Top Sounds - P

STEVE IGNORANT WITH PARANOID VISIONS - When...? {Overground} Even to merely follow-up the album below, Ireland’s PARANOID VISIONS had to do something pretty damn special. So, instead of featuring a solitary track with former CRASS legend Steve Ignorant, they went and recorded a whole album. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bold and impressive collection of songs, with highlights being the upbeat ‘Join The Dots’, ‘No Contrition’ and both ‘United Left Annoyance’ and ‘Charity Begins At Home’ that include a vague DEAD KENNEDYS guitar lead. Highlight though has to be ‘Changing Times’ which is an impassioned piece about Punk Rock apathy. Oddly, two older PV tracks have been recorded - ‘Sex Kills’ and ‘Braindance’. Ignorant’s vocal, delivered in that classic sneering style, perfectly compliments Deko’s more gravel-laced vocals as they trade off verses in most cases before joining together on a chorus. Not too sure about the inclusion of ‘Log On - Bog Off’ though; it’s an acoustic track with dual vocals which don’t quite work together. That said, the more I’ve played the album the less out-of-place the track sounds. CD comes with a thick lyric book while the album apparently has a big wraparound sleeve. Not quite the sonically stunning work that the album below is, but a more-than-impressive follow-up. Punk Rock with brains and musical clout. Dunno what’s in the water over in Dublin, but PV surely are on a stunningly impressive run of work.  (16.02.14)

PARANOID VISIONS - Escape From The Austerity Complex {Oveground} Ireland’s longest running Punk band delivers its latest album and, if there has been but one album of 2012 that should define just what Punk Rock is, it’s this slice of 16 dizzingly superb tracks that span out over 69 minutes. So what’s so great? Well, every track represents all that is great about Punk Rock without getting weighed down in one generic style - you get the HC blast of ‘Problem’, the brooding ‘Poles Apart’, catchy Pop-Punk in ‘Politician’ and the grinding neo-Industrialism of ‘Nuclear Victims’. Then there are the lyrics which are intelligent, confrontational, observant, political and delivered with a clarity and sincerity that many fail to achieve in their enraged take on a fucked up world. What else? Check the packaging that laden with excellent graphics, guest appearances from Punk luminaries such as TV Smith, Zillah Minx, The Shend and one Steve Ignorant. Then you have the epic, 11-minute closer ‘Recession Dub’ that has musical echoes of PUBLIC IMAGE LTD’s ‘Metal Box’ but a lyric highlighting the bleakness of modern living. All this and I’ve only touched on the depth of quality here. As things stand, easily album of the year and if you remotely consider yourself ‘Punk’ and you have no intention of getting this, you better start considering yourself a ‘tourist’. (21.12.12) 

PASCOW/ SPERMBIRDS - Split {Rookie} Absolutely lovely, delectable double 7" from these two great bands that comes packaged in a sumptuous gate fold sleeve and pressed on two-colour vinyl. PASCOW kick off with one of the set's highlights, 'Spray Paint The Walls' (not a BLACK FLAG cover) that's akin to mid-period SAMIAM on steroids. Their other track, 'A Friseur' is more of a traditional European Hardcore stomper. All lyrics are in their native German adding a rather harsh edge to the vocals. The other slab of vinyl features long-time Scanner faves, SPERMBIRDS. Kicking off with the taut, initially claustrophobic 'What Jet Said', they steal the title of Disc Highlight. In fact, SPERM-gobblers, this is one of the band's best ever, building into a cracker of a tune. Flip yr 7" and you get 'Running In Front Of Cars' and while still a good tune, it's the weakest of the set here - which says more about PASCOW's quality than SPERMBIRDS' failings. It's a good song, but after a career laced with pearl globs of greatness, it's really just another slice of SPERMBIRDS sneering Punk Rock cool. You need this; indeed with the stunning packaging, download codes and blitzkrieg-inducing tunes, it could well be an instant classic. (23.08.14)

PHOENIX FOUNDATION, THE - Silence {Passing Bells/ Waterslide} Another solid release from these Fins but, once again, one that left me feeling half empty as opposed to half full. It’s still the band’s proficient and well executed mix of SAMIAM meets latter day HUSKER DU and, when it hits the spot it’s an impressive, insistent and accomplished sound - just listen to ‘Denial’, ‘Words’ or disc highlight ‘Settled’ for proof. Unfortunately, much of the remainder just leaves me tapping my foot as the songs trotted past in an unobtrusive and inoffensive way. I really quite enjoyed the band’s previous ‘We Need To Make Some Changes’ release and while the best moments of this release echo the qualities of that, there just ain’t enough of them. That said, this is still twice the release of most HUSKER wannabes! (27.11.2013)

PINK FITS - De Ja Blues {Off The Hip} Second full album from this hot rockin quartet outta Wollongong, Australia. It’s noticeably more polished than the recorded-live debut but that’s not to say this is some kinda smooth, slick slice of Garage Rock. This is still incinerating, noxious Garage Punk, taking it’s queues from ‘Sorry Ma..,’ era REPLACEMENTS and ‘Destroy...’ era NEW BOMB TURKS but this time fused with the muscle of prime-time STOOGES and some down-beat, STONES-esque dirty blues work outs. Highlights? Well, opener ‘Hey You’ and ‘Lex In B’ typify that ‘MATS style, primal understanding of amphetamine laced Rock ‘n’ Roll while ‘Moon Runner’ and ‘I’m On The Red’ are perfect, sneering Power Pop gems (with the latter being the perfect flip side to the ‘MATS very own ‘Red Red Wine’). It’s the closer though, ‘Like Holly Would’, that provides the surprise, coming out with acoustic guitars and lap steel yet some how retaining a sneer and a swagger. Unfortunately the band split up a few years ago, but thankfully Off The Hip still have all of the band’s releases available. Another great Aussie band that should be ranked up there with the likes of CELIBATE RIFLES and their ilk. (04.02.14)

PINK LINCOLNS - YINZ The Live Album {24 Hour Service Station} Rough, raw and uncompromising 19 track live album from these snotty Punks outta Tampa, Florida. Never heard the band before? Think early QUEERS mixed with FLIPPER and played via THE DWARVES at their most brief and belligerent and you’ll be close. Add in a bit of DESCENDENTS and you’re closer. This was recorded back in 2005 and highlights? I’m not too well versed with the band’s material but ‘Lower Yourself’, ‘Laughing Last’ (which sees one of many digs at support band Submachine for playing too long!) and the pogotastic ‘Tourist’. To emphasize the FLIPPER comparison, there’s actually a cover of ‘Sex Bomb’ too. Packaging is minimal and, I guess if you are an ardent PINK LINCOLNS collector you’ll be getting this. Otherwise, it’s little more than another live album by another snotty Punk band. (26.06.13)

PMT/ DESTRUCTORS, THE - Sous Les Paves La Plage {Rowdy Farrago} Another split CDEP from the DESTRUCTORS camp. You've gotta admire the band's tenacity - the releases just keep coming and it's great they're sharing release space with other - usually more interesting - bands. This one sees Norwich, UK band P.M.T back together. It seems years since the band shared a 7" with Ipswich Punks, RED FLAG 77 (actually, make that decades!) and these four tracks seem somewhat fuller than the older stuff with great shared vocals and mid-paced snotty tunes. It's good to hear some humour too as 'Hot Flush' proves while 'Drama Queen' lifts the pace to a frivolous UK Street Punk ripper. These ladies were always a lotta fun - good to hear nothing has changed there. DESTRUCTORS? Nothing's changed there either! Solid and well-played but still lacking inspiration. Cover this time is 'Hey Joe'. Despite a vaguely snotty vocal, I am sure the DESTRUCTORS sound used to be called Heavy Rock... (23.05.14)

POLITICAL ASYLUM - How The West Was Won {Boss Tuneage} And so the forth and final instalment of this epic series of POLITICAL ASYLUM reissues. This was originally released as a 10" back in 1992 on Allied Records. It was an interesting release too, emphasising the band’s two sides more than ever before. One side is all electric, pushing the HDQ/ GOVERNMENT ISSUE vibe ever more, especially opener ‘I’ve Got A Name’ and the almost metallic riffage of ‘I Won’t Buy It’. The other side was all acoustic and really shows the progress vocalist Ramsey made over the course of the band. ‘Winter Of Our Discontent’ gets a reworking evoking MOB-esque moments while a spirited take on HUSKER DU’s ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’ works incredibly well with a hint of a Scottish accent. As with the other reissues, this is filled out with 15 live tracks - this time recorded at 924 Gilman Street in 1989. The recordings are decent but probably note quite as effective as those on the previous discs. As always, there are great liner notes, lyrics and a smart layout care of Welly Artcore. An intriguing finale for an inspired and intriguing band flied the Anarcho flag with pride. (21.04.14)

POLITICAL ASYLUM - Window On The World {Boss Tuneage} Third reissue and originally this release was a split live/studio deal. The band had had another line-up change, with guitarist Stephen Brown leave and Steven Dewar filling his shoes. Still an able lead guitarist, but Dewar had less propensity to break out with solos making this album a bit more focused - so much so that the studio side could be considered the band’s best work. There’s a couple of tracks from ‘Someday’ re-recorded and sounding much more urgent and strident with vocalist Ramsey finding a new-found confidence. Notably, tracks like ‘Wish She Were Here’ brought in an increasingly melodic HC sound a’la HDQ. Likewise , the live material is much more punchy than the live stuff on ‘Someday’; it’s faster and seems to have a greater continuity. The disc is filled out with a comp track and the live ‘Solitary’ 7". The liner notes are extensive and if there’s but one PA reissue to recommend for PA virgins, it be this. Solid and rewarding gear! (15.02.14)

POLITICAL ASYLUM - Someday {Boss Tuneage} Originally recorded in 1987, ‘Someday’ was something of a transitional record for POLITICAL ASYLUM. Gone was the brusque, naïve charm of the ‘Winter’ EP and in its place we get a more textured sound under Ramsey’s still Anarcho flavoured lyrics. Stephen Brown’s guitar still has a habit of going off into a fluid guitar solo while the new rhythm section of Evan Hunt and Keith Burns open up an every wider sound. I find this has dated probably the worst of all of POLITICAL ASYLUM releases; the musicians seem to be going in opposing directions and, while the likes of ‘Symptom’, ‘Solitary’ and the title track are great snapshots of the band, it just doesn’t seem to gel. There’s also an acoustic ballad/ folk song. The final 13 songs are recorded live in Lubeck in 1987 from the band’s tour with THE PISSED BOYS. It’s a decent recording and includes most of the album, including a great ‘Apathy’. Not essential but an intrinsic part of POLITICAL ASYLUM history. (23.12.13) 

PREVENGE/ DIG IT UP - Split {Pavones} First off, this 7" is a real item of beauty that the ‘free download’ fly-by-night crowd will never get to appreciate. There’s a heavy duty cardboard sleeve, gorgeous white vinyl and an eight-page insert with lyrics and pics all on shiney paper. Now, do the sounds live up to such austere aesthetics? Hell yes!! Both bands hail from Montreal, Quebec and PREVENGE kick off with a couple of up-tempo crackers that take SMOKE OR FIRE dynamics and spit them out with the fire of HOSTAGE LIFE but twist it all into a No Idea Recs kinda sound. A really strong band - roll on an album! DIG IT UP do a more scathing deal taking an AT THE DRIVE IN edginess blasted out via a guttural quasi-BORN AGAINST rage. PREVENGE come out the better for me but both bands mightily deserve your attention. This is limited to 500 too - well, 499 actually cuz I got one and there’s no way I’m selling - so look elsewhere. Time to play this again! (14.01.12)

PRIMA DONNA - Bless This Mess {Acetate} I had to do a double-take at the cover of this as it’s similar to the NEW YORK DOLLS’ ‘Cause I Sez So’. Unlike the DOLLS - where sleazy, glammed-up, schizoid Rock ‘n’ Roll seems natural - this feels as natural as an America’s Got Talent finalist. Nicely styled hair, designer gear (among the list of sponsors are a couple of clothing companies.. jeez..) and a cover sticker proudly stating the band has "played with GREEN DAY." It’s not a surprise either, the sound is similar to latter GREEN DAY (as in polished, snappy and tame mainstream Rock), ‘Grave Dancers’ era SOUL ASYLUM and something of 70s Glam - especially on album highlight ‘Feral Children’ that comes on like Bowie fronting The Sweet on Foo Fighters gear. Unfortunately the sheen of the rest left me cold. Definitely something aimed at a mainstream market and for those GREEN DAY who think ‘Kerplunk’ is among the band’s worst albums. (10.07.12) 

PROPAGANDHI - How To Clean Everything {Fat Wreck} Released back in 1993, this is the 20th anniversary reissue of what was, at the time, not just the most politicised album Fat had released, but one of the most directly political Punk records of the year. We all know that intelligent, political trait has continued ever since, but this debut had a lighter, punkier and snottier sound than the albums of late, fusing a sneering NOFX delivery with LAGWAGON-esque guitar runs. It’s a cracker of an album with stunners like ‘Head? Chest? Or Foot’, ‘Middle Finger Response’ and opener ‘Anti-Manifesto’ all being among the band’s very best work. Then there is the dubbish, mystical and spot-on attack on religion that is ‘Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass’. This reissue has been totally remastered and complimented with the addition of seven extra tracks including a four-track demo from the previous year that’s raw and abrasive. Neat fold out poster, digipack sleeve... and I’ve not even mentioned a rocking CHEAP TRICK cover that dissolves into obscenities! If the original version of this didn’t register on you, then this should be a mandatory purchase. (16.05.14)

PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED - Live At Rockpalast 1983 {MIG} Recorded just after the ‘Flowers Of Romance’ album, this is a surprisingly satisfying live album from a time before PiL had had the ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ hit - although the song is included here. You get 13 tracks (although ‘Public Image’ opens and closes the show), most of which are very effective. ‘Public Image’ is disappointing as that classic guitar riff is replaced here with a keyboard and guitar (but then, Keith Levene had left the band by this stage). However, ‘Annalisa’ is awesome, strutting with power and propelled by Martin Atkins’ awesome drumming (he is stunning throughout), as is ‘Chant’ and a haunting ‘Flowers Of Romance’. This is the same line-up that recorded the ‘Live In Japan’ album and, while similar, this has a greater atmosphere and certainly feels more catastrophic and pulsating. For those in the UK who remember The Tube, you’ll remember the horrible keyboard-driven take of ‘Anarchy In The UK’ - it also makes an appearance here but aided by Atkins’ massive drum assault. A fun curio, but it your collection lacks the first two PiL albums, get those first. I think there's a version that includes a DVD of the gig - unfortunately this one doesn’t.  (19.06.14)

PUKE, MIKE - Sick In The Head Vol 1 + 2 {BHJ Records} The Charlie Harper of New Zealand Punk Rock is back - and this time with a twin release covering 26 songs and two-and-a-half hours of sounds. As with the previous album, ‘An Horrific Fracas...’ this sees Mike progressing into new sounds and stronger compositions than some of his previous UK SUBS meets SUBHUMANS Punk thrashings. What is most notable about these recordings is the guitar playing - this has really improved and some of the lead work is exceptional - check out the solo in ‘Keyboard Warrior’. Of the two volumes, it’s Vol 1 that is the stronger featuring what could be the best Puke song yet in ‘Eradication’ that’s over 5-mins long, includes some good tempo changes and an interesting Anarcho-based lyric. Other goodies include ‘Men In Suits’ that has an atmospheric and moody intro and the cynical, raging ‘Just Like Jesus’. Vol 2 pivots around two epic, 10-minute plus songs with ‘Police Raid/ New Cops’ opening with drums and speech samples (taking its lead from RIOT 111 maybe) before opening into a Punk cracker while the other, ‘Machine’ had me thinking of the moody brilliance of PLAY DEAD. I could’ve done without the rather crass ‘I Wanna Fuck The Queen’ but if ya get a Mike Puke album, you gotta expect a little bad taste humour! (05.01.14)

PUSRAD - Dömd {Gaphals} Ohhh - a lovely red vinyl 12" album from this Swedish duo that seemingly has the shortest attention span in Punk Rock today. You’ve got 19 tracks here with two breaking the 30 second barrier and the shortest a mere nine seconds. Am I complaining? Not a jot!! This is a furious blend of FU’s and KURO style Hardcore with NOMEANSNO intelligence. Who really needs long songs when both ‘Puckosapa’ and ‘Svarta Rubriker’ are all you need in a Punk Rock rager and can be blasted out in less than 20 seconds?? Then there’s the relatively epic ‘Errare Humanum Est’ that comes on like a Post-Punk WIPERS and is over in a mere 35 seconds. Cracking, bristling production, great packaging and another impressive litany of raucous beats, incendiary riffs and blitzkrieg vocals. Long may it reign!! BUT, if any Gaslight Anthem fans are reading - BEWARE!!!!! (08.09.13) 

PUSRAD - Smart Trams {Just4fun} A destructively fast and damaged debut 7" from this new Swedish band that includes two founding members of RAPED TEENAGERS. You get seven tracks with the title track clocking in at a mere 13 seconds while the most epic song here, ‘Stupet’, hurtles past in 35 seconds. Although the timings suggest an early DRI warp-speed blitz, the reality is that, somehow, PUSRAD make these songs as accessible as STALAG 13’s incendiary Nardcore blur but with the musical complexity of NOMEANSNO or TH’ INBRED. Lyrics are all in the band’s native language, production is crisp and sharp accentuating the razorblade guitars rather than muting them. Truly raging HC that packs-a-punch - but a punch that comes outta the leftfield and is delivered with thought and precision. Ka-bosh!!! (23.07.12)

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Top Sounds - Q