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.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Albums Of The Year: Top 25

25. Rancid, Honor Is All We Know
Going strong since 1991, 2014's effort from the legendary Californian punks shows just how relevant they remain. Though far from treading new ground, Honor Is All We Know reminds you exactly why you love Rancid. It's an album you'll continually be pressing the repeat button on, desperate to hear once again the brilliant gang vocals, politicised lyrics and catchy choruses.

24. Hollie Cook, Twice
One of the UK's brightest talents, Hollie Cook released her second album in May this year. Easily one of the most laid-back and luxuriously beautiful records of the year, Twice delivers track after track of bass-heavy and deeply groove-led reggae. Hollie's voice is simply sublime, pairing perfectly with the upbeat, summery feel to the tracks. Tiger Balm is a real stand-out track from the album, condensing into four minutes everything good about Hollie. If you haven't checked her out yet, get on board now...

23. Hornets, No Faith
Irish four-piece Hornets blew us away with the hugely energetic No Faith in March. This is one of those records which grabs you and doesn't let you go until you're worn out and near-deafened frNo Faith is heavy, hard-hitting, and certainly hardcore, yet retains an inherent punk feel, and one which we absolutely love.
om the sheer force, energy and power which throbs through it's veins. It's a brilliantly produced and seamless EP, with absolutely no filler whatsoever.

22. Restorations, LP3
Certainly Restorations' best effort yet, 2014's LP3 was also one of the best albums of the year. There's an overriding sense when listening to the record that these guys are on the brink of something massive. The album itself, too, feels massive: it's lavishly produced, and pulls together a vast array of different genres and techniques, somehow combining them into a cohesive and addictive collection.

21. Real Friends, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We're Just Changing
What a year it's been for debut pop-punk albums. Real Friend's debut is right up there with those we've already raved about. So full of melody and intimacy, you find yourself really feeling for troubled vocalist Dan Lambton and his woes. If you listened to 2013's Put Yourself Back Together you'll know exactly what I mean. Maybe This Place… hasn't really moved on too much from their previous release, they have very much picked up where they left off, minus the references to 'sleepy eyes' and 'boney knees'. It can all be a bit too doom and gloom, it's not an everyday album, and it's not an instant classic, but it is a joy to listen to when you're in the right mood for it.

20. Hellwinners, Hellwinners
The fact that Hellwinners is a four-track EP and it makes our Top 25 is testament to just how good this band really are. An audaciously addictive and massively catchy release, it's one that you'll be playing every single day once you get it. There's no doubt that Wired Awake is one of the best songs this year has given us: the edgy, strained yet melodic vocal and choppy, aggressive drumming and guitar styles batter the listener into submission in true punk rock style. The EP is fast-paced, non-stop and downright fantastic.

19. Stanley Odd, A Thing Brand New
If you like your hip-hop socially conscious and combining a handful of genres of music, then A Thing Brand New is for you. Stanley Odd, a Scottish hip-hop collective released their second album in 2014, and it was one which surprised us with it's eclectic style and intelligent lyricism. The record is a truly unique one, with the collective's Scottish accents playing a key part in their sound alongside the sometimes-blues, sometimes-jazzy, sometime-other style. How they get the mish-mash of instruments and styles to work just shows how talented they are. Definitely one to put on the Christmas list.

18. Owls By Nature, The Forgotten And The Brave
Although not necessarily what you may call typical fodder for The Punk Archive, this one had to be included in our Top 25. There are some truly outstanding elements within this record. It's one which strips back music, and rebuilds it based on the purest features. There is no wastage here, nothing unnecessary, and absolutely no filler: but at the same time it's hauntingly beautiful at times as well as displaying some outstanding musicianship. We even went as far as to call it "life-affirming" in our review back in November. If you fancy a bit of respite from the punk, metal and alternative we write about, give The Forgotten And The Brave a go. You won't be disappointed.

17. Six Time Champion, Expecting Honesty
Another EP making our Top 25, showing just how fresh the UK punk scene is right now. Six Time Champion released one of our Editor's favourite records (period.) this year, combining youthful energy and aggression with modern pop-punk. Although clearly rough diamonds at present, Six Time Champion have that certain something which the best bands have. There's a grittiness and authenticity here which you can't learn or buy: it's natural and not many bands have it in as great a quantity as 6TC. We think they could be the flag-bearers for UK pop-punk in 2015. You heard it here first...

16. Blitz Kids, The Good Youth
A band that seemingly continue to fly fairly low under the radar, Blitz Kids' The Good Youth is one of the standout albums of 2014 purely because of their ability to pen astoundingly catchy choruses. It's not a unique or innovative record, but what it does, it does very well. On My Own is one of those songs which'll have you moving, singing, and replaying time and time again; while Sometimes is exactly the same, with some angsty lyrics thrown in for good measure. We love this album's pick-up-and-play feel: it's one which gives you instant gratification. Winner.

15. Mungo's Hi-Fi, Serious Time
The Scottish DJ duo have had a memorable 2014, and Serious Time is undoubtedly a contributing factor. This is a brilliant modern dancehall record, one which pulls together some of the best recording artists in the scene with modern interpretations of classic reggae rhythms. There's three standout tracks in particular, but overall it's a solid five-star record. Can't Stand It, however, is the album's best song by some distance: the huge bassline and dancehall style combined with Warrior Queen's perfectly pitched lyrics and political stance meaning it's nigh-on impossible to not play at maximum volume.

14. Colt 45, The Tide Is Turning
It seems like we've been following our favourite Cumbrian three-piece, Colt 45, for some time now, so we were hugely excited for the release of their debut full length this year. With excitement comes expectation, however, so we're delighted to be able to name The Tide Is Turning as one of our albums of the year. A truly gritty street-punk'n'roll record, there are flashes of true brilliance here amongst all the 'outstanding' the album contains. It also showcases the band's breadth of talents, with slower, more emotive tracks such as The Simple Things Are Working blowing away and involving listeners brilliantly. It's a very endearing and almost comforting record, this, and one which suits any mood. Brilliant.

13. Gnarwolves, Gnarwolves
What a year it's been for these boys. Not only did they release their self-titled full length, but played the Main Stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals, as well as hitting up America and announcing tours for Japan and Australasia into 2015. They're a band amassing legions of fans as they go: and it's hard not to join that legion when you see or hear them. This album is more of the same from Gnarwolves: but when that 'same' is so good, you can't help but love it. Smoking Kills is a brilliant example, and the go-to track on this fast-paced roller coaster of a skate-punk album.

12. The Bunny Gang (feat. Nathen Maxwell),  Thrive
"A beautifully constructed set of tracks which are...delightfully mellow" is how we summed up Thrive when we reviewed it in September. The more and more we've listened to it, the more and more we've fallen in love with it. An album which is perfect for the end of the night, the start of the day, or just whenever the hell you fancy, it's complex, multi-layered and a downright brilliant listen. We found it to flow perfectly, smooth and melodically almost melting it's way into your eardrums and consciousness as a whole. There's something for everyone here.

11. Backbeat Soundsystem, Together Not Apart
Another artist we only became aware of this year, Backbeat Soundsystem have released arguably the best reggae record of 2014. Not only is it a genuinely accessible record, but it's one which doesn't lose it's longevity, either (as can often be the case with the most accessible). At their best when slowed down and pared back, Backbeat Soundsystem clearly know their way around a melody or two, with not just the guitar, synth, bass and brass melding together gorgeously, but the vocal too. I would recommend listening to Together Not Apart on some high-quality speakers or headphones, though, as there is instrumentation and layering here you don't want to miss.

10. Me vs Hero, I'm Completely Fine
You waited four years for this record. It was worth it. In the new wave of pop-punk, it's hugely reassuring to know that Me vs Hero stuck to their guns, delivering on what they know best. I'm Completely Fine is easily one of the standout albums of 2014, with it's energetic and catchy delivery alongside angst-ridden and powerful lyrics. Me vs Hero have clearly grown as a band through their years of adversity and this album sounds like a joyous celebration of that fact. It's not complex, and it's not difficult or challenging to listen to. What it is, though, is plain and simple brilliant UK pop-punk.

9. The Hotelier, Home, Like Noplace Is There
A record which left us numb with awe, The Hotelier delivered a record which conjures up emotions you didn't even know you had earlier this year. Although we first heard it in February, we pretty much knew it would make this list then. The album is beautiful, melodic and intelligent, with lyrics covering some challenging subjects maturely and sensitively. It's subtle and powerful, and one every record collection cannot do without.

8. Rise Against, The Black Market
How do they keep doing it? Rise Against's seventh studio album sees them in as rude a health as they've ever been, with all the classic elements still here. Not only is this a brilliantly addictive and catchy rallying cry, it's a really intelligent and well-pitched record which suits 2014 in so many ways. Alongside this, you've got some brilliant videos (in particular for lead track I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore). Sounding more melodic than ever, yet still massively pissed off, The Black Market has something for every Rise Against fan. There's also People Live Here, a track which genuinely pulls at the heartstrings with it's emotional and intelligent lyrics. It's classic Rise Against.

