one of the bands that I never thought I’d get the chance to see live, so I was incredibly stoked to see them on the third MPF announcement.

Not On Tour (Sunday at Gorilla 21:00–22:00)
I’ll shamefully admit that the only reason I know about Not On Tour is because their 2015 album Bad Habits was produced by Yotam Ben Horin of Useless ID. I loved the well-executed balance of pop-punk and aggressive skate punk I heard on that album and quickly added the rest of their catalogue to my library. Considering all but one of their songs don’t break the two-minute mark, the band’s three albums and eight-song EP don’t take long to play through but the songs are so good, featuring catchy melodies, perfectly placed variations, and great production that will make you want to put it on repeat and listen multiple times. Not On Tour have a new album, Growing Pains, which will be out a few weeks before MPF and I’m excited to see them blaze through their hour-long set including some new songs as well as some older favourites.

This top ten was written by Brett Coomer.