'Bound & Gagged'
(mad20004) 45 2000.
Riotgun are a 3-piece from Fullerton, California which seems to be a breeding ground for a healthy dose of punk bands lately. They kick off this six- tracker with a good cover of the Dead Boys classic 'Sonic Reducer'. A choice cut to cover which bodes well for em in the Wolfs Lair! This is my favourite Dead Boys track and shows that Riotgun have taste as well as guts, for they do it proud!!! Their own songs keep up the momentum in true sonic style on 'Reclaimed' which is all about taking back everything they took away. The last track on side 1 'Doin' My Time' was however less rivetting, and pretty much naive in the lyrical department! Have these boys really been banged up or have they been watching too many Alcatraz movies? Well the actual track itself was a bit too laidback and didn't show the zap that the earlier tracks displayed. Pity Side 2 didn't kick off at all, coz for some unknown reason it didn't wanna play on my turntable? There must've been a pressing fault in the ringpiece of this record so on what I heard I'll give em the benefit of the doubt. WORTH A LISTEN for the first two tracks. Good cover as well. Check out their site at www.riotgun.com or
MadSkull Records at
'New American Hardcore'
(mad20006cd) CD 2000.
Hardcore, Hardcore, ardcore...fucking Hardcore!!! This is more of the same. I love their name and the brilliant artwork on the cover so why ain't this CD living up to my initial excitement? An excitement that quickly drained away after an handful of plays and became so fucking predictable!? Chanty choruses barked out by burly looking geezers are ten a penny these days. You've gotta have something extra special to stick out in the punk crowd unless your names Agnostic Front. Well hate to be the negative but Positively Negative ain't really found their positive yet. They're certainly a fast, tight playing hardcore band from Seattle, but what else does that tell you? Not much...'Patriotic Bullshit' starts off with an uncharacteristic great little riff that's straight from the Skids for few brief seconds can yer believe? It made me think "hey maybe I was wrong about these geezers after all!", alas it was soon back down to business as usual with more Hardcore!!! 'Burning Bridges' was more like it, and has a good chorus with Johnny Negative on vocals actually making an attempt at singing. See it don't hurt one bit to put a bit of effort into getting a tune together does it Johnny? 'Bastards In Blue' is yet another song about cops, but has some good lyrics questioning their real role in society. And here's me thinking Starsky And Hutch were entertaining. 'Do Not Wanna Live' is one of their better tracks, and has a slight Minor Threat style to it, which makes for a much needed respite from this 'New American Hardcore' on show. The mammoth 'Point Blank' brings into the spotlight Positively Negative's well crafted musical prowess, which was never in doubt. It's probably one of my favourites ending on a great dose of feedback, which sends us nicely into interesting sounding 'Cant Fuck The System When The Systems Fucking You!' , but the song itself was a white elephant and just more of the same hardcore, only this time with some metal thrown in which I could live without! They then do one token cover of 'Plastic Bomb' by Poison Idea. Gotta admit I've never actually heard this before so can't comment, but it sounded alright to me, especially with those "whooargh!" backing vocals that reminded me of Naked Raygun for some unknown reason. On the whole though another pretty AVERAGE hardcore album.Mad Skull Records
4 PAST MIDNIGHT
'Mental Ward' EP. Advance tape 2000
This is a 4-track promo tape by one of Scotland's punk veterans 4-Past Midnight following on from their highly rated CD 'Jesus Christ it's...4-PM'. Pete the singer/drummer and songwriter and the only surviving member from the bands 1989 birth is a dedicated fucking drummer, composer and singer!!! What makes his dedication all the more evident and deserves respect at least. The title track 'Mental Ward' is the slowest but best track of the four on show and builds up from it's simple but addictive beginnings into a rumbling crescendo of "Mental Werd...where there's no escape for you!" A song all about the bullshit governments dish out. What I like about this band is they know a tune or two and manage to come up with at least a couple of standout tracks on every release. 'Victim' and 'Killer' were more run of the mill faster blasts of scuzzy guitars and powerful rhythm sections which were pretty ordinary. 4-Past Midnight who ain't the happiest punks on the block also manage to paint a pretty fucking dismal picture of real life scenarios. I bet this band are fucking fun to be on tour with? And this morbid fascination really comes across on the other prominent track 'No Excuse' that deals with the sickening subject of child abuse. A lot of their songs are fucking depressing for want of a better word but they plant the message which sadly needs to be said coz this kinda thing does go on. They've just lost their bass player coz he couldn't stand the bleak humour but should be gigging around the UK sometime to promote this latest edition to their expanding catalogue. Depressing, stark, reality that's out on a gravediggers label (Weird Records) would you believe in August!
WORTH A LISTEN For more info
'TV Generation' (pp058) 45 2000.
More French hardcore from the Panx label with more of a pop edge! Outface are a zany bunch who are capable of blitzing their way through all 8 tracks with ease. Youthful energy is in abundance and these kids don't need articificial stimulants like amphetamines coz it's already built in. Pity they have that nasty habit of speeding up and then slowing down which is always frustrating for me! Prolonging a few more of their adventurous riffs would have given this a bit more character. I can see these appealing to the more poppier University campus type of crowd. They sing in French and English but the subject matter was pretty quirky in the translation. One of the better tracks was all about calouses you get on your hands from playing your bass too much or was it playing with yourself? Whatever, even with a lyric insert I couldn't quite keep up with what the fuck they were screeching about. My favourite track was the instrumental
'Adrenaline' with it's arabic guitar that slid into a fast, short, sharp, shock of a track. With a more interesting vocal they reminded me of very early Millions Of Dead Cops for a very brief moment in time. AVERAGE Available for $5.00 from Panx Records
'The British Punk Invasion Volume #6' (HS122) CD 2000
The latest offering from the German High Society series of punk compilations. And it's a good mix! Those sickly pop-punk bands that seem to have hogged these comps for so long are nowhere to be seen, and have been put aside for a more snottier crowd, thank gawd! Acupuncture All-stars get the show on the road with some clever streetwise songs most notable being the grotty 'Chip Shop Alley'. It's great to hear a song riddled with real life situations on the UK's guttural society for a change. I think these have been around before in some early incarnation back in the 90's when the NWOBNW was on the go and full poseurs. So maybe that accounts for a couple of their songs being way too tame? But their early Jam styled riffs and song structures seems so fresh to hear these days, especially with a clean production. They're definitely at their best when they forget to impress anyone and concentrate on their soho anthems like 'Family Jam' and 'Pop star'. And Simon Dudfields cocky UK vocals are a great asset to have in a band at the moment. Scotland's Chinese Burn took some plays to get into, particularly the frog-like vocals of Ralph Todd. But given a fair chance he comes out with his own style that's hard to achieve these days, plus some pretty smart tunes help no end. Take a song like 'NO KO'. for instance. Some good tunes are on display too which was a nice surprise, as I was expecting some American plundering. Their best number the infective 'If Only' which boasted some atmospheric riffs and a chorus to match. IDK are the only band on here I've heard previously. And they submit 5 of their tracks from the demo CD they sent in last year. They seem to have beefed up the production stakes from somewhere? So they fit in well with the rest of this comp. IDK bring their brand of brutal East End street punk to a wider audience, which for a handful of tracks ain't too bad. Their best number the corny but catchy 'Keep On Rockin In The Free World' is a good song but they need to progress more. Monkey And The Mighty Disciplinarians was a big surprise. It turns out it's Monkey from the Adicts fame backed those Santa Barbara Anglophiles The Derita Sisters And Junior. Between em they produce a staggering 9 tracks of upbeat punk. Nodding in both directions to the Adicts with an unhealthy dose of Deritas guitar riffs ain't a bad collision. Mark Gilmans ability to poach a tune in full flow is remarkable. Great chanting choruses thrive in the mid-paced melee of songs like the addictive 'Jenny Zero' and it's
"Jenny Jenny generation Zero". And 'Tears' with the "whoahwhoahwhoaa's". My only problem was Monkey's vocals were a touch low in the mix on some tracks, but you can still hear those celebratory Adicts themes without too much trouble. There's an unmistakable Buzzcocks feel to 'Holy Ghost' without it being tribute weary. However best tracks was the classy 'Jealousy' complete with wurlitzer organ followed by the brilliant 'Wired Up' and 'Ugly Ron'. Probably the best band on here by about 20 years coz this is how the real pop punk sounds. However that ain't quite it coz rank outsiders The Cherry Reds are in with a shout and totally new to me? They sound like they've just jumped out the early 80's on their '70's Boy' with it's punchy 3 chord chorus. They then change decades and direction and come out with the modish but blindingly good 'Summer In The City' that should be a big hit this summer in the Top Twenty but who am I kidding in this age of hype and shite. They then switch gear yet again with '4 Walls' that has the sometimes laughable vocal harmonies that make yer sick to the gut, but no these actually really work. The Cherry Reds sure ain't a band you could call one dimensional and they give a fresh approach to this thing we call punk which is great to hear in this day and age. Next track the pharmaceutically approved 'Pheremone Junkie' boasts another beefy chorus in keeping with their sort of sound 60's/70's sound. They end their pounding set with the crafty cockney vocals of 'Lah De Dahs' that sounds like it came out of some swinging sixties movie. Great new band!!! This 31 track compilation is a fucking well sussed mix and well WORTH A LISTEN HIGH SOCIETY RECORDS email@example.com
or available for £7.50 postpaid from Know Your Product PO Box 15, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP2 8RY, England.
(imb6001) CD 2000.
"Intense grindcore terrorists" so the press release tells us. As soon as that hit me I knew this was gonna be a fucking chore to review without just filling this paragraph full of abuse and expletives. Yeah I've heard a lot worse but this kinda genre does absolutely nothing for me whatsoever!!! It's too fucking samey. The drumming and Urrgghh!!! vocals sound the same on every fucking track...is that good? Napalm Death are a major influence and one too many for my liking, which means 10 tracks of fucking 'Mundane Existence' for the listener. Don't anyone realise Napalm Death were one of the most overrated acts ever to crawl out of the drabness of Birmingham since the Zulu Warriors! I.O.D. seem to be a manufactured kinda studio band on this recording that probably won't
make it outside Spaghetti Junction if we wanna save the world from misery. This is just a fucking monotonous drone of stolen riffs from Discharge et all but without the power or the snot. Thank fuck it's only 18 minutes long! PLASTIC
'The Same Sunday...'
(pp056) 45 2000.
First I'd heard of these Homeboys and from the name alone I had an idea what this was gonna
be like. It's mid-paced French hardcore with melodic backing vocals and a pissed off singer. Well that sounds pretty good to me, but these sound far too safe somehow. They remind me of bands like W.O.R.M. and their ilk, or a 100 other sickly bands doing this sort of sound! The Green Day copyists are still pumping em out but not a patch on the original! The production is pretty tinny as well, which is a turn off. The four songs are like you'd imagine, personnel angst which is hit or miss! Side B kicks off with their best effort a track called 'Last One Part 2' which shows they're capable of making a interesting sound with some experimentals goings off in the intro. It had enough different styles to make it standout from the other production line tracks. Comes with a lyric sheet which is all in English but the cover was really bland maaan! AVERAGE. $5.00 from Panx Records BP 5058, 31033 Toulouse, Cedex 5, France. or
'The Best Of The Partisans'
(ahoy103) CD 2000
This CD is a 20-song package giving you a sniff of some of the best Partisans tracks and more than enough of their blander ones. From a short but snotty career in the back hills of Bridge End in the early 80's UK punk scene, to the streets of London and ultimate fade. It is a good cross-section of the bands career. The Partisans seem a lot more influential now, than they ever were back then. Just take into account the bands name emblazoned on the backs of punks leather jackets all over the US for confirmation of that fact. However when the band were actually around 20 years ago they were a pretty lightweight punk act that made up the numbers alongside the bigger, older, more hard lined acts like Exploited, G.B.H. and Discharge. But in retrospect tracks like 'Arms Race' (my favourite track) are still fucking good and still very relevant today with it's sinister infectious guitar riff!
'Police Story' is another one that has that defiant yell in the face of authority, and gave the band a Dr Martin boot in the door of the UK Punk scene for good. For a bunch of youngsters (probably the youngest punk band on the gig circuit at that time) they had a lot of suss, but were still dogged by a few punk by numbers tracks in between the really good uns. Songs like 'No U-Turns' that you'd heard so many times before underlined that problem. But hidden amongst the so-so tracks are songs like the brilliant '17 Years of Hell' , that totally eclipsed their naivety. This is a fucking great track building up into a double fingered attack on everything that seems to hit the teenager in the face. It's done with conviction and paints a vivid picture of what it was really like in Britain. 'Power And Greed' shows us a hint of what was to come, with it's more restrained approach but with a knack to create a classy chorus. I never really rated Spikes vocals that much, they were too one dimensional for me, but they more than suited these earlier songs a treat. Halfway through this collection their signature 'The Partisans' signals a big maturity in their style. Spikes singing was developing more and Andy Leyland's guitar was expanding no end. This wasn't the only thing that was about to change in their career. Louise on bass left coz of squabbles with boyfriend/guitarist Andy. So they got in some geezer (who went onto fame in Bush) and relocated from their South Wales roots to West London, where they smoked dope and became a second rate Clash, 'Give Em Enough Rope' period. Take a listen to 'Only 21' for confirmation and the superior 'Anger And Fear' , which is probably their best track from this era. This newer more slicker sound with duel guitars got em rave reviews by easily pleased reviewers, but left me feeling they'd lost their spark. They had slowed down and began to compose more complicated songs like 'Blind Ambition' that got em radio play, but couldn't quite capture the rawness and urgency of their earlier attacks. 'Change' was another good track but not enough to keep em afloat coz by the mid-80's they had fizzled out full-stop. AVERAGE Captain Oi!
PORTRAIT OF POVERTY
'Poor Princes Of Punk Power'
(mad20003) 45 2000.
The Madskull label seemed to be pumping out quality releases without fail lately, although this 5 tracker suffers from a tinny, low-fi production. It played better when I raised the volume dial so maybe it's just the way it's pressed. Whatever the case I have to admit this ain't my favourite style of punk. Shawn Durand's vocals are too far removed from the memorable school of punk singers to give em an identity of their own like on the first track 'Rich Uncle Pennybags'. For an energetic hardcore band like these you've gotta have a good vocalist that stands out from the crowd and the guitar frenzy, these don't! 'Fake' was up next and was by far the bands best track. I like it's catchy fast chorus reprimanding the fakes in the punk scene with some good observations. But those duel screechy fucking vocals by an even worse singer than Shawn let it down badly. Side two gives us 3 blasts with the compulsory touring song 'Check Ya (500 miles)' kicking off in a surprising poppier style in sound at least. The blitzing 'RoadRage' up next is as you'd expect...raging and was pretty fucking speed of light standard flair coz they seem to have swallowed punks amphetamine drug cabinet whole without reading the small print. Last track was a disjointed unpredictable bloody mess! Comes in a smart cover but overall a pretty AVERAGE sounding EP.