Posts Tagged ‘Punk’

Warren Records

Christopher Nosnibor

On witnessing Hull band Ketamine Kow playing live low on the bill supporting Mannequin Death Squad a little while ago, I found myself feeling exhilarated and fully charged by the raw energy of the performance and 100% sold on their punk energy, and I wrote as much after the fact. So it’s nice to see my enthusiastic comments repeated in the press release for their new single, ‘Shoe Shopping’, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

A nervous, but soft jangling guitar yields to a welter of everything going off all at once and at a hundred miles an hour and they charge headlong into a raucous blast of driving alternative rock that channels post-punk and grunge as much as it does classic vintage punk, while Adam Stainforth rants about uncomfortable shoes.

If that sounds like facetious fluff, it’s far from it, and Stainforth’s explanation of the song’s subject matter shows a depth and reflection that may not be immediately apparent based on first impressions:

“The song battles with the idea of gender identity being a lot like a pair of shoes,” he says. If you have a good comfortable well-fitting pair, then you don’t think about it and as you walk about you aren’t constantly thinking about your shoes and their comfort. But if your shoes are too small, or there’s a pebble in them, it’s all you can think about. Every step is annoying and you don’t want to do anything else until you fix the problem and your shoes stop hurting. So, I think in that sense most people probably can’t conceptualise the feeling of their gender well, because it just fits right and always has – and therefore it’s hard to imagine how all the small, normal things just constantly feel wrong, even if you are alone in your home.”

Put simply, there’s more than just all-out attack happening here, although the full-throttle, furious delivery is, unquestionably, a major draw. With the momentum they’ve built – and the speed at which they’ve gained it – this year, 2023 is looking like being a stormer for Ketamine Kow.

18th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Following on from big-hitting introductions in the form of single releases ‘A Working Class Lad’, Manchester’s The Battery Farm hit us with their debut album, Flies.

They describe it a ‘an album about end times fear and societal breakdown. It is an album that tries to come to terms with the violent world we find ourselves in, and tries to reconcile with an uncertain future in world that we have decimated. It’s about the endless, screaming noise of 21st Century living and the squalid claustrophobia that entails. Driven by fury, black humour, compassion and a desire for hope.’

These are all things I’m on board with: it’s essentially a list of the top things that gnaw away at my psyche and my soul on a daily basis. Because to live in the world right now is to live and breathe all shades of anxiety.

Some people – mostly right-wing wankers and idiots on social medial, especially Twitter – like to jeer and poke fun at those who intimate any kind of panic over the state of things, laughing their arses off at those who perpetuated ‘project fear’ and the so-called ‘remoaners’ and scoffing at the idea that this year’s heatwave is anything to do with climate change citing the summer of ’76. But these are the same tossers who whine about health and safety and speed limits as being symptomatic of a ‘nanny state’, and also the same tossers whose kids will die after swallowing batteries or burn the house down lighting fireworks indoors.

What I’m saying is that anyone who isn’t scared is either beyond oblivious or in denial. The world is literally on fire and drowning at the same time. Fittingly, Flies is an album of contrasts, both in terms of mood and style. There are fiery, guitar-driven flamers and more introspective compositions which are altogether more subdued and post-punk in their execution.

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The title track is but a brief introduction, a rushed, desperate spoken work piece set against – at first – a tense bass and a growing tide of swelling drums and guitars that in just over a minute ruptures into a full-on flood of rage. Distilling years of anguish into a minute and a half, it’s got hints of Benefits about it, and then we’re into the snaking groove of ‘A Working Class Lad’, that sees The 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster collide with The Anti-Nowhere League in a gritty, gutsy punk blast with a surfy undercurrent.

It’s the combination of gritty synth bass and live bass guitar that drives the sound of the album. The former snarls, while that latter thuds, and in combination they pack some serious low-end punch in the way that Girls Against Boys and Cop Shoot Cop did. The synth gyrations also lend the sound a tense, robotic edge that gives it both a certain danceable bounce while at the same time heightening the anxiety of the contemporary, that sense of the dystopian futures so popular in science fiction are in fact our current lived reality.

‘In the Belly of the Beast’ is a stuttering blast of warped funk. In contrast, ‘Everything Will Be Ok’ is altogether more minimal, with hushed spoken word verses reminiscent of early Pulp, and tentative, haunting choruses which exude a subtle gothic vibe. And it all builds slowly, threatening a climax which never arrives. But then ‘Poet Boy’ drives at a hundred miles an hour and burns hard and fast to its finale in three and a half minutes.

‘DisdainGain’ comes on like Motorhead at their grittiest and most rampant, and again shows just how broad The Battery Farm’s palette is. By their own admission, they draw on elements of ‘Punk, Hardcore, Post Punk, Krautrock, Glam and Funk’, and one of the key strengths of Flies is its diversity – although its range does not make for a lack of coherence or suggest a band who haven’t found their identity, by any means. What’s more, the diversity is matched by its energy, its passion, and its sheer quality. Full of twists and turns and inspired moments of insight, Flies is a bona fide, ball-busting killer album. Fact.

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Punk Slime Records – 11th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I sometimes feel a twinge of embarrassment when I see press releases and reviews referencing bands I haven’t heard of, in that it makes me feel like I’m failing in my diligence. So when I see that So Young Magazine has described Manchester quartet Mister Strange as ‘An uncompromising cross between the manic charisma of The Dead Kennedys, and the contemporary fury of Melbourne rockers Civic’, I fleetingly think ‘shit, I’m behind the curve here’.

But then, you work with the reference points you’ve got, and this EP packs no shortage of raw punk energy, and plenty of unexpected turns, too.

There’s very much a vintage vibe to Nothing at All, and while the fuzzy, lo-fi production is an integral part of it, the fact that they play hell-for-leather garage punk with murky guitars and reverb-heavy vocals is the main factor. Back when The Strokes and The Hives and The Vines emerged to lead a garage revival shortly after the turn oof the millennium, I got the urge to dig out the various Pebbles and Nuggets compilations. Listening to this, the urge is sated by the gritty authenticity of the band’s lo-budget sound and full-throttle riiffery.

The title track leads off, starting with a raging feedback inferno before ploughing into a relentless high-octane psychedelic punk groove, before suddenly slowing to a heavy trudge that’s 70s heavy metal melted into 90s noise in the vein of Terminal Cheesecake, before reigniting the tempo and racing to the finish.

The remaining five songs aren’t quite such a rollercoaster, pushing instead a muggy, fuggy, grungy guitar style that pursues more sustained riffery and tempos, at least until they arrive at the relentless closer, ‘Rat Bench Alley’, which slugs hard.

In between, ‘Dead Weight’ is fairly standard garage fair, but it’s loud, scuzzy and punches hard, and ‘Crazy Lemon’ pushes a repetitive riff to the max. It’s pretty damn heavy duty, and it’s a decent racket.

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Strange

It’s pretty perverse to release a single entitled ‘Summer Assault’ in November, but then Dubliners Thumper are pretty perverse.

The single sees Thumper venture into new territory as they release their first brand new offering since their debut album released in 2022. The single comes off the back of their extensive European, UK and Irish tour, including sell out shows in Amsterdam, London, Paris and Dublin’s Whelan’s. The bombastic Dublin outfit have also played at Sŵn Festival in Cardiff and are gearing up for a set at RTE 2FM’s Rising on the Road.

‘Summer Assault’  is a vignette of self sabotage, an anthem of small failure. It’s about a doomed relationship that carries on regardless — a narrator banging on the glass trying to warn the song’s inhabitants. Each melody and hook competes for space over an ever expanding wall of guitars, bass and their signature double drums. In just over three minutes, ‘Summer Assault’ sees Thumper boil their trademark noise wall into an ear worm of a pop song.

It calls to mind the whirling punk-infused pop or pop-infused punk of Asylums, not just in the energy and melody, but the simultaneously soaring, buzzing guitar, and we love it.

Get your lugs round it here:

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Pioneering Boston rock band Nervous Eaters, contemporaries of bands like the Ramones, The Police, Iggy Pop, and The Pretenders, are debuting ‘End Of The World Girl,’ the next single and a video off their forthcoming album titled Monsters + Angels out November 11 via Stevie Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records.

Watch the video here:

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Of the track, singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer Steve Cataldo says, "When I wrote “END OF THE WORLD GIRL” last year, I had no idea the song might turn out to be somewhat prophetic. With so many world leaders talking about WW3 and atomic warfare, there’s no telling what might happen. I would say, today, right now, is the best time to “Heat up the oven an get some Good Lovin” going on or better yet, how about a date with a “streetwalking, sweet talking, End of The World Girl”.

Formed in the mid-70’s, the Nervous Eaters would eventually become the house band for the legendary Boston punk rock club The Rat, where they established themselves as a leading punk rock band in the Northeast, playing with a who’s who of punk and new wave luminaries, including The Police, The Ramones, The Cars, Patti Smith, Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, The Stranglers, Go-Go’s and many others.

The Cars’ Ric Ocasek produced the band’s original demos, which got the band signed to Elektra Records, and they went on to tour around the world. However, after a series of poor decisions on the part of the label, their major label debut album failed to deliver on the promise of their legendary live shows.

After dissolving the band, Nervous Eaters returned in the mid-80’s and has been revived over the years with various lineups.

The current version of the Nervous Eaters formed in 2018 and includes three other Boston rock vets, bassist Brad Hallen (of Ministry, Ric Ocasek and The Joneses), drummer David McLean (of Willie Alexander’s Boom Boom Band) and guitarist/vocalist Adam Sherman (of Private Lightning), and between them, they have recorded and/or toured with such artists as Ministry, Iggy Pop, Aimee Mann, Jane Wiedlin, Susan Tedeschi, Jimmie Vaughan, Lenny Kaye and many others.

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Photo: Carissa Johnson

Criminal Records – 28th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having released the No Guts All the Glory EP in November last year, just seven months after their second LP, False Company, Weekend Recovery have already been making announcements about album number three, to be named Esoteric. We’ll have to wait and see if it lives up to its titles promise of obscure knowledge and rare wisdom, but lead single ‘Chemtrails’ has already garnered some advance radio play and some kudos from DJs in the process.

First, it’s a snappy tune with a nagging guitar and an airy vocal hook and a load of their now trademark woo-oohs, so it’s radio-friendly, but more than that, this song packs a lot onto two minutes and eighteen seconds. Stylistically, it’s a poppy punky hybrid that’s equal parts X-Ray Spex and Shampoo. Then there’s the fact that Lori shifts into a spoken delivery for the verses: it’s not rappy, but it’s rhythmic, and puts the lyrics to the fore.

Lyrically, it’s interesting, in that it’s wide-ranging in its coverage. Now, it’s hard to pinpoint precisely when the ‘chemtrails’ debate began to really get traction, or why, other than ‘The Internet’ regarding the latter, but it starts out with the protagonist articulating mental confusion with the endless barrage of fake news and waves sending her insane, ‘chemtrails’ in her head and the endless talking, before swinging round to take what for some may seem an unexpected swipe at one of the particular strains of feminism that’s become popular among female-fronted circuit peers as she says ‘See, what you wanna do is stop being so right on / Telling girls to come forward, and stand where they belong / You jump into the crowd and shout and dance around.’ It shouldn’t be in any way divisive to point out that inverting the behaviours of patriarchal society by means of ‘positive discrimination’ is not the route to equality, but it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out, but it there needs to be the kind of discussion Weekend Recovery seem to be inviting here.

Sonically, it’s got more separation, and is less ‘wall of fuzz’ than the last album and EP, which is perhaps another factor in its radio appeal, although the drums are pretty dense and thick, a far cry from the trebly crack of the snares on so many commercial pop songs.

It’s a strong offering that has more depth than is first apparent – and that’s entirely the point: ‘Chemtrails’ is a song about questioning conformity. Because pop doesn’t have to be bland or vacant.

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Weekend Recovery by Jess Johnson

Photo by Jess Johnson

Christopher Nosnibor

With Jeffrey Dahmer being all the rage on Netflix, hot on the heels of David Tennant’s portrayal of Dennis Nilsen on ITV, serial killers are no longer the domain of weirdoes and fans of industrial music: this shit is now completely mainstream. So while Le Cycne Noir’ss latest effort may have previously been considered in dubious taste, that’s no longer the case. It’s not even ‘edgy’ now: it’s regular evening televisual entertainment. This is, in many ways, more disturbing than the subject matter itself. What happened? When did so many become so twisted? When did this shit become mainstream, and why?

And so, here we are: to mark Halloween, Le Cycne Noir is planning a special seasonal new EP release entitled ‘Death & Consequences’ (out 28th October, via Anger Management Records), which they pitch as “Returning with a harrowing set of songs all about serial killers, the renegade electronic/prog artist is leading the way with the featured single ‘Burn Bundy Burn’”. A nonstop lasughriot, then.

The cover art is as tasteless as the topic, and it’s a trashy slab of crisply-produced punk-tinged hard rock with a ska-tinged rhythm and piano and lyrics that rhyme ‘clinically insane’ and ‘10,000 volts right through your brain’. The semi-spoken verses remind me of something I can’t quite place and it’s a shade derivative, but for all its faults, it’s a solid tune and kinda fun.

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6th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Most Dinosaur Jr fans are aware of the prehistory – the band’s primordial swamps, or whatever, which saw the band emerge from she ashes of hardcore punk act Deep Wound, although significantly less seems to have been made of the band’s reunions in 2004 and 2013. But no matter – perhaps more should be being made of the work of Deep Wound’s less celebrated co-founder Scott Helland, who is one half of Frenchy and the Punk, along with Samantha Stephenson.

There’s no getting around it: it’s an awful name. Kinda corny, with connotations off Grease, it’s one of those monikers that’s so cliché It’s probably fictitious. But no, they’re real, very real, and according to their bio, ‘the duo thrive in their trademark blend of post-punk and dark folk music’. And they’ve been going for a while: their upcoming album, Zen Ghost will be their seventh long-player.

And that they do. ‘Come In and Play’ is pitched as an upbeat Siouxsie-esque delight, is the second enchanting single from their forthcoming Zen Ghost album, following the lead track ‘Mon Souvenir’. Their seventh long-player record, this will be released via the EA Recordings label on October 28th.

‘Come in and Play’ is layered, elegant, haunting fashion that combines elements of trad goth with folk, landing somewhere between Siouxsie, Skeletal family, and All About Eve. With picked acoustic guitar providing texture and detail, it’s driven by a solid bass groove. The overall feel is quite the contradiction – it’s an alternative rock song with a paired-back arrangement and quite spartan, brittle production that solidly recreates the essence of 1984.

On the surface, it’s a simple, song, but scratch to the next layer, and there’s plenty going on and then some, sonically, musically, and emotively. Stephenson’s vocal is outstanding, and the real attention-stealer here as she swoops and soars and switches from angelic drifting to a full-lunged expellation, while swiping various shades and stylistic elements in between.

‘Come in and Play’ is both haunting and confident. It’s one of those songs where you absorb the atmosphere more than you absorb any instant hook, and that’s ok – more than ok.

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Christopher Nosnibor

There’s a queue up the two flights of stairs half an hour before doors, and the front two rows are packed out long, long before Weekend Recovery are due on, a mere fifteen minutes after opening. Tonight’s event is something of an oddity. LA rock act Starcrawler, who are something of a hot ticket and have been since their emergence in 2015, being hailed as the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll – like so many before, and likely many to come – are playing a handful of UK headline dates in between festivals, with All Points east in London on August 28th and End of the Road on September 3rd. Having sold out Norwich and Liverpool at £15 a ticket, Leeds is a late addition to the tour, and free entry. It’s Friday night and of course it’s packed, and likely would have been if they’d charged, which is why this seems odd, even if they’re treating it as a warmup for End of the Road.

There’s nothing remotely warm-uppy or stop-gap showy about tonight, and there’s a buzz from the outset.

Weekend Recovery open with ‘There’s a Sense’, one of their poppier, woohoo-ey tunes, followed by a beefy ‘No Guts’ and they do a decent job of grabbing the crowd. Lori busts some Quattro moves as has become her style, and they look confident on the bigger stage with the larger audience. It’s the thick, fuzzy bass that fills the sound throughout the set, and they really seem to have hit their stride as a three-piece of late. Bringing on guest a vocalist for new song ‘In the Crowd’ it goes unexpectedly ragga/ska before piling into a lively rendition of ‘Going Nowhere’ that makes for an energetic finale to a set that no doubt won them some new fans, and deservedly so.

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Weekend Recovery

I know nothing about main support Genie Genie, but they seem to have plenty of fans already, and the Bauhaus ripping off Bowie glam gloom schtick is no real surprise, although one guy with a laptop strutting around being menacing at the start of the set rather is. Then the band’s other dozen members flood onto the stage wielding saxophones galore. It’s high theatre, but highly derivative, as the black-mulleted singer tears his tattered t-shirt from his scrawny white torso as the brass honks and parps over quivering organ pipes. All the ham and oversized crucifixes can’t compensate the mediocre material with cornball schlock horror cabaret about Jack the Ripper, guv, and of course, they go down a storm as half the room chant along with endless nananana hooks and the like. There’s no accounting for taste.

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Genie Genie

The crowd are baying for Starcrawler for a good five minutes before they arrive, and hell, they arrive. Side on, I’m badly placed for photos as lithe-as-anything beanpole Arrow de Wilde is practically a sliver from this angle and keeps vanishing behind the mic stand. What the band deliver is proper old-school rock ‘n’ roll, an assimilation of glam, punk, and hair rock played with a flamboyance and an energy that’s infectious. The crowd are rabid.

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Starcrawler

As the set progresses, I find myself growing less enthused: the band are lively but the moves swiftly become predictable and the material is average, and I find myself quite unmoved by the spectacle. Perhaps people are distracted by the appearance and delivery, and as such are oblivious to the fact that this is pretty middling rock fronted by the lovechild of Courtney Love and Mick Jagger. There’s no question that they’re completely committed to putting on a show, and they play hard, but there’s minimal interaction with the adoring audience. Maybe they’re too cool for that, but in a 350-capacity venue it feels a little bit superior – but, viewed from another angle, it’s a band worthy of the 2,000+ capacity O2 kicking out their festival. Either way, it’s hard to really fault Starcrawler: they deliver a solid set of proper old-school rock, and the fans love it.