Press Club: The Transformative Power of an Album

Sarah discusses the joy of falling in love with ‘Wasted Energy’, the new album from frenetic Melbourne indie-punks Press Club.

Article by Sarah Williams.

It’s a rare and unique pleasure to discover an album that soundtracks a passage of your life. 

We’re swimming in music videos, live streams and status updates; bombarded with new music every day; our tastes made by algorithms and cookie-crumbs of personalised advertising. Where technology has opened the gates of production to any guitarist with a half-decent laptop, for listeners it’s created an overwhelming and (as much as we’d hate to admit it) often disposable deluge of singles and playlists.

Previously a big collector, even I have eschewed buying CDs and vinyl since I’ve had Spotify readily available on my phone. The majority of my listening takes places via playlists, either ones I’ve made myself or those curated by people I respect. Playlists are an exciting voyage of musical discovery and appeal to the romantic tradition of making mix tapes, but it’s a fast-paced and high-volume form of listening.

My life reflects my listening. I’m constantly on the verge of burn-out: trying to squeeze too many things into my waking hours. I listen to a vast amount of new music in the search for something genuinely interesting, but rarely do I take the time to fully absorb a new release. 

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Press Club have infiltrated my life in secret, and become the key to pressing the pause button when I need it. I saw them a couple of times earlier in the year, at Manchester Punk Festival and Groezrock. There’s no denying that they’re an exceptional band: everyone’s saying it and the jam-packed rooms of fans prove it. 

When Wasted Energy was released on 16 August 2019, I was excited. Moreover, my social timelines exploded with ‘album of the year’ accolades from peers I respect.  

I listened and I thought, “This is great, but I’m not sure it deserves the hype.”

Forever plagued by a snobbish and insecure habit of falling out-of-love with a band whenever they become successful (I’m talking about The Offspring, Green Day and Frank Turner here, not your local DIY heroes), I worried this old malady has come back to haunt me.

Despite my initial lack of excitement, I’ve found myself listening to Wasted Energy a lot. When someone pops round for tea, I stick it on in the background, as it’s easy to listen to. At work, I’ve put it on for the same reason – it’s good and inoffensive. In the car, it’s a great soundtrack to a long drive with a picky passenger.

Slowly, but surely, Wasted Energy crept into my life, gaining a slow-burn of repeat listens and charring an imprint on my daily consciousness.  Until, on my way to work, I realised it’s my instant first choice when I open my library of music. I’m mouthing the words on public transport in that mildly embarrassing but fuck-it-I’m-hardly-the-maddest-person-on-the-bus way.

The album had become background listening for me but, one day suddenly Behave with its impassioned refrain, “Behave, just like a woman,” stood out to me. On the first few listens to Wasted Energy, Behave hadn’t shone particularly brightly, but once I was deeply wrapped in Press Club’s sound it suddenly exploded when I finally took the time to listen.

Now I’m picking up Wasted Energy multiple times as a day, feeling its embrace like a warm blanket, synesthesia sparking muted autumnal auburns and forest greens in my head when I listen. At a time when my life is changing, Wasted Energy is holding my hand, helping me with the transition. When I listen to it, I feel renewed. 

The future is that I’ll play it to death, bordering on the point of private obsession. Like Fair Do’sLeopards and Darko’s Bonsai Mammoth in 2018 and 2017 respectively, I’ll repeat Wasted Energy until I know every intimate minutiae. Then I’ll drop it and it’ll become a warm shadow of that period of my life, intertwined with memories, smells and feelings of the autumn.

Self-described as, “The musical embodiment of the attitude of a generation experiencing impermanence in every way,” Press Club understand my passing obsession with their sound. It’s a theme on the album, through Obsession and Thinking About You.

All their recordings are put to tape live, using a console from the 70’s, rooting their recordings in a familiar, rich warmth, like a favourite jumper, whilst also capturing a transient sense of urgency. It’s the vintage sound that allows Press Club to stand out in a flood of new music. While fresh, frenetic and full of power, the guitars hark back to 90’s grunge, the rhythm conjures flashbacks of blurry basement shows, and the vocals call out glimpses of soul and timeless icons. Natalie Foster’s voice is a love affair in vocal form. 

Now, three months after its release, I can’t even begin to fathom how an album could top Wasted Energy in 2019. It’s a time stamp on this passage of my life, and a repeat listen in ten years will instantly bring back these autumn memories.

Here’s the self-care I’d recommend for you today: find yourself an album and fall in love with it.

To experience the joy for yourself, you can pick up Wasted Energy on one of the most attractive vinyl pressings I’ve ever seen from a range of outlets. It’s out on Hassle Records now. 

EP Review: PI$$ER – Wretched Life

Punk session super-group Pi$$er have released a rare 7” that brings a fresh perspective to old school hardcore. FFO: Doom, Discharge, The Domestics, Beat The Red Light

Written by Ollie Stygall.

Can such a thing as a super-group exist in punk rock? Probably not, but when you have a band consisting of past and present members of The Domestics, Doom, Anti-Cimex, Sore Throat, The Shitty Limits, Revenge Of the Psychotronic Man, Wolfhour, Bring The Drones, Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral, Lazarus Blackstar, Dissidents, Bugeyed, Dis-tank and The Filaments it’s hard to call it anything else. The difference is that most super-groups are a cynical cash-in on the members’ previous careers: in punk rock the super-groups exist to make more noise… and PI$$ER make an awesome noise. Continue reading “EP Review: PI$$ER – Wretched Life”

Album Review: Gunka – Nothing Left To Say

Old-school hardcore punk from an unlikely Devon village. FFO: Fugazi and Dag Nasty.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

I live in a small, unremarkable Devon town called Chudleigh. It’s relatively quaint, relatively quiet and relatively pleasant.

The most remarkable moment in Chudleigh’s very long history was in 1807 when two thirds of the town burned down in a fire. The only casualty was a pig. Nowadays the residents take to Facebook in righteous indignation over bad parking, minor vandalism and sometimes, on a lighter note, to find a decent plumber!

Chudeligh is not, however, a punk rock haven. I have long suspected that I am the only lover of our beloved form of musical anarchy in our sleepy town. That is until a couple of weeks ago when I got a message from the husband of a friend of my wife to tell me about his band. I was intrigued but, I have to admit, not entirely hopeful. This is Chudleigh after all. I did not expect much. I certainly didn’t expect to be blown away. Continue reading “Album Review: Gunka – Nothing Left To Say”

Album Review: Casual Nausea – Demons

Casual Nausea show that punk is far from dead on their album ‘Demons’, out now TNSrecords. FFO: Crass, Subhumans, The Casualties, The Distillers.

Written by Ollie Stygall.

When I was at university many years ago, at the end of each academic year we had a Summer Ball. This involved us all dressing up smart and having a massive party. Beforehand we would pretend to be civilised and all go for a nice meal together… the calm before the storm, as it were.

One time, whilst walking back to college from the meal, my mate strolled away from the group towards the edge of the pavement. He then proceeded, without missing a step, to vomit into the gutter. He then, still without missing a step, and without getting any on himself, pulled a hanky from his pocket, dabbed his mouth and re-joined the group to continue the conversation where he had left off moments before. This is, and will always remain, the finest example of casual nausea I have ever witnessed.

Ipswich’s Casual Nausea, allegedly named after co-vocalist Zoe Barrow’s pre-gig nerves, are certainly now up there with the above story in my top 10 list of casual nauseae… and I never realised I had such a top 10 list!

This Casual Nausea play punk rock and keep it old school, which is exactly how I like it.

Apart from the updated production values, Casual Nausea wouldn’t have been entirely out of place on the Crass Records roster 35 years ago, as they blast out fast, edgy, politicised punk rock complete with male and female lead vocals and a shit ton of snotty melody. It brings to mind Crass, The Subhumans, The Casualties, Minor Threat, The Distillers, etc. Pop punk this ain’t! Continue reading “Album Review: Casual Nausea – Demons”

Album Review: Pizzatramp – Grand Relapse

Finally, there is something exiting to come out of Wales, other than the M4. Pizzatramp’s 12” picture disc on TNSrecords is a win. FFO: 80’s hardcore thrash crossover and swearing.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Pizzatramp are from Wales so let’s start with some facts about Wales.

Wales is the largest county in England. It is only accessible by a bridge and they make you pay to enter Wales, presumably to discourage you from bothering. Wales is owned by Prince Charles, but he doesn’t live there. The Welsh have their own language but you need an overactive saliva gland to speak it, but that’s OK because 99% of Welsh people don’t understand it.

Wales is full of castles because they’re extremely unpopular and got attacked a lot… they even attacked themselves, because they don’t like each other either! Wales is full of mountains, because even the landscape dislikes the Welsh and has tried to make itself as uninhabitable as possible. Wales has a seaside resort called Barry, like the boring Brummie character from Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Wales has nothing at all to do with the mighty and majestic sea creatures that its name sounds like. Catherine Zeta Jones is Welsh – and hot – but she’d rather shag an American pensioner than Welsh blokes.

However, there is now something exiting to come out of Wales, other than the M4. A musical behemoth that does go some way towards righting the wrongs done by The Manic Street Preachers: and that is Pizzatramp.

Pizzatramp make out that they’re a shambolic, pissed up mess. They’re not. Well, they may well be to be honest, but that doesn’t stop them being a fucking incredible band. Continue reading “Album Review: Pizzatramp – Grand Relapse”

Tasting Notes: Pkew Pkew Pkew Drink Their Way Through ‘Optimal Lifestyles’

Canadian melodic punks Pkewx3 give us a unique track-by-track breakdown of their new album… by picking which beer pairs best with each song.

Canadian melodic punks Pkew Pkew Pkew have created one of the most fun records of the year with Optimal Lifestyles. Rather than the traditional track-by-track breakdown of the album, but asked them to give us a unique insight into the record: by telling us which beer they’d pair each track with.

Want to drink along? Load up the album on Spotify – it’s was released on March 1st via Big Scary Monsters an Dine Alone Records. Enjoy this choice shopping list of Canadian ales to pair with the record!

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1. Still Hangin’ Out After All These Years

This best pairs with any of the ones listed at the end of the track—take your pick!

2. I Don’t Matter At All

This is a pretty tasty track if you ask us. It’s kind of reminiscent of The Strokes so we’ll go with Brooklyn Lager for this one. Brooklyn Brewery is one of the only NYC breweries that we get up in Canada.

Continue reading “Tasting Notes: Pkew Pkew Pkew Drink Their Way Through ‘Optimal Lifestyles’”

Album Review: Hardkore Dokument UK #1 7”

This split from Pizzatramp, Grand Collapse, The Domestics, Guilt Police, Wolfbeast Destroyer and Rash Decisions proves that the UK hardcore scene is still very much alive, well and kicking the shit out of music with its size 12 boots.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Growing up as a kid in the ’80s was a great thing. It was very much the golden era of hardcore and saw the D.I.Y. ethic, that had grown up around punk in the late ’70s, expand into interesting areas, particularly the rise of the split release.

Split releases allowed bands and labels to co-operate on co-releases that spread costs while also introducing bands to each other’s fan bases. Some of these split releases have become legendary artefacts of the scene at the time: the Chaos UK/Extreme Noise Terror Earslaughter release still remains, for many, the best document for each band. Split releases, such as the Heresy/Concrete Sox release, paved the way for Earache Records and, perhaps a harder to find and more esoteric release was the 4-way Japanese hardcore beast that combined Outo, Gauze, Lipcream and Systematic Death.

Continue reading “Album Review: Hardkore Dokument UK #1 7””