As much as I love intricate, sweeping and clever music, sometimes you can’t beat a low slung guitar, a basic proto-punk-blues beat and some stripped back lyrics. And it doesn’t get more stripped backed than Leathers. Four songs, two guys and pretty much one groove. All four songs found on this eponymous ep seem variations on the same wonderfully raw two chord rhythm and it’s brilliantly refreshing. There is more to it than that obviously but Joe Satriani this most definitely is not and for that I thank them.
Here’s a question for you. If a truck carrying a back catalogue of 50’s rock’n’roll and blues records heading west at 60 miles per hour collided with a truck carrying 60’s garage rock and later punk records heading east travelling at 45 miles per hour, what noise would be forthcoming at the point of impact? Okay, rhetorical question. Silly question. Here’s another one. How can a band repackaging the most familiar rock ’n’roll vibes sound like the freshest sonic dish of the day? Only the gods of music know, well, them and King Brothers.
Wasteland doesn’t pretend to offer any answers, it’s just music not philosophy, but it does make for something great to put on in the back ground whilst you think about it. Eleven tracks that wander the back streets of all of those aforementioned genres mixing and matching, plundering and polishing, reinventing and repackaging, its all familiar stuff but at the same time feels very much of the here and now rather than a mere nostalgic wander through past glories.
And proof of how great the music is comes from the fact that they sing in Japanese, and why not, but it is a language I’m not familiar with and I get about three songs in before I even realise that I’m not listening to the words. I’m listening to the sound of the words, the attitude, the way the delivery fits the music but like I say, this is rock’n’roll it just has to sound the part, it has to groove, rock out, swagger, sulk, threaten, look cool and get the job done. Wasteland does all this and more.
The first thing that grabs you about this 5-track E.P. from Swindon punk trio Slagerij is the energy, obviously punk has energy in bags but within five seconds of hearing their music your head, or feet (or both) will be moving.
Over the years punk has taken on many different flavours, from it’s emergence in the mid 70’s it’s evolved from the grimy, grotty New York scene, through the 80’s with the safety pins, studs and hairstyles to make the eyebrows raise, to 90’s MTV-friendly skater punk before finally coming to today’s offering from bands like Idles, Superchunk and Creeper, but it’s obvious that there is an attraction and strong following for this genre.
Sitting at the same dinner table as Green Day and Rancid, Slagerij grab hold of you and refuse to let go until the ride is over. Their take on punk has the catchy chorus of Billy Joe Armstrong, the bass tone of Matt Freeman and the fast, frantic tempo drumming of Travis Barker of Blink 182
This isn’t your Ramone-style two-minute onslaught, this is more the 90’s skater punk that blew over the Atlantic mixed in with the British punk, particularly The Clash, who delved into reggae and ska and made punk more accessible and, dare I say it, commercial.
What you get is five belting tracks from a very good band that would make a nice introduction to some home grown punk and wouldn’t sound out of place at your standard house party. The usual suspects are here, metronomic drumming, some intricate high-hat work, screams, moments to jump around, strong distorted guitar, cleverly placed bass lines and a growly singer and the end results are pretty good. It’s hands in the air party time.
I’m often reluctant to jump into a punk album, purely because the end result can be a let down when compared to the songs being played live, punk thrives and lives off the energy of the band and the audience and that energy is often lost in the recording studio but it seems to be all present and correct here and it feels like the band had fun recording it. It’s not easy taking that energy of a hundred moving people and recreating it in a studio but what this small taster has done is make me keep an eye out for these lads when they play live, it promises to be one hell of a show!
Sometimes less is more, there’s a whole cliche built around that notion. But sometimes more is more…I guess the clue was right there in front of us all the time. More means more and more has to be better than less. No? If you don’t believe me then just listen to Finnish shoegazing kraut-punk leviathan Teksti -TV 666
Wielding at least four guitars at any given time, the layering and the texturing on this five track offering makes for a masterwork in how you blend, bend, twist and tweak all of those strings together without losing the plot and muddying the musical waters. And even with so much to fit in the songs brim with dynamic and groove and have enough daylight seen between each instrument that every track, every bar, every riff, every note feels justified.
Imagine My Bloody Valentine putting their own spin on Ramones tracks or Lush getting to grips with heavy metal or Neu! on speed. Actually better still just by this album and make your own fun by thinking up your own theoretical music juxtapositions. Ride jamming with Metallica? The fun playing that game never ends, which has to be a sign that this is something truly original.
I always prefer my roots music ragged, and so anything described as “frenetic bluegrass, ” or “apocalyptic Americana” is always going to be something that I’m going to be drawn to. Roots music is the music of the people, the working classes, those who have to make their own entertainment and whether you are playing gypsy jazz music in Eastern Europe, keeping the traditions of rural China alive or in the case of these splendid fellows, punking up Appalachian folk music, the ethic is the same. This is about keeping something alive and delivering it in the manner it was intended, raw, unpolished and full of authentic spirit.
And unlike many modern bands who seem to merely be adopting the sounds of the past for commercial gain, Some Part of Something is a real celebration of times past, a remembrance but more than anything it’s a party. And it is for that reason that their live shows are famous for their raucous and riotous flavours. It’s always hard to capture that live energy in studio form but this album is the perfect calling card for that, you just need to imagine the band barefooted, often bare-chested, sweat-soaked and beer drenched leading the audience through the songs as if this was the last party before the apocalypse.
What you do get from the album is the quality of the playing and the deftness of the songwriting, five albums in and they are certainly hitting a stride that most of their peers would find it hard to keep up with. No Pity in the Rose City is a clattering, cow-punk onslaught and Reckless is a dystopian hoe-down but it isn’t all one long blind, headlong musical charge for the bar and songs such as Southern Sisyphus’s slower pace reveals the brilliance of the playing that actually fuels their music and Long Gone tips its battered hat to the more traditional country forms coming on like the sound track to a gothic western TV series that never was.
Whiskey Shivers are the perfect storm of bluegrass themes and punk rock energy, social commentary and humorous asides, ragged party music and exquisite playing. If anyone tells you that they don’t like country music and its ilk, then just play them this album. If they aren’t an instant convert then cut them out of your life, no one needs that sort of narrow mindedness and negativity around them.
Alcopop! Records are pleased to announce they have signed Berlin-based post-punk art rock band Art Brut, who will play a special return headline show on 7th November in London at Boston Music Room.
Commenting on the signing, label boss Jack Clothier said: “A few years into running Alcopop! I created a little wishlist in my mind of the absolute top five dream bands who I’d love to sign most of all. Legitimately we expected to sign none of them, but, lo and behold, Art Brut are the fourth on the list to sign with us, and we couldn’t be more excited. This new material is undeniably their best yet, and it’s exactly what the world needs right now if you ask me.”
To celebrate the news the band are streaming their new single ‘Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!’ today which is released Thursday 9th August 2018 via all good digital retailers.
Hound Gawd! Records is set to release the new Morlocks album titled, Bring On The Mesmeric Condition, internationally on August 31st, 2018 (LP, CD and digital, formats). The band was founded by Leighton Koizumi, singer for San Diego’s most outrageous garage rock revival band, Gravedigger V. Through break-ups, break downs, personnel changes, changing cities and shifts in popular culture, The Morlocks have continually grown stronger.
Surprising, then, that in 1999, Spin Magazine printed an inaccurate story declaring the death of their energetic, charismatic lead singer Leighton Koizumi. Needless to say, Leighton (far from being dead) continues to lead the charge, a duty he has held since the band’s debut LP Emerge. The Morlocks have continued to perform and make records, a number of which have been featured prominently in movies, television shows and video games.
Pre Order Link: http://www.houndgawd.com/shop/en/SHOP/Vinyl/
Now, the re-vamped & resurrected Morlocks are ready to spread their wings like a Phoenix rising from the ashes… Currently based out of Düsseldorf, Germany Leighton has inlisted a who´s who European fuzz masters… Starting with Rob Louwers – drums (Fuzztones, Q-65, Link Wray), Oliver Pilsner – Bass (Fuzztones, Cheeks, Montesas, Magnificent Brotherhood) Bernadette – Guitar (Sonny Vincent, Humpers) and Marcello Salis (Gravedigger V, Hangee V).
Recorded By Alaska Winter at various secret locations in Germany, including stops in “The Black Forests“ of Freiburg, the seedy underbelly of the Rhine (Düsseldorf/Köln) and East meets West (Berlin). Mixed and mastered by the notorious “Jim Diamond “ of Dirtbombs fame, to give it that special “Motor City” grit and grease that is required on a Morlock record! Alas it´s been a while since the release of “The Morlocks Play Chess”, “BRING ON THE MESMERIC CONDITION” features something never before offered on a Morlocks LP, all original songs!
Sep. 21 Freak Show, Essen, GER
Sep. 22 Das Bett, Frankfurt, GER
Sep. 23 La Bazka, Nancy, FRA
Sep. 24 Le Trockson, Lyon, FRA
Sep. 25 Blah Blah, Torino, ITA
Sep. 26 Raindogs, Savona, ITA
Sep. 27 Trenta Formiche, Roma, ITA
Sep. 28 Ligera, Milano, ITA
Sep. 29 Bronson, Ravenna, ITA
Sep. 30 Altro Quando, Zero Branco, ITA
Okt. 02 Unter Deck, München, GER
Okt. 05 Blue Devils, Orleans, FRA
Okt. 06 Petit Bain, Paris, FRA
You can break out all the musical tricks, all the studio gimmickry, you can revisit, re-invent, re-brand, re-package, carry torches, build songs around nostalgia and familiarity, but it doesn’t count for anything unless you have one thing. Authenticity. If you wear that hat then you can do what you want. Walter Lure has that in spades so he can do anything he wants in my book. And if you want to level the criticism that the wonderfully named Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo is an album built around a sound that you have heard before, the answer is well, of course it is and of course you have. And you know why? Because Walter Lure pretty much invented that sound.
This last surviving guitar slinger of legendary Heartbreakers, along with bands such as The New York Dolls, Dead Boys, band mate Johnny Thunders and London’s Hollywood Brats took punk, glam and garage rock and created a whole new street wise, gritty and honest rock and roll, a far cry from the art-punk pretension coming out of the UK at the same time. Lure and his acolytes have been riding that rock and roll rollercoaster ever since and no one….absolutley no one…does it better.
This album is the first set of new songs from him in a quarter of a decade and it shows that he has lost none of the bite that he made his name with in the first place. Songs such as Take A Chance is a growling, prowling predatory groove that marries glam-punk with Stonesy blues and She Don’t Love You and opener and lead single Crazy Kids remind us of just how riff and melody orientated the Bowery punk scene actually was. The inclusion of London Boys, a song from back in the early days and Lure’s swipe at The Pistols makes for a nice reference point and Talk Too Much wanders wonderfully into Mott The Hoople’s exquisite wide screen stomp-blues territory.
Some people just can’t slow down and Lure is one of them, it just isn’t in his nature and Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo shows that he is just as capable of writing astonishing and refreshingly sleazy rock anthems now as he has ever been. And long may he continue.
Bristol-based RXPTRS are a brand new quintet that combines a mix of ferocious grit with an ear for melody. The group, who formed in early 2018, blend elements of hardcore punk, grunge and hard rock to make a noise crammed full with hooks that still manages to pack a punch.
The quintet is set to self-release their second single, ‘Parasites’, a love song, personifying the music industry, portraying it as a relationship that has seen better days on July 20th. “It relates to certain experiences we’ve had in our short time and what our friends in other bands have experienced.” said vocalist Simon Roach. “It’s no secret that we’re in times of change within the industry and it’s far from glamorous.”
In support of the new single, RXPTRS will take to the road for a run of shows throughout early August:
Today sees Leeds punks, Eat Defeat share the second single ‘Nothing’s Wrong’, taken from the bands new album, ‘I Think We’ll Be OK’, set for an August 3rd release through Bearded Punk Records.
Speaking on the single, vocalist Andrew Summers said “It’s a really upbeat, fun pop-punk song with a goofy guitar solo and extra bleak emotional lyrics over the top of it. It’s one of the songs on the album I’ll listen to and genuinely get a bit upset thinking about it.” He continues, “The song is about having to talk someone down off of a ledge when you’re in a completely different timezone to them and just how much that can really fuck both of you up. It’s an underlying theme on the album, distance and dealing with loneliness and depression and lyrically this really sums that all up.”
I didn’t realise that bands were still making music like this but I’m rather glad that they are. In an age where punk seems largely about rose-tinted nostalgia trips, alt-rock is all about getting just the right brand of skinny jeans and the this week’s complicated hair style and metal has long become a parody of itself, it seems as if the heavier end of music has been subsumed by imposters and chancers, retro-gazers and pastiche plunderers. Thankfully bands like Bitter Grounds pop up with just enough frequency to give us heart and stay true to the ragged, rock and roll cause.
Two Sides, from an up coming new album, reminds me of those punk bands who formed in the wake of that first three-chord explosion. As the initial shock and awe of the original scene was fading out and the next wave of bands realised that they had to offer something more meaningful, more melodic, more musical and then realised that if they did they could actually sell records…post-punk was born. Bitter Grounds would have fitted right in back then, the same balance of angst and artistry, of attitude and addictiveness, of accessibility and….other alliterative words that would neatly finish that sentence.
If the scope and style of music were expressed as a Venn Diagram, then at a point where funk, punk and psychedelia meet, you might not find many bands filling that intersection but it is definitely where The Hot Knives fit into the scheme of things. They weave crucial elements of all three genres neatly through the three songs that make up this e.p., punk’s attitude, drive and belligerent energy, psychedelic’s otherworldliness and dense swirling patterns and funks swagger and dance infused essence, and the whole lot blends together is a paisley patterned, drug-fug, hypno-frenzy.
It’s The Stooges playing with soul music, The Byrds exploring heavy metal, James Brown on an acid trip, it’s mutant rock, bruised blues, its all of that and more. The Hot Knives also embrace something missing from most modern bands…mystique, even down to the song titles, Sfincioni Dreams, Dank Zappa and Alhambra, Baby seem drawn from a world part mythology, part dark underbelly of modern society and the music matches these strange juxtapositions too. Guitars squall and squeal, drums beat avalanches of sound and basses brood and batter and then the whole lot is warped and blasted into space in a shower of freak out coolness.
It’s hard to really pin down Hot Knives in an easy soundbite, but then again you should be able to say that about all great music. Let’s just say that it is a collision of genres and eras, the past, present and future, the profound and the profane, of this world and the next and leave it at that.
By the time this album originally came blinking into the daylight from the depths of a small Brussels studio in 1990, James already had a pretty impressive CV to his name. Having almost exclusively penned the material that made up the first two Damned albums, including New Rose, the first ever punk single, and spending much of the 80’s steering Lords of the New Church to international success, the latter’s demise gave him the time to put his first solo album out. Long out of circulation, this re-issue offers the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with the man away from the bands he was known for.
Considering this album comes out straight off of the back of his time with The Lords, this collection eschews their lush dance-goth textures…they never really were the “punk supergroup” that they were tagged… for the incendiary rock and roll riff-a-rama that The Damned were based on. But neither is this out and out punk, but again, The Damned were smarter and more interesting than that anyway, and opening salvo The Twist seems more in keeping with the savage R&B chops of the pub rock circuit that helped pave the way in the first place. Another Time, Another Crime is a boisterous bluesy work out, Ain’t That A Shame is a gentler re-working of his own debut single and You Try is a brilliant, retro-infused, groover that in an alternate musical time-line was Roy Orbison’s biggest hit.
It’s an album which reminds you that despite punk claiming a year zero status, its movers and shakers were heavily influenced by the rock and roll of the sixties and early seventies and in this wonderful collection you can hear the echoes of times past and just about catch the fleeting ghosts of its main musical perpetrators. It walks in the shoes of the likes of The Stooges, The MC5 and The Seeds, blues heroes, garage rock idols and rock and roll rebels and it links arms with fellow travellers such as Nikki Sudden and Johnny Thunders. But more than anything it is a look into the musical psyche of one of the main players responsible for defining the sound of punk.
Music historians will tell you that Punk, in its original form, evolved from two separate sources. In America, the nucleus was a New York scene of garage rock bands, musical hustlers and street urchins, in the UK bored London art college kids re-appropriated glam imagery and invented their own high velocity pop. Their common ground was always to be found more in the attitude and swagger than in any strong musical bonds. It is interesting to note, therefore, that Saskatchewan’s Vaudeville Remedy seem built on the twisted heritage of both scenes, the advantage afforded both in being able to look back from afar and the ubiquity of old music to the modern market.
Adhesives is a raw and raucous blending of grunge deliveries, US college rock outsiderisms, thrashed out blues-metal and first generation punk swagger, it is ragged and uncompromising. If it were more technical it would be metal, slicker it would be alt-rock and more melodic it would fit in to the commercial end of punk but Vaudeville Remedy is obviously happy skirting the fringes of all of those and fully committing to none. You have to love an outsider.
In such an interconnected age as today, I’m surprised more bands don’t realise that just making music is limiting your appeal and that the best approach is a multi-pronged media attack. Okay, many deliver their music with a video to create a pincer movement of audio and images but far too few put out their own comic book series, one where they are the characters and the music can be considered the sound track. That’s clever, very clever.
Save Me is Suburban Vermin doing what they do best, splicing rasping old-school punk with the pop-punk revivalists who followed a decade or so later, 60’s garage rock with the stripped down nu-punk of the here and now, into a best of all worlds musical scenario. It is short, sharp and to the point, pop aware and highly melodic, raw, ragged, punchy and jagged. Everything that the subversive strains of rock in all its forms has thrived on since the first rockers declared James Dean a deity and went into battle to win the heart, mind and disposable income of the newly designated teenager.
If there is a better garage rock band operating on the circuit today then I’m yet to stumble across them, they capture all the raw energy, swagger, verve and attitude of a small club band bursting out of their restrictive environment to take on the world. They are also a band who have worked out that the wheel doesn’t need re-inventing, it just needs a clean up, re-treading and some fancy rims added then taken out for a spin to leave some indelible and unsightly marks all over the road, possibly invoking an angry letter to the local newspaper from local residents. Buckle up; it is going to be one hell of a ride.
Whilst the title might suggest a bunch of young punks with nothing new to say, the sentiment has taken on a whole new angle in the internet age. Rather than being just a mindless generation punk anthem, a slogan or a piece of empty rhetoric, it is now has something more to say. In this internet age where the art of trolling, that is the art of twisting and subverting on-line conversations to draw a reaction out of someone, has become weaponised language, the art of turning the other cheek, or not rising to the occasion, is a discipline in itself.
But G.Killan hasn’t got time for that and in the words of the song title..he don’t give a fuck! And although the song drives on punked up vibes, it blends in alt-rock and, surprisingly, a dexterous and contrasting slice of smooth jazz amongst its shout from the rooftops cry of belligerence and controlled frustration.
There could also be another answer I guess, maybe he has just got to that age where you don’t really care anymore. I know how he feels!
Canshaker Pi have announced their ‘Naughty Naughty Violence’ tour for this May including a show at The Old Blue Last in addition to their previously announced set at The Great Escape in Brighton. They have also released their dark new video to ‘Put A Record Out’ in support of the upcoming album due this summer via Excelsior Recordings.
After impressing the likes of DIY, Clash, Drowned in Sound and many more at their Eurosonic performance at the start of 2018, Canshaker Pi are now set to release their new album, ‘Naughty Naughty Violence’. From supporting names such as Car Seat Headrest and Parquet Courts, to local friends Pip Blom, and indie legends The Cribs, the band have absorbed all the skill that surrounds them and poured it into the new record. The Amsterdam quartet burst into the world of indie-rock at such a young age and yet have been no strangers to the more mature sounds of Pavement – in fact, Stephen Malkmus helped to produce the band’s debut LP and in 2017 they toured 15 countries and played 27 shows with Scott Kannberg’s Spiral Stairs.
Whilst one end of the music industry seems always to seek perfection in a singular genre, the quest presumably to be the definitive rock band or the quintessential folk band, doffing hats to tradition and expectation, I for one prefer to get my kicks in a much more rowdy and rough hewn sort of place. The sort of dive that, if it were a real venue, featured bands which lived for the moment, smashed genres together to create their own musical worlds, dragged tradition kicking and screaming into the modern age, before getting it drunk and leaving it with barely the bus fare to home again. And if such a place did exist, Moonshine Booze would be the resident band.
Desert Road sounds like a head one collision at Robert Johnson’s infamous cross roads between Sergio Leone, Gogol Bordello, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash. Joe Strummer and the ghost of the late, great Nick Marsh were along for the ride and there is only a quarter of a bottle of absinthe left. To say that this is merely outlaw country or illicit blues just shows you how bad soundbites are at describing music, for this is something very different.
Rock, blues, country…it’s all in there for sure, there is a touch of punked up Old World musical traditions, barking at the moon Balkan vibes, chaotic klezmer and frenzied folk, but it is the New World that Moonshine Booze is really in love with. Death Melody seems to hold the answers, a brooding dirge which bridges the gap between their European home and their Spaghetti Western hearts, but mostly they are unashamed in their love of this imaginary frontier territory that they have created for themselves. World of Pain is Tom Waits playing cowboy campfire songs, Lemon Box is a punkgrass hoedown and the title song is a saloon singalong on speed.
It’s a world of their own invention but it sounds like a great place to visit, if this album is anything to go by. It is the frontier world of the old west heightened, stretched, exaggerated, intensified, blown apart and put back together in a deliberately haphazard and provocative fashion. So, I have heard the sound track, now where do I buy the ticket?
Ducking Punches have finally release their eagerly awaited fourth album ‘Alamort’ via the Xtra Mile Recordings label.
And clearly in good spirits for the album to finally be out into the world, the punk rockers have released a hilarious new video for current single “Distant Shadows”,
The video arrives ahead of two recent exclusive album launch shows in London , with a hometown gig in Norwich tonight (17th Feb).
And fans of the band all across the UK won’t have to wait long to see ‘Alamort’ performed in their own neck of the woods, as Dan Allen’s East Anglian punk rock rabble plot an extensive run of UK tour dates for the Spring. Hitting the road throughout April, the quartet will be taking their latest work to a total of 15 towns and cities near you, including Bristol, Brighton, Bolton, Leeds, Liverpool, Kings Lynn and beyond…
I guess when you get your single spun as recommend new music by Idles frontman Joe Talbot, sitting in for Steve Lamacq on 6 music, you know that you have friends in the right places. But after opening shows for the likes of The Stranglers and The Buzzcocks and finding other champions amongst the great and good of both commercial and more discerning radio, you can’t say that they haven’t earn’t such exposure.
Table Scraps make trashy garage rock meets modern day street punk, okay the punk purists still clinging to their Pistols vinyl aren’t going to fall for its contemporary charms, but this is what punk sounds like two generations on, this is the same spirit that ran through the likes of The Slits, an alternative to what was already alternative. Similarly it is two fist fulls of brash and brief alt-art-attacks, generally making their point in around three minutes or less and blending clattering grooves and choppy rhythms, aggressive and unrefined, sounding almost demo like it his era of studio possibilities and all the better for it.
And for all its belligerence, its songs are hooky and accessible, sort of anyway, songs like Sick of Me, My Obsession and Takin’ Out The Trash would be sure fire chart hits if the music industry was run by people in Johnny Thunders T-shirts and if kids still went to grassroots gigs. Sadly the battle is going to be a bit harder for bands like Table Scraps but I’m definitely rooting for them.
There is some music which, going on titles alone, begs more questions than answers. A band called, for example, Splat! could turn out to be almost anything musically. Similarly Doctor Bongo’s Electric Herring leaves you similarly bemused at what might lie within, though you can be fairly sure that drugs were involved in its construction. The only really certainty when it comes to names is that anything with an umlaut over a vowel is an old school metal band trying to look tough or worldly…or both. Lo-Hi Rebels presents no such problem, something of the sound and the attitude are captured in the band name and something of their worldly point of view in the album title.
If the opening salvo fires off in fairly expected style, underneath their scuzzy garage rock sound there are some less than expected reference points. Whilst many of the tracks seem to pay homage to the early days of Brit punk, somewhere between the brash melodics of the first wave and the more intense and destructive second, tracks like Last Chance Saloon are built on the echoes of the pre-punk, London R&B pub-rock era that when speed up and stripped down became the musical template for British punk. Got Soul also hints and a more interesting record collection, 60’s psych rock meets twisted beat music and Carol even shows that the band are not adversed to pop balladry, though obviously they drench it in visceral and raw guitars plus the odd jaunty retro riff and a lunatic crescendo.
Whilst so many bands are looking to create their own sound through convoluted vocal styles and cross genre fusions with an eye on the fickle fashion of the youth market, Lo-Fi Rebels wear their “art on their sleeve”. It may be cooler to reference happening indie bands or iconic American punk but the band are effectively channelling, reviving and updating a sound that has been wielded many times before from the likes of BB King to The Seeds to Dr Feelgood to Burning Tree, proving that great music does stand the test of time. If these are intentional references then good on them, it shows that they not only have great taste but are aware of their place in musical history, something that all bands should have a grasp on. If unintentional it probably says something about musical osmosis or that maybe humans have something in their DNA that makes them predisposed to such raw and primal sounds. I don’t know, I’m not actually a real scientist.
Hiccup is many things. A seventh album with all the energy and swagger of a debut release, a guitar driven musical blast built of slabs of sound rather than the intricacies and detail which the instrument usually loves to bathe in, punk urgency soaked in fuzzy, psychedelic washes, a sucker punch and a hug, an inward looking and reflective odyssey which just happens to sound like it wants to pick a fight with the world. Juxtapositions are wonderful things when used correctly.
And it is this warped blend and belligerent non-conformity which means that this album could have been the product of the hidden underground movement of almost any musical era to date from 60’s garage rock experiments to 70’s psychedelic scenes, from post-punk explorations to the dark under belly of 90’s college rock or grunge and on into the mix and match post-genre approach of the 21st century.
If bands like Sonic Youth explored similar territory by lacing their music through with intricate but primal guitar riffs and meandering but memorable hooks, Tym Wojcik, the man behind Cup takes a simpler route, building a wall of noise which is more about a presence than necessarily a tune in the more accessible sense. So much so that his musings which in their subject matter often seen mutually exclusive to the bluntness of the music – anxiety, existence, meaning and communication – often get a bit lost in the musical maelstrom that he conjures up.
Challenging, uncompromising, brutal and direct, it is an album which isn’t about making an initial connection, it is more about increased rewards over successive plays, once you get your head around how his unique musical world works, understand its rules, self-imposed limitations and modus operandi. Once your ear is in you will find a gem of an album, a rough and unpolished gem, but a gem none the less. So go and play it, play it again, and again, once more, keep going, don’t stop, again….
Aren’t you meant to mellow with age? Aren’t you meant to hand the musical baton on to the next generation, calm down and grow old gracefully? Well, when the younger generation seem largely content to write songs devoid of bite or opinion and the world seems to grow even more chaotic, ill-balanced and self-serving day by day, what is an old punk to do? They do what they have always done, write fired up music about the state of the world around them, remind people that once music had something to say, thats what Derailer do anyway and boy do they sound pissed off.
Derailer are a motley bunch of musicians whose collective family tree runs through a whole raft of local agitator rock and viseral punk bands, including The Chaos Brothers, The Boys From County Hell and and Nobody’s Heroes but Delete The Elite pushes beyond merely punk roots and splices garage rock, swamp blues, scuzzy alt-rock and a snarling commentary which seems equally content to put things right or pull things down.
And if songs like Prohibition are happy to play the high octane, punk groove card, the gothic-country wasteland shiver of Creepin’ Jesus and the raucous roots salvos of Hands of The Healer position them closer to the tribal psychobilly blues of The Gun Club, never a bad band to find yourself sharing a vibe with.
Somehow, Derailer have mastered the art of writing songs that represent every disenfranchised musical subset in history…well, a fair slice of them anyway. In 12 surly and uncompromising musical slices Delete The Elite manages to embrace the sneering punk, the slick haired rock and roller and any number of beligerants wandering the musical fringes. The jagged riffs will speak to blues heads and hard rockers alike and the brooding undertones are a place even the estranged goth can find solace. Call it what you will but for my money this is garage rock at its finest.
Following on from writing about their recent release Kill White Lights we sat down for a bit of a chat to find out more about our favourite Philly garage rockers The Judex to find out more about where it all started, what’s it all about and more excitingly, where is it all heading.
So let’s start with a bit of background, you are a relatively new band, what’s the musical family tree and back story that gets us to the birth of The Judex?
W: I wish I had something more engaging and exotic to start out on, but the birth of The Judex is relatively mundane although it does involve a musical family tree, as you put it. Basically, the four of us all played together in various forms as teenagers with various degrees of regional success… we lost touch and went our separate ways. Fast forward to last Winter. I had been singing in a rockabilly band in New York and, while it was a quality project with great people, it wasn’t the same as a ‘real’ band, the sense of priorities are different, and so forth. Not wrong, just different.
I had started to get back in touch with Sean and we had a lot of the same ideas about how self-indulgent and interchangeable bands had become and acted- and both Sean and J were really blue collar in a sense, not jaded and cynical like a lot of musicians I’d been interacting with in the city. It was kind of refreshing to be around that kind of attitude again, where people just wanted to throw themselves into it and who shared the mindset of, let’s talk less about ourselves, and just get shit done.
One of the things which speaks volumes about just how much the world has changed over the last generation is when you are reading the comments of an on line discussion and some one posts something along the lines of “musicians should stay out of politics.” Surely the whole point of art in general and music in particular is to comment on the world around you. Yes, of course you can make throw away dance tunes and music that ticks aesthetically pleasing boxes, but equally valid is music as a soapbox, a platform from which to add to the social and political dialogue, to unite and energise or confront and accuse as you see fit.
With Flag Burner, American Anymen does just that, their disapproval of the current US administration and its controversial leader is never in any doubt. But ever since troubadours and folk musicians wandered between European inns spinning yarns about revolts, since revolutionary marching songs fired up the discontented masses and through to the likes of punk agitators and modern day musical commentators, it is a role that music has always played.
American Anymen play a staccato guitar music, restless, agitated, edgy and angst infused, it links the more articulate side of the British punk movement with the jittery, post-punk of the likes of Talking Heads and reflects the no holds barred observations of the likes of Sleaford Mods. American Anymen, whether they are aware of it or not, join a vague movement which is seeing a return to music as a flash point for debate and rally, one connected less by the actually music they make but more a return to the realisation of the power that a band and their songs can have, should they only chose to embrace that path.
Normally the job of a reviewer is to try and dissect a record and explain to the potential buyer what is going on under the hood of that particular musical vehicle. With this bunch of Minneapolis generic gene splicers it would be quicker to tell you what isn’t in there.
Like some sort of big, brash, souped-up street racer, The Foshays burn through mutant garage rock, glam stomps, Stax horn sections, pulsing new wave electro, punk-blues guitars, CBGB’s era street bands, industrial engineered 60’s doo-wop and a darkly psychedelic take on children’s TV themes.
And like those over engineered beasts, in just over 2 minutes they have blown themselves out in blast of flames and smoke leaving just some tire marks on the road, the acrid smell of burning oil and an odd feeling that you need a lie down. What a way to go….
The wonderfully named Suburban Vermin continue their mission to pour all the snottiest, surliest, most belligerent and confrontational strains of music from the contemporary era into their sonic cauldron and create a new musical soup for the current disaffected and disenfranchised times.
In a whisker under three minutes Different Note manages to embrace the sneering punk, brutal tastes of the hardcore fan and misunderstood angst ridden grunger in one fell swoop. The raw and relentless drive will speak to metalheads and the dark and jagged undertones are a place even the estranged proto-goth can find solace. Call it what you will this is mutant rock at its finest.
Beat Before Breakdown follows its own advice and delivers something that sounds straight out of CBGB’s from that disease ridden golden age of the mid-seventies, put this in a Heartbreakers set (time travel required) and no-one would bat an eye lid.
If Suburban Vermin prove one thing it is that we can argue about generic labels, fashion and fine details but the spirit that runs through their songs is one that has been catching the ear of every wild eyed loner since James Dean first embodied the image over half a century ago. It isn’t really about the messenger it is about the message, the common ground, the tribal connection, the idea that you may not be as alone as you think.
The songs speak attitude, the lyrics drip bile and the whole package seems to be a vehicle for the dark underbelly of every musical outsider since the clock was first rocked around. It’s a wonderful skill to have, to be able to take every disinherited idea, every discarded and ignored, non-conformist expression music has ever turned its commercial minded back on and forge them into an all embracing, all uniting anthem, but its what Suburban Vermin do. Deal with it!
We’ll just skip over the bands backstory for now, tales of alien abduction and cryogenic freezing all make for fun punk mythologies but let’s get down to the task at hand. What punk has always been the perfect vehicle for is making statements, political, social, artistic, the blunter and more direct the better, rather than worrying too much about how slickly it is packaged, musically speaking. To some it is just a case of shock and awful, to me it is the most succinct way of making a point, a sucker punch to the brain, a sledgehammer to the modern bland collective consciousness.
Squished Penises operate in that that 1977 “just do it” punk attitude that was coming out of London art colleges, Berlin squats and hustling for change on the Lower East Side at the time, the straight up three cacophonous chords and a whole lot of the terrible truth that seems to now be resigned to the past. It is raw, rowdy and riotous, it is about impact and ideology, revolution and resistance, reaction and rebellion. And, it would seem, alliteration!
I’ve often wondered why when significant musical movements such as rock’n’roll, punk and hip-hop have been born out of social unrest, why there hasn’t been something new born as a sounding board for the turmoil and injustice of this decade. Until it happens we always have bands such as Squished Penises to lead the charge, and for that I thank them.
When the What’s Her Name? single landed before my reviewing pen a few months ago it seemed to have arrived at the perfect time. It gave me the perfect opportunity to rally against the conformity and unadventurous nature of the rock scene at the moment and hold up Smoking Martha as being exactly what was needed to shake things up a bit. The right band, the right sound, the right time. Right? But even with such a great musical calling card and a hint as to what might follow, it still didn’t fully prepare me for just what a joy to behold this full album would be.
In the same way that I waxed lyrical about that song’s ability to strip things back and capture the singular essence of rock, to be simultaneously raw and melodic, incendiary and infectious, cultish and commercial, with In Deep you realise that song was anything but a one off. Smoking Martha have only gone and filled up a whole album of brilliant musical balancing acts and fine-line generic tight rope walks.
With most bands you can probably pinpoint one or two musical references that seem to drive the music, with Smoking Martha things are not quite so straightforward. Although things drive along pretty much on a classic rock vibe or via a more visceral garage rock subversion, this is no mere rehashing of the past and whilst you can probably pick out many of the individual musical building blocks, what they have fashioned them into is a totally new piece of exquisite sonic architecture.
Find a Way broods and glowers with gothic undertones, Ebb of the Tide bristles with high drama and shifting dynamics, and opening salvo So Lonely blends punky skanking guitars with foot on the monitor seminal rock sounds. And the more you peel back the more you find; blues grooves pushed to the extreme, theatrical excesses, grunge intensity, biker bar swagger and effortless attitude. But despite this scattergun of references, or perhaps because of it, nothing here ever sounds derivative, familiar perhaps but just the right blend of comfort zone and new ground being explored.
Smoking Martha is a band looking for a bigger stage. You can hear it in their music, music crafted for big platforms, anthemic launch pads and stadium broadcasts – big songs looking for a big space to call home. I’m sure watching them play in a small music venue is still a brilliant, white-knuckle experience but what they have managed to capture on this album is the best argument ever for them being given the chance to step up and join the big leagues. When that door opens for them, not if but when, rock music will be in an altogether more interesting place.
The future of rock music isn’t just looking bright, it is positively smoking!
Last time I dipped my toe into the crazy waters of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show it was to experience their clattering cider-punk-country-hoedown Tightropin’ a song which gave me the opportunity to roll out all those literary juxtapositions and two worlds colliding musical metaphors. But a full album is a whole different affair. Here, rather than just the quick snapshot that a single offers, you get a fuller sense of the musical landscape this intriguing band calls home.
Opening salvo, Winter Walks, offers a wholly unexpected and slightly disarming start, a more plaintive, pastoral introduction to the band than the one I was subjected to, but never the less threaded through with wonderful dynamic changes, mournful stings and Beatle-esque descending progressions. This is quickly followed by the frantic cow-punk of Tick Tick and thus the boundaries of their sonic kingdom are quickly defined.
And whilst there is a lot about this album which reminds you that the folk urges of this side of the Atlantic and the country twangs of our colonial counterparts are certainly generic cousins, there is a lot more at work here too. Whilst Lose Your Step is classic wistful reflection with a UK postcode and Country Singer has all the references that its name implies, the most interesting tracks are the ones that throw you a few curveballs. Serial Killer is a strange punk musical hall gang show, Magazines is a classic pub rock era strut that Nick Lowe would be proud of and the track from which the band takes their name is a splendidly drunken waltz. And even after pinballing between all of those musical demarcation lines they still manage to surprise me with Circling The Airport, a cinematic, soundtrack of a song that, however hard I try not to, has be thinking of The Goo Goo Dolls Iris, for all the right, sky-scraping and emotive reasons.
Going into an album on the strength of one song is always interesting, sometimes you realise that a band are a one trick pony and the single is all you needed to hear anyway, other times you find that it isn’t representative at all. After hearing Tightropin’ a few months ago, Weeding Out The Wicked turns out to be the best of both worlds. That song is representative of only one part of the bands sound and through the course of the album they take wonderful sonic journeys through associated genres and conduct interesting cross pollinating experiments but all the while the sound is cohesive, fresh and original. It isn’t often that you find that happening, I can tell you.