Influenced by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids, Sheffield quartet O Captain have bucket loads of potential of their debut EP is anything to go from. Entitled 'Ghetto Hikes', the bands lyrical sentiment mixed with a stirring indie-pop sensibility quickly won us over. We spoke to bassist Ryan Smith to find out more about the band, their influences, what Sheffield bands we should be listening to and more.
Ww've got reviews and a whole load of live photos from UK Tech Fest 2014.
Having reached over the half way mark, July is a good time to reflect upon the smorgasbord
of great albums that have come out so far this year. Read on to find out what the Already Heard team picked as their favourite releases of the year so far.
After 2 years away, Sonisphere makes it return to the UK. Check out our full coverage of the festival.
Since the release of 2011’s debut album 'Breathe In Life', Parisian metallers Betraying the Martyrs have seemingly been THE name to contend with in the deathcore arena. Continually spoken of in a fevered high that seats them way above many of their peers, they’re back with album number two on Sumerian Records. For a label that boasts some decidedly better acts like Dillinger and Crosses, this band are a total let down.
The majority of sophomore LP ‘Phantom’ feels like 13 tracks of metal by numbers, underscored by the horribly predictable production values which in the age of laptop-metal have lumped the vast majority of new bloods into one giant dizzying game of Guess Who. Is that BMTH? Is that Silent Screams? Is that While She Sleeps? Who knows. Who bloody knows!
Currently storming the pop-punk scene, Real Friends have released their first full-length album ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing’. Having been criticised for drifting towards a generic pop-punk sound with their EPs, ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same and We’re Just Changing’ signals that Real Friends are beginning to move in a more exciting direction. As such, their first full-length album is a promising beginning for this Illinois four-piece.
After a short introduction, ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ gives us the first full taste of the album. The song follows a standard pop-punk template; the builds, the minimalist parts, the big choruses, and so on. It’s noticeable that lead singer Dan Lambton has improved vocally since ‘Put Yourself Back Together’ in both the strength and breadth of his performance. One element that is unavoidably noticeable is the somewhat pop-punk cliché track name. This theme runs throughout the album, and not in the powerful emo sense, but shows the hyperbolic defeat typical of teenagers to dominate the album; for example, one lyric goes, "I’m just a kid with too much lonely space".
The album grows in strength as it goes on, with my favourite tracks featuring in the latter half. ‘Spread Me All Over Illinois’ has a different feel to the rest of the album. It has that same pacey verse yet this is juxtaposed by the build to a slower chorus. This adds far greater and noticeable effect to the song than the lyrics do. The song shows consistency in style with a big outro brought down to palm muting and quiet picking. It is undoubtedly a highlight of the album.
Contradictory to what their name may suggest (not a “swoopy-fringed” metalcore band), Speaking In Shadows are an English rock band formed in 2010 from the town of Nuneaton. Releasing their new EP, ‘Lies We Lead’, Speaking In Shadows have aptly created a mixture of passionate, alternative rock tunes which fringes on the boundaries of post-hardcore. Needless to say it works well.
Kicking off the EP is the track ‘Splinters’, featuring high-powered drumming and jagged guitar lines. It’s a disappointment however, that vocalist Alex Smith’s voice sounds too nasally on this track to be enjoyed wholeheartedly. It’s a shame, as I feel ‘Splinters’ is the only shortcoming of the album. Trying to combine the accessibility of the next track ‘Technicolour Trainwreck’, while trying to capture the chaos of later tracks like ‘Breaking Silence’, ‘Splinters’ does nothing more than fall flat on its face.
Illuminate Me are a hardcore band hailing from South Florida, USA. Having recently signed to Tragic Hero Records, they have now released their album ‘I Have Become A Corpse’. What with their state of residence and zany song titles, it would be safe to expect some fairly rifftastic southern sounding punk. However, in spite of the name of the 4th track, ‘Ouija Board Taught Me Everything I Know’, it appears that Ouija board has neglected to include teaching the band how to make interesting music.
The first track on this album is entitled ‘Voodoo Blues’ and it does set itself apart by featuring Garrett Rapp of The Color Morale, but it’s ultimately a statement of intent in the worst way possible; not one song on this album really sounds much different.
The Summer War tread the line between pop punk and indie rock, which is difficult because you’re trying to have the best of both worlds and definitely risk having the worst instead. Pop punk without the attitude and danger and indie rock without the song structures and lyric strength are not ingredients which mix particularly well.
Other bands have managed it with varying levels of success – you could probably look towards The Automatic, although The Summer War actually remind me more of My Awesome Compilation (remember them?) – a band who used very basic pop structures and simple lyrics and just made it work by having really big hooks and relatable themes.
Returning to your roots, like most things, can be either good or bad, depending upon how it is handled. On their last release, Torrance, California indie punks Joyce Manor took a bizarre, near experimental pop sensibility on ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’. Now, on their Epitaph debut and third LP, the band slightly treads back to where they started, with the style which hooked their fans in the first place. ‘Never Hungover Again’ is the spiritual follow up to their self-titled first album; it is Joyce Manor at their most mature sounding, without losing their trademark catchy bite.
Opening with ‘Christmas Card’, you can tell this is classic Joyce Manor, yet they sound slicker. All the rough edges have been smoothed out, without losing any grit. Follow up song ‘Falling in Love Again’ dazzles with pop infused alt punk, which blossoms with a synth and a sincere finish. Whilst this song and ‘End of the Summer’ are mid tempo sweethearts, the likes of ‘Victoria’ ups the tempo adding a weighted element to the delightful punk tone. The most beefy number, however, comes from the minute long ‘Catalina Fight Song’ (the video of which sees the quartet in a hilarious predicament involving martial arts). It chugs away in a tough to chew, easy to digest fashion. ‘In the Army’ is another song with bite, though it comes with rapid fire guitar melodies amongst rolling drums, sealing a fine partnership of contrast.
'Mediumship' is a record that has opened up new doors in my head. The album from Florida band Dikembe is a masterful slice of music that keeps the blood pumping through the veins with velocity. It’s loud and proud, it’s rough but ready, it has those riffs that are monumental and infectious. The LP will turn heads and will provoke minds.
The album features songs that highlight misery. It’s very solemn and sombre, slicing deep into the skin of pessimism. The sound is enthralling and charged, silencing the disheartening voice of mediocrity. This record doesn’t shrivel up when the light shines on it, it basks in it.
It may seem like an age ago, but it was only last year that The Chariot announced their break-up; the final throes of one of the finest bands modern hardcore has produced. Striking the perfect balance between fantastic recorded output and a live show quite unlike anything else out there, they are unlikely to be forgotten soon by anyone who witnessed their beautiful chaos. However, undeterred on his path to create unique and wonderful music, frontman Josh Scogin returns in the new guise of '68, and for anyone expecting anything along the lines of his previous involvements will find themselves taken aback by the creativity and experimentalism displayed on their debut 'In Humor And Sadness'. A paean to Scogin’s adoration for all things roots-based and bluesy, while this two-piece venture does retain some elements from Scogin’s canon, such as the throat-shredding vocal present since his days with Luti-Kriss (now known as Norma Jean), this has more in common with acts like 'Bleach'-era Nirvana, The Black Keys and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion than following hardcore’s fairly rigid tropes; but then, The Chariot wouldn’t have been half as fun if he’d ever been one to study the rulebook.
The titles of the album’s ten tracks are a single letter each, forming the phrase “Regret not.”, a simple proclamation, but one that manifests itself through this album’s discourse; while the record does not reach an optimum level of consistency, the spaces between the duo’s full-frontal assault are not lamentable as they make the moments of adrenaline-inducing pandemonium more valuable. Right from the off, '68 prove what an almighty racket they can make on Track 1 ('R'), with Mike McClellan (formally of prog-metallers Becoming The Archetype) in thunderous form behind the drumkit, as Scogin’s inimitable vocal and downtuned riffs make a real statement of intent. It seems that Scogin applies the midas touch to whatever he turns his hand to; the frazzled Delta blues of Track 3 ('g') make pretenders like Royal Blood look like the lightweights they are, and the mid-section “whoa”s are sure to win many over when the duo take this material to the live arena.
For far too long the UK Pop-Punk scene has been something of bashful beast with far too many hang ups about its own identity and frequent crisis of confidence and purpose. Admittedly being dropped like a bad habit by many of the bands to have emerged from its ranks and made it to the lofty heights of national radio and TV airplay hasn’t helped. Nor has the long running problem of trying to sound too much like American acts.
However, in the last year or two there have been the subtle signs of the beginning of a resurgence in the genre. A steadily growing array of young UK bands, happy to sing in their own accents and writing some of the freshest sounding pop-punk to be found anywhere in the world. Farnham quintet Homebound are the latest new band to emerge from this confident new scene and their debut EP ‘Coming Of Age’, out this week, is one of the brightest British pop-punk debuts in a seriously long time.
From the get go the riffs are crisp, punchy and begging to energise a room of kids into pogoing their hearts out. The vocals strike a great balance between melodic and shouty and the hooks are simple but infectiously effective. Opener ‘Valour’ maybe short and sweet, but its bouncy four chord riff is as energising as a four pack of Monster and it works very well as an introduction to the band and to set the tone and pace for the rest of the EP.
I was first introduced to Samoans three years ago when they played a more math rock style of music. Fast forward to the release of 'Rescue' and boy how the boys from Cardiff have changed. Upping the intensity of their guitar tone for a more prog-rock feel, it definitely suits them down to the ground. It is easy to see why people are comparing Samoans to the mighty Deftones. With killer riffs and strangely catchy lyrics, it seems like in the remainder of 2014 you are going to hear a lot about Samoans.
