IDLES tackle everything from Brexit to gym lads on ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’

Aggressive, political and raw is perhaps the best way to describe UK punk rock five-piece IDLES’ sophomore album, Joy as an Act of Resistance. The follow up to their 2017 debut Brutalism defied all odds for a punk band in 2018, shooting straight to number five on the UK album charts.

Opening with the raw and anthemic Colossus, the album really starts as it means to go on. Huge drum beats accompany the dirty, slow riff while the almost 50/50 blend of screaming and melodic vocals from singer Joe Talbot take centre stage. The repeated lyrics of “it goes and it goes and it goes” create an eery and intimidating listen throughout the whole track, making it a strange but equally enjoyable first listen. The track then slows right down, before launching right into a heavy riff and changing tempo to a much faster feel. The track encapsulates what this album is about, and sets the mood perfectly from the get-go.


The songwriting displayed on the tracks throughout this album is perhaps what makes it stick out. Poking fun at all aspects of life in modern Britain, the topics tackled by IDLES on this record range from ‘gym lads’ to politics and Brexit.

Never Fight A Man with a Perm is the second track on the record, and perhaps one of the best on the whole album. It’s the lyrics that particularly stand out on this one. Poking fun at those lads obsessed with the gym and going clubbing to pinch girls’ arses, Talbot sings “You look like a walking thyroid / You’re not a man, you’re a gland / You’re one big neck with sausage hands / You are a Topshop tyrant / Even your haircut’s violent / You look like you’re from Love Island”. 

The album continues to produce great tracks as it goes on. The brilliant chorus of Danny Nedelko is a song worthy of fans to mosh along to at gigs. The track is a strong punk track with a deep, political theme: immigrants. Written about a good friend of the group who is a Ukranian immigrant, the opening lyrics of “My blood brother is an immigrant / A beautiful immigrant” set the mood for the rest of the track. This is precisely what the band, and the spirit of punk, is all about: giving a big ‘fuck you’ to the system.

It’s safe to say the songwriting and vocal style are among the biggest reasons this album has achieved so much. Samaritans deals with toxic masculinity while Great looks at Brexit and scoffs at some of the more irrational reasons people may have for voting. Lyrics such as “Islam didn’t eat your hamster” and “wombic charm of the union jack, as he cries over the price of a bacon bap” work perfectly in this song. They are funny, while also showing how silly this whole Brexit nonsense is.

IDLES have done superbly in this album. While the instrumentation is perhaps not as strong as other records out there and the style is not for everyone, the meaning behind the tracks is what makes it great. This album has soared to number five in the charts and allowed the Bristol punk rock outfit to play massive sold out shows all over the UK. It’s safe to say they are going to continue to do so. – gregor farquharson (@grgratlntc_)

rating 7

Parquet Courts get “woke” on their latest LP ‘Wide Awake’

words fae Ewan Blacklaw (@EwanBlacklaw)rating 9

Wide Awake is the sixth full-length studio album from the unique voices of modern punk, Parquet Courts. This newest release shows that the band have by no means run out of ideas, and continue to improve on their already impressive track record. Ever since bursting on to the alt-rock scene in 2012 with Light Up Gold, the native Texan band have been releasing a pretty consistent stream of great records, apart from a couple of stranger moments such as 2015’s Monastic Living or their more recent collaboration with Daniele Luppi. Apart from these blips in the band’s discography, Parquet Courts have produced some of the standout indie rock albums of the past few years, hitting out with a sound that no other band is currently bringing to the scene. The combination of the guitar-based stoner garage rock and the abstract song writing from the minds of Andrew Savage and Austin Brown has seen the band gain critical acclaim over the years, with much anticipation for each of their past few releases.

Since moving to Brooklyn and being signed to Rough Trade, the sound of Parquet Courts seems to have evolved from their Texan origins. On their last record, Human Performance, there seemed to be more slow moments contemplating different subject matter, showing personal growth from within the group as well as a habit of switching up musical stylings between albums. This growth has continued, and with Wide Awake they have yet again switched up their style.

