Feature, Reviews

Rad Releases ’14 – Surprise Attacks

December 29, 2014


As the countdown to the end of 2014 quickly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. Circuit Sweet will be featuring the featured artists of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.

In our end of year special we let our favorites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favorite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.

601899_586003238100333_326592383_nContinuing our annual take over tradition, we hand over to the first in our promoters. Worcester based DIY promoters Surprise Attacks are one of the hardest working promoters out there, surprise attacks is a 100% not-for-profit music promoter, record label and vinyl distributor. Having hosted over 24 incredible shows since their formation in May 2013, they are dedicated to bringing the best underground music to their town – and working in partnership with the wider music and arts community to provide a sustainable platform for local bands old and young. We’ve enjoyed some of our best gigs of the past 12 months in the company of a SA show, they’ve introduced us to some fantastic talent and without these guys on our doorstep we would be lost. We hand over to the men to find out their most loved albums of the past 12 months and to review their year…


 (Words: Chris Burton, co-founder. With a little help from the other three corners of the love square that is Surprise Attacks)

Top 5 releases of the year  (In no particular order)

BAPTISTS – Bloodmines (Southern Lord)


Pure frown inducing hardcore from Vancouver featuring one of the best drummers of the genre. Bushcraft was one of my favourite releases from 2013, so I was excited about this release and it didn’t fail to tear my face off.

BL’AST! – The Expression Of Power (Southern Lord)


BL’AST! are one of my all time favourite hardcore bands, and 1985’s The Power Of Expression is without doubt my favourite ever hardcore record. So when I heard this was to be reissued by Southern Lord as a triple vinyl beast complete with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd recordings of the LP I nearly wet myself. When I got my hands on it and listened to it I did wet myself. Unparalleled in my opinion in almost 30 years.

BATON ROUGE – Totem (Purepainsugar / Adagio 830)


This record has all the best elements I love about punk / emo / post hardcore and indie music effortlessly blended to create something really special. Totem flows, swells, explodes and fades in all the right places and some of the riffs and structures just kill me every time. Maybe my most listened to release of 2014.

GIVE – Electric Flower Circus (Moonflower / Adagio 830)


Washington DC’s Give have packed this LP full of hooks, killer basslines and a dual guitar assault which reminds me of Swiz / Bluetip / Government Issue mixed with the post punk & psychedelic tendencies of The Cult. I keep going back to this LP and I never tire of it. It rocks like a motherfucker. I urge everyone to get into Give.

CROWS AN WRA – Kalopsia (Barely Regal)


This band for me have breathed new life into the post hardcore / emo genre with this release. A definite space / prog angle lifts Crows An Wra head and shoulders above their peers. Intricate, razor sharp, explosive and spacey….Kalopsia is all of this and more.

 Best show(s) you’ve hosted


The Stupids are an absolutely legendary UK Hardcore band, and the reason I got into hardcore in the first place, after hearing them on John Peel’s radio show in 1986. Having the opportunity to host this and organise 2 more weekend dates for them in Newport and Stoke On Trent was really like a dream come true. All bands that night were killer, but The Stupids were just amazing. The venue was packed, people were in the pit and it was one of those moments when we looked at each other and thought “yeah, this is why we do this….” you take the rough with the smooth as far as putting on shows goes, some are more successful than others in terms of turnout, but there are always rewarding moments and this was one of those. A happy crowd in our hometown, great bands, lots of friends and a real sense of community.

BODY HOUND / EMPLOYED TO SERVE / OHHMS / AULOS – OCT 25th @ The Firefly, Worcester

This wasn’t the best attended show we’ve hosted, but the sheer intensity and quality of musicianship more than made up for it. A showcase for the best in progressive math rock (Body Hound & Aulos), psych stoner doom on an EPIC scale (OHHMS), and one of the most intense and visually captivating hardcore bands we’ve seen (Employed To Serve). All super nice people and a great atmosphere. We were on a high for days after that one.


This was our first time hosting a show at Worcester Music Festival, and it turned out to be a real belter. The music went from power pop punk to DIY noise grunge, to full on technical metallic hardcore, from soaring melodic hardcore to primal noise rock, psychedelic tinged indie rock to spacey post rock to shoegaze……..We had another full house and there were so many positive and happy vibes around the room, we met some fantastic people and made some great friends.

The best gig you have attended

This is a hard one and so I’m going to cheat and mention two:

BL’AST! at The Fleece in Bristol.

BL’AST! being a legendary hardcore band, and their first ever UK appearance as they disbanded in the 80’s before they could make it over. I was excited to say the least I was going to see one of my all time favourite bands play songs I had loved and which were unrivalled to me since the late 80’s. They had recruited Joey Castillo of QOTSA fame on Drums, and one of my favourite bass players, Nick Oliveri. I can’t really put into words how I felt seeing this gig. They didn’t disappoint. They were relentless, powerful to the extreme and I felt the same as when their first LP The Power Of Expression blew my head off when I was 17 and I sat in my room examining the lyrics, air drumming and punching the air with every hook and time change.

PLANE CRASHER – Every time I’ve seen them this year.

Similarly to BL’AST!, Planecrasher hold something special to my ears: a raw and primal ferocity and a heaviness that has to be heard to be believed. They kill me every time I see them and seem to get more and more intense. An absolute BEAST of a band, can’t wait to see them again….and we (Surprise Attacks) are putting them on again in February 2015 (shameless plug!).

Plus, honourable mentions to Southport, Bad Sam, Norweb, Buzzorhowl, Falls and Grand Collapse for their performances at their Surprise Attacks Shows this year.

Promoter Highlights of the year

Undeniably the shows above were real highpoints, particularly the Worcester Music Fest all-dayer. It’s also been great hooking back up with some very old friends, and making a fair few new ones along the way.

One of the main highlights for us this year though the first 7” release on our label – Surprise Attacks Recordings in the spring (Thirty Six Strategies, Strategy Two). The label was a long-held ambition of ours, and we were rather pleased with the result. The label is definitely something we want to keep going – so watch this space!

Artist/Band to watch for 2015

Kinshot (London) – Fierce and raw DIY emo punk

Petrol Girls (London) – Awesome feminist hardcore punk

Transmissions (Worcester) – a post punk / post rock / soul beat combo

Carson Wells (Aberdeen) – been around a few years, but getting better and better all the time – intricate & powerful emo post punk.

Bad Breeding (Stevenage) – Black Flag meets some kind of doom-laden version of The Kinks. Awesome live & definitely ones to catch before they self-destruct.

Plus… keep an eye out for The No Marks; Broken DC; Bodyhound; Sly & The Family Drone; Tangerine Dream.

Plans for 2015

Generally, we’re looking to be more adventurous with musical boundaries, trying a few new things – whilst staying true to our DIY principles.

Suffice to say, we’re excited.

A huge thank you to Surprise Attacks for all their hard work and continuing to bring excellent music to town! Here’s wishing you plenty of success in 2015.



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