Top Sounds - B

BAD COP BAD COP - Warriors {Fat Wreck} Second album from this hot-rocking four piece and, while this isn’t quite as instant as the debut below, it has plenty of substance behind the initial listen. The songs seem more equally divided between those that Stacey Dee sings and those of Jennie Cotterill, which makes for a good balance. Stacey’s vocal is more abrasive but one that holds melody well while Jennie has a smoother, more GO-GO’S vocal style. There are plenty of good moments here too, be it the instant appeal of opener ‘Retrograde’, or the slacker-rock groove of ‘Amputations’. The title track is a convincing band anthem while ‘Kids’ is a rollicking song with a very serious message of child abuse. Lyrically the band tackles more than a few issues with several songs about identity, sexual equality, suicide and friendship while album highlight ‘Womanarchist’ is a witty and intelligent request for peaceful co-existence. Got a big CHIXDIGGIT feel from this too in that the songs are catchy and melodic but rock out like CHEAP TRICK playing RAMONES. It gets better on successive plays too... The veritable grower! (15.08.17)

BAD COP/ BAD COP - Not Sorry {Fat Wreck} Well, fuck me! These four sassy ladies have done it! The recent ‘Boss Lady' 7" impressed but I wondered whether they had the substance to make an enjoyable album. Well, this is most fun album I’ve heard in a long while. Think THE MUFFS, ‘Hootenanny’-era REPLACEMENTS, 60s girl-group harmonies cranked up on distorted guitars and some absolutely killer songs with humour and you’re there. ‘Old Dogs’, ‘Sugarcane’ and ’The Wood’ are bristling bubblegum Punk moments, ‘I’m Alright’ has a Reggae opening before developing into a slow burner, ‘Here’s To You’ is a Countrified romp that the ‘MATS would’ve been proud of while ‘Like, Seriously?’ has a wicked sense of humour while making a point too. There are neat little additions at the end of some tracks - studio talk, a few Spector-ish girl group harmonies and general witticisms while the addition of different instruments (a xylophone is on at least one track) give it depth and add more fun. Sure, there aren’t many ‘statements’ here (although ‘Sugarcane’ has a pointed message on domestic violence) but neither did THE RAMONES. You want music that’s gonna make ya smile, wanna dance and rocks like fuck while doing it? Then welcome BAD COP/ BAD COP - your new favourite band. (21.04.16)

BAD CREDENTIALS - s/t {Smegma} Formed about a year ago in Plymouth, England, this trio has just released its debut five track EP. Opener ‘Dead Eyed Woman’ saw me thinking of SUPERSUCKERS to an extent; it’s a full-on rocker with a mid-paced riff and has that ‘SUCKERS kinda bounce. The rest of the EP certainly brought to mind ‘Lets Go’era RANCID both in sound and pace. It’s well-played stuff with ‘The Blind Don’t See The Sun’ being the highlight with a bit of an increase in pace and brazen, raucous vocal. Closer ‘Let’s Get Drunk Again’ sounds like the perfect sing-a-long CREDENTIALS track and I’m sure in a live setting these fellas put on a good, fun show. Had these five tracks appeared on the ‘British Punk Invasion’ series on High Society Records, I’m pretty sure they would’ve been one of the standout bands. Solid stuff for a debut but not quite finding that magical ‘thing’ to make it really stand out. Came with a welcome bit of bubblegum too! (24.09.15)

BAD DRESS SENSE - We Rule! {Boss Tuneage} Third in the Boss Tuneage series of made-to-order only releases (which means, if you’re reading this just got excited about it - too late - it’s sold out already). This one features what was (unfairly) considered to be Ed Shred’s other band after THE STUPIDS, which he formed with members of THE BREAKNECKS. You get 20 tracks culled from demos and a Radio One session, with much of it the 1986 ‘Gothic Monstrosities’ demo that constantly reminded me of DAG NASTY (check ‘Dark Knight’ and ‘It’s All In The Mind’) while ‘Obsession’ seemed to steal a MISFITS riff. The second demo, recorded late in 1986, saw a broadening of influences (and shite guitar sound). A 1987 John Peel session proves to hold the album’s best moments with a raging ‘Never So Funny’ and the slower, disc dual highlight of ‘Cynical Smile’ and ‘Life’s Demand’ which have a greater Revolution Summer/ SQUIRRELBAIT kinda sound. Choice cover of BLONDIE’s ‘11.59’ too. Usual minimal packaging for this series with a half-wraparound sleeve but with an excellent full colour insert. As said, this is already out of press. If you snoozed, you definitely losed!! (13.10.17)

BAD SPORTS - Living With Secrets {Dirtnap} I really enjoyed the previous ‘Kings Of The Weekend’ album. This new seven track mini-album, while impressive, lacks the nitro-infused adrenalin of that album. Songs are a bit slower and more varied in style, which ain’t always a bad thing. The sound in general is a BUZZCOCKS meets NERVES meets RADIO BIRDMAN vibe which is apparent on the opener ‘Don’t Get Your Hopes Up’ and the title track, while ‘Done To Death’ has hints of OBSERVERS. ‘Anymore’ lurches like early WIRE, while both ‘Pacify My Love’ and ‘Where Are You?’ keep the antipodean vibe going being decidedly akin to THE SAINTS with the latter adding a bit of acoustic guitars. Maybe this is an experimental record, or possibly even a transitional one, but it is noticeably more adventurous, slower in tempo, darker in mood and, I have to say, less enjoyable than that ‘Kings Of The Weekend’ album. This was originally conceived as a run of three singles rather than a stand-alone 12". Does it work better in this format?? The first two songs would make a great 7" for sure but with the remaining five songs, and the new approach, the songs do have a stronger continuity in this format. A grower. (27.06.17)

BANDAGES - North Caroline Singles Series {Sorry State} Brutal two-track 7" single that fuses BORN DEAD ICONS with hints of BORN AGAINST and a splodge of BL’AST. Main track, ‘All Extreme Measures’ starts with a droning, slow riff before going off in multiple directions while the flip, ‘Tokyo Carwash’ is certainly the better track in my humble opinion. There’s more direction to it, it hits harder and generally works better, especially in the 7" format. Dunno why, but the vocalist really reminds me of someone who I can’t quite place.... This is the band’s debut release and includes members of such notables as DOUBLE NEGATIVE, FUTURE BINDS and SHOXX. Anyway, this comes with a download code and, while it rages and spits and generally demands your corrupted attention, I can’t see myself buying a full album by the band - yet. Limited to 300 too. (28.07.16)

BASEMENT BENDERS - Lydiad {No Idea} First time I’ve come across this quartet that features ex-members of THIS BIKE IS A PIPE BOMB, CAVITY, FUTURE VIRGINS among others which is based in the Chattanooga area of Tennessee. It’s interesting stuff too, taking that typical Plan-It-X sound and mixing in OFF WITH THEIR HEADS aggression, some HOT WATER MUSIC dynamics and a few early SOUL ASYLUM jams. There’s a good fusing of raspy male/ ebullient female vocals and highlights include ‘Lydia’, ‘Owen Hart’ that kicks off with a ramalama riff before morphing into something reflective and anthemic, ‘Up North’ that has one of those classic Plan-It-X celebratory choruses while ‘Trick Of The Light’ is a rollicking way to finish the album. Highlight though is ‘Modern Machine’ that starts with a jittery riff a’la THE BRIEFS, has a sneering chorus and lyrically deals with some kind of chest tumour and the fact that the health system is totally money-driven. Good stuff and, for those who rated THIS BIKE IS A PIPE BOMB, you’ll be pleased with the outcome here. (30.11.16)

BAZOOKA FIST - Not So Fancy {DIY} New band to me blasting outta Brisbane, Australia with this six track mini-album. Had to check the band’s origin after the first track that sees vocalist Tel threatening to 'fuck-you-up' in his broad Scottish brogue. From there, the remaining five tracks are bruising, sneering rockers fusing DEAD BOYS with SUPERSUCKERS and a good dollop of NEW BOMB TURKS thrown in for good measure. There’s not really a duff track here - and I bet they are fucking killer live - but highlights would be the rampant closer ‘Panzerfaust’ or ‘On The Box’ that contains one of the most singalong choruses to come outta Australia since early HARD ONS. The band’s got a couple of guitarists and given the couple of shredding guitar solos here - which have more in common with Cheetah Chrome’s ability to enhance a song as opposed to those widdle-twiddle metal wank things that ruin them - it’s clear they can play some serious garage Punk leads as well as detonating riffs. It’s pretty hedonistic stuff lyrically and I’m more than a bit interested to see where these fellas go next. (11.05.17)

BEACH SLANG - Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street {Tiny Engines} First time I’ve come across this rather fantastically named trio outta Philadelphia. You get four tracks here with the lead, ‘All Fuzzed Out’ a mass of ringing guitars, breathy yet raspy vocals and a definite nod to the sounds of both SWERVEDRIVER and SUGAR. ‘Dirty Cigarettes’ takes the highlight though, as it infuses that sound with a JAWBREAKER abrasion without losing the ringing, chiming charm of the opener and includes some excellent ‘MATS-esque lyrics. The closer, ‘We Are Nothing’ brings out the acoustic guitars and along with those, a vague PSYCHEDELIC FURS dynamic. A really impressive EP from this band that features ex-WESTON man, James Snyder and one that, oddly, kept me thinking of BIG STAR - but amped to dizzying proportions. Definitely a band to watch. (24.07.15)

BEAT, THE - Live In London {Westworld} Even though I bought the ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ single back in 1980-something, I never really got into THE BEAT. So, this double disc live set recorded back in 1989 was onto a bit of a loser before I even played it. It started in splendid form however with ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’ and ‘Too Nice To Talk To’ but I soon found my attention wandering and the tapping foot stopped as narcolepsy kicked in. The double hit of ‘Get A Job’/’Stand Down Margaret’ was great, as was ‘Two Swords’. ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ however was dragged out with improvisation that had more to do with HAWKWIND than THE BEAT and ‘Tears Of A Clown’ just sounded a bit... well... dull. Glad to hear all the in between song banter left in, but too often it was a case of Ranking Roger shouting "Rudeboy" with very little other substance. I guess BEAT fans will like this - all the hits are there plus some - but I found it a bit mission to sit through in spurts of more than five songs at a time. "Yah hear tha’ ruuudeboi!!!" (28.12.16)

BIB - Pop {Deranged} Don’t be fooled; there ain’t no pop songs here!! Omaha, Nebraska’s BIB crank out five frightening, reverb-drenched, distorto cacophonies that brought to mind WHATEVER BRAINS insanity, the fear-inducing horror of THE MENTALLY ILL and the FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS damaged, echo-laden Punk jams. Each track virtually bleeds into the next with highlights being ‘Pseudo Punk’ that ups the ante a bit and the droning, bilious ‘Empty’. Closer ‘P.M.F’ is a veritable out-of- control car crash while opener ‘Anxiety’ induces just that on the average listener. A truly bruising slice of lo-fi Punk that’s no comfortable listening but something that demands multiple listens. I spun it three times in a row when I first listened; it’s oddly addictive, decidedly abstract but sonically damnable. Dunno about you, but that makes for a pretty fucking intriguing mix!! (28.12.16)

BLACK, PETER - Clearly You Didn’t Like The Show {Boss Tuneage} Talk about prolific!! If you don’t know the name, PETER BLACK, you’ll probably know his alter-ego - Blackie of THE HARD ONS. This is apparently the guy’s fourth solo album, so taking HARD ONS and NUNCHUKKA SUPERFLY work into consideration, that’s a lot of out put. There are 14 songs here, all of which are played on an acoustic guitar and very ethereal, using the light, slightly psychedelic, melodic vocal Blackie has used in the HARD ONS. Highlights include ‘Freckles’ and ‘Almost Anything’ that evoked the fragile brilliance of Simon and Garfunkel while ‘Privileged Kids’ had me thinking of TV PERSONALITIES. There are even a few tunes that, if amped and aggro’d, could be HARD ONS crackers in ‘Just For A Second’ (that could be the album’s best with some great keyboards) and ‘Blankets’. I did find this to be a few songs too long and a bit too mellow without having the actual quality to hold the attention for the full 40 minutes... but on a hungover Sunday morning, or sombre Tuesday night, it might just work. (08.11.15)

BLACK PITTS - B-Movie Extra {FOAD} Fucking hell - this is a bit good!! Coming outta Dublin, Ireland, this trio churn out Punk gems that brought to mind the Rock ‘n’ Roll cool of FALLEN ANGELS, but fused with the Garage Punk of DRAGONS, the energy of THE BRIEFS, a hint of LURKERS ‘77isms and the cutting guitar leads of Cheetah Chrome in prime time DEAD BOYS days. You get 13 tracks with not a single duffer among them. Highlights would be ‘Runaway Girl’ that’s loaded with those cool guitar leads, ‘Hey Johnny’ that coulda been on ‘L.A.M.F’ and been a standout, the destructive riffage of ‘Into The City’, the snappy Power Pop beat of ‘Bad Reputation’ and closer ‘Nobody Loves Me’ that nicks the riff of ‘Chinese Rocks’ as an intro and then detonates into a ‘77-esque classic with soaring chorus, relentless energy enough attitude to make Johnny Rotten go and sit in the naughty-boy-corner. Production is boisterous and clear but retains all the edge needed to make this a premier hook-laden, sneer-straddled, effervescent-crammed Garage Punk cracker. Sorry - that’s it - I’m off to play it again. (17.07.17)

BLACK VOLVO - Once We All Were Wolves {TNS} A trio outta the Netherlands deliver a 17-track album that drops some pretty heavy-duty riffage. It often had me thinking of HARD-ONS doing their more-rock, less-pop sound if mixed with a bit of COMMON ENEMY and an occasional sprinkle of SNUFF and ANNIHILATION TIME. When it gets it right, as on the stomping riff action of ‘Black Metal Cry Baby’, ‘Sure Bet’ that features an en-masse chorus and some punch-ya-in-the-face guitar work and the frantic ‘The Creature Creeps’, it’s a compelling and propulsive sound. Unfortunately, I found some of those more rock/metal moments pretty tedious. The production is biting though, everything is clear and bold and the bass has a neat MOTORHEAD growl about it (as the opening of ‘Death Cheated’ proves - another highlight actually). The album’s artwork, done by bassist Jaap also draws a few similarities with Ray’s work for the HARD-ONS. Far from bad and if you dig that swaggering, Metal-infused Punk of the likes of PETER PAN SPEEDROCK, this would be right up your street. (12.10.15)

BOMB, THE - Axis Of Awesome {No Idea} Recorded a few years ago by the maverick that is J. Robbins, these five tracks (by what is one the best bands on the planet) are pressed onto a single-side 12" slice of graphic-etched vinyl. There are two total stand outs: ‘Silent Fall’ which is laden with those soaring vocals of Jeff Pezzati, peppered with sublime shards of guitar and stunning vocal harmony. The other is closer, ‘Watch Them Bleed’ that see J doing a dual vocal with Jeff and invoking JOY DIVISION in parts. The remaining songs are classic BOMB sounds - ‘In Red Square’ opens with pulsating bass and includes obligatory ‘Ohs-and-Ahs-and-Heys’ while ‘Nina Ricci’s Cool’ is a brief, up tempo rocker. Have to say, I don’t understand the inclusion of THE DWARVES’ ‘Backseat Of My Car’ at all. It’s fun but given the strength of the band’s originals just sounds out of place and with its recurring use of ‘fuck’ just sounds kinda lame. With Robbins producing, it’s a no-brainer to say this sounds vibrant, clear and energetic. Aesthetically, this is gorgeous and is something the download generation miss out on massively, although this does include a download code so us vinyl lovers can say, "Fuck y'all!". Stunning stuff - just skip that DWARVES cover. (25.07.15)

BOMBPOPS - Fear Of Missing Out {Fat Wreck} Female fronted four piece outta San Diego drop their debut album and it’s, well, a bit bland and saccharine laced. Imagine NO USE FOR A NAME mixed with something much more mainstream (No Doubt? Fucked if I know but something commercial) and you’re there. It has its moments - ‘Be Sweet’ rocked pretty well, ‘I Can’t’ is just about the fastest and most sneering track on the album but still fails to match the femme fury of LUNACHICKS, ‘Forever Since’ could be a choice slice of amped stadium rock while ‘Jerk’ owes a lot to NIRVANA sludge and is probably the album standout along with ‘Marry. Fuck. Kill’ that nearly hits DISTILLERS heights. Unfortunately, much of the rest is Punk-lite, mid-paced stabs at overly melodic Pop-Rock-Punk. (04.08.17)

BOOTSCRAPER / REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN - The Bear And The Tiger {TNS} A fun split mini-album from two bands at distinct polar opposites of the TNS roster, covering a few tunes from each other. BOOTSCRAPER kick off with three almost alarmingly different takes on REVENGE... songs. ‘Another Way’ is probably the pick being an excellent acoustic reworking, although ‘Captain Gin Vs. The Victory Gin’ is literally transformed into some kinda Balkan folk song with a young Tom Waits singing! REVENGE... soup up four BOOTSCRAPER songs and, surprisingly, don’t blast them out at light-speed as expected. ‘Past Lives Of Saints’ is mid-paced and proves the band has substance beyond speed, turning in a wonderful ramshackle romp of Punk. ‘The Family’ becomes a SNUFF-style knees up while ‘Then You’re Hers’ reassures anyone who may have thought REVENGE... is slowing down! Unfortunately, this is BOOTSCARPER’s last release but it’s a good one to go out on. Includes lyrics sheet and is another instant TNS hit. It’s quite inspired actually - maybe the start of a series, TNS?? (29.05.15)

BRIEFS, THE - Hit After Hit {Modern Action} You shouldn’t need telling that THE BRIEFS was among the most exciting Punk bands of the noughties and this, if ya didn’t know, is a repress of the band’s classic debut album released on Dirtnap back in 2000. This is a bit more than ‘just’ a reissue as it’s been remastered, pressed on coke-bottle coloured vinyl, includes a down load code, insert and is limited to just 500. Never heard THE BRIEFS?? Hard to believe but imagine DICKIES and first album DAMNED fused via WEIRDOS yet made new, modern, essential and totally, unequivocally addictive. Songs?? ‘Rotten Love’, ‘Poor And Weird’, ‘Where Did He Go?’, ‘New Case’, ‘Sylvia’, ‘New Shoes’... Each track is a fucking gem of amphetamine-driven, perfectly sneering, catchy as crabs in a nudist camp Punk Rock. The whole album of 13 songs only lasts about 24 minutes too - who needs more when those 24 are as close to the perfect Punk album of 2000 as is possible? As said, only 500 of these were pressed (and the remaster sounds great) so you might have missed the boat. If not, snap it up mofo... (23.04.17)

BRISTLES, THE - Last Days Of Capitalism {Heptown} Hard-fucking-hitting Hardcore Punk with hard-fucking-hitting lyrics. The band is from Sweden and has cranked out 12 tracks that rage like POISON IDEA playing CONFLICT and brought bang up to date with that thick, production associated with BORN/DEAD or even TRAGEDY. Highlights are plenty ‘Viva Fake (Punk On Sale)’ pulls no punches and simply roars, ‘Last Time We Won’t Do That Again, Chief’ is a straight ahead Punk rocker and even adds a bit of humour while ‘Men’s Global War On Women’ addresses male violence against women. Best track though goes to ‘No Revolution In Our Life Time’ that kicks off with a circus parade before hitting with relentless drums and a wall-of-sound guitar barrage. There are neat little samples between the songs (including The Munsters kicking it all off before ‘Hate In Vain’ tramples in) and the CD version includes a whopping nine bonus tracks from previous releases that veer from melodic Punk to dark, grizzled ‘core. Full lyrics included. A brutal record that wallops a lot of ‘real Punk’ and yet doesn’t quite get to Crust and steers clear of macho meathead Metalcore. (31.12.15)

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