Top Sounds - C

CHANNEL 3 - History {Hostage} Just how can ya go wrong? You got one of the best bands around with a brand new 7" on luscious lime vinyl released on one of the best labels around - you can’t lose! So, this lovely 7" (art-damaged sleeve, limited edition) hosts a new cracker from a band that has a whole catalogue of crackers. This boasts another bold and anthemic chorus that had me singing along on a mere two plays. It’s a mid-paced track, probably more suited to the sound of the comeback album that Dr. Strange Recs released in 2002 (with even a hint of ‘Last Time I Drank’ vibe too) than ‘Fear Of Life’. The flip is a cover... It’s well-known CH3 have a bit of ‘Rock’ along with ‘Punk’ in their collective veins and here there’s a great cover of AC/DC’s ‘Kicked In The Teeth’. It’s made to sound like a CH3 original and again, it’s a faultless combination - AD/DC track (from the Bon Scott era of course) played by CH3. Needless to say, this is a cracker in every way. Only negative? Only two songs - I reckon another coulda be squeezed on the b-side! (25.08.14)

CHANNEL 3 - Land Of The Free {Hostage} One of my most favourite things is new CHANNEL THREE material. This 7" - which is also the 50th release for this excellent label - features two new tracks that are spirited, hook laden and Punk Rocking solid. The lead track must stand as one of the band’s most political songs so far while the flip is a classic mid-paced anthemic cracker that the band seem to be able to write at ease. Besides the sounds, you get lyric insert, vintage flyer and, best of all, a download card that gives you another seven or songs. If ya quick (and the chances are you are already too late), then you may still get one of the limited edition that’s on purple vinyl, autographed by the band and comes in a screen-printed sleeve. There’s only 100 - well 99 actually cuz I got one. One of the great bands from California but oh-so often over looked in favour of some of the more sensation (but musically less impressive) bands from 1980s US Punk Rock. (14.05.13) 

CHIXDIGGIT! - Double Diggits {Fat Wreck} Now, here is a welcome re-issue. This whopping 32 track CD contains two early albums by Canada’s CHIXDIGGIT - ‘Born On The First Of July’ from 1998 and 2000’s ‘From Scene To Shining Scene’ - both of which have been unavailable since their initial release on Honest Don's. To this day, I consider these two albums to be pretty much definitive bubblegum Pop-Punk. That could read as being lame Ramones or Screeching Weasel wannabes. Not at all. While a RAMONES influence is undoubtedly there in terms of aggression and attitude, the actual songs are much more in the CHEAP TRICK world - witty, clever and instantly memorable. If you can listen to such greatness as ‘Spanish Fever’, ‘Thursday Night’, ‘My Girl’s Retro’ or ‘Born in Toulouse’ and fail to find their Punky New Wave groove, well, I guess you better stick to ANWL. This is filled out with eight bonus songs, including two BOOMTOWN RATS covers, single versions, demos and compilation tracks. Ideal stuff to get ya in a party mood before heading out on a Friday night AND for those hungover Sunday mornings. Joyous stuff. (31.03.14)

CHUMBAWAMBA - In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher {DIY} Recorded about five years before it could actually be released via mail-order, this seven-track EP was released for one day only - on the day Thatcher finally died. It would have been easy for this to wallow nihilisitc dumb-arse rhetoric, or be a silly ode to an evil lady. But this is CHUMBAWAMBA, a band which, love ‘em or hate ‘em, had class and intelligence about all they did. Of the seven tracks here, only three can be considered full songs; ‘So Long, So Long’ has a wonderful jazz-esque swing while ‘Waiting For Margaret To Go’ is an acoustic ballad and executed in CHUMBA’s own intimate way. Elsewhere ‘Pinochet Bids Farewell From Beyond The Grave’ is an accordion-led romp while ‘Sleep’ is the perfect lullaby. Samples of the she-devil fill in the gaps between songs and, while this may not have the aural anger of ‘Pictures Of Starving Children’ or the Anarcho-dance groove of ‘Shhh’, it’s still another wonderfully intelligent and eclectic release. What’s more - one that is now deleted!! (20.04.14)

CITIZEN FISH - Dancing On Spikes {Bluurg/ Active} The unrelenting work ethic of Dick Lucas saw this, the latest slice of quality from CITIZEN FISH, released a mere week before the SUBHUMANS departed UK shores for a series of Australian and New Zealand dates (review here). The six tracks here remain in the band’s patented up-tempo Ska-Punk vibe and continue the trait of recent ...FISH releases in that it features more brass than the earlier records. Also, with the excellent closer, ‘It Can’t Go On Forever’ and ‘Over’, there is a distinct rollicking SPECIALS quality. ‘Write It All Down’ keeps the Punk vibe in high profile while ‘Unemplode’ and ‘HD Riot’ are typical FISH tracks. As always the lyrics are superb, mixing social and political observations with scathing, out of the box wit. The history of Dick Lucas proves he has not released a bad record - and this is among the best of CITIZEN FISH product yet. (31.05.13) 

COCK SPARRER - 40 Years {Captain Oi!} It's ridiculously hard to believe but, it is true. This 20 track CD celebrates these London lads’ fortieth year of existence! This ain’t no cash-on comp though - not that Capt Oi could ever claim to have done that. This is special because the tracks are hand-picked by the band themselves, with explanations as to why those tracks have been chosen. Then there are two rarities of SPARRER favourites and it’s all wrapped in a fantastic, hard-sleeved book binding with the insert including lots of pics alongside those comments. Highlights? Each track is a veritable SPARRER favourite but the original 7" version of ‘Runnin’ Riot’ takes some beating. Other notables include ‘Where Are They Now’, ‘Riot Squad’, ‘We Know How To Live’, ‘Battersea Bardot’... I could list them all for different reasons. If you don’t know the SPARRER sounds, well it kinda fuses the 70s sound of Slade and Small Faces with a ‘77 Punk attitude (think DRONES, 999) and the anthems of SHAM 69 and early COCKNEY REJECTS - but somehow, COCK SPARRER has more class than most of their ilk - possibly due to the writing of bassist Steve Burgess if the liner notes are to be believed. This really represents the definitive SPARRER collection - and it’s limited - so be quick! (22.02.13)

CONCRETE SOX - Your Turn Now {Boss Tuneage} I never really got into this Nottingham band in the 80s. Their brand of Crossover Thrash Metal/Punk just didn’t hit me. More Metal than ANTISECT, less effective than DISCHARGE, slower than RIPCORD and, somehow, just failing to bond the genres together. The guitars chug and thrash, the tempo changes add a bit of depth but ultimately, 30 years on from the album’s original release, it still leaves me bored. On a positive, the vocals have a vague early INSTIGATORS vibe about them and the lyrics are spot on tackling subjects like animal rights, corruption and freedom. Best track? ‘Salt Of The Earth’. As well as the original album, this offers 13 unreleased tracks taken from two demos and a live gig in Newcastle from 1984. Lots of unseen photos in the booklet also. Good work but not really work that hits all my buttons. (25.03.13)

CONCRETE SOX - Whoops Sorry Vicar! {Boss Tuneage} Second album and, I have to say, a much more satisfying listen than the above. It’s still heavily Metal influenced but here it’s much more effective and carries much more clout. The vocals are more gnarly too. The lyrical stance of the band continues here with more songs about the evils of religion, self-integrity and animal liberation. Highlgihts here? The raging ‘Scientific Slaughter’ that’s lyrically spot on (especially for me, living in NZ and seeing Japanese whaling ships wrecking havoc) and ‘Comparison’. Like the above, there are 10 extra tracks made up of demos and a 1991 gig in Prague. Still not something I’ll be coming back too often, but certainly the pick of the two. (25.03.13)

CRAVATS, THE - In Toytown {Overground} Never really been a big CRAVATS fan. Their brand of eclectic, esoteric and slightly psychedelic Punk Rock usually left me confused. This mega package features the band’s entire Small Wonder Recs output (that’s the original album plus five singles) on a newly remastered 29 track CD. But that’s not all. There is another 16-track CD of the album but remixed by one Penny Rimaud. The fact the band formed after seeing the STRANGLERS in ‘77 is not surprising; the CRAVATS frequently mirror the driving bass sound of J J Burnel on tracks like ‘XMP’ and the rather fantastic ‘Burning Bridges’. Elsewhere there are hints of CARDIACS (‘Ceasing To Be’), HAWKWIND (‘Pressure Sellers’) and even SNIVELLING SHITS (‘Live For Now’). Throw in some NOMEANSNO rhythms, SUICIDE/ SCREAMERS electro-weirdness and a general SUBWAY SECT vibe and you’re there. The second CD, while being innovative, didn’t keep my attention as much as the first. A stellar job from Overground (again!) and probably the only CRAVATS release that I will ever need. (30.06.13)

