Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD

In the world of Spotify and MP3s, the humble mix CD has taken a backstep. Take my advice and don’t forget them: they can be a gift, an education or a window into your own past.

There are few ways to reach my heart or mind like a mix CD. They can be the ultimate romantic gesture, a thoughtful gift for a friend, or way to share new bands you’ve discovered. A mix CD can also be a time-capsule, reminding you of your former-self; what better way to wrap up your memories?

Like many people in their late 20s/early 30s, I grew up with a very romanticised view of mixtapes and mix CDs. I am too young for mixtapes, really. My parents had a stereo with a tape deck in the kitchen, and I remember my Dad showing me how to record songs off the radio but CDs were already in vogue. The concept of the A and B sides and the meticulous effort that went into their recording wasn’t lost on me, though.

For me, what cemented the idea of the mixtape as the ultimate thoughtful gesture was High Fidelity. The opening scene of the film features protagonist Rob Gordon – flawed romantic and record-store owner – explaining the rules for compiling songs:

This stuck with me, and I abided by those arbitrary rules when making mixes throughout my teenage years.

Growing up, I made mix CDs for my friends. I wanted them to love music as much as I did, and to share all the exciting new bands I kept stumbling upon. I was over the moon when a friend would return the favour. My friend Jessie has the most beautiful handwriting, her words used to melt delicately across the CD covers. I still cherish a CD that a school pal, Jennie, made for me: without even looking, I remember the autumn leaves on the cover. Sleater Kinney was the first track. I listened to that on repeat for weeks because I was so chuffed that someone had gone to that amount of effort for me.

Nowadays I still exchange mix CDs with friends, but it’s a more practical affair. My friend Mark loves music but enjoys different genres to me, so we exchanged our favourite songs as an introduction. I’m listening to it right now; it’s different but I love it.

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I’ve made mix CDs for most of my past romantic conquests.  Just after we got together, an ex made me a mix that featured I’m The One by Descendents – a move which won my affections for years to come. I used to listen to that mix over and over again; it was like being wrapped in a giant warm blanket. Continue reading “Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD”

Album Review: The Crash Mats – 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics

The Oldham trio have just released 28 minutes of irreverent ska/punk ‘n’ roll nonsense that captures all the energy and hilarity of their live shows. FFO: Snuff, Teenage Bottlerocket and having a good time.

This weekend super-fun ska punks The Crash Mats released their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. It’s 28 minutes of solid comedy gold, out on Horn & Hoof records now. Spoiler alert: there’s not a panpipe in sight.

The trio from Oldham have been around since 2008, and yet ‘maturity’ is the last word you’d use to describe this record. Their songs are short, snappy punk ditties and that can’t fail to plaster a grin on your face, covering such thought-provoking topics as The North, getting high and how your parents may react to finding a dead babysitter. If you’ve had the joy of catching The Crash Mats live before, you’ll know they’re unbelievably fast and fun. Before I saw them I’d never had the opportuntity to skank along to the Chucklevision theme tune and I am eternally grateful to them for that. 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics take all of that energy and delivers it staight to your living room.

The Crash Mats 69 Peruvian Pan Pipe Classics

The album opens with an invitation to join them on a Hot Air Balloon Ride (“Would you like a ride in my hot air balloon?”), rolling through to Drive Me to Drink (“You drive me to drink, you drive me to drink.”) and heavier Oldham’s National Anthem (“Meat pie, chips and gravy!”). The Crash Mats are by no means lyrical genuises, but they sure do get their point across. It’s fun on record, but the drunken-singalong potential live is second-to-none. Continue reading “Album Review: The Crash Mats – 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics”

Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]

“We change our suits every time we do a record. The embarrassment of our smell is the incentive to write more material.”

For three years, Nosebleed have been gallivanting around the country, bewildering audiences with their energetic live performances. They play lo-fi punk ‘n’ roll with panache, with a reputation for being band-of-the-night even when they’re not top of the bill.

Their live shows defy comparison: it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Ben and Eliott are seemingly incapable of remaining on-stage and usually cause a ruckus by hauling their mic-stands and guitars into the crowd, continuing the show in the middle of the dancefloor. It goes far beyond the average pit-and-pyramid format seen at most punk gigs (although you get that too). Stylishly decked out in blue velour suits, western ties and polished brogues, visually they have more in common with a ‘50s variety show than the hardcore punk bills they tend to play.

Since 2014 they’ve also released two EPs and a Greatest Hits album Hit After Hit After Hit (which contains every song from the EPs). To say that every song they’ve recorded is a greatest hit isn’t an overstatement: they’re all infectious garage-punk bangers that’ll stick in your head for weeks on end.

I was lucky enough to have a natter with the northern trio ahead of their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich: Eliott Verity (guitar + vocals), Ben Hannah (bass + vocals) and Dicky Riddims (drums + massive grins).

They’re just as entertaining to talk to as they are on stage. Enjoy.

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Ben and Eliott out in the crowd at The Smokehouse.

Welcome to Ipswich! We’re seriously excited for your set. Have you always done the jumping-out-in-the-crowd thing?

  • Eliott: Yeah, from the very beginning we’ve done that.
  • Ben: I think it started in London. It was the bar!
  • Eliott: I was really thirsty [during our set in London] so I went to the bar, and I just carried on playing. And then it became a thing. I mean it kinda came from my brother, who was in a band called The Franceens. They did it a lot, and I thought, yeah, that’s cool. I’m doing that.
  • Ben: You stole it.
  • Eliott: We stole it. It made them go away, and now it’s just us.

Dicky, when Ben and Eliott are out cavorting in the crowd, you’re left all on your own on stage. Do you ever feel a bit left out?

  • Dicky: Well, I always say that I come out to play music with my mates and I always end up sat on my own. No one recognises me.
  • Eliott: No one knows who Dicky is. People walk past him to come to me, to say, “Is there someone here selling your merch?” Some guys asked Dicky, “Do you know anyone in Nosebleed who could sell me a t-shirt?”
  • Ben: We were in Oldham last week. This guy comes up to me to say ‘good set’. He shook my hand and then just looked at Dicky and nodded. Dicky [looked a bit deflated] and the guy was like, “What was up with him?”
  • Dicky: It’s awful. [Cracks up laughing]

2sickmonkeys-nosebleeds-bobbyfunk-12Do you ever wish you could sit down and do a nice acoustic set?

  • Eliott: Not even an acoustic set; I wish I could quit music.
  • [Laughter]
  • Ben: It was originally talked about for Boomtown. Alec and Laura Freestone [who run Last Gang In Town / Devil Kicks Dancehall] asked if we would be interested in playing acoustic, as they only normally put acoustic on The Last Stand… I can’t imagine how that would sound. I’m actually terrible at bass, I just hide it with distortion! Eliott solos all the time but it’d be a bit plinky-plonky on an acoustic guitar.
  • Eliott: We could do one of the swing sets we’ve done: swing covers and stuff like that.
  • Ben: We’ve recorded some lounge music.
  • Eliott: But that’s just for us. It was going to be a ghost track on a CD but it never happened.

Continue reading “Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]”

EP Review: Sombulance – Lifer

The new release from South Coast skate-punks Sombulance is a lesson in creativity and precision. FFO: A Wilhelm Scream, Darko and Propagandhi.

Sombulance have that exciting new-favourite-band quality that traps your heart in your throat when you first stumble across it. Based in Southsea, this quintet are yet more proof that the finest melodic hardcore in the UK originates from the South Coast. They’ve been together since 2005 and released a full album back in 2010, so they’re hardly a ‘new’ band, but they’ve recently reassembled and refreshed their line-up so it feels like a new start. Since catching their explosive set at Manchester Punk Festival in 2016, I’ve been eager to hear more from them, and I was lucky enough to catch them slaying the Beach Stage at Punk Rock Holiday – one of my highlights of the week.

Lifer was released at the beginning of August, just in time for PRH and live shows with Pears and Darko. Sombulance play especially melodic skate-punk, underpinned by themes of regret and redemption. Expect 18 minutes of intricate, thoughtful composition, technical guitar and memorable song-writing. Sharing their new drummer, Marc Morey, with progressive thrash virtuosos, Almeida, the EP is also blessed with fast-paced, creative percussion. Lifer is an big advancement on their 2010 album A Cynic’s Response, particularly in terms of production quality.

The EP opens with The Articulation of Afterthoughts, a bittersweet and reflective love song with some of the most heart-wrenching lyrics on the record, “When she comes around the world seems a little brighter, and when she takes control my shoulders become lighter… When explanations fail to make you see what’s true, I am alone, I’m here with you.” In terms of composition, this is one of the most accomplished tracks on the album, coaxing the listener through a dynamic story that adeptly blends lyrics and melody. The elaborate layers of guitar sound like a waterfall rushing by, blending in delicate, brighter tones in the middle. Ant Harrison and Will Pearce’s dual guitars flow with force and beauty through all 6 tracks, giving Sombulance their unique edge.

The coda slides nicely into Lessons Lost, which is a heavier but punctuated by livelier, brighter drum lines. Throughout the all 6 songs, there’s not a single bar without layers of imaginative nuances that really hold your attention. The attention to detail in their composition is impressive, each listen piquing a new interest. Continue reading “EP Review: Sombulance – Lifer”

Album Review: Matilda’s Scoundrels – As The Tide Turns

The first full-length release from this Hastings’ sextet is a masterstroke in modern aggro-folk. FFO: Roughneck Riot, Levellers and Dropkick Murphys.

A few weeks ago, TNS Records posted a teaser for the debut Matilda’s Scoundrels album. I squealed, spilled coffee on my keyboard and got laughed at by my colleagues, before immediately hitting BUY on their pre-order.

Matilda’s Scoundrels formed in 2014 and have since honed their act through hard-graft, rum and good-natured dispositions, touring restlessly around the UK and Europe. They have earned a reputation as a can’t-miss band on the UK DIY circuit for their rambunctious performances. It’s hard to compete with songs like Pisshead’s Anthem, from their EP Crowley’s Curse, for a better boozy crowd-pleaser. One of my favourite memories is their opening set at 2016’s Manchester Punk Festival: despite the early hour, they instantly transformed Sound Control into a boozy brawl, complete with crowd-surfing in an inflatable dinghy.

With raucous drinking bands like Matilda’s there’s always a risk that their recorded material will not stand up to their live show, and I’d argue that their previous release Crowley’s Curse and their split with The Barracks didn’t do justice to their outstanding performances. Fortunately, they’ve exceeded themselves with As The Tide Turns: every songs sounds as good recorded as it does live, if not better.

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The 10-track album uses a familiar formula: protest songs played fast on traditional instruments, accompanied by angry vocals, overdriven guitars and a tendency towards inebriation. It’s designed for drinking, dancing and disorder.

However, As The Tide Turns is much more than a rowdy folk album. The top recording quality allows the variety of layered instrumentation to shine in a way that you cannot appreciate in a live setting, adding a real depth and authenticity to their sound. Listen to the album through a decent stereo, and marvel at the amount of thought and skill that’s gone into these compositions.   Continue reading “Album Review: Matilda’s Scoundrels – As The Tide Turns”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September

We’ve done the hard work for you and found the best gigs September has to offer. Get out there and support your local venues.

You’ve survived the summer. You’ve had a hectic few months of eating, drinking, socialising, spending and sunning yourself. You’re savouring the last opportunities to enjoy a pub garden after work on a weekday. Hopefully you’ve caught plenty of sweaty summer shows, some outdoor community concerts and maybe even a festival or two.

Once the August Bank Holiday weekend is over you can stop, right? You can knuckle down to the daily grind, vegetate with Netflix on your sofa and save up your pennies for Christmas. Nope! I hate to break it to you but there’s still an awful lot happening…

We’ve done the hard work and found the best of September’s gigs for you to enjoy:

Wotsit Called Festival

  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • When: Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September
  • Who: The Restarts, Nosebleed, Riggots, Pizzatramp…
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £10 advance, £15 OTD

Hosted by the lovely folks in Matilda’s Scoundrels under the Toxic Wotsit moniker, Wotsit Called Fest is two days of straight-up bangers bound to get you stomping feet, throwing elbows and sinking pints with aplomb.

Nosebleed will be royally cavorting around The Palace as headliners on Friday – there are few more exciting things than their riffy punk ‘n’ roll. It’s also the launch party for Matilda’s new album As The Tide Turns, so folk-dancing with reckless abandon is mandatory.

Starting early, Saturday features London thrashers The Restarts, Wigan’s heaviest duo: Riggots, northern post-hardcore from The Fuckin’ Glorious and ska-punk comedy gold from The Crash Mats. There will be cocktails and DJs until 2am which sounds like a delightfully dangerous combination. Not to be missed!

In the meantime, enjoy their pre-fest playlist:


Kick The Crutches All Dayer

  • Where: The New Cross Inn, London
  • When: Saturday 23rd September
  • Who: Vanilla Pod, The Kimberly Steaks, Müg, On a Hiding to Nothing
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £5 early bird

I can guarantee this is the most fun you will find for £5 this September.

Deep breath! For this princely sum you can see… Vanilla Pod, The Kimberley Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Misgivings, Müg, BROCKER, On A Hiding To Nothing, Werecats, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Strange Planes and Fastfade. Phew!

With that many bands, I’m not sure how they’re going to fit any punters in the venue. The merch table’s going to need its own postcode. There are probably some bands you’ve heard of and some you haven’t, so why not get down early and enjoy the whole lot? It’s a great opportunity to discover someone new.

If you catch one band, make sure it’s The Kimberly Steaks. They’re everything that Greenday could have been:

Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September”

Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark

Colin’s Punk Rock World is one of the best punk blogs out there. Colin and I are swapping posts, so he can shout about why he loves punk so much.

Hello! My name is Colin and I write for the punk rock blog Colin’s Punk Rock World (or CPRW for short). A few months ago I cyber bumped into Sarah from Shout Louder, this blog you’re currently reading. After initially trying to recruit her for CPRW we struck up a friendship and decided to do some blog swaps and some collaborations. The first of these blog swaps will be pieces on why we love punk rock so much. So why do I, Colin from Colin’s Punk Rock World (CPRW for short) love punk rock so much?

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Colin enjoying some punk rock pizza.

I feel like that before I really begin I should give a brief account of how I first discovered punk rock. I, like many of you reading this was a teenager who was slowly finding out who they were. It was 1998 and The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) was just released. I didn’t know The Offspring’s previous punk rock history or that this was even punk rock music but I was hooked and eventually got the album Americana that Christmas. Soon I discovered more punk bands such as Green Day and Blink 182 before digging slightly deeper and eventually discovering bands like Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory and Dropkick Murphys. I loved these bands but it wasn’t what really tipped me over the edge of becoming fully obsessed with punk rock. It was eventually discovering underground UK bands such as [Spunge], Lightyear, Capdown, Jesse James, King Prawn and 4ft Fingers. I discovered these bands and my life changed forever.

So why do I love punk rock so much? Well first of all it’s the music. That’s blatantly obvious. If you’re reading this post it’s probably because you love punk rock music as well, so you know that it’s the best type of music. It’s fast, it’s fun, you can sing-along, it makes you dance, you can relate, you can learn, it’s passionate, it’s energetic and most importantly it’s an escape. Everyone needs some escapism in their lives, something to take them away from all of the rubbish that goes on around them on a personal level as well as a global one. There’s no better feeling than putting on your favourite record and singing along to every word. As well as just being a whole lot of fun there’s a comforting feeling to it, like spending time with an old friend. I did tell a little lie there, there is one better feeling – hearing these songs played live, in a small sweaty basement or bar and screaming along to the songs with your new best friends. I’ll talk more about live music and the people a little further down the page because next I want to talk about learning from punk rock music. Continue reading “Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark”