Monday, 28 February 2022

Album Review: So It Goes by The Butts

The Butts are a pop punk band from Austin, Texas. I’ve been aware of them since the summer of 2019 when they released their Nightmare At Area 51 EP. Now the band are back with a ten song full length titled So It Goes. Lead by the dual vocals of Kurt Koegler and Kevy Bergman, I was hoping for another big slice of fun pop punk from the band. Time to dive right in.

So It Goes begins with the song I’m Getting Old. This, as you probably would have guessed, is a song about ageing. As soon as the song starts there’s this brilliant energy that invites you in to the entire album and I particularly enjoyed the use of the keys in the track. From the outset The Butts show off the dual vocal capabilities as Kurt and Kevy share the opening verse and then combine for the chorus. There’s a feeling of positivity in the song that you don’t often hear in songs about getting older. There’s a message about how no matter all the ways it seems that your body is crumbling, it’s okay that you’re getting old as there’s plenty of things to look forward to. Next up is Ruiner. This track keeps the energy going as Kevy takes over lead vocal duties. Ruiner is about being that person who makes a scene and spoils special occasions with their behaviour, realising that it’s you and wanting to change. The song continues at a high octane throughout the majority of its duration, it only really slows and has a change of melody as Kevy croons one last chorus.

The third song is titled I Wanna Take You To Prague. It’s Kurt’s turn to take lead vocals on this upbeat song about getting their life in order so that they can take their partner to Prague. The hook line of the song’s title really grabs you each time it’s sung and Kurt sings about all the fun things they can do once they get there. It’s not a song that reinvents the pop punk wheel but it does put a smile on my face which is all that matters to me. The Black Tar Heroine was released as a single by the band in December 2021 in the build up to the album’s release. This is a sad song that tells the story of the relationship between a shop worker and an addict. It starts out with the shop worker being on break and the addict coming and asking for some drugs. As the song and story plays out, the worker helps with getting things from the shop before he sees them at their lowest and the last time they meet where the addict is at their worst before getting taken away by an ambulance and is never seen again. Like I said, it’s a sad song but also a great piece of songwriting story telling. Catholic Guilt brings us to the halfway mark of the album. The Butts’ sound takes a bit of a turn on the first half of the track with a slow style that I wasn’t such a fan of but as soon as they bring the tempo back up they pulled me back in immediately. The track is about growing up as a Catholic and the confusion that it seemed to bring Kurt. The song shows the band aren’t afraid to step away from their bread and butter pop punk sound with slower tempos, changing melodies and some acoustic lullabies included. This is such a creative song.

Track six is Instagram Vacation. This song sees Kevy and Kurt share vocals once again, each telling the story of showing off about their lives on social media. I think there’s a lot of tongue in cheek fun poking towards people who post their lives on the Internet, in the hope that people will see what they’re up to and feel jealous. After the serious topics of the previous two tracks, this was a nice palette cleanser with more of a fun, silly song. Outlanders At The George Room is another more serious song. It’s a song about an unfortunate visit to a bar in their hometown that’s run by and is full of racists and homophobes. It doesn’t sound like a pleasant place to spend any time at all. The lyrics do a great job in setting the scene. If you take the time to listen, I think we can all imagine what the place looks like. When I first listened to The Final Text Exchange it hit me hard. The song opens with a audio clip from former president George W. Bush addressing a school shooting. From there, Kevy takes lead vocals and plays the part of a child trapped in the school whilst the horror of a school shooting takes place. During the song they sing the messages that the child sends to their father. Kurt then takes the second verse of the dad replying to his child trying to calm them and give them hope that it’ll be okay. Finally the song finishes with Kevy telling they dad that they got out but which teacher and friend didn’t, before a clip of former president Barrack Obama talking about a school shooting. Having the two different presidents bookending the song shows how this is a problem in the United States that won’t go away and makes the whole scenario even more tragic. This is a really powerful song that should perhaps come with a trigger warning.

The penultimate song is titled No Step On Snek. This is a song that goes on an all out assault against red neck Americans. The ones who have big pick up trucks, guns, love for the president and preach all lives matter. In my head, I’m also imagining them missing some teeth and chewing on a piece of straw. That last image might be because of the harmonica and foot stomping sound used at the end of the song. It’s a fun song that also highlights that there are some rubbish people out there who still need a lot of educating. I can imagine this song being quite the crowd pleaser at a Butts show. The tenth and final song is the album’s title track, So It Goes. At the risk of repeating every review I’ve written over the past six months, the final song on an album needs to be big and The Butts have achieved this. So It Goes is much slower than anything else on the album and really feels like a barroom sing-along. I think each of the verses on the song is sung by a different person and they talk about the rubbish things that happen in their life but how, overall, they are just trying to get on with things. This is the kind of song I could listen to twenty times in a row and find a different cool lyric each and every time. A very fitting way to finish the album.

I was so impressed by So It Goes. The Butts seem to have taken their songwriting to a whole new level here. It’s still a lot of fun but the range of topics that are covered is varied. When I first sat down to listen to it, I did not expect to be emotionally moved by one song let alone two. This is a must listen if you’re a fan of pop punk music.

Stream and downloaded So It Goes on Bandcamp here.

Like The Butts on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 25 February 2022

CPRW Playlist: February 2022

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

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Album Review: Audible Trauma by Loss Of Signal (by Lara Roberts)

“What year is it?” pleads Alan Parrish in the iconic 90s film, Jumanji. “1995, remember?” replies Judy Shepherd. After pressing play on Audible Trauma, I can honestly say that I now know exactly how Alan felt in that moment.

After discovering Blink 182 and Green Day in my early teens, I started to look for similar sounding bands (not using Napster or Limewire, I promise). After some searching and compilation-listening, I found smaller labels and bands including The Ataris and Useless ID, with their albums Anywhere But Here and Bad Story Happy Ending respectively hardly ever leaving my portable CD player. Both of those albums are still two of my all-time favourites, and they both have a certain sound that I can’t quite describe, but it’s a sound of familiarity and nostalgia. As I’ve gotten older and listened to more pop-punk bands of that era, it seems like there was a certain style that the smaller label pop-punk bands had, and it’s a sound that I haven’t heard it since the early 00s. But then I played Loss Of Signal’s debut album Audible Trauma.

As you make your way through this album, the band’s influences will come as no surprise – Blink 182, Green Day, Sum 41. Products Of Our Time opens up with a nod to the NOFX classic Dinosaurs Will Die, leading us on to the single Underdogs. This song really sets the tone for the rest of the album – adorable melodies, sweet harmonies, a catchy chorus, great guitar riffs. For me, this song is a big old calling to Allister’s classic 2002 album Last Stop Suburbia.

For the Blink 182 fans (I see you), Grown Ups will instantly grab your attention with Barker-esque drumming. Then there’s the Delonge-sounding opening riff to Break Out. The vocals on Home are a mixture of self-titled era Hoppus and Delonge. But as clear as the influences are, Loss Of Signal still make the songs their own.

It’s a tale as old as time – songs about love and loss, with a dash of politics (that’s the punk part of pop-punk, of course). If you grew up during the heady days of the golden era of pop-punk – late 90s to the mid 00s – I can’t recommend this album enough. Audible Trauma is an absolute joy to listen to. I found myself reminiscing of my younger years, of friends that I’ve loved and lost. The album reminded me of the excitement I felt when I first discovered the bands that I still listen to and love, even 20 years later. Loss Of Signal know that if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Stream and download Audible Trauma on Bandcamp here.

Like Loss Of Signal on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lara Roberts.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Album Review: Isolation by After The Fall (by Brett Coomer)

I was a little concerned that after waiting for what felt like a long time before the release of Dedication in 2020, one of my favourite albums of that year, After The Fall would make us wait another 5 years before releasing their seventh album. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried because it’s early 2022 and the Albany, New York, four-piece have thankfully given us a brand new album entitled Isolation. With 10 new tracks squeezed into 17 minutes, the songs are played at a mostly blistering pace, but without sacrificing any melody, lyricism or technical proficiency.

‘Ghosts’ kicks things off at high speed, showcasing the duelling vocals of Mike and Jasmine very nicely. Fast, short and sweet, this is the After The Fall everyone has grown to love and provides a great start to the album. Jasmine’s vocals pair perfectly with Mike’s and are prominent throughout the album. It makes for a really great dynamic and has become one of my favourite vocal combinations in punk.

‘Adios Amigo’ follows and is a surprisingly mid-tempo song with a catchy melody and some nice lead guitar flourishes. I may be missing some nuance behind the song but I feel like the lyrics are directed at a certain music label (and owner) the band was previously involved with who messed around with an album release. After the brief reprieve, the speed is turned up again with ‘Degradation’. The pace is perfect for the anger directed at the pro-white, blue-lives-matter, alt-right section of the population. The song also features some of the best dual vocal harmonies heard since Jasmine joined the band.

‘Firewood’ is a song that would fit right in on any of the band’s previous releases. It’s fast, it’s melodic, but it’s also a melancholic love song with lyrics that describe what it feels like to meet and be with the person who makes everything feel right and the willingness to sacrifice in order to keep that feeling.

‘Gas Money’ is the first song on the album fronted by Jasmine. It’s angry, fast and seems to be a clear message to the music industry, which continues to pay smaller independent bands terribly.

Next up is another more mid-tempo song that just passes the 2 minute mark. ‘Break A Leg’ proves that After The Fall doesn’t have to play everything fast to sound great. The song serves as a reminder to people motivated by wealth and success that stepping over people to achieve that could leave them with an empty life without love.

‘Failed You’ is like the sad ending to the story started with ‘Firewood’, a poignant song reflecting on the acceptance of a failed relationship and the point in time at which the realisation occurred. It’s another great example of how well the vocals of Jasmine and Mike compliment each other.

The two songs that follow have a combined length of 1:30, which is short even by punk rock standards. The first is the title track ‘Isolation’, which perfectly expresses the feelings most of us have experienced over the last 2 years while being mostly stuck at home. The second is ‘Smashed State’, which has some hints of 90s pop-punk and a melody most bands would kill to match with songs twice as long.

‘Mileage’, the album closer, is only the third song to crack 2 minutes and it takes advantage of the extra time available with 3 verses, providing both Mike and Jasmine an opportunity to sing a verse each as well as a guest appearance by Jon Snodgrass. The chorus is catchy and really hits home with the message that “things will never be the same again”.

If you were a fan of previous After The Fall releases, the 17-minute length of Isolation won’t surprise you. The quality of the songwriting and the Blasting Room production won’t shock you either. What might surprise you is how the band manages to stay so consistent without rehashing old ideas or sounding stale. The songs are like quick, sharp punk-rock jabs delivering endorphins and adrenaline. Even the slower or longer songs never feel out of place or insincere. And when the album is over, all you’ll want to do is find the play button to start it over again.

Stream and download Isolation on Bandcamp here.

Like After The Fall on Facebook here.

This review was written by Brett Coomer.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Gig Review: Filthy Militia Coping Mechanism EP Launch At The Black Heart, Camden 12/2/22

I always enjoy an album or EP launch party. There’s something about them that always seems to add some extra excitement in the crowd and the bands seem to bring that little bit more to their performances. It’s a good time all around. On Saturday the 12th of February, London ska punks Filthy Militia had their launch night for their new EP Coping Mechanism, at the Black Heart in Camden. The band had also invited their long time friends Codename Colin, Easydread and Laurence Crow to play the show. It was set to be a great night.

After finishing work we hurried to the station and made our way to London. Whilst on our way we discovered our branch of the Northern line was closed so would have to find another route to Camden for the gig (thanks for the heads up, Paul). This unfortunately delayed us getting to the Black Heart on time, as well as making me have to hear a busker playing Wonderwall. When we made it into the venue Laurence Crow was already a good way through his set. This was billed as Laurence’s last acoustic show and he seemed to be doing his utmost to make sure that he and everyone in attendance was having the best possible time. From what I managed to catch it, was an enthusiastic and spirited performance. The perfect opener to get the crowd warmed up for the rest of the night.

Next up were Bedfordshire ska/reggae act Easydread. I love Easydread. They’re my local band but this was my first time seeing them in years. There was a time when it felt like I saw them every month. On this occasion they were playing as a seven piece, which included a four person brass section which sound amazing. The band decided to start their set a little early so they could attempt to squeeze an extra song in (spoiler: they unfortunately failed). As it had been so long since I’d seen Easydread, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy seeing them live. The first half of the set seemed to be mostly new songs that they all STILL yet to release – but all sound fantastic. They then finished their set with classics such as Crosshatch Line, Fyah and, of course, Scrotes. It was a great set and I really enjoyed seeing how giddy they all seemed to be playing together again. When a band has as much fun as Easydread did it’s hard for that energy not to find its way into the crowd.

Codename Colin are one of the bands I’ve seen the most amount of times since gigs started to come back. They’re a band we’ve needed as they always bring the party-fun-times to their shows. Despite being a man down and Snowy having to be a one person brass section, they had the same energy and enthusiasm as always. Leaning into the pop punk side of ska, the band get off to a blistering start, instantly getting the crowd on side for a sing-along. To my surprise they played Kelly’s Missing as their second song. This got plenty of fists in the air with that brilliant chorus calling out pay to play gigs. From then on, they stormed through their set, showcasing just how many really good songs they have in their repertoire. They did take the time out to play a brand new song that they are in the process of recording as well as their now traditional cover of I Just Can’t Get Enough which lead to a room sized circle pit. There was unfortunately a moment where frontman Charlie had to ask some of the crowd to calm down slightly as some were getting too rowdy. I felt like he dealt with it brilliantly and the rest of the set went off without a hitch. This was a rare chance to see Codename Colin play a longer set and they absolutely smashed it. Great stuff.

It was soon time for the evening’s main event, Filthy Militia. This moment had been a long time coming for the band. The process of writing songs, doing their Kickstarter funding, recording Coping Mechanism and then finally getting the EP released had been over a year in the making and the band were now about to play the set of their lives. Starting the set with Coping Mechanism’s opener Another Day got the next forty-five minutes or so off to a wild start. It was nice to see the venue so busy and so excited for the set and that excitement only escalated as it went on. As well as playing all of the songs from Coping Mechanism, the band also played tracks from their first EP, Innocent Until Proven Filthy, as well as, the rarely performed live, Jesus. I was fortunate enough to get the EP early because Frosty is a super babe and I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since so it was really cool to see the songs performed live. All were performed excellently and are making fantastic additions to the Filthy Militia live experience. Filthy Militia are a band that also like to have a bit of fun when they play live. At one point they stopped playing a song (I can’t remember which) to play the theme tune to the classic CBBC cartoon Arthur which got a great reaction. The highlight of the set for me was when they played the awesome Differences from Coping Mechanism. It’s a song about people overcoming the things that set them apart to unite. It’s a wholesome and positive song that feels as needed as ever in the current societal climate and it was great to have a sing-along to it. Despite it being the most complicated sing-along in ska punk. It’s not a classic Codename Colin “whoa-oh” segment that’s fer sho! When a whole room sings along though, it’s a special moment and I can’t wait for the next time I get to experience it. The set was finished in epic fashion with Land Of The Dead. The band were joined on stage by Tom Crabb of Lead Shot Hazard to play guitar so that Frosty could get in the crowd to sing the song. This then ended up with Frosty getting lifted up by the crowd and surfed within a three metre radius of the microphone – that’s how long the cable was. It all turned into a chaotic mess but it was just wonderful to see. Frosty’s best friend Sleeman hopped on stage to lead the chanting finale of the song and in one of the sweetest moments in gig history (maybe) they pointed Frosty out and said ‘that’s my friend’ with so much pride. It was wonderful.

I said in my review of the EP that Coping Mechanism was Filthy Militia taking things up a step. This set proved that they are no longer show openers and could easily find themselves in positions much higher up any ska punk bill and I’ve no doubt they’ll soon be headlining shows on regular occasions. It was a lovely night.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos also by Colin.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Album Review: Redeemon by Redeemon

The age old argument of how many tracks makes an album or it’s too long to be an EP is sure to rear its debatably ugly head in December when folk start compiling their end of year lists and have to work out which the self-titled debut from Redeemon is. It’s only five tracks but it is almost thirty minutes long. I’d argue that it’s an album but I’m sure someone will tell me I’m wrong. What we won’t disagree on is that it’s a really bloody good collection of songs from the band.

If you’re unaware of Redeemon, they are the new band forming out of the ashes of former UK skacore favourites Beat The Red Light. Featuring members of BTRL, Smokey Bastard, Junction Of Tiger Street and Voodoo Glow Skulls (recording only), the band are set to finally release their debut on Pookout Records in the Spring. Because Pook is a mega babe, he sent me an early copy for review. Such a babe, have you seen the man’s hair, it’s glorious… anyway, reviewing the skacore time.

We open things up with Operation Burnout. The track starts out with some slow drums before the brass and some guitar begin to build the song up. It also sounds as if there is some violin involved in this introduction. The feeling of anticipation grows massively and by the time we get to a saxophone screech and Pook’s vocals come in, you’re ready to get on this rollercoaster ride. BTRL were known for the heavier vocal growls but they’re not here. Instead we get the more melodic side of Pook. The song switches between theatrical alternative and upbeat ska in a way that you can only imagine these guys attempting. This is followed up by Pressure Switch. After another epic opening – a theme with all Redeemon songs – Pressure Switch shows off the heavier side of Redeemon. Pook’s deathly growls sound as good as ever and the guitars in the first third of the song totally shred. Soon the song switches back to the more melodic style that we heard in the opener. The song switches styles effortlessly and it never feels forced and manages to flow nicely. This is a real testament to the time the band spent crafting these songs. Even towards the song’s final minute, when the band get really quiet and atmospheric, it sounds perfectly placed and the build back up is just wonderful.

Redeemon originally released Anaphylactic as a single to give people a tease of what to expect from the band in the future. It feels like ages ago that it came out and I’m glad to see it make an appearance here. It was the perfect choice for a single as it encapsulates everything Redeemon do so well. Starting with some big brass and some shredding guitars, duelling with one another before coming together as one, until the tempo switches and we get this upbeat horn line that will get even the biggest metalheads having a skank. That horn line is one of my favourites I’ve heard in a long time and it fills the song with some great energy. The penultimate song on the album is titled Finest Mistakes. The band’s metal influences come out in full on this one. It’s one to really get your moshing boots on for and I wish I had a head of hair like Pook to have a proper headbang with. Once again, the guitars and brass sync up perfectly in ways that you don’t often hear. The creativity on display is something you’ve just got to hear to believe. Last but certainly not least is Escapade. I always say that the last track on an album needs to feel epic. I did wonder how Redeemon would pull this off as every other track already has an epic sound. Is it possible to go bigger than epic? Redeemon somehow managed to accomplish this by bringing in an acoustic guitar to start the song. This softer, more vulnerable side of the band came as quite the shock. It’s not long before the band plug back in and some electric guitars and brass begin to accompany the acoustic guitar and the song continues its long build. Pook’s vocals come in and I can’t help but think of Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. It’s a big hook and has plenty of emotion behind it. We reach the halfway point of the song and it’s time for Redeemon to get all Redeemon again with some fast paced upstrokes. This is a song that really showcases what incredible musicians everyone in Redeemon is and it is a very fitting way to finish things off.

You will not listen to a more creative, experimental (in a good way), musically proficient release this year. When I make that claim I’m talking about all genres of music as well; not just punk and ska. This album has been a long time coming but my goodess it’s been worth the wait.

Preorder Redeemon from Pookout Records here (and check out their distro for all your ska punk needs).

You can listen to Anaphylactic on Bandcamp here in the meantime and like Redeemon on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Album Review: Rare Instances Of Independent Thinking by I Like Allie (by Lara Roberts)

The first full length from I Like Allie, they began recording this album in 2019 in Milan, and continued through 2020. Due to the pandemic, the band hit a few obstacles during recording and it took longer than planned, but the album was released in October 2021 on Engineer Records (UK), Paper + Plastick (US), No Reason Records (EU), and General Soreness Records (It).

The album itself is an honest exploration of anxiety, depression, peer pressure, and ultimately trying to let negativity go. Opening Number quietly eases the album open, layering vocals with a slight crescendo, while bleeding nicely into Your Superpowers Are Stupid. This is a pop-punk infused treat, with more defined guitars and faster drums, and a hint of them pushing through the “standard” pop-punk sound. Loss and regret are covered in the short song How Weak I Can Be – a sweet little love letter of a tune with lyrics that are easy to relate to. The album sways back and forth between classic melodic pop-punk and incorporating new ideas into the mix, calling on the different musical styles and tastes of each band member (eg. Cliches of Love Stories and title track Rare Instances of Independent Thinking). Laura Stevenson lends her vocals at the end of the album, adding a light, ghostly backdrop to Renato’s lead. 

Here’s the thing. I love 90s emo and melodic hardcore, and I really wanted this album to work for me – Jeff Dean engineered the album (who also worked with Samiam, Braid), and Dan Coutant mastered it (The World Is A Beautiful Place, War On Women), which obviously peaked my interest when I read the press kit. On top of that, I adored I Like Allie’s 2016 emo-pop-punk EP The Wounds You Leave, but I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing from Rare Instances Of Independent Thinking, even though I’m not sure what that thing is.

Saying that, I can’t fault the band for trying a new avenue, and experimenting with maturing their earlier pop-punk/pop-emo sound. There is a gentle vulnerability in Renato’s voice that lends itself very well to that early emo sound, and it really does feel like they’ve taken on a lot of influence from 90s melodic emo bands, and looked to merge it with their own.

Stream and download Rare Instances Of Independent Thinking on Bandcamp here.

Like I Like Allie on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lara Roberts.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Albums Not Pressed On Vinyl

A few weeks ago you might have seen a post on this website where our buddy Chris, who is also an Instagram celebrity known as Vinyl.Systems, told us ten albums he would love to see pressed onto vinyl. This, of course, got me thinking about ten album that I wish were pressed on the wax so this is what you’re about to read.

Like Chris, I figured I could give a brief history of my vinyl collecting story. I’ve always been a big collector of things. When I get an idea in my head, I often get quite locked on and obsessed by it. I used to have a ridiculous collection of DVDs. At one point my tiny box room at my mum’s looked like a tiny Blockbusters. When I started to get into punk music in the early 2000s, I started to buy CDs. At the time vinyl records weren’t anywhere near as popular as they are now and neither of the two music shops in Colchester even stocked vinyl records. After about ten years of seemingly buying every single CD I could get my hands on I amassed a collection of well over 1000. It was a bit silly, particularly because I barely listened to them. It must have been around 2014, when I noticed that more people were beginning to buy vinyl again. Initially I fought against the urge to get involved because I knew what I was like when it came to starting collections. Other than knowing how obsessed I get when starting collections, I was also aware of the space issues, the fact I didn’t own a turntable and I didn’t want to re-buy a load of music once again. Then I met my partner, Emma. She had started her own record collection. I have a distinct memory of the first time I visited her flat and checking out her record collection. I remember loving the extra detail in the artwork and the whole process of putting a record on. It felt like so much more of an event than playing a CD or digital music. This was probably the moment where my resolve and resistance about starting my own collection failed. And, good gosh, it failed in a big way. My collection grew very quickly and it continues to grow at a rate that is probably not smart. At the time of writing this, mine and Emma’s combined collection has 660 items. I’m sure by the time you’re reading this, it will have grown even more though.

This year I set myself a bit of a new year’s resolution/challenge to listen to our collection more and to post a different record each day on my Instagram page. The posting on Instagram is basically a way to hold myself accountable to keep doing it. If you want to follow my progress my Instagram handle is ColinsPRW. While doing this challenge, I’ve really fallen in love with listening to complete albums again and it’s made me listen to some albums that I’ve not listened to in years. I’ve also realised that most albums have a different memory attached to them. I’ll get a record off the shelf, usually picked by using the Discogs app’s shaky shaky feature, and I’ll instantly remember where I brought it, whether it’s from a gig, a record shop, a fair, on a holiday, something I took a punt on – all sorts of great memories. It’s nice to see Colin’s Punk Rock World thanked in the sleeve notes from some of the DIY bands we’ve helped and made friends with. Basically, I really like vinyl records and I love adding to our collection. I also love ordering them properly on the shelves – alphabetically by band and then chronologically in case you were wondering. Anyway, here are ten that I’d love to see pressed so I can add them to my collection.

