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.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Manchester Punk Festival Preview: The Human Project

Ahead of their slot at this weekend's Manchester Punk Festival, we caught up with Luke from The Human Project...


The Punk Archive: Hey guys, introduce yourselves to our readers?
Luke: Hello! We're The Human Project, a punk rock band from Leeds (and London, but ssshhhhh!). We play fast, melodic punk rock, mixed with a bit of yelling and lots of jumping around!

The Punk Archive: How did you get into music?
Luke: I personally had a strange introduction to the world of music: I play violin, which I took up at the age of 5, so I played a lot of classical music, and played in orchestras up until the age of 18 or 19! I still love all that, but goddamn my uncle for letting me borrow The Offspring's Americana when I was about 13 or 14 because that opened the floodgates and from then on I've been pretty much obsessed with punk, rock and metal.
Having said that, the first album I ever bought was Affirmation by Savage Garden…….so there's that……….

The Punk Archive: What are your musical influences?
Luke: As a band, we wear our main influences pretty proudly, some obvious ones being Propagandhi, A Wilhelm Scream, Ignite, Rise Against et al, but there are a lot of other, particularly non-'fast', influences too, from Refused, Every Time I Die and The Bronx on the heavier side, through more traditional hardcore roots, particularly Gorilla Biscuits and Minor Threat for me, but we also listen to a lot of poppier stuff like Motion City Soundtrack.
Personally in my guitar work, I take a lot of influence from more prog-y rock bands like Oceansize, The Mars Volta and Teppei from Thrice's use of effects. RX Bandits have also inspired us a lot!

The Punk Archive: You've just released a new video to The Beautiful Shame. How has the response been to that? 
Luke: It's been brilliant: we're knocking on for 5000 views in under two months, which we're really chuffed about, plus the general consensus seems to be that it looks great, which is always nice! I can't really take any credit for that myself, but Jonny (Vocals, Guitar) organised all the setup and camera-work along with a couple of his colleagues and Joe (Bass, Vocals) spent many nights into the wee small hours doing the edit, which I'm particularly happy with because he managed to make me not look as insanely hungover as I was haha!


The Punk Archive: Your lyrics are very current. How do you choose which issues to write on?
Luke: For me, I'll often be mulling over a topic in my head which might be being discussed on the radio or in a paper, trying to work out what I really think about it, and maybe a phrase or hook of some kind will present itself from that internal dialogue which might develop into a chorus or the start of a song and it'll go from there, but I think we usually take our inspiration from topical events, which keeps things current.
We all have a lot of opinions on most things, so it's not very often we find ourselves short of subject matter! Sometimes we will have different opinions on things though, so we always try and chat through things as we're writing to make sure nobody's being asked to yell a gang vocal they don't fully support.

The Punk Archive: What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
Luke: 2015 is our most exciting year yet! We've got tours coming up with Ignite and H2O, as well as dates with Capdown, Random Hand and hopefully a run of headline dates in June and July.
We're also playing an absolute stonker of a festival in the shape of Manchester Punk Festival this Saturday, which we're really looking forward to!
Other than that, we've already begun working on our second album, which we're hoping to start recording towards the end of the year. We're already really excited about the ideas we have floating around and we can't wait to get them finished and out!


Manchester Punk Festival is this weekend. Head to http://manchesterpunkfestival.co.uk/site/ for details.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Islasorna: E.D.E.N

Artist: Islasorna
Title: E.D.E.N
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 1st June 2015
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman


Scottish five piece Islasorna come crashing head (or drummer) first out of Edinburgh with their debut EP E.D.E.N. The band's percussive sound and focus is a reckonable force. A more interesting, ambitious, and resultantly varied sound than on their July 2014 single Deadweight, E.D.E.N is a different metal. There are plenty of indulgent prog aspects through the atmospheric scale and technically fluent skill in the melodies, and the short EP manages to play out somewhat like a concept album. 
The usual hardcore metal is broken down refreshingly, succumbing to its own dooming heaviness, given an industrial production, and the themes and lyrics occasionally seem to try and resynthesise a darker retelling or starting again of the creation story. Opening with Obliteration and ending with its eponymous track, E.D.E.N suggests an album of biblically heavy riffing. 
Obliteration warms up with some ominous Eastern-influenced guitar and a perfectly screamed refrain warning of "the end of the world". The track ends with a bassy monologue that sets out the album's rationale whilst mentioning the fear of absence of the creation story's command (let there be light) a fear of the dark, in its setting up the next track, Achluophobia. Here the guitar chords ring out with dramatic dissonance, the distortion hanging between bars, waiting for the drummer to queue their return. The song structure at several points throughout E.D.E.N sounds as if it has the drummer acting as de facto conductor. All the instruments play in a cohesive but sparse manner tied with strict rhythmic bonds; it's often as if not individual instruments are heard but an overall crushing sound. There's an actual bite to the guitar's combination with the bass that puts a digital warp on classic metal distortion. This is a slow yet still intense sort of industrial heaviness, with sludgy precision and polished delivery. High screeching scalic runs speed up the procession and top some of the most decadent death metal fretwork.
Judas offers some chilling respite. With the peaceful loop of its clean guitar tones, stripped back drum beat, and cooing lyrics, the verse hints of Underoath's Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape (or preferably its bonus track reprise, Smic Taque), which will bring back some pleasant memories in listeners. Whilst it's got a nice feel to it, it's not the most special track, but there's some decent movement to it in the way it mixes between an almost cheesy soothing ballad and its heavier final section.
Choices will aptly form many fan's favourite. The gallop of the guitar and drum's double bass pedal is used to devastating effect alongside some energetic vocals. There's an almost Dragonforce style speed and technicality to some of its more digressive passages. This song throws out plenty of ideas in its spring clean of genres, instructing us to "Rebuild what's left of the world"; it's evident that the day Islasorna created this tune they were certainly not resting. 
4—2—8 takes a similarly wayward route to Choices, winning out with its originality, combined with the high frequency of undeniably powerful riffs that can only come from independently sentient fingers. Probably the strongest track, Islasorna really show their comfort amongst their heaviness through some nice touches: the distinctive, slightly cracked digital tone, the obnoxious "ha" to iterate one of the transitions, and the expansively abrasive knit of song structure.
The prior chaos is removed by some truly peaceful synth in the intro to final track E.D.E.N. Walking beside a river when first hearing this was a good moment. Must recommend headphones for this intro, where the distant chords from the keys signifies the creation of this restarted E.D.E.N: but the headphones might soon quickly come off with the emergence of the slightly auto tuned clean vocals. Though the new human voice suits the creation themes, it's ultimately a bit off-putting, but despite its slight annoyances, the track's various layers, roaring unclean vocal, and military drumbeat admittedly create an atmospheric ending to the record. 
The album does require a few listens; its complexity isn't immediately gripping, but it plays as a grower. There's plenty of original moments of mathy-inspired hardcore smoothed over into darker metal planes that should impress people in swarms following its June release. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Midwestern Charm: Growing Pains

Artist: The Midwestern Charm
Title: Growing Pains
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 21st April 2015
Reviewed By: Rania Watts


After listening to Growing Pains, The Midwestern Charm's new album due for release on 21st April, I had to force myself to finally write this review. Not because there was anything egregious about the songs but because I just wanted to listen to it more. The Midwestern Charm affords the listener a moment to be transported into the deep crevices of one's own memories. There were so many things about both the lyrics and the melodies that completely sucked me in!

The Midwestern Charm have admitted that their largest influence is the brilliant Gin Blossoms, and this is evident in the soft undertones of their sound. I also heard hints of other bands, including 54-40, Green Day & Barenaked Ladies (who happened to be amongst some of my favourite artists to listen to while I was growing up, especially during the teen invisibility-angst riddled years).

There is something very empowering about the technique The Midwestern Charm utilises in this record. It balances our life experiences which have driven us insane with those which have provided tremendous bliss. This album combines that exquisitely achieved quality with emotive, relatable lyrics that peak human expression quite nicely. Now, pair that with sardonic sorrow blended with the perfect amount of happy sarcasm for the luscious sounds: your ears get more than they bargained for with the diversity here.

There are so many aspects of Growing Pains that I simply relished; for one, none of the songs sound the same. I've been contemplating the best way to describe this band in a manner that would not resemble too much insanity and this metaphor is what I came up with; it's like a baker creating a multi-flavoured pie with each slice filled with a different flavour.  The diversity from song to song is another thing that completely sucked me in.  Bloodbath starts with a luscious bass line with the introductions of the lyrics:

"I've been wasted and spat on,
beat up and stepped on,
chocked up and cursed at,
my head's been a bloodbath" 

I am completely in love with authentic, pure and raw expression between the mellow percussions, lyrics and vocals. I also should point out more scribing begging to be taken away with someone once again relatable to pure human emotion.  

Another great song I thoroughly enjoyed is Lush; I swear, embedded between the 4/4 timing that I could hear a little bit of The Cure. It has that upbeat darkness, not only within the instrumental tracks but also a little bit in the sultry, scratchy, loud timber of the vocals. The cymbals will most certainly keep your feet tapping, making you wish that you had a bass drum or even a tambourine to follow along with. The two bars of hyper drum beating had me yearning for more.

As you can tell from my review, all in all I would have to say that this really is a good listen, one worth investing in.  

Runaway Brother: Mother

Artist: Runaway Brother
Title: Mother
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 31st March 2015
Reviewed By: Toby Walkley

Even after multiple listens to Mother, the debut album from Cleveland, Ohio's Runaway Brother, they remain something of an enigma. Having started this review with no prior knowledge of them to go on I had a genuine opportunity to listen to something brand new and review it entirely on its own merit, rather than judging on prior work or experience of the band. This was a genuinely refreshing experience.
Opener Harvest is a slow build, the (almost too) bittersweet vocal sitting over a stripped back guitar as the dynamic twists and builds into a full-on chorus section as the drums begin. As the vocals hit a higher register in the bridge section we're suddenly in territory much more reminiscent of The Flaming Lips at their best. Then the second song Moth completely blows away anything I've just been thinking as the band does something entirely different. Vocalist Jacob Lee really explodes on this track: his anguished, desperate vocal invoking in me the same raw excitement I had the first time I heard Young Hearts Spark Fire by Japandroids.
What I really like here is the sense of ambition within the composition of each song. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus this is not. Here we have multiple concepts all rolled together, often several times in the same song, yet there's never a sense of things being disjointed. You get the feeling these aren't meant to be songs you digest in one sitting and can then sing along to immediately, but rather intense and individual snapshots of a band really finding its swing.
Closing track Youniverse, the longest on the album at just over seven minutes, begins as a haunting, angst-ridden piece that would make even Billy Corgan jealous. As the dynamic rises and becomes more aggressive we experience a sudden shift in time signature as a more shoegaze-inspired guitar riff takes over. This builds again and we get some wonderfully layered guitars, ironically very reminiscent of early Smashing Pumpkins, before the track slowly unwinds into silence. Youniverse almost feels like the entire proceeding album compressed into one song and is a fitting finale that genuinely does bring together the many ideas expressed throughout Mother.
I don't think anyone who listens to music ever wants to feel that they're being clubbed over the head by the brilliance of an artist. It has to be more organic than that, allowing the listener to feel a connection with that artist. The music, and only the music, should do all the talking and it certainly does that here. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't get the sense Runaway Brother are looking to be an instant hit in the same way as more commercial bands. To expect this of them would also be a disservice to what they've crafted with this album. There are a wide variety of styles and influences on offer here, but everything gels together with a sense of balance that's frighteningly good for a debut album. This really could be a band that achieves creative longevity, but more importantly a lasting legacy.
Best of all there's a sense of beauty in simplicity about every song that flies completely in the face of the musical and lyrical virtuosity on display. That's a rare skill, perhaps best seen in bands like Weezer and Wilco. If Runaway Brother continue on their current trajectory, it won't be a stretch to see them being held in the same esteem as these bands very soon.    

Monday, 13 April 2015

Popes Of Chillitown: To The Moon

Artist: Popes Of Chillitown
Title: To The Moon
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 15th May 2015
Reviewed By: Millie Manders


Popes of Chillitown have been around for a while, since 2006 in fact. They have had a couple of line up changes, most notably the departure of co-vocalist Austin a year ago, but that hasn't meant a negative direction for Popes. In fact this, their second studio album and their fourth release, is their best work yet. Without having left behind any of their fun and fury, Popes have matured their sound and packed their latest offering full of heart and intelligence. Having seen a fair amount of these tracks played live I can truthfully say the party is as vivid on the stage as it is on this release.

Vamos La Luna sets the mood of the album. There's a great build up before the track explodes into a ska frenzy before coming back into dub-heavy verse. The lyric "to the moon" features in the bridges, harking back to the album tiltle. A clever opener to a great album. Clever, almost Spanish horn hooks. Vamos A La Luna directly translates to "Fly me to the moon". Nice.

OOMP: Matt has a wonderful way of creating a party track while bringing a story, often with a message in his lyrics. This one touches on the short-sightedness of the first world society.

To The Moon is a non-stop carnival-coaster of dub, scratch ska and punk.  It's high energy from the opening chord to the closing fade. The instrumentation throughout is expertly executed and tight as a squirrel's nut. The whole record has more head nod than a box of nodding dogs and more knees up than your average upper class wedding.

Voluntary Execution is deliciously salsa-like. It's difficult not to start imitating Shakira's hip wiggles as I'm trying to concentrate on the lyrics; which by the way are typically dark, full of anger and disappointment.  

The horns are perfect staccato exclamation marks to the upstroke guitars, dubby bass and military precision of the drums and Matt's incredible vocal range and ability. He can sing beautifully and so fast you need to listen at least twice to hear the lyrics properly: however the annunciation makes that a great deal easier and is a testament to his talents.

I could genuinely run through why I like each track so much, and it's safe to say I think this album is brilliant start to finish. While Popes of Chillitown have managed to independently produce a great sounding record they have still maintained a rawness to the production allowing the listener to really feel what their live energy is like.

One last one: Wisdom Teeth. Starting off with 6/8 triplets, massive horn hooks, crunching guitars and an opening vocal that pokes fun at the very fabric of life is the track that stuck with me having seen it live even before I got my grubby mitts on the album. This track gets me skanking like a demon and makes my throat raw from singing along. My absolute favourite.

Popes of Chillitown release To The Moon on May 15th 2015 and have a launch party upstairs at The Garage in Islington the same night. They are currently on tour around the UK and Europe and I highly recommend getting to a show if you can.


The Punk Archive is delighted to be supporting Popes Of Chillitown's launch party with a DJ Set. Tickets for the event are available here: http://www.seetickets.com/event/popes-of-chillitown/upstairs-the-garage/861108

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Come The Spring: Revive

Artist: Come The Spring
Title: Revive
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 11th March 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton

Sometimes you come across a band you haven't heard before and they grab you by the throat, shake you about and leave you wondering what just happened. This isn't one of those moments. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad EP and these Brighton boys can definitely play but, for me anyway, there's something missing. 
It's difficult to say exactly what it is as the music covers the whole emo/alt/rock/punk spectrum, but maybe that's it. They spread themselves perhaps too thinly, to try and appeal to a bigger audience. The music is certainly epic, passionate and in some moments angry, and their ear for melody constantly keeps you interested.
Opening track, 24, plays to their strengths of song writing, melody and raw vocals. The rhythmic drums drive the song along and vocalist Sam Craddock simply crackles with emotion. It threatens to, but never quite takes off. Winterlude follows and after a gentle intro the single verse breathes life in to the track. I really wanted them to keep going with this but after that verse it abruptly ends.
Next track Memory and Resonance is an emotive track of lost love and is a great example of Craddock's throaty roar whilst fourth track Air That I'm Breathing is a melodic alt-rock number which features some great guitar work. The chorus is an anthem in waiting.
The final two tracks here, Maps and Homesick and Tired are probably the strongest on the record. Maps is another impassioned song and yet again the strength of Craddock's vocals shine through. One minute he can be intimate and ferocious the next. Last song Homesick and Tired is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Sailing close to Frank Turner territory this track bristles with punk attitude and melody.
Overall, it's an interesting EP and I'd definitely like to hear where they go next as with a little tweak these boys could really go places.

Lacey: Under The Brightest Lights

Artist: Lacey
Title: Under The Brightest Lights
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 20th April 2015
Reviewed By: Toby Walkley


Having recently completed touring with People On Vacation, Nottingham-based rockers Lacey look set for big things with the release of their debut album Under The Brightest Lights on April 20th.  
There's plenty of pop-rock bounciness throughout with power chords and melodic lead guitar in abundance. Both lyrically and musically Lacey draw comparisons with bands such as Taking Back Sunday and Funeral For A Friend, yet there's also a definite sprinkling of classic Jimmy Eat World in there too. At certain points in fact, vocalist Graz Turner sounds so like Jim Adkins I actually thought he was a guest on the album.  
Single Tonight has all the components of a chart topper, beginning with a soaring lead guitar that sets the scene for the song to come. There's a nice sense of space for all the instrumentation to work here, and the vocals blend well with the lead guitar to provide a triumphant lift in the chorus sections. The backing vocals finish things off, giving the song a radio-friendly edge that's sure to have fans singing along in droves. 
The production on the album is carefully considered, rising and falling then rising again into a strong melodic finish. You don't feel like there are any filler tracks here, just an incredibly solid set of compositions by a hard working band set to make good.
The only criticisms I can find with this album are minor. Sure, I'd like a bit less of the sing-along backing vocals and a little more grit, but these are just personal opinions. If I want more grit, I'll listen to Iggy And The Stooges.  The point is that if I find myself craving well-crafted pop rock, I've got a new band to listen to. Better still, they're a genuine home grown talent, and who doesn't like taking a little patriotic pride in the bands we have to offer? It's infinitely preferable to politics after all...
I have to remember that the key here is objectivity over my own irrationality. I'm notoriously hard to please when it comes to new music and I'm often sceptical when someone tells me about a band being 'the next big thing' or 'something different' because I'm almost always disappointed with the results.  
Lacey avoid this disappointment by making no such assertions. Within this particular area of the pop-rock genre, they've crafted an album where everything is exactly as it's supposed to be. Sometimes the best things in life, and in this case music, don't have to be new, they just need to be done well, and sometimes my irrational side has to give way to the rational one when it tells me to shut up and dance.