Posts Tagged ‘Punk’

4th February 2022

James Wellsz

Quebec City’s Still Insane are punk to the core, and the ‘Black Sheep’ EP represents their first output since 2017’s ‘Friends & Family’ EP. According to their bio, ‘Their goal is simple: to play fast, to play loud, and to play everywhere.’. and since they can’t really play anywhere much right now, they might as well focus on the other two goals.

Still Insane have announced their new ‘Black Sheep’ EP out February 4th and have released the title track. It’s the band’s first new music since 2017’s ‘Friends & Family’ EP.

The first cut, ‘Sleeping on the Floor’ is the longest of the five, and after a slow, atmosphere building intro, it slams into a hell-for-leather fast-and—furious melodic funk anthem bursting with energy and harmonies. Around halfway through, there’s a vocal switch from male to female, then back again.

The title track is heavier by far, but the song itself isn’t anywhere near as heavy as the intro implies will follow; for all the industrial chug of the instrumental passages, which allude to 90s Ministry, it’s still got pop at its heart: the same is true of the minute-long ‘No More Targets’ which lands with a plummeting nosedive into Dead Kennedys terrain, as does the frenetic thrashabout of ‘Stay Home’. The last track, ‘Thank You, and…’ is very much your standard middle of the road melodic punk that could be anything post-millennium, although the band prefer to cite the bands they’ve supported, like NOFX and Bad Religion.

The guitar solos may be wince-inducing by virtue of their existence alone, but they’re kept brief and to the point, and while the ‘melodic punk’ tag doesn’t seem to carry much weight, I’d rather be dealing with the proper raw and rage than some tame intimation. On Black Sheep, Still Insane don’t inspire me much. But then, little does. Life is hard like that.

AA

Black Sheep EP Cover

Space & I Records – 21st January 2022

January is always a shitter. Whether you love Christmas or loathe it, or even if you’re largely indifferent, January is invariably a slump month of epic proportions. Those of us who aren’t mad keen on Christmas tend to cling to the light at the end of the tunnel that is new year, not because of the New Year celebrations, but because of the prospect of things getting back to normal, where everyone isn’t flapping about doing Christmas shopping and your mates aren’t in an endless conveyor-belt of work and other social commitments and might actually have time for just a pint and a chat, and because gigs and regular social activities resume and you can turn on the TV, radio or walk into a shop without hearing wall-to-wall fucking Christmas tunes.

But no, everyone’s skint, the ones who aren’t are doing dry January and not going out, and the days are short and cold and miserable and Christ, it’s bleak. And for the self-employed, the unsalaried, those in the arts, it’s even bleaker, especially during a pandemic. But then, as ‘Happy Birthday payday’ reminds us, staying afloat in the arts is hard at anytime.

It’s ironic that while mainstream chart musicians are lauded and the pop icon is considered aspirational, those who actually commit themselves to the graft of being in a proper band – or pursuing creative activities like writing or visual arts as a means of earning a living are relentlessly knocked back for being dreamers or unrealistic. Granted, it’s only very few who achieve the heights of Coldplay or Radiohead, or JK Rowling or Damien Hirst, but that isn’t to say that an equitable living shouldn’t be out of reach for the many in the lower echelons, and it simply shouldn’t be the case that tends of thousands of streams on Spotify or iTunes translates to less than the price of a pint.

Moses aren’t a band who are willing to compromise to turn that pint into a round: ‘Happy Birthday Payday’ is culled from their second album, Almost Everything Is Bullshit, which is not only a cracking title but a verifiable fact in this time of endless fakery, but one that’s unlikely to see it garner much mainstream radio play. Similarly, while ‘Happy Birthday Payday’ is a strong tune, bursting with energy and hooks, and with a nagging quasi-rockabilly guitar-line and some storming bass runs, it’s hardly zeitgeist. It’s cut from the punkier end of post-punk, and could have been part of the early 90s New Wave of New Wave ‘movement’ hyped by the press. It’s fast, furious, and spirited, and exactly the kind of tunage we need on offer beyond the mainstream – which is why outsider acts need to be viable, because without them, we’re fucked.

20th December 2021

Christmaser Nosnibor

Hah, bumbug, I chunter churlishly, amusing myself with a spoonerism to lighten my grim mood. And fuck Christmas, I usually add under my breath daily from around Hallowe’en as I realise it’s already impossible to find birthday cards for friends and family with birthdays in November.

It’s not that I hate Christmas per se, just all the capitalist cash-in shit that accompanies it. And the false frivolity, and office parties, and the shit adverts and the fact I’m supposed to eat my own body weight in mice pies and party foods every day for six weeks. At least thanks to remote working and Covid, I don’t have to make excuses to avoid office Christmas nights out (although staying for just two drinks before telling colleagues I had to get a train to Leeds to review Oozing Wound a few years back wasn’t so awful, although people were already getting pissed up and lairy by six in the evening, so my escape wasn’t a minute too soon). Oh, and Christmas singles. I fucking hate Christmas singles. This statement should require not qualification, but in case anyone’s wondering, it’s because they’re all gash.

Ok, so for every rule there is an exception. Does charity maketh the exception? Nah, not really. I mean, Band Aid… To be fair, it’s not the effort I take issue with on the original Band Aid single, so much as some of the lyrics. ‘Tonight thanks God it’s them instead of you!’ Bono roars bombastically. No. Absolutely fucking no. Was it (Sir) Bob or Midge that wrote that? It’s a horrible sentiment, rendered all the worse by fucking Bono’s delivery. And do predominantly non-Christian countries know it’s Christmas? Probably, but do they give a shit? Probably not, especially when they’re starving. In Africa, though, where Christianity is the leading religion, I expect they would, but snow has no place in all of that.

Ska-tinged trad-punk act Seeds of 77, who came to my attention with the release of their Lockdown Breakout’ single back in May, recorded a Christmas single as a challenge from a radio station last year, raising over £1,100 for UK homeless charities in the process. If re-releasing it a year later seems a bit Slade, it’s worth noting they’ve rerecorded it and updated the lyrics, nominating Brighton-based The Clock Tower Sanctuary which supports 16 to 25-year-olds sleeping rough or in emergency housing as this year’s recipient of the proceeds.

Opening with an organ swell of ‘In the Deep Midwinter’ with chiming sleighbells, they swiftly move on to a mid-tempo rockalong that conjures arms round shoulders swaying and lofting pints to the sociopolitical lyrics. It’s the softer, more pub-rock side of punk, and the solo’s a bit Bryan May, but you know what? It’s alright. And even if it wasn’t, fuck it, buy it anyway: it’s a decent band doing a good thing for a good cause. And they’re not fucking Bono.

AA

a2898651955_10

New Heavy Sounds – 29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Back in the early 90s, when riot grrrl emerged as a thing, the UK inkies were all over it, just as they were all over anything that looked like being the next movement (who remembers The New Wave of New Wave, or The Scene that Celebrates Itself?) and sometimes, when there wasn’t anything, then they’d sometime just shoehorn some random bands into a bracket and give it a name and see if it would stick (Romo, anyone?). At that time, the music press proselytised hard, gushing about the way that hearing bands was like an epiphany – and every other band, apart from the shit ones, all of whom were call really fucking shit, were a complete revelation, as expressed by means of a smorgasbord of extravagant similes and extended metaphors.

Of course, what goes around comes around, and riot grrrl has been making a return for a while now. It’s fitting for the times when issues of gender identity and the difficulties women face every day in society are at the forefront of discussion. It’s the real grrrl power, it’s about liberation, and a reminder to those who need reminding – which is seemingly half the planet – that women can rock just as hard and kick just as much arse as guys, if not more so.

So it’s fair to say that in being transported some way back in time, Shooting Daggers’ debut release for New Heavy Sounds – a 7” flexi no less, that comes with a fold out insert, A4 poster, sticker and badge in a poly bag in a limited run of 250 – does yield a rush that’s tinged with nostalgia (although back in the 90s you’d be legging it round your local record shops to see if you could score a copy. According to their PR, ‘Sal, Bea and Raquel are a visceral amalgam of hardcore punk, riot grrrl and metalcore. They describe themselves as a feminist punk/queercore outfit who cite their influences as bands like Gouge Away, G.L.O.S.S, Turnstile and Gel.’

‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is a minute and fifty-one seconds of guitar driven shouty punk fury ‘It’s all about you!!’ Salomé Pellegrin snarls over the fuzzed-out thrash. There’s no subtext here: this is as direct and angry as it gets.

As if the point needs making any more explicitly, they double down on the vitriol on the B-side. ‘You look so sexy tonight, you make me want to dismantle the patriarchy’ – so starts ‘Missandra’ before a thick, lumbering grunge riff grinds in. Is it right to respond to hate with more hate? Perhaps not but misandry at this point in history is understandable, and it’s beyond time that men need to collectively own the centuries of shit perpetrated against women. No buts, no excuses. And it’s a corking song, too. They pack a hell of a lot into a fraction over three minutes here, switching the tempo up to go full hardcore punk, and yes, it’s a no-messing and much-deserved knee in the balls, the likes of which deserves to dismantle the patriarchy, one by one.

AA

a2694841369_10

17th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a track just slaps you round the face in just a matter of bars and it’s an instant grab. It’s not always possible to pinpoint what it is that’s got you by the throat in those mere seconds, but sometimes, it’s simply everything – and that’s the case for ‘Mr Obsanity’, the debut single, from London / Norway trio Borderline Toxic, who’ve come stumbling out of lockdown with all the rage and a new band on their hands, proving tat when it comes to creativity and collaboration, geography is no obstacle. If / when it comes to operating as a live unit, it may, but for now, let’s focus on the matter at hand – that of this release.

It tears from the speakers with a ball-bustingly weighty riff with grating distortion all over it. If the intro is pure sludge, then things fizz all the harder when the vocals arrive, all punky sass as they swipe hard at powerful figures who swing around casual misogyny racism like it’s ok – and it’s not.

‘Obsanity’ is one of those compound words – of which I am a fan, I have to admit – that had somehow bypassed me, and so I had to look it up to find that the definition, as noted way back in 2004, is ‘foul language uttered by an insane person’. And without naming names – just as the band don’t name names – the song’s targets are at best thinly veiled, but in rendering the lyrics non-explicit, they become applicable on a wider scale. It’s not just high profilers who this applies to: we all know at least one or two of these types in person, at work, on social media, and you find yourself thinking, shut up. I really don’t need to listen to this shit.

Settling into a lumbering groove, ‘Mr Obsanity’ really kicks ass, and we need more of this.

Borderline Toxic Artwork

Dance To The Radio Records – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Between 2005 and 2011, Dance to the Radio was the label that wasn’t lonely synonymous with the Leeds scene, it practically was the Leeds scene, and contributed to putting the city and its bands back on the map, releasing The Pigeon Detectives, Forward Russia, This Et Al, iLiKETRAiNS, and Grammatrics, as well as a number of wide-ranging compilations featuring the like of Pulled Apart by Horses. Returning in 2017 after a six-year hiatus, they’ve focused on a small but carefully-curated roster, giving a home to Tallsaint, Aural Aggro faves Dead Naked Hippies, Jake Whiskin, and Hull’s Low Hummer, who may be relatively new but have established themselves quickly, showcasing an energetic alt-rock sound that incorporates elements of grunge, punk, postpunk, and electro-pop with potent results. Debuting in October 2019 with the single ‘I Choose Live News’, the band have marked a steadily upward trajectory in the profile stakes ever since.

Granted, over half the tracks on Modern Tricks For Living have been released as singles in the last couple of years or so, making this as much a compilation as an album proper, but nevertheless, it hangs together nicely, on account of its stylistic unity and lyrical themes, and it’s well sequenced too, with the ups and downs just where they need to be.

Classic themes of angst, anxiety, and alienation dominate, and they never grow tired or fade. They possess a universality and an eternal relevance. The power and passion of the emotions may fade with age, but they never go away: most disaffected teens still feel it, unless they sell out and become self-satisfied, complacent parts of the machine. And some do – I’ve lost friends that way – but many of us still burn with the anguish of adolescence. As such, despite the band’s youth, there’s a universality in their appeal.

‘These days I feel like I’m dead’: the drawling vocal on ‘Tell You What’ is pure grunge nihilism, but there’s a sparkly electropop aspect to it, too. And the more you delve into Modern Tricks For Living, the more detail and the more canny crafting it reveals: amidst the brashy, trashy surface, there’s a lot more going on. These songs aren’t superficial, rushed, three-chord thrashes – well, they are, but they’re a lot more besides, and that’s the appeal of Low Hummer.

‘Take Arms’ packs some attack and makes for a strong opener. It doesn’t waste any time in planting a powerful earworm, with a motorik beat and bubbling synth bass providing the spine of a spiky punky indie banger that’s pure 90s in its vibe – the guitars fizz and the shouty female backing vocals reactive the riot grrrl sound and it kicks hard.

One of the few tracks not to have been released previously, ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’, is an exuberant, bouncy paean to boredom that powers through in a whirl of synths in two and three quarter minutes, and it’s exhilarating, and ‘I Choose Live News’ crashes in as the third track, and it’s another relentless rush.

The Curesque ‘Never Enough’ (one suspects the title isn’t entirely accidental either) brings a change of tempo and switches the full-throttle fizz for an altogether dreamier form. It’s well-placed, and proves they’re not one-dimensional or one-pace, hinting at a range that they’re yet to fully explore. Slinging lines like ‘I hate this place / I hate the world’ , they pack in the angst and nihilism

‘Sometimes I Wish’ has some neat bass runs and a cyclical guitar riff that builds, while a wild lead part tops it all off. The tempo change towards the end is both unexpected and well-executed. ‘Slow One’ isn’t all that slow, but these things are all relative, and ‘The People, This Place’, another previous single release provides a blistering finale. And what can I say? This is a cracking album from beginning to end, that presents a solid selection of songs. Modern Tricks For Living is exciting and exhilarating, and it’s as simple as that.

AA

313014

Nefarious Industries

Christopher Nosnibor

Less than two years after the release of the ambient avant-jazz oddity that was CCXMD (that’s not some random Roman numeralisation, but Cinema Cinema X Matt Darriau (The Klezmatics), the New York duo return for round two of their collaboration with the astutely-titled CCXMDII.

Let’s get the spoiler out of the way up front and early: they couldn’t have shifted further from their noise roots, and there really isn’t an overloading guitar riff in the whole album. If CCXMD was avant-jazzy and ambient, CCXMDII is avant-jazzier and more ambient. Having laid the foundations previously, it’s not so much of a shock, but anyone hoping for a return to their riffier roots will be disappointed by this weirdy, spaced-out experimental work.

It contains but seven tracks, although three of them are over ten minutes in duration, including the eighteen-minute opener ‘A Life of its Own’, which was unveiled as the album’s lead single a couple of weeks ago. And here, Cinema Cinema push further still than on their previous album, with those seven tracks bleeding together to forge one, vast continuous piece.

It begins tentatively, with tremulous, trilling woodwind and some scratchy strumming. Sounds echo and reverberate and voices mumble in a blurred, slowed, hallucinated state that’s most unsettling, and slowly transitions from some shilled, chiming new-age desert vibe into an increasingly bad trip as unintelligible jabbering spits and slurs angrily against the warping backdrop and swelling percussion – and that’s before the crazed jazz horns begin to bray and parp.

There are definite ebbs and flows, but not necessarily correspondent with the transitions between the tracks, and ponderous guitar and trepidatious woodwind teeter precariously through ‘Continued’, which is less of a piece in its own right than a bridge toward the nine-minute ‘Bratislava’. Guitars scrape and the drums stutter and test the waters and levels, and it actually sounds like a band checking their levels between songs during a live show than anything. There are some exploratory post-rock moments, but they’re fleeting, and even when the rhythm section finds a groove, it’s but for a short time and ultimately frustrating and unsatisfying, chopping and changing in a mathy fashion – which is fine in itself, but for the lack of a resolution, a crescendo, a finish. Instead, it peters out and squeaks and toots into the next piece.

The trilling woodwind – pan-pipes or similar – are all over the meandering piece and while the percussion rolls, the guitar is pegged back to providing mere texture, and there is no question that the band have shunned pretty much all ‘rock’ trappings here. The raspy, chthonic vocal whispering and manic hollering returns, before it trickles down into ‘Crack of Dawn’ with its stop / start arrhythmic percussion, hovering drones and eerie formlessness.

It’s not until the penultimate track that we get power chords. There is silence, briefly, before ‘Trigger’, which is unexpectedly led by a stop/start drum and hesitant bass groove that eventually emerges as a core motif. Imagine Shellac with brass instead of vocals, and you probably get the idea. It locks into a motoric krautrock groove – but that freewheeling wild horn action is something else. It brings chaos, it brings discord, riding wild all over some wild improv.

CCXMDII isn’t an easy album, and it’s not the punk or guitar-led set some may have expected. But it is a bold, daring work, one that sees a band who don’t give a fuck about conventions or expectations demonstrating that lack of fucks musically. Every band says they’re making music for themselves, but hardly any mean it. These guys do. CCXMDII is also a wonderfully odd abstract soundscapes that drifts and meanders and entertains and perplexes. CCXMDII is the work of a band in continual evolution, and long may that evolution continue.

AAAAA

CCXMDII_album_art_final_cropped_cover

Chapter 22 – 24th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

On 31 December 2019, writing on Yur Mum’s explosive Ellipsis EP, I closed with the lines ‘Fuck it, for my last review of the year, and of the decade, I’ll put it out there: 2020 is going to be Yur Mum’s year. And if it isn’t, then I give up.’ There was no way of knowing that 2020 would be no-one’s year, if it could even be considered a year rather than an immense, bleak desert of time without form or meaning. If it seems as if in 2021 we’re now just starting to emerge from a long dormant spell, it’s perhaps worth realising that it’s already the end of June and we’re past the longest day.

Still, it’s been a while in the gestation, but Yur Mum having scored a deal with Chapter 22, finally get to unveil their second full-length album, Tropical Fuzz. Apart from ‘Sweatshop’, the lead single form the aforementioned Ellipsis EP, this is a completely new set of material, penned since they cut back from a trio to a duo in 2019, and it feels very much like an album, a cohesive work that’s been planned and structured, with the second half comprising noticeably shorter songs as it builds up and races to the finish.

‘Banana Republic’ comes belting out of the traps with a colossal lumbering riff, the gritty, grainy bass and thunderous drumming tight as you like. There’s such a density to the sound that it punches you right in the stomach, and the production captures that live feel magnificently.

‘Black Rainbow’, premiered at the start of the year, marks a change of tone and tempo, with its slower pace, and more theatrically gothic feel, it’s a dark, brooding beast of a song that showcases another facet of Anelise Kunz’s vocal range.

It’s on third track, ‘Crazy’ where they deliver on the pitch of ‘more cowbell, more fuzz’, as drummer Fabio Couto goes all Blue Oyster Cult and Kunz grinds out a doozer bassline while coming on like Courtney Love, with a drawling sneer and full-lunged roar, and they pack the belters in back-to-back, the driving alt-pop of ‘Dig Deep’ is a fast and furious two-and-a-half minute harmony-filled rush of adrenaline. They step up the volume and fuzz another few notches with ballsy grunger ‘Kiss and Tell’.

The pairing of the jarring, ribcage-rattling ‘Sweatshop’ and the raucous hard-rock attack of the title track makes for a killer finale.

Each song feels fully honed, distilled to its optimal strength, with no fat or faffing about – this is, of course, one benefit of being a two-piece: there’s not a lot to faff about with – breakdowns and extended solos simply don’t work with such a minimal format, but where Yur Mum really make it work for them is that they achieve a maximal sound. And that sound is a driving, punky blast of energy that feels great.

AA

Yur Mum Press Shot 2

4th June 2021 (Knight)

Kids… every year they get younger, right? It’s a poor quip poorly executed, one that cropped up when I was teaching at a university as lecturers joked about how every year the students got younger. Bands who aren’t yet old enough to drink at the venues they perform tend to be met with an equal blend of awe and scoffing. Both are equally unfair: why should anyone assume that age is a measure by which any musician should be judged? Being wowed because of ability that’s advanced ‘for their age’ is as discriminatory as commenting on how a band from the 70s are still ‘good for their age’. It’s also a criticism of sort, as if they’re not actually good on their own merits.

So instead of either being wowed by their youthful talent or knocking them for being a bunch of millennials with an agenda, let’s see what this quartet consisting of Noah Lonergan (vocals and guitar), Amber Welsh (bass), Michael Barlingieri (guitar), and Harry Heard (drums) are actually about.

They speak for Gen Z, with songs about global warming and toxic masculinity to racism and corruption. And yes, we need bands with conscience, and we need bands who are politically engaged. THIS is how the future happens. Anyone who decries a ‘woke’ agenda and bitches about ‘snowflakes’ can fuck off, because we know they’re all middle-aged, middle-class white men with a comfortable platform from which to decry ‘cancel culture’.

Polarized Eyes met in primary school and came together as a band in 2018. Tom Robinson loves them, John Kennedy (Radio X). Jack Saunders at Radio 1 also rated their single ‘Real Boys’, and they will probably dig this too.

It’s just shy of two minutes of guitar-driven, there-chord punk energy that’s pure punk, coupled with the raw power of grunge. Ther’s some wicked reverb going on with the vocal, and Lonergan belts it out with real force – but there’s something more to his voice than that, masking it one you want to hear more of. It’s a rush. It’s also a straight-up killer single by any measure.

AA

Its Not An Accident, Its Love_artwork_jpeg

26th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Yes! Yes! Yes! This single cut from London four-piece Ravenfangs is appropriately titled. Clocking in at two and a half minutes, it’s an explosion of fizzy, grungy, overdriven guitars powered by angst and frustration, Recapturing the spirit of Nirvana and blending it with a certain punk sensibility, it’s lack of polish is a significant part of the appeal.

This is the best of DIY, and this is what happens when people have had enough. They don’t hang about, they don’t wait for opportunities or offers – they get on and make their own and do it all themselves. It was the emergence of punk that saw bands first shun the conventional industry-centred models, and the age of home recording and the Internet has finally rendered the production and release of music an egalitarian, open proposition.

The beauty is that truly anyone can pick up a guitar – hell, you don’t even need that, just a laptop or a phone these days – and offload all that emotion, everything that you need to vent, and put it out there.

Starting off with a thick, buzzing bassline played with a gut-punching urgency, ‘Rage’ crashes in full throttle with everything else all going hell-for-leather all at once. It’s unpretentious, unpolished, and exciting because it’s real, a sneering blast of righteous alt-rock, and packs a proper punch with no pretence, no pissing about. Raw, rough, ready, this is where it’s at.

AA

U1YpMVKI