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

Wonkfest.jpg

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

Gnarwolves Outsiders.jpg

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”

An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 2 of 2]

Aerial Salad’s frontman tells how the band started and how they got banned from Fest, in the second half of a two-part special feature.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint.

Check out Part One here.

Aerial Salad have been playing together since high school, although they’ve only really been a proper band for two years. They’ve done a lot in that time: releasing their first album, getting added to the Plasterer Records roster and playing increasingly large shows, including Florida’s infamous annual punk rock event: Fest.

Roach, released last week, is a raw, angsty record, that takes cues from bands like Jawbreaker, Greenday and Gnarwolves. Misery, mundanity and self-loathing are the most prescient themes on the album, although musically it’s very upbeat. Chatting to singer/guitarist, Jamie Munro, it’s clear that his life if underlined by a negative outlook that many of us can relate to, with his passion for music driving him forward through is shitty day job and crippling self-doubt.

Jamie and I covered a lot of ground in Part One, but early in the conversation he told me a story that deserved an article in its own right.  We got chatting about the perils of drinking wine that you’ve found open in a roadside in London. We determined pretty quickly that although Jamie’s got some punk sensibilities, he draws the line at street wine (quite rightly so).

I asked him what the most punk thing he’s ever done is, and he suddenly comes out with this corker:

“The most punk thing we’ve ever done was to play Fest, and then get banned from ever playing again.”

It turns out that this unexpected gem is also the origin story of Aerial Salad.

Aerial Salad Hold My Pint 7.jpg

You got banned from Fest? Tell me about that!

Fest is the main reason Aerial Salad all happened. This was only two years ago; but I was a miserable piece of shit, I was well depressed.

When you’re properly depressed it makes you into a cunt: once you have no regard for your own well-being, it makes it really difficult to have regard for other people’s well-being. If your own emotions are so bleak, you don’t care about upsetting other people, so you can become a narcissistic arsehole. Not everyone does! Positive people who deal with depression are incredible, because it’s a very selfish illness, and it can turn you into a piece of shit. It took me a really long time to realise that’s what I was doing. Continue reading “An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 2 of 2]”

An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 1 of 2]

Aerial Salad’s frontman talks to us about self-hatred, songwriting and touring successes and setbacks, in the first half of a two-part special feature.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint.

I manage to catch up with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro on a wet Tuesday evening in October, on the eve of the release of their first album, Roach. Jamie has spent the last hour or so stuck on one of Manchester’s buses, and curses the heavens for deciding to open just as he’s lit a cigarette. I wouldn’t call Jamie a tortured genius, but he’s got an uncanny knack for channelling life’s little day-to-day tragedies into something creative.

He has plenty to be excited about, though; 2017 has been a big year for Aerial Salad. The young trio from Manchester have been playing increasingly bigger shows with the likes of The Bouncing Souls and PEARS, plus big festivals like Rebellion. Roach has just been launched on Alex Brindle-Johnson’s label Plasterer Records, and they’re embarking on a full-on three week tour with Wonk Unit this week. Jamie sings and plays guitar, with Mike Wimbleton on bass and Jack Appleby on drums completing the trio.

I could chat to Jamie for hours; he’s funny, self-deprecating and bubbling with youthful exuberance. Mid-interview, he asks me, “Can you say I was ‘the voice of a generation yet to be heard’? Because then it can say that on my gravestone. It’s very arrogant.” We had so much to discuss that I’ve split this interview into two shorter parts.

Read on to learn about Aerial Salad’s touring successes and failures, plus Jamie’s take on songwriting and musical influences. In tomorrow’s instalment, we find out the origin story of Aerial Salad, how they got banned from playing Fest and why Jamie hates himself with a burning passion.

For a fairly new band, you’ve managed to get onto some big gigs like Fest and Rebellion. How have you managed that?

This band is based on two things: naiveté and luck. That’s what’s beautiful about the DIY scene: you’re only ever four gigs away from playing with one of your favourite bands. The only difference with us is that we’ve had loads of time to gig, because we allowed ourselves to get shit jobs so we can afford to play in a band all the time.

Aerial Salad Hold My Pint 2.jpgWhat are the biggest gigs you’ve played recently?

The biggest one we’ve done was Rebellion, but I think Wonk Fest was the best show we’ve played. The first gig we did with Beach Slang at Brudenell Social Club was fucking ridiculous. That was the first good set we ever played. That was just after Alex [Brindle Johnson, of Wonk Unit] had started managing us. He had seen how shit we were, and he told us we needed to be better. He taught us how to be good.

Didn’t you have a support slot with The Bouncing Souls that went a bit awry?

Yeah, there was a miscommunication between the promoter and the tour manager. We turned up after a five and a half hour drive to Norwich all excited for our first proper tour, ready to get stuck in and play with The Bouncing Souls. Their tour manager was like, “Who are you? There’s only three bands playing tonight and you’re not one of them.”

God bless him, Dan, who was putting on the gig, was like, “Please can you just let these children play this show?” We went on 10 minutes before doors opened and played a 20 minute set. Our friend walked in halfway through Dunhills and just thought we were sound-checking. Before you knew it, Great Cynics were on.

So, we did play with The Bouncing Souls and no one can take that away from us, even though we did play before doors opened and no one saw us. It’s alright. Continue reading “An Interview with Aerial Salad’s Jamie Munro [Part 1 of 2]”

Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad’s debut is refreshingly raw, angsty punk. FFO: Greenday, Jawbreaker and Wonk Unit.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

As 2017 draws to its conclusion, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this is a banner year for underground UK punk. Trends in music are cyclical. I personally feel the current hordes of identikit easy-core bands are about to succumb to a new wave of diverse, substantial and purposeful punk rock bands, much like how the hair metal and gimmicky glam of the late ‘80’s was melted away by Sub-Pop, Epitaph, Reprise and Fat Wreck Chords. We’re lucky to be in a musical climate where you can see an amazing home-grown punk band every week without fail (and without spending a lot of money either!).

Manchester 3-piece Aerial Salad’s debut album Roach has (in my estimation at least) leaped right to the top of the pile in a year choc-full of quality releases across every sub-genre in the UK punk spectrum.

It’s a perfect storm of everything I look for in a first release; it’s focussed, confident and passionate. It boasts muscular production that stands toe-to-toe with major studio albums, and it’s filled to the brim with total belters. Everything here sounds large, from the stadium-sized drums to the rich crunch of the guitar work on offer, as well as throaty, full vocals that sit perfectly within the mix. Overall it all sounds pretty immaculate.

Aerial Salad Roach Cover

Before this review reads like it’s entirely gushing praise, it’s important to address the few flaws that steer Roach away from perfection. Aerial Salad are shooting for a sound that marries huge, early Green Day hooks to the raw grit of Jawbreaker, and they succeed, but as consequence Aerial Salad aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. We’re in the strict territory of 3-chord punk rock and the quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamics of Nirvana. It’s derivative. I could also argue that the song-writing here is somewhat formulaic, with classic pop-punk chord patterns that we’ve all heard many times over.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Aerial Salad, despite binding themselves to a strict sonic template, are utterly convincing and assured at every point on Roach. Vocalist/guitarist Jamie Munro has a really strong understanding of how to reel in the listener. His voice has a raspy drawl that emulates both Billie Joe Armstrong’s snotty enthusiasm and Kurt Cobain’s angsty inflections. Continue reading “Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In November

The nights are longer, but the music’s louder. Here are the best ways to support your local scene this month.

This is my favourite time of year. I could wax lyrical about the beauty of the leaves descending from the trees, but really it’s all about getting wasted on Halloween and pretending the next day’s eye-bags are part of your zombie costume. It’s the best time of year to waste money on minor-explosives to decorate the night sky, rarely pausing to wonder whether we’d have been better off had Guy Fawkes have successfully made a firework of the Houses of Parliament. Hopefully we’ll see some effigies of Donald Trump popping up.

Another reason I love November is that it’s just before all the commercial bullshit fully kicks off in the advent of Christmas. This may be the last time you can leave the house without fear of tinsel and cheesy musak for the forseeable future! Make the most of it with these awesome shows.

Gig Of The Month: Pie Race Festival

  • When: November 10th-12th
  • Where: Wharf Chambers, Leeds
  • Who: Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ducking Punches, Queen Zee & The Sasstones and heaps more
  • Tickets HERE, Facebook event HERE

I have shamefully never made it to Pie Race in the past, despite being desperate to go. I’m excited to be heading to Leeds for the whole weekend this year, and you ought to be too. Wharf Chambers is the ideal venue for a DIY show – small and full of character. There’s a wealth of great bands spread across three days, with plenty of spare time to catch-up with mates old and new.

