Album Review: Rash Decision – Karoshi

“A pissed off, vicious slab of breakneck hardcore thrash.” FFO: Agnostic Front, Cro Mags, The Crumbsuckers, DRI.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Have you ever been to Cornwall? I live pretty close to the border between Devon and Cornwall and go there pretty often because… Well… It’s like going to a foreign country without actually having to go to a foreign country! The middle bit of the county has been filled with nothingness with all activity taking place round the spectacular coastline. Maybe it’s the sea air, maybe it’s the surf culture that’s grown up around the county or maybe it’s the Cornish insistence that they are a nation in their own right that’s led them to adopt a different pace of life to the rest of Britain. Cornwall moves slower than anywhere else in the country… more relaxed and laissez faire. Almost like a county of stoners weaned on cider, pasties and putting jam and cream on scones the wrong way round. All this makes this new release from Rash Decision seem all the more incongruous as they deliver a pissed off, vicious slab of breakneck hardcore thrash that sits at odds with their surroundings.

Karoshi amounts to 14 tracks of kinetic, angry metal/punk crossover that, to my jaded ears, harks back to the New York hardcore of 80’s bands such as Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Leeway, The Crumbsuckers… etc. The guitars are violent scythes of noisy crunch, drums rattle along with plenty of double kick action and the vocals are throaty, larynx stripping rants. All bar three songs come in under two minutes and say as much as most songs far longer, being rammed to the rafters with riff after riff and breakdowns aplenty.

The angry intensity spills over fully into the lyrics. Lyrically, if these songs were to paint a picture of life in Cornwall then the county’s tourist industry would be fucked in an instant. This is definitely not a child friendly album as the band spit out profanity after profanity and cover pretty much every taboo word going… and I’m the kind of cunt that fucking loves shit like that! In all seriousness though, like many punk bands before them, Rash Decision cover much of the usual punk rock subject matter… Being slaves to the system on Salary Man and just generally getting fucked over by life. The thing is, these subjects never go away and will provide abundant subject matter for punk bands for eternity.

Continue reading “Album Review: Rash Decision – Karoshi”

Album Review: Youth Avoiders – Relentless

Like a perfect hit of potent espresso, Parisian hardcore act Youth Avoiders are the big name being whispered around the UK scene right now. FFO: Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, having your mind blown.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

France may not be at the top of everyone’s list of punk rock nations. In fact, France probably doesn’t register on anyone this side of the channel’s lists as a music nation full stop. Aside from Joe Le Taxi by Vanessa Paradis… which was 30 odd years ago… I defy you to think of any internationally successful French musicians. It’s a tough task. Aside from some dodgy stoner rock bands and some actually pretty decent hip hop acts, it’s slim pickings on the music front for French bands in the UK. It’s good, therefore to see a Parisian punk band breaking down that barrier and crossing the water.

One of the first things you may think of when it comes to punk rock, apart from a relentless barrage of speed, is a wall of fuzzy guitars. This is where Youth Avoiders stand out from the word go. For the most part these guys keep the guitars almost completely clean, giving the songs a jangly, almost surfy edge which is extremely refreshing. Especially when coupled with their breakneck take on DC-style hardcore. Imagine the Dead Kennedys jamming with Minor Threat and you’re in the right ball park. Youth Avoiders trade an abrasive sound for something far punchier and it pays off in spades.

Musically this 11 track album sets out their agenda to get in, get the job done quickly and then fuck off again. They pretty much have one tempo: fast as fuck. Most tracks barely make it past the two minute mark, making it a brief but thrilling ride. Continue reading “Album Review: Youth Avoiders – Relentless”

EP Review: Our Lives in Cinema – All Talk

London’s punchy pop punks Our Lives In Cinema have released a sweet new EP. FFO: Jeff Rosenstock, Alkaline Trio, caffiene highs.

Review by Sarah Williams.

The observant among you will have noticed that I’m quite pally with the Umlaut Records guys (if you’ve not listened the Shout Louder podcast I do with Mark Bell yet I politely recommend you sort your life out), so I’m aware that I may be slightly biased in favour of their releases. That said, I wasn’t expecting them to flood my inbox with so many great EPs this month. We’ve already spoken about Triple Sundae and we’ve got a lot of time for EAT DIRT. Later in May they’re also releasing a great EP from Dynamite Dynamite.

One of the great new band showcase EPs they’ve brought out is from London’s Our Lives In Cinema who, like Triple Sundae, are growing into a much more accomplished act. I enjoyed their first three-track EP, but this is so far advanced from that I almost can’t believe it’s the same band. The biggest improvements come in the confidence of Mark Bartlett’s vocals, much clearer and more decisive on this record, paired with lyrics that have a great deal of singalong potential. Their overall songwriting and composition has improved, as has the tone and quality of the guitars, which are hitting faster, snappier skate-punk levels on this record.

The opening to It’s Always Sunny In Paterson Park is fast and fun, drawing you straight into the record. Mark’s trying to squeeze as many words as possible into each bar, which gives opening line of the chorus (“So this is thirty five…”) enough open, punchy emphasis to make it a huge singalong couplet. The whole song features some sweet harmonies and memorable riffs, developing into a big shoutalong section at the end. Continue reading “EP Review: Our Lives in Cinema – All Talk”

EP Review: Triple Sundae – Peace of Mind

London’s Triple Sundae have release a heartwarming gem of a melodic punk EP. FFO: The Menzingers, The Flatliners, Jeff Rosenstock.

Review by Sarah Williams.

I’m lucky enough to have had Triple Sundae‘s new EP for a couple of months now, and it has grown on me with every single listen. The first time I heard Peace of Mind I fell in love with two of the three tracks on it, but a few weeks in I’m completely enamoured with the whole record. Like a relationship that you fall into by accident that turns our just perfect – I’m about ready to marry this EP and grow old together, doing crosswords on a porch with it.

Before you get ready for a big tirade about how much I adore these lovely London lads, I feel I ought to mention that I never used to like their band. I saw them at The Underworld and at (I think) The Unicorn before that and had a distinctly ‘meh’ response. They’ve clearly spent time polishing their songwriting, properly honing their recording at The Ranch and pouring their hearts and souls into this record. Now, I’m begging them to record a full length and dancing about like a lunatic at their live shows (evidence here).

I was thoroughly impressed by every aspect of this recording. The songwriting, the production quality, the delightful melodies and the lyrical themes of anxiety and self-doubt. Indecisive sums up all of this perfectly. The vocals drifts appealingly from warm singing to rougher emotive sections, clearly conveying the lyrics and giving you time to absorb the meanings. Underlining this are some gorgeous cascading guitar tones and enough speed and variety to keep you interested.

There are a great deal of similarities with The Menzingers, partly in the catchy indie-punk style of composition, but mainly (and unusually) in the vocal. Greg Barnett has such an unusual tone that it’s odd to hear it repeated, but there are definitely similarities here, particularly on the ‘so I can’t help you’ lyric at the end of Soul Control. It’s also reminiscent of some of my favourite smaller bands like Forever Unclean, Hard Girls and Shit Present.

Fabricated’s opening riff is by far the most attractive thing to invade my ears in months; it’s a sweet little treat that’s instantly appealing. Saved until the end of this small-but-perfectly-formed EP, Triple Sundae have definitely saved the best till last. The introductory riff will stop you in your tracks. It hooks onto your soul before giving Hassan’s voice room to shine. The slower song pace give the tune room to breathe, giving the listener time to absorb the introspective, self-effacing lyrics. This song is an understated masterpiece, a tune that grips you from first listen, that you know you’ll have the same reaction to in a decade’s time.

This EP also demonstrates an impressive growth from the band. These three tracks have been produced as a beautiful, polished piece that that emulates mainstream quality. Off the back of this beautiful 3-track I honestly think Triple Sundae are ready to explode into something gigantic.

You can buy Peace of Mind from Umlaut Records or from Triple Sundae’s Bandcamp.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Album Review: Call Me Malcolm – I Was Broken When You Got Here

Meet the soundtrack to your summer. FFO: Less Than Jake, The JB Conspiracy, Lightyear, Random Hand.

I Was Broken When You Got Here is destined to be the soundtrack to your summer. London’s Call Me Malcolm have taken all the best elements of late-90s ska punk and rolled it into one irresistable package, modernising it by opening up about depression and anxiety.

It has been a long time since I’ve encountered an album that I couldn’t take off repeat, but I’ve listened to very little else for the last three weeks. It is due for release on Be Sharp Promotions and Bad Granola Records on Friday April 6th and take my word for it: you need this album in your life.

Press Art - Album CoverIt is not often nowadays that a ska-punk album comes along and completely stops you in your tracks. It’s not 2003. Ska-punk is no longer in vogue, if it ever was, however for those of us who do like our punk brassy, sunny and loaded with upstrokes, it is a very special thing. Arguably there has been a resurgence this year, but it’s been spearheaded by the return of some legendary live bands, not by new album releases.

Then Call Me Malcolm blast in out of left-field and drop this catchy, infectious masterpiece that grows more ingrained into your skull with every listen. Call Me Malcolm have been on the scene for quite a number of years and, although I’ve always liked them, I would never have expected them to come out with an album that, with the right marketing, could honestly rival Less Than Jake. Perhaps it’s my lack of presumption and expectation that allowed me to be wowed by this record, however it’s stood up to hundreds of repeat plays without becoming a ounce less enticing. Continue reading “Album Review: Call Me Malcolm – I Was Broken When You Got Here”

EP Review: Traits – Illuminate

The new ballsy, melodic punk rock EP from Leeds’ Traits will gnaw its way into your subconscious. FFO: No Use For A Name, Lagwagon, The Human Project.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

The Traits were a garage rock band formed in 1967 who had a hit with Nobody Loves The Hulk in 1969…this isn’t them! It’s amazing the blind alleys Google can lead you down when you’re researching a band for a review. Traits, minus the ‘the’ are a new four piece band from Leeds featuring members of Random Hand and The Human Project, and a guy called Jon who is apparently lovely, according to one of the write ups my Google search threw up. I’m sure they’re all splendid chaps equally. [Ed: Sarah W personally vouches for this!]

Traits (don’t go putting “the” in front of it!) are a straight ahead, melodic punk rock band. By that description alone you can probably start to build a mental image of how these guys sound and you’d probably fall pretty close to the mark. Now, being honest, there are a million bands doing this kind of stuff right now so the question is, how well do Traits fare against their peers? Fortunately they fare extremely well. For such a new band, albeit with plenty of individual experience, they have a fully-fledged and powerful sound with a keen grasp on song writing and an ear for a naggingly catchy melody. Each song here has at least one hook that will gnaw its way into your subconscious, whether it’s the insistent chorus of I’ve Made My Bed or the quirky riff that rears its head during Drop The Status Quo. If the band had a mission to grab your memory and hold on tight then they’ve ticked that box!

Traits Illuminate EP Cover.jpg

As you might expect, the energy remains high throughout, rarely dipping below an ADHD endorsed 100mph but, on the odd moments when the Ritalin kicks in and they slow it down, it provides a welcome breathing space and shows a strong grasp of song dynamics. The guitars of Jon Simmons are tight and edgy and stand front and centre in the mix whilst the rhythm section of Joe Tilston on bass and Dan Powell on drums lock together tighter than a pair of shagging dogs! Johnny Smith’s voice is an interesting one, and may be an acquired taste for some, although it’ll be a favourite for fans of The Human Project. He operates in the higher registers but still maintains some grit in his throat. In fact, and this may make him cringe, he would also make a pretty good metal singer, as evidenced on I’ve Made My Bed which flirts tantalisingly with thrash metal in places… fortunately staying just on the right side of the line though. He has a credible power and delivery to his singing though that should bring round anyone who might, at first, find his voice a little irritating. Continue reading “EP Review: Traits – Illuminate”

Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest

The new album from Japan’s Waterweed is the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, due for release on Lockjaw Records in April.

Review by Joëlle Laes.

“I have something you might like”, Sarah said. To say I was excited to review Waterweed’s Brightest is an understatement. I’ve been trying to get my hands on it since it came out in 2017 but outside of Japan it’s nearly impossible to find. Thanks to Lockjaw Records it’ll be widely available in Europe from April 6th!

That’s not all: this Japanese band will embark on their first European tour in April as well. They’ll start off in the UK and head to the mainland as well to play in the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Germany. Audiences can expect to be floored by their heavy approach to melodic hardcore… it’s a rare opportunity to enjoy bands from the thriving Japanese punk scene on our Western shores. This is a do not miss.

I must say I’m already a Waterweed fan. I am quite fond of their earlier records but was a bit worried when I heard mixed things about Brightest. “They became soft. It’s too poppy. It’s not fast enough,” some fans said. As far as I’m concerned, they are dead wrong. This album is a perfect mix of heavy and melodic.

The first song Red Eyes definitely sets the pace, though the tracks that follow appeal to me far more. From the second track Beyond The Ocean onward, the album becomes a lot more melodic and the vocal harmonies flow together smoothly, which leaves me excited for what’s left to come on the album. Continue reading “Album Review: Waterweed – Brightest”