Top Sounds - M

MANIAC - Dead Dance Club {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Second album from this Los Angeles quartet that includes personnel who have strutted their stuff in the likes of CUTE LEPERS and CLOROX GIRLS. It’s good stuff too, fusing THE BOYS knack for a pulsating harmony-laced Punk gem with the slightly more angular abrasion of RED DONS. Plenty of highlights too, be it opener ‘City Lights’ and ‘Midnight Kino’ that display the RED DONS vibe, ‘Neutral Libido’ that includes a spoken word part and keyboard flurries evoking that Dirtnap sound of recent years, both ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Post Post World’ come on like THE BOYS having a ruck with THE VAPOURS while best track is a toss up between ‘Living In Stereo’ that’s loaded with high energy and the pounding beats and pogo drive of ‘Precision Accuracy’. Throw in the title track that starts with bass and a LOU REED-esque vocal before morphing into an adventurous and captivating closer. While both CUTE LEPERS and CLOROX GIRLS were pretty instant in their greatness, I had to work a little harder with this; it’s a bit darker, moodier and more involved, but three plays in the depth behind the songs starts to shine, and starts to soar. (14.06.18)

MEXICAN WOLFBOYS - Skatization Of The Christian West {Rockstar} Well, this is a slightly odd one. Given the album title and, rather excellent cover artwork, I expected a full on Skate Punk opus - JFA, COMMON ENEMY or even PENNYWISE style. In fact, this is mid-paced Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll with an anthemtic Street Punk vibe like a less complicated HOT WATER MUSIC meets ANTI-FLAG and HUDSON FALCONS with a big dollop of LEATHERFACE for good measure. Best tracks are certainly those that have the LEATHERFACE/ HWM-esque bombast - ‘Transition Bound’, ‘Shockwaves’, ‘Have Y’ever’ and album highlight, the epic and brooding ‘Past Forward’. The title track clocks in at just over 30 seconds and befits its title. Elsewhere ‘No Gods, No Masters’ is nothing to do with AMEBIX but instead is a energetic rocker pleading for freedom while closer ‘Start Today’ is a spirited and effective reworking of the GORILLA BISCUITS classic. Solid stuff from this five piece outta Aachen, Germany that, unfortunately, is done NO favours by the album’s title or Skate-Punk associations. (12.01.18)

MIXTAPES SAINTS - Everything We Used To Be {Real Ghost} First time I’ve come across this UK band and from the virtual Gospel tinged vocal opening of ‘Heavy Water’ it held my attention. That opening track, clocking in at over five minutes, is also the longest track here, bringing to mind BANNER PILOT and IRON CHIC but with something a bit more Roots/ Americana vibe - CHAMBERLAIN maybe. The remainder of the album, which is a compilation of the band’s releases thus far, is a mix of acoustic-based tracks like the other album highlight of ‘Spare Change’ and ‘No Regrets’, and a few electric tracks like ‘Sleep‘ and closer ‘Reckless’ (that’s got a huge and memorable chorus), while ‘Heartbreak Radio Cars And Rain’ gets a take in both styles. It makes an interesting mix but I do wonder whether the acoustic stuff will isolate those who prefer the electric tracks and vice versa. If you want sneering, arrogant Punk Rock look elsewhere, but for those who can appreciate well produced, heart-felt acoustic tunes with a bit of electricity, look no further. It’s certainly better than the risible GASLIGHT ANTHEM - but still a bit too smooth and glossy for me to go back to.  (14.07.18)

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