[REVIEW] Trophy Jump – haphazard, MARCH 29TH

Croatian quintet, Trophy Jump, are about to release their upcoming EP, haphazard on March 29th that’s teasing an overall nostalgic vibe, toying with convivial senses. Growing as a band since formation in 2014, haphazard displays a combination of wistful tones characterised by their influences such as Rancid and NOFX in a contemporary mannerisms of the current punk rock scene.

Kicking off the album with Comfort Zone, the perky and light melodic nature is captivating, lyrically infectious and heavy on the bass. The short run-time of the track is teasing, leaving more to be desired, but quickly moving into the next track, Not That Kind Of Guy. The most appealing aspect of Trophy Jump’s haphazard is it’s lively chords, complimented by a sturdy, bouncy bass line that steals the spotlight. It’s a well-rounded installment for Trophy Jump, offering upbeat and nearly nostalgic tones representative of when the scene exploded on social media back in 2009. Chicago Kid, one of two of the longer running tracks of the EP, is by far a favourite. Experimenting with melodies and harmonies, it moves in linear motion with fluidity and providing more insight to the chemistry and talents of each instrument. It really does give the EP more depth, playing with different resonances in well-constructed verses. Taking this progression into the next track, Trophy Jump feels like an entirely different composition by the time you read the end of the EP, establishing themselves in their sound and dominating their talents. Remete Hills ends their installment, verifying their dynamic configuration.

haphazard is currently available to preorder via Horn and Hoof Records, Croatia’s JeboTon and Punk & Disorderly Records. Due for release on March 29th, the EP was recorded, mixed and mastered with Dominik Kisić, and the design art by Korana Jelovac.

pop punk

[REVIEW] Belgium based progressive-rock band RAKETKANON – RKTKN#3

The experimental and progressive rock group, Raketkanon are releasing their upcoming album, RKTKN#3 this April via Alcopop! Records. Hailing from Ghent, Belgium, Raketkanon are pushing boundaries within the scene, creating soundscapes and ambience alongside experimental approaches to a distorted-style guitar method. In a complete twist, Raketkanon include an invented language, adding mystery and intrigue to their music. RKTKN#3 brings a dark progression in their rock career, and with influences such as Tomahawk, Melvin and Thorns, Raketkanon makes experimental melodic, catchy and rife with synth.

The nine-track long album features some of their most empirical material yet. Momentarily caught up in a classic style of rock, into a dropped bass line distorted combatively, ‘Ricky’ opens the album with offense. Played like rolling waves, fluctuating fluently between chords, the developmental track captures their melodic and cadenced tempo in an alluring mixture of rock and roll and industrial.

‘Fons’ brings a metal-meets-industrial, accompanied by oscillated vocals, moving in tempo. Speaking about the album, vocalist Peter-Paul Devos says: “We don’t want to be just a metal band, or a hard-Rock band, we just want to make music that we think is beautiful and sincere. I think we managed to realise that on this project.” The interpretation approach of music has well and truly worked for Raketkanon on this album as they explore their instruments to their full potential, combining them in unorthodox ways to create a track that works so well bound together. ‘Melody’ is a perfect example of their enriching inspiration, perched upon a andante flow. Explaining the methodology behind their fictional dialect, Devos says: “but even with songs that have real lyrics, if you explain them it removes their power. If you limit that power I think it’s a shame for the listener, and you’re taking something away from them. Our music is more about the instinctive emotion that you feel when you listen to it.”

Encapsulating the beauty behind the interpretation, the next track ‘Hannibal’ translates machinery in a dystopian visage of anarchy. Plucking from adagietto-esque bridges, it flexes it’s punk muscles featuring cacophonous vocals. The album is barely linear, shifting in unconnected rhythm and sound. The unpredictability of the album offers a multitude of experiences with each track. Passing the midway point of RKTKN#3 it shifts into rhythmic rendition, with clean guitar picking and moving into darker avenues using slight changes of notes. As well as ‘Robin,’ sixth track ‘Lou’ starts slower in speed. The synthesizer truly takes the spotlight, adding ambience to reverberating basslines, moving the track into a combative state of distortion and unrelenting screams.

‘Harry’ brings along a fast-paced futuristic punk impression, using digitalized vocals to really push the boat out there. “Over the years, Lobe [Vlaeminck, synths] has explored the world of his instrument a lot more. The thing with the synthesizer as an instrument is that it has so many possibilities – if you play it right you can make a lot of amazing and magical things happen sonically.”

‘Ernest’ holds a much more classic feel, that of a Rob Zombie soundtrack of industrial rhythm. Wrapping up the album, Raketkanon fuels their melodic talents layering harmonic vocals atop the raucous drumming of Wilde, that really brings this album together. While the bass and synthesizer add to their progressive sound massively, the spotlight of the album well and truly gleams over the talent of drumming that’s visible in RKTKN#3. Closing with ‘Mido,’ Raketkanon ends this chapter in a perfectly sheathed soundscape.

RKTKN#3 is due for release on April 5th and will be available across streaming services. The band will also be hitting the UK to tour in May, bringing their enticing experience along with them.

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[REVIEW] HAPPY. – Cult Classic by Pauline Campbell

Happy., are a pop punk band from Columbia, South Carolina, who are aptly named regarding the vision they choose to portray with their music. At times, their work is bright and cheerful, akin to a Saturday afternoon in the summer; but there are points where the band touches on contrasting low points, which is reflected in the blunt period within their band name. A few weeks ago, they released their debut full length, Cult Classic.

How To Lose A Girl in 1:45 staples the tone for the rest of the record, starting with bright slowly paced luau music produced to sound as if it’s being broadcast on an old radio, and from there switching to a sound that is reminiscent of early Blink 182 if they were fronted by Charlie Simpson. A facet of this record that I enjoyed the most was the way that Happy. cohesively meshed together elements that if done by a less creatively articulate band, wouldn’t have worked. The lyrical content of Winona Ryder, with lyrics such as “Darkest of dens/Is where we will fit in/Don’t underestimate my capability/To be your favourite sin”, is deliciously reflected in the tasteful use of the bass guitar throughout the song. This is mixed in with a surf punk Agent Orange type sound, which gives the song a unique and agreeable character. Also, there’s a guitar solo in Drowners, that again should not work, but for some reason it does.

Don’t Overdose and Drive is pretty safe in sound compared to the rest of the album but is otherwise palatable and cohesive. The chorus has a certain snappy feel to it that I would place with faster songs in the genre, which is delightful to hear, and truly showcases the band’s promising composition skills. There are however, some low points on the record in terms of songwriting. I Call Shotgun is not the band’s finest minute; I felt the whole track was a little juvenile and dated. The vocal melodies lacked assertiveness, which I also noticed in Fishtank, and the dynamics between sections could have been better developed. Happy. have proved that they are more than capable of writing fitting vocal melodies, as seen in Drowners, and they do have a good grasp on dynamics in Where The Wild Things Are, which I feel is the strongest song on the record. Where The Wild Things Are is the track that made me interested in reviewing this album; the chorus is catchy and dark, with the perfect amount of grit for the band’s style. I am almost offended on the song’s behalf that it was placed last on the record.

For a band that is relatively new, Happy. have proved themselves to be worthy of their contemporaries. By combining contrasting styles and moods, Cult Classic stands as a striking debut album, that has a distinctive and enjoyable individuality not often seen in the initial efforts of most bands of the genre.

Keep up to date with Happy. via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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[REVIEW] ALKALINE TRIO release 9th studio album IS THIS THING CURSED?

While we’re happy for the legacy of Blink 182 to carry on its reign with Matt Skiba, Alkaline Trio have been sorely missed since 2013’s My Shame Is True but have now finally returned with a full length album. Is This Thing Cursed? dropped today via Epitaph Records. After conspiracies about Alkaline Trio no longer existing for frontman Skiba to tour and write with Blink, the album has come as a surprise to many. Despite ‘Blackbird’ and title track ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ releasing as singles prior to the album, the band has seemingly became a distant memory in the eyes of many fans, with people almost giving up hope of their return. Since their humble beginnings of goth aesthetic and hauntingly poetic lyrics, Alkaline Trio have almost fallen back to their roots with ominous ambience. If there’s one thing Alkaline Trio have always been good with, it’s the visual representations in their lyrics that push boundaries in an edgy, doleful sort of way.

Is This Thing Cursed? is comprised of 13 songs in total, and their charm of buoyant melancholy dominates the overall album. The attractiveness of Alkaline Trio predominantly comes from an almost tongue-in-cheek look at hopelessness, and ever since their 2005 goth aesthetic peak with Crimson the new album brings back a feeling of excitement. Whether it’s because Skiba’s adventure into a lighter, more publicised and known band intercepted what we thought we knew, or that the diverted attentions of band members and their side projects have brought a feeling of “is this just to keep their name alive?”, Alkaline Trio’s latest instalment is a reminder of their brilliance that engaged with us in the first place. Historically hung up with angst, bitter emotion and emblematic despondency, Is This Thing Cursed? feels closer to the From Here To Infirmary era, implementing near vintage sounds representative of early punk rock.

Aside from the two pre-release singles that admittedly holds the spotlight, one of the best tracks on the album is ‘Sweet Vampires’ consisting of corrugated riffs creating fierce and combative attitude. With such a portfolio of tracks, each plays and appeals in their own ways, for example, final track Krystalline is a heartsick love story in poetic fashion, holding onto perplexing undertones to give it that cut-throat edge. ‘Stay’ is another favourite, due to its moving fluency instrumentally that really compliments the vocal style. Andriano’s voice has been known to be hit or miss, with people often referring to it as monotone, but there are tracks throughout Alkaline Trio’s discography that enhances his tone, almost augmenting into something new, and ‘Stay’ is a track that does this incredible justice. The vocal switches balances the album immensely, such as ‘Heart Attack’ with Skiba’s unctuous chords telling morbid tales of adversity. It’s one of the best tracks to throw you back between 2001 – 2005 Trio, emphasising that horror goth decorative.

Is This Thing Cursed? is available now for streaming and to purchase on LP, although vinyl’s will be released later in October but are available to preorder here.

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