Top Sounds - S

SCHIZOS - s/t {Sweet Time} Well, this sure ain’t the sound we know from Nashville!! Think the brutal distorto Garage Punk of REATARDS, TEEN GENERATE and VILETONES played with maximum snotty disgust and you’ll be there. Add on a bad live recording of THE GERMS and the aural assault of DOUBLE NEGATIVE and you’re even closer. Tracks like ‘Trapped Inside Tennessee’, ‘Banned In Birmingham’, ‘Dead Routine’ (that features a frantic guitar riff) and the nihilism of ‘Juice Is Loose’ should state where this is coming from, and where it’s heading. Gutteral, psychotic, noxious Garage Punk Fucking Rock. Nuff said. (15.02.21)
SCREECHING WEASEL - Some Freaks Of Atavism {Recess} Well - this surprised me! A real return to form for Ben and the latest incarnation of the WEASEL. Opener, ‘She Ain’t Your Baby’ is a prime time blast - could easily have been on ‘Anthem For A New Tomorrow’ in fact. From there you get another 13 tracks which, while not quite up there with the likes of ‘My Brain Hurts’, this is probably the band’s best since ‘Major Label Debut’. Plenty of highlights be it the sneering ‘To Hell With You’ that features some rather BAD RELIGION-esque backing ohhs-and-ahhs vocals, the stuttering ‘Brain In A Jar’, the mid-paced swagger and demure guitar lead of ‘Losing My Mind’ and the classic Ben Weasel loser traits of ‘Never Been In Love’ that features a majestic key change while best track is a dual between closer ‘Bleed Through Me’ and the rather dark and sinister ‘God Help Us’. Interesting use of keyboards throughout too; nothing to overriding but noticeably filling out the sound. There’s very little to dislike here; in fact the only negative is the minimal packaging - no lyric sheet, no download code but nice red vinyl. (05.05.21)
SENSIBLE GRAY CELLS - Get Back Into The World {Damaged Goods} PODCAST PLAYED Second album for this on/off project featuring Captain Sensible and Paul Gray of THE DAMNED (keyboard player Monty also guests on a track) and you know what? It’s really rather fantastic! Of the 12 tracks, highlights include the title track that certainly evokes THE DAMNED’s own ‘Grimly Fiendish’ in its composition and harpsichord section but is infinitely better, ‘Black Spider Memo Man’ pulls the Psychedelic sound of ROBYN HITCHCOCK and MARTIN NEWELL with swirling keys and lush backing vocals, ‘Stupid Dictators’ clattered like early WHO and ‘DJ With Half A Brain’ even brought to mind THE JAM, albeit with a wild wah-wah laden guitar solo from Captain. Obviously, the specter of THE DAMNED hangs heavily over this. Every song did lead me to the question, “Could The Damned have done this?” Generally the answer was no, but in the case of both ‘So Long’ and album highlight ‘Fine Fair-Weather Friend’ I could hear Dave Vanian singing - the latter especially would have benefited from his croon (and the closing atmospheric keyboard drone could be lifted straight from ‘Curtain Call’). There’s a lot to like here; Captain keeps guitar heroics to a minimum, Gray’s bass playing is inventive, mercurial even and pushes everything along while drummer Marty Love (of JOHNNY MOPED’s band) makes a solid claim that maybe he should be the new DAMNED drummer. Limited edition came with a 12” EP (both sides decidedly Psychedelic) and on splatter vinyl. And I haven’t even mentioned the very baronial-sounding dig at Prince Andrew. Highly recommended!! (14.06.21)
SENSIBLE GRAY CELLS - So Long {Damaged Goods} Ohh - this is interesting! Latest version of this project from THE DAMNED’s Captain Sensible teaming up with the band’s best bassist, Paul Gray. This is a two-track 7” which is a prequel to the second album. I think it’s limited, but with both tracks taken from the album, it’s hardly essential bar to those collectors. Lead track opens with some very ethereal, psychedelic keyboards before opening up into a track that could easily have fitted very well onto THE DAMNED’s recent ‘The Rockfield Files’ release. Big keyboard breakdown in the middle, Gray’s bass powering the whole thing along - bit of a stunner. Flip the red wax and we get ‘What’s the Point Of Andrew?’ which is, obviously, a very pointed commentary at the philandering prince. Includes THE DAMNED’s Monty on keyboards and has a similar psychedelic whimsy as TELEVISION PERSONALITIES. Very sedate, very hazy and very directed. Nice vintage looking sleeve (the sleeve fold-arounds look so real - even now I’m checking them for about the tenth time!), nice record - roll on the album!! (26.01.21)
SLACKERS, THE - Nobody’s Listening {Pirates Press} Limited two track 12” ultra-violet disc (note - both tracks are on one side on black vinyl, the other is a full colour digital print) from these New York City Ska mainstays. Lead track is an up-tempo cracker, kinda like THE SPECIALS with a NYC groove and fantastic brass solo. The flip, ‘Sleep Outside’ is more of a Rock Steady groover, with a lyric that looks at eviction and the general state of the US nation. Have to say, I usually avoid a lot of Ska-Punk stuff, but this is fantastic - more in a traditional Ska style than that irritating shite peddled by the likes of Mad Caddies. This contains way more substance and even something approaching menace. Production is crisp and the tracks appear to be recorded live.. Great stuff - I like it!! (31.01.21)

SLACKERS, THE - Blue (Pirates Press} Huh? Another single already?? Given how impressed I was with the single below, I sure ain’t complaining. This time it’s a 7” limited to a 1,000 copies on four different colours of vinyl. Lead track ‘Blue’ is a dub-heavy tune with a bass line as heavy as ‘Jah war’ and a brass arrangement as haunting as ‘Ghost Town’. It’s actually a push to get the American voters voting in the right - blue - direction (which thankfully they did). The flip is a dub-version of the same tune that applies all I said above but to depth charge levels. Gotta say, I prefer the release above, but this still impresses and especially the message behind the music. (31.01.21)

SPECTRES - Nostalgia {Artoffact} PODCAST PLAYED I thought the previous album from this Vancouver band, ‘Utopia’, was a modern classic of Goth/ Dark Punk type stuff. This, the band’s fourth, is a worthy follow-up and sees the sound a little lighter in places and typified by opener ‘The Head And The Heart’ that has distinct echoes of JOY DIVISION. Eight songs follow, not a duffer among them with particular highlights being ‘When Possessed Pray’ has hints of THE CURE, closer ‘Along The Waterfront’ and the urgent, surging ‘Pictures From Occupied Europe’ while best track is most likely ‘Insurgence’ that literally explodes and then flows on a pulsing bass, tribal drums and insistent guitar. Have to say, the vocal performance of Brian Gustavson on this album is awesome mixing ethereal almost frail musings (see ‘Dreams’) with a more bombastic delivery echoing THEATRE OF HATE on some of the tracks mentioned. Visually, just like ‘Utopia’, this looks fantastic pressed on frost white vinyl with very sharp, clean graphics that follow the colour of the vinyl with added navy blue. Absolute stunner and yes, probably my favourite release from 2020 and one that just gets better with each listen. (08.02.21)

SUNSHINE STATE - The Mess {DIY} Second album, and download only it seems, from this band that features ex-AGAINST ME! drummer Warren Oakes and WHISKEY AND CO’s Troy Perlman. You get ten tracks that, like the debut album, display a great sense for songwriting and the AGAINST ME! vibe of the debut isn’t as apparent here. In fact, there’s a vague SOUL ASYLUM feel to a lot of these songs if mixed with the dramatic sounds of TEXAS IS THE REASON. Opener ‘Hard Life’ certainly has those SOUL ASYLUM parallels while ‘Comfort’ shows the TEXAS... comparison. Other goodies include ‘Recover’ that starts like THE CURE before morphing into something SAMIAM could do and ‘Keller Family Curse’ that has guitar tones to match the sonic blast of DINOSAUR JR while highlight ‘Decision’ is probably the closest they get to an AGAINST ME! sound but throw some really effective keyboards into the mix. Hopefully someone has the good sense to give this a physical release - it surely deserves it. (15.01.21)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2021 including:

THE SCANERS, SCHOOL DRUGS, SCREAMING AT TRAFFIC, SHADRACKS (2 reviews), SICK BAGS, SIGNAL CRIMES, SINGING LUNGS (2 reviews), SKEPTIC?, SLED, SMIERC, SNFU, SNIVELLING SHITS, SNUFF, SOMETHING HAPPENING, SONGS FOR SNAKES (2 reviews), SPEAR OF DESTINY, SPERMBIRDS, SPOILERS (2 reviews), STANK VOOR DANK, STATE FUNERAL, STAY CLEAN JOLENE, STEVE ADAMYK BAND, STEVE IGNORANT'S SLICE OF LIFE, STEVE IGNORANT WITH PARANOID VISIONS, STRUNG OUT, FRANKIE STUBBS, SUBHUMANS, SUICIDE GENERATION, SUICIDE MACHINES, SUSPECT PARTS, SWEET THINGS and SWINGIN' UTTERS (2 reviews)