Top Sounds - S

SCANERS, THE - X-Ray Glasses: On {Spaghetty Town} PODCAST PLAYED With a band name like that (and yes, there is only one N), how could I not love ‘em? The band’s a four piece outta Lyon, France and, apparently, they have several Eps and albums out!! Anyway - this is a three-track 7” of fuzzed up, sci-fi-laced sneering Punk - think BRIEFS, SCREAMERS, STEVE ADAMYK and a bit of DEVO on the more melodic bits. Lead track, ‘Alien Boy’ is a killer, detonating and evacuating within a minute. The title track sees that DEVO vibe come in a bit but fused more with SCREAMERS darkness. And it goes over two-and-a-half minutes - a relative epic. Final track, ‘I Really Wanna Know’ heads back to sneering, Punk Rock and pivots around a RAMONES-on-speed riff. Totally fucking killer stuff, limited to 500 copies and y’know what? I wanna be abducted by these Punk Rock aliens, experience their inter-galactic world of zippy guitars, distorted synths and carefree (and careless) vocals. I bet it’s among the best places in the universe. Yep, mofo, this is that good. (28.09.20)
SCHOOL DRUGS - Relative Suffering {Hell Minded} Incendiary six-track EP from this 5-piece outta New Jersey that instantly had me thinking of the reverb-drenched Hardcore of CULT VALUES fused with a hint of JESUS LIZARD and the outta control blitz of UX VILEHEADS. Of the six tracks, the one-minute and twenty-seconds of opener ‘Not Alone’ sets the tone instantly with the succeeding five tracks never letting the listener go until the maniacal vocal and damaged guitar jams of closer ‘Relentless’ implode. Best track could well be the slow-burn of ‘Black Tongue’ that bludgeons on some stellar modal riffage although that bass-heavy closer could be a contender. Production is loud, everything cuts through to almost frightening effect and if some of the stuff on Deranged Records or Sorry State twist your crank, you could do a lot worse than check this out.  (30.11.19)
SCREAMING AT TRAFFIC - I Don’t Like Sports {Little Rocket} PODCAST PLAYED Well, this is proof not to judge a book, or record, by its cover. Looking at this, I thought it would be some kinda IRON CHIC homage... Then I saw the band’s photo on the insert and thought it to be some crossover Skate Punk thing. Have to say, my hopes weren’t high. In fact, this quartet outta Winnipeg, Canada have delivered an album of JAWBREAKER-esque, HOT WATER MUSIC-tinged, IGNITIONish Emo Punk that, from opener ‘They Call Me “Thrillhouse”’ sets out its stall for clever songs, dramatic sound scapes and enough musical punch to make CRO-MAGS look like Bucks Fizz (although, put a wig on Harley and he’d be a deadringer for Cheryl!!). There’s not really a duffer on here, but standouts would the raging closer that is ‘People Pay Good Money For Secrets’, ‘Pantomime’ that kicks off with a flanged bass and mutates into something GAMEFACE would’ve done while on Revelation and the staccato riffage of ‘Hey, Koyuki’ while best track is the freewheeling soaring ‘Bitter’ which SAMIAM would probably sell their soul for. I’ve mentioned some pretty big names in this review and SCREAMING AT TRAFFIC has the chops to fit in there with them. Brown vinyl, download code and surging sounds. What’s not to like? (27.12.20)
SHADRACKS, THE - Tranquil Salvation {Damaged Goods} Hot on the heels of the rather spiffy album below comes this equally spiffy three-track limited 7” EP. Lead track is an up-tempo rocker powered by a relentless riff, a sneering, dismissive vocal and a general vibe of ‘77 snottyness. Flip the wax and you get a downbeat descending guitar riff that starts ‘Count To Ten’ and while being a tad more restrained than the lead track it retains that sneering vibe and features some stellar backing vocals that alternate between harmony and cutting Poly Styrene-esque belligerence. Final track is a cover of the DEAD MOONS track ‘Walking On My Grave’ and sees one of the band’s ladies taking on lead vocals with slightly decadent style. Great stuff that continues where the album left off and provides enough titillation to have me looking forward to the next album. (16.06.19)

SHADRACKS, THE - The Shadracks {Damaged Goods} PODCAST PLAYED Striding out of a Kent, UK garage come three-piece SHADRACKS with this 12-track album. Think minimalist ‘77-esque Punk fused with Garage Rock a’la FUZZTONES and you’re there. I heard a definite early ALTERNATIVE TV vibe throughout, but most notably on opener ‘When I Can’t Remember’. Elsewhere the bass line from ‘Psycho Killer’ is lifted and morphed into something of its own on ‘She Sailed The Sea’, ‘Plastic Lives’ brought in a SHITTY LIMITS vibe, ‘The Wrong Things’ that’s got a bit of pace about it and the KINKS riffage of ‘Corinna’ while ‘Unable To Recall’ could be the best track evoking a slightly slowed down KILLJOYS. Just to emphasise the ‘77 aesthetic, there’s a rather nifty cover of ‘Boredom’. Fun stuff that held the attention throughout and I bet they cut it up fantastically live. Definitely the perfect anecdote to to the over-produced ‘Punk’ bilge we hear too often. All hail Rock ‘n’ Roll!! (22.10.18)

SICK BAGS - Only The Young Die Good {Spaghetty Town} Hailing from Richmond, Virigina, this is a six-track 12” of smokin’, down ‘n’ dirty Garage Punk Rock. Part DEAD BOYS, part DRAGONS, part AEROBITCH and topped with a tough-but-sultry female vocal (think Theo Lunachick) from Mel Medina. Title track kicks things off in splendid style, ending on a bluesy harmonica before the guttural riff of ‘Loser Love’ kicks in. Of the remaining four tracks, the low-slung riffs and sneering vocal of ‘Living With Nothing’ takes the honours while closer ‘Halfway To Hell’ has some impossibly addictive vocals and surging guitars. If there is a criticism, I could possibly do with the guitar solos being a tad more restrained, but with riffs that shoot from the hip like these fuckers do, it’s pretty hard to not be impressed. This is limited to 300 copies and, bar a previous single on Colonel Records, is the band’s debut. If the jams keep getting cranked like this, then bring on the follow-up! (20.08.20)
SIGNAL CRIMES - Perfidious Albion {Network Of Friends} What a tragedy... This is a one-off project featuring members who have been in bands such as HERESY, RIPCORD, VIOLENT ARREST and FOUR LETTER WORD. It’s a mere eight tracks spread over 12”s of heavy, multi-coloured splatter vinyl and, like you shouldn’t need to be told with that CV, it fucking rages! Opener ‘The Invisible War’ could actually be the highlight as it analyses the disparity between wealth and poverty, property and welfare. Elsewhere both ‘To Spite My Face’ and ‘Apex Predator’ fly the band’s HC flag (with the latter dropping in a sedate, slightly discordant passage akin to TH’ INBRED), ‘Former Self’ pivots around a great riff and could’ve been on a FOUR LETTER WORD album (that’s a compliment, Welly!), ‘Rise Of The Right’ is a veritable Punk stomper with great lyrics and some wild bass parts from Kalv while closer ‘A Fascination With Monsters’ includes some distinct DAG NASTY-esque guitar work and could be the other highlight. As always with anything Welly is involved with, this looks fantastic, includes relevant quotes, a download card and a badge. First contender for the 2019’s best release. (31.05.19)
SINGING LUNGS - Mutter {Count Your Lucky Stars} PODCAST PLAYED Five track follow-up digital and cassette (why?) EP to the album below and it opens with ‘I Don’t Remember Much’ that would be a great sing-along set opener. That SMOKING POPES vibe is still evident but this is a much spikier, sharper set of tunes with ‘The Kids I Used To Know’ echoing SCREECHING WEASEL and disc highlight ‘Leave The Lights On’ being a deadringer for SAMIAM at their very best, while closer ‘Time Well Spent’ opens with a distorted bass and is probably the most pacey and gnarly thing I’ve heard from these Michiganites yet. Gotta say, each time I hear this band I’m liking them more and more and this power-packed slab takes the quality from the album below, amp it up and lay down five bangers that could, quite easily, end up being the surprise release of the year. Great band name too! (20.09.20)
SINGING LUNGS - Groan {DIY} Debut 10-track album from this new trio out of Flint, Michigan and from the mega-catchy opener, ‘Home’, it’s clear SMOKING POPES is a major influence. Throw in a bit of BUFFALO TOM, a slight DINOSAUR JR fuzztone and LEMONHEADS structures and you’re pretty much there. Plenty of highlights be it the relatively epic ‘Disappearing Act’ that has some of those DINOSAUR licks and ‘Where I Belong’ that’s catchy, understated and vaguely Americana (via THE ‘MATS) sounding in parts while ‘Conscience Rocks’ could be the highlight with its ‘Shame About Ray’-esque acoustics and melodies. Vocalist Jason has a really interesting and unique voice; powerful, clear and highly melodic (check ‘Where Have You Been’ - awesome vocal that could almost be out of musical theatre even!) which suits the music just right. With the quality of playing and the song structures, this was a rather smart listen and if you’re a fan of 90s melodic Punk/ Alt Rock, this will be right up your street. (20.09.19)

SKEPTIC?- Hornet’s Nest {DIY} PODCAST PLAYED Birmingham, Alabama may not be the most obvious place to search for blistering Hardcore, but with this, SKEPTIC?’s third long-player, then it’s a town that may well possess the best Hardcore band in America. The ‘Now Look What You’ve Done’ album from 2012 was a cracker but this fuses the enraged brevity of OFF! with the free-falling, no holds barred quality of CAREER SUICIDE and throws in the muscular (but not macho) stomp of underrated D.C greats, THE SUSPECTS to make something really special. Not a duff track among the 12, but highlights would include ‘Lit Up’ that surges like POISON IDEA, ‘I Don’t Believe’ that has a great lead guitar (in fact that lead guitarist is smoking) coupled with some understated rhythm strumming, ‘And A Little More’ that starts with a swaggering bass recalling prime-time FREEZE or ‘Contradictions’ that has DISCHARGE-ian guitars enough to make me check it wasn’t Bones guesting. Outright highlight though is a battle between ‘It’s All Coincidence’ and ‘Every Now And Then’ that includes a breakdown to die for. Vocally, think a raging Jello Biafra and delivered with clarity. I’ve not even mentioned a WOODY GUTHRIE cover, which just proves that these fellas know protest songs ain’t all about shouting ‘fuck the world’. In fact, there’s not a single expletive among the lyrics and that makes them hit home with even more aplomb. Killer stuff that’s been playing non-stop on the House Of Scanner turntable since it arrived. This is limited too 300, comes on red vinyl and includes a download code, badges, stickers, lyric sheet and poster. No ridiculous Metal breakdowns of constipated Crust bellowing, just superb, concise Hardcore - and one that totally restores my faith in Hardcore, Punk Rock, intelligence and quality songwriting. (18.06.18)

SLED - A Better You {Bird Attack} Coming outta Florida, SLED deliver their debut album and, for those who don’t know, they were formerly called PINHOLE DOWN and among their line-up is Bird Attack Recs main man, Garrett Wadford. There is also some kinda link to former GUTTERMOUTH members. Have to say it failed to completely connect. Sure it’s pacey, snappy Punk - not a million miles from 88 FINGERS LOUIE or GOOD RIDDANCE (in fact, vocally there’s a lot of similarities with Russ Rankin here) in its execution and when it’s good - like album highlight ‘Wasting Away’, it’s a convincing listen. However, every now and then I found myself drifting off due to odd moments of out of place Rock (like the widdly solo in ‘Mono Lake’). Other highlights include ‘Connect The Network’ which had a vague NONE MORE BLACK vibe and some simply fucking shredding guitar riffage and the bold, defiant ‘Wrong’. Kinda feel this would’ve had more effect on me had I heard a four-song blitz first. I have found on successive listens I’ve been enjoying it a bit more each time... Could be a grower? (23.02.18)

ŚMIERĆ - Godzina Pusta {Nikt Nic Nie Wie} New band outta Stockholm featuring members of such bands as IMPERIAL LEATHER, ABDUCTEE S.D., CLUTCHES, IDIOT ICON and STOCKHOLM PIGS cranking out nine tracks of solid D-Beat-esque Punk that takes its inspiration from Polish poetry and vintage Polish Punk. It’s an impressive sound too, fusing a TRAGEDY-esque epic sound (check ‘Wojna’) with the dynamics of CASTRO and ARCTIC FLOWERS. Plenty of highlights, but the atmospherics of both ‘Atleta’ and ‘Noc’ standout - the latter especially being, along with ‘Wojna’, the highlight of the whole album and erupts into a full-on Hardcore rage for its second half. Elsewhere the bass-lead aggro of ‘Fabryka’ kicks on a riff that could be on a BORN/DEAD classic and closer ‘Zuzanny’ (which again has elements of TRAGEDY) impress. In fact, the whole disc kicks like a mule but has enough texture to fit alongside the likes of ESTRANGED. Lyrics are all in Polish with English explanations including influences (DEZERTER of course along with POST REGIMENT among others), neat CD packaging (12” also available) and if any of the mentioned bands crank your wheel, you should check this out. (27.05.19)
SNFU - ...And Yet, Another Pair Of Lost Suspenders {Artoffact} Pretty poorly packaged 21 track live album from these Canuck legends. The packaging gives you a front cover, a set of tracks... and that’s it. No idea of when or where it was recorded, what line-up or even a random solitary pic of Mr Chi Pig and friends. As the disc plays, we do learn that it was recorded in Montreal, Canada. Anyway, we all should know SNFU is a pretty convincing live band and when you get 21 tracks (including a French-goading introduction), you know there’s gonna be something there you like. Highlights included a raging ‘Broken Toy’, ‘Welcome To My Humble Life Of Disarray’, ‘I Forget’ and the stunning set closer ‘Victims Of The Womanizer’. Elsewhere there’s an odd Funk-Metal take on ‘She’s Not On The Menu’. All the inter-song dialogue is intact and yes, Mr Chi Pig is on fine form. Looks a pretty vintage set of tunes, so guessing this was recorded mid-90s. Could’ve been quite a special release had the label thought about a bit of Art(offact) design!! (06.10.19)
SNIVELLING SHITS - Bring Me The Head Of Yukio Mishima {Damaged Goods} If ya didn’t know, the SHITS were put together at the height of the original Punk boom by Sounds journalist Giovanni Dadomo and, among their limited output was the classic ‘I Can’t Cum’. This two track 7” (on shit coloured vinyl no less) features two previously unreleased studio tracks - the title track and ‘Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi’, a hit 1966 for French actor Jacques Dutronc. If you know the band, you’ll not be surprised to know both tracks are lo-fi and very ‘of the moment’. Have to say, I’m surprised the lead track was never released in this form as it could be among the band’s best sounding material. Although both these tracks are on the band’s compilation album (also a Damaged Goods release), these are noticeably different and worthy of release. Limited to a mere 200 - so get in quick. (19.12.19)
SNUFF - There’s A Lot Of It About {Fat Wreck} PODCAST PLAYED  SNUFF has always had the ability to write the most stunning of songs to open an album and this, the band’s first in six years, is no different. ‘Kings Of The Spanish Oi Scene’ is everything you want of a SNUFF classic - fantastic shouty-but-catchy vocals, monster guitar and delivered in that distinctly SNUFF style that many copy, none match. Plenty of highlights follow, be it the more sedate ‘A Smile Gets A Smile’ that’s got an impressive vocal performance from Duncan and sax and keys to the fore, ‘Love Hearts’ has a rapid fire vocal delivery over classic SNUFF riffage and ‘Hey Boff!’ sees guitarist Lee take lead vocals and deliver what could be the most dance-yr-arse-off track the band has ever written while ‘Gyoza’ could challenge that opener for album highlight as it rolls along on a fantastic arrangement, mid-paced riff and delivers some of the most poignant lyrics that any SNUFF album has seen. A new SNUFF album is always something to savour and this one is right up there with the band’s best. (16.02.20)