Disclaimer: These are ten albums that aren’t pressed on vinyl as far as I’m aware. If they are, please let me know so I can track them down and add to the collection.

Disclaimer number two: I could have easily picked ten albums from the late 90s early 2000s era of UK punk rock as not a lot of those albums got vinyl releases. For the sake of variety, I decided to just stick with three from that era though. I’d also love to see King Prawn – Got The Thirst get a vinyl pressing, though. And the entire Captain Everything! discography.

Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad’s debut album Roach put the Manchester punks on a lot of people’s radars before Dirt Mall began to give them more attention from the entire alternative scene. With Dirt Mall and Salad’s more recent singles, they seem to be stepping further and further away from the Roach sound so I don’t know how likely a vinyl run of the album will ever be. I’d love to see it though.

Allister – Dead Ends And Girlfriends

Allister’s second album, Last Stop Suburbia, is one of my favourite pop punk albums of all time. I’m also very keen on their debut Dead Ends And Girlfriends which came out in 1999. Sixteen tracks in just thirty-two minutes says a lot of what to expect from the album. It’s certainly not as polished as Last Stop Suburbia but it’s got hooks for days as well as a wonderful cover of I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys. Some of the songs from the album got a vinyl release thanks to a best of vinyl that came out a couple of years ago but I’d much prefer the whole album with the original versions.

Chewing On Tinfoil – Get Rich Or Try Dyin’

In the past few years Chewie have released their most recent album and EP, Marrowbone Lane and Moving The Goalposts, on vinyl so here’s hoping they also find the time and – probably more importantly, money – to release their debut, Get Rich Or Try Dyin’, as well. Over the years Chewie have moved away from the ska sounds on this album. I believe the band have been working on a new album so I can’t expect getting this released on wax is anywhere near the top of their band “to do” list, but hopefully one day it’ll happen.

The Exhausts – Leave The Suburbs!

After we published Chris’ list, Tommy from The Exhausts said he would have loved to get Leave The Suburbs released on vinyl. I agreed wholeheartedly. That’s why I put it on this list. The Exhausts were a three piece based in London who played scrappy pop punk. In 2015 they released their final album Leave The Suburbs! and I absolutely fell in love with it. Ten of the catchiest pop tracks about the struggles of being in your twenties you’re ever likely to hear with some superb dual vocals.

Fletcher – My Revenge

London’s Fletcher are the first of my three picks from the early 2000s UK punk rock scene. The band only released one full length album while they were together but what an album – it was amazing. Listening back to My Revenge today, almost twenty years after it was originally released, I can’t help but think it was ten years before it’s time. It features twelve brilliantly crafted melodic gruff punk bangers that if they were released in 2013 would have been huge in the scene.

Jesse James – Punk Soul Brothers

I was absolutely obsessed with Jesse James back in the day. As one of my favourite bands when I first discovered the world of UK punk rock, I listened to Punk Soul Brothers so much that I had to buy a second copy. It was one of those albums where I could sing along to every word and probably still could now twenty years later. The album brilliantly combines punk rock and soul music with a great brass section and ridiculously catchy tunes that will find a home in your brain for absolutely ages. I could have happily picked all three Jesse James albums for this list but chose Punk Soul Brothers because it was the first I heard.

The Johnstones – Word Is Bond

In my essay of an introduction I talked about how music is like a time stamp for memories. You can remember what you were listening to at certain points in your life. This is why The Johnstones – Word Is Bond has a place on this list. The Johnstones were a ska punk band from Canada who released three albums through the brilliant Stomp Records. In the summer of 2010, I broke my leg which meant I spent a lot of time on my own at home. I listened to The Johnstones so much during that summer, I can’t help but feel as if the upbeat, fun, not taking themselves at all seriously nature of their music really helped me not get depressed. I’ll fully admit that a lot of the content on the album probably wouldn’t go down well in the more PC world that we live in today but these songs helped me a lot and I’d love to own it on vinyl.

Just Say Nay – Maximum Effort

Maximum Effort by Just Say Nay is one of the best ska punk albums released anywhere in the world during the past ten years and it’s an absolute catastrophe that it never got released on vinyl. The South London/Kent nine piece released this damn near perfect album in 2019 and it should’ve catapulted them to the very top of the ska punk tree. Combining all things ska, punk, reggae and gypsy-punk and getting stunning results, Maximum Effort is a lot of fun but it’s also full of thoughtful, poignant and smart lyrics and some top notch musicianship. It also features the epic Kuromouri – an eight minute long masterpiece that needs to be heard by everyone. Unfortunately the band decided to call it a day in November of 2021 so the likelihood of a Maximum Effort vinyl release is oh so low but I can dream.

[Spunge] – Too Little Too Late

Of course [Spunge] would be on this list. I’ve spoken about how [Spunge] are my gateway band to punk rock so many times you’re probably bored of it now. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like our vinyl collection is complete until I get the album that started it all for me on vinyl though. The Story So Far was the first [Spunge] album I ever heard and bought and I still absolutely adore it. It’s another where I could easily recite every single word even twenty years later. I do happen to have a Jump On Demand 7” single that the band released in the build up to the album that I found whilst crate digging on holiday in Japan but I NEED Too Little Too late too. Also this year is the album’s twenty year anniversary, so how about an album show at some point too?

Tens – Tens

I would guess that for regular readers of CPRW, Tens are the band you are least familiar with. They are a three piece punk rock band from Chicago. They released their only full length in 2016. I was fortunate enough to be sent an early copy thanks to the fact I do CPRW. Start a music blog folks – sometimes people send you really cool things to listen to! I really enjoyed the album. I’m a big fan of the melodic punk, gruff vocals, a big sing-along style and Tens (also the album title) is packed with it. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend The Fest in Gainesville in 2016 – Tens played and it was one of my favourite sets of the entire weekend. This album would sound great on vinyl.

There’s my list. If you enjoyed it let us know and maybe another member of the team could write their own list and we could make this a series. And, as I said previously, if one of the albums mentioned has been released without me knowing, please send me links so I can buy it!

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Album Review: Self​-​Titled by Creekwood Adjacent

Creekwood Adjacent are a band from Wilmington, North Carolina, who play raw melodic pop punk music. I stumbled upon them thanks to the fine folk at Punk Rock Radar just as they released their self-titled album at the beginning of the year. The first thing that really caught my attention was a superb cover that I’ll get to later but I found the entire record to have a lot of charm.

Giving Up gets the album off to a flying start. Some guitars and drums build the song up before some gruff and raspy vocals kick things off properly. I’m really reminded of early Burnt Tapes with the style. The band are not polished but do capture some raw emotion which I loved. This is a hook filled song that really welcomes you into the album. Adderall You Can Eat opens with a bass line and some vocals that are quite striking. When the whole band comes in, they feel quite muted compared to the vocals. I guess this is to really allow you listen to the track’s lyrics as Creekwood Adjacent sing about using medication to help with your mental health issues and block out the voices in your head.

The third song is named Oblivia. Starting with an obnoxious “one, two, fuck you!” the song is a venom filled song covering the aftermath of a relationship. The rawness of the vocals displays plenty of hurt and emotion but it in no way feels like an ‘emo’ song. White Guy Named Jerome is a song title that really stood out. The song sees Creekwood Adjacent change up their sound slightly. The track begins with some heavier, more shredding like guitars that you might expect in a metal song. When the vocals come in, we’re greeted by the more familiar Creekwood Adjacent sound but the metal style remains in the background. The two styles blend very well together and give the song a unique quality.

The second half of the album starts with Pissing In The Wind. Pissing In The Wind is a simple, catchy punk rock song about how, no matter how hard you try, it feels like you’re always fighting an uphill struggle. A big chunk of the song is the line “pissing in the wind” that’s beautifully harmonised with some “whoa-ohs”. This will certainly be a crowd pleaser. Track six is the crassly titled Shut Your Mouth Before I Fuck It. It’s a bit too aggressive for my liking but it shows the frustration that the band lives with. The song talks about all the nay-sayers in your life and getting away from them. Despite the aggressive song title, the song actually has a positive feeling to it.

The penultimate song is that aforementioned cover song. The Pixies classic Where Is My Mind seems to be a popular song to cover – I saw London ska punks King Punch cover it last year. Unsurprisingly, Creekwood Adjacent deliver a more punky version than the original. The vocals are rawer and the tempo is raised from what we’re used to hearing and the “whoa-ohs” are tailored for a punk rock band. The final track on the album is titled Only On The Weekends. I’m interested to know why the band picked the album’s shortest song to finish the album as usually the final song on the album is reserved for something big. I like Only On The Weekends as a song but did expect something else to finish the album. It’s a fast and straight forward punk song, where the band’s singer laments the mistakes that were made on a weekend and questions was it all their fault?

Creekwood Adjacent show promise on this debut release. It’s a bit raw and rough around the edges but the band clearly know how to write catchy songs and that will only help them as they grow and progress as a band.

Stream and download Self​-​Titled on Bandcamp here.

Like Creekwood Adjacent on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 7 February 2022

Album Review: Fuckin' Woo by Flangipanis

If you happened to read my end of year list at the end of 2021 then you might have seen that I included the album Fuckin’ Woo by Flangipanis in it. As most of the readers of CPRW are either based in the UK or America, I suspect that you haven’t heard of the Brisbane, Australia, four piece so I figured I should give the album a proper review. Mostly because it gives me an excuse to spend an afternoon listening to the album again and partly because if more folk in the UK become fans of the band, then there’s more chance they’ll be able to do a UK tour. That would be nice. Fuckin’ Woo is fifteen brand new songs from the band in just twenty-seven minutes and it is the follow up to their excellent Community Backwash EP which was released in 2019.

Brand New Day feels like the perfect choice to start the album and not just because of its title. It’s a bouncy and fun track that has an air of familiarity to it. Perfect for welcoming you into Fuckin’ Woo. Despite the cheerful sound of the song, it’s actually about a much deeper issue regarding mental health. It looks into the positive and negative sides of your thoughts fighting each other and the turmoil that that can leave you in. Flangipanis follow this up with a short hardcore song called Present with the repeating lyric “I hope you like your present cunt.” This is the crass side of Flangipanis that I always get a little kick out of. They can do the deep and meaningful stuff but they’re never afraid to go for the ridiculous and offensive as well. The third song on the album is named Run Away. Run Away is a great example of how to do melodic skate punk music really well. It begins slowly with a gradual build and some “whoa-ohs” that begin to get you hyped. The tempo begins to increase and then Jodie’s killer vocals come in and it’s time to go. I adored the melody on the verses, it hooks you in wonderfully. The band fly through the first half of the song before we reach a breakdown that includes some killer harmonies backing Jodie’s vocals to complete the song.

You Don’t Have To Be A Cunt comes next. I hate the c-word but I couldn’t help but smile when I listened to it. I don’t want to say lyrical genius because that would be silly but the level of word play here is pretty impressive. Definitely not what I was expecting when I first read the title of the song. The track is about being a good person and not a bad person. It’s that simple. I enjoyed the vocal trade offs during the song. It’s fast and has so much energy. Loved it. Next is Good Little Taxpayer. This sees the band step into the world of politics. All of the bouncy fun that was on the first four tracks on the album are gone. This is Flangipanis at their most serious. It’s about all of the wrong doing that governments are doing (I’m sure the band are talking in particular about the Australian government but it certainly works for the UK’s as well) and encourages people to make a stand against them. It’s nice to see the band branch out and write a song about this topic. Worthless is a Flangipanis love song. It’s about not feeling like you have any worth but it’s okay when you’re with someone that you love.

The seventh song on Fuckin’ Woo is named Faking It. This is a ferocious punk rock song with the vocals being jam packed with venom. The song is less than ninety seconds long and is relentless. The use of the second vocalist once again adds to the energy of the song and it also adds some aggression which works really well. This is one of those songs that will really get a mosh pit amped up when the band play it live. Clothes was one of the stand out songs when I first listened to the album. Not only is it ridiculously catchy but it also feels extremely important. It’s about how Jodie used to love taking her clothes off at shows but had to stop because of men being creepy perverts. Jodie goes on to call out those men on the song. I feels like a big feminist anthem. If women want to take their clothes off at shows, they should be able to without men making unwanted sexual advances. Train Ciggie is another short, hard and fast song. It’s simply about not liking when people try and smoke on trains or when people try and spark up conversation. I’m with the band on both of these points. Writing this review I’ve learnt that durrie is an Australian slang word for cigarette – there’s a fun fact for you, for reading this far. The song is finished with a shift in melody where the band slow things down and have a group sing-along of “train ciggie, train ciggie, ciggie on a train.”

