Archive for October, 2016

Interview: Greig, Kimberly Steaks

Posted: October 25, 2016 in Small Talk

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Kimberly Steaks are an exciting, high-energy, catchy-as-hell punk rock band from Scotland, who have a clear ‘90s Lookout influence. After a full-length and an incredible 7” (Chemical Imbalance), they recently released as split 7” with Dead Bars for the All in Vinyl record series. I chatted with Greig, lead singer of the ‘Steaks…

Hello, Kimberly Steaks! You have just released a split 7” with Seattle band Dead Bars, as part of the All in Vinyl record series. How did that come about?

Hello, Keep Track of the Time! All in Vinyl have been one of our favourite UK labels for years, and were nice enough to put out our album even though not many people had heard of us. Their split 7” series are always great, especially in introducing people to bands that they might not check out otherwise, so when they asked us to be a part of the third series we instantly agreed.

 It’s a cool idea to pair bands up from different sides of the Atlantic for the series. Did All in Vinyl do the pairing themselves, or did you have any control over who the other band would be on your split 7”?

All in Vinyl did the pairing. At the time we hadn’t heard of Dead Bars, but when Dave (AIV) told us they had members of Big Eyes we were sold! Their side of the record is great. Both bands are quite different sounding but I think it works.

So, what are the plans in the near future for The Kimberly Steaks? Any further 7”s or possibly an album in the pipeline?

We’re writing a new album at the moment. Everything takes a while for us because we’re all busy with work and uni, plus Ross is a dad now so we can’t really practice a whole lot. We’re hoping to demo most, if not all of the new songs at the end of the year and record it sometime in 2017. It’s going to be a bit different from the last one, louder with more of a live sound to it. We’ve played a few of the songs live and people seem to really like them which is encouraging!

How has touring been this year for you guys?

We’ve not done a whole lot this year, but what we’ve done has been great. Manchester Punk Festival back in April was a highlight, we played a tiny sweaty club after the main stage finished and it was full to capacity, those kinds of gigs are always the best. We did a two-week UK tour last month which was also great fun. We did a lot of touristy stuff during the day like exploring caves and castles, and went down a big pit in Wales which was amazing.

So, taking a step back, how and when did the band form?

The band actually started around 2005, but sounded very different than it does today. It’s probably for the best that we didn’t record much back then, because we sounded like a really bad Screeching Weasel cover band. We called it quits around 2007 after self-releasing our first EP, ‘Big in Dundee’ (which you can still find online if you feel so inclined, just don’t expect too much). When we reformed in 2012, it was essentially a different band but regrettably, we decided to keep the same stupid name.

 I’m interested, where does the band’s name come from?

We get asked that a lot. It’s a terrible name and the story behind it is equally as bad. It was on a camping trip in the north of Scotland and someone claimed to have a girlfriend but wouldn’t tell anyone her name. The closest thing to hand was a packet of steak & onion crisps, so our drummer Graeme’s younger brother concluded that her name was Kimberly Steak. Makes perfect sense, I’m sure you’ll agree. At the very least, we’ll never need to worry about anyone with the same band name trying to sue us.

What are your musical influences as a band? I hear a lot of 90s Lookout in the Kimberly Steaks sound.

We get the Lookout comparison a lot, especially in gig listings that describe us as some variation of “The Scottish Green Day”. We all love old Green Day so we just embrace it. As a band, the music is probably most influenced by bands like The Mr T Experience, Smoking Popes, Sicko and The Queers. We all listen to a lot of different music but simple fast pop-punk is by far the most fun to play.

How do you think that the band’s sound has changed, from the ‘To Live and Die…’ LP to this split 7” you have recently put out?

Hopefully it hasn’t changed too much. We always focus on having a good vocal melody, some nice harmonies and keeping it short and to the point. The lyrics on the album all centred around life in a small town, but there’s only so much you can write about watching TV and drinking too much. Writing lyrics is by far the hardest part of our songwriting process, and having a theme makes it a bit easier, but there isn’t much space on one side of a 7”. The newer stuff is more about dealing with being an adult (or trying and failing to do so). We’ll see how that develops for the next album.

A bit more broadly, can you describe the state of the Scottish punk scene at the moment? From what I can gather, it seems like there’s something great going on there right now.

The punk scene in Scotland is really strong right now, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. A lot of people like Boab (of No One Knows Records), Deeker (Make That A Take Records), Fraser Murderburger and far too many more to name, have put in a lot of work in promoting gigs, putting out records and getting great bands to play in Scotland. This year marks the 10th Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee, which has grown every year since its inception and attracts bands and punters from all over the world. It definitely helps that there are so many great bands in Scotland right now too. Long may it continue!!

Check out the new Kimberly Steaks 7″ here: https://thekimberlysteaks.bandcamp.com/album/all-in-vinyl-single-series

DB

I love how difficult it is to properly pin down the Murderburgers sound. They are clearly and evidently pop punk with a capital P, but, at the same time, they totally have their own sound and way of doing things. Pop-punk is my genre (oh hello, this blog!), but even I can say that 95% of the genre is re-played or re-constituted (and most of that is probably stuff I enjoy). This 95% (I’m maybe being kind with the percentages) are either going through the motions or can easily be filed away (hello, song reference!). I dunno, I enjoy it, but it’s predictable; it’s disposable. It can be shelved under Ramonescore, Queers-core, Weasel-core, or whatever, but I love that The Murderburgers can’t be. There is clearly a classic underground ‘90s+’00s pop-punk influence running right through their sound, but it’s not pin down-able. There are some Weasel melodies, Ramones down-stroking, some Copyrights group vocals, some Houseboat misanthropy and some Dear Landlord-y lyrics. But also, not really. This is not a pop-punk recipe; these influences are running in the background, where this is overwhelmingly a Murderburgers album.

So, yeah, Dear Landlord. Fraser Murderburger has recorded 12 Habits in the US with Zach (lead vocalist from Dear Landlord), plus Intruder Yellow and Red from Masked Intruder and Adam Fletcher from The Copyrights. And it does show. The backing vocals and instrumentation is way slicker (which is probably partly down to the production values of Matt Allison) than anything previously heard by The Murderburgers. The guitars are crunchier, the vocals clearer and the melodies earworm-y. 12 Habits is catchy as fuck, the hooks are ubiquitous, but it is also fast-paced and intense. Some of the later songs, in particular, like “Lung Capacity” and “She’ll be Filed Away”, are relentless in their pace and intensity. Others are more composed and allow the vocals room to breathe (see the wonderful “December Ruined Everything”). Stylistically, this album takes the baton from the last album These Are Only Problems, runs with it and turns everything to max. In some ways, they are the same band as on How to Ruin Your Life; in others, they are pretty fucking different. Melodically more interesting; lyrically, more coherent: 12 Songs is a proper album, the kind they are saying bands don’t make any more.

Depression and anxiety are dealt with on 12 Habits, as have been on previous ‘Burgers releases, but now much coherently and brutally. From the moment, Fraser sings, “Another night of fight or flight mode/ Led me to the waterfront in Glasgow/ Sympathetic police found me there in tears/ And confiscated all my beers” on the catchy-as-fuck opener “Now That You’re Not at #21”, Fraser’s mental health is described with an articulation, depth and detail rarely heard in pop-punk. I guess 12 Habits is about a number of things, but for me, the thing that sticks everything together is not being able to let go of bad memories, of having flashbacks of past fuck-ups. This is best represented on album highlight “I Used to Hate That Life”:

“On a regular basis I seem to find that things I thought I’d left behind
Still stop me from getting out of bed in the morning
And keep me lying here until the sunlight disappears
Then all that’s left for me to do is start counting
Every single spring that digs into my spine and ribs
Until I give up because I’m too exhausted
Then turn the TV on, set the volume to 6 then turn and face the wall
And pretend that none of this bothers me at all”

When the back-up melodies for that last bit comes in, you can certainly hear the Masked Intruder influence. It is fucking beautiful. I guess the idea of burying yourself into TV to hide from your problems is not a new one (everyone has had a go, from Descendents to Green Day to Colleen Green), but the feeling is so euphoric in that moment. “Opium Bombs All Round” is probably the most straightforward Ramones-y  The ‘Burgers get on the album with those opening chords, before it morphs into a more ‘90s Descendents-y tune and then gives us the most pop-punk lyric of the year: “And that I’ve got it to thank/ As much as I’ve got it to blame/ For having enough band t-shirts to last me a lifetime/ But no money to get through the week”. 12 Habits gets a little bit Dream Homes at moments I guess (particularly on “She’ll Be Filed Away”, where structural as well as psychological barriers are touched upon), but overall, I would say that the album veers more towards more Banner Pilot, at least lyrically. The tales recalled here are of almosts, of fuck-ups, of romantic failure, of being within a finger’s touch of happiness before the cold of reality pulls you back into the bleak darkness. The winter is contrasted with summer, December with the Spring. That is pretty Banner Pilot, to me. Thematically, it may be like that, but stylistically, it is totally put through the ‘Burger filter: “But until that day, I know I’ll always be your pair of broken headphones on your loneliest ride home/And you’ll always be that song about a fresh start for which I can’t seem to write the ending.” (“December Ruined Everything”).

Oh, and then there’s “The Waves”. This is the song that The Murderburgers released months ago in anticipation of 12 Songs being released. As soon as I heard it, I was totally pulled in. It is one of the best pop-punk songs in recent years. I am not being melodramatic when I say it’s life-affirming stuff. Dripping with emotion, despair and hope simultaneously. I guess it is this feeling that reminds me of the romantic stylings of Banner Pilot. This is not just ‘my life is shit’ pop-punk. Well, it is; but there are also lines which put shit into perspective and offer some hope: “And I’ll appreciate the small amount of time that you decided to spend with me, instead of learning to hate you so that I can get this over with quickly” (This is a link back to the song from How to Ruin Your Life, “Learning to Hate You”, if you didn’t know). I love that second part to “December Ruined Everything”. It half-reads like the Lawrence Arms’ “100 Resolutions”, in that it is Fraser’s list of shit to do, that he may not be able to, but it’s also a rather mature acceptance of past fuck-ups that is all too hard to do. It reminds me of the recent Unlovables song “Worthwhile”, which recalls tales of a love not meant to last “still being worthwhile”. Final track “My Staple Diet of Rice, Vitamins and Painkillers” offers some hope alongside the despair, too, where perhaps the best we have is “trying not to think about nooses”, “trying not to think about chairs”, “trying to find time in between”. It is trying to live, in spite of everyone. I dunno, this album is essentially pop-punk perfection. I could talk about it for hours. A modern punk masterpiece to go alongside Dorkrockcockrod, Dream Homes and Collapser. To think a fairly bog-standard Ramonescore band morphed into this. Right, time to buy that band t-shirt I definitely cannot afford….Dear Christ to be born for this!

Listen here: https://themurderburgers.bandcamp.com/album/the-12-habits-of-highly-defective-people

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So, there I was at the O2 Academy in Islington. The same venue I saw Lagwagon in 2012. A rock music venue at a shopping mall. I had just eaten a Burrito at the fast food joint down the street that sold Mexican food. I guess I had mixed feelings about this concert. When I was 14, I used to think the Dead Kennedys were the ultimate poser band, the band it was cool to like if you wanted to be punk, but that actually wasn’t that good. Now later, I’ve learned to love a lot of their discography, especially their debut Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Jello Biafra’s sarcastic voice and lyrics grew on me as I got older and I also started to get more into the guitar sound as well. Still I’m not a big fan of the band. I also know that they have a new singer now. For a while, Jeff Penalty, writer of the NOFX book The Hepatitis Bathtub, took Biafra’s job. However, now the singer in the band is Ron “Skip” Greer, I was kind of worried the band would be like custard, somewhat good on its own, but pointless without Jello.

It’s safe to say I was pleasantly surprised. They played all the classics and every song you’d expect them to play, and most of the set existed of Fresh Fruit songs. During the last song, “Holiday in Cambodia” you could hear the entire crowd yell “Pol Pot!” as loud as they could. It’s one of the rare occasions you can do that without it being a bit scary. They also played probably my favorite DK song; “Moon over Marin” and they played it good: the New Wave moment of the show, if you like. Skip was a surprisingly great front man and he kept on egging on the audience, calling American football the real “football” and Soccer a game you would go to after ballet lessons, he also mentioned Brexit and several other somewhat controversial subjects and his egging definitely worked.  There was a great dynamic between him and the audience. It became an almost Americans vs the British battle and I was the Norwegian in the middle enjoying the fuck out of it, but thinking, “ouch, what’s gonna happen now?” at the same time. Another highlight of the show was the re-write of “MTV Get off the Air” called “MP3 Get off the Web”- hey, these guys are also modern!

The band functioned well as a whole, the bass and drums worked well together and East Bay Ray and his checkered belt (it looked a lot like mine!) and signature surfy sound brought the licks! Drummer D.H Peligro had a great speech about the Brixton riots and equality. Let’s also not forget that they played a Taylor Swift cover! (“Shake It Off”). And that was the night I learned that it’s pronounced “Ease-lington” instead of “Isle-Ington”. I thought it was an awesome show!

RH

Blending equal parts grunge, shoegaze, indie rock, and pop punk, the Leeds-based duo Kamikaze Girls pumps out five tracks (six with the bonus track) of brilliant music. Power chords create a wall of guitar, with plenty of fuzz giving it a shoegaze feel. But the brisker tempo and more aggressive air give it a harder punkier edge. The melodies, though, through it all, are pretty and more intricate than the guitars would have you think. The EP opens with “Hexes,” a track that begins with eerie reverb drenched guitar noises before it explodes with dark intensity and then resolving into a rockin’ tune filled with grunge guitars, insistent vocals, and a pretty melody trying to push out through the noise. Three quarters of the way through, it becomes a different song, albeit briefly, with dreamy jangle, before returning to the noisy grunge pop. “Stiches” is next, and it rivals the best indie pop tracks of the 90s, with the same sort of bouncy melody, including some great harmonized vocals, but still with those fuzzed out noisy guitars. Gorgeous. “I Hate Funerals” has an appropriately dirge-like feel, while “Ladyfuzz” goes back to that indie-pop fuzz-grunge sound that’s so effective. And “Black Coffee” has two separate, wonderfully retro post-punk feels. There’s the dark early 80s post-punk sound and the 90s Jawbox-like sound when the chorus opens things up. And that bonus track? It actually reminds me a lot of Beach Slang, but a bit darker. It’s got the same sort of hard edged yet flowing character to it. I really like this EP.

Check it out: https://kamikazegirls.bandcamp.com/album/sad

PS

Absolutely gorgeous. That’s the first thought that ran through mind upon the first of several listens to this, the fourth full-length album from the Cleveland outfit. Every song drips with feeling. Every song exudes passion. Some of the songs have plenty of modern emotional pop punk sounds, like “You’re Gonna Be Golden,” which opens the album, or “Autumn Breaks,” about 2/3 of the way through, which reminds me a lot of the late, great French Exit. But it’s the songs that are maybe slower or quieter, or more complex that really attract my attention. Many of the songs border on indie pop, and some have some great guitar interplay and interesting melodic lines. “Should Have Been A Painter” is a great example of this. “At This Age” is a slower track that has a lush sound, with deep, beautiful guitars. And the lonely sound of the opening of  “Alchemy Hour” is amazing. “Spillover” is just a plain great pop tune that sounds like it could be a rearrangement of a classic tune from the 60s, with hints of The Beatles in the main melody. And best of all is the closer, “Song for Ana,” which alternates between a quiet, delicate song and epic power. There are so many layers in this music, and with every listen I’m discovering new nuances that amaze.

Check it out: https://signalsmidwest.bandcamp.com/releases

Review: The Ocean Front- S/T (EP)

Posted: October 22, 2016 in Reviews

Pop punk from Budapest? You bet! A couple of decades on from the end of the cold war and the fall of the Iron Curtain, we’re getting some awesome cultural mixing. The Ocean Front are a four piece from Hungary playing some great melodic pop punk that rivals some of the best from the West. Of the four tracks on the all too short EP, I think the first is my favorite. “Change Your Mind” is a classic, bouncy pop punk track, with Ramones-like guitar crunch and some pretty decent hooks. “This Deadweight” is more of a skate-punk track, with a darker and more aggressive feel, with a pretty strong Epitaph Records sort of sound. “Off” is another favorite track, with a sound that’s a little more introspective, blending a little bit of indie pop into the punk mix, without losing any of the aggressive edge. The EP is closed out with “Spontaneity,” a track that has elements of early Offspring in the sound. Vocals are pretty strong throughout, and though the tracks all share a similar basic sound, the energy and power of these four tracks is pretty exhilarating.

Check it out: https://theoceanfront.bandcamp.com/

PS

Five years on from its original release, The Decline has reissued their second full length LP, chock full of fast’n’loud melodic skate punk. And it’s just as good the second time around. The music is played at a frenetic pace, with influences from Bad Religion and 90s Fat Wreck Chords styles, and even metallic bits here and there. This is skate punk with a vengeance! The album opens with “Crash Course In Emotional English,” though it’s also a crash course in Perth, Australia’s punk heroes. It’s an introduction to skate punk, and an introduction to how fast controlled chaos in music can be the secret sauce to make something great. The pace never lets up throughout the dozen tracks – well, except for the penultimate “2006,” which is a pretty little track with acoustic guitar, violin, and vocals. In fact, on tracks like “66b” it just gets faster and more intense. I love the melodic lines in “Rooftops,” which is sung in straight time, with the rhythm section and guitars playing in a rapid-fire double time. “Excuse Me” is a particularly intense track, too, with some great guttural bass and some intense vocalization, particularly at the end of the song. And I love “The Financial Equivalent of a Complete Rectal,” which is not only super fast and crunchy, but bouncy as hell. Bottom line? Here’s the thing. I’m not a big fan of skate punk. It’s too slick and sometimes too metallic for my tastes. But, dammit, I really like The Decline. The tracks are skate punk, sure, but they’re expertly done, and they’re so fast and crunchy, how can you not like this?

Check it out: https://peerecords.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-gonna-eat-that

PS

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So, this was the ‘fireball’ tour. It was sponsored by fireball, which is apparently a kind of American whisky. I must say I had never heard of it before the gig. Although it was a sponsored tour, the fireball advertising wasn’t overkill, despite some ‘m ock marketing’ by Less Than Jake during their set (but that was mainly just an excuse to get some fans up on stage and dance). That 5 bands played for just £10 was pretty great, anyway. However, I must start this review by confessing that I actually missed the first band (blame British trains; this wouldn’t happen anywhere else in Europe), but apparently they were a Welsh pop-punk/pop-rock band called AMFX, who got onto part of the tour as competition winners. I have listened to the songs on their bandcamp a little bit (ok, once). They sound like an over-produced Motion City Soundtrack. End of review. Ok, time to move onto the bands I saw…

Right, so onto the second band of the night- Japanese ska-punk legends Kemuri…who I had never heard of before. Apparently, they formed in California in like 1995, but since re-forming, are now based in Tokyo. They are known for their Bad Brains-inspired PMA (positive mental attitude). Their set was pretty good. Fast-paced, energetic and catchy ska-punk; in the same ball-park as LTJ, but they have their own thing going on, too. Some songs are in Japanese and then some are in English. I’m just surprised that despite going a little bit of a ska-punk phase a few years back that I haven’t heard Kemuri before, especially since Roger from LTJ claimed that they were “bigger than Bieber in Japan”. Will be checking out their recorded stuff now!

The Skints were next up. The Skints are a ska-reggae band from London, who integrate soul elements into their sound. I like that they take influence from a number of different genres. There is no explicit ‘punk’ element to their sound, but they are more punk and  DIY in spirit. They definitely hark back to the 2 tone era and The Specials influence is clear. So much so, that I keep thinking that they are actually from Birmingham or Coventry, but then I hear them speak! They played the well-known stuff, like “This Town” and “Rat-a-tat”, and the crowd was definitely into it. Some real dancing contests going on. Their sound does become a little repetitive though and I certainly drifted off towards the end of the set. The lack of obvious hooks or melody is an issue, but overall, I still enjoyed it.

Band number four: Mariachi El Bronx. If you don’t know, this is the mariachi side project of punk band The Bronx. It is all the same band members as The Bronx; it is essentially The Bronx’s Mexican-inspired alter-ego. I have seen them live once before, when they supported, um, The Bronx. A few years back, the band did a tour where they played a mariachi set as Mariachi El Bronx, before going off stage, getting changed and then coming back on and playing a ferocious, intense punk set as The Bronx. It was pretty cool. I saw that in a small side room of a club, so this set by Mariachi El Bronx didn’t have the same intense, personal feeling as before, but it was still a ton of fun. The mariachi thing is a kind of ‘schtick’ I guess, but it’s fun, catchy and brings a smile to your face, so whatever. If you’re in need of cheering up, I would definitely recommending seeing this lot live.

mariachi

So, onto the main event: the imperious Less Than Jake. I was super excited to see them. One of my all-time favourite bands. A little like Ramones or NOFX, I don’t actually listen to them so much these days, but they remain what I consider to be one of my ‘classic’ bands. So, yes, I was pretty pumped for this and Less Than Jake met or even exceeded my already high expectations. It was an absolute classic set, filled with all the ‘hits’: “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, “All My Best Friends…”, “Look What Happened”, “The History of a Boring Town”. I don’t think they missed out a song I really wanted to hear live. 90% of the set was basically comprised of Losing Streak and Hello Rockview, which was incredible. That is where their best stuff is to be found, something Roger from LTJ acknowledged on stage. He basically admitted that their best material was their early stuff and that because of this, they form their set around tracks from that era. Unlike some bands, they don’t feel pressure to focus on their more recent material. LTJ used Green Day as an example of a band who have distanced themselves from their earlier songs!

LTJ were super-energetic, fun and didn’t mess about too much between songs. The sound was amazing for their set; I haven’t really noticed that before about this venue, but the guitars were crunchy and the vocals clear. They started their encore with just the singer acoustically playing “Rest of my Life”, before the full band came on during the second verse, which was pretty perfect. I’m not even a huge fan of the song, but done this way, it was fantastic. This was followed by: “All my best friends…” and “Look What Happened”. A perfect end to a perfect set.

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DB

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So, something new for the reviews section: I review The Unlovables side of the ‘Reunion Show’ split and Read Hard reviews the Dirt Bike Annie side:

The Unlovables side

The Unlovables, like The Ergs!, were a short-lived, seminal band that came out of the hit-filled, mid-00s New York pop-punk scene. They made two fantastic records, one of which (Crushboyfriendheartbreak) I would rank in my favourite ten pop-punk albums ever. Almost ten years post-Heartsickle, The Unlovables returned and released a new split EP with Dirt Bike Annie. Comebacks are always shit, right? If they are not cash grabs, they are dull affairs, with the band losing that original spark and energy that made them so good in the first place? Nope, not in this case. This is The Unlovables on top of their game, basically as good as they ever been, but they have also progressed and aren’t just churning out CBH vol. 2. This EP is the rare sound of a band capturing what made them so good in the first place, years after their last release, while simultaneously avoiding producing a carbon copy of their ‘classics’.

So yes: the woah-ohs are here, the back-up harmonies are here, the hook-filled choruses are here, the idealistic love-lorn lyrics are here. Check, check, check and check. However, akin to Mikey Erg’s first full-length, which came out earlier this year, The Unlovables perspective on life has changed somewhat. Ostensibly, this is a reflection on more youthful years, on the hopes and dreams that came with being in one’s early 20s, from someone in their 30s, now much more ‘adult’. Except they are not really any more ‘adult’ in spirit now, in spite of societal pressures and norms. The Unlovables are recalling the feelings of their youth, but this is no nostalgia fest. Instead, it is asked: if then, why not now?

Just take “1996”, probably the highlight of the album, a perky, hook-filled head-rush, with a hell of a chorus: “My heart stopped when they played that song/ Do you feel that too, god it’s been so long/ You make me feel like 1996”. The feelings felt back then can still be felt now; you just need to look in the right places, with the right people. Those youthful rushes are dormant, not dead: “It’s been years since the night or a band/ Or simply holding hands/ Made me feel like l could burst apart and die/ Now I’m feelin’ the way I did then/ Yeah I’m reeling again”. “Worthwhile”, with pop-punk-y melodies for the ages, is probably The Unlovables most ‘mature’ number; but in this world, mature does not necessarily mean cynical, despite evidence to the contrary in much of the punk scene. This is essentially the polar opposite to CBH’s album closer “Inconsolable”: an acceptance that good things can come to pass, but that we should recall the ‘good’ rather than the ‘passing’ itself. I don’t know if I have read lyrics like these before in the pop-punk world: “I hope you keep these feelings wrapped around you/ Like winter layers to warm you when it’s colder”. It is refreshing and timeless; this is not cynical, nor is it patronising; it is heart-felt pop-punk, without being ‘emo’.

The time passes, but youthful optimism and maturity are not mutually exclusive. The Unlovables accept what life throws at them, while not giving up any ounce of hope in finding the ‘one’. This is not naïve; this is keeping your hopes and dreams intact, as concluded on the fast-paced “2nd Date”: “And we don’t need to remember what we did that night/ Just that we knew something was true/ Something was real and right/ Just that we felt asteroid belt-bound up into the sky/Eyes seeing stars kissing in bars/ Falling in love for life”. Lets hope this EP is not a one-off: the cream of the mid-00s pop-punk resurgence is on fire.

DB

Dirt Bike Annie Side

Dirt Bike Annie was a band I got into quite late, but Hit the Rock was an album I started to love a lot. I’ve almost played that album to death so to me it’s interesting to see that they have released something new (even if it’s been a while since it was released) and I definitely like their side of this split. Their side starts up with “Saludos a Todos”: it begins as a classic Dirt Bike Annie song, but turns more modern pop punk (the good modern pop punk) as it goes on, and to me it could almost be a Jabber song. “Ambitious Heart” sounds more like a British late 70’s Punk song and that usually isn’t a bad thing. It is a great song as well, the production is perfect with some of it sounding clean, but a little dirty at the same time. “Spent the Night alone” is also quite standard Dirt Bike Annie, but slower than usual and the harmonies are wonderful! To me “Chick a Walk” is the “Grape Crush” of the split, I hear a British influence here as well. If anything, it sounds a bit like the Cute Lepers to me. Even if, the last song; “Cynical” is acoustic it is to me the song that sounds most like the Hit the Rock. It’s simply a beautiful song that takes more of an Indie Rock route than a Pop Punk one.  It is way better than the Blink-182 song with the same name. To me, the lyrics on their side aren’t very memorable on first listens, but the melodies definitely are! This is a great comeback overall!

RH

Listen here: http://www.whoaohrecords.com/music/dba_unlov_reunion.html

Review: Wonk Unit- Mr. Splashy (TNS)

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Reviews

I was very excited to hear this release. Apparently, Wonk Unit has been a band for quite some time and even though they are old-timers, the music is fresh! At first, they reminded me of the Zatopeks and Gordon Gano’s Army, but I guess if I were to compare them to another band, it’d be Snuff. The music is quite diverse, from the acoustic “And You Call This Normal” to the great short punk tribute to John Irving’s character “Owen Meany” to the slightly Dead Kennedys sounding opener “Awful Jeans” (that is simply about embarrassing your family with your awful jeans!) to “Model on the Northern Line” that sounds more like the Pixies than anything. It’s lyrically diverse as well, and they sing about anything from Old men to “Old Trains”. The album is as British as it gets and so are the lyrical themes. They rhyme “Pizza” with “Geezer” for fuck’s sake, and this geezer has a bird! They sing about spoiled fashion models on the tube and cups of tea and propaganda for breakfast and throwing in a couple of “Bollocks” every now and then (in the last song, “We Are The England”). Still my favorite song on the album is the one where they sing in French. “Je m’appelle Alex” is a fucking great tune. It seems like Wonk Unit is just as much of a music collective as it is a band. Quite a few of the song, like Snuff, have horns, strings, and other instruments that makes the song sound whole and interesting. They sound just as good with strings and several other instruments as they do as a four piece with no strings attached. They are one of those bands where every instrument matters. I recommend this to everyone who loves punk rock with that ol’ British charm and to Punk fans or music fans in general. Awesome record!

Listen here: https://wonk-unit.bandcamp.com/album/mr-splashy