Top Sounds - L

LAGWAGON - Railer {Fat Wreck} This, the band’s ninth album, was apparently recorded in a short period of time to try and recapture the spirit of the band’s early work. It certainly has an intensity that their previous few albums have lacked, but really, it’s LAGWAGON - theirs is a distinctive sound and whether they’re flat-out rocking like ‘Surviving California’ or doing something more textured, it retains all the tightness, dexterous playing and traits of everything the band has ever done. Plenty of highlights be it ‘Dangerous Animal’ that has the intensity of PROPAGANDHI, ‘Bubble’ that not only evokes the band’s early sound but actually puts that era as its subject and ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ that could easily be on ‘Trash’ while highlight would be ‘The Suffering’ that starts mellow with a Bertrand Russell passage before taking in crunching riffs, musical melodrama and killer melodies. And I’ve not even mentioned a JOURNEY cover! Have to say, I’m not entirely convinced this echoes the band’s early work as much as the press blurb suggests, but it’s as reliable as you know LAGWAGON always is. (18.04.20)

LAST GANG, THE - Keep Them Counting {Fat Wreck} PODCAST PLAYED Following on from the single below comes this, the band’s ten track debut album for Fat. It kicks off with that rather awesome ‘Sing For Your Supper’ too - a track which is among the best here. Other highlights include ‘Blood Drunk’ that comes on like DISTILLERS meets SWINGIN’ UTTERS, the surprise sound of ‘Salvation For Wolves’ that brought in some bright and breezy DANCE HALL CRASHERS poptones, ‘Identity’ that’s got a MUFFS groove and the closing, acoustic ‘Secret Sounds’ that really highlights the quality of Brenna’s vocal. Album highlight however is ‘Affairs To Remember’ that pivots on haunting melody, great swinging chorus and yet more of those bold vocals. This is a very accomplished album in fact, lyrically interesting, musically exciting and never predictable (I forgot to mention the WIRE-esque riff of ‘Strange Fruit’). I didn’t hear too much of the Exene comparison I heard on the single below, but the influence of Brody along with Kim Shattuck certainly comes through in the vocal. One of the best new bands Fat has signed I reckon and certainly a record that could be Top Ten of 2018 material. (09.10.18)

LAST GANG, THE - Sing For Your Supper {Fat Wreck} Two track 7" that acts as a precursor for this three-piece, Orange Country band’s debut album for Fat Wreck. Apparently the band has two other albums out, but this is the first time I’ve come across them. The lead track’s a bit of a stunner actually; think the power of old label-mates TILT, some good arrangement to the song and a bellicose chorus and you’re there. The flip, ‘Turn The Record Over’ is a bit more generic - especially lyrically but reminded me in parts of X at their most rocking fused with a bit of RANCID (circa ‘Let’s Go’). It’s without a doubt that vocalist, Brenna Red, has a great voice fusing the dynamics of Exene Cervenka with the power of Brody Dalle. Being a three piece, the lack of a backing vocalist is noticeable, as Brenna appears to do the backing/ harmonies on her own. Works well in the studio - wonder how they cut it live though? Comes with a download card too. Interesting stuff from Fat’s latest and there’s certainly enough here to have my interest more than piqued for the new album. (06.07.18)

LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF - Here Lies The Ordinary {Lockjaw} Bloody hell - this is the band’s second album - 10 years on since their debut! The quartet is outta Birmingham, England and opener ‘The Regression Session’ is a bit of a cracker - like a more melodic STRUNG OUT. You then get another 11 heavy duty bangers that feature some complex riffs, frantic drumming, fist-throwing en masse backing vocals (think early AFI) and a vocalist whose pipes have both power and melody. Best bits include ‘Bullshit With A Smile’ that’s got the fluid complexity and melodic structure of LAGWAGON but bolstered with the muscle of GRADE and ‘Running With Coffee’ that has a ferocious guitar breakdown, while highlight has to be the fantastically named ‘Rationalisation Of Stupidity’ that twists, turns, slashes and burns. Enjoyed this way more than expected and lyrically it’s interesting stuff with subject matter focusing on the tribulations of adult life including shit jobs, broken relationships and the mental health damage it can all cause. (06.07.20)

LAWRENCE ARMS, THE - We Are The Champions Of The World {Fat Wreck} PODCAST PLAYED THE LAWRENCE ARMS are a bit of an anomaly for me. Y’see, I like everything I’ve heard by the Chicagoans and always really enjoy each and every track when I hear one randomly (on the old Ipod shuffle) but, for some reason, they were never a ‘go-to’ band. So, this whopping 29-track compilation of the band’s best bits made interesting and genuinely enjoyable listening. The tracks aren’t chronological, so they’re kinda out of context, and possibly have more effect for it. All the band’s albums are represented, and the real attraction for hardened fans is the five unreleased tracks at the end. Neat booklet too with commentary from Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan replacing lyrics. Obviously plenty of highlights with ‘Beautiful Things’ being an instant standout for me. Other goodies include ‘Great Lakes/ Great Escapes’, ‘Slowest Drink’, the decidedly JAWBREAKEResque ‘Seventeener’ and, of course, ‘Like A Record Player’. If JAWBREAKER hanging with BANNER PILOT playing some Lance Hahn songs appeals, this is for you. Ideal place for the curious and with those bonus tracks - all of which are well worth attention - it’s a must for the diehards too.  (22.09.18)

LEFTOVER CRACK - Leftover: The E-Sides And The F-Sides {Fat Wreck} Whopping 30 track compilation of all of LEFTOVER CRACK’s leftovers - as in compilation tracks, singles and splits along with a digital only track and the bonus tracks from ‘Fuck World Trade’. Of all of Stza’s projects, it’s LEFTOVER CRACK I have most time for, and while some of these tracks are a little less than convincing, the good stuff is stellar - see the tracks from the splits with CITIZEN FISH and F-MINUS, the ‘Rock The 40oz’ EP and those four bonus tracks from ‘FWT’. It’s a neat package too, housed in a three-panel CD sleeve with complete recording notes and a foldout lyric sheet complete with graphics. You probably already know if you need this, but for the uninitiated think Anarcho Punk played via a NYC squat, some serious dollops of Ska and scathing Metal with confrontational lyrics delivered through Stza’s shredded, acrid vocal style and you’re kinda there. I interviewed Stza for Scanner when it was in print and saw them at the Camden Underworld many years ago - so yeah - I like them and you probably should too. (21.02.20)
LENNY LASHLEY’S GANG OF ONE - All Are Welcome {Pirates Press} PODCAST PLAYED Second album from this infamous Bostonite’s new project. You get ten tracks that fuse classic CHANNEL 3 melodic Punk with a hint of AGAINST ME and a hearty dose of Americana. Highlights are plenty be it the acoustic barstool jams of ‘Weakness’, the compelling swing of ‘Double Miner’, ‘Tomorrow May Never Come’ that’s solid, rocking and melodic with a killer bridge and ‘Revolution’ that could almost be a song by fellow Bostonians, DROPKICK MURPHYS, but played with a bit more class while the highlight is the impassioned title track. This is very well-crafted stuff, flicking between acoustic Americana and rollicking, anthemic Punk and sounding completely natural in both fields. Lashley’s voice is rich and distinctive and he certainly knows how to write a chorus that captures not just the listener’s attention, but in several cases their heart too. Enjoyable stuff. (23.09.19)
LES BLACK AND THE AMAZING PINK HOLES- Billy Monster {Smog Veil} Four-track 7” pressed on suitably Big-P (pink) vinyl and limited to just 300. This is lo-fi, scuzzy Garage Punk recorded at the same time as the band’s ‘Breakfast With...’ album from 1985. Les’s vocal is sneering, manic and untamed (and he apparently has a penchant for playing the drums with his penis) while the band, featuring CLEVELAND STEAMER Cheese Borger on bass slam through Garage Punk riffs that have a similar vibe as ANGRY SAMOANS at their loosest best while jamming with early REDD KROSS. In fact, the SAMOANS is a good comparison as this has the same irreverence for sensibility. Best track for me was ‘Frustration Factor’ that closed side one. It’s all packaged in a smart fold out po ster. If something wild, raucous and disrespectful is your thing, this is for you. Better than another over-produced Pop-Punk stinker at least. (08.02.20)

LILLINGTONS, THE - Stella Sapiente {Fat Wreck} PODCAST PLAYED First album in 11 years for this four-piece and it kicks off with moody, dark bass-driven Punk atmospherics. Indeed, it’s a fairly dark album in general recalling the sounds of THE ESTRANGED and WIPERS if mixed with DEAD TO ME and a hint of DESCENDENTS, but it’s also a totally stunning album - and quite unique in the Fat roster. Highlights could actually be any of the 12 tracks, but the pick were ‘Night Visions’ and ‘Cult Of Dagon’ both of which recall SPECTRES style dramatics, ‘Zodiac’ that’s up-tempo emphasising the excellent guitar interplay and dynamics, ‘They Live’ that’s the fastest track but still laden with stellar songwriting skills while best track is a battle between ‘Pursuit Of Pleasure’ with its killer chorus and driven, energetic arrangement and closer ‘Drawing Down The Stars’ that’s simply stately in arrangement and features a guitar lead that’s simple yet addictive and effective. The whole album is pretty much a master class in how to write a strong album that’s distinctly Punk yet progressive, atmospheric and totally captivating. (07.07.18)

LION’S LAW - The Pain, The Blood, And The Sword {Pirates Press} This is actually co-released with about another nine labels and is the band’s fourth album. They’re outta Paris, France and among their members is the ex-drummer from BURNING HEADS. You get 14 tracks of solid, melodic Skinhead/ Oi! Type stuff loaded with big, singalong choruses and some formidable playing via a driving bass (think RANCID’s Matt Freeman) and some rather deft, incisive guitar leads, with a hint of MOTORHEAD about the vocals (check ‘The Reaper’). Of the highlights, there’s ‘Escape’ that probably has the most killer chorus on the album, the tight riffage of ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘Roses And Fire’ that has a touch of AGNOSTIC FRONT while best track could well be ‘Damaged Heart’. With the exception of four songs, all are sung in English and sound decidedly convincing. Production is really bright and crisp and if you want some short haired rock ‘n’ roll that’s an antidote to all those ploddy old Oi! bands, this could be it. (10.11.20)
LITTERBUG - Abstract Melodies Saying Terrible Things {JSNTGM} PODCAST PLAYED Album number four from Blackpool’s best and from the opener, ‘Push It Away’, which ignites with a bass line of ‘Neat Neat Neat’ proportions that morphs into a vague barbed SLF-esque track, it’s clear this is a contender for 2020’s best. In fact, that bass of Andy’s is pretty prominent throughout, seeming to carry more weight in these tracks than on previous releases. Besides that cracking opener, you get another 15 tracks which retain that HUSKER DU dynamic of previous albums but siphoned through the best of UK77 bands (more in feel and attitude rather than any retrovisionist plagiarism). Plenty of highlights, including the edgy, MAGAZINE-esque ‘Time Machine’, the BUZZCOCKS buzz of ‘Let The Night Unfold Part 2’ (which has a neat little lift from RAMONES too), ‘Midnight Dream’ that features some smart vocal harmonies amidst its INSTIGATORS vibe (and another fantastic bass run), the damage inducing ‘Sludge’ and ‘Cutthroat Capital’ that could be the album’s best. Probably the band’s best so far - everything here, be it Stu’s cutting, inventive guitar, Andy’s bass runs I’ve already mentioned or Toby’s driving, solid beats - all combine to make a very impressive and solid album that’s melodic, slightly sneering and laden with dynamics that actually fucking work. Not a duffer in sight. CD includes the EP below. Highly recommended and a real contender!! (10.10.20)
LITTERBUG - Countdown To Schadenfreude {JSNTGM} PODCAST PLAYED First I’ve heard of this Blackpool band since the ‘Speaking Through The Gaps’ album from ten years ago or more and I have to say, on this form, it’s a massive welcome back from me. This is a neat four-track 7”, pressed on red vinyl and limited to a mere 250. Lead track ‘Introvert’ is a stunner, like a HUSKER DU track from ‘Flip Your Wig’ but with a decidedly British feel. ‘See The Light’ pivots around a slightly discordant guitar riff and slams like early SLF playing DAG NASTY. Flip the wax and the ascending guitar riff and urgent drive of ‘Don’t Change’ instantly brought to mind INSTIGATORS while closer ‘Fast Forward’ features another guitar riff that’s a little discordant but hits home with aplomb. A real cracker of an EP, inventive, melodic and distinctly edgy stuff that’s quite different from how I remember that album. Remember, this is limited, so place your order now as this is a genuine contender for the best of the year so far. (25.07.19)
LONG RYDERS - Psychedelic Country Soul {Cherry Red} Often cited as the bridge between THE BYRDS and SEX PISTOLS (and if you’ve heard them blast through ‘Anarchy In The UK’ you’ll know why), this is the band’s first studio album in 30 years!! As a major fan of the band’s output (the album ‘State The Our Union’ remains a fave while ‘Looking For Lewis And Clarke’ would be in among my Top 20 tunes), I was more than interested to see whether this would have the fire of old or be a batch of their equally impressive Country jams. The majestic opener, ‘Greenville’, while having a serious stomp about it, suggested a nod toward the latter - and that’s probably expected given their more mature years. ‘Let It Fly’ confirms that trait with some mandolin and fiddle and songwriting so strong it could’ve been on the best of THE BAND’s albums. Other highlights include both ‘Bells Of August’ and ‘Make It Real’ which emphasise THE BAND vibe, ‘The Sound’ that’s upbeat, searching and valedictory and ‘Walls’ that sees a bit of the Psychedelia of the title come into play and includes some sumptuous female backing vocal harmonies while the highlight could well be ‘All Aboard’ that almost harkens back to their early, prime-time sound but backs off just in time to make a sedately, rolling Americana classic. This is a very accomplished comeback, one that doesn’t try to recapture the sound and energy of 30 years ago but instead carries that spirit to a new place of equally impressive and fulfilling songs. Joyous stuff - and a welcome return!! (05.08.19)
LOS PEPES - Positive Negative {Spaghetty Town} First time I’ve come across this London four-piece but apparently this is the band’s fourth album. It’s attention grabbing tuneage too, taking THE BRIEFS penchant for snappy, sneering Power Pop tinged Punk and fusing it with something distinctly more Garage - THE DRAGONS maybe (especially on opener ‘Still Belong To Me’). Elsewhere ‘Let Me Tell You Something’ introduces some acoustic guitars, strong vocal harmonies and a barroom swing, the brash ‘We Need It’ and ‘Anyway’ that evokes THE BOYS but churned up via some cutting guitars while highlight could be the surging ‘Your Justice’ that brought to mind the splendid Punk Rock of ROUGH KIDS. Enjoyable and at times careering stuff. Apparently the band’s previous material is a bit poppier, which I guess is hinted at by a few tracks here that come over like THE BOYS or THE FLYS. Not sure this does quite enough to lift it above the likes of CYANIDE PILLS, but it’s a enjoyable 11-track blast. (15.11.19)
LOST TAPES - Lost Tapes {Rockstar} There’s a lot of bands doing this kinda Post-Punk stuff at the moment and while Germany’s LOST TAPES certainly hold the attention, they don’t reach the standard set by of the likes of SPECTRES or ESTRANGED. The main fault is in the guitar sound - it’s like the fucking Edge outta U2... So much so I kept expecting to hear a cover of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. Positive points though are some good moments of drama and a vocalist that has a decent range and variation about his voice, being equally effective with dour introspection and a soaring sneer (check ‘Out Of Sync’). Highlights among the eight tracks are ‘Gross National Product’ that saw less of that U2-esque guitar, a disjointed but effective rhythm (almost FUGAZIish in parts) and great double tracked vocal, the JOY DIVISION-esque ‘Bomb Drop’ and ‘Touch The Void’ that’s driven along by a powerful bass line and sees the guitars going off a’la John McGeoch (SIOUXSIE, ‘Album’ era PiL). Lyrically interesting too, just wish the guitar sound that dominates a lot of the album could have been a little more... bruised. (20.01.18)
LOT, THE - Drunk, Depressed And Desperate {Violated} Well, this is interesting. Given the album title, I was expecting a totally chaotic, GERMS/ CRIMINALS stylee slice of nihilistic and nasty gutter Punk. Instead, I got 13 tracks of rather well executed PARASITES-esque snotty Punk fused with FACE TO FACE structures. The band’s a trio outta Philadelphia and this is, I think, the debut album. Highlights include the raucous ‘Family Values’, the SLF chops of ‘Down And Out’, a surprisingly effective take on THE CLASH’s ‘Guns Of Brixton’, closer ‘This Life Is Killing Me’ that could be a MIKE NESS solo track and ‘Buy Me A Whiskey’ which could be my theme song while highlight could well be ‘War With Me’ that brought to mind DEAD TO ME at their best.  Interesting stuff, good production  and enough variation to keep things interesting. Would like to hear a bit more of a sneer about the vocals but for a debut, it’s a promising start. (08.08.19)

LOUDMOUTH - Easy Tiger {Boss Tuneage} PODCAST PLAYED First time I’ve come across this band outta Sunderland, UK comprised of some scene veterans from bands like HDQ, RED ALERT and ANGELIC UPSTARTS. Of those, it’s most definitely HDQ where the sound of LOUDMOUTH has most similarities. Add on some LEATHERFACE, a bit of ‘77 vintage a’la THE CLASH and you’re there. You get 12 tracks that have enough class about them not to bludgeon but all of which remain resolutely Punk Rock. Highlights are plenty be it ‘Groundhog Day’ that has a SOCIAL DISTORTION vibe, ‘Thick And Thin’ that’s powered along on a neat Rockabilly beat and Swamp Rock guitar lead, both ‘Square One’ and ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ feature absolute killer choruses while ‘Never Say Never’ starts with effective dub-Reggae before throwing in a little bit of Ska and some anthemic Punk Rock. Disc highlight though is a battle between ‘The Last Farewell’ that’s BAD RELIGION-esque, and ‘To The Grave’ that’s gritty, thought provoking and a tad Strummer-esque. Closer is a STOKOE cover in memory of the late, great Dickie Hammond too. Solid stuff, well constructed and produced with aplomb. (28.03.18)

LURKERS, THE - Electrical Guitar {Damaged Goods} PODCAST PLAYED Perennial UK Punks (some may say Second Division - I know better) return with a rather blazing two-track 7” which, like the band’s best, has big guitars, sing-a-long choruses and a rather deft ability to write a rather smart little Punk ditty. This is the first stuff I’ve heard by them with a female co-vocalist (Dani Centric of THE FEATHERZ) and she’s shown to the max on the single’s flip, ‘That Was Julia’. Great voice too, a bit like Poly Styrene but with the Rock ‘n’ Roll cool of Ingi outta GEE-STRINGS. The lead track is typical LURKERS and an obvious choice for the lead track. The band still includes Pete Stride and on the evidence of this, has plenty of life left in them. This is limited to 750, so get in quick. New album per chance? (17.03.19)
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