Top Sounds - O

OFFICER DOWN - Dead Lands {TNS} Latest album from these Brits and it’s a step up from the previous ‘Thrown To The Water’ album. It’s still fine, grizzled and melodic Hardcore but in terms of quality has come on leaps and bounds. The title track kicks things off with a distinct PULLEY influence if played with the guts of PAINT IT BLACK. That vibe continues throughout the album, although the disc highlight, ‘Ghost Of Blackened Days’, brought to mind early AFI with a neat bass breakdown and strong backing vocals. Other highlights? ‘Stray Dogs’ keeps the vibe of the title track and pivots around a monster guitar riff while ‘Stay Your Hand’ has a killer chorus and powerful M8 breakdown. Closer ‘Haunt These Streets’ is another highlight using a less distorted guitar as its base. These three fellas have created something that sounds full and powerful without resorting to masses of layered studio trickery. Only negative? No lyric sheet. Fact is this is boisterous, powerful and well-honed melodic Hardcore and, while echoing other bands, it retains a sound of its own. Impressive stuff. (30.12.14)

OLD MAN MARKLEY - Stupid Today {Fat Wreck} Another tremendously electrifying, countrified hootenanny this time a mere two tracks spread over a 7". The lead track is a rollicking, free-wheeling cracker with some of the most stunning banjo and mandolin (I think) interplay you’re ever gonna hear outside of an Irish Folk Club after a few pints of Guinness. The flip, a cover of NOFX’s ‘Reeko’, is a bit more understated but includes some sultry backing vocals and the fiddle taking over as the highlight from the duelling banjo and mandolin. The cover artwork is quality gear too featuring a green-haired punk who has just purchased a ticket for a destroyed rollercoaster. The musical ability this lot possess suggests they know their traditional music but have a good grounding in what makes Punk. They also understand that resorting to Punk guitars and beats with ‘just’ an added fiddle, or bagpipes, pretty much sucks. It sounds false and contrived. This, however, sounds superb - and in OLD MAN MARKLEY’s case, it sounds superb again! (28.09.14)

OLD MAN MARKLEY - Down Side Up {Fat Wreck} The preceding single, ‘Blood On My Hands’, kicks off this second album in fine style - but it doesn’t really indicate the strength of material here. If you don’t know, OMM play acoustic music that is energised and proficient both musically and lyrically. Unlike other ‘Folk-Punk’ bands, these guys don’t rely on fucking awful bagpipes or cheesy distorted guitars; nor do they adopt some kinda faux Irish or Scottish ancestry to get their message across. Nope, the strength of this band is in wonderful songs that take inspiration from Bluegrass Americana and uplifting that with modern influences, stunning musicianship and originality. Truly the interplay of John Rosen’s banjo and Katie Weed’s fiddle is spellbinding. As for the songs.... You got the understated and lyrically engrossing story of ‘Rehearsal’, the razor sharp politics of ‘America’s Dreaming’, the Jazz-swing of ‘Come Around Here’ and the sedate but seductive closer ‘Too Soon For Goodnight’. Then there are those rollicking, turbo footstompers - stunning stuff that can lay claim to be Punk in the same way as THE POGUES did, but cannot be labelled copyist in anyway. So much more satisfying as OMM embody their own heritage rather than trying to replicate that of others. Joyous. (03.01.14)

Hit HERE for  material reviewed prior to 2012 including: