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.

Comedy and music. Two totally different mediums that are normally difficult to combine, which might be part of the reason Psychostick haven’t perhaps made it as big as they should in the UK. The Arizona natives, now based in Chicago, bring comedy in spades, melding it with some serious metal prowess. And let’s be totally honest, metal could do with some of the snarky, observational humour that’s common place within punk.

While some comedy metal is a little passé, Psychostick keep the humour in the lyrics, whilst being exceptionally proficient musicians who’re “serious about being dumb”. It’s difficult to nail down one specific song off Psychosticks new album ‘Do’ that really channels both the metal and humour, since every song has masses of both. The track I’ve gravitated to most is ‘Uncle Material’.

A cynical look at the realities of parenting, it’s a pounding four minute embrace of the fear of having kids. With lines like “Sing a lullaby whilst ignoring the smell, got to keep the thing alive or you’ll end up in jail”, it’s the exact counter to those who’re excited to have a child. While the verses are filled with slapping basslines, thanks to Matty J ‘Moose’ Rzemyk, they build up to an almost circus-sounding chorus with vocalist Rob ‘Rawrb’ Kersey showing the impressive variances he can get from his voice.

With an outro featuring a screaming baby (in time, of course) it’s the perfect end to a song that sums up the fears of many adults, myself included, who’re not quite ready to commit to having a child. Please don’t let my girlfriend read this…

Have you ever had a band you are so overwhelmed by, it frankly offends you that they aren’t more well-known yet? The band with seemingly boundless talent and an electrifying live show to go with it? Well, in case you’re yet to have the pleasure – let me introduce you to Normandie. Hailing from Sweden – the home of All Good Music – the four piece are gearing up to release the follow up to their 2016 album ‘Inguz’, and have now unleashed the first single of their new era.

‘Ecstasy’ is, in a word, huge. A heartbeat rhythm, drizzled with electronic elements, gradually intertwines with harmonies and keys in the build up to the most anthemic alt rock chorus you’re likely to hear in 2018. And that’s saying something. With a post-hardcore style breakdown that will give you chills and crashing drums like waves on a stormy day, Normandie have taken what they do best and gone one (or ten) better; uplifting, pop-infused rock with a gut punch of heavy right when you most crave it. A band with a sound this refreshing can’t – and won’t – stay under the radar for long.

For the best part of three years there has been a lingering sense of doubt, manifesting in a sensation akin to an itch you just can’t quite scratch, as to the future of Alkaline Trio. Would Matt Skiba taking up the reins in Tom DeLonge-less Blink 182 spell the end for Chicago’s favourite Satanic sons?

The release of ‘Blackbird’ – a precursor to their to ninth studio album ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ – has removed the boot from the neck of doubt. This is vintage Alkaline Trio and we’re more than happy to drink up the Kool Aid that messrs Skiba, Andriano and Grant are serving up. ‘Blackbird’ has all the hallmarks of mid-2000s Trio with jangling, haunting, staccato riffs, a tale of a dark force bringing death from above wrapped in the guise of a female protagonist and a chilling, instant-classic chorus.

It is a portrait of the world and the future we face that only Alkaline Trio could paint. Even a heavy involvement with Blink 182 could not dull the cynicism and twisted poetry that could only flow from the pen of Matt Skiba. What it also does, is lay down the foundations for an album that teases an Alkaline Trio returning to their absolute best. It is good to have them back.

It’s a year to the week that Gaffa Tape Sandy played Glastonbury and as a celebration of the anniversary, they’ve kindly gifted new single ‘Meat Head’. Played extensively at their recent shows, including a slot at The Great Escape in their adopted home of Brighton, it’s a stomping track that addresses the assumption some people have over other peoples’ bodies. It’s a pointed finger at rape culture that, disappointingly, seems common parlance given alleged reports throughout Hollywood, music and society in general.

With bassist Catherine Lindley-Neilson carrying the vocals, peppered with guitarist Kim Jarvis screams and harmonies, it bounds between gentle, melodic verses and coarse, aggressive choruses. Robin Francis’s drumming ties the whole song together, matching the vocals; subtle during the verses, rousing in the breaks. With artwork as confrontational as the song itself, it can’t help but grab your attention.

It’s a track that I personally have been waiting for with baited breath, both as a big fan of the band but more as a guy fed up with a percentage of my gender assuming their power over women or any other person. It’s not right and it’s not okay. For that reason, it’s an incredibly important, noteworthy song.