MAY ALBUM REVIEWS
LET’S BURN THE INTERNET DOWN
Former Eater frontman back on fine form.
Though this doesn’t quite reach the heights of Andy Blade’s 2008 groundbreaking ‘Life Affirming Songs For Those With A Bad Attitude’, it’s definitely worthy of a place in your collection. The multi-talented chap plays and produces everything himself. He does it with endearing brio, humour and is quite happy to toss a sucker punch in the direction of the establishment when and where necessary, proving his ’77 punk spirit is very much alive and gobbing. ‘Paradise & Below’, ‘You Kill Me’ and ‘Electrified’, with their outspoken guitar, swirling effects and enigmatic vocals, are definite highlights but there’s still very little filler on there. Andy Blade has truly reinvented himself in recent years and is amassing legions of followers that were hardly out of nappies when he first got in front of a microphone.
(People Like You)
Seattle outlaw country man with a punk attitude.
Armed with his leather vest, a thick accent and his Outlaw Carnies backing band of banjo, fiddle and upright bass players, Bob Wayne is the modern embodiment of the outlaw country spirit of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Alongside the likes of Hank III, he’s putting the spit ‘n’ blood back into country, with the likes of opener ‘Road Bound’, ‘Mack’ and ‘Everything’s Legal In Alabama’ telling tales of brawling, drink, drugs, trucks and guns, all while sweating a punk rock aggression. But he’s not just a one trick pony, with album highlight ‘Blood To Dust’ a more sombre, stripped down and melodic story about Wayne’s tough life. If you want to hear country with a true rebel sound then look no further than ‘Outlaw Carnie’. Bob Wayne tells it like it is, warts and all.
BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
(Devils Jukebox) Authentic rock ‘n’ roll with a country tinge, fronted by New York punk kitten.
Former NY Loose babe Brijitte West is the perfect package. Back with her new gang of Hopefuls, this album is a feisty siesta of no-nonsense punky country rock. One moment you’re slammin’ tequilas with the playful ‘Hey Papito’ (on this issue’s covermount CD), the next you’re pogoing to the stonking ‘Not My Fault’, then you’re kicking back with the melodic country ballads ‘How To Be Good’, a duet with Jesse Malin. She absorbs the rustic twangs of Sheryl Crow with the Runaways grrl-power of Ms. Jett, then secretes nothing but unadulterated classic rock aura. The self-titled album isn’t ground breaking but it’s professional and full of anthems. They know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it with balls. Rock and fucking roll!
CRASH AND BURN
(I Hate People)
Geordie street rock ‘n’ roll, straight from the heart.
The Jarrow lads have done it again. ‘Crash And Burn’ is a shotgun filled with hard rock, balls-out punk, and nifty lyrics that will blow your brains out! Following the blinding ‘Pearls Before Swine’, the new album is a street punk masterpiece with a robust measure of classic rock licks. Chris Wright blast punk s out ‘Still A Fighter’, a heartfelt account of his boxing background, and ‘Battle Scarred’, a powerful military anthem, with nothing but genuine passion. Catchy, light-hearted tracks ‘Save Amy’ and ‘Feel Good’ are teamed with honest ballads ‘The Town That Died’, and the cheeky ‘Son Of A Gun’ with an end product that makes me proud to be from the North East. What I want to know is, who is “Cushy Butterfield”? She sounds like my kind of girl!
Sham 69 founder’s fine second solo outing.
As founding guitarist with Sham 69, Parsons has long established himself as one of punk’s best players and tunesmiths, but this album contains much that wouldn’t sit happily in the Sham catalogue. It’s been a good while since his last solo album, 1996’s ‘Reconciled’, but, perhaps reinvigorated by the new Jimmy Pursey-less, but much more active, Sham, here he is with another (for now, it’s digital only though). Openers ‘Hope And Faith’ and ‘Framed’ are tuneful pop/punk with a glammy edge, while ‘Can You Here Me Now’ is a subdued number with acoustic guitar, piano and nice vocal harmonies. Elsewhere, ‘Another Way’ moves into robust metal, even hair metal territory, and though ‘Gotta Get Outta This Place’ is not an Animals cover, Parsons cheekily slips in a few bars of the classic. Well worth checking out.
THE DEAD CLASS
Pop-tainted grime from punk rock’s latest DIY investment.
These guys have been on the scene for five years and have already made their name on tour. It’s punk the way it should be, with fresh lyrics that differ from the normal psycho-politico, but with the smell of petroleum plus all the same. ‘Be Afraid’ is a psychobilly entrance, with the paranoid visions of a society gone mad rings linking from their previous release ‘Age Of Paranoia’. ‘Other Side Of You’ has a heavy metal undertone and coils of sardonic dark humoured vocals. On ‘Dirty Dick’ there’s a Dead Kennedys feel about the sleazy riffs and the masquerade of singer Villy. Single ‘Pulse And A Heartache’ deals a serious tempo adjustment. The Dead Class manage to intertwine pop punk and classic hardcore without losing anything in Americanisation.
THE DESTRUCTORS / GRIPPER
LES FLEURS DU MAL
Split EP from the UK old schoolers and former singer’s new outfit Gripper.
The Destructors were one of the forefathers of the UK punk scene and this split sees pretty much nigh on the original ’78 line-up back together, complete with original vocalist Allen Adams. An anti-war lyrical stance (‘Third World War’) and some full-on riffage has them wrecking on their four tracks. New Zealand’s, Gripper’s link with the Destructors is their singer Neil Singleton replaced Adams on vocals back in the ‘80s. Their boisterous, four tracks are more tongue-in-cheek than their split partners but great all the same. Leaning more toward the foul mouthed bluesy punkage of Sick On The Bus, tracks like ‘Useless’ and ‘How’s Ya Farva’ are only a let down in the production department. A quality split from polar sides of the globe.
ROSE ALLEY INBREDS
(Shattered Debauchee Press)
More scattergun punk potshots in a C&W stylee from these self-styled “London Kidney Thieves”.
Rose Alley Inbreds is an intoxicating hybrid of Cajun, C&W, and rock ’n’ roll with a hefty pinch of punk attitude. Mercilessly lampooning all manner of cultural, social and political sacred cows and taboos alike, take the ‘Rhinestone Klansman’ for example, or the immensely hilarious ‘I Caught H.I.V. From A Dirty Phone Call’. Some of the songs may – no, will – offend the sensibilities of more sensitive souls, for instance ‘God Bless Mark David Chapman’ is a cheap shot at The Beatles, but scratch beneath the surface of the provocative titles and you’ll find some cleverly crafted lyrics that owe as much to wry, satirical observation as they do to being offensive for the sake of it. The trick is not to take things too seriously.
UK82 veterans still angry after all these years.
The Disrupters are a Norwich based punk band who formed in late 1980. Originally influenced by the punk bands of the late ‘70s, the band was eventually drawn to the anarchist scene, attracting the attention of Crass, who included their track ‘Napalm’ on their ‘Bullshit Detector’ compilation. Having eventually split up in 1988, they made a well-received comeback in 2007 and, with a slightly revamped line-up, recorded this uncompromising album. If they were angry young men decades ago, the years have done little to calm them down as they rail against religious bigotry, corporate greed and child abusers. It’s not exactly easy listening by anyone’s standards, but as the band themselves point out “it is a dark album, but we live in dark times”.
Edgy, chaotic glam-grunge with splashes of metal and riot grrl power.
From the ashes of Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena come The Dogbones: a rollercoaster of frenzied screams and gritty rock over a drum-heavy shadow of voodoo beats. Metal influences of blood-spitting track ‘Aneurin’ are undeniable and ‘All Your Friends (Are Going To Kill You)’ incarnates a schizophrenic episode wonderfully. ‘It Was A Lie’ is a dark, grimey gem and the album highlight. There’s a couple of disappointing tracks, with ‘Hey Chihuahua’ and ‘I Want Alcohol’, but they’re odd cracks in an otherwise grunge-glam work of art. Nomi Leonard shows Courtney Love what a grunge girl really is, seamlessly switching between haunting screeches, psychotic quivers and sweet riot grrl power. The Dogbones create a chaotic rocket that will blast you into another dimension.
SHOT LIVE AT THE 100 CLUB
Essential, spunky rock ‘n’ roll live album celebrating 25 years as a band.
This CD/DVD is a perfect way to commemorate a quarter of a century of the Godfathers. The boys blast through a classic Godfathers set at London’s 100 Club, with 25 fan favourite songs, including ‘I Want Everything’, ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’, ‘This Damn Nation’, ‘Walking’ and ‘Talking Johnny Cash Blues’. In fact we get a double whammy of delight here because brothers Peter and Chris Coyne have reunited with old partner in crime, guitarist Del Bartle. They treat us to The Sid Presley Experience’s ‘Hup 234!’ and ‘Cold Turkey’, with powerhouse drummer Grant Nicholas’ great vocal harmonies. We have a couple of new sing-along anthems, with ‘Get Back! Back Into The Future! Going All The Way Home’ seemingly summing up the situation.
JERRY LEE LEWIS
MEAN OLD MAN
Great balls of fire, he’s still (country) rockin’!
Rock ‘n’ roll’s original hellraiser may be in his mid-seventies but, judging from ‘Mean Old Man’, he’s still got it. Breaking through in the ‘50s with hits like ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, over half a century later Lewis retains his ageing snarl. There’s also a plethora of all-star guests, and amongst the musicians are nearly every Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer, but the best include Slash and Kid Rock (on rock ‘n’ roller ‘Rockin’ My Life Away’) and Willie Nelson (‘Whisky River’). The tongue-in-cheek title track, penned by Kris Kristofferson, is a Johnny Cash-esque country rocker that shows his sharp wit. ‘Miss The Mississippi And You’ is just Lewis and his piano and it’s a poignant closer. He may be a mean old man but he’s still a rock ‘n’ roll legend.
KNOX AND THE TRAILER TRASH ORCHESTRA
THE KNOXVILLE BOY
Vibrators’ legendary frontman comes over all country.
Having played with first wave punk rockers the Vibrators for thirty five years, it’s refreshing to hear bona fide punk hero Knox teaming up with country band Trailer Trash Orchestra for an eleven track album of countrified goodness. From Vibrators songs given a stomping barroom makeover like ‘Baby Baby’ to a dark cover of the classic ‘The Knoxville Girl’, along with unreleased songs by both Knox and TTO frontman Grae J, it’s an album rich with instrumentation and storytelling. With pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, double bass, double guitar and drums accompanying Knox’s distinctive vocals, this shows another side to the veteran punk rocker. From an idea born in a North London art gallery in 2007 to this heartfelt album, it’s a must-have for any Vibrators or country fans. Next stop, Knoxville.
GARAJE O MUERTE
(Dirty Water Club)
Argentina’s mad dog quintet take on ‘60s garage corpse decadence.
The kings of South American garage punk hit back with their third LP but instead of fiery psychobilly that leaves a tequila, salt and lime aftertaste, there’s a dispelled rock ‘n’ roll seasoning churned out from a choppy Farfisa organ. The band has attempted to re-brand an outworn ‘60s garage that would have been alive and well in the smoky joints of their South American forefathers, but not even ’96 Lágrimas’ is able to revive an age gone by. They do however drive a catchy rhythm; ‘Connection’, an Inglés track on their bilingual mix, fuses dimensional strands of organ and thunder drum musings, before launching into an instrumental flair of unwired sound collections. ‘Rebelde’ is the highlight; warm tremolo guitars echoing raw vocal vivacity. It’s too difficult to resist the Latino pulse.
SO MUCH FOR SOHO
Real punk ‘n’ roll straight from the gutter.
An album that effortlessly channels punk forefathers the Clash, the Ramones and Dead Boys, ‘So Much For Soho’ is a killer 12-track of melodic sing-along punk ‘n’ roll. ‘Green Eyes’ is on this issue’s free CD and is a highlight, while the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint. ‘Two Ladies’ takes a more punkabilly thrust: deep rock ‘n’ roll bass and screaming guitar solos blast as Tom Spencer pulls off a psycho rasp akin to that of the legendary P. Paul Fenech. ‘30 Nage’ paints an all-too-real picture of original ’77 rockers growing old disgracefully. Four bonus tracks add a delicious dessert to a fresh mix of new age punk. Ex-Yo-Yos, Black Halos, Towers of London and Deadline members formulate a flawless line-up, and a gem for any punk rock collection.
Woozy, boozy Creole romper-stomping all the way from Sweden.
Incredibly, for a Swiss trio – Mama Rosin have distilled The Deliverance Experience to a hi-definition, fly-by tour of Louisiana’s backwaters, leaving you loose-limbed and lost in the badlands. It’s a feverish, sweaty blend that rocks and reels from the bare-knuckle, gumbo punk of ‘J’Arrive Pas A Dormir’ to the Bo Diddley rhythms and swamp-dwelling drums of ‘Bon Temps Roulet #3’ and the lumbering, lazy sway of ‘Quinze Jours Passes’. Every tune is so raw-rooted you can taste the delta dust between the tracks. ‘Black Robert is home-made, musical moonshine and something like sitting in on a Saturday night juke-joint jam. I’m all for woozy grooves and freewheeling wig-outs but a few too many drifting riffs and shapeless shakedowns muddy up an otherwise fiery collection of voodoo blues and campfire anthems.
For a band who have been around for over twenty years, Maroon Town sound remarkably fresh. The South London nine-piece were mainstays of the late ‘80s ska revival scene, releasing the groundbreaking ‘High And Dry’ album, which mixed Jamaican ska, rap and soul to tremendous effect. Since then they’ve travelled the globe many times taking their community music to the people and ‘Urban Myths’ plants them firmly back on the map. The songs strut and swagger with a new found confidence, complimented by the smooth female vocals mixed with the male rap attack. Opener ‘Ya Ya (Lemme Tell Dem)’ whips up a dancehall storm, ‘Latin Moshpit’ adds salsa rhythms to the party, ‘Bella Cosa’ incorporates a heavy reggae and dub vibe and ska instrumental ‘Bullit’ whips along at a fair pace. Maroon Town are back at the forefront of the cross-cultural sound clash.
Reformed NWOBHM band featuring ‘Art Attack’ axeman.
Depending on how old you, you’ll either know the name Neil Buchanan as guitarist for ‘80s hair rockers/metallers Marseille or as the presenter of ‘90s kid’s TV art show ‘Art Attack’. Either way, he’s certainly a great lead guitarist, peeling off some impressive licks throughout this comeback album. Having reformed in 2009, this is their first aptly titled new album. From the anthemic title track opener to the gang vocals and rock ‘n’ roll worship of ‘I Believe’ to the uplifting ‘Everyone Dies Young’, this is still NWOBHM through and through. Nowadays, with older bands trying to sound current and falling flat on their faces, it’s good to hear a band coming back and doing what they’re best at. Get out your air guitar and bang your head, Marseille have got unfinished business and, damn it, this is a lot of fun.
NEW YORK DOLLS
DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS
Judge this third album from the rejuvenated 21st century ‘Dolls on its tracklisting, which includes three “baby”s, two servings of “fabulous” and a starter of “streetcake”, and you’d think the clean and consistent band had perfected popping out glam trash to the point of self-parody. Expecting ‘Round And Round She Goes’ grit ’n’ glitter rock however, this would be more accurately judged on the title it shares with a Ginger Rogers biopic. It‘s not that the ‘Dolls have learned any new tricks, rather rendered a rose-tinted, retro-fabulous record by skilling up on some of the oldest in the book. Their latent Shangri-Las love surfaces in swathes of shimmering ’60s harmonies, whilst elsewhere David Johansen reanimates crooner alter-ego Buster Poindexter. With an ironic lack of fast-paced fuel for the dancefloor, it’ll be interesting to see them match this mellow and atmospheric offering to old favourites onstage.
PHIL SCHOENFELT AND SOUTHERN CROSS
Darksider blues rock from Schoenfelt and friends.
Former Khmer Rouge man and Nikki Sudden collaborator, Prague-based Phil Schoenfelt has staked out his territory in the badlands of brooding blues-tinged rock, and this new offering – conceived and recorded in the wake of the ravages of Interferon treatment – is an appropriately dark-hearted affair. As the title would suggest, Schoenfelt’s current material seethes with paranoiac malaise, alleviated by the melancholic atmospherics at work on cuts such as ‘Forgiven’. Schoenfelt’s references are worn on his sleeve here – ‘Bitterman’ or the stunning ‘Bloodshot Eyes’ recall the troubled misanthropy of Nick Cave, while ‘Undertow’ taps into Joy Division’s icy magnificence. Not least, there’s a heartfelt tip of the hat to Iggy And The Stooges whose neglected classic ‘Open Up And Bleed’ is given a masterful working over here. A heartsick concentration of rocking-blues vitriol and regret.
Breaking a five-year hiatus The Posies return with sugar rush rock.
The band name sets the scene: a playground mantra with a black museum back story. The tunes tell the tale: sing-along songs of deep, dark deliciousness that get into your system. Like Jellyfish’s muscular younger brothers, The Posies specialise in constructing perfect pop confections, peaking with ‘She’s Coming Down Again’ tickling your ears with sugary hooks, harmonies and melodies. Whipping along like a Siberian wind, the album gear shifts through fidgety time signatures, layering Teenage Fanclub toplines over Mott The Hoople chants and Wings-style pocket-operatta. Ghostly girly guest vocals bring some silvery shimmer to The Posies’ twilight tones, with heavyweight ledge Sir Hugh Of Cornwall adding his man-in-black snap to ‘Plastic Paperbacks’. Blood/Candy is a song book of shadowy modes and sunshine super pop. Dave Collins
SEETHING IS BELIEVING
What can you really say about Random Hand that hasn’t been said before? ‘Seething Is Believing’, their third full-length, is another solid and brilliant album from the Yorkshire based ska punk outfit. From the first song ‘Tales Of Intervention’ to their final track ‘42 Days Off The Records’, they just play their hearts out, and you can really hear it and appreciate it. I don’t even like ska music, but I just couldn’t help listening to this album over and over again. 2011 should be a big year for Random Hand with this album and going out on tour with friends The King Blues. Make sure you grab this album, as it is one fine piece of work. You’ll be seething that more music isn’t as passionate as this and believing that Random Hand are one of the UK’s finest ska punk acts after hearing this.
IF YOU CAN’T SMOKE ‘EM SELL ‘EM
Accomplished retro rockers take us back with their ‘60s garage sound.
Psychedelia gets a 21st century sonic twist courtesy of the debut album of this seismic Swedish-French outfit. Fronted by the swaggering, sultry Izzy Lindqwister, a female prodigy of
former Johnny Thunders’ guitarist Stevie Klassion, Rodeo Massacre produce corrosive garage blues. Think Fuzztones with a dose of 13th Floor Elevators, with the ghost of Jim Morrisson in the background. Check out the driving ‘Women’, a slice of retro genius with the all the ‘60s-inspired frills and frivolities.
Songs like ‘Zombies Of Life’ and ‘Deadly Bite’ drip with steamy voodoo magic. Zorba, the co-founder of Rodeo Massacre, is also a fully qualified pharmacist which can only be a plus factor when a truly out of body gigging performance is the order of the evening. Psychedelia? They’ve got it bottled.
ROGER MIRET & THE DISASTERS
GOTTA GET UP NOW
(People Like You)
Pounding street punk.
It’s hard to believe that the Agnostic Front singer has been leading The Disasters for more than ten years now, but here we are with the band’s fourth album and it was more than worth the five0year wait. They’ve always been a force to be reckoned with, but the band have never sounded more passionate than they do here. Ultra-precise hardcore drums pound away at a dizzying pace, guitars generate a wall of sound layered with intricate licks, Miret’s formidable vocals are at once powerful and melodic and the backing vocals either soar to the ceiling or pin you to the wall with a footy-terrace roar. Opener ‘Stand Up And Fight’ is a weighty slab of honest street punk, while the title track nicely evokes the Clash, but there’s absolutely no filler here. First rate street punk.
WE ARE THE ROYAL
Gut-busting rock ‘n’ roll from vivacious Swedish four-piece.
They are the Royal: a frantic comet of energetic indie slam-glam rock, and, no doubt about it, they’re gonna shatter this globe. Their eclectic musical tailoring is fabricated with shoes of The Hives, Electric Six’s undercrackers and shrouded in the leather jackets of the New York Dolls. RR’s debut single ‘Tommy Gun’ is a splicing of Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes: chunky space-bass, rousing guitar twangs and drum beats with the power to concuss. Swathed with frontman Adam Grahn’s distinct hollers, the Swedish quartet are a barrel of explosive talent. ‘Full Steam Space Machine’ is jam-packed with thumping electro punk and psychedelic sing-along originality, and with tongue-in-cheek tracks like ‘Underwear’ and ‘Good To Be Bad’, it’s refreshing to see new-fangled rockers who don’t take themselves too seriously.
ONE LESS HEARTLESS TO FEAR
Kentucky post-punk experimentation.
Think post-punk and Louisville and the mighty Slint loom large (in fact, bassist Todd Cook played with the reunited version of that band at ATP). Shipping News have not escaped their influence, but there’s also a distinct nod to the more forceful Chicago sound of Naked Raygun, the Effigies or, more appositely, Songs About-era Big Black (especially closer ‘Do You Remember The Avenues’). It has the same looseness of rhythm and sonic cadence – especially in the Albini-esque vocals – but elsewhere the drawn-out riffs do indeed evoke something of Slint’s mighty ‘Spiderland’. Recorded live – the occasional ripple of applause being the only clue – ‘…Heartless…’ has genuine moments of visceral beauty, as on the instrumental ‘Half House’, on which they completely immerse themselves in a single riff.
THE SHOTGLASS KILLERS
GHOST OF AN EMPTY BOTTLE
Transatlantic scuzzy punk rock fun.
Featuring current and former members of the likes of the Loyalties, Pussy Crush, Sweet Zeros, Gabba and the Classic Ruins, there’s no doubting that the Shotglass Killers have the experience and ability. Throw in a great, raw yet powerful production from the Damned guitar legend Brian James (who also guests on opener ‘He’s Got Style’) and you’ve got an album that draws on the likes of the Ramones, the Rezillos and Johnny Thunders. Gutter pop punk gems like ‘Be Someone’ and ‘Pixie (Rush Hour Go Slow)’ and the garage punk anthem and album highlight ‘Turn Up The Gain’ (on this issue’s free CD) show that, although influenced by the greats, they’re putting their own spin on their female-fronted assault. Raise your shot glasses in the air and slam them, here’s to your new favourite band!
HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES
Mike Ness and co. with another punk ‘n’ roll diamond in the rough.
How many bands do you know that can combine punk, rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly as seamlessly and powerfully as the mighty Social D? Not many, if any. ‘Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes’ isn’t a big change for them by any means and it’s not their best album either (that accolade would still go to their raucous 1983 debut classic ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’ in my opinion), but it does show that they can still produce the good thirty years into their career. From the dusty instrumental opener ‘Road Zombie’ to the Americana meets gospel of ‘California (Hustle And Flow)’ and the countrified punk rock gold of ‘Machine Gun Blues’ and ‘Can’t Take It With You’, Ness is still telling his thrilling tales. Long may he continue.
Hit and miss ninth album from Scottish alt-pop rockers.
Norman Blake and Teenage Fanclub have never tinkered too much with a winning formula, and here, five years on from their last release, they remain homaged to the gills to West Coast pop; to Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, Roger McGuinn and to the original Postcard sound. ‘Shadows’ doesn’t have the ultimate staying power of their epochal ‘Grand Prix’ or ‘Bandwagonesque’ albums, but it does run them close at points. Not least on the album’s bookends. Opener ‘Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything’ has an understated riff that collapses into rhapsodic harmony to thrilling effect, while closer ‘Today Never Ends’ is an instantly agreeable sonic daydream. Not everything within those two staging points is as compulsive, however, and there are times when whimsy threatens to suffocate the compositions.
AT EBBW VALE
Backing the USSR: R‘n’B (Reds and Blues) from Surrey based comrades.
With the Blue Meanies back in power, student riots, twitchy nuclear trigger-fingers (yes, you North Korea) and a right royal knees-up in the middle of debts, doldrums and redundancy – the return of Thee Faction couldn’t be better timed. A swinging Socialist collective from Surrey since 1985, these red beret rockers are back to rabble rouse your mind and agit-prop your pop. ‘At Ebbw Vale’ is the comeback manifesto and by Gorbachov it’s good. Twinning Dr Feelgood rhythms and Eastern Bloc rocking beats on the industrious riffing of ‘Union Man’ and ‘Conservative Friend’ alongside the brothers and sisters party chants of ‘Social Inclusion Thru Marxism’ – it’s the greatest red record since Lenin And McCartney’s ‘Снова в СССР’. The revolution starts here so get onboard and lend your ears to the cause comrades.
The sound of Berlin’s street punk stays the same.
Tower Blocks bring to mind the best German street punk export Oxymoron. Although their songs are not as instantly recognisable, the commitment of Tower Blocks is not to question. The album relies on well-executed raw guitars, raspy vocals and big choruses and it is no surprise that we’re now dealing with the band’s fifth studio album. Songs like ‘Berlin Bombshells’ introduce double bass and uplifting backing vocals, while ‘The Fine Line’ shows that they also got the Anti-Nowhere League in Germany. ‘The Last Punkrock Scandal’, which features Sucker from Oxymoron, sounds like Blocks’ equivalent to the Sex Pistols’ tongue-in-cheek anthem ‘The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle’. There is a slight occasional flirt with metal or rockabilly and a token ballad, but overall the band does not step too far away from the rather rigid street punk/Oi-formula.
Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen
THE TWILIGHT SINGERS
Widescreen dustbowl-blues from the former Afghan Whig.
Following up on 2006’s ‘Powder Burns’, one-time Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli and his current outfit the Twilight Singers resume their exploration of sepia-tinged Americana with ‘Dynamite Steps’, a mini-epic of post-grunge drifter-blues in which Dulli’s well-fitting persona of truckstop lounge-lizard comes into its own. Not that ‘Dynamite Steps’ hits the target
every time; portions of the record are pleasantly tasteful rather than outstanding, but there’s enough of the latter to merit your attention here. Whether adopting the Nick Cave-style of balladry on ‘Last Night In Town’, or unleashing the searing guitar hailstorm of ‘Waves’, when Dulli hits the seam he’s clearly aiming for, the results are worthwhile. Enjoyable flourishes such as the Hendrixy guitar break in ‘On The Corner’ add some unexpected flavour, and the honky stylings of funk-gospel elegy ‘The Beginning Of The End’ are curiously effective.
CLUB DAZE – VOLUME 1 THE STUDIO SESSIONS / YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
7/10 & 7/10
When Twisted Sister couldn’t find themselves a record deal in the early 80’s they decided to go it alone and release recordings themselves. The first of these single recordings were ‘I’ll Never Grow Old Now’ and ‘Under The Blade.’ These two singles are on this reissued album of the live recordings of these songs. It was these songs that pushed Twisted Sister to play over 50 bars with attendance ranging from 800-5000 all without a record deal. This album shows how they managed to do this with their own blend of arena heavy metal that made Twisted Sister a force to be reckoned with. ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is another re-issue, this time of their 1983 second studio album. Filled with arena-filling anthems, it’s hard to argue with.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Original punk heroes return with a spanking new feel.
Why hasn’t Charlie Harper been knighted yet? Irrefutably a prime pioneer of the first wave of punk, the Subs’ new album, ‘Work In Progress’, confirms the rock ‘n’ roll veteran isn’t slowing down anytime soon. ‘WIP’ brings in tides of an oxymoron that works: fresh, old school punk rock. The band, now on letter W in their alphabet of albums and the original Subs vibes stand strong, reminiscent in places of classics like 1980’s ‘Brand New Age’. The album, crashing into life with ‘Creation’, is a cocktail of raw fuck-off riffs, chest-pounding drums and sing-along chanting. ‘This Chaos’, a street punk anthem co-written with Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen, and a Subs-esque take on ‘Strychnine’ by The Sonics, make this album a corker for die-hard Subs disciples and new age rockers alike.
LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH
Friends and admirers of Tim Smith pay their respects to the man behind the Cardiacs.
It has been said that one Cardiacs song contains more ideas than most other musicians’ entire careers. So where do you begin when paying tribute to Tim Smith? How to capture the epic scale of his twisty but perfect tunes, all pulled together with flawless musicianship and punk rock power? On this suitably glittering album, assorted fans – Magic Numbers, Oceansize and others – celebrate Smith’s work and support his continuing treatment for the stroke he suffered in 2008. While some tread a Cardiacs-like path (Ultrasound’s jaw-dropping ‘Big Ship’), those who reimagine Smith’s self-proclaimed “lovely tunes” as orchestral ballads or traditional acoustic romps confirm most effectively that this is a man who just wants to share his world of wonder.
Cranked up punk ‘n’ roll from Oxford’s finest.
I first encountered Winnebago Deal back in 2002 when I booked them to support Jesse James in Bath on the strength of a raw but impressive demo. Having blown the roof off the building and the headliners off the stage, they remain to this day one of the loudest bands I have ever seen. Eight years on and they’re still dong the business. ‘Career Suicide’ is their third full-length and they’ve not messed with their tried and tested Black Flag meets Black Sabbath formula except to vary the pace and add a little more melody. From the opening sucker punch of ‘Heart Attack In My Head’ through a blistering ‘Ain’t No Salvation’ to ‘Can’t See, Don’t Care, Don’t Know’, it’s just blistering rock ‘n’ roll with no filler.
RED BARKED TREE
Atmospheric new offering from the giants of art punk.
Currently operating as a slimmed-down trio comprising long-term members Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey, Wire’s long and rich musical odyssey continues with this latest outing, a beguiling delve through their unique artistic vision. Never a group to settle for handed-down rock clichés, Wire’s questing nature continues to bare fruit, and while ‘Red Barked Tree’ remains identifiably Wire throughout – ‘Clay’, for instance, wouldn’t sound out of place on any of their earlier albums – the material here pushes in diverse directions. There’s the stop-start rhythmic jolts of ‘Now Was’, the understated atmospherics of ‘Please Take’, the metronomic two-chord mantra of ‘Two Minutes’, the Stooge-esque kinetics of ‘Smash’, and the lush dream-pop landscapes of ‘Adapt’. As intriguing and enigmatic as ever, Wire’s meshing of
pop, noise and art is an ongoing inspiration.
Cheap and dirty gothabilly from South London grease quartet.
Though their voodoo rock ‘n’ rollin’ rhythms may not have yet penetrated all four corners of the country, the Witchdoktors have been mainstays of the London underground scene for close to a decade and ‘$3 Hooker’ marks their newest in a long line of bone-shaking releases. Steady paced and merging ’60s garage sounds and surf with the standard revved up rockabilly, the album arguably lacks the speed of your average wrecking release, but its spooky ambiance will have you spellbound in seconds. Prime listening for fans of the likes of Vince Ray or even The Fleshtones, the Witchdoktors are trashy, twiddly and a little bit terrifying. Get listening to this hypnotic graveyard boogie because the Witchdoktords like ’em cheap and undead.