Friday, 30 October 2020

CPRW Playlist: October 2020

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

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Album Review: No Slow TempOs by Youth On Drugs

It seems a little while since I featured a band from Canada on CPRW. Today we’re reviewing Hamilton, Ontario’s Youth On Drugs. The pop punk act released their first full length album in April. Titled No Slow TempOs, the album features fourteen songs with only two being over two minutes in length. Completely my kind of thing. Fast and fun pop punk music.

The album begins with The Youth On Drugs Officially Licensed Theme Song. This serves as an introduction of what to expect from Youth On Drugs. It builds up with guitar, bass, drums and synth before some gang vocals come in proclaiming “we are the Youth On Drugs, we don’t give any fucks.” It’s really simplistic and a bit silly but I honestly couldn’t care less as it’s a lot of fun and got me pumped for what more is to come from the album. The second track is titled Life Always Works Out… Usually. The song starts out, unsurprisingly (given the album’s title), in an up tempo manner. The song is about trying to get by in life despite the hurdles that get placed in your way. The drums really drive the song forward, giving it a powerful back beat with the rest of the instruments giving the song a chaotic edge which I thought was great. The final gang vocals of “I can’t afford to live here anymore” give the track some urgency and help you care about what the band are saying. I think Home Throne is a song about how your toilet is the only one that you want to use. Obviously this is a silly subject but it did make me smile. This is the sort of song that you’ll find yourself singing drunkenly with your pals at a party.

Doug Ford Is The Worst Drug Dealer I’ve Ever Had is the fourth song on the album. There’s a more aggressive nature to this song so I’m guessing Doug Ford really isn’t popular with the guys in Youth On Drugs. The song has a stop-start style in its beginning before reaching a more melodic chorus that’s crying out to be sung along too. Next is Not Over You which is a song about not being over a person you were in a relationship with. Again, this is a simple but fun song that will quickly find a place in your head. The use of gang vocals and harmonies really gives the song a fuller sound that really helps with getting people to want to shout along with Youth On Drugs. It’s also one of the more relatable songs on the album as everyone has been in a relationship that’s ended before they were ready for it to end. Dumb Brain is one of the tracks that is longer than two minutes long. This allows for a longer introduction with each instrument slowly coming in before the vocals begin. I like how this shows a bit of a different side of Youth On Drugs and allows some musicianship to shine through. Dumb Brain is about the frustration of feeling like you can’t do anything right, I’m sure we’ve all been there, and blaming it on yourself. I’ll Never Fall In Love brings us to the halfway point of the album. It’s a high energy song that got me pumped and ready for a fun time. The track is about being in a bad relationship and wanting to get out of it. So it’s quite a sad song but it’s also a great time. If I were in charge of PR for the band then this would have been one of the songs I would have picked to be a single before the album’s release.

The second half of No Slow TempOs begins with Just Not Good (For Each Other). Getting off to a rambunctious start, it’s the drums that drives the song forward along with providing a strong spine for the rest of the band to play off. The synth in particular feels playful on the track. The track itself is about realising that your relationship brings out the worst in you and your partner and you’d be better off separated. During the second half of the song the vocals become more intense and desperate, adding a great extra element to the track. Season’s Greetings is a twenty five second song that finishes as quickly as it starts. It’s a bit nonsensical but keeps the energy of the album going strongly. Do You Wanna Start A Band? is one of the more conventional pop punk tracks. The vocals really remind me of Matt Hart of Squirtgun which I loved. The song has a longer intro compared to the majority of Youth In Drugs songs and has a very upbeat feeling to it. I loved how the tempo increases as the song goes on and by the final couple of lines even the singer feels as if they’re getting out of breath. The song is about starting a band with your friends and thinking about how much fun it could be. There’s an innocence to this song that hasn’t really featured throughout the album and it enables a fresher feeling. Babe Bus Driver was released as a single by the band before the album’s release. This is a frantic song that doesn’t let up at all. Obviously this is a song about a bus driver that the band find attractive. Musically this feels like one of the most aggressive songs on the album and at times it feels as if they instruments drown out the vocals slightly. I imagine this is a fun song to see played live because of its frantic style. It’s only one minute and thirteen seconds long but I imagine I’ll need a sit down after seeing it live.

No Use To You is a sadder song about feeling like you’re not good enough. Despite the sad theme of the song it’s got an upbeat sound that encourages shouting along. It’s a song I’m sure people will relate to so hopefully they could find some form in catharsis in the song. I’m a big fan of songs that cover a topic that isn’t positive and turn it into a bit of anthem. The penultimate track is the brilliant I Wanna Be An Alien. Featuring some incredibly catchy lyrics, harmonies and some great gang vocals, this song was another big favourite of mine. The track is about – you guessed it – wanting to be an alien. In particular it’s about wanting to escape from the place you’re in and getting lost somewhere else. I can see a really silly music video being made for this track complete with a green screen, inflatable alien and a cardboard rocket ship. If Youth On Drugs are reading this and make this video I promise to make it our Video Of The Week. Please make it. The final song on No Slow TempOs is titled Not Yourself. I bang on a lot about albums ending with big epic songs and I have to admit that I didn’t really expect it from Youth On Drugs. I was extremely wrong and they really delivered. The track begins with a repetitive “no you’re not yourself, no you’re not” that I couldn’t help but sing along with before the verse comes in. The song is about trying to cover up the things that are wrong with you when it’s clear to your friends that you’re not doing okay. It’s always important to talk about mental health so I loved that Youth On Drugs decided to tackle the subject. It’s another extremely cathartic song and one that I really hope to enjoy live one day.

I really enjoyed No Slow TempOs. I love fast and fun pop punk music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Youth On Drugs seems to be quite a new band on the scene and I will certainly be keeping a keen eye on their development. They remind me slightly of Pkew Pkew Pkew and they’ve done alright for themselves. Hopefully Youth On Drugs can find similar success.

Stream and download No Slow TempOs on Bandcamp here.

Like Youth On Drugs on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Album Review: Mob Neutrality by The Brass

The Brass are a five piece melodic hardcore band from Portland, Oregon. Consisting of Matt Forbes on lead vocals, Ryan Brodie and Brander Mercer on guitars, Adam Martin on bass and Neil Bryan on drums, the band released their latest EP Mob Neutrality in August. After some very positive recommendations from friends I decided to check it out.

Mob Neutrality opens with Audience. Starting out with a rolling drumbeat, the song wastes little time in getting to the real meat of the song. Forbes’ vocals are the thing that struck me first, they have a raspy and powerful quality that give the band some urgency to their sound. The guitars and drums give the track its energy and the two combined create a magnificent sound. Audience is about looking back at your past and thinking about how the things you did then affect what happens in the present. Great Dying has a longer introduction which does a great job of building towards the vocals. When the vocals do begin there’s a feeling of anger in Forbes’ voice that really made my ears prick. I wanted to know where this would go. I really enjoyed the switch to a more melodic chorus, allowing the track to really get into your head. It also allowed the heavier sounding verses to have more of an impact. The track looks at how generations have not looked after the world and how it will affect people in the future. The third track, Post Election Day, was released as a single before Mob Neutrality’s release. Listening to the song it’s clear to see why. The opening hey! hey! hey!s welcome you into the song and immediately make you feel involved. The song sets itself up to be shouted along to by a passionate crowd in a sweaty bar or basement. Post Election Day is about being angry and upset after the election and the disbelief that people wouldn’t have voted for the winner. I would assume that this song is a direct response to the fact that Trump got elected and how hard it is to fathom that this happened.

The fourth song, No Avail, starts with a nice little bass line from Martin that leads us nicely to a mid tempo song about keeping trying to push forward despite all of the trials and tribulations that life throws at you. This song really allows the guitars to stand out and there’s some serious shredding going on. Think A Wilhelm Scream or, in the UK, Darko and you’ll get what I mean. The song is packed with hooks that really draw you in and will have you wanting to listen over and over again. Don’t Hit Send is the first track on the EP that plays around with its tempo. This really helps keep the listener listening intently to Mob Neutrality. I really like the subject that The Brass address on this song. It’s about thinking through the messages you send online and how easy it is to write something in the heat of the moment and then regret it afterwards. Since the creation of the Internet and social media it’s become too easy to be offensive and be able to hide behind your keyboard and it creates a horrible world for everyone. The penultimate track is named The Sibling’s Song. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is a deeply personal song about protecting a loved one. It certainly feels like the most emotional song and, at times, you can hear some hurt in Forbes’ vocals. I enjoyed the use of gang vocals and harmonies during the song, these added an extra level of emotion to the song. It’s something I wish the band had done more throughout the EP. The final song is Citizen You. As with all good releases, the band save one of the most powerful songs for last – ensuring that Mob Neutrality ends with a bang. After a slow build that lets you know things are about to go off, it feels as if the song goes at full throttle for the majority of its duration. It leaves you breathless but in the best possible way. It’s another track that really allows for some big crowd participation and I’m always here for that. Superb way to finish the EP.

Melodic hardcore isn’t always my go to sound when picking things to review but I’m glad I was pushed towards Mob Neutrality. The undoubted highlight for me was Matt Forbes’ vocals, they really give the band their own unique sound. If you like bands that shred and gruff vocals with interesting song content then The Brass are a band you should be listening to.

Stream and download Mob Neutrality on Bandcamp here.

Like The Brass on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Album Review: For Those About To Pop! by The Yum Yums

Europe has long had a endless amount of fantastic Ramonescore pop punk acts. One I’ve been a fan of for years is Norway’s The Yum Yums who produce some of the most sugary sweet pop punk around. Earlier this year the long running band released their first album in seven years with the release of For Those About To Pop! When I realised it had been released, I couldn’t wait to listen but it has taken me far too long to get round to reviewing it. Here is that review.

The album begins with its title track, For Those About To Pop! If you’re new to The Yum Yums then this is a great introduction. It’s a song dedicated to the fans of Ramonescore pop punk that has a fantastic summer vibe. The vocals are of a higher pitch, similar to Intruder Blue from Masked Intruder, and are at times joined by some great harmonies. The second track is titled Baby Baby and starts with some crunching guitars before we move towards a higher tempo track. As you might expect from this style of music, it’s a real ear worm and you’ll be helping out with the backing in harmonies in no time at all. Unsurprisingly, a lot of songs on the album are about falling in love and relationships. It can get a bit samey but it’s kind of what you would expect from The Yum Yums. Bubblegum Baby continues the theme. The song has a throwback style with a hint of 60s pop rock and some harmonies that The Beach Boys might be proud of.

The fourth song is titled Lie To Me. The track is about telling white lies to make a person feel better about themselves and giving them an ego boost. I liked the originality of this song as I’ve never heard a band sing about this subject before but I’m sure it’s something a lot of people listening to it will relate to. Sometimes it is nice to be told little fibs that make you feel good. Up next is She’s Got Everything and it was one of the stand out songs on my first listen of For Those About To Pop! This is another hugely relatable song for anyone who’s ever been unlucky in life as it’s about meeting that special someone who, in your eyes, is perfect but not being able to be in a relationship with them. It’s one of the saddest song on the album but also one of the best. Let’s Go Crazy begins with the traditional “1-2-3-4” before launching into the song. Another more up tempo track, here The Yum Yums sing about letting go of your inhibitions and having some fun. This is a hugely fun and enjoyable song that’s great for letting off some steam and putting a big smile on your face. Can I Come Over sees the band jump back into the rock ‘n’ roll realm. It sounds like there’s also some cowbell which is interesting. The track is about feeling like an outsider and wanting to get into the party, again a really relatable song for anyone who’s felt like they’re on the outside looking in.

The second half of For Those About Top Pop sees the band break out a keyboard for the first time. Crush On You shows off a slightly different sound for The Yum Yums. The song is super simple in format but the keys do a magnificent job in giving the song a fresh feel. Crush On You is about simply that, having a crush on somebody and letting the person know. Summertime Pop is about spending your summer holidays listening to your favourite music and having a wonderful time. It feels like there is a bit of irony in the song. It plays like the sort of song you’d listen to on a summer road trip for some time away but it’s about staying home. It’s a faster song that stands out amongst some of the other songs on the album. The tempo is increased further on Say You’ll Be Mine and we’re really in Ramones territory here. There is a brilliant mix of three chord pop punk and Beach Boys here with some frankly incredibly harmonies and 60s rock ’n’ roll. Imagine The Queers but with less of a snarl. This was another favourite of mine on the album; I loved the energy that The Yum Yums have on this track. The eleventh song, Let’s Worry About Tomorrow, has a more serious and darker tone to anything we’ve heard previously. It’s about trying to live in the moment and not worrying about the future. This more serious sound came as a surprise and gave the band a different dimension after ten fun and breezy pop songs.

First Move sees the band revert back to their fun pop punk sound. I can fully see this song appearing on a romantic comedy flick at some point. It’s so infectious and catchy and I can really imagine the montage with the hot young stars of today being awkward around each other and trying to make the first move with each other. I like when songs create imagery. The penultimate song is titled The Kind Of Girl. This is classic Yum Yums. It’s about having the girl you think is perfect for you and living with the thought that someday she will find someone better and break your heart. It seems as if the band are saving their sadder tracks for the end of the album. It is a sad song but also another that’s probably so relatable for a lot of people, I’m sure we’ve all had moments of self doubt in relationships at some point in our lives. The fourteenth and final song is Can’t Get Enough Of Your Lovin’. Finishing the album on a happier note, this track is about being infatuated with your loved one. There’s a classic rock feel to the song that ensures you’ll be tapping your toes and bopping your head along to the track. The song has a fun big finale that guarantees the track and the album ends with a bang. I loved the placement of the song on the album. The entire album is super infectious and as soon as I finished listening to it I had to put it on again.

For Those About To Pop! is one of the best pop records I’ve heard in years. It’s not something for the hardcore punk rockers but if you love fun, (for the most part) happy songs that make you smile, get stuck in your head and have you doing your best boogie, then this is an album I really recommend you check out.

Stream and download For Those About To Pop! on Bandcamp here.

Like The Yum Yums on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Album Review: Blue Hearts by Bob Mould (by Chris Bishton)

By my reckoning, Blue Hearts is Bob Mould's thirteenth solo album. That's more than the combined output of Hüsker Dü and Sugar. It also comes just over a year after his last album, Sunshine Rock, was released and is his fifth in the last eight years. By any measure, that's pretty bloody prolific. So, does another album mean his standards have dropped? Not a chance! In fact, I say this new one is Mould's best in those last eight years.

With Blue Hearts, Mould is clearly fired up. I've always said that of all the bands I've seen live, throughout both my youth and adulthood, Bob Mould is consistently and without doubt the loudest of them all. Now, with this new album it's like he wants to inject that fabulous, ear ringing sensation directly into my brain. It's an album stacked with raging, passionate and angry songs with the familiar socio and political commentary we'd expect. Overall there's 14 tracks and only one of them is longer than three minutes. It demands to be played loud and it demands that you pay attention. Mould certain holds firm to his punk roots with this one.

Having said all of that, the first song is nothing like that! Heart On My Sleeve is an acoustic track. For a moment I think my stylus is knackered or the record is defective because, much as I love my vinyl, there's almost too much crackle on this. But I quickly realise this is part of the recording, almost as if it's intended to sound analogue. However, it isn't what I would call a typically beautiful acoustic punk song. Rather, it's haunting, referencing everything from climate change to broken government and he then sings "we're going to war, we're going to die." Whatever you do, don't put this one on your Christmas morning playlist.

From here on though, he cranks it up. Next Generation is an absolute blast. It's got a Hüsker Dü-esque zing to it and sets you up for the core of the album that follows.

Sadly, American Crisis could be about anything – George Floyd, the rise of far right, just anything the Trump administration says or does or the coronavirus. "Wake up everyday to see a nation in flames," he sings, "world turning darker everyday in a fucked up USA." Straight up, cataclysmic, matter of fact punk rock commentary, from a man that was singing about a US administration's mishandling of another health crisis with Hüsker Dü back in the 80s when Reagan refused to accept the threat, importance and even the existence of AIDs. "Never thought I'd see this bullshit again, to come of age in the 80s was bad enough," he screams. It's so depressing he's able to draw these parallels decades apart, but it's the best and most passionate track on the album.

Fireball follows and is another really punchy song with Hüsker Dü vibes, but the album then seems to pause for breath with Forecast Of Rain. It's sung emotionally, is slower and thoughtful. But, this direction is short lived. When You Left and Siberian Butterfly come next, cranking up the pace and fervour again. I particularly like the latter, Siberian Butterfly – a singalong song if ever I've heard one!

There are a couple of moderately slower songs as the album draws to a close, but they're still punctuated with bangers like Racing To The End, Password To My Soul and Little Pieces, before it finishes with The Ocean – a longer song that starts sedately enough before that tranquility is shattered by crashing guitars and feedback.

This really is Mould's best album for a while. That's not to say his others have been duds either! I always told myself that the day Riot Fest pulled off another coup by getting Hüsker Dü to reform would be the day for me to cross the Atlantic to go to that festival. That, sadly, can now never happen, but for me the next best thing will be getting to see him perform these new songs mixed in with all his previous classics. Blue Hearts is fast and furious, with echoes of Candy Apple Grey era Hüsker Dü. I love it and, if you're a fan of those previous high standards, you'll love it too.

Stream and download Blue Hearts Bandcamp here.

Like Bob Mould on Facebook here.

This review was written by Chris Bishton.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Album Review: Attention Economy by Launch Control

Reading three-piece Launch Control have recently released a brand new EP named Attention Economy and it’s really good. To be honest that should be enough for you to go and check it out but, if you need to know more, read below.

The five track EP begins with Zombigots. I was quite surprised when the song started acoustically. This quieter sound really made me listen to the lyrics of the track. It’s not long before the song switches to full band however. I liked the contrast of the sombre acoustic beginning and the angry full band conclusion. The track is about how the UK is full of older, bigoted people and how it’s time for an uprising to make a change. The song is just over a minute long but packs in a lot in to start the EP brilliantly. The second song is the EP’s title track, Attention Economy. I was immediately struck by the delivery of the opening lines, with just the vocals delivered in a punchy way and some drums before some melodic guitar joins in. The way the vocals are delivered throughout the entire EP really interested me, there’s a rap-like style to them that gives Launch Control a different sound to any of their peers in the melodic skate punk scene. The song takes aim at the way in which products are advertised online and how the Internet has algorithms to show you things that it has learnt you like form searches. It’s really scary how much data companies have about you and this song brings that to light.

Cult Of Ignorance starts in more of a traditional melodic punk style. It has me thinking of a less raspy Rise Against and I love that. As the track progresses, the band get a bit more experiment with some additional synths giving the song a wonderful atmospheric quality. I’m pretty sure they also use the same sound effect that the Transformers use when they transform. I really hope that’s true. The track is about those fine folk (sarcasm) who spew out their uninformed, uneducated views and won’t listen when people try and retort with their own side of an argument. The penultimate song is titled Paper Tiger. Paper Tiger is about the person who seems to be the most powerful not being as strong as they think and the people beneath them coming to take them down. Again, Launch Control are not afraid to add different sounds and styles into their music, making them so engaging. One slight negative about the song is that I felt that the final moments of the song were crying out for some gang vocals, but to be fair I love gang vocals in every song. The final track is the five minute long Marketing For Martyrs. Sometimes I feel like I overuse the word epic when describing songs but I can’t think of a word that fits this song better. This is an emotional and powerful song that truly takes you on a journey. The track begins with what’s basically a spoken word section, before moving to uptempo melodic punk before finishing with what I can best describe as a hip hop/rap style. It’s incredible how Launch Control have moulded these styles together so well. If I could only pick one song from this EP to see live it’s Marketing For Martyrs. It’s such an impressive song and the perfect ending.

Despite being aware of Launch Control for a couple of years now, this is the first time I’ve given them a proper listen and I’m so impressed. What I loved was how fresh they sound compared to a lot of bands in their genre. If you, like me, are finding the melodic skate punk style a bit stale then you really need to check out Attention Economy.

Stream and download Attention Economy on Bandcamp here.

Like Launch Control on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Album Review: First Day by Jerks!

I discovered West Virginian pop punk band Jerks! on a recent Bandcamp Discovery binge (my favourite thing to do). I didn’t find much I liked that day but Jerks! put a massive smile on my face as I’m a sucker for good pop punk. Way back in February, which after all that’s happened this year feels like a lifetime ago, they released their debut EP First Day on Punk & Disorderly Records. Here’s what I thought about it.

The first track on the EP is I Don’t Care which the band also released as a single in 2019. It’s an upbeat and energetic song about getting out of a relationship and acting in a destructive way to get over it. Truth be told, this is your standard pop punk sound – it certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel but (pardon the pun) I don’t care because it’s a lot of fun. The tempo is fantastic and it is really catchy. I like energy and I love to sing along to a song so this is great. Up next is Blabbermouth which has a slightly more serious tone. It’s such a contrasting sound to I Don’t Care and shows that Jerks! aren’t just one trick ponies. I enjoyed the way the guitars are crunchy at the beginning and how they build towards a more melodic vocal style. The use of gang vocals on the chorus is a particular highlight of mine and it encourages some great crowd participation, when that can be a thing again. Lead sing KC also shows some great emotion in the track.

The third song is the fifty-five second long GFN. I was surprised to find a short, acoustic song at this stage of the EP. At first I thought it kind of killed the EP’s momentum a little bit but in fact it leads nicely into the fourth song. GFN, which stands for Good Fucking Night, is an extremely sad song about someone who is struggling with mental illness on an emotional night. It leads into Anywhere To Go which starts in an abrupt manner. The band really bring the pace and energy back up on this track. It continues along the theme of mental health and wanting to be somewhere that you’re not needed and can just be. Sometimes all you need is to be with people who don’t expect anything from you. These two songs could be somewhat cathartic for anyone going through similar things. With the two songs sounding so different it really gives a feeling of going through the highs and lows of mental health.

The penultimate song is titled Our Ex. On this song Jerks! return to the pop punk style with some repetitive choruses and plenty of “whoa-ohs”. The band do throw in some little surprises to keep the sound fresh including a raw emo scream and a short but sweet ska beat. The track continues the theme of mental health and how it feels like your mind is deteriorating. I enjoyed the joyfulness of the track despite its sad nature. It will make it easier for people going through similar things to realise they are not alone. Last up is You’re So Cool, Brewster. The opening guitar riff felt almost like an alarm going off to signify that this song is going to be a big one. The short structure of the lyrics gives it the feeling of being a big sing-along and I loved it. The song is about trying to reconnect with someone who doesn’t want to and ultimately wishing them well. Jerks! finish the EP with my favourite song of theirs. It’s great.

First Day is a great debut release from Jerks! It shows a band not afraid to play around with their sound and also one that doesn’t shy away from tackling some heavy subjects. There’s a lot of potential here and I’m interested in seeing what they do next.

Stream and download First Day on Bandcamp here.

Like Jerks! on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Album Review: Life, Death And Everything In Between by Stöj Snak (by Emma Prew)

Back in 2016, when I was still new to review writing, Colin sent me an album he’d received from TNS Records that he thought I would enjoy because it was ‘folky’ – folk punk being my thing. That album was the debut full-length from Danish four-piece Stöj Snak titled ScreamerSongwriter – I’d never heard of the band before, nor front person Niels Højgaard Sørensen’s previous melodic hardcore band Mighty Midgets at the time, but I did enjoy the album. I’m reluctant to re-read my 2016 review (or link it here – although you can quite easily find it, if you wished to) for fear of it not being up to scratch with my current review writing nor truly reflecting just how much I have come to love ScreamerSongwriter – so much so that I would consider it to be in my top albums of all time. That initial review also wouldn’t have captured how Stöj Snak have grown to be one of my most favourite artists – not to mention live performers.

Since ScreamSongwriter, Stöj Snak have released two EPs – 1000 Daisies in 2018 and a split with Speed Dinosaurs titled The Mass Extinction Split last year – and several video game soundtracks (I highly recommend checking out the game Figment, it’s very good). All of the above have been excellent but, of course, what I’ve been eagerly awaiting above all else is Stöj Snak’s second full-length album. The wait was finally over towards the end of September when Life, Death And Everything In Between appeared in the CPRW inbox and I did a happy dance before preparing myself to listen to what I’d already proclaimed to be my most-anticipated album of 2020. 

For Life, Death And Everything In Between, Niels is joined by Rasmus Glassau Clausen, Jeppe Nørgaard, Jesper Olsen – who each play quite a range of instruments – as well as a number of other guest musicians and vocalists.

The album is out on the 23rd of October on 5FeetUnder Records, TNS Records and Make That A Take Records. Please read on to find out just why you should listen to it as soon as you can! In short: It. Did. Not. Disappoint. (My review, however, is far from short so apologies in advance.)

Life, Death And Everything In Between begins slowly and calmly with Reasons To Smile. The track is almost entirely acapella with just some gentle organ playing starting over half way through the short song. It’s a beautifully distinct opening track that really grabs the listener’s attention and allows us to focus on every word that Niels is singing. Reasons To Smile is a personal song written for Niels’ child and is about acknowledging that the world is a pretty horrible place – ‘I know this world is not a place I would want to be born into’ – but hoping that they can live the happiest life possible despite this and ‘find reasons to smile’. It’s a perfect introduction to the album that leads us nicely into track number two – Trees. I knew I was going to really like this song, just from its title, before I had even heard it for the first time – hitting play, it did not let me down. Starting out with a drum roll and some fast paced strums of guitar, it’s clear from the outset that this is going to be a more raucous Stöj Snak tune. When the vocals come in, Niels’ voice has got that wonderful slightly raw quality that we know and love from previous Stöj Snak releases, without being too far down the screamy end of the scale. Trees is a wonderfully catchy song both in its lyrical content and melodies – I particularly love Jeppe’s subtle double bass part that sits comfortably behind the swift guitar strumming. Rather than literally being about trees, the song describes us humans as being like trees without roots to hold us down, trying to do the right thing and vote for the change we want to see in the world and our lives but being ‘blown apart when a storm comes around’. The (Not So) Great Depression fades in with the question ‘How do we escape, How do we escape, How do we escape, This not so great depression?’ before the whole band comes in full force, quickly matching and then surpassing the tempo of the previous track. As you might be able to tell from the title of the track, The (Not So) Great Depression is about how many of us find ourselves suffering with some form of depression in modern life and the track questions why this might be. The lines that struck me the most – although, of course, Niels is a master lyricist so it’s all gold – are ‘Is it the way you're disconnected from nature and apathy replaced your will to fight, Or how bright screens and gadgets steal your attention and all your spare time just passes by?’ The song has some wonderful transitions from fast paced verses with loud vocals to slower more muted sections before ending with full on screaming.

The tone changes completely for the fourth song on Life, Death And Everything In Between. Bliss Point was released in hand drawn and animated lyric video format in mid-September and, if you haven’t already seen it, then I highly recommend you go and watch it now. The video itself is captivating and is a wonderful accompaniment to a truly beautiful song. Opening with a steady finger picked guitar riff and subtle synth part before some distinct harmonica playing and the rest of the band come in, Bliss Point is one of the more mellow sounding songs on the album but that is definitely not a bad thing. It’s also one of the longer songs on the album, clocking in at 6 minutes, but it never feels too long. The song builds and builds throughout its duration with the real highlight coming well over half way through the song as Niels declares ‘I don’t want to leave, Let’s live while we’re still breathing, I don’t want to leave, And dream before we fall asleep’. I can’t express how much I want to sing along to that at a Stöj Snak live show one day. Hopefully I can. Next up is Wants/Needs which opens with a surprise trumpet part (a guest appearance from Sara Harrington) and instantly reminds me of long-standing folk punks Days N Daze. When the vocals and the rest of the band come in however, I soon forget any comparisons as this is classic lively Stöj Snak. I also want to refer to the song as joyful although I know that that’s not necessarily reflected in all of the lyrical content. Wants/Needs is about feeling like you want certain, often material, things even if those things aren’t what really matters in life. I just can’t help but smile and sing along to ‘Sometimes what you want are not the things you need, Sometimes what you want are not the things you need, While you fall, I’m hanging here right above you, Pressing on, I'm hanging here right above you, Hoping someone’s there to catch you.’ Sensible Utility wastes no time in getting going and soon confronts the listener with a thought-provoking and, I’m sure, very relatable subject matter. Niels sings of seeing a child suffering in poverty on a charity advertisement on the TV before uncomfortably turning it off as well as feeling uneasy when passing a homeless man on the street. The chorus asks ‘We’ve got to fucking help them, don’t we? What kind of humans are we if we don't? We got to fucking help them, don’t we?’ before coming to the conclusion ‘But we can't save the whole world on our own’. It’s true but I think – and I think what Stöj Snak are trying to say is – that you can always try to be a better, kinder person and make a positive impact on the world, however small that impact may be.

