Friday, 28 February 2020

CPRW Playlist: February 2020

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

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Top Tens: Ten European Bands Colin Hopes Come To The UK In 2020

One of the biggest pleasures I've had over the past few years is discovering the plethora of talent in the European punk rock scene. Whenever I've found out about a brand new brilliant band, I've made sure to tell anyone who would listen about them. Sadly, due to recent government legislation following Brexit, the likelihood of a lot of those bands being able to come over to the UK after this year is extremely slim. This makes me sad. I decided to make a list of my top ten bands I'd like to see come over before 2021 when the new legislations comes into play.

(I haven't included bands that I know are already booked to come over this year.)

Hamburg's Arterials were one of my favourite new discoveries from Booze Cruise 2019. I was mesmerised by their live performance and bought their album Constructive Summer immediately after their set. Arterials play a fantastic style of intense pop punk with brilliant gruff vocals. I don't believe the band have been to the UK before but, with a new album released on April 24th, now seems like the time to do it.

Austrian Ramonescore band Dorkatron are one of the most fun bands I've discovered over the past couple of years. Playing fast pop punk songs about not being cool, there's such a brilliant humour about their music but it's also as catchy as the flu (but in a good way). There isn't a massive Ramonescore scene in the UK sadly but these guys would certainly entertain everyone who would get to see them live.

For I Am
Belgium's For I Am have been to the UK a number of times over the years so it would be nice for them to come back one more time before the Brexit transition period is over. For I Am's Hanne Terweduwe has one of the very best voices in punk rock and I sadly have never been able to catch them live when they have come over. I want to rectify this. One of Europe's finest pop punk bands.

Czech skacore act Jet8 were one of my favourite bands at Level Up 2019. Combining intense skate punk with an energetic brass section, they blew everyone in the New Cross Inn away. They are a great example of a European band coming to the UK without much of a fan base and showcasing just how good so many of the bands in Europe are, if people were to make the effort to listen to them. Jet8 recently released a brilliant new album named Chasing The High – look out for a review coming soon.

The Overjoyed
The only time I've ever seen Greece's The Overjoyed was when they played New Cross in 2016. I didn't know who they were and only went along to the show to see the other bands. I came away with a new favourite pop punk band. Their last album, Aced Out, was very close to making it into my top ten albums to 2019. Go and listen to it if you haven't already, you won't regret it. I know the band are hoping to get back to the UK this year, fingers crossed they can make it happen.

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing French indie punk rockers Quitters twice when they came to the UK for a tour with The Run Up in 2018. Emma and I travelled from Bedford to Bristol on my birthday just to see them and they did not disappoint. They're great on record but being able to see them play songs such as Why Should We Burn Our Lives? and The Brighter Shades Of Time live was something else. The band are recording a new album in April so hopefully they'll be able to get back to the UK before the year is out.

Stöj Snak
Denmark's Stöj Snak are probably the band on this list who have come to the UK the most due to their affiliation with TNSRecords and Make-That-A-Take Records. The folk punk band are one of the finest bands I've ever seen live. They have this ability to grab an audience's attention with a raw yet magical live show. Whether playing softly or with a ferocity that matches the angriest of hardcore acts, you simply can't take your eyes off Stöj Snak. Another act with a new album due in 2020, here's hoping a UK album release tour is planned.

Tiny Voices
Formerly known as Wank For Peace, this French melodic hardcore band recently reunited as Tiny Voices. They have stated that WFP is dead and Tiny Voices will be playing completely new songs. If they are anywhere near as good as their previous band’s material, it's going to be wonderful. WFP made numerous trips to the UK so let's hope Tiny Voices are able to come over and show us what they're all about in 2020.

Überyou were without a doubt the best live band I saw in 2019. I'm fortunate enough to be able to see them again in Hamburg for Booze Cruise this year but they're so good live I just want many more people in the UK to witness the experience that is Überyou. I've never seen a band connect with a crowd like this Swiss five piece did. They have this incredible sound that just empowers anyone listening. For me, they're one of the most vital bands in worldwide punk scene at the moment.

Worst Advice
Worst Advice are a new band to me since discovering them after they were announced for Hamburg Booze Cruise this year. As soon as I listened to them I knew they were a band for me. The Germans are a relatively new band on the scene but look to make a name for themselves quickly with some fantastic pop punk music. It's that wonderful, fists-in-the-air, shout along at the top of your lungs style that's just the best. A new favourite for me and I want to see them as much as possible.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Album Review: 3 Chords 2 Teeth by Werecats, The Atoms, Skimmer and The Crash Mats (by Dan#2)

I love a good split. They're great for discovering new bands and Horn & Hoof Records' new split "3 Chords 2 Teeth" is a great sample of what four of their bands have to offer.

The first band on the spilt is Werecats, an old-school style pop punk band fronted by Cici Wongster and Pip Arr whom I have had the pleasure of seeing multiple times. Their offerings to the split are "You Will Love Me" and "Ode To Pizza Tramp". The first is a creepy song about some ugly stalker trying to make you fall in love with them. The word choices make me picture a pretty unpleasant experience, while melody-wise it's a simple punk song with a really catchy chorus and backing vocals that make you want to sing along with the whoas! "Ode To Pizza Tramp" is a touching but lightning fast tribute to the great hardcore band... you guessed it, Pizza Tramp. I won't spoil it but it really made me laugh. This short blaster of a song made me really want to see more fast songs from Werecats!

The Atoms are the next band and are completely new to me. "I Hope She Dies" slams straight in with its chorus hook. Like it says on the tin, it's about hoping someone they hate dies – a classic punk rock song topic! I really like the "ooo"s in the bridge, they sound kinda like the Beach Boys and it really puts a smile on my face. "Steve Is A Smackrat" kicks in with a cool breeze of a high bassline, providing a nice contrast to the vocals before everything kicks in. It's about a mate turning into a smack head and becoming a c*nt. The thing that really sticks out for me in the The Atoms is their bassist: both of their tracks have killer basslines. Their harmonies are also perfect and both of these songs are fun to listen to!

I have no idea what a Skimmer is, nor do I want to know, but they are so good at what they do. I get quite a gruff punk vibe off these guys and their vocals blend into the chords really well. "Cinders" is super catchy with pretty lyrics which burn a hole in my heart and leave me wanting more. "Anastasia" is a lovely little song about being very impressed by a lady called Anastasia. I really like these guys choice of chord changes, too.

The Crash Mats are my favourite band of the whole split. They sound like they are having so much fun playing their songs and it just feels so punk! "You're A Loose Cannon McGonagall" is a joke song about being the chief above McGonagall and having to put up with all his shit. It starts with the expected sample and its kick ass lead guitar riff is so good at breaking up the choruses. Altogether, it sounds dope. "Curry Party" is a ska punk song with banging chords and the classic ska "PICK IT UP" vocals in the interludes! I really want to see what this band has to offer live.

All in all this is a great introduction to four bands with similar sounds, fans of one band will leave being interested in all four. All the songs are ridiculously catchy and fun! I'll definitely go see all these bands whenever they are playing nearby!

Stream and download 3 Chords 2 Teeth on Bandcamp here.

Like each of the bands on their respective Facebook pages – Werecats, The Atoms, Skimmer and The Crash Mats.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Album Review: Young by Erica Freas (by Emma Prew)

Erica Freas might be most known in the music world for her part in American punk rock band RVIVR but that could soon change as she is set to release a brand new album of solo material, that has been in the works for years, this Friday – 28th February. The album, titled Young, is being put out by Specialist Subject Records and features 11 tracks that share a common theme – they are all deeply personal and they were all written for friends during moments of change and transition.

On Bandcamp, Erica says ‘We’re so caught up in this moment with all the real pressures and challenges that mark our lives right now; this all-consuming moment. With these songs, I was thinking about what world we’re welcoming the next generation into and, similarly, how we approach our own futures and histories as we grow. These songs are about being alive, whether we’re new to it or have been around awhile.’

If you’ve heard any of the singles that Erica has put out in the run up to the release of Young – or indeed any of her previous solo material – then you’ll know that this isn’t the most ‘punk’ of albums, at least not musically – I’d say it’s more folky indie pop, if I had to label it with a genre. This doesn’t bother me, since I like a wide variety of ‘punk rock’ and, whether she’s singing in RVIVR or solo, I love Erica’s voice. So I was bound to enjoy Young, right?

Young opens with I Came Here To Feed You. Softly strummed guitar and vocals set the tone for what to expect from this record. The repetition of ‘oh you little thing’ is infectious as the song builds ever so slightly in volume. It feels as if this song could be as much about a small bird as it could be about a specific person in Erica’s life. Or maybe I just think that as there’s some birds tweeting at the end of the song and leading us into the next. True Blue is the name of track number two. We are welcomed by a lovely warm acoustic finger picked melody and shortly some subtle and soothing hums of ‘Blue–ooh–ohh’. In True Blue, Erica skilfully likens a person as being like the changeable sky. ‘Blue like the sky turning from the nighttime to the day, Stormy when she needs to be.’ There are some particularly lovely harmonised vocals at points during the song which really add to the song as a whole.

Red Is was the first single to be released from Young. In this song, Erica talks us through a selection of colours, not just red, and what they remind her of. It’s a beautifully nostalgic song that brings a smile to my face, despite – of course – not being able to connect with the specific colour connotations in the song. I think it’s an interesting idea to assign colours to fond memories and certainly makes for a super song. By the fourth song, I’m feeling like there’s a bit of a theme of colours going on here. Titled Magnolia (Spring Blossom), so more specifically referencing the plant than the colour, this song feels like a celebration of a new season, a new life or a new chapter in one’s story – the season being Spring. The whole album feels like the epitome of Spring actually and this song is certainly no exception. ‘Magnolia, Magnolia, Blossom of the spring time, Magnolia, Magnolia, You’ve always been a love of mine.’

The fifth track, Salish Sea Orcas, is probably the single song that stood out to me the most on my first listen though. With slightly faster paced acoustic guitar picking to start and louder – relatively speaking – and firm vocals, I’m immediately hooked into this song that, on face value, seems to be about the sea. The lines ‘And how much can we love something that we don’t hear, Deep under water the whales are clear, When they talk to their families, They whistle their songs, And we’re singing along’ followed by actual whale song is just wonderful. I love this song. There have been hints of electric guitars in earlier songs but none so clear as the opening riff of A Year. Erica starts by singing of writing a postcard that then doesn’t get delivered. The song is about how ‘a year’ can seem long or short, happy or sad, memorable or not, depending on each individual – ‘What’s a year to me with all the million things I’ve seen, But a year to you is so long and I miss you.’ You can be physically far away from someone but still feel close to them emotionally – A Year drives home the positives of these feelings.

With Little Sunrise we are back to soft acoustic guitar melodies. There’s just something extra special about Erica’s voice when backed by only an acoustic guitar. Little Sunrise feels uplifting as Erica sings of letting go, moving on and being content with yourself and your life. ‘Push the moon aside little sunrise, We’re waiting for on this side, To meet you in the summer time, Let go and you’ll be fine, Let go and you’ll be fine, Let go…’ These uplifting feelings are apparent particularly towards the end of the song as the vocals seem to get louder and more empowering. There’s almost a bit of a country twang in Erica’s vocals in eighth track, Golden Welcome. Or maybe it’s just me. She tells such wonderful stories in her songs and this is a prime example of that. You really feel like you’re on a journey with this song particularly when the repetition of ‘Welcome to Earth’ over and over is layered over what sounds like a cello and a series of sound clips before ending with a gentle rendition of Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (from Oklahoma!). Certainly not what I was expecting but lovely nonetheless.

Fantastic Future was the second single to be released from Young and it takes its place on the album at number nine. The song has an especially slow start, building atmosphere and setting the tone once again. It’s almost whimsical and dreamlike. Fantastic Future is a song about feeling hopeful while looking ahead to the future and perhaps also being thankful for what’s got you to this point. ‘We’ve been here before, In the grip of the future, Unwinding our golden thread, Again and again.’ The penultimate song is titled July Bird. Opening with the words ‘Hey little bird…’ this feels like another song that uses a small bird as a metaphor for a, perhaps slightly fragile, person. The song is soothing and lullaby-esque while the image of a bird makes me think of freedom. Ultimately I think July Bird is about growing up and finding your own path in life. And that’s a theme that is reflected in the album’s closing song, Tadpoles, even with the song’s opening words – ‘Hey little pollywog…’. I guess, as a tadpole, you have so much of your life ahead of you and will understandably change a lot over time. Tadpoles is about finding positives in your own future and, really, that’s something that I can take away from Young as a whole. 

Young is a wonderful record that, despite having been a long time coming, feels perfectly timed with its release this week. I mentioned earlier in my review that there’s a distinct feeling of Spring about these songs and this album as a whole, at least to me. I feel like there’s plenty of albums out there that represent the Summertime but, as Spring is personally my favourite season, it’s nice to have an album personify Spring and the joy the season brings – hopefulness and new beginnings. That, and these 11 songs are each beautifully written and arranged to perfection. It’s been a pleasure to have an early listen to Young and I look forward to many more ears hearing it come Friday.

You can pre-order Young from Specialist Subject Records and from Erica’s Bandcamp page if you are in the US. Like Erica Freas on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Album Review: Good Luck Everybody by AJJ (by Dan#2)

AJJ are one of the few bands who can throat-punch my insecurities to the surface, forcing me to confront my deepest darkest thoughts in an unplanned manner. But I seem to always come back for another hit whenever they release a new record. This one came with the promise that it was lyrically their most punk album, but instrumentally it was their least punk album which really did peak my interest. "Good Luck Everybody", its really fitting title, also fills me with dread... So let's get into why.

"A Poem" is the first song on the record. It starts with some lovely folky guitar and Sean Bonnette offering... a poem, which on the surface could be interpreted as "nobody cares about the songs unless they are popular", but I think the lyrics are more about how capitalism gives songs value defined by whether they are popular – if something doesn't do well, the artists could starve and we just accept that. It's messed up but also alludes to why most writers become "awful, ugly people", because their entire life is based on being popular with people. This first very real take of the album also sets AJJ up to say: if you don't like these songs, that's ok – we will just starve to death. The production of the fade out into the full band coming in is also powerful but so smooth. The sound of the full band complete with counter melodies make the words "If you don't give it to them, they'll starve to death" so catchy and upbeat.

"Normalization Blues" is a country blues song about terrible things in the world starting to become normalised as the name suggests. It's just Sean and his guitar. The stripped back style he employs adds a great deal of focus to the truth he is speaking in the words. In my opinion, it is one of best lyrical dissections of the world and how we connect, interpret and deal with it at the moment. Hearing this as the third single before the record came out left me in a stunned silence due to how well-crafted the lyrics are. There is so much to think about and unpick in this one song – it's a masterwork. I could write a whole examination on each and every line but to keep this review short, here are some of the most important lines from the record as a whole:

"Connection's more important now than it ever was, But I'd rather be alone." – This idea of knowing the importance of human connection but being discouraged from it at every opportunity due to some human beings being awful, ugly and hostile due to the views they have been manipulated into holding.

In the last verse, Sean says: "the ugliest word in the English language is Anthropocene". Anthropocene is the current geological age, where humans have biggest impact on the climate and the environment. He is completely right in this statement because I find it very ugly that a word for this even exists...

After dissecting the world we live in, the song finishes with the harrowing title of the album: "Good luck, everybody" – wishing us luck for our incoming futures in the described awful planet.

