Top Sounds - C

CASTRO - Infidelity {Boss Tuneage} PODCAST PLAYED It’s been over three years since the debut album by this band outta Norway but, without a doubt, the wait was worth it as this is easily gonna be among the best releases of 2018. You get 12 tracks (11 on vinyl, which comes with a CD anyway) that are just monumental examples of quality songwriting. Each song grows and swells but unlike many others that do this, these songs also pummel. Highlights are plenty after the opening, concise title track you get ‘The Great Escape’ that pivots around a hypnotic, cyclic guitar lead, both ‘Personal Question’ and ‘Living The Dream’ that are faster and feature a vitriolic vocal which are juxtaposed against both ‘Ironimo Is Dead’ that’s brooding, rolling and majestic in a TEXAS IS THE REASON vain and album highlight ‘Scandinavian’ that’s restrained and understated before opening into an expansive well of epic guitars and yearning vocal melodies. Vocalist Katja (ex- LIFE...BUT HOW TO LIVE IT) is in stunning form, particularly on ‘A Girl That Sleeps Alone’ and the stunningly brave album closer, ‘Long Story Short’, that appears to be just guitar and vocal before the band enter one by one to create something epic and impressive. Great production, awesome arrangements and stunning performances. I can’t recommend this enough and if you dig TEXAS IS THE REASON, SAMUEL, JAWBOX or SAMIAM, do yourself a massive fucking favour and go get this now. (31.05.18)

CASTRO - Personal EP {Boss Tuneage} Three track 7" from this Norwegian band, and one which acts as a precursor for the band’s new album and it's a rollicking snappy slice of Euro-Punk loaded with some cutting guitars and controlled yet bilious vocals. The lead track is brisk, no unnecessary flabby bits and driven by those great vocals of former LIFE...BUT HOW TO LIVE IT vocalist Katja. ‘Ting’ is a cover of the KROHN track while the solitary track on the flip, ‘Pacific’, is much more of a slower, grinding track pushed along on a taut, dense riff. All tracks are relatively short and provide an impressive appetizer for the album. Best track? ‘Pacific’ probably gets my vote, but the lead track is more instant. Artwork is a bit of a CRASS homage, with the catalogue number being ANOK4US2, a neat reference to John Loder and a twist on the ‘Pay no more than...’ legend. Grey vinyl, great sounds. What more do you need? (10.04.18)

CHAIN WHIP - s/t {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Totally blazing five-track EP from this four piece outta Vancouver, Canada. Think that unique Oi!/Punk fusion of CREEM mixed with CIRCLE JERKS, CRIMINALS and the TKO Records sound of something like LOWER CLASS BRATS and you’re there. Most noticeable however is the production which is a bit vocal-heavy, leaving some of the guitars sounding a bit thin. Of the five tracks, only closer ‘How Many Chances/ These Eyes’ breaks the two-minute barrier while disc highlight is ‘Overstimulated’ that zips along with a big, singalong chorus. The remaining three tracks only just break the one-minute barrier with the sneering opener, ‘Self-Destruct’ not even hitting 60 seconds. Pretty raging gear from a band I’d like to hear more of - and hopefully with some slightly more cutting production.  (04.11.18)

CHARACTER ACTOR - s/t {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED A rather smart, brisk four track 7" from this band that includes members of NIGHT BIRDS, THE ERGS and BLACK WINE. There’s a lot of the melodic structure of BUZZCOCKS but played with the bite of SMOGTOWN and the vintage class of THE CROWD. Lead track, ‘Out Of Hands’ is certainly the most accessible track with a RAMONES pace, soaring singalong chorus and clever but uncomplicated arrangement. Of the remaining tracks it’s ‘72 Paperbacks’ that stands out; it’s a bit more sedate with a vague RADIO BIRDMAN vibe. Vocalist Jeff really impresses, and it’s fucking great to hear a vocal that is clear and melodic but with a bit of grit behind it. All four tracks impressed though, and have been in constant rotation here at the House Of Scanner. Dunno if this is a one-off given the band members’ other projects - but I’m hoping for an album. (30.09.18)

CIVILISED SOCIETY? - War In My Head {Boss Tuneage} Crickey - here’s a name I never thought I’d hear new stuff from! Seems this Yorkshire band, that did that Metal/ Punk crossover back in the 80s, are back having played Rebellion and a UK tour. This limited four-track CD EP has been released for a European Tour and features three old tracks re-recorded and a new song, which is a taster for the upcoming new album, ‘The Third (Dimension)’. Have to say, they were always a bit too close to the Metal world for me - and this is still evident as the double bass drums beat and the guitarist chugs along with the occasional wild, whopping solo. Bev’s vocals and lyrics however have always impressed and this is no different, with strong, Anarcho lyrics and an impressive, soaring voice. Of the songs, it’s actually the newest, ‘War In My Head’ that did least for me, with its sub-MINISTRY riffing and Metal beats. ‘Fireball Finale’, originally on the band’s second album, ‘Violence Sucks’, ‘Alone On A Hill’ and ‘Why?’ make up the re-recorded tracks with the last of those coming over best. Still too Metal for me - and the new track really does not bode well. (24.11.18)

CLEVELAND STEAMERS - Best Record Ever {Smog Veil} PODCAST PLAYED Let’s not beat about the bush; this is the third album from this band made up of Cleveland identities and you know what? I can’t imagine hearing a better album all fucking year. Imagine if THE DAMNED had done an album between ‘The Black Album’ and ‘Strawberries’ but channelled X circa ‘Big Black Sun’ and you’d be close. Ten tracks in total on rich blue vinyl and each side kicks off with a decidedly rocking cracker - particularly ‘See You Tonight’ which is addictive on every level. Elsewhere you get ‘Dream Of Me’ that evokes SIOUXSIE’s ‘Playground Twist’ while adding something darker to it, ‘Maple Leaf Girl’ that’s got some very Billy Zoom-esque guitar licks, ‘Never Saw You Again’ that’s dramatic and hypnotic, ‘My Asshole Cousin’ that’s a riot of witty lyrics while the closing ‘Shut Up!’ states exactly that in an uncompromising way! The tracks I haven’t mentioned all deserve close attention too as there isn’t a single duff track here and when put together the way they are here, well, you have a modern day classic. Yep, that’s a big claim but this is a big fucking album and one that can carry the weight of the ‘C’ word. Only negative is the cover vaunted ‘printer inner sleeve’ - which is essentially ads. Pics and lyrics woulda been preferable. However, when the tunes are this good, I can overlook that. Stunning... Album of the Year by a country mile!! Go out and get it, shit-kickers!! (24.08.18)

CLOWN SOUNDS - Preacher Maker {Recess} PODCAST PLAYED Latest project from Recess mainman Todd Congelliere. This time he is joined by a multitude of others for this eight track album. I got a big 60s Garage/ ‘Nuggets’ vibe from this, if enhanced by Todd’s unique soaring and slightly sneering vocal. Plenty of highlights too be it the chiming, hypnotic opener ‘Nah AH ah Ah’, closer ‘Work And Wait’ that’s most direct track on here and would’ve fit well on a TOYS THAT KILL album, ‘Wrong Side’ that’s a rolling, churning down-tempo track with a great psychedelic freakout, and the KINKSish ‘Lucy Oh Lucy’ that lifts and twists the ‘I Fought The Law’ riff, throws in a tambourine and results in a prime ‘Nuggets’ jam. This is decidedly a euphoric party album that’s less sneering than TOYS THAT KILL and more direct than UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND. Another genuinely interesting and thrilling disc from the Recess gang. (08.10.18)

COUNTRY DARK, THE - Cookie Trail {Humu} PODCAST PLAYED First time I’ve come across this band outta Kuopio, Finland but I like them!! Think BIRTHDAY PARTY fused with GUN CLUB and cranking out jams that are equal parts BEAST OF BOURBON and SLIM CESSNA while chronicling the very, very darkest recesses of Jim Morrison. Highlights are plenty amidst the nine tracks, be it the rollicking Rockabilly of ‘Every Skull Has A Story’, the atmospheric opener ‘Death Of Kay Kent’, the stark, dark ‘Beauty Queen Sodomized’ or the Voodoo Blues of closer ‘Magic Empire’. As you can tell from those few song titles, subject matter is dark and borderline offensive, but within the context of the song, within the album, lyrical content comes across more as a grim fairytale from the darkest of places. Creepy but enthralling stuff that is sonically closer to THE DOORS than the EXPLOITED (so gets a positive from me instantly!) and one I’ve found myself returning to often. (14.12.18)
COVENTRY AUTOMATICS, THE -     Dawning Of A New Era {Free Range Product} If ya didn’t know, COVENTRY AUTOMATICS was the precursor to the legend that became THE SPECIALS. This 12-track album features the original band’s demos recorded in 1978, predating drummer John Bradbury and toaster Neville Staples joining the band. There are formative versions of ‘Nite Klub’, ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Blank Expression’, ‘Too Much Too Young’ and ‘(Dawning Of A) New Era’ among others which are obviously rawer and slightly more sedate than THE SPECIALS released versions. What’s of equal (if not more) interest is a number of tracks that THE SPECIALS never released - opening instrumental ‘Wake Up’, ‘Raquel’ that’s stuck onto the end of ‘Nite Klub’, the swaggering ‘Jay Walker’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Rock And Roll Nightmare’ that features some great seaside organ keyboards from Jerry Dammers. Hard to believe ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ was never recorded either as it’s got that classic groove and claustrophobic menace THE SPECIALS made their own. Packaging has a neat, aged sepia tone resplendent with vintage ‘78 photos and only a small blurb. Given the record’s importance, I would have thought an inner sleeve with more recording details and reminiscences of the era would have been in order. As it is, it’s still an essential snapshot of the founding days of what became one of the UK’s most important and influential bands ever. (16.02.18)

CRIMINAL KIDS - s/t {Spaghetty Town} Six track 12" EP which, considering opener ‘Outcast’ that has three fucking guitar solos, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was some Lynyrd Skynyrd outtakes. However, there’s some heavy duty riffage here a’la ROSE TATTOO or ELECTRIC FRANKENSTIEN which saves it. It is a bit too Rock of the Heavy kind for my liking and those guitar solos really get in the way, but good moments include the bass lead ‘Life’ and the boisterous riff monster that is ‘Vanity’ Have to say though, this Chicago band’s vocalist sounds a tad too close to Axle Rose too. Yep, heavy on the riffage but not really for me. (08.09.18)

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