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Tag: review

2016; My Favourite Records of the Year

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2016 was an incredible year for music. Anyone who says otherwise is either ill-informed or just plain ignorant. The same could be said of those who constantly bemoan the “death of the album”. Yes, while the mainstream may be consuming music in an ever more disposable fashion, the case has always been thus and when have we cared about what’s happening there anyways?

Records and albums never died or went anywhere, for those who’ve always bought music and supported the artists they enjoy, there is no “vinyl revival”, just a lot of over-expensive major label re-releases and longer waiting times at pressing plants. I could bang on about this shit at length but shall refrain from doing so in an effort to maintain the positive nature of this piece, which is to talk about my favourite records of the year.

I should establish some ground rules here; I’m going to talk about my favourite records of the year that I own in its physical format, thus disqualifying digital exclusives/streams and the like. So yeah, we’re talking physical vinyl records of all kinds here, not exclusively albums. The list will be alphabetical as opposed to ranked by preference. I think it’d also be imprudent to include any of the MTAT releases this year, although it goes without saying that I love them all, as that is pretty much the entire condition of whether we put something out or not.

That said, “Held In Merciful Light” by Clearer The Sky is a stunning record and one I’ve spent a lot of time with. Also, “ScreamerSongwriter” by Stoj Snak is just next level incredible; a folk punk record that transcends the genre’s often limiting boundaries, creating a kind of “stadium folk punk” sound as I described it to someone at the indie label market in Aberdeen earlier this year. Ye can check out MTAT 2016; A Year in Review here.

AJJ – “The Bible 2” LP (Side One Dummy)

America’s greatest living rock band have produced what I believe to be their masterwork with “The Bible 2”. Everything about this record speaks to me of the contemporary frustrated American experience as we transition into times of heightened political violence and paranoia. I have long admired Sean Bonnette as a lyricist and songwriter and truly believe that, great as “Christmas Island” was, this is his greatest work yet. Everyone should listen to this record.

Anxiety – S/T LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)

I’d read about these Glasgow punks a fair bit before I finally got a chance to see them play at the last Clocked Out show at Nice N Sleazy earlier this year and I was blown away, their intensity matched only be the uncontrollable rage that is Crawford and the troops. This eight track mini-LP is absolutely incredible; a convulsing nightmare-ish soundscape like Joy Division/Dead Kennedys/Butthole Surfers self-abusing in an anarcho punk squat. A thrilling, unsettling and unnerving experience, tremendous.

Boak – II 7″ (SuperFi Records / GrindPromotion)

I fucking love Boak and their set in The Firefly at BYAF X just absolutely stripped the paint from my face. This second seven inch (I got a blue one) manages to take everything that was awesome about the first one; the precision, intensity, rage; and hone it to even sharper perfection with four nuclear blasts of intelligent and articulate grindcore/powerviolence. I must’ve played this record fifty times over before something knocked it off the turntable. Absolutely essential, truly one of Scotland’s greatest bands.

The Cut Ups – “The Nerves” LP (Banquet Records)

Jon Shoe is one of my favourite people in punk rock and I’ve been a huge fan of The Cut Ups for over a decade now, so it’s no great surprise that their fourth record makes my list. “The Nerves” is arguably their most politically focussed album yet, a rallying cry reflected in the loving gravelly embrace of their finest collection of songs to date. Driving and anthemic, featuring keys from Franz Nicolay, this is The Cut Ups at their determined best. “Stay Obscure” may be closing track of the year too, tugged away on the old heartstrings. This record is a beacon of hope in an ever-expanding shit-storm of misery, isolation and exasperation; a reassuring cuddle from an old friend.

Dead To Me – “I Wanna Die In Los Angeles” 7″ (Fat Wreck)

Besides simply being an awesome collection of three songs on a seven inch, I feel this is an important record in a few different ways. Purely musically, this is solid Dead To Me gold (there was a gold pressing, I have the black) and we’ve waited eight years for new songs featuring both Jack Dalrymple and Chicken, but more importantly, this is a record that may have just saved a life. Alcohol and drug addiction is something people in the punk scene seem reluctant to talk about at times, despite the fact that it’s killed so many of our friends, in both punk and wider society. This record is about hitting rock bottom and recovery, with “Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable” being one of the most beautiful articulations of recovery I’ve ever identified with, in so many different ways. This 7″ also directly inspired me to start Sober Punks Supper Club. Thank you Dead To Me, stay strong troops.

Descendents – “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” (Epitaph)

Descendents are a band that I’ve loved for almost twenty years so there’s no way I wasn’t going to be stoked about their new record. Ever the pessimist, however, I didn’t have sky-high hopes but am thankful to be proven wrong as I think this is definitely up there amongst their strongest work, streets ahead of “Cool To Be You”, which itself contained some bangers. There ain’t a huge number of older punk bands who’ve released new records that rivals that of their back catalogue this year but this one is up there in my book. As for the controversy surrounding the title, I don’t think it’s a great title but listen to the fucking record and the picture will become a little clearer I’d hope.

Fall Of Messiah – “Empty Colors” 12″ EP (Holy Roar / I.Corrupt.Records)

Utterly stunning, expansive and harrowing yet serene post-rock/screamo from France. I was lucky enough that Shitgripper played with these troops in Edinburgh in April of this year and I was completely blown away by their dynamics, intensity and power. Largely instrumental but with infrequent intense outbursts of screaming, this EP is a deep weaved texture of math-rock meets brooding hardcore intensity. One of the records I found myself coming back to again and again over the year, finding more to love in it with every listen.

The Hotelier – “Goodness” LP (Tiny Engines)

This is probably overall my favourite record of the year and definitely the album I’ve listened to most in 2016, at least once a day since I put the download on my phone. I connect viscerally and emotionally with The Hotelier in a way that I don’t with the vast majority of modern emo/pop punk bands, in ways that I can’t fully explain, but this record is a testament to what I understand to be their experimental progressive worldview, like therapy expressed through poetry. The aforementioned who mourn the death of the album would do well to listen to the narrative of this record, each song a chapter. Their show in the church at Restless Natives Fest was as close I’ve come to religious observance this year, truly spellbinding stuff.

Hot Mass – “Nervous Tension” LP (Brassneck Records)

Glorious squally and noisy heads-down punk rock’n’roll goodness from these well-traveled punks from Swansea who blasted out their first full-length and reminded me of everything that is awesome about straight up UK DIY punk rock. These dudes have been in the game for a long time, in essential Welsh bands like Dividers and The Arteries, and this record exemplifies the lessons learned and lives shaped by those experiences. I grabbed this record from Jenks when they opened for The Menzingers earlier this year and I very much hope we’ll have them in the basement at some point in the new year. Great stuff, super smart coke-bottle clear vinyl too.

Medictation – “Warm Places” LP (Little Rocket)

With such pedigree, this record was always going to be something special but considering the fact that this is the final recorded work of the legendary Dickie Hammond, this album takes on an extra layer of emotional weight. Featuring members of Leatherface and The Sainte Catherines, “Warm Places” was always going to be a great punk album but knowing that Dickie is gone, his presence is felt with greater gravity, his loss with extra depth. When Dickie takes on the vocal for “Stalingrad”, it’s a difficult listen as he sings about having no hope left and drinking to oblivion, especially knowing the circumstances under which he died. It’s a testament to the greatness and fragility of the man himself and the friendship of his band mates and extended family that this record serves as fitting epitaph. The release was a labour of love from Little Rocket Records, a label formed specifically to release this LP. A beautiful, moving monument.

Muncie Girls – “From Caplan To Belsize” LP (Specialist Subject)

This Exeter three piece have absolutely knocked it out the park with their first full-length LP on Specialist Subject Records. With a title taken from Sylvia Plath, there are few ambiguities pertaining the feminist politics of this record, serving as an indictment of our current cultural situation. This is no mere soapbox politics, however; this record talks of basic human decency and action in times where many people lack these things. Indeed, it was in reference to this record, specifically the “Respect” video, that I had one of my more interesting interactions of the year with the “alt-right”. Without putting too fine a point on it, fuck that shit, this is an important and, sadly, required record, on top of being a mighty fine melodic rock/pop punk banger in and of itself.

The Murderburgers – “The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People” (Asian Man / Round Dog Records)

Once again raising the bar for Scottish punk rock, Fraser Murderburger has crafted his greatest piece of work to date and created what is undoubtedly one of the finest UK pop punk records ever released. Fraser and I have been friends for a long time now and I know exactly how much this record, and indeed the band, means to him. I couldn’t be more proud to see this record getting the love it so richly deserves. Progressing far beyond the bubblegum Ramonescore template of yore, this fourth LP sharpens the knives for a thrilling narrative ride of lacerating self-analysis with cinematic sound and minor chords tucked in amongst the hooks and sing-a-long choruses. While perhaps less immediate than previous work, the cuts are far deeper and this record fulfills the promises made on “These Are Only Problems”, is a more cohesive piece of work and their absolute best yet. Proud of you, pal.

Pears – “Green Star” (Fat Wreck)

This record is just a straight-up hardcore punk rock juggernaut from front to back, a relentless storm of energy and aggression laden with insidious hooks, a fuck-you-fight-me southern charm and a refreshing blast of punk rock noise that looks forward rather than wallowing I n nostalgia, as punk is often inclined to do. For me, Pears absolutely blew Bouncing Souls off the stage when they played at Stereo in Glasgow earlier this year, one of the most energetic and engaging shows I’ve seen on a bigger stage in some time. Super nice dudes too, although twenty quid for an LP is taking the piss a little I’d suggest (no slight on the band, I know how these things go). One of my favourite Fat Wreck releases in recent years.

Sheer Mag – III 7″ EP (Static Shock)

I confess I had never listened to Sheer Mag before this year but once I did so, I immediately ordered all three EPs from Static Shock Records. This band are fucking great, a classic soul-powered rock’n’roll band that transcends time and genre classification, political without being divisive and subversive without being alienating. Plus, most importantly, just plain fucking rocking, like The Bellrays/Thin Lizzy/Dirtbombs, these are some of the catchiest, most perfectly written rock songs you’re ever likely to hear. Few bands this year have got me as hyped up and hooked as Sheer Mag.

Wonk Unit – “Mr. Splashy” LP (TNS)

If the AJJ LP is the soundtrack of the death of the American Dream, then it logically follows to my mind that “Mr. Splashy” is the sound of dystopian London, and by extension the United Kingdom, in full collapse. Wonk Unit may be the premier clown princes of UK punk rock, but don’t let the black humour and abundant laughter fool you, there is deep intelligence and political anger contained within the poetry, art and channeled chaos that follows the Wonk family. “Mr. Splashy” is an engaging tale that follows a narrative story arc through the increasing bitterness of British life in which we are both increasingly lumped together (as “lefties”, as “punks”, as “radicals”, whatever the case may be) and further isolation from one another. When we look back in twenty years time, this will be one of the records we reflect upon when considering the state of UK punk in 2016. I was lucky enough to score one of the one hundred green copies too!

So there we go, there are my fifteen favourite records of the year. There have been loads of other great records released this year and I want to shout out Revenge of the Psychotronic Man, The Bennies, Kamikaze Girls, Womps, Departures, Pale Angels, G.L.O.S.S and Direct Hit! and Human Hands, all of whom released top quality records this year, plus the Asthenia/Akallabeth split 7″ that absolutely tore my face off (the Asthenia show was probably, at a push, my favourite MTAT show of the year too).

Can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2017, plus we’ll finally get the long-awaited Tragical History Tour LP. Bring it on!

 

 

 

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Review; Bangers – “Bird” LP (Specialist Subject)

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“Bird” is the third “proper” LP from Cornwall punks Bangers and is quite possibly their finest piece of work to date. Bangers have long been one of the most interesting bands in the country, eschewing trends and “coolness” in favour of being true to themselves and their inherent oddities as a punk rock band from one of the rural outbacks of the UK. In coming from the north-east of Scotland, I feel kinship there and it’s this refusal to engage with current trends and notions of “cool” that makes Bangers one of the most irresistible and joyous bands in UK punk.

The first thing that is clear as soon as opener “No!” blasts through the headphones is that the band’s first time in a “proper” recording studio has done nothing to temper their boisterousness and sense of fun. Instead, where some bands feel panicked in a “professional” environment, Bangers have turned this new-found luxury to their advantage and have created a record that is equal parts “pro” and unequivocally “punk”. While not recorded in a shed, the studio environment serves to enhance everything that we already love about the band; the hooks, the stories, the sing-a-longs; amplifying the size and further developing their sonic subtleties, of which there are many on this record.  Thankfully, the studio doesn’t wash Bangers clean of their grime.

“I Don’t Feel Like I’ll Ever Be Clean Again” is the first “single” taken from the record and it’s an impeccable slice of pop-punk that’s easy to picture on heavy rotation on MTV2 back in the day, like Sum 41 playing a Weezer cover. There’s a knowing sense of fun in the stomp and the chorus is glorious, made even better by the fact the song is literally about getting covered in shit. It’s classic songwriting married to irresistible hooks that will stick for days. I dare you not to sing along. The ever-present mischievousness remains, especially in the playfulness and lyricism of Roo’s surrealist storytelling, as evidenced in the likes of “Mannequin” and  “The Trousers of Time”. Even when exploring themes of worthlessness and emotional detachment, the sound is one of joyfully defiant.

“Oh, I feel like someone else’s satellite”.

There’s always been a part of Bangers that reminds me of the genius of Thin Lizzy; the subtle intricacies of Roo’s guitar lines, the knack for knocking out poetic sing-a-long classics with seeming ease, that driving bass sound, the sense of serious play; that classic rock influence shines through even more throughout this record. Hamish and Andrew are one of the tightest rhythm sections in UK punk, you don’t get to be eight years in and not be, but they bringing an elasticity that allows space for Roo’s creative guitar work to add depth and texture throughout the record. There’s a lot going on in the songs beyond simple melodic three-chord punk jams.

That’s not to say that the boys can’t get down and dirty (literally), they’ll never escape their grubby skate punk and hardcore roots, but there’s a sense of assured confidence in the band’s abilities. Bangers have never been a band afraid to take risks, as evidenced by the brilliant yet audacious “Mysterious Ways” project that was written, recorded and available to buy for only 48 hours. That’s not to say that this record is a radical sonic shift but takes all the best parts of Bangers, amplifies and refines then blends them together to create a delicious wholly satisfying whole; there is cohesion in sound and narrative; “everything will fall into place”.

Thematically, Bangers seem to be dealing with some shit, both literally and figuratively, with the the refrain of “I’m so tired of being someone else” from “Stressful Festival” speaking volumes; showing a band that are comfortable with their own identity as a unit but still wrestling individually and collectively with a sense of “self” and “place”. There is desperation, acceptance and hope amongst the metaphysical grappling and self-loathing.  There aren’t many bands that could write a song about a Russian American biochemist/author and turn it into a demented almost Devo-esque robotic punk stomper, as evidenced on “Asimov”. There is also a healthy slice of piss-taking, as “Vibrate” indicates with it’s cry of “I’mma break like a atom”. Science rarely possesses such swag.

Overall, this is Bangers’ most complete and assured body of work to date. “Bird” marries classic Bangers punk (scuzzy, gobby, brilliant) with the ever-present classic rock influence; the sound of a band unburdened by expectations allowing themselves to be themselves. Ironically, amidst identity struggles and trying to find their place in the world, Bangers seem to have found what it is they’ve been looking for and used it to create a record that is everything a fan could want from the band; thoughtful, driving, powerful, thought-provoking intelligent punk rock across the board. It’s also undoubtedly one of the best punk rock records of the year.

“It’s getting better, so much better than it was”.

Stream the record at Punknews.org here.

Buy the record from Specialist Subject Records here.

Bangers kick off their UK tour on Friday 8th August and play Glasgow on Wednesday 12th August with The Kimberly Steaks and Lost Limbs at Nice’n’Sleazy.

 

Zen and The Art of Roasterism

I’m going to be honest; I’ve been putting off writing this blog. I’ve lived almost 32 years inside my mind (and what feels like a hundred years in these bones) so I know intuitively that I’m a reactionary motherfucker at the best of times. Sobriety, however, has blessed me with what feels a little like clarity and for that I am grateful. The long and the short of it is that we roasters of Uniforms are down a drummer and our immediate plans have gone out of the window, so unfortunately we won’t be undertaking our European Tour this summer. In the spirit of keeping on keeping on, I am going to attempt to play as many acoustic shows as I can while we regroup and get our collective shit together.

As it stands, I am looking to play a bunch of shows during the first week that we were supposed to be in Europe. I’m playing the London show with The Slow Death, Leagues Apart, Break-Ups and heaps more on Saturday 21st June and will be playing in Exeter with my friend Jon “The Luddite” Curtis the next night. The only other show I have booked that week is the Venetian Love Triangle reunion show in Perth on Friday 27th June at The Green Room, so I am looking for a few shows on my way north throughout the week. There is talk of going to Wales on the Monday and/or Tuesday, so ideally I’d be looking for somewhere in or around Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds/Sheffield/Glasgow for the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. If anyone fancies helping me out at all, please get in touch. I’ll playing anywhere for a bus ticket and a place to crash!

London

Going back a couple of weeks, I’d like to take a moment to thank Kenny and everyone at Kage for allowing us to host the first ever DAE YER ANE CLUB night and the album launch for our friends in Robot Doctors. Jamie, Abbie and I had an absolute riot of a time DJing (we opened the set with Crass and ended with One Direction, in case you were wondering) and we certainly hope that all those present enjoyed themselves. Maxwell’s Dead celebrated their tenth birthday in style and their new shit is sounding top notch, like some sort of gypsy/acid punk NOFX. It is always a treat to see Davey Nolan perform and this time was no exception. Robot Doctors performed their new album “Time Will Tell” in its entirety so respect to them for playing the near 50 minute opus from front to back. The record is available now and comes recommended. Thanks to everyone who came and we look forward to seeing y’all at DAE YER ANE CLUB II, details of which will emerge over the next wee while.

I played a couple of shows this past weekend in place of the band and I must thank Tiny Lights and Dave of O’Messy Life for taking such good care of me in Newcastle and to everyone who came and packed out the show earlybells. The vegan chocolate cake was also delicious and the iced tea was only 99p so I was happy. This was only the third time that I’ve played in Newcastle and it seems that the scene is alive and well in the north-east. Tissue Culture are a great little intense ball of angst and Skull Puppies played as good of a first show that I’ve seen. Good Terms play lo-fi math-y emo/punk and are quality. I could see them fitting together nicely with Bonehouse. It was great also to see my old uni pals Mike and Steve. Their ambient black metal project Ahamkara is mind-mending, terrifying and soothing in equal measure, if such delights are your dish.

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Sunday saw Walk The Plank Fest IV take place in Edinburgh and was a thoroughly enjoyed experience that ably demonstrated all of the best things about the DIY punk rock community; diversity, inclusiveness, unity, respect. The range of acts was as wide as you’re likely to see anywhere in the world, from Nyla wielding her ukulele to Danny, Champion of Nothing blowing my mind with their hefty slabs of miserable post-rock and nihilistic hardcore. I hope everybody that watched enjoyed Adam’s screening of FILM YER ANE but I must apologise for not watching it with everyone. It is an incredible piece of work and it still truly blows my mind that anybody would want to make a film let alone watch one about something that we have done, but the experience of watching the film for the first (and thus far only) time in public was more than enough for me. Despite what ye may think, I am in no way a fan of listening to myself let alone seeing my stupid face on screen for the thick end of an hour!

My set earlier in the afternoon was one of the most positive solo shows I’ve ever played and I’d like to thank everyone who listened so attentively and sang along throughout. I’ve tried unsuccessfully on many occasions to articulate the ideal zen-like unconscious transcendent state that the complete immersion in music and “the moment” gives way to and it’s all too rare that these transitory moments of grace manifest themselves. Not the descend into mindless metaphysics, but to me it felt pretty special, like we were in it together and that “we can conquer anything”. I realise how massively self-indulgent and absurd this last paragraph reads but there you go, I’m just EYCing. Plus fuck you! 😉

Talking of emotional engagement, Lachance continue to get better and better with each show that they play. I’ve been friends with Barry and Ade for a very long time now and it fills my black heart with pride and joy to see these dudes, Barry specifically, using music as a tool for healing and bleeding their hearts out all over the floor. It’d all be for nothing if there weren’t any bangers, but by Christ there are (loathe though I am to admit it!). The band have just released the “Old Haunts” EP which was recorded and mixed entirely in Gerold’s basement and it is available now from both their own and the MTAT bandcamp pages for free/pay-what-you-want download. Any and all donations will then be in turn donated to SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) so if you’re downloading, please spare a buck or two for a very important (and underfunded) body.

Moving forward, we have a plenty of top quality shit coming up in Dundee, starting one week from Thursday with an absolute banger of a line-up that has been a bit of a last minute scramble but should be a BEEZER nonetheless. The Walking Targets have just released their debut full length called “Chasing Days” through Round Dog Records, the new label from Fraser Murderburger, and it is everything that they’ve been threatening to deliver over the last couple of years. They are currently out on the road with Get It Together (who last released the incredible “Perspectives” EP earlier this year) and will be winging their way around the UK over the next ten days. They are still looking to fill a couple of dates this weekend and Tuesday next week, so if anyone can help out with a show at super-short notice then please get in touch with the band or MTAT and we’ll put you in touch.

The Targets/GIT tour will be joined for one night only be the concurrent tour with Boycott The Baptist, an uncompromising and down-tuned dirty sludge/punk band from Leeds who visit Dundee for the first time on their way to Aberdoom and their equally blackened chums in Bastardised Workhorse. They come from City of Culture Hull and play low-slung blackened doom/stoner rock, like Neurosis and Black Flag stoned oot their nuts on Perthshire smackmud. I’ll be completing this eclectic visit to the Church of Doom with an opening sermon of acoustic cowpunk roasterism. It’s all happening next Thursday and it’s only four bucks a skull so I’d encourage everyone to come and get involved if ye can.

walking targets june

There is currently nothing on the cards for July but, as always, you count discount the possibility of something popping up. The new  Sink Alaska double A-side 7″ single and the Kaddish LP are both currently at the pressing plant so we hope to have full details of their upcoming release soon and we will likely spend a good portion of the month folding together record sleeves and lyric sheets. I also aim to record some new Tragical History Tour shit with my friend Ross Middlemiss at some point over the next few weeks, so it’s likely that these recordings will surface some time in July. I’m hoping to get out and play a few shows around the month too so once again, I’m open to any and all offers.

We have also just announced an EXCLUSIVE SCOTTISH SHOW from Chicago skate-punks COUNTERPUNCH who we are delighted to welcome to Dundee for the first time on Sunday 10th August. They are playing Rebellion Festival on the Saturday before coming to us on Sunday then heading south to support NOFX at their only UK show, so this will be your only chance to catch them up this way. They’ll be supporting their new “Bruises” LP which comes out at the start of August on Cyber Tracks Records, the label run by the legendary El Hefe himself.

counterpunch

They’ll be joined by a veritable all-star cast of Scottish punk rock talent in the form of Shatterhand, who will have wrapped up their European Tour, Last Of Us (featuring 3/4ths of skate punk legends PMX) and First Step To Failure from Glasgow who will be supporting their brand new album “When Best Friends Become Strangers”, which is released this month on Cold War Legacy Records. We’re doing advanced E-Tickets for this one, so you can save yourself a quid and get a free download of Make Yer Ane Comp IV by going here. Should be an absolute peach of a show.

Then just nine days later we have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Jeffrey Lewis and The Jrams from NYC, USA to Dundee for the very first time as part of their extensive European and UK tour which includes the Wickerman, Green Man, Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival and many more dates. They’ll be joined in Dundee by Seth Faergolzia, former front man of eccentric New York lo-fi art-punks Dufus, who shall be performing solo and acoustic.

This delightful package will be complimented by the first Dundee appearance since Book Yer Ane Fest VII of Scotland’s finest guitar-slinging romantic wordsmith Billy Liar and Dundee multi-instrumental soundscape popster Esperi for what should be a unique and engaging evening of art, story and song. You can also get E-Tickets for a fiver for this show here. Physical tickets are also available for this show from the wonderful Groucho’s Music in Dundee for £6 and there will be a limited number of tickets on the door for £7. There’s been a lot of interest about this show so here’s hoping it’s another intimate (and busy!) experience.  Poster coming soon too!

Right, that’s about enough for now. It seems as though I’ve over-compensated for my lack of words over the last month or so, so thanks for indulging me if you’ve made it this far through. There are many things to be excited about and we’ll be making announcements pertaining Book Yer Ane Fest VIII over the course of the next few months. Ye just have to keep on keeping on GED.

Finally, buy the new Bear Trade LP. They were fucking brilliant with Iron Chic in Edinburgh last month.

Cheers.

Review; Frown EP

frown logoFrown are a new emo/punk/post-hardcore four-piece from the east coast of Scotland. The band played their very first show at The Twa Tams in Perth on Friday 21st February alongside Last Of Us and The Recovery. Their self-titled and self-released EP that was released that same night provides us with four strong tracks of very well produced harmony-laden melodic rock bangers.  The CD itself comes in a printed cardboard sleeve with a full lyric sheet and artwork. The EP is also available for digital download.

Opening track “Cold Season” kicks off with the fizz and energy of early Idlewild with guitars popping off against each other and the big vocals of David Bryceland, not entirely dissimilar to those of John Harcus of PMX/Last Of Us. The song has a stomper of a chorus and has a touch of an epic metal feel to it, structurally, with it’s considered mid-section and guitar interplay, before the twin vocals kick back in and the song takes off towards its end.  Drummer Michael, formerly of Canadian punks Blackjacket, underpins the whole thing with some heavy floor tom work and well placed kicks. Much as Kev wouldn’t agree, there’s definitely a bit of the old Fleetwood Mac about some of the squealing guitars too 😉

“A Broken Man” kicks in with some Hot Water Music-esque guitar work before snapping into a more traditional rapid hardcore beat as the lead vocals of Kevin Thomson take flight. The song reminds me of bands like Daytrader if they’d been raised in Nowheresville, Scotland as opposed to the Atlantic coast. The song screams frustration and home town blues, delivered with passion and a sense of desperation. Morgan Nicol’s solid bass work holds the whole thing together with some heavy heads down riffage that brings some grit alongside the polish.

“American Werewolf” starts with more duelling guitars before settling down into the groove for the verse, once again led vocally by David Bryceland. The song starts off evoking the memory of Thrice before things break down to a Joy Division-like moment of introspection.  Then the hi-hats open up and guitars fly once again and the harmony-fuelled chorus soars.

The final track, “Under Hot Son” is my personal favourite. I think it features the meatiest of all the impressive guitar playing throughout the EP and the riff before the vocals kick in is just sublime. Vocally, there are echoes of The Killers at their sky-scraping euphoric best. There’s undeniable emotion in the guitars too, they seem to stir something in my black heart, like the first time I had my head scrambled by Balance and Composure.

Overall, this is a very impressive and promising first release from a band who sound like they know exactly what it is they are going for. The record is heavy without being forced, emotional without being contrived and accessible without being throwaway pop. This is assured, confident songwriting with a big sound and quality delivery that easily matches up to the biggest and best of modern post-hardcore/emo. With shades of early 00s pop-punk and early 90s grunge/metal, Frown are students of the game.

This EP is a banger and I’m very excited about their first Dundee show on Tuesday 15th April at Kage Nightclub alongside Failures’ Union (USA), Bedford Falls (WAL) and Lost Limbs.

failures union april

October MTAT Round-up; Shows, Releases, BYAF, More!

This last month or so has been possibly the busiest period in the history of Make-That-A-Take Records. We’ve hosted four absolutely banging shows over the last six weeks and have been working tirelessly in the background getting things ready for Book Yer Ane Fest VII and the releases that we’ve got coming out before the end of the year. The shows with Arliss Nancy, Mini-Fest with The Smith Street Band, Great Cynics, The Murderburgers and more as well as the last two shows with Elway and Direct Hit have been some of the most fun shows that I’ve ever been part of, so thank you so much to everyone involved, especially those who have come out and supported the shows and all the bands for being awesome. It’s nice to be reminded that punk rock can still reinvigorate and refresh! The Priceduifkes may also be the nicest dudes in punk rock.

I’ve gotten a little behind with regards to catching up with sorting all the videos I’ve taken at shows recently, but there are over 300 videos from across the years available for your viewing pleasure on Cowpunk TV.

Next up show-wise, we are very excited about the return of Franz Nicolay and the Bearing Torches tour with The Cut Ups on Tuesday 19th November at Kage Nightclub, Dundee. This tour is unique insofar as both Franz and The Cut Ups shall be performing two sets each night; one with The Cut Ups as Franz’s electric backing band and one with Franz performing keys with The Cut Ups, as he did on last year’s “Building Bridges. Starting Here” LP. This will be Franz’s first show in Dundee since absolutely tearing Cerberus apart last August and will also be the first time that Exeter’s finest have visited Dundee since way back at Book Yer Ane Fest IV.

franz cut ups

The really rather wonderful Broken Stories shall be opening the show with half an hour of their super-melodic uplifting fiddle-driven acoustic folk-punk that has grown from strength to strength over the course of the last six months. They are truly one of the most interesting and exciting acoustic acts that I’ve seen recently. Kev has always been a great songwriter but he seems to be coming into his own and gaining in confidence with each performance. This promises to be a unique and rewarding night all round. Advanced “Will Call” tickets are available here and come with a free instant download of the Broken Stories EP.

After that, we’re moving onto pre-BYAF at The Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh on Thursday 28th November with The Murderburgers, Billy Liar, UNIFORMS, The Walking Targets and Maxwell’s Dead and then BOOK YER ANE FEST VII itself, running from Friday 29th November through Sunday 1st December. I posted the BYAF Day and Venue splits in the blog a couple of weeks ago and you can find the full details of them right here.

poster safe tay

You can also get yourself an Earlybird Weekend Ticket for the princely sum of £20 right here. You’ll bag yourself an immediate download of BYAF VII; The Comp (Part One) when you do so too.

On the subject of Billy Liar and The Murderburgers, both are currently on tour around the USA promoting their new releases and making their way towards Florida to play Fest 12 in Gainesville. Da Boigas have just dropped the “These Are Only Problems” LP on Asian Man Records and will be playing at Loosey’s on Sunday night at 10.10pm. Billy Liar is also supporting his new “All I’ve Got” digital single that he’s released through MTAT, with the physical version to follow in time for BYAF. Billy is play The Lunchbox in Gainesville on Saturday at 7.20pm, just after our buddy Jeff Rowe. The wonderful Mark McCabe is also playing Fest, as are our pals in Bangers, Great Cynics, Leagues Apart and countless more. Hope everyone who is at Fest has an awesome time!

Our next vinyl release is the “ROASTER” 4-Way Split 10″ on REIGN IN BLOOD coloured wax featuring UNIFORMS, Sink Alaska, Question The Mark and The Walking Targets. Now, I should probably provide some context for this release; the songs from both Uniforms and QTM come from the split 7″ that was supposed to come out earlier this year. However, for reasons beyond our control, that record didn’t happen. As such, we thought it prudent to do what we could to get these songs out there and they are finally seeing the light of day as part of this split with two of Scotland’s most exciting new punk bands in the shape of Sink Alaska and The Walking Targets, both of whom are contributing brand new recordings. The record itself will be released and available at Book Yer Ane Fest VII with a stream and pre-order going live in the next couple of weeks. All four bands will be performing across the BYAF weekend too.

cover

The tracklisting is as such;

A1; UNIFORMS – “Keep On Keeping On”

A2; Sink Alaska – “Hitless Wonder”

A3; Question The Mark – “Whatgoesaroundcomesaround”

A4; The Walking Targets – “Count Me Out”

B1; The Walking Targets – “Self-Deprecating Evenings”

B2; Question The Mark – “Ignorance Is Piss”

B3; Sink Alaska – “Footnotes”

B4; UNIFORMS – “Father’s Day”

The record was mastered by Ross Middlemiss of Engineered Audio Recordings who has recorded such luminaries as Kaddish, Bonehouse, The Shithawks and heaps more. The release is a split project between the bands, MTAT and Team Beard Records and will come with download codes. Pre-orders will come with immediate downloads of the tracks in your preferred format and the physical records will follow at the end of November/start of December. These songs mean a lot to me personally so I’m very pleased that they’ll finally be available on record. We’ve also started doing some demos for our LP so keep your eyes peeled for any songs that may pop up from that.

cover

We are also very pleased to be involved in an international collaborative project between a bunch of European punk rock labels and seven of Sweden’s finest skate/punk/hardcore bands to release SWEDEN THE DEAL, a compilation featuring some of the best bands from the thriving scene. Officially set for a December 10th release, we will have some advanced physical copies at BYAF VII. The release features two brand new songs from Rebuke and From The Tracks, both of whom play BYAF alongside Sweet Empire and Antillectual from The Netherlands, meaning that the busy Euro-punk scene is well represented.

The bands; Kept, Trevolt, Rebuke, From The Tracks, Lapdog, Same Old Story, Broken Aris

The labels; Lockjaw Records, Riot Ska Records, TNS Records, Dead Lamb Records, Socks Off Collective, Less Talk More Rock Records, Make-That-A-Take Records.

Big thanks to all the bands and all the labels involved for having us be part of such an exciting international project. The CD will be available from distros across the continent, so make sure and keep your eyes peeled.

On the subject of distros, if anyone is interested in stocking any of the upcoming MTAT releases, please get in touch. Thanks also to Ryan and the dudes at Get Better Records from Greenville, South Carolina for their trades recently. We’ve got a bunch of new stuff in the distro from the likes of The Anchor, Rubrics, Warm Needles and a bunch more.  We have also just taken delivery of some copies of the Cleavers / The Kimberly Steaks split 7″ that is out through Fuzzkill Records. It’s an absolute banger and I’d strongly suggest picking one up. You can get your paws on it here and can check out the rest of the distro and merch stuff here. We’ve just got re-stocks of both black and white BURST COW shirts as well as some banging new MTAT HXC koozies printed by our pals At His And Her Prints.

Right, I think that’s about as much as my brain can handle at the moment. Thanks to everyone for their kind words yesterday for my birthday and to everyone involved in helping me celebrate at the weekend. It’s not so bad getting older, it just hurts a little more when you trip out of a van.

Review; Caves – “Betterment”

I must start with an apology to Bombed Out Records; I was sent this album for review purposes ages ago and while I’ve listened to the record innumerable times, I’ve totally slept on doing the actual review. For that I can make no real excuses other than the fact that I’m slack (as you may have noticed), so all apologies for the delay.

Caves are a three-piece punk rock band from Bristol and “Betterment” is their second full-length album and was released in July on CD by Bombed Out Records and on LP by Yo-Yo Records. Produced by Peter Miles (The Cut Ups, Crazy Arm, The King Blues), the sound of the record is massive and as far as nailing your colours to the flag goes, there’s no clearer manifesto than kicking off your album with the refrain of “I don’t care, I don’t care, go fuck yourself”. With that, we take off at light speed with fast, chugging guitars married to stomping drums and some nifty bass work, with a big fat sound that brings to mind The Breeders and such like.  There are plenty of “woahs” present, adding to the anthemic nature of the opening track, a theme that continues throughout the record.

caves tour poster

The relentlessness continues on “Build Against” with grungey riffage giving way to the refrain of “come back to what you know”, suggesting a comfort in familiarity and community. “Sometimes, sometimes leaving is hard” is a fitting lyrical theme for a band that tours as hard as Caves do; they are currently in the midst of a month-long European tour and have traversed the continent and the States many times. This is borne out in the evident tightness and dynamics; guitars are given room to breathe before things kick back in at a frenetic pace.

The “boy-girl” dual vocal attack brings to mind RVIVR, and while it may be somewhat the lazy comparison, if you can imagine the driving pop-punk of said band mixing with the melodic nuance of Lemuria, then I think you’re in the ballpark. The pace and infectious energy of the first half of the record is brought to a close by Lou’s solo acoustic rendition of the title track; a slow-building introspective number that sounds like it was recorded live in the middle of the night somewhere, like a punk rock lullaby with its cry of “I’ve never believed in you” that comes to an abrupt end before giving way to the sound of footsteps walking away.

We’re then met by the wail of mangled guitars before things kick back into high gear on the aptly named “Run” with the fist-in-the-air sing-a-long woahs and “running, running, running” refrain. The energy displayed is unrelenting and the record sails past in a blur of fast, infectious guitars, fuzzy bass runs and clattering drums with plenty four-on-the-floor tom action that often sounds on the edge of complete collapse before things are brought right back with one of many deep hooks prevalent throughout the record. This is a hard-rocking melodic punk record of the finest calibre, with only the closing track “Ender” breaching the three minute mark, but also a pop-punk record that manages to avoid the clichéd pitfalls on the genre, displaying great maturity, insightful subject matter and a grasp of dynamics far beyond the characteristic blur.

My personal favourite track may be “Babyccino”, the second last track on the album with its call of “Holding on, holding on strong” and its usual of what sounds like Hammond/B3 organ mixing with sustained octave chords before descending into chaos as it ends and moves into the final track of the record with its bass chords, pained call-and-response vocals and bass/guitar interplay. The familiar cry of “1,2,3,4” greets us once more before kicking into a fat bluesy stomper of a riff before picking up the pace and hurtling towards the end with a thumping instrumental jam that I can picture climaxing with thrown guitars and kicked over cymbal stands with the suitable scream of feedback. Brilliant.

caves edinburgh

All in, I’d say that “Betterment” is undoubtedly one of the finest UK punk rock records of the year and will rank highly when it comes to the ever-so-important end of year listings. Caves are a hard-working, hard-rocking pop-punk rock’n’roll band that have delivered a record full of passion, hooks and sing-a-long earworms that will nestle in your brain for days. They’re currently out on tour through Europe and will be back in the UK next weekend when they play some shows with Pure Graft. They’ll be at The Opium in Edinburgh on September 26 so make sure and pick up a copy of this record on vinyl at one of the shows. You can also get the album as a pay-what-you-want download from their bandcamp page (or the link above).

