Friday, 30 August 2019

CPRW Playlist: August 2019

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Lee, Omar, Richard, Robyn, myself and our special guest Summers from Eat Defeat have been listening to this August.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Guilty Pleasures

Recently I put a post on the CPRW Facebook page asking for suggestions for top ten lists that people would like to see. One of the suggestions that stood out was top ten guilty pleasures. That got me thinking straight away about what songs I could pick. It also got me thinking about what actually counts as a ‘guilty pleasure’? I guess most people will think of a guilty pleasure as something that they like but might not be considered cool in their social circle and are a little embarrassed to admit to liking it. For me, I will happily argue with anyone (unless you're much bigger than me) that the songs on my list are big tunes and are not in the slightest bit cringey or embarrassing. So this is more of a list of songs that people might not expect me to enjoy but I actually love.

Narrowing this list down to ten actually proved to be pretty difficult, as it turns out I enjoy a lot of songs that people might construe as a guilty pleasure, so my honourable mentions go to:

Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
Fun. – We Are Young
Jamie T – Sticks And Stones
Amy Studt – Just A Little Girl
Joe Esposito – You're The Best Around
Good Charlotte – The entirety of the Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous album
Josie And The Pussycats Soundtrack

Also, before I say this for every song, I'd love them all to be made into ska songs. They'd all work and put a big smile on my face. If anyone from Skatune Network, The Holophonics, El Topo All Stars, Codename Colin, or any other band that likes to do ska covers, is reading this then yes please.

The Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling
Where Is The Love? is without a doubt the song that thrust The Black Eyed Peas into the mainstream and lead to frontman Will.I.Am becoming the most annoying man in all of popular culture. I will forever argue that I Gotta Feeling is a better song however. I love the slow build at the start of the song (aside from the horrific auto-tuned vocals) that soon leads into such a big party banger. This is one of those songs that I could probably recite from start to finish and make myself lose all of my punk points.

Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don't Go Breaking My Heart
I'm such a sucker for a good duet. Two folk singing a song that feels like a conversation is a songwriting technique that always gives me a bit of a kick. Does that make me a bit of a nosey nelly who likes listening to other people’s conversations? I'm pretty sure that this song is the inspiration for Masked Intruder's Heart Shaped Guitar.

John Farnham – You're The Voice
In my humble opinion, this song has absolutely no right to be as good as it is. I wonder if it's one of those songs that fall into the ‘so bad it's good’ category of music. I'm sure you know the song by now. It's an 80s power ballad where John Farnham belts out some impressive vocals. Then, for some reason, around the halfway point some bagpipes come in for no apparent reason. I guess that's the 80s for you? As ridiculous as the song is, it's a pretty inspiring working class anthem about fighting for what you believe in and how everyone is really just the same.

Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
This song came out at a time when I'd completely stopped listening to any form of pop music and I'd properly found punk rock. I think I first heard this Kelly Clarkson classic due to my big sister Leanne playing it at home. It was a pop song that didn't feel massively over-produced, had a great message, didn't use sex to sell it and Kelly Clarkson has the most powerful voice. I can remember seeing her play it with a band on some TV award show and being completely blown away. This is a great pop song.

Len – Steal My Sunshine
I first heard Steal My Sunshine by Len in 1999 and it's still engrained into my tiny brain twenty years, and many bumps to the head, later. Comprised of siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo, Len were (and, according to Wikipedia, still are) an alternative rock/hip hop duo from Canada. Steal My Sunshine was their big hit and I would imagine 99% of people who have heard of Len only know this song. Paul Be Sharp assures me that the album You Can't Stop The Bum Rush is "proper genre bending" and has some "bangers" on it. My pal Dr Dave absolutely detests this song, this may be another reason it's stuck with me for so long.

Meat Loaf & Cher – Dead Ringer For Love
I grew up with a lot of Meat Loaf in my house. Bat Out Of Hell or I'd Do For Anything For Love are the obvious choices for a guilty pleasures list featuring the great man but Dead Ringer For Love featuring Cher has always been the stand out song in the Meat Loaf back catalogue for me. I love my songs to be overflowing with energy and this certainly has that. Both Mr Loaf and Cher sing their parts with such attitude – it's pretty empowering and you can't helped but get swept away with it.

My Chemical Romance – Welcome To The Black Parade
When I was first putting together this list and I decided on Welcome To The Black Parade, Emma quite quickly questioned it. Her argument was that My Chemical Romance are a bit of a guilty pleasure by themselves and that I'm Not Okay is a better song. I agreed with her but I argued that Welcome To The Black Parade is more of a guilty pleasure as it's really when My Chemical Romance got super theatrical and really stepped away from their past in the punk scene. I love how out there they went with this song. It's completely unnecessary but every time I hear it I get hooked and start doing my best emo impressions.

The OC Supertones – Supertones Strike Back
There are probably many people who say that the whole genre of ska punk is a guilty pleasure. To those people, I say boo! However, I am including one ska punk song on this list. Not because it's ska, but because it's a Christian ska punk song. As a body of music though, it's a song that I can't help but sing along to and skank myself silly, even though the lyrics are packed with things that I happen to think are complete poppy-cock. If you feel so inclined please Google the lyrics to the song. They're kind of ridiculous but my Gandalf this is a lot fun.

Scatman John – Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop)
I'd like to sit here and argue that I love this song because of the positive message about how a speech impediment shouldn't hold you back and if the Scatman can do it then so can you. If I'd have realised this when I was nine years old and having speech therapy lessons then the song would probably have been pretty inspiring. In truth, it's the chorus that caught me and was like nothing I'd, and probably anyone else, heard before. I struggle to call this a guilty pleasure as doesn't everyone love this song?

Now you've read this, I ask you to go check out some great DIY punk rock music as this is what CPRW is supposed to be about. Not this nonsense!

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Album Review: Bad Breaks by The ProblemAddictsfl

Bad Breaks is the title of the debut album by pop punk band The ProblemAddictsfl. The four piece formed in 2015 and have been working hard playing shows around America. In 2018 they signed to A Jam Records to release the EP Derailed and then released Bad Breaks in March of 2019. We're late to the party but very keen to catch up.

Bad Breaks begins with the song Cliffnotes On A Broken Heart, starting out at a high tempo that you might expect from a pop punk band. It's always important to get an album off to an exciting start and The ProblemAddictsfl definitely do that. The opening verse actually slows things down slightly before we get to a high octane chorus that is hook heavy. Following in that pop punk tradition, this is a break up song, in particularly talking about dealing with the frustration of being dumped and struggling to move on. Up next is Overdue. On my first listen of the song, my ears quickly pricked for the use of two vocalists trading lines. This is a technique bands use that I absolutely love. More bands should do this, please. Overdue is about the breakdown of a relationship and realising you've just been staying together for the sake of it. The song is an instant ear worm, you'll be singing along by your second listen of the song. The breakdown of the song is a big highlight. Off The Couch has more of a serious and moodier tone than the previous two songs. It's about being overwhelmed with life and questioning what's true and what is a lie. It's a powerful and emotional song that does a great job in making you think about things.

Hospitals & Heartbreaks is one of the shorter tracks on Bad Breaks and it brings the tempo back up. Musically the song is played at a crazy speed and at times it sounds as if the vocals are struggling to keep up. This gives the song a great deal of urgency that I really enjoyed. Punk music should be urgent. The subject of mental health is broached as the band sing about bad times happening but being thankful for the friends that stick by them. Paystubs & Papercuts was a stand out on my first listen of the album. I really enjoyed the bouncy melody that creates a brilliant background to the song and keeps it cheery and upbeat. The bass lines in particular are a real treat. The track is about spending a lot of time in and creating a lot of memories in your car. I really related to the verse talking about having friends together in your car – I personally have so many great road trip memories that I'll cherish forever. The sixth track on Bad Breaks is titled Temper Tantrums. Temper Tantrums sees The ProblemAddictsfl revert to a more serious sound. I like the switches as it stops Bad Breaks from becoming stale and shows that the band have a variety of skills in their songwriting. The song is about dealing with the thoughts you've bottled up regarding someone’s actions and eventually letting them all out. It might be some tough love or it might be just calling someone out for their bad behaviour.

Option Three brings the pace back up for a song about feeling as if whatever you try and do it never goes to plan and deciding that you might be better off alone. The ProblemAddictsfl have a real knack for writing infectious and bouncy pop punk melodies and they've done it again here. The song could be cathartic for a lot of people who might feel misanthropic or apathetic but want to improve themselves. They'll know they're not alone. Track eight is the super fun Sunday Morning Porcelain Praying. This is a fast paced song about having a big night out and suffering the next morning. I don't drink and have never had a hangover so can't really relate but it does sound like a lot of nights out my friends have had. There's a rambunctiousness about the song that I found really endearing and had me wanting to get involved in singing along as passionately as I can – even though I can't relate. The penultimate song is a cover of the Ben E. King classic Stand By Me, also covered by punk veterans Pennywise and The Ducky Boys. This is one of the poppiest songs on Bad Breaks and, to be honest, it took me a little while to get into it. As the song progresses and it gets more intense, I began to get into it a bit more. The original is a classic so it's always interesting to hear a different take on it. Bad Breaks finishes with the forty-five second long All Up To Me. Finishing an album with such a short song was an interesting decision and it kind of left me wanting more rather than the album feeling finished. It is a positive pick me up song however, about taking responsibility for yourself and your life and not waiting for things to be handed to you. That's a great message to finish the album with.

Bad Breaks is a great introduction to The ProblemAddictsfl if you're unaware of them. It's pop punk that doesn't break the typical pop punk formula too much but it's a lot of fun and for the most part very relatable and I'm sure a lot of people will really enjoy this album. I look forward to seeing how the band progresses and seeing them grow. There's so much potential in this band.

Stream and download Bad Breaks here:

Like The ProblemAddictsfl here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Album Review: The Palatines/Destroy Orbison Split

The Palatines 2018 album Death From Below was one of my favourites of the year. The Texan's infectious take on the pop punk genre makes me smile each and every time I listen to it. In February (yes, this is a very late review) The Palatines teamed up with fellow Texan's Destroy Orbison to release a four song split.

The Palatines have the first two songs on the split. The first being Oldage which we were lucky enough to feature on our fifth anniversary compilation earlier in the year. As you might have guessed, the song is about getting older and slowly losing your mind. The song explodes out of the blocks and gives you a huge jolt of energy immediately. I said when I reviewed Death From Below last year that The Palatines make me think of a cross between Face To Face and Teenage Bottlerocket, this thought remains true here – combining that 90s So Cal punk sound with modern pop punk music to incredible effect. It's powerful and it's really catchy. Exactly what I want in my pop punk. You'll Remember Me sees The Palatines venture down more of a street punk road whilst maintaining the catchy pop punk hooks. Starting off in a fast and furious manner with some much gruffer vocals, it's a raucous sing along from beginning to end as the band tell a story about a night out that was meant to go one way but disastrously went another.

Destroy Orbison's side of the split begins with the song 30 Something. Like The Palatines before them, Destroy Orison set off in blistering fashion on a song about growing up and remembering the fun times you have when you were younger. The tempo of the track remains high throughout and the vocals are delivered at quite the pace but this doesn't take away your ability to be involved with the song and to sing along. As a thirty-three year old man, I related to a lot of things mentioned in the song and do look back fondly on my twenties, that said I'm also enjoying my thirties a great amount. Destroy Orbison's second track is named Too Late and it opens with the most exquisite guitar riff that had me excited for the rest of the song. When lead singer and bassist Dan comes in you're good and warmed up to scream along with him. It sounds slightly more passionate than on 30 Something as he sings about having regrets and wanting to turn back time. The rest of the band add in plenty of whoa-oh harmonies to give the song another layer as well as giving a live crowd something to sing back at the band.

What a fantastic split we have here. I already loved The Palatines and they delivered two excellent songs but I'd never heard Destroy Orbison and now adore them. I guess that's the point of a split. You check it out for the band you know and then hopefully discover a new favourite. This is what happened for me.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Album Review: Through The Storm by Calico Street Riots (by Emma Prew)

Calico Street Riots are a six-piece folk punk band from Gravesend, Kent. The band have been going since 2008 but, due to line-up changes and other commitments, they had been on somewhat of a hiatus until more recently. Earlier this month they released some brand new music in the form of a 2-track EP titled Through The Storm – their first new music for eight years. Three tracks is usually the minimum we like to review at CPRW but I enjoyed this so much that I had to make an exception. Plus it’s been ages since I’ve reviewed any proper folk punk!

The first of the the two tracks on Through The Storm is titled A Course For Home. Within seconds of hitting play, the accordion immediately grabbed my attention. There are definitely Baltic polka vibes on offer here which, obviously, I love. The accordion melodies ease you into the song relatively gently until, after 30 seconds or so, the rest of the band comes in and bring the punk to ‘folk punk’. Keeping the listener hooked in, it’s then almost a minute before the vocals come in. With a great amount of passion on show, it is definitely worth the wait – guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Irving has a brilliant voice, as well. A Course For Home tells the story, perhaps one set long ago, of travelling home on a ship. The theme reminds me of The Dreadnoughts which is no bad thing given that they’re arguably my favourite folk punk band.

Broken Bones is the second of the two songs on the EP and it doesn’t waste any time in getting going as we’re off after a quick drumroll. This track feels more in line with Irish folk music than Baltic, not too dissimilar to The Pogues. It’s great that each song here sounds distinctly different, despite both being ‘folk punk’. Calico Street Riots are clearly a talented bunch. Violinist Laura Felstead, in particular, shows some impressive musicianship part way through Broken Bones with a fine fiddle solo. My favourite part of the song – maybe even the EP – however has to be the gang vocals enthusiastically singing the lines ‘We won't always have to run, So catch your breath before it's gone, And when I fix these broken bones, I’ll walk with you to never be alone.’ It’s just dying to be sung along to by a live audience – hopefully I can do so myself someday soon.

Both of the songs on Through The Storm are examples of folk punk at its best. Hopefully Calico Street Riots are here to stay now with more new music for us in the near future – I’m certainly keen to hear more!

Check out Through The Storm on Bandcamp and be sure to like Calico Street Riots on Facebook as well.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Gig Reivew: The Bennies at New Cross Inn, London 15/8/19

Last year Australia's superstars of ‘psychedelic reggae ska doom metal punk rock from hell’ made their first appearance at the New Cross Inn and it was obviously a match made in heaven. Unfortunately I couldn't make the show because I was off busting my Hot Water Music cherry in Camden. Ever since then I have been hoping and praying and mostly bugging the gentlemen from Be Sharp Promotions to get them back. Those guys are legends so of course they did – on a warm Thursday night in August after a mammoth tour of Europe including some festival dates at Brakrock and Punk Rock Holiday. I was super excited when the gig was announced and when I saw the entire line up I knew that the New Cross Inn would be the 'party machine.'

Paul The Kid opened up the night. This was my first time seeing the New Zealander who is now based in Fulham. Starting his set, he announced that the whole set would be non-stop bangers. He wasn't wrong. Playing a mash-up of ska, house, dance, chill and rap, I was a bit taken aback when he first took to the stage as I'm not used to watching someone perform with just a laptop but he soon won me round with a highly energetic and infectious performance. Despite the small crowd, he played a set like he was playing to a room full of people and that's always nice to see. It's clear that a lot of time and skill goes into crafting his songs and it was a very fun performance. If you're a fan of MC Lars then you should definitely check out Paul The Kid.

I feel like I may have written about Bald Head And The Dreads more than any other band this year. Watching them progress has been one of my musical highlights of the year. Each and every time I see them they feel more and more like a ‘proper band’ rather than a group of locals getting together and having a mess around. Sure, it's still a bit silly but they have some really fun and catchy songs. They're now moving on from their songs about Paul Smith and the New Cross Inn (though they did play Be Sharp Bop at the request of Skiv's Connor who was celebrating his birthday) and have added some great songs about living in London and how dog breeding is bad. Speaking of dogs – the crowd-pleasing Quit Your Job & Get A Dog is one of the catchiest songs I've heard all year and every time I hear it I'm inspired to do so. Sadly, Emma and our landlord won't allow it. Bald Head & The Dreads are fast becoming one of my favourite bands to see live. I really want them to get a release out soon – I want to listen to these songs at home!

The penultimate act of the evening was ‘the best thing since free Wi-Fi’, Eat The Evidence. Seeing these guys again was well overdue as I haven't seen them since Level Up Festival in 2018 where I accidentally got hit in my gentleman's special part whilst having a dance to them. Thankfully this didn't happen again and I managed to get through the set unharmed. What a relief! Eat The Evidence are one of the most original bands in the UK's ska punk scene. The band incorporate an accordion, a ukulele, a slide whistle and, at one point, a steel drum into their sound and it does not feel out of place or odd in the slightest. Playing some favourites such as You Only Say You Love Me When I'm High and Fruit Of The Loot as well as some newer songs such like Fruity Moroccan Couscous and Sicky Slip, Eat The Evidence do such a great job of warming up a crowd. I've seen them a handful of times now and this was up there with their best performances. They may have even upstaged The Bennies, which really takes some doing. I didn't even mind that the evening was overrunning and I would be missing a part of The Bennies set because of trains and such. If you haven't seen Eat The Evidence yet, I urge you to put it on your to do list – there aren't many better live bands out there at the moment.

Sadly the night was running about half an hour behind schedule by the time that The Bennies took to the stage which meant Emma and I would have to miss a sizeable portion of their set. That didn't prevent us making the most of the time we got with the Aussie band however. Starting their set with Party Smashers where the lyric "motherfucking London" is most appropriate (I shouted "motherfucking New Cross" but it didn't catch on), The Bennies quickly proved why they are such a beloved live band not just in London but wherever they play. Not having a new album to promote, this was more of a best of set with fan favourites from their whole catalogue of songs being played. While we were still there, we got to hear great tunes such as Detroit Rock Ciggies, Heavy Disco, My Bike and, new song, Green Mitsubishi's before sadly having to leave during Knights Forever – which we later learnt featured singer Anty doing a crowd walk. The Bennies are a fun time kind of band but you can tell how much work goes in to making what they do as good as it possibly can be. There's a professionalism about them that seems to ensure that everybody in the room has the best possible time during their set. This is why we all love them so much and there is such a buzz whenever a UK tour is announced. As we hurried off towards the train station, we were in good spirits despite the disappointment of having to leave early. The Bennies bring the party, they bring the fun and they bring the smiles. We love them.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark. Photo by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Top Tens: Evelyn from Lead Shot Hazard's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

1. Tyrannosaurus ALAN
These guys probably count as my biggest influence because, if I hadn't been to see them as many times as I had, I might not be playing the sax now. I had always liked the idea of starting to learn but it wasn't until I saw Tom with Dreads playing, and it looked like so much fun, that I had to give it a try. Their last two albums are also incredible – those punchy horn lines are to die for and I always try to recreate that punch when I'm writing horn lines for Lead Shot Hazard.

2. The Agincourt rock club, Camberley
I used to go there every week with my mates and we'd have a very (drunken) great time. It was also a place for me to discover tunes. The Adge (affectionate name) would have a ska-punk half hour and they'd always play Kicking Pigeons by [Spunge], The Impression That I Get by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sell Out by Reel Big Fish and Gainesville Rock City by Less Than Jake. Needless to say, it was great dancing around like an idiot and knocking on people's heads when 'never had to knock on wood' was sung.

3. The Plan
This is Tom (from Lead Shot Hazard)'s old band and I went to see them a lot – also doing merch for them and all the other things that band girlfriends tend to do. They're a major influence – a bit like Tyrannosaurus Alan – because they gave me an insight into just how much fun – and how much work – being in a band is. They also played with loads of bands in the scene, such as Tyrannosaurus Alan, Fandangle, Faintest Idea, Wonk Unit, Bogus Gasman, etc. so going to these shows got me more into the scene.

4. Beat The Red Light
I remember discovering BTRL like it was yesterday. When Lead Shot Hazard were starting up, Dave told me about them since they're a local band. So I downloaded their stuff from Bandcamp and OH MY GOD it blew my tiny mind. I'd never heard of marrying ska-punk and metal before. It was like tasting a Crispy Creme Biscoff doughnut for the first time. They have so much energy on stage too and their sound is unparalleled. I'm chuffed that Redeemon is carrying on the legacy.

5. Faintest Idea
These guys have mastered the art of the catchy horn riff. More often than not, I'll get one of their songs in my head because they're just so damn catchy. Also, those dance moves that the horn section do (i.e. me, as well, when I'm depping for them) are great fun – probably one of the reasons we now have dance moves for Lead Shot Hazard.

6. Fandangle
So these guys influenced my teenage years quite a bit – my sister was the tour manager for them and would put on a yearly ska-punk all dayer at The Camden Underworld, which I always went to. So I got to see Fandangle quite a lot. Again, their energy on stage is great fun. Their songs are awesome – check out their album Fly Away, which is an oldie but a very good goodie. Again, super catchy horn lines!

7. The Junk
The songs these guys play really resonate with me since their tracks are so powerful and the sax in them always blows me away. There's an urgency to their stuff that I've always strived to recreate when writing my horn lines (I don't think I've ever quite managed it) and the balance of heaviness and ska-y-ness is great.

8. Atrocity Solution
I discovered these guys at around the same time I discovered Beat The Red Light, as they came up as a similar artist. These guys have an album called Lost Remedies and it's the only album that I really enjoy listening to from start to finish, in order (I'm usually a shuffle fan). There's something in the throaty, growly vocals and the inclusion of a cello (so emotive and original) that moves me to the point where I have to keep listening. For our songs, we usually tend to write in minor keys and, for me, this is an influence for that.

9. Metallica
When I was 14, I got into all the alternative stuff and Korn, Slipknot and Metallica were the first bands I got into. The first album I bought was Ride The Lightning by Metallica and it's incredible. One song which really got me through some tough times in my teenage years was Fade To Black, which I'm now trying to recreate on the sax (one day!). The melancholic tones and emotional guitar solos – with the amazing build-up at the end – really makes for a great song. You can hear some of that influence coming through in some of the tracks on our new album, Fires To Find Our Friends.

10. Popes of Chillitown
I also remember discovering Wisdom Teeth like it was yesterday, I was at work and looking for something new to listen to. I'd heard of these guys before but we hadn't played with them yet – I believe I was searching for them as we were going to play on a line up with them. I listened to it on a loop and was hooked. It's still one of my absolute favourites. They're amazing live, too – the energy that Tarzan has is hard to beat and the polish with which they deliver a set is stunning. Again, as with most of the bands on my influence list, their horn lines are incredible, and when I dep for Popes, I struggle to do them justice.

Lead Shot Hazard's album, Fires To Find Our Friends, comes out on the 25th August and you can preview a couple of songs from it on now.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Album Review: Wait by Pardon Us (by Emma Prew)

Liverpudlian pop punk three-piece Pardon Us are a band I’m very excited about this year. The trio, consisting of Morgan on guitar, Alex on bass and Gabby on drums, are set to release their debut album Wait on 13th September with the help of Everything Sucks Music (UK), Johann’s Face Records (USA) and Fixing A Hole (Japan). Here at CPRW, we’ve been lucky enough to have had an early listen of the album and, let’s just say, you’re in for a treat next month!

Wait kicks off with Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves. I want to say that this is a short and fast song but I could say that about almost all of the tracks on this album (the whole thing is only 30 minutes long) – such is the way with Pardon Us. It’s hard to work out the exact lyrics as Morgan has quite a gruff (and Northern) voice but Beyond The Valley Of The Wolves is about growing up, moving out and ‘moving on’ from certain aspects of your life. Very relatable. I also have to give a special mention to the lovely little guitar solo that mimics the chorus melody and plays out the song. Counting Backwards is up next and it opens with more of an indie-style technical riff showcasing a different side to the Pardon Us sound. This style also contrasts nicely with Morgan’s aforementioned gruffness when the vocals come in for the first verse. Counting Backwards is quite an angry sounding song about feeling like you want to be able to make a change in your life, or to the world in general, but always feeling like you’re going backwards. The chorus is a particular highlight as Alex and Gabby harmonise certain lines – ‘“Wanna count for something”, But you’re counting backwards, And in the end you’re left with fucking nout, “Wanna count on something”, But the only thing you’re really sure of, Is your own self-doubt.’

There’s a stop-start feel to the opening melodies of the third track, Brains, which quickly grabs your attention. This is a particularly raw-sounding track that is equal parts angry and passionate. It’s short, repetitive and darn catchy but, if you ask me, that’s the perfect combination for a successful pop punk song. Again, it’s difficult for me to quote the exact lyrics but I’m fairly sure this song is about how Daily Mail readers, and other folks of a similar ilk, are lacking in brains. Except I’m sure Pardon Us put it more eloquently than that. Thankful is the first song to go over 3 minutes in length, at 3:21. The track also features a longer introduction before the vocals come in which allows the trio to showcase their excellent musicianship. With similar themes to the first song on the album, Thankful is about making the most of the life you have and being thankful for not having it so bad. A succinct, catchy chorus of ‘Gotta make the most of it.’ really drives the message home. There are also some really lovely subtle harmonies courtesy of Gabby which compliment Morgan’s more gravelly tones well.

For the next song, It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day, I must admit I had to Google who Phil Ochs is/was. He was an American protest folk singer in the 60s and 70s it turns out, which makes perfect sense for this song. It’s about wondering where the years have gone and why nothing has changed – ‘And we’re trying to keep hope but everything’s so hopeless, Believing in the sunshine, Although this life is cold and grey’. Is it worth the effort to express your political opinions? Will it make any difference? It’s probably something we’ve all often pondered. It’s A Phil Ochs Kind Of Day is a real highlight of the album for sure (and I’ve made a mental note to listen to Phil Ochs myself when I’ve finished writing this review). Half Empty somehow immediately feels louder and faster than everything that came before it. It’s an instant head-nodder of a tune about feeling negative and pessimistic but trying to look on the bright side. The lyrics ‘You’ll soon understand, That the half empty glass in your hand, Is better than no glass at all’ is certainly a nice way to put it. It could always be much worse, sometimes you just need reminding that. There’s also some more really great harmonies and exchanges of vocals from both Alex and Gabby, alongside Morgan, giving the song an inclusive feel.

I said Half Empty was fast but If The Black Shirt Fits is almost skate punk style in the delivery of its introduction – with shreddyness to boot. It does slow a little when the vocals come in however and becomes a perhaps more recognisably Pardon Us sound. This song is about how the word ‘fascist’ isn’t used lightly but it is a suitable word to describe certain folk in this country – ‘Fascist is such an ugly word, But if the black shirt fits’. These people think they’re speaking for us all with their views but they sure as hell are not. The technical and fast paced riffage returns for the outro and the vocals verge on screaming – justified anger I'd say, given the subject matter. Inconvenient Reminder continues the themes of the previous track but in a slower paced yet super catchy way. The song is a response to people who use the phrase ‘Go home’ to mean leave the country. Inconvenient Reminder is about standing up for people that have been through all kinds of hell just to find a safe place to live –‘You’re already home, “So don’t you believe them”’. Who are we to decide who does and doesn’t deserve to be safe? This is the lead single from the album – so you can listen to it right now – and due to its catchy nature, as well as the important message, I can certainly see why this song was chosen.

The penultimate song of Wait comes in the form of Signing Out. An upbeat introduction kicks the song off and has your head nodding once more before things slow down for the first verse. Signing Out is another highly relatable song about losing touch with people as you get older but still cherishing the memories you have with them – ‘Everyone I ever cared about is signing out.’ I really enjoyed the muted melody of the verse which leads into a huge chorus – complete with more of those wonderful harmonies I enjoyed earlier on in the album. Bringing the album to a close is We Aren’t The Champions and what an ending this is! Gone are the political themes and instead we have a song about being in a DIY touring band in the UK. Here Pardon Us admit that they perhaps aren’t the best band in the scene but they have a great time anyway. This is reflected throughout the song, as it’s all so much fun. I love singing along to the chorus and I imagine a live audience would too. ‘And if we don’t break down, Then we’ll see you soon in your shit town, ’Cause we aren’t the champions, And we’re not even runners up, We can’t much play but we’ll do our damnedest anyway…’

I was really looking forward to this album and it did not disappoint one bit. If succinct, catchy and relatable pop punk songs, perhaps with an underlying political message, are your thing then Wait is just the album for you.

You can pre-order Wait on Bandcamp now and like Pardon Us on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Album Review: Fires To Find Our Friends by Lead Shot Hazard

Long running London ska punk band Lead Shot Hazard are gearing up for the release of their debut album on August 25th. Titled Fires To Find Our Friends, it features twelve brand new songs from the West London based six-piece. Lead Shot Hazard have become a fixture in the UK DIY ska punk scene since their formation in 2011. It seems as if it's been a bit of a bumpy road to get to where they are today, with a number of line up changes, but now they seem settled and ready to take the next steps as a band. I was fortunate to have a bit of a preview of some of the songs from Fires To Find Our Friends at Level Up Festival in July and this really wet my appetite for what I think could be Lead Shot Hazard's best release to date.

Jokers, Then Kings & Queens opens the album in a big way. The three part horn explosion from Eve Crabb (saxophone), Jess Pook (saxophone) and Abi Harrison (trombone) really makes the song sound huge before it even really gets started. When the vocals come in from bass player Dave Collis I'm quickly reminded of Jake from Capdown, there's a great amount of attitude here. Something that really sets Lead Shot Hazard apart from many of their contemporaries is their use of two main vocalists and when guitarist Tom Crabb adds his vocals during the track the intensity is really upped. The second track is titled Chase This Down. Again, this track opens with some divine horn lines that will get you skanking very quickly. It's an upbeat, positive song about going after your dreams before it's too late. The energy in the song is superb. Different vocals spread throughout the track with gang vocals being a particular highlight. Hacky Sack? Let's Have A Rebellion begins with some crunching guitar and bass before switching things up, LSH instantly getting you to get those knees up with a bouncy ska riff. The song is about the confusion and frustration surrounding Brexit and the complete mess it's made of the UK. The section in the song where the whole band sing "whoa-oh, let's have a rebellion" over and over again is certainly going to receive a big reaction from a live crowd.

Off Beat On starts out as a more summery ska punk song that will quickly have you smiling along. The horns give it so much energy at the start before the vocals come in. The whole track is delivered in a fun and bouncy style that you would expect from great ska punk music. As the track progresses, the tempo gradually picks up which builds up the energy more and more and eventually finishes as more of a fast paced punk track than a ska number. There's a few nice mentions of various bands in the scene spread throughout the song that really kept my attention as I was trying to find them all. The fifth song is named Red/Blue/Black and is about the media spinning the public all manner of lies no matter their political alignment. This is a bit of a protest song, telling the listener that the time has come to end this and we need to somehow make a change. Gone is the upbeat sound that I've become accustomed to, instead we have a more serious tone. This more serious tone continues on When The Daylight Ends. The tempo is dropped considerably on this song, showing a side of Lead Shot Hazard that you don't often see. It's a song about dealing with grief and hiding your emotions. It's quite a sad song but extremely moving. I can see it being one that a lot of people will relate to. I was also really impressed with horns on the song. Normally they add the energy and generally make a song seem happier but on When The Daylight Ends this isn't the case as they add a great deal of emotion and mood to the track.

The Best Horse Doesn't Win This Race is another slower Lead Shot Hazard tune. It feels extremely retrospective as they look at how things that happened in the past affect them today. The song builds as it progresses with the inclusion of gang vocals and harmonies, including some exquisite ones during the song’s finale that I can't wait to witness live. They're pretty special. The eighth song Rinse, Repeat is one of Fires To Find Our Friends catchiest songs. I loved how the band all slowly join in at the beginning with the bass, then guitar, then drums and finally the horns getting involved and playing along to the same riff. It almost sounds as if Lead Shot Hazard are just jamming together as they reminisce about old times. The old times that they are talking about on this occasion are those times when you were younger and you would party harder than you wanted to just to fit in. Ultimately I think it's a song about realising how important the friendships and relationships you made in your youth are to you now. Braggin' Rights was one of the stand out tracks on my first listen of the album. Combining a carnival style ska with some straight punk rock – it's a high octane ride that will leave you feeling breathless. This is one of those songs that will have you skanking one second and then moshing like your life depends on it the next. Zandro Morreale really impresses on the final stretch on the song with some superb drumming that wouldn't be out of place on a metal album.

Track number ten is about the me, me, me culture that litters much of the first world. Titled The Self-Obsessed this is Fires To Find Our Friends’ The Science Of Selling Yourself Short. It's a slower, poppier ska tune that will get a crowd swaying and singing along passionately. To add to the sing-along nature of the song, some lovely "whoa-ohs" are harmonised during the song’s big ending. The horns grow and grow, adding lots of life to the song’s final section. The penultimate song is Move Your Mouth! Lead Shot Hazard pick the tempo back up here, those wonderful horns giving the track a big introduction. Tom and Dave do a nice job trading lines in the opening verse, really giving the song a whole load of energy. This is one of my favourite things that bands with two lead singers can do. The vocal trade off always sounds so cool to me. When we reach the halfway point of the song, there's a bit of a breakdown/spoken word section that leads into some more superb horn work. As this album has gone on, I've come to the conclusion that Lead Shot Hazard may have one of the best horn sections in the ska scene currently. They bring so much to every song. Last up is Between Hell And High Water. Doing that thing that all final album songs should do, it sounds huge. It builds and builds as the song goes on and completely sweeps you away in the song. Those gang vocal "whoa-ohs" that turn into some harmonies on the song’s final stretch are another that will get a massive crowd reaction and the intense shouting of "we light fires to find our friends" ensures that the album finishes in some style.

Fires To Find Our Friends was a long time in the making but it is definitely worth the wait. During the past year or two, so many of the UK's DIY ska punk bands have really stepped up and put out some superb albums. Fires To Find Our Friends can easily be spoken about alongside some of the other great ska punk albums of the last few years.

Preview two songs from the album here:

Like Lead Shot Hazard here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Album Review: Drip Fed by Youths

We had the pleasure of seeing new London pop punk band Youths play their first proper show a few weeks ago when they opened for Red City Radio at the New Cross Inn. The four piece, who consist of Max (guitar and vocals), Boz (drums), Phil (guitar) and Martin (bass), are a group of friends who are on the best side of thirty who decided to get together and play a style different to their usual genre of hardcore punk rock. In July, they released their debut EP Drip Fed. After being impressed by their live performance, I was looking forward to seeing what Youths are like on record.

Up first is the EP's title track Drip Fed. The track crashes into life immediately, seemingly slowing down in its build to Max's vocals. The vocals are, as you might expect from a pop punk band, clean and slick without much hint of the gruff. This makes the song instantly accessible to anyone listening for the first time. Drip Fed is about all of the false news stories that appear all over the internet, in particular on social media, and how easy it is to believe these stories. To add some intensity to the track, some gang vocals are added towards the end of the song as the band shout their message with some passion.

The second of the three songs is named The Ones You Need. On my first listen of the track, I felt a huge Menzingers and PUP vibe. The song starts with a guitar riff that could easily be found on the next Menzingers album when it's released. When the vocals come in, they are delivered in a wonderfully punchy way that really grabs your attention and has me wanting to sing along from the get go. They also have you wanting to listen to every single word and keen to really learn the meaning of the song. I took the song as being about the world turning into a horrible place and making sure that you have plenty of people around you who make it better. The ending of the track is a big highlight of the entire EP. Again the gang vocals come in but, rather than the intense shouting of the previous song, it's more of a melodic chant that should get a whole room singing along.

Last up is We Talk Of Travel When We're Drunk. The song is about those great nights down the pub, talking about your hopes and aspirations for the future. It's an uplifting and positive song about going for your dreams that will give you that get up and go feeling. The chorus in particular will inspire some folk, especially if you find yourself singing it with a group of friends who have similar dreams to yourself. This is the kind of pop punk track that I can see fitting perfectly into a teen movie montage from the 90s. I can already see a convertible car full of hot teenagers going on their summer road trip to find themselves. There you go Youths, there's the concept for the future music video for the song.

Drip Fed is a hugely impressive debut EP from Youths. These guys obviously have some pedigree from their previous bands which has helped with this release and it has me extremely excited to see where they go next. I don't think it will be long before I see them live again and am really looking forward to singing along to these songs.

Stream and download Drip Fed here:

Like Youths here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Column: Desert Island Punks

Podcasts are cool these days, aren't they? It seems like everyone is starting them. One new one I've really been enjoying recently is Desert Island Punks which is presented by Jake McAllister of Jake And The Jellyfish. On the podcast Jake asks the guest, a member of the punk rock scene, what five records they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island (they can't be live albums or compilations) as well as a book and a luxury item. So far on the podcast (at the time of writing) Jake has spoken Robin from Random Hand, Ren from Petrol Girls, Ryan Donovan from Red City Radio and producer Bob Cooper about what they would take. I imagine I'm not the only one who has put thought into what they would take with them. I imagine you've started thinking about it just reading this paragraph. I decided, with Jake's blessing, that I would write a column explaining what my choices would be.

Once you're done reading this, make sure you go and check out the Desert Island Punks podcast at all good podcast providing services and check out their Facebook here and Twitter here.

Lightyear – Call Of The Weasel Clan
I figure if I'm stuck on a desert island it's not only important to have good music but it's also got to be a lot of fun. Are there any bands more fun than Lightyear? I've been listening to Call Of The Weasel Clan for so many years now and I'm still hearing new things that I love. It's not only a lot of fun but it's incredibly creative and Chas Palmer-Williams was back then and still is today one of the best songwriters around. There are songs that make me want to dance (great exercise) and there are songs that make me smile (good for the mental health) and songs that are empowering (great for motivation).
Favourite track: Three Basics

Davey Dynamite – Holy Shit
Davey Dynamite is actually the only album on this list that appears on my ‘all time top five list’. It's probably number one. If you don't know, Davey Dynamite is a Chicago based folk punk artist. Holy Shit was released right at the end of 2016 and blew me away from the very first time I heard it. It's raw but not so raw that it's unlistenable. On the album, Davey touches on a lot of different political and social injustices and talks about them in a way that really gets you pumped up. Holy Shit is a really good album to get angry to and let out any frustrations you might have. If I'm stuck on an island by myself, things are going to bubble up in my mind and I'll need something to help explode on occasion.
Favourite track: Gods

Wank For Peace – Fail Forward
I feel like to survive on a desert island you need to remain pumped up and motivated. No album gets me more pumped up than Fail Forward by French punks Wank For Peace. Fail Forward is a ferocious album of fast, raspy vocal hardcore with massive choruses. I very, very rarely ever listen to hardcore music but this album has been a go to since it came out in 2014. Fail Forward will be great for keeping my cardio up as it makes me want to start a one man most pit whenever I hear it.
Favourite Track: Twelve Cheese Sticks

The Johnstones – Can't Be Trusted
In 2010 I broke my leg and that left me pretty much alone at home for a couple of months. During that time I must have listened to Can't Be Trusted by The Johnstones two or three times a day every day. Admittedly this isn't the most PC of albums and in 2019 some of the lyrics could be deemed offensive but I'm stuck all alone on this island until, I assume, I die so offending folk isn't something I need to be too worried about. The Johnstones started life as a fast ska punk band that was all about having the best time possible. As their sound progressed, they took on more of a poppier style which meant that they added some really big choruses and made the songs so much more accessible sounding. The use of three vocalists really adds to the songs, always keeping the energy really high. Every song is an earworm as well, you'll be humming songs all the time – hopefully keeping me reasonably sane.
Favourite track: Right To Say

NOFX – The Decline
Myself and some friends used to play a game called Race The Decline where we would try and get from place A to place B in less time than it takes to listen to The Decline by NOFX in full. This obviously makes this album a sensible choice for a desert island and it will increase productivity. Trying to do certain island life tasks such as building shelter in the time it takes to listen to The Decline for example. The Decline could become my new system of keeping time. I could ditch measuring time in hours, we could advance and begin to measure time in The Decline. My island could become the most forward thinking and productive place on the planet. It's a shame I will be the only one there who will be able to benefit from this new and perfect way of living life.
Favourite track: The Decline

Now for the book and the luxury item. They kind of tie in with one another. The luxury item is a drum kit. I've always wanted to learn to play the drums but have lacked the patience, the room and a sound proof room so I don't have to worry about angering anyone with the awful racket I'm guaranteed to make at the beginning. On a desert island I've got nothing but time to practice, loads of room and I'm all alone so I won't be getting on anybody's nerves. The book will be Drumming For Dummies, obviously to help me learn how to play the drums. When I originally was thinking about what great piece of literature I'd take, I was pretty stuck on what book I could read over and over again. I also thought I could perhaps try and learn a language on the island to kill time but I'm alone so who do I need to speak to? If I learn to drum it would keep me entertained during the times I'm not jamming my records!

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Top Tens: Brett’s Top Ten No Use For A Name Songs (that are not on All The Best Songs)

All The Best Songs is a No Use for a Name compilation album first released in 2007 and then again in 2016 to include songs from their (awesome) final album. It’s a great collection of songs that includes all of the band’s “hits”, showcasing the fantastic melodies, hooks, and song writing abilities of Tony Sly and the rest of the band. Best-of albums can never please everyone and every fan will have an opinion about which songs should have been included. So, with that said, this is a list of 10 songs (in no particular order) that aren’t on the compilation but that I feel should be included when considering the best songs by No Use for a Name.

PS. Choosing only 10 songs from your favourite band is no easy task but with the recent anniversary of Tony Sly’s death I thought it would be nice to give it a go in the hope that someone else out there will enjoy the playlist as much I enjoyed making and writing about it.

Lies Can't Pretend
I remember the day I first listened to More Betterness! very clearly. I was in high school, it was the holidays, and I was at one of the few CD stores that had a "punk" section and a listening station. I had only heard Leche Con Carne at the time, so I picked up More Betterness! based on that alone. I took it to the store clerk and asked if I could give it a try. Luckily the store was quiet, because I was hooked from beginning to end and happily handed over the little money I had to buy my first No Use album. Although there are a lot of fan favourites on More Betterness!, I feel that Lies Can't Pretend really showcases all of the characteristics that make the album so great. The guitar riffs in perfect harmony, the fast-paced basslines and drum beats, and Tony's just-enough-rasp vocals layered in just the right places make for a song that everyone should listen to more.

Leche Con Carne is almost entirely made up of fast and aggressive songs, but the album never gets tired or monotonous for me. This fact made putting together this list more difficult and if this were a top 15, there would be at least 2 other songs from the album on this list. Alone is one of the shortest songs on the album but it is fully satisfying, maintaining the speed and aggression of the rest of the album and at the same time providing glimpses of the more melodic direction the band would take in the future. As the penultimate song on the album, Alone also wins as being the best song to precede Exit, one of the best No Use songs and album closers ever.

Killing Time
I can't lie, when Keep Them Confused was first released I was disappointed. After all the hype of waiting for a new No Use album, I disliked the production and didn't enjoy the majority of the songs. There were a few songs that I loved immediately and to this day I feel that It's Tragic, Killing Time, and Slowly Fading Fast (spoiler alert) are a near perfect trilogy of songs. For a long time, the sequence of these three songs was the only reason I listened to the album at all. Since then, my contempt for the album has waned but my love for the three songs and Killing Time especially has never faltered. Killing Time is told from the perspective of a grieving mother who has lost her son to a meaningless war. The lyrics were very relevant at the height of the war in Iraq and the closing line of "If an angel earns its wings every time somebody dies, then today the angels black out the blue sky" is one of my favourite lines from Tony Sly ever.

No Way To Live
In the year 2005, Warren Fitzgerald and Joe Escalante of The Vandals respectively wrote and directed the film Cake Boy and released it into the world. Don’t feel bad if you've never heard of it or if you've never seen it; count yourself lucky. The soundtrack was alright though, featuring a number of songs from No Use For A Name who also play a fairly large part in the film. No Way To Live serves as the theme for the film and is thankfully MUCH BETTER than the film itself. Catchy hooks, rich basslines, loads of melody, and Hard Rock Bottom era Tony vocals make this song worth the pain and suffering of sitting through the film – or just find the soundtrack and listen to that instead.

Best Regards
After high school I moved to Australia with my dad. Leaving friends and family behind in South Africa was difficult but one of the few things that gave me solace was the fact that I could walk into a music store and find an actual punk section to browse through. Making Friends was one of the first albums I purchased during a trip into Brisbane city and after spending a few years falling in love with the likes of More Betterness! and Hard Rock Bottom, it was great to hear that No Use were tending towards a more catchy hooks and melodies, which cemented my love for the band even more. It's difficult to look past the classics like Invincible, The Answer Is Still No and the impeccable On The Outside but this list is focused on the "deeper" cuts so I thought I'd pick Best Regards although I wouldn't argue with anyone for picking a different song from the album, it's *that* good. Best Regards starts off with a classic fast punk drum beat, brings in the full band with a pick slide, and doesn't let up until the short but sweet guitar solo and the closing lyric "I hope you're happy". There are also a few small touches in between the verses, whether it's a small guitar harmony, drum fill or slight rhythm change, it’s these touches that really edged the song into this list for me.

Hard Rock Bottom (just like More Betterness!) is an album that I remember getting some hate when it was released. No Use definitely smoothed out the rough edges, Tony Sly's vocals became a little less shouty and the band fully embraced a more melodic sound. I love the production on this album; the bass is punchy and deep, the drums are perfectly balanced and Tony's vocals are so sweet to the ear. Picking a favourite song from the album is tough because if I didn't choose International You Day, I'd get an angry look from Robyn (it was the song we first danced to at our wedding) but it is already featured on All The Best Songs, so I get an excuse to pick a different song that I love and think deserves to be on this list. Although there are a bunch of really great songs to choose from, Undefeated has the speed and furious sound found in songs from previous albums but which also fits in perfectly on Hard Rock Bottom, discarding any fears from fans that the band may have lost their edge.

Don't Miss the Train
Don't Miss the Train was one of only two albums that got no love from the song selectors of All The Best Songs, probably because it (as well as Incognito) wasn't originally released by Fat Wreck. It may not have the production value that the Fat Wreck releases do, but there are still some solid songs on this album that I feel deserve some recognition. I chose Don't Miss the Train because I feel it highlights the more melodic/punk elements the band would embrace going forward within an album that has quite a lot of hardcore/metal influence. The live version featured on Live In A Dive is a great rendition; it stands up to the band’s newer material nicely and was a strong factor in me checking out No Use's older, pre-Fat Wreck material.

Slowly Fading Fast
Keep Them Confused doesn't rank in my top 3 No Use albums despite being home to some of my favourite No Use songs. It's also the only album that gets more than one song on this list because I love these songs that much. Slowly Fading Fast is one of the faster tracks on the album, with a simple chord progression that is crafted into a really catchy melody and chorus that can get stuck in my head for days. The subtle ahs in the chorus and the cool little bass riffs found throughout make the song easy to listen to over and over again (truthfully you should skip back two songs to It's Tragic, listen and repeat).

Night Of The Living Living
It would be a big mistake to compile a list of the best No Use songs without including something from The Feel Good Record Of The Year and it was a smart move by Fat Wreck to reissue All The Best Songs with some songs from the band’s final studio album. The Blasting Room has put out some of my favourite records over the last two decades and Feel Good Record is no exception. All of the songs sound great and have an energy that I felt was missing from a lot of Keep Them Confused. Night Of The Living Living has some of the beautiful symbolism that we got used to hearing from Tony as well as some interesting and tight basslines throughout the song, making it one of my favourites from the album. I think Feel Good Record was able to bring a few No Use fans out from their hiding places with songs like this one which showed that the band had found their sweet spot in the world of punk rock.

Hazardous To Yourself
The final song in this list comes from The Daily Grind EP, released way back in 1993. It’s No Use's first on Fat Wreck and the foundation of the sound the band would refine on Leche Con Carne. In 1993, I was still very busy watching TMNT so I only listened to The Daily Grind after hearing some of the older material on Live In A Dive. To be honest, all 8 songs on this EP are great examples of early 90s punk rock with a heavy Bad Religion influence and without sounding too Fat Wreck-y. I think Hazardous To Yourself best demonstrates the combination of the Bad Religion influence – with the vocal harmonies, guitar solos and Tony’s singing on some of the verses – and the band’s earlier hardcore roots, and is an indication of the kind of music No Use would become so great at playing.

This top ten was written by Brett Coomer.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Album Review: I Don't Like Sports by Screaming At Traffic (by Richard Mair)

Canada has always been known for producing sporadic punk rock greats (Grade, Cancer Bats, Propagandhi) and has become something of a hot bed in recent years for raw talented punk rockers (Pkew x3 and PUP being the obvious big names), it’s nice then to add another name to this ever growing list – Screaming at Traffic. Albeit courtesy of the UK based Little Rocket Records and, let’s face it, their roster is getting insanely good too!

I Don’t Like Sports is the debut album from the Winnipeg based foursome and, in keeping with the sounds of latter day Canadian punk rock, it’s firmly in the anthemic, fist in the air, heart on sleeve bracket... and not just that – they are damn good at doing it.

Kicking off with “They Call Me Thrillhouse”, with its spoken word verses and electrifying chorus, you instantly know that this is something special. It’s a song about angst, introversion and isolation and these themes run throughout the whole album. The fact that the verse is spoken adds to the “personal” feeling of the song. This is the inner workings of vocalist Jacques Richer’s psyche laid bare. Poignant, sombre yet defiant, it’s everything you need to get acquainted with the band. It’s about questioning living up to people’s expectations, not wanting to grow up and take responsibility. Coupled with a chorus that will lodge itself in your head, this is a true statement of intent!

As if to prove they aren’t a one trick pony, second track “FYB” ratchets it up a gear. Much faster and raw, it’s a perfect continuation of the themes laid out in its predecessor. Again it’s just instantly catchy, melodic and fun despite the dark lyrics. The guitar work in the middle third helps change the pace and it has the kind of climax that is yearning to be sung ferociously back to the band in dive bars across the globe. As a 1–2 opening double, I doubt you’ll hear much better this year.

One of the lead songs off the album “Pantomime” comes next and it’s a straight up pop punk banger with some great little guitar licks and another big chorus. It’s followed by the title track “I Don’t Like Sports”. Despite the amusing title and Aquabats-esque chorus, which on face value could be almost a pastiche, it’s a really dark song of lost love. I read an interview with Pkew x3 vocalist Mike Warne where he basically said for every two stupid lines you write the third had to be profound and vice-versa. That is exactly the approach here and it’s such a glorious, amusing, heartbreaking song as a result. It’s also an approach that works brilliantly on “Weekend Cartoons”; a song that somehow manages to transport you back to your childhood! It’s a great song to showcase drummer Stefan St. Goddards ability, as while most of the songs have a typical punk rock beat, this one has some amazing rolls and beats in it that pop and fizz with energy and inventiveness.

Both “Bitter” and “Broken Teeth” follow this clever/dumb approach. The former with its gang vocal chorus and rapid fire, breathless verses and the latter a much more subdued song with great guitar work by both Jacques and fellow vocalist/guitarist Duncan Murta; especially in the closing stages of the song. It’s also another sad song that pretty much everyone can relate to.

In true pop punk fashion, some of the songs on “I Don’t Like Sports” are reworkings of songs that appeared on earlier EP/Single releases. “Monstrosity” is one such song (alongside the aforementioned Broken Teeth) and it’s easy to understand why they would want to get it out to a wider audience via an album – it’s a proper anthem. Its huge chorus and relentless bridge make it a stand out track on the album. On a personal level, this reminds me of CPRW faves Worship This! particularly of the songs off their sophomore release Mint.

Another band that Screaming At Traffic remind me of is the now defunct Philadelphia mob The Holy Mess, with their poppy guitars, gruff vocals and ability to craft singalong songs. This really shines through on closing song “People Pay Good Money for Secrets”. Given the content, it’s a great culmination of everything that’s gone before with big whoa-ohs and a simple chorus everyone could pick up at a live show.

With I Don’t Like Sports, Screaming At Traffic have released a brilliant debut album that not only gets better, cleverer and more essential on repeated listens but endears itself to you to the point where you feel you have to tell everyone about it. Whilst it is instantly accessible and fun, it’s the nuances and craftsmanship that you appreciate the longer you spend with it. Like heavyweights of the scene such as Iron Chic, Pkew x3 and I’d argue The Menzingers to some extent, this debut should set the blueprint for what should be an exciting and enjoyable career of singalong anthems, heartfelt, endearing songs and epic live shows. Little Rocket Records certainly have the clout to get them out to a wider audience and, on this basis, you’d hope the sky is the limit!

Stream and download I Don't Like Sports here:

Like Screaming At Traffic here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Album Review: Minefield by Saving Sebastian

I first became aware of Hemel Hempstead pop punks Saving Sebastian when they played Fandangle's ten year anniversary of Fly Away at the New Cross Inn in November last year. This was a lot of the crowd’s first time seeing them and they certainly impressed many people in the room. One of them being Fandangle bassist Andy B, who they soon went on to record their latest EP Minefield with. It seems like it's been ages waiting for Minefield to come out but the time is almost upon us. Featuring four brand new tracks of fun pop punk, this could easily be many people’s summer jam.

Minefield begins with the song Hometown which we were lucky enough to feature on our fifth anniversary compilation back in June. Starting in quite a cliché way with an alarm clock before the song launches into life, it's not long until the energy that accompanies Saving Sebastian when they play live jumps out of the speakers and quickly sweeps you away. It's fast paced and is stupidly catchy. Hometown is about wanting to leave your hometown due to how mundane your life has become. It's a pretty standard topic for a pop punk band to write about but Saving Sebastian's infectious enthusiasm prevents it from sounding standard. Up next is the EP's titled track, Minefield. Slowing things down slightly, Minefield is more of a punchy song than the frantic Hometown. From the opening guitar riffs, Saving Sebastian will have you pogoing up and down. The song is about a relationship that is going wrong due to the two people both being self-obsessed but neither being able to end things. It's a more serious and mature side of Saving Sebastian that I'm really on board with.

Saving Grace is the lead single from Minefield. My first thought when I heard Saving Grace was how influenced Saving Sebastian are by old school Blink-182. It's got a very 90s pop punk feeling to it that automatically made me feel at home with the song. I grew up on this sound and it's nice to be hearing it again with one of the most promising new bands in the scene. Something that really stood out on the track was the use of co-lead vocalists Sonny and Jamie showcasing their different voices and coming together at the end of the song for a brilliant harmony at the end. This was a fantastic choice for lead single. Last up is the oddly titled The. Those wonderful dual vocals are again on display as Sonny and Jamie take turns in singing the verse and chorus before we are treated to some great layering of their combined vocals. The is perhaps more of a modern sounding pop punk style, definitely something for fans of the nu-school pop punk that the Slammy D kids love so much. Staring slowly really invites you to join in with the singing and it builds nicely to a fast paced chorus that really gets you pumped up. The track has plenty of shifts in tempo that keep you hooked throughout and it is a fine way to finish Minefield.

Pop punk in the UK is perhaps currently as popular as it has ever been. Saving Sebastian are one of the best bands in the current class of pop punk acts that I've heard in a long time. Great songs, ace musicianship, delightful vocals and just the most amount of fun.

Pre-order/stream and download Minefield here:

Like Saving Sebastian here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Album Review: Circle The Drain by Longshot Odds

Longshot Odds are a band from Columbia, South Carolina. In July they released a new six song EP named Circle The Drain on Dying Scene Records. Unfortunately I can't find out much more about the band online so may as well get stuck into the review.

Circling The Drain begins with Challenger. The track opens with a pounding drumbeat alongside a great guitar riff that quickly gives the song plenty of energy. Vocally it's a bit snottier than I was expecting given how technically proficient the opening was but it works well. I'm often put off by bands that not only play really well but have a singer who can properly sing. On Challenger, the everyman quality I enjoy in my punk rock is evident. Up next is Home which is about dealing with a traumatic experience and putting up walls. On my first listen, I really enjoyed the stop/start nature of the song with the verses being delivered in a somewhat stabby way and then the chorus being packed with melody and hooks. This is a good way to really get somebody invested into a song. The build towards the chorus and then the chorus itself had me pumped and ready to have a good shout along.

Track three is named It. It is one of the more straight forward punk rock songs on Circle The Drain. The song starts out with a decent pace and it doesn't really slow down throughout. This ensures there is plenty of energy throughout. Longshot Odds clearly have a skill in writing a big chorus because, for the third song in a row, I find myself desperate to shout along with the track. Next is the six minute long Blood And Asphalt. Blood And Asphalt has your standard skate punk opening, almost sounding lifted from any NOFX song, but then things quickly change up with a more country-style with a piano adding a whole different element to the song. As the song goes on, the sound does switch towards your more typical punk sound again before the inclusion of what I think is a Moog synthesiser adding another interesting sound. Blood And Asphalt certainly takes you on some journey.

The penultimate song is named Willoughby. On this song, Longshot Odds experiment a bit with psychobilly with the bass really driving the song on. It's also the first time on Circle The Drain where the band make use of harmonies. At times they even implement a three-part harmony that sounds just delightful. I'm such a sucker for a great harmony. Even after switching up the style again, Longshot Odds continue to fill their songs with such fantastic hooks and unbelievably catchy melodies. The final track is Movin' On. Beginning with a chunky bassline and some crashing guitars before that Moog-like instrument comes in alongside some more classic guitar gives Movin' On a very interesting start. The song relies heavily on some superb instrumentation, really showcasing just what a talented bunch of musicians Longshot Odds are. This was some way to finish the EP. It's a track that really keeps you guessing what might be coming next – you might also describe it as a punk rock prog song which is not something I'd ever expect to enjoy buy I really did on this occasion.

Circle The Drain is a fun EP that serves as a great introduction for Longshot Odds. They released a couple of EPs before this one but I feel like Circle The Drain could really be the release that opens the band up to a whole new and larger audience. Great stuff.

Stream and download Circle The Drain here:

Like Longshot Odds here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Gig Review: Descendents at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2/8/19

One of the very best things about festival season is the stacked line ups you get at shows. In early August we were treated to a ridiculously good gig, headlined by the legendary Descendents and supported by the legendary CJ Ramone playing his last ever London show as well as, probably future legends, Pears. Taking place at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in West London, we made sure to get down early to ensure we got a good spot for the entire night.

We weren't the only people to make sure that we got down early as Pears got to play to a big crowd despite it only being 7.30pm. The New Orleans four piece have been steadily making a name for themselves since the release of their debut album in 2014, with their popularity growing with second album in 2016 and a split with Direct Hit in 2017. As strong as they are on record, it's the Pears live show that really stands out. It's fast paced, it's intense and it's a lot of fun. Frontperson Zach Quinn was once described by this blog as ‘Freddy Mercury possessed by the devil’ and I still think that's a fair description as he strutted around the stage in a way only he can. It's nice seeing how Pears have progressed as a band – they've added more melody to their sound as they've grown as a band without losing any of the raw power that was found in their debut. There aren't many bands who excel on a stage like Pears do and I look forward to seeing them again.

Next to the stage was CJ Ramone. I had previously seen him play at MK11 in Milton Keynes a couple of years ago and it remains one of my favourite live sets ever. Playing a mixture of Ramones classics alongside some of his solo material, CJ proved that despite his advancing years he's certainly still got it. For the most part of his set, CJ and his band played a Ramones classic and then a CJ song. Obviously the Ramones songs got the biggest reactions but I also really enjoyed the originals. He played a host of songs from his new album, The Holy Spell, including Rock On which was about the late great Steve Soto who is most famous for his time in the Adolescents but he also played with CJ Ramone many times. Other songs from The Holy Spell included Stand Up, Blue Skies and Movin' On. Whenever I hear a band cover a Ramones song I get super excited, so to see an actual Ramone play them forever blows my mind. I fanboyed hard when those classics were played. The first two Ramones songs played were Bonzo Goes To Bitburg and Rockaway Beach which just so happen to be my two favourites. From then on we got other greats such as Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, The KKK Took My Baby Away, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Outsider and, of course, Blitzkrieg Bop, before finishing with a cover of The Ramones cover of Motorhead song R.A.M.O.N.E.S. It's an absolute pleasure to see CJ Ramone play live and I'll be forever sad this will probably be the last time. Thanks for the memories CJ.

Up next it was time for the Descendents! This was super exciting. When they last played in London we were treated to a thirty-five song set which included two encores and it was magical. We decided it would be the best idea to get as close to the front as possible (a decision that my body told me was stupid the following day) to really soak in the atmosphere. As soon as the band took to the stage and played the opening lines of Suburban Home, the crowd in Shepherd's Bush went absolutely crazy with basically the whole floor becoming one huge mosh pit. Bodies were everywhere as we sang as loudly as we could to songs such as Everything Sux, Hope, Silly Girl and I Like Food. The craziness continued throughout the set and the band seemed to really appreciate the massive reaction they were getting. We all know how the Descendents are very part time so when they do get over to the UK it's such a special thing. It seems as if the band themselves can't quite believe just how much they are still loved in London. Whether they played a deep cut like My Dad Sucks or something from newest album Hypercaffium Spazzinate such as Victim Of Me, every word was shouted back at Milo. The ninety minute set absolutely flew by and I had the absolute best time. The Descendents are an absolutely timeless band. The final six songs of Get The Time, Coffee Mug, When I Get Old, Coolidge, Thank You and Descendents was one of my favourites twenty minutes or so of music ever. When I Get Old got an extra big smile from me as earlier, on our way to the venue, I'd spotted Milo riding around the streets of Shepherd's Bush on a bike – so yes, he will still get on a bike and ride around town when he gets old. When they came back on stage for their encore, Bill came out from behind his drum kit and spoke to the crowd with a biggest smile on his face. He seemed so genuinely touched by the reception his band had received and it was so sweet and touching. We were then treated to a rare play of 'Merican which really got the crowd excited. I imagine it was one of the first songs of theirs a lot of Descendents fans around my age ever heard when it was released in 2004 so it was just lovely to finally hear it live fifteen years after its release. After one encore the band left the stage and quickly returned for one more encore – how many bands can get away with playing two encores and be loved for it?

This was a fantastic night and probably one of the best "bigger venue" gigs I've ever attended. The atmosphere was great and all three bands really pulled out all the stops.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Top Tens: Trophy Jump's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


Although we don't listen to NOFX as much as we used to, this band was definitely one of our favorites and a gateway to the kind of music we play and listen to today.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Humor from this TV show is of the chaotic and absurd variety, which we decided to implement into ours. We especially like how they speak all at once, which we also try to do as much as we can.

We all agree that Pasi are our favorite Croatian punk band. Brilliant lyrics accompanied by great melody hooks. They took the 90s Fat Wreck mould and added so many great details that it resulted in a brand new sound. Actually, it's much more than that, just have a listen.

Jeff Rosenstock
When it comes to Jeff it's not only about his awesome music projects like BTMI, Antarctigo Vespucci, his solo career etc., but also his approach to the scene and his DIY principles. Definitely a huge inspiration, both as a musician and a person.

The Beatles
What is there to say about this one? I think everyone in the band agrees that The Beatles are the most complete and well-rounded pop rock group that ever was. All of us listened to them a lot since we were kids and they made a heavy influence on our music taste as well with sound and ideas for our band. Also, a cover of "Nowhere Man" was one of the first songs Trophy Jump ever played.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtracks
When we were young teenagers, this cool game shaped our music tastes and is the reason we discovered most of the bands we listened to back in the day. Songs from NOFX, Bad Religion, Millencolin, AFI, Rise Against etc. entered our heads while we were fanatically playing the game, and they never left.

Pup came in as a breath of fresh air. Discovering their music (after years of recycling bands of similar sound), gave us the push we needed to start experimenting more with our sound. Their music opened up the door to this whole new amazing punk scene we were completely not aware of.

This band taught us how poppy you can sound and how awesome your melodies can be while still retaining a punk sound and vibe. We hear Weezer ideas in a lot of bands from the last 20 years. We
are not an exception.

Monkey Island
One of our favorite video game series ever. It most certainly shaped our aesthetics and humor. It has awesome soundtracks too.

Last but not least, we have to mention our beloved JeboTon. It's a collective of bands of various genres that we started many years ago with the purpose of mutual promotion and musical co-operation. We are super lucky and privileged to be a part of this awesome group of people where every individual is an influence and inspiration in their own way.

Like Trophy Jump here and listen to their music here.