Our 2018 favourites and downfalls and a brief glance at 2019.

With 2018 winding down into a close, we’re about to look over the last year and determine our favourite highlights including releases, concerts, moments and we’ll even look at the biggest disappointments of the year. So without further adieu, let’s get stuck in.

105800Top Release: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

This album was truly the most anticipated for release. With Skiba working with Blink 182 on the road and in the studio, the sense that Alkaline Trio was put on the back burner seemed to get truer the more that time went on. Many times band try to revisit their early days to major disappointment, but the Illinois punk trio delivered what we had all been waiting and hoping for since 2013. Pumping out sounds similar to 2000’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and 2001’s From Here To Infirmary came together so well for August’s Is This Thing Cursed? It was an absolute delight to end such a scorching hot UK Summer, with title track and ‘Krystaline’ standing out and becoming anthems for 2018.

CS708922-01A-BIGRunner Up: Architects – Holy Hell.

Since their last release in 2016 and the unfortunate passing of Tom Searle, Architects have faced some of the toughest decisions regarding the future of the band. The first release sat nicely at the end of 2017, but Holy Hell was delivered to us this year and is the best possible path that the band could have taken. Announcing their first UK arena tour beginning early 2019, Architects have pulled together with strength and passion for their music, delivering a raw emotional outburst in their latest release.

51sELLwLURL._SS500

Most Disappointing: The Story So Far – Proper Dose

This was a hard one to do, mostly because we’re huge fans of the Californian band that took our hearts in 2011. Under The Soil and Dirt has been a constant in our library, so deciding that Proper Dose was our most disappointing album of 2018 was not the easiest decision. Trust us, it was not easy. We can’t help but feel like Proper Dose was ultimately rushed, with little to no thought. Of course, it does have it’s strong points and while we’re deeming it to be the most disappointing, it’s not the worst. Proper Dose lacked a sense of unity for us, missing the relevancy that The Story So Far had captured so well with their earlier releases.

received_1653840768076100.jpeg

Best Show: The Used – Bristol, August.

After cancelling their tour earlier in the year due to personal issues, The Used returned a few months later to continue their UK tour and from the sunny shores of Cardiff, we traveled to Bristol to party with them. Regardless of their earlier tour of fan-favourite In Love And Death in full, The Used has never disappointed when it comes to putting on live performances. Politically fueled and with a passion for drama, they lit up that stage and in turn the crowd reciprocated.

bring-me-the-horizon-article-page-new

Runner Up: Bring Me The Horizon – Cardiff, November.

Now, Bring Me The Horizon has been a hit and miss when it comes to live shows for a very long time, but with their latest announcement of amo releasing in January, BMTH put on arena shows around the UK to remind us all why we started listening to them in the first place. Of course, a huge part of their show was from That’s The Spirit but it totally deserves the runner up position merely for their revisit to Count Your Blessings in a es-squaremash-up.

Second Runner Up: Enter Shikari – Tramshed, Cardiff.

We just can’t let this show slip by unnoticed. Enter Shikari have been on the rise ever since they took over the scene with Take To The Skies in 2006, and with their community expanding massively over the years, The Spark launched an entirely new phenomena that has put Enter Shikari so high on the best British alternative band list that it was downright silly to miss one of their shows. Remember in 2017, Take To The Skies turned 10 and they headlined Slam Dunk? Well, Tramshed lit up with an energy and community that has never really been experienced before. Not to mention, Rob Rolfe specifically said that Cardiff were definitely the more in tuned audience they had met. GG, Cardiff. It was one of the most fun shows we had the pleasure of experiencing, and we can only hope that Enter Shikari won’t leave it as long next time.

Most Disappointing: Bullet For My Valentine – Cardiff, November.

While we can’t argue that the line-up for BFMV’s tour was absolutely solid, the headlining act wasn’t the best of the year. Despite the warm fuzzy feeling that raged inside at the sound of The Poison tracks on their setlist, it was a concoction of disappointment throughout. A series of back-and-forth without keeping the vibe alive in the crowd, it was a roller-coaster of a show. Their latest release, Gravity hasn’t gained much appraisal since it’s release, and their show kind of proved it with more people caring about their older releases than supporting the entirety of the show. With that being said, we cannot deny how great it was to hear Hand Of Blood once again live on stage.

Best Song Release: Slipknot – All Out Life

Slipknot has been hyping up their newest material for a good while, reciting and proving that their revisiting their old school Iowa days. The album is said to be one of the darkest chapters in Slipknot’s history, and in interviews both Corey Taylor and Clown has repeatedly emphasized on the heaviness of the new album. Tracking for release in 2019, ‘All Out Life’ came as a surprise to fans while we weren’t expecting it – on Halloween. There are also rumours that this album could be their last, with Crahan reportedly saying how “I feel like this could be it for me,” when discussing the new album. All we know is that ‘All Out Life’ is one of the best tracks to come out of 2018, and with their album on track to be released next year alongside their headlining acts of Download festival, we cannot miss it for the world.

Runner Up: InFlames – I Am Above

The return of InFlames has been one of the best things to come out of 2018, alongside an announcement of the Swedish metal band returning to the shores of UK for select dates in April 2019. Their new track, ‘I Am Above’ is a concoction of heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, weighted bass and vocals that take InFlames out of their 2014 hit release of A Sense Of Purpose and we are ready to hear what we consider to be the biggest album to hit shelves in 2019.

Most Disappointing: Bring Me The Horizon ft Dani Filth – Wonderful Life

We’re totally prepared for the backlash that this may cause, but ‘Wonderful Life’ came after their first release of ‘MANTRA’ which blew us away entirely in BMTH’s new direction. ‘Wonderful Life’ had big boots to fill, and it failed. Written for the purpose of being a Limp Bizkit song, BMTH swooped in to take it for it’s own and we were left with what feels like an unfinished, weak product. It holds no resemblance to what made BMTH the band we had come to follow and love over the years, especially with poetic lyrics chucked to one side to compensate for a knife-edge. amo is set for release in January, and we’re hoping it can offer more than this new radio-get-up that BMTH has adapted to in recent months.

This year has seen Milestones break-up which tore at our heart strings, a new Breaking Benjamin album (which was SO close to getting it’s own place on this list) as well as a new A Perfect Circle album. We watched Bad Wolves take over the charts with their cover of ‘Zombie’ after the tragic news of Dolores O’Riordan’s death in January. We got a Static-X reunion and a 3/4 reformation of The Smashing Pumpkins.

So, with one day left before we hit the new year, here’s a quick summary of what we’re looking forward to the most in 2019. First off, we have Download Festival with headliners such as Slipknot, Slayer and TOOL. This is going to be an absolutely insane festival, with it being Slayers official last show, TOOL who we have been waiting on for years and potentially Slipknot’s final goodbye too. Parkway Drive in January also. Architects in Cardiff in January. We have Behemoth and InFlames playing Bristol in February and April (woo, road trip!). Album wise, another two quick mentions will be Slipknot and TOOL, as well as Bring Me The Horizon, Dream Theatre, Rammstein and Alter Bridge. And, of course, we cannot skip out on the new Slam Dunk Festival get-up since dropping Midlands from their dates, and with Bullet For My Valentine and All Time Low headlining, we could be looking at what could be the last year of a day festival before it moves to a weekender!

What were your highlights of 2018, and what are you most looking forward to in 2019?

 

 

 

music

[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.

41141807_711227712571587_972828144291545088_n

 

 

 

 

music pop punk

[REVIEW] The Dahmers – Creepiest Creep EP / Out Now via Lovely Records

Swedish rock and roll band, The Dahmers, take huge influence from garage pink, classic rock and 60’s pop – cultivating a sound that would appeal to the fans of bands such as Against Me!, Creeper and Misfits. Having their music described as a ‘Frankenstein’s monster’, The Dahmers bring a fresh take on the vast genre with catchy tunes replicating that of old-school punk and modern pop punk. Aesthetically, the band take inspiration from classic horror movies which migrates in their lyrical genius. Their latest EP, Creepiest Creep, takes their music with hints of frustration, solitude and alienation, all the while portrayed in a wonderfully mixed and well-thought chemistry of instruments.

spotify:album:0GUhbqOHlYkkrhfAkUdaR5

Released in April via Lovely Records, Creepiest Creep is the bands next instalment of success since their release of Demon on Farsot Records In 2014, which later got international release from their current record label. Leading track, ‘Creepiest Creep’ has a nostalgic, old-school feel with prominent riffs and booming drum and bass lines that bounce off each other to give the track such a weighted feeling. It’s a track of twists and turns, all the while holding a classic sense of rock and roll from the 60’s. The Dahmers bring a fresh new take on a nostalgic sound, and prove that they are a band that will continue to grow, and title track, ‘Creepiest Creep’ is a track that will no doubt follow them through their career as one of their best tracks to date. This mastered four-track EP shows their fluctuating influences, with ‘Reoccuring Dreams’ taking a heavier tone reflecting upon their punk undertones and origins. It’s a short track, but nonetheless ostentatious in sound, really pushing their boundaries in an energetic flurry. It continues into third track, ‘Without A Face,’ although The Dahmers bring in melodic guitar riffs to move the track along. The bass and drums deserves the biggest applause on this EP, giving the track such huge girth in it’s entirety. Vocally, The Dahmers are similar to current big-hit band, Creeper, and with final song ‘Kiss Of Dario,’ that statement becomes solidified. With fluent riffs to move the track through it’s stanza’s, ‘Kiss Of Dario’ moves in it’s cultivations, with their punk and rock roots shining through in different stages. The heavy tones mix wonderfully with their rock and roll guitar, and overall, Creepiest Creep is an outstanding upcoming EP, worthy of being EP of the year in their sub-genre.

Keep updated with The Dahmers on Facebook for more updates! 

Alternative

Slam Dunk SOUTH Experience [PART TWO] – Goldfinger, Frank Iero andthe Patience, Less Than Jake & Headliners Neck Deep, Enter Shikari, Against Me! –

After reeling in the happiness from meeting Matty and Dan from Zebrahead, we headed back to the Fireball stage (we spent most of our day here, to be honest!) to catch Goldfinger’s set. I’ve always loved Goldfinger, even if I never listened to albums in full, or even know the name of their albums. Back in the day, I used to – uh, oh, don’t arrest me – download music of the dreaded LimeWire and burn it onto disks. I first heard them on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater back in the day, and then later stumbled across the song on YouTube that sparked my love for the band. They’re a feel good, lively band, and I’m a sucker for that. Especially in the summer time!

Most of the ska/punk stage is full of jokes – you’ve got Zebrahead, as mentioned previously, Less Than Jake and Bowling For Soup. All bands that are notorious for crackin’ a few jokes and havin’ a good ol’ drink. If I was to say that Goldfinger also had a joke around on stage, I’m sure readers would get tired of me repeating myself. Like I said, we spent most of our time at this stage.

Now, everyone knows that John Fieldmann is a punk, rock, ska, you name it – he’s into a bit of everything and basically loves to work on music. He’s worked hard and has had a massive effect in today’s rock scene, helping produce music for The Used, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 (that’s just to name a few!) and even signed Itch from The King Blues, Blitz Kids and Beartooth. He’s a busy guy, but his passion lies in being the frontman for Goldfinger, and on stage, that passion really does shine. With bassist and vocalist Mike Herrera from MxPx, Story Of The Year guitarist, Phil Sneed and New Found Glory drummer Cyrus Bolooki, Goldfinger couldn’t be further than what it started as. But does that stop them getting the crowd pumped, screaming back each lyric of each song? Nope. They opened with ‘Spokesman,’ a well-known song that would appear on almost every Greatest Hits album that Goldfinger will ever release. But apart from playing classic hits the band previously released, a few days before Slam Dunk kicked off, they announced their upcoming new album and released the track ‘Put The Knife Away,’ and I’ll be totally honest – I never listened to it until I was in the crowd. For a song that had quite literally only been released, the crowd recieved it so well and kept their lively movements. Already knowing the lyrics to scream back, and in all honesty, the fact that the band were having such a good time playing made the crowd have a good time listening. Even the lesser known tracks were recieved well – because even though Goldfinger are an amazing band, it’s also the name and songs such as ‘Superman’ and their cover of ’99 Red Balloons’ are what attracts most people. It was nice seeing the crowds support for everything, and not just the songs they knew. Big up to the guys of Goldfinger! (By the way, they finished with ’99 Red Balloons’ and I’ve never seen such a party. Aweeesome!)

Reel Big Fish were up next on the Fireball stage. A band that changed the way that most people remember A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me,’ and a band that, quite rightly, the closest definition to ska in the modern day in mainstream media. But, being a loving girlfriend and already seeing every band that I wanted to so far, we journeyed across the campus to the Signature stage where Frank Iero andthe Patience were up. Now, Owen knows more about this band than I do. The best I can do is, hey, Frank Iero is that guitarist from My Chemical Romance, right? Besides, they were bringing part of the Reel Big Fish crew on stage for almost every set – Zebrahead, Goldfinger. I could probably get away with saying I saw some of them, at least.

(Video taken by Owen Jeffreys)

Frank Iero andthe Patience isn’t, how can I say this? Isn’t a band I would probably ever listen to outside of a music show. For some reason, the produced records I hear through speakers doesn’t really do anything for me, and most of the time I’ll skip the songs if they show up on my Spotify Daily Mix. But, I have seen Frank Iero andthe Patience twice this year. The first time with Taking Back Sunday and, in that live setting, I love it. He sounds so much better live. He’s energetic, he’s fun and when it’s live and right in front of you, you can feel that energy more than through a pair of speakers. It’s quite spectacular, really. Frank Iero andthe Patience is the first band that I pretty much know zilch from, yet as soon as he plays live, I’d be the first one to dance. It’s fair to say I won’t be buying his records, (he gets enough of Owen’s money!) but I would more than likely buy tickets to any show they do locally to me. I urge everyone, if they see Frank Iero’s name pop up for a local show, go and see them. Go and check them out at a festival because you will not be disappointed. I’ve previously reviewed Frank Iero andthe Patience, and it’s probably a lot similar to what I’m saying here, but Owen caught the full Slam Dunk set on the video below (whilst using my head as a tripod – y’know, team work makes the dream work.)

Now, I had a great time at Frank Iero andthe Patience set, but guess what? Time for Less Than Jake. I cannot tell you, how happy I was to be seeing Less Than Jake again. Seeing them with The Road To Warped Tour a few years a go, and then at the Students Union in Cardiff with Zebrahead (*again*) and Reel Big Fish, (perfect line-up, right?) I was buzzing. Before I went and snapped my femur in half, I was the first person diving into pits, jumping wildly in the crowds and skanking to every song I could. And all those movements were involuntry, it’s just the way LTJ makes you feel. So, the first time after having pins and rods stuck into my leg, I’m standing in the crowd waiting for my favourite band and, it was hardly much different. It was just as exciting, even being quite far at the back. For a band that’s name doesn’t come up all that often, the stage filled up more than it did before. LTJ definitely brought it in, making jokes that we [the crowd] had to pretend to like them so they could prove to their booking agent that they’re enjoyable. Chris DeMakes holding a “douche rag” – as he called it – in his back pocket and consistently making jokes about other bands like Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Also, side note, if you’re a big fan of MCR, LTJ said that they’d be returning in 2018 because they can’t afford their big houses anymore. Fingers crossed it is true, I’d die if I could hear ‘Give ‘Em Hell Kid’ live. But anyway, being older and obviously wanting to write about and experience the music rather than the atmosphere more nowadays (not voluntry, I’d still be pitting if it wasn’t for this gammy leg) but I actually enjoyed them for their talents and their skills. Roger Lima sounds so good live. It’s almost emotional listening to him sing ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short.’ I probably would have shed a tear if I wasn’t so set on screaming the words as loud as I could so they could hopefully hear me from the back. There is nothing else I can say about LTJ apart from positive things.

This is where my Slam Dunk experience goes a bit awol. I went to the show one-hundred-percent certain about where and who I was going to be seeing. I even circled the bands on our schedule and downloaded the app to be reminded 15 minutes before they were due to start. So, according to my plan, the headliner we were going to be seeing was… Neck Deep! I know, I know, it was the Take To The Skies ten year anniversary – but I had seen Enter Shikari twice before and, well, I hadn’t listened to them in a very long time. What else could I experience at their show? So, there we were, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Neck Deep while the entire crowd sings along to ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ when the music just cuts off and the boys jump on stage. Woo, they’re here! The first song they played was ‘Happy Judgement Day’ that was recently released for their upcoming album ‘The Peace and The Panic.’ It was obvious that they’d be plugging the album, since all their merch was for that album. Still, out of the two new singles, ‘Happy Judgement Day’ is my favourite so, hell yeah! Here’s the truth, I couldn’t get into it. The crowd seemed tired and just, too exhausted to be there. Sure, you could hear the voices, including my own shouting back, but the Monster Energy stage just sounded awful. I’ve heard plenty of things about Neck Deep being terrible live, and I couldn’t even give you an honest opinion because the sound was so unclear that I didn’t even know they were playing ‘Serpents’ until I heard Ben Barlow do his usual shouting thing. It wasn’t as epic as a headliner act should be, and it was a total disappointment. I love the band, I love their music and I listened to them the next day and still loved them. It’s just, for a band that does rely on atmosphere, the fogginess and unclarity of the stage’s sound didn’t help and did no justice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only myself that decided to switch out.

I stayed for awhile, I was hoping I’d get more into it and enjoy Neck Deep some more, but I never. Shame. So we left to catch a bit of Shikari, since I heard that the show they put on at Birmingham and Leeds was amazing. We got a burger and stood quite far to the side at the back. I was not disappointed. We arrived right at the best time. They played ‘Return To Energiser.’ Not my favourite Shikari song, but regardless, it sounded amazing, it felt amazing. The lights were out of the world and this was the kind of end Slam Dunk needed. I danced. I was so far back where people were sitting and standing. People are tired, blahblahblah. Nope, I was moving with the music, burger in hand, and as SOON as I heard the words “Ladies and Gentlemen” play from the stage, I freaked. I had two bites left of a cheeseburger, and I held onto it with dear life. (I wasn’t willing to throw away any part of a £7 cheeseburger even though it tasted vile.) I was jumping, and for a person who was complaining that her feet hurt, I couldn’t help it. It took me back years to when I loved Shikari. To when I first heard Take To The Skies. When I first fell in love with Jonny Sniper. There’s no words to describe their set – it was by far the best spectacle and I’m just sad that I didn’t manage to catch the whole thing. But what can ya do? All I can hope is to grab tickets to their next show and enjoy everything they have to offer. Being there has definitely made me love Shikari again, though. If not even more than I did when I was younger – I can’t stop listening to them.

We had already seen two headliners, why not catch part of another? After Jonny Sniper was finished and I had heartburn from going nuts whilst still digesting a burger, and then finishing it off after the song had finished, we decided to go catch a bit of the Against Me! set. Again, I’ve only heard the one or two songs and that’s when Owen will play them on guitar. They sound good, but I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to them. I only found out a few days prior about the singer, which is brave and intriguing and I wanted to see what this band were like as well as try and catch Thrash Unreal. That’s the only song I properly know, and even so, I just had to message Owen to make sure I got the name right. Shikari put me in the mood to end Slam Dunk right, so even thought I knew nothing of what they were playing, I was still groovin’ around and enjoying every last minute that I could. Seeing the band, seeing the singer do what she does best despite everything, I was amazed. I was amazed by the bravery that it must take to still put yourself out there like that. Earlier in the day, whilst checking out the merch stands, I noticed there was a book on the Aginst Me! stall titled ‘Tranny’ which I will be picking up as soon as I get the money. I don’t know the music, but being in that environment is enough to make me support them. And listening to a Spotify shuffled playlist of Against Me! is on my agenda.

And that’s it. After Against Me! we caught the end of Shikari with Rou climbing frames and giving Slam Dunk the send off it needed and it was done. Everyone leaving the campus to go back to normal life, and I was already dreading it. It was an emotional day, really. With current events and the fear that a lot of people had going into Slam Dunk – enough fear that people sold their tickets – it was amazing to see just how much the world of music can bring us together. We look out for each other. Someone falls in a pit and we pick them up. Someone isn’t looking so good, we help them out. There were many comments by bands made throughout the day, none of which I can remember enough to recite word for word. But it was the same anectode that I give you now, that music is our last place to come together and enjoy ourselves. And I think that’s what I took away from Slam Dunk the most, that living in fear is only ever going to stop you from living your life. If we stand together, even if it’s just at a festival, we make our world a nicer, safer and happier place – maybe only for a short amount of time. But it’s our place to forget what kind of world is on the outside.

Reflective, huh? I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience – and I’d like to see what you guys thought. Feel free to leave a comment, follow me, leave a like or just go about your life. I’m grateful you’re even here!

Twitter | Instagram| Facebook

All photos and videos in this article were taken and filmed by Owen Jeffreys, which can be checked out and followed by following these links: Instagram | YouTube 

 

music

Slam Dunk SOUTH Experience [PART ONE] – The Ataris, Zebrahead, Cute Is What We Aim For –

The forecast and prediction of rain was enough to not only put everyone in a panic of “what to wear” but also enough to make the expectations of the day lower. Waking up was hard, getting ready was hard. But, boring parts aside; we set off from Cardiff to Hatfield and was ready for a day full of music and fun. We just had to get past the cue first – which was the longest part of the day. People were already drinking and getting in to the party spirit, we were quite far back in the cue to get our wristbands. Thankfully, that cue moved quickly – it was going through bag checks that took something close to ten years.

FullSizeRender

(Original schedule for Slam Dunk!)

We got into Slam Dunk at some time after one, and already everyone was in a good mood and figuring out their schedules for the day. We went and got food, two cheesy chips and two bottles of Coke, was, wait how much?! Yep, £15. Total rip off for something that wasn’t even great, but that’s what festivals do. They know people are hungry and thirsty and being in a venue pretty far from everything, people would need to eat and drink on site. Expensive days ahead. After sorting out our stomachs to the relaxing music of Andrew McMahon, we headed down to the Fireball Stage to see The Ataris.

(The Ataris taken by Owen Jeffreys)

Now, this is the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing The Ataris. I missed them in Cardiff earlier on in the year, so I was excited, and even on the third day, so were they. They kicked off the set with In This Diary, and being the first band on the agenda for a lot of people, the crowd starting moving quickly. They were interactive and they were fun. The Ataris were the best band to choose to get the Fireball stage viewers set for the day, especially finishing up with their version of The Boys Of Summer. Do you know how long I’ve waited to scream those words at the top of my lungs? (Yeah, I know it’s a cover, but The Ataris does it better, okay?!) But it was obvious that Slam Dunk go-to party starters, Zebrahead were up next. Even though the t-shirts were bopping about in the crowd with their bottles and pints in hand, they were only just getting started. Zebrahead are known, if not famous in the scene for going hard at their shows. They are a tad predictable, using the same kind of theme as they did last year. (I say theme, but the theme is always drinking) but they get one of their crew members up, or Beer no.2 as they called him, on an inflatable boat to send right the way back to the soundboard and back again. Most people would slate a band for always doing the same thing, but it’s always fun with Zebrahead. The guy got three-quarters of the way down before a group of lads literally just carried him down and then back, handing him back to the crowd of hands to make the last stretch of his journey to the stage. But, people were too busy dancing to the hits Zebrahead were handing out, and he went crashing into the crowd. That’s right, screw you, Beer no.2!

ZH 16(Photo taken at Slam Dunk Midlands 2016 by Owen Jeffreys)

I’ve got to say, Slam Dunk tickets were bought as a gift for me from my boyfriend, Owen, so he let me have a say in a lot of the bands we got to see. For the third band, I decided Cute Is What We Aim For would be a swell idea. The last time in the UK was supporting Paramore in 2006, and at that time in my life, I was twelve years old and no one liked the same music as me. CIWWAF is a nostalgic band for me, the same as We The Kings, and I was crazy into the dudes with long hair covering most of their face, and I felt like I should honor my twelve year old self and take her to see the bands she used to be into. It was amazing to hear the Curse Of Curves and Sweet Talk 101 live on the Monster Energy Stage. I was sitting in a corner, having a breather and taking advantage of an empty place to sit, and I couldn’t help but dance as soon as I figured out what songs they were playing. It’s just a shame that I wasn’t into it as I used to be, and it was nostalgia making me dance rather than the excitement of being in front of the guys. Nevertheless, I really want this band to release new stuff to get back into. It felt like the nostalgia is what brought most of the people in the crowd to see them, because the hits would get an amazing reception. Being on the floor, all I could see was butts moving, but their lesser known songs got less butts moving, unless it was to get more alcohol or shield themselves from the rain that got a bit heavier. Wow, great reviewing here! I’m happy I got to see them regardless, and next stop, was Goldfinger.

We left the Monster Energy Stage before the set finished and decided to take the time before the next band to have a scan around merch from record labels. There were some great deals going on, a band shirt and a CD for £20, a lot of the sellers trying to push their sales as usual, but the best part. I stumbled upon Zebrahead’s Matty and Dan. I couldn’t tell you what stall they were doing a meet and greet at, because my head was spinning that oh my god I get to actually meet them this time. I got their album signed at Slam Dunk midlands last year, but as soon as I approached Matty, school-girl version of myself came out in full fan-girl mode.

“I’ve been to all your shows in Cardiff, and we saw your show in Birmingham last year too!” I said, bright-red and sweaty.

“Oh wow, even back in… Barfly?” He remembers Barfly! In my opinion, the best venue Cardiff ever had to offer. Of course I was there. Zebrahead are amazing now, but it was all so new back then that it was even better experience. “What’s your name?” Matty asked.

“I’m Jess,” he takes my hand to shake and tells me his name, in which I reply, like a complete stalker, “I know.” I’m not good at this… socialising stuff. We have a joke and he tells me he really appreciates my love and support for the band and hopes that I continue doing so before I ask if I can take a photo with him. He jokingly protests before delicately leaning in to my sweaty and broadly smiling face to get in a selfie. I give him a hug, and somehow, despite the amount of partying he’s done, he’s less sweaty than me. I almost feel bad putting my face on his clothes. We move on to see Dan. Now, Dan’s crazy on stage. He’s always lively, cocky and just a great laugh to watch. And he’s pretty much the same off stage, too. I tell him the same thing as I told Matty, but this time tell him I’ve got two of his guitar picks and bless his heart – he does try and find another one to give to me. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have one, but we get talking and my boyfriend shows him a picture from Slam Dunk Birmingham.

(Selfies of myself, Owen, Matty and Dan.)

“That’s such a rad photo! Can you please send it to me through my Facebook?” he asks Owen. “Send me some flaccid dick pics too, I want some of that,” and then proceeds to show us a “baby photo” of himself. Spoiler, it’s a photo of a baby in a crib with a 10″ hard-on. We laugh and we all complain about the signal strength Hatfield has to offer. None of us could connect to anything, even though our phones deceptively told us we had full signal. We move on to selfie taking, but this time Dan takes my phone and takes around thirty – yes, thirty photos of everything other than us. He takes pictures of the girl that just had selfies with him, and gets another selfie with her. He takes photos of Owen, and then photos of Owen’s crotch before finally passing the phone back and getting in a selfie with us. I ask him if he plans on catching Goldfinger, since they were going to be starting in the next five minutes, and we part ways. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more satisfied with meeting members of my favourite band before – Zebrahead are great guys on and off stage, and yes, Matty, I will support and love the band like the fan-girl I am, forever.

NEXT SLAM DUNK POST INCLUDING: GOLDFINGER, FRANK IERO & THE PATIENCE, LESS THAN JAKE, NECK DEEP, AGAINST ME AND ENTER SHIKARI

Big appreciation and love for Owen for consistently taking awesome photos, he’s uploading Frank Iero & The Patience set on YouTube. Give him a follow and show your support!

Instagram | YouTube

music

Neck Deep talks ‘The Peace and the Panic’ and Slam Dunk

 

 

On Sunday the 21st of May, pop punk band Neck Deep dropped two new singles, “Where Do We Go When We Go,” and “Happy Judgement Day,” from their forthcoming album ‘The Peace and the Panic.” Since forming in 2012, the band has garnered a lot of attention  and to this day has a growing fan base. The band took to BBC Radio 1 to stream their new tracks with their twitter live whilst on air. The first song they streamed was “Where Do We Go When We Go,” was an instant hit among fans. The song plays on the nursery rhyme opening with “Pain, pain, go away, come back another day; I just want to get one up on life before it kills me.” First listening was hard to get to grips with the new sound that Neck Deep have gone for – Barlow has stopped the shouting and instead gone for melody, and the band (whilst keeping their energy) have gone for a little more well-constructed.

“Happy Judgement Day,” is easier to love at first listen. It’s relevant, catchy and political with the right amount of angst weaved into it. When asked by twitter user @MSlags, “What has changed for Neck Deep for #ThePeaceThePanic,” the band responded with Andrew W.K’s ‘Party Hard’ spirit “we do what we want and we like what we do.” It’s refreshing to see a band proud of what they have achieved, enjoying the sound of their own music and excited to play it live. Twitter user @sadsongchloe asked “what was the writing process like while creating the new album? #ThePeaceThePanic @NeckDeepUK” and surprisingly, the band responded “We were writing this record for ages. It was the first time we all worked together as a full band – EVERYONE has songs on this album.”

Although, yes, their sound has somewhat changed in the two new tracks with an overall feeling of maturity in their music, the guys still channel their energy and heart throughout. Their slight changes has worked in favour for Neck Deep, getting fans hyped for the new album that’s been confirmed for release in early August.

vinyl-whiteretaild2c

Track Listing: 

1. Motion Sickness
2. Happy Judgement Day
3. In Bloom
4. 19 Seventy Sumthin’
5. Parachute
6. Don’t Wait (ft. Sam Carter)
7. Heavy Lies
8. Critical Mistake
9. The Grand Delusion
10. Wish You Were Here
11. Where Do We Go When We Go

Talking to altpress.com about the album, Barlow tells of how and why they changed since “Life’s Not Out To Get You” by explaining “The Peace And The Panic is about how we’ve grown up and experienced life in the last couple of years. When we were writing Life’s Not Out To Get You, we were going through a period of uninterrupted happiness. We were super-content, but as that album came out, life changed for us. Over the two years we’ve toured that record, so much has happened that I’ve re-evaluated what life is about and questioned whether just having a positive outlook is enough.” You can read more of the interview with altpress.com by clicking here. The interview is personal, heartwarming and a real insight to the whole process of creating the album, giving readers a real appreciation for the work that’s gone into it and not just the music it provides.

With Slam Dunk Festival kicking off today in Leeds, the band tweeted

getting everyone excited for what comes next. Could we be hearing more of ‘The Peace and The Panic’? Can we expect an upcoming tour? No matter what, the band are keeping everyone’s interest sky-high as we hear more and more about the album.

music

High Visions ‘Waving The White Flag’ Review & Exclusive Interview

 

 

(Photo credit to Rosie Verney Photography)

“We’re putting punk back in pop punk,” High Visions said in an interview with Live A Little Bit Louder, and their latest EP, ‘Waving the White Flag’ has definitely started them on the right track. The EP has copious amounts of highly energetic guitar riffs, strong bass lines, outstanding contrasts of vocals all complimented by the drums. The trio have mixed and blended each instrument together to cultivate an awesome and unique recipe on their take of pop punk. “I feel like our sound is separate from that of other pop punk bands, particularly in the music scene we’re in. We’ve tried to avoid the more well-known pop punk tropes with our music, and we definitely enjoy the style of music we play,” Zyggy, bassist of High Visisons says, “We take a lot of influence from the late ’90’s and early 00’s pop punk, such as Sum 41, Brand New and The Offspring. I don’t know how pretentious this could sound [and even though] we’re not pioneers within the pop punk scene or anything, we do feel like our sound is a way of putting the punk back into pop punk!”

Wed love to collaborate with our friends in the pop punk scene, particularly the boys in Safeguard. Especially in the North, there’s such a supportive community, with so many bands looking out for each other – it’s such an encouraging environment.”

Drunkenly meeting at Leeds’s dedicated rock venue, The Key Club, the guys started High Visions through the enjoyment and passion they share for music. “We were all in different projects at the time – Louis and Alex were studying at Leeds College of Music, and I was at Leeds University,” Zyggy explains, “[High Visions started] as a fun project that came out of a couple of impromptu jam sessions and Leeds College of Music.” He adds. “Now that we’ve all finished University, it seems like the perfect time to start taking things to a new level and although our schedules are quite tight nowadays – with myself and Louis in Leeds and Alex in Rotherham – we still try and go to Key Club when we can for old times sake.”

HV2

(Photo credit to Martin Crandon)

One track that stands out the most on the EP, and not for a catchy chorus that gets stuck in your head, is ‘Not Bent, Just Broke.’ “We challenged ourselves to write a song that was under a minute long, and we (just about) succeeded!” The song is of high, completely wild energy. “It’s the song that goes down the best at live shows. I remember joining a few too many of our own mosh pits during the final moments of the song!”

‘I’m Scared of What Might Happen’ is a showcase of the bands creativity. “‘I’m Scared of What Might Happen’ is my personal favourite; it’s a real grower,” Zyggy starts, “Louis came up with a lot of the initial concept which we then spent quite a lot of time developing into the version that’s on the EP right now.” It starts like an old movie theatre, with the sound of a movie reel in the background. It’s relaxing, it’s like the bands five minute breather from all that high energy. You imagine the boys in a black and white, stuttering film as they climb over into a coloured motion picture as the drums kick in and contrasts the old with the new. It feels like old school pop punk, in a modern world. “The lyrics are also pretty special to me as well. I rewrote them quite a lot over the perioud between writing and recording the song; it’s mainly about being far away from home and leaving people behind. Although I love living in Leeds, it’s hard having to leave people you love when you start moving on with your life. That’s basically what it’s about to me.”

HVEP

The six track EP is taken from a selection of the guys influences, and each of their preferences shines through. “We’re all into different styles of music – Louis is into hardcore and metal, Alex is into mid-00’s pop punk and I’m into the more modern style of pop punk and emo. To me, the songs highlight all the difference influences that our playing styles encompass. I like to think of it as a mission statement or something, like “Hey we’re High Visions and this is what we do. The EP is a collection of songs that we wrote in the first months after High Visions formed.”

“‘Waving The White Flag’ sets the ground for how we’re going to be developing our style in the future.”

“Our debut single ‘Amy,’ as well as the first track on the EP ‘Speakeasy’ are song I’d suggest to new listeners,” Zyggy says. Apparently, the best way to review an album is to listen to it ‘in the wild.’ This means, listen to the album away from notebooks and laptops, and to just simply enjoy it. And do that on repeat. Do it when you’re simply just living. Little did I know, during a game of Rocket League whilst trying to save a goal, I would be screaming the chorus of ‘Speakeasy’ at the top of my lungs. A cliche, but this song is so insanely catchy that  it stays with you. It’s excitingly powerful and aggressive, and the vocals only enhances the attitude of the song. This EP needs more than just any old headphones to listen with. There’s a huge difference between the iPhone headphones I used to initially listen, and the Audio-Technica’s I’m using now. A strong sound system changes everything – and all I can say, that hearing every single note of the guitar; every strum of the bass and every beat of the drum makes the listening experience of ‘Waving The White Flag’ unforgettable. It’s found it’s way into my daily playlists, or even going out of my way to stick it on. “The first song we wrote was ‘Head Underwater,’ and the initial idea for the song came to us in the first ten minutes of us jamming together,” Zyggy remembers, “That song kind of laid the foundation for the type of music we wanted to play, I think. It is definitely reminiscent of Teenage Kicks though – I can’t deny that!” Much like bands such as KoRn and Neck Deep taking nursery rhymes and spinning them into something almost entirely new, ‘Head Underwater’ proves that even though it shares similarities to The Undertones hit single ‘Teenage Kicks’ that their imagination can take them to different places. Despite the energetic and playful song, there are some real feeling behind the song. “I ended up writing the verses about how I was feeling about being in Leeds for the first time, struggling with anxiety and trying to find my feet. As far as songs go, it’s one of our most straightforward, and one of our favourites to play live.”

hvep1

High Visions ‘Waving The White Flag’ is only the start of the bands journey, and happy with the foundations they’ve laid for themselves and their growing fan base, and whilst this adventure is only just beginning, the guys behind High Visions are already planning what’s to happen next. “We’ve written a couple of new songs already. They’re harder hitting than anything on ‘Waving The White Flag,’ with heavier riffs from our guitarist, Louis. We’ve also incorporated some melodic hardcore and early post-hardcore into our sound,” Zyggy says, “but in the meantime whilst we’re writing material for our sophomore EP, we’re planning on playing a few shows over the summer and also start playing outside of Leeds as well! The next few months are definitely a big turning point in all of our lives, due to two of us graduating, however High Visions is staying a constant in our lives.”

Click HERE to listen to High Visions ‘Waving The White Flag’ on Spotify and follow them on FACEBOOK to stay up to date with their music. 

 

Discover music