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”

All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?

Mark Bartlett dissects the magic of recording, songwriting democracy and why we should all contribute to the art we enjoy.

Check Out: All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo/pop-punk/post-hardcore/whatever-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

Bands, let’s all examine our work ethic for a moment…

I want to look as excited as I actually feel but I’m just really, really sleepy (and still recovering from a nasty bout of flu). It’s the first of 5 days of recording our new EP All Talk at The Clubhouse in Tunbridge Wells with Ricky Beetlestone. The spirit is absolutely willing but there are giant fuck-off bags under my eyes and a tired rashness to my cheeks that’s making me look like Phil Mitchell at peak booziness.

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I finished work at 2am last night, which meant I was forced to get the N199 night bus outside Charing Cross with all the pissed up Friday night misfits, thus eventually crawling into bed at 3:45am. This isn’t ideal for a 7:45 wake-up time. To be fair, I don’t have to do anything today apart from be here and give approving nods and dismissive headshakes.

I know absolutely fuck all about the technical aspects of the recording process so, after meeting all round nice chap Ricky and lugging a few drum bits around, I snuggled into the leather sofa at the back to try and have a nap. Actually, I did pause to be suitably impressed by the monolithic mixing desk, which seemingly had 500 different dials and doohickeys that a luddite like myself could never comprehend.

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Despite my sleepiness (that I hope didn’t come off as apathetic rudeness to our new producer friend), I am excited. This is the best part of being in a band. We’re making a record; it’s going into the digital cloud to live forever and provide some evidence to future society about exactly who their silly ancestors were.

And this is where the internal panic sets in and confidence turns to doubt. Are all the parts up to scratch? Are the songs too long? Will people hate my voice as much as I do? Are the lyrics cringey? Is this the best we can do? Continue reading “All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?”

All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Mark Bartlett examines the trials and rewards of slogging away determinedly in punk scene, in the first of a new series of opinion pieces.

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

I’m currently in my bed. It’s raining outside; the wind is fucking noisy. I’m really tired and I’ve got a stinking cold. My eyeballs hurt as I’m writing, probably because I don’t own a computer and do all of my writing on the pages app on my phone.

I get myself pretty stressed out, and I feel like I have too much on my plate what with having a full time job (with very strange shift patterns) and all the demands associated with that. Next week my band is going into the studio to record EP no. 2 All Talk. We are also hosting a big charity fest/release party on March 3rd in Kingston, with some of my favourite UK bands. We are going to make new videos, get new merch and press ahead full steam with our plans for 2018.

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When I get stressed out, my wife Ruth always asks why I don’t just drop a bunch of stuff (and get off my phone). After all… hobbies are supposed to be fun and relaxing right? I agreed. I resolved to quit social media and stop being such a try-hard, try to write some songs and be ‘off grid’ for a bit.

This lasted for one week max. A fortnight later, I’ve started organising a festival and taken on all the other stuff that comes with releasing a new record. This forced me to think about why I bother and what the overall point is. I think it’s important every now and then to re-examine why you’re in a band in the first place, give yourself a little bit of self-therapy and re-adjust your expectations accordingly. Continue reading “All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?”

Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – Post-

Mark takes a listen to Jeff’s surprise new record, dropped unexpectedly in our laps on New Year’s Day. FFO: Early Weezer, The Smith Street Band and Joyce Manor.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

My level of fandom for punk savant Jeff Rosenstock currently resembles the awe I felt as a tween discovering rock music for the very first time. I know that Jeff would feel very uncomfortable being labelled as a genius or some kind of scene saviour, but this self-deprecating, humbled outlook is all part of a package that has made Jeff my favourite musician and a personal inspiration.

What it ultimately comes down to is generosity and good intentions; Jeff and his previous band Bomb The Music Industry have always been about channeling all of that exciting punk rock energy into being the best person you can be, inclusiveness and an ethical code that allows everybody to enjoy his music for free and to attend safe, cheap shows. It doesn’t hurt that Jeff and the band release fantastic albums on a very regular basis that seamlessly blend punk, pop, indie, hardcore and ska, as well as touring endlessly.

Jeff Rosenstock post Album release Facebook quote.pngI assumed that Jeff would need to recharge for a little bit following the long haul promoting 2016’s Worry, but on New Year’s Day Jeff generously decided to bestow a brand new studio album Post- on us for free via Bandcamp and Quote Unquote Records with no warning or fanfare. Initially, as was the case with Worry, Post- feels a little underwhelming in the wake of its immediate predecessor. As with all of Rosenstock’s albums it takes a few listens to fully absorb all of the great things about Jeff’s songwriting. However, 40 plays later I can happily confirm that Post- continues the streak of excellence that previous releases Worry and We Cool established, but in some unexpected ways.

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Opener USA is a mammoth 7 minutes and sets the blueprint for all that follows. Jeff’s voice is stronger; a little bit of vocal restraint being exercised in service of songwriting. Post- was written in the wake of Trump’s election and a lot of the subject matter is reflective of the collective anxiety we’re all living in; “I fought the law, but the law was cheating,” is one of the best lyrics on the record. The explosive, “We’re tired, we’re bored,” refrain at the end is another example of Jeff’s ability to put several main chorus-worthy hooks into a single song.

Yr Throat is a personal highlight. It kicks off with an almost Iron Maiden-ish gallop before exploding into a big earworm chorus that reminds me of Boys And Girls In America-era Hold Steady thanks to Dan Potthast’s lovely keys. There’s a bright, hopeful clap-along middle section that filled me with joy from the first time I heard it.

We then have my undisputed favourite All This Useless Energy, which has a Weezer Blue Album vibe with its mid-tempo chug and sombre opening riff. The verse is one of the best melodies that Jeff has ever sung. It concludes with my favourite closure to any Rosenstock song: “Oh please, you’re not fooling anyone when you say you tried your best. Because you can’t be your best anything when you can’t get any rest.”

Powerlessness is a jaunty, faster song more reminiscent of a track from We Cool than anything else here. It’s a great song but probably still my least favourite here.

TV Stars is a big dreamy, Beatlesy ballad, with big harmonies and lush full instrumentation. It’s really mature songwriting and in the hands of any big pop artist would be a hit single (I don’t mean that as a negative, though).

Melba is amazing and for most fans it’ll probably be the standout track, as it includes arguably the strongest chorus on the record. It seamless segues into the immediate, short and simple pop of Beating My Head Against A Wall which is insanely catchy.

Another highlight in an album full of highlights is the Laura Stevenson duet 9/10, which is another lovely keyboard-driven ballad. It feels like a musical departure of sorts, moreso than anything else on the album. John Dedomenici’s bass playing really stands out here.

Jeff likes to close out his albums pretty bombastically and, in typical fashion, Let Them Win is an 11 minute slow stomp of a protest song that finishes things perfectly.

Overall, I’d say even though Post- is relatively short, and doesn’t quite hit the heady highs of Worry, it is still consistently brilliant and a continuation of Jeff’s seemingly never-ending winning streak.

You have no reason not to check this out right now.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach

Aerial Salad’s debut is refreshingly raw, angsty punk. FFO: Greenday, Jawbreaker and Wonk Unit.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

As 2017 draws to its conclusion, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this is a banner year for underground UK punk. Trends in music are cyclical. I personally feel the current hordes of identikit easy-core bands are about to succumb to a new wave of diverse, substantial and purposeful punk rock bands, much like how the hair metal and gimmicky glam of the late ‘80’s was melted away by Sub-Pop, Epitaph, Reprise and Fat Wreck Chords. We’re lucky to be in a musical climate where you can see an amazing home-grown punk band every week without fail (and without spending a lot of money either!).

Manchester 3-piece Aerial Salad’s debut album Roach has (in my estimation at least) leaped right to the top of the pile in a year choc-full of quality releases across every sub-genre in the UK punk spectrum.

It’s a perfect storm of everything I look for in a first release; it’s focussed, confident and passionate. It boasts muscular production that stands toe-to-toe with major studio albums, and it’s filled to the brim with total belters. Everything here sounds large, from the stadium-sized drums to the rich crunch of the guitar work on offer, as well as throaty, full vocals that sit perfectly within the mix. Overall it all sounds pretty immaculate.

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Before this review reads like it’s entirely gushing praise, it’s important to address the few flaws that steer Roach away from perfection. Aerial Salad are shooting for a sound that marries huge, early Green Day hooks to the raw grit of Jawbreaker, and they succeed, but as consequence Aerial Salad aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. We’re in the strict territory of 3-chord punk rock and the quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamics of Nirvana. It’s derivative. I could also argue that the song-writing here is somewhat formulaic, with classic pop-punk chord patterns that we’ve all heard many times over.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Aerial Salad, despite binding themselves to a strict sonic template, are utterly convincing and assured at every point on Roach. Vocalist/guitarist Jamie Munro has a really strong understanding of how to reel in the listener. His voice has a raspy drawl that emulates both Billie Joe Armstrong’s snotty enthusiasm and Kurt Cobain’s angsty inflections. Continue reading “Album Review: Aerial Salad – Roach”

EP Review: Bear Trap – Sugarcoated

Check out the new EP from Manchester pop-punkers, Bear Trap. FFO: The Starting Line, No Use For A Name, The Ataris.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

Manchester’s Bear Trap have got some pretty great stuff going on within the three tracks of their debut EP Sugarcoated (courtesy of Horn & Hoof Records), but the fresh 4-piece still have plenty of scope to grow into the best version of the noughties revivalist pop-punk unit they’re trying to be.

They’ve a really decent grasp of song structure and what makes for a good, uplifting chord progression, as well as a strong sense for a catchy lyrical hook. The opening bars of Goodbye really do an excellent job of cementing the Drive-Thru era sound and reeling in the listener. Bear Trap have claimed a Blink/Green Day/Yellowcard influence, but personally, I can mostly hear The Starting Line (which is no bad thing!). Lyrics like ‘I’ll wave you goodbye as the last train leaves, just say it’s not forever’ are pretty authentically classic emo. Bear Trap also score major points for sticking to their real accents and not falsely Americanising their sound; it really helps them carve out their own identity in a very crowded genre. Continue reading “EP Review: Bear Trap – Sugarcoated”

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”