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.
Millie Manders and The Shutup – Telling Truths, Breaking Ties
This review is not one of my normal ones. I usually listen to an album 20 plus times, really get to know it, so I can give you my honest balanced opinion.
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.
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…
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.
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.
I’ve been in love with Bedouin Soundclash since around 2004. Back then, I was in the habit of rolling into All Ages Records and asking Nick to recommend some new ska. He handed me “Sounding a Mosaic“, and said “You’ll love this one”.
Codename Colin – Escape From Everything
Running away from everything, with a soundtrack you can skank to...
I’ll be honest, the first time I heard Codename Colin was when they submitted a track to the terribly-titled Warrington Ska Punk compilation (get yours for just £4 in our store!). But please ignore my ignorance: storming out of Hertfordshire (which, in my defence, is about half the country away from Warrington), Codename Colin are an energetic 6-piece, playing quality ska-punk.
They’ve got a familiar horn heavy sound, immediately bringing to mind some of their current fellows in the UK ska stable, especially rising stars Call Me Malcolm (read our CMM album review here), with vocals leaning a little more heavily in the [Spunge] direction. I definitely haven’t called them Call Me Colin about 5 times. Nope.
So a couple of months ago, my mate Dean from Side Mission Records was dropping off a Pizza Tramp LP at mine, and he had a cheeky look in his eye. “How do you like the sound of SMR001, then?” My ears perked up, and I asked what they had cooking. He just grinned and said “It’s really really F-ing emo”. I have it now, clenched in my pale clammy hands, that first release from Side Mission Records and I can confirm that Dean was correct: Its really really emo.
Now I’m not talking that new wave of nonsense that called itself emo: this is not Panic at the Disco or My Chemical Romance. I’m talking old school: early Brand New or Jimmy Eat World, stuff like Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, Dashboard Confessional. Proper plaintive, vocal heavy, tells-a-story emo. And, let me tell you, Dude Trips have given us a bucketload of plaintive here.