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.
A major annoyance of Taking Back Sunday’s handful of UK shows is that it seems to have been received as a nostalgia/anniversary tour, when in fact Taking Back Sunday haven’t exactly shied away from the music scene, or touring the UK in general. Overseas to promote forthcoming album ‘Happiness Is’, this certainly isn’t a TAYF10 tour like the ones in the US, and those expecting a set like this will be left disappointed, as while Taking Back Sunday aired their classics, they also displayed some of the best tracks from their more recent releases.
Openers Lonely the Brave, kick things off with guitar-driven anthems, reminding me in a way of a Cambridge Biffy Clyro. Their live performance manages to be both understated and grandiose at the same time, but they struggle to resonate with the huge venue. It’s hard to be the sole opener for a well-established band like Taking Back Sunday, and despite their best efforts, Lonely the Brave failed to make an impact, unable to warm up a crowd who only want to see one band. (2/5)
View photos of Lonely The Brave @ Koko here.
Live Review: Plaids, Football, etc., Break Character and Papermoons - JT Soar, Nottingham - 23/02/2014
A show is best when everybody means it. Cram those people into a tiny room with a bunch of excited punters for a few hours and you’re on a winner. Tonight features twelve people playing in four bands from three countries. All stuffed into Nottingham’s finest little venue. Opening is Papermoons, currently touring with (and being half of) Football, etc. who will play later. The Texan two-piece plays a gorgeous kind of emo somewhere between American Football and Death Cab For Cutie. Warming the audience as enough people cram inside for the venue to declare the show a sell out.
Coming both out The Netherlands and, for those not already in the know, out of the blue, is Break Character. Following the sweetness of Papermoons with a half hour blast of emotional hardcore magnificence. Being fronted by the universally agreed upon world’s coolest dude, Johan van Hattum, only furthers their cause. There’s nothing not to love about a band giving it their all for the love of it. Heart-on-sleeve honesty and humbled to be so well received so far from home. Break Character prove themselves a wonderful addition to a bill that they might otherwise seem out of place on.
Live Review: Caves, Wade, Bear Trade, Dinner Time and Holy Pinto! - Wahlbar, Manchester - 22/02/2014
Clicking into their set with a nervous energy, Manchester duo Holy Pinto! relish in charm and whimsy. They soundly tap into indie punk leanings and lyrically analyse in self-pity and anguish. Duos are a difficult formula to accomplish, but Holy Pinto! do very well here to a warm reception. Guitar and drums with yearning sombre vocals; a tight unit. There are kinks to be ironed out, yet for now they are sweetly poignant in their delivery here. (3.5/5)
Having never listened to them before, it comes to my attention that Dinner Time’s set will be 8 minutes long. This could only mean two things: fast and loud. Featuring 3/5 of local indie emo band Well Wisher, Dinner Time cause a noisy ruckus. Whilst the lack of bass may hinder them, the stripped back garage punk guitar beefs up the noise. It sits alongside hectic drums and pedantic yells rather comfortably. Warning: a grin may pop up from ear to ear on your face when you see this lot, as they’re a lot of fun! (4/5)
Live Review: Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and Zebrahead - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London - 15/02/2014
Due to a ridiculous queue to get inside, the first band I catch tonight are Zebrahead. A band who has always reminded me of college frat boys, they bring a riotous mix of songs about girls and getting wasted. The crowd likes them, and even though this is nowhere near their best performance, it’s a perfectly good greatest hits set from the band. (3/5)
View photos of Zebrahead @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire here
Next up are Less Than Jake and while I understand the need to mix up the order of the bands, it seems a crying shame that they are forced to perform before Reel Big Fish. Less Than Jake are the sophisticated cousin of their Hawaiian shirt clad counterparts Reel Big Fish, and it ruins the momentum a little. However this certainly doesn’t stop them from blasting through a tight, exciting set, the kind that involves drinks being flung from your hand as you find yourself involuntary bounced by the swing of the crowd. With every Less Than Jake song you’ve ever cared about making a appearance (‘Last One Out Of Liberty City’, ‘Gainsville Rock City’ and ‘Plastic Cup Politics’ were my personal favourites) there was no way anyone could walk away from their performance doubting that Less Than Jake aren’t the masters at what they do. Less Than Jake are so much fun to watch, and an absolute joy to sing-along to – the perfect live band. (5/5)
View photos of Less Than Jake @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire here.
A cold Sunday night in Nottingham at the end of a week when all anyone has talked about has been the weather. I could probably forgive you not coming out. Matt Pryor himself mentions it a couple of times. The eternal call of Monday morning keeps plenty of people at home with the TV and no one really blames them. On this particular Sunday night, I went out and I watched Matt Pryor and Allison Weiss give two incredible performances. I can forgive you for staying at home, because I was there. You, however, should be kicking yourself.
Local four piece Lacey open. Despite seeming a little out of place as the only full/electric band on an otherwise solo/acoustic bill, they prove themselves worthy of their slot. Never coming close to an explosive energy level, their somewhat subdued performance is probably exactly what is needed to not simply annoy those who arrive early enough to catch them. (3/5)
Undeterred by the looming threat of tube strikes and horrid weather, many descend upon Islington’s famous Lexington venue this evening to catch Kevin Devine's first visit to these shores in what, comparative to some of his exhaustive tours, has been aeons since the last opportunity to do so. However, before the Brooklynite takes to the stage in front of tonight's sold-out crowd, support comes from London-based singer-songwriter and long-time Already Heard favourite Katie Malco. The maltreatment of acoustic artists in some of London’s, ahem, “cooler” venues is a prominent issue, but the already busy room is reverent and quiet throughout her set (except, of course, to clap and cheer between songs), allowing Malco's heart-rendering lyrics to take full effect. 'September' from last year’s piano-led EP 'Tearing Ventricles' is a stand-out, but the entire set is simply gorgeous, made all the more charming by her adorably neurotic between-song repartee. (4/5)
Album anniversary shows are a funny thing. Depending upon however many years that album was released, there is always the big 50/50 chance risk one’s nostalgia could be crumbled to rubble. Progressive ska punk heroes, RX Bandits, for over the past year since their return from hiatus have been dedicating time to playing fourth full length ‘The Resignation’. This was a turning point for the band as it showed they were more than just a ska punk outfit. Its use of unusual time signatures, unpredictable soar and ambition was a masterstroke, in contrast to their Orange County peers. Technically, this tour is dedicated to the tenth anniversary of that record, but the European continent has only just got this by a month later into the New Year. Regardless, the turnout here smells of a nostalgic buzz, eager to see their favourite band play the album in full.
Before that fiasco plays ahead, the crowd needs tinder to light up the buzz for the night. This is provided by Austrian melodic gruff punks Astpai. The quartet injects a ‘full-speed ahead’ enthusiasm into their set. Shared vocal harmonies, a sharp bite, and toe tapping efficiency enable them to withstand a tightly constructed set. No one is bouncing around sure, but grins and satisfactions can be sensed in the crowd. They’re reserving the appetite until later, whilst watching a confident band plough through. One nit-pick from this writer is the familiarity and creeping repetitiveness, but Astpai are entertaining to behold, which is all that matters. (3.5/5)
Live Review: Defeater, Caspian, More Than Life and Goodtime Boys – Sound Control, Manchester – 22/01/2014
The key to a great live performance doesn’t always involve a rapturous crowd reaction. The key ingredients in fact involve presence and entertainment, which impacts in grand proportions. Welsh post hardcore troupe Goodtime Boys will have the world at their feet based on this performance. Older songs like ‘Breathe’ and ‘Callous’ display such grace and cathartic shine, it’s hard not to mesmerise yourself in it. On the other hand, it is the new material from upcoming debut album ‘Rain’ which sticks out here. All the grace and poetic catharsis has evolved into a secular, anthemic epitaph. The phrase “music to my ears” couldn’t be more applicable here. ‘Life Moves’ (which is now available for streaming) is a good example of this. All in all, this writer can safely say the impression made by Goodtime Boys has engulfed the idle audience. (4/5)
Live Review & Photos: Mallory Knox, Blitz Kids and Crooks - O2 Islington Academy, London - 12/12/2013
As I enter the venue, first support band Crooks have just taken to the stage, and my initial thoughts are of elements of the sound of metal band Disturbed. Although Crooks themselves are not in the same musical category, they appear to at least have taken influence from them. The thing I like about Crooks is I can hear what vocalist Josh is saying. Also the song ‘Mountain Heights and City Lights’, with its mellow elements before an explosive breakdown, has particularly well written lyrics that are quite moving and could be interpreted in different ways thus giving them the chance to mean different things to different fans, a great skill in song writing.
There were big smiles a plenty as they fed off the very receptive crowd in songs that again pick up on the wintry theme of snow like ‘Nevermore’. Whilst pain is the source of writing material, I do hope though, that with future releases they may make it to other seasons and build on songs like ‘Mountain Heights and City Lights’.
What was overwhelmingly obvious and so nice to see was the shear and utter gratitude of Crooks to Mallory Knox for having them on the tour and allowing them to play to what was a pretty damn full Islington Academy. I have seen headline bands play to less people in this venue. Josh said, “It’s a fucking honour to be on this tour, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else”. (3/5)
Live Review & Photos: Touché Amore, Self Defence Family and Dad Punchers - The Underworld, London - 11/12/2013
With a name like Dad Punchers, I was expecting something a little heavier than the Weezer-inspired emo’s who opened up tonight’s set. Wonderfully funny and awkward, vocalist (and Touché Amore drummer) Elliot Babin sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog, which makes song introductions to songs about, “accidentally falling in love with your flatmate and having to hear them have sex all the time” seem extra strange. Describing themselves as fairly accurately as “bummer-punk”, Dad Punchers are the kind of band the supposed “emo-revival” will have a field day over. While they didn’t entirely win over the audience, I enjoyed them a lot. (5/5)
On a bitingly cold December night, at the point Kill Chaos take to the stage at Islington’s Relentless Garage, most have opted to stick to the comforting climes of the Wetherspoon’s around the corner, leaving the East Midlands trio playing to but a dedicated few early revellers. Fortunately, the band’s BritRock tropes go well with tonight’s general aura of nostalgia, and Jamie Lenman’s hand-picked tour support express gratitude at being able to play a venue the size of The Garage, an opportunity which they admit themselves they are normally rarely afforded. As on their freshly released full-length ‘PromisesPromises’, their more melodic material such as set-closer ‘Crush’ does come off a lot better than their heavier side, though a good crunchy riff does go down well with the steadily gathering masses. (3.25/5)
Leeds noiseniks Castrovalva are next to take tonight’s stage, all clad in their own band t-shirts. If that heinous crime against gig ettiquette wasn’t enough to put you off, the music undoubtedly does the rest. It seems like bands that worship Mike Patton’s weirder projects (Fantomas, Mr Bungle) easily forget that he could pen a belting tune too, but coherent songwriting is forsaken here in favour of obstreperous obliqueness, along with some pale imitations of The Blood Brothers. Sure, they could pick worse bands to be heavily influenced by, and oddness in music is far from a crime, but Castrovalva’s set is an eminently forgettable one - if frontman Leemun Smith spent nearly as much time writing something musically compelling as he does bellowing at the audience tonight, they might be onto something. (2/5)
If you want to grab the audiences’ attention, then being 6”4 definitely helps. Opening for tonight’s Dave Hause show is Canadian Matt Goud, better known by the name Northcote. Recently signed to Xtra Mile, Northcote is like Chuck Ragan on steroids, he blasts his way through an uplifting set of acoustic tracks, managing to warm up an audience who are obviously only here to see Dave Hause. There’s something faintly hypnotic about Northcote’s stage presence, and as a result he manages to keep the audience completely rapt with barely a murmur heard from them between songs. No mean feat for a relatively unknown artist, and as a result, an undoubtedly impressive set. (4/5)
Of course, tonight is Dave Hause’s night to ‘shine’ (bad song title reference, sorry!). Riding off the success of his second full-length solo album ‘Devour’ he tears through a set that effortlessly blends old and new material, leaving off no fan favourites and resulting in a sing-a-long that even drags in the people at the back of the bar.
USA Nails have the unenvious task of warming up the sparse early crowd this evening, and they take to the stage and it seems obvious they’re overwhelmed a bit in this space, with the guitars being massively lost amongst the roar of the speakers. Angry assault from the rhythm section makes up for the slightly less audible guitars. The banter is sparse but straight to the point. There’s angry vitriol and railing against the inanities of life. It’s enjoyable raucous, and i think worth seeing in a more intimate setting. (3/5)
A coven of inexplicably young lads takes to the stage. Mixing surf-pop 60s guitar sounds with 90s grungey riffs up against a near sheer walls of white noise, The Wytches have already attracted a crowd at the bottom of the stage. It’s understandable where the buzz surrounding them comes from: they’re young, energetic and they can cut a good riff. They look pretty much at home on the stage. There’s a lot of appreciative nodding from the audience, and the room feels noticeably swollen by the end of their set. (3/5)
After an almost interminable wait, half tempted to try and navigate the now heaving space between the stage and the bar, lights dim. Silhouettes of Future of the Left take to the stage and break into the now de-facto opener ‘Arming Eritrea’. That and the bounce-inducing 'Small Bones, Small Bodies', get a fired up crowd moving around and reacting in the usual manner of a hyped up crowd. The bass and drums knocks a punch right to the gut, while Falco’s screeching vocals cut right through the noise.
Live Review & Photos: Vans Warped Tour Europe 2013 - Alexandra Palace, London - Saturday (16/11/2013)
Despite a disorganised queuing system that made entering Alexandra Palace a challenge in itself, I arrived in time to catch Atilla open up the Main Stage. Though why Kevin Lyman gave them the time of day is beyond me, as their offensive, racist and sexist slurs failed to impress. I can’t imagine anyone over 13 would appreciate watching someone endlessly repeat the phrase “suck my fuck” and use lyrics which gratuitously drop words like, “cocaine” and “nigga”. Tacky and dated, even Hollywood Undead would think they were crass. (0/5)
Over on the Jaegermeister Stage things weren’t looking much better, as the UK’s shittest The Story So Far tribute Neck Deep were ham-fistedly groping their way through their set. Considering I quite liked their first EP, when watching them live it quickly transpired that vocalist Ben Barlow can’t actually sing, making me wonder if ‘Rain in July’’s sound was purely the result of auto tune. At points I can’t even tell what song they’re supposed to be playing, as everything sounds like a garbled mumbling mess. (1/5)
The Underworld is located in the heart of Camden and is renowned for being a venue with an impressive roster of gigs and diversity. For this particular gig it was the excellent setting with its claustrophobic capacity and dingy interior.
Hang the Bastard starts off this heavy as hell setting with their psychedelic mix of sludge and hardcore infused metal. Crushing riffs, strung out bass, thumping drums, wrecked shrieks and groove spilling out every orifice from this bands arsenal; the perfect start. (4.5/5)
Next up is Blind to Faith who had a more chaotic punk streak but combine this with thick doom riffs for a satisfying mix. Going from fast beats with buzzing guitars to massively drawn out riffs a doom album would be proud of, Blind to Faith surprise in all the right ways. (4/5)