7. Mad Caddies, Dirty Rice
2014's best purely ska-punk album, Mad Caddies have delivered arguably one of their finest records in Dirty Rice. There's not a single song on this riotous skank-fest you won't love, all of them featuring the Caddies' cheekiness and huge brass elements. The band's sound has changed a lot over the years, and here is at it's most mature: but don't see that as a bad thing. They've mellowed a lot but sound better for that. Shot In The Dark is one of our favourite songs of 2014, with Back To The Bed and Brand New Scar following closely behind. Perfect for a skankathon or just to chill out to (there are some brilliant basslines in here), Dirty Rice shows Mad Caddies back to their best.

6. Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
To be totally honest, Against Me! didn't just release an album in January this year. They released something far bigger than that: this is a piece of art, it's a protest movement, and it's a perfectly pitched bullet into the heart of bigotry. As to be expected, this is a different sound from Against Me!, but one which matches the album's content and style perfectly. Transgender Dysphoria Blues isn't an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination; but that is part of it's brilliance. Give this record the time and effort it deserves and you'll see why it's so high up our chart.

5. The Roughneck Riot, Out Of Anger
Folk-punk ain't dead. It's kicking, screaming, alive, and it's all down to The Roughneck Riot. Out Of Anger is a defiant middle finger to, well, just about everything. The sheer energy, passion and grit which runs deep through and is the heartbeat of this album is so rare nowadays, that to harness it and put it through the means of folk-punk rock is something truly special. There are no songs on Out Of Anger which deserve less than five stars.

Some of the harmonies and melodies here are new to the genre but move the game on so dramatically that when you listen to records from Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys, they begin to sound hugely out of date. Lyrically, too, the content here is brilliant, with The Roughneck Riot getting their political stance clearly positioned. It's a genuinely incredible album, this, and one which you need in your collection.

4. Neck Deep, Wishful Thinking
There's no doubt about it. Neck Deep have truly earnt their place in our Top Five this year. Certainly one of the hardest-working bands out there right now, they've delivered an absolute belter, especially considering they've only been a band since 2012. Every song is full of win, from the now legendary Growing Pains to the heartfelt album closer Candour. They seem to have effortlessly combined the usual harmonies we have come to expect from the genre with the increasingly more common rushing guitars. It's hard to say exactly what it is which makes this record so good, but it works. 

Another massive selling point about this record is that it's from a British band. There aren't many British pop-punk bands for us to properly shout about but dare we say it, they're probably the biggest pop-punk band in the world right now off the back of this record (excluding heavyweights blink-182 & New Found Glory et al of course). The fact they spent all summer playing Warped Tour says it all, and we can't wait to see them again when they touring here early next year.

3. Riskee and the Ridicule, Dawn of the Dog
We couldn't possibly fail to have this album in our Top Five of 2014. The MC background of front man Riskee perfectly mould the punk-hop backbone of a band into a force to be reckoned with.  The socially conscious lyricism and the musical hooks generated by the band have resulted in an album that deserves high acclaim. 

Dawn of the Dog delivers in spades the energy contained within the UK underground punk scene, combining with some of the best lyrics of 2014 and a truly punchy style of delivery. There's huge variation here, too, with the call-to-arms of Roots clashing with the slower, more emotive Skyline. If you've seen Riskee live, you'll know what they're all about: their debut album condenses that perfectly. Check this band out.

2. The Menzingers, Rented World
Another band who just seem to be getting better and better, The Menzingers brought us a nigh-on perfect album this year. Rented World is only their fourth full-length, and it feels as if they're really starting to hit their stride now.

The mix of styles in Rented World is what really elevates it. There are some straight-up, simple pop-punk tracks such as I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore, as well as some hugely moving and haunting songs such as Transient Love, which quite simply is one of the best songs of the last five years.

They're a band you can't help but feel delighted for. So likeable as a unit and in their sound, it really feels as if Rented World is the culmination of eight or nine years of hard work. It's brilliant to see the band getting the credit and acclaim they deserve.


Lonely The Brave, The Day's War

There's not really a lot more we can write about The Day's War. Reading our Editor's review back in September ( will tell you all you need to know about an album so clearly head and shoulders above anything else 2014 has to offer.

The astonishing humility with which Lonely The Brave have been receiving the widespread acclaim for what is purely and simply a masterpiece is a measure of the band, and sums up again just what it is which makes them so special.

Even sat here, writing this now, with the album on as this is being typed, the incredible emotion it conjures up are flooding through the keys. Never has an album made so many people feel so many things. Never has an album had so many interpretations and so much power for so many people.

The Day's War, with it's washy guitars and beautiful melodies, heart-breaking melancholy, life-affirming optimism and outstandingly haunting lyrics is such an instant classic that it feels familiar already. It's one of those albums that makes you feel like it was written just for you, and because of that produces an overwhelming emotional response from it's listener.

Which, in our view, is exactly the way music should be.

We've heard perfection. It's The Day's War.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Interview: Richie Ramone

Our Editor Dan caught up with legendary drummer Richie Ramone ahead of his Camden Barfly show last weekend...

The Punk Archive: Thanks for taking the time to meet us today
Richie. It’s a pleasure to see you in London, are you enjoying yourself here?

Richie: Yeah so far it’s been awesome. Camden is so cool, it reminds me of the East Village in New York City, there’s so many people. It’s a lot of fun.

The Punk Archive: Yeah, it’s really bustling out there today… So are you excited to be playing here? Excited for the gig?
Richie: Yeah! This is our fifteenth date, I think. We did Italy, Spain, a few more here then we go to France before going home for the holidays.

The Punk Archive: Which was the best country to play in on this tour?
Richie: (drawing breath) That’s a hard question. Everywhere’s been great but I think the kids in Italy and Spain are a little more aggressive than here in the UK, so that kinda makes my job a little more fun, with them punching me around you know…

The Punk Archive: Do you find the crowds nowadays are a lot different to those from the 80s when you were playing with the Ramones?
Richie: No. It’s kinda the same thing, I don’t see any difference.

The Punk Archive: That’s a good thing, I guess, to see that the energy’s still there…
Richie: Yeah, the energy is a big part of this thing, so…

The Punk Archive: So you’re the only Ramones drummer to sing and compose songs for the band yourself. Would you say that’s something you’re proud of? Do you see it as an accolade or just part of the day job?
Richie: Part of the day job. It’s just part of who I am, you know? I don’t think that stuff, it’s other people that say that. I love songwriting, playing, producing, singing… so I do it all.

The Punk Archive: So when you joined the Ramones, they were in a bit of disarray. People have said, I think it was Joey, that you reinvigorated the band.
Richie: Yeah.

The Punk Archive: How would you reflect on that?
Richie: I think that’s true. I think that every time you get somebody different, a new member in any band, it changes the dynamic, you know, it gets the blood flowing again. A lot of people tend to be on their best behaviour at that point.

The Punk Archive: Did you feel that you brought something new to the band?
Richie: Yeah, I mean, I don’t care what band it is, when you change drummers you change your sound. The heartbeat changes. I brought more of an aggressive style of drumming to the band and it shows on those records. That’s just again who I am, it’s not anything forced. 

The Punk Archive: Would you say that a lot of the stuff you did back then is relevant to today?
Richie: The message is kinda timeless, it works for all generations of kids, and the songwriting stuff. I don’t think that kinda stuff changes, ever. I think the Ramones’ music is timeless, it never sounds dated to a certain year, that’s what made it so special. Some things you hear now, they just bring you back to where you were: the Ramones is timeless. You can still listen to Blitzkrieg Bop or something like that now without saying ‘oh my God, 1976’.

The Punk Archive: Did the Ramones start the punk movement for you?
Richie: Of course they did. You know, punk was just a term, whatever that is; but yeah, they were the ones who just stripped it down, and came out with it. Everybody else followed. 

The Punk Archive: How would you define punk?
Richie: Punk I defined as, you know, it’s not about your mohawk or the clothes you wear or anything like that. Punk is being true to yourself, punk is not being a fake. Punk is being who you are, and that’s what you do. No extra additives. Just be yourself, man. That’s what I think punk is. 

The Punk Archive: So in terms of the modern punk rock around nowadays, what’s your opinion on that? Is there anything you particularly enjoy?
Richie: There’s some great stuff out there. Teenage Bottlerocket are one of my favourite bands, those guys really know how to do it. But the thing with what’s out now is that they didn’t walk the streets in the late seventies in New York city and wherever else, you know, California. That was a different time. So you always have that which they could never get, they could only dream about it, but they can’t really feel it in their gut. We have all that other stuff behind our thing, you know? Not to say that the music coming out now is bad, that’s not what I’m saying. All I’m saying is that it was a way of life for us. 

The Punk Archive: What motivated you to get back into music? Into going out, playing shows, writing again…?
Richie: Yeah, there was a time, you know, I think I took off about ten years. I didn’t play drums, I was blown out. Then I started feeling terrible, something was eating at me, I was just not with it. It really was that the music had to come out of me again, so that’s what got me going. I played in a few Joey Ramone birthday bashes in 2006; that inspired me to start writing and the whole deal. It just kept snowballing. Someone said I should do a record, and you know, that’s a big deal to do your first record, but somehow I got through it. It was just the way the timing went. Maybe I wasn’t ready before. I waited so long, but I’m plenty rested now!

The Punk Archive: Are you happy with the result? Are you pleased with the record?
Richie: Loved it. Loved it. I would have canned it if I wasn’t happy with it. I mixed for seven months; I had a lot of people helping on it and it really came out like I wanted it. It’s that little metal flare I add to punk: adding metal to punk is as aggressive as you can get. It has the true roots from me, and I just colour it a little bit. It works well. 

The Punk Archive: So in terms of the videos that have come out as well…
Richie: Aren’t they good?

The Punk Archive: They’re incredible. Did you direct them as well?
Richie: No, I had other people come up with the ideas. The latest one, Entitled, Steve Appleford: it’s probably my favourite video I ever did. It just really came out cool. That’s a whole different thing making them. You have to be on your game. They came out good.

The Punk Archive: You have to almost be an actor as well!
Richie: A little bit, yeah. It’s hard not to be really performing live, so I would still make sure the music was loud and sing it hard, so that my veins would pop. It is hard: it is some kind of acting I guess.

The Punk Archive: But you’ve really enjoyed making the videos, adding another string to your bow…?
Richie: Yeah, I don’t mind it, yeah. We did three twelve-hour days: there was a lot of footage. 

The Punk Archive: So in terms of the last few days of the tour: are you looking forward to those or do you need a rest now? You’ve been on the road a while now…
Richie: No no no! We’re ready to go! We’re doing eleven shows in a row right now. Days off, sometimes, for me, I don’t know what to do! I get bored. They seem like forever. I’d rather just keep going; every night’s a different night depending on the crowd.

The Punk Archive: So what does 2015 hold for you?
Richie: More touring, I think we’re going to do a lot of touring. We’ll be back probably in May or June and go to some other countries, you know, like Berlin and other places that I missed this time. We go to South America in February for a month, so I’m really looking forward to that one, and we’re gonna be writing. I’m gonna do another EP sometime in the middle of the year, just to keep it going. I think I’m just going to do an EP, it’s simpler, six songs: I can pick the best six and put them on there.

The Punk Archive: Did you write too many songs for the album?
Richie: You always have a little extra. Buying records and stuff is really weird now though, EPs are easier, people buying one song online or whatever. That’s enough to keep them motivated. You only need one song per record to keep them going. 

The Punk Archive: Would you say the way the music industry has changed has negatively affected the scene?
Richie: No, it hasn’t affected the scene. The business side of things, record labels and selling records has all gone, so we have to spend our lives more on the road to make a living, because there’s no real profit in record sales any more, cos nobody buys them and I understand that. I’m not fighting the system. But the fans, they would like something: I’ve released my records on white vinyl, and they like that, you know? Something that they can hold. 

The Punk Archive:  In terms of the influences for your new songs, are they the same as for those you used to write?
Richie: Same thing, same thing. If you’ve heard the record you’ll know I tend to be a dark writer, I’m not a real happy, poppy writer, and I don't know why that is, it’s just the way it comes out with the emotion. I think if you look at the songs I wrote before, you know, Somebody Put Something In My Drink, Into The Fire, shit like that, you know, those are all kinda on the darker side.

The Punk Archive: That’s good, that’s…
Richie: That’s who I am! 

The Punk Archive: Another part of your uniqueness is the fact that you’re a singing drummer. You don’t see many! Did you learn that from an early age?

Richie: Early, early age. I started out playing wipeout, then my older brother Lenny was always a horn player, so he was always in bands. I was playing live by eleven, twelve years old. I learned a lot from that. I started singing and drumming at an early age. It was always natural. It’s just when you play this, rock like this, it’s a real test of where’s all that breath coming from, you know, where you gonna get your air from? Ben Regan plays with me though, so I can come out front, kick the kids in the head and have a good time with them before going back behind the drums. It works really well. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Warner Drive: City Of Angels

Artist: Warner Drive
Title: City Of Angels
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 11th August 2014
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman

L.A. five-piece Warner Drive's third album, City of Angels, is a steady rock'n'roll re-visitation of the band's hometown and musical origins.
Rising From The Fallen isn't a particularly strong start to the album. Though the lead singer's ability to hit a note is good, the tone appropriate, there's some off-putting lyrics that rhyme with clumsy pop-chart predictability, each line not really adding any consistent development from its predecessor but sounding more like a series of rock'n'roll themed sentiments, held together by a classic rock backing track that isn't intrinsically detrimental but fails to stand apart. A synth line introduces itself towards the end then proceeds to add little to the conversation. 
The album's title track is based around a distorted riff that rolls around an unsurprising ascent and descent somewhat flatly, sort of slow amongst a gratingly repetitive refrain: "The cit-eeeeeeeeey / of angels". Later, an effective palm-muted guitar harmony on the main riff and a finish that cobbles up some vocals in canon show off the band's capable skill, but the underlying lack of interesting delivery and track-to-track repetition makes it hard to be something that would have the influence to make someone rock out. Rather than a sharp and arresting rock, what we are given here is more like a sweaty wrestler's entrance music.
Boys N' Girls opens with a half decent chord progression, though sadly littered with dodgy lyrical insertions. This trend continues in Radio Love Song. Both track's guitar solos are technically proficient and melodically undeniable, something that Warner Drive are certainly good at and that will allow them to make a few shred-friendly fans with this record, but it's a shame that this care isn't applied to the track's other segments. Despite aiming for a harder form of rock'n'roll, there's something in the band's delivery, a Metallica-style sluggishness to the proceedings, that just doesn't personally hit home.
King of Swing has a more lasting impact than most of the other tunes, questionable lyrics and cheese elements aside, the instruments have a more cohesive feel on this track, helped along the way by some bright and smoothly set basslines and the galloping opening melody.
West Memphis Three opens with the band’'s recurring cheesy strut, but in this tune it's presented with some catchy moments. This is nicely followed by the superior Ah-Ha, one of the more comparatively welcome tracks on City of Angels, which has a persuasive and pleasant groove to it that's unabashedly cheesy, relishing in its upbeat vocal harmonies, aided by some excellent bass hooks in the verse, giving what in other tracks sounds a bit cringe-inducing more of an enjoyably cheeky edge; you can hear that the band had fun with this one.
When we finally get to Fully Loaded, a nod to the musicians' early band name, Warner Drive seem to be really trying. This final track is fortunate with more pace whilst suffering similar problems to the previous tracks; perhaps it's the initial mention of the devil and ballad-style unveiling of the vocals, the much-needed energy and slight country-rock leanings meant that this track places itself in the shadow of existing classics; I soon found my ears had wandered off and were enjoying the Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia.
From the outset, it's not a striking album, but there's some admittedly competent rock throughout the record, and those familiar with the format might not be entirely disappointed. From listening to City of Angels, and bearing in mind the fact that Warner Drive have played around two hundred shows a year, you can imagine that although the listener isn't blown away on this album, the band's style might be something that's experienced a bit more wholeheartedly in a live context. I can only hope.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Feature: Six Time Champion

James, vocalist for UK pop-punk heroes Six Time Champion answered a set of A-to-Z questions for us recently...

A song which made you want to make music: Linkin Park, By Myself

Best album ever written: In my opinion, Meteora by Linkin Park

Craziest moment you've experienced in the band: For me it was playing our first show, I'd never even considered stepping on a stage before at that point, so that was pretty nuts for me!

Deepest lyrics one of your songs features: "And it's true that I should have learnt to drive, now I'm taking loneliness within my stride"

Easiest song you've written: Would have to be Separation, that just fell right into place.

Favourite show you've ever played: Would have to be the first date of our little weekender with Trash Boat and Homebound in Worthing!

Guest you'd most like to feature on your record: Dallas Green

Happiest moment you've experienced in the band: Again it would have to be that Worthing show, was such a great night!

Interesting fact about one of your band members: Rich loves dinosaurs, to the point where he has them tattooed all up his arm. 

Jokes you have in the band: The most consistent joke is probably the suggestion that our songs sound better without the vocals. At least I hope it's a joke...

Kicking off your set is best with which song: Running Dry

Longest distance you've travelled to play a show: Not too far actually, about 60 miles to London. We're hoping to head much further out in the new year!

Most inspiring musician you've ever experienced: For me personally, it's Dallas Green all day long, his live performance is flawless.

New band you'd recommend: Weatherstate.

Opening for this band would be ideal: A Day To Remember.

Place you'd most like to tour: Japan, I'm sure it would be an experience...

Quote that you'd like to pass on to readers: "You are your own memorial, so find your mark and leave it".

Reason for the title of Expecting Honesty: The title pretty much sums up the general idea behind all five tracks.

See us live at: We've got plans for the new year, but can't reveal anything just yet! 

The old days of music were better than those you agree?: Erm, no not really, I think the majority of mainstream music is terrible these days, but if you look a little deeper than that, there is so much quality music being produced at the moment.

Unusual merchandise: Saw an Acacia Strain Christmas jumper the other day, with "The Human Santapede" on. 

Variations you'd like to do on any of your songs: Perhaps some acoustic versions at somepoint. 

What bands have you seen live and regretted: It would have to be The Summer Set, I just can't get past the cheesiness, it's unbearable.

X-rays or any other treatments needed for band related injuries: Not yet, I'm sure something will go down eventually though!

You could have written any song in history, which would you pick: Sex Bomb by Tom Jones, because who wouldn't want to be responsible for such a tune!

Zoo animal that best describes the personality of your band: Gotta be a rhino!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Spiders: Shake Electric

Artist: Spiders
Title: Shake Electric
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 23rd November 2014
Reviewed By: Jonjo Cosgrove

Coming from Gothenburg, Sweden is the band Spiders. Releasing their second album Shake Electric, the band are looking to once again entertain their existing fan base and expand, finding new fans with this, their sophomore record. Starting off like a classic rock album, Mad Dog gives a sensation similar to the 80's when you would feel your fist punching the air as Joan Jett or Pat Benatar filled your ears. Clocking in at just 2 minutes 20 seconds, it is the shortest track, but definitely an effective one. 
The title track, Shake Electric, sizzles to life. Honestly, I really love the sound by track two, feeling I was in the 1980’s rocking to this band in an underground club with a bottle of beer in my hand and a stack of hair shuffling back and forth as I nodded along with the track. 
As I continued to listen to this album, I found myself really enjoying the riffs from the Swedish band. Spiders continued to impress me as rock staples, such as the cow bell and harmonica, come into play. I like these little touches a lot, and it's pleasing to report that the songs never overuse these items. 
We hit track four and the mood changes to that of early grunge. Only Your Skin lets me hear a world that would have been possible if Nirvana was a female-fronted group. Singer Ann-Sofie really has got a defining voice, I could not even try to say she has copied or purposely taken anyone's influence (though I can definitely feel a Joan Jett or Cherie Currie in there): this is just a great voice. This, however, isn't the same for the actual flow of the music, where many inspirations are incorporated to produce Spiders' sound. Not a criticism, I like the blend of areas which are fused together. Hearing songs such as Mad Dog or the upbeat Control, I see these as the songs which The Runaways never made.
This album is fun; the only thing I would have liked is maybe a bit more originality in the tracks. I love the ideas they use and the acts they pay homage to include many female rock acts who unfortunately don't receive much attention. I had to listen to The Runaways' self-titled album afterwards as this was the only release I could really say matched what Spiders have created. I would not explicitly compare the two, but similarities do run through. The sound is rawer than most releases in rock today and it has a rebellious streak in it too. Overall I like Shake Electric. Spiders' second release is not only fun, but nostalgic and creative. I really would like to see where the band go next. The four-piece could possibly follow a grungier route as they did in Only Your Skin. Great music, rich sounds and a cracking vocalist.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Atlas Losing Grip: Currents

Artist: Atlas Losing Grip
Title: Currents
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 16th January 2015
Reviewed By: Dan Stoten

One of the fantastic things about music is that you can choose a track, album, or band to suit any mood. Essentially, if you want something that's instantly accessible, giving you an instant hit like a shot of pure whisky to your musical brain, there's plenty of artists and tracks to choose from. If you want background music; again, there's loads. Angry? Multitudes to choose from.

Equally, then, it follows that there is music which is far from easy to listen to; complex to hear and interpret. Not all music is written to be instantly accessible and to be just slapped on while getting ready for a night out or while on the way to work.

Currents by Swedish rockers Atlas Losing Grip most definitely fits into this category. What we have here is sixty-six minutes of challenging, hugely complex, and boundary-pushing melodic-rock-tinged-with-punk. Call it what you will: it's certainly epic.

