Top Sounds - D

DEALING WITH DAMAGE - Ask The Questions {Little Rocket} PODCAST PLAYED Debut long-player from Ed Shred’s latest project  and if the debut single ‘Don’t Give Into Fear’ set the tone, the album amps it up to make one of 2020’s best releases. 14 songs that kick off with the surprisingly melodic ‘Stop Everything’ that features natty guitar lines and and a strong chorus, as does ‘Some Colours Never Fade’. ‘No Money In Peace’ follows and displays Ed’s more recognised Dischordian influence. Plenty of highlights be it the far-too-short ‘Language Lesson’, ‘How Much Will We Let It Affect Us?’ that almost dips its toes into Psychedelia in a similar way GOVERNMENT ISSUE did, ‘Sharkbait’ that pivots around a bass-heavy riff, a spiralling guitar lead and includes some great backing vocals and the rage of ‘No Barriers, No Protection’ while best track could well be ‘Slow Shadow’ that pivots around another vaguely psychedelic backing but this time played with the taut, rhythmic combustion of FUGAZI and bands of the Revolution Summer era. A really accomplished album once again from Ed and one that is pretty much unlike any other of the bands he’s been in. Sure, there’s bits of CHOCOLATE, bits of SINK, bits of BIG RAY (see ‘For Barbara Dane’) but ultimately this is DEALING WITH DAMAGE and all the better for it. (29.01.21)
DeeCRACKS - Serious Issues {Pirates Press} PODCAST PLAYED Never happened across this Austrian trio before this new 16 track album, but from opener, ‘Desert Storm Surf’, which hits like the RAMONES covering an AGENT ORANGE instrumental (a vibe that’s repeated on Side Two’s opener, ‘The Ambien Shake’), it’s a good, punchy listen. The spectre of RAMONES flows throughout the album, if mixed with the vocal sneer of SWINGIN’ UTTERS. Plenty of highlights, be it both ‘Don’t Throw It Away’ and ‘A Night Like This’ that slow the pace to a mid-paced RIVERDALES-esque slice of Punk Rock Power Pop, ‘Not Today’ that’s as cutting as DWARVES, ‘Kill Or Cure’ that’s total RAMONES-a-lama and closer ‘Don’t Turn Your Heart Off’ which would be easy to hear the UTTERS do on a latter day album, while best track is most likely ‘A Reason’ that rattles along on a killer riff and has a chorus Ben Weasel would sell a testicle for. Totally enjoyable stuff, great production that’s full, concise and gives clarity to each instrument and voice (and some of those backing vocals are way catchy) and played with just the right amount of verve to elevate this way over being a RAMONES pastiche. Neato! (29.11.22)
DFMK - DFMK {Via La Escalera} PODCAST PLAYED Following five EPs, this is the debut album from these Punks outta Tijuana, Mexico. You get 15 blazing tracks that rip like NEW BOMB TURKS playing CAREER SUICIDE and a hint of SHAM 69 (if they were from Mexico at least) in terms of the choruses. Best tracks include the raging ‘core Punk of ‘Fuera De Lugar’, the swaggering and snotty ‘Ya No Quiero Ser Punk’, the freewheeling ‘Vitaminas’ and ‘Diferencias’ that takes a DEAD KENNEDYS-esque guitar line and mutates that into something approaching POISON IDEA intensity while highlight could be the spiky, pogotastic blast of ‘Momentos Inesperados’. Lyrics are all in the band’s native language, production (done by Chicken of DEAD TO ME fame) is sharp, and raw enough to sandblast. Songs never out last their welcome - in fact only six break the two-minute barrier - and each one has enough bite to hold onto your ear drums until the final chord. (22.04.21)
DIAZ BROTHERS - s/t {Boss Tuneage} PODCAST PLAYED A new name, but some very familiar faces! This is basically HDQ with former SHUTDOWN/ THIRTY SIX STRATEGIES guitarist Neil Cox filling the (rather large) shoes of the late, great Dickie Hammond. You get ten tracks, not a duffer in sight and written with energy, class and genuinely inventive structures (check ‘Scorched’). The sound is a fusion of DAG NASTY, MOVING TARGETS and SAMIAM with a British twang - business as usual then for these former HDQers. Best tracks? Each one could make its own claim but opener ‘All Of You’ instantly grabs the attention with those great vocals of Golly’s and some seriously good guitar interplay, ‘On Memory Hill’ is rather reflective and could be one of a few songs about Dickie Hammond and the urgent ‘Empty Bar Stool’ that features some stellar backing vocals (as does closer, the politically biting ‘This Hating Nation’), while the highlight is probably the searing “Heaven Knows’ that sees bassist Max Hakius show some great moves under the barrage of guitars. Awesome stuff that’s produced boldly with a lot of clarity and space, vinyl comes with a CD and, I guess in a perfect world all bands would be this great. In this imperfect world, well, we need to be hugely grateful for the few bands that are as good as DIAZ BROTHERS. (27.02.21)
DON’T SLEEP - Turn The Tide {Mission Two} PODCAST PLAYED Debut album from this new band, but one with a familiar vocalist - one Dave Smalley of DAG NASTY, DOWN BY LAW, ALL et al. It’s possibly the closest thing he has released to actual Hardcore in years. Self-titled track opens in a blur that lasts just over a minute. Eleven tracks follow, with both ‘No Other Way’ and ‘Abandoned Us’ to name but two keeping the melodic Hardcore flying while others bring in some distinctly different textures. ‘Reflection’ includes an interlude that would not be out of place on an early CURE album while the bulk of the song ebbs and flows on waves of guitars a’la TEXAS IS THE REASON, ‘Prisoners’ could fit onto just about any DBL album and ‘Walking In Sinai’ lurches like a fusion of QUICKSAND and JESUS LIZARD while the closing pairing of ‘The Wreckage’ and ‘December’ take in a Punky-Reggae vibe of THE RUTS and a DYLAN-esque Folk jamboree respectively. Totally enjoyable album that is resolutely Punk but not blinkered. What with this and the BANDOLEROS, Smalley seems on a real creative roll. And while it’s this good, long may it continue. (25.05.21)

DOWN AND OUTS - Keep Walking {Brassneck} A genuine Scanner fave, this is a three track 7” from this Liverpool three-piece which, rather embarrassingly, was released back in 2019! More and more I’m hearing a STIFF LITTLE FINGERS influence in this lot - that’s to say quality songs, impassioned, boisterous and deftly played Punk Rock played with class and intelligence. Of the three tracks, ‘Anchored By The Weight’ could be the pick of the bunch with a huge, anthemic chorus - the kind IRON CHIC or peak-period AGAINST ME! seem to have leaking outta their pores. The lead track bounces along thanks to a propulsive bass and an understated chorus. ‘Hit The Ground’ opens with a bit of tasty lead guitar and brought to mind STAY CLEAN JOLENE in a big way, but is my least favoured of the three tracks here. Never heard a duff record from this band, but this has an assured maturity about it - both in the delivery and the writing of Mark. Quality. (07.03.21)

DUNCAN REID AND THE BIG HEADS - Don’t Blame Yourself {LBH} PODCAST PLAYED Fourth solo album (third with the BIG HEADS) for the ex BOYS bassist and, like all the previous records, it’s a great slab of Power Pop dynamics, stunning songsmithery and energy. Plenty of highlights spread through the 14 tracks be it the effervescent opener, ‘Your Future Ex-Wife’, the simmering title track, the majestic BEATLESisms of both ‘The Grim Reaper’ and ‘Came The Day’ and the closing ‘Jealousy’ that’s apparently a leftover from ‘The Difficult Second Album’. Best track though is a battle between ‘For All We Know’ that’s laden with power chords and a rollicking rhythm and ‘To Live Or Live Not’ that could easily have been on ‘Alternative Chartbusters’ and held its own. As always, Duncan provides a little narrative about each song - which is most thankful in the case of ‘Motherfucker’ - a song that seems really out of place in the pantheon of Duncan Reid songs. Generally though, another stellar set of songs that have been playing throughout the House Of Scanner for a few months. Lovely yellow vinyl too! (28.04.21)
DZTN 1980 - Scraps {DIY} Fourth album and the most obvious ‘concept’ of all so far. The eight tracks here tell the story of Tim and his cat, Scraps. Yeah, very nice - until they encounter August (a time traveller), Scraps manages to talk and think, and Hank - Tim’s Grandfather who Scraps murders. Not so nice! Every song here starts with bass and there are a few different moods creeping in here - bit of SKINNY PUPPPY, bit of NEW ORDER, splish of MINISTRY (‘Land Of Rape..’ era) and something about the narrative made me think of LOU REED. Have to say, it’s not the best of Dustin’s stuff - that would still be ‘Ode To A Dead Earth’ reviewed below. However, the title track here is awesome with some neat production tricks while closer ‘Backtrack’ evidenced that NEW ORDER vibe. To a certain extent, the story took precedence over the songs. I look forward to seeing where Dustin’s next musical journey takes him - especially as he’s had an epic six-months pff since this release! Free download too - just like the goodies below! (07.05.21)
DZTN 1980 - Ode To A Dead Earth {DIY} Third of four albums the ex-ABOLITIONIST mainstay recorded in 2020 (not to mention the EP below) and this is possibly the darkest, most scathing yet. Take the post-Punk sounds of SPECTRES, JOY DIVISION and THE MOB and focus each of the 12 songs on an environmentally destroyed, dead earth and you have the idea.  Dustin did all the drum programming and musicianship (including some very nice chorused bass) and the result is thought provoking, foreboding, claustrophobic. Hard to pick a highlight as the tracks work best as a complete body of work, but ‘Interesting To Me’ with that great bass sound and some slick drum programming and ‘Wild’ with its gnawing riff and splintered guitar stabs both stood out and would have been great to hear played by ABOLITIONIST. In terms of message, this is the most direct of DZTN 1980’s albums so far and the one I’ve probably returned to most. One more to go! (29.03.21)
DZTN 1980 - Don’t Give Up {DIY} Lord - Dustin has released, I think, four albums and this six-track EP in the space of a year. It’s been good stuff generally - but maybe just a bit more restraint could see the songs even stronger? Anyway - these six tracks are short with only the dark but pessimistically optimistic closer ‘We Wanna Believe In Something’ breaking two minutes. This could be the closest he’s got to doing something like ABOLITIONIST since the band split with the guitars being distorted and drilling (check out ‘Time To Dream Big’ to hear some sinewy, snarling guitars) and the drums being less ‘obviously’ electronic than on his previous solo releases. Highlight for me is ‘(They’re In) A Trance’ that careers on a snappy riff with a stunningly sneering vocal delivery. Another totally enthralling and captivating release - no idea whether he’ll be able to keep this level of work (and inspiration) up in 2021, but let’s hope so.  OK - two more albums to listen to. (09.01.21)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2021 including: