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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JULY RECORD REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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VIVE LE PUNK FESTIVAL

VIVE LE PUNK FESTIVAL
Leamington Spa The Assembly
April 26th

Here are two fan reviews of the VLP festival. All photos are copyright Uglypunk.

The venue was excellent, recently refurbished – and it looked it too. Great stage with good visibility from anywhere in the room. There was mention of a new £250,000 sound system having been installed, and after hearing all the bands play you couldn’t argue with it either – they all sounded exceptionally good. Even the light show was very good all day and reached its peak at the end of the night for the UK Subs and the Anti Nowhere League. The only downside during the whole proceedings was the over-use of the smoke machines for the last few bands – so much so that Nato (the ANWL drummer, for those that don’t know) couldn’t even read his set list at one point – and it was less than three foot away from him !!!!!

ALL the staff (yes, INCLUDING the bouncers) were excellent, and as usual at these events there was no trouble whatsoever – just everybody having a good time and really enjoying themselves watching the bands.

First up on stage were a local band called SECTION 13 (4/5) – pictured below – who did a great set, watched by a decent gathering for first on like. Very energetic and watchable frontman, with a good punk sound made for a fine start to the days proceedings.

Next up – the ever fast and furious VARUKERS (4/5), who never fail to produce the goods, with Rat stalking the stage and taking command as usual. Bit early in the day for them to be playing – but with so many other good bands still to come someone had to be second on!

Similar can be said for the third band too, THE LURKERS (4/5) – but Arthur was needed later on for the 999 set, so we’ll give yer that one !! Another polished performance by the three piece punk legends and very well recieved.

The day was still only young and already it was time for the consistently brilliant VICE SQUAD (4/5). With the super Beki Bondage up front they put in another great performance (even when Paul’s Amp blew! But he sorted it out, and most punters probably didn’t even notice!) Excellent delivery and energy throughout the whole set.

Time for THE MEMBERS (3/5) now. Recently re-formed after approx 20 years (so I was told) and this was only about their fifth gig since then. The least lively band of the day, which was only to be expected – played a mixed range of tunes including some slow ska/reggae types and the crowd pleasing Solitary Confinement and Sound of the Suburbs. Not my type of music – but that is nothing against their collective performance.

Arthur has had a long enough break now! So it’s the turn of 999 (4/5). Brill set with lots of old stuff mixed with a few of the new album tracks, and they all went down well. Nick Cash was lively on the large stage and even managed to get airborne a couple of times too!

Enter the maestro… Charlie Harper and the UK SUBS (5/5). Charlie was on top form, clad in leather jacket and Vibrators T shirt – prancing around, throwing the mike stand in the air, jumping about, and more. How does he do it after all these years, AND, at his age?! Sorry Charlie. A great performance from a great man. He always has time for the many people that want a word or a photograph with him, and today was no exception – mixing with the crowd/fans all day/night. Top man. Anyway, an excellent set produced by the whole band – even though Jamie (the drummer) was clouded in smoke for most of it!

Headline time, and the ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE (5/5). Up steps Animal to take centre stage, flanked by Shady and the recent new member Johny Skullknuckles (still playing with Goldblade as well by the way), and the awesome Nato pounding the skins at the back, and the power level is massively increased with the shout of "We ARE The League". A fabulous show put on by all of them, well over an hour of their fav/best songs had the crowd enthralled and bouncing around. A great finale helped by the top quality pa system and the cranked up light show. Even the smoke effects looked good for the punters (and the photographs!), but it was a bit much for the band members.

Another all-dayer like this should be a must. Big thanks from me and many others to Nigel, the General Manager, and ALL involved at The Assembly in Leamington Spa for their hospitality and for Hosting the event. If you’ve never been to this place to see a gig, then GO ! You wont be disappointed.

CHEEEEEEEEEEERS,
‘UGLYPUNK’

ALL photographs are copyright of ‘Uglypunk’ and may not be reproduced without prior permission.

THE VIVE LE PUNK FESTIVAL

Had an excellent weekend in Leamington, rounded off by a superb gig promoted by the Vive Le Punk website.

The venue, The Assembly Rooms in Leamington is ideal for a gig. Great sound and great lighting with a couple of well staffed bars.

The gig started off with local band SECTION 13 (3/5), whom I had not heard before, and they got the afternoon off to a great start. More hardcore than ‘77 punk but very enjoyable. They even played Black Flag and Bad
Brains covers, which they nailed.

Next up were the VARUKERS (4/5) who are celebrating 30 years of hardcore punk! Rat, Biff and the crew piledrived out a great set of apocalyptic sounds and
proved they still have the fire. They are off to New Zealand and Australia right now as part of a world tour. Catch ‘em when they are back.

We then had THE LURKERS (5/5) who never disappoint. Arturo is a great frontman and the band always play a great show. They played old and new tracks including “Rubber Room", "Shadow" and the brilliant "Come and reminisce if you think you’re old enough", finishing off with "Go ahead Punk".

Next up were VICE SQUAD (4/5), who despite early amp problems, were excellent.

999 (5/5) took to the stage next and like The Lurkers were on blistering form. We got the usual tracks, "Homicide", "Nasty Nasty", "Feeling alright with
the crew" as well as a couple of tracks from the superb "Death In Soho" album.

Then a band that I never saw first time around – THE MEMBERS (4/5). When they took to the stage I thought "Who the fuck are these old blokes?" because they looked like old blokes and not your usual "punk band". Being one of their first gigs in 20 odd years showed and they made a few cock ups, BUT, it was great hearing "Sound of the suburbs", "Soho a go go", "Police car" etc
live. Their new single "International Financial Crisis", which is an updated version of "Offshore banking business", was also played and is superb. Give them a bit of time and go and see them – superb.

Good ol’ Charlie and his merry gang were up next and as usual the UK SUBS (5/5) were superb. Admittedly you could probably know from memory what the band are going to play, CID / RIOT / WARHEAD / STRANGLEHOLD etc but they always play so well. It was good to see the band so high on the list, although quite a few people thought that they should be headlining and a few left before the League took to the stage.

Now I love the ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE (5/5), and despite knowing the set list pretty well, I am never disappointed, and this gig was no exception. From WE ARE THE LEAGUE / SNOWMAN / WOMAN / LET’S BREAK THE LAW to tracks from ROAD TO RAMPTON, always superb. Johnny Knuckles, from Goldblade, is probably the best guitarist they have ever had live and it makes them well worth seeing.

All in all, a superb day and thanks to Vive Le Punk for organising it.

Tim Richards

A big thanks go out to Uglypunk and Tim for their reviews and Uglypunk for the great photos!

FOR LIVE REVIEWS OF THE JIM JONES REVUE AND THE STRAWBERRY BLONDES, CLICK HERE.

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MAY RECORD REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MAY ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS

THE JIM JONES REVUE
London Madame Jo Jo’s
March 5th

Sleazed into a sold-out Madame Jo Jo’s, the UK’s best-kept rock ‘n’ roll secret is exploding onstage.
THE JIM JONES REVUE (5/5) take the fire of Jerry Lee Lewis, gargle down a bottle of cheap pills with a whisky chaser and spit it out on great tunes like their current single ‘Cement Mixer’. Culled from their cracking debut album, songs whistle past in a barrelling rampage of punk rock fury and hard licks as Jones stalks the stage like a man hopped-up after a session toking on Chuck Berry’s adrenal gland.
It ain’t new and it ain’t pretty, but it’s so raw and passionate that Big Cheese wants in big time. The Jim Jones Revue will make you love rock ‘n’ roll again. You’ve been warned.
El Prez

STRAWBERRY BLONDES
Newport TJs
February 21st

With the current recession triggering alarm bells about the decline of the UK live music scene you could be mistaken for thinking that tonight punters might be a bit thin on the ground, but it looks like they’ve had to widen TJ’s door frames to accommodate the crowd that has swelled into the legendary venue to witness the triumphant return of Newport street punks STRAWBERRY BLONDES (4/5). Back on home turf the Blondes explode onto the tiny stage and the crowd erupts into a flailing mass of limbs as front man Mickie Stabbs leads his mob straight into prime rabble rousing anthem’s ‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Rise Up’ and the ska infused ‘Beat Down Babylon’.
New songs such as ‘Social Control’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Fight Back’ show that Strawberry Blondes have that knack of writing songs that perfectly capture the mood of the times. After an all-too-brief forty five minutes an incendiary ‘Kingmob’ brings their set to a close as they leave the stage to a barrage of feedback and chants for more from the sweat drenched crowd. Tonight there’s no encore but something tells me we haven’t seen the last of this lot.
Tim Grayson

 

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GOLDBLADE Aberdeen, April 11th 2009

   

GOLDBLADE
Aberdeen
The Moorings 
April 11th
5/5

Goldblade came along and did what they do best. They took the evening by the scruff of the neck and turned it into the best party in town. The name of Goldblade’s game is participation and, right from the off, they had the very enthusiastic crowd pogoing and singing along with their anthemic, football terrace choruses. Opening up with crowd favourite Fighting in the dancehall,followed by strictly hardcore, we then had a minor technical hitch when they lost Pete Birchmore’s guitar midway through the second song. However, after a couple of minutes break, they started at the beginning again with another, even more frenzied run through of Fighting in the dancehall and their theme song, Strictly Hardcore.
The set continued apace, drawing mainly from their last two albums, Rebel Songs and Mutiny. Motormouth front man John Robb never stops moving and it wasn’t long before his shirt was off and he was dripping sweat. There was no let up though as the classics kept on coming. Recent single Jukebox Generation blasted out along side Mutiny along side Riot Riot. Towards the end of their set, John invited someone up on stage to help them out with a final run through Psycho again. The volunteer, although not quite possessing the physique of Mr Robb, got right into the spirit of things, ripping off his shirt and giving it 100% with the lyrics, and a fine job he made of it too. The final song of the night was a sizzling version of Black Elvis which, as ever, had the crowd bellowing along with the words. After that they left the stage and you could see the steam hanging in the air from all the sweating that was going on from both band and crowd.
Goldblade really are one of the best live acts in the country at the moment. Do yourself a favour and check them out when they play your town. You won’t be disappointed.
 
www.myspace.com/dmphotographyaberdeen

 

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APRIL RECORD REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FEBRUARY ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS

MAGAZINE
LONDON HMV FORUM, KENTISH TOWN
February 12th

The disembodied voice of Howard Devoto cuts short a wordy recorded intro, explaining away the band’s highly anticipated reunion with ‘There’s This Woman I Need to Impress’. Drummer John Doyle, keyboardist Dave Formula and bassist Barry Adamson materialize from the shadows, with dapper guitarist Noko filling the shoes of the late John McGeogh, and the insistent stomp of ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’ blows away the decades and dispels all need for further explanations. A leisurely figure in half-mast trews, Devoto appears perfectly at ease considering his long absence from the scene. What follows is a near flawless coast through Magazine’s back pages, classic after classic – ‘Because You’re Frightened’, ‘Rhythm of Cruelty’, ‘Permafrost’ – dispatched with panache. Noko executes those McGeoch guitar lines admirably, while Adamson delivers sinewy basslines with uber-cool nonchalance. The set hits a new level with the urgent groove of ‘20 Years Ago’ which sequences immaculately into the giddying ‘Definitive Gaze’. The classic single ‘Shot By Both Sides’ kicks pure adrenaline with its needling guitar riff and the final encore, an amped-up cover of Beefheart’s ‘Big Dummy’, closes proceedings on an unmatchable “never thought I’d see the day” type of show.
Hugh Gulland


Sick Of It All by Nick Mann

BIG CHEESE SPONSORED…
PERSISTENCE TOUR
LONDON KENTISH TOWN FORUM
December 11th

Four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon is definitely not the optimum time for a gig to start, and it’s no surprise early acts WAR OF AGES and DISCIPLINE are missed by many – this reviewer included. The venue’s still far from full as Dutch outfit BORN FROM PAIN (3/5) bully their way through a set that’s high on aggression but low on originality. There’s some serous Hatebreed-worshipping going on here, and even though their on-stage enthusiasm gets a few hyped-up individuals down the front moving, there’s not enough real quality to drag their set above the realms of average-ness. Mediocrity remains the order of the day with Germany’s HEAVEN SHALL BURN (2/5), who also do little to leave any lasting impression with their one-dimensional brand of metalcore. It’s not until TERROR (4/5) take to the stage, that the crowd actually seems interested in what’s going on, and the Los Angeles bruisers up the ante from the off, inciting the first real crowd activity of the night. With just half an hour to play with, it’s good to hear them only dropping in two songs from this year’s ‘The Damned, The Shamed’ effort, leaving space for crowd faces like ‘One With The Underdogs’ and ‘Push It Away’. Fast, furious and straight-to-the-point, they’re pretty much awesome from start to finish.
The feeling that the night was actually getting going was reinforced from the moment H20 (5/5) took to the stage and deliver a consistently great set of super-positive hardcore that’s tailor-made for bringing a smile to the face. Despite a rubbish sound mix, the anthemic nature of their material shines through, right from opener ‘1995’ via the likes of ‘Everready’, ‘Thicker Than Water’, an ace ‘Guilty By Association’ and cleverly dropping Fugazi’s ‘Waiting Room’ into the middle of ‘Five Year Plan’ – it’s all fist-in-the-air, shout-along fun and their set ends far too soon. Thankfully, their departure from the stage merely paves the way for fellow NYHC legends SICK OF IT ALL (5/5). It might actually be impossible for SOIA to deliver a duff set, because tonight is – as ever – pretty much flawless. Right from the proto-mosh of ‘It’s Clobberin’ Time’ through to newer songs from last album ‘Death To Tyrants’, they’ve always remained hard-hitting but anthemic, angry but fun, and their set tonight offers up all of that and more. Twenty years into their career, and SOIA are still the hardcore band to see live.
Words/Photo: Nick Mann

 

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