EP Review: The Run Up – Good Friends, Bad Luck

The Run Up’s latest EP is earnest, sincere melodic punk from a band who’ve found their sound. FFO: The Gaslight Anthem, Off With Their Heads, Iron Chic, The Menzingers

Review by Alan Corcoran.

On first listen the new EP Good Friends, Bad Luck washes over you like a sea of whiskey and ginger ale. It is sharp and sweet, it has a kick to it and you have to say it makes you feel good. Sure, you can sense underlying problems lurking and there may be emotional hell to pay later, but for now you’re feeling feelings, and most of them are pretty damn good.

The band are tight. Riffs and drum fills flow out of your speakers with such a natural cohesion that it feels like The Run Up are a five piece hive mind. They seem to anticipate each other’s musical quirks and if you told me these songs were the work of one obsessive genius and not five dudes from Bristol I’d believe you.

There’s a certain confidence in yourself and your bandmates that gets expressed when you have an opening instrumental song on a release. These type of songs come about when a band has found its groove. They have found their sound, they trust each other and they believe in the release enough to present it as a complete piece of art. It’s a subtle but stubborn ‘fuck you’ to the casual, impatient listener and a stimulating appetiser to those who are ready to experience all five courses. Continue reading “EP Review: The Run Up – Good Friends, Bad Luck”

Gig Review: Boomtown Fair 2018 – Part 2

Alan drinks his way through Boomtown 2018 so you don’t have to.

Article by Alan Corcoran. Black and white photography from Hold My Pint.

WARNING: The following account is a true story of a group of late 20s – early 30s adult humans going to a festival. It may contain stories of early nights, tea, and driving to a town mid-festival for creature comforts.

Last time we saw Alan (in Part 1), it was Saturday afternoon in the Boomtown sun. We join him last that evening  as the weather takes a turn…

The rain that cleared up yesterday comes back with a vengeance as we make our way down the steep hill to the Lion’s Den. Imagine a group of tipsy dogs wearing ponchos and sliding on ice and you’re halfway there. We’ve acquired a small traffic cone, rave paint is produced as we listen to Johnny Osbourne and someone has the smart idea to introduce a ‘drink every time someone says “Boomtown”’ rule. I’m not going to lie, this is where things have started to go a little sideways for your intrepid reporter.

5.45 PM

We are front and centre for The Skints and my internal organs are being bounced around my body via the bass setup. The kick drum and bassist are blasting out shockwaves in perfect unison and I feel like I might get shook out of my shoes. Of course, I have implemented a ‘drink on any mention of “London”’ rule for myself, so it might be that. The Skints are Boomtown royalty and it’s easy to see why. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking this as holy shit, there are a lot of people here. Thousands are converging. The beers are catching up on me so I fight the tide to brave the toilets and discover the sound is actually much better halfway up the hill as you can actually hear some treble. I also get complimented on my poncho, which I have failed to mention is polka dot, kids sized and makes me look a bit like a ladybird…

Getting our steps in, we head back on over to Dissorder Alley to see Capdown. I last saw these guys 12 years ago in a local dive bar in Galway and I’m happy to say they still bring a lot of the gusto to their performance that they did back then. I even find myself close up the front and their set passes in a happy blur for me. Possibly cos I get nailed in the head by a stage diver wearing wellies, which of course gets captured by the cameras..

39519399_1088242224634191_3185461597153787904_n.jpg

9 PM (ish)

It’s time for a tactical pizza, and one that I’ve been looking forward to all day. Get the violins out, though, because this is possibly the worst moment of my entire festival. Not to be dramatic or anything. The pizza is downright awful. I try to make the best of it as I am feeling the slightest bit tipsy at this point, when I’m approached by a fellow festival reveller who asks me for a slice because he is, and I quote, homeless. I politely dispute this fact and his girlfriend drags him away.

My notes from this time read as follows:

“Slipknot Minions excuse me mate”

I still have no idea what the Slipknot Minions were, but that note kinda haunts me. Continue reading “Gig Review: Boomtown Fair 2018 – Part 2”

Gig Review: Boomtown Fair 2018 – Part 1

Alan drinks his way through Boomtown 2018 so you don’t have to. Part 1 features Pizzatramp, Dead Kennedeys, Skaciety, Dubioza Kolektiv, 2 Many Zoos and Elvana.

Article by Alan Corcoran. Black and white photography from Hold My Pint.

WARNING: The following account is a true story of a group of late 20s – early 30s adult humans going to a festival. It may contain stories of early nights, tea, and driving to a town mid-festival for creature comforts.

boomtown-1-a.jpgIt’s Friday night at Boomtown 2018 and we are lost. Having agreed not to split up our merry little group we promptly did just that and now three of us are in an unfamiliar camping area.

Actually, looking around, a surprisingly quiet and well kept camping area. And are those FUCKING ACTUAL BATHROOMS WITH CERAMIC TOILETS?!

Yep, we had walked past security into a (presumably) VIP camping area and after trudging past portapottys that were each a claustrophobic, plastic blue warzone, we weren’t about to leave any time soon.

Obviously we go to check out the venue. Obviously it looks like a castle from the outside and a strip club on the inside.

It contains:

  • A stretch limo
  • A DJ
  • Nothing and nobody else

Ladies, gentlemen, non binary folks, I present to you; Boomtown Fair.

39616906_1089707584487655_2930649073042063360_n.jpg

Let’s backtrack to that morning…

Friday

6 AM

Holy hell it’s early. Because we are a group of human adults – as mentioned earlier – we have day jobs to phone in and weddings to attend in the lead up to this festival, so ⅔ of our group are missing the first night of proceedings. We’re also travelling from Ireland and Portugal, so give us a break.

After a whole lot of travel (Car – Bus – Airplane – Shuttle Bus – Rental Car) we pull into the Boomtown Car Park only to be cruelly discriminated against as foreigners, having to fork out and additional £40 for parking, despite already having paid it online.

Shrugging off another injustice handed down by our one time Colonial Oppressors, we park up, resist the urge to pet the fantastic and hard working narcotics dogs and we are in! Continue reading “Gig Review: Boomtown Fair 2018 – Part 1”

Odd Robot: Ready To Be Your New Favourite Pop-Punk Band [Interview]

California’s Odd Robot will charm you with pop-punk that’s more bittersweet than saccharine. FFO: Alkaline Trio, early Green Day, Jawbreaker.

Interview by Alan Corcoran.

If you are looking for pop punk that is more bittersweet than saccharine, then California’s Odd Robot are the guys for you! Their latest album Amnesiatic was released earlier this month and I had a chat with guitarist/vocalist Andy Burris about their progression as a band, the recording process and his own history with pop punk.

Before our deep dive into pop punk nerdery, Andy caught me up on how the band started:

Mike and I played in a band called Longfellow years ago. I quit the band to start a family and left the OC area. I came back to OC with a bunch of songs I’d been working on and asked Mike to give them a listen. He was into it, so we found a drummer and started recording A Late Night Panic straight away. When I write a song, I demo it out fully with guitar, bass, drums—the whole shebang. I think Damian had two or three practices to learn the record before we hit the studio. The band name comes from my pseudonym from another band: Android. I wanted to stick with a robot theme without sounding like a google app. My wife came up with the name. The name gets instant recognition, thanks to the similarity to JJ Abram’s Bad Robot company. We didn’t plan that, but we’re also not mad at it.

38924328_610074312723865_6328349640223621120_n

You’ve recently added a fourth member – adding a second guitarist in a very Bad Religion type move – how is that going for you guys?

It’s super rad. The only thing better than playing music with two of your best friends is doing it with three of them. It sounds bigger, fuller. The first two albums—ALNP and the forthcoming Amnesiatic—were sort of written in a vacuum by yours truly. Going forward, I want to collaborate more with the guys on structuring and embellishing the songs. With more voices that’ll be even better. Continue reading “Odd Robot: Ready To Be Your New Favourite Pop-Punk Band [Interview]”

Album Review: Nerdlinger – Happy Place

Australian melodic skatepunkers Nerdlinger has delivered a smasher. FFO Lagwagon, Frenzal Rhomb and Teenage Bottlerocket.

Article by Alan Corcoran.

It’s summer and most of the world has been burning to a crisp in the past few weeks, so what better time to dust off your skateboard, cruise over to your friend’s BBQ and listen to some punk rock, delivered courtesy of Nerdlinger and their new album Happy Place.

The Australian melodic skate punkers have covered a lot of ground both literally and figuratively since 2013 and it’s therefore no surprise that this album has both an energy and diversity to it that is damn refreshing in a genre that’s been going since the 90s.

A fairly standard 30 second intro song starts things off, followed by guitar playing and melodies in both Contagious and Can Yu Forgive Me? that will have fans of Blink-182 reminiscing on a time when Tom Delonge wasn’t off somewhere chasing space men.

 

The first four songs barrel past in under ten minutes and while there are the spicy riffs and drum fills associated with skate punk, there are also plenty of satisfying melodies that lean towards pop punk. The aforementioned Contagious is a prime example of an intro and verse that sizzle with intensity, before serving up a tasty chorus. Continue reading “Album Review: Nerdlinger – Happy Place”

Symphony of Distraction: Skate-punk, zebra-stripes and dollar-store artwork [Interview]

Bicoastal American skate-punk Symphony Of Distraction shed some light on their new album and their iconically bad artwork.

Article by Alan Corcoran.

Symphony of Distraction are a skate-punk quartet from New York via California, who deal in songs that storm out of your speakers like a sugared-up Tasmanian devil. They’ll leave you dazed with a melody in your head for days.

The band have recently released their second full length album, Horse, on Less Talk, More Records and Interpunk. I talked with guitarist and vocalist Jay Stewart about the writing and recording of the album, that iconic artwork and we may have gotten into jazz piano a bit too…

Congrats on the new album Horse. Are you happy with how it turned out?

Thanks! Yes, we’re happy with how it turned out. We would not have released it until we had it in a place we were happy with. We don’t have any set deadlines or anything like that so we can take our time with it.

How did this one come together by comparison to Call It Off, John?

The biggest difference with how this one came together is that I live 3000 miles away from everyone else in the band now. On the previous albums, we lived relatively close to each other for the majority of the recording process so we could just work on it whenever we wanted. This time we did all of the tracking in Brooklyn over a couple of weeks or so. This mainly changed how Steve’s songs came together because he had to have his songs in a more completed state before we started recording.

What gear did you use this time?

We are not gear heads at all. We use whatever we have around. All of the bass on all 3 records was recorded on a $79 piece of shit bass I bought 10 years ago. We’ve used the same SM58 for the vocals on all 3 records that I’ve probably had for 15 years. It’s fun to try to get good sounds out of shitty equipment.

When mixing, I’ll revisit the SecondShot records I did with Ryan Greene since it gives me a really professional recording reference that I was the singer on.

Symphony of Distraction Live

This album seems to have a little more experimentation in guitar sounds; I’m thinking of Once and Future and United Failure for example… was this a conscious decision or did it just come from messing around with pedals?

We use a lot of computer plugins for that kind of stuff. I’m not a good enough producer to know exactly what I want something to sound like when we’re recording so we do a lot of DI which allows me to mess around with sounds later. It also saves time during the tracking process. Continue reading “Symphony of Distraction: Skate-punk, zebra-stripes and dollar-store artwork [Interview]”

Remembering P-Rock TV: Where Are They Now?

We honour a TV channel that lasted a year but and shaped music tastes for decades to come, featuring King Prawn, [Spunge], Jesse James, Whitmore, Farse and Violent Delight!

Article by Alan Corcoran.

Hi, my name is Alan and I’ve been listening to some variety of punk rock for 20 years. My first punk(ish) song, and the hilarious lengths I had to go to in order to hear it, will have to wait for another day. Today I want to talk about the short lived P-Rock TV.

For some this will be like fondly remembering an old friend that you used to be real close to but now only see when you’re blackout drunk in your local pub back home. For others, this will be like meeting someone in your late 20’s and asking, “Where have YOU been all my life?!”

For me, it is a continuation of my life’s work; to honour a TV channel that lasted a year (2002-2003) and shaped my music taste for decades to come. I didn’t even have access to the channel in my house; my friends lucky enough to have P-Rock would hit record in the evening and the next day I’d have 3 hours of (only slightly repetitive) punk rock goodness. That’s right, I’m talking VHS mixtapes here.

Slight (and only slight) facetiousness aside, P-Rock was a god-send for punk and ska-inclined types across the UK and Ireland. Here was a channel that played non-stop bangers from established bands like NOFX and Bad Religion, bands from slightly smaller labels like Tsunami Bomb and Less Than Jake and, maybe most importantly of all, a whole beer cooler full of tasty local British bands.

Choosing where to start is like trying to pick a beverage from a well stocked fridge on a sunny Friday. I’ll stop with the drinking analogies now. Here’s a load of cool bands from the P-Rock days.

Farse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dare you to listen to this and not have it stuck in your head. I dare you. The lyrics may be unintelligible for the most part, but that’s a melody as pure as a church bell on an Austrian winter morning. Without realising it, you’re dancing around your kitchen with your dog and scrambling for the repeat button as the last chords ring out.

As for those lyrics…

The Hopskotch page on pylircs.com – and it is Hopskotch, not Hopscotch as P-Rock spells it  – features a quote that’s apparently from a long since defunct band website, stating that there aren’t really any lyrics.

I personally prefer the lyrics as documented by some genius on Metro Lyrics:

Screenshot_20180616-105148.png

Where are they now?

Despite initially breaking up in 2004, Farse reunited in 2009 and played two shows, including a set at Slam Dunk Fest, which I am sicker than a dog on a skateboard about missing. Our sources says that while they don’t appear active at the moment, there’s always a chance that could change in the future.

King Prawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of songs to get you dancing, here’s genre-bludgeoning King Prawn! The opening brass section is like a call to arms for those who know it. For the uninitiated, it’s a deceivingly calm intro compared to the face melting vocal gymnastics that follow.

While a lot of the bands on P-Rock seemed relatable on a musical skill level, King Prawn had a whole spice bag full of the X factor. I didn’t know anyone who could rap that fast. None of my friends had cool, colourful beards. And I sure as hell didn’t know any bass-playing little people.

Where are they now?

After a long time away, King Prawn reformed in 2012, releasing new music on their Bandcamp in 2014. Yours truly even saw them at Boomtown 2015 and definitely remembers the whole set and wasn’t in the slightest bit tipsy. They continue to tour and I’m told their set was hotter than a ghost pepper at Slam Dunk this year. Da Prawn, as they may or may not prefer to be called, are finishing a new album and will be touring the UK once it’s released.

Violent Delight

I don’t think any band match the rise and fall of P-Rock quite like Violent Delight. Within three years the group, which consisted of literal teenagers, had signed to a major label, been the darlings of Kerrang! for a while and then dropped off the face of the planet. Best of all, they had two songs including I Wish I Was A Girl produced by the drummer of Ill Nino. A sentence so beautifully 2002 I might actually just die right now.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back, the production values on this video are surprisingly good, even with label backing. The video and song kind of hold up. And as a former artsy, awkward teenager from the middle of nowhere (and current artsy, awkward adult) I could definitely relate to lyrics about people thinking you’re gay when you’re not actually gay.

Was this song a Trans Anthem? Is it problematic? Was it just a dumb joke song written by a group of teenagers from Hertfordshire? The answer could be a mix of all three, but I’ll let you decide on the social context of the content. For now, let’s bask in the glory of that chorus.

Where are they now?

I’m not sure where it went wrong for Violent Delight, but I can and will speculate that their young age, mixed with a fickle music industry that dropped nu metal and punk pretty quickly, meant they weren’t sustainable. They performed a farewell show in 2006 and moved on to other things. Is it time for a reunion show that will never actually come? In this reporters opinion, the answer, sadly, is ‘yes’.

[spunge]

 

 

No P-Rock band seemed like a bunch of mates who decided to make some music the way that [spunge] did. Maybe it’s because they literally had a song about not forgetting your friends, maybe it’s the DIY aesthetic of their garage videos, but you always felt you were one step away from accidentally being in their band. Maybe as additional percussion player or something.

But to simply call them a ‘big bunch of lads’ is doing the big bunch of lads a disservice. [spunge] were as catchy as a fish hook made of velcro and had BANGERS. Plural. They also managed to get the word ‘jump’ into their bouncy chorus while also making it work within the lyrics. A skill that Fred Durst would have given several oversized baggy shorts for.

Where are they now?

Still touring, we are happy to report! Your intrepid reporter will be jumping on demand up the front at Boomtown 2018.

Whitmore

 

The band with three music videos to the same song. The band that provided the literal theme music to P-Rock. The band that supported Avril Lavigne back in the early 2000s. Whitmore took their name from a footballer you’ve never heard of, were not shy about their marijuana use and in many ways seem like unlikely heroes even within a collection of misfits.

For three dudes that seemingly smoked a whole pile of Mary Jane (do I sound like a narc?) Whitmore were known for their 3 minute slabs of pure punk rock goodness. But, if you dig into their albums, there’s plenty of up strum, reggae influenced action.

Did they sing about weed a hell of a lot? Sure. Are their videos bad? Kinda. Do they have some great punk rock songs all the same? Absolutely.

Where are they now?

They seem to have vanished without a trace in 2005. Anyone know? [Ed: They’re still playing sporadic shows!]

Jesse James

That’s right, the band that sang about only being attracted to people who wore a certain type of footwear! And on closer inspection, they seem to say the shoes themselves are a turn on but hey, it takes all sorts.

Jesse James had the added bonus of an actual brass section. If any of you have been in even the most DIY punk outfit you know how hard it can be to wrangle a group of emotional, somewhat musical, adult-sized children into a functioning band. I’m eternally fascinated by ska bands with half a football team on stage.

Being honest, I completely related to this song and kind of still do. At least the judging people by their shoes thing. Jesse James have the distinction of seeming ‘most American’ to me back in the day, which is actually a compliment even though I’m sure they might not see it that way.

Where are they now?

Jesse James seem to have been somewhat active of late, but reports are unclear as to the future of the band. Another one to keep an eye on. If you can find them amongst the dozens of other acts called Jesse James.

 

Did you watch P-Rock? Do you want to yell at me for missing an obvious UK band? Were you in one of those bands and just wish you could do your office job in peace without constantly having dorks on the internet bring up your past? If so, hit me up in the comment section!

If you want to indulge in some nostalgia, or hear more gems from the P-Rock days, one Spotify user named Ross has made what I am going on record as calling the ultimate P-Rock Playlist.

You could also check out the song about P-Rock that my friend and I wrote. It’s basically this article in audio form.

What’s that? Another alcohol reference for the road? Okay, let’s raise a glass and pour one out for P-Rock TV. Gone, but not forgotten.

Article by Alan Corcoran.