Friday, 29 May 2020

Video Premiere: Dolphin Suicide by Laserchrist

Today we are incredibly excited to premiere the brand new video for South London via South Africa dirty melodic psych punks Laserchrist for their song Dolphin Suicide. The song, which was written before lockdown began is the bands first with new bass player and UK DIY punk legend Ollie "Jugs" Ward and Laserchrist's first new material since their 2018 debut DIY-Bother.

Dolpin Suicide was mixed by drummer Yusuf Laher and mastered by Rogan Kelsey (Lapdust Studios) in South Africa. The video was put together by frontman Daz's bored housemate Ryan Griffiths. Check the video out below.

Laserchrist also have their debut album in the works. Keep an eye on all their social media pages to stay up to date with when that's likely to be released and anything else they might have going on at the moment.
Laserchrist on YouTube

CPRW Playlist: May 2020

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

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Album Review: Hello MY NAME IS by ALLDEEPENDS

Ever since catching one of ALLDEEPENDS’ first sets at Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee at the end of 2019 I’ve been excitedly awaiting them to release something. The three piece, who met at Conroy’s Basement in Dundee attending Make-That-A-Take shows, blew me away with their unique style of punk rock incorporating folk, punk and hardcore and I came away from BYAF telling everyone about this fantastic band I had discovered. Throughout the early part of 2020 the band began to release videos in support of their upcoming debut EP named Hello MY NAME IS on Make-That-A-Take Records. I couldn’t wait to review it. So much so that I let it jump to the front of my review list.

The EP fittingly begins with the first song that ALLDEEPENDS ever released – SOPHT (An Homage To Aesop’s Tuff). The track opens with a simple guitar riff that actually fills you with energy before the vocals come in. I was very pleased that the 7” arrived with a lyrics sheet as the band’s lead vocalist sings extremely quickly and the song is very wordy. I loved this though as it adds something so different a lot of modern punk rock music. I was so impressed with how he managed to keep this tempo up throughout the song – I can barely keep up when I’m reading the lyrics. The song is about how stupid it is to put on a front that you’re always some kind of tough guy and pushing down your more emotional needs. What an introduction to ALLDEEPENDS! The second song is titled Is That Your Walking Distance Or Mine? This track is about struggling to live two different lives – the first as your true punk rock self and the second as the “normal” working type. There’s a marching-like melody to the track that makes you feel like it’s taking you somewhere which is, I guess, the point given the title of the song.

Side B of the 7” begins with the song I Paid For My College Education, I’m Going To Fucking Use It. After an amusing introduction with a sample of somebody saying they’re never going to pay back their student loan, the song jumps into a rowdy punk rock banger. The track is about using your university education and not being ashamed by that. I hope that you worked that out from the title though. Throughout the song, the band’s singer uses many scientific terms that I really don’t understand – even after googling them. I am super impressed with how he manages to use them all in a song and still make it sound like punk rock sing-along. Last up is You Can Never Have Too Many Black T-Shirts. This was the other track that the band released in the build up to the EP’s release. It felt very fitting during these times of no gigs due to COVID-19 and lockdown. It’s about the scene, the friendships you make and the feeling of going to watch live bands. The lyric “when I see you again, I’ll sing the words right back at your face” were particularly apt. Gigs mean so much to us all and hearing a song like this really helps to remember the good times we used to have and will have again.

I expected big things from Hello MY NAME IS and ALLDEEPENDS blew all of those expectations out of the water. For a first release, the band have set the bar extremely high but I can only see them getting better and better. I’m really hoping that, when we’re allowed to do fun things again, the band can find their way down to London so I can see them again. ALLDEEPENDS are the best new band of 2020.

Pre-order Hello MY NAME IS on Bandcamp here.

Like Make That A Take Records on Facebook here.
(ALLDEEPENDS do not have Facebook… yet.)

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Album Review: Dead Inside by CF98

CF98 are a Polish skate punk band who have really been making a name for themselves in recent years. So much so that this year they were given the opportunity to play Manchester Punk Festival. We all sadly know what happened there but I’m sure their mere inclusion on the line up made a few more people check them out. I was one of those people and was so excited to see them live. The festival would have been a great place to garner some attention for their (at the time) upcoming new EP, Dead Inside. After getting an early listen, I was even more disappointed not to see them in Manchester but I was excited to review the EP.

After an introduction, which I assume features samples of songs from their previous releases, we start properly with the EP’s title track Dead Inside. The song takes a little time to build and the thing that really caught my attention was the strength of lead singer Karolina’s vocals. They sound incredible on this release. If this is your first time listening to CF98, this is the perfect choice as a opening track. The poppier side of the song will ease people into the song but the track has enough edge to please the hardcore punk rockers. I enjoyed the subtle oooohs and aaahs during the song, perhaps playing a little tribute to the legendary Bad Religion? Up next is Shine On. This is actually a sub-one minute song which really surprised me. CF98 do a fantastic job of fitting a lot in to such a short track. I was genuinely surprised when I looked at the track times and realised its length. The band play at breakneck pace as Karolina sings a song about a person’s journey and how they got to where they are. The fourth song, Pink, immediately grabs your attention with the lyrics “pink is just for girls”. Hopefully anyone reading this will know that it’s not. That’s what the song is all about, not conforming to gender stereotypes and feeling trapped by them. It’s mad that it’s 2020 and there are still so many gender stereotypes, I hope that bands like CF98 can go a long way in smashing through some walls.

Oh Boy was a stand out track. I really enjoyed how the track jumps between different melodies. It not only keeps the energy high and but it also keeps the song sounding interesting. Something CF98 do really well is build towards big choruses. They build in such a way that by the time it hits you can’t wait to sing the song straight back at the band. Oh Boy is a political song that questions leaders’ need to divide their people rather than everyone working together. The penultimate track is titled Gasoline. This felt like one of the more emotional tracks on Dead Inside. On it Karolina sings about going through a particularly bad break up, feeling incredibly angry and eventually wanting to return to a safe space. This is a track that I’m sure plenty of people listening will be able to relate to in a big way. Never Quit ensures that Dead Inside finishes in a positive manner. The song talks about struggling with mental health and keeping on fighting no matter how bad things get. The lyric “you never lose if you never quit” is particularly inspiring and one I wish I had heard when I was at my lowest moments. The band add an urgency to the song that makes the song feel even more important than it already is. It makes you think “I really need to listen and pay attention to this song” which is even more important given its topic.

CF98 are one of the leading skate punk bands from mainland Europe. In the unlikely event that you haven’t checked them out yet, I suggest now is the time to start!

Stream and download Dead Inside on Bandcamp here.

Like CF98 on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Album Review: The Wrath Of Throf by Snuff

When you think of legendary UK punk rock bands that are still active today, none come bigger than Snuff. The long running band, lead by the one and only Duncan Redmonds, have been going for as long as I have been alive and they have built up passionate fan bases from many different generations. Whenever the band releases some new material it’s always the cause of much excitement throughout the UK punk scene, as well as many places further afield. Recently they released The Wrath Of Throf on their own 10past12records. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to check it out a little early.

The EP begins with Drink Freely From The Chalice Of Lunacy. Snuff have had many line up changes over the years but have always managed to maintain their own sound. A large part of this is down to Duncan’s unmistakable vocals. They are full of melody and heart but also have a working class feel to them that makes you think of a mate down the pub telling stories. This song is on the more serious side of Snuff, a mid-tempo punk rock song that has a great breakdown which builds brilliantly to a big ending. Nothing To See Here starts with a beeping that flat lines before the band launch into a faster song that will get a crowd nice and rowdy. Duncan’s vocals go along at an impressive pace that really helps to inject a lot of energy into the track. On my first listen, I figured this was a straightforward punk song but when you really listen there so many little layers and intricacies that I really enjoyed. The third track is titled Conductor 71. Something I’ve always enjoyed about Snuff is how brilliantly they use harmonies in their music. That really comes to the forefront for the first time on Conductor 71. This somehow gives the song some extra intensity as the band storm through the song at an impressive speed.

Poetic Nonsense kicks off the second half of The Wrath Of Throf. Starting out with some keys, the song sounds like it’s going to be one of the more chaotic tracks on the EP. It doesn’t however turn out to be that way. It’s an urgent song with the sprinkling of keys adding a playful side. I really enjoyed how the song builds throughout, keeping you invested and making you think there’s going to be quite some ending to this song. Of course there is, as Duncan bluntly shouts the final lyrics in the big finale. The penultimate song might be my favourite on the EP. Named The Bells Of Hell, it sees Snuff taking steps into the ska world to introduce us to the song. This is Snuff at their silly best and I couldn’t help but smile like an idiot and do a little jig when I first heard the song. It’s immediately catchy, so much so it will be the only thing you sing to yourself for the next week after listening to it. The inclusion of the trombone for the first time on the EP was very welcome and adds to the drunken barroom style sing-along that you will no doubt have to the song. The final song, King Of The Wild, presents another barroom sing-along moment. It’s a slower song that heavily features the keyboard and the trombone. I think Snuff are really at their best when they step away from a more conventional punk sound. The song’s highlight is the big gang vocal harmony section at the end of the song. This moment, when they’re finally allowed to play live again, will be a huge crowd pleaser and will no doubt gain such a great amount of crowd participation.

The Wrath Of Throf is another wonderful release from Snuff. To be so prolific after thirty years of being in the band is a testament to the song writing ability of Duncan Redmonds and the rest of Snuff. It’s such a shame that their tour supporting this release has been postponed until January. At least it gives you plenty of time to learn the songs before then.

Stream and download The Wrath Of Throf here.

Like Snuff on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Album Review: Terminal Amusements by Drakulas (by Chris Bishton)

Terminal Amusements is Drakulas’ second album and was released on Dine Alone Records last month. Described as an art-rock quartet from Austin, Texas, it's not a term given to a band that would normally prick my attention. I mean, I had to Google what art-rock is (a sub-genre of rock with an avant-garde approach, by the way, which was apparently at its peak in the late 60s and early 70s). However, touring with Spells just before COVID-19 hit and boasting members from the Riverboat Gamblers, The Marked Men and Rise Against is a CV that certainly does get me to sit up and take note.

So, first thing’s first. Art-rock… this is not an orgcore, gruff, pop punk record. Far from it. It's something quite different to what I would usually buy these days. If it was released in 1980, it would be straight up post-punk/new wave – there's a helluva lot synth all over the album. And there's quite a nod given to bands like The Damned and The Dickies – bands that have been around for a couple of generations. Perhaps this is also why they're described as art-rock, although even Dave Vanian and Leonard Graves Phillips et al. weren't knocking about in bands the late 60s?

The band says that the record draws on a fictional, late 70s New York City. Songs about porn, drug use, gangs and seedy clubs. A kinda reverse engineered dystopia. Yet, despite these references and comparisons to long established bands that started out in the 70s, Drakulas and this record are fresh. So much so that, now having listened to this record a lot, I think I get the art-rock thing. Drakulas are modernist, they are experimental and they're here with a record in 2020 that works so well.

The first track is Sin Will Fill You. Awkward guitar chords start before a manic two minutes that really does remind me of The Dickies. I immediately realise the record is going to be a bit different to what I'm used to (don't get me wrong, I do like The Dickies, but I rarely listen to them these days and I wouldn't buy anything new from them).

This is followed by Level Up, the single from the album released late last year. It's slower, perhaps poppier – it’s very catchy – and one of my favourites on the record. Dark Black ups the tempo again. Imagine a really sped up Joy Division. It's really cool.

The record continues like this throughout. The momentum does change from song to song, but it's all pretty fast. I don't think you'd get anything other than that with members from the Riverboat Gamblers and The Marked Men. The stand out tracks for me are Pretty Tommy, which is fast and Fashion Forward, a bit slower and more like The Damned.

All 12 songs are over in less than 30 minutes, as the record concludes with the title track Terminal Amusements, which starts with just a vocal and backing guitar before drums and the full band crash in after a minute or so to bring the album to a frantic finish.

People say trends in music always come back around, but I can't say I've noticed any kind of trend for art-rock recently. Instead, I'd say Drakulas are pretty crisp and contemporary, at least to the point where they stand out from so many others in the punk scene at the moment. They're not going to be everyone's taste, but I think they're pretty aware that's the case.

So perhaps that's it. Perhaps that's the answer. Perhaps you're going to go away and listen to Terminal Amusements and think "What's he on about? They're not even punk. Of course they're different ’cause they're not even in the scene."

If that's the case, then I'm fine with that because, as the saying goes, the definition of punk is liking whatever you like. And I really like this.

Stream and download Terminal Amusements on Bandcamp here.

Like Drakulas on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Band He's Discovered In Lockdown

Being in Lockdown has sucked. We can’t see our friends and families. We can’t go to gigs. We can’t do any of the things we love. It has provided us with plenty more free time to do other things though. I’ve enjoyed having more time to listen to our ever expanding record collection and I’ve started playing Football Manager again. I’ve also found the time to release a 155 track compilation raising money for Music Venue Trust that you should check out here. And I’ve also had loads of time to discover new bands. Here’s a top ten of bands that I’ve discovered so far.

I discovered Articles thanks to The Fest 19 playlist. The Gainesville Florida based trio play that typical Fest sound – raspy vocals, great melodies and catchy hooks. In March, Articles released a new two track single named Smoking Section / Pool Party that absolutely rips. FFO The Lawrence Arms, Ann Beretta, Smoke Or Fire.

Finnish punk rockers Custody were one of the highlights of the first Boatless Booze Cruise live stream festival for me. I think I was drawn to them as they played full band rather than acoustic like the majority of the acts. Melodic gruff punk of the highest order is what Custody do. Writing and performing songs that have you aching to throw your fists high and sing along. Check out their recently released second album on Brassneck Records now! FFO Leatherface, Hot Water Music, The Run Up.

Fail Sons
Washington D.C. punks Fail Sons were a recent Bandcamp discovery. It is still the best place to find new and exciting punk bands, especially if you can’t get to a gig. Focussing more on the fast paced pop punk side of things but never shying away from throwing in a guitar solo, Fail Sons are one of the most exciting bands in the genre I’ve discovered in some time. FFO Pinhead Gunpowder, Teenage Bottlerocket, Zatopeks.

Fine And Great
This wasn’t so much a discovery but I was told about them during the lockdown so I think they still count. Fine And Great consist of Manu of Captain Asshole (the person who told me about them), Tooney from Call It A Wasteland and Hannes from Kick Back. Fine And Great play emo pop punk and feature fantastic dual vocals from Manu and Tooney. This band are so new that they’re yet to play their first show, other than a live stream at Boatless Booze Cruise last weekend.

Grey Matter
Bad Time Records have earned a reputation for releasing quality ska punk music. When new UK distro Pookout Records got some new stock from Bad Time Records in, I took a punt on Grey Matter and was not disappointed. The Michigan based band take everything you think you know about ska punk and add so many other influences. In a genre that sometimes gets tarred as “all songs sound the same”, it’s great to see a band that proves that that’s really not the case. FFO experimental ska punk.

Kids On Fire
Much like Bad Time Records, Seattle’s Tiny Dragon Music have a reputation for only releasing quality punk rock. During the lockdown, the label had a big sale so I bought Chosen Family by Burn Burn Burn from them. I also decided to take a chance on an album named Songs In The Key Of Bummer by a band I hadn’t heard of called Kids On Fire. This turned out to be a fantastic decision as Kids On Fire are awesome. They play fast paced indie punk rock with fantastic vocals and plenty of opportunity for singing along and having a lot of fun. FFO The Loved Ones, Forever Unclean, The Drowns.

New Yorkers Postage are another band that I discovered because they are playing The Fest. Featuring Mike Moak from After The Fall, you might expect this quartet to be more of a hardcore sound. That, however, is not the case. Playing a mid-tempo pop punk with an edge, on my very first listen I knew this was a band for me. I don’t know how often they get out and play shows due to Mike’s After The Fall commitments so I’m going to make sure I take the opportunity to see them at Fest. FFO ALL, The Mr T Experience, Night Surf.

Stuck Out Here
Stuck Out Here are a four piece band from Canada. In their own words, Stuck Out Here play “party angst anthems” which I think is a perfectly accurate description. Like Postage, this is mid-tempo pop punk that will get you singing along with all the passion. Their 2019 release, Until We’re Each Someone Else, is packed with great moments and I implore you to check it out. FFO The Menzingers, Signals Midwest, The Penske File.

Swayze are another band from Canada, a country that produces a crazy amount of brilliant punk rock music. One of the biggest kept secrets on this list, I was very surprised to see that they don’t have much of an online following. Their latest EP, St Angry (which you can expect to see a full review for on CPRW in the near future), is packed with high tempo punk rock with big gang vocals and fantastic harmonies. This is a band who seem to write songs with my tastes in mind. FFO Lagwagon, Captain Asshole, MakeWar.

Wiretap Records have become one of my favourite record labels over the past few years. They release so many great records from bands of a variety of different punk genres. In Virginity they have another brilliant band on their hands. The three piece from Daytona Beach, Florida, are just about to release their new EP Death To The Party on June 5th and looks set to explode among fans of emo/pop punk music. FFO Expert Timing, Dikembe, Modern Baseball.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Album Review: 5 Years Behind by THICK (by Emma Prew)

The COVID-19 lockdown has me listening to and needing new music now more than ever. I can’t remember exactly when I came across Brooklyn, New York, trio THICK but I think it was via the ‘fans also like’ section of Spotify. I put their album, 5 Years Behind, on my current listening playlist (New For Prew) and proceeded to listen to various songs from it at random along with a load of other new tunes. Before long I was hooked on their passionately aggressive yet catchy songs and had started to listen to the album – as it should be listened to – front to back. It was only when I ordered the vinyl (from Specialist Subject Records), and looked at the back of the sleeve when it had arrived, that I discovered 5 Years Behind is in fact released by the iconic Epitaph Records.

THICK are Nikki Sisti (vocals and guitar), Kate Black (vocals and bass) and Shari Page (vocals and drums). 5 Years Behind was released on the 6th of March and, if you aren’t already familiar with it, this is why I think you should check it out!

The album begins with its title track, 5 Years Behind. Kicking off with a drum roll, a fuzzy bass line and an indie punk meet garage rock style guitar riff, the song certainly feels like an opening track or introduction to both the album and the band. The verses are sung at a fast pace while the chorus is slower and feels almost dreamlike as THICK sing about feeling overwhelmed by all that life throws at them. The outro, which sees the band repeating the line ‘I keep on trying’, will no doubt feel relatable to many listeners – myself included. The song slowly fades out into track number two, Sleeping Through The Weekend which continues with similar themes. This song has a more upbeat tempo from the outset than the opening track with a catchy riff that brings to mind Camp Cope. For the most part, the vocals are soft and almost soothing which contrasts with the loud guitars and crashing drums. However, throughout the song it feels like tension levels are building and the band really let out all their frustration and venom by the bridge – ‘I don’t care about your new job, I don’t wanna hear about your paintings, Tired of sleeping through the weekend, I don’t wanna hear about your new friends.’

The third song on 5 Years Behind is Bumming Me Out. It’s probably clear from the title but the song is about how it can sometimes feel like everything you see or read is getting you down, wearing you down and/or freaking you out. In the weird times we’re currently living in, this song hits home even more. The song itself doesn’t get me down – or bum me out – however, instead it feels encouraging and powerful. A particular line that stood out to me at the end of the song was ‘Anxiety gets the best of me but it won’t break me down.’. We’ve had some louder moments on 5 Years Behind thus far but the fourth song takes things up another notch with the ferociously fast paced, Fake News. No prizes for guessing what this song is about! Much of the song is made up of shouts of ‘Fake news!’ but there are also two verses which feature some brilliant exchanging of lines between Nikki, Kate and Shari. What’s better than one kickass vocalist? Three kickass vocalists. Home opens with a distortion heavy guitar riff and firm bass line before the drums come in along with a second guitar part. When the vocals come in they are of the softer variety again, as THICK sing of how it can often feel like those you love the most – your family and perhaps life-long or childhood friends – can be the most narrow-minded. Sometimes you forget that not everyone is as accepting or welcoming as those within certain circles – the DIY punk scene, for example. ‘Feelings like anger and love share no gender they all feel the same.’

If I was to pick a standout track from this album or at least a song to play to someone who had never heard THICK before, I would choose track number seven. Mansplain opens with a variety of sound snippets featuring men making statements such as ‘girl bands are really in right now’, ‘are those your boyfriend’s drums?’, ‘are you girls on the list?’, ‘do you think they’d be this successful if they were men?’ and ‘they sound great for women’. Doesn’t that just make your blood boil? It’s hard enough being a woman in day-to-day life sometimes, I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it is in the music world. Sadly, women and non-men are treated like shit on a daily basis and we need bands like THICK and songs like Mansplain to put these men in their place. (I know not all men are like this but plenty are.) Mansplain also happens to be a fierce feminist anthem that I can’t get enough of.

The second half of the album begins with WHUB which has lengthy instrumental introduction that serves as a suitable interlude between side A and side B of the record. We soon learn that WHUB stands for ‘where have you been?’, as THICK reminisce about meeting someone for the first time and wondering where they’ve been since then – ‘I’ve been thinking ’bout when we met, With your guitar strapped to your back, Where have you been?, Where have you been?’. There’s a lot of songs on this album that I imagine are great to yell along to at a live show and WHUB is no exception. I think a THICK show would be a very cathartic experience for both the audience and the band. Maybe one day, when all this is over, I’ll find out for myself. Up next is Won’t Back Down. THICK slow the pace down a little here for an empowering song about standing up for what you believe in. Despite not being as fast paced or so obviously assertive as some of the songs on 5 Years Behind, I think Won’t Back Down is a real highlight of the album. It shows that you don’t always have to be loud and aggressive to get your message across, even though that does sometimes helps. The song also features some piano which adds another dimension to the THICK sound that we don’t hear on any of the other tracks. THICK bring the tempo and volume back up somewhat for Can’t Be Friends. It’s a catchy number with the band’s pop sensibilities on show alongside their raw garage sound. It’s a contrast of styles that reminds me of London via California femme punks Charmpit and has me thinking that a tour with those two bands would be awesome – when touring is a thing that can happen safely again, of course. The song finishes with some excellent layered vocal harmonies before fading out with plenty of distortion.

If you liked Mansplain, then you’re bound to love the penultimate song of 5 Years Behind – Your Mom. It’s a short and snappy song that doesn’t waste a single second in getting its point across. Opening with stop-start guitars between the lines ‘Have a baby’ and ‘Have a career’, Your Mom is about the often unrealistic and unnecessary expectations that mothers – whether they are our own or not – can have for young women. Similar to Fake News, the verses are intense outbursts while the chorus is more melodic. I don’t think the song would work half as well if it was just one or the other and I love that THICK can pull of both styles with ease. Finishing off the album in style is Party With Me. Although the song begins in a somewhat subdued tone with stripped back guitar and gentle vocals, you can guarantee that a song with ‘party’ in the title isn’t going to stay that way. And it certainly doesn’t. Party With Me is about wanting to let loose and have fun without worrying about all of the aforementioned things that this album has covered thus far. Obviously the repeated lines of ‘Take your clothes off and party with me’ are insanely catchy but I think the following lines hammer the sentiment home all the more – ‘We’ll have a drink and take a walk, And then we’ll go back and we’ll talk, About the bullshit that we wish we knew, But in the end we never do.’

5 Years Behind has gone from being an album that I accidentally stumbled across when simply looking for something new to listen to, to absolute essential listening and an album that is certainly one of the very best I’ve heard this year. So, what are you waiting for? Stick it on and turn it up loud!

You can stream and download 5 Years Behind on Bandcamp here and like THICK on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Album Review: Chicken Sounds by Beat The Smart Kids

We last featured Chicago based ska punks Beat The Smart Kids early in 2019, reviewing their 2018 EP Set Sail. Apparently they are one of the most prolific ska punk bands in the States as they're already back with a brand new five track EP named Chicken Sounds. As soon as I found out it was released, I had to review it.

First up is Quicksand. After five seconds of quiet chicken sounds, the song gets started with some big horns beginning things in a big fashion. When the vocals come in, we are treated to that standard ska guitar upstroke sound we all know so well. I loved the vocals on the verse, the main singer reminds me of Dave Kirchgessner of Mustard Plug and he's accompanied by a harmonised sound that you would expect from a hardcore singer. The chorus, as you might expect, is big and will have you singing along in no time at all – between all the skanking you'll be doing throughout the verse. Politicians is, you guessed it, a political song. In particular the band sing about how the politicians are really only out for themselves and not thinking about helping the people who voted them in. The song goes along at a nice high tempo for the most part which turns into a building segment for a huge horn part before the song sounds as if it gets even quicker. Obviously I loved that. This high tempo gives the song plenty of urgency and actually helps put the band’s feelings on the subject across. The production on the song is great, with the guitars and horns seeming a bit muted and the drums really driving the song forward whilst allowing the vocals to sound really clear.

Battleskars is an instrumental track that lets Beat The Smart Kids show off their own take on a more traditional ska style. The horns really take centre stage here and I can see this song being a crowd pleaser at one of their shows. The penultimate song is Cheers To The Underground. This goes back to the band’s own sound and features an exciting horn intro to get you going after the laid back style of the previous song. The track is a love letter to the underground scene and how much better being at a DIY punk show makes you feel. This song hit me pretty hard when I first listened to it as here in the UK we are six weeks deep into lockdown and I'm really starting to miss going to shows in our favourite local scene. It's a fun and positive song that makes me happy. Chicken Sounds is finished by Who Am I To Judge?. The song seems to mix a good blend of ska sounds, from traditional to third wave to a more skacore style, it has it all. The highlight for me were the dual vocals on the verse with both singers trading lines brilliantly. Each member of the band gets to show off their own considerable skill at their instrument as well throughout the song. The album is then bookended with some more chicken sounds. Perhaps just making the EP’s title make a little bit of sense.

