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”

EP Review: Kiss Me, Killer – Beware!

Ferocious metal-tinged riot grrl garage-punk from Bristol! Noisy! Angry! Catchy!

Review by Ollie Stygall.

There is so much more to Bristol than funny accents, Massive Attack, Skins, Banksy, Portishead, Tricky, Concord, a dubious history of slave trading and disgraced TV personality Justin Lee Collins. Bristol has a long relationship with punk rock going back nearly 40 years. In the early 80’s the Riot City label launched the careers of local bands Vice Squad and Chaos UK, who are both still going strong alongside other local outcasts Disorder. Later in the 80’s labels such as C.O.R and Manic Ears and fanzines such as Skate Muties From The Fifth Dimension and Bugs And Drugs kept the city at the forefront of the burgeoning hardcore scene. It’s good to see that bands such as Kiss Me, Killer are keeping the flag flying in the city.

Kiss Me Killer EP Review.jpg

Kiss Me, Killer are a five piece self-styled ‘ferocious, hooky, riot grrrl garage punk’ band and, I have to say, their description pretty much makes my review unnecessary as it does sum them up to a tee. Boasting influences from psychedelic originators The 13th Floor Elevators, to garage pioneers MC5 and The Stooges, to punk stalwarts such as The Mob and The Ruts, to old school metal and riot grrrls Bikini Kill, Kiss Me, Killer are very much a product of their diverse influences. On this EP they offer up four tracks of hard hitting, snarling yet melodic punk rock. Continue reading “EP Review: Kiss Me, Killer – Beware!”

EP Review: Alright – EP 3

Fresh, rough punk from Bolton, featuring 3/5ths of AVAS. FFO: The Steal, The Stupids and The Instigators.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

Frank Zappa once posed the question, “Does humour belong in music?” The answer is a resounding and unequivocal, “Yes!” Alright are a straight-down-the-line punk rock 3-piece from Bolton who claim to be ‘too fat and lazy to play live’, which is a shame as, if this EP is anything to go by they would be an absolute blast. Alright have a sense of humour; even their name is imbued with a self-deprecating wit… “Who are you?”, “We’re Alright.” The humour extends to the blurb that accompanied this release which was almost apologetic suggesting, “If you fancied wasting your time with a review of it then we’d enjoy that.” I suspect these guys, despite the self-effacing humour, know that they’re doing something pretty good.

This EP barely scrapes the 2 minute mark across the 2 songs here, which in many ways makes it almost perfect punk rock. To my ravaged ears these guys remind me of the first time I heard The Stupids, that is to say this is fast-as-fuck but there is an underlying sense of melody that gives it an almost, dare I say, sing along vibe. I suspect that may be an accident on the band’s part but it’s there nonetheless. Despite the brevity of their songs and the sheer tempo, Alright do manage to add plenty of dynamics in a short space of time, even down to some tasty NYHC-style metallic breakdowns. Although the 2 songs here are a breakneck 1 minute 23 and 53 seconds respectively, they are fully fledged and fully structured and far more than just a throwaway blast of noise.

Continue reading “EP Review: Alright – EP 3”

Top 5 EP Releases of 2017

Shout Louder’s picks of the best short releases of the year.

Article by Sarah Williams.

It’s been an extremely strong year for releases in the world of punk. For the Shout Louder end of year round-up, I’ve decided to embrace the classic Top 5 format. Over the next few days you can enjoy all of the following:

First up are my Top 5 EPs of the year. This was a real struggle. As a cheaper and easier alternative to a full-length album, it seems to be the format of choice for many of the bands I favour at the moment. There were more EPs vying for the top spot this year than there were albums.

Just short of making the cut was Alaska Alaska’s Another Planet’s Hell. I have also listened to No Trigger’s Adult Braces a hell of a lot, however it’s mostly on the strength of one song – Dogs On Acid. I ought also mention On A Hiding To Nothing. They are one of my favourite live discoveries this year, and their EP Formaldehyde is stupidly fast, complex and awesome.

Without further ado, here are my Top 5 EPs of 2017.

#5: Incisions – Quit Now

EP Incisions Quit now.jpg

Incisions are a gutsy foursome from Manchester who create proper, noisy fast-punk full of swagger. It feels like they’ve taken a rowdy punk band and added a hard rock guitarist, driving the songs with irresistible riffs and grooves. Jordan Lloyd’s coarse vocal and snappy fuck-off lyrics tie it all together, dripping with attitude and agression.

Absolutely zero fucks were given in the making of this record. Or, at least, that’s what the attitude in the lyrics convey. In reality it clearly takes a lot of talent to make an EP this good while making it seem effortless. I loved this the first second I heard it, and my only regret is not seeing it played live until November. Live or recorded, Quit Now has an undeniable power to make you to rock the fuck out.

 

#4: Toodles & The Hectic Pity – Call In Sick

EP Toodles & The Hectic Pity.jpg

I have to thank Colin Clark’s impeccable music taste for this one. He recommended this band to me earlier in the year, shocked that they only had ~100 Facebook followers despite producing an incredible record. It’s five tracks of bouncy, fast acoustic folk-punk that’s pleasantly uplifting, in a similar vein to bands like Jake & The Jellyfish. Call In Sick has shed a bright beam of positivity on 2017 for me, and I want to share it with everyone.

Coming from Bristol, Toodles & The Hectic Pity produce quick, snappy and percussive punk ditties, overlaid with witty lyrics, delivered in a vocal style that cracks and strains and makes you want to sing along. My favourite song is by far the title track, hitting a real nerve with me with the words, “You shouldn’t have to work so hard to barely get you by.” The theme of the song in part gave me the confidence I needed to leave my job and change my life this year. Well done, Toodles, it’s an incredible record. Continue reading “Top 5 EP Releases of 2017”