Wisecrack – Pining for the Road

Pining for the Road

Folk punk is a unique genre of music. It touches on two ends of the musical spectrum—on one hand it can be easy listening and perfect for just sitting back and admiring but on the other, the raw energy can make you just want to get up and go. Lincoln based folk punk band Wisecrack, get the balance inch perfect on their debut album, Pining for the Road.

Pining for the Road

Pining for the Road

The three-piece act mix folk, punk and country brilliantly to create merry ‘drinking songs.’  Their lyrics are ‘political and anti-fascist’ but send out positive messages which add to the vibrant, uplifting feel of the album. This theme runs throughout Pining for the Road from start to finish, and the album has an uncanny knack of leaving you in a very jolly mood after listening through it. The band cite acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan as their main inspirations and different aspects of these great musician’s style shine though in Wisecrack’s music. The band do a brilliant job of drawing from their influences to create their own infectious sound which reverberates through the whole of Pining for the Road.

The opening track, 7 Day Hangover, is a nice blend of electric and acoustic guitars and gets the album off to the perfect start. It’s a real feel good tune and the type of song you’d find yourself singing with your friends after one too many beers. You know you’re in for a treat when Wisecrack front man Matt Colwell sings:

“We’ve partied hard and then we crashed the cars, all that’s left is an empty room, these six strings and a hungover afternoon.”

The second track, Angel With Two Right Wings, is perfectly structured with a slow, quiet, acoustic build up that springs to life in the chorus in the shape of electric guitars and an attack on right-wing politics. The use of a banjo in the chorus also adds to the depth of the song, and illustrates Wisecrack’s ability to combine different instruments and musical genres effortlessly to create their own recognisable sound.

Don’t Pray for Me is a catchy but meaningful song with a good chord progression and a smart guitar harmony layered over the top. Matt Colwell voices his opinions on religion with the thought provoking line:

“This is God’s country and we’re supposed to be his children but there’s better fathers in prison.”

The title track of the album, Pining for the Road, is a highlight of the album and much like the opening track, is very upbeat and carries a lot of energy. The song contains the signature punk rock formula of quick palm-muting in the verses followed by the ringing out of chords in the choruses. It’s about the band’s love of travelling and touring whilst playing music.

Towards the end of the album, another standout track is the hugely infectious Sunflower Song. It contains elements of ska, folk and punk and to put it in the words of the band themselves, they once said:

“It’s impossible to listen to it without a smile on your face.”

Overall Pining for the Road is a fine album and Wisecrack are a band that Lincoln can be proud of. They have a big love for music and this radiates through the album. It sends out messages about important issues such as politics and religion, but it does it in a positive way and inspires the listener to just enjoy music and have a good time.

For me, this is what music should be about and the world needs more bands like Wisecrack.

The Clash – London Calling

Album artwork for London Calling

In many people’s eyes, The Clash are the definitive punk band. They are widely regarded as the best punk band of all time and have influenced countless acts and musicians. In many ways The Clash were to punk what the late Michael Jackson was to pop—revolutionary. With this analogy it would be fair to say that the Clash’s third studio album, London Calling, was their very own ‘Thriller.

London Calling was released in the UK in December 1979 and in the United States a month later. The album helped propel The Clash to great heights and it wasn’t long before they were being branded ‘The Only Band That Matters’. Since then the Clash have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and have been voted 28th on the list of the ‘greatest artists of all time’ by Rolling Stone. London Calling has sold over five million copies worldwide and has been certified platinum in the United States.

The Clash took a different approach with London Calling and expanded on their punk style and sound, which showed through so prominently on their previous two albums, The Clash and Give ‘Em Enough Rope. London Calling contained many more elements from the musical spectrum such as: ska, reggae, jazz, pop and rockabilly. It’s crammed with stand-out tracks and all 19 songs on the album live long in the memory for one reason or the other.

Album artwork for London Calling

Album artwork for London Calling

The opening and title track of the album London Calling, was the first single released from the album. It contains a reggae influenced bass line which creates a dark, dingy, haunting feel to it. This reflects the late Joe Strummer’s lyrics in the song which voice concerns about world events at the time, such as police brutality and rising debt levels. The second track, Brand New Cadillac, is more upbeat and is a cover of a Vince Taylor song. It’s a rock and roll song with a blues riff and the band cite it as being ‘one of the first British rock ‘n’ roll records.’

Rudie Can’t Fail, the fifth track from London Calling, contains the Clash’s signature punk/reggae sound with an added element of ska. This is evident in the horn section of the song which helps to create a very uplifting sound. The song is about a young man who challenges his elders’ way of life and decides to live life his own way, such as ‘drinking booze for breakfast.’

Other ska inspired songs on the album include Lost in the Supermarket and Spanish Bombsthe latter being inspired by events that took place in the Spanish Civil War. The Clash illustrate their musical diversity further on the tracks The Card Cheat and Train in Vain. The Card Cheat is different to most other songs on the album as it encompasses a grand piano but despite the experimentation in the song, it fits right at home on London Calling with all the others. Train in Vain rounds the album off nicely with a very catchy, pop inspired sound.

In truth every single song on the album stands out for all the right reason including the jazz inspired, aptly named Jimmy Jazz and the quite brilliant Guns of Brixton. Sometimes when bands experiment with certain songs, they don’t fit inthey don’t feel at home on the album. What’s important and unique about London Calling is that The Clash weren’t experimenting with their sound as suchthey were expanding it. They were pushing and stretching the limits of the punk genre as far as it would go and because of this, they created arguably the finest punk rock record ever made. Every song on the album feels exactly right at home.

The Clash are one of the most important British bands of all time. They have helped keep punk alive by influencing many of the punk rock bands around the world today, such as Green Day and Rancid. Without The Clash and in particular, without London Calling, punk wouldn’t have just ‘died’ a long, long time agoit would hardly have been born.

This Week’s Top Picks – 23rd November

Olly Murs –Troublemaker

This image shows Olly Murs stood against a bright blue background whilst holding his hat.He’s been pretty successful over here in the UK over the last couple of years, and now, as with most artists, he wants to try and crack America. And with a voice as unique and as catchy as his, he probably wouldn’t have much difficulty doing it alone. But in this new record, he’s teamed up with Flo Rida.

To be honest, it’s quite difficult to see why he’s done this. The majority of the song is typically Olly – it’s catchy, upbeat, and packs a punch of personality that gets you drumming along with it. Olly’s obviously still in the limelight with this one, but when Flo Rida comes in, it almost seems kind of pointless. I can see why you’d want to put someone into a song who’s already famous across the pond to try and crack it yourself, but this song is already so perfectly structured and loveable that it just seems unnecessary and waives the attention away slightly from Olly’s style. Still an amazing tune though!


Girls Aloud – Something New

This image shows the five members of Girls Aloud stood in a line, wearing purple dresses and against an orange background.

It seems like an age since Girls Aloud announced they were taking a yearlong break, but now they’re finally back and arguably better than ever. Whilst the vocals on their comeback single ‘Something New’ still aren’t perfect, the catchiness and typical Girls aloud style make up for that!

For the first few listens, it’s likely to sound rather undesirable. As a definite grower, you really will have to listen a few times before it hits you. But when it hits, it’ll hit hard, and it’ll swallow up your head for the rest of the day. It stays true to their older stuff, with a poppy and light tone, but you can also see how they’ve all developed since they took a break. They’ve adapted their style ever so slightly, so that if fits in pretty much perfectly with the current charts. It’s definitely something new, and is brilliant!


Example – The Evolution of Man

This image shows Example's album cover, which is of him holding a photo of himself as a child, whilst facing a huge crowd of peopleAs his fourth studio album, progression and development as an artist would of course be expected. And there’s definitely a lot of this. The album in general seems to have taken a slightly new angle, and when comparing it to his previous album, Playing In the Shadows, this change is in vision.

Far from being electric and quite uplifting, it actually seems more vapid and stripped back. Not in an extreme way though, in fact, there are sections where you’d probably not notice at all. Whilst it does sound really familiar, and tunes like Perfect Replacement are super clubby, it’s much deeper and his personality is glowing through in a way that’s almost blinding. The title of the record refers directly to Example himself, and the way in which he’s moved on from things like drugs. As you’d expect, it’s catchy. Very catchy, and the transitions between singing and rap are perfect. There’s just something really special and friendly about his voice that makes it impossible not to listen.

It easily sounds as good as his last couple of albums, and might just be his greatest one to date.

Mumford and Sons – Babel

Since back in July, fans of Mumford and Sons have been eagerly awaiting the release of their new album, “Babel”. Not long after this was announced, a 3 month long tour of America, Australia and the United Kingdom was penned, making up a total of 54 dates. This begs a simple question, if Mumford and Sons have achieved this in the short amount of time they have had, will their new record live up to expectation or will it fall victim to tricky second album syndrome.

The first thing that becomes apparent when listening through “Babel” is the fact the band don’t seem to have over worked themselves. The same banjo plucking manifests itself just like in their début album“Sigh No More”. But that isn’t to say its a bad thing they haven’t changed there style for the second album, as the famous saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As Mumford and Sons have been touring all over the world, they have upgraded venues, from relatively small ones to arenas that seat up to 20,000. The new album sounds like it was produced with that major factor in mind, to be played to an amplitude of folk loving fans.

The title track “Babel” lends itself to this fact perfectly, with a punchy and catchy chorus that will surely be a festival anthem for this upcoming summer. New single “Lover Of the Night” is again more of the same, big choruses and melodies a plenty.“I Will Wait” is a personal favourite. The short, snappy chorus echoes back to their previous hit “Little Lion Man” uncannily, with a tune you will be hard pressed to get out of your head.

In reflection, “Babel” is a very good album that should not be taken lightly. It feels a lot tidier and neater round the edges than their début. There’s enough in terms of depth to the album for the avid fan to get there teeth into while they eagerly await their Mumford and Sons ticket to come through the post. It was always going to be tricky to emulate the highs of “Sigh No More” but in my opinion it does easily do this.

Guns n’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Very few bands have had as turbulent a history as Guns n’ Roses. In the golden years of Guns, which were indisputably the late 80’s up until the very early 90’s, their wild and tempestuous nature earned them the nickname “The Most Dangerous Band In The World”. They were the dark horse of the Hollywood rock scene – not quite glam rock, not quite punk rock, but hell bent on creating their own unique sound.

Los Angeles was the place where Guns n’ Roses began their epic rise to international stardom, and in a small rehearsal space in the seediest, most decadent corner of L.A, they practiced a selection of songs that would soon form one of the greatest Rock n’ Roll albums ever conceived.


And on July 21, 1987, it was born.


This is Slash's original artwork for the cover of Appetite For Destruction.

Appetite For Destruction vinyl album cover, with Slash’s original artwork.
Photograph by Henrik Djärv












Ironically enough, the album was not an immediate hit. Sure, it racked up plenty of sales figures, but they were by no means instantaneous. However, sales of the album picked up pace when GNR started playing more and more of the album live, and now it’s sold more than 28 million copies worldwide, and hit platinum in the U.S.A not once, not twice, but EIGHTEEN times.

The album encompasses twelve classic tracks, including the globally renowned “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Welcome To The Jungle” and the lesser known but equally brilliant “Think About You”. Some might even say that this is a greatest hits album in itself. Every song is as raw and evocative as the one preceding it, and every member of the band is joined in a glorious unification of debauchery, passion and rage. This was the period of time before GNR began coming apart at the seams – before drugs and alcohol had sunk their claws deeper into the band, and before they knew how each of them would react to super-stardom.

At this point the comradery was unbreakable – you can almost hear it in the music. This is one reason why the album stands out as one of the greats. They were there for each other through thick and thin, and without any strife or friction between each member, they were a real hot prospect in 80’s Hollywood.

In my opinion, their bonds to each other brought out some of their finest qualities. Duff Mckagan’s basslines are expertly crafted, with that unique bass tone, he sticks to drummer Steven Adler like glue. Between them they create a rythmn section that is somehow both aggressive and groovy at the same time.

How they managed that, I have no idea.

Axl’s trademark wail is, as we know it can be, banshee-like in it’s volume and range. Slash’s guitar playing also seems subtly more vibrant and bluesy than his later work, and Izzy was there behind the scenes making the songs work with his superlative songwriting talents and well-placed guitar chops.

Of course this album is, in a strange way, the pride before the fall – it put them in the brightest spotlight, a place that they were doomed never to leave until the each member of the band slowly dispersed throughout the 90’s. Nevertheless, Gun’s n’ Roses continue to make great music to this day, and in the later years, although tensions in the band could run high at times, the music never really suffered.

Because in the eyes of GNR, and the eyes of all us religious fans, the music is what matters.


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