Friday, 31 January 2020

CPRW Playlist: January 2020

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

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Top Tens: Top Ten Bands Emma Is Excited About In 2020

As January comes to an end, I can safely say that it’s been a rather good start to 2020 – at least from a personal and CPRW perspective. Colin launched CPRW Records on New Year’s Day and I had some involvement, designing the logo and the artwork for the first comp of the year (check out the Bandcamp page here). We also welcomed a few new faces to the CPRW team with Dan Kilvert, Marcus Pond and Chris Bishton joining the gang – I will be updating the Meet The Team page at some point! Then, last weekend we had Do It Together Fest which quite simply exceeded all of our expectations. The bands were, of course, great – we helped to pick them – but the atmosphere at the New Cross Inn was just so wonderful for the whole weekend as well. It was very much a pals fest with friends old and new all in one place. So, it’s been a good start to the year and I’m excited to see what the rest of 2020 brings, especially in terms of new music.

Without further ado, here are ten bands I’m particularly excited about in 2020:

Aerial Salad
There is a distinct buzz surrounding this Mancunian threesome ahead their second album, Dirt Mall, which is due for release in the Spring. Earlier this week Aerial Salad released Romance?, the first single from the album which is very, very good. Colin and I saw the band in Hamburg last year at Booze Cruise Festival, having not seen them for a year or so prior, and were very impressed by how they’d progressed as a band. I can definitely see Aerial Salad being much, much bigger by this time next year.

Answering Machine
I’ve only recently got around to checking out Answering Machine, a five-piece power pop band from Brooklyn, New York City. The fact that Craig Shay of Cold Wrecks (who released my favourite album of 2019) also plays in this band is what prompted me to check them out but it was lead vocalist Samantha who hooked me into their sound – what a voice! Now seems like as good a time as any to be getting into Answering Machine as sources (Craig) inform me that there’s a new album on the way this year.

Erica Freas
I’m sure readers of this blog will be very familiar with Erica Freas for being a member of the awesome American punk rock band RVIVR. You may not be quite so familiar with the solo music of Erica Freas however. Fear not, now is the perfect time to get acquainted as Erica is releasing a brand new solo album on Specialist Subject Records – which also happens to be where Erica works (thank you for sending us lots of early releases!) – on 28th February. I’m looking forward to hopefully catching both the Erica Freas and SOMNIA (a group formed of Erica alongside members of Spoonboy and Martha) sets at Manchester Punk Festival this year.

Goodbye Blue Monday
Vocalist and guitarist Graham said, on Saturday night at DITFest during an incredible if a bit silly set, that he has finished writing songs for Goodbye Blue Monday’s debut album. As one of CPRW’s favourite UK DIY punk bands, we are understandably very excited about this. I, for one, just can’t get enough of this miserable yet poppy punk rock. The new songs are sounding great live and, although we don’t know when the songs will actually be recorded, I do hope that something will be released this year.

Katie MF
From one CPRW favourite to another! Katie MF released a brilliantly emotional second EP last year, as well as playing some killer gigs – both full band and solo – and no doubt gaining many new fans along the way. It’s been so wonderful to watch Katie MF’s sound and songwriting evolve over the past year or so and, judging by the three new songs we heard at the weekend, the band just keep getting better and better. I don’t know if they have plans to record the new songs anytime soon so I can’t wait to see Katie MF live soon to hear them again.

Modern Shakes
Gruff punks Modern Shakes are a relatively new band in the South London punk rock scene. Despite technically forming a couple of years ago, they only released their first EP, Murmur, last year – which Colin named his no.1 EP of the year no less (number five in mine). 2020 looks set to be Modern Shakes’ year as, after a line-up change, they are gearing up to release the follow-up to Murmur. The band will be playing Triple Sundae’s big gig on 28th March at the Amersham Arms which will be a lot of fun – not least because it’s my birthday. 

Okay, so I probably should have been raving about Proper. last year when they released their album I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better on Big Scary Monsters but, as is often the way, I was late to the party. Having been announced as playing MPF this year, I decided to check out this three-piece afro-punk band from New York City. Damn, I’m glad I haven’t slept on this band any longer – they’re so, so good with incredibly powerful and moving lyrics. Proper. are top of my must-see-at-MPF list and April can’t come soon enough.

Sincere Engineer
I feel like I read somewhere that Chicago-based band Sincere Engineer would be releasing a new album in 2020 but, now that it’s come to actually writing about it, I can’t find anything specific about this. It’s been three years since Rhombithian was released so I reckon we’re due another album! I’m also hoping that, much like fellow Red Scare Industries band Ramona, this might be the year that Sincere Engineer make it over to the UK. I’d certainly snap up tickets in no time at all.  

Stöj Snak
There is no release date set in stone, as far as I’m aware, but Danish folk punks Stöj Snak finished recording their new album, after what they described as the longest recording session since Chinese Democracy, in November last year. It’s honestly the album that I am most eagerly anticipating in 2020 and I don’t have much more to say than that. I. Can’t. Wait. 

Formerly known as Jake & The Jellyfish, the band announced earlier this week that they would not only be changing their name but are also joining the Lockjaw Records family. Having been a fan of J&TJ for several years and following their progression from a very much folk punk-sounding band to something a little more akin to Hot Water Music or Red City Radio, I’m very excited to see what Sunliner do next. 

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Album Review: The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City by Beach Slang (by Chris Bishton)

If you'd told me in 2014, after the release of the Cheap Thrills / Who Would Ever EPs, and then their debut LP, Philly punks Beach Slang would be releasing their third album in the second week of 2020, I'd have already marked it down as a potential record of the year. Fast forward five years, two full albums, an acoustic album and multiple line-up changes later, the excitement of hearing those early releases seems a long time ago, to the extent that I very nearly didn't pre-order this new record.

Their second album was released very quickly after their first and, for me, always lacked that raw kick of the earlier stuff. Then, over the the last few years, the band seem to have increasingly become the James Alex Experience – the lead singer and one remaining and original member. Indeed, the artwork on the front cover of this new record is just a picture of him, complete with the familiar knees bent, head thrown back pose wearing his trademark tux and bow tie combo. It's a very cool picture, but leaves you in no doubt this is very much James's record.

Also, whenever I saw them live more recently, they were good, but I missed the days of JP, Ruben and latterly Ed being in the band. Their sound had shifted from the early punk that first attracted me, to a more rock n roll, emo-tinged tone – something I like, but I don't always love. And they also seemed to take a step back from the punk scene itself, choosing to tour as a support band to the likes of Jimmy Eat World and The Goo Goo Dolls.

Yet, despite all of these reasons for me not to get this new record, eventually I just thought, 'hey it's Beach Slang. I've got to order this!'

The album starts with All The Kids In LA. The classical intro quickly gives way to the feedback and crashing guitar and drums I love the band for with the start of the record's second, and one of the stand out tracks, Let It Ride. It's familiar Beach Slang – husky vocals with poetic lyrics coupled with the hooks and fast guitar. It's a strong start to the album.

The third song is Bam Rang Rang and is the song that was released online last year before the whole album. It didn't grab me then and it doesn't now, but if you like the song Atom Bomb from their second album this is pretty much a carbon copy.

James has never made any secret of his influences and love of bands such as Jawbreaker, Hüsker Dü and particularly The Replacements. It's impossible to read an interview with him without him mentioning his love of all things Mats-based at some point. Their last single was a double A-sided cover of Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg and, indeed, like his heroes, the band even broke up whilst on stage a few years ago. On the fourth track, Tommy in the 80s, they've gone one step further than trying to sound like The Replacements by getting Tommy Stinson to actually play bass on it as well (the song isn't about Stinson, rather Tommy Keene, another of James's heroes who passed away a couple of years ago). It sounds exactly how imagine James wants it to sound like – The Replacements power-popped up to the max and I kind of love him and the song for that.

At this point in the record we then find two new acoustic tracks next to each other. Don't get me wrong, I love striped down, acoustic punk, but we had a whole album of it from Quiet Slang recently and I don't want to hear this on a new, full band album now. Nobody Say Nothing and Nowhere Bus are both beautiful songs that merge into each other, but they feel out of place here and I'm left unsure as to why they've been included on this record.

Stiff, Born To Raise Hell and Sticky Thumbs all follow – all solid tracks, but none that instantly grab me.

The penultimate track is Kicking Over Bottles, which is probably my favourite on the album. We're back to the fast, power guitars but with the addition of horns that I'm sure will prove to be a popular live track.

It concludes with Bar No One, another beautiful acoustic track that's seven minutes long. But whilst I've no problem concluding an album with a track like this, I now can't help wondering why four of the 11 tracks on this album are now acoustic songs.

There's no doubt The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City is an album that's been crafted by a passionate musician. James wears his heart on his sleeve to the extent that his soft, often flowery trope-laden language has come in for some stick, which is really not cool. But it does mean the familiar James Alex lyrics and themes referencing young angst, love, knock backs, starry dreams and self doubt all come through. It also means that I'm sure the Hard Luck Kids will love this album, but it is far more reminiscent of A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings than their early stuff. So if you see those early EPs and The Things We Do album as their high water mark, and you're looking for any repeat of that sound, this record will not be for you.

But, it's catchy enough in parts and so if you're into The Replacements power-pop sound you should give it a chance. I doubt James Alex's catalogue of work is going to be remembered like Paul Westerberg's, but that shouldn't be a reason not to take this album for what it is – enjoyable, nostalgic, rock and roll, power-pop.

Stream and download The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City here.

Like Beach Slang here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Album Review: Anomie by Haest (by Richard Mair)

Despite its impressive place in British history, the town of Hastings in East Sussex is not one you’d typically associate with ones to watch on the UK hardcore scene. Much like the sleepy town though, doom laced hardcore crew Haest have over recent years quietly gone about their business in creating a buzz (okay sustained low end rumble) and, on the back of two EPs, have finally unleashed their debut LP – Anomie.

So, first off, merging doom with punk / hardcore is an unusual mix; sure some bands manage to incorporate influences from diverse scenes back into their sound. Take Planes Mistaken For Stars for example, who manage to meld stoner sounds into their post hardcore noise. Yet it’s clear that done well it’s a mix that works. Another such example being Sheffield’s Hidden Mothers, who have incorporated black metal influences into a post hardcore sound; consequently expanding what is usually rigid sounds into new genre defying niches is likely to be a positive trend that continues... however, I digress!

One thing Haest have in abundance is rhythm, showcased perfectly with opening track “Unstable Picnic”; the near 1-minute repetitive riff kicks the album off perfectly. Perhaps slightly slow for a hardcore bruiser of a song, it’s brilliance rests with the ongoing beat and melody; it’s stripped out all superfluous music and is in effect just one long beat down.

Second track though “I Thought I'd Walked In Shit But It Was A Child's Mitten ” is probably more symptomatic of traditional hardcore and reminds a lot of fellow CPRW faves Eat Dirt, or early metallic tinged hardcore (Snapcase being the obvious example), or even the Earth AD era Misfits. Also the closing stages of the song make an early play for beat down of the year.

Lyrically the album takes its cues from the band’s various influences; taking in social commentary – “You Can't Come In My Kayak” with its references to wastelands conjures left behind communities. Given that Hastings is a coastal town, much like my native Scarborough, coastal regeneration and declining standards in our once proud seaside resorts is something I can completely relate to!

Clocking in at 14 songs in 30 minutes, you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. “Doom & Gloom & Dio Room” grinds through in little over a minute, and is possibly the song that will appeal to fist in the air punks more than any other with its shout out loud ending. While the slightly longer (1:30) “The Turtle Is In The Handbag” has a great nostalgic old-school punk rock meets Drug Church vibe – it’s certainly one of the album’s high points.

Showing they have a penchant for mixing things up, the quick changes in speed and beat keep things interesting throughout; “Are You Telling Me Ipswich Has No Fun Points?” goes from possibly the fastest riff on the album to possibly the slowest in the blink of an eye.

Talking of riffs, “The Only Good Wham Is A Wham Bar” is insane and, again, demonstrates how accomplished Haest are as musicians; probably sounding more early Cancer Bats (Lucifer’s Rocking Chair), it’s a great sound and absolutely worth checking out if the hardcore / doom mix sounds a little niche!

The most inventive riff on the album (and genuine ear worm) kicks off “The Sat-Nav Keeps Saying Cock Ring Road”) and its anti-corporation message is a proper singalong (and smile inducing) moment. While the following song “I Opened A Beer With A Bible” puts the drums front and centre with an introduction that really hits home and a rhythm that drives through the whole song.

The album concludes with “I Thought I'd Come Up With Something But I Think I May Have Just Written Mongaloid By Devo” which really ties the album together nicely. Again it has a ton of groove, but drives towards a more frantic ending than evidenced on the album with its cries of “we fucked it all” ringing loud.

Anomie is by no means an easy listen and that’s not a bad thing in this case. It’s certainly not accessible in the conventional sense, but really rewards frequent spins. Its novelty as such a hybrid of what are already quite niche genres is also something that needs to be recognised; as a group of musicians to pull off some of the technical elements of the album is really impressive. Punk, and in particular hardcore, is often derivative to a certain extent having to rely on specific tropes and signatures; Haest clearly don’t care for this tradition and consequently I think have kicked 2020 off with what must rank as one of the most unique and compelling releases of the year!

Stream and download Anomie here.

Like Haest on Facebook here.

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Album Review: Great Shakes by Great Shakes

Great Shakes are a four piece punk rock band from Netherlands and Belgium. Influenced by the likes of Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio, Social Distortion and Green Day, Great Shakes play catchy, rough around the edges punk rock. In October 2019 the band released their debut self titled LP on the ever brilliant Shield Recordings. Being a fan of Shield Recordings, I was keen to check this out.

The album begins with The Flood. Having never heard Great Shakes before hitting play, The Flood had to be a banger to start the album off well. Good news – banger. Showcasing a harder side of the band, there's a forceful feeling to the song. Urgent guitars and a well produced vocal really capture the listener’s attention and will have them wanting to hear how the album progresses. I was a little taken aback by the next song, Summertime Alone. It goes along a more Midwestern style punk sound rather than the intense skate punk showcased in The Flood. Played at a mid-tempo pace, the song cries out for some big sing-alongs throughout, including some huge "whoa-ohs". Great Shakes change things up again on the third song, Get A Little Closer. Going down more of a pop punk route, I was really hooked by the fantastic harmonies when I first listened to the song. It actually starts a little slowly for a track I have described as a pop punk song. It's not long before that fast guitar strumming comes in however and the energy of the track is upped. From then on you're in for a great journey throughout the remainder of the song.

November Star really shows off the band’s Hot Water Music influence. The vocals have some gravel added to them and the addition of some deep gang shouts really had me thinking of the Gainesville legends. November Star is one of my favourite songs on the album, it immediately had me tapping my toes to the fantastic melody as well as giving me the urge to throw my fists in the air for the gang vocals. The track is about getting over the death of somebody you care about and hoping that they are now at peace. Celebrating My Life is a fast paced Ramonescore song that put a big smile on my face. Starting out with the repeating lyric of "can't celebrate my life anymore" really gets the song stuck in your head. It's so simple but so brilliantly effective. If you're a fan of bands like The Copyrights or Dear Landlord then you will really enjoy this song. Ordinary Life brings us to the halfway mark of the album. Slowing things back down – the variation on this album is fantastic – Great Shakes deliver a more emotional performance on this track. It's a massive contrast to Celebrating My Life and really helps to keep the listener paying attention. Going back to that Midwestern feel, it's a song that not only tugs on your emotions but also gets stuck in your head.

The second half of the album begins with perhaps my favourite song on the whole album – Ego Complex. The song had me thinking of bands such as The Lawrence Arms and The Loved Ones, two of my favourites. The song contains a very impressive vocal display, the Great Shakes’ singer and the gang vocals and harmonies throughout are top notch. I'm a big fan of gang vocals and harmonies so the amount used on the track was very much welcomed. Falling Forever is a throwback to the early 2000s, with it reminding me of bands like Autopilot Off and Midtown. When these bands were around was also the time I was really getting into punk music so hearing this style had me reminiscing of past times. The track is about always feeling like things are wrong, trying to improve and not getting anywhere. The chorus on the song is a real stand out. The ninth song is titled Bitter Nights. Back to the poppier side of Great Shakes, despite the title, the song feels like it's a real burst of summer sunshine. The song is about having a bad time and doing your best to keep the negativity out of your life. I will forever find some enjoyment in bands taking a sad or downbeat topic and turning it into a song that just sounds so damn cheerful.

Confession is up next and continues the pop vibes. The song feels quite retrospective, as the singer looks at themself and talks about not speaking out when things are troubling you. It's quite an easy listen and travels along nicely without ever really hitting and big highs or lows. It's a super accessible song for any pop punk fans to get into Great Shakes. The penultimate song is named Never Gonna Die. Never Gonna Die really feels like it could be the album’s big finale with what is probably the biggest chorus on the album. The chorus shows Great Shakes acting in full defiance mode as they cry "never gonna die, never gonna die, never gonna die for you". This gives such a great feeling of empowerment and I imagine is fantastic live! The actual final song is fittingly titled Say Goodbye At The End. The track is an up-tempo and energetic way to finish the album with some great hooks and some fun sing-along moments. The song’s finale, where the whole bands shouts "say goodbye at the end", is perhaps a little cheesy but it's a lot of fun so I really don't mind. It ensures that the album finishes on the massive high and has you pumped for another listen.

Great Shakes are a brilliant new band. What I really enjoyed about the album was the sheer amount of variety on display. There's something for most fans of modern pop punk. It's hard to pigeon hole them into one group which makes them really interesting and they are definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Stream and download Great Shakes here.

Like Great Shakes on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Making A Case For: Hot Water Music (by Richard Mair and Omar Ramlugon)

Welcome to a new regular feature here at CPRW, where you get to see an insight into the regular debates and discussions about the high points of various band’s careers. Often such debates start with a suggestion that ‘x’ album is better than ‘y’ with all manner of reasons thrown into the mix to support the viewpoint that a certain album is the most essential release from their back catalogue.

So, the way this works is we have given an ardent campaigner for an album the chance to put 300–500 words together on why said album is their favourite and a fellow contributor makes the case for an alternative… it’s then over to you dear readers in the comments to help us decide who made the best case!

This week Richard and Omar go head to head with the heavyweight albums by Hot Water Music, with Richard Making The Case For No Division and Omar Caution.

Making A Case For No Division (Richard Mair)

Now no doubt Omar has put a compelling argument forward for the excellent “Caution”, sure it has the big hitters of Wayfarer and Remedy but aside from that it’s just a good album. That’s not a criticism; I truly love “Caution” and agree it’s iconic but, compared to one of the finest emo/post-hardcore albums of all time, it just feels too safe and certainly not quite at the level of their first “great” album.

No Division is that great album. Imagine it’s August 1999. The punk rock airwaves are full of Blink 182 singing about not growing up and aliens, New Found Glory and Saves The Day are unleashing pop infused emo songs on us and the ever reliable AFI have gone dark on Punk Rock. Out of nowhere the gravel throated roar of Chuck Ragan starts singing of unity, freedom and equality over amazingly technical melodies and we finally have a band with something relevant to say and the ability to set it to the most gorgeous soundtrack. No Division personally remains the finest Hot Water Music album for the simple reason that it’s their most creative album; this is where a band truly found their voice.

Opening songs Southeast First and Free Radio Gainesville are arguably the most iconic salvo to introduce an album, from the cheerleader led chant to Jason Black’s sexy bass line before we finally get that voice; the sandpaper whisky throated roar magically off kilter to the melody. Whilst I love both Fuel For The Hate Game and Forever And Counting, No Division always feels like their leap forward from cult heroes to genuine punk rock contenders.

Alongside the frenetic opening, the album also contains a Hot Water Music at their most restrained. Driving Home is a perfect emo-song; melancholic and empty at its core musically, the song remains so defiant and uplifting that it manages to hit all the feels twenty years after its release. Our Own Way is another more subdued song, relying on the quality of the playing compared to its pace to illicit a response. Likewise, End Of Gun is arguably Hot Water Music absolutely nailing the social commentary and disillusionment with a world that focuses on consumerism at the expense of protecting its citizens.

Despite my claim that Caution contains the iconic anthems, No Division also contains two quintessentially fan favourite bangers in Rooftops (covered by Alkaline Trio and no doubt providing a more pop punk audience to become aware of the charms of the Gainesville legends), but also Hard To Know – no lyrics will be associated more with the band than the mantra “live your heart and never follow”.

No Division remains a truly special album; if anyone was just discovering them for the first time, I’d wholeheartedly recommend heading for this collection above all others. Sure, it’s not the most raucous of their back catalogue but it’s far and away their most beautiful!

Making A Case For Caution (Omar Ramlugon)

Caution is to Hot Water Music what Mush is to Leatherface; a perfect document of a seminal band. Following on from 2001’s A Flight And A Crash, Caution found the band partnering up again with producer Brian McTernan for their second release on Epitaph, whose work on the previous record threw the band’s sinewy rhythms and pin sharp tempo changes into sharp relief, as opposed to the muddier recordings that were the case in previous years. There were a few moments on A Flight… that seemed as if the band were breaking new ground but not quite sure of their footing just yet.

Caution has no such shortcomings. From the very first second of Remedy, which has been a frequent show opener for them ever since, the band sound both bursting with energy and passion, but there are deep veins of melody hewn deep into the brick-hard riffing and muscular rhythm section. Singers/guitarists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard deliver their most powerful payloads of gravelly, heartfelt roaring while ducking in and out of and harmonising with eachother’s melodies on both their instruments; not a single second of the sub thirty-seven minute run time is wasted.

The band push into exciting new areas – take the simple, beautiful piano line supporting the break in Alright For Now, or the stuttering guitar riff of It’s All Related – but this is built on a foundation of crunching, melodic-but-snarling, perfect punk rock songs that are both simple on first listen yet bursting with complexity that reveals itself to an in-depth headphone listener. Even Dag Nasty/Bad Religion legend Brian Baker shows up on the incredible closing track, fittingly named The End, to fire off an explosive guitar solo.

Caution is a perfect album, simply put. Instantly rewarding and endlessly repeatable.

This feature was written by Richard Mair and Omar Ramlugon.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Album Review: Must Be Nice by Dark Thoughts (by Marcus Pond)

The first time my wife made enchiladas for dinner, I was hooked. It seemed so basic – chicken, tortillas, a less than healthy amount of cheese, and a few other simple, choice ingredients, but the outcome was so good, I could hardly believe it. Once in a while, she’d try something new to improve it, but it was never necessary – they were already pretty much perfect.

Dark Thoughts are like the musical equivalent of a delicious plate of my wife’s enchiladas. Are they fancy? No. Could the songs be played by most people who learned what a power chord was? In all likelihood, yes. Should everybody love them? Most definitely.

First off, they’d certainly fit the bill for a “Ramones-core” band, but even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre, they’re still immensely appealing. They’re tight, but not overly produced, so there’s still a loose enough sound to keep them from being too cookie-cutter. Where some groups feel like they’re trying too hard to emulate Joey & Co., they have a swagger that’s all their own. All they need to do is roll out of bed and throw on a leather jacket and they’re ready to destroy eardrums, no need to fuss with their hair.

Must Be Nice (Stupid Bag Records) is their third record in four years, and doesn’t really deviate too far from the formula that worked pretty well for them on their self-titled debut and 2018’s At Work (whose album cover featured a subtle nod to The Ramones 1977 LP Leave Home). While the songwriting has taken a few steps forward on their most recent effort, the untrained ear wouldn’t hear too much that’s sonically different between any of their previous albums. With 12 songs stretched tightly across a 19 minute running time, you don’t usually have to wait too long to get to the next banger.

The standout of side A is “Do You Dream”, the third track. In an alternate universe, I can imagine someone sweetly strumming an acoustic guitar, asking their crush “Do you dream / Of me / Like I dream of you?” In the much more kickass universe we find ourselves in, however, we find lead singer and guitarist Jim Shomo crooning and shouting over some pounding drums at 200+ beats per minute. Definitely a solid choice for their lead single, which was released in October as a 7” with a b-side of “It’s Too Late” (which doesn’t make an appearance on the full length).

“Silhouettes” is my favorite track on the record, which showcases perfectly the strengths of the group. It’s a lean minute and a half with just a pair of short verses and a bridge to the outro, which starts off defiantly as Shomo yells “Don’t you treat me like you used to”. By the midway point and after a pair of start/stop down strokes, he’s cheekily reversed course, now gleefully declaring that “I’ve been waiting for someone like you / To take my hand and tell me what to do-ooo”. The “I would give you my heart and soul / If you would touch me with a ten foot pole” are laughably relatable (uh, at least for me).

The darkest that Dark Thoughts get is “Terrible Things”, which touches on mental illness, but is quickly followed up by “Scan The Radio”, which takes the foot off the gas and is as close to a sappy love song as they get. By the time the refrain “It’s so easy / To be lonely / It’s so hard / To be loved” on the album closer “Must Be Nice” rings out, I found myself wanting to pump my fist in the air and hug the person closest to me. Or just start the record over again. The enchiladas aren’t ready yet, anyways.

RIYL: The Ramones, Riverdales, The Radio Buzzkills, The Smarthearts, enchiladas

Stream and download Must Be Nice here.

This review was written by Marcus Pond.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Album Review: Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents by Toodles & The Hectic Pity (by Emma Prew)

Toodles & The Hectic Pity are a folk punk trio based in Bristol who play catchy and upbeat songs with not always so upbeat lyrical content. But you knew that already, right? Because we’ve been raving about Toodles here at CPRW since their 2017 debut EP Call In Sick. We’re also particularly excited about the band at the moment as they are playing Do It Together Fest, at South East London’s New Cross Inn, this weekend. That, and the follow-up to Call In Sick is out next month! Titled Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents, the five-track EP is Toodles & The Hectic Pity’s first on Specialist Subject Records. CPRW was sent an advanced copy and, for some reason, Colin has allowed me the honour of reviewing it.

The first song on Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents is Ducks which was released as the EP’s lead single at the end of last year. Ducks is an upbeat and melodic tune from the outset, serving as both a fine opening track and decent introduction to Toodles & The Hectic Pity if you haven’t listened to them before. The sound seems fuller and perhaps less typically ‘folky’ than their previous EP but it’s still quintessentially Toodles. Interestingly, the chorus sees the pace slow down a little to focus on every word that frontperson Callum utters. Ducks is about being lonely and realising that a ‘home’ is as much about the people in it as it is the building itself. I’m also informed that the ducks mentioned in the song are a reference to Catcher In The Rye but I cannot vouch for that myself as it’s one of the many classic books I have yet to read.

Fates Worse Than Death is the name of the second song. Opening with some pleasantly jangly guitars before the firm bass and drums come in followed by Callum’s distinct vocals, Fates Worse Than Death is a mid-tempo and perhaps slightly self-deprecating tune. The lyrical content is pessimistic with mentions of loneliness again – ‘Because you were far too bored, And I was far too lonely, For this conversation to work out politely.’ – but the delivery doesn’t feel sad. Which is perfect for me because I love a sad song that sounds happy! The highlight of the song has to be the repeated line of ‘Because everyone, everyone, everyone but me must be feeling so fucking happy’. There’s singalong potential there, for sure. Up next is Spooky Furniture and here Toodles try something completely different. The song has a slow and muted start, with the strums of guitar feeling almost alt-country or Americana in sound. The vocals are soft to begin with but as the song progresses, and the rest of the band eventually join in, Callum seems to get more energised and impassioned as he sings of grief and ghosts. At just over six minutes in length, this is no short, simple pop punk song. It’s complex and takes you on quite the journey as a listener, such is the power of Toodles’ songwriting.

The fourth song on Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents is called Sugar Loaf. When I first listened to the EP through, this was an immediate favourite of mine. That may perhaps be because it reminds me most of Call In Sick and feels instantly familiar. It’s also fast-paced, bouncy and a whole lot of fun. I guarantee that the shouts of ‘You wake up and make coffee for me’ will be stuck in your head for days. Unlike much of the rest of the EP, Sugar Loaf feels pretty positive and uplifting which is a feeling that I would hope transfers to the listener. It certainly had me smiling anyway. The final song is Mountain Man. Also a long song (clocking in at just over 6 and a half minutes), this almost feels like a continuation of Spooky Furniture – a part two, if you will. From the opening line of ‘Because you’ve been seeing ghosts’ through to the talk of moving to the mountains alone, there’s a haunting and eerie feel to the song. There’s also the nice addition of some trumpet, courtesy of Danny Lester, which adds to those feelings. Mountain Man is certainly a sombre-sounding track but that’s no bad thing as it simply emphasises the emotion and makes for an impressive ending to Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents.

I am very excited to see Toodles play some of these new songs live and as a three-piece, having only seen Callum play solo previously. As I mentioned earlier, Toodles & The Hectic Pity are playing Do it Together Fest in London – on Saturday the 25th. They are also playing in Cardiff the day before and in Oxford the day after with Triple Sundae – who, of course, are also playing DITFest. So, catch them if you can.

Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents is is available to pre-order on Bandcamp and in the Specialist Subject Records online store and the first two tracks are streaming on Bandcamp and Spotify now. You can, and should, also like Toodles & The Hectic Pity on Facebook.

Last but not least, the super lovely linoprint artwork is by Fi Plummer (Instagram: @Evil_Twin_Tattoo). There’s actually a different illustration for each song as well – how awesome is that?!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Album Review: Growing Out Of Touch by Feeble

I seem to be getting into the habit of reviewing Feeble albums the year following their release. I first discovered the Hawaiian punk rocks early in 2019 after finding their debut album, Hope This Ends Well, on Bandcamp. That album was released in the summer of 2018 so I was pretty late to the party. In December of 2019, the four piece released their second full length – Growing Out Of Touch. I'm writing this review on January 3rd so I'm getting much quicker, hopefully for their third album I'll be able to review it in the same year it was released. If you're new to Feeble they are four "kinda bummed dudes" from Honolulu who write emotional pop punk music. I think they're ace!

Growing Out Of Touch begins with the song Shamowowza. The song starts slowly with just guitar and vocals as the band’s lead singer sings about missing somebody, thinking about them and wanting to get high. After the opening verse the rest of the band come in, things get louder and the intensity of the song increases. There's an element of chaos in the track that I really enjoyed, the tempo switches around quite frequently and leaves you feeling a bit like "what's coming next?". I love that feeling when listening to new bands. Up next is The Haunting Of Spaghetti Shaq. This song sees Feeble take a look at themselves and question why they're growing out of touch with people. Musically there's a real urgency about the song and the singer’s voice really adds to this as it gets more strained throughout the song. As the song progresses, the guitars get a bit atmospheric and even shoe gazey while the vocals get softer before a big finish with some gang vocals and guitar flourishes to finish the track. Gorilla Glue 4 is up next and I immediately fell in love with the song. It's a more conventional pop punk song that draws you in from the start. In true Feeble style, the song does get more chaotic and urgent as it goes on but it remains full of hooks and melodies. The song is about wanting to stay inside and trying to make someone who's trying to get you out see why that is. It's incredible how the vocals got more stressed and frustrated as the song goes on, really showing the emotion of the song.

Bozo Sushi is a short song that wastes no time in getting started. The track is about working with somebody you really don't get on with and the frustration that brings. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever heard a song about having a bad co-worker which is surprising as I'm confident we all work with plenty of people we don't actually like. The song is pretty relentless as Feeble's singer lists all of the reasons why this co-worker irritates them. It's like one endless stream of thought and it works so well as a song. The fifth track, Stratford, is definitely one of the stand out songs on Growing Out Of Touch. Starting with vocals and guitar, it has a particularly poppy feel to begin proceedings. This welcomes the listener into the song and gives them the urge to sing along with Feeble. Of course, the full band soon joins in and the song goes into a chugging yet melodic story about how things never seem to go the way that you planned. I'm sure a lot of people will have felt like this at some point, so the song is extremely relatable – this will really help listeners to connect with Feeble. Demo $quad begins with an audio clip from the Adam Sandler classic Big Daddy before launching into a song about needing space to deal with your mental health problems. Demo $quad was chosen as a promo single before the release of Growing Out Of Touch and it's plain to see why. It gives you a little bit of what Feeble are all about. Whirly guitars, sad lyrics, emotional vocals and loads of hooks.

The seventh track is titled Cap'n Holt. The song is kind of split into two parts. The first part is slow and quiet as they sing about feeling low, wanting someone to reply to a message and having negative thoughts about it. The second is louder and more angry as they let their frustrations build up and talk about why this is hard for them. I really enjoyed how Feeble structured the song, it makes for a very interesting listen. The penultimate song on Growing Out Of Touch is named Clingy. Again starting quickly, the track is another of the more pop punk sounding songs on the album with its up-tempo pace and sing-along moments. The urgency in the track is powerful and does and great job in giving the ending of the album a boost in the energy, in case you're beginning to lag in all the sadness. Clingy is about becoming over reliant on things to help you get over a break-up. During the song the problem of over thinking things and it preventing you to sleep is mentioned. Throughout the song there's a feeling of hyperactivity, until the end of the track when things calm down and the singer talks about getting over things and finally being able to sleep. The ninth and final song on the album is Don't I Know U?. The song starts in a sombre fashion, with some quiet vocals. As you will have come to expect from Feeble now, it's not long before things get loud. The song is full of distorted guitars and pounding drums soon come in too. It's not the most up-tempo of tracks but it's damn powerful. The slower chugging nature of the song really adds to the emotive vocals and the guitars add extra layers to this feeling. It's the best way to finish this album.

Hawaii isn't really the first place you think of when you think of sad punk music. Feeble however are an exception to the rule. Growing Out Of Touch is another great album from the band that will please fans of pop punk and emo music and will hopefully help people who are going through similar things to the topics that are touched on the album.

Stream and download Growing Out Of Touch here:

Like Feeble here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Do It Together: Meet Just Say Nay, Toodles & The Hectic Pity and Katie MF

Do It Together 2020 is just one week away and we wanted to help you get to know some of the amazing acts that are playing the weekend. Thanks to Jak from Just Say Nay, Callum from Toodles & The Hectic Pity and Katie from Katie MF for answering our questions.

Callum from Toodles & The Hectic Pity

Hello, who are you and what band do you play in?
Hey! I am Callum and I played in Toodles & the Hectic Pity.

Can you describe your band please?
Toodles are a three-piece folk punk band from Bristol, taking influences from bands like AJJ, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mountain Goats. Honestly, it’s mostly pretty up-beat stuff but the themes are very much not and I think some of the songs we’ve been writing recently owe an awful lot to emo  and pop punk as well – which is a fun space to be in, sat in between a lot of interesting genres.

The three of us have known each other since we were teenagers and started a band when we were leaving school, but because we went to different unis it was a bit of a slow-burning start and for the most part I was sending demos that I recorded on my phone over to the other two. We got to practice maybe once every few months and then I went to Canada for six months – but we very slowly wrote the songs that would be part of our first record, Call In Sick, which our close friend and indispensable collaborator Iwan of Invisible Llama Music released for us in 2017. We have a new release due from Specialist Subject Records in February which is called Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents. Hopefully we will have copies in time for Do It Together!

How was your 2019?
We started off 2019 by playing a rare Bristol show with Chewing on Tinfoil, then touring around the UK with my brother’s band, (then Jake & the Jellyfish, now known as Sunliner) which was super fun. We played a whole bunch of places we’d never been before. Then we also got the chance to play with Spanish Love Songs and Microwave, and we did two shows with Jeffrey Lewis in Bristol and London, which was nuts – and then got to play Specialist Subject’s birthday all-dayer to celebrate 2 years in Bristol, which was honestly such a fantastic show with the likes of ONSIND, Garden Centre, Grand Pop and Me Rex.

To be honest, we’ve been laying low a little bit since then and working on writing and recording the new EP, Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents. We recorded with Tim Rowing-Parker of WOAHNOWS and Dogeyed fame over the summer and had an absolutely lovely time with it, too. Since then we’ve been working with Specialist Subject on planning this release and focusing more on 2020 – which is going to be a busy one.

What was your first exposure to DIY punk rock?
To be honest my first exposure was my brother’s band, Sunliner (formerly Jake & the Jellyfish). Jake is about five years older than me and was, naturally, involved in DIY punk music way before I was – organising gigs for himself and other bands at The Croft in Bristol and around the country – and introducing me (through the fact he was simply playing them in the car or wherever else) to a whole bunch of bands.

Also, weirdly enough, it came from the other direction too. My sister who is two years younger than me is an avid music-discoverer in a way that I am definitely not. When I hear something that I love, I’m into it and I’ll listen to it to death. I go to gigs a lot too but I don’t spend time browsing Bandcamp or Spotify in search of new things. But my sister really does spend a lot of time discovering new music and, to be honest, most bands I’ve ever liked have come through her recommending them to me. From late in school and then at uni, I started to attend DIY shows more regularly in Cardiff and Bristol – most formatively at the Deadpunk Alldayers. I think that’s when we all realised that we wanted to make music but also that, unlike some young musicians, we didn’t have our eyes on stardom or anything: we really did have our vision of success as being part of the DIY scene. So in that sense, we’ve essentially achieved our dreams.

What does “Do It Together” mean to you?
To me, it’s really about the fact that the DIY scene really is about collaboration. It’s not just “Do It Yourself” in an individualistic sense, it is about “Do It Yourselves” – plural. Essentially it’s an anti-gatekeeper, anti-industry-insider, anti-fame-and-fortune approach to creativity. DIY punk is, or should be, a real fuck you to certain ideas about musicianship and creativity – who’s allowed to do it and what that means. It should attempt to break down fan/artist divides and accept that people making and organising are part of the same project as people who are participating. And basically, a fuck you to the marketisation of everything in our lives including music. In fact, bands, musicians, creators, consumers, participators – we’re not in competition with each other and we’re not trying to get ahead. We’re trying to build shit together and promote solidarity and community.

Tell us about the DIY scene where you’re based?
Bristol has a thriving music scene and DIY scene – which goes without saying. But that’s not to say that everything’s ok and everything’s easy. Venues are still closing down, for one thing. For another, DIY promoting is a pretty thankless task. We could do with more smaller DIY spaces for cheaper, smaller shows. We’ve got a lot of mid-size venues in Bristol which can be a daunting prospect for most bands. Plus, promoters are taking big financial risks putting on shows and have more bands looking for shows than they can reasonably organise. It’s a rough game! I wouldn’t want to do it, but I’m thankful for those hardworking people who spend time and energy doing it.

We’ve gotta find a better model for supporting DIY shows all over the UK, because right now the weight falls heavily on the shoulders of those with real drive and passion and there’s always a danger of burnout and financial trouble. In Bristol, I’ve got massive respect in particular for Eat Up and Eat Up For Starters who are doing some of the best, most inclusive, most radical work carving out room for feminist, queer, trans and non-binary friendly spaces in the DIY music scene. But it’s also on us, the music-lovers, to cherish what we have and go out and participate and pay in and buy merch and support bands and promoters. Otherwise there’s a decent chance we could lose them. People give up every day and even more decide not to get involved to begin with. And that’s a real shame.

How would you sell Do It Together to someone who’s on the fence about coming?
I think that Do It Together seems like a real labour of love. There’s plenty of all-dayers and weekenders and gigs going on but, again, it’s really worth supporting the people who are putting the love into it. Be Sharp, Lockjaw Records, Colin’s Punk Rock World and Shout Louder are all projects born out of enthusiasm for live music. They’re not soulless profit making agencies looking for the next band to blow up. Otherwise they wouldn’t have booked us! Not saying this to sound up ourselves, but I know that we were put on this bill because the people involved really like us. And I think sometimes as a gig-goer you’ve got to put your faith in the hands of the mega-enthusiasts and say “Hey I’m going to trust your recommendation and see where it takes me.” And that’s rarely something you regret.

What other act are you most looking forward to seeing at Do It Together?
Triple Sundae. But also, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to see any of the other bands on the line-up live before – so I’m really excited for that. Just a bunch of lovely new faces and new music to enjoy.

What song from another band on the line-up do you wish you had written?
Pollution by Triple Sundae. It’s just a perfect punk song, start to finish. And what a riff!

What does the band have planned for the rest of 2020?
So, us and Triple Sundae are playing some shows either side of Do It Together Fest – in Cardiff on the Friday and Oxford on the Sunday. Then February 7th sees us put out our second EP, Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents, which is out from Specialist Subject Records. Really stoked for that! We should be doing a Bristol launch show in February, and then a UK tour in March on the week leading up to Chris Fishlock’s annual all-dayer at the Exchange in Bristol, “Fishstock”, which is on the 28th of March. That tour is almost fully booked now – playing a whole bunch of places we haven’t been before which is really fun. Then it’s a bit of an open book. We’re hoping to get over the Europe, too. But right now we’re just focusing on the immediate shows around the release.

As I said, we had a fairly quiet 2019 but I think 2020 is going to be a big year for us.

Speaking of Europe – we’ve never been over as a band so if you are reading this and you want us to play your town or have any recommendations please send us a message!

Jak from Just Say Nay

Hello, who are you and what band do you play in?

Hello, I’m Jak and I sing and prance around in Just Say Nay.

Can you describe your band please?
Nonsense. It’s all just complete sugary, head bopping, tongue twisting nonsense.

How was your 2019?
For the most part it was pretty bloody amazing. JSN finally got our album out and for a while we all felt like nothing bad was ever going to happen again in the world ever.

What was your first exposure to DIY punk rock?
My first experience was when there use to be local gigs in Dartford town. This was around 2003 perhaps. A band called My Dad Is Big. Amazing fun they were. Paul Smith will know, he was there.

What does “Do It Together” mean to you?
Everyone’s stronger together right?

“It’s dangerous to go alone.”

Tell us about the DIY scene where you’re based?
JSN are based right in the heart of Be Sharp country. The scene we’re in is the best. Other bands don’t believe me when I tell them about how good we have it.

How would you sell Do It Together to someone who’s on the fence about coming?
You mean there would be people on the fence about coming?

I’d say, you can walk in knowing nobody and leave knowing the finest humans you can ever wish to know.

What other act are you most looking forward to seeing at Do It Together?
Lightyear always. Our boyfriends in Call Me Malcolm and Triple Sundae. And Our Lives In Cinema too, their bass player is so mysterious and moody it just makes me go all giddy.

What song from another band on the line-up do you wish you had written?
That’s easy, For years and years I have always wished that I had written “Life Jacket Water Wings” by Lightyear.

What does the band have planned for the rest of 2020?
Playing this album to death everywhere we can. I can’t imagine it’d be too long before you start hearing a bit of new music from us either, I say, I say.

Katie from Katie MF

Hello, who are you and what band do you play in?
Oh hey. I’m Katie MF and I play in, erm, Katie MF. We’re working on the name…

Can you describe your band please?
We are beyond description – a folk/punk reckoning for our times; an explosive force of nature, a… god sorry, I’ve had a coffee. We play poppy/folky/punky/angry stuff and have a bit of fun with it – think break-ups and Brexit. And dancing. Bad dancing.

How was your 2019?
Pretty great to be honest. We went on our first tour (3 nights counts) and started to feel really solid as a band – we don’t get to play full band shows that often (I do a lot of acoustic stuff), so it’s taken a little while to really gel but I think we’re there now and it feels GOOD. Ben (bass) and Tobias (drums) are infinitely better musicians than I am so it’s a consistent pleasure to play with them.

Plus we/I supported a few personal heroes, released another EP and, importantly, made a bunch of new friends.

What was your first exposure to DIY punk rock?
That is a difficult question. Probably when I was 16/17 – my friends ran a few (mostly metal) nights at The White Horse in Wycombe (where I grew up) and I’d hang around not really knowing what was going on but hoping someone else did. Then my punk side lay dormant until about 3 years ago when I starting ‘doing the music thing properly’ – my songs got faster and louder then, as a band, we got booked to support Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves at New Cross Inn, got written up on CPRW and found a whole new community. So thanks CPRW!

What does “Do It Together” mean to you?
I could write an essay on this, but in sum: family, community and sharing equally in the disappointments and successes. The whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. It’s taken me too many years to really appreciate that.

Tell us about the DIY scene where you’re based?
In a nutshell, it’s about being able to go down to NXI (or anywhere else putting on a punk show) and always seeing a friendly face or five – whether they’re on stage or in the crowd. It’s supportive and inclusive, and holy shit there’s a lot of talent.

How would you sell Do It Together to someone who’s on the fence about coming?
You’ll meet some of the best people there are and have a chance to see a few bands who are unlikely to still be playing local shows this time next year. It’ll be a guaranteed tonic to all the shit that’s going on in the world right now. Plus, Lightyear.

What other act are you most looking forward to seeing at Do It Together?
Eat Defeat. Always and forever. And Call Me Malcolm because, somewhat unbelievably, it’ll be my first time. And Goodbye Blue Monday. And Uniforms.

What song from another band on the line-up do you wish you had written?
Shortcuts [by Eat Defeat] – it’s in my head at least 5 times a week.

What does the band have planned for the rest of 2020?
More of the same, but better. I’m going to be announcing a little solo run with some pals soon and have a few louder and longer things in the works…

Check out the Facebook event page for Do It Together here:

You can buy tickets here:

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Top Tens: Ten Things Colin Wants To See Happen In The Next Decade

As with the start of any new year or decade, you spend quite a lot of time looking back at the things you've enjoyed. I think it's now time to look at things in the future and think about what you'd like to see in the next decade. That's what this top ten is – ten things that I would like to see happen in the next decade.

Continued Growth In Diversity Of Bands
Something that has been great to see in the last couple of years of the last decade is the growing amount of diversity on line-ups at punk gigs throughout the country. There's still a lot more work to be done and I'm hoping by the end of 2029 we won't be talking about making sure line-ups are diverse but instead they just will be.

The Punk Scene Continues To Thrive
The DIY punk scene seems to be bigger than ever at the moment, it really appears to be on an upwards trajectory and I really hope this can continue as the decade goes on. There are so many fantastic bands popping up in all corners of the scene, in all the different sub-genres, that it's such an exciting time to be a fan of new punk rock music. Long may this movement continue!

More Venues Built Rather Than Destroyed
A very worrying trend in the past decade was the amount of music venues that were closed down. I'd love to see this trend changed and for more venues to begin to open up. Without venues we don't have places for bands to play, they can't make money to continue being bands, we don't have new bands anymore. This is a something I don't want to be a part of. Luckily there are organisations like the Music Venue Trust helping out the small venues that are in danger. Check them out.

DIY Festivals Continue To Grow
So many of my favourite memories of the last decade have been attending DIY punk rock festivals, seeing great bands and making great friends. It seems as if more and more of these festivals are starting all over the place, so much so it's hard to keep up with them and to go to them all is pretty much impossible. Putting on these festivals takes a great deal of work and I'm forever thankful for everyone who puts so much effort into them. We must continue to support these events, not just by buying tickets but also by spending money on merch, sharing news on the festivals and saying thanks to the fine folk who put them on.

CPRW Keeps On Going
Without a doubt, Colin's Punk Rock World is the best thing I've ever done. From where we started in June 2014 to where we are in January 2020 blows my mind. We currently have a team of ten people helping on the site which is ridiculous. People actually want to give up their time to contribute to this little project that started as a way to focus my mind during some heavy poor mental health times. I'd also like people to continue to read CPRW and sometimes even take stock in our opinions. That's a wonderful feeling that I want to continue for as long as humanly possible. We continue to expand with the formation CPRW Records. It's early days but I'm so excited to see where that's going to go in the next decade.

More Attention On Many Of The Punk Bands We Love
Something that frustrates me a lot is the lack of attention a lot of bands I love get from the mainstream music world. I know music is all subjective and based on opinions but I just don't get how some very good bands from our punk scene get absolutely no attention. The influencers who seem to decide what's good and what isn't just ignore punk rock and there's so much incredible talent being completely overlooked. I'd love to see this change and see more of our bands get some love from areas that aren't just the DIY punk rock scene.

Travel To More Places For Gigs
I love my home scene of the New Cross Inn but it's always so nice to visit different places and experience their scenes. It's always quite eye opening, just to see so many other people in a place that I don't get to go to very often enjoying something I love in their own unique way. You also get to discover a load of new local bands whenever you go to different places for DIY gigs and festivals. A great example of this is when we made the trip up to Dundee in November for Book-Yer-Ane-Fest. We got to see so many brilliant acts we had never heard of.

Complete My Must See Bucket List
I've been very lucky to see a lot of bands that I really love over the years. Many that I never thought I'd get the chance to see. However there are plenty that still remain and I hope to cross more off of my list in the next decade. The trouble I have is that I keep discovering more must see bands from all over the world so the list keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Go On Tour
It's always been a bit of a dream of mine to go on tour. I have no musical or singing ability to speak of, so could never do it as a member of a band. I also can't drive, so doing it as a driver is not possible. There's something about the camaraderie of a tour that fascinates me. I, one day, would like to experience life in the van, going to different shows everyday, perhaps not knowing what is awaiting you. To experience the mental highs and lows, to see why bands put themselves through these things when they could just sleep in their comfortable beds every night. It's something I'd really like to do before the decade finishes.

Mental Health
I've always been honest about my struggles with mental health on CPRW. I'm very lucky to have found myself a scene that understands my struggles and there is always somebody to talk to if I am struggling. More and more bands are making big efforts to talk openly and honestly about mental health and it's really helping a lot of people. Seeing the stigma of "you're a man, you can't show emotions" slowly but surely get broken down is such a wonderful thing to witness and I expect the next decade to continue this important movement. The DIY punk scene has a great network of people who you can talk to and will go out of your way to help you whether you know them or not.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Album Review: Places by Jacob Horn Trio

Jacob Horn Trio are a seven piece band from Chicago, Illinois. Fronted by Jacob Horn, the band released a brand new five track EP in December. It's superb. If it had been released earlier in 2019, there is every chance it would have ended up on my top ten of the year list. Sadly I didn't hear it earlier but at least I now have the chance to tell you all about it now. Titled Places, it features five brass filled punk rock songs about muddling through your twenties.

Places begins with the song Eyesore. Eyesore is the song that first alerted me of Jacob Horn Trio when I was searching through Bandcamp. The track begins with some passionate vocals from Horn as he strums his guitar. It's quite a striking start that gets you intrigued immediately. Then we get some horns and I know that this is a band for me. Horn sings with such urgency and the horns give the song a massive sound. It's a song about people looking back at the old days in a city where you won't spend your whole life. Up next is Randolph. The urgency in Horn's vocal remains but this is the first time I hear some real soul in his voice as well. Randolph is about becoming a bit of a recluse, not wanting to leave the house and shutting yourself off from the outside world. For the first time on the EP you can hear vocals from Devon Kay (of Devon Kay & The Solutions and Direct Hit!) adding a different element to the band's sound. The two vocalists mesh well together and give the song a distinct style. The horns are present but do lead the way like they don't on Eyesore, instead they're used to add another melodic layer.

Arizona is a short song, at just over a minute long, and is about your friends slowly fading out of your life but being happy for them. Despite the short length of the song, Jacob Horn Trio do a great job of packing a lot in. So much so, it's actually surprising that the song is so short. I loved the use of the acoustic guitar on the song, it gives a soft feel alongside Horn's vocal. The ending of the song has a big finish that I can imagine is great live. The penultimate song, Southport, is a real stand out on an already superb EP. It's a slower paced songs with horns that remind me of Permanent Revolution era Catch 22. Despite the slower pace, the song moves along with a great deal of purpose that really draws you in. The chorus is one written for the big sing-along, repeating the lines "you can say we like each other well, I guess that says it all" four times in a row. Repetitive lines are a great technique for creating an earworm. Towards the end of the track, things get more urgent with more repetitive lyrics before the music drops out and we get some lovely gang vocals until the horns come back in to finish the song. Places is completed with the song It's A Wonderful Life. Picking the pace back up, the song sees the Jacob Horn Trio at their urgent best. The song starts with a punchy melody that will encourage you to sing along with the band. This style continues throughout all of the verses and sounds superb. Of course, the chorus sounds absolutely massive and there is almost a feeling of celebration as Horn sings about having a great time with friends. The song is about living in a city where everything is too expensive, knowing it would probably be better to leave but deciding to stay because of the great people you surround yourself with. A wonderful way to finish the EP.

Places really is very good. There aren't many bands around making music like this at the moment so there's a freshness about the EP. The urgency spread heavily throughout Places gives it such an infectious energy that it is hard to avoid getting swept away with the songs. If you miss Bomb The Music Industry then I seriously recommend checking out Jacob Horn Trio.

Stream and download Places here:

Like Jacob Horn Trio here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Album Review: Imposter by The Grool Brothers

Spending a little time scrolling through Bandcamp can bring up some wonderful discoveries. This morning I was looking through a someone’s collection on the website and came across a band I'd never heard of before named The Grool Brothers. I clicked the play button and quickly got excited. This is the exact punk sound that I love. It's melodic punk rock with loads of hooks, wonderful shout along vocals and a beautiful feeling of chaos. After a little bit of research, I discovered that The Grool Brothers are a four piece from Indiana and Chicago who released their most recent EP in September of last year. It's named Imposter and here's my review of it.

The EP begins with its title track, Imposter. Blimey, this hooked me quickly. Starting out with a big chorus and some gang vocals, I immediately want to be involved in the song. There's so much infectious energy here, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it. The song is about that person in a community who only takes and doesn't give anything back. We all know this kind of person and they're a very frustrating person to know. The Grool Brothers really do the best job of portraying that emotion in the song. Following Imposter is the song Missing Out. There's so much going on in this track and I love it. It's got that equal parts melody and chaos style that I love. After a pretty lengthy introduction, the gang vocals again get the song off to a massive start. If you can listen to this and not feel the urge to throw your fists in the air then I offer you a salute. I love the part of the track when the vocalist sounds as if they are standing slightly further back from their microphone. The quieter moment makes you really listen hard to what's going on and before long we're right back at the full shout along blast that I'm really loving a lot. The third and, sadly, final song on the EP is Hard Fade. Hard Fade actually begins with more of a pop style than the other two tracks on Imposter. It soon grows and gets gruffer as the song progresses. It's slower as well, giving the song a more serious tone. This builds towards the amazing gang vocals and a big chorus that will get your blood pumping but also have you really thinking about the meaning of the song. It's about remembering to hold on to and enjoy what you've got as it won't last forever.

That last sentiment is a bit of a metaphor for the entire EP. I loved it whilst it was on but it's just too short! I want more and more of this as I enjoyed it so, so much. All three songs really hooked me in, so much so that it's pretty impossible to pick a favourite track. If you're looking for a new band to really get behind in 2020 I seriously suggest you check out The Grool Brothers.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Album Review: A Dog's Life by The Muttnicks

I first became aware of German punk rockers The Muttnicks after seeing them on a boat in Hamburg Harbour at last summer’s Booze Cruise Festival. I was instantly impressed with their live show, being slightly reminded of The Bouncing Souls during their set. The Muttnicks are a relatively new band in the German punk rock scene, having only formed in 2017, but already seem to be making a name for themselves. Last November they released a brand new EP titled A Dog's Life. It took me way too long to get round to checking it out.

A Dog's Life begins with the song Changer. It starts with a welcoming guitar introduction, played at a mid-tempo pace that builds nicely towards the vocals. Vocalist Phil Muttnick has a great voice, it's clear but also contains plenty of power and venom, making you really feel what he's singing. Changer is about making positive changes in the world so that it's a better place for everyone. The song has some great sing-along moments that will bring a crowd together in such an uplifting way. Up next is Toxic (sadly not a Britney Spears cover). The uplifting nature of the opening track disappears here and is replaced with a pretty sad track about being in an abusive relationship. Throughout the song, Phil lists the ways in which one half of a relationship has been horrible. I'm sure most people will find at least one thing on this list to be relatable in someway so the track may be slightly cathartic for them. Towards the end of the song it does seem to get more positive as Phil sings about making the choice to end things. The final song on A Dog's Life is perhaps the hardest hitting. At just a minute and a half long, this is verging on a hardcore song. My Decision is about not being afraid to be whoever you want to be despite what people might think. This is a really powerful and uplifting way to finish the EP. All the best hardcore tracks have an uplifting nature about them and My Decision certainly has that.

In 2019 we discovered a lot of great bands from Germany thanks to Booze Cruise and The Muttnicks are without a doubt one of my favourites. A Dog's Life shows them as a band who aren't afraid to speak out on big topics and have the ability to write songs that really make you feel something when you're listening to them.

Stream and download A Dog's Life here:

Like The Muttnicks here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Column: Colin's Festival Plans 2020

It’s that time of year again. That time when Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day are done and dusted and you start to look forward to the year ahead. I imagine a lot of people reading this will be looking at the plethora of punk festivals available to them and deciding which they want to go to. Emma and I decided early which we would be going to. Here's a little preview of them to help make your decisions easier!

Do It Together Fest, 24th–25th January

Of course I'm going to this, I've helped to organise it! Together with my best buds from Be Sharp Promotions and Shout Louder, we've put together Do It Together – two days of brilliant DIY punk rock bands from all genres and headlined by the one and only Lightyear! My mind is still blown by that. Taking place at our home from home of the New Cross Inn in South London, also appearing will be The JB Conspiracy, Eat Defeat, Burnt Tapes, Call Me Malcolm, Forever Unclean, Triple Sundae, Goodbye Blue Monday, Uniforms, Katie MF, Just Say Nay and more! The theme for the festival is celebrating the punk rock community and all the wonderful people in it. It's going to be a proper mates fest, so come be our mate.

Manchester Punk Festival, 24th–26th April

The UK's best punk rock festival returns for its sixth edition and it's looking better than ever – and the whole line-up is yet to be announced. I've been going to Manchester Punk Festival every year since it started and it's been so wonderful seeing it grow into the can’t miss event that it is now, whilst sticking to its core DIY fundamentals. It's basically a punk rock family reunion where it seems like everyone we know from the punk rock scene – not just in the UK – makes the pilgrimage to Manchester. It's a weekend of the best bands and the best hangs. So far they've announced international acts such as The Flatliners, Red City Radio, Shai Hulud, Belvedere, Broadway Calls and Signals Midwest, as well as UK acts Random Hand, ONSIND, Roughneck Riot, Popes Of Chillitown, Ducking Punches, Fresh and PMX. The festival has one more announcement to go and I suspect it's going to be amazing.

Bristol Booze Cruise Festival, 22nd–24th May

The first incarnation of the Bristol Booze Cruise happened last year and we were gutted not to be able to make it. We then decided that this year we would definitely be attending. Aiming to showcase smaller bands not just from the UK but from North America and mainland Europe as well, the festival has only had one announcement so far but our decision to attend has already been very much confirmed. I was so excited when I saw bands such as Restorations, Free Throw, Mikey Erg, Antillectual, Ramona, Trophy Jump, Moonraker, Sewer Rats and Lone Wolf were coming to the UK to play alongside The Run Up, Darko, Burnt Tapes, Goodbye Blue Monday, Aerial Salad, Brutalligators, H_ngm_n and Pardon Us. There's another corporate rock festival happening this weekend but Bristol for Booze Cruise is definitely the place to be.

Hamburg Booze Cruise Festival, 12th–14th June

Last year we went to our first Hamburg Booze Cruise Festival and it was one of my highlights of the entire year. Taking place in a handful of venues around Hamburg docks, including a boat, Booze Cruise is the best time. It's a super friendly and inclusive festival where you can go not knowing anybody and leave with a load of new pals. The best way I can think of describing it is as the best European equivalent to The Fest in Gainesville. You will find a great combination of established and up and coming punk rock bands from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The line-up is yet to be announced but I'm sure you can get some clues from the Bristol Booze Cruise line-up…

Kaiser Fest, 17th–18th July

In all honesty, I don't have a lot of information about Kaiser Fest. I know it takes place in Antwerp, Belgium, and I know that it's put together by the guys from Captain Kaiser and that our buddy Jason from El Topo Bookings is helping out. Last year they had The Copyrights, Kepi Ghoulie, The Priceduifkes and Lone Wolf on the line-up. Already announced for this year are Captain Kaiser (obviously), Goodbye Blue Monday (we're basically following them around in 2020), Coma Commander, Beans On Toast, Funeral Dress, The Sewer Rats, Aster and Tom De Ridder . That'll do nicely.

Punk Rock Holiday, 10th–14th August

Perhaps the biggest punk rock festival in Europe now, Punk Rock Holiday is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Taking place in Tomlin, Slovenia, it's a festival whose setting we've long admired from afar and we decided it was finally time to pay it a visit. Particularly because there are apparently plans to build a road right through the middle of the grounds. They always attracted the biggest names in punk rock and this year is no different with Flogging Molly, The Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, Refused, Strike Anywhere, Bad Religion and Mad Caddies. If that's not enough, the beach stage is showcasing some of the best underground bands in the world with Eat Defeat, Captain Asshole, Faintest Idea, Abraskadabra, Petrol Girls, P.O. Box, Chump and The Sewer Rats making me very excited to attend this festival.

That's just six of the great festivals happening this year! Be sure to also check out Bearded Punk Fest, El Topo Goes Loco, Slam Dunk Festival, This Is My Fest, Jera On Air, Punk Rock Raduno, Wonk Fest, Rebellion Festival, Brakrock, Wotsit Called Fest, Arrowfest, Pouzza Fest, Punk Rock Bowling, The Fest and Book Yer Ane Fest.

This column was written by Colin Clark.