Tag Archives: punk

Review: Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

Band – Dikembe

Album – Broad Shoulders

Label – Tiny Engines

I wonder, every so often, which albums out of this new wave of emo will stand the test of time. I feel as excited right now as I ever did about this kind of music and, like all good things, I don’t want it to end but one day it will and what will we be left with? When the world moved on to whatever it was that it moved on to before, I was still listening to Appleseed Cast or The Promise Ring on a very regular basis. So, what will be the records that stay with me when the scene no doubt falls apart like it did back then? Well I can say with a very certain amount of confidence that ‘Broad Shoulders’ by Dikembe will be one of those records. I don’t know if it’s right or not but I have only had the record for a few weeks and I’m already holding it in the same esteem as ’30 degrees everywhere’ and ‘Mare Vitalis’, or, to translate that for you IT IS REALLY REALLY FUCKING GOOD!

Since the release of their debut ep last year, the amazing 4 track ‘Chicago Bowls’ there has been much anticipation for Dikembe to deliver a full length record. They’ve taken a fair amount of time for it to get here, enough time for people on the internet to refer to it as the ’emo chinese democracy’ (which I think is to do with the amount of time it’s taken the record to come out rather than they have a guitar player who wears a KFC bucket as a hat, unless I’m missing something here). In fact it hasn’t been that long, it may seem like it just because you want it to come out so much and they’ve done well to take this time over it because what Dikembe have delivered here is a modern emo masterpiece.

Everything about this record just feels so right, the to the point indie production, the gorgeous guitar sounds, the perfect pacing of the songs where nothing feels rushed or hurried, just naturally brilliant. I read that singer Steven Gray said the theme of the record is growing up and you do see that throughout the record. on the Wavelets LP ‘Athaletics’ (his other band) he sang “I’m not mad I’m just fucking stressed out”, here on ‘Apology not fucking accepted’ he sings “I’m so mad I can’t fucking see straight”. Maybe he sees things different now as part of growing up or maybe those two are nothing to do with each other and no comparison should be drawn but either way they are 2 great moments of each record.

And great moments keep coming on ‘Broad shoulder’, like the chugging groove laid out at that start of ‘I watch a lot of Jackie Chan movies’ which turns in to perhaps the best song on the album. The album is equally as good in its more uptempo parts such as ‘We become river rats’ and ‘Librarians kill for that kind of quiet’ as it is in its quieter songs like the beautifully downbeat ‘Not today, angel’. By the end the album leaves you with a feeling of total contentment, this is what we’ve been waiting for and now this is what has been delivered to us, to put it a simpler way it’s like a having a perfect christmas. All the build up was overwhelmingly worthwhile.

The thing is with a revival of a sound, there are those bands that will do well by imitating what was there before and just bringing in to the current day and there are those that just get it. Dikembe are a band that just get it, this is the type of music they play because when they get together this is what comes out rather than thinking beforehand “hey, lets write a song that sounds like those guys”. They are a timeless emo band, one that has reaffirmed my love for this music for which I’ll be forever grateful. Cheers dudes.

Click HERE to go to the Tiny Engines bandcamp to download/stream the record.

Cheers again for reading xx

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Review: Best Practices – The EP LP

Band – Best Practices

Album – The EP LP

Label – Tiny Engines

Maybe it’s because of all the emo music that I’ve been listening to and obsessing over for the last few months but this record by Best Practices sounds so refreshing. It’s the kind of record that grabs you by the lapels and wakes you up from your slumber with a mighty slap round the face. Sometimes there is nothing better then a good punk record and this is a fucking good punk record.

Best Practices are from Providence, RI and feature members of Light the Fuse and Run, Jesuscentric and Wow, Owls! and you may think the album title is a little confusing. That is until you hear the record and realise that although the record has 9 songs it lasts just 12 minutes. Which is the exact time it takes me to drive to work so he record has it’s practical uses. It’s unusual to talk about what practical use a record has but when I can hear the whole record through to wake me up and get me ready for the day on the way to work, and then hear it all the way through to pick me up on the way home from work, then it does that little bit more to win over my affection. And this record is a really great way to start a day, its the musical equivalent of a double espresso.

Most of the 9 tracks clock in at around the 1 minute mark and the whole record is played at a frenetic pace. The energy of the band playing is perfectly captured and the sound is loud and distorted in an amazing garage punk way. The album starts as it means to go on with ‘Deerhunter’ and it just never lets up, there is no drop in pace or dull moments just punch after punch of glorious punk rock. There are moments of the Descendents here and there, some of the meldoic guitar work brings them to mind. The vocals are delivered with all the power and energy needed to match the music on offer. And then the record is finished off in style with, ‘Get Confident, stupid’, which, while still played at the same speed also has a really great melody to it which is in a slightly different key to the other tracks and makes you love the record even more. A great finisher.

Please go and check the record out, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better punk record this year. If you are in the UK you can purchase it on one sided 12″ vinyl from View from the attic records, click HERE to go to their site. Or you can download from the Tiny Engines bandcamp page HERE.

Thanks for reading.

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Review: Make Do And Mend – Everything You Ever Loved

Band – Make Do And Mend

Album – Everything You Ever Loved

Label – Rise Records

When you’re a huge music fan and you keep discovering new music that is unbelievably amazing it’s hard not to get carried away with writing overly positive things about everything you find. It’s also a massive shock when something you’ve been looking forward to and keeping an eye out for turns out to be utterly disapointing.

Make Do and Mend caught my attention, like they did many others, with the 2010 album ‘End Measured Mile’. A really solid record that whilst not being album of the year showed a lot of promise for a band that could be capable of recording a classic. ‘Everything you ever loved’ is not the classic that I was hoping for, It’s not even a good record, a definite step down from their last effort.

The problem begins straight from the start. I don’t know if it’s and intentional effort on Make Do and Mend’s part to push for a wider audience or if it’s just them becoming the band they want to be but they’ve taken on a far more middle of the road rock sound. Think more Foo Fighters and less Hot Water Music, and if there is one thing the world doesn’t need is another Foo Fighters. The opening song, ‘Blur’, begins with some cheesy, mainstream grunge guitar work and the album finds it very hard to recover from this. Far too many effects and overproduction instantly take away the grittier edge they used to possess. It then all becomes a bit predictable and, sadly, dull.

Second track, ‘Dissassemble’, tries to swing it back but has too many cringeworthy moments (backing vocals) to be enjoyable. On, ‘St Anne’, they try a Jimmy Eat World style ballad which doesn’t come off. Jimmy Eat World pull these kind of songs off in their sleep but here it just sounds misguided. The rest of the album then blurs into a mush of uninspired riffs and instantly forgettable songs, it then kind of fades off in to the distance with a bit of a whimper. Not at all what I was expecting. I always try and look for a positive in everything I write about but I’m struggling here. There is not a single song on the album that I can claim to like.

Overall ‘Everything You Ever Loved’, is a big disappointment and a real shame. If you want a band who aimed for this kind of sound and really pulled it off then check out the latest Polar Bear Club record, but I’d stay away from this. Still, if you wanna give it a go then click HERE to go to the Rise Records page and check it out for yourself.

As always, cheers for reading xx

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PRAWN, Folkestone 15.06.2012

Now that my back is starting to feel more normal, or as normal as it’s likely to feel after 19 months of pain, painkillers and operations, I am able to get out and see bands again. I’m now seeing flyers for shows and getting excited rather than frustrated at my predicament. A show I’d been really excited to go to since it was announced months ago was Prawn and Ape up! being put on by Box Social in Folkestone. This excitement was then vastly increased when Alex, the promoter, arranged for me to be able to interview Ape up! before the show.

If you’ve read my review of Ape Up!’s latest record, Kemosabe, (if not you can read it HERE) then you’ll know why I was excited. The band are awesome. But then a couple of days before the gig some really bad news broke. Matt, the singer, had had a really serious accident whilst in Poland and was in hospital. Ape Up! obviously had to cancel the rest of the tour. But Prawn had made the decision to continue and play the remaining dates, which meant they were still coming to the UK, which meant that I was definitely gonna make the hour long drive to Folkestone to support them.

As there were only going to be 2 bands playing the sensible decision was made to put the bands on after the football had finished. England were playing Sweden in the Euro’s and sometimes it’s easier to not try and compete. It turned out to be a great move as the result, plus the disbelief that an England team could score a goal like they did for their third, added to the overall enjoyment of the night.

First up were local band Yes We Canada who played a short set of noisy punk with a big heap of pop for good measure. It was the first time I had ever seen the band and I really enjoyed their set and it seemed the rest of the crowd felt the same. A young band full of youthful energy is hard not to like and they had enough hooks and melody to back it up. Impressive stuff, even when they finished a song early because of a mistake it kind of added to their charm.

Then it was the turn of Prawn to take the stage. I’m a really big fan of Prawn, they play a classic, Low Level Owl (minus the weird bits) era Appleseed Cast type of emo and they do it well. A good crowd had started to assemble but there seemed to be problems. The power in the venue kept cutting out and time was getting on, it started to look like Prawn weren’t going to be able to play. Luckily they managed to sort the problems out, although not without having to sacrifice some effects pedals and a good chunk of their bass sound. The problems were later blamed on the wrong power converters given to them in Holland, that added to what had happened to Ape up! in Poland and Prawn were starting to take a dislike to some of Europe. Thankfully the goodwill of the crowd kept them positive enough to still entertain us with their beautiful songs. They opened with ‘At dawn we left’, the opening song from their full length, ‘You can just leave it all’, which still sounded gorgeous despite the lack of bass and distortion pedals. Maybe it was the added relief that they were actually playing which made Prawn sound all the more sweet. The only downside with their set was, due to the problems they had be encountering which meant that they started late, it was a bit too short. They only played 4 songs, which wasn’t their fault and was one more than they could have done with the threat of being chucked out by the venue after they had finished their second song. They sneaked in a fourth before accepting the fact they would have to stop, in their own words they didn’t want to be “punched in the face by some English bloke”. During the short set we were treated to a new song which sounded as consistent and great as their older stuff and they finished with ‘Arctic Foxes’ at the request of someone in the audience which went down a storm.

There was a great atmosphere in the venue that night and although the set was short Prawn still managed to blow me away. Short sets can sometimes be a blessing anyway, I hate bands that outstay their welcome and play for far too long, not that Prawn would have done that. A short, sharp set can be just what is needed, leave ’em wanting more as the old showbiz saying goes. I do hope they come back to the UK soon though. They still have a few dates left in Europe so go see them if you can.

And to Ape Up! I really hope all is ok and you manage to get safely home. I managed to speak to Roland from the band afterwards. He had stayed on with Prawn to do the merch and sell some Ape Up! stuff too. He was so super nice, sadly I had nothing with me to interview him so hopefully I’ll get to do that another way soon. He also gave great advice on size and colour when deciding what T-shirt to go for, a man of many talents.

Me (with full on geeky fanboy grin) and Roland after the show

Next up on the gig front is Joie De Vivre and Football, etc in Brighton this July, very very excited about this one. Some more reviews and other things will be posted soon. Thanks for reading xx

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Review: Ape Up! – Kemosabe

Band – Ape Up!

Album – Kemosabe

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars

I have said it before and now I’ll say it again. In the last couple of years music, in my opinion, has been completely reinvigorated. I seriously don’t think it has been as good as it currently is for years. Any band that says that “rock’n’roll is dead” or any article that bemoans the continuing fall in record sales is missing the point. I feel very sorry for these people. Especially if they haven’t heard Ape Up! yet. This band is further proof that all is good and well in music.

Being released on 10″ vinyl and digitally through Count Your Lucky Stars records, ‘Kemosabe’ by Ape Up! is the nearest these guys have come to putting out a full length record. I say nearest thing because, although there are 9 songs on it, the record clocks in at just under 20 minutes. Not that it feels like this though as there is much to savour and enjoy.

Ape Up! play big and to the point punk anthems, with a knack for melody and fantastically gruff vocals. The kind of sound you’d get if you could imagine Braid covering Algernon Cadwallader and the kind of songs that will have you finger pointing/singing along by the second listen. Opening track, ‘Nothing Serious’, gets the record started as they mean to go along. It launches straight in, sweeps you up and gets you immediately on board with their punchy, no nonsense brand of killer punk brilliance. ‘Kemosabe’ then continues in this vein through the next 4 songs with no dips in pace or quality. Track 5, ‘Drainbow’, gives the record a bit of a breather with some lovely Grandaddy-esque lo-fi noodling but it’s only a brief respite before they come back at you with more of the aforementioned goodness.

It’s hard to pick or suggest a favourite song from ‘Kemosabe’ but if I was pressed on the matter then I would have to go with the title track. ‘Kemosabe’ is a song impossible not to like, I am a complete sucker for a sing along and some gang vocals which is something this song delivers on to great effect. The ninth and final song, ‘Tejas’, is, at 2 minutes and 43 seconds, one of the longer songs on the record. It is also a great finisher as it displays a different side to Ape Up!, a slightly darker side. As they sing repeatedly “They won’t come around”, it’s a touching end to the album. An ending that leaves you wanting a hell of a lot more.

Ape Up! are going to be in the UK in a couple of weeks, touring with the brilliant PRAWN. I will be busting a gut to get to see them play in Folkestone at the View on the 15th of June, the poster for the show is pictured below. If they are this good on record then I imagine seeing them live will be an experience you’re not going to want to miss. Go see them!!

To download or stream the record click HERE to go the Count Your Lucky Stars bandcamp page.

Cheers for reading, more reviews coming very soon xx

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Review Roundup – Homelife, The Cribs, Le Yikes SURF CLUB, Dowsing/Parker

I have to admit I have really fallen behind recently, trying to make the most of the glorious sunshine we are currently experiencing has left little time to sit down and write. Which is BAD!! Mainly because there has been a sudden explosion in the amount of new records being released that deserve full attention. I have been like a kid in a sweet shop recently greedily trying to consume as much of the music as possible. Too much time listening and not enough time writing.

Time to rectify this.

To ge a little bit more up to date I thought I’d start by doing a roundup of some of the recent releases that have been taking up my time of late. This will then be followed by reviews of some very awesome full lengths by bands such as State Faults, Ape Up, Best Practices, Suis La Lune and many more…

Review #1 = Homelife – Translation

Translation is the first full length album from Homelife and it’s a really impressive debut. 10 songs of emotional Mid West punk rock joy, listening to this record is my first experience of the band and I knew inside the first 30 seconds of the opening track ‘Shapeless’ that I was going to be a fan. Bringing a sound similar in vein to that of Title Fight and Basement, it also brings to mind older Small Brown Bike and maybe a bit of Hot Water Music for good measure. Homelife is a band whose members have a background in hardcore which still comes through in their music, although now they have mixed emotion and sensitivity to the sound and the lyrics with great results. I like this album a lot, it’s one I’m sure to revisit time and again. Translation was co-released on vinyl by Black Numbers and Bermuda Mohawk on the 15th of May and can also be downloaded on a name your price basis HERE

Review #2 – The Cribs – In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull

My favourite UK indie band are back and it’s a blessed relief. The Cribs have returned with their 5th studio album ‘In the belly of the brazen bull’ and have dispensed with the dead wood that was Johnny Marr to make a record that marks a return to their best. Don’t get me wrong, I really like their last album ‘Ignore the ignorant’, how could you not with a song like ‘Cheat on me’ on there and I was only (kind of) joking about Johnny Marr, but it feels like the old Cribs is back. The fun, catchy, 3 piece Cribs who have come back to give UK indie bands a well deserved smack in the mouth. The sound is a lot dirtier on this record and really reminds me of ‘Pinkerton’ in several places, a lot of it was recorded with Steve Albini at his studio in Chicago and even though Steve Albini claims his input is minimal he always manages to record bands at their best and this record is no exception. The Cribs are the only band the NME should cover from here on, every other mainstream ‘indie’ band that magazine has tried to push on us are nothing but a footnote now. The record was recently released on Wichita Records and you can buy it from all good record shops if there are still any left.

