Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Album Review: Dirt Mall by Aerial Salad

Aerial Salad are without a doubt one of the most exciting young bands, not just in the UK but the whole world of punk rock. The Manchester based three-piece have made huge strides since forming in 2016 and playing what many have said is the worst set in the history of The Fest. Their debut album Roach was extremely well received when it was released in 2017. Since then the band have played shows here, there and everywhere – getting better with each set. Over the past year, they've been working hard on the release of their second album, Dirt Mall, which was released on the 27th of March on Plasterer Records as well as Aerial Salad’s new label Roach Industries. I was excited to hear some new material from the boys.

Dirt Mall kicks off with the song Virtue. After a brief intro with some buzzing guitars, it's not long before Jamie Munro's distinctive vocals make an appearance. Passionate, urgent and containing that thick Northern accent, this is an energetic opening for the album. Virtue gives Aerial Salad a grungier edge to their melodic pop punk style and shows the direction that they're heading on Dirt Mall. The next song, Romance?, was released as a single as a warm up for Dirt Mall. It was the perfect choice. The song starts out pretty slowly and shows much more restraint that I'm perhaps used to from Salad. Munro's vocals carry a certain amount of swagger in that opening verse. When the chorus comes in, it's pretty hard not to find yourself singing along. It's one of those brilliantly simple choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. Romance? is about wanting to have sex with someone that's in a relationship that isn't going anywhere and them also wanting to be with you but they can't because of their current status. How complicated. The third song is titled Fever Dream. Another of Aerial Salad's more restrained and, dare I say more, mature sounding efforts. This really is such a great example of the band’s growth over the past couple of years. When Roach was released I could never imagine the band writing a song like this and it being really good.

Temp sees the band pick the tempo back up for a little while. The track begins in quite a loud and brash fashion before soon shifting into a more regimented style. This switch during the song is a very striking method that keeps you listening to the track throughout. Such A Pity starts with a fun walking bass part from Mike Wimbleton. This bass line really carries the opening portion of the track whilst Jamie sings over the top of it. This is without a doubt one of the poppier songs on Dirt Mall and shows that, even though the band have developed, they haven't forgotten their roots. The way the song builds to its chorus is superb, as soon as Jamie yells "tell me, is this a horror film" I'm itching to sing along. I can't wait to see this song performed live. State O'Yer strikes me as one of those songs that gets better and better each time you listen to it. I think the best way of describing the overall sound of the song is by saying if you take the sound of every Teenage Bottlerocket song and add a whole lot of Northern intensity, this is what you’d get. This is where Aerial Salad really excel. Jamie sounds really pissed off as he storms through the track which seems to take aim at the posers in the music scene.

Track seven is the album's title track, Dirt Mall. I read in another review of Dirt Mall that if the reviewer was going to pick one track to sum up the overall sound of the album they would pick Dirt Mall. I would definitely agree with that statement. It's got a bit of everything you expect from the band – passion, energy, angst, cohesiveness, grungey punk rock and a big chorus. It's clear that, despite their relative youth, Jamie, Mike and drummer Matt Mills have been playing together for a good while and play to each other's strengths brilliantly. The penultimate song is named Lazy. This slower track could serve as a bit of an anthem for the band. It has a massive chorus of "I'm so lazy, I don't even feel like moving at all" that I can see crowds at DIY venues all around the UK shouting loudly back at the band. The final track on Dirt Mall is Stressed. This was a great choice of song to finish the album. It's a powerful plodder of a song. It never really hits any massive heights but is also impossible to ignore. This is in part down to a stabby guitar riff and a simple but effective drum beat. It paints a grim but truthful picture of what life is like for most working class, young twenty something people in the UK and how people try and get through it. I laughed when I first heard the lyric "live your own life, the best you can and love your mam". That is such a Jamie Munro lyric.

Dirt Mall definitely delivers on the promise Aerial Salad have as a band. Of all the bands in the UK's ever growing DIY scene, they seem like the most likely to break out into getting some more mainstream attention. Could Aerial Salad become the voice of their generation? How would I know? But it certainly wouldn't surprise me. I can't wait to see them on Sunday Brunch in the future.

Stream and download Dirt Mall on Bandcamp here.

Like Aerial Salad on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Album Review: Born & Bored by Guilhem (by Lee Morton)

Guilhem is a singer/songwriter hailing from Montreal in Canada who clearly doesn’t like sitting still. As well as this, his first full length solo album, he has also released a couple of solo EPs, albums with his band, the excellent Lost Love, and is one of the team behind the successful Pouzza punk festival held in Montreal every year. In fact, it was back at Pouzza 2016 that I first encountered Guilhem, playing his folksy punk during one of the many early acoustic shows that were the perfect pick me up from the debauchery of the previous night.

If you’re familiar with Lost Love then this solo record is exactly as you’d expect, a stripped-down version, with dollops of their darkly quirky humour, often downbeat themes over upbeat music. It’s a very simple format but that means that there’s nothing to hide behind and it has to stand on the strength of the songwriting which shines through, not always brightly but enough to illuminate the path over the journey of the album. When I say journey, that doesn’t mean to say this is a concept album but there are recurring themes that crop up across the record.

The album starts with the delicate intro of “Just A Little Bit Above The Bottom”, which has a simple nursery rhyme quality to it. At just over a minute, half of which is instrumental, it eases you into the album proper with “Jurasticly”, an upbeat folky punk number packed with an infectious charm that worms its way into your ear and gives your heart a massive hug.

One of the main themes of the record is the stress and reality of growing up and this is perfectly captured on “5tr3sss”. With hints of Weezer at their best, this is another catchy number that shines a light on the pressures of modern life and, whilst the subject matter can sound depressing, it’s delivered in such an upbeat, positive way that you are quickly humming along.

What makes this album so accessible is the simplicity to the songs, which is not to take anything away or meant in any derogatory way. “Sober Realism” is a great example of this, a simple song structure that is instantly familiar and captures your attention. “Downward Spiral” follows and has that easy-on-the-ear sound, although with a bit of the alt-folk-rock vibe of a band like The Eels.

One of my favourite tracks here, “Happy On Paper” is up next and addresses anxiety and depression and how although things look like you should be happy, if you scratch underneath the surface things aren’t always as they seem. Depressing? No, this quirky track will still manage to make you smile with some upbeat brass parping in.

The mining of dark and depressing topics, and turning them into musical gold continues on “Heart (Attack) Of Gold” which in the chorus asks “how will you die” and continues to list ways to die during the verses. It’s darkly comic but retains a sense of light relief, especially during the spoken word fade out where the voiceover talks about what a great life they had, until they died.

Penultimate song, “Slow Song”, is exactly what you would expect from the title – slowed down verses that once again are simple to sing along to but then increases in volume over the chorus. It’s another that has a real familiarity to it and the choir-like backing vocals provide an extra layer of depth to it.

The album ends with a real highlight for me. Slightly rockier than the rest of the album, “The Needs” hits the sweet spot between folk and rock. Almost the flip side to “Happy On Paper” this addresses what you need, or don’t need, to be happy and is more upbeat in both tempo and volume, although the extended fade out of weird ambient noises perhaps goes on for longer than necessary.

Overall, this is a well-made album that has its finger on the pulse of the modern world but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Catchy, melodic and relevant, this is a great listen that reveals more depth every time you listen to it.

Stream and download Born & Bored on Bandcamp here.

Like Guilhem on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Album Review: Le Feu Et Le Sable by Airstream Futures (by Chris Bishton)

It doesn't seem very long since Chicago's alt-punks Airstream Futures released their debut album Spirale Inferale. In fact, it's been over two years. So, it's actually about right that they should release the follow up now, another with a French title – Le Feu Et Le Sable – and on one of my favourite labels, Sunderland's Little Rocket Records.

Unfortunately, language skills were not my strong point at school and having failed to pass GCSE French it means I'm forced to Google the translation – 'Fire and Sand.' I'm not sure why both their albums have these French titles, but hey, there were a lot of things at school that weren't my strong point. (Spirale Inferale translates to Infernal Spiral in case you're wondering – I'm sure you weren't.)

Cemetery Sparrow is the opening track and is also the lead single from the new album. A fast and seemingly upbeat track, the song actually addresses mental health, anxiety and depression, whilst set in an old cemetery.

It's a subject that we've written about and held dear at CPRW (if you haven't already, check out CPRW's release for the mental health charity MIND to discover some new favourite bands) and huge credit should go to Airstream Futures for opening the album with this song.

It's also a subject that the band have written about before. Their previous 7" single, If I & PR Nightmares, addressed depression but is a banger. I've listened to Cemetery Sparrow repeatedly now, and it too is a cracking track. It's my favourite on the album and is both a great way to kick off the record and set it up for the rest of the record.

The following 11 songs all knit together very neatly. Listened back to back, I do find they merge from one to another, but that isn't meant as a criticism; rather it feels as if the album flows really well.

The guitars are all fast and Devon's vocals are really strong throughout. I find they're kind of haunting, but extremely melodic. She's a great singer. Brighter Blue, the penultimate song on side one, is one of the tracks that really brings this home. Soaring vocals that fit majestically with the rhythm and guitars.

This new album is definitely a progression from their first. But that's not to say it's markedly *better* because Spirale Inferale was a fine debut. It does feel that the band members work together in a more coherent way though.

Even though Airstream Futures are relatively new as a band, the members have pedigree having been in some of my other favourites including The Methadones, The Bomb and the hugely underrated Noise By Numbers.

It's produced by Rodrigo Palma of Saves The Day and Derek Grant of Alkaline Trio and, to top it all, the godlike genius Frankie Stubbs even sings backing vocals… so let's face facts, I was always going to enjoy this album.

Stream and download Le Feu Et Le Sable on Bandcamp here.

Like Airstream Futures on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Making A Case For NOFX (by Lee Morton and Brett Coomer)

Here's part three of our new series – Making A Case For. In this series, two of the CPRW team take a classic punk rock band and put forward their argument as to why their choice of album is the band’s best. Today, Lee and Brett nominate the best NOFX album.

Making A Case For Punk In Drublic (Lee Morton)

Cast your mind back to 1994, the grunge era is on its last legs and nu-metal is just taking off. Both Green Day and The Offspring have broken punk into the mainstream conscious with the release of “Dookie” and “Smash” respectively and DIY punks NOFX released their fifth, and still their most successful album to date, “Punk In Drublic”.

Against the introverted grunge scene and toxic masculinity of nu-metal, the juvenile humour mixed with short, sharp hook laden tracks that make up “Punk In Drublic” was a much needed adrenaline shot in the arm of the DIY punk scene. Streamlining the more hardcore punk of their earlier releases, this album, more than any others since, truly captures the spirit of NOFX and laid the template for all their future albums.

With sales in excess of 1 million copies worldwide, despite limited radio play or music TV coverage, it is one of the most successful independent album releases of all-time and effectively saved Epitaph Records as well as ensuring the growth of Fat Wreak Chords, with both labels becoming synonymous with mid-90s punk.

If the numbers aren’t enough to justify this as their greatest release, then what about the songs? One look at the track-listing and it reads like a greatest hits set, which in effect is what it is. Fan favourites such as “Linoleum”, “Leave It Alone” and “The Brews” are live constants and almost perfect punk songs, but dig deeper and there’s plenty of meat to get your teeth into with racism in their sights on “Don’t Call Me White” and “The Brews” whilst politics get shot down too with “Perfect Government”.

In fact, “Perfect Government” paved the way for NOFX to become more political with future releases, such as “The Decline” which Brett will wax lyrically about but the fact is, would they have even made that record without the foundations laid down in “Punk In Drublic”?

The influence that this record has made on other bands is without question, having inspired many good, and not so good bands, to pick up instruments but by also incorporating ska and reggae into their sound they helped keep the flames of these genres burning during some lean years.

Now, if none of this helps convince you that this was their finest hour then I shall leave the last word to guitarist El Hefe, who told the Associated Press in 2014 that “to me, that was our best album” so if he thinks that then it must be true.

Making A Case For The Decline (Brett Coomer)

In 1999, NOFX was one of the biggest punk bands on the planet that wasn’t being played on mainstream radio or TV and had been together for over 15 years. So one would expect the band to release an album with more of the same short, fast, snotty punk songs that built their establishment. Instead, according to the band they had “done enough short songs, time for a long one” and at 18-and-a-bit minutes ‘The Decline’ is definitely the longest song in the band’s catalogue and one of the longest punk songs ever recorded.

‘The Decline’ is only one song, but it has more dynamics and musical nuance than a lot of albums made up of 9 or more 2-plus minute songs. The song starts off as any normal NOFX song would, with some bass chords ringing out over a fast hi-hat beat, and very quickly makes you think of a typical punk rock song. But, with the help of some seamless key and time signature changes throughout its 18 minutes, ‘The Decline’ takes the listener on a journey through what can only be described as movements, each with its own distinct feel, while still contributing to and staying consistent with the theme. It never shies too far away from the NOFX sound though, featuring all of the characteristics you’d expect on any NOFX album: blazingly fast drum beats, frantic but fluent bass lines, awesome yelling backing vocals from Eric Melvin, and a number of guitar solos from El Hefe. Much like the music, the lyrics tell a few different stories and offer a range of attacks, both metaphorical and blatant, on the state of the American government, policies and the general decline of society. All themes that are mostly still valid today.

Choosing a single favourite album from a band like NOFX with such a large catalogue of music is always going to be a challenge. I’m almost positive that if you surveyed everyone at a NOFX concert you’d get a bunch of votes for each of their albums (maybe with the exception of Liberal Animation) with perhaps two or three outliers like Punk In Drublic, Wolves in Wolves Clothing, and So Long And Thanks for All The Shoes, which are all really great albums and worthy of the praise but they all still have one flaw in common: filler.

The question may be asked: Is it a song? Is it a punk rock opera? Is it an EP? Is it an album? Who cares. Whichever label you’d like to place on ‘The Decline’ by NOFX, it takes nothing away from the fact that it is an impressive piece of music released by one of the most prolific, divisive, and infamous bands of modern punk rock and remains an achievement of epic proportions even 21 years after it was first released.

P.S. The vinyl is more than just one song, as the B-side features a demo version of a more traditional length and sounding NOFX song, perhaps to remind everyone that the band hadn’t completely lost touch with their short fast punk roots.

This feature was written by Lee Morton and Brett Coomer.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Album Review: Cause A Stir by Charmpit (by Emma Prew)

London via California DIY pop(star) punk band Charmpit are gearing up to release their much anticipated debut full-length on the 3rd of April. Titled Cause A Stir, the album is being released by the always excellent Specialist Subject Records and follows on from Charmpit’s previous releases on Keroleen Records and Everything Sucks. Since those releases, original members Anne Marie, Rhianydd and Alex have been joined by Estella (who also plays in Big Joanie) and have further perfected their sound.

We saw Charmpit support RVIVR in London a couple of years ago and I remember being impressed by their feisty yet, well, charming songs and live performance. So, when the wonderful Erica over at Specialist Subject sent over an early stream of Cause A Stir, I was understandably keen to check it out.

Cause A Stir kicks off with Do It Together. The song has nothing to do with the Fest we helped to host at the New Cross Inn earlier this year but it does sound like it could have been our theme tune. Opening first with drums and then some bass, Charmpit talk us through how you can easily start a band if you do it with your friends (and friends of friends) – it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes because you’re doing it together. Charmpit played their first show in 2016 at DIY Space For London’s ‘First Timers’ project and this song feels like a homage to that and their DIY roots in general. It’s also a brilliant albeit short and sweet album opener. Bridges Go Burn is up next and this song is as insanely catchy as it is uplifting. Released as a single late last year, Bridges Go Burn is about is about cutting someone out of your life because they’re not worth your time, making you doubt yourself and your ability to just live your life the way you want to. It’s pretty empowering stuff and I’m sure others will be able to relate. It’s really catchy too, did I mention that? ‘You’re stepping on my tongue now, Getting in my head, Make me doubt myself now, Leaving it unsaid…’

Jimnastics is a straight-up indie punk banger. With mid-tempo verses featuring vocals that seemingly come from everywhere – Charmpit sure know how to pack the harmonies into their songs – and a more fast-paced chorus, Jimnastics is littered with twinkly guitar melodies and is just generally a whole lot of fun. Fourth song, Princess Video, is a slower paced number that really allows Charmpit’s vocalists, Anne Marie and Rhianydd, to shine – what incredible voices this band has. Princess Video feels like a very nostalgic song, reminiscing on simpler times when every second of life wasn’t recorded on a mobile phone. The highlight of the song has to be the bridge when two different vocal parts are sung at the same time. The passion that each vocalist puts in is so heartening. Sophomore Year begins slowly before cranking up the volume and putting the punk into femme-punk – by which I mean there is a certain venom to those otherwise sugary sweet vocals. This contrasts really wonderfully with the softer, more melodic parts of the song. There’s a lot of variety on offer throughout Sophomore Year, keeping the listener on their toes and showing that Charmpit don’t intend to stick to one defined sound. Of course, I love the song’s ending as Charmpit yell ‘Viva Anarachy!’.

Picking the pace back up as soon as it gets going, Kissing You is a cheery, jangly pop song about being excited to meet up with your crush. The song is as much about the anticipation of the date as the actual date itself – how your heart races just at the thought of seeing that special someone… and kissing them. It’s a short, light-hearted and genuine tune that really puts a smile on your face. Wild Wild Westfield is the name of track number seven. It’s a song that I hope you’re familiar with since it was released as a single in February. That, plus it’s absolutely brilliant. This is possibly the catchiest song on Cause A Stir – although I might be bias because I’ve listened to this one track a lot. Wild Wild Westfield is an irresistible love letter to the shopping mall and the fun that can be had there, as well as historically being a place designed for women – a safe space if you will. It’s certainly given me a different view of shopping centre. ‘This mall is your land, this mall is my land, no femme is a fashion island!’. Muffy Plays Poker is kick-ass tune about feeling like you’re only just starting to live your life while those around you, including your past loves, seem to be growing up, getting married and doing other adult things. Life can feel like it’s going too fast sometimes. There’s some particularly brilliant guitar work on this song – Estella sure can shred.

The puntastically titled Dyed And Gone To Hairven feels darker in tone than much of the album so far with a deep, chunky bass line to open the song. Charmpit start by singing of shaving your hair and/or dying it green as a form of self-expression or therapy. At face value, it could seem almost self-centred or superficial but a new haircut can feel like a total transformation and can sometimes be just what you need to make you feel yourself again. I really admire Charmpit for writing songs about such a wide variety of topics and making me think about things I’ve never really considered before. I guess that’s the sign of a great songwriter. Here For The View (Santa Cruz) is the penultimate song on Cause A Stir. Sweetly melodic and upbeat, Here For The View is similar to Muffy Plays Poker in that it seems to be about growing up and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do – ‘Here for the view, So little time so much to do, 24 hours to spend with you.’ (Plus, I’m almost certain that ‘Muffy’ gets a mention at the end of the first verse). It’s a carefree tune that feels super summery – perhaps because I’m thinking of California and it’s always sunny there, right? As track number ten fades out, we come to the album’s closing song. Baby Needs A Breeze takes yet another musical direction as Charmpit deliver what it the most laid-back, yet feel-good song on Cause A Stir. It feels like the band are soothing the listener as they collectively sing ‘Breeze, You’re a diamond in my world, Making it all possible, Breeze, Open up and find a pearl, So beautiful…’. I know they’re singing ‘breeze’ but it feels like they could be saying ‘breathe’. I often say how I like an album to end with a bang but it’s also lovely to have an album end with a feeling of calm.

I feel like everything is going to be okay. Thank you, Charmpit!

You can stream the two singles from Cause A Stir on Bandcamp here, as well as pre-ordering the album. You can also like Charmpit on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Album Review: Steven Island by Maladroit

In February, French punk rockers Maladroit released their first new music in five years! The Parisian band have been a fixture in the European pop punk scene for years and I became a fan of theirs when I saw them play with Frenzal Rhomb, Direct Hit and Mike TV at The Underworld in Camden in 2014 (I think). What a line-up that was! Their newest release is an EP named Steven Island and it features four brand new songs based around four of Steven Spielberg’s most famous films – Jurassic Park, ET, Jaws and Indiana Jones. After being away for so long, this was the most fun way to come back.

Steven Island begins with Darwin's Got Our Back which is based around Jaws. This wasn't the fast paced and melodic pop punk song I expected to start the EP. Instead it's a stabby, stop-start type of song which has a bit of a darker tone than I usually expect to hear from Maladroit. That's not saying I didn't enjoy the song though. In fact, I thought it was a striking way to start Steven Island and it really made me take notice. Despite the structure of the song, it's still packed with memorable lines and hooks that will stick in your mind and have you singing along in no time. Up next is Raptor Lover (based around Jurassic Park). This song is far more what I was expecting from the EP. Fast, simple, catchy and lots of fun. The line "they say I'm a bad seed" is repeated a lot throughout the song so you'll have no excuse to not be singing along when you see them live. The song is from the point of view of the scientists who created the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and how they say they're not bad people, they just wanted to see if it could be done.

The third song on Steven Island is titled Exploration Team (Indiana Jones). This is the most conventional pop punk tune on the EP. Think of bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights and you get the idea. Bringing the tempo up even higher than before adds an urgency to the track that I really loved. Lately I'm really enjoying all my music to have some urgency about it. That's not to say that melody is sacrificed on the song. On the song, Maladroit seem to have found the perfect blend of both urgency and melody. I dig it. Last up is Communication Fuck Up, based around ET. Communication Fuck Up mixes the stabby sound of Darwin's Got Our Back and the urgency of Exploration Team so you get the best of both sides of Maladroit's sound. Lyrically it follows a pretty simple structure. I love a simple song though, it connects with me quicker and keeps me entertained. I enjoyed the use of multiple vocalists on the track. Each vocalist bringing a different style helped add a truck load of energy to the track that gets you pumped up and leaves you wanting much more.

Maladroit have returned with a really fun EP which features four fantastic songs. I'm always impressed with how pop punk bands manage to create a variety of sounds. It's such a unique theme to base an EP around and the band have pulled it off superbly. Bravo Maladroit.

Stream and download Steven Island on Bandcamp here.

Like Maladroit on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Album Review: swell by WIG (by Marcus Pond)

WIG is a three-piece rock band from Chicago that now has a pair of EPs under their belt. Not too keen on following basic capitalization structures, their band name is in all caps, while neither of their EPs (their debut “wig” and most recent “swell”) contain any capitals. They’re not too big on capitalism either, as they are unsearchable on iTunes and Spotify, and their Bandcamp page states that you can “name your price” for their music.

swell opens up with “I Don’t Mind”, which has a Dinosaur Jr. feel about it, alternating between fuzzy, 90s era alternative rock tones. It’s a sweet, grungy love note to that special someone, opening up with the line “You got a way / To make me almost forget everything”. It’s upbeat and you can almost feel the wind blowing through your hair as you listen to it.

In the middle of the five song release is “Heap”, a two minute instrumental that I originally mistook for a long intro into the fourth track, but actually stands up really well on its own. I’ve tended to kind of disregard what I consider a kind of “throw away” instrumental tracks (because I’d prefer it to have some lyrics to make it a little more memorable, I guess), but it’s got a great riff and seems like part of an intimate jam session they decided to mic up. You’ve won this round, instrumental tracks.

“Fencing” is the most punk tune on the EP, and definitely my favorite. It kicks off with some intense drumming, interspersed with angular guitars and a rolling bass line. After the build up, vocalist/guitarist Chris Gottlieb channels his inner Ian McKaye, growling about neutral onlookers who shy away from taking sides over important matters. “From atop this fence / I can look down / Oh little people / Choosing some ground / Don’t dare to offend / Anyone at all / Who might put a dent in / My social capital”. Definitely an appropriate listen on my way to the voting booth at the beginning of March. The last 20 seconds or so devolve into a frenzy of drumming and swirling guitars, which left me feeling a little exhausted after the first listen.

I love the DIY-feel of swell, and the sound that WIG has honed on their second EP. I’m a sucker for accumulating great music on vinyl, but if they keep on putting out cassettes, I might need to dig up a Walkman to more fully enhance my auditory experience.

RIYL: Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Drilling For Blasting, deciding whether to eat at Portillo’s or Giordano’s

Stream and download swell on Bandcamp here.

Like WIG on Facebook here.

This review was written by Marcus Pond.

Friday, 27 March 2020

CPRW Playlist: March 2020

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

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The Big CPRW Manchester Punk Festival 2020 Preview (by Brett, Dan#2, Emma, Lee, Robyn and Colin)

I'm sure you've heard by now that Manchester Punk Festival 2020 was sadly cancelled last week due to COVID-19. This was devastating for a lot of people, none more so than the collective of legends that works so hard on putting together what I think is the best festival in the world. Here at CPRW we always like to preview MPF and talk about some of the bands we're looking forward to seeing. This year, six of the CPRW team were due to attend MPF. As a group we had each selected ten bands to talk about and would be releasing a five part series previewing the bands. We all worked very hard putting this together and didn't want it to go to waste – and we still wanted to give some love to the bands and the festival. Instead of releasing this in five parts, we decided to just release it in on massive blog post – so we didn't just bum ourselves out five weeks in a row that MPF isn't happening! Please give this a read, check out the bands, give them some love (and if you can, some money – I'm sure they would appreciate it) and then do the same with MPF to help them come back better than ever in 2021.

On Friday evening MPF are hosting a live stream featuring some of the acts who were due to play the festival including The Flatliners, The Bar Stool Preachers, Chewing On Tinfoil, Erica Freas, Proper., Me Rex and Cultdreams. Be sure to check it out at @mcrpunkfest on Instagram.

Aerial Salad (Emma)
Probably one of the most exciting punk bands in the UK scene at the moment, as well as locals to Manchester, Aerial Salad’s set at MPF is bound to be highly anticipated by many – including all of us here at CPRW. If you like catchy pop punk music with raucous edge and particularly captivating live performance then you’ll love Aerial Salad. The band are due to release their second album, Dirt Mall, in April so you can expect to hear tracks from that live as well as classics from their debut, Roach.

The Bar Stool Preachers (Lee)
The Bar Stool Preachers have been on the ascendency for the past couple of years now, with constant touring not just up and down the country but the last couple of years has also seen them make some big inroads into America, supporting The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Interrupters to name just a couple. Their cheeky infectious positivity demands that you have a good time and in T.J. McFaull they have one of the most charismatic and friendly frontmen you could meet over the weekend and with a UK tour running through February and March expect them to be battle hardened come MPF.

Belvedere (Brett)
I was late to the Belvedere party. I became a fan of the spin-off band This Is a Standoff in 2009, completely ignorant to their history, and it was only after their demise that I thought to dig into the history and find Belvedere. What I found was as close to perfection as possible, as far as my music taste was concerned. Belvedere play super fast, super technical punk rock filled to the brim with melody and harmonies that I would challenge any punk fan not to enjoy. Their latest album The Revenge of The Fifth was well worth the wait for fans of the iconic band, and exceeded all expectations with an evolution in songwriting and production. I can imagine the whole floor going crazy for Belvedere with a pit that will test the stamina of all involved.

Bootscraper (Emma)
I must admit to never having properly listened to Leeds aggro-folk punk legends Bootscraper before they popped up on the MPF playlist. I was aware of them as a TNSRecords band and I saw vocalist/guitarist Tim Loud play solo at a previous MPF but for some reason I thought Bootscraper was a hardcode band (which is not generally my cup of tea, I’m afraid)… it turns out they are in fact a combination of bluegrass, country, folk, gypsy, punk and shanties! Which is obviously much more up my street. From what I’ve heard on recording, I imagine this Bootscraper to be an excellent live band.

CF98 (Brett)
One of the best things about MPF every year is that it doesn’t only feature bands from the UK and US punk scenes but also showcases many bands from countries with relatively lesser-known scenes. CF98 are from Poland, which is definitely not a country that I would normally associate with punk rock. The band are able to craft fun-filled, positive songs featuring pop hooks, melody, and speedy skate punk that will be sure to translate well live. The vocals are a particular highlight for me. With a style somewhere between early Paramore Hayley Williams and Sima from Not On Tour, Karolina has some of the best vocals in skate punk in my opinion. Don’t sleep on this one, I expect the CF98 set to be full of energy and remembered long after MPF ends.

Chas Palmer-Williams (Emma)
I once told Chas Palmer-Williams, outside the New Cross Inn, where I got the falafel wrap that I was eating at the time by pointing down the road and failing to remember the word to describe the canopy that sticks out above a shop, or in this case restaurant, window – ‘awning’. He got his food and later that evening played one of the best sets I’ve ever seen, with Lightyear. When not playing in the legendary and downright bizarre ska punk band, Chas can sometimes be found armed with just an acoustic guitar and some incredibly witty lyricism. He is certainly one of the most charismatic acoustic acts you’ll see all weekend.

Chewing On Tinfoil (Dan#2)
Chewing On Tinfoil is a band that I am completely in love with. They have a way of hitting my heartstrings with every word, and they have some of the best gorram song writing. They have a sort of cult following within the punk scene in that almost everyone I know recommends and rates them. Whether it's ska-punk or pop-punk, whatever genre they lean into they seem to do it perfectly while presenting their own take on the style. I have never seen them live so I'm expecting really big things! If you haven't listened to them before, pick up a copy of "Marrowbone Lane" and I'm sure it will leave you wanting to see them at MPF.

Cultdreams (Robyn)
Cultdreams is a band that marries punk angst with the swirling reverb of shoegaze. I was really impressed with their first full-length album (entitled Seafoam and released under the previous moniker of Kamikaze Girls), and enjoyed their latest offering (Things That Hurt) as well. Their sound is other-worldly and atmospheric, but also loud and brooding with sharply critical lyrics. I’m ready for the big sound and fuzzy moodiness that Cultdreams promises, and looking forward to hearing some of my favourite tracks like “Berlin” and “Deathcap”.

The Dauntless Elite (Colin)
It's been years since I've seen The Dauntless Elite. It was at Urban Bar (Whitechapel, London) for the release of their excellent split with Slow Science, that may have also been Slow Science's last ever show. I remember being so impressed with The Dauntless Elite at that show so I'm over the moon to have the chance to see them again. Featuring some fantastic dual vocals – one of my favourite things – The Dauntless Elite were one of the most well respected bands in the DIY scene whilst they were more active. It would be silly to miss this rare opportunity to see them.

Daves (Colin)
Daves are a new band to me. I first heard of them through my pal Sarah Shout Louder after she raved about the Leeds based trio. When I read their name on the first MPF line up announcement, they were one of the names that got me the most excited. Playing high octane indie punk rock, Daves have a bit of a reputation as one of the North's best new bands, so I'd expect a very good turn out for their set. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing Change and shouting along to the lyrics "I'm not ready to admit, I think I'm a piece of shit." Honestly I think that could be one of the biggest sing-alongs of the entire weekend.

Dead Neck (Dan#2)
The first skate punk band I ever saw was Dead Neck. I knew nothing much of the genre at the time, and I couldn't believe that bands could play that fast and be that tight. To this day, I haven't seen many bands that are better than Dead Neck were that night. That's why I'm jumping at the chance to see them again and even more so to hear some of the songs off their split with Actionmen, which is a perfect showcase of technical mastery of each instrument. It has great harmonies while the songs remain tight structurally. I also admit I would "Die Tryin'" to hit some of those amazing bass lines.

The Deadites (Robyn)
The Deadites are a three-piece melodic punk band from Peterborough. I discovered them while making my way through a playlist of MPF bands and really liked their steady energy and raspy vocals. Their live studio EP, The Den Sessions, offers a great preview of the kind of vibrancy and fun we can expect at the festival, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more from these guys soon.

Decent Criminal (Lee)
Taking influence from the 90s alternative music scene and mixing it up with punk and garage rock, Northern California band Decent Criminal create a sound that flits between poppy and sombre. Their unique three-part vocal harmonies provide an emotional depth to the songs, especially on the most recent release, 2019’s “Bliss”. With a European Tour booked in April alongside Aerial Salad and culminating at MPF they should be firing on all cylinders and looking to end the tour with a bang.

The Decline (Brett)
The Decline are a skate punk band from Perth, Australia, and have been a favourite of mine since hearing their debut I’m Not Gonna Lie To You a few years ago. The band has gone through some line-up changes since then but their formula has remained fairly consistent and they’re yet to put music out that I don’t immediately love. Their latest album, Flash Gordon Ramsey Street, is no exception and made it into my top 3 albums of 2019. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live a few times now and had the pleasure of chatting to Pat at a small show in LA way back in 2015 where the guys were nice enough to sign my copy of Resister and hand me a set list. If being super nice guys isn’t enough, they also put on a super tight show and if you’re a fan of fast skate punk with an Australian accent it doesn’t get much better than The Decline.

Discharge (Lee)
The term “legends” gets bandied around a little too easily these days but I can’t think of a more appropriate way to describe Stoke punk pioneers Discharge. Why? Well, just take a look at some of the bands that they’ve inspired or influenced – Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura and Machine Head are just some of the bands to have covered their songs. Without Discharge, it’s fair to say that the punk/metal world would look very different. Need more proof? How many other bands can say that they started a whole new genre? Without Discharge we wouldn’t have the D-Beat sound which has gone on to inspire many crust/thrash/hardcore bands. MPF will also see them celebrating the 40th anniversary of their seminal “Realities Of War” EP but, with a long discography, you can expect plenty of classics thrown in as well.

Don Blake (Brett)
Manchester locals Don Blake play melodic pop punk and, depending on how far back you go into their catalogue, can be reminiscent of ramonescore bands like The Methadones and The Steinways or more modern pop punk bands like Eat Defeat. Don Blake’s songs take me right back to my years as a young teenager, finding my way into underground music through pop punk. Catchy singalong pop punk still holds a special place in my heart and quite often the only way I can get through morning traffic is by putting on some loud music I can sing along to. Although their songs have got longer over their three albums, they’re still catchy as hell and have enough hooks to have you singing along in no time.

Drones (Dan#2)
Drones, for me, are the most special band on the whole MPF line up due to them being the first DIY band I got into – they were my gateway into the UK scene. If you haven't heard them before, they are a political-punk powerhouse with kick-ass songs about things that affect every one of us. Their last release "Exiled" is still one of the best UK political punk records, with songs like "Anchors" and "Inferno" having some of the most earthshaking choruses. If you like bands like Anti-Flag or Rise Against, they are a must see!

Eastfield (Dan#2)
Eastfield are everyone's favourite train-themed punk band! Not all their songs are about trains, some are just fun silly punk rock, but the vast majority of their discography is railway-based. I first saw them in Basingstoke playing their 3-chord sing-along style of punk and everything clicked for me; they have absolutely perfected it down to a tee. They've been going for 23 years and are still as lively as every young band on the scene. Well worth a watch!

Erica Freas (Robyn)
MPF is blessed to have Erica Freas performing both as a solo act and as part of SOMNIA (whose set I will also definitely catch). Erica is probably best known for her work in RVIVR, but her solo work is equally excellent and her most recent album, Young, is intoxicatingly good. The strength of her songwriting is really on show in this more folksy, paired-down format and the songs are emotional, nostalgic, and gut-punchingly beautiful. If you’re a fan of her other music but haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should.

The Flatliners (Robyn)
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Flatliners ultra-megafan, so it is always a complete delight to see them and to shower them with all of my joy and affection. Add to this that they will be playing MPF as part of a 10-year anniversary tour for their album Cavalcade, my favourite album from them (and maybe ever), and will be playing it in full! I may just lose my damn mind; I will almost certainly cry; I will sing every.single.word.

Forever Unclean (Emma)
A CPRW favourite and just general good pals of the blog, indie punks Forever Unclean always put so much raw energy, passion and charisma into their live performance. We saw them at MPF 2018, opening up the Bread Shed stage on the Saturday afternoon, and they did a fine job of blowing away everyone’s cobwebs from the night before. More recently, they played Do It Together Fest and even treated us to some new songs. I can safely say that Forever Unclean at MPF 2020 are not to be missed.

Fresh (Emma)
Fresh are a band that I love more and more each time I see them play live, probably partly because they just keep getting better! The London-based indie punk foursome were due to play MPF last year but had to pull out at the last minute due to a personal emergency, so I’m happy that they’ll be appearing this year. Front person Kathryn is incredibly inspiring to watch perform and Fresh as a whole put so much love and energy into what they do that it’s hard not to get swept away by their live performance. Fingers crossed that CPRW Robyn manages to see Fresh this year, for the first time, as I know she’s a huge fan as well.

Gibberish (Brett)
There isn’t a lot of information regarding Gibberish available online and they haven’t released new music since 2017, but when I heard them on one of the first MPF 2020 compilations I instantly knew that they would be on my list of bands to see at the festival. With remnants of Counterpunch (who played one of my favourite sets of MPF 2018) and a strong Tony Sly/No Use influence, Gibberish were always going to appeal to me. The melodies are tight, the song structures are solid without being boring, and the fact that the band members are spread around the world and are able to produce music of this quality speaks to the musicianship of each member, so I expect a stellar live show from these guys. According to their Facebook, the band is working on a full-length album and if their past releases are anything to go by, it will be worth the wait.

Good Friend (Robyn)
A couple years ago, Colin messaged me after he and Emma had been to a Nothington show absolutely gushing about the opening act. That was the first time I heard about Good Friend, and I’ve been super keen to check them out live ever since. Their album Ride the Storm is full of edgy, pop-punk bangers with gloriously warm, whiskey-soaked vocals. I’m so looking forward to singing along to long-time favourites like ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Rock Bottom Revival’ and showing these guys some love in person.

Green Eyed Monster (Dan#2)
Japanese Skate punk 3-piece Green Eyed Monster are coming back to the UK for MPF. With songs as fast as they could possibly be, and catchy as any pop punk band, their latest 6-minute EP is a slice of skate heaven. I expect them to be able to pack double the songs of the average band into their set at MPF without missing a single beat.

Guns N Wankers (Lee)
Formed from the ashes of Snuff and The Wildhearts in the early nighties, the first incarnation of Guns N Wankers recorded three EPs, which later formed the basis of their debut album which was then subsequently picked up and re-released in the US on Fat Wreck Chords after catching the ear of NOFX’s Fat Mike. When Snuff reformed a few years later, the band went on hiatus until last year when they reformed with original members Duncan Redmonds and Pat Walters, with Wes Wasley on bass. Consistent touring since re-formation has made them a regular fixture on the circuit, picking up friends, both new and old, along the way.

Happy Accidents (Emma)
One of my favourite happy-go-lucky, cheerful pop punk bands Happy Accidents are back at MPF this year, having been quiet in the UK DIY scene for a short while. Bassist Neil left the band last summer and Phoebe and Rich haven’t played too many show yet without him, but where better for Happy Accidents to make their ‘come back’ than at the best festival in the UK. Regardless of the line-up change, I’m keen to bop and sing along to tracks from You Might Be Right and Everything But The Here And Now. Maybe they even have some new songs – who knows? There’s only one way to find out!

Helen Chambers (Brett)
Full disclosure: when I picked Helen Chambers for this list I had no idea that she was also the lead singer of Misfortune Cookie. I noticed similarities when listening but perhaps didn’t give either enough thought to dig a bit deeper. Some of my favourite moments from past MPFs have come from the acoustic sets so I’d be silly not to include Helen Chambers here. Helen plays a very unique mix of folk and country, with some beautiful and sometimes haunting melodies that can mesmerise the listener and take them to a place of peace and tranquility, which is exactly the kind of break you need to get you through a weekend of loud punk rock.

In Evil Hour (Lee)
Darlington socio-political punks In Evil Hour have been raging in their current guise for close to ten years and have a well-earned reputation for their ferocious live shows. Straddling the line between hardcore punk and metal, their strong stance on politics, the environment and capitalism has gained them a loyal fanbase and continues to unite fans across the UK and Europe, whilst in vocalist Al they have a potent focal point who commands the stage with aplomb.

Jaya The Cat (Colin)
Reggae-punk legends Jaya The Cat come to MPF for the very first time this year. Showcasing the variety that the collective behind MPF book for the festival, Jaya The Cat will bring their own unique party to the festival. Whenever I've seen Jaya The Cat in the past, I've always come away from the gig a sweaty mess – they get crowds moving whenever and wherever they play. It's always a great big sing-along as well. They bring people together. If you don't know the people around you at the start of the set, then I have no doubt they'll be your brand new best festival friends by the end of Jaya's set. That's what Jaya The Cat do.

The JB Conspiracy (Robyn)
Last year’s warm-up show on the Thursday before MPF saw The JB Conspiracy headlining, and they had us bopping and jiving our way into an awesome weekend of music. These guys are fantastic musicians and their live show was incredibly fun and energetic, so I’m really happy to see that they’re back this year and playing as part of the official festival.

Just Panic (Colin)
The first time I saw Just Panic was at MPF 2015 (the first MPF) and they were one of the highlights of the entire weekend. I lost my mind with excitement when they were announced for MPF 2020. I think this could be their first gig together since then (aside from the awesome Against Me! cover set they played at the after party) and it's long overdue. If you've never heard Just Panic before then I think they sound like a cross between early AM! and Crazy Arm. Raw folk punk rock brilliance. Given how rarely Just Panic do play, it's important that you do go and see them if you're a fan or you want to check out a brilliant band from the UK DIY scene's glorious past. Who knows when the next chance you'll get will be.

Kaddish (Colin)
Scottish emotional hardcore legends Kaddish are making a rare trip south for Manchester Punk Festival. The three-piece’s latest release, 2018’s What World Was Still? absolutely ripped. Expect the hardest, bleakest, most relentless set from Kaddish. If hardcore punk rock isn't really your thing then I urge you to check out Kaddish. Seeing the band live is quite the event, they're incredibly powerful and will get the entire room eagerly banging their heads in no time at all. Each track takes you on a journey and features some fine musicianship that you wouldn't normally associate with the hardcore genre.

Karl Phillip & The Rejects (Dan#2)
It took me a while to get around to checking out Karl Phillips & The Rejects but, oh man, they go hard on their self-titled record! Their songs flow lightning-quick but the words come out absolutely clean and clear, as natural as breathing. The style is a unique blend of punk rock guitars, hip-hop drum beats and techy rapping that is as fun as it is impressive. "Beef Teeth" is an absolute tune that seamlessly flows between grime-style rapping and a rock chorus. It will be my first time seeing them and I intend to be singing along word for word, trying desperately not to run out of breath!

Lande Hekt (Robyn)
Lande Hekt is better known as the frontperson for Muncie Girls, but recently she has shifted her focus to a solo project and released her debut EP, Gigantic Disappointment, at the end of last year. Contrary to its title, the EP does not disappoint and delivers some excellent indie pop-punk jams. I am especially fond of the tracks ‘Carpet’ and ‘The Future’, which both boast super catchy hooks and topical subject matter (the difficulty of maintaining friendships; anxiety about the future). Lande’s songwriting really shines through on these songs, and they promise to be every bit as good live.

Laughing In The Face Of (Brett)
I will never tire of listening to fast, technical punk rock and when a band is recommended for fans of The Human Project, Fair Dos and A Wilhelm Scream, I take notice. Laughing In The Face Of wasn’t on my radar until their latest album Here Lies Ordinary started getting some hype from Lockjaw Records, who have put out some of my favourite UK releases in recent years. The album and the band are well worth the hype, especially if you’re a fan of the aforementioned bands or Lockjaw releases in general. Their music is fast, melodic, and has enough technique to make most guitarists feel like amateurs. The live show is almost guaranteed to put a massive smile on your face.

Milloy (Colin)
Wakefield's Milloy don't play many shows these days but they are making a second appearance at MPF this year. Playing urgent yet melodic gruff pop punk, Milloy are one of those bands that you will be singing yourself hoarse to. Touring relentlessly across the UK, Europe and the USA in their early days before splitting in 2012, the band got back together in 2014 and again in 2016, it's clear that the band have a big passion for playing together which should make for an awesome live show. If you're a fan of bands such as Leatherface, Hot Water Music, Above Them or Former Cell Mates then Milloy are a band for you.

Misfortune Cookie (Brett)
Sometimes a band is able to grab my attention with just one song, and Misfortune Cookie were able to do just that within the first 30 seconds of their song ‘All Dogs are Nina’. The song is featured on an MPF compilation and is also the lead single from their debut album Heavy Seas that was reviewed by Richard for CPRW late last year. There is a lot to love about Misfortune Cookie; the songs are mostly Fest-worty anthems and the vocals really add something different, with a good pinch of folk and pop to help to create a unique sound that stands out from the rest of the gruff-punk genre.

Neck (Dan#2)
Neck are a Celtic folk-rock-punk band in the same vein as Flogging Molly, they have a full 6-piece line up complete with violin, banjo and flute, giving them an Irish folk edge blended with a knock-out punk rock sound. They have supported almost every big band in the genre and I have been listening to their last record "Come Out Fighting" on repeat since discovering them. They really stand out from the rest of the bill and I imagine will be a delight to watch.

Off With Their Heads (Robyn)
Festivals are the perfect environment to discover and fall in love with new acts, and I had the absolute pleasure of discovering OWTH at Fest 10, where they played an outstanding set to a very large crowd of sweaty, adoring fans. The quality of their live show alone would be reason enough to see them at MPF, but they’re also touring on the back of their latest album (Be Good) which was one of my favourite releases from last year. It’ll be awesome to experience OWTH with a UK crowd and to hear some of their new songs.

Oi Polloi (Lee)
As you might guess from their name, Oi Polloi, started out back in the 80s as an Oi punk band but exposure to bands like Crass and Discharge saw them incorporate D-Beat into their sound creating a unique blend of Oi, D-Beat and crust punk. Fiercely political, they still manage to create a sense of unity and a party atmosphere at their live shows. It might be a good idea to brush up on your language skills beforehand though, as they have written and performed songs in German, Finnish, Spanish and Gaelic.

Onsind (Dan#2)
I love Onsind, and I use that word because their songs seem to hit my heart perfectly, melting it to submission. Or, they can make me smile with butterflies in my stomach. Or give me the rage to inspire me through my day, or break me down to tears when I need a cry. I discovered them around the time of the election last year through a friend sharing "Pokémon City Limits" and have been in love ever since. I can't wait to hear them live! Also, if they play "Heterosexuality Is A Construct" I will be singing every single word through my tears somewhere near the front!

Pacer (Colin)
When Pacer were announced on the MPF line up I was over the moon – they don't play anywhere near enough these days! Gruff pop punk is what you get from Pacer and they're bloody brilliant. Usually up-tempo, with one of the most unique and engaging vocals in the genre, Pacer are one of those bands where it's impossible to fight the urge to throw in your fist in the air whilst singing along to such great songs as Mechanical, Hammers and Be A Man. 2020 is the band's tenth year together so I'm expecting a special set in Manchester.

Pizzatramp (Lee)
A band that made my albums of the year list in 2019, Welsh speed-punks Pizzatramp are the heir apparent to the sadly departed Revenge of The Psychotronic Man and a firm favourite at MPF. Their brand of fast punk rock mixed with hardcore aggression has seen their popularity grow in the last few years and become a staple of DIY punk festivals around the country. Expect plenty of songs from last year's Grand Relapse album, played at breakneck speed and some hard-hitting riffs as well as their infamous sense of humour (check out any of their music videos for proof).

Plot 32 (Colin)
Whenever MPF releases a collection of bands playing the festival, I always hunt through the line up to find the ska punk bands. I was stoked when I saw Plot 32 on one of the announcements. They're a band I've been wanting to see for ages but haven't had the chance yet, I believe they've only been down to London the one time and I sadly had to miss it. Playing upbeat and fun ska punk songs, they will have you smiling from ear to ear as well as skanking yourself silly. Plot 32 are the kind of band you want to get a party started and I have no doubt they will at MPF 2020.

PMX (Brett)
Thinking back to our first MPF in 2018, we knew so few of the UK bands announced but with every wave of bands announced Robyn and I would receive a flurry of helpful recommendations from Colin and Emma. Colin described PMX as “Scottish melodicy skate punk stuff” and then said “I think you’ll dig PMX”. Colin was absolutely right, and the schedule odds were in my favour that year so I was able to see the band in the tiny-but-awesome Zombie Shack. Despite the small crowd, the energy was great and I remember appreciating the dry humour delivered in between the fast-paced melodic punk rock. Their new album Ctrl Alt Del, released earlier this year, is an early contender for my top 10 and I can’t wait to see the new songs live.

Popes of Chillitown (Lee)
If it’s a good old-fashioned dance or skank you’re looking for when at MPF, then look no further than London ska/dub/punks Popes of Chillitown. Their energetic live shows have seen them collecting fans up and down the country during extensive touring and they bring the fun at every show. Livewire frontman Matt is a constant blur of movement, ably supported by the rest of the band who despite the loose feel to the music nail every component part. Their last album, the incredible “Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard”, received almost universal critical acclaim on release back in 2018 so expect plenty of bangers from this and hopefully some new tunes.

Proper. (Emma)
Hailing from Brooklyn, NYC, Proper. are no strangers to the UK – they’re signed to Oxford-based Big Scary Monsters and have toured over here before – but this year will be their first appearance at Manchester Punk Festival. The trio play a truly unique brand of emotional pop punk that they themselves have labelled ‘afro punk’. It’s emo but it’s oh so far from that whiny white boy break-up song stuff. I hadn’t heard of Proper. before they were announced for MPF but they are probably the band I am most looking forward to seeing. I can’t wait.

Random Hand (Dan#2)
I have seen many bands make the floors of venues shake, but Random Hand are the only band that I have seen that have made a floor pulse with the amount of people dancing to their ska-punk-political energy. Their chord choices make the songs sound dark and powerful like a hardcore band, while the trombone keeps the melody which gives them their solid sound. I really hope they play "Day One" so I can see the room explode with the drop of that song! They are possibly one of the best UK ska bands and are really worthy of one the headline slots.

Red City Radio (Robyn)
Red City Radio are one of the bands that ultimately convinced me to save up the money to get out to The Fest in Gainesville, and so it was a fantastic surprise to see that they’re crossing the pond to play MPF this year. The band really encapsulate the typical Fest sound with big melodies and gruff vocals, but I also really love RCR’s brand of punk positivity. This is the band I listen to when I need a pick me up, or to feel pumped up and excited, so they’ll be the perfect band to play the first night of the festival. Hopefully we’ll get a good mix of old and new (honestly, it’s all so good) and some great singalong moments.

Riskee & The Ridicule (Lee)
2019 was rightfully a big year for Ashford grime-punk pioneers Riskee & The Ridicule. They released their highly acclaimed third album, and my personal favourite album of the year, “Body Bag Your Scene”, signed a record deal with Bomber Music and picked up some high-profile support slots with Random Hand and Booze & Glory to name just a few. Their star shows no sign of slowing either in 2020 with a European Tour with Bomber label mates Jaya The Cat already in the (body) bag and this, their first appearance at Manchester Punk Festival. If you’ve not seen them then you are in for some treat, booting punk up the arse with high energy and incendiary lyrics that will win over any audience with their hybrid mix of street-punk, grime and rap that’s not to be missed.

Roughneck Riot (Emma)
After more than a decade of relentless touring throughout the UK and mainland Europe, Warrington’s finest Roughneck Riot took a break from playing music at the end of 2018 with the plan to return in 2020. Well, 2020 is here and the band will be making their Manchester return at the city’s best festival. Word on the street is that it will probably be their only Manchester show of the year so will definitely be worth catching if you like rowdy, angry folk punk – and, being a TNSRecords band, I imagine it will be a very popular set.

Shai Hulud (Dan#2)
When I said to my friends that I was really looking forward to Shai Hulud, they replied "But Dan#2, you don't normally like filthy hardcore". But they hit the perfect balance between being ferociously aggressive and having enough technical change up without losing any of the energy. I haven't liked a hardcore band this much since I discovered Comeback Kid. I listen to "Reach Beyond The Sun" whenever I'm at work at the moment. In short and simple terms, if you like metal or the hardest hardcore punk they should be at the top of your list of bands to see at MPF.

Shames (Brett)
I wasn’t familiar with Shames before their inclusion in this year’s MPF lineup, but after visiting their Bandcamp page and hearing a few of their songs I immediately added their album to my library and started getting excited about the possibility of seeing them live. Officially, Shames have been a band since 2006 but the guys have been playing music since long before then. Their experience is confirmed with almost every song in their catalogue, which provides excellent technical fast punk rock. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Mute, Darko and No Fun At All, to name a few, and I’m really looking forward to Shames blowing us away with what is sure to be a high-intensity show full of shred and dual-guitar harmonies.

Shit Present (Emma)
Shit Present were one band that I fully wasn’t expecting to be announced as playing MPF 2020, purely because I wasn’t entirely sure that they were still a band – having been inactive for a couple of years. As one of my absolute favourite indie punk bands in the UK scene however, I was over the moon when they were announced. I can’t wait to sing along to Anxious Type alongside other Shit Prez hits. Plus, I’m honestly just in awe of Iona whenever watching her live (I thought the same when watching Great Cynics).

Signals Midwest (Robyn)
Signals Midwest are an alternative indie punk band from Ohio/Pennsylvania. I’ve been aware of them for a while, but I hadn’t really given them a proper listen until after they were announced for MPF. I was immediately taken with the band’s rich and dynamic sound, combining strong melodies and chunky basslines with more delicate guitar sections and emotive vocals. After listening to tracks like “Alchemy Hour” and “You’re Going To Be Golden”, they shot to the top of my ‘must-see’ list and I added their entire catalogue to my Spotify playlist. They’re a band capable of taking you through the full range of emotions and have an amazing depth of sound, so this promises to be an excellent set.

Despite forming and subsequently releasing their first album between 2014 and 2016, SOMNIA are about to embark upon their first ever tour – which culminates at Manchester Punk Festival! For those unfamiliar, SOMNIA are the transcontinental pop punk project of Erica Freas (RVIVR) and David Combs (Bad Moves, Spoonboy). For this tour, they will be joined by Naomi Griffin (Martha, No Ditching) and Kate O’Connor (Protohero, No Ditching). I’m not sure if they’ll have any new songs but I will be more than happy to hear songs from How The Moon Shines On The Shit live.

Stand Out Riot (Colin)
Manchester's Stand Out Riot are returning to MPF for the third time and I'm yet to miss them at the festival. The six piece don't play many shows anymore so I try and catch them whenever I can. I remember back in 2018 when they played after, and in my opinion upstaged,  The Bennies. Not many bands in the world are able to do that but on that occasion Stand Out Riot managed it. Playing their own style of skacore gypsy punk rock, Stand Out Riot are a ball of energy whenever they take to the stage. It's certain to be a very memorable set.

Triple Sundae (Colin)
I've had the pleasure of watching London melodic pop punks Triple Sundae grow over the past few years and can't wait to see them finally take to the stage at MPF. Their previous two EPs Peace Of Mind and Glow really showed a band who were taking huge steps forwards in their songwriting. Tackling the topic of mental health, Hassan is becoming one of the best lyricists in the scene, writing not only relatable lyrics but also incredibly catchy ones. Expect a massive South-East London sing-along at this one. Also look out for guitarist Mike Smith's Busted/McFly jumps – he has such form.

X-Ray Cat Trio (Lee)
Making the short journey across the Pennines are Leeds surf-punks X-Ray Cat Trio, bringing their blend of rockabilly, garage and trashy punk. Packed full of energy and an equal dose of attitude, they crank out riffs as sharp as their quiffs. Armed with a new album, “Love, Blood & Monsters”, which was released on the 6th March, you can expect plenty of new songs that continue their fascination with horror and sci-fi b-movies.

This Big CPRW Manchester Punk Festival 2020 Preview was written by Brett, Dan#2, Emma, Lee, Robyn and Colin.