Thursday, 19 October 2017

Top Tens: Mark from Our Lives In Cinema's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

1) Rocket From The Crypt
RFTC are without a shadow of a doubt the best band the world has ever known. It’s not a subjective thing either; it’s cold, hard fact and can be proved with science. My first exposure to them was through both Kerrang and the NME. Kerrang’s review of ‘Scream, Dracula, Scream!’ went so far as to tell the reader to steal the record if necessary... 12 year old me thought that was as cool as it gets. The NME featured ‘Born In ’69’ on a free cassette and it was every bit as badass as I’d imagined. John Reis/Speedo is a songwriting genius. I’d say ‘Pigeon Eater’... a B SIDE, is their greatest moment. Probably the greatest 3 minutes of sound ever recorded.

2) Jeff Rosenstock
Jeff and ‘Bomb The Music Industry!’ are the reason I wanted to start playing music again after a five year break. I wasn’t even remotely aware of his existence until hearing ‘Hey Allison’ from 2016’s ‘We Cool?’ on some random Spotify playlist. I think he’s likely the genre’s best songwriter and he’s been crazy prolific. It’s been so fun wading through such a varied and consistently excellent back catalogue of music. His most recent album ‘Worry’ is the best record he’s put together so far and it has the perfect mix of lyrical excellence, poppy hooks and crazily awesome punk music executed by a dude with admirable ethics and limitless passion. My favourite song of his is ‘Stuff That I Like’ from ‘Scrambles’.

3) At The Drive In
The best thing to come from me loving Korn and Slipknot so much as an edgy teen was my devotion to producer Ross Robinson and I eagerly anticipated ‘Relationship Of Command’ because of his involvement. I remember seeing ATDI smash their way through ‘One Armed Scissor’ on ‘Later: With Jools Holland’ with a completely confused Robbie Williams watching from the audience. It was pretty much the most exciting performance of anything I’d ever seen up until that point.

4) The Blood Brothers
Such a ridiculously talented, genre-defying band. Insane and imaginative music, incredibly vivid, allegorically poetic lyrics, two perfectly paired frontmen with utterly unique voices. For me, when I think of punk I think of The Blood Brothers. They have a bunch of amazing records but the Ross Robinson produced ‘Burn Piano Island Burn’ is the best place to start.

5) Nirvana
Nirvana were the first band I ever loved that wasn’t part of my dad’s record collection. When I first started getting into rock music it was just after Kurt’s death. At school we’d all swap tapes of what we thought ‘cool’ music was. I got tapes of Guns & Roses, Green Day, Metallica, The Sex Pistols, Pearl Jam... and ‘Nevermind’. It’s just wall to wall bangers from start to finish. It’s not a popular opinion but I rate ‘Bleach’ ahead of ‘In Utero’ too. If there’s ONE band I wish I could’ve seen live it’s them.

6) Coheed & Cambria
During my years working for HMV I found two bands by randomly playing stuff in store that had a massive impact on my life. ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3’ was a revelation. As somebody who is allergic to most things labelled prog-rock, I was staggered at just how much melody and triumphant chorus Claudio was able to pack into all of his songs, even within the context of a sci-fi concept record. For me, even though I don’t relate to them lyrically as such... Coheed’s first 3 albums are untouchable.

7) The Hold Steady
This was my second life changing band discovered at HMV. I found the cover art to ‘Boys And Girls In America’ really appealing for some reason. I think Craig Finn is a genius lyricist and I try to learn as much from him as I can. He’s such a great storyteller and live performer and he has an ability to convey so much wit, warmth, sadness, romance and nostalgia in his songs. Live, as someone who’s closer to my own age than say Joyce Manor, he made me feel like I could still credibly be in a rock band. He’s very unabashedly himself and enthusiastic as a live presence.

8) The Beatles
Bands that I dislike that people I have known have been annoyed at me for hating: The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. Yet somehow I seem to continually run into people who claim to hate The Beatles. They are liars. They did more in 7 years than most bands have managed in 20. ‘Abbey Road’ is clearly their best record.

9) U2
Ok ok ok I get it. Everybody hates Bono. I hate Bono too. He’s a smug, self appointed messiah figure. And nobody should be called ‘The edge’. However...
1. They’re not Coldplay.
2. They had massive tunes in the 80s.
3. For their first 3 albums they were sort of punk but not really.
4. Don’t pretend you don’t like all the singles from ‘The Joshua Tree’.
5. It’s actually my Dad’s fault.
6. I’ll defend ‘Achtung Baby’ until the day I die. That is a SEXY album full of gigantic tunes.

10) Weezer
Like most Weezer fans, my relationship with their music is reasonably complicated and I feel pretty psychologically abused by them at this point. Listening to ‘Pinkerton’ as an adult after giving it some distance is weird. The lyrics are pretty creepy and cringe worthy but maybe that’s the point? The ‘Green Album’ is my favourite, I just love how simplistic and timeless it is. I think we can all do without almost everything from ‘Make Believe’ to ‘Hurley’. ‘The White Album’ was a real return to form I thought, but the last 3 singles are up their with the worst crap they’ve ever put out. You never know where where you stand with Rivers Cuomo.

Stream and download Our Lives In Cinema here:

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Album Review: Come What May by The Penske File

The Penske File are one of my favourite musical discoveries of the past couple of years. I heard their album Burn Into The Earth and instantly became a big fan of the Canadian three piece. Burn Into The Earth was released back in 2015 so I was super excited when the band released two brand new songs via Stomp Records titled Come What May and Oh Brother.

Come What May starts off with some fantastic duelling guitars and drumming, really grabbing the listener from the beginning. After the initial flurry we are treated to some fantastic, emotional vocals that you'll be singing from the outset. The whole thing really gives off a ballady feeling, a real get your lighters out moment. I was kind of expecting a bit more of a faster paced track after the initial start of the Come What May but instead we have a mid-paced emotionally charged banger that looks at the topic of things remaining the same no matter how out of control you feel.

Oh Brother begins with a nice acapella introduction complete with a little "whoa-oh" harmony. This will get a crowd singing along to the song instantly and put a huge smile on my face the first time that I heard it. Oh Brother is more poppy than Come What May and really shows The Penske File at their very best. The chorus is an instant earworm, you'll be singing this for days, much like the chorus from Burn Into The Earth's Damned. The gang vocal shouts of "Whoa-oh Brother Where've You Gone, Goddamn It's Been So Long" add so much impetus to the chorus and make it sound huge. The song is about missing somebody you care about and longing to have them back.

I'm assuming these two songs are in preparation for a future full length from The Penske File. If these are the two lead songs we are in for an absolute treat from the assumed future album. I'm hoping they find their way over to the UK soon so I can hear these tracks and many more of their fantastic back catalogue live.

Stream and download Come What May here:

Like The Penske File here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Album Review: Cities In Search Of A Heart by The Movielife (by Richard Mair)

14 years after their last album, influential pop-punkers The Movielife return with their 4th full length. After calling it quits after the release of the excellent "40 Hour Train Back To Penn" the band's stock has continued to rise whilst many of their peers (Saves the Day, Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory to name a few), have seen their returns diminish and increasingly sketchy outputs tarnish their once great reputations. Having a small and consistently excellent back catalogue has enabled the band to cement their status as legends; whilst their releases (with the exception of "It's Go Time" to be fair - which sounds far too light weight and underproduced by comparison), have stood the test of time well. There is obviously a lot riding on this release to not only manage expectations of those old fans, but also to draw new listeners in - moving them from a nostalgia act to one that's relevant for a newer audience, who may not be as aware of their legacy or importance to the pop-punk scene. So how does 2017 Movielife compare to that of yesteryear?

... The answer is surprisingly well. Sure it's not as bratty and pop-hardcore in the vein of "This Time Next Year", nor is it as defiant and damaged as "40 Hour Train Back To Penn", but shows a maturity and self-awareness that can only come with age and with time away from each other - notably driving forces, vocalist Vinnie Caruana and guitarist Brandon Reilly. What they have crafted here is a natural progression built on their separate growths and careers, but retaining that original Movielife magic.

The obvious difference lies in the vocals. I've always loved the rapid, shouty rasp of Vinnie Caruana, and here it's been toned down slightly. The most obviously traditional Movielife song with this regards is opener "Ski Mask", which catapults the album to a breakneck speed immediately; with this regard it's very reminiscent of "I Hope You Die Soon"; albeit of a slightly longer run time (clocking over 1:30)! It's clearly a nod to the old times and an explosive start to the album, followed by a song that will be seen as an anthem over coming years "Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel"; its heavy opening and verses are very post-hardcore in style before it shifts into a huge chorus. Again reminding the listener of their hardcore roots; personally I see this as a joining of their pop-punk drive-thru era sound combined with the more hardcore stylings of their Revelation releases and it's probably the most realistic interpretation of who The Movielife actually are.

I always found them out of place as a Drive-Thru band, and despite my love for "40 Hour Train..." and "Gambling Problem" I always get the impression that maybe there was some outside influence to push the more pop elements of the songs at the expense of their hardcore leanings; where as "Cities in Search of a Heart" seems much more in keeping with earlier releases. Take "Sister Saint Monica" for example which is much more driven by hardcore beats and subtle beat downs, whilst still retaining their melodic elements; these more hardcore leanings seem to be more noticeable this time around.

The obvious outlier on the album is "Pour Two Glasses", it's acoustic, orchestral approach drawing obvious parallels with "Sailor Tattoos". It's a nice interlude in the middle of the album, and instead of breaking the flow as can often happen with such songs, acts as a good change of pace and helps balance the first half of the album.

Lyrically, "Cities In Search Of A Heart", draws on many of the themes the Movielife are known for, in particular the need to find a place to belong or being away from home. Given the band's history and the infamous van accident that placed so much stress on the members relationships prior to their initial split, it's no surprise some nods throughout the album evoke an element of closure to that sad episode - particularly "Mercy".

It should also be noted that Vinnie has also always had a self-awareness of how one person's actions can impact on those around them and whereas the rose tinted nostalgia that filled songs like "Hey" have been replaced by an acknowledgement of his own failings in "Ghosts In The Photograph". It's a really honest juxtaposition that is evident across this new album; it suggests a further realisation on how you can damage others through your actions. It's an album littered with guilt and remorse but also with The Movielife you get a commitment to put things right and also to take responsibility for your actions.

Closing song "Hearts" is a genuine slow-burner, driven by Vinnie's vocal delivery and shows a vulnerable humanity and a feeling of space and isolation. If the album starts with the most Movielife song it ends far removed from their past as they can go. That's not a bad thing again reinforcing their growth as musicians and people over the intervening 14 years. In between there are other highlights, particularly "Laugh Ourselves To Death" with its building and soaring chorus and the full-on "You're The Cure".

If I was to list the bands that have been important to me over the years, The Movielife would definitely feature. Their lyrics have always been especially relatable; I've known some "Handgrenades"; I can fully comprehend "10 Seconds Too Late"; and "Kelly's Song" could easily refer to my relationships. This album will be no different. If I compared their early output to Saves The Day, New Found Glory and Alkaline Trio when trying to manage expectations for this latest release I'd argue it's reminded me more of later Make Do and Mend or even Bayside; it's mature, grown-up and reflective. Sure, overall it's slower and more measured, but whilst their previous efforts helped define my early twenties this is exactly what I want from Vinnie and the boys in my mid thirties.

Order Cities In Search Of A Heart here.

Like The Movielife here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Album Review: Say Goodbye by Plan 37

What do we feature a lot of on CPRW? Canadian punk rock. Currently one of the best scenes in the world. Today we're reviewing the first full length from Toronto's Plan 37, titled Say Goodbye. Plan 37 formed in early 2012 and feature members of Deforesters, Sinkin' Ships, The Roman Line and The Unbelievers. They have released a handful of EPs and split releases and this September they released Say Goodbye on My Fingers! My Brain! Records.

The first of the thirteen tracks on Say Goodbye is named Already Here. Already Here wastes no time in laying down the marker for what to expect on the album - a great mix of sing-a-long street punk with a large dose of buzzsaw pop punk. The bands I'm most reminded of are early The Riptides and The Have Nots if you remove the ska elements. If you like those bands, you will without a doubt like Plan 37. The second track on the album is Bullet Catcher. The opening part of the song is very heavy, focussing largely on some bass and drums to get things going. Vocally the singer is quite harsh, with a great amount of intensity and aggression used with every word he growls out. Red Shirt falls more into the pop punk bowl. Played at a slower pace than you might expect after the opening two songs, it focuses more on melody rather than blistering musicianship. Like the true pop punk classics there are harmonies and background hand claps a-plenty. A great fun song. Me & U, Pt. II does feature that blistering musicianship. An energetic charm explodes out of the song and fills its audience with a punk rock joy that's hard to explain. The song is about get back together with a former partner realising why you broke up in the first place. The track has a wonderful story telling feel to it that plants images in your head of what's happening in the song.

The fifth song is True Lies. Kicking things off with a pounding drum beat and some vocals, this short song is another that's bursting with energy. The chorus really stands out with some huge gang vocals that plead to be screamed back at the band with your fists planted firmly in the air. The song is only a short one but kicks some serious arse throughout. I really loved On The Run from the first time that I listened to it. From the opening guitars, that will have you jumping around the room, to the infectious chorus, which will be wedged firmly in your head for hours - it's everything I want in my pop punk. Suburban Outfitters has somewhat of a horror punk feel to it. The song is very bass heavy with some quick guitar licks layered over the top. This different twist on their sound is great and shows some diversity which is always welcome on a punk record. I particularly loved the lyrics "Time To Stand Up, Time To Be A Dad, Cause You Love Your Wife, It's Time To Be A Man." There is an aggression and power to those gang vocals that really help the line hit home. Vanpire is the first time on Say Goodbye where Plan 37 utilise a dual male and female vocal partnership, other than for harmonies. It works a treat with the male vocals being some of the harshest on the album so far, when the female vocals join in there is a sweetness that offsets the harsher vocals perfectly.

Fighting To Die is a song that punches you in the face repeatedly for its one minute and fifty-one second duration. This street punk song rarely relents and is just a huge amount of fun. The vocals seemingly come from every direction leaving you with a feeling of not knowing what's coming next. The no thrills free-for-all is an absolute treat and will create some magical mosh pit moments. Shockmaster has a fairly long musical intro that has been missing thus far on Say Goodbye. It builds nicely into another street punk sing-a-long. Shockmaster is perhaps more reserved than the previous songs. This approach is refreshing and offers a nice rest bite to the unstoppable hurricane that's been happening so far. 2 Feet & A Heartbeat is another more reserved slower number, feeling like a great barroom sing-a-long track. One of those great songs where you throw your arms round your neighbours and sing like it's your last chance. The gang vocals are just exquisite, making the listener really feel a part of Plan 37. I like that feeling. The penultimate song is named Attack Of The Crummy Crummies. The pace is ramped back up here with the aggressive vocals returning to the Plan 37 sound. The energy that comes out from the song throughout is superb and is a real pick-me-up for the closing couple of songs on the album. Plan 37 appear to be on a mission to finish the album with a bang. Last up is the album's title track Say Goodbye. The perfect song to finish the album on. It perfectly sums up why I love Plan 37 and the whole album. It takes the best of what the album has to offer, hard hitting pop punk anthems that will get you dancing, singing and smiling. Say Goodbye is about saying that last goodbye to somebody you care about. There is a good time party feel to the song rather than more of a sad mournful sound that you might expect. That's exactly why I adored the song.

Say Goodbye is one of my albums of the year. It's superb and deserves yours and everyone else's attention. It's not like much I've heard recently and really is just a breath of fresh air. Just go and check it out!

Stream and download Say Goodbye here:

Like Plan 37 here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Gig Review: Gaz Brookfield at The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes 12/10/17 (by Emma Prew)

It may come as a bit of a shock to some readers but sometimes I go to gigs without Colin. Sometimes my gig buddy is my dad – Colin is always invited but doesn’t always fancy it – particularly if the gig is in Milton Keynes (my hometown and where Papa Prew lives) and is more along the lines of folk and/or acoustic-based music. That was the case on Thursday night when Gaz Brookfield, self-proclaimed solo acoustic guy, would be making his debut appearance in Milton Keynes at the wonderful Craufurd Arms. We’ve seen him play locally before, both times at Bedford Esquires, and are always up for seeing him again. He’s rather good!

Support on the night came from Bedford-based Rhys Kirkman, who also supported Gaz Brookfield in Bedford last time around, and Nick Parker, who was along for the ride for the whole UK tour. Unfortunately, due to struggling to find somewhere close to the Craufurd Arms to park, we ended up arriving, into a half full venue, after Rhys had started his set – it also turns out doors at 8pm actually meant music starts at 8pm. Luckily we only missed a couple of songs. What we did hear was just as good as I remember from last time around. Catchy and, for the most part, upbeat songs with a great storytelling element to them. The highlight of his set would have to be the closing song, The Tallest Man In The Pub – a slightly amusing yet genuine tale about being tall. Not something I can relate to but a good song nonetheless!

Given that all three artist on the bill were ‘solo acoustic guys’ the change over period between acts wasn’t very long – never a bad thing (unless you’re in the queue for the bar I guess… that’s your loss). So, soon Nick Parker was taking to the stage. Neither myself or my dad had heard of Nick Parker before but I assumed that, sandwiched between Rhys and Gaz on this bill, I would like him. It wasn’t long before that assumption was proved correct. This was quite a performance with plenty of unexpected added extras to keep the audience attentive without things turning gimmicky. Nick’s set featured audience participation in the form of: loud speaker mobile phones making whirring sounds that wouldn’t be out of place on a Radiohead record, lyric sheet handouts that encouraged the ladies and gents of the audience to sing different parts of a really sweet love song and German signs spelling out the chorus to another song about how the British apologise too much. It really made me want to listen to him again and that’s exactly what I did, the next morning.

This run of tour dates was the second part of the I Know My Place, Gaz’s fourth album, tour – the first set of dates was back in the spring, before ‘festival season’. Gaz referred to I Know My Place as being his ‘new’ album but of course we’ve all been listening to it for almost a year. This certainly showed as the Craufurd Arms crowd was singing along enthusiastically to all of the songs – new and old. The venue was reasonably well packed out as well. I’m always a bit sceptical about how popular a lot of the more local shows that I go to will be but Gaz Brookfield is certainly an artist who draws in a crowd. Particularly as he’d never actually played in Milton Keynes before, as a support or otherwise. A Gaz Brookfield show is filled with great anecdotes about each song and about life on the road as a full time musician – the ironically titled It’s All So Rock And Roll, for example, plus songs about his unreliable vehicles, Cursed and Ode To Ozzy (the beloved old van). He’s a very down to earth person and I think that’s the reason why he has such dedicated fans, he just writes great and relatable songs. Plus they convey wonderfully into a live setting.

My absolute favourite song from the last album is titled I’ve Paid My Money which is about those people at gigs that we all hate who stand near the front and then talk through the artist’s performance or yell stuff at the person or people on stage, all while you’re standing there trying to listen. It’s more apparent at acoustic-based shows and so it is something Gaz Brookfield has had to deal with time and time again. When he played the song in Bedford last time around, there were people talking through his set which was annoyingly apt. However, in Milton Keynes the crowd was a lot more respectful and if mouths were open it was because they were singing along. I don’t want to appear bias to my hometown over my currently-residing-in town but gigs in Milton Keynes are always better than gigs in Bedford. That’s partly down to The Craufurd Arms (although the town’s other main music venue, MK11, is pretty darn good too) being such an awesome venue. Both Gaz and Nick said as much themselves, particularly commenting on the sound set up and the brilliant hospitality they received. It makes me proud to be from Milton Keynes. I love The Craufurd Arms.

Other highlights of the set included Land Pirate’s Life, The Diabetes Blues (parts 1 and 2), Be The Bigger Man and a special rendition of Cornish Fishing Town, a song that has only been played live two times before and featured Nick Parker on the mandolin. Although Gaz Brookfield is a self-proclaimed solo acoustic guy, much of his more recent recorded material features a full band so it was great to get a little taster of full band Gaz Brookfield. He and his Company Of Thieves are embarking on a full band tour early next year which I’m very much looking forward to – but this gig left me fairly content until then. I urge you to go and see Gaz Brookfield live – he’s probably coming to a town near you. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Column: Manchester Punk Festival 2018

Did you all see the huge announcement for the Manchester Punk Festival last week? Propagandhi are playing! Incredible! How has this DIY festival in Manchester pulled off such a feat in just its fourth year?! Because it's the best festival of any kind in the UK. Here's why.

Before my love letter to MPF begins, here's a little bit of history about the festival. Manchester Punk Festival is a not-for-profit DIY punk festival based in Manchester (you probably guessed that by its name) created by a group of Manchester music promoters - TNS, Moving North and Anarchistic Undertones. The first edition of the festival was in 2014 and was headlined by The Filaments and Apologies, I Have None. For my money the line up that year was one of the greatest line ups ever put together for a UK punk festival. The next year things only got bigger - with the addition of another stage and some big headline acts in the form of Citizen Fish and The Flatliners. They again topped this in 2017 with the addition of yet another venue, Gorilla, and headline appearances from Strike Anywhere, Belvedere and Paint It Black, who were making their first UK appearance in years! The speed at which the festival is growing is incredible. Then this year Propagandhi get announced?! You really don't get much bigger than that but, at the same time, you just know that the MPF lads will find a way to top it. The growth that the Manchester Punk Festival has achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable.

So why has MPF grown so quickly? Firstly you have to look at that first year. There was only one non UK act on the bill, Joe McMahon of Smoke Or Fire. The rest of the bill was comprised of some of the best of the current UK scene as well as some old favourites reuniting for the festival. It's a credit to the strength of the punk scene on our tiny island that so many great bands could come togther for, what at the time was, a two day festival and help put on an incredible weekend. From then on, the international acts have been coming to Manchester and the bands themselves have gotten bigger and bigger to the point where no band seems like an unrealistic announcement anymore. If it wasn't for the great UK acts helping to lay the MPF foundations that first year would MPF still be a thing?

Secondly it's the location. MPF is based in the centre of Manchester's city centre at a variety of different sized venues all within walking distance of each other. For the first three years of MPF Sound Control was the home of MPF with two stages used at the venue. Sadly this year Sound Control won't be used and will be greatly missed. So many of my favourite MPF memories have happened in that venue. Another favourite venue of many who have attended MPF is Zombie Shack. This small bar only has a capacity of 140 people but is always a party. You'll get as big a kick out of the zombie/tiki themed decor as you will the dozens of excellent bands playing at the venue all weekend. Last year saw the addition of Gorilla as another big stage and it was a very welcome addition to the festival. All the venues at MPF are fantastic for punk rock shows of whatever size.

The people you will meet are another excellent reason that MPF is just the best. It's very rare to bump into someone you dislike at a DIY punk show, everyone is usually super friendly and wants to be your best friend. Now add this attitude to a festival where people, not just from the UK but from all over the world, gather to see some of the best bands in the world. If you talk to a stranger, and I urge you to do so, you will no doubt make a very good new friend. There is something about the festival that just brings people together and it's something the world as a whole needs more than ever. A punk crowd is such a good example of strangers being together, getting on despite any differences and just being a good friendly bunch of folk.

Lastly and most importantly MPF is so good because of its organisers - Andy, Bev, Kieran and Tree. These four men and their volunteers work tirelessly on the festival alongside their full time jobs and other punk rock commitments - all for the love of punk rock. They get no financial gain for the time and effort they put in to putting on the best festival possible. It takes a very special type of person to sacrifice so much of their time to do something that is so special to so many people. I can't help but feel like there is a ridiculous amount of stress involved in putting together the weekend and then ensuring that it runs as smoothly as possible and that everyone has the best imaginable time. I've said this many times over the past three years, and no doubt I'll say it many more times in the future, but thank you fellas.

I urge each and every one of you reading this to go and buy a ticket to the festival. It will be the best decision of your year!

I'll see you there!

Buy your ticket to Manchester Punk Festival here:

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Top Tens: Andy from The Eradicators' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Kids in the Hall
This is the obvious one, since the scope of the band is based on a character from the sketch. I grew up watching this show religiously and it's crazy to think for such a strange sketch comedy show they were able to get on national TV along with a feature length film later down the line. Hopefully they come back for some more, which seems likely based on recent press they've received.

Atom and His Package
I think I found out about Atom as a result of checking out random stuff that No Idea put out. I saw him at the Fireside Bowl right after I heard the Making Love record, and couldn't believe that he was able to sell that place out with just him, a guitar, and a sequencer playing tongue-in-cheek songs about Enya and Rob Halford. When the Fest line-up got announced this year I became more excited about his set than my own.

7000 Dying Rats
This band holds a special place in my heart. I met one of my best friends (Ryan Durkin, singer of my other band Bad Mechanics and we also run the small label Hewhocorrupts Inc.) at one of their shows, and I would have never met my wife (I met her while on a CTA bus while I was en route to their recording session) without this band. For those not in the know, 7KDR was primarily a grindcore band who didn't have lyrics (just made up sounds and didn't bother to put words to them) but mixed every style imaginable and had either the best song titles or the best stage banter or the best in-between sample tracks ever. Plus they had Derek Hess do all of their artwork, which still is crazy to me.

The Woods brothers & my Milwaukee buddies
I'm very fortunate to have met Nick Woods and the rest of the guys in Direct Hit back in 2008, and they've been at it for almost 10 years. I was in a band with Nick and his brother Peter (the band was Galactic Cannibal), and they were somewhat the catalysts for me wanting to continue playing music as I was almost done with being in bands after one of my last ones (Tension Generation) broke up in 2012. I had the idea for the Eradicator in 2012 and wanted to make it happen in 2014 but was hesitant to do it. I remember telling Peter about it and he thought it would be fun, and I asked Nick if DH would want to be the "backing band" on the first record - and they all agreed. So if it wasn't for those guys I probably wouldn't have done it. As well, if it wasn't for Ryan Bollis, who is very much into collecting things, I wouldn't have wanted to collect records again which was part of the reason why I did this band... to keep putting out records.

Curt's New Hat
I've never met or seen Curt Oren play, but remember seeing his story being shared around in 2015 by some friends who played with him, and thought it was such a ludicrous but amazing thing. For those who don't know, Curt seems to be a guy who wants to take a joke to the point of no return / point where it shouldn't go. He made a hat that said "Curt's New Hat" on it, and thought it was funny, so he made a shirt that said "Do You Know About Curt's New Hat". Then he changed his Facebook name to "New Hat". Then he got a custom license plate with the letters "NEW HAT". Then he spent nearly his life savings taking out a billboard off a highway in Iowa that said "Do You Know About Curt's New Hat". Hearing about it was so obscene, but amazing to me at the same time.

AT&T Internet Family Commercials
This is a weird one to be influential, but I'm going with it. AT&T has these TV commercials that are incredibly stupid where it's an "internet family" that loses internet coverage, then after 5 minutes they are pulling their hair out, then after 15 minutes they're losing their minds with boredom. I remember seeing it and thinking "what if these people were real, and they actually couldn't live without the internet". I then took that approach with the Eradicator in order to write an entire album based on that one 3 minute sketch, thinking "what if the Eradicator was a real person... how would he live... what's his story?". So oddly enough that commercial is influential to me.

Green Day
If you're in your early/mid 30s and are still into upbeat/pop punk, and you don't think Green Day is influential, then you're probably lying to yourself. If it wasn't for Dookie I wouldn't have wanted to check out their back catalogue, which wouldn't have led me to Lookout Records, which wouldn't have led me to hearing of other similar bands in my area.

Andrew W.K. & The Darkness
This one is a tie. I remember both of these bands coming out at around the same time, and there was such a showmanship to both of these bands that is influential to me. Plus their song subject matter is light hearted which fits with the whole theme of what I'm doing with this project.

Nut Screamer
This is a noise project that my Milwaukee buddies turned me on to, and the concept is insane. It's a guy who recorded audio of himself riding roller coasters, then put it on a 7" and played shows. Ryan Bollis told me he overheard someone in a record store talking about Nut Screamer playing live, and apparently the set lasted 3 minutes and it was just this guy screaming over an audio sample of him riding a roller coaster, and the set ended with a pool of blood on the floor. So the concept of having just random nonsense being pressed on a record was influential for doing 10+ minutes of squash noise on the B side of the first record I did.

Dillinger Four
They're my favorite band of all time. No further comment.

Stream and download The Eradicators new self titled album here:

Like The Eradicator here:

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Album Review: Victory Lap by Propagandhi (by Omar Ramlugon)

I don’t think it’s out of turn for me to say that with the utmost respect, it’s about fucking time we had another Propagandhi record. As the pop dingbats collapse in on themselves with one meaningless platitude after another and a bloated, venal narcissist makes it his civic duty to sow outright chaos while his base of gong farmer chickenhawks rattle sabres, and every day answers the the question of “How much worse can it get?” with a Billy Mays-esque “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE”, it feels like now is a time as ripe as ever for an acerbic reality check.

And so it arrives, in the form of Victory Lap, Propagandhi’s fervently awaited follow up to 2012’s Failed States. Like many of their contemporaries over twenty years into their careers, Propagandhi’s perspective has undoubtedly been altered by the inexorable passage of time; singer/shit-hot guitarist Chris Hannah is now closer to 50 than 40, as are the majority of his fellow Canuck thrashers in the quartet, with the exception of new guitarist Sulynn Hago. As you’d expect, this has bled into their songwriting, as Hannah explains; “For most of the songs I wrote on this record I tried to go in with a different philosophy than I have in the past. Instead of labouring over every word and making everything perfectly fit some sort of end result, the rule was ‘First thing out of my mouth is the first thing that goes on the paper.’”[1]

It’s an approach that has worked; the gut-level, instinctual reaction sentiments of the lyrics hit just as hard as the diatribes of earlier albums, but with an added immediacy and ferocious abandon that seems a more fitting attack on the pinwheeling mayhem of common discourse. The band are sounding stronger than ever, the rhythm section of Todd Kowalski and Jord Samolesky tearing into their parts with sheer precision, while Hannah and Hago trade off of eachother just as well as the previous team of Hannah and David Guillas, who does appear on the record but it’s not made clear on which songs he is featured.

The opening and title track wastes no time, going straight for the throat of the #MAGA crowd over a gnarled, slithering power chord riff; “When the flames engulfed / The home of the brave / The stampede toward the border was in vain / Faces palmed, faces paled / As the wall they said would make them great could not be scaled.” ‘Comply/Resist’ flexes its muscles after a deceptively slow start with crushing palm muted chugging, while ‘Cop Just Out Of Frame’ opens up with powerful, melodic riffing as it namechecks Thích Quảng Đức’s act of self-immolation in protest of Buddhist persecution as it ends with a ringing sentiment on his sacrifice; “They say that Quang Duc's heart survived the flames unscarred / A righteous calling card, left upon the palace gates / For the invertebrates, their grip on power pried apart / By just one frail human being. No weapon, no war machine.”

By and large, Victory Lap is an even more uncompromising record that its predecessor, which itself was no picnic, however this weight and gravitas is as much down to Hannah’s incandescent lyrics as much as the pummelling musical accompaniment; ‘Letters To A Young Anus’, in spite of its tongue in cheek title, forcefully tells its young listener to “Be careful how much you reveal / […] The water is poison despite how hard we / Mark our little X to rearrange the deck / Damned if we don't, damned if we do”. In fact, it’s almost a relief when the earnest but upbeat ‘Failed Imagineer’ barrels along, its consolation of an old war veteran being a relative comfort amongst it all.

I hasten to add that in spite of the often sobering lyrical content, as a counterpoint Victory Lap also features some of the strongest melodies that Propagandhi have ever put together, as ‘Lower Order (A Good Laugh)’ and ‘Call Before You Dig’ ably demonstrate. Furthermore, the band sound re-energised and invigorated; whether this is because of Hago’s recruitment is anyone’s guess, but it’s quite telling that only two of the songs on the record cross the four minute mark. The final song, ‘Adventures in Zoochosis’, is one of the most outright beautiful songs in Propagandhi’s catalogue, opening with chiming arpegiatted guitars, before the menace weaves its way back in with sampled sickening banter from the 45th US President. The song is a tragic lament, an elegy to the generation to come, as Hannah seemingly accepts his eventual doom while in the same breath hoping for his sons to carry on; “You grab your little brother’s hand run like the wind / And if I’m not there, don’t look back, just go.”

Victory Lap is perhaps Propagandhi’s best album yet. It consistently fine tunes their thrash-metal/punk blend, while throwing in some of earlier records’ furious energy and melodicism to completely kick arse for the best part of forty minutes. It’s an album that gives voice to the primal internal screams of despair that many of us may be experiencing every time we look at the news, and arguably serves as a sharp call to arms to make sure we can’t let it get any worse. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

We’ve missed you, guys. Don’t make us wait five years for the next one.


Order Victory Lap here.

Like Propagandhi here:

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Album Review: Are You Ready? by Backfire Away

Yesterday we reviewed 69enfermos latest album and mentioned about wanting to look further at South American punk bands. Well, purely by coincidence today's review also features a South American band - Backfire Away from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In September this five piece pop punk/hardcore punk and released the EP Are You Ready?, here are my thoughts on it.

The EP begins with title track Are You Ready? Fast guitars and hard hitting drums are the order of the day here and are joined brilliantly by some angry, aggressive and passionate vocals. Are You Ready? is about spending time with your friends and family and finding a common cause to be passionate about. The chorus in particular really stood out to me on my first listen as the singer screams out "If You Don't Stand For Something, You Will Fall For Anything, Think About Your Friends And Your Family, Are You Ready To Do The Right Thing?" That's one of the choruses I can easily imagine a crowd of people screaming back at the band. The second song is named Evergreen. Evergreen is a lot softer in sound compared to the opening track. I'm reminded a bit of New Found Glory here with bit of the harder music combined with more poppy vocals. I like that Backfire Away aren't afraid to test out more than one genre of punk rock and I love how well they do them. Evergreen is about looking at yourself and trying to work past the bad times. Drowsy is a fantastic song. Starting out slowly the song is a builder. The beginning is quite slow and soft finding itself in the emo genre of music before things really kick off and we are treated to a frenzied pop punk assault. The range in vocals on Drowsy is fantastic, they do from soft emo, to fast pop punk before finishing with a primal hardcore scream. I like songs that make you feel like you've been on a journey and this is certainly one of those. Lastly is the song No Patience. No Patience is about airing your grievances with someone to try and safe the relationship. This is another song that builds and flows nicely. This time however it starts at a pace before moving into a slower more emotional section before and a big finale that includes a fantastic piece of guitar soloing.

Are You Ready? is an EP that leaves me wanting to hear much more from Backfire Away. Personally after yesterdays perhaps impulsive decision to look deeper into the world of South American punk rock I am now ready to fully commit to uncover the best that the continent has to offer. If, like me, you are just on the edges of listening to South American punk rock that Backfire Away are a great band to start this next chapter of musical discoveries.

Stream and download Are You Ready? here:

Like Backfire Away here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Album Review: A Place We Call Home by 69enfermos

Something that we don't feature enough of on CPRW is punk rock from South America. One of the longest running bands are melodic hardcore/skate punk band 69enfermos. 69enfermos formed all the way back in 1995 in Colombia before relocating to Brazil. In 2015 the band released their first full length sung in English named Beyond Orders. This year they released a brand new album named A Place To Call Home. Let's hear how our punk pals in Brazil do it.

Opening track The Lie starts out with a nice little bass line before we are treated with some hard and fast punk rock. No doubt about where the band's sound and influences come from, 90s skate punk! The Lie is about not trusting the government and believing that you are being lied to. The vocals are strong, adding a softer tinge to the music with the high pitched soar that compliments the relentless pounding background music. Attitude is a very positive track. It's about having a positive mental attitude despite all of the bad situations you might encounter in your life. I really like the no thrills approach to song writing that 69enfermos take - there's no showing off, the music is about being accessible and relatable and that's what I love about punk rock music. The third track on A Place To Call Home is titled Rejected. The harmonies on the track are an absolute treat to the ears. Gosh I love a good harmony. The bass and drums really stand out on this track - it rumbles, it pounds and it hits you right in the gut. Rejected is about feeling outcast from society and wanting more from your life.

The fourth track is also the album's title track, A Place To Call Home. This song is about being proud of where you are from despite its flaws. Given that 69enfermos picked this song for the album's title, it's obvious that this is a topic that the band are very proud to tackle. Following this is the song Be Smart Don't Play The Fool. This track has more of a softer pop edge than the four songs preceding it. This track is simply about looking after yourself and trying to make sensible decisions. It's seen as punk to make bad and reckless decisions but it can also mess you're life up so it's quite refreshing to hear a band play a song that encourages people to be smart and not to play the fool. If you like No Use For A Name then you'll probably adore this song. Not The Answer is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The lyric "Punk Is No 'Bout Making The Wrong Decisions, Punk's 'bout Being You" perfectly encapsulates everything that 69enfermos are trying to say on A Place To Call Home. I just get a feeling of enlightenment when listening to the song. A real feeling of "Yeah, that's right. It's so simple but it's right." If I were to ever put a smiley emoji on the end of a sentence in the blog this would be it. The seventh track is named One More Day. The guitars at the start are bursting with energy and get the song off to an excellent start. The song itself is actually fairly sombre, it looks at the ending of a relationship and trying to get it back even if it's just for one more day. This is another track that all NUFAN fans will lap up.

On My Own sees 69enfermos revert back to the positivity that has made this record so wonderful to listen to. It's about believing in yourself and working hard to prove any doubters wrong. As a generally pessimistic person, hearing all this positivity is just the best and I'm finding it all really rather moving. For You To Know is a short little song coming in at only twenty-three seconds long. It's a super sweet love song where the band's singer proclaims his love for his partner. You might say that the song is short but sweet. It does its job in making your heart do that fuzzy thing when you think about somebody that you love. The penultimate song on the album is We. I particularly enjoyed the buzzsaw-like guitars coupled with the melodic nature on the vocals during the verses of the track. The soft Bad Religion-esque "ooozin-ahs" were brilliant in their subtlety, adding another layer to the sound without being too domineering. Last up is the song In The Nineties. When I was reading the track titles before listening to the album and knowing that the band was from the 90s this was the song that I was most looking forward to hearing. Before listening I assumed that this track would be an ode to the legendary 90s skate punk era and I was correct. It's about using music as a tool for time travel and using the songs of a certain era to go back to a time in your life, in this instance to the 90s. 90s punk rock is arguably the greatest era of punk rock and listening to 69enfermos you can really hear the love that the band have for it. They lived it and they're still proudly living it.

A Place We Call Home is a superb record for anyone who needs some positivity in their lives or just loves 90s punk rock. 69enfermos prove that punk rock is superb all over the world, even in the places where you wouldn't necessarily expect to find it. I'll now be making sure to look further into South American punk rock to unearth some more great bands.

Stream and download A Place We Call Home here:

Like 69enfermos here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Future Classics: On The Impossible Past by The Menzingers (by Emma Prew)

When Colin first suggested the idea of writing about ‘future classic’ albums of punk rock there was one album that came to mind for me before anything else. Of course it was The Menzingers and their third album, released in 2012 on Epitaph Records, On The Impossible Past. I’m sure I’m not the only punk rock fan to deem this album a classic, it is arguably the band’s most loved, most played album.

It has taken me a little while to actually pluck up the courage to write about On The Impossible Past – the Future Classic idea came about back in July. Aside from The Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound, which I was told I wasn’t allowed to write about because it was too old (2008) to fit into the criteria, On The Impossible Past is my favourite album of all time. Again, aside from The ’59 Sound, it is my most played album – on vinyl, on CD in the car, on my computer (iTunes and Spotify), sometimes I just sing the songs to myself having not heard them at all – ‘I will fuck this up…’. I put it on whenever I don’t know what else to listen to and am always pleased with myself for making that decision. I absolutely love this album and I’m going to struggle to express exactly why I do. So, I’m going to revert to answering the questions Colin proposed in his Future Classics: Not Like This by Iron Chic post, at least to get me started.

The first question is ‘Does it grab me on the first listen?’. I was finishing up my third year of university when my CD copy of On The Impossible Past arrived in the post. I was already a big fan of their first two albums and expected that album number three would be more of the same. I was wrong. This was something else. It grabbed me because it wasn’t quite like A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology (at the time I thought OTIP couldn’t possibly beat their debut) and it wasn’t quite like Chamberlain Waits either. I don’t know why but I just connected with this one. The album became my soundtrack to finishing uni, to going back home, to getting a job, to moving out… I haven’t stopped listening to it on a regular basis for 5 years. And I’ve just answered the second question about coming back to the album time and time again as well.

Some of Colin’s other questions are ‘Do you take inspiration from the lyrics?’ and ‘Do you relate to them somehow?’. Well, I can’t relate to growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I can’t even relate to growing up in America. But that doesn’t mean that each and every song on On The Impossible Past doesn’t get me every time. There are definitely some lyrics that are sung louder and with more heart by a Menzingers live show crowd than others, such as the aforementioned ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it.’ from The Obituaries. The lines that open Good Things, and therefore the album in general, are another classic example – ‘I’ve been having a horrible time, Pulling myself together.’ Other notable and highly singalong-able lyrics from On The Impossible Past include: ‘Here’s to you, the same chords that I stole, From a song that I once heard’ (Burn After Writing), ‘So I'm marching up to your gates today, To throw my lonely soul away, ’Cause I don't need it, You can take it back’ (Gates), ‘Me and Casey, We used to get drunk before we did the dishes’ (Casey). There’s just something in lyrics about self-doubt, heartache and nostalgia that us punk kids can relate to.

I think that brings us nicely to ‘Does the album get the same reaction live as it does on record?’. And here’s where I get to throw in my ‘I saw On The Impossible Past played from start to finish at Fest 15 last year’ card. It was, well,words can’t describe how happy it made me but, before I go any further, I know you’re probably thinking ‘But they mostly play OTIP songs in their set lists anyway, what’s the big deal?’. While this is possibly a little bit true, they had never – and probably haven’t since – played Freedom Bridge, the album’s closing song, live before. So that was really quite special. It was also pretty amazing in general to hear each song flow into the next how it was designed to on the album but transferred into the live setting. The band know that On The Impossible Past is their most loved album and they probably also know that they will never be able to make another album that quite lives up to it – don’t get me wrong though, I love both Rented World and After The Party – and so those songs feature highly in any Menzingers live set, album show or otherwise. I’m excited just thinking about the times I’ve sung along at the top of my lungs to songs from On The Impossible Past live and I cannot wait to do so again.

It feels like I could start to wrap things up right about now, although I also feel like I could ramble on forever about how much I love this album without actually really saying why. So what I will say is there must be a reason why On The Impossible Past has a Metacritic score of 93 out of 100, why countless other Menzingers fans name it their favourite album by the band and why we sing along to these songs louder than all the rest. I love On The Impossible Past and I hope that I never stop coming back to it when I don’t know what else to listen to.

This Future Classic was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Top Tens: Dan from Myelin's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

I was going to choose artists, or even whole albums, that have influenced and motivated me but I've chosen specific songs that kind of represent both the artist and the record to me instead. I have strong associations with certain moments in my life with specific songs so I felt I could write about them in a little more detail. And if anyone isn't so familiar with any of them, the song I've mentioned is, I think, a pretty decent place to start.

Alkaline Trio / 97
I guess this was the first time me and my friends aligned fully on a record and set a tone for our shared listening for a long time afterwards and definitely shaped my early (and long term) songwriting. 97 is from a compilation of their EPs and singles and I guess was on some mixtape we listened to in the car. I don't know why but it really connected with all of us at the time but my absolute very first attempt at a real band with Josh (Apologies, I Have None) and our friend Si was somewhat centered around liking that record.

Boysetsfire / After The Eulogy
This whole record is amazing but the stuff at the more melodic end of the scale was always where I felt most comfortable. The opener grows on me when I re-listen now - pure energy and emotion. A transcendent moment when I saw them play it at a festival. Playing some shows with them a few years back was a pretty big moment for me and I failed completely at playing it cool around them.

Bloc Party / Halo
I'm a huge fan of Bloc Party. Their output has been hot and cold for me but I love that they've never taken the easy route and sat on that first record. Intimacy is a weird record with some of my favourite songs of theirs but Halo is a total rager and I'm constantly trying to rip it off.

Julien Baker / Sprained Ankle
It takes me a long time to love a record but I've been finding a lot of new music via the Audiotree Live youtube channel the last few years and this one stood out immediately. I've been hooked since. The opener and closer to this record are my favourites - she really makes you wait and be patient in her songs, to just listen and let it kind of wash over you. She's so young, yet her performances are so confident while being so open and vulnerable and I really don't know how she does it.

Rakim / Guess Who's Back
I didn't listen to stuff with guitars much in my teens, I mostly listened to songs from skate videos and compilation tapes my friend Matt used to make me and it all centered around East/West Coast rap and some UK rap he found. I probably still enjoy hip hop and rap more than anything else and I've been rewatching a lot of the skate videos recently, as they get captured and put on YouTube, and the soundtracks bring back some deep memories of skate trips in the early 00s and earlier. I listen to some Grime too and the really good UK artists evoke some of the best qualities of the mid 90s rappers I liked in a totally original way.

Against Me / I Still Love you Julie
Josh (Apologies, I Have None) used to make compilation tapes that we'd listen to in the car and this song really stood out. It sounded so emotional yet so chaotic and probably helped convince me that despite being shitty at playing our instruments, if the emotion and words were real then we should probably start working on a record. This song sounds so pure and beautifully naive, I can't describe it.

The Hollies / He Ain't Heavy
My Dad's brother committed suicide in his twenties and although he's never talked about it much I know this song holds a huge amount of weight for him and whenever we've listened to it together he goes quiet and I think I know what he's thinking about. The older I get the more weight it carries with me too. Lyrically, it's perfect. The kind of song I'm desperate to write.

The Fugees / Manifest
Lauryn Hill's verse in this is one of the hardest things I've ever heard and the tone and delivery is just impeccable. I don't think I've listened to any record as much as I have The Score and I still put it on all the time. It's the first place I go when I'm burned out on music, but Lauren Hill's parts of it always stood out the most and her Miseducation record is one that still grows on me even now.

Sam Russo / Storm
This is hands down one of my favourite records, but it's the final song that really hit me hard. I just think the whole thing is beautiful and I've had to stop listening to it for fear of burning out on it. I kind of save it for when I need it. I love the continued narrative through the whole record and the way this song closes the record is a little unsettling. It makes me want to loop it straight away. I've listened to this for hours at a time before, last thing at night when I can't sleep.

Rebecca Ferguson / Teach Me How To Be Loved
I didn't expect to love this record considering the X-Factor connection but I listen to this a lot. Her vocal control and tone is so captivating and she breezes through her words so effortlessly that it's really relaxing to listen to. The whole album feels old and classic and she claims to have written the lyrics and vocals really quickly which I think you can kind of hear. It's all really honest and unforced.

Stream and download Myelin's debut EP Reservoirs here:

Like Myelin here:

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Album Review: Our Lives In Cinema by Our Lives In Cinema

Our Lives In Cinema is one of the coolest band names I've heard in a while. They are a five piece pop punk/post-hardcore band from London who try to remain optimistic in a difficult time. On the 15th of September the band released a brand new three track self-titled EP on Deadly Foe Records.

The EP begins with the song Cut And Run. The thing that stood out to me most on my first listen of the track was the speed that the vocals are delivered. Even reading the lyrics along with the song I found it difficult to keep up, though admittedly that could just be my slow reading speed. I loved the tempo of the track though, energy just pours out of the song and keeps you listening keenly throughout. What else could you want from an opening track? The ending of the song features some excellent layered harmonies that I really want to see performed live. Cut And Run is about realising you are in a bad relationship and stepping away from it for your own good. Next up is I'm Drunk And None Of This Is Real. Don't let this put you off but this track actually reminded me a bit of My Chemical Romance, back before Kerrang made them the poster boys of emo/pop punk and they just became a terrible gimmicky band. Basically I'm talking about the first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. The musical charisma that garnered MCR (as the trendy emo kids nicknamed them) mainstream attention is on display on this Our Lives In Cinema track. If you absolutely hated MCR please don't let this description of I'm Drunk And None Of This Is Real put you off the song - this is a first class pop punk song that immediately grabs your attention and keeps you interested throughout the whole track. There seems to be a lot going on throughout the whole song, it is busy but at no point does it feel cluttered. Every time you listen to it you'll probably hear something new. Finally we have I've Got This. Beginning with some riffs that just make you want to dance before the fast paced vocals come back in. How it's possible to sing so fast always amazes me. If I even try and talk fast it doesn't make any sense. I enjoyed the differences in tempo and melody for the verses and choruses. It's a little thing that most people wouldn't normally pay attention to but I like the structure that the changes give to the song. I've Got This is about all the dramas that happen in somebody's life and trying to convince yourself and/or your loved one that you've got everything under control. The song kind of reminds me of The Offspring's The Kids Aren't Alright where they talk about the issues people around them have. Our Lives In Cinema take a similar approach and it just makes the song even more relatable. Great stuff.

This EP was a great surprise. When I was told it was a pop punk EP I was a little sceptical on it as a lot of the pop punk that is being released these days isn't that great. This EP is. Our Lives In Cinema have a fantastic sound. It's a maturer pop punk sound. The pop punk kids of today will love it and so will us late twenties, early thirties punk rockers who grew up in the initial breakthrough of pop punk in the 90s and early 2000s.

 Stream and download Our Lives In Cinema here:

Like Our Lives In Cinema here:

This review was written by Colin Clark

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Album Review: Light It Up by Hot Water Music (by Omar Ramlugon)

Five years is a long time to wait. Since this Gainesville quartet’s 2012 effort Exister, we’ve had a world turned upside down by various horrifying upheavals of one sort or another, with a general overall feeling of malaise and unrest, like things are slipping out of control. With this in mind, it perhaps served as no small comfort to hear that a new Hot Water Music record was on its way, as some small consolation against the noise. There’s something about their tough, rasping vocalising and grinding guitar attack that always lends an air of weather-beaten gravitas, helped in no small part by the charismatic guitar/vocal duo of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard.

And so it is with Light It Up – notably the first Hot Water Music album produced by the band since Fuel For the Hate Game. Sure, this is an album from men over the cusp of forty, and this isn’t the same band who gave us ‘220 Years’ or ‘Manual’. But that’s not a criticism; the advance of time might have slowed their attack a little, but the hooks and the songwriting are as dependably powerful as they’ve always been.

Opener ‘Complicated’ is, by the band’s own admission, reminiscent of Midnight Oil[1] with its ringing pedal toned riff cutting through the heady atmosphere in a similar manner to the Australian rocker’s classic song ‘Dreamworld’. This is somewhat fitting, given that Hot Water Music covered the song previously and did so with style, arguably rivalling the original. ‘Complicated’ is a sharp critique of the narcissistic modern age, and it’s thrilling to hear Ragan’s smoky howl tear strips off the vacuous decline of society; “We are only animals ravaging a fragile world away.” It’s a very strong start, so it’s a little unfortunate that the title track which shortly follows is a little disappointing, in spite of its barrelling Bad Religion-esque power chording, with an oddly delivered vocal line in the chorus that robs it of its power.

However, it’s a misstep that’s out of the way early; things shoot back up right after with the one-two punch of ‘Show Your Face’ and ‘Never Going Back’, the latter an outstanding, rabble-rousing affirmation of moving on and accepting life’s stresses; ‘Rabbit Key’ is grounded by another satisfyingly crunching riff from Wollard. But then around mid-way through, things suddenly and wonderfully jump back about sixteen years to 2001, because ‘Vultures’ sounds like a brutal and stunningly powerful from that record. Snarling single-note riffing grounds the verses while hardcore roars tear through the chorus; a middle eight gives you time before the chorus thunders back in to crush all in its wake. It is probably worth buying the album for this song alone.

The back half of the record is by and large dominated by Ragan, with slower numbers in the vein of ‘Drag My Body’ from Exister, and he’s playing to his strengths with his thunderous voice giving weight to the material in a way that a less mature band could not, while Wollard slips in two tuneful Husker Du-ish uptempo rockers in the form of ‘Overload’ and ‘Hold Out’, before the album winds up with a tender reflection on human resilience in the eye of adversity with ‘Take You Away’.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find out that this isn’t Hot Water Music’s best album. That honour goes to – in my book – 2003’s Caution. It isn’t perhaps the album that will convert new listeners to their cause. But it is without a doubt a worthy entry to their canon, as the band play to their strengths while mixing things up enough to stop it being a dull retread. They’re older, wiser, and still undeniably pissed off, but they’re not giving up yet. And neither should any of us. As Ragan howls in ‘Bury Your Idols’; “You're the only one that’ll mobilize your dream”.

Words to live by.


Like Hot Water Music here:

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Album Review: Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike by Rebuilder (by Emma Prew)

Rebuilder are a quintet from Boston (Massachusetts, USA not Lincolnshire, UK) and I recently stumbled upon them on Instagram, of all places! A self-proclaimed gnarly punk band, Rebuilder have one full length album, released in 2015, under their belts but it was their latest EP, released last month, that caught my attention. Just take a look at the wonderful artwork for Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike, underneath this paragraph, and you’ll see what I mean. Thankfully when I took to Bandcamp to have a listen, I found that the music was top notch too.

The first song on Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike is called Mile Or An Inch and it kicks off with a decent amount of distortion and fuzzy yet melodic guitar. We also get a first hint of the underlying keys that it turns out are a pretty vital part of the Rebuilder sound. At first glance, or I suppose upon first listen, Rebuilder are a straight up melodic, perhaps a little bit poppy, American punk rock band but the addition of keyboards and/or organ gives their sound a slightly different edge – and it’s one that I like a lot. This is a singalong punk rock anthem at its best about trying to better yourself and not giving up. ‘Don't go down without a fight, 'Cause it doesn't matter if you're missing by a mile or an inch kid, But at least you know you tried.’ Next up, flowing on nicely from the distorted ending of Mile Or An Inch, we have Anchoring. After a relatively mid tempo drum intro and opening verse, the song is transformed into an upbeat and in-your-face track. It somehow manages to feel a lot shorter than its three minutes in length, perhaps this is due to the succinct and direct lyrics. After the first verse and first chorus you’d sort of expect there to be another verse similar to the first but that’s not what we get here. Instead the chorus is extended and what I suppose you would call a bridge is repeated a couple of times – ‘Are we still anchoring? If I could I would erase this.’  – before we run through it all again. I’m loving how full of surprises this EP is turning out to be and this is only track two.

The keyboard is perhaps a little bit more prevalent at the start of third track, Get Up, and gives Rebuilder a more pop punk sound. At least until the palm-muted guitars and exchanging vocal lines of the first chorus kick in. This is probably the catchiest song of Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike so far with its simple singalong-able chorus of ‘Get up get up get up, No ones falling here, Get up get up get up, No ones falling here, Is what you told me.’ I wasn’t really sure what existing punk bands I’d compare Rebuilder to – they certainly don’t sound exactly like anyone that I can think of – but the vocals in the breakdown of Get Up kind of bring to mind Pup. That’s just the vocals mind you. Marking the middle of the EP, this song features a melancholic and ever so slightly eerie piano outro. The World Is An Asshole begins with a sweet head-nod-along-able guitar groove that instantly has me hooked and starting to think that this might be the best song so far. The guitars got me hooked at first but its the lyrics that had me well and truly invested. It is comforting and gratifying to hear someone sing about not always wanting other people around – ‘I'm not the type who wants people around, But I'd really like it if you stayed’. After a pretty hefty guitar solo, things seem to go a little bit acoustic, or at least toned down, for a heartfelt bridge ‘The last time I got out of bed, I should have slept in all day instead, I'm not safe out here’ This is a song that I imagine would be pretty life-affirming to sing along to at a Rebuilder live show.

The World Is An Asshole ends with an extended slower paced outro but the tempo picks up again as soon as fifth track, Nasty Habit, kicks off. We are pushed full pelt back into the melodic punk rock that I know many, if not all, CPRW readers love. I’ve refrained from mentioning any vocalist names in my review so far as I know that Rebuilder have two main vocalists, Sal and Craig – and I don’t really know which is which! It hasn’t been quite so obvious on previous tracks but Nasty Habit is a track that lets the both of them shine, exchanging vocal lines two or three at a time and then belting out the chorus together. ‘After all this you haven’t, Found the truth, That I’ve got a nasty habit, And I will disappoint you.’ As Nasty Habit is the shortest track on the EP, it’s not long before we find ourselves at the last song. Closing out Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike is Vivir & Morir, which means ‘to live and to die’ in Spanish (I Googled it, I don’t speak Spanish). I love it when the last song on an album or EP really sounds like it could only belong at the end as a sort of conclusion to that which came before it – and I feel like this the case here. Vivir & Morir is a song about never being able to get everything quite right no matter how many times you try and how frustrating that can feel – but after all, we’re only human. ‘I'll live and die, A thousand times, Before I ever get it right, I’m coming up short, Leaving so much more, To be desired every time.’ What an excellent end to an excellent EP.

If you’re lucky enough to be going to Fest this year, you can catch Rebuilder there. And if, like me, you are not then at least you can find Sounds From The Massachusetts Turnpike on Spotify and Bandcamp, as well as the rest of their back catalogue. I’ll be keeping an eye on Rebuilder (because I’ve liked them on Facebook – and you should too).

Oh and the lovely artwork was designed by Brian Butler.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 29 September 2017

CPRW Playlist: September 2017

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Dan, Emma, Omar, Pan, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to this September.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Top Tens: Top Ten Propagandhi Songs (by Omar Ramlugon)

Propagandhi began as a Canadian trio of irreverent punks who purveyed songs shot through with heavy doses of irony, melody, and sometimes just full on piss-taking. But as time wore on, and the line-up shifted around the two remaining members of the original threesome – singer/guitarist Chris Hannah and drummer Jordan Samolesky – their music began to shift and mutate in concurrence with the increasing technical proficiency of the band’s members. All of them are avowed metal/thrash fans, namechecking bands such as Venom, Voivod, Final Conflict and Sacrifice in interviews and on their t-shirts, so on reflection their increasing thrash metal leanings shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, but it’s often a point of contention among their fans; some argue that they peaked with 1996’s Less Talk, More Rock, others say their indulging in a love of metal has only strengthened their sound and that their early material pales in comparison.

Whatever the argument, the simple version is that they are one of the best bands in the world today, with their socio-political venom and uncompromising music serving as a fitting soundtrack to the terrifying turmoil of modern events. And with their new record, Victory Lap, due to be released on September 29, I figured now is as good a time as any to run down some of the brightest spots in a very consistent body of work, and provide a gateway into their music before the new record drops. Because, if the singles ‘Failed Imagineer’ and ‘Victory Lap’ show anything, it’s on track to be their best one yet.

1. Anti-Manifesto (from How To Clean Everything, 1994)

A fond favourite amongst Propagandhi fans on either side of the divide, the opening track of Propagandhi’s first album is arguably the best song on it, fusing fat powerchords, jaunty ska-influence upstrokes and even a brief moment of shred, knowingly lampshaded by Chris Hannah with his sung admission “By the way, I stole this riff.” Lyrically the song is a Dead Kennedys-esque takedown of faux punk rebellion, railing against supposed ideologies packaged, sanitised and sold on; “Dance and laugh and play / Ignore the message we convey / It seems we’re only here to entertain / A rebellion cut to fit / Well, I refuse to be a soundtrack to it / We entertain, we’re still knee deep in shit.” It’s sharp, funny, and even a little poignant.

2. And We Thought That Nation States Were A Bad Idea (from Less Talk, More Rock, 1994)

Perhaps the centrepiece of Less Talk, More Rock, this particular tune’s burst of energy on its intro sets the bar very high, and luckily this high standard is absolutely maintained throughout. Although still punk, ‘…Nation States’ edging towards hardcore only serves to suit its ferocious lyrical screed, with Hannah’s snotty delivery backed up by then-bassist John K. Sampson, now of the Weakerthans. The song takes corporate America to task, deriding the profiteering off of public funding; “Publicly subsidised, privately profitable / The anthem of the upper-tier puppeteer untouchable / Focus a moment, nod in approval / Bury our hands in the pockets of these neo-colonials.” Ringing guitars and growling bass carry things along in anthemic fashion, with a call and response lyric in the bridge of “They own us / Produce us / Consume us” bringing the song’s message to bear in uncompromising fashion.

3. Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An (from Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, 2000)

In the interest of full disclosure, this was the song that hooked me personally on Propagandhi. The song’s title, which is an East Timorese phrase meaning ‘Independence or Death’, was inspired by the band’s meeting with Bella Gahlos, a former rebel against and refugee from the brutal regime of Suharto. Her experiences are lyrically juxtaposed by Hannah against his own teenage life, and the contrast is both heartbreaking and staggering, with the Canadian’s stories of “Busting windows and getting busy behind the Sportsplex” laid into sharp relief against Gahlos’ forced “[…] Depo Proveran[1] family planning / Her own Pearl Harbour / And a holocaust spanning 25 years to life / A prison my country under-wrote in Paradise”. The song is a tragic ode to the brutality of a tyrannical regime, and yet as it draws to a close, there is a trace of optimism with the whisper of “The truth will set my people free”, as though the outcome is not foregone.

Musically it is also untouchable, with Hannah’s employing of a capo and employing melodic open chords rather than standard issue powerchords giving the song’s machinegun palm-muted main riff a real punch and sparkle that elevates the song to new heights, with Samolesky’s pin-sharp changes in pattern and tempo neatly counterpointed by at-the-time new bassist Todd Kowalski’s nimble fretwork. A personal favourite.

4. Back To The Motor League (from Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes)

Exploding out of the gate with a nose-bursting, intricate riff, as is often the case, this is perhaps the most withering put-down of the punk rock scene I have yet heard, as its message still resonates even today. Essentially an elegantly penned ‘fuck you’ to the commodification and denaturing of punk rock, its pointed use of metaphor and aphorisms only heighten the head-banging riot of the music, as Hannah fuses punk rock’s melodic bounce with metal’s brutal precision, decrying their contemporaries in no uncertain terms; “But what have we here? / 15 years later it still reeks of swill and Chickenshit Conformists / With their fists in the air / Like-father, like-son "rebels" bloated on Korn, Eminems and Bizkits / Lord, hear our prayer / Take back your Amy Grant mosh-crews and fair-weather politics / Blow-dry my hair and stick me on a ten-speed / Back to the Motor League”.

‘Back To The Motor League’ strikes a balance between hilarity and brutality to incredible effect, a trick that is very easy to overdo and slip into comedy rock. Well played, gents.

5. A Speculative Fiction (from Potemkin City Limits, 2005)

Potemkin City Limits was released while the Iraq War was in full swing, and it almost goes without saying that this fuelled the vast majority of the lyrical content contained within the record. Hannah, Samolesky and Kowalski were burning with ire at their close neighbours, taking the US’s foreign policy to task almost every chance they could. However it’s one of the more conceptual songs that opens the album, describing in concise but evocative terms an outbreak of war between Canada and the United States. Hannah brings his typical snark and bite to the subject, citing – of all things – augmented reality tracking in televised hockey as an initial casus belli; “Your stupid fucking laser-pucks were just the start!”

The song is grounded by a thundering Anthrax-meets-Sex Pistols riff, with moments of searing shred to cut through the din, and a bridge section that employs a thrillingly off-kilter rhythm to balance the pugnacious lyrics; “We don’t care if we’re destroyed / We’ll never capitulate / We’ll take the whole fucking world down / Down with us in flames / Just a speculative fiction / No cause for alarm.” One can only wonder how the band feels towards America’s 45th president; either way, this is a fucking epic way to open an album by any measure.

6. Iteration (from Potemkin City Limits)

There is relatively little footage of this particular song being played live, and for the life of me I have never understood why. It’s perhaps the best set of lyrics Chris Hannah has ever put to paper, a biting depiction of an ideal world in which war profiteers and chickenhawks actually pay for their crimes, in this case Donald Rumsfeld and his cronies. To put up only part of the lyrics is to do them a disservice, so I can only urge you to read them in their entirety, but a choice section to my eye comes from the fictional court’s derision of Rumsfeld & co.’s risible attempt at a defence; “He searches for the words / To stop this table in mid-turn, like “We are but old men, / We only did what we were told” / But the laughter from the gallery drowns out these vestiges / Of a profession’s oldest defence / The court will direct / The record to reflect / Compliments from the bench / You sir, are central casting’s crowning achievement.”

Musically the song barrels through its five-minute run time with a pace and breathless fury that makes it seem like three, with Hannah’s crunching metal-punk riffing stacked high over it all. The song twists and turns, changing direction almost in concurrence with the defendant’s squirming under the harsh light of a justified court, before finishing things off with some outstanding guitar fretboard pyrotechnics. On an extremely strong album, this one stands tall.

7. Supporting Caste (from Supporting Caste, 2009)

This record was arguably the point when Propagandhi started to lean more towards progressive thrash metal than punk, a move which to some was divisive while to others was a bold step in a thrilling new direction. Regardless, it’s pretty hard to refute that the title track of the Canuck’s 2009 LP is killer, with ferocious riffing - bolstered by the addition of second guitarist David ‘The Beave’ Guillas - juxtaposed against another taut set of lyrics, this time using the smartly observed metaphor of a disaster film in which we are all the victims to critique the world at large. The galloping guitars and peals of high string riffs give way to a lush, reverbed bridge, whereupon Hannah delivers a fatalistic lyric that is eminently quotable; “And so in these days / In this terminal phase / It’s all left to chance / A piece of advice / If you’re cast on thin ice / You may as well dance.”

8. Without Love (from Supporting Caste)

For all the mordant imagery and grim portents that abound over the length of Supporting Caste, it’s perhaps the song with the most basely human and emotional subject matter that hits the hardest; ‘Without Love’, believe it or not, hinges its heartbreaking confrontation of life’s transience and the passing of our loved ones on the death of Hannah’s cat. This simple emotional core, wrapped in barbed riffing and battering drum fills, lends a profound sadness to the song, and the emotion in Hannah’s voice is palpable as he sings; “Is breathing just the ticking of an unwinding / Clock counting down the time it takes / For you to comprehend the sheer magnitude of / Every single precious breath you’ve ever wasted? / […] As Cronie slipped away, I held her in my arms, reduced / To “Please don’t leave me. / What will I do?”

9. Unscripted Moment (from Failed States, 2012)

Opening with a jagged burst of power chords, ‘Unscripted Moment’ swiftly wrong-foots the listener with knotty, intricate clean guitar figures while the voice of Siegbert Frieberg[2], a holocaust survivor, tells of his missing father. The song strikes hard as it uses Frieberg’s tale to demonstrate the wickedness of humanity and Hannah’s terror of all he loves being stripped away by some such oncoming evil; “All the avarice and greed, and puny human hatreds / That dare to come between two human hearts. / I try not to live in fear, and I'm truly grateful / For every happy moment here / Upstairs I hear her voice, she’s softly singing / To him and I come undone. / Something wicked this way comes.” The band, meanwhile, unleashes one skullcrushing riff after another, only serving to heighten the nervous tension established as the lyrics unwind.

10. Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report) (from Failed States)

Neatly, this happens to be the ending song of Failed States, and it seems in usual Propagandhi tradition, they saved one of their best for last. Opening with a gorgeous, elegiac figure of chiming guitars and a brooding rhythm section, the song builds before exploding into distortion and fury – but Propagandhi break from the alt-metal dunderhead riffing yet again by instead choosing for the melody to ascend, somehow ending up with an opening chord progression that’s beautifully melodic and gut-punchingly powerful.

Lyrically this is one of the most abstract in the entire Propagandhi catalogue, seeming to be from the perspective of some kind of hallucination, which has the effect of the song being almost transcendental, albeit with moments of stark clarity amid it all; “We’re so frequently seduced / By such novel, exotic views / Our confirmation biases / Leverage everything we perceive.” The song careens from place to place, finishing up with a full on ripping shred solo and a somewhat heartening reminder that “This universe is love”, but delivered like a defiant battle cry before battering the listener with one last sally of palm muted chugs before winding into silence.

If you’ve never listened to Propagandhi, and enjoy punk, political music, or both, then I urge you to do so without delay. Chances are, when Victory Lap drops September 29th, this list will have to be completely rewritten, as we’ve never needed this quartet of questioning, disquieted Canadian agit-punks and their outright life-affirming musical calls to arms more than right now.

Like Propagandhi here:

This top ten was compiled by Omar Ramlugon.

[1] A reference to Depo-Provera, a birth control drug that was injected forcibly into the women of East Timor by Suharto’s soldiers who would frequently subject the women to rape and other atrocities.