Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Image result for Dan goatham lost your way bandcamp

Dan Goatham is lead singer and guitarist in UK punk band Spoilers, who released the fantastic ‘Stay Afloat’ EP a couple of years ago. On the ‘Lost Your Way’ EP, Dan blasts his way through stripped back, acoustic versions of three Spoilers songs. It’s just Dan and a guitar basically. I often see acoustic versions of songs as the acid test for a band. By stripping everything back to pure singing and acoustic strumming, the songwriting can be put under the spotlight and be truly tested. It is a test which Dan easily passes. These are three fantastic raw, punk songs sang Billy Bragg style (right down to the Southern English accent). “Lost Your Way” and “Stay Afloat” are reasonably mellow, heart-on-sleeve, tender acoustic musings, but it is the fun-as-hell “Punks Don’t Die” which stands out here. It celebrates staying in the punk scene for the long-term (until dying, basically). The track is driven, energetic and a sure sing-a-king, especially with its background gang vocals, shouting out “punks don’t die!). I am interested to see where Dan will go from here: if he will continue to release acoustic versions of Spoilers songs, or if he will start to write songs specifically for the purposes of his solo acoustic work. Either way: I’m in!

Check it out:

DB

Yeah, so that was 2016. A total and utter shitfest. BUT there was a ton of excellent punk rock music to cheer yourself up with, the best of which is detailed below. I’ve given my top ten (and more) below, followed by Read Hard’s list. Between us both we have also compiled a playlist of our favourite songs of 2016. You can listen here:

Peace and love, y’all. See you on the other side.

Dave’s Top Ten of 2016

  1. The Murderburgers- The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People (Asian Man/Round Dog)

There have been a ton of great albums this year, but this was always going to be my number one. The 12 Habits…is a blistering, intense pop-punk album dripping with emotion and passion, yet also catchy as shit. As soon as I heard “The Waves”, I knew something special was going to be released, but to sustain such a high level over 12 songs is a fantastic effort. It is just hit after Goddamn hit. The intense, personal nature of songs like “I Used to Hate That Life” and “Opium Bombs All Around” will stay with you; this is a pop-punk album for the ages. I guess that I can best compare it to Dream Homes, with Dear Landlord the former masters of doing this kind of bleak, ‘low-lives’ pop-punk (and yes, Zach Landlord is present on the album). However, alongside that grimness, The Murderburger tap into hope and a yearning to improving oneself that Banner Pilot have often done themselves over the last few years: a chink of light in the grey, resolutions without solutions.

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

  1. Martha- Blisters in the Pit of my Heart (Dirtnap)

Power-pop/pop-punk bliss on Martha’s second full-length. Right from that first EP, I always knew Martha was a band with an ear for a melody, but, blimey, the song-writing and musicianship has stepped up so much from them. Blisters in the Pit of My Heart is a record with a pop core, where the hooks are the number one priority. Listen to the lush, ear-worm-y hits, “Chekhov’s Hangnail”, “Ice Cream and Sunscreen” and “Goldman’s Detective Agency” if you don’t believe me. Really, I could pick any track. Blisters is essentially a record about being an anxious twenty-something from a small town in Northern England, dealing with equal parts hope and despair. There are so many good lyrics on here, with some of the best coming on the super-upbeat and catchy “Precarious (The Supermarket Song)”, which kind of sums up the overall tone of Blisters: “I’m a person, you’re a person, nothing else is really certain”.

Listen here: https://marthadiy.bandcamp.com/album/blisters-in-the-pit-of-my-heart

  1. Joyce Manor- Cody (Epitaph)

Talking about a band who went to the next level of what I thought they were capable of, holy shit, Joyce Manor! I mean Never Hungover Again was a very good record indeed, but Cody is a Goddamn masterpiece. I had this album basically on repeat for about 3 months and it is still not getting old. It is not a ‘traditional’ one, but Cody is still basically at its core, a pop-punk record. There are also doses of ‘90s, Weezer-esque indie rock elements in there (See: “Last You Heard of Me”), and, I know that Joyce Manor has been lumped in with the whole ‘emo revival’ scene- I would say they are more just passionate and emotionally aware, rather than ‘emo’ per se- but if we are calling them ‘emo’, Cody could be considered Saves the Day-esque at times. This album is one big hit factory, and pretty varied, too: “Fake Id”, the lost early ‘00s teen anthem from an alternative timeline, the super-perky “Angel in the Snow” that you just can’t help finger-tapping to (trust me, I’ve tried) or the melancholic heartbreak of “Over Before It Began”. This is all basically pop-punk: concise; no-frills; catchy hooks; anxiety about growing up and nostalgia for your youth. Of course, although Joyce Manor are known for their succinctness, the standout song on here is their longest (the 4 minute plus, experimental “Stairs”, featuring this year’s creepiest lyrics), offering great potential of what Joyce Manor might do next.

Listen here: https://joycemanor.bandcamp.com/album/cody

  1. Mikey Erg!- Tentative Decisions (Don Giovanni)

In the years since The Ergs! broke up, Mikey has released a few bits here and there, but this is the album we have been waiting for: and Tentative Decisions did not disappoint one bit. In many ways, this is a continuation of Upstairs/Downstairs, with Mikey bringing back to life the heart-felt, succinct and fast-paced pop-punk ditties that defined the band (see: “Faulty Metaphor”, “Comme Si About Me”, alongside the stranger, more experimental, folk-ier tracks (“Waiting Out The Winter”, “Scenic Turnout”). But The Ergs! was always a collective and this is the first time that we hear Mikey carve out an album purely as he wants.  So, no, this is not an exercise in nostalgia: Mikey is re-inventing, not merely reviving. The 2016 version of Mikey is now more cynical and self-aware, while still searching for that new ‘Amanda’: on “Comme Si About Me”, he spits out an epilogue to all of his love-lorn past ditties: “I wish you loved me and blah blah blah/ and I wasn’t lonely and blah blah blah”. Welcome back, Mikey, pop-punk has missed you.

Listen here: https://mikeyerg.bandcamp.com/album/tentative-decisions

  1. Apologies, I Have None- Pharmacie (Holy Roar/ Animal Style)

Apologies, I Have None are one of the most creative and consistently fascinating punk rock bands around and their second LP Pharmacie pushes the boundaries of what you thought the band were once again. I say ‘punk rock band’ in a loose sense and in the sense of their core, underlying ethos, but musically, while there are certainly punk elements to their sound and Apologies straddle multiple genres, this feels largely like an angst-y, emo record. Pharmacie is the next natural step in Apologies’ evolution from London through to the ‘Black Everything’: they have essentially built upon the anger and frustration evident in “The 26” to now totally embrace the darkness within. With notable exceptions (like the more standard Apologies’ hit “Love and Medication”), the songs on Pharmacie are slow-burning and revelatory, bursting in with occasional faster, heavier, gut-punch moments, as can be best seen on album highlight “Everybody Wants to Talk About Mental Health”. This is not an easy listen at times, but it is definitely a worthwhile one; a proper album, where everything is inter-connected; a Pharmacie to live by.

Listen here: https://apologiesihavenone.bandcamp.com/album/pharmacie

  1. The Hotelier- Goodness (Tiny Engines)

Define Goodness how you want: emo, indie, post-rock, pop-punk. It doesn’t really matter: it’s just good. The Hotelier have built immeasurably on the more straight-forward emo evident on their last record, Home, Like No Place is There. The new one is essentially their experimental art-y record, where they laid a marker down and really carved an identity of their own. The vocals remain nasal, but otherwise, musically and lyrically, Goodness moved things up several notches. The sound of the modern Hotelier is slow-paced and more restrained, but still passionate, with lyrics that are much more down to earth and feel real. The album is fascinating and only unravels with time; it is about seeing life, “in exploding colour”, in all its complexity, in all its heart-breaking, fucking tragedy. And then there’s that album cover…

Listen here: https://thehotelier.bandcamp.com/album/goodness

  1. Big Eyes- Stake My Claim (Don Giovanni)

Stake My Claim is a proper hook-fest. Here, Big Eyes embrace the melodies and ditch some of the ‘rawk’ aspects of their sound that defined their previous records. Stake My Claim flits between multiple genres (pop-punk, power-pop, rock ‘n’ roll, indie); pleasingly, it is hard to pin down Big Eyes. There are proper guitar solos present, but there also pop-punk-y melodies in abundance. The album kind of moves between the snotty, melodic punk brilliance of “Leave This Town” and “Giving It Up For Good”, and the sunny, laidback power-pop of “Behind Your Eyes” and “Just Not Right”, at times Best Coast-ish. There is always too much Runaways-esque spikiness and spunk for the sound to be that kind of power-pop though. However, the harmonies are every bit as fucking good: listen to “Leave This Town” and tell me any different; “TV and cell phones are a modern curse”, now that is an earworm. So, sound-wise, I would say, imagine if Lipstick Homicide were way into power-pop and had thousand times better production, and that is probably close to what is on Stake My Claim.

Listen here: https://bigeyes.bandcamp.com/album/stake-my-claim

  1. Muncie Girls- From Caplan to Belsize (Specialist Subject)

After a string of 7”s and 12”s (including their split with Great Cynics), debut LP From Caplan to Belsize was where Muncie Girls really made their mark. While I found their previous stuff hit and miss, this is very, very good indeed from first to last minute. With the intelligence and sincerity of the lyrics, alongside the soaring melodies and catchy, female-led vocals, The Muncie Girls kind of remind me of New Jersey’s The Measure (SA), a band whom I have always felt were dearly underrated. The band cleverly and personally engages with a number of socio-political issues in a positive, but not condescending manner: criticising the educational system and talk of “the lucky fucking few” on “Learn in School” sets the tone for the rest of From Caplan to Belsize. Album highlights include the Joy Division-esque “Social Side” and the spiky, pop-punk-y middle finger to misogyny “Respect”.

Listen here: https://munciegirls.bandcamp.com/album/from-caplan-to-belsize

 

 

 

      9. Against Me!- Shape Shift With Me (Total Treble Music/ Xtra Mile)

Shape Shift With Me is a more restrained, comparatively calmer affair after the angry cathartic bursts of energy on Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It loses some of the raw power behind its predecessor as a result, but, here, Against Me! focus on just churning out punk hits. It may result in less of a cohesive, album feel to it, but to an extent, I don’t care much if the hits are as good as “Boyfriend” (with one of my favourite choruses ever: “Treated me like a boyfriend/ like just some fucking boyfriend) or “333” or “Rebecca”. Sonically, Against Me! tread the line between the raw intimacy of TDB and the stadium punk rock of White Crosses. It is not the perfect degree by any measure, but Shape Shift With Me captivates at times and will reel you in for repeated listens with its punk rock sing-a-longs

      10. Tacocat- Lost Time (Hardly Art)

I guess Tacocat can be best explained in elevator pitch style by saying: think Bikini Kill if they were brought up on Beach Boys instead of Sex Pistols. This is super-simplistic, but it hits the major points: that the band evoke some of the better elements of the riot grrl movement, while prioritising melodies and hooks above all else, as any power-pop band might. At the same time, while Tacocat do engage in feminist and political discussion, on songs such as “Men Explain Things to Me” and “Horse Grrls”, they are also not averse to bringing to light the everyday (“I Hate The Weekend”, a song that all service workers can relate to on some level) and fun (“Dana Katherine Scully”, an X-files themed song!). Although not quite hitting the high levels set by predecessor NVM, Lost Time has some of the best hooks of 2016, mostly at the latter half of the record, with “Leisure Bees” and “Nightswimming”.

Listen here: https://tacocat.bandcamp.com/album/lost-time-3

Almost, but not quite

AJJ- The Bible 2

Jeff Rosenstock- Worry

Wonk Unit- Mr. Splashy

MTX- King Dork Approximately

7”s, EPs and other stuff I enjoyed this year

Shit Present- ‘Misery and Disaster’ EP

Bangers- Last Songs 7”

Radio Hearts- ‘Tell You’ EP

Delinquents- Next Generation (Single)

The Menzingers- Lookers (Single)

Katie Ellen- Demo

———————————————————————-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Hard’s Top Ten of 2016

Image result for mr t experience king dork approximately

  1. The Mr. T Experience-King Dork Approximately

I got the pleasure of reviewing this album this year- and it’s by far the best album that was released this year. If you can say that it was released this year. The official release date isn’t until 2017. I think I’ve already said all there is to say about this wonderful record. What I love about songs that actually originally belong to certain story (here: the King Dork books), and how they can have entirely different meanings as separate songs, “Thinking of Suicide?” for example. Sure, about half of these songs are old as shit, but they sure don’t sound like shit! This shit is pure gold!

  1. Blink-182-California (BMG)

In 2001, the album Enema of the State was on the top of my Christmas list (and that album is on my list 15 years later actually). I was a twelve-year-old little jerk then, 27, now a bigger jerk. Now, in 2016, Blink-182 is back with a new album, Matt Skiba has replaced Tom Delonge and Goldfinger’s John Feldman has produced and co-written the album. California is trying to show the Golden State from all sides, from the raw to the phony plastic wrapping of Hollywood. Musically, I’m sad to say that the plastic wrapping is also very present on this album. This album sounds more plastic than Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” and my family’s Christmas tree put together. Maybe that’s taking it a bit too far. But this is certainly a slap in the face of those who thought Enema was a bit overproduced. On California, some of the songs are gold. “Teenage Satellites” is a great song that looks back on youth fondly and “San Diego” that highlights people’s ambivalence toward their hometown (San Diego is Blink’s hometown, even if none of their current members are from there.) Home is also a theme in “Home Is Such a Lonely Place”, one of the album’s ballads. I have loved this band since I was 12 and there have been times when doing so has been frowned upon, but putting this album on the second place on my list is embarrassing the hell out of me. Not because I think it’s embarrassing to like Blink, but that the album’s production is cringeworthy and most of the songs are as well, and it’s by far their worst effort. And I still enjoy it more than most other albums this year. That just shows that either this has been a slow year for music this year or that nostalgia really is the opium of the age.

  1. Death by Unga Bunga- Pineapple Pizza (Jansen Plateproduksjon)

Blink isn’t the only thing that is frowned upon to like. Putting pineapple on a pizza is something a lot of people think is a crime against humanity. But to me, it’s a perfect match. Sweet pineapple bits together with tomato sauce and melted cheese. My lips are moist just imagining it. How can anyone be against that? I’m at least happy that this Norwegian garage/power pop band is giving their support to this delicious culinary experience. The album is pretty awesome as well. I’ve always loved this band and they’ve always put on a good show. I’ve actually found out lately that their earlier albums are even better than Pineapple Pizza, but PP is a sweet album. “Make Up Your Mind” and “Lady Fondue” are some of the greatest songs of the year and the sound of the album sounds way better than the Blink album and if I weren’t so tremendously shattered by nostalgia, this album would probably be nr. 2 on this list. It’s like if you took the Byrds and stuff like the Exploding Hearts and the Manikins and they are from the Yum Yum’s hometown, Moss.

  1. NOFX-First Ditch Effort (Fat Wreck)

NOFX is another band I was sickingly fixated with at some point. They’ve also started recording worse and worse albums, and this album shows they are still on a pretty big downer, both when it comes to quality of their music and their depressing lyrics. Like the MTX album, First Ditch Effort is also based on literature. NOFX wrote a book with former Dead Kennedys singer Jeff Penalty (brilliant name) called the Hepatitis Bathtub and the album reflects the songs on the album. The book is a lot better, however, and the songs don’t get out the same emotions as the book did. The best songs on the album are to me “Bye Bye Biopsy Girl” and “California Drought”. Fat Mike’s honest song about cross-dressing, “I’m a Transvest-lite” tells how Dr. Frankenfurter fom The Rocky Horror Picture Show inspired him to don’t dream it, be it and wear “women’s clothing”.

Listen here: https://nofx.bandcamp.com/album/first-ditch-effort

  1. Tacocat-Lost Time (Hardly Art)

A big letdown of this year was Tacocat’s Lost Time. Mostly because NVM was such a great album and I really wanted them to follow it up with something equally good, but that didn’t happen. It’s still actually a pretty good album. The album, like its predecessor, takes up feminist themes in a humoristic way. They take up mansplaining and the internet. There’s also a tribute song to Scully from X-Files!

Listen here: https://tacocat.bandcamp.com/album/lost-time-3

  1. Descendents-Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph)

Another letdown was Descendents first album in 12 year. At 14, Cool to Be You was my favorite album and is basically still an album full of hits. I feel like the newest album tried to be more like 1996’s Everything Sucks, that I honestly never was that into. I found this album to be quite a disappointment and after not putting out something for 12 years, I’d expect a better output. The album still gets the sixth spot on the list, because the songs “Without Love”, “Smile” and “On Paper” are still some of the songs of the year and if it were just an EP it’d be a damn good EP.

  1. Sløtface-Empire Records (EP, Propeller)

Speaking of damn good EP’s, I always try to fill a quote of Norwegian bands and I always add some EP’s as well. I usually see Sløtface a couple of times a year and “Empire Records” has always been my favorite song to hear live because I love the movie with the same name. To hear it on record was kind of weird, but it’s a great song still. The entire EP is pretty great and if it were an album that were this good in its entirety, it would probably be way higher on the list. The band used to be known as Slutface, but changed their name around the 1st of April this year. I was sure it was an April fool’s joke, but turns out I was wrong!

Listen herehttps://soundcloud.com/slotfaceofficial-1

  1. Nerf Herder-Rockingham (Golfshirt)

These Nerdcore guys decided to crowdfund their newest album like Screeching Weasel did with Baby Fat. I almost forgot about the album until the end of the year. It’s as good as or even better than their fourth album IV. “Ghostbusters 3” is the saddest broken hearted love song of the year.

  1. Against Me!-Shape Shift with Me (Total Treble Music/ Xtra Mile)

I didn’t listen to this album until the very end of the year, since I’m not really a big Against Me! fan, but I really enjoy this album and I think it’s their best album. It’s a really diverse album and the sound is great. I think the Blink album should’ve sounded like this.

  1. Mikey Erg!-Tentative Decisions (Don Giovanni)

There were lots of albums this year I could’ve put on the list. The Norwegian band Sweden put out a pretty good album, and actual swedes Västerbron did as well. Green day had like one good song on their album Revolution Radio called “Still Breathing”, and that’s it, I guess. I was really excited when I heard Mikey Erg’s new album, especially after his split with Warren Franklin. I don’t think the album is as good as that split, but there are some really good songs on here, like “1001 Smashed Motel Rooms” and “Song for New Britain”. The Ergs! are also reunited, so some good things came out of 2016.

Listen here: https://mikeyerg.bandcamp.com/album/tentative-decisions

sour sop 10sour sop 9

Increasing The Minimum Rage cover art

I know ska, I know punk, and I know ska punk. I know Oi. But never before have I heard ska oi until today. Faintest Idea, hailing from the port town of Kings Lynn in Norfolk, are a pretty fucking unique band in this world, and that should be treasured. Too many bands set out to sound like other bands that they think are popular, and we end up with a boring sea of sameness. Faintest Idea turn this trend on its head with tight, energetic ska music blended with tough working class oi, and the result is nothing short of astounding. And, while most ska bands, and even ska punk bands, are generally about fun times, Faintest Idea inject a heavy dose of economic, social, and political justice into their lyrics and in the “found-sound” recordings between some of the songs.

The album begins with ominous music from trombone and saxophone and a sound clip from the film, “A King in New York,” in which Charlie Chaplin has a dialog with a boy about the book he’s reading, something by Karl Marx. “Surely you’re not a communist,” chuckles Chaplin. “Do I have to be a communist to read Karl Marx?” comes the reply. “That’s a valid answer. Well, if you’re not a communist, what are you?” retorts Chaplin. “Nothing,” replies the boy. “I dislike all forms of government.” Thus the stage is set, and a dark ska number, “Circling the Drain,” begins, with heavy dose of Oi coming from the tough, gruff vocals and hard edged feel. The lyrics speak to the endless cycle of those in power dismantling programs that benefit the masses (the creeping privitisation of the NHS in Britain was the inspiration), discontent brewing, and a “straw man” being set up to shoulder the blame of the ills of society, usually immigrants or minorities.

“Down Pressure starts out with a clip from Felonious Monk’s rage about the debt ceiling in the US. “How the fuck do you owe China, B? How can I tell my daughter, with a straight face, that Capitalism is a better system than Communism when we’re borrowing all our fucking money from the biggest communist country on the fucking planet?” A funky bass line segues into perfect ska, with lyrics about the seeming hopelessness of, well, everything going on in the world.

“Stick ‘Em Up (Lords of War)” is a commentary on gun control and gun violence, taking clips from the film “Lord of War.” “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: how do we arm the other eleven?” The song is about, not only the pointlessness of war, but of the disgusting fact that much war is driven by the desire for war profits from arms manufacturers. Musically, this is one of the hardest tracks on the album, with explosive guitars and vocals matching the explosiveness of the topic.

Other songs deal with the destruction of the environment, homelessness and drug abuse, the insanity of corporate personhood and greed, and other similar topics. It’s fucking refreshing to hear something this political again. And, while, ultimately, protest songs never convert anyone, they do raise awareness and can fuel movements that can create change. So more power to Faintest Idea! This is a brilliant album, lyrically and musically.

PS

Check it out here: https://faintestidea.bandcamp.com/album/increasing-the-minimum-rage

 

Review: Loop Line- Wakes (EP)

Posted: March 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

Wakes cover art

For some reason when I see this EP cover I think I’m about to listen to The Killers or Bloc Party, but I’m not, this is Loop Line. I know nothing about them, except that they are an alternative rock duo based in Minneapolis, where Paul (one of the duo’s members lives, Luke lives in Phoenix, and they’ve recorded the EP over mail, and that’s all I need to know).  I didn’t really know what to expect from this Ep, but I always like listening to new shit! The first song is probably the best song, it’s called “Nothing About You” and it’s a Power Pop song and it almost sounds like Weezer. The singing reminds me of Intruder Blue of Masked Intruder. I really like the song, the melody is great! The harmonies are nice and the instrumentation is sweet. The second song “Grin” at first sounds like Blink-182 on piano, but goes away from that path pretty quick. “Grin” is a chill song, with a smooth bass line. The harmonies and sound is reminiscent of the Beach Boys as well as later era Zombies, I even hear some Pixies influences.

“Parts Unknown” also has those ol’ Beach Boys harmonies and I would describe it as psychedelic indie rock. There’s a title trop in the song: “We’ll find ourselves in parts unknown”, which sounds somewhat poetic. The vocals in “Parts Unknown” are a bit like Rivers from Weezer, but the singer also reminds me a bit of Christian from the Tattle Tales. The last song, “Dusty Keys” is a great closer, and it’s also a psychedelic indie song, but it sounds way different from “Parts Unknown”, it’s chill like “Grin” and it’s more of a ballad, it sort of reminds me of the Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience. “Wakes” is a pretty good EP and it’s very diverse. Even as a promoter of diversity, I would maybe say it’s too diverse to the point that it seems inconsistent. Despite that, I will probably listen to it a lot in the future, so I definitely enjoy it!

RH

Check it out here: http://looplinemusic.bandcamp.com/

Eddy’s comics #3

Posted: February 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

image(6)

image(7)

image(8)

Water Lane cover art

Hailing from West Yorkshire in the UK, Above Them play a style of music that’s part grunge, part indie rock, and part melodic punk. Blending these, you get something that’s guitar-driven, not quite as heavy as grunge, full of melodic sensibility and emotional urgency. The songs are generally mid-tempo, which is fine, but I wish there was a little more variety here, and a little more energetic power. But I hear plenty of current SoCal pop punk influence from this UK band. Some of the songs do stand out, though, like “We’re All Going Down,” which reminds me of one of my current favorite bands, Western Settings, though with less gruff vocals. It’s got a powerful emo-ish melodic punk sound, which I really love. “Old Roots” moves seamlessly through pretty pop-punk sounding music, through Americana-tinged sounds (from a UK band?) and through old-school emo, for a track that’s pretty cool. “Broken Bones” has elements that remind me of LA’s Gentlemen Prefer Blood, another good band. And the short, quiet opener, “Theories of Planned Behavior,” is quite pretty, with vocals laid bare over a single simple guitar. The bulk of the songs, though, while good, don’t quite grab me so much. I think part of the issue is that the songs try to stay “in the middle,” that is, not too hard, not too poppy, not too emo, so they don’t get labeled a certain way. The result, for some of these songs, is that they end up sounding just a bit “middle-of-the-road.”

Paul Silver

Check it out here: http://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/water-lane

Things You Should Like: 2015

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey!! You! Yes, you! Let me tell you some stuff to like!!

Here is some music me and Read Hard liked in 2015. If you want to be as cool as us, you could like it, too.

Here is a link to KTOTT’s spotify playlist of the year:

Next week: fashion tips.

DB’s Albums of the year:

  1. Waxahatchee- Ivy Tripp (Merge)

Waxahatchee is just one of those artists that keeps improving and expanding with each passing album. I thought Cerulean Salt was the bee’s knees, but this, their third LP, is absolutely stunning. There is a clear musical progression from their previous records: as with Cerulean Salt, this is a full-band affair, but they take a more experimental route here. There is a real variety on display here, from the slowed-down ballads (just Katie and a piano) to the dance-y, uplifting synth-y ones. Standout tracks include “La Loose”, simplistic and beautifully light, with its “ooh oohs” and a soaring chorus, and the keyboard-y “Air”, which is just a fantastically written song: “You are patiently giving me everything that I will never need”. The real standout though remains Katie’s voice, of course. The emotion and vulnerability which has been there since the start still runs right through her vocals. Heart-breaking, a real winter record, as “Summer of Love” evidences.

  1. Colleen Green- I Want to Grow Up (Hardly Art)

I’ve gone on about this album enough, I realise, but it is really, really excellent. It could definitely be the album of the year. This is the album where Colleen Green’s level went up several notches. I’ve come to enjoy her older stuff much more now, but I Want to Grow Up is still lightyears ahead: in terms of production, songwriting, everything. It is the perfect example of a ‘themed’ album: no over-arching narrative or concept, but a record centred around one particular theme, an inability to mature. “Whatever I Want” is one of the most-empowering songs you will ever hear, especially where it is placed as the album closer. Backed by sweet vocals and addictive beats, Colleen has made it.

  1. Bangers- Bird (Specialist Subject)

Oh yeah, the UK’s best current punk rock band are back with another great record! This one might be their best yet; it’s certainly the one where they experimented the most musically and took influences from outside of punk rock, as bassist/vocalist Andrew attested to in his recent interview. “I Don’t Feel Like I’ll Ever Be Clean Again” is one the hits of the year and totally steps outside of what Bangers normally do. It sounds more like an alt-rock song from the ‘90s. Although they branched out a little bit, this is still assuredly a Bangers album and that is always a good thing.

  1. Screeching Weasel- Baby Fat (Recess)

Easily the most ambitious punk album released this year. If you have somehow missed it, this is Screeching Weasel’s first act of a rock opera, including Kat Spazzy in a wonderful turn as vocalist, alongside Blag Dhalhia among others. If you want evidence of how far Weasel stepped outside of their comfort zone, listen to “I’m a Lonesome Wolf”. Baby Fat is not a perfect album by any stretch, but it’s lined with some pure gold: “Creeping in Silence”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “In the Pale Light of the Midnight Sun” particularly stand out.

  1. Best Coast- California Nights (Harvest)

“I know it’s love that’s got me feeling ok”. My favourite chorus of the year. “Feeling Ok” is such a hit song: wonderful melodies underpinned by Bethany’s sweet vocals. At one point, I was playing it 3 or 4 times a day. The rest of the album is inconsistent, but the level of the good songs is good enough to put Best Coast in fifth spot: particularly the title track and “Heaven Sent” particularly. This is a big comeback from Best Coast after the largely disappointing The Only Place.

  1. Great Cynics- I Feel Weird (Specialist Subject)

Hey, it’s time to obnoxiously quote myself from my own review of this record:

“Great Cynics walk the tight boundary between ‘90s indie-pop and straight-forward pop-punk in a similar way to label-mates Personal Best. They are equally indebted to Weezer as they are Descendents and that means one thing: hooks-a-plenty! I Feel Weird is seriously one big pop-fest; the melodies on display here will gradually draw you in and not let you leave for days. There is a punk element to this record, but make no mistake, the core here is classic, sugary pop. The uplifting, positive nature of I Feel Weird gives it all a summery feel, recalling youthful, care-free days in the park.”

  1. Frank Turner- Positive Songs for Negative People (Xtra Mile)

It’s probably his weakest album (even considering the inconsistent first record), but it is still Frank Turner. A little bit like Best Coast, Frank’s good songs are really, really good, but it is the fillers on the albums which let it down. “Get Better”, “Mittens” and “Josephine” are un-fuckwithable and evidence songwriting genius: “I once wrote you love songs/ You never fell in love/ We used to fit like mittens, but never like gloves”. It’s no Tape Deck Heart maybe, but it’s still better than 99% of things. I want to hear Frank’s angst unleashed on the next album, to be entitled Negative Songs for Positive People!

  1. The Sidekicks- Runners in the Nerved World (Epitaph)

The Sidekicks improve with each record and kind of sound nothing like they did on their first record. They have gone from being a passionate, Fest-y punk band to being an indie rock band with fantastic songwriting ability. The latter identity suits them so much better. Runners in the Nerved World is their forth record and continues their musical evolution from where Awkward Breeds left off. This is considered, emotional, resonating indie rock, that is devoid of the pretentiousness often associated with the sub-genre. Listen to “Everything in Twos” or “Jesus Christ Supermalls” if you don’t believe me.

  1. Worriers- Imaginary Life (Don Giovanni)

This is the second album from Worriers, comprising of Lauren Denizito (formerly of the Measure (SA)) on vocals and Mikey Erg! on drums. They play indie-pop-punk in an interesting way, with Lauren’s vocals perfectly suiting the subtle melodies on offer. Imaginary Life is a great example of ‘personal is political’, where Lauren tackles wider structural issues (particularly in regards to gender and institutional corruption) from a personal and emotional stance. This involves self-reflection as an older person looking back at their former, younger activist life, kind of like in “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. The other Against Me! Link is of course that Laura Jane Grace produced this album. A grower of an album, for sure.

  1. Night Birds- Mutiny on Muscle Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)

Night Birds may have toned down the surf elements on their first release for Fat Wreck Chords Mutiny on Muscle Beach, but they have not diluted their intensity or raw edge one bit. If anything, they have gone up a couple of notches. This is a classic punk album through and through that could be from an ‘80s So-cal hardcore band. Mutiny…is burnt through at a relentless pace; there is barely any time for the listener to breathe here. A throwback to how a ‘proper’ punk album should sound, or perhaps a ‘proper’ skate-punk album.

Albums that didn’t quite make the top ten: Personal Best- Arnos Vale; Don Blake- Pocket Universe; Vacation- Non-Person.

Favourite EPs of the year:

Skinny Genes- “Ugh”

Kimberley Steaks- “Chemical Imbalance”

Shit Present- “S/T”

 Read Hard’s Albums of the year

Baby Fat Act 1 cover art

1 Screeching weasel-Baby Fat Act 1 (Recess)

I’ve probably written too much about this record already! And I’m probably what the punx call a “weasel-apologist” or an asshole, but I think it’s a great album and I still think “Thine Eyes of Mercy” and “Creeping in Silence” are the best songs that came out this year. And maybe the most interesting aspect of this story is the relationship between Baby Fat(Blag Dahlia) and Poveretta(Kat Spazzy). No matter what one might think of Ben Weasel’s persona, he did a great job on this rock opera, and I’m excited to see how act 2 turns out.

2 Razika-Ut til de andre (Out to the Others) (K Dahl Eftf)

No Read Hard “Record of the year” list without Norwegian bands. Razika is an all-female band from Bergen. They are known for their poppy mix of Ska and Indie rock, but on “Ut til de andre” they seem to have taken inspiration from 60’s Pop music and there also seems to be a garagy Pop Punk influence as well, and it works great! I think this is their best album till now. And gives us everything from the snarky Pop Punk of “Faen ta deg”(Fuck you), to the slow 60’s-esque ballad of “Gutten i dongerijakke”(The boy in the denim jacket) and to the more Doo-Wop Pop of “Det Embla sa”(What Embla said). The production is smooth and the songs are incredibly catchy and I’m, like I think I mentioned last year, bewildered because of the tremendous production that’s found on Norwegian records nowadays. My favorite song on the album might be “Første gangen om igjen”(“The first time again”), with its wonderful horn section that still hangs around from the Ska days.

3 Worriers-Imaginary Life (Don Giovanni)

Worriers is the name of a music collective from New York City lead by Lauren from the Measure(SA) and with Mikey Erg on drums! And this is a great album through and through and includes wonderful song titles such as “Life during Peacetime” and “Yes All Cops”, and they’re not only good song titles, but they are also great songs! Mikey Erg’s drumming is interesting and innovative without going into Travis Barker overplaying territory.

4 Bad Cop/ Bad Cop-Not Sorry (Fat Wreck Chords)

I first became aware of this Bad Cop/Bad Cop from singer Stacy Dee’s appearances on Ryan Young’s(Off with Their Heads) podcast “Anxious and Angry” and thought they were great right away. I have been anticipating the album for a while, especially with the album’s first single “Nightmare”, which is a doo-woppy Pop Punk song, and the video is hilarious too. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of the album lives up to the great single. There are a couple of songs like “The ‘Wood” that do, and there are definitely some really great tracks spread out over the album, and there’s really not a bad song on the album, most of it is pretty standard Pop Punk, but the album seems really inconsistent. The good songs are really good though, and had they all been that great I’m sure this album would be even higher on the list.

5 Radiohearts-Lot to Learn (FDH)

Radiohearts was the great surprise for me this year, as I had the pleasure of reviewing the EP they released last year “Nothing at All”, and I was happy to find out they also released an EP this year that is almost as great! This is Buzzcocks versus 999 in a modern, American version. “Lot to Learn” is four great tracks and both “Heartbeat” and “Let Them Know” are among the best songs that came out this year!

6 Frank Turner-Positive Songs for Negative People (Xtra Mile)

Frank Turner is back with a new album, and the album title is great. Sadly, I think the title is better than the actual album. The album is the classic Frank Turner sound, maybe a bit more of the punker side than the Folk side. The first song “The Angel Islington” is the first song and a nice little song about the tubestop in the Islington district in London, it’s among the best songs on the album. Other treats are the single “Get Better” and the beautiful ballad “Mittens”, but I think the album at large falls short to the great Tape Deck Heart, and pretty much everything else in his discography.

7 Night Birds-Mutiny at Muscle Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)

Another band that delivers their signature sound is Night Birds, this is exactly what to expect from a Night Birds album, which makes it hard to tell whether it’s great or OK, because Night Birds sound cool with their Surf versus old school hardcore (they’ve always reminded me of the Adolescents) sound. The last song, “Left in the Middle”, though stands out as a really great closer and a great song. I guess this is the album to listen to if you like the Night Birds, like I do! The album title is Mutiny at Muscle Beach is cool too, maybe even cooler than Frank Turner’s title.

8 Slutface-Shave My Head (Propeller)

Slutface is a Norwegian band that is somewhat hard to categorize, but if I were to try I’d place them somewhere between New Wave and Indie rock. “Shave My Head” is a single they released in October. The most interesting quality of the band is that every individual instrument works so great on its own and they all work so well together. There’s always a cool drumbeat, a smooth bass line or an innovative guitar riff or solo to notice. The vocal performances are top notch and the lyrics are witty and can make you think. The lyrical topics usually revolve around feminism and popular culture from the 80’s and 90’s. Both songs on the single are more on the feminist side, seen from a personal point of view. The title track has the great line “I’d rather put together my IKEA chairs with glasses of red wine”. I think the B-side; “Get My Own” is the better of the two songs. There is a link between the two songs. In “Shave My Head” is a woman declaring her independence (“I am fine to walk alone, I don’t need you there to walk me home”) and “On My Own” is a statement against society’s misogyny and the threat of violence against women (“We refuse to be scared to walk all alone”). And both songs makes a really great single.

9 Home Street Home: Songs from the sHit Musical (Fat Wreck Chords)

The hardest part about these lists is choosing the tenth record, this year I had to revisit the soundtrack from Fat Mike’s musical. Is making a musical really a good idea? *looks away* On this soundtrack NOFX plays the music and we get to hear several Punk rock stars playing the roles. Stacy Dee from Bad Cop/Bad Cop is playing one of the lead roles and her vocal performance might be even better on this album than on Not Sorry, but the songs are less memorable. Frank Turner also makes a few appearances in the two really short cuts “Bad Decision” and “Another Bad Decision”, Matt Skiba also plays the creepy molester dad. I guess it’s similar to Baby Fat, in many ways, but the cast is more famous here, but it still falls short when it comes to the songs. Another similarity between the two is the focus on sexual assault. The best song on this record is the NOFX song “The Agony of Victory” and it might be better than the version on Coaster. As I revisited the album, I realized it deserved to be placed a spot higher.

10 Topbunk-Top Bunk (Bloated Kat)

Never a top 10 of the year list without something from Grath Madden! This year it’s his newest band Topbunk together with Ace Hole from Skinny Genes (as well as all the other Grath bands). A pretty good EP and it sounds different than most of Grath’s bands and the song “Run Away” is one of the greatest songs of the year. Records that I also considered were Fidlar’s Too and Latter+’s No More ThanThree Chords since they both had one really great song each, and revisiting them I realized that they were incredibly similar (“West Coast” and “”) as well as some other good tracks. Stiletto Bomb also had one of the greatest songs this year(“Screaming from the Bottom”), but their record didn’t make it either.

If you would like a copy of ‘Keep Track of the Time 2014 Collection’, get in touch (keeptrackofthetime@gmail.com): I still have a few copies available to send out! If not, you can take your chances and order an LP from Brassneck Records, where they are being given away with all LP orders, while stocks last. Just look at the beautiful future toilet paper:

ktott cover pic

Eddy’s Comics: SOURSOP

Posted: February 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

A new comic strip from our resident artist Eddy. This one is entitled SOURSOP. Enjoy.

soursop