Beat The Smart Kids are one of my favourite ska bands from the USA and Chicken Sounds might be my favourite thing they've released so far. Hopefully they can get a following in the UK and will be able to come tour here at some point. Check them out!

Stream and download Chicken Sounds on Bandcamp here.

Like Beat The Smart Kids on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Album Review: II by Custody (by Chris Bishton)

Think of Finland and the chances are the first thing you think of isn't likely to be soaringly happy, melodic punk rock. Lapland and the Northern Lights, perhaps. Liverpool football supporters of a certain age might point to Jari Litmanen or Sami Hyypiä. But not punk, right? Step forward Custody – the melodic five-piece who've just released their second album titled II – making them easily the greatest Finns I know (sorry Liverpool fans).

They've been compared to a number of 90s bands that have a special place in my heart. Most notably Samiam and early The Get Up Kids, which I certainly see, and Leatherface, which I get less so (but there are so very few bands that could get close to Leatherface though, right?). Either way, what is certain for me is whilst I get the connection, they're by no means a weak imitation of any of these bands.

The first track on II is Silent Mutiny. It's not especially fast but it is a powerful song. A heavy drum beat and vocals build the song as they're joined by guitars and a great chorus and then an instrumental. I immediately catch myself tapping out the rhythm before I've even heard the whole song in its entirety, such is the powerful drum beat. I really love it.

Altered States then follows. This was the single that the band released online before the album. It's a real sing-a-long track with clear, distinct vocals, before She Said. This third track is one of my favourites. Fast, but not frantic, it builds then slows, twists and turns. Its chorus aching to be shouted in unison at a packed yet intimate gig.

Other stand out tracks for me are Get Rid Of It, Another Hundred Miles and Fall for Nothing – all with fabulous melodies and hulking guitars.

The album concludes with When I Keep You Close, a slower, more considered track and a comedown from the rest of the album. It's a nice way to finish, but it also gets me reaching to spin it again.

When I first heard Custody's debut album a few years ago, I made that mental note to try and catch them live if I got the chance. With this new album, the band have taken it up a gear to the extent that I now have them marked as essential to see live.

Like everyone else, their plans for touring this year have had to be ripped up. They were due in the UK before playing Booze Cruise in Hamburg where I was planning to catch them. Of course they'll be back and they've already said they'll be in Hamburg at Booze Cruise 2021. I've no doubt I'll know this album inside out by the time we get there.

Stream and download II on Bandcamp here.

Like Custody on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Top Tens: Sam Russo's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

1. The first ten seconds of Ignition by The Offspring.

The first punk music I remember hearing and really relating to. I remember having my tape player and putting in this really uninspiring looking tape I’d borrowed from a friend. It just looked like shit. I assumed it was metal because it reminded me of Load by Metallicca which had just come out but I remember taking it and thinking ‘The Offspring. That sounds way cooler than Metallica.’ and oh man was I right. I sat down on the school bus, put my knees up and stared out the window like always, then I pressed play. Hearing Dexter screaming ‘FUCK’ over and over and then the drums kicking in with that beat. I remember thinking I was going to die I was so happy. I felt like I’d stepped into a suit of armour that had been forged to fit me perfectly. I laughed, my palms got sweaty, I was headbanging and I wanted to run into school and flip over the tables and dance around singing, I was just fizzing with energy. I felt like I’d found my soundtrack. I used to just rewind that bit over and over! That was when I realised eeeeveryone setting all these rules about what you can and can’t do in music and in life was completely full of shit. Not everything had to be nice, or macho or good looking, you don’t have to do or like what everyone else does, and there’s a place for everyone – even the misfits. No more sitting at the side of the disco wondering what’s wrong with me because I don’t want to dance to Backstreet Boys like everyone else – there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m different and that’s OK!

2. Skateboarding.

When I was a really little kid I discovered skateboarding and it totally changed my outlook on life. Paired with punk, it basically got me through school and my adolescence. Think about it like this: when you skateboard you try to do something with your body and a piece of wood on wheels over and over, sometimes hundreds of times, before you do it the way you want to. You fail constantly and you hurt yourself repeatedly. You look ridiculous and you push yourself to your absolute limit of what you can do physically and what you can tolerate mentally, and you do it alone in a car park at night for no reason whatsoever besides the fact that you want to because it’s fun. There’s no team behind you, no coach or ref or spectators, it’s just you and the brutality of concrete. There’s no judge besides you and nobody cares about what you’re doing. It’s rebellious, it’s liberating and it’s fun. I was not doing this somewhere where skateboarding was a thing – it was me and one other guy that I knew of using these terrible toy boards in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. People thought we were complete idiots. The reason it inspired me as a person and helped me understand my own idea of what’s punk is because it was the opposite of school. School is where you have to go every single day in a uniform looking like everybody else to perform within this insanely tight, narrow framework of behaviour and attainment, where every single thing you do is ranked and graded and recorded and where you’re incentivised to do what you’re told purely by fear of punishment and failure – skating for me was a perfect counterbalance to this imposed developmental framework that’s policed and enforced by cowardly, brutal, often pretty ignorant adults (with a few exceptions!). You fail to play by the rules at school and you will have to do something horribly wasteful with your time and your precious youth – you’ll have to suffer meaninglessly punitive punishments like sitting silently in detention with the other ‘bad kids’ or writing the same thing in lines hundreds of times and watching the teacher tear it up when you’re done. This teaches you nothing. You get put in isolation away from your peers for being angry and saying the wrong thing – you stay angry until you’re so angry you have no choice but to internalise it, then you’re just exhausted and you feel ashamed, confused and lonely. Then they let you go home to do your homework. Nothing is achieved. Skateboarding helped me see why that doesn’t work, and why it’s fucked. Skateboarding makes everything a canvas. If you’re riding along on a skateboard, you’re leaving everything behind you and you’re creating art out of movement. You’re in the moment. It taught me to embrace and celebrate failure and to find the humour in fucking up. It showed me a world within a work and introduced me to incredible artists, photographers, bands and musicians, language, clothes, places and people. Skateboarding introduced me to hip hop, rap, funk, all kinds of music I’d never heard before and it showed me places I’d never seen. The streets of southern California will always go through a fisheye lens before they reach my brain because I was obsessed with skate videos. I’d decided what I thought punk was by this point and getting into skating stopped me being narrow minded about it. Public Enemy was punk to me, skaters like Louie Barletta busting out crazy angular tricks in cardigans and argyle was just as punk to me as Corey Duffel and Dustin Dollin in their leather jackets. Tony Hawk was punk because he was goofy looking and shy, Chris Roberts was punk because he didn’t party, Rodney Mullen was punk because he was a nerd, Chad Muska was punk because everyone hated him! Skating gave me a physical outlet and a mental and spiritual vehicle to discover elements of culture that I had no access to otherwise. It always did and always does make me excited and happy. Even when I eat complete shit.

3. Julian Giles Harding.

When I was 15 I auditioned on bass for a band called Cry For Vengeance. I knew the guitarist, my friend Billy, but none of the other band members. Billy took me to rehearsal having vouched for me saying I was a good bass player and I was into punk and the singer had agreed to meet me and give me a shot. We got to the youth centre where they practiced and I this guy Julian was already there. He was pacing around rubbing the back of his neck, looking tall, mean and scary as fuck. He had spiky red hair and was wearing a white school shirt covered in what I assumed was blood. He also wore huge black boots and skin-tight black jeans full of holes everywhere but the knees. I said ‘Hi, I’m Sam’ from across the room and he literally looked up from his pacing, sneered at me and waved a hand in my direction like he was shaking salt on chips. I loaded in my gear and plugged in while a few kids heckled me through the glass doors that lead through to the youth centre proper – one of them called me queer and another one offered to fuck my dad for me which I found pretty confusing so I just smiled and nodded, but I heard this Julian guy behind me say in a really soft voice ‘ignore them, they only want a fight’. I looked up from my bass and he was standing in the middle of the room just staring at them and grinning like something out of a Clockwork Orange. They trickled away and he shifted his stare over to me. I thought for sure he was insane and immediately wished I wasn’t wearing my X-Files t-shirt and camo shorts. He had a gold microphone that looked like it belonged on a kids karaoke machine in one hand and a wrinkled piece of yellow notebook paper in the other. I could see the handwriting all slanting and angry with no crossing out, corrections or scribbles. Just line after line of visceral, articulate, precise, honest lyrics. He asked me if I’d learnt the songs and I said Billy had showed me them. Billy had set up his amp and stood silently in the corner the whole time. When Julian started speaking, he put a rubber strap on his glasses and got into a position I’d never seen him stand in before. In our other band he always stood hunched and floppy and stared at his fretboard grinning. Now he stood like he was about to run at me and headbutt me in the dick. The whole room was humming with electricity and anticipation and it all hung on this Julian guys’ next word. He lifted the rusty yellow mike to his mouth and screamed ‘THIS FUCKING SONG IS CALLED SONG FOR THE SCABS, FUCKING 1, 2, 3, 4!’ and we just ripped into it. He introduced it like there was 500 people watching and sang it like it we were headlining Woodstock. The song was this muscular, rolling, spastic blast of mangled rock ’n’ roll scales and screaming and I played it so fast I nearly broke my fingers. It was the first original punk song I’d ever played and I felt like I was on fire from start to finish. At the end, this Julian guy walked over to me sweating and grinning with these huge crazy eyes and red hair dye all over his face and calmly said ‘Yes.’ Then he looked at Billy and shouted ‘Next. 1, 2, 3, 4!’ and Billy started playing the intro to the next song. After every song he just got warmer and warmer and more and more talkative and excited and we started discussing music and films and school and books and by the end of the practice I’d joined my first proper band and become friends with someone who I wouldn’t go a day of my life without talking to for the best part of 20 years. Jules is the most creative guy I know and since that band exploded and imploded like a mad barrel of acid, he’s always been one of the biggest musical and personal influences in my life. He’s had such an eclectic artistic life it’s mind boggling – he made an incredible acoustic album, reams of wild, ahead of it’s time electronic music, he had a sick heavy rock band called BRO, he’s made videos and animations and short films, he’s just a creative monster and a true freak of nature. He showed me really early in my musical life how to be myself and say ‘fuck you’ to anyone who gave me shit. I was playing while climbing all over filing cabinets and jumping onto chairs, playing laying on my back and he would just get pumped up by whatever weird shit I did. It’s been like that ever since he’s always been there for me. He produced Storm and Back To The Party and I can honestly say I would’ve given up long ago if it weren’t for him. Not just on music, but probably on myself in a lot of ways too. He’s the funniest person I’ve ever known and the most original free thinker I’ve ever met. I’ll tell you about the time he took a keyboard to the face for me another time…

4. Pennywise – Live At The Key Club.

My favourite live album ever, one of my all time favourite punk records and relevant here because it really gets your imagination going. This album is as close to going to a punk show as you can get by just listening to a record and there’s just something about how raw it is that transports me to the show. The energy is insane, I love how fast the songs are, the crowd is going completely turnips and every time I listen to it I get lost in it and feel like I’m actually there. Cramps live at Napa and Johnny Cash prison records do something similar for me. There’s something really edgy and charged about the set. I will always go to that record when I’m pissed off or depressed. A real leaky old battery up the ass.

5. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

They’re pizza loving mutants who spend most of their lives underground and fight tyrants in big machines – they’re the ultimate punks! I have always loved the Turtles and I think the duality of their fun-loving nature mixed with their shady, violent outsider lifestyle and freak status has always resonated with me on a way deeper level than a comic book or cartoon really should! I constantly agonise over who’s my favourite, I mean it’s obviously Donatello, but I’ve come to realise that we are all all of the Ninja Turtles. The best of us just have more Donnie than the rest. Also, Splinter is my hero. Foot sucks, Cowabunga.

6. Music videos. 

I’ve always loved ’em. Just a portal into another world. The ones that had the biggest influence on me are When I Get Old – The Descendents, Down – Blink 182, Heroin Girl – Everclear, Same Old Story – Pennywise, Da Hui – The Offspring, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up – Tom Waits and Back To School – Deftones. Just watch ’em. Everything I love about music is in those videos.

7. Stephen King.

I love Stephen King and his books constantly inspire me and help me relax and escape real life. I love a lot of literature and poetry, but nothing sucks me in like a King classic. My Mum got me into Stephen King and I will always thank her for that. She was reading IT when we were at Center Parcs when I was little and I was just making some cereal minding my own business thinking about how much fun we were going to have going swimming and shit when I saw her shout ‘OH FUCK!’, throw the book across the room and hide her face under her sweater. She’d been up all night reading it and smoking cigarettes and it scared her so bad she couldn’t even bear to hold the book anymore! I had to have me a slice of THAT. I got INVOLVED and I never stopped! He just writes good shit. Sometimes trashy, sometimes dumb, but always fun. Pet Sematary in particular is a fave. I have a big old Pet Sematary tattoo. I love Stephen King’s life story too. Writing Carrie while supporting a family by working nights in the hospital laundry and writing all day in your trailer home, then his wife finding the manuscript in the bin and persuading him to send it out to publishers? Amazing story.