When "Body Terror Song"'s first line kicked in on my walk to the train station, it gave me the aforementioned emotional throat-punch. The words "I'm so sorry that you have to have a body" hit me, because I knew exactly where this song was going to go... that is, the pain of existing in a world full of awful dreadful people. The lyrics portray something I felt deep in my subconscious. My initial reaction was to laugh out loud followed immediately by a state of being unsettled, like a shiver down my spine knocking my brain out of place. The lyrics to this one are exactly why I love AJJ, this touched things in my head that not many other bands can, and they seem to do it every single record. This song also sounds like a bad acid trip in an elevator with the catchy jingle warping into something more insidious and haunting! It's a delightfully devilish little song topped with a piano melody.

This perfectly blends onto "Feedbag", which has haunting synth sounds making up most of the backing. A drum machine panning from ear to ear makes the sound very spooky with the almost groaning synths. The lyrics describe going out into a world that looks grey and trying your best to communicate with people that you thought you know, but who turn out to hold views that make you feel like you never knew them at all. He talks again about the "Golden age of dickotry", which was mentioned in the "Normalization Blues", to reinforce the selfishness of the reality which we live in. I really like the soundscape created here – it brings to mind a gothic world drained of colour.

This leads into track 5: "No Justice, No Peace, No Hope" which is a direct mirror of "No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread" which is track 5 off "The Bible 2". As you can probably guess from the title, it is not a positive song. This one is stripped back to piano and vocals to give it a really personal effect. The first words of this song are "The lake of dead black children that America created is getting fuller than the Founding Fathers even wanted". This lake is also referred to in the last song, reinforcing the fact that the world created in the last song is full of nothing but despair. The chord choices make it sound big and powerful while still sounding miserable. This really hits home for how fucked up AJJ thinks the whole of their nation is and how depressed it makes them feel. Some great lyrics in this one are "My leaders led by nothing-men, dick-first into oblivion", which is a great summary of Trump and his cronies. "Now they upsell us our dignity like some fucked V.I.P. package" describes how corporations sell things back to us that they took from us to begin with. The song ends with the title "No Justice, No Peace, No Hope" and, the first time I heard this song, those words made me burst into tears.

There are definitely two halves to this record, the first being worrying, scary and downright depressing, but the second half is a lot more positive. "Mega Guillotine 2020" is very much a song that goes with its video, it sounds almost like a song from a children's TV show, but it's about voting for a big death dealing machine to come execute all of the bad people who currently run the show, like some Teletubbies-meets-grand-French-Revolution shit. Everything about this one really gets stuck in your head: the tambourine, the ray of sunlight keyboards and the bell chimes. Mega Guillotine, I love you!

Number 7 is "Loudmouth". It sounds more like something from the last record, folk punk mixed with punk rock, electric guitars blend with acoustic to make it an angry song that comes across soft and cynical. It's lovely, the lyrics describe someone whose politics you agree with but is an asshole so you don't really want to associate with them. I have encountered so many people I could apply this to (hand-on-heart, including myself at some points), so it's really relatable.

"Maggie" is a nice happy sounding song about owning a dog from the perspective of the dog and that dog emotionally supporting their owner. It came across creepy at first, because I thought it was about humans not dogs... my bad.

"Psychic Warfare" is about killing Trump with your mind because he is evil. AJJ had played this in a live session before this album version came out, where it was a punk rock song with guitars, so it was a surprise that the album version is all strings. It makes it sound wonderful, like they are painting a beautiful art piece to then set fire to at every show. I also love the idea of putting all your hate into a piece of art and it coming out as this beautiful song called Psychic Warfare, in contrast to putting all your love into a song!

"Your Voice, As I Remember It" is a lovely song about missing the sound of someone's voice. It's a slow, full-band song that sounds like a lovely stroll through a flowery meadow. Not really my thing, but I bet it's someone's favourite, and it sets a nice transition between "Psychic Warfare" and our final track: "A Big Day For Grimley".

This is a nice bluesy song stripped down to AJJ's base components once again: acoustic guitar, bass and Sean's voice. This song is about having hope looking forward to the future, because you know the world is bullshit. Words like "I live in a fortress the shape of my body" describe being more cynical about the world and how we react by shutting our selves off to the things that upset us. The ending has hope that everyone gets what they want with lines like "Arcades for the ADHD" and "Health for the sickly". It creates a picture of a world where we are satisfied. The last words fit this perfectly: "Good Luck Everybody", then a tune is whistled which fades out into a strong end. It's a really pretty song that does a lot to tie up the themes of the record, leaving you with a little bit of light in your pit of despair.

This record is another perfectly produced, beautiful, terror-inducing masterpiece from AJJ. I truly hope we can leave some of the nightmares described by these songs behind in 2020, but until then I can use some of these songs to wallow in my despair, with other songs providing a little bit of hope that I'm not the only one in pit longing for escape. Thanks AJJ and Good Luck Everybody.

PS. Mega Guillotine for 2020!

Steam and download Good Luck Everybody here.

Like AJJ here.

This review was written by Dan Kilvert.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Gig Review: The Menzingers at The Forum, London 15/2/20 (by Emma Prew)

Whenever The Menzingers – one of my all-time favourite bands – are in town, you can bet that I’ll be keen to go. I admit that I preferred when they were playing smaller venues than The Forum in Kentish Town and I begrudge giving my money to a) Ticketmaster and b) an O2 venue but they’re a great band and, unfortunately for me, more people have realised this over the years. Grumbles about venue size aside, I was also extra excited to attend this show when they announced that Spanish Love Songs would be touring with the Philly foursome. If The Menzingers are one of my all-time favourite bands then Spanish Love Songs are one of my most favourites of the past two or three years – so, basically, soon to be all-time favourites. Add to the tour Mannequin Pussy, a band that I hadn’t listened to before but, after checking them out briefly, was keen to see live. This was bound to be a brilliant gig.

As Colin had taken the day off work in order to join me at the gig (Saturday night gigs are generally not good for us), we headed in to London earlier than usual to make the most of the day – and also because we didn’t know what impact the dreaded Storm Dennis was going to have on the trains. Surprisingly, no problems whatsoever was the answer! We went to the London Calling exhibition at the Museum Of London in Barbican which was a small collection of artefacts and information about The Clash’s classic album. As it was a miserably rainy day in London, the museum was very busy so, if you can, I’d recommend going on a week day and not a Saturday to have space to take it all in – the exhibition is on until 19th April. After that we headed to Temple Of Seitan with our pals Paul and Taj, to fill our tummies before the big punk rock show. I’m fairly certain there were several other people at Temple Of Seitan who were also going to see The Menzingers. What can I say, us punks like vegan junk food. Stomachs satisfied, it was time to head to The Forum…

Mannequin Pussy are a four piece from Philadelphia who released their third album, Patience, on Epitaph Records last year and they were first on. I always love how The Menzingers tend to bring a band from their hometown on their European tours with them. It’s often bands that we perhaps won’t know so well over here so the fans get to discover a potential new favourite band and the band get to play to big new audiences – everyone’s happy! As I mentioned earlier, I listened to Mannequin Pussy a little ahead of the gig to get a vague idea of what they were like. I must admit that I was a little put off by their band name at first but their songs more than made up for it, with a sound ranging from indie-style pop punk to ferocious feminist hardcore. It was that ferocity that really stood out to me when watching the band perform live with lead vocalist and guitarist Marisa’s voice ranging from angelic softness to intense mosh-pit inducing screams. I would say I enjoyed the louder and livelier songs the most, particularly Drunk II. Mannequin Pussy are a great band and I’d happily watch them live again.

