Woes & The Future of Scottish Pop Punk

By Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

The uprising has begun. Gathering UK wide attention and supporting the biggest band in the scene, Woes are the front men for this new breed of Scottish pop-punk.

Before their massive opening spot on Neck Deep’s Peace and the Panic tour, I was sitting in a tour van, drinking cheap vodka with two of the members of Edinburgh band Woes. I sat down with the guys and we had a chat about all things pop-punk and where they fall into the grand scale of things.

The guys have achieved so much in the past year and have almost created a scene within the country. Their self titled EP has done wonders, and with latest single Losing Time circulating around fans of the genre, they are only set to rise.

With the new EP set to be released very soon (the band assure me) they are undoubtedly looking to progress further. Singer DJ speaks very openly about this, with an almost go big or go home attitude towards it.

“We can’t stay the same, we have to move forward. If we aren’t moving forward there is no point.  To pretend that anything other than a move up the ladder would be considered anything other than a disappointment, well that’s just a lie”

It’s no lie that the pop-punk scene in Scotland is rubbish. Yet, there are always packed out crowds of thousands of fans at gigs. What is the reason for this? Sean (bass, vocals) speaks on this, saying there is a lack of bands in the country, which leads onto a lack of competition. The lack of pop-punk bands in Scotland is shocking. Many fans wouldn’t even be able to name one band from the country, and this is a huge problem. The genre itself is something huge in Scotland, and a favourite of many fans of the alt-scene (myself included).

“Competition is never a bad thing, it means bands are always trying to be the best in the local scene, something I feel Scotland lacks”

But the future of our scene looks hopeful, especially with Woes leading the way. They talk about the future very positively, and see a bright future ahead. They hope for more bands, and more fans to jump on the bandwagon, and say all that is needed is a number one album from heavyweights Neck Deep to set the UK scene alight. With the band being the opener for the biggest band in the UK scene, it looks hopeful for Scotland as well and the atmosphere during the bands immense set in the O2 Academy was just proof.

The scene in general is at an ultimate high. Bands are playing the biggest shows they ever have. Lots of small bands are gaining fans all over the world and listens for the genre are through the roof. We are in what DJ described to us as a “resurgence” moment for the genre.

“We had the resurgence in 2006 with the likes of Four Year Strong and that’s when we picked up again. There was a small break but now we are at a good point. Bands like The Story So Far and Real Friends lead the way, even Neck Deep have played a huge role in re-popularising the genre”

When asked about how it was getting noticed, both members again had slightly differing opinions. The band have worked heavily with producer Seb Barlow (Neck Deep, Roam) and recorded their first EP with him. With him being the brother of the biggest name in UK Pop Punk, Ben Barlow (Neck Deep) it’s obviously been a huge helping for the band, as DJ explained.

“I feel if it wasn’t for us going down to England and working with Seb and getting his support and support from the Neck Deep guys, we wouldn’t be on this tour and wouldn’t be doing this well”

And with the band being from Scotland, we have already covered how rubbish the scene is up here. But can you really blame not being noticed on your location? Sean thinks not.

“We as a band have worked really fucking hard to be where we are. The time and effort we put in is unreal, and yeah we have received help and given unreal opportunities. But would we have gotten these by not working hard? Absolutely not, I believe that”

With the band on the Neck Deep tour and an EP round the corner they, truly doing great things for our amazing scene. They can capture a crowd and their unique live show is enough to grab the attention of any pop-punk fan. I mean, who doesn’t love a cover of All Star at a gig? Be sure to jump on the Woes band wagon early, you will 100% regret not in the future.

Top 25 Albums Of 2015

It’s time.

List season. It’s odd how something with such a boring name could cause heated debate amongst many, though that’s nothing new for the internet. So as I’ve always done since 2013, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite albums of the past 12 months, ranging from heavy rock to pop to grime to rap, there’ll no doubt be something here for you. Disagree with me? Well you could always contribute to my Best of 2015 post which is coming next Thursday, just message me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be sorted!

I hope you enjoy this list which took far too much time to make than I’m proud to admit. So put the pitchforks down for now and let’s dive in.

25. At. Long. Last. ASAP – A$AP Rocky

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Following up his 2013 debut Long Live ASAP, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky gets even more experimental on this sophomore album. While there’s significantly less chart gems present than his last outing, the same charm and production value can be felt on every track.

 

24. Purpose – Justin Bieber

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Time for all those awfully spelt insults and memes we made about biebs to disappear. He is back and with a totally transformed sound as those who once slated him are now praising him as tracks like Sorry are pop perfection. While his vocals might be a bit lackluster and too safe, the influence Kanye, Skrillex and co. have had on the lad has paid off.

23. Back On Top – The Front Bottoms

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While Talon Of The Hawk felt like a AAA version of The Front Bottoms’ self loathing lyric fueled sound, Back On Top feels like the beginning of a new chapter for the band. Historic Cemetery just screams Weezer and other tracks like Cough It Out are as catchy as a cold (albeit more enjoyable). A near flawless amalgamation of emo & pop-punk.

22. Every Open Eye – CHVRCHES 

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There’s no denying that CHVRCHES are one of the best new bands to come out in quite a while, breathing new life into the synth pop genre and yet again reiterating how vibrant the Glasgow music scene is. Every Open Eye is like the Empire Strikes Back for the band: more gritty, more epic but faithful to what made the band what they are.

21. For All My Sisters – The Cribs

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West Yorkshire band The Cribs might have hit out with their best album yet, full of the indie punk greatness that put them on the radar in the first place. See Pink Snow for a chaotic crescendo closer that results in another classic album for the band’s discography.

 

20. Currents – Tame Impala

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Despite constantly being compared to the likes of Radiohead for their album rock genius, Tame Impala somehow manage to merge frontman Kevin Parker’s uncontrollable love of pop and their trademark psychedelic sound to craft something truly special. A breakup album disguised as a feel good, funky gem, Currents is only as good as the sum of its parts and those parts are undeniably brilliant.

19. Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett

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Courtney Barnett has proved time and time again why she deserves to be put on a pedestal, despite what she might say on Pedestrian At Best. Sometimes I Sit.. has an unprecedented charm to it and is insanely listenable. Absolutely exceptional.

 

 

18. Art Angels – Grimes

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As abnormally appealing as they come, Grimes returns with a record which is far more pop orientated than anything she’s ever made before yet it still retains all her trademark characteristics. California is a radio friendly hit that never verges into sell-out territory. She may have scrapped an entire album before this but when the replacement sounds this good, we’re not losing any sleep.

17. Cherry Bomb – Tyler The Creator

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While the ever controversial Tyler may have had a bad 2015 (OFWGKTA is no more, fall out with best pal Earl Sweatshirt, banned from UK), he can end the year knowing his latest album is arguably his best yet. A Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, Cherry Bomb fuses Tyler’s influencers (N.E.R.D, Stevie Wonder) and his own own dubious rap style to make a distorted masterpiece.

16. Another One – Mac DeMarco

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It really is testament to how talented Mac DeMarco is that a mini album manages to stand above full LPs. In his own words, Another One is about “different kinds of facets of being in love, being out of love, wanting love, not wanting love”. This concept never grows tiresome over the record’s eight track length and further refines his already sublime laid back sound.

15. Happy People – Peace 

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Peace know what they are: floppy haired indie royalty, just like Arctic Monkeys before them. They’re not ashamed of this in the slightest though as they embrace this wholeheartedly. Happy People has exactly what you’d expect from the guys who brought you bloodshake as well as some even heavier tracks like I’m A Girl, showing the band are still as capable as ever to fire out some more indie-rock gems.

14. What Went Down – Foals

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It’s hard to recall an album this year that has managed to balance balls to the wall heavy rock and cordial little tracks all on the one LP. Foals have proven yet again that it’s not in their DNA to make a bad album.

 

13. Are You Satisfied – Slaves

81rIWd69XNL._SL1417_The debut album is often a record which most bands would play it safe on to be more approachable by the public. This isn’t the case for Kent punk duo Slaves who showcase their silliness on Feed The Mantaray while also trying to get their message across of “doing something with your lives” to listeners. Regardless if they succeed in doing so, the boys manage to stand out from every two piece band around at the moment, no small feat at all.

12. The Mindsweep – Enter Shikari

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2015 was undoubtedly one of the most important years for UK politics and no band knows and represents this better than Enter Shikari. From the feedback heavy track Anaesthetist dealing with the privatisation of the NHS to the unsubtly commentary on the corruption of bankers on Bank Of England, the band make their voice well and truly heard and it’s never sounded so good.

11. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late – Drake

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For a man who is worth millions, if not billions, Drake’s latest album is surprisingly minimalistic in comparison to other rapper’s records. However, this surprise release benefits from this, managing to hit out with the anthems you’d expect from Drizzy while managing to be retrospective. A man that can’t be stopped.

 

10. Too – FIDLAR

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Los Angeles band FIDLAR love drugs (despite just getting out of rehab), drinking and self loathing. They lay all their cards out on the table so that they and the listeners can get down to business and have a good time. Wouldn’t you know it, they do exactly that. Heavily inspired by the 90’s teen angst bands like blink-182, Too is a 42 minute record that is all about having fun and provides just that. Simple yet amazing.

9. My Love Is Cool – Wolf Alice

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Is it any surprise that Wolf Alice are the biggest new act of 2015? The band have built up a hype hurricane since their very first EP which hasn’t been helped by the likes of NME naming them a “band that will change your life” and being nominated for multiple awards. Thankfully this hasn’t derailed the band who deliver a record bursting with heart and grunge-lite sound. One of the greatest debuts of the past decade.

8. Life’s Not Out To Get You – Neck Deep

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Pop punk has had its own sort of renaissance this year with Knuckle Puck mixing the emo sound of American Football with the appeal a genre like this brings. Neck Deep have filled the converse of blink-182 with an album that is full of the same polish and emotion as Enema Of The State. A band that are worth keeping your eye on.

7. Positive Songs For Negative People – Frank Turner

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You’ll struggle to find a solo artist with the same raw passion as Frank Turner. After constructing a record about heartbreak that was enough to make the toughest person feel second hand remorse, PSFNP does exactly what it says on the tin. Any self professed cynic will find themselves drawn in by the snarling guitars and folk rock genius of certain tracks, showing that Frank is arguably the most talented Turner in the business.

6. The Powers That B – Death Grips

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Sacramento experimental hip hop band Death Grips are…weird to say the least. This statement proves to be the most true when listening to Jenny Death, the second half of TPTB, which came out of fucking nowhere in traditional Death Grips fashion. It serves as a reminder to why many fell in love with the band: pure uncut anarchy with the staple MC Ride delivery. Although it isn’t as tremendous as The Money Store, it’s the perfect combination of rap and rock, especially on tracks like On GP.

5. Integrity > – JME

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Just like pop punk, Grime witnessed a second wind this year, solidified by artists like Skepta breaking into the charts and a flamethrower extravaganza at the Brits when many artists from the genre joined Kanye on stage. While it may not have topped charts, JME’s latest record is the best record in the genre since Boy In Da Corner. Independently released, JME preaches about keyboard warriors, veganism and his disinterest in others opinions. Over the 16 tracks and countless video game references, it’s painfully clear that JME is loving what he’s doing, not having to answer to a boss and in the process he’s stumbled upon one of the most refreshing albums of the year.

4. Get To Heaven – Everything Everything

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Bare with me here. Yes, if you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever enjoy an Everything Everything album I would probably have laughed you off. However, the Manchester act aren’t regarded as genre defying for nothing and their latest release is proof of that. Full to the brim with infectious pop and insanely danceable tracks, Get To Heaven is unlike anything to come out this year. It has political commentary so well hidden by its 60’s beats and weirdly catchy alarm clock samples that even if they were stripped away, the album as a whole would still stand on its own. Imaginative and unique, Get To Heaven can be three genres at once but still be described with one word: exhilarating.

3. That’s The Spirit – Bring Me The Horizon

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After a brutal history with the drug Ketamine, Oli Sykes says he came out of Rehab feeling like he didn’t want to scream anymore, he wanted to “sing from the fucking rooftops”. Just as Sykes overcame his addiction, so to have Bring Me The Horizon overcame the troubles that most bands face when changing their sound. Although hardcore fans who have been there since their metalcore days may be disappointed about the transition, there is no denying the layered and evolved synths and atmosphere that come in hand with them are on an such a level of quality that it’s hard to think of a band that does it as well as them. Without a doubt, the best rock album of 2015.

2. In Colour – Jamie XX

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It’s hard to fault Jamie Smith when it comes to his skills as a producer. Many felt like working with The XX was limiting his range, musically, and whilst members of the band make appearances throughout, In Colour not only stands on its own two legs, it stands out as an absolute juggernaut of a record. The brilliant thing about In Colour is how difficult it is to pigeon hole. It’s been described by some reviewers as a rave album and some tracks like the aforementioned Gosh could imply that it is such an album. However each track can be interpreted in so many and the term “electronic” is so vague that it’s almost insulting. Whether you think it’s a rave album, a techno one or even a semi reggae one for some reason, you’re both right and wrong. One thing is for sure though and that’s that you’ll definitely be in the latter if you decide to give this album a skip.

 

And the best album of the year is…

To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

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What else was it going to be? Let’s all confess for a minute: we were all worried. How on earth could Kendrick Lamar top the move-esque masterpiece that was Good Kid m.A.A.d city? We were anxious as fuck but once To Pimp A Butterfly dropped out of nowhere, all those worries were laid to rest.

Criticise me if you wish but Lamar is the new king of rap as his scope reaches a ginormous scale you’d expect from a firearm. Showing the rage of Kanye (Blacker The Berry), romantic nature of Drake (Complexion) and the unpredictableness that only Lamar himself can provide, TPAB could have been a lame, safe follow up. Instead it tackles integrated racism in America, staying true to yourself by turning down stardom and…talking to Tupac. Seriously though, Kendrick is a man who knows where he stands in the music world. He knows he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and he uses this position for good, asking for gangs to reconcile, calling out rappers for being shams and telling the listener to love themselves.

There’s not much I can say about To Pimp A Butterfly that hasn’t been said already but what I can say is this: it’s not only the best album of 2015, it’s arguably the best album to come out this century.

Big love, Liam x

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