I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks. So imagine my disappointment when I realised that not only had I missed the release of the new Crywank album but I was so late that a full review would be outdated. I was gutted.

Mancunian duo Crywank released ‘Wearing Beige On A Grey Day’ at the beginning of April and, sadly, it’s gone relatively unnoticed by media sites. Frankly, it’s a travesty. It’s a superb album, laced with snarky observations and haunting truths, as well as being exceptionally witty.

‘It Was A Swift Not A Swallow (I Never Listen)’ is, for me, the standout. A look back at a failed relationship and the self-reflective causes, it brims with somber nihilism. Vocalist James Clayton drips with strained emotion whilst a delicate melody underpins his performance. It’s brutally honest and leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. It’s this track that put this album well into my Album Of The Year shortlist.

If you like your folk punk dark, humorous and sincere, this is the album for you.

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.

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.

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…

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.

With the sun looking like it’s here to stay for longer than a short few days, it’s about time to dust off that summer playlist, pull on some shorts and fire up that barbecue. A staple of my summer playlist, aptly named ‘Suns Out, Puns Out’, is the latest single from Alchopop! trio Husky Loops, ‘When I Come Home’. I’m such a fan, I recently bought a ‘Jingle For Your Pet’ as part of their crowdfunding campaign so now my cat has her own theme song.

A far step from the thrashing industrial resonance laced through their first two EPs, ‘When I Come Home’ comes with a Mediterranean, dreamy chord progression. It’s delightfully juxtaposed with lyrics about anxiety and self-confidence and pre-emptive thoughts of conversations that you can’t spit out when the time comes. It’s a track that could be blasted through the speakers of a convertible, cruising through the streets of Europe or played through headphones, sat in the corner contemplatively. Because who says summer has to be a positive time? I prefer winter.

Pros and cons of living in Brighton: pro – new bands seem to form on a near weekly basis, always bringing something new to the game. Con – seagulls. I don’t trust them. Anything with eyes that beady are up to no good. Luckily, three-piece Something Leather are an example of the former.

Their second single, ‘Disappear On Me’ has sultry vocals akin to Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell and the fuzzing guitar of Slaves. However, the first thing that hits you is the electric organ. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard an electric organ in a song and didn’t instinctively turn it off. But there’s a sinister element that emanates from the organ that sucked me in. Harmonising with the guitar, it adds a layer of texture and grit that makes you feel warm and gooey inside. With the serene vocals countering the powerful drumming, it brings together a truly unique sound. It’s psychedelically bluesy in places and effortlessly punk in others. It’s an amalgamation of sounds that shouldn’t work together. But it does. Quirky, powerful, sassy. It’s so very Brighton.