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Top Sounds - H

HALO OF FLIES - Music For Insect Minds {MVD/ Amphetamine Reptile) Always had a soft spot for these Rock ‘n’ Roll noisemeisters from Minneapolis. If ya didn’t know, the band included one Tom Hazelmyer who founded Am Rep Records. This collects 29 of the band’s tracks together, spanning the band’s whole tenure from 1985 through to 1991. If ya never heard the band, think Nuggets-style 60s Garage Punk amped up on MUDHONEY’s gear, twisted into a convulsive, direct jack-hammer punch with a vocal that simultaneously hangs on a Midwest drawl while spitting contempt and you have the kinda perfect fusion of Garage and Grunge in one noxiously burning trio. There are heaps of crackers here be it the classic opener ‘Rubber Room’, a fuzztone cover of ‘How Does It Feel To Feel’, ‘I’m Clean’, the scorching ‘Easy Or Hard’ and ‘Death Of A Fly’ (where Hazelmyer sounds a tad similar to Darby Crash in parts) to name a few. On the negative, there is the odd moment where a tiresome jam-work out of wah-wah guitars and free-form noise rock jamming creeps in, most notably at the end of ‘D.D.T. Fin 13’. At 29 tracks, it’s a bit too much to absorb in one hit. Taken in smaller chunks though, it’s a broiling blister of bastardised Blues. (10.07.16)

HANOI ROCKS - All Those Wasted Years {Dissonance} More often than not, live albums are just contract fillers - an easy way to complete a record deal and move on, or nothing more than an OK introduction to the band. Others, like ‘It’s Alive’ and ‘No Sleep Til Hammersmith’ are genuine classics. While this 18 tracker doesn’t reach the heady heights of those two albums, it’s certainly more than ‘just another live album’. Recorded at London’s Marquee in 1983, it’s an exhilarating listen from what was one of the most entertaining bands of the 80s. You get all the greats - ‘Oriental Beat’, ‘Back To Mystery City’, ‘Malibu Beach’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Tragedy’... An endless list of great, surging fusions of Punk attitude and Rock ‘n’ Roll cool. Throw in a closing trio of inflammable covers (ALICE COOPER, STOOGES and ‘Train Ket A-Rollin’’) and a scorching take on ‘Pipeline’ as the opener then you could almost be within the sweat-dripping walls of the Marquee itself. The songs from the first few albums are also given a new zeal with the inclusion of drummer, Razzle. New or ignorant to the mental beat of HANOI? Do yourself a BIG favour and go get this for a slice of sublime, Rock ‘n’ Roll perfection. Now - how about the rest of the back catalogue, Dissonance? (26.06.17)

HANOI ROCKS - Oriental Beat {Dissonance} Second album from the ROCKS legend, originally released back in 1982 and, trivia fans, this was the first record I ever bought by ‘em - some 30+ years ago! It’s interesting hearing this re-issue on pristine, clear-cut digital foldback rather than my scratched old vinyl!! This was still with original drummer Gyp Casino and features some classics in the shape of the title track, opener ‘Motorvation’’, ‘M.C. Baby’ and ‘Lightin’ Bar Blues’, and it also includes some notable progressions in the shape of the CLASH Reggae-tinged ‘No Law Or Order’ (a personal fave) and the closing piano and vocal ‘Fallen Star’. The songs still didn’t quite have the energy or sublime qualities of some of those that future records held but, especially on a personal level, this remains very special and easily a Top 3 HANOI album. It’s also quite notable just how much the bass of Sammi Yaffa held this together, be it the runs on ‘Don’t Follow Me’ or filling out and holding down the groove of ‘Teenangels Outsiders’. Vocalist Michael Monroe’s saxophone certainly makes it’s presence felt too with some stellar lead solos. Much as I love this, the curious who may not know the greatness of this band that bridged Punk, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Glam and even Heavy Rock might be better to start with the live album above... (26.06.17) 

HANOI ROCKS - Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks {Dissonance} First of a series of reissues from this fantastic, classic band outta Helsinki, Finland. Originally released back in 1981, this iconic debut album fused all the best bits of Punk exuberance, Glam swagger, Rock ‘n’ Roll energy and Garage Rock attitude. Think the best mix of ALICE COOPER, NEW YORK DOLLS, ‘...Rope’ era CLASH, MC5, ROLLING STONES, THE DAMNED and a splash of early AEROSMITH and you’re there. Yeah - that good! This contains some absolute HANOI classics - ‘Tragedy’, ‘11th Street Kids’ and ‘Lost In The City’ all remained favourites throughout the band’s career. Elsewhere, ‘Cheyenne’ was a personal fave while Bobby Vee’s ‘Walking With My Angel’ is a rollercoaster of 60s Rock ‘n’ Roll, sax and honky-tonk piano. While this was an incendiary release back in 1981, it has aged possibly the worst of all HANOI albums. Both ‘Village Girl’ and ‘First Timer’ are among the band’s worst and while ‘Stop Cryin’ has all the right indications, the execution never quite lived up to the possibilities. The album’s other classic, ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ also suffered via a poor spoken word part that no doubt should’ve been akin to Stiv Bators but again failed. Grizzles aside, HANOI never recorded a duff album and the seeds of the greatness that followed are clearly evident here. (26.06.17)

HARAMARAH - We Are All Broken {Kibou/ Smegma/ Urinal Vinyl/ Runny Bum/ Global Records} Ten track 7" pressed on creamy white vinyl from this four piece outta West Java. I’ve never heard the band before, but there’s a definite 7 SECONDS vibe about a lot of the songs (especially the vocal delivery), if mixed with the fury of LOS CRUDOS and a splish of VITAMIN X. Highlight has to be ‘Bored’ along with blur that is ‘False Idols’, the agro-bass attack of ‘We Are All Broken’ and closer ‘We Got That Spirit’. Have to say, there were a few moments where it all got a bit unhinged due to the pace being a bit ahead of itself, but then that occurs on some of the best HC records also! Neat packaging and download code included. I think this is limited to about 350 copies, so if those bands mentioned feature on your turn table, and you want some raging Hardcore Punk that is totally devoid of any Metal or Crust grunting, then you better be quick and snap up one of these little bundles of searing spikiness as soon as you can. (09.11.16)

HARD-ONS - Peel Me Like A Egg {Boss Tuneage} OK - I’m a HARD-ONS fan. Let me make that clear. This is the band’s first album in five years and celebrates 30 years of hardness. Facts are facts though - most of these songs sound half finished with a few being down-right embarrassing. Apparently original drummer and vocalist Keish is on here - but buried under Blackie’s guitar bluster. It has good moments - ‘Clumsy Little Oaf I Am’ meanders on a great groove and actually has direction (unlike many other tracks) while ‘Those Hard To Get Spots’ could be vintage ‘Love Is A Battlefield Of Broken Hearts’ HARD-ONS. ‘Close To The Ground’ could’ve been good, but sounds half-finished while ‘With Structure, With Stress’ and closer ‘Ain’t No Guardian Angel’ is just embarrassing bludgeon. ‘Sweatin On The Beat’ sounds like old metal dudes trying to play Hardcore. Could’ve been a great EP - add on heavy-duty opener ‘Burning Up On Re-Entry’ and the grungy pop of ‘Shadow Shelf’ to those highlights, focus a bit on two more tracks and you’d have a winner. As it is, a bit of wiener. (15.05.15)

HART, GRANT - Oeuvrevue {Bang} Vinyl re-issue of this previously CD-only released collection of rarities and curios from the former HUSKER DU man. We get 13 tracks, many of which were recorded in Europe between 1988 and 1995 for various radio broadcasts and live sessions. There’s the plaintive acoustic and voice only take on ‘The Main’ and a cover of LOVE’s ‘Signed D.C.’ Elsewhere we get full band versions of ‘No Promise Have I Made’, ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’, a cover of BOB DYLAN’s ‘Masters Of War’ and a great ‘Shoot Your Way To Freedom’ while keyboards come into play on ‘Wheels’. Highlights though are a tie between a mesmerizing version of ‘Evergreen Memorial Drive’ and ‘Khalid’ that sees those golden-tonsils of HART’s soar to incomparable levels. Given a lot of these recordings were one-offs, the actual production quality doesn’t match HART’s other material, but that makes these more intimate, more naked. I doubt this will win the man many new fans, but those already addicted to that voice that can reach the heavens and these songs of sublime structure will love it. I did - and I still do. (05.08.16)

HDQ - When Worlds Collide {Boss Tuneage} Oh my - this is about as good as it gets. Another two new tracks from the reformed HDQ and, the lead track in particular, has to be among the best tracks the band has ever recorded. The guitars ring and rage simultaneously while Golly delivers a vocal that is passionate, raw and soaring. Flip the delectable 7"s of white vinyl over and you are treated to ‘Dismantled’ that starts with some very subtle guitar phrases before erupting into a combustible, surging slice of melodic Hardcore that perfectly compliments the qualities of the main track. For some reason, I kept thinking SWIZ during much of the track. The only fault is that this is not a 10" accompanied with another four, equally stunning songs. As it is, you won’t find a better way to spend the five minutes before a Friday night out than listening to this. Download code too. Drop-dead fantastic. (15.04.15)

HELLKRUSHER - Wasteland {Boss Tuneage} I was always discouraged by bands with names like this; let’s face it, the name sounds more like a 10th rate Celtic Frost tribute! But, I got it a tad wrong here. HELLKRUSHER rose out of the ashes of ENERGETIC KRUSHER and HELLBASTARD with the intent of doing a more D-Beat thang. Sure, the DISCHARGE influence is felt, but generally this is a lot more Metal (check out the opening ‘Intro’) with decent Anarcho lyrics - think a fusion of VARUKERS with ONSLAUGHT via CIVILISED SOCIETY? and you’re close. This album was recorded (twice in fact) back in 1990 and this repress comes with lots of rare pics and liner notes. Highlights included the frantic ‘Warlords’ with its pacey riff and spitfire-fast vocals, the bilious Punk of ‘Hellkrusher’ and the blitzkrieg Boston HC-esque blur of ‘No Religion’. Pretty sure if Profane Existence means anything to you, you’ll have an interest in this - especially if you grease-up your black jeans! There’s a limited edition double vinyl with CD, or stand alone CD if ya interested. (03.02.17)

HEX - Poison In The System: The Demos {Boss Tuneage} Not sure how this band passed me by, but HEX was a Sunderland based dual-vocalled Anarcho band that featured Golly (HDQ vocalist) on guitar, Lainey and Dickie Hammond (who went onto LEATHERFACE as we know). Hammond only played bass on the final two of the four demos here, while Lainey played drums and bass. There’s a total of 14 tracks which fuse CONFLICT anger with the musical dexterity of SUBHUMANS (think ‘World’s Apart’ era), a hint of INSTIGATORS and a sizeable slice of ZOUNDS on some of the quieter interludes. Highlights are plenty but the 6+ minutes of ‘The Button Is Pressed’, the rolling ‘Initiative’ that displays the dual-vocals to stunning effect, the frantic closer ‘All Gods Christians’ and the dramatic guitar signatures of ‘Is This To Be?’ could all claim to be the standout. Vocalist Pikey provides some good liner notes (but fails to mention why the band’s first demo isn’t on here), the layout is excellent and, all that has to be said, is how the hell did this band not register on my radar until now? Excellent stuff which if you rate any of those vintage Anarcho bands mentioned, you’ll certainly need this. (06.01.16)

HIP PRIESTS, THE - Black Denim Blitz {Self-Destructo} Hard-liquor guzzlin’, beer swiggin’, black denim lovin', swear laden Punk Rock ‘n’ Fuckin' Roll that hits like mainlining Bourbon while snorting a couple of lines of coke up each nostril. This is the forth album from this British band and with titles like ‘Flat Out ‘n’ Fucked Up’, ‘Your Band’s Shit’ and ‘Motherfucker Superior’, you kinda get a good hint this band that ain’t looking for a guest slot on Britain’s Got Talent. Musically, think NEW BOMB TURKS playing NO EMPATHY with a hint of MOTORHEAD and a large helping of TURBONEGRO and you’re close. Throw in some DWARVES arrogance and incinerating guitar leads and you’re closer. Highlights? ‘Zero Fucks Given’ has a bit more of a NY DOLLS groove, opener ‘Vodka Casanova’ melts paint while ‘Survival Of The Shittest’ combines everything and makes a good claim as album highlight along with ‘Motherfucker Superior’. Not one of Gaslight Anthem fans, militant Straight Edgers, Emos, or those ‘seeking a message’. If ya dig noxious Rock ‘n’ Roll and can laugh with it, this could be your new soundtrack. A BIG player at the House Of Scanner this summer! (26.12.15)

HOLLYWOOD BRATS - Sick On You {Cherry Red} Latest re-issue of the classic HOLLYWOOD BRATS album. Don’t know the band? They were like a precursor to THE BOYS with a similar vibe to the NEW YORK DOLLS - musically and visually. My review of the re-issue from a few years ago is HERE. And yes, it IS that fucking good. What’s more, this baby has an extra CD with another 15 unreleased gems. You might be thinking that, if you have the album, why get this? Well, those 15 extra tracks are essential. You get a total, brutal take on THE KINKS’ ‘I Need You’ that’s got so much power it’s like having the band in your living room. Then there’s a rollicking take on ‘Little Ol’ Wine Drinker Me’ which could be the defining BRATS song. ‘Son Of The Wizard’ sounds like the best thing RICHARD HELL should have recorded, all quirky guitar that the late Rob Quine would be proud of. A rancorous live take of ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ is notable for the loud boos at the end - boos from a sector soon to be swept away in the Punk revolution. The swirling drama of ‘Borgia Street’ that could be ‘Scary Monsters’ era BOWIE outtake. The country-with-a-sneer ‘Trucker’s Lament’. ‘Sucking On Suzie’ is an epic, freeform bopper and prequel to THE BOYS’ ‘Classified Suzie’. Get the picture? I could detail each track with equal zeal, but they’re all fan-fucking-tastic! The only let down is the booklet. While it includes some great photos, interview and biography fragments and lyrics, the track-by-track run down of the unreleased songs omits details of five of the songs. Minor quibble, but a noticeable one. That aside, if you rate the BOYS and love high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll and you only buy one reissue this year, you’d better make it this. Raucous brilliance!! (07.11.16)

HOOVER - HOOVER {B-Core} For me, HOOVER remain one of the great unsung bands from the Dischord catalogue. Bar a few singles and album, the band’s only other release was this, recorded when the band reunited in 1997 and released in a mere 2,000 pressing run. Needless to say, this is a timely reissue and features just five tracks each of which is pretty much mandatory listening for any fan of Dischord - post-FUGAZI in particular. Every track has its merits be it the glorious opener ‘TNT’, the rolling, meandering beats and fractured guitar of ‘Breather Resist’, the strangulated guitar and pained vocal of ‘Weeds’, while the epic 9-minute closer ‘Relectrolux/ Electrodub’ is a reworking of their own ‘Electrolux’ taken to new places. Then there’s ‘New Five Drive’ - the shortest and most accessible song here. Not much else can be said about this band; if the likes of JAWBOX, MISSION OF BURMA, KEPONE and even AT THE DRIVE IN appeal and HOOVER aren’t on your horizon, then go get educated to what was a great band comprised of four guys who converged to DC from their own individual corner of the States to create something really rather special. (25.06.17)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2015 including:
HANGMEN, HATED 'TIL PROVEN, HDQ (2 reviews), HIGH DIVE, HOLIDAY, HOT WATER MUSIC