THE TIM VERSION
DECLINE OF THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN
Tampa anthemic punks with whiskey fuelled, gruff third studio album.
The Tim Version have been tearing out awesome punk songs for years. With driving songs such as the belting opener ‘Shin Splints’ (complete with guitar solo!), the bouncing confessional of ‘Murder’ and the sing along of ‘W.H.A.’, as well as the dirty country punk of ‘Where the Wildmen Are’ and ‘Bitter Greens’, this album bursts with energy and tension. This is accentuated by Russ VanCleave’s incredibly raw vocals and honest lyrics about scrapes with the law and drinking. It’s nothing new but The Tim Version do this sound better than most. The Tim Version are raising the bar (or should that be drinking it dry?) for gruff punk.
THE TURNPIKE CRUISERS
ROCKIN’ POSSESSED 1984-1986
Lesser known psychos, but check ’em out.
Psychobilly crew The Turnpike Cruisers’ roots can be traced back to a bizarre but entertaining early ‘80s outfit called Zanti Misfitz from the Blackpool area. No less bizarre, but certainly more focussed, the Cruisers never really rose above the status of mid-afternoon slots at psychobilly all-dayers, but they always put on a great show and are fondly remembered by many psycho old-timers. This set rounds up three recording sessions from, you’ve guessed it, 1984 to 1986, at Park Lane Studios and Tin Pan Alley, and if you’ve never heard the Cruisers before, the eighteen tracks reveal a quirky, diverse, and, yes, always Rockin’ band. And their cover of ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ is a killer.
IN THE ARMS OF MY ENEMY
Militant folk-punk from the former Ads man.
An indefatigable graduate of UK punk’s class of ‘77, TV Smith continues to write and perform with the same spirit of poetic social consciousness that informed his work both with The Adverts and TV Smith’s Explorers. The occasionally shambolic punk clatter of the Ads has long since given way to a more acoustic approach and Teev’s latest sees him very much in folk-punk troubador mode. Railing against consumerism, pollution and capitalism’s other more noxious by-products, Smith’s songs still reveal an unabated yearning for social values, most poignantly here with the reflective I Wish I Could See Clearly and the title track, whose spag-west stylings conjure-up Leone-esque visions of do-or-die standoff.
20 TRACKS OF UK PUNK AND SKA
Oh yeah baby, 20 tracks of, well you know…
How can you not love an album that proclaims on the sleeve that it contains ‘Music by people who drink cider in the gutter’? Exactly, this rocks and does indeed contain 20 tracks of the genres described. This is one of those ‘help ourselves’ releases that embraces the true punk ethic and showcases a load of bands that don’t get a look in, but should. There isn’t a shit track on here but some stand-outs in the shape of The Hyperjax and Buzzkill amongst plenty of others. TNS stands for Thatsnotskanking, check them out on MySpace.
ASHES TO ASHES EP
Corking punk rock from Sacramento’s finest.
Sacramento based WELT have been knocking out top notch punk rock ’n’ roll since 1994. Bristol’s Cider City have come up trumps with this long-awaited follow up to 2001’s critically acclaimed ‘Brand New Dream’. Produced, engineered, and mixed by the dream team of Bill Stevenson (of Descendants/ALL/Black Flag fame) and Jason Livermore (Wretch Like Me), this EP really delivers the goods in the form of mid-paced melodic punk rock somewhere between latter day Social Distortion, Reno Divorce and Face to Face; chock full of pop hooks and even a hint of country. It’s as shame they’ve only come up with a 4-track EP though, as a full-blown LP would go down a treat.
THE FALLEN LEAVES
IT’S TOO LATE NOW
Nifty debut from the sartorially impeccable ‘Leaves.
Utilising their regular Parliament Club in west London as a centre of operations, Fallen Leaves employ a distinctly old-school punk tactic in creating one‘s own scene and building it up from there. It adds up then that ‘Leaves guitarist Rob Symmons was the original guitarist with first-wave brit-punks Subway Sect, and is now back from an over-extended sabbatical with his distinctive high-slung Telecaster technique gloriously intact. With fellow class of ‘77 cohort Rob Green on vocals, Fallen Leaves have turned in for their debut full-lengther a brace of tuneful, high-powered mod-pop bursts executed with a punky sense of economy and a straight-from-the-garage lack of fuss. While up tempo belters like All That You Chose bring to mind the powerhouse drive of the early Who, Seven Years or Days of Summer reveal an agreeably Kinks-y sense of tune-age.
