Friday, 14 January 2022

Column: Punk Festival Preview 2022

Writing this post very much feels like I’m tempting fate. I wrote one of these in 2020 and we all know what happened there. However, I would rather be a naïve optimist rather than a cynical pessimist so I’m ploughing on and writing this anyway. Plus it’s easy content! What you are about to dive into is my festival preview for 2022.

We all love a punk festival. They are a time where fans of punk from all over the world gather in a place to rekindle and make friendships, as well as watching the best bands around. Festivals always feel like a big celebration of what the punk scene is about and, after a very difficult couple of years, I think they are needed more than ever. Here’s a big ol’ preview of some that are happening in the UK and further afield in 2022.

Fishstock 2022 at The Exchange, Bristol (26th March)

Starting with one that isn’t technically a festival, it’s an all dayer but I wanted to include it anyway. Chris Fishlock is a promoter and all around legend based in Bristol. Each year they put on a show for their birthday and, all going to plan, 2022 isn’t going to be any different. We were fortunate enough to attend Fishstock in 2021 and it was one of our favourite days of the year. I really enjoyed the varied and diverse line up and 2022 looks to be just as good. Across the two stages at The Exchange are The Filaments, Grand Collapse, The Menstrual Cramps, 2 Sick Monkeys, Killdren, Darko, 51st State, Triple Sundae, Boom Boom Racoon, Roshambo, Buds., Cosmit, Sniff and Petty Treason. All this for just £12 as well!

Manchester Punk Festival, Manchester (15th to 17th April)

If you’re reading this you probably are well aware of Manchester Punk Festival and what an incredible weekend it is. After having to cancel in 2020 and not being able to put on the 2021 edition, MPF 2022 promises to be bigger and better than ever. Such is the excitement for the festival’s return, tickets for the weekend sold out six months in advance which is absolutely ridiculous. Talking about ridiculous, have you seen the line up?! I’m not listing them all as there’s loads of bands appearing over the three days, across half a dozen venues. If you like any music that falls under the punk umbrella there will be something for you.

Slam Dunk, Hatfield (4th June) / Leeds (5th June)

Slam Dunk pulled off somewhat of a miracle last year by not only managing to get their festival to happen but they were also one of the first events to be able to host international bands. I made a very last minute decision to attend last year and I’m very glad I did. The outdoor festival takes place in Hatfield and Leeds during the first weekend of June. So far they’ve given us two line up announcements and it’s looking massive already. Some stand outs for me are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Interrupters, Pennywise, Hot Water Music, The Vandals, Spanish Love Songs, The Flatliners, Meet Me @ The Altar and Pinkshift. I fully expect the Slam Dunk Team to bring out some more massive names in the coming months.

Bristol Booze Cruise at The Exchange, Bristol (18th to 19th June)

Bristol Booze Cruise is the sister festival of Hamburg Booze Cruise which, in my eyes, is the European equivalent of The Fest. Taking place at The Exchange in Bristol during June, the only news we have about the festival at the time of writing this is the first batch of bands playing. And what a first announcement it was! Some of the international acts included were Tigers Jaw, Dogleg, Dollar Signs, MakeWar, The Penske File, Mikey Erg, Ramona and Moonraker, alongside UK and Ireland acts such as Dream Nails, Fresh, Nervus, Cherym, Hell’s Ditch and Goodbye Blue Monday. It’s going to be a big weekend!

Hamburg Booze Cruise, Hamburg, Germany (24th to 26th June)

We attended Hamburg Booze Cruise for the first time in 2019 and it instantly became a must-attend event on our festival calendar. Stefan and the team put on such a wonderful event that we just fell in love with. Taking place at a handful of venues around the Hamburg docks as well as some sets on a boat, there isn’t any news on the line up as yet but I would imagine that a lot of the North American bands playing in Bristol will also be in Hamburg alongside some of the very best in European punk rock. Given that Brexit has now happened and screwed over UK bands being able to tour Europe and European bands being able to tour the UK, events like this are now your best chance to see your favourite bands from the mainland.

Punk Rock Raduno, Bergamo, Italy (14th to 17th July)

If you're into your three chord pop punk music then there is no better festival than Punk Rock Raduno. The festival brings together the very best acts in Ramonescore from all over the world and puts them on for free in a field in Northern Italy. I've long admired the festival and it's high on my list of festivals I must find time to go to at some point. The organisers have been releasing news on the line up over the last few months and it's already looking amazing. So far The Huntingtons, Giant Eagles, Dan Vapid And The Cheats, Stinking Polecats, Beatnik Termites, Geoff Palmer, Pat Todd And The Rankoutsiders, The Methadones and Baby Shakes have been announced and you should expect to see more of the amazing bands in the genre revealed soon.

Level Up Festival at New Cross Inn, London. (It’s usually in July.)

There’s actually been no news yet about whether or not the best ska punk festival in the world will be returning in 2022. In previous years the weekend-long festival which is put on by Be Sharp Promotions, Fishlock Promotions and El Topo Bookings has been a big highlight of the year. With ska’s popularity on the rise I would imagine that, if the festival does happen, it will be the craziest one yet. In the meantime I’m going to keep pestering Paul for news.

KNRD Fest in the woods near Nuremburg, Germany (22nd to 24th July)

KNRD Fest is an outdoor skate punk festival that takes place in some beautiful woods in Nuremburg, Germany. I’ve not seen any news on the 2022 line up yet, I suspect it will be coming in early 2022 but, looking at past line-ups, I’ve no doubt it will be stacked with the finest DIY bands Europe has to offer.

SBÄM Fest 4, Linz, Austria (30th to 31st July)

SBÄM Fest 4 already looks like it’s going to be huge and they don’t seem to have announced their headliners yet. Amongst the bands already announced are Descendents, Millencolin, The Bouncing Souls, Get Dead, Chaser, Love Equals Death and Roughneck Riot – and, like I said, they’ve not announced their headliners yet! The festival will also feature an art exhibit with SBÄM founder Stefan Beham’s designs of tour posters, album covers and merchandise, as well as international guests and their own work.

Wonk Fest at The Dome, London (30th July)

Wonk Unit’s annual big London party returns in July. Each year the band invite the friends they’ve made through touring to play at The Dome and I’m told every year is a massively wholesome time. No bands have been announced yet but you know the line-up is going to be packed. If all the bands aren’t enough to entice you, there will also be a buffet!

BRAKrock, Duffel, Belgium (5th to 7th August)

BRAKrock returns for its tenth anniversary in 2022. The outdoor Ecofest is now a staple in the European festival circuit and takes place in what looks to be a beautiful location. Promoter Kim has been hard at work booking and rebooking bands for the festival throughout the entire pandemic and, as things stand, the line-up currently features Descendents, Circle Jerks, Sick Of It All, The Bouncing Souls, Mad Caddies, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Get Dead, Authority Zero, Belvedere, The Decline and many, many more.

Punk Rock Holiday in Tolmin, Slovenia (9th to 12th August)

Slovenia’s Punk Rock Holiday is probably the most well-known European punk festival at this point. For years now the festival has been welcoming bands from all over the world to its two stages in what looks like a punk rock paradise. With two stages, one of which is on the beach, the festival hosts some of the biggest bands in the scene alongside some of the best new talent. At the time of writing, the line-up for 2022 has yet to be announced but the organisers are working hard on mirroring the 2020 line-up as best as they can. I’d predict there will be plenty of bands who are also playing BRAKrock and SBÄM on the line-up.

Washed Out Festival, Brighton (2nd to 4th September)

Washed Out Festival in Brighton is a celebration of all things independent and alternative music. Bringing in punk, emo, indie, hardcore and hip hop acts from all over the UK, Washed Out always looks like such a busy time with the amount of amazing established and up and coming acts that they book. This year the Washed Out team have also added Be Sharp Promotions, Upsurge Promotions and New Cross Live to their team to expand the festival even further.

Wotsit Called Fest at The Pig, Hastings (23rd to 25th September)

Wotsit Called Fest is a DIY festival put together by the Toxic Wotsit collective in Hastings on the south coast of England. Like a lot of the festivals in the back end of 2022, not much is known about the line-up but this year’s featured bands like The Filaments, Nosebleed, Knife Club, The Domestics, Killdren, Haest, Rash Decision and Pizzatramp so if that’s anything to go by then you should expect Wotsit Called Fest to be one of the rowdiest festivals of 2022.

Till The Fest in New Cross, South London (14th to 16th October)

Till The Fest was an event that was put on by DIY promoter Till The Wheels last year to celebrate twenty years of putting on gigs. It was a huge success and was my personal highlight of the year. I was over the moon to learn that Ollie would be making it a yearly event. The event had stages at The Amersham Arms, New Cross Inn and Matchstick Piehouse, whilst also running a record fair and a five-a-side football tournament. More news about the festival is due for the new year but early bird tickets are currently available on Dice. Don’t hang about. Ollie has already announced that Inner Terrestrials, Ducking Punches, Misfortune Cookie, Roshambo, Sniff, The Restarts, The Human Project, Other Half, Harker and Early Flights for the festival.

The Fest in Gainesville, Florida (28th to 30th October)

The only North American festival on this list, Gainesville’s The Fest is also probably the biggest. They welcome hundreds of punk bands from every conceivable genre to Gainesville to basically host a worldwide family reunion. In 2022, Fest will host its twentieth edition and I suspect all the stops will be pulled out to ensure it’s the biggest one ever. I’d expect plenty of surprises in the line-up alongside all the familiar faces. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to get out to Florida for Halloween, then I look forward to seeing you there. The first line-up announcement and tickets will go live on the 20th of April.

Book Yer Ane Fest at Rad Apples and Conroy’s Basement, Dundee, Scotland (Usually the end of November)

Make-That-A-Take Records’ yearly punk rock get together Book Yer Ane Fest is one of my very favourite festivals I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. It’s perhaps the smallest in size in this preview but my goodness it’s a hell of a time. The last two additions primarily featured the very best in Scottish punk rock but bands from all over the UK and across the world have been known to make an appearance in the basement. BYAF is a celebration of all of the amazing work that MTAT do throughout the year and they also use their event to help raise much needed funds for local charities. If you’ve not been yet it should be at the top of your list.

Nice As Pie Race in Leeds (Not sure when)

Nice As Pie Race is a festival that takes place in Leeds put on by a collective promoting fun, kindness, pies and punk, what more could you possibly want? What makes the festival different to the others on this list is that all the bands the festival book feature folk who don’t classify themselves as male. There’s been a real push in the UK DIY scene to make gigs and festivals more diverse and operations like Nice As Pie are a wonderful part of this. Check out social media pages for all the upcoming details.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Album Review: Fires Forming by The Jukebox Romantics

New Yorkers The Jukebox Romantics released their long awaited new EP Fires Forming at the end of 2021. This was the band’s first new material since their split with The Sewer Rats which was released in 2018. I didn’t really start listening to them until they did a UK tour with our friends Triple Sundae in 2019, followed by a European tour in which they played Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival. I was lucky enough to catch them at that festival and absolutely loved their set. I also really enjoyed their Alkaline Trio cover set that they played the same evening. It was honest, heart on your sleeve punk rock that was written to be played in sweaty basements. That’s exactly my kind of thing so I was very keen to check out this EP. Christmas very much got in the way so now, at the beginning of January, I’m finally getting some time to check out Fires Forming.

The five track EP begins with Time To Fly. The track wastes no time in getting started, getting the EP off to a blistering start. Time To Fly is a real call to arms of a song. I don’t know if The Jukebox Romantics really stray much into the realm of politics that often but this track is one that really encourages the listener to stand up and rebel against the people who are supposed to be in charge and helping but are instead using opportunities to capitalise for themselves. This is such an uplifting way to start the EP. Up next is Hey Nora. This was the band’s lead single for the EP and they even made a fun music video featuring some wonderful dance moves. One of my first observations about the track was the pounding drum beat that provides such a thick spine for the song. It’s a simple beat but, boy oh boy, does it drive the song on. The song feels deeply personal and I believe that it’s about seeking answers on how to make the world a better place from a departed loved one. The chorus is a wonderfully catchy one that will have a room of people shouting the lyrics right back at the band.

The third track on Fires Forming is titled Dine Fleisch. On Punknews I came across a quote from the band’s Mike Terry stating that the song is about how we as humans have a choice about what we consume and how animals don’t have that choice. The song is written from the viewpoint of animals at a farming factory who are trying to plot their escape. Given the song’s meaning, it’s perhaps no great surprise that this is one of the heavier songs on the EP. I particularly enjoyed the intensity in the vocals, they really made me pay that extra bit of attention. The penultimate song on the EP is named You Spin Me (Right Said Fred). This song sounds like a bit of a nineties throwback compared to anything else on the EP. It shows that The Jukebox Romantics aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. The chorus in particular reminds me of a lot of the melodic skate punk from the 90s and early 2000s era of skate punk. The track has a bit of a chaotic ending with a melody switch and some big harmonies. The final track on the EP is Castaway. On my first listen through of the EP this was the song that stood out the most, with its slow start where the band sing about wanting to get away from their home and finding somewhere better. Soon enough the song kicks in properly and we are treated to a mid tempo basement sing-along. As I listen to the song and read the lyrics, it dawned on me that the idea of leaving a town might be a metaphor and instead the song is about dealing with mental health issues, in particular trying to get through them before it’s too late. This track really has a feeling of a final song, especially with the atmospheric “whoa-ohs” that are included and the long fade out that gives you time to really think about the final lyrics of “get me out of this world before I run out of time.”

Fires Forming is a superb addition to the Jukebox Romantics discography. This really is a solid EP from such a solid band. I only have one gripe with is, I wish they had done an entire album because as soon as it finishes I still want more. Hopefully that’s in the pipeline and they’ll be back in the UK or Europe sooner rather than later. I’m keen for another shout-along.

Stream and download Fires Forming on Bandcamp here.

Like The Jukebox Romantics on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Album Review: The Homeless Gospel Choir / Teenage Halloween Split (by Emma Prew)

If you’re a regular reader of CPRW then you probably know that we love a split release! Often it’s a chance to discover a new artist, alongside one you already know and love. In this case, I am aware of both bands involved in this split but I’d say I’m more familiar with Teenage Halloween than The Homeless Gospel Choir. This gave me the perfect opportunity to check out more of The Homeless Gospel Choir – and the new tracks from Teenage Halloween, of course! The split was released on 1st January on Don Giovanni Records and here’s what I thought of it…

Each band has two songs on the split which, as far as I’m aware, are new tracks for both bands. First up is The Homeless Gospel Choir. THGC are a raucous protest-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA, who have evolved from the solo project of Derek Zanetti to a five-piece band. Track number one, Harrisburg Shoes, wastes no time in getting started with a huge-sounding combination of warm guitar tones to welcome the listener to the split. My immediate impression of the track is that it sounds a lot less ‘folk punk’ than I was expecting but, as much as I do love my folk punk, that’s certainly not a bad thing. The guitars are wonderfully melodic and give the song a positive feeling – something I think we can all appreciate at the start of a new year – although THGS’s lyrics are notoriously not so optimistic. The second track from the band is called Pittsburgh Shoes (I’m not sure why there’s shoe theme) and it opens with the slightly bleak but relatable line of ‘It feels like it’s just you, sitting in your room, and everyday just feels the same, your friends quit calling you.’. The first verse starts slowly with the instruments taking a backseat to Derek’s pessimistic lyricism but things start to amp up as we head further into the song with plenty of distorted and fuzzy guitars soon injecting some energy into the song. The track has got that slightly raw quality to it that I’m familiar with from when I’ve previously listened to THGC. Towards the end there are also kazoos. Yes, you read that correctly. Kazoos! More kazoos in 2022, please!

Teenage Halloween take on the second half of the split. The band, who are a six-piece power-pop/indie punk band from Asbury Park, NJ, released their debut full-length in 2020 and it was on repeat an awful lot for me at the start of 2021 (it took me a few months to actually get around to listening to it – sorry!). The album featured ten passionately poppy and energetic tracks about mental health and queer struggles and the new tracks on this split continue in a similar vein but bring with them a breath of fresh air. Floating is up first and initially opens with the jangling of keys before immediately plunging us into an upbeat and catchy pop punk track. It’s a short and fairly fast-paced song that features a great exchanging of vocals between Luke and Tricia come the chorus. The layered vocals and harmonies is definitely one of my favourite things about Teenage Halloween’s music so it’s great to hear it again here. The last song on the split is called Burn. Tricia takes over on lead vocal duties here for what is probably the stand-out track of the whole EP – which is saying something because everything on this split is great. Much like the previous track, Burn is upbeat and energetic but it also feels kind of erratic, I think mostly due to the jazzy keyboard playing. Either way, I love it. The track also happens to be the perfect fist-in-the-air cathartic protest song. You only have to read the lyrics for the chorus – ‘I don’t want your empty promise, I don’t want your easy fix, I want to burn the city down, And rise from the ashes.’ – to get an idea of what makes this song so great. Alternatively, you could listen to it yourself!

Stream and download The Homeless Gospel Choir / Teenage Halloween on Bandcamp here. You can also pre-order the limited edition yellow vinyl there, which looks very nice (artwork by Maura Weaver, of THGC).

Like The Homeless Gospel Choir on Facebook here and like Teenage Halloween on Facebook here.

The Homeless Gospel Choir are touring the UK in the summer which I’m very much looking forward to. Hopefully I will be able to see Teenage Halloween live as well, somewhere down the line!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Column: Colin talks about 2021 and Previews 2022

Do I usually write a column piece for the beginning of the year? I can’t remember and checking will be about six clicks I can’t be bothered with. If I did, what did I write about? I guess review the previous year and talk about our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the upcoming year. That seems like the appropriate thing for a column like this to cover. Off we go then, let’s try that.

As ever, I don’t want to dwell too much on the negative things that happened in 2021. We all know there were many awful things that happened all over the world and we can all do better to try and improve things for everyone in the future. I feel incredibly lucky to be in a bubble with the DIY punk community who are constantly inspiring me with their efforts in helping to make the world a better place, whether it’s raising money, offering help or educating people in matters of importance. It’s wonderful to see.

For Colin’s Punk Rock World we continued to plod along as best we could. We mostly wrote album reviews but as the winter finished and spring began I lost all motivation to write album reviews anymore. It was partly because I was struggling to find anything I was particularly excited to write about and partly because album reviews were the only thing I was writing and I missed writing about gigs. I made the hard decision to put CPRW on a hiatus until gigs could return properly and I could write about them as well. I’ve always said that the thing I most enjoy about CPRW is writing gig and festival reviews.

You might be wondering what I got up to in the hiatus. We did record some podcasts and had a lot of fun doing them but the thing I spent the majority of my time doing was making my way through a massive playlist of bands that were playing The Fest in Gainesville (a festival we had hoped to go to this year but unfortunately could not) whilst also playing Football Manager. I’ve got back into playing Football Manager in a big way during the duration of this pesky pandemic and I spent the summer taking Braintree Town FC from the National League South to winning the Champions League and it was a wonderful time. If you want, ask me about the big save I’m attempting on Football Manager 2022. I’m sure Emma would rather I talk about it with someone else other than her.

In August of 2021 gigs were allowed to return, for Emma and I this meant a return to our beloved New Cross Inn. Our first gig back was King Punch supported by 3dBs Down and Last Edition. I could not think of a better way for live music to return. Watching three upbeat and fun bands inside my favourite four walls with loads of friends that we hadn’t be able to see for 18 months was a great feeling. We were lucky enough to get to 13 gigs in total and I quickly realised that, as much as I had missed live music, what I had missed the most was spending time with friends and just being in the positive atmosphere that generates when the DIY scene comes together. I’ve often said that we start going to gigs for the music but we continue to go for the people. Till The Fest was a perfect example of this, I missed so many bands I had planned on seeing just because I was having a lovely time catching up with so many great people.

Speaking of gigs, in previous years I have written about my ten favourite sets of the year. I just wanted to list a few of my favourite sets of the year.

3dBS Down at New Cross Inn, London
Call Me Malcolm (Album Launch) at New Cross Inn, London
Popes Of Chillitown at Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield
A at Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield
Out Of Love (First Ever Show) at Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
Slug Puppie at The Exchange, Bristol
Triple Sundae at Amersham Arms, London
Party Boss at Matchstick Piehouse, London
Apologies, I Have None at New Cross Inn, London
Lightyear at New Cross Inn, London
Roshambo at New Cross Inn, London
Andy B and the World, New Cross Inn, London
Triple Sundae at Old Blue Last, London
Burnt Tapes at Old Blue Last, London
Alldeepends at New Cross Inn, London
Faintest Idea at Camden Underworld, London
Plot 32 at Bread Shed, Manchester
Call Me Malcolm at Bread Shed, Manchester
Popes Of Chillitown at Bread Shed, Manchester

As I said, I was lucky enough to get to 13 gigs between August and the end of the year. Sadly that pesky pandemic decided to ruin folks plans again so the gig year didn’t end in a way that anyone had wanted. Hopefully it doesn’t cause too much chaos for promoters and venues in the new year and we can get back to attending gigs as safely as possible early in the new year.

I don’t think we have tickets for too many gigs for 2022 yet, the main one that comes to mind is when Alkaline Trio and Taking Back Sunday come to London in March. But we are also planning on attending Fishstock, Manchester Punk Festival, Slam Dunk, Bristol and Hamburg Booze Cruises, Level Up Festival, Punk Rock Holiday, Till The Fest, The Fest and Book Yer Ane Fest in 2022 – all going to plan. I hope I won’t be tempting fate for the year but I will be writing a preview of the punk festival calendar in 2022 soon. Fingers crossed they can all go ahead.

With gigs starting again that meant CPRW returned and with our come back came soome excellent additions to our team of writers. We were fortunate enough to add four more writers to our team which added some renewed motivation for everyone. It was fun to do CPRW again. The expansion of our team meant we added some more diversity to what we’re reviewing due to our different tastes and I believe that’s added a great new element to CPRW for our beautiful readers. It was also fun seeing everyone’s end of year lists. In total we featured 82 different albums on our lists – really showcasing what a strong year for punk music 2021 turned out to be despite all the hurdles we had to overcome.

I feel like the CPRW Podcast continued to improve. I think that my hosting skills have come on a long way and I’m getting much more comfortable behind the microphone. I’ve enjoyed the group chats among the CPRW gang as well as welcoming special guests (mostly friends I’ve made in the DIY scene) and I’ve even conducted some interviews, something I never expected to be able to do on the podcast. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to watch and listen or even appear on the podcast. It’s been a fun thing which we plan to keep on doing in 2022.

CPRW Records had a quiet year but we did manage to release two compilations and our good friend Wayfairer’s debut full length, if you’ve not checked that our yet then please do so here. I have a Zoom meeting scheduled soon (perhaps it’s already happened when you’re reading this) for our first release of 2022, more will be revealed when we have more details but make sure you follow the CPRW Records Facebook and Bandcamp pages to stay up to date.

We’re looking forward to plenty of our favourite bands releasing new music and discovering lots of new favourite bands in 2022. Obviously, we’ll be covering as many as we can on CPRW. As with all small, DIY punk endeavours we rely heavily on word of mouth to help the blog grow. Social media algorithms are not our friend and all the help we can get to spread our words is more helpful than you can possibly imagine. Every like, share, comment, retweet etc. is really helpful in ensuring that our posts find their way to everyone’s newsfeeds. If you read a review and discover a new favourite band, please tell us in the comments – it makes us very happy. One of my happiest moments last year (aside from Braintree winning the Champions League) was when I learnt that a someone had signed a band I reviewed based partly on a review I wrote. It really helped validate the amount of time I spend doing CPRW.

I think this post is long enough now and I want to make some lunch and get back to my Football Manager save. Thanks as always for checking us out and being really nice to us. Sometimes I get really awkward when people come and say nice things to me in person but I’m going to try and be better at that.

Best wishes to you all and hopefully we can have many fun times with great music and amazing people this year.

This column was written by Colin Clark.