Top Sounds - S

SKEPTIC?- Hornet’s Nest {DIY} PODCAST PLAYED Birmingham, Alabama may not be the most obvious place to search for blistering Hardcore, but with this, SKEPTIC?’s third long-player, then it’s a town that may well possess the best Hardcore band in America. The ‘Now Look What You’ve Done’ album from 2012 was a cracker but this fuses the enraged brevity of OFF! with the free-falling, no holds barred quality of CAREER SUICIDE and throws in the muscular (but not macho) stomp of underrated D.C greats, THE SUSPECTS to make something really special. Not a duff track among the 12, but highlights would include ‘Lit Up’ that surges like POISON IDEA, ‘I Don’t Believe’ that has a great lead guitar (in fact that lead guitarist is smoking) coupled with some understated rhythm strumming, ‘And A Little More’ that starts with a swaggering bass recalling prime-time FREEZE or ‘Contradictions’ that has DISCHARGE-ian guitars enough to make me check it wasn’t Bones guesting. Outright highlight though is a battle between ‘It’s All Coincidence’ and ‘Every Now And Then’ that includes a breakdown to die for. Vocally, think a raging Jello Biafra and delivered with clarity. I’ve not even mentioned a WOODY GUTHRIE cover, which just proves that these fellas know protest songs ain’t all about shouting ‘fuck the world’. In fact, there’s not a single expletive among the lyrics and that makes them hit home with even more aplomb. Killer stuff that’s been playing non-stop on the House Of Scanner turntable since it arrived. This is limited too 300, comes on red vinyl and includes a download code, badges, stickers, lyric sheet and poster. No ridiculous Metal breakdowns of constipated Crust bellowing, just superb, concise Hardcore - and one that totally restores my faith in Hardcore, Punk Rock, intelligence and quality songwriting. (18.06.18)

SLED - A Better You {Bird Attack} Coming outta Florida, SLED deliver their debut album and, for those who don’t know, they were formerly called PINHOLE DOWN and among their line-up is Bird Attack Recs main man, Garrett Wadford. There is also some kinda link to former GUTTERMOUTH members. Have to say it failed to completely connect. Sure it’s pacey, snappy Punk - not a million miles from 88 FINGERS LOUIE or GOOD RIDDANCE (in fact, vocally there’s a lot of similarities with Russ Rankin here) in its execution and when it’s good - like album highlight ‘Wasting Away’, it’s a convincing listen. However, every now and then I found myself drifting off due to odd moments of out of place Rock (like the widdly solo in ‘Mono Lake’). Other highlights include ‘Connect The Network’ which had a vague NONE MORE BLACK vibe and some simply fucking shredding guitar riffage and the bold, defiant ‘Wrong’. Kinda feel this would’ve had more effect on me had I heard a four-song blitz first. I have found on successive listens I’ve been enjoying it a bit more each time... Could be a grower? (23.02.18)

SONGS FOR SNAKES - Crystal Vapour Figure {Timid Crusher} PODCAST PLAYED Bloody hell - this is the fourth album from this San Francisco trio and I’ve only just found out about them? How did that happen? It’s pretty fucking fantastic stuff too; more Alt/ Indie Rock that Punk, like a fusion of BOB MOULD, BUFFALO TOM, JAWBREAKER and PIXIES with good helpings of ARCHES OF LOAF and THE BOMB for good measure. This 10 track album, which has been mixed by the mercurial talents of J Robbins, kicks of with the title track that has that THE BOMB vibe all over it. From there, ‘Exercising Demons’ highlights that PIXIES dynamic while both ‘Skin Of Porcelain’ and ‘Window Licker’ have a noticeable BOB MOULD feel vocally. Elsewhere there’s the rocking ‘Burnout Girl’, some acoustic introspection on ‘A High Winter Sky’, a nod to yesteryear in ‘The 90s Were My 60s’ and the epic closer ‘Burning Babies’. Both ‘Thaw’ and ‘Tweakers (Three Different Ones)’ saw some dynamics come into play which worked impressively on the former but not so well on the latter, making it the low point of the album for me. An absolute cracker of an album that’s got depth, quality songs and plenty of twists and turns which, 98% of the time are almost jaw-dropping. Already a contender for 2018’s best album. Yowser. (26.05.18)

SONGS FOR SNAKES/ IF IT KILLS YOU - Split {DIY} Raucous split 7" pressed on muddy-marbled mustard vinyl and kicking of with the swelling, immediate and resonant sound of San Francisco’s SONGS FOR SNAKES. Their track, ‘Cobalt Blue’ is certainly the standout with solid guitars that hit like a hammer but don’t bludgeon the listener into submission while vocalist Bill Taylor has a strong, intense voice that can hold a tune too; think SAMIAM, JAWBREAKER, HUSKER DU - yeah - they’re pretty fucking good. Flip it and you get fellow Californians IF IT KILLS YOU with ‘A Lifetime On The Phone’ which has a slightly more disjointed, angular sound. It’s still an impressive sound fusing BLUE TIP, SPECTRES and a splish of GAMEFACE. Two well matched bands both of whom deserve more attention than they seem to be getting. (18.03.18)

SWEET THINGS, THE - Slather {Spaghetty Town} PODCAST  PLAYED Two track 7" that spews Rock ‘n’ Roll cool, even from the sleeve which shows the very Rock ‘n’ Roll looking quartet hanging outside a drug store like the mutant offspring of ALICE COOPER BAND and ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT. Main track is a bit like a fusion of HANOI ROCKS with GEORGIA SATELLITES and really stands out from the pack due to a rather fantastic honky-tonk piano that lifts the track and shakes your ass in the process. Uplifting chorus too!! ‘Dustianne’ on the flip continues that effortless Rock ‘n’ Roll swagger and includes a soulful female backing vocalist. Think ROLLING STONES at their sleaziest peak. Have to say, I’d like to hear a bit more pace, a touch more abandon about the sound as over the course of an album it might get a bit pedestrian - but not at the expense of the piano player. The band’s from NYC, has members from the likes of DIMESTORE HALOES, L.E.S. STITCHES and SHARP LADS and this is their debut release. One to watch for those who like Rock ‘n’ Roll with swagger and can make the old cliches sound fresh again. (22.03.18)

SWINGIN’ UTTERS - Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun {Fat Wreck} Ohh yes!! Easily one of the most consistent and convincing bands on Fat Wreck, this is a walloping 33 track best of that dates right back to the 1992’s ‘Scared’ and features tracks from every significant UTTERS release right up to 2014’s excellent ‘Fistful Of Hollow’. All your favourites are here, ‘Windspitting Punk’, ‘No Eager Men’, ‘Tell Me Lies’, ‘Pills And Smoke’, ‘Catastrophe’, ‘Stuck In A Circle’... I could go on but you have your own faves, and they are most likely here. Unfortunately there are no unreleased tracks to make this appeal to hardened fans. Yep, I realise this is probably released to lure the curious but given this is a career-spanning disc and having already owned all the records this is culled from, I still found it really fulfilling (possibly due to the fact it doesn’t run chronologically) and, if any proof was needed of the band’s perpetual quality, you have it here. Double vinyl or single CD, neat time-line and flyer insert too. My main concern is whether this spells the end of the band. Although they’ve had a great run, and the time line shows a few members have left, I genuinely hope there is at least one more album in the bag. Here’s hoping!! (12.07.18)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2018 including:
SCREECHING WEASEL, SEX OFFENDERS, SHATTERED FAITH (2 reviews), SHEHEHE, SHIP THIEVES, SKANK AGENDA, SLICE OF LIFE (2 reviews), SONIC AVENUES, THE SORTS, SPACE JUNK, SPECTRES, CHRIS SPEDDING, SPELLING MISTAKES, SPOILERS, STARVING MILLIONS (3 reviews), STATE FUNERAL, STAY CLEAN JOLENE, STEAKKNIFE, STEVE ADAMYK BAND (2 bands), STEVE DREWETT AND THE INDESTRUCTIBLE BEAT, STEVE IGNORANT WITH PARANOID VISIONS (2 reviews), STIV BATORS' DEAD BOYS, STONE THE CROWZ, STUNGRENADES, SUNSHINE STATE, SUPER FAST GIRLIE SHOW, SWAT and SWINGIN' UTTERS