This week Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s The Wonder Years released their fourth album - ‘The Greatest Generation,’ a record that sees the pop punk quintet reach their creative peak in a number of ways. With a wealth of material in their discography, Already Heard's Sean Reid and Tom Knott took on the tricky task of picking out the five best songs from The Wonder Years. Find out what we picked and let us know if you agree or disagree?
Following the release of their superb 'Signals' album, Mallory Knox have certainly become ones to watch in recent months. We caught up with the band to discuss joining Search & Destroy Records, how vital the festival season and touring are, what it feels like to be a part
of the expanding British rock scene and much more.
Over The Ocean have crafted a compelling, brooding record with their latest effort ‘Be Given To The Soil.’ With intense specific precision and delicate accuracy that echoes the likes of Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros. Jesse Hill from the band to discusses how the
album came together, the importance of precision, being compared to post-rock pioneers and more.
After a top ten UK album and an outstanding UK tour with festival dates on both sides of the Atlantic to follow, Bring Me The Horizon are having a fantastic 2013 and are now featured in the latest edition of "Versus." It's ‘There is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There is a Heaven, Let’s Keep it a Secret’ vs the bands latest release, 'Sempiternal.'
We catch up with Newcastle Indie Rock quartet Alexander to find out more about their debut album 'Say Hello' for a “Already Heard Track Guide” feature.
Having briefly returned to the UK for the Hit The Deck Festival before starting a European
tour, we caught up with vocalist/bassist Ned Russin to discuss the bands progression in sound, differences between UK and US festivals, their recent split with Touché Amoré,
having friends on tour and more.
Instrumentation has never been the forte of folk bard Ben Marwood, who prefers the austerity of recording alone in a room with an 8-track. In fact, despite the simplistic quality of his songs, a lot of debut album ‘Outside There’s A Curse’’s charm came from the grainy, lo-fi quality of its sound. However, converted critics were largely convinced by the cynical troubadour’s distinctive brand of angsty and observational brand of lyrical work. Marwood made a name for himself for his effortless ability to jump back and forth between themes of personal turmoil (largely fuelled by self-hate, it appeared) and scornful examinations of “extra-personal” subjects.
The application of a more polished, studio-formed, sound is the biggest change on sophomore album ‘Back Down’, as Marwood does away with the more forgiving “Bon Iver” aesthetic. A brave move from the thirty-something minstrel, whose somewhat monochrome voice consequently suffers from sounding, on occasion, a little off. However, not only is Ben Marwood’s bitter lyricism left unscathed from the transformation but it is also applied on a greater variety of soundscapes (though not to the extent that Frank Turner has on recent albums). Note for example this diverse handful of tracks: the sweet minimalism and touching wordings of short opener ‘For the Skin and the Bones’, the tastefully country-tinged ode to aging ‘We Are No Longer Twenty-Five’, and the rockier full-band foundations of ‘I Promise That It’ll Be Okay’.
Press To Meco certainly have an innovative unique style and sound. Their instrumental talent is infallible with their catchy sweeping melodies and influential heavy beats. ‘Affinity’ is a hard-hitting rock EP that certainly packs a punch or two.
The band has two vocalists, Luke Caley and Adam Roffey, the two overlap and entwine with one another throughout the tracks to create an upbeat angelic sound. However, I have to admit I am slightly uncertain if this technique works, by using backing vocals it just makes it plain cheesey. The vocals just don’t compliment or work in harmony with the heavy instrumental rock vibe.
The EP begins with the title track ‘Affinity’, which has a fantastic profound fast-paced beat with electrifying riffs. The tune is captivating and creative, with powerful strings and drums. Next is ‘Wasting Time’ which has a slower-pace, but still using those inventive thrilling riffs and extensive melodies. The chorus is fantastically catchy; however we have more angelic vocals that simply clash against their heavy rock sound.
As It Is are a pop-punk band (yes, another one) hailing from Brighton, England although judging by their sound and their penchant for John Hughes films they probably wish they had grown up in a suburban neighbourhood in America. ‘Blenheim Place’ is their new EP and follows up the early demos the band recorded after forming in May 2012 (Happy Birthday, by the way).
The EP opens with ‘Every Year Gets Better’, a pop-punk track that veers across the spectrum. There is a hint of The Story So Far in the pace and delivery of the lyrics of the song, but with a more refined style.
It has to be said, it’s hard to question or fault the talent that is coming out of Britain at the moment; with bands such as Young Guns and You Me At Six starting to leave marks over in the States, it’s so clear to see how much big rock talent we’re producing on such a small island. Alexander should be no exception to this; ‘Say Hello’ delivers a fresh sounding, perfectly styled indie rock album with a pop edge that should be a hard one to miss this year. ‘Say Hello’ is the ultimate summer album; ‘You Lost Yourself’ is a dancey indie pop track with a completely Foals-esque chorus that is completely addictive whilst ‘A Sweet Song’, showcases their more mellow side with a sweet acoustic number. It’s not hard to imagine listening to some of these tracks in your garden, kicking back in the sun. Moreover, the combination of its soft indie rock with upbeat pop melodies means it’s an appealing album to most people and is also ideal radio material.
‘Maimed For The Masses’ is a taster EP for Night Birds’ forthcoming full length, ‘Born To Die in Suburbia’, and unfortunately the New York based quartet haven’t inspired me to rush out and grab a copy just yet.
The title track is an up-tempo but routine three minute punk-rock effort that is crying out for a vocal melody or a high point which just never materialises. It’s perfectly listenable but not once do you get that desire to hit repeat and run at it again (unless, of course, you’re reviewing it and feel like five listens is a suitable judge). ‘Barred Out’ and ‘Last Gasp’ both follow a similar suit. We’re promised passion and guts on the press release yet I just don’t hear anything that’s fresh or new here. The closer, ‘Boat Trash’, is just a few yelps away from a fairly exciting and adventurous instrumental two minutes but again it’s hardly breaking the mould.
Montreal’s Trigger Effect are a well-oiled machine of musical output, constantly producing short, sharp releases. Since their debut was released in 2007, the band have toured constantly, finding the time to spit out a 7”, a 10”, EP and an album, creating the last two in a single one-shot recording session. Their latest effort ‘What’s Left to Eliminate?’ was created in their usual fashion; written, recorded and rehearsed in the stolen moments between their hectic touring schedule. The band’s first ever release in the UK will arrive exactly a week before they hit our shores to tear it up for the first time, and if this effort is anything to go by, it’ll be the first of many visits.
Produced by Ian Blurton who’s worked with The Weakerthans and Cursed, their second full-length is similar to previous effort ‘Dare to Ride the Heliocraft,’ yet manages to pack in songs which are doubly as tense, yet half the length.
Koji brings us his debut full length ‘Crooked In My Mind’, an acoustic based album supported by the Lauryn Hill band, La Dispute, Title Fight, and Balance & Composure. The man behind Koji, Andrew Koji Shiraki, is an advocate for many groups, like Invisible Children, and often involves storytelling, visual art, and media into his live shows to bring the focus to empowering youth with positivity. This motive shines through in his lyrics, and you are left feeling that every note and every word is deliberate.
An acoustic-based album can be difficult to pull off, but Koji has no trouble crafting a dynamic album that avoids monotony and is instead full of interesting and unique lyrics, melodies, and rhythms. ‘Distance/Divide’ is sultry, with melancholy lyrics that give a touch of dramatic emotion while keeping it mysterious. Vintage sounding guitars give it a throwback vibe that sets it apart. ‘Creeping’ highlights Shiraki’s clear, powerful voice and meaningful lyrics whilst incorporating strong instrumental melodies.
For a band that has been together ten years, a debut album seems a little overdue. Just reading a few tales of Still Bust’s illustrious career tells me these guys have something about them that sets them apart, all this by stories that have nothing to do with the music. I’ve never really listened to much of this genre before, but I can see why it gets the attention it does, and Still Bust contain the angst ridden energy I’d expect from any band of this genre.
Looking at the song titles shows that there’s either been a lot of thought gone into naming these songs, or not much at all. Some of the most ambitious titles I’ve seen for a band, especially for a hardcore punk band with some songs not even breaking the minute mark. ‘If You Don’t Like Video Games (You Probably Have Other Interests)’ suggests that while it took ten years for this album to come about, Still Bust obviously have the talent necessary. If you’re a fan of these guys, I doubt this is a disappointing release, no Chinese Democracy I’m assuming. All the adrenaline I’d expect for a debut that seems long overdue. The riffs hold substance and are what stand out to me most, especially in the interestingly titled ‘Tastes Like Asbestos (From Little Richard Came)’.
Punk rockers Golden Tanks don’t do things in half measures. Their short and sweet EP ‘R.D.H.B.’ is a blinder, really encapsulating the band’s genre and producing an energy fuelled, ballsy set of tracks.
From opener introduction ‘859’ the commotion arises, with punchy riffs, aggressive screams and hard-hitting percussion coming together to create a fierce riot, already confirming that Golden Tanks know exactly what they’re doing. This could be said for the whole of the EP, including stand-out title track ‘R.D.H.B’ which takes on a rock ‘n’ roll vibe with an infectious rhythm that repeats in sections throughout; a perfect head banger. Closing track ‘Fangs’ is just as captivating in its own right, reiterating the ferocious side of the band with dark, elongated roars in amongst the trademark vocal structures. The continued energy fuelled rhythms round up into an abrupt ending, leaving a very memorable and admirable mark on the punk rock radar.
Old Gray are finally getting a UK release of their debut full length record ‘An Autobiography’ on Dog Knights Productions on the 20th May and it’s been well worth the wait. Recorded with Will Killingsworth (Orchid, Ampere) at Dead Air Studio – it’s an album that is instantly emotionally attractive to listeners, much like the original records of their influences.
Old Gray had been receiving a lot of praise for this record before I got the chance to sit down and listen to it. I didn’t hold my breath, for fear of this being another fad band that’d come and pass, much like they tend to do, especially in a screamo capacity. When I finally listened to this record however, I was completely blown away. Not only did I become instantly emotionally invested in this band – I believe it’s one of the most well constructed screamo records I’ve heard in a long long time and off this alone, Old Gray are here to stay.
Hidden under the rock that is South London, is a band who are slowly scuttling out, and de-shelling themselves to reveal their brutal nature; Rough Hands is their name. Releasing a self-titled four track 7 inch, clocking under the 10 minute mark, Rough Hands are about to make a name for themselves.
The basic colour scheme is a concise, no nonsense metallic hardcore punk sound. Tracks like ‘Dilute’ and ‘Maledictus’ sees this style delivered in a fast violent tempo in the beginning. This then slows along a mid tempo bass rolling shout out or skull smashing hardcore punk breakdown. The main theme channelling through this chaos are the ear piercing yells from Alex Dench.
Everything about this second album from French quintet Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! just screams out to be hated. There’s that terrible name, which takes the trophy for “Worst Clichéd Pop-Punk Reference To An 80s Movie” (in this case, treasure-hunting, truffle-shuffling classic The Goonies). There’s that abysmal cover, which is a lame parody on an even worse cover for Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida.’ There’s the fact that their press release cares to mention their Social Network stats, “Media Support” and “Brand Partnerships”. There’s the fact that we’ve heard all of this before - they unite the “pop-punk with beatdowns” of A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong with the patented Rise Records metalcore crunch. And yet, despite all these valid reasons for C!N,CC! being among the worst things to taint these ears, ‘Pardon My French’ is actually - dare I say it - pretty okay.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a good album. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s still hackneyed, monotonous gubbins, but while listening, you get the feeling C!N,CC! know this about themselves, and yet have the most fun making this trivial & banal tripe nonetheless. ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ may as well be the band’s raison d’être, as this songs demonstrates how little they seem to care about what people think about them. Their key demographic isn’t the seasoned music listener, it’s the kids who want music they can lose themselves to, where they can pogo one minute and headbang the next, and in this aspect, Chunk succeed triumphantly. This is spectacularly dumb, with all the deftness and subtlety of a breeze-block to the face, but by owning and even reveling in their belligerent genericism and extreme fusion of genres, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! get the most marginal of pass marks from this writer - an F+, if you will.
It’s long been established that when Topshelf Records releases something, that something is going to be good. Records like this Sainthood Reps / Weatherbox split are exactly why that’s the case. Clocking in at just seven minutes, each band has one three-minute-something chance to detail why people should take notice and each band is thoroughly successful in the head turning stakes.
Sainthood Reps are up first with ‘Deadlines,’ a track that winds its way around the mind and latches on like an emotional parasite. You’ll be feeding this one with every thought you have until finally it detaches itself, leaving only the shadow of a brilliant guitar line and the echo of desperate backing vocals to sate your racing mind.
Hailing from Leicester, metalcore outfit If Looks Could Kill are set to release their mini album ‘Breathe, Sleeper, Breath.’ With metalcore at the forefront of the alternative music scene, the six-piece have a lot of pressure mounted on them to make their mark; will they stand out from the crowd?
Introducing the mini album with a short opening of piano and hushed background vocals, If Looks Could Kill are just laying the foundations for the rest of the record. ‘Through Thick & Thin’ could have transitioned more smoothly from the introduction, by fading into another gentle opening which would then build into heavier metalcore elements; instead the sextet jumps straight in with screamed vocals and rapid percussion which doesn’t seem like a natural progression from the previous track. Nonetheless ‘Through Thick & Thin’ has an element of power behind it, with infectious choruses plus an admirable breakdown.
I remember a few years ago when radio friendly rock seemed to be everywhere, dominating the airwaves and charts, and was looking to be paving a way for rock music to be making a more commercial move back into the public eye, but then it just disappeared from what I’m aware. I have no idea why though, it wasn’t too bad and there wasn’t a reason for the bands not to make more of a name for themselves. The Social Club have that touch to their sound, and they seem to have all the elements that they need to make a name for themselves.
‘Live From The Subtrunk’ has that upbeat feelgood sound to it that suggests The Social Club are suited for the radio, and it’s only a matter of time before they get to that stage. Changing tempo a little with ‘Greco Romance’ gives you a chance to take in more of what the band are capable of, including backing vocals laden with harmonies. Another ideal radio song.