SNOTTYNESS... Punk Rock Classic - World Contender - Worth A Listen - Average - Plastic - No Future
MERE DEAD MEN 'Lets Do It' (stepcd152) CD 2004
These scouse label whores must've had their gear out on every reputable punk label in Europe over the past 15 years, and now it's the turn of Street punk stalwarts Step 1 who do a great job on packaging. If you ain't already familiar with MDM then you should be thoroughly ashamed of yerselves. They've been around since the dawn of time (late crustacean period) and play their punk rock with a vintage sheen and a rock 'n' roll swagger. A style that makes em positively unique in this noise core era. They're fronted by the peroxide Mandy who stares out at us on the sleeve with almost Toxteth aloofness. She delivers her songs in a severe, no messin vein that'll leave schoolboys whimpering in terror at the foot of the stage, and the big boys cooing like baby's by the bar. She's partnered in crime by the token Brummie of the outfit, Rob. He supplys the chords, keyboards and the male vocal chords. They seem to be making full use of the co-vocals option on this 12 tracker, adding an extra texture to the songs. As always the faithful rhythm section of Richie (bass and extra guitar) and Mandy's other half Rag on drums keeps the punk glam wagon right on course as it hits all out assaults, or  medium paced grinders, through to moody perspectives. MDM have a diverse range of subject material, stemming from their veteran days in the punk scene. But they kick off by paying homage to CBGB's on the opening 'Lower East Side', which despite a gritty intro don't quite work. However the gnarly 'Mr Angry' "Bang Bang your dead!" was a lot more like it. They slow it all down for the atmospheric come uppance of 'What Goes Around'. 'Ken' inspired by the sad plastic life of Barbie's side-kick in kiddy crime, was a suprise hit. Coming in with quirky 80's keyboards, and a tongue in cheek chorus. It's followed by some very British children's TV hits from the past 'n' present that makes up 'This Ones For The Kids'. 'We Were There Too' is an infectious poignant look back at the early days of the Liverpool punk scene, done in a teary eyed but defiantly stylish way. Even Billy Idol got turned down by a young Mandy! But the standout track for me has gotta be the quirky and compulsive 'Little Cars'... "playing shit music, all around the town". A great simple riff put to a jerky back beat gives this track great potential for a wider appeal, as it rips the piss outta the boy racers in a town near you. They go out with a bang on the last track 'Bad Girls', where mean Mandy delivers a no holds barred personal manifesto if she's ever riled up. Always good to see MDM still doing what they do best...playing British punk rock, so look out for em on tour playing a toilet near you very soon. WORTH A LISTEN or check out their site at

7 Track Demo CD 2004
This was a nice suprise that came totally FREE with the otherwise disappointing Initonit zine. I'd seen the band name slinking around the current UK gig scene for quite a while, and having never caught em live I liked their no compromising approach. Well as you'd expect this is 7 tracks of in your face dual screaming tirades and very angry rants. It's all spat out in a manic pace and with complete conviction. They produce a sound that can catch you off balance by throwing in some free form jazzy twists that adds a certain appeal to the in house intensity. No real standout tracks to write home about, but the intro to 'Dead 49-75' was an hilarious piece of agitprop theatre. The tracks just simply blur into each other like protesters at a Mayday riot. Fuck Hate Propaganda often sound like a bunch of pseudo intellectuals with music degrees letting rip their inner turmoil with astute lyrics attacking the Church, Government, Ghetto and Globalisation. Maybe we can just bear to hear yet another take on all this crap that effects our world and lifestyles, but at least these fuckers show signs of originality with their innovative deployment and styles that they create within each track. The playing is exceptionally tight and together and comes with big noise core blasts, together with intricate fretwork adding some effective little touches. Reminds me of some of the more early 80's melodic anarcho punk in places, then again they just let rip a big thrash workout to demolish all your preconceptions. I bet their gigs are sweat boxes of energy coz you can tell from this taster these are a band in prime crust mode fuelled on anger and anarchy. Pity it just don't gimme the urge to wanna play it on a regular basis. Comes with a full lyric sheet. AVERAGE FREE from

CROP KNOX 'Rock And Rot' (pc34lp) LP 2004
The highly anticipated debut album from San Francisco's promising young punk outfit greets us with a blood-soaked shattered Gibson sleeve, and comes on shitty brown/green splattered vinyl. As far as looks go they could've just walked straight outta Punk Lives with bullet belts, spikes, mohawks and studs staking their claim amongst the local graffiti. I bet they hated posing for those shots. And the sound they create is as you'd expect. Full on raging anthems of pissed off pogo punk done at a breakneck speed but with little shots of finesse for good measure. But what im thinking and presumably you too, is can these kids create enough of an identity for themselves sound wise, to make em stick out from the legions of other similarly charged spiky tops? Well what you can tell by this 12 track prototype is there is a definite aura about the Cropknox. They've got something worth your attention that bands like the Casualties lack. They got a singer with a neat vocal who don't scream or grunt, but he could be way more imposing if he took more control. They got some really gifted guitar interplay that gets used to the max. And the rhythm section ain't here solely for decoration, they keep the vibe on a punk core level with a heads down conviction. But what they really need more of is... time! The 'Rock And Rot' live for today ethic is great in theory, but leaves em with a rushed release that don't do em total justice. They need more time to fester and fully harness their snotty El Cerrito anthems for a whole albums worth of material. They ain't quite managed it this time out, with half the tracks falling below the quality of their significant high spots. Talking of which 'No Hope In Sight' is a track with it's second guitar depth seeking probe showing a natural knack for good tunes. 'Bleak Society' also has a juicy guitar break that nods to Steve Jones and Mr Thunders in direction. But we had to wait for the end of side 1 for their penultimate track. 'Rebel Youth', (yeah I know that same old cliché rears its ugly spotty head again) but this epic comes complete with sprawling guitar signatures reminiscent of Blitz at their peak. The Cropknox have that Blitz feel in the song and chorus without it being a parody. Pity there ain't more tracks like this one, coz then they really would've stamped their blackmail brand on the arse of the current punk scene. But these are young punks in progress, they got the energy, they got a good label backing em and they're hungry to get their set out to a baying world of like minded American youth. So maybe naivety really ain't such a crime? They wisely make full use of their previous 'Just Can't Live'  EP, coz that did boast some of the most outstanding tracks they've written to date. But this is a band whose throwaway lyrics about society ills can safely fall back on the solid duel guiitars to really propel this band forward. They end with a very good version of an old Riot City track 'East of Dachau' by the Underdogs, which works very well within this albums 21st century soundscape. I'm sure this is gonna sell well but for the band this must be a learning curve and time to work on and knock out that follow up killer album they merely hint at on this session. The Cropknox are currently touring the US promoting this album so why not check em out for yourselves coz we need a new solution! WORTH A LISTEN
Punkcore For more info go here
'The Process Of Elimination'
[DSR-1-01] CD 2004
Very impressive 22 tracker by the Scottish punk veterans. This is a memorable well executed piece of late 90's punk rock! Their songs mirror reality from off the sprawling housing estates of Strathclyde and from the pissed off kid in the street's point of view! Also with an eye on the world of crooked dealings, fucked up governments and self belief. Which has always appealed to me, especially if it's backed by some sussed lyrics and attacking angst-filled rifferama. A cliché maybe in punk today, but still essential! Sneddy the rhythm guitarist and dual vocalist is still the only original member from their late 70's Coatbridge conception. No mean feat and he proves his main-man status by being responsible for all the standout tracks on this platter. From the fast anti-killing stance of 'Standin on the UK' to the atmospheric 'Rude Awakening', that slows everything down to an addictive skanking beat with good rhythmic bass work. Ain't much of a skanking punk fan meself, but when bands like External Menace, and godfathers of this style The Ruts have enough suss to pull it off, instead of those irrelevant jokers who litter the scene today with puny attempts, it's fuckin great! So good in fact this comes close to the heights of the Strummer/Jones epic 'Armageddon Time'! But these Jocks ain't aping no-one, they deliver their own brand of punk in a credible way. However they do give a nod to Joey, Johnny and Jimmy while passing. Sneddy's vocals come complete with an uncanny Strummeresque quality. And you can tell he's seen it, and he means it. Which ain't taking nothing away from his younger counterpart Welshy. Welshy's been a real fan of this band from day one, so to take over when original vocalist Wullie got killed in a car crash was a dream come true. He repays them in kind with high energy vocals which suffer from an unhealthy enthusiasm giving the band a healthy shot in the arm. And he can write his own songs too, steering the driving riffs and hooks to their final destination. One example of a good collaboration is on 'These Pricks Are Wrong', which kicks in with a bleak view of life on the street by someone who has been there, instead of just reading about it! External Menace have got on this collection their own inventive sound. Which ain't no mean feat when you've had over 25 years of punk to contend with. I like the way they can expand their sound and ain't scared to break it all down to basics with some well arranged dropouts. It's a great asset in punk rock to strip it all back, before building back up into the inevitable crashing chorus's or big finale! Their blitzing simpler numbers are just as effective as the slower ones. The fast paced 'Don't Conform' is a prime example of crowd participation at gigs. And inventive touches Iike on the intro to 'Bullet Of Persuasion' that starts with a crackling transistor guitar riff humming away in the background as footsteps shuffle along the corridor with the ring of can getting pulled. Welshy asks Sneddy for a light? Before Sneddy reply's in red light brogue "Welcome to Jazz club!" This scrap of theatre sets the scene for a view on the gritty slice of standing up for your rights. Another amusing tirade precedes 'In this Time', by some madman nicked from a film who introduces us to the cutthroat world of here and now. It's followed by the outstanding 'Killing Me Asylum'. A song inspired by Sneddy's day job painting the local nut house. This is another interesting high standard skanka track from their bunker of riffs. The apt 'Seize the Day' is given another airing with Welshy's vocal taking on the original "you're sussed, you suck, you slimy little fuck" which I think is a corker of a line. As this classy album finally draws to a close having been given a decent reintroduction courtesy of Dr Strange, you'd think you'd had yer moneys worth. But no, we also get 7 bonus tracks, dating from the bands impressive 1997 'Seize The Day' EP and 1998's split single with Recharge. Both of which continue with high energy numbers and moody slower themes. Comes with a full lyric booklet, plus the bands history written by Welshy. Look out for External Menace on a US tour this summer in-between sporadic live sightings in the UK. UK CONTENDER