SOMETHING HAPPENING - Q {TCBYML} Four-track digital EP from this Dutch band (not to be confused with SOMETHING HAPPENS), which is made up of ex members of late 80s bands VERNON WALTERS and UNION MORBIDE. The four tracks were recorded in 1990 with opener ‘Inside Out’ being an anti-prejudice track that reminded me of New Zealand’s very own SPELLING MISTAKES. Of the remainder, it’s ‘Some Ending’ that takes the highlight coming on a bit like OMEGA TRIBE with a hint of BLYTH POWER while the title track is a zippy instrumental. Interesting stuff that could easily be viewed as Goth-esque Post-Punk. Seems to have been ripped from the original vinyl too as crackles can be heard in the digital file. I’m really enjoying these digital-only reissues of some of the Netherland’s best unsung bands that TCBYML are releasing. Keep ‘em coming! (09.11.20)

SONGS FOR SNAKES - Crystal Vapour Figure {Timid Crusher} PODCAST PLAYED Bloody hell - this is the fourth album from this San Francisco trio and I’ve only just found out about them? How did that happen? It’s pretty fucking fantastic stuff too; more Alt/ Indie Rock that Punk, like a fusion of BOB MOULD, BUFFALO TOM, JAWBREAKER and PIXIES with good helpings of ARCHES OF LOAF and THE BOMB for good measure. This 10 track album, which has been mixed by the mercurial talents of J Robbins, kicks of with the title track that has that THE BOMB vibe all over it. From there, ‘Exercising Demons’ highlights that PIXIES dynamic while both ‘Skin Of Porcelain’ and ‘Window Licker’ have a noticeable BOB MOULD feel vocally. Elsewhere there’s the rocking ‘Burnout Girl’, some acoustic introspection on ‘A High Winter Sky’, a nod to yesteryear in ‘The 90s Were My 60s’ and the epic closer ‘Burning Babies’. Both ‘Thaw’ and ‘Tweakers (Three Different Ones)’ saw some dynamics come into play which worked impressively on the former but not so well on the latter, making it the low point of the album for me. An absolute cracker of an album that’s got depth, quality songs and plenty of twists and turns which, 98% of the time are almost jaw-dropping. Already a contender for 2018’s best album. Yowser. (26.05.18)

SONGS FOR SNAKES/ IF IT KILLS YOU - Split {DIY} Raucous split 7" pressed on muddy-marbled mustard vinyl and kicking of with the swelling, immediate and resonant sound of San Francisco’s SONGS FOR SNAKES. Their track, ‘Cobalt Blue’ is certainly the standout with solid guitars that hit like a hammer but don’t bludgeon the listener into submission while vocalist Bill Taylor has a strong, intense voice that can hold a tune too; think SAMIAM, JAWBREAKER, HUSKER DU - yeah - they’re pretty fucking good. Flip it and you get fellow Californians IF IT KILLS YOU with ‘A Lifetime On The Phone’ which has a slightly more disjointed, angular sound. It’s still an impressive sound fusing BLUE TIP, SPECTRES and a splish of GAMEFACE. Two well matched bands both of whom deserve more attention than they seem to be getting. (18.03.18)

