REVIEWS

The music....

ACTIVE MINDS - Two Sides Of The Same Coin EP - Loony Tunes
Still playing on and still fighting on as they have in unrelenting fashion for a few decades now. Active Minds should probably get far more recognition than they do as far as I’m aware! This six track EP finds them on fine form as they round on obscene wealth and the extreme poverty that it generates all over the world. The music is fast and furious as you will have come to expect if your familiar with the band, but the message is probably just as important. The clever cover art encapsulates all that this record is saying and is nothing less than I’d expect from these masters of a DIY Punk release. 

B.K.S – DIY TNT – Savage Wolf
When I see a 7” with 11 tracks, my interest is usually already piqued enough to buy a copy. When it turns out that each one is chock full of savage old-school hardcore attitude, which rips out of the starting blocks from the get go, I know I have chosen wisely. B.K.S have set their DIY TNT with a ludicrously short fuse and waste no time before delivering gobbets of thrashy hardcore to the masses. One foot is firmly set in U.S. East-coast 80’s thrash and the other is very definitely U.K. and very definitely right now. At times I am buffeted by a riff that has The Stupids through it like a stick of Dynamite, and turning on a sixpence there is a healthy dose of Pizza Tramp attack (6 Kicks 1 Kick is a great  example of both). Vocally B.K.S remind me of a slightly screamier James Domestic - No fucking about, straight to the point , ‘I am going to tell you this and you are going to sit there and fucking listen’ approach. And it works just as well here as it always does for the aforementioned Domestics. Up in your grill, skate-tinged thrash is the order of the day. It is no surprise then that their cover of Cro-mags Hard Times slots neatly into the overall vibe. Personal favourites are Space Force, which rips your face off before melding seamlessly into the Negative Approach styled chug of I’m out. 11 little fire crackers. Run fast, the timers almost up!
(Alan)
 
BUG CENTRAL - And The Fires Began 10” - Grow Your Own
Once again, Bug Central deliver the goods with a collection of rampaging, angry rants at modern-day life, the corruption of a capitalist system, the violence of the police and the mental stress it places on those of us just trying to survive. It’s a sadly accurate description of the troubles we’re facing all due to the greed, prejudice, privilege and entitlement that makes life so difficult of the majority, while the minority accumulate more than they can every use. However, out of the fury comes one call to arms, as ‘No Platform’ gives the punch the air chant of “Antifa!” The eight tracks are not all carbon copies of each other, but they flow nicely and all retain a certain fury. Bug Central are no one trick pony, they can do the straight ahead, fast, anarcho attack, but they can also ease up on the pace without the quality suffering; ‘Another Vegan Hipster’ reminds me of the UK Subs, while ‘The Fires Begin’ has an Armoured Flu Unit vibe to it, other songs include bits that remind me at various times of Discharge, Virus and Sanction This. Of course this has been lovingly put together with the usual care and attention of Grow Your Own Records; a full colour, fold out sleeve, a poster and stickers, plus it’s a 10”, a format I have always liked. This is another great release from Bug Central and GYO.
Grow Your Own (Tony)

CHARLIE HARPER & THE SUB MACHINE - Post War Punks - Time & Matter
Charlie Harper has just turned 77, but it seems there is no sign of him slowing down yet, thankfully. This is a two track double A-Side 7" with Charlie being backed by some young punkers who you may know from A-M-I and Ramonas. Inspired by the outspoken environmentalism of the fearless Greta Thunburg, and starting off with a piano intro, ‘Panic’ is a brooding wake up call beginning with Charlie's cry of "None so blind, as them that won't see, sacrifice your future, for the God and greed. Deforestation, and a rising sea, your homes are burning, but you still don't believe..."  'Post War Punks', is a little less serious, and comes from a dream about post punk sandwiches! Musically both songs remind me of some of the tracks on the UK Subs’ ‘Endangered Species’ album, and both pack a punch in their own way. The 7” will be limited to 300, hand numbered, copies which can be pre-ordered from the bandcamp page now. You have to admire Charlie's enthusiasm and longevity, and just hope that he still has more to offer us as we emerge from Covid isolation. 

THE DEFECTS - The Death of Imagination LP – Punkerama
Reformed Belfast Punks The Defects have been back with us a few years now and still boasting Drummer Glenn and front man Buck from their original line up have been putting out new recordings regularly. In fact, far more than the first incarnation ever did! This is the latest and carries on where the last one ‘Feed The Good Dog’ left off. Eleven tracks of tuneful and thoughtful Punk with a smooth, but crisp delivery that for any Defects fan is just what you want from them. Formed way back in 1978 when Northern Ireland was a dangerous place to be a Punk Rocker, The Defects are true survivors in my opinion and have stuck firmly with their Punk roots. Times have changed, but their approach has remained consistent and to the point in my ‘for what it’s worth’ opinion. When the masks eventually come off and this rotten Pandemic subsides, I hope The Defects will take to a stage with me present and give the tracks on this fine record a live blast! I would have a Defective Breakdown if they didn’t! My only gripe is that I would have liked a lyric sheet with this no-frills LP so I could have a bit of a sing along, but I guess they must be out there in a search engine somewhere!?! No download code either, for all you clever sods who like your music on a massive hard drive to preserve your vinyl! Either way this is a must for Defects fans all over and even if you don’t get the lyrics a nod of approval for the cover art by Matthew Thair, which is genuinely a decent painting, if a little grim!

DENY / CHØRNOBYL – Split 7” – Phobia, Dark Elk / Talk with your Boots / Cramda
Dead eyed sharks cruise a dark sky like zeppelins , raining bombs on a cold city of crumbling, empty-windowed tower blocks. This Dadaist nightmare in cover art could only ever herald the approach of thundering Swedish crust – and right enough, that is what you are in for. In this case Deny (who is was already aware of) and Chørnobyl (who I was not but should have been). Both bands deliver a payload of galloping  armour-piercing D-beat to tremble your foundations. Chørnobyl open the show with Army of Haters, which instantly reminded me of Misery by Bastard – which is no bad thing at all. They tear through 3 songs of grindy crust straight from the Skit System stable, saturated in distortion and delivering tales of woe as only the Swedes can. You will not be surprised at the mournful sirens and feedback as another city is levelled at the end of their side, but the addition of folky violin over the tumult gives it an eerie edge. Deny pare back the grind, but positively load on the D-beat, with a smattering of anarcho moments in some of the chant along choruses. Who can you Trust contains the ghost of Disfear’s Powerload (again, no bad thing!), and Doom spring to mind in the rollicking D.B.D. I love a bit of crust and this is a bleak and war-torn listen for sure. Full of all the bits you would anticipate, but also some new tweaks and tricks to escalate the genre arms-race. If this is your jerry can of petrol, I strongly advise popping out and getting a copy. You might want to stay in the shelter till the sharks bugger off though.
DENY (Alan)

DIAZ BROTHERS - s/t/ LP - Boss Tuneage
I was both excited, and a little worried about this album; I loved HDQ and have also been friends with Neil Cox for many many years, so Golly and Neil being in a band together felt like a dream come true, I just wanted to love it. However, what if… There was no need to worry, this is a brilliant record. The presence of Dickie Hammond hangs over the album, and Golly’s voice crackles with emotion throughout, and I’d say this is his best vocal performance since ‘Sinking’. The songs may be rooted in sadness, anger and confusion, they may be melodic, but they are powerful, with an energy coursing through them. I usually like my music stripped down, short, fast and to the point, but here the songs are layered and not one of them is under 2 minutes 45, but I am savouring every second, and I have been playing this over and over. Many years ago HDQ stayed at my flat after a gig in Winchester, and I still remember their friendliness and Dickie’s non-stop talking; just thinking of that night still makes me smile. Not long after that I went through a difficult time and I remember sitting alone in that flat listening to HDQ on repeat, Golly’s words helped me sort out the confusion in my head. I hope the writing and recording of this album has helped Golly and the rest of the band in some small way; it won’t bring Dickie back, of course, but his memory lives on for those that knew and loved him, and now those memories have the perfect soundtrack.
Boss Tuneage (Tony)

DIM PROSPECTS / FLOWERS IN CONCRETE - Split LP - Noise Appeal
This record came to me via punk post from Dim Prospects guitarist Mops, via my good friends Rich and Geraldine. It’s a route that Mops has kindly used to keep my upto date with the post Target Of Demand music he has released, and I am very grateful for that as what he is involved in is usually quality stuff. This is no exception, two great Austrian bands, blasting out melodic yet energetic punk rock; Dim Prospects kick things off with a speedy song that is full of melody and it certainly leaves you wanting more. Of course they don’t disappoint, there are four more songs following that explosive opener and they are all driving punk rock gems that at times remind me of Danger!Man. I have played these 5 songs a lot and they just seem to get better and better. Flip the record over and you get Flowers In Concrete, who keep the fast tunes coming; they have a sound the reminds me of Spermbirds with the odd flash of SNFU along with a more modern melodic hardcore sound. Their tunes are infectious, the guitars sound great and both bass and drums really power the songs along. This is a great split.

DISTANCE - Lockdown 2.0 EP - Bandcamp
With the dark nights and wet weather, Lockdown 2 hasn’t been as easy to cope with, but at least we get to have something new from Distance. Another four, straight ahead Discharge style ragers inspired by the pandemic and the effect it’s having on us all. Bloody great and perfect to ease those covid frustrations. Distance (Tony)

DISSTRAX - The Fix - self released
New(ish) Leeds band’s second single is a blast of punk rock noise to really blow away any thoughts of becoming jaded. The title track is a high octane bast that makes me think that this is what The Saints may have sound like if they were storming out of Australia today. It feels like Disstraxx have absorbed 40 years of UK punk and US Hardcore, let it ferment and have now unleashed the brew in a spew of crashing drums, driving guitars and slightly distorted vocals. And I bloody love it. The second song, ‘Obnoxiously Perfect’ sees them slow the pace a touch and add a bit of a heavy anarcho punk sound to the mix; it has more of a thumping beat, more distortion and feedback with a chorus repeating “I fucking hate snobs / I fucking hate you…” I have had these two great songs on repeat this morning, and I’m not ready to listen to anything else yet, it's ace.  This and their other two track release are available on their bandcamp page, so head there and pick both up, you won’t be disappointed.
Disstraxx (Tony)

DOGMA - s/t - Grow Your Own
In years of adversity, punk always seems to rise to the occasion and deliver against all the odds. 2020 has been a year like no other, but the ever reliable Grow Your Own Records have done their part to lift our spirits by releasing another fabulous record, this time from Canada’s Dogma. The songs aren’t particularly fast, but still feel vibrant and engaging, and they have an authentic anarcho sound, without ever feeling like a dated throwback. There are echos of early Instigators, Hagar The Womb and even Icon AD, which is always going to be a plus for me. Lyrically they cover subjects you would expect, but then these things still need shouting about, even if only to vent your own frustrations. As ever, GYO know that presentation is as important as the music, so you get a lyric booklet, poster and badge, so each release is something to cherish and value.  I have been playing this a lot since I got it, and I can’t see it being put to one side any time soon.

DOGSHITE – Mass Deception 10” / CD – Grow Your Own
If there was anything positive about the shitshow of the year that was 2020, it was Grow Your Own’s consistently great releases, and thankfully they have kicked 2021 off in fine style too. Battling covid, Brexit and broken printers they have still been able to deliver this wonderful red vinyl 10”. Dogshite released a great 7” on GYO some time ago, and don’t disappoint with this; their sound is definitely rooted in UK anarcho punk, but there is also a late 1970s influence evident, and ‘Sexual Exploitation’ reminds me of Menstrual Cramps. The songs are upbeat tunes, with great vocals and as you would expect from this label, the sound is spot on. GYO like to do as much of the process themselves, but as I mentioned they had some printer issues, so had to get the sleeves done elsewhere, but quality hasn’t suffered, this is still a stunning looking release. The CD (and download) version of this has lots of extra tracks, giving you the full Dogshite experience, so if you want the vinyl (and you should), then get it from their bandcamp site. 2021 may well still have it in for us, but at least we have Grow Your Own records.

EASTFIELD - Urban Rail Punk MP3
This is a hurried review written in my lunch break at work as my internet is off (Again!) at home.. Now I have a massive bias when it comes to the Punk and Rail mix, but let's just say this is great! Full steam ahead Punk Rock which tells stories in the lyrics. This is Blyth Power with the Punk thrown back in if you want a comparison. I've not done this justice really, but when the masks are off get to an Eastfield gig and join in.. When I get the CD this gets a proper review. Cheers Jesse you have the honour of sending me my first MP3 to review. 35 minutes of my 40 minute break spent trying to work out how to play it! (Gaz) 

GRAND COLLAPSE - Empty Plinths LP - TNS
This is the one! I have always really liked Grand Collapse live, and love their political attacks on all the fucking shit we are having to deal with, just so a handful of people can greedily hoover up more and more wealth, but have found the previous two albums a little “produced” for my more basic tastes. Obviously, they are both great political punk records, and show what a DIY punk band can achieve with the talent, commitment and hard work this band put into what they do, but I just thought those previous albums lacked a little of their live ferociousness despite being impressively outspoken (I fully accept I am in the minority with this view of the recordings). ‘Empty Plinths', as well as being an excellent name for a punk record, sees them retain that clear recording and Propagandhi style riffing, but capture more of that abrasive edge that makes them such a great live band. The fury in Cal’s vocals as he rages about the injustices that surround us is as unrelenting as ever, while the music is still heavy, fast, intricate and totally uncompromising throughout, and I think really showcases how good this band really are. Here’s to more empty plinths!
TNS (Tony)

HAZARD PROFILE - Slime EP - Kibou/Urinal Vinyl etc
While the world has been locked inside over the last year, and the streets have become quieter, there is a corner of East Anglia that has been ringing with the sound of punk rock, thanks to the seemingly insatiable desire of James Domestic to create a racket. Hazard Profile is another project to burst out of this cauldron of creativity, delivering five songs of exhilarating, straight ahead, blazing punk that is on constant repeat here at the moment. This time James has been joined by people who’ve done time in The Wankeys, Chaos UK, The Domestics, and most of the other projects James has brought to life over the past year or so. You could pick out influences, from both the UK and the US, but all that really mattered is that the music is fast, the lyrics are pissed off and it all sounds fucking great.
Kibou (Tony)

ICONS OF FILTH - Plight 10” - Grow Your Own
There has been some controversy about this release, due to the band using the Icons Of Filth name, which is a real shame because, whatever the rights and wrongs of that decision, this is a really good record. It sounds good and GYO have given it the usual fantastic packaging, including a really wonderful lyric booklet. Icons Of Filth didn’t affect me as much as they did many others in their original incarnation, and so maybe I don’t feel those strong feelings about this release, but I can understand that people feel this isn’t the same band and that this shouldn’t have come out using the name. I’m not sure I am in a position to comment on the decision the band have made, but maybe it could have come under a different name, with an ex-Icons Of Filth sticker, or whatever, and people may have been more receptive to the powerful music and message that you’ll find in these 8 tracks. Anyway, GYO have done a great job as they usually do, and if you are able to put aside all the stuff surrounding it (hard to do I know) then this is a really good sounding and looking release, and it’s a shame that some will miss out on a bit of a gem. 

INCISIONS - Bliss - TNS
The second album from Incisions is a storming release full of fury that explodes in your face. It’s heavy and fast, with a sound that gathers together the feel of both UK punk and US hardcore, I hear bits that remind me of Violent Arrest, Grand Collapse and even Pizza Tramp, as well as Black Flag, Poison Idea and Battalion Of Saints. However, this doesn’t feel derivative, it sounds fresh, exciting and urgent, with gravel throated vocals a rhythm section that really drives the songs along and great sounding guitars. Their first, self titled album was good, but this is another step forward, like their full rage has been unleashed. This is an excellent album.
TNS  (Tony)

JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – Tea Party Revenge Porn LP - Alternative Tentacles
This is a great album! Eight tracks of intense tunes from Jello & Co where he says it as he see’s it and calls out the culprits. Let’s face it - would you expect anything less? He also surrounds himself with a band who know how to make a great Punk album and they have brought their ‘A’ game to the studio with this release. Need anymore of a review to suggest you get this album?!! Nah! You know the score!

KISS ME, KILLER - 2020 Vision 10” - Grow Your Own
When I first saw this rather wonderful 10” I immediately though of Rubella Ballet, the bright, day-go art and vinyl was very reminiscent, and there are some similarities with the vocals and music too, but then as I listened I kept thinking of late 1980’s North East band DAN. But, Kiss Me Killer deserve better than easy comparisons as they are definitely a band for the 21st Century, with their own identity, and this record bounces along full of punk rock exuberance, wit, social comment and some damn catchy tunes. These songs really do get stuck in your head, the perfect antidote to the drabness that seems to envelope everything around at the moment. Any band who have songs about causing mayhem on Sports Direct, Lice, and slagging off Nigel Farage have to be good, right? RIGHT! Of course, you know that Grow Your Own have given this release some fantastic packaging; a full colour sleeve, that the Rezillos would be proud of, keeps the fluorescent vinyl safe and the equally bright lyric booklet makes sure you get the words right as you sing along, and you will be singing along. Just like Rubella Ballet and Hagar The Womb did in the early 1980s, Kiss Me, Killer bring some light and colour to a grey, troubled world, and just as I loved those two bands back then, I love Kiss Me, Killer now. 
      
KÖRD VÄRLD - Total Distortion EP 7” - Kibou / Cimex / Kangaroo
Another quality release leaves the Jame Domestic production line. Lockdown may have curtailed James’ ability to play live, but he has not let his creativity whither and die, he has been a machine. KÖRD VÄRLD is a two man project with James, who plays guitar and bass and sings, being joined by Charlie Claesson (Anti-Cimex, Partisans, Driller Killer etc) who bashes out, a thumping, no frills hardcore drum beat that hammer the in your face, stripped down punk rock stormers home. The band’s name translates as “Fucked World”, and song titles, ‘Ego Over Lives’, ’Paranoid', 'Empty Vessel' and the title track carry on the view of the bleak times that we living through. This is fast, it’s angry and it’s just what I need to hear right now.  
Kibou (Tony)

LAS RATAPUNKS - Fracaso, Año De La Rata 2020 7” - Kibou / Amok / No Front Teeth
Last year I stumbled upon this Peruvian band on-line and their stripped down, straight ahead punk really appealed to me; now these three labels have given a vinyl release to four of those storming, angry punk rock gems. I love the energy of these no-frills songs, there’s no messing about, they get straight to the point, with rapid fire vocals and lyrics about government corruption and apathy that allows global capitalism to thrive, enslaving millions; leaving you in no doubt on where they are coming from politically. The songs may be fast and raw, but there is still room for some catchy melodies as well. It’s nice to know that punk still provides a vehicle for social comment and vented frustration all over the world, and now more than ever those frustrations need to be unleashed and those that are destroying all that is good in the world need to be identified and exposed. Long live Las Ratapunks! 
Kibou (Tony)

MAU MAUS - The Enemy With LP - Boss Tuneage
I was a fan of the Mau Maus in their original incarnation, so when Boss Tuneage announced this release was on the horizon, my pre-order was in as fast as I could type out my details. With two original members, and despite the photos showing the band looking a bit more grizzled these days (don’t we all?), the five new songs on side one show that the band have lost none of their speed, energy or bite. The first song, ‘Side By Side’, has a real early Cockney Rejects sound, which is good, but after that the rest of the new songs sound like you would expect Mau Maus to sound. They may have a new singer, but that hasn’t altered the sound of the band at all, the resemblance is uncanny, something that becomes clear when you flip the record over to hear the re-recordings of 5 old favourites. I did kind of like the sound of those cardboard box sounding drums on the original recordings, but I can’t deny that these old songs, have been given a new lease of life (and the drums sound way better); ‘Give Us A Future’ is still a punch the air blast of exhilaratingly primal punk rock. This could have been a big disappointment for me, but it is in fact a triumph.
Boss Tuneage (Tony)

NERVOUSS / RATCAGE – Skopje Vs Sheffield – La Vida Es Un Mus
Fancy a bit of unrelenting, unrepentant Totalitar-fuelled noisiness? Of course you do, and both sides of this split 12” shovel it on with more urgency than back-filling a shallow grave in the woods when you hear a dog-walker coming. NervouSS arrive on the scene first and opt for the Doom vocal approach. This is front and centre on Gloom, a little cracker of a track, which would fit right in on War Crimes Inhuman Beings. It boasts a finger-spraining bass line to be in awe of, and if that weren’t enough all played at hyper-speed. A lot of the other tracks walk a delicious line between crust and hardcore. There is often a Disfear or Discharge vibe (Despair for example, with its Protest and Survive chug throughout), but the band that most often spring to mind is Chris Dodge’s short-lived (and underrated in my humble opinion) Burn Your Bridges. There are tempo changes galore and some proper riffage.
Expect Discharge influence aplenty, but D-beat by numbers this is not. Ratcage are in no mood to be outdone. There has been a lot of talk about this one-man noise machine of late, and as well as this being super speedy, it is proper noisy. The vocal attack is like having a steam iron of hydrochloric acid thrust into your mush, perhaps with some wire wool attached for good measure! In the best possible way of course. Again, there is a heavy Totalitar vibe, but riff-laden hardcore and some lovely hooks are never far from the surface. They/he rip through the opening tracks (Two to Eight being an absolute corker), before taking the foot off the pedal (just a touch) with Persecution, which is no less brutal as a result. Ratcage end with a storming version of Emotional Blackmail by UK Subs. When I saw it on the cover I wondered if it was going to work with their savage sound, but it really does! It is impossible to pick a winner in this international crust bout. Both sides bring their A-game and leave bloodied but unbowed – different enough to have their own distinct style but kindred spirits which help the record as a whole gel perfectly.
Much recommended!

NOFX – Single Album – Fat Wreck Chords
I really enjoy a bit of NOFX, always have. It is hard to dispute their longevity, DIY ethic, and downright stubbornness to deviate from their genius sing-along formula - and why the hell would they? It works! Along with the rest of the planet, 2020 has taken its toll on the band. This project started out on the path to be a double album, which influenced the way songs were written from the beginning, but due to everything the year threw at them, it ended up as a single album (hence the title). That explains some of the eclectic nature of what you get here, the rest is down to NOFX, and Mike in particular’s, collision course with middle-age. This record finds them wiser, passed the crest of the hill, and face to face with their own mortality freewheeling down the other side in the metaphorical shape of a parked concrete truck! It is bleak! NOFX are no strangers to light and shade, there have been increasing journeys into heavier subject matter on recent albums – Generation Z on Last Ditch Effort, or USA-holes on Wolves in Wolves Clothing for example. But this time it’s the whole LP. Gone are the joyous pop exuberances of Seeing Double at the Triple Rock, Moron Brothers or New Boobs. Don’t get me wrong; this is still unmistakably NOFX, in spades. Just spades of soil being shovelled over a coffin in a newly dug hole. The album opens with The Big Drag and lays out its desperation early. Mike’s vocals are hopeless – not out of key hopeless (you’re used to that by now, right?) - but existential angst hopeless, he sounds like a lost soul at times delivering exhausted nuggets of disastrous news and painful reminiscence. NOFX and Bad Religion have always been comfortable companions, often separated only by their vocal delivery and verbosity and this doom–laden approach brings the two tantalisingly closer together. The song is made more disturbing by the regular chord and key changes which make it difficult to know where it is going next. Overdosing, addiction (Birmingham), lost friends (Doors and Fours) are recurring themes as the band ponder on their youth and current ‘elder statesmen of punk’ status. They are all addressed here, like ghosts at the gig. Fish in a Barrel even fuses the uneasy bedfellows of laid-back reggae and mass shootings! If you don’t believe me about the bleakness, check out the YouTube video to I Love You More Than I Hate Me, where the band slowly and methodically top themselves at a pool party, overlooked and ignored by dozens of Benny Hillesque teens. Hefe swinging from a buffet filled veranda and Smelly sliding obliviously into a blood-swirled bath tub. It ends on a lingering shot of Eric Melvin’s corpse floating face down in a swimming pool as night fades. Yep – that bleak! But there is some light to the shade. Glimpses at least. NOFX trademark guitar riffs and skate park drum-thumping abound. And there are loads of the ubiquitous lyrical moments, which make you go, ooh, that’s clever. Mike has always been, and still is, a dexterous punner when it comes to writing songs, and some of the lyrics to Fuck Euphemism are inspired, as he sifts the complexities and pit-falls of gender politics. The highest moment of levity is, ironically, Linewleum, a song to put their greatest legacy and attractor of many imitators (Linoleum, from Punk in Drublic) out to pasture. It is probably the best song on the LP. The reworking and intertwining of the original and new riffs and lyrics show what masters of their craft NOFX are. A touching tribute to Steve Soto of the Adolescents on Grieve Soto, with the band’s expert blending of respect and humour is another highlight. The ghost of Amoeba’s melody drifts in as a eulogy at the end perfectly. Don’t misunderstand me about the darkness, this is a cracking album. After 17 Studio albums NOFX are damned if the change anything, and damned if they don’t. This is just a different approach, perhaps the one most suited to a post-Trump, mid-pandemic, environmental shit-show age. This is a grower. With the exception of the bits of Linewleum, which already are, there are possibly no showstoppers here - I don’t think there are meant to be - but there is a desperate honesty, which is rare and terminally refreshing.
Fat Wreck  (Alan)

NORTH CITY LAGER SYSTEM - Drinking Song EP
Norwich's finest street punk band released their 'Drinking Song' EP last year and it's an absolute blinder. Driven by Maff Steele's distinctive bass, North City Lager System have captured their live sound on this 4-track belter. You can tell they're just out there having a good time, as exemplified by the laughter throughout the four songs. I've never met Willa, but the spoken word intro builds such a picture that you feel you do know him. In fact, I'm sure we've all worked with someone like Willa at some point in our lives. It's a great excuse for a rendition of Sham's 'Sunday Morning Nightmare' as well. For me, the closing track 'Ale Not Kale' is the highlight of the EP. Brings a smirk to my face everytime I hear it. Singer, Mark, has taken the Curly-beat and ran with it. Briefly breaking into the Seekers' 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing', North City Lager System show they have the talent to turn their hand to anything. Well, maybe not healthy living. Needless to say, Johnny Scumhater's drums hold the whole thing together and Bill proves to be a very solid guitarist. The overall sound is bolstered by 2nd guitarist, Steven Cooper, and if I didn't know better, those guitar scrapes could have been supplied by Blyth Power's Jer Hatcher. Absolutely amazing! Hopefully I'll get to see these chaps in the not too distant future.
Reid. E. Ramone

THE PARTISANS – Anarchy In Alkatraz/No Future Demos 80-82 LP -  Sealed
Do Welsh punk legends The Partisans need any introduction or description of their sound? Not to those of a certain age that’s for sure and forty years ago this was one of the bands floating the boat of a couple of young Punks in an age before Suspect Device was conceived! It’s got to be the last of the last that can be dredged up from them surely?! If it is!?! What a fitting finale! Some of the tracks on this album capture the band before they even wrote the songs that made them part of Punk folklore as they cover songs by the UK Subs and the like. Other tracks are as the album title suggests – demo versions of some of the tracks that appeared on their two No Future singles and album. The energetic and unrefined sound produced here was to become one of the templates for what we all now refer to as UK82! The whole package here is a thing of great Punk beauty – white vinyl if you got in early and a fantastic booklet that contains some of the band’s memories, pictures and lyrics. One for the collector without doubt, but also a chance to listen to a raw Partisans with all the energy and enthusiasm of youth, while not giving any thought as to where it would all end up forty years later!
Sealed (Gaz)
 
PEDAGREE SKUM - Nightmares & Scream Escaped LP - Grow Your Own
Another furious onslaught of anarcho punk with Pedigree Scum spewing out their frustrations in lyrics that are both personal and political, but all concerned with trying to survive in our crazy world, all delivered with great vocals that remind me of Pauline Murray in places. Musically, the songs are both melodic and powerful, crisp yet driving, and while they may not always be the fastest, they zip along at pace, making them sound catchy and anthemic. The band have obviously absorbed the various styles and incarnations of punk from the very earliest days, through anarcho punk right up to the present day and have added influences they have picked dup along the way into their own sound to produce an album that I have been returning to pretty regularly. It goes without saying that GYO have done a fine job with the packaging and artwork. 
Grow Your Own (Tony)

PI$$ER - Carved Up For Yuks - Kibou / TNS / Cimex etc
The press sheet says “PI$$ER is unlike most other bands” and that’s a pretty good introduction. If you haven’t yet heard them, they usually add some groovy sax to their hardcore punk rock, which has made both their ‘Wretched Life’ 7” and ‘Crushed Down To Paste’ mini LP interesting and unique listens, and I have enjoyed both. Here, you get 7 songs taken from those releases, but they have been made even more weird and wonderful as James has applied lashings of reverb and delay to remix the songs. Initially I didn’t think I’d be listening to this much, I assumed it would be a good novelty record that would get the odd play every now and then, but maybe a year of working from home and not going out has missed with my mind, as I quite often select this to accompany me when work stress gets too much. Members of this band have done time in The Domestics, Doom, Anti-Cimex, Sore Throat, English Dogs, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Shitty Limits, Filaments, Partisans and Dis-Tank among many others, and this is the most unique band for all of them.
Kibou (Tony)

RUBELLA BALLET - Radio Sessions 1982-2018 – FOAD
Rubella Ballet have always brightened up the Punk scene with their Day-Glo appearance especially the drab black and white of the Anarcho scene from which they are always associated. It’s not just their colour, but their sound and outlook always appeared a bit brighter than the rest, although that’s not to say I disagree with what was and is still being said by many of the bands from that scene. Anyways this record is one for the collector and fan I guess as it features their John Peel Sessions from 1982 and 1983 and fast forwarding from those days to a session on ‘Part Time Punks Radio’ in LA 2018. All on a fantastic luminous pink vinyl and cover art in the same vein. Tangled Web at the end of side two is just a great track, worth it for that alone! 

RUKOUS – Kaikki Saastuneet Tuhotan – Kibou/ Cimex 
Ten full strength doses of distortion-saturated Finnish D-beat with the head-bobbiest hooks you can imagine! Rukous do exactly what it says on the logo – when you can decipher the logo from its cob-webbed bedraggledness that is – a Rukous indeed! From the moment the balloon goes up the guitars arrive like a legion of circular saws.  There is a grind vibe to the higher pitched snarling vocals, whirling feedback and general assault of many of the songs – occasionally it sounds a bit like a ZX81 and a fax machine are wrestling for attention in the background, such is the sheer ferocity (for the record, I like that a lot, but see the fade out of Synnvinhauta for example no. 1 if you don'r believe me) - but there is always a twist in the tune that frog-marches you straight back to classic Scando style D-beat. Verikoirat, for example switches lanes recklessly and without pausing for breath from rumbling crust to big old dirty ass chugging. The lyrics are in Finnish (naturally enough), so I can’t comment on song subject matter but you can bet your britches they slot in nicely with the skulls, hazmat suits, gasmasks, etc. on the cut and paste cover. Oh yeah! You know it has all of the above, and wailing sirens introducing Kaikki Saastuneet Tuhotaan straight out of the Anti-Cimex songbook to boot. Personal faves are the infectiously grindy Tannya Paskaa Pt 2, and the nod fest that is Kuolematon Ruoho, which to my damaged ears has more than a touch of Tragedy and Sewer Trench thrown into the mix. A beautifully deranged and magnificently raucous Rukous! Fans of Skit system, Deny, Svaveldioxid and many more will not be disappointed.
Kibou (Alan)

SPITE - Complete And Utter Spite LP – Boss Tunage
Spite formed in Bristol during the early 1990’s roughly, but given their sound and feel along with the City’s fine Punk credentials it could have been ten years earlier than that! They got serious about it all between 94 and 96 though and this great LP captures both of their EP’s released on Blind Destruction Records and a fine live set. The band featured ex Ripcord front man Steve Hazzard, Pete Rose on Guitar, his then girlfriend Beckie on Bass, who did a stint with none other than Chaos UK and John (Ripcord, Can't Decide, Dumbstruck, Violent Arrest) on drums who played with Pete in a half decent Discharge covers band. Not wanting to be Discharge Cabaret though and feeling they had a bit more about them they formed Spite! The rest as they say is history and about 25 years of it has passed since the band decided to call it a day. However! They’ve left us with some energetic and crunchingly powerful Punk tunes with John’s vocals barked out over the top of them. One for the collector it may be, especially as the two EP’s are now probably very rare, but make sure you give it a decent airing before filing it away on the Punk shelves in your house somewhere. Released on a very blue vinyl with a CD version included as back up for the car if you’re as old fashioned as me! 

TOKYO LUNGS - Soul Music - Kibou/Amok
The UK is now a one party dictatorship and Covid 19 continues to keep everyone inside and away from the things we like, so what do punks do? Well, they pour all that frustration into blazing punk rock songs. Tokyo Lungs are half of The Domestics, bashing out 24 songs in just 20 minutes; there is no time for any padding or filler, it’s just straight ahead, fast punk that doesn’t hang around waiting for your approval, it demands your attention. It is a glorious noise; the drums rattle away while James handles everything else; the guitar sound reminds me of early North America hardcore, and for some reason Toxic Reasons come to mind, although the songs are faster than theirs. This album gives James another outlet for his frustrations, and he doesn’t hold back, he gives the current shitshow both barrels, and like the music there is no time for philosophising or long drawn out theories, he gets straight to the point with a barrage of angry words. Let’s face it, the current state of the world should be a fertile breeding ground for angry punk rock, and Tokyo Lungs show that even if you cannot be in the same room as others, you can still make a loud, fast and pissed off racket, and make it available to all. This is how punk should sound in 2021.
Kibou (Tony)

ZERO AGAIN - Revert To Nothing 7” - Kibou
When a new band consists of old hands, it doesn’t take them long to get the ball rolling; so hot on the heals of the debut Zero Again EP, comes this snarling monster. This is heavy and angry, pulsating and pounding, it is bursting with menace and energy and although that first EP had its moments, these are the songs that really hit the spot for me, and the whole record is fucking great. There is a bit of Rudimentary Peni in there and some latter day Killing Joke, but the band that keeps coming to my mind is Endless Grinning Skulls; like EGS, they take cues from those old favourites, but bring the sound right up to date by injecting some 21st Century rage and urgency. This is on repeat here at the moment.
Kibou (Tony)

VARIOUS – Birds Of A Feather Vol.3 CD – Grow Your Own
Not content with spoiling us with the Dogshite 10”, GYO treat us to another great compilation of bands you may, or may not have heard yet. This one seems to include a few more heavier sounding bands, but they are all really good, and neither they, nor the less heavy bands, feel out of place on this compilation, and it shows the cool mix of bands and sounds we have to enjoy at the moment. Some, like 51st State, Dogma and Bug Central already have releases out on GYO, and of course Gary and Steph helped get the Sickness album released, but there are lots of bands I hadn’t heard yet, as well as a few welcome surprises (Haest, Drunken Marksmen, Zero Again for instance); bands you may not associate with GYO, but who’s DIY ethic and lyrical content fit perfectly. There are 25 bands featured, and nearly half of them were new to me, but I really enjoyed the different sounds. As with the previous two volumes of Birds Of A Feather you get a nice info/lyric booklet too. No bullshit detected here.

VARIOUS - Blasts from the Past – Network of Friends / Lärmattacke
For sheer pedigree, this LP cannot be beaten! When the track list includes unreleased demo and quality live tracks from the likes of; Mob 47, Heresy, Raw Power, So Much Hate, Rattus, Neuroot and Lärm, it is a must have. I can honestly say, every track is a sweat-drenched, boots in the air cracker! This comp collects the great and good from all across Europe during the 80’s and early 90’s and plops them at your feet like the best mix tape your coolest friend made you. Some are unearthed versions of tracks you may already know, but there’s also a whole bunch of new ragers. It is impossible to pick favourites because there a simply so many to choose from (Oh, Ok then – Raw Power - Fuck Authority, Crude SS – Leonid Var Röd and Bedrövlerz – Vi Hatar Dig really did it for me if I have to take sides). Yes, some of the tracks are raw and unpolished, but that only adds to the feel I had discovering a lot of these bands at the time, on battered cassettes in the car on the way to gigs to see some of the others play. Most survive on uncompromising velocity alone! There’s also a lovely insert with info on the bands, providence of the tracks, stickers etc. This LP comes with mixed emotions. Initially it provides a bit of much needed nostalgia and ferocity in these times of social isolation and 2m distancing, but then, on the flip side,  it documents a pan European scene we are now slightly divorced from due to Britain’s current penchant for blinkered navel-gazing. All in all, it is a perfectly pitched time-slip to remind us what we had, and to remind us to double our efforts and make sure we fight to keep British hardcore cemented with mainland Europe in the difficult days ahead. A network of friends indeed!
(Alan)

VARIOUS - Diggin’ Up The 90s Vol.1 LP - Amok
This is such a great compilation, featuring 16 bands doing what I love listening to most; stripped back, raw punk with untamed energy and enthusiasm. Just as the Bored Teenagers series has done for obscure UK recordings from the late 1970s, this compiles tracks from criminally ignored international punk releases from the 1990s, by bands like Ashley Von Hurter & The Haters, The Bloody Mutants, Menstrual Tramps and post Crudos band Fuck The Bureaucracy. The songs are straight to the point, fresh sounding and exciting, the sort of thing that people should have been listening to in the 90s rather than those over produced, over hyped, major label wannabe bands. Those bands may have made the money, but these bands that you’ve never heard of had the true spirit of punk flowing through their veins. This is 1977’s legacy, this is punk played by people who just want to play fast, have fun and sing about stuff that concerns them, or excites them, or whatever. Bands from The US, Canada, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland, France and Japan prove that punk has a universal appeal, and I love it all. Bring on volume 2.
Amok (Tony)

VARIOUS – Hunt Sabs Benefit Vol.2 CD – On The Run Wreck Chords
This is the second Hunt Sabs Benefit complication from On The Run Wreck Chords, and this time it has more tracks, although some of the bands appeared on Volume one as well. This time, you get to hear songs from both more established bands, as well as some relative unknowns, which is always a good thing, and alongside The Mob, Culture Shock, Zounds, Eastfield, C-30s, Virus, Dogma, Blyth Power, Inner Terrestrials you’ll get also get others that maybe new to you as they are to me. Not all the bands here play noisy punk rock, there is a bit of skapunk, some folk, acoustic songs and more noisy punk. Although not all of the music is to my tastes, all the bands are great, just for the simple fact that they have contributed tracks to help raise money for the Norwich and mendip Hunt Sabs and Hounds Off. Abrazos get to have one of our lockdown demo song included and I’m really happy that we are one this, and the first one,  as it’s a benefit that means a lot to us as a band. Head over to bandcamp and pick this up.
On The Run (Tony)

...The Message

EATEN ALIVE #59/A4/Price?
It’s been a while since I read an Eaten Alive, but I’m pleased to report that the Punk Rock chaos continues and the cut and paste layouts that are the mark of a true DIY zine prevail without any intervention by Microsoft! Good interviews with The Del-Chronics, Rats Arse and Combat Shock, who are making a come back with some unfinished business. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ which took bands to a musical final football style and ‘The Story of the Oi Albums’ is a decent view on their history and value in the bigger picture. Not sure how much the zine is to buy and get posted out so all the contact details are below. 
Derrick Moore, The Ed, 152 Heath End Road, Nuneaton, CV10 7JG
derrick.moore1@btopenworld.com or find Eaten Alive on Facebook (Gaz)

GREAT GIG MEMORIES - complied by Niall McGuirk and Michael Murphy - Hope Publications
There is a lot written about punk, most of it is irrelevant; it doesn’t really matter where it started, who was first and who took what from whom. What really matters is the affect it had on people, and what that inspired them to create and how it made them grow, this book shows that. It may just be a few people talking about gigs, and how interesting is that, really? Especially if you live nowhere near the places these gigs took place. Well, the enthusiasm of the writers, their stories and memories really resonate; the feelings they describe are ones that we will all have felt, and we’ll all have fond memories of seeing bands. When I read this at night, just before turning the light out, my head would be full of my own memories and experiences; images of bands and people flashed up in my head as sleep approached. The Clash and Ramones must have the most entries here, two bands that have had a lasting effect on young minds the world over. I never saw The Clash, but with each memory of a Ramones gig I was left thinking of a night in the mid 1980s, stood in the huge Brixton Academy, having my mind blown by the speed and ferocity of the first couple of songs they played. It wasn’t until the “hey ho, let’s go” chant in ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, which was the second or third song they played, that I was able to catch my breath and get my ears and brain tuned in. I have been to so many gigs since my first one in 1980, and so many memories that came flooding in as I read through this. On the cover, under the title of this book are the words “From Punks And Friends” and not all the bands talked about are punk, but the stories are still good, and although I may have been reading about an evening of Soul music, my mind still brought up gigs I’d been to; of actually feeling the music of Shutdown as well as hearing it, or thinking Siouxsie & The Banshees were the best band ever when they played ‘Spellbound’. I love this book, and the fact that sales of this book will raise money for the NHS proves that whatever your views on the origins of punk, or your opinion on who the best live band are, together the punks are still the best!

THE SCENE THAT WOULD NOT DIE: Twenty Years Of Pos-Millennial Punk In The UK - by Ian Glasper - Earth Island Books
This is the eagerly awaited 5th book on UK punk from Ian Glasper, and it is huge, over 600 pages; but then a lot has happened over the last 20 years, and this is just the tip of the punk rock iceberg. I’m not sure that many people are going to read this from cover to cover in order, I know I haven’t, and I can’t say that I have read every word yet, instead I have been flicking between bands, but I will eventually get through it all; this isn’t a book to be rushed, it’s something to savour. I started by reading the sections featuring my friends, and also the bands I love, but it has also been great to read about bands that I have’t yet caught up with yet or who passed me by when they were active; several chapters have had me searching You Tube and Bandcamp to catch up and check bands out. I like the way Ian does these books, he lets the bands tell their own stories, while keeping a lid on any rambling. I know from being fortunate enough to have two of my bands featured that Ian has a tough editing job to do for each band, so the amount of work that has gone into this book is phenomenal. It’s also a great reflection of the dedication that goes into keeping the DIY scene in the UK going, thriving and progressing; from the people in the bands, the people who record, photograph and document them, release the records, sell the records and just turn up to gigs to support. It proves we don’t need the mainstream, we can do this stuff by ourselves and we are all important in making it all work. This is an encyclopaedia of the UK’s DIY punk scene of the last twenty years, and as I still frequently dip into Ian’s other books I’m sure this one will continue to be a source of reference and information for many, many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. You're a punk or you're not. If you are a punk, you keep in touch by buying this zine EVERY time it is issued. Otherwise enjoy Blink 182!

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