Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Album Review: Nostalgic Interference by My Kid Banana

If you are an avid CPRW reader with an incredible memory you might recognise the name My Kid Banana from being one of our Bands Of The Week or from our first compilation album we released in June 2019. They are a four piece band from Saint Paul, Minnesota, who write pop culture punk songs. Way back in February the band released a new album named Nostalgic Interference and it’s taken me far too long to get around to checking it out.

The first of the album’s nine songs is Bologna And Chips. My Kid Banana start things out with a super sweet pop punk love song about meeting someone special and clicking perfectly. The track doesn’t reinvent any wheels but, as I’ve said many times, sometimes great music doesn’t have to. The song has this truly infectious chorus that you’ll pick up immediately (and features some great harmonies) and the punchy way in which the verse is delivered really grabs your attention. The second track, I Love My Cat Way More Than You, is another super simple song that gets stuck in your head. There’s definitely The Mr T Experience vibes in the track which I really enjoyed. Subject wise it’s a bit silly but I’m sure there’s a lot of people who will really relate. Up next is The Charles Bronsong. It’s dedicated to the American actor and not the English serial killer. This song shows a heavier, more melodic skate punk side of My Kid Banana. It’s like if you crossed The Vandals with Bad Religion (there’s some great “oozin’ aahs”).

The fourth song is titled I Wanna Be Like Rambo. This is My Kid Banana’s version of an inspirational song. It’s about finding your inner strength to make a change in your life when things aren’t going your way. It’s a mid-tempo song which shows off a softer side of Nick Holmes’ voice. It also keeps the run of insanely catchy songs that open the album going. Decepticunt is an angrier song as you might be able to tell from the title. The song is about getting out of a bad relationship with someone you thought was great but in actuality is an awful person. Despite really hating the c word, this is one of my favourites on Nostalgic Interference. I imagine the song gets a great reaction at My Kid Banana live shows. The Exorcism Of My Girlfriend is the song that appeared on our Fifth Birthday Compilation. This shows the more hard rocking side of My Kid Banana but also includes the pop harmonies that have been sprinkled all over the album. The lyrics show off a lot of imagery which I found quite impressive, especially considering it’s not the most serious of songs.

Boy Wonder is the poppiest song on Nostalgic Interference. It’s a slow, quiet song that you could easily find yourself whistling along to. There’s what I believe is a keyboard featured quite heavily in the chorus that could easily be replaced by someone whistling. You don’t often hear things like this and I got a real kick from it. The penultimate song is Let Us Form Voltron. For those who don’t know, Voltron is a popular animated TV show that was originally popular in the 80s and is about a team of five space explorers who pilot a giant super robot named Voltron. My Kid Banana bring the punk sound back for this song about finding someone special, taking a leap of faith and having a life of adventures together. The final track is named Gleaming The Pubes. The song is an ode to the band’s love of skateboarding as kids and how it’s shaped their lives. Much like in The Exorcism Of My Girlfriend, the lyrics display a wonderful amount of imagery that really give the song a nostalgic feel. This is a perfect way to finish an album that is packed full of nostalgia.

This isn’t an album that’s going to change your life but there’s a really good chance that it will make you smile. I’m all for this type of music – it’s fun and inoffensive, you’ll be humming it all day and most probably annoying anyone who encounters you that day. What else do you want?

Stream and download Nostalgic Interference on Bandcamp here.

Like My Kid Banana on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Album Review: Grower by Burnt Tapes

It’s no secret what a big fan of Burnt Tapes I am. I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow their career since they released their first demo/EP Wasted History in 2014 and have seen the incredible progression up until last year’s stunning debut album, Never Better. Never a band to stand still for long, Phil, Pan, Tone and Jordan have been back in the studio, The Ranch, with their frequent collaborator Daly George to record a new EP named Grower. Instead of releasing Grower on CD or vinyl, the band decided to do something a little different. Grower has been released with a beech tree. The reason for this was to be more environmentally conscious. Guitarist Phil explained “We wanted to do something a little different, more sustainable and planet-friendly. Something you can plant and nurture, and watch grow. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good band T-shirt! But we need more green spaces in order to tackle the climate emergency, and hopefully, we can raise more awareness about this through this initiative. And most of all provide you with some wholesome family fun”. I’m sure you already know that I loved this EP as I have loved everything the Tapes have released.
Grower begins with Dynasty, Die With Me. Continuing with the sound that the band made their own on Never Better with warm guitar tones an fantastic gruff sounding vocals, Dynasty, Die With Me could have easily found itself at home on the album. As ever Phil and Pan share vocal duties and to open the EP Phil gets his chance to shine. It’s a powerful and emotional vocal from Phil, who’s vocals get better with each and every release. He’s always had a great gruff style but on recent releases he seems to have learnt how to add more melody to his singing. Up next it’s Getitgotitgood. The track begins with a short introduction that builds towards Pan’s vocals. Pan’s vocals give the song such an infectious energy that have you wanting to sing along immediately. The song’s highlight is without a doubt the chorus, which may be one of my favourites the band has written to date. Pan definitely has a fantastic skill for writing some huge hooks. This is one that I’m really looking forward to seeing live when such things are allowed to happen again.

The third song, Greek Wood, was released earlier this year when the band asked friends to film themselves in the bath for a special video. Check it out here and look out for some familiar faces. I loved the opening guitar riff, it’s the sort that lets you know immediately what the next song is. It had me wondering if it was a little nod to their great friends in Triple Sundae who have a similar alarm like riff for their song Fabricated. This is another song that I can’t wait to see live as I can imagine the crowd going absolutely nuts for it. The song is about a sad break up. Phil pours his heart out singing about thinking about an ex and wondering if there are feeling left between them. The final track on Grower is an acoustic version of Yuzi, the lead single from Never Better. This is the first acoustic version the band have ever released and I loved it. This whole summer was about acoustic live streams so it seemed very fitting to include this. I’m very impressed with how Pan managed to retain the energy from the original on this stripped back version. If you don’t know the original then I strongly advise you to go and check it out.

It’s a Burnt Tapes release so it’s obviously brilliant. Go and buy it from Lockjaw Records and, if you have the space to grow a small beech tree, buy one of those as well.

Stream and download Grower on Bandcamp here.

Like Burnt Tapes of Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 25 September 2020

CPRW Playlist: September 2020

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

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Album Review: Congrats, For Now by Got Trash?

Got Trash? are a four piece band from Denton, Texas. The band, who describe themselves as “whatever The Mountain Goats are, but angstier”, only started in 2019 but have somehow found the time to release a demo and two EPs. The second EP, which I am about to review, is titled Congrats, For Now and was released in August. I was lucky enough to discover it on a Bandcamp Discovery binge and had to share it with all of you.
Congrats, For Now begins with Seven Harder Steps To Realize My Body Is A Sin Puppet. On my first listen I was really impressed with the energy in the song. A big part of this was due to the use of gang vocals throughout the song. The song begins with a building guitar part and rolling drum beat that gets you amped up for the vocals. From then on the band continues to build the song up. There’s an air of intensity as the song progresses that really makes the song captivating. The track’s highlight comes in its ending when the two vocalists perform a call and response section that ensures the song finishes in a big way. The second track is titled Interlude 69 which is a mostly instrumental track. It was an interesting decision to include this style of song on a three track EP and I’m glad they did. I also found it equal parts annoying and hilarious that this was the only song on Congrats, For Now that the band provided lyrics for on Bandcamp. It’s such a mesmerising song that it’s hard not to be swept away with it. The guitars in particular are great, with their jangly, upbeat nature giving a lot of life to the song. Last up is Irish Goodbye At Terminal Velocity. This song showcases the more pop side of Got Trash? as well as showcasing elements of indie, emo and perhaps even jazz. The song is a very sad one about missing a friend who has sadly died and not having had the opportunity to say goodbye. The lyric “if an angel earned its wings then why did I lose a friend?” is completely heartbreaking and shows what strong lyricists Got Trash? are.

This is a great, but far too short, EP from Got Trash?. This is obviously a foursome with a great amount of potential and I’m already yearning for more from the band. Got Trash? are a band you need to check out now.

Stream and download Congrats, For Now on Bandcamp here.

Like Got Trash? on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Album Review: Sad In The City by Broadway Calls

It’s mad that it took Broadway Calls seven years to release the follow up to their brilliant 2013 album Comfort/Distraction. In July this year the three-piece from Oregon finally released a brand new album titled Sad In The City. Released by Red Scare Industries, label boss Toby Jeg has said it’s the best thing they’ve ever put out. That is a big statement when you look back at how many amazing releases Red Scare have put out over the years. Enough waffle, let’s crack on with Sad In The City.

Sad In The City begins with Never Take Us Alive. This was the perfect song to start the album and a great way to reintroduce the band to their fans along with showing exactly what to expect for any new listeners of Broadway Calls. The track begins quite slowly and softly before building up to the main portion of the song. As soon as the chorus hits, the band have you singing along passionately and looking forward to where the album goes. Up next we have You Gotta Know which also starts softly before vocalist Ty Vaughn’s distinctive vocals come in and inject the track will a lot of energy. I’ve always thought that Ty’s vocals are cleaner and poppier than many of the bands contemporaries in their pop punk scene and that’s helped the band stand out massively. The song is about wanting to tell someone special how you feel about them. The third track is the album’s title track, Sad In The City. This song looks at how communities are being torn apart by wars started by rich people. Lyrically the song is superb, there are some great sing-alongs alongside some hard hitting imagery. “There’s a stain on the road shaped like a kid” is just one instance of this.

Always On The Run is about life on tour and the different life experiences that happen along the way. With its simple and catchy chorus, it’s guaranteed to find a home in your head. The song also feels full of joy as Ty recounts moments from tour that he seems to have happy memories of. About halfway through the track there’s a nice call and respond moment that leads to the bridge and builds to one final chorus. It’s great stuff. The fifth song is titled There’s A Glow. Broadway Calls play around with their sound slightly on the track with the verses venturing into garage rock territory. Of course, when the chorus hits we get that big Broadway Calls anthemic style that we all know and love. It’s nice to hear a band playing around with their style but also not forgetting what people love about them in the first place. Take Me Down has quite a startling start. It opens with a brief moment of acoustic guitar before we get a fantastically brash chorus to really get us started. At the halfway point of Sad In The City this was great track ordering as it gives the album another shot of energy. The chorus is another huge ear worm that will encourage huge amounts of audience participation in the future. Radiophobia was one of the singles released to promote Sad In The City and shows a darker and heavier side of the band. For the first time on the release Ty plays around with his peddle board to create some fantastic effects that really set the tone for the entire song. The track is a personal one to Ty as it is about growing up near a radiation cooling tower and knowing from the age of seven what it would mean to his friends and family in the town if the nuclear reactor were to have a meltdown. Just reading about it is terrifying so to have experienced it firsthand must have been horrible.

Slick New Truth sees Broadway Calls revert back to the tried and trusted and is one of my favourites on Sad In The City. This is infectious pop punk at its finest. The track reminds me of Be All That You Can Be from Good Views Bad News as it feels like Broadway Calls are really trying to spread their political message. In the case of Slick New Shoes, it’s about how the news has been streamlined down and you’re not always given the whole story. This is a bad thing. This song feels more relevant than ever given how we consume our news stories these days. The ninth song, Meet Me On The Moon, is a song about getting away from all the troubles on earth with that special someone. The song is a lot of fun but also shows a serious side when you think about how bad the world must currently be if you want to escape all the way to the moon. I can see this song being a big favourite with Broadway Calls fans. The penultimate song is Big Mouth. This is more of a mid-tempo track that makes me think of a cross between Social Distortion and The Ergs, that will enable massive barroom singalongs when such things are able to happen again. The line “I’ve got a big mouth and it gets me into trouble” is perhaps the most contagious on the entire album which is really saying something. I can really see this song being a set closer for the band and what a joyous occasion it will be. Sad In The City is completed by Went Dyin’. This is such a change of direction after Big Mouth. It’s a sadder song with much heavier tones than anything else on the album. The song looks at self-destructive tendencies in people and why they occur. Of course the song has a massive chorus and will be extremely cathartic for anyone listening. A sadder song seems completely appropriate for finishing Sad In The City.

Sad In The City has received nothing but positive reviews and rightly so. From beginning to end it’s packed with fantastic pop punk. I’m not sure why it was such a long gap between albums but it’s certainly been worth the wait. For me this is easily the band’s best work so far. It’s the biggest shame that the band’s UK tour with The Flatliners was cancelled earlier this year, I was looking forward to seeing them at both Manchester Punk Festival and the New Cross Inn and I’m anxiously awaiting future dates. In the meantime I’ll be listening to Sad In The City a lot.

Stream and download Sad In The City on Bandcamp here.

Like Broadway Calls on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Album Review: Sweet Dog Violet by Sweet Dog Violet

Sweet Dog Violet are an emo-shoegaze band from Berlin, Germany. In March they released their self-titled debut EP. Despite not being my usual go to sound, there was something about this EP that really caught my attention so I wanted to share it with you. 

The three track EP beings with Permanent Scar. I enjoyed how the song wasted absolutely no time in getting started. After just a few guitar strums, a short riff and a blast of drums we get to the vocals. I was quickly enamoured with these vocals. Completely captivating. Permanent Scar is about the ending of a relationship and the damage it has done. Sweet Dog Violet’s vocalist does an amazing job of building up the emotion during the song. You can really feel their pain by the time you reach the song’s conclusion. The second track on the EP is Bloom. From my first listen of the song I was reminded of Australian punk act Camp Cope. It’s a mid-tempo song with a simple melody and beat, plus some more extremely emotive vocals. The song is a more positive and uplifting one about how a friendship can grow and how you can always count on your pals to look after you when things aren’t going how you want them to. The third and final song on the EP is Pluto. So far on the EP we’ve had a sad song and a positive one, the third and final one shows an angrier side of Sweet Dog Violet. The track begins in a similar vein to the rest of the EP but when we hit the chorus the vocals become more primal and raw and really make you stand to attention. Pluto tackles the subject of anxiety and being in the mindset of things not going the way that you want them to.

This is a seriously impressive debut from Sweet Dog Violet. 2020 has been such a hard year to be in a band at any stage of their careers but I feel like for a new one like Sweet Dog Violet it’s been particularly hard, as they haven’t been able to get out and play any shows to help spread their message. I implore you to take fifteen minutes to listen to this EP, you won’t be disappointed.

Stream and download Sweet Dog Violet on Bandcamp here.

Like Sweet Dog Violet on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Album Review: The Bin Collection by Mitch, Please (by Emma Prew)

Mitch, Please are a four piece pop punk band from Brisbane, Australia, who released their debut EP titled The Bin Collection earlier this month. With cats on the EP’s artwork and a band name as good as theirs, I was already a fan of Mitch, Please before I hit play… Thankfully, I still liked them after listening as well!

The Bin Collection opens with Temporary Punks and the line ‘Oh hey there punk’ (seemingly) welcomes us into the EP. Mitch, Please proceed to sing about how some, typically ‘old school’, punks can judge others in the scene to not be punk enough because they don’t dress or act a certain way or, in this case, deem them to be merely temporary punks. Of course, this is stupid and punk is so much more than the cliché image of old. Temporary Punks is a mid-tempo pop punk tune with some super catchy harmonies of ‘Temporary, I’m so temporary’ in the chorus that I can instantly imagine singing along to in a live music setting. Rubbish is up next and the pace and overall heaviness is immediately ramped up with an almost metal-like opening guitar riff. When the vocals come in, they are a lot more aggressive and hardcore in style than I was expecting from the previous track. This increased anger certainly makes sense with the lyrics of the song however – ‘I have never needed your approval, You think you validate me? So you’re the ones to cut me out now, Good fucking riddance, You’re fucking rubbish.’ Rubbish is about feeling better off without someone in your life and realising that you don’t need their praise or acceptance because, quite frankly, they are a rubbish person. Cola Drunk Polly is a 12 second interlude of sorts that features a heavy repetitive guitar riff, pounding drums and three words – ‘Cola drunk Polly.’

The fourth song, Neighbourhood Cat, has got to my favourite song on The Bin Collection. A fast paced tune that sits somewhere between the poppier pop punk of Temporary Punks and the more hardcore style of Rubbish, this song is about when you keep seeing the same cat everyday on your street but the cat hasn’t, as yet, decided that it wants to be your friend despite how much you want to win it over. I’ll be honest, I can relate to this song a lot. The intense repetition of ‘Why won’t you rub your face on me?’ is both infectiously catchy and amusing, although then it got me thinking that if you didn’t know this song was about a cat these are quite worrying lyrics. Perhaps that’s the point. If the cat wants to be your friend, it will be. The penultimate song is Polygon Pit and this is perhaps the song that is most reflective of the ‘nerd punk’ label that the band have given themselves. Polygon Pit is about a variety of different shaped mosh pits – but not a circle pit, because where’s the fun in that? As you might imagine for a song about mosh pits, this song is on the more aggressive end of the Mitch, Please musical scale. I particularly enjoyed the friendly voice that introduces the song, after the opening verse, with ‘This is a polygon pit and I am your professor of aggressive geometry’ which is quite a contrast to the song itself. It’s all a lot of fun, that’s for sure. What We Do closes the EP by slowing things down a notch. It definitely pulls back on the aggression that’s been on display in the last couple of tracks as Mitch, Please deliver a more straightforward mid-tempo pop punk song. The chorus is a bit of a tongue twister – ‘When you watch me watch you, Say what you do, say what you do, When you watch me watch you, Do what you do, say what you do’ – but the addition of some whoa-ohs in the background make it enticing to join in one way or another. Whereas Rubbish was about excluding someone from your life, What We Do seems to be about accepting someone’s apology and giving them a second chance. It’s certainly nice to finish the EP on a positive note.

The Bin Collection is an excellent debut EP and I would highly recommend checking it out if you like your punk music to be fun and/or not really too serious. I can’t wait to see what Mitch, Please do next.

You can stream and download The Bin Collection on Bandcamp and like Mitch, Please on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Album Review: Split by Two Houses and New Junk City (by Emma Prew)

You probably know that we love a split release here at CPRW. It’s often a great opportunity to check out one new band while also supporting one you already know and sometimes they cover each other’s songs too which is always pretty cool to hear. That’s exactly the case with this four track split on Rad Girlfriend Records featuring Two Houses – a band that’s new to me – and New Junk City – a band I know and love. They each have one, I assume, brand new song as well as a cover of one of the other band’s tracks.

Two Houses take the first half of the split. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the band, they describe themselves as a reliable rock ’n’ roll band and are a trio from Chicago. Southbound And Down opens with a jangly guitar riff before the volume and distortion levels are ramped up when the vocals come in. There’s a rawness to the song and the vocals that reminds me of Tim Barry of Avail. It’s a fairly fast paced and short song, at only just over 2 minutes in length, but Two Houses still manage to fit in a guitar solo in the middle of the track. Up next is Snot A Problem which is a cover of the opening song on New Junk City’s 2014 self-titled album. The original is fast paced and quite an angry sounding song – which is understandable given the lyrics (‘You come in the door at 3am, You’re drunk as fuck and screaming at me again.’). Two Houses slow their version down somewhat and, rather than obvious anger, they simply seem resentful and bitter. It’s dark and almost grungey sounding and the band also add some fine harmonised vocals that drive the story of the song home all the more.

New Junk City are a four-piece punk rock band from Atlanta. I had the pleasure of seeing them live at Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival last summer and their set was one of my highlights of the whole weekend. Sticky is the name of their original song on the split and it wastes no time in getting going. Upbeat from the outset, the track immediately gets my head nodding. There’s a catchy riff threaded throughout the song but it’s the vocals and lyrics that really stand out to me. I’ve always thought vocalist John has an incredibly distinct voice, it’s got a sort of Americana or Bluesy twang it that works so well with the band’s fast paced and melodic punk rock – I love it. The Two Houses’ song that New Junk City cover is The Fear from their 2016 album I Feel So Good I Can’t Stand Myself. Having not listened to Two Houses prior to this split, I did quickly check out the original so that I could properly compare the two. The obvious immediate difference between the two is that New Junk City have included an audio clip at the beginning of their version but, after that, it is perhaps slightly more upbeat than the original with some slightly fuzzy guitars bringing a warmth to the track. It’s a super catchy tune and the layered vocals towards the end – which are more distinct than on the original – are brilliant. This is probably my favourite of the four songs.

I perhaps wouldn’t have thought to check out a slightly grungey rock ’n’ roll band such as Two Houses before but I’m glad that I have now thanks to this split. Both Two Houses and New Junk City have contributed great stuff here and I would recommend checking out both of their back catalogues out – starting with this split.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp.

Like Two Houses on Facebook here and like New Junk City on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Album Review: Traitor’s Hill by Paper Rifles

I’m throwing this statement out there now, Edinburgh indie punks Paper Rifles have been the busiest band during the COVID-19 lockdown. Not only did they manage to play a load of acoustic shows online, release an EP and record a covers album, they also found the time to release their second full length album Traitor’s Hill. We’ve been following Paper Rifles pretty much since we started CPRW when Jon performed as a solo act before eventually becoming a full band and they seem to go from strength to strength with every single release. I was expecting some big things from Traitor’s Hill.

Traitor’s Hill opens with The Greatest Change. The track starts in an eerie manner with a really long keyboard note before Jon’s solemn vocals come in. As the song goes on it builds wonderfully, starting with some pounding drums and then guitars. Jon’s vocals get louder and more passionate as the song continues to grow. The track is obviously about making a change in your life, whether it’s because of things that you’ve done wrong, stepping away from a bad relationship or even taking steps to move away from everything you know. Up next is Sleeping Dogs. Here the band take that big sound from The Greatest Change and really up the tempo. To my knowledge this is one of the heaviest sounding songs Paper Rifles have written so far, there’s a real crunch to the guitars that I adored. Sleeping Dogs is about trying to decide whether or not to try and make a positive change in a situation or just leaving it be in case you make it worse. The third song, It Started As A Joke, was released as a single with a fantastic video in the run up to Traitor’s Hill’s release. Slowing things down to a more traditional Paper Rifles tempo, this is where you really get to hear the strength of Jon’s voice. I’ve found it captivating since I heard it all those years ago and it continues to blow me away. The final verse on the track is the big highlight – it really had me wanting to sing-along with my fist passionately in the air.

Blood On The Wind had me thinking of Hot Water Music with its deep guitar tones and melodic vocal delivery. If Jon had a booming gruff voice like Mr Chuck Ragan, this would be like listening to a track from Caution. On Blood On The Wind the band sing about how the people who are supposed to be in charge use their position to only benefit themselves and their friends whilst the people who really need support struggle and often die because of this. The fifth track on Traitor’s Hill is Sea Legs. There is a melody in this song that reminds me of something else and it’s really bugging me what it is. (It might be It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls.) For me, this is perhaps the poppiest track on the album so far and it offers a nice contrast to the previous song. This doesn’t take away from the serious tone of the song though, as Jon puts in another emotive performance – there are sombre moments, angsty moments and moments where his vocals sound huge. I absolutely loved James’ drums at the beginning of Hearts And Minds. It’s a simple, repetitive beat that’s extremely striking and grabs you immediately. Like with many Paper Rifles songs, it builds and grows as it progresses before hitting a big chorus that you’ll be yearning to sing-along with. This is one of those songs that has loads of little subtleties that you’ll be discovering with each and every listen. Judas is potentially my favourite song on Traitor’s Hill. Bringing the tempo back up, it’s a rousing song from start to finish. It’s an upbeat and passionate song where Jon questions himself about whether he’s sold out from his beliefs from when he was younger or if he’s still the same person he once was. There’s a punchy approach to the vocals that make the song a real ear worm from the beginning and the chorus, with additional vocals from guitarist Kev, is something I look forward to seeing live when we’re allowed to do that again.

The eighth song, Headstrong, originally appeared on the Headstrong EP that was released in April. The Headstrong EP was released to help raise money for Health In Mind which is a Scottish charity that helps to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. As you might expect, the song is about dealing with mental health problems, particularly as a man where you are often raised in an environment where you are not allowed to show emotion and are forced to bottle things up. I’m sure the song is extremely cathartic for a lot of people listening to it. The penultimate song is Cemetary Sea. The song is originally by Jon’s previous band The Curators but also appeared as an acoustic version on the Politics EP in 2014. Paper Rifles seems to have given the song a fresh coat of paint and it sounds incredible. I loved the suspense-building guitar that leads into the driving second verse before the song really explodes into the chorus. The structure of this song is exactly what I love in a punk rock song. Traitor’s Hill is completed with the song Atlas. This feels like a new direction for Paper Rifles as they venture into an angsty and even, at times, grunge-like style. Starting out in an atmospheric and moody style, Jon goes for some higher notes than anything previously done on the album. This adds to the whole moody atmosphere they seem to be going for on the song. Of course, over time there are more and more layers added to the song and it takes you on quite the ride. This is an absolutely stunning way to finish the album.

