Friday, 24 March 2017

Album Review: POSI by Great Cynics

The other day I was having one of those days when for no inexplicable reason I was feeling really down and miserable. I hate days like this. Then I was sent an email from Kay at Specialist Subject asking me to review one of my favourite bands, Great Cynics. I had already pre-ordered the album, titled POSI, a month or so earlier and all of their back catalogue is on constant rotation in our home. I had already heard POSI was an album about the struggles of life in London and trying to keep your head up despite all of the problems you might have in your life. If ever I needed to listen to a positive record then today was the day.

There had been a little bit of change in the Great Cynics camp before POSI was recorded, with long time bass player and occasional singer Iona Cairns stepping away from the band to be able to concentrate more time on her own band, Shit Present. This was a great shame as I think Iona with guitarist/vocalist Giles Bidder and drummer Bob Barrett had a wonderful dynamic, especially on stage together. I am also intrigued to see what the newest incarnation of Great Cynics is like though. This will have to wait until their album release shows in April. On POSI the bass playing was also done by Giles, a man of many talents.

POSI begins with the song Let Me Go Home. The track begins with an extended musical intro with a guitar sound that will immediately make you think "Great Cynics" even if you didn't know you were listening to a Great Cynics song. It's that wonderful and warm indie pop rock that the band have perfected over their previous three albums. Giles' vocals hit and it's like an old friend singing songs that I've been listening to for years. From the outset I'm hooked on POSI. When I first heard the start of Only Memories, the second track, I instantly thought Menzingers. The opening guitars really reminded me of the song Gates from the Pennsylvanian punks. Not to say that this is rip off of The Menzingers, far from it. Giles has one of the most recognisable vocals in the world of punk and as soon as he starts singing this song about remembering all the things you did when you were younger and trying to forget about the bad things. The ending of the song where the music dies down and you just get Giles on his own was a fantastic way to finish the track. It also leads brilliantly into the next song Blue Roll And Duct Tape. The opening guitar riffs have a lovely uplifting feel to them that just makes you want to dance. The opening lyrics of "Do You Wanna Give In To The Shit, Or Worse Get Used To It" give me a great idea of what the track is about. It's about getting on with life and making the best of it despite the rubbish that is thrown your way. After a brief breakdown, some fantastic gang vocals come in shouting "I Just Needed The World To Feel A Little Bit Bigger" along with some backing harmony "Bah, Bahs" that finish the song in a positive way.

The fourth track London, Happiness has an absolutely massive chorus that goes "IIIIIIIIIIIII Know That Happiness Is A Place In London." I'm imagining that getting a massive reaction at their album launch shows at Urban Bar, Whitechapel, in April. Quite clearly the song is about loving where you live despite all its pitfalls. Shabba Shabba is track that starts off quite slowly, before gradually building towards a big ending. Bob's drumming really stands out as he brilliantly lays down the foundations for the big finale. Shabba Shabba is about getting over a break up by blocking out your feelings and pushing the person you're breaking up with away despite them not wanting you to. Shaba Shabba leads seamlessly into the next song, Don't Buy The Sun. After a slow building beginning, the song explodes into life as Giles lets rip on The Sun newspaper. I don't remember ever hearing so much venom in Giles' voice as there is here and I have to say that I loved it. After the introduction, the track becomes a whirlwind of anger. There is a rawness to the sound of the song that only adds to the energy in it - giving you the feel of a live Great Cynics performance. Perhaps my favourite track so far. Easily Done is more of an up-tempo song that keeps POSI flowing along nicely. It seems as if a lot of thought as gone into the synchronicity of the album - it's these little things that make a good album great. Giles maintains a fast paced vocal throughout the song, stuffing it full of energy. The song is about realising that you're not perfect and that that is okay despite what other people might think.

Too Much feels like a classic Great Cynics track with its extremely anthmeic and catchy chorus. It starts out with a simple drum beat before Giles opens the song with my favourite lyrics of the entire album - "When I Wake Up In The Morning I Got Nothing To Do, Because We've Come Home From Tour And I Finished In School, So I Wrap My Legs Around My Duvet And Watch TV, On A Borrowed Netflix Account On A Computer Screen." This just painted a brilliant picture. Soon enough we get to the chorus of "Too Much, Too Much, Too Much, Too Much Is Never Enough." Another song that I can see getting a big reaction at a Great Cynics live set. The ninth track is titled Summer At Home. This is another incredibly uplifting song that really put a smile on my face. It's a track about going home and reacquainting yourself with your old friends and letting them know how much they mean to you. The chorus of "You Don't Think That You're Special, You Don't Think That You're Special, It's What Makes You Special" is another that will get a crowd singing at the top of their lungs whilst feeling empowered by Giles' words. The penultimate track on POSI is the excellent Butterfly Net. Butterfly Net is a piece of indie pop punk perfection. It's got everything I want in a song - it has great energy, smart and poignant lyrics, it's relatable and most importantly it's fun. You can sing along, have a dance and just smile away throughout the song. Lovely jubbly. Finally we have the track Things We Don't Need. It's a short track at only forty-nine seconds but it does the job. It's about getting over a break up and realising that the person the relationship made you become is not who you want to be. How many of us have been there? It's a fantastically positive way to end a record about trying to be positive.

The fact that Great Cynics are on their fourth album despite being a small DIY band is an incredible achievement in itself. This is down to a lot of hard work, sacrifice and most importantly a huge amount of talent. Great Cynics are one of those bands where it baffles me that they haven't made more of a break through into the mainstream music world. The talent is obviously there for anyone to see and since album number one, Don't Need Much, they've always felt like an accessible band to all fans of music - not just punk rock. Perhaps POSI will be their breakthrough album, it's certainly showing a band that are still at the top of their game.

Stream and download POSI here:

Like Great Cynics here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Bands To See At Manchester Punk Festival 2017

April 2017 sees the third annual Manchester Punk Festival taking place across three days and many different central Manchester venues. It will be my second MPF (yes, I am gutted that I didn’t go to the very first one – unfortunately I didn’t know it existed at the time) and if my first is anything to go by then MPF 2017 is going to be a good’un.

Here’s my top ten bands that I am most looking forward to seeing at Manchester Punk Festival 2017:

I’ll start with my most obvious choice, King’s Lynn six-piece ska punk party machines – Faintest Idea. I’ve seen them six times over the last year or so and each time they just get better and better and I enjoy myself more and more. It’s impossible to stay still whilst they’re playing hits such as Too Bad, Bull In A China Shop and Circling The Drain. Bring on the dancing, skanking and trying not to get knocked over by someone bigger than me.

Fresh from playing SXSW in the states, Muncie Girls are taking the underground music world by storm. They will be returning to Manchester Punk Festival after playing the very first year, this time with tracks from their debut album to add to their setlist as well as classic tracks such as Car Crash and Revolution Summer. Muncie Girls are actually playing a gig in our town, Bedford, on the Thursday night when we’ll be in Manchester for day one of MPF!

Stöj Snak is the solo project of guitarist Niels Sörensen from Denmark’s Mighty Midgets. Both solo project and band, as TNSrecords favourites, will be making an appearance at MPF this year. I reviewed ScreamerSongwriter for the blog last summer – I really liked it – and can’t wait to finally hear the DIY folk punk songs from it live. I wonder if he’ll bring a kazoo…

This is a band that I discovered thanks to last year’s MPF – and Colin’s playlist of all the MPF 2016 bands! Matilda’s Scoundrels are a folk punk band from the southern seaside town of Hastings, incorporating mandolin, banjo, tin whistle and accordion alongside the more typical punk instruments. We only managed to catch half of their set last year due to clashing with another band but I definitely want to see their whole set this year!

A Great Notion are a three-piece punk rock band from Peterborough. I know of them thanks to their 2011 split with Andrew Cream, although they’re not a band I’ve listened to a great deal and I haven’t seen them live yet. I do however enjoy enough of what I have heard of them to know that I want to catch them at MPF – and hopefully to become a new firm favourite.

Next on my list is another artist that I’ve heard of but not listened to a great deal. Tragical History Tour is the acoustic punk offerings of Derrick Johnston, also known for being the founder of Make-That-A-That Records in Scotland. He has a new album due to be released later this year so we can expect to hear a few songs from that, as well as others from his back catalogue. Also, ‘Tragical History Tour’ is just such a great name.

Making their Manchester debut with their new line-up are CPRW favourites, Ducking Punches. The Norwich band were due to play at last year’s MPF but unfortunately Mr Frank Turner decided he wanted to take them on his European tour which clashed. Since then Sophie, Cal and Serge have sadly left the band but thankfully new members Ryan, bass, and Marcus, guitar, have stepped in. We actually saw the new Ducking Punches back in January and I can safely say that the Manchester audience are in for a treat.

Another band that has had a bit of the line-up change are Great Cynics. With the departure of Iona (who you can still catch at MPF 2017 but with Shit Present – who narrowly missed making this list), Great Cynics have a new bassist on board as well as the addition of a keyboard player. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any form of the band so with their brand new album due out not long before MPF, I am very much looking forward to seeing Great Cynics – and you should be too.

Arguably Durham’s greatest indie pop punk band (well, perhaps tied with ONSIND), Martha will make their Manchester Punk Festival debut this year. I’ve never seen the band live before so I’m looking forward to changing that, plus I really liked last year’s album, Blisters In The Put Of My Heart.

The oldest band on my list – and probably one of the oldest of the whole MPF 2017 line-up too – are The Toasters, third wave ska legends who formed way back in the early 80s (which is long before I was born). Of course, for a band with so many years behind them they also have an extensive back catalogue. A back catalogue that I must admit I haven’t listened to in much depth BUT every time one of their songs comes on, I can’t sit still or keep from smiling. They are definitely going to be great fun.

I can't wait!

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Album Review: State Of Repair by And The Wasters

Some long time readers might remember that my 2015 album of the year was The Anachronist's Cookbook by Will Tun And The Wasters. Since then the band have had a bit of a line up change and now go by the name And The Wasters. On March 12th the band released a brand new EP named State Of Repair and after enjoying the previous release so much I was pretty excited to hear this.

The EP begins with the track Lion's Share, that the band have also made a video for - check it out here. Something that I really loved about Anachronist's Cookbook was the sense of not really knowing what was going to happen next on the record as the band incorporate so many different styles into their sound. Whether it's punk, ska, folk, reggae, gypsy, rap or even throwing in some French, it was always hard to prepare for whatever could be coming next with the band. Lion's Share takes the ska energy that will get you dancing and adds some great accordion playing that really gives And The Wasters a sound all of their own. The track talks about how the people who already have the most seem to continue to get the lion's share of everything else. I really enjoyed the breakdown section which features mostly trumpet and vocals that serve as a rallying cry for the people who go without to start getting back what's fair. The second track is named Small Victories. The first thing I noticed about the song was that it features a different vocalist to Lion's Share. The fact that the vocal duties are shared around the band add to that sense of "what's going to happen next" that I love so much about this band. Musically it's not quite as upbeat as Lion's Share but there are still plenty of great skanking moments. The track is about how despite all of the hardship that goes on in the world there is a small victory to be had by knowing you've got a small community of people who believe in the same principles as yourself. I really like this positive outlook.

The third track on State Of Repair is titled Reduce, Reuse, Rebel. The song is a very accordion heavy sounding track, something that differentiates And The Waster brilliantly from many of their peers. The element of ska is still very present though and the song will have you skanking along despite the lack of horns during the bulk of the song. I loved that the bulk of the song focussed on the music rather than the lyrics, showing off the high level skill that is featured in the band. Reduce, Reuse, Rebel is a song about how society as a whole rarely uses things again when they quite easily could. Something I'm sure many of us are often guilty of. There is a nice chanty section of lyrics with the simple lines "Capitalism Is Killing Us All" which will get some great crowd participation at an And The Wasters live show. The penultimate song is named Bound As One. Bound As One is a much slower track than the previous three on the EP. This gives the song more of a serious feel to it, despite using the slew of instruments that have featured throughout the EP. Vocally it's a lot more understated too, really making you listen to the message of the track rather than just making you dance. State Of Repair is finished with a track named Intro Dub. Finished with a track named Intro you say? Yup, confused me too! It's a two minute instrumental song that allows And The Wasters to venture down a reggae road, showcasing another string to their bow. I'm not normally big on instrumental songs but this is one I can listen to over and over again without getting bored. A great way to finish the EP.

State Of Repair picks up right where Anachronist's Cookbook finished off. Despite all the line up changes, And The Wasters remain a top top quality band and one that deserve all of your attention.

Stream and download State Of Repair here:

Like And The Wasters here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Album Review: Starting With S by Spoiler

Spoiler are a melodic skate punk band from Toronto, Canada. Influenced by 90s Fat Wreck and Epitaph Records (who isn't?), last year they released a three song EP named Starts With An S. As is often the case, I'm quite late to the party on this one but it's a party I'm glad that I eventually found.

Interestingly all three songs on the EP begin with the letter S, the first being the track Snooze. It starts out with an alarm clock noise before launching into some energetic skate punk that really reminds me of old school Lagwagon, with lead vocalist Scott channelling his inner Joey Cape. The song is about the joy of snoozing before getting up and dealing with the world - something everyone can appreciate. The second track is named Something More. With that title I'm sure you can have a good guess and what the song is about - feeling stuck in a rut and wanting more from your life. The guitars on the track are very busy and technical whereas Scott's vocals do a great job of supplying the melody. This makes for a very interesting sounding song that got me listening to it over and over again. Lastly we have Summer. Musically there is much more of a modern pop punk sound to start the song. It's an uplifting song about enjoying the summer and how the season has an ability to help you forget about all of the misery in your life. It made me think about all of the fantastic summer memories I have and how much I also enjoy the summer. Most of all this song really made me smile!

Starts With An S is a short and sweet EP that really does a great job of introducing you to what Spoiler are all about. It's a bit of a throwback sound with a modern twist, drawing from great influences without feeling like a complete rip off. If you love Lagwagon then I have no doubt you'll love Spoiler.

Stream and download Starting With S here:

Like Spoiler here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Album Review: Limits by Traits (by Dan Peters)

Just a Random Project?

Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you they’ve mixed two of your favourite things and all of a sudden you’re ever so slightly nervous? You think well this could be the next peanut butter and nutella but it could also turn out to be the next Batman v Superman! So it is that I press play on the brand new shiny Traits EP, Limits. A supergroup formed by members of not one but two of my bestest UK bands, Random Hand and The Human Project. Will this just sound like one or the other and will each side compliment the other? Let’s find out…

Well for starters take what you know about each of the satellite bands surrounding Traits and just throw it all in the bin. I’m surprised from start to finish at how much Traits are their own beast, not sailing on the strengths of their formers and instead looking to carve a path of their own. This isn’t Ska-core and this isn’t Melodic Hardcore. In the place of what I assumed was going to be the foundations of their sound is good times late 90s style pop punk. Traits aren’t a group that are taking themselves too seriously but are a band with a great sound and I had a hell of a lot of fun listening to them.

This departure from what I’m expecting initially comes as a bit of a shock as I listen to the title track of the EP Limits and I find myself having to go back and repeat because I was waiting for the double time to come in the first listen through. So second time round I settle into the groove and appreciate the almost new wave feel of the riffage on display (the track reminds me of Ever Fallen In Love by the Buzzcocks) and get to grips with Human Project vocalist Jonny Smith not singing about class war and politics and instead getting a little irreverent.

Things do get up to double time in the second track, Nobody Likes A Narcissist, which is the skatepunkiest track of the bunch. I love fast songs, of course, and this scratches my itch nicely without the need to get too technical or obtuse. We’re All A Dick Sometimes could have come straight off of a P-Rock video from the early 2000s and I love it for that. Fed To Me, whilst maybe being the “heavy track” of the album, is still a real teen angst pop punk anthem and sounds like a great radio friendly standout tune. Rounding things up is The Little Things, again keeping that upbeat old school vibe going.

This EP is a nostalgia hit for those of us who grew up in the 2000 era pop punk bubble. Not in any way a rip off or just a tribute but rather a development of a slightly lost genre that would fit in well back then and is a pleasure to listen to right now.

Stream and download Limits here:

Like Traits here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Gig Review: Dave Hause and The Mermaid at The Garage 16/3/17

Bury Me In Philly, the third album from Dave Hause, is on track to be in my top ten albums of 2017 (I know, I know, it’s only March). And I’m glad I loved the album so much as we bought tickets to see Mr Hause at some point last year – it seems a long time ago now. Given that I hadn’t seen the man play for something like 5 years and never at his own headline show either (I saw him on The Revival Tour and as a support act twice), I was really quite excited. It would also be my first time seeing him – and his first time in the UK – with a full band. Added excitement.

There was a slight adjustment to the advertised bill for the tour as a member of one of the bands, Dead Heavens, was involved in a freak accident with a folding chair (apparently it sliced the tip of his finger off – ouch!). This meant that they, understandably, weren’t able to continue the UK leg of the European tour. Thankfully different musicians around the country were able to step in which is exactly what Sam Russo did on Thursday.

But first up was a different man-with-guitar, Robyn G Shiels from Northern Ireland. Neither myself or Colin had heard of him before so we didn’t really know what to expect, aside from assuming he probably played some form of folk music. We soon found out that Robyn plays sad-sounding folk-come-alt country songs that have a sound more akin to Nashville than Northern Ireland. I was very impressed by the melodic finger-picked guitar parts and he certainly kept me captivated.

Everyone’s favourite foot-stamping acoustic guitar wielding man from Suffolk, Sam Russo, was next up. Except he wouldn’t be stomping his feet as he mentioned early on in his set that he had a broken foot. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Mr Russo play live – it’s definitely been several times a year for the past few years though – but I never get bored of watching him play. The man has such great charisma on stage and has an amazing storytelling ability both within his songs and his general on stage talk in between songs. Having seen him play so many times, a Sam Russo show does seem a little bit like a greatest hits set with songs like Small Town Shoes, Runaways, Dry Shampoo and Holding On all making an appearance – as well as Sometimes, obviously – but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It was a little odd not seeing Sam bounding about the stage and stomping his feet but the music was excellent.

I don’t think The Garage was officially sold out but it was certainly starting to get pretty packed by the time Sam Russo finished his set and we all waiting eagerly for the return of Dave Hause – and the debut of The Mermaid. Looking around us, Colin was trying to work out how many of the crowd members would actually know The Loved Ones, Dave’s old band prior to his solo work. I figured a fair amount would but I also know that he must have gained a lot of fans from his tours over here as part of The Revival Tour (one of the greatest musical experiences I’ve ever seen) and as main support for The Gaslight Anthem some years ago.

With The Mermaid on board, the setting up and tuning of various instruments took a tad longer than it would have done had it been a solo Dave Hause show but I was definitely excited to hear the full band sound… and it was certainly worth the wait. In true rock ’n’ roll style, The Mermaid took to the stage before Dave and the crowd exploded when he stepped foot on the stage. He has obviously been greatly missed by UK fans. From the outset Dave was the perfect frontman – I’ve always enjoyed his solo performances but I truly think that Dave was born to play with a full band. Opening with The Flinch from Bury Me In Philly, Dave and the band were on top form. I enjoyed hearing the new songs live – With You and Bury Me In Philly in particular – but I also enjoyed hearing older tracks from first album, Resolutions, and second album, Devour, with the full band sound such as Autism Vaccine Blues, Father’s Son and Resolutions. At one point Dave even slipped in a bit of Hot Water Music’s Trusty Chords into the set – a nod towards the mighty Chuck Ragan. I knew I’d enjoy this show but I wasn’t prepared for just how much – I loved it, the rest of the crowd loved it and Dave and The Mermaid were clearly loving it too.

The band could have easily finished with We Could Be Kings but a headline show at The Garage does typically call for an encore, so an encore we got. Before the gig, Colin asked if I thought Dave would play a Loved Ones song. I thought probably not but you never know with these sorts of shows. If ever there was a time in the set for a cover of his old band’s song then it was the start of the encore with just himself and his guitar. Introducing the song Jane, Dave said that he was never going to play the song again – at least not in this acoustic form (ie. he might play it with The Loved Ones again one day!). It was wonderful. As was the next song, a Revival Tour style rendition of Prague (Revive Me) featuring multi-instrumentalist Kayleigh on the mandolin. C’Mon Kid was then the set closer – it had to be really – and the crowd indulged in one last massive singalong.

I’d been waiting a long while to see Dave Hause live again and it was 100% worth the wait. The addition of The Mermaid was an excellent choice and the songs, both new and old, really benefitted from the full band sound – plus it allowed Dave to fully embrace being a frontman.

Probably my favourite gig of the year so far. Bravo Dave Hause and The Mermaid.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Column: Slam Dunk Festival 2017

One weekend that is always a highlight of the year for many alternative music fans in the UK is the second May bank holiday weekend, the traditional weekend of Slam Dunk Festival. This year will be my fifth time (in a row) visiting the South version of the festival, at The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, and it's a day I always look forward to.

In the months leading up to the festival, the organisers slowly release details of the massive list of artists playing the festival and every year it's a who's who of the best in rock, punk, metal, ska and alternative music - whether it's old favourites, current superstars or hot up and comers, I've always felt there's something for everyone attending. This is probably a little naughty of me but I absolutely love reading people's comments about each line up announcement on Facebook. Despite each and every year producing an incredible line up, you still get so many people moaning because their favourite band hasn't been announced and start to slag off the festival. It's ridiculous, petty, childish but bloody hilarious. In my four previous years I've always felt that the line up has been one of the best of any UK festival that year. The thing I personally love about Slam Dunk announcements is the sense of nostalgia with so many bands I loved growing up always playing the festival. In previous years legendary (to me anyway) bands such as King Prawn, Streetlight Manifesto, [Spunge], Capdown, Jesse James, Fandangle, Millencolin, Lightyear, Big D & The Kids Table and Catch 22 have all played. In case you hadn't guessed, I love the ska element of Slam Dunk Festival. This year the organisers have really taken things up a notch. If you were a fan of ska and pop punk in the 90s and early 2000s then you absolutely love this line up. Let's check it out.

This year the punk/ska stage will be known as The Fireball Stage and headlining this year will be Bowling For Soup. A band I've never seen but were an integral part of my discovery of punk rock music. Surprisingly it will be the Texans' first time playing Slam Dunk Festival. I expect a massive crowd to gather to see the band for which is now a rare UK performance. This fun filled, sing-a-long pop punk will have everyone who goes to see them smiling and humming songs to themselves as they leave the festival… for the long wait to get out of the car park.

One band that has played Slam Dunk many times over the years is Orange County rap/pop punk legends Zebrahead. This will be the fourth year in a row Zebrahead have played Slam Dunk, which I think pretty much makes them the Slam Dunk house band. There's one big reason that the band come back every year, they absolutely slay it live. Pulling in some of the biggest crowds and creating some of the craziest mosh pits at the festival, last year I think I actually paid more attention to the crowd than I did to all the antics that were happening on the stage. Zebrahead are the ultimate party band for the Slam Dunk Party.

When you think of 90s ska punk two bands that instantly come to mind are Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish. This year Slam Dunk have managed to book both bands! Less Than Jake are one of my all time favourite bands and one of the bands I've seen the most. Every time I come away on a massive high because they are one of the greatest live bands I've ever seen. It amazes me that they are still so enthusiastic after all these years as a band. With a discography spanning over twenty years, there's bound to be some old classics mixed in with some newer tracks from this year's Sound The Alarm EP.

Everything I've just written about Less Than Jake I can easily repeat for Reel Big Fish, except the part about the new EP named Sound The Alarm. Reel Big Fish didn't release that, Less Than Jake did. I'm hoping for Reel Big Fish to debut some new material at the festival as it's been five years since the band released its last full length album, Candy Coated Fury.

Completing a trio of 90s ska bands are The Mad Caddies. The Californian band have been going since 1995 and have established themselves as one of the top live acts around. Combining punk, ska, reggae, polka, jazz, swing and many more styles the Caddies are a band like no other. If you've never seen The Mad Caddies live before you will be in for an absolute treat. Lead by lead singer Chuck Robertson, the band will have you dancing from the opening note to the last trumpet blast and it will be a set not to forget.

Goldfinger bring some more of the 90s pop punk sound to the Fireball stage. Making a surprising return to the festival after just one year away, I can't wait to see Goldfinger again. Last time the set was massively delayed due to some technical issues but this didn't stop Goldfinger putting on an incredible performance. Hearing tracks such as Superman, 99 Red Balloons, Spokesman, Counting The Days and Mabel will be a Slam Dunk highlight for sure!

One band I really didn't expect Slam Dunk to announce was Fenix TX! Fenix TX! Despite breaking up in 2002 the band have often done reunion shows and I believe that this could be the band's first trip to the UK in a long time. It seems to be Slam Dunk tradition that they announce a band I never expected to get the chance to see and I really can't wait to be singing songs such as Pheobe Cate, All My Fault and Threesome with the band.

The Fireball Stage will be compered by another Slam Dunk Legend - MC Lars. MC Lars has been a Slam Dunk regular for years so it feels right to see him back for the 12th year of the festival. He's another act who always brings the party with his own brand of laptop rap. A whole host of people playing the festival have had guest roles on his songs so expect to see some surprises on stage with Lars.

Of course The Fireball Stage isn't the only stage at Slam Dunk Festival and there are a handful of other bands I'm also really hoping to see. The first being Against Me!. Arguably the biggest punk band on planet Earth right now. Always putting on a fantastic live show, it's loud, ferocious and packed with massive sing-a-longs from the band's loyal and hardcore group of fans. Against Me! are one of the most important bands in the world right now - you will be entertained, you will be moved and you will learn some important life lessons from the band.

Long Island, New York, melodic hardcore/pop punk band The Movielife make a rare appearance at Slam Dunk Festival this year. Like Fenix TX, the band were part of the legendary Drive Thru Records roster in the late 90s/early 2000s that spawned so many of my favourite bands of the era. The Movielife got back together for some shows in 2011 and have been playing shows and festivals here and there ever since. They've also been working on some new music which I'm hoping to hear included in their set at Slam Dunk.

Finally we have Sorority Noise. In a time where pop punk is becoming absolutely massive again Sorority Noise are a band that have really stood out to me. Combining pop punk, indie and emo the band have created an honest and captivating sound that really grabs your attention. With a new album out today named You're Not As _______ As You Think, I expect the Sorority Noise to be one of the breakthrough artists at this year's Slam Dunk Festival.