Friday, 27 September 2019

CPRW Playlist: September 2019

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Lee, Omar, Richard, Robyn, myself and our special guest Katie from Katie MF have been listening to this September.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Top Tens: Ten Ways To Discover New Bands

Something that really baffles me is why more people aren't listening to new music. It's never been easier to find your new favourite band thanks to the Internet with social media and the abundance of music streaming platforms available. Whatever your preferred genre, there are hundreds of great new acts deserving of your attention. In so many different Facebook groups I see people only sharing music from bands that are twenty years old or complaining that there has been no good albums released this year – yes there has been, probably more than ever, if you look in the right places. This top ten piece is dedicated to sharing some of my favourite methods of discovering new bands. For a lot of people, this will probably just be a list of the obvious but I have so many people say to me "how do you find all these new bands?" so I figured it might be worth a top ten. I've probably written something similar in the past but it's a subject I feel very passionate about.

Go Into A Record Shop And Flick Through The Crates
We'll start with the most old school and most obvious one – going into a music shop and spending some time looking through the stock. Way back in the dark ages before the Internet, that's how we did it. How many albums did you buy when you were younger just because you liked the artwork? Records shops still exist and probably need your support more than ever. Pop into your local one, browse, speak to the staff – they might be able to recommend something for you. Plus, it's always nice to chat to folk about music.

Compilation Albums
Compilation albums are something I've spoken a lot about this year. It's such an obvious way of finding new bands. You buy one for a couple of bands you like and end up discovering five more great ones. Success!

Artist Recommendation
One of my favourite things about buying physical music is reading the inlay from start to finish. It's nice to read lyrics and sometimes even learn the meaning and inspiration behind the songs. I also love to read the thank you lists. I've found so many great bands through doing that. If you don't buy CDs or vinyl anymore, then check out a band’s page on Facebook or Spotify. They often have a ‘bands we like’ or ‘bands we sound like’ section – a great way of finding new acts that are similar to someone else you like.

Going To Gigs And Seeing The Supports
Another painfully obvious way to discover new bands is to go to a gig, get there for doors and check out the supports act. More often than not they will be a newer band on the scene and more often than not they'll probably be very good too. I find it painful the amount of time I go to gigs and see so many people just show up for the headliner and/or main support.

Look For Gig Listings
Maybe none of your favourite bands are playing gigs near you. I can assure you that there is a gig happening somewhere near you though. Search out your local venues, look at who's playing, listen to the bands that are playing. Go and see them. Local scenes are a building block for live music and you should always try your best to support them. It's quite satisfying to see bands build up a local fan base and then go on to perform to national audience.

Festival Line-ups
I love reading through a festival line-up and checking out bands I've never heard of before. There are so many music festivals put on all over the world. Some with only ten or so bands, some with hundreds and with line-ups typically ranging from established headline acts to plenty of up and comers. Something I like to do (which might be a bit sad) is go through the Clashfinder for The Fest in Gainesville and plan my own schedule even though I know I'm not going. Be warned though, you will find some great bands but you will be extra bummed out that you're not going!

Bandcamp Discovery
Bandcamp is, for my money, the best website on the world wide web. I can spend hours of my day in a Bandcamp black hole, jumping from one great band then finding another ten more. The discovery section on the site can keep you up to date with all the latest releases from established acts as well as brand new artists from all over the world. You can search through every conceivable genre and sort between new releases and best selling. I guarantee you will find something you love on Bandcamp. It's also the place where you can find the CPRW five year anniversary compilation.

Spotify Playlists
Spotify has played a massive hand in the way in which we listen to music. My favourite feature of Spotify is the ability to make playlists. We all love making that perfect playlist with all our favourite bands and then sharing them with folks. It's the 21st century mixtape. There now appears to be designated playlists that people create to showcase the best new music coming out in the future. Just whack a playlist on shuffle and find the stuff that strikes the biggest chord with you.

Obviously CPRW is the place to go to discover new music but there are loads of other blogs, zines and websites seriously dedicated to sharing brand new bands and music to the world. Even before I started CPRW, I would spend countless hours reading album reviews online or, before that, in magazines and checking out the featured bands.

Google Top Ten Lists
I had never thought about doing something like this before reading James Acaster's new book Perfect Sound Whatever but it's such a simple and brilliant idea. Say you fancy seeing what other people thought were the best albums of a particular year, just punch the year into Google and see what goodies it comes up with. When we come to the end of this year, it's something I'll definitely be doing.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Album Review: The Rising Sun by The House Of Flowers (by Emma Prew)

Chances are you may not have heard of The House Of Flowers. I hadn’t until I saw London-based trio The Exhausts post about it on Facebook. The House Of Flowers is a new project from Tommy Simpson, of The Exhausts, with Jake Popyura (Doe, The Exhausts) on drums and Rich Mandell (Happy Accidents) on bass, keys, organ and synth. The Rising Sun EP, released earlier this month, is the first full band music that Tommy has put out in four years and the moment I hit play on the first track I knew I was going to enjoy this.

The first of three tracks on The Rising Sun is titled Dirty Air. With acoustic guitar backed by a firm drumbeat and subtle bassline, the song has a reasonably upbeat feel to it but, of course, the lyrics tell a different story. Dirty Air is about feeling like you don’t want to go outside and instead feeling safe and comfortable in your own space. I don’t know about you but I can certainly relate. ‘And I’m comfortable stuck in this rut, With every window painted shut, And every door locked tight, I’m staying in tonight.’ The Dead Of Night is up next and here The House Of Flowers take us on quite a journey. There’s a great sense of storytelling throughout as Tommy sings of running away from his fears and anxieties but having them catch up to him eventually. As with Dirty Air, the melody and pace is fairly upbeat but the lyrics are pretty dark – ‘But I can’t sleep without picturing my death, And wondering how long I’ve got left, I can’t sleep without picturing my death, And wondering how long I’ve got left’ It’s great to hear the the inclusion of the keys (or synth or organ or all of the above, I’m not sure) here. The third song is Last Night’s Clothes. Beginning with gentle and sombre-sounding acoustic guitar, I was wondering if this was going to be an entirely acoustic song. After the first verse however, the full band comes in for the chorus – ‘And it’s alright as long as no one knows, That I’m still wearing last night’s clothes.’ I imagine it could be a rousing singalong at a live show but for now I’m just happy to sing along myself. It’s really great.

There’s a distinct theme of dealing with anxiety, and mental health problems in general, throughout the EP and the honesty within the songs is wonderful and comforting to hear. The Rising Sun is a great little EP. Check it out!

You can stream and download The Rising Sun on Bandcamp and like The House Of Flowers on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Album Review: The Yodees by The Yodees

Brazilian Ramonescore band The Yodees dropped their debut album earlier this month. Released by OutLoud Records, a label that's fast becoming my go-to place for the best in Ramonescore pop punk, it features eight tracks from the Curitiba based four piece. The band, which consists of Fernando Yudi (vocals and guitar), Neto Hog (vocals and bass), Bruno Bera (lead guitar) and Leandro Seco (drums), are influenced by bands such as Chixdiggit!, The Riverdales, The Huntingtons and, of course, The Ramones. This was one I was guaranteed to love.

The self titled album begin with the song Better Without Love. This song sets out the stall for what to expect from the whole album – mid-tempo melodic pop with plenty of hooks and harmonies. The track is about wanting to get out of a relationship that's run its course and deciding you'd be better off by yourself. Void In My Heart also talks about the topic of break ups. On this occasion, it's from the perspective of the person who wants to stay together. I loved how The Yodees decided to order these tracks one after the other. Letting you feel the emotions from both sides of the situation immediately after each other. Loony sees the band pick the tempo up for this more traditional Ramonescore track – it even begins with a cry of "1, 2, 3, 4!" The band present some snottier pop punk vocals for the first time on the album, giving The Yodees a different sound that will keep it sounding fresh. Loony sticks with the subject of girls, this time warning a friend to stay clear of someone because you know they're trouble. The fourth song is titled The Vitamin Shoppe Girl. The pace comes down and the cleaner and more melodic vocals return. The track starts slowly with Seco's drums opening things up and getting my shoulders shaking. It's a cheerful song about having a crush on the girl who works at the vitamin shop. This is a really sweet and lovely pop song.

Lost My Valentine continues with the slower paced melodic pop punk. There's also a bit of a classic rock 'n' roll feel to the song which offered something a bit different. This was the first time on the album that both of The Yodees vocalists sang a verse. The contrast in their vocals gives the song a new element that's not featured yet on the album. Lost My Valentine is about putting on a brave face after you've been dumped. Up next is Second Chances, a song about getting another opportunity to get a relationship right. It sounds like there is a lot of hope in the song and a willingness to be better. The whole tone of the song is so uplifting, it put a smile on my face. The penultimate song on the album is titled Everybody Is Growing Up (But Me). Stepping away from the many stages of a relationship, The Yodees go back to the fast paced snotty pop punk. It's quite obviously about all your pals growing up, getting married, having kids, buying houses – all that fun stuff – and you still being stuck doing the things you did when you were younger. Here's a very relatable song and perhaps my favourite on the entire album. The placement of the song was fantastic as it gives the album that extra shot of energy before the final song, Ally. The Yodees give us one last 60s rock 'n' roll inspired pop punk sing-along. It's the kind of track where you can imagine a room full of people swaying along with the band as they sing about a prostitute that they've fallen in love with. It's a different kind of topic than I'm used to hearing in songs and the heartbreak that the singer sings with almost got to me. A fun way to finish the album.

It's no surprise, given that this is a pop punk release, that this album focuses a lot on girls and relationships. The Yodees do a great job of exploring different parts of relationships from different sides though, making it more original and thoughtful than most other albums. As a pure pop album goes, this is one I really enjoyed.

Stream and download The Yodees here:

Like The Yodees here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Album Review: Parched by Thirsty Guys

I discovered New Brunswick, New Jersey ska punk band Thirsty Guys when checking out Bad Time Records’ online store after falling in love with Omnigone's debut LP No Faith. A record immediately caught my eye on the page. It featured two bottles of Coca-Cola (I'm a big fan) and a microphone. This was, of course, Thirty Guys and their new album Parched. Naturally I checked it out as I'm always on the hunt for new ska punk bands and really enjoyed what I heard. Thirsty Guys are a four piece who have been releasing music since 2016 and Parched is the band’s first LP. It collects many of the singles they've already released as well as some new songs.

Parched begins with Weekend At Bernie's. This track is a great introduction to Thirsty Guys. It's a fast paced, bouncy ska punk track with plenty of upstrokes that will quickly get you moving. There's that great raspy vocal style that you might expect more from a skacore act. I love this style of vocal, it's a bit dirtier and raw but there's something about it that makes it more accessible to me. Perhaps because it's not perfect and I can't sing for beans. Later on in the track there's an introduction of what I assume is a keyboard. This instrument becomes more prominent as the album goes on. Weekend At Bernie's is a more intense sounding Thirsty Guys, while the second song Bad Chemistry has a more slow paced, summer time feel as it begins. The harsh vocal comes in and creates this fantastic contrast that you just can't ignore. There was a nice surprise after the first two verse where Liz Fackelman guests for the band and turns the song into a fantastic duet. The keys add this fantastic extra element between verses that give Thirsty Guys such a unique sound that I love more and more with each listen. Actors & Addicts sees Thirsty Guys step away from ska slightly and just play a straight up punk rock song. It's about trying to become successful in the entertainment industry and feeling exasperated with all of the rubbish that comes with it. After the intensity of the opening half of the song, Thirsty Guys do throw in some keyboard-lead ska to break the song up a bit. This keeps the song sounding fresh and unpredictable.

Not Playing Fest is a slightly angry and bitter, but also very much tongue-in-cheek, song about not being booked to play The Fest in Gainesville. On the track, Thirsty Guys lament all the different hoops it seems as if you have to jump through to get a slot on the line up. There is an erratic quality to the song that fills it with this infectious energy that it's hard not to get swept up with. I hope this track doesn't affect Thirsty Guys playing the festival in the future as they're a top, top band. After the erratic Not Playing Fest, Thirsty Guys calm things down a bit on the fifth song, Common Place. The song starts slowly, building towards the first vocals. This sets the whole tone for the song, being slightly moody and unhappy with where you are in life. The band do a fantastic job flitting around between ska and a bit of midwestern emo as if the two genres are common bedfellows. Up next is Blank Slate. Blank Slate continues to cross emo and ska to great effect. The powerful and chunky guitars, along with those passionate vocals, start the song off in an ear catching manor before switching to the ska sound for the chorus. The track is about starting again because you're not happy with the life you currently have. Hollow Days (Mfc) is a track about how special holidays such as Christmas are ruined by consumerism and capitalism and how it takes the magic away. This is a message I can really relate to, especially since I've worked in retail for more than half of my life. A really easy (and perhaps lazy) comparison of Thirsty Guys is to Bomb The Music Industry. It's most apparent on Hollow Days (Mfc).

Pretend is a slower ska/reggae/pop song. I loved the no thrills beginning of the track with the vocals starting the song immediately before Liz Fackelman returns to add some trombone to the song. It's interesting that we've gotten to the eighth track of a ska album and we're only just getting treated to some brass. What's even more interesting, I've not even noticed the lack of brass on Parched. I think this says a lot about the skill Thirsty Guys have as musicians that brass has gone unmissed. Pretend is about realising you've spent way too long on a something that isn't as real as you thought it might be and being done with it. It's one of those ska songs that's quite sad but also feels extremely upbeat. The penultimate song is titled Bullshit. Getting back to the high energy and erratic style that I love about this band, Bullshit is about calling out a liar who has filled your head with lies. I assume that the track is aimed at one person in particular but I'm sure it's relatable for a lot of people. There's a no thrills approach to the song with Thirsty Guys storming through – they'll have you dancing, skanking, moshing and singing with your fist high in the air all at different moments in the song. A lot happens in this two minutes and eight seconds. Parched finishes with the song Falling On Deaf Ears. What a fantastic way to finish what is a fantastic album. The song has quite a long build towards its first verse, really creating suspense when the vocals come in. After a ska heavy verse we get to the chorus where Thirsty Guys give us another level of intensity. Bringing the powerful emo sound back in, the chorus really grabs at you. This is one of the more intense and powerful choruses I've heard on any album in 2019 and I love it. The ending of the song, and indeed the entire album, was perfect. Calming things down musically with some ska upstrokes we still have some powerful emo style vocals shouting out "it’s not my song to sing, but it’s my fight to fight, you’re still not listening, hope you feel dead inside."

I loved Parched from start to finish. This is such a brilliantly unique album with Thirsty Guys playing around with a sound that I've not really heard before. Thirsty Guys have got to be one of the most exciting new bands on my radar for some time. This band and this record are one I will be telling everyone I know about. It's a must hear record from 2019 for certain. Go and listen to it now, please. Thanks.

Stream and download Parched here:

Like Thirsty Guys here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Book Review: Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

Today I'm writing something a bit different. I think we've maybe had two book reviews in the five year existence of CPRW. The book I'm going to attempt to write a good review of isn't really even a book on punk rock exactly, despite its title. It's a book about mental health and how music (of any genre) can help you when you're at your lowest point. The book that is the subject of my review is Perfect Sound Whatever by British comedian James Acaster.

Released in August 2019, the book – which is named after a Jeff Rosenstock song from the 2016 album Worry – looks at James' 2017 which started with a break up with his girlfriend and the dissolution of his relationship with his agent which lead to a mental breakdown. It also lead to a re-found love of modern music, something he had lost years before. In 2017, he spent the entirety of the year dedicated to finding the best albums of 2016 from every conceivable genre imaginable.

Perfect Sound Whatever is a type of diary of James' 2017 as he talks about break ups, the state of his mental and physical health, the stress of his career and how he tried to make himself better. Interlaced between these autobiographical accounts he talks about some the best albums of 2016 that he discovers. Throughout the book he manages to weave a web linking the albums to what’s going on in his personal life. This really helps with the flow of the book, it doesn't just feel as if you're reading two different books at the same time. Something I was quite thankful for.

Having watched James’ stand up routine a couple of times, as well as watching him on countless panel shows and reading his first book James Acaster's Classic Scrapes speech and writing style, I was pleased to discover that he didn't change the way he writes for the more serious book. Whilst reading it, I imagined it was him reading me this book (like one of those audiobook things I've never gotten into). It being such a personal story, it had to be written in his own unique style or it wouldn't have been so powerful to read.

It's a bravely written book but also essential. James bares all about the state of his mental health. I always have the utmost amount of respect for anyone who can speak so openly about this. Men in particular are becoming more open when talking about their mental health but there's still a lot of work to be done to help men know it's okay to talk about this stuff. The way that James talks about his issues is very much warts and all – he holds nothing back. It can be a heavy read as he lets the reader know about the deterioration of his health but it also becomes quite heart warming as his life begins to get back on track.

A big part of getting life back on track was his quest, that probably turned into a slight obsession, to discover the very best albums from 2016. Leaving no stone unturned, James read through every top album list of 2016 alongside going through sites such as Bandcamp (my personal favourite way of discovering new music) to find everything he possibly could. Whenever he had a moment spare he would be searching for that gem of an album – from 2016 of course.

The way that he writes about each discovery is fantastic, you can tell how much love he has for each and every album he features in Perfect Sound Whatever. He writes with such passion that you can't help but want to check out a lot of the albums, even if it's not a genre that you're particularly fond of. I found myself with an urge to check out hip hop and I generally can't stand the genre. It also reignited my passion for discovering new music. Something I enjoy doing but had also been doing less and less lately. During the two weeks I spent reading the book, I probably spent more time going through Bandcamp than I have in ages. This is the biggest takeaway I had from Perfect Sound Whatever – the love of finding new music, sharing it with people and just using music as a form of escapism from all the rubbish that exists in your life.

If you're a lover of music then this is a must read book. I think James does such a wonderful job of encapsulating what a powerful form of media music is and just how important it can be for your mental health.

This book review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Top Tens: Top Ten Bands That Grew On Colin

Sometimes it's not always love at first listen when you first discover a new band. You can enjoy a band but not quite understand the hype around them. Then you have this moment where something clicks and you fall in love. I'm sure that everyone reading this will have multiple bands where this is the case. Here are my top ten bands that grew on me.

Against Me!
Don't Lose Touch from Searching For A Former Clarity was the first Against Me! song I ever heard and I really didn't get the hype around this band. Then I heard Sink Florida Sink on a Rock Against Bush compilation and I still was unsure. Then I was randomly listening to a punk radio station on iTunes and We Laugh At Danger And Break All The Rules came on and I loved it. Then I went onto YouTube and discovered the video below and was hooked on this band. The raw passion and energy that the band has, as well as this incredible connection with their fans, really won me over.

Crazy Arm
The first time I ever listened to Crazy Arm was when they supported Lagwagon and Useless ID at the Islington Academy in North London. I'd gone to the gig for a night of skate punk music and didn't really understand the folk/Americana inspired punk rock band that was opening the show. I didn't see them again until a few years later when they played a Manchester Punk Festival after party and I was blown away by this incredible live band that people adored.

The Interrupters
I think I was always a little slow to get into The Interrupters because I just felt like they were only having the success that they were having because of the backing they had received from Rancid's Tim Armstrong. Then I heard 2018's Fight The Good Fight and I finally gave in and decided they were a fantastic band in their own right. Since that album was released, I've been fortunate enough to see them live a couple of times and am amazed by how tight they are.

Jaya The Cat
The first time I saw Jaya The Cat was at a Christmas all-dayer at The Underworld in Camden around 2012 time. I'd gone along for the whole day as I was a fan of all the bands that played before them but hadn't ever heard of Jaya The Cat. Because it had been a long day of fantastic bands I was exhausted by the time that Jaya The Cat took to the stage so didn't really pay them much attention and decided to leave early. What a mistake that was! The next time I saw them I got completely hooked on their boozey reggae punk and they had a fan for life.

King Prawn & Lightyear
I'm combining UK ska punk legends King Prawn and Lightyear in the same entry because I began to understand why there's so much love for these bands for the same reason. I first listened to both bands when they had both split up, after hearing they were both giants of the UK ska punk scene. I appreciated why they were so beloved but they didn't really connect with me. Eventually both bands reformed for some reunion shows so I got to see them live and, my gosh, they then hit me like a punch to the face – but a lovely, this-is-incredible punch to the face. Easily two of the best live bands to ever come out of the UK punk scene, whose influence is still apparent in the current crop of UK ska punk acts. I'm so glad they chose to reform so I could experience the love that so many people had before me.

It wasn't until I heard 2003's The War On Errorism that I really got into NOFX. Perhaps somewhat controversially, it remains my favourite NOFX album. When I was first getting into punk rock music, obviously NOFX were one of the first bands that I listened to. At the time, it just wasn't for me. I wasn't ready for the snotty vocal or the more adult subject matter. I just wanted my punk rock to be catchy and about girls. Then Errorism was released and I was drawn into the artwork and decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I made that decision as I loved it from the moment I heard opener The Separation Of Church And Skate. This was the moment I moved on from MTV pop punk and really started to become, what I thought was, a proper punk rocker.

Not On Tour
When Not On Tour were announced in a headliner slot at this year's Manchester Punk Festival I was a bit confused why. I'd seen them previously and thought they were decent but didn't think they'd really fit as a headliner. How wrong I was! They were one of many people’s, including my own, highlights from the festival. Not On Tour have become an incredible live band over the years, combining a first class musicianship with an unmatched stage charisma. There was something about their set that I couldn't look away from. I came away from that set just completely wowed.

Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man
I first became aware of Manchester's Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man after discovering TNSRecords through bands such as Faintest Idea and Stand Out Riot. They played really, really fast thrash punk, a style of music that I've never fully got on board with. Then I saw them live, again at an MPF after party. I was amazed by ROTPM. I don't think I've ever seen any band connect with a crowd in a way that I'd never witnessed before and am not likely to again. ROTPM were a one of a kind band that are dearly missed despite being broken up for less than a year.

Triple Sundae
I feel a little bad including Triple Sundae on this post as they're a band that I'm pals with but it wasn't until they released Peace Of Mind that I really got on board with them as a band. I had enjoyed their previous releases but it was Peace Of Mind that really clicked with me. It showed such a step up in all areas of the band and established them as one of the most exciting new bands in the UK. Since then they've managed to top Peace Of Mind with latest EP Glow. Things are going to be very exciting in camp Triple Sundae over the next year.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Album Review: Out Of Space by Real Sickies

I first became aware of Real Sickies late last year after coming across their album Get Well Soon. I very quickly fell in love with their fun mixture of Ramonescore pop punk and classic rock 'n' roll. Sadly, I discovered it too late in the year to review it or include it on any top ten lists. To my surprise, I didn't have to wait long for Real Sickies’ next album so I could actually give them some coverage. At the end of August this year, the five piece released a brand new album titled Out Of Space on Stomp Records.

Out Of Space begins with its title track. It starts out with some eerie science fiction style music that gradually phases in a drum beat before the Real Sickies get going. Playing some of the finest pop punk 'n' roll music around, it's hard not to immediately get swept up in their sound. Out Of Space is about that person who just won't shut up, who takes things too far and wanting them to disappear for good. Forgot To Let Go sees the Real Sickies implement some keys to their pop punk sound. They did this a lot on their previous album, Get Well Soon, and it really helped them to stand out from other bands in the pop punk genre. As I'm sure you can imagine from a Ramonescore pop punk album, the song is really catchy with the chorus in particular taking up residence in your brain very fast. The track is about not being able to move on from a relationship and the thoughts and emotions that it brings. The song’s ending shows off some fantastic harmonies from the band that I just loved. It Came From Above is a faster song which sees the band going down more of a Teenage Bottlerocket/Copyrights road of pop punk music. The song explodes into life from the beginning, really filling you with energy and hooking you in. This energy remains throughout the song. I wouldn't call in relentless but it is played at some pace. It Came From Above is about getting dumped and not being able to say goodbye in the way that you would like to. The fade out that finishes the song really lets you dwell on the song.

When Not A Lifer began I kind of expected the song to be a cover of I Wanna Be Sedated. Instead Real Sickies go into some short and stabby lyrics and have you wanting to sing along immediately. For the most part, the vocals provide the melody for the song with the guitars and drums subtlety driving the song forward with a one-two style beat. The band also use a lot of gang vocals and harmonies throughout the song that add a fantastic extra layer to the track. The fifth song is named Psycho Hopper. Sonically it's a very upbeat and cheerful song that bounces along nicely and even includes some sha-la-las that add to the overall happy sound of the track. When you listen to the lyrics though, it's actually a song that is about struggling with your mental health after being left broken hearted. I always love when a band is so upfront with their messages of mental health as it is very important to talk about it. Real Sickies manage to cover such a variety of emotions and feelings that you go through when you're at your worst. Anyone who's ever been to the doctors to talk about their mental health with relate with the lyrics to Psycho Hopper. It's Been A While sees the reintroduction of they keys and a bit of hand clapping to start the song. When the vocals come in I thought it sounded as if the band were heading down more of an indie rock path. This I enjoyed as we're getting towards the halfway point of the album and it gives Out Of Space a fresher sound. The chorus in particular is really infectious and had me singing along in no time at all.

Yeah You is a track that jumps right out of the block. Embracing the rock 'n' roll side of the Real Sickies influences, the song features some crazy good guitar solos that you might expect from the best 80s hair metal bands. The track is about love at first sight and quickly giving that person everything you have. It's a nice, happy, positive song that has some fantastic ups and downs with a superb building section that leads towards the track’s big finale. Got Me Running starts out with some great bass and drum playing that gives the album another different feel. It's a short and simple song that’s played at a great pace. It's actually a great song for running to, if you can only run for one minute and twenty four seconds. Quite obviously, the song is about running for your life. The lyrics are delivered in a punchy fashion that adds so much energy and urgency to the track, making it one of my favourites on Out Of Space. Another fairly short song is up next, Something Good sees the Real Sickies bring the pace back down for this positive song. On Something good the band talk about knowing that they will find a light at the end of the tunnel despite it feeling like there isn't a lot of good in the world. I love a positive song like this, it always warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. I can see this song being really popular at a Real Sickies show as well, particularly the bridge and final chorus – this surely gets a massive sing-along.

The tenth track is named Fallen In Love (or Fallen Love, as Spotify suggests) is yet another catchy pop punk 'n' roll number where the Real Sickies sing about love. On this occasion, they question whether or not they want to fall in love or whether or not they're wasting their time. The eleventh song is a cover of Roky Ericson's song Starry Eyes. I wasn't aware of the song before hearing the Real Sickies cover so had to go and check out the original. The band do a very good job of making the song sound like their own without straying too far from the original which I thought was very good. The cover also provides another change of pace, which is always needed on an album with so many songs. The penultimate song is titled Bye Bye. I did find the fact that the penultimate song is named Bye Bye very amusing – it's the simple things. This song encapsulates everything I love about the Real Sickies. It's a raucous sing-along that doesn't ever relent. Vocals come from all directions with the rest of the band not shy in joining the lead singer in chanting the chorus. It's the kind of song that will have you singing and dancing in equal measure with such a big smile glued to your face. Bye Bye talks about knowing that it's time to leave a relationship and feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Last up is another cover song, this time it's Top Down by Teenage Head. Real Sickies list Teenage Head as an influence and listening to the original of Top Down you can really hear why. Perhaps one of the originators of this pop punk 'n' roll sound that the band play, I thought it was great that they covered one of their favourite bands to perhaps present them to a brand new audience.

Out Of Space is another fantastic album by the Real Sickies. It's refreshing to hear a pop punk band sounding unique. That's one of the biggest complaints a lot of people have with the genre and the Real Sickies do the best job of pouring cold water on the opinion. Catchy is the best was to describe the album, fun is also another word I use, as well as brilliant.

Stream and download Out Of Space here:

Like Real Sickies here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Album Review: Hexed by The Hallingtons

I've been a big fan of Norway's The Hallingtons since hearing their 1-2-3-4 Songs EP back in October of 2017. I don't think that it's a big secret that I adore Ramonescore pop punk music and that's something The Hallingtons excel at. I enjoyed that EP so much that I asked The Hallingtons if I could use their song Library Girl on our fifth anniversary compilation album which we released back in June. In August, the three piece released a brand new six track EP, on the always brilliant Monster Zero Records, titled Hexed. I couldn't wait to have a listen to it.

Hexed starts out with Jesus Freak. Straight away The Hallingtons are flying the Ramonescore colours proudly with that familiar sound. That familiar sound should welcome any fans of the genre but who are yet to hear The Hallingtons to the club. It's very easy to get on board with. The track is about someone who appears to be a very dedicated Christian but they are being drawn away by punk rock music. Up next is the fast paced Pretty Neat. Despite the relentless speed that the song is played at, Pretty Neat is really catchy and will firmly find a place in your brain immediately – and you will soon be singing, humming or whistling to yourself so often you will annoy anyone around you. The track is about worshipping somebody who doesn't think much of you. Something every high school nerd can probably relate to. The lyric halfway through that goes "I think you're pretty sweet I think you're pretty smart, but you look down at me like you just smelled a fart" had me smiling like a ten year old.

Not My Deal sees a bit of a shift in tone. It sees The Hallingtons take on a more serious topic as they address their hatred towards fake people. The song is much moodier sounding as they ditch their fast paced fun-loving style for a more melodic sound. There's a great use of harmonies throughout Not My Deal, something the band do very well. I don't think you can be a great pop punk band without having great harmonies. On the surface the fourth song, Doo-Doo Brain, is a bit of a silly song but listening deeper to the lyrics it's actually a track attacking the idiots in the world ruining it for everyone else. As you might expect, it's another stupidly catchy song that you'll be singing uncontrollably with a stupid grin on your face. You'll probably get on some folks nerves but you'll have a great time doing it. The addition of some clapping on the song’s big ending really added another fantastic element to the song – a bit of a 60s rock 'n' roll sound.

The penultimate song is named The Witch, where the EP's title Hexed comes from. It's a spooky love song about falling in love with a witch who eventually puts a nasty spell on you. There's a lyric that goes "the witch, put a spell on me, now I am a real sickie" that I wonder if it's a nod to fellow Monster Zero Records and Real Sickies? I hope it is. This is another really fun song that will have you grinning from ear to ear. The final track on Hexed is titled She's On Repeat. This is another song that just seems like a bit of nonsense when you first listen but, when you think about it, She's On Repeat is a song about having a nagging girlfriend who spends a lot of time repeating themself for better or for worse – depends on the reason they're doing it, I suppose. I love the simplicity of the song and how it still manages to have a subject despite basically just being a long chorus and a bridge. I can't decide if this is genius or lazy songwriting but either way I loved it.

I'm a big lover of this kind of music and I am a big fan of bands that sound a bit silly on first listen but actually have so much hidden depth in their music when you really take the time to listen. The Hallingtons are one of Europe’s finest pop punk bands and should, without a doubt, be on your radar if you enjoy any form of pop punk music.

Stream and download Hexed here:

Like The Hallingtons here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Album Review: Sweet Tooth by The Hung Ups

Sweet Tooth is the new EP from Salt Lake City pop punks The Hung Ups. The three piece first came to our attention last year with their EP Insanity Plea, which was one of my favourite pop punk releases of the year. Taking 90s style snotty pop punk and bringing it to the 21st century, it was a throwback to a genre that I hadn't realised I missed as much as I did. This is why I was excited to discover that The Hung Ups had released Sweet Tooth at the beginning of August.

Sweet Tooth begins with Halloween Show. The opening of the track immediately fills you with energy and builds superbly as you wait for the vocals to come in. When they did I was kind of expecting them to explode out of my speakers, because of the tension that the intro built up, but they sadly felt a bit flat. That flatness however didn't prevent me from quickly being able to sing along. The track is about a night out at a gig on Halloween and how the narrator didn't want to go but was dragged and of course it turned out to be a good night. The message here being that sometimes it's good to force yourself to do things you don't want to as you might enjoy yourself. I'll Never Be Gone goes down the opposite route and talks about wanting to take someone out. While the vocals on Halloween Show felt slightly flat at the beginning, on I'll Never Be Gone they were full of life. I wonder if this was done on purpose given the more positive mood the singer is in at the start of the song. As snotty pop punk songs go, this is actually quite a sweet love song – not something I really expected from The Hung Ups.

Pessimist, you might be shocked to discover, is quite a negative song about being convinced the girl of your dreams doesn't want to be with you. This song, out of the four on Sweet Tooth, is the biggest throwback track, particularly with the huge amount of whoa-ohs scattered throughout. I love how accessible this song and the other three on Sweet Tooth are. I was happily singing along to all of them soon after listening to them. The final of the four songs on the EP is named Basement Dweller. Things are looking more positive for The Hung Ups here as they sing about finding a girl who loves you despite all the things about you that might be seen as a negative, such as borrowing your parents car and living in their basement. Towards the end of the track, the lyrics "Halloween is our favourite day" makes the EP seem as if it's gone full circle. This really shows some great attention to detail in the writing of the EP and the thought process in the track order – which is always so important.

I really loved the previous EP, Insanity Plea, but I think Sweet Tooth shows a huge step forward for The Hung Ups. I was reminded of bands such as Screeching Weasel and early Allister throughout and it gives me that fuzzy feeling that I don't often get from a lot of pop punk bands these days. It feels like there is a lot of heart in these songs and it's not just snotty in-your-face pop punk. A fantastic EP.

Stream and download Sweet Tooth here:

Like The Hung Ups here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Column: Why Hate When You Can Love?

Something that's really been getting on my nerves is all the negativity surrounding musicians on the Internet. It seems that all people want to do is bitch and moan about things that they don't like rather than talk about things they enjoy and I don't understand it.

Recently, a fairly controversial and polarising figure in the UK punk scene released a new album and my Twitter feed became full of hate and negativity towards them. Before going any further, I feel like I should point out the person in question has not done anything illegal to earn the ire of the punk community nor have they, as far as I'm aware, done anything to hurt anyone associated with it. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. As far as I'm aware, all they've done to offend folk is have political views that others don't agree with and come from a privileged background (something that's not their fault). I find it very interesting that a lot of people are getting annoyed by these things now that the artist in question is quite popular in the mainstream rather than when they were making music that fit in more with the punks. That's just an opinion though and not actually what the point of this column actually is.

I used to love the artist in question and some of their earlier albums were among my favourite releases of the time. Then they started to expand their sound and I slowly but surely began to fall off the wagon. But do you know what I did? It wasn't take to the Internet to complain that someone I liked is now making music that I don't with some kind of egotistical view that people should make music specifically for my tastes. What I did was go find a bunch more artists and bands that I do love that I didn't before and I moved on. I evolved.

We are lucky enough to live in a time when it has never been easier to get access to new music. Very often for free – and totally legally as well. On the line there are numerous streaming services, music websites and blogs (like the one you are reading right now), most of which have some kind of discover new music section where you can – you guessed it – discover new music! Madness! Not the band, they're old, unless you're just discovering them, then they are new music. I have an app on my phone called Level Up Life where you gain imaginary XP for doing simple tasks in your life that are designed to improve you as a person, one of those things is find a new band you love. So almost every day I set aside five or ten minutes just to find a new band that I love. Then I tell people about it. It's a nice feeling to find a band that you enjoy and then to suggest them to someone else and they then also love it. I find that really rewarding, much more rewarding than telling somebody how rubbish something is.

Social Media is such a big part of our lives now that sometimes it can be quite hard to remember what we did before it? Did we spend out spare time telling people how much we don't like something? I don't remember doing so, it seems a pretty odd concept really. I've noticed from doing CPRW, and from speaking to people, that people seem to be far more interested in reading something that is negative rather than positive. It seems as if a negative headline is more clickbait than a positive one. That's really weird. Almost everyone is guilty of it, myself included – I guess our brains are wired that way. Before social media took over our lives, this was still the case with gossip. We are all guilty of enjoying a bit of gossip now and again. Gossip was, and still is, a way of talking about news that tends to detail someones misfortune. If it was talking about something nice that's happened to someone, that's just good news and it doesn't seem to spread anywhere as quickly as gossip does.

I know there is a counter argument that people like to have a good moan or whatever else about things they don't like because it makes them feel better. I get that, getting out your frustrations about something is a great form of catharsis. I love a good rant about something. Emma loves it when I come home from work and just destroy everything that's got on my nerves or even made me angry during that day. It happens far too frequently, perhaps I need a new job? For me though, I have my rant and move on and focus on something that I like. When I have a bad day, I like to come home and focus on something I like, not something that I hate. I assume that's not just me?

In my ideal world, we would only ever talk about the music we love and champion that rather than spend time moaning about something we don't like. I know it's a very idealistic and probably quite naïve vision but it would be lovely. Surely the music scene in general, not just punk rock, would be a much better place in a community sense as well as a commercial one if everyone just focussed on what they like. My favourite conversations with people are talking about music we like – even if I don't always enjoy what the other person does, it's great to hear people talking passionately about something they love. It's also got to be better for a person's mental health. I learnt from doing some cognitive behaviour therapy a few years ago that I will feel much happier when I'm thinking about things I enjoy rather than getting annoyed by things I don't. It's common sense really!

In closing this probably quite disjointed column/article/essay/maybe-hypocritical-rant I have a small request: Next time you hear something you don't enjoy, instead of taking to the world wide web and telling everybody that something is rubbish; stop yourself, find something you like and post about that instead. I think you'll feel better about it and you'll be sharing cool music, as well as helping out one of your favourite bands.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Guilty Pleasures

As Colin’s Top Ten Guilty Pleasures list the other week was pretty popular, we’ve decided to make a series of it. (If you haven’t read Colin’s post then please do check it out here.) Guilty pleasures are always going to be subjective and I don’t doubt that you may not relate to the ten in my list, these are just ten songs that I quite like myself.

Colin ordered his list alphabetically by artist name, so I will do the same:

The All-American Rejects – Swing, Swing
Alphabetisation deems that I get my most ‘punk’ song out of the way first, albeit super poppy pop punk in my opinion. The All-American Rejects’ debut album ought to be too poppy and ‘whiney-broken-hearted-teenage-boy’ for my general tastes but I do have a soft spot for some of the songs on it. Most memorable is catchy lead single Swing, Swing. I also saw the band live ten or so years ago, which I can’t say about anything else on this list.

Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
This is the newest song on my list, having only been released last year although I did have to Google ‘Psycho song’ to actually find out who the artist was. I first heard this catchy little dance-pop tune on a Spotify playlist at work and enjoyed it more than most of the other rubbish that gets played on those sort of lists. However, I’ve been enjoying the track more recently as it is used in my Body Step exercise class!

Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Bon Jovi in general are definitely seen as a guilty pleasure to some but certainly not to Mama Prew. I grew up listening to a lot of Bon Jovi and I didn’t much like it at the time. I can appreciate them for what they are now and I’m glad my mum had a band she was passionate about. There are probably far better Bon Jovi songs than Livin’ On A Prayer – and, if I thought about it, I could probably pick one I like more – but this is the best song to scream along to. ‘Whoa-OH!’

Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You
This is the the first song I remember liking as a child. It was released in 1995 so I would have been about 4 years old. There’s just something about the tune that I liked, I think. The song does have a pretty cool effect-heavy guitar riff that runs throughout it. That’s about all I have to say on this one.

Elton John / The Lion King – Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
The Lion King is my favourite film of all time – the original 1994 film that is. The whole soundtrack is my guilty pleasure… in fact, I probably feel less guilty about it than anything else on this list. I love it so much that I even own it on vinyl. As this is a guilty pleasures list though, I’ve picked the most cheesy lovey-dovey song on the soundtrack. And, as much as I also love Elton John, it has to be the version with Timon, Pumba, Nala and Simba.

Junior Senior – Move Your Feet
Junior Senior were a Danish pop duo who, in 2003, released one of the most infectiously catchy songs of the year – of the decade even. Great music, pretty good lyrics and a brilliant 8-bit music video as well. I don’t think there will be too many people reading this who don’t think this song is a TUNE. I don’t know if Junior Senior actually released any other songs in the UK after this but sometimes the best songs are one hit wonders.

Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Justin Timberlake is an artist that I don’t ever go out of my way to listen to but if someone was to put his songs on, at work or wherever, I would secretly quite enjoy it. I guess his debut album, Justified, is the best place to start and Cry Me A River stands out to me. I don’t know, the combination of synthesisers, electric piano, beatboxing and backing vocals is just really pleasing to the ear.

Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
80s new wave/synth pop is just the best, isn’t it? I would argue that this sort of song is so widely loved as a ‘guilty pleasure’ that it’s actually not very guilty anymore. I have a particular soft spot for this song because my housemate at uni Joel and his best pal Richard used to always put the song on all of our pre-drinks playlists. Fun fact: Apparently, the song was written after Men Without Hats singer Ivan Doroschuk had been kicked out of a club for pogo dancing.

Shakira – Whenever, Wherever
Who doesn’t like panpipes in their pop songs? I sure do anyway. Shakira combined traditional Latin American and Andean music with modern pop music and created this worldwide smash hit that, at least in the mainstream, sounded unlike anything else at the time. I also like the song She Wolf because I enjoy howling along (I love wolves) but the song is more electro-pop and less original-sounding, if you ask me.

Starship – We Built This City
And finally we have more glorious 80s music, this time from US pop rock band Starship. It seems, according to Wikipedia, that this song has appeared on several ‘worst songs of all time’ lists but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. Even if part of my enjoyment comes from singing ‘We built this city on [vegan] sausage rolls!’.

So there we have it, now I’ll go back to listening to punk rock…

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Album Review: Whatever... This Sucks by The Mizzerables

Like many of my discoveries this year, I found out about The Mizzerables because I happen to follow the Bandcamp user Rojarax. I've never met the man but boy does he have some great taste in music. The Mizzerables are a Chicago based three piece pop punk band. Lead by Jeff Mizzi (formerly of Common Rider, Ten Ninety and About The Mess) and accompanied by Dave Vazzano and Korey Brisendine, The Mizzerables released a new fourteen track album named Whatever... This Sucks in August. On my first listen I was instantly hooked.

The album begins with the song Gravity which was originally released as a single before Whatever... This Sucks came out. This was a great choice as it's a great introduction to The Mizzerables, if you didn't already know them. Starting out with some buzzing guitar and a pounding drumbeat, you immediately get the sense that this is going to be a fast paced pop punk record. It's also super accessible, with the lyrics structured in short, sharp lines and a super catchy chorus that you will pick up in no time at all. As much as I enjoyed Gravity, it was the second song F.K.I. that really hooked me into the album. It's a song about life not going how you want it to and it bringing you down mentally. The line "if failure to success I'm fucking killing it" is the real stand out line that caught my attention immediately. I really like how the song is set out like a conversation with Mizzi asking the listener how they're doing after talking about what's going on in his own life. I thought this was a great way to subliminally reach out to a crowd without them even noticing. The melody of the third track, Crabby Crab, delighted me on my very first listen. It's a kind of a bouncy ska/country/folk rhythm played alongside such fast paced pop punk. That description really doesn't give it the credit it deserves. It's just a lot of fun and will get you to have a great boogie. On the track, Mizzi plays the role of a crab who isn't the most friendly of crabs to hang out with who wants to convince that special crab he likes that he's not all bad and they should spend time together.

The best way of describing the sound of Better Off Dead is if Tony Sly sang for Teenage Bottlerocket, that's what this track sounds like to me and you know what? I really love it. The song returns to the topic of mental health, with this time Mizzi singing about your brain really bringing you down to the point of you thinking it might be best to end it all. (It never is). I always mention how important it is for everyone to continue to talk about mental health and songs like this are great for people to realise they are not alone with how they're feeling and will hopefully encourage them to go and get some help. Every Once In A While sees The Mizzerables slow things down slightly with a mid-tempo pop song about loving your friend and always being there for them whatever they might be going through. This is a really sweet song that you don't hear enough of. The lyrics in the chorus are perfect – "but every once in a while you hold my hand, when the world comes down and no one understands, so from now till the end know that I'm here my friend, my love and this will never bend." The added harmonies subtlety layered in add an extra bit of emotion has Mizzi pours his heart out. The sixth song, Let's Go, is about escaping from all your mundane life and go on an adventure with your special someone. It's a slower song but feels full of optimism. It sometimes feels like a rare occurrence to find a punk song that is optimistic – that says a lot about the state of the world currently – so Let's Go is a breath of fresh air.

Still Kickin' Around looks at the topic of getting older and still being in bands and still singing about the things that are important to you even if times have perhaps moved on. This song is one that all the aging punk rockers will really relate to whether they play in bands or not. For the most part it's a relaxed performance by The Mizzerables, at times it feels like a pleasant jam between pals. There are however some fantastic bass lines and guitar solos spread throughout the song that do add an extra flavour to the track. Up next is the title track Whatever... This Sucks. This pounding pop punk track sees The Mizzerables jump back into the murky waters of mental health, particularly how depression can just make you zone out from everything in the world and how rubbish it is. Throughout the song I was really reminded of the melody from a Me First & The Gimme Gimmes cover. I can't quite put my finger on which track it is but there is definitely a feeling of familiarity about the melody. This helped me get on board with the song straight away though. Suburbia is one of my favourite songs on Whatever... This Sucks. It's a humorous song about daydreaming about living in suburbia and getting there but quickly discovering it's not for you. This is one of those songs where you can kind of picture the music video for the song, The Mizzerables do such a great job of painting a picture with their lyrics. The song is packed with great lines, my particular favourite is "We're gonna hang shit on the walls, put some hardwood in the halls, take our trash out to the curb, and say hi to Bob and Kim."

The Mizzerables bring up the pace and aggression on Reverie. On my first listen I was instantly thinking of early Descendents songs with some of the snarl in Mizzi's vocals, the prominent bass lines and the slightly out-there guitar parts. It's a short and repetitive song about trying to push down your daydreams instead of trying to achieve them. I loved this change of pace on the album, it really gave it a little boost that was perhaps needed at this stage. The pace continues on Sticks And Stones. Channelling some old school Green Day with the sound of this one, Sticks And Stones is about that person who for some reason needs to constantly cut people down with their words to feel better about themselves. I was so impressed with the drumming on this track, it doesn't sound overly complicated but the speed it's played at throughout is really impressive. It proves the theory that songs don't always have to be unnecessarily intricate to be a good show. Simple and to the point also works very well. Dancing On Your Grave has a modern pop punk sound that hooked me from the start. After a big intro, the music drops out and Mizzi's vocals come in. This was a great way to start the song as it had me ready to sing along from the start. It's fast paced and loaded with hooks that keep you listening throughout. The track is about someone who lives life to a high excess who ultimately dies even after being given plenty of warnings about their health.

The penultimate song is titled Forty Five. This bouncy track offers a completely different sound to anything else so far on Whatever... This Sucks. It's great that thirteen tracks into the album The Mizzerables are still pulling new tricks out of their hat. The melody makes Forty Five feel as much like a barroom sing-along as it does a punk rock song and I'm all about that. The song laments the current state of politics in the USA in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Sarcastically drinking toasts to all the hypocrisy that is going on currently. The fourteenth and final song on the album is Thoughts And Prayers. It's not often you come across albums that are fourteen tracks long these days, people just don't have the attention span for them. Because of this, Thoughts And Prayers needed to be an absolute banger. I can happily report that Thoughts And Prayers is a banger. A big banger in fact. The introduction builds up slowly before the genius lyrics of "pressure cooker heats up" come in. I don't know if this was done on purpose but I did get a kick out of it. The first third of the track chugs along, slowly building to a big chorus that is full of emotion. Interestingly the song adds a rapper during the song, giving the song a completely different musical element that works really well. The song really comes into its own on the big finale where the chorus and rap sections come together, harmonising with each other and sounding incredible. A fine way to finish a fine album.

Stream and download Whatever... This Sucks here:

Like The Mizzerables here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Album Review: No Faith by Omnigone

When an email appears in my inbox which suggests that a band is for fans of Link 80, Mustard Plug and Less Than Jake, you know I'm very interested. Hailing from California's East Bay, Omnigone are the new ska band on the scene but they certainly aren't strangers to it. Fronted by former Link 80 guitarist Adam Davis, Omnigone have picked up the torch that the East Bay ska legends left behind by blending ska, punk and hardcore to create the awesome debut No Faith which is released on the 13th of September by Bad Time Records. Joining Davis is former Link 80 bass player Barry Krippene and a rotating cast of musicians including Brent Friedman (We Are The Union), Steve Borth (Rx Bandits/Link 80), Justin Amans (Kitty Kat Fan Club/Obikubo Station), Jeremy Hunter (Skatune Network/We Are The Union), Bootie Pook (Beat the Red Light/The Filaments/Redeemon), Aaron Carnes (Flat Planet) and Reece Noble. With such a talented group of musicians working on this project, I had really high hopes for this one.

No Faith begins with BTC. Ensuring that the album gets off to a ferocious start, this is a less than two minutes long hardcore song. Aggression and energy pour out of this opener, ensuring that the listener is pumped up immediately for what is to come. Up next is Horizontal Aggression. When the track begins it has you wondering if it's going to be another fast hardcore song but it quickly morphs into a bouncy skacore track that will get you skanking. It is also so catchy that you'll be singing along very quickly. It's a song that calls for unity and for fighting parties to come together and stand up to the real enemy. The simple chorus works wonderfully with the message of the song, bringing everyone listening together. The third song, Keep On, sees Omnigone venture into slightly more punk rock territory. They slow things down on this infectiously positive track about not letting the world stop you from going after what you want. The chorus of "keep pushing forward, soldier on, keep your head down, keep moving on, no-one stand in your way, live for yourself today, keep your head down, keep moving on" are some inspiring lyrics. Reggae track Rather Be Alone is the only song on No Faith that gets anywhere close to being three minutes long. On this track we encounter a laid back sounding Omnigone, showcasing a completely different side of themselves. Adam Davis shows off a real versatility in his voice, sounding equally great whether he's crooning on a reggae track or screaming for a hardcore song.

Stitch In Time sees the pace brought right back up for this short ska punk banger which has the addition of horns for the first time on No Faith. This song is a lot of fun, the first half being a fun skankathon before the song gets more intense towards the end, leading you into a great mosh moment. It's about not worrying too much about being on time for things as it brings unnecessary stress to your life. Title track No Faith comes next and sees Omnigone go back to that aggressive hardcore style that started the album. They do however change things slightly by adding some horns. I really like how they're subtlety layered in rather than being completely in your face, they're used to add a building element and to add a bit of drama without going overboard. Krippene's bass playing really stands out on the song, really laying down a fantastic rhythm to break up the hoarse screaming from Davis. Six Feet Down was a stand out on my first listen of the album. There's a stripped back almost scratchy sound reminding me of early Rancid and the Suicide Machines. This makes it all the more accessible for the listener, you'll be singing along in no time at all. Six Feet Down looks at the subject of mental health, particularly struggling with the pressures of modern life and if the voices in your head will allow you to get through another day. This is one of those important mental health songs I can see a lot of people relating to and it will hopefully offer them some kind of catharsis.

The eighth song is a cover of the Vantana Row song On Wednesdays I Am Going To Make It. I had no idea who Vantana Row are but after a quick Spotify search I discovered an angry sounding electronic hip hop crossover act. Omnigone take the song and turn it into a skacore/crack rocksteady song and really make the song their own. They perfectly balance the harder side of skacore and the more melody driven crack rocksteady sound with one genre not overpowering the other. If you weren't aware that this was a cover, you would easily think this was an Omnigone original. New Way talks about the changes in what it's like being in a band now compared to what it was like twenty years ago. This is easiest the poppiest sounding song on No Faith and it's a fun walk down memory lane. It's amazing when you think about how much things must have changed for musicians in such a short space of time. Davis looks back fondly at those times but I can't help but think that touring is much easier now. When I saw the title of the tenth song, Burn It Down, I instantly knew that this would be a fast paced hardcore track. It's such a big contrast to New Way but doesn't really affect the flow of the album like you think it might. It's quite hard to make out the lyrics but I'm pretty sure I'm right to assume it's about setting fire to all the bad things that are happening and rebuilding for something better. There's such ferocity and intensity on this song, it really makes you care about the message.

Omnigone released a music video for the eleventh song Rewrite History – interesting that they decided to make a video for the shortest song on No Faith. Rewrite History is a horn driven ska punk track, it's perhaps the more traditional sounding ska punk song on the entire album. I wonder if this was the point as Davis talks about the past and how things, for better or worse, are coming around again and you can't change it. The breakdown really put a big smile on my face even if it did feel a bit tongue-in-cheek. The penultimate track is named Obituary and is a positive song about making sure you live your life to the fullest so that when you die you leave behind some fantastic stories. This song features my favourite lyrics of the entire album and perhaps the entire year – "tomorrow isn't promised, so live for today." Obituary starts out as a bouncy ska track before gradually moving into a straight up punk track. This upped intensity really adds to the passion and energy of the track. I really hope to be able to sing this song back at the band at some point. No Faith is finished by West Coast East Bay. Finishing the album how it began with a fast paced hardcore song ensures that No Faith doesn't finish with a whimper but with a bang. It starts out seriously fast before halfway through we are treated to a slower paced head banging section with some seriously hoarse growling vocals before picking the speed right back up to finish the song and the album. West Coast East Bay is an ode to the San Francisco scene that welcomes all newcomers no matter what their background might be. It sounds like a fantastic community to be involved in.

No Faith completely blew me away. I loved the fast frenzied approach to the songwriting as well as the variation in styles. No two songs in a row sound the same. This keeps the album so fresh and constantly has you guessing what will come next. Lyrically it's superb with many positive messages that will inspire and help in equal measure. This isn't an album just for ska nerds, if you love punk rock then this is an essential album for you to check out immediately.

Stream and download No Faith here:

Like Omnigone here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Album Review: In Motion by The Run Up

I don't think it's any secret that we're massive fans of The Run Up here at CPRW towers. Aside from being a fantastic band who write and perform brilliant songs, they are also among the nicest and hardest working people we've had the pleasure of meeting from the UK DIY scene. They have this wonderful ethos of going on tour and making new friends, something I think is very important for a DIY band. This is big reason that The Run Up are becoming more and more popular wherever they go. That set at Molotow Club in Hamburg during Booze Cruise Festival in June was one of the most incredible 40 minutes of music I've seen ever. Despite the mega long European tours, somehow The Run Up have also found time to write and record their second LP titled In Motion. Released on 3rd October by Real Ghost Records and Gunner Records in the UK/Europe and Get Party Records, La Escalera Records, Money Pit Music, Swamp Cabbage Records and &Vinyl Records in North America, I was super excited to be given the opportunity for an early listen.

In Motion begins with Portraits. If you've seen The Run Up live this summer then there is a good chance you've already heard this song. The Bristol five piece start In Motion in a big way here with this superb song about the ridiculous standards that all forms of social media make you think that you need to reach and how it's good to step away from it occasionally. The Run Up have always been great at finding positives in a negative scenario and they do the same here. On this occasion, it's realising that you don't have to reach these standards and just being happy with who you are. The final gang vocals are one of the most powerful moments of the entire album as the band shout "a portrait of life, that you know, we can never live up to." The following song, Grip, continues the theme of self-realisation. This time Larry sings about trying to please everyone else instead of worrying about yourself and discovering you will be happier if you do that. Musically the band take a bit of a backseat on the track, allowing Larry to belt out the verses before really coming in for the chorus. The third song, titled Your Omission, looks at how people with the closest of relationships can sometimes drift apart because of different life experiences. I'm certain this is something most people will relate to in one way or another, sometimes without even realising it. It feels like one of the more emotional Run Up tracks, the whole tone feels quite sad as they look back on good times that will never be repeated.

Starting a bit backwards with the fourth track Discretion – when I first heard it, the thing that really stood out was the amazing harmony section that sets up the song’s ending. I loved this. Discretion is about things coming to an end earlier than expected. The opening guitars from Charlie Parsons and Laurence Nelson give the song a great pop sound from the start and, when Larry gets going with his vocals, the song sounds absolutely massive. They also play around with some distortion during the track, giving an atmospheric, haunting feel. The opening of Sunsets fills the track with this infectious energy that had me excited to see where the song would go. Rather than being the fast paced banger that I was expecting, things actually slow down a little bit and morph into this huge sounding track about having fantastic experiences with your loved ones but also being mindful of their feelings about them. There's the anthemic quality that The Run Up excel at in full effect on Sunsets which will get you singing along in no time at all. Check brings us to the halfway point of In Motion. It allows (now former) drummer Harry Holder to really show off his skills during the song’s opening with a pounding drumbeat before some buzzing guitars join him and the song really starts. The drums really stand out throughout the song, providing a superb spine for the rest of the band to work off of. It's about being honest and communicating properly as it's the only way to overcome what life throws at you.

The seventh song, Sticky, was a real stand out on my first listen of In Motion. It tells the story of when the band earned the opportunity to play at a big corporate gig last winter but due to some communication errors something that should have been a huge moment for The Run Up ended with them having some sad and bitter memories. I do enjoy an autobiographical song and Larry's lyrics really do a fantastic job in telling how the evening went and how their feelings changed throughout the night. Shields Up follows this and is a song about protecting yourself mentally when you're not feeling your best mentally by putting walls up. This is another mid-tempo Run Up anthem that really comes alive during the chorus. There's some fantastic noodly guitar riffs that add some playfulness to the track and there's another superb display of drumming that keeps the song moving forward. The ninth song, Shady, is about hearing negative rumours about the band how sad it is to hear them from people that they care about. This is one of the most downhearted Run Up songs I've heard. There seems to be a feeling of understandable sadness alongside being really fed up with the situation.

Light It Up sees a more ferocious Run Up song with Larry's voice seemingly at its most gruff. But don't let that fool you, as the song is about realising how lucky you are and being there when anyone needs you. This isn't just a gimmick that The Run Up play up to, this really is the type of people they are. Real good, stand up guys who are always accepting, up for a chat and willing to help if they can. The song starts in a hard and quite intense way but, as it progresses, the song moves towards a big powerful sing-along that I can already see a crowd of passionate people adoring. The penultimate song on In Motion is titled The Run Up. The song looks into the pressures of being in a touring band and trying to keep normal relationships going when you're away from home as well as remembering to follow your own dream and not get mixed up in somebody else's. I really like this as a subject for a song, it's not one you hear regularly but it must be something a lot of bands go through. Larry sings about understanding that at some point people will have to leave the band and they'll always accept that decision. ADAC is the final song on the album, starting out with some feedback accompanying a dreamy guitar riff before the song starts proper. If you're aware of The Run Up's history as a band, then you will probably know how bad their luck with vans can be when they're on tour. This bad luck has made them stronger as a band but, more importantly, as friends. Finding companionship in the midst of stress and disaster is good for the brain. The overarching message of the song is about how if you work together through the bad times you can overcome anything. This is the kind of positive message I fully expect The Run Up to finish an album with.

Simply put, this is The Run Up's best album yet. Everything about this record seems to see the band going up another level – from the songs, to the musicianship, the vocals and the production. The Run Up have been working their socks off for a while now, building up such a passionate and loving group of fans and friends, and In Motion is going to expand that group.

Follow The Run Up on Bandcamp here:

Like The Run Up here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Column: Katie MF Scottish Tour Diary


It’s hard to write on a train. Because of the vibration, yes, but also because Yorkshire looks ridiculous in the late afternoon August sunshine.

Ben, Tobias and I have all ended up on different trains – a feat of logistical ineptitude that I’m sure will pale in comparison to the next few days. Trying to get a drunk, culture-loving bassist to a gig at the official campsite tomorrow (a mere 30 minute tram ride out of town) is going to be… challenging.

I’m writing this in the company of a can of Stella and a Kit Kat, by way of a small, private, celebration. Earlier today the lovely people at Banquet Records confirmed me as support for Frank Turner’s album release show (Friday 23rd August) and I’m giggling to/shitting myself in equal measure. For better or worse, his music and live shows are pretty much the reason I started trying to do my own – I have literally dreamed about this.

Anyway, back to now. Tobias, on his train, has found himself with nowhere to store the 25kgs of hardware he’s lugging to Scotland for us, and is therefore spending the journey camped in the vestibule:

And there was me thinking that taking a couple of days off work was commitment. Edinburgh, here we come.

Thursday evening

We arrive at Cowshed (tonight’s venue) a full 17 minutes before our scheduled soundcheck, which makes me feel slightly better about the different train debacle and, more importantly, gives me time to try and find my favourite ever piece of graffiti which I know is on the back of one of these toilet doors:

“Fuck off, Margaret”.

The band on before us are pumping out The Beatles and White Stripes covers to a group of drunk students – I almost want to apologise to them for what’s coming next.

(They left, pretty sharpish.)

We’re frantically setting up when Ben says, “It’s going to be one of those nights, isn’t it?”. “What do you mean?”, I ask, as I trip over my pedals, tip my mic stand onto my head and kick over a pint of water.


We play a surprisingly tight set to a pre-raucous crowd and receive mutually sweaty hugs afterwards from the lady in sunglasses (it’s 11pm) who did her best to be our hype-person. She eventually succeeded in cajoling the crowd to dance when we broke out the Green Light cover, and none of us are sure how to feel about that.

I get excited that someone thought we were good enough to put a whole ten pound note in the tip jar, until Lindsey (Ben’s girlfriend) informs us that it was, in fact, her. And that said tenner came from Ben’s pocket.

Total haul minus that? £12.66.

We head over the road to see if we can redistribute our wealth via some late night comedy, and instead end up being weirdly hypnotised by a man spending 10 minutes trying to throw slices of Warburton’s at a toaster. Ben is devastated when he gets a chance to step up and misses by the finest of margins.


COFFEE. Little Fitzroy on Easter Road, you have my heart. Tobias is still in bed, recovering from genuine extreme dehydration from lugging all that kit around. Remember to drink water, kids!

Four ibuprofen, one Berocca and several litres of the good stuff later, we head out to catch a lunchtime show and spend at least an hour debating the best busking pitch, next to a guy enthusiastically flyering for ‘Scooby Doo for adults’. We go get our gear and end up somewhere else entirely.

Busking is… less successful than we’d hoped. An untested rig plus hastily re-written lyrics (so many swears in my songs) mean that the confused side-eye stares outnumber the coins by at least 3:1. But Ben gets a compliment on his bass, so he’s happy.

We jump in a taxi and head to the official campsite for our second official show. We’re all a bit apprehensive about trekking to a field next to the airport in the rain… but are made to feel wanted and welcome as soon as we step through the door/flap.

It turns out that a wood-smoke filled triple tepee is an excellent venue for a punk-rock show. We play a blinder and are all pretty grateful to Tobias for bringing his makeshift kit all this way (no shells at the venue, unsurprisingly). A big finish on Lucky MF and I absolutely stack it, but everyone seems to think I made my way to the floor on purpose and I am A-OK with that.

Afterwards I accuse Ben of playing the wrong chords during Green Light. We investigate and realise that, actually, it was me. Sorry bud. To be fair, he could do with a bit of a grounding as tonight is the 3rd (15th) show in a row where he’s attracted a slew of bass (Ben) fans. It’s getting a bit ridiculous, but how do you argue with that hair:

Everything starts to descend into mania around 1am as I overhear Ben inform Tobias that “you’re sharp, you’re not big”. Context evades me. We rush to a well-reviewed late night satirical panel show but go through the wrong door and end up at something called A.C.I.D. (in Wonderland?). A comedian gets up, tells a few one liners which all bomb, so dislocates both his shoulders to get the crowd back on side.

Time to call it a night, probably.

Saturday (how is it only Saturday?)

Coffee and some much needed fruit help to dispel the A.C.I.D. haze. Today we split, as Tobias and I continue on to Dundee – sadly Ben isn’t able to join us for this part of the trip. We haven’t played a full throttle duo show before, so we make some tweaks to the setlist and laugh about how each gig so far has involved a different setup.

We say our goodbyes and head, slowly, for the station. It’s been a pretty intense couple of days so we take the opportunity to recharge with some quality headphone time on the train (Press Club’s new album and a bit of Ani DiFranco, for me).

As I watch the Scottish landscape roll past the window, I realise that in an hours time I have to do it all again. Be bigger than myself. Be happy and friendly when in reality I’m tired and grumpy. Be enthused. Energetic. Effervescent? Most of all, I have to be GOOD. I’m not worried about Tobias – he’s always good.

We arrive at Conroy’s and are made to feel SO welcome by Derrick, Hazel and the rest of the MTAT crew. Tobias is giddy at the sight of a full set of drum shells with actual microphones, and I’m excited to use my Orange micro-terror to power the 4 x 12 Marshall cab on stage. Mostly because it looks ridiculous:

It turns out I’ve brought the wrong power supply and so electrocute myself when my lips touch the mic. Several times, as we troubleshoot through trial and error. Thankfully Michael from Tragical History Tour a) knows more about currents than I do and b) has brought a proper head, so there’s no need for the improvised loo roll bandage we were all looking forward to using.

Doors open and Tobias and I are both shocked and stoked to see people actually walk through them. It’s a show headlined (for want of a better word) by an English band no-one’s heard of, put together at 10 days notice on a summer Saturday and there are people here. Testament to Derrick and the MTAT collective. Incredible.

Of course, no-one is here to see us, they’re here to get happy-sad to the excellent Buffalo Heart, lose themselves in the beauty and power of Nicola Madill’s exquisite gothic folk and to kick off the revolution with THT leading the way. And rightly so – I’d 100% rather see them than us!

Then it’s our turn. We have a quick conflab and decide to give it fucking everything and hope that makes up for the lack of low end (we can’t do anything about the lack of lustrous mane, sadly).

I wake up the next morning with bruises on both knees, half a fingernail missing and no voice. So I think we succeeded.

I can’t say thank you enough to Derrick and Hazel for putting us up, feeding us, driving us to the station and educating us with some Scottish history facts. I hope we make it back soon, full band, if only so I can be reunited with the broccoli pillow.

Last bit:

All that remains now is for us to get our gear and selves back home then get to planning the next one. I can’t quite believe that we played our first 4 shows outside London and not one to an empty room – still not sold on busking though if I’m honest.

Now there’s just the small matter of Frank Turner on Friday. Let’s fucking go.

THANK YOU Derrick, Hazel, Michael, Calum and the rest of the Dundee crew. Ben and Lindsey for letting us ruin their Fringe. Tobias and Emily for getting 25kgs of kit from South London to Dundee and back. Alex and all at EFC. Anyone who bought a t-shirt – only 38 more sales needed to break even.

Check out Katie MF on Bandcamp and Facebook.