Skate sees bass player Paul take over lead vocal duties as Flangipanis skank into the realm of ska punk. This was another stand out and not just because my love of ska punk music. The track tells a story of a love of skateboarding and how when you were younger you would spend all of your free time doing this thing you love with your friends. The lyrics in the song create such a visual story, I’m surprised to see the band haven’t yet made a video for the song. Moving Out is an interesting song as the lyrics for the song were all taken from which is a blog that began by two friends writing super clichéd punk lyrics. As I’m listening to the song for a fifth time whilst reviewing it, I think I can also hear the riff from The Offspring’s Self Esteem but I may have just convinced myself in my head – have a listen and decide for yourself. The twelfth song on Fuckin’ Woo is Snacks At The Bar and it’s Jodie’s turn at a ska song. Flanigpanis are joined by the brass section of Blowhard for the song. When I first listened to the album, I was not expecting ska and I certainly wasn’t expecting a four piece horn section to appear and it’s a very welcome surprise. The song is about going out, trying to impress someone and making sure to remember the snacks at the bar. Both verses in the track will have you getting your knees up and having a wonderful time skanking away.

Asshole Aunt is a song about Jodie being a terrible aunt. Throughout the song they list all the reasons that they should not be a role model for the child and it’s equal parts terrifying and hilarious. This is one of those times where Jodie shows what a good lyricist they are even if the song is pretty vulgar. If you have a dark sense of humour then this is a song for you. Not all songs have to change the world and make you think. Sometime you just want to be amused and smile and Asshole Aunt does that for me. The penultimate song on Fuckin’ Woo is titled Perfectly Average. This track talks about being just one of the seven billion people on the planet and constantly feeling as if you’re not making any progress in your life but trying to make the best of it. There’s a nice positive feeling that comes from the song that gives me a great vibes. The fifteenth and final song on the album is Small Talk. I’m big on albums finishing with a bang, especially if they have a lot of tracks like Fuckin’ Woo does and Flangipanis deliver here. The final song is the party that I suspect Flangipanis always bring when they play live. The song starts slowly but quickly shifts into top gear as the band race through the chorus in a full throttle kind of way. The song is about cutting out small talk and just partying like it’s your last night on earth. There are plenty of “whoa-oh” moments and chances for the band’s audience to shout the words back at the band. The perfect way to end an incredible album.

I bloody love Flanipanis. Everything they release makes me really happy. I’m fully aware they won’t be everyone’s pint of pepsi as humour is a very subjective thing, as all art is, but they’re definitely worth taking a chance on. I think you’ll be surprised. The more I listen to it, the more things I find that I think are really important to hear in the current climate. There are songs about mental health, politics, feminism and living your best life. I listen to music because it makes me happy, Flangipanis make me really, really happy. I hope they do for you as well.

Stream and download Fuckin' Woo on Bandcamp here.

Like Flangipanis on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Gig Review: Random Hand at Islington Academy, London 28/1/22

I think that the three year gap between seeing Random Hand in January 2019 and January 2022 is the longest time I’ve ever gone without seeing them. Even when they had their break, it seemed a shorter time than that. I guess that’s what a global pandemic will do. I believe the original plan for this gig was for it to be in the summer of 2020 but this had to be postponed for the reasons mentioned in the previous sentence. Since the original gig was announced, there had been date changes, venue changes and line-up changes but it was finally here and I couldn’t wait.

Unfortunately we arrived at The Islington Academy a little late due to work and the early start so only managed to catch the last three songs from Babar Luck And The East End Trinity. You could feel the positive vibes that Babar and his crew always bring though, so I was pleased we were able to catch a bit of their set.

Up next were Riskee & The Ridicule. I believe the last time I saw them was also supporting Random Hand. Since then they have added Maz, the former saxophone player in Ghouls to their ranks to play bass guitar. Looking around the crowd, it very much seemed as if a good chunk of people had come out specifically to see Riskee and they must have been delighted with the show the band put on. The band started with (a) Kaboom! and didn’t slow down from then on. There was a lot of hype around the band before the world stopped and even with the break it appears that their momentum keeps on rolling. The band played a tight set and even with some issues with the sound – I think there was a problem with a drum mic – the band soldiered on and played an entertaining set.

Following Riskee were the penultimate act of the night, The Filaments. Last seen in London, headlining the opening night of Till The Fest in October, I was just as excited to see them again. I wasn’t the only one because as soon as the band began their set Islington went off. On this occasion, the band were playing as a seven piece with a three part brass section which is not something I’ve seen The Filaments do for years. Having that many people on the stage added to the energy that The Filaments omit. Musically, the band flick effortlessly between ferocious hardcore punk and barroom singalongs with ease and have the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout the set. Tearing through their set with minimal time between songs meant that they manage to squeeze plenty of tracks into the set but I was still wanting more when they finished. Half hour sets aren’t long enough for The Filaments! They have too many classic songs that I want to hear. They seem to have already announced a fair amount of gigs this year so hopefully it won’t be too long before seeing them again.

The night was flying by, it was soon time for Random Hand and there was a feeling of anticipation filling the venue. The band would be playing their third album, Seething Is Believing, from start to finish during the set to celebrate its tenth (or eleventh because of postponements) anniversary which, as luck would have it, is my favourite album the band have released. Though I have to say it’s a close run thing as they only release brilliant albums. To nobody’s surprise the crowd went for it as soon as the band began set/album opener Tales Of Intervention and it only got rowdier as the set progressed. I feel like there’s always a bit of a risk with album shows that a couple of the deeper cuts on the album might fall flat on the more casual fan but this was not the case on this occasion. Listening to the album live really made me appreciate the track ordering on the album. How many bands have songs of the calibre of Not A Number, Three From Six, Floating Ghosts and Bones following each other – amazing work. Like I mentioned in the introduction, it had been three years since I last saw Random Hand but this felt a reunion with an old friend where you just fall back into friendship like you’ve never been apart and it felt wonderful. Robin remains one of the best frontmen in punk rock, an extremely watchable performer and very funny whilst interacting with the crowd between songs. There are also a few moments where he takes the time to give thanks to the other bands and the venue, and you can see how genuinely happy the band are to be able to be doing gigs again. After completing Seething Is Believing, the band dipped into their discography to play an encore including classics such as Scum Triumphant, Play Some Ska, Anthropology and Anger Management to ensure the crowd went home even happier. What an absolutely blinding set and I can’t wait to see them again at Manchester Punk Festival in April… Is it April yet?

Random Hand once again show why they are one of the most highly respected bands to emerge from the UK’s DIY punk scene ever. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen them over the years – it’s easily in double figures now – and they never, ever disappoint. Being able to see them once again after so long was a cathartic experience. Legends.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Colin and Emma.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Album Review: Don’t @ Me by RECLAWED (by Emma Prew)

RECLAWED are a new Brooklyn, New York, based indie punk band who I recently discovered after their lead vocalist and piano/organ/synth player, Erica Clayton, shared their first single in the Fest Friends group on Facebook. They mentioned having previously been in several Fest adjacent bands such as Binary Heart, Weird At Last and Freya Wilcox & The Howl – the latter whom I was very sad to only discover after they’d broken up – and I was intrigued enough to give the single a listen right away. It was an instant hit with me and I was excited the learn that a full EP was only another week away.

On 14th January, RECLAWED released their debut EP titled Don’t @ Me. The EP was fully written, recorded, mixed and mastered remotely during 2020 and 2021 but I, at least, would not have been able to tell that. This has got to be the best new music I’ve heard so far this year and I’m excited to share why!

Don’t @ Me kicks off with a short, catchy and super melodic country-folk sounding song called When It Came To You. It’s definitely not the sound I was expecting to hear but I really love it all the same. The song is about reflecting on a difficult breakdown of a relationship in the past but looking for the positives in this and certainly not regretting what happened – ‘I don't regret a single word I said to you, You were actin' out the scene that you wanted to’. Next up is A Lie We Tell Ourselves which was the first single from the EP and thus the first song I heard from the band. Gone are the country-like sounds of the previous track and instead we have an energetic, passionate and slightly angsty tune that immediately grabs your attention. Erica really belts the lyrics out alongside crunchy guitars and some rhythmic drumming that sounds almost like clapping. Like When It Came To You, this is another song that seems to have a positive spin to it. At least, how I’m interpreting the song is that you should try to live your life to the fullest and not be bogged down by feeling like you need to be in a relationship or live a certain way. There’s a similar theme to the third song, Breathe Out, as Erica sings ‘I have no reason not to be happy’. It’s a feeling I know well myself. A repetitive guitar riff opens up the track and soon serves as a steady backing to the vocals which absolutely take the forefront in this song. Erica has a wonderful voice and is supported by some subtle backing vocals at points which really adds to the overall feel of the song. Breathe Out is perhaps one of the slower paced tracks on the EP but that doesn’t stop it from packing a punch.

Wasted sees RECLAWED getting amped up again for an upbeat guitar and synth driven head bopper of a song. You can instantly hear the pent up anger and frustration in Erica’s voice as they sing the opening lines ‘You said you had it figured out, You said "it's just a gap year", You said you had a plan for it all, You said you wanted to save’. There’s a distinct bite to the vocal style that reminds of Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer which is, obviously, no bad thing. Wasted is arguably the catchiest and most earwormy song on Don’t @ Me and it just puts a massive smile on my face every time I listen to it. Wrong About You opens solely with piano – once again showcasing a different sort of sound, this is definitely not an EP of seven songs that all sound the same – before the vocals and drums come in. It’s fairly slow-paced and subdued to begin with but there’s a feeling that things are building, up to when Erica sings ‘I'll admit when I was wrong, Oh, I was wrong’ and the song is transformed into a full band number, no longer restrained. There’s some great musicianship on display in this track from the band’s multiple guitarists (Freya Wilcox, Zachary Walden, Tom Malinowski – although I’m not sure they’re specifically all playing on this one track) as well as Erica’s piano/organ/synth playing. Wrong About You takes the listener on quite the journey and what a journey it is.

The penultimate song of Don’t @ Me is what I feel can only be described as an emotional, piano-led, indie power ballad. Your Girlfriend Sucks opens with the line ‘Hello? It was me, I've been looking for you’ – presumably a nod Lionel Ritchie (and maybe Adele?) – sung in a soft and gentle voice. By the second verse however there’s a bit of that bite I mentioned in Wasted being injected into the vocals. Your Girlfriend Sucks is far from your traditional punk rock song, vocals accompanied purely by drums and piano, but there’s still a punk spirit to it all. The song is about wanting to make sure your friend is okay when they’re having a rough time, particularly when you don’t think their partner is good for them. It’s a tricky subject matter to convey in a song but I hope some listeners can find comfort in the words. The EP does what all good records should do and finishes with a bang. Don’t Come Around is an angry and gutsy track that is just begging to be sung along to at the top of your lungs – maybe at a future Fest. Don’t Come Around is about drawing the line at the end of a relationship that ended badly and admitting that, similarly to A Lie We Tell Ourselves, ‘I’d rather be alone, Than waste time waiting around on a change, That’s never gonna come’. Erica really seems to let out a lot of frustration throughout the track, not least when repeating ‘I didn’t ask you to stay’ at the end of the song. This is another track that I think will be highly relatable and a comfort to many listeners. The track, and the EP as a whole, feel empowering to me and that’s definitely something I look for in music.

I almost can’t believe just how much I enjoyed this EP. I’ve listened to it on repeat for several days now and still can’t get enough. There’s a lot of variety on offer but I love it all. This is a release, and a band, that I’m going to be raving about to everyone and anyone who will listen for months to come. Don’t @ Me by RECLAWED is the best new music I’ve heard in some time – certainly so far this year – and I highly encourage you to check it out.

Stream and download Don’t @ Me on Bandcamp here.

Like RECLAWED on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.