Review: Crooked Little Sons – Snake

“Crooked Little Sons are the righteous distillation of 60 years of rock and roll in 45 terrifying, beautiful and electrifying minutes.” FFO: The Hives, The Bronx, Motorhead, MC5, Nosebleed.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

When was the last time you stood in a small venue and watched a band that you truly thought were something special? A band that had something else about them – dare I say it – star quality?

Yes, there are an awful lot of incredible bands around that deserve more attention and exposure than they maybe get, but occasionally a band comes along that transcends that and lifts them to a higher level. One night in the crappy coastal town of Torquay, in a small venue, playing at gone midnight after a televised boxing match, this happened to me. The band? Crooked Little Sons. Continue reading “Review: Crooked Little Sons – Snake”

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”

Review: Haest – EP #2

“Haest sound like they’ll drink all your cider and shit in your bathtub.” FFO: Amebix, Axegrinder, Discharge

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Let me ask you a question. What is punk rock?

Is it the aggressive take on hard rock first put forward by bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Damned? Is it the metallic rush of bands such as Discharge and The Exploited? Is it the hyperspeed grind of hardcore bands such as Ripcord or Heresy? Is it the melodic, pop-tinged sounds of The Offspring? Is it the off-kilter, angular, dub-infused sounds of Fugazi? The answer is, it’s all of this… and more.

Haest from Hastings (see what they did there?) is punk but don’t easily fit into a convenient punk-rock pigeon hole. To my grizzled, ancient ears they sound like the modern day bedfellows of 80’s crust bands such as Amebix and Axegrinder as they throw a touch of sludge into their grimy grind. Continue reading “Review: Haest – EP #2”

Album Review: Mean Caesar – Self Titled

Mean Caesar’s 6 track, self-titled EP is a sharp collection of brash yet melodic punk rock, FFO: Hot Water Music, Leatherface and Samiam.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

The Caesars, the emperors of Rome, were by and large a pretty horrible lot. Venerated as gods they frequently abused their power to indulge their sexual and sadistic whims. So it begs a question, if a Caesar is mean, how much of an utter bastard must he really be?

Fortunately South London’s Mean Caesar are not a scary proposition. Fearsome, yes, but certainly something to be embraced in the punk scene. Mean Caesar have been an active gigging band since early 2018 but prior to that they spent two years holed up in the rehearsal space, honing their song writing and sound before hitting the ground running as a fully formed and functional outfit. This time spent and attention to their craft and presentation has clearly paid off in the first recorded fruits of their labours.

This 6 track, self-titled EP is a sharp collection of brash yet melodic punk rock that draws influence from Hot Water Music and the much beloved Leatherface. Each track is packed with more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box and more drive than an episode of Top Gear, all capped off by vocalist Danny Lester’s impassioned, gruff bark. Vocally Lester will definitely draw comparisons to Chuck Ragan and Frankie Stubbs as he combines a rough gargle with a keen sense of melody. Continue reading “Album Review: Mean Caesar – Self Titled”

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”

EP Review: Triple Sundae – Peace of Mind

London’s Triple Sundae have release a heartwarming gem of a melodic punk EP. FFO: The Menzingers, The Flatliners, Jeff Rosenstock.

Review by Sarah Williams.

I’m lucky enough to have had Triple Sundae‘s new EP for a couple of months now, and it has grown on me with every single listen. The first time I heard Peace of Mind I fell in love with two of the three tracks on it, but a few weeks in I’m completely enamoured with the whole record. Like a relationship that you fall into by accident that turns our just perfect – I’m about ready to marry this EP and grow old together, doing crosswords on a porch with it.

Before you get ready for a big tirade about how much I adore these lovely London lads, I feel I ought to mention that I never used to like their band. I saw them at The Underworld and at (I think) The Unicorn before that and had a distinctly ‘meh’ response. They’ve clearly spent time polishing their songwriting, properly honing their recording at The Ranch and pouring their hearts and souls into this record. Now, I’m begging them to record a full length and dancing about like a lunatic at their live shows (evidence here).

