Top Sounds - W

WALTER ELF - Heut’ Oder Nie, Die Angst Des Tormanns Beim Elfmeter {Boss Tuneage} Although I knew the name via the SPERMBIRDS connection (ELF shared four members with the excellent SPERMBIRDS), I never really got to grips with WALTER ELF, so these reissues from the ever reliable BT team are most welcome. ‘Heut...’ acted as a debut album, originally released on We Bite Records back in 1986. It’s comprised of early recordings from ‘83 to ‘86. The band’s sound borrowed heavily from 70s UK Punk with the UK SUBS constantly coming to mind - especially on ‘Provinz’. Elsewhere keyboards and brass filled the sound out. A smattering of slower, textured tracks suggested a VIBRATORS influence (check out ‘Diese Stadt’), if mixed with the dynamics of NEWTOWN NEUROTICS or THE BOYS. As a bonus, this version comes with the two tracks from the band’s debut release (a split with SPERMBIRDS) including one of the best tracks - ‘15 Bier’ - as well as the band’s track from the ultra-rare ‘1-2-3-Fish’ cassette. Gotta say, this was a great introduction and, given the era this was recorded in, sounded ultra fresh.
Unfortunately, 1988’s ‘Die Angst...’ is relatively tame. The spiky edge of the above album is lost here, with a lot of the sounds coming over sterile and lame. The high point is a Punked version of the BOOMTOWN RATS’ ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ while ‘Hertie Bei Nacht’ could fit on the album above with its mix of GENERATION X and BOYS 77isms. The early B-BOY vibe of the ANGRY SAMOANS cover (‘Lights Out’ no less) falls flat though, as does the brass-laced chart rock of ‘Showdown’ and the TOY DOLLS-esque shenanigans of ‘Spatzunder’ while ‘Es Wird Zeit’ is a blatant rip of the DESCENDENTS ‘Bikeage’. A disappointing follow-up and one that will certainly collect the dust when compared with it’s previously released counterpart. (22.06.09)

WANTON THOUGHT - s/t {Boss Tuneage} Crikey! Had someone told me when I purchased this band’s ‘Mustard Mit’ 7" off Aston that, 20 years later, I’d be holding a full CD retrospective of the band, I would’ve been less skeptical about Ireland having been submerged under a Guinness tsunami. But here it is, a ten-track comp with full liner notes from this band outta North Wales that takes the aforementioned 7" and adds a 4-track demo from 1988, the band’s contribution for the ‘Floor 81’ comp and one unreleased cracker. Soundwise, think INSTIGATORS/ SLEEP - that sharp, soaring melodic HC that was doing the rounds in the UK at the turn of the 90s. Considering the demo has been ripped directly from a cassette tape and the 7" directly from vinyl, I’m amazed at how lively this still sounds - the demo especially with original singer Mike Wright is PROPAGANDHI-esque fast and gnarly in places. There are a couple of standouts - opener ‘In The Glue’, ‘Cruelest Joke’ and ‘S.C.F.P.’ A most welcome trip down memory lane - although one that my sound a tad generic to anyone who wasn’t there. (26.09.11)

WAXING CAPTORS - Pleasure! {Antigen} Second (I think) album from this Ipswich, UK band and a quirky little power play it is. You get 11 tracks that aren’t quite so rampant as those on the previous album, coming on like a less manic SHITTY LIMITS given a slightly more accessible edge. Throw in servings of WIRE, ATV, TRANZMITORS and some unhinged CARDIACS dynamics are you’re close. Highlights are plenty: ‘File Under Rock/Pop’ has a joyous frivolity about it; ‘Constant Sorrow’ seems to borrow a bit from ‘Ziggy Stardust’ era Bowie (especially vocally); ‘Golden Afternoon’ emphasizes the SHITTY LIMITS comparison and ‘Bringing The Beatles Back To Hamburg’ rolls and convulses and provides the most forceful and appealing track here. It’s clear these fellas don’t discount any twist or turn their songs may flow in and it’s also clear the band know how to get a good sound. Not really one for CHAOS UK fans, but certainly neat, left-of-centre Indie stuff - but with balls and attitude. Works for me! (08.10.10)

WHISKEY AND CO - Rust Colors {No Idea} Third album of swingin’ Country tunes from this band that includes, quite unbelievably, members of ASSHOLE PARADE and ENABLERS amongst others. Be warned though, mere Scanner readers, this may be on No Idea but it’s NOT a Punk record. Vocalist Kim Helm has a voice that’s as distinctly Country as Nanci Griffith but imbibed with the richness of 10,000 MANIACS’ Natalie Merchant. She’s backed by a band as able as Gram Parsons era BYRDS but as gritty and gnarled as GREEN ON RED. Guitarist Ronnie Holmes in particular can play that guitar with the finger-pickin’, slippin’ ‘n’ slidin’ dexterity of any professional Country guitarist but has the ability to crank it as ex-ASSHOLE (PARADE that is) Brian Johnson fills things out with his vocals and acoustic. Highlights? ‘Catch My Fall’ emphasises the 10,000 MANIACS comparison, ‘Road To Nowhere’ swings with a nice attitude and killer chorus while ‘Walking’ is reflective and focuses on a love lost. Great stuff from one of the best-named bands EVER and one that really puts me in the mood.... Pass the Jameson’s please!! (04.04.11)

WITCH HUNT - Burning Bridges To Nowhere {Alternative Tentacles} Following a messy split with Profane Existence, this is the third album from this Philadelphia quartet and first for Alternative Tentacles. It’s a sonic leap forward with a discernible parallel to HUSKER DU ‘Zen Arcade’/ ‘New Day Rising’ era which both ‘Everyday’ and highlight ‘Reflections’ prove. Elsewhere progression is evident in a slowing of pace (‘Void’ could be KILLING JOKE until its cacophonous finale) and dramatic soundscapes (with ‘Silence’ having a near orchestral depth). There’s plenty old style HC still with ‘Treadmill March’, ‘Septa Death’ and the alarmingly effective title track all possessing a kinship to NAKED AGGRESSION and SIGNAL LOST. Lyrically this is a politically aware disc; bleak in parts with ‘Sick Industry’ taking America’s private health care policy to task in a new way. The three-way male/female vocal trade off works well, while the DISCHARGEian, fuzzed bass rumble and galloping drum assault give the guitars a solid grounding to create their flair. A really impressive disc which perfectly fits between BORN/DEAD and POISON GIRLS. (13.07.09)

WOLVES AND THIEVES - s/t {Swagger City} Debut album for this rocking Bay Area band that rose outta the ashes of DISPUTE. It’s a brisk slab too - 12 tracks that clock in at just under 20 minutes - but that’s long enough for these five fellas to make their impression. That classic ‘Bay Area Sound’ is prevalent via an unmistakable nod toward both early AFI and SCREW 32, mixed up with beefed-up DEAD KENNEDYS-esque guitar lines and a hefty helping of raucous rock ‘n’ roll delivered by a formidable rhythm section. Highlights include the edgy, tense ‘Totally Rejected’, the broiling fury of ‘Welcoming Party’ and the flat-out blazing cool of ‘I’m Sorry’. Lyrically this is more personal than political, although ‘1968’ displays a political awareness. Gotta say though - the album cover totally misrepresents the band! It looks like either some love-struck emo tripe or worse, some misogynistic cock rock band! Thankfully, the reality is that WOLVES AND THIEVES play a solid, confident dispensation of archetypal Bay Area Punkage. Increase the bile a little, and this could be something special. (25.09.09)

WORN IN RED - In The Offing {No Idea} Fragmented, angular, flesh-creeping stuff with belched-out vocals here. I think this is the Virginia band’s debut and features eight discordant HC tracks that take DRIVE LIKE JEHU spasmodic arrangements and hammers them out with a fury akin to GRADE with a hint of CRISPUS ATTUCKS. Highlights include ‘And You Knew’ which from subtle beginnings ends in a barrage and ‘When People Have Something To Say’ in particular. Both tracks are aided by a vocal style more like HOT WATER MUSIC rather than the continual belching and screaming that the other tracks employ - much to their disservice. The vocal style is fine on opener ‘Vital Joys’ but elsewhere just annoys. Chris Dowhan’s production is rich and explosive while the band is certainly tight and powerful but, ultimately, it’s too disjointed for me and that vocal bellowing just gets tedious. Adding a bit more of that CRISPUS ATTUCKS influence would work wonders! (08.10.10) 

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