Top Sounds - P

PAGANS - The Blue Album {Smog Veil} In his biography, PAGANS vocalist Mike Hudson referred to this as ‘short and sweet’. Clocking in at under 20 minutes for nine songs, he was pretty much spot on. This was recorded at one of the band’s reformation shows in Madison, Wisconsin back in 1988. It’s a raw recording, with the sound peaking and dropping out in other parts but it is unmistakably real. Hudson’s in between song banter is thankfully left intact and the band can be heard baiting GG ALLIN before the closing, disc stealing ‘Us And All Our Friends Are So Messed Up’. Other choice moments include a gravel-vocalled saunter through the STONES’ ‘Heart Of Stone’ and a noxious, speed-laced hyperactive take on THE WHO’s ‘Can’t Explain’. Elsewhere ‘She’s A Cadaver’ and ‘Her Name Was Jane’ see Hudson in verbose form before the tracks. The band generally nail it in a wasted, degenerate kinda way - the ONLY way anyone should really wanna hear the PAGANS live! Shame it’s not a bit longer but better to be left gagging for more than being over fed. (26.07.09)

PAINT IT BLACK - Surrender {Fat Wreck} Following the excellent ‘New Lexicon’ album, Dan Yemin and his gang are back with a 4-track 7" that has the fury of a tornado strong enough to wipe Florida off the map. Each track is a bilious blast of sulphurous HC with opener ‘Sacred’ being the most fluent and accessible. The title track careers along at an alarming pace before culminating with a distorto bass driven clang not dissimilar from SCRATCH ACID over which Yemin’s vocal is threateningly unhinged. Flip the disc are you get the 46-second blitz of ‘Cipher’ followed by ‘Worms’ that lurches outta the speakers producing an acrid Grunge noise that the likes of TAD and ROLLINS BAND would donate limbs for. PAINT IT BLACK is, without a doubt, one of the few bands taking HC into a new, adventurous territory without resorting to ham-fisted Metalisms like the phenomenally over-rated BLACKLISTED. Stomach-churningly powerful stuff that’s faithful to the traditional roots of HC while simultaneously not being shackled by its boundaries. (02.11.09)

PANSY DIVISION - That’s So Gay {Alternative Tentacles} It’s been six years since the last PANSY DIVISION album and it’s the first with ex MR. T EXPERIENCE bassist Joel Reader on guitar. As always this is high quality Pop-Punk with a myriad of other sounds thrown in. In fact, the two most apparent influences here were CHEAP TRICK and THE BYRDS (vocally, one guy is a deadringer for Roger McGuinn). Lyrically this is as clever and witty as ever with ‘Dirty Young Man’, ‘Pat Me On The Ass’ and ‘20 Years Of Cock’ being obvious slices of frisky gay frivolity. Elsewhere the title track displays a bitterness toward the cliched saying. What really stood out for me was the pathos behind the mid-album pirouette of ‘What’s In It For Me’ and ‘You’ll See Them Again’. Both tracks (and closer ‘Life Lovers’) could relate to any relationship, anywhere and lyrically stole the album. There’s also a duet with Jello Biafra (surely I do NOT need to introduce him!) on ‘Average Man’. I’m sure this will (as always) challenge a few of the bigoted homophobes in our Punk Rock world - and it’s a challenge that the band should be applauded for laying down. (26.07.09)

PARANOID VISIONS - Black Operations In The Red Mist {Overground} Bloody hell; Overground has a reputation of doing these kinda retrospective comps and filling the CD to its max 75 minute capacity. They failed here though in a big way!! Instead, the label has crammed a total of 39 tracks onto TWO excellent CDs!! PARANOID VISIONS was an Anarcho band from Dublin that formed back in 1981. This comp compiles material dated from 1984 through to the 2010 single, ‘Strobelight And Torture’. The band’s sound covered the whole Punk spectrum but a melting of ADVERTS, SUBHUMANS and ZOUNDS works well - both aurally and politically - and they never ran away from courting controversy as the U2-baiting classic ‘I Will Wallow’ proves. The band even touches on the American HC sound in ‘TV Ads’. Not only do you get some fierce Punk Rock, but there is an excellent booklet (with front cover design by Boz of Nosebleed zine and STEAM PIG fame) that contains 20-pages of press cuttings, track notes and history. This is a truly excellent overview of a rather over-looked band; anyone remotely interested in Anarcho Punk or UKHC should be getting this now. On a trivia note, vocalist Deko Dachau went onto front the equally impressive STRIKNIEN DC. (07.11.10)

PART-TIME CHRISTIANS - Rock And Roll Is Disco {Taang!} Timely reissue for this slab of noise terrorism originally released on Alternative Tentacles in 1984. PTC was a Californian band and besides a demo (included on this 21 tracker), the band’s only release was a 12" EP from which this takes its name. Soundwise, think BUTTHOLE SURFERS mixed with something heavier, best represented by ‘Salisbury House’ that blends Black Sabbath with THE DICKS to alarming standards while ‘Bonique’ rocks out on a genuinely fucked-up groove. Lyrically this is equally off-centre with ‘Strength Thru Bowling’ hitting like SUICIDAL TENDENCIES on acid and ‘Bowling Pin Massacre’ pre-dating BEASTIE BOYS’ white guy rap. Highlights would be opener, ‘Religion On A Stick’ and the scathing ‘Case’. The additional 2008 4-track EP sees a complete Metal take-over with chugging riffs, double bass drums and an annoying Rock vocal that could be Iron Maiden for all I know. Finally, there’s the 1983 demo containing a further nine tracks of craziness including four that never made it in any way onto the EP. The sound returns to that primal USHC on bad acid sound with ‘Cemetery’, a different take on ‘Case’ and a sub one-minute ‘Ultra Violence’ being standouts. Essential if FLIPPER and JESUS LIZARD records feature heavily on your radar. (07.11.10)

PETER PAN SPEEDROCK - Spread Eagle {Prophase} Guitar-slingin’, beer-swiggin’, chick-shaggin’, pill-poppin’ and rather cliched rockin’ and rollin’. It’s done well - powerfully produced, well played and punchy with some cool MOTORHEAD touches - but I would rather have heard more pace and snottiness than the sub-Van Halen guitar noodling of ‘Better Off Dead’ and the AC/DCisms of ‘Time To Get Down’ - let alone the lurching instrumental boogie of ‘Red Wings’. Oddly, I kept getting hints of Oi! in some of the choruses too - check out ‘Tonight Alright’. Have to say though, any album that opens with something called ‘Cock Teaser’ and includes a song called ‘Alfa Female’ is already on a negative due to its apparent say-nothing sexism. And guess what? This is, generally, dull say-nothing gear - unless you are the kinda rocker who gets his kicks on ‘Route 66’ while riding the Highway To Hell. (26.07.09)

PISTOL WHIP - Terminal {Smog Veil} I like this - a lot!! PISTOL WHIP was a band from Erie, PA and released its only official release in the form of a 7" on Endangered Species back in ‘77. It was a spiky New Wave cracker laced with CHEAP TRICK catchiness, especially on ‘Untouchables’. Besides that, this unvamps another ten tracks, recorded a year later for an expected album. The songs were salvaged from a mono-cassette recording and have been remastered to create something akin to the result of a one-night-stand between IGGY AND THE STOOGES and THE DOORS. ‘Iron Curtain’ could’ve been lifted from ‘Raw Power’ while ‘Jooky MaGoo’ rocks with the arrogance and souped-up sleaze of HOLLYWOOD BRATS. Had the album seen light of day during the era it was recorded, it would no doubt be a cult classic by now. Oddly, there’s a bit of narration here too; it works well but seems a bit redundant given the inclusion of the DVD. Did I say DVD? Yep, not only is this a CD, but there’s a bonus DVD featuring footage from 1978 through various reunions with archival press clippings. It’s pretty incredible stuff - especially the ‘78 gear where guitarist Rick DiBello comes on like Wilco Johnson after being fed a 24-hour STOOGES diet. Some of the commentary is pretty hilarious too with tales involving THE RUNAWAYS and general Rock ‘n’ Roll debauchery. You wanna know the embodiment of snotty Rock ‘n’ Roll in the late 70s East Coast USA? Look no further. (30.04.10)

PLAGUE - Thumper {Just4Fun} Never really been aware of this band from Cleveland before, but this 34-track compiles all the band recorded between 1982 and 1991. As with many bands of the 80s, there is a distinct Metal approach over the last release or so. The early EPs - ‘Just Say No’ (‘87), ‘Unresting Place’ (‘89) and ‘Distortion Head’ (‘88) - are all blazing examples of gnarled USHC with a vague Rock ‘n’ Roll bent; imagine SOCIAL DISTORTION playing AGNOSTIC FRONT’s ‘Victim In Pain’ at the pace of ‘Earth AD’ era MISFITS and you’re close. When the band really floors it - ‘City Life’ and ‘Hospital Song’ to name but two - the velocity is on par with OFFENDERS and DRI. 1990’s album ‘Chain Sawing Massacre’ saw a few additional guitar solos while the unreleased 1991 EP ‘Play Dead’ saw vocalist Mike Duncan leave and guitarist Bob Sablack take over as the Metallisms increased. Great retrospective of a little known band, but I doubt I’ll play it beyond the 20-track mark too often. (27.03.11)

POCKET GENIUS - Nordic {Boss Tuneage} It’s been 10 years since the ‘Tundra Rock’ album from these Minneapolites! I was in the UK and Scanner was still a printed zine. Can’t recall much about that album, but I note it’s still on the CD shelf so it was a keeper! The 11 tracks here are distinctly Minneapolis in sound - imagine an electric PAUL WESTERBERG solo album, mixed with ‘Hangtime’ era SOUL ASYLUM and a splash of ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ era NEIL YOUNG and you’re there. The songs are solid, grounded totally in the Rock ‘n’ Roll tradition but never sounding cliched or jaded. Standouts for me include ‘Lost And Found’ which is probably the album’s flat-out rocker, ‘Where To Go’ that sounded like early R.E.M. if GRANT HART had been in them, the soaring vocals of the title track and opener ‘Fortunes’ that epitomised the Neil Young vibes. Actually, there’s not a duffer on the album - the only negative is the odd lyric sheet that seemingly mixes up all the words. This would go down great at a BBQ with some cold beers and some mates who appreciate great, rocking music. Oh yes - good times! Another keeper. (11.05.11)

POINTCOUNTERPOINT - s/t {DIY} Self-indulgent yet panoramic Indie twaddle from this new trio outta Plymouth, UK. Right from the opening few bars, an Appleseed Cast influence is evident (which is not to say that’s good - I was always left feeling colder than frozen mashed potato after hearing any Appleseed Cast record!). I’m not debating the fact these fellas can play - some of the acoustic guitar work is excellent, but it’s also boring! One of the songs is called ‘Either The Lights Have Failed Or I’ve Lost Consciousness’ - trust me, it’s not the lights!! If Radiohead doing an ‘Emo Diaries’ track for Deep Elm before Yorke and his chums vanished up their own collective arsehole gets you excited, then check this out. (15.08.10)

POLITICAL ASYLUM - Winter {Boss Tuneage} Another reissue from Boss Tuneage that deserves way more attention than it’s probably going to receive. This 24-track comp takes the earliest recordings from this 80s era Scottish Anarcho band and presents them with biographical writings, full recording details and lyrics. It’s wonderfully lo-fi stuff recorded on a four-track, usually live complete with slightly out of tune performances. I guess that sounds shit to ‘Punks’ more acclimatised to auto-tuning and multi-track digital recordings, but this is way more satisfying and genuine than some of the over-produced slop the likes of Epitaph is putting out these days. Anyway, you get the classic ‘Winter’ single from 1985 plus the preceding two demos and the one after. Aurally, on the single especially, there is a distinct ZOUNDS feel while the haunting lead track evokes the mastery of THE MOB. ‘Trust In Me’ from the band’s first demo ‘Fresh Hate’ (that apparently sold 6000 copies!) rips a BLACK FLAG riff and was recorded while the band was still in high school. Really enjoyable stuff from an age that we’ll never see again - an age of vitality, anger and expression (Stephen Brown was a deft lead guitarist at 15 while vocalist Ramsey, a year older, penned some sussed lyrics). If you remember tape trading and actual demo TAPES, well, take a trip down memory lane... You know it makes sense!! (08.12.11)

POUR HABIT - Got Your Back {Fat Wreck} Were it not for two reasons, this lot could be smoking: the brothers Walsh have a desire to slip into cringe-worthy Metallisms way too often. Guitarist Erik lets the ‘guitar hero’ in him wail his axe to excess while drummer Colin has an obsession with double bass drum beats that invade every song. Both traits ruined more songs than they enhanced; a prime example is ‘Tomahawk’ that has great lyrics, killer riffs and lots of pace but is ravaged with solos and double bass drums simultaneously. Both guys would benefit hugely from being a bit more understated - or by joining Motley Crue. Soundwise, this rips a lot of hits from early OFFSPRING (especially vocally) but played with a hint of STRUNG OUT and an injection of PROPAGANDHI pace. Best tracks include ‘Head Of State’ and ‘Matter Of Opinion’ that are loaded with killer hooks while ‘East 69th’ careers by at warp speed. Lyrics are topical, there’s an nice change of pace with a reggae-tinged closer and, while interesting, this is not 100% convincing. (17.06.11)

PUKE, MIKE - 21 Years Of Total Fuckin’ Mike Puke Hell! {Puke Records} Fuckin’ hell Mike, don’t beat about the bush - go for a more direct title next time bro!! This is a gigantic 32-track compilation CD taking in all of MIKE PUKE’s previous endeavours dating back to 1988 with the original DEAD CENTRE through to BORIS, the second manifestation of DEAD CENTRE, THE PUKES and his own solo releases. Opener, ‘CV’, from DEAD CENTRE is a major highlight coming over like rawer and more aggressive THE MOB. The screechy Anarcho tinge of BORIS brings to mind HAGAR THE WOMB while Mike’s PUKES/ solo stuff comes on like UK SUBS trying to be ANTISECT. Highlight for me was DEAD CENTRE’s ‘Work Buy Consume Buy’ and the frantic ‘Past Generations’. I have to say, the tracks of a more political/ social outlook appealed way more than ‘Babies Are Horrible’ that appears here three times. To be churning out this kinda grass-roots Punk Rock for 21 years is something to applaud; it’s people like MIKE PUKE who keep the original ethics of Punk Rock alive in today’s domain of label-lusting lads, metal crossover jocks and fair-weathered, fashion-conscious ‘coolsters’. (10.01.10) 

PUKE, MIKE - An Horrific Fracas... Not Unlike An Irrational Chainsaw Savagely Mutilating The Drowsy Minds Of A Cringing Horde Of Apathetic Dross! {Puke Records} New Zealand’s irrepressible Punk warlock returns with what must be his fifth solo album. There’s a bit more texture here; while the PETER TEST-TUBE meets ANTISECT sound is still evident, there is a moodier approach that adds depth. Album highlight is the near seven minute ‘Feed Us Lies’ that pivots around a brooding, atmospheric riff that evokes THE MOB, while ‘Planet Earth Asylum’ mirrored ‘Time Was Right’ PARTISANS and the jocular ‘Beer Meat Rugby’ suggested a SNUFF-esque vibe. One big improvement is Mike’s arrangements as guitar riffs counter each other and even the odd deft solo creeps in. Lyrically, as ever, this mixes Anarcho-ish politics with crude sarcasm. Gotta say, the cover of ABBA’s ‘Money Money Money’ was too one-dimensional to be truly effective. As an addition to the sounds, there is CD-ROM gear including videos and a biography. Polished? Not very. Pandering to some crossover fad? Not at all. Punk As? You betcha!! (20.11.09)

PUNKS NOT DAD - In Me Shed {X-Fist} Two track download only single that Aston ‘kindly’ sent me a promo CD of. Both tracks appear on the album below and both still do zero for me. Dunno if National Shed Week is a joke (if fucking HAS to be - doesn’t it? Who would wanna sit in a shed under the gray skies of England??), but this is apparently the official Shed Week song of 2009. I can just about handle two PUNKS NOT DAD tracks - just a shame they are not a couple of good ones. (26.07.09)

PUNKS NOT DAD - We Are The Dads {X-Fist} I realise that this is supposed to be a joke, or at the very least fun, but I just don’t get it. The premise is four ‘old blokes’ take old classics and rework them to suit a dad’s perspective. Some of it works well: the opening SHAM 69 pastiche of ‘We Are The Dads’ sets the tone well while THE CLASH parody of ‘Sell Out’ is witty and easily steals the album. Elsewhere ‘Gaye Adverts Eyes’ is amusing, ‘The Filth And The Puree’ packs both energy and decent lyrical phrasing but what remains is laboured and kinda trite. ‘Man Flu’ and the poor (Her)SHAM rip of ‘Fathers Day’ just didn’t connect while ‘Burn Burn Burn’ failed to capitalise on a possible ‘Neat Neat Neat’ parody. This may have been way more impressive as a 5-track EP. As a 12-track album, this can be filed between SPLODGE and Monty Python. If I wanna listen to a parody that is actually funny AND good, I’ll dig out some HARD SKIN. (26.07.09)

PYGMYLUSH - Old Friends {Lovitt} I was sure I’d heard this before - long ago in fact. Then it hit me: I’d dropped a tab of Acid and watched a video of Neil Young unplugged from 1972. The influence of Neil Young is over-riding here, if mixed with a hint of Grant Lee Buffalo, Mumford And Sons and solo Chris Bell (he of Big Star). If those names mean nothing to you, then avoid this as it’s the exact polar opposite of Punk Rock (and you are obviously way too cool to listen to anything other than the EXPLOITED). Personally, I really quite enjoyed it. It’s an incredibly intimate and tranquil album drenched in reverb. There is something oddly nostalgic about this; I can virtually see the band writing this out at Young’s ranch in Topanga - especially the likes of ‘In A Well’, ‘Admit’ and the epic closer ‘Pals’. Incredibly, Kurt Ballou of CONVERGE produced this. Definitely an album to ‘come down’ to, or to slowly get your senses back after a night of debauchery. Mellow and melancholic yet decidedly captivating. (14.06.11)

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