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Tom Martin

English student, lifeguard and journalist. Always listening to music, live music where possible. Mainlining on pop punk and metal, most rock and dabbling in indie.

Montroze – Escape [EP]

Montroze are a UK pop punk outfit based in the south-west of the country, and they’re on the cusp of releasing their third EP, Escape. It’s another song outfit, and the band have proved before that this is a winning formula for them. Can they do it again?

The EP is bookended by its self titled tracks Escaping and Escaping Part IIEscaping begins with a swift guitar riff before launching in full-bodied with a very polished sound. The bass especially holds a brilliant tone, perceivable as a strong backbone through the lighter guitars. The chorus intones ‘It gets better than this! You’ll be alright kid, don’t let it get you down, remember you can do this now’, and it feels great.

Shameful You is Montroze‘s lead single for Escape, and it boasts another meteoric chorus. The song looks back at a past friend or relationship, laying out the singer’s rightful suspicion. It’s good to see Montroze bringing out a narrative rather than falling foul of the pop punk tendency to rely on a few big hooks. There’s some tasteful vocal layering here too, with a harsher backing voice amplifying the climax of the song.

The band proceed to bring in an acoustic number in Contemplation. It’s a chance for Jason Bishop’s vocals to come to the fore, and they rise to the occasion. In terms of musical and lyrical content, this song doesn’t go too far to push the boat out; but considering this is a slightly longer release than most EPs it is nice to have a stylistic break.

Break is a brief intermediary track featuring some noodling guitar work that flows into the penultimate track Pages of a Different Book. It’s one of the finest songs on the EP with a more measured structure. The track builds up to a punchy peak with some interesting drum fills leading the song along.

Escaping Part II brings us back to the wanderlust-ridden core of this record, and the chorus lines from the start of the EP come echoing back in with a nice sense of closure. That said, it’s acoustic this time around, so there’s a worthwhile difference here.

With EscapeMontroze have taken an important step up. Rather than producing a selection of competent songs, the band have crafted a proficient record that weaves through its breadth with a purpose. These songs sound wonderful on the EP, and you can expect them to come spring to life on stage too.

8/10

 

Neck Deep – The Peace and The Panic

The last few years have been a wild ride for Neck Deep. Regardless of their setbacks, their success is undeniable. Now, the band are ready to drop their third album The Peace and The Panic, and show no signs of slowing down. Is it all we’ve been waiting for, though?

Opening the album are Motion Sickness and Happy Judgement Day, two tracks that bounce along to a fairly familiar Neck Deep formula. It’s catchy, upbeat pop punk. There is some stylistic variation compared to older material, most notably a more nasal, almost American tone to Barlow’s vocals. It’s not so significant that it’ll make or break the album for many, but it is definitely recognisable.

Track number three, The Grand Delusion moves along in a similar manner before we run into Parachute. Parachute introduces some more poppy vibes, and rewards us with a more anthemic tune documenting a desire to get out, see and do things in the world. Although it’s lighter in nature, it’s a happy callback to the huge songs that we heard on their second album Life’s Not Out To Get You. Having said that, it’s lyrical content is slightly basic in places.

In Bloom is one of the biggest curveballs on the album, and may be a dividing line for many. It’s a light, alt-rock piece with lots of pop influences also exemplified in its music video. It’s definitely a song to grow on you though. Once you’re familiar with the style, the chorus comes through as a strong centrepiece surrounded by jubilant guitar tones.

From the album’s lightest album to its heaviest, Don’t Wait features Sam Carter of Architects, who drops an ample amount of throaty screams. Don’t Wait brings out some more of the political themes suggested on the album’s cover and predominantly in Happy Judgement Day. It’s angsty and suspicious. Carter’s vocals initially come in alone, but are soon layered with Barlow’s singing in a surprisingly effective medley.

With Critical Mistake, the album sadly begins to err. It’s another upbeat, pop-rock style song, but falls victim to feeling superficial and shallow. Barlow’s vocals lack any grit here, and whilst that’s clearly the aim, it comes across in poor taste. Wish You Were Here introduces an acoustic guitar in a ballad reminiscing about a late friend. It’s a moment for pause as it becomes clear that members of the band have undergone serious pain in the last few years, and the duality of The Peace and The Panic becomes apparent. It’s no musical prodigy, but it at least feels heartfelt.

The closing stages of the album are another mixed bunch. Heavy Lies lacks serious innovation, we’re back in the Neck Deep comfort zone, but it’s not innately flawed. There’s a singalong friendly chorus and some sweet couplets before we move into 19 Seventy Sumthin’. Both for the band and its fans, 19 Seventy Sumthin’ is likely to be one of the most poignant tracks on the album due to the passing of Ben’s father, Terry Barlow, of “Fuck Neck Deep mate, Ben’s Dad owns a record label!” fame. It’s nice to see it’s not purely a miserable song; the band turn it into a celebration of the man’s life and relationship. A narrative is brought out here that many will value, running up to the sad final day.

The Peace and The Panic‘s final song is Where Do We Go When We Go. Thematically, this is a great way to close off the album with one of the questions that have clearly been haunting Neck Deep. That said, it is one of the weaker songs on the album. A light voice sample brings it in, before the band move through the motions. There’s nothing to be said against the thought behind the song, but the chorus is unimaginative.

In all, The Peace and The Panic has some thoroughly enjoyable songs on it, but comes across as a rather confused record. There’s nothing wrong with trying to introduce some stylistic variation within an album, but Neck Deep‘s album seems torn between two polarising styles. The album certainly has its merits, and many will adore it, but it is relevant to suggest that a lack of stylistic continuity might be jarring for some listeners. Furthermore, the band flirted with their nuclear / political style, but never truly dedicated to it, leaving to the wayside a theme that could have united the various hands dealt by The Peace and The Panic.

[6/10]

The Summer War release first single from final EP ‘Every Day, Again, Again’

The Summer War are an alternative rock outfit, who sadly recently announced their final EP Every Day, Again, Again. The band have repeatedly accrued critical acclaim, and have played around the country.

The first single of the EP is the self-titled track, and it holds up to all the quality we are used to from The Summer WarEvery Day, Again, Again which does not have a definite release date as of yet, but is promised for late 2017.

It will be a true shame to see The Summer War bow out, but at least they’re going gracefully amid excellent music.

citizen

Citizen release new single and announce album ‘As You Please’

It is with great pleasure that we can report that Citizen have announced their next album As You Please. The album will release on October 6th through Run For Cover Records.

The album has been described as a ‘confrontational record, incapable of turning a blind eye toward the inescapable strife’, so you can expect the record to interact with some important themes. With incredible versatility, Citizen once again demonstrate their ability to spin out a narrative in the first single Jet.

The Over Everythings release album ‘No Solidarity’

The Over Everythings are a punk outfit from London who have just rolled out the red carpet on their new album No Solidarity. 

The band are an exciting example of old school punk attitude still kicking in the modern day, and you certainly shouldn’t miss this album! Get familiar before these gentlemen are playing in your local.

You stream it through Spotify –

Or purchase through iTunes.

CHON announce UK tour for new album ‘Homey’

CHON are one of the most diverse and interesting acts out there at the moment, and their latest progressive rock album Homey is truly a cut above.

The UK is now in for a treat as the trio will return in October to play live around the country.

12 Oct – Nottingham, Rock City Basement
13 Oct – Guildford, Boileroom
14 Oct – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
15 Oct – Brighton, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
16 Oct – London, Garage
17 Oct – Bristol, Fleece
18 Oct – Birmingham, O2 Institute
19 Oct – Manchester, Rebellion
20 Oct – Glasgow, Stereo

Watch one of their latest music videos here –

Gogol Bordello announce tour and single ‘Walk On The Burning Coal’

Gogol Bordello are back in our ears and they’re not messing around. The band are introducing their next album Seekers and Finders, due August 25th via Cooking Vinyl, with the single Walk On The Burning Coal.

The band have also announced a UK tour this December, tickets on sale Friday morning.

Tue 12th – Manchester Academy, Manchester
Thu 14th – O2 Academy Brixton, London
Fri 15th – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Sat 16th – Rock City, Nottingham
Sun 17th – O2 Academy, Glasgow

LIVE REVIEW: Blink-182, Cardiff 03/07/17

Blink-182 began the UK California tour in Cardiff on Monday, having released the deluxe edition of their recent album soon before. The band have brought along Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls from the UK and The Front Bottoms all the way from New Jersey for their supports.

The Front Bottoms were up first, an indie-punk band featuring a variety of instruments including an acoustic guitar, keyboard and trumpet. It’s fair to say that most of the audience were unlikely to be familiar with the band, but that didn’t stop them coming out with remarkable gusto. Having played in Cardiff in 2016 on the back of their latest album Back on TopThe Front Bottoms filled this setlist more evenly from their discography, opening with Skeleton and touching other old favourites like Maps and Au Revior. It would be easy for a band like The Front Bottoms to feel lost in an arena sized venue, but this was certainly not the case. The band played passionately throughout, finishing on a rendition of Twin Size Mattress which has never sounded better. [7/10]

Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls know the UK tour circuit like few other acts can claim, and they took Cardiff firmly in their stride. They opened with Get Better from 2015’s Positive Songs for Negative People, before moving into the older Try This At Home. As ever, Frank was full of charisma and demanding the crowd to get moving. Admittedly his attempt to inspire a circle pit didn’t quite lead to the room spinning, but a support act’s got to try, right?

Frank has his show well-practiced, and he’s not afraid to slow it all down to bring up an audience member, give her a brief lesson in the harmonica and have her play a solo during one of his songs. It’s this desire to bring an element of fun and accessibility to his concerts that make them so special. Further highlights of the set were Recovery and the penultimate I Still Believe. Full of energy, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls smashed it. [8/10]

Finally, Blink-182 took to the stage after the Stranger Things soundtrack introduced them along with the drop of a huge flag. The band have been opening their show with Feeling This for a long while, and for good reason. It was no surprise, but an appropriate anthem to open. Next was Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’s The Rock Show, another old time favourite. The trio played the songs well, but there was a sense of restraint in the early movements of their set. They didn’t sound bad at all, more that they were just going through the motions.

The first song from new album California was the album opener Cynical, and a bit more life is injected here. It’s perfectly understandable for bands to enjoy playing their recent material more than songs they’ve been playing for years; and it.s not just that for BlinkCalifornia-era material marks music that new member Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) helped to write, making it a passion project for the whole band.

Both Matt and Mark sounded good vocally through the gig, not straining much but hitting their notes comfortably. Travis Barker, as ever, is mesmerising to watch as he flows through his kit. Matt Skiba is relatively static on stage, with most of the movement coming from Mark’s occasional jaunts across the stage, including a mock joust at his partner. Although the band sounded good, therefore, most of the energy came from the admittedly impressive stage show. There’s no smoke without fire, and Blink had all the tricks waiting in the wings: smoke and fire, sparks, confetti and more. Huge screens behind the band raised and lowered, sometimes showing the band and the crowd, more often showing song-specific material and even music-video style content.

So, Blink are back. Did it look awesome? Of course it did. Did it sound awesome? Mostly, the band were consistent rather than show-stopping. Their set was just missing a touch of magic, and not even the inclusion of Happy Holidays, You Bastard and jokes from Mark could quite recapture the momentum of the pop-punk band that ruled the 2000’s. It’s easy to pick holes, but all round Blink still had a lot to give, and nobody needed to come away disappointed. [7/10]