ALBUM REVIEWS (JUL/AUG)
BLACK DOG BARKING
Aussie hard rockers kick out the jams on album three.
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.
BLACK STAR RIDERS
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
Former Thin Lizzy members unveil uplifting debut album.
It’s admirable that guitar legend Scott Gorham and the other members of Black Star Riders, who have been touring with great success lately under the name Thin Lizzy, have wisely decided to go under the new moniker of Black Star Riders to record, without the late great Phil Lynott. But the Irish rockers, completed by Damon Johnson (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), Jimmy DeGrasso (drums) and the powerful (and Lynott-like) vocals of The Almighty frontman Ricky Warwick, have captured the spirit and attitude of classic ‘Lizzy on this album. The highlights outweigh the filler, with first single and future anthemic live favourite ‘Bound For Glory’ (sounding almost like ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’), the Celtic flavoured, ‘Black Rose’ era-esque ‘Kingdom Of The Lost’ and the stomping ‘Before The War’ proving BSR are looking forward as well as back.
STAND OR DIE
(People Like You)
Ex-Gluecifer man finally delivers third album.
When Oslo rockers Gluecifer called it quits, guitarist Captain Poon was quick to step up to the plate, front and centre, with his new band Bloodlights. After coming up with their first two albums in quick succession, thanks to instability and line-up changes, it’s taken until now to deliver the ‘difficult’ third album. All is now present and correct in Bloodlights’ world as they continue to draw on the classic rock of AC/DC, Motorhead and, in the melodic lead guitar lines, Thin Lizzy. The title track is built on the breakneck double-bass drum beat of ‘Overkill’, ‘I Got Mine’ nicks the riff from ‘Let There Be Rock’ and mid-paced anthemic chugger ‘Blackouts And Landmines’ borrows the bell from ‘Hell’s Bells’. Derivative as all hell, but it rocks like a bastard for sure.
DAMNED IF I DO
A damned delight.
This release sees the iconic 1977 period Damned revisited by original line-up guitarist and songsmith, Brian James and friends. It’s a playful and refreshing mix of first album highlights, including ‘Fan Club’, ‘I Fall’, ‘Feel the Pain’ (delightfully revived) and the first two classic singles, alongside a couple of impressively invigorated (now superior sounding) ‘Music for Pleasure’ LP songs – ‘You Take My Money’ and ‘Alone’. Also revisited is the often elusive ‘Sick of Being Sick’. From ‘New Rose’ and ‘Born to Kill’ – which is now the pure Iggy homage it originally aspired to be – to album closer ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’, the result is fresh and inspired. And we also get the lovely treat of hearing punk pin-up Gaye Advert’s intro to ‘New Rose’… worth the price of admission alone.
Glaswegian garage schlock-rockers first album proper is a (serial) killer.
Coming on part Alice Cooper drama, part Cramps stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll chaos, The Coffins’ proper debut is a balls-out, blood-soaked monster. Frontman Joe Bone is the diminutive, besuited fairground barker who leads the band, and his blues-soaked, gravelly voice recalls Alex Harvey’s darker moments. Guitarist Bil Gilchrist’s metallic shrieks and swoops add dynamism to the elastic groove of rhythm section Graham Platt and Mike Werninck. The Coffins specialise in songs celebrating lust, murder, alcohol and drug-hoovering and their horror-shtick is tongue-in-cheek, if no less alarming. Bible John is the titular as-yet un-apprehended ’60s Glasgow serial killer. “You dancin’? Ah’m askin,” growls Bone in that unmistakeable, deathly sinister tone. ‘Internet Police is a wah-driven, slinky thing that ends up living in your brain. Watch this space. The Coffins are ready to be exhumed.
THE CRAZY SQUEEZE
THE CRAZY SQUEEZE
Accomplished sleaze and power pop-fuelled punk.
Billed as a “a veritable justice league of punk rock”, the Crazy Squeeze have quite a press release to live up to. Comprising of singer/guitarist Johnny Witmer from the Stitches, guitarist Frankie Delmane from the Teenage Frames, bassist Christ B from the Richmond Sluts, and drummer Johnny Sleeper of Superbees, the Crazy Squeeze operate firmly in retro territory. From the NY sleaze of Johnny Thunders-style opener ‘All Lies’ to the denser ’77-style ‘Little Girl’ and glammy, Slade-esque ‘Something On My Mind’, the Crazy Squeeze deliver a satisfyingly varied collection of old school sounds. And by the time you chuck in a fine cover of the Boys’ ‘Terminal Love’ (with Honest John Plain himself on guitar) and a decent take of Cock Sparrer’s ‘I Need A Witness’, you can’t go wrong. Shane Baldwin
I WILL BE ME
A mixed bag of Kinks flavours.
As a fan of The Kinks I approached this new Dave Davies offering with curious anticipation. From the guitarist who gave us the classic ‘You Really Got Me’s iconic proto-HM riff that influenced countless bands thereafter, this return to rock is admirable, but unfortunately a mixed bag. Openers ‘Little Green Amp’ and ‘Livin’ in the Past’ (much like a lot of the album) are guitar-heavy pastiches of past glories and far too MTV rock sounding. ‘The Healing Boy’ and ‘When I First Saw You’ are welcome relief ballads and ‘The Actress’ is a highlight. Ultimately though, it’s M.O.R rock interspersed with plenty of familiar Davies Kink-like flavours: an almost formidable collection of melodic songwriting craft, let down by its lapse into rock star legend and guests at play mode.
Welcome return of Belfast punk stalwarts.
With the current wave of interest in the late ’70s/early ’80s Belfast punk scene generated by the recent ‘Good Vibrations’ film, The Defects couldn’t have timed the release of their comeback album better. Like Stiff Little Fingers they were never signed to the label themselves, but they bridged an important gap between the first wave of Northern Irish punks and the UK82 scene. Thirty years after their debut, they retain that spark of righteous indignation, albeit tempered with a respectful acknowledgement of their heritage. They directly reference The Troubles on ‘Riot Free Zone?’ and there’s a nod to The Clash on ‘Revelator’. Elsewhere they take Bob Marley and The Wailers’ ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ and give it a full punk rock makeover. Decades on, older and wiser, there’s definitely a place for The Defects in the 21st Century.
DIRT BOX DISCO
PEOPLE MADE OF PAPER
Packaged like lo-fi punk rock but sounding like world beating buzz saw rock mania.
Few things quite add up to the sum of its equal parts in the disparate world of Dirt Box Disco. Think lyrics direct from the Macc Lads, an image that has more of a nod to glam rock and harmonies the Beach Boys would be proud of and you’re just about a spitting distance away from their addictive punk rock malaise. Here’s a band that’s truly shaking up the status quo with a two fingered salute to just about everything. Proving there’s more to Burton-On-Trent than Marston’s Brewery, this ferocious follow-up to their ‘Legends’ debut long player looks like being another mini classic and has a welcome nod to UK82 rather than the hardcore-ish influences of their inaugural album. 21st century disco has never been so much fun. Neil Anderson
THE VALUE OF NOTHING
Supersuckers’ power-pop king goes power-country, y’all hear?
Considering Bloodshot Records regard themselves, “the home of insurgent country music”, it’s little surprise the direction Supersuckers mainman Eddie Spaghetti’s heading on this solo outing. Playing out of surrogate hometown Austin, Texas, Spaghetti’s distinctive, dulcet tones flow over this smokin’ collection of originals (a previous solo effort featured covers, from The Dwarves to Johnny Cash), and he winds up mixing punk sensibilities, amplified acoustic guitars and hot, rollicking, down-home fun. ‘The Value Of Nothing’ genuinely shows country music needn’t be all line dancing and ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, with swearing, a real gritty edge, toe-tappers and outright barn-burners aplenty. Also, for added poignancy, closing proceedings is the rather touching ‘When I Go, I’m Gone’. This is one class collection from a man who, thankfully, appears determined to age disgracefully.
THE EDEN HOUSE
Collaborative project from members of Fields Of The Nephilim/Adoration unleash second album of gothic rock.
Featuring Stephen Carey (Adoration), Tony Pettitt (Fields Of The Nephilim founding member) and Andy Jackson (Pink Floyd and Gilmour engineer), The Eden House certainly have the calibre. And on this follow-up to their 2009 debut ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ they have another diverse and absorbing set of songs. With the list of guest musicians including Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Simon Hinkler (The Mission) and Lee Douglas (Anathema), the results are impressive. Lead single and opener ‘Bad Men’ has a trip-hop meets rock feel and ‘Indifference’ and ‘First Light’ mix Fields Of The Nephilim and Pink Floyd into slightly avante garde compositions. But the strongest tracks are the rhythm-driven rockers ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Wasted On Me’. Not quite as enthralling as their debut but another fine release from accomplished musicians.
UK smash ‘n’ grab punk rock for the traditionalist.
Ciderfootballpunkrock’ is a back to basics punk rock record. It wouldn’t surprise me if the drums were made from dustbins and cardboard boxes, the guitars were tuned up by a friend of the band, and someone is there holding the bass player’s fingers on the right notes. It’s exactly how punk should sound – simple, raw, and imperfect. ‘Daytime Drinking’ and ‘Doris’ would be great 7’’ singles. As would the title track ‘Ciderfootballpunkrock’. At times I can hear a bit of UK Subs, other times Sham 69. The album ends on a cover of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ and, although brilliant, it is far from beautiful. These South West London/Kingston veterans have delivered another anthemic album that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Silky smooth and super cool jazz-blues.
Stealing Flowers’ is Paris born, London based Florence Joelle’s second album. It was recorded the old-fashioned way, direct to analogue tape over four days. If the idea of going back to basics was to try and recapture the element that is missing from the modern methods of just building music then it has worked – this has soul. The album exudes warmth and takes you to a different place musically, probably some café in Paris. Lyrically though, it can disarm you, behind the beautiful blues-jazz acoustics and silky smooth vocals the message is often less glamorous and more urban. Violence on London buses, riots in the streets and brutality against ethnic minorities all get a vocal airing in a paradoxically beautiful way. This is a feel-good album with so many contradictions, but easy like Sunday morning.
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF DREAMS EP
Radio-friendly US punk rockers hit a home run.
Los Angeles punk ‘n’ roll specialists The Generators have been around for well over a decade and have an incredible body of work behind them. Thankfully, this six track EP does not disappoint either. ‘The Deconstruction of Dreams’ features four brand new studio tracks and two live recordings. Opening song ‘The Day Love Died’ is solid and really catchy, with the lyrics reminiscent of something Social Distortion’s Mike Ness might write. ‘Sweet Misery’ and ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks’ are the stand out tracks though – the latter being incredibly infectious punk songs about the struggles and challenges of the harder side of life. My only criticism is that it is only an EP – I want more, gimme more!
MARCHING ON AND ON
Truly excellent street punk.
Gimp Fist were formed in Darlington in 2005 by singer/guitarist Jonny, bassist Chris and drummer Mike, initially with second guitarist Weasel before reverting to the three-piece, which they have remained since. The striking resemblance of this new album’s sleeve to The Last Resort’s ‘A Way Of Life: Skinhead Anthems’ is no coincidence as the band specialise in traditional Oi!, albeit with more pep and higher production values than most of the original ‘Sounds’ disciples, right from stomping opener ‘First In Line’, replete with pumping bass and soaring backing vocals. The slightly modernising influence of Rancid is also heavily present, particularly on the bouncy ‘Fear Of Unemployment’, the title track and the blistering ‘Battered & Bruised’. But there’s also hefty reggae with ‘Guilty’. Street punk’s legacy is in safe hands here.
THE TERROR OF MODERN LIFE
Sixth album from John Robb’s punk mob.
Not content with being a broadcaster, journalist and author, John Robb still finds the time to make music and he’s certainly back with a blast, with this, the follow-up to 2008’s ‘Mutiny’. The good news is that Goldblade haven’t lost any of their vitriol, no doubt fuelled by our current government, resulting in a diverse sounding, politically charged record. Robb’s vocal sneer is reminiscent of the Jon Lydon or Jello Biafra at times, the rhythmic drums add elements of Killing Joke while some guitar licks are as straight-up as the UK Subs. It’s all done with an urgency and contemporary relevance that will resonate with punk fans young and old. Robb may have dedicated his life to being a punk rock historian but it’s great to see he’s still contributing to its long running legacy.
THE KATMEN COMETH…
Rockabilly royalty Darrel Higham and Slim Jim Phantom have fun.
There is no doubting that Darrel Higham and Slim Jim Phantom have earned their place as rockabilly heroes. Going under the moniker The Katmen, they are joined by Imelda May’s stand-up bass player Al Gare and, if I am not very much mistaken, Imelda herself (she’s Higham’s wife) on backing vocals. As you would expect the whole musicianship aspect is top-drawer. The material is a mixture of styles that come under the rockin’ bracket and they have ploughed a fairly straight furrow with it, dare I say verging on the middle of the road in places. Half of the tracks come from Darrel, while the rest are a mixture of covers and Rocker/Phantom compositions. It is excellent for what it is, but one unoriginal song is even called ‘We Need Elvis Back’.
DUTCH MASTERS VOLUME FIVE
Another winning acoustic release for this UK punk luminary.
Best known as the celebrated frontman for Spear Of Destiny and ’80s post-punks Theatre of Hate, singer/songwriter Kirk Brandon has more recently been exploring his acoustic side, with ‘Dutch Masters Volume Five’ marking the latest in his line of unplugged efforts. Showcasing the full intensity of his raw and poignant vocals, the record collects various covers from Brandon’s former bands, including stunning stripped-down versions of ‘Original Sin’ and ‘Embassy Song’, plus a few newbies thrown in to sweeten the deal. With its lead single ‘Skyfall’ making Adele’s original seem almost lacklustre in comparison, these renditions are arguably some of the finest of Brandon’s career and, while his singing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this collection is guaranteed to evoke emotion in even the coldest of individuals.
Gloucestershire street punks’ debut album.
Noise Agents’ roots are in Gloucester’s most famous punk band Demob. Their debut is full of glorious punk guitar licks and, although some may disregard it as too derivative, there’s much to admire on this slab of in-yer-face, devoted-to-punk, guitar driven swagger. Openly wearing their punk/oi influences proudly, this isn’t just poor-punk-plagiarism; we get crisp production, clear vocals, uplifting backing vocals and buckets of melody. With this genre, lyrics focus on negative aspects of life and there’s the usual cliche titles (‘Together We Stand’) but no matter, like all the great street punk bands, Noise Agents evoke the vibe of a band enjoying themselves, making for an undeniably positive listen. Crank this up to full volume, especially album stand-outs ‘School Daze’, ‘Jungle’ and ‘Leave Us Alone’, and revel in a band kicking up an entertaining storm.
Solid second effort from female fronted Mancunian rockers.
Manchester’s Obsessive Compulsive have been doing the rounds for more than a decade and yet they have still not crossed paths with many people’s radars. They are now onto their sophomore effort, and if you were familiar with their 2010 debut, you’ll know what to expect. Undeniably they play with a grit and determination, just with a far too simple approach. It’s no frills rock ‘n’ roll with a slight metal tinge, and tracks like ‘Regurgitate’ and ‘Nail In The Coffin’ are fun enough for you not to be embarrassed to head bang once in a while. The majority of the record does however act more like a playlist at your local rock night. But to her credit, frontwoman Kelii Compulsive has a distinctive vocal style compared with similar cookie-cutter acts across the pond like Flyleaf and Halestorm.
Rai rocker returns to form with a definitive new statement of intent, in co-operation with Mick Jones.
Many of my fellow countrymen and women seem adverse to film or music produced in anything but English. That is so limiting and removes some of the world’s greatest art from your mind. Rachid Taha, along with Manu Chao, is one of the true heirs to The Clash’s stance on politics and racism. As a French Algerian, Taha has fought racism and stood against religious fundamentalism for years. His latest album features Mick Jones, who has been working with him regularly over the last few years, as well as Eno and Femi Kuti. Sometimes veering into rockabilly, other times full ahead mesmeric rai rock. His stunning reprise of the legendary ‘Voila Voila’, as a statement against the rise of racism in the current economic climate, features, among others, Eric Cantona. Back of the net! Nick Tesco
KING OF THE SUN
Misstep from Australian punk legends.
Virtually unrecognisable from the band who lit the fuse for the Aussie punk world with their seminal 1977 album ‘(I’m) Stranded’, it’s no surprise that The Saints frontman Chris Bailey has come under some criticism for continuing on under the same name in the last few years without long-standing guitarist Ed Kuepper, especially as the musical direction has totally changed. Frankly the lilting acoustic blues/folk songs throughout this 14th Saints record sounds like a different band, with the likes of the opening title track, strained ‘Sweet Chariot’ and plodding ‘Turn’ sounding self-indulgent. The Rolling Stones worship on the psychedelic rocker ‘Mini Mantra Part 1’ is almost as bad. However, the nine-track bonus disc, titled ‘Songs From The Stash’ is where the good stuff can be found, including ‘Just Like Fire Would’ (covered by Bruce Springsteen) and ‘All Fools Day’, showing all hope isn’t lost yet for long-time fans.
Knowing me, knowing punk rock.
Sweden’s Sensitives sound more than capable of adding a new chapter to the country’s impressive underground alternative scene. This firebrand trio leave no stone unturned in their quest for adrenaline charged, bouncy punk rock with undercurrents of Celtic folk. Opener ‘No Way’ actually has a hint of early Vice Squad, courtesy of the dulcet tones of bassist Paulina. The stand out of the eleven track album is ‘Kid’s Gonna Be A Misfit’, which is taken from the frenetic school of Rancid but given its very own Swedish makeover. If a Sensitives live show only captures 50% of the energy of ‘Boredom Fighters’ it’s likely you’re going to be in for a mental night. There’s some deft playing and equally impressive songwriting. This is an impressive collection and well worth a listen. Definitely a band to watch. Neil Anderson
SONS OF HIPPIES
GRIFFONS AT THE GATES OF HEAVEN
Post-psychedelia’s modern mouthpiece trip the light fantastic.
Let’s get something straight. I’ve got no time for that neo-psychedelic rock wave which keeps coming. Except that this third album from Tampa Bay trio Sons of Hippies – so named because they are – is pretty darn good. Mastered at Abbey Road, you can hear its long journey from Kyuss via The Queens of The Stone Age, passing contemporaries like the Blonde Redheads and Silversun Pick Ups along the way. It has that experimental edge but the sound is rawer and more electric. Finding a balance between Katherine Kelly’s off-kilter voice, Michael Mok’s hypnotic bass and complex percussion from Jonus Canales, the songs meander between playful and moody, with first single ‘Spaceship Ride’ and ‘Minute x Minute’ clear highlights. Psychedelia just got motherfucking sexy.
Louise Ann Oldroyd
THE CROWDS & THE SOUNDS
Ace new golden (rain) shower of hits from London Town.
This is the third album from Thee Spivs, and the first with new bassist Daniel Husayn of The Red Dons. These lads mine a distinctly British sound and style that had me thinking Wire, Jam, XTC, Motors, with the shadow of The Kinks never too far away. These eleven fantastically catchy songs are loaded with acerbic observations and wit. An overriding theme is that Great British conversation piece – the weather. Elsewhere, they target celebrity-obsessed folk who waste so much time on the ‘Social Network’, and no prizes for guessing who ‘Heroin Pin-Ups’ is about. London is a big city, and the saxophone-infused title track ‘The Crowds and Sounds’ contemplates life in the metropolis by the Thames. This is a record destined to become my feel good album of the summer, rain permitting obviously.
GOOD POLITICS: YOUR ROLE AS AN ACTIVE CITIZEN WITHIN CIVIL SOCIETY
Return of the Red rockers.
Comrades, Thee Faction deliver their fourth long-player of defiant R’n’B with a hefty Socialist twist. Imagine The Redskins jamming on Dr Feelgood with some Dexy’s style soul. It’s music to bop to, but with a loud, proud Lefty message that takes a stand against the Right-leaning establishment. ‘Condemnation’ does a fine job blasting the current clowns in Whitehall, who are penalizing the ordinary folk of this country for a crisis exacerbated by a rich, greedy minority. The opening tracks ‘Better Than Wages’ and ‘Employment’ are strong, but as the album wears on it loses consistency and momentum. The situation is rectified on rousing closer ‘Hands Untied’, which seamlessly sequences in to a down-tuned lo-fi outro that lists recommendations of radical literature. Better read, than dead, in other words.
IN A WARZONE
Raw punk/rap on patchy third full-length from Rancid/Blink-182 members’ other band.
The first new Transplants album in eight years, ‘In A Warzone’ picks up where 2005’s ‘Haunted Cities’ left off, with a slightly more mature, yet less infectious, sound. ‘Skinhead Rob’ Aston’s vocals again walk the line between shouting and rapping, Tim Armstrong’s vocals and guitar lines sound like, well, Rancid and Blink-182 sticksman Travis Barker powers throughout. From the hardcore punk bluster of the opening title track, it moves into more melodic territory, with the hip-hop-flavoured ‘Back To You’ and Everlast-esque ‘Something’s Different’ as well as the sun-soaked, semi-acoustic gritty pop of ‘Come Around’. ‘All Over Again’ and urgent closer ‘Exit The Wasteland’ are stand outs, fusing hip-hop and punk smoothly, but the album fails to explode with the pop-infused energy of their strongest material. And the less said about the Eastern-flavoured dance beat on ‘It’s A Problem’, the better.
WHAT’S LEFT TO ELIMINATE?
Thundering effort from Montreal melodic hardcore punks.
The first album from this Montreal quintet to get a UK release (although they’ve been together for almost a decade), this third full-length is a monster. With a sound that melds punk, hardcore and rock ‘n’ roll (imagine The Bronx, Refused and Zeke going at it), the thundering ‘III: A Quick Fix’, chaotic ‘VI: Susceptibility’ and energetic unleashing of ‘VIII: Spark Unnoticed’ prove this is a fuzzed up, energetic declaration of war. Laying waste to the UK in June with their powerful live shows, this is the sound of a band that wears their influences on their sleeves but come out with a confident, bruising sound that’s shaped into a new beast. If you want a band that’s both gritty and anthemic then look no further than Trigger Effect.
TYLA J PALLAS
THE DEVIL’S SUPPER (ACOUSTIC SESSIONS)
Dogs D’Amour frontman in late night dinner party mode.
Well we all have bad days now,” sings Tyla on ‘All Alone Without Me And You’, the opening cut of this solo acoustic album. This guy’s had more than most, as he strums his way through eleven songs, with a voice that sounds like it’s seen the business end of a case of Jack Daniel’s and eight Capstans a day. It’s an acquired taste, and such albums are seldom easy to pull off. But Tyla has earned a certain pedigree as a songwriter, and Stonesy debauchery will always have its fans. While highlights are few, the melodic ‘Nobody Superstar’ and ‘The Meaning’, with its breezy harmonica, make a great centre-piece. The hymn-like ‘Ode To Jackie Leven’ brings the whole thing to an affectionate but unavoidably dark end.
NEW HOPE FOR THE DEAD
Post-punk powerhouses return with a new outlook.
To say that the return of UK Decay has been long-awaited is an understatement. More than 30 years on from the release of the Luton band’s only album, ‘For Madmen Only’, the impact of their slim recorded back catalogue and incendiary performances still resonates with many. At their peak, the group came close to matching the likes of Killing Joke for live intensity, via a combination of powerhouse rhythms, effects drenched guitar, and portentous vocals. Following in the wake of some successful reunion shows, this new disc incorporates a more politicised lyrical direction and reconfigured sound. While songs such as ‘Shout’ and ‘This Killer Is A Cage’ will engage their existing followers, the freeform ‘Next Generation????’ and funky, violin-infused experimentalism of ‘Woman With A Black Heart’ demonstrate UK Decay’s enduring refusal to stand still.
THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
Ten years of partying like there’s no tomorrow.
Forming for a one-off party, London eleven-piece The Urban Voodoo Machine did not set out seeking the recipe for rock ‘n’ roll longevity, yet ‘Rare Gumbo’ attests they’ve now been cooking-up “bourbon-soaked gypsy blues bop ‘n’ stroll” flavours for a full decade. The demos, b-sides and rarities collected here hint that the Machine’s uncontrived conception might be the secret ingredient of their success. Unencumbered by formula, they’ve organically evolved into a melting pot of rock, punk and world influences, whilst firmly retaining their party band roots. From lewd sea shanties stewed in Tom Waits, to sleazy tangos tailored to dirty dance floors and morning after blues staggering into the sunlight under several shades of Nick Cave doom and drama, ’Rare Gumbo’ serves a soundtrack to debauchery that’ll take you from dusk ’til dawn.
The German punk ‘n’ roll boys are back in town.
Hailing from Offenbach, Germany, these punk ‘n’ roll veterans have been playing it hard, fast and loose for 13 years. Totally covered in tattoos and blasting out their “high speed rock ‘n’ roll” anthems with the reckless, raw abandon of the Backyard Babies possessed by Motorhead, they’re showing no signs of easing their foot off the pedal, if this new album is anything to go by. Highlights such as the gas-guzzling ‘Road Hog’, the fist pumping (or should that be flying?) ‘We’ll Fight ‘Em All’ and the speeding ‘She’s Nitro’ show they’re still the real deal in 2013. Lyrically influenced by beer, gasoline and girls, V8 Wankers are balls to the wall rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll so jump in for the ride or get out of the way. John Damon
Grunge infused debut album from this all-girl Aussie trio who are touring the UK this summer.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Valentiine have proved to be a real revelation, and with each listen this grows on me more and more. Laden with fat, sonorous bass lines it can’t fail to snare you. Although, instrumentally at least, the spectre of Nirvana is undeniable, Hole are the most obvious reference point here. The lead singer sounds uncannily like Courtney Love at times, particularly on ‘Love Like’ and ‘Hates Me’. Having said that, the angst-ridden dramas played out in many of the songs belie a wry sense of humour too. With its ironically chirpy refrain about “chucking my guts up” on the bathroom floor, the latest single ‘Chucky’ is about a morning after hangover unsurprisingly enough – a sentiment most of us can sympathise with.
Debut album from Swedish doom rockers from Malmo.
Unashamedly plundering rock’s ’70s heritage, Vidunder are one of the more recent additions to a long line of Swedish rock outfits leaving a similar swathe of scorched earth in their wake. Naturally enough, an unhealthy preoccupation with the occult permeates the album, and their vintage proto-metal style is at times reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer, whilst ‘Threat From The Underground’ is solo Roky Erickson at his best. Opening track ‘Summoning The Not Living’ raises the bar and Vidunder mostly manage to maintain a brisk momentum throughout: ‘Into Her Grave’ and ‘Försummad Och Bortglömd’ are particular highlights. Although Vidunder are perhaps not quite as relentlessly heavy as some of their Scandinavian contemporaries, like Greenleaf or Graveyard, this is still an album of some merit and certainly worth checking out if doom rock with a bluesy garage twist is your bag.
HEARTS & KNIVES
Steve Strange’s synth-pop supremos return.
It’s hard to believe that 29 years separate Visage’s last album from ‘Hearts & Knives’; a comeback which strives to sound as though it was created when CR78 drum machines and analogue synths constituted music’s cutting edge. If the reverence for retro tech, and a lyrical delight in ’80s decadence not dulled since ‘Fade to Grey’ nod knowingly to fans’ fond memories, some modern updates ensure this is no cynical exercise in nostalgia. Infectious celebrations of surface such as ‘Shameless Fashion’ are spared retro production values for a richer sound that’ll shake today’s dance floors, and Lauren Duvall’s sultry voice and style lends a fresh edge to Steve Strange’s experience. Meanwhile, elaborate sleeve art created in collaboration with Haus of Gaga makes the point that Visage remain not only sonically sharp, but sartorially on par with their theatrical-pop heirs.
DISCIPLINE & DESIRE
Superior femme-punk with gothic leanings.
While there’s some identifiable common ground with labelmates The Dum Dum
Girls, this Californian all-girl outfit have clearly drawn deeply from that heady 1981-2 period in which post-punk morphed moodily into goth. Displaying an adroit command of those shady atmospherics for this second album, Wax Idols achieve a giddy sonic shimmer here; the skittering rhythms and multi-tracked vocals of tracks like ‘When It Happens’ recall far-off Lyceum bills on a rainy Sunday night, while the crystalline guitar patterns of ‘Scent Of Love’ or the majestic ‘Dethrone’ touch on the arpeggiated dazzle of McGeoch-period Banshees, or The Cure before they got too cuddly. With the active collaboration of Chameleons man Mark Burgess, who contributes a slanting bassline on the final cut ‘Stay In’, Wax Idols come with impressive credentials. And with ‘Discipline & Desire’, they display the substance to back them up.