Top Sounds - B

BAD COP/ BAD COP - The Ride {Fat Wreck} Album number three for this quartet of ladies outta California. You get 12 tracks, which could we be the most solid and entertaining set from the band yet; they’ve certainly got stuff to say be it ‘Breastless’ that faces up to breast cancer, both ‘Certain Kind Of Monster’ and album highlight ‘Pursuit Of Liberty’ that look at the refugee/ immigrant issue within America or the reflective but defiant ‘Simple Girl’, every song holds the attention lyrically. Musically there’s some good stuff going on too, with a definite BAD RELIGION feel about the backing vocal and musical chops, a splinter of FUGAZI in ‘Simple Girl’, some Kim Shattuck vocal dynamics and the power of TILT at their peak. Then you have opener ‘Originators’ that could easily be a track out of a musical and the closing ‘Sing With Me’ that’s acoustic with a pointed message.  A strong album indeed. (10.05.2021)
BARRY, TIM - Carolina’s RV {Chunksaah} Limited 7” companion piece to the album reviewed below. It was recorded at the same time but has more of an American Folk feel about it. Lead track could’ve easily fit on the album and been a standout while HENRY WHITTER’s ‘Wreck Of Old ‘97’ gets a dueling-banjo vibe going. Flip the disc and ‘Clem’s Court Date’ is another tale from Barry of domestic violence and retribution. It’s an intimate song, one that is painful yet valedictory. Quite stunning with some sublime guitar. Closer is the traditional ‘Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?’ that’s based around WOODY GUTHRIE’s 1945 version and is a duet with Tim’s daughter, Lela Jane. Very proud moment no doubt, huh dad?!  Just like the album, this is a very satisfying release. Tim seems to have stepped everything up in terms of songwriting yet kept the sound grounded, focused and concise. Wonderful stuff indeed. (30.12.22)
BARRY, TIM - Spring Hill {Chunksaah} Solo album number eight from TIM BARRY. It never ceases to amaze me how the vocalist for the juggernaut that was/is AVAIL has adapted so completely, effortlessly and effectively into Folk/ Country/ Americana. This album sees Tim taking on some banjo playing along with his usual guitar and vocals among the 13 tracks. Plenty of highlights too be it the wonderfully laconic, smoke-and-whisky late-night folk of opener, ‘Ain’t Much For Talking’, the fuzzed Americana of both ‘Cab #13’ and ‘Cherry Isle’, the great Barry wit of ‘Dad’s IPad’ that includes some stellar banjo work from Josh Bearman (who also plays some superb mandolin on ‘Camille’) and the life-affirming ‘Glorious’ while highlight would be the soaring and reflective ‘Corner Store’ that sees all the aspects of the album coalesce into one great song. And I haven’t even mentioned a killer cover of 3’s ‘Swann Street’. I could also mention ‘The Breeze’, closer ‘Switch Key’ and ‘Grace’; fact is there’s not a duffer here and it’s testament to the songwriting skills of Barry that this is his best since... Ohhh... ‘40 Miler’ - and that’s not to suggest the three since then have been duffers, they weren’t.  It’s just this is next level strong. (30.12.22)

BITTER DEFEAT - Minor Victory {Gravel Streak} PODCAST PLAYED Alt. Indie Rock band from Hamilton, New Zealand - which is just up the highway from me. I like it too - a lot in fact! You get five tracks that fuse JOY DIVISION with a bit of WIRE and a hefty splash of FONTAINES DC - the latter is particularly evident on opener ‘Light That Shines’. I really like the vocals, the lead vocal has a clarity and charm about it along with a rather self-assured attitude, while the backing vocals don’t quite take the expected route and are way better for it. Of the remainder, it’s ‘Long Lash’ that fuses the drama of PIXIES with the groove of TEENAGE FANCLUB and the sauntering, swaggering ‘All The Things’ with its FANCLUB-esque guitar solo that stand out. Lots to like here; production is clear without losing any ragged glory the tracks contain. Let’s hope this isn’t another of the all-too-many, all-too-short-lived New Zealand bands - I sense there could be some genuinely interesting songs to come. (30.08.21)

BOATSMEN, THE - Versus The Boatsmen {Spaghetty Town} Miss the slamming ferocity of NEW BOMB TURKS? The high-octane sound of TURBONEGRO? Well, these four hombres outta Orebro, Sweden might just be your new favourite band. They’ve been around for ten years or so apparently, but this is first time my ears have been lacerated by their fantastic jams. Opener ‘Action Delivery’ just blazes, simply fucking blazes!! The next track, ‘Friday Night Fever’ scorches the ears with the ferocity of POISON IDEA stealing songs from CIRCLE JERKS. And so it continues, one unholy slab of urgent, relentless and totally addictive Garage Punk Rock played with a Hardcore intensity. Elsewhere ‘Thirst Song’ has a prime-time AC/DC stomp, the swaggering riffage and bile of ‘When I’m Drunk’ and the virtual Power-Pop of ‘Big Waves’ all had the same ear-ripping intensity as a fish-hook tearing off your earlobe.  Not even mentioned the GUN CLUB-ish bastardised howling Blues of ‘Better Man’. You can probably tell by the song titles, there ain’t no political rhetoric here - this is all about hedonistic good times. Soundtrack to the very best parties of 2021!! (15.11.22)
BOBBY FUNK - Longing For The Bonging {TNS} PODCAST PLAYED Debut album from this quartet outta the UK’s West Country of Cornwall and it’s an eclectic but thrilling mix of STUPIDS Hardcore, SHITTY LIMITS abrasion, and something akin to the damaged sound of vintage UK label, Small Wonder (CRAVATS, MURDER THE DISTURBED etc), all of which takes the music in a continually unexpected direction. Nine tracks in all that fuse the absurd (‘I’m A Cat’) with some rather direct opinions. Lots of goodies be it ‘Povvo Goblin’ that has a hint of WORLD/ INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY, ‘Breakfast Means Breakfast’ which revels in the joys of a full-English and opener ‘Dunch’ that has some truly inventive guitar lines. Best track however is closer ‘Gammon Club’ that brings in trumpets and has a distinct SNUFF vibe both musically and lyrically. Great snotty vocals too, that at times had me thinking of Dick Lucas in terms of delivery (‘Onion Eyes’ in particular). Bet these are a fucking riot live! Another winner from TNS! (20.05.21)
BOGOS - Empty Bottles {Voodoo Rhythm} This is pretty fun! Hailing from Bern, Switzerland, this 15 tracker is this quartet’s debut album and if you can imagine a fusion of Hillbilly Bluegrass, something like Psychobilly and solid Garage Punk Rock you’ll have an idea of what this is about - upright bass, banjo, washboard, roaring guitar work. Lots of highlights be it the early AGAINST ME! vibe of ‘Head Through The Wall’, THE CRAMPS-esque swagger of ‘Whiskey And Cigar’ and the raucous ‘Run Boys’ while best track could well be ‘Cant’ Take It’ that evokes the musical Pandora’s Box of WORLD/ INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY. Fun stuff, probably even better live and way more convincing than cheese-ball rubbish like REAL MCKENZIES. Have to say though, opener ‘Farewell To E Morricone’ sounds way outta tune. Skip the first track and you’re onto a barrel of fun!! (20.01.23)
BORTS - EP1 {Lockjaw} Debut release from this trio outta the South West of England featuring members of both YOUR DEMISE and TIRELESS. You get four tracks, that kick off with ‘The Nurse’, which is all nicely strummed acoustics a’la BILLY BRAGG before bringing in a few understated drums, some subtle backing vocals and even what appear to be tubular bells and orchestral keyboards - and then it explodes into a massive anthem that’s so fucking catchy the thing should come with a public health warning! ‘Like, Music Again!’ is another huge anthem this time cranked and amped. It’s pretty hard to avoid an IRON CHIC comparison. The remaining tracks ‘Welcome Break’ is a bit throwaway while closer ‘Broke Alone’  has a vague latter-day BAD RELIGION structure about it. Really strong stuff, produced rather smoothly by Lewis Johns who did stuff for MUNCIE GIRLS and PALM READER to name two, and apparently an album is imminent. This has served as a tantalising taster! (18.06.21)
BRASSICK - 2.0 {TNS} Birmingham, UK four-piece are back with their second album of Hardcore that’s fused with some interesting, melodic almost post-Punk twists. There’s definitely a bit of PROPAGANDHI in the sound, fused with a vague GORILLA BISCUITS groove and some forceful, bilious vocals from Nicola that brought to mind a more intense Brody Dalle outta THE DISTILLERS. Highlights are certainly the tracks that infuse something different, more atmospheric tones to the ‘core. ‘A Half Life’ sees a pairing of Nicola’s vocal with a male vocal that carries more of a melody and throws in a dramatic finale of pummelling guitars and a most unexpected breakdown and ‘Anslinger’ that addresses addiction while highlight is ‘They Say’. Interesting and arresting stuff - have to say given that the band has a lot to say, the addition a of a lyric sheet would have been great. Includes guest appearances from Jock outta G.B.H and Chris from SICK PINS. (02.10.21)
BURNT TAPES - Grower {Lockjaw} This is quite original: a 4-track EP available alongside a Beech tree that can be planted, in efforts to help the local environment, to combat climate change and improve mental health. Very noble! That aside, this London band’s previous album, ‘Never Better’ impressed and these four tracks continue that trait of solid, anthemic stuff that still brings to mind BANNER PILOT, along with a helping of IRON CHIC on this release. Of the four tracks, ‘Getitgotitgood’ had a bit of a GOOD RIDDANCE vibe, if jamming with J CHURCH and closer ‘Yuzi Acoustic’ is a folksy campfire acoustic run through but it’s the lead track ‘Dynasty, Die With Me’ that takes the best track award with its propulsive energy and soaring vocal. Definitely something anyone who loved ‘The Fest’/ No Idea type sounds should be turning their ear to - not that it should be exclusive to those ears as this is passionate and energetic stuff. (22.05.21)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2021 including: