Category Archives: Punk

Ratatat – The Skints Are At The Front Door!

After much umm-ing and aah-ing, whether it be over choices of songs to cover, songs to release, and generally how much to tease their loyal fans, the Skints have kept the attention of thousands, mainly due to their frankly fantastic debut album, ‘Live, Breathe, Build, Believe.’

But finally, and thankfully, they have given us something! Their new single Ratatat has been released, and it’s a cracker!  A great mix of rap, dub, ska and reggae, it sees a slightly different take on the last album, whilst keeping the aspects that make them so fantastic!

Not only this, but they’ve also released the album artwork AND title for the new album – ‘Part and Parcel’ is due to be released on April 9th and  I cannot wait! Designed by the same designer of their t-shirts and last album, it’s a great bold statement, and I’m sure it’ll look great as it rises up the charts on it’s release. Enjoy!

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Slam Dunk

Well, everyone’s been waiting. I say everyone, it’s not exactly a major festival, but ho-hum. It’s out. As you can probably tell, I’m not exactly thrilled by the first announcements of this year’s Slam Dunk Festival. The line-up includes Architects, Cancer Bats, and Forever The Sickest Kids, and, aside from the King Blues, who are just fantastic, and I cannot wait to see again, it’s all sounding like a bit of a headache! Maybe I’m just being negative, and I’ll wait and see, with some updates on the new announcements, but I’m hoping for more ska, as last year’s festival was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a show, with bands like The Skints, who I’m sure will be making a return this year, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake.

Slam Dunk to me, means punk, reggae, and ska, but it all seems to be getting a little bit screamo for my liking. We’ll have to wait and see!

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Punk & Poetry.

After choosing English Literature as one of my A Levels, it seems that I spend half of my time analysing poetry in great depth. The dreaded anthology, which earned itself a Facebook group of almost 50,000 members wholeheartedly devoted to its burning, has clearly ruined poetry for many young people. But as with dance, and many other things once deemed too uncool for school, the fire in these activities has been relit by the use of the word ‘street.’

Street poetry is a world away from, in my case, the nature shrouded world of poets such as Edward Thomas, somebody with whom very few people in the modern world, never mind young people, can relate to. This poetry speaks of life as it really is. Yet these poets know their roots. Often citing Greek Mythology, Shakespeare and other poetry greats of the past, the word ‘street’ does not limit them to the literary confines of the modern world.

And one very fine example of this is Kate Tempest. In November, at the Junction in Cambridge, her band, Sound of Rum, was one of three acts on the triple bill. I was amazed when I checked her out before, but nothing compare’s to their live performance. Their music can be described as a kind of tech-rock and rap fusion. Intricate guitar and bass parts created through the use of electric guitar and loop pedal, backed by some fairly basic drums. However, don’t let this fool you, when the drummer let loose for a solo, he managed to wow the crowd with some impressive talent on show. However, the woman who really stole the show was Kate Tempest. With lyrics sharp as knives, and passion that has the ability to leave you reeling, as she stands swaying in front of you, pouring her soul out, Kate Tempest has a unique ability to bring poetry to life. Her sensitivity, the feeling that at any moment, she will break into floods of tears, as what’s she’s saying is so real, and has such meaning with her, adds a completely fresh and new dynamic to poetry for me.

It is so easy to disregard poetry, as most of it is so hard to picture – whether it be Edward Thomas, to Wilfred Owen, older poems are so much harder to visualize, but Tempest brings her world to life with incredible dexterity and skill, and she deserves to be recognised. Here is one of her poems, titled ‘Pennies.’ ENJOY.

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Panic On The Streets Of London..

This week’s rioting in London is the worst that has been seen in Britain since the Thatcher era of the Eighties, where racial discrimination and the economic took their toll, and there was widespread rioting across Britain, particularly in London, such as the infamous Brixton riots of 1981.
The news footage of 2011 is very similar to those scenes of the 1980’s, except for the significant reduction of IQ in the rioters themselves. Whilst the eighties riots were a protest against the obvious racial discrimination of the ‘sus laws,’ and the free powers that police had to stop and search any black man or woman on the streets of London, the sickening facts about 2011’s riots are that they are being carried out mindless thugs, following the crowd because of the promise of new shoes and a free Ipad.
It’s clear that Britain is in troubled times, and as a music blogger, I figured I ought to bring my rant to something music related. The 70’s and 80’s brought us some fantastic music, the cultural and political background providing songwriting material for some of Britain’s best bands.
So, here are my top riot-related songs, or those which I think best reflect a certain political climate of the times:

1) Riot Van – Arctic Monkeys.
Alex Turner is one of my favourite lyricists of ‘Noughties. His songwriting has the ability to put you right in the heart of the roughest part of their hometown, Sheffield. With lyrics such as those below, you get a real sense of the thoughts, or lack of them, running through the mind of the sort of people who think it’s okay to destroy people’s livelihoods that they have worked for years to achieve.
‘So up rolls a riot van
And sparks excitement in the boys
But the policemen look annoyed
Perhaps these are ones they should avoid’

2) Anarchy In The Uk – The Sex Pistols

Whether or not this song is critical of the anarchist movement, I can’t yet decide. Whilst you would obviously expect it to be in favour of such groups, some of the lyrics suggest otherwise.

For example: ‘Don’t know what I want but I know how to get it, I wanna destroy, passer by’ seems to sum up the situation perfectly for me. Gangs of what are effectively sheep following the crowd and fighting ‘the system,’ whilst not having a clue who or what ‘the system’ is. This classic song makes the perfect backing track to the interview below, that really does make you embarrassed to be British.

3) The Smiths – Panic

Yet another classic song, which serves to show how the scenes of rioting have spread across Britain like wildfire. These lyrics symbolise how it must appear to many that nowhere is safe, and it is almost ironic that half of the places mentioned in this song have been the victims of looting over the past few days:

Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again ?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But Honey Pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down
To the safety of the town
But there’s Panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself.

4) The Clash – Too Many To Choose From!!

It could be said that The Clash experienced it all in terms of the unstable nature of British society in the 70’s and 80’s. Songs such as White Riot, Police and Thieves, London’s Burning speak for themselves. But there was only one song for me, which I felt was suited best to the London of 2011. In other countries, the rioting here has been described as being like ‘the start of World War III,’ and with the Olympic’s looming in 2012, many may have been put off by the scenes of violence on British streets. So sticking with the theme of World War Three and the end of the world, here are some lyrics to London’s burning which I think seem fairly fitting:

‘The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
‘Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river’

Just a note to say, I think it’s completely inspirational to see the response of communities across Britain, with mass clear-up operations taking place all over the country. Hopefully the idiots will see just how mindless and stupid they have come across as, and crawl back into their holes feeling utterly ashamed of themselves!

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Music With A Message..

Any of you who know Rise Against will know that they are not a band who have ever been willing to compromise their message in exchange for commercial success. Reaching huge heights with their latest release, Endgame, and becoming arguably one of the biggest punk rock bands in the world at the moment, they have the opportunity to reach out to millions, and as proven with their video for ‘Ready To Fall,’ Tim Mcilrath and co. are able to put across just as strong a message onscreen as with their razor sharp lyrics.

So it is fantastic to hear that they have been nominated for the VMA Award at this year’s MTV Music Awards. The award is given to the band with the best video with a message. Rise Against’s offering – the new video for single ‘Make It Stop (September’s Children). This fantastic video sees Rise Against teaming up with ‘It Gets Better’ – an organization set up to convince victims of bullying and abuse for their sexuality that it does get better. Mcilrath stated that the song was written after a fan wrote a nervous letter to the band asking whether they had any problem with his sexuality. Tim was shocked to think that a member of the punk community would ever think that they wouldn’t be accepted for what they are. This only served to highlight the macho culture that surrounds rock and music as a whole, and the song was written to draw attention to an issue that has caused a lot of concern in the US in particular.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the video below, and feel free to vote for them at: http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/best-video-with-a-message/

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R.I.P Mouthwash!

It was a shame to hear about the split of long-standing British ska-punk group Mouthwash this month, just days after the release of the video for new single, ‘Nine To Five.’ The video, as seen below, was released on 20th June, whilst the split was announced on the 21st:

The band have been going since 1995 and have made a name for themselves as one of the most underrated British groups out there within the genre.

Despite being christened as an official ‘Erbert only last year, after seeing them support the King Blues with the Dirty Revolution in May, it was still sad news, as their music has made a big impact on me, especially their last album, ‘True Stories.”

Many bands have been paying homage to the group since the split, and it’s clear to see that this band have made a huge impact upon the scene, so they will be sorely missed. One such group are Sonic Boom Six, so Barney Boom decided to publish his first videoblog as a tribute to the band and their successes! R.I.P Mouthwash!

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Frank Turner – Live @ St Paul’s Church In Cambridge

After headlining his biggest show yet at Brixton Academy at the end of 2010, Frank Turner made the decision to go to to the opposite end of the scale to promote his upcoming album – England Keep My Bones – which is due to be released on June 6th.
Last nights venue – a tiny church in the heart of Cambridge – was a brand new experience. After entering, you took your pick – would it be the pews or the tiny standing area at the front? There can’t have been more than 300 people packed into the tiny venue – and it was fantastic!

Photo courtesy of Kon2Photography

First up for the night was Ben Marwood – a singer/songwriter from Reading. Much like Frank, his songwriting style is aggressive and passionate (and sometimes bitter too!), shown by song titles such as ‘Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway.’ He was a great warm up act and a nice guy too! Check out his website at: http://www.benmarwood.com
Next up was Franz Nicolay – A man whos name and appearance wouldn’t look out of place in Gogol Bordello. Like a thinner, more friendly relative of Mario Kart’s Wario, he was reminiscent of a circus ringleader from way back at the start of the 20th Century! Anyway – lets get to the music! Self described as punk rock cabaret, he has a unique blend of genres that make for a sound that fantastically eccentric, and thought provoking too. A little weird at times, but intriguing none the less! Have a listen to ‘This Is Not A Pipe,’ and check out his website at: http://www.franznicolay.com
Next up was Frank himself – Appearing on stage as understated as ever, breaking into ‘I Knew Prufrock..’ you could tell this was going to be an amazing show!

With the upcoming album, out next Monday, it was inevitable that there would be some new material. The new single ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’ has already been well received with radio play on Xfm and 6Music, as well as another new song ‘I Am Disappeared.’ He played both of these with great success – I can’t wait for the new album! Frank also performed another as yet unreleased track called English Curse – a powerful a cappella song based on English Folklore from the New Forest – Only Frank could!

Other highlights included ‘The Road’, ‘I Still Believe’ and two cover songs – Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and a cover of the Postal Service’s ‘District Sleeps Alone Tonight,’ during which he invited Ben and Franz back on stage, for a new take on one of my favourites. However, the true highlight for me, had to be the final song of the set, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends,” where Frank smashed the very few barriers that existed between musician and fan and played the song in the crowd, proving to me that this man is never better than when he’s live – He has to be one of the most passionate men I have ever seen – a truly great performer! Thanks Frank.

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Frank Turner Featured In Film

This year, Relentless Energy continued their Short Film competition, with the first entry featuring Frank Turner.
The short film was made by up-and-coming filmmaker from Hertfordshire, James Henry. He chose Frank as the candidate to fill the competition’s themes of ‘No Half Measures,’ and ‘Focus,’ two adjectives which I cannot think of anybody better to grace with. James stated that: “I want to explore who he is at his core: it’s Frank’s story so who better to tell it than him himself?”
The film, titled ‘The Road,’ unsurprisingly documents life on tour for Frank – his highs and lows, and his inspiration to carry on making music.

Whilst only brief, is a great insight into Frank’s personal side, with behind-the-scenes interviews and as well as containing some great live footage and is truly inspirational, as it goes to show that hard work and passion can take you to places you could never have imagined!

James, since graduating from Hertfordshire University, the site for this years Slam Dunk South Festival, has been making a name for himself making films about various underground artists and fashion companies, as well as producing pieces for numerous magazines.

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Against Me! – Total Clarity

Against Me! have set the release date for their album of unreleased records and B-Sides for 24th May. The album will feature some demos and unreleased versions of older songs, with some previously unheard tracks, too:
1: Miami
2: The Shaker
3: Justin
4: Exhaustion & Disgust
5: Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners
6: The Energizer
7: Violence
8: The Mover
9: How Low
10: Joy
11: Holy Sh*t
12: Lost And Searching In America
13: Problems
14: Money Changes Everything
15: Total Clarity

Until the date of the album’s premiere on Myspace, the band are offering tasters of some of the tracks on their Myspace page, with a new track uploaded daily. Here are the links for the first two:

And follow this link for the page that you can visit for a new song daily:
http://www.myspace.com/guide/fansfirst?sid=f&cid=4328886.1&fid=18625122

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England Keep My Bones Update…

As I am sure you will be aware, Frank Turner will be releasing the much anticipated follow-up to his last album Love Ire and Song, with ‘England Keep My Bones.’ From what I have heard already, the album is set to be yet another fantastic release, if not his best yet. He has already released a couple of songs from the album over Youtube, including the new single and video for ‘Peggy Sang The Blues,’ which you can see below:

He has also released a new favourite of mine, called ‘I Am Disappeared,’ a soul-baring and emotional track that sees Frank exposing himself yet again for the pleasure of his fans! This is bound to be a hit for the future, and has racked up over 50,000 views online already!

And if you’re keen to see what’s gone into the album, Frank has also recorded an album diary, documenting everything from a question and answer session for fans, to the origins of the album title. Check it out below:

All of this has really whet my appetite for seeing Frank at the end of May – This Spring’s solo tour is bound to be fantastic, and it looks as if Frank will have a whole lot more songs for us to enjoy whilst we’re there!

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