Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Album Review: Everything But The Here And Now by Happy Accidents (by Emma Prew)

London-based indie pop punk trio Happy Accidents are back with their follow up to 2016’s debut album, You Might Be Right. Due to be released on 16th February on Alcopop! records, I’m sure that Everything But The Here And Now is going to take the band to the next level. We got sent a copy of the album early to review and I jumped at the chance to be the one to do it.

The opening track of Everything But The Here And Now is called Nunhead and it opens with some lovely jangly guitar. But it’s not just guitars that I can hear – are those keys of some description in the background as well? That’s certainly something new that Happy Accidents didn’t have on their first album! The opening lines of the song, with their themes of cemeteries, sets a fairly sombre tone – ‘When you say meet me by the cemetery, I think ‘great’ because some cliches are necessary.’ The song progresses slowly with the drums not kicking in until more than half way through the song. Phoebe’s softer vocals join Rich for some harmonies as the volume increases and everything seems fuller for last 30 seconds, before it all fades out into the next song.

The next two tracks were released at the end of November to serve as a significant sneak peak of what was to come from the band’s second album. I was immediately hooked on the first of the two, which is the second song on Everything But The Here And Now, Wait It Out. This is an upbeat head-nodder of a track that is quite simply pure Happy Accidents. The song is about how you can sometimes find yourself daydreaming or looking ahead rather than focussing on today. The chorus of Wait It Out nods nicely towards the album title – I love it when an album’s title is a lyric in a song rather than simply the same as a track title – ‘All I seem to be thinking about is everything but the here and now, Losing sight of the sights and sounds and everything that I care about.’ There are also some more synthy keys that give the end of the song an even bigger sound. Great stuff. A Better Plan is the other song that I’d heard ahead of listening to the album as a whole and this track is quite different from the previous one, not least because it sees Phoebe take over from Rich on lead vocal duties. The song has quite a straight up punk rock intro with pounding drums and a pretty funky bassline that immediately grabs your attention. Phoebe did backing vocals or individual verses on the band’s previous releases but hadn’t taken quite such a leading role before this album. I have no idea why as she has a lovely voice! It reminds me a bit of fellow Londoners Colour Me Wednesday, especially with the dream pop-like chorus – ‘And I don’t know who you think I am, But I’m not sure you understand.’ That said, A Better Plan still sounds distinctly like Happy Accidents.

The fourth song, Float, is a super short one at a mere 46 seconds in length. It continues the dream-like sound that I noticed hints of in A Better Plan. With Phoebe singing just a few lines accompanied by mellow background music, the song quite literally floats along. This song definitely feels like an interlude although at only number four on the tracklist it does seem a bit early. Diving straight in with drums, a bold bassline and a melodic and catchy guitar riff before too long, Act Naturally ticks all the right boxes with me for a great song. Rich is back on vocal duties for this song with softer backing vocals from Phoebe. This is a song about how trying to be yourself and ‘acting naturally’ can sometimes be easier said than done. One of the lyrics that particularly stood out to me was ‘Actively acting positive.’ There’s also a really great bass solo from Neil at 2 and a half minutes-ish which sounds contrastingly darker than the rest of the song. Definitely one of my favourites of Everything But The Here And Now.

Happy Accidents have made my job of talking about what each song is about quite easy by naming their songs logically although it doesn’t make for such an inventive review perhaps… The sixth song is called Free Time and it is, surprise surprise, about never having enough free time. It’s probably about more than just that but at least they don’t unnecessarily over complicated things. The song opens with ‘I need more free time’ repeated by Phoebe before Rich sings the opening verse. There is plenty of swapping of vocals throughout the song which actually reflects well on a particular lyric – ‘I need cause to see, It’s about more than me.’ Around the middle point, Free Time takes a bit of a negative turn. There is a slower pace with the instruments taking a backseat to allow focus on Rich’s words. ‘This is who I am.’ ‘Will there be an end.’ However, it feels like Phoebe brings a bit of light back with her soothing vocals that bring the track to an end. Up next we have a song called Different Views. This song begins with some great indie-sounding guitars and ahh-ahhs, before a classic Happy Accidents mid-tempo verse starts up. This is a Phoebe-led song about making your own choices and trying to be friends with someone whose views you don’t agree with but finding that it can be difficult. The volume is cranked up a notch for the chorus with some stop-start guitars in between vocal lines. ‘Think about it, Think again, I’d like to like you, Can we really still be friends, With such different views.’ This time Rich adds some subtle backing vocals which is a nice twist on the Phoebe backing vocals and harmonies of earlier Happy Accidents tracks. 

As we edge closer towards the end of the album I feel like it’s time I properly acknowledged how great bassist Neil is on Everything But The Here And Now. Obviously I’ve talked about Rich and Phoebe quite a bit as they are singing the songs but I really love the bass parts on this album. Eighth track Unwind is a prime example of this. Rich’s vocals start the song but it is the bass guitar, over the drums, that stands out behind this. It really drives the song in my opinion. Lyrically this song is about sometimes feeling the need to hide what you’re really thinking or feeling but knowing at some point, with some person, you will be able to share ‘What is really on my mind.’ – ‘When we get back we’ll unwind, Share what’s really on our minds.’ There’s also some more of those dual vocals that they do so well. The next song, Text Me When You’re Home, starts up with some melodic keys before heavier guitars also join the mix. And now I get how/why Happy Accidents performed a Killers cover set before Christmas – it makes perfect sense. This is a song that I, as a female, can completely relate to. I have it in my head that I should never walk home (or anywhere but to and from my car) on my own in the dark/at night. Yet I think it is fine for a man to do so. Why is that? And why have I never considered that maybe it shouldn’t be this way? It definitely made me stop and think. Text Me When You’re Home is a super slow paced song but that simply allows the listener to fully take in all of the words. The heavier guitars and bass return for the outro which also features plenty of reverb.

Maybe Tomorrow feels more stripped back than any of the previous tracks on Everything But The Here And Now – I could imagine this song being acoustic or accompanied by only piano. That would be really cool actually, can you arrange that for me please Happy Accidents? This is sort of a relatively pessimistic song that is trying to turn the tables and be optimistic instead. The idea being that maybe things will be better tomorrow, maybe we can do [insert whatever you want to do here] tomorrow. The keys make an appearance in the bridge, but it sounds more like piano than synth – and totally fits my acoustic/piano-led vision. A distorted guitar ending leads us into the last song of the album which is titled Sink. More of those lovely jangly guitars that we heard at the beginning of the album can be heard here, accompanied by subtle Ahh, ahh, ahhs. This is a slow paced and ethereal song that deals with a pretty tricky subject matter. Sink is about having a friend who is struggling, being a listener, wanting but not forcing them to get better and most of all wanting to show how much people care about them. The line that particularly stood out to me is ‘There’s no need to apologise for talking this way, Oh I just hope that you will be okay.’ The guitars get slower and slower as the ahh-ahhs fade out to mark the end of the album.

I really liked Happy Accidents’ debut album, You Might Be Right, but I think I was right in my initial presumption that they have taken things to the next level with album number two. Everything But The Here And Now is a great collection of indie pop punk tracks and actually has quite a bit more variety than I was expecting. That said, there is a clear progression from their previous material. It’s great to hear Phoebe taking more of the lead on vocals and songwriting for certain tracks but it’s also great how each musician has developed in their own right.

Check out Everything But The Here And Now when it is released on 16th February on Alcopop! Records and in the meantime, check out the video for Wait It Out and A Better Plan here.

You can also like Happy Accidents on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Album Review: This Is Rock Bottom by Hard Pipe Hitters

Hard Pipe Hitters are a five piece skacore band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Since forming in 2010 they have released two full length albums as well as a demo. Their latest album, This Is Rock Bottom, was released in November 2017. As a lover of skacore I was very keen to check this out.

The first song on This Is Rock Bottom is named Kelly Thomas Got A Bum Wrap. The track begins with an audio clip which talks about a gentleman named Kelly Thomas who was a victim of police brutality. The song then comes in properly with the Hard Pipe Hitters giving their strong views on the subject. Lead singer Kiel shouts out his lyrics with so much passion and venom it's difficult not to get caught up in the song. Up next is Ministry Of Truth. This short song looks at modern society and of the brainwashing that the powers that be partake in. Hard Pipe Hitters' bass player Paco really gets his chance to shine on the song with some nice breakdowns for him to show his stuff. Despite its relatively short time span, the song gets the message across well and seemingly has no wasted beat. The third song on the album is titled Life's A Joke (And So Am I), which again starts with an audio clip, that I feel like is from a film but there is no information to say which. Answers in the comments, please. Basically the person in the audio clip colourfully talks about not caring about anyone or himself. Once the songs starts properly we are treated to some fast paced hardcore filled with anger and plenty of opportunities to shout along.

No Long Goodbyes is a break up song. It's about that awkward situation you can get in whilst breaking up with someone, where you promise to be friends despite knowing it's not going to work out. Lyrically the song is superb, it's very hard hitting but so incredibly relatable. Hard Pipe Hitters sure are fans of the audio clip! No Long Goodbyes finishes with a clip from the Kevin Smith film Chasing Amy where Silent Bob speaks some wisdom. Best 2 Out Of 3 is a humorous song about your penis not working properly and wanting Viagra to prove yourself. The song adds some childish humour to an album that's been quite heavy so far. The sixth song on This Is Rock Bottom is named Definition Of Success. This track is much slower and it could almost be described as a bit of a math rock song, but with a whole lot of punk rock attitude. As interesting as the song sounds, I can't say I'm hugely into it. The stop-start nature made it difficult to really get into. Definition Of Success is about doing what you want to do with your life and ignoring the people who tell you to do things differently. Angers One Helluva Drug sees the band revert to the fast paced hardcore and finally some ska sneaks into the Hard Pipe Hitters sound. This is where I think the band are truly at their best musically. Kiel sings about being addicted to getting angry and finding himself pushing friends and family away.

2 Party System Blues is a political song where the Hard Pipe Hitters sing about their frustration at not liking either party that ran in the 2016 presidential election. Despite the punk rock anger that the song is packed with, there is a nice bluesy feel to the song as well. This gives the song a bit of a fresher sound and prevents This Is Rock Bottom from becoming stale. The ninth song Divine Blackmail attacks religious leaders who use celebrities to help promote their beliefs. Musically the song has quite a dark tone, reminding me slightly of 80s metal songs with Kiel's broken throat snarling vocal style helping Hard Pipe Hitters retain their unique sound. Morrissey's A F****** C*** is the title of the next song. What I immediately took from this song is that Hard Pipe Hitters aren't fans of Morrissey. During the song they talk about him ripping off fans by cancelling shows, ripping off his bandmates, forcing his beliefs on others and generally not being a good guy. Please be warned, this is expletive heavy song so it's probably not one you want to listen to in front of your nan! Depsite the hatred of Morrissey the Hard Pipe Hitters do state that Johnny Marr is "not such a bad guy."

New Age Axis is another really angry political track. On this one the band sing about how many leaders have a very old fashioned view on the ever evolving world and how it seems as if more places are returning to being a dictatorship. I really enjoyed the song's ending with Kiel's voice showing even more anger and intensity than ever before, this really powers home his feelings. The penultimate song on This Is Rock Bottom is named My Anathema. The song begins with some almost cult like music before we move into the intro where Kiel screams out the opening lyrics in a way that quickly pulls you into the song. After a little googling I discovered that anathema means "a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine." On this track Hard Pipe Hitters sing about their anathema proudly, happily fighting back against the religious beliefs that might have been forced upon them. The album concludes with a bonus cover of The Dead Boys classic Sonic Reducer. Ending the album with a great sing-a-long moment.

So the tags on Bandcamp describe Hard Pipe Hitters as a ska and hardcore punk band. So in my head a skacore band. However, there is only one song that really has some ska elements to it. That did not stop my enjoyment of This Is Rock Bottom though. It's an album of 13 hard hitting but fun hardcore songs that are not to be ignored.

Stream and download This Is Rock Bottom here:

Like Hard Pipe Hitters here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Album Review: Essential Letdowns by The Essential Letdowns

The Essential Letdowns are a four piece punk rock band from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Comprising of Jacob on drums, Joey on vocals, Roan on guitar and Keaghan on bass, the band released a new self titled three track EP back in September of last year. In musical terms that's ages ago now but I was late to the party and enjoyed it enough to want to review it anyway.

The EP begins with the song You're A Letdown Too. The Essential Letdowns describe their sound as power thrash rock 'n' roll. On this song at least I'm reminded of early 2000s LA street punk band Madcap. It's rock & roll with some punk snarl and attitude. You're A Letdown Too immediately showcases the band's massive potential with a big shout-a-long anthem for anyone who has ever been called a letdown. It's a simple and catchy song that many people will relate to. My only gripe with it is the lack of gang vocals on the chorus, it's crying out for them. The second song She Got Me is another that suffers from a lack of gang vocals. It has a hugely infectious chorus that needs to have a group of people shouting along to it. The song is about love at first sight. When you first lay eyes on someone and immediately know she's the one for you. The third and final song on the EP is named Police Won't Leave Me Alone. The tempo on this song is increased and there is just such a big feel of anger and intensity to the track. Joey's vocals go like a machine gun at the beginning of the song and it's completed with some raw and primal screams that ensure that the EP finishes with a flurry.

The Essential Letdowns are clearly a band with a huge amount of promise and potential. All three of these songs caught my attention immediately. It's fun, shout-a-long punk rock from yet another new punk band coming out of Canada.

Stream and download Essential Letdowns here:

Like The Essential Letdowns here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Album Review: 12 Reasons For Self-Medication by Braincoats

When you think about punk bands from Sweden I'd wager that the first that comes into your head is skate punk legends Millencolin. Probably rightfully so as, like I mentioned, they are legends. Recently I've discovered a band from the next generation of Swedish punk rock bands who seem destined for big things. The band I'm talking about is Braincoats, a four piece band from Uddevalla in the South West of Sweden. In December they released their second full length album 12 Reasons For Self-Medication.

12 Reasons For Self-Medication's opening song is titled These Hospital Walls. I always think that a small part of the job that the first song an album has is to introduce newer fans of the band to their sound. Braincoats do this well, sounding like a mix of Alkaline Trio and MXPX with a dash of Bad Religion. Three excellent bands so I know I'm immediately going to enjoy this record. These Hospital Walls is about having a revelation about your life after ending up in hospital for doing something dumb. Suicide City is one of the stand out songs on the album. The band pick up the tempo at the beginning of the song and it just makes you think that a huge, anthemic song is about to start. That's exactly what happens. The song has many highlights but what really stands out to me is the bridge that leads up to the chorus. It's one of those fantastic cathartic moments that will make you feel better when you're singing along with the band. The guitar solo on Suicide City is also superb. The third song is titled The Best I Never Had. Picking up the tempo yet again, Braincoats power through a punchy song about being hopelessly in love with somebody who isn't interested in you. The melody and the vocal delivery grabbed my attention on my first listen of the song, feeling like some classic 90s skate punk. There are also some wonderful "whoa-ohs" towards the end of song that are beautifully atmospheric.

Dead At 21 is a really striking song title that really stands out when you first read the tracklisting on 12 Reasons For Self-Medication. It's about being at the point of committing suicide. Serious stuff. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the melody of the song makes the song sound quite upbeat almost to the point of a joyous celebration. I love this about the song. Suicide is something that needs to talked about - so the more that people talk about it, the more can be done to prevent it. Up next is the fifth song Blacked Out. Blacked Out is a song about having a problem with drinking too much alcohol and drinking to the point where you pass out. Braincoat show off a slightly different side of their musical abilities in the song, at times venturing into emo territory whilst still retaining the same upbeat nature that is becoming a trademark of the album. I Hate Everything brings us crashing into the halfway point of the album with a relentless minute and a half punk rock banger. As you've probably guessed from the song's title, it's about not liking many things and wanting to escape from the world. Despite the angry nature of the song, it again feels like a celebration with the song's delivery. Braincoats are a band who somehow manage to put many a positive spin on everything.

The seventh song on the album is named Gasoline. Gasoline is a mid-tempo punk song that doesn't really have the same upbeat feeling as much of the first half of 12 Reasons For Self-Medication. Vocally I'm really reminded of Mike Hererra of MXPX on this song, which is cool because he is one of my favourite vocalists in the game. I also quite liked the build towards the song's final chorus. I Need A Doctor is a fun pop punk song. It starts very quickly with guitars building up to a melodically delivered vocal introduction. The song really comes into its own at the chorus (naturally, it's a pop punk song). It's about realising you're not well and seeking help. The delivery of the chorus is so upbeat that it again feels like a moment of catharsis when you're singing and dancing along. Rooftops goes along a slightly different route musically with its more Americana-ish style of punk. I'm impressed that Braincoats managed to have a change of musical style and still sound like Braincoats. I feel like this is a sign of a band that are completely comfortable in their own skins and aren't afraid to try different things.

Animals is a melodic punk song. It's interesting in that it reminds of the gruff punk orgcore style of the likes of Hot Water Music or Red City Radio but also manages to keep its skate punk stylings. How Braincoats have managed that I have no idea but I dig it. There's a maturity to the sound of the song that will resonate with many fans, not every song needs to be up and down, some can just go along at a steady pace and still be awesome. The penultimate song on 12 Reasons For Self-Medication is named Hank. This song follows a similar line to the melodic punk of Animals. It's incredibly anthemic with many many "whoa-ohs" included in the track. It's about getting over a bad break up and realising you need to cut someone out of your life completely. The tone of the lead singer of Braincoats' voice is noticeably different, singing at a deeper octave. This again adds to the mature sound on the song as well as showing of his abilities as a singer. The final song on the album is named Blondie. Blondie has a great guitar build-up to get it started before we really begin a plodding and understated track about a long lost love and wondering where they might be. I enjoyed the slower pacing of the song, again showing another side of the Braincoat dice. Blondie is probably the song that's more accessible to the more casual music fan who doesn't necessarily love punk rock as much as the rest of us.

The problem with reviewing stuff in January that was released the year before is that it makes you start to rethink those end of year lists you spent hours on getting right. If I'd had heard 12 Reasons For Self-Medication earlier then there's a good chance it would have pushed hard to get a place in my top ten. All twelve songs are well written and reasonably varied and contain many things that I love in my punk rock. Sweden does it again, producing another really great punk rock band.

Stream and download 12 Reasons For Self-Medication here:

Like Braincoats here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Gig Review: The Run Up & Quitters at The Exchange, Bristol 21/1/18

I've been to a lot of gigs over the years but I have never managed to get to one on my birthday. It was a bit of a bucket list thing for me to accomplish and finally the opportunity arrived. I'd known that my favourite French punks Quitters were planning a UK tour for January for a few months so had been keeping my eyes peeled for the official announcement. When it was finally announced, the first thing I noticed was that Bristol punks The Run Up would also be on the tour - which excited me greatly. Then I scanned the dates and two really stood out to me. First the London show was on Thursday 25th January at The Windmill in Brixton so I wouldn't need to book time off work for that one - bonus! Then I noticed the Bristol night of the tour at The Exchange fell on the night of my 32nd birthday, the 21st of January. Without putting too much thought into it Emma and I hastily sorted out time of work, booked trains and a hotel and eagerly awaited the day to arrive.

This would be our first time visiting The Exchange in Bristol having only previously visited The Fleece on our punk rock trips. Before it was time for the gig we popped into the Exchange which by days is a coffee shop downstairs and the excellent Specialist Subject record store is based upstairs. £70 later we came out with some great purchases and prepared for the gig in the evening. Returning to the venue, we found that the gig would actually be taking place in the café section of the Exchange so would be super intimate. After a quick chat with Daniel and Charlie from The Run Up (two really nice guys) we claimed a spot and got ready for the first band of the evening.

That first band were five piece pop punk band These Five Years from Cardiff who were actually playing their very first show outside of Wales. I'm the first to admit I'm always a bit apprehensive when it comes to new pop punk music, as I'm not massively keen on it, but These Five Years won me around very quickly with an energetic and charming display. The band have just released a brand new EP titled How It's Been and played some songs off that along with some others - all of which sounded great. These guys could be the next big UK Pop Punk band. Check them out.

Next up were the brilliantly named Bristolian three piece TIE Fighter Pilot. I instantly loved this band. Playing a concoction of melodic, skate, gruff and indie pop punk, they're a band that are very hard to pigeon hole. They are also a band that play with a lot of energy and have big smiles on their faces between tracks. The set flies by as I enjoy each track more and more until they come to their final song, Bang On.  This is a nice little ditty about growing up and wanting to be in a band. Something I really enjoy about going to shows in different towns is the different array of local talent you stumble upon and I'm so pleased I got to see a great band in TIE Fighter Pilot. I'm not sure if they've found their way to London yet but I can only imagine they will make some more fans when they get there or wherever else they end up playing.

The third band of the night were Quitters. The Montpellier based indie punk band were playing only their second ever show in the UK. Their album Good Night Memories was one of my favourites of 2017 so I was really looking forward to seeing the four piece live. Starting out with the introduction from Good Night Memories, it was immediately clear what a talented bunch of musicians the four gentlemen in Quitters are. Then they launched into the actual songs and I was just blown away from start to finish. Unfortunately there was a bit of a problem with the volume of the vocals but, it's a punk show after all, it's not supposed to sound perfect. This didn't stop my enjoyment of Quitters one bit and neither did it of anyone else in the Exchange. At one point the gentlemen stood next to me pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and began to jam - he was enjoying himself so much. That's not something you see at every gig. The two biggest highlights of the set for me were The Brighter Shades Of Time and Why Should We Burn Our Lives? but in truth everything was absolutely golden. What a great band Quitters are.

Finally we had hometown heroes The Run Up. We last saw The Run Up last summer at The Unicorn in Camden at what was one of our favourite gigs of the year so we were looking forward to seeing the five piece again, on their home soil no less. The band had a new face with them this time, as regular guitarist Nick was unable to make the show, so a chap by the name of Dave stood in for him and did a sterling job. This was also our first time seeing The Run Up since they released their excellent self titled album so I was quite looking forward to hearing those songs played live. As much as I enjoyed them on record, live they took on a whole new life. Songs like WKND and Learning Loss are made for a live setting with their big shout-along choruses. The Run Up are one of the best bands in the UK in my opinion and are just getting better and better. Front man Larry is a man that's hard to take your eyes from, strolling around the front of the stage (there wasn't a stage at the Exchange but you know what I mean) with a casual coolness that I couldn't help but enjoy. Charlie (guitar & backing vocals), Dan (bass), Dave (guitar) and Harry (drums) all proceeded to rock out behind him to create an awesome visual. The Run Up are an awesome band who should continue to grow a bigger and bigger following. They also dedicated their final song to me which was a lovely.

This birthday gig, which was also our first gig in over a month and first of the year, was superb. I love going to these small DIY gigs, you're always guaranteed such a good night of punk rock. For me this night was all about Quitters and The Run Up and both bands delivered and then some! We were very much looking forward to seeing them again in London in a few days time. (At time of posting this review it was yesterday and it was again great!).

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

CPRW Playlist: January 2018

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

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Top Tens: Tone from The Burnt Tapes' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Iron Chic
No other band has come close to the emotional impact that Jason and co has had on me. If there was a voice speaking on my behalf for how I feel transitioning from my late 20s to early 30s, Iron Chic took every word out of my mouth. Flawless live, perfect records and a mastery of expression I’d be lucky to come even within a mile of. I don’t fist the air front stage very often, but Iron Chic never fails to get me acting the fool. Also Lubrano totally did artwork for us; now if only he would fucking give us a god damn support slot.

Polar Bear Club
When talking razor sharp vocals and intricacy of music arrangement, PBC delivers gold. Jimmy destroys the room with his soundwaves. It saddens me to be reminded of the apparently permanent damage that his vocals have sustained, and the now 3rd year of inactivity from one of my all-time favourite punk bands. But their legacy continues to ensure that I keep looking for unusual hooks and melodies when writing (poorly) new songs. Fun fact, I have two tattoos and one of them is PBC related. I don’t give away my body real estate for nothing you know.

Anti Flag
My high school years were full of 90s Fat Wreck and Epitaph bands. But one that had a major impact on how I viewed punk was Anti Flag. Maybe it didn’t make me an activist, but it sure as hell taught me to question everything in society and politics. Having already chosen bass as my tool, Anti Flag became a bit of a blue print for my take on rhythm in the early days too. Their latest return into the spotlight shows they haven’t slowed down on their activism one bit.

I can’t stress enough how much Nirvana changed my life. Before listening to Bleach I was just another sucker at Virgin Megastores buying whatever passed in those days for music. I was late to the party as Kurt already succumbed to the horrors of depression and suicide. But that didn’t stop me from absorbing every single track they ever made. Enough has been said about the band’s brilliance, their awareness of social issues and ridicule of the rock star culture but, I'll say it again, they changed the music game when it was being suffocated by out of touch labels. On a personal level Kurt was everything I wanted to be as a performer. The charisma, sincerity and that unique weirdness was so magnetic. It actually made me read a biography about Kurt, and I didn’t read much those days.

One of the latest bands that have had a major impact on me is Philadelphia’s own Timeshares. Criminally underrated, with nowhere near the support and exposure they deserve. They hold the prestigious title of being my Danking anthem. When I chill and spark, I get Bearable going. The music is bliss and I would kill to come up with a record as solid as that. Their melodies have been creeping into my band’s music and we are a step away from being copy cats. Also their attitude as a band behind the scene is immaculate. Everybody wants to be like MIKE (Lowery).

Limp Bizkit
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that LB were one of the icons of my generation (X). Despite being caught up in the bullshit years of MTV’s decline as a credible music channel, they avoided becoming a reality TV show (remember the whole Britney Spears thing?). The whole I don’t give a fuck attitude rubbed off on me as I grew up and fortified my self-esteem. Though my version is probably more chilled and friendly, I still will give you a fat lip if you give me unwarranted shit.

Growing up in early 90s Russia was no day in Gorky Park. Prior to the fall of communism, choice of music consisted of national artists and carefully selected apolitical foreign acts. In other words, boring as Borsht without sour cream. But once the flood gates of western cultural enrichment were open, Russia and its youth would never be the same. I might have been only 10 when I first heard Prodigy but a switch was hit for a life time. Maybe you wouldn’t call them punk, but to Russian kids this was as anti-establishment as it got. If you ever seen me dance, it’s pretty safe to say it all started with Prodigy. And yeah I do own the dance floor, BRING IT!

George Michael
I know, I know, what the hell does this have to do with Punk? But Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou is the rebel I idolised as a kid. His evolution as an artist and person fascinated me. He stood up to a major label when his creativity was stifled. He instilled sexual freedom in the minds of millions of fans. Self-determination and rejection of norms were the legacy I took away for the rest of my life. My karaoke selection always has at least 5 George Michael songs that I butcher.

Early works by Beck were pretty punk. “Loser” kicked off my path to self-deprecation, cynicism, apathy and nihilism. Luckily I managed to extract only the positives from those attributes. Mellow Gold was one giant plunge into a simulation of depression. As a brooding teenager it got me through the bullshit of puberty and growing up. Later years of Beck were far more funky, fun and experimental, coincidently reflecting the happier and more positive periods of my life. But I’d choose the darkness every time. Also Beck is the only vocalist whose range fits me perfectly, meaning I can enjoy singing his songs without breaking a sweat. That is if I can remember the random lyrics he always produced.

Again sorry, not really punk, BUT this is my all time favourite band. And I religiously make a point of spreading the word of this French duo. With a dominating catalogue of hard rock and fast punk, I always slow things down with Air’s musical genius. Air inspires me to think outside the box when trying to create a sound. Creativity titans and master musicians are insults when describing them. Electro Lounge Synth Romantics is the closest I can come to labelling their sound, but do yourself a favour, listen to Pocket Symphony and Moon Safari, then judge for yourself. One thing for sure is that their music reaches me on a spiritual level, especially after a hit of Ket.

Tone plays bass in The Burnt Tapes. Like them here:

Listen to their music here:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Album Review: Exist by The Prozacs

I love a bit of Ramonescore pop punk music. I'm forever searching through the pop punk section on Bandcamp looking for a hidden gem so when Jay from long running Massachusetts band The Prozacs sent me a message I was excited. The four piece were releasing their first full length album in nine years, and the fourth of their long running career, named Exist and containing twelve new songs that I'm hoping will be pop punk gems. Let's find out!

The first song on Exist is named Cortexiphan Trials. After a quick piece of research I discovered that Cortexiphan is a fictional drug used in the TV show Fringe that can give children of a young age supernatural abilities. So the song is a bit of fan fiction about that. It's a fast paced pop punk tune that begins with some whoa-ohs and powers ahead at a breakneck speed. The next song is titled What I'm Thinking. On my first listen I loved the vocal delivery on the track. Jay Prozac sings at a high-tempo and puts an exclamation point on the each line adding a fair amount of punch. The song is about dealing with the frustration of wanting to make a change in your life but being held back by someone. Travel The Universe begins with a softer and slower approach but soon picks up the pace. It has the most infectious melody that will have you bopping along without even realising you're doing it. When you're bopping along without knowing it that probably means you're having a good time listening to the song. That's what I want from my pop punk music. Travel The Universe is a love song where Jay sings about doing anything he can to get back to the one he loves.

The fourth song, Invisible, feels much darker musically than the opening three songs. I loved the simplicity in the lyrics of the song. It's extremely repetitive with the same lines being sung over and over again. This makes it accessible immediately so you can sing along from the start. Invisible is simply about not wanting to been seen or heard. Up next is the song Wormhole. This song is a science fiction love song, something that seems to pop up a lot in the world of pop punk. In the song Jay pleads to someone not to go back to their old ways and undo all of the work they've done. I loved the metaphorical use of wormholes as time machines here. Creative songwriting. On my first run through of Exist the sixth song, I Against Me, was the one that really stood out. This might just be in my head but the drums at the beginning of the song kind of reminded of Against Me! I Against Me is a song that is split into three distinct sections. It starts out slowly with the Against Me! drums. Then the pace noticeably picks up to more of a melodic sound and then we hit the red button and go into light speed for a while. The song kind of leaves you all over the place with the tempo switches but this keeps it sounding fresh.

The second half of the album starts with Sonic Diffuser. Starting this half of the album off at the same speed as the first finished it appears that The Prozacs will not let you pause for a breath. This is the first song on Exist that really allows Paul Basile's skill on the bass guitar shine through with a couple of nice little breakdowns. The track's ending is far and away the most intense section of the album some screams of "Sonic Diffuser" completing the song. So straight after I say it doesn't seem as if The Prozacs are going to slow down they chuck in this softer number named September. September is a nice little pop song where the band are joined by guest vocalist Andy Nihilate. As much as I was enjoying the in your face pop punk assault that was escaping from my speakers, I enjoyed this subtle and softer song. It shows that The Prozacs aren't one trick ponies and also have a softer side. The drums of Matty Prozac and the bass of Paul Basile are again allowed to shine for the introduction of Trusting Lies. They do most of the work on the song being accompanied by Jay's vocal with the guitars only really being prominent for a solo midway through the song. The gang vocals on Trusting Lies are the best on the whole album with big shouts of "You're A Liar, You A Liar" for the chorus. These gang vocals give the song such a big and wholesome sound that I thought was excellent.

Piece Of Me really focuses on Jay's vocals. They really do a fantastic job of carrying the melody of the song. The song is about losing your mind and feeling like you're "missing pieces of your brain." Of course, like with all the great pop punk songs, there are plenty of "whoa-oh" harmonies throughout the song that have me singing along gleefully. I think that Piece of Me is my favourite of the twelve songs on Exist. The penultimate song it titled Badman. Badman incorporates a bit of old school rock 'n' roll to go along with its pop punk stylings. Again the song is fair simplistic lyrically with repetitive lyrics that will quickly take up residence inside your mind. Obviously this song is about being a bad man. Jay repeatedly tells you over and over again that he is infact a bad man. Exist is completed by the song Olive with Andy Nihilate returning for guest vocals. Jay and Andy spend the song singing about the breakdown of a relationship. The trade off between the singers really adds a fantastic extra element to The Prozacs sound and I kind of wish they had utilised the female vocal a bit more throughout the album. This was a strong way to finish a great pop punk album.

If you're a fan of The Ramones, Screeching Weasel, The Mr T Experience, Teenage Bottlerocket, Masked Intruder or any of the other pop punk bands of this ilk, then I have no doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy The Prozacs. First check out Exist and then go back and check out their back catalogue which is full of brilliant pop punk.

Stream and download Exist here:

Like The Prozacs here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Album Review: Innocent Until Proven Filthy by Filthy Militia

Filthy Militia are a five piece ska punk band from North London. The band formed in 2016 and are influenced by bands such as The Clash, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Cliff and Gogol Bordello. On February 3rd they release their debut four song EP named Innocent Until Proven Filthy. I was lucky enough to get an early preview. Here's what I thought.

The opening song on the EP is named Up In Smoke. I immediately fell in love with the horn intro, it welcomes you into the EP brilliantly and in an instant I find myself wanting to have a good skank. The horns are a big feature throughout the song, it's nice to hear that. I've found that often ska bands tend to just use the horn section to supply fills rather than being allowed to take the lead on the song. There is also a big use of gang vocals on the song - my favourite thing. It just gives such a great feeling of inclusiveness that I enjoy in my punk rock music. Following on from Up In Smoke is the next song Storm Warning. Filthy Militia's gypsy punk influences come into play on this song. It starts out very ska orientated with the horns again welcoming you into the song along with some lovely ska guitar. Eventually things slow down and we soon find ourselves dancing to rambunctious gypsy punk. The melody on Storm Warning is great, it had me dancing in my seat whilst typing out the review.

The third song on Innocent Until Proven Filthy is titled Be Real. Be Real is a real gem of a song. It's slower paced than the previous two songs but doesn't lose any of that infectious bounce that has you dancing even if you don't want to. Musically it is oh so simple but that is where its brilliance lies. The song doesn't try and overextend itself and there lies its charm. The song is about trying your best to be yourself despite feeling like you are being pushed to the edge. The final song is named Little Sister. This is really a song of two parts. Starting out like more of a reggae song before gradually switching to a fast paced ska punk song for its finale. You will again be dancing from start to finish. Out of the four songs on the EP I think lead singer Ben's voice is at its best on Little Sister. It works really well with the reggae vibes that the song produces and the inclusion of gang vocals for the "whoa-oh" sections will work a treat in a live setting.

I often complain that I don't get sent enough ska to review so when this arrived in my inbox I was excited. It did not disappoint. The ska scene in the UK is undergoing a bit of a resurgence again at the moment and I think that Filthy Militia are among the best that I've heard. Check them out and expect to see them playing at the New Cross Inn soon.

Stream and download Innocent Until Proven Filthy here:

Like Filthy Militia here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Album Review: Long In Winters by Jake & The Jellyfish (by Emma Prew)

One of my favourite UK-based DIY folk punk bands, Jake & The Jellyfish, are back! It seems a long time since they released their last album, Dead Weight (2015), and we (Colin and I) haven’t seen the band live since Fest 15 in 2016. It turns out they were pottering away crafting a new album last year and the wait for new music is nearly over as Long In Winters is released on 26th January, by the Bristol-based label Invisible Llama Music.

As soon as I heard they had a new album coming, I begged Colin to let me be the one to review it and so when Iwan, from the label, dropped us an email with a stream of the album I was over the moon. The press release suggests that the album might be for fans of Hot Water Music, Latterman and The Menzingers. My first thought was that that doesn’t really sound like the Jake & The Jellyfish I know but it sounds like something I will like anyway. And it certainly made me all the more keen to hear what the band has in store for us on album no. three!

Kicking off the album with a blend of rhythmic acoustic guitar and pounding drums is a song titled Spokesdog. This is a loud and rowdy folk punk tune from the outset with a neat little 1, 2, 3, 4 count in before Jake’s distinct vocals make their first appearance. This certainly gets the album going in style. Spokesdog reflects on how we hear so much about how the world is a terrible place, everything is going down the drain, nothing is going to get better etcetera, etcetera, that we almost become desensitised to it – it’s hard to care anymore. I can definitely appreciate what Jake’s getting at. ‘I’ve been winding myself up anyway, You can tell that I’ve been overthinking anyway … The radio’s telling me it’s all gone wrong, The country’s fucked and the money’s all gone, It’s hard to care after a while.’  The second song on Long In Winters was released at the end of last year as the lead single from the album. The track is called Reading List and it is pure classic Jake & The Jellyfish that we know and love. Reading List begins with a slick bassline before the guitar adds another layer, with said guitar simply being melodic rather than the more in-your-face style of the opening song. There are some great whoa-ohs as soon as the first chorus comes in – which, by the way, is only after about 30 seconds. This song doesn’t hang around. The lyrics of the second verse are really great. ‘I swear looking at my phone makes me unhappy, I tried to read this book three times already, Every time you ring I think someone’s died, Phonecalls bring out my worst side.’ Reading List is about the age of procrastination, as well as often expecting the worst in life. It’s become almost normal to spend more time looking at your phone than with your head in a book, even if the latter would make you more happy. Plenty of food for thought there.

Graveyard is the third song of Long In Winters and it is the violin that stands out as the star of the show here. I was actually wondering if the band still had a violin player (having seen them without one a few times) so I’m pleased to know that they do! ‘We used to drink in the graveyard in town, We used to talk about the music we’d found…’ Graveyard is a fast paced and furious track that, rather than just whoa-ohs, has ahh-ahh-ohhs as well. I can’t do them justice in words – just listen to it as soon as you can. It makes the song sound huge anyway which is no bad thing. Jake has some fine lyricism throughout the song but the line that really stood out to me is the slightly oxymoronic ‘All this thinking can’t be good for your brain.’ Jake is a wise man. The fourth track kicks off with a fast bass part before louder – electric? – and more urgent guitars also join in. The Shakes is the first song that really shows this new Hot Water Music-influenced Jake & The Jellyfish. Like I said, I didn’t expect it from Jake & The Jellyfish but I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s so awesome. This is a heavy, headbang-inducing song about struggling with mental health problems and how those around you don’t always offer the best support. ‘You said I don’t help myself, Talking to you won’t help my mental health.’ Definitely relatable but also delivered in a powerful way.

The louder, faster and heavier Jake & The Jellyfish sound continues into Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peas – always nice to have a bit of humour in a song title. The song title is definitely the only place where humour is apparent with this song as it is deadly serious and fuelled by anger – in a totally good way. The anger is certainly justified as this song is an attack on mindless racists who don’t think about their actions, in particular, I imagine, Nigel Farage and UKIP. ‘It’s easy to be influential when you’re targeting the vulnerable.’ And the simple idea that you should think before you open your mouth. ‘Do you hear yourself? Do you hear yourself when you speak?’ There is an incredible amount of passion and energy that is perfect for the middle point of the album. Things calm down a little bit for the sixth song, Comics, which sees the return of the acoustic guitar… at least for the start of the song. This is a fairly straightforward and honest song which is apparent from the very first line. ‘I just want to sit and read comics…’ With so much going on in the world and in our own lives, sometimes you just want to sit and do something you love, forgetting about life’s stresses for a while – whether it be reading comics or writing folk songs. Comics has a lovely rolling motion thanks to its drumbeat, inducing a folk-country vibe. I think there’s also some accordion on this song?! I hope I’m not imagining anyway. ‘We’re all the same, In very different ways.’

Social Smoker is next up and it has a brilliant mix of pounding drums and acoustic guitar that’ll get your head nodding in no time. This is quite a classic sounding Jake & The Jellyfish song although it also reminds me of Ducking Punches, or Dan Allen solo acoustic anyway – they’d be great on tour together (again, if they’ve already toured together!). The way I interpreted the lyrics of Social Smoker is that some people are just instantly relaxed and at home when surrounded by others, like social smokers, while others find the relatively simple act of socialising more difficult. I am particularly socially awkward myself so, if that is indeed what this song is about, I can definitely relate. ‘You’re a social smoker, I’m a social waste of space.’ The highlight of this song has got to be the bridge section where Jake repeatedly sings ‘I don’t know what you want from me.’  it’s just asking for a big singalong really. The penultimate song of Long In Winters is No One Remembers Song Titles Anyway. Firstly, I’d like to point out that I am personally notoriously bad at remembering song titles, so they’re not wrong there! Regardless of the song’s name, this is a beautiful acoustic guitar and violin led track which sets a sombre and thoughtful tone.‘My TV is lying to me, About things that make you happy, Drink coke to quench your thirst, Take pills to stop the hurt.’  This is without a doubt a sad song as it is dedicated to lost loved one but it also feels like an appropriate celebration of that person. ‘This is my first Christmas without you…’ cue pounding drums, crashing guitars and a louder violin. The louder sound equals more intense emotions. You don’t have to be religious or traditional to miss someone when Christmas or family and friends gatherings happen and they are not there.

A few times when I’ve seen Jake & The Jellyfish live they have unplugged their instruments and come into the crowd to sing their final song. That song is usually the previous album’s closing track, Hypocrites, but I can definitely imagine it being replaced with this album’s closing track in future Jellyfish set lists. The closing track also happens to be the album’s title track, Long In Winters. If it was possible to sound more stripped back than the other acoustic-based songs on this album, this song has done it. It is simple but effective. Long In Winters talks of bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years and wanting to make more of an effort to stay in touch. Faces can change but underneath appearances people remain the same. Since the album title was first announced I’ve been puzzling over exactly what ‘long in winters’ might mean. Listening to the chorus, I think I sort of get it. ‘You say that I’m long in winters, But short in years, You say that I think too much, After all these years.’ The way I interpret it is being ‘long in winters but short in years’ means that you are perhaps wiser than your age might suggest but also maybe more troubled, as you overthink things. An apt end to an inspiring, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable album. Bravo Jake & The Jellyfish!

Long In Winters is out next Friday and you can catch Jake & The Jellyfish live at their album release shows in Leeds and Bristol – check the band’s Facebook page for details. Word is they’ll be embarking on a full UK and Europe tour later in the year as well if you, like me, don’t live near enough to Leeds or Bristol.

You can stream Reading List on Bandcamp ahead of the album’s full release and pre-order the album now from Invisible Llama’s shop.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Album Review: Rhombithian by Sincere Engineer (by Emma Prew)

Sincere Engineer is the name that Chicago native Deanna Belos goes by when she’s armed with an acoustic guitar and writing and playing songs. Last autumn (or fall if you’re American, like Sincere Engineer) she teamed up with a full band for her debut album, Rhombithian, which was released by Red Scare Industries. I must admit that the album completely passed me by when it was initially released until Colin mentioned that he thought I would like it – and when Colin says he thinks I’ll like something he’s usually correct.

Hitting play on the track number one, Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7, for the first time I exclaimed ‘Yeah, I like this!’ within seconds and decided to have a go at reviewing the album. The main thing that immediately strikes me is what an amazing and distinct voice Deanna has, whilst clearly not being overproduced. ‘What am I supposed to do now? When you’re still not around, When you’re all I think about.’ Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7 is fairly upbeat, super catchy and definitely serves as a fine album opener. The lyrics strike me as being completely down to earth and honest with themes covering falling asleep on the couch and not wanting to leave the house. The anxious themes continue into second song, Ceramic Tile. More than just an ode to a bathroom tile – I don’t think that’s a phrase I’ll ever use again – this is somewhat of an anthem for hangovers. If you’ve ever been drunk enough to feel it the next day then you may well have experienced lying on the aforementioned tiled floor. The song is a mid-tempo one with slightly strained vocals but not in a bad way. Overbite is next up on Rhombithian and this is probably one of my favourite tracks on the whole album. The song is about how Deanna was, or is even, smart enough to have been a dentist but she knew that it just wasn’t right for her. She could have tried harder but it was not what she wanted. Musically the song reminded me of Captain, We’re Sinking and I guess there are similarities with both artist’s emo influence. My favourite bit is definitely the faster paced and infectious chorus – which seems far more cheery than it actually is. ‘I don’t care about anything as much as I used to, I don’t care about anything as much as I used to.’ and also to the same tune ‘I still feel just about as dumb as I used to, I still feel just about as dumb as I used to.’ 

Kicking off with a slow melodic guitar opening and gentle background ooh-woahs, the fourth song Screw Up brings the tone down a notch more with the opening line ‘I’m gonna screw up again…’  This is a song about lacking in self-confidence and being sick of feeling stuck at a certain point in your life. It’s pretty brave, if you ask me, for Deanna to have put so much of herself into these songs and I greatly admire her for that. There is also a really great folky-punky fairly fast bridge section before all of her remaining emotion is put into the last chorus. ‘And they’ll all think I’m nuts but I don’t give a fuck, Just as long as they’ll let me come crawling back.’  The distorted ending of Screw Up cuts straight into Shattering, a carefree track with some more don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. A nice touch that I don’t think we’ve heard until now is that the guitar echoes the melody of that first verse – which is pretty darn catchy to boot. ‘I’m gonna jump in Lake Michigan and swim out as far as I can.’  It’s sure to get your head nodding. The vocals are that little bit more raw as Deanna verges on screaming in parts but she has such an incredible voice that it doesn’t sound too raw. (If that makes any sense!) Here’s Your Two Dollars is the next song and it is an interesting one because it seems very much like an aural representation of the image on the album cover. There are bad dreams, anxieties, ideas of sinking and drowning all thrown into the song. It is much slower paced than previous tracks with a steady drumbeat. The whole thing feels almost dreamlike, which really matches up with the lyrical content. However the chorus is more upbeat and the drums become more rumbling – ‘I’m waking up, I’m rising up to the surface, And goddamn I feel so nervous.’ Towards the end of the song everything starts to fades out – this signal the end of Side A on the record perhaps.

Track number 7 is called 1K Rats and it begins with an acoustic guitar which accompanies the first short verse. At first I wasn’t sure if the whole song would remain acoustic but soon enough drums kick in along with electric guitar and bring back the full band dynamic. As well as the full band sound we have the picturesque and wonderfully direct lyrics of ‘Now I’m throwing up in a parking lot.’ It feels like the vocals are kept a little more restrained for this song. It is still not exactly ‘sweet’ as Deanna packs plenty of punch with her vocal chords alone but the change from previous tracks is noticeable. Towards the end of the song we are treated to a neat short guitar solo that echoes chorus ‘All I wanna do is spend the day with you.’ Lovely! Candle Wax is next up and it doesn’t hang around – straight in there with the volume cranked up. The pounding drums keep your head nodding along while the guitar riff gets lodged in your head. Musically the track is reminiscent of Americana-style punk rock but the vocals remain angsty. This is a song about drinking, hangovers, being young, making mistakes and apologising for them, as well as realising afterwards that ‘I should have saw it coming.’ In punk rock style, this song features some rousing gang vocals.

It feels like perhaps Deanna has saved the more personal and confessional songs for last as Let You Down opens with the lines ‘How often do you think about dying?, Because it haunts me every time I sleep, So I’ll just stay awake and watch cable TV.’ This is a slow, heart-wrenching and emotion-fuelled track about quite simply not wanting to let someone down. The theme of bad dreams is also back adding to the concept of the album as a whole. I really loved the warm melodic guitar riff after the chorus. After an almost eerie noise that accompanies the penultimate song’s guitar intro, Keep You Company kicks off at a mid-tempo pace. This is quiet track about dealing with feeling lonely and insecure – ‘If you’re lonely, If you’re lonely, Let me keep you company.’ The word that springs to mind is ‘Emo’. These days people think emo is, or was in the early 2000s, bands that wore too much eyeliner and make an obvious point of being ‘sad’. but that’s not quite it really. Although this is a sad song, I feel like there’s an element of hopefulness in there as well. We end the album with a completely stripped back and acoustic track, Ghosts In The Graveyard. Obviously this album is my first experience of Sincere Engineer and Deanna Belos but I imagine this is what she sounded like before the full band. Luckily she sounds excellent, full band or not, and if there was going to be an acoustic track then it makes sense to be the album’s closer really. Ghosts In The Graveyards is about trying to figure out what’s going on in your own head when you have lots of thoughts ‘swimming around’ – ‘There’s plenty of fish in this graveyard, There’s plenty of ghosts in the sea.’ Deanna singing ‘And we keep running.’ with multiple voices in the background shouting ‘Nah, you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.’ back at her is a perfect ending to a brilliant debut album.

I didn’t know Sincere Engineer before this release, well not even then for a couple more months after its release, but I’ll be sure to check out whatever they do next because Rhombithian is excellent. Don’t just take my word for it, listen now!

You can stream three of the tracks and download the full album now on Bandcamp. You can also give Sincere Engineer on Facebook – because they deserve more than 1,600 likes!

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Top Tens: Sean from Coach Bombays' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Taco Bell
Definitely the most inclusive fast food restaurant, with plenty of options for the vegan in the band. Ensures that we can all talk about farts and diarrhea equally.

The Mighty Ducks
The biggest influence on our band. Taught us all that it's all about the team.

John Madden
Incredible broadcaster and namesake of a great video game series. It doesn't matter if the horse is blind, just load the wagon.

Ja Rule
Most bands' gruff vocals are probably influenced by Chuck Ragan or Tim Barry. Those folks got nothing on Ja Rule's gravelly tone.

Jud Jud
This one is controversial, some of the band can't appreciate the genius that was Jud Jud. They headlined bands like Minor Threat and Judge, legendary hxc.

Mountain Dew and Whiskey
The best mix drink of all time, made specifically to drink with whiskey.

The Casualties
Just kidding, fuck this band.

Sum 41
Amazing band. All Killer, No Filler remains timeless.

Apparently everyone in the world except us thinks we sound like Rancid. As long as it's pre-Indestructible that's ok.

Iron Chic
Maybe the band the four of us collectively like the best – and an actual influence on our band.

Stream and download Coach Bombay's music here:

Like Coach Bombay here:

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Album Review: The Sickness, The Shame by Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye Blue Monday are a band I am embarrassingly slow in getting into. The four piece from Edinburgh released their latest EP The Sickness, The Shame back in February last year on Make-That-A-Take Records and I've only just gotten around to checking it out. I'm almost a year too late on what is a fantastic EP that I loved immediately.

The three track EP begins with a song titled Fungus. A common theme in Goodbye Blue Monday's songs is the topic of mental health. On this opening song the band use fungus as a metaphor for your mental health issues spreading and getting worse. Musically they play melodic shout-a-long punk rock similar to that of Iron Chic and The Flatliners. I love this style of punk rock and Goodbye Blue Monday do it very well. The structure of the song and the melody hooks me in straight away and I quickly want to throw my fists up and scream along to the infectious chorus. Up next is Take Your Pills. What a song this is! Goodbye Blue Monday manage to take a topic of having to take pills to help with your mental health and turn it into a joyous occasion. I wish I had had this song when I was formerly on anti-depressants, it would have been my anthem. I used to absolutely hate having to take them but this song is great to help you realise that it is actually okay if you have to. Again it's a song that I want to shout my heart out to - Goodbye Blue Monday must be an incredible live act. The third and final song is the EP's title track The Sickness, The Shame. This song is just superb. Lyrically it's incredible, it's hugely relatable to anyone who has struggled with mental health issues. Seriously go and check out the lyrics to this song, there's every chance you'll read at least one and think "yeah that's me" or "that was me." Despite the sadness of the lyrics there is again an upbeat nature to the song, probably coming from the shout-a-long qualities pouring out of the song. This is one of those songs where you will get a great feeling of catharsis listening to it but especially from shouting it as loud as you can.

This three song EP is one of the best I've heard in long time. I wish I had given it a chance earlier as it would have placed really high on my end of year lists. It's got everything I want in my punk rock: it makes me smile, it's catchy enough for me to sing along to quickly, it has interesting melodies and it's about a relatable and really important subject that can never be spoken about enough. Goodbye Blue Monday seem to be a band that everyone needs to know about and soon will be the cream of not just the Scottish punk scene but the entire UK scene. I can't wait to catch them at Manchester Punk Festival in April. If you're going (why the hell wouldn't you be!?), make sure you do too!

Stream and download The Sickness, The Shame here:

Like Goodbye Blue Monday here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Album Review: Hits From The Void by All In Vain (by Emma Prew)

When I head to Bandcamp to find new music to listen to I usually make the ‘folk punk’ section my first port of call and that’s how I came across All In Vain, a folk punk band based in Liverpool. They put together an EP of five tracks at the beginning of November last year called Hits From The Void. Here’s what I thought of it…

The first track on Hits From The Void is Introspection/Threshold which opens with a slow yet ever so slightly haunting instrumental. I think it’s mostly the banjo that I can hear but there’s some mandolin, guitar, violin and drums in there as well. The eerie melodies, complete with subtle background ah-ahs, bring to mind scenes of a boat lost at sea or something similarly nautical. This is a lengthy track at 7 minutes long but, as you may have guessed form the song’s title, it is sort of split into two parts. After 4 and a half minutes, the music speeds up and we have some vocals. ‘If I were to succumb to our expectations, Would the split second before the fall be worth it all? How would it feel? I guess there's only one way to find out.’ It all feels very existential and mysterious but has me well and truly hooked and keen to hear the rest of the EP.

The second track, Regurgitate, has a faster pace from the outset and those banjo and violin melodies had me eagerly stomping my feet along. As enjoyable as it is just to nod along to the music – maybe even get up and have a bit of a dance in my living room – it’s the lyrics of the song that really hold the power. Regurgitate is about being brave enough to take a stand for what you believe in regardless of how much of an effect it might have. ‘If you speak out they'll make you pay, But some still speak out anyway, Just submitting would be a big mistake, Silently digging our own graves, We're burying ourselves alive.’ Keeping up the pace, Hymn Of The Free Market is a shorter song but that doesn’t stop vocalist Ash from packing plenty of lyrical content into this 2 and a bit minutes. Although the instruments come from more traditional folk music this track is as anarchic as the rowdiest punk band. Hymn Of The Free Market is an anti-consumerism anthem that labels consumerism itself as being like a religion. Worryingly truthful when you think about it. Despite the somewhat dark subject matter, this song has a pretty darn catchy chorus (which is pretty dark too) – ‘Every day is a sabbath day, they have ways to make you pray, Every day is a sabbath day, every day they dig more graves, Quotas to fill, demons to kill, Blood to spill, blood to spill.’

The violin is the star of the show for the opening of No Connection but once again it is the lyrics that really stand out throughout the rest of the song’s duration. In a modern pop music world of unintelligent and derogatory lyrics, we really ought to pay extra attention to songs like these. No Connection is about how we have become disconnected from the land on which we live and how our planet is being exploited for commercial gains. The verses are really rather fast paced but the chorus is much slower, mournful and all the more poignant because of this. ‘No connection, we are landless, History unspoken, history forgotten, No connection, this land was stolen, History unspoken, history forgotten.’ Bringing Hits From The Void to a close is a song called Void, in a nod towards the EP title. The song also nods back to the first track as it is similarly slow paced and atmospheric. This time the scene the song sets is a dark and lonely forest which is reflected in the lines ‘The only utopia that I can see, Is a cabin in the woods just the forest and me.’  Void is definitely not a hopeful song but, of course, that’s far from what All In Vain set out to do with it. Void is bleak, dystopian and melancholic but it left far more of an impression on me than if it had been another cheery pop punk song – I like cheery pop punk but you know what I mean. An appropriate ending to an intelligent, yet catchy, folk punk release. 

All In Vain don’t have much of an Internet presence besides their Bandcamp page but they are featured on a website called Cacophonix Conspiracy which has the following message (and explains the lack of Internet presence): ‘Cacophonix Conspiracy is currently just a website, created in order to provide people with one place to visit to find links to various musical projects who cross-over members or are friends with each other. People often ask us when we are performing in the street where they can find us online and it's easier to provide one link rather than several.’

You can find Cacophonix Conspiracy on Facebook and, of course, download or stream Hits From The Void on All In Vain’s Bandcamp page.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Album Review: Losing Eleven by The Chromosomes

The Chromosomes are a pop punk band who formed in 1993 in Livorno, Italy. Playing that pop punk style that is a cross between The Ramones and The Beach Boys made famous by The Queers, the three piece released a brand new eleven song album last October named Losing Eleven. Sounds perfect for a chilly Monday in January.

First up is the track My Rowdy Hula Dancer. Immediately a big smile appeared on my bearded face the first time I listened to this track. It's a cheery one about being in love on a beach and having a wonderful time. How can they not put a smile on anyone's face? Of course it's ridiculously catchy and will have you singing along and tapping your toes quickly. This song really sets the tone for what The Chromosomes and Losing Eleven is all about. The second track is titled A Duet With Dolly and is about exactly what you probably assume it's about, performing a duet with Dolly Parton. It's a song that doesn't take itself too seriously and is just a whole lot of fun. I enjoyed the little dig at the modern day pop stars who rely on autotuning for their vocals. As you might expect from a band that is inspired by The Beach Boys, the song features some delicious harmonies. Watchin' Airplanes is the title of the third song. Musically the song is slightly harder and features some pounding drums throughout. The fun, happy times remain though with a song that is about doing your favourite thing with the person you love - what more could you ever want?

The fourth song is named Heavy Metal Kid. It's a song that pokes a little bit of fun at metal kids and how they're not as hard or dangerous as they like to think. They're actually quite nice. By now it's clear The Chromosomes have a knack of writing witty songs that will make you smirk. Mr. Grabbs is one of my favourite songs on Losing Eleven. It's an ode to an old Basketball teacher named (you guessed it) Mr. Grabbs. What I really loved about this song as the way the vocals flow along with the melody. It's kind of punchy without really hitting hard and immediately grabbed my attention. There are also some more of those delicious harmonies. The sixth song continues the sporting theme. It's named Goalkeeper and is about goalkeepers. If there was an award for the catchiest song by an Italian pop punk band I feel like The Chromosomes would have it in the bag. I challenge you to listen to this song and not be humming it for the rest of the day. It'll be stuck in my head the next time I'm forced to go in goal at five-a-side. Track number seven is titled Leavin' Canada and is about falling in love with a place, the example given being Canada. What a fantastic song this is. Again it's superbly catchy and is the most fun to sing-a-long with. I loved the little nod to Canadian pop punk legends Chixdiggit during the track. Chixdiggit are one of the most underrated pop punk bands ever. The finale of the song is a cracker. The addition of harmonies spelling out Canada to the chorus gives the song that good time feel that a live crowd will adore.

Escape From The Orgy Of Media is probably the darkest sounding song on Losing Eleven. It strays away from The Beach Boys sound and on first listen I was actually reminded of MXPX. The drums in particular thunder along on the track while the guitars and vocals do a good job of attempting to keep up with the tempo. The song itself is about society's need to document everything in their lives to seemingly prove themselves to everyone else. Like if you're unwell you need a picture to prove you are unwell. When you think about it like this the whole concept is crazy but that's modern society and we're all guilty of it. The ninth song is a cover of the Dolly Parton classic Coat Of Many Colors. This is definitely the first time Dolly Parton has gotten two mentions on a CPRW post. It's a fun little cover that a live crowd will absolutely adore. Stupidly catchy and will get everyone having a good ol' barn dance. The penultimate song is TV Will Blast You. I've been waiting for a song on Losing Eleven to start with some "do do dah do"s and TV Will Blast You is that. I'm surprised it took ten songs for it to happen. The song is about how TV can brainwash you if you're not careful. Finally we have the song The Age Of Summer. This song is a nice surprise on the album. It starts out with soft acoustic guitar and quiet vocals, of course you expect the full band to kick in soon. You get far enough into the song where you believe it will stay acoustic throughout and then BOOM! Full band for the song's big finale. Great fun!

What a great record of 90s Lookout style pop punk Losing Eleven is. The Chromosomes have put out one of the best pop punk records of 2017 and proved themselves to be legends in their genre. I wish I had known about them earlier and I feel like many more people should be aware of them. They've been going since 1993 so I have some lost time to make up on.

Stream Losing Eleven here:

Like The Chromosomes here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Album Review: Winter Songs From Summer Bruises by Traverse (by Emma Prew)

Traverse are a four-piece indie punk band from Paris, France. Formed in the summer of 2015, they released their first EP in early 2016 titled Winter Songs From Summer Bruises. Not being someone who is up to date with French punk rock, or indeed all that much European punk rock in general, I hadn’t heard about Traverse until more recently. The record label behind the EP, Bad Wolf Records, appear to have only recently set up a their Bandcamp page which is how I came across Winter Songs From Summer Bruises, as well as the label’s other releases, when clicking about the new arrivals in punk. I had a little listen and liked what I heard so figured, new or not, the EP deserved a review.

Winter Songs From Summer Bruises opens with Lights Off. This is a fairly short track, actually all of the songs on this EP are less than 3 minutes long and all 5 total less than 12 minutes – proper punk rock! Lights Off is a catchy and upbeat tune that sounds more uplifting than it actually is. ‘I’ve cleaned the mess in my head, But when I look in your eyes, I see nothing but myself, Falling over again.’ The second song of the EP, Lifelines, opens with an awesome guitar riff that stays present throughout the first verse. It’s darn catchy. There is perhaps more of an indie sound coming through with this song while the punk rock takes a slight backseat. There are however some nice somewhat shouty backing vocals. Towards the end of the song is a slower, quieter bridge section which builds until the volume returns for final verse. ‘May my dark thoughts stay with me, To turn them all into a blaze, If it feels like nothing's changing, We'll fight in an alcoholic haze.’ All I Never Wanted To Be is next up and has an almost eerie reverby guitar fuelled intro accompanied by pounding drums – not exactly what I was expecting on this EP, which is no bad thing. It’s clear to me by this third track that Traverse are a band that pack a lot of emotion into their songs and this is perhaps most apparent with All I Never Wanted To Be. Lines like ‘Staring at a glass I can barely hold in my hands, A thousand failures drawn on my lifeline.’ and ‘So, I raise my glass, keeping me safe from my greatest fears, Choked up with bruises, wishing for the sun to never come.’ show the darkness of struggling with negative feelings and, sometimes, trying to numb the pain with alcohol. 

The penultimate song of Winter Songs From Summer Bruises is called Rooms. As the shortest song of the EP, at a minute and a half long, it isn’t a great surprise that this track has more of a pop punk sound – all the better to pack those lyrics into. Rooms is a short, fast and furious song about knowing you need to make changes in your life for the better, except that is usually easier said than done. There is a neat melodic guitar breakdown after a minute, which is actually two thirds of the way through the track, before the song ends on a more positive note. ‘Now every second I become more awakened, Gotta get up and run before I rust, Start acting, take all this in my hands, choke it, This time I’m sure I can handle it.’ Oh, and did I mention there are some woah-ohs? Everyone loves the punk rock ‘woah’. The More Miles, The Less Troubles is the final track and it kicks off with a rough-around-the-edges almost folk punk sound. The opening lyrics are particularly great – ‘Broken but not defeated, Rough roads for troubled hearts, We never played to win, But we own this time anyway.’  Those are fine words to live by if you ask me. So we had the woah-ohs in the last song but what else makes for a great punk song? An immensely singalong-able chorus of course! And Those More Miles, The Less Troubles certainly has one – spoiler alert: it starts with the song title. There are plenty of sadder moments on Winter Songs From Summer Bruises but I think with the the fifth and final track we are given an uplifting ending.

I was a little late to the party but better late than never, eh? Check out Winter Songs From Summer Bruises if you like all things melodic indie punk. Plus, according to their Facebook, Traverse have an album due out in March so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that.

You can stream and download Winter Songs From Summer Bruises on Bandcamp and like Traverse on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.