Category Archives: Rock

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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Proof That The Foo Fighters Are The World’s Nicest Band..

In recent years the Foo Fighters have taken over the world. In the UK alone they have conquered two world famous venues – The Milton Keynes Bowl this summer, and Wembley Stadium a few years ago. So, they could be forgiven for fitting the typical rock star image. Separated from the fans by huge barriers or shying away from their devoted followers in the finest hotels – but not the Foos!

A new 40 minute film has been released that documents the recent ‘Garage Tour’ that the Foo Fighters did to allow them to go back to their roots and get in touch with the fans.

A competition ran asking fans for reasons as to why they deserved this once in a lifetime opportunity, and the documentary really helps capture the emotions of the winners, and just what it means to them to have Dave and Co. in their garage!

This, for me, cements Dave’s title as the nicest man in rock, and proves just how much the Foos live for music, and music alone!

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Rise Against- Another Station: Another Mile

Having just missed out on the one off London release show for Endgame in Camden the other month, of which its fantasticness my friends lovingly remind me of regularly (age limit was 16+, 10 days before my 16th birthday!), I opted for the next best thing, which was watching their fantastic live DVD, Another Station, Another Mile.
The DVD follows the band’s progress since their last DVD, Generation Lost, which was released in 2006, after the release of one of their best albums to date, Appeal To Reason.
The band made a conscious decision to keep all of the footage unedited, in order to give a real flavour of the live experience, and I think it has paid off. The film really gives a sense of what the band does best – live, raw and meaningful performances, where every word they sing means everything to not only them, but the devoted fans singing along in the crowd.

What I love about this film is that it shows so much more to what the band are about, than just the songs themselves. The crew follow the band across the globe, making different stop-off along the way, including a visit to an animal shelter, a baseball stadium, where Tim makes the first pitch, and a tube station where Tim starts busking on the train! Not only this, but they talk about the lyrics and their inspirations, as well as a whole section on their rehearsals when writing their latest album, Endgame. It is really interesting to see how, after the album was released, the songs had been put together – seeing them in their opening stages at their dingy old theatre of a rehearsal space, and then in their finished glory. It’s great to see the whole process that goes into making an album, whether its Tim’s unique way of making lyrics up on the spot, or the way the whole band jam together to come up with the backbone of their songs.
This is a must-buy DVD for any RA fan, as it gives an insight not only into the band’s live performances, but into the world behind Rise Against – Their beliefs, life on the road, and their often nerdy habits!

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The Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style

Lyrically inspired by seeing a recently deceased’s body when looking round a friend’s funeral home, The Dropkick Murphys’ new album, as with their entire back catalogue, was always going to be unique. The album is a sort of concept album, which sees the band looking back at their grandfathers’ Irish heritage and re-living both the hard and fun times they must have experienced many decades ago on the adventure that saw them immigrating from Ireland to Boston. They create a character to represent an amalgamation of their stories, recently deceased Cornelius Larkin. The album tells the story of his life’s experiences from birth to the grave, while maintaining a party atmosphere throughout!

The Dropkick Murphys’ seventh full album is just as packed with a fantastically original collection of punk rock, sing-along anthems. For those of you not familiar with these Boston-Irish hybrids, the Murphys combine folk, punk, rock and sing along, drunken shanty-style anthems for a completely unique sound that leaves you smiling from ear to ear every time.

The band, aside from the typical punk rock instrumental trio of drums, bass and guitar, consists of bagpipes, flutes, banjos, the bodhran and mondolin, bouzouki (?), the tin whistle, keyboards and many many more!
The bagpipes feature particularly heavily on Going Out In Style, as soon becomes clear from the opening track Hang ‘Em High. This track makes it very clear that this a party album – positivity being something the Murphys have become renowned for since the start of their career. The opener features a powerful bagpipe melody line, with power added by chants of ‘Hang ‘Em High!’ and some chunky overdriven guitars. The chorus is bound to make this a new fan favourite, born to have arena crowds singing along to the infectious ‘we waited together for the cowards to come…’ chorus line.
The second track, ‘Going Out In Style,’ sees much of the same – breakneck drumming with a wild bagpipe line, complete with sing-along working class ethic chorus, bound to have crowds of drunken Murphys-lovers everywhere singing along. Not only this, but this track sees a guest appearance from none other than Fat Mike, of NOFX.
Whilst the energetic theme is much the same for the majority of the album, such as The Hardest Mile, which is practically Going Out In Style, swapping bagpipes for an accordion, the album sees a tinge of a newer, more mature side to the Dropkick Murphys. ‘Cruel’ slows the pace down, and the backing chants quieten slightly as the Murphys soar into a ballad-style, accordion based track, that features some cleaner vocals from Frontman Al Barr.

