Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves EP (2018)

Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves (2018)

Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves EP (2018)

Details

Recorded at Emeline Studios by Ian Sadler. Released via Fox Records on Friday 4 May 2018.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | SpotifyTwitter | YouTube

Buy this EP on Fox Records’ Bandcamp

Band

  • Luke Rainsford—Vocals
  • Dominic Cattell—Guitar
  • Elliot Wallett—Bass
  • Brad Fisher—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hunger pains
  2. Coffee and fluoxetine
  3. Hollow me out
  4. Slumber
  5. Your laughter never leaves

Review

Layover (or as they prefer—the all-lowercase—layover) are an emo pop-punk band from Birmingham, England (UK) with an ear for light, jangly pop punk songs.

Founded in 2014, their early compositions had a “very DIY” feel to it. The band took 2016 off and reinvented themselves, emerging with both a new energy and more mature sound.

The result is an EP of rather American-sounding pop punk songs (think Tiny Moving Parts from Minnesota, and Tigers Jaw and The Wonder Years from Pennsylvania) addressing topics such as mental health, loss, sensitivity and sincerity.

Hunger pains (track 1)

With jangly guitars, bouncing bass and halftime drums, and emotional, passionately sung lyrics, EP opener “Hunger pains” (track 1) was the first song written during writing sessions for this release. As such it is probably the track that most closely resembles a perfect crossover from Layover’s old and new sounds. It is pure emo pop-punk with lyrics to match:

“On the day that you told me you finally saw me at my lowest. I’d never want you to know just how much I was hurting ’cause it’s nothing compared to what you’re facing. You’d never want it to show.”

The track slows down about two-thirds of the way in for a gentler, arpeggio-driven middle-eight before returning to its original tempo to take the song to its lamentful conclusion, “I’m a shadow of the person that’s never coming back”.

Coffee and fluoxetine (track 2)

As the title suggests, “Coffee and fluoxetine” (track 2) addresses mental health. “Do you remember when we both discussed the way my head makes me see the bad in everything?” Rainsford sings. And later, “You said ‘take care of yourself and put your mental health first”. Rhythmically the song dances around, changing tempo, flipping between chords and arpeggios. It’s a surprisingly upbeat and jolly song for one that seemingly explores feeling let down by someone leaving you while you are at your lowest. And then suddenly. It ends.

Hollow me out (track 3)

The shortest track on the EP, “Hollow me out” (track 3) hits the ground running with a hop and a skip of a riff. “I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin” sings Rainsford, and the music fidgets and dances about in sympathy. The track slows down for a few bars while he ponders, “I’d be lying through my coffee stained teeth if I told you I was hopeful or happy.” And then they’re back up to pace, jittering to the end of the track.

Slumber (track 4)

Track 4, “Slumber” opens with a simple, reflective and gentle melody. This is my favourite track on the EP. It has dynamics, it has passion, and an almost tangible vulnerability, a wistful melancholy.

With many songs you can read your own meaning into the lyrics, place your own story within the narrative. The song is an open letter to his late mother, about the night he was told over the phone that she had died. For me, when I first heard it, it spoke of the love that had slipped away—that missed opportunity.

It’s a beautiful, almost haunting song that stayed with me for hours after listening to it.

Your laughter never leaves (track 5)

The final track on the EP, “Your laughter never leaves” (track 5) is built around a riff that initially alternately gallops and chimes before it morphs and evolves into a driving, almost progressive track that pieces together everything from the previous four songs: it has space and depth, crashing chords and delicate arpeggios, and vocals that are variously quiet and passionately loud. It’s the perfect note on which to end the EP.

Conclusion

This release is a perfect example of why I insist on listening, where possible, to a release at least three times. On my first listen through I dismissed it as just another pop-punk American-influenced emo release. But delving deeper into it, taking my time to listen more carefully to each song and read through the lyrics I found myself relating to the lyrics and appreciating the musical nuances of each track. On each listen I heard new layers of instrumentation and appreciated more the song writing. I’m already looking forward to hearing what they will write next.

This is an EP that if you give it some careful attention it will give you back a lot more than you initially expect. Dismiss it as just another disposable emo pop-punk release at your peril: there is a depth to these five songs that will gently get under your skin.

Review score: 85%

Buy this EP on Fox Records’ Bandcamp

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Layover or Inception Press.

Advertisements

Burn the Priest to release covers album on Friday 18 May

Burn the Priest, Lamb of God‘s alter ego release an album of covers, Legion: XX, on Friday 18 May to celebrate their 20th anniversary. They changed their name to prevent being assumed to be a black metal band.

