Top Sounds - B

BAD BEACH - Seasick {Boss Tuneage} A truly gargantuan monster of UKHC from a band that was often quite polarising. You get 46 tracks spread over two CDs and it all kicks off with the band’s very own minor classic, the ‘Cornucopia’ album from 1987. Originally released on Manic Ears, it’s a raucous slice of slightly deranged Punk brilliance fusing some twisted and edgy riffs with vocalist Peter Jones’ unpredictable yet convincingly energetic vocal. Imagine NAKED RAYGUN fused with RUDIMENTARY PENI and delivered with a powerful ANTISECT dynamic and you’re close. I remember getting the album around 1988 and it was an instant love-or-hate listen. Me? I still love it - lots of memories. Disc one is filled out with two demos - one from ‘88 the other from ‘86 and both sound excellent with the former in particular having really strong production. Disc two features the ‘Cut It Off’ album from ‘88 and it’s almost a different band. Embracing more of a Jazz feel, a NOMEANSNO vibe is introduced. Oddly, the vocals of Jones don’t sound as dominant or as convincing. The album includes a PINK FAIRIES cover - another indication of the band’s mindset. It’s no way a bad album, it just lacks the bombastic conviction of the debut. An excellent reissue from one of the most underrated bands of the late 80s. And as always, superb packaging from Boss Tuneage. (30.08.13)

BAD COP/ BAD COP - Boss Lady {Fat Wreck} A thoroughly neat four-track 7" here from this new band (to me at least) that consists of four rocking ladies who have a finely tuned ear for melody and a knack for playing solid, punchy melodic Punk. Comparisons with FLIPSIDES are almost unavoidable, but the melody in the vocals here bring to mind DANCE HALL CRASHERS (minus any Ska influence) and even the greatness of early GO-GOS. Of the four songs, lead track ‘My Life’ is certainly the most instant while ‘Cucumber’ could be the EP highlight being a bit punchier and loaded with attitude. ‘Rodeo’ is a bit more atmospheric leading off with a bass riff before opening up into brings to mind TILT at their best. Closer ‘Asshole’ shows some arrogance and a nice kick in the band’s collective boot, bringing to mind the rocking cool of TEEN IDOLS. I imagine the band is much more confrontational live, but the melodic strength and soaring quality of the vocals here lends this a great magnetism. (31.07.14)

BANNER PILOT - Souvenir {Fat Wreck} I think I’m in the minority when I say that this band’s debut has always been, for me, their worst. This is album number four and, while not as impressive as the album below, still eclipses the debut. This seems a little more subdued and, in places, laboured than ‘Heart Beats Pacific’ with just a few too many filler tracks. It’s best moments are exceptional though; opener ‘Modern Shakes’ starts off rather sedately but opens into an instantly catchy and sublime chorus while closer ‘Summer Ash’ features a set of the best lyrics yet from vocalist Nick Johnson. You have out-right rockers in ‘Fireproof’ and ‘Hold Fast’ while highlight ‘Letterbox’ could claim to be the best yet form the band. The JAWBREAKER influence remains, especially on ‘Shoreline’ that combines all the best bits from ‘Dear You’ and yet doesn’t sound contrived. I did notice Dan Elston’s drumming here is quite excellent - understated but tight and inventive and frequently propelling the songs into a new dynamic. Still a thrilling sound when they get it right, but a few too many times here I found my mind wandering. (17.07.14)

BANNER PILOT - Heart Beats Pacific {Fat Wreck} Third album from this band and it picks up where the previous (and rather excellent) ‘Collapser’ left off. There’s still a massive JAWBREAKER circa ‘Dear You’ influence (check ‘Eraser’ or ‘Isolani’) but there seems to be a filling out of sound - opener ‘Alchemy’ must be among the band’s most accessible and rocking tracks so far. Other highlights include ‘Spanish Reds’ that pivots around a killer chorus not far from GOO GOO DOLLS (when they were cool and rocking), ‘Western Terminal’ that’s the album’s epic track and includes an excellent finale, and also the previously mentioned ‘Isolani’. There does seem to be a vague theme running through the album; I know the band is from Minneapolis and the Midwest is frequently name-checked along with the weather, a sense of solitude blooming into a relationship and, most apparently, travel. If there is a theme, it’s a little too obtuse to pick-up without some lateral thought. A really satisfying album driven by Nate Gangelhoff’s inventive guitar and omnipresent bass. I do kinda feel, though, album #4 will need a bit more than the over-worked JAWBREAKER sound we have heard too much too often so far. (23.04.12)

BARRY, TIM - Raising Hell And Living Cheap: Live In Richmond {Chunksaah} Let’s be honest: really good live albums are few and far between. Most are little more than greatest hits packages with crowd noise between songs. Fortunately, this package from TIM BARRY is among the best. It’s a double album, played at 45rpm and limited to 500. Mine is the sexy beer-splatter version. There’s 18 songs here performed in BARRY’s home town and, what makes this really, really work is that it sounds so natural and fluid. Apparently BARRY never realised it was being recorded, so there was no pressure to make it perfect. All the in between song banter remains and there are great, raw and passionate versions of ‘Church Of Level Track’, ‘40 Miler’ a close to perfect ‘Ronnie Song’ and closer ‘Avoiding Catatonic Surrender’ all rule. However, the strength of the album is in the sum of its parts making a solid live album totally worthy of release. TIM BARRY has always been one of the most credible people I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with and I’m pleased to say this is another highlight in a truly inspirational back catalogue. Um... In case you don’t know, BARRY was the vocalist in AVAIL too. Go figure. CD version available also as the limited vinyl has long gone! (18.09.14)

BEDFORD FALLS - Elegant Balloons {Boss Tuneage} I thought this lot split up years ago - must be at least a decade since I heard anything by them! Gotta say, I never rated the band that much but this has changed that opinion a bit. I still find the band’s sound too light and Indie Rock for my liking but the warm bouncy chords of opener ‘Cunningham’ pricked my interest, which stayed with me until the acoustic strumming and heartfelt beauty of ‘The Nearness Of You’ finished the album in plaintive style. There’s a big BUFFALO TOM vibe here, if mixed with LEMONHEADS and a splash of SWERVEDRIVER’s guitar blasting jams (check ‘Prick’). Oddly, it’s the less rocking tracks that standout; ‘Summerdress’ has a cool Country twang while ‘St. Swithin’s Day’ has delicate guitar passages before being engulfed in huge, warm chords. ‘Annabella’ is another highlight that sees Katie taking over lead vocals and adding a bright Power-Pop blast. Definitely better than exepcted and next time I think about playing BUFFALO TOM or THE POSIES, I might just reach for this instead. (26.10.12)

BERSICKER - s/t {DIY} Debut three-track CD demo of this new UK band and it’s clear from the packaging and the lyrics that they have something to say. Thankfully, there’s no sanctimonious preaching, just seeds of ideas about televised tragedy and the liberation of despots who were formally ‘friends’. Musically, I was expecting something a bit noisier; instead I got a very accomplished AMEBIX-gone-D-Beat deal that sounded, maybe, down-tuned a tad. Vocalist Stephen Frame has that echo-drenched vocal favoured by both AMEBIX and KILLING JOKE and the fact he is not discharging 100 words a minutes makes it very effective - especially given the subject matter. The lyrics sheet includes additional notes and thoughts and all told, this is a pretty solid debut that takes Anarcho Punk influences but channels them in a direction to suit today. (03.01.12)

BEVERLEY KILLS/ THE DESTRUCTORS - C’Etait La Guerre {Rowdy Farrago} Umpteenth split DESTRUCTORS CD but this one is cause for celebration as the ‘other’ band is new UK powerhouse BEVERLEY KILLS. The band’s made up of four ladies who can rock with more balls than most male bands when there are double the members. Soundwise, mix MUFFS roaring power with vague PENETRATION ‘77isms and the direct Punk sneer of early FACE TO FACE and you’re there. Their three tracks are the best on the CD, with ‘Flawed’ being particularly notable due to Georgie’s excellent vocal delivery. Oddly, and inspirationally, the band’s third track is the Michael Jackson song, ‘Ben’, but it’s given the full BK treatment. As for DESTRUCTORS? They’re getting a bit like the aural Punk equivalent of Coronation Street - reliable but a bit tedious with each song/episode being much the same with the odd notable exception. Unfortunately for them, no exceptions here - especially in the wake of BEVERLEY KILLS. (18.05.12)