Inspiring stuff.

Live; Ghost Mice (USA) / Billy Liar / Turtle Lamone / Broken Stories / Nyla – Dundee

One of the many beautiful things about acoustic shows is that they require very little in the way of setting up; sort the PA, plug in and go. This is just as well as I was running late from work and didn’t get to Cerberus until well after 7pm, with doors opening at half past. Luckily, MTAT is a slick team of crack professionals and Jonny Domino was on point to have everything good to go. I bumped into he, the Ghost Mice ensemble and the esteemed Turtle Lamone on the hunt for chips and noodles as I dragged my carcass up towards the bar.

The place was pretty busy by the time that Nyla kicked things off just before 8 o’clock. Armed with only a ukulele for protection, Nyla played a witty set of charmingly simple folk songs laced with politics, dealt with in a (mostly) sarcastic manner, covered a certain Glasgow hardcore band and set the “anti-folk” tone for the evening. As Pet Piranha mentioned in his blog, the Juno soundtrack could be accused of bringing Kimya Dawson-esque songwriting into the mainstream and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to imagine Nyla’s songs sitting comfortably alongside them.

Broken Stories were up next and absolutely killed it. The two piece have only been together for six months but their confidence not only in their performances but in their songs has definitely grown. Kevin Thomson is a great songwriter and an outstanding vocalist, trading melodies with Gillian’s razor-sharp yet sometimes sombre violin. Playing all of the songs from their very well received EP and a couple of new songs, Broken Stories ripped through their set and had everyone clapping and stomping along. Falling somewhere in the middle ground between the likes of Chuck Ragan, Flogging Molly and perhaps some more classic rock songwriting influences (Thin Lizzy pops to mind), Broken Stories take the often formulaic approach to acoustic punk and lace it with speed, dynamics and unquestionable passion. A very impressive performance all round.

Our good friend Turtle Lamone plugged in his piano and was next to take to the floor. Raph is one of the good souls of punk rock and he’s been on the road for the last couple of weeks, dragging his piano around the UK playing pubs, clubs and house shows all around the country and promoting the new “Unlikely Friends” EP. Although the EP features full band on songs tracks, Raph was playing solo on the tour and definitely appears to have grown more comfortable with the role of lone performer. Raph has a natural charm and this is reflected in his disarmingly honest song-craft; minor chords, haunting melodies and conversational lyricism dealing with the everyday problems and attitudes that we all face.  I sit cross-legged right at the front watching Raph and was delighted when he covered Descendents, as was everyone else in attendance. I’d recommend getting your hands on the EP, the same with everyone else for that matter.

The force of nature that is Billy Liar was up next and he was in full-blast fired-up Billy mode, which is perhaps one of my favourite sides of the boy. There are few solo performers who can captivate the attention of a noisy pub full of punks and metalheads, but Billy Liar is most certainly one of them. He’ll also let you know how obnoxious you are being if you’re doing your best to shout over the performers to the detriment of everyone else who is trying to pay attention.

Talking of obnoxiousness; there was a kid on the MTAT facebook page asking what we meant by “suggested donation”. I duly explained that we aimed to be inclusive and that we weren’t going to deny anybody who wanted to come to the show the opportunity to do so if they couldn’t afford it. It’s something many people have done before and it has always worked a charm. People who know what the DIY scene is all about will (mostly) always appreciate the effort that goes into putting these things together and are more than happy to put a couple of bucks into the pint glass. Anyways, the guy then asked “what if I choose to pay nothing?”. I again explained that that’s cool, but if he spent the rest of the night buying drinks at the bar, then that made him a bit suspicious and a bit of a dick. As it turns out, one dude came to the door and when I asked him if he’d like to make a donation, he said “nah, I’ve only got £20 booze money”. Well, that’s not too cool and it’s even more irritating when you spend that £20 being a loud-ass goof when people are trying to play. Just saying, ken?

All of this would be academic, however, if it weren’t for the music itself. Billy has grown from being a scruffy punk kid into one of the most powerful singer/songwriters that Scotland has produced in years. I know these words sound hyperbolic, but I believe them to be true as I’ve witnessed this evolution with my own eyes. From earlier works like “It Starts Here” with all their fist-pumping, adrenaline-charged chant along hooks to the more reflective, introspective and melancholic cuts from the “Ghosts Of Punk Rock” EP, Billy’s musical palette has expanded considerably, most notably on his upcoming countrified single. Whilst comfortable on huge festival stages, I think Billy is at his most acidic when faced with a rammed pub of rowdy punks, which is exactly what Monday night was and he delivered yet again, in spades.

If the rowdiness of the evening grew as it progressed (possibly in direct proportion to the amount of booze consumed by so many people in such a small space), then things really peaked with the appearance of Ghost Mice. Newly expanded to a three-piece to include guitar, fiddle and mandolin, the band have been on the road for nine weeks and have toured the length and breadth of Europe. Showing the sort of intimate musical understanding that comes only from a long time spent together on the road, Ghost Mice played songs stretching across the entirety of their sizeable discography. It was great to hear some of the songs from “All We Got Is Each Other” LP, having recently been gripped by Chris Clavin’s “Free Pizza For Life” book. The book and the LP are complimentary of one another, are highly moving and come highly recommended.

Of all the bands that we’ve put on across the years, it’s perhaps somewhat fitting that Ghost Mice were the first acoustic show to attract the attention of the constabulary. The sight of two of Tayside’s finest entering a small pub of punks singing along on a Monday night wasn’t exactly the image that we were expecting, but there is definitely something amusing about having noise complaints about an acoustic band. Regardless, once they had paid us their first visit, Ghost Mice battled on by simply unplugging their instruments and playing 100% acoustic or “the way we were born to do it”, as Chris put. As curfew crept up and the police approached for their second visit of the evening, Ghost Mice wrapped things up the only way they could; by jamming “Up The Punx” full blast.

A quality show all in, so thank you very much to everyone who came out and made it one of the wilder Monday night acoustic shows that we’ve had for some time. Huge thanks also to everyone for playing and being so engaging throughout. It’s very heartening to have such a diverse bill be so well received and afforded the same levels of respect by a rowdy crowd, some folks’ banter notwithstanding! I’ll have some more videos from the show on Cowpunk TV over the next couple of weeks. I’ve got quite the backlog so I’d probably best get the finger out.

Live; Nothington (USA) / Bonehouse / Shatterhand / Andy Chainsaw – Edinburgh

Nothington in Edinburgh

Walk The Plank Promotions hosted their second show of a very busy weekend on Sunday night at The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh which saw San Francisco punks Nothington return to Scotland for the first time in over three years. “Borrowed Time”, their last LP, is one of my very favourite punk records thus far this decade and I hadn’t seen them since Fest 10, so I was very excited. Papa D and Jonny Domino picked Abbie and I up around half 5 and we made our way to the capital. We met up with Jamie and found our recommended-by-Boab falafel shop closed, so settled on the old favourite that is The City Cafe; always a good choice for pre-show scran. Once finished, we headed round to The Banshee (my mozzarella, tomato and basil bloomer was excellent btw).

Our good friend Andy Chainsaw opened the show playing purely acoustic on the floor to the side of the stage and had (I think) already played a couple of songs before we appeared, but we arrived in time to catch the majority of his set. Andy was in full voice and belted out his grizzled punk tales of woe with ever-present passion and gusto that seems to grow with each performance. Nervousness may masquerade as self-deprecating humour at times and ending on a new song then forgetting how it goes isn’t the ideal, but Andy pulled it off with his usual charm and provided a warm, fitting opening to a mixed bill in the cosy confines of The Banshee. Andy will be touring later in the year so keep yo peepers peeled. You can get the “High Windows and Low Tides” EP for free from here.

Next up were those nutters in Shatterhand who were wrapping up a weekender after playing with No Contest and Sink Alaska in Stirling on Friday night then running the first all-ages matinee show in Falkirk on Saturday (check out Tub Thumper Promotions) and they were on fire. Seriously, Shatterhand exhibit more passion and energy than most bands half their age, marrying gobby snarled punk rock with incredible guitar-work and some of the wildest, hardest drumming you’re ear likely to see. Honestly, Brian “Big Baby” Hastings is an absolute beast on the kit, sitting in tight with the thumping running bass underpinning the whole thing. In between booze-fuelled bangers like “Brewdog Nights” and “The Tenpercenters”, Shatterhand are also a fiercely independent yet thoughtful entity, something often missed, as evidenced by the discussion and subsequent reaction to the song “Paradigm Shift”. Rather than regurgitate or paraphrase, here’s what the guys had to say about it (from their facebook);

shatterhand tattoo

“Mike’s Tattoo – The words are from our song “Paradigm Shift” which was written with a genuine positive intent and to show support with a friend struggling with suicide issues. It is intended to reach people in kindness and we hope that people can talk openly about the subject without judgement and know that they are not alone when they are at their darkest moments. If you’re at one of our gigs and we try to start a discussion about suicide before playing this song it is in no way intended to upset or offend, but rather to bring it into the open and to just talk about it like rational human beings who all have failings, limitations and face their demons every day and we hope it gives the song some context. Respect and Unity!”

