Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – Post-

Mark takes a listen to Jeff’s surprise new record, dropped unexpectedly in our laps on New Year’s Day. FFO: Early Weezer, The Smith Street Band and Joyce Manor.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

My level of fandom for punk savant Jeff Rosenstock currently resembles the awe I felt as a tween discovering rock music for the very first time. I know that Jeff would feel very uncomfortable being labelled as a genius or some kind of scene saviour, but this self-deprecating, humbled outlook is all part of a package that has made Jeff my favourite musician and a personal inspiration.

What it ultimately comes down to is generosity and good intentions; Jeff and his previous band Bomb The Music Industry have always been about channeling all of that exciting punk rock energy into being the best person you can be, inclusiveness and an ethical code that allows everybody to enjoy his music for free and to attend safe, cheap shows. It doesn’t hurt that Jeff and the band release fantastic albums on a very regular basis that seamlessly blend punk, pop, indie, hardcore and ska, as well as touring endlessly.

Jeff Rosenstock post Album release Facebook quote.pngI assumed that Jeff would need to recharge for a little bit following the long haul promoting 2016’s Worry, but on New Year’s Day Jeff generously decided to bestow a brand new studio album Post- on us for free via Bandcamp and Quote Unquote Records with no warning or fanfare. Initially, as was the case with Worry, Post- feels a little underwhelming in the wake of its immediate predecessor. As with all of Rosenstock’s albums it takes a few listens to fully absorb all of the great things about Jeff’s songwriting. However, 40 plays later I can happily confirm that Post- continues the streak of excellence that previous releases Worry and We Cool established, but in some unexpected ways.

PUP Jeff Rosenstock Quote

Opener USA is a mammoth 7 minutes and sets the blueprint for all that follows. Jeff’s voice is stronger; a little bit of vocal restraint being exercised in service of songwriting. Post- was written in the wake of Trump’s election and a lot of the subject matter is reflective of the collective anxiety we’re all living in; “I fought the law, but the law was cheating,” is one of the best lyrics on the record. The explosive, “We’re tired, we’re bored,” refrain at the end is another example of Jeff’s ability to put several main chorus-worthy hooks into a single song.

Yr Throat is a personal highlight. It kicks off with an almost Iron Maiden-ish gallop before exploding into a big earworm chorus that reminds me of Boys And Girls In America-era Hold Steady thanks to Dan Potthast’s lovely keys. There’s a bright, hopeful clap-along middle section that filled me with joy from the first time I heard it.

We then have my undisputed favourite All This Useless Energy, which has a Weezer Blue Album vibe with its mid-tempo chug and sombre opening riff. The verse is one of the best melodies that Jeff has ever sung. It concludes with my favourite closure to any Rosenstock song: “Oh please, you’re not fooling anyone when you say you tried your best. Because you can’t be your best anything when you can’t get any rest.”

Powerlessness is a jaunty, faster song more reminiscent of a track from We Cool than anything else here. It’s a great song but probably still my least favourite here.

TV Stars is a big dreamy, Beatlesy ballad, with big harmonies and lush full instrumentation. It’s really mature songwriting and in the hands of any big pop artist would be a hit single (I don’t mean that as a negative, though).

Melba is amazing and for most fans it’ll probably be the standout track, as it includes arguably the strongest chorus on the record. It seamless segues into the immediate, short and simple pop of Beating My Head Against A Wall which is insanely catchy.

Another highlight in an album full of highlights is the Laura Stevenson duet 9/10, which is another lovely keyboard-driven ballad. It feels like a musical departure of sorts, moreso than anything else on the album. John Dedomenici’s bass playing really stands out here.

Jeff likes to close out his albums pretty bombastically and, in typical fashion, Let Them Win is an 11 minute slow stomp of a protest song that finishes things perfectly.

Overall, I’d say even though Post- is relatively short, and doesn’t quite hit the heady highs of Worry, it is still consistently brilliant and a continuation of Jeff’s seemingly never-ending winning streak.

You have no reason not to check this out right now.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

EP Review: Kiss Me, Killer – Beware!

Ferocious metal-tinged riot grrl garage-punk from Bristol! Noisy! Angry! Catchy!

Review by Ollie Stygall.

There is so much more to Bristol than funny accents, Massive Attack, Skins, Banksy, Portishead, Tricky, Concord, a dubious history of slave trading and disgraced TV personality Justin Lee Collins. Bristol has a long relationship with punk rock going back nearly 40 years. In the early 80’s the Riot City label launched the careers of local bands Vice Squad and Chaos UK, who are both still going strong alongside other local outcasts Disorder. Later in the 80’s labels such as C.O.R and Manic Ears and fanzines such as Skate Muties From The Fifth Dimension and Bugs And Drugs kept the city at the forefront of the burgeoning hardcore scene. It’s good to see that bands such as Kiss Me, Killer are keeping the flag flying in the city.

Kiss Me Killer EP Review.jpg

Kiss Me, Killer are a five piece self-styled ‘ferocious, hooky, riot grrrl garage punk’ band and, I have to say, their description pretty much makes my review unnecessary as it does sum them up to a tee. Boasting influences from psychedelic originators The 13th Floor Elevators, to garage pioneers MC5 and The Stooges, to punk stalwarts such as The Mob and The Ruts, to old school metal and riot grrrls Bikini Kill, Kiss Me, Killer are very much a product of their diverse influences. On this EP they offer up four tracks of hard hitting, snarling yet melodic punk rock. Continue reading “EP Review: Kiss Me, Killer – Beware!”

Interview: Shoreline on German Punk, UK Tours and Their New EP

We talk to German melodic punks, Shoreline, about the Münster punk scene, what it’s like touring the UK and the release of their new record.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Shoreline are a melodic punk band from Münster, Germany. They are due to release their debut EP You Used To Be A Safe Place on 19th January 2018 via Uncle M Records. They’re celebrating by touring Germany with Great Collapse plus a stint in the UK, including dates in Manchester, London, Nottingham, Cardiff and Worcester.

I’m a huge fan of You Used To Be A Safe Place already. It will appeal to fans of angsty melodic indie-punk like The Menzingers and Gnarwolves although it’s got a gritty quality to it that only a smaller band can deliver. The current single Breakfast (at 5pm) is a memorable little tune with brighter guitars and a grittier vocal; it gives me flash-foward fantasties of jostling sweatily through a drunken crowd at The Fighting Cocks, singing along at the top of my lungs. The final track on the EP, Silent Friend, has future-anthem written all over it. It’s so close to Cavalcade-era Flatliners that I’ve struggled to stop listening to it.

Shoreline You Used To Be A Safe Place Interview

I always think that a band travelling from the European mainland to tour the UK is a good sign – it’s not easy to get bookings, so they tend to know what they’re doing both musically and within the DIY scene. We spoke to singer/guitarist Hansol Seung about the Münster punk scene, the differences in touring the UK vs. Mainland Europe and their new release.

Hi Hansol! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for having me.

Tell us a bit about the band. How did you get started?

We started the band in fall 2015. At first it was just Julius [guitar/vocals] and me [guitar/vocals]. I think we met through some weird Facebook students group, in a comment section about our music taste, where he’s listed some of my favourite bands. We eventually met at shows and became friends – that was around 2014, I think. We were always talking about starting a really fast-paced, melodic punk rock band, just like NOFX or The Flatliners.

We searched for a drummer for such a long time, it was mental. We finally found one in Martin, who was playing in his old band Words Ring True back then. To be honest, we’d known each other for quite a while! I even filled in on bass for them once or twice, but it took a while for us to ask him if he wanted to join us. He seemed really busy with Words Ring True and Julius and I were looking for someone who would dedicate as much time as we would, rather than seeing our band as sort of a side project. Turned out Martin was ready to do so and ever since then he has put so much effort into Shoreline that we’ve never ever questioned his dedication for this project.

Tobias, our bassist was the last one to join us. I knew him from university, since we shared a lot of the same lectures. He wasn´t too much into punk rock back then, but it came together nicely ever since the first rehearsal.

 

 

 

I’ve never been to Münster. What’s the punk scene like there?

The punk scene in Münster is awesome. There are so many bands and people creating things, promoters and people who dig this kind of music. Most of the bands of our genre know each other; we´re all friends really. A lot of the bands also tour a lot and get themselves out there. I think I have hung out with Michel from Hal Johnson in sweaty DIY Venues all over Europe. I´d say there are few cities in Germany or in Europe in general (that I personally know of) that have such a personal, close and flourishing punk scene like Münster has. We are really fortunate to be a part of it. Continue reading “Interview: Shoreline on German Punk, UK Tours and Their New EP”

EP Review: Alright – EP 3

Fresh, rough punk from Bolton, featuring 3/5ths of AVAS. FFO: The Steal, The Stupids and The Instigators.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Frank Zappa once posed the question, “Does humour belong in music?” The answer is a resounding and unequivocal, “Yes!” Alright are a straight-down-the-line punk rock 3-piece from Bolton who claim to be ‘too fat and lazy to play live’, which is a shame as, if this EP is anything to go by they would be an absolute blast. Alright have a sense of humour; even their name is imbued with a self-deprecating wit… “Who are you?”, “We’re Alright.” The humour extends to the blurb that accompanied this release which was almost apologetic suggesting, “If you fancied wasting your time with a review of it then we’d enjoy that.” I suspect these guys, despite the self-effacing humour, know that they’re doing something pretty good.

This EP barely scrapes the 2 minute mark across the 2 songs here, which in many ways makes it almost perfect punk rock. To my ravaged ears these guys remind me of the first time I heard The Stupids, that is to say this is fast-as-fuck but there is an underlying sense of melody that gives it an almost, dare I say, sing along vibe. I suspect that may be an accident on the band’s part but it’s there nonetheless. Despite the brevity of their songs and the sheer tempo, Alright do manage to add plenty of dynamics in a short space of time, even down to some tasty NYHC-style metallic breakdowns. Although the 2 songs here are a breakneck 1 minute 23 and 53 seconds respectively, they are fully fledged and fully structured and far more than just a throwaway blast of noise.

Continue reading “EP Review: Alright – EP 3”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

Descendents 2

This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

Wotsit Called Fest.jpg

2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

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At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”

Top 5 Album Releases of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite picks from a year of brilliant new albums.

Article by Sarah Williams.

By sticking to the classic Top 5 format for our end-of-year round-up, I’ve really made a rod for my own back. It would be easier to write a Top 10 or a Top 40 with all the amazing releases this year.

As a result, there are some surprising absences from my Top 5. Propagandhi’s Victory Lap has received a lot of repeat play at Shout Louder HQ, but I’d still take any of these smaller bands over it. Bear Trade, Matilda’s Scoundrels and 88 Fingers Louie have all put out brilliant full-lengths. I’m a huge fan of The Smith Street Band, but for me More Scared of You Than You Are of Me just doesn’t have the sheer gut-wrenching emotive force of their earlier releases. I feel similarly about The MenzingersAfter The Party.

Shamefully, I’ve not given enough time to Iron Chic’s You Can’t Stay Here or Hard GirlsFloating Now to include them, although I know I’m going to become obsessed with both. I only recently heard Hateful Monday’s Unfrightened but that would definitely be on the Top 5 if I had got to it sooner! There are also plenty of less punk releases that I have enjoyed. If you’re into Canadian hardcore then You’re Not You Anymore by Counterparts will be a highlight. One of my other favourites has been Thundercat’s Drunk – it’s fabulously eclectic stoner/soul/nu-jazz stuff.

I have one final thing to mention before I get on with it: the new Only Strangers album. The release has been pushed back to 2018, but had it been released in December as planned there is no doubt that it would be in my Top 5. I’ve been rinsing a pre-release copy on repeat for weeks. If you like gruff melodic punk like The Burnt Tapes, Hot Water Music or Iron Chic, keep an eye out for the release in the next few weeks.

Finally, here are my Top 5 Albums of 2017:

#5: Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad Roach Cover

Aerial Salad are a refreshing suprise. There is something exciting about their debut album that I can’t explain; it has a modern-classic air to it. Songs like Habits and Problems are instantly memorable and relatable. The bassline on Check My Mind is as comforting as your pulse. The opening line to 97, ‘I just told my Mum I’m gonna kill myself, it’s so easy now,’ is so raw it burns. Roach is an album with guts.

It’s even more suprising that the album sounds refreshing, because in many way it’s copy-cat familiar: Aerial Salad’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Greenday, PUP, Gnarwolves, Jawbreaker and Nirvana. The is a raw quality to the production and rough delivery that makes the album sound fresh, unique and special. Discovering Roach is like finding £50 discarded and trampled in the street. Give it a listen and get ready to become obsessed.

Check out our 2-part interview with Jamie Munro here and here, plus our review of Roach here.

 

#4: Gnarwolves – Outsiders

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Gnarwolves are a somewhat marmite band within the scene, but for me Outsiders is merely further proof that they can do no wrong musically. From the warm, plaintive opening of Straightjacket I am completely and utterly hooked. ‘I found love at the bottoms of bottles, the edges of twilight where my Sunday slips into my Monday,’ is a fitting introduction to Thom Weeks’ evocative and memorable songwriting. The album then cascades through equally dark and uplifting tracks like Wires and Paint Me A Martyr, full of appealing melodies, hooks and infectious refrains. Continue reading “Top 5 Album Releases of 2017”