8. The Lawrence Arms.

My favourite band. Most adults find it hard to pick a favourite band, I don’t. The Lawrence Arms are punk personified to me. Firstly, they’re the most intelligent, self-aware, funny, articulate and poetic lyricists ever. B.) They have consistently gotten better with every single body of music they’ve ever released. 4.) They sound like no other band – you can hear influences like any other band, but those influences are like riddles. You’ll be listening to a new Larry Arms song and second to second you’re hearing these accents, these little references. In one song you can just get all your bells rung at once ’til you have no idea what’s going on – you’ll think you’re hearing a little No Means No for a second, then maybe you think you hear a quote from Joe Dirt, but it could be Gabriel Marquez, then you vibe on some obscure 90’s hip-hop and a little tip of the hat to Poison and then you’re in the middle of a boozey, life affirming midwestern singalong and before you know it, it’s all over and you’re fucked. I got into the Lawrence Arms when Ghost Story came out and I’ve just been obsessed ever since. No band comes close. They’re the ultimate trio. They’re the musical equivalent of the perfect Bloody Mary, the best handjob you ever received and the feeling you get after you puke, all rolled into one. Brendan will HATE that analogy. Mostly because of his strong beliefs regarding handjobs. I could talk about this band all night but I’ll wrap up by saying that they are the best humans I know who play music. They’ve been so kind and generous to me over the years and who the fuck am I? I asked Chris for some advice about songwriting once and he put his arm around me and said ‘I’m gonna be honest with you, Sam. Nothing fucking matters.’ Now THAT’S a pal. Lawrence Arms. You’re either in, or you’re fucked.

9. Going to California.

A special place for me. The history of CA, the culture, the art, the films, the music, food, politics, lifestyle, geography; everything about California interests me and influences my life and my music. I love the sun and sand meeting concrete, graffiti and grime. Dessert, ocean, city, suburbia. I’ll keep this short because I’m literally obsessed, but I’ve never loved a place more in my life. Some of my best memories are of times I’ve spent in LA and all over California. I grew up with a pretty idealised and romantic view of life in California from books and movies and music but that didn’t in any way change how inspiring I find it. When I was a kid I did that thing where you write yourself a letter about the person you want to be – basically all I wrote was ‘Get to California’. Whether I’m getting California Donuts or Cactus with my lady or sleeping alone in a Super 8 in Santa Cruz, whether I’m playing a show at the Troubadour or hiking in the Hollywood Hills, going to a pool party with new friends, cruising overnight down the coast or swimming in San Diego – I’m just so happy and so excited to be alive. California keeps a little piece of me every time I’m lucky enough to visit and the thought of going back keeps me positive when I’m down. Just think of all the incredible punk music out of California and I guarantee you’re forgetting half. We made a classic California Punk playlist in the van on tour with Elway last year and it was something like 3 hours long. That’s a lot of 2-minute songs.

10. Red Scare.

Best punk label of all time, sir. Because of Red Scare I’ve played all over the world with all of my favourite bands and I’ve been able to make whatever music I want, release it and have people actually hear it. Nobody gets to do that these days, it’s amazing. Tobias Jeg saved my ass, let me tell you. I’ve been to Enumclaw, fuckers.

Stream and download Sam Russo’s latest album, Back To The Party, on Bandcamp here.

Like Sam Russo on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Album Review: Back To The Party by Sam Russo

It's been five years since acoustic punk troubadour Sam Russo released a brand new album. After touring 2015's Greyhound Dreams hard for a couple of years, Russo seemed to step away from performing live as much to crack on with new album Back To The Party. Released by Red Scare Industries, Back To The Party feels like such an apt title for the album.

Opening with Purple Snow, hearing Russo's unmistakable vocal is like slipping on your favourite football boots. There's a comfort there that is built up over time and when you get to that level it will stick around forever, even if you don't wear them for a while. A better analogy is it's like being reunited with an old friend and things picking up from exactly where you left them long ago. You know what you're going to get from a Russo album but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check out Back To The Party.

While Russo predominantly plays acoustic guitar on the album, there are subtle additions and effects sprinkled throughout Back To The Party. To my knowledge, this is the most experimental Russo has gotten on any of his releases so far and it's a pleasure to hear. Some of the electric guitar effects add a fantastic amount of atmosphere to the album. Whenever I've seen Russo live, I've always been so impressed with how he manages to use his guitar as a percussion instrument as well as it's intended use. This helps to give his songs a great deal of extra energy. This translate well to Back To The Party, particularly on The Window, Young Heroes and Anne. Anne is a song that starts quite quietly but builds delightfully.

Russo writes some fantastic storytelling songs. The way that he uses his voice ensures he really takes you along for a journey. When he sings in a quiet and low register he has this ability to really captivate the listener and, when he lets go of the shackles and begins to belt his lyrics out, you can't help but want to sing along. Russo doesn't step away from his traditional stories of friendship and loss. On the surface, Back To The Party feels like quite a sad album but it does also offer a sense of hope. One of my big highlights on the album is The Basement. It's a song about remembering good times from a moment in your life after you have drifted away from it. This happens to be the album’s closing song and it feels like the best way to finish the album with a rousing chorus.

I've read a few reviews and comments saying that Back To The Party is Russo's best album yet and I am inclined to agree with them. It shows a slightly different step in musical direction but also remains completely Sam Russo. I assumed that the title of the album references Russo returning to the party but, after listening to the album a few times now, it could also be Sam welcoming us back to his party. Either way, I'm happy he's back. Hopefully the world will begin to fix itself soon so we can see these songs live as soon as possible.

Stream and download Back To The Party on Bandcamp here.

Like Sam Russo on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Album Review: Sain't Adorable by Hoi-Poi Farplane Wind

I first became aware of Greek punk rock band Hoi-Poi Farplane Wind when I saw that my friends in Forever Unclean were due to tour with them in the summer. Then they kindly got in touch about giving us a song to use on CPRW Records compilation supporting Music Venue Trust. After that Leo from The Overjoyed sent me a message asking me if I could review their new album Sain't Adorable which was released on their label Nasty Cut Records. So here I am, reviewing that album.

Sain't Adorable begins with Mal Ad Just. If you're unfamiliar with the band’s sound then this track is a great introduction. The band’s signature post-hardcore sound shines through on the track and gets the album heading in the right direction from the start. The track starts off with a rapid-fire drum roll accompanied by some guitar twangs before the song really gets going. Hoi-Poi combine two vocalists, a dreamier clean style along with a hardcore singer. That's probably not the best description but think Alexisonfire and you get the point. The song is about thinking about how you treat people and becoming a better person because of that. Busybody/Lazybones is a more conventional melodic hardcore track. The intensity is lowered, giving the song a more accessible feel if you're more interested in straight forward punk rock. There is such a sad and emotional tone to the track that it will really tug on your heart strings. The guitar solo at the beginning of Chief End really brings the energy back up and leads wonderfully into a high tempo opening verse. There are moments where the guitars get a little twiddly and slow things down, but this helps build up to the big dramatic moments littered throughout the song.

The fourth song, Life Wind, immediately stood out on my first listen through of the album. Opening with some great, powerful gang vocals which are accompanied by a subtle harmony. This was such a brilliant way to start the song. This technique continues through the opening two verses and had me itching to sing along. The middle section of the song is a dramatic instrumental which is then joined by a spoken word segment before building back up to the track’s big finale. This leads into Lude, which is an interlude for Sain't Adorable. This adds to the overall drama of the entire album and makes it essential that you listen to it as a whole rather than just select tracks. It leads into the song Whelming – another stand out song on the album that fits perfectly after Lude. Reverting back to a more straightforward style, the vocals are gruffer and more aggressive. This really helps you get invested in the track. It wasn't long before I found myself nodding my head along. It's about believing that you're invincible and that you shouldn't always try your best.

Rycorice is the seventh song on the album. Here's another song that gets off to an aggressive start. The song storms through its first half before we get to another longer instrumental moment. On previous tracks where Hoi-Poi have done this they've slowed things down. On Rycorice, they keep the tempo and energy up, creating an incredible ending to the song. It was built up into a ball of energy wanting to explode, ready and waiting for the penultimate song – Rest Embarrassed. The need to explode was soon granted as Hoi-Poi keep the aggression up for the opening of this track. They gradually bring things down to a calmer and more dream-like pace as the song progresses giving you a chance to catch your breath before another long and wonderful instrumental that leads you to the outro. I was not in the least bit surprised that Sain't Adorable is finished with a six and a half minute long song. This was the only way to finish this kind of journey. Titled For Now, Equanimity. So Long. this was actually my favourite song on the album. It's a moving piece of music that takes you on many highs and lows and keeps you captivated throughout. The song feels so deeply personal that I struggled not to get emotional whilst listening to it. The song is about getting cancer, struggling to deal with it and pushing people away. It's a sad way to finish the album but they also couldn't have picked a better song for it.

There's no getting around the fact that Sain't Adorable is a heavy listen. It will get you feeling all kinds of emotions throughout its duration. This is why I think it’s such an impressive body of work from Hoi-Poi. This is one of those albums that you need to listen to in full to really get the full picture but there are also a couple of tracks that really stand out and could work as stand alone songs.

Stream and download Sain't Adorable on Bandcamp here.

Like Hoi-Poi Farplane Wind on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Album Review: Better Late Than Never by The LarryFish Experiment

When a band names themselves The LarryFish Experiment you know two things. Firstly, they are definitely going to be and ska punk band and, secondly, it's probably going to be a bit silly. Back in March, the Bristol based three-piece released their debut album titled Better Late Than Never. It's taken me far too long to get around to reviewing it (worldwide pandemics can be distracting) but, when I did, I realised it was something I desperately needed during the current climate.

Better Late Than Never begins in a surprisingly dramatic fashion. It was only when the cries of "we have come here to do two things, skank some asses and chew bubblegum" that I was certain I'd clicked play on the right album. The album gets going properly on the second track – Sami's Afro. It's an upbeat ska punk song about a professional wrestler who has an afro. My knowledge of pro wrestling is pretty slim so the references are completely lost on me, but I still enjoyed the song. It's upbeat, silly and it made me want to have a dance despite not really knowing what on earth was going on. The third track is titled Paralytic. At first, I thought the song was about just getting a bit lairy on a Friday evening (which, in part, it is) but it's also about cutting loose and feeling better after a terrible week at work and the ability of live music to bring people together. The song is almost five minutes long so it's pretty lengthy but, when you get lost in it, the track flies by.

When I first saw the title of the fourth track, I really hoped it was a Lady Gaga cover. That would have been great fun. However the song Pokerfaces is not a cover. It's actually a positively messaged song about being who you want to be and feeling the need to fit in with people who think you're different. I enjoyed how the band switch from the upbeat ska sound on the verses to a harder punk sound on the chorus. This really helps hammer home the point of the song and gives it an empowering edge. Skankfish is an older LarryFish Experiment song. This is a reggae/ska summertime smasher that will get your knees up and put a massive smile on your face. It's not going to change the world of music but you will have a bloody good time whenever you hear the song. I'm all for having bloody good times so I'm all about Skankfish. Big Dan's is where the super silly side of The LarryFish Experiment comes out. Yes, there's a song sillier than Skankfish. It's about a night out with a down on their luck friend and the escapades that entail. I'll leave you to listen to the song and find out what they are. Musically, the song will get you skanking along and there are some great "wahoo" moments that you can easily shout along with.

The seventh song, Party Political Broadcast, is technically an interlude where the band get a bit electronical for a warning that the next song is a political track. That track is titled BNP so I'm sure you can have a bit of a guess as to what it's about. Long story short, the overall message is fuck the BNP – spread love, not hate. It's great to see The LarryFish experiment step away from songs about dancing and nights out and tackle politics. It gives the band a whole new dimension and makes them seem more than just a party band. Musically, they don't step away from their own style which I think makes the political song a lot more accessible for everyone. Up next is the song RKO. This is a short song that talks about the band’s love for professional wrestling. Despite only being forty-three seconds long, there are two very separate parts to the song. The first part of the song sees the band go all hardcore on us, before the second half delivers the most upbeat ska fun you're likely to hear. The penultimate song is Skankfish Strikes Again. Continuing the theme of the original Skankfish, it's about having a dance. This song has more of a punk edge to it, perhaps encouraging a rowdier skank. The final track on Better Late Than Never is titled Tweetie Pie. Good Gandalf this is a long song – it's nearly seven minutes long! It starts out in a ska punk style switching to a big rock sound that builds to an incredible three-part harmony section that I can't wait to see live at some point. It then jumps to what I guess would be described as a death metal howling section that will have you headbanging like your life depends on it to finish the song and the album.

Life is very trying at the moment and Better Late Than Never came along at just the right time. It's a great pick me up. Yes, it's very silly, but that offers a great form of escapism that is desperately needed at the moment. Turn off the news, stick Better Late Than Never on, have a skank and forget about everything for half an hour. Have fun!

Stream and download Better Late Than Never on Bandcamp here.

Like The LarryFish Experiment on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.