The Punk Archive aims to be the only blog you'll ever need for reviews and news on the punk, ska, reggae and alternative music scenes. We will review music from the past, present, and future, looking at CD, vinyl, mp3 and hitting as many gigs as we can handle, as well as keeping you in the loop with the goings-on in our scene and interviewing as many bands as we can. Please enjoy the blog and feel free to send any comments or feedback to us via email to thepunkarchive@hotmail.co.uk , or by visiting our Twitter at www.twitter.com/thepunkarchive , or our Facebook at www.facebook.com/thepunkarchive. You can also find us on Instagram: just search for @thepunkarchive. Don't forget to check out our YouTube channel, too, over at www.youtube.com/c/thepunkarchive

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Peter Black / Forest Pooky: Europe Tour 2015

Artist: Peter Black / Forest Pooky
Title: Europe Tour 2015 (Split)
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 4th September 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton


It seems the endless stream of punk musicians going solo and releasing acoustic albums (see Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner etc.) is not about to stop soon and Peter "Blackie" Black, of Australian band The Hard Ons is the latest to throw his hat in the ring with this split EP, teaming up with folk rocker Forest Pooky. It's released on September 4th with a European tour to support it, hence the name.

Now I don't generally listen to much acoustic folk/punk/rock, Frank Turner apart, so I came in to this open minded but leave a little disappointed. The record is just six songs long, split equally, and is definitely a tale of two sides. The first three tracks, by Peter Black, just don't work for me. Lyrically and sonically it just sounds child-like and amateurish.

First track, Spoil Ya Day starts with some simple guitar and has a sixties hippy vibe, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, but never really takes off. If anything the repeated line, "I don't want to spoil ya day, so I'll go" perfectly sums up the song. Preach And Practice follows and is more of the same, but almost nursery rhyme like in its simplicity. His last song, Trouble With Authority, is the one I struggle with most. I can't tell if his unique vocal sound is put on or not, and it starts to become quite annoying.

I'm all for trying something different and after a major violent assault on him a few years ago I'm sure he's just happy to be able to get out there and play again, but based on this I'd stick to the day job. Sorry.

Fortunately, Forest Pooky (best name I've seen in some time by the way) saves the day on his half of the album. It probably helps that he is reputedly one of the hardest touring musicians around so has really honed his skill and this translates over these songs.

Let You In starts proceedings and has a feel of Alice In Chains, with a sense of real foreboding hanging over the song. His vocals are filled with so much emotion and passion that you can't help but get sucked in. You're A Mess is a little more up-tempo, whilst still retaining a dark edge to the lyrics about moving on from the past: "feed the corpses in your head, they're more alive than they are deadbeing a great example. Final track Choosing Lies is slower but no less powerful for it and the strength of his voice shines through, especially on the chorus. There is a fragile beauty to all his songs here and I can't praise it enough.

So, in football parlance, a game of two halves. Poor in the first half but the performance in the second half meant they salvage a draw in the end.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Between Waves: Paper Chains

Artist: Between Waves
Title: Paper Chains
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 23rd October 2015
Reviewed By: Richard Greathead

It's always great to hear a female-fronted band in the normally male-dominated world of metal, and this Welsh quintet are no exception. Led by the supremely talented Helen Page, Between Waves are making 2015 their year. Formed in 2013, the band have been gaining rafts of fan support and are finally set to drop their debut EP, Paper Chains, through Lost Generation Records. 

The band's sound is sure to get them plenty of recognition when the EP arrives in October, with a sound reminiscent of modern metal mainstays like Lacuna Coil: a sound that is equal parts melodic and heavy. Helen Page's voice is the perfect thing to go over Richard Wood's shredding guitar riffs. 



First track and forthcoming single Paper Chains shows the band's love of the melodic with its soaring chorus, showing off the vocal strength of the group's singer. There seems to be missing a harsher edge found in other tracks on the EP, which while making it accessible to fans of the softer side of metal may alienate those looking for a heavier sound. The EP's second track Revelation shows Between Waves' true potential however, with guitarist Wood's harsher vocal style and great guitar work complementing the main vocal track. Adding a slightly heavier edge, this in my opinion is a better candidate for a single than the slightly disappointing Paper Chains

This improvement continues on current single Place to Fall with some amazing hooks and catchy uplifting vocal work that shows this band's potential as a truly great metal band. There's enough here to be able to say with confidence that they've got the potential to become one of the best of the current crop of melodic metal bands, with their influences ranging from Deftones to Tool balancing each other to create a sound guaranteed to gain them wider recognition in the future.

Ashley Reaks: This Is Planet Grot

Artist: Ashley Reaks
Title: This Is Planet Grot
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 22nd August 2014
Reviewed By: Jon Peach


This time my assignment is Ashley Reaks' latest album, This Is Planet Grot. Reaks is a man of many talents, a collage artist and genre-hopping musician, who has played bass for Mark Owen (Take That), toured the U.S and Canada with pro-rock guitarist Francis Dunnery and also had a hit in Japan in the late 90s with his electro-pop band Younger Younger 28s. Ashley gave up a career as a promising cricketer after hearing the album Rocket to Russia by The Ramones and seeing Gee Vaucher's artwork for anarchist punk band Crass. He plays every instrument on the album except from the drums (which are played by Dan Mitzen)...Now with a back story like that, I was expecting big things from this album...And I wasn't disappointed!
Waiting For Something To Believe In, the third track on This Is Planet Grot is fantastic, sounding like Joey Ramone (The Ramones), Paul Weller (The Jam) and Carl Baret (The Libertines) formed a super group just to come up with this song. It's got everything: a punchy, punk beat with chugging chords and melodic harmonies, and Ashley's brilliant voice enlivening the great lyrics. It's a real old-school punk anthem. It's so well crafted that it already feels like a classic: not just another cheesy rip off of a punk standard, this track has class. The lyrics are quite simple, but you know where you are with them: it's the good old story "We're the last inhabitants of planet grot, and we're waiting for something to believe in". And let's face it, who hasn't felt like that on their commute to and from work? I know I have...
Freaks Of The World Unite is the fifth track on This is Planet Grot. The song starts with Ashley's vocal, telling us that "This song is for, all those whose life is a mess, who feel they're second best, and all those freaked out by sex, and those who hate themselves". Then the band kicks in, Ashley still listing all the types of freaks out there: "All those who are living rough, and all those who've had enough, all those who had no love, can't see no God above". The chorus comes in next like a call to arms, ordering us to: "Stand up and fight, All the freaks of the world unite!" I love a song that makes people feel like they belong to something bigger, and that they can make a difference, and Reaks really makes you feel that with the lyrics of this track. The guitar work on Freaks Of The World Unite is fantastic, big, brash and very melodic. The vocal harmonies throughout the song are full and rich, and the drums played by Dan Mitzen are full of good old fashioned punk pedigree, great steady rock beats speckled with dramatic rolls and fills that really keep the song pumping and driving along. It's another great track and another future classic for Ashley!
No Point At All is track number eight on the record, and it's a face-melter, and also my favourite on the album. The lyrics are simple but to the point, as you can imagine with a song called No Point At All. But it's the way they're sung that's the kicker. The lead vocal has a really hard edge, very reminiscent of early Joe Strummer, with vocal harmonies that could have been supplied by The Ramones. But it doesn't feel like Ashley has simply ripped off the greats of the 70s Punk era, it feels like a genuine punk song, on a genuine punk album, by a genuine punk artist.
Ashley Reaks really is one to watch. His talents as a musician, writer and artist are incredible, and at recent live shows Ashley has been combining his art and music by projecting his collages on a screen while he performs. Reaks has already released two albums in 2015, (Uneasy Living and Before Koresh) and is set to release a collaboration with Hull wordsmith Joe Hakim, called Cultural Thrift. I’ll definitely be looking out for Ashley Reaks in the future and I think you should too! If you like classic, old-school influenced punk, This Is Planet Grot is the album for you! If you like musical freedom and real honest gritty art, Ashley Reaks is your man!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Richie Campbell: In The 876

Artist: Richie Campbell
Title: In The 876
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 31st July 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

It's always nice being surprised by an artist you've not heard of before. It's especially nice being presented with some brilliantly summery, easy-listening reggae music as I'm sat here on the rainiest of July Sundays in a grey London.

Let me introduce you to Richie Campbell, a fast-rising Portuguese reggae artist. In The 876 is his third full-length, and he's having a bit of a breakthrough year on these shores, having played Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party festivals over the last week or so. He's also got a headline slot at The Garage in Highbury on 29th July.

Richie's sound is very much a modern interpretation of lovers' rock reggae. It's almost impossibly smooth, with his vocal soaring over the backing track, almost caressing the listener's ears. The album generally is a very flowing one, each track melding into the next in a gorgeous fashion. That doesn't mean each track sounds the same: far from it. It's just a very well-rounded album. This is proven by my iTunes, which inexplicably decided to put the tracks in alphabetical order as opposed to by track-listing: even like this, the album sounds like a very complete, joined-up piece of music.

Admittedly, there's nothing complex at all here. This is basic, simple reggae music, but you know what? I don't care. It's enjoyable, easy-going, laid back and adaptable music, something we don't get enough of at the moment. There's no 'message' Richie is really trying to get across here, meaning it's not challenging in any way, shape or form to listen to. It doesn't sound pretentious or forced.

Personally, I prefer the more upbeat, bouncy tracks on the record. For me, Knock Me Out doesn't quite work, as there's just not enough to it. Saying that, though, Sara Taveres' voice (who features on this track) is stunning, and works perfectly with Richie's. Tracks that do work brilliantly, though are Best Friend and Feels Amazing, both of which have just been released as a double A-side single.

Best Friend has the most gorgeously mellow baseline sitting behind a bouncy, ska-influenced guitar line. Richie's vocal here takes influence from Rebelution and Romain Virgo, treading that middle line between the more commercialised reggae and lovers' rock. It's another simple track, easy to sing along to and move to.

Feels Amazing has a much more classic reggae feel to it. The baseline is deep and rolling, almost strutting down the musical street of the track. Richie's vocal variation is shown well when comparing these two tracks: he's much less smooth in this one, more dancehall-influenced with the speedier, less sung, more spoken style. You'd love to hear a dub version of this one: Prince Fatty or Prince Jammy could do a pretty special version of it, I'm sure.

Through the rest of In The 876, there's plenty to enjoy. Get Over You is pretty special: again, it's got a hulking, strutting baseline which is brought to life by a perky, reactive guitar and Toian's vocal, which is both brilliantly sweet and nearly cutesy, smoothing off the rougher, roots-reggae feel.

In The 876 is a solidly strong album. It's one to put on at any time (although especially when it's raining and grey), and one which will reinvigorate and put a smile on the face of a listener. I'd recommend seeing Richie if you can: there's certainly plenty to love about his sound.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Bangers: Bird

Artist: Bangers
Title: Bird
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 10th August 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

I'm fortunate enough to be able to say I've heard many albums in my life. Some have been stand-out because of their brilliance, and some stand-out for the opposite reason. There have been some I've laughed with, some I've cried to, and some I've spent hours listening to.

There are also those which disappear into my musical history ether, barely leaving a mark. I'm afraid to say that Bird, from Cornish punks Bangers, falls into that category. It's rare I feel so much ambiguity towards a record as I do this ten-track effort.

I don't even think this is a bad piece of music: indeed, for those who 'get' Bangers, I'm sure Bird is a pretty special album. There's enough here for punk fans and for rock fans to ensure that there'll be few disappointed upon first listen.

That's the thing, you see: I wasn't disappointed by any stretch of the imagination: for me, though, it barely even registered that I was listening to the album. Since my first listen, I've played Bird through five or six times, attempting to focus on it, trying to really get to grips with the album. And while I'm more appreciative of it after this than I was at the beginning, I'm still not really 'getting' it.

As far as style goes, to me it feels like a mix between some pretty raucous and messy street/garage-punk, with some added rock'n'roll panache and a bit of an indie flavour in there for good measure. Combine perhaps The Fratellis with Street Dogs and then some generic rock'n'roll and you're basically there. Again: this isn't a bad thing, and the messy, frantic and thrashy nature of some of the tracks (Fleshlings being a good example of this) is a pretty unique thing: it does feel like you're in the room with the band. It's recorded in a very raw and very 'live' style, something you don't hear enough of nowadays.

While I wouldn't brand every song on Bird as catchy, I'd definitely say there are a number of distinctive and individual songs. Stressful Festival is a pretty unique one, with the chanted refrain of "I'm so tired / of trying to be / someone else" being forced into listeners' ears time and time again. As I say, while they're not catchy in the truest sense of the word, most of the tracks here do leave a mark.

And maybe that's it. For me, Bird doesn't really leave much of a mark or have much of an impact. That could well be because I've been musically spoilt and my ears have just had enough. It could be that I just don't 'get' the band and their music. This doesn't make Bangers' latest a bad record by any stretch of the imagination. Try it: it may well chime with you a lot more than it does me.

2000 Trees Festival: Interview: The Subways

We had a chat with Charlotte from The Subways at this year's 2000 Trees Festival. Check it out here...


Interview: Versus The World

A few weeks ago, we sent our Editor Dan to catch up with Versus The World ahead of their gig at London's Underworld...


Let me set the scene for you. It was a Monday night, I was late leaving work and I live a good forty minutes from Camden. Having got home and not had any time for food, I was not in the best of moods and wasn't the most prepared I've ever been before an interview.

What happened next was Donald buying a round of whisky shots. All of a sudden, I knew this was going to be a good night...

The Punk Archive: So guys: European and UK tour. How's it going so far?
Donald Spence: Well, this is the first day of the UK tour, and we're a week into the European tour. Literally the second I stepped off the plane today and felt English air, I was so fucking happy. It was 104 degree in our van two days ago in mainland Europe's heatwave: the second I get here, it's 60 degrees, crisp English air...Get me to a pub!

The Punk Archive: It's almost like a detox, clearing all the shit out!
Donald: It's brilliant! It was exactly what I needed. I've been waiting to get here, and now that I am here, I'm stoked.

(L-R) Tony, our Editor Dan, Donald
The Punk Archive: So London's a pretty massive first date on a UK tour...
Donald: I feel like that's the way to start it. We have a few dates here: we're doing a small show in Plymouth, Manchester...I think it's very fitting. Just show up, and kick it off in fucking London!
Tony Caraffa: We played Paris last night, London tonight...
Donald: This is a club that we already know, and we've already been to...
Tony: Yeah, we played here two years ago...

The Punk Archive: It's definitely one of the best venues in London, particularly for our scene...
Donald: I like it that when people talk about music, they talk about "our scene". This is a club that's already familiar to me.
Tony: It kinda feels like, "oh, we're back here"...
Donald: We walk around this neighbourhood, and we already know the bars we like to drink in, we already know the places we like to eat...
Tony: It's kinda like playing Chicago or Vegas, you know: it's like, "oh yeah, we're in London, we're playing the Underworld". You kinda know what it's gonna feel like.

The Punk Archive: Camden is one of those homely places, though: people always return here and feel familiar here...
Donald: It's weird, because Camden... you have your scumbags, you have your street vendors, you have people trying to sell you weed, you have your cool pubs, you have your tourist traps...it has everything. It's really weird, and it's really cool. We were trekking around parts of London, and my wife said "It's weird, a lot of people wear suits here", and Tony was like...
Tony: Not in Camden! We were in Trafalgar Square, not in Camden Town...
Donald: This feels a little bit more like home!

The Punk Archive: Have you done the whole tourist thing, then?
Tony: Just a little bit.
Donald: My wife has never been to London. Last time we were on tour here, it was really quick, so we made sure we flew in early to hang out, see some of the town and show her the shit.

The Punk Archive: So which was the best date of the European tour? Which was the most fun show?
Tony: Paris. Paris and Berlin.
Donald: Czech Republic was really good.
Tony: Yeah. The festival in the Czech Republic was a blast. We got to see Ignite, Sick Of It All, that was rad.

The Punk Archive: Going back to talking about the scene: one of the things I noticed when listening to your new record is that you seemed to not be constrained by "the scene": you just went out there and wrote what you wanted to. Was that the approach you took?
Tony: We never tried to fit into a box, you know? We tried to write what we knew. Our background is Lagwagon, The Ataris: we're not reinventing the wheel here you know. We're in our thirties and forties: we know what we know, and we know what we're good at. Why would we try and do something new? It's going to be shit. Let's write what we're good at. We've made the record we wanted to make, you know?
Donald: There's always room to experiment. I think we do that: we get to have three guitars, we get to play around with some stuff. But at the end of the day, I fucking love pop-punk. I love punk rock. I don't give a fuck that I just wrote a pop-punk record. In fact, I'm fucking stoked that I just wrote a pop-punk record. Actually, when me and Tony were writing together, his words to me were "let's write the best pop-punk record we can". Those were his words.

The Punk Archive: It's so refreshing, though: you hear so many bands now trying so hard to do something that it becomes a bit contrived...
Donald: But you know what? Good for them. Try something new! We were doing something new by doing what we know! I just really wanted to write a record that I would want to jump up and down to.
Tony: It wasn't like "we want to have this sound". I just wanted to write the best thing I could.

The Punk Archive: So other than your previous experiences, where do your songwriting influences come from?
Donald: I listen to a lot of old pop music. And when I say pop music, I mean...

The Punk Archive: Britney Spears? (laughs)
Donald: Roy Orbison. Those songs were just verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse...big chorus...done.
Tony: A and B.
Donald: My mum used to listen to nothing but oldies. When I used to drive around in the car with her I'd be blown away that she would know every single word to every fucking song. I thought it was great! These songs, they just said what they needed to say. When I was a kid, I used to try and write everything in metaphor, trying to be super deep. Writing a record when you're 21 and when you're 31 is totally different. I have a lot to say now, and now it's easier to say it.

The Punk Archive: Both records are equally valid, though, right...
Donald: Oh absolutely. I'm not saying don't listen to young artists: some of the best music comes from kids who are just pissed and angry!

The Punk Archive: So who are you guys listening to at the moment?
Donald: What am I listening to at the minute...oooh, Red City Radio is my new favourite record right now. I think the new Red City Radio album is the best record I've bought this year.

The Punk Archive: So it must be pretty cool to be able to tour with your families now?
Donald: We've said: tour happy, die happy.
Tony: Well, that was the point of the record, you know? Homesick / Roadsick, you wanna have your family with you as much as you can, and keep them involved as much as you can. That was the point.
Donald: We realise that we're really lucky to be able to do this: touring is a privilege. So if you can bring your team along...instead of being like "oh God, we're going out on tour, I'll see you six months", it's amazing!


About half an hour later, and a handful more whisky shots under my belt, I was down the front watching Donald, Tony and their other band mates tearing the Underworld apart. They delivered a sublime set of melodic, soaring pop-punk, with tracks from Homesick / Roadsick dispersed brilliantly with older songs. There's no doubt this was one of the best gigs I've been to this year. Versus The World are a band you need to check out, and soon.