OCTOBER REVIEWS (29 inside)
Members of Stockyard Stoics, Filaments, Suicide Bid and MDC kill it with acoustic political punk.
Written without drummers in their living rooms and with a sound that has nods to a range of artists such as Billy Bragg (on ‘The Ballad of Ronald Timbers’ and ‘Stories of Old’), The Clash, Against Me! (on ‘Ronnie Goes to Heaven’) and Stiff Little Fingers, ‘Murderers’ has a pretty special collective punk feel. Political and passionate, there are songs about police murder and organisation against the BNP, not to mention a dialogue between the devil and former US president Ronald Reagan on his decent to hell! This isn’t groundbreaking but its fun sing along stuff, with guest appearances from members of The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society and Morning Glory. Raise your voice.
EXTRA SEXUAL PERCEPTION
(People Like You)
Washington DC rockers call it quits in style.
After a long, productive partnership that produced some corking albums, Adam West have decided to throw in the towel after their forthcoming autumn tour of Europe. If you’ve never heard of them before now, the question, ‘where the hell have you been all this time?’ springs to mind. For the rest of us who’ve had the pleasure of listening to their particular brand of kick arse rock ‘n’ roll (think the Stooges, Motorhead, AC/DC and MC5) for the last decade or so, this is a bit of a bittersweet farewell. At least they’re going out in style and can look back on their back catalogue with pride.
SONGS OF PRAISE (25TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION)
(People Like You)
‘80s UK punks’ debut album – 25th anniversary posh version.
Ipswich Droog-types The Adicts hold the distinction of being the oldest existing punk band that still boast their original line-up and, as their debut EP came out in 1979, that’s not to be sniffed at. ‘Songs Of Praise’ had two releases, first on Fall Out in 1981, then Razor in 1982, when it hit no.2 on the old Indie Chart. Not quite sure how that makes it the 25th anniversary. Here you get the original album, plus unnecessary re-recordings of the same songs. Still, the newies boast better production and the classics like ‘Viva La Revolution’ and ‘England’ are still great.
Unpretentious neo-rockabilly from former Restless sticksman.
Ben Cooper is best known as the drummer and founder member of premier British rockabilly legends Restless prior to going solo in 2006. Being a bit of a multi-instrumentalist and a dab-hand behind a studio mixing desk to boot, this album is in every sense of the word a one man show. It comes as no surprise to find him sticking mainly to the neo-rockabilly blueprint of his previous band on foot tappers like ‘Ready to Go’ and ‘Like an H-Bomb’, with the occasional foray into country (‘The Crossroads’) and blues (‘Celestine’). I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. Good rockin’ stuff indeed.
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW
Ghoulish punk rock from Phoenix, Arizona.
Claiming to be “the world’s greatest horror rock band” may be a little over-ambitious but Jimmy, Bobby and Davey Calabrese are certainly an (undead) force to be reckoned with. Combining the sounds of legends such as The Misfits, The Damned and early AFI, with the old horror film quotes between songs that Rob Zombie loves so much, this is nothing new but tunes such as ‘Your Ghost’ and ‘Voices Of The Dead’ will probably have you dancing on your grave. The harmonies and backing vocals make Calabrese a cut above most of their monstrous rivals. This follow-up to their debut ’13 Halloweens’ will lurch its way onto your stereo with an anthemic collection of graveyard stomps.
THE MOD SINGLES COLLECTION
Underrated second wave of Mod classic.
Riding in on their brand new scooters, The Chords took to the mod revival of 1979 with a handful of chart singles and their combination of punk energy and power pop tunes. As usual, Captain (Oi!) Mod have done a great job in putting together this 20 track compilation with the usual comprehensive sleeve notes, extra tracks and unreleased singles. It was a fine line between the punk rock of 1979 and the Mods Mayday youth anthems the Chords were writing, and they were even contracted to Sham 69’s Jimmy Purseys’ JP records briefly. But it was on Polydor that they hit the charts with their powerful ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ single, probably their finest moment. Their debut album also charted but it was a brief ride for the Chords and the rising tide of Two Tone and New Romantics all but killed off the Chords and the New Mod Movement. Feisty and anthemic, the chords deserve their moment in history.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
(People Like You)
Sarah Sin’s Canadian punk psycho combo rock the joint.
