RECORD REVIEWS, JANUARY-JUNE 2018
ANTI-CIMEX. Victims of a Bomb Raid CD (Dissonance) Anti Cimex originally formed in 1981 and were, without doubt, one of the bands who defined Swedish hardcore. Taking their initial inspiration from the early Discharge EP’s (they recorded and released their first EP, the much-revered ‘Anarkist Attack’, even before Discharge released the ‘Hear Nothing’ LP) they took the intensity of what would eventually become known as ‘D-beat’ but gradually adapted it to create their own character. The first record was sung entirely in Swedish, but by the time of their second EP, ‘Raped Ass’, they had switched to English lyrics, which made them accessible to a much wider audience (even if their records were still difficult to track down.) By the time they released ‘Victims of a Bomb Raid’, they had perfected their sonic onslaught, keeping the lyrics to an almost haiku-style, stark-minimum, creating poignant images rather than preaching opinions. Musically, the sound was almost relentless, but in the short, brutal bursts that the limitations of 7” records allowed-for, they were perfect. A genuine kick in the eye before it was gone. In 1986, they released a self-titled mini-album (aka, ‘Criminal Trap’) on the UK label Distraught, which finally saw their music being made much more easily available, but then, typically, the original line-up decided to split. The record itself had a much stronger production than the earlier EP’s and, whilst maintaining the same intensity, also allowed space for better arrangements and the introduction of different sounds, including metal percussion. Similarly, the lyrics were more extended although still as direct as always. They surfaced again, albeit with a new guitarist, in 1990 and released the album ‘Absolut Country of Sweden’. This continued-on from the previous records with perhaps a more mainstream production and a few more metallic licks, but more in the style of Poison Idea or Antisect rather than any kind of dodgy crossover cop-out. They released a raw live album and separate live EP before recording their final album, ‘Scandinavian Jawbreaker’ in 1993, which, if anything, had an even more aggressive sound than its’ predecessor. This remains their final statement as, shortly after its’ release, they split for a second and final time, although members would go on to form bands such as Driller Killer and Wolfpack. That being said, their records have remained highly sought-after and their influence continues to be seen around the world,so it’s very timely that this three CD set has been released to gather all of their original (studio) releases together. CD One includes the first four EP’s, while CD Two and Three feature the albums. Although the record collectors / trainspotters will probably be most interested in the early recordings, there really isn’t a bad track on this whole collection. Anti Cimex never turned their backs on their original sound or intent and continued to make great records every time. With all of the recordings remastered and sounding better than ever, this is a truly vital release that remains as poignant now as it always did. My only gripe is that, although an extensive lyric-booklet is included, I would have liked more info about the bands themselves. But that’s just me. The music really speaks for itself and at the end of the day, that’s the important thing. If you can enjoy or appreciate genuinely passionate, extreme music, you really have to hear this CD set !
THE BONNEVILLES. Dirty Photographs CD (Alive) A two-piece Hard Rock’n’Blues combo hailing from Northern Ireland but with one of those sounds that really could have come from either side of the Atlantic. Despite being limited to just drums and guitar (with occasional keyboard and cello contributions) they nonetheless create a huge sound that harks back to the likes of Led Zeppelin or Cream, while in their livelier moments recalling the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The whole recording has a real warmth to its’ sound, allowing you to relish every smash of the cymbals and every shudder of reverb. It’s amazing that a band can take such an established musical style and breathe such new life into it. For full effect, I guess you’d probably have to see them playing live, so it’s convenient that they have a full UK tour in the not-too-distant future (check the details on the FNL home-page…) This is a great album and certainly deserves to be heard far and wide.
THE CITY LIMITS. To Hull And Back LP (Queen Mum Records) The City Limits were a New Wave / Powerpop band who formed in Leeds during 1977, playing regularly around the North of England and self-releasing their one and only single, ‘Morse Code Messages’ in 1979. Although it became a favourite on John Peel’s radio show, it sold poorly at the time and, as a result, a proposed second release (‘Dancing in the Heat’) was shelved and the band eventually called it a day in 1982. The irony is that, over the next thirty years, the single which had failed to sell-out of its’ original pressing of 500, became a highly-regarded collectors item, selling for high amounts of money. However, this had one great result for the band themselves, in that they were approached to release all of their original studio recordings as this album. Compiled with great attention to sound-quality and with comprehensive sleeve-notes and rare pictures, this really does hold the band up in a good light with their songs still sounding fresh and enjoyable. Musically, you could probably compare them to other similar bands of the time (Scandal, Longport Buzz, The Jags) in the way they adopted the energy that was sparked by Punk but attached it to a much-more Pop-orientated approach. The songs are catchy, danceable and lots of fun, while the vocals have an occasional tendency to recall Elvis Costello. When you consider that songs as good as this could just as easily have been lost altogether, you can only be thankful that labels like Queen Mum are out there to save the recordings for prosperity.
COMMANDER CODY & HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN. Berkeley, Baby ! CD (Wienerworld) I became interested in Commander Cody a few years ago when I discovered that the Stooges’ sax-player Steve Mackay had played with them during the mid-Seventies. Unfortunately, this live recording doesn’t feature his involvement, but it does provide an excellent recording of the band at their best. Mixing Country music, Swing and Fifties rock’n’roll in a raw, upbeat fashion, the band also incorporated an anarchic sense of humour to their delivery with songs like ‘Truckin’ and Fuckin’’, ‘Seeds and Stems’ and ‘Roll Your Own’. Although the subject may seem rather tame by current standards, you have to realise that they were playing in a much more conservative environment and, having signed with Warner Brothers, were also being pressured to provide radio-friendly material. The fact that they didn’t has maintained their cult-status but denied them wider success. Imagine if Frank Zappa had formed a bar-band. This is possibly how it would have sounded. Listen to it just for fun and there’s plenty to enjoy.
COVENTRY AUTOMATICS (aka The Specials.) Dawning of a New Era CD (Waxy Monkey) I expect most fans will already know that The Specials had originally been known as The Coventry Automatics (not the be confused with early punk band of the same name.) In this form, during 1978, the band recorded an albums’ worth of demos and initially sent them out to various labels in a bid to win a record deal. Although most of the songs featured on the tape would eventually become hugely successful as part of The Specials debut album, no offers were forthcoming and the band regrouped under their new name with a new drummer and the addition of Neville Staples as second vocalist. We all know what happened soon after this… These recordings have been released a few times over the years but haven’t been available for some time, so this reissue will no doubt be welcomed by more recent fans. Of the twelve songs included, eight would eventually be re-recorded for the debut album, while the track ‘Racquel’ appeared on a rare Dutch-only release and ‘Rock’n’Roll Nightmare’ would be re-worked as ‘Pearl’s Café’ on the bands’ second album. There are also several tracks unavailable elsewhere, including the instrumental ‘Wake Up’ and the excellent ‘Jay Walker’. The production sound is a lot less full than their future recordings, but the songs certainly have the same energy and sense of purpose that the band would eventually become famous for. The arrangements are already much in place and although at times the keyboards veer towards an almost Madness-style funfair sound, it’s still easily identifiable. If you’re a Two Tone fan and haven’t already heard these recordings, you need to make this a priority-purchase.
THE DAMNED. Evil Spirits LP (Search & Destroy) I think this album is going to take a lot of people by surprise. Even having heard a few tracks in advance, this certainly isn’t what many would expect, but be patient with it. After only a few listens you’ll become familiar with the new songs and start to love it. Everyone I know who has heard it so far has said the same thing ; it’s an album that really grows on you and I think it’s going to stand the test of time. Musically, it’s difficult to compare to previous albums, but if you could imagine that, after ‘Strawberries’, neither Captain or Paul had left the band so they moved in the direction of ‘Phantasmagoria’ with a more psychedelic approach rather than the Goth tinges that it embraced. Furthermore, ‘Evil Spirits’ has a really warm, vibrant production (courtesy of Tony Visconti) instead of the horrible, pompous Eighties-style production that ‘Phantasmagoria’ was stuck-with. ‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’ starts the album with a strangely optimistic tone. It mixes an almost epic, soundtrack-like quality with insistent melodies that really draw you in. Hot on its’ heels is ‘The Devil in Disguise’, an upbeat garage-rocker that recalls the Phantom Chords in many ways. Vanians’ vocals are perfectly-matched for this song and I’m sure it’s destined to become a live favourite. ‘We’re So Nice’ is the first of Captains’ songs on the record and recalls the kind of psychedelic pop that he played on solo albums like ‘Revolution Now’ and ‘The Universe of Geoffrey Brown’. Very catchy, but, lyrically, also making a strong anti-imperialist statement. ‘Look Left’ is probably the most downbeat track on the LP, but it also gives Vanian a chance to really show-off his vocal range, while Paul Grey’s bass playing is superb. The title track evokes the kind of music the band played as their alter-egos, Naz Nomad & the Nightmares. Think of the Stones during their psychedelic phase, perhaps ? Definitely one of the highpoints of the whole album. ‘Shadow Evocation’ is a quintessential Vanian epic, gothic (rather than Goth) moody and atmospheric, while ‘Sonar Deceit’ is another garage-psych ditty from Sensible, discussing the plight of sea-life being bombarded by man-made sonar noise. Quite a turn-up from a man who used to sport a ‘Sod The Whale’ slogan ! ‘Procrastination’ is apparently one of Monty’s songs and could well be his best to date. Fuelled by Pauls’ bass-lines and Sixties-style Farfisa keyboards, the lyrics are witty, humourous and all-too-easy to identify with ! ‘Daily Liar’ combines Syd-era Pink Floyd with The Kinks to create a classic pop tune, over which Vanian sings his diatribe against deceitful media practices. The album comes to an end with ‘I Don’t Care’. It sounds like a title for a punk anthem, but instead starts out with Vanian crooning along to piano and strings, before bursting into life and then finally ending in a suitably melodramatic flourish. I must admit, when I first heard the album, I was not instantly impressed, but tunes quickly started sticking in my ears and the more I listened, the more I enjoyed the whole thing. I expect that there will be a contingent who will listen once, decide they don’t like it and resort to uninformed whingeing, but don’t make that mistake. Take your time and let yourself really discover this album. After 40 years, The Damned still have the ability to confound expectations. Gawd bless ‘em !
DAVE GODDESS GROUP. Last of the West Side Cowboys CD ( www.davegoddessgroup.com ) I wasn’t sure what to expect from this CD, but after several listens I found it more and more impressive. It’s that kind of soulful, Bluesy rock’n’roll that could only have come from New York City. Accomplished musicians for sure, but the important thing is that they’re clearly passionate about what they’re doing. For comparisons, I’d include the likes of Little Steven, Mink DeVille, possibly Jesse Malin, and even the dark country tones of Thin White Rope. They also channel the spirits of both John Lennon and Joe Strummer during the song ‘Roll Over’, questioning the way that optimism seems to have been replaced by resignation and acceptance, even as events in the world get progressively worse. It’s political but on a personal, observational level and works really well. Elsewhere, the title track raises the issue of workers becoming redundant as business and technology moves on. The lyrics have a real empathy and come across sincerely, something that is so often missing in modern music. With plenty of great melodies and hooks, I’m sure this album could appeal to music fans right across the spectrum.
DEAF KIDS. Configuracao do Lamento CD (Neurot) Sao Paolo-based band creating huge, diverse blocks of noise. Evidently, in their earlier years, they were more of a straight-ahead hardcore band, but by this point they’ve evolved into something completely separate. Whilst the intensity and noise levels are still clearly there, the tracks have left behind any traditional sense of song-format and become individual slabs of sound, propelled by almost industrial-style rhythmic grooves, while the guitars and vocals create disturbing, acidic sounds and visions. In many ways, this is a perfect progression from intense hardcore, breaking down the rules set by its’ own genre to explore the next step forward. The music becomes an almost formless dirge that seeks to escape the usual confines of time and timings. It’s psychedelic in it’s purest form and, like a cross between Faust and Siege, deliberately contrives collision to create a natural conclusion. The results are less than 25 minutes long, but by the end, you’ll have lost track of everything. Seek this out at your peril, but be prepared for a blast !
DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA. So Far So Good So Cool CD (Jansen) Following hot on the heels of their fine ‘Into The Night’ 7” (see above) comes an equally enjoyable album. Similar to fellow Norwegians’ Turbonegro, Death By Unga Bunga channel choice moments from rock’n’roll’s illustrious history to create something new, invigorating and highly entertaining. Death By Unga Bunga go more for a powerpop sound rather than hard rock, but many of the prime influences collide ; Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy and Ramones, for sure. But you can also throw the likes of Redd Kross, the Flamin’ Groovies and maybe even The Dictators to get where they differ. After that, there are plenty of other riffs and licks that’ll keep you guessing, but that’s the beauty of this album. It recalls many great moments from the past while defiantly taking it all forward and, again in a similar way to Turbonegro, it’s got a good sense of humour with it. They’re obviously serious about playing their music but it’s clearly intended to be fun. Given the right breaks and exposure, these guys could become very popular. It’s the perfect soundtrack for drinking beers on a hot Summer evening. Be sure not to miss it.
FINDING JOSEPH I – The HR from Bad Brains Documentary. DVD (MVD) Few would deny the incredible impact that Bad Brains had on the Punk / Hardcore scene. The records they released during their first ten years are all classics, their live performances during this time are the stuff of legends and if fate had been on their side, they should have become massive. However, their course was destined to be erratic and much of this was down to their unpredictable frontman, Paul ‘HR’ Hudson. His volatile nature caused the band to split on numerous occasions, often when they were on the verge of greater success. Those who saw the previous Bad Brains documentary, ‘A Band in DC’, will have seen his eccentric behaviour during a recent tour and were probably left with the impression that he had mental health issues. Unfortunately, the film ended with no conclusions to the issue, but ‘Finding Joseph I’ is far more satisfactory on this point. Focusing on HR himself rather than the whole band, this documentary tells the story of his upbringing, how he became involved in music, his Rastafari faith and his gradual descent into mental health problems. It’s this final subject that explains many of his actions, such as the way he fervently embraced Punk Rock, only to replace it several years later with an equally fervent adoption of Rasta and reggae. As is the case with many artists, the passion and mania that fuelled his creativity was also the emotional force that would seemingly sabotage the band. But while some would use this kind of situation to make a lurid, sensationalist film, ‘Finding Joseph I’ deals with the details in a compassionate, sympathetic way, explaining that HR often had no control over his actions. Although friends and band-members tried to help, it would not be until much later-on that he came to recognize the problems that he faced and sought medical treatment to rectify the situation. The film ends on a much more positive note, with HR clearly more capable and settled. For all that he has created, and despite all his past-errors, this is surely what he deserves. Combined with some superb music, rare footage and interviews with many of his old friends and associates, this makes for a great film which never hides the truth but still manages to end with a respectful conclusion. This is something that you need to see if you really want to know the full story.
JOE GERMLIN. No Master Dynamics 12” EP (Adaadat) Described as a ‘sound artist’, that’s exactly how Glaswegian composer Joe Howe approaches his music. It’s an almost collage-like style, breaking Hip-Hop beats down to bare minimum while cutting-in and out with samples and found sounds. Although being listed as an EP, this record plays at 33rpm and includes 11 tracks, allowing plenty of space for the ideas and sounds to develop. Side Two is possibly the more interesting, taking things further away from regular dance music and delving into areas that are simultaneously darker and yet more playful. It’s very frenetic but at the same time, there’s always a discernable aim to the proceedings. Only two tracks feature regular vocals, although even these (courtesy of Kiki Hitomi and Hardeep, respectively) are treated with appropriate effects to ensure their place within the album as a whole. Comparisons ? Perhaps Negativland remixing Sleaford Mods ? This is a genuinely experimental and enjoyable twist on modern dance music, and I can recommend it for anyone with ears open for new ideas.
THE JETZ. Live in Berlin CD (Queen Mum) The Jetz originally formed in Cheshunt during 1976 and signed a deal with Rebel Records (despite the title, actually a short-lived subsidiary of EMI.) They recorded two songs for a proposed single (‘Catch Me’ / ‘If That’s What You Really Want’) although the label then bizarrely chose to replace the b-side with an earlier demo track and decided only to release the record in various European countries, excluding the UK altogether. Regardless, the band toured extensively over the next two years (often in Europe) but no further records were released and they eventually split-up in 1979. Unsurprisingly, the excellent ‘Catch Me’ 7” is now a highly collectable item and, following a reissue of the single and the release in 2011 of the ‘Anthology’ album (compiling all of their original recordings) the band reformed for a handful of shows. Finding that they enjoyed the experience, the band began work on new material which would result in the ‘Cracked Up’ LP (see below.) To mark its’ release, they played a one-off gig in Berlin, combining the best of their original songs with the best of the new to deliver an insistent, high-energy set. The gig was recorded and this album documents just how great they sounded, nearly 40 years after their original lifespan. This doesn’t sound like a band trying to recreate their past, this sounds like a band that are loving being back onstage and effortlessly proving that the songs are still just as valid right now. When Pop sounds as timeless as this, you really don’t have to think about anything else. Just play this album for yourself and wish that you had been there !
THE JETZ. Cracked Up LP (Queen Mum) Featuring the first all-new recordings from the band since their recent reformation, this is an album that sounds remarkably vital, living-up to the reputation of their legendary 1977 single ‘Catch Me’ and almost bursting at the seams with great pop-tunes. With all five original members still onboard, their mix of Glam, powerpop and spikey energy is still intact, along with catchy lyrics that relate various tales of everyday life with great singalong choruses. The whole album has a real vibrancy and sounds as if they were thoroughly enjoying themselves as they made it. The best comparison I can make is with the early Carpettes records, although there are plenty of other references you could make… (early) Beatles, Eddie & The Hot Rods, ‘Shake Some Action’… If only there was a radio station that would broadcast music like this to a wide audience, I’m sure that a lot of people would love it. But lacking that kind of ideal situation, just take note and make sure you hear this album. Play it loud and get into it… There’s nothing about it you won’t enjoy !
LONDON DIRTHOLE COMPANY. Summerine 8.1 CD (Radiowave) Anyone who has witnessed a LDC gig will already know that you can never know what to expect. More / less percussion ? Different line-ups ? Louder / noisier ? All very important elements, but at the heart of it, there’s always a very raw spirit of rock’n’roll. In the Sixties, it would have been called Garage, in the Seventies Punk and these days, probably Lo-fi. Basically, it’s attitude over ability (even if the musicians have real ability.) It’s the songs and their delivery that counts. In the case of LDC, this album has it all in bucketloads. 18 songs, but the disc plays as one continuous track, meaning you have to pay attention, with titles that may or may not actually refer to the lyrics, instead being in-jokes that you’re never gonna get. The songs range from the opening ‘Everything Changes’, a raucous, noisy punk fest that comes across like Swell Maps jamming with early Neubaten, through to the Mod vibes of ‘Nitty Gritty City’, the hardcore thrash of ‘Elephant in the Room’ and the twangy guitar groove of ‘Debbie’s Dirty Secret’. Elsewhere, there are Faust-like drones complete with howling vocals (‘Kismet’), a homage to Jesse Hector in ‘Gorilla-a-go-go’ and a strangely atmospheric cover of ‘Jezebel’. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but then again, I doubt if they’re trying to. Play it loud, grab a beer and just enjoy it !
THE NOT AMUSED. Be With You 7” (Queen Mum) Punk, Mod and Powerpop all collide in this super-catchy single from the Berlin-based band, The Not Amused. They look sharp on the cover and the songs really reflect it. A mixture of German, Italian and UK members, they make me think of a cross between The Chords and Cute Lepers, playing with loads of energy and attitude whilst delving into the best Pop-Punk-Beat moments of both the Sixties and the Seventies. The b-side includes a fine cover of ‘Shape of Things To Come’, but it’s their own song, ‘Be With You’, that really rules this slab of vinyl. Insistent and instantly-memorable, it’s the kind of song that ought to be on every jukebox in the land ! I really hope I get to see this band live some day.
PRIVATE DICKS. Exile in Neverland 7” (Queen Mum) Private Dicks were a New Wave band formed in Bristol during 1978. They released only one single during their original run, the highly-rated ‘She Said Go’ on Heartbeat Records in 1979, which combined the DIY approach of the Buzzcocks first EP with the glam-infused punk of Neon Hearts. After the recent release of an album compiling all of their original recordings, and an archive live recording from the Marquee in 1979, the band reformed for a few live appearances and whilst at it, recorded their first new tracks since 1980. The results are pretty impressive, still capturing their original punky-powerpop sound and delivering it with plenty of energy and attitude. It’s probably not going to change your life (I doubt the band ever intended that) but if you play it loud and grab a cold beer, you’re going to love it ! That’s all you need to know.
SEPTIC TANK. Rotting Civilisation CD (Rise Above) Featuring former Napalm Death and Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorian, this is very much a return to his hardcore roots, most obviously referencing the likes of Discharge and American Hardcore pioneers like Siege, (early) DRI and Septic Death (the name is a bit of a giveaway.) Formed in 1994 as an outlet for Cathedrals’ more frantic aspirations, they originally did little other than a few impromptu get-togethers. It took the best part of two decades until, nearing the end of Cathedrals’ career, the line-up decided to make use of some spare studio time to record their debut EP. Despite a limited edition release in Japan and a suitably enthusiastic response, no immediate follow-up was forthcoming but behind the scenes, plans were being made for the band to become something more than just a side-project. The eventual results are this album. Although it can at times be seen as a homage to the originators of this sound (see above) the band have actually re-emerged in a time that perfectly suits the rage and righteousness that this kind of music thrives upon. Trump in America, Tories in the UK, the Cold War sneaking back into the mainstream, the rich laughing as they screw everyone over … recognize anything familiar ? Musically, it’s a relentless onslaught most reminiscent of Discharge around the time of the (excellent) ‘State Violence State Control’ single, when they adopted a better production sound and some metallic licks but before they lost their original focus and energy (eg, when they collapsed into the awful ‘Grave New World’ era.) Unfortunately, I had to review this without a copy of the lyrics, but those that you can pick-out certainly seem to be spot-on and the delivery definitely matches the tone and subject matter. So, be sure to listen to this as a band in its’ own right. Don’t hold it up against any of their former bands but listen to it as a vital and contemporary statement. If you can’t understand the point of it, you’re not paying attention.
THE SHACKS. Haze CD (Big Crown) New York based band playing a sophisticated mix of jazz, soul, indie and gentle psychedelia, that could certainly see them reaching out to a very wide audience. The music channels the spirit of groovy Seventies movie sound-tracks and smoke-filled jazz basements. The vocals are sung in an intimate, almost hushed manner, ensuring that you pay full attention. The production is perfectly sympathetic towards the songs, recalling early innovators like Phil Spector and Joe Meek, while clearly as sharp and precise and contemporary recording can be. There’s also a nice sense of innocence and naivety to the proceedings ; they sound like a band who are really into what they’re creating rather than people just trying to build a career. It isn’t the sort of thing that I’d usually listen to, but when something is made as well as this, it’s always going to be a pleasure to enjoy.
SKASSAPUNKA. Adalante CD (Kob) This is a great album ! There are so many bands peddling the ‘ska-punk’ sound these days, but few do it any where near as well as this. Heading into their tenth year together, Skassapunka deliver the perfect introduction to their catchy, upbeat musical style, combining six new tracks and five newly remixed older songs to give you a great overview of where they’ve been and where they’re going. The lyrics are predominantly in Italian so it’s a little awkward figuring out their subject matter, although the famous anti-fascist slogan ‘Adelante No Pasaran’ features repeatedly in the title track which certainly indicates they’re on the right side ! Musically, they’re sort of reminiscent of early ‘Bosstones material with equal measures of Ska, Punk and Metal blending together in a truly organic, paasionate way. The brass section finds its’ natural place, just as often the lead instruments rather than just a background feature and helps to add an almost Gypsy element at times. Already popular across Europe, I really hope they make it over to the UK some time. I know the language barrier can be off-putting for us Brits, but when you hear music as infectious as this, you’ll just want to dance ! Sometimes, that’s all you really need to know !
TABLE SCRAPS. Autonomy CD (Zen Ten) This has got to be the best new garage-punk band I’ve heard in a long time. There’s no messing about with clever retro riffs or traditional blues scales, this band just make simple, catchy songs with a snarlin’ attitude. Based somewhere up in the Midlands, the guitar chords stick to the essential minimum, the bass lines do their job without any fancy elaboration and the drums sound as if they’re being pounded-out on cargo-crates. The vocals adopt a stylized-snarl, bitchin’ about things that matter in the same way that either Iggy or David Johansen would do it, but not actually sounding like either of them. Well, the vocals are female, so I suppose that accounts for some of it, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. If anything, the only real comparisons I can make would be with a very primal, stripped-down version of L7, which certainly can’t be a bad thing, and possibly even The Scientists, which is another asset. Bizarrely, ‘Takin’ Out The Trash’ has a insistent riff that reminds me of Goldfrapps’ glam-stomping ‘Oh-La-La’, and while it’s certainly just as catchy, Table Scraps take it to the perfect, fuzzed-out conclusion. I haven’t seen these guys live, yet, but after hearing this album, that’s going to happen as soon as possible. This album rocks in all the best ways – make it a personal priority to hear it soon !
THEME. Sacral Blood Warning CD (Fourth Dimension) Recalling Throbbing Gristle in their more visceral, macabre moments, this latest album from Theme (aka Richard Johnson of Splintered etc) is a rather impressive, albeit disturbing, soundscape. Pulsing electronic rhythms underpin the tracks, over which vocals and other effects are layered, suggesting images rather than stating them definitively. For me, this was what the original ‘Industrial’ music scene was all about, exploring individual ideas and their interpretations. Projects like this are as much about the listeners’ reaction as the artists’ presentation. In a lot of ways, this album reminds me of the excellent Nocturnal Emissions LP ‘Drowning in a Sea of Bliss’, in the way it skips from one mood to the next and conjures up images with an almost dream / nightmare like quality. The important thing, though, is that this is still music that moves. It’s not just a cold, theoretical statement, there is a real sense of passion and intent in these sounds, something you can connect to rather than just admire from a distance. That’s something that is often missing from many experimental or extreme projects, but this album gives you a real impression of purpose. As an extension to the music itself, the CD comes with a 7” booklet, containing imagery, dense text and cut-up lyrics that add to the intrigue. I’m glad to say that I’ve been very impressed by this release.
VARVARA. GO. CD (Haminian Sounds.) Varvara hail from Finland, although musically you would never guess it. Having been releasing records since 2011, they have a very accomplished and focused sound which, to my ears, strongly recalls early-Nineties bands like Buffalo Tom, some of the more melodic moments of Dinosaur Jnr and perhaps even Shudder To Think. The guitars are very-much up-in-the-mix, although never too overpowering. The important thing is that the melodies are allowed to soak through and the vocals, even though at times taking-on a dreamy, almost slurred quality, are always clear and perfectly set within the overall production. The songs shift effortlessly between moods, evoking quieter more introverted moments before bursting into heavier, more intense garage riffs. It’s a very enjoyable album and I can see it doing very well if it gets the international radio play that it deserves. As I said at the beginning, you would never guess where they came from and that’s a positive. They cross borders because the music has a character of its’ own. Let’s hope we get to see them live !
VIOLATION WOUND. With Man In Charge CD (Peaceville) Violation Wound are a California-based three piece fronted by Autopsy member Chris Reifert. But this is a much more hardcore-punk inspired outfit, with the albums’ sound certainly influenced by the D-beat genre, with the most obvious references being Discharge themselves (’Never Again’ / ‘State Violence’ era) and early Antisect. It’s a pretty relentless assault, twenty songs in just over 30 minutes, but they temper their brutality with several surprisingly catchy, melodic tracks, such as ‘Don’t Believe it’ and ‘Destroy The Factory’, which prevent the more blatantly aggressive songs from becoming predictable. The production really captures a great guitar sound and the sharp, precision drumming, while the vocals veer more towards Bay Area thrash style(Slayer etc) while still maintaining a suitably righteous tone. All that being said, the band do also allow for a sense of humour, notably with their frantic cover of ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite’ (bet you never expected a Fleetwood Mac song to appear on a D-beat album ?) and that also adds to the overall effect, allowing a brief moment of respite from the ongoing assault. Overall, it’s a really good album, made by a band that obviously have an understanding of the hardcore / punk sources rather than just a metal band trying to gain some credibility. This is a vital burst of energy with its’ intentions in exactly the right place. With all the appalling stuff going on in the world right now, albums like this are more valid than ever.
WAU Y LOS ARRRGHS. El Mananero 7” (Slovenly) American reissue (complete with brand new artwork) of the farewell single from this soon-to-be-legendary Spanish garage band. Sometimes you hear something and you can instantly sum it up in one word. In this case, that word is ‘raucous’. Wau Y Los Arrrghs are very much in the tradition of The Mummies , mixing primal Sixties sounds with the kind of punk rock adrenalin rush that you hear on the first Damned or Dead Boys albums. The two songs are so frantic that it all sounds as if it might fall apart at any moment, but somehow they keep their grip on the tunes right until the very end. And the fact that the vocals are sung in Spanish doesn’t present any problem – it just adds to the wonderful chaos ! Snap up a copy for yourself and you’ll hear exactly what I mean !