4-Track Demo CD (2003)
A Euro Punk supergroup in the making! Yeah kids these gobbin' clergymen feature Vince Incredible (Ex-HDQ) on guitar/vocals, Vom (ex-every punk outfit in Europe and beyond) on Drums and John Codger on vocals/bass outta The Stains, Only Alternative. Considering they live all over Europe... Holland, Germany and the UK to be exact, this collaboration shows a great dedication and logistical wizardry to even get these fuckers in a country let alone a studio. So full marks for determination, coz within 48 hours their efforts have paid off. Not suprising considering their punk pedigree, coz they can certainly knock a tune together. They bring us a duel vocal, with a well produced dose of tongue in cheek punk rock. A band with loads of hooks and plenty of humour. 'Oddball' reminds me of the late 70's British new wave era in style. It's got enough commerciality to make a novel move towards the charts, but with enough grit under the collar to scare the schoolies and Records execs back from the brink. Hey, wishful thinking never hurt anyone! The Spittin Vicars seem to have the same ammo as The Briefs in their studded vestry. They could get your attention fast, especially with that quirky delivery. And those jangling guitars above a beefy rhythm track are used to good effect, adding a slick pro touch. The semi crooning vocals with piss taking lyrics send this track on it's merry way. But it was left their next and best track, the more in your face '(Aint Going) Back To Babylon' to make you really sit up and notice. This is a very well played song and shows healthy signs of what's yet to come. It even features a drum solo!!! Well what do you expect with Vom in the band!? The following tracks are instrumentals of the previous two, or as Vince puts it "the Karaoke versions". Comes with a good clean production, so look out for the threatened 45 that makes an appearance early next year after more remixes and fine tuning!
WORTH A LISTEN
'Dead Rockers' Demo CD (2003)
Death Squad are outta San Francisco but sound like they just crawled out a squat in darkest Europe. I like the name a lot, but this 6 track demo don't really give us anything new or death defying at this stage in their hardcore career. We do get well played compact slices of tight, energetic, roar punk. But their one speed (fast) riffs are left lifeless with a singer who displays that by now familiar and banal growl/shout. A trait so many kids today seem to wanna adopt ...WHY? It may ignite some punks palettes but I've heard so fucking many over the years it now just gets boring and lacks imagination. Which is a pity as the music side is ok. Their best track however was 'Nihilistic Future' where they manage to stray off their heads down monotonous path for a short time, to give us a brief excursion into new territory. Maybe they need more time to develop and break outta the obvious inbuilt and predictable formula and create their own style? I also enjoyed the brief lead solo in 'Born To Suffer' but it didn't last long enough to rescue em for the long term. They swap singers on 'Orders', which offers a less brutal delivery and had more appeal. Well whatever I think they have their debut EP called 'Final Solution' out soon! Lets hope it shows a brighter future! AVERAGE email@example.com
'Gin & Juice' Demo Tape (Jan. 2003)
Ain't too keen on the name much, it sounds like a Thrash Metal outfit, but forget that! Coz this very rough, gut wrenching live demo tape (recorded I suspect in the bands SF garage) does show positive signs and some rough gems shine out from the gin soaked mist and debris of cider bottles. Gut Wrench for those interested are a new young San Francisco based three-piece, that boasts Kev on bass who's also plays in Death Squad. But unlike Death Squad these Gut Wrenchers show way more attitude and attack in this gutsy home made tape. Chunky guitars crash into pounding bass runs as some good drumming providews the back beat. They give us textbook punk songs titles like 'Watch Yer Back', 'Hate' and 'Society's Disease' which seem almost expected in today's punk rock scene, but to be fair these songs are screaming for a studio recording to actually showcase exactly what they can really let rip given half a chance. I like the 'Uncontrollable' riff with it's early 80's swagger. It reminds me of a cross between Discharge and GBH. Singer/Guitarist Mark loses his vocal attack on some of the tracks, which will probably be put right with more practice. But he's got enough snot present to give em character. Best track of the bunch has gotta be the chanting demon of '40 In A Bag' that comes with a great ballsy riff that nails itself deeply into your skull with pneumatic effect. They end with a predictable cover of maybe the bands major influence, Chaotic Dischord's 'Fuck The World', which disappointingly dispells any intriguing mystique left. However I reckon GW are definitely one to watch out for, especially when they finally do spill their guts in a real studio.
CROPKNOX 'Just Can't Live...'
(Glue Rot Records) 45 2003
Stimulating debut 4 track EP from these young San Francisco punks who wear their affinity's on their studded sleeves! But hey please don't write em off as another early 80's bunch of UK clones just yet, coz the Cropknox do stick out from the crowd with their own impressive tunes and enough energy to deliver and make em sound fresh and today. The Duel vocals/duel guitars of Marcus and Dave give em added depth, as they swop guitar bursts and gripes about life in the 21st century. They are propelled into a gutsy rhythm collision by the more than competent Nathan on bass and Mackeyeveli (Ha!) on drums. First track
'Life On The Line' boasts a militant beat as the overexcited singer spits out a fitting attack on some company slag! It's followed by their best track and most accomplished of the bunch, the mid-paced 'New Solution'. This rings out the speakers with a great jangling guitar intro buildup, before powering into the sing along chorus of "New 'Solution...Bloody Revolution" The clever addition of an extra guitar track on the last verse creates a neat atmospheric ending. A drumming intro introduces us to 'Systematic Fuck' that has a vocal reminiscent of the Sinyx, remember them? It also makes use of a very impressive guitar solo that teases you long enough for you to want more. They end with 'Just Cant Live' that actually has a rather good vocal which they could definitely exploit more, plus loads of late 70's solos with an early 80's delivery. Maybe their subject matter could do with an overhaul, but if you like yer punk in a short, sharp, shock vein, then you'll enjoy these immensely, I know I did. Comes with a quality production, a badge and a sticker. If the Cropknox were around back in the 80's they'd have been painted onto kids leathers all across America today, in fact I bet they soon will be coz Punkcore Records have just signed these up! So look out for a full length from Cropknox on Punkcore any day now. WORTH A LISTEN! Contact info: PO Box 1857, El Cerrito, CA 94530, USA or visit www.cropknox.com
RANCID 'Indestructible' CD 2003
Rancid have been relatively quiet since their last hardcore debacle 'Rancid' in 2000, and who could blame em after that? They make a come back promising something new to retain their reputation as one of the planets biggest punk bands. One thing you come to expect with Rancid is your gonna get a good varied dose of songs in style and content, and this time around we get 19 tracks. I was hoping they'd change direction from probably the worst album of their career and thankfully they have. 'Indestructible' ain't as one dimensional or as mundane as it's predecessor. It's definitely going in the right direction of their blinding '...Out Come he Wolves', but falls well short of that classic session. And which answers the question on their recent tour why their set was dominated by '... Wolves' tracks! Well enough side tracks onto the main course. Track one 'Indestructible' harks back to their no messin hungry 'Let's Go' period, with it's upbeat energetic and positive outlook. But what I notice about Rancid is they never sound totally convincing and this track has that feel. Tim Armstrong lead singer/guitarist of the band calls Poetry his only weapon! Punks who turn poetic have a nasty knack of taking themselves way to seriously. His subject matter may have different titles but doesn't stray far from the sickly band brotherhood, homelessness and being an international punk. However it does sound fake after 6 albums! It's hard to swallow songs of living rough in freezin squats when your a platinum album seller. But their hearts are in the right place I reckon. 'Red Hot Moon' is a skanking tale of a young punkette's demise on the streets of East Bay. Now this is where Tim Armstrong excels in the lyrical department, he's on his own turf and knows the score full well. Rancid are easily the best 21st century answer to the Specials.But where they obviously glamorize their subject during like on the British gangster salute to the over hyped 'David Courtney'. It was so tragic it was funny, in a Hollywood kinda way. An overawed Lars Frederiksen guitarist/vocalist continues his romanticised fascination with all things British or should I say London. Mr Courtney makes a suprise appearance on a punk album after the band met him backstage at the Reading festival. Hey I met Tim and Lars in Birmingham in '95, so where's my song? (snigger) The bass driven 'Out Of Control' pumps up the punk ante impressively with a sinister riff as Lars spits out glimpses of impending Armageddon. This is followed by probably my fave track 'Django', with it's swashbuckling guitar runs and substance abuse merry go round. This shows Rancid firing on all cylinders. But I still find Tim's white nigger vocal raps annoying, even though he does give the band a certain charismatic focal point. However what's even worse than the (c)rap is when he's pouring his heart out pretending to be all vulnerable ha! Still considering his recent marriage breakup there's not too much of that in evidence. 'Travis Buckle' on the other hand was another superior punk rock workout with a great organ backdrop as they pay tribute to our favourite NY vigilante. They continue the punk anthems with 'Spirit Of 87' which is where Rancid come into their own. Their tales of punk hangouts and punkers reveling in being misunderstood is always the best way to hear/feel Rancid coz they have seen it, and done it and that's why their best songs are always the honest ones! They only lose it completely when they start delving into other sub-cultures and situations on the strength of second hand info. They fall open to ridicule and it shows they ain't half as sussed as we thought. Don't believe everything you hear boys! The 'Tropical London' track is important not coz it's a standout, but because it was written about the much publicised split between Tim and his Auzzie Distiller wife, Brody. She sacked him on the 'dog & bone' whilst he was making this album. Now writing a song about a broken heart is one way of getting over being dumped I spose. But funnily enough even though Tim's heart has been "ripped wide open" I don't think he's gonna find much respite in the arms of Kelly Osbourne, do you? Tales of love, death and the cold, cold nights sums up yet another Rancid album. And with Rancid being the saviours of dark, street dwellin, destitute punks all over the world they could do with way more spunk if they wanna remain super human on a gutter level. The punks they sing about probably won't be able afford to buy this album, but that ain't stopping you fuckers!
WORTH A LISTEN
TERMINAL CITY RICOCHET
(rough cut) CD 2003
Just had this ten tracker shoot in from the Norwich anti heroes'. Terminal City Ricochet are a feisty bunch who are still on a learning curve. They're not quite harnessing the power and attack that they can so readily let rip on as many songs as we'd like. However I'm sure its only a matter of time before you'll be hearing a lot more of these around the UK punk scene and further afield if I've got any say in the matter. I like their attitude coz they've got a valid message but ain't scared to mess it up with some extremely attractive buzz saw guitars. They also have enough suss about em to try and make the songs sound different instead of mindless rants. Sue on bass/vocals has come on loads since her P.M.T. days, which proves years playing the punk toilets has finally paid off. She gives the band a really bassy backbone while Tom the drummer boy keeps it all together at the back. Sue's squealing vocals still take some getting used to, but they do add a unique angle to the bands sound. Lead vocalist Martin Von Loser really works well within this band. He gives em a real identity when he pulls out that snotty vocal that lurks beneath his well meaning demeanor. So with strong characters like these in a band it makes for an explosive mix along side the heavy duty axework. Neil who provides those impressive power chords seemed to be on a winning formula. However since this recording he's been replaced for not pulling his weight! He will be missed for his musical input for sure, but they're now playing again with a suitable replacement, I hope. Must say Martin's pissed off edge seems a bit more restrained on the newer songs compared with his earlier outbursts. But a lot of this might be due to the weaker mix, it just don't capture the band at their explosive best. Of the newer songs the bass driven 'Newsflash' comes in with a by now trademark TCR riff, but was missing the urgency of their better songs. 'Tatty Rag' is a mid paced duel vocal fuck off to the Union Jack and all that it evokes. But also seemed to be suffering from a week production. The killer track of 'Sadist', which follows up next is the band at their very best. This track proves that they have the ammo, it's still the bands anthem and overshadows the rest of the album like a towering fucking monolith. 'Sadist' is a 21st century punk rock classic in anyone's book! And comes with a unique glimpse through an animals eyes of the torture they dish out in these vivisection labs. The way it's delivered with those massive power chords and sung with such venom brings us to a chilling conclusion. So if you hear one song by TCR hear this! The vocal attack of 'Mummy Said' is another cracker of a tune. Domestic bliss gets a real kicking somewhere in Terminal City, as chunky guitars beef this baby right up to the hilt. They complete the hat rick with their brilliant anti-cop number, 'Police State'. This is a fucking blinder in any pigs eye view! Von loser spits put with contempt ...."They gonna kill ya!, They're gonna get ya!, They're gonna nail ya!". This rabid attack on the constabulary witch hunt has gotta be heard. Next up is 'Distant Voices' which has a prowling riff as the vocalists swop the psychoanalysts couch for an inside peak into their deranged minds, sung over a landscape of juicy guitar chugs. "Goooo!" and were live on 'CNN' which is another standout apart from the fact were missing Martin's original and far more demented vocal track? The tribalistic 'Undercurrent' is introduced by a sinister riff as Sue takes the lead on possibly her best outburst on the album. They up the ante and let off steam on the manic, heads down bullshit detection of 'How Does It Feel'. Last track 'Heritage' was definitely the best of the new tracks I heard. They shine a snotty spotlight into the faces of rich kids everywhere who got more money than sense, luuurve it!! So on conclusion this debut album was let down by the weaker material but saved by those hand grenades of power. The sooner this band regroup and develop into the creator of more monster songs like 'Sadist' the better for punk rock UK! WORTH A LISTEN! For more info contact the band on firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Black Rat Music, PO Box 3011, Norwich, NR3 1XH, England
'16 With A Bullet' CD 2003
'Made in Texas by Texans'...as these young Dallas punks proudly proclaim from their sleeve. From the opening drum roll of the addictive 'AOK' they begin as they mean to go on by playing simple but energised punk, with tunes, melody and some nifty ideas included along the way. Lead singer/guitarist Frankie Campagna has a youthful clean vocal that compliments the raw dirty guitar licks on their better tracks. They break all the young punk rules by playing their punk with a rare maturity! And gain from an original inspiration, with more than a nod back to other eras. You won't find no hardcore stop/start blasts here, no West Coast skate rock or mindless mohawkish bland uniformity either! But having said that I think they should loose the suits pronto! These kids wouldn't have been outta place playing the local Hot Club back in the day. They definitely got style and being young and hungry deserve some recognition. 'Sixteen With A Bullet' boasts a promising introduction despite a few teething problems and the band getting out of their depth once or twice. But the prowling 'Ms Price' is my fave track of the whole bunch, with it's espionage styled guitar solo that sounds like it could've emerged from outta the 60's. They rip to shreds their 3rd grade school teacher's wigged out reputation without mercy. Bet she'd love this track! But with great tracks like that they do falter on the cover of 'Peggy Sue' as Frankie whines away off key before going into a mindless thrash out, which was a bad move, but we were all young once. Considering they've only been together since the start of 2003 I'm sure they're fast learners and will be dropping numbers like this as they progress onto more impressive compositions. 16 tracks was a brave attempt for the bands debut release. I reckon an EP would've made more sense, but I spose they were eager to give their fan base (this record reached number 2 in a local record store chart) something to chew on. Hope jumping in at the deep end don't backfire on em, coz they've inevitably included some suspect fillers like the retro 'Grease Tribute' complete with a cringe worthy "doo... wap" plus 'I don't Know' which boasted a chunky 'Teenage Kicks' inspired riff and untamed solo, but was badly sabotaged by more dodgy out of tune crooning. They end on a high though with a cover of local legends Nervebreakers 'My Girlfriends In Iraq', which shows very bad taste for kids so young (Hurrah! for bad taste!) And finally their own 'Wake Up' with an impressive intro arrangement and good backup vocals giving it atmosphere. Spector 45 show a lotta promise and confidence. They just played some prestige support slots with touring international punk bands, and gained positive feedback from the likes of Wattie! So If these kids can produce more of the quality tracks next time out the traps, I'm sure they'll be a fresh band to watch out for in Texas and beyond! WORTH A LISTEN For more info check out their site www.spector45.com
KILLING JOKE 'Killing Joke' (zumacd002) CD 2003
60 minutes of the Killing Joke as they return to the fray...and what a return!!! This band have exploded back onto the scene with their 11th album of personified anger, detest and complete contempt for the ruling world elite. This is scary in a way that only classic slabs of punk can be!! It also paints a very disturbing vision of our world today! Killing Joke masters of the dark side have been around for 25 years! So tell me how the fuck can they come back and create this fucking monster at this late stage in their career? It shouldn't happen!, but fuck it did! It shows if you really got the guts and determination and your fucking hungry and extremely angry you will never totally lose it! This band on this release are a true benchmark on the hardcore punk, nu-metal, noise attack or whatever you wanna call it...scene? 'Killing Joke' is a classic in the truest sense of the word. This 11 tracker is a pounding relentless juggernaut of primal instinct and vibe! Those booming beats that send the chill down your spine on more than one occasion don't come much better than this. All the noise freaks out there should listen to this coz you'll undoubtedly be rethinking your strategy! This is an awe inspiring record and will go down in punk folklore for a very long time to come. All the phony anger and so called hardcore sounds around at the moment seem utterly insignificant alongside this baby. Killing Joke create a noise landscape that's so addictive and tense it's disquieting. I can see some of these anthems littering countless movie sound tracks for decades. It's that big in scope yet so compact in delivery. The big difference between Killing Joke and all the rest is they have an ability to grasp a tune amongst the depth of rage. Jaz Coleman's vocals are fucking outstanding, from his sinister almost hypnotic chants to his perverse whispers and finally his downright demonic outbursts that are enough to create a mass frenzy of exorcisms across the Christian globe. He's the 'Loose Cannon' every band seeks. The diversity in delivery is compelling. Check out 'Total Invasion' as the slime drips off his tongue or the almost monk like expanse of 'Implant'. He also has a gifted knack for creating a backdrop of keyboards that really give an unworldly feel to the tracks. But Killing Joke's biggest weapon has gotta be Geordie's BIG guitar bombardment. The tension he creates is this albums major power surge! They are fucking deadly with every stroke, and I don't say deadly in a flippant kinda way either. He can unleash some fucking masterful power chord frenzy with ease, simple chord structures but immensely effective when heard at this level. They resonate your speakers giving us that Killing Joke trade (mark of the beast). A sound only Killing Joke can create! New boy on the drum stool Dave Grohl ex-Nirvana plays a blistering role. His powerhouse drums dictates a fucking gigantic tribal rhythm section that harks back to stone age times. Loud, precise and brutal! And along with Youth's bass tracks hiding well within the psycho textures adding a suppressed violent hum to the undercurrent. The bass only really comes to the surface on their best track and possibly the most commercially haunting, 'You'll Never Get To Me'..."survival is my victory". However everyone of the tracks has something different to offer. They're all ultimately powerful and as important as DNA itself. A word should go to the producer, Andy Gill ex-Gang Of Four. He's done an ingenious job in containing these bleeding demons and capturing em on tape with such accuracy. He not only produced this demon, but he also co-wrote all the tracks with the band. So I suspect his producing bookings will soar after this hits the fan. They're touring right now and going down a storm featuring only a handful of tracks off this album, so you can see the vast quality of this bands repertoire. All that's left to say is get this album NOW before impact! Cheers to Welshy for chucking it my way, yet again I'm in your debt!. PUNK ROCK CLASSIC! www.killingjoke.com
THE SUSPECTS DC
'Courtesy Flush Version1.0'
I spotted these outsiders at the recent Birmingham punks picnic where they went down like a lead balloon. The following morning as I viewed the wreckage of my pockets I spotted this disc amongst the grotty flyers and loose change. All I got is the track lists on the label, a blurry unimpressive recollection from the previous nights performance and a web address that dont work? Which don't exactly give you any more clues? What I do know is The Suspects DC hail from Washington DC (never!!!) and deliver 11 no thrills buzz saw punk ditty's that show little imagination and flair in today's multi facetted scene. If this band dripped mohawks and studs they'd probably get a minor cult following, but as they don't and have to rely on their music alone thing's don't look too bright for em! The singers gotta kinda funny growl to his unstable vocals, but their one big innovation on this demo was a peculiar use of a haunting synth, adding a synthetic string sound to the background rhythm track. It sounded like Ultravox's electric violin which IS very novel in today's punk scene, but I somehow don't think the kids are gonna get too excited about that these days! The Suspects DC still sound very much in the demo stage, even on the 7 non-demo tracks! So if they do get anything out properly I hope it's way more produced than this. The drums are way too loud in the mix, and the guitars are too low most of the way. They cover the Ramones 'Suzy Is A Headbanger' showing I suspect their major influence. The bands signatune 'Were The Suspects' carry's on that short, sharp, shock treatment complete with the ever present surreal synth. Their best track easily of the 11 on show was 'Dirty Punk'. Now this mid-paced stomper did show promise with a good snotty chorus..."gonna get me a BIG BIG BIG car, driving so far up your boulevard" . They could certainly make a way bigger impact on the punk scene with more songs of this calibre so fill her up Jacko! AVERAGE