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.

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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.

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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.

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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%

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Details

Produced by Dirk Miers, co-produced by Perry Seleski. Mixed and mastered by Dirk Miers. Recorded at De Studio, Asse (Brussel). All music by Second Chance, except track 13 by Sick of It All.

Band

  • Ronald Driessen—Vocals
  • Perry Seleski—Guitars
  • Jimmy Stress—Bass guitar
  • Jordy Middelbosch—Drums

Tracks

  1. Why should I care
  2. Make amends
  3. Tides may turn
  4. Straight edge is a waste
  5. We don’t care
  6. Progress or poverty?
  7. Full speed ahead
  8. Beg, steal and borrow
  9. Teenage tragedy
  10. All over again
  11. G.S.
  12. Stand up
  13. The deal (Sick of It All cover)
  14. Outro (Break up and be loud)

Review

The album cover made me suspect that I might be in for an evening of pirate metal. But no, it’s hardcore.

I think I probably say this every time I review a hardcore album: every time I review a hardcore album, I forget how much I like hardcore. I should really have got the message by now. This is hardcore album number 13 in my collection.

I’ve only listened to this album two or three times, but I’d say that Second Chance can hold their own against the likes of Poison Idea, Sick of It All, or Biohazard. The songs are short (the title track clocks in at 3′ 06″, but most don’t even see the two minutes’ mark), they are melodic and punky, and the production is good with enough bass to give the album depth.

I think my favourite moment in the album is towards the end of “Straight edge is a waste” (track 4) which switches to a very lo-fi vibe, making it sound like the track is being played from a small transistor radio.

The penultimate track is a cover of Sick of It All’s “The Deal” (track 13) which offers a nice contrast between the style of the two bands. All things considered, I think I actually prefer my fellow Europeans.

The closing track “Outro (break out and be loud)” is played on acoustic with everyone singing along. It’s the most pirate-sounding track on the album, and indeed probably in my whole collection. Yah-harr! Ye hardcore lubbers!

Conclusion

Each time I’ve listened to this album I’ve had the same uncomfortable thought: this album is a bit like own-brand crisps. It does the job. It doesn’t offer anything particularly new or exciting. While it may be rather generic hardcore, I like it. It does the job, and it does it well. It doesn’t get in the way of itself.

This band doesn’t need a second chance from me (see what I did there?). I’ve liked them first time round.

Review score: 70%

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Details

Produced by Tom Tom and Seasick. Tracks 1 to 10 recorded at Exit Section Zweinbrücken from 23 to 27 May 1998; mixed from 16 to 18 July 1998.

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Band

  • Chain—Vocals
  • Mingo—Guitar
  • N.O.—Bass
  • Nussi—Drums

Tracks

  1. Was ist ein Menschenleben wert
  2. Macht
  3. Mutter Hure
  4. Only Agression
  5. Bis das Blut gefriert
  6. Endstation Hass
  7. Erst geboren schon verloren!
  8. Meins!
  9. Human madness
  10. Nazi bastard
  11. Perfection (bonus track)
  12. Born for chaos (bonus track)
  13. Children of paradise (bonus track)
  14. Track 14 (bonus track)

Review

There is a curious thing going on with this album: like your average Rammstein album, the lyrics are almost completely in German. But the packaging is almost entirely in English!? Anyway…

This album has a very old school thrash feel to it, right down to the lo-fi, raw-sounding early Sepultura-style production (think Schizophrenia). As such, the album sounds better a) played loud, and b) played on something with a half-decent graphic equalizer.

If you’re looking to improve your German, there are plenty of spoken parts scattered throughout this release, which gives it a bit of a European, indie film feel in places.

Tracks 1 to 10 belong to the Bestie Mensch album (which you can still hear for free on Bandcamp). The remaining four tracks are bonuses. Only tracks 11 to 13 were listed on the CD sleeve notes and appear to be their demo promo from 1995.

Conclusion

There is nothing particularly innovative to be found on this album. It sounds for the most part like rather generic old school thrash played on a cassette of a cassette of a cassette.

But as such it does rather have a bit of old school charm about it. It is raw, it is passionate… it’s human. And I really cannot criticise it for that. In a world that tries to be too polished and squeaky and clinically professional I really admire the honesty and earthiness of this release.

Incidentally, Bestie Mensch is German for The Human Beast.

Review score: 75%

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%