Top Sounds - M

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2018 including: