Saturday, 17 February 2018

Album Review: Northern Blue by Cold Years (by Emma Prew)

Cold Years are a rocking and rolling four-piece from Aberdeen, Scotland. Simply put, they are more of a rock band than a punk band but they draw influences from punk rock as well as bluesy rock ’n’ roll and Americana music. As with many of my recent favourite artists that I’ve had introduced to me over the past couple of years, I have Colin to thank for telling me about Cold Years. On a cold and snowy early December weekend in 2015, Colin was in Dundee, Scotland, for Book Yer Ane Fest (we’d only known each other for a few months and his trip was already planned so I wasn’t with him – plus I didn’t much fancy the 11 hour bus journey!). One of the many bands he saw over the weekend was Cold Years. He described them to me as sounding like ‘A Scottish Gaslight Anthem’ and so I was sold – The Gaslight Anthem being one of my favourite bands of all time.

Cold Years’ last release was the EP Death Chasers in 2016 so I think we can all agree that we are keen to hear something new from the band. Well, the wait is almost over as a 4-track EP titled Northern Blue is set for released on 2nd March, on German label Homebound Records. This was one I was looking forward to anyway so I was all the more excited to get to hear it early. Here’s what I thought.

Cold Years launch into Northern Blue full pelt with pounding drums and forceful guitars opening up the first track, Seasons. At least, that’s what we get for the first ten seconds or so before the vocals come in. When frontman Ross’s wistful voice comes in, the guitars switch to a palm-muted style but you can tell that it won’t stay that way for long. The pace and volume pick up again as we head towards a belting chorus. This is pure dynamic and bold rock ’n’ roll. Seasons mulls over the subject of escaping to a better time and place. The bridge is a real highlight with the lines ‘Never could find the words to say, Never thought that I would lose you this way, Give me your hand and I’ll take you away.’ giving way to a huge guitar solo, soon accompanied by soulful singing of ‘No, no, no’. Next up we have the lead single from the EP that was released at the end of last year, Miss You To Death. This song starts fairly slowly with that sense of building once again ever present. It’s superbly melodic with the two guitars and bass taking their own distinct parts while the drums pound away holding everything together. Miss You To Death is a very nostalgic song – well, the whole of Northern Blue is to be honest but it’s particularly apparent here. The chorus is catchy, and it certainly keeps your head nodding along, but it’s the themes within the lyrics that really stand out – growing up surrounded by music, missing someone close to you (missing them to death, you could say) but most of all being thankful for those memories and moments. ‘So put the record on and play those songs you had behind, And all those songs that our mothers and fathers danced to in time, Put on that dress, Forget all the stress, Come with me and never look back…’

What I Lost is the third song on Northern Blue and it starts up with a super sweet opening guitar riff, backed up by the second guitar and a steady drumbeat. Of course, it’s Ross’s vocals take centre stage as soon he opens his mouth. That theme of nostalgia and sense of longing continues with What I Lost. You’d be forgiven for thinking this band was from New Jersey rather than Aberdeen – I thought it too the first time I heard them, at least until I noticed the undertones of a Scottish accent. We do actually get a nod to the mighty Springsteen in this song. ‘Young in our hearts and old in our souls, Even for the youth, No Surrender on the radio…’  There’s another intense guitar solo towards the end of this track that I think shows real rock ’n’ roll flare, before a lengthy melodic outro takes us into the final track of Northern Blue. Appropriately titled Final Call, this song begins with a clean dual guitar part that quickly holds the listener’s attention, perhaps even more so than on a song with pounding drums or bouncy bass. Less is more. Melody-wise, the guitars actually remind me of the Fake Problem’s song Songs For Teenagers but I think I’m thinking of the time when The Gaslight Anthem covered it as that was more of an acoustic version. Similarities aside, this is another brilliantly heartfelt and soulful track. It begins slowly, as Ross takes you on a journey with his voice, reflecting on the idea that time flies but we never forget the past and what it means to us. Final Call could have easily remained at its slower pace but Cold Years have plenty of energy left for the last third of the song. After the poignant lines of ‘And all the people who leave you behind, Are never far from your mind, Fading memories and haunted regret. These songs are etched into my head…’ there is a huge crescendo and POW, the full band is back with the volume cranked up. There is so much passion packed into the last minute of the song. Amazing end to an amazing set of songs.

Cold Years did not disappoint with Northern Blue. Each of the four songs on this release are brilliant in their own way but they also fit wonderfully together with recurring themes of reflecting on fond memories and the overall sense of nostalgia in their rock ’n’ roll guitar solos as well as soulful and contemplative lyrics.

Check out Cold Years on Facebook and keep an eye out for pre-order details for Northern Blue. In the meantime, you can stream Miss You To Death on Spotify. What are you waiting for?

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Column: DIY vs Academies

Recently, probably like many of you reading this post, I went to see The Menzingers with PUP and Cayetana. You can check out Emma's review here. As I waited for The Menzingers to come on stage I looked around the room, and the sheer amount of people packed into the Shepherd's Bush Empire, and wondered "Where are all these people for the small local DIY punk rock shows?" It's something that I often think when I attend shows like this. It does frustrate me when I go see some of the awesome underground UK punk rock bands and a sizeable portion of the crowd seems to be either members of the other bands on the line up or friends and families of the bands. I don't understand why this is as the UK punk scene is absolutely brimming with incredible acts that really do deserve much more attention.

Getting people to listen to the underground bands we are privileged to have in the UK is a passion and to be honest a bit of on obsession of mine. So I decided to try and work out why exactly there are people who enjoy punk music such as The Menzingers or Bad Religion or Anti-Flag or Reel Big Fish or Descendents or Flogging Molly but don't seem willing to go and see small bands playing places similar to where these legendary bands got started. I asked the excellent folk of the CPRW team and Sarah from Shout Louder for their opinions on the subject.

Triple Sundae at Urban Bar, London

The first point and biggest point, and probably most obvious, is that people just aren't aware that a UK punk scene even exists. I guess it's called an underground scene for a good reason. After this point was made to me I instantly ask why not!? I understand that people might not be as passionate about music as me and might be more than happy to continue to listen to your favourite band you had as a teenager. I still listen to all of my favourite bands from my teens as well but in this day and age of streaming music it's so easy to discover a new band. If you're a user of Spotify they compile you a weekly playlist based on your listening trends to help you discover new bands similar to what you like. Bandcamp has an incredible discover section where you can lose hours finding your new favourite band. There is some real quality to be found out there, three of my top ten albums of 2017 were due to Bandcamp discovery - they were Flabbercasters, Plan 37 and Quitters. So what I'm saying is that there definitely is an underground scene out there just waiting to be discovered. You can also find your new favourite band at a local DIY punk show.

I appreciate that it is a big step to attend a show where you don't necessarily know the bands playing. Why should you give up your time and money to go and see bands you've not heard of before? You could rephrase that statement to say why WOULD you give up your time and money to go and see bands you've not heard of before? Rationally it kind of doesn't make sense. Even though most DIY punk shows will cost you less than £10, it's still money and time spent travelling to a venue where in all likelihood the sound won't be as good (and the toilets won't be as clean!). But you also won't have to queue for ages between bands and miss the beginning of your favourite band of the past twenty years set because you're paying an extortionate amount for a drink. Oh London drink prices, I do hate you. But there is a flipside to this! As I said in the previous paragraph, it is so simple and easy to check out a new band because of that wonderful thing called the Internet - it isn't just memes, GIFs, videos of cats and pornography. Because of social media it is also quite easy to find a local show and most promoters will post Bandcamp or Youtube links to the bands on the bill so you're not going in blind or, perhaps in a musical sense, deaf.

Flogging Molly at The Forum, London

Okay, so now you've found your new favourite underground band and they're playing a show local to you and you would like to go. But you've got nobody to go with as none of your friends have taken the time to listen to the band you've suggested - they aren't willing to go to the gig and hope for the best. You've got nobody to go with and don't really fancy going by yourself so you stay at home and watch videos of cats. When I first started going to gigs regularly I had a good posse of pals who were willing to come along. But as I started to discover more and more small bands and wanted to go to more and more gigs people started to jump off the bandwagon because of, you know, life and stuff. It got to the stage where it was either bite the bullet and go by myself or stop doing something I truly loved. Probably my first love. Easy decision to make really. Sure the hour long journey on the train after a full day of work sucks and the getting home at 2am the following morning and having to be at work at 8am is the worst thing that will ever happen to you, but that four hours of incredible music and performance in the middle makes it all worth it. The hardest thing for me when I started going to gigs by myself was walking in the door of a small venue you've never been to before. I used to get really anxious over the prospect of doing that but you soon get over it. You might worry about the people inside the venue. Will you fit in? Will people be rude to you? Will there be people? The answers to those questions are yes, no and then yes again. The folk you'll meet at a DIY punk show are amongst the nicest and best people you will ever meet. Just have a chat with them and you'll discover this. Some of the best friends I've made over the past few years are folk I've met at little DIY punk shows. Everyone there is at the same show to see the same band so you've already got things in common.

The travelling is the worst part of going to a show. Emma has said that in the past she's been put off of going to shows on her own because the venue has been in an awkward place, at a fair distance from the nearest Underground station and has felt unsafe walking to the venue. I can completely understand why this would put people off going to small gigs. There have been plenty of times when I've been on my way to a gig and had to avoid some unsavoury people. One time I was offered some of the hardcore drugs and called a devil worshipper by two separate groups within thirty seconds of each other. I wasn't called a devil worshipper because I accepted the drugs. I didn't accept the drugs. If this is a big issue for you perhaps a solution could be to message the gig's event page on the Facebook and mention your concerns and see if anyone can meet you somewhere you feel safe. Punks are good folk, I have no doubt someone would at least try and help you out and you'll probably make a new friend in the process.

The Filaments at New Cross Inn (for Level Up Fest), London

Emma and I do a lot of travelling for gigs which will mean we'll often get home from a gig way past our bedtime. This understandably stops people going to too many gigs because of work commitments. So you might be picky with your gig choice selection and probably go and see a band that you have loved for a long time and can guarantee a great show rather than a smaller DIY show where you don't know the bands very well, particularly if it is somewhere you think might be awkward to get to and you just think it might be a bit rubbish. (It most definitely won't be!)

Something else put forward to me as a reason for people only attending bigger gigs is because society associates monetary value with quality. After working in retail for far too many years I've seen this first hand, a lot. People will spend a fortune on the more expensive branded items rather than buying the cheaper own brand things that taste just the same. You can easily argue, and I would usually agree, that you get a better quality gig when you pay more for a ticket. You do often get more of a stage show at one of the bigger venues than you do in the backroom of a pub. Do extravagant light shows, fireworks, flying drumkits, backing dancers, video screens and the like make a great show? I wouldn't say so. They certainly add to a performance and make for great photo opportunities but it's not what makes a great show. Especially a great punk show. It's about the passion and energy coming from a band who do it for the love of it and will be doing the exact same thing you'll be doing the next day, going back to your boring day job. At a £5 DIY gig you get something that for me is huge - you get to feel part of a community and a movement of people coming together to do something very special. Due to a lack of space for a backstage area at a DIY gig the band will hang out in the crowd and you'll see that they are just the same as you. There is no sense of hierarchy at a small show. Everyone is the same and everyone is together. There's a special feeling to realising you're just the same as your heroes. So yeah, in summary, as in life, money is not a measurement of quality in punk rock.

Masked Intruder at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

I could probably go on about this for another 1500 words but if I did I imagine you'd get bored of my seemingly endless rambling and stop reading. So to sum everything up here are some pros and cons for bigger and small gigs.

Big Venue Pros

1. Bigger bands
2. Bigger stage show
3. More of your friends are likely to attend
4. The stage is higher up (helpful for short folk)
5. Better disabled access
6. Easier to find venues, more centrally located
7. Cleaner toilets

Big Venue Cons

1. More expensive tickets
2. Bigger queues
3. Overpriced drinks
4. Further away from the stage
5. Worse views
6. Less thoughtful crowd (eg. throwing beer, barging past people, people being unaware of the other people around them)
7. Less intimate
8. Merchandise is more expensive as the bands have to increase prices because the venue takes a cut
9. Ticket touts
10. Less of a community feel
11. People trying to film, Facetime and take six dozen selfies during a band's set
12. Sticky floors

Small Venue Pros

1. Cheap tickets (sometimes even free!)
2. No queues
3. Seeing bands before they get big
4. More variety of punk gigs at small venues
5. Intimate atmosphere
6. Friendlier crowds
7. More of a community feeling
8. Supporting independent venues
9. Supporting new music
10. The lovely feeling of feeling like you're contributing to the scene
11. Better views
12. Less people filming or Facetiming during the gig
13. It's usually just your name on the door so you save paper as you don't need a ticket
14. You can meet your heroes
15. You can become friends with familiar faces in the scene
16. Supporting local talent
17. More of an inclusive feel - no hierarchy, no discrimination, no cool club, everyone welcome

Small Venue Cons

1. Smelly toilets
2. You won't know all the bands
3. Some smaller venues can be a little difficult to get to
4. Sticky floors
5. Tickets can be hard to get for popular bands

Faintest Idea at the Portland Arms, Cambridge

Ultimately this column is the opinions of a handful of people who are extremely passionate about DIY punk rock and doing what they can to support it. Of course if you prefer going to a bigger show that's awesome, you do what makes you happy. We're very lucky to still have the option in this country and that there is a big enough punk scene that it can cater to everyone's tastes. This column is an attempt to encourage anyone reading who has never been to a DIY show to give it a go, hopefully it will become your big passion like it has become mine.

This column was put together by Colin Clark with the help of the CPRW team and Sarah Williams of Shout Louder

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Top Tens: Triple Sundae's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

We decided to take a different approach and have each member give two influences, as well as adding two overall influences for the band itself! Enjoy.

Personal influences for each member:

Mike (Guitar)

We Are The Union
Probably the best "pop-punk with horns" band. ‘Who We Are’ is incredible from start to finish. Huge riffs and ska undertones, the balance is perfect and WATU are a huge influence as a result.

The Flatliners
They've consistently released quality music and their style has developed while still keeping it instantly recognisable as The Flatliners. Cavalcade especially was a game changer.

Zandro (Drums/Vocals)

Pink Floyd
They were the first band me and my dad ever bonded over and the more I explored their back catalogue and history, the more their music blew me away! I still get goosebumps when I listen to The Wall.

I was a little late getting into Metallica! I had bought the S&M live album because I'd liked what I'd heard. The album was so different, with the inclusion of the orchestra that it threw me off! Now S&M is my favourite live album of all time. Life's fun like that.

Andy (Bass)

Box Car Racer and Alkaline Trio
Because they are like totes good and stuff.

Hassan (Guitar/Vocals)

A Tribe Called Quest
“Microphone check one, two, what is this?
The five foot assassin with the roughneck business
I float like gravity, never had a cavity,
Got more rhymes than the Winans got family
No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame
No shame in my game cause I’ll always be the same
Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have,
You wanna diss the Phifer but you still don’t know the half”

RIP Phife Dawg.

The Pharcyde
“Trapped in the cockpit at forty thousand feet
The sky is the limit, but we supersede
The greed for the speed is like way beyond limits,
I grab my parachute with like forks and spoons in it,
And I’m falling, I’m falling, with my heart rapid rushes
Death before my eyes, oh why did I trust this?
My reactions are repeated over and over and over,
Oh it seems like I will never be sober.”

Triple Sundae overall

I can’t think of a melodic punk band that did time signature changes and palm muted middle 8s as well as Lifetime did. I will forever try to emulate that one way or another in my songwriting for TS. Lifetime are a perfect band and, as much as we don’t sound like them to a tee, it’s safe to say they have heavily influenced the songwriting style for Tripsun.

The Menzingers
Honest lyrics, big choruses and beautiful dynamics – on the the other side of the spectrum from where Lifetime’s fast, raspy and fun melodic punk style lays. The Menzingers are the second band I would choose to cite as an overall influence for this piece as the story telling is amazing and they haven’t put out a single bad record yet - every band in this genre should aim to provide half the quality of content as The Menzingers have.

Honourable mentions: Title Fight, Candy Hearts, Tigers Jaw, Jeff Rosenstock, Alicia Keys, Iron Chic, and Green Day pre-Warning… and post-Warning. Green Day will forever be a punk band, shut the fuck up about it.

Our upcoming EP ‘Peace of Mind’ will be out April 2nd through Umlaut Records - first single Indecisive is out now! It's now streaming on Check it out here.

Like Triple Sundae here.

Hassan is also playing an acoustic set this Sunday at New Cross Inn supporting Ray Rocket (Teenage Bottlerocket), Sam Russo, Alex Wonk Unit, Dan RxR and many more. The details are here.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Album Review: Roll With by The Dodges

Today we're featuring another new release from the always excellent La Escalera Records. Today I'm reviewing San Diego based four piece The Dodges new EP Roll With. The Dodges, who consist of Mike Hertel (guitar and vocals), Kyle Porter (drums), Alex Snyder (guitar) and Donnie Cardenas (bass), play a great mix of indie and infectious pop punk music. Enough intro now, let's check out Roll With.

First up is the song Chasing Amy. This is by far the shortest song on the album and I must admit I found it kind of strange that they'd open with such a short song. Then the opening guitars and those pounding drums bring the song to a crashing opening and I know exactly why this was picked as the opener. There's an immediate energy in the song that has you wanting to hear more and more. Mike Hertel's vocals really stand out. They're quite clean in sound with just a hint of the punk gruff about it. This little hint of gruff really helps add the emotion into the track. The second track is titled Old Habits. Old Habits is about trying not to let yourself slip and go back to your old bad ways. This song is indie pop punk at its absolute finest. The jangly guitars stood out quickly as do some more pounding drums. Midway through, the band really show off some great musicianship with an extended instrumental sections which include a kick-ass guitar solo. It's superbly catchy as well and you'll pick up on the lyrics at a great speed so you'll be singing along with the band before the song has even finished its first run through.

Dilemmas is quick in getting started. When listening to the song I was really reminded of long running rock act The Goo Goo Dolls. The song is about making bad decisions constantly and becoming known for it. The song features yet another fantastic guitar solo that helps to break the song up a bit. This really helps given its lengthy running time of over four minutes. The next song, Ordinary Joke, is another that goes past the four minute mark. This one is just fantastic. Everything about it seems much harder than its predecessor. The guitars are strummed harder, the drums are hit harder and there is a great amount of attitude in Hertel's vocal. There is also a great amount of energy in the song that keeps you into the song and by its ending you are almost breathless.

The fifth song on the EP is titled The Hits You Dodge. It begins with a great rolling drumbeat and honestly superb drumming throughout by Kyle Porter. He provides an strong back beat to a high tempo pop punk song about happily being different from the crowd. Something that really does set The Dodges apart from their many of their contemporaries is the amazing skill that they show with their instruments. So far on the EP it's like they're trying to outdo the guitar solo from the previous song. The penultimate song on the EP is Get Serious. That Goo Goo Dolls similarity returns here with more high energy indie pop punk. There is also quite an upbeat feeling to the song that adds to its infectious charm. Then we have the final song Thrive which actually begins with a bit of a dark tone. It's about taking your chance for excellence and not being held back. I love this message and I love this song. The song does feel more restrained than the other songs on Roll With but of course it finishes with another great solo.

Roll With is a lovely slice of indie pop punk. It shows excellent musicianship and some great songwriting. It also doesn't really sound much like anything else in its genre so there is a great freshness to it that really makes it stand out. Looking forward to big things from The Dodges.

Stream and download Roll With here:

Like The Dodges here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Album Review: Post- by Jeff Rosenstock (by Dan Peters)

Post Record Company

Hands up who had a hangover on New Years Day? I’ll put mine up. Do you know who else did? Probably Jeff Rostenstock too. He played a show at the Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia on NYE and then the very next morning POST- appeared on the internet. This is an album with absolutely none of the expected secondary considerations seemingly attached to it. No marketing, no previous reviews or associated videos or singles released prior. Just one day he’s touring and the next hello world! And why not? Currently looking at Spotify, it’s had hundreds of thousands of plays and by all accounts seems to be well received.

It’s a ballsy move and one that the record industry should rightly be terrified of. Jeff released this as a “pay what you want” album on Bandcamp. Sure you can pay more for things like physical media and whatnot but if you only have £1 to spend on music and you want to own something incredible then that option is there for you, or just have it for free. I love everything about this approach to music production. There is currently a large barrier to entry for young artists but if this kind of attitude became more prevalent then maybe it would be easier for new bands to pick up momentum. It also strips out any meddling from outside sources, which works perfectly when your subject matter could be considered as a hot potato issue, although let’s be honest, saying you’re disgusted by the Trump administration and US politics isn’t exactly unpopular opinion these days.

So the album itself. Yes, it’s great. As I mentioned it’s very much a current events reaction so it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up in five or ten years time, however judging by the stark relevance of punk songs written during the Bush administration today, the pessimist in me thinks it’s gonna hold up just fine. The instrumental side of things here is very satisfying. Everything is chunky and sounds big and crisp as snow. Jeff has enough charisma in his voice to fill the national mall. POST- is basically a concept album with everything running through the same themes of helplessness in the face of a country effectively shooting itself in the leg, from the ballsy 7 minute USA right through to the backhanded acceptance of Let Them Win (“They can profit from their lies again”). Anti Trump sentiment isn’t exactly breaking new ground but it’s something that should not stop being said as long as there are people who will support it. Rather than being stark and oppressive political fact stating, it’s more of a personal struggle and that endears me to each song so much more than the fact I agree. The sadness and melancholy is something I’m positive anyone picking up a Jeff Rosenstock album will undoubtedly relate to and, for that, this really deserves to get a listen from anyone that can – which in this case is everyone since it’s free to those who can’t afford it.

In conclusion this is an album literally anyone can and surely will enjoy and something of a landmark in terms of the way it was released. More of this please.

Stream and download Post- here:

Specialist Subject are handling the physical release in the UK here:

Like Jeff Rosenstock here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Album Review: Aching Waits by Reunions

Reunions are a four piece punk rock band from San Francisco, California. In January the band, who are influenced by the likes of Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music and Banner Pilot, put out their second EP titled Aching Waits on La Escalera Records. I've been a fan of most things La Escalera have put out over the past couple of years so eagerly checked out Reunions.

First up on Aching Waits is the song Head North. What we have here is a mid-tempo melodic punk song. Whenever I hear bands like Reunions, I think it's mature punk for adults rather than the bratty in your face punk we loved in our youth. The track is about feeling the need to run away but ultimately deciding it's best to stay where you are. I believe this urge to run is due to the current political state that the United States is dealing with at the moment and thinking that moving to Canada or Mexico would be a better idea. Following this is Deep Red. On Deep Red you discover that Reunions have two different vocalists. On Aching Waits the vocals are sung in a deeper, raspy style but on Deep Red we have more of a poppy style. I loved the section on Deep Red when both vocalists take turns delivering lines - it sounds incredible. This song has such a great sound and I feel like it must be great when played live as there are plenty of moments for those wonderful fist-in-the-air sing-a-long moments we all love.

The third song is the EP's title track, Aching Waits. With Aching Waits the band return to the mature punk style they played so well on the opening song Head North. I feel like there is a real accessibility to Reunions - the punks will love them and I can also see fans of a more mainstream rock sound will also enjoy them if they give them a chance. Aching Waits is about struggling with anxiety and not being able to control it. The song builds towards a big, passionate finale where the singer really puts a lot of emotion into the final couple of lines. The final song, Breathing Like A Hold Up is another that looks at the issues of mental health and anxiety. There is a feeling of epicness in the song that has a few high and low points, just like a rollercoaster. The band time these different sections perfectly, knowing when exactly to take you to the highest points and then bring you back down. I particularly liked the final part of the song where things get quiet and the vocals become soft and then… KAPOW! we get the final big build towards the song and the EP's conclusion.

La Escalera Records always put out such fantastic punk rock and Aching Waits by Reunions is no exception. Like I said, it's more of a mature and adult punk rock style and is really enjoyable. Us punk rockers all have to mature at some point but, fear not, there is still brilliant punk rock music out there for us.

Stream and download Aching Waits here:

Like Reunions here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Album Review: Depression Club by Trophy Jump

We have a first time on Colin's Punk Rock World today. First band we have featured from Croatia! The band in question are Trophy Jump. They are a four piece skate punk band from Zagreb featuring Tony Alex (guitar and vocals), Hardlike Pete (Guitar and backing vocals), Johnny Despair (bass and backing vocals) and Marc DeMarco (drums and backing vocals). On Christmas day Trophy Jump released their debut album which they titled Depression Club. Always keen to check out new bands from all over the world I jumped at the chance to review the album.

Depression Club starts with a song of the same name. The thing that struck me first about the song, and the band's sound in general, is Tony Alex's unique vocal. It's a higher pitch that I'm used to hearing and it very much reminds me of Phillip Hill of the former Nashville based pop punk band the Teen Idols. Depression Club is about slipping into a state of depression due to a variety of reasons. I found the song to be quite positive, showing the listener that they are not alone with their depression. Sympathy For Kevin takes a look at the complex situation of spurning someone of a different sexuality's unwanted advances. This is quite a unique topic for a song so I wonder if it's true to life for a member of the band. The song is quite simplistic with its lyrics, this makes it super accessible though and will spend a lot of time in your head whether you want it to or not. The third song is titled CTR. It's about looking back on your childhood and remembering the great times but also realising that it's in the past. Musically the song feels slightly more aggressive than the previous two tracks with DeMarco's drumming really standing out.

Noob is an interesting song. It's only one minute and thirty seconds long and the last thirty of those seconds is the outro. Trophy Jump manage to get everything that they want to say done in the first two thirds of the song and just use the end to have a bit of a jam. The track is about always trying your best and not being afraid to fail. If you do your best, that's all that matters. I love the positivity of this message. Wake Up Fool is just one minute long and easily the most aggressive song on Depression Club. Lead vocalist Alex really puts a lot of strain on his voice during the track and it comes off extremely passionately, sounds incredible and really makes me care about the song. The song is about realising that you're drinking too much and having a wakeup call about it. The sixth song on the album is titled April Fool's Day. April Fool's Day is a fun little song about simply getting too old to be able to play pranks on your friends. The age used as an example is 21 but I can confirm that it's still possible to play successful pranks when you're in your 30s.

16 Again is about getting older and yearning to be a teenager again. Trophy Jump use the examples of not being able to get drunk or high like they did when they were younger as reasons to miss their youth. This is another short and fun song that is quite catchy and will get a smile out of many people that relate to the content. The penultimate song is Trophy Jump's version of the theme tune to the popular Japanese animation Beyblades. I know this because I did some research like a good little album reviewer. The song isn't a complete carbon copy of the theme but takes a bit of the theme and makes it the band's own. The final song on Depression Club is named Trophy Jump. Yes, that's also the name of the band - it's not me making a mistake! The intro to the song builds the song up to make the listener aware that this will be the big ending of the album. Lyrically the song is very sad and is about really not thinking much of yourself as a human being. But this can also be cathartic because there are a alot of people who also feel this way and it's good to feel like you're not alone.

Trophy Jump are a fun new band on the European scene. Clearly influenced by a love of skate and pop punk, the band stick to those influences but add their own spin to things as well. I really liked the song topics, with plenty of themes that people will relate to and also enjoy.

Stream and download Depression Club here:

Like Trophy Jump here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Gig Review: The Menzingers at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London 3/2/18 (by Emma Prew)

Whenever Philadelphian punk rock heroes The Menzingers are in London I just have to be there. I’ve seen them go from playing relatively small capacity venues such as the Old Blue Last and The Underworld to the larger (for punk show, at least) places like the Scala and Koko – not to mention seeing them play the main stage at Fest. I’ve loved every single Menzingers show, some more than others of course, but I didn’t think the day they’d be headlining Academy venues would come around so soon. The Menzingers went from being a reasonably popular punk band to a super popular punk, or perhaps just alternative rock, band thanks to their latest album, After The Party. On 3rd February 2018 – which also happened to be the first birthday of that last album – The Menzingers headlined Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Bringing along Canadian punks Pup and fellow Philly band Cayetana, this was a gig not to be missed.

Opening up dates on The Menzingers’ UK and Europe tour were Cayetana, a three piece indie pop punk band from Philadelphia. I believe this tour was their first time in Europe and their excitement at playing overseas alongside Pup and The Menzingers to sizeable crowds really showed. They appeared comfortable but happily humble on the Shepherd’s Bush stage and lead vocalist and guitarist Augusta expressed how thrilled they were to be there – particularly commenting on how beautiful the venue is. She has a point, the old elaborate theatre ceilings and balconies are something that pub venues don’t have. We saw Cayetana at Fest in 2016 but I have to admit that I was overheating at the time, in the Floridian sunshine, and don’t recall much of their set. Because of this I was looking forward to seeing the band again – properly. They did not disappoint. I wasn’t familiar with the songs but they felt easily accessible. I was particularly impressed with Augusta’s vocals but the whole band was on top form. I don’t doubt that they gained more than a few new fans that night. 

Up next were a band who are arguably headliners in their own right – there were certainly enough people there who were probably more excited to see them than The Menzingers. The band I’m talking about is of course Toronto-based foursome, Pup. Pup have become a band that have been much talked and raved about over the past few years and they’ve become particularly popular with the poppier of punk crowds, despite being a fairly raw punk band themselves. There was a certain hype surrounding them that Colin and I didn’t really get until we saw them live in 2016 – at least, I feel like I got it after seeing them live for the first time but I’m not convinced Colin did! Either way, I was definitely keen to see Pup for a second time. Opening their set with Doubts, the crowd, particularly those at the front (where we were), wasted no time in exuding some energy. These pop punk kids certainly have a lot of energy! Compared to my first time seeing Pup, I felt like their live performance was a little less raw and a little more polished – I’m undecided whether this is good or bad. That said, I’d say I enjoyed them more and more as they went on. Particular highlights for me were Reservoir, from their self-titled album, and the medley of If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You and DVP that closed out their set. Overall I really enjoyed watching Pup and I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy watching them again.

We’d had two great performances from the support bands but I was now super excited to see one of my absolute favourite bands once more – The Menzingers. Opening their set with Tellin’ Lies wasn’t a great surprise. As After The Party’s opening track and with the huge singalong lines of ‘Where we gonna go when our twenties are over?’ this is the perfect set opener. The only thing more perfect was the next song, Good Things, which received an even bigger reaction – songs from On The Impossible Past always do to be fair. The Menzingers now have five full length albums, as well as a number of other releases, so when it comes to their live setlist it understandably features mostly their latest songs. However playing bigger venues, and therefore a longer set, means that they are able to throw in a few old favourites as well. The first of these at Shepherd’s Bush was A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology from their debut album of the same name. I’m sure there were some newer Menzos fans who weren’t so familiar with this song but I certainly was and I went, well, a little crazy. I’d not realised how much I missed the swapping of vocal lines between Greg and Tom, as well as big harmonised choruses, until they played this song. It was brilliant. It wasn’t just the odd old song that had me pumped however, other set highlights included the massive sing/shoutalongs to Casey and The Obituaries, hearing relatively old track I Was Born and newer favourites Rodent and Your Wild Years. Greg made a point of mentioning that playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire was their biggest international show to date, as well as being After The Party’s first birthday, so this put a bigger emphasis on just how important this show was. Drawing towards the end of their set, there was further opportunity for singalongs with big crowd pleasers I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore and Lookers. That wasn’t quite it of course as an Academy style venue calls for an encore. Just as Tellin’ Lies being the set opener wasn’t a great surprise to me, nor was the first song of the encore – After The Party. (Side note: There had been a fair few crowd surfers during the evening but during this song we spotted a familiar face in Hassan of Triple Sundae and On A Hiding To Nothing fame. It was nice to recognise someone amongst so many people!) As my favourite song of 2017, playing ATP was not a bad move in my book, in fact it was a great move. Even better was the transition into a cover of, ‘the only band that matters’, The Clash’s Straight To Hell. This is not an unusual cover for the band as it appears on their debut album but it was without a doubt a welcome addition to the evening. Straight To Hell, however, isn’t a Menzingers set closer. That honour fell to In Remission and gained one last sing song. Weirdly, someone appeared next to us brandishing a LED-lit crutch for the lines ‘If anyone needs a crutch then I need a wheelchair.’ Anything can happen at a Menzingers show, I guess!

I’ve seen The Menzingers close to ten times now and I’ll admit that this wasn’t their best performance by any stretch of the imagination. Greg’s vocals were perhaps showing signs of not being at their best (my voice wouldn’t be either singing and screaming night after night) and you could just say ‘Hey, but it’s a punk show. It’s not meant to be perfect.’ but then that’s kind of a contrast with where they’re at now – playing bigger stages, to bigger audiences. Of course I would take a small underground pub show over another Shepherd’s Bush gig but I still had the best time watching my favourite band and singing along to some of my favourite songs in the world. I lost my voice at a gig for the first time in forever so that says it all really. It was a really great night.

If you missed The Menzingers this time around or are simply dying to catch them live again, rumour has it they will be back in August and playing alongside an even more killer line-up than this one – Lagwagon, The Lawrence Arms, Bad Cop Bad Cop and The Lillingtons. The gig will be at The Forum in Kentish Town on the 3rd of August but as far as we are aware tickets are not on sale yet. I’d snap them up as soon as they are if I were you.

This gig review was written by Emma Prew. (I also took the photos.)

Columns: Why We Do What We Do by Pan of The Burnt Tapes

Hey, it’s me Pan and I’m here to tell you about the magical experience of being in a mediocre punk band. Let’s jump right in – a typical day on tour with the Burnt Tapes goes like this:

We wake up somewhere outside of Berlin in a private double decker bus with climate control and private bunks to a high protein breakfast cooked up by our private chef (Michel). Phil stumbles out of bed with an echinacea and green tea face mask on and shouts at Michel for a matcha tea. Tone is upset because his weed has too many stems in it and his subscription to FourFourTwo hasn’t arrived yet, so he wanders around aimlessly in his Armani Exchange boxers pretending to read an article in Elle magazine about “10 Ways to Please Your Lover”. Jo, sitting at the front of the bus smiling because he has just won £300 on an accumulator bet, is brought violently back to earth when he realises he didn’t actually confirm the bet due to spotty 4g reception. Our manager and hair/make-up artist Laura is shouting the word ‘tetanus’ at me because the night before I left after the show and was later found on a park bench spooning a homeless German man.

After our breakfast (organic salmon on rye bread with a side of caviar) we are whisked away to our next destination – a sold out Allianz Arena where we are opening for Blink-182. Laura argues that they should be opening for us and we all share a laugh. The show goes well, there are no brown M&Ms backstage and we end up doing cocaine off each other and sleeping with anything we want to sleep with. My mother calls but I ignore it and I momentarily catch my sullen reflection in the dark screen of my phone. We’ve made it.

Just kidding. I’m in the back of a car, under boxes of merch, sleeping bags and a half eaten pack of crisps with an amp digging into my hip. We’re 3 hours into a 8 hour drive and everything looks fucked up from here. It’s grey, it’s raining, we’re in Belgium. I think After The Party has been on repeat for the last 2 hours but no one seems to notice. I’m horny but also I’m not. It’s day 2 of our 5th European tour and I already want to go home. Being in a band is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The soaring highs, the crushing lows and the dead times in between. One minute you’re playing a show with a band you grew up listening to, the next you’re playing to literally nobody. Instead of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll it’s petrol money, P&O channel crossings and huddling together in our sleeping bags for warmth. Why the fuck do we do this?

P&O ferry breakfasts – just one of the perks of the job

I like bullet points so here we go.

Pros of being in a band:

1. The joy of creating and playing music for yourself, even if no one listens or cares
2. The joy of collaborating with awesome people to make art, merch and music videos for your mediocre band
3. The opportunity to travel and visit places you wouldn’t be able to find on a map let alone play a show in
4. Temporarily getting away from an unfulfilling day job
5. The opportunity to meet like minded people at home and abroad
6. The opportunity to play with your heroes but also with the local band who realise halfway through their set that their bassist isn’t plugged in
7. Spending all your money on guitars and guitar pedals
8. The experience of doing all of this with your friends

Cons of being in a band:

1. It’s tough work and mentally exhausting at times
2. It will take up a lot of your spare time
3. It will take up a lot of your money
4. Your parents and friends will think you are crazy
5. Spending all your money on guitars and guitar pedals
6. The experience of doing all of this with your friends

I’ve always been ambivalent about it and still am. I’ve almost quit the band a handful of times, I’ve had to miss tours, chose to sit in the van or walk around Ipswich town centre for hours just to get through a show.

The flip side to that is that four flawed humans with a common goal, get to write and record music, play it in different countries and make physical records that one day we can show our kids and grandkids. Life is weird and short, so there’s a certain solace in knowing that you created something not only for yourself but possibly for others to enjoy too. The 13 year old punk rocker in me still can’t quite believe that we play shows where people actually turn up so it’s nice to tell him to chill out once in a while.

Being in a band will teach you a lot of things outside of the confines of a stuffy office – dedication, discipline, organisation, crisis management, how to poop standing up etc. (quick shout-out to Tone and Phil who deal with all the real-life, mundane band stuff while Jo and I get pedicures). You will meet super nice people who will give you food and a couch/floor to sleep on, so that when you next travel by yourself you have no problem falling asleep in a 32 person hostel room where the couple next to you have had a bit too much sangria. Maybe you’ll learn a bit about community and supporting your local scene too.

It’s an interesting reflection on where passion and hard work can get you and ultimately serves as a lesson for life outside of the band. For the first 2 years (the cutting your teeth phase) we played shows all the time, anywhere we could get them (we once drove to Berlin and back for a single show). Since then it’s always been important for us to keep moving forward – outlining one goal, reaching it, then setting another. Re-think, re-calibrate, set our sights on something bigger. Always moving forward together, like Spartans but without the CGI muscles. And once you get some momentum going, things start to shift and the fruits of your labours start popping up in the dankest of places.

So start a band, be shit at the start, be a little less shit a year later and maybe one day be decent. Whatever happens, at the end of the day at least you can say you gave it a shot, eh?

Stream and download The Burnt Tapes music here and like them here.

The band are doing a short tour soon. Be sure to catch them if you're near any of these places.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Top Tens: Toodles & The Hectic Pity's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

The Mountain Goats, in particular “All Hail West Texas”
I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention The Mountain Goats. They’re not mine, or our, favourite band, but their influence on us is undeniable. For much of their music, they manage to turn quite simple guitar chords and ideas into these sort of epic, life-changing songs through the way that they’re played and also by the urgency with which the songs spring to life. That kind of urgency is what I’ve always aimed for in songwriting: just getting it all out as fast as you can and hoping not to think about it too much.

Shit Present
Another huge influence on our songwriting have been Shit Present. They’re just a brilliant band with really honest and catchy songs about some pretty depressing things, which is always what we’ve been trying to channel. If you’re not somehow getting something halfway true or real into what you’re doing then I’m not sure what the point is.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Along with the Mountain Goats, this is a pretty white male choice of an influence, which I can accept. I also can accept the massive, massive flaws of this book and of DFW as a writer and of the sort of people who appreciate his work. However, I do really like Infinite Jest and it’s ok to have problematic favourites, if you can acknowledge and absorb those flaws. In terms of inspiration, it’s just some of the sentences that sort of unveil the lurking, latent horrors that exist behind our everyday modern existence and that’s had a pretty huge influence on the songs, lyrically speaking.

ONSIND and Martha
Both ONSIND and Martha, in their own separate ways, had a huge influence on the band. ONSIND, both sound-wise and lyrically, are a band we’ve taken a lot from, me and Max having watched them for the first time while quite hammered at the Deadpunk All Dayer after the 2015 General Election. This was at a pretty formative time for us as a band (we were only really writing songs together and playing them to no one) and so it’s hard not to thank them enough for the innumerable, tiny ways their music influenced us.

Ursula K Le Guin
This probably has no musical analogue that I can shoehorn in but one of my favourite novelists, Ursula K Le Guin, passed away this week and I’ve been thinking about her work ever since. It’s kind of everything I think good art should be: imaginative, political, feminist, expansive, good-hearted and warm. Also, science-fiction and fantasy as a whole have been pretty influential on me in the last few years and all influences seep into what you do somehow or another.

Camp Cope
While we were recording Call in Sick I hadn’t listened to any Camp Cope, but they’re influencing what we’re writing now pretty damn heavily, which is unavoidable because they’re one of the best punk bands going right now and just utterly inspirational humans.

Jake & the Jellyfish
Without getting sentimental, growing up around my brother’s music had a pretty huge influence on what Toodles ended up becoming (which people have noticed). Not just their music but the bands they played with ended up being bands I heard, which then got me into the punk and DIY scenes and so on. And they’re getting better and better and their new record is probably my favourite yet. Also embarrassingly my younger sister is the person who recommended almost every band I’ve ever liked to me. Family is good!

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This is the book that woke me up to reading and then by extension art and music. It’s funny and sad and simple. Also as a person I’ve found Kurt Vonnegut more interesting as I get older. Our heroes end up disappointing us, and there’s plenty to dislike with Vonnegut, but something I always think about is in his collected letters he so frequently talks about how he perceives himself as failing; how he believes that he’s probably never going to produce anything good ever again; how he, for so long, wrote novels in evenings after a grueling and uninspiring job. And he only went on to be recognised as one of the great American novelists. I find that heartwarming.

The Bristol Scene
We would not be the band we are or maybe even a band at all without the Bristol community, specifically the community surrounding the Exchange and other independent venues, and labels like Specialist Subject Records and Invisible Llama Music. It’s easy to forget that creating a welcoming scene that encourages young musicians and music-lovers from all kinds of backgrounds — to not just come and watch but to participate and make their own art — is the only way that the music scene and venues as we know it are going to survive and grow. This isn’t specific to Bristol, but that’s just where we happen to live, and the community that have taken us under their wing are pretty much the only reason we’re doing anything and sometimes it feels like they contribute more to the music we play than we do.

Checkout Toodles & The Hectic Pity on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Album Review: Modern Slave by Scavenger's Lunch

Scavenger's Lunch are a new pop punk band based in Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. Last month they released their debut EP titled Modern Slave via Bredda Records. The band state on their social media that they are influenced by bands such as The Flatliners, The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers. They are favourites at Colin's Punk Rock World so would Scavenger's Lunch become another of our favourite bands too?

Modern Slave begins with an introduction track named Stampede. This is a mostly instrumental track save for a shout of "let's go!". It's up-tempo and really gets you amped for the EP to start properly. It does that on the next song, River. This is a melodic punk rock song that begins with some very energetic guitars and some hard hitting drums before the vocals kick in. The chorus is where the real strength of this song lies. It's one that you'll learn quickly and will be singing along with soon after. In The Van is the title of the third song and is a track about longing to be tour and not living the standard life. I was caught by surprise when I first listened to the song as in the middle of what is another melodic pop punk song Scavenger's Hunt slipped in ska verse. This sounds kind of strange but it works brilliantly.

The fourth song is named Sinking Ship and is again another song which has a brilliant intro. What impressed me immediately is the tempo that lead singer Daniel Megyimori sings with during the track. It's up-tempo but also doesn't feel like he's rushing. Sinking Ship is about taking charge of your life after being stuck on a downward path. The guitars at the beginning of Keep Moving On have a bit of emo about them and also remind me of The Movielife. What drew me in first on Keep Moving On was the punchy melody that the vocals are delivered with. The track feels much more upbeat that anything else so far on Modern Slave and defintiely falls into the more pop punk umbrella of the band's sound. The penultimate song is actually an interlude. It felt kind of strange for the second to last song to be an instrumental interlude but it's a masterful display of musicianship so I it enjoyed nonetheless. Finally we have the EP's title track Modern Slave to round things off. Modern Slave is one of the heavier sounding songs on the EP with an almost ominous tone at the start of the track. It's about being chained to your screens and forgetting to actually live your life and being yourself. It feels as if this is something that Daniel is extremely passionate about in the way that he sings the song.

Modern Slaves is a strong debut EP from Scavenger's Lunch. It shows a great deal of promise in songwriting and it's obvious these four guys are very skilled musicians as well. At times the production on the EP isn't the best and it's a little hard to hear what's going on but that never prevented my enjoyment of the music.

Stream and download Mordern Slave here:

Like Scavenger's Lunch on Facebook here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Album Review: Rides Again by Abandon The Midwest

Normally when we at Colin's Punk Rock World feature a band as 'Band Of The Week' we don't review their recent release. This is so that we don't go overboard on one band as we like to share the CPRW love around. Sometimes you have to make exceptions though. I'm doing this for Abandon The Midwest. The Orlando based pop punk band released a new EP titled Rides Again back in November and it's been on constant rotation at CPRW HQ. I just had to share it with everyone again.

The first track on the EP is one of my favourites of 2017. It's the excellent Cemeteries. From the outset this is that croaky voiced sing along punk rock music that I just adore. In what I think is a bit of a masterstroke Cemeteries begins with the chorus, this hooked me in immediately and I was soon singing along. Of course with music like this, there are gang vocals a plenty and this really adds to my enjoyment of the song. The song is about growing apart from someone as you get older and them only wanting you in their life when they need something. Amy is a short one minute and twenty-four second long song about a ghost named Amy who does some haunting. Abandon The Midwest question whether the stories of Amy are true or are just urban myths. The song features plenty of fantastic harmonies that accompany a catchy chorus. The third song on Rides Again is named Wolfman. I believe this song is about thinking your friend is putting on a front. I think the song in inspired by the saying "never trust a wolf in sheep's clothing." The chorus on the song is a true fist pumping anthem that will get a live crowd shouting loud and proud.

Alone At Last Call is a really sad song title. This song is about realising that you're drinking too much and the self-destruction that it's causing in your life. Abandon The Midwest lead vocalist Matt's throaty vocal seems more stretched than on the previous songs, perhaps indicating that he is singing with more emotion on Alone At Last Call. Something I've noticed about all of Abandon The Midwest's songs so far is that they like to start a song with a big sing along moment that really hooks the listener. The penultimate song on Rides Again is named Bigfoot. Bigfoot starts out at a fantastic tempo giving the song a huge amount of energy straight away. The song is about searching for someone who doesn't exist, using plenty of creatures of urban myth as metaphors such as yetis, the loch ness monster, mermaids and, of course, the aforementioned bigfoot. These metaphors really add an element of fun to the song and show off some great songwriting skills. Rides Again is concluded with the song Stayin' In. I'm always of the belief that the last song on a release needs to be a big hitter to leave the listener just thinking "WOW! What did I just listen to!?" Stayin' In does just that. It doesn't really do much different to the previous five songs on the EP but features a big finale that's loaded full of some exquisite harmonies. A fantastic way to finish a great release.

This throaty voiced sing-a-long pop punk phase of pop punk continues to get bigger and bigger with more and more bands putting out incredible releases in the style. Rides Again has to be a must-listen-to EP for fans of the genre. Abandon The Midwest are one of the best new discoveries I've had over the past year and I can see them continuing to grow and grow.

Stream and download Rides Again here:

Like Abandon The Midwest here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Album Review: These Fast Times by These Fast Times

These Fast Times are a four piece punk rock band from Montreal, Canada. Yup, we're featuring another Canadian band. The band, which consists of Jeffery Vuorela (guitar/vocals), Ryan Kennedy (drums), Jason Bellefontaine (bass/vocals) and Thomas Kolofsky (lead guitar) formed in 2014. I recently discovered their debut EP via Bandcamp and loved it. It was released back in February of 2016 so I thought it might be quite late to review it. But then I discovered that they are working on their debut album which will be released on Thousand Island Records and decided I would review the EP to get people warmed up for the album. Plus I really like this EP.

The self titled EP starts with the song Jealousy. The song begins with nice piece of guitar work before some soft vocals come in. The song slowly builds and before long the vocals swap and we get a more intenese stlye of vocal. This swap works perfectly giving the song a very interesting feeling to it. It's about the naysayers in your life who act negatively towards your life because it's different to theirs. The combination of the vocals on the song are just superb. I don't know enough hyperboles to really do them justice. Up next is a track named Simon. Starting with a reasonably lengthy guitar based intro, it feels much more like a rock song than Jealousy did. Of course it is the dual vocals that steal the show, I feel like they might on the entire release. The song has a great, positive message about going out there and doing the things you love and not worrying about things. The song also features a lovely guitar solo that all the 80s hair metal fans will adore. The third song is an up-tempo number named Move Along. Bellefontaine's fast basslines really drive the song on as the rest of the instruments do a fantastic job of keeping up. The vocals on the track are mostly of the intense style. This works brilliantly on the faster track.

Up next for These Fast Times is the song Epic. With a song title like that it's got much to live up to. Much like Jealousy it starts slowly with the softer vocal before gradually building towards the more intense. With the jangly guitars on the song and the slow paced shout-a-long chorus there is a hint of Iron Chic about the song - that's never ever a bad thing. This is the song that I can see be especially well received at a These Fast Times gig. The breakdown, which is first lead by the bass and then joined by some emotional sounding guitars, builds wonderfully towards one last big chorus. On the penultimate song Midnight Bellefontaines bass gets to open things up. I'm happy to hear the bass being so evident on these tracks as it can often be overlooked. Midnight is the most poppy song on the EP, with only one vocalist this time. The pace with which the softer vocals are delivered is upped and there is a feeling of nostalgia around the sound of the song. Finally we have the massive sounding Where Have You Been to complete the EP. This song is epic from its beginning to its end. From the opening piano, to the big choruses, the whoa-ohs and the huge finale, the song just feels gigantic. I really want to see these song played live. I think it would be incredible in a small bar as well as at a big event. It's just one of those special songs that need listening to.

This EP is so bloody good. I'm sad I was so slow to discovering it. I'm now so excited to hear These Fast Times debut. I have high expectations for it.

Stream and download These Fast Times here:

Like These Fast Times here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Album Review: You Used to Be a Safe Place by Shoreline (by Robyn Pierce)

Happy 2018, everybody! For my first review of the year, I’ll be considering the debut EP from melodic punk band Shoreline. The EP is entitled You Used to Be a Safe Place and was released on 19 January via Uncle M Music. Shoreline hail from Münster in Germany and, although they’ve been around since 2015 and seem to have toured quite a bit in that time, this is their first commercial release. Just at a glance, this record is beautifully packaged. The EP comes on 12 inch black vinyl with a white or gold screen printed image on the B-side. The album art is really well done, with a bird and a hand appearing on both the cover and the B-side artwork. The hand seems to symbolize the place where it was once safe to perch, but which now seeks to restrict the little bird.

The EP begins with the song ‘Sad Kids to the Front’ and drops straight into a foot-tapping, head-bopping guitar hook. What I’m most taken by on my first listen are the vocals coming from the band’s primary singer, Hansol Seung. Seung’s vocals are almost operatic at times, but also gravelly and warmly textured. As expected, the song has a great melody and awesome energy, which is why the song’s focus on ‘sadness’, or the energy-sapping numbness of depression, is a little surprising. But the song suggests a head-on approach to this issue, which would get sad kids out of hiding and to the front of the show. ‘Sad Kids to the Front’ is a really captivating opening track which compels you to listen to the rest of the EP.

Next up is ‘Recovery’, featuring fellow Münster-based band Idle Class. This song opens with a syncopated drum beat and some exhilarating guitar chords that have me dancing immediately. It’s another high-energy track that includes some fantastic time changes. It’s fitting that Shoreline chose to collaborate with a band from their home town on this song, as ‘Recovery’ is all about the comfort of home and the space home provides for rest and recuperation. ‘Breakfast (at 5p.m.)’ starts more simply with a single guitar and vocals, giving the song a raw and emotionally-charged feeling. The full band then comes in and the song blossoms into a mid-tempo meditation on a failed relationship, with some soaring gang vocals and a rich, raucous ending.

What I’ve realised by this point in the album, is that Shoreline bring an uplifting and vibrant sound to some difficult and serious subject matter in their song writing. The last song on the EP, entitled ‘Silent Friend’, confirms this theory. It’s still mid-tempo, but is longer than the other songs on the release and initially more stripped down. Seung sings about a lack of confidence and the sort of social anxiety that so many people experience, including the lines “And I hesitate to be myself around you, because I fucked up so many times before. You will get sick of me, I know that for sure”. But, as with the rest of this release, the song is still really joyous. And, as though in a bid to prove him wrong, the other band members soon join in with Seung and lend some supportive ‘woahs’ to the song.

Shoreline’s You Used to Be a Safe Place is a fantastic EP – engaging and highly enjoyable right from the first listen. Even though these songs deal with some of the dark and swirling undertones of everyday life, they’re so danceable. Be sure to give this excellent EP a listen.

You can order You Used To Be A Safe Place here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Album Review: Dance The Night Away by Jungleproof

I may have mentioned this once or twice since July but the ska punk festival known as Level Up, which took place at the New Cross Inn last year, was just superb. One of the things I loved about it was the amount of bands that came over from mainland Europe to play the festival. One of the bands who came other were Belgian's Jungleproof who played a great mix of ska and skate punk. They were also the first ska band I've ever seen to play a small tuba, so that was pretty cool. Last September (I'm way late with this one) the band released their long awaited debut album Dance The Night Away. I put on my dancing shoes and got ready to review the album.

Dance The Night Away begins with the song Look At Me. On Jungleproof's Facebook page their sound is described as "think Less Than Jake, but more furious, think NOFX, but more horns." Look At Me definitely falls into the NOFX side of that description. It's an immensely positive song about finding the strength to be whoever you want to be and not worrying about what others think. The brass section really comes into play on the next song, On Repeat. The intro to the song had me dancing in my chair immediately with Jungleproof's brass section really showing off their considerable talent. The track is about being stuck in a job where you feel trapped and wanting to go out and grab life by the horns. I loved how the song becomes more positive as it goes on. Around the halfway point of the track there is a fantastic musical breakdown that leads brilliantly into the final chorus. Up next is the album's title track and one that I can remember them playing at Level Up Festival. Dance The Night Away is a song that takes the term ska punk quite literally with clear sections of ska and punk. This contrast works so well with a superbly skankable verse and then a high energy punk rock chorus that's guaranteed to be opening up the best circle pits. This is good and ties in perfectly with what the song is about, encouraging a live crowd to dance with the band. Great song. The fourth track is titled Adrenaline and it features a great building start before a surprising scream of "YEAAAHHHH!" After the reasonably chilled out ska section this scream really wakes you up. Adrenaline is a hugely skankable song about needing to live on the edge to get the most out of your life, no matter the danger that this might present.

Warning Song is a song about parenthood and how much you love your child. It's an extremely sweet ska song and with super cute lyrics. You can't help but smile listening to the song and even the hardest of punk rockers' hearts will melt as the track goes on. The song has plenty of upbeat summer vibes about it. I can just imagine a room full of punks singing this song in dedication for their children - and their children being super embarrassed by it. The sixth song on Dance The Night Away is called One Third and it starts out with a great headbanging moment. I like how the song clearly has different melodies and tempos for its different sections. It gives you things to listen out for and will get you dancing all manor always during a Jungleproof gig. Romantic Song starts out with some guitars that sound a bit surf rocky before launching into another excellent brass part that loads the song with energy. Interestingly, just when I thought things were really going to take off, when the vocals come in everything slows down and lead singer Ronald Stassen comes in with the lines "I've Got A Winner In Me, That's What She Said Last Night." The song is full of cheeky and risqué lyrics about being in bed with your partner. The immature man-child that I am got a kick out of this and it had me smiling the whole way through. Following this is the track Not Tonight. This song continues the theme of sex. It's about how when a man is first dating a woman she makes him wait to get to the bedroom, so then the man turns it around and makes his woman wait and then gets dumped. This is a bouncy upbeat ska number that is impossible to remain stationary to.

Ocarina Of Schwein is a short instrumental piece played by alto saxophonist Gijs Ramakers on the ocarina. I laughed out loud (LOL if you're trendy and down with the kids) at Jungleproof's Bandcamp page where they have the lyrics listed for this song as "hoo hoo hoo hoo, woo woo hooo waa" etc. After this brief calming moment we have the swashbuckling Medieval Ska. This sounds like Jungleproof's take on the genre of pirate punk with the brass section taking us on one merry adventure. The track takes us on a fantasy adventure through time and makes us think about the mistakes our ancestors have made before us and how we're not learning from the past. The penultimate song is Bitch Of The Band. This track is another that falls much more in the punk rock side of the ska punk genre. Starting out with a deep, rumbling bass line and then some aggressive brass, we find ourselves with a song about being the most disrespected member of the band. The chorus here is great. The vocals find their way into emo and screamo territory and you will no doubt find yourself singing them for days and days. The final song on Dance The Night Away is Relax. Relax is not the word I would use to desribe the opening of the song - it's fast paced. It's like Jungleproof are trying to get every last piece of themselves out on the record. The track is about feeling like you're always busy and struggling to find time to relax.

Dance The Night Away was one of the best ska punk albums of 2017. It manages to blend everything I love about the genres of ska and punk and bring them together perfectly. No one track sounds the same and there are some great messages along with plenty of moments that made me laugh. Jungleproof are a fantastic band from the mainland who I would love to see back in the UK doing many more shows.

Stream and download Dance The Night Away here:

Like Jungleproof here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Top Tens: Mike H from Müg & Umlaut Records' Top Ten Bands He Would Love To Book

So this one is firmly grounded in reality. I came across these girls about 18 months back. Took me ages to see them live but once I did I was freaking hooked. 2 woman outfit with rocking layered guitar riffs and a drum groove to die for (of course being a drummer myself thats where my love lay). Recently signed to Marshall Records and releasing their first full length any day now (at time of writing this), I’d love to set these two up on stage with the Strange Planes. That would be rock 'n' roll heaven.

What 30 something doesn’t want to put these up. I had a tape of a tape of a tape I nicked from my older brother of Punk in Drublic way back when. Used to sit huddled in the corner hitting out the drums on my legs until they went blue. Purely to satisfy my curiosity, I’d want to hang out with the band after their set and listen to stories of old. Support from OAHTN and just see Chico drool over smelly’s double time.

Foo Fighters
Again not a punk band as such but come on. The freaking Foos are just so damn good. I’d sit there drinking coffee with Grohl, talk to Smear about his Germs days, ya man Chris Shiflett about NUFAN. So much history and charisma in this band. I’d like to see Dowzer on this one. Those guys can rock as hard as anyone and Remy drunk drumming is almost as good as Dave’s.

Thinking back to when I played my first ever show. Sports Hall in Leytonstone having being playing the bass for about 4 days. Lazily ran through Ska Sucks and Hallie Salasse, Up Your Ass to 6 people. I'd like to bring 15yr old Mike along for the one and let him tweak out on how far the band has come. Also this has FastFade written all over it.

There was a time when every Friday it seemed you would have Capdown at the Astoria supporting either The Vandals, Ataris or jamming with Vanilla Pod. Was so stoked to catch them at Podstock a few years back in Norwich and since they were my favourite band of my late teens how could I not include them in this list?

Now I've played in a few bands. Firstly on bass for many years before turning to drums with Müg. But nearly every outfit I’ve done has been largely influenced by the Bill and Frank combo of drums and bass. Having seen these guys a bunch in bigger venues, I’d want to bring them back into an intimate room. 100 people all screaming “I want to be stereotyped, I want to be classified” before the inevitable whiplash ensues. Who’s on support??? Oh its gonna be Müg for this one, right?!

1999, 14 years old and Transworld Media release its 8th Skate vid “Feedback”. There was as always a heavy MOBY presense on the soundtrack but the Aarto Saari section was cut perfectly to Styrofoam but Fugazi. Just like Iron Maiden worked so well with Jamie Thomas in Welcome to Hell, this got me hooked on Ian Mackye and the whole Dischord movement. I may not share the same values as him, but the green room would be an education on Washington punk rock and history. Burnt Tapes would make this purely wonderful.

You know them? Even if you don’t, you do!! Jackass bastardised one hell of a groove for its theme tune (Corona from DOUBLE NICKLES ON THE DIME). This choice is purely fantasy as D.Boon died back in 85 leaving George Hurley and Mike Watt to go and form Firehose before the latter played with Iggy Pop. I’d just be stage side watching each of these dudes do their thing. Wouldn't talk, wouldn't have support – just 3 hours of the freaking Minutemen.

So much like Capdown at the Astoria, Mouthwash seemed in my head to always be at the Harlow Square through the early 00s. They were a beautiful blend of hip hop, ska, punk and poetry that, at the time, hadn't been overplayed and overused. These guys were friends with a lot of my older brother's crowd so I only ever heard stories of the multiple cancelled gigs due to illicit goings on but man when you caught them live they were mind blowing. I had 1000 Dreams on loop for years shouting out the lyrics on the train to work. Eat Defeat opening? Mouthwash closing? Bring back the Harlow square and let's set this shit up.

Give You Nothing
So for those of you who have followed since Easter 2016, Give You Nothing were one of the first bands we ever released. Your Revolution is a brilliant, well written homage to the likes of Bad Religion and Firehose (read earlier how I love Firehose). The catch with these lads is that they are all the way over in Santa Cruz so getting them to come and play over here is a bitch. But one day, you never know. With them here I'd get the entire family in one venue and have a once in a lifetime entire Umlaut roster party.

Like Müg here:

Like Umlaut Records here: