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.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hellwinners: Hellwinners

Artist: Hellwinners
Title: Hellwinners (S/T)
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 7th July 2014
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

Sometimes, there's nothing better than your eardrums being pummelled into a state of submission by some frantic, aggressive, never-letting-up punk rock. For those times, there's Hellwinners.

A furious mix of pop-punk, straight-up punk rock, and skate-punk, this Brighton trio combine a ridiculous amount of energy with the melody and passion and a knack for writing an incredibly hooky song.

The EP opens with Living Like Statues, and sets the tone for the rest of the four-track release. Max's drums keep the song bouncing along at a frantic speed, while the technical guitar elements combined with the bludgeoning of the more straightforward parts of the versa add up to a hugely successful, multi-layered and truly unique punk song. I will hold my hands up and say I didn't necessarily have massive expectations for Hellwinners, but Living Like Statues quickly and defiantly thrust that thought back down my throat...

The next song, and my personal favourite here, is Wired Awake, for which the band have just released a video. What really stands out here is the melody in the chorus: it's one of the most perfect melodies I've heard for some time. It's also impossibly catchy, and the track overall is one I simply can't sit still to. Again, the drums power the track along, and the throaty, guttural nature of Tristan's vocals through the verses (they're much, much smoother in the choruses) are a brilliantly sharp edge which suit the EP's feel perfectly. There's also something about Wired Awake which makes it a very unique song: I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but it's easily one of 2014's standout tracks for me personally.

Down The River starts on a much more upbeat tone, the guitar notes being that little bit higher, and Tristan's vocal being marginally smoother and more floating across the jagged peaks of the drumming. This one's a bit less frantic, but remains a technically complex song and one which you uncover extra elements to every time you listen. Lyrically, Down The River is strong, too, but it does feel a little to me like the band have set out to write a 'big' chorus here, not naturally let it evolve. It's one of the least catchy tracks on the EP: but, to be fair, when compared to the other three songs here that's no criticism.

EP closer, Back From The Future, is another brilliant song and a perfect way to end the EP and leave listeners wanting more. It's a really triumphant sounding song, one which soars brilliantly, hooks carrying the listener along in the eddying pools of it's rhythm. A fairly simple punk song, it's one which shows true grit and passion. A fitting way to end the EP.

Hellwinners are showing all the signs of being a truly brilliant band. Get on board with them now: you won't be disappointed.

Ghouls: Great Expectations EP

Artist: Ghouls
Title: Great Expectations
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 31st October 2014
Reviewed By: Rania Watts


BIG, BOLD, BRASS! 

The most amazing aspect of receiving a new music selection to review from The Punk Archive is that one will NEVER know what expect until you slide, click or press play.  

On Halloween, a few short weeks ago the sensational London-based band Ghouls released their new EP entitled Great Expectations. If I were you, the minute you finish the last word of this review I would go out and immediately buy the four-track record. The multi-layered authentic sound is something I'd never heard before; it is truly worth absorbing with every fibre of your essence. Never in my life did I think brass would ever hold its own, in the world of punk or even mix well for that matter. You know what? Great Expectations is a fabulous collaboration between these five incredibly talented musicians who formed Ghouls! 

The majority of the time before I start writing I like to listen to the music for a while, permit the pictures and phrases to develop in an organic fashion throughout my third eye. The minute I heard Great Expectations I reached for my quill and parchment. I could not believe, I was moved to commence writing about everything and anything related to Ghouls and their idiosyncratic sound instantly. 

Ghouls' Great Expectations according to Rania

Great Expectations: The merging of gypsy worlds from the days of old brought forth to a contemporary moment of time. Funny thing, before I researched this group, that is the one constant recurring thought I found myself having, the gypsy and eclectic emotions which vibrate so brilliantly in this song. More specifically, this piece reminds me of American based band Panic! at the Disco's 9 in the Afternoon. I could very easily envision this distinct song playing in the background of a roller coaster ride at Coney Island amplifying the endorphins prior to stepping on The Thunderbolt with my half-laced Docs.

"Ring me up to apologise 
A question in disguise 
Do I stay safe with the same reply 
Tell the truth to tell a lie 

It's not logical 
It's psychological" 

Nice To Know You: A memory-inducing piece, of rebuilding one's self-esteem after a devastating break into the nothingness. One scene remains static throughout as I listen, it is the final backdrop from George Orwell’s novel 1984 where Winston and Julia are simply numb to each other after all the hardship that was endured at the hands of others. The remnants of a passionate explosion between two people, along with the profound impact of that separation.  

"It was nice to know your name 
When I see you again 
They'll be nothing more than an awkward situation 
And it was nice to know my place 
When I see you again 
I guess I'll go to avoid that conversation 

and It's not that I'm feeling horrible 
It's I just don't really understand why 
and where it's all gone"

Gone Fishing: The whimsical and quirky lyrics are reminiscent of Toronto based band Barenaked Ladies, specifically If I Had A Million Dollars. The theory of time and the importance of permitting fun and carefree moments to enter our lives blinded, by where we are currently in our personal worlds. Conceptualized simply with the quiet radiance of fishing regardless: if it is a tactile experience with your hand firmly grasped to the pole or being on a boat with one lost oar on the water and simply saying "fuck it", let me just be.     

“Friend, we moved on from that world 
Lost communication between jobs, between girls 
But now I'm sat here in my room, looking for something to do 
Remembering time well spent when 
I was wasting it with you”

Being Me:  Out of all four songs on the Great Expectations EP this one if my utmost favourite. This piece moves me to weep. Individualization in this world is integral to our survival. The world has settled in cookie cutter shapes lacking uniqueness. This composition brings it out in never mind buckets, but Grand Canyon-loads of working hard while maintaining who we genuinely are under our superficial shells. 

“But that's the way life goes I'm told 
They said I'd figure it out when I was older 
But so far I know one thing 
and thats, I just want to be me 

and I might not play Reading, I might not play Leeds. 
I might not ever make it to Glastonbury. 
And I might not play Warped Tour, I might not make it, 
but at least I'll have the memories of the things we did.”

For those of you living in the UK or Europe you are quite fortunate indeed, especially from the dates of November 21st to December 6th as that is when Ghouls will be performing. Prepare your boots, car, bike, bus, boat, train or plane tickets: you want to go and listen!  

Even after a busy day, I can honestly think of no better way to unwind than with a live performance from Ghouls. 


I will close with this final thought….if a melody adheres itself to your core, even during story time while Itsy Bitsy Spider is being sung by twenty screaming children at massive volume, all you hear from a distance is the inviting verse of the remarkable fusion you left behind at home. You will step on poor Itsy and listen with bended ear until your aura absorbs the sound into your inner world… 

The Future Dub Project: Captain Hook

Artist: The Future Dub Project
Title: Captain Hook
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 3rd November 2014
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

We first became aware of The Future Dub Project through their recent collaboration with East London reggae outfit The Skints and liked what we heard. Their modern take on dub, combined with a smooth, electronic backdrop, was music perfect to suit any mood. Consequently, when we had the opportunity to have a listen to their new EP, Captain Hook, we jumped at the chance.

The EP is made up of two tracks, both remixed a number of times. Lead track Captain Hook is without a doubt the stronger of the two (and suits us here at The Punk Archive a lot more). It has a brilliantly smooth backing track, combined with ska-tinged trumpets courtesy of the legendary Jonny Murray. The verse, smooth and mellow, contrasts brilliantly with the chorus, which is a bouncy, dance-ska party. Lyrically, Ashley James' vocals complement the track perfectly, with their deep, soulful tinge. It's a really good track and one which could happily suit the early hours at a party, or a slow Sunday morning in the sun.

While Boogie Walk, the other track on the EP, is far from a bad song in it's own right, and displays The Future Dub Project's vast agility, for me personally it leaves the reggae / dub genre a little too far behind. Elements of dubstep seem to take over, and the electronic feel to the track with Sarah Iman Telman's vocal and the dance backing track on the chorus, while working well, sound far more 'house' than dub. Again, this doesn't make it a bad track, and shows off how much skill they have, but just doesn't suit my personal preferences.

This EP, though, is certainly an exciting one in that it shows that the future of dub and reggae music has great potential. Collaborations with artists such as The Skints and Will And The People show this collective's place in the industry is well deserved. Certainly one to keep an eye on...

Friday, 21 November 2014

Live: Against Me!

Headliner: Against Me!
Support: Billy The Kid
Where: Electric Ballroom, Camden
When: 19th November 2014
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

Standing in Camden's Electric Ballroom a little earlier this week, I already knew this was going to be a tricky review to write. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Billy The Kid (Billy Pettinger, acoustic punk singer-songwriter and support act to Against Me!) was, from my position mid-way back near the sound desk, essentially inaudible while speaking between tracks, and very quiet while playing... and consequently, thus, tricky to review.
  • I had thought I knew a large amount of Against Me!'s back catalogue. It transpired this was not the case, so despite knowing their three latest albums well, there was a lot played here which I didn't know well.
  • Finally, and probably the main reason for my relative writer's block on this show: I simply don't know what to make of it and how to present that in any sort of readable format.
I have a few salient points to make before getting into the review proper. Firstly, it was excellent to see Frank Turner join Billy The Kid on stage. From what I could hear of her (see first point above), Billy was excellent, with a strong voice and catchy, stripped back, folky-acoustic punk songs.

Secondly, despite having seen a huge amount of bands and consequently a huge amount of incredible drummers, I will quite happily say Atom Willard of Against Me! is easily one of, if not the best drummer I've ever seen live. The sheer speed, energy and what appears to be joyful vitriol with which he tears around his kit is an absolute art form and needs to be seen to be believed.

So, the gig. I don't want to talk too much about recent changes within the Against Me! camp; while equally, this was the first opportunity I have had to see the band since Laura's transition. Her stellar work in bringing the transgender agenda into the public forum has put her on the lips of many, her name almost becoming a household one with appearances on international television and in many widely-read publications. I had wondered, ahead of the gig, as to whether this would affect the musical element of her life.

I needn't have worried: the band were undoubtedly excellent as a whole, with Laura herself being equally strong. They sailed smoothly and almost serenely through an energetic set, one which had barely any pauses to catch breath for the first three-quarters of an hour. For me, I Was A Teenage Anarchist was a highlight, but there were many tracks which were excellent.

However, and I'm not quite sure why, but the gig just left me strangely cold. To be absolutely honest, I am attributing that to my poor knowledge of the band's back catalogue, and having not listened to the latest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues for some time; but it struck me that what I was enjoying most was watching Atom pound his drumkit into submission...

Hence: I'm not sure what to make of the gig and hence why I found this such a tricky review to write. To all intents and purposes, it was an excellent gig. I can't describe why, but it just left me feeling slightly disappointed. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

World Exclusive: Soldiers Of A Wrong War: Slow

We at The Punk Archive are delighted to have the world exclusive on this, the brand new video from Italian rockers Soldiers Of A Wrong War for lead track off their new EP, Slow...


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Interview: ROAM

In the light of them signing to Hopeless Records, we caught up with Sam from UK pop-punk upstarts ROAM...


The Punk Archive: Hey Sam. So you're signed to Hopeless now. How do you feel?
Sam: It feels pretty great! Still don't think it's quite sunk in all that has happened yet. It's a pleasure to be on a label with such good bands that we all love listening to as well.

The Punk Archive: You worked with Seb and Drew on the EP, both of whom have worked with some incredible bands. How was that?
Sam: It was really good to work with both of them. Drew was an absolute pleasure to work with, he definitely worked us hard and brought out the best in us. He also had Trials HD which at one point came more important than recording the EP. Seb was great as well, he completely understood and nailed the vocal sound we were going for. Couldn't recommend Steel City Studios enough for bands looking to record. 

The Punk Archive: Are you pleased with the final EP? Did it turn out exactly as you wanted it and were there any issues along the recording and writing process?
Sam: I think we're all super happy with how it turned out both musically and production wise. I can't think of any major problems we had; of course, the songs changed a little once we got into the studio but apart from that and deciding whether I should track guitars or complete the next level of Trials it was all good! I think as band we all love the experience of recording. 

The Punk Archive: UK pop-punk is making a massive revival at the moment. Are you pleased to be leading that revival with bands such as Neck Deep and more?
Sam: It’s crazy that you guys think we are amongst the ones that are leading it but yeah the scene is definitely growing more and more which is great. There's so many good bands now like Light You Up, As It Is, Trash Boat, Boston Manor, Homebound, Six Time Champion and many others who are all doing great stuff at the moment.

The Punk Archive: How do you keep your sound distinctly ROAM, though, in the presence of other bands?
Sam: Hard question. I don't think we think of it like that as such; we don't necessarily write with the mindset of making it sound like ROAM, we just kind of write it! I guess in terms of what ROAM sounds like, it’s a more melodic and somewhat aggressive form of pop-punk.

The Punk Archive: Where do you get your main songwriting influences from? 
Sam: I think collectively we all grew up listening to bands like Sum41 and Blink, as well as more recent bands like Set Your Goals and Crucial Dudes. But we all completely have our own tastes be it hardcore, nu-metal, emo or whatever, even 80s pop and musicals (Charlie).

The Punk Archive: What does 2015 hold for ROAM?
Sam: I think 2015 for us going to a stupidly busy year with a load of touring in some new places and the release of our debut album. I can't wait for it.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Post Season: Hollowed Out Hearts

Artist: Post Season
Title: Hollowed Out Hearts
Format Reviewed: Stream
Format Released: 25th October 2014 (MP3)
Reviewed By: Adam DT


For a little while now it has felt like pop-punk has been taking itself too seriously. It has moved away from its foul-mouth, dick humour and DIY origins into being the younger, less cool brother of Alt-Rock and Metalcore. It has started to resemble an emotionally sensitive kid with a fringe, a book of bad poetry and a lip ring. It is synonymous with emo. It is Pete Wentz, basically.

But here is a fun fact: I had a fringe, I had a book of dreadful poetry and I still have a lip ring. I like my pop-punk and, with that in mind, I have to say that Hollowed Out Hearts by Post Season is a solid EP, despite the lack of dick jokes.

Frankly, it doesn't start all that strong. Opening number No Brains, No Headache feels like a B-side or forgettable album filler. It is fast paced pop-punk by numbers that is equal parts Hit The Lights and The Starting Line, but with none of the key selling points of either.


It is followed by the title track of the EP which, it is fair to say, steps things up a notch. It's a good example of the modern day, Kerrang! Radio friendly rock that hits its pace quickly and stays there, consistently throwing out catchy, bouncy melancholy. A classic palm muted breakdown bursts into a confident, faintly post-rock half time ending that left me wondering favourably about its live potential. It's not quite the song writing excellence of such genre classics as All Time Low's Dear Maria, Count Me In, but it isn't too far off.

The rest of the EP follows much the same route. My Bad is more of an interlude than a song, just one minute, six seconds of acoustic guitar and distant crashy drums that lead neatly into penultimate track Picture Frame Eyes. Again, this is a well shaped, angsty slice of anthemic rock-pop with subtle guitar lines and a rewardingly chunky chorus. The final track, It's All Part Of It, is another fast, gang-vocal-and-mosh kind of affair with puberty-induced reflective lyrics and, overall, it's hard not to enjoy (assuming you are into that kind of thing).

I can't pretend that I didn't have fun with this EP, and if you like The Starting Line, Hit The Lights and Fall Out Boy then it's fair to say that you will probably get something out of it too. I should say, however, that originality isn't something that Post Season can rightfully be accused of. There is unquestionably the spark of good songwriting here, they've hit the genre on the head and I know that I would have been into this when I was 16. But that was nearly ten years ago now and it might have been nice to see a little musical progression. That said, I suppose pop-punk works for a reason: and if this EP appeals to a new generation of fans that haven't heard it one too many times already, then fair enough I suppose.