ADAM ANT / THE STRANGLERS


Photo by Dod Morrison

Adam Ant & the Good The Mad & the Lovely Posse    – Fat Sam’s, Dundee – May 21St 2011
 
To be totally honest I didn’t expect much from Adam Ant decades on from his hey day. Boy was I proved wrong! This ended up being one of the best gigs of the year (and no doubt still will be when December rolls around).
 
The lights went down and the band strolled on. Adam followed, making a grandiose entrance, not lacking any of the flare he had in days gone by. He kicked it off straight away with ‘Plastic Surgery’ and it was great hearing him singing in the same varying tones I’d heard on his records. He camped it up in new romantic style but was way more punk than I’d ever expected. He did look (and act) a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow. It seemed like the audience were intrigued at first and then soon warmed to him.
 
Adam spoke to the crowd between songs giving snippets of amusing stories. He enthusiastically dished out song after song, playing up to the crowd looking like he was really enjoying himself. The two drummers belted out their rhythms giving the music the heartbeat that it’s known for. The band seemed a little non plussed at the start, but then standing next to the vibrancy of Adam Ant might make anyone look a little bland!
 
I didn’t know many of the first few songs which I now know were ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Kick’, ‘Car Trouble’ and ‘Zerox’ but he really drew you in and it didn’t matter if you’d heard them before or not. Two girls came onto stage for ‘Deutscher Girls’ and Adam Ant seemed to enjoy being very theatrical with them. He obviously preferred his earlier music and said as much, but made money from the later music – that was the cue for ‘Stand and Deliver’.
 
I (and the rest of the audience) was blown away by ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’. He said before that this song was written when passion and lyrics mattered. The drumming was fantastic and Adam Ant himself was on superb form. He had such an infectious grin and was very lively.
 
One story Adam told us was about why he often had 30 second intros of drumming. Apart from being his sound he said that it’s because back in the day DJs would talk all over the start of a record on the radio and people would maybe miss the title, so this way by the time the planks (his words!) had finished talking the record would just be starting! Then started up the now famous sound of the intro to Antmusic and the whole venue was singing along.
 
Before singing A.N.T.S. Adam said that this song was close to his heart and represented everything that punk rock meant – “whether jumping up and down pogoing or spitting.  Me, Jordan, Sid and all other reprobates used to go to clubs and play this song, which I have adapted for you tonight” A.N.T.S is Adams version of Y.M.C.A and was very amusing to see performed!
 
‘Lady’ also got an airing even though this was the b-side to his first single. It has always been one of my husband’s favourites, and Adam told us that this song used to get him into trouble like most of his songs did. He seemed to like playing the earlier ones from the ‘Dirk Wears White Socks’ era but he said it was the poppier ones that made him famous.
 
After a brief break the band came back on and Adam had done a quick change into a kilt. However on it were three lions on the back and a St George’s flag on the front. The crowd boo’d (in good humour) but Adam took it the wrong way and said “How fucking dare you boo me! I’ve got a song for you.” He starts to sing ‘No Fun’, obviously aimed at the crowd, and quickly moved into ‘Physical’ playing like a man upset – hard guitar riffs and spitting at the stage. Suddenly he threw the guitar down, gestured to the crowd and walks off. The band finished the song looking a little bemused and the crowd waited for more but he had gone, left the building, which is a pity because I think he would have got an exceptional goodbye from the crowd. Apart from the last couple of songs this was a most memorable night and nothing should detract from how good an entertainer he is.
 
 
Plastic Surgery
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Kick
Car Trouble
Zerox
Deutscher  Girls
Stand And Deliver
Catholic  Day
Kings of the Wild Frontier
B Side Baby
Wonderful
Never Trust A Man
Cleopatra
Lou
Goody Two Shoes
Viva Le Rock
Christian D’or
Lady/Fall In
Antmusic
—————
 
A.N.T.S.
Prince Charming (not played)
Fat Fun
Press Darlings
—————
No Fun
Get It On (not played)
Physical
 
Words by Sally Morrison (and a few by Dod)

 

 

The Stranglers / Wilco Johnson / Mike Marlin (The Black and Blue Tour)
London Hammersmith Apollo Friday 11 March 2011

Insouciant Mike Marlin was the calm before the storm. On stage in a silk dressing gown and sipping a glass of wine he treated everyone to his own style of jazz-pop, including a unique take on the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive.

But it was the bulging, bug eyed Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame who certainly got ‘the show on the road’. From Barbed Wire Blues to She Does it Right, Wilko pumped out r’n’b brilliance through his customised style of simultaneously playing lead and rhythm on his guitar, while maintaining his frenetic, jittery off-the-wall actions. 

By the end of the set the audience, who ranged from 60 to 16, were hyped. As the lights went down and familiar Stranglers signature theme, Waltzinblack, throbbed out, the indefatigable band also known as The-Men-in-Black materialised on stage.

The band has come a long way since 1975 and certainly know how to play a dynamic set. They kicked off with the provocative I feel like a Wog, a condemnation of racial bigotry snarled out by now-well-established front man and guitarist Baz Warne, whose vocal dexterity can handle the gruff temperament of the likes of Hanging Around but also has the cadence required for Golden Brown and Always the Sun.  

Essentials such as Grip, and Duchess were all there as well as surprise rarities such as Dead Los Angeles and Tramp to the delight of the more hardcore fans. They also unveiled new song, Freedom is Insane. With its portentous lyrics, dirty thrumming bass line, swirling keyboards, and sung by the incomparable Jean-Jaques Burnel it a gem of a track bound for classic status.     

The sound of the Stranglers has obviously struck the right chord with the public and has helped them survive over 30 years in the business, picking up a dedicated cult following along the way. They are also one of the few bands left who can deliver quality rock’n’roll with edge which they proved once again on the night. See them while you still can because there won’t ever be another band like them.

Mark Ottowell


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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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DROPKICK MURPHYS / IGGY & THE STOOGES

THE DROPKICK MURPHYS
LONDON BRIXTON ACADEMY
4/5

Brixton is full of people swigging Guinness, pretending its St. Patrick’s Day and wearing at least some green tonight. Why? Because Celtic punk heroes the Dropkicks are in town to party, that’s why. Before that though, the crowd is warmed up brilliantly by the long-awaited return (their first London show in seven years) of reformed Californian punks FACE TO FACE, with Trever Keith and company clad in black and blasting through breakneck-paced fan favourites like ‘Disconnected’ and ‘I Want’, with people (including myself) screaming back every word, punching the air and grinning from ear to ear. As a half-cut crowd chanted “Let’s go Murphys!”, the lights went down and an Irish folk song welcomed THE DROPKICK MURPHYS on a stage covered in giant stained-glass windows. For an hour and a half this was the Murphys’ church, with an irrepressibly energetic band and crowd celebrating life (and getting shit faced) to songs like ‘(F)lannigan’s Ball’, ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ and ‘The State Of Massachusetts’. Hallelujah!
Ian Chaddock


IGGY & THE STOOGES
SUICIDE
LONDON HAMMERSMITH APOLLO
5/5

I have to say I wasn’t expecting that much from Iggy and his James Williamson era Stooges tonight as they attempted to play one of the greatest ever punk albums, ‘Raw Power’, in its entirety. Williamson has been out of music for years working as Vice President of technology at Sony, but having since retired, here he is back at Iggy’s side, strapping on his Gibson Les
Paul again. But from the moment they launch into the albums’ title track it’s clear that these Stooges mean business. In what is a chaotic, rocket fuelled 90 minutes Iggy orders a stage invasion (“Nice work guys, especially you with the glasses!"), repeatedly dives into the crowd, humps the stage and berates the people upstairs for being posh. We get ‘I Need Somebody’, ‘Search And Destroy’ and even some songs from the rarely heard Kill City EP. The band are a powerhouse, supporting a maniacal frontman who puts kids a third of his age to shame. He may sell insurance now but Iggy is still the world’s forgotten boy. Legendary.
Eugene Big Cheese

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THE SKIDS, Dunfermline Alhambra Theatre, Mar 2010

The Skids @ the Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline 06-03-10
 
So this was to be the last ever Skids gig at the Alhambra theatre in Dunfermline, the band’s home town. The Band for tonight is Richard Jobson, Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie and Bruce & Jamie Watson.
 
The intro CD comes on, a roar goes up and they are on. Richard Jobson swinging his arms and legs about like a mad man possessed. The first two songs were over in a flash. As I catch my breath Richard tell us the next song was written in the library and “Working for the Yankee Dollar” is played. The crowd go mad.
 
They then go on to dedicate the next song to Stuart Adamson who was a special guy to them all. The crowd agree and we are played “The Saints are Coming”. Jobson says “too many bands from our era just go through the motions nowadays but we play from the heart,” and this receives a rapturous applause.
 
“Masquerade” is up next and the crowd are getting more excited as each song passes. They end the evening with “Into the Valley” and this had the building shaking. Everyone in the theatre are on their feet, from the moshpit to all the people up in the balcony seats, all singing along. Jobson holds the mic towards them and it is the loudest and best sing along I have ever heard. The fans are still singing when the band goes off.
 
But that surely cant be it – they come back on to do acoustic versions of  “Saints are Coming” and “Into the Valley” which mellows the crowd out before they play “Fields”, which according to Jobson they have never played live before.
And finally it is time for “that song that is like a lead weight around our necks all evening and you have been waiting for” says Jobson – “Albert Tatlock” is screamed out! “TV Stars” is played and the roof of the Alhambra is nearly lifted off its hinges.
And that was it – two hours of sheer brilliance and the last ever gig, if so they did their hometown and the fans proud but most of all they did themselves proud.
 
As they walk off Bruce stands alone and shouts see ya soon.
 
The end or the beginning…?

Words & photos: Dod Morrison
 
http://www.safeconcerts.com/dod/gallery.asp

http://www.myspace.com/dmphotographyaberdeen

 

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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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999 Aberdeen, February 19th 2010

999  @ Café Drummonds Aberdeen 19-02-10

999 ripped through their set. Kicking off with traditional opener Black Flowers For The Bride, the band quickly hit their stride and showed why, in their 34th (!) year, they’re still a top live act.

Despite being a wee, round guy these days, Nick Cash is still a great front man as he gurns and hams it up in front of the mic. They blaze through Inside Out with guitarist Guy Days going mad as he belts out the “Woah-o-oh” backing vocals. The first few times I saw 999 play he always came across as silent and moody onstage but the last couple of gigs he really seems to be having fun, using at various times a bottle and his mic stand to shred his strings. He’s the epitome of middle-aged cool in his black suit and is one of those guitarists who makes it look oh so effortless as he rips the lead lines from his instrument. In amongst the classics like Boys In The Gang and Don’t You Know I Need You, we get quite a few from recent album Death In Soho and they fit perfectly with the vintage material. The System and Gimme The World could have fitted just as easily onto their 1978 debut as they do on the current record. In particular, Last Breath sounds really good tonight, prompting an audience singalong on the chorus.

Big Arthur on the bass kicks off Feeling Alright With The Crew prompting a rush to the dancefloor as people recognise the old favourite. There are some really BIG guys moshing in there tonight so I’m staying clear My Diet Coke isn’t really a tipple conducive to punk rock dancing anyway.  We get Hit Me and Titanic Reaction in quick succession keeping the high pace going. In fact, if I was going to have one we complaint (as I always usually do hehe), then it would be that they play their slower songs too fast. In particular, FAWT Crew and Emergency lose the slow burning air of menace that the records have when they’re played this quickly. It’s not all bad though, as the quicker pace gives Homicide a bit of extra zip and really gets the crowd going. Judging by the red and sweaty faces at the end of it, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a heart attack here tonight.

Words by New York Johnny
 
Photos by Dod
 
http://www.safeconcerts.com/dod/gallery.asp

 

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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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DECEMBER ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS

 

THE LEGAL TENDER TOUR

SHIHAD, THE LIVING END, AIRBOURNE, LUGER BOA

Christchurch Town Hall, New Zealand

October 2nd

5/5


The Living End

 

With four of down under’s hottest live bands teaming up for the eight-city Legal Tender New Zealand tour it was a great chance to see just how good rock ‘n’ roll is these days in NZ and Australia. Kicking off the night were LUGER BOA, formed from the ashes of NZ acts the D4 and Sommerset and they get the crowd worked up with 20 minutes of glammed up, high energy rock ‘n’ roll before AIRBOURNE follow up their Sonisphere triumph by slaying the crowd with the likes of ‘Runnin’ Wild’, ‘Blackjack’ and ‘What’s Eatin’ You’. The only new track they previewed was ‘Born To Kill’ which wasn’t exactly a departure from their debut, but if it ain’t broke… THE LIVING END never disappoint live and Chris Cheney remains one of the best guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll. Oldies like ‘Prisoner Of Society’ and ‘Second Solution’ mix well with the heavier new numbers like ‘White Noise’ and ‘Raise The Alarm’ and they end their set with Chris literally climbing Scotty’s double bass in a brilliant finale. The Living End simply rule! Catch em’ on their U.K tour in December. New Zealand rockers SHIHAD are celebrating twenty years as a band, and in that time they have come close to cracking the US but due to a brief change of name to Pacifier due to the September 11th attacks they didn’t quite get there. And that’s a shame because what Shihad do best is big anthem, chorus-packed rock, and with an arsenal of huge songs like ‘The General Electric’, ‘Comfort Me’ and the heavy as a death in the family ‘Empty Shell’ they have the 1800 fans here tonight blowing the roof off the town hall. With a new album and tour due to hit the UK in May, maybe its time for you to check out Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins’ favourite band.

Words/Photos: Eugene Big Cheese/Matthew Stead

Heavy Trash / Gin Palace
Lexington, London, 16/09/09

Coinciding with – rather the being part of – the Not The Same Old Blues Crap season of punk rock blues gigs, tonight’s show was nevertheless in full accordance with the Blues Crap ethos of low-down rockin’ delights. North London three-piece Gin Palace soften up the crowd with their sozzled high-impact blues noise. Jon Free prangs out his crash-test chords while vocalist Meaghan Wilkie fixes the front row with a mischievous glare while declaiming the virtues of ‘Kicking On’, Australian parlance for ‘Knock ‘em back’ in case you’re wondering.
The evening’s main draw Heavy Trash comprises ex-Madder Rose and Speedball Baby guitar man Matt Verta Ray and Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame. HT seem to have set their parameters more-or-less within the city limits of fifties rockabilly. There’s a strong whiff of hair-oil in the air, and while Spencer’s more familiar on-stage mode – an overstimulated white James Brown – appears to have been toned right down, he’s still throwing enough ‘68 comeback moves to maintain the magnetism. Heavy Trash bring it right back to Sun Studios’ basics; the rhythmic whip-crack of a Slingerland snare, the organic thump of a stand-up bass, sprung reverb and glowing valve tubes. Spencer and Verta Ray revel in the undimmed thrill of vintage rock’n’roll tones, the authenticity of this music at its moment of post-war inception. A history lesson it might be, but it’s one that bears repeating, and in the hands of Heavy Trash, the spirit’s tangibly alive.
Hugh Gulland

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkeybirds
100 Club, London, 29th November

With a resume bragging stints with the Cramps, the Bad Seeds and a long association with Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the Gun Club, Kid Congo’s status as six-string foil to the greats is beyond argument; as a front man in his own right, he’s been a little longer coming forward, but with his current outfit the Pink Monkeybirds now touring their second album Dracula Boots, it’s a role he seems increasingly comfortable with. In their coordinated bolero jackets and red silk shirts, the Pink Monkeybirds are a vision of south of the border cool, fully in keeping with the Congo charisma. With his toothily angelic take on the street-hip slouch of a barrio hustler, Kid’s on winning form, dusting the front row with handfuls of glitter between numbers with that sleazy-soulful grin on his chops. The set doesn’t shy from Congo’s illustrious past; Gun Club staples such as Sex Beat and For The Love Of Ivy are pulled out of the hat at strategic points, and the recently-departed Cramps man Lux Interior gets a respectful salute with a spirited Goo Goo Muck. Kid’s own material meanwhile follows a Latino-punk groove, over which Congo’s guitar tone – a ghostly splice of feedback and tremolo – conjures desert winds and lost spirits. The sonic spookiness peaks on a sublime instrumental take on Jeffrey Lee’s Mother Of Earth, from which Kid slams into the lascivious grind of La Historia De Un Amour, before wrapping up the set with a jubilant I’m Cramped. We don’t got too many originals left, but Kid Congo still has his instincts sparking, and for that I’m happy.
Hugh Gulland

THE KING BLUES

London Camden Electric Ballroom

October 9th

5/5

 

Entering the Electric Ballroom, we’re immediately greeted by the sight of a man distributing leaflets and asking us to sign a petition: bring the troops back home from Afghanistan. It’s immediately clear that this was all the KING BLUES doing, liberal-minded punks that they are.

On stage a wooden music box sits alone playing ‘London’s Burning’. Not quite the introduction one would expect from any band, but it works, proof positive that popular acclaim be damned: Itch and the boys don’t confirm.

Storming the stage and erupting into song, the atmosphere can only be described as electric while their lyrics could be described as pure poetry. Combine this with energetic ska, fused with acoustic folk and you’ve got yourself a room full of people either happily bouncing or skanking. We’re treated to a great selection of tracks, including ‘Lets Hang The Landlord’, ‘I Got Love’ and ‘Save The World Get The Girl’. The mood is toned down; dangling fairy lights contribute to a beautiful performance of ‘Underneath This Lamppost Light’, proving the ability of frontman Itch when it comes to delivering with just his ukulele and incredible voice. Swaying arms and beer cans unite as the whole crowd sings the refrain of “You look beautiful tonight”. This soon ends as ‘My Boulder’ begins, and to everyone’s astonishment, Itch welcomes “My boys from Enter Shikari” mid-song. It’s a crowded stage, but both an epic collaboration and performance that leaves everyone feeling gob smacked. Itch thanks the crowd and enthuses: “We’re fucking overwhelmed. Thank you so much.” If anything, we’re overwhelmed; tonight’s performance is nothing less than superb, and unforgettable. The King Blues are on top of their game and showcase British talent at its best.

Words/Photos: Chloe Gillard

BIG CHEESE PRESENTS

THE BRIGGS

STRAWBERRY BLONDES, MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE

London Camden Barfly
September 13th

4/5

They may be young bands, but it’s nice to see a healthy age range making up the audience at this up-and-comer Sunday night buffet. Punk rock is top of the menu and served up for starters are MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE, a talented Blackburn four-piece who are heading for high places. They’ve already shown their colours on this year’s Warped Tour (not to mention on the follow up compilation) and though tonight’s crowd may be a teensy bit smaller, the band’s performance is clearly no less passionate. Punchy, brash and garnished with old-skool integrity, this support slot provides the perfect aperitif, quickly setting juices flowing. Our main course arrives a couple of drinks later, in the form of STRAWBERRY BLONDES, and it’s evident from the first taste that we’re in for a treat. Comprised of a satisfying medley of anthemic punk and roll tracks like ‘Goodbye Inspiration’ and trumpet-backed ska songs like ‘Beat Down Babylon’ and ‘Rip It Up’, the Newport threesome deliver the set with silver service, however it’s clear that something is lacking with this latest nouvelle lineup, which if you want this critics opinion, could definitely use a fourth helping. The final dish of the night comes from those West Coast curs THE BRIGGS, a rowdy bunch of scoundrels with six releases under their belt and though little of the band’s early material makes the cut this time, a fresh batch of shanties from new album ‘Come All You Madmen’ is enough to fill anyone’s plate. Jason LaRocca’s phenomenal guitar work and the swarthy vocals of his brother Joey make a winning combination, most notably in tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘This is LA’ and by the end the crowd are stuffed to bursting: truly the night’s piece de resistance! But though tonight’s portions have been generous, the presentation faultless and the quality of the highest caliber, this is one patron still left hungry for more. Perhaps a kebab is in order on the homestretch?

Tom Williams

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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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NOVEMBER ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS

DURHAM PUNK FESTIVAL
SEPT 12TH

The sold out Durham punk festival was held in the picturesque city of Durham situated in Dunhelm House, which is the student’s union building. The stage is in the main arena and there are stalls selling t-shirts, CDs and records along with two bars.
 
The Fiend came on with their hard-core style and were fast and furious. Then Crashed Out were on, whose front man Chris Wright had sung for the Angelic Upstarts.

      
  Goldblade                                               UK Subs                                                 The Business

Goldblade did their Gospel punk set in lightning quick time. They must be the most energetic band out there at the moment. UK Subs with the grandfather of punk Charlie Harper were still showing many a youngster how to do it. Leatherface, a punk band from Sunderland fronted by Frankie Stubbs, are known for an eclectic style spanning American folk music, hardcore punk and post-hardcore. Oi band The Business were up next. ‘Harry May’ and the controversial ‘drinking and driving’ were the highlights.
 
It had been 25 years since I had seen either of the headline bands – were they going to be as good and would the songs mean the same? Yes they did! I am older but as soon as the bands started up I was transformed back in time to when I was seeing them back in the day.
 
Security were quick to tell people to get off the barriers not realising they were just enjoying themselves. I remember when I used to do this, it is great to watch the kids of today get as excited as I used (and still do!). The fans might look angry but they are just showing their emotions. When they come over the barriers they will calm down and quite happily get back in the crowd.