Kicking off immediately with a melodic bass line, rhythmic guitar strums and percussion, This Condition tackles similar themes to The (Not So) Great Depression although this time it feels more personal. Niels sings of having feelings of melancholy despite being ‘better off than most’ and having been brought up with ‘food, education and toys’ but feeling like because, at least on the outside, your life appears to be great, you cannot complain or feel sad. I know some listeners will take great comfort in these lyrics and will also enjoy the cathartic singalong that takes place towards the end of the track – ‘Maybe these songs will never really matter, But it matters that we try, First step to change is seeing a pattern, That we can break if we rise, The future belongs to those holding on, When you sing along, I'm holding on, Na na na (etc.), Let’s sing along!’ The eighth song of Life, Death And Everything In Between, Drink From The Well, is one that I was already well acquainted with due to its inclusion on 2019’s Mass Extinction Split. It’s an upbeat, bouncy and super catchy tune that certainly doesn’t sound out of place on the record so I have no complaints about its inclusion. The song is one that’s more obviously about the consequences of climate change than perhaps anything else on the album but the idea that it will not have the an impact on us necessarily but our children and future generations instead is a theme that runs throughout the album. ‘We've poisoned the waters and ruined the crops so what do we say our kids turn to us, And ask us to justify all this mess – they will reap what we saw.’ The review pack for this album helpfully includes not just lyrics but also which instruments appear on which song, and who plays them, so I’ve learnt that the sort of twanging instrument throughout Drink From The Well is a jaw harp – and I love it. With its soft piano lead opening, it’s clear that Songs About Beliefs is going to be a slower track that gradually builds up throughout its duration. Like Bliss Point earlier on, this is one of the longer songs on the album. It’s also so incredibly emotional and moving, so much so that the first time I listened to it I almost teared up – probably the fact that I was driving at the time was all that was stopping me. It’s just that heartfelt and passionate. I must have listened to Life, Death And Everything In Between over twenty times before actually sitting down to review it and this song still hits home just as hard as the first time I heard it. It takes us on an incredible journey from simply feeling like everything in the world is shit to really trying to get better and do better. The whole song is a hugely cathartic experience but the crowning moment is towards its conclusion, after an impassioned harmonica performance – ‘Rise and sing, all of my fallen friends, If just for tonight, live our beliefs, Rise and sing, all of my fallen friends, Let’s be the change we want to see. Yeah, let us sing for the whole world to hear, expose our hearts, our hopes and ideas, And for once be true to ourselves and make things matter, If it mattered once to dream like this, we can make it matter now.’

As the album begins to draw to a close there’s yet another change in musical style for a minute long bluesy number titled Smoke. With a slightly more electronic feel than much of the Stöj Snak back catalogue (‘programming’ and ‘feedback’ are listed in the credits for this song), it actually wouldn’t feel out of place on one of Niels’ video games soundtracks. There’s a very dark feel to the song as Niels sings of smoke rising above the trees. Whether that smoke is the result of industry or a burning forest hardly matters as it is the same negative impact to our planet either way – ‘Ignite the world with hatred, kill till there’s nothing left to kill’. The penultimate song of the album is Fire which could easily be considered the second part of Smoke, at least in terms of its themes. However, unlike Smoke, this is the classic Stöj Snak energetic and punchy sound that we’re already familiar with. It’s also a fine combination of melodic, catchy lyrics – ‘Fight fire with water if you really want to put it out’ – and screaming vocal moments. The song is about how humans are so stuck in our ways, fighting wars and causing destruction, that there’s not even a valid reason for it anymore. As you can probably imagine, it’s a pretty angry sounding song, best displayed in the bridge – ‘They prosper from division so they want you to hate them, But fuck all the weapons and fuck all this hatred, If your beliefs are worth killing for then set an example and start with yourself, Stop killing people and go to hell.’ Life, Death And Everything In Between has been quite the journey so far but it’s not over until we take in its epic nearly 11 minute long album closing title track. Starting with clear vocals and stripped back instrumentation of only guitars, even from the beginning of this song it feels like the ultimate culmination of everything that’s come before it and its initial simplicity seems to echo the album’s opening track. I can’t even begin to quote and analyse the lyrics of most of this song – the lyric sheet I have goes over two pages – but it really does feel like Niels covers life, death… and everything in between. Like the other slower tracks on the album, this closing track has a great sense of building throughout, complete with a harmonica solo around the 6 minute point – I honestly love a harmonica solo more than a guitar solo. It’s the last two minutes of the song that really pull on your heartstrings as Niels passionately sings ‘I hope you'll dance till you drop, Sing back at the madness, Let the tune lift you up, Carry you on so you keep on smiling, I hope you'll dance till you drop, Punch holes through the sadness, Give all you’ve got, When shadows fall, burn like a fire, Burn like a fire. I hope you'll dance till you drop, Bring light to the darkness, But when the sun comes back up, Take a brief break to hear the silence.’ Honestly, it’s superb. What an incredible way to finish an album.

I went into this review of Life, Death And Everything In Between with high hopes but Stöj Snak have completely blown all of my expectations out of the water. It may have been four years since they released their last album but you can really tell that every single detail has been considered here. From start to finish, this album is a masterpiece and I’ll be raving about it for week, months and years to come.

You can stream Bliss Point and Fire and pre-order Life, Death And Everything In Between (plus other goodies) on Bandcamp here.

Like Stöj Snak on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Album Review: Apathy Cycle by Apathy Cycle

Apathy Cycle are a four piece punk rock band from California who formed in 2009. Featuring members of bands such as Intro5pect, Broken Society and Leftöver Crack, the band have previously released two EPs, the last was in 2014. Then back in April, after six years, the band released a self-titled full-length. This is how I first came to find them. I gave it a listen because I enjoyed the artwork and was pleasantly surprised by the mix of skate punk, hardcore and ska that the band play. I had to delve further into the album. 

The album starts with a short intro that sounds like a futuristic flatline before the second song Premium Healthscare abruptly starts. Apathy Cycle pull no punches immediately, really giving a feel of what to expect from the entire album. It’s a hard hitting skate punk song about the American healthcare system and how it’s run in a way where they find ways to exploit sick people to make more money. I’m equally sad and disgusted that this is how the system works in the USA – it’s not right. The next song is titled Rise and begins with cries of “unity, unity” before a strong bass line moves us forward. The track is about coming together in your community and taking back what the powers that be have taken from you. Musically the song goes at a ferocious pace but the vocals and harmonies are packed with melody. There’s a nice moment which really caught my attention where the band briefly switch into a crusty skacore style – displaying the Leftöver Crack influence. Forgotten Genocide starts out with a ominous sounding introduction before making the switch to a skacore style. Being a massive ska kid at heart I absolutely loved this. The song makes you think you’re getting ready for a gigantic circle pit before switching things up and getting you skanking up a storm. Throughout the song it does switch between the more melodic skate punk sound and the ska which creates an amazing sound. The song itself looks at horrific moments in history that have been forgotten and how this is wrong. They make the point that if we don’t remember these atrocious moments in our past, we will repeat them in the future.

Muted Light shows the slower side of Apathy Cycle. This slower style really helps to get Apathy Cycle’s message across in the song. The song gives hope to the youth who want to be free thinkers but are told not to by their elders. Apathy Cycle encourage free thinking and spread the message that it’s right to think differently to how you’re often told you’re supposed to. The moment when the song stops completely and begins to build itself back up is perfect as it really helps to drive home the powerful message in the song. The sixth song, named Feeling Snowed In, is about being trapped by the system and not being able to do anything about it. This song really allows the band to show off some serious musicianship, some of the guitar lines in the song seriously shred and are very creative. There is one at the beginning that makes me think of a very angry surf rock sound. It shouldn’t work but it does. The song also features some great Bad Religion-esque harmonies that add another layer to the track. I Objectify has a lengthy introduction that leads to some sharp vocals to begin the song. The track looks at how social media has turned society into an army of judgemental people, whether they realise it or not, and how it’s changed our culture from empathetic and caring to one “based on fear and apathy.” There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years on the pitfalls of social media and how it affects people’s mental health which makes the song even more thought provoking.

The eighth song, Wanderlust, gets off to an energetic start that builds towards a song that’s about life on tour and feeling at home on the road. The song paints a powerful picture of what life on the road is like. There are difficult and scary times but the feeling of solidarity with your band and the moments you get to experience are ones to be cherished. The album has been very politically and socially heavy up until this point so it was nice for Apathy Cycle to freshen things up thematically on this song. Narcissists Anonymous is another Apathy Cycle song that brilliantly mixes together a host of styles to create something quite stunning. At times they are at their most ferocious and then all of a sudden they whip out what sounds like a saxophone. The track is about how people change for the worse when they get a bit of fame, success or money. I really liked this as a song subject as it’s not one you often hear and it’s sadly something that happens far too much. Critical Thinking is a fast and furious skate punk song for the most part but does occasionally dip its toes into the skacore sea. The track is about forcing yourself to question things despite the potential for arguments and fights. The band make the point that critical thinking is really all that we have in life and you have to be strong enough to voice your opinions on things. This may be me thinking way to deeply about the song but I absolutely loved the switch to ska for the line “we all just want to belong.” Ska is unity music so this is a great little Easter egg.

Trigger Warning is the name of the eleventh song on the album. Due to recent events in the USA, this song feels more relevant than ever as it’s about police brutality and how they can show prejudice when they obviously shouldn’t. As you might expect from a song covering this subject, it pulls no punches and I personally found it to be quite an emotional track. The final message on the track is “the time has come to break the wall of silence.” To me, this is Apathy Cycle proclaiming that we should not stand for this anymore and we need to speak out now more than ever. The penultimate song is titled Antonia’s Against The Wall. You have probably worked out that this songs looks at President Fart’s yearning to build a wall between America and Mexico and the band’s displeasure of that. Despite the serious subject matter, the track shows Apathy Cycle’s playful side in this full on skacore track. When I first heard it I found myself skanking around my front room and having a wonderful time. Then I took the time to sit still and read the lyrics and learnt what the song is about. The chorus in particular is powerful as the band repeatedly shout out “Antonia’s against the wall.” I feel like this would be quite the moment at a live show. The final song on the album is Schadenfreude. This is another fun sounding song to finish the album off. It’s a fast paced sing along with the serious message about people taking pleasure from someone else’s misfortune and how that shouldn’t happen. The band aren’t talking about someone tripping up a curb or slipping on some ice but taking advantage of something bad happening to someone and profiting from it. This world needs more empathy and people working with each other rather than against each other to get ahead.

I can honestly say that Apathy Cycle has released one of my favourite skate punk albums for years. I’ve often shied away from reviewing too much from the genre as I often find it boring and repetitive. This album couldn’t be further away from that statement. It’s a lot of fun and looks at a lot of very important topics. There’s also a feeling of positivity that comes from the album that says if we really want, then things can get better. If you’re a skate punk fan, or even if you’re not, then this is an album you really need to check out.

Stream and download Apathy Cycle on Bandcamp here.

Like Apathy Cycle on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Album Review: Dream Nails by Dream Nails (by Emma Prew)

Dream Nails are an all-female four-piece from London. The band was founded in 2015 by like-minded feminist activists and they’ve been successfully spreading their unapologetically political pop punk throughout the UK and Europe ever since. Their debut self-titled album was released at the end of August and, although it may seem a long time coming to fans that have been with them from the start, it has most certainly been worth the wait.

With 15 songs on its track list but a run time of around 24 minutes, I was expecting this album to be packed full of super fast, super catchy pop punk songs. Well, it is full of some pretty fast and catchy tunes, but some of those 15 tracks are actually well placed short interludes – or skits as Dream Nails have called them. The album opens with the first of these, Affirmations, and the statement ‘I am ready. I fear no one and nothing except the temptation to hold back.’ before the bouncy bass line of the second track plunges us into the album properly. Jillian is a care-free and feel-good song that brings to mind a much sunnier and warmer day than the one I’m currently experiencing at the time of writing this review. I had to ask my trusty friend Google but the Jillian in the song seems to be Jillian Michaels, American personal trainer. The song is a lively and not too serious way to kick off the album. Another short skit follows asking the question Do You Want To Go To Work? (‘no’) and Are you going to go to work? (’yes’) before leading us into an anger fuelled anthem of a song for all those that work in a corporate job that they hate. In Corporate Realness Dream Nails proclaim ‘You are not your job, Work is not your life, You are not what you must do in order to survive.’ which I can imagine will be a real comfort to many listeners. It’s also nice to hear a band acknowledge that sometimes you have to work a job you hate in order to get by, instead of just suggesting that you should quit because not everyone is able to do that.

Next up is Text Me Back (Chirpse Degree Burns) which opens with a super melodic almost indie punk style guitar riff and rhythmic drums. The instruments take a backseat as lead vocalist Janey Starling begins to sing a tale of meeting a new person you like and what ensues when they then don’t text back shortly after that. It sounds kind of silly – and I guess it is to some extent – but I’m sure, like me, you can relate to what Dream Nails are singing about when you’ve sent a message and can see they’ve read it but haven’t replied. Maybe we’d be better off without phones or at least without read receipts! The classic Dream Nails track Vagina Police is next but not before an interlude, Women And Non-Binary People To The Front, that declares solidarity with trans folk and that not all women have vaginas. Vagina Police 2.0 is a re-recorded version of the song the band originally released back in 2018 but still has the raw passion and energy of the original. The fast paced and ferocious track is a protest in favour of abortion and women’s rights to do as they chose with their own bodies. It was an important and worthy message in 2018 and it certainly still is now as well. DIY is the name of the eighth track on the album and it’s another Dream Nails song that has been around for a while but it appears on the album nonetheless because it’s such a great song. It’s the song I remember most when I think about the last time I saw Dream Nails live, which sadly was way back in 2018 (with Iron Chic and Mobina Galore at The Dome), as it’s an awesome live track. As you might have guessed from its title, DIY is about doing it yourself – whether that means fixing your bike, starting a punk band or making peanut butter. It’s a bouncy, joyful, uplifting and empowering listen that is a hell of a lot of fun to sing along to. The pace is slowed down somewhat for People Are Like Cities as Dream Nails take a slightly different turn musically. The song is about how you can never truly know everything about a person, just like how you can never truly see every part of a city. Lines such as ‘And there are dark streets in you, where I don’t wanna go.’ make you pause for thought and fully take in and agree with what Dream Nails are singing about.

The summery vibes are back for the next two tracks. First is Swimming Pool, a cheerful sugary pop punk song about – you guessed it – going to the swimming pool with your friends and crush. There’s a sense of washing away all your worries and just having a nice time throughout the song, with ‘It’s gonna be okay’ repeated throughout the bridge. The track also features some wonderful harmonies and vocal exchanges which further boosts the having a nice time with your friends vibes. The second of the two summer-themed tracks is the aptly titled This Is The Summer. It’s not as fast-paced as some of the previous songs on the album but certainly brings a feeling of sunshine to our ears (which, once again, is very welcome on a dull and rainy October day), as Dream Nails sing of heatwaves, being struck in traffic on the way to the beach and the smell of suncream. It feels, to me at least, to be about that specifically British summer time that we spend the rest of the year dreaming of only to complain that it’s too hot when it finally arrives. Before we get to track number thirteen we have another interlude, this time offering up some helpful Fighting Tips. Get ready to crank the volume up for Payback as, after a drumroll and a scream, Dream Nails deliver a huge rocking ’n’ rolling guitar riff to rival your dad’s (or, in my case, mum’s) favourite 80s hair metal band. Alongside shouts of ‘One day, we’ll make, you pay!’ and slower more stripped back verses, Dream Nails deliver a real standout track here. If you didn’t already want to sing along with the band prior to this track then I’m sure the bridge of ‘Hey! (Hey!), Mister! (Mister!), Get your hands off my sister!’ will get you shouting along. The last skit of the album, In Other News, is a clip from a news report about a homophobic attack on two women who were on a London bus which leads us into the last song on the album. Kiss My Fist starts slowly and quietly but it’s immediately clear that Dream Nails don’t intend to stay quiet as they have a lot of justified anger built up and ready to unleash on the world. Kiss My Fist is about men who are quite happy see lesbians when it suits them and is for their own entertainment, such as onscreen, but are disgusted to see a couple holding hands in the street. The song is the perfect combination of rage and frustration and does a fine job of ending the album with a bang.

Dream Nails is out now on Alcopop Records and is well worth adding to your regular rotation this autumn to bring a little sunshine back into your life.

Stream and download Dream Nails on Bandcamp here.

Like Dream Nails on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Album Review: Slurring The Rhythms by Shut Up! Twist Again!

One of my favourite recent discoveries is Shut Up! Twist Again! The four piece are from Bayonne, France and play a great mix of indie punk and orgcore. In recent years we’ve discovered bands such as Quitters and Traverse who also play a similar sounding style, it seems as if there’s something in the French punks’ water that produces this awesome sound. In August Shut Up! Twist Again! released their third full length album and their first in five years. Titled Slurring The Rhythms, it was released by a whole host of labels including Guerilla Asso (France), Fond Of Life (Germany) and Paper + Plastick (USA). After listening to just a few seconds of the opening song I knew this was an album for me. 

The eight track album begins with Prison Notebook. If this is your first time listening to Shut Up! Twist Again!, like it was mine, then this is a perfect introduction of what to expect from the band. Mid-tempo punk rock which makes you want to sing along as loudly as you can with a your best pals and favourite strangers in a sweaty basement. As you might expect, there’s a huge amount of gang vocals throughout but there are also some quieter moments that allow the song to build towards the big moments. A solid opening track. Up next is Panegyric. Panegyric is a word that I’ve never heard before so I had to look up its meaning. It’s defined as “a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something”. The track is about remembering someone that you’ve lost and living your life the way that they told you to. The song starts out it a sombre mood but as it progresses it the sound grows and some sweet gang vocals arrive to really drive home the last couple of lines of the track – “I know I got more tears to share, I’m exactly what they told me to be.” The third track is Meritocracy. From the outset this song had me banging my head along to the pounding drumbeat. It’s one of the shortest on the album and wastes no time in getting to its big chorus. I really loved the punchy, stabby nature of the guitars and how they contrast brilliantly with the more melodic sounding vocals. Despite only being two minutes long, the band have squeezed a lot into the song.

Outsiders features Oskar from The Kendolls and Tear Them Down. Outsiders asks the question of what becomes of the people who don’t fit into society? This is one of my favourite songs on an album packed with fantastic songs. It takes you on a series of highs and lows, there’s softer moments, moments of real intensity and moments that will bring people together. Having Oskar’s more intense vocals on the track was a masterstroke of an idea. It adds such an interesting extra dimension to the song that really makes you pay attention. To Our Friends is a forty-five second instrumentation that leads into The Past Is Over. Listening digitally it’s a nice interlude that also serves as an introduction to the next song. I assume that on the vinyl version of Slurring The Rhythms it starts side B. The Past Is Over starts loudly as the drums go off like cannons and the guitars buzz along with them. As the intro progresses, the drums begin to mute and the guitars take over. Much like Outsiders, we’re taking on a series of highs and lows. Being a four minute long track this allowed for a seriously good instrumental moment to finish the song that allows the songs message to really sit with you when the track has finished. It was about how things can get better despite everything seeming as if it won’t.

The penultimate song is a cover of fellow French punks The Traders’ song Forgetting Our Duties. I have to admit I had never heard of The Traders before this so had to do my research – they sound awesome. Check them out. The Traders version is a very rough and ready style of punk rock. Shut Up! Twist Again! add their own distinct style and melodies to the track whilst not stepping far from the original song. The addition of some harmonies was a great touch. It’s a political song about how the people who are supposed to be in charge are not very good and not doing their job properly. Something that we in the UK can heavily relate to. The final song on Slurring The Rhythms is New Kind Of Liars. This is an epic way to finish the album. The song has a slow build to open with a chugging guitar alongside a more riff heavy one. It builds and builds until the vocals come in and have you gagging to sing along with them. After the first verse there is an extended instrumental section before the gang vocals come in for a huge chorus. This is another moment that has me longing to be in a sweaty basement shouting my lungs out. This transitions into a chanting section, another long instrumental before finishing the whole album with some more of those ace gang vocals.

Like I said at the beginning, Shut Up! Twist Again! are a recent discovery. I’ve been listening to Slurring The Rhythms a lot since discovering it and I can see it placing very highly on my albums of the year list in December. Do yourself a favour, check this out.

Stream and download Slurring The Rhythms on Bandcamp here.

Like Shut Up! Twist Again! on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Album Review: You Belong Here by Shinjoku Riot

We first came across Mexico’s Shinjoku Riot when they toured with our pals in Burnt Tapes back in 2017. We got to see them play the band’s launch show for Alterations at Urban Bar in Whitechapel and were seriously impressed. Since then I’ve been waiting for the band to release some new material so we can finally feature them on CPRW. Back in July they finally did with the release of a four track EP named You Belong Here. Let’s give it a listen.

The opening song is named I’m Not Gonna Be Late For The Fucking Dance, Man. The track starts with some guitars ringing out and a drum roll before lead singer Rafael Rosas screams out “1, 2, 3, 4!” and the song really gets going. The song shows definite 90s skate punk influences, in particular No Use For A Name. Vocally there’s a modern sound that would fit nicely into the Fest punk sound that is perfect for singing along with. The next song is Straight To Your Face. The band released this track as a single in the lead up to You Belong Here’s release and it got me excited for the EP. It showcases the band’s softer and poppier side and was a great choice of song to put some eyes on the EP. I was hooked on this song from the moment I heard it. It has some great pop sensibilities combined with some wonderful vocals. The bridge towards the end of the song that leads to a final chorus is the cherry on top of a great song.

The third song Creando Momentus is sung in the band’s native Spanish. Translated into English Creando Momentus means ‘creating moments’ so I guess the song is a positive one about living your best life. As I don’t speak a word of Spanish I can’t comment on the lyrical content but I did enjoy the overall feel of the song. The guitars feel warm and retrospective and the use of gang vocals throughout the song gives the song that inclusive feel. I really appreciate that, as I don’t speak the language. I also just really love gang vocals. The fourth and final song is titled Face First To The Ground. This track features quite a long musical introduction before the vocals come in. I always enjoy when the last song on a EP or album feels like a last song and Face First To The Ground certainly feels that way. I loved the way in which Rafael delivers the vocals during the first half of the song before the track gets a bit more intense during its middle section and then builds towards its big ending. The final instructions of “break out the good times” that ring out during the end of the song ensure that it finishes on a positive note. Something we need in 2020.

You Belong Here takes Shinjoku Riot to a whole other level. All four songs on the EP are potentially the best the band has written. The overall sound of the EP is great as well, it doesn’t feel as if any expense was spared with the recording and production. If you’re unaware of Shinjoku Riot and you enjoy sing-along pop punk then I suggest you check them out pronto.

Stream and download You Belong Here on Bandcamp here.

Like Shinjoku Riot on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Album Review: Kids Against Crosses and François Freygolo Split

I love splits and I love checking out bands from Europe that I’ve never heard of. So when I came across a split by French acts Kids Against Crosses and François Freygolo I was keen to check it out. There isn’t much about Kids Against Crosses on the Internet except what I could find on their Bandcamp page. I discovered that they are from Cagnes Sur Mer and they’ve been releasing music since 2010. François Freygolo is a member of the ska punk band Freygolo who are from Nice. I also discovered that the split is being distributed by the always brilliant Krod Records.

Kids Against Crosses begin the split with their song Last Chance To Be Worried. This is an acoustic guitar lead song accompanied by a trombone. If you’re aware of Gainesville’s Coffee Project (featuring Buddy from Less Than Jake), you’ll get an idea of the sound. The song begins quietly with some soft guitar playing and the vocals. The vocals immediately catch my attention with their powerful delivery and the fact that they’re much poppier than I was really expecting. When the trombone comes in it’s a very nice surprise. This is a very loud sounding acoustic punk song and I’m into it. The duo’s second song is titled Casino. What really struck me about this track when I first listened to it was how much I wanted to sing along with it. I can fully imagine being in a tiny room packed with people singing along so loudly that you drown out the singer’s vocals. That sort of thing gives me goosebumps. The Kids Against Crosses half of the split is faultless and I’ve discovered a favourite new band.

François Freygolo’s first song is titled What Haven’t I Got. I was surprised to discover that this is actually a full band effort as I was expecting just a man with his acoustic guitar. The song starts in a big way with some big “whoa-ohs” to get things going. From that moment I was excited to see where the track would go. Much like Casino, the song feels like a sing-along from that opening moment. I think it’s fair to say François’ vocal isn’t as poppy as the chap from Kids Against Crosses. This is countered with some great gang vocals that made me feel like a part of the song. Punk is about being inclusive and What Haven’t I Got certainly gives you that feeling. It’s Gonna Rain is a softer and slower track that includes a xylophone and a string accompaniment. It’s a nice contrast to What Haven’t I Got and shows a different side of François. This is a sad love song where François sings about how his mental health puts a dark cloud over him even when he feels like he should be happy. Something I’m sure a lot of people will relate to.

Check this split out and then go and listen to all of Kids Against Crosses and François Freygolo’s other work. You won’t be disappointed.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Album Review: More Than Drugs by On My Arms

On My Arms are a four piece band from Venice, Italy. The band formed in 2011 and are heavily influenced by bands such as The Ramones and The Queers, as well as more modern day acts such as Teenage Bottlerocket. I first became aware of the band due to their excellent Life At Thirty EP which was released in 2018. In May, On My Arms released a new five track EP titled More Than Drugs that I was very keen to check out.

More Than Drugs starts with Make It Up To You. As you have probably worked out from the song’s title, it’s about making things right with your loved one. Looking at the band’s influences you might expect a more fast paced track but On My Arms start out with a more melody driven song packed with catchy hooks and wonderful harmonies. The repetitive nature of the song makes it instantly accessible to anyone hearing the band for the first time. It’s like meeting an old friend. Up next is Never Alone. On this second song the band pick up the tempo and give the EP a boost of energy. Track one welcomes you in and track two fills you with the energy you’d expect from a Ramonescore band. Never Alone is about feeling lonely but knowing that whenever you go to a gig, particularly in the punk scene, you’ll have a friend. It’s a special feeling to be in that environment and it’s one I’m sure everyone reading this is missing.

The third song is the EP’s title track More Than Drugs. This is a song about realising that you need to make yourself better because there are great things in life that you want to experience. On My Arms revert back to their mid-tempo sound for this song. This helps to really show off the emotion in the track and particularly in Ganz’s voice. The penultimate song is named Up & Down. On my first listen of the song I was attracted by the bouncy rhythm but when you listen to the lyrics you discover the song has a darker context. On My Arms sing about coming to the end of a relationship and the difficult conversation that you need to have because of this. This is another superbly catchy track, even if the subject matter is sad. Last up is Going Home With You. On My Arms finish More Than Drugs with what’s perhaps my favourite song of theirs. From the outset it’s an uptempo sing-along that’s full to the brim with this infectious energy. The way in which Ganz delivers the vocals is fantastic, punchy on the verse and then loads of melody in the chorus.

More Than Drugs is another solid addition to On My Arms’ growing discography. The European punk scene has so many fantastic bands who play homage to The Ramones and On My Arms are one of the best.

Stream and download More Than Drugs on Bandcamp here.

Like On My Arms on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.