The festival is curated by Ben Hannah of Nosebleed / Acid Drop fame (check out our interview here), and it’s basically a well-organised excuse to throw a party with all of his pals. Friday is a little treat for the early-birds, which sees Norwich’s best folk-punks Ducking Punches headlining, with a smaller evening line-up of Hollywoodfun Downstairs, The Zipheads and Pat Butcher.

It all kicks off properly on Saturday, with a mix of genres to keep you on your toes. Without mentioning everyone, I’m most excited to see The Fuckin’ Glorious, The Burnt Tapes, Almeida, Traits and, of course, Nosebleed and Matilda’s Scoundrels. It’s not dissimilar to the line-up we saw for Wotist Called Fest earlier in the year, and if it’s anything remotely like that it’s going to be incredibly fun.

Sunday’s another full day of punk, with a slightly more relaxed line-up and a few less bands (presumably to give us all some recovery time). I’m looking forward to catching some acts I’ve not heard of, as well as finally getting to see Incisions, who released a banger of an EP earlier this year. We’re also guaranteed the good times of Pizzatramp and The Crash Mats. Liverpool’s Queen Zee & The Sasstones will be headlining, bound to close the weekend with aplomb.

Makky’s written a brilliant preview of the festival so that I don’t have to. Check it out at Broken Arrow Magazine.

The JB Conspiracy – 10 Years of ‘This Machine’ Anniversary Tour

  • When: November 1st – 17th
  • Where: Across the UK
  • Who: Support from Tree House Fire

This Machine is one of my favourite albums of all time, and I can’t believe it’s been out for 10 years. The JB Conspiracy are celebrating this milestone with a UK tour, taking in London, Manchester, Leeds, Southampton, Norwich, Brighton, Plymouth and Bristol, plus three dates on the mainland. They’re also releasing This Machine on vinyl for the first time, in a lovely shiny blue.

I’m reluctant to describe The JB Conspiracy as a ska-punk band because they are so much more than that. Sure, they write tunes that are loaded with brass and upbeat, bouncy upstrokes, but their compositions are so complex they’re almost orchestral. There is layer upon layer of intricate horn-parts, piano and full-band crescendos. It’s marvellous. Even if you’ve never heard of This Machine before it’s definitely worth checking The JB – they’ll have you dancing and singing in no time. Tree House Fire are supporting, and are equally guaranteed to leave you in a sweaty, satisfied mess.  Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In November”

Gig Review: Vanilla Pod @ The Smokehouse (24/06/2017)

Vanilla Pod keep it fast and fresh with support from The Kirkz and Aerial Salad.

Another Saturday, another trip down The Smokehouse. It’s starting to feel like a second home.

vanilla pod kirks aeriel salad-1

Aerial Salad have so much potential it hurts. The three-piece from Manchester are four days into their first proper tour. Before the set, frontman Jamie Munro tumbles out of the venue, bubbling with anecdotes of tour debauchery and 8am facedrugs. [EDIT: Jamie would like to point out that he was not a fan of the guy snorting pills for breakfast. Poor life choices right there.]. He’s concerned that he’s not going to last until Wonkfest next weekend. They’re a young bunch but they’re growing into the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle damn quickly.

Growing is something they’re doing a lot of: I’ve seen them a few times in the last year and every single time they get better. They’ve been playing together since they were 14, and when their set kicks off you can immediately feel their untainted youthful energy and passion. Recently, they’ve been playing increasingly bigger line-ups, including a show with Bouncing Souls and a slot at The Fest in Florida. This tour celebrates the release of their first album, Roach, which is now out on Alex Wonk’s label, Plasterer Records.

They perform an entertaining set of stomping pop punk, of the Teenage Bottlerocket / early-Alkaline Trio variety. They sound a hell of a lot like Greenday, but in a good way rather than an overly-derivative-3-chord way, or an American-Idiot-eyeliner-overload way. They give me a massive urge to get high, play Tony Hawks and eat too much pizza.

Continue reading “Gig Review: Vanilla Pod @ The Smokehouse (24/06/2017)”