Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018

Sarah’s Top 5 picks of this year’s shorter punk rock releases.

Written by Sarah Williams.

There’s a true beauty in a short, snappy EP. Whether is a new band looking for a cost-effective way to showcase their talents and learn how to record, or a more established act wanting to immortalise some of their current material, EPs are often better than full albums.

To me a full album is an experience. The longer playing time allows the music to breathe and have highs and lows. Conversely, the short, sweet EP is typically a relevant blast of the band’s most recent material: a audio snapshot of this moment in their career, with no room for filler, fuss or faff.

Speaking to Lasse from Forever Unclean recently, I asked him whether they were considering doing an album. “We prefer doing EPs,” he said, if I remember correctly (I was drunk, so let’s paraphrase). “That way we can put out music that we currently enjoy playing, without having to wait for a full album’s worth of material.”

The albums released in 2018 were probably written and recorded long before. With that in mind, the shorter, more manageable EPs offer a more current insight into the musical landscape. That’s why, to me, some of this year’s most memorable releases are the short ones.

#5: Layman’s Terms – An Invite To The End

Bristol shredders Layman’s Terms produced an absolutely superb 6-track effort early in 2018.  An Invite To The End opens with some heavy guitar-work that quickly develops into urgent, frantic fast-punk. Like Fair Do’s, they’ve taken a lot of elements of double-time classic skate-punk and blended some of the heavier elements of metal. It works. Really well.

The whole EP keeps you on the edge of your seat with some adrenaline-loaded riffs and momentary heavy breakdowns. It’s unrelenting, ferocious and suggests there will be some great things from the band in future. I cannot wait to shout along to this live.

If you want to hear melodic hardcore done right, listen to Cut The Line and Letters To The Dead. Layman’s Terms have nailed this. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018”

Top 5 Punk Rock Festivals of 2018

Sarah’s favourite punk rock weekends of 2018.

Written by Sarah Williams.

2018 has been the year of the festival for me. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy quite a few.

One of the uniquely brilliant factors about the punk scene is that you develop close friendships with people in far flung cities and countries. Our community relies on big events like these to bring everyone together – there are some friends that I would describe as ‘close’ despite only seeing them at musical festivals every couple of months. There’s something about forgetting an entire weekend together that brings you even closer.

Human Project KNRD Fest 2018 cred Josh Sumner Cold Front Photography (63)

It feels a tad unfair ranking punk festivals when, clearly, I can’t go to every single festival. Notably, this year I was unable to make it to Pie Race Festival, Wotsit Called Festival or Level Up Festival, which I suspect might feature highly if I had.

Similarly, I went to some absolutely brilliant festivals that deserve some love that haven’t quite made it onto the list here. Specifically, I’d recommend Belgium’s El Topo Goes Loco to everyone – it’s small, sunny and always has an incredible line-up. I also fell in love with Belgium’s Brakrock Ecofest – anothering stunning location, easily accessible with an excellent roster of bands (looking even bigger in 2019). I also enjoyed Dugstock and Polite Riot at The New Cross Inn, plus handful of smaller fests around the country.

These were the five best experiences of my entire year:

Sbäm Fest_Astpai_Copyright_Andreas Wörister_Slihs Photography

#5: SBAM Fest – Wels, Austria

Going to SBAM Fest was a somewhat impulsive decision, in an effort to overcome the MPF post-festival blues. However, with Propagandhi, Iron Chic, Satanic Surfers and No Trigger it was a no-brainer.

After a seriously long trip (Manchester to Stansted, Stansted to Salzburg, train to Wels) I found myself in a cool location miles away from home; a converted slaughterhouse covered in graffiti and filled with affable punks. I caught bands from closer to home like Darko, Wonk Unit and The Murderburgers, plus some foreign highlights like Astpai and The Bennies. I also did some catastrophically hard partying that led to the worst hangover of the year – typically a sign of a good weekend. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock Festivals of 2018”

Top 5 Manchester Punk Fest Survival Tips

Our top tips on how to make the most of your weekend at Manchester Punk Festival.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Now in its fourth year, Manchester Punk Festival 2018 is bigger than ever. It maintains the atmosphere of a small festival, however there are over 1,000 attendees and multiple venues to navigate. A lot of people are visiting the festival for the first time this year, so I thought I’d share my top tips for getting the most out of the weekend.

Last week, someone asked my friend who he was was most excited to see at the festival and he couldn’t tell them. “I haven’t even looked at the line-up yet. I just follow Sarah around every year, she’s like a walking program.” I don’t claim to be an expert, but here are my top tips as a festival veteran:

#1: Prepare!

I’m a massive advocate of semi-obsessive organisation. Sure, it’s potentially the least ‘punk’ thing in the world, but lending some time to prepare for the festival means you’ll get more out of it. This is especially true at MPF, where there are multiple venues to navigate and so many incredible bands that you’ll struggle to find 10 minutes to inhale a falafel wrap while jogging between stages.

The MPF organisers have gone into meticulous detail to make it as easy for you to plan as possible. They’ve provided all the following:

  • A new MPF app where you select your favourite bands (in the line-up section), so that you receive a notification 15 minutes before their set begins, plus a map and regular updates
  • The famous Clashfinder, giving you the clearest view of the line-up, including a printable version
  • A detailed website with descriptions of every single band plus Bandcamp links
  • Free Bandcamp compilations and a Spotify playlist
  • A very detailed free program which you can download, or pick up in hard copy at the festival, including a detailed description/FFO for every band

We’ve also gone to quite a bit of effort here at Shout Louder. We’ve recorded a podcast with heaps of hints and tips to get you through the weekend, plus a run-down of the line-up. We’ve selected our Top 10 International Bands To Discover at the festival and run a series of ‘band spotlight’ interviews. Check out the full series here.

#2: Get There Early!

The festival has slightly increased the number of tickets this year, however capacity at the individual venues is still limited. If there is a band you desperately want to see, make sure you get there early (well before the set is due to start). This might require a bit more forethought than you’re used to having to invest in a festival, but it’s harder to fit everyone in when you’re not in a grassy field!

Some people have pointed out that there are quite a few clashes on the line-up, but this is a necessary evil. You might be a fan of both Iron Chic and Propagandhi, or Culture Shock and The Stupids (all of whom clash on Saturday night) but they’ve got to be booked at the same time to avoid any of the venues being too overwhelmed. The alternative is to have 500 people happily watching Propagandhi, while the other 500 stand grumpily outside Gorilla, wondering why they didn’t bother to turn up earlier.

The clashes are the price we pay for having a quality and diverse line-up hosted in such a wonderfully unique array of venues. MPF is a celebration of Manchester as much as it is a celebration of punk – the festival wouldn’t have the same charm in a different format. Continue reading “Top 5 Manchester Punk Fest Survival Tips”

Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To

Valentine’s Day Special: 5 banging punk rock tunes to bonk to on this most hallowed of commercial holidays.

Article by Sarah Williams. Disclaimer: SATIRE. Total satire.

Valentine’s Day. A time of roses, romance and rampant consumerism. It’s also time to make tender, passionate love to your sweetheart, or at least to bang whichever crusty reprobate you stumbled into at the grindcore show last night.

We here at Shout Louder believe that you can (and should) incorporate punk rock into every element of your life, so why not let it be the soundtrack to your sexy time? We have trawled through thousands of punk rock songs to bring you this carefully curated list of bedroom bangers.

We have tried to ensure there’s something here for everyone: from the light-hearted bonkers, to the hardcore heavy-weights, even covering couples who just can’t stop arguing. Don’t worry if Cupid hasn’t sought you with his arrow this year. I am sure these tunes will make an equally suitable soundtrack to your tearful, lonely masturbation, if you’re willing to pause the James Blunt.

In the interest of honesty, I have not personally road-tested (duvet-tested?) these tunes. I have had some memorable experiences to the likes of Pendulum, Papa Roach and Tenacious D over the years, but I’m not normally one to put on my mate’s DIY band while I’m tearing my clothes off. Please do give these a try and give us a blow-by-blow account of your experiences in the comments section.

The Offspring – Self Esteem

“Aaah, it’s time to relax, and you know what that means. A glass of wine, your favourite easy chair and, of course, this compact disc playing on your home stereo. So go on, indulge yourself…”

The Offspring’s aptly titled classic album Smash offers a plethora of punk songs for sending your partner into knee-trembling oblivion. Bad Habit and Killboy Powerhead would both provide a powerful and moving experience, or perhaps you’d rather invite them to Come Out And Play?

Your best bet is Self Esteem, which offers a bleak reminder that you’re being used, that you’re worthless and your partner is probably fucking all your friends. It’s okay because you like the abuse.

So, if you’ve spent Valentine’s Day staring at your phone, waiting for your someone to text you back, only for them to turn up on your doorstep late at night, drunk again and looking to score, this is the song for you. You don’t need to stick up for yourself. Embrace it. Stare deeply into your lover’s eyes, hovering just inches from their face and gently stroke their hair with the dangerous intensity of a would-be stalker. Remember, the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?

Almeida – Kinslayer

Have you ever wondered what it would like to be a drum kit in a hardcore band? Well, this is your opportunity. Keep pace with this track and you’ll get a blast beating straight through the headboard.

If you like your nights to be loud, fast and hard with some intensely technical finger-action, Almeida are the band for you. You’ll be howling like Tom West’s soaring choruses in no time. As evidenced in this video, they’ll even come hang out in your bedroom if you ask nicely enough. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To”

Top 5 Predictions For 2018

We cast our minds to the future to predict the trends in UK DIY punk for 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Warning: this article is 70% ambitious, 20% self-indulgent and 10% late. Also, trigger warning: some mention of sexual assault.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for big, sweeping generalisations. How many times have you recently heard that ‘2017 has been a great year for music’?

In 2016 the big news in the entertainment industry was the unprecedented number of celebrity deaths. Last year focussed more on the aftermath of two disappointing votes: in wake of Brexit, Trump and the disappointing UK general election I found my ever-dwindling faith in humanity diminishing further, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

The world of DIY punk was even more uplifting than usual in the context of the depressing political climate. The creativity, talent and camaraderie present in our insular music haven is what gives me hope for society as a whole, and it has flourished in response to the shitstorm around us. I think that creative growth is likely to continue in the new year, which made me consider what else might be on the horizon for 2018.

Through a process of extreme guesswork and mild narcissism, below I’ve compiled my top predictions for 2018. I would love to know whether you agree and what your predictions would be.

#5: We’ll see some weird and wacky merchandising ideas

I encountered a plethora esoteric merch in 2017: miniature vinyl, hats based on obscure in-jokes, a band-branded jars of vegan honey…. There is a tradition within DIY punk to offer something other than the mainstream, but the rise of digital formats and pay-what-you-want releases pushes bands to invent new ways of staying afloat financially.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having more band t-shirts that will actually fit in my wardrobe (I recently spent 30 minutes debating whether to organise them by genre, alphabetically or by size – suggestions welcome). Although I want to financially support small bands at every opportunity, there are only so many shirts I can handle. Patches and badges are obvious; lighters and hats aren’t uncommon; Pizzatramp and Wonk Unit have baby-grows but I don’t think they’ll fit.

Colourful vinyl variants are now standard issue, satisfying the need for a physical product to accompany an album release however, with legions of DIY bands out there vying for our attention, there’s a demand for more unusual products.

I like to think that Andy Davies of Revenge of The Psychotronic Man is ahead of the curve in terms of creative and utterly ridiculous merchandising. In 2017 they’ve brought out an EP on cassette only, created a lift-up and reveal Mr Blobby themed t-shirt (below left) and produced two lines of baseball caps based on a drinking in-joke (below right). That’s on top of their epic ‘it’s fucking booze time’ clock.

Andy’s not alone in his endeavours. In 2014 Darko included ‘essential’ beard oil in some US releases of Sea of Trees, although I’m still waiting to be sold a Bonsai Mammoth plant. In 2015 Random Hand proved that punks love mugs, and yet I haven’t seen a DIY band selling mugs since (Mug are seriously missing a trick on that one).

Some things will be cost prohibitive but we can dream big. Matilda’s Scoundrels branded inflatable dinghy, for all your crowd-sailing needs? A plastic bobble-head version of Faintest Idea’s trombonist, Robin ‘Bobble’ Smith? Grand Collapse could have the monopoly on Jenga knock-offs. On the other hand, perhaps bands like Shit Present should stick to t-shirts… Continue reading “Top 5 Predictions For 2018”

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

Descendents 2

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 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

Wotsit Called Fest.jpg

2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

Wonkfest.jpg

At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”