To front it, this is far from an easy listen. I have had to listen to the record a good four and a half times in order to be able to put finger to keyboard. My first reaction was that this was a boring record, one which didn't stand out from the crowd. This was my first reaction purely because I wasn't actually paying Currents much attention: I wasn't making any effort to listen to it. Put the record on as background music and it is totally wasted. It won't work on your journey to work. You need to sit down, and listen. Nothing else. Don't get distracted by social media. Don't be interrupted by the instant gratification of your favourite TV show. Sit, listen, and give Atlas Losing Grip the time that Currents deserves.

The record treads a line between some of the scene's most hardworking and respected bands. Throughout the whole thing there are elements of Propagandhi, which is a compliment to any recording artist. There's also elements of Bad Religion-esque punk energy, and the stadium rock style of Metallica or similar. The Swedish five-piece match this hardworking ethos, and have also endured their fair share of recent turbulence, with vocalist Rodrigo just ahead of Currents' release.

So, to the record. Where to start?

I'm going to try and do this one thematically, as it's such a personal and complex record that individual interpretations of it are what make it so powerful. One of the overriding features of Currents is that complexity: there are songs here which on first listen are exceptionally confusing and challenging to listen to. Your brain, if not ready, almost doesn't quite understand what's happening and consequently begins to shut down your ears and your concentration. If you don't let that occur, there are rich rewards to be gained. You'll hear the massively addictive chorus in The End. You'll appreciate the epic musicianship in the eleven-minute Ithaka. You'll recognise the passion within Shallow.

The album isn't so much a grower, more the definition of grower. Every time you hear it, without fail, and concentrate on it, you'll fall in love with it. Over and over again.

Another feature the album has, for me, is it's togetherness. It's surprisingly difficult to separate out individual tracks when listening to it. It's such a complete record, one which pulls you into it's world (if you allow it) and then keeps you in the bubble, oblivious to the outside world, for the whole of it's sixty-six minute duration. It's a genuinely powerful record, but it's tricky to put a finger quite on why that is.

I must also mention the superb musicianship throughout the album. As I've said, it's a hugely complex album, and not only in individuals' interpretation of it. The music is massively technical and to get such a rounded, polished feel to it is testament to Atlas Losing Grip's skill. Finally, ex-vocalist Rodrigo here has a perfectly matching voice: it's truly melodic and grand-sounding.

Not all music is going to give you instant gratification. We should celebrate that which doesn't as much as that which does. Take an hour, sit down, listen to Currents. Properly. You will not regret it.

Caves: Leaving

Artist: Caves
Title: Leaving
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 3rd November 2014
Reviewed By: Rania Watts

Bristol's Caves released their third album entitled Leaving on November 3rd. I find it quite inspiring that all of this incredible "noisy, feedback-laden pop-punk" comes exclusively from only two incredibly talented band members, who utilised enough instruments to house a four-piece band and their ability to make it work by playing more than one instrument. This self-fortified, well-oiled musical couplet consists of Lou Hanman (who is responsible for vocals, guitar and drums) and Jonathan Minto, who not only plays bass but vocals as well. The knowledge and ability to play more than one instrument has seriously impacted this band with an immense positive fortification of sound and lyrics.   
I know that many individuals consider feedback to be quite annoying and unnecessary; I find that it extenuates the sound of not only the musicality from Caves but also the pure expression utilised for this specific album recording. While researching Caves and their sensational sound, I discovered that they are currently offering for purchase not only CDs but vinyl copies as well, which, in my opinion is quite beneficial; there is a movement of indie musicians who are starting to offer their music on vinyl, back to the roots of how melodies and harmonies should be played. Yes, CD quality offers clarity but vinyl provides us with that warm radiating feel that oozes from our pores as we listen: there is a clear and distinct difference in sound for sure. A vinyl copy of Caves' album would definitely pay homage to what they have so graciously offered with their talent.  This honestly goes back to how I feel this genre of music should be listened to. 

Absorbing the lyrics throughout this recording made me feel as though I was eavesdropping on someone's musical journal. There are indeed many messages throughout Leaving that are quite timeless and relatable regardless of the age. Let's take for example the song Compare which is truly my favourite from this entire album (although Dull comes a close second!). Compare will leave the listener feeling positive about who they are, what they want to do and encourage them to be fearless.  We all have moments in our lives when we constantly question ourselves and our abilities, yet this song affords us a moment to basically say "fuck it!" I am who I am, and if you cannot accept that, too bad as I am an individual and honour myself, mistakes and all!

Not only will Leaving consume your essence with its words but also your body, especially your feet: I have Caves on right now, exceptionally loud and blaring: exactly how they should be listened to!