By AJ Phink
Cincinnati, Ohio’s UnderTipper may be going a label-less route at this point, but in a perfect world they’d join the cumulative ranks of No Idea Records or It’s Alive Records. Playing a rustic brand of gruff voiced pop-punk in the vein of The Copyrights, Plow United, The Manix and many more, the the band subscribes to an upbeat, fun-loving brand of pop-punk that packs some sonic muscle. UnderTipper’s sophomore full length, Y’All, continues this trajectory, flexing with plenty of full bodied choruses, punchy riffs, and aggressive harmonies.
Opener “Stayed Up Too Late” kicks things off with a fist pumping anthem for partying on the work week. “Stayed up too late, got up too early” belts the band in catchy chorus that’s equal parts pop-punk and gruff crowd pleaser. A gritty delivery with a high level of DIY production seems to be the name of UnderTipper’s game, and they really hit the nail on the head. By and large, Y’All keeps up this momentum while highlighting each band member. For instance, “Contact” slows things down just enough to have Jeff Forton’s rumbling bass and Drew Bogner’s thumping drum beats raise their profile, while Travis Disgraceful’s guitar work in “Nothin’s Ever Good Enough” takes a darker, more menacing turn reflected in the track’s crunching riffs.
The band also demonstrates some solid humour. “Bicycle” stands out in particular, with its hardcore endorsement of two wheel pedal bikes ripping around town and trails. You’d be hard pressed to find another venue in which bicycles are portrayed as such a stylish hard hitting lifestyle statement. Meanwhile, “Taco Meat” is essentially Travis and Jeff breaking the fourth wall by questioning Drew’s preference for just having “beans and cheese” on his tacos, and passionately reinforcing that “we want taco meat.”
Overall, UnderTipper provides a fun and energetic take on a gritty pop-punk formula. Y’All comes packed with a healthy dose of catchy anthemic tunes in 16 tracks that while familiar in style, are distinctly their own. The band joke’s that they only had 21 Spotify followers at the time of release, but with Y’All’s easy pop-punk allure and a little media push, the band stands to grow from that base exponentially.
The Liza Colby Sound hail from New York City and are set to release their new EP, Draw, on the 17th November. Draw contains four songs that give you a fleeting glimpse into everything the Liza Colby Sound is about, the soulful vocals of Liza Colby herself are combined with a soundtrack that embodies dirty, hard hitting rock ‘n roll by a trio who have performed with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, The Jim Carroll Band, The Del Fuegos and Joey Ramone, amongst other well-known names, to create a mesmerising hybrid of styles.
The opening track on the Draw EP, My World, is a glorious dirty slab of rock ‘n roll that channels The Stooges and Led Zeppelin, the rock ‘n roll soundtrack is topped with the sultry soulful vocal delivery by Liza Colby, one that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. I Love You brings the pace down, and delivers a soulful and heartfelt moment on the EP, White Light channels the blues before finally Cryin’ brings things to a close, with a track that encompasses their rock, soul and blues influences.
The only comparable act to the Liza Colby Sound is The Bellrays, and If you love them then you will adore the Draw EP, the Liza Colby Sound mix soul, garage and proto rock to create a stunning hybrid of styles. The result is that I love every moment on this EP, from it’s charged garage fuelled opener, through it’s tender soulful moments and blues heartbeat to the closing track that blends every element together, this is an introduction to a band that seamlessly blend the energy of the garage bands and the swagger of best rock acts with the heart of true soul music.
Ghost Atlas is the solo project of Jesse Cash, best known for his role in the Sumarian Records metal band ERRA, with Ghost Atlas he explores the melodic alt rock side to his writing, Jesse Cash began releasing music under the Ghost Atlas moniker in 2014 with the Gold Soul Coma EP and he followed this up with the 2015’s Immortal Youth EP. Being the sole member of Ghost Atlas the project is a very much a personal reflection of Cash’s emotions, life experience and work, All Is In Sync And There’s Nothing Left To Sing About is Ghost Atlas‘s debut full length and it is set to be released independently on November 17th.
All Is In Sync And There’s Nothing Left To Sing About offers a distinct contrast to the full on metalcore grunt of ERRA, this is an album of alt rock that embraces a much more melodic approach than his primary outfit. Having said that, with the exception of Night Drive, Scout’s Honour, the mellowest moment on this release, and the title track this is an album of slick driven emotional and passionate alt rock that will appeal greatly to fans of the likes of the Deftones and Circa Survive. All Is In Sync And There’s Nothing Left To Sing About is an album that will appeal to his core following, but his latest release should also broaden his appeal beyond the confines of his metalcore roots.
Make no mistake there are still elements of the progressive metal of ERRA present in Ghost Atlas, and it would seem that whilst you can take the man of the metal band but you can’t completely take the metal band out of the man, but it all seems more channelled and focussed than his work with ERRA. With this self funded and self released album Jesse Cash has released a distinctly more restrained album than you would expect to hear if you are aware of his pedigree, and it’s a credit to him that he’s willing to branch out in a different direction and create his own personal vision and style on a album that is a move away from his established style.
All Is In Sync And There’s Nothing Left To Sing About can be pre-ordered here
Portland’s Autonomics self released their debut full length Debt Sounds last month and , like their home town brethren The Thermals, they deliver a relentless stripped down fuzzy poppy garage punk soundtrack, but whereas The Thermals channel an undercurrent of punk rock, Autonomics debut full length has the feel of an album that is informed by the bands that were born of the garage, this is blended with a melodic poppy sensibility that the likes of Weezer deliver so effortlessly,
The album’s title, the reference to Nada Surf on one track and the fact the brief opening track, Spirit Blues, that reminds me of the mellower moments of dark psychedelia by the likes of The 13th Floor Elevators, gives you an idea that this will be an album of retro garage, but from the point the second track, Bad Blood, kicks in that’s where the mellowness ends. Autonomics have released a gloriously dirty lo-fi mix of garage, power pop and punk rock, despite the frantic fuzzed up nature of the album it must be said that Debt Sounds carries a distinctly melodic quality, one that carries throughout the album’s eleven tracks.
Autonomics are a band that possesses the true spirit of DIY, the album is entirely self funded by working day jobs in between shows and as a result there’s a relentless energy to Debt Sounds, maybe this comes from the fact the album is made to a budget and the band were on limited time in which to record it, but whatever the reason Debt Sounds comes across with a reckless live feel that the lo-fi recording just can’t restrain. The slightly muddy mix on Debt Sounds is one that will horrify audiophiles, but for me an album of this nature wouldn’t sound right any other way and the fuzzy wall of sound on Debt Sounds is just one of the album’s many charms.
Debt Sounds can be streamed and purchased via Bandcamp here
Over the years Shanghai’s Spill Your Guts have had to deal with stringent government regulations and a fluid line up due to members moving in and out of the country, with the current line up, that is formed from a disparate collection of expatriates from three far flung continents, only having been in place since 2016. The band has been in existence since 2012 and ever since their inception they’ve been building up to the release of their debut album with a steady series of EP releases, now Spill Your Guts have finally released their first full length album, Hungry Crows.
Riotica opens Hungry Crows with a full blooded hardcore roar, the opening salvo is followed by Praise The Fire, that somehow manages to up the intensity and introduces an element of crossover into the mix. Hungry Crows is an album that constantly switches between the styles over the ten tracks, but for me it’s when they head back into the tracks that carry a heavier influence from straight up hardcore that Spill Your Guts are at their best, with the stunning Altitude being my personal highlight from Hungry Crows.
Hungry Crows is a contemporary take on hardcore, it captures the same relentless spirit and blends it with elements taken from the extreme end of the metal world. This is the first time I’ve received an album from China, and Spill Your Guts are a band that indicate that the punk and hardcore scenes are alive and well on every continent. Hungry Crows is an album that carries the original spirit of hardcore, but blends it with contemporary metal influences to create an album that is as brutal and intense as anything I’ve heard this year.
Spill Your Guts Facebook page can be found here
Hungry Crows is available as a name your price download via Bandcamp here
Formed in 2012, Shanghai‘s Spill Your Guts are a hardcore punk band that blend their own unique style of fast and aggressive music. With several EP releases under their belt over the course of five years, Spill Your Guts have now released their first full length album, Hungry Crows. Spill Your Guts are now set to embark on a 5000km cross Russia tour which kicks off on 28th September.
Spill Your Guts Facebook page can be found here
Hungry Crows is available as a name your price download via Bandcamp here
Originally hailing from London, England, Lee Resistant has a punk rock heart and a poet’s soul, and it all comes pouring out in his heartfelt songs of loss and hope, failure and redemption, bad times and worse luck. Lee Resistant has now self released his latest EP, Your Country, that is available on CD, cassette and digital formats.
Lee Resistant‘s Facebook page can be found here
You can stream and purchase the Your Country EP here
Up and coming UK pop punkers Buffalo Go! released their new EP, Cave In, earlier this month, their latest release follows on from their debut single Fifty/Fifty that was released back in 2015 and the style of their debut single is carried through to their latest EP, but everything feels more focused and refined than on their initial release. The end product is an EP that is another example of a band that is moving away from the pop punk template and bringing something fresh to a genre that was in danger of becoming stale and predictable.
Lead single Caught Up launches the Cave In EP with a bruising delivery, that was whilst pop punk at it’s heart has a lot more muscle than bands from the genre usually possess, Mantis confirms that the opening number was not a one off, as this is another intense dose of pop punk. Light Patrol sees the intensity upped with an almost crossover feel to the delivery, but the best is saved almost for last in the form of the impressive track Fight Milk that combines everything the EP has thrown at us in three near perfect minutes, finally Just Call Me Circuit Breaker brings the Cave In EP full circle with another muscular dose of pop punk.
The Cave In EP is an emotional heavyweight that is a unique EP in pop punk terms, the song structures are unmistakably born of the genre’s heyday, but the way they are delivered is a distinct shift away from the more predictable styles that many adopt. The EP contains heavyweight drum beats and crunching guitar riffs that are combined with melodic vocals to deliver an EP that is an original and welcome addition to the ongoing renaissance that pop punk seems to be enjoying this year.
The Cave In EP can be streamed and purchased, on CD and digital formats, here
North Wales based angular alt rock quartet Zebedy have self released their new EP, Set The Pace, today, the 15th September 2017. Zebedy‘s roots go back almost a decade when an embryonic version of the band first emerged as a live jamming trio, over the years they have steadily refined their sound and incorporated new members and influences, all the while building their fanbase with a commitment to live shows. Their latest four track EP follows on from their sophomore album, 2013’s Marionette, and showcases their latest material that has shifted into a more slightly more aggressive style away from their straight up rock roots.
The tile track possesses the energy and attack of Rage Against The Machine, but it is blended with a slicker rock approach that incorporates technical elements that are transplanted from the metal and rock influences. After the impressive blast of the opening track we get Of Revelations, this heads off into a more straightforward metal direction before the brief instrumental, In, bridges the gap to the EP’s closing number, Bloom, that blends the rage of the opening track with every other element in the band DNA, and as a result it veers wildly across the alt rock spectrum.
Zebedy incorporate the rage of metalcore and distil this with melodic influences from the parallel world’s of rock and metal, but they largely, but not completely, avoid the self indulgent excesses of those genres to keep the energy flowing throughout the Set The Pace EP. The title track is easily the outstanding track from this release, it set the bar high for the rest of the EP so it’s not really a surprise that the tracks that followed don’t quite hit the same heights, having said that if your tastes lie more toward rock than alt rock you won’t be disappointed by Set The Pace.
Set The Pace is now available via digital platforms including Zebedy‘s Bandcamp which can be found here
First World Problems is the follow up to The Ramonas critically acclaimed 2016 debut EP of original material, You Asked for It, and their debut album is released today, September 10th 2017. First World Problems is now available on CD and download as well as on a limited edition run of vinyl that will be available later this year. The Ramonas are best known as the world’s most popular tribute to iconic punk pioneers The Ramones, however the release of First World Problems sees them move away from being a tribute act and into releasing their own material on their impressive debut full length.
220.127.116.11. (Fuck This) opens First World Problems and replaces the 1234 chant with the title, and launches an adrenaline charged opener that is everything you’d hope for from a band inspired by the most important band in punk history. The Ramonas have not delivered a bunch of recycled riffs, they’ve bought their own character to the album what maintaining the spirit of da brudders, tracks such as Roadkill and Zombie Crawl bring a more frantic element, whilst I Can’t Cope delivers a darker moment into the album. When you couple these elements with the straight up punk of Tearaway, Sue Me, Quarter Life Crisis and Poser, the radio edit of which is added as a bonus track, then you have a band that have very much forged their own identity. Of course The Ramones are an ever present influence, Ramonas Go To Freiburg and V.O.I.D. are tracks where they wear their influences on their sleeves, but it’s on Cotton Wool Kids and the album’s title track where The Ramonas have truly captured the spirit of The Ramones, but for me the album’s finest moment is The Daily Fail, a true original classic dedicated to most hateful tabloid newspaper in the UK.
First World Problems sees The Ramonas blending the trademark raw dirty punk riffs that are borne of the band that inspired their formation , but they combine this with their own melodic vocal and guitar lines that sit alongside punk screams and a good helping of gang vocals. The Ramonas have delivered an album that is a more then worthy successor to last years You Asked For It EP where they first unleashed their own compositions, of course their live sets will still be peppered with the classic Ramones songs that we all know and love, but with First World Problems they have proved that there is so much more to them than being a tribute band, when you combine the tracks contained on First World Problems with the punk classics they are best known for then you will have a irresistible combination.
The It’s Not My Ball EP brings three freshly penned tracks and two regenerated classics from their first incarnation. Standing There kicks things off with an upbeat poppy punk riff, this is followed by Out Of Time and Leaving Town, two tracks that have the feel of the finest vintage power pop, whilst Charlie and Your Best Friend bring a touch of old school punk rock, the latter of which will definitely appeal to fans of Dirt Box Disco. It’s Not My Ball is an impressive EP that marks the return of Mr Happy Chainsaw to recording, eight long years after they released their debut EP, We Appear To Be On Fire.
Although Mr Happy Chainsaw describe themselves as poppy punk rock they manage to avoid the pop punk clichés that have been rife in the recent renaissance of the genre, it might be poppy but it’s not pop punk, this is punk rock with a poppy veneer. Underneath the cartoonish name and covert art there lies an accomplished combination of punk rock and power pop that is not what I expected from a band who describe themselves as a cocktail of Blink 182, Green Day and Alkaline Trio, with a splash of Foo Fighters and a hint of Barry Manilow and Elton John.
Californian punks Spider released a limited edition EP earlier this year that promises to deliver six blistering anthems from their out of print album, Youth Insurance, that was released in 2016. The self titled EP essentially acts a best of from the debut full length and gives you a chance to catch up with Spider if you missed out the first time round. The self titled EP offers a pretension free blast of classic punk with a hardcore edge that captures the essence of Spider as a visceral band firing on all cylinders.
The Spider EP kicks off with snarling opener PCE, this is followed up with New Junk II that kicks things up into a UK82 inspired blast of old school hardcore that takes no prisoners. There are no brakes on Spider‘s EP, Barcode Baby continues the aural assault, but even when things are taken down a notch with the epic, at least by Spider‘s standards, Shooting Stars they still carry the intensity in a darker but no less intense feel that segues into the faster counterpart of Get Caught. The closing duo of Can’t Control and Pleasure Fold bring things full circle as they return to the hardcore inspired punk rock that opened the EP.
Spider have released an EP that will appeal to fans of the early American hardcore and the UK82 scenes, think of Black Flag colliding head on with GBH and you’ll have a good idea of what Spider are all about. If you were going to be critical then it could be argued that there’s nothing that you won’t have heard before on the Spider EP, but if you want that authentic blast that the early days of hardcore offered then this is an EP that delivers six tracks straight from the old school.
Spider‘s self titled EP can be purchased here
Ohio indie rock trio Ledges have just released their debut album, Homecoming, the full length builds on the sound the band cultivated on their 2014 debut EP, The Indian Summer, and the album follows a singular character on a journey through doubt, love, loss, and redemption. The Homecoming album was originally intended to be an EP, but as the band began recording demos they realized that an EP wasn’t sufficient to tell the story, and it needed to be told in the form of a full length album.
A gentle introduction, that wouldn’t sound out of place on an eighties movie soundtrack, eases you into Homecoming, the majority of the album offers the kind of laid back indie feel that never really grabs you, rather it has a sound that surrounds and embraces you. There are moments on the album, such as the lead single Teenage Daydream that also carries an eighties sheen of synth, that offer more upbeat moments, but for the most part this is a distinctly languid experience. Homecoming is an album with a tale to tell, if you enjoy this kind of reflective indie experience then you may well find that Ledges have made an album that you will happily lose yourself in.
Homecoming is an album that sounds as if it’s been made to be listened to as a whole, there are no stand out singles or mesmerising moments, but it does work as a complete and coherent work. This is the kind of release that just drifts over you, whilst I personally prefer an album that grabs you and causes a rush of adrenaline there are moments when that isn’t what you need, and for those moments Ledges have produced an album that offers an enveloping and reflective experience. For me Homecoming is an album that won’t appear regularly on my playlist, but I know that when the moment is right I’ll be glad that Homecoming is resting gently in my collection.
Homecoming is available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Apple Music and all other major digital outlets.
Ledges Facebook page can be found here
Synth rock duo Electric Century is a curious project to say the least. For fans of My Chemical Romance, it will be known as bassist Mikey Way’s highly anticipated post-MCR project, and from the much smaller pool of New London Fire fans, it will be known as front man David Debiak’s project with the bassist from My Chemical Romance. Either way, the resulting synth-driven rock is unlike anything fans from either camp will be anticipating. The duo’s debut full length, For The Night To Control, comes across like AFI side project Blaqk Audio, but with more 80’s synth and less flashy electronica.
While Debiak’s vocals are more typically associated with a country or folk influence, they fit well at Electric Century’s fore. When it comes to 80’s treadmill pop, the band doesn’t shy away from some fairly buoyant intros. “You Got It All Wrong” opens like a slice of Depeche Mode, while “Right There” opens feels like more of an 8-bit throwback. Debiak’s natural semblance to gravitate towards dark themes projects a faint gothic influence circa White Lies. The weight of such expression forms the verses of songs like “I Lied,” which swell steadily into the chorus with gritty emotionalism. “For You” follows with a wave of sweeping pulses that feel somewhat more benign, but make for an easy listen. From here on out the tracks tend to scale back the focus on retro sounds, delivering a far more contemporary feel that arguably shares some distant likenesses with Debiak’s prior time in Sleep Station. “Hey Lacey” in particular offers an insight into what direction Electric Century may have taken had they ditched the 80’s influence. When the synth returns for “Let You Get Away” the song takes on more of a pulsing, indie presentation, complete with atmospheric twinkles.
Interestingly, on the latter half of the album the duo opt to cover a couple of early New London Fire tracks. The first, “Until the Light Goes Out On Me,” is lifted from their The Blood, The Dirt, The Faith album, an album defining NFL’s grittiest and most vulnerable moments. Electric Century’s revision fleshes out the song’s formerly barren landscape by covering the track in a subtle electronic layer of steady soundboard chirping. The song relies heavily upon the original for structure, but slowly builds its own identity while sustaining the album’s dark energy. “Someone Like You” features a similar approach to electrifying New London Fire’s rural atmosphere, this time invoking an accompanying layer of female vocals. The tactic compliments the song’s dual lyrical tone, and outshines the original version in tact alone. Electric Century’s self-cover songs fit so well amidst the primary track listing that newcomers stand to hardly notice the fact that these tracks are indeed covers.
But perhaps the most immediately striking moment comes in the form of “Hail The Saints”, which explores concepts of faith through dark rhythms, a ghostly tempo, and the eerie collective voices of a children’s choir. The children’s voices exude a haunting quality as they chant “hail the saints in a godless world” against an assortment of percussive and electronic elements. It’s like a gothic dance style beat meets a zealous preacher’s sermon. I’m not certain of the duo’s religious affiliation, but the message seems to be one that straddles the line between belief and a more critical eye.
Overall, Electric Century make For The Night to Control a clear their manifesto for dark, catchy, synth driven electro-rock. But while the album starts off flashy, it doesn’t take as many stylistic risks over its full runtime as might be implied early on. That being said, the band exhibits care in their craft, and handles their covers of New London Fire with attention to detail and finesse. The 80’s influence tends to taper by album end, but what remains is equally as enjoyable and full of substance. Here’s to hoping that Electric Century stay the course and continue to explore their dark electronic ways for round two.
Puppet Kings are the latest band to emerge from the UK coastal town of Brighton, and once more I find myself wondering is there anyone in Brighton who isn’t in a band. Puppet Kings have now been around for five years, touring relentlessly across the UK pausing only to release sporadic studio recordings, including their 2012 self titled debut full length. Their latest release, Very Cool And Groovy, follows on from their 2015 Timebomb EP and was preceded by the lead single, Rich And White, earlier this year.
Wanderlust is a fine if not somewhat familiar slab of heavyweight alt rock and the subsequent number Taurus carries the same mix of traditional rock that’s infused with a touch of energy from their alternative influences that is the sole defining line between something being traditional rock and alt rock, but it’s when you get to Rich And White that Puppet Kings get into their stride. The track opens with a sample from Donald Trump before launching into a satirical tirade against Trump and his ilk, this track carries more venom and attitude than those that preceded it and this lifts the EP, the closing track Other Side also possesses more energy and leaves me with the distinct impression that Very Cool And Groovy is an EP of two distinct halves.
Puppet Kings carry all of the the amped up rock credentials and influences that inform the Very Cool And Groovy EP , there are more traces from the traditional rock dinosaurs that lumbered across the 70’s and 80’s in their DNA than I usually care for, but when you realise they are capable of baring their fangs and snapping at events and individuals they find disagreeable then that’s something that makes you sit up and take notice, the mantra of my enemies enemy is my friend is one that seems apt for this Brighton trio’s latest release.
Very Cool And Groovy is now available on all major digital platforms and Puppet Kings website is here
The Arizona based quartet Figure It Out have emerged with a new EP, Silence Isn’t Golden, that is due out on September 1st and will be their first release since the sophomore EP, Nothing To Lose. Silence Isn’t Golden picks up exactly where the last release leaves off, this is an EP of energetic high-tempo tracks that incorporates anthemic elements into the songs, if all this sounds familiar that’s because it is, as Silence Isn’t Golden feels like an exact recreation of pop punks glory days.
Opening track Second Best starts with the familiar Na Na Na Na Na so beloved of many pop punk bands and I get the feeling that I know exactly what I’m in for. All four tracks on Silence Isn’t Golden are cookie cutter recreations of the golden days of pop punk. Tracks such as Lullaby and the EP’s title track continue the somewhat predictable upbeat energetic fizz, and just to complete the feeling that the Silence Isn’t Golden EP has bypassed much of the last two decades, the final track, Sleep Without You, starts with an acoustic heartfelt moment that builds to a crescendo as it seems that no self respecting pop punk band can resist writing a song like this.
If you’re a fan of established North American pop punks such as Blink-182, Sum 41 and New Found Glory then you’ll be in your element, Figure It Out have taken the template laid down in the heyday of pop punk and have taken it, and not so much run with it as cloned it. There’s nothing on the Silence Isn’t Golden EP that you haven’t heard before, but I will say that they have done it very well, so well that if i didn’t know better I would have guessed that this came out at the end of the last millennium. If you love that vintage pop punk sound then this is an EP that will be exactly what you’re looking for, but I’ll just stick with my copy of Enema Of The State.
Figure It Out‘s website can be found here
I ran across Erik & The Worldly Savages while in the midst of drafting a review for Gogol Bordello’s disappointing Seekers & Finders album. The passion and energy that Gogol Bordello seemed so reluctant to produce became an alluring element in my introduction to the Serbian folk-punk act. Premised on a promising rotation of accordion, violin and traditionally influenced Eastern European folk sounds, the energetic sexet feels like a European-based hybrid of The Dreadnoughts meets Butcher Knives.
With an early EP, previous LP, and surprisingly strong live album, the band has quietly amassed a formidable discography on the lead up to their formal sophomore full length, Culture vs. Destiny. As the title implies, Erik & The Worldly Savages have a message, specifically one that explores the inroads of social inequalities and the strength of those willing to resist. Shortly before Culture vs. Destiny’s release the band expressed their frustration with being shut out from touring in the UK on the basis of nationality in the song “21st Century Racism.” While the song didn’t make it on the album, the message captures the social agenda that Erik & The Worldly Savages fight for on the disc.
For a lively band with rather serious philosophical underpinnings, opener “Hope” ensures that Culture vs. Destiny’s message doesn’t get bogged down with a burden’s weight. Punctuated by ample horn blasts and a message of resilience, the song is centred around its optimistic title. Wide eyed frontman Erik Mut asserts that “life is rigged to bleed you dry, no matter how much you may try to hope / look the darkness in the eye, to the day we die, we hope,” to which the song’s final lead out repeats, “but I still got hope.” The message soon becomes a recurring theme. In the neighbouring song, “The Asylum,” the band speaks to the mind-numbing sameness demanded by mainstream society, and the clinical efforts to sedate and reform personality “flaws.” Anthemic vocal accompaniment makes the song easy to repeat in agreeance, as later echoed in the easily singable album closer, “Take Me Away.” The steady accordion chatter of songs like “Lost & Confused” is heavily aligned with the gypsy-punk mashups of Gogol Bordello, but venture further into exotic instrumentals in ensuring their own distinctive footprint. Likewise, “Change Yourself” infuses a heavy dose of traditional Eastern European folk instrumentals – the type you might expect from an old time Serbian folk festival. The result an exciting album that succeeds by entwining heritage, culture and geography like only punk rock can.
Overall, Erik & The Worldly Savages present a passionate case for counterculture in a world of xenophobia and increasingly closed borders. Culture vs. Destiny embraces an identity and provides perspective from outsider eyes, affording a voice to the all too often silenced cultural “other.” An obvious synergy runs through Culture vs. Destiny’s instrumental fusion, uniting “foreign” influences under a punk rock banner. Erik & The Worldly Savages may not be able to enter the UK in their entirety, but there’s little doubt that Culture vs. Destiny’s message will permeate borders and invigorate citizens globally.
The five members that make up the Chicago hardcore outfit The Decayed have been performing in punk bands throughout Chicago and Seattle for over two decades in bands such as Failed Resistance, Vile Display of Humanity, and Last False Hope. The Decayed formed earlier this year with the intent of bringing back a vintage hardcore punk sound, while making it their own by combining influences of metal and hardcore that brings an intense style that’s made possible by the The Decayed‘s diverse backgrounds and collective experience.
From the opening track, Beaten And Battered, it’s obvious that The Decayed are delivering a blast of intense crossover hardcore, this is not an EP where there are subtleties just a refreshingly relentless blast of old school hardcore. Amongst the blistering punk assault there a few touches from the extreme end of metal that surface in breakdowns and the guitar work, but this is delivered with the same intensity and it’s blended into the furious delivery. The six tracks that make up The Decayed EP make up a pulverising eighteen minutes where there is no escape from the relentless assault until the final chords of Better Way fade out.
The Decayed EP is a release that will appeal to fans of the intense side of punk, from The Exploited to Pears, and if you are a fan of hardcore punk then this will be an EP that won’t disappoint on any level, The Decayed EP is six tracks that, as the album cover indicates, is designed to rip your face off. Personally I found that The Decayed EP becomes somewhat one dimensional after a few tracks, but this is brutal hardcore and it’s delivered in such an authentic and intense manner that you can’t help but get a buzz from the fury and adrenaline that surges through this EP.
Californian hardcore quartet Surface Report was formed from an impressive collection of past and present members of Californian acts such as Castoff, Fallen Monuments and Strike The Design, and now Surface Report have self released their debut album, Stand By…. This is the latest release that seems to indicate that there is something of a renaissance occurring in the North American hardcore scene, with new band’s on each corner of the continent, including New York’s Scarboro, Texas’s Despero and Canada’s Our Darkest Days to name but a few, all releasing impressive albums in the last twelve months.
One At A Time hits you between the eyes with a furious hit of melodic hardcore, and before you’ve had chance to recover Quid Pro Quo kicks in with a more of a crossover feel. Whilst there’s no respite on Stand By… this is not an album where the short sharp shocks blur into each other as each track brings a different element into the mix. Songs such as the superb Insufficiency are classic melodic hardcore, but these are balanced against the more straight up hardcore elements and slight metal influences, which all combine to deliver an impressive debut album from a band who are a breath of fresh air in the Californian punk scene.
It’s no surprise that Stand By… is on the short side, it clocks in just over twenty minutes, and it’s over before you know it, but unlike many hardcore albums there’s something about Surface Report that had me queuing it back up for another spin. For me Surface Report have the feel of early Suicidal Tendencies mixed with classic Propaghandi, but that’s not to say this is a recreation of either of those outfits, it jut has the same feel of intensity and controlled aggression that not many manage to pull off, and on the basis of Stand By… you can’t help but feel that Surface Report have a bright future ahead of them.
Nicotine Pretty are a punk laden power pop band from South Wales, their debut single, Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?, was released digitally in April 2017 via Glunk Records to critical acclaim, this was swiftly followed up just a few months later by their equally impressive self titled sophomore single, and now Nicotine Pretty have given their first two digital only singles a limited edition physical release with The DIY Singles EP, with every single copy having an individually handmade and numbered sleeve by vocalist and guitarist Ginge Knievil.
The DIY Singles EP kicks things off with the self titled track, Nicotine Pretty, a sleazy blast of Johnny Thunders inspired power pop that makes as fine a mission statement for a band as you could wish for, but for me their debut single, Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?, is the highlight of the EP, a hyperactive fist pumping number that embodies punk rock, power pop and the spirit of rock ‘ roll perfectly. The DIY Singles EP marks the first chapter in Nicotine Pretty‘s history, and on the basis of their first two singles I can’t wait to hear what these Welsh rockers have in store for us in the future
Sadly by the time I had even started to write this review the strictly limited edition release of The DIY Singles EP had already sold out, but it’s not all bad news as both of the singles that make up The DIY Singles EP are still available via Nicotine Pretty‘s Bandcamp, and as there is also a three CD EP series in the works, with the first EP planned for later this year and a compilation vinyl release to follow, then the future looks bright for this impressive Welsh rock ‘n roll powerhouse.
Leicester based DIY punk band First Wave have self released their long awaited fourth full length, Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll, the album follows on from First Wave‘s impressive 2015 release, All Bleed Red, sadly I’m not familiar with the two albums that preceded their latest release, something that I intend to rectify. Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll continues their commitment to creating incendiary grass roots punk rock that is influenced by the bands that formed the first wave of the UK punk explosion. Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll was released on the 8th July and the album is now available to order directly from the band’s website.
From the opening track, Ballad Of Billy Red, whose intro offers the only mellow moment on the album, you know that you’re in for some old school punk rock, As with the many of the original punk bands Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll reflects the world around them, Bataclan Survivors, Gunpoint USA and Refugee all reflect recent events and the political and social upheaval that is currently engulfing the world. The lead single Berlin is an obvious highlight and the album’s title track is a call to arms for the disaffected, whilst Three Chords And The Truth, Eye For An Eye and Last Days Of The Empire embody everything that First Wave stand for. Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll closes with Stooge, a track that gives a knowing wink to the bands that informed their sound with it’s fist pumping refrain of ‘hey ho let’s go 123’ and acknowledges the past without recycling it.
First Wave are authentic old school UK punk rock, the likes of The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, The Adverts and The Ruts can clearly be heard echoing in the compositions, but don’t interpret that as meaning that First Wave are an anachronistic throwback, nothing could be further from the truth. First Wave take their cues from the original punk bands but bring that style and attitude into the modern era, if you want to encounter the original heart and soul of punk in 2017 then you need to catch First Wave as there are very few bands that are producing this style of authentic grass roots punk rock.
Toxic Rock ‘N’ Roll can be ordered directly from First Wave here
Saint Apache are a high octane alt rock quartet that hail from the coastal town of Eastbourne, UK. Their sound is informed by an array of influences, ranging from the venom of Every Time I Die, to the drive of Buckcherry, and the political potency of Rage Against The Machine, that is all served up with a healthy dose of punk abrasiveness and a rock sensibility to creature a turbo charged hybrid. The south-coasters churn out compelling full tilt guitar riffs, distorted driving basslines, hard-hitting drums, and an aggressive gritty edge, served up with a super charged vocal delivery.
Saint Apache are the kind of hard hitting alt rock band that you rarely encounter anymore, from the opening You’re Not A Slave it’s clear that this is a dirty distorted and angry version of alt rock that carries the spirit and defiance of punk, but it’s all delivered in a heavier and hard hitting style that has rock’s self assured swagger in spades. Every single cut on the four track Wolf Machine EP is delivered at full tilt with a hard aggressive approach and energy, this is grass roots alt rock that is a world away from the corporate side of a genre that has been increasingly heading to radio friendly territory.
Whilst Saint Apache are not radio friendly the EP does have clean versions of the tracks You’re Not A Slave and Wolf Machine included, these make minor edits to the more explicit elements of the songs but you can’t mask their fury and I can’t really blame them for wanting to stand a chance of being heard by a wider audience. Wolf Machine is an EP of alt rock delivered exactly as it oughta be, there are no introspective moments, this is a full throttle adrenaline charged assault that contains all the fury and defiance of Rage Against The Machine in their prime.
Saint Apache‘s Facebook page can be found here