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.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Arizona: The Hunter, The Gatherer

Artist: Arizona
Title: The Hunter, The Gatherer
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 20th October 2014
Reviewed By: Katherine Tapp


Some records have the ability to make you immediately want to find out whether that artist is playing at any of your local venues. Post-hardcore rockers Arizona have acheived this with their debut EP, The Hunter, The Gatherer. This EP will have you picturing the amount of head-banging, moshing and circle-pits it's going to generate during a live show. 
There are only four tracks on this EP, and each of them are worth listening to for their heavy riffs and passionate vocals. While there isn't an awful lot setting them apart from some of the other post-hardcore bands out there, this doesn't make it a bad record.

The EP opens with Black Hart which is notable for its simple, yet well structured riffs which would sound brutal live. This track is followed by The Hunted, which takes longer to kick in but is worth listening to for its raw screams throughout.
The third track, The Gathering, repeats the process of simple riffs and raw screams, but by this point it is getting a little tedious. Luckily the fourth and final track Preacher provides a bit of a break from this, and easily becomes the best track on the EP. It lulls you in with a slow start before introducing the sound that you have come to associate with Arizona. This track acts as a good conclusion to the EP as it makes it clear we will be hearing more from the band in the near future.
Overall it is a strong, consistent EP. While it can be a little too much when listened to all together, each track is well structured and showcases the band's potential. They do have a sound that you can associate with them, but it seems more thought needs to be put into making this more unique in comparison to other contenders.

Interview: Finch

Following the release of new album Back To Oblivion, we caught up with post-hardcore rockers Finch...

The Punk Archive: How does it feel to be back together again, playing music?
Finch: It's mostly the cliché "good to be back with the boys playing in the band feeling"… but also for all of us, I think, navigating the 2014 music landscape has come with a slight learning curve.  We know how to be a band, how to tour, how to rock the house… but definitely since our last hiatus, the emergence of social media in everything we do has been a shift.  Everyone seems to want to be a voyeur now.
   
The Punk Archive: Give us an overview of Back to Oblivion. Do you have favourite tracks from the record?
Finch: This new record is a return to the unknown that is the band life, the music life, and tour life: the amazing, the crushing, and everything in-between.  It's a semi-commentary on social breakdown and the hope of return. Back To Oblivion as our entry back into the music foray is us doing a record that we think is missing from 2014's landscape.

The Punk Archive: In your eyes, how does it differ to your previous releases?
Finch: I think it might reflect us in our slightly more mature form…  I don't think this group is as angry as it used to be.  There's still plenty of things for us to pissed about in the world these days, but the young adult angst is kinda gone now.  I think we went back to trying to write a rock record that spoke to what's running around in our brains now.  Jumping back into the foray of band life,  leaving our families to try to take care of them, and wanting generally a better world.   

The Punk Archive: What would you tell fans of your previous works to expect when hearing it?
Finch: Don't expect anything, just listen…. It's a Finch record.

The Punk Archive: What reaction are you hoping to receive from it?
Finch: We hope that everyone takes it in and gets what were trying to do.  A little bit of a sound that we think is lacking at the very moment from music people digest.

The Punk Archive: How have your influences changed over the past ten years?
Finch: I think the general 'getting older' thing has been the biggest change in everything. Some of your priorities shift and you start seeing the world in a little different light. I think that creeps into the music you listen to, the media you take in, how you act in the world and whatnot…  In music land, I'm not searching out the most aggressive and intense thing I can find at all times.  I mellowed out a little I guess!  

The Punk Archive: Letters to You is an absolutely timeless classic. Do you think your music ages well?
Finch: I think that a good song is a good song. If it resonates with people, a song will stand the test of time. I think Letters To You is one of those songs that people find something in that they can reference back to their own lives no matter what the year.

The Punk Archive: On the subject of Letters to You, the drum riffs on the chorus of that track and of Postscript sound very similar. Why is that? 
Finch: Ya know, people have tried to peg me on stuff like that, about that record, for a long time! Music I came up with and bands I jammed didn't have any hard and fast rules about how you can never repeat a figure. At the time, I think what we did felt like it served the song. What It Is To Burn wasn't exactly tracked in the order the record appeared… the fact that those songs ended up right next to each other in the final album order was how the deck fell to make the album feel right.

The Punk Archive: Have international events over the past decade changed your musical mind-set?Finch: International events? I don't really think anything's really any different than it's ever been, right…? There's always been some crisis or some horrible thing going on somewhere in the world hasn't there? Sitting there watching the media is just going to paint a picture of pain and suffering for sure. That stuff moves units… I could find you booms and crashes for people all over history. But, I think you have to be aware of that stuff but not let it dominate your mind… there are a lot of good people in this world too. I fight with myself to be positive and push in the right direction anyway, so I think that struggle just keeps me trying to make stuff that makes people feel good in the end, regardless of what's happening in the news or whatnot.

The Punk Archive: From all your releases, which are you most proud of and why?  
Finch: I'm not going to pick a favourite child! Each release has something unique to it and brings a different vibe.  Each one has done well in its own right for its own reasons.

The Punk Archive: What do you think of the scene now? How much has it changed across your hiatus and has it done so in a good way?  
Finch: The scene, like everything else, just moves a lot faster and is more reliant on machines. Music moved around the air in a digital form is the norm now.  If you don't let people stare into your life with social media, you aren't keeping pace with the status quo. If you're in a band, the fans expect to be able to find out every little graphic detail. They always wanted it, but now it's kinda do or die.  Music production has been democratised (for better or worse) and now you have so many more things to chose from… kinda more of everything.  It's a brave new world!

The Punk Archive: How were your first post-hiatus live shows in 2013?  
Finch: They were crazier than we ever expected! We were just expected to do one show and now I'm sitting here answering questions for you about our new record: they were so good! Those shows definitely showed us that the fans wanted a new record.

The Punk Archive: What does the rest of 2014 and 2015 bring for Finch?  
Finch: Touring and support for Back To Oblivion mainly.  Get out there and start bringing the record to the people!

The Punk Archive: And finally, what is your favourite bird?
Finch: Actually, at the moment, I would have to say the Humming Bird! There's tons of them around my house and we put out feeders with juice for them.  It's fun sometimes to sit there and watch them come in and jockey for position on the feeders, those little things can be crazy aggressive! They're so agile, they can change course at any time, its fun to watch them zoom around. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Rise Against: The Black Market

Artist: Rise Against
Title: The Black Market
Format Reviewed: CD
Format Released: 15th July 2014
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

As always appears to be the case, it's been a year of 'big' album releases from the most established bands. Equally, as always appears to be the case, some of these releases have blown us away (Against Me! and The Menzingers being cases in point), while others have left something to be desired (NFG, we're looking at you). The Black Market from Chicago's Rise Against certainly falls into that 'big album' category, but does it impress?

In a word, yes. The Black Market is Rise Against's seventh studio album, but they're sounding as fresh, as pissed-off, and as downright brilliant as ever.

Lead track from the album is I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore, which was released in tandem with a very affecting and powerful video earlier this year. It's Rise Against at their most incendiary best, with Tim's vocal straddling the line between raw aggression and incredible melody brilliantly. It's also a brilliantly punky song, with gang vocal, a massive, catchy chorus, and drums so sharp you could cut rocks with them. As an opening salvo to the record, it's stunning, and a real indication of what else to expect.

At the same time, though, it is worth mentioning that The Black Market generally is not a change in style, or not really anything different from Rise Against. It plays to the band's strengths well, and only serves to show just how relevant and important this band are. To stay the test of time sticking to your guns as Rise Against have done is truly the sign of a masterful set of musicians.

What it also feels like, to me, is a real campaign record, a real call to arms. Rise Against have always propagated their politics brilliantly, but in this album they've managed to really get to a position where it's not preachy, but superbly front-of-house. It's a protest album, and one which appeals to everyone because of that. There is relevance here for all of us.

There are certainly highlights amongst the twelve songs here. Tragedy and Time is the next stand-out song for me. It's got a slightly more relaxed feel, the revving guitar not quite as frenetic, drums keeping time well but not as aggressively as before; while the chorus is actually quite beautiful in it's delivery. It's an early-evening sunset on the verandah type song (if you would ever choose to pay melodic hardcore punk in such a situation!). The harmonies here are gorgeous and quite gentle, almost morose. It's a great song, once again vintage Rise Against.

Sudden Life is the next highlight: very much akin to Appeal To Reason-era RA, this one is a massive, massive song. It sweeps and soars far and wide, to me creating the image of an eagle circling and soaring in a huge sky. The chorus is, as ever with RA, catchy and melodic, but here has a bit more of an edge than Tragedy and Time. The whole track is slightly more aggressive, but still feels nicely rounded.

The last song I want to talk about specifically here is People Live Here. It's a close battle but this could well be my favourite song on the album. Rise Against have a series of slower, acoustic, 'person in a war-zone' songs (think Hero Of War), all of which are hugely poignant, haunting, and brilliantly put together. For me, People Live Here is the strongest one of those the band have written. It's almost unbelievably beautiful. It's a massively emotional track and one which Tim's voice nearly cracks in. Content-wise it's absolutely spot-on for the issue it's targeting: it's one of the most current songs I've heard for a long time. Astonishing.

So what we have here, then, is vintage Rise Against. Is there any more we could want?

Live: Maycomb

Something completely different from The Punk Archive here: a review written live actually at the gig! Millie Manders just couldn't hold back...

Headliner: Bleach Blood
Support: Maycomb
Where: The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch
When: 16th October 2014
Reviewed By: Millie Manders

Glorious beard, striped tee, bass guitar. Such is the frontman of this immaculate pop-punk band. Flanked by equally glorious musicians, Maycomb took the stage by storm tonight. I'm not usually a fan of high-pitched male vocals, but these are beautiful, and the harmonies created by the rhythm guitarist dull the sweetness and round off the sound.

It feels like I'm standing here discovering something that will turn into something huge: on the precipice of a massive success story just waiting to happen.

They have travelled down from Wolverhampton to be the main support to dance-punks Bleach Blood (search them here: nothing but love from the TPA crew for those guys!), and they are most definitely doing their slot justice. I don't think I will be the only new fan tonight.

The musicianship is tight, the balance of bass and guitars is perfection, and those bloomin' harmonies...yes!

I wasn't planning on reviewing. I was planning on a night off, yet here I am tapping away into Notes on my phone, right while Maycomb are on stage. They're just so worth diving back into journo-mode for!

Looking for a new band to love? Look no further. Go find Maycomb. Yummy.

Lancaster: Journeys

Artist: Lancaster
Title: Journeys
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 17th November 2014
Reviewed By: Rania Watts

Press play, close your eyes and immerse yourself into Lancaster and the pain, joy, bliss, anger, frustration, anxiety and freedom that our life 'Journeys' afford the world of humanity.  

The guitars ravaged with pure inertia: frenetic expression throughout, even through the core compositions of the ballads within the quick tempo pieces.  A voice that beckons the longing of the past, confusion of the present and mysterious puzzle of the future. This is the emotion that pours from my aura as I write my review of the alternative rock band Lancaster.  

Lancaster, a band with roots in Spain who felt desire for a stronger global presence more than what could have been initially offered within their country of origin. Before I start getting into the thick of my Lancaster review I would like to introduce you to the band: Anth Alonso houses the powerful and immensely emotive vocals, Rubén Gómez and Nacho Larraza completely kill it on their respective guitars, deep bass sounds are courtesy of Adru García and lastly pounding sardonic, blissful and intense fever on the drums is Miguel Vera.  
The name of this EP, Journeys, really holds immense verity throughout the pieces which take the listener on not only a musical journey but one which is also tremendous for the spirit. 

I have to say, that once I finished listening to the entire album, I was quite pleased as the title Journeys holds true to the content being offered inside.  

Upon first listen to this record, I found it reminiscent of Canadians City and Colour and the guitar playing similar to guitarist Joe Satriani: in my opinion both tremendous contributors to the world of music. Each song takes you on a path that has not yet been walked upon: freshly stamped out grass and dirt with shoes that beckon for one to run, crawl, hike or simply enjoy a leisurely walk.  

Allowing my mind to wander, if I had the opportunity to interview Lancaster what are the questions I would ask them? I think first and foremost, what did they have to endure during their life travels to write such a powerful EP? The frenetic brilliance of each of the up-tempo songs, paired with the ballads in-between are completely outstanding: the balance attained in perfection. I think they were right, Spain is too small a place for them; this band is destined to be a global hero outside of Europe and the UK for sure. The careful layering of not only the placement of the songs but the passion behind them is overwhelming.  

OK, I realise this may sound a little bit odd but I am going to go for it anyway: this is how I would compare the title of each individual song. Each one requires various terrains to get from point 'a' to 'b' as in with life.  We have different shoes that we wear:  combat boots, sandals, high heels, Mary-Jane's: the variety of the terrains being offered in each of these original pieces of music is immense.  We all have moments in life where we have to walk into places that we do not want to: the songs on this album genuinely command courage with each step and terrain that we are being exposed to.  

Amongst the perfect blend of fast-paced songs with accompanying ballads, my favourite is Bridges; it connects the missing gaps not only with the musicality but significantly through the lyrics as well. There is much darkness within the housed lyrics in this piece but exceptional hope as well something I find to be inspirational: suffering for your art to create something unique and beautiful. Lancaster have done this. Hallelujah is simply exquisite; instruments talking to each other causing your body to not only move in unison but to simply just sit and listen to all that is going on in that specific song.   Something about hearing the guitar intro in Young Blood had me right at the very first chord that was struck. To be completely honest, there is not a single song that I did not enjoy listening to here. 

This is certainly one record you should definitely consider adding to your collection once it is released in November. The music on Journeys is meant to be relished.

I'd like to close my review with some of the lyrics from Bridges: 

“I close my eyes and 
Feel the water
All over my skin
Here’s the silence again
When I close my eyes
And here's the rain again”

Sigh!  One word: wicked! 


Fights & Fires / Idle Class: Split

Artists: Fights & Fires / Idle Class
Title: Split 7"
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 17th October 2014
Reviewed By: Tom Lehmeier

On first listen, these two bands share a bunch of qualities. Both have a tight, honed and passionate sound. You can hear Fights and Fires' rock influences in a heartbeat with rolling guitars and hardcore vocals. Tracks Happy and Maps lack a punk edge that the singers voice demands and, whilst competent, the musicianship on the rock melodies isn't technical enough and warrant a heavier rock and roll band. What you're left with is a kind of middle of the road ‘rock by numbers’ that leaves you wanting more. 
The release with the EP exclaims how much the band tour and it tells with their formulaic tunes. You can hear that they are band that are defined by their live shows and that energy is difficult bottle up in an EP. That said, however, they are clearly good at what they do and have the makings of an original sound.  

Sharing the EP are German punk poppers Idle Class. They have the same rabble rousing tint that Fights and Fires have. Idle Class have likeable hooks, endearing lyrics and are undeniably catchy: all factors that make up a kick-ass punk pop outfit. Die Trying and What Would Bukowski Do? are pretty indistinguishable as far as punk pop tracks go with choral sing along bits mixed with epic breakdowns. You can immediately imagine their hometown shows being an utter blast. They sing as if hailing from Middle America and not their native Germany but that is nothing new and with the energy they give to these two songs you can forgive the faux accents, as behind it lays genuine passion.

Guerrilla Monsoon: Big City Plans

Artist: Guerrilla Monsoon
Title: Big City Plans
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 27th October 2014
Reviewed By: Millie Manders


Guerrilla Monsoon is a punk band from Birmingham that according to their various social pages like “Drinking and Trouble”…  I’d give you a bit more information, but I don't have any so you'll have to bombard them with tweets and messages to find out their history, unless you are a life long fan, in which case, do tell us a little more and why you like them.

Before I get into the album and my opinion thereof, I feel it is important to let you guys know the very definition of the word 'punk' in relation to music.

Urban Dictionary says this: 
TRUE: louder, faster form of rock and roll, often anti-establishment
FALSE: fast, tone-deaf pop-rock, often about relationships
TRUE: The Ramones
FALSE: Blink-182
(Blink-182, by the way, can, and are, classified as pop-punk, ergo allowed to sing about willies and teenage dreams and relationships.)

NB: Just because you play loud, aggressive music badly whilst singing badly it does not mean you're punk. It means you're playing loud music badly and singing badly. Content and musicality have to play a part no matter what genre you choose to place yourself in.

Punk is also closely linked with anarchy, uprising and revolution. It is to go against the grain in some way, creating your own path regardless of the powers that be, and because of the powers that be, in a very outspoken, often roughshod and aggressive manner. Watch any interview with John Lydon and you will find he is well informed, well read and fairly anti-establishment. Punk.

Sadly, Guerrilla Monsoon have either never understood what it is to be “Punk Rock” or this is some sort of irony that escapes me.

There are however some decent song ideas hidden in here. The title track Big City Lights has some really hook-y melodies Whisky and Wine has a great bass line underneath it.

The fact that this is one of the messiest albums I have had the displeasure of listening to in a long time makes it really hard to actually concentrate enough to pick out things to be constructive with.

The timing isn't held through an entire track on a single song. If you are going to play fast music, have the stamina to play it to a click in the studio, or don't play it. I know what you might say here: what about the Sex Pistols? Well…one of the reasons they were so popular was they were political. You could also hear their message…

The vocals are unnecessarily screamy without real annunciation making content difficult to understand (although what did come through was alcohol, and touchy feely feelings stuff, not very punk), added to which they are out of tune and the harmonies jar. Badly.

Perspective. Less Than Jake lived in a caravan together and toured homeless. Life experience fills their songs.
The Clash: Anti-establishment  lyricism, musical experimentation, rebellion. 

Both of these bands are/were tight on stage and in studio situations. 

Believer, the eighth track on Big City Plans is probably the best track on the album for me. The guitars bring some sweet melodics and the breakdown is actually well executed. Unfortunately the climactic vocal as the band comes back in is a good semitone flat. 

Again, I stress, there are some good ideas here. It could be a successful set of songs, but it would need to be played to a higher standard all round, with (dare I say it) decent vocalists, and then popped into the pop-punk section of the music collection.

Sorry GM. I’m out…