Paper Rifles are one of Scotland’s very best bands and seem to get better with every release. It’s not just the songs that are brilliant but the overall sound and production of the album is fantastic. This was all done by the band’s drummer James at his home studio and is extremely impressive. I’ve been telling people about how good Paper Rifles are for years now and hopefully Traitor’s Hill will make even more people take notice.

Stream and download Traitor’s Hill on Bandcamp here.

Like Paper Rifles on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Column: What If The Lock Up Never Went Away

Recently it was Reading and Leeds Festival weekend. Obviously, this year the festival didn’t get to happen but the BBC did show highlights. Whenever Reading and Leeds Festival comes around it always has me thinking of past line-ups and how they were much more to my taste compared to what the festival has become now. I think about the old Lock Up/Concrete Jungle stage, which over the years, featured punk legends such as Bad Religion, Descendents, Alkaline Trio, Less Than Jake, Social Distortion, Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag and many more alongside UK stalwarts like Lightyear, Capdown, No Comply, Adequate Seven, Sonic Boom Six, King Prawn and, in later years, Great Cynics, Muncie Girls and Apologies, I Have None. I then go on to thinking about the The Lock Up show on Radio One which was hosted by Mike Davies. This show was much loved among the UK punk community and showcased so many bands we still love today. The show ran in various time slots between 2002 and 2014 and was a great success. As well as playing the biggest punk bands from all over the world it also gave loads of opportunities to DIY bands. It was arguably one of the biggest periods for punk rock in the UK and everyone looks back at the time with a great amount of fondness. Recently, whilst bored at work, I got to pondering about what the UK punk scene would have been like if the Lock Up show had have stayed on air and continued to have the similar success it had in its prime.

For me the punk scene, in times before COVID-19 at least, was thriving in 2020. There’s an incredible amount of amazing bands emerging throughout the UK. There are great amount of shows on all the time and plenty of festivals for bands to play but I think it’s fair to say that they aren’t always the best attended. You’ve got to imagine that if The Lock Up was still on air, shows would be better attended and you might see DIY punk shows at bigger venues than the ones that currently that put on punk shows. This would obviously be in huge part due to the increased exposure bands would be getting because of being featured on a mainstream radio station. Nowadays bands are competing to get on Spotify playlists, hoping to get some decent exposure. Some bands can get exposure from that but it surely can’t match the boost you get from a Radio One play. There would also be more bands than ever getting together to play punk music because they’ve been inspired by what they’ve heard.

That does lead me to something that would be a negative if The Lock Up still existed. To my knowledge, the UK punk scene for the most part works together as a community. Bands and labels work together, swapping gigs, sharing each other’s music and generally working as one to help the scene grow. I worry that all these bands trying to get played on The Lock Up would create a competitive atmosphere that would involved lots of bitching, backstabbing and one-upmanship that just isn’t needed in the punk scene. There is a risk that the special community feeling that spreads throughout the scene would be lost and that would be a massive shame.

As was mentioned in the introduction, a big part of The Lock Up radio show was their stage at Reading and Leeds Festival. For a lot of bands this stage was a stepping stone for getting to play to hundreds of thousands of people on the main stage. I’ve been thinking about which of the current bands in the scene would have played on the main stage by now if The Lock Up still existed. My first thought was The Menzingers. That band are already playing in decent sized rooms throughout the UK without much radio play. With the backing on The Lock Up still behind them it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see them on the big stage. Seeing that many people shouting “I will fuck this up, I fucking knowing it” back at the stage would be a pretty special moment. From the ska scene you can’t look past The Interrupters being an ideal candidate for the main stage. Since the release of Fight The Good Fight in 2018 the band have blown up (in punk terms) and their brand of positive unity music would fit in perfectly. Also an outside bet would be Canada’s Pkew Pkew Pkew. The band’s infectious pop punk is perfect for radio play and instantly takes up residence in your head. Plus their inclusion in the Tony Hawks reboot is surely going to unearth a massive new fanbase for The Boys.

I’ve also been thinking about the current crop of UK bands who might find their way onto The Lock Up stage. Nervus and Fresh would undoubtedly have played it by now. There was a stage when it seemed as if at least one of those bands were on tour with whatever big band were over from the USA so it would only be right that they were featured. I would also imagine Darko would have played at some point. As one of the most beloved skate punk bands in the UK and Europe, I’m sure they would have had substantial play time on the radio show and would wow everyone in the tent. Wonk Unit are one of the bands that really unite the old school punks along with the new so would be a shoe in to appear at some stage. The hottest young band in the UK at the moment are Aerial Salad and are certain to do some big things in future years. Imagine where they would be if they had the Radio One hype machine behind them. They might just skip The Lock Up stage and get on the main stage. They have that much appeal, it won’t just be the punks who love them. Then, following on from the likes of Lightyear, Capdown and Random Hand representing the ska punk scene, you’d have to include Call Me Malcolm, Bar Stool Preachers, Millie Manders and The Shutup and Popes Of Chillitown from the current crop of bands.

In trying to think of a negative, I thought of the effect that The Lock Up Stage might have on various festivals around the UK and Europe during August. In the past few years, since less punk bands were booked for Reading and Leeds, we’ve seen the growth of festivals such as Boomtown, Rebellion, Brakrock and Punk Rock Holiday. I do wonder if Reading and Leeds was still filling The Lock Up with punk bands, would these over festivals attract the big names of punk rock that they currently do? Reading and Leeds is one of the most prestigious music festivals in the world and, at the time, for a lot of these bands it most have been a bucket list festival to play. Because of this, bands will have arranged their tours around the traditional August bank holiday weekend rather than earlier in the month when Boomtown and Rebellion take place.

I guess with the extra punk festivals and in theory a bigger punk audience due to the extra exposure, there will be plenty of great bands to fill all of the festival slots and it would give more of a chance to the smaller bands to play for big audiences which is only a good thing.

To finish this column of pondering I should come up with a conclusion. I think that The Lock Up show was absolutely fantastic for UK punk rock and opened doors for loads of fantastic bands. It is much missed and you can’t ignore the legacy it created. We need more radio shows dedicated to punk rock music at a mainstream level. Punk rock is plodding along nicely in its underground status but imagine how it would thrive again with big backing. It would be an incredible time.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Album Review: In Your Face! by Radio Blast

Radio Blast are a four piece Ramonescore pop punk band who formed in 2018 in New York. Influenced by the likes of The Huntingtons, Young Rochelles, Isotopes, Dan Vapid, Jagger Holly and Dee Cracks, the band have had a productive two years. Firstly releasing their debut EP Let’s Rock in May 2019 and then releasing their second EP In Your Face! in August 2020, along with a handful of singles squeezed in between. Today I’m reviewing that new EP In Your Face! which was released by Mom’s Cellar Dwellers.

The EP begins with the title track In Your Face. This opening song is a great introduction of what to expect from Radio Blast – fast buzzing guitars, pounding drums and wonderfully snotty vocals. In true Ramonescore fashion, it’s brilliantly simple with a blunt and to the point style that allows the song to get stuck in your head. There’s also a great cameo from Rev. Norb of Boris The Sprinkler doing a voiceover that I thought was fantastic. The second song is named She’s A Cannibal. It’s a super serious and deep song about getting invited over to a girl’s house and realising too late that she’s quite partial to eating people. This is a powerful song that I found deeply moving. It also put a massive smile on my face and I quickly found myself singing along and having a little dance on my chair whilst listening and reviewing.

Radio Blast released the third song Boy With The Six Pack as a single in the build up of the release of In Your Face! The song is actually quite a sad song about being young and feeling the pressure of everyone’s high expectations, in this case being the high school quarterback and everyone counting on you to win the big game. These expectations eventually lead to the quarterback becoming depressed, staying in his basement and not wanting to come out. The final track is titled Teddy. This is another song that references sport, this time ice hockey. I must admit that 99% of my knowledge of ice hockey comes from watching The Mighty Ducks (best trilogy ever) so I’m not sure I get all the references but that didn’t stop me really enjoying the song. Radio Blast have a great skill in writing simple pop punk tunes that are incredibly infectious. I love it.

In Your Face! is a great showcase of a new band playing homage to a much loved genre of music. I feel like Ramonescore is becoming a more and more niche genre (particularly in the UK) so it’s always fantastic to discover new bands still keeping the genre alive.

Stream and download In Your Face! on Bandcamp here.

Like Radio Blast on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Album Review: I Am Not Me by Out Of Love

Earlier this year, before the world broke, I was alerted to this new band who had released their debut single before playing any shows. The band was London-based Out Of Love and the song was S.L.U.M.P. From that first listen it was clear that this was a band that had a massive upside and I was excited to see what came next. What did come next was a couple more singles and then getting signed to Venn Records to release their first EP I Am Not Me. All of this without even getting to play a gig yet.

I Am Not Me begins with the aforementioned S.L.U.M.P. This song is an anthem for anyone in their mid-twenties, or even thirties, who isn’t where society often dictates they should be at this stage of their lives. This is a big melodic punk song with some fantastic pop sensibilities. The song is packed with hooks that will have your attention immediately and quickly find a home in your memory. The guitars on the track have this great whirly, grungey, dirty quality to them that contrasts the cleaner vocals brilliantly. When the chorus hits, and the gang vocals come in, there is an added intensity that shows off the band’s annoyance at not being judged very nicely. Up next is the EP’s title track I Am Not Me. The song starts slowly, with the track giving off an atmospheric vibe before exploding into life for the chorus. The track, which you might have worked out from the title, is about not feeling yourself, struggling mentally but actually enjoying how it feels. The chorus is simple, catchy and incredibly cathartic. It will earn some massive sing-alongs.

All Grown Up is a shorter song (less than 90 seconds long) that really brings up the tempo. When I first listened to the song I was swiftly reminded of Brighton punks Gnarwolves. Wasting no time it getting started, the song burst into life immediately as the band sing about growing up, not fitting in and not wanting to turn into people that they think are boring. The song, in essence, finishes after about forty five seconds before shifting into a really long and atmospheric outro that then leads into the final song, My Perfect World. The track ensures that I Am Not Me concludes in a positive and hopeful manner as Out Of Love sing about accepting everyone and living in a peaceful community. You know, the way the world should be! I loved the ending of the song in particular as they sing “this is my world and you’re all invited, no borders, no boundaries, no guns and no fighting” and then song ends abruptly leaving the final message of the track in your mind. Quite a powerful way to conclude a fantastic debut EP.

If COVID-19 hadn’t been a thing this year then I truly believe Out Of Love would be a band on the lips of every punk fan in the UK. I Am Not Me showcases a band with an incredible upside and are certainly going to find themselves playing some huge shows whenever shows are allowed to happen again. In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with playing this EP over and over again. Get on this quickly so you can be that smug person who says I knew of them way back when. Everyone loves that person.

Stream and download I Am Not Me on Bandcamp here.

Like Out Of Love on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Album Review: Night Terrors by Ode To Sleep

In July, two piece riot grrrl act Ode To Sleep released their debut EP Night Terrors on INiiT Records. Having previously been sent one of the tracks for the CPRW Records Music Venue Trust compilation, I was keen to check out some more songs from the band. Ode To Sleep consist of Liz Hayward (vocals and bass) and Jade O’Leary (vocals and drums).

Night Terrors begins with Call To Action. The track starts out with a pounding drum beat and some distorted bass guitar before some fantastic melodic vocals come in. It’s clear to see that Ode To Sleep are not worried about taking a few risks and going off in different directions with their sound as the song switches between the melodic sound and a more intense sound. There’s a great deal of positivity that comes from the track, as the band’s singer Liz sings “find your reason to believe in something beautiful, are you willing to break the system to save us all.” The song is certainly empowering. Captive Audience was the first Ode To Sleep track I got to hear due to its inclusion on our compilation. There’s a grungey feel to the song along with some bouncey and poppy, fast paced vocals. I would have never have believed that these two styles would have worked so well before listening to Captive Audience but Ode To Sleep have proved me wrong.

The third song is named Everything Is Better. The track has a lengthy introduction that leads wonderfully into some more fast paced vocals. The way in which Liz delivers the vocals really capture your attention and makes you want to listen and absorb each and every word. As the song goes on, the passion in Liz’s vocals grows and really begins to move you. The final song on Night Terrors is titled Ethical Negligence. Ensuring that the EP finishes with a bang and also having you itching for more from Ode To Sleep, this is a song that starts abruptly but grows more and more as it goes on. Liz also saves their best vocal performance for this final track, doing a magnificent job showcasing a very impressive range. The track is about living your life as ethically as possible and how it’s important to make sure you’re doing the right thing rather than just blaming the rich – though they should be held accountable as well.

This is a very strong debut EP from Ode To Sleep. Touching on a range of subjects from human and animal rights, as well as mental health and environmental issues, they are a band with a lot to say. Liz and Jade have only been together as a band since October 2019 and are already showing a huge amount of promise. One to watch.

Stream and download Night Terrors on Bandcamp here.

Like Ode To Sleep on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Album Review: When The Day Is Done by Territories (by Chris Bishton)

Members of Territories have been playing together for many years. Although the band only formed in 2015, they came out of Canadian street-punk band Knucklehead when they decided they weren't done playing together after they split. They needed a rename in order to reflect the new direction – fiercely melodic, anthemic punk – that they were now set to play.

It led to the new band and now this 10", six song EP When The Day Is Done – the latest release as Territories after their S/T debut album in 2018, along with a few follow up singles.

The first song is Second Son. There's some Bouncing Souls influence in there, obviously always a good thing, but then there's also evidence of their street-punk sound from their Knucklehead days. It's catchy and energetic and picks up perfectly from where the debut album left us.

The second track is Defender. This was always a favourite song of theirs for me. It was already released as one of the aforementioned singles last year, so I'm already familiar with it and hearing it again, it sounds so good. The song is soft, but still fast and gritty enough to have that punk edge with singalong harmonies. SOS then wraps up the first side.

The first song on the second side is The Lockdown. You'd obviously be forgiven if you assumed this was going to be about COVID and the associated closure of swathes of shops, businesses, music venues etc. But it's not. It's about the drills kids do when there's a mass shooting at a school and a call to end gun violence.

It's a chilling subject and a brilliant song. For me, it has a kind of Americana vibe to it, something that seems appropriate since most associate mass shooting tragedies with the US. There's clear lyrics here, painting a picture of kids being told to stay away from windows, turn off sound from phones and not make any noise etc. The repeated line "the kids say no, the lockdown's gotta go" remains in my head hours after listening to it.

The penultimate track is Welcome Home. Lots of harmonies and opportunities for singalongs in this, before concluding with Quit This City, another I'm already familiar with as it was previously released as a single. It's a cracking way to end, not least as it's about getting away and having a new start, before it's too late – a subject so many of my friends have mused about these last few months since lockdown (the COVID one, not the mass shooting one).

They haven't released an enormous amount of stuff because they're still a pretty new band, but I really love Territories and this EP is as good as everything before. I hope the inclusion of a few songs that had already been released was just to bring some of their more recent songs together. Even more so, I hope it means they've got more songs in them that will result in a new LP sometime soon. I've got my fingers crossed.

Stream and download When The Day Is Done on Bandcamp here.

Like Territories on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.