Track Review: The Bronx – Curb Feelers

Described by The Bronx’ front man, Matt Caughthran, as setting the tone for the upcoming Bronx VI, and the rock the other songs break against, new single Curb Feelers is an unstoppable boulder plummeting down an endless mountainside. This latest effort is a fine example of what modern punk should look like – thrashing and shrieking but just enough melodic hook to differentiate it between noise and song.

Not your everyday experience of punk – the musicianship on Curb Feelers is superb! Refusing to pigeonhole themselves with an endless onslaught of power chords – the unfortunate prototype of most modern punk – the fast riffing running through the track creates a sense of urgency greater than the need for a toilet after an IBS flare up! The sublime speed soloing adds further oomph to the already frenzied and hectic number.

“I write the songs that no-one sings. You got no idea the pressure that brings,” screams Caughthran. Rest assured, this song will be sung with gusto. Bronx VI is released 17th August, and having already teased with four tracks, the album will be the summer staple for a lot of combat-boot-connoisseurs and studded-belt-enthusiasts.


Album Review: Modest Mouse – The Golden Casket

Modest Mouse are a band of quirk and quick wit. Fast approaching thirty years of existence, their latest album release, The Golden Casket, is a clever project of optimism and hope. It seems like a lifetime ago since the Oregon octet’s heyday, but the North-Western ensemble are going stronger than ever with their newest effort.

Choosing an album opener can either be a no-brainier or a thankless and long-drawn-out endeavour. The Golden Casket’s opener, Fuck This Acid Trip, might not be the obvious choice, but within a minute or so it all makes sense. The track is as perturbing as it is awesome; perhaps attempting to emulate an acid trip through the medium of music. The outcome is a pretty great song, and the cult-like chanting will get that head bobbing.

Second track, We Are Between, is an indie rock corker. Consisting a comforting and perfectly pleasing riff, the verse is nice if a bit vanilla. However, all crimes are atoned by the time that chorus raises the roof. The song becomes as catching as coronavirus, and more fun than bouncing on a bouncy castle after consuming too much alcohol at your god-daughter’s christening.

Walking And Running is a nifty number that’s guaranteed to get your feet shuffling. There’s an urgency and coolness partying its way through the track, and it feels like the song is begging for an accompanied choreographed routine. A true highlight of the album.

As with almost any album in history, fillers are unfortunately an inevitability. How can artists produce consistently good songs within the confines of one album? Modest Mouse are no exception to this rule. Transmitting Receiving is the album filler – a long one at that – but it stands alone as the one subpar song on The Golden Casket.

The standout tracks are the already-released singles. The Sun Hasn’t Gone and Leave A Light On were rightly selected as the album’s initial singles. Their optimism and essence of hope is beautiful, and their festival-ready feel is up there with the very best of any the fun-time festival jams. When these songs finally reach the festival circuits, you better believe that frenzied euphoria will wave across those muddy, beer-soaked fields.

Ending the album is the oddly named, Back To The Middle. It’s a fitting end to an album of warmth and charm. Permitting some serious overdrive to augment the track only adds to its power as an album closer, and rounds off the end to a successful album.

The Golden Casket is a solid effort. All the songs trickle nicely into the next, and the production quality is high. Modest Mouse are never going to better the success that accompanied their breakthrough album, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, but The Golden Casket is a strong example of a band who continue to entertain, whilst still making music the way they want to make it.


Categorized as Indie

Track Review: Descendents – Like The Way I Know

What can be said about a track coming in at one meagre minute in length? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Punk bands are notorious for accomplishing what’s required within the confines of three minutes, but Descendents manage to pull off their new song – and it is definitely is a song – Like The Way I Know within 56 seconds. Granted, its short duration will never make it a go-to fan favourite but the band accomplish a pleasing pop punk project, nonetheless.

Still continuing to tease their upcoming album, 9th And Walnut, Descendents bring the get up and go with Like The Way I Know. A thrashing power chord riff propels the track with urgency, and really is the back bone of the ditty. Descendents also manage to squeeze in an excellent chorus… twice. You can probably now appreciate the tempo of the track.

Like The Way I Know is not so much a song to be remembered from Descendents extensive discography, it’s more of a last-minute reminder that 9th And Walnut drops next month.


Categorized as pop punk

Track Review: Foo Fighters – Making A Fire (Mark Ronson Re-Version

There are many words to the describe faeces, and Foo Fighters are fast becoming a synonym for it. Dave Grohl’s forte for releasing soulless and sterilised pop rock, shows no signs of slowing.

Since the turn of the millennium, Foo Fighters have released one boring album after one boring album. When all is said and done, however, you can’t knock Grohl and Foo Fighters for giving the masses what they want, and at least he flies the flag for keeping rock music half relevant in an age of algorithmic musical dirge.

One of the latest releases by Foo Fighters, Making A Fire, has been given the Mark Ronson treatment. Recognisable as a Mark Ronson wonder track within seconds of the song’s start, Ronson makes Making A Fire significantly more enjoyable. His version ditches the Foo Fighters’ irritatingly loud guitars, replacing them with funkier and infinitely cooler licks, and incorporating seductive soloing.

This is what Mark Ronson does best; he takes songs and makes them so much better. He has certainly managed to polish a turd with this latest reimagining. If only he could have called upon one of his own previously used vocalist to cover Grohl’s whiney singing.


Categorized as rock

Vinyl vs Streaming: The Lowdown

At this juncture in history, we all know that CDs, cassettes and MP3 are more or less moribund – vinyl and streaming make up the auditory elite. The ongoing debate between vinyl and streaming falls into two camps: those who advocate the ritualistic and sensory satisfaction of playing vinyl, versus the supporters of the effortless simplicity and convenience of streaming.

The resurgence in popularity of the vinyl record shows no signs of slowing. Sales of vinyl have not been this high since the early nineties and, according to the RIAA, vinyl record sales increased by almost 30% in 2020. One in five albums purchased last year were purchased on vinyl. Year on year, the plastic black disk continues to defy logic. It’s somewhat of a surprise to many, given it’s almost awkward appearance and space-saving inefficiency; however, love it or hate it, vinyl is here to stay.

The aesthetic allure of the vinyl record is irrefutable to many a music lover. Firstly, there’s the “it’s a large piece of art” argument. The sleeve’s artwork can be enjoyed in all its ocular glory – something that cannot be replicated by the modern-day screen, no matter the quality and clarity of said screen. Then comes the jovial sentiments, described by many, as they lift the record from the sleeve; waves of gleeful nostalgia crashing over the anticipatory listener. The placing of the record on the player, and the initial scratching as the needle fumbles the plastic, only adds to intensify that nostalgic crescendo for the LP aficionado. Finally, the music. LP lovers will question, “how can one metal needle, touching a single piece plastic, sound so good?”

One of the backbone arguments the vinyl fan often retorts, is the quality of audio output. Vinyl-heads vehemently argue in favour of the auditory superiority of the vinyl record; however, that’s another rabbit hole and a discussion for another day. For a detailed inspection of audio comparisons, check out this link .  

Importantly, there is the novelty of being part of an exclusive club when one operates exclusively in vinyl. Sadly, a certain snobbery often afflicts the avid vinyl audiophile. One can imagine the inclusion of vinyl sales at fashion clothing outlets is viewed with disdain by the disc junkie. With that said, the vinyl industry has produced many benefits, including employment opportunities in the production and selling of the commodity, more money for the performing artist, and the enrichment of many music maniac’s lives.

Streaming – unlike vinyl – is the modern way, and as history has exposed, modern is usually transient and ultimately replaced. However, at this point in time, how can music be made any more accessible? A chip implant in the skull that pumps out music as quick as a thought? Perhaps? Digressions aside, with streaming you pay your subscription – or not in the case of YouTube – and the world of music is at your fingertips, which is a pretty sweet deal for the music enthusiast. Perhaps streaming will be the music medium that sticks? 

There’s nothing fancy about streaming, it’s just simple. And it’s this simplicity that will never be usurped by nostalgic audio mediums of yesteryear. You certainly don’t feel important for buying into a streaming service but you know that for a very meagre subscription cost, you have access to millions upon millions of songs. A month’s subscription to Spotify is about the cost of half a vinyl LP, which is quite a trade-off. When one considers that the purpose of music is the experience of sound, using only vinyl seems odd.  

Most vinyl junkies have a streaming subscription, whereas most streamers don’t purchase vinyl (at least not in the long-term). Streaming ultimately prevails as the essential audio medium, triumphing with its convenience and immediacy. However, the charm of the LP will likely remain – for the time being – due to its nostalgic appeal. The argument boils down to the bang for buck and convenience vs the prestige and appreciation. The fact of the matter is vinyl junkies probably have more of a view on streamers than streamers do of vinyl lovers – in fact, most streamers probably couldn’t care less about vinyl. 

Track Review: WILLOW – Lipstick

Hip hop and pop punk have experienced an unlikely alliance over the past few years. Notable crossover artists include Post Malone and Machine Gun Kelly; both of whom have embraced the guitar with enormous commercial success.

Stylistically, hip hop and pop punk are very disparate, and the purists of both genres would ordinarily not listen to the music efforts of the other; however, the recent splicing of hip hop and pop punk has made for some excellent pop music, and many artists are starting to take notice and replicate.

Daughter of Will Smith, WILLOW, has carved a successful career as a rapper and singer in her own right – having already released three albums since the age of fifteen – and is now due to release her pop punk debut with Lately I Feel Everything. A risky move, but having already worked with one of the most respected artists in hip hop and pop punk, Travis Barker, WILLOW’s upcoming release could be something special.

Unlike Machine Gun Kelly’s recent effort that was taken straight from the Idiot’s Guide To Emulating Blink 182, WILLOW’s new single, Lipstick, doesn’t feel like it’s trying to imitate anyone. The guitar tones are abrasive and deep, and not stereotypically pop punk, but Lipstick is a solid effort. The darker sound is amplified by the truly exceptional vocal performance and catchy lyrical hooks. It’s exciting when artists move away from their traditional sound and hit the nail firmly on the head, and WILLOW has driven that nail deep!


Categorized as pop punk

Track Review: Bastille – Distorted Light Beam

London lads, Bastille, make a welcome return to form with new dance floor filler, Distorted Light Beam. Simple and formulaic yet unique, this track will satisfy that Bastille-shaped hole in your life.

Commencing with helter-skelter techno keys, reverberated vocals and computerised beats, it’s still Bastille but with a made-for-Ibiza veneer. The chorus is perhaps less anthemic than the best of the band’s outputs but it possesses a charm in it’s positive – if slightly idealistic – lyrics. Pompeii, this song is not, but it is certainly not a throwaway effort.

BBC Radio 1 will likely gush over the release of any new Bastille material, overplay it and make you hate it. But until it’s tarnished, crank it up to eleven and enjoy the euphoric dance beats for three minutes of bliss.


Categorized as Indie

Track Review: The Killers – Dustland feat. Bruce Springsteen

Sonny and Cher. Nicks and Petty. Flowers and Springsteen? When two planets collide, something very special happens, and this is certainly the case with The Killers’ collaboration with Bruce Springsteen on new song, Dustland.

Dustland is a solid offering, beginning with a soft piano ballad, before erupting into classic Killers’ mode. The track sounds like a song one might expect to find on the band’s second album, Sam’s Town; reminiscent of When You Were Young. But hey, if you’re enlisting The Boss, you’re going to want to make a loud impression, so sticking to a tried and tested formula might be sensible.

As is often the case with The Killers’ songs, Brandon Flowers’ wit as a wordsmith is called upon with excellent effect. The lyrics are abstract but powerfully induce imagery, and are complimented by the vocal performances of Flowers and Springsteen.

Springsteen’s voice never fails to bring grit and sincerity to any record, adding clout to what is definitely a Killers song. His husky tones perfectly paint over Flowers’s more refined vocals. Dustland is a certain hit!


Categorized as Indie, rock

Track Review: IDLES – Sodium

IDLES lend their polarising expertise to the newly released Dark Knights: Death Metal soundtrack. Death metal, this song ain’t – but it’s about as cheery.

Accompanying a critically acclaimed album or two comes a level of expectation. That expectation is to not leave the listener contemplating suicide by the end of a single track. With that said, there’s an underlying hook and strong vocal performance amongst the repugnant pretence, and it’s intriguing. Unfortunately, Nine Inch Nails pull off this low-fi style far better than IDLES.

A deluge of pain and ominousness seeps through the track; it’s unsettling, and evokes a sense of someone watching you. This is likely the desired effect so, in a sense, the track is a success – it just won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.


Categorized as rock

Track Review: Less Than Jake – Need Some Shaking

Now well into their forties, Less Than Jake continue to pump out ska punk like it’s going out of fashion – let’s face it, the genre hasn’t been on-trend for over two decades now! With that said, the band’s staying power is admirable, and they remain a millennial ska punk flagship.

Teetering on the edge of mainstream success in the early noughties, Less Than Jake might now be less than young, but they can still rock a youthful sounding track. Unlike fellow ska punk diluters, Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish, Less than Jake were one of few bands whose unique selling point was strictly ska punk; they didn’t just dabble, they owned it.

Need Some Shaking doesn’t stand on ceremony. Hurtling straight in with horns, before frantically embarking on a vocally staccato verse, the start of the song is best described as unhinged. However, this lack of containment is soon resolved by an enjoyable and memorable chorus.

Sharing the vocal duties to meet the needs of the song has always been a forte of Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima. DeMakes’s spikey sound in the verse compliments Lima’s melodic, nasally notes perfectly. Need Some Shaking is amongst the best example of this selfless ‘for the music’ ethos.

And then, before you know it, the track is over. Perhaps the track length – 2 minutes and 33 seconds – is long enough? Somehow, it would be reasonable to assume that the average Less Than Jake fan would be grateful of an extra one minute. This is an offering that requires a couple of listens before it’s appreciated; perhaps because of its short length?  

Need Some Shaking is a not revolution in Less Than Jake’s sound – it’s not even an evolution – but it is quality, nonetheless. Production values might have skyrocketed since the band’s inception, but their mantra of producing music for the marginalised has remained unscathed. Loyal fans of the band will find solace and nostalgic warmth in Need Some Shaking, and those new to the band will not recoil in disapproval.


Categorized as pop punk