Top Sounds - L

LA GUNS - Hellraisers Ball: Caught In The Act {Secret} Ploddy, wannabe gutter glam rock from this band that was formed 25 years ago by a pre-Guns ‘n’ Roses Axle. It’s recorded live in Bradford, UK in 2003 (ohh yeah - the rock ‘n’ roll boulevard of, umm, West Yorkshire) and is well recorded. Snag is, every song is four minutes +, most are five and one even drones on for an excruciating NINE fucking minutes. There’s lots of wanky guitar solos, too many cliched rock ‘n’roll cliches and a singer that is desperately trying to be a ‘bad-ass rock ‘n’ roll DUDE!’ while actually sounding like an incontinent old drag queen. There’s a song called ‘Long Time Dead’ - please heed your own words, you baaaaaad ‘muthafuckers’!

LAGWAGON - I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen To Lagwagon {Fat Wreck} The irony of this disc’s title cannot be underestimated when you consider 2008 represents the band’s 20th year as a unit! What’s even better is that this 7-track EP doesn’t rely on the tried and tested LAGWAGON melodi-thrash that the band virtually has a patent on. There’s a distinct ALL vibe here - least of all on the disc highlights of ‘Errands’, opener ‘B Side’ and the poppier ‘Memoirs And Landmines’. Besides those, there is a mellower, almost introvert nature about ‘Fallen’ while ‘Live It Down’ adds some vaguely Eastern style melodies mixed with a sense of bombast. In general, this is good stuff that will enthuse those who are already fans while making a few of the critical skeptics eat their own words.

LAGWAGON – Live In A Dive {Fat Wreck} The 7th in Fat’s live series sees the warp-speed Punk tuneage of LAGWAGON and a butt-scorching 22-track slab of slick and tight melodic Punk it is. The disc covers the band’s career from the ‘Duh’ album through to the ‘Blaze’ platter and even features an unreleased gem. All your faves are here – ‘Violins’, ‘Bombs Away’, a scathing ‘Sick’, ‘Falling Apart’ and a full-throttle set closing ‘Stokin’ The Neighbours’ while ‘Mr. Coffee’ makes it as a CD-ROM add on. As with the whole series there’s neat comic-book packaging, a sound of crystal clarity and a chanting crowd high on the speed of LAGWAGON Punkarama. This is a band that, from personal experience, is best experienced live – and here is the audio proof at least.

LAGWAGON - Resolve {Fat Wreck} I'm not sure if this new LAGWAGON slab even requires a review. Everyone knows the band's sound: tight, fast, melodic, lots of time changes, crisp and it remains the definitive example of that early Fat Wreck sound. But this disc DOES offer something different - improved and deeper lyrics. This could be seen as a reflective and inward-looking album, with songs like 'Virus', 'Sad Astronaut' and 'Infectious' seemingly addressing the passing of those close, and more. 'Rager' and 'Creepy' keep the tempo level on high while those trademark killer chorus' are still evident throughout the disc. Gotta say, I'd have liked to have heard more guitars; they sound subdued and virtually compromised in favour of the vocals - guess that's expected though when the singer produces the album. What more can I say? It's a LAGWAGON album and one with somewhat more substance than those before it.

SIMON LAMBERT & THE BABY CYNICS - Home Loving Man {Norvician} The latest 3-track CDEP from the STEVE WYNN of Ipswich. The lead track is certainly the one that instantly grabs the attention with open chords crashing all through & some dam-busting drumming from Ippo’s finest stixman, Paul Read. ‘Every Word You Say’ is a slower, reflective & (I guess) personal sounding tune that wouldn’t be outta place on a SMITHEREENS album. ‘Starsky And Hutch’ is a bit too 70s rock (with a wah-wah’d lead riff) for these snotty Punk Rock-attuned ears. Simon has always had an adroit sense of wit about his lyrics, without the end result sounding crass or cheap & that trait is continued here, particularly with the lead track & ‘Starsky And Hutch’. Production & performance are a step up too, which is also good to see. So, it ain’t DISCHARGE… But it does rock more than most crying-in-my-tonic-water Emo twaddle, plus it’s 100% DIY & packed full of quality tunesmithery which, I think, most folks would appreciate. I’m guessing about £3 ppd from 70 Cemetery Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 2HX, UK but e-mail Simon on for confirmation.

LAST UNDER THE SUN - All Empires Crumble {Iron Man} Raging, thrashy, snotty Street Punk from this UK band. It's all very anti-establishment and is, generally, very convincing. Highlights have to be the bitter thrash of 'Open Fire' that comes on like MOTORHEAD crossed with IN THE SHIT. 'Not In My Name' is another belter, with production being powerful while retaining a neat raw feel. What lets the EP down is 'Fuck The Government'. Shouting the obvious is easy, but as it is here, with no alternative or answer, the statement of anger becomes little more than nihilistic bleating. That aside, this is strong, angry and political Punk Rock.

LEATHERFACE - Dog Disco {BYO} It’s without doubt that this band is now a British Punk Institution. It represents what is arguably the most influential UK band since the 70s & certainly since the DISCHARGE/ CONFLICT era. The band just continues to crank out consistently great releases, one after the other, without compromising its sound to fit in with the latest cool fad, & that trait continues here with a 12-track blockbuster. As soon as Frankie opens up that whisky-drenched, razor wire-scarred voice & that guitar explodes in a sub-volcanic fashion, you know that once more you are in very safe hands. This album seems to represent a less aggressive sounding L/FACE, as tracks like ‘Small Yellow Chair’, ‘You’ and the subtle ‘Plastic Surgery’ prove. ‘Red Diesel’ & ‘Rabbit Pie Alibi’ make sure all the bluster of old is present while ‘Hoodlum’ & the explosive guitar flurries of ‘Heed The Ball’ could have easily fitted on the majestic ‘Mush’ album. It took a few plays for this to really take hold - possibly because of the more subdued & reflective nature of the album - but on 4 or 5 plays I found its groove & discovered a truly cohesive, impressive, occasionally lacerating and frequently astounding release - again!

LEFTOVER CRACK – Fuck World Trade {Alternative Tentacles/ Household Name Recs} Initially, this really didn’t happen for me. The band’s previous album was a shockingly ferocious slab of noxious Punk, but here Steve Albini’s production seemed to render the sound cold, compressed and mechanical. Given a few more plays those acerbic, vitriol-drenched vocals of Stza and the sheer belligerence of the guitar attack takes hold - with the same potency of a rusty nail being driven through the palm. Yep, the 13 tracks here are stinging, biting testaments of incisive, inventive, angry and impertinent Punk Rock. The whole album, from the title to the lyrical content (‘One Dead Cop’, ‘Burn Them Prisons’, ‘Clear Channel (Fuck Off)’) to the artwork (a bastardisation of the now-sacrosanct imagery of the Twin Towers attack incorporating Bush, Cheney, Giuliani and oil pumps) suggests the moral majority and conservative establishment will be offended like ever before - or at least not since the first MDC album. There’s a progression musically too, with the introduction of acoustics, violins, pianos and accordions. At the album’s heart though, are blazing, embittered and vicious Punk Rock attacks such as ‘Gringos Son Puercos Feos’, ‘Super Tuesday’ and ‘Via Sin Dios’. Ska is less represented than before but tracks like ‘Life Is Pain’ and ‘Gang Control’ keep the skankin’ quota topped up. A colossal album; a record that reaffirms Punk can be threatening, informed, inflammatory, angry and good.  

LEGBONE/ THE GOONS - split {Rat Town} Three tracks each on this blue vinyl 7". LEGBONE kick things off - or at least kick things down with a ferocious, snarling thrash sounds that rips with the intensity of early ARTICLES OF FAITH mixed with a Punk savagery on par with D.O.A. Really potent Punk gear that’s both melodic and as powerful as a blow to the head with a baseball bat swung by a jackhammer. THE GOONS do a thrashier, eclectic fuzz thing, kinda FLESHIES meets SWING DING AMIGOS. On its own, THE GOONS side is convincing, snotty HC but fails to ignite the ears the way LEGBONE does. Great stuff - let’s hope to hear a full LEGBONE album soon!

LEGION OF PARASITES - Another Disaster {Overground} Another choice reissue of vintage UK Anarcho Punk from Overground. This documents this underrated Bedford band’s early career. You get the 7-track demo from ‘82 (from which this comp’s title is taken) that features the excellent ‘Protest And Survive’. Then there’s the Rocksnake demo from the same year that features original mixes of the ‘Undesirable Guests’ 12" and finally there’s the blazing, self-released album from ‘85, ‘The Prison Of Life’. The album includes ‘Sea Of Desecration’ that appeared on Mortarhate’s infamous ‘We Don’t Want Your Fucking War’ comp and is a fiery mix of the virulent sounds of ANTI-SECT mixed with a formative USHC vibe of COC and features great Anarcho spew like ‘Death In The City’ and ‘War Hero’ while the earlier CRASS/ FLUX sounding demos include ‘Hypocrite’ and ‘All Out Attack’. As with all Overground reissues, there’s a lengthy biog, photos and cuttings making this more than a bog-standard reissue. Definitely more EXIT-STANCE than EXPLOITED - and much better for it!

LEMONHEADS - It’s A Shame About Ray {Rhino} Reissue of the fifth LEMONHEADS album, released back in ‘92 and an album that represented not only the band’s peak but also the last truly great release by the band. The Punk tonalities of ‘Hate Your Friends’ are gone as are the Indie bursts of noise that made ‘Lick’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘Lovey’. In their place is a joyous, relaxed country-esque rock. ‘Confetti’, ‘Rudderless’ and ‘Hannah & Gabi’ bounce along with the recklessness of a summer afternoon while the introspection of ‘My Drug Buddy’ and ‘Turnpike Down’ counteract that with a sense of melancholic Sunday hangovers. Written and inspired by an Australian tour, you can virtually taste the great continent as the album plays. There are 10 extra solo acoustic demos + a 45-minute DVD of the band’s tour of Australia which is, disappointingly, little more than a succession of promo videos with the odd Dando comment. I remember buying this and seeing the band on the subsequent tour and I still enjoy this listen; it’s a chilled out, laid back and uplifting album. As a package it’s a reminder of a great record and an essential pressing of the disc - I just wish the DVD could have been more revelatory and/ or inspiring.

LEVELLERS - Letters From The Underground {On The Fiddle} Returning with a new album for the first time in near-on four years, THE LEVELLERS sound more urgent than ever. I’m sure some people reading this will question the band’s validity on a site dedicated to Punk Rock, but in a scene where stunningly average bands like REAL McKENZIES and FLOGGING MOLLY are lauded, it’s criminal that those self same people deride THE LEVELLERS. The power behind opener ‘The Cholera Well’, ‘Armchair Anarchist’ and the depth-charge bass rumble behind the killer refrain of ‘Eyes Wide’ all piss on anything the McKENZIES has ever recorded. This is a hugely political album too as ‘Burn America Burn’. ‘Behold A Pale Rider’ and the stunning disc closer, ‘Fight Or Flight’ all prove. There’s definitely a lineage that can be traced back to THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG with songs that are personal and political and biting without constantly resorting to bombast. What’s more, this is on the band’s own label. Hats off to the guys for making a record that’s more Punk Rock than anything AGAINST ME! could hope to release in the year of 2008!

LIGHTYEAR - Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Book Shop (Household Name Recs) All too rarely a band & a record come along that totally redefines a whole genre. This second (& final) LIGHTYEAR album is just one such record. In a sea of shallow, play-it-by-numbers Ska-Punk bands, this is a revelation as it’s inventive, intelligent & just ‘lightyears’ ahead of the competition. Tracks segue in to tracks with deft aplomb, the arrangements continually surprise even on repeated listens & lyrically it encompasses a panorama of subjects from politics to kebabs! It’s kinda unfair to call LIGHTYEAR Ska-Punk – this is a totally original sound, slipping between frantic thrash & rich succulent grooves, which is beyond compare. LIGHTYEAR was, without doubt, one of the most entertaining live bands I have ever seen. Their shows were more akin to a carnival laced with awesome, tight sounds. I caught them live many times, including two of their final three shows & they continually impressed. And this release is a stunning & definitive swansong of an already hugely missed band.

LITTERBUG - Speaking Through The Gaps {JSNTGM} LITTERBUG is the new band featuring former ERASE TODAY man Andy Higgins and continues his trait of inventive, thought-provoking and challenging Punk Rock; a Punk Rock that doesn’t pander to the latest fad and retains individual identity and integrity - traits that are too rare today. It’s a mixed bag, bringing to mind PIXIES mixed with JOY DIVISION played by DAN with a SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES influence (check out ‘Open Space’ for proof). It carries that usual Higgins sarcasm, particularly in tracks like ‘Subhuman Scum’ and ‘A Simple Contradiction’. All seven tracks have a nice raw feel and, besides those comparisons above, there's also a hint of the more inventive British Anarcho bands of the 80s. Definitely one to watch and, knowing Andy, I’m sure you will not see LITTERBUG slipping into a rut of complacency.

LIVE FAST DIE - Bandana Thrash Record {Dead Beat} Nah, not a tribute to SUICIDAL TENDENCIES but ultra low budget, ultra arrogant, ultra un-PC snot Punk from this 4-piece that seemingly worships at the Shrine of GG. LFD embody the identikit sleazy, minimalist and moronic traits of GG in songs like ‘Amputated’, ‘Passin Out In Front Of The Children’ and ‘Bombed Over Sixpackistan’. Elsewhere you get hints of RAMONES, early QUEERS and LEWD. The faster tracks fly by like GG’s shit in a Texas strip joint while the slower tracks like ‘Weapons’ and ‘F-Train’ come on like a mini BIG BLACK played via a totally fucked-up STOOGES. Not a record for the faint hearted or those looking for any intellectual political insight. But for those looking for short-sighted GGisms, juvenile shock tactics and insubstantiality, look no further.

LOCOMOTIONS - s/t {Dead Beat} Had the STONES' Keith Richards and the DOLLS' Sylvain Sylvain hooked up with THE CRAMPS intending to create some shit-kickin', raw and ragged rock 'n' roll, they may well have sounded like this ferocious slab of dirty, guttural Garage Rock. The band hail from Stockholm, Sweden and comprise of 3 guys well versed in creating some smokin' noise. These 14 tracks were originally released on a 12-track album and a 2-track 7". Thankfully, the rock 'n' roll junkies at Dead Beat have re-released them and opened the band to a wider audience. The source of the band's undeniable energy could be drummer Topi whose assault on the kit is up there with Scabies and Moon while vocalist Martin has a voice that sounds like his been gargling with ground glass. A few covers include a sassy, cocky version of the STONES' 'Under My Thumb' and a totally ravaged, deconstructed and frantic take on 'Do The Locomotion'. A band I wanna hear more of and probably the pick of the latest bunch of Dead Beat releases.

LONG BALL TO NO-ONE - The Little Boy Picked Up A Rock… And Threw It Over The Fence {Snuffy Smile} Given the band’s name, I was expecting a total SNUFF rip off. I got just the opposite. I also got something quite unlike any other Japanese band of the moment. This is not the bright Pop-Punk of NAVEL or LOVEMEN, nor is it the riffed up DILLINGER FOURisms of THE URCHIN or I EXCUSE. What it is is 10 tracks of DC influenced post-HC, somewhere along the lines of JAWBOX or BLUE TIP, played with a less refined but more ferocious edge. There’s changing rhythms, discordant guitars bouncing off each other, vaguely tribal drums, left of centre stops and lots of musical tension. The vocals don’t always translate too well, which is a shame as there appear to be several directed in an anti-capitalist, political vein. Highlights include ‘Word’, the freewheeling ‘At The Present Time’ and the aggressive, political bellicosity of ‘Build Them Targets And They Will Come’. A definite change of direction for Japanese Punk Rock and for this label, but one which is no less effective.

LOVED ONES - Build And Burn {Fat Wreck} It took a few plays to get this. I liked the band, but faced with full-on rock ballads like ‘Selfish Masquerade’, subtle acousticness on ‘Brittle Heart’ and a bit of unexpected Country Rock, I was a bit taken aback. Since the disc below, half the band has been replaced with a couple of guys outta THE EXPLOSION while production is handled by a couple of the BOUNCING SOULS. Most of what I said below is still valid but it’s now coupled with hints of AGAINST ME!, and a splash of SOUL ASYLUM. ‘Louisiana’ is a highlight - bombastic and countrified in a way SOUL ASYLUM hasn’t achieved since ‘Hangtime’, while ‘The Bridge’ and ‘The Inquirer’ are exquisite slices of rocking, melodic Punk. The whole disc is packed with well crafted songs that have enough depth to require a few plays to grasp and, as a complete album, it’s a gratifying piece of work.

LOVED ONES - Keep Your Heart {Fat Wreck} You know a band has a certain pedigree when it features ex-members of KID DYNAMITE, TRIAL BY FIRE and PAINT IT BLACK. This is a really rounded album for a debut, full of killer hooks, tight and powerful playing, a few neat twists and held together by Brian McTernan’s ever-reliable production. The negative is that it all gets off on a real low with one of two low points during the whole album. Had the disc kicked in with the muscular ‘Breathe In’ instead of ‘Suture Self’ (and the dismal ‘Over 50 Club’ had been left off altogether), the whole mood of the disc would have had an entirely better start. ‘Sickening’ sees a slowing of pace and some sombre sounds and proved to be one of the highlights along with disc closer ‘Player Hater Anthem’ and the superb ‘Benson And Hedges’. The whole album owes more to a rougher GAMEFACE than the explosive sounds of KID DYNAMITE and could prove to be quite a killer with repeated listens.

LOVE EQUALS DEATH - Nightmerica {Fat Wreck} Debut album from this quartet that features the singer outta the under-rated LOOSE CHANGE. It’s OK if a commercialised NERVE AGENTS appeals; or AFI without the invention. Personally, I think it’s stuff you can hear in any city anywhere - and probably just as good if not better. ‘Black Rain’ was OK and album highlight, ‘The Broadcast’ saw an increase in pace and venom with some great bitter, politicised vocals coming to the fore. The art work is totally on the nail for this horrorpunk stuff; very sharp and atmospheric. The band also feature a founding member of TSUNAMI BOMB. Let’s hope album #2 sees more of the bitterness in ‘The Broadcast’ and less of the slick desperate-to-be-mainstream slop of ‘Pray For Me’.

LOWER CLASS BRATS - Loud And Out Of Tune: Live {TKO} Fantastic live package featuring a 17-track CD recorded in July 2006 + a 13-track DVD recorded a year earlier. The CD is really tight and punchy with ‘Clockwork Fuse, opener ‘Ultra-Violence’ and ‘Safety Pinned And Sick’ being particularly impressive. The DVD sounds looser and somewhat thinner but it does give the definite understanding that the band would make for a great night out. Sound-wise it’s a fist-pumping mix of Punk, Oi! and rock ‘n’ roll - kinda like UK SUBS meets 7 SECONDS. You get covers of MAD PARADE, MISFITS and RAMONES and for extra smart value there’s a promo video of ‘Just Like Clockwork’. This is a really strong package that gets more enjoyable with each listen as a heap of anthemic chorus’ stick in the head. A great introduction for the curious to the spikey snot of LCB!

LUCKY PUNCH - Kick Up A Hullabaloo {Dead Beat} Find the SUPERSUCKERS too mainstream? THE HIVES too lightweight? Well, these 4 long-haired, rockin' ragamuffins from Germany could be your new favourite band. For me, it would have been an awesome 6-track EP consisting of the first 5 tracks + the turbo-charged 'Never Gonna Know What You Haven't Tried'. The rest of it is a little too guitar-solo-laced rock for my ears, as typified by 'Behind The Smile'. It is convincing, edgy, stacked full of hot guitar chops and wah-wah axe solos, but my Punk-attuned ears found it a bit one-dimensional. Standouts would have to be 'Twisted Feelings' and 'So What You Gonna Do About It?' that incorporate a neat country twang in the riffage assault. The vinyl version features an extra track also. Piledriving stuff - just not really my kinda stuff.

LUNASUIT - Summer Season {Boss Tuneage} Jeez, I thought this lot was long gone! It’s been four years since the band’s last album was out, the debut ‘Controlled Noise’. As expected, the sound is more mature, fuller in tone & equally effective. Vocalist Jo’s voice has developed here also, to give her much more resonance. The snag I have with the band is that there seems to be little identity between songs - they’re all up-tempo, melodic & involve the formatted breakdowns, guitar fills & vocal harmonies that were employed on the last album. ‘Conformist’ hints at just how good the band could be as it’s dramatic & seems to have had more thought given to its arrangement, as does the breathless opener ‘The Thing You Live For’. This is far from a bad album, just one that saw my interest decrease as the sounds progressed.

LURKERS - Fried Brains {Captain Oi!} Shit - shouldn’t these guys have split up after ‘God’s Lonely Men’? On the strength of this, the answer is a defiant NO! These 14 tracks fizz with an energy the band’s contemporaries can but wish for; it sounds really fresh too - no hackneyed attempts at reliving past glories. It’s the same choice mix of RAMONES riffs played via a hyped ‘77 UK Punk vibe. Arturo’s lyrical wit is evident but it’s mixed with a serious side best demonstrated on ‘Revenge Of The Dogs’ that focuses on the plight of disowned Greyhounds after their track life. Highlights have to be ‘Why You So Happy To Give Your Mind Away’, the stellar ‘Too Late To Change’ and ‘Punk Rock Brought Us Together’ which has to be heard! I doubt this will afforded the same reverence as ‘Fulham Fallout’ but, taken on its own merits, it’s a fun-filled 40 minutes that could provide the soundtrack to a tipsy Punk Rock Party.