Top Sounds - M

MAHWRIN SKEL - Excession {Corndog} Those familiar with the music scene in Ipswich, Suffolk will most likely know the name ANDREW CULTURE. He was the bassist in 90s Punks JUNK CULTURE and has since gone onto be in ZEEB and THESE ARE END TIMES among others. This is his latest project and is about as far away from the Punk of JUNK CULTURE as can be. Opener ‘Wires Hest’ is one long drone of electronica with a few random thunder claps and dub-heavy beats. Oddness continues in ‘Onderneming’ where the dub-heavy beat continues and is accompanied by what sounds like Space Invaders. Of the nine tracks, it is only ‘Corfe’ that has any kind of vocal. I’m not sure what genre this could be - and I’m sure Andrew doesn’t give a flying fuck about that - but some kinda Trance.. Chill-out electronica maybe? Way out of my range of listening and not something that did much for me. Kinda like a full album of SONIC YOUTH’s ‘Providence’ with added electronic bass beats and a bit of flugelhorn. Completely bewildering. Comes with a patch and stickers! (23.07.19)
MAKEWAR - Get It Together {Fat Wreck} After starting like JAWBREAKER’s ‘Save Your Generation’ on opener ‘Hopeless Dreamers’, this just meandered into territory that straddles BANNER PILOT and SMOKE OR FIRE with both an added Grunge and Hardcore influence but without actually impressing too much.  It’s pretty slick stuff in places, even on the faster, harder tracks like ‘No Excuses’ - it still only managed to sound like GOOD RIDDANCE-lite although ‘Inmunda Realidad’ is effective and incendiary Hardcore. Album highlight would be ‘No Más that had a stronger arrangement and just flexed more muscle than the rest of the album. With members from Venezuela and Columbia, there is a healthy Latino vibe here and lyrically it’s impressive stuff with rages against misguided politics, racial preconceptions, migration and those who always have their noses stuck in a fucking phone and miss the wonder of reality going on around them. I’ve played this four or five times, each play getting a bit better - but something still keeps it at a distance for me. (22.05.20)

MANIAC - Dead Dance Club {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Second album from this Los Angeles quartet that includes personnel who have strutted their stuff in the likes of CUTE LEPERS and CLOROX GIRLS. It’s good stuff too, fusing THE BOYS knack for a pulsating harmony-laced Punk gem with the slightly more angular abrasion of RED DONS. Plenty of highlights too, be it opener ‘City Lights’ and ‘Midnight Kino’ that display the RED DONS vibe, ‘Neutral Libido’ that includes a spoken word part and keyboard flurries evoking that Dirtnap sound of recent years, both ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Post Post World’ come on like THE BOYS having a ruck with THE VAPOURS while best track is a toss up between ‘Living In Stereo’ that’s loaded with high energy and the pounding beats and pogo drive of ‘Precision Accuracy’. Throw in the title track that starts with bass and a LOU REED-esque vocal before morphing into an adventurous and captivating closer. While both CUTE LEPERS and CLOROX GIRLS were pretty instant in their greatness, I had to work a little harder with this; it’s a bit darker, moodier and more involved, but three plays in the depth behind the songs starts to shine, and starts to soar. (14.06.18)

MARKED MEN - On The Other Side {Dirtnap} PODCAST PLAYED 16 track comp of all of this (should be) legendary band’s non-album tracks from 2003 through to 2010. You should know the band and its legacy as members have gone onto be in MIND SPIDERS, RADIOACTIVITY and HIGH TENSION WIRES among others. If not, they kinda define the ‘Dirtnap’ sound - snappy songs, hyper-active energy, choppy, snipping guitars, melodic but taut vocals and songs that straddle Garage Punk aggro with New Wave structures. It all creates one addictive, barrelling Punk sound that’s as essential to these ears as anything. Highlights are plenty be it the DICKIES-esque ‘On’, ‘The Other Side’ which slows the pace but not the energy, ‘Whip Myself’ that could’ve been an early BUZZCOCKS classic and the sneering double hit of ‘I Can’t Be Good’ and ‘That Kid’ while personal highlight has to be the effervescent abandon of ‘Lost It All’. And I’ve not even mentioned the killer opener, ‘She Won’t know’. Fact is, given these are all new to the LP format (with two tracks having never been released before) and recorded over a seven year period, they make a convincing body of work without a filler in sight. Recommended? You fucking betcha!! (28.05.19)
MEAN CAESAR - s/t {Little Rocket} Six track, single sided 12” (never really got that - sure the non-music side looks nice but six more songs would be nicer) from this five-piece outta South London. It’s interesting stuff too - think that gruff British sound of GREAT ST. LOUIS and STAY CLEAN JOLENE but with the melody of something like latter day MEGA CITY FOUR and a splash of CHRIS WOLLARD’S SHIP THIEVES and you get the idea of the kinda ear honey here. Of the six tracks, best bits include ‘Drowning’ that has a fantastic guitar part at the end of each line and opener ‘The Lane’ which looks at the awakening of our own mortality and sets a tone I instantly liked while highlight ‘June 12th’ opens with a chunky Dischordian riff and blossoms into a stormer that the whole band nails - and given the subject matter of the passing of vocalist Danny’s father, it’s heartfelt too. The lyric sheet includes notes about the background of each song (which I really like), you get a download code... There’s a lot to like here - which makes the empty second side even more disappointing. (11.10.20)
MEAN JEANS - Gigantic Sike {Fat Wreck} Album number five for this trio of RAMONES-addicted Punks outta Portland, Oregon. You get 11 tracks that whiz by in just over 20 minutes with highlights being ‘Basement Animal’ that pivots around a super-catchy vocal refrain, fun lyrics and a vibe straight outta MR T EXPERIENCE, ‘One More Before We Go’ which would’ve been a standout on a CJ RAMONE album and ‘Turning Green’ that’s a mid-paced roller that could’ve made ‘Pleasant Dreams’ even better. Sure, this is not gonna win any originality awards, but there is more to MEAN JEANS than a basic RAMONES rip/ parody. The guitar work is way more adventurous than Johnny would have considered for starters and, if you look beyond the basic song structures, you will find something original here. Lots of enjoyable stuff here and, at just over 20 minutes, just about the right duration too. Hey Ho... (02.04.20)

MEAN JEANS - Jingles Collection {Fat Wreck} What an oddity... 23 tracks in 20 minutes that are radio jingle type things done in MEAN JEANS’ very own style. So you get jingles for candy, alcohol, cigarettes... Some are fun, most are throwaway. There’s no track listing as such but a neat pastiche on the rear sleeve of a Crust Punk sleeveless and studded jacket that features some of the products - CapriSun, Camel, Kinkos, Coors Lite, Wendys, Taco Bell etc. Does it work? Not really. I can picture some of these as an OK set filler (opener about Coors Lite and the one about Totino’s in particular), but they don’t make me smile like SNUFF’s ads did - possibly because this is very American-centric so a lot of the ‘product’ goes over my head (as opposed to being tasty, tasty, very very tasty). The better ones are slightly longer, add a bit of a CHIXDIGGIT feel but honestly, I can’t imagine I’ll ever come back to this with the prospect of sitting down and listening intently. Would’ve been much better as a novelty 10 track 7" rather than a full-blown cheesy ‘album’. (06.09.18)

MEDICTATION - Warm Places {Little Rocket} It’s hard to believe that this was released four years ago already and, thanks to the wondrous Little Rocket Records, has only just crossed my horizon. What’s more, the story behind the record is almost as good as the record itself. I say almost because firstly, it’s quite a story and secondly it’s a fucking shit hot record! Y’see while touring Canada with LEATHERFACE, bassist Graeme Philliskirk hatched a plan with Hugo from support band YESTERDAY’S RING (and who also fronted THE SAINTE CATHERINES) to work together. This would have been early 2014. The legend that is the late, great Dickie Hammond, also wanted in. The resulting record represents Dickie Hammond’s last ever recordings. Tragedy is, Hammond never got to see its release. So, whaddya get? Ten songs that obviously have a LEATHERFACE feel thanks to Hammond’s guitar and the whiskey-ravaged vocal growl, but that’s coupled with a bit of JAWBREAKER moodiness and latter day LES THUGS. Best bits (and I could suggest each track) include ‘Gods And Glory’ that opens with drums, some understated guitar and then broils on a great refrain, the raucous ‘Saptor Raptor’, ‘Fishing’ that could be the most apparent LEATHERFACE sounding song here except for a jagged, staggering riff and ‘Paranoid’ that would’ve been an able fit on any NOVA MOB album while highlight could well be ‘The Last Rainfall’ that rides on a sedately swagger recalling early ARCHERS OF LOAF. Comes with download code, sitckers, great high quality lyric insert... Can’t recall what was in my Best Albums for 2016, but this would easily be a Top Five if not Top Three contender. I feel like a little bit more of my life has just been made complete with this album. Stunning. (23.10.20)
MEMBRANES - What Nature Gives... Nature Takes Away {Cherry Red} PODCAST PLAYED First album in three years for this John Robb fronted Blackpool, UK band and it is a formidable return being a 16 track double vinyl album. Kicking off with the dramatic almost orchestral ‘A Strange Perfume’ which is laden with pumping bass, a rolling rhythm and moments of damage-inducing guitar which then segues perfectly into the haunting title track, this is a captivating and rewarding listen from start to finish. If you have never heard MEMBRANES before, there is a definite comparison with THE STRANGLERS in that this is bass-heavy stuff, fused with a post-Punk experimentalism akin to PUBLIC IMAGE LTD, the muscle of SHELLAC and even a hint of Goth in its original form - and this time with a choir added to the mix that appears throughout the album. Other highlights include the brooding, reverb-drenched dubisms of ‘The City Is An Animal’, the edgy, pulsing ‘Mother Ocean/Father Time’ and the KILLING JOKE intensity of ‘Nocturnal’ while highlight could be ‘The Magical And Mysterious Properties Of Flowers’ that pivots around a droning riff, a whispered, frightening vocal and depth-charge drama. Fact is, this works best as a whole body of work one that is foreboding, dynamic, insistent and insidious. It could also be the surprise House Of Scanner hit of the year. (16.10.19)
MEXICAN WOLFBOYS - Skatization Of The Christian West {Rockstar} Well, this is a slightly odd one. Given the album title and, rather excellent cover artwork, I expected a full on Skate Punk opus - JFA, COMMON ENEMY or even PENNYWISE style. In fact, this is mid-paced Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll with an anthemtic Street Punk vibe like a less complicated HOT WATER MUSIC meets ANTI-FLAG and HUDSON FALCONS with a big dollop of LEATHERFACE for good measure. Best tracks are certainly those that have the LEATHERFACE/ HWM-esque bombast - ‘Transition Bound’, ‘Shockwaves’, ‘Have Y’ever’ and album highlight, the epic and brooding ‘Past Forward’. The title track clocks in at just over 30 seconds and befits its title. Elsewhere ‘No Gods, No Masters’ is nothing to do with AMEBIX but instead is a energetic rocker pleading for freedom while closer ‘Start Today’ is a spirited and effective reworking of the GORILLA BISCUITS classic. Solid stuff from this five piece outta Aachen, Germany that, unfortunately, is done NO favours by the album’s title or Skate-Punk associations. (12.01.18)

MIND SPIDERS - Furies {Dirtnap} Album number five from these Electro-Punx and it’s another eight track slice of pulsating, insistent techno tunes laid over Punk-driven beats. After the joyous ‘Prosthesis’, this is a much darker album musically with more emphasis put on discord, noise, space and electronica. Lots of highlights though, be it the 90-second blitz of ‘Deserve’ that’s full of mutant beats, electro noise and Punk riffage, the title track that’s as dark and spacious as JOY DIVISION while ‘Never Like That’ could be a DEVO backing track with closer ‘August’ being an epic nine-minute instrumental that builds on barrelling beats before closing on a trance-like psychedelic chill out. Best track would be either ‘Ice Bear’ that perfectly fuses the digital noise with discordant guitar jams or ‘Shock And Repeat’ that’s the most guitar-driven track on the album. Definitely an album that takes a bit more work from a listener’s perspective than the previous, but one that could be omnipotent blasting in a small, claustrophobic strobe-lit room with volume set to max. (20.08.18)

MISGIVINGS - Hermitage {Lockjaw} PODCAST PLAYED After a couple of EPs, this four-piece outta Portsmouth, England deliver their debut eight-track long-player. I like it too, think some kinda fusion of FLATLINERS melodic structures, the distinct Britishness of DOWN AND OUTS, J CHURCH quality songwriting and the power of STAY CLEAN JOLENE and you’re there. Plenty of highlights here too, with ‘Shameless’ having some moments of soaring vocal interplay which even brought to mind DILLINGER FOUR at times, the slightly more sedate and discordant ‘The New Lows’ that rolls with confidence and power, and ‘The Last Word’ that’s simultaneously melodic and muscular while highlight has to be ‘The Artless Life’ which is just 2 mins 22 secs of close-to-perfection sound. There’s not a duffer here in fact; the songs are well arranged without being cluttered with unnecessary solos or slow bits - each part of every song adds something that sounds just right. Really strong vocals, great production and more than capable musicianship. Easily the best release I’ve heard on Lockjaw so far. (14.03.19)
MISS JUNE - Bad Luck Party {Frenchkiss} Debut album for this quartet outta Auckland, New Zealand and it’s on a label outta New York City! Good result - and good stuff too. Kicks off with the band’s two singles, ‘Twitch’ and ‘Best Girl’ and you’re straight into some melding of Post-Punk dynamics and Alt. Rock bombast - think SONIC YOUTH having a fight with SWERVEDRIVER with a dose of BIKINI KILL thrown in. Vocalist Annabel Liddel certainly has a presence and engaging delivery, coming on a bit like a fusion of Debbie Harry cool and early Siouxsie attitude. Plenty of highlights be it the scathing discord of ‘Two Hits’, the fragility of ‘Double Negative’ and the destructive, distorto aggro of the No-Wave-esque closer ‘Polio’ while highlight could be the careering ‘Enemies’. The band certainly has the musical chops to support the vocal gymnastics of Liddel on this confident, artistic and corrosive debut album which should take them far beyond the confines of New Zealand. (18.05.20)

MIXTAPES SAINTS - Everything We Used To Be {Real Ghost} First time I’ve come across this UK band and from the virtual Gospel tinged vocal opening of ‘Heavy Water’ it held my attention. That opening track, clocking in at over five minutes, is also the longest track here, bringing to mind BANNER PILOT and IRON CHIC but with something a bit more Roots/ Americana vibe - CHAMBERLAIN maybe. The remainder of the album, which is a compilation of the band’s releases thus far, is a mix of acoustic-based tracks like the other album highlight of ‘Spare Change’ and ‘No Regrets’, and a few electric tracks like ‘Sleep‘ and closer ‘Reckless’ (that’s got a huge and memorable chorus), while ‘Heartbreak Radio Cars And Rain’ gets a take in both styles. It makes an interesting mix but I do wonder whether the acoustic stuff will isolate those who prefer the electric tracks and vice versa. If you want sneering, arrogant Punk Rock look elsewhere, but for those who can appreciate well produced, heart-felt acoustic tunes with a bit of electricity, look no further. It’s certainly better than the risible GASLIGHT ANTHEM - but still a bit too smooth and glossy for me to go back to.  (14.07.18)

MORE KICKS - More Kicks {Dirt Cult} Ohh - this is a rather smart slab of finely crafted Power-Pop!! MORE KICKS is a trio outta London, England and fronted by Sulli outta SUSPECT PARTS. You get 11 tracks (plus a short instrumental introduction) that fuse ELVIS COSTELLO structures, TEENAGE FANCLUB harmonies, BUZZCOCKS energy and PULP idiosyncrasy creating the oxymoron of sounding decidedly vintage yet totally refreshing and now. Plenty of highlights, be it the semi-psychedelic pop brilliance of ‘She’s A Reaction’, ‘It’s A Drag’ that takes those BUZZCOCKSisms to near perfect heights and the chiming ‘Kids Are Alright’-esque guitars of ‘Ain’t That Just The Way’ while the energy of ‘Young Enough’ could be the highlight. Really solid, melodic but powerful stuff that’s got a bit of an edge - possibly due to the fact that this was apparently recorded live in a couple of days. Not sure how Sulli can crank jams this great and still have an abundance for SUSPECT PARTS, but I ain’t complaining. (22.06.20)
MORLOCKS, THE - Bring On The Mesmeric Condition {Hound Gawd} PODCAST PLAYED First album in eight years from these potent Garage rockers originally from San Diago, now relocated to Germany. This is low down, sleazy and effective Garage Rock ‘n’ Roll, shooting from the hip and rolling like THE STONES had they been on ‘Nuggets’. This new line-up includes members of FUZZTONES too, which should be another indicator of the coolness here. Of the ten scorchers, you get multiple Garage grinding highlights including opener ‘Bothering Me’, ‘Heart Of Darkness’ that meanders along on an acoustic rhythm guitar, NICK CAVE/JIM CARROLL-esque dual vocal and CRAZY HORSE arrangement making it one of two standouts, the butt-shaking groove of ‘High Tide Killer’ and ‘Time To Move’ that’s got guitars laden with attitude and sublime leads making it the other standout. There’s certainly something that sets this apart from most Garage Rock ‘n’ Roll bands, something that is distinctly genuine, rendering the sound veracious and thrilling. Slight touch of Mike Hudson on some of the vocals too - bonus points! (05.02.19)
MOTOSIERRA - S/t {Spaghetty Town} Roaring outta Montevideo, Uruguay, this quartet have been cranking out the jams since 1999 and this is their fourth album. If you take all the swagger of TURBONEGRO and couple it with the no class tumultuous blast of MOTORHEAD with a hint of RAW POWER on the fastest tracks you’ll be pretty close. Opener ‘Buzo Nuevo’ certainly sets a high-octane, noxious Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll pace and stands as one of the album’s best. Other goodies include the frantic ‘Lobo Del Aire’, the slower, slightly tribal ‘Sepuzombie’, the swinging Rock ‘n’ Roll cool of ‘El Socio’ and ‘O Pelukao’ starts on a doomy BLACK SABBATH riff before exploding into a flat out burn that POISON IDEA would’ve been proud of. Unlike previous releases this 12 track is all sung in Spanish which also lends a naturalistic quality about the vocals. Older fans maybe be interested to know that the band’s original guitarist, Luis Machado, also reappears on a couple of tracks here. Solid, heavy duty slash and burn Rock ‘n’ Roll. (26.06.19)
MOULD, BOB - Sunshine Rock {Merge} Solo album #13 for MOULD and, incredibly, his best body of work since ‘Copper Blue’. That’s a big statement, especially given how good some of his solo albums have been since, but hell, this has all those ringing, droning guitars, big melodies, darkness, melodrama, rage and introspection that MOULD’s work has come to embody - and it’s all here plus an orchestra! Not a duffer here but highlights include ‘What Do You Want Me To Do?’ which would’ve been among the best tracks on any SUGAR album, ‘The Final Years’ that has all the sedate grace of ‘Workbook’ but played with an orchestral accompaniment, ‘Sun King’ has the tone of ‘Black Sheets Of Rain’ while ‘I Fought’ evokes ‘Beaster’. And then there is just the simple majesty of both ‘Lost Faith’ and, particularly, album closer ‘Western Sunset’. I played this three times straight off on first listen, just to make sure my initial impression wasn’t wrong - and each play the album got a bit better. Still does. Total return to form (did he ever lose it?) and when MOULD is in this kinda form, he’s pretty much untouchable. A total killer album. (11.01.20)
MOUNT WYCHEPROOF - Is Everybody Dead Yet? {DIY} This is the new project from former members of Brighton band WORTHY VICTIMS and, if you were expecting something similar to their Hardcore sound, you’re in for something distinctly different here. You get five tracks that are damaged - and damage inducing. Opening with the title track that starts like the DWARVES and then mutates into a disturbing BIRTHDAY PARTY breakdown before going full circle. Of the remaining four tracks, it’s ‘(In Defence Of) Bad Art’ that could be the highlight with its pulsating rhythm, fractured guitar and disquieting vocal. ‘Fugazi At Parties’ names a definite influence while ‘International Circles’ is a 7-minute slice of melodramatic electronic sound and guitar shards. Sound-a-likes? This is pretty much out there on its own but think BAUHAUS fused with FUGAZI with a bit of DEAD KENNEDYS with PLAY DEAD and a splish of SUICIDE - dark, post-Punk, semi-Industrial and inventive stuff which, back in the 80s, would probably have been lumped with the fledgling Goth scene. Personally, it’s among my favourite records of the year; the vocal is stunning - one minute soaring, the next searching, the next petrifying but always commanding. (30.08.19)
MOVING TARGETS - Wires {Boss Tuneage} PODCAST PLAYED A return of one of the best bands to ever come outta Massachusetts deliver their first new studio album in over 25 years. If you’ve kept up with TARGETS mainman Kenny Chambers’ solo work, you won’t be at all surprised to find out that this is a cracker, blasting out 14 new tracks in a little over half-an-hour. Plenty of highlights too, be it the slightly discordant ‘Shopping Cart’, the bass lead and sedate verses of ‘Moment Of Silence’, the big, warm chords of ‘Living With You’ that also features a wonderful soaring chorus and the super-catchy ‘Radio’ that includes some great acoustic guitar flourishes while best track could well be ‘Turn It On’ that pivots around one of the best Chambers riffs ever and another soaring chorus. It probably doesn’t reach the classic status of ‘Burning In Water’ but it is easily up there with any of the other three MOVING TARGETS albums. Chambers is in fine form, the rhythm section nail it (check ‘God Told Me’) and production is crisp, clear and gives everything plenty of space to work in. A totally satisfying return. (25.11.19)

MOVING TARGETS - The Other Side: Demos And Sessions Expanded {Boss Tuneage} The guys at Boss Tuneage are a quality bunch! After releasing this in the highly limited ‘Made To Order’ series (review HERE), they have now re-issued it but bigger and better than ever - and just in time for the band’s first European tour in 25 years! So, why is this better? Well, you get a choice of double vinyl or gatefold CD both of which contain all of the ‘Made To Order’ version plus a 1987 live radio broadcast of ‘Faith’ and the remaining seven songs from the WMBR session of 2007. Needless to say, it’s a pretty much essential release for all fans of melodic US Punk - think HUSKER DU, LEMONHEADS, REPLACEMENTS etc. Everything I said in the initial review still stands and it’s great to hear that full 2007 session. If you have the original ‘Made To Order’ version there is the question of whether there are enough sufficient bonuses here to buy it again. I think so - especially given the quality of the 2007 session where the guitar of Ken Chambers and quality of the songs deftly display why the band is so revered. (27.10.18)

MUCH THE SAME - Everything Is Fine {Lockjaw} Third album, and first in 13 years, for this band outta Chicago, USA. You get nine tracks of tight, incisive Fat Wreck-esque Punk that takes the melodies and musical chops of LAGWAGON and infuses them with the aggression of STRUNG OUT. Highlights would be ‘Man Of Science, Man Of Faith’ that features a great set of lyrics and fantastic guitar leads, opener ‘Burner’ and the heavy duty riffage of ‘Strangers In Fiction’ while ‘You Used To Have A Garden’ is propelled along on a pulsing bass line, vocal harmonies that BAD RELIGION would probably trade Brian Baker for and a soaring guitar melody. Guitarist, Dan O’Gorman, defeated cancer while writing/ recording this, and a lot of the songs reflect on mortality, giving the lyrical content a somber quality at times. I’ve not heard the band’s previous two albums, so I can’t suggest this is on par with their older stuff, but on this evidence, it’s strong enough to warrant attention, especially if you hanker after that 90s Fat Wreck sound. (30.01.20)
MYSTERY GIRL - Heart Breaker {Brain Slash} New band on a new label coming outta New York State and this is something I like a lot. Think slightly sleazy, Power Pop that fuses THE BOYS with a splash of NEW YORK DOLLS and a larger helping of REPLACEMENTS are you’re kinda there. Lead track ‘Heart Breaker’ is a cracker, propelled along on a really addictive lead guitar melody and laconic but attention grabbing vocals - kinda like ONLY ONES in fact. Flip the tan-marbled 7” and you get ‘Salted Slug’ that’s a tad more amped coming on ever more like NEW YORK DOLLS but cranked with the Rock ‘n’ Roll vibe of GEORGIA SATELLITES at their most rocking and the attitude of THE FACES. I like this band a lot based on this lovely little slab and the only negative is I wanna hear more and soon... I’m sitting here drooling with anticipation like a fucking lapdog!! Recommended if you like your Rock ‘n’ Roll energised, hook-laden, slightly snotty, loose without being sloppy and genuinely exciting. Yeah, you got it, I like this lots!!! (14.02.20)
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