If the following advance tracks are anything to go by (“Kerosene” originally by Big Black and “Inherit the Earth” by The Accused) this is going to be a fantastic album.

My only gripe so far is that their cover of “In the meantime” by Helmet will be as a 7″ B-side of “Inherit the earth”.

Tracks

  1. Inherit The Earth (The Accused)
  2. Honey bucket (Melvins)
  3. Kerosene (Big Black)
  4. Kill yourself (S.O.D.)
  5. Against I (Bad Brains)
  6. Axis rot (Sliang Laos)
  7. Jesus built my hotrod (Ministry)
  8. One voice (Agnostic Front)
  9. Dine alone (Quicksand)
  10. We gotta know (Cro-Mags)

Videos

Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Details

Recorded in a Blackpool rehearsal room by James Routh of Sonic Boom Six. Cover art by Esme Baker (vocalists, tattooist and owner of Boileroom Tatoo in Guildford, Surrey). Released on 30 March 2018.

Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Twitter | YouTubeWebsite

Band

  • Esme Baker—Vocals
  • Kit Reeve—Guitar
  • Rio Hellyer—Bass
  • Lexi Clark—Drums

Tracks

  1. Blood in my hair
  2. Get better
  3. Every good thing
  4. Just like you
  5. That valentine song

Review

Friday 30 March saw the release of this fabulously titled second EP from London four-piece punk band Screech Bats: Wish You Were Her. It sounds rather fabulous too.

According to vocalist Esme Baker, the EP is “about women who have, for entirely different reasons, had a profound impact on my life, but are no longer in it. Most of the lyrics are drawn from real experiences and on the whole we want to make dark, often ‘taboo’ topics, approachable with a positive message.”

Four women standing in front of a wall of comics

Screech Bats (Photo by Tom Le Bon)

Blood in my hair” (track 1) kicks off the EP with an abrupt and surprisingly metal bang! Four bars of staccato  chords and a ticking hi-hat give way suddenly to a pulsing, melodic punk song. The song has a simple stripped back and warm sound. Baker’s alto vocals are clear, pushing a little to distortion at times and to good effect; I could listen to her voice for hours.

Get better” (track 2) rides on a memorable riff that gets stuck in your head, while the lyrics tell a story in that most perfect of punk traditions and a fabulous singalong chorus “Since you’ve been gone I’ve been down so low / Ohhhhh / Are you better than this? / Since you’ve been gone I don’t know who I am / I’ll be better!” And yet it can’t really get any better than this—this is a perfect pop punk song. It has melody, it has energy, it has emotion.

Every good thing” (track 3) is built on a cyclical Husker Dü/Bob Mould-style arpeggio that repeatedly builds and resolves, creating expectation and tension before morphing into a start-and-stop coda. It’s such a good song. I should feel guilty, but I’m not.

Just like you” (track 4) opens with a double-stop bass riff that is soon joined by a jangly guitar and double bass. Baker’s vocals are so smooth as she sings “Hello honey how your face has changed | You used to be so pretty…” The off-beat rhythm changes about halfway through and you can’t but bounce along to the song. And then… it twists again towards a sudden ending.

“My lover hates me and I don’t mind,” Baker laments at the start of “That valentine song” (track 5). It’s a relatively straightforward and simple song to bring the EP to a close. Just as it looks like it’s not going anywhere Kit Reeve launches into a majestic and rather beautiful guitar solo. It completely lifts the song and transforms it into something quite gorgeous. My only complaint: the metal-tastic chugging that leads the song out could have lasted a lot longer than three seconds!

Conclusion

This is a gorgeous EP. Five perfectly crafted pop-punk songs that balance melody with raw energy. Esme Baker has a gorgeous voice and writes fabulously dark and real lyrics that address issues of mental health and recovery, death, grief, one night stands, ageing, settling down and learning how and when to end a relationship. This is a band that sounds fresh and relevant.

Review score: 95%

# meToo

In the promo material that accompanied this release I was saddened to read the following:

As an act devoid of male members, Screech Bats openly recount many instances of their gender standing front and centre stage: “It’s awful – we are not a ‘girl band’ just because none of us have penises. We have been heckled, we’ve been asked “whose girlfriends we are?”, we’ve been groped whilst trying to load in amps and at one particular show, when our bassist was moving her gear, someone shouted “the stripper’s arrived”. In our opinion, the whole industry needs to stop seeing gender as a genre – we need to see a shift towards just listening to the music, not having to consider what it is we have between our legs.”

I quite agree. Gender isn’t a genre. Listen to the music, judge the band on the music not on their chromosomes—and if you don’t like it then don’t listen to it, and if you do then tell others about them.

It saddens me to hear about how many people have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. Please look out for one another—help keep those around you safe, and more importantly, treat everyone you meet with the respect you would want them to offer you. We’re all in this life thing together. I just hope we can get better at that. Speaking of getting better…

Video

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Screech Bats or Inception Press.

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Cincotta and Dan Kennyat Full Force Studio. Produced by Joe Cincotta, Danny Kenny and T$S.

Band

  • Rick Limenez—Vocals
  • Brian AudleyGuitar
  • Chris Mazella—Guitar
  • Andrew Jones—Bass
  • Dan Bourke—Drums
  • John Moore—Guest vocals on “Even worse”.
  • Jeff Tiu—Guest vocals on “Damage is done”
  • Brendan Garrone—Guest vocals on “Since day one”

Tracks

  1. Even worse
  2. Sever ties
  3. The reclamation
  4. Decide and conquer
  5. Choosing revenge
  6. Relentless
  7. Bound by defiance (T$S)
  8. Damage is done
  9. Nothing more, nothing less
  10. Own up!
  11. Since day one
  12. Smoke and mirrors
  13. Living hell (bonus track)

Review

Every time I come across a hardcore album I’m always surprised at how much I like it. My average score for hardcore albums on this project is 73%. I perhaps should just accept that I’m a bit of an unconscious hardcore punk fan.

I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.

That should help. Until I listen to the next hardcore album, of course. I should turn this into a film: 50 First Hardcore Punk Albums starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Anyway, with that little bit of amnesia over, the album.

Soldiers are a hardcore band from Long Island in New York, formed in 2006 from the ashes of This Is Hell, Subterfuge, Last Conviction, and The Backup Plan. Following a debut EP in May 2006, this follow-up from December 2007 remains their only full-length album.

And do you know what? It’s good. If anything, it is let down a little by the mix. It often feels like it was recorded with the microphones in the wrong room or facing the wrong way, and the lead vocals are a little hidden in the mix. But otherwise the album is full of energy and contains all the key constituent parts required for a solid hardcore album: punchy bass sound, thrashy guitars with a good mid-range sound, shouty vocals with enthusiastic crowd-fueled choruses.

The songs are also typically and appreciatively short. “Nothing more, nothing less” (track 9) is only 53 seconds long and definitely proves the less is more rule. None of 13 tracks outstay their welcome. They come in, do their job, and they are done!

The only anomaly is the final track, “Living hell” (track 13) which is a rap track. Like, straight-out rap. Not crossover. Rap. I’ll just leave that there. Rap.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given my newly acquired awareness of my love of hardcore punk. I liked this album. With a clearer and more balanced mix it might be better, but as it is, it rocks!

Review score: 90%

Sal—Infatuation!! EP (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Details

Recorded at Stir Studios, Cardiff. Engineered by Steve Davis. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ace (formerly of Skunk Anansie) at Ace Record Production.

Website | Flickr | Blog

Band

  • Cat Southall—Vocals
  • Noog—Guitars and loops
  • Chris—Bass guitar
  • Den—Drums

Also features Richard Holley—Keyboards.

Tracks

  1. In love
  2. Make it on her own
  3. September
  4. Goodbye
  5. Dreaming

Review

Infatuation is Cardiff band Sal’s second release, following debut album Dysfunctional (2005). The band reminds me of bands like Garbage: they have a pop-punk-rock feel, mixing melody with grit and attitude.

The EP fires off with a fast-paced, Bob Mould style song “In love”, before slowing things down with the power ballad-esque “Make it on her own”.

“September” takes the speed up again, but the song fails to hit the mark for me. It reminds me of something that might go well as the soundtrack to a montage in a US teen feel-good movie. “Goodbye” is the punkiest song on the EP with fast downstroke picking, rumbling drum fills and some of the cheesiest lyrics on the disc. Goodbye.

“Dreaming” is another mid-paced track with some nice dynamics.

Conclusion

Production-wise, musicianship-wise, songwriting-wise this is a decent enough release. I certainly wouldn’t switch it off, and I get the impression they would be fun to see live. Whether I’d hunt out this EP to listen to, I’m not sure. It’s not really my thing, but I do appreciate why it might be someone else’s.

Review score: 68%

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Details

These songs were originally released on separate CDs except “Leaning to scream” which was 7″ vinyl only until now. Released on Taang! Records, 2000.

Band

Pick Your King EP (1983) — tracks 16–28

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Glen Estes—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Kings of Punk (1986) — tracks 4–15
Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes EP (1984) — tracks 29–40

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Learning Scream 7″ (1998) — tracks 1–3

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Ian Miller—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Tracks

  1. Learning to scream
  2. Another place
  3. Xerox frustrate
  4. Lifestyles
  5. Short fuse
  6. God not god
  7. Ugly American
  8. Subtract
  9. Cop an attitude
  10. Death wish kids
  11. Made to be broken
  12. Tormented imp
  13. One by one
  14. Out of the picture
  15. Untitled
  16. Think twice
  17. It’s an action
  18. Thing called progress
  19. In my headache
  20. Underage
  21. Self abuse
  22. Cult band
  23. Last one
  24. Pure hate
  25. Castration
  26. Reggae (I hate)
  27. Give it up
  28. Think fast
  29. A.A.
  30. Legalize freedom
  31. Cold comfort
  32. Typical
  33. Thorn in my side
  34. Laughing boy
  35. Rubber husband
  36. I gotta right (written by Iggy Pop)
  37. Rich get richer
  38. Don’t like it here
  39. Die on your knees
  40. Time to go

Review

Thanks mainly to Suicidal Tendencies’ early albums and The Misfits I have quite a soft spot for American hardcore punk. This compilation album from Portland, Oregon punks Poison Idea certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The album comprises their first three releases: Pick Your King 7″ EP (1983), Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12″ EP (1984), Kings of Punk (1986), plus the much later Learning to Scream 7″ EP (1998).

There is a marked difference in production quality between the earliest release (tracks 16–28) and the later releases surrounding it. But it doesn’t detract much from the enjoyment of the songs, although in general I do prefer the song-writing on the later tracks.

Poison Idea were seemingly influenced by southern Californian bands like Black Flag, Discharge, and The Germs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Poison Idea themselves then went on to influence the bands in neighbouring Washington state who launched the grunge sound a decade later, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

There is a raw, energetic honesty to these songs; they are heavy but melodic and played with fervour. “Tormented imp” (track 12) for example (which is probably my favourite song on the compilation) has a wonderful stomp, and lyrics spat out with passion.

Conclusion

While I complained in my last review that many of the songs sounded much the same, for some reason it really doesn’t matter quite so much on this album. Perhaps it wasn’t the homogeneity that was the issue, perhaps it was the soul, the humanity, the passion. And by ‘eck, this album has plenty of that.

This album surprised me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the word: I didn’t just like it, I enjoyed it. It’s definitely the best hardcore album I’ve listened to during this project.

Review score: 95%

 

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

Details

Recorded at Rhythm Studios by Paul Johnston. Produced by Paul Johnston and H8 Target.

Band

  • Mart—Lead vocals and guitar
  • Scary Dave—Guitars and vocals
  • Mark—Bass
  • Pix—Drums

Tracks

  1. Never fade
  2. So far past sick
  3. Inspiration

Review

This is a self-released demo/promo EP from Birmingham-based hardcore/punk/metal band H8 Target and to be honest, if I hadn’t seen the CD packaging (cover that’s clearly been printed on an inkjet printer, white-label CD) then I would never have guessed that it was a demo.

The recording quality is fabulous. It doesn’t have the raw, sounds-like-it-was-recorded-in-a-bathroom feel that some demos suffer from. This has a good balance between high-end guitar parts and drums and low end bass and meaty-sounding distorted guitar riffs. If anything, the recording as a whole leans towards the mid-/bass-end but that only adds a gravitas and heaviness to the recording.

From the opening riff this EP demanded my attention. Usually I listen to a recording over and over during the week before I make a decision on it. Well, I’m now on my second listen through and I’ve already made up my mind. And the whole thing is only 14′ 10″ long.

“Never fade” has a fabulous, rumbling riff not even a minute into the song. This must be a fabulous song to play live. It’s definitely metal… erm, hardcore… no, metal again… nope! definitely hardcore… who cares! It rocks!

“So far past sick” definitely starts in a very hardcore vein: pounding drums, staccato-ed riff, screaming vocals. And… well, it doesn’t really let up. I can imagine bouncing along to this at a gig.

“Inspiration” opens with a clean, picked riff accompanied by bass. Drums and guitar two join in as the song builds to another hardcore inspired riff, verse and chorus. At about 1′ 50″ the song slows. Open chord. INSPIRATION! shouted over the top of it. And then the build… It’s all very Biohazard. But it’s a British Biohazard and it’s brilliant.

Conclusion

From the outside (a homemade album cover and white label CD) it doesn’t look particularly impressive. But it’s what I often say about houses: you should never judge them by what they look like outside: it’s how they are inside that counts. And inside this is fabulous.

The final word goes to my son Joshua (6) who said about the cover, while nodding his head along to “So far past sick”: “I love how that line goes along and that line goes down and it looks like a sniper’s target, pointing at a dragon’s head. It’s cool!”

It is cool.

Review score: 94%