Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

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This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

Top 5 Album Releases of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite picks from a year of brilliant new albums.

Article by Sarah Williams.

By sticking to the classic Top 5 format for our end-of-year round-up, I’ve really made a rod for my own back. It would be easier to write a Top 10 or a Top 40 with all the amazing releases this year.

As a result, there are some surprising absences from my Top 5. Propagandhi’s Victory Lap has received a lot of repeat play at Shout Louder HQ, but I’d still take any of these smaller bands over it. Bear Trade, Matilda’s Scoundrels and 88 Fingers Louie have all put out brilliant full-lengths. I’m a huge fan of The Smith Street Band, but for me More Scared of You Than You Are of Me just doesn’t have the sheer gut-wrenching emotive force of their earlier releases. I feel similarly about The MenzingersAfter The Party.

Shamefully, I’ve not given enough time to Iron Chic’s You Can’t Stay Here or Hard GirlsFloating Now to include them, although I know I’m going to become obsessed with both. I only recently heard Hateful Monday’s Unfrightened but that would definitely be on the Top 5 if I had got to it sooner! There are also plenty of less punk releases that I have enjoyed. If you’re into Canadian hardcore then You’re Not You Anymore by Counterparts will be a highlight. One of my other favourites has been Thundercat’s Drunk – it’s fabulously eclectic stoner/soul/nu-jazz stuff.

I have one final thing to mention before I get on with it: the new Only Strangers album. The release has been pushed back to 2018, but had it been released in December as planned there is no doubt that it would be in my Top 5. I’ve been rinsing a pre-release copy on repeat for weeks. If you like gruff melodic punk like The Burnt Tapes, Hot Water Music or Iron Chic, keep an eye out for the release in the next few weeks.

Finally, here are my Top 5 Albums of 2017:

#5: Aerial Salad – Roach

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Aerial Salad are a refreshing suprise. There is something exciting about their debut album that I can’t explain; it has a modern-classic air to it. Songs like Habits and Problems are instantly memorable and relatable. The bassline on Check My Mind is as comforting as your pulse. The opening line to 97, ‘I just told my Mum I’m gonna kill myself, it’s so easy now,’ is so raw it burns. Roach is an album with guts.

It’s even more suprising that the album sounds refreshing, because in many way it’s copy-cat familiar: Aerial Salad’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Greenday, PUP, Gnarwolves, Jawbreaker and Nirvana. The is a raw quality to the production and rough delivery that makes the album sound fresh, unique and special. Discovering Roach is like finding £50 discarded and trampled in the street. Give it a listen and get ready to become obsessed.

Check out our 2-part interview with Jamie Munro here and here, plus our review of Roach here.

 

#4: Gnarwolves – Outsiders

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Gnarwolves are a somewhat marmite band within the scene, but for me Outsiders is merely further proof that they can do no wrong musically. From the warm, plaintive opening of Straightjacket I am completely and utterly hooked. ‘I found love at the bottoms of bottles, the edges of twilight where my Sunday slips into my Monday,’ is a fitting introduction to Thom Weeks’ evocative and memorable songwriting. The album then cascades through equally dark and uplifting tracks like Wires and Paint Me A Martyr, full of appealing melodies, hooks and infectious refrains. Continue reading “Top 5 Album Releases of 2017”

Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell

We chat to Welsh thrashcore heavyweights Grand Collapse about their song-writing inspiration, their recent tour and their ideal Sunday.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Pay No More Than Photography. Article photos by Alia Thomas.

In recent years Grand Collapse have become one of my favourite bands. Their live performances carry enough force to knock your teeth out; they take seriously fast, intense thrash to new heights.

Although the sheer force of their music is in itself a pleasure, they stand apart from other hardcore bands by adding in classic 80’s metal grooves and fusing it together though sterling musicianship. There’s also a strong political undercurrent in the songs. Listening at home, this might only become clear if you’re reading the lyric sheet, but the band often incorporate it into their live shows by pausing to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time. Watching Grand Collapse injects fire straight into your veins; there’s a fury and beauty that’s hard not to love. Their album Along The Dew, released on TNS Records earlier this year, is also a stunning demonstration of musical talent and hardcore force.

I was lucky enough to catch up with singer, Calvin Sewell, just before their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich (check out my review of the show here). For someone fronting a hardcore band, Calvin seems to write with his heart on his sleeve, putting a lot of emotion and care into his words and his approach. I was keen to find out a bit more.

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Welcome to Ipswich! You’ve come a long way – South Wales and Bristol, right?

We’re all from different spots around South Wales but myself and Jon have emigrated to Bristol.

How did Grand Collapse first get started?

Nothing spectacular; we’re all the around the same age, from the same area, and all into fast / heavy music so inevitably you find each other. The other lads had played in several bands like Four Letter Word, Rejected and Threat Manifesto amongst others and we all knew each other vaguely from going to gigs. I wanted to start a band around that time and those three people made sense, so I told each of them that the other two were involved before they had even agreed and on that basis they all said ‘yes’!

Your second album, Along The Dew, was released earlier this year. How have you found the reaction so far?

Pretty decent. We’re stoked with this one. I think we learnt quite a lot whilst making the first record that helped us whilst writing and recording this one. It’s a lot closer to the mark sound wise and stylistically to where we want to be.

You’ve got such a genre-defying sound that I think people struggle to know what other bands to compare you to. What were you listening to when you recorded the album? Are they are any acts that have really inspired you?

Zeke. Rush. Propagandhi. Bane. Def Leppard. Motorhead. Death. Sick of It All. Conflict.

It’s also a lot more polished than your average hardcore band. What was the recording process like?

We work with Lewis Johns at The Ranch in Southampton. It’s a great place to record and Lewis is a fucking wizard. We gave ourselves a bit more time with this one so it was less rushed and we had a better idea of how we wanted to it to sound as a whole record rather than just a collection of songs. It’s a lot more chaotic and aggressive than the first. Continue reading “Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell”

Gig Review: Punkle Fester [14/10/2017]

Southampton’s skate-punk extravaganza slayed. Featuring Darko, Fair Dos, PMX, Almeida, Grand Collapse and excessive caffeine consumption.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Alia Thomas, video by Rob Piper.

When I first saw the line-up announcement for Punkle Fester, it was an immediate no-brain decision to go. Featuring the likes of Darko, Fair Dos, PMX and Almeida at the top of a bill of thirteen acts, it is conceivably the best UK skate-punk shred-fest I have ever encountered. The bar for this gig is set extremely high; clearly worth the four hour trip to The Talking Heads in Southampton.

We have Lee Warren and local Southampton skate-punks Captain Trips to thank for this monstrously good line-up, and they’re in good spirits when I rock up at Saturday lunchtime. Portsmouth trio The SLM kick things off, turning out silly fast punk reminiscent of The Ergs. They throw some nice metallic guitar licks into the mix, coming across a bit like a drunken NOFX practicing for a Slayer covers set. Or Slayer practicing for NOFX covers set, I can’t decide.

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Their songs cover a range of important topics, with titles like Bitten By A Zombie, Turtle Shark and Here Come The Raptors. Vocalist/guitarist Rob clearly enjoys introducing the songs with rockstar-style flair, although the rest of the band keep ribbing him to keep within their allotted set time. Their new song Paradox Maradox adds a bit of depth to their set with some more earnest singing. They finish off with a cracking song about zombie sharks and a shout along of ‘sword, sword, sword!’ from the small but enthusiastic audience.

Between bands, Rich Mayor (frontman of Captain Trips) plays a quick acoustic set in the lavishly decorated front bar, adding some lovely atmosphere to the smoking terrace. He plays Give Me A Shout from his solo album Decade, which gives his voice a chance to shine without the force of a full band behind him. He’s got a unique sound that’s warm but rough around the edges, and a talent for a catchy songwriting.

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The Bitter-Town Hounds bring a lot of hair and energy to the mix, introducing a welcome metal edge to the day. They make good use of on-stage space, playing off each other’s energy. Their drummer can’t run around but he looks like he wants to, hurling a lot of passion and energy into his kit. The vocalist has the perfect confident rock delivery and the bass really stands out, partly because of the great sound in The Talking Heads. The highlight of their set is an unexpected but deeply enjoyable cover of Suicidal Tendencies’ Cyco Vision. More of that, please. Continue reading “Gig Review: Punkle Fester [14/10/2017]”

Gig Review: Grand Collapse, Spoilers and Casual Nausea [19/10/2017]

The masters of UK thrashcore keep a midweek crowd on their toes at The Smokehouse in Ipswich.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Richard Talbot.

It’s a grey, overcast Thursday in October. You’ve been chained to desk for eight hours, battered with spreadsheets, deadlines and inane office chatter. Your eyes sting from the air conditioning, strip lighting and screen glare. The phone rings incessantly and you’re hoping your boss hasn’t noticed you muttering ‘wanker’ every time you hang up on someone.

At the end of days like these, The Smokehouse in Ipswich is the light at the end of the tunnel. The endorphin rush you achieve at these shows is worth every second of your mid-week wage-slave drudgery. Tonight is especially exciting: Grand Collapse have travelled all the way from South Wales to jolt us back into reality with an insanely fast barrage of thrash mastery. Joining them are Spoilers, undoubtedly one of the most consistently great punk bands in the UK, plus local shouty legends Casual Nausea. Uncomfortable Beach Party Promotions have pulled another banger out of the bag.

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This is Casual Nausea’s first Ipswich show this year, plus their first local jaunt with new bass player Matt Kemp. As Spoilers put it later on, Casual Nausea are both, “The hardest sounding band and the loveliest bunch of people.” There is a palpable warmth and love in the room, with many of the local punks getting down early to catch the whole set. I have to fight my way to the front and through to the bar, it’s packed already.

The Smokehouse hasn’t got a stage to speak of, just an area behind the PA where the drumkit and the musicians typically reside. Throughout the evening the acts disregard the little barricade of monitors, with singer/shouter Simon being the first to get out into the crowd, trailing a long mic-lead. His antics get the rowdy dancing started down the front, setting the scene for a chaotic evening of elbows and shout-alongs. Continue reading “Gig Review: Grand Collapse, Spoilers and Casual Nausea [19/10/2017]”

Gig Guide: October’s Unmissable Shows

We’ve done the hard work for you, and found all of October’s best gigs. Remember: sleep is overrated.

September’s been an eventful month. We received the sad news that Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü, funk and soul legend Charles Bradley and Matt Bellinger of Planes Mistaken for Stars have all passed away. Pennywise got through all of IT without playing Bro-Hymn. Iron Chic keep teasing us with new tunes. And Propagandhi just released their new album Victory Lap.

I bought 30-odd new CDs that I somehow need to make time to listen to, and now I’m faced with the dilemma of having to delete something off my iPod to make room for new tunes. On top of that, I’ve gained about 8 new band t-shirts and have run out of wardrobe space. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?

There is a lot to be excited about in October. Here are my top picks:

Gig of the Month: Punkle Fester

  • When: Saturday 14th October
  • Where: Talking Heads, Southampton
  • Who: Darko, Fair Dos, PMX, Almeida, Grand Collapse, Captain Trips, Müg, Misgivings, On A Hiding to Nothing, Screech Bats, Sombulance, The Bitter-town Hounds, The SLM
  • Event page HERE / Tickets £10 advance, £12 OTD

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Love skate-punk? Of course you love skate-punk. Not only does this all-dayer have the most inventive name of all time, it has the best UK skate-punk lineup you could possibly imagine, with plenty of variety throughout the day to keep you on your toes.

It’s worth arriving early for some zombie/dinosaur/shark-infested fast-punk from The SLM and I’m eager to catch Sombulance again after a lively performance at Punk Rock Holiday, especially now I’ve had enough time to learn all the words on their new EP Lifer. Portsmouth 4-piece Misgivings are unmissable if you’re into gruff. I’m still reeling from Müg‘s awesome set in London last weekend: they’re a high-quality and highly underrated bunch.

Southcoast skatepunks Captain Trips are hosting the festival – I’ve never seen them before and I’m silly excited about it, having had their new single on repeat for a month or so. Following them are Grand Collapse playing overwhelmingly frantic hardcore thrash (more on them below).

I’ve never seen a band with the ability to leave an audience gaping in awe quite like Almeida do; their style of progressive-thrash is a technical marvel. I’m sure PMX will make a fair attempt at out-doing them, though. The Scottish act have the melodies to get a crowd on side and the technical ability to floor them. The penultimate band are Manchester’s premier heavy skatepunk act, Fair Do’s: bound to be melodic, aggressive and full of those widdly-widdly guitar bits that make you pull faces and wiggle your fingers around (don’t judge me, we all do it).

Finally, Lockjaw heavyweights Darko are closing the show. Hardcore skatepunk doesn’t begin to cover it – their songs are fast, intricate and unimaginably catchy. No doubt they’ll play plenty of tunes from their latest masterpiece Bonsai Mammoth, and they’ll probably have us weeping with joy. Or spilling pints on ourselves in a wall of death. Either’s fine by me.

Continue reading “Gig Guide: October’s Unmissable Shows”

Grand Collapse: You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]

Intense, technical hardcore for fans of Trash Talk, Propaghandi and face-melting thrash punk.

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When I first saw Grand Collapse they completely blew me away.  Their unrelentingly fast thrash is fuelled by aggression and frustration, and underpinned by impressive musicianship. Listening to Grand Collapse is the musical equivalent of jumping over the edge of a giant waterfall and tumbling into the unknown: a frantic mix of adrenaline, shock and awe.

Live they are savagely intense, likely to inspire either mosh pit chaos or the end of the world. The last performance I saw was in the basement of Sound Control at this year’s Manchester Punk Festival, where at least one of my friends spent the whole set standing slack-jawed in awe of what they were witnessing.

After the astounding assault of their live shows their records do not disappoint.  Their first album Far From The Callous Crowd is a firm favourite of mine, and recent follow up Along The Dew is 29 minutes and 49 seconds of raw energy. Both are tightly produced, allowing you to appreciate the intricate intrumental layering, outstanding guitar work and heavy double-kick annihilation. Calvin Sewell’s hoarse vocal adds a percussive punch, threatening to fall apart at any moment. Live or on record they are to be enjoyed extremely loud and overwhelmingly fast; every bar is a joyous assault on the senses.

I have the distinct pleasure of seeing Grand Collapse at Punx Inna Jungle later today (if I survive until 1am), but you can check them out at Common Ground Festival and around the country later in the year.

Along The Dew was released on TNS Records earlier this year. If you’re a fan of face-meltingly fast, technically excellent hardcore you’d be a fool not to buy it.

You can stream, download or buy a copy here:
TNS RECORDS (UK) http://bit.ly/2qQFsA0
RUIN NATION (EU) http://bit.ly/2qy0thw
BANDCAMP http://bit.ly/2pgtfjC
YOUTUBE http://bit.ly/2qUqysn