Monday, 13 July 2020

Album Review: Just Stay Calm by Panic Problem (by Chris Bishton)


Like a lot of people, the COVID lockdown has meant I've been able to spend more time than usual checking out new bands. Once of my favourites I've discovered over the last few months is Baltimore's Panic Problem, a three piece pop punk band who released their debut album, Just Stay Calm, a couple of months ago.

Formed in 2018, but by three people with plenty of experience – Neal Page, Tom Gilhuley and Sue Werner from War on Women – the band remained a three piece after Werner departed due the rise and rise of WOW, being replaced by Jeff Brigman on bass.

Just Stay Calm is the band's debut album, although it does include four songs that were originally released on their debut EP. Not a problem for me as I'm new to the band, but I know some people can be a little disappointed when albums include 'too much' previously released material. That aside, it's 11 absolutely pure pop punks bangers, that was recorded with Pete Steinkopf from the Bouncing Souls, resulting in songs that sit in the same mould as a lot of fast, anthemic bands with that early 90s sound. Think Lagwagon meets Sicko (and if you don't remember Sicko, you should check them out – they were the early 90s pop punks that should have gone on to world domination, not Green Day).


As the band's name, and indeed album title suggests, much if not all that they sing about is associated with mental health issues. As I sit here writing this in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week, whilst most are still in some form of lockdown/isolation, it strikes me that even though the sound is similar, pop punk (and of course, much of society) has come a reasonably long way and it's great to hear so many bands address this subject so openly now. There's still some way to go, but bands like Panic Problem really do help encourage a positive culture in association with mental health. (By the way, you can still grab a download of CPRW's birthday comp on Bandcamp, with all proceeds going to the UK mental health charity Mind if you haven't already done so.)

But don't be fooled into thinking this album is going to be a solemn or introverted affair given its subject matter. Far from it. It's upbeat, feel good, positive and celebratory. As it should be. The first song, Time Flies, lets you know exactly what you're in for – a cocktail of fast guitars, relatable singalong lyrics and a super catchy chorus.

What follows are 10 more tracks in a very similar vein. There's not a great deal of variation with these, again a bit like a lot of those great pop punk albums that came before, which is just fine by me! But of course everyone will have their favourites on the album, mine being Works Suck In General, Stormy Weather and I Hate Tuesdays, but I'm sure anyone can easily pick out three completely different tracks. If you can manage to remember what it was like to be in an audience, try then to picture that whole audience singing along to every song a band plays. That's what I imagine will happen once these guys eventually get to play these songs live again. All pretty similar, but all audience favourites.

I don't think Panic Problem have set out to be anything other than what they have done with this album. Some might say we heard all this way back in the 90s, which might be true, but that's not to say that it isn't any good. There may have been a lot released back then that I really don't like, but it was also a bit of a golden age for this type of pop punk that Panic Problem have once again captured here.

Stream and download Just Stay Calm on Bandcamp here.

Like Panic Problem on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Top Tens: Frank from Much The Same's Top Ten Comics


Hi, I’m Frank and I play bass in Much The Same and I am also a lover of comics and cartoons. Comics and cartoons have always been my mental Xanax. (If you have ever met me, you know I’m a high strung dude.) Though they’re a bunch of books with pictures, there are some really great artists and stories out there. Here’s ten that I really enjoy in no particular order.

Batman: Hush
Whenever someone tells me they want to get into comics, this is the first one I lend them. First, because I fucking love Batman. Second, this comic has EVERYONE. Heroes. Villains. You also get a great mystery that introduces a new villain and one of the best Batman vs. Superman fights out there. Also, Jim Lee is probably my favorite artist when it comes to drawing superheroes.

Thor: God Of Thunder

The first Thor book I read. Puts the god of thunder against The God Butcher, who is essentially a brutal god serial killer. This one, if you make it to the second book, really makes you think. You get some time travel/flashbacks in this one and get to see a badass sky fight between a young arrogant Thor and The God Butcher. I’m really hoping this one makes it to the MCU, but I doubt it. That fight would look great on a big screen.

Ultimate Spider-Man vol 4 Legacy (issues 22–27)
Marvel kicked off the Ultimate series to introduce fans to old heroes from the beginning. You can never really go wrong reading one of these and anything by Brian Bendis is usually safe to be solid. Before this issue, Peter Parker is still finding his footing (and getting the shit kicked out of him) as Spider-Man. In this issue, I think he really steps into the role. There's a great battle with the Green Goblin and you see the badass Peter is becoming.

Locke And Key

I’m just going to say read the whole series. It’s IT meets Strangers Things meets whimsical adventures of children… but sometimes the kids may get their eyes ripped out. Magic keys and monsters, beautiful art – it has it all. I also recommend reading any novel by Joe Hill.

Green Lantern: Omnibus by Geoff Johns
I impulsively paid $100 dollars for this after a drunken trip to the comic shop. It’s the size of Moby Dick and worth it. My favorite part of it is the Sinestro Corps War where we are given the inception of Yellow Lanterns, their back stories, and a pretty epic space battle. If you’re looking to get into Green Lantern, you’ll be an expert by the end. I also love that anyone who’s brave can be a Lantern. My niece thought Green Lantern was a guy and it was cool to see her pumped that a girl could be one as well. Man, woman, alien, gay, anyone without fear can join the Corp.

Civil War
The MCU version was great and the source material is right on par. Enough stuff was left out of the movie that this read will be new to you if you only saw the film. Same basic premise of Captain America squad vs. Iron Man squad. We also get an adult Spider-Man whose story arc in this is my favorite, and adult Spider-Man knows how to beat some ass.

DC Identity Crisis
Someone is killing members of the Justice League’s families in some pretty brutal ways. Question is who? This is a great mystery and it has everyone from the JLA. Amazing battle as well with Deathstroke single handedly taking on members of the JLA.

Mark Waid’s Daredevil vol 5 (issues 22–27)
Known as the man without fear, here we find Daredevil afraid. His best friend is dying of cancer and all his loved ones are being targeted. A battle with the villain Ikari leaves him beaten and terrified. I recommend all of Waid’s Daredevil. Daredevil is a character who has been lower than low and struggles with depression. Waid tried to reinvent him as a man trying to beat that and putting on a happy face. Something we can all relate to sometimes.

Deadpool: Secret Invasion
Deadpool vs. The Skrulls. I peed myself laughing out loud with this one. Deadpool is smart, funny, and ruthless. Wait till you get to the part where they clone the Skrulls from Deadpool’s DNA.

Batman: Death In The Family

I was obsessed with Robin as a kid and this one features the death of the second more violent Robin, Jason Todd. This comic showed me that comics weren’t just books where heroes sweep in and save the day. It was bloody, violent, and tragic. The panels of The Joker beating Robin, a child, with a crowbar over and over and over and over and over again… are haunting. Probably shouldn’t have read this as a kid. However, highly recommend this now and this event led to great characters and stories down the line.

Like Much The Same on Facebook here.

Much The Same recently releases a remixed and remastered version of their classic album Quitters Never Win on Lockjaw Records. Buy it here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Album Review: Split by Catbite & Omnigone


Bad Time Records are without a doubt the best ska punk label in the world at the moment. It seems as if everything they release is absolute gold and with every announcement they make I know I need to check out the bands. On the 5th of June the label releases a new four song split featuring Catbite and Omnigone. On the four song split, the bands cover one of each other’s songs as well as covering a classic punk song from the past. Both acts are among the hottest in the scene right now so I was very keen to check out the split.


Philadelphia’s Catbite are the first band up. They decided to cover Omnigone’s Horizontal Aggression. Omnigone’s original version of the song is more of an upbeat skacore style. Catbite’s take on the song sees them add some organ and it gives the song a more traditional ska sound. I felt like this actually really helped to get the song’s message of unity coming across even more than on the original. Catbite’s classic cover is White Riot by The Clash. This song doesn’t stray too far from the original. The band do a great job of retaining the energy and spirit of the track. It’s a brave decision to cover one of the most well known songs of a band as legendary of The Clash but Catbite certainly do it justice.

Omnigone kick off their side of the split with a cover of Catbite’s Scratch Me Up. Here Omnigone take a song that has more of a traditional two tone ska song and transform it into a hardcore song. Interestingly, reading the promo notes, Omnigone’s Adam originally wanted to do a ska punk cover of the track before he was convinced to turn it into a hardcore song. I absolutely loved this version almost as much as I love Catbite’s version. You can tell that the band had a lot of fun doing it as well. Omnigone’s other track on the split is a cover of Nothing New, a song that’s probably best known as a Link 80 song but was originally written for Omnigone’s Barry’s old band, Blast Bandits. (In case you didn’t know, Adam and Barry of Omnigone are both former members of Link 80). This version of the song feels more stripped back without the horns of the Link 80 version but still retains all of its energy.

This is such a fun little split by two of the best ska punk bands to emerge over the past few years. If you like these songs, I really urge you to check out both band’s most recent albums. If you’re a fan of ska punk, they are essential for your collection.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp here.

Like Catbite on Facebook here and like Omnigone on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Album Review: Bon Voyage by Mikey Erg


Mikey Erg is one of the most popular and prolific songwriters of the worldwide punk rock scene so I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t more fanfare surrounding his new four track EP Bon Voyage. I feel like this was mainly because it was released in time for Erg’s European summer tour which was obviously postponed due to COVID-19. Bon Voyage was released by the always brilliant Dutch record label Stardumb Records and sees Erg return to his pop punk roots.


Bon Voyage begins with its title track. The song wastes no time in starting as Erg’s unmistakable vocals welcome you to the song, and the EP, in an explosive fashion. For me, this is Erg at his very best – the song is fast but also so melodic and full of hooks. Interestingly, he has managed to craft an extremely catchy song without the track even having a chorus. The harmonies from Lydia Loveless are a very nice touch. The second track is titled The New Departure Blues. This song isn’t quite as bombastic as Bon Voyage and has more of a similar vibe to his previous two solo albums rather than his work with The Ergs. The song is about coming to terms with the breakup of a relationship and admitting that “you said the wrong things for a long time today.”

The upbeat pop punk returns on Colleen. This song is just pure energy from start to finish and will be brilliant when played live to an enthusiastic crowd. Like all the best pop punk, it’s brilliance is in its simplicity. Each verse is one line repeated four times so it gets stuck in your head immediately. There’s a positive hope in the song as Erg reassures the listener that they are not alone. The final song on Bon Voyage is a cover of The Beatles song Mother Nature’s Son. I know a miniscule amount about The Beatles so had to listen to the original to really know the difference. The Beatles original is a slower track but on Erg’s version he adds a lot of tempo and life to the song and it’s much more my kind of thing. I know that Erg is a big Beatles fan so I assume he had a lot of fun covering the song.

It was great to hear Mikey Erg return to his roots for Bon Voyage. It’s a short and snappy EP that you would expect given his past pop punk history. It’s a massive shame it’ll likely be a year before he is back in Europe but I look forward to hearing these songs live then.

Stream and download Bon Voyage on Bandcamp here.

Like Mikey Erg on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Album Review: Net Profit by The Scuts


The Scuts are a three piece pop punk band from London influenced by the likes of NOFX, No Use For A Name, The Offspring and Descendents. Originally an acoustic folk duo before growing into a electric three piece, the band have recently released their second album named Net Profit. Let’s see what it’s like.


Net Profit begins with a short song named Sony (Suck My Boney). This track is only twenty four seconds long and starts out a bit folky before finishing in a rowdy fashion. It’s about how punk rock isn’t cool and fashionable and gets ignored by the major labels. London Living Slave feels like the first proper song on the album. It’s an uptempo pop punk song about struggling to get by on the living wage. It’s fast and punchy but is also underlined with some sweet harmonies. The song has a great sing-along quality that will unite a crowd of people who are probably all struggling with the same thing. Punk rock always does a great job of showing people they are not alone. Generation Rent is about how rent is becoming unaffordable in many parts of the country and how landlords take advantage of people. Sadly this is a big problem in the UK but it’s great to hear a band shine a light on this issue. This is another hugely relatable song that will unite the people listening to it. That’s All Volks is a slower and more melodic song where you can hear the band’s Offspring influence. The track is about how big global corporations often have ties with fascist organisations and that we should fight against them. It’s an interesting listen that really makes you think about who you give your money to.

The fifth song, Monet, begins in a pretty sombre fashion before jumping up a few gears and becoming a full on melodic punk track. NOFX are clearly a big influence on the sound of the track, particularly their song Leave It Alone. UK Minimum Wage sees The Scuts showing off their folk punk origins. This really adds another element to the album and keeps it feeling fresh. It’s about how the minimum wage doesn’t go up as quickly as price inflation. This means many people struggle financially whilst the rich people just get richer. The Scuts take aim at the Conservative government who have willingly let this happen. What a bunch of bastards the Tories are. X-Fucktor sees The Scuts jump back to a skate punk style for a song where they talk about people’s obsessions with TV talent shows and how people use them as stepping stones to get famous rather than earning it the more traditional way. Coming from a punk background that values DIY ethics very highly, seeing performers earn their stripes in this way is something that is very frustrating and I completely relate to The Scuts on this track.

Hypnocratic is a mid-tempo track about how political parties lie to you to make you vote for them and that eventually people will begin to see through these lies. It took me far too long to work out the pun in the title of this track. Given the subject of the song, you might expect it to be an angrier sounding track but in truth it’s pretty uplifting, particularly when they sing about the revolution that will come soon enough. The ninth track on Net Profit is named Getting Lucky. On this track The Scuts step away from the politics and play a song about some misadventures in sex. It’s all a bit silly and doesn’t really feel that in keeping with the album. That said, punk rock doesn’t always have to be super serious and should also have a sense of humour. Plagiarism is the title of the penultimate track. It’s a tongue in cheek song about ripping off other band’s music and lyrics and claiming it as your own. Throughout the song, there are little nods to other band’s songs that are quite fun to try and pick out. Net Profit is finished by Hey Sister, Seoul Sister. After a long audio clip talking about North Koreans moving south, we are treated to the heaviest song on the album. I really enjoyed hearing The Scuts head in this direction and think it was a great way to finish Net Profit.

Net Profit is a fine pop punk album from a London band that I wasn’t too familiar with before. They don’t really reinvent the wheel here but it’s a fun listen and they touch upon many important subjects that people need to listen to. For the most part, they talk about more local political problems which makes the album really relatable for me.

Stream and download Net Profit on Bandcamp here.

Like The Scuts on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Column: CPRW Recommendations For Bandcamp Day


Tomorrow (Friday July 3rd) Bandcamp are having another day where they waive all of their fees to help support the artists on their platform. Bandcamp recognises that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of bands and artists have lost a major revenue stream due to not being able to gig. These special days have been amazingly helpful for the bands and have also brought the music community together. We’re big fans of Bandcamp here at CPRW and Marcus had the idea of each of us picking a band or release to recommend people check out tomorrow.

Self-Indulgent One-Take Woefuls (Acoustic) by Goodbye Blue Monday

If sadder versions of really sad songs is your thing then this is an EP for you! Glasgow’s Goodbye Blue Monday take three old songs and one new one and strip them back to make them so heartbreakingly beautiful you can’t help but get emotional. The songs sound so different to their rowdy, full band accompaniments and it really is a testament to Graham Lough’s incredible song writing ability. The EP is raising funds for Rad Apples and Conroy’s Basement in Dundee, home of the wonderful Make-That-A-Take Records. (This EP also comes with a trigger alert – if you’re struggling in any way, please be aware when listening to this EP).

https://makethatatakerecords.bandcamp.com/album/self-indulgent-one-take-woefuls-ep

Dead Inside by CF98 (Dan #2)

This EP is a fifteen-minute slice of punk-rock heaven. Each song is a chorus-driven hard-hitter complemented by perfect backing riffs. They also touch on great subjects such as gender stereotypes and mental health. As soon as I picked up this record, the title track (Dead Inside) resonated with me and helped me with my personal mental health issues I'm facing during lockdown. It felt like a friendly reminder that I'm not the only one feeling a little dead inside right now. If you like NOFX or Useless I.D. then don't sleep on this little EP – it's the best one I've heard so far this year!

https://cf98.bandcamp.com/album/dead-inside-2020

We Live Here by Bob Vylan


London two piece grime punk act Bob Vylan released We Live Here on June 5th. From what I've heard from it, the album is eerily relevant to the current social climate and that makes it a very important listen. It's a politically hard hitting album that will inspire, enlighten and educate anyone listening to it. If you want to hear the entire album, you have to buy it as Bob Vylan have decided not to release it in full on streaming platforms.

https://bobvylan.bandcamp.com/album/we-live-here

Structure / Average At Best by Sunliner (Emma)


At the beginning of the year, before things all went down the drain, I made a list of ten bands I was excited about in 2020 and one of those bands was Leeds-based foursome Sunliner. Formerly known as Jake & The Jellyfish, Sunliner put out their first new music under their new guise recently. With the help of Lockjaw Records, Structure / Average At Best is the name of said release and both songs are excellent singalongable melodic punk rock with lyrical content that I’m sure many will be able to relate to – think working a minimum wage job you don’t enjoy and wondering where the time goes and/or what you’re doing with your life. As with all bands, Sunliner’s plans for 2020 have been put on hold but I’m glad they were able to get these songs out. I expect 2021 will be a big year for them.


Lockdown Unplugged by Ripcord Records

Lockdown Unplugged is a forty-five track acoustic compilation from Ripcord Records. It features a whole host of our favourites such as Paper Rifles, Burnt Tapes, Müg, ALLDEEPENDS, Don Blake, Codename Colin, Knife Club, Dead Neck and many more. All the acts featured recorded acoustic versions whilst in lockdown for the compilation. If forty-five acoustic tracks isn’t enough to wet your appetite then know that Lockdown Unplugged is also raising money for the mental health charity Support In Mind. If you buy the compilation on Bandcamp day, the charity will receive even more money. It’s a no-brainer purchase.

https://ripcordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lockdown-unplugged

Jilted Lover by Quaker Wedding (Marcus)


Since my job went remote, my furthest drive is now is to the “other side of town”, which in my small city is about six minutes away. Coincidentally, it’s just enough time to listen to both songs from Quaker Wedding’s first single, “Jilted Lover”. Both songs are a perfect blend of self-loathing and regret, with a gruff delivery that really hits the spot. If there are any better songs than these that have been released this year, I haven’t heard them. I’m looking forward to their debut full length “In Transit” on Salinas Records in September.

https://quakerwedding.bandcamp.com/album/jilted-lover

Heavy Seas by Misfortune Cookie (Richard)

Let’s face it, this year has been an absolute write off and whilst we should have been basking in a summer of awesome tunes and amazing gigs we’ve been reduced to thinking of what could have been. One band I feel have been affected massively by this is the wonderful Misfortune Cookie... a name that seems ever-so apt given the circumstances. Last year’s Heavy Seas was an album full of bright, big summer songs and over the course of the year would have been taking their brand of Northern punk to the masses with some high profile support slots with the likes of Signals Midwest and Strike Anywhere (I was hoping to catch them at both) as well as a stint at Manchester Punk Festival. Sadly they’ll be unable to make any new friends at any of these now cancelled shows; so if you’ve not already done so pick up a copy of one of the best albums of last year, self-isolate in your garden, grab a craft beer and immerse yourself in its wonderfulness.

https://misfortunecookie.bandcamp.com/album/heavy-seas

Covered-19 by Cherbourg Harps Assembly

Cherbourg Harps Assembly features Jan and Claire from Aberdeen bands Seas, Starry. Claire came up with the idea to cover 19 songs for an album to raise money for an animal sanctuary named Willows, which is based in the North East of Scotland. Willows looks after elderly and abused animals and relies on donations to stay afloat. Obviously, like a lot of charities and organisations, it has been hit hard by COVID-19. Among the artists covered on Covered-19 are Abba, Madonna, The Beatles, Tragical History Tour, Press Club, Stevie Nicks and Sonic Youth.

https://cherbourgharpsassembly.bandcamp.com/

Stay Home. Stay Alive. Organise. by Davey Dynamite


Whenever somebody asks me for an artist they might not have heard of to check out, I will nine times out of ten say Davey Dynamite. Their last album Holy Shit is my favourite ever. In May, Davey released a brand new song titled Stay Home. Stay Alive. Organise. It’s an acoustic track that deals with the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how the government and media are using it for their own gain. The title of the track is based off the slogan by the Poor People’sCampaign. All money made from the track will be given to Davey’s neighbourhood’s mutual aid group for services like mask/sanitiser distribution, food delivery, supporting houseless communities and paying rent. If interested, you can download the track for free now and donate here to avoid the cut that Bandcamp takes – or download it on Bandcamp day and everyone wins. 

https://daveydynamite.bandcamp.com/track/stay-home-stay-alive-organize

The Ol’ Reacharound by Monday Morning Justice (Robyn) 

We Did This Records is a DIY punk distro from South Africa, and their Bandcamp is jam-packed with excellent SA punk releases. Most recently, the Johannesburg-based band Monday Morning Justice put out an EP entitled ‘The Ol’ Reacharound’ that’s been keeping me going while we’ve all been under lockdown and unable to have any local shows. MMJ’s sound borrows from a lot of influences, mixing together folk and ska punk with a liberal dash of South African flavour. Their latest EP really shows the band at the top of their game. The people behind We Did This Records are also just lovely humans who would really appreciate your support.

https://we-did-this-records.bandcamp.com/album/the-ol-reacharound

South Somewhere Else by Nana Grizol
Athens, Georgia, indie folk punk band Nana Grizol released their new album South Somewhere Else on June 26th. Lead by former Defiance, Ohio member Theo Hilton, this is the follow up to 2018's Theo Zumm LP. A concept album inspired by growing up in Athens, South Somewhere Else is one of the most beautiful folk punk albums I've ever heard. It's a quieter and slicker sounding style than you might expect but still empowers you in ways that all the best punk albums do.

https://nanagrizol.bandcamp.com/album/south-somewhere-else

Pleasure Vision by Bacchae (Emma)

I’m ashamed to say that I only came across Washington, D.C., four-piece Bacchae when they were listed on Angry Grrrl Music Of The Indie Rock Persuasion’s 100+ Black Artists To Support On Bandcamp Day article last Bandcamp day – but I guess that was the point of the article, to check out bands you may not know! I instantly took a liking to their synth-driven raw indie punk and the album Pleasure Vision has fast become one of my favourites of the year. They’re due to play The Fest this year (if it happens) so I’m definitely going to check them out live if I can.

https://bacchae.bandcamp.com/album/pleasure-vision

New Sun EP by Wrong Life

Wrong Life is the new project from Fraser Murderburger. Due to the current lockdown restrictions delaying the recording of the debut Wrong Life, Fraser started writing the second Wrong Life album which lead to him taking a break from that to create this EP. If you're already familiar with The Murderburgers then there will be familiarity here but Wrong Life present a pop punk with a more mid-tempo and restrained approach that really allows Fraser's brilliant lyrics to shine through. If this is a little taster of what to expect from Wrong  Life then I can't wait to hear the full album.

https://wronglife.bandcamp.com/album/new-sun-ep

The Way To Bombs EP by Smiley & The Underclass

London dub punks Smiley & The Underclass released their new EP, The Way To Bombs, this week. Mixing reggae and punk rock to make empowering protest music, the four piece have been working hard on spreading their message to fans all over the world for years now. The Way To Bombs is the follow up to 2017's brilliantly received debut album Rebels Out There. Smiley & The Underclass are a band that can expertly capture the energy and passion from their live show and recreate it on record.

https://smileyandtheunderclass.bandcamp.com/album/the-way-to-the-bomb-ep

Untenable by Bad Moves (Emma)

Released just last Friday, I saw that a lot of people on Twitter were stoked for Untenable, the latest album by Bad Moves. I soon understood why when I listened to the album myself – it’s really, really good. If infectiously catchy power pop is something you might be into too then this is a must buy for Bandcamp day. It’s certainly been the spirit lifter that I’ve needed this past week and I won’t be stopping listening any time soon.


Of course, we would be remiss not to recommend the CPRW Records catalogue during this post. So far our little label has put out six different releases raising money for five different charities – Mind, Crisis, Macmillan, Music Venue Trust and Refugee Action UK. Have you got them all yet? Bandcamp Day is a great day to complete your collection.

https://cprwrecords.bandcamp.com/

Our good friends in Burnt Tapes are also currently donating any money they make on their Bandcamp page to Black Minds Matter. For my money, they are one of the best bands in the world at the moment and are due to play The Fest in Gainesville later this year. This is a great opportunity to delve into their entire back catalogue (including their brilliant first release Wasted History) as well as two new acoustic covers and support a very worthy cause.

https://burnttapes.bandcamp.com/

If you didn’t pick them up on the last Bandcamp day, it's well worth checking out Decolonise Fest’s Bandcamp page to purchase one – or all – of their compilations. Decolonise Fest is a London-based DIY punk fest created by and for punx of colour. Comps like these are vital to diversifying your listening habits from typical all white male bands and DIY groups such as Decolonise Fest need our support and solidarity now more than ever.


If you're not on the hunt for new music but do want some new threads then head to Solidarity Not Silience's Bandcamp page. Solidarity Not Silence are a group of women facing a defamation case for speaking up about the disgusting treatment of women by a well known musician. Since 2017, they have been crowd funding the legal costs of this case. If you want to help out this extremely worthy cause and have a fresh new T-shirt to wear then click the link below.

https://solidaritynotsilence.bandcamp.com/

Last but certainly not least, INiiT Records, the new label created by Our Lives In Cinema frontman and unsung hero of the UK DIY punk scene Mark Bartlett, are donating all the money they receive to organisations working for equality for those who have been deprived of it. So far INiiT Records have put out two stellar releases from Ode To Sleep and most recently High Visions. Two great acts you need to check out.

https://iniitrecords.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Album Review: St Angry by Swayze


Canada is a factory for producing incredible punk rock bands. My latest discovery from that wonderful nation is Saskatoon’s Swayze. The four piece released their EP St Angry on May 15th. After seeing a recommendation from a friend, I knew it was something I had to check out and I wasn’t disappointed.


St Angry begins with its title track. This is a great introduction to Swayze for any newcomers. It starts with a pounding drumbeat and some distorted guitars that build the song up before some a great guitar riffs and then the vocals come in. Vocally it’s gruff and raspy and not too dissimilar to Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners. Chris Cresswell is widely regarded as having one of the strongest voices in punk rock so I’m all about hearing something similar here. As St Angry progresses the track gets more and more intense. I found this captivating. As it hits its absolute peak, the song stops dead before building up slowly again for its finale. This was a great way of keep me interested in the track. Up next is Trambopoline. This track shows a more melodic side of Swayze. I believe it also uses a different vocalist as the vocal is a lot cleaner and less raspy than it was on the previous song. At almost five minutes in length, this song is a long one but it really shows off the band’s ability to play their instruments as well as constructing a well thought out track. It doesn’t feel long just for the sake of it. There are highs and lows in perfect moments that really help to get you emotionally invested in the song.

Large Island Iced Tea is a song that’s packed with energy from start to finish. The vocals are clean and drive the song forward at a great pace. I love the raspy vocals as well. For the second half of the song we are treated to a more aggressive, primal style vocal which is accompanied by softer harmonies. This is a great touch to the song that I wasn’t really expecting and really loved. The penultimate song is titled Portrait Of An Ass Grabber. Showing some great variety, this is a one minute and seventeen seconds hardcore track, allowing the band’s third singer the opportunity to shine. It’s the most aggressive song on St Angry by some distance but if you’re more into the poppier side of punk this shouldn’t put you off. The song is full of melody and plenty of moments where you can sing along. The final track is named Gorilla For Sale and features Derek Kuchirka of Me The Guts on lead vocals. This sees Swayze take on a more pop punk sound with a cleaner vocal that can hit some big notes. I found it quite interesting having a guest vocalist sing the majority of the song but it adds even more variety to the EP. The slower pace gives the song more of a big feel and makes it the perfect choice to finish the EP.

Swayze and St Angry are among my favourite discoveries of 2020. Check them out, I really think they will be one of your favourites as well.

Stream and download St Angry on Bandcamp here.

Like Swayze on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Album Review: Smoking Section/Pool Noodle by Articles


Articles are a three piece from Gainesville that I very much hope to see at The Fest this year. Fingers crossed it can happen. I recently featured them on a top ten bands I’ve discovered during lockdown and I enjoyed them so much I wanted to review their latest release. In March, they released two new songs titled Smoking Section and Pool Noodle. Here’s my take on them.


Smoking Section is the more uptempo of the two tracks. The first thing that you notice is the Brendan Kelly-esque raspy vocals that give the song a great feeling of urgency. On the track, Articles deal with the topic of growing up and realising that life hasn’t gone the way that you wanted it to. They paint a great picture of being stuck in a plain office and thinking back to your days in school making big plans.

Pool Noodle is a slower track that instantly felt more serious than Smoking Section. The introduction has a powerful opening and when the vocals come in they don’t seem as urgent, focussing more on getting the message across rather than filling the track with energy. Pool Noodle is about people being radicalised into doing terrible things in the name of religion. It’s a heavy song that really makes you think.

This is a great introduction to Articles if you’re new to the band. It shows two different sides of the band and certainly left me wanting more. Since hearing this release, I’ve been spending some time going through their back catalogue and it does not disappoint.

Stream and download Smoking Section/Pool Noodle on Bandcamp here.

Like Articles on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Album Review: Someday, One Day by Modern Shakes


In 2019 London’s Modern Shakes released my favourite EP of the year with their debut Murmur. Obviously not a band to rest on their laurels, the band went back into the studio in December 2019 to record their next EP, Someday, One Day. As soon as I found out about this, gee whiz I was excited. In my opinion, Modern Shakes are one of the best new bands in the UK at the moment and deserve your attention. Playing melodic pop punk music inspired by bands such as The Lawrence Arms and Banner Pilot, Modern Shakes are the perfect band for you if you’re a fan of that Fest sound.


Someday, One Day begins with the song Fair Do’s. We were lucky enough to be asked to premiere the lyric video for the song so I was already aware of how good it was before I heard the EP. Those buzzing guitars at the start of the track immediately got me excited and when Ian Crook’s unmistakable vocal comes in I knew this was going to be another cracker of an EP. Starting off in superb, high tempo fashion hooked me in right away. This really is exactly how I love my punk rock. It fills me with energy and I want nothing more than to passionately shout along with the song. Perhaps taking a little page from their friends Burnt Tapes’ playbook of referencing older material, there is a great nod to Murmur and the song Freefall. Cruising slows things down a bit for a more tender sounding Modern Shakes. This is my first time hearing the band like this and I really enjoyed it. Ian’s vocals are able to do the rousing fist in the air punk rock but he can also get you emotionally. You should also check out his solo acoustic songs in Wayfairer. The song sees the band in a reflective mood, looking at the break up of a relationship due to people changing at different speeds and how it affects them.

The third song, Chew, isn’t quite as punchy as I’ve come to expect from Modern Shakes songs. Adding some indie punk style to their sound, it shows another side of the band. Drummer Dan Conant does a fantastic job in building the intro of the sound with a powerful beat. Cruising is the song on the EP that allows the whole band to show off their skill as musicians. Bass player Sam has some intricate sounding bass lines sprinkled through the song and guitarists Ian and Ian (not a typo, two guitar playing Ians) work together brilliantly. Chew is about realising that you need to make a change in your life, even if you don’t want to admit it. The final song on Someday, One Day is titled Spinning. The song starts slow before jumping into life with a return to the more uptempo Modern Shakes sound. They have managed to do that wonderful thing of making a final track feel like a final track with a catchy melody, a chorus that grabs your attention and some wonderful builds. The song has a bit of a party feel to it. I can imagine being in a crowd of people having one last sing-along to the band. It’s a hugely relatable song about feeling stuck in a rut with your life whilst the people around you seem to be making great progress.

I knew I was going to enjoy this EP before I heard it but I didn’t expect it to blow me away just like Murmur did. The band have had a line-up change or two between EPs but have still managed to release an absolutely first class EP that should see them gain more of a following. Before I heard Someday, One Day, I would tell everyone and anyone that Modern Shakes are one of the most exciting bands in the UK punk scene and this EP has really backed up my claims. Well done guys.

Someday, One Day will be available on all platforms on 1st July. Meanwhile, stream and download Fair Do’s on Bandcamp now here.

Like Modern Shakes on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 June 2020

CPRW Playlist: June 2020


CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Chris, Dan, Dan#2, Emma, Lee, Marcus, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to in June.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Top Tens: Ten Black Artists You Need To Check Out


The current Black Lives Matter movement has made a lot of people stop and think about a lot of things, myself included. It’s quite clear that most white people have a lot to learn about the oppression that people of the black community have to deal with on a daily basis. Something that I’ve heard brought up a lot is how stupid racism is, given that so much of our culture comes from black people. Black people have played a major role in shaping popular music. I’ve been looking at my own listening habits and realised that I don’t listen to many bands that have black members. This was obviously never a conscious decision – I’ve never checked out a band because of the colour of their skin – I mostly pick new bands based on whether or not I like their artwork. That said, I’ve come to the realisation that I should make a lot more effort to check out new music from black artists. And having a platform such as CPRW, I feel like I have a responsibility to showcase more diverse acts rather than just white guys.

For this top ten I took to the Internet to research and discover some bands that I’ve never listened to before. I was very strict on myself to make sure not to include bands I had listened to and enjoyed in the past. It was also very important for me to only have bands that I genuinely liked and not to include acts just because they have black members. Please check out these ten bands and spend some time checking out more bands that aren’t just four white chaps. Music is an art for everyone and comes from all walks of life. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t make the effort to discover new, different and diverse artists.

Action/Adventure
Action/Adventure are a self described “heavy pop punk” band from Chicago, Illinois. Since forming in 2014 the five piece have been super prolific with an impressive eight releases under their belt. Their most recent is the single Tuck Everlasting. This is strong single that really shows off considerable songwriting ability. It’s a melodic pop punk song that has plenty of highs and lows and really gives you the feeling that the band are taking you on a journey.

Art Sorority
Art Sorority is the acoustic project of Daoud Tyler-Ameen. When I first listened to Art Sorority I was instantly taken aback by Daoud’s brilliant voice. It’s softer than my usual tastes enjoy when listening to acoustic music but I found it absolutely captivating. Daoud isn’t the most active with Art Sorority anymore, his most recent release is an album full of demo versions. His most recent release of fresh and finished material came out in 2014 and is named Older Boys. You should definitely spend some time checking it out. Daoud also plays drums in the band Bad Moves who just put out a new EP named Cape Henlopen.

Dirty Rotten Revenge
Another band from Illinois, Dirty Rotten Revenge come from the town of Bloomington. The four piece band play intense punk rock that has taken influences of skate, hardcore and street punk to create something quite special. I really like music to fill me with energy and Dirty Rotten Revenge certainly do that. Dirty Rotten Revenge are due to play The Fest in Gainesville at the end of the year (if it goes ahead). If I manage to get out there, I will definitely be looking to check them out live.

Joncro
Joncro are a three piece garage punk/noise rock band from Canada. Something I really enjoyed listening to Joncro was their ability to surprise me, going from quiet lo-fi songs to louder, more rambunctious tracks and playing both extremely well. They appear to be a very productive band when it comes to releasing music with a number of singles and EPs released in the past few years.

Meet Me @ The Altar
I’ve seen Meet Me @ The Altar appear on a few lists promoting black musicians and after listening to them I can completely understand why. The three piece’s take on the pop punk genre is fantastic. In vocalist Edith Johnson they have an absolute star and she’s brilliant backed up by Téa Campbell (guitars) and Ada Juarez (drums). Meet Me @ The Altar clearly have all the tools to become huge stars in the future.

Rebelmatic
Rebelmatic are a New York based four piece who have been going since 2008. Mixing soulful vocals and groovy melodies with hardcore punk, the band aren’t shy when it comes to talking about their politics. They are a powerful band who I imagine put on an incredible live show. The band are getting set to release their debut album, Ghosts In The Shadow, and it couldn’t have come at a more relevant time. Rebelmatic could be one of the most important bands of 2020.

Screaming Toenail
South London four piece Screaming Toenail are a great band to listen to if you want to educate yourself on black history that hasn’t been whitewashed. Their 2015 EP Territorealities lays down some important facts that you need to know. Musically it’s hard to pigeon hole Screaming Toenail. They fall somewhere between emo/shoe-gaze and indie rock. I wish I was aware of this band years ago as I feel like they are vital to making an important change in UK culture.

Th’sheridans
London/Zurich based pop duo Th’sheridans certainly don’t fall into my usual listening tastes but their chirpy, upbeat music really won me over. Tackling subjects such as food, dating, small towns and more recently radical softness as a response to racism and sexism, Th’sheridans aren’t afraid of covering a wide range of topics. On May 1st they released a new single named I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered that I’ve been listening to a lot since discovering it.

Undead Generation
South Africa’s Undead Generation (formerly known as The Tsotsis) describe themselves as a “punk fusion” band with the intention of creating positive change through their music. The band take classic punk and just have fun with it, adding poppy hooks, big riffs and also some brass instruments to create their own unique style. Their 2019 album Carling, My Darling: Blood, Sweat and Beers is a brilliantly varied release that certainly deserved more attention worldwide.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Album Review: Magic Summer by The Sewer Rats


I may have mentioned a few times previously about my love of German punk rock on CPRW. There are so many great bands releasing fantastic music. At the end of April, Cologne’s The Sewer Rats released their new album Magic Summer on Uncle M, Monster Zero Records and Disconnect Disconnect Records. I first became aware of The Sewer Rats thanks to last year’s Hamburg Booze Cruise Festival and have been enjoying listening to their previous album Heartbreaks & Milkshakes ever since. When Magic Summer was released I couldn’t wait to hear it.


Magic Summer begins with the song chosen to be the lead single for the album, Rejuvenate. Rejuvenate is a song about going back to the things that you loved in your youth when things as an adult become too hard. It’s a fun and positive way to begin the album and also a great way to introduce new listeners to The Sewer Rats – melodic pop punk that’s wonderfully catchy and a lot of fun. Up next is I’m Quitting My Job. It’s pretty self explanatory what the song is about so I won’t patronise you with an explanation. The song is brilliantly simple and super accessible for everyone. It’s relatable for anyone who is in a job they don’t like and singing along with people who feel the same will be really cathartic. I Don’t Wanna Go To The Dentist No More is a less upbeat song about the fear that lead singer Chris Gin has about going to the dentist. This fear is something a lot of us go through but I don’t think I’ve ever known a band to write a song about it so lots of points for originality here. This is followed up by I Don’t Wanna Go To The Shrink No More. Any guesses on what this song is about? Lyrically it’s pretty minimalist but you get the point on what it’s about. Much like I’m Quitting My Job, there’s a cathartic feel to the song as you sing along to the track.

The fifth song is title My Sweet Chun-Li. This track is about Gin’s love for the legendary Street Fighter character Chun-Li. It’s a super sweet love song for a fictional character that does show a softer side of The Sewer Rats. It’s all a bit silly but it did make me smile a lot. Nasty Cut brings the tempo of the album back up. It’s a fast and punchy song about a barbershop in Düsseldorf. Definitely the first time I’ve ever heard a song about a barbershop. I like to think the band wrote this song to ensure they get free haircuts for life at Nasty Cut. The seventh track it titled My Baby Is At Groezrock (And I Am Not). It’s about Gin’s jealousy about his girlfriend being at Groezrock Festival without him and the range of feelings and emotions that go through his mind during the weekend. It’s all a little tongue in cheek but again something I’m sure we’ve all related to in one way or another at some point in our lives. The chorus in particular is crying out for a big sing-along with The Sewer Rats in a sweaty basement somewhere. This is The Sewer Rats at their best. I literally have no idea what Total Creep is about but it’s, again, a massively fun sing-along. Something about creeps, green skin and aliens that had me grinning from ear to ear.

Choice is probably the most serious and passionate song on Magic Summer. It’s about the positives of following a vegan diet. Not just for animal rights reason but for the good of our planet. What I really like about the song is how The Sewer Rats don’t come across as preachy but instead encourage the listener to make the right decision. I Don’t Wanna Leave My Room No More is another song that’s pretty self explanatory. This is one of the sadder songs on the album, particularly on the verse but does a wonderful job in building towards a big chorus. The harmonies that finish the track are a thing of beauty. The penultimate track is Down For Life. This song is about being a punk for life and being so proud of that even if people look down on your lifestyle choice. For some people, there is a belief that being an adult means not doing the things you loved as a kid and that’s not the case at all. You can be a grown up and still love the things you loved when you were younger. This song could become a bit of an anthem amongst the punks, many of whom will relate in a big way. I know I do. The album is finished with its title track, Magic Summer. This is another of the album’s slower songs where the band reminisce about the good old days of their youth and wish they could return to it. We all remember those great summers that were non-stop fun before adulthood and responsibilities got in the way. This is a fantastic chilled out way to finish the album. I’d love to hear an acoustic version of this song at some point in the future.

Magic Summer was one of my most anticipated albums of 2020 and it most definitely didn’t disappoint. As the title might suggest, it’s an album for the summer – for singing along with your friends on a warm night. It’s such a shame everything got cancelled this year as I was really looking forward to seeing The Sewer Rats at festivals all around Europe and singing along with the band.

Stream and download Magic Summer on Bandcamp here.

Like The Sewer Rats on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Album Review: Revolution Spring by The Suicide Machines


I must admit that when a band decides to release a new album for the first time in a long time I’m always a bit sceptical. In my experience, they might turn out to be good but they never hold a candle to their earlier material. When long running Detroit ska punk act The Suicide Machines announced they would be releasing their first album in fifteen years on Fat Wreck Chords this year my sceptical nature returned. Then I heard the first single from Revolution Spring, titled Awkward Always, and I became very excited for this record. It did not disappoint and has been on constant rotation at CPRW towers ever since. Frankly, it’s taken me way too long to get round to reviewing this album but here it is.


Revolution Spring opens with Bully In Blue. Unsurprisingly, The Suicide Machines kick things off in a hard hitting way with this song about racism throughout the police force. The song starts the album off in an energetic fashion with some of Rich Tschirhart’s bass lines really stealing the show. I was also immediately reminded how much I love Jason Navarro’s vocals – in my opinion it’s one of the most underrated vocals in punk rock. Up next is the brilliant first single Awkward Always. This is a more ska sounding song about feeling like you never fit in as a child and continuing to have that feeling through your adulthood. In the punk and ska scene, I imagine this song hits a chord with a lot of people so it was a great choice as a lead single. It’s also a lot of fun to skank and dance along to and the refrain with the great gang vocals will bring a crowd together. Babylon Of Ours looks at the subject of politicians profiteering on war and using the media to divide the people rather than trying to unite them. Musically it’s mostly played at a steady beat, allowing the message of the song to really stand out. The use of the keyboard throughout the song adds a great extra element without taking anything away from the song. The fourth song is titled Flint Hostage Crisis. This shows off the heavier side of The Suicide Machines sound. Navarro adds a little spite and anger to the way in which he delivers his vocal on the track. It’s about the people who have to live in poverty-like conditions in a nation as rich as the United States because the rich only look after themselves. The fact that this kind of thing is happening is really sad and I’m glad The Suicide Machines chose to put some light on this topic as I’m sure there are plenty of people unaware it’s even happening.

To Play Caesar (Is To Be Stabbed To Death) sees the band go back to more an uptempo ska sound that you can dance along with. Despite the fun nature of the song, it again carries quite a serious message about how people seem to pick pointless battles with each other rather than uniting against the people who really oppress them. Trapped In A Bomb is one of Revolution Spring’s sadder tracks. Because of this, the ska sound is taken out and we’re treated to a mid-tempo punk rock song instead. It’s a track dedicated to a lost friend, speaking of missing them and dealing with the grief that the death has caused. It’s interesting to hear this softer side of The Suicide Machine as it’s not something they’ve often displayed during their long career. The tempo is brought right back up on track seven – Detroit Is The New Miami. This is a fast paced hardcore track about how the Earth is in big danger and people are still denying that anything is wrong and are more interesting in making money than preserving our futures. There’s no surprise that the band went hardcore on this song as they are rightfully furious that this is being allowed to happen. Eternal Contrarian brings us to the halfway point of Revolution Spring. On this song, Navarro sings about constantly pushing in a different direction to someone and the problems it creates. Sticking with a straight forward punk sound, this is another of the softer Suicide Machines tracks. I love the variation that the first half of the record brought.

Well Whiskey Wishes is half a fast paced pop punk track and half a slow paced ska reggae song. I was kind of reminded of Rehasher during the speedier section which perhaps isn’t too surprising given that Roger Lima co-produced the album with the band. This track looks at what happens when you deal with having a bad day by drinking whiskey. The contrast in the two halves of the song is a delight and the subtle brass lines really add a lot to the song. Black Tar Halo sees the band hit top speed. It’s impressive how we can hit track ten and the band are still finding ways to grab your attention and still make you want more and more. This is another sad song about someone with a drug addiction and how they look to take advantage of people to get their next fix. Empty Time is almost a modern take on a more traditional two tone sound and I’m really into it. It’s about looking back at your past and thinking about the things you’ve done, before ultimately deciding to just move on. The opening guitar riff of Impossible Possibilities had me ready for a big party song. It’s a positive song about unity and thinking about what we can achieve if we found a way to work together. This kind of message was something that Revolution Spring has been missing up until this point. It warmed my heart to hear a song like this and it does give me hope that things can get better. The chorus was fantastic – “can you imagine what this could become, with hope and love and a little communication, can you imagine what this could become, with unity, fire and inspiration.”

Potter’s Song is a complete re-working of the Break Anchor song Defiant Culture. If you don’t know who Break Anchor are then they are another Detroit punk rock band who have ties with The Suicide Machines. They’ve taken the original, which is more of a heavy hitting street punk song, and given it more of a ska punk treatment which I honestly feel has improved the song. It’s about that punk rock staple of fighting the man and taking back what you think is yours. Simple adds some more positivity to the end portion of Revolution Spring. It’s a summery ska punk track that encourages the listener not to put up walls and how things aren’t always as bad as you think. The track is full of advice that will hopefully inspire anyone listening who is becoming closed off and even depressed. I’m a big fan of bands using their platform to try and help people and make them feel better. The penultimate song is named Anarchist Wedding. This shorter song is another about fighting the government. It’s one of the catchiest tracks on the album and you’ll be singing along with fists high in the air in no time. I always think that the best political songs are the ones that are simplest to sing-along to as they will unify and rally people together. If a political song is really wordy and complicated, it won’t have anywhere near the same effect as a simple one. Revolution Spring finishes with what is perhaps my favourite song on the album and what is definitely the cheesiest. This is The Suicide Machines version of a barroom sing-along and ensures that the album is completed in positive fashion. Titled Cheers To Ya, it’s about looking at the mistakes you’ve made in the past and learning from them to become a better person. The really long outro has me aching to see them live whenever they manage to make it back to the UK. Singing along to that moment in particular will be quite the highlight.

The Suicide Machines really did a fantastic job on this album. Normally I’d steer well clear of reviewing a sixteen track album but I couldn’t not review Revolution Spring as it’s so good. I feel like if you’re new to The Suicide Machines then this is a great place to start with them, before going back on their fantastic back catalogue. If you were already familiar with them then Revolution Spring is a brilliant addition to their discography.

Stream and download Revolution Spring on Bandcamp here.

Like The Suicide Machines on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Album Review: Vacant Hearts 7" by Hell's Ditch


Hell’s Ditch are somewhat of a UK DIY punk supergroup. Featuring previous members of River Jumpers, Chief, Bad Ideas, Dearest, Maycomb and Knock Out Kaine, the five piece have come together to release the Vacant Hearts 7”. Released by Disconnect Disconnect Records, Bypolar Records and Rosecoloured Records, Vacant Hearts was supposed to be the first step of a very busy year for Hell’s Ditch until the world fell over. Thankfully they were able to get these songs out into the world and what a couple of great songs they are.


The first of the two tracks on the Vacant Hearts 7” is its title track. Perhaps a little unsurprisingly, the first thing I thought when I heard the song was how nice it was to hear former River Jumpers vocalist Nick Davis’s voice again. One of my favourite vocalists in the DIY scene. If you were a fan of River Jumpers then you’ll perhaps know what to expect here – melodic pop punk music with an edge and plenty of great hooks. The song is about feeling dead inside and wanting to change that. The chorus is catchy enough that you’ll be singing along with the band and if it’s a topic you can relate to then you’ll certainly feel better screaming your lungs out to the song. A great positive introduction to Hell’s Ditch.

The other song on the 7” in titled Hope Is Hope. This is another song that bleeds positivity. It’s about holding on to hope when all feels lost. On this track, Hell’s Ditch show what fantastic lyricists they are. Perfectly crafting imagery within the lyrics, so much so you can almost imagine the characters involved in the story and envision the music video in your head. The production (by the legendary Mass Giorgini) is perfect. You can hear each instrument so well and can pick out all the subtle layers that each member of the band brings to the track. As you might expect, the song peaks at the chorus. The band do a great job building things up and getting you pumped for it to hit before you lose your voice shouting along.

This is a perfect introduction to Hell’s Ditch. You wouldn’t expect anything but quality from these guys and they definitely don’t disappoint. Hopefully, when the world is up and running again, the band can reschedule all of their cancelled shows and maybe even get some more music out. Two songs isn’t enough.

Stream and download Vacant Hearts on Bandcamp here.

Like Hell’s Ditch on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

News: Toodles & The Hectic Pity Release New Acoustic EP


Bristol sweethearts Toodles & The Hectic Pity have just released a brand new EP titled Familiar Pieces Of Furniture. The EP was recorded during Lockdown at their respective homes in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and mixed by the band’s drummer Dom. The EP features stripped back versions of songs from their two previous EPs Call In Sick (2017) and Ghosts, Guilt And Grandparents (2020).

https://toodlesandthehecticpity.bandcamp.com/

The band have been donating all proceeds from their Bandcamp to United Friends & Family Campaign and will continue to do so until June 19th.

The songs were originally intended to be composite videos produced in collaboration with Dan Canvin. Here's the first video for Ducklings.

Top Tens: Jake from Sunliner's Top Ten Stephen King Books


Hi! I’m Jake from SUNLINER. We just released our new EP ‘Structure/Average At Best’ on Lockjaw Records and Paper + Plastick Records. I have read far too many Stephen King books, here are my top 10 – enjoy!

1. 11/22/63

This was my ‘Desert Island’ book and one of the few books I’ve read more than once – SK’s time travel, political romp is one of my favourite books ever. In this he does what he does best and entwines ‘small town’ America with a big overarching plot AND lands the ending. The attention to detail of late 60s, early 70s America is incredible and, honestly, I could’ve even just stayed reading about Jake (the character, not me) being a teacher in the small town ‘Jodie’ for 700 pages. I read it just after my parents got me the first 8 Bob Dylan albums in mono for Christmas, and read the entire book listening to them – the perfect soundtrack to a perfect book, I’d recommend it!

2. The Shining

This is a really close second as it was the book that got me back into reading again. I got it in the first few months of my first year of Uni when I was having a really shit time and needed some escapism, I sat in my room for 2 days reading and making cups of tea when it got too scary and I needed a break. It kick started my love of reading again and, in turn, my love of Stephen King. If you’ve only ever watched the film, I really, really recommend reading the book as the film misses some of the book’s best scenes and the character development of Jack Torrance, who the film and Jack Nicholson make crazy from the get-go.

3. Misery

The weird thing about ‘Misery’ is that when you start reading you really don’t care about the book the in-story is writing, and by the end of it you’re just as interested in ‘Misery’s Return’ as the story itself. It’s intense and claustrophobic and genuinely great, more of a ‘thriller’ than a lot of his work and I think I’ve just convinced myself to reread it.

4. IT

IT is an everything book. It’s a horror, a comedy, a thriller and a coming of age book all in one. The character development throughout is incredible and, as much as I actually quite liked the recent adaptation, the films will just never be able to recreate that as well as a 1000+ page book can. It’s so much more than just a book about a clown.

5. The Stand

I took The Stand everywhere with me for months. I think it went on about 3 tours with me, went to my jobs, on holiday, to visit friends, it was just in my bag for ages. My copy is absolutely knackered. I’ve always been a slow reader and this is a maaaassive book that spans a whole bunch of time and a whole host of characters and stories. It’s a post-apocalyptic epic tale of good vs evil and isn’t shy of killing off your favourite characters.

6. Joyland

This is a short book published by ‘Hard Case Crime’ (opposed to his usual Scribner). I love this book. It’s a coming of age style story set in the early 70s of an early 20s student working at theme park during the summer break. It has some classic King supernatural ideas, but is far more about the story and the characters. Like Jake in 11/22/63, I could’ve just read about Devin’s summer there day by day. It’s the sorta of book that makes you feel like you’ve lost a friend once you finished it.

7. Under The Dome

Under The Dome got made into a dreadful TV show. Don’t be put off by how shit that was, the book is an awesome mix of Breaking Bad craziness and Gilmore Girls small town politics and goings on. The ending is a bit of cop out, but it’s totally worth the read for the journey. You’ll be invested in the town, trust me!

8. Pet Semetary

Another SK book with an awful adaptation. I put off reading this for ages because I thought it sounds stupid. Well, I was wrong. Probably one of SK’s scariest/most disturbing books, it has an eerie feel to the whole thing, I recommend reading at night or when it’s pissing down and grey outside for the best experience.

9. The Outsider

One of the most recent books in this list, I think two thirds of this book is some of the most effective and best things SK has ever written. The final third is still good but is far more regular King fare and therefore feels a bit King-by-numbers. Still great though, you’ll be hooked.

10. Revival

Revival is just loads of fun – a proper airport or holiday book, with classic Frankenstein-esque overtones. It’s cheesy and you can tell King had a bunch of fun writing this. And, well, I enjoyed reading it.

I chose to leave out short stories for this but a shout out to – Rita Haworth and The Shawshank Redemption, An Apt Pupil and The Body!