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 , or by visiting our Twitter at , or our Facebook at You can also find us on Instagram: just search for @thepunkarchive. Don't forget to check out our YouTube channel, too, over at

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Offenders: X

Artist: The Offenders
Title: X
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 16th October 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

When the press release accompanying a band's new release states that they're for fans of The Slackers, The Skints and King Prawn, you as a reader of The Punk Archive would undoubtedly and understandably get a bit excited. As the Editor of TPA, I did too, and approached X with a huge sense of optimism.

Unfortunately, this was unfounded. To me, X is a pretty underwhelming album from a band who don't seem to be able to identify their sound, resulting in a melting-pot of styles which doesn't fit together well.

Within the first four songs, for example, there's enough genre variation to confuse even the most open of music fans. Alles Muss Raus is a fairly generic traditional ska track with a soft-rock influenced chorus; while Harsh Reality has an undoubtedly indie beat. Tons Of Drunks And Party Scum then has a poor-man's Rancid style, while St Pauli Jugend is back to the punk-influenced soft-rock style chorus with a trad-ska verse. For me, while in practice you'd expect all this to work well together, it just doesn't fit and ends up a little confused.

Nothing feels strong enough across the whole album for me. I want the punk edges to be spikier and more aggressive; I want the ska to be far more bouncy and in-my-face; and I want the choruses to be far more raucous and catchy. It's all incredibly polished but actually feels pretty muffled and restricted by that polish, so much so that nothing stands out at all.

One thing I am a fan of here (as well as the brilliant album artwork), though, is the use of the organ. It's an unashamedly retro throwback and is something many bands could use effectively. It's used really well in probably the best track on the album, Martens Style. Here, at least, there's some decent energy, an easily memorable and shoutable chorus, and a bouncy, energetic ska-backdrop. It's also only trying to be one thing: this is a ska track through and through, and doesn't get confused by trying to add anything else into the mix.

And that's the crux of the issue for The Offenders in my eyes. If they could concentrate on just one or two styles, as opposed to attempting to get everything in, this would be a hugely improved album and one which I'm sure I'd return to. As it is, I'm finding it a very hard record to recommend, and one I'm very unlikely to come back to.

The Bros Landreth: Let It Lie

Artist: The Bros Landreth
Title: Let It Lie
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 10th July 2015
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman

This debut album from The Bros Landreth, Let It Lie, being an overseas re-release, is not without slight irony in its title. This is the Canadian quartet's attempt to break the European market in the wake of its recent win at the Junos', of The Roots & Traditional Album The Year.
Having heard it, the theory that brother's vocals will make more effective harmonies in music, surely proven earlier by the Beegees, remains evident in this album from Joey and David Landreth's sweetly honed vocal chords. Indeed it's in album opener Our Love where the vocal harmonies softly redeem what's otherwise a fairly uninteresting, slow and steadily paced, if perhaps tone-setting track. Despite the combination of natural and time-developed skill, this album opener sounds out as easy listening blues rock, with some diluted soul elements gradually building interest until ending the tune on some nicely authentic organ holding the outro. It's well developed, though maybe a bit cheesy.
Firecracker plays out a dreary love song, lacking energy, too smoothly sung and crisply produced, resulting in an overly poppy feel being given to their otherwise notable blend of rock, soul, blues, and sentimental country. There are however some better moments where the songwriting evades its earlier problems. In title track Let It Lie, the descending vocal meets the guitar's flourish early on in the track strongly. A sensitive tune softly layering the ears with its deft guitar work, the rock elements combined with the country ballad make for a more developed sound that some may find familiar with of Led Zeppelin's feel in That's the Way. Sentimentality is hammered in by the soul influences summoning up the backing vocals as they nail the refrain.
I Am The Fool perks the ears with a nice blues stomp that I'd like to hear Son of Dave cover, sadly broken by a couple of predictable turns to the melody, before some sort of banjo holds it together, distracting us back into the groove of the main riff. Things begin to get a busier edge here, competent guitar solos give plenty of musical depth, but it's the main vocal refrain here that cheapens the rest of the tone, a pop-filter through the otherwise cracking blues that sounds a bit out of place. 
Made Up Mind adds a bit of lounge funk with the patter of keys and moody guitar licks. I feel more like we have blues from the guitar, soul from the organ, and almost embarrassing pop sensibilities to the vocals rather than a cohesive result from the band's mixture of influences. 
Luckily it seems the second half of this album is stronger than the first. First realising this during Tappin' On the Glass' smooth Sunday style, or Greenhouse, where sparse piano chords lead as things take a bleaker turn before an impressive fiddle peeps round the end of the softly sung bars. Actually, by the end of the song and a few further listens, this one is a genuine grower; this is not least due to the interesting change of chord around 2:52, or the welcome appearance of horns for a beautiful but unluckily short middle eight. The brothers croon layer on layer of whoahing harmonies that win the listener round. The middle of that song is probably the best part of the album, and with its brilliance highlights some of the other inconsistencies that made this album hard to get into.
Runaway Train's dirty blues intro shows off the brothers' natural-sounding knowledge of the guitar. Perfectly timed note-bends, steady thud of bass, and coolly delivered vocal offerings. Nothing loses the momentum a bit, sounds like a cowboy saying goodbye to the moon. A decent enough but not ground-breaking soul-style lament with lullaby vocals, again it's the slide guitar's capability that's the strongest part of the song.
In Going to The Country, finally, a catchier and more abrasive rock feel is given to this one. Even if it does rely firmly on the classic blues format it's well produced and effectively built up into the swaggering blues beast I wish the band could have introduced us to earlier in the album. A partying blues send off as the albums winds down (if even more possible) in its last few tracks. At times the easy listening feel should be praised while at others it will test the listener's patience. Though the album has won awards, and has an informed reach across several genres, and undoubtedly decent musicianship, there's an overly polished feel squeaking with too many dodgy moments for me to recommend it.

