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”

Gig Alert: Cinemania Fest

Check out this bangin’ melodic punk line-up hitting London on March 3rd!

Shout Louder’s very own Mark Bartlett has put together a blindingly good all-dayer in South London, to celebrate the release of Our Lives In Cinema‘s new EP All Talk and Triple Sundae‘s new single Indecisive, both out on Umlaut Records in the near future. They’ve curated an exciting collection of up-and-coming bands from around the country, all of whom are linked by a talent for fast, catchy, hooky melodies. In short: fun.

The lineup includes some incredible bands, such as Manchester’s freshest power-punks Aerial Salad, melodic fast-punk favourites Captain Trips and London’s own Triple Sundae, who will no doubt be playing some tunes from their seriously exicting new record.

You’re also going to fall in love with Arms & Hearts, a solo singer-songwriter with one hell of a voice, in the style of Brian Fallon or Chuck Ragan. You’ll walk out of the gig desperately wanting to get his beautiful lyrics tattooed all over you. If that’s not your thing, FastFade and Second In Line will bring you back into the fast-punk game. Continue reading “Gig Alert: Cinemania Fest”

EP Review: The Burnt Tapes – Alterations

The new EP from London’s favourite ‘regret punks’ is a moody, melodic masterstroke. FFO: Iron Chic, Leagues Apart and Red City Radio.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

When I first saw The Burnt Tapes on a poster (a year or so ago) I’d already decided that they were awesome before ever hearing a note of music, such is the power of an excellent band name. But a band needs to be more than just a really really cool name. On Alterations the London-via-Athens band deliver six tracks that stand toe to toe with their peers and cement their position at the top of the pile of London’s best punk bands. Tone Apostolopoulos (vocals & bass), Phil Georgoulopoulos (lead vocals & guitar), Panos Tessaromatis (vocals & guitar) and Jordan Hall (Drums), have delivered one of 2017’s standout melodic punk releases.

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Short opener Alterations sets the tone and pace nicely. Sonically, it all begins in a fairly sunny fashion, with triumphant progressions and some flowery harmonies that are effectively betrayed by vocals that take the granite chewing grit of Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan, viewed through a modern Iron Chic-esque lens. “‘Cause at twenty-eight, what the fuck can you change?”

Lead track Oh Marie was the first song I was exposed to. I immediately got vibes that took me back to circa 2001 post-hardcore/emo classic bands. Musically, the chord changes are a bit Good Mourning-era Alkaline Trio. The opening progression is menacing and bubble-wrapped in glass half-empty pessimism. Lyrically, we’re in a dark place here: “I’ve looked better, you’ve looked worse. Crawling on the ground for your last cigarette.”

It’s followed by one of the two strongest tracks on the record. The excellently punny Wayne Regretzky opens with a huge, sparkly pop riff that leads into the most dynamically interesting verse-to-chorus changes on the EP. Lyrically, it’s poignant and personally affecting with the refrain, “All good things pass, real fast,” delivering the record’s best lyrical moment. Continue reading “EP Review: The Burnt Tapes – Alterations”

Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)

An exciting London charity all-dayer featuring Kamikaze Girls, Almedia, Eat Defeat, The Burnt Tapes, Sombulance and more.

Photo credit: Awesome pics courtesy of Roberto Gasparro @ LivePix.

Now in its third year, Might As Well Fest is socially-responsible all dayer split across two tiny London venues: The Macbeth in Hoxton and the infamous Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. If the cracking line-up isn’t enough to coax people down, the promoters are also using the forces of music for good, raising money for two worthy causes: CALM and SANDS.

When I hurriedly stumble into The Macbeth at 3.20pm, I’m concerned that I’m late but turns out that I needn’t have worried: they’ve had some troubles of their own. Don Blake and Sweet Little Machine have pulled out last minute, and You Know The Drill’s van has broken down outside Birmingham. As a result, they’ve had to shift timings, drum kits, amps and expectations. The change in the set times is actually a positive: the opening bands will now have a bigger crowd and the heel-draggers like me, who couldn’t make it earlier, won’t be missing out. Nonetheless, I’m reminded that we ought to be extremely thankful to anyone with the resilience to put on DIY shows!

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A handful of early-birds assemble to watch Thirteen, a Scottish group who’ve joined the bill at the last minute. They play old school punk with a rock ‘n’ roll flavour, which is good, but slightly out-of-sorts with the rest of the line-up, which is a combination of fast-punk and pop-punk. It’s good pub-punk and not a bad way to kick things off for the day.

As I reviewed their EP recently, I have been very excited to catch Our Lives In Cinema live. This is only their 8th gig and their freshness shows: they look a little awkward on stage at the beginning of the set, settling in after two songs.

They open with Cut and Run – an awesome throwback to a lot of energetic early noughties punk. You can hear a strong Jeff Rosenstock influence in Mark Bartlett’s frantic, emotional singing which is conveyed better live. Bartlett has a unique style of performance: he packs as many words into a bar as possible while shaking around the stage. Currently it looks a little awkward, but with more practice I expect it to become an integral part of their act. Otherwise, they’ve got a good, solid rhythm section, strong drumming and great backing vocals. They close on their most anthemic song, I Got This, leaving the audience happy. Once they’ve got a few more shows under their belt, I look forward to seeing a much more confident and comfortable band.

Lay It On The Line are up next at The Macbeth. They’re the most hardcore band of the day. It’s a brutal and disordered performance, with frontman Mike spending much of show writhing, crouched or lying on the stage while screaming bloody murder. He gives the impression of a man on the edge of breakdown extremely well. It’s all held together with some warmer guitar backing, adding a more melodic edge to their otherwise extreme sound.

It’s unusual to see bands with two standalone singers (Casual Nausea’s the only one I can think of), but it really works. Mike and Alice and equally adept at screaming and conveying a lot of anger and emotion. It’s hard to make out the lyrics but their explanations of the songs are both surprising and entertaining – one song’s dedicated to fans of the Marquis de Sade (of which they assume there are none in the room), another is about a head teacher who was killed by a rent boy after he failed to pay up…  It’s fascinating to know what inspires people’s song writing sometimes. They pull out a fantastic cover of Rotting Out’s Positive Views and end the set in a wail of feedback.

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Recap are up next, and they are fantastic. That’s the least you can expect from Dave House and Mark Pavey’s latest project – a reincarnation of Pacer and follow-up to The Steal. They jokingly say it’s only their second show, but they’re anything but new to the game. Continue reading “Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)”

Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)

The most fun I’ve ever had for a fiver, feat. The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Werecats, Mug, Misgivings and more.

Disclaimer: Brace yourselves, these may be the worst gig photos ever taken! I decided they were slightly better than none at all.

On the punk circuit there is a risk of seeing the same 10 touring bands again and again, so it’s always appealing to discover new acts. It takes cheap all-day gigs like the Kick The Crutches all-dayer to enable us to do that: when it’s only £5 to see 12 bands you know it’s going to be worth it.

Although there are bands I already love on the line-up today (I’m most excited for The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp and Werecats) the real draw for me is the bands I’ve not seen before. On A Hiding To Nothing, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Fastfade and Strange Planes are all bands I’ve listened to and heard a lot about lately, but who I’ve not had the opportunity to see live. There is also plenty of genre diversity in the line-up to keep people on their toes for the whole day. I can’t wait.

Fastfade open the show, amusingly already running five minutes behind schedule. They’re a young three-piece from Enfield, playing strong back-to-basics fast punk, like NOFX but smarter. It’s really enjoyable. Three songs in, there’s a drunk heckler shouting ‘one more song’, apparently missing the fact that they’ve got quite a few left. It’s proves for an amusing between-song piece, before they crack into a song appropriately named Idiot. Playing at 2.45pm they grumble about it being too early to start boozing, but late enough for the coffee to have worn off, but they still provide a lively, energetic show. On the last song they toss a drumstick out into the crowd, only to ask us to throw it back because the drummer actually needs it: one of those lovely small-gig moments.

It’s not often that a band blow you out of the water like Nietzsche Trigger Finger. I’ve heard of the duo from Bristol, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see them. They’re a complete revelation; I pity the poor punters who haven’t made it to the venue in time for their early set. They play stripped-back thrash with off-the-wall lyrics and funny referential song titles like ‘Gone Girl’ Cat vs. Twitter Eggs, 9/11 Two and Reinventing Kanye West. They drift beautifully from diabolically heavy, to fast hardcore, to clever, percussive acapella sections. I can’t wait to catch them again, and I strongly recommend that you go listen to everything they’ve ever recorded. It’s intricate, interesting and totally unique.

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Next up is Strange Planes, who play bass-driven melodic rock with hints of punk. At this point, I’m drinking a coffee from a shop round the corner that tastes like diesel and pure hatred combined, which is mildly distracting. Conversely, the musical change of pace is accessible and instantly enjoyable. They achieve a great mix of different tones in their vocal harmonies, and the excellent, complex bass really stands out. I love every slow, moody second of their set. The coffee tastes better once it’s stripped away my tastebuds.

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It’s time for super-fun upbeat punk from Werecats. Their poppy melodic tunes never fail to get the crowd moving and singing along, and this is no exception. The title track of their latest EP My Boyfriend’s a Werewolf sounds great, with Pip and Cici switching lead vocals between songs and nailing the harmonies. They’ve got an energetic Fat Wreck feel, in the camp of Teenage Bottlerocket or Bad Cop/Bad Cop, while toeing the classic Ramones line. Werecats are more fun than a ball pool full of puppies wearing party hats, and tight to boot. It’s lovely to see them again, and I can’t resist having a dance-about. Continue reading “Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)”

Iron Chic and Bear Trade @ The Montague Arms – 11/06/2017 [Gig Review]

Two of melodic gruff punk’s finest acts deliver ‘sad punk for happy drunks’ at a matinee show in South London.

On a beautifully sunny day in June, I once again find myself piling into a black box filled with the great unwashed. I’ve arrived in South London early for the first of two Iron Chic shows at The Montague Arms in Peckham. To begin with, they booked a normal 7pm-doors gig with The Exhausts and Molar supporting but, when it sold out so quickly, they added a 4pm matinee gig aimed at out-of-towner’s like myself. When they announced the early show, I was immediately spurred into buying tickets by the addition of Bear Trade to the bill.

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If you were to ask me what my biggest musical discovery of 2015 was, it would undoubtedly be Bear Trade. I first saw them supporting Red City Radio at the Brixton Windmill, where I fell head-over-heels in love with them approximately 3 bars in. Overlooking the fact that I find their beardy Northern gruffness overwhelmingly sexy*, I honestly believe Bear Trade are the best melodic punk band in the UK right now, and yet I still often come across people who haven’t heard of them.

Iron Chic fans who’ve not discovered Bear Trade yet are in for a real treat: they sound extremely similar live, in the best way. Bear Trade open with Sea Legs, the first track on their new album Silent Unspeakable (released on Everything Sucks in April). The new album continues in the style of their earlier release Blood & Sand with some poppier overtones, however live you wouldn’t know the difference between the old and new material; the crowd reacts well to both.

Greg Robson’s growly vocal is the musical equivalent of supping single-malt by a roaring fire in a log cabin: it’s warm and comforting, with the occasional group, “Oof!” thrown in. The songs are interspersed with, bassist, Lloyd’s charmingly nonchalant banter. He towers over us at the centre of the unusually high stage, making a dry jokes and pulling a couple of faces that are all Sid Haig in House of a 1,000 Corpses (that’s a compliment, by the way).

Old favourites Bleedin’ Heart Trouble and Anathema get the best reaction from the crowd, but newer tracks Sexy Beast, Inglorious and As Long As We Have Tea are probably my favourites of the set. The new songs are as passionate and emotive as ever; every song is satisfyingly gruff with intricately melodic guitar harmonies, underpinned by outstanding drumming. Continue reading “Iron Chic and Bear Trade @ The Montague Arms – 11/06/2017 [Gig Review]”

Gig Review: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum (04/06/2017)

Thank you for playing the way you play: Descendents charge through 30+ songs and 2 encores in London.

The opportunity to see Descendents live in the UK is not one that you miss.

This is the second date of their Hypercaffium Spazzinate Euro Tour, and their only UK show. Descendents are forefathers of pop-punk and melodic hardcore. They formed in California in 1977, they’ve had 9 different members, 7 albums, 5 record labels and 4 long-term hiatuses. Their Milo caricature is ubiquitous on t-shirts and a popular tattoo, and yet it is still recognised as an emblem of good taste.

As a band who once said that they ‘couldn’t sell out a telephone booth’, they’ve single-handedly packed 2,300 people into Kentish Town Forum this Sunday night. I’m expecting punks from far and wide: die-hards who first heard them in 1982, Fat Wreck-era fans obsessed with Everything Sucks, newbies who’ve heard they’re legendary, and plenty of lucky boyfriends and girlfriends who have been dragged along. Continue reading “Gig Review: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum (04/06/2017)”