With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music reviews, gig reviews, fun trivia and extra added random stuff!

‘IV’ – Letting Up Despite Great Faults April 18, 2022

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:53 pm
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This great new album from Letting Up Despite Great Faults, (great name by the way!), has all the hallmarks of classic indie music. Jangling guitars and low-key almost whispered vocals. What this band also have is fantastic songs with great hooks and superb production. “Kisses” is an excellent opening track with multilayered instrumentation. “Gorgeous” is more upbeat with well-balanced gossamer vocals. “New Ground” has a great instrumental introduction. “Gemini” opens out into a song with touches of The Cure and is more grandiose than the other tracks. Single “She Spins” has a good commercial feel and excellent hooks. “Curl” is a slower keyboard-led piece that breaks up the album nicely. “Self-Portrait” returns to the band’s calling card of jangly guitars and closes the album off nicely. A great album from a dedicated and skilled group of musicians.
Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘So Far, So Good’ – Out Of Love March 27, 2022

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 7:17 pm
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Out Of Love are a full-on pop-punk band with masses of energy and passion for their music. This energy pulses through this excellent debut album like a life force. The opener “S.L.U.M.P” sets out the stall for the rest of the album with massive riffs, huge guitars, and big choruses. Most of the songs clock in at under 3 minutes and explore themes of identity and reflections on how life is now. “All Grown Up” has a flavour of Green Day and the angst of Sam Fender topped off by the original touches that the band brings to every song. “Play Pretend” has an interesting spoken introduction and a fantastic chorus. “Hello Trouble” has a more melodic approach and great vocal harmonies. “Sniffin’ Glue” has a touch of Nirvana and great lyrics.
The final track “Kill Song” is for me the pick of the bunch. A great song to finish with combining a fantastic riff with a brilliant buzz bass sound. I imagine Out Of Love absolutely kill it live with their short sharp songs and huge passion. More, please!

Written by Paul Bamlett.

The album is scheduled for release on 8th April 2022 via Venn Records.

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‘Future Plans And The Things That Ruin Them’ EP – Fights and Fires February 11, 2022


Since forming in 2008 this Worcester-based punk rock band has lived by their motto: “If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point in working this hard?” Fights and Fires are often described as emotive rowdy hardcore punk bangers or melodic hardcore-infused punk-rock, but however you want to think of them, they deliver a sound that is exhilarating and incendiary (pun intended). Since their formation, the band have released 4 albums, an EP, two split releases, and a handful of singles, which are now completely sold out on all formats. After turning their focus to touring mainland Europe, the band has built a solid underground fanbase throughout the continent. These guys love Star Wars, professional wrestling, and superheroes. Fights And Fires, offstage, look more at home in your local comic bookstore, than at a punk rock show. But, come stage time, it all changes – it’s nice guys, playing hard, in your face music, with wide smiles across their faces. Fights & Fires are Philip Cox (Vocals and trained professional wrestler), Ryan Price (Guitar and roller coaster fanatic), Philip Cook (Guitar and Football Manager supremo), Luke Tasker (Bass and lots of hidden talents), Lee Jackson (Drums and self-confessed football lunatic). Lyrically, this fun-loving quintet is not afraid to show us their emotions and musically not ashamed to wear their classic rock and post-hardcore influences side by side on their sleeves. What you get is a cleverly crafted sound of the likes of Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, as well as US punk bands Rocket From the Crypt and The Bronx.


‘Future Plans And The Things That Ruin Them’ EP, the latest addition to their repertoire, releases February 18 through Lockjaw Records. The EP was written throughout 2020 during the various lockdown periods, countless hours were spent writing over Zoom calls between the members’ homes in Worcester, Wales and France. In the summer of 2021, the band were able to re-unite, socially distanced of course 😉, to spend a day rehearsing before heading straight into the studio to record this well-crafted and poignant EP. “The only real theme of the EP is hope. The subject matter is often about hard times or struggles but the message is always one of finding a better way or a light at the end of the tunnel,” explains vocalist Philip Cox. I am pretty sure Philip, and the rest of his soulmates know about ‘Fights and Fires are the Flowers of Edo’ and how this expression is used to describe the destruction and rebuilding of Tokyo over the centuries. As we continue to destroy what’s around us, at some point we will rebuild and improve, giving us that hope of what may lie ahead in the future. The deep and meaningful stuff to one side, what about the EP? The hard-hitting opening track, “Disposable Dogs”, is their first single to be released at the back end of 2021. Cox’s distinctive vocals lead the way with his very own expressive style, reminding me at times of Robert Smith from the Cure and even Feargal Sharkey from the Undertones. Guitarwork from Price and Cook from start to end is always raw, pacy and sharp. Nicely complimented with Taskers pummelling bass throughout, this song is made up of many varied movements, a bit like a piece of classical music. The vocals, tuneful and melodic during the chorus, are very satisfying and anthemic. I can imagine being there at their gigs, singing along with the thousands of other fans. The lead up to the chorus focuses on the angst in Cox’s vocals creating the perfect backdrop for lyrics like ‘These are the problems that we face every day, these are our problems, and they don’t go away’. During the track, there’s a satisfying instrumental break, picked guitar and pounding floor toms, shining a light on how musically accomplished this band are. A belting opening track.

“Shitty Year”, released in January, begins where “Disposable Dogs” left off. ‘My indecisions are the source of my bad luck’, no wishbones, no four-leaf clover‘, the song takes a look back at a shitty year and looking forward with hope. Philip Cox and the band deliver another well-structured piece of melodic punk, thundering along with anthemic choruses. It’s been another shitty year yeah yeah – you have to love this clever wordsmanship creating a truly pop hook. Throughout Messrs Price and Cook hit us with clean and choppy guitar interlocking with a delicious sustained distorted sound. The solid drums and driving bass do exactly what you’d expect. Just over halfway through, after an unexpected and quite satisfying key change, we are treated to a powerful bass and drum interlude, before normal service is resumed, and the band continues to thump out to the end. Just when you thought you had this band’s style and genre sussed, the next 2 tracks stop you in your tracks. In “Bed For Bones”, the chaps show us that they know how to really rock. In your face guitar work, which often sounds very Iron Maidenesque and then some well-constructed and tight rhythms, where for a moment I think I am listening to Rage Against the Machine. This track has an abundance of styles and variety – it’s a love song…not a sing-along. It’s my favourite by far. “Up, Down, Labour, Conservative, A, B, Start” goes to the other end of the spectrum. It’s a real punk banger, bouncing along and politically charged. Less anthemic and catchy choruses than previous tracks, the band releases their angst through the music and vocals. ’History just repeats itself, but we just keep on letting it, we just keep on letting it’ – it’s a powerful message and let’s just hope that we do something about it. The closing track on the EP is “Pocket Full Of Flowers”, which was released as a single back in 2020. Vocalist Philip Cox said, “The song is about the naivety of love, and how focused we can be on it to cement our happiness…So, just as a token gift of a flower to a mother is put in a pocket to wilt away, a wedding ring can too end up in a sock draw wasting away. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like I could start again and build a new better version of me.” This track returns the EP to a more melodic and singalong style life as the punky and trembling vocals pack a mean punch on top of gritty guitars sitting perfectly with the full and round sound of Jackson’s drums. It’s a catchy number, energetic and melodic.

Fights & Fires will be hitting the road throughout February 2022, in support of the new EP, with remaining shows in Lincoln, Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee – Tickets are on sale now.
See them live on the following dates:
February 2022
Fri 11th – LINCOLN – Akedo
Sat 12th – BIRMINGHAM – The Victoria
Sun 13th – LONDON – New Cross Inn
Thu 17th – GLASGOW – Bloc
Fri 18th – EDINBURGH – Banshee Labyrinth
Sat 19th – DUNDEE – Rad Apples

Written by Juan Brooks

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‘Documentaries’ – EP – The Long Faces August 19, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:49 am
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Referencing the early incarnation of Soft Machine in their publicity this band include Prog, Psychedelia, contemporary jazz and choral music in their armoury. Melodic purity and harmonic surprise are key . First track “Sail Away” has an innovative opening with distinctive vocals and great guitar parts. An intriguing rhythm and a hint of Orange Juice. “Documentaries” has a good soundscape opening and a distinctive jazz feel. The vocals are strong with lovely falsetto. “And Where Have You Gone, Mr. Wolf?” has a more prog opening with wonderful melody and a superb bass breakdown. This is the strongest track here for me with fabulous harmonies. What the Long Faces present here are a multiplicity of potential musical futures. The dilemma will be which one to choose . Whatever their decision you can guarantee that the results will be fascinating.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Mustard Coloured Years’ EP – Wild Cat Strike May 28, 2020


When searching the music world it isn’t always easy to find artists that are truly original but Brighton’s Wild Cat Strike merit that description. Their ‘Mustard Coloured Years’ EP strikes me as one of the most fascinating releases I have heard in a long time. Starting with Danny Byrom’s idiosyncratic and original vocals and superbly backed up by Max Boughen on guitar, Chris Whitehorn on bass and Joe Caple on drums this is a captivating band. It should be noted that all of these players are multi-instrumentalists so a truly multi-skilled ensemble.

“Mustard” combines an original sound with eccentric rhythms using light and shade with complex lyrical ideas. “Toothcutter” employs a different sound and method altogether. The lyrics are intriguing with their religious references writ large. There is a little feel of the Cure about this track but as with the other tracks this maintains its originality. This song has a second part to it which creates a more dreamy feel. “Swamp” is a mesmerising song that draws you in and is beautifully constructed. The music is inspired and intricate with a real application of lyrical thought processes and musicality. At the end of Roxy Music’s debut album, Bryan Ferry warbled “should make the cognoscenti think”. Well, Wild Cat Strike will surely have the same effect. My ears are open for more from this original group of musicians.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Year Zero’ – The Spitfires June 20, 2018


Watford ska punks (although they are far more wide ranging and eclectic than that genre suggests) the Spitfires have a new album, their third, coming out on 27th July on Hatch Records it is called ‘Year Zero’. If you like the Specials, the Ruts, Madness, the Clash, dub reggae and Paul Weller you will love this lot. They formed in 2012 and have released two previous albums; ‘Response’ in 2015 and ‘A Thousand Times’ came out the following year. I love a British band that doesn’t follow the cliché of enunciating rock music in a fake American accent and Billy Sullivan lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Spitfires is very British in his delivery.

The band lay down their political credentials throughout this record, opening track starts with a sweet, haunting, delicate keyboard piece from George Moorhouse and then kicks into a full on punky guitar riff and ska beat that drives the anger in the lyrics. “don’t you ever apologise for being young and speaking your mind” is definitely a mantra that today’s youth should stick to. The dub drone opening to “Something Worth Fighting For” is evocative of Big Audio Dynamite with Paul Weller on vocal duties, possibly the best song on this collection. Personally I love bands that are not afraid to make social commentary, protest and political songs and the Spitfires do all that with passion, conviction and soul.

There is an abundance of soul, passion and real emotion in the powerful ballad “By My Side” with an almost ethereal counterpoint vocal harmony provided by Emily Capell, a fresh new singer songwriter from North West London. The muzak styled organ sound on “Move On” would make Jerry Dammers proud. I can hear prime period Dexys Midnight Runners on “Sick Of Hanging Around” mainly in the brass and Kevin Rowland style vocal. Billy Sullivan’s anger at society hits its peak on the riff laden Jam-esque “The New Age”. Title track “Year Zero” is a synth driven ska noise fest that cannot fail to get you moving, although for me that title song is way too short. I have already mentioned singer Billy Sullivan and supremely talented keyboard wizard George Moorhouse, but the underlay that keeps this band together is the staggeringly brilliant rhythm section of bass man Sam Long and versatile drummer Matt Johnson. You need to buy, download or stream the album when it hits the world next month, you will not be disappointed. The band embark on a lengthy UK tour later this year and into 2019. If you haven’t seen them yet, get your damned tickets now! (dates below). I am planning on getting to the York show in February.

Fri 05 Oct – Southend, Chinnerys
Sat 06 Oct – Norwich, Arts Centre
Fri 02 Nov – Dover, Booking Hall
Sat 03 Nov – Brighton, Patterns
Fri 09 Nov – Leamington Spa, Zephyr Lounge
Sat 10 Nov – London, Islington Assembly Hall
Thu 15 Nov – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
Fri 16 Nov – Glasgow, Broadcast
Sat 17 Nov – Edinburgh, Mash House
Fri 23 Nov – Bristol, Fiddlers
Sat 24 Nov – Exeter, Cavern
Thu 29 Nov – Newcastle, Cluny
Fri 30 Nov – Carlisle, Old Fire Station
Fri 07 Dec – Leeds, Hi Fi Club
Sat 08 Dec – Northampton, Roadmender
Fri 25 Jan – Belfast, Limelight 2
Sat 26 Jan – Dublin, Workman’s Club
Fri 08 Feb – Sheffield, Plug
Sat 09 Feb – Manchester, Gorilla
Fri 15 Feb – Hull, Fruit
Sat 16 Feb – York, Fibbers
Fri 22 Feb – Cardiff, The Globe
Sat 23 Feb – Liverpool, O2 Academy 2

 

‘Terror’ – Wonk Unit March 28, 2018


‘Terror’ is the sixth studio album from South London‘s Punk DIY kings Wonk Unit, following on from 2016’s rather spiffing ‘Mr Splashy’. They have inherited some of the best things from some of the finest British bands; Blur, the Kinks, the Members, Madness and maybe even the Streets. From its title alone “Day Job Wanker” evokes the classic ‘Inbetweener’s’ “bus wankers’ scene, unless of course that is just the way my mind works.

“Hope” is the sound of Jonathan Richman had he been British. Lyrically this is a band at the top of their game. Have you ever had one of those nights where you simply can’t sleep? Yeah me too. Well that experience is perfectly summed up in “As The Rest Of The World Sleeps” as a ‘war rages in you’. I have listened to music for more years than I care to remember and without doubt Wonk Unit are one of the most original bands that I have heard in years. Every time I hear a note or style in one of their songs that reminds me of another band it only exists for a few fleeting seconds then the Wonk Unit DNA kicks in to prove their idiosyncratic, intelligent originality. This is crystal clear in the song that is my current favourite, the infectious “Christmas In A Crack House”

Wonk Unit have been around since 2006 and aiding and abetting highly talented songwriter and front man Alex Brindle Johnson are; Pwosion on Bass, Guitarist Kenny and Tommy on the drums. Eugene Butcher of Big Cheese said that “Wonk Unit have managed the almost impossible task of having found their own sound.It’s punk son, but not as we know it”. I find it impossible not to agree with that. In fact if Wonk Unit didn’t exist then someone would need to invent them. This is the sort of band that music needs. No ridiculous frills, great lyrics, massive hooks, humour, vignettes of real life just pure unadulterated Wonk Unit. The new album is due to hit the stores, streaming sites and hopefully your ears on 20th April, courtesy of Plasterer Records make sure your ears are on the receiving end of it. Don’t be a wanker, be a wonker!

They tour far more than many of their contemporaries and they are behind London’s eclectic Wonkfest. There are plenty of opportunities to catch them on tour this year, in the UK and mainland Europe, have you got your tickets?

30 MAR – Hastings, UK, Blackmarket VIP
31 MAR – Reading UK, Readipop
18 APR – London UK, Black Heart*
19 APR – London UK, Black Heart*
20 APR – Manchester UK, Manchester Punk Festival*
21 APR – Cardiff UK, Clwb Ifor Bach*
22 APR – Keighley UK, Exchange*
23 APR – Edinburgh UK, Bannermans*
24 APR – Inverness UK, The Tooth And Claw*
25 APR – Workington UK, Lounge 41*
26 APR – Sunderland UK, Independent*
27 APR – Nottingham UK, Maze*
28 APR – Stamford UK, Mama Liz’s*
29 APR – Grimsby UK, Yardbirds*
03 MAY – Feldkirch A, Graf Hugo+
04 MAY – Wels A, SBÄM Fest+
05 MAY – Zurich CH, Obenuse Festival+
06 MAY – Bern CH, Roesli+
07 MAY – Lugano CH, Casotto+
08 MAY – Salavaux CH, Le Trou+
09 MAY – München DE, Import Export+
10 MAY – Frankfurt/Main DE, Tiefengrund+
11 MAY – Bonn DE, Bla+
12 MAY – Karlsruhe DE, Alte Hackerei+
13 MAY – Braunschweig DE, B58+
02 JUN – Amsterdam NL, Rebellion Festival
22 JUN – Huddersfield UK, The Parish
23 JUN – Uttoxeter UK, The Old Star
30 JUN – Manchester UK, O2 Ritz
05 JUL – Zwickau DE, Störfaktor Festival
07 JUL – Hameln DE, K3
08 JUL – Hünxe DE, Ruhrpott Rodeo
13 JUL – Bath UK, Belvoir Castle
14 JUL – Wem UK, Wemstock Festival
15 JUL – Derby UK, The Hairy Dog
20 JUL – Cheltenham UK, Frog And Fiddle
21 JUL – Fleckney UK, Mayhem At Mick’s Festival
28 JUL – London UK, The Dome – Wonkfest
04 AUG – Blackpool UK, Rebellion Festival
10 AUG – Winchester UK, Boomtown
* w/ The Raging Nathans + w/ The Murderburgers

A big thank you to Wall Of Sound PR for giving me the opportunity to review this fine release.

 

 

‘Roach’ – Aerial Salad November 12, 2017


Manchester has produced many fine bands over the years and with pop punk trio Aerial Salad I think you can add another to that esteemed list. Formed in 2016 and Jamie Munro (Guitar & Vox), Jack Appleby (Drums) and Michael Wimbleton (Bass Guitar) claim influences from Jawbreaker, Green Day and Weezer to name but a few. I can hear elements of old school punk like the Damned, Sham 69 and the Clash along with a hint of ska punk a la Reel Big Fish. ‘Roach’ is a classy début with hard-hitting life stories and a wall of punk sound that smacks you in the face from the opening bars of “Habits And Problems”. When I listening to “97” I am gobsmacked as to how three people can make such a full on barrage of solid guitar attack.

“Worst Case Ontario” sounds musically like the Undertones and Jamie Munro gives it his best Jimmy Pursey vocal. Aerial Salad are bona-fide rockers who have some great songs, magnificent musicianship, punk attitude and to top it all it feels like they enjoying the bloody hell out of it all. The album has twelve tracks and there is not a dud among them, all I wanted to do after my first listen was to play it again. My favourite tracks after two listens are “Alone Forever” and “Dunhills” but that will probably change after the third. This record is most definitely crammed with top tunes. The album is out now on London-based label Plasterer Records. I definitely want to see this band live, how about Reading/ Leeds 2018? You can still catch them on their UK tour this month. If you have been to any of the shows feel free to let me know what you thought in the comments below. Dates are (can you come to York or Leeds next time please lads?);

08 Nov – Exeter, Cavern
09 Nov – Southampton, Joiners
10 Nov – Brighton, Sticky Mikes
11 Nov – Bristol, Louisiana
12 Nov – London, New Cross Inn
13 Nov – Watford, Flag
14 Nov – Bradford, Big Bang Theory
15 Nov – Glasgow, Bar Bloc
16 Nov – Newcastle, Jumping Jacks
17 Nov – Scunthorpe, Lincoln Imp
18 Nov – Morecombe, The Carleton
19 Nov – Stafford, Redrum
20 Nov – Worcester, Marrs Bar
21 Nov – Canterbury, Lady Luck
22 Nov – Norwich, The Owl Sanctuary
23 Nov – Chester, Live Rooms
24 Nov – Derby, Hairy Dog
25 Nov – Abertillery, Dolls House

A big thank you to those lovely funky punky folk at Wall Of Sound PR for giving me the chance to review this album.

 

 
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