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.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Darwin & The Dinosaur: A Thousand Ships

Artist: Darwin & The Dinosaur
Title: A Thousand Ships
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 9th March 2015
Reviewed By: Quinn


My first take away from this album is that it isn't an album.  It's six tracks with short acoustic interludes scattered throughout. They certainly add something to the record, by softening the blow before each track and creating an ambience and sense of feeling that is quite mellow and chilled. It's not really something you expect, and after a few listens, like me, you may just start skipping over them or have taken them off your MP3 player so you can focus on the core material (though maybe that's because I'm reviewing it), especially seeing as a few feel like unfinished riffs to other potential songs. But they are a nice addition, even if used in abundance.

The rest of the album follows a melodic indie vibe, laid over the top of more aggressive post-punk, sometimes metally rhythm, which blends together quite nicely. The vocals and lead guitars really do most of the work to keep each track fresh and interesting. Alan really pushes his voice to its limits, belting out the lyrics without losing any of the emotional impact that comes from a such clean and in-tune vocal track. The rest of the rhythm, as interesting as it is, tends to hang back, doing nothing particularly unexpected and keeps the energy going on a slow burn.

And it is slow, it wouldn't be too melodic if it wasn't. Some of the tracks have an undercurrent of middle-eights running through them, which is something I have been critical of in the past, but surprisingly to me at least, works quite well here. Although it would have been nice to have a really ballsy, quick-paced anthem that encourages over the speed limit driving as you listen to it, but as a whole the record isn't really missing it.

The closest we come to that is on the fourth track (sixth on the album counting the interludes) Riff Town Population - You, which has the catchiest intro and lead on the whole album. It's a slightly quicker tempo to the other tracks, a bit messier, a bit angrier, certainly the punkiest track, though it strays off in the middle into territory already covered by the rest of the albums.

As a whole A Thousand Ships is a solid album. It's enjoyable to listen to and unique in it's use of acoustics to separate each track out, almost as a pallet cleanser, so you're not still clinging onto the previous track as the next starts. It's something I found I've been able to listen to when I just need something to nod along, or to wind down one the way home from work, yet it still delivers a kick and keeps your ears interested and alert throughout.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Live: Die Antwoord

Headliner: Die Antwoord
Where: Brixton Academy
When: 17th January 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

There are some bands and musicians who, when you see them live, are an almost totally different proposition to their recorded and physical releases. South African rap/rave hellraisers Die Antwoord are absolutely one of those: seeing this trio isn't so much a gig as an experience...

I first became aware of Die Antwoord just before Reading Festival 2014, when our resident film expert Jonnie got in touch, telling me that I should not miss them. Having not heard any of their stuff, I went to their Reading set with absolutely no expectation or idea of what it was going to be like. I left the tent 45 minutes later shellshocked, stunned and grinning widely, but equally unable to describe what I'd just seen.

Since then, the trio have been not only a regular feature on my iPod, but also a regular topic of conversation between Jonnie and myself. It's safe to say that Die Antwoord aren't afraid of controversy, and they most certainly do things their own way. It's difficult to "get" them, even when researching the band and it's members.

Speaking to other members of The Punk Archive team about them, a number of words have been bandied around in an attempt to describe just what they're really like. The one which fits best, for me, is anarchic: they're an outlandish, anarchic set of musicians who strive to shock and delight in equal measure.

So, to return to the gig itself. Brixton Academy was completely sold out, with a crowd waiting solely for the main attraction. The warm-up DJ tried hard to engage the crowd, but was largely ignored by the buzzy, excitable fans packed into the venue.

As the lights went down, screams reached fever pitch. From here on, the gig was one massive, effervescent ball of energy which kept burning and burning for the hour and a quarter Die Antwoord were on stage.

I've never been at a gig in which the crowd moves so much as one: Die Antwoord live are an almost hypnotic proposition. It was nigh on impossible to take my eyes off them: Yo-Landi bouncing and squeaking around the stage, Ninja with sheer aggression tumbling from his every movement, and the hulking presence of DJ Hi-Tech catching the attention.

When listening to their physical releases, too, it would be easy to expect a messy, shouty live show. Nothing could be further from the truth: the trio display a cohesiveness which clashes so violently with the content and style of the delivery that it's almost impossible to see at the time: it's only in the cold light of day, one week later, that I can actually appreciate it.

As I said earlier, watching Die Antwoord live is more of an experience than just a gig. Not only do they have intense and sometimes disturbing images on the screens behind them, but at the Brixton show they also had a pretty decent light show, and the same inflatable dummy with a rather large appendage. These are, pure and simple, shock tactics, but they're part of what these rap-ravers do.

To try and describe it: you're caught up in the intense, heavy rap-rave music, being sonically grabbed around the throat by the aggression of it...then you notice a massive dummy stage-side with a huge erection. At the same time as this, there are disturbing images on the screens behind the trio burning into your eyeballs while you're joyously bouncing around with the entranced crowd. The conflicting thoughts and emotions all this raises in you is basically indescribable.

Having released Donker Mag last year, the trio smashed through a handful of tracks from this album, including Ugly Boy and Pitbull Terrier. As well as this, though, crowd favourites Enter The Ninja and  Baby's On Fire were also spat at the seething, bouncing crowd. The only slight let up between what Jonnie and I called "banger after banger" was for a handful of wardrobe changes, with Yo-Landi and Ninja changing the blocks of neon colour their clothing construed.

It was an absolutely brilliant gig: I left in a very similar state to the one I had stumbled out of the Radio 1 tent at Reading in. There's no way to describe a Die Antwoord gig, no way to do it justice. Just make sure, if they're ever local, that you get a ticket, and prepare yourself for something the like of which doesn't come along very often.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

ROAM: Viewpoint

Artist: ROAM
Title: Viewpoint
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 27th January 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

Let's be honest: the UK pop-punk scene right now is pretty fucking great. Not only are bands like Neck Deep smashing it on an international level, but there is so much great young talent coming through with the likes of Midday Committee and Six Time Champion supporting the likes of Real Friends on upcoming tours.

Let's be honest again: Viewpoint, the second EP from Eastbourne five-piece ROAM, is also pretty fucking great.

However, not only is this a great record. In my eyes, it's also a hugely important one.

For me, this is a record which actually goes some way toward proving (if such proof was needed) the longevity of the pop-punk scene. It's a record which pulls together the very best elements of what makes pop-punk what it is, here in 2015, with what made pop-punk what it was back in 1994. It's a record which sets the direction, to some extent, for 2015's releases.

And it's also a record which you want to turn up to maximum volume. Every. Single. Time.

Of course, all this shouldn't really come as a surprise. ROAM have been on the scene now since November 2012, and have been one of the hardest-working acts out there, recently receiving their just rewards by being only the second UK band to sign a worldwide record deal with Hopeless Records. Their first EP was met with widespread acclaim, and they've been building a cult following on the circuit.

It's safe to say that Viewpoint, then, has quite the buzz of anticipation around it.

It doesn't disappoint. The four-track release kicks off with Over Your Head, a track so brilliantly choppy yet perfectly catchy that you can't help but marvel at the songwriting ability that's gone in here. There's a huge amount of energy to it, with the verses bouncing along quick-sharp before dropping into one of the most addictive riffs on the record in the pre-chorus. The chorus itself is everything it should be. It's a really strong opener, and one which tells new listeners all they need to know about ROAM in just under three minutes.

What really strikes me with Over Your Head, too, is the way ROAM have managed to plough their own furrow through the densely populated pop-punk field. There are undoubtedly minor similarities here to bands such as Me vs. Hero, The Story So Far, Neck Deep, Real Friends et al, but fundamentally ROAM have absolutely kept to their identity and managed to still sound individual. The record is all the better for that: it's not just another pop-punk EP, it's one that stands out and moves the game on.

Warning Sign is the lead single for the EP, and again brings all the best features of 2015's pop-punk together. It's again a pretty choppy track, one which is broken up nicely by the complex and rolling drums; at the same time, it does sound marginally like this is ROAM working within themselves slightly. It sounds a little like they've held back a little here. The chorus itself is catchy enough, and  more melodic than you might expect. It's a four as opposed to five-star song.

Next comes 519, weighing in at just under a minute and a half. Rather than feeling like a lengthy intro to the final track, there's enough meat on the bones here to warrant it's place on the EP. The chorus contains some nice harmonies and again is pretty melodic. There's also the complex drumming, here joined by some multi-layered guitar work.

For me, the best track on the EP is actually the final one, Safeguard. There's something about it's slightly slower breakdowns, the rolling bounce and the old-school revs that I absolutely love. Again, there's the perfect amount of angst, catchiness and energy: it's not an aggressive track but one which almost drips with a quiet, confident menace. It's a flag-bearer for the diversification of pop-punk.

It's a tricky one to sum up, this. As I've mentioned, this isn't just another UK pop-punk EP. This is an important EP, which easily displays why pop-punk has a massive part in the scene here in 2015. It's an EP which moves the game on by diversifying that little bit while also staying true to identity and roots.

Our copy of the EP arrived in our inbox roughly two and a half hours ago. It's been on repeat since. It's the quickest I've ever been compelled to write a review in nearly two years of The Punk Archive. If that doesn't tell you enough about it, then nothing will.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Bootscraper / Revenge Of The Pyschotronic Man: The Bear And The Tiger

Artists: Bootscraper / Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man
Title: The Bear And The Tiger
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 14th February 2015
Reviewed By: Lee Morton

Whilst not the most original idea, this split EP from Revenge of the Psychotronic Man (who will be called Revenge throughout the rest of this review) and Bootscraper, where each band cover tracks by the other, it is definitely interesting and well worth your time.

As fans of either band will know, they are quite different: Bootscraper playing acoustic gypsy punk and Revenge a more thrashy speed punk band. Question is, does it work? In a word, yes.

Bootscraper start us off with their re-working of Revenge tracks and first up is Clint Eastwood, The Man with No Name. To be perfectly honest, their mix of Gogol Bordello-like rockabilly folk really suits this track. The title suggests country and western and that's what you get, just spiced up with a healthy dose of punk rawk.

Another Way proves that there is another way of playing speed punk: slow it down slightly, throw in some manic banjo/mandolin playing and give it a sea shanty makeover. Genius. They finish up with their version of Captain Gin vs the Victory Gin, which is probably their least successful offering here. Coming across like a cover of the Popeye theme and a Charleston waltz at times this one is a miss for me, but as Meatloaf once claimed, two out of three ain't bad.

Next up are Manchester-based Revenge who normally dish out lightning fast punk and don't disappoint here. The accelerator pedal is firmly pushed down as they blast through Then You're Hers, barely pausing for breath.

Past Lives of Saints follows, all bouncy guitars and gang vocals. In the hands of Bootscraper The Suffering is a gentle folk/bluegrass number but given the Revenge make-over it stomps by at 100mph.

Final track The Family adds a little ska to the mix and actually reigns the speed in, and is all the better for it. Definitely one for the mosh pit with its chant of "family", I can see this bringing the crowd together in a sweaty sing-along.

Although nothing new here for fans of either band it's good fun hearing someone else's take on these songs and neither band let you down. Unfortunately, since this split was recorded, Bootscraper decided to call it a day, but they leave with their heads held high and, for me, just edge this record from Revenge.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Funeral For A Friend: Chapter And Verse

Artist: Funeral For A Friend
Title: Chapter And Verse
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 19th January 2015
Reviewed By: Adam DT


Funeral For A Friend started their career in style with 2003's genre-defining Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation. It's been voted a modern day classic and is generally regarded to be one of the most important post-hardcore/emo albums of its generation. It was followed by 2005's Hours, which stepped the song writing up a notch and proved that Casually Dressed was far from a fluke.
Since then FFAF have lunged in and out of melodically accessible territory, presumably informed by a rolling line up of musicians, until 2013's Conduit jerked the Welsh five piece into a less apologetic, more abrasive direction. It would seem that this was something of a new mission statement, because whatever your opinion of its content, Chapter And Verse is the heaviest FFAF record yet.
Opener Stand By Me For The Millionth Time makes no bones about what lies in store for the album's 39-minute duration. Matthew Davies-Kreye's half-screamed, half-sung vocals sound raw and intense, intentionally under produced and dripping with angst. The track hits its stride with some heavily distorted, open guitars and surprisingly metal, double bass pedal heavy drumming.
Whether it is a result of Matt's raw, aggressive vocals or Pat Lundy's frantic, fill-heavy percussion, there seems to be an old school, hard punk undercurrent to this record. This is particularly evident in the likes of After All These Years… Like A Lightbulb Going Off In My Head, Modern Excuse Of A Man and Donny, coincidently three of the best songs on here.
In all honesty, I feel like there are some less than excellent moments too. You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself is both musically and lyrically immature, Brother (the record's lone acoustic track) seems forced and out of place and Inequality is, at best, unremarkable (and at worst rather disjointed exercise in letting everyone play whatever the hell they like). The truth is that Chapter And Verse flows pretty well, but occasionally that's because it blends into itself.
That said, it is rough-around-the-edges in a positive way. The production is low key, which really lets its stronger moments breath: the epic, open outro of After All These Years…, the wall of sound that is the last third of 1% and the heavy-as-fuck "secret track" really betray the fun these guys seem to be having with their new sound.
Since splitting from major label life some time ago I entirely respect the direction that Funereal For A Friend have decided to take. They appear to be continuing their musical journey in whichever direction they want, maturing and evolving as a band in the process. Their fan-base remains faithful with good reason: each FFAF album manages to have its own creative stamp whilst maintaining the key elements that give a band its identity. In this respect Chapter And Verse is no different. Some will love it, some perhaps won't, personally I'm somewhere in-between. Either way, to still be dividing opinion after nearly fifteen years is definitely impressive. 

Preview: Circus Of Boom

Following on from our first preview of Boomtown Fair's Circus Of Boom event, we caught up with the brilliant 3 Daft Monkeys...


The Punk Archive: Are you looking forward to playing the Circus Of Boom?
3 Daft Monkeys: These are the sort of gigs that we get really excited about, with a wicked line-up of bands, in a place that will most definitely be looking amazing. From what we've seen of Boomtown, the stages are more like film sets, and we can't wait to see what they have in store. The Boomtown crew certainly know how to put on a party, and we have no doubt that this will be a party on an epic scale. 

The Punk Archive: You've played Boomtown in the past: did you really get into the spirit of, and associate with Whistler's Green as "your" district? 
3 Daft Monkeys: Whistler's Green was a fantastic area, up on the hill, and most definitely felt like our area. It was a flurry of fluffiness in a sea of wildness, and we loved it there. Not to say that it wasn't a party zone in its own right, it felt just right in its combination of upbeat music, mixed with a more traditional 'old school' festival vibe. The crowd for our set was a huge and colourful band of party people, and was our ideal audience. People had to make an effort to get to our stage, right on the top of the hill, and people seemed really excited to be there, and the gig certainly kicked off in just the right way. We did find ourselves hanging out in Whistler's Green a lot, I guess it's because the rest of the festival feels like being in some kind of Mad Max city, and Whistler's Green felt like you were stepping out into the countryside for a quick pint at the local, before diving back into the mayhem.

The Punk Archive: Your show is on Valentine's Day: are you going to theme your set?
3 Daft Monkeys: We will be filling the gig with as much love as we can possibly muster... And that's a whole lotta love!

The Punk Archive: What have you been upto over the past few months: is a new record on the horizon?
3 Daft Monkeys: We've just got back from a national 24 date tour, which started with Cornish village halls in October, and then we ventured out across the land of Blighty, from Liverpool to Norwich, Leeds to London. It was great to see so many people out and about just before Christmas. We were invited into the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show by Mark Radcliffe after he saw our show at Glastonbury Avalon Stage this year, and so in November we went up to Media City and played 3 songs and an interview 'live' on Radio 2. It was a great experience.
We find it hard to write music while we're on the road, mainly because we do all the tour managing, driving, booking and everything in between ourselves. We like to think of our time touring as time to gather new ideas, characters and stories for forthcoming songwriting. 

The Punk Archive: What does 2015 bring for 3 Daft Monkeys?
3 Daft Monkeys: At the moment we're having a quiet January, but we're booking all the festivals for the forthcoming summer. It's looking like we're going to be having a pretty busy and varied summer again, which we love. We just can't get enough festivals! We're also off to France and Switzerland for gigs, and hoping to get a few more in Europe. We'd really like to get back up to Scotland, we love the audiences, and the scenery up there and haven't been for a few years.

It's also the time for us to be writing and recording a new album, it comes around so fast. We'll be spending the next few months jamming, and gathering ideas and inspiration for which direction we will take with the new album, and starting to write before the summer festival season kicks in. We're hoping for a busy year, as it's the touring that we love the most. Can't beat watching a grinning, sweating audience leaping about to us as we wail, scrape and twang away.


Don't miss Circus Of Boom: an eight-date extravaganza in a temporary venue right in the heart of Bristol. The eight dates, representing the eight districts of Boomtown Fair, include:

30th January - The Wild West, featuring Pronghorn, Skimmity Hitchers and Doghouse Boatboys:
www.facebook.com/events/278646008926351/
14th February - Whistler's Green, featuring 3 Daft Monkeys, John Langan Band, Firepit Collective and Gentlemen of Few: www.facebook.com/events/395316453961571/
21st February - ChinaTown, featuring Neville Staple, Counting Coins and Cut Capers: 
www.facebook.com/events/652199564889925/
27th February - Mayfair, featuring Molotov Jukebox, Electric Swing Circus and Big Swing Sound System: www.facebook.com/events/420162034806245/
6th March - Old Town, featuring Special Guests plus Tragic Roundabout: www.facebook.com/events/1595441817357558/
5th April - KidzTown Easter Excursion: 
www.boomtownfair.co.uk/city-guide/city-districts/kidztown-1
10th April - Barrio Loco, featuring Mouse Outfit, Dead Players (High Focus) and Gardna: 
www.facebook.com/events/688848837898831/
19th April - TrenchTown, featuring The Skints plus special guests: 
www.facebook.com/events/306880376189625/

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Stolen Houses / Shiver: Split

Artists: Stolen Houses / Shiver
Title: Split EP
Format Reviewed: Stream
Format Released: 15th January 2015 (MP3)
Reviewed By: Lee Morton


This split EP from Massachusetts natives, Stolen Houses and Shiver features three new tracks from each artist. Both bands share a love of indie atmospheric rock, which is no surprise considering that this split EP was all written and recorded together by both bands over just one week.

The first half of the EP is Stolen Houses, who for a relatively new band have been very productive recently. This split EP is their third release in less than eighteen months, and you can tell that all that practise has been put to good use as the musicianship is very tight.

Opening track, Cold, starts with a gentle intro alongside dreamy ethereal vocals before a sludgy chorus, reminiscent of Mastodon, kicks in. This does come as something of a surprise considering the start of the song and left me wanting to hear more. Fade is more upbeat and jangly with much more of an indie vibe which contrasts against the dark lyrical content. 

Waves is their last offering and continues in much the same vein as the previous tracks with the quiet, loud dynamics of the verse and chorus. When you consider that they are unsigned and do everything off their own back the music they are making is very grand in scale, but I'm just left wanting a little more because they do show a lot of promise.

Next up is Shiver who add a more introspective feel to the mix. It's very apparent how similar both these bands are. Shiver are the more sensible older brother who would rather talk about their feelings whilst Stolen Houses are the younger, angrier member of the family.

Counting Airplanes starts Shiver's trio of songs and a gentle piano intro lays the foundation. It has more of an indie/folk feel than the previous tracks and the lyrics aren't as dark but where Stolen Houses excited me as to where they would go this just meanders along, drowning in it's own self-pity.

The two final tracks Clouds and Bliss neither offer a change in tempo or outlook and left me rather cold. You almost want to grab the singer and tell him to cheer up. It's a bit of a shame really as what started with a bit of a bang ends with such a whimper.