The album is a great introduction to the Dropkick Murphys, as it sees them as a slightly matured band, who have improved both musically and lyrically, who still haven’t lost their passion for their music and heritage, nor their energetic streak, yet are still capable of producing unique anthems that will no doubt see thousands of people singing along, hand in hand. In fact, the band are on tour right now, and are warming up for their now-famous string of St Patrick’s Day shows. Get ‘Going Out In Style’ now and celebrate your St Patrick’s Day a bit differently this year, with the Dropkick Murphys as the soundtrack to your party!

Check out the album opener, ‘Hang ‘Em High’ live at the Mohegan Sun Arena + an interview with James Lynch and Tim Brennan below:

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More Bands and Dates Announced for Slam Dunk Festival!

Four additional bands have been added to the ever growing line up for this year’s Slam Dunk Festival due to take place in mid-May. Set Your Goals, Francesqa, Hit The Lights and Tek-One will all be playing this year – clearly Francesqa and Set Your Goals made a good impression at last year’s festival and are back for more fun this year!

Not only this, but the Slam Dunk organization has organized a series of mini-festivals.
Goldfinger, Anti-Flag, Less Than Jake and Set Your Goals will all be playing two shows together. One at the Glasgow ABC on 27th May, and the other at Guildhall, Southampton on 31st May.

On top of this, there will be another show with more acts at the Birmingham HMV Institute on 30th May, with Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Anti-Flag, The Starting Line, MC Lars, Set Your Goals, Hit The Lights and We Are The Ocean.

So there’s no excuse for all you punk and ska fans out there saying there’s never any decent shows for you to go to! Slam Dunk is there for everyone to enjoy!

See the full line-up for the main festivals so far below:

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Slam Dunk Acts Announced!

Slam Dunk Festival is all set to take place again this year in May. The original festival will be held in Leeds as usual, on 28th May, at Leeds University, whilst last years new addition of ‘Slam Dunk South’ will be held at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield again, on May 29th. I attended Slam Dunk South last year, and despite the gaping holes in the festival’s organization, it was still a fun little festival. This year, there looks to be a lot of ska, with two of the headliners as Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, the other being 3OH!3, who rose to fame last year with their song featuring Katy Perry, not that I’m familiar with them! I wasn’t sure about the festival’s line up to start with, but the most recent acts to be announced included Anti-Flag, Goldfinger and The Skints, so I’m going to try and get my tickets.
See the full line up so far for this years festival below:

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My Chemical Romance – Live At Wembley Arena 12 February

With the release of Danger Days last November resulting in a yet another wave of MCR hysteria across the globe, there were bound to be some shows in the band’s ‘favourite place in the world!’ After rave reviews of their first show after the release of the new album at the Hammersmith Apollo, and being a huge fan for a long time, it was a show that I had to get to!
A few weeks before, the support acts had been announced as Lost Alone and The Blackout. Lost Alone I had never heard of before, but they did their best to get the crowd warmed up. They definitely had plenty of energy, and there were some decent solos dotted around, but they didn’t seem to have a defined style, switching between pop-punk, rock and metal. Personally, I don’t think the lead vocalist, Steven Battelle’s voice suited metal particularly, but credit to the band for the energy they injected into the tricky job of first support act a such a big gig.
The Blackout were up next – a band I’ve liked for a long time, but have never really got into properly. These welsh boys are much more established amongst the fans, and this was clear straight away. Lead singer/screamer, Sean Smith did a great job of getting the crowd warmed up. Their mix of screamo, punk and metal sounded great live, and the show was packed with energy. Highlights for me included Save Our Selves, new single Higher and Higher, I Don’t Care and Children of the Night, as well as an interesting cover of Willow Smith’s dreadful song ‘I Whip My Hair!’
Next up, the band we’d all been waiting for. I’ve got to say, My Chemical Romance fans are amongst the most devoted I have ever seen. Legions of fans showed up in the distinctive masks and scarves that are a trademark of the new album, some even with their own ray guns!
The screams of teenage girls as the band took to the stage were probably louder than the band themselves, as they launched into the hit single from Danger Days, ‘Na Na Na.’
Next up was an older one, Give ‘Em Hell, Kid, from Three Cheers. Again, this frantic song was packed with energy. One thing I wasn’t sure about was what had happened to Gerard’s voice. When he started talking, it was as if he’d been replaced by Michael Jackson. Maybe he had a cold, but his nasally voice sounded pretty odd!
The songs throughout the night were all packed with power, and there was a good mix from all of their albums:

Songs like Vampire Money and Party Poison were great for getting the crowd going, whilst Cancer, The Ghost of You and The Kids From Yesterday had hands swaying all round!
Over all, it was a great night, and MCR are living up to their reputation of being one of the liveliest, most interactive live bands around. Highlights for me included Mama, Hang ‘Em High, SING and Teenagers, with the only song that fell behind being Destroya, but then again, I don’t like the original of that song anyway, so it’s no surprise!

