Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Album Review: 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything by Jake Martin (by Emma Prew)

Jake Martin is a Brighton-based DIY singer songwriter who plays songs that could loosely be described as ‘acoustic folk punk’. I heard about him and his new EP thanks to an email from Aaahh!!! Real Records via Bandcamp (You know those emails you get because you’ve previously bought something from that label or band but really should turn off because you get loads of them… except sometimes you discover gems like these!). Jake Martin wasn’t a name I was familiar with but I was instantly drawn in by the artwork – clearly the work of Dan Allen – and soon discovered that his sound was right up my street.

1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything is a four track EP and the first of those four songs is called May Your Venue Never Die. This is a song that I think, if you’re reading this blog, you will or at least should wholeheartedly agree with and believe in. May Your Venue Never Die is about not wanting to lose another independent music venue to corporate giants and property developers – something that is happening all too often across the UK. So the subject matter certainly had me hooked but what about the music? The song starts out with some simple acoustic guitar but before too long there’s some violin and banjo thrown in as well – the violin actually has a striking solo part that precedes the chorus. I wasn’t sure if this EP was simply going to be purely solo acoustic guy (yes, I stole that from Gaz Brookfield) so, although that would have been fine by me, I was pleasantly surprised to find more going on. The banjo is probably my favourite of the folkier instruments so the start of the second song, Mountains, immediately had my attention. The gentle melody had me nodding along as I took in the words – by this point I’m well aware of and enjoying the great messages and stories that are delivered in Jake Martin’s songs. Mountains is about how we can quite easily get used to our standard everyday life – working to pay the bills and put food on the table, sitting on the sofa in the evening, etc. but never really ‘living’ – without thinking about what we could actually have or do if we wanted to. We can move mountains if we want to. After the second verse, what was a moderately paced track is injected with a energy in the form of an instrumental breakdown. With this comes an increase in volume and a singalong bridge that really is the highlight of the song – ‘If you’re not pissed off, It’s time to listen.’ Although it did instantly remind me of some very similar lyrics from King’s Lynn ska punk band Faintest Idea – that said, the sentiment is still true whichever voice is singing in.

The first two songs on 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything tackled some fairly important subjects but did so in an uplifting and positive manor. The third song, To All The Ones I Love, is by contrast a somewhat sad but honest outpouring. To All The Ones I Love is about feeling like you’re, of your own choosing, far away from your friends and people that you care about and wanting to let them know you’re sorry for all the times they have been let down by you. Jake sings of how he’s often only ‘home’ for a short period of time and in that time he is most likely still attached to his guitar. The instruments manage to retain a brightness that contrasts with Jake’s words and mean that the song doesn’t simple become a downhearted and sombre tune. The song’s subject made me properly stop and think about how difficult it must be to have a ‘normal life’ whilst also being a touring DIY musician. I’m so grateful that musicians like Jake do what they do so that people like me can enjoy hearing their songs live – I’m almost certain I couldn’t hack it myself so thank you. Finishing off the EP is a song titled We Sing The Words All Wrong. From that title and the opening chords of the song, I was anticipating that this was going to be a fine closing song – hopefully with a singalong element to it. I was not at all disappointed. The song progresses steadily with the level of passion in Jake’s vocals increasing as well as the volume. I’m often reluctant to mention Frank Turner in reviews of anything vaguely acoustic-based as I feel like that can often be a cop-out comparison to make. However, We Sing The Words All Wrong definitely has a bit of a Ballad Of Me And My Friends old school Turner feel to it and I’m all for that (especially when I’m not so fussed about Mr Turner anymore). The bridge says it all – ‘Won’t you sing from your heart, Or never sing again.’ Oh and the whole song is definitely one big singalong, complete with whoa-ohs. Perfect punk rock, acoustic or otherwise.

1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything is available to stream and download on the Aaahh!!! Real Records Bandcamp page now and you can also find Jake Martin on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Album Review: Canadian Businessman by Canadian Businessman

It's always nice when a fantastic release comes out of nowhere. That was certainly the case for new Manchester based band Canadian Businessman. The three piece, formed of Stand Out Riot's Tessa, Ben and Francis released their debut self titled EP just before Easter to little fanfare. Being a fan of Stand Out Riot I previewed it immediately and was gobsmacked by how good it is. It jumped right to the top of my review list.

While Stand Out Riot play a unique mix of ska, punk and gypsy music, Canadian Businessman is a straight up punk band. As in Stand Out Riot Ben plays the drums but for Canadian Businessman Tessa swaps her violin for a bass guitar and Francis swaps his trombone for a guitar. Francis and Tessa also share vocal duties. Now we've got that important information out of the way, let's get on with the review!

The opening track is titled Original and begins in a fantastically upbeat way. I'm actually reminded of Francis's other band, Leagues Apart, as there is that dirty sing-a-long punk rock sound to the song. Francis takes the lead on the song with Tessa supplying some fantastic harmonies throughout. Original is a positive sounding song about reassuring yourself that despite everything it's going to be alright. As you would expect, the chorus is brilliantly catchy and it won't be long until you're singing along quite gleefully. I loved the breakdown section where Francis and Tessa trade off vocals along with a bass solo before building to the finish. Next up is the song Giant which starts off in a relatively heavy fashion before Tessa's vocals come in. Even after years of listening to Stand Out Riot, I'd never realised just what a beautiful vocal she has. It's great that she's given the chance shine here. Francis comes back in for the chorus and the pair display some awesome harmonies once again. The song has a pretty lengthy outro with some high energy buzzsaw guitars ending the song with some aplomb.

Holes reminds me of a more upbeat Above Them. This is honestly one of my favourite songs of the year so far. There's a chugging stop start to the song before an intense Francis comes in with some of the most intense and urgent vocals on the EP. There is a section in the song where the vocals become distorted alongside the guitars to create an interesting sound. This leads to the song's big highlight at the end of the track - a big gang vocal finale where everyone can sing-a-long! The EP finishes off with Warm Welcome. This track is one where the band show off what a great bunch of musicians they are thanks to some fantastic solos throughout the song with Francis's guitar playing in particular standing out. Tessa again handles lead vocal duties beautifully as she sings a song about not feeling as welcome in a scene as you first thought you were. The three part harmonies towards the end of the song, as the band sing the line "I've never felt so cold", are excellent. The layering is incredible. A fantastic way to end such a great EP.

When we get to December and we start thinking about what our favourite releases of the year are I'm expecting Canadian Businessman to feature quite highly in mine. This is so good. I hope there are plans in the works to play these songs live at some point and that band do some more bits like this.

Like Canadian Businessman here: https://www.facebook.com/canadianbusinessman/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Gig Review: Popes Of Chillitown Album Launch Show at New Cross Inn 11/5/18

2018 could go down in history as the year ska punk made its big comeback. Legends such as Random Hand and Lightyear are back at it, Sonic Boom Six are still wowing crowds all around the UK, Call Me Malcolm have just put out what's potentially the best ska punk album of the past ten years, The Bar Stool Preachers have a new album imminent that I'm hearing great things about and I have a feeling we also might see something new from Faintest Idea before the year ends. London based band the Popes Of Chillitown are the band that I think are leading this new wave of ska punk bands into this exciting new era. The Popes have just released a brand new album titled Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard which has been getting rave reviews – check out what Dan Peters had to say about it here. To celebrate this release the Popes, with the help of Be Sharp Promotions, threw an album launch show at the New Cross Inn. The Popes are renowned for being an incredible live band so Emma and I were very excited for the gig.

The first band of the night were just about to get started when we arrived at the New Cross. Codename Colin are a band I've been trying to see for a while now, since I came across their excellent cover of Feeder's classic Just A Day on the YouTube. They play some fantastic ska pop punk that is full of energy and will get even the saddest of people smiling. Codename Colin also had some exciting news for the people who got down to New Cross early – they've won a competition to play Slam Dunk South at the end of the month. This is a great opportunity, well done gentlemen. We only actually had two thirds of Codename Colin in attendance for the gig as two of the horn players unfortunately couldn't make it. That however did not stop Codename Colin putting on a fun show. Mostly playing songs from their debut EP Outgunned, they soon got the crowd warmed up nicely with the tracks Declan and Losing Touch standing out. On Declan in particular I was reminded a bit of Operation Ivy's Jesse Michaels when Codename Colin's lead singer, Charlie Gabriel, sang. In a live setting these songs definitely pack a bit more of a punch than the recorded versions. It's not a ska punk support band without a cover or two and Codename Colin dutifully obliged with fun covers of Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time and Five's Keep On Moving, both of which went down really well with the crowd. If you're off to Slam Dunk South this year be sure to check out Codename Colin. They're also back at New Cross in July for Level Up Festival.

Up next were a band I knew very, very little about however Be Sharp Promotions Paul Smith was very excited to see them. He spent a good portion of time telling my why 3dbs Down were the best band ever and even stating that Be Sharp wouldn't even exist without them. He also told me that 3dbs Down play melodic punk rock with hints of ska. He didn't tell me that the band featured three lead singers who deliver some of the best harmonies I've seen in years. Musically, of course 3dbs Down were fantastic but what I really fell in love with was the vocals. I adore bands that have multiple singers. Very often it's a case of one of the singers sings the entirety of a song and the other singers do the same on other songs. That's not the case for 3dbs Down. They take turns in doing verses, lines and choruses on their tracks and it works so well. The vocals complement each other brilliantly and give so much life to their songs. The four piece from Gravesend only play a couple of shows each year so catching them live is a real treat. It also makes me feel less bad that I've never seen them before, as I can't remember the last time I saw a band without ever listening to them before and being so impressed. 3dbs Down absolutely ruled and I fully understand just why Paul was so excited.

The main support act of the evening were The Foamers. This long running band would now be playing to a huge New Cross crowd who seemed just as excited to see them as they were the Popes Of Chillitown. The Foamers formed in 1996 and split in 2004 gaining a tonne of passionate fans along the way. They've since reformed and play shows here and there, including a slot at Level Up Festival last year. That was my first time seeing them and I thought they were great. This time they were even better! The crowd loved them and skanked, moshed and sang throughout their whole set. Combining street punk and ska to brilliant effect, the four piece played a set that could easily have been thought of as a headline set. All bands should put as much into their set as The Foamers did no matter what their position on the line up is. So many people have such fond memories of the Household Name/Golf Records era of punk and ska in the UK and it's such a treat to still have the opportunity to see those bands every now and then. I've no doubt that The Foamers played a big part in influencing many of today's skacore bands and I just think it's great the band still come out and play shows.

If the gig had finished with The Foamers I'm sure the now packed New Cross Inn would have gone home happy but we still had the evening's headliners still to play. The Popes Of Chillitown are big favourites in South London so it was only right that their album launch party was at the New Cross Inn. The big crowd gathered around the front of the stage in anticipation for something special happening. And for the next hour that's what they got. You'll have to forgive my lack of knowledge on the new album as I wanted to hear it live before I listened to it properly. Plus my memory of the song order is a little fuzzy, as I just stood in awe of this awesome band. I believe that they started the set with a handful of songs from Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard that immediately had the floor of the New Cross vibrating because of the high intensity skanking that was taking place. It had me slightly worrying how much more this floor could take! The Popes are one of the most watchable bands in the UK scene. They are effortlessly slick along with having seemingly an endless amount of energy. This only amps the crowd up even more and, as the set progresses, things only get rowdier and rowdier. It was great seeing the new tracks getting the same amount of love as the old favourites. Whilst the band were playing To The Moon we were treated to a new extended version where they blow the power and do a little improv crowd chanting before the power gets fixed and they play the song all other again. I'm sure this was all supposed to happen. If you've not seen the Popes yet then you are really missing out. There aren't many better live bands in the UK and there isn't a single band like them sonically. They take ska, punk, reggae, dub and some hip hop, put it in the blender with some relentless energy and have mixed together a whirlwind of a sound that cannot be ignored. On the basis of this album launch show, I can see Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard being a big catalyst in pushing the Popes Of Chillitown to big things.

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

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Top Tens: Jim & Dan from Reuther's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Jim's List:

My uncle inspired me to play guitar, but this band made me want to start a band of my own. Really, I think it was the theatrics of Kiss that caught my attention more so than the music. My young self would frequently day-dream of being Ace Frehley playing guitar solos on stage. When I started middle school, I convinced my parents to buy me tickets for their concert.

Sum 41
This band was my gateway into punk music. I was a little too young to appreciate Green Day when Dookie came out, and still didn't have the attention span to explore more than the radio hits when Blink dropped Enema. When Sum 41 released All Killer No Filler I was hooked and listened to that record almost constantly front to back. I use to skateboard with my friends and have that album going. From there I started to dive deeper into punk music.

The Loved Ones
Dave Hause is one of my favorite songwriters. When I discovered The Loved Ones, I was hooked. Everything from the lyrics to the guitar riffs are weighted in meaning. Plus they're one of those pop punk bands that's not overly produced which makes them standout in a world of overproduction.

The Suicide Machines
I have to throw love to The Suicide Machines. I was really into punk/ska music in high school, and while they weren't my gateway into the scene they sure provided the soundtrack to many nights. With them being from our hometown of Detroit, it made it even more inspiring to see them out there touring and making records. Their shows are always packed and so much fun.

Against Me!
I feel like Against Me! is one of those bands that everyone can agree on. The first track I heard was "You Look Like I Need A Drink" from a Fat Wreck E-Card that a friend sent me. I had never heard a band like them before and remember being blown away by the intensity. The music is just raw and honest, and would inspire anyone pick up a guitar and write a song of their own.

Dan's List:

The Flatliners
I remember I first saw The Flatliners around 2005 after they released Destroy to Create. I was in a band at the time that was opening for them at a VFW Hall – I was immediately hooked. Such tenacity, such energy. I picked up that record and it most definitely honed how I wanted to play, both as a member of a band and a drummer, if that makes sense? It’s been amazing being able to hear their progression through the years, resulting in their best record and one of my favorite records of all time, Cavalcade. Even though they've outgrown their older sound and I miss it, I'm really optimistic for their career to continue. The drumming of Paul Ramirez alone is enough to make this band #1 on my list.

Less Than Jake
These guys were my first favorite band. I forget who it was exactly that gave me the record Losing Streak, but god damn, the first song alone was enough for me. Just poppy, catchy, energetic – I had to have more. I literally became obsessed with knowing everything about the band – collecting every record, knowing what the lyrics all meant, their Pez obsession, etc. I remember seeing them for the first time in early 2006 and every single expectation I had was met and exceeded. Years later, I've been able to share the stage with them numerous times and put out records on their labels. Safe to say my younger self would be quite pleased with my older self.

No Doubt
Say what you will about ND, but they changed the game when it came to mainstream rock. When Tragic Kingdom came out and dominated the charts, it was a surprise to some people, I'm sure. This came out when I was pretty young, but I managed to hear it and get a copy – it really just hit all the notes I wanted to hear and some I didn't even know I wanted, but loved anyway. It definitely had something to do with my initial love of ska, before I even know what that was.

The Suicide Machines
"But Dan, Don't you play in a band with Jay?" Yes, this is true. That really doesn't stop TSM from being one of my all time favorite bands. I feel TSM had an interesting evolution in their sound and presence throughout their career, which really just means they have something for everyone. Do you like fast, poppy ska punk? Go ahead and give Destruction By Definition a spin. Harder punk? Battle Hymns. Political punk? War Profiteering. It's really been great to share the stage with these guys so often and just lends to how much of an inspiration they've been. I remember first getting my hands on Destruction By Definition in High School and was just blown away that there was a band (from Detroit, no less) that hit every mark for what I wanted to hear at that time. Since then, they've been in the regular rotation.

Green Day
I feel like this doesn't really need a huge explanation. For a band to hit the mainstream with such an important album as Dookie and then remain relevant and popular to this day is certainly saying a lot. I first heard Dookie from my older brother who bought it – it took a few years for me to actually understand how amazing this record was and then that just led me to their subsequent albums which I still have on regular rotation. It really doesn't get more classic than that album. Their most recent years of music aren't exactly my favorite, but it's just very impressive they're still able to pull it after all these years.

Stream and download Reuther's new album Like A Ghost here, like them here and check out our review of the album here.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Album Review: Back From Hell by Satanic Surfers (by Dan Peters)

There are a handful of albums in each of our lives that changed the course of that life forever. Perfect storms of melody, tone and content that speaks to us like nothing else and becomes something we define ourselves by. For me one of those albums was Hero Of Our Time by the Satanic Surfers. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this fact many a time but it never hurts to say it again – Satanic Surfers are a band that I hold incredibly dear to my heart and are one of the first on my lips when people ask about my all time favourite music. I write these intro paragraphs before listening to albums and it’s with great trepidation I once again, after 12 years away, get to put on a new Satanic Surfers album. Back From Hell is their brand new fresh-off-the-press album and my heart is hoping for an album of the year contender. Let's see.

Back From Hell is a masterpiece of skate punk beauty that takes everything I already loved about the band and amps it up to 11. The end.

Ok, so maybe I’ll give you a little more. Back From Hell is both incredibly raw and yet far better quality than everything that has come before. I’ve grown up with SS albums and can say for sure that this is the best they’ve ever sounded. Whilst not polished to a poppy sheen, everything is crisp and clear and the levels are complimentary. This is maybe the first album of theirs that doesn’t blow my eardrums when switching to another song on a playlist because the song is played way quieter than everything else. This is a good thing because Back From Hell absolutely has to be played LOUD!!

From opening track, The Usurper, this album is blisteringly fast and goddamn it shreds! There are screaming guitar solos aplenty in amongst lighting riffage and Rodrigo Alfaro is at his very best vocally. I gave Atlas Losing Grip my attention while he was with them but he really feels at home here and gives an incredible performance throughout.

All the Satanic Surfers tropes I’ve come to expect are here in abundance – the crazy riffs, the pace, the tongue in cheek politically aware humour, particularly in the cheeky Anthrax homage “Madhouse”. There’s also a lot in here that shows that Satanic Surfers have grown in the last 12 years. The vocal harmonies are truly excellent, Bad Religion quality this time around. There’s also a lot more nuance outside of the fastest songs that allows outside influences from all sorts of other musical genres to infuse what could essentially be a dictionary definition of skate punk into an album with charisma coming out of the seams.

As far as skate punk albums go, I may be hard pressed to find something I’ve wanted to listen to more in the last decade than this. I hold Satanic Surfers up on a pedestal as the very best to have done it. I’m happy to report that Back From Hell more than satisfies every expectation I had and more. It’s not just a rehash, it’s a band coming back stronger and better than ever before. Am I biased? Unashamedly, yes I am, but imagine how high my bar had been before listening so if I’m still glowing then that should be an incredible endorsement.

Stream and download Back From Hell here: https://satanicsurfers.bandcamp.com/album/back-from-hell

Like Satanic Surfers here: https://www.facebook.com/satanic.surfers.official/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Album Review: Death From Below by The Palatines

The Palatines are three piece pop punk band from McAllen, Texas. The band formed in 2016 and feature Javier on guitar and vocals, Richard on bass and vocals and Jeff on drums. In August of 2016 the band released their debut EP, Never Made It, and then in February of 2018 they released their first full length album, Death From Below. I first found out about it after browsing Bandcamp and being attracted to the album's artwork – which you can see below. It's quite striking. So the artwork is great but is the album? Only one way to find out!

Take It Back is the album's opening track. The Palatines play fast paced melodic pop punk music in a similar vein to bands such as The Copyrights or The Dopamines but I'm also reminded of Face To Face's lead singer Trevor Keith on the vocals here. Keith has one of my favourite voices in punk rock so I have no complaints there. Take It Back is about regretting your actions and wanting to be able to make up for them. Up next is the song Ten More Minutes. It starts with an alarm going off and a cameo from Wonk Unit's Alex getting quite annoyed with it. This introduction really gets your attention and you soon find yourself in a fast paced pop punk jam about not wanting to go to work. I loved the music throughout the song – it's 100% energy from start to finish and flies by, before you realise the song is done. Dilemma is more of a mid-tempo song that jumps between melodic punk rock and buzzsaw pop punk brilliant. The vocals are layered wonderfully with some superb harmonies during the chorus. It's about wanting to break up with someone but being scared of losing everything because of it.

The fourth song on Death From Below is named Denise The Grease. It's a short, rapid fire, fun song about having a crush on a waitress. This isn't a song that's going to change the world but it does put a smile on my face. I can definitely get on board with that. The silliness continues on the next song, Gross Girl. Keeping up the fast paced pop punk, Gross Girl is simply about your girlfriend being quite disgusting. It's actually quite a sweet song when you think about it as he still loves his girl despite all of this grossness. I particularly enjoyed the ending of the song when they just spell out the word "gross" repetitively, really allowing for some great audience participation. Following this pair of past paced tracks is the more melodic Mina Doesn't Know. Unlike many of the previous songs, Mina Doesn't Know builds into the song before we hit the vocals. I really liked this variety and it happened at the perfect time to prevent the music becoming stale. This feels like one of the more accomplished songs musically with some excellent fills and solos included in the track.

Demons Whispering continues this more melody-driven style of punk rock. This song, in truth, really reminds of Face To Face. Face To Face's music always has this incredible energy that is hard not to get swept away by. I get the same feeling with The Palatines, particularly on Demons Whispering. Take A Left Turn has a guitar tone that might you might expect to hear from The Lillingtons or Teenage Bottlerocket. That kind of sci-fi pop punk sound that I just adore. The track is about how strange and alien-like the suburbs feel and how all is not as it seems. I think this is really clever songwriting from The Palatines. Using a sound that is associated with sci-fi punk to help set the scene of the song's topic. Then The Palatines take us down a completely different path to the one we've been on for the previous eight songs. Illuminatty Lite begins as an angry hardcore track that's sure to get folk really amped up. The band spends the first two thirds screaming the lines "illuminatty light, you can't stand me, I can't stand you" over and over again. This is a ferocious side of The Palatines that I quite enjoyed. When we get to the final portion of the song we get The Palatines we, by this point, know and love as they revert to some classic pop punk and sing about why they don't get on with the "Illuminatty." After a brief piece of Googling I found out that this is a team of body building gym types who believe they are the elite but secretly cheat. They do sound like bad eggs.

The tenth song, Take The Reins, explodes out of the block with some big vocals. This is a melodic sing-a-long with more of a mature skate punk sound. It also feels more driven, with the tempo rarely straying from its path. There is a wonderful intensity in the vocals that really keep you interested in the song, which is about wanting somebody else to take control of your life so you stop making mistakes. Burnt Out By Xmas is The Palatines' anti-Christmas song. It talks about not having energy to celebrate the big day and not having any money to buy people presents. It's a short and sweet song that's incredibly infectious. Considering the subject is kind of sad, the sound of the song is actually quite joyous and features plenty of great gang vocal "whoa-ohs." Falling Off tackles the issue of addiction and in particular falling off the wagon. This is one of my favourite songs on Death From Below. The opening guitars made me feel like something big was about to happen and that feeling was certainly correct. It's a very powerful song that I'm sure plenty of people will find relatable and hopefully might help anyone who is struggling to stay sober.

Grave Misfortune is another big highlight from Death From Below. It features some rapid fire vocals that just blew me away and really had me eager to see where the song goes. It's about being a person who lives in great comfort before losing their job because the company has moved out of town. I love this super fast paced pop punk that's also super catchy and great to sing-a-long to – so long as you've got the energy to keep up! The penultimate song is titled Run Red. It's a love song of sorts. It talks about going to prison for attacking someone because you were protecting your girl. It's one of the more unique topics for a love song but The Palatines do pull it off expertly with the lyrics really painting a great picture of events. The fifteenth and final track on Death From Below is named Girl In The Ocean. As I always say, a band should save their big epic for the final song and The Palatines certainly do this. It's a mid-tempo melodic punk jam that is about the break up with a girl who made a lot of sacrifices for you and feeling bad because of it. Obviously it's quite a sad feeling track and is filled with plenty of emotion. This is definitely the most emotional track on the entire album and a great choice to finish things off.

Why is it that so many of my best Bandcamp discoveries are because of awesome artwork? I love this style of pop punk and The Palatines have put out one of the best albums in this genre in quite some time. I thought that at fifteen songs long it might drag a little bit but it flew by and kept me thoroughly entertained throughout. The vocals are just superb and are backed perfectly by some great, great tunes. If you love bands like Teenage Bottlerocket, The Lillingtons, Face To Face, The Copyrights, Dear Landlord, The Dopamines, or any of the other bands like this, then Death From Below by The Palatines is essential listening.

Stream and download Death From Below here: https://thepalatines.bandcamp.com/

Like The Palatines here: https://www.facebook.com/thepalatinestx/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Album Review: Utopia by The Lab Rats (by Emma Prew)

The Lab Rats are a folk punk duo based in Manchester, formed of Molly Yates (Bolshy) and Adam McKeon (Wadeye). I wasn't aware of them until they were announced for Manchester Punk Festival 2018 – they were one of the very first acts to be announced in fact – and I checked them out on the MPF sampler on Bandcamp. I then forgot about them until it came to sorting out my Clashfinder for the festival and I highlighted that I wanted to see them. (At the time of writing this, MPF hasn’t happened yet but, at the time of this being posted, it most likely has happened – hopefully I got to see Lab Rats live in the end!) Looking them up again, I found that they released a new 7-track album, Utopia, on Pumpkin Records at the end of February. I quickly made up for lost time and listened to it as soon as possible. Here’s what I thought.

Utopia opens with the compelling swaying motion of Refugees Welcome and a combination of acoustic guitar and mandolin. But despite the song’s lovely melody, this is not a happy nor care-free song. The way in which the story is told through its lyrics is an interesting one as the song is a conversation with a refugee, asking them questions – ‘Did you risk life just to get to the shore?, Have you travelled all this way to be free from a war?’ – but also being sympathetic and telling them that they are welcome. This is not nearly as aggressive as your average ‘protest song’ and I particularly liked the song for that reason. Next up is Song For A Friend. The mandolin plays the leading melody here while a banjo – at least I think it’s the banjo, which is listed as also appearing on this album (Joel McCarton on violin and banjo), but it could be the acoustic guitar – plays a more bassy-sounding backing. The instrumentation is great but its the vocals that really stood out to me. Molly really showcases what an excellent set of vocal chords she has here, with some almost bluesy, soulful oooh-ooohs at points. Overall this is a fairly melancholic but powerful track that reflects on not always knowing how to feel in certain situations.

The third song on Utopia is a faster paced number titled Keep Smilin’. Keep Smilin’ opens with some strummed guitar chords and a more intricate mandolin part. Lyrically the song is about standing up to your own anxiety and trying to stay positive but also knowing that you’re not the only one who feels this way – ‘I know that it’s not just me.’ It feels like a bit of a call to arms for anxious types and people with mental health problems which is a great thing. Lead You Home follows up next and there is definitely a banjo present here, alongside the mandolin and acoustic guitar, bringing another level of ‘folk’ to the duo’s sound. The violin makes its first appearance in Lead You Home as well, giving the song perhaps a fuller sound than previous tracks. The song is about having friends that will be there for you and make sure that you not only get home safely but also that you have a home to go to. The repetition of ‘We will lead you home.’ felt especially empowering. Friends Not Food is a somewhat slower paced song and this steadiness really allows the vocals and lyrics to be the main focus. Friends Not Food is a letter, of sorts, to meat (and dairy, I assume) eaters who are in selfish, denial about what they do (according to The Lab Rats, at least) – ‘And you don’t think about it, All the things that you do, Say that it weren’t done with your hands, So it’s nothing to do with you.’ This is definitely a vegan and anti-animal cruelty anthem although it will no doubt be a bit controversial for some listeners. I’m a vegetarian and I feel a bit guilty for not being a fully fledged vegan after listening to this song because I do agree with the message.

The next song is possibly my favourite on Utopia. Breathe opens with a sorrowful yet atmospheric violin part which gives way to the vocals of the first verse and a simple acoustic guitar backing. This is a song about wanting to escape the city, with all of its pollution and fast pace, for a simpler and more nourishing space – the forest, for example. The violin returns for the chorus which, although initially fairly sad, is actually quite hopeful – ‘And take me into the forest, And show me the beauty, I’m yet to see, And take me up to the mountains, And show me the wonder, So I can be free.’ As a lover of nature and being surrounded by trees, I can completely relate to this song – although I do at least live in a town and not a big city like Manchester. A beautiful song regardless. The final song on Utopia is Stop This War. Kicking things off in a mid tempo fashion, things soon increase in speed and volume – at least until the vocals come in for the first verse. However the volume and passion remains. As you can probably tell by the title of this song, this is a protest song of sorts against war – but not just armed conflict type war; wars between atheists and religious people, wars between hunters and hunt saboteurs, wars between the activists and oppressors. The song has a great combination of slower verses, followed by more mandolin intricateness and then a faster paced and passion fuelled chorus. ‘How long do we have to fight before you stop this, Stop this war? Stop this!’

What a great album this turned out to be! You can check it out for yourself on Bandcamp here. And like The Lab Rats on Facebook here as well.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Album Review: That Was Just A Noise by Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man

I assume anyone reading this will by now have heard the news that legendary Manchester punk band Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man are breaking up in December. This is really sad news and a massive loss for the UK DIY punk scene. The three piece are one of the most incredible live bands I've ever seen, connecting with their audience in a way that no other band can. They also write some damn good speed punk tunes that always get me smiling even if I sometimes I have absolutely no idea what's going on. As somewhat of a parting gift, Revenge have released a final LP which features tracks from their entire discography as well as some rarities and unreleased songs. At twenty six songs long, it's basically packed with all of the Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man goodness you could possibly need.

The album's title is That Was Just A Noise which kind of works brilliantly for what people's first perception of Revenge can sometimes be. They play what on the surface is this extremely fast and aggressive punk rock music, that for the uninitiated can be taken as just noise. Revenge maintain their sense of humour until the very end by taking that perception and embracing it. Of course their music is more than just noise. They write these incredibly catchy tunes that fill the listener with a massive amount of energy. Seriously listen to songs like Booze Time, Mine's A Pint and I Wanna Be A Spaceman and try to stay still. It's really difficult not to, at the very least, have a bit of a head bang let alone resist starting a full on circle pit in my living room.

It's perhaps not surprising that That Was Just A Noise is packed with songs about having a good time and Revenge's DIY punk ethos. Songs like Get Pissed, Talk Shit, Dance Like An Idiot, Mine's A Pint and Booze Time are about having the best time with your mates, while Another Way, To Be Frank and Mainstream Music Is Shit cover what life is like in a DIY punk rock band. Then we have the excellent Drinking In The Van which covers both. Revenge have this great knack for taking a serious song and making it a bit silly and then taking a sillier song and making it seem quite serious.

Matt and Andy take turns on lead vocal duties throughout the album. This keeps the songs sounding fresh and prevents any feelings of staleness sinking it. A band like Revenge needs two vocalists, the speed that they sing in must be exhausting! Musically it's very rare that the band ever take the time to slow down but on the occasion that they do, like on the instrumental I Know A Cracking Owl Sanctuary or The Queen Is Dead, Long Live The King Singers (yes, this is one of the slower tracks on the album) they prove that they are more than just a band that play stupidly fast.

That Was Just A Noise is such a fantastic record for Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man to finish up with. Whenever I think of Revenge I automatically think about what a crazy live band they are but they have also written some pretty special songs. I feel like this is sometimes overlooked when people talk about the band. It's just bloody wonderful that so many of the band's greatest songs have been collected together in one final package so we can remember one of the best and most important DIY punk bands that the UK has ever seen.

Stream and download That Was Just A Noise here: https://revengeofthepsychotronicman.bandcamp.com/

Like Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man here: https://www.facebook.com/RevengeofthePsychotronicMan/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

News: Dirty Sushi Records Release A Brand New Compilation Album

UK based independent label Dirty Sushi Records have just released their second compilation album named Yo! Dirty Sushi 2. It features fourteen tracks from the labels impressive roster of talent. It features songs from great bands such as The Cutaways, This Obsession, Second In Line, Layman's Terms and many more. Check it out, it's really good.

Check out Dirty Sushi Records on Bandcamp here and Facebook here.

Top Tens: Eliott from Nosebleed's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Alright? I'm Eliott and I come from Nosebleed. We're releasing our new album soon so Colin has very kindly asked me to provide everyone my top ten biggest punk rock influences. Obviously I had to say yes, so here we are. Are you ready? I'm ready. Here we go!

1. Motörhead
I love Motörhead. I have loved Motörhead for a long long time. Before Lemmy died I was definitely in triple figures seeing Motörhead. One of my early CDs that dad made me buy (dad very much dictated my early musical taste) was a greatest hits of theirs and they were the first band I ever saw live. My friend Smell and I used to follow them around the world to see them. It was a great time in my life, living in the back of a van, hanging out backstage and fangirling over the band. Motörhead are one of those bands that change you profoundly, I think, they are the very essence of rock n roll. There was something for the punks, something for the rockers, something for the metal heads there, a true unifying band. A lot of what I play and how I write music and lyrics comes from Motörhead and I'm real glad when people come up to me after gigs and say they can hear it in Nosebleed's music.

2. The Hives
Obviously, if you've seen Nosebleed, you know where a lot of our sound and style comes from. The Hives are a banging band,and I defy you not to listen to a Hives record without nodding your head. They've got it all – killer sound, killer style, killer show, rock n roll as it should be played. I think a lot of people forget that live music should be a performance, not just playing songs, it should be a panto. The Hives have this down completely and I try and bring this into Nosebleed's live show too.

3. The Greats; Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis And All The Originals
Without these people in the fifties and sixties, there wouldn't be any of the bands I like today. There wouldn't be a Nosebleed, or a DIY punk scene to play in, and I feel it would be a pretty sad state of affairs. Imagine doing a human pyramid to a Vivaldi performance. Pretty grim. There's little that feels better than sticking on a Little Richard LP and dancing round the kitchen while you cook the tea. Good old proper rock n roll.

4. Blink 182
Blink were one of the first bands I got into. My first forays into buying music for myself were shakey to say the least, though to this day So Solid Crew's 21 seconds remains a classic, but Blink 182 were one of the first 'guitar' bands I got into and are the reason I started listening to punk. To this day I have a soft spot for Blink, I think they're one of those bands that you can never be too cool to listen to. Their self-titled 2003 album is an absolute masterpiece – a lot of people disagree with this but you know I'm right.

5. Tyler the Creator & Kendrick Lamar
Aside from rock n roll, I am very much into hip hop. A lot of what I listen to day to day is hip hop, because after constant gigging and watching bands, I like to relax to something different. Of all the hip hop I listen to, I think Tyler the Creator is the best. Very underrated as an artist, he tells very clever, subtle stories in his albums and has created his own worlds within the albums through the use of recurring alter egos. Listen to Wolf, that's his best. In the same way I also massively rate Kendrick Lamar. His storytelling is on point – more serious than Tyler the Creator, Kendrick deals with issues of growing up surrounded by gang culture and the problems faced by African Americans. Listen to good kid, M.A.A.D. City.

6. The Shipping Forecast
So, now some none musical stuff. Radio 4 is great. If you don't listen to it, you should. I will listen to the shipping forecast most nights, it's extremely comforting on long drives home from gigs. It's like a lullaby for adults. When me and my dad went to gigs we always had it on when we were nearly home, so I think that's where my attachment to the shipping forecast has come from.

7. Stephen King
I used to read a lot more than I do now. I don't so much have time for it anymore, but when I do get around to it, you can guarantee I'm reading a Stephen King book. I don't really know what it is about his works – I don't like horror films, I don't like the dark, but I find myself getting really drawn into his books. Best book – IT. Couldn't watch the film, got scared.

8. Art
Bit vague this one, but I didn't really know how to make it less so. I really like art, essentially. Mainly traditional tattoo art. Can't even really explain why, it’s a bit of a shit number 8 is this, I'm sorry. I do a lot of my own drawing and painting and draw a lot of influence from tattoo artists and people of that ilk. My special friend Jaap from Batwolf is an incredible artist, we're constantly sending each other pictures we've drawn and he encourages me a lot. We even collaborated on the cover for Nosebleed's new album

9. Sian
Sian is my fiancé and I like her a lot. She encourages me, and pushes me with the band, and doesn't get mad when I spend too much of our money or forget to cook the tea or put a hole in the bath and then not buy her a new one so she can't have baths anymore and we have to shower really awkwardly to stop the floor getting wet.

10. The UK Punk Scene
I love our scene. I love the people in our scene, making the music they make. It's great. I've friends all over the country as a direct result of playing in a band. Obviously everyone in the scene influences me, but in particular there's my brother Dan (The Franceens/Snakerattlers) who has always pushed me and supported everything I do musically. He did a lot for my old band Segregates and he has done more for Nosebleed than I could ever thank him for. Ben and Dicky of Nosebleed fame, they're alright. I spend too much time with them and we have fights all the time, but I wouldn't spend my weekends with anyone else. Andy, Bev, and the TNS family. Andy and Bev have really got behind Nosebleed and without them and all the TNS bands we wouldn't be where we are today.

So that's me! Ten things! Thanks for listening.

Stream and download Nosebleed's new album Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor here and like Nosebleed on Facebook here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Album Review: Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard by Popes Of Chillitown (by Dan Peters)

The Popes of Chillitown find themselves in an unenviable position right now. What do you do when you’re the next ska punk band to release an album after your label mates dropped what has widely been considered the greatest album of the year already? It’s like playing an all dayer and the band before were incredible and now you’re next on and people are expecting you to be able to top it!! The Be Sharp alumni are fully up to the task though, so let's dive in.

This will be the last time I mention ‘I Was Broken When You Got Here’ now since ‘Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard’ really is an entirely different beast to the former. The Popes have a sound that is much more rooted in dub than their peers and they have a flavour of ska I find reminiscent of Got The Thirst era King Prawn. One thing that’s a marked difference to previous offerings is that ‘Work Hard’ is markedly heavier than everything you may have heard from the band before. Right from the get go, with storming opener Prang, pretty much all the way through the distortion is used with reckless abandon and I’m more than happy for the change. Everything is lent to a fierceness and energy that fires me up and brings out the goosebumps on my arms.

Everything here is top draw quality. There’s not a song on the record that I’d describe as less than a goddamn riot but if you forced me to pick some incredible standouts I’d probably lean towards the aforementioned Prang, the politically aware Upside Down and the skank-all-day-on-repeat ska punk anthem Take Control. The mixture of traditional ska punk, dub and the newer heavier elements (even a little of my beloved double time drumming in Lego Prisoners) is a heady mix and something finely tuned and infinitely danceable in ‘Work Hard’. The UK ska scene is a busy place to make your stand these days with quality found in any direction you care to look. Doubly so to be associated with Be Sharp, the home of the greatest bands that UK ska has to offer. The Popes Of Chillitown have confidently and competently laid out their claim as one of the premier offerings with Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard. To say that this album is the best thing the Popes have produced to date is something of an understatement, this is a desert island album. If someone told me this was the only thing I could listen to for the rest of my life then I’d probably die a happy man, probably a little young from over skanking.

Stream and download Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard here: https://popesofchillitown.bandcamp.com/

Like Popes Of Chillitown here: https://www.facebook.com/PopesOfChillitown/

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Album Review: SkyTigers by Red City Radio (by Robyn Pierce)

At the beginning of March, Oklahoma punks Red City Radio dropped a new EP on Red Scare entitled SkyTigers. The band seems to have been building up to this release slowly, putting out two singles from the EP in 2017 before packaging them together with three more songs as SkyTigers. For me, this gradual output has only added to the sense of anticipation and excitement for some new material. When Red City Radio put out their self-titled album in 2015 after Paul Pendley left, the band (and particularly vocalist Garrett Dale) showed that they could push on and continue to create really danceable and uplifting punk. SkyTigers has emerged as the band has grown and toured over the last couple of years, and I was so stoked to check it out.

The EP’s first track, ‘If You Want Blood (Be My Guest)’, is also the song that the band first released back in April last year. Its strong melody and bluesy charm delivers the classic RCR message of finding dignity in self-sufficiency. I can’t help but draw comparisons between the line “We don’t need a god damned thing from you” and the repeating affirmation “I don’t need anything from anybody” from their previous song ‘Two Notes Shy of an Octave’. The track also includes some great vocal harmonies, as does the rest of the EP. In fact, RCR are getting really good at filling out their songs with more of the band’s vocals and the harmonies are probably better on this EP than on any of their other albums. The second track, ‘I’ll Still Be Around’, starts out simply, with just Garrett and an acoustic guitar – like he’s sitting at the back of a dive bar (or “the darkest bar in the corner of a shithole town”) pouring his heart out. The song soon picks up, throwing in some lovely basslines and a gnarly guitar solo.

Both of these first two tracks are excellent, but I think ‘In the Shadows’ is one of the best songs RCR has ever produced. It’s almost a full five minutes long, but I promise that it’s totally worth the extra listening time. The song is about overcoming self-doubt and the fear of failure; about facing the demons that hide out in the shadows of depression or anxiety. The song is dark and sexy, with an undeniably catchy melody and another amazing guitar solo. The guys have even added in some horns on this track to make it even more exceptional. RCR are truly at their best when they are writing uplifting songs about self-empowerment and self-belief (“Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You” is probably one of my favourite songs ever). ‘In The Shadows’ is the perfect song to throw on when you’re feeling down. A few chants of “I show no fear when I know that the devil’s here”, and you’ll be ready to do anything.

The EP’s last two songs are similarly excellent. In ‘Rebels’, RCR have created another great singalong, and I really love the production on the vocals. But, fair warning, the chorus of “They’re only rebels cause they like the songs” will absolutely get stuck in your head – possibly for several days. ‘SkyTigers’ is a real showstopper, moving from a ridiculously catchy melody to some prolonged wo-ah woahs, and offering some reflection upon the power to be found in human emotion and in each person’s ability to come together with others to do good. It has a similar effect to Propagandhi’s closing track on Victory Lap, ‘Adventures in Zoochosis’.

SkyTigers combines all the best things about RCR in five truly fantastic songs. Although it’s been a long time since we’ve had new music from them, what they have given us is exceptional. With its extreme danceability and encouraging message, this is set to be one of my favourite releases from this year.

Stream and download SkyTigers here: https://redcityradio.bandcamp.com/

Like Red City Radio here: https://www.facebook.com/redcityradio/

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Album Review: Budweiser And Butter by Hummer

Hummer are a three piece band from Warrington and Newton in the North of England. Consisting of Will Atkinson (bass/vocals), Joe Watson (guitar/vocals) and Matthew Cain (drums), Hummer have been getting rave reviews from the punk music press for their brand of catchy and melodic punk rock music. On March 30th Hummer released their latest EP Budweiser And Butter on Horn And Hoof Records. Let's see what the fuss is about.

Budweiser and Butter begins with the song Daisies. The song surprises me with how much harder musically it is compared to many of their catchy melodic punk contemporaries. There is an element of alternative rock music mixed into their sound which gives Hummer's sound a fantastic edge to it. I also enjoyed the dual vocals of Atkinson and Watson, this gives the song a huge energetic boost. Daisies is about growing up, thinking about how you lived your life so far and deciding to have as good a time as you possibly can. A great, positive start to the EP. Up next is title track, Budweiser And Butter. This song is more what I imagined for Hummer's sound. It's a bit softer in sound and has this great guitar line that really hooked me into the song. That and the extremely catchy chorus that begs to be sung along with. The track is about being in a bad mood but realising that things could be worse and pulling yourself out of it. I'm loving all of this positivity.

I adored the high tempo way that the vocals on the third song, Turpentine, are delivered. It drew me into the song immediately. I found myself nodding along uncontrollably and having a fantastic time listening to the track. Hummer write some really wordy songs but do a fantastic job of getting their message across quite succinctly. Turpentine is about trying to figure out what is wrong with you, why are you so bitter and depressed for seemingly no reason. And that it's time to try and sort yourself out. Workahol sees Hummer get heavier on a song about being addicted to your work and forgetting about having a life away from it. This song is a definite highlight of Budweiser And Butter. There is a great amount of passion and emotion pouring out of the song, you can tell that Hummer really believe every word that they are singing. The fifth song is named This Won't End Well For You. The beginning to this song starts slowly and expertly builds towards the opening vocals. The verse is slower than what we've had previously on the album but the chorus hits us with an Anthony Joshua like punch. The song is about realising that you've been set up for failure but knowing that you will come out on top in the end.

Stone Cold Wasted is another song that starts slowly but builds up to the meat and gravy of the song brilliantly. The opening verse is very bass heavy, creating a wonderful backdrop as the vocalist paints a picture of a night out on the lash by yourself. That's what the song is about, going out by yourself and having a merry old time despite being a "loner." As someone who used to go to a lot of gigs by myself and having a wonderful time I found this song really relatable. You can have plenty of fun by yourself. The penultimate song on Budweiser And Butter is titled Invested. Invested makes great use of Hummer's two lead vocalists with both taking turns on verses. I imagine this dynamic is great fun live. Of all of the songs on this EP, this would definitely be the one I'd be most excited to see at a gig. The song's ending, how it slows down and builds to a big finale with superb harmonies, such a great way to finish the song. The final track on the EP is Unreasonable. This song is about being accused of being unreasonable but not knowing why. This is a big sing-a-long song that makes it perfect to finish the EP. Really finishing things on a big high.

I'd never heard of Hummer before I was told about this EP but they've now made a massive impression on me. I love how positive Budweiser And Beer is. I often find that this kind of gruff, melodic punk rock can sometimes be a bit on the downcast side but that is certainly not the case here. Take a chance on Hummer, I've no doubts that they will brighten your day.

Stream and download Budweiser And Beer here: https://hummerpunkrock.bandcamp.com/

Like Hummer here: https://www.facebook.com/hummerpunkrock/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Gig Review: The Copyrights at New Cross Inn, London 27/4/18

It was time for our seventh gig in nine days and I have to admit that I was really struggling. Last thing in the world I wanted to do was make the journey down to New Cross, all I wanted to do was lay down in bed and sleep. But, for the first time ever, The Copyrights were in London and I knew I couldn't miss this historic event. The Zatopeks were also playing a rare London show and it had been far too long since I've seen them so I powered through my exhaustion, with no doubt in my mind that it would be worth it.

The first band on are a new one in the UK punk scene – London's Mean Caesar. Featuring current and ex-members of bands such as Great Cynics, The Murderburgers, Myelin, Pure Graft, Werecats and Crystal Piss, it's clear that Mean Caesar are a band to really take notice of. The five piece took to the stage and blew me away immediately with some great melodic gruff punk. Lead singer Danny Lester has a great presence on the stage as he prowled around the stage and, at times, the floor. The set was short and sweet but did plenty for me to get excited to see what comes next from Mean Caesar. They also filmed a music video on the day of the gig so make sure that you keep an eye open for that in the coming weeks.

Up next were Honey Joy. I've only seen Honey Joy one time before, at one of their first shows a few years ago, supporting RVIVR at The Boston Music Room in London. Since then the five piece have played many more shows and even been over to Gainesville to play The Fest, as well as putting out their first album, so I was interested to see how they've progressed. Very well it seems! Despite what seemed like a few issues with sound and admitting that they hadn't practised in a little while, Honey Joy put on an energetic performance with the band looking as if they were having the best time on stage together. Playing a grungey style of indie pop punk, Honey Joy showed why they've become as popular as they have in the last few years.

The Zatopeks are one of my favourite bands of all time so for this to be only my second time seeing them was pretty poor form on my part. Last weekend at Manchester Punk Festival I'd seen Spider performing in his other band, Gutter Romance, so I figured he'd be in town with the Zatopeks. Unfortunately for whatever reason that wasn't the case but the band did have a fantastic stand in guitarist in the form of DeeCRACKS guitarist Matt – not too shabby. Something I noticed last time I saw the Zatopeks, and again at the New Cross Inn, was how much faster the band play live than on record. This really amps up the intensity in their songs. Frontman Will DeNiro gets increasingly erratic as the set progresses. There isn't enough room for him on stage and he often finds himself down in the crowd. At one point he was stood on a picnic table by the bar and was crowd surfed back to the stage whilst continuing to sing – this made for an awesome sight. The Zatopeks played a great set spanning their entire career, including a cover of a Ramones song where they brought Lucy of Australian band The Spazzys on stage to join then. They also played a brand new song from an upcoming, and long awaited, fourth album which I cannot wait for. I really enjoyed the Zatopeks and now am impatiently awaiting the next time I get to see them.

A phrase I never ever expected to hear was "hi, we're The Copyrights and we finally made it to London." The long running pop punk band from Chicago were at the end of their first ever UK tour which started in Manchester the Saturday before this gig. I chose to catch Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man's final ever MPF set over The Copyrights show at MPF knowing I would be catching them at the New Cross Inn a few days later. I'm glad that I made this decision as, not only did ROTPM kill it, it felt right for my first time seeing The Copyrights in the UK to be at my favourite venue. There were around 200 people squeezed into the New Cross Inn eagerly waiting to see The Copyrights and when they took to the stage it was as if the past fifteen years of wanting to see the band erupted into some crazy mosh pits and big sing-a-longs. Despite a limited set time, The Copyrights managed to play a big set list (including the encore, they managed to play over twenty songs). The set featured songs from their entire discography, including old school tracks such as Button Smasher and Cashiers as well as newer tracks Heart Of Glue and No Knocks. It was great to see just how well received each and every song was, this wasn't a case of only knowing one album or a few songs. It seemed as if everyone knew every word to every song they played. The Copyrights themselves looked as if they were having a fantastic time on stage as well, hopefully making up for the years of struggling and trying to get to the UK. Hopefully such a positive reaction from London, Manchester and the entire UK will mean it won't be so long before a second visit to our shores! The Copyrights were absolutely superb and helped end mine and Emma's crazy week of gigs in the best possible way.

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

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Gig Review: Hot Water Music at the Electric Ballroom, Camden 25/4/18 (by Richard Mair)

The punks are taking over London. Down the road at the Underworld The Cancer Bats are laying waste to the capital with four evenings celebrating the 10th anniversary of the incendiary Hail Destroyer, whilst the DIY Space For London plays host to underground darlings Worriers. This fact isn’t lost on The Flatliners frontman Chris Creswell; who regularly thanks the crowd for coming out early and checking them out. In all fairness he needn’t have worried, the Ballroom is nicely full for the Canadians when they take to the stage.

Despite the brevity of the set and the fact that Chris Creswell is pulling a double shift the band give their all, opening with Hang my Head off last year’s “Inviting Light” the band take little time getting the crowd going with Creswell’s guttural screams of the opening bars getting existing fans in the mood for numerous sing-a-longs. Despite the change in sound that the band have grown into from their early releases it’s pleasing to see the reception newer songs receive alongside older cuts such as second song of the night “Eulogy”. A genuine fan favourite and it’s easy to see why. The front rows explode with fists and fingers lofted as Creswell lashes his guitar with a smile that would melt even the coldest heart. The Flatliners continue to be one of the scene’s biggest potential breakout acts with their infectious punk ethos mixed with what is increasingly becoming a polished and nuanced sound that will have a broader appeal. They clearly love being on stage and entertaining and, through the remaining six songs, get everyone in the mood for the rest of the night. Playing a set heavy on newer songs, with five of the eight song set released off of either Dead Language or Inviting Light, they showcase more of their recent sound which on reflection is probably more palatable to most diehard fans of tonight’s post-hardcore headliners. With further stints to the UK in support of The Gaslight Anthem, it’s highly likely they get the wider exposure they richly deserve.

If tonight’s first support have more in common with the more straightforward punk rock sound of latter day Hot Water Music, the second support is a genuine throwback to the band’s early years. Former Avail frontman come seasoned folk punk troubadour Tim Barry has the unenviable task of following a brilliant but brief Flatliners set with an ever increasing and expectant crowd waiting to see their heroes for the first time in years. Thankfully his experience, ability to write a killer folk-punk tune and amazing stage presence means he quickly has the room stunned into silence and eating out of the palms of his shovel sized hands.

Opening track “Slow Down” is reminiscent of Chuck Ragan’s solo work, a true blue-collar anthem, slow, driven by a simple guitar lick and Tim’s vocal range. It’s a proper storyteller’s song that captivates the audience and is followed up by “Dog Bumped” one of his most well-known and best loved songs; it’s greeted with a fantastic reception and the more up-tempo style swiftly gets the attention of the most cynical.

In the respite between tunes Tim explains the background to his songs, at one point describing what “riding the freight trains” means to an audience not familiar with life on the poverty line in the US. Throughout his set, he makes many socio-political references but it’s the story behind “Prosser’s Gabriel” from his 2011 album “28th and Stonewall” that’s really hits home. “We need to stop building statues to white people” says Tim before embarking on a lyrical journey of an uprising in Richmond Virginia where slave freedom fighter Gabriel Prosser was captured and killed; the sting in the tail being that he was buried in what is now a car park. It’s this attention to detail and passion about people and society that really resonate with the audience and by the end of the set it’s safe to assume we are all in even more love with Tim Barry and his collection of stories from the breadline.

Finally the band everyone is desperate to see take the stage. For some lucky few their last experience of seeing Hot Water Music on these shores will be their show at the Old Blue Last in 2012; however given the size of the venue it’s probably easier to suggest that many will have to go back a couple more years to their 2010 appearance at the 02 Academy Islington for their last glimpse at who for many are their punk rock heroes. With a career built on many classic songs complete with rich bass lines, gravel throated vocals and brilliant melodic guitars, it’s inevitable that the night will be littered with iconic songs; even though the band are touring in support of 2017’s Light It Up. Proving that this will not only be a night celebrating this latest album but also their career highlights, Chuck Ragan immediately launches into the ferocious “Remedy”; one of the band’s most recognisable songs for casual fans taken from what is arguably their most accessible album (Caution). In fact throughout their set a total of 6 songs will be played from this one album, including a more unusual song and a personal favourite “Sweet Disasters” with its soaring final third getting everyone singing, to “Alright for Now”, a genuine surprise given its rarity in the set lists over the years, with its slower pace and driving bass line – it’s a highlight of the night.

Given the variety of fan favourites across their career, inevitable calls for songs such as the cover of Leatherface’s anthem “Springtime” or classics such “Moonpies for Misfits” raise smiles from those stood in our vicinity, although one lucky punter no doubt went away happy after their dreams of hearing “Alachua” heard live were realised. The band also played a key role in encouraging as much participation from the audience as possible; a deliberate quietening in the mid-section of anti-capitalist / anti George W. Bush anthem “Jack of All Trades” allows the audience to emphatically bellow the lines “... but fucker yeah you’ll get yours” back at the band with countless middle fingers raised in defiance.

Newer songs sit perfectly in the set list next to old faithfuls and, although just three from last year’s latest album appear, it’s “Vultures” that really stands out, propelled by Jason Black’s sexy bass line. Towards the end of the main set some of the big guns start to appear. “Turnstile” (one of my all-time favourite HWM songs) is epic, with its closing instrumental that feels somewhat dragged out for effect with Chris Creswell looking at home making it sound even more incredible live than it does on record, whilst last but one song “Hard to Know” gets everyone singing along with their mantra of “live your heart and never follow”. The main set concludes with another favourite from “Caution”; “Trusty Chords”, which the band blast through with gusto.

If the main set contained surprises the encore was truly special for this very reason. Coming back on stage a drenched Chuck again acknowledges the crowd for coming out and supporting the band over the years and makes a welcome gesture to their missing “brother” Chris Wollard who due to health reasons has missed the current touring cycle going back to their appearance at Fest last year. The point not lost on the fans who collectively no doubt hope for a speedy and successful recovery of one of the two leaders of the band.

Opening their return to the stage with “Wayfarer” is inspired, as the ballroom erupted with whoa-whoas, fists and crowd surfers. Single-handedly you could argue that this song generated a whole subculture of anthemic gruff punk bands such as Red City Radio or Iron Chic. Such is the devotion with which the crowd respond that the next song raises the bar even further, as Tim Barry comes on stage with the opening chords of Avails “Simple Song” ringing out. I’d often describe Chuck Ragan as a slab of solid granite; if that’s the case Tim Barry must be the mountain itself; dwarfing everyone on stage he endearingly smiles, laughs, hugs and inspires as he belts out lyrics to a song many thought they might never hear live. Avail were truly stunning in their day and the potency of this song in particular hasn’t diminished over time.

Inevitably it has to be something spectacular to close the night and the Bouncing Souls “True Believers” is the perfect way to go out. A night where everyone is there for one reason is truly defined by a song about unity, the scene and the people that make it special. Given his role with the Souls recently, it’s amusing to see George Rebelo give up his stool behind the drums to The Flatliners Paul Ramierez and amble round the stage playing guitar with Chris Creswell and saying “hi” to the front rows. Not content with just saying hi, Chuck is off with a microphone in hand to give the audience one final sing-a-long.

I’ve waited a long time to see Hot Water Music again, and their infrequent visits to these shores have always been worthwhile, but tonight feels truly special and one can only hope it’s not as long before we see them return again.

This review was written by Richard Mair.

Album Review: Late Teens by Press Club

Press Club are a four piece band from Brunswick, Australia. In March, the band, consisting of Natalie Foster, Greg Reitwyk, Frank Lees and Rufio MacRae, released their new album Late Teens. After stumbling across it on Bandcamp and then hearing some friends speak very positively about it I decided it was time to really give it a proper listen.

Late Teens begins with the song Crash. The song starts with some dreamy and distorted guitars before Natalie's vocal comes in. The first thing you notice is the rawness in the recording of the vocals, giving the whole song a record live vibe. This is an indie punk song that goes along at a methodical pace. It's about always being let down again and again and being fed up of it. The song's high point is the chorus that begs to be sung along with. Up next is the up-tempo Headwreck. I have to admit that I much prefer Press Club when they are playing this fast paced style of indie punk over the slower paced stuff. It's just got more ummphh to it. The energy on the track is outstanding, really getting my blood pumping. Headwreck is about guys who go out of their way to play mind games with their partner and wanting to find someone who doesn't do that. The third song Suburbia is one of the tracks that Press Club released before the album's initial release. It's clear when you listen to the song why it was chosen. It really features the best of Press Club. It starts out fairly slowly but then gradually builds towards a fast and catchy slab of indie pop punk. Natalie's vocals are superb here, brilliantly emotional on the slower parts and then showing plenty of punk rock attitude when things speed up. Suburbia is a song about not being able to let go of a former love back home who has fallen for somebody else.

On my first listen through of Late Teens the fourth song, My Body Is Changing really shone. Of course it was the chorus of "my body's changing, my body's changing, my body's aching" that really caught my attention. It's such a simple but really powerful chorus. I can see this song becoming an anthem for the band. The song is obviously about the changes your body goes through in your life and taking control of it, not caring what other people might think. The fifth song, Golden State, is a slower shoegazing-emo song. Back are the dreamy distorted guitars and raw vocal recording style. As the song progresses Natalie's voice gets more and more stretched, giving a huge amount of emotion to the song's finale. Golden State is about being in a relationship with somebody who is struggling with their mental health and how hard it can also be on you. This is a interesting take on the subject of mental health and not one that's ever really tackled despite its importance. This will be a hugely relatable song for many people listening.

The second half of Late Teens starts with a instrumental named Side B which leads brilliantly into the seventh song, Ignorance. The song gets going with some harder guitars that play off of some softer vocals. The range of vocals shown by Natalie throughout this album is just staggering and not something I'm really used to listening to punk music. Ignorance is another big highlight on Late Teens for me. I love the ups and downs on the song and of course the build towards the end of the track. It's about the mistakes you make when you are young and trying to make things right again. Let It Fall starts out fast and loud and has plenty of that distorted sound that seems to be a bit of a trademark for Press Club. This is without a doubt one of the angrier tracks on the album with Natalie sounding thoroughly pissed off throughout the song. It's a song about the continued fight for equality between men and women and refusing to give in. I think this is why the lyrics "let it fall" are sung in the same tune as the way Lady Gaga sings "can't read my, can't read my" in her smash hit song Poker Face. As far as I'm aware Lady Gaga is someone who has done a lot to help with equality in the music scene. This was a cool little nod her way and really helped add something a little extra to the song.

The ninth song on Late Teens is named Trading Punches. It's an up-tempo song that I think could quite easily draw comparisons with RVIVR (on the songs where Erica has the lead vocals). It's one of the more punchy pop punk tunes on the albums and that chorus is so catchy that it will be buried in your ears for days to come. You'll find yourself uncontrollably singing "I wouldn't give it away, I wouldn't give it cause, I know where we came from, I know where we came from" for days after listening to the track. The penultimate song and the album's title track starts off in stunning style. Late Teens begins with a huge accapella vocal section that really drags you into the song - I bet this is just incredible live. Soon the band come in with a slow paced methodical plod style before things pick up and the song really comes to life. It's interesting listening to the vocals and drums go down one melodic path while the guitars go off and do their own thing. It's a contrast that also works very well together. Last but not least is Stay Low. This song has the feel of a final song to it, starting with some midwestern style punk rock guitars before some superb punchy vocals bring up the tempo. The track takes us on a bit of a rollercoaster with some great ups and downs. It all flows so naturally that it's easier to just go along with it. The chorus is really a fists-in-the-air shout back at the stage moment and the way things build to the track's final moments is a joy to listen to.

Late Teens by Press Club isn't in the style of something I'd often listen to but this was a really enjoyable thirty-eight minutes of music. The band just do their own thing without feeling any need to conform to what is conventional. You have to respect that. Australia continues to pump out these incredible bands. Press Club are another to add to a massive list of bands from down under.

Stream and download Late Teens here: https://pressclub.bandcamp.com/album/late-teens

Like Press Club here: https://www.facebook.com/pressclubmusic/

This review was written by Colin Clark.