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”

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.

Matilda's Scoundrels As The Tide Turns.jpg

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”