Layby – Chronic review (+ news)

Last night, Dead Press premiered the new video for Layby’s new single, Chronic. We checked the single out way back in December, but there’s been a fair bit going on in the Layby camp since then. The biggest news comes in the form of a new vocalist – upon Aaron John Bownes’ departure from the band, they’ve filled the gap with Miles Kent. Have a read of Aaron’s full statement below:

“There’s some pretty strange feelings going on with me right now. In one hand I’m saying goodbye to a band I thought would always be a part of my life, and in the other is the most amazing and perfect thing that will ever happen to me. My girlfriend and I are expecting our first child! I didn’t want to hold the guys back or spend a lot of time away from my new born child, especially so early on. So it is best for both myself and everyone involved that I leave Layby. I hope you all love the new EP. We put a lot of heart into the songs. You’ll find nothing but honesty and passion in the lyrics and songs that we wrote. I would like to thank the guys in Layby for being so awesome and inspiring. I will miss sharing a stage with you.”

The second wave of news comes with the announcement of their new EP, Life’s Great Illusions, a sophomore offering after their debut Bombsite. All songs will feature Aaron as vocalist – check out the full tracklisting below.

01.) Soundcheck
02.) Chronic
03.) Where I Stand
04.) Kicking And Screaming
05.) Losing Faith

Chronic‘s visual accompaniment is nothing short of a massive party with local pop punk bands to pair with an absolute corker of a tune. Lighter undertones last through the percussion heavy opening, before the former frontman’s vocals tear into the music. The pacey instrumental contrasts the soaring lyrics perfectly to form a true yet original pop-punk sound, with a hooking middle eight fading into a powerful ending that’ll be massively impressive at a live show. Addictive and punchy, it’s a sure and promising way to start the sophomore release.

The Kimberly Steaks interview

We recently had a chat with Greig from Glasgow’s The Kimberly Steaks about living and chemical imbalances, murdering burgers and living and dying in West Central Scotland. Don’t ask, just read on.

You released your debut LP last year through All in Vinyl records titled To Live and Die in West Central Scotland. How was it received?
The reception has been great! We really didn’t expect so many people to hear it, and considering that word of mouth is really the only promotion we get, it’s been really surprising. We’ve had quite a few orders from far-flung places like Indonesia and Pakistan; and loads from Japan. It’s pretty weird to know that people so far away are listening to songs I wrote in my flat and recorded in a house a few miles away.

How was the recording process for To Live and Die…?
Like most of the punk bands in central Scotland, we did it with budget producer-extraordinaire Boab of Punk Rock Rammy. He was moving house at the time, so we moved all the gear into an empty bedroom and recorded the whole thing there in two days in January last year. It was the first time I didn’t drink or smoke during a recording session, so I guess that’s why it sounds better than the older stuff!

You have a new EP out 20th March called Chemical Imbalance. Does the way the material written for it or the way you recorded differ in any way to how the debut record was?
It was written in the same way – we always have the music and vocal melody perfect before the words get written. I tend to write quite a lot and we discard a lot of songs so I don’t bother writing words for them unless we’re definitely going to use them. The only difference really was that the EP doesn’t really have a central theme and all the songs are about something different, whereas all the songs on the album were about boring everyday life in a dreary town. For the recording itself, we did it again with Boab – but in an actual studio this time.

The EP is going to be released through Round Dog and Don’t Ask Records, who have been great friends for years. What made you decide to release the record through these two labels?
I’ve been friends with Fraser of Round Dog/The Murderburgers for years and he’s always been a fan of the band and really supportive of everything we do. The label hasn’t even been going for a year but he’s already doing really well. All of the releases have been great so far. He’s just released the debut album by Don Blake which is just perfect pop-punk with great insightful and philosophical lyrics. It deserved to be heard by a lot of people and I think it really captures everything that’s good about UK pop-punk. I met the guys from Don’t Ask through their band, Austeros. Stuart from The Murderburgers was driving us on tour and let us hear their first EP and all of us just loved it instantly, so we got in touch and got them up to Scotland for a couple of gigs at the end of last year. What they’re doing as a band and a label is just so similar to what our band is about, so I’m really happy to work with them on this release.

What can you tell us about your influences and experiences that helped you to write the latest project? Your music has been described as equal parts pop and punk, are there any bands or artists in particular who have influenced you?
I guess our influences are pretty obvious from the music, and we’re not exactly doing anything new. I just hope that we do it well enough to pay homage to the bands that have influenced us and get a few people interested in a sub-genre of punk that sadly seems to be forgotten about these days. Like a lot of people my age, I got into punk through Dookie and Smash and proceeded to find everything Green Day and The Offspring ever recorded. Avalanche Records in Glasgow used to have a Lookout! Records section and a lot of the CDs were under a fiver, so I would buy whatever ones had the most songs on them. This way I came across The Queers, Screeching Weasel, Squirtgun and loads more. I still think some of those albums are among the best American punk records ever recorded. More recently I think we’re inadvertently influenced by a lot of bands we play with and see live a lot, like The Murderburgers and Wonk Unit. Also pretty much everything that Dirtnap Records release.

And last: what’s it like being a pop-punk band from Glasgow, and what’s the DIY scene like in Scotland?
The DIY scene in Scotland is gradually getting a lot better. 10 years ago it was pretty much non-existent outside of hardcore punk, but thanks to a few dedicated people, there’s now a healthy gig-going audience. I think the fact that the Scottish bands have gotten a lot better over the last few years has also helped a lot. It’s great to see so many out-of-town bands coming up to Dundee for Book Yer Ane Fest at the end of the year, and last year we had Stuck in Springtime Fest in Glasgow which was absolutely packed even though we didn’t have any of the usual names that tend to appear at UK punk festivals. I’d like to think that people are starting to look further than the very few “trendy” bands that seem to represent UK punk. Hopefully this will get noticed and get some of the lesser-known names some well-deserved attention.

Chemical Imbalance is officially released 20th March, but you can stream it right now for free on Bandcamp or a pay-what-you-want download!

My Favourite Runner Up – Never Again review

Earlier this month, Aberystwyth based pop punk quartet released their newest single, Never Again. The band head out on tour next week (full dates below), and this exciting offering from the Welsh four piece is highly promising of what the band are capable of. You can check out the single’s video below, which mirrors the song’s journey and cuts slickly between the storyline and the band putting up a brilliant live show.

Never Again is the second single to be taken from the band’s debut album, Crossroads, released last year. After the success of their first single, Poison, including BBC Radio 1 play and featuring on Scuzz and Kerrang TV, their first offering of 2015 has big boots to fill; with a sound this damn brilliant, that shouldn’t be hard.

To kick things off, think Boys Like Girls’ Great Escape, slipping into something you’d have expected from Taking Hayley before they called it a day. A catchy chorus makes the track instantly loveable and infectious, the sort you’d go to a live show for just to sing along to it. Watch the video below to get it well and truly stuck in your head…

16th – Fac251, Manchester
17th – The Vic Inn, Derby
18th – The Rainbow, Birmingham
19th – The Shed, Leicester
20th – The Owl Santuary, Norwich
21st – Neuadd Pendre, Tywyn
22nd – Surya, London

Petrol Girls + supports at JT Soar, Nottingham

Of all intimate gigs I’ve been to, ex-warehouse JT Soar made this show the most personal. With the stage simply a carpet without a platform, and seemingly random household furniture scattered across the room (a lamp shade here, a sofa there) there was a decisively homely atmosphere to the venue. Somehow, though, this performance space leant itself easily to the variety of punk set for the show. It’s timing enhanced this DIY vibe, a matinée gig with a line up three bands…

Hailing from Canterbury, two piece Holy Pinto began the show in a fantastically promising manner. Opening like some bizarre mix of Big Sixes and Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate, the band quickly bulked the music up into something more punk and electric. After commencing their set to a mostly empty room, it was a consolation as the room began to fill, their music deserving a crowd far larger than the one available. Despite having an obvious disadvantage, the band’s drummer, Ryan, lead the performance in terms of enthusiasm, the frontman and session bassist seeming immobile in comparison; that said, the show was the bassist’s second live show with the outfit, so was all in all a triumphant effort.

A psychedelic hint crept into the show with Phantom Limb, before personal favourite of the show came in the form of penultimate Hospitals; picking up from spoken word to the band’s full volume, they demonstrated the degree of control they held over the music. So prompt and staccato was the pace of each track, if it were a studio version, you’d think someone had edited it.

Things took a rapid turn for the loud with Laughing In The face Of, the frantic chaos of the music so starkly contrasting the previous act. Half shouted half spoken vocals only just pierced through the rest of the combined electric and percussion backing; in such a small venue, the force of the music was near-on overpowering, and most certainly a force to be reckoned with. Too hardcore – almost metal – to be classed as straight-up punk, but too punk to be classed as anything else, the aggressive energy of the band quite literally knocked me a step back – yet another act deserving more attention.

Headliners of the show came in the form of London feminist punk band, Petrol Girls. What began as a fair balance between the two previous acts quickly developed into harsh melodic rock; for such an intimate crowd, the cheers each song received were impressive. The band’s no holds barred approach lead to a high level of honesty, in turn making the music genuine. Frontwoman Ren Aldridge did a fantastic job of enthusing the crowd, making light of the darker matters in the set (“this song is about me having anger management problems but they’ve got a bit better since I started doing this”).

Being a DIY show meant more than just unusual furnishings to the venue; Ren gave a special mention to their new EP, not only available on vinyl, but with handmade cases (which seemed a regretted decision). Music plugs came right along with plugs of the band’s message, with Ren taking a few moments before Five Bottles to promote the awareness of the necessary clarity in consent, and again before Big Man to describe the track as “for anyone who’s ever felt patronized because of their gender”. Angry, angsty and ridiculously fast, their show not simply impressed, but overwhelmed.

PEARS – Go To Prison review

PEARSWords: Kelly Ronaldson

Formed only nine months ago, New Orleans based snotty punk/hardcore mob, PEARS, are set to release their debut ten-track album Go to Prison on January 30th via Gunner Records. Having toured the States relentlessly since their formation and recently shared the stage with US pop punk mainstays Direct Hit, this four-piece guaranteed to impress even the most ignorant of NOFX fans.

The album, recorded by James Whitten (A Wilhelm Scream, Streetlight Manifesto), kicks off with a 53 second track titled You’re Boring. Fuelled by screamed-vocals and chanty choruses, it’s a good start. However, track two, Victim to Be sounds similar to something by Kid Dynamite. From the beginning this records mashes genuine pop punk with real hardcore, and it’s brilliant. Following in its footsteps is Breakfast, which lends itself to the plethora of genres that this record covers, bearing slight similarities to some old Papa Roach tracks.

Sycophant speeds up the album again, leaning back towards the faster, heavier sounds we heard in track one, while Forever Sad and Framework sound like The Transplants and NOFX screaming at each other over shots of vodka – and it works. The album continues with this heavy streak throughout Terrible, before switching to a Ramones-like drum beat for Judy Is A Punk (surprise, surprise). Little Bags has more of a pop punk feel to it throughout the verses, which gives a clear indication as to why the band chose to tour with Direct Hit. Album closer Grimespree sticks to the same theme, just with a few extra metal-esque riffs and screams.

“We have covered a lot of ground in the first 9 months of us being around,” says vocalist and guitarist Brian Pretus, “And we don’t plan on stopping until we’re the first punk band to ever play in North Korea. I’m dead serious. So pull up a chair and get comfy, and prepare yourself for the longwinded downward spiral insanity story that is PEARS. It’s going to be rad as fuck.”