Random Hand: Hit Reset

Artist: Random Hand
Title: Hit Reset
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 2nd October 2015
Reviewed By: Jamie Kerr

So this is a bit of a weird one. Random Hand have just completed a farewell tour before going on a hiatus, a term that seems to be unfortunately cropping up more than ever these days. However, they have chosen to release their 'final' album Hit Reset after said farewell tour. Which, to me, is a strange way of doing things and would suggest that their hiatus is more likely an indefinite hiatus. But hey, there's no rules on these things, right? The fact they reached their PledgeMusic record target in record time is testament to the following that they have built up over their thirteen year history. Either way, their latest/final offering is worth giving a good going over.

One of the major draws for Random Hand is their ability to combine punk, ska and metal into one big easy-to-listen-to package and they have keep true to this philosophy in Hit Reset. Opening track Day One is a fantastic opening to the album, high tempo punk rock which then leads into Death By Pitchforks which incorporates the ska-punk sound with upstrokes and brass aplenty, expertly executed as expected.

Protect & Serve shows their continuous switch between genres, but largely focussing on their punk roots. If I Save Your also heavily punk rock as are some of the next few tracks, combining elements of thrash punk with the odd beatdown put into the mix. In fact, it isn't until Pack It Up and Abide until the ska makes a welcome return, both with hugely infectious verses that are far too tempting to skank out to than you could imagine.

Closing track As Loud As You Can is a fitting end to the album, bringing together all of their musical influences in one neat package, with a sprinkling of blues thrown in to the middle for good measure.

Whatever the future may hold for Random Hand, they have delivered an album that may call for an end to their hiatus sooner rather than later. Regardless of whether they have more of an underground following, Hit Reset is a blinder of an album and highlights that they will be a bigger loss to the UK scene than expected. I just wish I'd given them more of my time whilst they were at their peak, but I have a feeling this isn't the end of Random Hand just yet.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Outta Gas: Outta Gas (S/T)

Artist: Outta Gas
Title: Outta Gas (S/T)
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 19th August 2015 (7" vinyl)
Reviewed By: Lee Morton

Released earlier this year in the US, the self-titled EP from Outta Gas has now got a UK release. This is the second EP from the New York based band, following on from 2013's Tangled Up

This is classic punk with no frills that tips its cap at The Ramones and Rancid, especially on the first track. Talking of said track, Terrified, blasts out of the speakers with its melodic breakdown and chugging guitar over a simple drum backbeat. The chorus is everything you need, simple, catchy and perfect to scream along to. Impressive start. 

My Screens picks up the baton and keeps on running. Sounding slightly edgier than the first track it still retains an ear for melody, encapsulated by the little vocal interplay between the Alex and guest vocalist Frances Chang towards the end.

Third track Every Minute is a fast, energetic slab of snotty punk, perfectly suited to Alex's rapid vocal delivery. Not sure if he could keep up that pace for longer than the two minutes of this song as you can hear the strain taking hold during some parts, although I like that as it gives the song a rough edge. Last Song is surprisingly the last song on here and once again shows their craft with a catchy chorus. This is the sound of a band really enjoying themselves and that comes across over all the tracks here.

It may be only a little over ten minutes in total, perhaps worried that they would run Outta Gas, but each song is quality and leaves you hoping the debut album lives up to the promise on display on this EP.

Great Collapse: Holy War

Artist: Great Collapse
Title: Holy War
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 2nd October 2015
Reviewed By: Quinn

Great Collapse are a super-group of sorts, comprising members of Strike Anywhere, Set Your Goals, Death by Stereo, Rise Against and Love Equals Death. This Friday, 2nd October, sees the release of their first full length album, Holy War, following up from their 2014 EP Elemental. Going into this review two weeks ago I was excited to hear what this bunch of experienced and talented punk rockers had to offer. Given their credentials I was expecting something supremely satisfying, possibly a little experimental, but most of all something new to listen to. Unfortunately there is none of that here.

Firstly, the main message of the album is that war is bad and the system corrupt, designed to oppress and kill. Whilst this is never a bad message, I feel like it's flogging a dead horse. It's not anything we haven't heard before, especially since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gave rise to politically charged punk rock bands everywhere, angrily opposing the Coalition Allied Government's actions in the Middle East through the medium of song. The topic has been sung about for the last decade and more and I've lost count of the number of times I've released my own anger at the senselessness of war in the mosh pits of gigs and festivals. Now there is no major military action taking place by US military forces currently, it would have been nice to see a new band emerge with a profoundly different message, such as the injustice of social inequality, or the consequences of the aforementioned wars have had on the region.

Musically there is nothing different here either.  It's a straight up, in-your-face, fast-paced punk rock album. This was where I was expecting something a little more experimental. When you bring together five musicians from a variety of different backgrounds, I expect to hear influences from all those bands, and maybe trying something a little bold and a little new, especially as they have the comfort of their own bands to retire too when all is said and done. However, they appear to have taken the safe route, the one that is marked on the map guiding the way, rather than straying off the path onto unchartered territory. It's disappointing, but it works for them. The album is fully charged and doesn't hold back for one second, delivering twelve tracks of high quality punk rock.

These two major let downs aside, it is satisfying. Where the band feel comfortable playing, as the audience I feel comfortable listening. From the very start of the album I know where I am with it, I know what it's going to do and it isn't going to surprise me. It feeds the appreciation of any Strike Anywhere or Anti-Flag fan, or to anyone that is politically motivated and enjoys their music likewise. It's actually a pretty solid album in that regard, with Barnett, Henning, Saucedo, Chasse and Arnott working extremely well together to release a very polished, if not predictable, album.

Lyrically they are very intelligent with their exploration of the themes they have chosen to convey, and maybe I am being a little harsh in writing them off for not tackling something new, because finding a new way to express and explain the complex concepts of war is no easy feat. But each song managed it without retreading old ground too much, and that should be acknowledged and praised if nothing else, especially if it awakens a new generation of politically aware human beings to continue questioning the actions of waring nations.

I don't normally rate albums, but if I were asked I'd give Holy War three out of five. It's actually a pretty decent album to listen to; it holds it own against any other band out there and doesn't rely on the past work of the bands members to sell itself. This won't be an album I play on repeat, but I'll definitely come back to it time and again just for the craic.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Vaadat Charigim: Sinking As A Stone

Artist: Vaadat Charigim
Title: Sinking As A Stone
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 25th September 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

Genres, eh. There's just so many of them. Music genres, film genres, console game genres. And then within each area, there's all the sub-genres. Within music, there's frankly ridiculous amounts: sub-genre upon sub-genre upon sub-genre: so much so, that you get to the point where you don't even know what you're listening to any more, or what a genre should sound like.

A good example of this is "shoegaze rock". I can quite happily hold my hands up and say I've got absolutely no clue what good shoegaze rock should sound like. I've no idea what bad shoegaze rock should sound like.

What I do know, though, is that Sinking As A Stone, the latest record from Israeli shoegaze rockers (?!) Vaadat Charigim, is a bloody excellent collection of songs. Thing Sigur Ros, but a bit more rocky, and you're about there.

They're a band which piqued my interest when reading the press release, but for a reason I'm not quite sure of. I've not heard much Israeli music before now, and when reading that this album was sung entirely in Hebrew, I just had to give it a listen. And, once I had, I began to really appreciate the craft and expertise that's gone into the band's sound.

The press release also informed me that the album focuses on frustration, feeling time pass, and overall a real deep emptiness that young Israelis can find themselves feeling. Clearly this is not just something young Israelis feel: and it's this which really drew me into the album. There's such relevance here, despite the tracks being sung in a distant, vacant (shoegaze) style, and despite the foreign tongue.

The distant, melancholic style is replicated across the seven tracks. It's an album you have to be in the right mood to listen to and appreciate: it's undoubtedly not one you put on before a night out, or just as a quick blast. You have to take the time to listen, really hear the intricacies within: and, when you do that, you're rewarded. The almost-holy choral elements in Hadavar Haamiti, for example, could be easily missed if not focusing directly on the music coming from your speakers.

Lead track Hashiamum Shokea, for which there has recently been a video released, is a great condensed representation of the whole album. There's the slow, deliberate and ponderous pace combined with shimmering percussion and distortion, giving you an empty, lonesome feeling. There's then Yuval Haring's quite simply beautiful vocal which drawls deeply over the backing music, like the central thread. There's some astounding melodies here, too, which wouldn't sound out of place on a Sigur Ros record. These contrast brilliantly with the crashing wall of noise which forms the crescendo later on in the track. It's a complex, jagged song which you won't "get" on your first, second or third listen. Invest the time, though, and you'll realise quite why I'm such a fan.

While none of the other tracks here quite reach the peak of Hashiamum Shokea, there's no low points. Klum for example, is surprisingly upbeat in tone, with more rapid elements offset again with Haring's moody, downbeat vocal. There's also the epic, ten-and-three-quarter-minute Heshel, which builds and builds to a crescendo halfway through the song in a gorgeously relaxed manner.

As I said earlier, this isn't just an album to whack on at any point. You've got to be in the mood for it. I can quite confidently say it won't be for everyone: even the fact that it would be a challenge singing along will be enough for a number of people to not even consider the album. However, I'm a fan for sure: give it the time, and it will reward you.

I'm still not sure what shoegaze is. But I like Vaadat Charigim's interpretation of it. And that's all that matters, right: I mean, what's in a name?

Vaadat Charigim play their first ever UK dates from 21st to 25th October. 

Preview: The Fest 14: The Lion And The Wolf

We caught up with Thomas George, a.k.a. The Lion And The Wolf ahead of his slot at this year's Fest 14...

The Punk Archive: Hey! Are you looking forward to playing The Fest?
TL&TW: Yo! I cannot wait, it will be my first show on US soil and to have it at such an awesome festival is really cool. I have some friends who will be over there playing too so it should be a good time. PLUS it's my last show of my twenties...

The Punk Archive: What's the highlight of your 2015 been so far?
TL&TW: Wow, there really have been so many. I keep saying this but 2000 Trees Festival felt really special and supporting the likes of PJ Bond in the UK and Northcote in Germany have both been good tours. I think though, the highlight, was performing as a full band for the first time in a church next to my house. There were eight of us on stage and it sounded wonderful.

The Punk Archive: What can Fest-goers expect from your live show?
TL&TW: As it will be just me performing solo, it will be a much more stripped back version but because my sound isn't overly upbeat and sing-along-esque, it may mix the lineup quite a bit. The one frustrating thing is that I'm playing at the same time as Modern Baseball so that could be interesting!

Thomas then picked his top five bands not to be missed at Fest for us...

Ducking Punches: Good friends of mine from the UK and I toured with Dan earlier in the year. Dan works so, so hard at his art and really supports music. He also LOVES a cheeky beer.

Andrew W.K.: Never seen him / them before and it will be a perfect way to end the weekend. This is my last festival / live show of my 20's and what better way to go out?

The Hotelier: I heard their record at some point last year and it's stuck with me ever since. It feels like a homage to every single band I grew up listening to and from what I've heard their live set is just as good. Stoked!

Billy The Kid: I toured with Billy last year and we had a mutual bond over Disney songs and good breakfasts. I'll be stoked to see her again, she's one of the kindest people I've ever met.

Pianos Become The Teeth: Only listened in recently but excited to get to see them, gosh this is a good lineup this year isn't it? Friends over in the UK rant and rave about this band so it will be good to finally see them live.

Head to for more information...