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”

Gig Review: Beat The Red Light Resurrected At Manchester Punk Festival

Ska-core heroes return in an majestic performance that leaves Slayer, Metallica and Maiden for dust.

Review by Sarah Williams**. Photos by Mark Richards.

Watching Beat The Red Light reform at Manchester Punk Festival 2018 was greater than witnessing the resurrection of Jesus. Their moving ska-core set was nothing short of poetry in brutality. Move over Slayer, there’s a new band in town.

Tipped to be headlining Download Festival next year, Beat The Red Light were a huge booking for an event like Manchester Punk Festival. Playing immediately after Propagandhi, there were hordes of people outside the venue begging to be let in. They took the stage to the ominous strains of Vital Remains’ Let The Killing Begin; the room felt ready to burst with anticipation.

They roar through a greatest hits set, shredding every note with the flawless skill of Opeth or Dream Theatre. The crowd know every word to Regulators and Rut, clambering over one another to scream the words back at the band. Every horn-line is chanted throughout the heaving venue. As the title suggests, Saviours is the saving grace of a festival that needed a band of this calibre to really hurtle it into the mainstream.

You would be hard-pressed to find seven more ruggedly handsome musicians on this earth. Vocalist, Daniel Pook, floats above the crowd, the stage-lights forming an appropriate halo as he reaches out to his adoring fans. Wadeye’s Gilbo clambers on stage to try and steal drummer, Tim Gardiner’s, sweat-drenched towel, no doubt with a view to making a killing on eBay. He’s gently coaxed off stage by the big-handed security guard, who are struggling to keep the enraptured audience at bay.

There are tears flowing in the front row; moist knickers flying through the air as they are hurled on stage. Bar staff drop their glasses and they stare on in awe. At the back of the venue, I spot TNS’s Tim Bevington being carried out after fainting with joy, overwhelmed by the calibre of this once-in-a-lifetime performance.

With this incendiary performance, Beat The Red Light have cemented their position as the saviours of British metal. They have single-handedly wiped Propagandhi and Iron Chic off the map. Band of the festival? Band of the Universe, more like.

Review by Sarah Williams**. Photos by Mark Richards.

**Sarah may or may not have been bribed to write this review.

Podcast #5: Jamie from Aerial Salad Chatting Utter Shite

Jamie Munro joins us a guest for this no-holds-barred episode, bonding over a love of drinking, punk rock and conversational tangents.

On Episode #5 Mark and Sarah are joined by the Aerial Salad’s loquacious frontman Jamie Munro. If you’re not already familiar with Manchester’s freshest pop-punks then this is a great chance to get to know them better.

Join us in Sarah’s living room as we bond over a love of conversational tangents and talk utter shite about the UK punk rock world. Share in the laughter as Mark ‘Hunkasaurus’ Bell makes a failed attempt to rein Jamie and Sarah in!

We cover myriad topics, including Jamie’s wholesome adventures in Disneyland, alt-girl-specific paedophilia, drug-induced escapades, an ex-girlfriend crying during Jamie’s set and a prediction for Jamie’s miserable future. We also share our love for Triple Sundae, Fastfade, Burnt Tapes, Incisions, Clayface, Pizzzatramp, Astpai, Sham City Roasters and many more.

We’ve even got an exclusive unreleased Aerial Salad track and an announcement for their upcoming European tour with The Raging Nathans. We also celebrate the line-up announcement for Polite Riot festival, including the addition of Apologies, I Have None to an incredible line-up that already features Teenage Bottlerocket and A Wilhelm Scream.

If that’s not enough for you, we’ve even got music from EAT DIRT, Two Houses and The Affect Heuristic.

Continue reading “Podcast #5: Jamie from Aerial Salad Chatting Utter Shite”

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.

Gig Review: Random Hand’s Comeback Show @ The Key Club, Leeds [17/04/2018]

Ska-core legends Random Hand return to the stage, with support from Mr Shiraz and Sounds of Swami.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Tom Marshall.

I’ve just walked out of a Random Hand gig drenched in sweat and spilled beer, having shouted my lungs hoarse and skanked non-stop for 45 minutes. It’s like 2013 all over again.

I can’t recall dancing quite so enthusiastically for a ska band since Random Hand went on hiatus in 2015; there are very few bands who give 110% live the way that they do at every single show. Tonight’s gig at the Key Club in their local city of Leeds is a special return to form ahead of a handful of festival shows this summer.

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Sounds of Swami (photo by Sarah)

Sounds Of Swami open the show, beginning with a slow, quiet section with just a bit of guitar and a gentle vocal. It’s the calm before the storm that they tear into late into the song. From Random Hand’s hometown of Keighley, they lend the show the vibe of a party with all your friends. They served as late replacements for Jesus & His Judgemental Father, but I’m much more excited to catch them, having gotten deeply into their album Furniture for Modern Living last year.

This humble four-piece are at the forefront of current post-hardcore, channelling bands like Sonic Youth and Fugazi in their own expert DIY fashion. They create a really gripping soundscape sweeps you up, lulls, then hurls you around the room. It’s lush, complex composition that’s interesting on record but utterly captivating live. There is an overwhelming amount of skill in this band that’s enabled them to be inventive and experimental with their sound. It also allows them to look totally at home with themselves on stage, producing a depth of sound that you wouldn’t think possible with just four instruments. They look like they’re having a great time doing it. Continue reading “Gig Review: Random Hand’s Comeback Show @ The Key Club, Leeds [17/04/2018]”

Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018

MPF 2018 was a special weekend for reasons beyond just the music. Sarah’s rounded up her personal highlights from the festival.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos from Mark Richards, Jimbob Taylor, Josh Sumner and Marc Gaertner.

Now widely known as Manchester Pals Fest, MPF 2018 has been even more of a blinder than previous years. I guess we knew that it would be from the moment the line-up was first announced, with Propagandhi topping it. In a landslide of Facebook posts, messages and hugs once the weekend was over, the word out there is that it’s the best festival in the UK. The three-day weekender in the Rainy City is drawing like-minded punk rock fans from all around the world.

The festival is special both as a personal and a collective experience. If you attended, you would have been amazed by the number of familiar faces in crowd. I barely had time to chat to someone properly before running into the next person. With that many dedicated, creative and intelligent people surrounding you, it’s easy to see that the UK scene is thriving at the moment. Although it felt like we were all sharing this one great, special experience, as the weekend is split between five venues around town, it’s possible that you could have had a completely different experience to a friend who also attended.

With that in mind, these are my personal Top 10 experiences of the weekend. What were yours?

Ducking Punches closing Thursday’s show with Smoking Spot

Ducking Punches cred Mark Gaertner.jpg

“This is about how punk has taught us all our ethics; this is for all of you,” Dan Allen says between songs, instantly capturing the spirit of the festival. While most of my friends were queueing to get into Random Hand and getting turned away, I opted to catch Ducking Punches at Rebellion on Thursday night and I really don’t regret it.

Earlier in the day, Danny from Fair Do’s had said, “Look around you. This is what a beautiful, intelligent and ethical punk community looks like.” Both are examples of how appreciative the bands are of the event they’re attending. Far from being a big fest where you turn up, play and fuck off, Ducking Punches were around for the whole weekend, partying and enjoying the music like the rest of us. I had a transcendent moment during somewhere between Sobriety and Big Brown Pills from Lynn where I remembered that all my friends in the world are in this city with me, enjoying an incredible time. There is an overwhelming sense of community that I’ve not felt elsewhere – partly from the punk scene and partly from Manchester, a city with a strong sense of identity.

Closing on Smoking Spot was the perfect move from Ducking Punches, who’ve really grown with their new album Alamort. “This is a song about having the best time with your best friends,” Dan says. Perfect.

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Here’s a photo of Random Hand for good measure. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

Watching my friends’ bands playing to sold out rooms

For many bands it’s their first time at the festival (and their first time in Manchester), but every act played to a huge crowd. Through general gigging and through this website I’ve become friends with some of my favourite bands, so I’m absolutely bubbling with pride when I see them getting an enthusiastic reaction from a big audience.

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Darko. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

On Thursday, No Matter opened the festival to an almost full room at Rebellion. Following them were Captain Trips, a skate-punk group from the South Coast that I have a massive soft-spot for. I’ve been trying to get as many people to hear about them as possible, so to see Rebellion full for their set was incredible. Not only was the venue rammed – the crowd were dancing, moshing and generally enthusiastic about seeing them. It made my heart melt a little bit. Continue reading “Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018”