THE TROPICS OF CANCER FEAT. SHE ROCOLA / LADY AND THE TRAMPS
UNDER THE COVERS / S/T
Old school sophistication at pre-war prices!
The vampish Ms Rocola has been prowling the capital‘s garage rock underground these past few years, bringing more than a touch of sultry sophistication to the party, whether fronting Joe Whitney‘s trash-exotica project The Tropics of Cancer or the swing-jazz ensemble Lady And The Tramps. The Tropics’ Under The Covers, as the title suggests, throws together originals like the bewitching Sylvia’s Gate with class takes on such classics as Cry Me A River, plus a take on The Buzzcocks’ Get On Our Own that’s pure Wicker Man in execution. Lady And The Tramps meanwhile take a stricter jazz path, shaking up a batch of retro-faves from Weill and Brecht’s Mack The Knife to the GI-jive of the Andrews Sisters’ Rum And Coca Cola. Book ‘em for your next party, and make mine a Cuba Libra.
MY DRUG HELL
THIS IS MY DRUG HELL
Welcome reissue of long-lost nineties classic.
Logging the myriad joys and pains of a west London hipster’s existence, Tim Briffa and his My Drug Hell caught a moment with their 1997 debut, a snapshot of W10 before the high street giants and the yummy mummies annexed the main drag . ‘This Is My Drug Hell’ recalls an altogether gentler age when a down-at-heel rock’n’roller could still bag himself a nifty psychedelic shirt up the ‘bella for under a tenner without too much trouble, yet for all nostalgia‘s undeniably warm glow what’s striking about this reissue is how bang-on sharp it still sounds. MDH adeptly channeled sixties rock’s darker currents into a jaggedly efficient three piece dynamic, underpinning Briffa’s bittersweet observations on life and love in the shadow of the Trellick tower. Unearthing them now, it’s all the more perplexing that MDH never broke out into the bigger league; You Were Right, I Was Wrong still conjures up bust-ups you thought you’d long forgotten, and the near-hit Girl At The Bus Stop is one of the great shoulda-beens of British pop, a sublime lovelorn moment. The long-promised follow-up album has yet to materialise of course, but for now, the dark pop shimmer of My Drug Hell’s debut is once again yours to savor..
See the entries below here for all the May reviews.
BE YOUR OWN PET
Teen angst gets a sexy electro overhaul.
The second, more refined album from the Nashville foursome sees erratic garage rock at it’s most blinding and abrasive. Like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on speed, singer Jemina Pearl sweetly snarls (yes a contradiction but it works!) punk vitriol over angular guitars with a series of fast and bewildering songs. From defying growing up in ‘Super Soaked’, to violent high school bitterness in ‘Becky’ and a refreshing rockabilly feel to anti-love song ‘Zombie Graveyard Party’ reminiscent of Zombina And The Skeletones; ‘love is lame so let me eat your brain’. Pearl’s vocals range from sugary sweet to a gravel voiced vixen, flowing deliciously along with the sheer dynamism of the album, briefly finding its softer moments with indignant ‘You’re A Waste’. A collection of raw and frantic pop songs with a punk heart that chronicle growing up in a refreshing and surprisingly mature manner.
CARCASS OF HUMANITY
Modern UK anarcho duo.
Comprising solely of brothers Paul and Rob Marriott, and, Burnt Cross, who formed last year in Brighton, now take up the mantle of old-fashioned anarcho punk, all recorded on an 8-track desk in Rob’s bedroom. Full marks for determination and ingenuity, then, with integrity taken as read (even the worst anarcho types meant well), but how do the boys shape up musically? Well, with their self-imposed restrictions of genre, personnel and recording facilities, the lads have done well, displaying decent songwriting and undoubted commitment that would have easily ranked alongside the likes of Crass et al back in the day.
Original Sarf Lahndan OI!-sters, still with us
It was a sad day when guitarist Steve Whale left long-standing Oi! outfit the Business, but singer Micky Fitz soldiers on, and the three powerful new recordings on this ep bode well for the future of the band, even if they are all covers. The title track is an old Status Quo song, and one of their better ones, but the stand-out is the Professionals’ classic ‘1-2-3′, as Fitz’s vocals aren’t a million miles away from Steve Jones’ original. Shame the track listing gets it and the Bruisers’ ‘Til The End’ the wrong way round. The ep is rounded off nicely with an impromptu 15 minute live set recorded at the Marquee way back in June 1982, and treat it is too.
DONITA SPARKS & THE STELLAR MOMENTS
Solo venture from L7 frontwoman
Donita Sparks is something of a stateswoman of rock, recording this on her own label and as a founder of CASH Music.org (which seeks to find sustainable ways of making music a sustainable livelihood) she’s fiercely independent, this is reflected in her music. There’s very much the Joan Jett about her, the riffs rock, the production is glam but dirty and the melodies part agro part angel. ‘Dare Dare’ is a great, sleazy pop song, part the Breeders part the Donnas it’s the albums highlight. The rest of the album is competent and this is incredibly well arranged, the only downfall is the lack of songs as strong as ‘Dare Dare’ and the occasional veer into MOR rock.
DOWN AND OUTS
FRIDAY NIGHT, MONDAY MORNINGS
(Dead & Gone)
Second full length from these scouse melodic punk scallywags
It’s always great to hear Brit punk spat forth in its native tongue and the snotty Liverpudlian accents on this record really adds to the already tasty mix of early ’77 style punk ala Clash or Buzzcocks with the more modern ‘90s Bay Area, Lookout sound of Green Day or Rancid. The eleven tracks here are pure working class punk anthems citing the weekly timetable of humdrum work followed by weekend partying. It’s gritty yet catchy, is instantly likeable and one that the listener can really relate to. These northern lads have done good!
Sprightly US street punk
San Jose street punks the Forgotten have been doing the rounds, and doing some damned fine work, since 1997, but this self-titled album is certainly their best release to date. Produced by Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen (not Tim Armstrong, as stated on the press release), who also chipped in with some guitar and backing vocals and co-wrote brooding closing track ‘Endless Parade’, this is pretty slick stuff, but never lacking in spirit or bite.
Swedish rock n’ roll kings sign off.
Well it seems Nicke Andersson is finally calling time on the Hellacopters and this will be their final album. And that’s a same, ‘cos this seventh album is twelve slices of super-catchy, melodic, 70’s rock n’ roll that kicks chrome-plated ass from start to finish. This is great top down, foot to the floor driving music with huge choruses on the likes of ‘Midnight Angels’ and ‘In the Sign of the Octopus’. At times sounding both like Australian punk legends Radio Birdman or Finnish neighbours Hanoi Rocks, ‘Head Off’ is a great way to go out and in these times of copycat emo bands and anonymous metal it’s a super charged shot of powered up punk, pop and rock n’ roll that’s a real breath of fresh air. Check ‘em out before they’re gone.
THEE MERRY WIDOWS
THE DEVIL’S OUTLAWS
(People Like You)
All-girl Psychobilly crew with attitude
Judging by the promotional shots, it’s a fairly safe bet Thee Merry Widows are not the kind of ladies you mess with. Fronted by burlesque queen Eva Von Slut, this Californian quintet have established themselves as major players on the US psychobilly scene. They’ve played with the likes of The Meteors, Demented Are Go, Mad Sin and Necromantix and have even followed Johnny Cash’s footsteps by playing at San Quentin. For the most part they play straight up Psychobilly only straying slightly with Misfit’s style Horrorpunk on ‘I Want ‘Em Dead’ and the slow and sleazy ‘Snakebite Kinda Love’. At a time when the genre is starting to attract a number of bandwagon jumping chancers, these girls are here to show them how it’s done.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE GOOGLY
Street punk, Yorkshire style.
It was surely only a matter of time before someone would take the Oi! movement to its logical conclusion by bringing the supremely British subject matter of cricket into the equation. And that someone, ladies and gentlemen, is the band known as Geoffrey Oi!Cott, an outfit also fixated with darts, lager and their native Yorkshire. Alright, you’re not falling for this are you? Geoffrey Oi!Cott are of course a spoof band, but like Hard Skin, they have the sound nailed well and proper, showing genuine knowledge and affection for the genre. The album name and sleeve, outrageously aping the 4-Skins’ first album is also a nice touch.
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