Monday, 30 August 2021

Exclusive Stream: Our Boring Lives by Dog Eared (Make-That-A-Take Records)

Today we are extremely proud to bring you the exclusive premiere of the debut Dog Eared EP. Our Boring Lives is released by Make-That-A-Take Records on Friday the 3rd of September. We first became aware of the three piece pop punk band after seeing them at Book-Yer-Ane Fest in Dundee at the end of 2019. I was enthralled by their fast paced pop punk sound and couldn't wait for their EP to be released. The time is now finally upon us and it's been seriously worth the wait! If you're a fan of bands like The Murderburgers, The Kimberly Steaks or Fastfade then this is a must buy for you.

You can buy Our Boring Lives from Make-That-A-Take Records (along with loads of other amazing releases including Goodbye Blue Monday, Lounar, Uniforms, Paper Rifles, Stonethrower and Seas, Starry) here.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Gig Review: King Punch with 3dBs Down and Last Edition at New Cross Inn, London 14/08/22

The activity I missed by far the most over the past seventeen months has been going to gigs. Not only were gigs exciting because I got to see some of my favourite bands but it was also an opportunity to see many of my wonderful friends, as well as travelling around the country. It was a wonderful thing and I always felt extremely privileged to be able to see and experience so many unforgettable moments because of it. So when lockdown happened a huge part of my life (and I’m certain everyone’s reading this) vanished. Obviously, I understood that it was important for it to happen so I learned to live with it and kind of got used to not being able to do my favourite hobby. After seventeen months we were finally able to go to gigs again. I bought some tickets, kind of expecting not to be able to use them but things got better and some aspects of life from the before times were able to happen again.

On Saturday the 14th of August I got to attend my first gig in 524 days. It had to be at my favourite place in the whole world, the New Cross Inn in South London, for a Be Sharp Promotions show featuring 3dbs Down and Last Edition, headlined by King Punch.

I can’t lie, I was slightly apprehensive the entire day of the gig but myself and Emma have both been fully vaccinated and we took lateral flow tests the morning of the gig which came back negative so we felt safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t be spreading anything about. After a stress free train journey, we arrived in our spiritual home in time for doors. As soon as I saw some old friends, any apprehensions I had quickly faded and I was just super happy to be back and set for an exciting night of ska and punk.

Leicester’s Last Edition were the first band on and I couldn’t think of a better band to reintroduce me to live music. This was also the band’s first show back as they sadly had to drop out of a show earlier in the month due to illness. As soon as they started their set you could see in their faces how happy they were to be back on stage together. This feeling quickly bled into the crowd as the band soon had everyone moving. I had these strange feeling of muscle memory kicking in as my body began to do things it hasn’t for months. It was an amazing feeling. Last Edition’s upbeat brand of ska punk filled the room with smiles as they played through favourites such as This One, Last Orders and 10 Years as well as brand new(ish) songs Good Luck, Shorts Until September and Half Drunk At Half Time. This was a fantastic kick off for the evening.

Up next were DIY punk legends 3dBs Down. These guys were the band on the bill I was most looking forward to seeing, after they released my favourite album of 2020. This was finally an opportunity to see some of the songs from it live. As much as I enjoy the band’s previous material, I was very pleased the set was mainly songs from the amazing Get Your Retaliation In First. One of the major things I love about the album are the big three part harmonies that Matt, Si and Tage perform. It’s brilliant on record but live it’s just something else. I was so impressed with how seamlessly they were performed as some sound quite complicated to do. The band opened up with At My Signal with the very appropriate lyric “it’s good to see you, welcome home.” I’m not sure a more poignant lyric has ever been sung at the New Cross Inn. They also played Moussaka, Pink Cardigan Twinset, Hang In There Man and Idiot Ignorant Evil before closing the set with Count To A Million. My only complaint from the set is that they didn’t play longer as I was having such a nice time and didn’t want it to stop.

Last up were the undisputed champions of a New Cross party, King Punch. After the previous two bands, the crowd were suitably warmed up and ready to get crazy for the seven piece. Not many bands can match King Punch for the energy that they have on stage. If there was any fatigue from not having played a show in so long then it didn’t show. If anything they picked the energy up the further they got into their set. Unfortunately guitarist Tor had some technical problems at the start of the set but that didn’t seem to hinder the band one bit. Personally I noticed because I happened to be on that side of the stage as he was trying to sort it out. King Punch basically played the entirety of Sit Still without a guitar and it still had the crowd in a frenzy. King Punch have always liked to throw a cover or two into their set and this was no different. Their now classic cover of System Of A Down’s Chop Suey went down as well as ever and there was also a brilliant cover of The Pixies’ Where is My Mind. Unfortunately due to Saturday trains still being rubbish (I haven’t missed those) we had to duck out of the gig early but not before we got to hear Enrico, Wishbone, Another Bomb, Weekend Warrior and a brand new song which I’m very excited to hear a recorded version of.

As a first gig back after over 500 days I couldn’t think of a better one. All three bands absolutely smashed it and the promoter, venue and crowd ensured it was a safe environment where, as far as I’m aware, everyone felt comfortable. Long may gigs continue. Let’s never go so long without one again!

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Album Review: A Beginner's Guide by Making Friends

Since London/Brighton skate punks FastFade split in 2019, lead singer and guitarist Ryan Mansell has been a very busy man. Not only did he start emo punks Maisonette, who have a new EP due to be released on INiiT Records in the future, he also formed a new skate punk band named Making Friends. Back in May the four piece, which also features Daniel Farrell, Bill Laken and Pete Thomas, released a second EP titled A Beginner’s Guide. Unsurprisingly, the EP’s four songs clock in at just eight and a half minutes so expect some fast and short songs ahead. For me, that’s how I enjoy my skate punk so I’m quite looking forward to listening to this.

The EP starts with Goodbye Forever. The song starts how you might expect a skate punk song to start – there is a pounding drumbeat driving the song forward and a technical guitar riff that really catches your ear. When Ryan’s vocals come in the music drops out, I really liked this as it made me really listen to what was being said. From there the song continues along the traditional skate punk route. Ryan’s vocals feel urgent and are backed by some great harmonies. I loved the switch towards the end of the song when Goodbye Forever jumps into a moody emo style. I didn’t see it coming and it’s a fantastic surprise. The second track is titled Happy Complaint. This track starts out slower than the previous one with a bass line opening proceedings before being joined by the rest of the band. The drums in particular give the song a high tempo feel but the vocals contrast this brilliantly with a more melodic style that again really catches your attention. Midway through the song a great guitar solo comes in to give the song an extra dimension before the song finishes in a more urgent fashion.

Early Grave is a bit of a throwback to Ryan’s previous work with FastFade. There’s that big Captain Everything influence in the guitars and it feels as if Making Friends have really raised the tempo. The track is about trying to run away and escape your problems, something we’ve all wanted to do at some point. It’s great to hear a band like Making Friends who are in their early twenties tackle mental health in a song. The song has a brilliant feeling of catharsis during the finale with a big sing-along of “why should I pick up the pieces, when I could just run away, can I take these useless feelings, with me to my early grave.” The final song on A Beginner’s Guide is titled Ant. The song is not even ninety seconds long but seems to pack a huge amount into it. The tempo and melodies are all over the place on the song, continually keeping you guessing what’s next? I feel like a song like this just shouldn’t work but Making Friends have impressively made it work. Ant is about having a friend who brings you down and stepping away from that relationship.

What I really loved about this EP was how fresh it sounds. Making Friends take the skate punk genre and breathe new life into it with a variety of styles and influences. Big things are clearly on the horizon for the band.

Stream and download A Beginner's Guide on Bandcamp here.

Like Making Friends on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Album Review: Salem II by Salem (by Lara Roberts)

Salem are back after only a few months, with their second EP – Salem II. The first EP took me completely by surprise; as soon as I listened to it, I felt like I was 15 years younger. While the sound took me back to my (embarrassing) emo phase, the EP still felt new and exciting to me and I fell head over heels for it – Will Gould’s explosive vocals and dark lyrics mixed with fast tempo emo-pop melodies really ticked my boxes. I got tastes of My Chemical Romance, early Fall Out Boy, and a dash of Alkaline Trio. Plus, I was intrigued by the pairing – Will Gould from Creeper, and Matt Reynolds from Howard’s Alias?!

The second instalment builds on this mid-00s emo vibe, but it definitely has much grander ambitions than the first. The gothic imagery conjured up by the lyrics and the amped up dramatic atmosphere give this release an almost theatrical feel.

The title of the opening track, William, It Was Really Something, is a fun play on the title of The Smiths 1984 classic William, It Was Really Nothing. But that’s where the similarities seem to end – the Salem drums hitting much harder and the guitars a lot faster than Johnny Marr’s iconic 80s jangle. The immediate-ness of the song and singalong-ability is clear from the start, and it makes a fantastic opening track.

DRACULADS (another excellent title) begins with rolling drums, leading you to a melody and vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on American Idiot; it’s got multiple layers and sounds like it was made for a musical.

The punchy, catchy emo-pop continues with Keep The Thorns and Sweet Tooth, both calling on gothic imagery of altars, vampires, and descending deep into hell as you fall deeper into love (or lust, I’m not judging).

The EP comes to a strong close with Heaven Help Me. While the dark symbolism continues in the lyrics, musically the closing track lends itself more to punk rock than emo-pop. A fantastic ending to this cute, dark, fun, sexy EP.

I’ll admit – I expected more from this when I first listened to it. And the second, and third time (you can see where I’m going with this). But that’s only because the first EP was almost flawless to me. After revisiting this one a few weeks later, I don’t know why I was being so overly critical – Salem II is a natural progression from Salem. Just as The Black Parade was a natural progression from Three Cheers.

For fans of My Chemical Romance, (early) Fall Out Boy, Alkaline Trio, and the iconic emo fringe.

Stream and download Salem II here and like Salem on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lara Roberts.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Album Review: Chick Chicken EP by Skiv

Skiv are a band we’ve been having the joy of seeing live for a couple of years now. The melodic punk four piece have become a staple in the South London punk scene thanks to their entertaining and, at times, raucous performances. I’ve said on many occasions that they are also one of the most talented groups of musicians in our scene and that talent always shines through when you see them live. They have previously released a three single collection named the Meal Deal EP. After many delays due to various lockdowns in the UK, Skiv recently released a new EP named Chick Chicken. The band was kind enough to send me an early copy.

The EP begins with its title track, Chick Chicken. This is an ode to the takeaway a couple of doors down from the band's beloved New Cross Inn in South East London. It’s a short one minute long song where Jordan, Conor and Liam all take turns singing a verse. It’s a short and sweet song that put a smile on my face. I believe this is the first time that Conor and Liam have handled vocal duties on a Skiv release and this shows where the band are heading on the rest of the EP. The second track is named Berlinerluft. Bassist Conor takes lead vocal on this song and it’s nice to hear. Conor was the lead vocalist for his former band Cereal Box Heroes and it’s great to hear him step behind the microphone again. The song is about relying on alcohol to help quiet the voices in your head when you’re going through some deep and heavy things. This is definitely a more open and emotional side of Conor that we’re not used to but this is an incredibly well written song.

The third song, Devil In Dartford, sees Liam and Jordan team up on the vocals. Liam’s gruffer voice alongside Jordan’s smoother style sounds fantastic, the two work extremely well together. On this song Skiv manage to blend some rockabilly into their usual melodic punk sound. I’m surprised this works as well as it does but I guess that proves what a talented bunch these guys are. Devil In Dartford is about a young, troubled boy who turns pretty evil as he gets older. I’m not sure if this story is true or fictional but the band does a fantastic job of painting a picture with the lyrics throughout the track. The final song on Chick Chicken is one I recognise from seeing Skiv live. In A&E begins with some fantastic bass playing and builds up to Jordan’s superb vocals. I’ve been saying since Jordan’s days in DropThis that he’s one of the best singers in the UK’s DIY punk scene and I continue to stand by that statement. Jordan and Liam team up again on the song with Jordan handling the verse and Liam the chorus. This is potentially my favourite song that Skiv have released so far.

If you’re new to Skiv then the Chick Chicken EP will work as a superb introduction to the band. The EP does a wonderful job in showcasing all four members of the band’s incredible talent. I like that all three vocalists had songs featured on the EP and I assume that this will be a big feature of Skiv’s live set in the future. Great job on the EP guys.

Stream and download Chick Chicken EP here.

Like Skiv on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.