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Top Sounds - H

H20 - Live: The Bowery Collection {MVD} As part of the neat collection of shows recorded at the legendary New York venue, CBGBs, this features H20’s first performance at the venue for a number of years. It’s pretty smoking stuff with highlights being ‘Everready’, ‘F.T.T.W’, 'I See It In Us' and a particularly impressive ‘Guilty By Association’. The band sounds tight, the banter is left intact, the recording is good. It has a vague bootleg feel - something I like greatly. During the latter part of the set it appears there are power failures with bass and one of the guitars dropping out, although the bass at least found some power for the final few tracks. I found a comment from vocalist, Toby Morse, a little odd though; just before '5 Year Plan' he asks who is vegan, before demanding a burger and starting "I'm over this vegetarian shit... but I'm still Straight Edge." It sounded very mixed (SxE mixed? Bizarre!!) and decidedly derogatory to those who are Vegan. Dunno about vegetarian shit... sounds like tough guy shit to me. It appears the hierarchy of NYHC is in attendance - CIV, AGNOSTIC FRONT and Jimmy Gestapo (MURPHYS LAW) to name three. True til death indeed!

THE HANGMEN - Spring Heeled Jack {Dislocate} I’m always very cautious of bands that hide behind a face full of make-up. It’s usually there to obscure the vacuous lyrics and/or absence of ability; think Slipknot, Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, any pasty-faced Goth band et al. Only the MISFITS and, of late, SEND MORE PARAMEDICS do it with music forceful enough to overcome the gimmick. This UK trio has horror-clown imagery and, while the music may not be horrific, it’s not too convincing either. The lead track is a ‘Silly Thing’ style SEX PISTOLian romp while the remaining three tracks are Punkish rockerbilly kinda deals that hint to TIGER ARMY and early LEATHERFACE. The band are probably a lot more convincing live than in the confines of the home, but for now, I’ll leave them to play with their lipstick while I play ‘Earth AD’.

HARD-ONS - Most People Are Nicer Than Us {Boss Tuneage} Aesthetically, this appears very similar to the disc below both in name and graphic design but, aurally, this is a very different and, I hate to say it, a weaker album. Where the disc below mixed scintillating melodies with noxious guitar riffage, this dives head first into total guitar overdose. Sure, it has some stunning moments of classic HARD-ONS raucous rocking like ‘Being Broke Is Fucked’, ‘Punky No-No’ and ‘Bottom Feeders’ but they’re counted by ridiculous HC thrashers a’la ‘Spent The Day In Hell, Was Bored’ and the dreary guitar histrionics of ‘My Style Of Attack’ to name just two. The HARD-ONS was always a band in tune with its ‘rock’ mentality but moments of this are cringe-worthy at best and annoying as fuck at worst. Gotta say though, as a HARD-ONS fan, the best bits of this make for a killer 15 minute EP and are worth face-value alone. For the curious though, avoid and check out the disc below (not to mention the 'Love Is A Battlefield Of Wounded Hearts' album) and leave this until the HARD-ONS is firmly embedded in your musical preferences!

HARD-ONS - Most People Are A Waste Of Time {Household Name} Even Jesus loves the HARD-ONS, right? Surely it’s only limp-dick Ska and Emo obsessives that fail to groove on the nuclear bubblegum Punk beats of Blackie and the boys, yeah? Australia’s greatest throws up album #10 and it’s probably the tightest yet - and the most melodic I reckon. It could even be the band’s best effort surpassing the great ‘Love Is A Battlefield’. What it is NOT, is wimpy! Blackie’s guitar still carries more weight than the POISON IDEA tour van and tracks like ‘There Goes One Of The Creeps That Hassled My Girlfriend’, ‘I’ll Get Thrush Or Something’ and ‘Poorest Kid On The Block’ had me strutting around the House Of Scanner bopping away like an epileptic chicken on crack! Other highlights include the fantastically titled, ‘What Would Stiv Bators Do’ and Blackie’s bellowing of, "I never asked for anything" during ‘Bubble Bath’. Stunning stuff. Is it too much to ask for the HARD-ONS to, ‘keep it up’??

HARD SKIN - Same Meat Different Gravy {Oi!sold Name} Eight years in the making and these self-confessed cunts finally deliver the follow-up to the profanity-laden, hippie-stompin’ debut ‘Hard Nuts For Hard Cunts’. And what d’ya fackin’ know? It’s more of the same rumbustious, bellicose, laugh-a-minute Oi!. From the opening proclamation of none tougher that is ‘Hard Stuff’ through the turbo-charged blitzkrieg of ‘Who’s The Boy’ to the closing proclamation that mirrors that of the opening, ‘Skin Hard’, this is a corker. The joke has not worn thin and the fact that most of these songs, while lyrically setting out to offend in a tongue-in-cheek way, are solidly constructed and piss on most sincere Oi! bands is either tribute to Fat Bob, Johnny Takeaway and Nipper or blatantly shows up the tiresome limitations set by other Oi! bands on themselves. Imagine BLITZ, SHAM 69 and COCKNEY REJECTS with DICKIES humour and early SNUFF power with a hint of CLASH guitar licks thrown in and you got a fackin’ riot of Punk Rock and Oi! that’s as incisive as it is hilarious.

HATEPINKS - Tete Malade/ Sick In The Head {TKO} Seven tracks in nine minutes sounded like my kinda record! Unfortunately, LES HATEPINKS did not convince. Think Brit ‘77 Punk a la SNIVELLING SHITS, VAPORS and BUZZCOCKS, mix that with some AGENT ORANGE guitar lines and MINT CHICKS craziness and I guess you’ll have an idea of this mid-paced freako Pop Punk sound. It started well with the aggressive ‘Sexual Liberation Is For Animals’ which is followed by the infectious title track. From there, it’s all down hill. Lyrics seem throwaway and vacuous and musically it’s just too damn slow to convince. Even at nine minutes, it went on a bit too long for me. Certainly not a patch on fellow Frenchmen LES THUGS or NEUROTIC SWINGERS. The 10" picture disc is limited to 500 if ya interested.

HAUNTED GEORGE - Bone Hauler {Dead Beat} My fucking god... What the hell is this?? Take an incredibly under-produced and crap CRAMPS and mix that with the decomposing corpse of an incredibly under-produced and crap Johnny Cash and request the out come to be worse than either party could ever imagine and you’ll be close to this putrefying horror-Punk-country turd. For the record, HAUNTED GEORGE used to be in THE BEGUILED and NECESSARY EVIL. These 14 tracks (+ a Roki Erickson cover) represent the best stuff George has recorded since his move to the Mojave Desert. All I can say is... it’s a shame the snakes didn’t get him first.

GIBBY HAYNES AND HIS PROBLEM - s/t {Surfdog} "I’ll be the Kaiser, you’ll wear the diapers," is the first line of lyrics from the latest HAYNES long-player and it heralds a total return to form after a few hit and miss solo ventures. Wall-of-noise guitars, subtle melancholic timbres, deranged lyrical mutations and psychedelic modulations that finger your brain from the earlobe in have replaced the electronica that infiltrated a lot of his previous solo work. It definitely has more allure on the noisier, guitar-drenched tracks when those ‘Gibbytronix’ vocals come into play, as on ‘Kaiser’, ‘Charlie’, ‘15000’ and the closing, dismissive, damning and combustible fuck-filled ‘Redneck Sex’. Whatever sounds Gibby feeds us, you never ever forget that you are entrenched in the wonderful, scary, hallucinogenic and surreal world of the great GIBBY HAYNES. Former BUTTHOLE SURFERS band mate, Paul Leary, produces and guests on a few tracks too. Is it Punk? Not when compared with ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE (thankfully!!), but it is if uncompromising, inventive and decidedly non-mainstream sonic assaults figure in your definition of Punk - just like the BUTTHOLES. Surfdog Recs, 1126 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA

HATEWORK - Thrash ‘N’ Roll {Beer City} Beer City has released some awesome records recently so I guess things had to eventually falter - & falter they have with this slab of Thrash Metal. HATEWORK are from Italy & peddle an early Metallica/Slayer Metal deal. When it’s good, or at least improved, as on ‘I.D.T’ & ‘I Don’t Care’, it’s snapping at the heals Punk-influenced thrash & pretty corrosive. Generally though, this is generic Thrash Metal (complete with guitar solos & even a fucking drum solo on ‘Radio Madness’) with bad lyrics about boozing, headbanging (c’mon!!) & the devil. ‘War Again’ sees the band possessing a social conscience, but then it’s followed by a tune called ‘Gateway To Hell’ which renders any sincerity redundant. I bet the guys at Kerrap! will cream their black spandex over this.

HEARTTHROB - At Home With The Rebels {Eugene} Coming outta Lexington, KY is HEARTTHROB - a band made up of various Lexy Punks and doing something more akin to AC/DC than MDC. Opener ‘Gone To Texas, ‘Day One Of Sobriety’ and ‘Broken Hearts’ display moments of mid-era D.O.A. pace and passion, plus there’s the odd sprinkle of a straight-faced TURBONEGRO sound, but it’s all too often ruined with a real ‘rock’ breakdown. ‘You Can Bet Your Liver’ in particular employs too many rock cliches and proves the low-point of the nine tracks here. Not bad, but a little less PEARL JAM and a lot more snotty, wham-bam-thank-you-mam could do wonders. Could be killer live I reckon.

HERESY - 1985-’87 {Boss Tuneage} First in a series of reissues for these legends of Britcore. There are 19 bellowing, grimacing slabs of gnarly thrash that kick off with the unreleased demo from ‘85. Then you get the 6-track flexi (whatever happened to the great flexi-disc huh?) ‘Never Healed’. Move forward 18 months, replace vocalists and there is a harder, less Metal approach to the band’s sound. Here you get a couple of unreleased practice tracks plus the blazing ‘Thanks’ EP. Soundwise, there’s a distinct DISCHARGE vibe, especially on the earlier, more lyrically apocalyptic tracks if mixed with something akin to the INSTIGATORS on speed! Great liner notes with a heap of pics too.

HERESY - Face Up To It! {Boss Tuneage} Totally remastered and rejuvenated version of HERESY’s only full album. It was around this time (‘88) that I can recall seeing the band for the second time and being really impressed. Successive sightings never let me down either and certain tracks on this album certainly brought back the memories - opener ‘Consume’, ‘Belief’ and ‘Against The Grain’ in particular. The remix has totally changed the muddy sound of the original - this is vibrant, cutting and fast as hell. I still hear a nod to the INSTIGATORS, which is something I never picked up before, only this time played via DRI. Besides the original 17-track album you get 12 unreleased tracks from various practices. Great place for the curious to start and those who own the original will be surprised at how fresh this sounds. The remix has certainly done justice to what was always a damn fine album.

HHH - Discographia Completa {B-Core} A massive double CD compiling 115 songs of primal HC from this infamous Spanish band. You actually get everything the band recorded (including two versions of the 'A Por Ellos' album - the released version and a pre-mix version) including demos, singles, compilation tracks and both albums!! The sound is undiluted HC, reckless in places with hints of Metal thrown in (some of you may know the band mutated into the HC/Metal Crossover band OVERTHHHROW) - think CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES, SIEGE - fast, grizzled and cacophonous HC. There are a heap of highlights, but spanned over two discs the whole thing gets a bit one-dimensional. I prefer Spain’s other notable HC heroes, SUBTERRANEAN KIDS much more than this but taken in short doses this is impressive, pulverising HC Punk.

HILLBILLY NIGHTMARE - Dirt Rock Demons {Sonic Swirl} 11 tracks of dirty, noxious Rock 'n' Roll from this 5-piece outta Michigan. The name of the album is quite apt as this is the very definition of Dirt Rock. The guitars are thick and driven, the rhythm loose but relentless and the vocalist sounds like he'll bite your head off - but only after he's finished his bourbon and nicotine fix. As for sound comparisons - all the obvious - ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN, TURBO ACs, HELLACOPTERS etc. It didn't really thrill me to be honest - there are too many bands doing this stuff and this just did not stand out from the pile enough to get me spitting and kicking and swilling. I'm sure the band is killer live and I'm those with a greaser Rock obsession will love this, but I'd have liked it a little faster and a bit more spikey!

HOLLYWOOD BRATS - s/t {Cherry Red} I’d only ever heard of the BRATS legend - never the music. For those that don’t know, the BRATS featured Casino Steel who went onto London Punks, THE BOYS (and who digitally mastered this release). Recorded in Dec ‘73, this is best described as the UK equivalent of NEW YORK DOLLS. There’s the same dress sense, make-up, arrogance and general disgust of a bloated, dull music scene. The sound is raw, ragged and abso-fucking-lutely joyous! There are formative versions of future BOYS classics ‘Tumble With Me’ and ‘Sick On You’ that are slower but nastier. Other choice cuts of Brattishness are opener ‘Chez Maximes’, the FACES-esque drunken beauty of ‘Drowning Sorrows’ and ‘Southern Belles’ (which I am sure mutated into another BOYS track). This is way more real and way more ‘Punk’ than another fucking NUFAN album or the macho-bluster of another tired Metalcore disc. You also get great liner notes from ex-band members. This reeks of attitude, confidence and decadence. Wonderful stuff that thankfully will never be understood by your average STONES fan.

HORROR OF 59 - Screams From The Cellar {Sonic Swirl} Ho-hum… another band with 'Horror' in its name - and whatcha know? It's another band quite happy to rip the MISFITS. It's OK, proficient and really rather slick and polished in fact - 'Beware' it is not! There are also hints of the HARD ONS, but c'mon… 'Moonville Spooks'? 'Frankenstein Returns'? 'Graveyard Beyond The Woods'?? Haha!! Not exactly angry, embittered Punk Rock. What are these guys kicking against - the living??? Sure, the band rocks but Horror Punk of such a generic form as this fails to lift me off the sofa, let alone raise the dead.

HORROR STORY - Grave Robbers From Outer Space {Demon Nation Hmm… I really don't grasp the Horror-Punk genre. I mean, THE MISFITS have already defined it with both 'Walk Among Us' and 'Earth A.D.' Also, given my distrust of bands adorned in make-up (see Hangmen review above), I approached this 20-track slab from this New Plymouth 4-piece with less than expectant ears. What did I get? A convincing MISFITS-style slice of buzzsaw guitars and Danzig meets Vanian vocals. It's very much in the 'Walk Among Us' realms of tempo with some added rock 'n' roll guitar riffing. Gotta say though, some of the "wo-oh" backing vocals were way off the mark. 'Transylveiniac' stood out because the vocals really went for it. Other highlights include 'Tombstone' (which is also here in video form), 'Dead Of Night' and 'Blood White Wolves'. The band have European and American distribution, which should state that they do this Horror-Punk thing with suitable aplomb.

HORROR STORY - Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein {Demon Nation} Oh, way more convincing than the disc above. This features two demos, the newest of which was recorded in early 2004, after the release of the disc above. It shows a greater individual identity with less reliance on the MISFITS sound, although that influence is still really apparent. Stand outs have to be 'Angelique' and 'Watch 'Em Die' that are clearly more confident, powerful and convincing. 'Bring The Fire' has a heavier feel and new drummer, Craig Psycho, seems to have added a bit of power and cohesion. Shame it's only 7 tracks. The final 8 songs are from a 2000 demo which reverts to the MISFITS basis and shares more traits with the disc above. It's OK - 'Fiends' in particular - but the stand out gear are the new songs.

HOSTAGE LIFE - White Jesus {Black Pint} First ever 7” from one of the most fantastic bands around in 2008. There are three trademark originals here. The title track is a blazing diatribe with lots of energy, great arrangements and Colin’s barbed, Keith Morris-esque vocal never sounding better. ‘New Drugs’ is a less-intense meander (for HO LIFE at least) while ‘Hostage Life’s Young Wards’ re-ignites the adrenalin fires with some tight stops, choice guitar lines and yet another killer HO LIFE chorus. The last track is an absolute killer take on WIRE’s ‘Mr. Suit’ that’s given a unique HOSTAGE LIFE spirit of its own. Totally killer stuff from a band I cannot recommend enough. Essential.

HOSTAGE LIFE - Sing For The Enemy {Household Name} Hell fire and brimstone!! I’m blitzed! This 18 min, 9 tracker is that all-too-rare disc that makes you scream in anger, laugh out loud with its cynicism, sing-a-long, pogo like there’s no tomorrow and dance like a Tasmanian Devil! It’s a cracker - catchy, intelligent, original and expertly played. There’s a big nod toward DILLINGER FOUR if mixed with the explosive power of KID DYNAMITE and the tight precision of THE DESCENDENTS. Lyrics are awesome, attacking label-wearing fashion victims, exploitive bosses, freedom and much more which are all written in a lateral way of thinking that’s both bitter and amusing.

HOSTAGE LIFE - Walking Papers {Household Name} I fucking love this band! The above EP was a cracker and this, the debut album, could well be hailed as a classic in years to come. The band has lost none of the immediacy present on the EP, but has added the sonic rock of prime time ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT (think ‘Circa:Now’ or ‘Hot Charity’), the abrasive charm of CRIMPSHRINE and a general bombast to the sound that’s like acupuncture with 9" nails driven in by a jackhammer. Tracks like the brooding ‘Securing My Seat’ show a progression in sound while retaining all of the caustic charm of before. ‘Hell Awaits Hostage Life’ demonstrates a more lateral direction to lyric writing and it works to stunning effect; it’s probably one of the most spot on songs about religion that I have ever heard. Other tracks address mortality, corporate sponsorship and unplanned pregnancy. Each one is a snotty, compulsive work of Punk Rock genius. Awesome - just fucking awesome.