The story behind how 'Rescue' was conceived is quite remarkable and really makes how beautiful it is that bit more touching. Having been a band since 2008, you may think why am I only now I am hearing about this band, but in 2012 vocalist Dan Barrett suffered a horrible injury where he broke his back. This did not deter the band it just meant they had to write music in a completely new way and were unable to play live for a while. During this down time 'Rescue' was born and so was a new chapter in the Samoans story.
I recently reviewed the new Brave Bird EP for this site and I was faced with the same difficulties analysing that release as I am with ‘Everything Between Paint and a Wall’. I suppose it’s testament to just how bloody good Brand New really are that it’s possible for even the untrained ear to tell that Grandview very much had them in mind when writing their songs. But the key is to use influences as the materials to create something new, rather than just building an effigy.
Grandview hail from Burlington, Massachusetts - although to hear them sing they sound more like a Long Island band. This is no bad thing but there’s nothing that audibly sets them apart from the characteristics of the likes of Saves The Day and The Movielife from a vocal point of view. The softly struck chords at the beginning of ‘Paint’ are textbook ‘Deja Entendu’, as are the whispered words, heavy with emotion, which follow.
The tracks are intelligently structured both musically and in terms of lyrical arrangement. Their harmonies are both creative and powerfully emotive. It’s very apparent however that the band are also instrumentally far smarter than they are vocally. Whilst Grandview effectively replicate Brand New in so many ways, they lack the same poetic propensity and lyrical themes are poorly developed. This is understandable in a young band though and something to work on for their next release.
US punk quartet Pennywise have now released in total eleven studio albums in total. Rather than pushing even further for newer sounds, Pennywise have returned to their popular early sound with their latest release ‘Yesterdays’. Who can blame them? Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken? However, don’t be fooled as ‘Yesterdays’ is not simply copying the old sound, as Pennywise has kept the sound fresh and attractive.
With the return of Jim Lindberg, Pennywise has regained its original vocalist. This brings a lot more familiarity compared to the 2012 release ‘All Or Nothing’ with vocalist Zoli Téglás. Not only have they retained those original vocals but several of the tracks were the original writings of deceased bass player Jason Thirsk from the late 80’s before his death in 1996. Lindberg had always intended to record these tracks that they had stored away until they felt more “life-affirming”. This rings true with the album touching on emotional subjects at the time such as ‘I Can Remember’, reflecting on the death of Thirsk, differing from the typical political stance of their lyrics.
It’s easy to tell a band that are truly passionate about their music when six albums and 15 years into a massively successful career they are still making records packed with the same heart, fire and potent ideals they did to start with. That is exactly what Chicago activist punks Rise Against have done with new release ‘The Black Market’. Even if, dare I say it, it is their most mainstream work to date.
Although in no way leaving their impassioned punk sound behind, ‘The Black Market’ does at times see Rise Against straying into the arena and radio rock territory so beloved of our American cousins. This is most apparent on first single ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here’, which although beginning in typically frenetic fashion, eventually drops into a huge open chord driven chorus with a repeated lyrical refrain that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nickelback or Theory Of A Deadman record.
’Tragedy + Time’ also features a distinctly poppy mainstream rock influenced chorus hook and provides a rare out and out feel good moment with an uplifting and universally relatable triumph over tragedy message.
It’s not often a record as bold and assured as 'Relief' comes along. Especially from a band still relatively in its infancy. Shortly to fire the starting pistol on a lengthy US tour with Hundredth, San Diego’s My Iron Lung exhibit their charismatic brand of melodic hardcore in a fashion that effortlessly ranks them alongside the certified veterans of the genre. In short, it’s just…really good. Really fucking good
Opening with the gutsy 'Commonwealth', the album sonically beckons the lighter end of At The Drive In and even elements of Balance and Composure’s 'The Things We Think We're Missing' in the guitar work of tracks such as ‘Hard Season’ and the brilliant 'In Defense Of Drowning'.
Washington quintet The Relapse Symphony are a hard rock band who combine 80s glam metal with a modern twist, yet they have created a fairly generic, debut album. Before anyone starts picking fights for no reason, being generic isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided it’s done well. However, The Relapse Symphony are too hit and miss to have a created a solid listen throughout. While some tracks provide notable sing-alongs that the casual listener will enjoy, the majority of the album is too vapid and uninteresting to create a worthwhile impact.
Their music is certainly not unheard of, with bands like Black Veil Brides and Glamour of The Kill spearheading this more modern glam rock/heavy metal sound into the limelight. To their credit however, The Relapse Symphony aren’t afraid of shying away from their pop sensibility, and with help from some excellent production, try to etch a combination of glam metal style and pop accessibility into their songs to create a memorable listen.