Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018

Sarah’s Top 5 picks of this year’s shorter punk rock releases.

Written by Sarah Williams.

There’s a true beauty in a short, snappy EP. Whether is a new band looking for a cost-effective way to showcase their talents and learn how to record, or a more established act wanting to immortalise some of their current material, EPs are often better than full albums.

To me a full album is an experience. The longer playing time allows the music to breathe and have highs and lows. Conversely, the short, sweet EP is typically a relevant blast of the band’s most recent material: a audio snapshot of this moment in their career, with no room for filler, fuss or faff.

Speaking to Lasse from Forever Unclean recently, I asked him whether they were considering doing an album. “We prefer doing EPs,” he said, if I remember correctly (I was drunk, so let’s paraphrase). “That way we can put out music that we currently enjoy playing, without having to wait for a full album’s worth of material.”

The albums released in 2018 were probably written and recorded long before. With that in mind, the shorter, more manageable EPs offer a more current insight into the musical landscape. That’s why, to me, some of this year’s most memorable releases are the short ones.

#5: Layman’s Terms – An Invite To The End

Bristol shredders Layman’s Terms produced an absolutely superb 6-track effort early in 2018.  An Invite To The End opens with some heavy guitar-work that quickly develops into urgent, frantic fast-punk. Like Fair Do’s, they’ve taken a lot of elements of double-time classic skate-punk and blended some of the heavier elements of metal. It works. Really well.

The whole EP keeps you on the edge of your seat with some adrenaline-loaded riffs and momentary heavy breakdowns. It’s unrelenting, ferocious and suggests there will be some great things from the band in future. I cannot wait to shout along to this live.

If you want to hear melodic hardcore done right, listen to Cut The Line and Letters To The Dead. Layman’s Terms have nailed this. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018”

Podcast: Punk Rock Holiday Cocktail Special #2

Listen to Sarah getting drunk with Spoilers, Rebuke and Captain Trips on this second Punk Rock Holiday special.

On today’s podcast, we will be whisking you back in time to the beautiful, sun-drenched beach at Punk Rock Holiday. Sarah grabbed Spoilers, Rebuke and Captain Trips for a chat at Slovenia’s premier punk festival. Grab a drink, put your feet up and listen to us getting progressively drunker as the day goes on.

Ben Davis and Dan Goatham from Kentish punks Spoilers have just released a sterling debut album in the form of Roundabouts. They’re a hilarious bunch so we jumped at the change to discuss the album, their summer holiday plans and

We speak to Petter Mossberg and Phil Nordling from skate-punks Rebuke. We share a pina colada, discuss their 15 years as a band, the current Swedish music scene and some of the bands they currently admire.

Finally, we spoke to Rich Mayor of Portsmouth skate-punks Captain Trips. We were officially 10+ cocktails deep at the time of recording, so it’s nice to have a recorded reminder of a conversation we’d no doubt have forgotten. We cover important topics like showering, cress, sweat, flip-flops, Dean Gaffney and solo projects.

I highly recommend sticking around to the end, as Sarah’s sobriety goes rapidly downhill in quite an amusing way. As Petter quite accurately puts it, “You meet too many cocktails.”

We play the following songs:

  • Spoilers – Roundabouts (from album Roundabouts is out now on Little Rocket Records, SBAM Records and Boss Tunage)
  • Rebuke – Take To The Seas (from their album Wouldworks, out on Disconnect Disconnect Records)
  • Captain Trips – Bottom Of The River (from their EP Stand By now on Umlaut Records)

If you enjoyed this, check out our first PRH Cocktail Special with Ducking Punches, The Murderburgers and Dead Neck.

Track-by-Track: Captain Trips – Stand By

Rich Mayor, frontman of Portsmouth skate-punks Captain Trips, gives a detailed insight into the their EP ‘Stand By’.

Captain Trips released their new EP Stand By via Umlaut Records on October 5 2018. We’re in love with it and we think you will be too, so we asked singer and guitarist Rich Mayor to give us a detailed breakdown of the inspiration for each song.

We started writing some of these songs months and years ago, a process not so unusual in Captain Trips. All of our songs come from jamming together, so it can take a while for us to come up with them sometimes. That’s not supposed to sound like an arduous process; it’s a very enjoyable experience and how we’ve come up with our, ahem, ‘sound’.

I remember our writing process for one of the tracks on the first EP. We decided it needed to go off into a different direction (I think it even went kind of ska at one point), but after about four weeks of adding sections, we chopped it all and kept the song as it was before all those tangents.

Anyway, we gone done a new record, called Stand By. It has songs on it to listen to with your ears. Here’s what they’re about.

Bottom Of The River

Right, Bottom of the River. The Stephen King keenos among you will know that Captain Trips is the name of the man-made virus in his book The Stand, and the Stephen King appreciation club keeps on rolling here. Bottom of the River is about his rite of passage novel/movie Stand By Me. It harks back to simpler times, something we reminisce about often, since we’re all in that weird generation of going from ‘completely f*ck all internet’ to ‘everything the world has ever known in your pocket’. You know, back when you couldn’t scam your way through the pub quiz for that sweet, sweet bottle of blue Aftershock.

The name of the movie is also quite blatantly the title of the new EP, save for a couple of letters. More about that later.

Continue reading “Track-by-Track: Captain Trips – Stand By”

Fair Do’s: No One’s Going To Set Standards For You [Interview]

Manchester’s finest talk working-class roots, quality-control and how hard it is to learn your own songs sometimes!

Interview by Sarah Williams. Live photos by Alia Thomas.

Manchester’s melodic hardcore shredders, Fair Do’s, have just announced that they’ll be releasing their first full album Leopards on July 27th, through Lockjaw Records. I have been begging for this album since 2014 and I can’t believe it’s finally happening.

There are few bands that combine hardcore punk with metal in the way Fair Do’s manage to, and they back it up with a hard-earned technical prowess that makes them stand out from the crowd. They formed in 2009 and released an impressive EP Trying Times in 2014, going on to kill it on stage all over Europe, playing with the likes of A Wilhelm Scream, After The Fall, The Decline and H20, including major festivals like Punk Rock Holiday.

I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Danny Cummings and drummer John Holt over a pint, to learn about the hard work they’ve put into Leopards, their working-class sensibilities and why you might hear hints of Beyonce in Danny’s choruses.

You’re releasing a new album: Leopards! That’s exciting. What took you so long?

  • John Holt: Oh, Jesus.
  • Danny Cummings: It took a while recording it, because we did it over weekends.
  • John: I tracked the drums in September 2016.
  • Danny: It was a different beast to the EP. The EP was thrown together: recording guitar at one studio, drums at another. We made a vocal booth in the corner of Josh’s flat for that. Whereas this we’ve done it properly, tracked everything.

Fair Do's Live cred Alia Thomas.jpg

Quality is clearly a major focus for Fair Do’s – it has to be to produce something so wonderfully technical. How do you keep the bar set so high?

  • John: There’s no one there to set standards for you; you can’t expect anyone to go, “You should be better than that.” It’s your job to do that for yourself. No one’s going to care that you had a bad show apart from you.
  • Danny: And the three people stood next to you.
  • John: When people see Fair Do’s as a band stood next to each other, they think we’re going to kill each other. You have to be able to say things and just move onto the next business. Harsh things need to be said occasionally, so sometimes you have to have a shouty, sweary match.

Do you argue with each other a lot, then?

  • John: One of the pitfalls of Fair Do’s is that we produce tunes before we can play them. The songs are written and composed but we can’t actually play them.
  • Danny: We can play them at that we demo them, or try some midi drums. We make sure we’re writing stuff that we can play.
  • John: Yeah, we’re not faking playing stuff, but we’ll come up with ideas that are not obtainable until after many moons of practice.
  • Danny: Dave’s alright, but for the rest of us it’s the sort of stuff we have to sit down and spend an hour a night working on it for six weeks to be able to nail it.

Continue reading “Fair Do’s: No One’s Going To Set Standards For You [Interview]”

Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]

Umlaut Recond second annual showcase weekedender was a blast, with bands like Counterpunch, The Murderburgers and Crazy Arm.

Review by Sarah Williams.

What better way to while away a long Easter weekend than an indoor music festival with all your mates? The second iteration of Umlaut Records’ Dugstock festival is a diverse three-day line-up hosted at London’s New Cross Inn. Umlaut Records is a rapidly growing independent label that are integral to the London punk scene. They’re only in their second year so, if this is the sort of line-up they can pull off now, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in future.

I’ve been to plenty of gigs at New Cross, but this is the first time I’ve committed to three whole days, staying in the hostel above the venue. As I’m likely to be doing the same for Level Up and Polite Riot festivals later this year, I’m almost as keen to test out this festival-formula as I am to see the bands.

Shout Louder Crew At Dugstock 2 Cocktails
Some braincells were damaged in the making of this review.

Friday

Opening the weekend are Dirty White, a 3-piece that take influence from 90’s stoner grunge bands, although they bring the songs into a cleaner, more modern relief. The singer pulls off a Chris Cornell style that you don’t often hear. They go on to mix in some faster melodic punk songs – a gentle introduction to the weekend’s festivities.

There is already a reasonably good turnout for the Friday night, with a lot of hugs and catch-up chats exchanged. Things properly kick off with Dark Days, who provide vigorous, fun, melodic poppy punk. Guitarist, John Huffman, gets told off by the sound engineer for standing on the drum kit, so he capitulates and pulls out a high stool from the bar to stand on, before flaunting rock-star poses and writhing on the floor. Their sound contains a melee of references to current North American melodic punk bands, with an added dose of Kathleen Hanna inspired harmonies and a fuzzy, experimental guitar mess. They play a full-throttle cover of Nirvana’s Breed – the first of two Breed covers we’ll hear this weekend.

Kiss Me, Killer swagger on stage with a sexy, balls-to-the-wall riot grrl energy. Singer, Holly, steals the show somewhat as she cavorts wildly around the stage, as the band rages. She’s an excellent rock vocalist, which suits the hard-rock element in their sound It’s ferocious noise peppered with short bursts of rock ‘n’ roll guitar solos and enticingly sleazy bass lines. It’s infinitely dance-able from Rat Race to It’s Going Down (which actually sets off an alarm somewhere in the venue). As my friend eloquently shouts at me during the set, it’s also a pleasure to see, “Plentiful vaginas on stage.” Continue reading “Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]”

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.

Random Hand cred Jimbob Taylor.jpg
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.

Darko cred Jimbob Taylor.JPG
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”

Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special

Mark and Sarah discuss all things MPF 2018 including insider tips and line-up clashes, plus we announce the Wotsit Called Fest headliner!

We are so excited to share Podcast #4 with you! This is our favourite one so far; we just hope you love it as much as we do. You can listen on iTunes, Soundcloud and many other podcatchers, or on the link below.

Recorded in the extremely silly, hungover aftermath of Dugstock Festival Mark and Sarah discuss all things Manchester Punk Festival in detail. We pick through the whole line-up, talk about the festival’s history and give you insider tips on surviving the weekend. Even if you’re not attending the festival, it’s worth a listen to hear some fantastic punk tunes and to laugh at how tired we are.

Stay tuned till the end as we will also be proudly announcing the Friday night headliner of Wotsit Called Festival. Wotsit Called was one of our top festivals of 2017 and it’s growing even bigger this year. It takes place on the last weekend of September at The Palace in Hastings – you can book tickets here. We can’t wait to tell you who they’ve booked!

The podcast is available on iTunes (here) and all other good podcatchers, or you can listen to it right now:

These are the songs we play:

Continue reading “Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special”