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Top Sounds - U

UKE-HUNT - Uke-Hunt {Fat Wreck} Well... mangle me with a mandolin! I envisioned this would be among the most torturous records of the year. Think about it - Spike Slawson takes some time out of singing with ME FIRST AND THE GIMME DOLLARS to present his latest cover band - a ukulele based, busking serenade. Somehow though, while far from Punk Rock, this is actually a pretty solid album. You get 10 covers, including tunes from Depeche Mode and Barry Manilow. There’s a few highlights: the Dave Clark Five track ‘Because’ comes on like second album SPECIALS while the Skeeter Davis track, ‘End Of The World’ with its whistle could be the album highlight. ‘Needles And Pins’ sounds like it has a washboard holding the beat together while The Carpenters’ ‘Rainy Days And Mondays’ lilts with a wonderful harmonica and upright bass. Whether GIMME GOING-THROUGH-THE-MOTIONS fans will get this I dunno but, on a hungover Sunday morning, this works well while waiting for the senses to return to sensibility. (25.08.14)

UNDERCLASS UK - Not In My Name {Punk Lives Live} Third studio album from this constantly improving band and it’s quite a departure in sound from the releases below. Sure, it’s still resolutely Punk as ‘Parasite’ that echoes latter PARTISANS and the excellent title track that evokes memories of BLITZ-esque anthems prove. But this is a darker, more brooding album. Opener, ‘Street Cleaner’, is a real highlight with tribal drums and a stunning droning riff. ‘My Kind Of’ continues that theme while ‘Insanity’ emphasises the effected, KILLING JOKE-like vocals. Most notable is the use of piano and keyboards, especially on the album’s highlight ‘What Ever It Takes’. The track, and this is true of the whole album, saw me thinking of STRATFORD MERCENARIES. The lyrics are intelligent, musically it’s varied but always engaging and it’s defiantly Punk - just like STRATFORD MERCENARIES. Nice fold out sleeve, a few interesting covers and a spate of samples between tracks make this quite a cracking album. And, as stated in the review below - you can download this for FREE from the band’s Facebook page. (17.07.14)

UNDERCLASS UK - Live And Loud {Punk Lives Live} First live album for this band and I have to say, I found it much more interesting than the studio album below. The songs here sound more dynamic, less cautious and certainly more attention grabbing. Soundwise, imagine second (and superior) album PARTISANS mixed with a bit of COCK SPARRER and you’re there. Highlights include the rampant ‘Skint’, ‘End Of The Line’ that’s a little more restrained and features some great bass playing along with strong lyrics, a cover of UK SUBS ‘Limo Life’ and ‘Get Out Of My Way’, while ‘Harry’ emphasises the SPARRER vibe. Decent packaging (with a cover that mimics Link Records’ own Live and Loud series) with lyrics, info sheet and photos and access to a free download from the band’s Facebook page. Production is raw - I’m sure the band wouldn’t argue with that - but it’s a sound that really suits the songs. Solid, British Punk that hits where it matters - and hits hard. (17.04.14)

UNDERCLASS UK - Kill The Poor {DIY) Second album from this project that’s based around Control zine’s editor Stuart Newman. It’s an impressive looking thing too, coming in a DVD sized case and includes 14 tracks. Musically, it’s a bit of a bizarre mix of raucous Street Punk, hints of RIOT/CLONE dynamics and a penchant for Metal as evidenced by a W.A.S.P cover and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be’. Add on a couple of acoustic based tunes and it makes for an eclectic if Punk based listen. Highlights? ‘Fantasies of Violence’, ‘Broken Dreams’ and the acoustic ‘End Of The Line’. Generally though, this really did not impress me as much as I had hoped; the drums sound like a drum machine and, while all the ideas are there, the actual execution of them came up a bit short rendering too many tracks the unfortunate categorisation of ‘filler’. But don’t take my word for it - go and find out for yourself as this is available as a FREE download - here!! You’re already on-line - try it!! (13.08.12)

UNSANE - Wreck {Alternative Tentacles} First new album from these NYC discordant noise terrorists since 2007 and you get 10 tracks of taut, destructo-bass driven, tortured and uncompromising HC. The tone is set instantly with opener, ‘Rat’, being all twisted, angular Punk riffs and snide vocals followed by one of the album highlights, the crawling, malevolent ‘Decay’ that’s bilious and skin crawling. And so the destruction continues, think BIRTHDAY PARTY played by TRAGEDY; MUDHONEY played by NOMEANSNO; BUTTHOLE SURFERS played by SCRATCH ACID. Other highlights include ‘Ghost’ that hits with the force of a wounded bull, the epic six-minute plus ‘Stuck’ that fuses almost fragile light with the bleakest of darks, and closer, a take on ‘Ha Ha Ha’ that out-Flipper’s FLIPPER. Production is fucking huge too without being sterile while packaging is blood-drippingly grim. Definitely a preferable option to a corporate Christmas party or another half-hearted, play-it-by-numbers Pop-Punk band with Bink 18turd ambitions. (28.02.13)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2012 including:
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND, UNFIT, UNKNOWN INSTRUCTORS

Top Sounds - V

VIBRATORS, THE - Greatest Punk Hits {MVD} All too often, original ‘77 Punks THE VIBRATORS are relegated to second, or even third division, Punk Rock. That’s criminal really when listening to either ‘Pure Mania’ or ‘V2’. This 18 track comp collects the band’s best known songs, but rather than simply lift them off those albums, 12 are culled from a re-recording at Greenhouse Studios in 1991. These versions are equally credible; they suffer from losing some of the brash, naive charm the originals had but have been enhanced through years of playing. ‘Automatic Lover’, ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ and ‘Whips And Furs’ stand out while the classic ‘Baby Baby’ is a tad heavy-handed compared with the original. There’s also a re-recording of the superb ‘Amphetamine Blue’ that Knox recorded in FALLEN ANGELS (a band that featured various HANOI ROCKS bods too). The remaining songs are lifted from latter day VIBRATORS albums and, with the exception of ‘Tired Of Living With You’, don’t really hold up to the first 12 songs. If ya never heard VIBRATORS, think ONLY ONES meets HEARTBREAKERS. If that appeals, then this is a pretty fine place to go on a Vibrating discovery. (30.09.13)

VIOLENT ARREST - Distorted View {Boss Tuneage} Monster-sounding, eight-track 12" pressed on a fantastic Evil Dead projectile discharge dark green splatter vinyl from these veterans of the UK Punk scene. The songs here seem a bit more considered than the hyper-thrash of the band’s previous releases, with the likes of ‘Domino Theory’ and ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ being most apparent. That said, the disc highlights are the bruising, powerful, visceral blasts of ‘Bullet Proof Vest’ and ‘Collateral Damage’ which bring back memories of RIPCORD at their finest. The disc closer, ‘Punk To The Core’ has a bit of a chugging riff and recalls GANG GREEN post-’This Is Boston...’. What is most notable, and probably creates the destructive power of the whole record, is the production - it’s loud, clinical (but far from clean) and confrontational. The bass in particular doesn’t just roll outta of the speakers - it tramples outta the woofers (and tweeters) toward the listener and kicks their head in at the same time. Aurally awesome stuff. Easily the band’s best output so far - and with a back catalogue as strong as these fellas... Well... Go figure. (24.10.13)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2012 including:
VANILLA POD, VARSITY DRAG (2 reviews), VEEBEES, VIC GODDARD AND THE SUBWAY SECT, VILLAIN, VIOLENT ARREST (2 reviews), VISIONS OF CHANGE/ THE DEPRAVED, VRGNS