Top Sounds - A

ABOLITIONIST - The Growing Disconnect {1859} Second full album from this trio of political Punks outta Portland - and it’s a ripper! You get eight tracks that are loosely based around the theory of a ‘growing disconnect’ between the US military and its civilian population - possibly leading to a military coup. It’s an interesting theory and one that is present with intelligence in the lyrics of some great songs. A JAWBREAKER influence is still predominant but it’s now mixed with a bit of a FUGAZIesque dynamic and a DILLINGER FOUR urgency. Highlights are plenty - the album’s closer ‘They Can’t Kill Us All’, the taut, unsettling ‘Tattoo’, ‘Are We So Grateful?’ that’s almost a drone of scathing disgust and ‘Don’t Call It A Coup’ which could be the album’s high. In fact, each track is strong and with the theme, it’s a convincing listen that aligns itself with the thoughts of Biafra and Vic Bondi rather than a nihilistic ‘fuck the world’ rhetoric. Excellent graphics too - easy contender for one of 2013’s best. (25.02.14)

ABOLITIONIST - At The Level Of The Ear {1859) Two track 7" from this band outta Portland and an endearing slice of political Punk it is. The lead song instantly brought to mind the raw, melodic Punk of CRINGER; it’s a track that seemed to want to go a bit faster but was restrained and all the better for it. The flip, ‘Lie’, does speed things up a bit, but not to the point of bludgeoning the listener and throws in a mix of FIFTEEN with a MEASURE (SA) feel. A percentage of all money raised via this 7" goes toward helping Rwanda recover after the 1994 genocide - it’s a cause highlighted by the stark, brutal cover artwork and the lyrics of the lead track. It’s great to see something as openly political in Punk Rock today and it’s a trait that seems to flow through the band’s ideals. Thoughts and ideas or blind nihilism? Both have a place in Punk Rock, but only the former can instigate change. It’s good to see a band that embraces the former whole-heartedly. (05.09.13)

ADICTS, THE - All The Young Droogs {DC-Jam} Excuse me while I wax lyrical for a while, but anyone who is from my hometown of Ipswich, UK and grew up with Punk Rock in the 80s probably had one of their very first experiences of live Punk Rock at the hands of THE ADICTS. There was a run of classic singles and the first three albums still stand up today when compared with anything else of the era - especially the classic debut album, 'Songs Of Praise'. However, the band has been guilty of releasing some absolute shite - 'Fourth Overture' and, especially, 'Rise And Shine' are painful listens - excruciating even. I've not heard an ADICTS album since 'Rise And Shine' in fact - it put me off that fucking much! So, I was a tad apprehensive about this new album. It's certainly the band's best since 'Smart Alex' and in opener 'Battlefield W1' and 'Horror Show' you have a couple of songs that could've appeared on 'Sounds Of Music'. Elsewhere, the title track evokes some near-dub CLASHisms, 'Hello My Dear Old Friend' is cheesy but totally addictive (no pun intended) and fits neatly beside the band's best - 'Bad Boy'. 'Rage Is The Rage' has a T-REX quality and 'To Us Tonight' is a drinkers anthem that SLADE could've written in the early 70s. Actually, continued playing really highlights a 70s Slade/T-Rex/Kinks sound to a lot of the songs and each listen adheres it to those early ADICTS records ever more. It's not without its faults - a bit more pace in places would've helped and at least one song could've been left off altogether. As it is, I think I had better check out those ADICTS album between the ridiculous 'Rise And Shine' and this one. (31.08.13)

AGAINST THE GRAIN - Motor City Speed Rock {Self Destructo} The album’s title says it all mofo! This is the 11-track debut from this quartet outta Detroit (where else?!) and it’s a beaut 10" pressed on lime green opaque vinyl. I like it already!! As for the sounds - phew - remove anything that’s inflammable before you play it cuz this ball-buster singed my eye brows and left skid marks on the carpet with the velocity and rampant intensity of sound as it barrelled outta the speakers. Think MOTORHEAD played by NEW BOMB TURKS while trying to sound a bit like THE DWARVES with a hint of TURBONEGRO for good measure. Tracks like ‘Always A Fight’ and ‘Ride On’ contain more stellar riffs in each song than Iron Maiden can even contemplate while ‘Livin’ Fear’ is a sub-one minute slice of manic HC Punk. I’ve read that the band’s latest release is a bit more ‘stoner metal’ influenced and that’s hinted at here on ‘Night Of The Wolf’, so be sure to pick this up first if your ears are Punk Rockin’attuned like mine. Relentless riffage of the best quality!! (24.07.14)

AMPERE - Like Shadows {No Idea} Think ya know the kinda ear-honey No Idea releases? Well, think again you at the back with the beard, because after nine years and a plethora of splits and other releases, AMPERE drops its debut album - all 15 tracks of it that bulldoze by in under 14 minutes - and it's in-fucking-cinerating, scathing, discordant, tumultuous white noise. Take equal parts DAS OATH disjointed volative Hardcore, add BORN AGAINST ideals, CONVERGE aural assault and an EXTREME NOISE TERROR brevity and have the result brain-washed at the hands of SWING KIDS and you have an idea of the lacerating fury here. Highlights were certainly the more structured tracks, be it 'Centuries Fled', 'Of Nightmare Reality' and 'We Neither Rise Nor Fall'. Not a release I'll be returning to too often, but when I'm sick of the entire world and all the fuckwits that inhabit it, this kinda total sensory assault will do me nicely. Neat CD booklet too, printed on swanky textured paper. Mmmm.... (05.01.12)

ANARCHITEX - Digital Dark Age {C.I.A} Continuing the fine and long tradition of quality yet challenging Texas Punk Rock bands, this 4-piece come from Houston and has delivered a confrontational and totally addictive 16-track album. There's a real vintage feel about this with many of the tracks bringing to mind TH' INBRED if mixed with NOMEANSNO and a hint of classic MDC. Highlights are plenty, be it the stop-start gunfire delivery of 'Blank Wall', the lurching FLIPPERisms of 'Guilty Rat Jump' or DICKS dynamics of 'Chain Of Cigarettes'. Then there's the pounding 'We Are More Intelligent', the quirky New Wave feel of 'Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?' or, the highlight, 'Nightmares' with its excellent lyrics and warped accessibility. Lyrically the whole album has a nice politicised yet cynical outlook that's been coupled with Winston Smith-style graphics. A great album that's only let down by some hit and miss production/ mastering. Wired and quirky, intense and intelligent - everything that seems to be lost in much of today's Punk Rock. Recommended. (10.10.12)

ANCHORS - Lost At The Bottom Of The World {Creator Destructor} A smoking 12 track album here that comes over like RISE AGAINST and GOOD RIDDANCE but with a hint of Hardcore Revelation Records’ (think SPEAK 714, BATTERY, SHADES APART) sound in places. The band is a five-piece from over the ditch in Melbourne, Australia and they gel together to form a combustible, proficient slab of soaring, melodic Punk. Highlight has to be ‘Cold Snap’ that pivots around a sharp riff and great chorus. Elsewhere the rage and gravel-vocalled bitterness of ‘Safety First, Then Teamwork’ is countered by the comparatively sedate closer ‘New Limit’ while ‘Grimes’ just mashes it all together to stake its claim as the album’s top tune. The artwork - or I guess I should say photography - is clever given the album’s title and the band’s Australian location. All in all, this is a bit of a winner - especially if the ideal of FARSIDE coupled with A WILHELM SCREAM rattles your dags. (26.05.14)

ANTHRAX - All For The Cause {Grow Your Own} Some 30 years after the classic debut single, 'Capitalism Is Cannibalism' on Crass Records, comes the band's debut album. The reformation single 'One Last Drop' was good (and is included on this 13 tracker), but from the opening blast of 'Sleeping Dogs' it's clear this is a bigger, bolder and way more potent sound. The guitars in particular leap outta the speakers but not at the expense of a powerful rhythm section. As for vocalist Oscar, well, he's still as bitter and sneering as he was on the Small Wonder 7" but now has a power about his voice that was previously absent. Highlights? Well, there isn't a single dull track here but the raging 'Another', the tribal 'Abracadabra' and 'Happy' all would claim best track but it's closer 'Hunger Pains' and the atmospheric 'Grin' that take that title. Packaging is exemplary; the disc comes in a full colour digipack with a foldout poster and a glossy 14-page A5 zine/ booklet of lyrics and images. Then, it's all popped into a printed envelope. Awesome - everything about this is sheer quality but even if you take the sublime packaging away, you are left with an absolute killer album of raging British Punk Rock. It doesn't get much better. (12.02.13)

ARROGANT BASTARDS, THE - Back To Myself {DIY} A fantastically named band and one that I thought would puke out expletive-laden Exploited-style tunes. Thankfully, that is not the case. This is a trio outta Detroit and they play solid, melodic Punk Rock with a hint of classic barroom Rock ‘n’ Roll - think CHANNEL 3 mixed with ‘Hangtime’ era SOUL ASYLUM with the bite of WHATEVER... thrown in. Highlight for me was ‘Second Chance’ that featured a real impressive arrangement while both ‘Wake Up’ and ‘I.D.C’ kept the Hardcore flag flying. ‘Alcatraz’ is an acoustic-based cracker while ‘Best Friends’ emphasised the SOUL ASYLUM vibe. If there is a fault, it’s that some of the vocals are a bit flat giving things a vague J CHURCH feel but without matching Lance’s wonderfully plaintive vocal. A minor quibble; this is the kinda release that I love about DIY Punk - it’s well done, thoughtful and comes straight from the band. Don’t take my word for it though - you can download it for free HERE. (14.04.14) 

A SECRET POLICEMAN'S BALL - Teenage Crimewave {MVD} First off, what a terrible fucking name for a band!! Truly bizarre. Secondly, the actual sounds are not much better; in fact, they're worse. Apparently, the band - which hails from Nashville and was the recipient of the 2012 'Hot Topic Band Grant' - has been at this six years and this is the debut album. It starts off all mellow and is quite refreshing in an ethereal kinda way. But then these loud, indie rock guitars come in (loud as in something like Radiohead, not loud as in REATARDS) over which is the most annoying screamo (I think...) vocal - all strained, bellicose and, most apparently, rather contrived. In fact, it inspired me to do something I really, really try to resist while reviewing - and that's turn the turgid thing off after the fifth track. Comparisons? I have no idea - hints of HOLE but with added keyboards and worse songs, a less sensationalist Marilyn Manson gone indie roots-rock maybe? Whatever - it leaves me cold. (25.06.13)

AUTONOMADS - One Day All This Will Be Gone... EVERYTHING NOW! {Pumpkin/ Ruin Nation} Third album from this Manchester, UK 5-piece and it’s a confident, angry sound that takes its cues from the early-mid 80s Anarcho-Dub vibe of RADICAL DANCE FACTION, CULTURE SHOCK, RHYTHM PIGS and CHUMBAWAMBA but making it sound incredibly vital in today’s modern climate. Of the 12 tracks, there isn’t a single duffer but highlights would be the opening ‘Conditions Of The Working Class’ that starts with a sparse snare before lurching into a trippy Reggae vibe with great male/ female dual vocals and neat organ played over some distorto Punk guitars. From there, ‘The (A) Word’ recalls early BLAGGERS ITA, ‘Our Elizabeth’ is a seriously anthemic and catchy song played with the venomous zeal of FREAKS UNION while ‘Coppers In The Dance’ is a Dub-heavy, meandering slice of greatness. Elsewhere, closer ‘Everything Now’ is an a'cappella tune with bite and ‘Gary Fisher’ is an acoustic romp complete with fiddle that would not be outta place on a MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG album. Stellar stuff and the insightful political dynamic puts this right up among the best of 80s Anarcho figureheads. A big player here at the House Of Scanner and something that could make a surprising claim to 2014’s album of the year. (09.11.14)

AUTONOMADS/ BLACK STAR DUB COLLECTIVE - From Rusholme With Dub {TNS, Pumpkin, Active, Rodent Popsicle, Mass, General Strike, Antikoerper, Abracadaboum} Five tracks a piece on this split that features two bands outta Manchester, England that both groove as oppose to thrash. AUTONOMADS is up first with a Ska-Dub track called 'Best Of Both' that draws parallels with the free-festival vibe of the late 80s a'la RADICAL DANCE FACTION and P.A.I.N. Other tracks show a more aggressive feel with a few spoken words passages in parts - that's particularly effective on disc highlight '2000BP' that brought a CHUMBAWAMBA feel to the sound. BLACK STAR DUB COLLECTIVE is, as ya might expect, a heavy-dub Reggae deal that includes Mike from HARIJAN on vocals. I'm not really a fan of this kinda stuff but 'Instant Injustice', which pivoted around a neat guitar refrain, kept my attention. I heard a lot of PUBLIC IMAGE LTD's 'Metal Box' in the Wobble-esque bass, hints of DEPTH CHARGE, lyrics that are soci-political bordering on Anarchistic and its presented in a very neat digipack. A quality release that sees nine labels working together, resulting in a thought-provoking and accomplished, well matched pairing. (14.01.13)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2012 including: