Top Sounds - L

LAGWAGON - Duh, Trashed, Hoss, Double Plaidinum, Let’s Talk About Feelings {Fat Wreck} Fat’s first band gets the reissue treatment - and it’s a good marker to other labels when it comes to reissuing. Each of these albums come packaged in fold-out digipack sleeves, have at least 11 extra tracks, comprehensive liner notes from the band and inserts containing all the lyrics and some photos. ‘Duh’ is the big deal here, spanning a total of 38 songs over two CDs. Along with the original, remastered album you get some outtakes from the same session and two demos that contain 18 unreleased tracks. The pick of the bunch for me has always been ‘Hoss’ - it’s LAGWAGON at their peak complete with complex riffs, great songs, humour and a continuity that, while the rest of the albums are good, they fail to match that of ‘Hoss’. I know the band’s brand of melodic tuneage is not for everybody, but having seen the band live a few times and having had three of these five album for nigh on two decades, I can honestly say that few bands of the early 90s ‘Pop-Punk’ explosion continue to sound as impressive as LAGWAGON does on these albums. (17.06.13)

LAHTARIT - Sun Kuplas Repes {1918 Records} Rather odd 7" from this, I think, Finnish Oi! band. Why odd? Well, each side of the wax has a subtitle of ‘The Business’ and ‘The Partisans’ and the band members all have the same surname (Ahtari). Of the tracks, ‘Soininen Armeijassa’ (that’s The Partisans side) takes the prizes as it’s a bit more swaggering; a bit more sneering. There are no English translations provided and the font of the text on the artwork renders it open to misinterpretation. There’s solid production and it generally carries enough swagger to lift if out of the plodding Oi! quagmire, (19.08.13)

LAURA PALMER - s/t {DIY} New band outta Melbourne, Australia that is actually 75% Kiwi, including ex-members of RITALIN, PCP EAGLES and THE OUTSIDERS among others. This is the band’s five-track debut and, somehow, the band has already got a sound of its own, laying down some very clever and full sounding songs. Interestingly, the first comparison that came to mind while listening to opener ‘Jessica’ was NZ’s very own SOMMERSET during their latter days, even if the song does pivot on a great chorus that coulda been a RAMONES chorus had the bruddas ever played The Fest. Highlight for me was ‘Broken Mirror’ that contained more ideas and composure than most bands ever manage and had me thinking of NONE MORE BLACK, while closer ‘Notes From the Underground’ is almost panoramic in sound. Although recorded in Melbourne, this was actually mixed by Brian McTernan at his legendary Salad Days studio in Baltimore - which no doubt aids the confidence that the band exudes. A really impressive debut in every way. (17.10.14)

LIPONA - Networks {Disconnect Disconnect} A stunningly sterile, bland 10 tracks of Rock music that fails to connect with me in any way. The singer in particular I found annoying; there’s no doubt he has a good set of pipes and can sing, but it just lacks attitude while the musicians (for the are ‘musicians’!) pull every trick known to make these Rock songs sound more interesting - ‘Comfort’ in particular could’ve been something like Whitesnake or any other dull, hair-band ballad before lurching into a STRUNG OUT-lite rip. Redirect to Kerrang! (06.02.14)

LOW CULTURE - Screens {Dirtnap} This is the new project from ex-SHANG-A-LANG, TOTAL JOCK and MARKED MEN people and contains 12 skilfully crafted Punk Rock tunes with a distinct pop edge that fuse the sneer of label mates STEVE ADAMYK BAND with the maverick charm of Douglas Burns in RED DONS mode and, most significantly, Sean Cole’s songs in TOYS THAT KILL. Highlights include ‘California’ and ‘To The Grave’ that highlight the TOYS THAT KILL vibe while ‘Modern World’ is a brisk and snappy Punk number while ‘Touchy Feely’ goes off into an incinerating Punk stratosphere recalling SHANG-A-LANG jamming with REATARDS. Production is crisp but retains enough edge about the guitars to prevent them being dry or compromised. Good gear yet again from Chris Mason and Joe Ayoub while Dirtnap churns out yet another winner. (20.07.13) 

LURKERS, THE - Fulham Fallout {Captain Oi!} All too often, THE LURKERS is said to be ‘Third Division Punk Rock’. Fact is, two kinds of people say that. The first is the one to whom Punk Rock is a brief flirtation with something ‘rebellious’ - they name check the PISTOLS, CLASH, RAMONES and maybe SIOUXSIE - but their actual knowledge of Punk Rock can be compressed into a goldfish turd. The other is one who has never heard the band's debut album, ‘Fulham Fallout’. It is an album of total Punk Rock greatness without a single duffer spread over its 14 tracks and among those 14 are a few indisputable classics - opener ‘Ain’t Got A Clue’, ‘Shadow’, Total War’ and my own favourite ‘I Don’t Need To Tell Her’. If you have never heard the LURKERS, think RAMONES meets early VIBRATORS, DRONES and the urgency of the ADVERTS. Additional to the album are another 12 tracks including another classic, ‘Freak Show’ plus demos and alternative versions. As always with Capt Oi, there’s a stellar booklet of band history, lyrics, photos and a deluxe foldout digipack sleeve. Fucking superb and still sounding so fresh and breathless that it’s hard to believe it was released back in 1978. Third Division? Only in the eyes of the ignorant. (16.03.13)

LYDIA LUNCH AND CYPRESS GROVE - A Fistful Of Desert Blues {Rustblade} Imagine a Spaghetti Western soundtrack - droning and sharp acoustic guitars, understated tribal drumming, some haunting melodies and sound effects and a disparate, detached vocal that is part whispered, part sung, part growled but completely in control and challenging. That sums up the newest from LYDIA LUNCH for me. It’s a bit too sombre for my ears but tracks like ‘Jericho’ and opener ‘Sandpit’ make convincing late night tunes with whiskey in hand and the only light being the natural light from the stars, while ‘End Of My Rope’ adds an electric guitar and rolling rhythm to take disc highlight. Includes a couple of notable covers in Mark Lanegan’s ‘Revolver’ and Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s ‘St Marks Place’ that is particularly effective. Definitely mood music that evokes Leonard Cohen and EXENE CERVENKA in equal measures. Intriguing? Yes. Essential? No. (06.11.14)

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