BIG SEXY NOISE - Collision Course/ Trust The Witch {Cherry Red} A large hot double package from BIG SEXY NOISE that consists of Lydia Lunch on vocals cranking out some down-tuned, dirty blues jams with GALLON DRUNK’s James Johnston and Ian White. One CD is a studio album and fuses STOOGES dirt, MUDHONEY grunge and some PATTI SMITH style vocals - if Smith had been sultry, sexy, seductive and dangerous. Highlight is ‘Where You Gonna Run’ that focuses on holy wars and killing in the name of religion. Great lyrics, as they are throughout. Other goodies include the closing ‘Forever On The Run’ that revolves around a great riff and the downbeat and intimidating ‘Won’t Leave You Alone’. The other CD is live and much more raucous, less downbeat, more damaged, less grunge, more confrontational, less intimate. It makes for an interesting screaming and decadent juxtaposition from the studio album that is almost whispered and sultry. Bruising but beguiling stuff - going by the live disc, I’m guessing the shows were killer. (24.04.14)

BLASTED - Exposed {Dry Heave} This is a potent little bugger! Blasting (pun intended) outta London, this a trio playing 80s style Hardcore fusing VERBAL ABUSE and ANTIDOTE with CHRIST ON A CRUTCH, but adding some seriously sneering Garage Punk into the noxious brew. You get four tracks here that fly outta the speakers with such force they chased the House Of Scanner cat right outta the back door! ‘Exposed’ is the pick of the tunes with some relentless riffage and sussed lyrics about political bullshit. Of the other three thrillers, ‘Time To Die’ is a gravel-vocalled hardcore bellow with some ridiculously arresting lead guitar work while ‘Empty Head’ and ‘Warzone’ continue the bellicose barrage of raw, grizzled Garage core. This comes on flashy clear with colour splatter vinyl, download code and cover artwork that looks like a MINISTRY record with a foldout sleeve that’s more akin to SUBHUMANS (UK). Fucking hell - how can this fail? Raging! (15.11.14)

BLOCKO - South London Vs The World {Boss Tuneage} I always felt really sorry for BLOCKO - or should I say for my attitude towards them. Why? Well, they were a good band, with good songs and were decent fellas as well. Yet, for some reason, I just never really got into them. I saw them live a few times and wanted to like them but their brand of HDQ Punk mixed with MEGA CITY FOUR melodies just never worked for me. So, this whopping 29 track double CD from Boss Tuneage’s exemplary retro series didn’t thrill me. Have to say, the first three tracks were just as dismal as I remember but ‘Oimo’ - the one BLOCKO record I recall liking - sounds pretty fucking awesome here. Ringing and raging guitars, excellent production and songs the strength of girders! The remainder of the package is made up of compilation appearances, a live recording from Belfast in 2002, some ‘Oimo’ outtakes and an alternative mix of the ‘Edmondson Avenue’ album which sounds way better here than I gave it credit for back in 2003. This has actually aged much better than I thought it would and the fact a lot of this has been previously unreleased makes it an essential piece for those who may consider that they already have ‘all the vinyl’! Apologies fellas - I guess you have matured like a fine wine - or maybe I have??!! (28.10.12)

BONE IDLES, THE/ DANGER!MAN - Kaos Conspiracy {Rookie} A tasty 15 track split disc of raging Eurocore from genuine veterans of the scene. BONE IDLES kick off. Hailing from Germany, and featuring ex-members of SO MUCH HATE, they fire up from the off with the record’s title track and then pummel through another five tracks of ENDSTAND mixed with SLIME and a splash of APT 3G style German Hardcore. It’s fast, memorable, confrontational and impressive throwing in a few stabs and snappy lead breaks. Norway’s DANGER!MAN follow with five tracks of their stellar snotty abrasive Punk Rock. They include ex-members of LIFE...BUT HOW TO LIVE IT and also SO MUCH HATE and do the SPERMBIRDS played via SICK ON THE BUS with balls of D.O.A. The final four tracks are CD-only bonuses and include two covers by each band. BONE IDLES blast out FRAMTID and BEASTIE BOYS while DANGER!MAN go a more unconventional route with NEW PORNOGRAPHERS and even more oddly, YAZOO! A really interesting release and one that those who look only to the US of A for quality tunes really need to pick up. A big hitter this last winter here at the House Of Scanner. (22.12.13)

BOOTSCRAPER - S/T {TNS} Second album from this Leeds, UK band that has, without a doubt, the most original sound on the label’s roster. It’s an album of two parts; one is written (and sung) by guitarist Tim Loud, the other by banjoist C. C. Langhorne. The songs seem that much more focused on hyper-energised Folk music when compared with the debut and the musicianship is exceptional - especially Dan Bond’s mandolin. Think BLOOD OR WHISKEY’s ramshackle and roaring acoustic tunes mixed with a quality rarely seen since prime-time OYSTERBAND or MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG. Snag is, for me, Langhorne’s vocal - it comes on like Jack Sparrow trying to emulate Tom Waits wanting to be Chuck outta HOT WATER MUSIC. Loud’s vocals are much more concise and have a ringing quality about them. The two styles could be seen to work well, but often Langhorne’s vocal worked to the detriment of the songs - ‘Thieves Anthem’ in particular as it could’ve been the album highlight. As it is, ‘The Suffering’ is the winner here. Impressive stuff that’s more cohesive than the debut. (10.01.13)

BOSS MUSTANGS, THE - s/t {Spinout} This is a rather odd item to be sent to the House Of Scanner. The band hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan and this is their debut 10-track album. If you fused first album Led Zeppelin, ‘Back In The USA’ era MC5 and The Datsuns before throwing in a bit of SONICS Garage Rock and a splice of early Aerosmith, you’d be close to the 60s Garage Rock these dudes peddle. Highlights? ‘The Island Of Misfit People’ took the riff-a-rama of Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer trade-offs to an impressive level and included a kinda spoken word ‘testimonial’ in the outro, the fuzzed sleaze of ‘Dead Society’ and ‘Never See The Day’ that takes raw TRASHMEN grooves and runs with them. Ultimately though, for my singed ears, I need my Garage Rock a bit faster, a whole lot dirtier, distinctly more sneering and a whole lot less guitar-solo drenched. Neat vintage looking graphics and very cool matching paisley print jackets though. (26.03.12)

BRAIN F - Sleep Rough {Grave Mistake/ Sorry State} Judging by the cover, I imagined this to be a homage to the archetypal ‘Fest Sound’ - you know the stuff - HOT WATER MUSIC, checked shirts, beards, DILLINGER FOUR, suburbia, MENZINGERS, beards... How wrong! This is a fucking filthy sounding album and I love it! Imagine BLATZ songs played via DRIVE LIKE JEHU on GAUNT’s gear while fixed in the mind-set of late 70s Killed By Death rarities and you’re close to the aural beauty/ savagery here. Oddly, I kept hearing a big X feel too - it could be the traded female/ male vocals, but it runs deeper - at the core of these songs are basic Rock ‘n’ Roll ragers laden with the ‘X’ quality mark. Highlights? The sub 60-second blitz of ‘Lie About Diet’, the arrogant swagger of ‘Marathon Tops’, the immediate aural attack of opener ‘V-2’ and the disc stealing, fuzz-laden bounty that is ‘Seawall, See’. The band hails from North Carolina and this is, I think, their debut album. Apparently, it was recorded in vocalist Elize’s garage and if any record from 2011 defines a classic ‘garage’ sound that’s totally untainted by corporate smoothing, it’s this baby. Rocking and noxious. I love it - and you should too. (09.03.12) 

BRIEFS, THE - Singles Only {Modern Action} OK, we all know (or at least we fucking should!) that THE BRIEFS rule. That premise alone suggests you need this; the fact it’s an absolute beaut example of packaging and a limited edition suggests that if you don’t want it, you’re the kinda ‘Punk’ who could fall into a swimming pool full of nipples and still end up sucking cock. What you got here are five 7" singles (virginal white vinyl) that compile all of the band’s single releases. So yeah, among the 18 tracks you get classics like ‘We Americans’, ‘Gary Glitters Eyes’, ‘She’s Abrasive’ and ‘C’mon Squash Me Like A Bug’. But that’s not all - you also get an unreleased 6-song demo tape (yep, cassette) from 1999, a booklet, badge, poster and a download card for a spiffing 30+ tracks of BRIEFS Punk. It’s apparent that so much dedication has gone into this whole package from Modern Action and, for once, it’s a box set that contains items of genuine interest and stunning, melodic, snotty Punk Rock from one of the best bands of recent years. Essential? Fucking right!! (13.11.13)


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