Album Reviews

Album Reviews

Shackleford III Review

Nuneaton's finest return with a solid spinner of grown-up pop-punk

The first time I saw Shackleford live, two things came to mind. First, I thought “These guys probably are probably the stupidest, most hilarious band I’ve ever seen live”. And secondly, I thought “Wow, how do they sound so good?”.

After several years touring on the back of their two EPs – the imaginatively named I and II – they’ve pulled their socks up and put together a full album.

Album Reviews

Harijan – Harijan

Dour, northern and brilliant. The ska punk that 2020 deserved.

I need to start this review with a confession. Cards on the table time. It’s this: I love what TNS Records represent, absolutely. I absolutely love who they are in the scene, I love their DIY ethic, their stand out values, their inclusivity. But… I struggle to love a lot of the music they release. The problem’s not them – its me.

They’re just a bit too ferocious for me. Their music? It’s wild, it’s untamed. It’s punk with the limiters taken off. And, I’ll be honest, I spent most of yesterday evening reading by the log burner, listening to Nina Simone, and some very chilled out Pama International reggae. And so, the brutal reality is… TNS Records are too punk for me?

Millie Manders Taking Truth, Breaking Ties
Album Reviews

Millie Manders and The Shutup – Telling Truths, Breaking Ties

Female-fronted power punk that takes the listener by the horns

After half a decade as an absolute stalwart of UK Ska Punk, Millie Manders and The Shutup have finally put an album together.

Now, it’s always a challenge reviewing something by someone you are totally in awe of. Not only is Millie utterly ferocious in performance – whilst managing to be friendly and generous in person – she also lives with a cut-me-in-half-and-I-bleed-truth integrity. Whether its her youth musician development tutoring, or her unceasing championing of the under-funded and under-loved Norfolk Arts scene, she’s there. Plus she drew a unicorn mermaid that my 6 year old daughter thought was amazing. She’s slightly intimidating really, but that’s fine, because truly awesome people are meant to be.

Album Reviews

3dBs Down – Get Your Retaliation In First

Featuring call-and-response out the wazoo!

I missed 3dBs Down the first time round. Again. (I also missed The Skints – catch our Skints & Bedouin Soundclash review here). They still sound pretty fresh, despite my decades-long lack of observation. There’s a definite late 90s twinge going on – I’d bet good money they enjoyed the odd Spunge & Goldfinger albums back in the day – but it’s a long way from cookie cutter third wave. Its relaxed – for punk anyway – but it still has an edge

The first takeaway from your listening experience will be the great stacked vocals littered throughout. There’s dual harmonies on basically every chorus coupled with solid shout interjections in songs like “At Your Signal“, multilined vocals at the end of “Moussaka“, etc. Matt’s vocals actually remind me a bit of those of (long dead) band Bingo Tonight, especially on “Idiot Ignorant Evil“. There’s a definite a poppy hook on a lot of the singing, although it’s juxtaposed with some decently heavy riffs.

Album Reviews

Smooth Lee – The Holdup

Soul-tinged Ska that's old school in all the right ways

So it’s not often that I get an unexpected vinyl through the door. I mean, I say that. I regularly get music through the door and I’m like “Oh Right! I forgot I ordered this…”

But in this situation, it was an album I’d never heard of, from a band I’d never heard of. It turns out that Smooth Lee are a ska band from fair Belgium. I asked them why they so foolishly sent their music 500 miles out of their way to the grim wastelands of the North West…

Album Reviews

Call Me Malcolm – Me, Myself and Something Else

"We'll keep on fighting and I'll keep on trying until I don't need breath"

I was immediately a little bit hot and bothered when I heard that Call Me Malcolm were bringing out a new album. They are definitely one of my favourite bands in the scene, not just for their delicious music; nor their madcap sense of fun – above all else, CMM stand out for their acknowledgement of having inadequately calibrated brains. Mental health was the focus in their last album, and its front-and-centre in Me, Myself and Something Else.

Album Reviews

The LarryFish Experiment – Better Late Than Never

The kind of silly your mum always warned you not to be...

When a band calls themselves The LarryFish Experiment, you know they are deadly serious about the artistry of their work. TLFE absolutely deliver on that deadly sincere approach in their album Better Late Than Never. By which I mean its filled, to the brim, with lovely shambolic madness.

The LarryFish Experiment are a Bristol based threepiece, playing what I would probably refer to as “skanking-obsessed pub-punk”. Its rough and ready, no doubt, but its silly and fun.