Top Sounds - H

HARD FEELINGS - Side Ways {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Five years on since the debut album, this Duluth, Minnesota quartet deliver this 12 track follow-up that had me thinking of a number of Recess bands - GRABASS CHARLESTONS, TOYS THAT KILL and ARRIVALS in particular. Plenty of top tunes too including ‘Vision’ that’s got an OFF WITH THEIR HEADS attack, ‘Don’t Need You’ that’s got a great vintage sound a’la THE CROWD, ‘Most Times’ which, oddly, had me thinking BLATZ while ‘Cycles’ is a five-and-a-half minute epic that comes on like ‘Sister Lovers’-era BIG STAR cranked by DINOSAUR JR! There seems to be a couple of vocalists too; one who is rather discordant, affected and laconic and sings ‘Silly Game’ while the other is more direct and sneering who sings stuff like ‘Eyes Of The World’ (which could be the album’s best track). They work really well together, creating something that is both simultaneously complimentary and abrasive. Interesting stuff that took a couple of plays to get into, but the reward was well worth the effort. (20.01.19)

HARD SKIN - Not Messing Around {JT Classics} Fucking skinheads... Always out getting pissed and causing trouble, finking the fucking COCKNEY REJECTS are the best ever (first two albums only) and that SHAM shudda been more infamous than the PISTOLS. London’s most notorious Skins are back with a two track, green vinyl 7” - and whatcha ya know? The main track is about getting boozed up!! The flip, ‘Factory’, is about not working in a factory. Lazy fuckers!! Yep, another two tracks of Skinhead yob Punk for the working (or not) class from Fat Bob, Johnny Takeaway and Nipper and you know what? It’s fucking great as always!! Great riffs, big choruses and some laugh-out-loud moments of lyrical genius. You’ll probably know if you need this - otherwise you’re a cunt!
NB: Saddens me to even write this but, please note the sense of irony about this review. I hope most will get it, but I got too many messages regarding my HARD SKIN interview as to whether I was ‘serious’ about some of my questions to take that for granted... Jesus H Pursey... (04.02.19)
HARRINGTON SAINTS - 1000 Pounds Of Oi! {Pirates Press} Third album for these fellas outta San Fran’s Bay Area and I feared the worst with that album title expecting some leaden, ploddy Skinhead Oi. The opening title track dispelled that though, cranking it with a STIFF LITTLE FINGERS-esque riff before literally detonating into an anthemic, pacey track that parallels early BLITZ fused with ‘Riot! Riot! Upstart’ era AGNOSTIC FRONT. The remaining nine tracks hold the interest throwing in a distinct RANCID vibe and, maybe oddly, a bit of SOCIAL DISTORTION, possibly cuz the guitarist can drop a solo that enhances a song rather than ruin it. Other highlights include ‘Fremont Train’ that highlights the RANCID vibe, the surging ‘Broken Windows’ and closer ‘Now More Than Ever’ while highlight ‘State Of Emergency’ evokes the kinda jams CHANNEL 3 is churning out right now. Given Oi! doesn’t generally make me wanna get a skinhead and put on my Cherry Reds, this is played with enough verve and urgency to appeal and see it rise out of the quagmire. (31.07.19)

HAWKWIND - At The Roundhouse {Cherry Red} ‘Bloody hippies..’ I hear some of the more tunnel-visioned readers proclaim. I guess you might be right to a degree too, but us that are more enlightened will know that live, when HAWKWIND nail it, they are relentlessly bludgeoning. And I’ve seen them heaps - so I know. This double album sees them back at the Roundhouse for the first time since ‘77 - when MOTORHEAD supported! It’s interesting is the first three tracks are acoustic - something I have never seen them do and that includes a take on ‘The Watcher’ from Lemmy’s era. From there it blows up with a bludgeoning, cosmic, 10-minute blaze through the psychic jams of ‘Born To Go’ - which could be the album’s best. Other highlights include the rather majestic ‘Magnu’, ‘You Better Believe It’ that’s as good as I’ve ever heard it, the epic ‘The Machine’ which has what sounds like a piano powering it along complete with a wild, freak-out sax solo and the vaguely honky-tonk hit of ‘Brainbox Pollution’. Of course, the ubiquitous ‘Silver Machine’ closes the whole thing. Totally enjoyable stuff and so pleasing that they can still kick up a cosmic commotion - especially as it’s been 20 years or more since I last saw them. (29.10.18)

HEAVY HEART - Love Against Capture {Brassneck} Second album from this band outta France and it pretty much picks up where the debut album below left off. Opener ‘A New Life’ is a stark, sedate and emotive opener but holds the attention and features those great mass vocals that stood out on the debut. From there you get another ten tracks of Indie infused Punk, all of which definitely have that BANNER PILOT/ IRON CHIC vibe but highlights include the rolling ‘Fragments’, the understated lead guitar lines and mildly discordant riffage of ‘Out Of Place’ and the insistent ‘Truth’ which could be the highlight were it not for ‘Holding On’ that features those mass vocals to great effect, has a bold lead vocal and is propelled by some energetic playing. Would still like to see a more grit about the tracks as the more rollicking tunes here are certainly the more convincing. (27.07.19)

HEAVY HEART - Distance {Brassneck} Ten track album from this quartet outta Nantes, France that instantly had me thinking of BANNER PILOT if fused with J CHURCH with added ATARIS and IRON CHIC for good measure. Of the ten tracks, best moments include opener ‘Unravel’ that had a SENSELESS THINGS energy, ‘Caged’ that barrels along on a sparse guitar lead and some excellent mass backing vocals (which are evident throughout in fact) and ‘Out Of Reach’ that’s got a neat arrangement and given real depth by those massed backing vocals. Highlight would have to be ‘Poison’ that brings all the best bits together in a single two minute track and also boasts a boisterous vocal. As a negative, I would’ve liked to have heard a bit more grit about the production as it’s all a tad smooth in places; but then I’m guessing garageland isn’t the aim either. One to watch I reckon. (09.06.18)

HERESY - Face Up To It! {Boss Tuneage} 30 years ago, HERESY recorded this, a 17 track album that always had the potential to be great, but was destroyed via truly terrible production. Boss Tuneage reissued it a few years ago with better production and have upped that once again for this 30th anniversary release. It seems the original masters were discovered and restored and the result is spectacular. The songs sound dynamic, intense, clear, loud and, without sounding crass, comes over like a whole new album - it’s that much better. Standouts remain my personal faves - opener ‘Consume’, ‘Belief’ and ‘Against The Grain’. Along with the original 17 tracks, this throws in nine bonus tracks recorded during the same session and released on the Japanese version of the album. Among those are some select covers that really indicate where HERESY were coming from: DYS, SIEGE, YOUTH OF TODAY. Released as a double album, or CD with great packaging (which includes new liner notes from the band, photos, flyers and lyrics), this is pretty essential as a history lesson and for those who own the original and just know it’s a good album - now you have the proof. (30.12.18)
HEWHOCANNOTBENAMED - The Good, The Bad And The Brutal {Spaghetty Town} PODCAST PLAYED Fifth solo album from the infamous DWARVES member. You’ll be pleased to know that HEWHO... has not gone Folk, Disco nor adopted a CRASS-esque Anarcho political out look. Nope, this is another 12 tracks of catchy, apolitical Punk Rock, somewhere between the DWARVES circa ‘Litte Girls’ and SCREECHING WEASEL but with a bit of experimental sounds be it brass, acoustic guitars or keyboards. Highlights are plenty, be it ‘Bad Means Good’ that grooves along on a smart mid-paced riff and has a wonderful wigged, out guitar solo, ‘Good Kill’ that’s more aggressive, ‘The Good Gestapo’ could be the best track with a super-bubblegum melody and one that woulda been a highlight of many a DWARVES album, ‘A Good Day To Die’ rolls along like a virtual sea shanty or opener ‘A Good Problem’ is just classic, witty, negative, ramalama HEWHO... while ‘Good Guys Of The Wild West’ is a Spaghetti Western Punk cracker complete with brass parts. Solid stuff that’s maybe a bit more varied than a DWARVES album, not quite as confrontational but still a solid slice of Rock ‘n’ Fucking Roll. Do the HEWHO... (24.03.19)
HOLDOUT, THE - The Things That Brought Us Here {Grafton} Jeez... This lot make a big sound considering it’s just a three piece. This is the band’s debut album and includes the rhythm section from TEMPER AND HOLD, with the bassist, Andi Camp, on vocals. It makes for an interesting sound, with Andi’s soaring and ethereal vocal wafting over complex but heavy sounds. Think CASTRO playing BOB MOULD with a hint of ARCHERS OF LOAF complexity and SWERVEDRIVER power thrown in. Highlights are plenty, be it ‘Always Never Enough’ that sees shards of guitar flying in all directions and moments of dense, relentless beats, ‘Something’s Still Shorting Out’ that has a strong and memorable chorus, the discordant finale of closer ‘For Those Who Fought’ and ‘Like Those Undead’ that has some genuinely damage-inducing power. Have to say, the lyrics on the inner sleeve are really annoying with only parts of them appearing without any differentiation. These are complex songs that most definitely benefit from repeated plays - and each play it just gets better. Limited and comes with a download. (23.01.19)

HOLIDAY - California Steamin’ {Brassneck} PODCAST PLAYED These fellas are fucking great and this ten track album is their debut long-player. If you miss the days of MEGA CITY FOUR and SENSELESS THINGS gigs, then you have just found your new favourite band, but brought right up to date. Opener ‘Let’s Go Outside’ would be a standout on either bands’ best records while the second track, ‘Tuppence For Hate’ could be the best track on the whole album as LEATHERFACE-esque guitars load up with lyrics tackling UK race relations and Brexit. Other goodies among the remaining tracks include ‘Lunch Break’ the flows along on an understated, clean guitar lead, the high energy ‘Everything Seems So Strange’ and ‘CQ’ that contains one of the best choruses on the album - and it’s packed with them! Production is fantastic too; it’s raw enough to remain urgent yet all the instruments are audible and have plenty of room while the vocals are clear, kinda sarcastic sounding and retain their Mancunian accent giving the whole sound a genuine identity. Great stuff that’s just quality songwriting cranked out with a sense of take-it-or-leave-it joy. Recommended!!

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