Posts Tagged ‘Buzzcocks’

6th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

As the band’s name suggests, their roots and influences lie very much in the spirit of 1977. The year which saw ABBA, Bread, The Eagles, The Shadows, Johnny Mathis, and Fleetwood Mac dominate the album charts, and the year’s best-selling singles being by the likes of Wings’ ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and acts like Leo Sayer, Brotherhood of Man, and Hot Chocolate here in the UK, will also be forever marked in history as the year punk broke. Alongside all the anodyne MOR pap and slock disco, 1977 also saw the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, The Damned’s Damned Damned Damned , The Clash’s eponymous debut, The Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch EP, and The Dead Boys’ Young Loud and Snotty, as well as classic releases by The Stranglers and Richard Hell & The Voidoids.

These, of course, are the seeds these guys are referring to, although they also draw on a host of other stylistic elements, ranging from psyche to glam, and in a title that seems to echo Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’, the sextet have forged their debut long player in lockdown. As the title suggests, they’re keen to escape this interminable drag and get the fuck back out there.

There’s a choppy ska-tinged guitar that leads the high-octane opener ‘Kick it Out’, which sets out their stall nicely. It’s unaffected, and while the playing it tight, the production is direct and unfussy. The wandering bass cuts through the trebly guitars and it demonstrates all the hallmarks of authentic punk.

With the majority of the tracks clocking in at around the three-minute mark, it doesn’t take long for them to power through thirteen songs, and they’ve totally nailed that three-chord chop. But there’s also a sense of crafting behind the songs, with a solid grasp of dynamic range, and if most of the choruses are more about everyone shouting the hook than any real harmonies – it’s true to the spirit of the genre, being hooky in that most primitive of ways: keep shouting it till it sticks.

Then again they throw in some curveballs – ‘Lost_Found’ is a soulful piano-led duetting ballad augmented by aching strings, where the hell-for-leather drumming is replaced by a subdued machine. Placed mid-album, it’s a touching tune that serves as an interlude before the full-on chug of ‘Reality Bites’. The switching of lead vocals between Vince Mahon and Michi Sinn adds to the album’s range and dynamism: they’re both strong vocalists, but distinctive stylistically, beyond the obvious male / female.

Seeds of 77 have got some solid riffs and catchy choruses, but it’s the bass that really makes the sound, going far beyond the thudding four-square to-the-floor thud that’s standard, and instead showing some real flair – and when trad punk bands are two-a-penny, those distinctions count for a lot.

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Klanggalerie – 18th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s no questioning Eric Random’s pedigree, having begun his musical career with The Tiller Boys with Pete Shelley and Francis Cookso before becoming part of the post-punk and experimental milieus of both Manchester and Sheffield, recording his first solo works at Cabaret Voltaire’s studio, and later fronting Nico’s band until her death in 1988. But while many artists dine out on their former glories – and it’s true that since the majority fail to scale to any great heights, a brimming resumé is something to celebrate, there’s equally a certain truth in the belief you’re only as good as your latest work.

No-Go is his fourth album since his return in 2014 following a lengthy time out. Pitched as a step further into an electronic dance direction, and inviting comparisons to Wrangler and Kraftwerk, No-Go is brimming with 80s stylisations, and all the 808 and Akai snare cracks and robotix vocals you could imagine are crammed into these eleven tracks.

A jittery stammer runs through the entirety of the opener, ‘Synergy’, while all over, multiple other synth sounds swipe and bleep over the ultra-retro groove, and all over, Random recaptures not just the sound of the late 70s and early 80s scene in which he was so deeply immersed in, but also the feel of the period. It’s easy to forget just how vibrant the energised spirit of newness was around that time, with the rapidly evolving – and ever-cheaper – technology opening new doors to seemingly infinite possibilities. This was music that sounded like the future in every sense, and while a lot of it may sound dated now, the fact there appears to have been some kind of revival or renaissance under way for the best part of the last 30 years speaks volumes. Of course, where Random differs from the oceans of retro revivalists is that he’s not attempting to reconstruct a fantasy version of a bygone era: he was there, at the cutting edge, doing precisely this.

‘Compulsion’ is a bleak wheezy cut with tinny marching drums and vocal that are oddly reminiscent of early New Order in their flat, distanced delivery. It’d Depeche Mode that spring to mind in the opening bars of the buoyant yet bleak ‘Is the Sun Up’, but then

‘Sinuous Seduction’ leaps out on account of the sample of William S. Burroughs narrating a segment of Naked Lunch, and while one of the numerous passages about giant black centipedes may not be revelatory or even particularly inventive, it does serve as a reminder of Burroughs’ vast influence on music, in particular acts like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, who swiftly recognised the analogy between the cut-up and the sample, something Burroughs himself had initiated with the experiments he conducted with tape in the late 1950s and early 1960s with Ian Sommerville. But then, equally, there’s just something about Burroughs’ creaking, dry-as-sticks monotone that is just unbelievably cool, and also sends a unique shover down the spine, distinctive to the point of being immediately recognisable, and also really not of this world, that detached, flat intonation about stuff that’s plain weird is perfectly suited to the music of the early years of the electronic age. The track itself is sparse, monotonous, robotic, and while it’s as much an example of doomy Eurodisco in the vein of The Sisterhood’s Gift, it’s not a million miles away from The Pet Shop Boys circa Disco – and that’s by no means a criticism.

Sandwiched between this and the blustery hard-edged disco of ‘No Show’, the ‘It’s come again’ offers some welcome respite with its more loungy leanings. Things get lively to the point of dizzying with the last few tracks, which are uptempo an mega-layered with bewilderingly busy arrangements, and it’s a tense climax to an album that shudders and judders, bubbles, foams, and fizzes with electronic energy.

In going back to his roots, Random has really hit the zone and delivered some old-school stompers in the process.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Punk never died, and while many of the old garde got fat and bloated and / or faded into obscurity and insignificance, many of the artists who defined that short yet incendiary period thatredefined music for all time are still going srong and are as essential as ever. Others simply have too many classic songs to let go, and are still performing them with the same energy of 40 years ago. I’m basing that on footage I’ve seen from back in the day, of course, having only been born in 1975. But that means that the music of the punk era has been an integral part of the backdrop to my entire life, and its fair to say that the music of the last 40 years would have been very different and infinitely poorer without the historical rupture that was punk.

Rebellion Festival – running August 4th – 7th at the Winter Gardens in Backpool – clebrates all things punk, and the 2016 lineup is a belter. With 300 band across seven stages, it’s a packed-ot bill, but The Buzzcocks, The Damned and Stiff Little Fingers are obvious draws, each being legendary in their own right.

But then, the history of punk is packed with bands renowned for a single clasic album or a clutch of killer singles, and Slaughter and the Dogs, The Dickies and Anti Nowhere League are all intgral to the bigger picture of what made punk in the late 70s and early 80s.

Jello Biafra is a legend in his own right, while The Ruts stand as one of the most innovative acts to have emerged from the first wave of punk, not only incorporatin elements of reggae in their sound butfully embracing the dub sound later in their career. They’re also as good a live act as you’re likely to see / hear, anyplace, anytime, and new single ‘ Psychic Attack’ shows they’ve lost none of their edge.

Chuck in classic acts like Chelsea, Angelic Upstarts, the band painted on more leather jacets than anyone on the planet has had hot dinners The Exploited, Jilted John, GBH, not to mention Dag Nasty, Vice Squad Subhumans, UK Subs, Goldblade, The Membranes, TV Smith of Advrts fame, and The Dwarves and you’ve got the makings of a raucous, riotous and incredibly fun weekend in prospect.

 

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Tickets and more here.