Top Sounds - I

INDIAN DREAM - Orca {Boss Tuneage} A Brit band from the late 80s that totally past my musical radar. This 16 track retrospective compiles the 1989 ‘Orca’ album, the ‘Indian Dream’ 7” from 1992 and the ‘Well Are You Happy Now?’ 7” from 1987. It’s a bit of an odd beast for a Boss Tuneage reissue too, coming on like a mix of melodramatic post-Punk and swirling Goth sounds. On the rockier tracks, like ‘Silent Screams’ and ‘Four Winds’ there’s a nod toward HAGAR THE WOMB and DEATH CULT but then that’s hindered by some distinct All About Eve folky-goth sounds. I even found myself thinking there’s a hefty U2 influence - check ‘Fire In The Mountains’ that could be off ‘Red Rocks’! The lyrics of Lesley are excellent - taking on topics of a very ‘green’ nature, be it the plight of the whale, anti-hunting and experimentation. Interesting and it’s certainly the ‘...Happy Now’ single that appeal the most. Unfortunately, all too often I found myself diverted and, um, a tad bored. (08.01.14)

INFECTIOUS GARAGE DISEASE - s/t {MVD/ Negative Reaction} These critters came outta the gutter of Sacramento back in 1986 and played a politically incorrect hybrid of JFA meets DRI with hints of ADOLESCENTS and SLAYER! Yep, an odd mix and throw in the party attitude of COMMON ENEMY and you’re close. This disc is a reissue of the band’s 1988 album along with two demos from the previous two years. It collects a whopping 43 tracks. That’s not all though, folks - pop the disc in a computer and you get live footage from a couple of gigs (the Danceteria footage from 1988 is particularly good) and a couple of rehearsal MP3s. It’s a massive package with highlights being ‘No Sense’ that highlights the ADOLESCENTS comparison and the HC blur of ‘S.F. Wharf’. Be warned though, tracks like ‘Dear Pops’ and ‘Pubic Lice’ show a sense of misogyny that is pretty fucking repulsive. I’m sure it’s in ‘fun’ but a line like, "Stupid cunt, she has no class," along with many others really suggests a lack of brains and jock mentality. Does that make it 'cool'? Dunno about that - but it surely makes it pretty stupid on the worst of levels. (20.12.13)

INSTIGATORS - Anthology Volume 2 {4Worlds Media/ PHD} Second of these two much-welcomed retrospectives. This volume is a straight reissue of the ‘Never Has Been’ rarities CD that Retch Records released back in 1995. You get a total of 17 tracks including AGENT ORANGE and SUBHUMANS (UK) covers, five of the tracks that were released on the band’s final cassette that was part of a Vision On zine special about the band and various demo and live recordings. There are lots of highlights including opener ‘Full Circle’ which was on the German version of the ‘Shockgun’ album and would’ve been one of the album’s best, ‘Senile 16’ from a US 7" is almost as good as anything on ‘Phoenix’ while b-side ‘Sleeper’ (titled as ‘Sloper’ on the Retch version) is a cracker. The tracks taken from that final cassette certainly sound a more logical progression from ‘Phoenix’ too. While I had hoped for a few rarer rarities rather than this straight-up reissue, the packaging of this is much better than the Retch version with lyrics, track origins and lots of photos. As always, excellent stuff and if the Retch version is missing from your collection, this could just be a contender for the top of your ‘needs’ list. (26.09.14)

INSTIGATORS - Anthology Volume 1 {4Worlds Media/ PHD} Let’s make this clear - I fucking loved, and continue to love this band. This compiles the band’s third album, ‘Shockgun’ released in 1988 and the ‘New Old Now’ album from 1989. Following the band’s first two classic albums, ‘Shockgun’ was a different sound. It was more rock-based, more adventurous but still effective. Opener ‘Tricked And Abused’ features some serious double-bass drumming while both ‘Cry Freedom’ and ‘Situation Desperate’ could be from the ‘Phoenix’ album. The main let down was always ‘Mass Insanity’ with odd whispered parts and general rock workouts. Oddly, the sleeve omits ‘One Way Ticket’ from the tracking but it’s there to be heard. ‘New Old Now’ sees re-recordings of tracks from the first two albums and sounds fresh, vibrant and not too different to the originals. You get six tracks from ‘Nobody Listens Anymore’ and four from ‘Phoenix’ including the classic ‘Hedonism’. The sleeve reprints full lyrics, offers some new photos but fails to acknowledge the original albums or reprint the album covers. I’ve lived with these records for 25 years or so and they still thrill me. This timely reissue should have the same effect on you - especially ‘New Old Now’. (26.09.14)

ITCHY-O - Burn The Navigator {Alternative Tentacles} Fucking hell, this has gotta be one of the most out-there yet surprisingly addictive records I’ve heard in an age. Imagine the tribal back beat of dual-drumming era ADAM AND THE ANTS, fused with the electronic terrorism of THE SCREAMERS, the Punk attack of INTRO5PECT and the menace of SKINNY PUPPY with the occasional moment of nerdy DEVO-esque techno and you’re close. Then imagine that experimental noise ensemble playing some fusion of Industrial and Jazz that frequently borders on complete chaos and you’re closer still. ITCHY-O is a 32-piece (yep, thirty and two!) percussion-based electronic marching band and mobile sector of Denver’s experimental film/ music troupe ITCHY-O MARCHING BAND. This is the debut album and, while tough listening, when you are in the right mood and head-space for this kinda aural sensation assassination, it’s a compulsive, alarming and thrilling glimpse of what a fusion of chaos and insanity may sound like. If you’re not in that head-space, it might send you insane. Wild, thrilling and most definitely not first-date music!! (23.10.14)

IT*MEN, THE - Greatest Its {SHR} After hearing any contrived or parody band, I’m always left asking, "Why?" That’s particularly evident in the case of IT*MEN who proffer to be mid-late 60s ‘founders of Punk’. Y’see this is a double vinyl album, wrapped in a faux-distressed gatefold sleeve with inner sleeves with a lovingly written but crass joke-laden band history on the gatefold. The pics clearly do not come from that era and the sounds of the band lack the dimension and vintage vibe of MC5 or STOOGES. This actually has more in common with The Datsans or some of the more mediocre Grunge bands. Add on songs as cliched as ‘Doing Drugs For You’, ‘Screw The Pooch’ and the endless dirge of side four’s ‘Death Machine’ and you have a very unconvincing gimmick. Oddly, the band does convince in places - ‘Altamonster’ and ‘To Tell You The Truth’ both kinda rock. However, given the lavish production for something that is merely a spoof, well, I gotta ask, again, "Why?" (26.12.14)

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