Saturday, 30 August 2014

Album Review: A Little Scared by A Great Notion

I first discovered Peterborough based folk punk band A Great Notion after searching through Aaahh!!! Real Records website and picked up their two releases basically because they were cheap. After a first listen to both Fun With Swifts and Possibilities I Knew I had a couple of bargains, A Great Notion are a phenomenal band. On September 1st they release their new EP A Little Scared. Here’s a review of it.

A Little Scared starts on with a song named This Isn’t Kansas. It starts out with a fiddly little guitar riff before the song bursts into life. The song itself is about not being scared to leave home to follow your dreams. The rousing chorus of “we’ve got a lot to learn and more to live for, I know you’re strong enough to fight for what you love so, hold on to your dreams and don’t let go, I know you’re scared of leaving can’t you see that I am too” really brings the song home and will inspire massive sing-alongs. Fantastic start to the EP.

Track two is titled Sleep Well. It’s the fastest song on the EP and tells a tale about two different lifestyles. The first about someone who lives their life by the book – good job, nice house and a wife, the second about somebody who lives their life the way they want to despite it not being “conventional.” The moral of the tale is that the second person can sleep soundly knowing that they are they are being themselves and having a clear conscious because of this. This is a song that will make you think about how you live your own life.

The third song is called 5th February. This acoustic song is really quite beautiful. It’s a letter to an unborn baby about how much it will be loved. I am nowhere near good enough with words to really do it justice by writing about it so I suggest you go check it out yourself.

The final song is Peggle Forever. The full band is back for this song about two people who were in love and inseparable slowing growing apart. I love the early analogies “you’re the razor and I’m the wire, you’re the smoke and I’m the fire.” This is really inventive song writing. The song style reminds me of Gainesville punk rockers Hot Water Music, with its dual clean and gruff harmonies. Peggle Forever is a very strong closing song for A Little Strong.

A Little Scared is a great release from a band that will sadly go underneath a lot of people’s radars. I only discovered them through dumb luck. All four songs on this release are great and also very different in their own way. It’s impressive how a band can make such a varied EP. I urge you to go and check them out, they are an incredible talent. 

Now listening to Peggle Forever by A Great Notion

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fantastic Records Labels.

For small underground bands a massive part of what keeps them going in terms of being able to putting out new music is people buying current music from them whether it be on a physical format such as CD or vinyl or a digital service such as iTunes or Bandcamp. When it comes to selling their music the majority of bands need support from record labels. Since the birth of the internet and file sharing it has become harder and harder for record labels to make a profit but throughout the UK there are still loads of labels still putting out great new music. Most of these labels will never make much of a profit if any at all, they do it because it’s what they love. Here I take a look at a small selection of these labels.

13 Stitches
13 Stitches Records is a label from Brighton founded by Demon Smiles drummer Steve Todd. The label was put together as a way for Steve to help bands that he loves put out physical releases. 13 Stitches has put out music by bands such as Mϋg, Demon Smiles and Dropthis.

176 Records
176 Records is a small label run out of London that also puts on gig. It has put on gigs for bands such as ONSIND and The Dauntless Elite and music by Losing Sleep and WEGROWBEARDS

Aaahh!! Real Records
Aaahh!! Real Records is a label from Cambridge and is passionate about the DIY punk philosophy. They put out records from A Great Notion, Bandit  The Panther as well as American Rapper MC Lars and have previously released music from Random Hand, Ducking Punches and Bad Ideas.

Bombed Out
Bombed Out Records is based in Leeds and Harrogate which released it’s first record in 1998. Since its formation it has released music from The Daunteless Elite, Wooderson and Joe Ninety.

Bomber Music
Starting out as a music publisher before becoming a label, Bomber Music is a label from London that releases music from all sorts of music genre’s including ska, punk, rock and psychobilly. They have released music from the cream of the UK’s underground talent such as Random Hand, The Skints, Smokey Bastard, New Town Kings, Great Cynics and The Roughneck Riot.

Cats? Aye! Records
Cats? Aye! Records is a label run from Leeds and Southampton. So far they have put out music from Leagues Apart, Break Ups, Young Attenboroughs and a split from members of the Survival Tour – Roo Pescod (Bangers), Giles Bidder (Great Cynics) and Kelly Kemp.

Disconnect Disconnect Records
Disconnect Disconnect Records is a label from London that focuses on releasing music from independent punk bands from the UK and worldwide. So far they have released music from Bottler, Home Advantage, Mike Scott and Counterpunch.

Do The Dog
Do The Dog music is a distribution company that specialises in ska music. It has released music from bands such as Smoke Like A Fish, Cartoon Violence and Three Minute Warning.

Everything Sucks Music
After starting out as a gig promoter Everything Sucks music was founded in 2012 and put out its first release in early 2013. Since then they have put out music from Bear Trade, Losing Sleep and The Exhausts.

Household Name Records
Household Name records was founded in 1996 in London. They have put out some of the best releases in UK punk since then including Civil Disobedients by Capdown and Call Of The Weasel Clan by Lightyear. More recently they put out the amazing debut albums from Apologies I Have None and Great Cynics.

Lockjaw Records
Lockjaw Records is an independently run label specialising in punk and hardcore music. Current bands on their label include Drones, Fighting Fiction, Ducking Punches and Sweet Empire.

Make That A Take
Make-That-A-Take Records is a small collective that put on punk shows and release records from the East coast of Scotland. They are anti sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic and anti-fascist. Make-That-A-Take have released music by Joey Terrifying, Loaded 45, Tragical History Tour as well as a compilation series named Make Yer Own Comp featuring the cream of the UK punk scene.

Ska Mutiny
Ska Mutiny Records is a record label from Leeds that specialises in Ska Punk. They mantra of the label is that they would rather fans hear the bands for free rather than never hear them at all. They have put out records from Eat Defeat, Do It With Malice andThe Fractions as well as a whole host of compilations.

Specialist Subject
Specialist Subject Records is a label and distribution service run out of Exeter. Oneof the biggest success stories on this list, they have put out some great records from the likes of Bangers, Sam Russo, Muncie Girls and Martha.

Team Beard
Team Beard is a non-profit DIY independent label who release music and put on shows based throughout the UK. Their roster of bands includes Question The Mark and The Doublecross


That’s Not Skanking (TNS) is a label based in Manchester that was founded in 2003. They are big believers in their bands coming together and helping each other out. It’s a community and not a competition. Bands who have put out music via TNS include Faintest Idea, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Officer Down and Wonk Unit.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Lyrical Content

I was at a friend’s wedding last night where my good friend The Tom was doing the disco. Obviously he was playing all the family friendly pop hits that everybody loves.  I had a listen to some of the lyrics in the song and many were absolutely stupid. I’m quite convinced anyone who hold a pen or use a keyboard could have written them. That got me thinking about some of my favourite lyrics. I like a lyric that’s smart, relatable or just reminds me of a special time. I decided to share some of my all time favourites with you lovely people.

River Jumpers – Five Doors Down Well It’s Clear My Dear, While You’re Out On The Dance Floor, I’ll Be Five Doors Down Listening To All My Favourite Songs In This Place Where I Belong.”

Chewing On Tinfoil – Forty Shade Of Grey “We Have All Been Down, That’s Just The Way Life Is, We Have All Worn Frowns Instead Of Smiling Kid, We Have All Been Down, But We’ll Get Up Again, Not All Kings Wear Crowns, At Least You Have Your Friends.”

Frank Turner – Four Simple Words “Hi Ho Hi Ho Hi Ho, We’re Heading Out To The Punk Rock Show, Colleagues And Friends Condescend With A Smile, But This Is My Culture Man, This Is My Home.”

Jesse James – Growin’ up “Growing Up’s Just Getting Old.”

Zebrahead – Hell Yeah “Take A Shot To The Chin With A Grin”

ONSIND – Mildred “I Keep Running From The Storm And You Done Your Best, To Regulate And Medicate The Dark Clouds Forming In My Brain.”

Smoke Or Fire – Monsters Among Us “There Are Monsters Among Us, There Are Some You Can’t See, Their Disguised In Their Suits, Nice Shoes And Ties, And They Take Vengeance On Ethics And Honesty.”

Off With Their Heads – Nightlife “Don’t Wanna Be Like This, Anxious And Angry Or Hopeless And Upset All The Time, Unable To Get Back The Feeling I Lost Somewhere Along The Line, I Wear It On My Sleeve And Everyone Sees No Matter How Hard I Try, I’ve Never Felt Worse In My Whole Life.”

The Loved Ones – Player Hater Anthem “Do I Regret I Wasted The Breath It Took To Sing, To I Regret I Ever Admitted To A Little And Bled It All Out On The Page."

The Ergs! – Pray For Rain “I’m Sore From The Smiles That You’ve Given To Me.”

The Have Nots – Proud “If My Dad Could See Me Now, Would He Be Proud? That I’ve Become The Man I Have, That I Don’t Do What’s Just Allowed.”

Rancid – Radio – “When I Got The Music I Got A Place To Go.”

Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose “Just Gimme A Scene Where The Music Is Free, And Where Beer Is Not The Life Of The Party.”

Apologies, I Have None – Sat In Vicky Park “A Man Cannot Be Measured By The Number Of People He’s Fucked, The Numbers On A Payslip Are No Indication Of Worth.”

The Smith Street Band – Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams “But Now Isn’t The Time For Back Down, Got Our Feet So Firmly On The Ground, So Call Me What You Will, I Don’t Care, I Know What Happened I Was There, We Know What Happened We Were There,”

The Unseen – Scream Out “Playing Punk Keeps Me Sane, Don’t Need Drugs To Numb The Pain”

Wil Wagner – Songs About Why I Suck – “And I Sing These Songs Out Of Fury And Fear, And I Sing This Songs Because Without Them, I Wouldn’t Be Here.”

Iron Chic –Time Cop “Remember The Pain Of Growing Up, It May Have Hurt But It Sure Was Fun, It Made Us Who We Are Now, It Gave Us A Mystery To Figure Out.”

Bouncing Souls – True Believers “We Live Our Lives In Our Own Way, Never Really Listened To What They Say, The Kind Of Faith That Never Fades Away, We Are The True Believers.”

King Blues – What If Punk Never Happened “There’s A Lesson To Be Learnt, One That I Will Take Home, When I Return To My Normal Reality Zone, Punk Rock Has The Power To Change The World, It Lies If Every Single Punk Rock Boy And Girl, So Don’t Let Anyone Tell You You’re Not Worth The Earth, These Streets Are Your Streets, The Turf Is Your Turf, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You’ve Got To Give In, Cos You Can Make A Difference, You Can Change Everything, Just Let Your Dreams Be Your Pilot, Your Imagination Your Fuel, Tear Up The Book And Write Your Own Damn Rules, Use All The Heart, Hope And Soul That You’ve Got, And The Love And The Rage That You Feel In The Gut, Realise That The Other World That You’re Always Looking For, Lies Right Here In Front Of us, Just Outside The Door, And It’s Up To You To Go Out There And Paint The Canvas, After All You Were Put On The Earth To Do This, So Shine Your Light So Bright That All Can See, Take Pride In Being Whoever The Fuck You Want To Be, Throw Your Fist In The Air In Solidarity, And Shout Viva La Punk, Just One Life, Anarchy.”

 Now Listening To Lyrical Content by [Spunge]

Friday, 22 August 2014

Album Review: Smithereens by Bottler

Bottler are a four piece punk rock band based around London. Formed from other bands they came together in 2013 and released the debut EP Smithereens earlier this year on Disconnect Disconnect Records.

Smithereens opens up with the excellent Ex-Members. Starting things off slowly before erupting into a song about being in old bands that you hadn’t heard of and not giving up on playing music that they love. The chorus is really catchy and the lines “we are the ex-members of the bands you never knew” will grab you instantly and is very relatable in the punk scene. I imagine a good portion of the crowd will also have been in bands at some stage in their lives. I’m amazed my old band Thirty Six Crazy Mega Death Punches never took off.

Ex-Members is followed by Ready, Willing, Able. Ready, Willing, Able musically is quite a frantic sounding song but then lead singer Dave’s vocals come across as being very controlled. It’s a political song about relying too much on America to help us. Bottler issue somewhat of a battle cry during a break down stating “they might get pieces but they’ll never take us all.”

Track three is called Mastermind and is a fun song about breaking the law. It starts off with telling a story about breaking a window with a brick and then quickly escalates to killing someone. I loved the use of the harmonica during the song, a reference to prison time. I also enjoyed the Oi! nature of Mastermind, gives the song a new sing-along element.

Track four is title track Smithereens. The first thing you notice on the song is the bass line; it reminds me of some of the great Matt Freeman from Rancids work. This song is about working somewhere for a long time and being let go. In a tongue in cheek manor Bottler suggest “give up your dreams, before they get smashed to smithereens.” Probably the strongest song on the release on the EP, it’s got everything I like in a song – great and relatable lyrics, catchy chorus, great instrumentation and you can imagine how good it must be live without seeing it live (yet).

The final song on Smithereens is called No Questions Please. This is a song questioning organised religion, something must punk bands do at some point. The lyrics are covered in sarcasm, talking about confession “wipe the slate cream, you’re a perfect human being,” and the thought that if you don’t believe in a god “you are either with us or you are hell bound by belief.” This is another song I imagine is well received live and will garner some fist in the air action.

Smithereens shows a band with a great amount of promise. Bottler are clearly a band with a knack of writing smart, interesting and unique songs. I’m very interested to hear what they do next.

Album Review: Before The Fall by Paperjets

When you’re bored and sitting on your computer, laptop or tablet do you find yourself randomly just clicking on links and planning on going to one page and ending up somewhere completely different? I do and that’s how I found London’s Paperjets. I can’t remember what on earth I was looking for but whatever page I was on I noticed something that attracted me to the link. There was a picture of a band who I had never heard of before, but I recognised one of them. Not as someone I actually know but someone from a band that I love a lot. It was Sebby Zatopek from the Zatopeks. This excited me greatly and had to check out Paperjets. What I found was a great little pop punk band. In October 2013 they released their EP Before The Fall on All In Vinyl Records and Hectic Society Records. Here’s what I thought of it.

Before The Fall is also the name of the opening track on the record. It starts off with some fairly heavy guitar riffs before the singers sugary sweet vocals kick in. The song reminds me of American pop punk legends The Queers with the vocals sounding like they could easily fit on a Beach Boys record and back my a band who love The Ramones.

The second track on the EP is named Green Eyed Girl. This song is a high tempo number packed full of harmonies.  The pace doesn’t let up for the whole song and the lyrics are incredibly catchy. The bass also comes in quite strongly midway through the song and takes charge of the rhythm for a little while before a strong guitar solo is broken out.

Up next is I Killed My Front Lobe. The song starts off with a bass riff before the rest of the band join in for quite a punchy sounding song. I love how the vocals carry the melody of the song, almost like another instrument is being used. The song ends with a great punching the air moment as the band scream out “I Killed My Front Lobe.”

Harmonies are out in force for the fourth song, Rescue Me. This song about a girl getting you out of a bad place is probably my favourite on Before The Fall. Musically it may be the most simple of the five but the hook really grabs your attention.

The final song on Before The Fall is called When By Boy Walks Down The Street. Lots more harmonies on this up-tempo song about being proud of being a father. This is everything you expect from a pop punk song, short, to the point and played at a break neck pace.

Before The Fall is a very solid first release from Paperjets. Taking that early 90’s Lookout Records sound they have created a release that would go down a storm twenty years ago and still does today. I am really looking forward to hearing more from Paperjets.

Stream and buy (for just £2!) here

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Album Review: Rainbows In Space by The Bennies

I first heard of Australian band The Bennies through The Smith Street Band. I was watching a live video of Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams from The Fest 12 and during an introduction to the song they mentioned this band called The Bennies who are their best friends. With a spare evening on my hands I decided to check them out by reviewing their album Rainbows In Space. Here is what I thought.

Naively I assumed that because The Smith Street Band play folk punk songs that The Bennies would do the same. I was extremely wrong. It was very closed minded of me to think because one band plays a certain type I shouldn’t assume that their friends must do as well. You may have gathered that I love punk rock music; one of my oldest and dearest friends (except when he challenges me to do stupid things for hugs and doesn’t pay up) loves classical music. But I soon as I pressed play The Bennies excitable, high energy sound hit me like a balloon to the face, it was time to party!

Kicking off the record is the synth heavy Party Smashers. The synth accompanied by a thumping drumbeat and lead singer Anty’s raw singing style where is Australian accent is very distinct. Straight away this song has you banging your head and wanting more. The Bennies follow up this chaotic opener with the excellent ska punk song, Anywhere You Want Go. The upbeat guitar riff and the bouncy bass line will have you skanking instantly and the chorus of “he! Ho! Anywhere You Wanna Go” will instantly be stuck in your head and you won’t be able to help but sing along.

Ice Cold Beers And Juicy Juicy Buds is a more restrained song. The energy and upbeat nature The Bennies have already laid down in the opening couple of songs is still there but it all feels more controlled. The feeling of restraint continues with Sensi-mi. This is a slow reggae punk song. I should maybe mention now that The Bennies sing a lot about drugs, and many of their songs reference them. Sensi-mi is one of them, ignoring the politics of people’s opinions on drugs you can’t help but smile at some of the lyrics in the song.

Track five, It Goes Without Saying is another instant party starter. The raw ska style is back with some great gang vocals during the chorus. I imagine this is great fun in the live arena, getting sweaty and having a good skank in the pit for the verses before grabbing the nearest person to you, putting your arm around them and belting out the chorus as loud as you can with the band.

Track six is another chilled out song on the subject of the drugs. The bass takes the lead in this song accompanied by some DJ scratching and some guitar upstrokes. The song is pretty simple and if you’re a fan of stoner rock you will love it. Knights Forever picks the tempo back up, it’s a song about youth, when you would stay out until the sun comes up. It’s another song with an extremely catchy chorus, some more gang vocals and a fun handclapping section.

There is a brief musical interlude with the psychedelic License To Chill which calms the party down until the next track Highrider begins. Another high octane crowd pleaser with a catchy chorus complete with some na na na na na na’s , fun ska beat and some great fist in the air moments.

Hold On goes back to the reggae punk style, this slows the party down for a moment the next song Frankston Girls blasts off. This song hits you like a train, with by far the heaviest riffs on the album. This is a full on hardcore song, Anty’s hardcore screams put many singers who are in the genre to shame with its raw animal like screams.

The party returns to a more happy smiling good time with the next song, Westgate Wednesday. It’s a short skankable song complete with the ska war cry of “pick-it-up-pick-it-up-pick-it-up. Auto Party Pilot is another high energy chaotic song and is one of the more aggressive on Rainbows From Space. Anty screams out “we don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn” and “King Kong ain’t got shit on me” either side of a brilliant guitar solo from guitarist Jules. The album finishes with Sky High. Combining many different styles including reggae, electronica and dub Sky High brings this party a close with satisfying conclusion.

Rainbows In Space is a brilliant brilliant album. I’m a huge fan of ska punk music and this is as good if not better than anything I’ve heard from the genre in quite a while. And it came from such an unexpected source. It made me want to dance whilst I was typing this, it had me singing along after one listen, it reminds me why I love ska music so much – its bloody good fun! Now all I want to do is see The Bennies live, Anty, Jules, Bowie and Craig if you’re reading this find a way to get other to England now. I want to come to one of your parties.

Stream and buy Rainbows In Space here:

Album Review: Face The World by The Octopussys

As I have said previously compilation albums are a great way to discover new bands. This past week I found a Belgian pop punk band named The Octopussys. The little biography on their Bandcamp page describes them as “the perfect soundtrack for a summer feeling with great riffs and melodies that have an instant sing-along character in a bunch of great punk rock songs.” I reviewed 2011’s Face The World to find out.

Opening with the song Tonight, The Octopussys get the album going exactly how you would expect a pop punk band to with a fun fast paced song about forgetting your troubles and living life for the moment. This is followed by Distant Memories which as an Ataris So Long Astoria feel to it. Clean sounding vocals over some crunching guitars and pounding drums.

Track three, Summers Gone is a song with a metaphor. Throughout the song Thibaut Hox sings about summer ending when what he really seems to be talking about is the breakup of a relationship. The opening of track four Hear Me Out really caught my attention with an interesting drum intro before really giving it some beans with the whole band. It’s about realising your mistakes in a relationship and not giving up on it.

Good Guys also has a really interesting beginning using a technique that makes the guitars sound as if they are underwater before coming into some great punchy guitar riffs. This is another song about girls (I’m sensing a theme) and why nice guys always finish last and how frustrating it is. Title track Face The World comes next. It’s a great positive song about not hiding away from your problems and facing them head on.

Moving On is the next song  is about that friend that everyone has, the one who is only around when they want help. It’s an interesting subject for a song and one that I’ve not heard much of before. This is followed by Break Me Free which starts with a great drum roll before going back to the subject of girls. This time they talk about giving a failed relationship another chance and it still not working out.

Song number 9 is called Stuck and is played at a slower temp though the singing sounds more urgent. It’s about being stuck in a boring relationship, missing the days when everything was exciting and the realisation that nothing has changed but the relationship has run its course.

The tenth song Never Looks back offers a break from songs about girls (not really). This punchy pop punk number is about leaving home and going after your dreams. Face The World finishes with This Moment. This song starts off acoustic telling a heartfelt song about being in love with someone that you know is bad for you. The musical section begins a slow build with added electric guitar, the bass before the drums kick in for a full on punk rock assault.

Face The World is a decent album and is crammed with good songs. The Octopussys are clearly influenced by 90’s punk rock such as Ten Foot Pole and No Use For A Name and this influence mixed with a modern flair creates a very good sound. My one complaint about the whole album is the amount of songs about girls. Don’t get me wrong, they are fantastic songs but I’d like a bit more variation in the topics. 

Stream and buy Face The World here:

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Album Review: Sirens by The Hook-Line Riot

The Hook-Line Riot feature members of a band that I absolutely love named 4ft Fingers. When bands form featuring members of another band it’s always difficult not to compare the two. That’s something that I am going to try my very best to do here as The Hook Line Riot are a great band regardless of what band they are also known for.

Sirens, which was released in November 2013 opens with the track Calling All Cobras. This song really cements the sound of The Hook-Line Riot, punk rock for the thinking man. Restrained, heartfelt songs which will also get a crowd singing very loudly. Calling All Cobras is about getting all of your friends together to look after a friend who is in a bad way. The lyrics “we will live, we will fight, we will sing into the night, all my brother cobras it’ll be alright” are ones that I really like. It’s a reminder of whenever life gets you down you’ve always got your friends to get you back up again.

Take No Time is another uplifting song. It’s a song encouraging you to go after what you want no matter how far away it seems, you will get there if you work hard enough for it. This is the shortest song on the album and is quite catchy. The use of the Hammond organ gives the song another layer and really helps create the fantastic sound The Hook-Line Riot have created.
Track three is called Chances and is about trying to help someone who repeatedly lets you down. The maturity of the band shines through on this one, I’m guessing like most of us they have wondered down the wrong path once or twice in their lives and have had or even needed someone to give them another chance.

She Will Never Know is a break up song (it says so in the opening line, made my reviewing much easier). It’s one of the faster songs on the album and features some fantastic drumming, really carries the verse along nicely. Towards the end of the song there is a nice punk rock “let’s go!” before a fantastic guitar solo.

Black Eyes and Broken Hearts starts off with lead singer Rob in sombre mood as he sings the opening verse of the song. As you may guess it’s a song about the very serious issue of relationship abuse and the view of an outsider looking in. Some of the lyrics in this song really hit the nail on the head and are quite emotional “do you remember when your life was free of fear and your nights didn’t end in tears” and “it just breaks my heart to see you cry, wonder why you choose to live a lie.”

This emotional song is followed by Fat Cats & Underdogs. This is a song about having to work for the big corporate giants and being treated badly, something many of us will relate to. It’s about working your socks off and still having no money to show for it. The Hook-Line Riot encourage you to stand together with your work mates and fight against the “Fat Cats.”

The second half of Sirens starts with a song named I Can Say and is a love song. The grumpy single punk rocker in me would normally complain that it’s too soppy but it’s hard not to smile when listening to the lyrics. They are ridiculously heart-warming, even the hardest of punks would get a but mushy after hearing it. Who doesn’t want “that funny feeling that carries on and on all night until the break of dawn?”

Up next is title track Sirens and is a story of the things you will do when you’re in love. It tells the tale of a couple of who decide to rob a bank so they can live together comfortably. It starts of slowly, setting the scene for what’s about to happen before kicking into a chorus that will get stuck in your head instantly. Very interesting version of the love song.

Declaration Of My Disconnection was an instant favourite of mine. This is a protest song against over use of social media. Rob sings about people struggling to interact with people face to face as people spend too much time doing it behind a screen. There is a good instrumental when the organ shines again before a building break down of “I wanna leave it all behind and analog has always done me fine, I wanna leave it all behind I wanna talk face to face this time” before a rallying cry of a chorus “this is my declaration of my disconnection.”

The next song, Rely On Me is about fatherhood. Not being a father myself I can only guess on how it feels. I think The Hook-Line Riot probably get it spot on in the chorus “I couldn’t ask for anything from a boy, I’m glad to call my son, I’ll watch you grow into a man, my son I love you and I’ll always watch after you, you made me into the man I am today.” Really mature song writing here and I’m positive all the dads will relate.

The penultimate song is Waiting Room Exit. It’s really picks the pace up after the slow burning nature of Rely On Me. The bouncy structure of the lyrics brings the song to life and really catches your attention. The song itself is another about a very serious subject, the issue of deciding whether or not to end someone’s life. It’s about the different emotions people feel whilst at somebody’s death bad whether its ending someone’s pain or saying final goodbyes. For such a serious and sombre song lyrically it’s also the poppiest song on Sirens.

The album finishes off with Turn It Up! It’s about missing the old days and how music can take you back to some great moments. Everyone can think back to a great time in their lives and relate it to a song, whether it’s a gig, a wedding or even just a road trip where you and your mates belt out a version of Teenage Dirtbag.

Sirens is one hell of an album and The Hook-Line Riot are one hell of a band. I love 4ft Fingers and now i also love The Hook-Line Riot!

Stream and buy Sirens here:

The Hook-Line Riot have also created t-shirts in memory of the late, great Tony Sly. All profits are going to the Tony Sly Kids Foundation charity. Get one here:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Album Review: Andrew Cream & Don Blake Split

A couple of times now I have been asked to review a bands latest release by the band themselves. Both times this filled me with pride and excitement and then very quickly with fear. The feeling of pride comes from a sense of validation that someone has read something that I have written and asked me to write something else; the excitement comes from the opportunity to listen to some new music, something I am really passionate about. The fear comes from the worry of it not being any good. If I’ve already promised someone that I would write a review for them I have to do it, that’s what a promise is. When I started this blog I only planned to write reviews from music that I like, going by the odd adage that if you’ve got nothing positive to say don’t say anything. Thankfully as soon as I heard Andrew Cream and Don Blake’s new split EP I loved it!

Acoustic folk punk Andrew Cream takes centre stage for the first half of the split. I imagine a big problem with being in this genre would be constantly being compared to Frank Turner. Not necessarily a bad thing as the man has got to where he is now from a whole lot of hard work and for being pretty damn good. Andrew Creams two songs are also pretty darn good. Celebrate Variety is a fantastic song about being proud to be different and not being boring and the same as everyone else. It’s a catchy sing along anthem and Cream straight away shows off his song writing credentials. His second song Another Replay starts off with just acoustic guitar and violin before being joined by a full band of instrument that really caught my attention. The song talks about a young boy who is sheltered from life and how it turned him into a close minded adult. This is a really interesting concept for a song and one I’ve not heard much. Andrew Creams half of the split is first class and has encouraged me to check out more of his releases. You should too!

The second half of the split really took me by surprise, expecting some more folk punk and thinking that Manchester’s Don Blake will have a lot to live up to after the awesomeness of Cream. I was blown away, not because of them being better than Cream. You can’t and really compare them at all. When I first put on Don Blake’s first track, the 30 seconds long The Other Thing I fell in love. I have just found my new favourite pop punk band. Channelling bands such as Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights they played some short and to the point pop punk that their American counterparts would be very happy with. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the pop punk wheel but my gosh it’s great fun. As with Andrew Cream I have checked out Don Blake’s other material and I love it.

This is a really good split. I always thinks split releases are really good ideas for bands to do, it gets your music out to another group of fans who may only be aware of the other band on the split and I imagine it splits the cost of putting a release out if you go in with another band. So many positives, no negatives. Bloody brilliant.

Check out Andrew Cream here:

Check out Don Blake here:

Album Review: World Of Weirdos by Mϋg

Mϋg are a four piece punk band who are from London. They have been together since 2010 and have already put out two EPs and one full length album. Their most recent effort, the EP World Of Weridos came out in April.

It’s extremely clear where Mϋg’s influences lie, 90’s skate punk such as NOFX, Bad Religion, Descendents or pretty much anything on Epitaph or Fat Wreck. The first song, title track World Of Weirdos follows in the footsteps of those legendary bands put Mϋg manage to put their own spin on the genre. Musically the song gets off to a ferocious start before vocalist Mat’s voice carries the melody of the song. World Of Weirdos is a catchy song about embracing who you are and not conforming to what society thinks is wrong or right.

Track two is fingers crossed. It starts of quite restrained and is a much more controlled sound compared to World Of Weirdos. The Descendents influence is huge on this song about wondering if anyone has your back during difficult times. The closing lyrics of save us from ourselves” will be something many punk kids can relate to having found safe haven from self destructing by going to punk shows.

The final song on World Of Weirdos is named Signs Of Life. A mid-tempo track where the guitar takes the lead with some interesting riffs played throughout. This pop punk offering ticks all of the boxes you want to make a great song, smart and catchy lyrics, brilliant harmonies and it’s fantastically played.

World Of Weirdos is a very solid release from Mϋg. The three songs are varied and interesting; every time I have listened to each song I have heard something new that I like. It’s very well produced by the band themselves, to my uneducated ears the songs sound like they have been produced in a way to give them a live feel which I love. Mϋg are one of the finest bands in London.

Stream and buy World Of Weirdos here:

Monday, 18 August 2014

Play Some Ska!

Ska is a very underappreciated genre of music. Just about everyone will know a ska song even if they don’t realise that it’s ska. There are people who are aware of its existence who dismiss it by saying that it all sounds the same. This really grates on me as I find ska to be a extremely varied genre of music. I assume the people who think this are basing their ska “knowledge” on The Specials and Madness or Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake. At the moment there is a great ska scene in the UK, full of lots of varied and extremely talented bands. After making myself a playlist of my favourite underground punk bands there other day (if you missed it check it out here) I decided to do another dedicated to my favourite bands that play ska.

1. Beat The Red Light – Rut from Salt The Lands
Armed with one of my favourite band names Beat The Red Light are a group from High Wycombe who fuse thrash, hardcore, metal, punk and ska to create some of the most aggressive ska around. In a live setting they come at you like a bullet train, hitting you hard and not relenting until the end of their journey.

2. Buster Shuffle – At The Bank from Our Night Out
Buster Shuffle are a band from London who play some extremely catchy two-tone ska similar to Madness. It’s good fun, up-tempo pop music that everyone will instantly fall in love with and will be humming along with fro days.

3. Cartoon Violence – Vauxhall Nova from Whatever Happened To The Likely Lad?
Welsh band Cartoon Violence is another band playing the two tone genre of ska. Featuring members from bands such as Three Minute Warning and Smoke Like A Fish Cartoon Violence brilliantly mix two tone with classic indie Brit Pop storytelling they really grab your attention.

4. ClayPigeon – Compass from EP3
ClayPigeon are one of the most creative bands in the scene currently, expertly mixing ska, punk and drum and bass to create a sound all of their own. Compass is a song about people being accountable for their actions. The lyrics display some great social commentary and it’s another song with an insanely catchy chorus.

5. Dirty Revolution – Failure To Communicate from Before The Fire
Cardiff’s Dirty Revolution play what they call tropical reggae ska music. It contains the bouncy upstrokes of ska, the laid back nature of reggae and gives you the feeling of being at a fantastic carnival. It makes you want to dance. There is serious content within the songs though, with lyrics about racism, relgion, politics as well as some social commentary. Dirty Revolution are a fantastic band on record and live. Sadly they are calling it a day this year so catch them while you still can.

6. Faintest Idea – Bull In A China Shop from The Voice Of Treason
Faintest Idea are a ska punk band from Kings Lynn in Norfolk. Their brand of ska punk and a hint of oi is extremely danceable. One of the most entertaining live bands I’ve seen in a long while expect to be covered in sweat after having a good old fashioned skank to these boys.

7. Fandangle – Cheap Escape from Fly Away
Fandangle first came to my attention in the middle of the 2000’s not long before they split up. Last year they got together to play some shows and in the summer of this year I finally got a chance to see them at Slam Dunk Festival. They were absolutely amazing. High energy, catchy and most importantly fun songs that you can sing and dance to.

8. The Filaments – Tales From The Barside from Land Of Lions
Essex band The Filaments have been going since the new millennium and are one of the most popular and respected bands in the scene. Mixing hardcore punk with ska to create a sound that will get crowds moshing and skanking in equal measure. Last year released long awaited album Land Of Lions which includes the excellent Tales From The Barside, a song about a promoter from essex and mentions many different venues in the Essex area including Colchester’s Soundhouse.

9. Ghouls – London’s Burning from Ten Thousand Words On
Ghouls are a relatively young band from London and are one of my top finds in the past year. I’ve read them described as a cross between gypsy punks Gogol Bordello and ska punk legends Streetlight Manifesto and it’s a good comparison. The rhythm section is tight, the brass is energetic and their front man is very watchable.

10. Gone and Lost it – You’re At Fault from Demo CD
Nottingham ska punks Gone and Lost It are a band on the rise. Having just played the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool this five piece play fast and urgent pop punk and lace it with enough ska to keep fun and danceable.

11. The Hostiles – Where Are You from Always Looking Forward
Scottish band The Hostiles bring a ska punk sound mostly known from the USA to the far chillier shores of Scotland. Having toured with Reel Big Fish and shared the stage with the likes of Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, The Toasters and The Mad Caddies to name just a few you can tell where the bands influences lie.

12. Imperial Leisure – Man On The Street from The Art Of Saying Nothing
There are a lot of very good live bands across all genres of music in the UK. I don’t think that any are better at getting a crowd moving than Imperial Leisure. Their live shows are a non-stop party from start to finish; the energy levels from the band are ridiculous. Musically they are very broad as well, with songs including a mixture of styles like ska, punk, hip hop and a little electronica.

13. The JB Conspiracy – Take Flight from The Storm
The JB Conspiracy are an incredibly underrated ska punk band from London. They are a seven piece band incorporating four horns in their line up. As you would expect the horns are what drives the songs forward and give them life. Not that the rest of the band are too shabby either, with guitarist and lead singer Matt Carson’s voice really standing out against many of his contemporaries.

14. The Jellycats – T-W-A-T from When I Do
The Jellycats are a band that have gone from strength to strength other the past two years. Fresh and fun ska punk with a very British twist is what The Jellycats offer in abundance. Having already played Download, Hevy and Slam Dunk festivals as well as support slots with the likes of The Aquabats, The Beat and most recently Reel Big Fish The Jellycats are showing no signs of slowing down.

15. Jimmy The Squirrel – This One’s For You from Jimmy The Squirrel
Jimmy The Squirrel are a ska band from Nottingham and London. Mixing genres such as ska, reggae, indie, punk, soul and rock they have built up a solid fan base. Its great chilled up music for lazy days sitting in the sun with friends.

16. King Prawn – The Dominant View from Got The Thirst
Godfathers of the underground ska scene, King Prawn returned last year after a long break to show the current crop of bands just how it’s done.  Mixing every genre of music they possibly can they have cooked up a unique concoction of sound. King Prawns songs are as current now as they were when they were first released, making their return vitally important.

17. Liam O’Kane – Taxi Man from Happy Days Sad Songs
Liam O’Kane is the front man from Jimmy The Squirrel. Whilst not with his full band he also plays and releases material as a solo artist. Great stripped back acoustic ska.

18. Mr Shiraz – Rut from I’m Invincible, I’m Built Like A Sherman Tank Somebody Try And Stop Me
Huddersfield’s Mr Shiraz are an band that mixes ska, punk and metal to great effect. Combining the aggression of punk and metal and adding an upbeat feeling with ska horns and a quick fire vocal delivery makes Mr Shiraz a very exciting band to watch.

19. New Town Kings – Change from Pull and Rewind
I’ve spoken off my love for Colchester’s New Town Kings many times on this blog. Playing a modern version of traditional Jamaican ska music the Kings have built up a reputation as one of the brightest bands on the scene. Boasting probably the best horn section of all the bands in the underground scene, a very tight rhythm section and a captivating new(ish) front man in Dabs look out for even bigger things from the phenomenal band.

20. Random Hand – Not A Number from Seething Is Believing
Another band that mixes ska, punk and metal to amazing effect are Random Hand from Keighley. Random Hand have been the kings of the skacore genre for a number of years now combining a great live show with songs with political and social commentary. Every time I’ve seen Random Hand it’s been one of my favourite gigs, check them out now!

21. Rebelation – Reggae Woman from State Of The Union
Rebelation formed in 1994 and have now been playing their brand of ska, reggae and rocksteady music for twenty years. Crafting their sound with a strong horn section and dual male and female harmony vocals backed by a powerful rhythm section the songs are catchy and will get everyone tapping their feet.

22. Robb Blake – Breaking My Balls from No Time To Waste
Robb Blake was the front man for early 2000’s ska punk band Whitmore. When they broke up he continued to put out music as a solo artist calling himself “The One Man Ska Explosion.” More stripped back acoustic ska with a hint towards his past Whitmore days.

23. The Skints – Contemplations Of A Modern Rude Boy from Live.Breathe.Build.Believe
Probably the biggest success story to come out of the underground ska scene is The Skints. It’s hard to think of them as an underground band anymore such is their popularity. Mixing reggae and ska with a three pronged vocal assault that sounds distinctively London. If you haven’t heard The Skints yet it won’t be long until you do.

24. Slagerij – Can’t Stop A Nation from Oh Yeah
Slagerij (I have no idea how to properly pronounce it) are a three piece ska punk band from Swindon. After forming in 2007 they have worked relentlessly to put out a debut EP and two self recorded and produced albums out filled with infectious party ska punk. Like all great bands should be they are at their very best live, creating mayhem amongst a crowd whilst retaining complete control of their own performance

25. Sonic Boom Six – Sunny Side Of The Street from Sunny Side Of The Street – Single
Manchester genre terrorists seem to have been around for a very long time now and are showing no signs of stopping. Having started out as a skacore band they have evolved their sound over the years to implement many different types of music. Despite this they have always stayed true to their message of unity and have never shied away from their love of the genre of ska.

26. [Spunge] – Skanking Song from Too Little Too Late
Tewkesbury’s finest ska punk band [Spunge] have now been a band for twenty years. After releasing four albums full of catchy, danceable, sing along songs last year they released a greatest hits album. Live they show no signs of slowing down, constantly playing high energy entertaining shows up and down the country.

27. Stand Out Riot – Count For Something from The Gentlemen Bandits
Stand Out Riot are a skacore band from the North West of England. Boasting a highly unique sound featuring three horn players and a violinist, Stand Out Riot hit you from every angle. A lot of energy comes from their music, it’s played with a lot of urgency and the multiple vocalists make you wonder exactly what is coming next.

28. Tallowah – Strong & Sturdy from Strong & Sturdy
Tallowah are a seven piece reggae band from Southend. What I love about Tallowah is how lead singer Joe Garners voice acts as much as a musical instrument as the trombone, the trumpet or any other instrument in the band does. It drives the melody of the song forward and is a joy to hear.

29. Tyrannosaurus Alan – Bombard The BBC from Campaign

Tyrannosaurus Alan (shortened to T//alan) are a band from Medway in Kent who use ska, punk and grime to create a sound all of their own. Having briefly split up at the end of 2012 returned less than a year later to everyone’s relief. Scarily talented for such a young band, a fantastic horn section and a great set of vocalists mixing rap and actual singing brilliantly. Bombard The BBC is a fantastic track and has been my ringtone for a long time now.