Top Sounds - I

IN DIRE FUCKING STRAITS - January’s Kids {JSNTGM} Limited to a mere 200 on tangerine vinyl, this 10 track album features JSNTGM head-honcho Andy Higgins. Total Blackpool FC vibe going on here too as the insert proudly states, ‘Anti-Oyston, Pro-hooligan Punk Rock’ with tracks titled ‘Tower Of Blackpool’, ‘Pubs Of Blackpool’ (one of the album’s best tracks) and ‘Streets Of Blackpool’ while opener ‘Voices Of Blackpool’ features a number of vocal opinions, most of them expletive laden! Fantastic!! Musically, it’s solid, melodic UK Punk Rock that’s both inventive and accessible, similar to RED LETTER DAY with a vague DC influence in places. Best bits include ‘On The Seventh Day’ that could be a LEATHERFACE outtake, ‘Tyrants’ which could be the highlight with a defiant claim to the likes of Donald Trump that “we’re not frightened anymore" and the take on ‘Jingle Bells’ has to be heard rather than explained. Stellar stuff that is essential for any Blackpool Punk while being effective as a whole body of work in a decidedly convincing way. Could actually be the surprise hit of 2019 - I’ve played this heaps already!! (08.09.19)

INFESTED, THE - Raw Ensemble {EHC} Eleven track album from this band outta Leeds, England and it’s clear from the start they obviously have a LEFTOVER CRACK/ STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS vibe going on. There’s the same semi-barked/ semi-sneered vocals, high energy Punk rocking and aggro stabs of Ska. Throw in bursts of damaged Metal riffing, early RANCID, ANTI-FLAG and AGAINST ALL AUTHORITY and you have the picture. Tracks of interest include ‘Another Life’ that’s a clever track played out on acoustic guitars, ‘Dopamine’ that’s got some virtual MINISTRY riffing in parts and ‘Fight Or Flight’ that amps the ska a bit. Best track for me was ‘SSRI Or Die’ that featured stronger arrangement, good lyrics and less of those rather distracting growled Stza-esque vocals. Lyrically the album is interesting tackling all kinds of material from voting, consumerism, terrorism and containment and never once does it resort to a load of tired fuckisms. Not a record that’ll change my life but it’s well done, intelligent and if you obsess over LEFTOVER CRACK, then you may just have found the UK band for you. (05.07.18)

INTERROBANG - s/t {All The Madmen} Recorded back in 2017 and finally seeing a release on vinyl, this is the recent project by former CHUMBAWAMBA men, Dunstan Bruce and Harry Hamer. You get 14 songs, many of which have an autobiographical tone about them, and those that don’t are out-spoken but thoughtful attacks on complacency, music, mortality and more. Musically, it all pivots around the basics of guitar/drums/vocals - no dance beats, no samples - just slightly quirky, understated, snappy songs and good songs at that. Plenty of highlights here, be it the tone setting opener, ‘Here Now’, the staccato attack of ‘Asking For A Friend’, the poignant ‘Do You Remember?’ and the GANG OF FOUR-esque groove of ‘Billingham’. Best track is a straight battle between the RUTSish chops of ‘Are You Ready People?’ and the hypnotic groove of ‘Breathe’. On first listen, it didn’t quite impress, but successive listens have worked the groove and the flow of these songs into the mind. With each listen, I sense this is an ever more personal set of songs. Comes in a foldout sleeve and download code. Don’t expect ‘Tubthumping’, but a bit of ‘Never Mind The Ballots’ fused with ‘Swingin’ With Raymond’ isn’t far off the mark. (12.11.19)
ITCHY-O - Mystic Spy/ Psykho Dojo {Mettle Studios} Latest seven tracks from this Denver outfit, and the first album to be released on their own label. The last I heard they were a 32-piece, that’s now swelled to 57 and this album “explores two themes: (1) a realm of esoteric trickery and espionage, and (2) a parallel universe of deep martial psychic discipline.” Sounds pretty deep but when you hear something as thrilling as ‘Black Mist’, it all makes sense. Soundwise, it’s more ambient and a tad more Industrial than the ‘Burn The Navigator’ album, bringing in Jazz influences and amping the SKINNY PUPPY/ MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO vibe. Other highlights include the nine minutes of ‘The Silver River’ that starts with minimalist, ambient beats, morphs into a virtual tribal war dance before a vaguely Spaghetti Western guitar line appears with a sadistic marching band behind it, and the danceable ‘Saptaloka’. As with before, you need to be in the right head-space for this - and maybe aware of the band’s sound as I found it a little less instant than ‘...Navigator’. (05.03.19)
Hit HERE to review material prior to 2018 including: