megaflora immediately recall the likes of American Football, Snowing and early Nai Harvest records, clean guitars, intricate rhythms and softly delivered lyrics. However they can also pull out a big chorus with bite and intensity, driven by some truly fantastic drumming.
As the name and their bandcamp state, megaflora are “nature-loving punks”. Their debut album is called Redwoods and this love come across in the layers they add to their music. Like a forest where nothing is ever truly still there always seems to something going on in the background of a megaflora song, yet it’s still all cohesive and communal. If you love 90s emo and rain in the leaves then you’ll find something in megaflora.
On ‘Passiona’ Wil Wagner sings “I am absolutely, infinitely more scared of you than you are of me”, and you can tell each word is true. You get the sense that Wil felt this one day walking through the city and, as is The Smith Street Band way, it was part crippling but also brought a smile. It’s funny, self-deprecating and completely honest, and it’s the line that gives their brilliant new album it’s name.
The band have never sounded more vital, not only to the scene they’re apart of but also to themselves. This record sounds like something that needed to be written, full of feelings that needed to be released. ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’ distills the complicated and conflicting feelings you have after a break-up down to their purest form, with Wil utilising short, simple and concise refrains like “I want to kiss you on the mouth, a little bit too hard” and “I just want you to let me love you” to gut-wrenching effect. It’s an album that never gives up on the value of love and having loved someone and it leaves you smiling, even if it may be through a few tears.
Kamikaze Girls new single Berlin opens with a wall of noise. Pounding drums, viciously distorted guitars and the powerful opening line of “I feel like I’m having a heart attack”. This is the bands first single since signing to Big Scary Monsters and it’s clear that they wanted to make a big statement of intent.
The vocals are dark, haunting and dripping in reverb, with lyrics that deal with issues of anxiety and mental health. There a few bars of respite in the bridge, the calm at the centre of the storm, where softness and melody take centre stage, but this just serves to make the cacophonic impact of the final chorus even more intense. ‘Berlin’ is a furious blast of noise that captures the energy Kamikaze Girls have on stage and their new album can’t come soon enough.
As a die-hard It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia fan I was dying for Fightmilk to be good, and thankfully they did not disappoint at all. The band’s debut EP ‘The Curse of Fightmilk’ is a four track cherry bomb of rhythm, hooks and creativity that incorporates an array of influences into one cohesive whole.
Opener ‘Admin’ is a catchy lament for dead-end jobs and has an infectious indie-rhythm that recalls early The Strokes. ‘Jesse’ is a four minute power-pop anthem about unrequited love and the theme continues into ‘Your Girlfriend’ which has a hook and perspective that Weezer would be proud of. The EP ends with ‘Winterboy’, the punky ode to cuffing season that has a certain similar theatrics to the writing of Charlie Day on ‘Dayman’ and ‘Nightman’ (no mention of ghouls or spiders though). The writing is fantastic, the licks are great and the whole EP just exudes a sense of fun and creativity, so listen to Fightmilk and watch your mood soar high like a crow.
As soon as you hear the first few crashing chords of Good Friend’s debut album ‘Ride The Storm’ the influence of mid-2000’s East Coast punk becomes clear. The band are from Belfast and based in Newcastle, but their sound recalls The Loved Ones, Alkaline Trio and The Flatliners. This isn’t just a recreation though, the band add their own distinct flavours with some Northern bite and lyrics tinged with whiskey and Gaelic folk stories.
If you like any of the bands mentioned above you’ll find something in ‘Good Friend’. ‘Ride The Storm’ is full of energy, powerful drumming and big riffs, with opener ‘Rock Bottom Revival’, ‘The Curios Case Of Hy-Brasil’ and ‘Young Blood’ proving particularly riotous. It’s honest punk rock to shout loudly while you stand on table. It won’t change the world but it’ll damn sure get you through the night.
Great Cynics new album ‘Posi’ arrived on Friday and it’s a fantastic return from one of the UK’s most underrated bands. The album is full of the classic warm guitars, infectious melodies and lyrics about bags of cans in the sun Great Cynics are known for, but also sees the band develop their sound and draw from a wider set of influences. One of the best examples of this and one of the standout tracks on the album is ‘Don’t Buy The Sun’.
The track begins with a slow build of melodic, clean guitars and drums that recall 90s emo such as American Football, however when the bass enters the drums pick up and the song explodes into a punchy and passionate attack on tabloid fear-mongering. Lead singer Giles Bidder delivers his vocals with a hint of distortion to add some bite and makes good use of repetition (“Now everyone’s pissed off, now everyone is pissed off” / “They’re just trying to scare you, they’re just trying to scare you”) to really hammer the message home. It’s a two minute blast that incorporates everything that makes Great Cynics so beloved by their fans and a healthy dose of something new. And say it one more time for the people at the back, don’t buy The Sun.
Caves have been missing from the UK punk scene for too long. The Bristol two pieces’ 2014 album ‘Leaving’ was a 20 minute explosion of crunching guitars, battering drums and fiercely delivered, personal lyrics about politics, gender and oppression (their 2013 record ‘Betterment’ is also a belter). The band have been relatively quiet since then however, with guitarist Lou Hanman leaving Bristol for America’s punk capital, Philadelphia.
This move has led to a change in Caves’ songwriting and their upcoming third album, ‘Always Why’, promises new developments in their sound, but the first single released from it, ‘Need It Most’, is a slice of classic Caves. The pounding drums carry infectious energy, the palm muted guitars add bite and, despite the 3400 mile distance between Philly and Bristol, the chorus is perfectly designed to be sung in The Exchange or Mother’s Ruin with a can of horrifically strong cider in hand. It’s crunchy, punchy and arrives not a moment too soon.
Every new Idles song right now sounds vital. Every new Idles song sounds like a pure cry of fury stemming from something deep inside that you’ve been struggling to articulate and come to terms with. The gift of Idles is they can articulate it with a few simple lines and a violent crash of guitars, bass and drums. They bring it out of you, hold your face in front of it and scream, “fucking look at it.”
Whether it’s over politics, art or your own life, that unflinching self-reflection and subsequent catharsis is at the core of their upcoming debut album, ‘Brutalism’, which was written in the wake of the death of lead singer Joe Talbot’s mother. The band say new single ‘Mother’ is “an exploration of who she was and is,” with the ‘is’ seeming particularly important. Someone with as much passion and fire as Joe didn’t come from nowhere.
‘Mother’ is driven by brutal but intricate drumming and a classic hardcore sounding bassline, whilst Idles’ twin guitars become more and more distorted and twisted as the song builds. Joe delivers his vocals in a way that makes you think he probably had to be restrained in the booth during recording. You can almost imagine him clawing at the glass and fighting against chains as he spits refrains like “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich,” and the two word chorus; “mother fucker”.
Nothing really sounds like Idles right now, but most importantly, nothing at all feels anything like them.
I’ve written before about Dream Nails, the ‘feminist punk witches from hell’, and their new video for ‘Tourist’ continues to prove just how exciting and vital they are. They’ve been playing ‘Tourist’ live for a while and it’s become a firm fan favourite that combines everything that makes Dream Nails so brilliant. It’s got a classic punk vibe with a heavy dose of riot grrl and a hook you’ll be singing for weeks, plus a message 50.4% of the population will appreciate all too well (side eyes emoji…).
Driven by an infectious bassline, it swerves from a punchy riff to a building, forceful breakdown, and is all held together by a catchy, political and biting chorus that goes out to every guy who thinks people are for saving and the world is a film about an awkward but attractive leading man who’s just trying to find himself (“I’m not your story, I’m not your novelty, I’m not here for you to be a hero“). It’s gleefully wicked and doesn’t pull any punches or take any shit.
Dream Nails have said their second EP is on the way and if ‘Tourist’ is anything to go by it’ll be the perfect soundtrack to punching the patriarchy in the throat.
Photo Credit: Steph Jed