The Creepshow’s long awaited follow-up to ‘Sell Your Soul’ does not disappoint, with pummelling double bass and drums ensuring that the ten tracks stomp along so much so that when you get to the murder ballads your foot’s still bouncing anyway. Sarah Sin’s vocals are powerful, and complimented by liberal use of keyboards and some hearty choruses, which give the whole album a very full and polished sound that does not undermine any of its pure rocking energy in any negative way. This lot get on prime-time TV back home and you can hear why.
Good, just not as good as…
The Datsuns have the classic problem of struggling to better a brilliant debut. The self-titled first album was brim-full of wailing rock and memorable tunes. Their second and third albums failed to excite. Now they’re back with self-produced fourth album ‘Head Stunts’ (an anagram if you hadn’t worked it out). It’s a return to form of sorts, if only my expectations weren’t still so high. There is nothing here to rival ‘Sitting Pretty’ or ‘Harmonic Generator’ but it’s their most promising release in years. Though it’s not the all-out craziness of their debut, you can’t help but get carried along with their brand of retro rock.
SELLING OUR WEAKNESSES
(People Like You)
Boston punks unveil varied debut full-length.
Vocalist Stephanie Dougherty has toured with the Dropkick Murphys since 2002 and Deadly Sins also include former members of Reach the Sky and Crash and Burn in their ranks. This experience has resulted in a well-rounded and enjoyable debut from their new band. The biting, dark punk rock of opener ‘Grey Skies Turn’ is followed by the energetic and anthemic punk ‘n’ roll of ‘Barely Breathing’ and ‘Riot’ firing out ass kicking, raw rock ‘n’ roll, its obvious that these guys are very talented and can turn their hand to a wide range of styles, while still sounding cohesive. There’s not a dud track on the whole 12-song record, so I’m still to find these weaknesses they’re selling.
DUFF MCKAGAN’S LOADED
WASTED HEART EP
Former Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist steps back up to the microphone.
Given that Velvet Revolver have yet to find a replacement for erstwhile frontman Scott Weiland, you can’t blame bassist Duff McKagan for getting tired of waiting around and decided to revive his old side project. This is their first release since 2001’s ‘Dark Days’ album – a 5-track EP, featuring some dark, punked-up riff action in ‘Sleaze Factory’, the surprisingly melodic ‘IOU’ and an enjoyably stripped-down acoustic lament in the title track. It’s not the best thing Duff has put his name to, but it’s far more convincing than Velvet Revolver’s last album, and – if nothing else – proves that the rock ‘n’ roll flame still burns brightly within his tattooed soul.
Batz out of hell!
Back to the mid-‘80s for this favourite re-release from psychobilly pioneers The Guana Batz: Anagram/Cherry Red Records ensures none of us forget where it all began. Originally reaching number 2 in the UK Indie charts, ‘Loan Sharks’ sees the band trying their hand at a slurry of rock ‘n’ roll classics, including Chuck Berry’s ‘No Particular Place to Go’, Chan Romero’s ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ and Costello’s ‘Radio Sweetheart’. plus six of their own hectic gems. With a possible new album on the horizon and the band still hard at work both sides of the pond, now’s the time to loosen the straight jacket.
THE ART OF SAYING NOTHING
Solid gold straight off the ska-rap heap.
Famed for their guerilla gigs, DIY videos and high-octane live shows, this band’s reputation is one that’s hard to match, and all without releasing a full-length debut! Taking up where bands like Sublime started, and others like Adequate 7 on Sonic Boom Six carried on, this North London ten-piece collective intertwine punk rock riffs and bratty horn-based ska with fast flowing hip-hop-laced lyrics, culminating in an electrified sound that forces you onto your feet. An impressive mix of styles from the skankariffic ‘Sombrero’, head bobbing singles ‘Great British Summertime’ and ‘The Landlord’s Daughter’ all deliver with subject matter that’ll have you pissing your pants with laugher. Frickin’ awesome!
