Top Sounds - B

BAD MOJOS - I Hope You OD {Voodoo Rhythm} PODCAST PLAYED Blasting outta Bern, Switzerland on a wave of RAMONE-o-core with distortion levels set to warp factor, comes this trio’s debut album. It’s snottier than The Roxy’s floor and catchier than herpes at a lepers’ orgy. You get ten tracks that fly by in 15 minutes bringing to mind early QUEERS and RIVERDALES with the attitude of RANDUMBS and BULEMICS and a hint of CRIME. Yep, I know, it’s a tried and tested RAMONES formula - but when it’s done well, as it is here, it’s pretty fucking enjoyable. Plenty of highlights with closer ‘Everybody Hates Me’, ‘Baby, I’m Doomed’ and ‘Out Of Control’ all being notable but it’s ‘Commit A Crime’ that stands out. Needless to say with those tracks and ‘Too Drunk’, ‘I Hate’, ‘I Wanna Be Dead’ and the title track, you’ll know this ain’t no politically correct snoozefest.  Totally trashy, lo-fi, raw snotty Punk Rock - and totally enjoyable stuff. (28.02.19)
BAD SPORTS - Constant Stimulation {Dirtnap} Fourth long-player from this Texas trio and once again, the band has refined and reshaped their sound progressing onto something that’s more taut, more focused while not losing any of the classic Punk meets Power Pop stomp of previous records. Opener ‘Giving In’ is raucous and carries all the fire power of RADIO BIRDMAN (which is repeated on ‘Comes Close’ and includes a fantastic Tek-ish solo). From there we get another ten songs with some quality surprises like the slow-burn chug of ‘All Revved Up To Kill’, ‘Ode To Power’ that’s virtually a delicate Indie-Pop song, ‘Everything We Wanted’ could be a BIG STAR outtake, ‘Cardboard Suits’ evoked JOY DIVISION in parts and the effervescent, thumping ‘Easy Truth’ while the walking bass swagger, vocal sneer and splintered guitar of ‘Gains And Losses’ could be the album’s best. BAD SPORTS could well be the dark horse of the current crop of Dirtnap bands; the records always progress yet retain a resolute Punk vibe coupled with consistent quality songwriting. Refreshing and invigorating stuff. (15.06.19)
BAR STOOL PREACHERS - Soundtrack To Your Apocalypse {Pirates Press} In these days of COVID-19, lockdowns and all that goes with them, this two track download is a fantastic idea. These Brits managed to get Jake of THE LEVELLERS to produce these two tracks (which were originally slated for the band’s new album) which have been re-written for these new troubled times. What’s more, if you go direct to you can download them for free, or even better, donate whatever you can. All proceeds will then go to healthcare workers in the UK. Of the two tracks, it’s ‘State Of Emergency’ that appeals most, coming on like THE SPECIALS while lead track ‘When This World Ends’ is somewhat more anthemic and has a vague CLASH feel, including a ‘Bankrobber’-stylee breakdown. Interesting stuff, but it’s really the idea behind the release that is more significant. (13.11.20)
BATTALION ZOSKA - s/t {Violated} 13 track album from this new five-piece outta Philadelphia and featuring Violated owner, Pat. Opener ‘A Country Divided’ instantly grabs the attention, coming on a bit like a fusion of ANTI-FLAG-esque Street Punk coupled with POISON IDEA circa ‘Feel The Darkness’. That kinda dual vibe continues throughout, with the vocal in particular having more than a slight similarity to Jerry A at times. Plenty of highlights too; the scathing ‘Oi! By Numbers’ that derides those mindless Oi! bands and all they stand for, ‘Moral Coward’ that has a hint of prime time SOCIAL DISTORTION and the raucous ‘80s Kid’ while highlight could well be ‘Heather’ that’s solid, melodic and tough Punk Rock which might be nothing new, but when done this well is totally thrilling. There’s actually little here to criticize from a Street Punk perspective - it’s intelligent stuff, out spoken, and well executed. (09.06.20)

BAZOOKA FIST - Get Up Now! {DIY} PODCAST PLAYED After a very impressive demo release last year, Brisbane’s BAZOOKA FIST are back at it with this two track single. The lead track’s a vaguely menacing mid-paced rocker that’s just classic Aussie sounding Rock ‘n’ Roll, equal parts THE SAINTS, CELIBATE RIFLES and AC/DC with a neat bridge, sharp guitar solo and a hint of DEAD BOYS just for good measure. Second track, ‘War Crimes’, ups the pace somewhat, includes another sharp guitar solo and adds a vague DWARVES vibe but accompanied once again with that fantastic Aussie attitude and sound that’s near impossible to replicate - must be the climate! Production is super clear too; vocals are well up in the mix, drums are crisp and the songs just rocking and addictive. One negative though; it leaves me wanting to hear more. Two tracks just ain’t enough fellas. (05.06.18)

BEDFORD FALLS - Send More Bees {Boss Tuneage} Third album (and first in six years) from these Indie-Punks outta Cardiff, Wales and it’s certainly a more heavy-duty sound than I recall the previous albums being. The guitars sound much bigger, bordering on a CRAZY HORSE ragged glory in fact, while the songs are probably the band’s most effective take on that LEMONHEADS meets MOVING TARGETS sound so far. Plenty of highlights among the 12 tracks too with ‘Bring It’ in particular echoing ‘Zuma’ era NEIL YOUNG, the spritely ‘Moral Compass’, ‘The Fall Gurl’ that starts with a subtle acoustic strum and ends with some stunning backing vocals and closer ‘Everything Ends’ while the standout is the droning, bitter guitar assault of ‘Oathbreaker’ There is a weird cymbal distortion going on in places too (most notable on opener ‘Getting Up’ and ‘Defeat Artist’) that’s really distracting - not sure if it’s a CD thing or whether that appears on the vinyl but it does taint those songs in particular. Easily the best stuff I’ve heard by the band; those over-amped guitars and harmonic backing vocals have really added depth. This is also the first BEDFORD FALLS album I’ve come back to for several repeated listens - so use that as your marker. (03.05.18)

BERWANGER - Watching A Garden Die {Wiretap} Maybe you know the name, BERWANGER. It belongs to one Josh Berwanger who used to be one of the main driving forces behind THE ANNIVERSARY and RADAR STATE and this is his fourth solo album. It’s a mellow affair evoking NEIL YOUNG and BIG STAR with lush BEACH BOYS-esque harmonies. There are ten tracks with highlights being the rich melodies of opener ‘Long Way Down’, ‘The Business Of Living’ which has slide guitar, harmonica and could’ve been on YOUNG’s ‘Comes A Time’, the ringing Power-Pop of ‘Friday Night’ and the downbeat Americana of ‘When I Was Young’ while highlight ‘Even The Darkness Doesn’t Know’ mixes Chris Bell (BIG STAR) intimacy with SIMON AND GARFUNKEL melodies. That’s right - not Punk Rock. Get over it. Great fucking record no matter what. (29.07.19)
BITCH QUEENS - City Of Class {Spaghetty Town} Fourth album for this four-piece outta Basel, Switzerland. You get 11 tracks that instantly recall TURBONEGRO with HELLACOPTERS, DWARVES and a splish of MOTORHEAD thrown in. When it hits the spot, it’s a raucous roller coaster of Rock ‘n’ Roll moves and attitude. Snag is, it didn’t hit the spot as much as I had hoped. The title track is a cracker, ‘When Did I Die’ surges with an urgency no tsunami has yet matched and ‘On And On’ is the catchiest track on the album floating along on a killer lead guitar line, but all too often it just came over as rather lumpen and pedestrian rather than the freewheeling, high-octane burning dragster like I had hoped. Probably killer live but a tad sterile here. (23.06.20) 
BITTER GROUNDS - Two Sides Of Hope {Bad Granola} PODCAST PLAYED Nine track album from this quartet outta Utrecht, Netherlands (their second) and it kicks of with ‘Lost’ that had me thinking of THE OFFSPRING without the track actually sounding too much like them - was more just a feel of the ‘Smash’ era I guess. The remaining eight tracks highlight the bands solid, catchy Punk sound fusing NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS, RANCID-stylee Ska-Punk (that’s really good) and the boots ‘n’ braces sound of LOWER CLASS BRATS. Highlights are plenty be it the surging, spirited ‘My Time’, the Ska-groove of both ‘Let Me See Now’ and ‘Bad Dreams’, while the highlight has to be a battle between the snarling ‘Let Them Talk’ and the bracing title track. Enjoyable stuff in general with some interesting lyrics throughout highlighting the band’s socio-political stance along with fear, angst and a vague hopelessness. What you may be pleased to read however, is THE OFFSPRING never crossed my mind again! (10.03.19)
BLANKZ, THE - Getting Over You {Slope} Another (the fifth!) exquisitely packaged 7” from Phoenix, Arizona’s THE BLANKZ. The lead track is a bit of a departure for the band, leaving much of the sneering Punk behind and bringing in something more akin to SWINGIN’ UTTERS gone New Wave, with the vocal in particular sounding reminiscent of Johnny Bonnel. Flip the wax for ‘Barfly’ that brings a bit of the sneer back and reminds me of ‘Welcome To Sanity’ era RAMONES with a splish of BAD RELIGION and added keyboards from BLONDIE! The whole thing is over in less than four-minutes - but the bonus of that is the fact that this is good enough to play again, and again. Dark navy vinyl, download card, full colour card sleeve, full colour inner sleeve with lyrics - as said - these records from THE BLANKZ and Slope Records look fucking great. Four more 7”s to go in the series before they all get compiled on one album; given the quality of the 7”s so far, that’s gonna make one fantastic album. Can’t wait! (24.04.19)
BLANKZ, THE - (It’s A) Breakdown {Slope} Single #4 already from this band outta Arizona that is rapidly making a name for itself by releasing these 7” slices of consistently high-quality Punk Rock/ Power Pop perfection. The lead track sees a fusion of STEVE ADAMYK BAND Punk with the electro drive of EPOXIES, while the flip, ‘You’re Not My Friend Anymore’ brings in a BUZZCOCKS feel. Great stuff and this is packaged fantastically in a full heavy duty 3-D sleeve, 3-D lyric inner sleeve, a scratch-resistant inner sleeve, plastic outer sleeve, download code and 3-D glasses!! Superb - everything that makes a record special (unlike a cold download). I always think the vocals are going to be more sneering when I play a BLANKZ record, but the attention to melody and clarity really make them something special. I think 7” #5 has already been released - question remains whether they are blowing their best tracks on these singles, or whether they have a banquet of them ready for a full album. No matter what - can’t wait to find out! (11.01.19)

BLANKZ, THE - White Baby {Slope} PODCAST PLAYED Debut 7" from this five-piece that includes Slope Records’ founder Thomas Lopez on vocals. From the off, there’s a big RAMONES influence here. Lead track, ‘White Baby’ kicks off with a ‘...Sedated’ style riff before some excellent keyboard parts kick in adding a whole new dimension to the sound. The flip, ‘Sissy Glue’ is a bit faster, a bit gnarlier but still includes some excellent keyboards pushed right to the fore, giving the sound an almost New Wave feel without any compromise on the Punk attack of the band - much like SMOGTOWN or THE BRIEFS in fact. While the RAMONES influence is there, this is much more than a simple rip of the bruddas - thanks to the keyboards and more snarling vocal. Trivia fans might be interested to know that this was produced (rather excellently I have to say also) by MEAT PUPPETS’ Cris Kirkwood. Really confident, strident debut release. (31.07.18)

BOMBPOPS, THE - Dear Beer {Fat Wreck} Four track 7" EP that follows on from the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ album (that didn’t do much for me) and it kicks off with the title track that has a distinct LAGWAGON/ NOFX sounding bass line before opening up into a really rather impressive, highly melodic Pop Punk track that’s a marked notch up from the aforementioned album. Of the remaining three tracks, ‘I Call Bullshit’ almost reaches the kinda sound DEAD TO ME can crank out, ‘Turn Up The Thermostat’ was the weakest of the tracks here while ‘Polluted Skies’ continues the trait of the debut track but with some harmonies that had me thinking of the GO-GO’S had they signed to Fat Wreck and adopted the ‘Fat Sound’. Maybe the brevity of this four-song blast is they key to the band for me; an album of such highly saccharine-sweet melodic Punk as was ‘Fear...’ left me non-plussed, cold even. This was quite different; still rather sickly sweet but with enough substance to suggest more than mere candy floss. One for the summertime Bar-Be-Ques I reckon.  (08.06.18)

BONY MACARONI - S/t {TCBYML} Debut download only five-track EP from these Indie-Punks outta the Netherlands. Opener ‘Piece Of Shit’ is ridiculously catchy, witty and something that could be on mainstream radio were it not for a certain attitude the band displays. Think the Pop-Punk sounds of SICKO, the humour of CHIXDIGGIT, the accessibility of WHEATUS and released on Planet X Records, you’d be kinda close. ‘France’ features some hilarious lyrics about urinating on heads and is backed with some fantastically arranged harmony vocals and ‘Bony The Philosopher’ is a sedate acoustic strum that’s kinda akin to some of TEENAGE FANCLUB’s quieter moments. There could be a lot to like here; some pretty scathing lyrics, some interesting song structures but it didn’t really hold the attention after the first couple of songs and drifted into the world of identity-less Indie Rock. (27.09.19)  
BORIS THE SPRINKLER - Vespa To Venus {Beer City} First new album in near-on 20 years from the most terribly named band in Punk history. Oddly, I’ve not heard much from ...THE SPRINKLER; I was always more aware of them by the writings of vocalist Rev. Norb. It’s fun, slightly warped stuff that takes a big RAMONES vibe, adds some MR T EXPERIENCE wit, some TOY DOLLS silliness and a bit of SICKO-esque Pop-Punk. Opener is probably the highlight as it rips THE SAINTS in a rather major way (just check that riff!) while other moments of enjoyment included ‘Rock And Roll Tangerine’, ‘(When We Wore The) Haircuts (We Were The Ones)’ and ‘13th Floor’ that almost approached NEW BOMB TURKS levels of greatness. Generally though, it’s all a bit too... frivolous for me. And I got fucking sick of Norb feeling the need to introduce each and every song. 25 years ago this was probably quite novel and fun, today it just sounded a tad cliched. (13.02.20)
BRACKET - Too Old To Die Young {Fat Wreck} ...and far too nice for me to give a fuck about. I’ve never been a fan (even mildly) of this sugar-sweet Pop Punk band outta California. This is the band’s ninth album apparently and opener ‘Cloud Aite’ actually perked my interest with some solid BANNER PILOT/ SMOKE OR FIRE-esque riffage... But then those lackadaisical vocals kicked in and washed everything in enough sweetness to make Willy Wonka OD. Track two, ‘Forget’, is easy to do. Some credit should be given I guess as the guys seem have been at it for years (like, 25!), but that doesn’t mean their records are worth my attention. Blander than a bald rice cracker and as pleasing as chomping on a saccharine-laden Christmas candy cane at Easter. Sorry about the brevity of this review - but I’m going to play something decent. (22.11.19)
BRACKISH EDGE, THE - The Cruel Dark Sea {DIY} A new band featuring some familiar faces from the Ipswich, England area deliver this nine track album of dark, brooding, intelligent and down right absorbing sound. There’s a lot going on here, think BAD SEEDS, NEIL YOUNG at his darkest (‘Tonight’s The Night’ with ‘Zuma’s guitar sound), hint of the VELVET UNDERGROUND and a female vocal that sounds like Maeve outta CHUMBAWAMBA fused with the rich tones of Sandy Denny. Onto that, add a vaguely lounge beat rhythm, some fantastic cello/violin that lifts parts to ‘Big Music’-era WATERBOYS... and yet somehow manage to sound like none of the above. Best bits? Every track is compulsive listening but ‘Road To Jack’ has a dual vocal with guitarist Rick and is musically cataclysmic, the brooding ‘Isles Of Flowers’ that sees vocalist Kate give possibly her best performance on the album and the rolling ‘Gold’ while standout is ‘Uptown Swing’ that pivots around a solid bass line, some lounge beats and guitars that are melodic while throwing in some fractured, discordant shards. Awesome, dramatic stuff that’s original, expertly delivered and totally captivating. (07.08.19)

BRUTALLIGATORS - Friends I Wish I’d Had {Real Ghost} First off, that is a really terrible band name. I thought this was either gonna be some kinda buffoonery or sub-standard chuggy Hardcore. Thankfully, it’s neither and is really rather smart. The band’s a 4-piece outta Sussex UK and this five-track EP is its debut release. Opener ‘Crows’ instantly appeals mixing SAMIAM structures with IRON CHIC-esque en masse vocals. ‘Kill Your Heroes’ does deliver some serious Hardcore clout with a neat dubbish breakdown and thankfully it’s not remotely Metal laced and closer ‘D Word’ brings things to a sombre, but captivating close. Highlight though has to be ‘Excited’ that takes that IRON CHIC vibe to new heights while keeping things distinctly British in terms of vocal and lyrically features some great lines about a missed opportunity for an entire generation obsessed with self-worth. If there is a negative, it’s the production that has that slight bombast which ends up distorting, especially the over-loud bass drum. But hell, for a first release, this is hugely impressive stuff.  (16.04.20)

BURNT TAPES - Never Better {Lockjaw} Formed by three teens from Athens, Greece who moved to London, BURNT TAPES came together in 2014 and this is the band’s second album. From the ambient opening strains of the title track which soon explodes into a anthemic, gruff-voiced rocker, it’s clear there’s a RVIVR vibe here. Follow-up track, ‘Drift Champ ‘16’ could be the album’s best and had me thinking of BANNER PILOT with some real impressive guitar work. Throw in a bit of a FORGETTERS influence and you have an idea of how the album plays out. Have to say, this ain’t just regurgitation of those bands; this has swells, power, individuality and a quality about the songs which combine to make an impressive and propulsive sound in its own right. Other highlights include ‘Yuzi’ that could be a Schwazenbach track, the lilting guitar refrain and soaring vocal of ‘Birds, And Birds, And Animals, And Things’ and the urgent ‘Robert Cop’. At just ten tracks, this is just long enough for each track to impress and to leave me wanting to hear more. Solid stuff indeed. (08.07.19)
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