Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Reviews

Fucking Hallelujah: Children of the Pope

The Children of the Pope—judging from the band’s name alone, you know you’re in for something good. Taking “fucking hallelujah!” as their slogan, they describe themselves as a “…religious group from South America and Europe currently based in London.” The band’s intense love for “…dirty guitars, manic shouting, and surrealist melodies,” culminates in just the sort of sound that would have gone over big at the Troubadour in ’68, and holds audiences spellbound today. The band’s rise since their formation in 2018 (in the “grimiest parts of South London,”) has been meticulously documented on video and film by Lou Smith, and they’ve shared stages alongside the likes of Insecure Men, Brian Destiny, and Honkies.

Their latest single “Junkie Girlfriend” is out today on Isolar Records. At first listen, it’s a tune that manages to be simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Opening with jangling guitar and backing vocals reminiscent of early Beatles stuff, the Parlophone sessions …but no, wait, breaking away in a sharp shout from the sha-la-las come lyrics to shatter the illusion of finding comfort in nostalgia because here we are again, in the same old narcotic mess, the girl with the golden arm and the needle sticking out of it.

Children of the Pope filmed live at Venue MOT by the South London scene’s documentarian-in-chief, Lou Smith.

Beneath the upbeat vocals, the neat, almost martial drums, the jangling tambourine and bright guitar trailing down like drops of mercury, it’s all fun and games until somebody shoots a mainline, as the narrator notes of his paramour’s coping mechanism: “the way you smile at me/when you find your vein again.” Rather than getting tangled up in typical romantic tropes, the lyrics offer a gritty perspective into a fraught relationship and all the vacillations and sadly unanswerable questions that go with it: “What can I do/Over you?

Have a look at the band’s manifesto:

Manifesto!’ by the Children of the Pope.

Take it seriously or snap your fingers at it, react as you please, but, have a think. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle—are we still in the thick of it? Its plot still a daily truth for millions? Sure. It’s prescient as hell, always has been. Even before it was written it was true. We’ve been post-Eden longer than memory reaches; it gets a little tiring, out here in the moral desert. To find such substance, such brazen intention, in a rock n’ roll outfit during an era when minds have become so collectively warped that it’s somehow considered acceptable to call Maroon 5 a rock band, is a welcome oasis indeed. As Pete Townshend said: “All good art cannot help but confront denial on its way to the truth.” Denial is a real blood sport these days, and the Children of the Pope are confronting it head-on, in the quest for some kind of truth. It’s out there somewhere. We just gotta keep looking for it.

“Junkie Girlfriend” is out today on Isolar Records. You can listen to (and buy!) the single at the link below.

Creators Monthly Punk/Rock Reviews

Don’t Die in the Waiting Room of the Future

Tim Mohr’s Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall is an essential history that reveals punk’s wrath and how it contributed to the downfall of the East German dictatorship.

Throughout history, reigns of terror crushed hopes, ideas, behaviours; we’ve seen it all – intimidation and manipulation, violence. We’ve seen walls. Tall, made of concrete and strengthened with steel, with a strip of land guarded by merciless apostles of havoc by whose hands hundreds died. You would think nothing can break through it, but soundwaves don’t stop at borders. Soundwaves travel.

Mohr’s book is a compelling account of untold stories that starts with a handful of Berlin youths who heard the Sex Pistols on a military radio broadcast. Unlike British punks, who were living in a society that couldn’t guarantee them a bright economic future, East Berlin punks fought the battle of Too much future – the dictatorship had everything planned for them. Punk was a cathartic discovery, where chopped-up hair and clothes, loud singing and buzz saw guitars turned into a revolutionary philosophy of resistance.

Tim Mohr was able to closely observe this uniquely Eastern phenomenon when he moved to Berlin in the early 90s. Oblivious to the reality of the post-Wall city, he started exploring the nightlife scene, the clubs, the squats. He worked as a DJ for 6 years, a time during which he befriended many of the East German punks who were interrogated by the Stasi and imprisoned by the GDR – and ultimately helped build a fascinating, progressive DIY world.

East Berlin punks on Lenin Platz, Friedrichshain, ca. 1982

Mohr spent ten years researching Stasi files, tracking down and interviewing the punks whose stories were indispensable – teenagers who were spied on by families and friends, fired from jobs, beaten up and imprisoned, but not just because of their clothes or the lyrics they sang. It was more than that. Punk rock was a weapon against the tyranny that smashed protestors and militarized the police. It was a tough fight that had its manifesto disseminated in churches, safe havens offered to the teens by compassionate deacons. Not even jail could stop these kids. They got out, put their leather jackets back on and boy, did that hell break loose.

Burning Down the Haus is a fiery, dramatic history about the grit and spirit of a bunch of young punks who played a fundamental part in bringing down the Berlin Wall. Intensely researched, riveting and satisfying, it is a great book that passes on the legacy of grassroots oppression fighters. Maybe the lesson here is what they used to spray on walls: Don’t die in the waiting room of the future.

Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall is available in Rough Trade physical stores and online at World of Books.


GUESS WHO’S BACK – Amyl and The Sniffers

GUIDED BY ANGELS is the brand new single from the now legendary Melbourne Punk-Your-Pants-Off-Rockers, Amyl and The Sniffers.

The bands new ‘old-school rock’n’roll’ album COMFORT TO ME is out on September 10th. Pre-order and BE READY.

Punk/Rock Uncategorized

Trashmouth Records Remix Release: Heaven On Earth

New Malden-based, cult favorite, indie label Trashmouth Records have released the second track from their tenth anniversary compilation album. It’s a remix of “Heaven on Earth,” a deliciously chaotic, sonically schizophrenic rocker from Fat White Family’s incendiary debut, Champagne Holocaust.

A statement from Trashmouth Records explains the concept behind the remix album and offers a preview into its contents: “The remixes see the brothers Liam & Luke May, who not only run the label, but have recorded, produced and mixed all of their releases at Trashmouth Studios in New Malden, exploiting their long-standing Acid-House roots (see Decius/Medicine 8).”

“The LP will of course be pressed on the finest affordable, luxurious fake-gold vinyl & encompass a visual history of the label within its artwork, featuring photographs of the now legendary Trashmouth nights at the Brixton Windmill, where bands bitched & bonded, where blood, booze & tears were spilled in almost equal measure & where the seeds of a small corner of modern musical history were inadvertently sewn.”

Fat White Family ringleader Lias Saoudi eloquently explains the incredible importance that Trashmouth Records holds for him: “Where does mediocrity go to die? Simple: New Malden…Trashmouth Records are the only positive energy left in South London, all else is just a congregation of fashionable dust. The only way I can get to sleep at night nowadays is by telling myself over and over again that it was real, that I really did cut a few records with those grand masters, those brothers sonic oracular – Liam and Luke May. That no matter how bad it all gets, they can never take that away from me. That is my truth. THE truth. OUR TRUTH.”

Over the next few months, we can look forward to remix releases from other Trashmouth Records signings such as Madonnatron and Meatraffle, before the release of the album in full.

Trashmouth Records 10th Anniversary Commemorative Photo Collage by Lou Smith.

The track listing is as follows:

  1. Fat White Family – Heaven On Earth (Trashmouth Remix)
  2. Peter Harris & Lee Scratch Perry – Nothing & Then Nothing (Trashmouth Remix)
  3. Warmduscher – Yolk Buns USA (Trashmouth Remix)
  4. Meatraffle – The Horseshoe (Trashmouth Remix)
  5. Madonnatron – Venus & Rahu (Trashmouth Remix)
  6. Taman Shud – The Hex Inverted (Trashmouth Remix)
  7. Weston Decker – Lazy (Trashmouth Remix)
  8. Bat-Bike – Drag & Drop (Trashmouth Remix)
  9. Pit Ponies – Arrogant & Sad (Trashmouth Remix)
  10. Chupa Cabra – Violent Urges (Trashmouth Remix)

Individual remix singles, digital downloads and of course, the limited edition gold vinyls, will all be available on Bandcamp.

Join the label in celebrating their landmark accomplishment of surviving a decade navigating the shark-infested waters of the music biz and emerging as South London’s shining knights of sonic expression by purchasing a copy for your record collection.

Imagine dropping the needle down and having Madonnatron, Meatraffle, the Fat White Family and Warmduscher all in your flat at the same time (only without the possible threats of property damage, hearing loss, and the worst hangover you’ve had since that girl back during freshers week convinced you to drink something called Satan Comes for Pope John XII.) Heaven, right? What could be better?

May the place “where mediocrity goes to die,” celebrate many more anniversaries, and may their signings continue to bless us with their sonic dreams and nightmares alike.

Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Dream Wife

A truly badass punk rock band by any definition – these three girls are set to take on the screwed up modern world and kick it where it hurts, bitches to the front please for Dream Wife. 

Using their lyrics to quite literally give the finger to stereotype gender roles, sexism and objectification they’re here to save the world with a voice louder and a message more pervasive than the misogynistic old gits who run it.

The group, fronted by Islandic talent Rakel Mjöll and accompanied by effortlessly cool instrumentalists Alice Go on guitar and bassist Bella Podpadec have become known for a popular “bitches-to-the-front” code at their killer shows, where female gig-goers can mosh together without fear of wandering hands or other unwelcome attention.

Defiant words, rocking music and advocates for equality, Dream Wife are the group that we’ve been longing for and they couldn’t have come at a more needed time. About to set off on their 2021 Europe wide tour, they’re taking their message with them and yelling F.U to old ways.

Given that their origins were as a ‘fake girl band’ for a concept art piece, they’ve come a long way- now having evolved into a fully-fledged powerhouse of a group.

Yes, you did read that right, Dream Wife simply started out as a performance project after Podpadec and Go, who had already met during a Battle of the Bands (they just keep getting cooler don’t they?), joined forces with Mjöll at Brighton University and released their inner Spinal Tap- playing characters in a music mockumentary. 

However, it evidently surfaced that these weren’t just personas they were channelling but actually, their true rock star identities rising and ever since the band have been putting out amazing tracks that you’ll definitely be wanting to turn your volume up to 11 for.

The girls bring a clean-cut edge to punk. Storming guitars, strutting basslines and strong elocution in Mjöll’s gritty vocals have a well-polished finish- resulting in an all-round refinement that sets them aside from many bands that are currently opting for grungier post-punk mumbles. Stand out tracks that encapsulate their trade-mark sound include the adrenaline-inducing Sports!, Hey Heartbreaker and Taste; featuring the line ‘I’ve got movement in my blood and it’s pumping up’ which is definitely how you feel whilst listening.

They’re no one-trick pony solely dependent on volume and aggression either, with Mjöll having originally trained in jazz and opera she’s also more than capable of displaying a more melodic side on songs like emotional sophomore album closer After the Rain tackling the tough but equally important issue of abortion or Temporary where accompanied by softer riffs and a dreamy aura they show that they’re capable of just about anything.

Not only do the trio have the coolest collection of names between them but also the coolest attitude to back their pure punk sound. I defy any female to feel anything other than empowered whilst listening to them, with lyrics like ‘serve it, smash it, win it, own it’ delivered with a punch, you’re left feeling riled up in the best possible way; energised and ready revolt. 

Citing the likes of Debbie Harry and Madonna as inspirations you can hear that they were raised on an array of iconic female stars and this combined with their reminders that they’re more than just an object and saying ‘hasta la vista’ to anyone that doesn’t agree means they look set to take on their idols roles; inspiring a new generation of girls both musically and in life.

It’s not just women in awe of Dream Wife though; evident by the fact my fellow writer James was planning an article on the group at the same time as myself. He graciously embraced the ‘bitches-to-the front’ ethos and let me have it but I still wanted to include his take as a male fan.

Sometimes it’s only when a band like Dream Wife comes around do we realise how much we needed them. This group and others like them such as Pussy Riot and Nasty Cherry are grabbing us by the collar and showing they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Just as we’ve seen throughout history, it’s this unmissable attitude gets sh*t done and I respect anyone talking sense with a voice louder than the Donald Trumps of the world.

These girls have proven time and time again that anything we can do, they can do better. Guitarist Alice Go may even be one of the most talented guitarists of her generation. Notice how I didn’t say most talented female guitarists? It’s time we stopped putting women in a separate category. While that may work for sport, music is about intelligence and these girls have sure shown us that.

What I really hope to see is that Dream Wife inspires a resurgence of all-female punk bands, because without them, the world would be a very bleak place indeed.

I have every faith that this invigorating band has it in them to do just that and keep the world rocking. It’s time to prepare yourself for the force of Dream Wife and the riot that will inevitably follow.

Get rocking to Dream Wife on Spotify now