While the new sound is definitely not a massive change for fans of their older material, it brings a fresh new approach to the unique sound they’ve built on so far. The new album is often driven mainly by the drums and bass, rather than by the catchy guitar hooks like on some of their earlier work. This is not to say that the album isn’t guitar heavy, as some of the most punk-influenced tracks from Parquet Courts can be found on this record. Tracks such as Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience, Normalization and NYC Observation take clear influence from 80s punk, particularly the New York scene, which makes sense considering the new setting for the band.

Wide Awake is also the most focused and concise project from Parquet Courts to date, with fewer rambling tracks that sometimes feel as if they overstay their welcome on some of the bands older albums. The subject matter and lyrics also feel like this, with less personal, small-minded issues being discussed; instead, it features more punk-influenced social commentary. The commentary doesn’t come across as whining and complaining or preaching to the listener, but rather feels like a discussion that doesn’t treat you like an idiot. The opening two tracks speak on American issues, setting the pace for the rest of the album. Topics such as national identity and gun control are touched upon in a very Parquet Courts way, infusing witty anecdotes and pop culture references to form great tracks.

In the past, some of the songwriting felt reminiscent of bands such as Pavement, but could occasionally come off as random. On this record, though, it feels that Savage and Brown have reached a new high point with their lyrics, and have found their true identity as musicians. In particular, Andrew Savage seems to take the lead on the record with his signature style but has started to decode some of his cryptic lyrical habits in order to speak out on issues, which gives the album more of a sense of purpose.

To contrast with the punk side of the album, there is also a distinct feature of funk and soul that feature more prominently than any other Parquet Courts album. Numbers like Tenderness and title track Wide Awake bring a completely new dimension to their music, which feels like yet another advancement for the band. This new side hasn’t been seen on any of the previous albums, at least not to this extent, and it really does work incredibly well. The new ‘punk and fun’ approach has allowed Parquet Courts to create their most in-depth album yet.

The commentary offered on the current state of the USA feels like a breath of fresh air to the music world, just when it seemed that it kept getting worse. The punk spirit of the album is as prominent as Andrew Savage’s brilliant songwriting and the infatuating instrumentals from the rest of the band that are about as catchy as any other album in 2018 so far. The album really doesn’t have a dull moment, which has been an issue on some of the earlier releases from the band, showing that the band just keeps on improving. Parquet Courts continue their growth and continue to impress with the latest and greatest addition to their discography.

The Garden continue to search for the perfect balance on latest LP ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’

by ewan blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw)rating 6

The Garden, two twins from Orange County, California, have to be one of the most unique musical acts performing today. In the past, they have made an album of very quick, basic and catchy punk rock songs and created their own genre that they have titled ‘Vada Vada’. On their previous album haha, the duo took a different approach to their music that featured more synths and drum machines, adding a new dimension to their songs which had previously been largely just bass guitar and drums. Whilst the simple approach was catchy, it did not provide much substance; however, on haha it paid off and resulted in one of the most interesting albums of 2015.

Since then, The Garden have been releasing strange singles as well as an EP titled U Want The Scoop? which, for the most part, sees them take on the persona of jesters. This is reflected in much of the single artwork and music videos, as well as their ever-evolving sound which seems to become more theatrical with each release. These releases built up anticipation to see what direction their next record would take. In short, they have followed the over-the-top and theatrical direction and seem to be continuing to play the role of jesters. The experimental and unique tone of haha does shine through every so often and reminds the listener of the musical talent and potential possessed by the twins, as well as the occasional punk moment crashing through the theatrics, such as the second half of the track ‘😦‘ which sounds like a weird Black Flag cover.

Lead singer Wyatt Shears is known for having a very animated vocal style, fairly uncommon in other music releases in recent years. It’s not for everyone – at times, it can become a bit tiresome and overly cartoon sounding like on Bad News, but this is nothing new for a Garden track. Those who have listened previously will be acquainted with the style and will have decided if it is for them or not. On Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, the vocal performances are at their most animated and can range from sounding great to overly-animated whiny shouting, which is one of the inconsistencies heard throughout their albums. The same could be said for the lyrics, which can blend in with the quirky instrumentals but do sometimes come off as ridiculous and over-the-top.

This album is also the most electronic of their releases so far, with songs like Banana Peel and A Message For Myself featuring electronic beats that sound inspired by drum & bass. While the combination of genres is great to hear and has been executed in a new and interesting way, there are moments on this album where it begins to sound excessive and overly indulgent. A prime example of this is the first half of “😦“ where some of the puerile sound effects are comparable to silly keyboard effects used in high school music classes to annoy teachers; this is where these effects should be left. Sometimes, though, the addition of synths and other electronic sounds can create a more atmospheric and moody tone like on Make a Wish or Shameless Shadow, in which the electronic sounds and synths add another dimension to the song rather than side-tracking the listener’s focus.

Some of the better moments off this album come from The Garden twins finding the right balance of old and new. Using their punk roots and experimental drive they can create some great songs that sound nothing like anything you’ll be able to find anywhere else. On opening track Stallion, The Garden put their spin on an old punk sound that works really well. They sound as though they are truly in their own genre of ‘Vada Vada’, where they have no contemporaries and embrace their differences to create unique music. This can be heard on tracks like Who Am I Going To Share All Of This Wine With and the closing track No Destination, which both use a punk-sounding aggressive baseline and the great drumming of Fletcher Shears and combine it with the more theatrical side of their personalities. These tracks also provide examples of where the lyrics and vocal performances reach their peak, such as the chorus of No Destination where the vocal effects perfectly complement the tone of the track, merging well with the instrumentals.

Mirror Might Steal Your Charm sees The Garden continue to push themselves out into unknown territory, risking losing fans of their old material and coming off as gimmicky. Luckily for them, their musical talent is enough reason to still listen to their music, but there are times where they can sound over-the-top and seem to focus on excessive weirdness rather than quality, as well as coming off as all over the place and lacking a cohesive structure. The albums often feels closer to being a collection of show tunes than the punk rock that got the band their start, however it is interesting to see where this direction will continue to push them and, indeed, if it is sustainable. Whilst this newest release may not strike a chord like haha did, there are still some good tracks and solid moments throughout the album. Hopefully with their next release, The Garden can hone in on the special moments from this album and search for the perfect balance.

EP Review: The Dunts – Not Working Is Class

By Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)rating 6

Glasgow is widely considered the musical epicentre of Scotland – and for good reason. Among the various heavyweight exports over the years, countless unsigned and emerging acts have amassed a reputation by playing across the eclectic mix of venues the city has to offer. Festivals such as the Tenement Trail offer these artists a valuable platform and, for others, an opportunity to discover new music. Speaking of which, one of this year’s featured acts The Dunts already boast a sizeable zealous following and are now vying to claim their own sonic territory amid the current wave of emerging indie/punk groups with their latest EP entitled Not Working Is Class, doubling up as a clever piece of wordplay and a concise summary of the contents within.

Booting open the doors and storming in all guns blazing, Tommy wastes absolutely no time in setting the tone for the rest of the EP. Channeling pure, unadulterated Ramones live energy into this highly charged opener, lead vocalist Rab Smith is accompanied by thrashing guitars and fervent drumming as he details a night gone south thanks to the (presumably) Buckfast-fuelled hedonistic exploits of the character in question who, it seems, has a bit of previous for disappearing inexplicably. As for the chances of an unlikely comeback? “As 10 o’clock approaches, the odds are looking slim“.

Lead single Coalition of Chaos, a renegade anthem for the country’s disaffected youth, explores the band’s own feelings of alienation and apathy as intimated by the EP’s title; here, Smith launches into a tirade about the grubby deals, political grandstanding and meaningless platitudes that characterise the current state of government in our country. In contrast to the blistering instrumentals of opener Tommy, here the guitar/bass sections ebb and flow: an effects-laden intro gives way to flickering verses and emphatic choruses.

Whether or not by design, a pervasive issue across all four tracks is the abrupt nature of the outros; perhaps even bordering on premature. Numbers like Coalition, a single with genuine potential, could benefit from a few extra seconds to further develop the melodies and arrive at a more satisfying conclusion. Although the band’s forte clearly lies in delivering incendiary short-fuse tunes around the sub-three-minute mark, a wider variety of outros would add greater depth to an otherwise solid set of tracks.

The Dunts have no qualms about laying bare their influences, particularly on Hampden Cabs where they channel indie and post-punk sensibilities via the likes of The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys in a return to the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ philosophy of the opening track. Smith laments being landed in a taxi with an unbearable travel companion (akin to the Charmless Man discussed at great length by Damon Albarn), delivering an amusing and typically caustic Glaswegian take on this most patterless of individuals.

Wrapping up proceedings is Dimitri, a chaotic yet surprisingly self-aware exploration of mind-altering substances. The state of flux between euphoria and paranoia is captured with Smith/McGachy’s rapid-fire guitar and McGhee’s anxious drumming patterns as doubts begin to set in: “everything is gone, like water through my fingers“. Compared to the rough and ready production on their debut EP Fried (no longer available on Spotify but potentially set for future re-release), Not Working Is Class still bears the hallmarks of a band in the process of experimentation; finding their own sound. They are, however, comfortably en route to cementing their status as purveyors of potent council punk among the city’s most talented up-and-coming artists as well as beginning to break ground down south.




PUP + TRASH BOAT @ QMU – 04/02/2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Seeing as both Canadian punk act PUP and British pop punkers Trash Boat had an amazing with 2016 with the release of The Dream Is Over and I Know That Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through respectively, it was a no-brainer that The Wonder Years would invite the two bands to join them on the European leg of their tour.

Having played in Glasgow before tonight, playing over in a different part of the city in the Garage attic, it was a rather big transition for Trash Boat to be playing in the Queen Margaret Union, in no small part due to the fact that they were performing in front of an audience four times the size of what they were last used to. That being said, you wouldn’t have thought that considering the performance the band put on last night.

With a debut album dropping just last year, it could have been so easy for the band to avoid tracks off their earlier discography but thankfully this wasn’t the case as Perspective off their Brainwork EP easily joined their recent energetic anthems How Selfish I Seem and Strangers. That’s not to say it was solely a braggadocious pop punk fest as there was variety on offer, especially when Brave Face made an appearance, undoubtedly the emotional core of the entire set with some touching lyrics to boot: not something you’d expect from a band who share their name with a cartoon reference. With many acts of their genre either trying to replicate what’s popular, Trash Boat are a shining example of doing what they want and god, they are good at it.

With their sophomore record The Dream Is Over being one of the most solid rock releases in recent memory, expectations were high for PUP especially after the rip-roaring success of their last performance in Glasgow over at King Tuts. Members of the crowd were not let down though as the act had full control of the audience with insanity and recklessness ensuing throughout the entire set, not a moment of calm to be found.

Every song played was adapted effortlessly from their respective records, each one being as hard hitting and ballistic as expected with hardcore gang singalongs and slick guitar riffs making a welcome appearance as well.

They definitely struck a chord, pun intended, with the audience as pits were continuous and it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see people throwing their shirts off whilst others crowd surfed above you. This was most apparent during Sleep In The Heat when frontman Stefan Babcock plunged the mic stand into the audience like he was forging a piece of armour and it was no real surprise when the equipment returned to him in tatters though thankfully he laughed it off.

Finishing off with the rather aptly named If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You and DVP, which Babcock played off as being one big song which isn’t a lie considering that they both flow into one another perfectly, reaching a chaotic climax where it seemed like the security were vastly outnumbered by all the fans flowing over the barrier. While I never got to stay around for The Wonder Years, it seemed like the energy on display with PUP continued into their set with a friend of mine even getting a piercing knocked out yet simultaneously loving every second of it. QMU served up all sorts different flavours of punk last night and all went down a treat, like a musical Neapolitan ice cream: who in their right mind is gonna say no to that?




TRACK REVIEW: Slaves – Spit It Out

Having stated that their upcoming LP titled Take Control would be “heavy and very different” to their debut, it’s no surprise how colossal Slaves sound on Spit It Out. Opening up with a broody and sinister guitar, the Kent duo don’t hesitate to turns thing up to 11 and deliver an instrumental clusterfuck that will no doubt orchestrate visceral scenes at their future gigs. While sound wise the track is very much what could have been expected from their earlier release Sugar Coated Bitter Truth, the lyrics on display are just as attention grabbing with their unapologetic, visceral nature. So far it feels like Slaves are playing things fairly safe but just like the band proved when they reached notoriety last year, they’re more than meets the eye. With Mike D of Beastie Boys fame professing that the world needs an album like Slave’s sophomore venture, it’s worth strapping yourself in on this messy, dirty hype train.

-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)





ALBUM REVIEW: Pup – The Dream Is Over

In the same way that it’s near impossible to find a Californian punk act who don’t sing about drugs, so to is difficult to talk about PUP’s sophomore album without falling into a cliche that every review has fell into by addressing this album’s title: after visiting a specialist, frontman Stefan Babcock was bluntly told “the dream is over” due to the fucked up condition his vocal chords were in. While this revelation may have torn the band apart, it wouldn’t be very punk to let this get to them and as a result, The Dream Is Over stands out as one of the most solid rock records of the year.

Sound wise, PUP are still as hard hitting and ballistic as ever with hardcore gang singalongs and slick guitar riffs adorning the majority of tracks on display here. Opening track ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ is the very definition of confessional and goes through an audio metamorphosis, starting off with a lone guitar and Babcock’s vocals before becoming a detailed tale of disgust and apathy that the band have had for one another due to their extensive touring. Lyrics like “every line, every goddamn syllable that you say makes me wanna gouge out my eyes with a power drill” helps to put this tension into perspective, almost making you wonder how on earth they managed to craft the next nine tracks.

However, unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

As the title of the album would imply, The Dream Is Over is very much about being rock bottom. The self deprecation that manifests the record is unrelenting and even the titles of some of the tracks like “My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier” helps hammer this home. There’s also songs like “The Coast” that are aware of this and try to learn from it with the lesson from it being that some things can’t be changed and we’re not to blame though the imagery of dead bodies under the ice isn’t any less haunting.

Although the band have stated that their name stands for “Pathetic Use Of Potential”, PUP have managed to build upon the strong foundations of their debut LP and hone all of their anger and punk influence into one of the most solid records of the year. In the band’s own words, The Dream Is Over is a “rowdy, noisy clusterfuck” and while it may hark to a low point in their personal lives, this visceral record highlights an act who, health warnings or not, are unstoppable.


-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)






Opening up with a riff loud and gnarly enough to melt your face off, NEWGIRLS have definitely made good on that potential they showed on their debut single earlier this year. It’s no surprise that the re-recorded Beanstalk is their most popular track yet as this is punk rock in its purest form, a rollercoaster ride that punches you in the face as it starts off and banshee screams as it reaches its climax.

Thankfully the song never gets so messy instrumentally that it’s hard to appreciate it as everything is balanced to a tee with the vocals from Arion Xenos wonderfully traversing the loud, brash guitars and drums that make the 3  minute track such a riot. A rebellious anthem that wears that its punk rock roots on its sleeves, NEWGIRLS are well deserving of their fearless reputation.




EP REVIEW: Fake Boyfriend – Mercy



Looking at the tags on  Fake Boyfriend’s bandcamp will tell you all you need to know about them before diving right into this punk rock rich release: existential crises, heartbreakers, heartbroken, and philly sad girls.

On Mercy, their first EP, it’s clear that they’ve hit all these tags quite well, most of all on the track Bumtown that decides to spend the first half of its running time to be tranquil and retrospective before breaking into a whirlwind in the latter half. “I need to learn how to be told ‘no,’” is screamed in unison by the band, reaching blisteringly loud volume levels with heartbroken aggression that overshadow the chugging guitars. It’s no surprise when you realise this was recorded alongside Jake Ewald, better known as the guitarist from equally heartbroken, sad romantics Modern Baseball.

It doesn’t mean that this is a girl band who are destined to sing solely about ex lovers though. In fact, at the Mercy EP release they stated that opening track Ship was about “the self-blame, shame, and confusion that comes after being sexually harassed… Despite what the fucking journalists say”, proving the band have something worth saying, or rather shouting about.

There are moments of calm on this release and they come on the appropriately smooth track Wax, a spellbinding and contemplative listen that serves as a reminder to the listener that they can easily transfer from finger licking good rock to sweet and humble pop and back again with ease.


Abi Reimold said that Fake Boyfriend’s music is a “retaliation against the preconceived notions of how women are supposed to behave and process emotions.” This is a fairly accurate statement as the tracks on offer here sound more like the band would rather use a spoon to knock you out than to stereotypically scoop some ice cream with it.

Alongside the fact that each member took up a different instrument than they were used to, something that could have easily become a gimmick but instead adds to the beautiful clunkiness of this EP, Fake Boyfriend seem to be drawing more of a comparison to Pussy Riot than the likes of Haim.

A band worth keeping an eye on.





TRACK REVIEW: Modern Baseball – Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind

Pennsylvanian emo, punk rock act  Modern Baseball showcase new material from their forthcoming album

Back in the 90’s, pop punk was fairly content in delivering jokes about fucking mums, getting drunk and farts, perfectly accompanying any and every party you could ever attend due to its catchiness and simplicity that made it accessible to pretty much everyone. After a while though, the same acts who made the genre what it is got sick of it and in turn  wanted to move on to better things: blink-182’s best album so happens to be their self titled release, their first non pop punk LP.

As the army of screaming teens will tell you though, pop punk isn’t dead and in fact has went through a sort of second wind. While we may have our goofy acts like blink-182, they are self aware to the fact that they are exactly that. With that comes another breed of acts who thrive on the loneliness, inner conflict and anxiety life throws at you: that’s where Modern Baseball come in.

Coming off the back of their well received sophomore record You’re Gonna Miss It All, Modern Baseball have spent 2015 recording their upcoming LP Holy Ghost, most likely listening to Weezer and crying in the process. Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind, released alongside Everyday to promote Holy Ghost, carries on the same tales of heartbreak that we’ve expected to see from the band and we find this out from the get go with a query about “did you ever love me” from a very forward Brendan Lukens.

Lasting just under two minutes, this track perfectly addresses trust or the lack thereof when it comes to relationships. In Lukens’ own words;

Trust is something every growing relationship needs. Without trust, all your conversations are just questions and doubts. I lost my best friend and partner, and didn’t know who to blame. “Apple” is a toast to looking at past mistakes as a chance to move forward.

Lines like “truth’s betrayal, I find it in the heat of the moment” paint the picture of this topic of trust being between Lukens and someone quite personal though it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for this to be him talking to himself like he did on The Waterboy Returns.

Modern Baseball (L-R): Sean Huber, Jake Ewald, Brendan Lukens and Ian Farmer

Lukens has never been afraid to discuss his battle with depression and certain bits on this song like “I wish I felt the same way I did then” hark back to Fine, Great off the band’s last LP where Lukens addressed that all his problems are based off what has happened to him in his past. On this track, it seems like Lukens and co. have endured their grief and denial and are now onto accepting the now.

With what has been provided so far, there will definitely be more than a few smiles.