Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas From Filthy Militia!

Our good pals in Filthy Militia have released a video for their new song Jesus. The band went along to Hermitage Works Studio to record the track. (Sound by S. Evans and N. Ridley, Vision by J. Clay)

Check out Filthy Militia here and Hermitage Works Studio here.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Brett's Top Ten Albums of 2019

2019 has been another great year of music, and once again thanks to the folks here at CPRW I have been able to discover and explore more new music than I did before. Choosing a top 10 this year proved more difficult than I expected, with so many great albums released from some of my old and new favourite bands, and I had 5-way tie for 10th for a long time. After many weeks of listening and a lot of swap outs, here is the list of my favourite albums released this year (but I reserve the right to change it if asked in future).

10. Diffuse by Waterweed

Waterweed have been around since 2003 and, although they are fairly big in Japan, they have only recently started to build a reputation in the UK. Their second full length album, Brightest, and their set at MPF 2018 were met with much deserved high acclaim. Waterweed have an original sound and their style pushes the boundaries of what you’d expect melodic hardcore to sound like. Diffuse is not only a great melodic hardcore album, but a great punk rock album in general, featuring a wide range of dynamics in which you can feel the passion and emotion of the songs being sung and screamed into your ears.

9. Railer by Lagwagon

I think if you told me last year that Lagwagon, Good Riddance, and Strung Out would all release new music this year, I would have put money on all three making my top 10 list. As it turns out, Railer by Lagwagon is the only album that made the cut. Railer may seem like more of the same tried and tested sound with super tasty bass lines, great guitar riffs, and classic Lagwagon melodies but it’s just so good that it makes you want to put it on repeat and listen over and over.

8. Operation Exodus by Adrenalized

It’s no secret that I love fast technical melodic punk rock, and Adrenalized deliver some of the best I’ve experienced. Seeing the band live at MPF was one of my highlights, the band looked like they were having so much fun on stage and the music was tight while looking effortless. I had been anticipating Operation Exodus for a long time, since it had been 6 years since their previous album and I’d been listening to it for a few years already. Operation Exodus picks up right where they left off and delivers 12 blistering tracks of technical punk with a strong sense of melody, and that all sounds difficult to play in just under 40 minutes.

7. Grow Up Trash by Problem Daughter

Thanks to Colin for bringing Problem Daughter to my attention early in the year. I pre-ordered Grow Up Trash after hearing only a few songs on Bandcamp and then had to wait a few months to collect it while attending MPF with Colin and Emma. Because of the time and the sheer amount of music we brought back from MPF, Grow Up Trash was put on the shelf almost to be forgotten, but only almost. I got into it a little while ago when I started going through 2019 releases to begin building a top 10 list. The influences are hard to pin down, the song structures are interesting but catchy, and the vocals are gruff and melodic; all the things that make for an album that is a lot of fun to listen to and won’t be so easily forgotten again.

6.  Cut & Stitch by Petrol Girls

In a CPRW review of MPF 2017, Petrol Girls are described as a shouty hardcore band with strong feminist, humanitarian, and anti-fascist views, and at that point in my life it was exactly what I was looking for. Their debut full length, Talk of Violence, was full of powerful lyrics and songs that resonated with me immediately and it became one of my most played albums. I have been eagerly waiting for their new album with anticipation since then and Cut & Stitch did not disappoint. Each song is carefully constructed and there are some moments that remind me of early Refused, post-hardcore at its best with an important and meaningful message behind every lyric. Music like this cannot be ignored.

5. Age Of Unreason by Bad Religion

There isn’t a lot I can say about Age Of Unreason, other than it’s released by Bad Religion who are still so consistently good after nearly 40 years. This was always going to be on my list considering Bad Religion, No Use For A Name, and Propagandhi are constantly trading places in my personal list of top 3 bands ever. The album is filled with topical and politically conscious lyrics, three-way vocal harmonies, and of course fast songs. So really it sounds like a Bad Religion album. After nearly 4 decades and a fair number of albums, Bad Religion have pretty much perfected their sound and are able to consistently deliver without feeling stale or outdated, and Age of Unreason is no exception.

4. Set Us Free by Reconciler

Set Us Free was an instant favourite from the moment I heard it. With hints of Smoke Or Fire and Against Me!, Reconciler are able to create a catchy and familiar Fest-core sound without coming across as generic or insincere. Considering Set Us Free is their debut full length album, I can only imagine what the future holds for Reconciler and expect them to go on to release a few more favourites of mine. Until then, I am quite happy to keep spinning Set Us Free and singing along in my car on the way to work.

3. Flash Gordon Ramsay Street by The Decline

I can’t deny my love for The Decline, they are some of the friendliest guys and have yet to release something that I don’t like. Their brand of melodic skate-punk filled with vocal harmonies and catchy melodies speaks directly to my soul and takes me to a happy place every time. Flash Gordon Ramsay Street doesn’t stray too far from The Decline’s formula but does feature a more equal share of vocal duties between Pat and Ben, some varied song compositions, as well as more personal lyrics in some songs. Flash Gordon is skate-punk of the highest quality, featuring some great guest vocals, and is littered with (even going as far as two songs made up entirely of) pop-culture references.

2. Deals, Deals, Deals! by Ramona

To save on shipping when I’m ordering from labels overseas (they’re all overseas), I try to order multiple records. So, while browsing the A-F record store I found Deals, Deals, Deals! by Ramona which was a band I’d never heard, but the name was familiar due to Colin’s review on CPRW. I listened to a few songs on Bandcamp and thought it was quite fun, so I added it to my cart and checked out. After adding it to my library, I was barely able to stop listening. Ramona are probably my favourite discovery of the year and Deals x3 is the type of album that makes you happy to still be listening to pop-punk in 2019. It’s the new benchmark of what pop-punk should sound like going forward.

1. Get It Together by MakeWar

I missed the MakeWar set at Fest 15, as well as their 2016 album Developing a Theory of Integrity, so I feel a bit late on the MakeWar train but better late than never. I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to MakeWar until their album on FatWreck Chords was announced, but after I heard Oh, Brother I knew that the album would be great. Get It Together manages to bring a diverse range of influences together to create a dynamic album that also fits perfectly within the Fat catalogue, featuring some elements of grunge and hardcore, crisp production and just plain great song writing. A lot of people may think it doesn’t measure up to their previous work, but Get It Together has been my favourite album of the year.

In addition to the albums above, there have also been some great EPs released this year. I didn’t listen to nearly enough to fairly create an entire list. Chicago’s Much The Same released Everything Is Fine on Lockjaw Records living up to all the hype built up since their 2015 return from hiatus. Cape Town’s Crossfire Collision released Deadlock and All This For Nothing (ATFN) from Pretoria gave us Reverence, proving that even though the shows are small, punk rock is still alive in South Africa.

This end of year list was written by Brett Coomer.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Robyn's Top Ten Albums of 2019

2019 has been a crazy year. I managed to find myself a full-time teaching gig and did adult things like buying a car, but I also found myself busier than I’ve ever been. I’m happy and proud that I’ve been able to handle the stress of this year, but it means that I haven’t had much opportunity to dig into new music. There just wasn’t any time to sit with slow-burning albums; anything I listened to really needed to make an immediate impression and give my mind an enjoyable place to rest.

10. Morbid Stuff by Pup

I begin this list by immediately contradicting my initial statement. This is the only album in my top ten that I didn’t instantly get into and that was ultimately able to grow on me. When I first heard Pup’s third album, it didn’t quite click and I wasn’t sure that it had the same bite as their previous offerings. But after I came back to it a few more times, I really fell for the hulking bass lines and the anthemic choruses. This album is also just well produced, delivering a high-quality mix while still maintaining Pup’s raw sass.

9. Late Bloomers by For I Am

This is one of a number of albums I came to know while driving around with Brett this year. I hadn’t listened to For I Am before getting into their latest release, but I was immediately captivated by Hanne’s vocals and the band’s powerful pop-punk sound. This album delivers punchy, melody-driven songs, with soaring choruses I can’t help belting out (badly). My favourite of these is possibly P.I.G.O.T.R.Y, which plays on a line from Orwell’s Animal Farm “We’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than the others” and makes my literary heart happy; but every track is excellent and it’s a great listen all round.

8. Never Better by Burnt Tapes

After being lucky enough to go to MPF again this year, and being unlucky enough to miss seeing Fresh again after they had to pull out, fate finally intervened with an amazing opportunity to see the Burnt Tapes perform. I wasn’t able to catch the whole set, because of other scheduling difficulties, but it was awesome to see these guys play and to see how much the crowd enjoyed their set. The band set the bar really high with their previous musical offering, Alterations, and after the release of the Never Better’s first single ‘Yuzi’, people (including me) were expecting quite a lot from this album. The guys absolutely delivered, with songs that are rich and layered, marrying grizzly vocals and big melodies. It’s great to see Burnt Tapes growing and continuing to put out great music, and I really hope I get the chance to see a full set from them soon.

7. Be Good by Off With Their Heads

I started a routine this year, where every Saturday morning I would begin the day by going for a run and having a good breakfast, picking out a few records to spin, and settling down to some work in the sunniest room of our house. I soon started picking up the new Off With Their Heads album most weekends, and so I think this album wins as the one that got the most physical spins on my turntable. Be Good moves on quickly from its folksy opening into the big, gruff punk sound that you’d expect from Ryan Young. I also like the album’s overall message of “be good, be loud” in the face of all life’s difficulties. In the end, that may be all we can do – but it may also be enough.

6. Withdraw by Fresh

Fresh are easily one of my favourite UK bands, so when they announced that they’d be releasing a new album this year I was super excited. In my review of this album, I described Fresh’s sound as being catchy and fun, while still being really sincere and engaging. I don’t know another band that marries these elements together as well as Fresh, and this album shows the band’s growth and development since they released their self-titled album in 2017. Luck has not been on my side with Fresh (I’ve missed out on seeing them twice) but I’m really hopeful that 2020 is the year I can finally sing along to these songs live.

5. Flash Gordon Ramsay Street by The Decline

I think I can go ahead and award Flash Gordon Ramsay Street as the album that Brett and I most listened to together while cruising around in his car. The Decline just don’t disappoint, and these songs are urgent, and fun, and fast, and serious, and a damn good time. The album is tight and energetic, getting in your face with the rousing vegan anthem “Brovine”, perfectly stringing together an overlapping series of pop-culture references on “Summerbruht”, and intimately remembering a friend on “Your Funeral”. With 17 songs, it’s still only 30 minutes long; so once you get to the end you’ll just want to start it all over again.

4. Deals, Deals, Deals! by Ramona

I remember the day that Brett said he thought he’d found his album of the year and then he threw on Ramona and we bopped and jived, and I thanked the universe again for sending me a husband with impeccable music taste. I love the three-piece, double-vocal style of Ramona, and the lyrics are so expressive and so singable. While Ramona sing about heartache and personal growth in ways that are very honest and relatable, you never stop having a good time. I think this is one of those albums we’ll be talking about for a long time; a future classic.

3. It’s Only Permanent by Rational Anthem

Rational Anthem’s album was a very late addition to my list, since it was only released on the 1st of November, but it’s one I fell in love with right away. Their sound reminds me a lot of The Copyrights, with a slight hint of Direct Hit!, and this album is just so fun to listen to that it kept getting bumped up on my top ten list. It’s Only Permanent also came along at the perfect time, when the year was winding down and I was ready to let loose. Every song is a total jam, and I will be dancing along to these tunes well into the new year.

2. This Could Be Okay by Cold Wrecks

I knew I had to listen to this album after reading Emma’s fantastic review of it earlier this year. I hadn’t really got into Cold Wrecks before, but I had a sense that they played the style of punk I like and I couldn’t ignore them any longer once Emma remarked that they may have taken top spot as her new favourite band. I quickly found that her affection was not misplaced, and that this would probably be one of the best albums I listened to this year. ‘Bought Right In’ is as perfect a song as you’re likely to find, but every track is top notch and the whole album just flows beautifully.

1. Get It Together by MakeWar

Get It Together by MakeWar was another late release that I knew I would just have to make space for on my top ten list, and pretty soon I realized that it was just too good not to make the top spot. It’s impressive how much I have managed to listen to this album in such a short time. From the perfect opener of ‘Hopeless Dreamers’ to the closing call to “leave your fears” and “quit wasting all your time”, there are no duds on this album. I have felt slightly sorry for anyone who has had to see me awkwardly gyrating my body every time ‘No Mas’ comes on or shimmying to the bass-heavy breakdown on ‘No Excuses’, but it’s an album that demands head bopping and body convulsions, and one that will definitely be a favourite for years to come.

This end of year list was written by Robyn Pierce.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Richard's Top Ten Albums of 2019

2019 has been one hell of a year; we’ve seen the return of established acts and some amazing debut records that have really upped the ante. Reducing this to a list of ten albums has therefore been a real tough challenge this year. Some of the returning established acts, such as Bad Religion and Refused, delivered excellent additions to their back catalogues but ultimately miss out. While debuts by bands such as Eat Dirt seem to come from out of nowhere an upset the natural order! As always there is no magic scoring formula for the selection of my top albums, instead its purely which ones I’ve had the most affinity with and ultimately the ones I think everyone should go out and enjoy… and again we’d love to hear what you think of these choices!

10. In Motion by The Run Up

British gruff punk darlings The Run Up had a big ask following up their self titled debut, a real highlight from 2017. Thankfully the constant touring has really helped take the Bristolians to the next level and In Motion contains 12 epically positive gruff punk anthems. With massive melodies, huge sing-along choruses and excellent lyrics, In Motion has it all in spades. It’s also nice to hear the affection with which they are held within the UK scene extends to the continent, where I’m assured by Colin who has seen it first-hand that The Run Up boys are now bigger than David Hasselhoff amongst our German cousins.

9. Anthems by Raised Fist

Coming from Scandinavia and averaging an album almost every four years, you could easily describe Sweden’s Raised Fist as glacial with their output – a statement that can’t be levelled at its content. From the opening trio of “Venomous”, “Seventh” and “ Anthem”, the album really drives home their anger at the state of the world (both politically and environmentally) and their pleas for unity. Raised Fist are one of those unique bands in that you instantly know what you are getting and the standard is always high. Anthems is probably the most aptly named album of the year.

8. Death Is Death by Eat Dirt

London based Eat Dirt’s debut album seemingly came out of nowhere. Filled with anger, vitriol and aggression, it’s a brilliant throwback to late 90s US hardcore albeit with a modern, British twist. Despite clocking in at what seems like a mammoth 14 songs the fact that it barely reaches 25 minutes demonstrates the ferocity of the album. Tracks like “Death Is Death” and “Make Peace” are destined for sweaty dive circle pits and, to show they can mix it up, the slow melody of “Come And See” provides a welcome respite to the frantic carnage of the bulk of the album. It’s a great statement of intent and definitely a release to check out if you haven’t already!

7. Regulars by Dead Bars

CPRW’s favourite Bouncing Souls loving, Seattle based party band, Dead Bars, have returned with a sophomore album that delivers on all fronts. Slightly more polished (particularly John Maiello’s vocals) and maybe slightly more progressive, it’s still unashamedly rammed with songs about ageing punk rockers, misfits and has more sing-a-longs than the Disney channel. A welcome return from one of the best new bands of recent years.

6. Night Shifts by Überyou

I really have to pay credit to fellow CPRW crewmember Emma for introducing me to Überyou; her review back at the start of the year perfectly captured the essence of Night Shifts and I knew I’d love it. Massively melodic, the whole album is a juggernaut of fist in the air anthems. The pick? Personally “Survivors” is huge, “Liabilities” is just brilliant and “Taking Chances” is superb but closing track “Don’t Ever Fall Apart” is monumental with its Timeshares-esque licks and it rounds off a great album perfectly!

5. Thrashing Through The Passion by The Hold Steady

Any new material by The Hold Steady is a joy to behold. After a considerable time away from handing over new material to an expectant fan group, 2018 saw the band release a series of singles ahead of their weekend residencies. Consequently half of the album is comprised of some of these singles and the other half new material. The moment Craig Finn talks through the first verse of “Denver Haircut” you can tell the loud big rock of Teeth Dreams has been toned down to focus on what is really the band’s USP – a lyrical genius surrounded by gorgeous melody, harmony and excellent musicianship. Having Franz Nicolay back in the fold permanently helps recapture that magic ingredient from their early releases. They’ll never be the most accessible, the most obvious or even the coolest band on the planet but they sure as hell have the biggest hearts – and this is rammed full of heart, soul, love and stories… and exactly what we expect from THS!

4. Hello Exile by The Menzingers

In a similar way to the fact that On The Impossible Past had to be followed up so did After The Party and a more mature, confident and skilled Menzingers have adapted to that pressure with the production of an album that whilst their most grown up is also their most overtly political. Sure it’s no After The Party which personally is THE GREAT album of the last decade but it doesn’t try to be, instead having more in common with the heartland rock of The Gaslight Anthem than say the Philly scene they grew out of. Self-assured, honest, slightly broken but self-aware, the beauty of the album lies not just in the (as always excellent) musicianship but in the lyrics which put Tom and Greg at a much more reflective and vulnerable stage of life than we’ve previously seen. In addition you can instantly see “America (You’re Freaking Me Out)”, “Strangers Forever” and “Strain Your Memory” sitting alongside existing fan favourites. Whilst Rented World (off the back of On The Impossible Past) perhaps showed a slight challenge when meeting expectations (it’s still an awesome album so don’t @ me punk people), with Hello Exile the band can put that hoodoo to bed of having to step up to meet the fan base expectations. Hello Exile is absolutely the album they needed to produce and in every sense it’s a success!

3. Thoughts and Prayers by Good Riddance

If at the start of the year you’d be telling me that Santa Cruz melodic hardcore stalwarts Good Riddance would deliver what is a career defining album, I’d most likely laugh at you and send you packing. The reason isn’t to do with their past output – in fact I’d argue that they have been easily one of the most consistent bands to come out of the 90s California scene – but instead they absolutely nailed what is by now a distinct sound and message and delivered a perfect album of what that sound should be like in the late 2010s. Thoughts And Prayers is angry, political, fast, melodic and quintessentially Good Riddance. It proves why they remain one of the most vitally important bands on the scene some 30 years after their inception!

2. Heavy Seas by Misfortune Cookie

I can’t stress how great Heavy Seas by Misfortune Cookie is. Musically it hits all the sweet spots between gruff punk, melodic hardcore and pop punk, whilst retaining the heartfelt folk sensibilities of vocalist Helen Chambers. Every song is brilliantly constructed, nuanced and personal, but with that uncanny relatable ability that makes you want to sing every word as loud as you can. In particular, “Callumbus” and “Alabama” show a band on top of their game, but with a clear nod to suggest there is more to come. I can’t wait to see where the future takes them!

1. I Don’t Like Sports by Screaming At Traffic

The Canadian pop punk crew Screaming At Traffic have produced an album that is almost perfect in every way. From the use of melody, big hooks and the kind of lyrics that range from on the surface being quite twee but on repeated listens fall into equally genius and heart-breaking categories at the same time. Opening duo “They Call Me Thrillhouse” and “Ybf” are the best 1-2 of the year and the type of songs that really hit all the feels. It’s hard not to find their oddly geeky references and life outlook endearing; writing songs about the kids that don’t fit in, cartoons and, as the title of the album would suggest, not liking sports. Screaming At Traffic absolutely deserves your attention and I Don’t Like Sports will hopefully put them on the road to greater things!

Albums of the decade
Lastly, from me for this year, a look back over the last decade… and if this doesn’t remind you that the last ten years have produced some amazing music then nothing will!

After The Party by The Menzingers
Mint by Worship This!
LP2 by Restorations
Desire Paths by Turnspit
Home, Like NoPlace Is There by The Hotelier
Prey by Planes Mistaken For Stars
Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs
Light On The Lake by Signals Midwest
Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
Not Like This by Iron Chic
Spin by Tigers Jaw
While A Nation Sleeps by Boysetsfire
Wildlife by La Dispute
Magic Gone by Petal
Better Whenever by Elway
I Don’t Like Sports by Screaming At Traffic
Dead Reflection by Silverstein
Heavy Seas by Misfortune Cookie
Distance by Heavy Heart
Bearable by Timeshares

This end of year list was written by Richard Mair.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Lee's Top Ten Albums of 2019

10. Starve by Blood Youth

Blood Youth’s 2017 debut, Beyond Repair, was one of my albums of that year, mixing crushing hardcore with nu-metal influences. This sophomore effort takes that blueprint and just amplifies it, with the nu-metal flavours more to the fore this time. It’s a dark, twisted, ominous album that manages to be both heavy and melodic, helped in no small part by lead singer Kaya Tarsus’ impressive vocals.

9. Grand Relapse by Pizzatramp

Combine a warped sense of humour, alcohol, thrash-punk and complete disregard for their own health and you get Pizzatramp. These Welsh upstarts released possibly the fastest, filthiest album I heard this year and the snotty, obnoxious thrash will swirl around your head and having you moshing away in no time.

8. A Different Shade Of Blue by Knocked Loose

Hardcore is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, with bands like Turnstile, Code Orange and Vein leading the way. But, with the release of their second album, Knocked Loose prove they deserve to be in with such exalted company. Adding more groove and power to their arsenal, “A Different Shade Of Blue” is a lesson in unrelenting fury that doesn’t let up for a second.

7. Optimal Lifestyles by Pkew Pkew Pkew

Whilst not as instant as their debut, Optimal Lifestyles, the second album from Pkew Pkew Pkew, is an album that reveals a little more on each subsequent listen. A more grown up sound, incorporating an Americana sound that evokes Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem, doesn’t deter these punks from having fun – with more songs about drinking, skateboarding and more drinking.

6. Never Not Nothing by Black Futures

Black Futures sneaked up on me this year when after reading a review I was tempted to check them out. Mixing rock with dance is not a new thing but when done well it’s euphorically life affirming and, having honed their writing skills with The Prodigy and working with Idles, their credentials are not up for debate. If industrial-techno-rave-punk ticks any boxes for you then you must check this out.

5. Morbid Stuff by Pup

Following on from their breakthrough second album was never going to be an easy task but on Morbid Stuff Pup achieved this with some aplomb. Despite sounding angrier than on previous releases, being pissed with the world has never sounded so good.

4. Strength In Numb333rs by Fever333

A band renowned for their incendiary live shows, Fever333 managed to translate that intensity to record and produce one of the best post-hardcore of the year. It takes aim at American politics but also has a very universal feel to it with themes of unity, brotherhood, love and compassion.

3. Swimming Lessons by The Skints

Not just one of my albums of the year but one of the few records my wife will listen to with me so it has to be on my list. Seriously though, this album takes everything that’s great about The Skints – the laid back reggae and rude-boi ska – and just amplifies it, proving that Ska-Reggae is not just for summer.

2. Be Good by Off With Their Heads 

Back in August I went to an all-dayer at the New Cross Inn, primarily to see a couple of the supports. I’d not heard of Off With Their Heads but their name intrigued me so I stuck around for their headline slot and, boy, I’m glad I did. They kicked off their slot with one of my songs of the year, “Disappear”, and ironically they’ve been on my radar ever since.

1. Body Bag Your Scene by Riskee & The Ridicule

With this, their third album, Riskee & The Ridicule have continued to develop their sound record on record and this may just be their best yet. Taking all of the elements from previous releases and combining them into a clear, coherent vision which backs up their visceral live shows.

This end of year list was written by Lee Morton.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Colin's Top Ten EPs, Albums and Live Sets of 2019

Every year, doing an end of year list gives me a bigger and bigger headache. I love finding more and more new bands and discovering more great music. It gives me a great amount of joy uncovering a gem that nobody I know has heard of and being able to share it with anyone who will listen. Because of my unending urge to continue to discover more new bands each year, as well as remaining a fan of older bands, narrowing down a top ten albums and EPs each year becomes harder and harder. The punk rock world seems to be growing and growing with more and more top quality bands popping up everywhere. It's absolutely incredible to see and warms my heart but gosh it makes these end of year lists stressful.

This year I have decided to share my top ten albums, EPs and live sets of 2019. I am by no means saying that my choices are the right choice or the very best overall, I'm sure plenty of other people will have different favourites that they think are better than my choices. Music is subjective after all and I love to hear different opinions on what other folk enjoyed and connected with the most.

Top Ten EPs 2019

10. Kill The Boy Band EP by She/Her/Hers

From the moment I heard the song Kill The Boy Band by Michigan's She/Her/Hers I needed to hear more. Playing wonderfully creative yet sad pop punk, not only do She/Her/Hers write brilliantly hooky songs but they do an amazing job in making you think about things. Not afraid to throw out the genre rule book, the band do things their own way and this really makes them stand out from the pack. I'm hoping a UK tour is in the works for the band as I'd love to hear these songs live.

9. Hexed by The Hallingtons

I've been a fan of Norwegian Ramonescore band The Hallingtons since hearing their previous effort, 1-2-3-4 Songs, in 2017. At the end of August the three piece released a new EP titled Hexed and I knew, as I saw it was six songs in just eleven minutes, that I was going to enjoy it. I love this form of no thrills, fast pop punk. It fills me with energy and never fails to make me smile. What's not to love about that? Covering topics such as religion, girls, witches, girls, relationships and girls, The Hallingtons are kings of writing a catchy track that you'll be humming along with and tapping your toes to immediately.

8. Punxsutawney by The Jawnstowne Standard

The Jawnstowne Standard are a very new discovery. So new that I hadn't ever heard of them a week before it was time to write this list. I discovered them on a Bandcamp discovery binge and quickly fell in love with their orgcore pop punk sound. This is a sound that I adore at the moment. Catchy songs, big choruses and massive fist in the air shout along moments. Punxsutawney features four songs that drew me in from the start. If I had heard this EP sooner, there's a good chance that it would be even higher up this list.

7. Crucial Moments by The Bouncing Souls

I always have a bit of trepidation when one of my all-time favourite bands releases something new. When The Bouncing Souls released the EP Crucial Moments, it took me a little while to gather the courage to listen to it incase it didn't hit the high standards that I expect from the legendary band. I was other the moon when I listened to it and heard everything I love about the Souls. It shows off all sides of the band – anthemic songs, sweet love songs and hard hitting, ferocious punk rock with a sense of humour. Releases like this show why The Bouncing Souls have had such a long and distinguished career

6. Divide And Conga by King Punch

It's no secret about our love for the Be Sharp Promo/New Cross Inn ska punk scene. One band who have been at the forefront of that scene over the past few years is King Punch. Known as much for their energetic live performances as for their ska/punk/swing bangers, King Punch are one of those bands that never fail to entertain. Divide And Conga features three original songs and one ridiculous cover, all of which destroy the troupe that all ska punk sounds the same and will all get you dancing. The band also released the best music video of the year for the opening track Sit Still which can be viewed here.

5. Vacation To Helheim by The Palatines

The first of two bands on my list of favourite EPs from 2019 that were on my top album list of 2018, Texan pop punks The Palatines are one of the best new pop punk bands in the world and if you’re a fan of bands like Teenage Bottlerocket or The Copyrights then they really need to be on your radar. Super fast buzzing guitars and pounding drums get you amped up immediately. The real strength in The Palatines, for me at least, is the variation in the vocals. Excelling at rough and rowdy shouts or more melodic and sweet vocals, they give the band something that many of the other bands in the genre don't have – a fresh feeling allows them to not sound stale.

4. Community Backwash by Flangipanis

Australia's Flangipanis were also included in my top albums of 2018 for their Always The Bridesmaid release. In September, the skate punks released a new seven track EP named Community Backwash. A band that love to party and don't take themselves too seriously, these aren't songs that are going to change the world and maybe you shouldn't play them in front of your in-laws but this is the kind of crass and juvenile punk rock that we all grew up on and that's why I love it. It's a throwback and reminds me of simpler times when life was less complicated. It's one of those releases that offers that wonderful form of escapism that is important every now and then.

3. Everything Trouble Meant by Katie MF

The fact that Everything Trouble Meant by Katie MF isn't number one on this list says just how good numbers one and two are. I've been championing Katie MF to anyone who would listen all year, I think that highly of them not just as musicians but as people. Everything Trouble Meant was released in May but we were fortunate enough to get a sneak preview and Emma and myself were completely blown away by it. Opening with the emotional Do Without before picking up on songs such as Leather Jacket and Praying For Rain, this is emotional punk rock infused folk music that will have you welling up (more on that later) and singing along passionately to every word.

2. Glow by Triple Sundae

We've been fans of Triple Sundae for a long while now and it's been the biggest pleasure seeing them develop as a band over the past few years. It seems that with every release the band go from strength to strength. On Glow, the band pick up from where they left us on the previous release, Peace Of Mind, with six more melodic sad boy pop punk songs about dealing with mental health issues. Hassan has one of the best voices in the UK scene in my opinion and is backed brilliantly by drummer Zandro. Lyrically the band are one of the best around at the moment, articulating their messages perfectly and really allowing the listener to relate. As the band continue to go from strength to strength, I'm really looking forward to whatever comes next from Triple Sundae.

1. Murmur by Modern Shakes

Ian Crook has been in and around the London punk scene for years now, with either his old band Janowski or his acoustic act Wayfairer. In 2018, he formed a new band named Modern Shakes. I had the pleasure of seeing them play one of their first shows together and was instantly impressed. Playing that melodic sing-along pop punk that I enjoy so much, I was eager to hear more from them. When they released Murmur in July, I knew that nothing was going to top this EP for me. All four songs spoke to me, as Modern Shakes talk about adventuring into your thirties and the choices and conundrums that come with that. Each song is packed with that infectious energy that I really look for in the music I'm listening – if anything sparks that reaction in me then I'm a big fan. Modern Shakes are perhaps one of the best bands around at the moment that you perhaps haven't heard of yet. If I were you then I would remedy that.

Top Ten Albums 2019

Honourable mentions: In Motion by The Run Up, Aced Out by The Overjoyed, Yes I Can't by Devon Kay & The Solutions, Encore by The Specials, Optimal Lifestyles by Pkew Pkew Pkew, Get Lost! by Radio Buzzkills, Grow Up Trash by Problem Daughter, Live Free by Get It Together, Regulars by Dead Bars, This Could Be Okay by Cold Wrecks, Hard Pop by Telethon, Defcon 1-2-3-4 by Covert Flops, Dancing Wrestling Burning Wood by Wham Bam Bodyslam, Escape From Everything by Codename Colin, Ambivalence by The Prozacs, Syphilis Totalus by Flabbercasters, Hans Gruber And The Die Hards 2 by Hans Gruber And The Die Hards, Fires To Find Our Friends by Lead Shot Hazard, Confessions Of A Justified Cynic by The Kimberly Steaks, Get It Together by MakeWar.

10. Missing Parts by Nightmarathons

I'd heard of Nightmarathons before 2019 but never really gave them much of a listen. Their album Missing Parts was released at the end of March and it took me a while to really listen to it properly. I did put in a playlist of 2019 releases and whenever songs from it came on I always thought "oooh, what's this?" This made me really properly listen to it and I discovered an album full of sing-along melodic pop punk with great vocals, harmonies and gang parts. I love how distinctive the different vocals are in the harmonies and gang parts. It gives Nightmarathons something slightly different to many of the other fantastic bands in their genre.

9. Chosen Family by Burn Burn Burn

I first discovered Seattle's Burn Burn Burn on a split they did with ...Whatever That Means and I thought they were a really good band. In February, they released Chosen Family and I discovered they had become a really great band. Something I really loved about Chosen Family was the variety on display. At heart, this is another melodic gruff punk album but it's also so much more. The album is teaming with energy, intensity, melody, sing-alongs, hooks, emotion, relatable lyrics and thought-provoking moments. I'm looking forward to one day seeing these songs played live, as I imagine it'll take them up another level.

8. Parched by Thirsty Guys

As the ska punk super fan at CPRW, it's probably no surprise that there's four ska punk albums in my top ten. The first is Parched by Thirsty Guys. I discovered Thirsty Guys purely because another band on this list released an album on the same label (Bad Time Records) that Parched was released on. Parched certainly isn't your typical ska punk album, for one thing it only features some brass on one song. There's a raw and chaotic feel to the whole album which I found incredibly endearing. It's a little rough around the edges and I love that. There's so much going on throughout the entire album, every time I listen to it I hear a little extra thing that I had missed on the previous listen. This gives Parched a great amount of longevity and means I keep going back to it.

7. Night Shifts by Überyou

I think it's fair to say that no band had a bigger impact on Emma and I in 2019 that Switzerland's Überyou. Emma fell in love as soon as she heard Night Shifts but it took me until I got to see them live to fully appreciate just how good it is. It reminds me a bit of Red City Radio in that Überyou write songs that empower and inspire. However, whereas I've often found Red City Radio to be a bit of a singles kind of band, Überyou have written a whole album of bangers that not only have you wanting to throw your fists in the air and scream along but also make you feel strong.

6. Deals, Deals, Deals! by Ramona

I was looking back through the Red Scare Industries back catalogue and the Chicago based label have never released a bad record. 2019's best from the label was Deals, Deals, Deals! by Ramona. From the opening of the first song, Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Hearts, I knew I would enjoy this record as I loved Abby's voice. Then on the second song, Not Your Token, Diego vocal took the lead and I fell in love with that as well. Then, later on the album, they combine their voices and I'm in musical heaven – two fantastic and distinct vocals coming together and sounding the best. On the album, Ramona tackle a number of different subjects including relationships and mental health and do it in a way that will be so cathartic for so many people listening.

5. No Faith by Omnigone

The second pick in my top ten to come from Bad Time Records is No Faith by Omnigone. Formed by former Link 80 member Adam Davis, No Faith includes a fantastic mixture of hardcore, punk and ska. Another album I connected with immediately, I remember the first time that I sat down to listen to it and just feeling something I can't describe. It just made me want to move, to dance, to sing, to smash down barriers – just do something. It's been some time since any album has really done that to me. The album is only 21 minutes long and manages to do so much during that time. Honestly, I loved this album it could've been number one. It's only number five, that really shows how much I thought of the next four albums.

4. Maximum Effort by Just Say Nay

When I heard that London's Just Say Nay were working on a their first full length I was expecting big things. As one of my favourite live bands of the past couple of years, I'd already seen that they can put together some impressive music. Maximum Effort was a long time in the making but when it was finally released in October I don't think that even the people with the highest of expectations imagined it would be this good. The nine piece (yup, nine) have written an album that contains ska, punk, pop, rap, gypsy, yodelling and even an eight minute (yup, eight) long song that is potentially my song of the year. Something I find most impressive about Maximum Effort is that JSN have managed to find a way to fit all of their different instruments in to the album, making them all feel vital and not have it seem like overkill. Without a doubt the UK ska punk album of the year.

3. Save Us All by Be Like Max

According to Spotify, I have listened to Save Us All by Be Like Max more than any other album in the entire four years I've had a premium account. That stat alone should show you how much I've enjoyed this album. The entire album is like injecting caffeine straight into your bloodstream, it's a non-stop high energy party from start to finish. Thankfully it's only twenty minutes long – I don't have the stamina to lose my stuff continuously for much longer than that. It's a relentless wonderful time. Lyrically, there is a lot going on – tackling topics such as politics, the #metoo movement, working for the man and the media, all the while giving you something to believe in and hold on to whilst you're doing your very best dance moves. The thing that just edged out Maximum Effort to being by favourite ska album of 2019 is the fact that I can't pick a favourite song on Save Us All. All eleven songs are brilliant and get me so hyped up whenever I hear them be in a playlist on shuffle or listening the album from start to finish. If I were one of those people who enjoyed a workout this would be my album of choice.

2. Never Better by Burnt Tapes

Picking between my number one and two albums is definitely the hardest choice I've had to make this year and if you ask me tomorrow I might have changed my mind. Much like their great friends in Triple Sundae, being able to watch the Burnt Tapes develop into one of the best bands in the UK over the past four years has been the biggest pleasure. I loved everything the band put out before Never Better was released in February and I had a strong feeling that it would be a contender for album of the year just based on the singles Yuzi and Don't Make Be Play Bocelli. Then I was lucky enough to get an early preview of the album and I was taken aback by just how good it was. The progression these guys have made is staggering. The amount of thought and care that has gone into the creation of Never Better is incredible. There are so many little nuances and easter eggs littered throughout that connect things together in a way that feels completely natural. The dual vocals of Phil and Pan both shine throughout, complimenting each other perfectly. The Tapes have tried some new things on the album as well, including some slower songs and some guest vocals making a more rounded sound for the band. And proving they are a band who are wanting to grow and have plenty of ambition. I haven't heard a better punk album from a band based in the UK in years – also Dirt Roads is the best song of 2019.

1. What An Awful Life by Captain Asshole

If you've spoken to me about music in any way this year, I imagine I have recommended What An Awful Life by Munich's Captain Asshole and you're probably in no way surprised that it's my album of the year. I have to admit when I was first sent an album by a band named Captain Asshole I was pretty apprehensive about it – what band worth their salt would give themselves such a bad name? I gave it a listen though and found myself getting almost as excited about an album as when I heard Holy Shit by Davey Dynamite in 2016 (that album has become by favourite album ever) and I get pretty excitable when I start talking about new bands that I like. Everything I love about pop punk erupts out of What An Awful Life. My three favourite things in music are featured massively throughout – harmonies, gang vocals and an infectious energy. If any song features those three things then they're an instant winner in my book, What An Awful Life has twelve songs that feature those things. It's not a case of every song sounding the same though, far from it. Each song has their own little differences keeping things varied but you also know full well you're listening to a Captain Asshole song. Each song is full of great hooks that will have you singing along quickly and will quickly add to your enjoyment of the tracks. These are songs that are designed for you to be involved with them and, for me, that's a big part of why I love punk rock – I like to feel involved. Much like Save Us All, I just can't pick a favourite song from What An Awful Life – basically whichever song I'm currently listening to is my favourite. The thing that really tipped the scales for What An Awful Life being my favourite album of 2019 is that when I was working on this list the opening track, Where The Fuck Is Kyoto came on and, literally when the first chords were played, I was so unbelievably excited to get to listen to the album again. That's a sign of a fucking good album.

Top Ten Live Sets 2019

For me, the ultimate test of how good a band is is by how good they are live. This doesn't have to be because they are technically brilliant and hit every note or chord perfectly. For me, it's about how they connect with the crowd. You can be the most musically proficient band in the world but if you don't make me feel anything then I won't want to see you live. Nothing gives me a bigger high than seeing my favourite bands absolutely kill it live. (Though the mighty Crystal Palace haven't won the league yet, I suspect that would top it). Here's my top ten live sets of 2019:

10. Burnt Tapes at Urban Bar, London (5/4/19)

It felt super fitting that the Burnt Tapes would return to Urban Bar, the setting for the release party of their previous release Alterations, for the launch for their debut LP Never Better. What was even better was that this time they sold it out. This is a great example of how far these lads have come and how they continue to pick up new fans along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people turn out to not just support but to squeeze down the front and sing along to every word. Never Better had come out a month earlier which meant that the whole room was able to sing along with the band. This was also the only time I've seen them play Dirt Road live, a song I hope they play more next year.

9. Just Say Nay at Level Up Festival, New Cross Inn, London (21/7/19)

When it was announced that Just Say Nay would be playing an acoustic set in the tiny Stock's Bar in the basement of the New Cross Inn for Level Up Festival I don't think that anyone imagined all nine members would be participating. It turned out we were wrong, very wrong, as the band proved just what a "logistical nightmare" they could be. The bar was really cramped for what was the highlight of the entire weekend. Watching the band play through rarely seen acoustic songs of so many favourites was something to behold and the volume of the sing-alongs was incredible.

8. Just Say Nay at New Cross Inn, London (11/10/19)

Yes, Just Say Nay at the New Cross Inn again. This time for the launch party of their album, Maximum Effort. The band have always been excellent live but this set was just something special. Playing through the album from start to finish, the room was full of smiles, dancing and singing along when possible (the album was released on the same day as the show). This was one of those special sets where you get to see a band at the very top of their game, with all nine members of the band on top form. Highlights of the set included trombone player Mikey T getting crowd surfed during With A Twist Of Lemon, Leo taking DIY punk to a new level and playing most of the set balanced on stool on the side of the stage, Low Blow – not many songs get better reactions at New Cross – and a complete play through of the epic Kuromouri. This was Just Say Nay stepping away from being the best kept secret in the UK ska scene and really staking a claim for being the most exciting band in the country.

7. Überyou on MS Tonne, Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg (9/6/19)

Booze Cruise Festival in Hamburg was a massive highlight of my entire year, it's a wonderful festival that everyone should go to. Part of the festival takes place on a boat that goes around Hamburg harbour, docking between bands so people could get on and off. Emma and I decided to stay on for the duration to see The Muttnicks, Arterials, The Run Up, Bong Mountain and Überyou. Überyou undoubtedly stole the show with a terrific performance. Having seen them the previous night in a more traditional setting and seeing just how good they were live, I knew this set was going to be something special. I've not seen many bands connect with a crowd like Überyou do and when they are floor level with the crowd this connection just goes up another notch. There were so many fists in the air and crowd surfs, it was easy to forget that we were on a moving boat. To add to the wild party atmosphere they had already created, they finished their set with covers of Against Me!'s Sink, Florida Sink and Journey's Don't Stop Believing.

6. Chewing On Tinfoil at New Cross Inn, London (2/2/19)

I'm not sure there's a band more universally loved at the New Cross Inn than Chewing On Tinfoil. When they were announced to be playing Be Sharp Promotion's Paul's birthday show, tickets went very quickly. Friends from all over the UK and pals from Belgium made the trip to South London for what was a very special night. Not many bands illicit such powerful and emotive sing-alongs like Chewing On Tinfoil do. It was just one big party from start to finish and as they played through so many favourites during their set the crowd got more and more joyously raucous. It wasn't long into the set before the stage dives and crowd surfing began, including a couple of first timers who the band encouraged the crowd to look after. This was one of those magical sets where you come away with goose bumps and you're just at a loss for words for how good it was. I can't wait to see them again at Manchester Punk Festival next April.

5. Call Me Malcolm at Gorilla, Manchester Punk Festival (19/4/19)

When Call Me Malcolm were announced for MPF 19 I figured they would play in the tiny zombie shack to what I thought would be a handful of ska punk fans at the festival. Gosh I was wrong. They played in the massive Gorilla venue to a packed crowd and blew the roof off of the place. Call Me Malcolm must be the band I've seen the most over the past couple of years and they have always been a big highlight every time. I don't think the band could have ever imagined the incredible reception they received at the festival, with it seeming like the entire room was enthusiastically dancing and singing along. There was a collective sense of pride from the New Cross Inn gang who were in the crowd, seeing one of our own completely smash their set. The massive sing-along at the end of, the always crowd pleasing, All My Nameless Friends was a true goosebump moment – I'm not sure there was a bigger sing-along to any song throughout the entire weekend.

4. The Run Up at Molotow Club Sky Bar, Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg (8/6/19)

This was one of those "holy moly" moments. I was watching Überyou in one part of Hamburg and then I dashed across the city to go and watch my friends in The Run Up. I was shocked when I got there and the room was absolutely jam packed, I had to squeeze into the side of the room. I was shocked because I've gotten so used to seeing the band play to fairly small crowds in London – it turns out that The Run Up are megastars in Hamburg and it was so pleasing to see. One of the friendliest and hardest working bands I know getting the kind of reception that I feel they truly deserve. The band had this wonderful connection with the crowd where it felt as if they'd made friends with every person in the room during their set. The final song of their set, The Upside Of Being Down, really became a special moment as the folk at the front of the stage took lead singer Larry into the crowd to carry him around the room all while he kept singing. It felt like a big show of respect for the band from the Booze Cruise crowd.

3. Katie MF at Black Heart, London (9/5/19)

Katie made me cry during this set. This was the launch night for Katie MF's EP Everything Trouble Meant and it was by far the most emotional set of the year. Katie MF are a band that are great recorded but live they just take it to a whole new level. I'm confident that neither Katie, Ben and Tobias had played a set this good before. Splitting the set into three parts – full band, acoustic and then back to full band – the hour long set flew by. It was during the acoustic part of the set where I really began to get emotional as Katie’s sad and moving tales of heartbreak resonated around the room. Since randomly discovering them on Bandcamp and becoming friends with Katie, I've been championing them to anyone who will listen to me and the sense of pride I felt seeing the band be, at that moment, the best band in the UK was really wonderful. This set had it all – it was moving, it was powerful, it was emotional but, most of all, it was a lot of fun. If you haven't checked out Katie MF yet then crack on with it.

2. Lightyear at Signature Brew, London (19/11/19)

During their November tour with Reel Big Fish and [Spunge], UK ska punk legends and the best band ever, Lightyear, decided to put on a secret headline gig on one of their days off. Taking place at Signature Brew in Haggerston, London, under the guise of Weasel Clan, as soon as I found out about it I knew this was not to be missed and I knew it was going to be one of my highlights of the year. Having seen the band supporting Reel Big Fish the day before with a thirty minute set that was a bit silly but not the true amount of silly you would expect from the band, this headline show was a great excuse to really showcase the Lightyear we all know and love. The stage at Signature Brew was tiny which resulted in Chas and Pook spending the majority of the time on the floor. This really helped add to the chaos that would ensue during the next hour. As I said in my review of the Reel Big Fish gig (here), Lightyear were mostly a collection of stand-ins but if you hadn't have known then you would never have guessed. The whole set was chaos, despite being towards the end of a long tour the energy and enthusiasm the band had for this show was nothing short of amazing. The utter madness that was happening didn't seem to affect the quality of the songs either. Even when Chas decided to go to the bar during the introduction of Blindside, Pook and the crowd just took over vocal duties and it all came together seamlessly. Lightyear when they are in this mood don't play gigs, they put on the best party in town and ensure everyone in the room has the very best time. I can't wait to see them back in New Cross for Do It Together 2020. I wonder if they'll be able to get the drum kit on the bar at the New Cross Inn?

1. Goodbye Blue Monday at Conroy’s Basement, Book Yer Ane Fest XIII, Dundee (1/12/19)

They say save the best for last, well my top set of 2019 came from my last gig of the year. Scottish misery-punk heroes Goodbye Blue Monday playing a raucous set in Dundee's Conroy's Basement on the third day of Book Yer Ane Fest XIII. The previous day the Glaswegians had been in Hamburg for Frosty Booze Cruise. Obviously they stayed up all night partying like rock stars, had their 6am flight delayed and arrived in Dundee in time to play. It's safe to say they weren't feeling their best. However, the BYAF crowd were super excited to see them and their energy seemingly carried the band through their set. Opening with one of their newest songs, Trigger Alert, and from then on there were endless crowd surfers and huge sing-alongs. Something I'm sure Graham really appreciated due to having a rather rough feeling voice. This all added to my overall enjoyment of the set – seeing crowd and band coming together as one, like a DIY punk show should be. This was my fourth time seeing Goodbye Blue Monday in 2019 but my first ever time seeing them play in Scotland and it was extremely special. There's something about seeing a band play in front of their home crowd that seems to give them that something extra. This was probably the first time I've seen them play to a crowd where the whole room knew who they were and sang along to every word. For the first time at any punk gig this year, I found myself in the midst of pit, passionately screaming along to every word whilst trying my best to help out crowd surfers. It was a joyous time, that thirty or so minutes of just releasing everything along with some like minded strangers and feeling truly happy and at home. That's the power of punk rock and a experience I felt during this set.

This end of year list was written by Colin Clark.