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Joe Strummer – The Future Is Unwritten

I have been a fan of The Clash for quite some time now, and in particular, Joe Strummer and his unique personality and attitude towards life that made him such a inspirational man. So, when I saw this film, among many others documenting the Joe and the Clash, and the fantastic reviews it had received, it was a must for me to buy.

The film documents Strummer’s life in a very unique way, combining interviews with the man himself, with friends and family sitting around a Strummerville festival campfire, rare video footage of Joe on stage, and other unusual clips, such as his cartoons reflecting his thoughts and feelings towards life, which were animated and adapted for film.

The film begins by discussing Joe’s childhood. It was so interesting to find out where the roots of his D.I.Y and hard working ethics originated from, such as being sent away to boarding school, and then having to bully his way out of falling into a completely miserable childhood.

The film also documents the breakdown of Joe’s career in The Clash and how he progressed onto writing his own solo material. It also shows people views of the man today, and how his legacy has lived on even in today’s world. I found the film truly thought-provoking and was a great insight into the life behind the scenes of one of punk’s most famous figures. For anyone even remotely interested in the Clash, this is a must-see, as Strummer was one of a kind, who made such a difference to the world around him.

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Bullet For My Valentine – Live At Wembley Arena – December 12th

Welsh wonders Bullet For My Valentine, as you should know, are one of Britain’s leading metal bands, if not one of the best live bands out there, so when they came to Wembley at the end of their European tour, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

We turned up a bit late, so unfortunately missed half of Atreyu’s set – they’ve been one of my favourite bands for a long time now. We still managed to hear The Crimson and Lip Gloss and Black which were both great, but it sounded as if we missed a lot of their big hits, such as Right Side Of The Bed, which was a shame.

Next up was Bring Me The Horizon. Now I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me here, or if you think I sound like an old fogey, but I really can’t see the appeal of these guys from Sheffield. I had a listen beforehand and it sounded pretty horrific, and the guys I was with aren’t keen on them either, so after a few songs we decided that they weren’t for us and made our escape into the foyer. And I’m glad we did – the racket we heard whilst in the foyer would have made my ears bleed for sure.
Anyway, after BMTH were safely off the stage, we decided to get back to our seats for the band of the night.
The night for me began as the giant Union Jack dropped to the floor, and the band launched into Your Betrayal, one my favourites from their latest album, Fever.

BFMV continued to blast out the hits throughout the night, with riff after riff, and solo after solo. Padge’s solo midway through the set proved to me just how talented these guys are – here’s a band that certainly deserves the great reputation that they’ve gained over the last few years.

Highlights included Your Betrayal, Pleasure and Pain, Hand of Blood and of course Tears Don’t Fall, which had the entire arena screaming back the rousing chorus. Despite being a fairly short set, the band made up for it with all the energy they put into the show, as well as the the technicality of all of their songs, which must be a killer to play night after night!
It was a night to remember, for not only me, but probably the band as well, as they seemed so grateful to all the fans on the night, and it must have been great to end the tour at such a famous and prestigious venue.

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My Chemical Romance – The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys: A Full Review

Well, after the series of brief album tasters from their Youtube channel, the new My Chemical Romance album has finally been released!

Kicking off with Look Alive, Sunshine – an introduction to the album from Doctor Death Defy, the listener is flung into the album at breakneck speed as the band rip into hit single ‘Na Na Na.’ This is followed by Bulletproof Heart, a personal favourite from the album, with a synth and piano driven verse, followed by a powerful, rousing chorus.

Next up on the album, yet another hit in the making – Sing. Whilst the first verse may seem quite empty on first listen, you quickly realise that this just makes the chorus even more dramatic. This is a song that has already begun making its mark on the great British public, and is currently working its way up the charts! I cannot wait to see them in February!

And yet again, another catchy, crazy party song follows! (Planetary) GO! is guaranteed to wake even the most sleepy of listeners, as the quiet intro suddenly breaks out into the fast paced chorus which sets the pace for the rest of the song. Other album highlights for me include Party Poison, which, despite the strange Chinese woman wailing at the beginning goes back to the MCR that we are used to – pure punk rock that protests against the people who state that ‘All the good times give you cancer,’ showing the bands’ love for the wilder side of life.

Despite this being a huge change between the bands’ previous three albums, those willing to give the album a thorough listen will realise just how great this new album is. Whilst on the surface the band may appear to have changed tack completely, on closer examination it becomes clear that the band have not lost their ability to write some incredibly catchy songs, that can guarantee yet another commercial success for the album! I can already see that this will be one of the best albums to be released this year, never mind some of the best material to battle the generic rubbish that we in England like to call the Top 100 Charts!

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