Album Review :: The Magnificent – Bad Lucky

“…there’s thousands of punk bands out there proclaiming their town is the shittest, but no one does it quite as well as The Mags”

Let me pose a question: If you were to take the poetic, typically English, story telling of The Clash and combine that with the angst-ridden, raw, pop-punk of  (old) Green Day, what would you get? The answer to that is The Magnificent and, In a nutshell, their latest offering sounds like the bastard child of the aforementioned.

Whilst Bad Lucky does nothing especially groundbreaking, it is a really solid punk record. Opener, ‘1981’ sets the tone right from the off. It shows that the band aren’t afraid of delving into territories unknown. I mean, how often have you heard a song about a royal wedding with such awesome guitar work? The semi-dystopian world view carries on throughout the entire album, setting it apart from anything else. I mean, there’s thousands of punk bands out there proclaiming their town is the shittest, but no one does it quite as well as The Mags.

Of course, not all of these songs are about decaying towns. ‘Working Mens Club (Part 2)’ – a song that might well be my favourite on the record – focuses on the monotony of the ‘nine to five’ and, presumably, the overall hatred of having to work in a job you hate. This track also offers a change of pace not heard elsewhere on the record, introducing a hard, fast, Descendents-esque sound that would’ve been welcome more than just this once.

There’s also some real good sing-along songs on here too. ‘King Of The Denim Jackets’ springs to mind with it’s catchy opening verse and plethora of ‘woah-ing’ and ‘oh-ing’. Though a resounding cheer of “1990” emanating from the crowd at the next Mags show is a safe bet too.

Honestly, there’s very little wrong with Bad Lucky. Alright, there’s a few sketchy lyrics here and there but, more than any record I’ve heard recently, Bad Lucky has a real old school punk swagger about it. A real nostalgia, not all of which is derived from those songs with dates for titles.

Songs To Cure Depression :: RX Bandits – ‘…and the Battle Begun’

“…take of your shoes, it’s time for dancin'”

To: XXX@XXXXXX.XX.XX

Cc:

Bcc:

Subject: Attendance

Dear XXXX,

Sorry I haven’t been in attendance much these past few weeks. I’ve been having a really bad time with my anxiety/depression/etc and it has been hard for me to face being at university.

I’m going to work hard at getting my head back into place and hopefully after this week will be in full attendance for the rest of the term.

Is it possible to have all the assignment and hand in dates in a reply e-mail? That way I can catch up at home before next Monday’s lecture.

I’m sorry if this has caused any problems and I’d hate my poor attendance to appear as a disinterest in the course. I’m enjoying it very much (when I’m actually there) and want to do the best I possibly can during my time at university. It’s a shame my issues hold me back, otherwise I’d be giving it my all.

Incidentally, I was told by a friend that Winston Churchill had similar mental health issues during his life. So perhaps there’s hope for me becoming a fat, bald, cigar smoking maniac who runs the country for a while too.

Again, apologies for my absence,

Ian Critchley

Podcast :: UTB #35: We’re Going On Tour With Soundgarden Too!

“If you see an old woman on the street…hit her with a crowbar” – Ian Critchley

The subject of Carol Vorderman is firmly off the table for this week’s Under The Bridge, we’re sticking to the music talk. Thank christ for that! This week Emma Hallows tells us all about her recent tour with Dave Hughes, we discuss hypothetical meetings between penguins and polar bears and are asked the question “What is Cliff Richard doing right now?”

This week’s music is provided by Great Cynics, Martha, Harker and The Menzingers. No excuse for this being late. Barlow (eds note: honestly) just forgot we’d done it. It was edited, ready to go, and everything!

Go on, have a listen:

Under The Bridge #35: We’re Going On Tour With Soundgarden Too!

Gig Review :: Pressure Kids – The Vic Inn

“…Charlotte untangled her microphone lead, as if unleashing an excitable puppy, and jumped into the crowd…”

Far from kicking back, Pressure Kids have continued to work hard since winning Tamworth Battle of the Bands in 2011; rehearsing, writing and performing numerous gigs across the Midlands.

Following on from the success of their self-titled E.P., featuring four of their studio-recorded tracks, they have committed to energetic and exciting live performances at venues including The Flapper and the O2 Academy 3 in Birmingham. Their most recent gig was held at the Victoria Inn in Derby. Pressure Kids were billed as ‘support’ for a touring band called “The Hype Theory”. Sadly, the headliners flailed into the shadows of the effervescent and vivacious Pressure Kids, who, once again, demonstrated true showmanship, impressive musicality and showcased two great new songs.

The room boasted the biggest crowd of the evening as Pressure Kids took to the stage and the band fed of the atmosphere created by the anticipating crowd. Charlotte Lombardi is every inch the dynamic lead singer, a powerhouse who charms her way around the stage. She knows her craft and therefore never fails to captivate the audience with her charismatic and energetic performances. Heard commenting “Who needs the gym? I’m knackered!”, she never fails to commit 100% to every performance.

Her bandmates offer the perfect support for her unique style, physically bouncing off one another on stage, their chemistry is blatant. Each talented in their own field, the guitarists give the tracks depth whilst the strong bass-riffs pulse through every song. The drumming is always energetic and powerful, allowing the crowd to tap their feet and clap their hands; audience participation is a must!

The stage at ‘The Vic’ was somewhat restricting in terms of size, yet never ones to succumb to any kind of restraint; Pressure Kids overcame their boundaries by simply ignoring them. The bassist climbed onto the edge of the stage, playing and balancing in tandem whilst Charlotte untangled her microphone lead, as if unleashing an excitable puppy, and jumped into the crowd, dancing with ‘fans’ who were singing along to their popular songs.

As well as the ever-increasingly recognised tracks such as ‘Monster’ and ‘Rocking Chair’, the band played a new track called ‘Lioness’ and another new song called ‘CBA’. The former is a guaranteed hit. In fact, I’d put money on it. The chorus is unforgettable, catchy and musically fantastic whilst the lyrics have everyone in the room hooked on Charlotte’s every word. Their older, better-known songs didn’t disappoint, successfully delivering the guitar-driven pop they claim to offer. Pressure Kids essentially produce feel-good music with a gritty edge, pop to sink your teeth into.

Following rapturous applause, the band headed off-stage to ‘mingle’ with the crowd who received them with open arms and congratulations. Not only have they concocted an impressive repertoire of incredible tracks, they have the likeability factor. They are proud of their music, rightfully so, and never fail to impress with their performances.

Following one signed band and preceding another signed band, neither of which packed the kind of punch Pressure Kids do, I fail to see how the amazingly talented likes of Charlotte, Simon, James, Dan and ‘Danimal’ remain unsigned. I beg of you, spread the word and share some Pressure Kids love!

Pressure Kids can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/PressureKids and their E.P. is available on i-tunes.

Photograph, used with permission, by ‘Reality Control’ photography: https://www.facebook.com/realitycontrol

[J]

Review :: ’77 – High Decibels

Dig out your denim


Thrashing drums, whiplash inducing head banging and a sphincter clenching devotion to blistering guitar solos and riffs. Not the usual adjectives reserved for sunny Spain. Shove the paella back in the oven, put away the sunscreen, hard rock n roll is back, lock up your daughters.

By that, of course, the triumphant return of ’77 has occurred. Hailed on M&B as the champions of a dying breed, the cymbal crashing cacophony from Catalonia have produced their follow up to 2010’s 21st Century Rock with a much glossier, slicker produced and still irresistibly thrown back (and up) to the glory days of pub rock.

High Decibels is this highly touted follow up. Less than a sequel and more of a rebranded, better equipped version of the first installment, this album marks a much more professional, intensely matured taste of the band’s talent.  The first difference is the more intensified sense of individual identity. This is hardly surprising. In the eighteen months since their last release, the band have moved from an AC/DC tribute act who played their own material to an act in their own right.

Expanding from their native Spain, this summer sees a continental tour that takes in Germany and Sweden. As profile has risen, so too has the ambition of this four piece outfit. With tracks like “Back Door Man,” “This Girl is on Fire” and “Melting in a Spoon,” a more sinister, edgier vibe is shown here. With lofty ambition comes the same mix of catchy blues riffs, solid solos and the sleaze fuelled harmonies that would make your mother blush.

The near nine minute opus “Promised Land” stands as a testimony to how far this band has come since their debut. Split into multiple parts of changing pace, eclectic imagery and the fundamental three riff hooks that force smiles onto the most maudlin of rock fans, the aspiration of such a project is plain to see. Evoking memories of Bad Company, early KISS and even Led Zeppelin in one song is not something regularly attempted, less carried off. “Promised Land,” however, skirts the line between success and disaster with enough majesty and arrogance that the whole operatic ethos comes off with a plom. The jam session approach, casual riffing and constantly changing tempo and medley is an audio delight.

When 21st Century Rock appeared, there were many who rolled their hypothetical eyes at “another seventies throwback, completely out of touch with the modern music listener.” An unfair but altogether more realistic view of the industry and the chances of such an act. However, defying such criticism and producing a follow up as strong, layered and arguably defining like High Decibels has done nothing short of place ’77 in as strong as position they could hope for. The much cleaner production, bigger, bolder sound and broader audience (the album is available on iTunes) reach will provide an excellent starting point for what should be a big year for the band.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The band’s official website has all relevant information. High Decibels is also available on iTunes: http://www.myspace.com/seventysevenrocks

Moon & Back Session :: James Hull (Leagues Apart)

“Holy shit I look like an idiot when I’m drunk!” – James Hull

Having made his triumphant return to Manchester, we decided it’d be a good idea to get James Hull to do a session. Why we thought this is beyond me, we did though. With his hangover from the previous night, presumably, still lingering (he played an ‘Under The Bridge’ show) we set Leagues Apart’s tallest member to work again, after an intimate gig at Manchester’s Star & Garter.

James decided to play a Leagues Apart song (I don’t think you can call it a cover if they did the original, right?) as part of his session and even managed to improvise a completely new verse just for us. Enjoy!

‘Damage Deposits’

EP Review :: Great Cynics – In The Valley

“I had this feeling that this is how Giles originally imagined these songs sounding.”

After the success of their debut album Don’t Need Much, Great Cynics return with something some people might be a little familiar with already. Well, sort of: Back when the band was just Giles and his guitar, and no one had even brought up the idea of a name change, he’d recorded some songs that people really dug. In fact they still do dig these songs, and that’s why we have In The Valley – an EP comprised of full-band versions of three original Cynics songs.

Both ‘You’re Alright’ and ’14 Coleman Street’ have been mainstays of Great Cynics’ sets for some time, so it’s great to finally have full band recordings of these already fantastic tunes. Those already fond of Giles’ original recordings won’t be disappointed either. The extra instrumentation only improves on what was already there. A stronger vocal performance from Giles and better production certainly help too.

The same can be said for ‘In The Valley’. The EP’s opening/title track is the only one of the three that might be less familiar to some fans of the band, but I’ve got a feeling that’ll change pretty soon. This too is a massive improvement over the original recording, and it’s really cool to hear Iona lending her vocal talents more prominently than before. And as good as the other two tracks are, I think this might be my favorite of the bunch.

When I first finished listening to this EP (and I’ve listened to it a whole fucking lot!), I had this feeling that this is how Giles originally imagined these songs sounding. He might not have done but, either way, they’ve turned out awesome. Don’t be an idiot. Get this and, if you haven’t already, go and buy Don’t Need Much too!

Video :: Apologies, I Have None – ‘Clapton Pond’

Apologies, I Have None have a new record coming out really soon, and it’s shaping up really well. Having already released ’60 Miles’ earlier in the year, the London-based band have just debuted another new song. ‘Clapton Pond’ is a massive tune – which is totally indicative of the band’s previous work – and the video is an absolute masterpiece. Shot by Julian G. Harding and starring Sam Russo, it feels more like a short film than a music video and is deserving of all the praise it’s getting.

Apologies, I Have None head out on a short UK tour with Crazy Arm and Great Cynics on February 29th, and are playing a few dates with, acclaimed country singer/songwriter, Austin Lucas. Shortly after, the band will embark on the release tour for, debut album, London. This is followed by a few dates with Touche Amore and Pianos Become The Teeth.

  • White Rabbit, Plymouth – Feb 29th w/Austin Lucas
  • Croft, Bristol – March 1st w/Austin Lucas
  • The Hydrant, Brighton – March 2nd
  • Firebug, Leicester – March 3rd
  • Fighting Cocks, Kingston – March 4th
  • Karma Cafe, Norwich – March 5th
  • ManchFESTer II – Kraak Gallery, Manchester – March 17th w/Above Them, Sam Russo, Calvinball, Great Cynics + more!
  • The Central, Newcastle – March 18th
  • Santiagos, Leeeds – March 19th
  • The Flapper, Birmingham – March 20th
  • The Edge Of The Wedge, Portsmouth – March 21st
  • The Old Blue Last, London – March 22nd w/Sam Russo + ‘Special Guests’
  • Thekla, Bristol – March 26th w/Touche Amore + Pianos Become The Teeth
  • Sound Control, Manchester – March 27th w/Touche Amore + Pianos Become The Teeth
  • XOYO, London – March 28th w/Touche Amore + Pianos Become The Teeth

Video :: Great Cynics – ‘In The Valley’

London punk trio, Great Cynics are set to release a new EP later this month and, fittingly, they’ve released a tune for us all to check out. Fans from back in the day might recognise ‘In The Valley’ – the EP’s title track – from one of Giles’ earlier, solo, recordings. In fact, each of the EP’s three tracks are full band versions of songs Giles originally recorded solo. As fan favourites, it makes sense that these songs get a new lease of life.

We’ll have a full review soon but, for now, I can tell you that you should pre-order ‘In The Valley’ from Banquet Records (UK) or Kind Of Like Records (US). First of all check out this ‘unofficial’ video for ‘In The Valley’. See how many of the UK’s punk rock stalwarts you can spot!

Songs To Cure Depression :: Sum 41 – ‘Rhythms’

“Since You Found Me Out.”

I’d hit rock bottom again, after a Saturday to Tuesday binge which totalled around 90 hours of drinking (with six for sleep) I’d awoke with a headache that felt like a pneumatic drill to the temple and a pain in my stomach that mimicked how I imagine the pain of a flesh eating virus would feel. I spent the next few days lay almost-comatose, feeling sorry for myself and vowing that I would, from now on, sober the hell up, work harder on my writing, and pull myself out of the pit oblivion that is, depression. But thinking, or even saying these things out loud, doesn’t necessarily make them happen and this is where music often steps in.

But what music would pull me out of the dark and make me start smiling again? It was all so obvious, cheesy pop punk from Canada. They’re upbeat, fun, good to dance to, and they also have a shit hot drummer. Sum 41 are a band, and even though (in this writers opinion) they’ve deteriorated musically recently with their new adult approach to the pop punk fix, All Killer No Filler still stands out as one of the greatest pop punk albums of the 20th century. Rhythms is a crucial song in clarifying all of the above points, with a great drum track, fun catchy vocal rhythms and all in all, a damn fine feel good vibe throughout the almost 3 minutes of three quarter length punk inspired pop.
I also thought it might be nice to make this a bit of a Spanish lesson as there was no official video for this track.