Review #3 – LE Yikes SURF CLUB – LE Yikes SURF CLUB

Coming in June Grizzly Records will be releasing a limited edition cassette of the new LE Yikes SURF CLUB 5 track EP. I love that cassette’s are now making a comeback, it really reminds me of first getting in to music as a young teen although I no longer own a cassette player and will need to rectify this. Especially if there are gonna be awesome releases, like this one, that I’m not gonna wanna miss. LE Yikes SURF CLUB play fast and incredibly catchy surf punk in short one to two minute bursts. The retro surf sound is immediately appealing, along with the great cover artwork but LE Yikes also have the songs to back this up. Featuring members of punk band Dirty Tactics, each song is well crafted with a truck load of hooks and full of reasons to get you up and dancing. Trying hard to think of who you could compare them to, maybe Male Bonding with more of a punk edge. Maybe its best not to get bogged down by comparisons, if you like punk rock and 60’s surf guitar playing you will get a big kick out of this EP. Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page.

Review #4 – Dowsing/Parker Split 7″

New from Count Your Lucky Stars Records is this split 7″, 2 songs each from Dowsing and Parker. First up are Dowsing, with a full length record about to come out its good to be reminded of their enjoyable brand of good, honest, American indie rock. The first song on the record, ‘That Would Be A Lot Of Cool’, is a really great, heartfelt song that gets in your head. I like the simplicity of the sound, straightforward guitars, drums and bass which is then nicely complimented by the great overdriven sound on the guitar solo. The second song, ‘Somerset’, has a more gentle pace and is more of a grower but grow on you it does. Very much looking forward to the full length.

Parker are a band impossible to dislike, another addition to the many great bands spearheading an emo revival right now. Think early Get Up Kids/Promise Ring with a caP’n jazz feel to the vocals, with a description like that you know I’m a fan. Of the 2 Parker songs on display here the first one, ‘Make It Home Safely’, is the one that really stands out. The 2nd track, ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’, again is more slow paced but is really likeable, more arty than poppy emo, but the first one, to me, was an instant hit. I played on repeat John Peel style after my first listen and it just gets better. A full length from these guys is a very exciting prospect indeed.

Click HERE to go to the Count Your Lucky Stars bandcamp to stream/download

It’s not all been good music wise of late, I wrote a review of the very disappointing debut from Daytrader for bandbucket.com which you can read if you so wish by clicking HERE

To end on a positive note, my friend Tom at http://www.washedupemo.com reviewed the new Gates EP. Gates are another really great new emo band, check out the review by clicking HERE

Cheers for reading, more reviews to come in the next few days x

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Review: Daylight – The Difference In Good And Bad Dreams EP

Band – Daylight

EP – The difference in good and bad dreams

Label – Run For Cover Records

My first, actual, music purchase of 2012 is this, the new EP from Daylight. So, I could be cheeky and say that this is the best release of 2012 (which currently it technically is), or I could just be honest and say it’s rather bloody good, which it also is.

Daylight were one of the few bands that I got to see play live in 2011 when they visited our sunny seaside town of Margate on their UK tour with Hostage Calm. They were on great form that night so it’s a pleasure to get hold of some new material. ‘The difference in good and bad dreams’ is 4 tracks long, it is the bands third EP and is a precursor to a debut full length album which is expected later this year.

Building on the groundwork laid out on their previous EPs, this feels like a definite step forward. The sound is brilliant here, really thick and dirty guitars over a solid, galloping rhythm section. I’ve noticed elsewhere a lot of comparisons being made with Title Fight, which is understandable for the new wave of pop punk aspect but they are a lot darker than Title Fight. Although catchy and memorable, they songs have pain and misery seeping throughout the 4 songs. They also have elements of grunge to their sound, which has a similarity to Balance and Composure, but not in any obvious kind of way. Although it’s hard to describe how a grunge influence could be subtle, I suppose you could say that there is an essence of grunge. You could also describe it as an emo grunge but all this would do a disservice to what is a great EP.

‘The difference in good and bad dreams’ is a solid, personal, honest and exciting punk rock record which is passionately delivered. It powers through from the opening angst ridden song ‘On the way to Dads’, to the slower paced finisher ‘In my dreams’ staying intense all the way.

My appetite for a full length Daylight LP is now fully whetted, very exciting to think it may be here within the calendar year. Until then this will saty on heavy rotation. Daylight are touring throughout Europe in March and April, if you get the chance then go!!

You can buy the EP now as a digital download from the Run For Cover Bandcamp site, go there now by clicking HERE

As always, cheers guys.

Below is the video for ‘Damp’, the third track from the EP (check out how seriously awesome their drummers beard is!)

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