I was thoroughly impressed by every aspect of this recording. The songwriting, the production quality, the delightful melodies and the lyrical themes of anxiety and self-doubt. Indecisive sums up all of this perfectly. The vocals drifts appealingly from warm singing to rougher emotive sections, clearly conveying the lyrics and giving you time to absorb the meanings. Underlining this are some gorgeous cascading guitar tones and enough speed and variety to keep you interested.

There are a great deal of similarities with The Menzingers, partly in the catchy indie-punk style of composition, but mainly (and unusually) in the vocal. Greg Barnett has such an unusual tone that it’s odd to hear it repeated, but there are definitely similarities here, particularly on the ‘so I can’t help you’ lyric at the end of Soul Control. It’s also reminiscent of some of my favourite smaller bands like Forever Unclean, Hard Girls and Shit Present.

Fabricated’s opening riff is by far the most attractive thing to invade my ears in months; it’s a sweet little treat that’s instantly appealing. Saved until the end of this small-but-perfectly-formed EP, Triple Sundae have definitely saved the best till last. The introductory riff will stop you in your tracks. It hooks onto your soul before giving Hassan’s voice room to shine. The slower song pace give the tune room to breathe, giving the listener time to absorb the introspective, self-effacing lyrics. This song is an understated masterpiece, a tune that grips you from first listen, that you know you’ll have the same reaction to in a decade’s time.

This EP also demonstrates an impressive growth from the band. These three tracks have been produced as a beautiful, polished piece that that emulates mainstream quality. Off the back of this beautiful 3-track I honestly think Triple Sundae are ready to explode into something gigantic.

You can buy Peace of Mind from Umlaut Records or from Triple Sundae’s Bandcamp.

Review by Sarah Williams.

EP Review: Traits – Illuminate

The new ballsy, melodic punk rock EP from Leeds’ Traits will gnaw its way into your subconscious. FFO: No Use For A Name, Lagwagon, The Human Project.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

The Traits were a garage rock band formed in 1967 who had a hit with Nobody Loves The Hulk in 1969…this isn’t them! It’s amazing the blind alleys Google can lead you down when you’re researching a band for a review. Traits, minus the ‘the’ are a new four piece band from Leeds featuring members of Random Hand and The Human Project, and a guy called Jon who is apparently lovely, according to one of the write ups my Google search threw up. I’m sure they’re all splendid chaps equally. [Ed: Sarah W personally vouches for this!]

Traits (don’t go putting “the” in front of it!) are a straight ahead, melodic punk rock band. By that description alone you can probably start to build a mental image of how these guys sound and you’d probably fall pretty close to the mark. Now, being honest, there are a million bands doing this kind of stuff right now so the question is, how well do Traits fare against their peers? Fortunately they fare extremely well. For such a new band, albeit with plenty of individual experience, they have a fully-fledged and powerful sound with a keen grasp on song writing and an ear for a naggingly catchy melody. Each song here has at least one hook that will gnaw its way into your subconscious, whether it’s the insistent chorus of I’ve Made My Bed or the quirky riff that rears its head during Drop The Status Quo. If the band had a mission to grab your memory and hold on tight then they’ve ticked that box!

Traits Illuminate EP Cover.jpg

As you might expect, the energy remains high throughout, rarely dipping below an ADHD endorsed 100mph but, on the odd moments when the Ritalin kicks in and they slow it down, it provides a welcome breathing space and shows a strong grasp of song dynamics. The guitars of Jon Simmons are tight and edgy and stand front and centre in the mix whilst the rhythm section of Joe Tilston on bass and Dan Powell on drums lock together tighter than a pair of shagging dogs! Johnny Smith’s voice is an interesting one, and may be an acquired taste for some, although it’ll be a favourite for fans of The Human Project. He operates in the higher registers but still maintains some grit in his throat. In fact, and this may make him cringe, he would also make a pretty good metal singer, as evidenced on I’ve Made My Bed which flirts tantalisingly with thrash metal in places… fortunately staying just on the right side of the line though. He has a credible power and delivery to his singing though that should bring round anyone who might, at first, find his voice a little irritating. Continue reading “EP Review: Traits – Illuminate”