It might just be me, but it feels like grunge is having a bit of a resurgence. With stalwarts in L7 scheduled to release a 2019 album and Bikini Kill reforming to play a smattering of 2019 shows, plus fresh new bands like Drenge, Milk Teeth and Gender Roles, the genre feels like it’s thriving again.

With that, allow me to introduce Manchester- based trio DARMA. After finding them whilst browsing The Pickup and from the first opening bars of their track ‘Procrasturbator’, I could tell they were a band I would get on with. A single from last years ‘Gloom’ EP, it’s punchy, menacing and heavy on the scuzz. Dripping with deliciously discordant distortion, it packs a wallop – like getting your teeth knocked out with a brick. Outstandingly infectious, it feels almost impossible to not throw yourself around to it.

Definitely a band to keep an eye out for.

The end of a favourite band can be tough – especially when they’ve been around since your teen years and you’re definitely not a teenager anymore. It’s not like their music is going anywhere, but there’s a sense of loss that comes from knowing that the sounds so familiar to you will never come together again for something new, or for live performances.

I’m unlikely to be alone in saying that the voice of William Ryan Key has, over the years, come to feel like home to me. There is deep comfort to be found in those warm and distinctive tones, and captivating, soulful lyrics; Key’s return to music with debut solo EP ‘Thirteen’ earlier this year could not have been more welcomed.

Six months later, second EP ‘Virtue’ feels like another universe. The gently atmospheric introduction of ‘The Same Destination’ leads into five of the strongest tracks Key has written in a twenty year career; the assured and delicate work of someone who has truly settled into his new identity as solo artist. Key’s influences are broad, but his love of ambient instrumental melodies of artists like Explosions In The Sky and Hammock are evident – it’s moving in ways that are hard to put into words, opening a doorway into Key’s world where colours swirl and harmonies swell in perfect motion.

‘Virtue’ is a heartrendingly beautiful collection of songs, the perfect remedy to a frantic and intense world. Trust me when I say that it calls for a set of ear-enveloping headphones and all the time you have spare. This EP represents a new chapter for Key, and for us too; a wonderful and altogether personal journey into a new musical atmosphere. Yellowcard fan or not, this is an adventure you’ll want to be a part of.

 

WRK will be touring the UK with This Wild Life from Tuesday 29 January, starting in Birmingham and ending in Brighton on Saturday 9 February. Full information on dates and tickets, including VIP upgrades, are available here.

Do you like heavy music? Do you like big hooks and infectious melodies? Do you fall in love with bands that can perfectly marry them together? If so, then River Becomes Ocean are a band to keep an eye on.

The Brighton based quartet are set to release their new record ‘A Motion Paralysed’ on January 18, and released single ‘Silence Means Nothing’ earlier this year. Complete with a guest vocals from Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats, it’s brimming with ferocity and immediately memorable choruses. Their first single dipped its toe in heavier influences, but ‘Addicted’ takes a trip down a more melodic route. This is cinematic, powerful and catchy rock that will burrow its way into your brain. It’s bold, fast paced, upbeat, and will leave you rushing to the repeat button. Watch the video, add the song to your playlists. Indulge. This could become your next addiction.

Ontario-based Selfish Things first caught my attention when they popped up in my release radar with ‘Hangman’ earlier this year. It was love at first soundwave and their 2018 EP ‘Vertical Love’ has been on repeat ever since, while I anticipated their next move.

Now they’re finally back with brand-new single ‘Flood’, and it’s everything I could’ve hoped for. It’s a hard-hitting track about the destructive impact humans are having on Earth and each other – topics that have been thrust into the spotlight more often than ever – yet, Selfish Things manage to do it in such a refreshing way and with such poetic flair, that it doesn’t come across preachy. Featuring a mix of synths and downright filthy guitar riffs, it’s an infectious blend of modern techniques and guitar music that leaves you craving more of front man Alex Biro and company. They’re vulnerable, honest, extremely talented and seriously underrated. This is a band you NEED to check out.

Picture this. It’s 2011, you’re listening to some unsigned band on the radio, and you’re in complete adoration of their sound. It’s captivating and powerful, the guitar work resonates with every cell in your body, and even in this raw, unrefined demo, the band represent everything great about the British rock scene right now. Fast forward to the present, and you find yourself re-discovering those same songs, and wondering how on earth this band haven’t had the recognition they deserve. Some bands just stick with you, and in my case, that band is Take the Seven.

Occupying the space between anthemic pop punk and melodic post-hardcore, the Chesterfield natives have been quiet in recent months, teasing fans with the infectious ‘Live For Free’ back in May and treating us to a series of impressive (and in one case, hilarious) covers over the years. ‘History Is Written By The Victors’ might be the band’s most outstanding and emotional work to date, but one listen is enough to tell you just how much potential this band really have, and I for one can’t wait for their next release.

YouTube has become the go-to platform for aspiring musicians to develop their following, experiment with new sounds, and show their appreciation for the bands that inspired them. In the case of LA native Eliza Grace, her journey to stardom was skyrocketed by a cover of Bring Me the Horizon’s ‘Drown’ in 2015, gaining her significant online attention and critical acclaim. Since then, the singer-songwriter has released a variety of original material, from the bittersweet ‘Rose Colored Lenses’, to the captivating ‘I Can’t Save The World If I’m Not Happy’.

This year, Eliza and her best friend moved from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, providing the perfect video setting for her latest single ‘Slightly South And Very West’. It’s a beautiful and nostalgic track that shares stories of growing up and daydreaming, while expressing Eliza’s own roots. October marks the release of her ‘Deluxe’ album, featuring new versions of old fan favourites and a revised edition of ‘Drown’. With vocals to match Lacey Sturm and an uncapped talent for emotional songwriting, Eliza Grace should definitely be on your watch list.

At some point soon, the Editors of Punktastic are going to get suspicious that the bulk of my POVs are about Brighton based bands. I mean, I’m getting suspicious myself. And yet, absolutely naturally, I just gravitate towards them. It could be that I’m also from Brighton, but I’d prefer to think it’s due to the thriving scene; a unique energy that percolates throughout the city. It wasn’t until I started writing this that I realised where Gender Roles were even from, but coincidentally, this week I bring you ‘Another Band From Brighton That’s Fricking Awesome’.

Signed to Big Scary Monsters, Gender Role released a second EP early in 2018 that slipped me by until earlier this week. As soon as the opening chords hit me, I was suckered in. The EP as a whole is flawless, bouncing between up-tempo pop-punk to melancholic soft indie, all incorporating effortlessly catchy choruses. But it’s EP closer ‘Teeth’ that stands out as an absolute masterpiece. Opening to the slow strums of Tom Bennett’s guitar, the delicate melody gently and deliberately lulls you into a false sense of security. As the song progresses, it becomes scuzzier. Bennett becomes more ferocious, culminating in him screaming the chorus in a slightly strained manner, eerily similar to Mr Cobain, including a typically Nirvana-esque scratchy, distorted interlude. Drummer Jordan Lilford hits the skins like they’ve deeply offended him, while the subtlety of Jared Tompkins’ basslines hold the track together. It’s a masterpiece in how to assault the senses.

And I fucking love it.

Rarely have I ever heard a debut LP as strong and unrelenting as the self-titled LP from Austin, Texas’ exhalants. The band is a throwback to the post-hardcore nineties, with aggressive angular riffs and powerful hard-hitting songs. They’re in the vein of greats like Unsane, The Jesus Lizard, Quicksand, Refused, Hot Snakes, and Circus Lupus. Add in some extreme heaviness like The Melvins. Then include some quieter reflective parts, like Slint or Rodan.

It’s so difficult with this band to boil things down to just one song, so I’m calling attention to the first four tracks, some of the most amazing music I’ve listened to in a while. Right from the start, exhalants hit hard and don’t let up and ‘Latex,’ ‘Cauterized,’ and ‘Ego Death’, pound you into submission! ‘Public Display of Failure’ quiets things down with some gorgeous guitar harmonics, yet the intensity still doesn’t let up. Then let the rest of the album play out, as the exhalants melt your brain.

Photo by Gerard Cosloy

Dark pop anthems, melancholic undertones and a Cure-inspired aesthetic? Pale Waves have got you covered. Since their debut in 2017, the Manchester quartet have built up a cult following across the country and solidified their place within the music industry. Flaunting their own glitter-drenched rendition of nineties-inspired dream-rock, Pale Waves’ music brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘crying on the dancefloor’.

Confronting mental health issues and body insecurities, recent single ‘Noises’ is a departure from the band’s earlier releases, taking the lyrical focus away from first loves and teenage angst, and moving towards the internal struggle of self-acceptance. With that signature Pale Waves blend of pounding drum beats, distorted guitars and melancholic synths, the song is wrapped up in a bittersweet indie-pop anthem that fails to disappoint, effortlessly paving the way for the release of their debut album, ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, this September.