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 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

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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

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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”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In December

Skip your boring work Christmas party and get yourself down to one of these noisy nights out instead.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Christmas is coming. For many of us, December is a time of tradition, consumerism and excessive alcohol consumption. If you survive the guantlet of the office Christmas party (advice: don’t get off with anyone’s boss, especially not your own) then you still get to face the awkward questions from relatives you’ve not seen since last year. “What happened to that nice boyfriend?” Oh, the one that cheated on me three months ago? “Are you still doing that… ‘job’?” Yes, Gran, I’m still a world class fuck-up, thank you for asking.

As one of the busiest and most expensive times of year, gigs can sometimes take a back-seat. There’s no need for that as there’s plenty going on and, let’s face it, a room full of loud noises is a lot more fun than playing Cluedo with your in-laws. We’ve got all your Christmas and New Years treat wrapped up for you:

Gig Of The Month: Umlaut Records Christmas Party

  • When: December 16th
  • Where: New Cross Inn, London
  • Who: Consumed, Spoilers, Müg, No Matter, Ships Down, Launch Control, Our Lives In Cinema, Shark Party and Tape It Shut
  • Tickets HERE, Facebook event HERE

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This is such a banger. Scrap your stupid work Christmas party and all the other invites you’ve had (this is literally the busiest night of the whole month for me – there are 10+ gigs to choose from) and get your arse down to the New Cross Inn.

Consumed are legendary in the UK punk scene, having pioneered the British late 90s/early 00s skate-punk sound. They even reached the fabled heights of the Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 soundtrack. There are few bands in England that I ever get more excited about seeing, so Christmas is genuinely coming early for me with this booking.

The rest of the line up is all fast, melodic and awesome. Britain’s catchiest punks, Spoilers are on before Consumed, so get your singing voices ready. Umlaut label bosses Müg are also, in my opinion, one of the most underrated bands in London right now – plenty to rock out to. No Matter are trekking over from Ireland to give us some super-catchy pop punk. Ships Down are one of the best punk rock acts I’ve seen in 2017; they take cues from bands like Belvedere/Rise Against. Keep your ears open for Launch Control‘s Christmas song (I assume they’re doing one this year). Our Lives In Cinema are what you get if you chuck Alkaline Trio and Jeff Rosenstock in a musical blender, well worth getting down earlier for. Before them, catch Shark Party and Tape It Shut. What’s not to like?

Enjoy one of my All Time Top 5 Best Punk Songs Ever:

Anarchistic Undertones: New Years Eve Party

  • When: December 31st
  • Where: Gullivers, Manchester
  • Who: Stand Out Riot, Riggots, Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, plus more.
  • Facebook event HERE

New Year’s Eve is a consistently crashing disappointment, so I aim to keep my expectations as low as possible at all times. This gig represents a glimmer of hope in the mire of plastic champagne flutes and overpriced entry fees (seriously, one NYE I was charged £10 to get into a pub where I lived and worked). While I’m keen to maintain a cynical facade at all times, this is pretty fucking exciting!

Ska-punk heroes Stand Out Riot are reforming for this one-off show – it’s their first gig since MPF 2015. Revenge of The Psychotronic Man will no doubt play as fast as phsycially possible, hurtling you into 2018 at full speed. You can also look forward to  having spit, guitars and dischordant noises hurled at you by Riggots. If that’s not enough, there’s Wadeye, Habits and The Mighty Bossmags. Grab a ticket before they sell out – otherwise you’re going to be stuck in a shitty overpriced bar, or wanking alone on your sofa to the hollow charm of Jools Holland. Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In December”

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)”

EP Review: Sombulance – Lifer

The new release from South Coast skate-punks Sombulance is a lesson in creativity and precision. FFO: A Wilhelm Scream, Darko and Propagandhi.

Sombulance have that exciting new-favourite-band quality that traps your heart in your throat when you first stumble across it. Based in Southsea, this quintet are yet more proof that the finest melodic hardcore in the UK originates from the South Coast. They’ve been together since 2005 and released a full album back in 2010, so they’re hardly a ‘new’ band, but they’ve recently reassembled and refreshed their line-up so it feels like a new start. Since catching their explosive set at Manchester Punk Festival in 2016, I’ve been eager to hear more from them, and I was lucky enough to catch them slaying the Beach Stage at Punk Rock Holiday – one of my highlights of the week.

Lifer was released at the beginning of August, just in time for PRH and live shows with Pears and Darko. Sombulance play especially melodic skate-punk, underpinned by themes of regret and redemption. Expect 18 minutes of intricate, thoughtful composition, technical guitar and memorable song-writing. Sharing their new drummer, Marc Morey, with progressive thrash virtuosos, Almeida, the EP is also blessed with fast-paced, creative percussion. Lifer is an big advancement on their 2010 album A Cynic’s Response, particularly in terms of production quality.

The EP opens with The Articulation of Afterthoughts, a bittersweet and reflective love song with some of the most heart-wrenching lyrics on the record, “When she comes around the world seems a little brighter, and when she takes control my shoulders become lighter… When explanations fail to make you see what’s true, I am alone, I’m here with you.” In terms of composition, this is one of the most accomplished tracks on the album, coaxing the listener through a dynamic story that adeptly blends lyrics and melody. The elaborate layers of guitar sound like a waterfall rushing by, blending in delicate, brighter tones in the middle. Ant Harrison and Will Pearce’s dual guitars flow with force and beauty through all 6 tracks, giving Sombulance their unique edge.

The coda slides nicely into Lessons Lost, which is a heavier but punctuated by livelier, brighter drum lines. Throughout the all 6 songs, there’s not a single bar without layers of imaginative nuances that really hold your attention. The attention to detail in their composition is impressive, each listen piquing a new interest. Continue reading “EP Review: Sombulance – Lifer”