CRAZYHEAD - Desert Orchid {Cherry Red} In the mid 80s, there was a short lived UK scene that the music press decided to hype under the banner of ‘Grebo’. It featured such luminaries as the over-rated ZODIAC MINDWARP, the electro-dance mayhem of POP WILL EAT ITSELF, the psychedelic-tinged aural aggro of GAYE BYKERS ON ACID and even THE CULT via the dry ‘Electric’ album. But Leicester’s CRAZYHEAD blew them all away. I went to London to savour their musical carnage live many times; they even supported the aforementioned CULT in my hometown of Ipswich. As for the sound these five leather-clad urchins played, it was the pure, exhilarating Rock ‘n’ Roll overdose of MC5 played with the aggression of MOTORHEAD, the sneer of ALICE COOPER and the precision and hooks of THE RAMONES. The band’s first two singles remain pristine slices of Rock ‘n’ Roll arrogance. ‘Desert Orchid’ was the band’s debut album released in 1989. Although it was a cracking album, it sounded too clean compared with those debut 45s. Listening to this remastered version, it’s only improved with age. Each song is a bona fide slice of dirty Pop played by sneering, long haired Punks. Besides the album, there is a bonus 14 track CD of b-sides, live versions and alternative mixes. Highlights? The classic second single ‘Baby Turpentine’, the raucous ‘Out On A Limb’ that graced the flip of the phenomenal debut, the brass-lead honk of ‘Rags’ which sounds infinitely better 20+ years on... I could write a thesis on every track and still not do this justice. The booklet is filled with liner notes and photos. If you can’t guess, this band was and still is very close to my heart and it still sounds as uncontrolled, as dangerous and in-fucking-sistent as it did in the 80s. (31.10.13)   

CROSS STITCHED EYES - Decomposition {Alternative Tentacles} Third album from this international outfit and, as with its predecessors, the aura of KILLING JOKE remains prominent. This is no KJ rip off though as these 12 tracks fuse the dark tunes of RUDIMENTARY PENI and the embittered rage of BORN DEAD ICONS to create a sound that is thrilling yet haunting, enraged but captivating and flesh-crawlingly claustrophobic. Pivoting around ex-ENEMIES drummer Jason’s pounding drum attack, ‘Existence’ proves to be a highlight with its almost mystical, Eastern-influenced guitar lines while the same guitars on ‘All Superior’ provide damage-inducing riffs. Lyrically, death appears to pervade every track; but delve deeper and you’ll find ecological and political lyrics while another highlight, ‘Animated Corpse’, looks at Punk itself and digital identity. ‘Sluglord’ is an epic closer - pounding, bitter and laced with massive orchestral keyboards. An awesome album that should be heard far and wide. Great graphics on the packaging also. (04.11.12)

CROWD, THE - No Other {Hostage} Another absolutely cracking 7" from Hostage Records... but then... really... could you expect anything else when it’s by THE CROWD? I fail to see why this band are not as legendary as the likes of ADOLESCENTS or any other vintage LA Punk band. Thankfully the guys at Hostage are ‘in-the-know’ and deliver new CROWD material to rock the House Of Scanner. This little blue vinyl 7" contains a mere two tracks of solid, soaring, melodic Punk Rock. Have to say, it’s the flip ‘Straight Down’ that has been played most here - it’s got a great chorus and excellent guitar work. That is only half the story though; this comes with a download card that gives you access to another half-a-dozen songs or so all of which are unavailable elsewhere (I think!). And, as I said at the start, this is THE CROWD for fuck’s sake - one of the most consistent and impressive bands in Los Angeles Punk Rock History (yes - all capitalised fucko!). What more do ya need to know?? (24.05.14)

CROWD, THE - Landmark {Crowd Control} This six-track CDEP has come from nowhere it seems - and what a little beauty it is! For those who don’t know, THE CROWD was one of the first (if not THE first) Punk band in Huntington Beach. Oddly, the band never received the same notoriety as many of their contemporaries but continually banged out great releases. This is no different. Opening with the classic incinerating CROWD sound of ‘Stitch Me Up’, there’s not a duffer here. ‘Here It On The Radio’ slows things a little and could be lifted from a prime-time BUZZCOCKS album while the closer is a burning cover of THE WHO classic, ‘The Kid’s Are Alright’. Highlight is probably ‘Headless’ that’s spat out with the venom of the best of ‘77 Punk and delivered with the urgency of early CA Hardcore (think ADOLESCENTS and CH3). The band never resorted to noise to get its message across - these songs are as catchy as anything DESCENDENTS recorded and, like the ‘DENTS, delivered with maximum potency. Neat digipack sleeve, superb production - trust me - you need this record! (05.11.12)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2012 including: