ALBUM REVIEWS (JAN/FEB 2014)
WHAT’S INSIDE YOU!?
Third full length from these German glam punks.
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.
AMERICAN WEREWOLF ACADEMY
OUT OF PLACE ALL THE TIME
US power rockers go back to analogue Americana and hit pay dirt.
Eschewing modern digital recording methods, American Werewolf Academy have released an album that touches on influences such as Cheap Trick, the Replacements and The 13th Floor Elevators, whilst having its own clear identity. Opener ‘Happy Anniversary, Your Majesty’ is all crunching power chords and Aaron Thedford’s smoky, whiskey-coated vocals. ‘Miserable Living’ is a Jayhawks-style rocker, with a gorgeous melody and some trademark light and shade. Previous albums have been somewhat frivolous but this one has a contemplative, mature slant that does AWA huge favours. The songwriting is all timeless American classic and the slashing riffola and acoustic interludes of ‘Free Beard’ recalls Nadine and Richmond Fontaine at their best, while ‘Bad Things’ is a darker, intense song with tremolo-laden guitars. Recommended highly and a late album of the year contender.
Second album from these Brit metal/punk ‘n’ rollers.
Apparently formed way back in 1993, Asomvel deliver their second album ‘Knuckle Duster’, which follows 2009’s debut ‘Kamikaze’. This trio, well, they are Motorhead lovers for sure. This is gritty, high-octane metallic rock ‘n’ roll with a punk influence that is no frills, pedal-to-the-metal. It’s the smell of dirty biker jackets, Marlboro reds, stale Holsten Pils and pub pool back rooms. Thumping tracks like ‘Cash Whore’ and the bluesy stomp of ‘Waster’ pull no punches. There’s no glamorous bullshit here, these guys fucking mean it. While the Motorhead influence is undeniable, ‘Knuckle Duster’ has its own mind and is the real deal. In these times when Lemmy’s hard living is catching up with him, you can listen to this and envisage him passing Asomvel the baton to keep the torch aloft in a sea of mediocrity.
Vancouver Oi!/street punks’ new EP.
Canadian five-piece Bishops Green cut a mean look and, with a sound that harks back to ’70s and ’80s heavyweights like Cocksparrer, Stiff Little Fingers and Blitz, they have the punch to back it up. This six track EP is a laced up boot to the ears, full of anthemic calls to arms that combine elements of Oi! and street punk, all pumped out with huge chorus hooks that are highly sing-along. The production is punchy and the songs infectious and rabble rousing. Bishops Green don’t claim to reinvent the wheel but more to pay homage to the scene they love, and they do it in their own guise with a modern enough approach to make it relevant. The only real gripe about this record is that there isn’t enough of it. Let’s hope they pen some more songs of this calibre soon.
Aussie siblings raise the banner for lo-fi rock ’n’ roll.
Since 2012’s ‘Go Easy’, Brisbane’s three Spencer siblings, plus guitarist friend Luke Walsh, have reined in their unpredictable experimental urges to create an album of pop songs. These are long songs, clocking in around the five to eight minute mark, distorto-pop anthems hanging on a rolling Krautrock beat, but pop nonetheless. Drummer/singer Daniel Spencer’s weird yelp of a voice sounds like it’s coming from the bottom of a well, and otherwise would lead to Pixies and Television comparisons, particularly on the single ‘Falling Down the Stairs’. Meanwhile ‘Violet Delivery’ is driven by Sarah Spencer’s Nuggetsy organ and ‘Baby Closes The Door’ begins like an electro-dancefloor mash-up before descending haphazardly into a heads-down two-chord Jonathan Richman workout. The ghostly screech of what sounds like homemade echo-sounding equipment adds to its sinister charm.
New material from the former Dead Boys guitar man.
We haven’t heard a lot out of Cheetah this way since his ‘Batusis’ collaboration with Sylvain Sylvain a few years ago, so this mini-album – Chrome’s debut as a solo artiste – comes as a welcome surprise. ‘Sharky’ opens proceedings, a summery instrumental twang, before Cheetah gives vent to his lived-in growl on ‘East Side Story’, a countryish bar-room lament to those Bowery days of yore. Some
Diddley-daddy jungle beat is stirred up for ‘Rollin’ Voodoo’, while full-pelt rock hits with ‘Stare Into The Night’ and ‘No Credit’. Closing on ‘Love Song To Death’, a moody jangler with an ominous bad-moon-rising lyrical motif, this recording is a satisfying solo entrée, boasting some strong material. Chrome delivers a decent job on vocals within his admittedly limited range and showcases his six-string clout to good effect.
BALLAD OF THE WORKING MAN
Sturdy street punk.
Vocalist Ian Kilgallon started out with ’80s punk outfit Intensive Care, then launched the wonderfully named Beerzone in 1997. He formed Control in 2008, and their debut album hit the shops the following year. Musically it was great – solid, speedy street punk, though some of the lyrics made for uncomfortable listening, particularly ‘Vigilante’, which was reactionary to say the least. No such worries with ‘Ballad Of The Working Man’, apart from a dig at the unemployed on ‘I’m Not Doing It’. The title track is a squalling, indignant shriek, with a huge chorus, and ‘Angry Punk Rock Song’ speaks for itself. ‘Tattoos’, for all its pace and chunky riffs, is actually a little more wistful, lyrically. It’s satisfying street punk, with top notch production, and even touches of Celtic punk on closer ‘Simple Soul’.
CRETIN CITY TERMINAL
A fervent first album for these East Midlands punk upstarts.
Northamptonshire punks Cretin 77 are rapidly making a name for themselves on the UK’s underground scene. Proving their mettle at shows across the country, including some dynamite Rebellion fest performances, a debut album has been a long time coming, and thankfully ‘Cretin City Terminal’ lives up to the live experience. Packed with variety, but maintaining a rapid, old school punk edge, the band’s mischievous and slightly malevolent take on the genre is thoroughly entertaining and echoes bands like UK Subs and The Cramps. Highlights include ‘Sleep In Your Car’, an amusing punk anthem, and ‘Satellite Smile’ which could easily have been ripped from a Dead Kennedys record. With touches of rockabilly thrown in for good measure and brilliant Biafra-style vibrato vocals throughout, this marks a grade-A debut for the rowdy quintet.
Glossy guitars, vintage vibes and tidy retro-finery.
With a fifty year career to draw on, Dave Edmunds has built a platinum plated pedigree as a producer and performer working with multi-variations on the musical scale, from pub rockers and post-punks to sitting in with heavy-hitting legends Clapton and Macca. A pure brewed rock ‘n’ roller, Dave’s first new release in two decades, ‘…Again’, is a handpicked retrospective collection of covers, rare recordings and new tunes that are nods and acknowledgement to his idols and influences. Although the hard varnish and polish shines, it doesn’t replicate the authenticity of the original era. Perhaps the slightly over-buffed sound is due to his finely tuned production ear leaving ‘…Again’s tone and twang closer to a clean country hoedown than a rock ‘n’ roll tear-up, and more production line squeak rather than gritty, back street squeal.
Ex-Misfits axeman returns with a new project.
After his recent live triumph teaming up with old Misfits cohort Glenn Danzig for a successful tour, Doyle goes it alone once more with this new album. Instead of the comeback era Misfits punky metal you might expect, he has opted for a more forthright metal approach, with riffs chugging at every turn on songs like ‘Cemetery Sexx’ (yup, the kitsch horror theme is still rolled out). Although vocalist Alex Story bears more than a passing resemblance to Danzig, he in fact sounds more like Phil Anselmo here. Former reformation era drummer Dr Chud is here too and is all double bass loco and staccato skin bashing crazy, but it does sound a little clichéd in places. Unadulterated metal – it’s slick, heavy and in places catchy. This is cartoon-like and larger than life… just like Doyle himself really.
ALAN AND THE WHITE HORSE
Cockney Rejects approved young guns with sparkling debut.
Produced by Mick Geggus, this first foray into the fray by EastEnd Promises is all catchy, hook-laden rock with a raw sensibility. They’re not from the punk stable, there’s more of a classic rock feel, filtered through contemporary sounds like Arctic Monkeys, but the sheer, youthful energy is totally encompassing. ‘Violent Spiders’ is typical; muscular riffing and neat rhythmic flourishes alongside Lewis Youles’ barrow boy bark. ‘Troubled London’ has a little ska/calypso in its grooves with the elastic bass of Youles holding it all down. Youles’ brother Jake and Wayne Maynard provide the guitar armoury and drummer Iason Everett gets his groove on just fine. ‘Sinned’ is a spacey, sinewy ballad with a bittersweet backbone and ‘Liam’s Fire’ is all chest-beating swagger and warrior soul. Not a bad introduction at all.
Political punk-infused rock ‘n’ roll debut from north England trio.
With influences that range from the Sex Pistols and The Clash to The Libertines and Manic Street Preachers, rebellious rockers the Exiles keep it hard and direct on ‘Universal Suffering’. Lyrically it’s socio-political and takes aim at everything, with the anti-commodification anthem ‘Sympathy for Dying Dolls’ and the media-attacking ‘Hollywood Lies’ being prime examples. Like The Clash there’s a militant reggae influence, shown by their furious cover of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Harder They Come’, and the dub sounds of ‘Meltdown’. However, the highlight is ‘Alphaville’, complete with ska mid-section, which addresses the government’s knee-jerk reaction to the English riots. The Exiles are proof that punk/rock ‘n’ roll can still stand for something and, in times like these with universal suffering, they’re needed more than ever. Turn it up loud and raise your fist.
Debut release from promising York band.
The garage punk revivalists’ follow-up to last year’s EP is their debut album ‘Stepford Smiles’. It contains nine one-word titled, raw yet poppy rock ‘n’ roll songs. It’s lo-fi to the core. The Franceens are reminiscent at times of a fired up Sonic Youth. Maybe it’s the backing vocal of bass player Naomi on ‘Attack’ that leads me to that ’90s grunge image. The guitar throughout is simple but brutal; I imagine a pile of dust at Dan’s feet where plectrums have disintegrated. ‘Alarm’ and ‘Alright’ would be awesome 45’s but there is so much energy here that even the turntable would need to stop for a rest. The album proper runs for about 25 minutes which is just about the right length, though there is enough in the tank for an excellent secret song at the end.
THE GRAVE BROTHERS VS. ADIOS PANTALONES
CLASH OF THE PRIMITIVES
A double dose of psychobilly from the continent.
It’s two bands for the price of one on this latest double release from Drunkabilly Records. Up first are The Grave Brothers, an Antwerp based psycho supergroup with members from the Tall Boys and Speedball Jr. Blending a mix of languid cowpunk and upbeat psychobilly, the record’s finest fare comes from the tracks that combine both aspects; ‘Are You Drinking With Me Jesus’ being a prime example. With a slurring intro that erupts into a bone rockin’ rhythm, it’s songs like this that really give vitality to the genre. Fellow Belgians Adios Pantalones may not be as seasoned, but they sure have heart, as evidenced by their virulent and sardonic style. With a sound reminiscent of acts like Klingonz, pit-fillers like the hilarious ‘Hairy Tits’ and ‘Come On Freddy’ are sure to satisfy.
HA HA TONKA
Missouri indie rockers’ uninspiring fourth album.
Hailing from West Plains, Missouri, Ha Ha Tonka are best described as Americana/indie rock. Album opener ‘Dead to the World’ echoes what I imagine Brian Fallon (of The Gaslight Anthem) would sound like going solo. ‘Colourful Kids’ is great and would not sound out of place on a Band Of Horses record. ‘Arabella’ and its coda ‘Lessons’ are the exception to what is otherwise a very average album. They work as well as A and B in the alphabet, mixing early Kings Of Leon attitude, the groove of Fleetwood Mac, and Crazy Horse distorted guitars. It’s nine minutes of pure gold. The rest of the album feels disjointed; maybe there are too many ideas. ‘Rewrite Our Ideas’ is a prime example, with a radio-busting intro and chorus, but verses that somehow upset the groove.
LULLABIES FOR DOGS
Oxford metal-punks’ Ant-assisted fourth album.
Formed in 1999, it’s been five long years since Headcount’s last album ‘To The Point’. A big shouty comeback was obviously required, so enter Adam & The Ants and Models guitarist Marco Pirroni on guitar, songwriting and production duties. After the kind of meandering intro that makes you wonder whether you’ve got the right disc, the album begins in earnest with ‘Liar’, although that takes nearly a minute to take off after a trudge through the industrial mire. ‘News Corpse’, referencing the News Of The World scandal, and ‘Black Dog Days’ – recently picked up by mental health charity SANE – find them getting into a more comfortable in-your-face Killing Joke groove. Getting into their stride, ‘Greed’, ‘Tortured Tongue’ and ‘What I’m Worth’ are intense thrashers that’ll happily set the mosh pit alight. A worthy comeback.
THE LOST REFUGE
Grungy punks’ second studio offering.
Two years on from their debut, London’s Healthy Junkies have established themselves as one of the punk underground’s hardest gigging groups. ‘Scam Update’s fierce indie attitude and ‘Resistance’s chugging riffs and charging drums (from Lords of the New Church sticksman Danny Fury) prove that a warm reception at Rebellion and string of coveted supports were well-deserved. However, punk rock is only half the story in the studio. There’s also a wide streak of scuzzy Daisy Chainsaw grunge here, and then there’s the cover of Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie En Rose’ – a brave move made plausible by vocalist Nina Courson’s Parisian roots. Mustering both angelic melodies and a harridan howl, Nina’s voice is the band’s most obvious asset, although guitarist Phil Honey-Jones also excels himself trading spiky retorts with her on closing duet ‘Sex War’.
Street Dogs man gives Oi songs a country makeover.
Johnny Rioux is a stalwart of the Boston punk scene, best known for playing bass with the Street Dogs, as well as stints with Roger Miret and the Disasters and The Bruisers. He’s also been a guitar tech for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, tour managed the Dropkick Murphys and produced Flatfoot 56. Somehow, on top off all these activities, he’s found the time to record an album of well-known Oi anthems in a country/rockabilly style. Some songs lend themselves particularly well to this treatment, with Sham 69’s’ ‘If The Kids Are United’, Blitz’s ‘Someone’s Gonna Die Tonight’ and the Angelic Upstarts’ ‘Police Oppression’ all stand outs. Whether die hard Oi/street punk fans will appreciate this album remains to be seen, but I can see the appeal for fans of Boss Hoss and Chip Hanna.
KITCHENS OF DISTINCTION
Return of the ’80s/’90s London alt-rockers with first new album in almost 20 years.
Tooting’s the Kitchens Of Distinction reunited in 2012 and now unveil their fifth full-length ‘Folly’. Evoking dreamy big beat psyche and alternative rock’s late ’80s high tide, this belated release opens with confidence and accomplished maturity, whilst retaining a fresh soundscape of modern relevance. By midway through, however, a sense of formulaic repetition overshadows a promising start, with little distinction between tracks. Even so, the strengths of this album lie within its exemplary musicianship, keen sense of melody and sweeping arrangements. Highlight ‘Japan to Jupiter’ is one of the best examples, followed by a number of other worthy contenders – ‘Wolves/Crows’, ‘I Wish it would Snow’ and closer ‘The Most Beautiful Day’. It’s a strong representation of a band in tune with their capabilities but not quite their possibilities.
THE KOFFIN KATS
BORN OF THE MOTOR
(Ring Of Fire)
Detroit’s all-American operatic psychos.
The Koffin Kats have what you might describe as a stereotypical moniker for a psychobilly band. That is misleading though because, although they have a huge following in that scene, there’s more to them than that. A genre born of the UK and more recently embraced by the bands in the US, there is a definite range of differing influences. The homegrown ’80s originators were generally rockabillies, with a serious injection of punk venom. More recent incarnations from over the pond, including the Koffin Kats, appear to be more disciples of The Misfits, from where they get their insidious slow drip punk venom and add a undercurrent of ‘billy slap bass. The musicianship is second to none, the stage show not to be missed and this album is melodic, dramatic and strikingly well executed.
THE LAST RESORT
THIS IS MY ENGLAND – SKINHEAD ANTHEMS III
Third instalment from street punk veterans.
The original Last Resort (named after Micky French’s shop on Goulston Street, which specialised in skinhead apparel) were led by vocalist ‘Millwall’ Roi Pearce, with Arthur ‘Bilko’ Kitchener, Charlie Duggan and Andy ‘Longfellow’ Benfield. They released ‘A Way Of Life – Skinhead Anthems’, in conjunction with the shop, in 1982; a massively influential Oi! album. Since Roi put together a new line-up of the band, they released ‘You’ll Never Take Us – Skinhead Anthems II’ in 2009, and here’s the third instalment. So, how does ‘This Is My England – Skinhead Anthems III’ shape up? Very well indeed, is the answer. Roi’s vocals are suitably hectoring, the band churn out authentic, rock hard street punk, and the production is top notch, adding a modern studio sheen to the grit.
RUSTIN’ AND ROLLIN’
A boogie-woogie bonanza for these German rock ‘n’ roll heroes.
With 2014 marking their third decade on the circuit, it’s safe to say it’s been a thrilling ride for The Lennerockers so far. With nearly 2,500 shows under their belts, including one aboard a Boeing 757 and another 500m underground, the Hagan based rock ‘n’ roll troupe have seen pretty much all there is to in the rock ‘n’ roll arena. Their fifteenth release, ‘Rustin’ And Rollin’’, is a quirky beast of a record that sounds somewhere between Chas ‘n’ Dave and Johnny Cash. With plenty of boogie-woogie piano and a solid pop-rockabilly base, ‘Freckles’ and ‘Oakie Boogie’ are pure party fodder, making it easy to see why the band have lasted this long. Delightfully commercial, if not a tad tawdry in places, this is arguably the definition of fun, good-time rock ‘n’ roll.
Reformed ’90s NY alt-rockers with first new album in 14 years.
Formed in New York in 1991, Luscious Jackson carved a cool but sizzling reputation that decade, with their contagious funk-rock hybrid and street punky attitude. Singer-bassist Jill Cunniff, singer-guitarist Gabby Glaser, keyboardist Vivian Trimble and drummer Kate Schellenbach (who’d played with the Beastie Boys 1981-’84) released three albums on the Grand Royal label, played 1994’s Lollapalooza and had a top 100 hit with ‘Naked Eye’, before splitting in 2000. In 2011, the group reunited (minus Vivian) to record their first music since 1999’s ‘Electric Honey’. From the opening break-beat hump of ‘Show Us What You Got’, they’ve lost none of their downtown spunk and feel for breakbeat swagger, subtle soul touches and choruses the B-52s would kill for, with old mucker Adam Horowitz sprinkling over the crashing ‘So Rock On’. One reunion worth celebrating very loudly.
Debut EP of UKHC from members of Capdown and Vanilla Pod.
Formed last year, Menshevik boast a pedigree line-up which features drummer Tim McDonald (Capdown), guitarist Steve Pitcher (Vanilla Pod), bassist Dan Hawcroft (ex-Whizzwood) and vocalist Rob Dempsey (Mustard City Rockers). For their debut this Norfolk quartet have produced an explosive six track EP of straight-up hardcore punk, drawing influence from ’80s US illuminati like Poison Idea, Gorilla Biscuits and DRI, as well as ’90s UK game changers Imbalance. ‘Draw The Line’ and ‘Textbook Slaughter’ are politically charged, short, sharp shocks of incendiary thrashy punk that are razor sharp with gang choruses galore. A punchy production, courtesy of Will McGonagle from Hell Is For Heroes, adds a powerful urgency to proceedings. Although influenced largely by US bands they manage to retain a snarling Brit feel. An exhilarating debut from a strong collective of musicians.
MICK FARREN & ANDY COLQUHOUN
BLACK VINYL DRESS
Fitting epitaph for the late British counterculture legend.
‘Black Vinyl Dress’ has to be one of the most accomplished collections of work Mick Farren and Andy Colquhoun have made together in nearly 40 years of musical collaboration. Sounding in remarkably fine voice, given his increasing ill-health at the time, Farren’s distinctive spoken poetry style delivery is made even more poignant by the fact that, apart from a new Deviants single released earlier this summer, these are the last recordings he made before he died in July. With nearly all instrumentation taken care of by Colquhoun, Jakki Miles-Windmill provides additional percussion and backing vocals on several tracks, including a great cover of The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Elsewhere, Colquhoun’s trademark guitar licks run riot on the rockier ‘Venus On Her Shell’ and ‘Dark Matter’. Farren’s lyrics are never anything less than evocative, especially on ‘Cocaine & Gunpowder’.
THE MEMORY OF ECHOES
Straps bassist’s other outfit team up with veteran punk producer Pat Collier.
Taking their name from a disease in which the sufferer labours under the delusional disbelief that they are infested with parasites, thankfully there are no flies, parasitic or otherwise, on these Morgellons. It’s seven tracks of pure punk eclecticism that run the gamut from post-punk spikiness through the more raucous trad punk of ‘Rose Tint Parade’ to punkabilly and ska. At times The Morgellons paint a bleak post-punk landscape, portraying as they do the humdrum and harsh reality of modern life – the jagged opener ‘Monochrome Soul’ and ‘Still Life’ being cases in point. There are some bleak takes on doomed relationships too, as well as obsessive love – just check out The Cramps-like ‘Subterranean Homesick Beast’, or the ska-ified punk skanker that is ‘Lester Beale’. Contemporary post-punk at its finest.
Taking the top of your head off, one track at a time.
This is ten epic slabs of unhinged musical delinquency that will surely cement Mutation’s reputation as leading purveyors of bludgeoning industrial viciousness on this second platter from the band that unite a Wildheart, a Cardiac and a Napalm Deather, amongst others. Heck, even Mark E. Smith wanders into the fray to grump things up for good measure. Heavier yet far more musically complex than the likes of Ministry, the aptly named Mutation weave Fantomas style intricacy into each frantic track and, although everything seems set to overload, there is a diversity, humour and, dare I say, joy that is sadly lacking in most grindcore/extreme metal offerings. Just when you think you know where a track is going, it veers off into some oddly-structured melody circus, showcasing elements of each member’s diverse musical past. ‘Error 500’ is refreshingly unique.
ROBERT COYNE WITH JAKI LIEBEZEIT
THE OBSCURE DEPARTMENT
Gifted Brit rock progeny keeps VIP company.
What’s in a name? Robert Coyne is the son of one of the UK’s finest songwriters, the much-missed Kevin Coyne. He doesn’t make waves about it, which is perhaps how he’s managed to make a couple of quietly brilliant albums while holding down various roles in bands like North London’s Venus Ray and reformed surfer psych-dudes The Barracudas. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have noticed this album if it wasn’t a collaboration with Jaki Liebezeit, drummer with Can, one of the most important bands of the past 50 years. Constructor of the clever, catchy and much copied ‘Vitamin C’ drum pattern, Liebezeit applies his beats to Coyne’s repetitively rhythmic solo acoustic pieces, graced by occasional keys and strings, and laced with mournfully-voiced laconic and gently witty lyricism.
LAST ONE BEFORE SNUFFIN’ OUT???
Veteran Belgian psychobilly band re-emerges.
Belgian trio The Swampys have surfaced again after sinking, thankfully not without a trace, in the 1980s. They were popular on the European scene back then, without setting the world alight, and their sound is still definitely wallowing in the 1980s, with a very prominent double bass. The vocals are (I think) largely sung in English, though are hard work to decipher. While dipping into this album will undoubtedly result in a fast and furious track – which will delight any fan of the genre – as an album it’s tedious and lacks variety. Jangly and sparse guitar with tinny double bass interspersed with vocals and the oft used ‘bluuuuuuurgh’ before yet another double bass solo is more than this review can stand in one sitting. Great in short blasts but this new Swampys full-length sadly gets bogged down.
BLUR THE LINE
(Oh Wow Dang)
Nashville four-piece bring a naked sense of self to their third album.
Having created something of a stir on Fox News with their banner display of their nude shot cover art outside a local record store, the Nashville boy-girl band can at least take comfort in the fact that it was all worthwhile. This is a good album and it deserves to be heard. Not, as their PR puff would suggest, a “garage punk” outing. There’s no need to paint it with that brush, given the polish supplied by Roger Moutenot, who has worked with Yo La Tengo, and their edgy tunes that could give Haim a run for their money, if they had the same major money behind them. Stand outs are the opener ‘Oh God’ and the Bangles crunching ‘Optimist’. Go see them.
ACOUSTIC SESSIONS: VOLUME 1
Solo in the studio, the songsmith’s stripped down hits and highlights.
If you’ve seen TV Smith at one of his solo shows you’ll know you’re never left feeling short-changed by his performance. His battered and beaten guitar becomes a weapon of trash destruction used for unrelenting acoustic attack and clench-fisted strumming. ‘Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1’ renders a studio recording of that solo experience for your home hi-fi, gathering together newer material with classics from TV’s back catalogue. It’s recorded with a camp-fire intimacy and crisp clarity that allows every well-chiseled lyric and sharp-eyed observation to shine through. Solidly constructed songs (not just vehicles for a catchy chorus) with a power-pop sensibility, it’s an album that sits alongside the Angry Brigade output of Pete Townsend, Roger Waters and Lou Reed, but hits you with the wallop of bare knuckle punk.
THE VON NITROS
MAKE SOME NOISE
(The Von Nitros)
The fens are alive with the sound of grooving.
Blazing a trail out of Cambridge like Evel Knievel gunning towards a take-off ramp, The Von Nitros literally rip their raw and raggy riffs bleeding from the speakers like Question Mark and the Mysterians having a death race chase with The Sonics and The Seeds. It’s full-on, grebo-garage a go-go for ghost riders and surf-rockers, grabbing a handful of hammond-twang and kick-start guitar borrowed from your favourite bowl-cut bands. But it’s not all strictly ’60s influences, hints of The Hives and The Horrors can be heard haunting these ditties. A re-twist of The Stranglers’ ‘No More Heroes’ burns you like an icepick on ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree’ – but it’s mostly The Damned that’s the rocket fuel powering ‘Time’ and ‘Make Some Noise’. A glorious racket like the Bash Street grandchildren of Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets.
Underground synth hooks up with garage guitar.
Here’s a London four-piece that have been casting dark shadows over the world of synth-charged goth pop for a few months now. Vuvuvultures grew out of self-promoted parties in the derelict factories of north east London and ‘Push/Pull’ is their attempt to drag things in the direction of overground. This is a haunting, pulsating mix of oozing industrial mayhem, with some deft touches. They’re tipped for big things and have Max Heyes (Doves, Massive Attack, Primal Scream) to thank for the album’s diverse sound that is readily hard to pigeonhole. There’s rare intensity alive and kicking in the Vuvuvultures camp; try the captivating opener ‘Ctrl Alt Mexicans’ , ‘Tell No One’ or lead single ‘Steel Bones’. Captivating yet abrasive, with vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie in places, here’s 12 tracks that look set to start a feeding frenzy for these rising anti-heroes.
Heavy tripping psych-rock au-go-go.
Once masters of the double drummer-led sonic assault, time appears to have mellowed The Warlocks somewhat. More dreamy than driving, this eighth full-length effort swaps that battering ram rhythm section for softer, psychedelic pastures which, occasionally, meander towards directionless. ‘Silver & Plastic’, for instance, just wanders and wanders and… wanders, whilst the closing ‘Eyes Jam’ is just that, a rather pointless and lengthy jam that never finds its way. Negatives aside, tracks like the opening ‘Dead Generation’ rock really hard, blending twisted psychedelia with the Kraut rock throb and beat of Neu or even Spacemen 3. Given time, and plenty of patience, ‘Skull Worship’ is a definite grower that’s easier to like than love. Here’s hoping UK dates are imminent as live is where The Warlocks really shine.
THE WIFE BEATERS
THE BEAT GOES ON!
(The Wife Beaters)
Garage rock from Devon.
What fresh hell is this they send to me? The Wife Beaters?! Total fail on the band name fellas, no matter how tongue-in-cheek it may be intended. Hailing, I believe, from Plymouth, this quartet clearly fancy themselves as Social D styled rock ‘n’ roll sick boys, but their homage to flame-decaled muscle cars, junk food, loose women, etc. is so ridiculously clichéd it’s hard to take these pasty looking blokes too seriously. I can imagine they get a beer fuelled Friday night bar crowd letting their hair down, to the likes of ‘Assassin’, ‘Scumbag Blues’ and ‘Alone With You’, but on a cold sober midweek evening, these 17 tracks rarely set my stereo on fire. More ‘Somewhere Between Devon and Hell’, than ‘White Light, White Heat, White Trash’. And the beat goes off.
WILLE AND THE BANDITS
(Wille And The Bandits)
Groove-soaked Cornish blues ’n’ beyond rockers.
Already establishing something of a live reputation through incendiary performances with the likes of Deep Purple, John Butler Trio and Joe Bonamassa, Cornish acoustic power trio Wille And The Bandits can only build on it, based on the evidence of new album, ‘Grow’. There’s a maturity, both musically and lyrically, on the 11 self-penned tracks, with anti-war ballad ‘Still Go Marching In’ proclaiming powerfully, “They call it a war for peace, but the irony beggars belief”, whilst they display their versatility on the reggae/blues hybrid ‘Why D’you Do It?’ and the dazzling fretboard flamenco-esque closer, ‘Angel’. They’re also most capable of getting down ’n’ dirty, as on the slide-fired ‘Gypsy Women’, or offering radio-friendly alt-rock anthems like ‘Butterfly For A Day’. More proof, if required, of their intelligence and flair.