A punk rock show isn’t a class room just as a stage or floor isn’t a pulpit, but I guess the ideal is that the best parts of punk rock are about the open exchange of ideas, safe spaces for all and tolerance. The key word there is “ideal”; if you’re going to be tolerant of ideas that you support, you have to be prepared to be tolerant of those ideas that you don’t support. Freedom of expression means freedom of expression for all. Punk rock should mean freedom across the board. I don’t know exactly what I’m getting at (well, I do, I’m just not articulating my thoughts very well), but I can only describe my perception of an atmosphere; there were some WEIRD VIBES BRO. Regardless, Shatterhand were rocking and Dave is a wizard of a guitarist and was playing slide with a Brewdog bottle at one point. Rare!

The Banshee was getting progressively busier as the evening rolled on and the place was pretty much packed by the time Bonehouse hit the floor. While they may have initially seemed a strange choice of support for a gruff punk show, there is no denying that Bonehouse are one of the finest bands in the country and their blend of intricate guitar work, soaring harmonies and paint-stripping screamo vocals really hit the spot, as always. Vocalist Dave was apologetic about his vocals, complaining of a sore throat (full sympathy from this guy) but he needn’t have been; the band were tight (as always), with drummer Iain laying the strongest foundation you could hope for with his solid, technical and progressive style. He makes it look so easy too. This was another exemplary performance from the lads and watching Sean writhe and wriggle whilst the band belt out the three-way vocals is always a treat. A whole room singing along with “The Bonehouse Summer Jam” and it’s hook of “In spite of it all she’s unable to tell the time” is always a goosebumps-inducing moment, this night being no exception. The crowd was increasing in rowdiness by the end of their set and I’d say it was a solid victory across the board.

Bonehouse are heading out on tour in Europe this summer with Brighter Arrows from Chicago this summer and will also be dropping a four-way split with Canadian punks Polina and Todos Caeran and Dundee heroes Kaddish, so keep your eyes peeled for that dropping on various labels in the next couple of months.

The place was rammed by the time Nothington arrived to blast us with their road-worn tales of loneliness, isolation, heartbreak and hope with a bunch of excited punks congregating at the front (okay; Jonny, Jamie and I on our side!) and certain members of the crowd were more drunk than others. Nothington have been in Europe for almost a month now and the band have that special “tour tightness” and didn’t miss a beat, although it was clear that the guys were a little road weary and are on the home stretch of tour. You couldn’t tell in their performance though as they ripped through their set with the same drive and enthusiasm of a band that has toured the world over and played the main stage at Groezrock a couple of weeks ago. It’s that kind of dedication that is inspiring; it doesn’t matter if it’s in front of thousands of people at a festival or a dark room in Edinburgh in front of sixty people on a Sunday night; the delivery is the same. That ethic is something a lot of people could learn from. Anyway, I spent the first half of the set pretty much screaming along with Chris and pumping my fist in his face as the band belted through the likes of “The Escapist” (a very close personal favourite song of mine) “I Should Stay” and the banger that is “Where I Stand” with it’s incredible woah’s and Leatherface-esque riffage from their debut LP “All In”. I’m pretty bad at remembering set lists as I’m usually singing along, this case being no exception.

The band played a good mix of material from their discography and were inspiring sing-a-longs and fists in the air from the start. The crowd were getting pretty rowdy and there was plenty of dancing, rocking out and pushing and shoving going on. I moved to the back as I wanted to film a little bit although it’s so dark in The Banshee at times that’s it’s difficult to see a thing at times. It also wasn’t ideal that the lights kept cutting out at various moments. Still, it all added to the atmosphere and the rowdiness, which soon got a little bit out of hand. Obviously everyone wants to have the best time at shows and enjoy themselves, but people also need to posses some self-awareness. I’m not going to tell people how to act and how to behave, but people need to be accountable for their own actions; there were a lot of elbows being thrown around at the front with some people acting like roasters and at one point it all kicked off and a pull apart happened, with people being knocked over, pushed around and escorted to the doors. Abbie got stomped on by some roaster and covered in beer and I had to pick two folk up off the floor at the door; not exactly what you’re looking for when watching one of your favourite bands. As I mentioned before, punk rock is not a church or a primary school, but there’s a line when it comes to acceptable behaviour and levels of drunken roasterism at shows. Far be it for me to call anybody on this as I’ve been that dick many times, but it was an unfortunate end to what had been an amazing show. It’s also not the first time that this has happened with these particular individuals. Between the rukus in the crowd and people getting up in the band’s collective faces, there was definitely a bit of an unsavoury atmosphere and this was reflected when the band stopped playing during the fracas at the front/at the door. Still, these things happen and it shouldn’t be allowed to tarnish the night as a whole, even if it did take the shine off things a little bit.

After the show was over, we spent some time catching up with our friends Ryan Weber of Spanish Gamble / Boneshakers fame who was doing merch on the tour and Adam Bilboa who was driving. I acquired the new Nothington / Paper Arms 7″ which is a little cracker released on Cargo Records in Europe and features a particularly amusing answering machine message from a certain Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads. I also managed to blag a shirt with the last of the money in my pocket before we packed up and hit the road. It was good to see so many people venturing out late on a Sunday, even if more than half of the crowd were Dundee cowpunks. Thanks to Raph for putting the show together. Raph, under his Turtle Lamone guise, is touring the UK next month and is also putting on some killer shows across the summer, the next of which being Spoonboy with Delay, Martha, Joe Listen and Turtle Lamone (record release show!) on June 5th. All in, this was a great show with a fair few talking points and, while perhaps not the greatest display of togetherness and unity our little scene has ever exhibited, it’s good to know that there are still some things that can stoke the fires of passion and discontent; something to which Nothington are pretty much the perfect soundtrack.

Review; Cleavers – “I Can’t Wait Around For You/Give Up” 7″

cleavers 7 inch cover

I ordered the new Cleavers 7″ from Dada Tunes on Monday afternoon and it dropped through my letter box this morning. I had ordered the record/shirt bundle; the record itself is beautifully packaged in classic Wolf Mask style with lyric sheet, inner sleeve and sticker all wrapped up in a heavy gauge plastic cover. Purchase of the record also comes with instant digital download and features two bonus tracks. All for a tenner. Top quality all round with a rapid turnaround, as is standard from these guys.

Most importantly, however, is the music. This 7″ is a natural progression from last year’s “Life Is Shit” record and shows a more reflective and subtle side to the Cleavers lexicon whilst retaining their characteristic gleeful scuzzy punk stomp. This record tells a tale of life (a relationship) being short and messy with no time for taking things slow, echoed by the frantic Fucked Up meets Buzzcocks swagger of the verses before breaking into a full-blown pop-rock surf harmony-laden chorus with the simple desperate cry of “I can’t wait around for you”. The song moves into it’s second act with the middle before coming back round to the super-hooky chorus before things hurtle on towards the feedback drenched end.  Stirring stuff indeed.

cleavers merch

If side A was the sound of the impassioned sparks of argument and frustration, then “Give Up” is the moment of desperation when you finally snap and fuck it all. Starting out with some pure Pixies-worship, this is the sound of slacker punk admitting it’s own futility with a scream of “what’s the point in even waking up?”. Guitars are sharp yet sparse and the distorted bass moves things along with a Breeders-esque resignation. The story the moves into it’s fourth and final act, breaking down before building up into pure 80s hardcore two-step territory, then coming round full circle and ending up back where we started.

All in, this is a cracking little record on a format that serves Cleavers so well. They’ve created the audio equivalent of a bitter-sweet short story; chaotic yet controlled, expansive yet concise. Sonically, Cleavers acknowledge their past yet continue to evolve, experimenting and expanding their creative pallet. This is reflected in the choice of cover for the bonus tracks on the download; Joy Division’s doomed classic “Transmission”. Being a Joy Division mark, I remember being trepidatious upon seeing them play it live for the first time, but Cleavers once again stamp their own identity on the song whilst being reverent to the original.  A brave choice and one for which they should be applauded. Rounding out the release is a live version for “I Can’t Wait Around For You” which highlights just how much these guys kill it live. Go see them when you can.

The record is available now from Dada Tunes and comes highly recommended. Keep your eyes on the Cleavers page as they’ll have a shitload of stuff coming up across the summer. The band will play at our first show in Edinburgh next week at The Banshee Labyrinth with Canadian punks Fist City, The Kimberly Steaks and FUCK! (It’s Pronounced Shit!) so if you’re at the show, make sure and pick up a copy of this record. You can also get both this record and the “Life Is Shit” 7″ for £6 here. Don’t be a mook and miss out.

Make-That-A-Take Shows – 2012 in Review

First, apologies for the lack of ramblings recently. I haven’t been at my most prodigious due to being up to my eyeballs with everything else, much like everyone else. I’ve been working like fuck since BYAF, including eight days straight over Christmas, and have been working away trying to get things sorted for the upcoming UNIFORMS tour and releases. You know, the fun stuff! However, none of that is of concern for this blog.

What I want to do is have a look back at the shows that the Make-That-A-Take collective put on this year. Personally, I think they’ve been some of our best yet and that the year as a whole has been pretty incredible. I’d like to thank Neil, Barry, Gain, Kenny, Jonny, Jamie, Abbie and Dave from Cerberus for all the hard work that they’ve put in this year. This whole cavalcade of idiocy wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for us all pulling together. “Scenes” can be fragile and fickle beasts, but none if it would happen if it wasn’t for the people who share the same passions for punk rock and DIY as we do; the bands that play, the people who come out to the shows, love the music, buy the merch, etc. That sense of togetherness is, to my mind, what makes it all worthwhile.

Our first show of 2012 was actually in Perth, at The Green Room. It was the only show that we put on there this year, but it was a pretty fucking good one with Bonehouse, UNIFORMS and the sadly now defunct Drug Couple. We’re putting on another show in Perth on Saturday 9th February 2012 at The Corinna. There’ll be noise made about that one in the very near future.

Next up was Dead To Me in Dundee. This was something that we were all very much looking forward to as they are a band that we all collectively love and, as silly as it may be, we were all very excited to be hosting our first ever Fat Wreck Chords band. It also helps that Chicken, Sam and the boys are amongst the nicest fellas that we’ve ever met in punk rock and they tore Kage apart. It’s a pretty rare thing to see so many bodies in one place going absolutely mental, and it was a rare old treat indeed. The Human Project from Leeds smashed it, and we roasters in Uniforms played reasonably. Maxwell’s Dead were quality as well and this was probably the show that made me want to work with them more. Such a good show and massive thanks to everyone who came out to the show. We could have suffered badly if this show had been a disaster, so huge credit to the good taste of the Scottish punks!

We then threw together a somewhat last minute show for our friends in ONSIND at what was only one of a few acoustic shows we put on in 2012, and the only show that we did at Drouthy Neebors. ONSIND are a wonderful band and it was a pleasure to have them back up here and they were joined by the equally charming Eric Ayotte, who definitely made a solid impression and more than a few friends. Davey Nolan was his usual impeccable self and treated us to his charismatic blend of rootsy folk and rocky goodness, while I played a silly set and the marvellous Andy Chainsaw (two-pint) growled at people in the most charming way imaginable. Unfortunately, this is one of a few shows this year where I forgot my camera!

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Two days after that, it was The Murderburgers, we roasters in Uniforms, the now deceased The Day I Snapped and the first Dundee show in around five years from The Kimberly Steaks. This show reminded me of the good old days of the “Pre-Entropy Punk Show” where a whole bunch of like-minded idiots would get together at The Balcony before heading along to Kage for Entropy, except this time round the show was in the club and the club night thereafter was Warped! Still, it’s not often that we put on “all local” (ie, non-touring) shows these days, so it’s always a nice little change of pace. That and the fact that all the bands rule, right? I was mostly likely pretty steaming before I had to bolt for the last train home.

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Our next show was supposed to be more of a celebration of Uniforms releasing our EP and heading out on tour with Cobra Skulls. Instead it took more of the form of a wake, as it was the first time that I’d seen all of my friends in one place after the death of my father and the first time that we’d played together as a band since his death. We decided that we wouldn’t film any of the bands playing out of respect, but I can say with all sincerity that this was one of the most emotional and heartfelt shows that I’ve ever been involved in. It means so much to me that my friends in The Shithawks and Drug Couple were willing to play at such an important event, and even more so that Barry and Gain played what was one of the most heartbreaking 15 Minutes sets that I’ve ever seen. With my sister and mother in attendance along with 100 or so friends, I struggled to keep my shit together. I think I pulled it off. Thank you to each and every person that came out that night, it means more than you could know.

Next up was Direct Hit! and The Priceduifkes from Belgium with support from Maxwell’s Dead and Third Floor Incident. I think we were somewhere in California at this time, so obviously none of the Uniforms Roaster Originals were present, but the other guys did a great job of making everything ran smoothly in our absence. To say that we were gutted to have missed Direct Hit would be somewhat of an understatement, but them’s the breaks and we can’t really complain as we were losing our minds of the west coast. Thankfully, some video evidence of this event remains, thanks to Graham of No Aims, No Desires.

Our first show after getting back from America was the magnificent All Eyes West from Chicago. We had met these guys at Crash Doubt Festival in Lincoln the previous week although we didn’t get to see them play, so we were excited to finally get a chance to do so. They certainly didn’t disappoint and delivered a powerful set of Husker Du inspired fuzzy nostalgic noisy discordant pop-punk and were one of my favourite bands I saw this year. They were supported by the always gargantuan titans that are Kaddish, who just seem to get more and more intense with every show that they place. Min Diesel from Aberdeen brought their twisted noise pop and The Kimberly Steaks rattled through approximately fifteen minutes of grizzled punk rock anthems to open the show. As far as coherent bills go, I reckon this was one of our finest line-ups of the year.

In July, we hosted our Summer Punk Rock party, which came about as we had two tours crossing over on the same night. Six band bills are usually a bit much for my liking, but Kenny was happy to let us have the run of Kage once again, and for that we are most grateful. Our new pals MüG from London opened the show and treated us to their rapid Descendents/Bad Religion-esque SoCal style punk rock, with their uniquely dry English sense of humour. They are a great bunch of guys and one of those bands that passionately wear their influences on their sleeves. I’d definitely recommend checking them out. The Day I Snapped were up next and this ended up being the last MTAT show that they’d play, as they broke up not long after their UK tour with MüG.

Bear Trade then proved why they are one of the finest bands in UK punk rock. It’d be really difficult for these guys to be anything less than amazing considering the pedigree of their previous bands, including the likes of Blocko and The Mercury League. Plus they feature the mighty Lloyd Chambers and arguably the nicest man in punk rock in the form of Greg Robson. A great band for sure and well worth keeping an eye on. They’ll be on tour with Iron Chic next year so keep your eyes peeled. We played next and rattled through everything far too fast, something we tend to do when playing in Dundee, for reasons I’ve yet to fathom. It probably has something to do with running the shows, getting drunk and playing. There’s never a reason not to party, right?

Fights and Fires from Worcester then took the stage and ripped it up in their Cancer Bats/The Bronx style. These guys are one of the hardest working bands in the UK and have travelled all over Europe this year and it showed in their tightness that they’d just returned from a mammoth tour. Wrapping things up was our brothers in Shields Up. We’ve hosted Shields many times but looking back on it, there is a twinge of sadness about this show as it turned out to be the last show that they’d played for us before their untimely demise in December this year. Whatever the reasons for their break up, it’s a fact that Scotland has lost one of her finest hardcore bands and they will be sorely missed. I just wish that we’d managed to do one more show together. Check out the final EP here as it’s fucking incredible. RIP Shields Up.

August saw the collective host the inimitable Franz Nicolay, supported by the wonderful Algernon Doll, Billy Liar and Davey Nolan. Jamie and I, however, made the decision that we simply had to go and see Social Distortion play Scotland for the first time ever on the same night at The Garage in Glasgow. Abbie had bought the tickets for us long before we had booked Franz and I didn’t realise my error until just a couple of weeks before. Whether or not we made the correct decision is a subject for debate, but I have to confess that I fulfilled one of my lifetime’s ambitions by doing so. By all accounts the Franz show was something pretty special and I’m pretty gutted that we missed it, but we make our decisions and we stand by them! Hopefully we’ll have Franz back over soon and I can explain my choice to him in person. I’m confident that he’ll understand.

Two days after that, we hosted what was expected to be another tight squeeze of a six band bill, but unfortunately Defiance, Ohio were denied entry to Europe for visa reasons so didn’t get to play any of their scheduled tour dates, which is undeniably a massive bummer. However, the show must go on and we played host to a joint effort with GW and welcomed Everyone Everywhere from Pennsylvania alongside their touring buddies Chalk Talk from Massachusetts, ably supported by Kaddish, Bonehouse and us roasters from Uniforms who opened the show. This show was filmed for a forthcoming documentary by Pet Piranha Records, so I didn’t get any live footage from the show, but Abbie did film a new Uniforms song on her mobile phone. All the bands were amazing but I have to say that I think Chalk Talk stole the show. This was another busy night in Kage and once again I’d like to thank everyone for their support as there’s no way that we could do these sort of shows if people weren’t willing to come out, take a punt and put their faith in us to put on a good show, so thanks again everyone!

Another last minute acoustic show followed in September when we played host to Jeff Rowe from Boston. We had originally been in talks to bring Jeff up to Dundee but then it appeared that the routing of the tour just wouldn’t allow for a visit. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), a bunch of Jeff’s scheduled tour dates fell through and we ended up hooking up at pretty much the very last minute. I’m so thankful that we did as the show at Cerberus was one of the most special and intimate of the year. I opened the show in my Tragical History Tour guise, one of the very few acoustic shows that I played this year, and was followed by the supremely talented Mark McCabe and Grant George of The Barents Sea. It’s always a pleasure to have such a talented group of musicians and such a quiet and attentive audience in the cosy confines of any venue, although being at Cerberus seems to make these occasions all the sweeter. Jeff is one of the nicest guys you could possibly hope to meet and any night that you get to spend in the company of Gunner Records‘ tour manager Christian is always going to be a special treat. Hurry back guys, we can’t wait to see you again.

Ten days after the Jeff Rowe show we hosted what was probably Abbie’s favourite show of the year in the form of The Blacklist Royals from Nashville, Tennessee. These southern boys play gritty country-inflected melodic punk rock not a million miles removed from the likes of The Gaslight Anthem and Riverboat Gamblers. They were also some of the most polite boys that we’ve ever put on and had impeccable manners when they came to stay in our little flat in Perth after the show. Once again, Maxwell’s Dead provided the main support and were absolutely hilarious as Russell was clearly burst and is one funny motherfucker. The Shithawks let it all hang loose and blew everyone’s minds whilst The Kimberly Steaks once again dropped in briefly to say hello. This time they were even kind enough to drop in a Jawbreaker cover. I love those boys. Abbie was especially stoked when we got home and Blacklist’s merch man Bryson started dropping stories about how he used to date Taylor Swift in high school. I was more interested in the story of how her father bought one hundred thousand copies of her debut record in order to secure her record deal. I’m also a party pooper as I sent everyone to bed at 3am. To be fair, there is nothing more punk rock than feeding Americans green tea in the early hours. Blacklist also furnished us with heaps of merch including a 7″ flexi-disc that is quite possibly the most bizarre piece of vinyl that I own.

Our final “show” show of the year was another emotional one (seems to have been a few of those this year) from Elway. We’ve met the guys in Elway before whilst over at Fest in Gainesville and they’d experienced some particularly harsh luck whilst on their European tour. Not only were they detained by corrupt police in Russia, they also had over three thousand dollars worth of merch stolen in Germany. Why anyone would want to steal the merch of an obscure punk band, I have no idea but that’s exactly what happened. As such, Barry The Kydd instigated a donation campaign and thanks to the generosity of our community and the hard work of The Doctor at TeesOnTap.com, we were able to donate a sizeable amount of shirts for the guys to sell as they made their way back through Europe before going home.

Trails from England opened the show as they needed to fill in a tour date and I’m very glad that they did as not only did they fucking rip with their groove-laden tech-punk madness, frontman Sam also bailed me out with a ready half-a-step-down-tuned guitar when I broke a string during our frenetic Uniforms set. Leagues Apart were on tour with Elway and it was great to finally get those guys up in Dundee after crossing paths in various ways, shapes and forms across the years. They are a great band and an even nicer bunch of guys. It seems they especially enjoyed getting acquainted with Buckfast, something which is pretty much mandatory when accommodating travelling bands who have never been up this way before. Elway were absolutely incredible and play the kind of classic American sing-a-long punk rock that is impossible not to fall in love with. Unfortunately again I forgot my camera so there’s nothing filmed for posterity, but that’s what we’ve got hearts and minds for.

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Last but by no means least was the madness that was the weekend of Book Yer Ane Fest VI. It kicked off on the Thursday night with a pre-BYAF show at the Tin Roof art studio in Dundee and was one of the coolest (not to mention coldest) shows that I’ve ever played. Our brothers in Question The Mark had van trouble so Dundee art rockers Playground Tactics stepped in at the last minute to open the show. We then played our first live set in over two months, including all of our new songs from our upcoming split records, and had an absolute blast of a time. Then it was the turn of The Shithawks who, in their natural habitat, were absolutely incredible. They’ve grown so much as a band over the past year and I can’t thank Dan Faichney enough for going to bat for us and sorting out the pre-show. MTAT will be releasing something from those guys in the not-too distant future, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that one.

The Friday night of BYAF was complete madness, much like every other day of BYAF. The Jackhammers set the tone with their dirty punk before Shatterhand went off like they always do. Big Baby on the drums is one scary looking fucker, let me tell you. Drive By Audio then left jaws on the floor like always and had everybody pissing themselves laughing, with the possible exception of those who were offended. Then Slaves came on and absolutely blew everyone’s minds. For a two-piece, they make a lot of noise but more importantly than that, they have such presence and a strong message. Provocative dark punk at it’s finest. From The Cradle To The Rave were absolutely insane with their drum’n’bass riot-core ska-punk madness before Wonk Unit were just absolutely insane (new album “Muffy” is a work of twisted genius). To bring the curtain down on the Friday night was punk legends Oi Polloi who absolutely destroyed before Vic Galloway provided the soundtrack into the early hours and was told by some roaster that Fugazi are not punk. I was long asleep by this point, on my hotel room floor.

BYAF is always madness so please forgive me if a few of these details are wrong! The Depressants opened the show with their sleazy pop-punk before FUCK! (It’s Pronounced Shit!) annihilated everyone with ten minutes of anxious melodic hardcore madness. The Walking Targets then took to the stage and blew everyone away with their youthful good looks and downright ridiculously good-not-just-for-their-age gruff melodic punk. They were joined by Raph of Turtle Lamone fame for a rip through Hot Water Music’s “Jack Of All Trades” that felt like something approaching a very special moment. Next up, The Hostiles brought with them their usual chirpy ska-punk charm and had everyone skanking away before The Kimberly Steaks once again proved that they are undeniably one of the best punk bands going just now. Check out the “Terminal Boredom” EP as it’s one of this year’s most essential pop-punk EPs. Aberdeen’s screamo juggernaut Cavlacades were next and I was happy to finally have them play a show for us as they are pretty much right up my street. I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of their “Coping” EP on vinyl. I have to say though that I find only using one side of a 12″ a little strange. Still, the music fucking jamz.

Cleavers were next at what was also their first show for us and they were nothing short of magnificent. They’ve been championed by a lot of the more mainstream music personalities in the country as well as by DA PUNX as they are fucking brilliant and play with passion, exactly the way it should be. After them it was more northern bleakness in the form of Prelude To The Hunt who were just devastating on every front. I felt like my brain was caving in, they were that fearsome. Unfortunately, Crusades from Glasgow had to pull out at the last minute so we decided to take a half hour break so folk could get food, chill out, etc before Question The Mark took things up a notch. Such a good band and I can’t wait to hit Europe with these guys in 2013. It’ll be rare. We played next at what was yet another highly emotional show for us, playing a new song called “Father’s Day” live for the first time. That song will be on our split with QTM coming out in March on Team Beard Records.

The mighty Clocked Out then absolutely ripped the place apart. Seriously, these boys are one of the finest bands in the UK and I’ve rarely seen any frontman with as much energy and passion as Crawford. Yes, he’s my friend but he also has one of the most magnetic presences I’ve seen fronting a hardcore band in a very long time. You have to see Clocked Out live to fully appreciate their brilliance. I am confident that we’ll have them back up in Dundee before too long. Next up is what I can only say was perhaps the most fun I’ve had at a punk show in my entire life. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to state that there aren’t really words to describe the set from The Murderburgers other than sheer madness. Those guys have had an absolutely incredible year and this was almost the perfect way for them to wrap things up. And, just when you thought things couldn’t get any more intense, Kaddish rock up and absolutely devastate everything that has come before them with the kind of emotive hardcore love-in that makes nights like this so special.

The Sunday of BYAF is always a testing one; you get the people who have gone too big on either the Friday or the Saturday and everyone seems to be suffering a little, especially as things kick off. I opened proceedings with a quiet yet somewhat amusing Tragical History Tour set before Ross Middlemiss played his very first show under his Little Anchors guise and hooked us all in with his introspective lo-fi. The Shithawks got the main stage rolling and hung loose once again, teasing our forthcoming plans before cowpunk lifer Andy Chainsaw serenaded us once more. I must give the due love to Chainsaw and say that I am truly humbled that he was the first person to scar himself for life with his beautiful MTAT tattoo!

MTAT tattooThe Barents Sea followed up with their first east coast performance with their new line-up and were exquisite as usual. They’ll be back with us supporting Arliss Nancy from Fort Collins, Colorado on Sunday 17th February. Kevin Thomson then made us swoon with his first set since returning from Canada and he brought with him his new fiddle player Gillian, who adds a layer of depth to the already emotive stylings of the young man from Alyth. We’ll be putting out some sort of release with Kevin in 2013 also, so it’s shaping up to be an exciting year. Algernon Doll then took to the main stage and showed us exactly while his LP “Camomile” is one of this year’s finest new records and just how far Ewan has come as a songwriter and a performer of the past year. Truly awe-inspiring stuff that is only going to get better with time. Carson Wells then closed out a year that has seen them release their critically acclaimed and really rather wonderful debut full length in the form of “Wonderkid” and their Sunday afternoon set was nothing short of triumphant before Davey Nolan nearly reduced me to tears with his searingly honest and soaring songwriting.

Drug Couple then played what has turned out to be their final show for now at least as guitarist Jordan is heading to Copenhagen, and they were suitably nuts as one may expect. Gone Wishing, the alter-ego of Bonehouse’s Owen McLaughlin, then played his first ever acoustic show and wowed us with his intricate and weaving storytelling before Sunset Squad devastated absolutely everything in their path with their first show since January, after the return of drummer Kev from Australia. These guys haven’t missed a beat and will likely be tearing it up throughout 2013.  The delectable Mark McCabe then enchanted us with his wisdom and touching songs before Fat Goth absolutely destroyed. Their new record “Stud” drops in January and is likely to have a big impact, so it was a treat to see them in Non-Zero’s at the height of their powers. They won’t be playing Fests like ours for too much longer I don’t think!

John Harcus then played the acoustic stage and concluded his set with what I think is the best song that he’s ever written in the form of “Falling In Love With Strangers”. Check it out if you haven’t already done so. Billy Liar then played what I think is one of the best sets that I’ve ever seen him perform. Billy is one of my closest friends in music and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to watch him grow from a gobby yet ambitious young punk into a flourishing, articulate artist with the power to transfix an audience using only his acoustic guitar, his flowing and poetic storytelling and his charm-you-to-the bar wit and patter. By this time, things were running a little late and Vasa took to the stage and tripped everyone out with their swaying, hypnotic post-rock/hxc instrumentals. They are a band on the rise for sure and their “Never Have Dreams” EP is a slice of wonderment. Hopefully we’ll have these guys up once again some time in the new year. The wonderful Turtle Lamone then wrapped up his acoustic stage with his bitter-sweet piano-based punk rock balladry before Bonehouse put everything to bed with what may have been one of their finest performances of the year.

All in all, 2012 has been an incredible year. We’re keeping the BYAF compilation online for download for £1 donation until January 1st and it can be found here.

All download donations to the MTAT Bandcamp page in December will be added to the total raised during the weekend of Book Yer Ane Fest. The full total raised will be announced some time during the first week of January.

You can also buy a range of MTAT merch from our shop page including a 2 x CD pot luck sale!

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has supported us throughout the year and those that continue to do so. We couldn’t do the things that we do without the cooperation and understanding of our community. We know that things can be difficult for us all but nothing makes things seem more worthwhile than when we are all together sharing something that we love. That has been the over-riding theme for me personally this year; that love will see us through anything and everything that is thrown in our way.

Thanking you for everything.

For love, always.