They might be releasing one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, but The Menzingers are taking all of that in their stride. I mean, they must be used to it by now right? They’ve been talked about and built up ever since the release of their first demo in 2006 and every record that followed has been fawned over and picked apart by fans and critics alike. Next week Rented World, the band’s most ambitious record to date, finally hits shelves and will likely be subject to the same treatment. Greg Barnett, co-vocalist, songwriter and guitarist, knows this all too well. It was all systems go last month, with the band barely having time for a break, as we talked about their impending release.
With so much hype surrounding the record, I expected Greg to be a little apprehensive. That wasn’t the case. Calm, collected and confident he was ready for people to finally hear the record he and the band had been working on for so long. “We’ve had the songs for a year now; we recorded them in October and November. I’m just ready for everybody to hear em”. More importantly, he says they’re “really fun to play” and it seemed like he was itching to test them out in front of a crowd. He'll get that chance on April 30th.
To celebrate the release of Rented World just a few days earlier, The Menzingers will perform at London’s prestigious Old Blue Last - a tiny venue in the heart of Shoreditch. Why here? Well, as Greg explains, what began as hanging out in London before their appearance at Groezrock soon escalated into something more special. "It made sense and it totally didn’t make sense and I think that’s why it’s such a cool idea.”
For fans to see them in such an intimate venue is a rarity indeed and the live setting is where The Menzingers really thrive. Their constant touring even helped the record along, allowing them to jam new songs in soundchecks and really tighten up. “We can play better together just because we’ve been touring so much. After the last record came out; I can’t even count how many tours we went on. We kinda just lived on the road and definitely got better”.
As for the title of the record, Greg believes Rented World could mean something different to everyone. “I think it’s kind of important to let people take what they want from it, but ‘rented world’ comes from a poem by Philip Larkin”. Not the first literary reference in The Menzingers catalog, the poem in question is Aubade. Greg continued, “...[Larkin] has a line about people going back to the ‘rented world’. It just kinda stuck in my head and it fit the theme of the record pretty well, because it feels like everything you have, your friendships, your relationships, just anything could be taken away from you at any given time and you have to appreciate it all whilst it’s here, y’know?”
So those of you looking for a posi-core album out of The Menzingers this time round (read: none of you) might be disappointed but, subconsciously, Greg says the band did feel more free to experiment than they did with On The Impossible Past. The creative process with Rented World was "more laid back" and it shows. The first single, ‘In Remission’, was the first song written for the record, and whilst it might sound like a move away from what fans had heard from The Menzingers before, it’s just an extension of what was already there. It's still punk, it's still got attitude, there's just less constraints. "We never really limit ourselves with the ‘style’ of the songs. If we want to write an acoustic song we can do it. We’re not a band that needs to play with loud distortion. If we want to play with clean guitars on a song then we can do it.” To summarise: “we can do whatever the hell we want”. Now that's what I like to hear!
Rented World is released April 22nd on Epitaph Records.
Long Division Festival have announced the first bunch of bands for their 2014 event. The Wakefield festival will be headlined by, hometown heroes, The Cribs with The Wedding Present, Beans On Toast and Brawlers amongst the notable first few.
However, it's the return of Milloy that has this writer excited. The Wakefield punk band said their goodbyes with a fantastic set at Out Of Spite two years ago, but will now return (with their original lineup, no less) at Long Division. Wether this means the band is back full time is yet to be seen, but I sure hope so. For those unfamiliar, the band follow in the footsteps of bands like Leatherface and Hot Water Music and you can check them out here.
We'll have more on Long Division 2014 before it all kicks off in September. You can see the rest of the announcements over at their official website.
PUP have certainly made their presence known over the past few months. The Canadian indie-punks seemingly sprang out of nowhere only to be labelled ‘the next big thing’ by both press and fans alike and, upon listening to their self-titled debut, it’s easy to see why: It’s a chaotic, ferocious, “hello” and one of the best, most diverse, records you’ll hear all year.
Both the chaos and diversity are evident right away. From the opening bars of ‘Guilt Trip’ you’re dealt two completely different hands. What begins as something incredibly raw and intense soon becomes a little cleaner and more melodic; that raw power laying dormant until just the right time. It’s not long until it erupts either and, as the vocals kick in, the record really comes to life.
The impact made is immediate. PUP waste no time easing you in: After all, at its core, this is no nonsense punk rock. Still, from these punk roots grows a tall tree with a hell of a lot of branches. Stefan Babcock’s vocals range from melodic to almost savage in a post-hardcore like fashion and traces of noise and indie rock are noticeable from the get go, but it doesn’t end there. Some unexpected pop appreciation begins to creep in on ‘Mabu’ which, alongside ‘Dark Days’ (surprisingly), gives off big ‘beach punk’ vibes. From here, that distinctly poppy tone permeates throughout the record and turns riff-heavy tracks like, the semi-psychedelic, ‘Yukon’ into a wannabe chart topper.
I can see it now, you're worried. Fear not, PUP aren’t all easy on the ear. The lighter and more melodic side of their sound just works to embellish upon a raw and powerful base and I’m impressed with how well they make that work. Add to that some incredibly dark, pained, lyrics and you’ve got something that really doesn’t sound like anything else out there. Sure, you can spot their influences a mile off but, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. These guys are exciting, fresh, and the best new band I’ve heard for ages.
I am a believer in PUP, halle-fucking-lujah!
I’ve always been kind of fascinated by The Fall. I’ve heard bits and pieces of their music over the years, read a few interviews with Mark E. Smith, and even caught them live at a festival a few years ago. But the prospect of actually getting in to them properly has always been a little bit daunting, purely because of the huge weight of material on offer. There’s loads! Where do you start? What’s the best stuff? No one seems to have any real proper consensus, so I usually just give up before I even start. But no longer! 2014 is the year that I finally become a proper The Fall fan. Every week for the whole year, I will be listening to a different record by The Fall, and posting my reflections on each one. Lets see how I get on.
So this is another one I have to feel bad about not listening to enough, because it’s actually pretty decent. You know, as Fall albums go. But, look. I was busy this week. The World I A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die have finally made it to the UK, so I was distracted by listening to them a fuckload in preparation for seeing them twice at the end of the week. Saturday in Manchester was pretty much one of the greatest shows I’ve been to in my life thanks to band and crowd alike, and I will never forget it. Unlike, I imagine, half of these Fall albums. Hey-ohhh.
Anyway, yeah, The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall. It’s a good listen! I reckon a few more spins and I’d be pretty in to it, so it’ll definitely be kept on after I’ve finished. It doesn’t feel as vital and exciting as Hex, but it’s probably a slightly more solid album overall in a lot of ways. 'Copped It' is pretty rad as typical Fall songs go, proving that their repetitive schtick is always better when it’s done with a real sense of urgency rather than, I dunno, the lazy rambling they often slip in to? 'Elves', which comes straight after it, is a pretty good charting of the middle ground between those two sides, actually.
This is definitely the Fall album with the most apt title so far – it’s called The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall and yeah, it is basically a microcosm of their discography so far, a pretty succinct cross-section that would probably make for a pretty good introduction. It’s got a weird mix of production styles, usually sounding pretty good but then going all fuzzy for no real reason, it’s got some great songs with some great hooks and vocal harmonies, but then it slips in to your usual annoying Fall rambling repetition for a little while (fucking 'Bug Day'). Never too long to really outstay their welcome, though, which makes it one of the easiest listens yet. Yeah, I’d definitely recommend this as a first album to check out for anyone interested in The Fall – if you can’t handle this one then you’re probably not going to find much else to enjoy in the catalogue up to this point.
But, y’know. I’m settling for ‘pretty good’ here, there’s still nothing that’s really blowing me away. I kinda feel like The Fall have been massively influential to a shitload of bands who have topped them endlessly, and have only really left the legacy that they have because they’ve stuck around for so long, clinging on to the railings, refusing to let go. I’m enjoying maybe 35-60% of their music a fair amount, but it’s not making much of a lasting impression. The World Is.., on the other hand, are pretty much now my favourite band, and I think listening to them loads and seeing them twice this week has really thrown this contrast in to light, has thrown what I’m actually gaining from listening to every Fall album in order in to sharp relief. I’m essentially just collecting data and, whilst it’s enjoyable enough, there’s nothing enduring setting in just yet. The World Is.., though, they’ve got ‘the spirit’, as Jonah Matranga would say, and it really feels like they’re already building something huge. They’re only a handful of EPs and one full-length in so far, but I can already feel a legacy starting to be created. Their overriding message is one of building, of belonging, of people coming together, and last night, in Mark E. Smith’s home city, I felt like a band from Connecticut did a better job of creating meaning and community in an hour long set than The Fall have done in a thirty eight year career.
I got a bit ahead of myself today and happened to see a video of a Fall show in Edinburgh in 2011. Mark E. Smith stormed off stage, and a fan got up and actually did a great job of fronting the band for a few minutes, until getting dragged off stage before Smith begrudgingly came back out. Last night, on the other hand, during the final song of their set, The World Is… chucked their microphones in to the crowd and came down to sing with everyone and the whole thing ended in a ridiculous, chaotic mess of togetherness. It may seem pointless to compare these two completely different bands, but I can’t help but feel like there’s something in that.
by Rob Evans
Caves are undoubtedly one of the best punk bands around right now and their new video for 'January' - the first every Caves music video! - is equally awesome. Floating heads, fireworks and some pretty trippy vintage visuals make for one hell of a video for the band's brand new track.
Released as part of the Yo-Yo Records 15th Anniversary Compilation, 'January' continues where Caves' latest full-length, Betterment, left off. The best way to describe it is probably melodic chaos...or something like that. Whilst chaotic, it's also incredibly upbeat and the heavy, distortion-filled, instrumental is given a little melodic balance thanks to Lou and Minty's duelling vocals and the special brand of posi vibes that we've come to expect from the Bristol band.
Check out the video, put together by Caves' own Jonathan 'Minty' Minto, below.