Combined by an admiration for early 2000’s emo bands, Brighton’s As It Is are the latest emerging pop-punk band to be making waves in the UK. Next week sees the release of the bands second EP, 'This Mind Of Mine' which sees them grow as a cohesive unit to produce four songs of honest pop-punk. Having received an overwhelming response from a
Kickstarter campaign and with vocalist Patty Walters’ dedicated YouTube following, As It Is
are a band on the rise. We caught up with Ben to find out more.
After receiving a five star review last month, next Monday sees the UK release of Twin Forks' self-titled debut album. However we're giving away three copies of the album. Find out how you can win one of thee copies here.
With Spring fast approaching and festival season starting soon, March sees a whole load of noteworthy releases. We take a look at five of the must hear releases this month.
Having only just formed last summer, Leeds punks Brawlers have quickly made a name for themselves for their insane live show. Now the quartet have unleashed their utterly brilliant debut EP 'I Am A Worthless Piece of Shit', an infectious collection of fun punk rock numbers. We talked to vocalist Harry George Johns to find out why the longtime friends formed
Brawlers and what 'I Am Worthless...' is all about.
After delivering one of the early contenders for album of the year, we catch up Modern Baseball to discuss ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’, their forthcoming debut UK tour and miming
at the World Series.
In the second part of our "Studio Report" feature with Colt 45, the Cumbria punks finish their debut LP producer Romesh Dodangoda by recording vocals and more guitars. Take a look.
In the first of our new fortnightly feature where we highlight some of the most promising
bands in the pop-punk world, we talk to New York's Firestarter.
In the latest instalment of our "Tour Tales" feature, we join Wakefield quartet Morain on their recent tour supporting Durham four-piece Alexander.
With lead vocalist Matt Pryor having recently completed a solo UK tour, we highlight two albums from The Get Up Kids for the latest edition of "Versus". Already Heard writer Tom
Knott explains why 'Something To Write Home About' is "pure gold". Whilst Senior Editor
Sean Reid shows us why 'Guilt Show' shouldn't be dismissed.
When it comes to supergroups, Elder Brother is one that has remained a little more off the radar than most. A collaboration between Daybreaker’s Dan Rose and Kevin Geyer of The Story So Far, the group has also nabbed members of The American Scene to add into the mix on their debut album, ‘Heavy Head’. The result is a muted pop punk vibe that makes for a great bit of easy listening musicianship, and a more than worthy stopgap between the band members’ other projects.
‘Pennsylvania’, as the album opener, has a lot to live up to considering the strength of previous works by each one of the collaborative quartet. As if there was any doubt, Rose’s vocals combine with the guitar of Geyer as if they’ve been working together for years, and the work of The American Scene’s Vincent brothers doesn’t go unnoticed either as all four band members duel for the spotlight as their first impression as Elder Brother is made a solid one. It’s ‘Throw Me to the Wolves’, however, that has Elder Brother looking like a success in its own right, and not just off pre-existing strengths of the musicians within. There’s no entry requirement for enjoying ‘Heavy Head’ that involves already being invested in the project’s parent bands; this is far from simple “imagine if they put out an album together” fanservice. Nevertheless, as ‘Throw Me to the Wolves’ twists its way through four minutes of superb music with a chorus that was made for arena-filling sing-alongs, the chemistry between the four-piece is certainly not something that has come together overnight.
About five years ago, I would have talked endlessly about how great metalcore is. The constant beat-downs, machine-precise kick drums and over-fondness for a hearty “oh!” were the definition of heavy music as far as I was concerned. Fortunately I’ve wised up a little bit since then. Not long after, I realised that the genre had become over-saturated, unoriginal and lazy by default. With the exception of a few extremely talented bands, most new music came off as either well intentioned but sub-par attempts at reinventing the sound or just cynical cash-grabs.
Fast forward to 2014 and the ranks have thinned, leaving mostly just the biggest names, such as Killswitch Engage and Architects, and a few promising newer bands such as the exceptionally technical Napoleon. That’s where Set To Break come in, albeit quite a bit later to the game. The Bridgend five-piece, formed in 2012, have put together a six-track debut EP that harks back to Metalcore at it’s biggest point. Unfortunately, rather than coming off as a pleasant reminder of the genre in its Hey-day, 'Redemption' just feels like a time capsule from when the style reached saturation-point.
If you’re familiar with this kind of music, you will know all the stops on 'Redemption'. The EP begins with a reverb-soaked intro track that promises dynamic shift into a stomping chug-fest. From there it picks up the pace for 'Made To Suffer', the most aggressive song of the bunch and a clear nod to Parkway Drive which continues through the rest of the track-list.
If I’m assigned a band of which I have no prior knowledge whatsoever, I like to start by stalking their Facebook page like a cyber bird of prey. If I’ve successfully withstood the self-satisfied bios, ironic descriptions, and/or barrage of pointless posts, I like to build myself into expectation. In one word, East End trio Bleech entirely deflated any chance of me feeling even but a hint of anticipation: grunge. Apparently risen from the grave to which it was sent long after it had lost all of its taste and originality, any semblant of relevance fiercely beaten into the ground by swathes of recycled ideas and tired formulas. Much like today’s non-ironic hair metal bands, their lack of widespread popularity is perhaps not so much due to the genre itself, but its connexion with a time and a place that isn’t ours. In an effort to solve that problem, Bleech dilute their grunge with a LOT of melody and, in an effort to exacerbate the problem, seem to want to inject a little Brit-pop in there as well.
Never is this more obvious than on opening track ‘Not Like You’. There’s something about that early drum beat that should immediately remind listeners of the feistier bits of Blur. The trio isn’t just a patchwork of influences though. The dual female vocal attack mixes a lead that almost borders on the typically british drawl (an approach that works great, I’d like to specify) and Kim Deal-esque backing vocals. A considerable amount of time and effort has quite evidently been poured into getting that mix right, and it works magic on tracks like ’I Just Want You and ’Easy Ride’, a languid highlight of the album.
For a record to be considered properly great it needs everything to fall perfectly in to place on a variety of levels. For the New Forest’s Natives, the first incidence of this was exactly the right producer in John Feldmann (The Used, Panic At The Disco) approaching them through the wonders of Twitter and offering to take the helm for the recording of their debut long player.
This resulted in the band making the trip from the South Coast to the sunnier climes of LA to link up with Feldmann and Brandon Paddock. The two men then began the task of helping Natives develop a sizeable cache of demos and musical ideas into something really quite spectacular, ‘Indoor War’.
Normally it takes young bands an album or two to build the confidence, know-how and experience to aim for an album quite as ambitious as this. Somehow Natives have managed to pull off the tricky to master combination of an expansive and intricately layered sound palate, an even more intricately woven set of lyrical and emotional themes that borders on a concept record; all while giving every track a punch packing and instantly accessible melodic hook.
I feel like it’s a crime against music to say that I’ve never managed to get into Death Cab For Cutie. Whilst I absolutely adore 'Brothers On A Hotel Bed' and 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' (then again, who doesn’t?), I haven’t managed to get as far as being able to name any other songs. I’ve heard the album that those songs are from (and I can’t even name the album off the top of my head; case in point) a few times and I know from those few listens that the album, and the band, are something special. Now, when a band are recommended for you if you like Death Cab For Cutie, then you’re going to be expecting big things. Case in point here then with Special Explosion.
I imagined to be hearing very gentle, very sort of mellow and not exactly ‘provoking’ songs from this rather long EP, 'The Art Of Mothering', and immediately I think I did. Opener 'Avery' is certainly more of an intro to the following 6 tracks, but 'Clotheslined' brings more of an impact and the absolutely lovely dual vocal work of siblings Andy and Lizzy Costello. Whilst my first listen was just background music whilst I was cooking, it was two thirds of the way through this track where the overdrive kicked in and I started to take notice. There’s a passion in the softer things in life, but there’s certainly just as much passion when things get a little bit more ‘furious’.
For me Vinnie Caruana has the Midas touch, there isn’t a single thing he’s released that I’ve disliked. I grew up on The Movielife, enjoyed his solo EP from last year, and loved the heavier sounds of Peace’d Out. I Am The Avalanche are no exception, and their 2011 self-titled release was one of my favourites of that year. It’s safe to say I was really excited to listen to ‘Wolverines’ and thankfully, it definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Opening the album is ‘Runaways’, a song sung from a (mostly) third-person perspective, an unusual move for I Am The Avalanche. At first I anticipated the rest of the album to be in this style, a collection of observations and personal stories, but second track ‘177’ puts that idea to rest quickly, with a two-minute blast of post-punk similar to I Am The Avalanche tracks of past.
‘Wolverines’ lacks the catchiness of previous releases, there’s no ‘Holy Fuck’ or ‘This One’s On Me’ to grab your attention, and because of this, it takes up until single ‘The Shape I’m In’ to really grab my attention. This is the first proper sing-along track on the album and it’s super catchy, as is ‘Young Keroaucs’ the song that proceeds it. Caruana uses rhyming couplets as the basis for his song-writing, and while this could easily come across as juvenile, his powerful, heartfelt delivery makes lines like, “Young Kerouacs, before it all went black”, seem like deep moments of introspective observation. It’s a real skill and gives I Am The Avalanche a real driving force behind their music.
These days, a comparison of a Scottish band with downtuned grungey riffs and an adventurous sense of dynamics to Biffy Clyro is just as tiresome a lazy journalism cliché as it is to compare a melodious pop-punk band with a female at the helm to Paramore, however The Fire And I's sound does hold a lot of kinship with their compatriots; a halfway house between Biffy and the scuzzy, raucous chaos of Pulled Apart By Horses, alongside no small amount of influence from a band that shaped The Biff, Nirvana. The Fire And I are a duo, comprising of Gordon Love and Hooligan Sadikson (NB: may not be real names) and ‘Double Kamikaze’ constitutes their second full-length release, following on from 2010’s 'Stampede Finale'. Right from the growling bassline that opens the record on 'Devil's Damned Thoughts' it sets the stage for a wild ride; however, it’s one with more bumps than one might anticipate.
The record’s eponymous track follows on from the aforementioned intro track and boasts a far bigger riff for the refrain than a bass guitar should have any right to produce, and gets the record off to a good start despite the yelped backing vocals, straight out of the book of Alex Pennie in his days in The Automatic, doing their level best to spoil the onslaught. 'Ruined Graffiti' brings Love’s vocal talent to the fore, with his powerful singing ticking all the right boxes, before ploughing into a monolithic breakdown near the end. However, after an encouraging start, 'Coming Loose' feels less like a square peg shoved into a round hole and more like a WWE fan at a Mensa meeting, sounding like a mix between The Cure and 'There Is Nothing Left To Lose'-era Foo Fighters. It’s a perfectly pleasant song, but sticks out like a sore thumb amongst its more riotous forebears.
Direct Effect is a raw and noisy hardcore punk band. Their latest offering, ‘Sunburn’, is an album of 13 noisy hardcore punk tracks. Torn through in next to no time with plenty of screeches and distortion. It’s a beauty. Each track a cacophony of desperation and driving drums: a wall of noise both simple and gigantic. ‘Permanent Vacation’ comes at the beginning, ‘Thoughts of Honey’ at the end. Between the marks is an onslaught.
‘Unknown Disorder’ opens with a cry and grows only brasher. ‘Solar Flare’ sounds like a collapsing star; a beautiful disaster that roars by with no concern for the onlooker. Often, as ‘Yo No Quiero’ will attest, the chaos comes clean, and a solo breaks the howls to provide unexpected clarity by a further level of noise. ‘Moderate Rock’ somehow finds more speed before falling away at the bridge into a pounding drive.
Alaya are the latest shiny new product from Los Angeles: a city responsible for delivering unto the world outstanding music in the past, but equally as culpable in producing vast swathes of rock-orientated doggie-do that starts off thinking it’s something pretty special and ends up in the CD bargain bin in Banardos.
Luckily for Alaya, the kids don’t buy CDs anymore anyway. Nevertheless, their debut release ‘Thrones’ is deeply flawed and makes a right hash of representing a band who are talented enough to write something far, far better.
Imagine a covers band that played equal parts Rage Against The Machine, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Limp Bizkit, and Bring Me The Horizon. Only all their songs are mash ups and no one really knows what they’re supposed to be doing. Terrible, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather pop the kettle on and read a nice book than listen to that? I sure would. Unfortunately, my lot is to repeatedly listen to it in the form of Idiom, whilst attempting to utilize my rapidly melting brain to write about them.
The title track does a good chunk of the damage. Half heavy riff and shouted vocals, half soaring pop-rock chorus, with a little bit of an attempted Zack de la Rocha impression thrown in for good measure. Often difficult beginnings lead to great achievement though. Only, wait, is that Korn featuring Fred Durst? No. It’s just some people trying, for some unholy reason, to write a song that sounds like it is. This particular mess is called ‘Braindead’ and I’m going to avoid the oh-so-obvious joke that a song this bad with a title that apt might allow.
‘Said and Done’ sounds like your dial-up Internet connecting. Only instead of getting to talk to your friends on MSN, at the end of it you have to listen to ‘In The Fall’ . I think at one point it might have been a rave anthem that’s since been infected with some sort of nu-metal virus. Fortunately, should you ever be tortured by means of this noise you can fade out by focusing on one of the worst sounding snare drums of all time as it pounds your love of music to dust.
Since their debut release back in 2006, Brighton’s Architects' status have gradually risen release after release to the point now where their sixth album is one of the most anticipated releases of the year.
'Lost Forever, Lost Together' marks the band’s first release on Epitaph Records, and the first without founding guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook. Nevertheless the quartet have certainly continued to push themselves with a razor-sharp collection of metalcore that exceeds its expectations.
From the start, 'Gravedigger’, ‘Naysayer’ and ‘Broken Cross’ delivers a hat-trick of hard-hitting numbers that will please longtime fans of the band with Sam Carter’s confident clean and aggressive vocals still as powerful as ever. All three set the bar high early on.
Comeback Kid have attained a large fanbase due to their ability to pull together two fast and furious genres of music as seamlessly as only they can. Many bands like to call themselves ‘melodic hardcore’, and it’s a convenient label for music writers. But the Winnipeg outfit truly fit the glove. Their sound is punishing and aggressive, yet they have a love for melody and their musical structures are creative and interesting. Having said all this, I have to admit that following the release of ‘Broadcasting’ I was disappointed.
Original vocalist Scott Wade had left and Andrew Neufeld dumped the axe and took the reins. His voice was howling and bass-y and immediately made them seem more metallic. This in itself wasn’t a bad thing, but perhaps some of the elements that made people so passionate about them originally were missing. Then came 2010’s ‘Symptoms + Cures’, which combined the best elements of their early material with their heavier work, and Neufeld’s vocals felt layered and expansive, having grown into his new role.
This brings us to their latest release, ‘Die Knowing’: their finest work since 2005’s ‘Wake The Dead’ and definitely their most accomplished release to date. Absolutely everything a Comeback Kid devotee, a hardcore fan or just anyone who loves fast, angry yet positive music could wish for is included here. The ballsy, angst-ridden attitude of debut ‘Turn It Around’ is woven into the fabric of the heaviest material they’ve ever written, and it sounds absolutely enormous.
When it comes to French musical exports, offerings of a heavier ilk have always been rather thin on the ground. The nu-metal sextet Pleymo enjoyed a bit of a continental boost from their inclusion in the European version of Rock Band back in 2008 (but not until after the band had called a hiatus that has not seen a reunion since), but aside from them, and of course the giants of Gojira as well, there are next to no acts from the more raucous end of the spectrum that have really landed in a British audience. With new album ‘We Are’, however, the Metz-based four-piece My Only Scenery are looking to join that exclusive club.
In the post-hardcore scene that Britain likes to think it does so well, the quartet certainly fit right in. Opening track ‘The Second Breath’ has a caged lion feel to it, and even when the chorus explodes into life you sense there’s more to come. The second half of the piece is when My Only Scenery really burst into life, with quick fire bursts of energy and a killer vocal-guitar combo the driving force behind the track’s strength. ‘Pagan’s Horizon’ and ‘We Are The Walkers’ are similarly intense, with the latter of the two bringing all the energy of Mastodon meets At The Drive-In; the raw power behind the vocals of Yoan Antignac adding to the massive sound that the French outfit send forth as ‘We Are’ really finds its feet. The seven minute epic of ‘Glass Girl Skeleton’ is a back and forth number; the slow build only serving to make the crescendos hit even harder when the band really lets loose. It’s a tactic that worked so well for Deafhaven and We Never Learned to Live on their 2013 releases, and it’s good to see My Only Scenery revisit the technique and absolutely nail the recipe for a strong lengthy track that never even begins to outstay its welcome.
Formed just last summer, and consisting of former/current members of Dinosaur Pile-Up, Leftover Crack, Castrovalva and Martyr Defiled, Leeds quartet Brawlers have quickly built a reputation for their raucous live shows and now they have released their debut EP. Titled 'I Am A Worthless Piece Of Shit', Brawlers have delivered a fun collection of punk songs that are straight to the point, and definitely doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Kicking off with 'Mothers And Fathers', it sets out the perfect template of whats to come in just 2 and a half minutes; raw, melodic and upbeat punk that instantly has you hooked. There’s nothing more you could ask for.
Without trying to over-generalise, hardcore is a genre that doesn’t see a lot of innovation. A few fantastic bands here and there will push the boat out and make some truly creative heavy music, but for the most part the genre is sonically stale. Sadly, The Mongoloids and Broken Teeth don’t do a lot to step away from that staleness on their latest split release, but on the bright side this is a solid set of songs that will please anyone who expects high quality hardcore, first and foremost.
The Mongoloids' half of the 10 minute split is definitely the faster of the two, bringing strong hardcore punk vibes and the occasional more technical riff which, together with the frantic solo in ‘Mountains of Misery’, gives a semi-thrash feel at points. The singer’s vocals are a little jarring at first – the tone of his not-quite-shouting feels a little forced for the first few listens, but settle into the hardcore punk style nicely after you’ve heard the tracks enough times for the instrumentation to take to the forefront.