ALBUM REVIEWS (JAN/FEB 2014)


2ND DISTRICT
WHAT’S INSIDE YOU!?
(Wanda)
Third full length from these German glam punks.
6/10

2nd District’s first two full-length platters may be familiar to some, as ‘Emotional Suicide’ (2006) and ‘Poverty Makes Angry’ (2009) were released through People Like You Records. For the uninitiated, 2nd District pump out a kind of glam-tinted ’77 punk that has flashes of early Manic Street Preachers coupled with the driving anthems of the Buzzcocks and Placebo-esque vocals. The emphasis is less on the indie sound of these comparisons here though, as tracks like ‘The Bourgeois Attitude’ have a glittery yet razor sharp stomp about them. ‘What’s Inside You!?’ does have a bit of filler here and there, but on the whole it carries some fine glam punk tunes in its grooves and its heady mix of old and new are blended seamlessly to create some highly listenable songs.
Miles Hackett

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ALBUM REVIEWS (JUL/AUG)

AIRBOURNE
BLACK DOG BARKING
(Roadrunner)
Aussie hard rockers kick out the jams on album three.
8/10

If you’re curious as to who will keep Aussie rock alive and kicking once AC/DC and Rose Tattoo are gone then Airbourne are the answer. Imbued with that true gang mentality that makes their influences so exhilarating, they’re the real deal. They live for rock, booze, women and cars, with opener ‘Ready To Rock’ setting the tone. Foot stomping riffs, massive guitar solos and a truly relentless tempo give the record punch and passion. Highlights include the anthemic ‘Firepower’, ‘Live It Up’ and building ‘Back In The Game’, with choruses as big as the riffs. The title track has a darker, underdog edge, while the sleazy ‘Woman Like That’ and Metallica-esque ‘Hungry’ show some slight changes from the winning formula. But overall, ‘Black Dog Barking’ is straight-up, good time, beer and sweat-soaked rock music, in true Aussie style. Play very loud.
John Truman
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ALBUM REVIEWS

NEW ALBUMS

ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL
DON’T HEAR IT… FEAR IT!
(Rise Above)
Hastings three-piece take you on a mind-melting prog/hard rock trip.
8/10

Heavily influenced by the likes of Budgie, Sabbath and Quo, this trio, named after a 17th century English naval commander, lead the listener on a mighty adventure with their mighty debut full-length. With Johnny Gorilla’s gritty, half-shouted, half-sung vocals and massively fuzzed out guitar, Louis Comfort-Wiggett’s wandering bass lines and Bill Darlington’s thundering drum work, this is a big step up from their EP, ‘Return To Zero’. With riffs and raw delivery on the album highlights, including blistering opener ‘Mark Of The Beast’ and the ominous ‘Scratchin And Sniffin’ – the latter of which is very short by their standards at just (!) five minutes. Dirty, lowdown and bursting with a love for their influences, this is a hefty debut that deserves to be played, loud. Hear it… and fear it.
John Truman

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ALBUM REVIEWS


NEW ALBUMS

ALAN DAVEY
CYBER TOOTH
(Earthquake)
Latest solo outing from Gunslinger main man and Hawklords bassist.
8/10

Adaptable as ever, you’ve got to hand it to Davey: he’s a master of versatility, and a prolific one at that too. With all instruments played by Davey himself, this really is a solo album in the truest sense of the word. Judging from some of the song titles and lyrics it might reasonably be construed that this is a concept album of sorts too, but don’t let that put you off. Alternating between pounding space rock, foreboding electronic soundscapes and bass-driven techno space chases parts of this album wouldn’t sound out of place on a sci-fi movie – just check out ‘Doomjuice (It’s Coming)’ or ‘Rootkit’. Elsewhere, the ambient electronica of ‘Polymorphic Code’ is a cross between Davey’s old band Hawkwind and Future Sound of London. Cyber Tooth really does have a nasty bite that’ll certainly leave its mark on you. 
Rich Deakin



ALVA

SAUDADE DO FUTURO
(Knuckle Soup)
Debut UK album from Brazilian rockers.

7/10

Drawing influence from bands as wide-ranging as Fugazi, The Clash, Helmet and Radiohead, this four-piece’s rock assault is a driving and refreshing sound that has nods to the classics. Opener ‘Deixe Sangrar’ has a touch of early Foo Fighters about it while ‘Acordei Bemol/Diminuto’ sounds a bit like if Queens of the Stone Age went on a prog jam. The likes of ‘Sonata Para Samsa’ mix crunching guitars with mellow horns while ‘Auto-exilio’ ends with some far Eastern sounding effects, stressing their complete lack of fear of experimentation and spreading their musical wings. With Spanish vocals and a totally unrestrained approach, Alva are a dynamic and tight unit, with many years as a band under their belts. Working on new material this Summer, ‘Saudade Do Futuro’ is hopefully just the first of many UK releases from these talented Brazilians.
Kelly Oliver

ANDRE WILLIAMS
HOODS AND SHADES
(Bloodshot)
Chicago rebel bluesman walks it like he talks it.
7/10

Authenticity goes a long way in country music, where songwriters have been creating songs out of troubled pasts for as long as the genre’s existed. Andre Williams spent stretches of his life on the hard streets of Chicago and has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse. That level of authenticity in Andre’s music shows – no one is born with this much grit in their voice. ‘Hoods and Shades’, Andre’s fifteenth album, is slightly more varied in approach than the bluesman’s previous output, but there’s nothing here that’s all too different from what’s come before in a career spanning over 50 years. ‘A Good Day To Feel Bad’ is a burst of raunchy roadhouse blues that’d make the perfect background music for a bar brawl, while ‘Mogo Hannah’ and ‘Dirt’ are similar foot-stompers, straight-forward and alluringly vulgar in their instrumentation.
Scott Zverblis

ANGEL WITCH
AS ABOVE SO BELOW
(Rise Above)
NWOBHM unsung heroes make a mighty comeback.
8/10


Chinese Democracy’ may have taken Axl 15 years to get together but it’s been no less than 26 years since London heavy metallers Angel Witch released their last studio album – 1986’s ‘Frontal Assault’. Best known for their thundering self-titled 1980 debut, which was a landmark release for NWOBHM alongside the likes of Saxon and Iron Maiden, vocalist/guitarist and driving force Kevin Heybourne is back with a new line-up (including metal guitar legend Bill Steer of Carcass) and a sound that harks back to the band’s classic early sound – avoiding the passing trends and playing with true passion on newly penned tracks like ‘Geburah’ and ‘Brainwashed’. ‘As Above So Below’ also includes songs that date back to their late ’70s heyday but never saw the light, such as live favourites ‘Guillotine’ and ‘Into The Dark’. Fall under Angel Witch’s spell.
John Damon

THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS 

NOISE AND REVOLUTION

(Fuel)

East end punk-blues kings get radical.
7/10


A concept album of sorts – if you can handle that from the dependably no-nonsense Bermondseys – Gary Lammin’s boisterous blues-rock trio have teamed up with former MC5 manager and agitator par excellence John Sinclair for a punkily politicised rave up. It’s not such an outlandish notion on closer examination; Lammin has long carried the torch for UK punk’s kick-against-the-pricks ethos, and the raw energy of the Joyriders’ Faces-in-bovver-boots sound places the band in fairly close kinship to the 5’s Motor City roar. ‘Noise And Revolution’ is loud, fast, cheekily confrontational, and for all Sinclair’s drawled inter-song narratives, distinctly British – the humble cup of tea receiving its proper tribute, even above Sinclair’s preferred methods of herbal recreation. Lammin’s bluesy bellow is at peak flow throughout, and the rousing strains of his overdriven slide are a sure-fire thrill. 
Hugh Gulland

BOB WAYNE

TILL THE WHEELS FALL OFF
(People Like You)

The Outlaw Carnie hits the road hard.

7/10

Mixing outlaw country with a punkabilly snarl and spitting lyrics about drink, drugs, girls, hating the law and living on the road, this is the sound of rebel country, turned up to 11 and given a kick up the arse. The Nashville singer is backed by a host of instruments, including banjos, fiddles and upright bass, and writes cinematic and sometimes autobiographical songs that will have you hollering along in no time. Like his debut ‘Outlaw Carnie’, this second album is a raucous release that fans of the likes of Hank III, Zeke or Johnny Cash should drink down easy. Highlights include ‘A Pistol And A 100 Dollar Bill’ and the rousing title track opener. Punk as fuck and not interested in playing it safe – this guy is the real deal. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 
John Damon

BRIAN JAMES GRAND CRU

CHATEAU BRIAN
(Easy Action)
Former Damned guitarist goes acoustic.
8/10

You’ve possibly never heard Brian James sound like this before. Gone are James’ trademark high-energy punk rock electric guitar licks only to be replaced by a collection of mostly tender and heartfelt acoustic numbers, but he wears it well… really well. With just an acoustic guitar, piano and accordion between them, the depth and range of musical emotions achieved by James and Mark Taylor is broad, and ‘Crawlin’ My Way Back Home’ is particularly atmospheric. James’ vocals lend themselves well to the blues guitar workouts and roots tunes, and with his Caribbean lilt there’s a distinct calypso feel to ‘Mango’. ‘Chateau Brian’ then is a high grade collection of great acoustic numbers, it may not be Damned good, but it’s still good nevertheless. Give it a listen.
Rich Deakin

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
WRECKING BALL
(Columbia)
The Boss addresses the financial crisis on seventeenth studio album.
8/10

Springsteen has said that “[this album is an] indictment of Wall Street greed and corruption and a look into the devastation it has wrought”, and it’s an album full of stories of economic struggle that only he can do justice to. From the patriotism meets disgust at the government of opener ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ (think ‘Born In The USA’) to the Giants Stadium tribute/defiant anthem of the title track, the Celtic folk-infused rock of ‘Death To My Hometown’ and the gospel flavoured ‘Rocky Ground’, featuring a brief rap from Michelle Moore, this album’s the true definition of “a grower” and rewards you with more every listen. A critique of a country on its knees, it ends with the hopeful campfire song of ‘We Are Alive’, urging people to battle through hard times. There’s a reason they call him The Boss.
Ian Chaddock

CARDINAL 
HYMNS
(Fire)
’90s epic pop duo return with comeback album.

6/10

A historical curio, Cardinal’s debut dating from 1994 paired Eric Matthews (noted solo artist and producer of the Dandy Warhols, Elliott Smith and others) with Australian Richard Davies (solo, ex-Moles). It won fervent acclaim from the likes of the Flaming Lips (and even suggested new genre definitions; orch-pop and chamber-pop amongst them, before everyone wised up and moved on). This unexpected reunion pursues a similar musical leitmotif; harmonic flourishes and warm, undemonstrative brass overlay low-fi songcraft. It doesn’t sound revolutionary in any sense, but it has charm in abundance if you can get past its wistful insouciance. It thus works enchantingly on the Kinksy ‘I Am A Roman Gypsy’ or the ‘Carbolic Smoke Ball’ (one of several tracks redolent of Sergeant Pepper), but less well elsewhere, notably ‘General Hospital’, where the effect can be a little too winsome and self-conscious. 
Alex Ogg

DOWNTOWN STRUTS
VICTORIA!

(Pirates Press)

Uplifting melodic punk ‘n’ roll from Chicago. 

8/10

Having their praises sung by the likes of Face To Face’s Trever Keith and Street Dogs’ Mike McColgan, it’s easy to see why punk veterans are getting excited about this new band’s debut full-length ‘Victoria!’ Bursting with positivity and indie punk energy, with nods to the greats whilst still sounding fresh and modern (no small feat), tracks such as the incredibly infectious ‘Postcards’, rousing ‘Back to N.Y.’ and the driving ‘Tim’ and ‘Lost In America’ are drenched in melody and well-placed backing vocals, all creating upbeat sing-alongs that will embed themselves in your consciousness. Fans of the likes of the Bouncing Souls, the Menzingers and the Replacements should definitely give this a go. No wonder they’re strutting, they’re just getting started so imagine what the next record could sound like.
Ian Chaddock

THE DYNAMITE PUSSY CLUB
CHURCH OF YEAH!
(Motorsounds)
Maximum fuzz and a little bit of soul.
8/10

From the ashes of West Country garage rockers Rusty Springfield comes a new kind of kick in the shape of The Dynamite Pussy Club. When their bassist called it quits, the remaining duo decided to do down the original Cramps route by doing away with the bass altogether, recruiting another guitarist and doubling up on fuzz guitar. Introducing Detroit influences and some spooky Theremin into the mix, they’ve come up with a far groovier product than their previous incarnation. ‘Testify’ sounds like Mudhoney jamming with James Brown, while ‘Get With It’ and ‘Under the Groove’ give Jon Spencer a run for his money. Finally ‘Boogie Shoes’ climaxes like Therapy?’s ‘Teeth Grinder’ given a garage makeover. If you’re into King Kahn and the Shrines, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Kid Congo’s Pink Monkey Birds this’ll really float your boat.
Lee Cotterell

THE ENEMY

STREETS IN THE SKY

(Cooking Vinyl)

Coventry indie rockers soar with harder edged third album.
9/10

You couldn’t really see it coming that swaggering Brit rock types The Enemy, who enjoyed chart success with their Album Chart topping 2007 debut ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ and number two peaking follow-up, 2009’s ‘Music for the People’, would team up with Joby Ford of LA hardcore punks The Bronx as producer for their third record. But that’s exactly what happened and an album with a live-sounding, harder biting approach is unsurprisingly the result. Coming on like Oasis or Kasabian but with the balls of guitar-driven Britrock in the vein of Feeder at their most driving, it’s good that the swagger has muscle behind it. Highlights include boisterous first single ‘Gimme The Sign’, the punchy, upbeat anthem ‘Saturday’ and the suitably titled ‘Get Up And Dance’ all sound massive. Refreshed and renewed, watch them fly (again). 
Kelly Oliver

GALLON DRUNK 

THE ROAD GETS DARKER FROM HERE

(Clouds Hill)

Ferocious new sounds from the ‘Drunk.
8/10


The first new material under the Gallon Drunk banner from James Johnston and company in some years, ‘The Road Gets Darker From Here’ is a concise eight tracks, conceived during intensive sessions at Hamburg’s renowned Clouds Hill studio. From opener ‘You Made Me’, the ‘Drunk are back in business, rattling at the bars with raw savagery on ‘Hanging On’ and ‘A Thousand Years’, the latter replete with Stoogey saxophone squawks. Underground Railroad’s vocalist Marion Andrau adds a note of delicacy to the yearning ‘Stuck In My Head’, in contrast to the all-out dissonance of ‘Killing Time’ or the reeking grindhouse thrust of ‘Just Can’t Help But Stare’. Closing in style with the mesmeric pulse of ‘The Perfect Dancer’, this album captures the kinetic surge of Gallon Drunk at their snarling best.
Hugh Gulland

GRAHAM COXON
A + E

(Parlophone)
Blur guitarist and art/rock outsider with urgent eighth solo album. 

7/10


Speeding along with healthy doses of his buzz-saw guitar trademark and interspersed with shades of Krautrock, psychedelic undertones and the left-field spectrum of punk, this ten track outing oozes confidence and quirky introspection, rarely stalling or losing direction. Whilst opening track ‘Advice’ sets the pace well, second track, ‘City Hall’ feels a little out of place so early on but the loss of momentum is quickly regained with the rest of the album. Stand out tracks are ‘Advice’, ‘Running For Your Life’ (a dig at pop culture bullies) and ‘Ohh, Yeh, Yeh’. ‘A + E’ is a confident and multi-layered set proving that, with or without Blur, the world needs the talents of one of today’s most inventive and unique artists.
Tony Beesley



HAWKWIND
ONWARD
(Eastworld)
Space rock legends return with typically sprawling 25th album.
8/10

“Revealing ancient prophecies, aligning constellations, urban violence and touchy feely robots”. Only on a Hawkwind press release would you read a statement like that and actually agree with it. With their latest album Hawkwind don’t hold back, with a double-disc, 17 track epic that veers from driving classic rock (‘The Hills Have Ears’) to acoustic ballads (‘Mind Cut’) before switching it up with an energetic space punk attack (‘Death Trap’) and a blissed out dance track that’s sounds like a song that would be playing as you look at the Earth from a spaceship (‘The Prophecy’). And all that’s just the first disc. In the hands of lesser musicians this would all sound disjointed and forced but these seasoned veterans make these unlikely combinations gel and ebb and flow over an album that’s almost as huge and unlimited as space itself. 
Duncan Finn



HILLBILLY MOON EXPLOSION
RAW DEAL

(Jungle)
Anglo-Swiss-Italian rockabilly heroes’ collection drawing from three albums. 

9/10

Based in Zurich and with a truly European line-up, Hillbilly Moon Explosion are influenced by a range of rock and pop – distilled into their retro-looking rockabilly, with the mesmerising male/female vocals of slap bassist Oliver Baroni and Emanuela Hutter. Compiling fourteen of their finest songs from their first three albums – their fourth album ‘Buy Beg Or Steal’ was issued last year on Goldtop – this retrospective brings you up to date with one of the most exciting bands in the genre right now. From the energetic opener ‘Maniac Lover’ to the unspeakably cool ‘Chick Habit’, the humorous ‘Johnny Are You Gay?’ and the aptly titled ‘Clarksdale Boogie’, this compilation shows exactly why they’ll be playing the Jazz Cafe and Rebellion festival in the same week.
Kelly Oliver

HOLLIE COOK

PRINCE FATTY PRESENTS: HOLLIE COOK IN DUB
(Mr Bongo)

Sex Pistol’s daughter’s reggae debut gets reworked.
7/10

The great thing about modern reggae style music is that it’s derived from a number of different genres and from a range of different cultures. A coming together of all cultures creating a beautiful blend of richly original music. The epitome of that originality is ‘Prince Fatty Presents: Hollie Cook in Dub’, Prince Fatty’s hypnotic reworking of Cook’s debut album. Fatty manipulates and reshapes Cook’s original recordings and cover versions in an utterly compelling way: weaving mellow reggae grooves and melodic bass lines around Hollie’s sun-kissed vocals. Songs like ‘Milk and Honey Dub’ and ‘That Very Night Dub’, fuse dub elements, roots reggae and jazz, while others, including a cover of the Andrew Sister’s classic ‘And The Beat Goes’, get ska makeovers. This is the perfect summertime record: the ideal soundtrack for drinking rum and coke under a swaying palm tree.
Scott Zverblis

HUDSON FALCONS
DANCING UNDERNEATH THE MOONLIGHT
(I Hate People)
New Jersey roots punk rockers.
6/10

Any fans of the likes of The Gaslight Anthem, the Replacements and the Ramones could do with giving Jersey veterans the Hudson Falcons’ latest album a listen. Fronted by Mark Linskey, there’s soul and passion to these driving anthems, evident on the likes of the rousing ‘Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down’, the piano-driven, Springsteen loving ‘Everything’s Alright’ and the acoustic road song ‘Interstate Bound’. It’s a sound that’s being done a lot lately and, to be fair, better by others. However, the ‘Falcons definitely mean it and, after ten years together, are still playing with their hearts on their sleeves and a refreshing honesty in their down-to-earth lyrics. File under ‘Boss punk/rock’ and let ‘Dancing Under The Moonlight’ blast out of your car windows on a warm summer’s night.
Kelly Oliver

JACK WHITE
BLUNDERBUSS

(XL)

Raconteurs/The Dead Weather frontman aims for a solo career.
7/10

Produced by Jack White and recorded at his own Third Man Studio in Nashville, the ex-White Stripe and current vocalist of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather has finally gone it alone with ‘Blunderbuss’, describing it as “my own colours on my own canvas”. He’s always been somewhat of an enigma – for every great garage rock song there’s a story about him doing something truly strange, like working with the Insane Clown Posse or Tom Jones. The blues rock and power pop of ‘Blunderbuss’ is as strange as you’d expect, it’s an angry and disillusioned recently divorced White who accuses evil women of causing all his problems, pretty much, on the likes of first single ‘Love Interruption’, ‘Freedom At 21’ and ‘Trash Tongue Talker’. Oddly though, his ex-wife Karen Elson performs plenty of backing vocals. Another weird but mesmerising White release? You bet.
Kelly Oliver

KING HAMMOND 

DANCING IN THE GARDEN OF EVIL 

(King Hammond)
Dark reggae and more from the prolific King.
6/10

Nick Welsh has a longer track record in ska/reggae than most people, having been a member of both Bad Manners and the Selecter in the late ’80s/early ’90s as well as his own Skaville UK. Two years ago he brought back one of his first musical projects, King Hammond, and ‘Dancing in the Garden of Evil’ is, believe it or not, the fourth album he’s released since then. Whilst its core is in reggae, ‘Dancing…’ sees King Hammond explore different territories, some of which resemble the Alabama 3’s darker side, especially on the title track, and ’70s new wave on ‘Fuck Arts Lets Dance’. Its mix of styles are all held together with some decent songwriting, which makes ‘Dancing…’, only available from the King Hammond website, an album worth a second look.
Andy Peart

LEE BAINS III AND THE GLORY FIRES
THERE IS A BOMB IN GILEAD
(Alive)
Former garage rocker evokes the sound of Mussel Shoals.
7/10

Lee Bains III is a veteran of cult Alabama garage rockers The Dexateens and now fronts the much mellower The Glory Fires, having swapped the buzzsaw guitars for southern-fried Americana in a Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers vein. Fittingly, this album has one foot in the Mississippi and the other in the garage stronghold of Detroit, having been recorded in the former and mixed in the latter. Anthemic country-tinged songs abound, with pedal steel aplenty, but there are some nifty lyrical nods to his punkier roots, like “You can keep that t-shirt my brother got that time he saw the Ramones” (‘Everything You Took From Me’). With its melancholy piano intro, the title track closes the album with traces of gospel and Neil Young. One for fans of the Drive By Truckers/Jason and The Scorchers.
Lee Cotterell

THE LEVELLERS
STATIC ON THE AIRWAVES
(On The Fiddle)
A real return to form by the punk-folk institution.
9/10

With their new album recorded in the Czech Republic, there was patently something in the Czech air (or beer!) that brought out the very best in The Levellers. ‘Static On The Airwaves’ truly deserves the accolade of a return to form. It’s a confident and staggeringly effective album that finds the band revitalised, vocalist Mark Chadwick imposing a new authority, especially on the chilling ‘Our Forgotten Towns’, the boisterous ‘Raft Of The Medusa’ and the historical ballad ‘Mutiny’, where the poignancy in his vocal is thinly disguised. The whole band gels particularly well throughout, and they save possibly the best for last in a rip-roaring and timely reworking and rewrite of old anti-war ballad ‘Twa Recruitin’ Sergeants’ (‘The Recruiting Sergeant’), which is destined to become a live favourite.
Sean McGhee

LONDON

REBOOT
(Bin Liner)

Three and a half decades later, the London punks return.
6/10

London, the underground punk act from Britain’s second wave, reunites after 34 years with half of its first-album line-up intact; Riff Regan (vocals) and Steve Voice (bass). Hugh O’Donnell (guitar) and Colin Watterston (drums) fill in the gaps. You have to wonder what would inspire 50-year-old blokes to dust off their instruments and shout about the world’s problems like nothing had changed since ’78. Nevertheless, things come off pretty well for the band, who were once managed by legendary music manager Simon Robert Napier-Bell, and it’s amazing to think that, even after all these years apart, the band can record a fairly decent album. However, knowing the current climate of the music charts – saturated with guys with laptops – ‘Reboot’ may not get the amount of record sales that it deserves, which is a real shame.
Scott Zverblis

THE MEMBERS 

IN_GRR_LAND 

(AngloCentric) 

Re-Member ‘Sound of the Suburbs’?

6/10

‘IN_GRR_LAND’ is the fourth studio album from punk/reggae band The Members, famed for 1979 single ‘Sound of the Suburbs’. Produced by Human League engineer and Cure producer David M. Allen, it features original members JC Carroll, Chris Payne and Nigel Bennett (also of Vibrators fame) with former Damned drummer Rat Scabies on four of the twelve tracks. The album is a basic ’70s punk style with moments of grunge and the odd spot of Celtic influence, as on the track ‘Remember us’, but nothing here particularly breaks new ground. The opening track is the anthemic ‘New English Blues Part 2’ and Chris Payne belts out a cover of the Move’s ‘Fire Brigade’ with an Eddie Cochrane/Ramones vibe. ‘IN_GRR_LAND’ certainly has the courage of its convictions to be exactly what it is: a brazen self-styled punk throwback. 
Mark Ottowell



OFF! 

OFF! 

(Vice) 

Debut full-length from the Californian hardcore punk supergroup.

9/10

Following on from their explosive EP boxset from 2010 is another sixteen tracks of Californian punk rock brilliance from former Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris and his merry men, OFF! This blistering next instalment clocks in at just under sixteen minutes and is about as raw and pissed off as hardcore punk gets, with Morris snarling at the helm from start to finish. From the sneering vitriol of ‘I’ve Got News For You’ to the lesson learned of ‘Feelings Are Meant To Be Hurt’, OFF! repeatedly slap you in the face with an angry wake-up call. Sometimes the brief nature of the tracks doesn’t allow them to develop but, that said, OFF! aren’t here to win scene points, in fact they spit on the rule book and shit all over their contemporaries from a great height. Long may they reign!
Miles Hackett

THE POPES
NEW CHURCH

(Shake The Tree)
Former Shane MacGowan fronted band release fourth full-length. Praise be!
9/10

Originally formed in 1994 by Shane MacGowan when he left the Pogues, he recorded two studio albums and a live album with the Popes before they parted ways. ‘New Church’, the band’s latest album with vocalist/guitarist Paul ‘Mad Dog’ McGuinness is a rabble-rousing sing-along from start to finish. The likes of the driving opener ‘Storming Heaven’ and Celtic ‘How Many Bullets’ show they mean business, while the catchy, upbeat ‘Alice’ and ‘Throw Down Your Aces’, the latter featuring a guest spot from Howard Marks, shows they’re having a hell of a lot of fun. McGuinness’ harsh vocals combines with the rhythm section and fiddle playing to make this the perfect drinking soundtrack. As Irish as Guinness, The Popes have released one of their tastiest efforts yet with ‘New Church’.
Duncan Finn

THE PRIMITIVES 

ECHOES AND RHYMES 
(Elefant)
Welcome return from Coventry’s perfect pop heroes.
8/10

It’s been a fair while since the Primitives’ short, sharp pop songs brightened up the charts. However, twenty odd years on ‘Echoes and Rhymes’ finds them back with an album of fairly obscure cover versions mainly from the ’60s, all originally sung by female singers such as Nico and Dana Gillespie. The tracks were no doubt handpicked by guitarist Paul Court whose love of the genre is well documented. From Adam and Eve’s weighty ‘The Witch’ to Reparta and the Delron’s sprightly ‘Panic’, it sounds as if the reunited Primitives are having a lot of fun and Tracy Tracy’s vocals remain untouched by time. Court draws parallels with Dutch band Shocking Blue, also covered, in the sleeve notes because they “had a few other good tunes besides the one big hit they’re mainly remembered for”, though the Primitives had more than just a ‘few’. Good to have them back.
Andy Peart

THE RADIATORS
FROM SPACE
SOUND CITY BEAT
(Chiswick/Ace)
Cover their influences.
7/10

The Radiators From Space were there right at the beginning of punk hitting the top 20 of the charts in their native Ireland. The band shone brightly but briefly but left a couple of albums and a handful of singles still revered today. This is their fourth album (the third seeing the light of day in 2007 after a quarter of a century hiatus) and is a collection of songs that generally predate punk. Those songs have been carefully chosen and reflect a sometimes wistful lyrical look back at those good old days whilst oozing a feel-good vibe. The feel is maybe too laid back in places, sometimes maybe chilling too much to easy listening, but that is it exactly. 18 tracks and 54 minutes of personal nostalgia by a band going right back to their roots rather than to their old selves.
Simon Nott

RADIO MOSCOW
3 AND 3 QUARTERS
(Alive)
Iowan psychedelic blues rocker’s unreleased debut album.
7/10

The fourth release from Radio Moscow, this actually predates their three albums as it’s the previously unreleased debut that multi-instrumentalist Parker Griggs recorded by himself when he was 17/18. At the time Griggs recalls that he was in a high school punk/hardcore band but was disillusioned with it and recorded it as soon as they cancelled a tour halfway through. Influenced at the time by the likes of the Nuggets, the Seeds and Chocolate Watchband, amongst others, this is raw, basement-recorded garage/blues rock that shows the roots of where Radio Moscow would go from here as a full band. The likes of the blazing opener ‘You’re Doing It To Me’, the suitably titled, menacing ‘We’re All Troubled’ and the raucous ‘The Stomp!’ are simple but powerful slices of rock ‘n’ roll chaos. Great stuff – a thrilling blast from the past. 
Kelly Oliver

RAT CITY RIOT
BETTER THAN NOTHING
(I Hate People)
Gritty “street rock” from San Diego.

7/10


Celebrating their ten year anniversary this year and supporting Rancid in Germany, these raucous, raw-vocalled punk-infused rockers go straight for the throat. With high-energy anthems such as ‘Better Than Nothing’ full of driving rhythms and fist-in-the-air gang vocals, their sound is broader than most street punk bands, hence the “street rock” tag. Their sound isn’t particularly groundbreaking but it is good to hear a band that have almost as much polish as spit, resulting in shining stompers such as ‘Long Run’ and ‘Foot To The Floor’. A raw cover of Fugazi’s ‘Waiting Room’ is ill-advised though. Clearly reinvigorated and hungry again with their new line-up, Rat City Riot are well worth your time and ‘Better Than Nothing’ certainly doesn’t live up to its name, sure to get you singing along in no time. Well worth checking out.
Duncan Finn

THE REAL McKENZIES
WESTWINDS

(Fat Wreck)
Canadian Celt punks whip up a storm.
6/10

Vancouver’s Real McKenzies use their Canadian and Scottish heritage to create a Celtic influenced sound in much the same way The Dropkick Murphys explored their Boston/Irish roots. However, anyone accusing them of jumping on the Celt punk bandwagon deserves short shrift as the Real McKenzies have been plying their trade for no less than twenty years and had members of the Descendents, Avail and Good Riddance pass through their ranks over the years. While their latest studio album, the first album of new material since 2008’s ‘Off The Leash’, is no radical departure from its predecessors, it’s chock full of enough stirring, bagpipe-driven anthems like ‘The Tempest’, ‘Fool’s Road’ and ‘Barrett’s Privateers’ to keep the fans happy. They’re also far better than most of the bands they predate so getting taking notes, ya scurvy sea dogs!
Lee Cotterell

RICHARD HAWLEY
STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE
(EMI)
Hawley goes stellar sonic.
8/10

To call this album simply atmospheric would do it a colossal disservice, in that respect it is stellar, it was recorded in Sheffield but sounds intergalactic. That language may sound a bit too ‘Star Trek’ but the intention of the album was to be a sonic assault on the senses and that is exactly what it is, whilst made up of a more traditional stripped down rock band line-up of drum, bass and guitars. You never quite know where you are as heartfelt lyrics and swirling guitar notes suddenly swirl in a cacophony of solo riffage and rocket noises and back again. Were LSD still all the rage this would be the perfect soundtrack to good trips being pulled back from the brink from bad ones in a guitar-driven aural adventure.
Simon Nott

STEVE SWINDELLS
THE LOST ALBUMS: THE INVISIBLE MAN / TREACHERY
(Flicknife)
Lost albums finally see the light for the first time in over 30 years.
5/10 / 7/10

Consisting of two sessions of demo recordings from 1980 that were ostensibly made as potential follow-ups to Swindells’ first solo album ‘Fresh Blood’, ‘Lost Albums’ is a bit of a mixed bag. ‘Invisible Man’ is typical early ’80s FM-lite rock – it’s high on emotions, but not nearly reminiscent of Hawkwind, for whom Swindells had previously been keyboardist. It does have its moments though, and Swindells sounds remarkably like Elvis Costello on the poppy ‘Dancin’ Shoes’. ‘Treachery’ is the more preferable of the two ‘Lost Albums’, sounding altogether more in tune with new wave, with echoes of Costello again at times, whilst ‘Love Propaganda’ is a skanking white reggae rocker. It has a heavier edge to it too, and ‘I Wanna Be Wild’ follows an exuberant Springsteen-esque template. Featuring Big Country’s rhythm session, and Pete Townshend’s brother Simon on guitar, ‘Treachery’ is also more musically rounded and accomplished.
Rich Deakin

THE TERRACES

THE TERRACES
(Blast)
English/Australian punk rockers unleash strutting debut.
7/10

Formerly founding One Way System in England, who would be the first band to sign to Cherry Red’s Anagram label and enjoy chart success in the ’80s in the UK and Europe, Gary Buckley has now moved to Melbourne and got together a new band of old school punks. From the band name and the chants of “United! United!” at the end of suitably titled opener ‘The Internationals’, there’s certainly an oi! influence. However, the reggae-influenced punk stomp of ‘Care About Nothing’ and the raucous ‘Union’ show this four-piece have got a few tricks up their sleeves. However, for better or worse, it’s mostly stripped back, simple and punchy – see the football-referencing ’25 Years’ and the self-explanatory ‘The Hustler’. The aggression is matched with melody throughout though, making this an enjoyable listen to sing along to with a fist in the air.
Duncan Finn

THE TOY DOLLS
THE ALBUM AFTER THE LAST ONE
(Secret)
Super-sharp veteran UK pop punks are back again, tongues in cheeks.
7/10

Sunderland’s Toy Dolls released their first single, ‘Tommy Kowey’s Car’, in 1980 and from the start they crafted a unique style of fast but bouncy punk tunes, with highly comical lyrics about soaps and mates. Olga’s distinctive, high-pitched vocals and dazzling guitar skills helped them score a massive hit with their fun cover of ‘Nellie The Elephant’ going to No.4 on the chart in 1984. This blistering new album finds the band getting topical with ‘Credit Crunch Christmas’ and re-visiting Corrie on ‘Molly Was Immoral’, but ‘Decca’s Drinkin’ Dilemma’, about the former Upstarts drummer, is a bit of a downer. However, overall it’s the Toy Dolls back doing exactly what they do best. There are also three bonus Olga acoustic tracks, including old favourite ‘Fiery Jack’.
Shane Baldwin

VARIOUS ARTISTS

THE JOURNEY IS LONG – THE JEFFREY LEE PIERCE SESSIONS PROJECT
(Glitterhouse)

An excavation of the Gun Club man’s unrecorded works.

7/10

For the sequel to 2008’s ‘We Are Only Riders’, a formidable troupe of the late Gun Club frontman’s admirers and collaborators has again gathered to breathe life into the archive of rough demos and unfinished works preserved by project coordinator Cypress Grove. With the exception of the 1987 single ‘Breaking Hands’ – captivatingly rendered here by Nick Cave and Debbie Harry – these are previously unheard songs. Since his death in 1996, Jeffrey’s talents have reaped far wider recognition than during his lifetime, and over the eighteen tracks here the quality of his songwriting is reconfirmed. With sterling contributions from a cast list including Steve Wynn, Lydia Lunch, Thalia Zedek, Barry Adamson and Mick Harvey, Jeffrey’s unique vision of ‘surrealism and blues’ is respectfully handled. 
Hugh Gulland

REISSUES

BAD BRAINS
RISE
(4Worlds)

Confused funk rock fifth album with members missing from 1993.
3/10

Bad Brains’ groundbreaking 1982 self-titled album, its 1983 follow-up ‘Rock For Light’ and 1986’s ‘I Against I’ were all landmark hardcore punk albums, the first two infusing reggae into the sound as well. However, 1993’s ‘Rise’ was a disaster. It was the first album from the Washington DC band on a major label. More importantly, and bizarrely, it didn’t feature iconic frontman H.R. or his brother Earl, instead replaced by vocalist Israel Joseph I on vocals and drummer Mackie Jayson (Cro-Mags). The result is one of the weaker records in the band’s back catalogue, with a sound that brings to mind the funk/rap rock of Living Colour and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The opening title track and the aptly titled ‘Unidentified’ show the problems, while the reggae of ‘Love is the Answer’ is pretty bland too. Sadly ‘Rise’ fails to stand up to the test of time.
Ian Chaddock

BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
THE COMPLETE UPSETTER SINGLES: 1970 – 1972 (PLUS DUBS)
(Northworld)
Reggae legend’s early career’s 18 singles (and dub versions) compiled.
7/10

Cut pre-world stardom, and doubtless released to coincide with the current retrospective film treatment of Jamaica’s most beloved son, these recordings, with none-more-maverick producer Lee Scatch Perry, did much to cement the modern conventions of reggae (mystical, philosophical, moving away from its earlier ska and rocksteady incarnations). These suffrah’s anthems, including ‘Duppy Conqueror’, ‘Small Axe’ and ‘African Herbsman’, have all been well-thumbed in a million compilations, of course, but at least there’s some chronological sense here. The annotation also reminds you of how much at this stage the Wailers (alongside Perry, and his Upsetters) were a team effort, with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh a vital part of the creative axiom. For evidence, try the Irie Scooby Doo ghost story of ‘Mr Brown’ or check out its dub companion, ‘Dracula’, on the bonus CD.
Alex Ogg

BUNNY MARRETT
I’M FREE
(Bristol Archive)
Timeless music for reggae/jazz lovers from influential Bristol figure.
7/10

Being shamefully neglected in the music business for more than twenty five years (with only a 12” with two tracks properly released back in 1981), reggae artist Bunny Marrett re-releases his 1986 recorded album ‘I’m Free’ and offers a Bob Marley-esque fusion of reggae and jazz that still sounds fresh today. Thanks to smooth percussions and a light-footed bass, as in the track ‘Times Are Geeting Harder’, this eight-track album offers you a joyous blend of American, English and Jamaican music styles. Accompanied by legendary Bristol band The Startled Insects, the fusion sounds on ‘I’m Free’, highlighted by song titles like ‘Jazzy Reggae’, ‘Jazzy Reggae Dub’ and ‘Hard Times Dub’. So, if you want to escape from the cold English weather you should give this album a go – it might elicit the sun in rainy London as well. 
Laura Reinberger



CRASS
TEN NOTES ON A SUMMER’S DAY – THE SWANSONG
(Crass)
The Crassical Collection reaches its climax with an atonal musical trip from the anarcho-punk architects.
5/10

While having released intricate classic albums such as ‘The Feeding of the 5,000’ and ‘Stations of the Crass’ the band decides to end their recording career with a rather obscure musical adventure. Basically what we’re facing is a track clocking around 10 minutes consisting of different parts – much like Green Day’s latter rock operas. Only this case it is atonal European avant garde inspired cacophony incorporating drum machines and choir built around some free form jazz piano plinking and plonking. Then when we get through that we get to hear it all again in its instrumental glory. At least this 1985 release made sure that Crass went out on their own terms and did not just conform to the rigid punk formula.
Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen


FIREHOSE
LOWFLOWS: THE COLUMBIA ANTHOLOGY (’91-’93) / FLYIN’ THE FLANNEL & MR MACHINERY OPERATOR
(Columbia / Eastworld)
Former Minutemen’s following band’s final two albums.
8/10 / 7/10

Released soon after the announcement of the fIREHOSE reunion tour, ‘lowFLOWs’ compiles all the recordings during the band’s time on Columbia Records (and coincidentally the last few years they were together), while Eastworld reissues both the album separately around the same time. Unlike the legions of ‘80s alt and college rock bands that jumped onto a major label in the wake of ‘Nevermind’’s success, fIREHOSE were able to join Columbia’s roster months before there was any pressure to capitalize on grunge’s success. Consequently, the first of the two studio albums featured here, 1991’s ‘Flyin’ The Flannel,’ is as defiantly independent as their records for SST, while 1993’s ‘Mr. Machinery Operator,’ on the other hand, is much more uneven, feeling like a reaction to the burgeoning alt movement. Highly recommended to those who have overlooked this portion of the band’s lifetime.
Chris Kopcow

HANSON BROTHERS
SUDDEN DEATH
(Wrong Records)
Ice hockey loving Canadians’ glory days revisited.
7/10

Not to be confused with the squeaky-clean siblings of ‘Mmm Bop’ fame, Vancouver’s Hanson Brothers, like their heroes the Ramones, feature no family members of that name. They are in fact the alter ego of John and Rob Wright and Tom Holliston of long-lasting punks Nomeansno. The name, since you asked, is in homage to the classic ’70s hockey flick ‘Slap Shot’. Probably sole purveyors of “puck rock”, hockey-themed tunes are easy to spot on this reissue of their ’96 sophomore album: ‘The Hockey Song’, ‘Stick Man’, ‘Rink Rat’ and ‘Danielle (She Don’t Care About Hockey)’ to name but four. There are probably some more subtle ones too. The music, however, is far from subtle, with lively breakneck buzzsaw punk the order of the day, nodding towards thrash metal on ‘Third Man In’.
Gerry Ranson



THE HUMAN LEAGUE

DARE

(Virgin)
Sheffield legends celebrate their 35th anniversary with an expanded edition of a new wave classic.

6/10


It may have been reissued a few times now but The Human League’s huge, chart topping 1981 album ‘Dare’ is still a new wave/synth pop classic. And this being their 35 year anniversary, they’ve decided to reissue the album again, with songs such as the massive single ‘Don’t You Want Me’, opener ‘The Things That Dreams Are Made Of’ and ‘Open Your Heart’ still as infectious as ever. This double-disc expanded edition, with the 2002 remaster of the original album added to by the newly remastered 12-inch remixes and instrumental versions on the first disc, and nearly all of the band’s 1983 ‘Fascination!’ EP on the second disc. These are all bells and whistles though as it’s the album itself that makes this worth picking up, if somehow you haven’t already. Catch the band’s 35th anniversary tour in November/December.
Kelly Oliver


JOHNNY CASH
BOOTLEG VOL. IV: THE SOUL OF TRUTH
(Sony/Legacy)
The man in black’s spiritual songs on a double-disc collection.
6/10


Although he’s known as a pioneering icon of hell-raising rebel country, Johnny Cash was a very religious man and a devoted Christian – something that was evident in a lot of his music throughout his career. This latest bootleg release features songs from the ’70s/’80s, including his 1979 ‘A Believer Sings The Truth’ and out-of-print 1982 ‘Johnny Cash – Gospel Singer’ albums. Featuring no less than 51 tracks over two discs, this compilation of released and unreleased material comprises of “the source of his vision”, according to son John R. Cash – gospel music. It’s good but it’s worlds away from the likes of ‘Man In Black’ and ‘Cocaine Blues’, which is where Cash is at his best for me. A true blessing for Cash completists though. 
Ian Chaddock

JOHNNY MOPED
THE JOHNNY MOPED BOOTLEG TAPES VOLUMES 1 & 2

(Damaged Goods)

Possibly certifiable Croydon punk/rock god.

7/10

Johnny Moped, or Paul Halford to his mother, was a genuine 24 carat nutcase, even in the same pre-punk Croydon scene that threw up the likes of Ray ‘Captain Sensible’ Burns, his guitarist in the early days, which is surely saying something. He rose to fame, of sorts, when the classic ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’ was included on the equally classic ‘Live At The Roxy’ compilation, after which the band signed to Chiswick. Before that, though, Moped and chums recorded hours of bedroom/garden tapes, which were later compiled, with some live material, into two ‘official’ bootleg tapes. Moped’s rambling spoken word ‘links’ are amusing, as is a 1977 phone message from Sensible boosting the great man, but believe it or not, there’s also some fine punk, rock, psychedelia and even funk among all the weirdness.
Shane Baldwin



MUDDY WATERS BLUES BAND
MUD IN YOUR EAR
(Wienerworld)
Ragged and passionate full-blooded blues from Waters’ band.
8/10

Released here for the first time on CD, this 1969 album (recorded in ’67) was the result of producer Alan Douglas (before his historical alliance with Jimi Hendrix) approaching Muddy Waters about making an album. Muddy couldn’t do so because of contractual commitments to Chess, but instead suggested Douglas recorded his band, fronted by singer/guitarist Luther ‘Snake’ Johnson, instead. Snake was from Georgia and had played with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Wells before joing Waters’ band. The result of the collaboration is a raw and powerful Chicago blues sound that was loose and passionate, on highlights such as ‘Long Distance Call’ and ‘I’m So Glad’. Waters may not have been able to sing but he did provide backing guitars and a few solos. More like pure joy in your ear than mud.
Ian Chaddock

MY BLOODY VALENTINE
ISN’T ANYTHING/LOVELESS/EPS 1988-1991
(Sony)
MBV lynchpin remasters classics with mixed results.
4/10

Since they first announced themselves in 1983 in a blizzard of noise pop, My Bloody Valentine have astounded and frustrated in equal measure. For every story of how ‘Loveless’ reinvigorated the UK indie rock scene upon its 1991 release, there’s another of how much of a headache band leader Kevin Shields was (Creation Records head Alan McGee, who released ‘Loveless’, famously had a massive falling out with Shields, essentially disowning ‘Loveless’ for a time. He’s since come around). Not a man to do things by half measures and unbending when it comes to working until he feels something’s finished, Shields has been remastering ‘Isn’t Anything’ and ‘Loveless’ in one form or
another of years (they were originally due out in June 2008). Now, four years later, they’re finally here, along with a compilation of the EPs.
Undeniable classics in their own right, this is a needless exercise – and that’s coming from a fan.
James Sharples

REVELATION ROCKERS
JAH PRAISES
(Bristol Archive)
Recorded in 1979 and lost in the archives, the band that would become Talisman have a proper release.
8/10

A time capsule to 1979, this entire recorded legacy of Bristol’s Revelation Rockers, on a vinyl only release as it would have been back in the day, is the first proper release of the band before they became Talisman. ‘Jah Praises’ is an insight into ’70s Britain suffering from racism, massive unemployment, industrial unrest and poverty. It’s scary how relevant it all is in 2012. With the likes of ‘Culture’, mourning the loss of cultural identity due to the legacy of slavery, ‘Wicked Dem’ – a song that would become a popular Talisman track but is here in its raw form – and closer ‘When You’re Away’, complete with horns. Thankfully this “lost” roots reggae album has been unearthed because it’s a diamond.
Duncan Finn 



SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK
DRESS FOR EXCESS

(Eastworld)

British new wave/glam punk “fantasy band” 1988 second album gets another go.

7/10

Formed by former Generation X bassist Tony James as a “fantasy band”, Sigue Sigue Sputnik enjoyed success from their first release. While 1986 debut album ‘Flaunt It’ produced hit singles ‘Love Missile F1-11′ and ’21st Century Boy’, as well as peaking at number 10 on the UK Album Chart, the London new wave band’s 1988 follow-up fared less well. There are still some great, punchy tunes here, such as ‘Albinoni vs Star Wars (Parts 1 & 2)’ and ‘Boom Boom Satellite’, it lacked the infectious sound of the debut and failed to capture people’s imaginations like their debut’s ads in-between songs. They may have been just a fun band for James before he joined the far darker The Sisters Of Mercy (and much later Carbon/Silicon with The Clash’s Mick Jones), but their music never took itself seriously, and was a blast because of that.
Kelly Oliver


SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS
ZOMBIFIED
(Kudzu)
Rare as hen’s teeth EP gets beefed-up re-issue.
7/10

This is an old recording by SCOTS but there’s a good chance that it will be new to a lot of you as it originally only saw the light of day in Australia as an EP back in 1998. It has been given the re-master treatment and sounds as fresh as if it was dug up yesterday. The original concept of the EP was as a tribute to low-budget horror and exploitation movies and features song themed accordingly. The style and influences range from steel-driven country to ballads, albeit about torture – complete with screams. It’s hard to tell if the ‘new’ material is new or just rescued from a vault somewhere, which probably speaks volumes from a band that are a jack of all musical trades and have mastered them all over the years.
Simon Nott

SUGAR / BOB MOULD
COPPER BLUE / BEASTER / FILE UNDER: EASY LISTENING / BOB MOULD (HUBCAP), THE LAST DOG & PONY SHOW
(Edsel)
Extensive reissues of former Husker Du singer’s huge indie rockers and solo material.

10/10 / 8/10 / 7/10 / 7/10


Sugar were huge due to Bob Mould’s songwriting on their classic 1992 debut ‘Copper Blue’, including the infectious ‘Hoover Dam’, ‘A Good Idea’ and ‘Changes’. The ‘Beaster’ EP that followed in ’93 showed a denser side to Sugar, with heavier guitars and the dark religious imagery of ‘Judas Cradle’ amongst its six tracks. The three-piece’s final full-length, 1994’s ‘File Under: Easy Listening’, enjoyed more chart success and secured their seminal, yet short-lived, status. The final reissue compiles some of frontman Bob Mould’s solo material – his 1996 self-titled third album (also known as ‘Hubcap’) about withdrawing and isolation after Sugar’s split and ’98’s ‘The Last Dog and Pony Show’, a farewell to guitar-driven rock for Mould for some time. All these reissues come with additional material, including a disc of a live show from the year of each album’s release. Well worth picking up.
Ian Chaddock

SUZI QUATRO
ROCK HARD / UNRELEASED EMOTION
(7T’s)
Glam might have fallen off a cliff but Suzi rocked under the radar.
7/10 / 4/10

Diminutive and leather clad, firebrand Suzi Quatro reigned supreme for much
of the 1970s. Sharing the same songwriting team as fellow glam rockers Sweet, hook-laden rockers like ‘Can the Can’ made her every female tearaway’s idol and every boy’s wet dream. Quatro hardly bothered the charts in the 1980s and, although she never stopped recording and releasing, she was probably better known for acting in everything from ‘Happy Days’ to ‘Minder’. Now, encouraged by the critical success of her 2011 comeback album ‘In The Spotlight’, there’s two slices of rare Quatro being dug up from the archives from her very own dark ages. ‘Rock Hard’, her seventh album, is quite a return to form following a few chequered outings leading to this 1980 release. The stomping ‘Rock Hard’ single contained just scraped into the top seventy in the UK. Far more obscure is 1982’s ‘Unreleased Emotion’ which was wasn’t actually released at all until 1998.
Neil Anderson

TALK TALK
THE PARTY’S OVER/ IT’S MY LIFE/ COLOUR OF SPRING/ SPIRIT OF EDEN
(EMI)
Mark Hollis’ four-piece journey from new wave to ambient abyss.
7/10 / 8/10 / 7/10 / 6/10

Talk Talk’s first album, ‘The Party’s Over’, is pure synth pop heaven and is very much in the vein of then labelmates Duran Duran with ‘Talk Talk’ being a massive hit. Things took an about turn when a new look band appeared with follow-up, ‘It’s My Life’. The sound had matured, they’d dispensed with synth-supremo Simon Brenner and resulted in hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Their third album, ‘Colour Of Spring’, continued in the same vein. Big budgets were allotted to their fourth album, ‘Spirit Of Eden’. Deadlines went out the window, budgets kept mounting and mainman Hollis even refused to let the record company hear any advance recordings. Though garnering huge critical acclaim, the album went down like a bag of cold sick with EMI who tried to sue the band for making a totally uncommercial album.
Neil Anderson

VARIOUS ARTISTS
ACE RECORDS SAMPLER VOLUME 3: GARAGE, BEAT & PUNK ROCK
(Ace)
Legendary label’s fuzztastic back catalogue compiled.
7/10

Born out of punk-pioneering indie Chiswick Records in 1978, West London’s Ace Records made a name for itself snapping up obscure label back catalogues right, left and centre over the years, all the while providing an outlet for more contemporary acts. Compiled by label Big Cheese, Roger Armstrong, the quality across these twenty classic cuts speaks for itself. Kicking off with the seminal mid-’60s North Western sounds of The Sonics’ ‘Have Love Will Travel’ and The Wailers’ ‘Out Of Our Tree’, we move quickly to Chiswick flagship bands The Damned and The Radiators From Space. A quick detour through Damned psych side-project Naz Nomad and The Nightmares, brings us to the flourishing ‘80s Medway sound, deservedly given broad scope courtesy of Thee Milkshakes, The Prisoners et al.
Gerry Ranson

VARIOUS ARTISTS
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
(Fantastic Voyage)
“Bloody ballads, prison moans, chain gang blues” says it all.
9/10

While any discerning music fan should, quite rightly, run a mile from anything resembling a concept album, this Dostoyevskian collection offers the exception to the rule. Harvested across decades and decades of American country, blues and folk, disc one focuses on the crime side of the illegality equation with many a tale of guns, murder, bootlegging and serial killing. Highlights come from the sonorous voice of Mississippi John Hurt, Paul Robeson’s epic boom, the Everly Brothers’ irresistible sibling harmonies and the haunting Billie Holiday. The companion disc successfully explains the flipside of the criminality coin, focussing on prison, chain gangs and that ol’ hangman’s noose. The Cricket’s ‘I Fought The Law’ – yes, that song – sounds as superb as ever but there’s barely a bad track in this superbly selected, epic, eye-opening compilation. Appalling sleeve art, though.
Steve Lee


VARIOUS ARTISTS 

DEEP ROOTS OF THE RAMONES

(Sireena)

Serviceable punk/rock ’n’ roll comp.

6/10


“Recordings that influenced the The Ramones” it says here, although confusingly some of the tracks originate at a point by which the New Yorkers’ trademark sound and look were already formed. And the Sky Saxon track dates from 2004, which rather counts it out. That aside, this is an acceptable compilation of punk and rock’n’roll benchmarks, encompassing punk’s originators with The Stooges, Dolls, MC5 and Groovies, and original rock ’n’ rollers such as Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and Link Wray. With a conspicuous absence of any of Phil Spector’s production works ─ and let’s not forget the Bay City Rollers who had a direct influence on the Ramones’ writing ─ this comp doesn’t quite give the complete picture, but does score points with the ultra-rare Ramones cover of the Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ with Heartbreakers man Walter Lure on lead vocals.
Hugh Gulland

VARIOUS ARTISTS
DOO WOP AND ROCK N ROLL CELEBRATION
(Ace)
Just a great compilation of rocking tunes less travelled.
7/10

Ace have released a series of four CDs to celebrate their 30th anniversary of releasing retro goodness and this is one of them. All the tracks are taken from previous releases on the label and each are listed and pictured in case you are hearing something for the first time, can’t get enough and want some more of the same. The compilation is basically a best of doo wop, rock ‘n’ roll, boppers, strollers and some just plain crazy wild rockabilly. The tracks included would contain some at least new to all but the most dedicated collector and also acts as an excellent sampler as to what is out there but, unlike some, quality is not forsaken for rarity kudos.
Simon Nott

THE VARUKERS
VINTAGE VARUKERS – RARE AND UNRELEASED 1980-1985
(Antisociety)

Sturdy (and badly spelt) ’80s hardcore.

6/10


The Varukers were formed in 1979, in that hotbed of rock ‘n’ roll Leamington Spa, by singer Anthony ‘Rat’ Martin and a line-up that would change frequently, having already had several changes by the time they recorded their demo in 1980. This collection opens with the four tracks from that session, three of which – ‘Punk Ain’t Dead’, ‘Varuker’ and ‘No Education’ – have never been released before, while ‘Government’s To Blame’ was re-recorded for debut 1983 album ‘Bloodsuckers’. Two un-used tracks from the ‘Bloodsuckers’ session, ‘Good Time Girls’ and ‘Dance Till You’re Dead’, also appear here for the first time. Elsewhere, bruise your ears with two tracks from a Germany-only 7”, various compilation tracks of varying rarity and some 1986 live tracks. Interestingly, the early tracks, though speedy, are noticeably more old school punk than the all-out hardcore they’re best known for.
Shane Baldwin

VICE SQUAD 

VERY BEST OF / STAND STRONG STAND PROUD
(Anagram)
Bristol punks’ early recordings and second album reissued.
7/10 / 7/10

In the late ’70s/early ’80s so many young punk bands emerged it was hard for some to stand out. Bristol’s Vice Squad distinguished themselves with a successful debut single ‘Last Rockers’ and the follow up, ‘Resurrection’, sealed their reputation as notable players on the UK punk scene. Unfortunately predictable cries of ‘sell out’ were to come when they signed to EMI for their debut ‘No Cause for Concern’ LP. Listening to the ‘Very Best Of’ now, you can still hear the anger and vitality in those early singles despite the relatively lo-fi recording. Their association with EMI brought better sound quality, particularly on their second ‘Stand Strong Stand Proud’ album and later singles, but a change of vocalist when Beki left to front Ligotage inevitably led to diminishing returns. With Beki currently fronting a new Vice Squad line-up, the name lives on but it’s worth investigating these earlier recordings.
Lee Cotterell



WILLY DEVILLE
IN NEW ORLEANS
(Big Beat)
A Big Apple original in The Big Easy.
7/10

Featuring remixed and reworked tunes from the late Willy DeVille’s albums ‘Victory Mixture’ (1990) and ‘Big Easy Fantasy’ (1995), plus additional Orleans-themed oddments, this album hangs on the hypothesis that it was ‘the Big Easy’ which gave this unlikely CBGBs staple his mojo back after his stock had dipped. Frankly, listening now to highlights of ‘comeback’ album ‘Victory Mixture’ (enhanced here with added instrumentation from key collaborators), and having not so long ago reviewed another DeVille reissue for VLR, its hard to believe the man’s following could ever so dramatically shrink and swell. Loyal fans will surely have long loved these blues and soul-based cuts, yet the potential to pick up newcomers whilst appeasing that core crowd seems much the same as during the days DeVille was a sore thumb in CeeBee’s listings.
Alison Bateman

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ALBUM REVIEWS (NOV)


COBRA SKULLS
AGITATIONS

(Fat Wreck)
Socio-political punk rock anthems from Reno trio.
7/10

Setting their sites squarely on the struggling economy, the xenophobia that has increased since 9/11 and how prisons are run like businesses. Opener ‘Six Degrees’ show this anger before the upbeat and energetic ‘Iron Lung’ and ‘Now You Know’ kick in. Other album highlights are the mighty ‘On & On’, the speeding ‘Drones’ with its jazz/funk intro, and the ripping, fast-paced ‘The Minimum’. Cobra Skulls have done it again, with a varied and absorbing album that deserves to win them new fans whilst pleasing existing fans. Not much to get agitated about at all, just the rest of the world!
Rachel Owen

THE DARK SHADOWS
11:11
(White Label)
Ethereal fem-led goth rock from Down Under.
8/10

Representing a largely overlooked corner of the alternative genres, Sydney based The Dark Shadows combine the brooding, vaudevillian mystique of The Damned, the cut-throat candy sweetness of Debbie Harry and the rockabilly talent of Gene Vincent into a wonderfully unique sound that’s both alluring and slightly sinister. This seven track EP marks the latest in a slew of mini-releases from the all-woman three-piece and serves as the perfect precursor to their upcoming European tour. Haunting and atmospheric, yet retaining all the heart of ’70s punk rock, fans of similar moody outfits like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cramps should definitely get involved.
Tom Williams



THE DAUNTLESS ELITE

MORE BLOODY BAD NEWS
(Bombed Out)
Another endearing slab of gruff Northern sing-along melodic punk.
7/10

Along with Wakefield’s Milloy, Leeds gritty but infectious punks The Dauntless Elite are the best band from Yorkshire. The long-awaited follow-up to their anthemic 2007 debut album ‘Graft’, the second album is always difficult but Dauntless have managed to come out with a great album. While it may not be as instant or powerful as ‘Graft’, these songs are still proudly Northern – listen to the accents and song titles like ‘Better Than Nowt’ and ‘Sod This For A Game Of Soldiers’ – and tracks such as opening sing-along ‘Saliva’ and ‘Sod This…’ prove they can still pen killer dual vocalled punk songs. Join the ‘Elite!
Ian Chaddock

DEAD TO ME
MOSCOW PENNY ANTE
(Fat Wreck)

San Francisco punk rockers unleash third infectious full-length.
8/10

This follow-up to 2009’s superb ‘African Elephants’ features yet another different line-up, with guitarist/vocalist Nathan Grice replaced by Sam Johnson (VRGNS, New Mexican Disaster Squad and guitarist Ken Yamazaki (ex-Enemy You, Western Addiction), joining Tyson ‘Chicken’ Annicharico and Ian Anderson. The album grows on you quickly, with punchy opener ‘Undertow’ offering up plenty of energy and ‘Reckless Behavior’ and ‘Dead Pigeon Tricks’ showing Johnson’s vocals add a lot. Chicken’s singing is still powerful, with ‘The Trials Of Oscar Wilde’ and ‘The Monarach Hotel’ two of the highlights. Ante up again, DTM are becoming one of the best punk bands on the scene.
Ian Chaddock



DON’T LOOK DOWN / THE DESTRUCTORS 

JE SUIS RADIO 

(Rowdy Farrago)
Peterborough punk rock double header.
6/10

Two punk bands from Peterborough from different eras with distinctly different styles team up. Don’t Look Down are the relative newcomers in this partnership. ‘The Duvet Song’ is very Bad Religion influenced, right down to the vocal harmonies, and that’s no bad thing. ‘People Are People’ meanwhile gives the old Depeche Mode standard a bit of a street punk makeover. Widely recognised as Peterborough’s most prolific punk band, the Destructors have been around since 1976 and include an inspired cover of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Road Runner’ and a psychobilly-tinged ‘Trash Man’. A nicely balanced split EP that does both bands justice.
Lee Cotterell

DUM DUM GIRLS 

ONLY IN DREAMS

(Sub Pop)
Sublimely ghostly girl-pop.
9/10
Following on from their 2010 entrée I Will Be, this second album from the California-based outfit is a glorious melding of four-to-the-floor garage-band aesthetics with the timeless teen-opera sensibilities of the Ronettes or the Shangri-Las, which is no small order in itself. Tellingly, former Blondie producer Richard Gottehrer handles the faders here, and it’s an inspired marriage; Only In Dreams is a shimmering tour-de-force of Spectoresque femme-pop, a faultless progression of three-minute symphonies, front ‘Girl Dee Dee Penny opening up her inner diary to spill out her tales of smeared mascara. There’s a sharp emotional punch at the heart of this recording that goes far beyond the boundaries of teenage trauma, with the recent passing of Dee Dee’s mother and other personal upheavals directly informing material such as Coming Down and Teardrops On My Pillow; beneath the girl-pop sparkle, the sense displacement and loss hovers, infusing Only In Dreams with a curious disembodied spookiness.
Hugh Gulland

FOREIGN LEGION / SLEDGEBACK 

REALITY BITES
(Sliver)
Two great punk bands for the price of one.
6/10

A great 12 track, split release from Seattle’s Sledgeback and South Wales punk stalwarts Foreign Legion. Arguably one of the most underrated Welsh punk bands of all time, Foreign Legion are the only band from the valleys to play at CBGBs and to have been produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones. With a Vans Warped Tour and Flogging Molly supports under their belts, Sledgeback are no slouches either. Sledgeback sound somewhere between The Freeze and Naked Raygun, complemented by Foreign Legion’s Ruts influenced punk. Rather than the bands having a ‘side’ each, the songs are interspersed, making for a more interesting listen.
Lee Cotterell

MISFITS
THE DEVILS RAIN
(Misfits)
First original album in over a decade from the horror punk legends.
6/10

The dark lords of horrorcore are back and what do the men behind the iconic skull have in store after all this wait? Well, Misfits 2011 is a stripped down beast, with ‘The Devils Rain’ snorting smoke through its sixteen tracks of punk ‘n’ roll horror clichés. Musically this incarnation bears resemblance to the likes of Volbeat, with its ’50s rock ‘n’ roll vibe and buzzing punk rifforama. Ever more cartoon-like, the vault of cheesy horror films has been raided to provide lyrical inspiration and bassist Jerry Only croons in a Danzig-esque style that should silence his critics. It’s a worthy Misfits record, if a little long. Still, spooky fun all the same.
Miles Hackett

ODONIS ODONIS
HOLLANDAZE
(FatCat)
Grimy, lo-fi surf punk from Canada.
6/10

This is an 11-track cacophony of sounds all held together in a thick blanket of fuzz and drenched in surf guitar. Hammond organ, thick bass lines and reverb drums up images of punked out ’70s ‘surfers’ that got no nearer the raging sea than the pavement, their skateboards and the sounds of The Barracudas, then follow them through the 1980s where they can dig the Pixies and The Cure. Odonis Odonis are a live band but were a studio project first and that sort of tells. Not for the faint-hearted, but if your pulse is pumping at the aural image my words have conjured up then you won’t be disappointed.
Simon Nott

POP WILL EAT ITSELF
NEW NOISE DESIGNED BY A SADIST
(Cooking Vinyl)

Electro rockers’ sixth album takes you back to the ’80s.
6/10

Having blasted out grubby party anthems since 1986, Pop Will Eat Itself have kept that party going. Or at least sole original member Graham Crabb, who continues to work under the name, is. ‘New Noise…’ packs in the baggy-shorted stroboscopic electro rock, spruced up with the odd recognisable sample – ‘Old Skool Cool’ for example lifts a riff from the Psychedelic Furs’ classic ‘Dumb Waiters’ single. ‘Seek And Destroy’ meanwhile is a lot of belligerent shouting yammering over an acid-house chug. Although at times it sounds dated, at other points things lift off into some enjoyable electro-goth terrain.
Hugh Gulland


RISING STRIKE
BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS

(TNS)
Fiery full-length debut from Stoke’s premier skacore merchants.
9/10

One of the newest acts to join the rapidly burgeoning TNS family are Rising Strike; a belligerent skacore act with an incendiary political agenda. Recently recruiting a saxophonist and taking a break from touring to record this, their debut full-length, the band are fully prepared to rip 2011 a new one. Fast, punchy and punctuated with brutal death metal vocals, fierce ska riffs, juggernaut drums and socially challenging lyrical themes, ‘Bite the Hand…’ is a winning first effort with a sound further honed from that of their ‘Not For Public Consumption’ EP. A sure-fire listen for fans of Voodoo Glow Skulls, Random Hand and Leftover Crack.
Tom Williams

THE SLOW DEATH
BORN UGLY GOT WORSE

(Kiss Of Death)
Stunning debut full-length from Minneapolis punk supergroup.
9/10

Featuring (ex-)members of Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels, The Ergs!, The Soviettes, Dear Landlord and many more, it’s fair to say that The Slow Death are pretty much any melodic gritty punk/pop punk fan’s dream come true. And somehow this debut album lives up to all the high expectations too. From the male/female vocals of opener ‘Ticks Of The Clock’ to anthemic standout ‘Phantom Limbs’ and the country punk-tinged ‘Stay High’, these gruff, melodic and punchy tunes about Jesse Thorson’s drinking, relationships and living on sofa beds is nothing less than addictive. One of the albums of the year and an exhilarating new band on the scene. Catch them on tour in November/December. 
Ian Chaddock

SMOKEY BASTARD
TALES FROM THE WASTELAND

(Bomber Music)
Second album of Celtic punk fun from Reading whiskey swiggers.
8/10

Last year’s ‘Popping Up The Floor’ set the bar quite high for Smokey Bastard but they’ve cleared it with ease with sophomore effort ‘Tales From The Wasteland’. When they’re going full tilt on the likes of single ‘Yuppie Dracula’ or ‘Aspirations, I Have Some’, they’re enormous fun. There’s more of a trad-folk feel to ‘Bad Reception’. More varied and dynamic than most folk punk albums, ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ is well worth a read. Fans of Flogging Molly and The Pogues take note, Smokey Bastard are a band you need in your life. Cheers!
John Damon

SONIC YOUTH
HITS ARE FOR SQUARES
(Geffen)

Sonic Youth ‘best of’ in a different guise.

10/10


Sonic Youth being Sonic Youth were never going to just release some kind of lame ‘Greatest Hits’ type package and so they have come up with the rather novel idea of having their friends and admirers choose their favourite aspects of their ridiculously brilliant career to date. Mike D, Radiohead, Chole Sevigny and Michelle Williams, amongst others, have curated a record which to Sonic Youth fans says as much about them as it does the band’s back catalogue. The choices span the decades and in a wonderful way exemplify all that is undisputedly special about the work of one of the most astonishingly brilliant bands it has been my generation’s privilege to enjoy. 
James Batty

STATIC RADIO NJ

WE ARE ALL BEASTS

(Kiss Of Death)
Change of direction for New Jersey punk rockers.
7/10

Static Radio NJ’s last two releases have seen them emulating to their melodic hardcore heroes such as Kid Dynamite but this first album for Kiss Of Death Records is an evolution in their sound that sees them trying to find their own sound, with some success. After almost a decade together, their songwriting has taken on elements of their New Jersey heritage, with the mature yet melodic punk rock of opener ‘Favorite Name’, the infectious ‘Kill The Harmony’ and the album highlight ‘Addict’. However, on the acoustic ‘Geeks’ and closer ‘Incestuous Friends’, they take a clear Nirvana obsession too far. I can’t help but miss the energy of their earlier days but at least they’re switching things up.
Ian Chaddock

THEE SPIVS
BLACK AND WHITE MEMORIES
(Damaged Goods)

Garage/pop punk infectious anthems on second album from East Londoners.
9/10

The way that Thee Spivs manage to take the buzzsaw pop punk sound of the late ’70s finest (Buzzcocks, Ramones, Undertones) and add a modern freshness is what makes them so appealing. First single ‘TV Screen’ seems a little dated now – with most people not watching TV but a computer monitor or an iPhone screen instead but it’s still a buzzing slice of retro punk. There’s a good chance that you won’t have heard songs as fun as ’15 Minutes’ and ‘Flickin’ V’s’ all year. Thee Spivs may have black and white memories but today they’re a colourful and irrepressible good time. Join the fuckin’ party!
Gem Pitt


TONY SLY
SAD BEAR
(Fat Wreck)

No Use For A Name frontman’s second acoustic solo album.
6/10

Last year’s ’12 Song Program’ was Tony Sly’s first dip into the punk frontman turned acoustic troubadour territory and, following lots of touring with the likes of Joey Cape and Jon Snodgrass, he’s back with a more confident, angry and emotional second acoustic album, in the form of ‘Sad Bear’. With lyrics about poverty, love, self-medication, getting older, faith, having kids and still being as confused as ever. With this new level of honesty and added instrumentation (that thankfully avoids the Americana trap), songs such as ‘Dark Corner’ and ‘Hey God’ are some of the best material he’s written in years. There’s definitely filler and he’s not the greatest singer/songwriter type, but ‘Sad Bear’ proves Sly has good reason to cheer up.
Ian Chaddock


VINCE RAY AND THE BONESHAKERS

THE SOUND EFFECT OF SEX & HORROR
(Raucous)
The soundtrack to the weird and rocking world of Vince Ray.
8/10

Vince Ray’s artwork is revered worldwide in the rockabilly community and has graced the covers of many a goliath of the scene. What may surprise fans of his art is that he has been pumping out quality music for some years, ranging from garage to rock ‘n’ roll. This is without a doubt the strongest offering yet, whilst firmly planted in the furiously-paced slap bass rockabilly camp he does a fair bit of genre blending here too, creating a ripping audio experience to equally match the delightfully twisted imagery he creates.
Simon Nott


VOID
SESSIONS 1981-83
(Dischord)
Raw hardcore rage from the early ’80s gets a second outing.
8/10

They may have never had the profile of peers like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys but, alongside bands like Government Issue and, of course, Minor Threat, Void were one of the bands that helped to establish Washington DC as one the most important bases in the burgeoning late ’70s/early ’80s American hardcore scene. As such, this 34-track compilation of unreleased and rare-to-find tracks is a valuable document of the youthful abandon that helped to shape hardcore. Sure, the production is far from amazing and the playing is sloppy but numbers like ‘Organised Sports’ and ‘Controller’ still perfectly convey the rebellious danger of those early days.
Nick Mann

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ALBUM REVIEWS (SEPT)

AGNOSTIC FRONT
MY LIFE, MY WAY
(Nuclear Blast)
Another solid New York hardcore album from the originators.
8/10
Nearly 30 years in music is a stunning achievement in any genre and given the steady quality of Agnostic Front it is even more amazing. Straight from the opening of ‘City Streets’ it’s evident that the band led by co-founders – vocalist Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma – are still on top form. From the socio-political rants to fast and furious hardcore street punk/metal crossover, it’s what they do best. Newly recruited guitarist Joseph James expands their sound, resulting in some of the best guitar work ever heard from the band. While the album doesn’t have an anthem to stand alongside classics such as ‘Gotta Go’ in their set, songs such as the title track will still guarantee a few windmills and leave others in the genre picking up change.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen

BEATSTEAKS 
BOOMBOX
(Warner)
Sixth album sees German punks master alt-rock.
7/10
Having gone from melodic punk heroes with 2002’s anthemic ‘Living Targets’ album, the Beatsteaks may be a name that has faded somewhat in the UK but in their homeland and all over mainland Europe they’ve been growing and growing, selling out multi-thousand seated shows and winning two prestigious EMA awards. In the last four years since 2007’s ‘limbo messiah’ they have clearly embraced a more mainstream sound, with rock and pop influences overshadowing their punk rock roots on ‘Boombox’ and nods to indie rock and the vocal stylings of Morrissey an obvious touching point. Long time fans will enjoy the likes of ‘Access Adrenaline’ and ‘Bullet From Another Dimension’ though, which show that, while they’re embracing a sound for larger audiences, they still know where they’ve come from. Arguably their bravest and most ambitious record to date, ‘Boombox’ is the sound of an admirable different direction for Berlin’s finest.
Ian Chaddock

THE BONGOLIAN
BONGOS FOR BEATNIKS
(Blow Up)
Fourth album of retro bongo-driven groove fusion!
7/10
The Bongolian (the alter ego of multi-instrumentalist and Big Boss Man frontman Nasser Bouzida) returns with a new record on respected ‘60s/Mod label (and famous club) Blow Up, and it’s another psychedelic trip that you’re going to love taking. A rhythmic. ‘60s-sounding fusion of funk, soul, Hammond, synths and Boogaloo, Bouzida plays all the instruments expertly and it’s no surprise that tracks like the rousing ‘The Clav Disco’, the blissful ‘Tortoise’ and the aptly titled ‘Hippy Trippy’ will appeal to fans of dance and hip-hop as much as collectors of old funk and soul records. ‘Bongos For Beatniks’ proves that the bongo is a versatile instrument that can be used to make cool, retro music that oozes funk fun. With live shows lined up for the year, The Bongolian is an experience you need to witness. 
Ian Chaddock

BUSTER SHUFFLE
OUR NIGHT OUT
(People Like You)
Madness from Cockney ska pop band.
8/10
It seems like the vast majority of ska bands these days combine the sound with a punk influence. That’s fine but it’s great to hear a new band breathing life back into witty, London ska pop. Certainly there’s a heavy influence of Madness throughout Buster Shuffle’s debut album, but fans of The Specials and The King Blues should also appreciate this four-piece. Frontman Jet Baker’s vocals, storytelling lyrics and infectious piano make songs such as ‘I’ll Get My Coat’, ‘Arthur McArthur’ and the bouncing title track burst with a fun-loving attitude and tales of everyday life – from nights out to bus journeys and anti-social behaviour. While there may be a little too much Madness worship for some, it’s great to hear a new generation keeping very English ska pop alive and skanking.
Rachel Owen

THE CARS
MOVE LIKE THIS
(Hear)
Cars back in the saddle after a 24 year hiatus.
6/10
All was well in the new wave world of The Cars for their first two albums. Killer singles and a sound that defined their genre came as standard. But as their fame grew so did the gulf between the sound that made them and their sound that was filling stadiums and making them huge with the track ‘Drive’ by the mid-1980s. So it was a relief to hear their first album in 24 years has more in common with their origins than their stadium-filling height. Album opener ‘Blue Tip’ has more than a nod to the mighty ‘Best Friends Girl’ of old and ‘Hits Me’ is a killer tune. Maybe it was the death of original bassist Benjamin Orr that persuaded them to look to their new wave roots for a comeback. Whatever it was, it was a good move.
Neil Anderson

CHAD VANGAALEN
DIAPER ISLAND
(Sub Pop)
Calgary maverick re-emerges with most cohesive album yet.
6/10
Although it won’t be to all Vive Le Rock readers’ taste, if you have any capacity for rough-hewn, minimalist melody, then ‘Diaper Island’ might be your bag. Vintage tape machines, guitar and voice are present, but there is little further undue embellishment, while the songs have shades of R. Stevie Moore, Pavement at their most oblique or even Kevin Coyne. Vangaalen’s voice, moreover, evokes the spirit of the great ’60s troubadours, and is maintained as a rich, plaintive thread throughout, despite the passivity of much of the songwriting. ‘Freedom For A Policeman’ is a strident exception, but the heart of the album is exemplified by simple, naked tracks like ‘Sara’ or ‘Wandering Spirits’, which gently recall the Fleet Foxes on a budget.
Alex Ogg

DEVILISH PRESLEY
THE DARK TRIAD
(November Tenth)
UK goth punks return with a brand new sound and the power of three.
7/10
With one of the loyalist fan bases in gothic punk rock, Devilish Presley were clearly taking more than a minimal risk when they decided to switch the line-up, with bassist Jacqui Vixen taking over lead vocals, but due to an unfortunate RSI injury, it seemed a reshuffle was inevitable. Thanfully, the Aussie singer’s vocal talents are a definite blessing to the band, with her balance of ethereal melody and raw, guttural bite providing the perfect accompaniment to the chugging guitars and horrorbilly overtones on highlights like lead single ‘The Beast Must Die’ and the virulent ‘Happy As Saturday’. Marking their fifth release, ‘The Dark Triad’ catalogues the self-made monsters of our society and delves lyrically into psychological themes, while adopting a harsher, distorted sound to match the cerebral mayhem.
Tom Williams

DEVILS BRIGADE
DEVILS BRIGADE
(Hellcat)
Rancid bass hero’s psychobilly band’s debut.
6/10
Formed over a decade ago, Devils Brigade, the long-awaited first album from the psychobilly side-project of Rancid’s Matt Freeman could be said to be an acquired taste. If you love psychobilly and/or Rancid then this record is certainly going to appeal. However, with Freeman taking on vocals as well as the upright bass, it may put off some. While Freeman’s nimble bass playing is second to none, his growled, rough vocals are certainly not, although it does admittedly suit the style of music. Backed by his Rancid bandmate Tim Armstrong on guitar and DJ Bonebrake (of LA punk legends X) on drums, there’s plenty of talent on board and tracks such as rumbling, driving opener ‘I’m Movin Through’ and the more Rancid-esque melodic guitar line-filled ‘Shakedown’. It’s far from perfect but it’s a bone-rattling listen and proof that Freeman can pen great rockabilly and psychobilly tunes.
Ian Chaddock

DUANE EDDY
ROAD TRIP
(Mad Monkey)
’60s rock ’n’ legend revs his engines again.
8/10
Twenty four years may seem like a long time between releases, but when you’re one of America’s most prolific rock ‘n’ roll icons, with a pair of Grammy’s, your own line of signature Gretsch Guitars and a place in the hallowed Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame under your belt, forgiveness comes as standard. Therefore, the 73 year-old Duane Eddy’s thirty-something release ‘Road Trip’ is definitely a cause for celebration. Conceived as a partnership between the ’60s guitar god and ex-Pulp guitarist, singer-songwriter and long-time fan Richard Hawley, the album drives a dusty, wild west landscape of blues, country and cowboy rock ‘n’ roll, all delivered in Eddy’s trademark twang tradition.  Hawley’s contributions are also well received, resulting in a smoky and scintillating release that’s imbued with over half a century’s worth of seasoned musical finesse.
Tom Williams 

ENGLISH DOGS
TALES FROM THE ASYLUM
(Winston)
’80s punks return with new EP. 
8/10
There have been several incarnations of English Dogs over the years, from the misconceived concept album ‘Where Legend Began’ to the metallic crossover of ‘All The Worlds A Rage’. Whilst this six-track EP isn’t the definitive line-up that recorded the seminal ‘Mad Punx And English Dogs’, it is their first release in over 15 years and is led by original vocalist Wakey, plus three new recruits. Wakey’s lust for all things punk have turned back the clock here to make sure songs like ‘Ya Buy One Bomb’ and ‘Fucked Up People’ are splattered in the spit and cider of old. Blessed with a 21st century production, ‘Tales From The Asylum’ is a raucous collection of pogo anthems delivered with Wakey’s signature irreverence and bile. Proof if need be that you shouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.
Miles Hackett

FLOGGING MOLLY
SPEED OF DARKNESS
(Borstal Beat)
America’s finest Celtic folk punks with thrilling fifth album.
9/10
Known worldwide for their energetic and life-affirming live shows, Flogging Molly are a band that are undeniably exuberant and a fine soundtrack to any Guinness-soaked knees-up. However, matching that electric atmosphere of their gigs on record isn’t easy to do – which makes ‘Speed Of Darkness’, the band’s fifth full-length, all the more essential. The seven-piece have certainly tapped into working class Celtic punk concerns, adding some passion and depth to their party anthems, with stand out tracks such as ‘Don’t Shut ‘Em Down’ and ‘Revolution’ providing the perfect punk soundtrack to a fist-pumping rabble demanding their workers’ rights, where as the title track shows they can use traditional Irish instrumentation like old hands now. While it’s not quite on a par with their finest moment to date, 2002’s second album ‘Drunken Lullabies’, it’s more varied and certainly shows they’re thinking while they’re drinking.
Ian Chaddock

FORMER CELL MATES
PRESENTED AS A WORK OF FICTION
(Boss Tuneage/Poison City)
Angst-ridden rock/punk/country.
8/10
Sunderland outfit Former Cell Mates were formed in 2004 by singer/guitarist David Lee Burdon, former bassist with the mighty Leatherface, and have something of that band’s bruised tunefulness about them. This is their third album, following 2008’s ‘Who’s Dead & What’s To Pay’. Opening track ‘National Suite’ begins sparse and bass-driven, topped with Burdon’s melancholy but tuneful vocals, but soon builds into something sweeping and majestic with keyboards, horns and backing vocals – quite a little gem and a fair taste of what’s to come. ‘Right At Surrey Ridge’ is haunting, acoustic, country-style, and though the following ‘Violins’ begins that way, it’s soon bludgeoned by a pounding chorus. The afore-mentioned melancholy does become a little wearing by the end, but overall this is an eclectic, interesting and rather moving album.
Shane Baldwin

THE FUZZTONES
PREACHING TO THE PERVERTED
(Stag-o-Lee)
Sadly the title says it all.
5/10
Not always followers, this NYC foursome claim the foresight to have christened their fuzzbox-filmed guitar/’60s psychedelia fusion ‘grunge’ back in ‘84, when debut single ‘Bad News Travels Fast’ became part of garage punk’s gospel. Nowadays however, one suspects The Fuzztones are content to rest on that reputation. ‘Preaching To The Perverted’ is their first all-original collection in 15 years, but it’s barely the sound of a band brimming with imagination. Perfectly respectable but predictable Fuzztones fare, the dozen tracks here are all Sonics’ proto-punk stomps presented in a hammond haze (‘Between The Lines’) and kitsch, swampy voodoo blues (‘Don’t Speak Ill Of The Dead’). For the faithful there’s neither challenge nor cause for complaint, while for the curious agnostic will find far more spirit in first album ‘Lysergic Emanations’.
Alison Bateman

GENTLEMANS PISTOLS
AT HER MAJESTY’S PLEASURE
(Rise Above)
Leeds ’70s rock revivalists unleash another unstoppable volley.
9/10
Fans of Thin Lizzy, The Sweet, Sabbath and Free pay attention – Gentlemans Pistols could well be your new favourite band. Four of the hairiest northerners you’re likely to come across, these guys mean business and this second album, the follow-up to their 2007 self-titled debut, proves it. Right from the start, with the stomping and soloing filled, aptly titled opener ‘Living In Sin Again’. Elsewhere, it’s as sleazy and hazy as the ’70s were, with songs like ‘Some Girls Don’t Know What’s Good For Them’ and the spaced out, epic closer ‘Lethal Woman’ not only showing respect for the era that has clearly infuenced them but shows that it can be blasted into the 21st century with some mighty riffs and face-melting solos. ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ should mark Gentlemans Pistols out as newly crowned rock royalty.
Ian Chaddock

HILLBILLY MOON EXPLOSION
BUY, BEG OR STEAL 
(Jungle)
Rock ‘n’ roll revivalists going through the motions.
5/10
It’s not that this is a bad album, as it’s not. It’s a pleasing enough affair at times, it’s just that in the absence of a unique selling point of their own there’s little to differentiate Hillbilly Moon Explosion from any number of similar rock ‘n’ roll revivalists to be found in the roots rock ghetto. Having said that, this album does have its moments, such as the title track and the instrumental ‘Chalkfarm Breakdown’. Guest vocalist, Mark ‘Sparky’ Phillips, from Demented Are Go, is a welcome addition as he growls his way through an engaging duet with Emanuela Hutter called ‘My Love For Evermore’. Elsewhere, Hutter’s vocals are particularly alluring on ‘Broken Heart’ and ‘Goin’ To Milano’, but a spirited rock ‘n’ roll version of OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’ is too little, too late to save the day. Steal.
Rich Deakin

HOLLYWOOD SINNERS
DISTRATO GARANTITO
(Dirty Water)
High-octane garage rock ‘n’ roll.
(8/10)
This trio may hail from Toledo in Spain, but Hollywood Sinners sound more like they come from Detroit in the ’60s or the Medway in the mid-’80s. In fact, it’s only the fact that they often sing in their native tongue that gives the game away. They play no-frills garage punk the way it was always intended to be played – frantic, visceral and straight to the point – cramming twelve tracks into a breath-taking 25 minutes. Imagine The Kinks, The Standells and The Barracudas colliding with The Hives and dragging The Milkshakes along for the ride. It’s hard to pick a stand out track but ‘No Soy Bueno’,  ‘Huesos’ and ‘Have You Ever Been in Jail?’ all pack a hefty punch. Buy this if you like your rock ‘n’ roll loud and urgent.
Lee Cotterell

LEFT LANE CRUISER
JUNKYARD SPEED BALL
(Alive Natural Sound)
Power-blues duo getting down and dirty.
7/10
With one half of their line-up going by the name ‘Sausage Paw’ (responsible for ‘drums and shit’), you have a fairly accurate signpost to the territory these boys are coming from. The Fort Wayne based duo stir up a potent mess of diesel-reeking wrecker’s yard blues, a moonshine-soaked take on the pig trotter-punk sounds of Doo Rag et al put through a hellbilly filter, amply demonstrated on ‘Lost My Mind’ or ‘Circus’. But the more expansive sounds of tracks such as ‘Giving Tree’ hint of ambitions beyond the confines of the juke joint; the funky clavinet sounds on
‘Hip-Hop’ or ‘Pig Farm’, courtesy of the Black Diamond Heavies’ Reverend James
Leg, bring the somewhat unexpected hints of Bobby Womack or Stevie Wonder
to the mix, which combined with the ‘Cruiser’s innate power makes for one
powerful hybrid.
Hugh Gulland

THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT
MIDNIGHT TO 666
(Fargo)
More ground shaking, down ‘n’ dirty, west coast garage rawk.
8/10
With spectacularly titled former Cramps man Harry ‘Full Tilt’ Drumdini on sticks and the rest of the band carrying nicknames such as Sonic and Big Drag, it’s obvious this isn’t going to be a prog-rock album peppered with Rush and Genesis covers. What The Lords of Altamont do, and consistently have done throughout their ten year history, is fire out balls to the wall, distorted, retro garage rock. Reminiscent of late 1960s era bands such as the MC5 and The Sonics, ‘Midnight To 666’ is loud, primal and wholly unapologetic. The crazy, fists in the air, whoa packed ‘Bury Me Alive’ proves a particular stand-out track, but this album is best taken as a whole. Put on your biker shades, unzip your leather jacket, crack open a cold one, turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy.
Steve Lee

THE MAHONES
THE BLACK IRISH 
(True North)
Canadian Celtic punk veterans still going strong.
7/10
Bursting with Celtic energy and punk rock spirit, the Mahones’ 20 year career remains in top gear with latest offering ‘The Black Irish’. Though comparisons with fellow punk/folk rogues the Pogues are hard to dismiss, especially on the first four tracks, the Mahones stamp their own well-spirited identity all over ‘The Black Irish’. ‘Ghost Of A Whiskey Devil’ name-checks 1977 punk while ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ – a particular favourite of mine – evokes a strong melodic feel and ‘The Blood Is On Your Hands’, and ‘Give It All Ya Got’ cast a stronger guitar vibe our way. ‘Paint The Town Red’ is an apt lyrical pointer to the flavour of this CD; a fine selection of songs all performed with a pureness of musical spirit this band have cornered so well.
Tony Beesley

THE MURDER ACT
TRAUM
(The Murder Act)
Shadowy tranced-out drone rock.
7/10
Having made waves around the Hoxton basements since forming two years ago, this London-based five-piece look set to break out to wider recognition with this debut mini-album, a six track sonic white-out of Krautrock-inspired drone and mesmeric comet-tail guitar noise. Rob Banham’s brooding post-Joy Division vocal mannerisms surf a wave of sparking guitar noise, culminating in a Wasted vs. Sonic Youth type of
affray. While ‘Repulsive Acts Of Penetrative Entertainment’ bangs on the Birthday Party’s front door, it’s the ominous trance-outs of ‘Sew My Eyes’ or the title track on which the Murder Act truly excel, the latter being the closing tour-de-force – a nine-minute moog-led trance-out which pushes out into impressive electronic vistas, practically pushing at the borders of space rock.
Hugh Gulland

NICK MARSH
A UNIVERSE BETWEEN US
(Belissima)
Swaggering solo rhythms from the ex-Flesh For Lulu frontman.
8/10
Probably most prominently known as the lead singer of ’80s goth rock outfit Flesh For Lulu and more recently as the progenitor of London’s signature carny-billy collective the Urban Voodoo Machine, Nick Marsh’s contributions to British rock ‘n’ roll have been significant, if not a little understated. ‘A Universe Between Us’ marks his solo debut, opening like a Spaghetti Western and continuing throughout in a lilting lounge and mariachi influenced vein, the record comes off sounding something akin to a gothic Morricone score. Lyrically complex in the majority, although not afraid to tread the tongue-in-cheek route with tracks like ‘Best Shag In The World’, and delivered in an alluring, ghostly baritone, the album is a definite must for followers of Marsh’s work, as well fans of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Rufus Wainwright.   
Tom Williams

OBITS
MOODY, STANDARD AND POOR
(Sub Pop)
The new Radio Birdman anyone?
7/10
It’s fair to say that the members of Obits are veterans of their craft, but are by no means such as a band. The partnership of Rick Froberg (Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes) and Sohrab Habibion (Edsel) captivated fans on debut with ‘I Blame You’ and the euphoria is sure to continue after one listen of ‘Moody, Standard And Poor’. Seething with energy and a “no bullshit” attitude to their melodic brand of indie/garage rock, Obits hone in on the prowess of their former outfits, but strip down the aforementioned sound, incorporating elements of surf and rockabilly.The closest comparison I can give is Australian legends Radio Birdman, or a slowed down Saints with hints of a raw powered Iggy. Epic songs that sound  dirty, atmospheric but at the same time fresh and exciting. Obits are reinventing the wheel and keeping it real.
Max Barrett

THE OBJEX 
RESERVATION FOR DEBAUCHERY
(Crownn)
Sassy punk rock, Las Vegas style.
(8/10)
Since this quartet’s last album, ‘Attack Of The Objex’ they’ve changed drummers and honed their sound. They’re a damn fine punk band anyway but the factor that makes them stand out from their peers is their human dynamo – vocalist Felony Melony. Like a punk rock hybrid of Tina Turner and Skunk Anansie’s Skin, she’s a bit of a poster girl for the burgeoning Afro punk scene in the US. This time round they’ve returned with a more polished sound and a rockier edge. Kicking off with ‘Fingered’ – a statement of intent to stand up for ‘the sexual minority’ – before ‘RSVP’ explodes into life like a long lost Runaways number, they later enter  Dwarves’ territory with ‘Squeeze’.  An accomplished album from an underrated band, hopefully this will help them get the recognition they deserve worldwide.
Lee Cotterell

OCCULT DETECTIVE CLUB
CRIMES
(Alive Natural Sound)
Garage rock-out with Brit-punk flavourings.
7/10
A live draw on the Texas underground circuit, this Denton-based four-piece bring a class of ‘79 dynamic to their garage thrash-outs, with a definite nod to the likes of The Clash, the Buzzcocks, the Ruts and most noticeably The Jam detectable here on their second album. Bristling with punk energy, ‘Crimes’ is packed to bursting with anthemic guitar-based rock-outs, getting straight to the task in hand with hook-driven fare such as ‘C’Mon Levi’  or the title cut, surefire triggers for some serious pogo action when ODC take this stuff live. True to their Brit-punk influences, this outfit
squeeze a hefty shot of social awareness into their doings, as with the accusatory rant of ‘Running With The Red Squad’ or ‘Oh Bureaucracy’, delivering commendably high-energy jabs to the machinations of power in quick succession.
Hugh Gulland

PAUL COLLINS
KING OF POWER POP
(Alive Natural Sound)
If you say so Paul.
5/10
Well he’s certainly nailed his colours to the mast there. If power pop is your bag, you can either hug this to your heart or argue the veracity of this album’s title. One man’s summery is another man’s saccharine, and while I’ve no beef with certain of power pop’s touchstones – Byrds and Big Star come to mind  – men with Rickenbackers, white Chelsea boots and inexplicable ambitions to sound like the Knack are a taste I’ll never acquire. That said, Collins’ album is consistently pleasant enough – bursting with hooky major chord riffs, surftastic backup vocals, Alex Chilton cover versions, a well-meant salute to the Flaming Groovies… what’s wrong with that, you may well ask. Go grab it if that’s your bag, leave me to syringe the sugar out of my ears.
Hugh Gulland

POLY STYRENE
GENERATION INDIGO
(Future Noise)
Final solo album from late X-Ray Spex vocalist.
8/10
While DJs everywhere cue up ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’ in tribute to Poly Styrene, a more rounded epitaph can be found on this final record, which was released a mere month before the singer lost her battle with cancer. The vast imagination and range of influences which Styrene displayed at just 19 on X-Ray Spex’s ‘77 debut were still expanding when she reached 51. With equal arch experimentalist Youth on board as producer and player, genre boundaries are daringly disregarded on ‘Generation Indigo’, and electro, dub and pure pop territories effectively breached by that ageless and idiosyncratic voice. From addressing global poverty with eloquence rather than clichés on ‘No Rockefeller’, to convincingly mastering a modern 19 year old’s vocabulary on ‘Virtual Boyfriend’, Styrene still refuses to be bound on this wildly eclectic epilogue to her career.
Alison Bateman

THE PUSSYWARMERS
THE CHRONICLES OF…
(Voodoo Rhythm)
Second album from Swiss musical adventurers.
7/10
Formed in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland and sonically settled on a dimensional fault line between myriad cultures, continents and centuries, multi-lingual multi-instrumentalists The Pussywarmers make variety the spice of their high-spirited exotica brew. They combine Weimar cabaret sounds, blistering brass borrowed from Dixieland jazz, tankard-toppling, slur-along Bavarian drinking songs and punked up, double bass-pulsating big band. Even at these moments, when every instrument is thrown into the mix, The Pussywarmers record using a mere two microphones and maintain an eerie, authentic vintage aura throughout for their unorthodox methods. What is equally apparent at each stop on their tour of the world’s wildest dance floors, whether they’re singing in English, Italian, German or French, is that wherever they go The Pussywarmers are sure to find the best party in town.
Alison Bateman

RADIO DEAD ONES
AAA
(SPV)
Second album from boisterous Berlin punk rockers.
7/10
German punk rockers Radio Dead Ones’ ‘AAA’ contains all the essential elements that make up a good aggressive punk album; thrashing pogo beats, mile-a-minute guitar riffs and yelling-at-the-top-of-their-lung vocals. For the next 35 minutes, the band barely pauses for breath, furiously bulldozing their way through 15 punk anthems, all infused with hardcore and rock ‘n’ roll influences and energy, with a fierce intensity so unyielding it becomes exhausting. ‘Smoking’ starts with a whirlwind of rolling drums and erupts into a full-blown hurricane, while Beverly Crime’s powerful vocals tear through Rik Oldman’s frantic guitar on ‘Dirty Love Hotel’. The album rocks as hard and fast as many, but at the same time it’s melodic and catchy as hell. And that’s the way good music should be.
Scott Zverblis

ROY ELLIS
THE BOSS IS BACK
(Liquidator)
Mr ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’s third album in five years.
6/10
Vocalist with the Pyramids, who became Symarip, Roy Ellis was a major name on the reggae scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s who was then catapulted back into the mainstream when the Specials covered ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’ at the height of 2 Tone. His voice remains strong and on songs like the opening ‘One Way Ticket To The Moon’ he proves he can still cut it with the best of them. Elsewhere it’s a little hit and miss and the cover of ‘The Rose’, made famous by Bette Middler, is certainly an odd choice and sits uncomfortably with the reggae, rock steady and soul of the other tracks. It’s good to see Ellis still making records though and Symarip’s London show at the 100 Club in June looks like being a night not to miss.
Andy Peart

SAXON
CALL TO ARMS
(UDR)
Light at the end of the tunnel for enduring metal warlords.
6/10
If Saxon were in an endurance contest they’d probably win hands down. They’ve always seemed happy to soldier on whether anyone really cared or not. The band’s glory days were the late ’70s when they had the metal world at their feet but global success was short lived. But Saxon have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of years thanks partly to their appearance on ‘Get It Together With Harvey Goldsmith’ when the renowned promoter tried to kick the band into the 21st century. There’s a more confident aura around ‘Call To Arms’ than the majority of Saxon offerings since the mid-’80s. If, like many, you’ve been giving them a wide berth for a while check out ‘Hammer Of The Gods’, and there might be a hint of a return to good fortune.
Neil Anderson

THE SKUZZIES
THE SKUZZIES
(Easy Action)
Deptford trio’s driving rock ‘n’ roll debut.
8/10
Drawing heavily on singer Jerome Alexandre’s life-experience-stranger-than-fiction, The Skuzzies’ debut is every bit as curious and contradictory as a character who counts Peter Doherty as a close conspirator and co-vocalist for the ska-styled bonus track ‘On The Corner’, yet shows no interest in charming Babyshambles’ “Converse and furs” clad indie darling fanbase, as savaged on ‘Rich Girls’. Slightly more straightforward are ‘Shotgun Romance’ and ‘Brompton Cocktail’; two quick, gritty hits of minimal, wiry and wired Heartbreakers guitar, and gutter-grounded but starry-eyed sentiment. Still, like any act able to cram such immense energy and emotion into apparently simplistic sonic skins, the Skuzzies are, overall, anything but simple. Closing stormy soundscape ‘Heartache Accelerates’ says as much with its ominous, brooding silences as it does with the raw-voiced title refrain repeated ad infinitum, forming the intense, intriguing coda to a debut of enough depth to invite listeners to return to it again and again. 
Alison Bateman

T-MODEL FORD AND GRAVELROAD
TALEDRAGGER
(Alive Natural Sound)
Spooky magic from the veteran bluesman.
8/10
If it’s a colourful life story you’re after, octogenarian bluesman T-Model Ford – year of birth uncertain, yellow sheet as long as your arm – shows most other contenders up for the posturing pussies they generally are. Backed up here by sympathetic young bucks GravelRoad, the road-tested performer effortlessly summons up that time-honoured dark blues magic, a deceptively simple honey-from-the-fingertips three-chord trick that brings together the shades of Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson for some unholy dialogue. Moaning at the moonlight from some ramshackle porch, Ford and his able companions have tapped into something truly timeless here, whether on upbeat Saturday night stompers such as ‘Big Legged Woman’ or hypnotically world-weary laments in the vein of ‘How Many More Years’ and ‘Worn My Body For So Long’. T Model’s older than your granddad, but he’ll stomp your sorry ass.
Hugh Gulland

THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
IN BLACK ‘N’ RED
(Gypsy Hotel)
Finest bourbon-marinated offerings yet.
9/10
The Urban Voodoo Machine quite simply ooze atmosphere on every one of the twelve tracks here. The advice that you ‘Go East’ in the opener – a song that’s drenched in that classic gypsy sound, but just as those aurally name-checked, UVM are nomadic in their musical wanderings (though the roots are ever-present) and they just take on added flavour. Stomping is an apt term to describe the music, with the album cracking along at a pace that would keep ballroom chandeliers rattling as vocalist Paul Ronney relates tales of the sleazy underbelly of life that people too dull to try secretly yearn. The blues, rock ‘n’ roll and even a tequila-spiced Tex-Mex interloper get involved. ‘Goodbye To Another Year’ bids you farewell to a superb album but this could well be their best year yet.
Simon Nott

TV SMITH
COMING IN TO LAND
(Boss Tuneage)
Former Adverts frontman’s most accomplished work to date.
8/10
Following a superb and consistent flow of post-Adverts solo outings ‘Coming In To Land’ is TV Smith’s most confident yet. As lyrically relevant as ‘Bored Teenagers’ was to 1977 punk, this new set of songs sheds new light onto Smith’s musical vision and aspirations with a refreshing approach. Opener ‘Worn Once’, ‘Man Down’ and ‘Headhunters’ are classic uptempo songs in familiar TV Smith style sitting alongside the slower pace of ‘Dawning Of False Hopes’ and ‘Us And Them’ and the uncharacteristic and quirky dig at society’s moaners ‘Complaints Dept’. The Dylan of the punk generation; this is the work of one of our time’s true individual performers painting a potent musical and lyrical vision of the modern age!
Tony Beesley

VARIOUS ARTISTS
GYPSY HOTEL VOL. ONE
(Gypsy Hotel)
Retro blend of vintage rock ‘n’ roll, burlesque and, er, banjos.
6/10
Compiling a bunch of acts who, over the years, have patronised London’s Gypsy Hotel club nights, this is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, listening to Nigel Burch and the Flea Pit Orchestra espousing the virtues of the Pub With No Name over a twangy, 1940s style fiddle and banjo strumming gets a little tiring pretty swiftly. On the other, the insane, trebly, whooping rock ‘n’ roll of The Jim Jones Revue truly blazes. Other highlights come from Walking Wounded, with some lo-fi Balkan ska (yes, really), Pogues man Spider Stacy and the mellow vibes of The Mighty Stef. As a whole, this compilation’s a little too patchy to cut it, but the great tracks it does throw up are surprisingly cool.
Steve Lee

VARIOUS ARTISTS
RECORDS TO RUIN ANY PARTY – VOLUME 3
(Voodoo Rhythm) 
Eclectic 21-track compilation from Swiss rock ‘n’ roll independent label.
6/10
Now getting close to its one hundredth release, many of the bands/artists on this latest Voodoo Rhythm compilation have a trash bluesy lo-fi nature to their sounds, with more than a few nods to the White Stripes, though these bands are more likely to be originators than copyists. There are enough surprises to keep you interested though, such as the Dead Brothers’ understated ‘The Power A Secret Holds’, the garage punk of the Guilty Hearts and the impressive psychedelic soul of King Khan and his Shrines. Elsewhere there are all sorts of nuggets taking in everything from country through to folk. Not quite something for everybody but if you like primitive rock ‘n’ roll and all its strands it’s likely that Voodoo Rhythm will cater for at least one of your needs.
Andy Peart

V8 WANKERS
IRON CROSSROADS
(SPV)
German metal/rock veterans cruising rather than accelerating.
6/10
V8 Wankers’ sixth album – produced by Tommy Newton (UFO, Helloween, Guano Apes etc.) is slightly formulaic- and therefore unsurprising – but nonetheless is a highly polished and competent rock record with fast pace and bite. It more or less mirrors the band’s previous albums with its full throttle, hard driving metallic rock anthems. Not all songs are memorable, not all choruses deliver and in general the record is a little uneven. Opening track, ‘Sworn To Fun Second To None’ makes an excellent  first impression due to its blistering guitar riffs and revving engine noises, but what follows is an album that is way too generic to be appreciated by the casual listener. ‘Iron Crossroads’ doesn’t break any new grounds, but it certainly won’t disappoint any fans of Germany’s premier rock/metal band either.
Scott Zverblis

WATTS
ON THE DIAL
(Watts)
Nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll from Boston’s finest.
7/10
With a sound harking back to the good old rock ‘n’ roll days of Rolling Stones and Cheap Trick, Watts reignite that ’70s flame with their sophomore effort. The revival kicks off with the title track and highlight, featured on this issue’s free CD, with crunching riffs that carry a cracking melody and considerable swagger that will no doubt trigger any nostalgic reflexes. Taking the best elements of old school punk, new wave and British invasion, Watts charge out of the blocks with straight up rock ‘n’ roll anthems. ‘Girls On Holiday’ is a softer moment gets the nod, but any of these belters could make a soundtrack to your summer, including a cover of 1980s hit, ‘No Secrets’ by The Angels. While nothing here is groundbreaking, Watts prove that the classic formula still works, and nail it.    
Max Barrett

WONK UNIT
TROLLEYS THANK YOU / WONK UNIT SAVED MY LIFE
(Wonk Unit)
Sixteen songs of melancholy ala Billie Joe Armstrong.
7/10
The album kicks off like old Green Day records with poppy punk and stories of heart break and failed relationships. Excluding the occasional flirtation with indie sounds, the London based trio sounds like they could’ve been on one of the early Punk-O-Rama compilations. The bands main protagonist Alex Johnson draws his poetic inspiration from personal experience resulting in convincing honesty and delivery, which at times demands your attention. Some of the songs, especially on the latter side of the album with titles like ‘Wonk Unit Saved My Life’, come across as self-important fillers heard in semi-acoustic singer-songwriter nights at the local pub on a Tuesday night. But instantly grabbing songs like ‘Los Angeles’ make the band worth checking out for those with pop punk sensibilities.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen



REISSUES

ALAN DAVEY
FOUR-TRACK MIND – VOLUMES 1 – 4
(Earthquake)
Impressive career retrospective from former Hawkwind bass monster, spanning 1986 to 2003.
8/10
Originally only available as four individual volumes, ‘Four-Track Mind’ has now been released as an attractively packaged metallic picture CD box set. This collection of demos encompasses virtually every aspect of Davey’s musical career, including Hawkwind, Bedouin and other solo material, although it does pre-date his current ultra-heavy power trio Gunslinger. Immerse yourself in the lush, electronic ambient soundscapes that Davey creates on the likes of ‘Bird Nebula’, and ‘R.E.M. Time’. You’ll love the fearsome speed on ‘Hitze Seeker V’, or the motorik intensity of ‘Deep Space Rock’, while ‘Motor Pink Head’ is a gut rumbling, bass heavy adaptation of the Pink Panther theme tune. It ain’t for nothing that Davey has been named “Bass Assassin #2” by Lemmy himself.
Rich Deakin

BAD MANNERS
FORGING AHEAD
(Pressure Drop)
London 2 Tone jokers’ 1982 album still a decent effort.
6/10
Heading up the 1979-’82 ska revival scene and fronted by the larger than life character  Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners chose to concentrate on humour and fun while the likes of The Specials and The Beat became involved in campaigns and social commentary. As a result the band enjoyed chart success, although this fourth record saw their success declining after the hit 1981 album ‘Gosh It’s… Bad Manners’ saw them peak with number 18 in the UK Album Charts. However, the album is still one hell of a good time as always, with ska favourites such as ‘My Girl Lollipop’ (a cover of Millie’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’) and the single ‘Got No Brains’. Certainly not their best work but well worth picking up if you’re a fan of ska who’s somehow lacking Bad Manners records.
Ian Chaddock

BO DIDDLEY
BO DIDDLEY’S BEACH PARTY
(Geffen)
Guitar legend’s raucous first live album gets reissued.
6/10
‘Bo Diddley’s Beach Party’ was recorded (pretty raw if this is anything to go by) live on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on July 5th, 1983. His pioneering mix of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and R&B playing scored him a series of hits in the ’50s and ’60s but this ten track live album shows he was still going strong in the ’80s – in fact he performed well into the noughties, until his death in 2008. This high energy and celebratory live set includes raucous renditions of fan favourites such as ‘Gunslinger’ and the incredible ‘Hey Bo Diddley’. However, this recording is not great and it’s certainly not the clearest or most impressive live album you’ll hear. This is one beach party you’ll wish you were at, even if this recording doesn’t quite do the electric atmosphere justice.
Ian Chaddock

COCKNEY REJECTS
THE PUNK SINGLES COLLECTION
(Anagram)
All the singles from Oi!’s founders.
8/10
The Oi! movement, though much maligned, has proved to be one of the most durable of the many music press-manufactured genres. Cockney Rejects had, through sheer cheek and bravado, come under the managerial wings of Sham 69 singer Jimmy Pursey and Sounds features editor Garry Bushell and released the classic single ‘Flares ‘n’ Slippers’ on Small Wonder in August 1979. When a reviewer from another paper sneered that Rejects singer Stinky Turner did little but shout ‘Oi! Oi!’ between songs, the seed was planted in Bushell’s head, and before long EMI were releasing influential compilation ‘Oi! – The Album’. The Rejects were the movement’s most successful act, scoring three hit albums and six hit singles, and this set rounds up all the tracks from the latter. This is almost all top notch Oi!, though some may baulk at the later metal material.
Shane Baldwin

CRASS
CHRIST – THE ALBUM
(Crassical Collection)
Fourth release in remastered series of anarcho-punk pioneers.
9/10
Despite influencing everything from US hardcore to post-punk since forming in 1977 and imploding in spectacular fashion in 1984, the legend of Crass has bizarrely remained a cult concern. However, this latest remastered and beautifully repackaged Crass album, which feature previously unreleased tracks, illustrated booklets and live recordings , will no doubt help the legend of Crass grow and hopefully pull in a few more fans along the way. Crass always had a knack for the accessible and melodic, but it always came with an anarchic twist, as evident here. ‘Sentiment’ is almost wistful, ‘Mother Love’ distorts, while the ska-tinged ‘Reality Whitewash’ swings. However, it’s when both Steve Ignorant and Phil Free’s guitars go into full-on sneer on ‘The Greatest Working Class Rip-Off’ that ‘Christ – The Album’ bears the ripest fruit.
Scott Zverblis

THE DRONES
FURTHER TEMPTATIONS
(Anagram)
Manchester combo not to be confused with their more recent Antipodean namesakes.
8/10
The Drones emerged in the wake of the first wave of English punk to produce one of the great unsung albums of its era. Seething with punk vibrancy, ‘Further Temptations’ is littered with lyrics about alienation (‘Underdog’, ‘Lift Off The Bans’), anti-monarchy (‘Corgi Crap’), work (‘Bone Idol’), individuality and herd mentality (‘Lookalikes’), and is still as rousing as it ever was. ‘Movement’ is a relentless Stooges style assault, whilst a staccato version of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ is the obligatory pogo-a-go-go cover. But there’s musical expertise at play too: just check out their 1980 single ‘Can’t See’, included here as a bonus track along with their other singles and B-sides.  It was a more commercial stab at new wave than punk, but it did mark the end of the band’s first incarnation.
Rich Deakin

THE GONADS
GREATER HITS – VOLUME ONE: PLUMS
(Randale)
Fifteen cuts of Monty Python-esque Oi! and an AC/DC cover.
6/10
The Gonads are fronted by controversial journalist Garry Bushell, who is known for coining the term Oi! and declaring punk dead. Ironically the compilation sets off with ‘Punk Rock Till I Die’ and includes hilariously titled songs from their 30-odd year career, such as ‘I Lost My Love To A UK Sub’ and ‘Hitler Was An ‘Omo’. Bushell’s polemical lyrics are the carrying force of the group that might get mistaken for an Anti-Nowhere League covers band. The man who once had his eyebrows shaved by Ozzy Osbourne manages to name-check even more than Jimmy Pursey on speed, with parody songs like ‘Wild Thing’ to ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’. Overall it’s pretty much the same old chords and emotions, with Bushell’s grandmother’s former favourite ‘Big Balls’.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen

THE HITMEN
DANCING TIME ‘78-’79
(Shock / Savagebeat)
Muscular post-Birdman Oz punk.
6/10
With the 1978 break-up of Sydney’s high energy rock ’n’ rollers Radio Birdman, guitarist Chris Masuak and bassman Warwick Gilbert joined forces with Birdman associate Johnny Kannis, forming the nucleus of this psyche-trash-surf outfit. Hitmen line-ups would fluctuate over the next few years, with former Saints sticksman Ivor Hay providing the backbeat for a stretch. Pulling together extensive material from various demo sessions and live shows, ‘Dancing Time’ provides a two-disc window into a somewhat neglected chapter in Australian rock ’n’ roll, and the Masuak penned originals here prove that away from the Radio Birdman power-jostle, while Klondike Chris was a pretty respectable songwriter and guitarist in his own right. ‘Feast Of Words’, ‘Wings Of Steel’ and ‘Wrath Of God’ burn the same fuel that powered Birdman’s sonic air strikes. Classic trash-rock influences are touched on throughout, notably the Flaming Groovies on cuts like ‘It’s So Wild’, and the Detroit punk energy of the MC5 is seldom far from the mix.
Hugh Gulland

ICICLE WORKS
THE SMALL PRICE OF A BICYCLE
(Cherry Red)
Liverpool post-punks’ 1985 second album gets the deluxe treatment.
7/10
Never my favourite Icicle Works album on release, this deluxe reissue – the original ten tracks having quadrupled across three discs – is a pleasant rediscovery. It reminds of how vibrant, and diverse, the Merseyside post-punk scene was, with no identifiable sound beyond a state of permanent enthralment at pop music’s melodic possibilities. Ian McNabb’s voice is a perfect conduit for the typically grand themes explored in his songwriting herein, and works most appealingly on the hard-rocking ‘Perambulator’, the closest antecedent to the band’s still wonderful debut. It explodes ala the band’s millstone/milestone hit ‘Love Is A Wonderful Colour’. While McNabb’s talent has been grudgingly acknowledged by critics down the years, Icicle Works arguably possessed the finest Merseybeat drummer of his generation in current Beady Eye member Chris Sharrock – check out ‘Book of Reason’ for evidence.
Alex Ogg

LEE PERRY 
REGGAE GENIUS: 20 UPSETTER CLASSICS 
(Spectrum)
A reminder of the huge impact of Perry in the ’60s/’70s.
9/10
Lee Perry’s understanding of the importance of the vibe and mood of a track was second to none during the 1960s/’70s and is demonstrated here to great effect. From the legendary Bob Marley tracks and Junior Murvin’s iconic ‘Police And Thieves’ to lesser known cuts like The Gatherers’ ‘Words Of My Mouth’, there’s a groove that Perry could instinctively locate to let the sounds breathe. Whether recording himself with the Upsetters or producing bands such as the Heptones and the Congos there’s a consistency with these recordings which allows them to sit naturally next to each other and also provide a useful snapshot of exactly what could be achieved forty years ago, long before the digital age started to take the soul out of the recording process.
Andy Peart

THE OUTCASTS
VIVE LYON!
(Spit)
Excellent live material from early Northern Ireland punks
8/10
Spit Records is a new label set up by Sean O’Neill, co-author of the book ‘It Makes You Want To Spit’, which does a terrific job of covering the Northern Ireland punk scene from 1977 to 1982. He aims to set up a label which provides us with previously unreleased material from this most productive, inspired, and, naturally, volatile of punk scenes. Spit’s roster is opened by a release by one of NI’s most revered crews the Outcasts, which brings together two razor-sharp live sets, both recorded at the West-Side Club, in Lyon, France, in 1983 and 1984. Stand-outs include ‘The Cops Are Coming’ from the 1979 split EP ‘The Battle Of The Bands’ and their trashing of the Kenny Rogers weepy ‘Ruby…’. Add to this a 24-page booklet with excellent sleeve notes, including quotes from band members and the likes of SLF’s Henry Cluney, and you can’t go wrong.
Shane Baldwin

SCRITTI POLITTI
ABSOLUTE
(Virgin)
Scritti’s 34-year career comes full circle. 
4/10
As Green Garside seems to be on extended leave again, Virgin have decided to plug the gap with a retrospective spanning 34 years. Scritti Politti enjoyed their biggest mainstream success in the heady days of the mid-’80s and this album kicks off with most of them, back-to-back. The band’s immaculate, state-of-the-art pop topped off with Garside’s sugar-coated vocals had the world eating out of their hands at their height. ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’, ‘Absolute’ and then onto US top 10 smash ‘Perfect Way’ were the soundtrack for a generation. Though ‘Absolute’ offers extras for completists and it’s always nice to have a catch-up, this feels pretty patchy at best and it doesn’t help that the band have only averaged one album every seven years. A strange mix of top ten glitz, hip-hop comebacks and post-punk roots. 
Neil Anderson

SPIZZ
WHERE’S CAPTAIN KIRK? – THE VERY BEST OF SPIZZ
(Cherry Red)
Beam me up Scotty – it’s a career spanning Spizz retrospective!
7/10
This compilation includes nearly all Spizz’s single releases, some b-sides and some album tracks too from 1978 to 1982, when the band was renowned for changing its name on an almost yearly basis, as well as several latter day Spizz projects from the 1990s. Best remembered for the Spizz Energi incarnation though, their most famous songs are probably ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’ and ‘Soldier Soldier’. But, if songs such as ‘Captain Kirk’ and ‘Spock’s Missing’ displayed a keen sci-fi sense of humour, then earlier songs like ‘6000 Crazy’ and ‘Cold City’ belied an edgier punk sensibility. As for the ’90s material, ‘On My Own’, is a stab at New Order-lite techno pop that’s not entirely without charm, but the gimmicky ‘The Sun Never Sets On Aston Villa’ is an acquired taste. Best remember them by their early idiosyncratic post-punk output then. 
Rich Deakin

TALISMAN
DOLE AGE – THE 1981 REGGAE COLLECTION
(Bristol Archive)
Arguably Bristol’s finest ’70s/’80s reggae act’s lost gems unearthed.
7/10
Bristol Archive Records have done it again. Alongside Black Roots, Talisman (originally formed under the name Revelation Rockers back in 1977 before the new moniker stuck in the early ’80s) were not only Bristol’s, but one of the UK’s finest reggae bands, earning them support slots with The Clash and The Rolling Stones. However, they never got a major record deal and their two singles from 1981 and two later LPs, ‘Takin’ The Strain’ (1984) and ‘Jam Rock’ (1990) are difficult to find to say the least. But thanks to Bristol Archive, this collection combines the two original 7” singles and seven previously unreleased live cuts of shows from Glastonbury and Bath University. Although more recorded material rather than live would have been desirable given the quality of these tracks, it’s still another release that shows how vibrant the Bristol scene was.
Ian Chaddock

THE TUBES
WILD WEST SHOW
(Secret)
White punks go west in London.
6/10
These ’70s San Francisco rockers’ outrageous stage reputation of old included mock bondage rituals, simulated sex and machine gun-toting terrorists kidnapping members of the audiences and imprisoning them in cages on stage. There was also a cast of outrageous characters including crippled Nazi Dr Strangekiss, country singer Hugh Heifer, punk star Johnny Bugger and, most notorious of all, Quay Lewd, an androgynous rock star with fright wig and teetering platform boots. The Tubes’ 2004 Shepherds Bush Empire show was rather less shocking but there’s plenty on this live CD/DVD set to keep the die-hards happy, including a guest appearance from Vice Squad’s finest, Beki Bondage. ‘White Punks On Dope’ will always stand out as the band at their finest – satirical rock ’n’ roll at its most addictive – and the live version here is great. But there’s another 165 minutes to go at.
Neil Anderson

TWISTED SISTER
COME OUT AND PLAY / LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS
(Armoury)
’80s glam metallers’ last two studio albums remastered.
6/10 & 3/10
Although Twisted Sister still perform live to this day they haven’t actually released a full studio album since 1987’s ‘Love Is For Suckers’. Originally intended as a Dee Snider solo album this was the last before their split in the 80’s and it shows. A sloppy mix of the pop rock that gained them notoriety, intermingled with a hashed return to their metal roots which couldn’t save this from the bargain bins. However its predecessor, 1985’s ‘Come Out And Play’ is a stronger affair. A rousing cover of The Shangri-Las’ ‘Leader Of The Pack’ is the highlight here, with other notable fist-banging anthems like the stomp of ‘I Believe In Rock ‘N’ Roll’. These re-issues may not be Twisted Sister’s finest hours but there is fun to be had amongst them.
Miles Hackett

THE UNDERTONES
TRUE CONFESSIONS (SINGLES = A’S + B’S)
(Salvo)
Away from the politics of 70’s punk, stood Ireland’s finest band.
9/10
Looking beyond the troubles of their Derry home, they embraced the bubblegum Punk of the Ramones with their own songwriting craft. From 1978’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ Feargal Sharkey and co. careered through a catalogue of gems adding melody to the grim early Thatcher years. ‘Get Over You’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘Here Comes the Summer’,’ You’ve Got My Number’ and ‘My Perfect Cousin’ all sound as immediate and fresh today as the day they were conceived. When the band attempted to present a more mature extension of their sound, most successfully with the soul-flavoured beat of ‘It’s Going To Happen’, sadly their star began to wane and by 1983 the end was inevitable. This 2-CD compilation houses all of their singles along with often over-looked flip sides.
Tony Beesley

VARIOUS ARTISTS 
AVON CALLING 2: FORGOTTEN GEMS & UNKNOWN CURRIOS
(Bristol Archive)
Terrific post-punk from the South West.
9/10
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, regional compilations were very much in vogue, particularly the Brighton ‘Vaultage’ sets that introduced the likes of Peter And The Test Tube Babies and the Piranhas. So, when John Peel referred to Heartbeat Records’ 1979 compilation ‘Avon Calling’ as “the one that all other compilations must be judged by”, it was no small compliment. The South West was a thriving hotbed of post-punk activity, with many startlingly good (and some just startling) bands on the scene, and Heartbeat boss Simon Edwards was something of an archivist, storing up much of their unreleased work. Now we have the best of it on ‘Avon Calling 2’, with gems indeed from the likes of Social Security, X-Certs, Europeans, 48 Hours, Apartment and Joe Public. 
Shane Baldwin

VARIOUS ARTISTS
CROSSROADS IN COWTOWN
(Fantastic Voyage)
Vintage hillbilly, swing, boogie and western boppers.
7/10
This is a humdinger of a collection of tracks highlighting that, although the rock ‘n’ roll revolution was four years away when the earliest cuts were released, Elvis and co. only gave what was already proliferating from the late ’40s a bit of a tweak and added pink and black. Ranging from 1950 to ’58, the variety of styles showcased here become a mixture in the pot with swing boogie and hillbilly being mangled together as successfully as blues and hillbilly. The emphasis on this collection is on up-tempo dancefloor fillers strong on rhythm with delicious instrumentation. The lyrical content of some of these tracks will testify that while the style they sung over may well have been dated even by the end of the 1950s they were rockin’ it up in lifestyle long before the kids who thought they invented it.
Simon Nott

VARIOUS ARTISTS
KRIS NEEDS PRESENTS… DIRTY WATER 2: MORE BIRTH OF PUNK ATTITUDE
(Year Zero)
Kris Needs casts his net wider into the depths of ever dirtier water. 
9/10
‘Dirty Water 1’ was never going to be an easy act to follow, but Needsy has done it again, with 39 songs of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘60s psych,  garage, be-bop, free jazz and reggae, all imbued with punk attitude. While this second volume strays into more well chartered waters at times too, with Bowie, Velvets and the ubiquitous MC5, there are still plenty more surprises. The Rudements’ ‘Imagination’ from 1978 is a real revelation, whilst Needs himself is given a helping hand by sundry members of The Clash and Generation X, with his own band The Vice Creems on ‘Danger Love’ from the same year. With yet another exhaustive booklet penned by Needs – 84 pages to be precise – this is a more than worthy successor.
Rich Deakin

VARIOUS ARTISTS
SASSY SUGAR – THE PURE ESSENE OF NASHVILLE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
(Fantastic Voyage)
When it was good it was good.
7/10
Nashville did to rock ‘n’ roll what it did to country – made it palatable to the masses. Some of the tracks on here will have the toes curling to snapping point, while others salivating in anticipation. There are some big names here, including Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, but it’s the largely unsung who are the stars, the session-men like guitar legend Grady Martin who were drafted in to ensure that the no-hit wonders that were being given a shot got the best chance to crack that one song. Sugary choruses and backing vocals without a doubt bloated many a lithe hipshaker, just witness how it tamed some ex-Sun wildmen, but filter that out and there are still plenty of gems – Ronnie Self’s ‘Black Night Blues’ being one of them – to make this an excellent compilation which Stuart Coleman’s excellent notes bring to life.
Simon Nott

VISIONS OF CHANGE / THE DEPRAVED
VISIONS OF CHANGE / THE DEPRAVED
(Boss Tuneage)
Exhaustive, and pretty exhausting, reissue of mid-1980s posi-punk.
7/10
Emanating from the unlikely suburban surroundings of Leamington Spa, The Depraved were pioneers of the nascent British posi-punk scene. Taking influence from the personal politics and intelligence of North American straight edge they truly represented the punk DIY (not EMI) ethic, playing some pretty spectacular and energetic lives shows along the way. Captured on the first disc of this reissue are both their albums and various compilation cuts. By 1987 The Depraved had mutated into Visions Of Change, cranked up a hammond organ, learnt to play a lot better (by their own admission, according to the comprehensive sleeve notes) and, in the process, created what can only be termed psyche-punk. This stuff soundtracked my misspent youth and it’s amazing how fresh, intense and vital these songs still sound.
Steve Lee

WAYNE COUNTY AND THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CLEOPATRA
(RPM)
The pre-Jayne punk years revisited.
6/10
As a fearless pioneer in trans-gender identification and a vital mover and shaker in New York’s 1970s glam-punk crossover, Wayne, later Jayne, County’s cultural significance is hard to overstate, although it might be fair to say there’s more to this artiste than his/her recorded output yields; the County oeuvre brags some indisputable high points – tranny-punk smut blasts such as ‘Fuck Off’, ‘Mean Motherfucking Man’ or ‘Toilet Love’ are undisputed triumphs. But the more pedestrian dog-ends of County’s recordings amount to little more than bargain basement heavy metal (albeit
with camper than usual vocals), and the Max’s live roster at the time certainly had better acts on offer. There’s a certain filler quotient to the twenty tracks compiled here, but if you can wear a certain percentage of derivative press-forward moments, the aforementioned nuggets should justify this purchase.
Hugh Gulland
 

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MAY ALBUM REVIEWS

ANDY BLADE
LET’S BURN THE INTERNET DOWN
(Cherry Red)
Former Eater frontman back on fine form.
8/10

Though this doesn’t quite reach the heights of Andy Blade’s 2008 groundbreaking ‘Life Affirming Songs For Those With A Bad Attitude’, it’s definitely worthy of a place in your collection. The multi-talented chap plays and produces everything himself. He does it with endearing brio, humour and is quite happy to toss a sucker punch in the direction of the establishment when and where necessary, proving his ’77 punk spirit is very much alive and gobbing. ‘Paradise & Below’, ‘You Kill Me’ and ‘Electrified’, with their outspoken guitar, swirling effects and enigmatic vocals, are definite highlights but there’s still very little filler on there. Andy Blade has truly reinvented himself in recent years and is amassing legions of followers that were hardly out of nappies when he first got in front of a microphone.
Neil Anderson

BOB WAYNE
OUTLAW CARNIE
(People Like You)
Seattle outlaw country man with a punk attitude.
9/10

Armed with his leather vest, a thick accent and his Outlaw Carnies backing band of banjo, fiddle and upright bass players, Bob Wayne is the modern embodiment of the outlaw country spirit of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Alongside the likes of Hank III, he’s putting the spit ‘n’ blood back into country, with the likes of opener ‘Road Bound’, ‘Mack’ and ‘Everything’s Legal In Alabama’ telling tales of brawling, drink, drugs, trucks and guns, all while sweating a punk rock aggression. But he’s not just a one trick pony, with album highlight ‘Blood To Dust’ a more sombre, stripped down and melodic story about Wayne’s tough life. If you want to hear country with a true rebel sound then look no further than ‘Outlaw Carnie’. Bob Wayne tells it like it is, warts and all.
Ian Chaddock


BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
(Devils Jukebox)
Authentic rock ‘n’ roll with a country tinge, fronted by New York punk kitten.
7/10

Former NY Loose babe Brijitte West is the perfect package. Back with her new gang of Hopefuls, this album is a feisty siesta of no-nonsense punky country rock. One moment you’re slammin’ tequilas with the playful ‘Hey Papito’ (on this issue’s covermount CD), the next you’re pogoing to the stonking ‘Not My Fault’, then you’re kicking back with the melodic country ballads ‘How To Be Good’, a duet with Jesse Malin. She absorbs the rustic twangs of Sheryl Crow with the Runaways grrl-power of Ms. Jett, then secretes nothing but unadulterated classic rock aura. The self-titled album isn’t ground breaking but it’s professional and full of anthems. They know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it with balls. Rock and fucking roll!
Nina Cresswell

CRASHED OUT
CRASH AND BURN
(I Hate People)
Geordie street rock ‘n’ roll, straight from the heart.
9/10

The Jarrow lads have done it again. ‘Crash And Burn’ is a shotgun filled with hard rock, balls-out punk, and nifty lyrics that will blow your brains out! Following the blinding ‘Pearls Before Swine’, the new album is a street punk masterpiece with a robust measure of classic rock licks. Chris Wright blast punk s out ‘Still A Fighter’, a heartfelt account of his boxing background, and ‘Battle Scarred’, a powerful military anthem, with nothing but genuine passion. Catchy, light-hearted tracks ‘Save Amy’ and ‘Feel Good’ are teamed with honest ballads ‘The Town That Died’, and the cheeky ‘Son Of A Gun’ with an end product that makes me proud to be from the North East. What I want to know is, who is “Cushy Butterfield”? She sounds like my kind of girl!
Nina Cresswell



DAVE PARSONS
UNSTABLE
(One Media)
Sham 69 founder’s fine second solo outing.
7/10

As founding guitarist with Sham 69, Parsons has long established himself as one of punk’s best players and tunesmiths, but this album contains much that wouldn’t sit happily in the Sham catalogue. It’s been a good while since his last solo album, 1996’s ‘Reconciled’, but, perhaps reinvigorated by the new Jimmy Pursey-less, but much more active, Sham, here he is with another (for now, it’s digital only though). Openers ‘Hope And Faith’ and ‘Framed’ are tuneful pop/punk with a glammy edge, while ‘Can You Here Me Now’ is a subdued number with acoustic guitar, piano and nice vocal harmonies. Elsewhere, ‘Another Way’ moves into robust metal, even hair metal territory, and though ‘Gotta Get Outta This Place’ is not an Animals cover, Parsons cheekily slips in a few bars of the classic. Well worth checking out.
Shane Baldwin

THE DEAD CLASS
STICK
(Antipop)
Pop-tainted grime from punk rock’s latest DIY investment.
8/10

These guys have been on the scene for five years and have already made their name on tour. It’s punk the way it should be, with fresh lyrics that differ from the normal psycho-politico, but with the smell of petroleum plus all the same. ‘Be Afraid’ is a psychobilly entrance, with the paranoid visions of a society gone mad rings linking from their previous release ‘Age Of Paranoia’. ‘Other Side Of You’ has a heavy metal undertone and coils of sardonic dark humoured vocals. On ‘Dirty Dick’ there’s a Dead Kennedys feel about the sleazy riffs and the masquerade of singer Villy. Single ‘Pulse And A Heartache’ deals a serious tempo adjustment. The Dead Class manage to intertwine pop punk and classic hardcore without losing anything in Americanisation.
Ayisha Khan


THE DESTRUCTORS / GRIPPER

LES FLEURS DU MAL
(Rowdy Farrago)
Split EP from the UK old schoolers and former singer’s new outfit Gripper.
8/10

The Destructors were one of the forefathers of the UK punk scene and this split sees pretty much nigh on the original ’78 line-up back together, complete with original vocalist Allen Adams. An anti-war lyrical stance (‘Third World War’) and some full-on riffage has them wrecking on their four tracks. New Zealand’s, Gripper’s link with the Destructors is their singer Neil Singleton replaced Adams on vocals back in the ‘80s. Their boisterous, four tracks are more tongue-in-cheek than their split partners but great all the same. Leaning more toward the foul mouthed bluesy punkage of Sick On The Bus, tracks like ‘Useless’ and ‘How’s Ya Farva’ are only a let down in the production department. A quality split from polar sides of the globe.

Miles Hackett

DISCO LEPERS
ROSE ALLEY INBREDS

(Shattered Debauchee Press)
More scattergun punk potshots in a C&W stylee from these self-styled “London Kidney Thieves”.
8/10

Rose Alley Inbreds is an intoxicating hybrid of Cajun, C&W, and rock ’n’ roll with a hefty pinch of punk attitude. Mercilessly lampooning all manner of cultural, social and political sacred cows and taboos alike, take the ‘Rhinestone Klansman’ for example, or the immensely hilarious ‘I Caught H.I.V. From A Dirty Phone Call’. Some of the songs may – no, will – offend the sensibilities of more sensitive souls, for instance ‘God Bless Mark David Chapman’ is a cheap shot at The Beatles, but scratch beneath the surface of the provocative titles and you’ll find some cleverly crafted lyrics that owe as much to wry, satirical observation as they do to being offensive for the sake of it.  The trick is not to take things too seriously.
Rich Deakin

THE DISRUPTERS 

GENERATION RETARD 

(Overground)

UK82 veterans still angry after all these years. 

6/10


The Disrupters are a Norwich based punk band who formed in late 1980. Originally influenced by the punk bands of the late ‘70s, the band was eventually drawn to the anarchist scene, attracting the attention of Crass, who included their track ‘Napalm’ on their ‘Bullshit Detector’ compilation. Having eventually split up in 1988, they made a well-received comeback in 2007 and, with a slightly revamped line-up, recorded this uncompromising album. If they were angry young men decades ago, the years have done little to calm them down as they rail against religious bigotry, corporate greed and child abusers. It’s not exactly easy listening by anyone’s standards, but as the band themselves point out “it is a dark album, but we live in dark times”.
Lee Cotterell

THE DOGBONES
THE DOGBONES
(Buzzsaw)
Edgy, chaotic glam-grunge with splashes of metal and riot grrl power.
8/10

From the ashes of Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena come The Dogbones: a rollercoaster of frenzied screams and gritty rock over a  drum-heavy shadow of voodoo beats. Metal influences of blood-spitting track ‘Aneurin’ are undeniable and ‘All Your Friends (Are Going To Kill You)’ incarnates a schizophrenic episode wonderfully. ‘It Was A Lie’ is a dark, grimey gem and the album highlight. There’s a couple of disappointing tracks, with ‘Hey Chihuahua’ and ‘I Want Alcohol’, but they’re odd cracks in an otherwise grunge-glam work of art. Nomi Leonard shows Courtney Love what a grunge girl really is, seamlessly switching between haunting screeches, psychotic quivers and sweet riot grrl power. The Dogbones create a chaotic rocket that will blast you into another dimension.
Nina Cresswell

THE GODFATHERS
SHOT LIVE AT THE 100 CLUB
(Secret)
Essential, spunky rock ‘n’ roll live album celebrating 25 years as a band.
9/10

This CD/DVD is a perfect way to commemorate a quarter of a century of the Godfathers. The boys blast through a classic Godfathers set at London’s 100 Club, with 25 fan favourite songs, including ‘I Want Everything’, ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’, ‘This Damn Nation’, ‘Walking’ and ‘Talking Johnny Cash Blues’. In fact we get a double whammy of delight here because brothers Peter and Chris Coyne have reunited with old partner in crime, guitarist Del Bartle. They treat us to The Sid Presley Experience’s ‘Hup 234!’ and ‘Cold Turkey’, with powerhouse drummer Grant Nicholas’ great vocal harmonies. We have a couple of new sing-along anthems, with ‘Get Back! Back Into The Future! Going All The Way Home’ seemingly summing up the situation.
Shanne Bradley

JERRY LEE LEWIS
MEAN OLD MAN
(Decca)
Great balls of fire, he’s still (country) rockin’!
9/10


Rock ‘n’ roll’s original hellraiser may be in his mid-seventies but, judging from ‘Mean Old Man’, he’s still got it. Breaking through in the ‘50s with hits like ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, over half a century later Lewis retains his ageing snarl. There’s also a plethora of all-star guests, and amongst the musicians are nearly every Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer, but the best include Slash and Kid Rock (on rock ‘n’ roller ‘Rockin’ My Life Away’) and Willie Nelson (‘Whisky River’). The tongue-in-cheek title track, penned by Kris Kristofferson, is a Johnny Cash-esque country rocker that shows his sharp wit. ‘Miss The Mississippi And You’ is just Lewis and his piano and it’s a poignant closer. He may be a mean old man but he’s still a rock ‘n’ roll legend.
Ian Chaddock

KNOX AND THE TRAILER TRASH ORCHESTRA
THE KNOXVILLE BOY

(Trashville)
Vibrators’ legendary frontman comes over all country.
7/10

Having played with first wave punk rockers the Vibrators for thirty five years, it’s refreshing to hear bona fide punk hero Knox teaming up with country band Trailer Trash Orchestra for an eleven track album of countrified goodness. From Vibrators songs given a stomping barroom makeover like ‘Baby Baby’ to a dark cover of the classic ‘The Knoxville Girl’, along with unreleased songs by both Knox and TTO frontman Grae J, it’s an album rich with instrumentation and storytelling. With pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, double bass, double guitar and drums accompanying Knox’s distinctive vocals, this shows another side to the veteran punk rocker. From an idea born in a North London art gallery in 2007 to this heartfelt album, it’s a must-have for any Vibrators or country fans. Next stop, Knoxville.
John Damon

LOS PEYOTES 

GARAJE O MUERTE
(Dirty Water Club)
Argentina’s mad dog quintet take on ‘60s garage corpse decadence.
5/10

The kings of South American garage punk hit back with their third LP but instead of fiery psychobilly that leaves a tequila, salt and lime aftertaste, there’s a dispelled rock ‘n’ roll seasoning churned out from a choppy Farfisa organ. The band has attempted to re-brand an outworn ‘60s garage that would have been alive and well in the smoky joints of their South American forefathers, but not even ’96 Lágrimas’ is able to revive an age gone by. They do however drive a catchy rhythm; ‘Connection’, an Inglés track on their bilingual mix, fuses dimensional strands of organ and thunder drum musings, before launching into an instrumental flair of unwired sound collections. ‘Rebelde’ is the highlight; warm tremolo guitars echoing raw vocal vivacity. It’s too difficult to resist the Latino pulse.
Ayisha Khan

THE LOYALTIES

SO MUCH FOR SOHO
(Devils Jukebox)
Real punk ‘n’ roll straight from the gutter.
7/10

An album that effortlessly channels punk forefathers the Clash, the Ramones and Dead Boys, ‘So Much For Soho’ is a killer 12-track of melodic sing-along punk ‘n’ roll. ‘Green Eyes’ is on this issue’s free CD and is a highlight, while the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint. ‘Two Ladies’ takes a more punkabilly thrust: deep rock ‘n’ roll bass and screaming guitar solos blast as Tom Spencer pulls off a psycho rasp akin to that of the legendary P. Paul Fenech. ‘30 Nage’ paints an all-too-real picture of original ’77 rockers growing old disgracefully. Four bonus tracks add a delicious dessert to a fresh mix of new age punk. Ex-Yo-Yos, Black Halos, Towers of London and Deadline members formulate a flawless line-up, and a gem for any punk rock collection.

Nina  Cresswell

MAMA ROSIN
BLACK ROBERT
(Gutfeeling)
Woozy, boozy Creole romper-stomping all the way from Sweden.
6/10

Incredibly, for a Swiss trio – Mama Rosin have distilled The Deliverance Experience to a hi-definition, fly-by tour of Louisiana’s backwaters, leaving you loose-limbed and lost in the badlands. It’s a feverish, sweaty blend that rocks and reels from the bare-knuckle, gumbo punk of ‘J’Arrive Pas A Dormir’ to the Bo Diddley rhythms and swamp-dwelling drums of ‘Bon Temps Roulet #3’ and the lumbering, lazy sway of ‘Quinze Jours Passes’. Every tune is so raw-rooted you can taste the delta dust between the tracks. ‘Black Robert is home-made, musical moonshine and something like sitting in on a Saturday night juke-joint jam. I’m all for woozy grooves and freewheeling wig-outs but a few too many drifting riffs and shapeless shakedowns muddy up an otherwise fiery collection of voodoo blues and campfire anthems.
Dave Collins

MAROON TOWN 

URBAN MYTHS
(Rockers Revolt)
8/10

For a band who have been around for over twenty years, Maroon Town sound remarkably fresh. The South London nine-piece were mainstays of the late ‘80s ska revival scene, releasing the groundbreaking ‘High And Dry’ album, which mixed Jamaican ska, rap and soul to tremendous effect. Since then they’ve travelled the globe many times taking their community music to the people and ‘Urban Myths’ plants them firmly back on the map. The songs strut and swagger with a new found confidence, complimented by the smooth female vocals mixed with the male rap attack. Opener ‘Ya Ya (Lemme Tell Dem)’ whips up a dancehall storm, ‘Latin Moshpit’ adds salsa rhythms to the party, ‘Bella Cosa’ incorporates a heavy reggae and dub vibe and ska instrumental ‘Bullit’ whips along at a fair pace. Maroon Town are back at the forefront of the cross-cultural sound clash. 

Andy Peart

MARSEILLE
UNFINISHED BUSINESS

(Gas Station)
Reformed NWOBHM band featuring ‘Art Attack’ axeman.
7/10

Depending on how old you, you’ll either know the name Neil Buchanan as guitarist for ‘80s hair rockers/metallers Marseille or as the presenter of ‘90s kid’s TV art show ‘Art Attack’. Either way, he’s certainly a great lead guitarist, peeling off some impressive licks throughout this comeback album. Having reformed in 2009, this is their first aptly titled new album. From the anthemic title track opener to the gang vocals and rock ‘n’ roll worship of ‘I Believe’ to the uplifting ‘Everyone Dies Young’, this is still NWOBHM through and through. Nowadays, with older bands trying to sound current and falling flat on their faces, it’s good to hear a band coming back and doing what they’re best at. Get out your air guitar and bang your head, Marseille have got unfinished business and, damn it, this is a lot of fun.
John Damon

NEW YORK DOLLS
DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS
(Blast)
7/10

Judge this third album from the rejuvenated 21st century ‘Dolls on its tracklisting, which includes three “baby”s, two servings of “fabulous” and a starter of “streetcake”, and you’d think the clean and consistent band had perfected popping out glam trash to the point of self-parody. Expecting ‘Round And Round She Goes’ grit ’n’ glitter rock however, this would be more accurately judged on the title it shares with a Ginger Rogers biopic. It‘s not that the ‘Dolls have learned any new tricks, rather rendered a rose-tinted, retro-fabulous record by skilling up on some of the oldest in the book. Their latent Shangri-Las love surfaces in swathes of shimmering ’60s harmonies, whilst elsewhere David Johansen reanimates crooner alter-ego Buster Poindexter. With an ironic lack of fast-paced fuel for the dancefloor, it’ll be interesting to see them match this mellow and atmospheric offering to old favourites onstage.
Alison Bateman

PHIL SCHOENFELT AND SOUTHERN CROSS
PARANOIA.COM
(Easy Action)
Darksider blues rock from Schoenfelt and friends.
7/10

Former Khmer Rouge man and Nikki Sudden collaborator, Prague-based Phil Schoenfelt has staked out his territory in the badlands of brooding blues-tinged rock, and this new offering – conceived and recorded in the wake of the ravages of Interferon treatment – is an appropriately dark-hearted affair. As the title would suggest, Schoenfelt’s current material seethes with paranoiac malaise, alleviated by the melancholic atmospherics at work on cuts such as ‘Forgiven’. Schoenfelt’s references are worn on his sleeve here – ‘Bitterman’ or the stunning ‘Bloodshot Eyes’ recall the troubled misanthropy of Nick Cave, while ‘Undertow’ taps into Joy Division’s icy magnificence. Not least, there’s a heartfelt tip of the hat to Iggy And The Stooges whose neglected classic ‘Open Up And Bleed’ is given a masterful working over here. A heartsick concentration of rocking-blues vitriol and regret.
Hugh Gulland

THE POSIES
BLOOD/CANDY
(Ryko)
Breaking a five-year hiatus The Posies return with sugar rush rock.
9/10

The band name sets the scene: a playground mantra with a black museum back story. The tunes tell the tale: sing-along songs of deep, dark deliciousness that get into your system. Like Jellyfish’s muscular younger brothers, The Posies specialise in constructing perfect pop confections, peaking with ‘She’s Coming Down Again’ tickling your ears with sugary hooks, harmonies and melodies. Whipping along like a Siberian wind, the album gear shifts through fidgety time signatures, layering Teenage Fanclub toplines over Mott The Hoople chants and Wings-style pocket-operatta. Ghostly girly guest vocals bring some silvery shimmer to The Posies’ twilight tones, with heavyweight ledge Sir Hugh Of Cornwall adding his man-in-black snap to ‘Plastic Paperbacks’. Blood/Candy is a song book of shadowy modes and sunshine super pop. 
Dave Collins


RANDOM HAND
SEETHING IS BELIEVING
(Bomber)
7/10

What can you really say about Random Hand that hasn’t been said before? ‘Seething Is Believing’, their third full-length, is another solid and brilliant album from the Yorkshire based ska punk outfit. From the first song ‘Tales Of Intervention’ to their final track ‘42 Days Off The Records’, they just play their hearts out, and you can really hear it and appreciate it. I don’t even like ska music, but I just couldn’t help listening to this album over and over again. 2011 should be a big year for Random Hand with this album and going out on tour with friends The King Blues. Make sure you grab this album, as it is one fine piece of work. You’ll be seething that more music isn’t as passionate as this and believing that Random Hand are one of the UK’s finest ska punk acts after hearing this.
Ian McCreery

RODEO MASSACRE
IF YOU CAN’T SMOKE ‘EM SELL ‘EM
(Smoky Carrot)
Accomplished retro rockers take us back with their ‘60s garage sound.
8/10

Psychedelia gets a 21st century sonic twist courtesy of the debut album of this seismic Swedish-French outfit. Fronted by the swaggering, sultry Izzy Lindqwister, a female prodigy of
former Johnny Thunders’ guitarist Stevie Klassion, Rodeo Massacre produce corrosive garage blues. Think Fuzztones with a dose of 13th Floor Elevators, with the ghost of Jim Morrisson in the background. Check out the driving ‘Women’, a slice of retro genius with the all the ‘60s-inspired frills and frivolities.
Songs like ‘Zombies Of Life’ and ‘Deadly Bite’ drip with steamy voodoo magic. Zorba, the co-founder of Rodeo Massacre, is also a fully qualified pharmacist which can only be a plus factor when a truly out of body gigging performance is the order of the evening. Psychedelia? They’ve got it bottled.
Neil Anderson

ROGER MIRET & THE DISASTERS
GOTTA GET UP NOW
(People Like You)
Pounding street punk.
8/10

It’s hard to believe that the Agnostic Front singer has been leading The Disasters for more than ten years now, but here we are with the band’s fourth album and it was more than worth the five0year wait. They’ve always been a force to be reckoned with, but the band have never sounded more passionate than they do here. Ultra-precise hardcore drums pound away at a dizzying pace, guitars generate a wall of sound layered with intricate licks, Miret’s formidable vocals are at once powerful and melodic and the backing vocals either soar to the ceiling or pin you to the wall with a footy-terrace roar. Opener ‘Stand Up And Fight’ is a weighty slab of honest street punk, while the title track nicely evokes the Clash, but there’s absolutely no filler here. First rate street punk.
Shane Baldwin

ROYAL REPUBLIC
WE ARE THE ROYAL
(Roadrunner)
Gut-busting rock ‘n’ roll from vivacious Swedish four-piece.
7/10

They are the Royal: a frantic comet of energetic indie slam-glam rock, and, no doubt about it, they’re gonna shatter this globe. Their eclectic musical tailoring is fabricated with shoes of The Hives, Electric Six’s undercrackers and shrouded in the leather jackets of the New York Dolls. RR’s debut single ‘Tommy Gun’ is a splicing of Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes: chunky space-bass, rousing guitar twangs and drum beats with the power to concuss. Swathed with frontman Adam Grahn’s distinct hollers, the Swedish quartet are a barrel of explosive talent. ‘Full Steam Space Machine’ is jam-packed with thumping electro punk and psychedelic sing-along originality, and with tongue-in-cheek tracks like ‘Underwear’ and ‘Good To Be Bad’, it’s refreshing to see new-fangled rockers who don’t take themselves too seriously.
Nina Cresswell

SHIPPING NEWS

ONE LESS HEARTLESS TO FEAR

(Noise Pollution/Southern)

Kentucky post-punk experimentation.
7/10

Think post-punk and Louisville and the mighty Slint loom large (in fact, bassist Todd Cook played with the reunited version of that band at ATP). Shipping News have not escaped their influence, but there’s also a distinct nod to the more forceful Chicago sound of Naked Raygun, the Effigies or, more appositely, Songs About-era Big Black (especially closer ‘Do You Remember The Avenues’). It has the same looseness of rhythm and sonic cadence – especially in the Albini-esque vocals – but elsewhere the drawn-out riffs do indeed evoke something of Slint’s mighty ‘Spiderland’. Recorded live – the occasional ripple of applause being the only clue – ‘…Heartless…’ has genuine moments of visceral beauty, as on the instrumental ‘Half House’, on which they completely immerse themselves in a single riff.
Alex Ogg

THE SHOTGLASS KILLERS
GHOST OF AN EMPTY BOTTLE
(Devils Jukebox)
Transatlantic scuzzy punk rock fun.
8/10

Featuring current and former members of the likes of the Loyalties, Pussy Crush, Sweet Zeros, Gabba and the Classic Ruins, there’s no doubting that the Shotglass Killers have the experience and ability. Throw in a great, raw yet powerful production from the Damned guitar legend Brian James (who also guests on opener ‘He’s Got Style’) and you’ve got an album that draws on the likes of the Ramones, the Rezillos and Johnny Thunders. Gutter pop punk gems like ‘Be Someone’ and ‘Pixie (Rush Hour Go Slow)’ and the garage punk anthem and album highlight ‘Turn Up The Gain’ (on this issue’s free CD) show that, although influenced by the greats, they’re putting their own spin on their female-fronted assault. Raise your shot glasses in the air and slam them, here’s to your new favourite band!
Rachel Owen

SOCIAL DISTORTION

HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES
(Epitaph)
Mike Ness and co. with another punk ‘n’ roll diamond in the rough.
8/10

How many bands do you know that can combine punk, rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly as seamlessly and powerfully as the mighty Social D? Not many, if any. ‘Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes’ isn’t a big change for them by any means and it’s not their best album either (that accolade would still go to their raucous 1983 debut classic ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’ in my opinion), but it does show that they can still produce the good thirty years into their career. From the dusty instrumental opener ‘Road Zombie’ to the Americana meets gospel of ‘California (Hustle And Flow)’ and the countrified punk rock gold of ‘Machine Gun Blues’ and ‘Can’t Take It With You’, Ness is still telling his thrilling tales. Long may he continue.
Rachel Owen

TEENAGE FANCLUB
SHADOWS
(PeMa)
Hit and miss ninth album from Scottish alt-pop rockers.
6/10

Norman Blake and Teenage Fanclub have never tinkered too much with a winning formula, and here, five years on from their last release, they remain homaged to the gills to West Coast pop; to Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, Roger McGuinn and to the original Postcard sound. ‘Shadows’ doesn’t have the ultimate staying power of their epochal ‘Grand Prix’ or ‘Bandwagonesque’ albums, but it does run them close at points. Not least on the album’s bookends. Opener ‘Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything’ has an understated riff that collapses into rhapsodic harmony to thrilling effect, while closer ‘Today Never Ends’ is an instantly agreeable sonic daydream. Not everything within those two staging points is as compulsive, however, and there are times when whimsy threatens to suffocate the compositions.
Alex Ogg

THEE FACTION
AT EBBW VALE
(Soviet Beret)
Backing the USSR: R‘n’B (Reds and Blues) from Surrey based comrades.
8/10

With the Blue Meanies back in power, student riots, twitchy nuclear trigger-fingers (yes, you North Korea) and a right royal knees-up in the middle of debts, doldrums and redundancy – the return of Thee Faction couldn’t be better timed. A swinging Socialist collective from Surrey since 1985, these red beret rockers are back to rabble rouse your mind and agit-prop your pop. ‘At Ebbw Vale’ is the comeback manifesto and by Gorbachov it’s good. Twinning Dr Feelgood rhythms and Eastern Bloc rocking beats on the industrious riffing of ‘Union Man’ and ‘Conservative Friend’ alongside the brothers and sisters party chants of ‘Social Inclusion Thru Marxism’ – it’s the greatest red record since Lenin And McCartney’s ‘Снова в СССР’. The revolution starts here so get onboard and lend your ears to the cause comrades.
Dave Collins


TOWER BLOCKS
BERLIN HABITS
(Sunny Bastards)
The sound of Berlin’s street punk stays the same.
6/10

Tower Blocks bring to mind the best German street punk export Oxymoron. Although their songs are not as instantly recognisable, the commitment of Tower Blocks is not to question. The album relies on well-executed raw guitars, raspy vocals and big choruses and it is no surprise that we’re now dealing with the band’s fifth studio album. Songs like ‘Berlin Bombshells’ introduce double bass and uplifting backing vocals, while ‘The Fine Line’ shows that they also got the Anti-Nowhere League in Germany. ‘The Last Punkrock Scandal’, which features Sucker from Oxymoron, sounds like Blocks’ equivalent to the Sex Pistols’ tongue-in-cheek anthem ‘The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle’. There is a slight occasional flirt with metal or rockabilly and a token ballad, but overall the band does not step too far away from the rather rigid street punk/Oi-formula.
Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen

THE TWILIGHT SINGERS
DYNAMITE STEPS
(Sub Pop)
Widescreen dustbowl-blues from the former Afghan Whig.
7/10

Following up on 2006’s ‘Powder Burns’, one-time Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli and his current outfit the Twilight Singers resume their exploration of sepia-tinged Americana with ‘Dynamite Steps’, a mini-epic of post-grunge drifter-blues in which Dulli’s well-fitting persona of truckstop lounge-lizard comes into its own. Not that ‘Dynamite Steps’ hits the target
every time; portions of the record are pleasantly tasteful rather than outstanding, but there’s enough of the latter to merit your attention here. Whether adopting the Nick Cave-style of balladry on ‘Last Night In Town’, or unleashing the searing guitar hailstorm of ‘Waves’, when Dulli hits the seam he’s clearly aiming for, the results are worthwhile. Enjoyable flourishes such as the Hendrixy guitar break in ‘On The Corner’ add some unexpected flavour, and the honky stylings of funk-gospel elegy ‘The Beginning Of The End’ are curiously effective.
Hugh Gulland

TWISTED SISTER
CLUB DAZE – VOLUME 1 THE STUDIO SESSIONS / YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
(Armoury)
7/10 & 7/10

When Twisted Sister couldn’t find themselves a record deal in the early 80’s they decided to go it alone and release recordings themselves. The first of these single recordings were ‘I’ll Never Grow Old Now’ and ‘Under The Blade.’ These two singles are on this reissued album of the live recordings of these songs. It was these songs that pushed Twisted Sister to play over 50 bars with attendance ranging from 800-5000 all without a record deal. This album shows how they managed to do this with their own blend of arena heavy metal that made Twisted Sister a force to be reckoned with. ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is another re-issue, this time of their 1983 second studio album. Filled with arena-filling anthems, it’s hard to argue with.
Ian McCreery


UK SUBS

WORK IN PROGRESS

(Captain Oi!)
Original punk heroes return with a spanking new feel.
8/10

Why hasn’t Charlie Harper been knighted yet? Irrefutably a prime pioneer of the first wave of punk, the Subs’ new album, ‘Work In Progress’, confirms the rock ‘n’ roll veteran isn’t slowing down anytime soon. ‘WIP’ brings in tides of an oxymoron that works: fresh, old school punk rock. The band, now on letter W in their alphabet of albums and the original Subs vibes stand strong, reminiscent in places of classics like 1980’s ‘Brand New Age’. The album, crashing into life with ‘Creation’, is a cocktail of raw fuck-off riffs, chest-pounding drums and sing-along chanting. ‘This Chaos’, a street punk anthem co-written with Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen, and a Subs-esque take on ‘Strychnine’ by The Sonics, make this album a corker for die-hard Subs disciples and new age rockers alike.
Nina Cresswell


VARIOUS ARTISTS
LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH
(Believers Roast)
Friends and admirers of Tim Smith pay their respects to the man behind the Cardiacs.
7/10

It has been said that one Cardiacs song contains more ideas than most other musicians’ entire careers. So where do you begin when paying tribute to Tim Smith? How to capture the epic scale of his twisty but perfect tunes, all pulled together with flawless musicianship and punk rock power? On this suitably glittering album, assorted fans – Magic Numbers, Oceansize and others – celebrate Smith’s work and support his continuing treatment for the stroke he suffered in 2008. While some tread a Cardiacs-like path (Ultrasound’s jaw-dropping ‘Big Ship’), those who reimagine Smith’s self-proclaimed “lovely tunes” as orchestral ballads or traditional acoustic romps confirm most effectively that this is a man who just wants to share his world of wonder.
Mr Spencer

WINNEBAGO DEAL
CAREER SUICIDE
(Cargo)
Cranked up punk ‘n’ roll from Oxford’s finest.
9/10

I first encountered Winnebago Deal back in 2002 when I booked them to support Jesse James in Bath on the strength of a raw but impressive demo. Having blown the roof off the building and the headliners off the stage, they remain to this day one of the loudest bands I have ever seen. Eight years on and they’re still dong the business. ‘Career Suicide’ is their third full-length and they’ve not messed with their tried and tested Black Flag meets Black Sabbath formula except to vary the pace and add a little more melody. From the opening sucker punch of ‘Heart Attack In My Head’ through a blistering ‘Ain’t No Salvation’ to ‘Can’t See, Don’t Care, Don’t Know’, it’s just blistering rock ‘n’ roll with no filler.
Lee Cotterell

WIRE
RED BARKED TREE
Pinkflag
Atmospheric new offering from the giants of art punk.
8/10

Currently operating as a slimmed-down trio comprising long-term members Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey, Wire’s long and rich musical odyssey continues with this latest outing, a beguiling delve through their unique artistic vision. Never a group to settle for handed-down rock clichés, Wire’s questing nature continues to bare fruit, and while ‘Red Barked Tree’ remains identifiably Wire throughout – ‘Clay’, for instance, wouldn’t sound out of place on any of their earlier albums – the material here pushes in diverse directions. There’s the stop-start rhythmic jolts of ‘Now Was’, the understated atmospherics of ‘Please Take’, the metronomic two-chord mantra of ‘Two Minutes’, the Stooge-esque kinetics of ‘Smash’, and the lush dream-pop landscapes of ‘Adapt’. As intriguing and enigmatic as ever, Wire’s meshing of
pop, noise and art is an ongoing inspiration.
Hugh Gulland


WITCHDOKTORS

$3 HOOKER

(Tribal Vibes)
Cheap and dirty gothabilly from South London grease quartet.
7/10

Though their voodoo rock ‘n’ rollin’ rhythms may not have yet penetrated all four corners of the country, the Witchdoktors have been mainstays of the London underground scene for close to a decade and ‘$3 Hooker’ marks their newest in a long line of bone-shaking releases. Steady paced and merging ’60s garage sounds and surf with the standard revved up rockabilly, the album arguably lacks the speed of your average wrecking release, but its spooky ambiance will have you spellbound in seconds. Prime listening for fans of the likes of Vince Ray or even The Fleshtones, the Witchdoktors are trashy, twiddly and a little bit terrifying. Get listening to this hypnotic graveyard boogie because the Witchdoktords like ’em cheap and undead.
Tom Williams
 

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NEW ALBUM REVIEWS

BEANS ON TOAST
WRITING ON THE WALL
(Xtra Mile)
Festival favourite with 30 minutes of folk tinged observation.
3/5
If this wasn’t recorded live then it’s made to sound as if it is and that would be a bit pointless, anyway. I have seen this fella a few times at festivals and he is always great in that environment, with songs about drugs and flipping the bird to the system. I wasn’t sure how it was going to translate for sober entertainment, I feared the worst after the first two, dare I say, morose songs but things kick off after that with Beans’ distinctive voice lending itself well to the folk backing. Standout tracks are about methadone, grunge and country. You can’t go wrong with that.
Simon Nott

BLOODATTACK
ROTTEN LEADERS
(Bastardized)
Who knew cannibals could make music?
3/5
Many bands now have a gimmick, but acting like they’re cannibals is extreme. Welcome to the weird world of Bloodattack, who combine insane brutal metal riffs with a hardcore punk element. If you can get past the silly gimmick the music the band produce is an onslaught of the ears, with a mix of pure noise and intelligent music. If this nine track record was a straight hardcore record I think it would work a lot better, but the rough vocals and metal riffs somehow don’t mix as well. If you are looking to listen to something a bit light-hearted then Bloodattack is ideal for you. Who knows, cannibal metal could be the way forward…
Tim Birkbeck

CALL OFF THE SEARCH
WHAT DOESN’T KILL US
(Engineer)
Anthemic UK pop punks with new EP.
4/5
Hailing from Canterbury, it’s obvious that this young quartet have grown up listening to bands like New Found Glory, Four Year Strong, The Get Up Kids and Fall Out Boy. With bouncing, crunching guitars adding a hardcore-esque flavour to their pop punk melodies on the uplifting ‘Train Yourself To Drive In Colour’ (which you can hear on this issue’s free covermount CD) and the catchy ‘Second Best’ and ‘Angels Today’. There are a lot of bands doing this kind of sound at the moment but few that inject it with an emotional centre as raw and honest as Call Off The Search. This release won’t kill them, it will make them stronger…
Rachel Owen

CONDITION: DEAD
FAMOUS FOR FUCK ALL
No frills hooky street punk featuring knife crime, hoodies and Motorhead-style cannibalism.
4/5
With the sudden emergence of a swarm of –core bands it would be easy to think that straightforward punk has been lost in a sea of fringes and v-neck t-shirts. Condition: DEAD are here to prove that wrong. They’re all about stripped-back punk, and with former S.O.R.B and Refuse/All vocalist Al Symers at the helm, it’s no surprise. ‘Famous For Fuck All’ has political statements on war, crime and David Cameron, breakneck beats and driving distorted bass and good straightforward punk rock. If you’re after some real, old school punk, then this is the record for you.
Rob Barker

DANGER!MAN
THE BLAME GAME
(Boss Tuneage)
Catchy Norwegian punk rock.
4/5
Members of Danger!Man are veterans of the Norwegian punk scene (having played in Life But How To  Live It and So Much Hate) and ‘The Blame Game’ sounds great for a debut. Singer St. Faen has an appealing voice that’s as rough as sandpaper, how Nikola Sarcevic would sound if he started drinking gallons of whisky and smoking 40 fags a day. ‘The Blame Game’ is full of 12 rough and ready melodic punk rock songs that they blast through in 25 minutes. The speed and short running time of the album definitely works in their favour and they manage to pack a lot of wallop and catchy choruses in.
Paul Hagen

THE DESTRUCTORS
HELLOWEEN
(Rowdy Farrago)
Peterborough punks get spooky!
4/5
Having reformed in 2005, scuzzy garage punk veterans the Destructors have been occasionally dipping into horror songs for a while but this year they decided to unleash an album of horror punk anthems on Halloween. Although they seem to release an EP every other week, this material seems a cut (or should that be slash to the throat) above, with ten storming new original tracks and covers of the Dead Kennedys (‘Helloween’), the Ramones (‘Pinhead’) and the Misfits (‘All Hell Breaks Loose’) that hold their own. They’re hinting that there may be more horror to come so hide behind your sofas and turn the volume up, the Destructors are a scream.
John Damon

FRANK TURNER
ROCK & ROLL
(Xtra Mile)
Folk punk hero tops off an amazing year with a storming EP.
4/5
Frank Turner has had his best year yet and this five-track EP to accompany his UK tour seems like a fitting way to bring it to a close. Opener ‘I Still Believe’ is already a live favourite with call outs to the likes of Elvis, The Undertones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and the power of rock ‘n’ roll, accompanied by backing gang vocals from festival crowds. The other four exclusive tracks, from the folk of ‘Pass It Along’, the intimate ‘Rock & Roll Romance’ and ‘The Next Round’ to the anthemic melodic rocker ‘To Absent Friend’, shine with variety and sheer talent.
Ian Chaddock

GERIATRIC UNIT
AUDIT OF ENEMIES
(Boss Tuneage)
Quality UK hardcore from Heresy/Hard To Swallow/Iron Monkey alumni.
4/5
It’s refreshing to come across a hardcore band that lambasts machismo – as Geriatric Unit do on ‘Conundrum Alpha Male’ – rather than embodying it. Which makes you think that they’re probably really nice blokes; although, after listening to ‘Audit Of Enemies’ you wouldn’t want to cross them. Quite simply, this is 30-odd minutes of fast, focused, furious British hardcore punk, with a suitably raw production job, and not a single chugging breakdown in sight (thank fuck). These guys are no spring chickens, but they’re tight as hell, and as vocalist Gords takes aim at greedy promoters (‘Pay To Play’), middle-aged rage has never sounded so compelling.
Alex Gosman

THE GODFATHERS
SHOT LIVE AT THE 100 CLUB
(Secret)
Reformed rock ‘n’ roll gangsters tear it up live.
5/5
On 17th June this year a reformed and revamped Godfathers celebrated their 25th anniversary by playing the legendary 100 Club and this is a recording of that momentous occasion. It’s admittedly not the classic line-up that recorded their mid-‘80s hits (ex-Sid Presley Experience guitarist Del Bartle and drummer Grant Nicholas on board) but the Coyne brothers’ legacy is in safe hands. There’s the essentials, including ‘Cause I said So’, ‘Love Is Dead’ and ‘Lonely Man’ along with Sid Presley gems (‘Hup, 2, 3, 4’ , Public Enemy No.1) and covers of ‘Brand New Cadillac’ and ‘Cold Turkey’. This also comes with a DVD of the gig as a bonus.
Lee Cotterell

GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS
SONGS FROM THE BUNKER
(Cider City)
Norwegian Celt punks with a bit of a Pogues influence.
3/5
According to the band, the name Greenland Whalefishers has nothing to do with actual whale hunting. It would appear, however, it’s got everything to do with the traditional song of the same name on the first Pogues album. Singer Arvid Grov may hail from Bergen but he sounds scarily like Shane MacGowan at the height of his powers. There are a lot of Pogues influenced bands out there but none sound as much like the originals as these guys and the songs that don’t sound like Shane’s other band the Popes. Fortunately, they’ve got enough decent tunes to elevate them above tribute band status.
Lee Cotterell

HANG THE BASTARD
HELLFIRE REIGN
(Holy Roar)
5/5
With three years of intensive touring, a fantastic demo EP and two top-notch 7”s, Hang The Bastard have already built up a reputation as a band to look out for. This debut album confirms that they’re one of the finest noisemongers the UK has to offer. In just 36 minutes, HTB rampage through an awesome mix of doom, stoner and metallic hardcore that suggests a love of Integrity and Eyehategod. But, it also sees them inject barnstorming numbers like ‘The Blackest Eyes’ and ‘Snake Charmer’ with the kind of energy and raw anger that you can only really get from a band that’s still hungry to prove themselves. With ‘Hellfire Reign’, HTB certainly succeed in that aim.
Nick Mann

THE LUCKY ONES
THE BOOZE SESSIONS
(Stumble)
The Canadian Oi! boys’ homage to homebrew.
4/5
In addition to managing a record label and fronting its flagship band Sick Boys, Canadian punk pisshead Steve Stumble is clearly in dire need of a detox centre, a factor exemplified in his side-project’s recent release ‘The Booze Sessions’. Though reputedly recorded while the singer was a good 10ft under the influence, the ten track testament to ‘getting tanked’ is actually a pretty decent punk record, reminiscent of early Black Flag, Cock Sparrer and The Business.  Expect fast chords, beer-brawlin’ lyrics and loutish vocals; everything you need from a good Oi! band bar the Cockney postcode. Call it irresponsible, call it immature  – it’s still a good album to tie one down to.
Tom Williams

MAKE DO AND MEND
END MEASURED MILE
(Paper + Plastick)
Connecticut infectious raw punks’ debut full-length.
4/5
After making a name for themselves from EP releases and live shows, Make Do And Mend have proved that they can do it over a full album. From the dynamic opener ‘Unknowingly Strong’ and strong follow-up of ‘Oak Square’ through the emotional yet powerful ‘Stand/Stagger’ and the explosive finale of ‘Night Is The Only Time Of Day’, this is an album that draws on a similar honest lyricism and gruff vocal delivery as greats like Hot Water Music and Samiam, with the added anthemic nature of the Bouncing Souls. Overall, it’s an album that goes the extra mile to prove that they mean every raw-vocalled word.
Rachel Owen

MAMA ROSIN
BLACK ROBERT
(Gutfeeling)
Acoustic voodoo tunes from this celebrated Swiss trio.
4/5
Certainly one for those with an eclectic ear, this soon-to-be breakthrough album from Swiss experimentalists Mama Rosin marks another fantastic step for roots music in the modern era. Fusing folk punk with dirty Cajun blues ripped straight from the bayou’s edge, the fiery three-piece, who were recently spotlighted on the BBC’s ‘Later With Jools Holland’, utilize a variety of traditional instrument, including the melodeon and washboard. Despite their 21st century Genevan local, they’re drenched in ‘20s Louisiana flair. Featuring singing in alternating French and English, this third album is a smoky mishmash of soulful tunes and voodoo rhythms. It’s sure to find favour with fans of forgotten genres.
Tom Williams

MOTORHEAD
THE WORLD IS YOURS
(Motorhead Music/EMI)
Lemmy still rocks harder than most on 20th studio album.
3/5
What more can you say about Lemmy and Motorhead? Celebrating 35 years and back on the road with his biopic soon to be released, the man puts the Rock in rock n roll like no one else can or ever will. And on their 20th studio album its business as usual and Lemmy is in as fine a voice as ever. There’s not a lot here that is different from previous Motorhead albums but just like the Ramones  pretty much kept to their trademark sound through their entire career, I guess if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. They have moved away from Ironfist era ‘Head and some things have slowed down and have a more rock ‘n’ roll flavour. Tracks like ‘Devils In My Head’ almost hark back to ‘Another Perfect Day’ era Motorhead. On ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Music’ Lemmy requests that “Rock ‘n’ roll saves his soul”, but Lemmy’s soul ain’t going nowhere except the next tour bus. Pass the JD and play it loud.
John Damon

MOTORJESUS
WHEELS OF PURGATORY
(Drakkar)
Gasoline, god and Germans.
2/5
If you’re picking a band name it’s important to tick two boxes, first the name should sum up your sound, and secondly, it shouldn’t be terrible. At least Motorjesus got the first part right. Hailing from Germany, the band formerly known as the Shitheadz have now taken on a different guise, writing about cars and God, with the overall effect of coming across like Creed reworking Metallica’s ‘Fuel’, using Disturbed’s David Draiman as a vocal influence. While the music is standard fare, the band’s lyrics drag the whole album down, although some, such as “I know the Lord is an 8 foot killing machine” are almost funny enough to provide some light entertainment.
Rob Barker

NEW MODEL ARMY
30TH ANNIVERSARY BOXSET
(Attack Attack)
Mammoth collection from Bradford punk/rock legends.
4/5
Formed by Justin Sullivan in Bradford way back in 1980, NMA are a British rock institution who should be heralded for their staunch independence, staying power and 13 albums of impassioned punk, rock and folk. With more than 200 songs in their arsenal and time spent in the charts and on EMI records, the last few years have been spent making superb albums like last years; ‘Today Is A Good Day’ and reclaiming their back catalogue. Now celebrating 30 years of politically inspired anthems like ‘Vengence’ and ‘Christian Militia’, this boxset includes 3 DVD’s, concert footage, bootlegs, an 80 page photo book,art prints, puzzle and logo stencils. A fans dream (and they have plenty of them), NMA are a national treasure, and after all they wrote ‘Green and Grey’, one of the finest songs this country has ever produced. Gold dust.
Eugene Big Cheese.

OLD 97S
THE GRAND THEATRE VOLUME 1
(New West)
Contemporary country rock from Dallas, Texas.
3/5
Alongside the likes of Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo, this Dallas four-piece blazed the trail for the alternative country movement in the mid 1990s, and, while they may not have made the same inroads this side of the pond as some of their contemporaries, they’ve built a solid reputation for themselves and are currently onto album number eight. For the most part, ‘Grand Theatre’ exhibits a tendency towards lively country-influenced rock; pleasant enough, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. When Old 97s tap into country’s dark vein of inspiration (‘Born To Be In Battle’, ‘Let The Whiskey Take The Rein’) they’re on a whole other level.
Hugh Gulland

P. PAUL FENECH
INTERNATIONAL SUPER BASTARD
(People Like You)
Hellish psychobilly king with another solo offering.
4/5
Meteors founder P. Paul Fenech knows how to pen a low down psychbilly track and ‘International Super Bastard’ is another solo album teeming with them. Fenech’s growled, distinctive vocals make these songs (as they always do), with a larynx-shredding style that’s all his own. From the opening title track to the ‘Dead Man’s Road’ and the closing ‘Fuck Em All (God Save The Kings)’, he’s full of bile and undead charm. A true psychobilly legend, it’s another grave robbin’, foot stompin’, Devil dancin’ ho down. Fuck you Fenech!
John Damon

ROBB BLAKE/LIAM O’KANE
HEAVYWEIGHT ACOUSTIC SHOWDOWN
(Do The Dog)
Acoustic ska double bill.
3/5
Acoustic ska might not seem the most natural of musical genres but Do the Dog have brought together two of the UK’s leading figures in Robb Blake and Jimmy the Squirrel frontman Liam O’Kane for a decent enough split album. Ex-Whitmore singer Blake kicks things off with five songs of smooth reggae and ska grooves in a Chris Murray style. O’Kane’s contribution is five new songs, none of which appear on Jimmy the Squirrel’s recent fine debut album. The splendidly titled ‘Breaking The Habit Of A Lunchtime’ is full of guilty vices, whilst the closing ‘Coming Back for More’ highlights O’Kane’s strength as a songwriter who is not limited within the ska scene.
Andy Peart

SHORES
COUP DE GRACE
(No Idea)
Shoegazer rock from Michigan.
3/5
Featuring the former drummer of gruff punks North Lincoln, this band from Grand Rapids is a world away from his last band, with slow, distorted shoegazer indie rock songs, clean vocals and songs that shuffle past the five minute mark. The likes of opener ‘Meanwhile’ and the shimmering ‘One Palm Sunday’ are slow, emotional and powerful in their subtlety. Channelling the likes of Codeine, Slowdive and Red House Painters, this is a haunting and heartfelt album that is dark and wintry but not depressing. It shows strong musicianship and, while its not particularly to my taste, it’s sure to find favour with fans of the genre.
Rachel Owen

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
NO MERCY FOOL! / SUICIDAL FAMILY
(Suicidal)
Suicidal rehash some of their old school jams.
3/5
Suicidal Tendencies’ recent visits to Europe have re-established them as a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. Mike Muir and long-time cohort Mike Clarke have assembled a top-notch batch of musicians around them but why they’ve chosen to re-record old material is a bit of a mystery. Half of this album is re-workings of their classic ‘Join The Army’ album and they’ve been tampered with a little too much, with drum fills and bass runs overcrowding ‘Suicidal Maniac’. The other half of the album however is great skate thrash, with skull-splitting renditions of Clarke’s old band No Mercy’s material. A new studio album please?
Miles Hackett

TALONS
HOLLOW REALM
(Big Scary Monsters)
Intense instrumental goodness.
4/5
The flow of Talons’ debut album is key to its beauty. Almost symphonic in its structure, the eight tracks were written as one single piece of music. The carefully paced body of work is one coherent journey of instrumental tension continually building to heady, often crunchingly discordant, climaxes and then dissolving into plateaus of peaceful calm. There is a frenetic energy present throughout, fuelled by the dual violin attack, and this band prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re capable of making quite a racket. A compelling and carefully considered racket, that is.
Sarah Maynard

VARIOUS ARTISTS
FAT MUSIC VOL. 7: HARDER, FATTER + LOUDER!
(Fat Wreck)
After eight years slim, it’s time to get Fat again!
4/5
The ‘Fat Music’ compilations helped me discover some punk bands that I loved for years (and still do in some cases) so I’m more than happy to see them return with the first ‘Fat Music’ compilation in eight years. It’s cheap and it’s got 22 tracks from Fat bands, established and new. From firm favourites such as Dillinger Four, The Lawrence Arms and Strung Out through to equally great bands like Teenage Bottlerocket, Dead To Me and None More Black and up to new additions like Old Man Markley and Cobra Skulls, this is a stormer. It’s bursting at the seams with quality punk rock.
Ian Chaddock

THE WESTFIELD MINING DISASTER
BIG IDEAS FROM SMALL PLACES
(Cider City)
Jangly pop with a social conscience.
3/5
The Westfield Mining Disaster are a Bristol based band founded by Paul Towler, who used to be in ‘80s indie band The Haywains. Musically they aren’t a massive leap forward from the Haywains, specialising as they do in jangly guitars reminiscent of bands like The Smiths and The Housemartins. They’ve got more in common with the latter as they share Paul Heaton’s knack for sneaking barbed social commentary into the most innocent sounding of melodies, with swipes at Tories and the BNP (‘Greedy Bastards, Save Our Souls’) and the prolonged effects of cuts, past and present (‘Doctor Beeching’). A rare beast, melodic pop with bite!
Lee Cotterell

WINNEBAGO DEAL
CAREER SUICIDE
(Cargo/We Deliver The Guts)
If ever there was a poorly named album it’s this one.
4/5
If you are going to cram 14 songs into 30 minutes then this is the way to do it. It’s not some sort of half-arsed ‘let’s save some money on studio times’ hash up either. There are 14 fast and furious punk rock powerhouses here, with a real garage rough and ready edge, while still sounding tight and professional. The title track is a smasher and it’s quite possibly the least prophetic album title ever. This is going to boot Winnebago Deal’s already right up there credentials into orbit.
Simon Nott

THE YALLA YALLAS
DIAMOND IN DIRT
(Strummerville)
Leeds punk ‘n’ rollers unleash second album.
3/5
With a name taken from an early Joe Strummer recording, the Mescaleros are definitely one of the most obvious influences on this five-piece, along with the likes of Social Distortion and Rancid. A step up from their first album ‘Act Of Defiance’, ‘Diamond In Dirt’ is a varied effort from these former members of The Dead Pets, 3milehigh and The Gushers, from the acoustic guitars and brass of ‘Death Shoes’ to the aggressive hardcore punk-infused ‘S.B.H.C.’. Rob Galloway’s strained vocals may divide opinion but these rousing folk and old school influenced punk tunes are straight from the heart, in true Strummerville style.
Rachel Owen

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AUGUST REVIEWS

CYANIDE PILLS
CYANIDE PILLS       
(Damaged Goods)
Effervescent pop punk party from Leeds.
4/5
A spike-domed, pogo-pop sugar rush, Cyanide Pills consolidate on their well-earned live reputation and a pair of singles with a debut album of manic, pogoing energy. A self-titled 19-track burst of day-glo punk, it draws on the more tuneful exponents of the class of ‘77, marking the band as rightful descendants of the Boys and the Ramones. For once the raw, straightforward sound has been left alone on a punk album and it’s all the better for it. An authentically trebly assemblage of leather ‘n’ drainpipe jeans rock ‘n’ roll, the Pills’ debut is all fizzing wiry guitars and nagging two-minute alarm calls of teenage alienation, which alternate between dumb/smart political rants (‘Dictator’,  ‘Conquer The World’), power-driven stormers (‘Interrogation Room’) and gawkily convincing youth-club romances (‘Only You’). Energetic and up for it, Cyanide Pills kick out a spirited Brit-punk rave-up like nobody’s business. Here’s a chord, here’s another – you know the rest.
Hugh Gulland

Also Available:
Conquer The World 7”
Suicide Bomber 7”
Break It Up 7”

ALLEGAEON
FRAGMENTS OF FORM AND FUNCTION
(Metal Blade)
These guys can really play.
4/5
There’s little doubt that Allegaeon are a supremely talented bunch of individuals. Their brand of superior melodic technical death metal features some truly outstanding performances by the band members. Guitarist Greg Burgess has spent five years as the guitar instructor at the Music Institute of Lexington. The tremendous skills that Allegaeon possess means that ‘Fragments Of Form And Function’ is a refreshingly different melodic death metal album, full of strong songwriting  and immense displays of musicianship. They also incorporate a fair amount of prog into the mix but it never feels forced or overlong. The production is a tad over-glossy but it merely serves to highlight the outstanding musical performance Allegaeon deliver.
Paul Hagen

ANGELUS APATRIDA
CLOCKWORK
(Century Media)
Intense Spanish thrash.
3/5
Angelus Apatrida were formed in rural Spain ten years ago and their two previous self-released album have helped to provide them with a sizable following in their home country. They may be a Spanish band but they sound pretty much like they’ve come straight out of the ‘80s Bay Area thrash scene. These bruisers riff hard and heavy and provide solid and sturdy thrash metal songs. ‘Clockwork’ suffers from a lack of variety yet the music on display is hard to argue with; it does exactly what you would expect. There’s also a slight NWOBHM influence on Angelus Apatrida’s third album, which is ably demonstrated on an adequate cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead.’
Paul Hagen

ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
BEFORE TODAY
(4AD)
Pop terrorist tries to paint the town…
3/5
‘Before Today’ is something of a tricky album, simply because it throws so many styles into one giant melting pot – and not always with the best results. Tackling genres as diverse as ‘60s pop, funk, soul, ska, glam and punk, it’s probably not surprising. Opener ‘Hot Body Rub’ has an uneasy jazz vibe (similar to Soul Asylum’s ‘Stranger’) – which sits uncomfortably next to the breezy pop of ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’. There’s no doubting Ariel’s talent – and on ‘Beverly Kills’ and the outstanding ‘Can’t Hear My Eyes’ he really shines – but ‘Before Today’ is just too inconsistent to be truly great.
Rob Mair

BAD RELIGION
30 YEARS LIVE
(Epitaph)
Seminal SoCal punks still slay live.
4/5
Bad Religion helped to pioneer the ‘90s Cali punk sound with a string of albums of fast, intelligent songs. Ahead of their upcoming fifteenth studio album (due in September), Greg Graffin and co. remind us why they’re still a force to be reckoned with by unleashing a 17-track live record (that you can download for free from Badreligion.com). It includes career-spanning fan favourites recorded in LA this year, such as ‘Suffer’ (on this issue’s covermount CD), ‘American Jesus’, ‘Flat Earth Society’ and many more. It’s free and it’s awesome. What are you waiting for?
Ian Chaddock

BEST COAST
CRAZY FOR YOU
(Wichita)
Californian duo with a summer soundtrack debut album.
4/5
As delightful as LA duo Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino’s string of singles released earlier this year were, you could be forgiven if you doubted whether or not their particular style – two or three minute songs mining surf rock and garage rock influences – could last for an entire album. Now that ‘Crazy For You’ has been unveiled, any doubts can be erased. Best Coast specializes in music that – much like summer – is bittersweet. You love the summer, and you’re having the time of your life, but in the back of your mind you know it’ll come to an end soon. Much like this fantastic debut.
Michael Bednar

BETTY AND THE WEREWOLVES
Teatime Favourites
(Damaged Goods)
Catchy indie/pop punk to sink your teeth into.
3/5
Fresh from the Camden Crawl, Betty and The Werewolves are three girls and a token bloke on drums from London and Cambridge playing the indiest indie music you’re ever likely to hear. If you took The Raincoats, The Slits, Kenickie, The Wedding Present and Kate Nash, shook ‘em all up in a big box marked ‘C86’ and poured ‘em all out the resulting sound would be something like Betty and the Werewolves. They’re twee as you like but in a good way, winning you over with cheeky lines like “Los Angeles is a long way from Ruislip” (‘David Cassidy’) and “you asked me if I like the Libertines, well who the fuck are they?” (‘Purple Eyes’). This music is sweet enough but thankfully not saccharine.
Lee Cotterell

BITTER END
GUILTY AS CHARGED
(Deathwish)
Everything about Bitter End screams (or shouts) hardcore.
3/5
From the raw black and white artwork, to the fact they’re signed to Deathwish, one of the most hardcore labels out there, Bitter End are clearly projecting an image of old school hardcore. Luckily their music is worthy of such an image and ‘Guilty As Charged’ is ten tracks of brutally delivered, metal-infused hardcore. They’re not claiming to be original (which is probably just as well, seeing as there is barely any fleck of originality here), but what you see is what you get. And that’s some pummelling, no-frills hardcore with enough grit and intent to be worth listening to.
Sarah Maynard

BLACK CANDY STORE
BACK TO THE WALL
(7Hard)
French rockers channel their inner circa-1990s Seattle.
3/5
Black Candy Store may hail from the south of France, but their debut album could have been recorded in Seattle. All the hallmarks of grunge are here – the angsty lyrics, the quiet-verse-loud-chorus dynamics and the crunchy guitars mixed with tender acoustic moments. Opener ‘Back To The Wall’ shows off the group’s rock side, while ‘Wounded’ is an exercise in dramatic power balladry.  There’s nothing on this album that Alice In Chains or Soundgarden haven’t done, but it’s an enjoyable enough listen and Black Candy Store are no amateurs. With a little more time hopefully the band can find their own sound.
Michael Bednar

BRUTAL DELUXE
WALL OF DAMAGE
(Chimerical)
Genre-benders return to little fanfare.
2/5
Brutal Deluxe are one of those bands that have survived despite all hardships, though most people are unaware they even exist, which is a shame, because they can obviously play, and are adept at mixing styles like a blender, without giving a damn what people think of the end product. Their new record ‘Wall Of Damage’ goes through thrash, grunge, rock, and just about everything in between, though makes no real impression. The production is too thin and quiet, and while the performances are good, there’s just no invigoration. There are merits here, sure, but for the most part, the album is turgid and boring. Maybe next time…
Bruce Turnbull

BRUTAL TRUTH
EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES
(Earache)
Re-release of genre-defining grindcore debut album.
4/5
Given Brutal Truth’s 2009 return to the fold with new album ‘Evolution Through Revolution’ after a 12 year recording hiatus, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that former label Earache have decided to re-release their 1992 debut. It may be 18 long years since this album first hit, but it’s brutality and chaotic intensity is still peerless, with the rampaging aggression of ‘Time’ and ‘Denial Of Existence’. It’s still obvious just why they remain a guiding light of the grindcore genre. The inclusion of a bonus CD and DVD just helps to make this even more of an essential package for any fan of extreme metal.
Nick Mann

BUTCH WALKER AND THE BLACK WIDOWS
I LIKED IT BETTER WHEN YOU HAD NO HEART
(One Haven)
Butch tells it how it is.
3/5
The first thing that strikes you about this album is that it sounds like it’s had big bucks spent on it but was actually written and recorded in just five days! The big production feel comes from the orchestral swirls in places that fill this already impressive album (recorded in the famous Abbey Road studios and added due to the wonders of modern technology). Butch is an excellent lyricist that delves deeper than most into affairs of the heart and razor sharp observational cutting commentary all bundled into a very enjoyable album that is edgy despite the polish.
Simon Nott

CHRIS SHIFLETT & THE DEAD PEASANTS
CHRIS SHIFLETT & THE DEAD PEASANTS
Foo Fighters guitarist takes a trip to the country.
4/5
Let’s get one thing straight – if you’re expecting something like the Foo Fighters (or even Shiflett’s punk band Jackson United) then this isn’t going to be what you expect. The Californian six-stringer embarks on a hazy drive down a roots/country road for this solo record, with nine tracks that clearly take influence from the likes of Johnny Cash, The Replacements and Eddie Cochran. From the uplifting ‘Get Along’ to the country swing of ‘Death March’ and the mandolin-infused ‘Bandaged’, this journey into Americana is a heartfelt and summery experience.
Rachel Owen

COMEBACK KID
SYMPTOMS AND CURES
(Victory)
All the best elements of Comeback Kid over the years rolled into one killer album.
5/5
Comeback Kid have gone through their fair share of changes over the years, not least vocalist Scott Wade leaving the band following fan favourite ‘Wake The Dead’ and guitarist Andrew Neufeld stepping in on vocals. 2007’s ‘Broadcasting…’ showcased Neufeld’s more versatile vocal stylings but with ‘Symptoms And Cures’, he’s now more comfortable as the voice of the band. The result is a blistering, fast-paced record that incorporates the depth of sound that CBK have learnt to craft with the straight-up hardcore sensibilities on which their band was first built. Gang vocals, passionate melodies, searing guitar riffs. What more could you want?
Sarah Maynard

DARKER MY LOVE
ALIVE AS YOU ARE
(Dangerbird)
Latest album evokes spirit of ‘60s/‘70s rock ’n’ roll.
3/5
Recorded at San Francisco’s legendary Hyde Street Studios, it’s no surprise that Darker My Love’s third album draw on the sound of psychedelic California rock circa Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds, as well as the Beatles and Dylan. They strip away the fuzz and distortion heard on their previous records to show us a more vulnerable side. Intricately arranged and emotionally heavy, standouts include ‘18th Street Shuffle’, a groovy, grungy track with synth and the clavinet, and ‘Rain Party’, a captivating song with Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor’s haunting vocals blending beautifully with singer Tim Presley. Raw and exposed, Darker My Love give us their strongest album to date.
Caitlin Peterkin

THE DEEP EYNDE
SPELL*BOUND
(Fiendforce)
Brooding goth rock.
3/5
Hollywood band The Deep Eynde have a nice line in subdued goth songs and this album is certainly an atmospheric listen. Singer Fate Fatal has a distinctly melancholic delivery and, while in no means a miserable album, ‘Spell*Bound’ has a nicely gloomy sound to it. There are a few strong tracks on here but the album as a whole gets dragged down by a distinct lack of energy. Over the course of its 15 tracks, the pace rarely increases past second gear. But I guess that’s the point. As far as goth albums go, it’s perfectly passable but it’s unlikely to have too much appeal beyond The Deep Eynde’s current fan base.
Paul Hagen

THE DESTINY PROGRAM
GATHAS
(Bastardized)
Fourth outing from the melo-metalcore stalwarts.
3/5
Certainly more uplifting than most of their contemporaries, German metallers The Destiny Program follow up their lauded 2007 release ‘Subversive Blueprint’ with the equally as captivating ‘Gathas’, an album that sits somewhere between Poison The Well, Cult Of Luna, and Sonic Syndicate. A potpourri of harsh to clean vocals, melodic guitar leads, and atmospheric synths, tracks like ‘Avesta’ find the band in full creative swing, raising melancholic atmospheres from their tortured manifestos. The melody in their sound comes from the instrumentation, although there are a couple of good hooks. Still, there is nothing here to surprise or inspire.
Bruce Turnbull

THE DESTRUCTORS/THE BLACK MARIAS
ZENGUKEREN
(Rowdy Farrago)
Peterborough punk times two.
3/5
Paving the way for their ‘Dead Beat To White Heat’ full-length (which hits shelves this August), old school scuzz punks The Destructors return with another knuckle-happy split EP to add to the rap sheet, this time sharing the play time their hometown compadres The Black Marias. A rambunctious release as per usual with Oi boys the Mariah’s adding a more melodic, early Rancid-esque quality to the mix; the 7 songs featured are brash, opinionated and include a brutish Dead Boys cover and spanking new tracks for both bands.  A definite pick-up for fans of the D boys or of street punk in general. 
Tom Williams

DEVO
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY
(Warners)
Welcome comeback album from the idiosyncratic new wavers.
5/5
A bit of an occasion this one: ‘Something For Everybody’ is Devo’s first album in two decades, and the first album on which the Ohio conceptualists have given outside parties any kind of free rein on the production. However, the jittery electronic rhythms, funny/smart lyrical twists and jerky stop-start pulses all spell classic Devo, while the input of a cast of well-picked collaborators steers the music well clear of retread territory. ‘What We Do’, ‘March On’ and the hilarious ‘Don’t Shoot, I’m A Man’ are worthy additions to the Devo repertoire, sparking with weird mechanical energy and incisive verbal satire, further proof, should you need convincing, that De-Evolution is upon us.
Hugh Gulland

DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS
DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS
(The End)
Debut release from the brainchild of Slipknot’s bin banger.
4/5
Dirty Little Rabbits, the creation of Slipknot’s Shawn (Clown) Crahan has seen him take a daring departure from his day job. Their stripped back self-titled debut is an amalgamation of gutsy female vocals from mid-‘90s starlet Stella K, spiralling organs and channelling guitars. From the effortlessly graceful ‘Hello’ to the claustrophobic ‘Professional Hit’, it’s an accomplished release. Anyone hoping for a Slipknot-esque sound will be sorely disappointed – this is a completely different story. Dirty Little Rabbits’ music speaks for itself. This debut has been seven years in the making, yet good things come to those who wait.
Ben Connell

DIRTY SWEET
AMERICAN SPIRITUAL
(Acetate)
As classic rock as you can get.
3/5
Dirty Sweet’s follow-up to 2007’s ‘Of Monarchs And Beggars’ sees them expand further on their classic American rock sound, taking in ballads, blues and country. It’s an exceptionally polished album and the band are clearly excellent musicians. Sprinkled throughout the album are a number of catchy, hard-hitting songs, such as opening track ‘Rest Sniper, Rest.’ The trouble is that these moments are too infrequent and means that the album occasionally becomes ponderous and, to a certain extent, a bit dull. It would have been nice if they’d kept their foot on the accelerator a bit more. Still, Dirty Sweet are probably one of better current day exponents of classic rock.
Paul Hagen

THE DISSOCIATES
WAITING FOR THE BACKLASH
(Tap-Ass)
Tight post-punk EP from talented London boys.
4/5
It’s rare that you hear a band that’s so unmistakeably English and also so clearly influenced by the US post-punk and post-hardcore scenes from over the years. They tackle subjects such as urban decay and politics on the likes of ‘Welcome To London’ and ‘On The Motorway’. The punked up ‘Left Of Centre’ shows their more aggressive side whereas the choppy ‘Under Heavy Manners’ is a retro, fuzzy garage rocker. If you like bands such as Fugazi, Mission To Burma and The International Noise Conspiracy then this six-track EP needs to be listened to. You can download it for free too so hit up their site and discover a band still pushing forwards.
Rachel Owen
 
DRAGSTER
Here Come The Meat Robots
(STP)
Another shot of low-down dirty punk ‘n’ roll anyone?
4/5
Coventry’s finest exponents of sleazy punk ‘n’ roll finally deliver the follow up to their 2006 debut and it’s well worth the wait. A change of rhythm section hasn’t affected their sound much; they’re still channelling Motorhead and Mudhoney through a garage punk filter and vocalist Fi still snarls her words with that ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. It’s good to hear live favourites like ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and ‘Kill Voodoo Kill’ captured in a studio at last but it’s not all monsters and serial killers, mind you. They take a break from their customary Sci-Fi/Horror/B-Movie fixation to get ‘Drunk’, have a pop at a ‘Weekend Punk’ and stray into Dead Kennedys territory on the title track.  A bourbon soaked work of art.
Lee Cotterell

EMAROSA
EMAROSA
(Rise)
A near perfect release from a band about to hit the big time.
5/5
You get the impression that Kentucky’s Emarosa are on the cusp of something great, and their eagerly anticipated second album could be the one that launches them into the big league. Having released their 2008 debut ‘Relativity’ to mixed responses, the band know that album two could make or break them. Luckily for them, it should be the former. Jonny Craig’s vocals are what really set Emarosa apart – unique, effortless and intense. The aptly named opener ‘A Toast To The Future Kids!’ is nothing short of perfection, and the remaining nine tracks pave the way for a very bright future, indeed.
Ben Connell

END OF A YEAR
YOU ARE BENEATH ME
(Deathwish)
The most intelligent hardcore album in years?
4/5
Sitting on the edge of a genre as constrained as hardcore, End Of A Year have done something pretty special in making an album that might appeal to more indie kids than it would hardcore aficionados. Measured, intelligent and beautifully-crafted – but still edgy and aggressive – ‘You Are Beneath Me’ is a triumph of musical accomplishment. Sounding something like a cross between The Hold Steady, Bane and Christiansen, this NY-based group combine raw emotion and proficient technicality to great effect. Throw in killer lyrics (spoken-word opener ‘Composite Characters’ is almost poetic) and it’s easy to see why End Of A Year are garnering high praise.
Rob Mair 

EVERYONE EVERYWHERE
EVERYONE EVERYWHERE
(Tiny Engines)
Flawed debut shows much promise.
3/5
Everyone Everywhere may be from Philadelphia, but their songs make them sound as if they were straight out of California. The album brings to mind lazy, aimless August afternoons, when life is still moving slowly but the reality of responsibility is hovering in the back of the mind. The lyrics are hazily sung and at times indecipherable, and the songs sound clean and sharp without being overproduced.  Everyone Everywhere are technically excellent musicians, but the songs sound dangerously similar to each other. At times, it seems the band is trying a little too hard to deviate from the typical pop song structure, but with a little work the band could get it right.
Michael Bednar

EXIT INTERNATIONAL
SEX W/ STRANGERS
(Undergroove)
The doubled bass assault amplifies the intensity of the rock.
3/5
Two bassists and a drummer fuel this band. Strange huh? But they manage to flesh out their sound with all sorts of beats and ‘toys’. Essentially, the bass-heavy trio come up with gritty rock, enthused with yelps in all the right places and promising decimating live performances. This EP is four tracks of potentially crushing material that begs to be experienced in a live setting but is also a fun rock ‘n’ roll experience in its own right. Aptly titled ‘Sex W/ Strangers’, you’ll feel a bit like you’ve done something naughty with someone you knew nothing about after listening to it.
Sarah Maynard

THE FALLTHROUGH
AS THE DAY BREAKS
(Lockjaw)
Debut mini-album from Brighton punks.
3/5
Influenced by the likes of the Bouncing Souls and Strike Anywhere, this four-piece’s first release of 2010 is a fun and exuberant listen. Consisting of former members of Once Over, Ragweek and A Man Down, they’ve certainly paid their dues and toured all over the world off their own backs last year. This love of life and determination shines through on anthemic melodic punk tunes such as ‘Easy To Forget’ and the EpiFat-esque blitz of ‘Life In Red’. If you like your punk fast and melodic then you need to check out this mini-album.
Rachel Owen

FOR ALL THOSE SLEEPING
CROSS YOUR FINGERS
(Fearless)
For fans of A Day To Remember…
4/5
‘Cross Your Fingers’ is the debut album from Minnesota five-piece For All Those Sleeping. They combine pop punk with hardcore, and it sounds awfully similar to A Day To Remember. The beginning of ‘The Midnight Society’ is almost identical to ADTR’s winning combination of hardcore beatdowns and sunny pop punk. But nevertheless, the songs are great in the main, and ‘Outbreak Of Heartache’ and ‘If I Wanted Your Two Cents I’d Rob You’ are highlights. They’re outrageously catchy and undeniably enjoyable, so despite their unoriginality, they are still very much worth checking out.
Lais Martins Waring

FORLORN
THE ROTTING
(Rising)
Dark British metal from Birmingham newcomers.
3/5
Kicking off with a riff that could have graced ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ is a good start for West Midlands quartet Forlorn, a band that flirt with early death metal in the Death and Autopsy vein, but also keep things modern with a touch of metalcore in their instrumental breakdowns (and the occasional growl). Essentially, the band’s fibrous debut ‘The Rotting’ is a classy affair, full of thick, nasty riffs and headbanging double-kicks. Production is clear, illuminating all aspects, and the song writing is of a particularly high standard, keeping the listener on their toes. With this amount of potential, album number two could be a real eye-opener.
Bruce Turnbull

FRENZY
IN THE BLOOD
(People Like You)
UK psychobilly veterans unearth something special.
4/5
This is the album that Frenzy have always wanted to make, in fact they had already made it before PLY snapped them up. Their heritage is steeped in psychobilly but they have always pushed the boundaries, too far for fans on some occasions, but times have changed. The basic running gears of psychobilly are there – double bass driven as in the past – but their lyrics go far deeper than the genre is associated with. They do allow a little escapism to creep in with out-and-out rocker ‘Johnny Rocket’. Frenzy rock like crazy here and capture their live energy. Check out ‘Hero’ on this month’s BC covermount CD.
Simon Nott

GENTLEMEN OF DISTORTED SOUND
BONE IDOL EP
(Bare Knuckle)
Meat and potatoes hard rock anyone?
2/5
Formed in 2006 by Dublin-born Gareth Nugent (yes, he IS related to Ted Nugent) this is Gentlemen of Distorted Sound’s debut EP, the result of years perfecting their line up, losing a drummer to Uriah Heep along the way and honing their sound. We’re talking highly polished hard rock, the kind you hear in sweaty bars all over the world on any given Saturday night. Things kick off with ‘Electric’ which could be an outtake from The Cult’s late Eighties output followed by ‘Beautiful Face for Evil’. ‘No Gods’ has a hint of ‘Kashmir’, followed by a cover of ZZ Top’s ‘La Grange’ all topped off with the grunge lite of ‘Breathe’. If all this sounds like your bag, by all means knock yourself out.
Lee Cotterell

GIRL IN A COMA
TRIO B.C.
(Blackheart)
Pleasing all-girl pop punk.
3/5
This female trio from San Antonio, Texas comprise of sisters Nina and Phanie (careful, you innuendo fans) Diaz, on vocals/guitar and drums respectively, with bassist Jenn Alva, and were apparently named after the Smiths song ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’. Hell, they’ve even done tour support for His Miserableness. So, if you add in the fact that they’re on the delectable Joan Jett’s label, these ladies would seem to be in a good place. Nina’s voice has an endearingly eccentric warble to it, and though this second album has straightforward punk tracks like ‘Slaughter Lane’, the band are strongest with strident, complex pop songs like ‘In The Day’.
Shane Baldwin

GOOD RIDDANCE
CAPRICORN ONE
(Fat Wreck)
Californian melodic hardcore punks’ singles and rarities.
3/5
Having split in 2007 after 16 years together, Good Riddance were always underrated and their driving melodic hardcore was ahead of its time. This 21-track collection combines their singles, split songs and six previously unreleased tracks, as well as a commentary about each song by vocalist Russ Rankin. There’s not a bad track on here (and there’s definitely a few belters, such as ‘Always’ and ‘Stand’), making this a decent release to either complete your GR collection or discover their much missed brilliance for the first time.
Ian Chaddock

GOO GOO DOLLS
SOMETHING FOR THE REST OF US
(Warner)
Stadium rockers return with another collection of anthems…
3/5
Nine albums into their stellar career, John Rzeznik and co. have little reason to change a formula that has already brought them countless awards and sold squillions of records. And indeed, they stick close to their winning recipe here. Heartfelt but never cloying, honest but never passionate and bombastic rather than explosive, ‘Something…’ is what you’d expect from a band now well-entrenched in the psyche of Middle America. That’s not to say it’s bad, just safe. ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘Home’ are uplifting and inspiring, and its testament to their songwriting skills that this tried and trusted sound is still interesting and appealing.
Rob Mair  

HAWKWIND
BLOOD OF THE EARTH
(Eastworld)
Interstellar trance-rock from the hippie veterans.
3/5
‘Are they still going?’ was a question reviewers were probably asking of the Hawks 25 years ago, and while line-ups have come and gone – they famously once included a pre-Motorhead Lemmy in their ranks – Hawkwind plough inexorably on. Long time ambassadors of hippie-squat anti-authoritarianism, Dave Brock and co. continue their lifelong hard-riffing space-rock mission. Electronic swoops and squawks battle it out with warp-drive guitar and drums, with occasional ambient interludes. It may all add up to a themed sci-fi opera of some description, but it does sound exactly and reassuringly like Hawkwind, and that‘s no bad thing. Time just doesn’t seem to exist for them.
Hugh Gulland

HELLYEAH
STAMPEDE
(Spinefarm)
Ex-Pantera sticksman’s new band’s second album.
3/5
Featuring members of Pantera, Mudvayne and Nothingface, Hellyeah are somewhat of a metal supergroup. Sadly the Texas quintet’s self-titled 2007 debut fell a bit flat but this sophomore album shows a marked improvement in songwriting, with the likes of Southern riff lickin’ opener ‘Cowboy Way’ and strip joint anthem in waiting ‘Pole Rider’ (“She’s not built for comfort/She’s built for speed”) both hitting the mark. Unfortunately the second half drags and becomes a little repetitive but, while it’s not yet a stampede, this could be the start of the charge.
John Damon

HORSEBACK
THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN
(Relapse)
North Carolina stoner rockers second album re-released.
3/5
With the third Horseback album on the way, brainchild Jenks Miller sees his sophomore effort re-issued through new label Relapse. It’s a welcome re-release too, as this psychedelic stoner journey is one that should be taken by more metallers looking for something a bit more intelligent than knuckle-dragging chug-fests. Heavy as fuck and with a sludgy intensity, it’s the sound of Miller battling his demons and one that fans of the likes of Neurosis will certainly enjoy. Roll on album number three, I for one can’t wait to hear more of Miller’s weird and wonderful work.
John Damon

INDICA
A WAY AWAY
(Nuclear Blast)
Finnish band’s latest release full of quirkiness and oddity.
3/5
This album’s cover art depicts the band standing in a forest and it sounds like that’s where this band wrote this ‘A Way Away’. Some listeners may be put off by how whimsical the whole thing is – with swelling strings, bells, odd wind instruments, lyrics that sound ripped from a diary and references to Guinevere and Sylvia Plath in the same song – but there’s no denying that Indica know how to craft a great pop tune. They sound like they’re having a great time and their infectious energy makes up for some of the album’s more over-the-top moments.
Michael Bednar

IN THIS MOMENT
A STAR-CROSSED WASTELAND
(Century Media)
Third album from Californian female-fronted metallers.
3/5
In This Moment have enjoyed success Stateside but are sadly best known for being fronted by metal pin-up Maria Brink here in the UK. Which is a shame because here ITM combine the metalcore of their debut with the soaring melodies of their sophomore effort, resulting in a varied listen. However, the fact that this is somewhat of a Western concept album seems a little strange (considering the last record was based around ‘Alice In Wonderland’) and the likes of ‘Gunshow’ seem a little forced. However, the vicious ‘Just Drive’ and piano ballad ‘World In Flames’ shows Brink and the boys’ ability and proves they should still have their moment.
Rachel Owen

JETTBLACK
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
(Spinefarm)
Rock of the past…today!
3/5
Following a UK tour earlier this year, Jettblack unleash their collection of retro rock anthems. Heavily influenced by the likes of Skid Row and Motley Crue, and with song titles like ‘Two Hot Girls’ and ‘Mother Fucker’, you can probably guess what you’ll be getting. To be honest, it isn’t really that bad. The production is pretty slick, and there’s a healthy dose of humour in there, with lyrics like “I know she’s your sister, but I can’t pretend/When it comes to lovin’, I have no friends”. It’s a fun album, but I can’t imagine this band going further than one album with this shtick.
Tracey Lowe

JOHNNY GET THE GUN
JOHNNY GET THE GUN
(JGTG)
Debut by pop punkers shows great promise.
3/5
Essex trio Johnny Get The Gun are by no means trailblazing, but with their debut EP they prove that they’re more than capable of creating good music. While the songs nod to past artists, they’re free of the melodrama that sinks other pop punk bands. ‘All Good Things’ and ‘This Night To End’ are showcases of the band’s emotional, melodic side, while ‘You Will Be Mine’ (which you can hear on this month’s covermount CD) and ‘Give You More’ prove they can rock out too. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s in a charming way. Definitely a band to watch.
Michael Bednar

JUST SURRENDER
PHOENIX
(LAB)
Third effort by band likable enough, but nothing new.
3/5
Just Surrender believe in the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies.  This fact is obvious from their song titles: ‘Carried Away,’ ‘Burning Up,’ ‘Lose Control.’  Perhaps they thought the dramatic titles would make the album more exciting. The band’s third album, ‘Phoenix,’ is by no means a bad one, but it’s nothing the listener hasn’t heard before. Filled with catchy pop hooks, driving guitar riffs and the nasally vocals endemic in the pop punk world, the album is enjoyable enough, despite the cringeworthy lyrics.  “I’ve seen things no man should ever see,” cries the lead singer – you’d think he was singing about genocide rather than a broken heart.
Michael Bednar

THE KIRKZ
AGROCULTURE
(TNS)
Virulent punk rock booty from Cheshire East’s finest.
5/5
After a dozen years scraping the circuit, Macclesfield four-piece The Kirkz are seasoned in the financial drawbacks of the punk rock pursuit, but you can bet it hasn’t stifled their momentum, or their creativity for that matter. Marking their fifth release overall and their biggest to date, ‘Agroculture’ is a true product of the ‘Punk-O-Rama’ generation and tours a socio-politically vibrant landscape atop a punchy third wave backing. Loaded with fast, tongue-in-cheek tracks with a definite Gilman Street air and delivered with melodic satisfaction, it’s a wonder the States haven’t snapped these farmer boys up yet. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time?  
Tom Williams

LITTLE FISH
BAFFLED AND BEAT
(Custard/Universal)
‘70s New York-loving retro rock sounds from Oxford duo.
4/5
It’s obvious from boisterous, soulful and raw opener ‘Darling Dear’ that Juju Sophie (vocals/guitar) and Nez Greenaway (drums) are big fans of the cool-as-fuck female-fronted post-punk US bands. In a similar vein to Juliette Lewis And The Licks and The White Stripes, it’s a sound that harks back to a time when rock ‘n’ roll was sensual and visceral in equal measure and on the powerful ‘Bang! Bang!’ and Lou Reed-esque, piano driven ‘Sweat N Shiver’, it shows that this is a versatile pair. Little Fish’s future is bright and Juju Sophie could well be a star in the making.
Rachel Owen

LOCATORS
LOCATORS
(Heptown)
Attempted tribute to ‘70s punk falls flat.
2/5
These days, it’s not uncommon for modern artists to take styles and influences from prior decades and create something fresh and new out of what’s already been done.  Others simply regurgitate what’s gone before them, without any element of innovation or change, and on their debut album Locators fall under the latter category.  Despite their black leather jackets and song titles such as ‘Razorblade’ and ‘Demons Coming My Way’, you get the sense that this album is more of a tribute to the greats of the past than a work meant for a long shelf life.  For much of the album, the band sounds as if they haven’t got their heart in it.
Michael Bednar

LUCIFER STAR MACHINE
STREET VALUE ZERO
(Nicotine)
Violent punk ‘n’ roll sophomore album from London brawlers.
4/5
“Kick in the bollocks/Slap in the face”, shouts LSM vocalist Tor Abyss at the start of ‘City Low Life’, one of the album highlights (on the covermount CD), setting the tone for the rest of this low down and dirty second album. If you’re looking for polished tunes look elsewhere but if you’re after gutter-dragging gritty anthems such as ‘Devil On A Rampage’ and ‘Pussy Champagne’, coming on like G.G. Allin and Motorhead in a drinking contest, then this is for you. A varied album, it incorporates elements of psychobilly and hardcore into its maelstrom of chaos. This is the rise of the ‘Machine.
John Damon

MADNESS
KEEP MOVING
(Salvo/Union Square)
The Nutty boys revisit their sober years.
4/5
Marking the fifth release in Union Square’s revamp series, Madness’ 1984 cut ‘Keep Moving’ saw the Camden collective shelve a hefty portion of their baggy trouser wearing playground mischief in favour of a subtler, more matured approach. Arguably foreshadowing their later demise, the album  marks the departure of keyboard whizz Mike Barson (until his ’99 return) and its sombre overtones are consequently echoed in the singles ‘One Better Day’ and ‘Michael Cane’. Perked up slightly by US single and romcom mainstay ‘Wings Of A Dove’, the reissue follows the usual formula, including the original album, promo videos and bonus tracks, spread over a lushly presented two disc package.
Tom Williams

MAGIC KIDS
MEMPHIS
(True Panther)
Twee indie pop that lacks the tunes.
2/5
This is a perfectly harmless release. The wimpish delivery has touches of ‘The Boy Least Likely To’, with moments of dream pop softness. ‘Superball’ has a substantial chorus but mostly the recording methods lack punch and energy. This is a young band, and in the string arrangements there are moments that pay tribute to the Beach Boys, Beulah or the Elephant Six Collective, but the melodies just don’t quite have the mix to wrench at the heart. It’s too simple and lacks genuine melancholy.
Jonathan Falcone

MASTODON
JONAH HEX
(Reprise)
Digital release of EP soundtrack from Atlanta prog metallers.
4/5
The movie adaptation of popular DC comic series ‘Jonah Hex’, the story of one man’s struggle between good and evil, seems to be the perfect first outing into soundtrack territory for fantasy-obsessed prog metallers Mastodon. The EP features four new tracks – ‘Death March’, ‘Clayton Boys’, ‘Indian Theme’ and ‘Train Assault’ – as well as two alternate versions of the first two. Recorded by viewing movie footage and writing spontaneously in the studio, this EP proves that Mastodon can pen epic, heavy soundscapes at the drop of a (cowboy) hat. Another worthy addition to their catalogue.
Ian Chaddock

MOGWAI
SPECIAL MOVES
(Rock Action)
Live album showcases considerable talents of experimental Scottish band.
4/5
Singing?  Mogwai don’t need no stinkin’ singing, as they demonstrate on this CD/DVD recording of highlights from three concerts they performed in New York City in April 2009. Through meandering instrumental pieces, Mogwai are able to convey incredible emotion. The songs on this collection, all performed impeccably, are culled from Mogwai’s entire body of work and manage to evoke everything from a dark and dreary city street populated with lowlife denizens, to a sunny picnic on a spring day.  ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ is especially powerful, building slowly over the course of several minutes to a crashing, euphoric finale.
Michael Bednar

MONICA AND THE EXPLOSION
SHUT UP!
(Hands Up)
Sassy Swede + Paul Slack + acoustic punk = jolly good time.
3/5
Acoustic punk?  From Sweden?  With the ex-drummer of punk legends U.K. Subs?  It may sound like a gimmick, but one listen to the album and any of those notions are dispelled. Monica Welander is the frontwoman of this three-piece band, and she’s got enough sass to pull the album together. Songs like ‘Take It Or Leave Me’ and ‘Shut Up’ are fiery musings with a little bit of Joan Jett attitude thrown in. The album might be a little rough around the edges but that only adds to its charms. Let this explode out of your stereo and enjoy!
Michael Bednar

NONPOINT
MIRACLE
(Powerage)
Reliable old Nonpoint.
3/5
Nonpoint are back with a new guitarist, new management, a new label and a brand new album. But the Ft. Lauderdale’s quartet’s eighth album continues in much the same vein as their previous albums; it’s packed full of anthemic, driving metal that sounds comfortable on daytime radio. Mudvayne/Hellyeah’s Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett give ‘Miracle’ a slick production that allows the band to play to their strengths. Nonpoint even manage to make Pantera’s ‘5 Minutes Alone’ their own. Singer Elias Soriano has an extremely impressive voice and it’s shown to full effect on the three bonus acoustic tracks. The addition of those three tracks mean that ‘Miracle’ has 16 songs and runs for far too long, however.
Paul Hagen

PARANOID VISIONS
BLACK OPERATIONS IN THE RED MIST
(Overground)
Not so modest Irish punks.
4/5
Here we have a very weighty double CD set from long-standing Irish punks Paranoid Visions, covering their whole career from 1982 to the present day, with one disc entitled ‘Black Operations’ and the other ‘In The Red Mist’. No less chunky is the 20-page booklet which tells a tale of inter-band bickering and music-biz woes that are even more bizarre than most, including a court case over the use of their song ‘Beauty Queen’ in the movie ‘The Commitments’, sadly not included here. 39 tracks of arrogant, self-assured punk rock, even if you’re not always sure what they’re getting at. What’s not to like?
Shane Baldwin

THE PERFECT CRIME
EVERYTHING ELSE CAN WAIT
(Speechless)
Aptly titled debut album for fans of melodic hard rock.
3/5
‘Everything Else Can Wait’ proves that rocking doesn’t have to mean all anger and aggressive playing and no melody. ‘Are We There?’ and ‘Deliver Me Your Sins’ mix gentler moments with hard-driving guitar riffs and tortured vocals.  Maintaining this delicate balance throughout, the album is all the better for it. The Perfect Crime might not be the most original band in the world but the album is reflective of past influences rather than outright derivative, and their debut is an indication of good things to come. 
Michael Bednar

POLICE BASTARD
IT’S GOOD TO HATE
(Iron Man)
Powerful Midlands punks.
3/5
Even by the standards of your average long-standing punk band, the personnel turnover of Police Bastard since they formed in Birmingham in 1994 has been pretty staggering. The pedigree of those members has been somewhat impressive as well, with various Police Bastards turning out, at various times, for the likes of Doom, Rubella Ballet, Sensa Yuma, Contempt, English Dogs and The Prodigy. You can guess who did the last two, surely? Anyway, after a lengthy hiatus, the band reformed in 2006 and continue to deliver hardcore/grindcore in its most virulent form, as these two discs of studio and live material ably demonstrate.
Shane Baldwin

RUBELLA BALLET
NEVER MIND THE DAY-GLO HERE’S…
(Overground)
Anarcho but fun.
4/5
Worthy as the ’80s anarcho punk movement was, it was also often dour, dreary and severely monochrome. So, when Rubella Ballet bounced on the scene, no less politicised or committed, but draped in bright colours, it really was a breath of fresh air. Carrying on from Overground’s ‘Anarchy In The U.V.’ CD (covering the band’s early days) this collection includes the ‘If’ album and ‘Arctic Flowers’ single, both released by Ubiquitous in 1986; and the ‘At The End Of The Rainbow’ album, which came out on Brave in 1990, along with Jungle’s 1984 single ‘4f’, all remastered and with a suitably, er, day-glo booklet. Go on, cheer up you miserable buggers.
Shane Baldwin

SILVERY
RAILWAY ARCHITECTURE
(Blow Up)
Genius twisted pop.
4/5
This is the sophomore album from London’s Silvery, who do a brilliant line in weirded out, ‘70s new wave pop. Driven by swirling keyboards, their quirky Sparks meets XTC meets David Bowie is classically English and has been gathering them a string of fans from Mark Lamarr to Zane Lowe. Founder and singer-songwriter James Orman takes in a host of influences including ‘70s detective shows and historic machinery to produce a truly original pop masterpiece. Catch them on tour in October.
John Damon

THERAPY? 
CROOKED TIMBER DELUXE GOLD EDITION
(DR2)
Return to form for Ireland’s darkest power trio.
4/5
It’s hard to believe that Therapy?  have been going nearly 20 years as it seems like only yesterday ‘Teethgrinder’ was all over Radio 1.  Back then, they were touted as the next Nirvana but reached their short-lived commercial peak a few years later with ‘Troublegum’.  They’ve since been plugging away to a loyal if slightly diminished hardcore following.  This re-issue of 2009’s ‘Crooked Timber’ is a return to form, right up there with their classic early releases.  The remixes that make this a ‘Deluxe Gold Edition’ may be superfluous to all but the most diehard fan but, this is the band at their most urgent, stripped down, darkest, Big Black influenced best and well worth getting if you’ve not bought a Therapy?  album of late.
Lee Cotterell

UNDERDOG
MATCHLESS
(Bridge Nine)
Lost NY hardcore heroes ‘best of’ collection.
4/5
Back in the late ‘80s it looked like Underdog were going to become one of the mainstays of New York hardcore alongside the likes of Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front et al. Sadly, they imploded before that could happen. With a straight-up hardcore sound with elements of melodies and guitar solos thrown in, a strong link to the skateboard scene and insane live shows, their sound proves how powerful NYHC can be. Featuring 26 songs that include their 1985 and 1988 demos, as well as their 1989 ironically titled only full-length ‘The Vanishing Point’, this is a worthy addition to any hardcore fan’s collection.
Ian Chaddock

VERBAL WARNING
RED STAR RADIO
(Platinum)
Notts/Derbyshire old school punks kickin’ it ’77 style.
4/5
Originally formed back in the early ‘80s and rising from the ashes with a new line-up in 2005, these punk veterans unleash their first new album in four years in the form of the John Peel saluting ‘Red Star Radio’. Mixing humour and politics into their melodic old school punk sound, fans of the Ramones and the Dead Kennedys are sure to enjoy this, even if the Proclaimers cover is a little unnecessary. Still sounding fresh and invigorated with ‘Is It Too Soon’, ‘A Ploy Named Sue’ (on the covermount CD) and the ripping ‘Z List Celebrity’, you’ll be having as much fun as the band clearly are.
Ian Chaddock

VICE SQUAD
LONDON UNDERGROUND
(Last Rockers)
Bristol pin-up punx bring back the spirit of ‘77.
5/5
After realising their 2008 ‘Fairground For The Demented’ was too new school for release, punk rock originals Vice Squad headed back to the drawing board and whipped out this testament to their formative years. ‘London Underground’ finds the perfect medium between clean, crisp production values and street punk sardonicism, with each song unfurling like a whip and cutting the eardrum asunder.  Arguably the grittiest release of the band’s 32 year career and with singer Beki Bondage’s switchblade vocals sharpened to lethality; the album proves that there’s still plenty of life in the old ‘Squad yet.
Tom Williams

THE YOUNG VEINS
TAKE A VACATION!
(One Haven)
Panic At The Disco offshoot.
2/5
Remember Panic At The Disco had a decent debut? Then on their next album they went a bit strange and Beatles-esque? Well, the Young Veins is basically a continuation of the latter. Former PATD members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker are at the forefront, creating a psychedelic, Beach Boys sound, sadly without any decent melodies. I get that the whole idea of this album is to sound laid-back, but it just comes across as soulless and repetitive. I can’t see this appealing to many classic PATD fans, but maybe that’s the point. The energy seems to have drained from the potentially great Ryan Ross. Disappointing. Hipsters may enjoy it though.
Tracey Lowe

 

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JUNE REVIEWS

ACID TIGER
ACID TIGER
(Deathwish)
Converge drummer in yet another side project.
3/5

It seems as though Converge drummer Ben Koller and guitarist Lukas Previn of The A.K.A.s had so much fun playing together in punk grindcore supergroup United Nations that they decided to collaborate on another project with another couple of guys to play energetic prog rock-infused punk. The seven songs on Acid Tiger’s debut album are lengthy affairs and, while there is plenty of fast-paced rock music scattered throughout, this 40-minute record feels overlong. There’s even an extended drum solo by the supremely talented Koller. Still, this Kurt Ballou-produced effort rocks hard and manages to effortlessly merge prog rock and punk rock to create an entertaining album. Maybe you could call it prunk rock.
Paul Hagen

THE ADVERTS
CAST OF THOUSANDS
(Fire)
Quality reissue of the much-overlooked second Ads album.
4/5

1979 was the year that derailed a lot of punk acts. While the support of a fickle industry wavered, audience expectations demanded repetition rather than musical adventure. The Adverts’ second LP was a casualty of this, suffering a vicious journalistic backlash on its release, sounding their death knell. With hindsight, ‘Cast’ reveals a more multi-dimensional Adverts than was evident on their 1978 debut. It boasts some fine numbers – ‘Television’s Over’ and ‘Love Songs’ easily rank among TV Smith’s best. If the Adverts received a clobbering for pushing their boundaries first time around, this reissue – including singles tracks and the Peel Sessions too – demands a reappraisal.
Hugh Gulland

BROKEN BONES
FUCK YOU AND ALL YOU STAND FOR!
(Dem Bones)
UK82 hardcore heavyweights, still as angry as ever.
3/5

For the uninitiated, Broken Bones are veterans of the early ‘80s street punk movement and feature former members of Discharge and Conflict; two of the leading lights of that era. Fusing very angry hardcore punk with Motorhead style metal riffing, not much has changed over the decades. Their old enemies, the government and the Nazis come in for lyrical flack on ‘House of Frauds’ and ‘Persecution’ respectively but this time round they really got to town on the subjects of war and terrorism with songs like ‘Death on Demand’ and ‘Brainwashed’. After the recent election results, it’s likely they’ll have plenty of lyrical source material for years to come.
Lee Cotterell

COFFEE PROJECT
MOVED ON
(Paper + Plastick)
Less Than Jake and Rehasher men playing acoustic tunes.
4/5

Featuring Buddy Schaub (Less Than Jake) and Jake Crown (Rehasher), this Gainesville, Florida duo produce organic acoustic tunes with catchy trombone melodies adding a different angle. Make no mistake, this is not ska but it does have the upbeat, summer feel of that chirpy genre with which Schaub is accustomed to. These honest, simple songs about life in a college town, such as the upbeat ‘Oh Sweet Pickle’ and the reflective ‘Big Trouble In Little Gainesville’, show a refreshing, intimate touch to the song writing compared to many singer-songwriters. Recording in home studios, this is the sound of friends playing music for the love of the music – something that doesn’t happen nearly enough these days.
Ian Chaddock

THE DESTRUCTORS
POLITIKA
(Rowdy Farrago)
And on they go…
3/5

Perhaps due to the fact that only early Destructors bassist Allen Adams had anything to do with the original ‘80s outfit, when he ‘reformed’ the band a few years back, they added 666 to their moniker, but here he sees fit to reclaim the name. It’s tempting to dismiss the constant barrage of self-financed CDs they have turned out as a sort of vanity publishing, and Destructors 666 have sometimes come off second best with their split albums with other bands, but it also has to be admitted that, overall, the standard remains pretty high. Here you get perfectly competent, even impassioned punk tunes, all on the subject of politics and intended to coincide with the general election.
Shane Baldwin

DRONGOS FOR EUROPE
CAGE THE RAGE
(DFE)
Fast and furious tuneful punk from Birmingham veterans.
3/5

‘Cage The Rage’ could easily have been recorded in 1982. There are no nods to US pop/punk or anything that came afterwards, giving the album a vintage but still relevant feel. Stand out tracks like ‘Freedom’, with its chiming guitars, highlight their powerful Upstarts meets GBH roots whilst celebration of the working class anthem ‘Stand Up Be Strong’ bristles with attitude. With a clear-cut no-nonsense production, which lets the songs speak loudly for themselves, this rager keeps Drongos on the punk rock map.
Andy Peart

THE FABULOUS PENETRATORS
WITH LOVE
(Stag-O-Lee)
Glorious, rockin’ weirdoes.
4/5

Hailing from the Shoreditch area, The Fabulous Penetrators have been around since 2006 (formed after their first incarnation as Vaudeville-style outfit Paloma And The Penetrators came to a halt), but this is their first album. And a curiously eclectic collection it is too – a mental mish-mash of garage, rockabilly, psychobilly, glam, swing and blues that could have ended up an unholy mess, but succeeds due to the sheer bravado and delivery of yelping, shrieking singer Liam Casey and the rock solid band behind him. Apparently, they’re a sight to behold live too, and, on this evidence of this, I can well believe it.
Shane Baldwin

THE FALL
YOUR FUTURE OUR CLUTTER
(Domino)
Manchester legends still the Mark on album no. 28.
4/5

Fall albums can only be measured against other Fall albums these days and this one scores well using that Mark E Smith barometer. The band’s 28th album finds Smith with his latest line-up at their musical peak. ‘Bury Pts. 1 + 3’ is every great Fall song rolled into one and reminds you just how current they can still sound. ‘Cowboy George’ is a storming rockabilly/country-tinged whirlwind only missing a few ‘Rawhides’. There’s the usual quality song titles (‘Mexico Wax Solvent’, ‘Hot Cake’) plus enough willful obscure bits and pieces to keep the diehards happy. A national treasure.
Andy Peart

IGGY AND THE STOOGES
RAW POWER LEGACY/DELUXE EDITIONS
(Columbia)
Expanded reissue of punk rock’s 1973 cornerstone album.
5/5

Aptly scheduled to tie in with their storming reunion shows, Columbia’s reissue of this most vital of punk rock catechism comes in two packages – the ‘Legacy Edition’ comprising the original 1973 album, the ‘Georgia Peaches’ live show from the same year and a booklet, while the ‘Deluxe Edition’ throws in a third disc of outtakes and rarities and a ‘making of’ DVD. It makes for an impressive array of peripherals, but the meat is in the original article, the glitter-in-the-gutter conflagration of frustration, nihilism and pure bad attitude that primed a punk rock explosion on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Hard To Beat’ indeed.
Hugh Gulland

JUDAS PRIEST
BRITISH STEEL
(Sony)
30th anniversary reissue for the early ‘80s classic.
4/5

It’s more than fair to say that Priest made better records than this 1980 album both before and after, but it certainly represented a shift towards metal becoming more of a mainstream entity. Along with other records such as the early Maiden material and Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’, it came to represent the sounds of an era in heavy music. For that reason alone it deserves a bit of jazzing up and, if your vinyl version is anything like mine, you are probably due another copy of this record. There’s a live DVD in the package as well and interviews with all four members. Good value for money.
James Batty

MELVINS
THE BRIDE SCREAMED MURDER
(Ipecac)
Back once again to fuck with your head.
4/5

Yes it seems that King Buzzo and Dale Crover have returned with those two guys from Big Business. I don’t think this band could write a bad record if they tried. They release a great record every two years and then tour it to much acclaim, then they disappear again. This record has elements of 2002’s ‘Hostile Ambient Takeover’ mixed with classic Melvins material and continues to push the envelope in new and interesting ways. They surround the listener with a heavy sound laced with menace and dread like no one else and if you haven’t heard them before then you should.
James Batty

THE MEN WHO WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING
NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL STEAMPUNK VOLUME 1
(Leather Apron)
Bonkers album from steampunk gents.
4/5

By now you’ll no doubt have read our introductory feature to the retro/futuristic delights of steampunk. When it comes to music for the genre, London’s The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (who, interestingly enough, feature former Million Dead drummer Ben Dawson among their number) are intent on “putting the punk back into steampunk” and, with album ‘Now That’s What I Call Steampunk Volume 1’ that’s exactly what they’ve done. Playing refreshingly simple punk rock with foot firmly stomped on the accelerator, the likes of ‘Etiquette’ (with the refrain “Manners maketh the man”) zip past in a flurry of steam and smoke while references to Jules Verne, Captain Nemo, Darwin and HG Wells on the likes of ‘A Traditional Victorian Gentlemen’s Boasting Song’ and ‘Blood Red’. Outstanding.
Jim Sharples

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE
DREAMS OF DEATH AND THE DEATH OF DREAMS
(Vociferous)
Girl rock that ain’t so girly and will probably kick your ass.
3/5

Obsessive Compulsive are a throwback to the multitude of 90’s female-fronted gritty rock bands, shading themselves the colour of Hole, The Distillers or Skunk Anansie. If this already doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, don’t let it put it you off just yet. This Manchester four-piece have been rocking since 2003 and the hard work seems to have paid off here in the form of their debut album. Singer Kelli drawls and lustfully growls and the guitars are fearless and clear. From the dark and sickly ‘A Cocktail of Toxins’ to the bittersweet ‘Vigaro’, this record delivers a venomous kiss.
Sarah Cakebread

THE OTHER
NEW BLOOD
(SPV)
Is horror punk heaven hell? Either way, this is it.
4/5

The Other are already arguably Germany’s best-loved horror punk outfit and this album looks certain to confirm that. Their mixture of goth, punk and metal is pretty much the perfect blend on this. The sound is cavernous and almost operatic as far as the soaring and plummeting vocals go – with that description almost fitting for the arrangements too. No doubt bolstered by the success of their previous album, they have been confident enough to include a German language song here too, but you don’t have to be bi-lingual to enjoy the hugeness of it. If horror punk is your (body)bag, look no further.
Simon Nott

ROWLAND S HOWARD
POP CRIMES
(Infectious)
Elegiac final album from the sadly missed Birthday Party guitarist.
4/5

Misunderstood and unappreciated for a large part of his career, at the time of his death from liver cancer in late 2009, Rowland S Howard was beginning to enjoy a resurgence in public and critical interest, and he managed to get this final album done. The serrated guitar twang and the careworn lyrical twists and turns could have come from no other musician, whether delineating a world of moral bankruptcy in the smoldering title cut, or laying open his own emotional diary in confessionals such as ‘Shut Me Down’ or ‘Wayward Man’. Rowland’s musical powers remained undiminished ‘til the end, and ‘Pop Crimes’ stands as a fine testimonial to the man.
Hugh Gulland

THE RUNAWAYS
THE MERCURY ALBUMS ANTHOLOGY
(Universal)
Two-disc retrospective of the original Queens Of Noise.
4/5

The all-girl five-piece the Runaways may have appeared to be a gimmick when they first came to public attention as Kim Fowley-chaperoned ‘jailbait rockers’, but Joan Jett and co. soon proved to have as much balls at their male counterparts, and then some. Pulling together their first three studio albums in their entirety together with the ‘Live In Japan’ LP, this anthology showcases the Runaways’ ebullient hard-rock raunch, with 42 tracks of teen-trash anthems. Packed with femme-rock belters such as ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Trash Can Murders’, this is an air-punching jamboree.
Hugh Gulland

SARAH BLACKWOOD
WASTING TIME
(Wolverine)
Superb second offering of The Creepshow’s Sarah Sin’s angelic side.
4/5

Sarah Blackwood’s follow-up to her highly praised debut solo album ‘Way Back Home’ is more of the same. The ‘Sarah Sin of The Creepshow’ days are left well behind with this collection of heartfelt country ballads with a rockabilly leaning. Lap steel, banjo, piano, ukulele and double bass all enrich 11 songs that are surprisingly uplifting, despite quite often embracing desolate themes. All the tracks are self-penned and sung so beautifully that they will melt the hardest heart. Did I just type that? There’s the proof then.
Simon Nott

T.V. SMITH
SPARKLE IN THE MUD – UNRELEASED SONGS AND DEMOS VOLUME ONE: 1979-1983
(Boss Tuneage)
Unreleased gold from Adverts singer/songwriter.
4/5

While one naturally baulks at using that awful ‘It says what it does on the tin’ cliché, it’s impossible to escape here. Tim ‘TV’ Smith may not have troubled the charts since his first band The Adverts did so in 1977 and 1978, but those gloriously ramshackle records also revealed a songwriter of rare talent. His work with bands like The Explorers and Cheap, then his more recent one-man shows and recordings have amply proved that point. So, this first set of rare TV Smith recordings, with detailed sleeve notes by Tim himself and Dave Thompson telling the story behind them, is most welcome.
Shane Baldwin

VARIOUS ARTISTS
MOD MANIA
(Universal)
Smart mod collection mixes ‘60s and ‘70s stylish sounds.
4/5

This fantastic 50-track double CD has something for mod fans of all ages, kicking off with The Jam and The Who and incorporating Gloria Jones’ northern soul classic ‘Tainted Love’ via Booker T & The MG’s timeless instrumental ‘Green Onions’ through to the recently reformed Purple Hearts late ‘70s punk-fuelled debut single ‘Millions Like Us’. The mod scene’s influence can’t be underestimated. For proof, check out Chuck Woods’ ‘Seven Days Too Long’, covered by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and R. Dean Taylor’s ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ – a hit single when covered by The Fall in the ‘80s. A timely reminder of a movement full of soul, style and a fair few scooters.
Andy Peart

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APRIL REVIEWS

ACEY SLADE & THE DARK PARTY
ACEY SLADE & THE DARK PARTY
(TrashPit)
Former Murderdolls, Dope and Trashlight Vision man returns.
4/5
Known for his work in a range of dark glam rock/punk bands, it’s refreshing to hear New York musician Acey Slade explore a more experimental sound with his new project, The Dark Party. Working with English drum and bass producer Shaun Morris (DJ Stakka), this is a collision of sneering punk vocals, pop rock melodies and electronic atmospherics. Slade’s trademark dark themes and gloomy lyrics give this intriguing (poisoned) cocktail an added kick on tracks such as ‘Sugarcum’, ‘Spiders In A Snowglobe’ and a throbbing electro cover of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. Fans of Placebo, Bowie and Murderdolls should join this spellbinding dark party.
Rachel Owen

BACKYARD BABIES
Them XX
(Spinefarm)
Their first ‘best of’ but with only 12 tracks?
3/5
The dozen tracks that you get here are as you would expect from the Swedish veteran rockers. If you have nothing by them in your collection and you are curious you get some killer sleaze punk rock tracks and an extensive 32-page booklet. If you are a fan already and have the previous six albums there is little reason to buy this. They have been knocking about for 20 years and it begs the question – why such a half-arsed go at a ‘best of’ now they’ve finally done one? However, you can’t argue with the quality of the songs and it’s a great starting point for newcomers.
Simon Nott

Beans On Toast
Standing On A Chair
(Xtra Mile)
Massive fifty-track double album from this cheeky Essex songsmith.
4/5
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the quirky acoustic ramblings of one-man band Beans On Toast just think Frank Turner with his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek. His raspy doodlings on life, drugs and politics are brimming with an inimitable humour that sets him aside from most alt-singer-songwriters. There is an awful lot to digest here but tracks like ‘M-D-M-Amazing’, ‘Fuck The Smoking Ban’ and ‘An Afternoon With Henry Rollins’ are short yet sweet and will leave a wry smile embossed across your face. Beans On Toast is a welcome breath of thought-provoking yet amusing fresh air.
Miles Hackett

THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS
THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS
(Fuel Injection)
Former Cock Sparrer man’s blues-soaked return.
4/5
Gary Lammin penned many of street punk legends Cock Sparrer’s greatest songs, including the glorious ‘Running Riot’. Since then he’s had various musical projects, worked with Joe Strummer and become a regular actor on shows like ‘The Bill’. Now he’s back with an album recorded in just 12 hours that’s a fantastic mix of Sparrer style rock ‘n’ roll mixed with slide guitar and a dose of the Rolling Stones. It’s lo-fi, it’s pub-rock and, with members of Chelsea and the Heavy Metal Kids keeping rhythm, the Joyriders are a great burnout live. It ain’t reinventing the wheel kid, but it’s a retrotastic, blues-soaked cruise down the highway. Count me in!
Eugene Big Cheese

Black Box Revelation
SILVER THREATS
(T For Tunes)
Enticing garage-blues from the Brussels duo.
4/5
I’m not sure what’s stirring in the Low Countries, but along with last year’s offering from the Hickey Underworld, this third album from Black Box Revelation seems to indicate a healthy Belgian scene poised to break big. With their uniquely fried take on the garage-blues, Black Box Revelation exhibit that spiky quality that characterises the current Benelux underground. The upbeat roadhouse stomp of ‘High On A Wire’ opens proceedings and there’s similarly energetic fare on the frazzled juke-joint raver ‘Run Wild’. But it’s the downbeat ruminations of the sinuous ‘Love Licks’ that provide ‘Silver Threats’ with more evocative moments, and closing cut ‘Here Comes The Kick’ is a haunting mantra.
Hugh Gulland

Black Breath
Heavy Breathing
(Southern Lord)
New anger-fuelled hardcore debut from Seattle.
5/5
When you mix an influence of Swedish black metal and US hardcore the result is going to be something special, and Black Breath certainly are. Blasting drums, screaming vocals and technical guitar riffs are what this quintet is all about. One listen to their dark, heavy first full-length will make you angry as hell – in a good way. Sounding as if The Banner and Trap Them made a deal with the devil, this is pure rage. It is no surprise that hardcore giants Converge have asked the band to go on tour with them as main support and tear up the States. 2010 is going to bring big things for Black Breath.
Tim Birkbeck

CHAINS OF HATE
COLD HARSH REALITY
(Rucktion)
South Wales bruisers keep it simple but impressively effective.
4/5
Self-proclaimed ‘South Wales heavyweights’ Chains Of Hate certainly deliver the goods on this, their debut EP. Right from the off, it’s obvious this lot aren’t ones to mess around, as the intro’s meaty chug and intense drumming promises plenty of vein-popping muscle to follow, which the ensuing six tracks more than deliver. Taking obvious influence from the mid-90’s hardcore scene (especially Madball), ‘Cold Harsh Reality’ is no-frills stuff, but, what numbers like ‘C.H.R.’ and ‘Fading Fast’ lack in subtlety and invention, they more than make up for in sheer brute force.
Nick Mann

I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone
(Bridge Nine)
Sophomore B9 release from the Long Island quintet.
4/5
Crime In Stereo’s last album ‘…Is Dead’ saw the band stray from their early hardcore sound into a more post-hardcore vibe. ‘I Was Trying..’ heads deeper into that territory, leaving behind the influence of Lifetime for a sound more akin to ‘Deja Entendu’-era Brand New (the production is handled ably by long-time Brand New
producer Mike Sapone). Intricate songwriting with bold and striking sonic execution make this a really progressive listen. Complex and dynamic yet absorbing is the only way to describe what Crime In Stereo have achieved here, giving a stagnant genre a precision kick to the groin.
Miles Hackett

Elvis Jackson
Against The Gravity
(Antstreet)
Slovenians mix styles on fourth album.
3/5
How many Slovenian bands can you name? Me neither. With a string of impressive support slots fulfilled (Faith No More, Offspring), this fourth record even has FNM’s Billy Gould twiddling the knobs. Considering the potential disaster likely to occur when attempting to mash together ska, reggae, metal and punk, ‘Against The Gravity’ is really quite palatable. In the same way that FNM enjoyed keeping their fans guessing, EJ have a knack for writing particularly catchy songs that transcend various genres. If Faith No More, Pennywise and Devildriver had kids… well, you get the idea. It’s good, but Elvis Jackson, who are you?
Gary Lancaster

The Fallen Leaves
THAT’S RIGHT
(Parliament records)
Second installment of tasty mod-pop from the ex-Subway Secters
4/5
Spiritually rooted in the Marquee club when it still boasted a Wardour Street address, the Fallen Leaves continue to explore a rich seam of maximum R&B with this characteristic set of tightly-cranked mod-pop janglers. With the gain turned up high on the amps and an economical directness, That’s Right packs in succinct jabs from the songwriting team of Rob Green and Rob Symmons. Shades of vintage Townshend and Davies are conjured up on cuts like My Phantoms or Misdemeanour, while the band’s historical fascinations are touched on in The International Brigade. Closing with the sublime and tender When You’re Gone, the Leaves’ second is another concise and energetic statement.
Hugh Gulland

Falling Red
Shake The Faith
(Rocksector)
Sex, rock ‘n’ roll and er… sheep?
4/5
This is high-octane sleaze rock at its filthiest – the kind that dirt-mongers Motley Crüe would be proud of. Think powering, thundering rock that was made for ladies in skimpy undies to gyrate to, men to rock out to and for large amounts of whiskey to be drunk to. Yet despite their strong American sound that feels like it was destined for the sun-drenched coast of California (albeit maybe a good generation ago), this foursome hail from the less glamorous fields of Cumbria. Nonetheless, tracks such as ‘Out Of Control’ and title track ‘Shake The Faith’ are anthemic and energetic. Get down to a gig and shake your tail feathers.
Sarah Cakebread

Harrington Saints
Dead Broke in the USA
(Pirate Press)
Bay Area punk bravado with a Brit attitude.
4/5
Old Blighty may have given birth to the genre, but it’s the New World that’s most responsible for shunting street punk into the 21st century. Still, the British aftertaste has never really faded and the Harrington Saints are no exception, playing ballsy Californian Oi! that you’d swear came from the heart of London’s East End. Akin to Roger Miret and chock-a-block with working class clichés, boisterous gang vocals and three-chord melodies, ‘Dead Broke In The USA’ marks the band’s debut full-length effort and, while it may not be on Hellcat, it’s sure to rouse a rabble or two.
Tom Williams

Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
Medicine County
(Damaged Goods)
Pure Americana wrapped up in a limey package.
3/5
Making her name through garage rock roots and an established career of collaborations and solo projects, British singer/songwriter Holly Golightly is back with long-time bandmate Lawyer Dave in tow for a third album of bluesy alternative rock. Mixing equal measures of traditional US folk tunes and the band’s own originals, ‘Medicine County’ walks a swarthy, bourbon soaked road between ‘60s psychedelia and honky-tonk blues. Capped off by the Nancy Sinatra crooning of Miss Golightly herself, the record oozes southern charm by the bushel and shows evidently that this English rose completed the transition to American splendour.
Tom Williams

IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll: The Essential Collection 
(DMG)
More reasons to be cheerful.

4/5
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since Ian Dury’s untimely passing. So, hot on the heels of Andy Serkis’ recent gritty portrayal of him in the film of the same name, this collection serves as a timely reminder of his lyrical genius and how these songs have stood the test of time. That said, die-hard fans will already have most, if not all, of these songs as they’ve been previously available in some form or other over the years. But the inclusion of a hefty chunk of material from ‘New Boots & Panties’ is a plus. If the film wetted your appetite, this is a great introduction to a uniquely British and sorely missed talent.
Lee Cotterell

JACK RABBIT SLIM 
Hairdos & Heartaches
(Western Star)
The kings of sleaze-abilly on top form.
5/5

Having established themselves as one of the leading lights of contemporary UK rockabilly, with a succession of critically acclaimed albums, this latest record shows Jack Rabbit Slim are not a band to rest on their laurels. The ‘Sleaze-abilly’ remains intact (‘21st Century Bettie Page’ will have the pit wrecking) but they’ve got a few surprises up their sleeves. The title-track is a fairly mellow affair followed by a dose of harmonica-driven R&B with ‘Shake Rag’. ‘The Gift’ hints at Hank Mizell’s ‘Jungle Rock’, ‘Skin’ goes way out there with a nod to Adam Ant and ‘Need You’ would do The Kinks proud. A nicely varied album that doesn’t compromise the band’s trademark sound.
Lee Cotterell

THE PEACOCKS
AFTER ALL
(People Like You)
Swiss rockabilly punk veterans keep bopping.
4/5
Having survived a lot more touring, health problems and stress, Switzerland’s finest are back and the long-standing trio of Hasu Langhart (vocals/guitar), Simon Langhard (upright bass) and Jurg Luder (drums) have produced another belting record of energetic and fun rockabilly punk. Tracks such as the anthemic title track opener, the angry ‘Stuck Again’ and the catchy ‘Not Your Man’ bounce along with driving double bass and booze-soaked vocals. The black-clad, quiff-sporting Peacocks are arguably Europe’s finest rockabilly band and these 15 tracks are further proof of their skills. They’re cooler than you too.
Rachel Owen

SICK ON THE BUS/ THE DESTRUCTORS
TORMENTUM INSOMNIAE
(Rowdy Farrago)
UK punk 2010 style.
4/5
Rowdy Farrago Records just keep the punk coming with this in yer’ face showdown between Sick On The Bus and the Destructors. The Bus kick things off with three slabs of GBH style power designed to offend and blow you to bits in equal measure. Meanwhile, the Destructors slow it down a bit with a brutal cover of the Saints’ ‘This Perfect Day’ and a couple of their own members. As it says on the tin: ‘punk as fuck’.
Eugene Big Cheese

THE SMOKING HEARTS
PRIDE OF NOWHERE
(GSR)
Full-on party rock ‘n’ roll.
4/5
The Smoking Hearts’ punk ‘n’ roll assault brings to mind the likes of the Supersuckers and a (slightly less manic) Zeke. You pretty much know what you’re going to get when a band decides to give their songs titles such as ‘Thrash B4 Gash’ and ‘Shred And Destroy’. The Smoking Hearts don’t disappoint, blasting through their debut album with admirable joy, gusto and adrenaline. It really does sound like the soundtrack to the drunkest, wildest party you’ve ever been to. Clearly, they’re the sort of band you have to see live to full appreciate their anarchic energy but they do an excellent job of capturing their unrestrained, care-free and hyperactive sound here.
Paul Hagen

SPANISH GAMBLE
IT’S ALL COMING DOWN
(Paper + Plastick)
Anthemic debut from the Gainesville gruff melodic punks.
4/5
Formerly known as Dirty Money, the first full-length from Gainesville, FL’s Spanish Gamble has spent the last few years honing their sound on the road. Thankfully it’s been worth the wait as ‘It’s All Coming Down’ is bursting with melodic but raw and gritty sing-alongs, from energetic opener ‘There Is No God Tonight’ and infectious album highlight ‘Science Can’t Explain Magic’ to the rousing ‘Four Letter Word’ and ‘Can I Live?’ Fans of American Steel, Hot Water Music and The Riot Before should definitely check these guys out, as, far from all coming down, this debut proves Spanish Gamble are building something spectacular.
Ian Chaddock

TICKING BOMBS
CRASH COURSE IN BRUTALITY
(Concrete Jungle)
Swedish street punk ‘n’ rollers bludgeon your ears in.
5/5
Ticking Bombs is an apt name for this blazing punk ‘n’ roll four-piece. Despite having been a band for a decade, they sound hungrier and more dangerous on ever on this thundering fourth full-length, with the opening Molotov cocktail of ‘Riot In The Streets’ and the blistering pace and wild guitar solo-filled ‘Streets Up Streets Down’ showing their unstoppable force. Recorded at Millencolin’s studio in Orebro, the 11 tracks are full of raw vocals and lyrics about crises, violence and monotony. Sounding like Peter Pan Speedrock in a brawl with Bombshell Rocks, this album deserves to be the one which sees Ticking Bombs explode into the hearts of punks and rockers worldwide.
John Damon

Tim Barry 
28th And Stonewall 
(Suburban Home)
Third full-length from the Avail man turned folk singer.
5/5
There’s something very humbling about listening to Tim Barry’s acoustic-led tales of life, loss, consumerism and drinking and ‘28th And Stonewall’ is his most consistent and experimental work to date. His country-tinged acoustic folk songs are both humorous and touching in
equal measure and, although he may not be the most eloquent lyricist, it’s his powerful delivery that has the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end. Tim Barry is a hobo poet for the jilted generation and whether you like his hardcore punk roots or the likes of Frank Turner, this album is for you. Essential.
Miles Hackett

TONY SLY
12 Song Program
(Fat Wreck)
Another frontman plies his solo wares.
3/5
Mostly the stuff these frontmen turned solo artists are churning out has no relevance to the band they front and it’s the case with Tony Sly from No Use For A Name. Fine if vocalists want to go it alone but any NUFAN fans that buy this because of the sticker on the front explaining who Tony is are going to feel cheated if they expect that connection to mean anything at all. This is a showcase for his songwriting talents, displayed in this album of ‘soothing and captivating melodies’. However, it’s actually not bad if that’s what you are after.
Simon Nott

THE VERMIN POETS
Poets of England
(Damaged Goods)
Billy Childish and his lo-fi cohorts commit vaticide (the murder of poets).
4/5
Featuring Neil Palmer on guitar and vocals, the Vermin Poets have an unmistakeable Billy Childish influence, with the man himself lurking there on bass and backing vocals. They really enjoy themselves on this one with some colourful lyrics delivered in an often tone-deaf but always endearing manner. The vibe is all lo-fi garage goodness, as you’d expect from the people involved. The rough edges are there and all the better for it, though there are parts where you half-expect an engineer to pipe in and say “Give it another go from the top guys”. Terms like ‘engineer’ and ‘more than one take’ are clearly fantasy though.
Simon Nott

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FEBRUARY ISSUE REVIEWS

ABRASIVE WHEELS
SKUM
(Crashed Out)
First album in 25 years from Leeds punk veterans.
4/5

Subtitled ‘When the punks go marching in volume 2’, in tribute to their debut album from back in 1982, the Wheels could always knock out a cracking sing-along chorus with ease and nothing’s changed. There’s a fierce punch to songs like opener ‘Fight The Enemy’ and ‘Nothing To Lose’, which Rancid would be proud of, but they also showcase a sensitive side on ‘Soldier’s Prayer’. Singer Shonna may now be in his forties but he doesn’t sound any less angry and the dual guitar attack gives him a perfect platform to show it. It’s a real achievement that ‘Skum’ fits in so snugly with today’s punk scene. Definitely worth that long wait.
Andy Peart

AC/DC
BACKTRACKS
(Columbia)
Acca Dacca box set bonanza!
5/5

If you want AC/DC’s blood, well with ‘Backtracks’ you got it! The ultimate ‘DC box set experience, it features 3 CDs of live and studio rarities, a vinyl LP of studio collectibles, a coffee table book, plus a ton of memorabilia and fine art lithographs. Live tracks are included from 1977 (‘Dirty Deeds’) right through to a 2000 recording of ‘Safe In New York City’, while studio rarities include the seldom heard, early pop sounding ‘Fling Thing’. The DVD includes the previously released ‘Crown Jewels’ collection of promo videos through the years and a complete live show from Munich in 2003.
This is definitely the ‘DC’s dog’s bollocks and will be eagerly welcomed into any fan’s home this Christmas!
Eugene Big Cheese

THE ADICTS
LIFE GOES ON
(People Like You)
Clockwork punks still cutting it.
4/5

Ipswich outfit the Adicts formed in 1976, originally with unwise names like the Afterbirth and the Pinz, before releasing debut ‘Lunch With The Adicts’ EP in 1979. When the UK82 wave of punk came, the Adicts were more than ready for it, becoming one of its top acts, and the original line-up are still with us. ‘Life Goes On’, their latest studio album, throws up 13 playful, perfectly executed tracks of mostly glammy pop punk, but there are some surprises. ‘The Gangster’ is spookily brooding, while ‘Mr Hard’ is like something from the movie ‘Cabaret’. But don’t worry, the boys still punk-out on the likes of ‘The Full Circle’ and ‘Tuned In’.
Shane Baldwin

AGNOSTIC FRONT
VICTIM IN PAIN
(Bridge Nine)
Re-issued lost hardcore classic from one of NYHC’s finest.
5/5

Long since out of print, Agnostic Front’s classic debut album ‘Victim In Pain’ gets dusted down and revamped in time for its 25th anniversary. This is brutal, no-nonsense New York hardcore played the way it was meant to be. Classic tracks like ‘Your Mistake’ and ‘United And Strong’ still stand the test of time and, although the production has dated the venomous songs haven’t. Big up to Bridge Nine for making this available again with bonus tracks and a particularly lovely limited vinyl edition.
Miles Hackett

ANAL THUNDER
4AM ILLUSION
(Fullhouse)
Finnish punk ‘n’ roll jokers.
3/5

Yes, you get exactly what you expect from a name like that. Unsurprisingly, Anal Thunder don’t take themselves too seriously and it’s too their credit. With 12 years, over 300 shows all over Europe and 6 releases under their belts, they’re writing exactly the kind of music that they want to, whether it’s the spoken word “fuck you!” of ‘The First Song Of The Album’, the raucous ‘Deaf Or Dumb?’ and ‘Freakshow’, the stupid Euro dance-mocking ‘Dance Motherfucker’ or the anthemic closer ‘Liquid Face Lift’. If you like Bowling For Soup and The Dwarves then check this out. It’s not big, it’s not clever but it’s damn fun.
Rachel Owen

ANTIPRODUCT
PLEASE TAKE YOUR CASH
(White Devil)
Image-conscious, eclectic punks.
4/5

Not to be confused with US Hardcore types Anti-Product, this London based bunch of nutters have been around since 2000, but ‘Please Take Your Cash’ is only their third full-length album. Not that they’ve been idle during that time, oh no. They’ve toured hard, racked up a slew of singles, EPs and DVDs, and generally put themselves about with a variety of increasingly bizarre publicity stunts. This is a strange mish-mash of punk, glam, pop and metal, with growly boy vocals and sometimes soaring, sometimes shrieking girl vocals, that somehow manages to sound futuristic and old-school at the same time. Plenty of terrific songs, too, like the Wildhearts-esque ‘Arms Around The World’ and anthemic ‘Best Day Of Your Life’.
Shane Baldwin

DEAD TO ME
AFRICAN ELEPHANTS
(Fat Wreck)
Hit and miss second album from San Francisco punks.
3/5

Three years back Dead To Me released the anthemic, gruff bu melodic debut ‘Cuban Ballerina’ and now they’re back and they’re quite a different beast. With vocalist/guitarist Jack Dalrymple taking a break from the band (he’s recently become a father), they recorded this record as a three-piece. With guitarist Nathan Grice joining vocalist/bassist Chicken on vocal duties, he adds a slightly cleaner, classic melodic punk sound to the likes of ‘Nuthin Runnin Through My Mind’. While ‘Fell Right In’ and ‘Modern Muse’ are rousing D4-esque sing-alongs and ‘X’ is a nice dub opener, there’s definite Clash worship here. The album sags and closer ‘Blue’ is pretty dull. It’s a decent record but not the triumphant return many were hoping for.
Ian Chaddock

THE DERELLAS
HOLLYWOOD MONSTERS
(Crushworld)
Reprobate rock ‘n’ roll in a Damned/Dead Boys mould.
3/5

A snot-nosed outburst of brothel-creepered punk from the unapologetically trashy DeRellas, ‘Hollywood Monsters’ is a B-flick take on the vintage punk sound, leaning heavily towards the amphetamine snarl of the Damned. In fact, Brian James might well check his pockets if he’s ever in earshot of some of these boys’ guitar licks, but there’s no harm in a bit of sincere flattery. The DeRellas are hardly rewriting the rulebook here, but in terms of sneering high powered riffery, these boys can certainly cook it up. The perfect soundtrack for a sweaty night in a hot basement, the DeRellas are proudly keeping it young, loud and snotty.
Hugh Gulland

EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS
THE SINGLES COLLECTION
(Captain Oi)
Pub/punk rock legends’ finest.
3/5

 Never mind post-punk, the Hot Rods were pre-punk. Major players in the mid-‘70s pub rock scene, along with Dr Feelgood and Joe Strummer’s 101ers, they embraced punk when it came along and expanded their sound accordingly. ‘Get Out Of Denver’, recorded at the Marquee in London, gives a flavour of why they had such an excellent live reputation whilst the classic ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’, which broke the top 10 in 1977, highlights them at their peak. The later singles suggest it was the right time to call it a day in 1981. A great introduction to the band (who are touring and recording again) or a worthy addition to the collection.
Andy Peart

GLUECIFER
B-SIDES & RARITIES 1994-2005
(People Like You)
4/5

The second most famous rock ‘n’ roll act from Norway to the mighty Turbonegro, Gluecifer trailblazed their brand of no frills rock from 1994 until splitting in 2005. Not a million miles away from Scandinavian neighbours the Hellacopters, their early releases were also on the White Jazz label. And now, as a bit of a late swan song, we get their 18 song b-sides and rarities from PLY. Kicking off with the total riff-o-rama of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Gluecifer never reinvented anything, but they played with such full-on conviction, attitude and power it’s impossible not to come along for the ride.The likes of ‘Shitty City’ and a revved-up version of Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’ show that the band were far from done upon their split. I for one will miss ’em.
Eugene Big Cheese

THE JIM JONES REVUE
HERE TO SAVE YOUR SOUL
(Punk Rock Blues)
Stompin’ singles comp from Jim Jones’ rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse.
4/5

If we’re in any danger of disconnection with rock ‘n’ roll’s primal essence, it’s up to the likes of the Jim Jones Revue to put that right. This 8-track round-up of the Revue’s singles so far is a succinct reminder of rock ‘n’ roll’s true purpose – staying up late and behaving disgracefully. Infused with the no-half-measures conviction of Jerry Lee Lewis and James Brown, ‘Here To Save Your Soul’ comes lurching at you red-eyed from some Soho doorway and breathes bourbon fumes in your face. It’s not pretty, but by God it’s necessary.
Hugh Gulland

THE JUNK
NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM
(12 Step Plan)
Fresh skacore from the seaside.
4/5

This seven-piece skacore/punk band from Brighton unveils this ripping debut EP, mixed and mastered by legendary producer Dave Chang, who has worked with the likes of Capdown and Lightyear. And it’s a stunner. Opener ‘Scream Your Dreams’ demonstrates the skills of each member in the band beautifully, including funky saxophone and trumpet solos. Their upbeat skacore is dynamic and socially aware but, but perhaps more importantly, fun and different. ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’ is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to and certainly far more than junk. In fact, this could be the start of something very special. Check out a track on this month’s Big Cheese covermount CD.
Chloe Gillard

MADNESS
TOTAL MADNESS –THE VERY BEST OF MADNESS
(USM)
All the singles.  All the videos. 100% Madness.
5/5

It’s hardly surprising that with the commendable success of ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ (which reached #5 in the charts back in May), ‘80s ska giants Madness would quickly follow up with a ‘best of’ compilation. Spanning the band’s entire 33 year career, the album features all of the single releases, from playlist toppers like ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’, to tracks like ‘Bed And Breakfast Man’ and ‘My Girl’ that you’ll forget you forgot. But I don’t need to sell Madness here: you’ll either be a lover or hater. Perhaps the accompanying bonus videography will tip the scale a little. 
Tom Williams

MISSION OF BURMA
THE SOUND THE SPEED THE LIGHT
(Matador)
Legendary alt-rockers return.
4/5

There can be no doubting the influence that this band has had on the world of alternative rock since the heady early ‘80s post-punk days. Their varied material and intense live shows have always helped them stand out in a crowded field. We have seen many a band from that era become irrelevant or just run out of creative steam. No such problems for MOB who still sound as exhilarating and vital as ever. Again plotting a somewhat chaotic course through the more experimental end of alt-rock here, we wouldn’t want it any other way. A genuine artistic triumph.
James Batty

MUCKY PUP
A BOY IN A MAN’S WORLD/ NOW
(I Scream)
Frat boy punk rock re-issue that certainly shows its age.
2/5

Considering the most interesting thing about Mucky Pup was that their guitarist Dan Nastasi went on to play in mid-‘90s rap-hardcore outfit Dog Eat Dog, it’s a bit of a surprise to find the band’s first two albums, from 1989 and 1990, being given a re-release. Even though they’ve joined the seemingly endless list of hardcore bands going on reunion tours, there’s still not much here to make ‘A Boy In A Man’s World’ and ‘Now’ worthy of your attention. Both records are characterised by puerile lyrics and knock-about punk-funk-thrash, sounding not unlike a Beastie Boys-meets-Fishbone mess. Even more underwhelming in 2009 than they were first time around.
Nick Mann

NOFX
COKIE THE CLOWN
(Fat Wreck)
The punk rock jokers return with a 5-track EP.
4/5

Featuring 5 songs recorded during the ‘Coaster’ sessions but didn’t make the record “cuz they were too good!”, these tracks as always combine NOFX’s sense of humour with their ability to write driving melodic punk tunes. ‘Cokie The Clown’ is the best track here, a fast-paced song with both Eric Melvin and Fat Mike singing and lyrics about a drug-obsessed clown, portrayed by Fat Mike on the cover. It’s surprisingly varied, with pop punk (‘Straight Outta Massachusetts’), fast and dark skate punk (‘Codependence Day’) and an emotional and surprisingly sincere acoustic version of ‘Coaster’ album track ‘My Orphan Year’. This EP (also available as two 7”s) is another reminder of why these veterans are still going strong.
Rachel Owen

REVERSE
GLANCE SIDEWAYS
(Damaged Goods)
A refreshing slice of nostalgia from Stock melodic punks.
4/5

Forming in Barlaston, near Stock, in 1990, Reverse split in 1997, leaving behind a musical legacy that sounds as fresh and inspiring today as it did twelve years ago. Containing elements of Snuff, China Drum and a touch of Leatherface (the band would even record a session with Frankie Stubbs shortly before breaking up), the likes of ‘Two Rooms One Door’ and ‘Stem The Slide’ are rich with melody and emotion, straddling the fine line between tuneful and gruff. Fronted by Nick Sharratt, the man himself has provided Damaged Goods with a full history of the band that helps make up the ‘Glance Sideways’ package along with unseen photos and a complete discography. A nice package for an unsung band that are well worthy of your time even now.
Jim Sharples

VARIOUS ARTISTS
TRAPPED IN A SCENE: UK HARDCORE 1985 – 1989
(Cherry Red)
The volatile and varied UKHC sound documented.
4/5

Influenced by everything from the UK82 sound, the DIY anarch punk movement and the thrash/hardcore punk crossover scene, the UK hardcore scene of the ‘80s was an incredibly varied melting pot of energetic and raging bands. This excellent compilation from Cherry Red throws together 31 bands from some of the scene’s finest and most definitive acts (with a mix of classic and obscure songs), including the seminal Napalm Death, Nottingham’s Heresy, melodic hardcore sound of The Stupids, Extreme Noise Terror, Long Cold Stare, Paranoid Visions and many more. This is an exhilarating compilation capturing the sounds of a vibrant underground.
Ian Chaddock

THE VIBRATORS
UNDER THE RADAR
(Captain Oi!)
1976 punk legends still buzzin’.
4/5

Showing no signs of running out of batteries, 1976 100 Club punk legends the Vibrators release their 18th studio album just in time to tour the UK and Europe. The 14 songs contained on ‘Under the Radar’ prove there’s plenty of life in the band yet. From the zombie-loving garage stomp of ‘We’re The Dead’ through to the classic ‘77 sounding punk of ‘Darkness Before Dawn’ and ‘Nightmare Town’, original members Knox and Eddie, plus bassist Pete and former Members guitarist Nigel have released an album every bit worthy of the band’s 33 year legacy. In fact, the searing guitar of the former Members, um, member on ‘Under the Radar’ really adds to the album’s urgency and, with an overall ‘60s feel, it looks like the Vibrators still mean business.
Eugene Big Cheese

X-RAY SPEX
LIVE AT THE ROUNDHOUSE LONDON 2008
(Year Zero)
CD/DVD document of Poly Styrene’s long-awaited return to the stage.
4/5

We’re currently spoiled for choice with punk reunions but the unexpected reactivation of the ‘Spex last year was particularly poignant. While illness and paranoia might have contributed to the band’s implosion back in 1979, the Roundhouse show seems to have proved a happy occasion – a relaxed and smiling Poly Styrene leading her band through an extensive chunk of their catalogue. The savvy humour of tracks like ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’ and ‘The Day The World Turned Dayglo’ still burns brightly. A brace of rare numbers along with the inclusion of  a quality DVD of the show makes for a doubly desirable package.
Hugh Gulland

 

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DECEMBER ISSUE RECORD REVIEWS

13th Floor Elevators
PSYCHEDELIC CIRCUS
Retroworld
****

A live helping of original 60s psychedelia

Compiled from the best of the live recordings of the Texan psyche-pioneers, Psychedelic Circus presents the Elevators in their on-stage glory, a snapshot from the trippy underground of 1966/67. The Elevators took a bluesy strain of garage rock as their staple ingredient but worked a mind-bending lysergic warp into their sound. The sensory trail they mapped out has proved a decisive influence on acts as diverse as Television, Radio Birdman and Spacemen Three, and heard here in its raw live setting, their ongoing appeal is plain. This set includes fine versions of Monkey Island, Fire Engine and Levitation and not least, that perennial garage-band staple, You’re Gonna Miss Me.
Hugh Gulland

Cobra Skulls
American Rubicon
(Red Scare)
Second album from this Reno punkabilly three-piece.
4/5

Cobra Skulls’ 2007 debut album ‘Sitting Army’ was one of the most exciting punk albums of the year so the follow-up is eagerly awaited. Their ‘King Kurt in a fight with Against Me!’ sound is given a more punky leaning on the 17 tracks here. Classic rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks add a new dimension to their sound and the trio’s rousing call-to-arms choruses and pounding rhythms are spot on again. The only thing missing is the humorous lyrical slant of the last album, in favour of a more overtly political attack. If you like a heavy dose of rock ‘n’ roll with your punk rock then this is for you.
Miles Hackett

CROCODILE GOD
NO REGRETS
(Crackle)
New material from ‘90s pop punkers.
3/5

Scousers Crocodile God began peddling nifty pop punk in 1992, racking up some impressive releases, before splitting in 2000. They reformed six years later, and now, hot on the heals of Crackle’s ‘Two Weeks’ CD that rounded up all the band’s back catalogue, here they are with seven new songs, plus three old demo tracks. I’m happy to report that Crocodile God still sound like Green Day with wind behind them and a rocket up their collective arse – what a pretty mental picture. The demo tracks are interesting to hear but rough as hell and mainly demonstrate that, although all the key ingredients were there, the band just needed a good studio.
Shane Baldwin

DANGER’S CLOSE/DESTRUCTORS 666
SCHEIKUNDE
(Rowdy Farrago)
Destructors 666 and friends. Again.
3/5

Rowdy Farrago’s quest for world domination (or at least to swamp the planet in CDs) continues unabated, and this time Destructors 666 team up with Ipswich outfit Danger’s Close. They are, basically, a sturdy and able rock band with some intricate touches, but the male and female vocals have an unappealing, hectoring edge. Destructors 666, meanwhile, return to the original Destructors’ back catalogue, covering ‘Nerve Gas’ and ‘Sewage Worker’ (as an unlisted extra track, clocking in at just 33 seconds). They also give us a new song entitled ‘Saturday Night (Let’s Fight)’ plus a decidedly odd cover of ATV’s ‘Action Time Vision’.
Shane Baldwin

THE DURANGO RIOT
TELEMISSION
(Fuzzorama)
Underground riff-rock gem from the woodlands of Sweden.
4/5

Adding more substance to the plethora of Swedish bands showing themselves to be more than competent rock ‘n’ roll purveyors are The Durango Riot, whose debut full-length belies their infancy. The Durango boys’ delectable mix of grunge, indie and plain ol’ rock penchant for big and simplistic guitar hooks puts them in the same league as QOTSA and Open Hand. The darker moments hint strongly at early Cooper Temple Clause, with ‘Drivers’ incorporating harmonica to add another mystical layer to their moody rock. All in all, ‘Telemission’ is another piece of evidence that when it comes to music, those Swedes are an embraceable bunch of arty perfectionists.
Sam Bethell

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING
(Goner)
Aussies influenced by The Stooges. What could go wrong?
3/5

Once the initial confusion and minor shock has worn off, this racket becomes listenable. This is ECSR’s debut album, first released Oz-side in 2006 and now let loose on the British public for all to hear. Heavily influenced by the likes of the Stooges, the Troggs and other such punk-influencing luminaries and with a garage rock ethic to back it all up, this is oddly compelling, if uninspiring, punk/garage rock. ‘Get Up Morning’ sets the album up perfectly – listen to it and you’ll know whether or not you’ll like the rest of the album. Simple.
Ian Dransfield

FAILURES’ UNION
IN WHAT WAY
(Paper + Plastick)
‘90s indie rock worship from Buffalo, NY.
3/5

Influenced by the likes of The Lemonheads, Gin Blossoms and The Pixies, this trio certainly has an ear for an infectious melody. Featuring current and former members of The Exit Strategy, The Grail and Lemuria, their experience and songwriting skills shine through on this organic and catchy second full-length. While the vocals veer a little too close to Morrissey on ‘The Fall Man’, the female backing vocals add a beautiful depth. The upbeat acoustic sing along ‘Comb’ and the warm guitar tones of ‘Cubist Camo’ are cheery, breezy highlights. This is nothing thrilling but it’s a solid and honest take on a classic sound.
Ian Chaddock

FOO FIGHTERS
GREATEST HITS
(Sony)
Dave Grohl’s rock giants do the ‘best of’ compilation thing.
3/5

With Christmas coming up it’s ‘greatest hits’ time but this seems a little redundant. You should own the Foo Fighters albums already but if you’re only familiar with their hit singles, then this could be for you. With a CD including 13 huge hits and fan favourites, from ‘This Is A Call’ to ‘Long Road To Ruin’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ to ‘Breakout’, as well as two new songs – the almost AOR ‘Wheels’ and ‘Word Forward’, as well as an acoustic version of ‘Everlong’. The accompanying DVD (and book) with the deluxe edition includes music videos and live performances but this is mostly a solid retrospective rather than anything more. Amazing songs though.
John Damon

FU MANCHU
SIGNS OF INFINITE POWER
(Century Media)
Eleventh album from stoner rock veterans.
3/5

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the approach that Californian punk-infused desert rockers Fu Manchu have taken on their new album. Compared to their heyday of ‘In Search Of…’ (1996) and ‘King Of The Road’ (2000), ‘Signs Of Infinite Power’ is merely a solid record rather than anything exciting. While old-school fans may appreciate the band sticking to their guns with the likes of the scuzzy, laid back rocking of ‘Gargantuan March’ and ‘Bionic Astronautics’ and it’s admirable that they haven’t tried to force a new direction into their sound, it’s still a little disappointing that this record seems lacking a spark. Powerful but not infinitely.
John Damon

GOGOL BORDELLO
LIVE FROM AXIS MUNDI
(SideOneDummy)
New York gypsy punks with a live CD/DVD set.
4/5

If you’re a fan of Gogol Bordello then this is a must-have. As well as capturing their live culture clash at New York’s Irving Plaza in 2007, music videos and bonus episodes on the DVD for the first time, the CD collects unreleased tracks together. With fan favourite ‘Troubled Friends’, ‘Stivali E Colbacco’ from the ‘Super Taranta!’ sessions, an instrumental version of ‘Immigrant Punk’, six tracks from their March 2008 BBC sessions and more, this CD/DVD set is a great mix of live material and rarities that gives plenty to the fans to make it a more than worthy release. Wear purple and watch and listen to this.
Rachel Owen

GUITAR SLINGERS
Six String Bandit
(Diablo)
Doyley and all-star mates cover some classics.
4/5

The follow-up to last year’s Guitar Slingers collaboration is an on-going project as Diablo head-honcho Doyley continues to record any rockin’ luminary that gravitates anywhere near his studio. The list this time includes Koefte (Mad Sin), Liz (Deadline), Nigel Lewis, and Jeroen Hammers (Batmobile) as well as some of the best instrumentalists in the current rockin’ scene. This album is excellent, although pretty much all the songs are covers so in content it’s slight weaker than the barnstorming previous one. But don’t let that put you off, these are great artists reworking classic tracks. Album three is already underway so watch this space.
Simon Nott

HEADCASE
GRIME AND PUNISHMENT
(Thirty Days Of Night)
Fun thrash punk with a carefree attitude.
3/5

With a title like that you know this is going to be slightly tongue in cheek. With “slob life” noted as one of Headcase’s influences, you could say that they could be quite hard to categorize. Take thrash punk with plenty of crossovers, and this is what you’ve got: a comical quintet made up of pipe-smoking and Frosty Jack cider drinking lads, who deliver an energetic EP consisting of five tracks that speak about zombies, partying and being grimy. Very fitting. ‘Grime and Punishment’ opens with ‘Bottoms Up/ Pipe Down’ which sets the tone for the duration of the EP; fast paced and infectious is definitely their method. Ending with the title track to seal the deal, these guys really are headcases… in a good way.
Chloe Gillard

The Hostiles
Always Looking Forward
(TNS)
Fun-loving ska from bonny Scotland.
4/5

Infectious and overflowing with energy, The Hostiles are Scotland’s answer to that ‘90s Gainsville ska punk sound we’ve come to know and love, with brass and bratty lyrics abounding on this debut album. Although not widely known outside of their northern territories, the six-piece are no novices when it comes to the big leagues, having played shows with Leftover Crack in addition to an upcoming Mad Caddies support slot. With tons of material still waiting for the studio, don’t be surprised to see a lot more of these rowdy rudie pipers in the near future.
Tom Williams

Rowland S Howard
POP CRIMES
Liberation
****
Former Birthday Party guitarist breaks a long silence

It’s ten years since Rowland S Howard last broke cover with some new material, so no prizes for the work rate. For its tardiness though, Pop Crimes finds the post-punk legend with his instincts sharply honed; clambering the chasm between the darkest blues and the bittersweet dramas of sixties girl pop, Howard wrenches the sound of frayed nerves from his battlescarred Fender Jag. Trading verses with HTRK’s Jonnine Standish on Girl Called Jonny, the artist stakes a claim as a disreputable modern-day Lee Hazelwood, an impression born out on cuts such as Ave Maria or Wayward Man. The title cut itself is a masterpiece of lurching distopian dread underlined by Rowland’s signature guitar twang. It’s too long since we last heard this; here’s hoping the old reprobate stays motivated.
Hugh Gulland

INVASION
THE MASTER ALCHEMIST
(This Is Music)
London psych metallers get scuzzy.
3/5

One thing you can’t accuse this three-piece of being is generic. With their sludgy, scuzzy guitar sound (using only a three stringed guitar!), the high-pitched soul-sounding vocals of Chan Brown and aggressive drumming make this a thrilling and refreshing debut. Heavy in a way that’s not tired and overplayed, this album is bursting with a raw energy and imagery of wizards, dragons and fantasy subjects. ‘Spells Of Deception’, ‘Conjure War’ and ‘Evil Forest’ are all highlights. Recorded on analogue in four days and played entirely live, this is one trip that fans of Hawkwind and Monster Magnet have to take. The Invasion has begun…
John Damon

KING KURT
Ooh Wallahwallah
(Jungle)
Classic Stiff album with bonus tracks and bonus DVD.
5/5

It gets top marks because you couldn’t wish for a better value package than this. Of course you have to like King Kurt to like but there are plenty of reasons to love the sax honking, guitar twanging bequiffed madness. This was the album that launched the early ‘80s King Kurt phenomenon that even bothered the UK pop charts and culminated in an appearance on Top Of The Pops. The messy, infectious nature of King Kurt is captured here in all its glory, both with the album and 7 bonus single tacks, including the bombastic ‘Wreck A Party Rock’. The DVD features really rare footage, proving why they’re legends almost 30 years after their formation. Nuts!
Simon Nott

THE LAWRENCE ARMS
BUTTSWEAT AND TEARS
(Fat Wreck)
Chicago punks celebrate 10-year anniversary with anthemic EP.
5/5

Over the last decade The Lawrence Arms have released five albums of dual-vocaled gritty yet melodic punk. With their latest full-length, 2006’s ‘Oh! Calcutta!’, arguably their finest effort to date, this EP (the idea and title of which was thought up when the band formed) lives up to that high standard. ‘Spit Shining Shit’ and ‘Them Angels Been Talkin’’ are energetic and gritty blasts, ‘The Slowest Drink…’ is slightly more introspective and ‘The Redness In The West’ has a country influenced opening. Digital only track ‘Demons’ sounds like a track from Brendan Kelly’s side project The Falcon. Not many bands sound this fresh and exciting ten years in. Kudos guys.
Ian Chaddock

LE RENO AMPS
TEAR IT OPEN
(Drift)
Glaswegian rockabilly punk rock excellence.
4/5

The debut album form four-piece Le Reno Amps comes as a refreshing slap in the face. ‘Outlaws’ jitters and smashes whilst telling of inevitable destruction. If the Cramps met Green Day, ‘Outlaws’ would be the result. This album plays out in two ways. The first is the Johnny Cash folk-stomp of ‘If You Want A Lover’ that matches tight harmonies with dark messages and clanging bass. Route two is the balls out, Proclaimers pissing on the White Stripes rock of ‘The Gilded Road’, which sounds like a ho-down in the deep South. It’s rare for a band to make upbeat anthems sound dangerous and still fun, yet Le Reno Amps do exactly that.
Jonathan Falcone

LONEWOLVES
CARCAROTH
(Thirty Days Of Night)
Harmonious heavy hardcore.
4/5

This five track EP may be another hardcore release but it’s definitely not the same old bullshit you’ll hear time and time again. ‘Carcaroth’ opens with ‘The Paper Over The Cracks’, a three-minute instrumental that will leave you craving for more. ‘Stonehill’ produces a raw rage that fans of Gallows will enjoy, ending with the ironic lyric “I need silence in my head” as they batter their instruments and shred their voices. The intensity of Lonewolves’ onslaught is nothing short of staggering. The changing tempo of the crushing guitar solos is what keeps the album’s black heart beating. This EP is definitely music to my ears.
Chloe Gillard

Masters Of Reality
Pine
(Brownhouse)
New album from Chris Goss’ psychedelic legends.
4/5

It must be almost 21 years since the highly-revered Masters Of Reality unleashed their debut album to much critical acclaim. Frontman Chris Goss has since produced stoner rock legends like Kyuss and QOTSA, so it’s unsurprising that the Masters are only now releasing their sixth album. ‘Pine’ is a tripped out journey through desert and sky, twisting via ‘60s psychedelia and the Palm Springs desert rock scene. This album will no doubt appeal to fans of Hawkwind, Cream (of whom drummer Ginger Baker was once a member) and getting stoned. An odd record that is a bit of a square peg in a round hole, it’s interesting enough to devote your time to.
Miles Hackett

MUTILATORS
She Put The Baby In The Microwave
(Stroked And Bored)
And they fucked a zombie and wrote a gay love song for Nick 13!
5/5

This is twisted and brilliant. Mutilators hail from San Francisco and have embraced the essential element that is missing from a lot of modern psychobilly – humour. The title track is hilarious and ‘Gay Love Song For Nick 13’ isn’t giving the great man a hoot as you might presume. ‘I Fucked A Zombie’ is pummelled along with a glorious slap bass with just the right tempo to perform that sick act. Thankfully it doesn’t rely on gimmicks and shocks, that’s just an added bonus in an album brimming with great psychobilly tunes. Track this down!
Simon Nott

THE PLIGHT
WINDS OF OSIRIS
(Visible Noise)
Debut full-length from gritty Leeds hardcore rockers.
4/5

What happens when you get a band that seems to love the rawest of classic metal and rock as much as feral punk and hardcore? The mutated snarling beast that’s born as a result is The Plight. Despite taking a few songs to find their feet, with the first couple of tracks stumbling along, before they stand tall and proud with the likes of the groove-laden hard rock of ‘Into The Night’ and the instrumental ‘70s love of ‘Lifted To The Sun’. From then on you get elements of doom, prog, metal and hardcore that gels brilliantly and is pretty fresh. Like Sabbath and The Bronx in a punch up, The Plight are fighting dirty.
John Damon

The Rats
SECOND LONG PLAYER RECORD
Vanishing Point
3/5
Junk shop glam artifact recently uncovered

One of many never-made-its of seventies pop, David ‘Kubie’ Kubinek has a long and convoluted discography behind him, of which this 10-song set seems to be a hitherto missing piece. Recorded at Trident Sound in 1974 with no subsequent release, the master tapes then disappeared forever. This release was remastered from a cassette copy and doesn’t sound too bad for it. The Rats seem to have straddled the divide between 70s rock and bubblegum glam, and on evidence of this recording may well have gone further; Second Long Player is hardly the classic lost album the sleeve notes would seem to suggest, and there’s nothing here to equal their ace Turtle Dove 45, but for an also-ran it’s an interesting enough slice of pop history with a certain period charm to it.
Hugh Gulland

REBELATION
THE BERLIN SESSION
(Do The Dog)
Ska kings strike back with a new singer.
5/5

After the announcement that vocalist Sharon Devenish was leaving the band, the future of trad-ska warlords Rebelation seemed set for undesirable change. Fortunately, fellow Do The Dog patron Ruby Taylor has stepped up to the mark and this 5-track mini album is the first evidence of this brand new partnership. Recorded over two days during 2008, The Berlin Session captures the band at their most spontaneous and as usual, their trademark rocksteady style is delivered with aplomb. Taylor’s addition is more than welcome and her crisp, soulful harmonies dance alongside the reggae riddim in perfect cadence. A perfect addition to a lazy afternoon and a teaser taste of brilliant things to come.
Tom Williams

RUINER
HELL IS EMPTY
(Bridge Nine)
Bleak second album from Baltimore’s hardcore punk bruisers.
4/5

Recorded with the mighty J. Robbins (Against Me!, Modern Life Is War) in their hometown, if you’ve ever watched a season of ‘The Wire’ you’ll understand why this Baltimore-based bunch aren’t the cheeriest guys. Themes of desolation, disillusionment and self-loathing abound on ‘Hell Is Empty’, which sees vocalist Rob Sullivan at his darkest lyrically, with his raw, gravely (yet still clear) vocals grating against downbeat but melodic hardcore music. This album sees the band up their game with a record that fuses hardcore, punk and rock into a snarling beast that will appeal to fans of all these genres. Highlights over the 10 ten tracks include the declarations of despair ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Solitary’ and the confrontational ‘Two Words’. Embrace the negative.
John Damon

SLADE
LIVE AT THE BBC
(Salvo/Union Square)
Priceless early Slade, live and very loud.
5/5

Slade’s glitter rock heyday may have guaranteed them a household name but, prior to their stomp-along hit singles, there was an unacknowledged backlog of material from their formative years. This gives a rare insight into the band’s development, from late-‘60s live-circuit contenders to glam rock ‘70s chartbusters. Through the stylistic meanderings of their early BBC appearances, their live energy is apparent, not to mention their increasing confidence in their own material; originals such as ‘Dirty Joker’ and ‘Raven’ are early indicators of Slade’s massive potential. By the time of the live set on disc two (1972), the hits are coming thick and fast, and Slade have truly found their identity.
Hugh Gulland

STELLAR CORPSES
Welcome To The Nightmare
(Fiendforce)
Excellent darkness from sunny California.
JJJJ

The Stellar Corpses play a very American take on psychobilly. The standards of a whacked-the-hell-out-of slap bass and rockabilly guitar are there in abundance but there is a definite AFI-esque horror punk crossover going on here. It’s hardly surprising when you consider the label that they are on. Big choruses and sweeping arrangements are coupled with deeper than your average psycho lyrics, whilst not smothering the rockabilly undercarriage. If this was given the airplay it undoubtedly deserves Stellar Corpses could easily find their fan base much wider.
Simon Nott

STRAWBERRY BLONDES
FIGHT BACK
(Not On Your Radio)
One of the finest UK punk albums in years? Quite possibly.
4/5

Standing proud in the face of today’s abundance of pop rock bands and side-partings, Newport’s Strawberry Blondes are resolutely punk rock to their very core. Influenced by the likes of The Clash they’re also immediately identifiable as a UK band, from their accents down to their gleeful mixing of genres such as punk, hardcore, ska and reggae. Bringing to mind the feel good vibes of a Rancid album, ‘Fight Back’ (the follow up to
‘Rise Up’ flits between rough and ready street punk anthems such as ‘Goodbye Inspiration’ to groove heavy, head-nodding reggae numbers. Not content to plough the same tired furrow, the Blondes have aimed for the stars with their second album – and reached them with ease.
Rachel Owen

STRUNG OUT
AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND
(Fat Wreck)
Californian punk veterans celebrate their 20th anniversary in style.
4/5

It’s crazy to think that these seminal metal-infused skate punks have been around for so long. This is their seventh studio album and it’s their strongest album for some time. While 2007’s ‘Blackhawks Over Los Angeles’ sounded like they were resting on their laurels, tracks such as opener ‘Black Crosses’, ‘Ghetto Heater’ and ‘The Fever And The Sound’ show that they’ve rediscovered their urgency and infectious melodic punk sound. Melding the speed of 1996’s skate punk classic ‘Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues’ with the musicianship of 1998’s ‘Twisted By Design’, while playing down the metal influence that often ruins their sound in my opinion. Melodic/skate punk fans rejoice, Strung Out are back to their best!
Rachel Owen

VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Best Of Western Star Psychobilly Vol 1
(Step 1)
Rocking and varied taster of right here, right now.
4/5

I’m not sure why this is on Step 1 and not Western Star but, whatever the reason, it’s a decent sampler of what is being pumped out of Alan Wilson’s studio week in, week out. There are 19 tracks here, ranging from Lord Sutch covers from old-school legends Frenzy and The Sharks to the steaming fresh songs from the likes of The Eyelids and Henry and the Bleeders. There are 18 artists strutting their stuff. The Frantic Flintstones’ closing stomper ‘Westerland’ is little short of epic.
Simon Nott

VARIOUS ARTISTS
MAINSTREAM MUSIC IS SHIT
(TNS)
Ska punk comp bursting with underground energy
5/5

Another riotous release from Manchester’s A-1 ska punk machine That’s Not Skanking, ‘Mainstream Music Is Shit’ marks the label’s second pick-and-mix record and features a generous 37 tracks of independent and unsigned bands from all over the UK. From their own homegrown punk fare like Stand Out Riot and The Fractions, to the cream of Do The Dog (and others), like Jimmy The Squirrel and Rasta4Eyes, and just a whisper of psychobilly from The Hyperjax to top it off, there’s little more to ask from this ambitious release. This clearly shows that the fires of the underground are still burning strong. True punk rock talent in its rawest form.
Tom Williams

VARIOUS ARTISTS
SAINTS AND SINNERS
(Wolverine)
Genre-spanning punk rock comp from Germany.
5/5

Preserving Germany’s unrivaled reputation for the world’s best punk ‘n’ roll are Wolverine, a record company conceived in 1992 with now over 150 sleazy releases under their belts. ‘Saints And Sinners’ is a 21-track showcase of their finest fare, with sounds changing from paddy-punk to horrorbilly and from swing to ska in pleasing succession. Notable tracks include ‘Revolution Radio’ from new UK signees Strawberry Blondes, along with Pipes And Pipes (AKA the European Dropkick Murphys) with their salty ode ‘City By The See’, but to be honest, pretty much every track is a winner in its own way. This writer may have fallen in love with Wolverine, and it’s only partly due to the name!
Tom Williams

WORN IN RED
IN THE OFFING
(No Idea)
Virginian hardcore rockers with powerful debut.
4/5

Hailing from the seemingly rich punk scene of Richmond, VA, this album is full of the kind of raw, throat shredding post-hardcore that you know is absolutely blistering live. You can’t argue with a debut album that’s as intense and passionate as this. The likes of ‘When People Have Something To Say’ and ‘Mise En Abyme’ combine intricate musicianship, melodic guitar lines and driving rhythms with incredible, gravel-gargling screamed vocals that naturally fit the music’s ebb and flow. Fans of Planes Mistaken For Stars, Attack! Vipers! and Glass And Ashes should definitely check this out. Turn it up to full volume and listen until your ears bleed.
Ian Chaddock

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NOVEMBER ISSUE RECORD REVIEWS

THE BOMB
SPEED IS EVERYTHING
(No Idea)
Naked Raygun frontman’s melodic punk band unleash eclectic second album.
4/5
Vocalist Jezz Pezzati is a Chicago punk legend and this band, completed by former/current members of The Methadones and The Story So Far (amongst others) are somewhat of a supergroup. The follow-up to 2006’s ‘Indecision’ lets Pezzati’s distinctive vocals shine over punchy and experimental songs with nods to Husker Du, Samiam and Fugazi. The anthemic ‘Not Christmas Night’ and the powerful, more hardcore ‘Integrity’, featuring guest vocals from Paint It Black’s Dan Yemin, are highlights, although the mellow cover of A Flock Of Seagulls’ ‘Space Age Love Song’ is odd. With more guest vocals from Braid’s Bob Nanna and expansive production from J. Robbins (Against Me!, None More Black), this is a rewarding sonic journey.
Ian Chaddock

CHOPPER
STATIC
(Crackle)
Punchy ‘90s pop punk reissued.
4/5
Chopper, from Wakefield, were the first band signed to Crackle, releasing the label’s inaugural 7” in 1994, the basic but endearing ‘Said And Done’ EP. The band then recorded two rather rushed tracks, ‘My New Name’ and ‘Sad Sixteen’, for a Japanese compilation on Snuffy Smile entitled ‘Best Punk Rock In England, Son’, setting Chopper up with a relationship with the country that eventually led to two tours of Japan. The following year’s ‘Self Preservation Society’ was a massive improvement, zipping along and packed with poppy goodness. The band honed their sound to near perfection, with releases on various labels, before splitting in 1998, and here you get the lot, plus informative sleeve notes.
Shane Baldwin

THE CUBICAL
COME SING THESE CRIPPLED TUNES
(Dead Young)
Sleazy dirty blues from….the north of England?
4/5
Everything about this album sounds like it should be from the smoky depths of a whiskey soaked bar in New Orleans, with singer Dan Wilson’s spine-chilling, soulful vocals from the gutter rising out of blues infused, psychedelic tracks. It’s almost impossible to imagine this moody band hail from Liverpool. This is a trembling and yet raucous collection of songs, such as the lulling bitterness of ‘Everything You Touch’ and the debut single ‘Like Me, I’m A Peacock’. Think Tom Waits mixed with the Detroit Cobras into a heady cocktail. Lovely stuff.
Sarah Cakebread

THE DONNAS
GREATEST HITS VOL. 16
(Purple Feather)
The female Ramones return with a ‘retrospective’ album.
3/5
Ah, the Donnas. They’ll just always be around, won’t they? And this eighth studio release is more of a treat than a new album. The band have re-recorded some of their old material, not necessarily a good thing as some of the tracks sounded better in their rougher incarnation. However, there are two new songs on here (well as new as a Donnas song can sound), and some unreleased b-sides. The highlight is the live version of ‘Take It Off’, which shows what a tight live band these girls are. It’s far from essential, but fans will dig it. It’s nice to know they’re still around.
Tracey Lowe

ELECTRIC EEL SHOCK
SUGOI INDEED
(Rodeostar)
It means ‘amazing’ and it’s true.
4/5
The Japanese veteran garage rock trio are back with another scuzzy album of AC/DC, Sabbath and QOTSA worship. What makes Electric Eel Shock so special is that their songs revel in the fun and excess of rock ‘n’ roll and ‘Sugoi Indeed’ is no different. The stomping, bi-lingual ‘Out Of Control’, complete with fret-bothering guitar solo and trademark heavy accents, is a beast, as are opener ‘Metal Man’ and the brilliantly titled ‘No Shit Sherlock’. This is the sound of EES doing what they do best and we wouldn’t want it any other way. The final verdict? Sugoi!
John Damon

THE FALL
LAST NIGHT AT THE PALAIS
(Universal)
Mark E Smith, live and bloody-minded
4/5
30 years and who knows how many albums into his career, the Fall’s Mark E Smith remains as prickly, uncompromising and difficult as ever. This record captures Smith with one of a long line of Fall line ups, subjecting his audience at the legendary (but doomed) venue to an hour-plus of his misanthropic mutterings. Crowd-pleasing has never been a Smith priority; golden greats are conspicuous by their absence.  This is two discs’ worth of the Fall doing what they do – pared-down metronomic arrangements. The Palais will doubtless go down in history for other gigs, but in terms of pure attitude, they can’t have put many on as real as this one.
Hugh Gulland

THE FEELIES
CRAZY RHYTHMS / THE GOOD EARTH
(Domino)
Influential guitar pop outfit reissued
3/5 / 4/5
At least partially responsible for shaping the indie rock template in the early ‘80s, these New Jersey boys peddled a smart line in tuneful hooks and understated melody, passing the inter-generational baton between successive waves of alt-rockers. Their 1980 debut ‘Crazy Rhythms’ proved a major influence on REM and pointed the way for that decade’s indie-janglers, but if anything the 1986 follow-up ‘The Good Earth’ was the more fully-realized album of the pair. Redolent of the likes of Jonathan Richman and Lou Reed with its clean-channelled guitars and snappy song writing, it’s an intelligently tuneful excursion, and a rare missing-link pop rock treasure.
Hugh Gulland

THE GEARS
ROCKIN’ AT GROUND ZERO
(HepCat)
5/5
Lovingly repackaged twin CD (featuring overlooked sister band, D.I.s on the second) gives us a glimpse of LA in the early 80s. Somewhere between Rank And File, Fleshtones and the Blasters, the Gears melched big beat swing-blues with punk snarl and snap – though they were always a more good-natured proposition than some of their misanthropic peers. They had impeccable credentials too, drawing members from early LA Masque scene bands the Controllers and Shakers. Rockin’ At Ground Zero has always been something of a lost classic, caught between distinct waves of Cali-punk, but it’s great to hear songs like ‘Teenage Brain’ and the original 45 version of ‘Let’s Go To The Beach’ again – think the Ramones with surfboards.
Alex Ogg

THE HOTLINES
THE HOTLINES
(Devils Jukebox)
Brighton bubblegum and beach lovin’ pop punk debut.
4/5
The Hotlines sound like the Ramones (circa ‘Rocket From Russia’) and the Beach Boys (circa ‘Surf’s Up’) going head to head on the waves. Having released a split 7" with the Queers, this full-length proves why this four-piece are kicking up such a fuss amongst true pop punk fans. Songs such as ‘The Way She Walks’ and ‘Psycho Girl’ are guaranteed to take up residence in your brain and have you "woah-oh-oh-oh"ing along. Like discarded bubblegum has stuck together all the catchiest tunes from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, this is sun-soaked pop punk fun that is guaranteed to make you long for summer to return. Grab your surfboard punk!
Rachel Owen

LUCIFER STAR MACHINE
STREET VALUE ZERO
(Nicotine)
Second album success for London sleaze rockers.
4/5
A lot of bands, no matter how good, suffer from what’s known as ‘the difficult second album’ syndrome. There’s no such problem where LSM are concerned. Four years after their debut, and with some heavy touring and a few personnel changes under their belt, they’re back – leaner and meaner. After a short ‘Introfucktion’ it’s down to business with ‘Devil On A Rampage’. Their tried and tested brand of Hellacopters brawling with The Misfits rock ‘n’ roll remains intact, with a hint of street punk added for good measure. ‘City Low Life’ with it’s “Kick in the Bollocks, slap in the face’ refrain is an unforgettable highlight.
Lee Cotterell

ORANGE
PHOENIX
(Hellcat)
Tried and tested pop rock.
3/5
On their third album for Hellcat, Orange are refreshed with a new line-up – hence the title ‘Phoenix’. With a positive outlook and a sound somewhat akin to that of Lit, Orange have come up with a collection of catchy, happy rock songs. Perhaps a little middle of the road and a touch dated, this is still a record of feel-
good, solid songs with a pop tinge. Singer Joe Dexter croons over alternating sections of jangly ska-esque guitars and searing full-on riffs. Some tracks have a more punk edge but presiding over all are the melodious vocals. These are infectious tunes that you’re not likely to forget in a hurry.
Sarah Maynard

OUR TIME DOWN HERE
LIVE. LOVE. LET GO.
(Banquet)
Southampton melodic hardcore boys unleash explosive debut full-length.
4/5
With The Steal calling it a day, OTDH are set to keep the flame of UK melodic hardcore burning bright. Their love of Kid Dynamite and Comeback Kid evident on fast-paced pit-fillers such as opener ‘Flip-Up Caps And Crew Neck Sweats’ and the future live favourite ‘Curtain Call’, they’ve also got some tricks up their sleeves. Energetic but melodic anthems such as ‘Big Guys Throw Cones’ and the stunning ‘Calendar’ show a Lifetime influence and a marked progression in Will Gould’s vocals, while ‘You Fucking Tragedy’ has an acoustic sing along at the end. Guest vocals are provided by members of The Steal, The Don Ramos Players and Sonic Boom Six. More varied and confident than their ‘Revelations’ EP, OTDH have grown into true contenders… and you know it!
Ian Chaddock

PAMA INTERNATIONAL
PAMA OUTERNATIONAL
(Rockers Revolt)
Sunshine summoning vibes from souled-out ska crew.
5/5
Doing their level best to summon some of the Jamaican sunshine to the gloomy streets of the UK, Pama International mix up reggae, ska and Stax-style soul on ‘Pama Outernational’. Mashing together the 1960s and 1970s and bringing them bang up to date on the likes of ‘Are We Saved Yet?’ and ‘Still I Wait’. Marrying dub to reggae on the likes of ‘Happenstance’ and ‘I Still Love You More’, Finny and The Specials’ Lynval Golding crank the vibes vocally while band leader Sean Flowerdew splashes organ lines all over the shop, backed by a hefty rhythmic force that really gives the speakers a proper workout. The first band to sign to the legendary Trojan Records in thirty years, Pama set up their own label last year, proving that with their DIY spirit, tenacity and great tunes there’s nowhere they can’t go.
Tim Grayson

PARADISE LOST
FAITH DIVIDES US – DEATH UNITES US
(Century Media)
Gloom golems return to the dark path.
4/5
After making music to drown kittens to for over 20 years, gothic metal pioneers Paradise Lost are back with their eagerly anticipated follow-up to ‘In Requiem’, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. In fact, the Halifax based veterans take us on a journey back in time to the days of  ‘Icon’ and ‘Draconian Times’. Without a doubt, this is the heaviest I have heard the band, but their catchy, swooning melancholia is still present – just check out the excellently cheerless ‘I Remain’ – but, overall, it seems Nick Holmes and chums have made an album that unites every element of their career; an enveloping album of metal misery.
Bruce Turnbull

PERE UBU
LONG LIVE PERE UBU
(Cooking Vinyl)
Ubu delve into their theatrical roots.
3/5
Always on the more experimental fringe of the US wave of punks, Pere Ubu – whose revolving line-up currently includes the formidable chanteuse Sarah Jane Morris – go ferreting back to their formative influences by constructing an album around the bizarre stage play from which they originally took their name, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. The result is a jarring and unsettling work, a claustrophobic tale of amoral ambition; Ubu mainman David Thomas plays the suggestible usurper, with Morris working an impressive Lady Macbeth job on him at every turn. Jarry’s original play provoked riots at its early performances, and Ubu’s musical reinterpretation is unhinged enough to do it suitable justice.
Hugh Gulland

PISSED JEANS
KING OF JEANS
(Sub Pop)
Claustrophobic and heavy but weirdly uplifting heartfelt grunge punk.
4/5
This kicks you right in the chops from the start and promises to be a brutal, up-tempo grunge bomb that goes off in your ears. It starts promisingly and and powers along for the first third or so of the album. Then it begins to implode, whic isn’t a bad thing if your bag is churning, grinding riffage – intended musical claustrophobia that sums up the feeling of songs like ‘Spent’ perfectly. By the time the last track rolled into the first again unnoticed on my player I had to listen to it all over to just feel normal again.
Simon Nott

RAT ATTACK
THIS IS ART
(Lockjaw)
Exeter hardcore punk ‘n’ roll destruction.
4/5
Hailing from the same city as The Computers and The Cut Ups, it’s no surprise that this four-piece’s new EP is a raucous, no holds barred attack on the senses. A collision of classic American hardcore and more modern punk and rock influences, these six tracks are scuzzy, frantic assaults that any fans of Gallows and Comeback Kid will lap up. Dre Amesbury’s vocals are savage and the crew shouts and hectic riffing and rhythms on the title track and the suitably titled ‘Lets End The World’ could see Rat Attack propelled to the upper realms of the UK hardcore punk scene. A true rager.
John Damon

THE RAVEONETTES
IN AND OUT OF CONTROL
(Fierce Panda)
Danish pop perfection.
5/5
If there’s ever been a finer pop album than In And Out Of Control, then it must be truly wonderful, because The Raveonettes’ fourth effort is an absolute joy.  Opener ‘Bang!’ is the best summer sing-along you’ve never heard – and as the title suggests is a sure-fire hit. Similarly ‘Last Dance’ is a gorgeous love song. Better still, there’s a seriousness throughout that adds considerable depth to the album – making it far more than just a disposable ‘pop’ record. Beautifully layered, textured and performed, The Raveonettes have unleashed a stellar album that references everything from Spector to Buddy Holly to Abba. Losing control’s never sounded so good…
Rob Mair

REHASHER
HIGH SPEED ACCESS TO MY BRAIN
(Paper + Plastick)
Second album of fast-paced punk melodies from LTJ man’s side-project.
4/5
I loved Rehasher’s ripping 2004 debut ‘Off Key Melodies’ with Roger Manganelli’s (also of Less Than Jake) soaring, powerful vocals and speeding skate punk songs. Five years on Rehasher have produced a very similar sophomore effort. Speeding, positive opener ‘Turn Around’, the anthemic ‘My Compass Must Be Broken’ and the passionate ‘Lose My Limits’ are stand-outs and, although it’s hardly fresh, a track called ‘Out Of Ideas’ pokes fun at themselves (and hardcore breakdowns bizarrely). The less said about the closing cover of Blondie’s ‘Hanging On The Telephone’ the better but, overall, these high speed tunes will definitely have no problem gaining access to your brain.
Ian Chaddock

THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT
LAUGHIN’ AND CRYIN’ WITH THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT
(Yep Roc)
The Rockin’ Rev’s back with a vengeance
5/5
After a bit of a sojourn and some Hammond organ based shenanigans with Rev Organ Drum, the good Reverend has strapped on his Gretsch and got back to playing good time rock ‘n’ roll. This is easily the best thing he’s done in years, upping the country and western influences and making good use of his trademark wry sense of humour. There’s not a duff track to be found here and if songs like ‘Just Let Me Hold My Paycheck’, ‘Beer Holder’ and ‘Death Metal Guys’ don’t bring a smile to your face, then nothing will.
Lee Cotterell

RUSTY SPRINGFIELD
FIST N SHOUT
(Motorsounds)
Minimalist, scuzzed up garage rock.
4/5
Bath based trio Rusty Springfield formed in 2005, apparently as a result of a fateful meeting in the medical tent at Reading Festival. They play dirty garage rock ‘n’ roll and sound like the consummation of an unholy wedding between The Cramps and The Stooges presided over by Jon Spencer. The snappily titled short sharp songs (‘Anti-Psychotic Medication’, ‘Rusty Springfield Declare War’, ‘Pest-A-Cide’) are over in the blink of an eyelid and they keep the lyrics to a minimum. With 10 songs weighing in at just over 18 minutes (now that’s punk rock!) they are the antithesis of those bands currently embracing the excesses of prog-rock and are all the better for it.
Lee Cotterell

SEDATIVES
SEDATIVES
(Deranged)
Catchy as hell keyboard-driven garage punk.
4/5
Hailing from Ottawa and playing punk/power pop with a respectful nod to ‘60s garage. They’ve been favourably compared to a whole host of the bands including Murder City Devils, TSOL and 45 Grave and I would add The Damned circa ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, The AKAs and, on the slower numbers (not that there are many), The Prisoners. The pace is frantic and they’ve got some great tunes but it’s that big Hammond organ sound that really sets them apart, particularly on the intro to ‘Cannot Calm Down’.  This music could have been made at any point in the last 30 years, sounding timeless rather than dated, and that’s a good reason to give ‘em a listen.
Lee Cotterell

SHUDDER TO THINK
LIVE FROM HOME
(Team Love)
Legendary ex-Dischord band release live material from 2008 reunion.
4/5
Last year, 10 years after the seminal DC post-hardcore band originally broke up, Shudder To Think reunited due to popular demand and played some rousing shows – some of which are captured on this live album. This album manages to get away with the live angle that are the downfall of so many live albums by being well recorded and performed by excellent musicians. Any band that has ever been associated with Dischord is going to have a killer live show and STT’s angular alt-rock translates well on ‘Live From Home’. The songs even grow more intense, track by track. Certainly an interesting listen.
Sarah Maynard

SKIMMER
SMITTEN
(Crackle)
Cheery ‘90s pop punk reissued.
3/5
This double CD set traces the career of UK pop punks Skimmer, from their debut 1994 single ‘Better Than Being Alone’, produced by Mega City Four bassist Gerry Bryant, to the 1998 ‘Vexed’ album. You also get all the band’s singles, EPs, split tracks and four 1993 demos, as well as five songs that accidentally made their way onto the CD version of ‘Vexed’. So, pretty comprehensive then. As the title track of this collection hails from their 1995 ‘Happy’ EP, it’s no surprise that it sounds quite like early Green Day but, on the whole, Skimmer were more lightweight and quirky, with eccentric, high-pitched vocals. Still rather good though.
Shane Baldwin

THE SPITS
THE SPITS
(Recess)
Portland fuzzed up scuzzy punks with fourth self-titled album.
3/5
What happens when The Misfits, The Ramones and Devo get wasted and drunkenly decide to loosely jam out fuzzy, crazy songs that rarely break the 2-minute mark? The Spits, that’s what. Hailing back to the first wave of US pop punk, (thanks to a raw,  retro production from Rocket From The Crypt legend John Reis) and infusing it with subtle synth and tunes about the police, aliens and a futuristic metropolis, this fun album is over in under 20 minutes and is as simple as it gets. Maybe that’s the genius? It isn’t life changing but it brilliantly spits in the eye of all the sanitised modern ‘punk’ out there.
Ian Chaddock

THE STEADY BOYS
ROOTS
(Do The Dog)
Pretty ska punk to please the old-school lovers.
2/5
For fans of all that Do The Dog releases, The Steady Boys will be right up your street. It’s happy-go-lucky punk that stays on the edgier side of ska, like early Streetlight Manifesto. ‘Rewind The Mess’ is a sweeter track that sees the north east foursome demonstrate their enjoyable vocal skills – this isn’t spit-in-your-face punk. In fact it’s all rather pleasant and harmonious, apart from ‘Dead End Jobs’ which seems to hint at a Clash and Specials influence. It’s your usual fare of shout-along choruses and driving tunes that punk rock fans will lap up.
Sarah Cakebread

TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET
THEY CAME FROM THE SHADOWS
(Fat Wreck)
Leather jacketed, black-clad Wyoming pop punks with mighty fourth album.
5/5
Fans of pop punk greats such as the Ramones, Screeching Weasel and The Ergs! need this album. What makes Teenage Bottlerocket stand out from the other three-chord rebels is the strength of their hooks and their irrepressible urgency and power. This effort is their finest to date, relentlessly blasting out anthemic choruses and catchy guitar lines on songs about ’80s skating (‘Skate Or Die’) and insulting Detroit glam rockers (‘Bigger Than Kiss’). There are even nods to The Misfits (‘Forbidden Planet’) and ‘80s hardcore (‘Fatso Goes Nutzoid’). In fact, there’s no filler on this lean and infectious record. A strong contender for pop punk album of the year.
Ian Chaddock

VARIOUS ARTISITS
PAID IN BLACK II (TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY CASH)
(Wolverine)
It’s official – everyone loves Johnny Cash.
3/5
It’s hard to believe just how many artists from so many different genres the late king of rebel country influenced. No matter how old they there are or how far removed their music is from Cash’s, they all love him. It’s no surprise then that this is a tribute to the man in black from a whole host of bands loosely pigeon-holed as horror punk. Well I suppose they wear black too. Half of these covers are okay, others feel like the band just went along with it to get on the album. I’m off to put on a Sun record.
Simon Nott

VARIOUS ARTISTS
PUNK VOLUME III
(Concrete Jungle)
Fine punk ‘n’ roll compilation.
4/5
German label Concrete Jungle are certainly a classy outfit, with an impressive roster and high production values, and this is borne out by this, their latest compilation of punk ‘n’ roll. Stand-out tracks include Rejected Youth’s boisterous ‘Black Army’, Ashers’ chugging ‘Cold Dark Place’, Shark Soup’s brooding ‘Dark Stars Inc.’, Riot Brigade’s fast ‘n’ furious ‘Nationalism Sucks’, Stockyard Stoics’ almost plaintive ‘Land Of Opportunity’ and the mighty Filaments’ superb ‘Brainwash’. But honestly, there isn’t a duffer to be found here. Impressive indeed, especially in these dark days.
Shane Baldwin

VIC RUGGIERO
ON THE RAG TIME
(Silver)
He’s playing ragtime and has played with Rancid. So you’ll like it?
3/5
It’s weird and wonderful what you get sent to review, this is a guy playing ragtime style piano. Something like this wouldn’t normally get a sniff of a review in a rock mag, the difference of course is that this guy is Vic Ruggiero, best known as a Slackers member and someone who played keyboards on several Rancid albums as well as with the Transplants. Okay so you have to respect the guy and you may well love this old time piano playing with basic accompaniment but don’t expect to just because of his credentials. 
Simon Nott

 

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SEPTEMBER ALBUM REVIEWS

AGAINST ME!
THE ORIGINAL COWBOY
(Fat Wreck)
Cash-in release of the demo versions of the classic ‘As The Eternal Cowboy’ album.
4/5
While everyone waits with bated breath to see what’s next for Florida punkers Against Me!, Fat Wreck have decided to release the demo version of their second album to ease the wait. This was originally heavily leaked on the internet and the buzz it created back then has deemed it worthy of release now. Surprisingly, for demo material, the production isn’t half bad. Eight of the eleven tracks from ‘Eternal Cowboy’ are here in raw form, the only radical difference being that the version of  ‘Unsubstantiated Rumours’ has an entirely different arrangement. This may largely appeal to the bands hardcore fan base but it is a classic album and having two versions of it in any record collection is fine by me.
Miles Hackett

THE BAKESYS
RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE BAKESYS!
(Do The Dog)
2tone-tinged joy straight outta Newbury.
4/5
Retaining a devoted following since their birth in the early nineties, Newbury ska revival masters The Bakesys, who included Pama International vocalist Finny and Do The Dog’s own Kevin Flowerdew on electric ivories, are back with an album of classics recorded live in Germany 1994, during the very peak of their moonstompin’ career.  Chock full of 2tone upstrokes, ska swishes and chucklesome lyrics, The Bakesys (along with bands like The Loafers and The Hotknives) mark a period in ska history often overlooked between the fall of 2tone and the rise of ska punk.  Highlights include the floorfiller ‘Sunnyside Up’ as well as a souped-up version of the Harry J Allstars reggae classic ‘Liquidator’. 
Tom Williams

CAPTAIN SENSIBLE
WOMEN AND CAPTAINS FIRST/THE POWER OF LOVE
(Cherry Red)
The good Captain’s ‘80s chart hits.
5/5 / 5/5
If at least part of the reasoning behind Captain Sensible teaming up with producer Tony Mansfield was to show his more serious side, away from his day job with The Damned. This was soon scuppered when his cover of ‘Happy Talk became a massive novelty hit, topping the UK chart. Which is a shame, as these two albums from 1982 and 1983 reveal a superb songwriter, with their mix of 80’s pop, psychedelia and eccentric British whimsy. ‘Glad It’s All Over’, from ‘The Power Of Love’, a breezy classic, was another Top 10 single, but it’s surprising to note that the sublime ‘Croydon’ from ‘Women And Captains First’ never even charted. Approach with an open mind punks -there’s much to be enjoyed here.
Shane Baldwin

THEE CRUCIALS
GIVE ME…A KEG…OF BEER.
(Kaiser)
Garage punk never sounded so good.
5/5
This has to be one of the best ‘60s garage punk albums that isn’t ‘60s garage punk album ever. It has everything that is great about the genre, wild, abandoned vocals, a beat that won’t let up and an organ swirling around those relentless guitars seemingly only held in check by the chanted backing. There are sixteen tracks that can be pretty much described in that way. All played and recorded in a style primitive enough to be authentic but cleverly enough to ensure it enhances the feel and not fucks it. You don’t need a keg of beer for this slab of wildness to whisk you off to an underground 1960s Go-Go bar, you’re already loving it. ‘Squares beware’ they warn. No need, as there’s none at this party.
Simon Nott

DESTRUCTORS 666
POW! THAT’S KILLMUSIK 666. VOLUME ONE: REVISION
(Rowdy Farrago)
Music for the pit: the early years of a band remade.
4/5
In their three-year career Peterborough old skool crew Destructors 666 have churned out enough oddly titled EP’s and splits to fill a tidy space in any record store punk section (and that’s not to mention the roster of their 70’s incarnation the The Destructors).  Many of these have sold out or faded into obscurity and that’s exactly where Pow! comes in.  Cataloguing the earliest of the band’s recordings, along with six newbies thrown in as a treat, the album is boisterous, careering and unrefined: everything punk rock is supposed to be.  Roll on volume two!  
Tom Williams

DIE PRETTY
BITTER SWEET
(Unconform)
Sarah and Skip get busy blending.
3/5
‘Bitter Sweet’ is ten songs that power along, mixing female vocals with some serious skatepunk-esque drumming and riffage. Touring with the likes of Pennywise and Everclear seems to have left indelible influences, which blend well with the poppier melodies that are lobbed into the mix. The whole concept works well and results in an album that is excellent for what it is. The trouble is, there’s nothing new as such with the combination you get having been done plenty of times before… maybe not much better but before. With that in mind it is going to be hard work to stand out from the crowd judged just on ‘Bitter Sweet’ but if you are a fan of No Doubt you’re still going to like it.
Simon Nott

ELECTRIC RIVER
RADIO NO GO
(Electric River)
Cracking Clash-style punk.
5/5
It seems too easy to compare Electric River to the Clash and Rancid, but there’s no getting away from such obvious influences. And while with a band like Strawberry Blondes it might be superfluous to mention both bands, with Electric River it’s important as they manage to capture both the rougher edge of Rancid and more subtle nuances of the Clash. But having said that, this band are far from mere copyists, with the likes of ‘Anita, Don’t Cry’, a pumping rock song with odd touches of swing and the chugging, brooding ‘On Another Day’. But if it’s ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ – style rabble rousing anthems you’re after then the title track is for you.
Shane Baldwin

THE GRIZZLEY ENDS
THE UNFORTUNATE DEMISE OF THE GRIZLEY ENDS
(Squinty Joe)
If only they’d done this six years ago.
5/5
I was going to tell you that this Guildford mob specialise in speedy pop punk of the kind perfected by Captain Everything, then a quick, um, squint at their website reveals that they have actually played with the wacky Watfordians (if there’s any such word). And when I say super speedy, I ain’t kidding – this 11 track album was over in the time it took me to pour a drink, find their website and type the above: 13 minutes and 14 seconds! The Ramones would have doffed their caps, had they possessed any. To take one example, ‘Keep It Together’ may clock in at just 1 minute 42 seconds, but it packs in all the essential elements of pop punk with style.
Shane Baldwin

THE HORROR
SPOILS OF WAR
(Grot)
Full-throttle pissed-off hardcore assault.
4/5
Featuring, as they do, members of UK hardcore legends Voorhees and Imbalance within their ranks, it’s no surprise The Horror deal in no-holds-barred, heads-down hardcore rage. From start to finish, ‘Spoils Of War’ is characterised by full-throttle, no-frills brutality that eschews any temptation to dabble in the murky waters of metallic hardcore and instead relies on sheer bluntness and speed to get its pissed-off point across. With lyrics taking in everything from social injustice to disgust at the political system, it’s obvious the anger driving this record is very much ‘for real’, and it sounds all the more essential for that. With 15 tracks belting past in frenetic fashion, there are no stand-out moments – ‘Spoils Of War’ is just great from start to finish.
Nick Mann

LOVVERS
OCD GO GO GO GIRLS
(Wichita)
Fuzzed-out budget rock extravaganza.
4/5
Note the extra ‘Go’. And the extra V. Lovvers play from so down-on-deep in the basement, there’s a fuzz box on the vocals. Permanently. As a kind of sonic counterpart to the Mummies’ bandages, it’s a cloaking device that will admittedly bracket Lovvers as an acquired taste – unjustly so as there’s some righteous raw tuneage on offer here. Tracks like ‘Creepy Crawl’ or the aforementioned ‘OCD Go Go Go Girls’ are reassuringly replete with slashing guitars and humming valves, two-minute fifty-nine second teen-punk-pop bashalongs that recall the glory days of such figures as the Buzzcocks. A cracking follow-up to last year’s underrated ‘Think’ EP.
Hugh Gulland

THE MAGNIFICENT
PAY THE CRIMES
(Boss Tuneage)
Excellent debut and it’s all ours.
4/5
If I had the time to let this grow I reckon it would, in fact it is already and that’s quick. All the elements of a great punk album are there. The vibe is like a mix of The Gaslight Anthem and The Clash but before you dribble all over the page I’d have to add before either of them attained their ultimate greatness. The vocals are very British and the lyrics delivered passionately with choruses that will stick in your head. The pace is restrained but pummelling all the same and you get the feeling all hell could break loose at any minute before the pressure is off and the harmonies kick in, great stuff with greater to come.
Simon Nott

NINJA DOLLS
1 2 3 GO!
(Unconform)
Grade A Euro punk with XX chromosomes.
5/5
Female fronted punk can go either way: in some occasions it can be a credit to the genre and in others it can make you want to chew your own eyes out.  Thankfully, Swedish punk rockers the Ninja Dolls fall into the former category and this, their sophomore effort, provides everything needed from a recording.  Like the Bouncing Souls with a shot of Oestrogen: the drums are rapid, melodies creative and lyrics delivered with a smatter of satire.  Songs like the bratty ‘Nobody’s Girlfriend’ and the anthemic Green Day-esque ‘Miss Young and Naïve’ stand above the rest, but to be honest, any of these fourteen tracks get a thumbs up in this reviewer’s book.     
Tom Williams

NO FRIENDS
NO FRIENDS
(No Idea)
’80s style hardcore from members of NMDS and Municipal Waste.
4/5
Do you miss the raw yet melodic fast-paced hardcore of the likes of Dag Nasty, Gorilla Biscuits and the Descendents? Well so do the ex-members of Orlando, Florida’s defunct New Mexican Disaster Squad (now in Virgins and Gatorface too). Joined by the distinctive and energetic Municipal Waste frontman Tony Foresta on vocals, No Friends are enough to excite the most jaded ’80s hardcore fan, channelling the power, fun and honesty that’s so often lacking in modern hardcore bands. Highlights include the anthemic ‘You Have No Friends’ and the Minor Threat-esque ‘Set In Your Ways’, both featuring gritty backing vocals from Sam Johnson. Although they’re all in other bands, this storming debut album better just be the start for this supergroup. They won’t have no friends for long…
Ian Chaddock

THE SINGING LOINS
UNRAVELLING ENGLAND
(Damaged Goods)
Touching folk-punk slices of English life.
5/5
Lifting the lid on the bubbling undercurrents of life in London and its home counties environs, Singing Loins operate a curious kind of semi acoustic post-punk cabaret. Unravelling England offers a highly idiosyncratic insight on Englishness, one that nimbly sidesteps the pitfalls of parochialism, much in the spirit of kindred rockin’ cockneys Ian Dury or Steve Marriott. The raw-edged urban-folk reels of ‘Dirty Dora’ or ‘The Fat Boy Of Peckham’ reverberate with warmth and wit, and the heart-sick laments of ‘Since You Were My Girl’ or ‘Everywhere’ are as human and touching as anything I’ve come by in a good long while. This is rag ’n’ bone folk ‘n’ roll with poetry and soul.
Hugh Gulland

VARIOUS ARTISTS
CREATIVE OUTLAWS: UK UNDERGROUND 1965-1971
(Trikont)
Essential roundup of ‘60s Brit underground nuggets.
4/5
An intoxicating, if at times bewildering sweep through the mod-folk-freak scenes of the mid-to-late sixties UK underground, Trikont’s comp casts its net wide. Embracing the greats – Small Faces’ ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’, famously covered by the Pistols a decade later – cult favourites such as proto-punks John’s Children with ‘Desdemona’, featuring a young Marc Bolan on lead guitar, and outright curiosities like the Bonzo Dog Band’s ‘We Are Normal’. An eclectic collection, ‘Creative Outlaws’ showcases the radical, the subversive, the hip, the dippy and, inevitably, the brain-meltingly drug-damaged, without which this comp wouldn’t be the complete picture; good, bad and druggy, Trikont throw open the portals into a long-vanished but crucial musical scene.
Hugh Gulland

VARIOUS ARTISTS
THIS IS PSYCHOBILLY: 25 YEARS OF ROCKIN’ & WRECKIN’
(Anagram)
Pure boneshakin’ music.
5/5
From granddaddies of the scene like The Meteors, Batmobile and King Kurt to mere fledglings like Judder and the Jack Rabbits, Luna Vegas and The Scourge Of River City: this three CD compendium from psycho merchants Anagram complies the cream (or should I say scream?) of the crop since the very birth of rockabilly’s evil twin.  With sixty nine tracks of double bass pounding, guitar twanging malevolent fury and detailed bio’s of each of the players laid out in the accompanying booklet- can a bad word really be said? A must for any wrecker worth his salt and a great starter package for newcomers to the genre.
Tom Williams 

 

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JULY RECORD REVIEWS

GREEN DAY
21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN
(Reprise)
Ambitious return from legendary trio.
3/5
“Sing us the song of the century” sings Billie Joe Armstrong by way of introduction, lost in a static mist before the trio kick into the muscular power-pop of the title track and single ‘Know Your Enemy’, heralding the arrival of first act ‘Heroes And Cons’. As far as ambition goes, ‘21st Century Breakdown’ has it in spades, from the concept (main characters Gloria and Christian’s journey across the United (and not so united) States,
witnessing bonfires of ideals and morals from paranoia and the rise of the Christian right. Recalling the likes of The Who and U2 more so than, say, Black Flag, Armstrong, Dirnt and Cool have created an album that, were it a few tracks shorter, would be a masterstroke. However, the likes of ‘Before The Lobotomy’, ‘Peacemaker’ and ‘Restless Heart Syndrome’ bloat an album that would have been genuinely fantastic, muddying the narrative along the way. However, the sheer infectiousness of the Tom Petty-esque ‘Last Of The American Girls’ and ’21 Guns’, coupled with the rip and roll of ‘Murder City’ sees ‘21st Century Breakdown’ destined to climb the same heights as ‘American Idiot’ – perhaps even surpassing it.
Jim Sharples
 
Also Available:
‘39/Smooth’ 1990
‘Kerplunk’ 1992
‘Dookie’ 1994
‘Insomniac’ 1995
‘Nimrod’ 1997
‘Warning’ 2000
‘American Idiot’ 2004

ANTI-FLAG
THE PEOPLE OR THE GUN
(SideOneDummy)
Plenty to say on Pittsburgh punks’ ninth full-length.
4/5
Anti-Flag’s first album with SideOneDummy was recorded at their own studio that they built in Pittsburgh so they could record an album ‘on their own terms’. They have come up with some material that is going to win them a whole host of new fans with songs like their opening track ‘Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.’ which is definitely as catchy as everyone is telling us swine flu could be. The topics of their angry (but slightly more melodic) and still furiously paced punk are bang up to date. Job losses, rebellion, politicians’ consciences and religion rammed down throats are all battered about with their trademark holler and chant-back vocals. Since the band had all the time in the world to put down this their new slab of anti-establishment it is perhaps surprising that the album is barely 30 minutes long (with a pretty throwaway hidden track to boot), though the 11 tracks are thought-provoking. That hidden song forgotten, maybe the clue is in the anthem of the closing track, the rabble-rousing ‘The Old Guard’, which could well be a joyous out with Bush and in with the Obama celebration. If correct, it would explain why Anti-Flag appear to be less venomous and pissed off, but the great tunes shine through, albeit only 10 times. Not angry enough to write ‘get mad about’  material in this dawn of a new age of hope maybe?
Simon Nott

Also Available:
‘Die For The Government’ 1996
‘Their System Doesn’t Work For You’ 1998
‘A New Kind Of Army’ 1999
‘Underground Network’ 2001
‘Mobilize’ 2002
‘The Terror State’ 2003
‘For Blood And Empire’ 2006
‘The Bright Lights Of America’ 2008

ASSEMBLE HEAD
WHEN SWEET SLEEP RETURNED
(Tee Pee)
Hallucinatory guitar grooves from San Francisco.
4/5
Assemble Head’s expansive guitar sound stretches out between California‘s sun-bleached canyons and the further limits of overdriven space-rock, with a heavy nod towards the acid-blasted sounds of the late-sixties west-coast and more than a hint of early Floyd and Hawkwind at work to boot. When Sweet Sleep Returned is an exploratory sonic sweep, propelled by limber psyche-rock grooves into shimmering, tranced-out realms. It‘s beguiling enough to have your hardened Cheese scribe driveling away like an old hippie, but this particular headspace is no bad place to be. So wipe that smirk off your face, punk, and don’t bum me out. It may well do the same for you.
Hugh Gulland

BLACK PRESIDENT
BLACK PRESIDENT
(People Like You)
Punk rock supergroup strikes black gold.
5/5
Formed by Circle Jerks/Bad Religion axe-man Greg Hetson and Goldfinger guitarist Charlie Paulson, Black President are a brash collective comprised from some of the gnarliest punk rock talent the underground has to offer. But despite Hetson’s recent departure, this debut shows no signs of flaccidity: in fact it’s pretty damn hardcore! 14 tracks of classic punk rock built for bar room brawls, with a cheeky Motorhead number thrown in for good measure, can we really ask for more? Well, maybe a tour with Bouncing Souls this June. If you were wondering, the name came before Obama – ain’t life just hilarious?
Tom Williams

THE BOLSHEVIKS
ACTION REACTION
(Red Square)
Old Bristol punks deliver the goods.
4/5
When these long-running punks split recently, it proved to be so brief that it made TSOL’s hiatus look like a few decades in the wilderness. But hey, we’d have missed the old buggers if they’d stayed away. And the same goes for the Bolsheviks! This new album on their own Red Square imprint is darned good. The predominant influence on a lot of these 11 tracks seems to be old school NY punk, with plenty of nods to R&B (in the old sense) and the spirit of the Clash is never too far away. Crunchy funky closer ‘The Need’ is the stand out track, but there’s no filler here.
Shane Baldwin

DRUGLORDS OF THE AVENUES
SING SONGS
(Red Scare)
A definite grower from Swingin’ Utters vocalist’s new side-project.
3/5
Druglords of the Avenues are a punk supergroup, comprising of Swingin’ Utters, Knuckle Up, Moonshine, Butterface and Hot Heresy members, so I didn’t think it was wrong to expect my bollocks to be blown off by this debut album. Unfortunately for my astronomically high expectations, we’re merely presented with serviceable street punk. Fronted by the haunting, gruff vocals of Johnny Bonnel (the man does have a beautiful voice), on first listen this just didn’t click. Repeat listening shows the record to be one of depth, lyrical intelligence and a stealth-ninja-style way of getting trapped in your head. Special mention goes to the fantastic artwork.
Ian Dransfield

DUSTY RHODES AND THE RIVER BAND
PALACE AND STAGE
(SideOneDummy)
Swirling, huge sounds with no pigeon hole.
3/5
I suppose these days with the world’s biggest punk band releasing what has been described as rock opera, this isn’t totally out of place. This album is one you have to sit back and listen to while it swirls around you unwrapping its layers as it goes. And layered it is, you name it (possibly with the exception of punk) it’s all here. Folk, rock and country are probably the bedrock of this album as it takes you on a journey of harmonic vocal-related laments and misdeeds. The general feel of the album can be unnervingly dark in places, but it certainly is quality.
Simon Nott

FISHBONE
LIVE IN BORDEAUX
(Ter A Terre)
Live album and DVD from these often overlooked funk metallers.
3/5
Back in the funk metal explosion of the early ‘90s, poor old Fishbone blew up and then were somewhat left by the wayside. However, they still whip it up live, the thing they have done best all these years. Anyone who has seen this madcap circus will tell you what fun they are so this live album and DVD does its best to capture the madness. On the whole it succeeds, although I suspect just the DVD would be enough as its good to see and hear the mayhem. Somehow though, it just isn’t the same as seeing them in the flesh – you need to feel the sweat.
Miles Hackett

FLIPPER
GENERIC / GONE FISHIN’ / PUBLIC FLIPPER LIMITED
(Domino)
Essential recordings from the SF artcore giants.
4/5 / 4/5 / 4/5
A vital influence on the 1980s hardcore scene, yet cussedly at odds with it, Flipper emerged from the San Francisco punk scene at the end of the ‘70s and trailblazed their driving dissonant noise across the US underground for the next half-decade or so. These two studio albums and the double live ‘Ltd’ collection reveal Flipper as an abrasive, provocative and highly inventive combo, melding their morbid humour with a nagging punk-core grind, their white-heat guitar noise shot through with an experimental jazziness that yields in places – the prime example being the classic ‘Sex Bomb’. The most demented don’t-give-a-fuck freeform flip-outs this side of the Stooges’ ‘Funhouse’.
Hugh Gulland

JOE COFFEE
WHEN THE FABRIC DIDN’T FIT THE FRAME
(I-Scream)
Lumbering and rumbling Joe hits low.
3/5
Joe Coffee hail from the mean streets of New York City and play gritty, mid-paced garage rock in a low down and dirty manner that will have aficionados of such sounds in raptures. The almost totally self-penned songs are as understated and morose as the fella on the cover  (though thankfully better performed than he is drawn), although they do perk up a bit with the odd sax honk in the more ‘cheerful’ songs. The whole album sounds slightly ‘muddy’ but that does really go with the ambience that deep voiced Joe and crew are hoping to put across.
Simon Nott

THE MAHONES
IRISH PUNK COLLECTION
(Stumble)
Canadian paddy punk.
4/5
Fast approaching their 10th year in existence, the Mahones pull out all the stops on this, their eighth album. Like most bands playing this sort of thing, they lack the dangerous, slightly seedy edge that Shane MacGowan gives to the Pogues, but the Mahones are boisterous, uplifting and a hell of a lot of fun. Their own songs like ‘Drunken Lazy Bastard’ and ‘Drunken Night In Dublin’ (do we spot a trend here?) are top notch. Scruffy Wallace from Dropkick Murphys guests on ‘Amsterdam Song’, and there are also creditable versions of ‘Irish Rover’ and traditional song ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ that the likes of me know from the 1972 Thin Lizzy single.
Shane Baldwin

MOB RESEARCH
HOLY CITY ZOO
(Echozone)
Killing Joke’s Raven’s last recording.
4/5
With his sudden death, the colourful life of bassist Paul Raven was celebrated by a shocked rock world last year. And his death was not only a great loss to his long-term bands Killing Joke and Ministry, he was also in the final stages of recording this debut for the star-studded Mob Research. For fans of KJ and Ministry, it won’t disappoint. With Warrior Soul’s Korey Clarke on vocals and members from Queens of the Stone Age and the Mission, ‘Holy City Zoo’ is a sonic slice of 21st century rock ‘n’ roll. At times concrete-like heavy and with just the right amount of Warrior Soul swagger, Mob Research were looking like real heavyweight prospects. R.I.P Raven.
El Prez

NICK WELSH
THE SOHO SESSIONS
(Moon Ska World)
Debut solo slice from the superstar of ska.
5/5
Nick Welsh (aka King Hammond) has run the 2-tone gamut in his time, lending word-slinging and musical skills to bands as diverse as The Selecter, Bad Manners and Skaville UK, to name but a few. ‘The Soho Sessions’, his first solo effort, compiles all the choicest morsels from his accredited writing and recording career in kickback acoustic format and, truth be told, the man has never sounded better. From leisurely classics like ‘Return Of The Ugly’ and ‘Memory Train’ to lesser known, but equally smooth, tracks like ‘Outrageous’, this one’s bound to have you digging in the attic for those 7” originals. Set your skank to slo-mo: this record is a chair dance extravaganza. 
Tom Williams

NO DIRECTION
NO DIRECTION
(Nicotine)
Anglo-Finnish rock ‘n’ roll machine.
4/5
Containing past and present members of the Vibrators, the Wildhearts and Tokyo Dragons, and a European mix of half Finnish, half English, No Direction convene under a united flag of pure, full-on rock ‘n’ roll. Taking a trademark Scandinavian sound of greased up riffs, sideburns and songs about their ‘Dead End Generation’, ND have made a fresh sounding mix of Social Distortion and the Backyard Babies at their ‘Total 13’ best. And with potential hits like ‘Skip Tomorrow’ and ‘Right Today’ along for the ride, they are most definitely heading in the ‘right’ direction. BC is trying to get them to play our Vive Le Punk club night, so you’ve been warned!
El Prez

NORTH LINCOLN
MIDWESTERN BLOOD
(No Idea)
Long-awaited second album from Michigan gruff punk rockers.
4/5
Celebrating their 10th anniversary this summer, fans of this Grand Rapids, MI band will be excited to finally hear their new album, following a two year lull between recording and release. Thankfully, it was worth the wait. Their raw, dual-vocalled punk songs sound more powerful and honest than ever, and instrumental stretches (and perfect cover art) add to their helpless but not hopeless lyrics. Hot Water Music and Jawbreaker fans will enjoy the heart-on-sleeve grittiness of ‘Bridge Jumpers’, ‘All This Time’ and upbeat closer ‘Siblings’ – the light at the end of the tunnel with the final lyrics “I’m strong now, so much stronger than I’ve known”. Album three is on the way too…
Ian Chaddock

PARANOID VISIONS
BEWARE OF THE GOD
(FOAD)
Reformed Irish anarcho punks.
3/5
Paranoid Visions formed in Dublin way back in 1981, joining in the anarcho punk scene with gusto, releasing records on their own FOAD label, licensed to All The Madmen, and playing with bands like Poison Girls, the Subhumans and the Instigators before splitting in 1992. They reformed in 1996 to support the Sex Pistols, then again in 2001 and 2005, and have continued since, releasing a new album, ’40 Shades Of Gangreen’, a couple of years ago. And here they are again, still dark, brooding, and angry as all hell, with a rather spiffing, nicely produced new album. ‘I Am The One’ is especially fine, a pumping crowd pleaser, but there’s really nothing to disappoint here.
Shane Baldwin

SHOOK ONES
THE UNQUOTABLE A.M.H.
(Paper + Plastick)
Rousing third full-length from Seattle melodic hardcore punks.
5/5
With two storming albums of Kid Dynamite-loving melodic hardcore punk and an exhilirating live show, Shook Ones are one hell of a band. As hinted at with recent releases, ‘The Unquotable A.M.H.’ is their most uplifting and melodic (but pleasingly not overproduced) record to date, with vocalist Scott’s raw voice mixing perfectly with infectious guitar lines and hooks on ‘For Collards’ and the melodic punk anthems ‘For Flannel’ and ‘They’re Very “Yes”’. More None More Black than Kid Dynamite here, this is a stunning album right up to the passionate crescendo of closer ‘Tip The Weatherman’ and looks set to be my soundtrack of the summer. Play it loud and sing along.
Ian Chaddock

SYMARIP
MOONSTOMPIN’ AT CLUB SKA
(Moon Ska World)
Skinhead reggae originators reform to shake your ass!
5/5
They’ve gone by The Bees, Seven Letters, Zubada and The Pyramids since their late ‘60s origins, but Symarip are undeniably one of the most iconic bands in ska history, accredited with kick-starting the skinhead movement. Now brought back to life 35 years on by former members Monty Neysmith and Roy ‘Kaleb’ Ellis, this is truly as authentic as British ska can get. Recorded live at London’s premier ska club, the album oozes West Indian riddim’ and good times and by the end you’ll be green with envy that you didn’t get your tickets. Luckily, there’s a bonus 90 minute DVD to show exactly what you missed. 
Tom Williams

VARIOUS ARTISTS
LOS SUAVES NEGROS – TURBONEGRO TRIBUTE
(Despot)
Bossanova Turbonegro covers, assuming you need ‘em.
3/5
That‘s right, this is lounge/bossa Turbonegro, and the ugly spectre of the funny-for-five-minutes Nouvelle Vague looms large. As with the latter’s punk-samba efforts, this is agreeable enough for a couple of tracks, but the compulsion to hit the eject yelling ‘Okay, I GET it’ is overpowering. In other words, life’s too short. That said, it’s pleasant enough taken as easy listening ear candy and maybe says something for the adaptability of the ’negro’s songs, if adaptability counts for anything with a song catalogue as cock-fixated as the Scandinavian leather boys’.
Hugh Gulland

 

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MAY RECORD REVIEWS

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
SMALL TOWN STORIES
(Resist)
Gruff punk from Down Under.
3/5
Following heralded debut ‘This Microscopic War’, Melbourne quartet A Death In The Family are back with this second album, mixed by producer extraordinaire J Robbins (Against Me!, Paint It Black). ‘Small Town Stories’ reflects life growing up in the small communities of Australia. Its powerful drive is fuelled by the same wayward angst as the likes of Hot Water Music or The Draft yet the band manage to cunningly fuse this with a classic Aussie rock feel to produce a sound that is distinctly their own. This is a good solid record and stands shoulder to shoulder with most of its contemporaries but just falls short of reaching outstanding.
Miles Hackett

BOB MOULD
LIFE AND TIMES
(Anti-)
Former Husker Du frontman with eighth solo effort.
3/5
It’s only just over a year since Bob Mould’s impressive return to form that was the impressive alt-rock solo album ‘District Line’ and now he’s back with another record, produced and mixed by the man himself. Whilst ‘Life And Times’ is certainly a worthy addition to fans’ collections, it’s not as compelling as his last album, with an almost alt-folk rock direction and more use of electronics again. ‘City Lights (Days Go By)’ is a nice tune but many songs here lack the impact and infectiousness of ‘District Line’ material. ‘Argos’ proves he can still pen a brilliant melodic punk rock song and this is another solid effort from the punk/post-hardcore hero. Roll on album number nine!
Ian Chaddock

COCK SPARRER
GUILTY AS CHARGED / TWO MONKEYS
(Captain Oi!)
Pepped-up later albums from the Sparrer.
4/5 / 4/5
These two albums by East London street punk pioneers Cock Sparrer were originally released by German label Bitz Core in 1994 and 1997 respectively, but as the band have apparently never been happy with them, here they have been “re-recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered”. They sound great now – sharp, punchy and doing full justice to some classic later Sparrer works like ‘Because You’re Young’ and ‘Don’t Blame Us’, the stand-out tracks from ‘Guilty As Charged’. And as you also get the four tracks that comprised the 1995 EP ‘Run Away’ as bonus tracks with ‘Guilty’ and four unreleased live tracks with ‘Two Monkeys’. You can’t go wrong here.
Shane Baldwin

DEVILISH PRESLEY
FLESH RIDE
(November 10th)
Glam horror duo need to get angry more often.
3/5
‘Flesh Ride’ owes more to ‘70s glam and riffage than their previous more rocking releases. The songs are all about the sort of things that any self-respecting ghoul would expect by a duo from the dark side. Dead rockers get the nod in the lyrics (Billy Fury) and in the name of their drum machine (Elvis). Maybe it’s the fault of the King’s namesake, maybe not, but a good half of this album fails to ignite. Interestingly, when Johnny Navarro gets angry, on songs like ‘Bloodsuckers’ and ‘Losin’ Ground’, things start to spark and those moments are well worth it.
Simon Nott

DUN2DEF / DESTRUCTORS 666
DEUS EX MACHINA
(Rowdy Farrago)
Another Destructors split album.
3/5
In this, probably the 232nd Destructors 666 split album, the Peterborough outfit team up with Milton Keynes’ Dun2Def, with pleasing results. The latter play decent enough old school punk, chugging along nicely with two of their own songs, ‘You’re A Disease’ and ‘Drinking & Fighting’, before having a fair stab at the UK Subs’ ‘Riot’ that misses Charlie Harper’s trademark growl. In contrast, Destructors 666 singer Allen Adams, the only survivor from the ‘80s Destructors, does a more than fair Colin Abrahall impersonation on GBH’s ‘Diplomatic Immunity’, and the band’s own songs here are proof that, through all these releases, they really are coming on in leaps and bounds.
Shane Baldwin

DUNCAN REDMONDS
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK
(Boss Tuneage)
Snuff legend collaborates with friends on first solo album.
4/5
Duncan Redmonds has been the driving force behind UK punk heroes Snuff for the last 20 years, as well as Billy No Mates and Guns N Wankers. He’s currently playing in Toy Dolls and Duncan’s Divas too. Over the last four years, Duncan has put this record together, featuring guest collaborations with friends from all over the world. Highlights on the 22-track CD include songs with Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface), Fat Mike (NOFX), Simon Wells (original Snuff/Southport), Ken Yokoyama (Hi-Standard), Hard Skin and No Means No, to name just a few. ‘Bubble And Squeak’ shows exactly why Duncan Redmonds is a punk legend.
Ian Chaddock

EARTH CRISIS
TO THE DEATH
(Century Media)
Syracuse straight edge legends return with a bang.
4/5
While their militant straight edge stance attracted controversy over the years, NY’s Earth Crisis helped to define the metallic hardcore genre in the mid-‘90s; and anyone who remembers the awesomeness of ‘Firestorm’ and ‘Destroy The Machines’ is sure to be intrigued by what the band have to offer more than a decade later. It’s a pleasure to report that they’ve lost none of the things that made those albums so important – Karl Buechner’s raging vocals and a blend of chugging riffs and thrashy mid-sections that’s both bruising and dynamic. Sounding surprisingly fresh and energetic throughout, it’s great to have them back.
Nick Mann

THE GRIT
STRAIGHT OUT THE ALLEY
(People Like You)
The best home grown punkabilly album of the decade.
5/5
The Grit have come up with what will go down as an all-time classic album, simple as that. This has all the elements of what’s great about their genre bending style of punk rock. The songs are relevant and heartfelt, the tunes are infectious and the pace only lets up when it’s the perfect time to do so. This album also stands out because it is totally British and unashamedly so – from the lyrics, to the accent and slang – but not in a jingoistic way. This will assure their place right up there with the greats. Joe Strummer would be proud.
Simon Nott

HEARTBREAK STEREO
INSPIRATION (BACK FROM THE DEAD)
(Boss Tuneage)
Finnish Trio have the right mix of power pop and punk.
4/5
Never judge a CD by its cover. One look at the trio trying to look whacky, with their daft glasses and even dafter expressions, had me not really wanting to play this. I’m glad that I did. The guys do nothing new, their sound could quite easily fit into the Hellcat roster (no doubt pissing all over a few of them) but they simply play power pop punk in a way that anyone who likes the genre is going to love. It’s all great sing-along, snotty fun that conjures up images of Californian sunshine. What more could you ask for?
Simon Nott

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY
PAINTED ON / UP THE EMPIRE / DOWN GINA’S AT 3
(Damaged Goods)
Reissues from the first lady of Medway Delta blues.
4/5 / 3/5 / 3/5
First coming to public attention as a member of the Headcoatees, the girl-group counterpart to garage hero Billy Childish’s Headcoats, Ms Golightly was to forge a distinctive solo identity for herself as a chanteuse from the mid to late 1990s, as these reissues reveal. Taking the Headcoats’ no-frills valve-amp credo as a starting point, Golightly’s songs vault stylistically from blues to jazz to ‘60s girly pop, with a measure of femme-punk sass to top things off. One in the studio and the other two live, this brace of reissues catches the stark authenticity of Holly Golightly’s lo-fi kitchen sink dramas rather admirably.
Hugh Gulland

JEFFREY LEWIS AND THE JUNKYARD
EM ARE I
(Rough Trade)
Further observations from folk music’s funniest punks.
4/5
Jeffrey Lewis mixes observational comedy and folk-pop; he even does wonderful Robert Crumb-esque illustrations and comic strips. So it’s a pleasant surprise when Lewis starts the album loose and dirty, bringing an Undertones/Replacements-esque punk rock riff to the punchy mess of ‘Slogans’. Throughout ‘Em Are I’ it’s clear Lewis thinks and ponders a lot, probably too much. His insecurities devour him on the perfect ‘Broken Broken Broken Heart’ and all Lewis can do is “try not to think”. ‘The Upside-Down Cross’ is a no funk free jam that pulls tightly until its verses explodes in messy feedback. ‘Em Are I’ is an excellent and rewarding album.
Jonathan Falcone

JON SNODGRASS
VISITOR’S BAND
(Suburban Home)
Drag The River and Armchair Martian frontman goes solo.
4/5
Having recently embarked on a UK tour with good friend Joey Cape of Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut fame, Jon Snodgrass’ first solo outing picks up where his other bands left off. His gentle, heartfelt croon makes acoustic alt-country tracks such as opener ‘Brave With Strangers’ and ‘Murderfield’ rub shoulders comfortably with the electrified country rock of ‘Remember My Name’ and ‘Fast In Last’, which bring to mind Lucero at points. A talented and deservedly respected singer/songwriter, ‘Visitor’s Band’ is the perfect laid back record to listen to while enjoying springtime out in the sun.
Ian Chaddock

LEFT ALONE
LEFT ALONE
(Hellcat)
Blistering punk ska opus from the latest Hellcat heroes.
5/5
While frequently measured alongside label bosses Rancid, Left Alone have clawed a commendable position on the Hellcat roster since their welcome in 2005 and this, the third full-length from the Wilmington, CA crew, marks the highest point of their recording career: their own ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ you might say. Following up from their ‘Dead American Radio’ sophomore success, this self-titled album is packed with catchy punk rock hooks, scuzzy street ska and a smidge of countrified home-cooking. Broadening lyrically into more serious topics, yet retaining the three-chord fun, this is definitely one Hellcat release that it’s hard to find a low point in.
Tom Williams

LOS ALBERTOS
DISH IT OUT
(Chief)
Seaside ska hi-jinks from Brighton’s signature 2tone troupe. 
4/5
Summer fest favourites Los Albertos have beaten out a comfortable niche in the UK underground ska scene since their conception in 2002, along with similar modern 2tone acts like 3 Minute Warning and Smoke Like A Fish. With a definite British flavour, ‘Dish It Out’ merges clever tongue-twister vocals with sharp ska upstokes and bubble-popping brass. Easily as manic, intelligent and openly fun as its predecessors, this third full-length marks another solid effort for the Brighton six-piece and it’s a crop of songs we’re bound to be singing and skanking to in the upcoming sunny months.
Tom Williams

MAGAZINE
LIVE AND INTERMITTENT
(Wire-Sound)
Ultra-rare live cuts from Devoto and co.
4/5
On the back of Magazine’s much-lauded 2009 reunion comes this 17-track live anthology, compiled from three live recordings spanning 1979-1980. Naturally there’s a little fluctuation in sound quality, but caveats aside, what you get here is the best document of Magazine’s live dynamic yet available. This group’s interplay was seldom short of dazzling and there’s ample evidence here; along with seldom-heard live renditions of ‘Sweetheart Contract’ and ‘Cut Out Shapes’, the crucial tracks from the Magazine repertoire are well represented, not least with a stinging performance of ‘Shot By Both Sides’ which captures the much-missed guitarist John McGeoch – sadly no longer with us – in fine flow.
Hugh Gulland

MUSTARD CITY ROCKERS
GET INVOLVED
(Gratuitous Beaver/Code7/PHD)
Fiery debut from Norwich’s own folk punk minstrels.
4/5
Patched together in 2006 from a number of defunct Norwich outfits, Mustard City Rockers are truly a Frankenstein’s monster of music. Merging biting wit, punk rock and a heavy dose of folk, they end up with something that makes you want to jig like a drunken sailor. Fans of Gogol Bordello and Flogging Molly will be in mead-swilling heaven with this full-length UK debut.  Utilizing an entire ensemble of traditional instruments and gruff vocals straight outta the gutter, the band are touring in the near future if you fancy ‘getting involved’. This is one band built for the barroom tiles.
Tom Williams

THE NERVE SCHEME
THE NERVE SCHEME
(Jailhouse!)
Un-PC hard-edged punk pop.
3/5
This Virginian outfit have been knocking around, in one form or another, since the ‘90s, slogging around the US circuit and playing shows with the likes of Murphy’s Law, the Queers and Agent Orange, with an unpredictable live show that apparently involves dodgy smoke machines, confetti cannons and much politically incorrect banter. And listening to this self-titled EP that actually came out last autumn, one can certainly believe all of the above, especially the last bit. Here the current line-up of Hector XXX (vocals), Bobby Analog (drums) and Gary Sinn (bass) serve up six tracks of pop punk in the NOFX/Dwarves vein, which, while not exactly original, certainly packs a punch.
Shane Baldwin

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
FROM HER TO ETERNITY / FIRSTBORN IS DEAD / KICKING AGAINST THE PRICKS / YOUR FUNERAL MY TRIAL
First steps to solo stardom from the post-Birthday Party Cave.
3/5 / 3/5 / 4/5 / 4/5
Having extricated himself from the wreckage of his seminal band The Birthday Party in 1983, Cave’s early solo efforts templated his subsequent success in their exploration of wracked blues, sea-sick shanties and a long-running Elvis fixation. The first couple of discs are mixed affairs, magnificent cuts fighting for space with morose dirges. The 1986 covers album ‘Kicking Against The Pricks’ saw Cave mapping out his diverse influences, re-working the likes of Gene Pitney and Johnny Cash, an appetiser for ‘Your Funeral My Trial’. Easily the most fully-formed of the early Cave albums, the sense of redemption hinted at lets some light in on that often overbearing Cave grimness.
Hugh Gulland

NO CHOICE
ANAESTHETIZE THIS… ANNIHILATE THAT!
(Good Music For Good People)
Sing-along punk rock from Wales.
3/5
As much as we are taught to avoid judging things by titles, ‘Anaesthetize This…’, the follow up to 2002’s ‘Dry River Fishing’, did come across as a record that would back up the anger it clearly has within it with a blistering pace, but what we are presented with is a far more considered album. ‘Take That up the Arse… and Party!’, ‘Change’ and ‘Your Sport’ offer up great examples of what No Choice are about – righteous, sing-along punk rock with backing tunes to encourage a dance and a real message behind everything. Honestly, it isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, but you will get a decent listen out of No Choice.
Ian Dransfield

PULLING TEETH
PARANOID DELUSIONS/PARANOID ILLUSIONS
(Deathwish)
Epic, crushing doom-edged hardcore from Baltimore.
4/5
Further reinforcing Deathwish’s reputation as the home of hardcore bands willing to try something a bit different, this five-track EP sees Pulling Teeth displaying a diverse sound – from the full-blooded proto-thrash of opener ‘Paranoid Delusions’ to the epic, downbeat ‘Bloodwolves’ that brings proceedings to a close. What comes in between is pretty damn awesome as well, with the band proving they’re just as adept at slow-burning doom as they are full-throttle metallic rage. Perhaps the only criticism that could be levelled at ‘Paranoid Illusions’ is that, at just 23 minutes long, when the EP’s over, you’re left begging for more.
Nick Mann

RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS
UNDERNEATH THE OWL
(Volcom)
Texan punks struggle to capture their live energy.
3/5
The Riverboat Gamblers are a band with a wicked reputation as a live act, putting on intense shows to get the blood pumping and the walls a-bouncing. On first listen to ‘UTO’, it’s pretty hard to understand where this status comes from or how an album that opens so well, with the jagged ‘Dissdissdisskisskisskiss’, can descend into mediocrity so suddenly. Sounding like the offspring of a late night sojourn between The Donnas and The Bronx, ‘UTO’ – while not poisoning the ears – doesn’t live up to the initial explosion it opens with. However, there’s still a hell of a lot of potential with the Gamblers and they look like a band to watch on the live circuit.
Ian Dransfield

SONIC BOOM SIX
CITY OF THIEVES
(Rebel Alliance)
SB6 return with plenty to say.
4/5
Sonic Boom Six have always been one of the most diverse and inventive bands to get lumped into the British ska punk scene. The follow-up to the outstanding ‘Ruff Guide To Genre-Terrorism’ sees the band in equally thrilling territory. ‘City of Thieves’ is something of a concept album as it focuses on city life, from schools and consumerism to binge drinking and traffic issues. The combination of vibrant, eclectic music, dub one minute and RATM vocal samples the next, with some slightly bleak lyrics paints a lively example of the various elements that make up British culture in 2009. It’s smart, joyous music that has plenty to say and does so eloquently.
Paul Hagen

SORRY AND THE SINATRAS
HIGHBALL ROLLER
(Undergroove)
Familiar sounding punk ‘n’ roll.
4/5
Listening to ‘Highball Roller’, the band’s debut album, I couldn’t help but think this sounds a lot like The Wildhearts. Which is obviously no bad thing. Turns out singer/guitarist Scott Sorry is currently playing bass with The Wildhearts, so I guess it’s not that surprising. Sorry and co. kick out a mean blend of raucous yet melodic punk ‘n’ roll that puts a smile on your face. The album rattles along at a fair old pace, featuring plenty of choruses and spitting infectious energy out of the speakers with skill and good humour. If you like The Wildhearts, you’ll be hard pressed not to get drawn in by this.
Paul Hagen

STRUNG OUT
PROTOTYPES AND PAINKILLERS
(Fat Wreck)
Rare and unreleased compilation from these metallic punk stalwarts.
3/5
Strung Out have been kicking around now for an incredible 17 years, so I guess Fat Wreck felt it was about time to release this huge 25 track compilation. As you might expect though the quality of material here is hit and miss and, let’s face it, some tracks are unreleased for a reason! That said, it’s safe to say that about 70% on here is killer. Overall, it’s an interesting comp from an innovative band. It’s probably one for the fans only but the covers alone (‘Bark At The Moon’ and The Descendents’ ‘I’m Not A Loser’) are probably worth buying it for.
Miles Hackett

TERROR
LIVE AT CBGB
(Wienerworld)
Somewhat pointless live album from LA hardcore heavyweights.
3/5
There are few things more hit and miss in the world of music than live albums, and this effort, which brings you a set at CBGB’s from 2004, is a case in point. While Terror are always a fantastic live band, and this showcases some of their very best songs – ‘Overcome’ and ‘Lowest Of The Low’ – it’s also hampered by a shocking mix, with absolutely no power in the guitars, and the vocals way too high up in the mix. You do hear singer Scott Vogel’s typically ‘enthusiastic’ between-song rants, but the CD comes nowhere near capturing how great Terror are live. One for rabid fans of the band only.
Nick Mann

TOM ALLALONE AND THE 78S
MAJOR SINS PART 1
(Nettwerk)
Sharp-witted rockabilly/soul with a very English slant.
4/5
Kent has proved a fertile patch for the garage rock underground and Tom Allalone’s Gravesend-based outfit pack enough sharp-edged rockabilly twang to align them loosely with the Medway sound lineage. They’re distinguished, however, by Allalone’s very individual – and very English – way with a song; witty, and unflinching with it. Allalone forays into the darker sublevels of smalltown Britain in ‘Dogshit Creek’, tangles with nightclub jitters in ‘I’m Just The DJ’ and cocks snooks at social expectation in the amusingly-titled ‘Sign On You Lazy Diamond’. A grimy-edged musical postcard from a dirty old south coast English town, this album brings all the trials and tribulations vividly to life.
Hugh Gulland

WAU Y LOS ARRRGHS!!!
VIVEN!!!
(Munster)
Rockin’ latino-garage party.
3/5
Down there in the Iberian peninsular, the locals appear to have drunk from the well of frat-shack retro-rock rather enthusiastically, and if the number of exclamation marks in the title are any kind of indication, those latinos must be an excitable bunch. And while my comprehension of the lingo is near-zilch, it appears that a sweaty Chelsea-booted, Farfisa-propelled rave-up is much the same in any language. So while these chaps couldn’t be said to be advancing the art form in any significant way – ‘Viven!!!’ is party music with no pretensions otherwise – they sound the perfect accompaniment to a few Friday night cervezas, and that counts for plenty.
Hugh Gulland

WHITE LIGHT PARADE
HOUSE OF COMMONS
(Split)
These Bradford indie punks should be huge.
5/5
This Yorkshire quartet have already had songs riding high in the UK indie charts and featured on ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’, not to mention support slots with the likes of The Jam and The Subways. Thankfully, this debut album more than explains the buzz. From the energetic opener ‘Burn It Down’, you know this is something special. The melodies are bigger than houses and all tracks are crisp and infectious, whether it’s the nod to The Clash of ‘Hundrum’, ridiculously catchy single ‘Wake Up’ or the massive sing-alongs of ‘Wait For The Weekend’ and ‘We Start Fires’. They’ll be on festival main stages in no time…
Rachel Owen
 

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APRIL RECORD REVIEWS

ACTION BEAT
THE NOISE BAND FROM BLETCHLEY
(Truth Cult)
Sonic experimentalists from the land of concrete cows.
2/5
Milton Keynes based Action Beat are a (mostly) instrumental art/noise outfit not a million miles away from the likes of Sonic Youth and The Boredoms. They have a penchant for experimenting with sound, but they’re astute enough to keep things reasonably melodic, so as not to make their music completely inaccessible. They’re a loose collective of available musicians and, when playing live, can feature up to four guitarists, some bassists and between one and four drummers! There are snippets of Killing Joke, The Pixies and Fugazi in their chaotic sonic melting pot. They’re an acquired taste but if you like your music off-kilter this may be for you.
Lee Cotterell

A DAY TO REMEMBER
HOMESICK
(Victory)
Florida beatdown pop punk favourites drop third album.
4/5
Opening with an accapella beatdown before bursting into a real one, opener ‘The Downfall of Us All’ shows why ADTR can mix hardcore guitar work and huge pop punk melodies (not to mention a flutter of handclaps) better than most newcomers. This seamless combination continues throughout all 12 tracks and this is the band’s most solid and infectious album to date. If ‘NJ Legion Iced Tea’ doesn’t make you sing along and ‘You Already Know What You Are’ doesn’t cause you to start a moshpit in your room, then you should probably check your pulse. Not original but more hyper than a kid with ADD filled full of Red Bull.
Rachel Owen

…AND YOU WLL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
THE CENTURY OF SELF
(Richter Scale/Universal)
Art-rock monsters return for outing number 6.
3/5
AYWKUBTTOD have continuously dumfounded critics (and fans) with their melding of punk, art-rock, prog and desert rock. From their self-titled debut to the acclaimed ‘Source Tags & Codes’, the sextet have honed their sound. ‘The Century of Self’ is a typically bold statement from the Texan titans, with songs like ‘Halcyon Days’ and the poptastic ‘Fields of Coal’ standing out. However, it all feels a little too laboured to be up there with their best work and in parts reminiscent of the dull My Morning Jacket. A shame, elsewhere ‘The Century of Self’ really is rather good.
Rob Mair

BELL X1
BLUE LIGHTS ON THE RUNWAY
(Bellyup)
Pleasant Irish boys return.
3/5
You may have heard these guys covering ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ on a popular phone network commercial a few years ago or if you live in Ireland, where they’re apparently massive. Signs seem to point to this album being the one that gains them a wider following. The opening is a mellow, ‘80s tinged track with fantastic, quirky lyrics such as, “Like the ribs of a broken umbrella, sticking out of a bin”. ‘The Great Defector’ channels Talking Heads, maybe a little too much, but is still enjoyable. Paul Noonan’s impressive vocal range on ‘Light Catches Your Face’, is a brilliantly memorable ballad. A genuinely interesting band who are well worth a listen.
Tracey Lowe

BILLY CLUB SANDWICH
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
(Rucktion)
Gold plated ghetto hardcore, fool!
4/5
Despite the suckapunch vocals and visceral guitars, I can’t help but smile whenever I hear Billy Club Sandwich: I mean who doesn’t love gangster hardcore? This 8 track EP follows in the bands usual frantic style, with lyrics ranging from the standard NYC angry topics to hip-hop spits about life in the hood. It manages to balance a fun style of heavy punk with all the brutal concussion of metalcore. With 3 bonus videos included and a lyric guide with regular, cracker and Spanish versions (just in case your struggling with the lingo), this little release is a 24-carat gem in the career of the Bronx’s most badass hardcore collective.
Tom Williams

BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY
BEWARE
(Domino)
Audio drop-outs on promo copies are a very annoying thing. Except in this case.
4/5
The Bonnie one returns with yet another album of love, despair, hope and regret. A haunting mixture of Americana, folksy-punk and more, ‘Beware’ manages to be as uplifting as a slow-paced, thoughtful album could be. The familiar warble of the Prince is as relaxing as it ever was, especially on tracks such as ‘Death Final’ and ‘You Are Lost’, and is backed up by some wonderful guest vocalists. The flow isn’t even broken up that badly by the constant “this is a promotional copy” interruptions that Billy personally litters the album with. Yes, so they won’t be on the retail version, but shut up. Good stuff.
Ian Dransfield

CHRIS WOLLARD & THE SHIP THIEVES
CHRIS WOLLARD & THE SHIP THIEVES
(No Idea)
Hot Water Music vocalist goes back to roots (rock).
4/5
Many punk vocalists are turning their hand to self-indulgent acoustic side-projects these days but, as always, Chris Wollard side-steps convention and comes through with a truly immersive record. Mixing the early ‘90s influenced electric power-pop of infectious opener ‘No Exception’ and ‘All the Things You Know’ with the majestic, upbeat alt-folk/country of ‘Reason in My Rhyme’, ‘In the Middle of the Sea’ and the catchy ‘Oh Whatever’. While the odd track, such as ‘Up to the Moon’ lacks a solid hook and chorus, these 10 drawled tracks are full of soul and passion for music. Another triumph for Chris Wollard.
Ian Chaddock

CHUCK & THE HULAS
ALL GOOD PIRATES GO TO HAWAII
(Western Star)
Honolulu rock ‘n’ roll party.
4/5
I don’t know what it is about albums by Chuck Harvey, he gets away with what nobody else could. The genuine drug and booze battered lunatic of rockabilly has recorded an album of songs loosely based on fun and frolics in Hawaii, mostly classic songs just covered in Chuck’s inimitable fashion. There’s a smattering of reggae, rockabilly and country performed on double bass, ukulele, lap steel and ‘unprotected’ sax. ‘Remember You’re A Hula’ is even a loosely veiled 1970s kids TV programme theme tune! It’s a summery party album and it’s out while the snow around Western Star studio is a foot deep.
Simon Nott

DEFEATER
DEFEATER
(Bridge Nine)
Massachusetts hardcore with plenty to deliver.
4/5
Defeater originally released their self-titled debut album on Top Shelf. Top Shelf is owned by a Bridge Nine employee and the label wisely decided to pick ‘Defeater’ up and give it a wider release. This intelligent band’s album works best listened to as a whole and heralds a vital new force in the hardcore world. The music is hardcore without being clichéd, displaying fresh variety both in atmosphere and style. There are aspects of traditional hardcore but also more experimental leanings too. Overall, it’s a clever and cohesive piece of work. It’s definitely worth reading the lyrics book as well because the album is essentially an involving novella about one man’s travels.
Paul Hagen

DER FLUCH
IM DORF DER VERDAMMTEN
(Fiendforce)
Cult German gothabilly band’s comeback album.
3/5
Der Fluch (‘The Curse’) are hailed as the godfathers of German gothic rock in their homeland. They originally formed in 1981, recorded one album, split shortly after before rising from the grave, recording three more and calling it a day again in the early ‘90s. Cult status meant they wouldn’t stay dead for long, culminating in a return to the stage at the world’s largest goth festival Wave-Gotik-Treffen in 2007 and prompting them to re-record a bunch of their classic tracks along with three new ones. The result is an album which should appeal to fans of Rezurex and Zombina and The Skeletones. It’s all sung in German though, sprechen sie Deutsch, anyone?
Lee Cotterell

THE EXPLOITED
LET’S START A WAR/LIVE AND LOUD!
(Anagram)
Mohicaned Scots maniacs get a double-disc reissue.
3/5
This Exploited collection isn’t essential, consisting of the band’s third studio album from late 1983, the last to feature the mighty Big John Duncan on guitar, with Link Records’ ‘Live And Loud!’ compilation of live tracks from various gigs, with various line-ups, and variable results. Still, even if ‘Let’s Start A War’ didn’t match its illustrious predecessors on the material front, it showed that Wattie still had plenty of fire in his belly, and the live comp is fun, in a ragged sort of way. As always with these Anagram reissues, there are plenty of bonus tracks and great sleeve notes.
Shane Baldwin

FAKE PROBLEMS
IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE
(Side One Dummy)
Riotous indie-punk-folk mash-up generally hits the spot.
3/5
Though they were last seen in the UK supporting melodic punks Smoke Or Fire, Florida’s Fake Problems draw from an altogether wider musical palette than simply keeping it fast and loud. The super-posi titled ‘It’s Great To Be Alive’ comes across like the bastard offspring of The Hold Steady and Against Me! (circa ‘New Wave’), with a touch of Flogging Molly. When it works, it’s great – creating a party atmosphere on record. It’s just when things get a bit too quirky, as is the case on ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and ‘Level With The Devil’, that they begin to lose their charm slightly.
Nick Mann

THE GUILTY PLEASURES
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?
(Radio Controlled)
North Western punks unleash rousing political debut.
4/5
Hailing from the Lancaster/Manchester area, this three-piece are inspired by the likes of Anti-Flag, Rancid and Bad Religion and their first album is full of the kind of raging yet melody-filled modern politi-punk that would make Leftover Crack proud. With all three members providing gritty vocals, exemplified on opener ‘Fear, Hate, Lies, Deceit’ and infectious guitar lines, such as on the title track, this raucous and ragged bunch have the raw sound of the genre’s veterans (many of whom they’ve already shared a stage with) with the youthful power of the new wave. Catch them at Rebellion Festival to see what they’re fighting for.
John Damon

HENRY AND THE BLEEDERS
OUT OF CASH, OUT OF LUCK, OUT ON BAIL
(Western Star)
A driving license was sacrificed in the making of this album.
4/5
Henry and the Bleeders are one of the better of a whole host of young bands popping up to play rockabilly inspired music. While a lot of them are pushing the boundaries and getting involved in sorts of unholy and incestuous genre inter-fucking, H&TB are more than happy to belt out their take on the genre in a more traditional manner, with stomping songs about drinking. The album nearly didn’t happen at all after shenanigans at a local pub, a police helicopter and being generally naughty boys – read the cuttings in the sleeve!
Simon Nott

JOHN PLAYER SPECIALS
IDENTIFICATION EP
(Do The Dog)
Sweet and soulful stylings from Wigan youngsters.
4/5
Softly does it with the debut release from these Northern boys. In fact it’s such a gentle record that all five tracks pass by without too much of a tempo change or a wee bit of aggression. But this is melodic two-tone ska and they do it very well. With lead vocalist Jordan providing a very tuneful and soothing voice to the EP that at times feels like he might be holding back, especially on one of the darker tracks ‘Identification’, hinting that he has the ability to deliver more power. It’s all very promising but feels cautionary. However, it’s a lovely record that’s likely to make you wish it was summer already.
Sarah Cakebread

THE LOVED ONES
DISTRACTIONS
(Fat Wreck)
Philly soulful punks unleash EP of originals and covers.
3/5
The Loved Ones have released two quite different albums on Fat Wreck – 2006’s energetic ‘Keep Your Heart’ and last year’s more Boss-influenced ‘Build & Burn’. This new EP should keep fans happy until the next album, but it’s hit and miss. Of the three originals, ‘Distracted’ isn’t bad (with the Hold Steady’s Franz Nicolay on keys) and ‘Spy Diddley’ was recorded in their early, faster days. The acoustic Springsteen classic ‘Johnny 99’ is ruined with an electric interpretation but the reworkings of Billy Bragg’s ‘Summer Town Revisited’ and Joe Strummer and the Mescalero’s ‘Coma Girl’, as a pop punk tune and a campfire sing-along respectively, are pretty inspired efforts. Roll on album three.
Ian Chaddock

MAGAZINE
TOUCH AND GO: ANTHOLOGY 02.78 – 06.81
(Virgin)
Two-disc career spanning collection from the newly reformed post-punks.
5/5
While Howard Devoto’s chilly lyrical preoccupations and his band’s angular arrangements may have sat Magazine rather awkwardly among their contemporaries, thirty years down the line their intense musical vision can still provoke a sharp intake of breath. This adroitly selected two-CD rundown balances the choice extracts from Magazine’s four studio LPs, with single tracks including the knife-sharp swipe at punk conformity that is ‘Shot By Both Sides’ and a smattering of rarities including a vein-popping take on Captain Beefheart’s ‘Big Dummy’. As overlooked and misunderstood as Magazine have been over the years, Devoto and co. boast an impeccable back catalogue, one that affords fresh revelations on each listen.
Hugh Gulland

THE METEORS
KINGS OF PSYCHOBILLY: A 5 DISC CAREER RETROSPECTIVE
(Cherry Red)
Royals of the wrecking pit since 1980!
5/5
Ever wondered who was first responsible for taking the rockin’ spirit of the ‘50s and twisting it into the tortured, blood-spewing screams of psychobilly we know and love? For diehard fans, only one band can come to mind. Almost 30 years old and more demented than ever, The Meteors were there at the beginning – scratch that – The Meteors are the beginning. This 81-track retrospective picks all the choicest gory morsels from their career, right up to the present. The sleeve notes include a comprehensive history of the band via an interview with long-time member Mr. P. Paul Fenech. A must-have for any self-respecting gangrene greaser.
Tom Williams

THE ONLY ONES
THE ONLY ONES / EVEN SERPENTS SHINE / BABY’S GOT A GUN
(Sony)
Pristine reissues of the lost legends’ original albums.
5/5 / 5/5 / 4/5
The definitive band-out-of-time, the Only Ones flourished briefly but brilliantly between 1976 and 1980, pancaking messily in 1981 after a marked lack of commercial success, all the more paradoxical considering their much lauded 1978 single ‘Another Girl Another Planet’. The song was no fluke either – over their first two albums, the Only Ones delineate their own particular twilight world of gloom and glitter, Peter Perrett’s bewitching songs delving deep into emotional torment and forbidden love. If the final album is the sound of the Only Ones falling apart, it takes a band this good to make career burnout sound so stylish.
Hugh Gulland

PROPAGANDHI
SUPPORTING CASTE
(Hassle)
Canadian punk favourites unleash again on fifth full-length.
4/5
Having set the bar so high with their previous albums, most bands would struggle to keep the quality up. Not Propagandhi. ‘Supporting Caste’ is another behemoth that again stunningly melds hardcore punk, skate punk, huge melodies (‘Human(e) Meat’ is a sing-along with a great guitar solo at the end) and an obvious love of metal (most evident on crunching opener ‘Night Matters’ and the raging ‘This Is Your Life’) to jaw-dropping effect. There is a slight feel that the band are holding back and it lacks the urgency of the mighty ‘Today’s Empires…’, but it’s still a powerful and welcome return from one of Canada’s finest.
Ian Chaddock

PUSH THE GHOST
LISTEN UP!
(Scratched)
Aggressive? Check. Punk as fuck? Check. Set to be one of this year’s top bands? Double check!
4/5
This is pure punk rock spit and grit that comes tearing out of your speakers with this EP from the perhaps less punk rock Grimsby. Anthemic and frantic, ‘Listen Up!’ is a high-speed cocktail of Anti-Flag, Lagwagon and H20. It’s a mixture of ten dirty spirits in a big old jug that’ll knock you off your feet and leave you feeling the effects for weeks after. ‘Fnfg’ is a stand out track, invoking the melodic punch of Strike Anywhere. This is the kind of record that makes you want to go to a gig and get the living shit kicked out of you.
Sarah Cakebread

THE SEWER RATS
RAT ATTACK
(Bitzcore)
Excellent mash-up of all that’s good in punk.
4/5
The Sewer Rats’ debut album hits all the right spots from start to finish. The intro is by Mad Sin man-mountain Koefte De Ville but, apart from the use of the double bass, that is about all the nod there is to psychobilly. This platter owes much more to Social Distortion and Rancid. There’s plenty of snotty sneer in the songs, some heroic guitar riffs and double bass that actually contributes to the finished article, as opposed to being a visual prop, which all adds up to an album that should be tracked down and played loud.
Simon Nott

THE SHAKING HANDS
THE SHAKING HANDS
(A.D.D./Kiss Of Death)
Fist-pumping street punk from Gainsville, Florida.
3/5
You read it right, street punk from Florida and not some wannabe Hot Water Music or Against Me! band! The Shaking Hands mix up ingredients from the punk fountain of youth, both new and old. Bits of the Clash, Youth Brigade, early Rancid and a little Bouncing Souls-style chant-alongs all go into the broth. This 11-tracker won’t set the world alight in the originality stakes but it’s played with passion, precision and has some damn fine choruses, like the rousing ‘A New Reason To Rise’. Overall The Shaking Hands deserves to be sought out if you like your punk stomping and raucous.
Miles Hackett

THE SKIDS
THE ABSOLUTE GAME
(Captain Oi!)
Tasty re-issue of the Dunfermline punkers’ anthemic third outing.
4/5
Originally released in 1980, The Absolute Game was the final Skids album to feature Stuart Adamson’s stirring guitar work, but while his longstanding writing partnership with vocalist Richard Jobson would shortly fall apart, the Skids’ third saw the two riffing powerfully on each other’s input. One of the finest guitar talents of the UK punk era, Adamson fires off melodic volleys to Jobson’s semi-historical mini-epics. The album’s high points – opening track ‘Circus Games’, with its Slade-style kiddie-chorus, the captivating ‘Woman In Winter’ and ‘Arena’s masterful outro – arguably eclipse the band’s earlier, and better-remembered, hit singles.
Hugh Gulland

SPECIAL MOVE
CURSE OF THE BLACKWATER
(Rucktion)
The hardcore elite take a deep breath and dive.
4/5
Chelmsford beatdown merchants Special Move are back to deliver their unique eclectic style of musical pain and aural destruction. Despite forming over ten years ago, with their original heritage hailing back to the mid-‘90s UK hardcore explosion, ‘Curse Of The Blackwater’ marks the band’s second full-length release and hits harder than the spin kicks in the face it’s bound to instigate. Without any loss of their trademark vehemence and cruelty, ‘COTBW’ marries angry and lyrically innovative vocals with equally angry drum blasts and choking guitars. A full-bodied and blistering release with a tangy metallic aftertaste.
Tom Williams

THIN LIZZY
STILL DANGEROUS
(Thin Lizzy Productions)
What can you say…?
4/5
I normally avoid reviewing live albums because, let’s face it, most of them are shameless cash-ins or merely serve to satisfy contractual obligations. It would also be impossible to review this record without mentioning ‘Live and Dangerous’ (which this new record predates), considered by many to be a contender for one of the best live albums of all time. I am a huge fan of Thin Lizzy and this record captures probably the most effective line-up in brilliant form on the 1977 ‘Bad Reputation’ tour when the band were still buzzing from success. The editing is pretty brutal but you can’t fault it other than that.
James Batty

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