SPEAR OF DESTINY - The Albums {Cherry Red} Rather snazzy three CD boxset covering the first three albums from Kirk Brandon’s SPEAR OF DESTINY: ‘Grapes Of Wrath’ (‘83), ‘One Eyed Jacks’ (‘84) and ‘World Service’ (‘85). Have to say, I was never much of a fan; I had passing interest in THEATRE OF HATE but lost most of that with this newer, brassier, rockier sound. Listening to ‘Grapes Of Wrath’ however, I might have been a bit blinkered as it’s not that dissimilar to THEATRE OF HATE - especially opener ‘The Wheel’. ‘One Eyed Jacks’ is supposed to be the band’s pinnacle by all accounts and one listen to ‘Rainmaker’ or the refrain of ‘Liberator’ confirm that there are songwriting chops, drama and a quality to the album that should have seen it rise to the top of the heap along with BIG COUNTRY and, dare I say it, U2! As for ‘World Service’, it has its moments - check ‘Mickey’ for a stunning commentary of the then-recent Falklands War and the bombastic ‘Up All Night’ - but generally it fails to reach the standard set by its predecessors. All discs come with a bunch of extra songs and includes a neat 20-page booklet full of graphics and a new interview with Brandon. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed much of this, having always dismissed them as TOH’s mainstream seeking little brother band. A real nice package for either the seasoned fan or those more dismissive souls like me. (09.09.19)
SPERMBIRDS - Go To Hell... Then Turn Left {Boss Tuneage/ Rookie} Is there really anyone in the whole of Punkdom that doesn’t rate SPERMBIRDS? Nah, thought not. This is the band’s ninth album and the opener says it all: ‘Breathe Deep’... and off we go on a roller-coaster of hard hitting, high octane and down right fucking pristine, sarcastic and snotty Punk Rock. There’s not a duffer among the 13 tracks but highlights would be the bombastic riffage of ‘Balancing Act’, the incisive and portentous ‘A Quarter To The End Of The World’ and ‘Anything With An Engine’ that pivots around an addictive, circular riff while the slow-burn of ‘From This Direction Comes War’ could claim to be the best of the bunch. This really is a master class on how to deliver cutting, inventive and totally relevant Punk Rock; the guitars in particular interweave with such aplomb it really is a joy to hear (and puts BAD RELIGION’s three-pronged guitar attack to shame) while Lee Hollis still has one of the most arrogant, snotty and sneering vocals you will ever hear. Riotous, soaring and incinerating music which probably won’t be heard by as many as it should. For those that do hear it, we’ll be thankful. (30.12.19)
SPOILERS - Roundabouts {Little Rocket/ Boss Tuneage} PODCAST PLAYED After a couple of EP releases, we finally get the 12-track debut album from this impressive UK band - and on rather fantastic red-yellow splatter vinyl. Think a perfect fusion of SNUFF Punk and SENSELESS THINGS melody with a large helping of VANILLA POD and a vocal very similar to Australia's THE CRITICS and you’re close. Highlights are plenty - in fact there’s not a duffer here - but best moments include ‘Target Practice’ that brought to mind SKIMMER with its quality vocal melody and frantic pace, both ‘See You Ringside’ and ‘Pushover’ that are tougher tracks, kinda like PEARS with some punching riffage and ‘Recently Rereleased’ that’s just a strong, clever slice of Punk Rock while highlight is a straight battle between ‘Collision Course’ with its great chorus and snappy arrangement and the choppy guitars of ‘Skimming Stones’ that includes yet another stellar chorus. While this continues the traits of the band’s previous releases, there is a notable progression in the use of a Hammond Organ on most tracks - most effectively on ‘Harry G’. It really adds a dimension to the tracks that is very much SPOILERS-own. Bit of a cracker all round really, and with VANILLA POD hanging up their Converse, these fellas might be ideally placed to continue where they left off. Download code with the vinyl too. (15.10.20)

SPOILERS - Recently Re-Released {Little Rocket/ Boss Tuneage} Smart 12-track limited edition CD/ coloured vinyl compilation that takes the six tracks from the ‘Stay Afloat’ mini-album (reviewed HERE), throws in couple of 7" EP tracks from the band’s split with NO MARKS, an unreleased track written and sung by former bassist Kenny Razzell and three tracks from guitarist/ vocalist Dan’s solo acoustic EP. The tracks from the original EP still sound stunning with ‘Freaked’ in particular being immeasurably catchy. The split EP tracks keep the quality flowing with ‘Lost Your Way’ in particular emphasising the SNUFF comparison. The unreleased track lasts but 30 seconds while the acoustic tracks work incredibly well, especially ‘Lost Your Way’ that’s transformed into a fragile, highly melodic ballad. These tracks also highlight just what a good vocalist former SOUTHPORT man Dan is; he has power and clarity on the electric stuff which is coupled with the pitch-perfect diction of the acoustic tracks. Really satisfying and fulfilling stuff that’s got depth and quality songs throughout. Neat digipack sleeve with the CD, or smart printed insert and download code with the excellent vinyl edition. (15.10.20)

STANK VOOR DANK - Where Seagulls Dare {DIY} Looking at this six-track 10”, and the band’s name, I was expecting something kinda Crust sounding. Fact is, this four piece outta San Francisco plays witty but intelligent, solid raging Punk Rock laced with the intensity of Hardcore. Not a duffer here, but highlights would be ‘Neanderthal’ that has some great early ADOLESCENTS-esque vocal arrangements and a frantic guitar, the title track that evokes SOCIAL DISTORTION (in fact, the early SD influence was heard on a few tracks) with lyrics that look at the plastic in the Pacific Ocean while both opener ‘Bangers And Meth’ and ‘Blackout Drinking’ bring in the intensity of OFF! partying with ILL REPUTE. The other two tracks I haven’t mentioned, ‘Evel’ and ‘Naranja Clown’ are no slouches either and would probably be standouts on 90% of other bands’ releases. The band’s name is actually Dutch for ‘Thanks for the bad smell’ (another hint at the subject matter of the title track) while band members have served time in such stellar outfits as TEXAS THIEVES (what a great band they were), FRACAS, HIGH & TIGHT, RETOX and BRAT PACK. If I wanted to hear drop-dead stunning Punk Rock that is directly relevant to today while remaining faithful to the greats of old, I’d look no further than this lot. First genuine contender for best record of the 2020. (16.05.20)
STATE FUNERAL - Built For Destruction {Static Shock} Oh shit - this latest five track EP from this outfit outta Brighton, England has been in the review pile for about a year already. Sorry guys - unfortunately downloads do get a bit lost. Anyway from opener, ‘Truth Beat’ you know what you are in for - damaging, intense and incendiary Hardcore. Best track is probably ‘Force Fed’ that has a CAREER SUICIDE vibe although closer ‘Lies To Survive’ runs it close with a vague DISCHARGEian quality about some of the vocals. Have to say, the guitars on this sound fucking huge - chords that could destroy a neighbourhood! Good to hear the bass has been brought to the fore a bit when compared with the previous ‘Tory Party Prison’ demo while the vocals are spat out with a CRUDOS meets vitriolic UK82 intensity. If Hardcore that is vibrant and free of any fucking crossover Metal bollocks is your thing, you should be checking this out right now. (12.06.20)

STAY CLEAN JOLENE - Live At The Dog, Bolton 22/02/2014 {JSNTGM} Live at The Dog... in Bolton??! I guess this won’t win any prizes for the glamour of location (apologies Boltonites... or Boltonians). Location aside, we’re talking about STAY CLEAN JOLENE here - one of the best bands to come outta Britain in the last decade or so. You get four crackers, pressed on a mint green 7" and it kicks off with a blistering, resonating ‘Heads And Breakables’, which segues into ‘Record’ that burns with the same melodic intensity as LEATHERFACE. Flip the disc and you get a snappy run through ‘Green’ (dedicated to JSNTGM head honcho Andy Higgins) and finally ‘Concrete Block’ that takes the sum of all the band’s parts and shines with a chorus made for boozy crowd participation in small Punk Rock clubs. Good on you Bolton - I’m envious! Another stellar release from this band that has yet to put out anything less than stunning. Sure, there aren’t that many releases, but remember that old adage - quality over quantity. (28.10.18)

STEVE ADAMYK BAND - Paradise {Dirtnap} Album number six for ADAMYK and co and it’s another 12 tracks of that patented melodic, pulsating Punk that ADAMYK seems to have an endless supply of - and a supply that’s of superior quality at that. From the throbbing, urgent opener ‘The Letter’ through to broiling, mid-paced closer ‘The Deep End’ there’s not a duffer here. Highlights among those tracks include the frantic, sneering ‘In Death’ that could be the best song the OBSERVERS never got to write, the double banger of ‘Waiting To Die Part 1 and 2’, the former of which is laden with grandeur and introspection with the latter scorching like SCREECHING WEASEL, the pogo-tastic ‘Something Vicious’ and the compulsive, addictive ‘No Help’ that could be the best on the album. One noticeable aspect of this album compared with previous slabs is that this seems to have more adventurous vocal arrangements and harmonies, especially on the slower tracks. Another cracker from ADAMYK and one which sees them retain the title of best band on Dirtnap - and there are some fucking great bands there! (23.02.20)
STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE - Don’t Turn Away {Overground} Second album from this acoustic/piano/bass project fronted by the ex-CRASS man. You get 11 songs and, while the music maybe sedate and stately, the message in Ignorant’s lyrics are as pointed as ever. The opening title track sets the tone well, pivoting around the bass and some of stunning lyrics before the damning (and previously recorded) ‘Your Day Will Come’ kicks in. Elsewhere you get re-workings of ‘Slaughterhouse’ and ‘Stretford Blue’, ‘Song For Myself’ could be the highlight (along with ‘Stretford Blue) and sees Ignorant seemingly coming to terms with his increasing years (a trait that appears in a few songs), ‘The Story Continues’ that addresses greed and control and ‘S.A.D’ faces depression and despair. Like the 2014 debut, anyone looking for shouted, profane CRASS polemics are going to be disappointed, but those wanting the same ideals but given a new sound, a mellower sound of grandeur but still lyrically biting, will find lots to love here. Still dangerous, just not screaming. (16.09.19)

STEVE IGNORANT WITH PARANOID VISIONS - 1977220174U {FOAD} 15 track live set from Rebellion 2017 where Ignorant and PV ran through songs from PARANOID VISIONS own catalogue along with half a dozen from CRASS, a couple of STRATFORD MERCENARIES and solitary tracks by DIRT, CONFLICT and FLUX OF PINK INDIANS. What’s instantly noticeable about the CRASS songs in particular is how much weightier they are with the dual PARANOID VISIONS guitar attack; especially opener ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’. Other highlights include a bludgeoning ‘Hiroshima’, a distinctly groove-laden ‘Where Is Love?’, ‘Braindance’ is the pick of the original PV tracks while ‘Big A Little A’ takes out album highlight. It’s clear this is overdub-free too as while the music sounds mighty, the vocals are all too often buried - although the crowd cut through pretty well, especially on the CRASS tracks. As a document though, this is beaut - pressed on heavy-weight red vinyl, neat insert - typical PARANOID VISIONS value for money in fact. It’s also limited to just 500, so I’m guessing it’s sold out already. (23.10.18)

STRUNG OUT - Black Out The Sky {Fat Wreck} Wow - this is a bit of a mind-fuck! I’ve always disliked STRUNG OUT’s fusion of tight, slick Punk and Metal bluster and was set to give this the usual ‘Yawn’ vote. However, opener ‘The Architect’ surprised with acoustic guitars and no Metal bluster at all. Then the title track is acoustic too - and so are the remaining six tracks. What’s more, it’s pretty damn good. Think PEARL JAM unplugged (minus Eddie Veeder’s annoying singing-while-constipated vocals) with a big hint of GAMEFACE (check one of the best on the disc ‘Town Of Corazon’) and  a splish of CHAMBERLAIN and you’re there. It’s not straight forward stuff either; ‘Unkoil’ includes a psychedelic passage and an understated lead while ‘Requiem’ includes a full-on electric burst of double bass drums and electric guitars and is actually very effective amidst the style of this album. Other album highlight is ‘Matchbook’ that again echoes GAMEFACE with some great songwriting and acoustic guitar work. Totally the opposite of what I was expecting and by far the best STRUNG OUT record I’ve heard. That said, I’ll still be avoiding the others! (28.08.18)

STUBBS, FRANKIE - Blood Orange Moon {Little Rocket} The mercurial talents of Mr Stubbs are really beyond any words that I can conjure up. You all should know he’s the main man of the glorious LEATHERFACE and this four track 7” (on industrial grey vinyl) sees him and his acoustic guitar in mellow mood. Opener ‘I Liked Being A European’ is pointed but sedate and includes his LEATHERFACE compadre and Little Rocket mainman Graeme on additional guitar while ‘Shipyards’ is an tender meander through the LEATHERFACE favourite. The flip features the lead track which is a cracker, fusing BOB MOULD’s droning style with a very impressive folk styling of DICK GAUGHAN or NIC JONES. Closer ‘Jimmy Jesus’ sees Graeme return for an sedate song. As you can tell, these songs are understated, slow to almost balladeering but have that trademark Stubbs quality all over them. You probably know whether this should be in your collection or not, no matter what I say - but one thing is certain: I am mightily chuffed to have it in mine. If you rated the solo 10” he released back in 2000 on Sounds Of Subterrania, then you’ll need this to go with it. Download code included. (22.11.20)
SUBHUMANS - Crisis.Point {Pirates Press} First new material from this iconic UK Anarcho band in 12 years and, like you need to be told, it’s a stunner. In fact opener, ‘Terrorist In Waiting’, could be among the band’s very best - intelligent, urgent, probing and catchy as hell. The remaining ten tracks keep the quality meter set on max too with both ‘Follow The Leader’ and ‘Poison’ being as intense as anything on the early 7”s, ‘Information Gap’ pivoting around some great guitar/ bass, ‘Strange Land’ that addresses the refugee issue over some slightly discordant but infectious guitar, pulsing bass and snappy drums while closer ‘Thought Is Free’ is another of Dick’s pleas for the power of thinking for one’s self juxtaposed with tirades against complacency. Fact is, each track is classic SUBHUMANS - a band that could easily be considered the defining band of the Anarcho scene and certainly the band that’s been the most consistent. Not only are the tracks great, but the packaging is superb. You get a fold-out poster with those great lyrics on one side with a close up of Dick Lucas on the flip, a bunch of stickers and, with the vinyl, a massive fold-out SUBHUMANS stencil. Truly strong material that is, as always, out-spoken, thought-provoking, insistent and musically thrilling. I can’t recommend this album (and the band) enough. (17.11.19)
SUICIDE GENERATION - Prisoner Of Love {Spaghetty Town} Three track 7” from this London based quartet of down and dirty, couldn’t-give-a-fuck abrasive Garage Punk rockers. Lead track sets the intent instantly coming on like the bastard love-child of THE REATARDS and RED AUNTS. Flip the disc and you get what’s probably the best track in ‘Shitty In The City’ which cuts like razor wire and stomps with the sneering attitude of first album era HIVES while being kicked in their collective head by NEW BOMB TURKS. Closer ‘Rotten Mind’ spits, snarls, screams - just like the very best Garage Punk you have never heard. The band already has two albums out and this slab of noxiousness was produced by Jim Diamond, who has also done the job on WHITE STRIPES and SONICS to name but two. Inflammable material indeed. (06.02.20)
SUICIDE MACHINES - Revolution Spring {Fat Wreck} Been a while since I heard from these fellas; never really been a big fan I have to say - their propensity to over-indulge in sub-standard Ska has always annoyed me, and that taints this, the band’s seventh album. You get 16 songs kicking off with an almost prophetic ‘Bully In Blue’ that looks at police violence against, most specifically, African Americans. It’s a biting condemnation of the US Police force and carries particular weight in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. Much of the remainder is their ‘Smash’-era OFFSPRING Punk anthems, (too much) Ska and plenty of socio-political commentary in the lyrics. While they never top that opener, ‘To Play Caesar’ and ‘Impossible Possibilities’ fuse some very effective Ska with killer Punk while both ‘Detroit Is The New Miami’ and ‘Black Tar Halo’ are flat out, barbed-vocalled snarling Punk like DESCENDENTS jamming with PEARS. Better than I thought it would be, and very enjoyable in parts , but ultimately still a second division band at best in my eyes. (21.09.20)

SUSPECT PARTS - You Know I Can’t Say No {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Fantastical three track 7” featuring luminaries from such stellar bands as BRIEFS, MORE KICKS, CLOROX GIRLS, RED DONS, MANIACS and more besides. The lead track is a total winner - think NEWTOWN NEUROTICS meets THE JAM and given a US Power Pop/ Punk twist. ‘Song For Sadie’ keeps the quality set to high and is a tad more restrained and structured with a great bass/ drums/ vocal harmony breakdown. Closer ‘Hundsgemein (Ideal)’ is a bouncy tune that’s sung in German? Might be Polish? Vocally it hits a bit like DEZERTER anyway. Impressive stuff from a new band to me, although it seems there is an album and about four other singles out. Another band I need to track! (27.10.20)

SWEET THINGS, THE - In Borrowed Shoes, On Borrowed Time {Spaghetty Town} Debut ten track album from this band that so impressed on the single below. Opener ‘Liquor Lightning’ picks up right where it left off, with some great honky-tonk piano, sumptuous brass and good time Rock ‘n’ Roll. The slices of sublime soulful Rock ‘n’ Roll cool just flow effortlessly from there. The title track could easily be ‘Exile...’ era ROLLING STONES, ‘Almost Faded’ continues the HANOI ROCKS vibe and includes a rather smoking sax solo and THE FACES via DRAGONS abandon of ‘Through The Cracks Of The City’, while best track could well be ‘Drained’ that invokes NYC legend JIM CARROLL. The band has pulled in some impressive guests for this too including Alejandro Escovedo, THE UPTOWN HORNS who have worked with ROLLING STONES and JAMES BROWN and keyboardist Rob Clores of BLACK CROWES among others. Vibrant, vintage sounding barroom Rock ‘n’ Roll but not in anyway dated. Pour yourself a bourbon, crank the stereo and enjoy! (17.01.20)

SWEET THINGS, THE - Slather {Spaghetty Town} PODCAST  PLAYED Two track 7" that spews Rock ‘n’ Roll cool, even from the sleeve which shows the very Rock ‘n’ Roll looking quartet hanging outside a drug store like the mutant offspring of ALICE COOPER BAND and ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT. Main track is a bit like a fusion of HANOI ROCKS with GEORGIA SATELLITES and really stands out from the pack due to a rather fantastic honky-tonk piano that lifts the track and shakes your ass in the process. Uplifting chorus too!! ‘Dustianne’ on the flip continues that effortless Rock ‘n’ Roll swagger and includes a soulful female backing vocalist. Think ROLLING STONES at their sleaziest peak. Have to say, I’d like to hear a bit more pace, a touch more abandon about the sound as over the course of an album it might get a bit pedestrian - but not at the expense of the piano player. The band’s from NYC, has members from the likes of DIMESTORE HALOES, L.E.S. STITCHES and SHARP LADS and this is their debut release. One to watch for those who like Rock ‘n’ Roll with swagger and can make the old cliches sound fresh again. (22.03.18)

SWINGIN’ UTTERS - Peace And Love {Fat Wreck} PODCAST PLAYED It’s rare for a band to release its 11th studio album and it’s their best yet. Consider that in context of the strength of SWINGIN’ UTTERS’ back catalogue and it’s miraculous. Not only is this the band’s best so far, it’s by far the most adventurous. It’s clear a great deal of thought has gone into the arrangements of these songs; they’re less guitar-heavy than some previous records, but no less penetrative, addictive or joyous. From the opener, ‘Undertaker, Undertake’, with its propulsive bass and bristling energy, it’s clearly something new but still distinctly UTTERS. Then Darius takes lead vocal for a virtual post-Punk Brit Pop song in ‘Sirens’ and you know this is new but thrilling territory. So the album continues with ‘E.C.T.’ being ‘Road To Ruin RAMONES ramalama, ‘Deranged’ having a psychedelic, acoustic intro the BEATLES would have been proud of circa ‘Rubber Soul’ which morphs into a traditional spit and sawdust UTTERS Punk gem, as is ‘Human Potential’, and ‘Demons Of Springtime’ hints at DILLINGER FOUR. It’s ‘Imitation Of Silence’ that’s the disc highlight, romping along at an infectious pace, bass propelled, haunting guitar melody and a damning indictment of Republican presidency from Reagan to Trump. Similar sentiments are voiced in ‘Yes I Hope He Dies’ and while many Punk bands would bash such a track out with maximum venom, here it is nuanced and enhanced by wonderful melodic flurries. A stunning album and the best Fat release of 2018 - and there’s been a few good ones! (06.01.19)

SWINGIN’ UTTERS - Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun {Fat Wreck} Ohh yes!! Easily one of the most consistent and convincing bands on Fat Wreck, this is a walloping 33 track best of that dates right back to the 1992’s ‘Scared’ and features tracks from every significant UTTERS release right up to 2014’s excellent ‘Fistful Of Hollow’. All your favourites are here, ‘Windspitting Punk’, ‘No Eager Men’, ‘Tell Me Lies’, ‘Pills And Smoke’, ‘Catastrophe’, ‘Stuck In A Circle’... I could go on but you have your own faves, and they are most likely here. Unfortunately there are no unreleased tracks to make this appeal to hardened fans. Yep, I realise this is probably released to lure the curious but given this is a career-spanning disc and having already owned all the records this is culled from, I still found it really fulfilling (possibly due to the fact it doesn’t run chronologically) and, if any proof was needed of the band’s perpetual quality, you have it here. Double vinyl or single CD, neat time-line and flyer insert too. My main concern is whether this spells the end of the band. Although they’ve had a great run, and the time line shows a few members have left, I genuinely hope there is at least one more album in the bag. Here’s hoping!! (12.07.18)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2018 including: