Album Review: Sounds of Swami – Furniture for Modern Living

Sounds of Swami’s second album delivers raw post-hardcore full of live energy. FFO: Fugazi, Fucked Up and At The Drive In.

Review by Jake Jeremy.

When a band says that their latest album is ‘recorded live onto 2″ tape in a converted chapel’ they instantly have my attention. Furniture for Modern Living by Sounds of Swami shows a raw and rough approach to recording that is lacking in today’s Pro Tools marketplace.

Sounds of Swami are a well known post-hardcore act who excel in mixing punk and atmospheric noise in an inventive, prog-influenced style, underpinned by lyrics that promote left-wing politics and DIY sensibilities. They’ve built up a strong reputation for exciting, aggressive live shows and they’ve captured that live intensity on Furniture for Modern Living. This follows their self-titled debut album and two EPs, all of which had had a uniquely raw production style that’s further developed on the new record.

Album opener Lull gives a lush post-rock sheen akin to ISIS and Godspeed. It draws you into a release full of dynamic shifts and a real sense of space. Guillotine takes the not-quite dissonant aspects of Lull but has solid riff work at it’s core. It is a more dynamic track that segues nicely into the next more traditionally hardcore song. Kill Me Already sounds like Fucked Up had a baby with Queens of the Stone Age and it grew up listening to Royal Blood. It is a phenomenal track, and a clear testament to the live ability of a band that have a real chemistry together. Continue reading “Album Review: Sounds of Swami – Furniture for Modern Living”

EP Review: Arms & Hearts – Fortitude

Arms & Hearts’ second release is a short, passionate EP full of heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting. FFO: The Gaslight Anthem, Chuck Ragan and Ducking Punches.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Arms & Hearts has just released Fortitude, their second EP, via Real Ghost Records. The short release sounds like a glimmer of lonely hope, with heartfelt lyrics and a big-room production feel.

First track, Fortitude is a bright, foot-tapping acoustic song. It’s our first taste of Arms & Hearts wistful, romantic and comfortingly cliched songwriting. “Home is wherever you happen to be that night,” is such a pure turn of phrase that it sends an arrow straight through your heart. The warm tones tells you their live show is going to be at its best in quirky, intimate venues; ideal for a candlelit date-night with your tattooed sweetheart.

The introduction to second track, Dagger Eyes has a reverberating big-room feel, not unlike The Gaslight Anthem’s slower pieces. The chorus has a gritty vocal refrain that would sound right coming from Brian Fallon, although there’s a clear Chuck Ragan influence also. The instrumentation across both tracks speaks similarly of Gaslight, but also of some of the more resonant pieces by City and Colour. The lyrics call up ‘broken glass’, ‘bleeding hearts’ and ‘blood on your hands’, further adding to the restorative Americana-type feel that’s present in both songs. That being said, there’s a British twang in the vocal that reminds me a lot of the solo Ducking Punches sound.

Arms & Hearts are touring with Chicago’s Andrew Paley, who’s known for similar heart-on-your-sleeve folk stylings. Make a date for one of the following:

  • 1st December: Manchester, Gullivers
  • 2nd December: Leeds, Singleshot
  • 3rd December: Nottingham, The Angel
  • 5th December: Peterborough, The Ostrich inn
  • 6th December: Brighton, The Pipeline

Fortitude was released on November 20th on Real Ghost Records, and it’s available for pay-what-you-want download from their Bandcamp. Make sure you check out Arms & Hearts on Facebook too.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Album Review: Thanx 4 All The Shoes – Another Ride

The intense and heartfelt third album from Italy’s Thanx 4 All The Shoes is a solid skate-punk/thrash offering. FFO: Propagandhi, Strung Out, NOFX.

Review by Jake Jeremy.

Another Ride is the third album from Italian melodic hardcore outfit Thanx 4 All The Shoes, due to be released on November 25th on Disconnect Disconnect Records in the UK.

In their 11 years together, Thanx 4 All The Shoes have toured all over mainland Europe and Japan, building a reputation for their technical skill and thought-provoking lyrical messages. You can expect shades of melodic hardcore and thrash in the style of Propagandhi and Strung Out, however with a name like Thanx 4 All The Shoes I’m slightly gutted I’m not listening to a NOFX tribute band. Either way, I’m jumping in with gleefully expectant ears.

Opening track One Pen One Book instantly draws comparisons to Propagandhi, but I’m actually getting more of an 80’s thrash vibe from the quickly muted guitar attack and vocal approach. Think Anthrax and Megadeth if Chris Hannah wrote their newest tracks. It is a solid opening and a promising precursor to the rest of this album.

Title track Another Ride and it’s much of the same: fast and melodic with a twin guitar attack reminiscent of Propagandhi. What stands out most is the high-flying vocal harmonies and METAL AS HELL midsection where small guitar flourishes embellish another 80’s thrash thrill ride. This is what I want from this band: the sections where they truly let fly and break away from what’s ‘expected’ within standard modern hardcore are what set them apart. Continue reading “Album Review: Thanx 4 All The Shoes – Another Ride”

EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke

Tim Loud and Revenge of The Psychotronic Man translate a drunken idea into a beautiful reality.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men’s little EP Some of These People Have Come From Stoke is one of those marvellous bits of nonsense that make the DIY punk scene the best place to be.

The EP is a three-song collaboration between Revenge of The Psychotronic Man (famous for delivering ridiculously fast, fun noise) and Tim Loud (famous for fronting long-dead aggro-folks Bootscraper, and for his own antifolk solo material). Whilst on tour in April they drunkenly decided that a joint recording would be a great idea; the result is three quite different tracks, reflecting their individual tastes rather than their normal musical output. It’s a rollicking ride through punk rock mayhem, and it’ll be a great gem to look back on in years to come.

The EP opens with an Alan Partridge quote that explains the title, although it’s also a nod to Tim Loud and (drummer) Big Hands’ Stoke heritage. The first track The Queen is Dead, Long Live The King Singers is pretty classic, catchy anti-establishment punk, talking about knocking people off their pedestals. 

The second track Oh Yeah, Motorcycle is all hair metal, with a huge doom-laden build-up that’s every bit Motorhead. The song descends into some shreddery before returning to the heavy introductory riff, closing on a decrescendo of feedback and distortion. It’s masses of fun to sing-along to the lyrically profound chorus, “Ooooooohh yeeaaah, motorcycle!” although the song’s actually about what wankers motorcyclists can be. This is premium pit-fodder, and I really hope Revenge start playing this one live. 

The third and final track Sensible Party is a return to a fuzzier punk rock format, although it’s still got plenty of rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks. The clear highlights of this song are the brilliant tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “If you’re still here then grab a coffee son, the party has only just begun,” or, “If it’s too busy we’ll find a fucking book and hide.” One almost gets the impression that these guys may not be inclinded to have a ‘sensible’ party as they’re so virtuously proclaiming. This is my new favourite party anthem, and it’s been firmly lodged in my head for over a week. Continue reading “EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke”

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy @ The Waterfront [09/11/2017]

The JB Conspiracy play This Machine in full to celebrate 10 years since its release, at The Waterfront in Norwich.

Reven by Sarah Williams.

When The JB Conspiracy announced that would be touring to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of This Machine I nearly fell off my chair.

Have I seriously been listening to This Machine for 10 whole years? God knows how many times I’ve played it. It was on constant repeat through most of 2008-10 for me and I regularly revisit it. I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite albums of all time, and certainly one of the only releases from 10 years ago that I still feel is every bit as relevant now as it was then.

The record has a timeless quality that has enabled it to surpass many of the other albums of it’s time. Although they’re a ska punk band, it’s an awful lot more than that. The instrumentation is second to none; there’s a huge amount of intelligence and love that’s gone into all of the parts, especially the sterling horn section. They keep a dancing pace throughout the record that’s impossible to resist. This eight-piece from London have been going for an awfully long time and they’re still just as lively as ever.

Before the show I run into Bobble (of Faintest Idea fame) and ask him how the tour is going so far, as he’s playing trombone with The JB. “I get to play This Machine every single night!” he says, “Every night! This is the best thing ever!”

JB Conspiracy This Machine Tour

I amble into The Waterfront in Norwich just as Jim Higgs is starting his set. He’s got a roster of heartfelt pop songs, which he accompanies with some springy acoustic guitar. He’s got a delightfully smooth voice to go with it, and throws a Dido cover into a set filled with appealing original tunes.

Local three-piece Other Half are up next. When I picked up their album earlier this year it quickly jumped up the list of my favourite recent releases, so I’ve been quite excited to see them live again. It’s angsty, atmospheric indie-punk with a brilliant blend of male and female vocals, very much on par with bands like Hard Girls.

Disaster strikes at the end of the first song when Cal’s guitar string breaks, starting off a quite hilarious series of quips and tales of awkwardness. “Mr Soundman,” Cal asks, “Can I turn up the distortion on my guitar to hide all the mistakes?” He asks bassist, Sophie, to fill in on the talking while he tunes up. She he looks discomforted by this prospect, but she goes on to tell us a story of how bad her day has gone, which has the entire audience in stitches. Their stage presence is delightfully awkward and works perfectly with their moody, introspective sound. The highlight of their set is Misery Movement, the title track from their album, which I recommend you all check out. Continue reading “Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy @ The Waterfront [09/11/2017]”

Punk Rock Weddings Special: Claire & Craig [Part 3 of 3]

Part 3: Claire and Craig get hitched at Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas, then celebrate with some amazing bands!

Feature by Sarah Williams.

Welcome to Part Three of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender! In our final instalment, we talk to Claire Core and Craig McGarry, who got hitched at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. They’re huge punk enthusiasts and regulars at many of the big gigs around the country. Although they live only a few miles from Shout Louder HQ in Suffolk, I run into them more often at events like MPF, Wonkfest and Rebellion.

Craig’s originally from Rochdale, whereas Claire’s born and bred in Suffolk. They are one of the most heartwarmingly lovely couples you could possibly imagine; whenever I see then they’re utterly enamoured with one another. The story of how they got together is beautiful and, after meeting at a punk festival, it seems only fitting that they should get married at one too.

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Firstly, tell me a bit about yourselves. How did you first get into punk?

  • Claire: My sister and cousins got me into punk when I was 7 years old and it’s always been a big part of who I am.  I have a huge love for punk in all its forms and really enjoy discovering a new favourite band.  Current favourites include Pears, who never fail to exhilarate live, Pizzatramp, Direct Hit! and, of course, I’m a huge Wonker.
  • Craig: I got into punk and metal when I was in high school, hanging out with friends skating and going to the odd gig here and there. There was a punk night locally that we went to regularly as getting served was a cinch. Loved it all since then. I’m a huge Misfits fan and an unashamed AFI devotee. I’ve also got a bit of a thing for most psychobilly as well as with celtic or folk punk.

You guys have had a fairly speedy advance through this love stuff. That’s no bad thing! Talk us through how you met.

  • Claire:  It was at Manchester Punk Festival 2016 after the bands at the Zombie Shack.  Craig was bouncing around trying to make everyone have MORE FUN, as he is inclined to do, and I propositioned him.  I liked his dance moves and his big daft face.

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings Special: Claire & Craig [Part 3 of 3]”

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

Kaz and Big Hands Wedding 1

How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]”