THE PEEL SESSIONS 1979-1981
Early Joke’s raw energy captured by the Beeb.
Neatly timed to lock in with the original Killing Joke lineup’s first full reunion since 1982, these four John Peel sessions (bulked up with a Richard Skinner show recording from the same period) are the best precis of the power of early period Joke you could hope for. Youth’s clanking dub-funk bass, Paul Ferguson’s post-industrial Burundi-beat drums, Geordie Walker’s martial guitar tones and the eerie vocals and seething synth of Jaz Coleman, all in their creative first flush from the Joke’s all-important first three albums. From 1979’s out-of-the-garage renditions of ‘Psycche’ and ‘Wardance’ to the ominous power-surge of ‘The Hum’ and ‘Empire Song’, this is unpolished post-punk perfection.
I THINK MY OLDER BROTHER USED TO LISTEN TO LAGWAGON
Slight return from the ‘wagon.
The guys in Lagwagon have always had a sense of humour. With this new, tongue-in-cheek titled 7-track EP singer Joey Cape has explained that “it’s gonna change the world”. However, while the band’s songwriting has matured a little over the years, there’s nothing new here. Opener ‘B side’ and ‘Errands’ displays the kind of skate punk that made the first band to sign to Fat Wreck Chords so loved in the ‘90s, but there’s nothing here to rival ‘Trashed’. Tracks such as ‘No Little Pill’ and ‘Live It Down’ plod along and lack the vocal urgency and speed that made them so exhilarating in their early days. Here’s hoping they rediscover skate punk and play to their strengths again.
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS
Experimental and hallucinatory new outing from the Dots.
Legendary Pink Dots appear to have hovered around music‘s outer reaches since the early 1980s. This latest recording sees Edward Ka-Spel and crew continuing their sonic explorations, somewhere between the childlike surreality of vintage psych-folk and the hypnotic pulsations of Phillip Glass. The results are at points claustrophobically threatening, as with Torchsong‘s currents of bottled-up paranoia, pleasingly whimsical on tracks such as My First Zonee, or hauntingly mesmeric as Rainbows Too or the Spookily skewed carousel of Faded Photography both attest. If Plutonium Blonde’s out-there meanderings might test the casual listener’s attention in places, this album has moments of beguiling eccentricity which more than compensate.
THE LEGENDARY RAW DEAL
P Paul Fenech’s 1997 rockabilly project re-issued.
I’ve only given this a three but if you don’t have it don’t let that put you off. It’s great rockabilly, but it’s PPF so it’s not all about boppin’ all night. It’s pretty hardcore stuff with a simple but very effective bass sound and, of course, great guitar. There are a mixture of Fenech originals and some classic (but obscure) rockabilly covers. Johnny Cash’s ‘Jackson’ even gets the treatment in duet. This re-issue has the original cover, which features blank-eyed bullet-ridden corpses. A nice touch I thought for what is an excellent and worthy re-issue.
LIGHTNING BEAT-MAN AND HIS NO TALENT
WRESTLING ROCK N ROLL
The no hit wonder’s classic trash album back to fuck you up.
This is pure trash so badly recorded (on a four-track) and wild it’s the sound the genre is all about. When this record came out in 1995 the psychobillies hated it so much that they used to wait for poor old Beat-Man after gigs to give him a kicking, so there’s the perfect reason to buy it. It’s the original 16-tracks plus three bonus tracks. But the real killer on here is ‘I Wanna Be Your Pussycat’. “Brain fuckin’ rock ‘n’ roll for bad tasters and adults only” is what it says on the cover, you’d better believe it. Classic!
THE LONDON COWBOYS
Mixed twin CD bag from post-NY Dolls sleaze punk spin-offs.
There’s no denying Johnny Thunders’ influence on the class of ‘77, but not everyone could run with that baton as far The Clash or the Pistols. Similarly enthralled with Johnny’s vagabond stance, Steve Dior and Barry Jones fell into Thunders’ orbit in 1976, and from the ashes of The Idols, formed with JT’s former cohorts Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan, London Cowboys were born. Disc one offers up some acceptable early-‘80s sleaze punk. It’s decent enough in a ‘Friday night down the Clarendon’ fashion. Disc two meanwhile documents the band’s unsuccessful remould in a late-‘80s LA sleaze metal vein, and is considerably less engaging. Overall, this is one for Dolls completists only.
BERLIN: LIVE AT ST. ANN’S WAREHOUSE
The ghosts of Berlin still haunt.
Before recording his tai chi meditations Reed found time to stage 1973’s controversial follow up to his biggest album Transformer. Berlin was a critical disaster upon release – just too dark and disturbing to follow the Bowie reeking pop of Transformer. Now the tables have turned and it is rightly viewed as Reed’s sinister masterpiece. This live reincarnation is stunning – the sound roars out of the speakers – and the songs are hauntingly resurrected. Sometimes it can sound too revitalised, lacking the dismal murky atmosphere of the album’s original production. But the crying children still haunt and the blunt street lyrics still make you despair. Still as dark, uncompromising and challenging as ever.
MATT BOROFF & THE MIRRORS
Surf rock twang with surreal undertones.
A three-piece based around Matt Boroff’s surrealistic songwriting and hyperactive tremolo-arm, Matt and his Mirrors’ third album comes on like a skewed re-work of the ‘Pulp Fiction’ soundtrack. The retro-tone aural flavors take on an alternate narrative thanks to Boroff’s otherworldly way with a song. Cuts like ‘Zombie Machine’ and ‘Like A Train’ filter early sixties twang through psychedelia’s prism, whilst ‘Red’ boasts the kind of psychotic wasp-in-a-jam-jar guitar action you tend to have to go way underground to find these days. A ‘Link Wray through the looking glass’ kind of trip, ‘Elevator Ride’ pushes timeless sounds through some unusual contortions.
THE PLACE TO BLEED
Walk Among Us!
Probably the strongest horror punk outfit in Europe, fiends and freaks raise your stumps in the air for this bloodcurdling third release from Germany’s answer to Armageddon: The Other. Following 2006’s ‘We Are Who We Eat’, this offering features a coffin-load of Misfits-esque tracks that’ll have you hounding for human flesh, including the foreboding ‘Black Angel’, metal-tinged ‘Bleed’ and the death rock hymns ‘Murder in the House of Wax’, ‘Become Undead’ and ‘The Creature From The Black Lagoon’; all introduced by a creepy piano tinkling sideshow opener. With subject matter ranging from Edgar Allen Poe to the legendary Gill-Man, devilocks will be flapping worldwide.
(Blast First Petite)
Box set of smeary historical gold from the NYC electro-punkers.
This thirteen-gig live document, crudely recorded 30 years ago, is too much to chew on for non-devotees. Suicide’s work, even as punk rock was upturning the world order, was so unacceptable that many gigs met with outright riots. If you love Suicide’s self-titled 1978 album and are willing to dig further, this limited edition set is a gift, a grimy ground-level punters-eye view of revolution unfolding. With the sinister tick of Rev’s pawn shop electronics pulsing beneath the crooning and shrieking of Vega’s subterranean Elvis. Suicide’s paranoiac urban vistas repeatedly play out over this series of gigs across the US and europe, too real for comfort even after all these years.
TEENAGE JESUS & THE JERKS/BEIRUT SLUMP
SHUT UP & BLEED
Arty early NY punk.
In 1976 prime nutcase Lydia Lunch formed Teenage Jesus & The Jerks in New York, and thought “the point of using music was to merely exaggerate the bitter words and bilious intentions which were burning holes inside my head”. With that attitude, and initial collaborators James Chance, Bradley Field and bassist Reck, Lunch made quite an impression on the NY scene, but didn’t hit vinyl until the single ‘Orphans’, produced by Voidoid Robert Quinn, appeared in 1978. These 29 tracks cherry-pick the best of The Jerks’ discordant, confrontational, but often exhilarating output, along with La Lunch’s decidedly weird 1979 project Beirut Slump, which lasted for just three live shows and the ‘Try Me’ single.
TOO MUCH AIN’T ENOUGH
The sound of a great punk rock night out.
Ten tracks of near perfect punk ‘n’ roll. The opening track is probably the weakest but that’s when you are opening your beer anyway. Songs about Hackney nightlife, sex, drugs and all the rest of it blast from the speakers. It’s all a little rough around the edges but is all the better for it. Shout-along vocals that are weirdly endearing in a loud but laid back way, basic guitar, bass and drums put together in the way that is probably way cooler than Trashcat would ever want to be. I played ‘Dirtbird Paradise’ over and over again when I first got this. It’s genius and so bloody catchy it should be class A.
WESTERN STAR ROCKABILLIES – VOLUME 3
Another fine rockabilly sampler from Western Star.
Twenty fine rockabilly tracks from a whole host of Western Star’s roster of bass slapping, guitar twanging bands. There isn’t a duff track on this album that leans more towards an authentic sound, rather than turning up like most psychobilly comps. That’s not to say that a lot of this stuff is not wild. Jack Rabbit Slim and Bill Fadden probably top the bill on here but it is hard to find a stand out. This is the ideal opportunity to get a listen to some of the best modern rockabilly out there at the moment. Recommended.
GUITAR GANGSTERS & CADILLAC BLOOD
Rock ‘n’ roll meets metal…
Claiming to “make metal that even your mom would like”, this four-piece from Copenhagen, Denmark sound like the resulting bastard child after a night of passion between Johnny Cash and all four members of Metallica. Volbeat’s third release boasts a generous, if not a little over adventurous, 14 tracks and with musical nods to the Misfits, Elvis Presley and Iron Maiden, this album is quite the mixed bag of tricks. Be warned, it does get a little monotonous towards the end, but quirky tracks like ‘Maybellene I Hofteholder’ (on this month’s covermount CD!), are definitely worth checking out.
STOP US IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE (VOLUME 1)
Ginger and his cohorts have some fun.
This is The Wildhearts doing 15 cover versions and, as it’s Volume 1, it’s safe to suppose that they didn’t stop there. Fans of the band will want this because it’s them all over. They do a weird and wonderful collection of other people’s songs in their own inimitable style. Each band member has a go at vocals at least once. There are songs borrowed from everyone from The Distillers to Regurgitator, blasted out in the proper manner. This is more than enough to keep you interested until Volume 2 rears its head. An interesting and worthy release.
MODERNITY KILLED EVERY NIGHT
Ex-Adam and the Ants make album of the year?
Former Adam and the Ants men Marco Pirroni and Chris Constantinou certainly have a good pedigree between them. Infact, as well as playing in an early incarnation of Siouxsie and the Banshees with Sid Vicious, Marco went on to write 6 number one singles and 13 other top 20 hits with Adam Ant. His new project The Wolfmen, pulls together everything that was great about British music in the ‘70s and ‘80s and turns it into the glorious sound that is The Wolfmen. So, with the sounds of glam rock mixing with ‘Lust For Life’ era Iggy Pop and David Bowie, and Roxy Music shining through on ‘If You Talk Like That’, The Wolfmen have made one of the freshest sounding albums of the year. Single ‘Cecilie’ is just about as addictive as a song can get and the whole album has an elegance and charm that’s missing in so many of todays records. While young pretenders like Panic At The Disco fail miserably reaching for the stars, The Wolfmen effortlessly float into orbit. Get bitten!
WRECKLESS ERIC AND AMY RIGBY
WRECKLESS ERIC AND AMY RIGBY
Eric collaborates with his better half for a reconciliation with Stiff.
Paired off with ex-Shams Ms Rigby and reunited with his original label, the reconstituted Stiff Records, the veteran pub-rock maverick may sound a little more careworn than the fresh-faced scamp who brought us ‘Big Smash’ and the rest, but Eric can still do a lot with two chords. ‘Here Comes My Ship’ opens the album with a languid Lou Reed-y lilt, and Rigby’s input adds more songwriters’ craft to the sound, athough a DIY ethic is still in evidence. There’s a tangible bounce of ideas between the two collaborators, resulting in an intimate album with a home-cooked kind of feel.