Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Album Review: Smoking Section/Pool Noodle by Articles

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

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

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

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

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

Like Articles on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Album Review: Someday, One Day by Modern Shakes

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

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

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

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

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

Like Modern Shakes on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 June 2020

CPRW Playlist: June 2020

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

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Top Tens: Ten Black Artists You Need To Check Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Album Review: Magic Summer by The Sewer Rats

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

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

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

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

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

Stream and download Magic Summer on Bandcamp here.

Like The Sewer Rats on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Album Review: Revolution Spring by The Suicide Machines

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stream and download Revolution Spring on Bandcamp here.

Like The Suicide Machines on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 22 June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Stream and download Vacant Hearts on Bandcamp here.

Like Hell’s Ditch on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

News: Toodles & The Hectic Pity Release New Acoustic EP

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


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

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

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

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

1. 11/22/63

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

2. The Shining

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

3. Misery

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

4. IT

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

5. The Stand

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

6. Joyland

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

7. Under The Dome

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

8. Pet Semetary

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

9. The Outsider

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

10. Revival

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

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

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Album Review: Show Me The Blueprints. by Days N Daze (by Emma Prew)

Days N Daze are a band that I ought to have listened to a hell of a lot more than I have. As arguably one of the most prolific bands of the ‘folk punk’ sub-genre for over a decade, I’m ashamed to say that I am not that familiar with most of their back catalogue. I know, and I call myself a folk punk fan! Sure, I’ve heard them on various playlists over the years and I did actually review their last album, Crustfall, in 2017 which I liked at the time but I’ve certainly not given them as much air time as they perhaps deserve.

This was until their eighth album and their debut with Fat Wreck Chords, Show Me The Blueprints., was released last month. I wouldn’t say the fact that the album is on Fat Wreck piqued my interest as such, but I guess it has made the band more likely to appear on my radar. I actually checked out the new album after hearing its opening track, Flurry Rush, on TNSRecords’ NEW PUNK FRIDAY Spotify playlist a few weeks ago – that playlist is well worth checking out. The album has been on constant rotation since then and has fast become one of my favourite albums of 2020.

The album opens with the aforementioned Flurry Rush. The song begins with a simple and relatively mid-tempo acoustic guitar part before the pace soon picks up with the introduction of banjo and trumpet which instantly feels quintessentially Days N Daze. When the vocals come in they are fast paced and, at least on first listen, it’s a little tricky to take in all of what vocalist Jesse Sendejas is singing. Of course, I didn’t listen just once and it’s well worth taking the time to take notice of the lyrics. Flurry Rush is about suffering from anxiety and in particular how you can often feel like you have no reason to be feeling a certain way because you ‘have it better than most’. I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate to and find comfort in lyrics like ‘But shit I can’t complain, Compared to many folks I got it great, So, why's it always seem, That everything was better yesterday.’ The second song, Ditches, is a little slower in pace than the album’s opening track. This song sees fellow vocalist Whitney Flynn take over from Jesse on lead vocals as she sings a pretty contemplative and emotional song. At first it seems to be quite a sad song – ‘I’m so desperate for a home, But I can’t stop myself from running, I get wasted and I’ll hide away.’ – but there’s also a sense of hopefulness to be taken from the song. The lines ‘Just dry your tears, ’Cause there more to life, Proving that you’re worth a damn, When you’ve always been good enough.’ are powerful stuff indeed.

LibrYUM is up next and wastes no time in getting going. A fast-paced and catchy thrashgrass song if ever there was one, Days N Daze managed to pack so much into this one song that I’m not sure I can do it justice with my inadequate words. In short, Librium is about quitting drugs but it’s also about feeling like you need to replace one drug with another, finding being sober over stimulating and, you know, all-round feelings of existential dread. The chorus which is literally just ‘La la la la la la la la la la, Whoa-oh’ is insanely catchy while the vocals throughout the verses are franticly compelling, at times verging on screams. LibrYUM is a triumph of song and so is the next song – Saboteurs. Opening with a jangly combination of banjo and mandolin, alongside some harmonica, Saboteurs is, at first, strikingly different to the previous song. It’s slower, that’s for sure, but it also feels calmer. What’s similar about the two songs, however, is their brutally honest lyrical content. In Saboteurs, Jesse sings of struggles with mental health. There’s a great sense of storytelling that really draws you into the song as Jesse first talks of holidaying to a beautiful scenic location but not feeling able to leave the car, before recounting other similar life experiences. It can’t be easy to talk about such feelings, never mind put them down in a song, but I for one am grateful that Jesse has. ‘Everything was fine and dandy, But now everything is fucked, And there ain’t no rhyme or reason for my seething, I just wanna be okay but I feel stuck.’

If you like your folk punk catchy then look no further than the fifth song of Show Me The Blueprints., My Darling Dopamine. I mean this in both a musical sense – rhythmic mandolin strumming and melodious trumpet playing – and lyrics-wise. Jesse and Whitney manage to make a somewhat dark topic, poor mental health, feel like a fun time. I imagine that’s not quite the intention here but it does make for a memorable song. I particularly enjoy how Jesse and Whitney sing in harmony in the chorus, really drilling the words home – ‘Oh, my darling dopamine, Does the reward outweigh the risk? Well I'm on the fence, Is a numbing normalcy on tap, Worth a week trembling and sick? And every time I tell myself's the last, ’Cause goddamn the price is high, To rot in comfort this gruelling routine, I’ve succumb to has grown so fucking old, I just want out.’. Days N Daze slow things down once more for Rewind, the shortest song on the album. Opening with the question ‘Am I insane?’ immediately sets the tone as Whitney tries to express what’s going on in her head. Rewind is about trying to slow down and make amends to things that you’ve done in the past in an attempt to start anew – ‘And sometimes you gotta find, A little rewind, rewind in your mind, Even if it’s a lie.’

Opening with that distinct Days N Daze blend of string instruments and trumpet, Addvice will get your head nodding in no time at all. It almost feels like the vocals are sung at a faster pace than the instruments are played at which keeps you paying attention throughout. The songs sees Jesse and Whitney taking it in turns to sing verses and coming together for the chorus. This gives a sense that they share similar feelings when it comes to dealing with the mental illness that is prevalent throughout Show Me The Blueprints. and not least on this track. Addvice is about self medicating, whether that be with drugs or alcohol, to help numb the pain that comes with suffering from depression. Jesse and Whitney admit that this is a problem and they try to tell themselves that they’ll try to be better but, of course, that is easier said than done. None Exempt begins with a mournful trumpet part and some almost mariachi or polka style strumming. It instantly sounds unlike anything we’ve heard on the album so far, which perhaps makes sense given that this song tackles slightly a different subject matter. Here Days N Daze take on more of a political stance with their lyrics, which could be deemed more typical of the folk punk genre than the mental health topic they’ve covered thus far. That’s not to say that this sounds especially like anything else – Days N Daze certainly seem to have a knack for sounding unique. None Exempt takes aim at the wealthy and privileged few who are in control. Understandably, Jesse and Whitney get quite angry throughout the song, particularly when they sing/scream ‘We've got rapists and thieves, In control of our country, When you know all the things, That they've done and they've said, How the fuck are you not chanting, Off with their heads.’.

As we draw towards the end of Show Me The Blueprints., we get to possibly the saddest song on the album. Fast Track is a slower song with some wonderful soft melodies throughout its duration that accompany, but do not detract from, Whitney’s heart-wrenching tale. I hope I’m not interpreting the song incorrectly but Fast Track seems to be about a lost loved one and the hurt and confusion that that can leave you with. I cannot relate and so feel unqualified to comment further but a highlight of the song for me was the line ‘The music inside your head, Played softer when I was there.’ in the second verse and then, towards the end of the song, ‘The music inside my head, Plays louder without you here.’ Beautiful. The album’s title track, Show Me The Blueprints., is the penultimate song. Despite beginning quietly, you can tell that the song is about to burst to life. The first verse is a hoarse snarl from Jesse which feels as frantic as the lyrics suggest. When Whitney sings the second verse, after a short musical interlude, its pleasantly contrasting but no less energetic and is a pattern that continues throughout the duration of the track. The song is about what goes on in the mind of someone suffering from anxiety and depression and so the erratic nature of the song feels like the perfect representation of this.

What better way to finish an album that’s been as excellent as this one than with an optimistic farewell. Goodbye Lulu Pt.2, a nod to Goodbye Lulu from 2013’s Rogue Taxidermy, feels very much an album closer. First with the lines ‘Well it's been fun for a spell, And I wish y'all well, I’d hate to overstay my welcome, So, it's time I go, And even though now I must split, Please never forget, You were the ones that made this planet, Feel like home.’ before progressing to a chorus that is as wholesomely feel-good as it is infectiously catchy. Maybe it’s the mention of ‘We'll get hammered, To the gimme gimmes auld lang syne.’ but it just feels like the kind of song you’d be singing merrily in a bar, with your arm around the person next to you – whether they’re a new friend or old. It just makes you feel like everything is going to be okay – and, right now especially, I think we all need that… But wait, it doesn’t end there. I’ll try not to give too much away if you haven’t listened to Show Me The Blueprints. yet but there’s a bonus ‘hidden track’ at the end of Goodbye Lulu Pt.2 that is well worth a listen.

Perhaps some long-time Days N Daze fans would suggest that Show Me The Blueprints. is not as raw sounding as some of their previous material. Whether that’s due to their new Fat Wreck association or not I don’t know, but what I do know is that they have produced an album with enough heart and soul to rival anything they’ve put out in the past.

Days N Daze were due to be in Europe at the end of May, including playing the Punk In Drublic stage at Slam Dunk Festival, but for obvious reasons all dates have been postponed. Alas, I cannot recommend that you go and see them live anytime soon but I can recommend that you do them, and yourself, a favour and give Show Me The Blueprints. a listen. I certainly can’t get enough myself.

Stream and download Show Me The Blueprints. on Bandcamp and like Days N Daze on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Video Premiere: Fair Do's by Modern Shakes

Today we're really excited to bring you the first look at the lyric video for the new Modern Shakes song, Fair Do's, taken from their upcoming second EP Someday, One Day. If you're new to Modern Shakes, they are a four piece from London who formed in the early part of 2018. Since then they've shared the stage with the likes of Teenage Bottlerocket, Clowns, Billy Liar, A Wilhelm Scream and The Dopamines, alongside appearing at Might As Well Fest and Polite Riot Fest. Playing a hook-heavy, uptempo, midwestern style of punk rock, they're a band who would fit nicely on The Fest or Booze Cruise line ups.

Modern Shakes stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and will be donating all proceeds from the sale of the single (via Bandcamp) to Black Minds Matter.

Black Minds Matter uses funds raised to pay for mental health services and treatment for those in need.
For more information, please visit their website: https://www.blackmindsmatteruk.com/


Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Album Review: Fake Names by Fake Names (by Chris Bishton)

Has there ever actually been a punk supergroup that's any good? The Falcon? More miss than hit most would say. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes? Fun, but ultimately a gimmick that's been taken too far, I reckon. Any band Mikey Erg ever plays in? Well, I love all of these, but I don't think any of these bands would quite be classed as a 'supergroup'.

And how do you actually define a 'supergroup'? There are greats, formed by people from seminal bands – Fugazi (Minor Threat), Rancid (Operation Ivy), Off! (Circle Jerks et al) – but the key thing here is that these bands had all split before the new ones took off. They were also formed years, sometimes decades, ago. Even if you try and argue these are supergroups (which they're not, by the way), we've been waiting a helluva long time for a new one that's actually any good.

So if we're being honest, I'd probably say no, we've never actually had a legit punk supergroup, which makes it all the more surprising that I found myself ordering the new Fake Names album (but that's bored, lockdown, internet shopping for you). Made up of Brian Baker (genuine legend from Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion and others), Michael Hampton (Embrace and State of Alert), Denis Lyxzen (Refused) and Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys), Fake Names are the latest punks to give it a go with their self-titled debut LP released, unsurprisingly, on Epitaph earlier this year.

The album has 10 songs and comes in at under 30 mins – standard stuff for a punk album. It's not particularly gritty punk though. As a collection of songs, the album sounds a little too polished. Maybe that's just because these guys are such accomplished musicians that have been in the game for so long and presumably are consummate professionals? I can imagine them recording this in a fantastically equipped studio with everything at their disposal. If that's all the case, then I guess there was very little they could have done to have drummed those instincts out of themselves, but, for me, it means the sound isn't quite raw enough for my ear.

The album kicks of with All For Sale. It's a decent mid tempo song, with a typically old school punk theme of how terrible capitalism is and how we all get screwed by the system. I like it, but it doesn't have that smack-me-in-the-face, sit up and take note element to it.

There are some strong tracks. There's plenty of melody and singalong harmonies on the record. I really love the songs Brick and Being Them, probably because they're fast and Brick, in particular, sounds Dag Nasty-like. The obvious standout track is First Everlasting, which is a really hooky, bouncing, singalong song punctuated with a whoa-cry. But there's also a couple of lesser and slower songs that are just quite average. It's not quite formulaic, stadium rock, but some of it is not far off.

As I'm listening to this, I can't help but being reminded of the book and documentary The Other F Word and specifically the bit where Jim Lindberg of Pennywise is dying his beard because he doesn't want the 'kids' to realise how old he is, going through the motions. Somehow, I don't actually think these guys are the same. I think they're doing it because they enjoy it and they're not bothered by what the 'kids' think. Indeed, there's no real hiding how 'experienced' they are. If that all means a sound that's very cohesive and that fits together well, then I bet that's the sound that they were going for.

I actually like Fake Names more than Beach Rats – Brian Baker's 'other' recent supergroup that didn't seem to go anywhere after releasing a single a couple of years ago – and that surprises me given the Bouncing Souls and Lifetime connections in Beach Rats. On paper, I would have me down to be drawn more towards Beach Rats, so I guess that's one small victory for Fake Names, and I'm sure that there will be people that love this band in the same way there are people that love Bad Religion or Minor Threat or Refused. However, for me, as someone that likes those other bands rather than someone that loves them, I'm gonna put Fake Names in the same bracket. I like this album, but I'm never going to love it.

Stream and download Fake Names here.

Like Fake Names on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Album Review: We Are Knife Club by Knife Club

Throughout the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, the big question on the lips of everyone in the UK DIY punk community has been Who Are Knife Club? The band have been booked for plenty of gigs and a couple of big festivals including Rebellion and Manchester Punk Festival but few people knew who they were and what they sounded like. This was a great way to drum up intrigue and promotion in the build up to their first shows and first album. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, those gigs and festival appearances got postponed but our friends at Shout Louder did announce who Knife Club are – Zoë Barrow (Casual Nausea/Mousebrass) on vocals, Eliott Verity (Nosebleed) and Dan Flanagan (Haest/Matilda’s Scoundrels) on guitar, Dani Rascal (Faintest Idea) on bass, Big Hands (Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man) on drums and Andy Davies (Revenge of The Psychotronic Man) on vocals. That's a DIY punk supergroup right there. It was also announced that the band would be releasing their debut album, We Are Knife Club, on TNSRecords as well as 5 Feet Under Records (Denmark). This was going to be one of the most anticipated albums of 2020 but would it live up to the hype?

As you might expect from a band which features two members of ROTPM, We Are Knife Club is twelve songs long and goes by in just twenty-one minutes. Starting out with Making A Big Deal Of It, this track really sets the tone for the entire album. Andy and Zoë trading vocals back and forth between one another as the rest of the band play in a thrashy style. I'm not generally a big thrash fan but on this song, and throughout the album, I found the urgency infectious. Up next Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser which translates to Cut With The Kitchen Knife. When translated into English it turns out that Cut With The Kitchen Knife can be a very catchy lyric, no matter and what speed it's sung at. This is one that'll be in your head for days whether you like it or not. Remember The Gold Dollar Sign Hoodie was the lead single from We Are Knife Club and was the world's first chance to hear the band. The song is about how people try to take advantage of the good nature of the DIY scene and attempt to get guest list for £5 shows. Obviously the band don't like this attitude and lament people who try it. The song was a great choice as a lead single as it really showcases the DIY ethics of the band and shows they won't be taking any prisoners.

Artex sees Knife Club venture into the territory of mental health. This is one of the most intense songs on the album but somehow retains a lot of melody as well as having another super catchy chorus. The Tibby Tan Tiger was a surprising song. It's much poppier than anything else on the album and comes as a welcome break from the intensity. I never ever expected to find a song like this from this group of musicians and I'm really impressed by the versatility displayed. The track is about calling people out for their bad behaviour and making sure they know there's no place for their particular beliefs around here. The sixth song is titled Working Class Tories. Here's one of the more political songs on the album and is a reaction to the sad way that working class people voted for a political party that doesn't care about them in the most recent UK elections. The lyric that really stands out throughout is "the downside of all of this, is that you dismissed, the chance to make your lives better." I couldn't agree more and share the band’s frustration with the population of the UK.

The second half of the album is kicked off with The 1%. The initial thing I noticed when listening to the track for the first time was the ominous sound the bass makes at the beginning of the track. This really made me feel like Knife Club were about to get really serious. This is by far the angriest song on the album as Andy and Zoë scream about how furious it makes them that the people with all the money don't contribute as much as they could do and how selfish they are. Definitely a topic that should make anyone really angry. The eighth song is titled I Mean, I'd Probably Take An Adidas Endorsement. This is a song that is about DIY punk ethics and encourages the listener to get involved in the movement. The more people involved in the scene then the stronger it is. Killing Two Birds With Two Stones is up next. This is a song about struggling with indecision and feeling pressured by people to make the right choice. There's more than likely no way to please everyone and that can really tip people over the edge. I'm not sure I've ever heard a song that tackles this subject before and it feels like a refreshing topic for Knife Club to look at.

Do You Want A Knife With That Salad? is about feeling worn down by the world and trying to eventually put yourself back together after being at your lowest. This is a straight forward punk rock song and is similar in sound to the UK scene from the 70/80s. It's quite a throwback but has a subject matter that is really relatable to the modern day. The penultimate song is 27% Of Statistics. The track is relentless as Zoë and Andy barely pause throughout, singing about simply not wanting to be a statistic. It's another song that quickly finds a home in your mind and you'll be singing along to the chorus immediately whilst also feeling like you want to be in an crazy mosh pit. TNSClub7 completes We Are Knife Club. This gives the album a nice rowdy finish with a big gang vocal section throughout the majority of the song. I love the feeling of inclusion that the song gives out. The track is about always having the best intentions even when things go horribly wrong. The titled suggests they are talking in particular about TNSRecords (whom all the band members had a relationship with before Knife Club) but I feel like the message can be taken to everyday life. Such a positive way to end the album.

With the collection of people and talent involved in this album, it's no surprise that it's really good. Even if the harder and thrashier side of punk rock isn't really your pint of Pepsi, I would still suggest you listen to We Are Knife Club. Hopefully we'll be able to see them live as soon as is safe, as I feel like these songs will be even better live.

Stream and download We Are Knife Club on Bandcamp here.

Like Knife Club on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.