Saturday, 26 June 2010

Storm The Charts

Last Christmas saw a group of music fans mobilise themselves in protest to the monopolisation of the Christmas number 1 by Simon Cowell and X factor. They had amazing success in getting Rage Against The Machines' 'Killing In The Name Of' to the top of the charts and kept the X factor winner off the top in the process.

Since this campaign there have been several other attempts to get songs into the charts this year; Rangers and Leeds United fans managed to get ‘Simply The Best’ (Tina Turner) and ‘Marching On Together’ into the top ten respectively.

Getting old songs back into the chart is all well and good though, but what about getting new musicians in there? And instead of concentrating on one song, how about the whole chart? Storm the Charts, the brainchild of Wes White, has that very aim.

Over the past few weeks over 500 applicants has been whittled down to 40 through a mix of public vote and choices from some prominent guests. The only criteria for applying was that the bands weren't on a major label and haven't charted before.

'Starting the Sunday of Glastonbury, we're asking everyone to download as many different songs from the list as they can - and we'll see what happens. We don't know if we'll chart but we're going to give it our best shot!' Wes White.

Included in the list are 2 of Wakefield’s finest, and Rhubarb Bomb favourites, namely Runaround Kids with their track ‘Lois Interprets’ and Imp with ‘Party’. So get yourself to iTunes and come 4th July (wonderfully renamed 'Independents Day') you can be part of this ambitious and potentially historic project. And if you really want to get behind it check out the rest of the list at


Monday, 14 June 2010

A Conversation with 'The Tracks'

The 16th of May; the weather is beautiful and I'm drunk. Clarence Park in Wakefield witnesses the Collective's 'The Young Band Showcase', a labour of months of hard work and meticulous care. I was there purely by chance and I'm glad I was. The atmosphere was ripe for a good old knees-up. And that's what I got. Eventually.

The first two bands, Rogue Hearts and The Study, gurgled on with their adolescent posturing, well-practised sneers and GN'R covers, but the less said the better. It was the head-lining act that really demanded my attention. Ladies and gentlemen,The Tracks.

With their decidedly dark Post-Punk tones, reminscent of Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures', and the kind of bass-lines that perfectly encapsulate eveything that is Pop. Bizarre, really, for a band of young whipper snappers who count Meatloaf amongst their gallery of influences.

Not wanting to miss my chance (READ: Wanting to seize the oppurtunity before I fell over drunk) I snatched a little interview with these talented little devils. Chrs,Mac,Faye and Tom.

TOM(Guitar):Not long,really. Faye formed the band in college. She was really into The Editors and wanted to do something amonst those lines. Mac and I joined and after a problematic vocalist we got Chris in, he was the last to join, and he certainly made his mark. Everything fell into place after that and you get what you have here today.

CHRIS(Vocals and Keys.) Well,Meatloaf - he's a great performer and, definately, Morrissey.
MAC(Drums): For me?The Who and Velvet Underground, yeah.
THOM: Personally, I'm obsessed with Joy Division but also Death Cab For Cutie and The Editors. Very, kind of, retro styles of drumming, beautifully rhythmic.
FAYE(Bass): The Editors. Linkin Park too. That energy and darkness is so powerful!

CHRIS: 80's Pop meets the alternative of today. Something a bit dark that engenders our influnces and our feelings about the world.

FAYE: It's called 'Theory Of Movement' and it's available for download on Itunes from August 21st. The CD comes with a little booklet and DVD with lots of live goodies and tracks the making of the album. This can be ordererd from the band.

ALL:'Green Lights' and 'Start A War'. Our best,we think.

Brett Kelly

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Slam Dunk Festival 2010 - Leeds

First of all it has to be said just how big this event has become 8 stages each with 6 or 7 bands playing on each throughout the day, Leeds University acting as the beehive to contain it all. The lineup itself was largely made up of pop punk bands with additional stages catering for fans of other punk offshoots such as ska and hardcore. Similar bands were grouped together on each of the stages meaning no running from one stage to another which is always good. The day started with a long wait to get wristbands which though annoying was understandable with a couple of thousand eager kids waiting to get in. Aside from that everything seemed to run smoothly, in all a really well organised event with no time delays on any of the stages. General thumbs up then and for 30 quid a ticket it was an absolute bargain. The bands then...

All or Nothing kicked off precedings just before 4pm on the Relentless energy drink stage (my chosen route through the day involved just 2 of the 8 stages), they play a brand of mature pop punk in the same vein as The Wonder Years and a couple of the other bands that would follow, lots of catchy hooks and layered vocals with hardcore punk influenced chants scattered throughout. A really assured performance follows from the Birmingham lads opening up with ‘I’m not being rude but I could have had your job’ from their split ep with The Wonder Years. They really seem much more animated when they have an energetic crowd and credit should be given to today’s audience chants being fired back and forth. Another highlight from the set was ‘One night, five stops, five hits and a getaway’ from their ‘is pretty hot right now’ ep the whole room chanting “I know what you said. I knew when you said it” was pretty uplifting and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Next up This Time Next Year, now I have to admit I’m not completely convinced by these guys based on releases alone. They again play the new era pop punk sound like All or Nothing though with a touch of trademark SoCal summer pop punk the likes of late 90’s blink 182. The band being named after The Movielife’s debut shows they are not afraid to broadcast their influences. After releasing a pretty solid ep ‘A Place for You’ in 07 they were snapped up by Equal Vision Records (Saves the Day, Coheed and Cambria) and released ‘Road Maps and Heart Attacks’ which unfortunately is slightly less memorable. Live though they were very good, the sound guy had a bit of a mare so we had 2 tracks mid set while he had disappeared that only consisted of bass. Luckily that did little to dampen the energy of the Californians, A solid set which blasted through the majority of road maps. Album opener ‘Rise and Fall Curtain Call’ being a particular highlight. I think I’ll be giving ‘road maps and heart attacks’ a second chance having seen the live show.

The next band up was The Wonder Years. If you’re unfamiliar with them they have really struck a chord (no pun intended) with pop punk fans new and old. Their ‘realist’ pop punk tells stories of friends and growing up and that it’s basically not all it’s cracked up to be, I mean who can’t relate to that. With 2 full length releases under their belt ‘The Upsides’ and ‘Get stoked on it’ and a handful of split ep’s this relatively young band have plenty to pick from when sorting out the setlist. The room is absolutely rammed with people by this point and there’s a real sense that this band are something pretty special, in fact I would go as far as saying I can see them headlining this event next year. I can’t even remember what order they played their songs in I was so excited to finally see them (missed them on the hostels and brothels UK tour with all or nothing last year) but there was something for everyone and every word was being sung by every member of the crowd, a sea of raised hands for every chant. ‘Keystone state dudecore’, ‘Logan Circle’ and ‘You’re Not Salinger, Get Over It’ as examples were pretty much chanted word for word almost drowning out Dan Campbell’s vocals. As expected their ode to Leeds ‘Hostels and Brothels’ was met with rapturous applause. Just when things couldn’t get any better the finale of ‘All my friends are in bar bands’ saw members of This Time Next Year, All or Nothing and Fireworks join the stage and sing the refrain “I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place, if this year would just end I think we’d all be ok”. This was a very special set and if there is any justice in the world The Wonder Years deserve to be huge. Crime in Stereo followed the Wonder Years and though I’m sure it was a good set it will have been a very hard act to follow and I had to make a move to catch Set Your Goals over at the main Stage.

By now it was about 7pm and I really should have thought ‘Instead of buying another drink I should go get something to eat’. I didn’t do that so the following sets on the main stage by Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong and New Found Glory are somewhat blurred. Set Your Goals play a mix of pop punk and hardcore punk taking the youth crew type ethos of having the crowd very much involved. Dual vocals add to the bands dynamic alternating between singing and chanting. Set Your Goals have always been good live but they do tend to turn up the vocals and let the crowd do a lot of the work, great if you are in the thick of the crowd but not so great standing at the back of such a big venue. The 40 min set allows them to work through the majority of both full length albums ‘Mutiny!’ and ‘This will be the death of us’ usual track choices ‘the fallen’ and ‘mutiny!’ are on show and the crowd near the front was bouncing throughout. You have to hand it to them they really know how to deal with the bigger and bigger crowds they are getting.

With airplay on Radio 1 Four Year Strong are really going places. Their latest album ‘Enemy of the world’ was released earlier in the year and they have since been featured prominently in the rock music press. Their mixing of straight up pop layered vocals and almost metalcore style guitar breakdowns is really turning heads and is a relatively unique take on the pop punk genre. Along with the Wonder Years, Four Year Strong was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing but I can honestly not remember much of their set. (Bearing in mind it was about 5 hours into the festival at this point and I’d made the move from lager to cider. Slapped wrist for me sorry Deano)

Headliners New Found Glory must be enjoying the renewed popularity of pop punk and it’s been the perfect time for them to revert back to their earlier sound. I’m a big fan of their earlier albums so when they announced they were re-releasing their self titled major label debut as a 10 year anniversary edition and touring it you can imagine I was quite excited. True to their word some classic New Found Glory songs were on show ‘Better off dead’, ‘Hit or miss’ and ‘Dressed to kill’ all met with high energy from the crowd. They also played tracks from ‘Sticks and Stones’, ‘Catalyst’ and their latest release ‘Not without a fight’ and I’m sure a cover or two were thrown in from their ‘From the Screen to Your Stereo’ releases. New Found Glory were great and can probably be credited with starting the cross over of hardcore punk and pop punk way back when. Tonight showed they have no intention of passing the crown over to the younger generation of pop punk bands. That being said at the end of a long day, an hour and 20min set was perhaps a little long (for me anyway) but there was no doubt they have the material to fill it.

So that’s your lot a great day only slightly let down by a couple of bands clashing, and a small fall over I had outside when leaving. All in all New Found Glory are still at the top of their game and expect to hear much more from The Wonder Years.

Pop punk is ace

Martin Bott