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?


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Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC97caHUgKk

38. Weezer – Jacked Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOsRoY-na0

37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8wQcKrrhA

36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

https://soundcloud.com/sweet-white/genine-1

25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

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 on record The Dream Is Over. 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.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

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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.

8/10

-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

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Best Of: April 2016

A lookback at this month in music, listing the greatest albums and singles that April had to offer.

ALBUMS

5. Drake – Views

While it may go on a bit longer than necessary and hit a few dud notes in the process, the highlights of Drake’s fourth LP far outweigh these gripes and result in Views being another strong entry in the Toronto rapper’s discography.

[FULL REVIEW HERE E.T.A 3/05/2016]

4. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
Parquet Courts - Human Performance

One of the finest rock records of the year, Parquet Courts provide smart lyrics which, whilst not inherently political, make the listener think whilst simultaneously delivering entertaining raw and rugged music.

3. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack

It’s no coincidence that, five albums into their career, Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit have crafted their most mature album yet. While it doesn’t have as many anthems as previous records, the heartbreaking and emotional nature of Painting Of A Panic Attack is one that will resonate with you more than anything the band have ever released.

2. Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
Death Grips - Bottomless Pit

In traditional Death Grips fashion, Bottomless Pit was leaked in advance and thank god it was. Displaying the accessibility of The Money Store, the punk influences from Ex Military and the utter craziness of The Powers That B, the Sacramento act have one again resurrected to grace us with one of the most enjoyable listens of the year.

[FULL REVIEW HERE E.T.A 3/05/2016]

1. Weezer – Weezer (White Album)
12469508_10153200271817273_3330131475669335283_o

The callbacks, both lyrically and instrumentally, aren’t just brief bits of fan service, instead they’re reminders of what the band can do and will immediately top just a few seconds after you recognise them. The nerdiness is even more introverted, the romance even more anxious and fleshed out than before, and the grunge pop sound even more satisfying. You can shout it from the rooftops: Weezer are back and better than ever.

[FULL REVIEW HERE]

SONGS

5. Holy Fuck – Xed Eyes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peG6ZeBk_BE

4. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony

3. Skepta – Man

2. Moose Blood – Honey

1. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You Then I Will

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IM472k0Md8

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