Browsing Tag

Folk Punk

Bad Friends With Black Cats Let the Cat out of the Bag in an Exclusive A&R Factory Interview

Ahead of their eagerly anticipated EP, I WANT TO MOVE, Bad Friends With Black Cats shared insights into their evolving sound. From acoustic beginnings to a dynamic full-band experience, the group delves into how they’ve layered darker, more vulnerable lyrics with robust energy, underpinned by acoustic rhythms. The lead single, “OKAY, BYE,” encapsulates key personal milestones, setting the tone for the EP’s raw, candid vibe inspired by influencers like PUP and The Front Bottoms. This conversation invites listeners to peer deeper into the essence of their music, promising an intimate connection forged through shared struggles and high-energy anthems.

Bad Friends With Black Cats, thanks for the opportunity to sit down with you ahead of the release of your EP, I WANT TO MOVE. Can you walk us through the journey of your sound evolution leading up to this EP? What elements did you experiment with or push to the forefront this time around?

Well up until this EP, everything released had only been acoustic demos. So the biggest step we took was definitely incorporating the full band sound while still maintaining an acoustic rhythm guitar driving it. Marcelo couldn’t have written better drums to the tracks and was able to always push the energy and keep attention on the song. The lyrics continue to get darker and more vulnerable while keeping a sense of relatability, leaning on heavy influences from bands like PUP and The Front Bottoms.

What’s the story behind the lead single of the EP? How does it encapsulate the essence of the entire project?

“OKAY, BYE” is a song about meeting my partner, Melissa, in Ottawa back in 2017. It describes several aspects of our lives over the first 2 years of our relationship. It touches on my state before meeting her, my anxieties of living in a new city, and the struggle of finding a place to live. It is literally about the stage of my life where I found the music that would go on to influence this entire project (The Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, PUP) and for that reason I think it’s the perfect introduction to the new era of Bad Friends With Black Cats.

What lies behind your motivation to deliver raw and candid music?

It’s what I’ve always connected with and listened to personally. I’ve always gravitated to the lyrics and meaning of a song and really loved when it was vulnerable and authentic. Bands like PUP, who deliver such high energy and emotion despite yelling about everything they hate, have always hit home for me and have been my preference; it only makes sense that would bleed over into my writing and what I want to make.

Which artists are the most influential on your sound, and where else do you pull inspiration from?

The biggest influences on our sound are bands like PUP, The Front Bottoms, Jeff Rosenstock and Modern Baseball. However, I have gone through so many phases of my life listening to different styles, and I believe they all play their own part on influencing our music. (Green Day, MCR, Avenged Sevenfold, Mumford and Sons, Aesop Rock)

Growing up, Blink 182 was also a huge influence on both Marcelo and I. You can really hear Travis Barkers influence on the drumming as well as the idea of not taking ourselves to seriously with the lyrics.

How do you hope the EP will resonate with your audience or shift listener perceptions about your music?

I really just hope listeners find the struggles in daily life relatable and worth yelling with us about. I think we touch on a variety of very relatable insecurities while delivering high-energy tunes that people can enjoy.

How do personal experiences and emotions feed into your songwriting and music production?

Paul: That’s really the driving force of our music. Our music starts and ends with the struggles we face every day. It’s the reason I pick up the guitar and start writing. Personal experiences and emotions are what sparks creativity, at least for my personally.

We’d love to know the story behind your endearingly unique artist name, and a little bit of the band’s history and inner workings.  

I originally started this band with a high school friend, Connor Ratayczak. After going 5+ years of barely communicating and being flakey, we reunited to try and start a band. We each had black cats and thought the idea of being “bad friends” had a ring to it. I think it really fits the “goofy punk” band name style and fits the brand very. My black cat, Shady, is also my best friend (concerning, I know) and having her incorporated somehow makes me happy. I got Shady at the beginning of the toughest phase of my life, so she’s been through it all too!

Looking beyond this EP, how do you see your music evolving in the future?

It’s hard to say. Obviously we’ll strive to improve our sound and quality and take another step forward in the next recording venture. But in terms of style and inspiration, I don’t think we know. We have a ton of songs we’re sitting on that fit this style that we’re so excited to start recording, but it’s hard to predict what we’ll write next. I’ll continue to listen to amazing artists that inspire me to create.

Listen to Bad Friends With Black Cats on Spotify.

Follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Winter whispered through Sang Lian Uk’s folk-punk single, When Snowflakes Fall

In the heart of winter’s embrace, Sang Lian Uk penned ‘When Snowflakes Fall‘, a lo-fi folk-punk anthem that resonates with the soulful depth of a winter’s tale. This single, reminiscent of the raw, unfiltered essence found in the works of Neutral Milk Hotel, is a poignant reflection on the season’s stark beauty and the introspective journey it invites.

When Snowflakes Fall is a narrative woven from the threads of his life, a stream of consciousness that captures the essence of winter’s dual nature – its bitter cold and its mesmerising beauty. The song’s structure mirrors the ebb and flow of thought, with each verse building on the last, culminating in a cathartic release of pent-up emotions.

Sang Lian Uk, who began his musical journey in the echoes of gospel songs and church choirs, has evolved into a raconteur of candour, moving far away from his childhood immersion in music, guided by the distinctiveness within his voice, he’s come into his expressive own.

When Snowflakes Fall hit the airwaves on January 25; stream the single on SoundCloud.  

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Jesters borrowed from Pavement in their reinvention of the 90s DIY sound in ‘Magnet’

The standout single, Magnet, from The Jesters may have been released in the Summer of 2023, but it is the perfect hit to place on your playlists as we move into the new year with the underpinning themes of pining for personal reinvention that, on some level, we all know we’ll never achieve because the force of our habits is far too strong to resist.

The grungy pop-punk pierced aura of the track, which finds the middle ground between Fidlar, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr, was the perfect atmosphere to pour the self-disdain into to ensure it rings with relatable and rogue down-and-out blues. Veering away from self-pity and right into the inner trappings of the human condition that compels us to tread the hamster wheel as creatures of idiosyncratic convention enabled Magnet to unravel as every antihero’s feel-good hit.

When it comes to reinventing the DIY sounds of the ’80s and ’90s, few do it better than the Philadelphia four-piece, whose sound falls under the new wave retro alt-folk punk banner while spilling out into other nostalgic avenues to lead you to the sounds you adore via a route never taken before.

Magnet is available to stream with the rest of The Jesters’ three-track release, Mental Model, on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Glorious Rabbits conjured the sound and salvation of ‘Freedom’ in their latest folk-punk hit.

The Glorious Rabbits‘ latest folk single, Freedom, is a vibrant testament to the joy and liberation that music can bring. This track is not just a collection of melodies and lyrics; it’s an embodiment of freedom itself, capturing the essence of what it means to be unshackled from life’s constraints.

From the first note, Freedom is an explosion of euphoria. The Glorious Rabbits have managed to encapsulate the raucous joy of being in a room full of friends, the warmth of shared experiences, and the exhilaration of letting go. The track is an invitation to break free from whatever binds you, whether you’re surrounded by others or on your own. It’s a song that insists on being felt, not just heard.

The ensemble’s skill is evident in every aspect of the song. The musicians, hailing from diverse backgrounds, bring a richness and authenticity to the track that is palpable. Their chemistry, forged from years of friendship since the 7th grade, shines through in the seamless way they play together. The process of writing individually and then coming together to breathe life into their songs in a top-grade studio adds a unique and heartfelt quality to their music.

Fans of The Pogues, Flogging Molly, and Dropkick Murphys will find a familiar joy in Freedom. Yet, The Glorious Rabbits are not just imitators; they are innovators in their own right. Their music carries the torch of upbeat folk music, lighting the way for a new generation of listeners. Taken from their seminal album, The Year of the Rabbits, it is an exceptional introduction to a superlative outfit which has exactly what it takes to deliver the rapture society is so desperately crying out for.

Stream Freedom on YouTube now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Debbie Christ is scintillatingly affecting in her advocacy of authenticity and resilience in We Carry On

Taken from her I’ve Got Time / We Carry On double A-side single, We Carry On by Debbie Christ is a scintillatingly affecting extension of the Shoegaze genre, which spills all the reverb and chorus effects your heart could possibly desire while adding new arcane layers to the intricate tapestry of a production that will consume you down to the last atom of your being as you’re absorbed in the experimentalism.

The defiance of categorisation within the synthesis of femme garage rock, folk, punk and indie not only invites you into a dream-like aural experience but compels you to embrace your own authenticity and walk your unique path, away from the shame of exhibiting your eccentricities.

After overcoming loss, addiction, cancer, and rebelling against her evangelical upbringing, I can’t think of a better voice to help you chart your own path with resilience than Debbie Christ. She’s an icon, not for all she’s endured, but for her determination to emancipate others from their suffering and embolden them.

Towards the outro, We Carry On moves away from the Angel Olsen-reminiscent choral accordance to deliver rancour in the same vein as Big Thief and Lucy Dacus around the Grandaddy-esque synths that add yet another dynamic to the release that is far too infectious to encounter just once. If there’s any justice left in the music industry, Debbie Christ will be one of the biggest names in indie in 2024.

We Carry On is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Folk-Punk Renegades Gaslighters.Anonymous Gave A&R Factory An Exclusive Preview of Their Classified LP


The anti-establishment, for all intents and purposes non-existent and anonymous organisation Gaslighters.Anonymous have A&R Factory an exclusive preview of their highly classified 10-track LP, which features the rugged indie folk seminal single Hail to the Chief.

Just as traditional folk artists spoke for the oppressed and working class, Gaslighters.Anonymous carried on the conversation in their acoustic folk-punk portrayal of our atrocity of an era that is perpetually being underpinned by fascism and the threat of climate change. The riotously rancorous lo-fi single may traverse some uncomfortable existential themes, but as far as the listening experience goes, the rallying cry for awareness and action is emboldeningly sweet.

Hail to the Chief is currently protected from public ears; all will be revealed in due course. Keep your ear to the ground for updates and your eyes in the sky as Gaslighters.Anonymous light the smoke signals that will pave the way towards progress.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Knottie Boys released the ultimate punk-rock chagin soundtrack with ‘Sadsquatch’

Taken from their garagey punk-rock EP, A Face Fulla Dirt, the standout single, Sadsquatch, from The Knottie Boys is a melodically hook-rife exposition of reclaimed shame. By allowing the chagrin-deep lyrics to unravel as a series of confessions rooted in quirky indignity, Sadsquatch projects intimate disclosures in the same breath as lamenting about public knowledge of them.

It was an ingeniously bold move from the New York-hailing fourpiece, who have released two EPs and a studio album since forming in 2019. By pulling influence from CBGB headliners to folk-punk to the percussive fills of marching bands to the acts who made the 2007 Warped Tour infamous, the bitterly sweet powerhouse has carved out a niche and filled it to precision.

If Neutral Milk Hotel formed as a punk-rock outfit, they’d boast the same appeal as The Knottie Boys, who have exactly what it takes to be one of the premier NYC punk bands in 2023. Watch this space before they pour ennuitic resonance into it.

A Face Fulla Dirt is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Indie alt-folk artist Rhett O’Connor has released his sonorously colourful double A-side, Galactophagist/Untitled 31 Retry.

If you recognise Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea as one of the greatest albums of all time, you will want to get acquainted with up and coming indie folk-rock singer-songwriter Rhett O’Connor.

Through his latest two-track single, I’m a Galactophagist/Untitled 31 Retry, O’Connor revives familiar folk-punk tones while adding plenty more accordance to the instrumentals while his dreamy vocals lull you into the visceral emotion caged in the acoustic soundscape.

Galactophagist and Untitled 31 Retry are just as sweet as the most honeyed singles from the Maccabees to add yet another layer to his colourfully sonorous sound; there is a slight cosmic kick in the melodies.

Rhett O’Connor’s new singles will be available to stream from October 8th via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Emancipate Yourselves with Sh’Bang’s Alt-Rock Hit, Bail Money

Philadelphian alt-rock 4-piece Sh’Bang defines themselves as sweeter than punk and heavier than rock, based on their single, Bail Money, taken from their 2020 EP, The Woman Who Changed the World, we affably agree.

Any fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, AJJ, Harley Poe and Amigo the Devil will get caught up in the soulfully eccentric eminence of the single that carries the energy of punk paired with their pretence-less passion that makes no bones about utilising abrasively honest expression.

If you turn to artists such as Social Distortion for your serotonin, you won’t know what has hit you when you hit play on Bail Money. The volatile single delivers the efficacious reminder that eternal conflict is perpetual in many minds; your angst doesn’t alienate you; it offers commonality.

Check out Sh’Bang’s latest EP, The Woman Who Changed the World, via apple music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Escape the 21st century in the timeless tones of T.C. Tumbleweed’s Alt Folk single ‘Louise’

Folk-punk became an infinitely more enamouring genre with the release of Swedish-born singer-songwriter T.C. Tumbleweed’s latest EP, ‘Out of Tune’, with old school blues thrown in for good measure, plenty of timeless tones are revived, but through this humble exhibition of their amiable talent, it may as well be your first time cruising through upraising bluesy rhythms with shimmering organ wails bringing a touch of the celestial.

The standout track, ‘Louise (Love is Only a Day) is set to enamour fans of 70s era Stones, Bob Dylan, Frank Turner and Gogol Bordello alike. If you could imagine what Nick Cave would sound like if he had a soul, you’ll get an idea of what is in store when you hit play on the instantly enrapturing track which is impossible to pick apart. It becomes so much more than the sum of all parts with the swathes of emotion delivered in equal measure through the soulfully compelling vocals and the instrumentals which exhibit a level of prowess which affirms that T.C. Tumbleweed definitely deserves a spot on your radar. He’ll probably reserve a spot in your soul by the time you hit the first chorus.

You can check out T.C. Tumbleweed’s EP for yourselves by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast