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

The Smith Street Band don’t change too much, they just get better at being The Smith Street Band. New single ‘Birthdays’ sees the band tread new ground with a synth driven bridge and guest vocals from Melbourne singer-songwriter Jess Locke, but it is undeniably both a progression and also a song that captures the same magic that is apparent in the rough recordings of South East Facing Wall six years ago.

Written about a chance meeting on a pier in Hobart, the song is full of the endearing, honest and delicate lyrics that Wil Wagner has become so adept at writing. The song moves from a typically rousing Smith Street chorus to some gorgeously peaceful interludes that cut through with a soft and wonderful calm – encapsulated perfectly in the lyric, “Wanna be alone, wanna be surrounded, wanna be transient, wanna be grounded,  but all the dissonance disappears from me, when you drape your arm across my knee intentionally lazily.”  It’s sweet, wholesome and beautiful. The sound of a band that are confident and comfortable in their creativity.

Great Cynics returned this week with news of a new album, ‘POSI’, and a new single in the form of ‘Butterfly Net’. The band have been relatively quiet of late and have undergone some line-up changes. Iona Cairns has left (an understandable shame given how busy she is with Shit Present and her solo work) and it seems two new members have joined Giles and Bob, and this seems to have resulted in a rejuvenated and fuller sounding band.

The core elements of the Great Cynics sound are still there, but with two guitars rather than one everything just feels a little richer and more developed. Lyrically the song is all classic Cynic’s territory, standing tall with a can in hand in the face of your troubles, but Giles’ writing seems sharper whilst still maintaining the colloquial and poetic quality it’s always had (the lines lines “I owe you this cold morning of pure light” and “caught the 37 to Peckham, picked up some Tyskies and felt completely fulfilled” are particularly lovely). The extended breakdown to end ‘Butterfly Net’ recalls The Smith Street Band’s outro on ‘I Love Life’ and overall the song definitely suggests ‘POSI’ will be well worth a listen.

There’s something completely endearing about The Seamonsters. The six piece band from Sheffield make honest and undeniably charming indie music with bright, sepia tinged guitars, eclectic and interesting drums and falsetto vocals. Each member is properly utilised too, with bass-lines, keys or lead guitar shining through at different times and highlighting a strong collective songwriting ability for such a young band (the members are 17/18).

The Seamonsters’ self-made videos depict scenes that anyone who was a teenager in the UK can relate to and also highlight a strong DIY ethic. They draw from UK indie such as The Wombats, whilst there are also pop punk and emo elements such as Modern Baseball to their sound. There are only live demo recordings online right now, but the band have promised more (and they say even better) music is coming in the next few months, so they’re definitely one to keep an eye on.

Photo Credit: Katy Blackwood

“Drink it all in, you’ll never get the taste out of your mouth.” Sung with distorted vocals and heavy feedback, it’s a pretty good lyric for the week Donald Trump officially becomes president, and Bristol post-punk band Spectres’ dark, foreboding music seems to fit our current dystopia pretty perfectly. 

The band have a relentless, pounding and droning sound that utilises feedback and heavy distortion to create an industrial level of noise that almost veers towards a brutal form of techno at times (lead singer Joe Hatt has described it as “brutalising” guitars). The sheer volume and variety of noise Spectres create means you find yourself getting lost (although consumed may be the better term) in the punishing sounds as they crash over you. It’s not an easy listen, but it is certainly not a forgettable one. Their videos are sick (interpret that as you will) too.

Dream Nails describe themselves as feminist punk witches from hell and I am not going to argue with them (about that or anything because I’m scared they’ll hex me). They’re part Riot Grrrl, part Minor Threat and part The Ramones, with just a smidge of Spice Girls thrown in for good measure, and they’re the most fun I’ve had seeing a band I’d previously not known in absolutely ages. 

From the moment they took the stage they threw good vibes, passion and joy into the room in abundance.  They’re tight and excellent musically and can make a racket with the best of them. On record they’re equally great. Whether they’re extolling DIY ethics and female solidarity or tearing down patriarchal ideas and threatening genitalia with Deep Heat and hot sauce (“Siraracha Everywhere!“), they approach each song with a fierceness that never fails to be fun.

Anger and solidarity are more important than ever in 2017, but it’s important not to forget to make time for joy, and the way Dream Nails combine these emotions is what makes them fantastic. Be careful though, you’ll be singing lyrics like “nobody cares and your dick is on fire” for ages after listening and that can lead to some odd questions in work.

Photo Credit: Steph Jed

We Wild Blood make more noise with an acoustic guitar than pretty much any band I’ve seen. Their Facebook calls them ‘paranoiacore’, and that seems as good a word as any to describe their dark and angry sound that draws from punk and noise rock. I caught them at an All Dayer last weekend and despite their mid-afternoons set time, they played with an intensity that suggests it won’t be long till their getting the later slots.

They’re a three piece but the din they produce is cacophonic, driven by a relentless rhythm section and the aforementioned, frenetically strummed and distorted acoustic. At one point the lead singer ditched the guitar and played with an effects pedal (affectionately referred to as “the Rolf Harris paedo-box”), madly contorting the sound by twisting the knobs to breaking point. It’s great to see a young band so invested in the performance and their sound, and if you get the chance to see them you really shouldn’t pass it up.

Toodles and The Hectic Pity are a young band from the outskirts of Bristol and there’s a nice combination of west-country folk with a Bristolian ‘fuck it’ attitude to their acoustic punk sound. Aside from the name (one testimonial on their bandcamp reads, “Who the fuck thought that was a good idea?”), what drew me in was the sense of love that imbues everything they do.

Toodles are a band that wear the influences on their sleeve (The Front Bottoms are obviously in there, and the honest story telling of The Smith Street Band and Ben Marwood turn up too) and you sense they’re doing this because they love those bands and love making music. Their punchy sound is driven by some excellent drumming and brought to life by catchy melodies and big hooks. I guarantee you’ll be tapping your foot after a few bars and dreaming of singing along, ripped off cider in a summer field by the first chorus.

The UK post-punk scene is strong right now and Sorority have the potential to join the movement. They’ve drawn comparisons to the Fat White Family, a fellow London band and the standard bearers of the scene, but their biting and sarcastic sound is more akin to Bristol bands like The St. Pierre Snake Invasion and Idles, two of the best and most-underrated heavy bands in the country.

What really caught my attention was the freedom they have, with conversational lyrics that switch from an almost spoken delivery to a belligerent growl, and a fierce rhythm section that can also incorporate surprisingly melodic moments. With only three songs on their Soundcloud, Sorority are still a band perfecting their sound, but they have boatloads of potential and sound like they’d be equal parts chaotic and cacophonic live. They aren’t the finished article yet, but there’s more than enough here to sink your teeth into.