Spanish Love Songs just keep getting better and better, both in terms of live performances and in terms of new music. Their third album, Brave Faces Everyone, was released during this tour with The Menzingers (on the 7th February) and so this has been as much an album release tour as a killer support slot for them. In the 15 or so months since Spanish Love Songs made their debut appearance in the UK, I have seen them live six times – with their set at The Forum being my seventh. To say that I love Spanish Love Songs would be an understatement. I’d spent the week running up to this gig listening to Brave Faces Everyone (it’s great – I will get around to writing a full review at some point) and learning the words. Of course, when the band took to the stage, I wasted no time in losing my voice singing along to some of my favourite songs – with those around me doing the same. From opening hit single Losers through to Schmaltz classics such as Buffalo Buffalo, The Boy Considers His Haircut and set closer Beer & Nyquil with newer tunes Routine Pain, Kick and Losers, Pt. 2 thrown in between, I adored every second of Spanish Love Songs’ performance. The new songs sound better than ever live and fit in nicely alongside songs from Schmaltz. It’s a little sad that I don’t think we’ll be hearing songs from their first album, Giant Sings The Blues, again any time soon but, when the new songs are this good, I guess I can live with that. What a performance from a ‘support’ band. It won’t be long before Spanish Love Songs are headlining venues of this size themselves!

It had been over a year since I last saw The Menzingers headline their own show, having only seen them once last year at Slam Dunk Festival (not a prime example of a Menzingers gig, to be honest) so I was rather looking forward to their set. Of course, since I last saw them, The Menzingers have released their sixth album. I must admit to not being a huge fan of Hello Exile as a whole – I did review the album if you want to know more of my thoughts. Basically, I like the singles and a couple of other songs but it just didn’t meet the high standard set by 2017’s After The Party for me. However, I was hoping that by hearing the new songs live, I might see something in them that I was otherwise missing. Opening their set with Anna, the lead single from Hello Exile, seemed to go down a treat with the crowd and we certainly had no problem singing along to it as if it was an old favourite. The song has a big anthem-like feel and so it didn’t sound at all out of place being played to 2000 people. But what’s better than that many people singing along to ‘I have so much to yell you, Please come back to Philadelphia’? That many people yelling ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it’! To follow a newer song with The Obituaries, from the iconic album On The Impossible Past, was pretty perfect if you ask me. I certainly had a nice time screaming along to one of my favourite songs. From then on, it was a combination of songs from the last four albums including Rodent, Portland, Good Things, Burn After Writing, Tellin’ Lies and Strangers Forever. Tom was his typical bouncy self, truly having the best time on stage – not that the rest of the band weren’t, he’s just such a joy to watch. There was certainly no tiredness on show from the band due to this being this being the last night of the tour. Whether The Menzingers were playing songs from OTIP or Hello Exile, those around me were singing along to every single word with plenty of fists thrown in the air for the rowdier tunes. Clearly much of The Menzingers’ fan-base, or at least those that had come out to see them on this tour, didn’t have such doubts about the band’s latest album. I’m not sure hearing the songs live has changed my opinion all that much but there’s no denying that I still have the best time whenever I’m at a Menzingers show. They are still one of my favourite bands of all time.

Unfortunately, due to the questionable nature of Storm Dennis and the fact that our last train that didn’t involve a rail replacement bus service was at 10:35pm we had to leave the gig quite early. I was hoping to hear After The Party before we had to leave, as that’s always such a joy to scream along to, but I later found out that it was the very last song of the encore – understandable really as it’s such an awesome song! We missed about five or six songs, including a cover of Death Of Glory by The Clash which I’m sure would have been brilliant, but we did manage to get home without any hiccups. And, besides, I’m seeing The Menzingers (and Spanish Love Songs) again later this year anyway, when they play Booze Cruise Festival in Hamburg which is going to be ridiculously good! The whole line-up is incredible and having been to the DIY fest last year, I’d highly recommend it.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Reasons To Go To Bristol Booze Cruise

Last year, Hamburg punk rock festival Booze Cruise branched out and started a sister festival in Bristol. Running during the second May bank holiday weekend, at one of the best DIY venues in the UK – The Exchange – it features a whole host of the best new bands from the UK, Europe and the Unites States. Unfortunately, the weekend clashes with long running alternative music festival Slam Dunk, providing a difficult decision for people about which to go to. Here's my top ten reasons to go to Bristol Booze Cruise.

1. Support DIY Festivals

It's important to support smaller festivals to help them grow and continue to exist. The more festivals there are, the more choice people have with what they want to do and the more chances there are for bands to get on bills and potentially play to a new audience. For me personally, supporting a DIY festival is more rewarding than attending a big, corporate sponsored festival. I know I'll have fun at both but I'll feel more a part of something exciting at Booze Cruise.

2. Support Small Bands

I touched on this on point one, but at Booze Cruise you will have the opportunity to see some bands you probably haven't before and no doubt you'll become a fan of those bands. Something that's put me off of Slam Dunk over the past few years is the use of the same collection of bands. A lot of time, it's also bands from twenty years ago and not many who are current. Admittedly, we all like to get a bit nostalgic now and again but we need to support the up and coming bands. If we don't, the scene won't be able to survive and exist like it does today.

3. Non Cis/Females On Stage

A big complaint many people have about festivals is the lack of representation of non-male people. It's nice to see Booze Cruise (along with other DIY festivals like MPF) tackle this. On the line-up this year, they have seventeen out of the forty-three bands that feature non cis/female members which is just fantastic. On the Sunday, the weekend finishes with three of those bands – Ramona, Worriers and Petrol Girls. To me, that's a great statement of intent from the Booze Cruise organisers that they want it to be a festival of diversity and inclusion. I love to see it.

4. International Bands In The UK For The First Time

Booze Cruise offers newer bands from abroad a chance to come to the UK for the very first time. I love seeing bands such as these come over for the first time and gaining more fans each time they come back. Among the bands coming over to the UK for the first time this year are Ramona, Captain Asshole, Moonraker, Typesetter, Disaster Jacks, Higley, Hit Like A Girl, Alright, Late Bloomer and Jabber. So, come see them before they start playing bigger venues!

5. The Exchange

As I said in the introduction, Booze Cruise will be taking place at The Exchange in Bristol. The Exchange is one of the UK's premier DIY venues and has become a regular stop on tours for many DIY bands. The great thing about The Exchange is that it's not just a venue. It's also a vegan café and the headquarters of Specialist Subject Records. If you have time between bands, you can go and enjoy some fantastic cake or buy some records from the shop. It's got everything you could possibly need all in one place!

6. A Friendly Community

From my experience of Hamburg Booze Cruise last year and DIY festivals in general, there's always such a friendly atmosphere at these events. I expect Bristol Booze Cruise to be no different. The crowd of people who attend, whether you know them or you don't, can usually make a good festival a great festival. This is the sort of festival you can expect to come away from having a lot of new friends to meet at other festivals throughout the year.


One of the biggest headaches from all festivals is the potential for clashes. Something wonderful about Bristol Booze Cruise is that there are no clashes at all. The only thing stopping you from seeing all forty-three bands is the need to eat occasionally. But, with the Exchange café, you won't need to go far for some grub before getting back to the punk rock fun times.

8. Bristol

This isn't really a festival related reason as such. Rather, just a letter of love to the city of Bristol. It's such a beautiful and vibrant place with plenty of things to offer if you've got time either side of the festival. In my experience, it's definitely one of the friendliest cities in the UK and I always look forward to going back there whenever I get the opportunity.

9. Value For Money

All three days of the festivals is just £55. That's a cracking bit of value when you consider it is possible to also see every single band. That's less than £1.30 a band! Compare that to the £75 that it costs to go to Slam Dunk where you'll do well to see ten different bands, you know which one financially makes the most amount of sense.

10. Get Out Of A Rut And Start A New Tradition

A lot of people I speak to continue to go to Slam Dunk every year just because it's what they do. Even if they don't enjoy it as much as they once did, they continue to go out of habit. Bristol Booze Cruise offers such a fantastic chance to do something different, perhaps start a new yearly tradition or even a new bi-yearly one where you alternate between festivals. Booze Cruise offers a fantastic choice that we haven't really had before.

You can buy tickets for Bristol Booze Cruise here.

Check out the Facebook event here.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Album Review: Capture Phase by Capture Phase (by Marcus Pond)

Capture Phase is a four piece group out of the great city of Austin, Texas.

Their three-song self-titled EP was released in December of 2019, but didn’t drift onto my radar until the second week of January, when I was combing through the show listings of some of my favorite Austin venues. Their Bandcamp page has quite a few other genres listed, so much so that I wondered if this would be an enjoyable entry for CPRW readers/listeners. However, in addition to having the labels “experimental”, “progressive”, and “noise rock”, they also had “punk” listed twice, so I’ll allow it.

If I had to file them into one of punk’s many sub-genres, I’d probably go with “post-hardcore”, since “Minute Man” scratches the itch in the part of my brain that really likes Hot Snakes and Fugazi. It opens up the EP with a burst of frenetic drumming and angular guitars screeching, before a humming bass line leads to some Ian MacKaye-esque vocals. I can hardly make out the lyrics, but themes of corruption and the repeated line “Screaming / At the ceiling” tell you what you need to know about this track.

My favorite tune is the closer, “Bone Consulate”, which was featured on the January CPRW playlist. Here, Capture Phase utilized some time signature changes and jazzy drumming to worm the line “Inside the Bone Consulate” into my brain. I don’t know what (or where?) the Bone Consulate is, but it’s sung with such a swagger that I’m pretty sure it’s cool and maybe a little dangerous but has good music playing on the PA. I sort of want to go there.

On display in this EP is Capture Phase’s ability to create a swirling ocean of sound in each verse, and pull the listener out of the water for a few moments during the chorus, catching their breath before getting pulled back in. On repeat listens, I was able to better appreciate what I had already seen live, especially the top-notch drum work and alternating vocals.

The unofficial/official motto of Austin is “Keep Austin Weird”, so it makes sense that Capture Phase don’t fit perfectly into a niche. The Texas capital is a musical melting pot, and it wouldn’t surprise me if each of the band members’ previous groups were from totally different genres.

While they may not sound like your typical fist-in-the-air, mosh-pit punkers, Capture Phase still have a punk streak that’s evident in their delivery and attitude. I don’t personally have a ton of other bands in my music library that I’d compare them to, but in this case, it’s the variety that’s the spice of life.

RIYL: Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Jawbox, breakfast tacos and kolaches.

Stream and download Capture Phase here.

Like Capture Phase here.

This review was written by Marcus Pond.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Album Review: Saving The Genre, And You Know It… Split by Jagger Holly & The Windowsill

If I had a pound for every time I spoke of my love of splits then I would probably have an even bigger collection of vinyl and band t-shirts. Splits are such a great way to discover new bands. In December, Ramonescore bands Jagger Holly and The Windowsill released Saving The Genre, And You Know It... on Shield Recordings. Featuring four songs from each band, it promised to be a lot of fun.

The first half of the split features Jagger Holly. Featuring members of Johnie 3, Dee Cracks and On My Arms, Jagger Holly play melodic and catchy pop punk. This is something you would expect from a band who have previously released music on Monster Zero and Out Loud Records. Their first song on the split is titled Nobody Wants You. This is pop punk at its finest – no thrills, catchy, melodic and fun. Jagger Holly will have you singing along in no time with this song about wanting somebody more than anyone else does. Out Of Luck continues down the same musical path but picks up some more delightful harmonies along the way. Something I really enjoy about the sound of the track is how much it reminds me of one of my favourite bands ever – The McRackins. A lot of bands have combined pop punk and summer beach vibes over the years and Jagger Holly do a smashing job of it here.

Better Off (Without You) is a slightly slower almost ballad-like song. It's about trying to convince yourself that you're doing well by yourself after a break-up. The song has a slow build throughout that leads wonderfully to the final chorus which quickly takes up residence in your head and will have you singing along extra passionately. What I love about the song is the simplicity of it all. I feels like a conversation with the band’s singer being backed subtlety by the band and it works brilliantly. The final Jagger Holly track is named All The Boys. This song actually has a bit of an intro that allows you to get excited for what the song is about to go into. All The Boys is perhaps my favourite of the four Jagger Holly tracks on the split. It bridges the gap between pop punk and melodic gruff punk wonderfully. It's got a great fist-in-the-air chorus with some great harmonies and gang vocals. The song is about competing with other people for someone’s affections

The first song from The Windowsill is titled Cigarettes Kill. The Dutch punk rockers play a much more traditional Ramonescore style. Which isn't surprising given that three members of The Windowsill used to play in The Apers and the fourth is a member of Accelerators. The Windowsill certainly have some pedigree. I say Ramonescore and I assume you know what to expect – buzzing guitars, a pounding drumbeat and an urgent sounding vocal with plenty of harmonies. It's a simple formula and The Windowsill do it really well. Cigarettes Kill has a great amount of energy around it and will have you bopping along in no time at all. Don't Worry Baby is another great example of simple brilliance. There's a no thrills feel that makes the track really accessible but there's enough about the way in which everything is delivered to keep the song feeling fresh. This is very impressive songwriting. Don't Worry Baby is about being there for the person you care about when they're going through the tough times.

Lead Back To You has the best harmonies of the entire record on them. They happen in the last act of the song and has me itching to see it live. This is a break-up song, as lead singer Marien Nicotine looks back over a past relationship about how and why things fell apart. There's a sadness about the song that you don't often feel in this style of music and, do you know what, I like it. The harmonies at the song’s ending make it feel as if this should be the last song but there's still one to go – Last September. Wow, I loved how Last September starts. It's surprising and a bit startling but will welcome everyone into the song brilliantly. It's a punchy yet somehow melodic opening that will get you singing along from the outset. The chorus continues in that fashion but picks the pace up somewhat, adding some fantastic urgency to this final song.

This is a fantastic split by two brilliant pop punk bands. I was very impressed with both band’s sides of the split and both have me wanting to check out more from Jagger Holly and The Windowsill. I guess this was the idea of the split and it was quite the success.

Stream and download Saving The Genre, And You Know It… here.

Like Jagger Holly here and like The Windowsill here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Album Review: Glad For A Moment by Kick Back

Kick Back are a three piece skate punk band. They formed in Munich in 2017. After releasing a demo in August of 2018, in December of 2019 they released their first EP named Glad For A Moment. Playing a blend of skate and pop punk, I had a feeling that this was going to be something I was really going to enjoy.

The opening song on Glad For A Moment is titled Try. It starts out with a ferocious drum beat and a guitar riff that's urgent and will get you bouncing around, you know that standard skate/pop punk sound. It's when the vocals came in that I really began to get excited. MULTIPLE VOCALISTS! You know I'm in for that. Kick Back's two singers do a fantastic job bouncing off one another as well as combining for the chorus. I always mention how having gang vocals on a chorus can make it sound absolutely massive. Try is a great way to begin the EP and introduce people to Kick Back. The second song on the EP is Prostitute. Prostitute sees Kick Back step away from the poppier side of their sound and produce a full on punk rock song. I enjoyed this switch of styles, it shows a nice variation of their sound as well as their influences. The bass playing on the song is a big stand out, really driving the song forward. The song itself is about being a stripper and thinking about taking things further and becoming a prostitute and the mental anguish such a decision might cause. The final track is named Have Hope and sees Kick Back revert back to the sound of the opening track. Personally I think that this is where Kick Back really excel, it's a lot of fun and is full of energy. Vocals come from everywhere and quickly have you wanting to sing along. It's a positive song about calling your friends when you're not feeling great and they will look after you. That's what friends do.

A big trend of 2019 was discovering incredible German bands. This trend looks to continue in 2020. Kick Back are awesome. Looking forward to what is to come from the band.

Stream and download Glad For A Moment here.

Like Kick Back here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Gig Review: Pkew Pkew Pkew at Boston Music Room, London 8/2/20

Less than a year after their last London appearance, everyone's favourite Canadian boys Pkew Pkew Pkew were back! Making their first appearance at Boston Music Room in Tufnell Park, as always the evening promised to big a night of big sing-alongs and even bigger smiles.

Curiously the promoters had only added one support act to the show (which to me felt like a waste) which was a band I'd never heard of before named Gloo. It turns out they are a three piece band from Littlehampton in West Sussex. The band play a brand of noisy garage rock similar to bands such as The Hives and The Vines. They had plenty of punk rock swagger about them during their set and were pretty engaging, even if they weren't really my kind of thing. Clearly a band that are extremely tight, they blew through their set in no time at all. I particularly enjoyed mention of their "Gloo-tique" which was a bunch of shirts bought from charity shops that they've then screen printed themselves, I thought this was a fantastic idea. If you're into the noisier side of punk and rock 'n' roll, I'd recommend checking out Gloo.

Boston Music Room was getting pretty full by the time Toronto's Pkew Pkew Pkew took to the stage. The band's popularity has been quickly increasing in the UK over the past couple of years due to their catchy and energetic style of pop punk where the band tackles subjects that are hugely relatable for people approaching their thirties. Something I've always enjoyed whenever I've seen Pkew live is how, whatever the show is, they always put 100% into their performance – they love what they do and their fans love them for it. Opening the set with Passed Out before jumping into Stop Calling Us Chief got the crowd going pretty quickly and from then onwards the set was full of big sing-alongs and plenty of fists in the air. Everyone was having a fun-filled Saturday night and the band were too. It's crazy just how many big songs Pkew have despite only having released two albums at this point. Now that album number two, Optimal Lifestyles, has been out for a little while it has settled into the setlist nicely and both albums seem to blend perfectly together. The band also seem slicker than ever, with all three guitar and bass players seemingly knowing exactly the right moments to tune without having to spend ages between songs doing it. This is great because it really helped to keep the flow of the set going without breaking it up too much. The set absolutely flew by, far quicker than anyone wanted it to and before we knew it they were smashing out their biggest hit Mid 20s Skateboarder to the adoring crowd. That wasn't enough for the crowd though and pretty quickly Pkew returned to the stage for a three song encore which included The Prime Minister Of The Defence and Blood Clot. My mind is a bit fuzzy on the third song.

This was a fun night in a room full of lovely people all having a great time. What more could you possibly want?

This gig review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Punk Rock Love Songs

Commercialised love day is tomorrow. Whilst we're not really into the day itself, we do appreciate a great love song. I'm also really struggling to come up with ideas for top ten so it all fits. Following on from Robyn's top ten punk rock love songs from a couple of years ago, Colin has decided to share his own.

Aerial Salad – Romance?
Aerial Salad's brand new single from their upcoming new album, Dirt Mall, asks the question ‘do you want romance?’. It's about wanting to offer a girl something different from the usual way that "lads" would attempt to attract a girl – old school romance and a heavy dose of respect. It's a sweet song with a great message, trying to prove that not all men are dicks.

The Apers – Moonlight Kisses
Dutch punks The Apers wrote the loveliest of love songs on their final album Confetti On The Floor. On the track, Kevin Aper sings about being blown away by the kisses from his loved one. How they make him feel better and how he couldn't do without them. In the world of pop punk, every song seems like it's about getting dumped so this happy and positive song proves to be a breath of fresh air.

Big D & The Kids Table – We Can Live Anywhere
I think that this is one of Big D & The Kids Table's best songs and it makes me sad that I've never seen them play it live. It shows the softer side of the Boston ska punk legends. It opens with a sexy sax riff, before David McWane begins to croon his way through a song about home being anywhere you want it to be as long as you're together. It's so lovely that it's almost sickening but also always puts a massive smile on my face. As someone who has moved towns to live with the person they love, I relate to the song hard.

The Bouncing Souls – Favorite Everything
New Jersey's Bouncing Souls have never shied away from the soppy love song during their long and illustrious career. In 2019 they topped the soppy league table with the song Favorite Everything. On the song, Greg Attonito sings about how his partner is the best and lists plenty of reasons why. I can remember seeing them live last year and singing along with this song and directing it at Emma. Given that we were with our friends and public displays of affection are gross, she wasn't keen on this. She's such a punk.

Descendents – Nothing With You
I think it's every punk rock geek’s dream to hang out with the girl or guy they like and do literally nothing but have the best time. Those times doing nothing are the best times you can have with people. Milo brilliantly describes what we were all yearning for when we were growing up and now it happens I treasure the moment even more.

MakeWar - Tiger Lili
You might not have expected a band with the name MakeWar to write a love song, but they did – and it's bloody good. On Tiger Lili, Jose Prieto has written a love letter to his partner thanking them for helping him through the tough times and just making life better whenever you spend time together. This is a song straight from the ‘Colin & Emma’ playlist. Before I met Emma, I was going through one of the hardest times in my life and Emma came along and things all seemed to get better and fall into place. When I first heard this song, I got a lump in my throat at just how hard I related.

Masked Intruder – Heart Shaped Guitar
The first song on this list that's a duet. Technically it's only half a love song as Intruder Blue sings of his love for Maura Weaver (Mixtapes/Ogikubo Station) while she sings about her repulsion for him. This repulsion really serves as a way to make Blue's lyrics even more sweet and make you almost feel sorry for him and his unrequited love. We've all been there, except without the balaclavas.

New Town Kings – Grabbed My Hand
Colchester ska heroes the New Town Kings wrote this beautiful song back in 2014 about how life really gets started when you meet somebody you love. It shows the band venturing off into a newer style that came after Dabs Bonner joined the band. Another song that's oozing with positivity, I have to imagine it's been a few people’s first dances at their weddings.

The Skints – Lay You Down
Let's be frank, this song is about the s-e-x. The Skints are at their poppy ska finest on this bouncy number where Josh sings a song about wanting to get a girl into bed. It's forward, there's no denying it, but Josh has a cheeky charm that allows him to get away with it. It's also a catchy track that you can't help but sing along with and grin like a fool.

Teenage Bottlerocket – I Found The One
With lyrics such as "the star of all my wet dreams" and "I'm so horny that I don't know what to do, and now my balls are turning blue" Teenage Bottlerocket give a crude and humorous take on what it's like to fall for someone and wanting to ask them out. Despite the rude lyrics (sorry if you're reading this, Mumma C), Teenage Bottlerocket manage to come across as being pretty endearing and sweet on this song. They probably shouldn't, but they do.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Gig Review: The Interrupters at Kentish Town Forum, London 7/2/20 (by Chris Bishton)

It's Friday night and it's my second gig of the week. I'm heading back north of the river, this time to see The Interrupters at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town.

It's sold out. It kinda blows my mind. Only 14 months ago, I'd seen them down the road at the smaller Electric Ballroom. The time before that, they'd been at the even smaller Tufnell Park Dome. Now, they're at the O2 Forum… a venue I've attended most recently to see legends like Descendents, Bad Religion and Jawbreaker! And this is the first of two nights they're playing here.

So, now I'm racing to get there in time for the first band, Buster Shuffle. My friend and I have been talking for ages about wanting to see them, but I'm really conscious I'm running late and they're first on. I get to pub, but there's no time for a drink or a catch up. Instead, we head straight in and take up a spot just before they come on. We're not disappointed. Playing a home town gig, they've soon got the crowd going even though the doors have only been open half an hour and it's still filling up. As Jet – lead singer and piano player – notes, they need to play more London shows.

Next are The Skints. They slow things down a little following Buster Shuffle. Mellower and with more of a reggae sound mixed with their laid back ska, they have 42 minutes on stage. However, I miss a good chunk of their set due to queuing at the bar. For a venue that holds 2000+, one small bar on either side and one tiny cash only kiosk at the back is not good. My local pub has almost as much bar space and just as many bar staff! Please take note O2 Forum.

As usual, The Specials's Ghost Town is the tune that The Interrupters choose to take to the stage to. As the lights drop and those familiar bars start, the crowd are buzzing. It seems everyone can sense this is going to be a good one.

Jesse is first on stage, taking up his place behind the drum kit. He's swiftly followed by Justin, Kevin and Aimee Interrupter. The first song is A Friend Like Me. A brilliant start and one that seems chosen to reference the mutual love in the room.

What follows is a fabulous set of, what are now, greatest hits. Songs from all three albums get played including White Noise, By My Side, Got Each Other, Not Personal, She Got Arrested and On A Turntable.

The band and the audience are frenetic. Justin is backwards and forwards from one side of the stage to the other the whole time. Aimee doesn't stop either. Not hindered by an instrument, she's left to right and back again, before disappearing from sight as she jumps off stage to get close to the front row. She then reappears, arms pumping and all the time doesn't miss a note.

Breathers are taken at various points as Kevin talks to the crowd and introduces both the songs and the band. There's no covers this time, although The Specials's Message To You Rudy is started, it's only the first three bars and they don't finish it.

Take Back The Power, a particular crowd favourite, is a protest song but also a song about unity and how we can come together and is met with a roar. Title Holder, a song about fighting but not fighting each other, rather addiction, anxiety and oppression, is also especially well received.

Kevin then splits the audience in half before asking the two sides to run in to meet each other as Aimee counts down from four to signal the start of Gave You Everything and the crowd going wild.

The time fizzes by (did they really play 20+ songs!?). In what seems like just a few minutes after they came on stage, Kevin tells us they one have one more song. But, as the lights go out and the crowd chant for more, the band don't actually leave the stage. Kevin self-deprecatingly remarks that they aren't a big enough band to be able to leave the stage in case no one calls for them to come back, before they finish with Family and She's Kerosene.

The gig is the penultimate date on the Fight the Good Fight Tour. I haven't looked up when exactly the tour started, but the album with the aforementioned title was released way back in mid-2018.

The band must be exhausted both mentally and physically, both from the gig and the tour, but no one would ever guess. There are no signs of fatigue. The four of them have huge smiles on their faces the whole time they're on stage. They clearly love what they're doing and at times can't quite believe they're now playing these sort of venues.

However, the crowd can believe it. The band are brilliant both on record and on a stage. I'm sure there'll be many more nights like this, but they'll increasingly have to manage the increasing demand for them to play more and more places. My hope now is I don't have to wait years before they're back here again.

This gig review was written Chris Bishton.

Album Review: L’ennui by Guerilla Poubelle (by Emma Prew)

I’m about to attempt to do something that I’ve never done before: review an album where I don’t understand any of the words, unless I use Google Translate, because I don’t speak any French beyond ‘bonjour’, ‘je m’appel Emma’, ‘merci’ and ‘au revior’. This is not something that I would dream of attempting, did I not already really like the band in question. I listened to said album on the day of its release and then immediately put it on again because I enjoyed it so much – all despite the language barrier. It also felt pretty appropriate to be listening to a French band on the day the UK left the EU. Fuck Brexit.

Guerilla Poubelle are a punk rock trio from Paris who have toured the world, including playing shows at The Fest, Pouzza Fest, Booze Cruise Festival and Manchester Punk Festival as well as France’s own This Is My Fest (which, I think I’m correct in saying, they have a hand in putting together each year). They are a super hard working band with strong DIY ethics – they even have their own label, Guerilla Asso. Their new album, L’ennui (which translates as ‘Boredom’ by the way, if you also do not speak French but were wondering), was released on the 31st January on said label. Oh, and the legends that are Red Scare Industries are putting it out too!

The fact that the album has 13 tracks in a 30 minute run time is a sign that this going to be relentlessly fast-paced. And this theory is proved correct with opening track Les frontières du présent which is loud and fast from the outset. Here Guerilla Poubelle deliver a rousing protest against the world’s borders. The vocals are distinctly gruff and the chorus is a wonderful gang affair – even if I can’t quite sing along myself, yet. Second song, La chute, slows things down a little with chugging guitar and bass parts to open the song. The chorus is a catchy one which works well with the bouncy melody. The pace returns for Qui perd perd which is not far off being a full-on hardcore anthem. I wouldn’t want to be near the pit for this song – because I’m small and would probably get crushed. It’s easy to feel the rage that the band express here through the intensity of their playing and the almost screamed vocals. Unsurprisingly, the song finishes in just over a minute.

Fourth track, Apocalypse 6:12, is probably the song that stood out to me the most on my first listen through, not least because of its dark title. It’s definitely not as ‘hardcore’ as the previous track, instead taking a more mid-tempo path. I really enjoyed the exchanging of vocals between different members of the band for the chorus, something that is mirrored between the bass and guitar melodies as well. The next track, La bataille de Paris, switches in pace throughout. This helps to keep the listener’s attention and keeps you guessing what will happen next. Entre Booba et Balkany is the longest song on L’ennui, at well over 3 minutes long, and it sees Guerilla Poubelle deliver something quite different to everything we’ve heard so far. The song has a slow and extended musical introduction which builds with intensity for half of its duration before bursting to life. The whole song showcases what brilliant musicians Guerilla Poubelle are.

The seventh and eighth tracks on the album, La casse du siècle and L'aigle et la foudre respectively, are both super melodic, mid-tempo tunes. There’s plenty more shout-along-able gang vocal moments, catchy riffs and even some whoa-ohs. I should note that I have used Google Translate and read all of the lyrics for this album, it’s pretty dark stuff but inspirational at the same time, it’s good that Guerilla Poubelle are able to write songs about such important political topics. The volume is amped up once more for Passer l'arme à droite and we have one of the catchiest choruses of the album – ‘Est-ce qu’on passera l’arme à droite ?’ / ‘Will we pass the weapon to the right?’. Catchy but hard-hitting, much like the music itself. Vampire is the name of the tenth song. Opening with a beefy bass line, shortly followed by a steady drumbeat and those gravelly vocals, it’s unusual that the guitar doesn’t come in until just before the chorus. When it does come in however, it sure packs a punch. 

La guerre des pauvres is another upbeat ambush of angry punk rock. The track hurtles along at a breakneck pace but towards the end of the song there’s a short breakdown section that allows the listener to take a breath as they nod along to the riffs on offer. At least until the the pace picks up again for the last leg. The penultimate song is titled L'argile. Opening with a heavily distorted bass line and pounding drums, L'argile is probably the slowest song on the album but what it lacks in speed it makes up for with fraught emotion. In less than 2 minutes, however, it’s all over and Guerilla Poubelle ramp things up for their final song, Mare Nostrum. Bringing the album full circle, Mare Nostrum takes on the subject of refugees and freedom of movement. Understandably, it’s another hard-hitting song both musically and lyrically – the chorus being ‘Victimes de survie et d’espoir, Au fond du plus grand cimetière d'Europe’ / ‘Victims of survival and hope, At the bottom of the largest cemetery in Europe’. With plenty of atmospheric building throughout the song, it certainly feels like a huge and poignant way to end the album. 

Even before I’d copy and pasted the lyrics from the band’s Bandcamp page into Google Translate, I knew that this was an angry, anti-fascist, pro-equality, political protest album. I’ve seen Guerilla Poubelle live and I know that’s what they’re about. I also don’t have to understand every single lyric to feel the passion and raw energy they put into their music. So, if you too do not speak French, please do not let that stop you from checking out L’ennui and Guerilla Poubelle because I think it’s brilliant.

You can stream and download L’ennui on Bandcamp here and like Guerilla Poubelle on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Album Review: Algorithm & Blues by The Good The Bad And The Zugly (by Lee Morton)

Norwegian punks The Good the Bad and the Zugly have made an early claim for album of the year, and we’re not even through January (at the time of writing this). Their fourth album, “Algorithm & Blues”, doesn’t let up for one second, packed with so many stone-cold bangers that it’s nearly impossible to pick a favourite.

With their last album, “Misanthropical House”, winning a Norwegian Grammy it’s fair to say that the bar has been set high for its follow up but GBZ are not known for running away from a bar, in fact the only thing they are better at than raising the bar would be drinking one dry.

Before I dive in to the review, let’s get the lazy comparison out of the way first. Whilst GBZ share a lead singer Ivar Nikolaisen with metallers Kvelertak, they are no clone. Although I can hear some cross-over between them but, if you think of them like Norse gods striding the Norwegian music scene, Kvelertak would be the strong, heroic Thor and GBZ would be the cunning, mischievous Loki and I know who you would have more fun with.

And it’s fun all the way, as an extended classic rock style riff opens first track “Welcome To The Great Outdoors”. With a hint of Pinball Wizard in the intro, the song quickly mutates into a scuzzy, garage punk romp. It’s GBZ firing on all cylinders and the perfect re-introduction to the band as it stomps along casually throwing melodies at your ears and catchy singalongs.

Featuring a more hardcore vocal style, “Fake Noose” follows and despite its heaviness it still retains infectious melodies, riffs galore and gang vocals to shout yourself hoarse to. But it’s track three where they really take off as a twinkling bittersweet intro, reminiscent of Billy Talent to my ears at least, really showcases everything the band are about. Possibly one of their most accessible songs, “Staying With The Trouble” is almost epic at points with guitar licks that would make Slash proud and the greasy rock sound nicely offset against a beautiful choir. At the time of writing this, it’s my favourite song on the album although that will have changed again by the time I finish.

After the brief spoken word interlude of “Follow Your Dreams”, things get fast and nasty with the one-minute blitzkrieg of “Kings Of Inconvenience” that has all the subtlety of a brick through a window and causes just as much damage.

If you’ve ever listened to GBZ before you’ll know that they don’t take themselves too seriously and that comes across over the next couple of tracks. Take “The Man Behind The (Oxygen) Mask” for example, a song about sleep apnoea of all things. Tongue wedged firmly in cheek, this breakneck track details the struggle of middle-aged men with another massive chorus line of gang vocals screaming the line “breathe in, breathe out, easy for you to say, I need a fucking machine to get me through the day”.

“Fuck Life…But How To Live It?” follows and is all about the struggle of balancing real-life jobs with playing in a band, working hard during the week and raising hell at weekends. Guitars chug away until a mid-point change in tempo and the call and response refrain of “Friday night, 50 euros in my pocket”, which will sound massive in the live environment.

Another track about band life but this time pointing the finger at other bands is up next in “Corporate Rock”. Guitars buzz away as singer Ivar takes potshots at bands with big marketing machines behind them, while they stay resolutely DIY. It hits the mark brilliantly.

Things take a turn to the political on the self-explanatory “The Kids Are Alt-Right”, which takes aim at the worrying rise of white supremacy. More great guitar work powers this along but it’s the haunting sad realism to the line “I’ve seen the truth, there is a darkness spreading in the heart of our youth” that really sticks with you.

Continuing the righteous anger whilst doffing their cap to NWA, “Fuck The Police” is a storm of riffs whilst the constant chanting of “fuck the police” ups the menace and is sure to incite mass shout backs when played live.

“Kisteglad” provides an interlude before the final track “Requiem”, a scuzzy, punk banger that pours yet more riffs into the melting pot before fading out as ominous church bells chime in the background, providing a gloriously fitting finale to the album.

If it’s not already evident after reading this, I loved this album. I had high hopes based on previous releases and this doesn’t disappoint, in fact I’d have to say that it’s their most coherent and comprehensive album yet. Now, if they could just drag their arses to the UK so I can hear it live.

Stream and download Algorithm & Blues here.

Like The Good The Bad And The Zugly here.

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Gig Review: Anti-Flag at Islington Academy, London 4/2/20 (by Chris Bishton)

Sometimes when bands announce gigs, much as I want to see them, I pause and think "when this comes around, am I really going to fancy it?". On paper, a Tuesday night, in the first week of February, at a venue that's north of the river was one of these gigs that might make me think twice. But when that band is Anti-Flag, no way was that ever going to cross my mind with this gig.

I get to the venue when Maid of Ace are already on stage. A four piece from Hastings and my first thought is that they're very tight, as you might expect from a band that's made up of four siblings, but by the time I've properly got into the venue, got to the bar and then got my spot in the audience sorted, their set is pretty much over. However, they've made enough of an impression for me to make a mental note to check them out online in the next few days.

Next are Canada's The Creepshow. I'll be honest, even though they've been a band for around 15 years, I'm not familiar with them. They're a charismatic blend of psychobilly and horror punk. Not normally my thing, but I love their set. Anyone with that amount on energy that's able to play a double bass above their head is a winner for me. The crowd seem to think so as well – in the end the perfect warm up for Anti-Flag.

Staring down as the backdrop to the stage is the banner of Trump and the cover of the recently released new Anti-Flag album. It's pretty well documented the band have never called out specific politicians in the past, despite their fabulous political, economic and social commentary they've never wanted to define their music in that way. But now they've made an exception. Identifying Trump as such a odious individual and dangerous threat to both the US and the rest of the world that his image forms the artwork on the new album and he's sampled on its opening track. And with the gig falling on the same day as his State of the Union address and his impeachment trial on the verge of collapse, it suddenly seems so much more important and appropriate for Anti-Flag to take this new approach.

And so, we're now ready. Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones kicks in and the crowd know the band are about to take the stage. They enter one at at time, all of them dressed as usual in black. All looking so cool.

Whenever a band tour on the back of a new record, I'm always slightly nervous that the new stuff will take too much prominence when really everyone is there to hear them play the classics. But, I've got no such fears following the release of 20/20 Vision a couple of weeks earlier. It's a brilliant album that's been on constant rotation. If they played it from start to finish I wouldn't be unhappy. So perhaps the band know this, as they kick off their set with Christian Nationalist and the crowd love it. It's the latest socio-politically charged anthem and another defining Anti-Flag song. It's only been out a couple of weeks, but the crowd already know it inside as they scream "you're no better than the rest, white neo-christian nationalist!".

What follows is a blistering set. They've released so many albums it must be hard to decide on what to include and what to leave out, but we get loads of classics including The Press Corpse, Turncoat, Trouble Follows Me, 1 Trillion Dollar$ and Fuck Police Brutality as well as the new ones Hate Conquers All and 20/20 Vision.

Justin and Chris#2 swap lead vocal duties throughout and, as you'd expect, the band frequently deliver their politically inspired messages in between songs raging against hatred, bigotry, corporate greed and police brutality. At various points we're asked to raise our middle fingers in the air, shake hands with strangers next to us and create a circle pit in what is actually a relatively small venue.

The whole set and performance is obviously well rehearsed. Chris#2 is up on, and then leaping off, speakers before throwing the microphone stand complete with loudhailer still attached over his shoulder without looking, safe in the knowledge he's done it so many times someone will be behind him to catch it.

With the band off stage, the crowd start calling for the encore, not with the traditional "more, more, more" but with a chant of "you've gotta die, gotta die, gotta die, for your government, die for your government, that's shit!" whilst stamping on the floor and banging the bar to the beat of one of the band's classics.

As expected, they reappear and dutifully give us what we want, blasting out four more songs complete with a mini stage invasion with The Homeless Gospel Choir (why weren't they publicised as playing beforehand?) and the familiar finish of Pat's drum kit being dragged into the audience before Chris#2 also ends up on the floor with us.

The end of the night is signalled by the band urging us and the world to generally fight for all that is good before Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You blasts out over the PA and we step out into the cold night. Well worth a trip north of the river!

This gig review was written Chris Bishton.