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.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Live: Babes In Toyland

Headliner: Babes In Toyland
Support: Skating Polly, Pins
Where: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
When: 26th May 2015
Reviewed By: Millie Manders


It's not often that you get to see an American punk band formed in the late 80's play here in the UK.  It's even less often that the opening support act blows your mind as much as the act you've paid to see does. That happened on this occasion.

Shepherd's Bush Empire was swarming with a sweaty, tattooed, hair-dyed and pierced gaggle of punks looking for their kicks in force and Skating Polly gave it to them.

Skating Polly
A sister duo from Oklahoma City aged 15 and 19 years respectively, Kelli and Peyton stormed the Empire's stage and sank their teeth into their crowd. No one expected how awesome they would be, least of all me. It was like watching The Runaways at their first gig, only they were far more sober and even more musically skilled. Kelli plays bass and Peyton plays guitar… Both play drums. Throughout their set they swapped who was playing drums and singing backing vocals, while the other took up their guitar or bass and sang lead vocals.

The rawness of their sound, lyrics with wisdom far beyond their years and a performance that would put most hair metal bands to shame, let alone punk ones, was a sight to behold.  The absolute clincher for me as a new fan came when half the drum kit fell over while Kelli was playing. Peyton ran to her aid to pick up the kit mid-song, while Kelli actually carried on playing a drum solo on a floor tom, snare and cymbals. Peyton swiftly returned to her mic and they finished the song. Bravo! 

Pins
Babes in Toyland had a second support in the form of Pins. Another all-girl band, this time a five piece from Manchester: I can't fault them for their talent. They had their instruments down. Each member has clear talent. They are all gorgeous. But something didn't sit right with me. They had good songs. They had good hooks. But they were so polished it may as well have been the punk version of Destiny's Child. Hipster haircuts, glitter smeared on faces and cutesy jumping about that was so clean cut it was dull. For me, sandwiched between Skating Polly and Babes in Toyland, Pins came off like a lame indie band.

Babes in Toyland however were amazing.  They laughed, they teased each other, they played all of their best known songs and a whole load of  B-sides and album tracks that only true fans would know back to front.

Lori's toms sounded so beefy I wanted to stick them between sour dough buns and eat them. She looked effortless as she smashed out rocking beat after rocking beat. Kat screamed into her mic and chugged on her guitar in a way that made me wonder if her hands were made of harder stuff than marble. Her vocals were deliciously rough and sometimes a complete juxtaposition to the key of the song and it just worked. It ran through me and I banged my head like I was possessed. Michelle's bass riffs complimented it all perfectly. 

These women are road-hardened, travel-worn and rock Hall of Fame worthy. They played a gig that will be stuck in the memory of many for years to come and for me, to see a band that have been doing their thing and doing it well for so many years was a blessing. It is up there with seeing Blondie. Totally epic.

Babes In Toyland
You know a true punk gig because there is no violence. There is no animosity. There is always a mosh. Everyone was there because they loved the attitude of the band, the lyrics of the songs and the community of being surrounded by like-minded people. Those that know the real scene know how small it is. I saw friends I haven't seen in years standing in that crowd, and recognised many more. The camaraderie was beautiful, and it was fed by the vibes coming from the three awesome women standing on the stage.

If you don't think there are enough strong female role models in music, this was a night to rethink that. All the bands were good. Skating Polly and Babes in Toyland were awesome. I feel incredibly lucky to have been there.

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!: Get Lost, Find Yourself

Artist: Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
Title: Get Lost, Find Yourself
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 18th May 2015
Reviewed By: Jamie Kerr


My goodness what an improvement this album is. I've been a fan of French quintet Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! ever since their debut album Something For Nothing was released back in 2011, a powerful combination of catchy pop-punk hooks and hard-hitting hardcore beatdowns. Whilst playing it solidly for weeks when I first heard it I felt that there was always something missing and they weren't quite the finished product. Their second release showed the band's progression, largely down to their English improving significantly. But somehow they have managed to deliver easily their finest record yet in Get Lost, Find Yourself. If you like heavy pop-punk with ridiculously low tuned guitars, you're in for a real treat here. 

Opening track Playing Dead was released several weeks before and gave a great account of what to expect from their latest album. It's a monstrous album opener and classic C!NCC! with its singalong chorus and heavy beatdowns but it's by no means their finest. The Other Line sounds pretty much like any of their other songs, except once you get past 1:20 you're hit with a beatdown that is so brutal it calls for multiple repeat listens. True hardcore fans will argue there's far heavier out there and there is but for a band that are largely considered to be pop-punk more than anything else, it really is a beast.

Fans of 'djent' will appreciate the intro and verse of Pull You Under (if you're unfamiliar with djent, that opening guitar riff is a perfect example of it). Another brilliant display of how they have taken some of the best heavy elements of their previous album and fine tuned them, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it such an improvement but it's just...better. 

Now I'm fully aware I've kind of just focused of the heavier side of the album whilst mentioning pop-punk but not highlighting where said genre is in the record. Worst Case Scenario is pop-punk through and through, if you want massive singsongs and a summer anthem then look no further. The beatdowns are replaced with a huge soaring chorus and a massive singalong, an instant crowd favourite and easily the strongest song on the album. 

As with previous C!NCC! albums, there was always an acoustic track thrown into the mix to show their versatility and this comes in the form of Get Lost, Find Yourself. All great pop-punk bands these days have at least one outstanding acoustic song to pull out the bag when it comes to their live shows and C!NCC! now have one of their own. Yes, you can argue they're jumping on the bandwagon and following suit with their peers but this one is an absolute belter and will be a huge anthem on their setlist. Which then leads us into album closer Every Moment, a wonderful display of their melodic side but still keeping the riffs heavy and hard hitting. A fitting end to what is for me personally already a very strong contender for album of the year.

It may have taken a little while but it now seems like C!NCC! have really produced the album that I and many others have been waiting for. There's very little they have done wrong here and while their previous releases were full of potential, they have finally fulfilled that potential. Many out their well argue that ADTR are the modern day masters of easycore, but it's possible that C!NCC! will have them quaking in their boots. It's a fantastic example of just how fun this genre is and may well be the album of your summer.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Cross Wires: Interaction : Dislocation

Artist: Cross Wires
Title: Interaction : Dislocation
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 15th April 2015
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman


East London four piece Cross Wires' second EP, Interaction : Dislocation, may not have the most interesting or inspiring EP name, but the music on it doesn't fail to go down well for a solid four tracks of faithfully crooned, succinctly competent punk/post-punk that's as instantly familiar and movable without being easy to exactly pin down.
Initially, opener Walking Wounded doesn't sound the strongest choice to begin the short EP, but the song is a grower, and a veritable tune all the same. Classic punk delivery and elements such as drawling vocals, lazily modulating around simple but effective power chord guitar give an energetic, angsty yet feel-good tone to the track's thematic heartbreak. There are points where the lovelorn lyrics and guitar's jangly feel recalls Billy Bragg's, meeting the drumbeat's upbeat trot nicely.
Last Day of Rome is one to win the listener over. The simplicity of the song structure here makes its tempo changes all the more effective. It kicks off with a jaunty post-punkish funk shuffle, compulsively scratching guitar, and shouty vocals, then adds a fuzzy bassline wide across the mix, adding a stomp to the jarring groove-led proceedings. The track warps, weirdly new-wave, into a lesser tempo for a somewhat psychedelic contrast as it switches to the chorus, complete with a droning bass note and spacey effects, before returning with an more furious and drum prominent section at a weathering pace.
Storming in a matter of minutes onto Progress the hanging rhythm of the vocal's shout is fairly arresting, the way it waits a few bars to reach the next wailing line like an odd blues refrain. The listener can only paraphrase the vocals, though the instruments' latent edginess give the gist, but amongst the impassioned and authentically incomprehensible shouts of, perhaps, "where is the progress? / just the fucking programmes" or "music for the supermarkets" and general disdain towards Made in Chelsea, the singer taps into the genre's defiant roots and plasters a condemning picture of obsessive reality TV's misleading aspirations and social media preoccupation.
Flesh finishes the EP on a high. The cleanly-toned sixteenth notes of the chorus' guitar make this another upbeat rollick in sunny punk, with all sorts of 'ohh-ing', 'heys', whooping, cooing backing vocals, and other bits of ad-lib exclamations, adding to the tune's wild surf-rock momentum. Here the band's catchy song writing, that commendably never compromises its influences, is deployed joyously. 
There's a classic stripped-back feel to this EP, a suitably aggressive but not overwhelming alternative rock that pays respect to its influences from punk and rock'n'roll canon. With the only thing to really criticise being the (admittedly excusable) shame that we've not yet got a full length album to enjoy, Cross Wires are set to become the year's most welcome discoveries for many music fans.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Story So Far: The Story So Far (S/T)

Artist: The Story So Far
Title: The Story So Far
Format Reviewed: CD
Format Released: 18th May 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

It's been two years since we last saw a full length from The Story So Far. Plenty has changed in those two years, with the revival of UK pop-punk and yet further diversification in what constitutes pop-punk. The scene itself is certainly different since TSSF released their debut record in 2011 and has moved on some way since 2013's What You Don't See.

One thing that can be said, however, is that TSSF have always been at the forefront of the scene. To many, it was 2011's Under Soil And Dirt which gave pop-punk the shot in the arm it was crying out for, and essentially set the tone for what we have today. Certainly, without these Californians, bands such as Neck Deep, Six Time Champion and more may not be the force they are today.

It could be argued that the scene has moved on so quickly that TSSF are now playing catch-up. The big question is whether this ten-track self-titled album puts them back in the pop-punk elite.

Unfortunately, that question isn't an easy one to answer.

I've had the album since Monday (thanks as ever to the guys at Banquet Records for their super-efficient service!) and have been playing it over and over, listening on the way to work, in the shower, while eating, drinking...you get the idea. And still, I don't have a definitive view on the record.

My broad conclusions are that this is a very different TSSF to that we had in the previous two releases. The tracks here aren't the full-fat, raucous and edgy TSSF we're so used to; they're not the aggressive and angry thrashes. What they are, however, is vulnerable, emotional tracks which don't grab you in the same way as as What You Don't See and Under Soil And Dirt but grab you nonetheless. The Story So Far gets well and truly under your skin, and that's not always comfortable.

The album feels on the whole a lot more raw: not raw in the sharply aggressive sense, but in the open-wound way. The lyrics and style feel fragile, emotive and empty, something which although we're used to from the band, is delivered in such a different way that it takes some getting used to. There's no aggressive, punchy and violent pop-punk guitars here; there's fewer lyrics being spat from Cannon's lips, and there's less edge to the drumming. It all feels markedly more controlled, within certain parameters.

Initially my view that this was an exceptionally lazy album from the band, the sound of five musicians who are just a bit tired but felt they needed to deliver a record to keep themselves in the spotlight.

Over many subsequent listens, however, my view on The Story So Far has changed. It's actually a strangely beautiful record, one which permeates you in a way you just don't recognise or really understand. I wouldn't say this is a particularly catchy record (especially when compared to the band's previous albums) but I have caught myself almost subconciously humming some of the melodies under my breath so often over the past week.

One criticism of the record, however, is that it sounds pretty similar in a large number of places. The base for many of the songs feels and sounds pretty samey: quiet, controlled guitars with speedy, technical drum work. Although each song does have it's own personality and eventually becomes more unique as the track goes on, a listener with less patience would find this an issue.

In terms of highlights, my favourite tracks include Heavy Gloom, with it's more old-school TSSF style (there's a pretty raucous chorus here, and it's catchier than many of the others) and How You Are, with it's brooding darkness. As far as lowlights go, I'm not a fan of Phantom at all: for me, it's a step too far for the band.

So. This isn't the raucous version of the band we know and love. It's stripped-back, pared-down to it's constituent pieces. It initially felt almost acoustic, half-fat as opposed to the full-fat, energetic and aggressive band we're used to.

This not an album which I've told all my friends about, it's not one I absolutely love and am playing because of the catchiness of the choruses, the accessibility of the verses. None of this is present here. But The Story So Far is a fucking special record. I just don't really know why. I don't know how well it's going to translate into the live environment; I don't know whether it's my love for the band influencing my judgement, and I don't know how it'll go down with die-hard TSSF and pop-punk fans. I also don't think this is a pop-punk album at all, and is pretty much incomparable with Under Soil And Dirt and What You Don't See.

All I know is it's a genuinely special piece of music, a very affecting batch of songs, and a record which I've got probably more respect, appreciation and admiration for than anything else.

They've done it again.

Fizzy Blood: Feast

Artist: Fizzy Blood
Title: Feast
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 22nd June 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton


Having formed barely one year ago, Leeds-based band Fizzy Blood have been creating a fair amount of buzz around them. With a Download appearance and support slot with legendary punks The Dead Kennedys already under their belt, as well as BBC Radio One airplay, this debut release should see their profile get even bigger.

Kicking things off in fine fashion is Black Sheep, starting all atmospheric before the guitars join in. There are elements of both Arctic Monkeys and Muse on display here. It's all very bold and full of ideas. That's not to say that they don't rock as the groove they lock in on towards the end will get many heads nodding.

Second track, January Sun was previously released as a single last year and is rightfully included here. It quickly settles in to a chugging groove that QOTSA would be proud of before cranking up the guitars and thrashing its way to the end.

Slither is another track that pays homage to QOTSA with its swaggering guitars and pounding drums. They have managed to give their retro-rock a modern make-over without losing any of their soul. It's not all worshipping at the throne of Josh Homme though as the melodies and harmonies across the EP wouldn't sound out of place on a Billy Talent album, especially here on this track.

Cue To Leave slows things down and builds until the final verse when it hits you with a wall of noise and feedback before switching back to a quiet fade out. This is something that they do very well on this EP, switching tempo and attitude so you're not sure what you're going to get next.

Patience has echoes of Soundgarden with the vocals in the chorus and does a great job of updating the grunge template. The quality of musicianship on the whole record is very high, hardly what you'd expect from such a new band.

Final track Queen Of Hearts has some clever lyrics and the loud-quiet-loud dynamics really bring this to life here. If it was up to me I'd have stuck this track in the middle of the EP as I don't feel it's as strong as others on here but that's probably due to the strength of the other tracks more than this song being a dud.

Although this EP is not released until the 22nd June, Fizzy Blood are currently touring the UK through May and in to June so if you've not caught them yet, I would definitely recommend that you do as this band are going places and on the basis of this EP, they will get there pretty quickly.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

WOAHNOWS: Understanding And Everything Else

Artist: WOAHNOWS
Title: Understanding And Everything Else
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 4th May 2015
Reviewed By: Toby Walkley


Having garnered early support from BBC Radio 1 and Rock Sound among others, Plymouth based duo WOAHNOWS build on this with the release of their debut album Understanding and Everything Else.
There's an undeniable energy to their sound, which I'd describe as somewhere firmly between pop-punk and indie. Opening track Sounds Like Spitting fires on all cylinders right from the start with fast drums and warm yet dirty guitars that get your feet tapping quickly.  For a two-piece, the sound is huge and the sense of space left by the lack of other instrumentation seems to lend a sense of urgency to this song and to the album as a whole.
Puncher is a great example of less is more, with the sparse guitar lines bouncing off the drums to great effect, and the gang vocals lending a sing along feel similar to fellow duo Japandroids.   
I've talked a lot recently in reviews about the length of songs, and you certainly couldn't accuse WOAHNOWS of padding anything out here: the longest track is only 3:45 long. This is a big advantage with this kind of music, allowing enough time to build up memorable hooks while never letting them become overly repetitive.  
Vocalist Tim Rowing-Parker conveys a good spread of emotion here, both angry and heartfelt, and with a high nasal pitching that's at times reminiscent of Benjamin Kowalewicz from Billy Talent. He keeps the energy levels of the album up at all times. Drummer Adam Wherly is impressive too, hammering out beat after beat at high tempo but creating interesting and energetic counterpoints to the sometimes-furious guitar style. This is particularly evident on No Such Thing, which has some seriously tasty drum rolls.
The breakdown ending of Neutral Haste brings the stripped-back vibe to the front, and gives a welcome respite before next track Livid/Rise hits in with a distorted and high guitar melody that's very catchy.
Here and Now has a great end section that's super heavy yet retains a melodic quality, gluing it to the other tracks well. Closing track Breathing Games combines the themes of the album together, with the manic guitar melodies, frenetic drums and cracked vocals finishing things off nicely.
After several listens to the album, my main criticism would be a lack of one or two really standout songs. To my ears the problem here isn't the lack of cohesion: on that front all the tracks blend together well and the pacing and production of the album as a whole is great.  
What bothers me is that the songs sound very, very similar and share the same fast paced loud/quiet dynamics. That's not necessarily a bad thing in a live situation as it doesn't let the audience's attention wane, but on record it creates a problem in that it's hard to differentiate one track from another. 
This isn't to say I don't like what WOAHNOWS have achieved here in any way. There's a definite energy and spark to the sound that I really enjoyed, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how they progress with future releases. I don't think they've quite created something truly memorable here, but there's enough serious quality throughhout to suggest that their future work might very well yield just that.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Feature: Knights

We had a quick chat with London rockers Knights, who are on the cusp of releasing a video alongside new single Sidonie at a free launch gig this Wednesday...

The Punk Archive: Hey guys, introduce yourselves to our readers? 
Knights: Hi, we're Knights. I'm Digs, singer/guitarist. We've got Jessington world of adventures, drummer; Tom-Orrow never dies, bassist and Oli Oli Oli, oi oi oi, guitarist. We're from London. 

The Punk Archive: Who are your main musical influences? 
Knights: For me, Nirvana, Pixies, Foo Fighters and a lot of older stuff; blues and soul. I like bands where you can hear and feel the emotion.

The Punk Archive: Are you excited to be launching your new single? Is this something that's been long in the making? 
Knights: Very excited, we did film the video a while ago, and it has taken some time to get everything in place for the release. Jess has been going crazy waiting!

The Punk Archive: Where did the inspiration for the song itself come from? 
Knights: Musically, it's a song that sprung from the rhythm section. Jess and Tom were jamming that verse line, and it felt like something special, so I put a chorus and lyrics to it, and it all came together. From a lyrics point of view, it's a song for my girlfriend, it's really a thank-you for all the support and love over the years. It's about being there in spirit when I can't be there in person.

The Punk Archive: The video which accompanies the track is great: did the storyline in it come from the band, too? 
Knights: Jess and I wrote the treatment together, and on paper it was even stranger than it turned out! We all really love the video for Everlong by Foo Fighters, and wanted to do something in the same vein. When we wrote it originally, Jesse was going to play the role of Sidonie! So glad that didn't happen!

The Punk Archive: Is it the real Nick Hewer (from TV's The Apprentice) in the video, or just an exceptionally accurate lookalike? If it was the real Nick, what was he like to work with and how did you manage to get him on board? 
Knights: I'm pretty sure it was the real Nick! It was an absolute pleasure to work with him. He was really generous with his time, and had the whole crew laughing. It's a stellar performance, we couldn't have asked for more. He is a family friend. 

The Punk Archive: What does the rest of 2015 hold for Knights?
Knights: Watch this space I guess. We just did The Great Escape Festival in Brighton; we've got a cool compilation coming up and a single in Autumn. More shows, more songs, hopefully it's going to be a good year to be a Knight!


Knights will be launching Sidonie this coming Wednesday, 20th May, from 7pm at The Water Rats in Camden. It's a free show, and you won't only get to hear these guys, but much more...

Check out two exclusive tracks from Jordan Allen and DREW below, as well as another from Knights




Head to https://www.facebook.com/events/433950326780766/ for further information!