Friday, 12 February 2021

Album Review: TNSRecords Volume 4: Cheap Cans, Broken Vans and Basement Bar Bands

The much loved and respected Manchester based DIY record label TNSRecords is just about to put out their 100th release. This is an incredible achievement and, before we delve deeper into the release, I just want to congratulate Andy and Bev for this huge accomplishment. Well done guys, it’s amazing!

When I discovered that TNS were closing in on their 100th release, I speculated to myself as to what it would be. I assumed that it would be a compilation but figured it would be a kind of TNS best of, featuring Andy and Bev’s favourite songs that the label has put out over the first 99 releases. Or perhaps it would be the current active bands on their roster covering songs from classic releases – that would be cool. Instead they decided to release a compilation featuring 33 bands that are a combination of the newer bands that TNS has released music by, as well as up and coming bands that they like and want to give some exposure too. TNS has always been about being progressive and looking forward and this is a fine example of that.

I probably should’ve mentioned by this point that the compilation is titled TNSRecords Volume 4: Cheap Cans, Broken Vans and Basement Bar Bands and it’s being released on vinyl and CD on the 19th of February. Buy it here.

Now on with the actual review. We don’t normally do compilation reviews for the simple reason that there are lots of bands – and to try and go into detail about each song will break me and also probably bore you. So, for this review, I’m going to try and give a running commentary on my thoughts of the compilation as I listen through it. I’m going to set myself a rule of only listening to each song three times to stop myself getting too detailed.

First up is Incisions and their song New Day. The Manchester based hardcore act have been carving out a big audience for themselves amongst the UK DIY scene over the past few years and their upcoming new album, Bliss, looks set to continue their momentum.

Jodie Faster play short and fast punk rock songs. The band have been together since 2016 and have already found a massive fan base for themselves. Don’t Take It Bad opens with a hyperactive guitar riff and the vocals add much ferocity to the track.

Midlands based four piece Brassick provide their song They Say. The track welcomes you in with a great melody before lead singer Nicola McCarthy’s powerful vocals take you through a hard hitting and political song that will unite a crowd.

Faintest Idea are long time friends of TNS and really HAD to be on this compilation. Stomp ’Em Down is the first single from their long awaited next album. If this single is anything to go by then it’s going to be fantastic. Mixing street punk with ska to incredible effect, Faintest Idea continue to be one of the best bands in the UK.

Fun fact: Nosebleed were the penultimate band I saw live before gigs stopped. They’ve gained a reputation for being one of the best live bands in the UK and are also pretty damn good on record too. Playing an amped up version of garage punk, the Leeds based three-piece are one of the most exciting bands in the UK at the moment and their song I Got You shows you exactly why. Fast paced, catchy and will have you getting your finest dancing shoes on.

Another of the UK’s most exciting new bands are Aerial Salad. Despite their young age, Aerial Salad seem like they’ve been around forever now and it’s been absolutely wonderful seeing them progress with each release. 2020’s Dirt Mall saw them take another giant leap forward with their grungey take on pop punk. Mainstream attention deservedly awaits Jamie, Mike and Matt.

In Evil Hour are a melodic punk rock band from Darlington, UK. The track 2050 is my favourite I’ve heard from the four piece. It begins slowly and builds and builds. The further you go into the song, the angrier it gets and it does a great job taking you along for the ride. Alice’s vocals are superb throughout, one of the best voices in UK punk rock.

DIY punk legends The Restarts provide the song Freedom From. Delivering a slice of thrashy hardcore punk rock from London. The song is unrelenting throughout and goes by like a tornado. Fast guitars, thumbing drums and snarling vocals.

Hastings’ punk act Haest are another new band quickly making a name for themselves. There seems to be an affinity between Hastings and TNS so it wasn’t surprising to find Haest on this album. The Turtle In The Handbag is a hard rocking punk song that has a bit of a throwback feel to it.

Another long time friend of TNS are Warrinton’s folk punks Roughneck Riot. The band took a short break in 2019 and were due to make their triumphant return in 2020. Unfortunately all of the tragedy of 2020 happened and they were unable to get back for any live shows but it seems they were able to get into the studio at some point to record some songs. The track, A New Day Is Dawning, is an uplifting song about better times being on the horizon.

Knife Club are a TNSRecords supergroup. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the band before they eventually revealed their members last year. Sadly they haven’t been able to play any shows yet but they did put out a phenomenal album in the form of We Are Knife Club last year. Fronted by Andy Davies (TNS/ROTPM) and Zoë Barrow (Casual Nausea), You Can Only Try Your Best is a new and unreleased song that is really empowering. This is perhaps my favourite thing from the band so far.

A lot of people have been talking about Bobby Funk in the past year and their song I’m A Cat has been proclaimed by many as the best song of 2020. Hailing from Falmouth in Cornwall, Bobby Funk play fast and straightforward punk rock that’s a lot of fun.

Harijan were one of the first bands that TNS released music by and, at the end of 2020, they finally released their debut album. Paranoid is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s an upbeat song that showcases lead singer Mike’s distinctive voice brilliantly. This is another song that you’ll need to get your dancing shoes ready for.

Youth Avoiders bring back the angry hardcore with their song Steel Concrete. A very apt name for such a hard song. There are no wasted moments in the song as the French band storm through the song. Steel Concrete actually comes from an album named Relentless which is the perfect way to describe this song.

Pi$$er are another super group who feature current and ex members of bands such as The Domestics, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Doom, Beat The Red Light and many more. Playing d-beat hardcore with a saxophone, they are one of the more unique bands to have emerged in recent years and certainly one to look out for.

Bristol’s Martyrials offer up a synthesized take on the punk rock genre. This is clearly a band not afraid to venture outside of the box and they’ve managed to create something quite wonderful. Sonically Parachute will have you dancing away, there’s a great energy that gives the song an urgent feel and vocally there is plenty of bite.

Dundee gruff punks Uniforms have been a big favourite of mine for years now and I was very pleased to see them featured on the compilation. Searchlights comes from the EP Reasons To Breathe which was co-released by TNS and Make-That-A-Take Records in 2018. It’s an absolutely banging song from one of the UK’s best bands.

I can remember seeing Wales’ Grand Collapse at MPF 2 in 2016 and they seem to have had a relationship with TNS ever since. The four piece play blisteringly fast hardcore that will get a mosh pit moving like a hurricane or make a room full of people aggressively bang their heads in unison. Calvin’s vocals really make you pay attention to the song and the band show considerable skill with their instruments with some really technical riffs and drum lines.

Casual Nausea are a five piece from Ipswich. Casual Nausea are one of the UK’s most interesting sounding bands. Mixing street punk with hardcore, they feature great dual vocals that work incredibly well together. The song Empty Rewards is a real ear worm of a song that really stands out amongst all of the other great songs on this album. It’s really infectious.

Sandwiching Casual Nausea in a Welsh hardcore sandwich are Pizzatramp. Pizzatramp showcase the trashier side of hardcore, playing three chord punk rock as fast as they possibly can. I Got Work In The Morning tells a tale of not being able to live the life you really want to because you have your rubbish day job the next day. Something we can all relate to!

Everyone’s favourite folk punk band Stöj Snak are up next. The Danish band have a long running history with TNS dating back to lead singer Niels’ old hardcore band, Mighty Midgets. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t discovered Stöj Snak yet, they play passionate and angry folk punk and can inspire alongside really tugging on your heartstrings. A firm CPRW favourite.

Manchester’s The Sewer Cats are a duo who play fuzzy, distorted punk rock. On the song Rich Cheaters, I really enjoyed how the song manages to jump between an almost poppy garage punk sound to some really angry, visceral hardcore. This is a political song that’s very fitting for the current age.

The Domestics are from Suffolk and featured is the song Don’t Tell Me What Love Is. This is a rapid-fire hardcore track that never stops for breath. The vocals on the verse are so fast it’s quite hard to make them out but I’m guessing that the song is about not conforming to what THEY tell you love is, it can be whatever you want it to be. Have a listen to the song and see what you think is going on.

Former Bootscraper member Tim Loud throws a fantastic sonic curveball into the record. The long time associate of TNS provides a country tinged rock track that showcases their brilliant ability to tell a story through a song. This is the first physical release of Anyone Else But Me as it’s only been released digitally in the past.

Skinny Milk are a duo from Brighton. Playing fuzzy punk with a shoegaze element to their sound, Skinny Milk are a new band to me and already sound like one that could make a big splash on the DIY scene as well as a more mainstream one.

Daves are a band I’ve been excited about since Sarah from Shout Louder suggested them for Do It Together Fest in January 2020. Unfortunately they were busy playing another show that weekend so we were unable to book them and I am yet to see them live. I love their fast, gruff sound. This is the type of punk that gets me singing along with my fist firmly punching the air.

If you’ve been following TNS over the last few years you’ll be very aware of Follow Your Dreams. I always feel like hardcore is one of the hardest genres under the punk umbrella to make sound original but Follow Your Dreams found a way. Using a wide array of pedals to make some fantastic guitar tones, you never know where a Follow Your Dreams song is going to take you and Kaz is a superb frontperson for the band. When you can, check them out live.

Like their fellow folk punk comrades Roughneck Riot, Matilda’s Scoundrels recently took some time off but now they are back. The Hastings bands are another with a long standing relationship with TNS and their popularity has grown massively over the past few years. They are now one of the must-see touring acts on the circuit.

Falmouth’s Rash Decision are a long running band in the DIY scene, known for their fast and thrashy hardcore punk rock songs. Their track The Martockian has a nice long intro that really builds the song up before launching into an unrelenting minute or so that is full of everything you would expect – energy, aggression, urgency, passion and ferocity.

German hard rockers Christmas are a band TNS have been championing for a while. The song Push Fast is from the TNS released album Hot Nights In Saint Vandal. It’s a heavy slab of melodic punk with vile fuelled vocals and loads of whoa-oh harmonies that really pull you into the song.

Throwing Stuff’s no-nonsense approach to punk rock has long entertained me. It was quite a surprise when they released A.C.I.Y.H.A.B. out of the blue digitally last year. Its appearance here is its first physical release and I can’t think of a better place for it to be. The song is about changing your attitude towards what you’re taught about the police and realising what they can really be like. Sadly, not all police people are good eggs.

The penultimate track comes from who I think is the newest band on the compilation but they do have a long history with TNS. Redeemon are a band birthed from the ashes of Beat The Red Light who were one of the first bands on TNS’ roster. On the track Anaphylactic, Redeemon take the skacore and metal that BTRL were so loved for an add even more influences that shouldn’t work as well as they do.

The final song is from Speed Dinosaurs. Stegasaurid is the perfect song to finish the compilation with. It’s a softer, ukulele lead song about the dinosaur Stegasaurid. It’s fun and silly and really fits the TNS sense of humour that’s been apparent over the years.

Cheap Cans, Broken Vans and Basement Bar Bands is a fantastic showcase of the amazing talent doing fantastic things in punk rock at the moment. It’s a varied collection of tracks that has something for everyone. The different and diverse styles of punk rock will allow listeners to check out new styles that wouldn’t be their usual go to – I’m a big fan. The compilation is a fitting 100th release for such an important and influential album from the UK’s DIY scene.

Like TNSRecords on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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