Asylums: Village Green Festival

On Essex’s grandest live stage, the main stage at Village Green Festival, Southend’s Asylums stole the whole effing show this past Saturday. Their brand of Ash meets The Clash embodied everything great about alternative pop, full of heart, desperation and better than annoying the mainstream could ever manufacture.

Essex, a county a tradition in right leaning politics, was lit up with Joe Strummer’s sloganeering and Billy Bragg’s social comment via frontman Luke Branch. ‘Joy In A Small Wage’ was pure pop rebellion. The imagery of the “outsider” knowing their worth, in today’s society, is a truly powerful one.

Taking messages such as “Sexists, we fucking hate you” to the suburbs seems innocuous, but really, it’s brave. How many of us can truly say we stand up and be counted in little England? Refusing intolerance, Asylums launch into a scorching rendition of ‘Second Class Sex’. The destruction levels are taken sky high on ‘Napalm Bubblegum’, no one was left unscathed!

With a certain other Southend outfit headlining the day, Asylums showcased everything pop music could and should be. They held up a mirror to a fractured society with pop hooks from the heavens. Credible, lovable, outsiders do not wear school uniforms!

*Image courtesy of Andrew Kenyon

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Asylums: Camden Assembly, London

Southend’s Asylums celebrated their 5th birthday in style this past Friday at London’s Camden Assembly.  Supported by the raw talent of BLAB, the furiously entertaining Suspects and a certain breakout act of 2019, October Drift, it was a stark reminder just how fucking great the music scene in the UK is right now.

No one can touch Asylums on the pop-punk circuit right now. They check all the boxes of the greats with great hooks, melody and angst. However, it’s the lyrics which catapult them to another plain. Intelligent, witty and of the moment, Asylums can carry you to the mosh pit and lead you out the other side a better person.

‘Joy In A Small Wage’ is this generations ‘Live Forever’. Gallagher’s sentiment of ‘We’ll see things they’ll never see’ runs throughout. As fun as the sonics are, it’s the honesty and integrity of Luke Branch’s vocal delivery which cuts through the room. It almost makes Jarvis’ heyday look trite.  

Togetherness is thrown into disarray on ‘Napalm Bubblegum’. Worlds are torn down as their brand of cosmic guitar licks enter hyper drive. “This bubbles gonna blow” is putting it mildly. It erupted into a rabid frenzied attack of the senses.

With the success of their second album ‘Alien Human Emotions’, this was the perfect send of for the 2018 by the Essex outfit. Intimate but far reaching, feral but loving, Asylums have hit a groove that will surely win hearts and minds for a long time to come.

*Image courtesy of Rob Humm / Si Deaves / Thomas Prescott 

Ayslums – Alien Human Emotions

Asylums' debut album 'Killer Brain Waves' sought to bring a humble and thoughtfulness to pop-punk but, whilst hugely enjoyable, never quite got there. Could there follow up 'Alien Human Emotions' hit the sport?

'When We Wake Up' is as joyous as pop-punk has ever sounded. It's one of those choruses which can only be sung as if life is ebbing away from the soul and this is the last chance at saving yourself. Lyrically though, it doesnt really challenge the perception that Asylums are more than just a fun band.

That proves to be an anomaly on this album. On 'Napalm Bubblegum', they go harder than ever and deliver the sounds of a volatile youth crashing and burning. If Hollywood were to remake 'A Rebel Without A Cause' (they've rebooted everything else), this simply has to be on the soundtrack.

With age, often comes clarity and confidence. Asylums song writing is proof of that on 'Homeowners Guilt' and 'Millennials'. They move away from layered lyrics and hit a direct, almost sloganeering style which inevitably will garner more universal appeal.

Both tackle the generational divide emerging in the UK today. 'Homeowners Guilt' feels like a wry piss take on shitty circumstances the baby boomers have left us in. it couldn't possibly be their fault could it? 'Millennials' acts for Asylums as 'Design For Life' did for the Manics. It feels like their most defining statement of identity to date. It may not match the lyrical power of Nicky Wire's ode but, it shows a band a well on their way to defining their age.

Not only have the Essex outfit achieved meaningful status, in certain places they've surpassed all expectations. There is a cohesion to this offing that, given the right exposure might, just might see them unite the millennial generation.