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, 1 September 2015

Live: Anti-Flag

Headliner: Anti-Flag
Support: Brawlers
When: 9th August 2015
Where: The Marble Factory, Bristol
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman


The Marble Factory is a dingily lit, decently mid-sized venue attached to Bristol's Motion. The pillars holding up the warehouse wore rubber tyres like bangles, useful for rebounding back into the pit and at the same time saving the crowd a few bruises. The walkway to the toilet felt like a hospital corridor, brightly lit and clinically bare, down which the distorted echo of instruments made a nice reinterpretation of the support act's sound. Brawlers had a warbling melodic vocalist who delivered just enough grit. The Leeds-conceived four-piece powered through a good set, which was doubly enthused by it being the lead singer's birthday: a cheeky bloke who rocked underneath his beanie hat, carrying the band's efforts competently through a series of beefy, bass-heavy punk-rock riffs.
Taking a modest breather between songs, the singer urges everyone to reach into their pockets to feign a special moment with a simultaneous cameraphone session. Once most of the crowd had raised their devices in their palms, he shouts out that all should turn them off since we're at a "bloody live gig", right before the distorted guitars revved up into a perfect segue for Instagram Famous, a catchy track that raises its eyebrows at technology's more self-indulgent side. To be fair most people would never have got a decent shot anyway, especially with the amount of sweat to come during Anti-Flag, where I swear the perspiration caused a slickly warm punk mist to fill the venue. Brawler's low-fi sound gave credence to their nostalgia-inducing songs. As the bassist started to strut among the audience during their final tune you could hear that Brawlers played with the feel of a band that were shortly off to greater things, and definitely sounded like they had the ability to match it.
After a brief turnover Anti Flag's banner hung above the stage, and an eager audience packed closely beneath it. The moshpit, an inevitably created violent yet friendly jig, formed almost instantly, and in full force, though as soon as anyone fell everyone would help them back on their feet. Anti-Flag seemed to feed off the crowd's willingness and responded with some of their shorter classics such as the breakneck Drink Drank Punk which, with all its 1:41 of punk rock partying, managed to precipitate the sweatiest round of under-arm rubbing moshing I've ever taken part in.
Anti-Flag's set was a decent mixture of songs across their discography. Their experience, attitude, and evidently die-hard fanbase gives them the confidence and ability to engage a crowd with their between-song speeches just as much as their music. Despite this they never got carried away with talking and made sure that the audience was always kept busy.
Though I've been shamefully unversed in Anti-Flag's output, hearing some of their powerful choruses and seeing the crowd's reaction explained why so many of their tunes had long ago rooted into their fan's minds. Many of their songs' anthemic moments and the band's anti-war and equality messages combined with the band's tight teamwork and rapid instrument-hammering evidently makes it mean so much to the fans. This Is the End (For You My Friend) showcased a hard-hitting pre-chorus before its irresistibly catchy chorus as "on and on" they sing their songs. From those punters who weren't repeatedly having their lungs rattled around by the moshpit, some inevitable whoah-ing was mustered towards the track's epic close. 
Amongst congratulations of "we've been Ant-Eye Flag, you've been awesome", a human chain of bandmates passed the snare, hi-hat, bass, and drum chair into the centre of the crowd. The drummer sat on the bassist's feet, who balanced up on the stool with his toes wedged between the chair and his bandmate's arse. From this acrobatic position the drummer hit the audience with blastbeats for the last few songs of the night, and the audience gathered round the pair like a hay bale of limbs.
Aided by Brawlers and the supportive public, Anti-Flag made for a gig that was an obscene amount of fun for a Sunday night, one that was worth sabotaging your Monday for.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Live: The Offspring

Headliner: The Offspring
Support: The Menzingers, Bright Young People
When: 26th August 2015
Where: Brixton Academy
Reviewed By: Quinn

I would like to have written a little bit about Bright Young People who opened Wednesday night's show, however we made what turned out to be a colossal mistake by opting to eat in BBQ Express before the show: there was nothing "express" about it. After waiting fifteen minutes for our food, they had lost one of our orders and then took another five minutes deliberating as to whether to give a free wrap to compensate. It was a nightmare, and meant we missed the majority of Bright Young People's set, coming in at the end for the last song.

We didn't have long to wait for The Menzingers to take the stage (which they did to sound of Daryl Hall and John Oates' 1981 hit You Make My Dreams Come True') opening with I Don't Wanna be an Asshole Anymore before swiftly moving onto everyone's favourite Menzingers song, The Obituaries.  It was here that I realised that most people in the crowed were substantially older than me, and at 27 I’m no spring chicken. Seeing as The Offspring have been making music for over twenty-five years, it stands to reason a lot of the crowd will be in their late 30s or early 40s, and because of this there was a deafening wave of silence from the crowed as the chorus kicked in and everyone stood there politely watching a band none of them had heard of. It's a real shame because "I will fuck this up, I fucking know it" ought to have had the entire crowd shouting the lyrics back and affecting the structural integrity of the venue by threatening to tear the roof from its supports, however that wasn't the case, and the band had to contend with a crowd that looked so unimpressed even if Jesus had distributed a gourmet meal comprised of Brixton market's left-over fish produce barely a murmur of appreciation would have stirred around the building. They moved through their set, giving it their all playing tracks from throughout their career such as I Was Born and Good Things, receiving polite golf claps before they finished their half hour on stage with In Remission.

Why it takes half an hour to set the stage for a band whose gear is already on it will always baffle me, but after the prerequisite interval surprise guest Rod Stewart walked out and started to perform with The Offspring. No, no wait, that isn't Rod Stewart, that's Dexter Holland rehearsing for his Stars In Their Eyes appearance as Rod, with dyed blond hair and an air steward's obnoxiously blue jacket.  They opened with You're Going to go Far, Kid, which for those of you who know it will understand when I say it sounds like three bits of different songs mashed together, and it sounds worse live when the transitions are lost in a cacophony of top end, echo-y sound within Brixton Academy.

Things get better as they move through their set, playing hit after hit such as Come Out and Play, Have You Ever and Million Miles Away, though there are times (and I shall credit my mate Darren with this one) "that it feels like you're in Germany, with a group of friends who all know this German hip-hop artist and you're stood there not understanding what's going on". Now the band members have all lived for half a century, that rough punk rock edge is missing from their live performances, everything is a little too polished and it feels as though they are going through the motions playing the songs, with most of the on-stage movement coming from their session drummer and guitarist, except for the odd occasion where Dexter and Noodles swap sides of the stage like a badly choreographed dance routine put together by your seven year old nieces to perform for the family on Christmas day.

OK, maybe I'm being a little harsh. For the most part they play really well, and the crowd of middle-aged fans is loving every minute of it so maybe I shouldn't be too judgemental. I'm even starting to enjoy myself after six ridiculously overpriced beers as they move into the second half of their set storming through a string of hand bangers and party tunes, Why Don't You Get a Job, Americana, Want You Bad, Pretty Fly for a White Guy and Kids Aren't Alright before walking off stage for the utterly pointless fake out ending. It's no secret these fake encores are staged, and it dawned on me whilst I was watching them that I have never actually seen a legitimate encore. The kind that come from the crowd honestly wanting more after the show has finished and the band coming back out to play that one final song. But, as it has been for decades, every band walk off stage only to return two minutes later to play their final two tracks.  In The Offspring's case they are (Can't get my) Head Around You and Self Esteem.

Despite my slightly sarcastic criticisms, it was a really good show. I've been to every The Offspring tour for the last ten years and I always enjoy myself; not least of all because they always have really good supporting bands. I first discovered Broadway Calls when they supported The Offspring in 2009, and The Menzingers (for us younger guys at least) are always a joy to watch live.

With the news recently that The Offspring are looking to sell their entire back catalogue of work (having recently reacquired it from various rights holders) I can't help but think they maybe looking to break up at some point in the near future. They've not released anything substantial in the last few years, only singles, and work on a tenth studio album seems to have progressed from working on it" to "no plans to release a full length", so who knows, this may (and I stress the may) be the last time we get to see them live.

Vera Grace: Novella

Artist: Vera Grace
Title: Novella
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 17th August 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton


The term 'concept album' is one that often divides opinion. For some it can be a path full of ambition and scope but in the wrong hands it can be a vain ego trip (see Angels and Airways). Novella, which literally means a short story, is the new EP from Oxford hardcore mob Vera Grace and definitely falls in to the first camp. It's laid out like a play, with each track representing a different scene revolving around two separate stories that merge together and tell the tale of loss of faith, murder and subsequent repercussions. Don't let the fact it sounds like Shakespeare fronting a rock band put you off.

First track Exposition explodes out of the speakers, full of anger and vitriol. Lyrically it questions faith and sets the tone from the start. Weighty guitars and drums amplify the intensity of vocalists Stephen Nulty's screams.

Act I follows and is a simple atmospheric interlude which leads in to "12_04", a claustrophobic wall of noise that smothers your senses before Act II, another short interlude of wailing feedback further cementing the feeling of doom and despair.

Scene I – Griever starts with a laid back riff that slowly builds and shows a more intricate side to the band. The vocals are more controlled and convey a real depth, pausing for breath almost before unleashing final song, Scene II – Catharsis, which is aptly named. The pummelling drums and guitar providing a contrast to the more melodic sections before building again. It all creates a sense of hopelessness and turmoil which ironically actually leaves you wanting more.

It's all pretty impressive stuff from a new(ish) band and marks them out as ones to watch.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

WSTR: SKRWD

Artist: WSTR (Waster)
Title: SKRWD
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 4th September 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

A large chunk of writing music reviews can quite easily be taken up by comparisons: likening what you're listening to to another band. It's a really useful tactic to give the reader an insight into whether they'll like the band you're reviewing or not.

However, due to the vast amount of second-wave pop-punk being generated from the UK at the moment, this is becoming a more and more challenging (or more fruitless) tactic. There's so much of it that a genuine comparison is pretty hard.

Liverpudlians Waster aren't afraid of the comparisons which are undoubtedly going to head their way as a result of debut EP SKRWD, though, with Sammy saying that the band are "fully prepared for the onslaught of comparisons that will no doubt be thrown our way", while arguing they "honestly just make music that sounds good to us, and that's all we care about". And you know what? It sounds good to me, too.

There's no doubt about it, SKRWD is an exceptionally strong example of second-wave pop-punk. Across the six tracks, there's heavy influences and nods to bands from across the pop-punk spectrum, both first and second-wave. While we are in danger of saturating the scene, this hasn't yet happened and WSTR still manage to sound fresh as well as familiar.

The most obvious likeness is Neck Deep (particularly early), and this could be attributed to the fact that Seb Barlow produced and recorded the EP: he's worked with Neck Deep in the past. However, the band openly state that their sound is a combination of influences from bands such as Sum41 and New Found Glory as well as the bands they listen to today (and it's refreshing that they don't shy away from it).

So, to the tracks themselves. Opener South Drive begins with a surprisingly melodic intro, before launching into a call-and-repeat style verse which wouldn't sound out of place on a TSSF record. The chorus here is memorable and bouncy, yet also surprisingly mellow and melodic. It's a really mature track from such a young band, and opens the EP really well.

Fair Weather is next, and ramps the energy up a notch or two. Accompanied by a brilliant music video (as is fast becoming the band's trademark), this is one of those pop-punk tracks telling a story of growing up in a dead-end town. Yes, there's already plenty of them, but many aren't anywhere near as strong as this one: Fair Weather has all the elements of a genuine anthem. I can't stop my head nodding to it; it's one of those tracks you always reach for the volume button for regardless of how loud it already it. Lyrically, again, it's simple and easy to remember; while vocally there's a brilliant mix of gruff and melodic styles from Sammy.

Another brilliant video also accompanies Graveyard Shift, the track which really helped WSTR get noticed. It's a song many listeners will be able to associate with. For me, the tempo changes between the verses and the chorus are a real highlight: it's a choppy and constantly shifting song which keeps it interesting to listen to. You can tell this one is going to be a massive live favourite.

Brainsick, as well as having a brilliant title, is opened by one of those jubilant pop-punk riffs, grabbing the listener by the lapels and hauling them deep into the track. It's then backdropped by some heavy chugging, while the melody of the track sits over the top, rushing along energetically. This is also a track which seems to build and build as it goes along, like a snowball which grows and grows the more you roll it. It's not a standout track necessarily but is a very solid one.

Ain't Great is another bouncy, energetic track, whipped up by a frantic drum-beat and angsty, aggressive lyrics. It doesn't do anything different, but what it does, it does really well. With some hugely catchy hooks and brilliantly genuine and honest lyrics, it's again another great example of what WSTR do best. The EP then ends on Devils N Demons.

For me, this is a really, really good EP. There's no filler here at all: each track is catchier than a cold, more hook-laden and energetic than a pirate on heat, and lyrically the band are brilliantly honest and genuine. As I say, it's not the most original EP in the world, but actually that doesn't matter a single bit. At the end of the day, it's fucking good music.

Keep your eyes on these guys. They could be massive.

Adult Mom: Momentary Lapse Of Happily

Artist: Adult Mom
Title: Momentary Lapse Of Happily
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 31st July 2015
Reviewed By: Rania Watts


As someone who has been completely indoctrinated into the world of fantasy from a tender age, I take the role of a modern day warrior quite seriously, especially if they use their medium and talent to advocate social issues they are really impassioned about. Our contemporary world does not allow for knights on quests or receiving a stipend for obliterating a dragon. Nevertheless, it does house eclectic individuals who have captured the truest definition of fantasy, through their body of work. For a myriad of genuine reasons, I am completely enamoured by Adult Mom's new album Momentary Lapse of Happily.   

It is no secret that some artists write from a place and purpose of cathartic release; that is how Monetary Lapse of Happily makes me feel. It is the crucibles throughout our personal journeys, I believe, that bonds singer/songwriters to their work and audience. What Adult Mom have achieved with this album outside of their captivating and emotive lyrics is also a platform for individuals who are struggling with all of the issues that come with questioning gender identity.  

One of the articles I'd received as part of Adult Mom's press kit states that the band were heavily influenced by two of my all time favourite artists, Alanis Morissette and The Cranberries. Momentary Lapse of Happily is Adult Mom's Jagged Little Pill. In my opinion there are two classifications of pop music; the insipid shallow pieces that talk about issues on a superficial level barely glossing over the true meaning of the songs offered, and then there are artists similar to Adult Mom who have courageously penned from personal and intimate experiences; more specifically, about what it is like to be a certain way and the acceptance or ridicule that follows.   

Normally, when I review an album I find that there are one or two songs that really speak to me. To be completely frank, although personally I have never struggled with any gender identity issues, I am able to appreciate the depth of pain and bliss outlined in the very expressive songs in Momentary Lapse of Happily. Good examples of this are 2012, Sorry I was Sorry and Lose Recover. I've spent the last hour or so trying to pick my favourite track from this album; each time I select one, I end up changing my mind to write about another. With much difficulty I have narrowed down my favourite piece from Momentary Lapse of Happily

For the first fifty to seventy-five seconds of Be Your Own 3AM, the bass maintains a consistent beat which accompanies a delicate and emotionally spent voice…The bass infuses itself with the rhythm while the latter half of the song builds in volume and intensity until the very last lyric. I like the duality in relation to the snow and sentiment housed within the lyrics;

“I am ruined best when I am cold….
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed the snow.”

This song really does end on a very powerful note, one that I feel exemplifies being truly comfortable in ones own skin: "you gotta be your own 3AM".

This is a bravely written album; although I relished the music, what really made this record for me were the lyrics and sensations expressed with each sung note. A collection of songs that offers a variety of pace; listen to it yourself to formulate your own opinion. 

I have to admit, I really respect the concept of someone having a sonorous gentle voice with the contrast of powerful and hardcore versification. For one thing, it really does lend to the old adage that you do not have to be loud or scream to get your point across; exemplifying characteristics of silent strength. I've never been able to stay silent about things, for someone to write these emotively powerful songs and sing them with little to no effort. The notes oozed and lingered with each phrase that was sung throughout all of these immensely thought provoking songs.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Lyon Estates: Into The Jaws

Artist: Lyon Estates
Title: Into The Jaws
Format Reviewed: CD
Format Released: 31st May 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

2015 has been a pretty decent year for music so far, with stand-out releases coming from across our whole scene. There's been a huge amount of quality new pop-punk, too, and plenty more to come in the shape of The Wonder Years and State Champs.

All of which makes the fact that Into The Jaws, the latest EP from Selby-based pop-punks Lyon Estates, stands up brilliantly against any of the above even more of an achievement.

Billed as another second-wave pop-punk EP, there's more to this five-track than you may expect. There are the now-standard heartfelt lyrics and "edge", but the five-piece have managed to deliver a sound deeper and more powerful than many of their peers.

The EP is also a pleasingly DIY effort: we received a physical copy of the EP in a plastic sleeve with a promotional letter, something that in this age of digital was refreshingly honest and endearing. The sound, too, has a real self-made feel to it: not in a bad, muffled or poorly produced way, but in one which makes it feel as if the tracks are being genuinely played to you live. It's a really refreshing and hugely likeable style.

There's also plenty to like about the tracks themselves. While none are necessarily the most unique songs you'll hear this year, there is enough to separate them out from being "yet another pop-punk record". The EP opens with Here's A Shovel Kid, which features brilliantly held melodies from Alex Taylor's vocals, combined with sharp and snappy drums and some nifty guitar work from John and Mark. It's got a choppy style with some brilliant gang shouts scattered across the landscape of the song; while the chorus is easily catchy and bouncy enough to satisfy any fan of Six Time Champion or Boston Manor.

Seventeenth is next, and opens with some brilliantly heavy and ripe-for-headbanging riffage, dropping into a rapid, drum-driven track. Once again there's some strong harmonies in the chorus, with some easily memorable lyrics and enough aggression to tick the angst box. Middle song Why Are Things So Heavy In The Future is one of the EP's highlights for me, showcasing again Alex's strong vocal yet combined with an indie-punk style chorus, the cymbals really pulling the track along. It's a song which differentiates Lyon Estates well from the rest of the second-wave UK pop-punk sound and shows a level of maturity beyond this band's tender years. There's some mini-beatdowns in here, too, which add some variation in.

Stuck On The Outside starts with some neat bass work from Rich, and descends into a speedy, Trash Boat-esque track, with a surprisingly chuggy element. They're clearly a band who use Alex's held vocal as one of their USPs, as it's displayed once again here to good effect. For me this is probably one of the least strong tracks on Into The Jaws: there's nothing particularly bad about it, but equally nothing hugely stand-out.

The EP ends with Snakes And Ladders, where again we've got some strong, aggressive riffs and a breathless drum beat. Vocally this one's a bit different, and there's a much less smooth feel to the track, something which hasn't been displayed thus far. It's a really strong song, and one which requires a handful of listens to really fully appreciate.

Overall, Lyon Estates have delivered an exceptionally solid effort in Into The Jaws. They're more than worthy of your time and don't be surprised to see them beginning to be a more household name from 2016 onwards...

Home Movies: Hell

Artist: Home Movies
Title: Hell
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 7th August 2015
Reviewed By: Toby Walkley


Formed in 2012, LA based Home Movies have just released their latest EP Hell, with a sound firmly rooted in the pop-punk tradition of bands like New Found Glory, but blended with a more hard rock edge.  
Opener Hell wastes no time getting going, with a super tight drum fill. For a four-piece, the sound here is colossal, and has a very nostalgic feel to it that instantly takes you back to the late 90s. There are some subtle lead guitar hooks layered over the chords that add a nice sonic texture, and the production is exactly what you'd expect from this kind of music.
Faith and Folly brings more of the hard rock sound, very reminiscent of Hot Water Music. The structure is carefully balanced, with huge chorus sections that drop effortlessly back into more mellow verses. It's obvious listening to Home Movies that they know and love this genre of music, imbuing their material with all the subtle nuances found in the work of their major influences.   
Midway through the EP we get The Will of Fire, probably my favourite track. It's a super tight piece of pop-punk; the drums particularly are on fire from start to finish with some great fills that really ignite the guitar hooks. The vocals don't feel over-produced or treated either, which lends a certain honesty to the words.
Next is The Winds, somewhat different to what's come before. It starts with just a voice and acoustic guitar, before a brushed kit and bass enters, playing a classic country style shuffle. There are some subtle high vocal overdubs that add a real texture to the track, and again the lead vocal seems very honest and well produced, stopping the track from coming across as cheesy. It's a nice penultimate number as it brings the tempo and vibe down before letting it explode again for the final track and gives the EP as a whole a good sense of structure and balance.
Closing number Fickle brings us round full circle to the solid pop-punk territory we began in. Again, the drums here are one of the standouts, furiously fast and crushing, and really giving the track its feel. The bridge section is perfectly crafted, reminiscent of the pop flair so often shown by Jimmy Eat World and there's slightly more vocal production on this track, including some echoed lines. It's a really strong track to finish the EP with, and the production really shines, with the right balance of overdubbing to make the sound huge without compromising the fact that you're listening to a three-piece.
All in all, this is a really solid EP from Home Movies, highlighting their style and influences perfectly. I'll be interested to see where they go with a full-length release, and what they'll do with the extra tracks. I'd certainly like to see them further explore the harder sound of Faith and Folly on their next offering, while keeping the pop-punk hooks that drive the momentum forward.  
Having demonstrated such a strong sense of song craft, I wouldn't be surprised to see Home Movies touring with some of their heroes in the near future...