     
Angelic Upstarts                                        Steve Whale, Steve Ignorant Band       

First were the Angelic upstarts with Mensi, coming from South Shields only about 20 miles away this was like a home concert for them. They went straight into “Police Oppression” followed by “Never Had Nothing”. Mensi’s eyes were bulging out of his sockets as he sung his heart out, “Last night another soldier” written about soldiers dying 25 years ago and still very topical today. “I’m an Upstart” and “Teenage Warning” had the crowd singing along and in between Mensi joked around with the crowd. “Who killed Liddle” is about the death of an amateur boxer in 1979 and it probably got the most arousing reception of the evening

Then it was Steve Ignorant from Crass. There was great anticipation as they launched straight into their anthem “Do they Owe us a Living”, with the crowd all singing the chorus in unison and very loud. “They’ve got a Bomb” and “Fight Wars not War” are two very topical songs today some 29 years after the release of ‘Feeding of the 5000’ album. “So What” got a great reception, especially by me as this is probably my favourite punk song, I still play it almost every day. There were two screens hanging above the stage with black and white images on. The band dressed all in black like Crass used to do. Steve looked menacing as he sung the songs with venom. The lead guitarist had a wireless guitar so he could run up and down the pit and go into the crowd playing fast and furious. They did encores of “Do they owe us a Living” and “Punk is Dead”. Well on this display no it is certainly not and long may it live.

Even though it is rumoured that other members of crass believe that is a betrayal of the Crass ethos it is a chance for old and new fans to hear crass songs.

Dod
www.myspace.com/dmphotographyaberdeen

THE ANGRY SAMOANS
BALTIMORE
SEPT 15TH

Have you gone to a show lately and wondered when all the punks started
moshing like indians and ninjas?  If so, make time for an old school band
whose loyal fanbase still brings the mosh to the pit.

The Angry Samoans haven’t lost the DIY spirit of punk: "Metal" Mike Saunders set up a good portion of the stage gear himself, and told the crowd, "I can carry my own guitar".  During a break he voiced his opinion on the current state of punk, admonishing the use of roadies and high ticket prices by stating, "Twenty-five bucks for a ticket?  Ours are twelve bucks, and for that you should be able to get up on stage with us". Which people did.
Hey, prima donna punk bands: this is how it’s done!

The setlist encompassed 33 hard-hitting songs including my favourite, Lights Out.  Drummer Bill Vockeroth did vocal justice to a set of songs while Mike Saunders, in turn, played the drums.  The show included a bad joke contest (some of the jokes were, in fact, really bad) and a Pee Wee
Herman dance-off.  In the words of Mike Saunders, "We don’t perform until you do".

The show was highly energetic and, above all, fun.  If you’re in the mood for some old school punk and a good time, this is it.

Kellie Morton
 

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REBELLION FESTIVAL 2009

REBELLION FESTIVAL
Blackpool Winter Gardens
August 6th-9th
5/5

There’s never a better catalyst for punk rock than a bit of global economic meltdown. Nearly 8,000 from the four corners of the globe invaded Blackpool’s cavernous Winter Gardens for 200 bands, five stages and four days of drinking to oblivion – it was rightly hailed the most successful in the annual event’s history by the promoters. Some are crazily suggesting next year’s lasts a week but, hey, that will actually kill us!! With a humungous merch and market area, a quite brilliant punk art exhibition from tons of well-known punks including Gaye Advert, Charlie Harper and Knox, and enough bars to keep George Best happy this years Rebellion could just be the festival of the year.
Rebellion, as always, was a case of so many bands and so little time but a few more highlights that worked for us included the mighty DAMNED, the theatrics of Monkey and his ADICTS crew, the rabble rousing GOLDBLADE complete with virtually every female in the place joining them for the encores, the carnage of NAPALM DEATH, the re-emergence of SEPTIC PSYCHOS after a hiatus of over 20 years; the gathering storm that is CUTE LEPERS, UK SUBS legend Charlie Harper still performing with more balls than bands a third his age and the ability of guitarist Jet’s unfeasibly high quiff to stay up throughout the set, feisty horrorpunks PINK HEARSE having no balls but putting on a great show, the no holds-barred carnage of DRONGOS FOR EUROPE and the work-hating acoustic antics of one PAUL CARTER, the VIBRATORS’ KNOX and CHARLIE HARPER’S acoustic ‘Warhead’, the DUEL actually turning into a pretty good band, CHRON GEN playing ‘Outlaw’, newcomers CONTROL pulling a huge crowd for their first major show, ABRASIVE WHEELS’ new stuff sounding like AFI (!) the STRAWBERRY BLONDES, SONIC BOOM SIX,THE RABBLE,MORAL DILEMMA and RANDOM HAND bringing the new blood, MAD SIN keeping the psychos happy, THE BEAT doing a great job, THE EXPLOITED beating the bastards, the ‘Young Ones’’ ADRIAN EDMONDSON perhaps rethinking his move into punk, ARGY BARGY bringing the street to the Olympia, PICTURE FRAME SEDUCTION and SICK ON THE BUS keeping it strictly old school, plus a brilliant cast of hundreds including great sets from LOVE AND A 45, TEXAS TERRI, JAYA THE CAT, New York’s THE BLAME (nice guy), LEFTOVER CRACK (get some clothes!), 999, ANTI NOWHERE LEAGUE, PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES, SHAME ACADEMY(not getting crowd they deserved) and the FREEZE, AGNOSTIC FRONT and the ADOLESCENTS flying the USA flag in brilliant style. Oh, and the STUPIDS just about being the best reformed band ever!
KILLING JOKE front man Jaz Coleman – punk rock’s answer to Nostradamus – was making his debut at the event and performed as though his life depended on it. It did – he predicted the end of the world in December 2012. The band were at their most blistering as they raged through driving early eighties anthems like ‘Requiem’ and ‘Wardance’ – songs that were sounding as fresh in 2009 as they were when they first hit Thatcherite Britain in the early 1980s, thanks to the band reverting back to their original line-up with Youth back on bass, Paul Ferguson pounding the skins and Geordie on guitar.
They were in stark contrast to jokers of a different kind – THE DICKIES. The enduring West Coast outfit have been off the Rebellion roster for the past couple of years and their set – spanning frenetic early chart hits like ‘Banana Splits’ right through to more up to date madness like ‘My Pop The
Cop’ from the 2001 long-player ‘All This And Puppet Stew’ – sparked one of the maddest pogo-fests in the history of Rebellion.
BAY CITY ROLLERS definitely got the prize for most random act on the menu at the weekend: one original member (Eric Faulkner) and far more sprightly looking backing band that looked more suited as on-stage members of Placebo.

They were joined on the apply named Bizarre Bazaar stage by KUNT AND THE GANG – a man that knows absolutely no shame and pervades a style or humour that can only be best described as ‘very wrong’ and had various female audience members leaving in shock. And in between downing beers on the pier with Blackpool’s pensioner population we staggered off into the sunset looking forward to next year. Bring it on Darren!

Words: Neil Anderson/Eugene Big Cheese
Photos: David Brown/Lucy Pryor

FOLLOWING PHOTOS COPYRIGHT DAVID BROWN


Anti-Nowhere League


Killing Joke


Killing Joke


The Adicts


The Adicts


The Damned


The Exploited


The Exploited

FOLLOWING PHOTOS COPYRIGHT LUCY PRYOR


Agnostic Front


Deadline


Goldblade


Leftover Crack


Mad Sin


The Rabble


FAN TOP 5s OF REBELLION FESTIVAL

Sent in to info@vivelepunk.net

1 anti nowhere league
2 killing joke
3 chron gen
4 goldblade
5 resistance 77
angie x

1. the Adicts
2. killing joke
3.Koffin Kats
4.the Subhumans
5.pink hearse
dod

1.UK Decay
2.The Cute Lepers
M Foster

1.KILLING JOKE
2.THE EXPLOITED
3.RUST
4.LOS FASTIDIOS
5.ARGY BARGY
Billy McConnell

1.CHRON GEN
2.THE RABBLE
3.UK SUBS
4.ABRASIVE WHEELS
5.THE BEAT
Andy F Scotland

1.KILLING JOKE
2.SHAME ACADEMY
3.THE BLAME
4.SICK ON THE BUS
5.U.K DECAY
AL london

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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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17th PSYCHOBILLY MEETING

17th PSYCHOBILLY MEETING
Pineda De Mar
June 24th – 28th
5/5



The psychobilly scene’s summer holidays rolled around for the seventeenth year and once again lived up to all the anticipation. The town of Pineda De Mar (near Barcelona) is invaded by fans from all over the world meeting up during the day at the ‘Psycho’ Beach Bar. Various warm-up gigs took place during the week but the big names began to roll out on Thursday night at the smaller Magmar venue. The ASTRO ZOMBIES were definitely one of the highlights. The news of Michael Jackson’s sad demise had begun to filter through so it was up to DEMENTED ARE GO to pay tribute with a hearty ‘Good riddance you c**t’ before blasting into an excellent set. Friday was the first day in the large beach-side tent venue. The UK’s new favourites THE GRAVEYARD JOHNNYS gave a rollicking show to those that had turned out for their early slot. The horrorpunk-tinged THE REZUREX put up a slick performance before neo-rockabilly veterans THE CARAVANS gave the punters still sat outside no choice but to get in and check their set out. Psychobilly legend P PAUL FENECH headlined. His latest solo offerings have been excellent slabs of studio greatness but live they didn’t seem to ignite with the crowd. Maybe the fact the line-up was The Meteors with a couple of additional vocalists was the problem. The solo work is not The Meteors by design, but maybe that is what the slowly dispersing crowd would have preferred. A few Meteors classics pulled out of the bag did little to dampen the slight air of anti-climax. Saturday was lit up early by THE GUITAR SLINGERS, a psychobilly super-group of well-known luminaries. Japanese band BATTLE OF NIMJAMAZ blasted ears with their hard sound before THE GO GETTERS brought the rockabilly back but the band of the night and the whole weekend were FRENZY. Steve Whitehouse and cohorts showed how professional and tight psychobilly can be. The whole show simply rocked and with the wealth of top songs available from their back catalogue, never let up and thankfully never slipped into extended bass solos or crowd chant-backs. The whole weekend is so much more than just the gigs, the majority of Sunday being spent at the organized pool party. Sunday night was slightly quieter but no less rockin’ with The ARKHAMS, THE SURF RATS and POX raising their game, The Arkhams were particularly impressive. It spoke volumes that such a large crowd had amassed for headliners THE RICOCHETS and the wait was worth it as they blasted through their set of pioneering 80s favourites with three minutes of slap-bass brutality ‘Running Wild’ the highlight. The 17th Psychobilly Meeting was better than ever before, Sun, Sea, Psychobilly and a great atmosphere all packed into a very long weekend that belonged to Frenzy. Be there next year.

Simon Nott

 

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JULY ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS

Vive Le Punk Presents…
VIVE LE PUNK
London South Of The Border
April 9th
4/5
Roll up, roll up for a night of punk rock mayhem that is the first ever Vive Le Punk gig night, taking place at the all new South Of The Border in London’s Old Street.
Hidden away in this Mexicola basement is what turns out to be the best punk party I have been to in a long while and officially the best way to kick start the Easter weekend on a Thursday.
First up of tonight’s trio was THE HATEFUL, who are straight-up London punkers and a snarling amalgamation of the Ramones and the Pistols. They were incredibly tight, so if you think you’ve heard it all before I recommend you listen to it all again.
Secondly we had the delightful JOHNNY THROTTLE. Don’t be mislead by the influx of Johnny based names: these guys are hard-hitting, blood curdling screamers that have resurrected Iggy for one last stage dive into a willing crowd.
Band of the night was our darling headliners, the glamorous, the burlesque, THE FABULOUS PENETRATORS. At first I could hardly believe my eyes, but then I couldn’t believe my ears! It was a surly and superb mix of styles that was all baker boy hats and glittery make-up, which caused the whole basement to shake from the lounge lizard swing. These jumpy disco boogie boys turned the night from spitting on the walls to a night of ‘sing a long, even if you don’t know it’.
In summary, certain T4 presenters couldn’t get in, certain members of a recent radio scandal (the granddaughter) were hanging around and our very own El Prez was on the decks. Whatever you do don’t miss the next one!

Hazel Savage

The next Vive Le Punk night will be in July

SATANTIC STOMP
Halle 101, Speyer, Germany
April 11th-12th
5/5
The mainstream music press started knocking nails in the coffin of psychobilly, the genre that refuses to die, back in the 1980s and have continued to do so ever since. Rarely has an obituary been so premature Almost thirty years after The Meteors first screamed that their brother was a zombie hundreds of multicoloured psychobillies walked en masse in George Romero-esque misery after being turned away from this sold out festival. This 22nd Satanic Stomp was back at its spiritual home of Speyer after a brief relocation last year. That was a very modern Hellcat-dominated event but this year had an old school feeling about it. Day one of the two-day gore fest featured an excellent festival debut from UK trio the WHIP CRACKIN’ DADDIES whose macabre rockabilly acted as perfect aperitif for the main course of Klub Foot favourites including a welcome return of THE WIGGSVILLE SPLIFFS, and stomping smile along with THE LONG TALL TEXANS whilst veteran US stalwarts THE QUAKES waved the flag for the States with a barnstorming performance from front-man Paul Roman. DEMENTED ARE GO followed in full horror mode with a rasping set of classic sickness. Headliners and highlight of the first day was a triumphant set from the GUANA BATZ, frontman Pip belied the years as he jumped, joked and screamed his way through a set that tested the wrecking pit to its very limits. A DJ set until 4am ensured that stamina was tested to the full.
Day two dawned at around lunchtime with the packed parking lot-cum-campsite strewn with booze casualties from day one’s exertions dozing in the sun. Once again sad eyed psychos were turned away in their hundreds as day two sold out as fast as day one. The action in Halle 101 was frenetic but the audience slightly more subdued no doubt due to the boozed up aural and physical battering they had taken the day before. The bands soon whipped the crowd’s stamina back to acceptable levels with mustachio-ed  shenanigans from THE ROCKABILLY MAFIA and an excellent performance by THE LUCKY DEVILS who gave it some French style. Old school favourites THE COFFIN NAILS showcased a chunk of their new album as well as old favourites before a memorable encore when amply proportioned Humungous stripped down to a ‘mankini’ which horrified and amused in equal measure. MAD DOG COLE followed and rocked the joint with a mixture of MDC’s old Krewmen material as well as their own songs which saw veteran warbler all over the stage and speakers. MAD SIN’s show also featured a large chunk of older songs and put up one of the performances of the weekend. The REVEREND HORTON HEAT had a hard act to follow but did so in his usual professional polished style winding down a weekend that was hard going physically but propelled by some of the best Psychobilly performers ever in top form. Next year, book early, get a cheap flight to Frankfurt and be there because the Satanic Stomp is Psychobilly heaven.

Simon Nott

Big Cheese Presents…
PROPAGANDHI
London Islington Academy
April 19th
5/5
The excitement in Islington Academy is palpable by the time that Canadian melodic hardcore punk heroes PROPAGANDHI take the stage. Excitement is replaced by confusion and amusement as Clive Jones of early ‘70s Leicester metallers Black Widow plays the flute and introduces the band. Quickly forgotten, the Winnipeg quartet open with the title track from their new album ‘Supporting Caste’ and are soon ripping through fan favourites such as ‘A Speculative Fiction’, ‘Less Talk More Rock’ and the mighty ‘Back To The Motor League’, sending the crowd into a frenzy. New tracks such as ‘Dear Coach’s Corner’ and ‘Human(e) Meat’ sit comfortably alongside songs from their previous four albums. Propagandhi are unsurprisingly as tight as they are on record, with dual guitars, a thundering rhythm section and Chris Hannah’s note-perfect and passionate vocals blowing everyone away. The old-school fans were treated to the ‘gandhi classic ‘Anti-Manifesto’ and the Zionism and religion attacking ‘Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass’. Thankfully, the preaching is kept to a minimum, with Hannah and co. letting the songs do most of the talking, but the band are surprisingly fun, inviting a fan onstage to sing ‘Fuck The Border’ and joking about being “guys who are almost 40 and still dress like we’re 16”. Encoring with the return of the caped Clive Jones for a cover of his band’s ‘Come To The Sabbat’ before blowing the roof off with the blistering ‘Purina Hall Of Fame’, the night ends with Hannah’s face melting guitar solo and a set that left the crowd picking their jaws up from the floor.
Ian Chaddock

Big Cheese Presents…
NOFX
SNUFF, THE FLATLINERS, POUR HABIT
London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire
May 3rd
5/5
Our openers at this second London Fat Wreck extravaganza come in the form of recent signers POUR HABIT.  Harking back to an early SoCal sound with a heavy dose of Compton roots mixed in, the band whip up a tasty circle pit in no time, and while singer Chuck Green may look a far cry from the emo sheen of Davey Havok, the vocals spouting from his lips could fool you otherwise.
Next up are Toronto’s THE FLATLINERS, a band barely out of their school uniforms but with a punk sound that’s solidified their name on the Canadian scene.  Providing a nice middle ground for the show, these guys aren’t really much to write home about, but probably worthy of a place on a Fat Wrek sampler.
Brit legends SNUFF mark our strike three on this sunny Sunday evening and the reception from the stalls on their entrance is one of true anarchic admiration. Over twenty years young, with an iconic ska punk sound that’s impossible to pigeon hole, classic songs like ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads’, ‘Nick Northern’ and the slur-along to beat all slur-alongs ‘Arsehole’ all crop up in a performance that shows no signs of wear, despite the bands on/off career.
Unstoppable since their birth, NOFX’s album output has never faltered with mark 12 ‘Coaster’ (or ‘Frisbee’ on vinyl) hitting shops last month.  Although we get a nice taster from this, most of the set is happily made up from their massive arsenal of favourites including a mix of faster tracks like ‘I’m Telling Tim’, ‘Bob’ and ‘Seeing Double At The Triple Rock’, chilled out reggae ditties like ‘Eat The Meek’ and ‘Reeko’ and a furious five minute, six song splurge in the middle. NOFX aren’t all about the music though: half of the laughs are…well, the laughs, with tonight’s banter ranging from discussions over Fat Mike’s nipples, to a mini breakdancing sesh from the ‘illustrious’ El Hefe.  Everybody leaves with a smile on their face: a true laugh riot night from the Bill Hickses of punk rock.

Tom Williams

GROEZROCK
Meerhot, Belgium
April 17th-18th
4/5
Belgium’s answer to the Vans Warped Tour, Groezrock is without a doubt Belgium’s premium punk and hardcore festival, mixing a commanding line-up together with a huge atmosphere that would challenge even the largest of festivals.
From the hardcore sounds of AMEN RA to the ska soundtrack of CATCH 22, this year’s line-up stepped it up in terms of variety.
THE LIVING END celebrated their first time back in Belgium for eight years, sounding and looking excellent on stage as true professionals. Cover songs abounded throughout the weekend, with THE VANDALS coming up with a typically amusing version of Queen’s 1978 hit ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. Although THE AQUABATS covered Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’, this was not a highlight of the weekend with a mixed reaction of obscenities and salutations.
NO FUN AT ALL, the Swedish punk rock band, formed back in 1991 and even after all these years and several line-up changes, they still pull together for an amazing performance, as did BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, with an electric atmosphere and their loyal army of fans.
Although RISE AGAINST were on top form and produced an awesome show, NOFX managing to squeeze out an almost complete set stole the weekend and blew everything else out of sight.

Daniel Talbot

GALLOWS
London Madam Jo Jo’s
April 29th
5/5
Stages weren’t meant for Frank Carter. Within, oh, about five seconds he’s bounded off the tiny platform inside the super-intimate Jo Jo’s where GALLOWS have decided to cap off a screening of the ‘Grey Britain’ DVD with an invite-only show and scampered up onto the overlooking balcony, merrily passing the microphone and bellowing in the faces of industry types as Lags, Stu, Steph and Lee crank out the life-affirming racket that is ‘Grey Britain’, tearing their way through the likes of ‘Death Voices’ and ‘Leeches’ with a recharged level of passion and aggression. On top form with Frank cracking jokes and Stu introducing ‘Belly Of A Shark’ (one of only a couple of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ songs played, showing the confidence the five-piece have in their new material), it takes little time for a circle pit to develop inside the bespoke venue, with friends and family leading the charge. Fantastic.

Jim Sharples

THE LIVING END
Camden Koko
April 22nd
5/5
THE LIVING END’s only London show of their three-gig whistle-stop tour was a sell-out packed house and the band rose to the occasion. They kicked off with one of the new songs ‘Raise The Alarm’ in stomping fashion before wading into classic ‘Roll On’ not giving the crowd chance to draw breath then mixed it all up for the rest of the set with older more familiar material blending well with the new. Bassist Scott Owen is definitely going to be in trouble with bass lovers as he abused his instrument, mercilessly slapping, dragging and mounting it all over the stage. Chris Cheney showed similar scant regard for his guitar, throttling out lightning fast licks as he circumnavigated the stage conquering Andy Stachan’s drums in the process. The band’s anthem ‘Prisoner Of Society’ still takes pride of place in the set and is played with as much venom and power as it was when it propelled the band into superstardom in Australia over a decade ago resulting in raised heckles and a thousand fists accompanied by every voice in the house singing the chorus at the top of their lungs. Not resting on their laurels it was straight back to the new with ‘How Do We Know’ rolling into party piece ‘E-Boogie’ where the drum and slap bass showcased before Cheney played slide with a frothing beer bottle on a guitar of many a dream before necking the remaining booze to  rapturous cheers. Last song was ‘White Noise’ which already sounds like an anthem but we knew they’d be back, melancholy but rockin’ ‘Wake Up’ surprised a few but not as much as an impromptu rendition of ‘Jailbreak’ before back to a thunderous and fitting Living End finale ‘West End Riot’ which had the Koko crowd throbbing in unison. Once again The Living End proved that they are one of the best live bands on the planet.

Simon Nott

 

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