REVIEWS

The music....

ARREST - Pobre i Perillós 7” - DIY Kontraätak
Great driving punk rock from Barcelona that has a sound which captures the urgency of early USHC with a melodic edge that reminds me of early 1980s UK punk, all wrapped up in that great tradition of Spanish punk, giving the songs a hard edge. Lyrically the songs come from the desperation of the working class trying to survive in an unjust, unequal wold, the EP’s title translates as Poor And Dangerous, and the menacing vocals convey the anger that struggle inevitably generates. These songs are so damn catchy that they get under your skin and into your brain, and I find that repeated plays of this fine 7” are required, so this fine EP is getting a lot of plays here.
Arrest (Tony)

CALM - Dysfunctional Assumptions CDEP - Engineer
These chaps are from Harrogate it turns out, surely they must know Steve Bombed Out if that’s the case, no? Ok. Anyhoo, this 6 track CDep is the first I am hearing from them and it’s good stuff. The 1st song ‘Obsessive Compulsive” is an ace song to kick things off, a loud, energetic, anthemic tune with great lyrics concerning mental illness, which he explores several times on the EP, which can only be a good thing. Some of the songs and vocals get a bit close to straight up Rock in places but that’s ok, the vocals actually remind me of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden in a few places, one of those singers that can actually sing properly! Production is good, really full and powerful sounding. So if you like your Indie Rock/Pop Punk really anthemic and tuneful and a bit Rock, give this a listen. 
Engineer  (si)

THE DARIEN GAP - Haunted Lots EP -  Sell The Heart / Engineer
A new band, and a 2 piece, Brian Moss and Mike Thompson, though it’s a full band experience with both guys playing multiple instruments and vocals, and this apparently is their first release. The info on the lyric sheet says “This ep was self-recorded in one bedroom in Los Osos, CA.” which is very impressive because it sounds pretty spot on production/sound wise. The first of the five tracks is a barnstormer, with  sung/screamed vocals really hitting the spot over melodic Indie Rock/Emo music. It uses the fast slow, quiet loud style to full effect. The second track, “Albany Bowl”, has more of a Weakerthans thing going on, and also I hear a touch of Pylon, the ace Leeds band from a good while back. The vocals are cleaner on this song, and the rest of them. The lyrics on all songs are really good, poetic and really well written, and mainly personal I think? “My quiet rage seethes as a nation haemorrhages” is a great closing line from track 3 “Bad Comment”. I also hear a touch of Latterman in some of the songs, no bad thing at all! Really enjoying this and it’s very impressive for a first release, and to top it off it comes on lovely turquoise vinyl. I certainly look forward to more stuff from them.
Engineer  (si)

DARK HARVEST COMMANDOS - s/t EP 7” - Sanctus Propaganda
You know these guys, they’re from Glasgow, they’ve been in lots of great bands (they are still in some great bands) and they certainly know how to make a wonderful racket. They kick these six tracks off with a crash of instruments and an anguished scream and then they gallop off at full speed. A Discharge influence underpins the songs and I also hear a bit of Kohti Tuhoa in the sound, but these songs are more ferocious. The clear vocals may seem to stand in contrast to the music, but the anger that is evident means they fit perfectly. The lyrics start with a plea to live in peace then takes us through some of the ills of the modern world and the toll it can take on a person. But all that just gives you an idea of what to expect here, you really need to experience the rush of the punk rock tornado DHC whip up yourself, it is irresistible.

DEATHTRAPS - Golden Age Of Roadrage EP - Spirit Of Disaster
This Newport band are new to me, but they have been creating and releasing music for a few years now and this is their new EP. Their bandcamp page says that these songs were “crafted and recorded in a garage”, and they are a perfect example of a garage band, there’s no frills here, just high energy rockin’ punk. As I listen through this I can hear bits of Poison Idea, some of the stuff Jello Biafra has been doing post Dead Kennedys and there is even a bit of a heavy glam element too. It’s a melting pot of different influences which means they are not just pumping out run of the mill, heard it all before stuff. I imagine Deathtraps are great fun to see live, but until they come to your town, you should check this out.
Deathtraps (Tony)

DOGMA - Disarm Or Die 10” - Grow Your Own
I love this record, so much so, it’s been on repeat since it arrived. The songs are perfect, the thumping drums and pounding bass drive the songs, with the the perfect guitar sound and Steph’s strong vocals adding the finishing touches to seven wonderful songs. They aren’t fast, but they are paced perfectly to hammer the songs into your head. Most of the songs rely on a repeated verse and chorus, but the lyrical brevity works, I mean when you’ve said “Disarm or die” or “A world without bombs/A world without borders/A world without hate/A world without war” or “Question Their purpose/Question their power” what more needs to be said? Sometimes less is definitely more. You could take these songs, with their anti-war and anti-capitalist message back to the early 1980s and they’d fit in perfectly, it’s quite depressing to think that they are even more relevant in 2023. The sleeve is a simple wrap around card with an great picture featuring a nuclear explosion, broken rife and dove, it fits the music perfectly, and its simplicity is striking. They end with a cover of The Mob’s ‘Witch Hunt’, a band who have obviously influenced them, but they’ve updated that sound, given it more power and made it their own. Their GYO released album was great, and this release builds on that, it has a fuller sound but everything that made that album so good is here. What a wonderful band Dogma are. 
Grow Your Own (Tony) 

THE DWEEBS - Goes Without Saying 7” - Crew Cuts
I love The Dweebs, fast, stripped back hardcore that doesn’t relent for an instant for the duration of this ten track 7”, only two of the songs break the one minute barrier, they are damn catchy too. This has elements of early USHC, but that doesn’t mean it sounds dated, as the energy here makes these songs sound as exciting as anything that’s come before. It’s over before you know it and you will definitely find yourself playing this again and again. That’s exactly what I’m doing now.
Crew Cuts (Tony)

THE END OF ERNIE - Controversial Comfort LP - Lost Culture
This Belgian have been around for over 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve heard them, so although I can’t tell you want their previous releases sound like, this is a monster of an album. Starting off with some ‘Soberphobia’ era Peter & The Test Tube Babies like guitar work, before exploding into 14 tracks of  uncompromising, speedy punk rock that reminds me of the Restarts, with a touch of Colombians Sin Nadie Al Mando too. Just like those two bands the energy they deliver never lets up and I can imagine that End Of Ernie are a great band to see in a live setting. With titles like 'Idiotic Patriotic', 'Land Of Fools' and 'System Failure', you know where they are coming from and they also have songs about the stress of tryign to survive these dark times. Punk fuckin’ Rock.

HUBERT SELBY Jr INFANTS - Have you ever seen a crow ? . . . Or An Eel? LP - Scene Report
Something a little different from Scene Report here. Dublin band Hubert Selby Jr. Infants kick off this four track 12” with ’Musketeers’ which reminds me of one of Ben Deily’s Lemonheads songs for ‘Creator’, but also has something of a ‘New Day Rising’ era Husker Du feel, and rattles along at a fine pace. All the songs here have that melodic, yet abrasive sound, and you can add Jawbreaker as another band that this brought to mind, particularly on ‘Misery Hill’, and even Nirvana on ‘Yes//No’. This isn’t a style I listen to very often these days, but I did find myself listing to this a lot, and really enjoying it and wishing there were some songs. I reckon Hubert Selby Jr Infants would be great live too, and I can imagine these songs would really come into their own blasted out in a small venue. 
Scene Report (Tony)

JODIE FASTER / CORUPT VISION - split 7” - No Time / TNS/ Don’t Trust The Hype / Loner Cult
Woah, this is a rush. 8 songs, none of which are longer than 52 seconds, and that’s always going to be a winner with me. Of course, you know I love Jodie Faster, and they deliver three more examples of their ferocious punk rock greatness. ’10 Years That Were Seven’, ‘6 Year Old Conservatives’ and ’20 Seconds For Charles’ are all brilliant, and I didn’t really expect anything else, as they never disappoint, live or on record. Corpus Vision, from Orange County, deliver their five songs in a similar frenetic vein, their vocals are harsher and guitars heavier, but they still thrash along in fine style. The idea of doing a split release was instigated when the two bands played some gigs together in Southern California in late 2022, and they must have been some fun gigs to be at. This 7” is available in the UK from TNS records, and you really should be heading their way now to add this to your life. 
TNS (Tony)

KING OF PIGS - After Victory Comes Defeat CD - Flying Skull
Just before we were locked down in 2020, King Of Pigs came to Southampton on a Sunday afternoon and showed us how punk should be played; with passion and intensity and a sense of fun. Their first two albums were on constant rotation soon after as we stayed home to avoid getting covid. Now they are back and they are thrilling me all over again with 11 new examples of their rampaging, fast and furious hardcore. Taking the likes of Negative Approach and Poison Idea as a template and adding their own UKHC influences to the mix, you will no doubt be reminded of of some old favourites from time to time as the songs zip by in a whirlwind of thrashing guitars, crashing drums, thundering bass and great punk rock vocals. This is just great from start to finish and will undoubtedly be part of many 2024 top ten lists, mine included. 
King Of Pigs (Tony)

LAS RATAPUNKS / LBM - split 7” - Spirit Of Disaster / Entes Atómicos / Radio Raw / Rekord-Ando / Tercermundistas / Tvmbalavalla 
I picked this 7” up from Las Ratapunks when they played in Great Yarmouth in April, it was a little expensive, but what the hell, they’d travelled a long way to play in Europe and I bloody love them. We featured this Peruvian band a few issues ago and I loved the 7” that Kibou gave a UK release to a couple of years ago, as well as everything else they had available on-line. Their four songs here originally appeared on their ‘Ishguin’ album that only came out on tape, or digitally; I thought they were great then, but they sound even better on vinyl, not only are they louder but seem somehow faster. Their back to basics, straight ahead raw punk rock really energises me, and I can’t get enough of it. All four songs are great, but ‘País En Deuda’ (County in Debt) is particularly raging. The other song titles translate as Hearts Without Mercy, No Future and The Governed, so you get some idea where they’re coming from lyrically and politically. They really are one of my favourite bands and I even bought a black t-shirt! LBM, from Madrid in Spain, were new to me and have a heavier more rough sound, with gruff vocals, although they’re no slouches when it comes to playing fast. Initially I didn’t think I was going to like their side, but once their first song got going they proved to be something of an angry powerhouse, and I guess it’s not a surprise that their songs translate as Colonial Order, Eurocentrism, Harvesting Rage and Condemned to Misery. This is a great split, and I always like to see records released by a few labels co-operating to make music available. Up the DIY Punks! 
Bandcamp (Tony)

LEFT FOR DEAD - Ignorance 10” - Grow Your Own
The announcement of a new GYO release is always an exciting day, because you know you are going to get a quality release. And that was very true with this 10” from punk rock veterans Left For Dead. When you drop the needle on the eco vinyl a muffled, underwater like rumble starts to build, before the title track explodes with a riotous, speedy punk rock tune. That sets the tone for the next four songs, as they all rattle along in fine style, raging against the injustices, hatred and stupidity of modern life, and demanding a better way. The choruses are big, and give you plenty to sing along to and musically it’s like someone put UK Subs, GBH and Leatherface into a blender, with the result being a modern day take on a driving punk rock sound that is surely going to appeal to everyone. These songs sound like they are built for a live setting, and I can well imagine lots of joyous people jumping around to these songs, punching the air to the anthemic choruses and having the time of their lives. What’s even better is that energy is captured here on vinyl so you get to sing along in the comfort of your own homes. I liked this on first hearing, but the more I played it, the better it sounded, and it’s definitely one my favourite records of 2023.

LIFE ABUSE / SCREWBALL - split 7” - Crew Cuts
This is a great split EP. Life Abuse hit you with two tracks of no nonsense raging D-Beat with to the point lyrics about the fucked up state of the modern world (think State Violence State Control for a idea of music and lyrics). Screwball aren’t letting you down easily either, their two ragers take animal abuse and police brutality. ‘No Excuse’ ends with “There’s no excuse for cruelty” to which the lyric sheet adds “Animal Liberation. Now!”, while ‘Police Reality’ ends with ‘Nationalism is a cancer.”I kind of like the fact that a record with four dark and angry songs is on bright yellow vinyl too.
Crew Cuts  (Tony)

MINOR PLANETS - Never-ending Days CDEP - Engineer
A band from Barcelona and members of a few other bands, Flamsteed, Ancora and Torches. Looks like they have released a couple of other songs before putting out this 6 track ep but they’re new to me. Really enjoying this release though, all 6 songs are good, in a Get Up Kids, Menzingers, later Gaslight Anthem melodic indie rock kind of way. Great vocals and harmonies that suit the music perfectly, excellent production making it all sound powerful and it’s mixed perfectly. Great stuff!
Engineer  (si)

THE MISTAKES - A Good Hill To Die On LP - Time and Matter
I have a bit of a soft spot for The Mistakes ever since Shane Creech hand delivered my copy of their brilliant ‘Head Full Of Damage’ LP to me and this new offering from them just helps to cement my love for their music. Inside the stunning cover is a slab of green vinyl that gives you 12 tracks of brash, tuneful, angry and honest punk rock. There’s great guitars all the way through accompanied by pounding drums and sometimes really intense vocals, plus plenty of tempo changes to keep you interested. I have yet to see them live, every time I see a gig listing with them on it, it’s either too far away or I’ve got something else going on, but if this studio recording captures their live presence, I must get along. I can imagine each and everyone of these songs being real crowd pleasers with their anthemic singalong/shout along choruses played with gusto by a band who must be clearly enjoying themselves. I’m not going to pick out any bands that may have influenced their sound and I’m not going to pick out any standout songs because to me, all the songs are good and you need to buy the LP, put it on your turntable and play it very loud, it’s pretty damn fine you know. 
Time & Matter (Stuart Armstrong)

MOONRAKER/NECKSCARS - split 12” - Engineer
This is a  great 6 track split, 3 songs each from either band and I believe it was done for last years Fest. Both bands are doing the melodic punk stuff in a HWM kind of style. I’m slightly preferring Neckscars I think, but both bands are really good, and different enough to make the split a worthwhile one. Moonraker have a bit of a Lawrence Arms sound I reckon, all 3 tracks are around the 2.30 minute mark, so no messing about! The sound is good and all 3 songs are top drawer. Neckscars have hints of Avail and Iron Chic maybe and the songs are a tad longer, actually breaking the 3 minute mark! Again production is good. The sleeve has a cool old black and white photo of a man and a Kangaroo having a boxing match, and this comes in cool orange vinyl.
Engineer  (si)

PARALLEL WORLDS -  In The Comet’s Path LP - Scene Report
The cover art and album title had me thinking “rock”, but surely Scene Report wouldn’t do that to us, would they? Well, no, but this is a little different from their previous, full steam ahead blasting hardcore releases, as Parallel Worlds don’t flatten you with speed, even if their songs do pack a hefty punch. They prove that you don’t just need speed to be powerful, and these mighty songs are dynamic and compelling, with a pulsating groove in there too. Pinning down a description of their sound is hard, the songs are like a heavier version some of the early late 1980s/early 1990s Dischord bands, but with a driving UK feel too, and I’m left thinking that if Portsmouth band Horseflies had been even more abrasive, they’d have sounded like this. Parallel Worlds grew out of Young Conservatives, so you get Andy Bryant’s great lyrics and superb delivery which just tops things off nicely. This is a fantastic record and I’m sure, in years to come, it will be seen as one of the greats.
Scene Report (Tony)

PERP WALK - Permacricis 7” - Crew Cuts
Coming out of Bristol and getting straight to the point with slashing distorted guitars, and off they go with ‘Natural Selection’ that reminds me of Strutter. The strained vocals spit out their disgust at the word, at religion and ignorance, while the music hammers home the message. There re slow, stomping bits, which make good use of the two guitars, but Perp Walk are at their best when they let loose a bit and up the tempo.
Crew Cuts  (Tony) 

PI$$ER - Too Busy Eating Gruel…To Contemplate The Cosmos LP - Scene Report
Drop the needle on the lovely mottled pink vinyl, and it sounds as though PI$$ER are tuning in an old radio in some dystopian nightmare world, all static, beeps and Doctor Who like synth sounds. When they find the correct frequency they gallop off as though their speedy punk rock noise is being pursued by an out of control TARDIS. From then on unrelenting D-Beat is augmented by sax, synths, trumpet and otherworldly soundscapes. They’ve chucked everything at this, and it shouldn’t work, but it does. The blistering punk rock that underpins it all is exhilarating, the sax enhances each song, while the rest of the stuff is just decoration that gives these songs a sci-fi feel, like band playing on a Spaceship spinning out of control as it hurtles towards a world that is being systematically destroyed. Are PI$$ER the sound of salvation, or of the demons in your head cackling as you face the end of days? While you try to decide which you can enjoy these gloriously madcap songs.
Scene Report (Tony)

PREY - Unsafe LP - Scene Report
Ooof, this is quite something. Raging, no frills hardcore, that brings to my mind both early MDC and Philadelphia’s Sickoids as well as having a healthy UK feel too. The harsh, duel vocals work well as they take to task the darkness of the world we live in, while thrashing guitars, pummelling bass and rapid fire drums power these 16 short, fast, abrasive songs. Despite all the crashing fury, the songs have their catchy moments that I can imagine also make Prey a fantastic live band. These guys have been around for too many years in too many bands to mention, but still have the fire and energy to produce a gloriously raucous racket like this, and I love it. Scene Report have done a fine job with the sleeve art too, and the marbled blue vinyl is a thing of beauty. This is a pretty special release. 

PROUD CITY FATHERS - Human Zoo LP - Grow Your Own
GYO’s first release of 2024 gets off to a frenetic start as, after lulling you into a false sense of security with a nice intro, Proud City Fathers go on the attack with a swirling, rampaging, barrage of noise. It certainly wakes you up before they settle into something a little more melodic, though they don’t let the intensity slip. Throughout, their modern take on anarcho punk brings to mind both Sanction This and Endless Grinning Skulls, while the drums at the start of  ‘Inadequate’ remind me of Charge, but louder and more in your face. By the time you get to the end of side one, you realise that there is a lot more to this record than just fast anarcho punk, the songs have depth and hooks that really stick in your brain. Having said that, side two starts off with a fantastic, quick fire blast of no nonsense, exhilarating punk rock, but as it progresses there’s one or two Rudimentary Peni like touches here and there and they continue to infuse their songs with a subtle catchiness. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t some sort of subliminal shenanigans going on here as I have found that as soon as ‘Social Engineering’ brings the album to a close, I instantly want to listen to it again. Also, you know with GYO you are getting quality with the artwork as well.

RITES OF HADDA - Occult Sex Worker LP - Grow Your Own
The latest offering from GYO starts off with some great speedy punk rock, then 30 seconds in a sax pops up and sends the song into the stratosphere. The sax obviously brings to mind X-Ray Spex, and there other elements to the songs that also fit that comparison, but that sax, and the song arrangements also conjure up thoughts of both The Cravats and The Astronauts, and lets face it, if a record reminds you of those bands then it’s going to be good. Lockdown was the starting point for this collection of songs, it was a strange time, and that strangeness has seeped into these songs; as was so often the case in those times of isolation and restriction, creativity became a necessity in order to survive. This is quirky and a bit odd, and highlights that punk has never been uniform and bands don’t all sound like The Clash or Ramones, there is room for the other, the different and the adventurous, and despite what some will have you think, punk was always good at including bands like Rites Of Hadda. Thankfully, Grow Your Own records are good at championing bands like this too, which just highlights, once again, what an important label they are.
Grow Your Own (Tony) 

THE SLM - OCEAN BRAWL EP - Charlie’s Big Raygun
Do you like Zombies, sharks, Ninja Turtles, and speedy thrash skate punk crossover tunes? Yes? Well, The SLM are the band for you. It seems ages since they had anything come out, but here is a new four track EP, featuring a title track that's a tale of sharks with lasers a cuttlefish ninja, there's Steve the snail, riding on the back of a killer whale and Octo-crab vs Robo-squid. Musically it sees them holding back on the speed a touch, but it could just be my favourite song here, the bass sound is wonderful, and the guitar has something of a surfy feel. ‘Felix”, a song they wrote about a friend’s son who had cancer, follows and ramps up the pace and guitar twiddling; “Felix, destroyer of evil, slayer of dragons, kicker of ass”, I think I’m right in saying that Felix has indeed slayed the evil disease now. Which is great news. ‘Dimensional Doppelgänger’, a story of time travel which is full of full of galloping drums, flying guitar solos and pummelling bass, while “Paradox Shmaradox’ starts off sounding a bit like NOFX, before they race off into the distance, showing those Californians how this stuff really should be played. The sound of this is superb, and although waling guitar solos are not really something I look for in my music, I can only marvel at the technical ability on show here. The SLM are a fun band to see live, and this is where I think they are at their very best, they seem to pull this stuff off with the minimum of effort, but with the maximum of impact, and have fun doing it. 
THE SLM (Tony)

TESS & THE DETAILS - Runaway LP  - Double / Engineer
This is just straight up, no messing about, pop punk with female vocals, and an impressive debut album. 12 tracks, all pretty short and to the point and real good stuff if you like the afore mentioned pop punk style. The vocals are clean and well sung giving it a slight Muffs sound in parts and No Doubt (am I just naming female fronted bands here?). Musically it reminds me of Alkaline Trio quite a lot too. You could quite easily see these doing really well if they can break out of the punk rock scene, not that that seems to happen much these days? It comes in a nice gatefold sleeve and very cool black and yellow vinyl. 
Engineer  (si)

ZERO AGAIN - A Deep Appreciation Of Suffering LP/CD - Sanctus Propaganda / Engineer
You know these guys, you know what they’ve done individually, so you know that when they get together the result is going to be special. Now, you’ve seen them live, and bought their EPs, so are no doubt looking forward to this album. Well, good news, it doesn’t disappoint, in fact it’s probably better than you ever dared hope. Of course, if you listen hard enough you may be able to pick out influences, but these guys have been around this music for a long time, it’s part of their DNA, and as a band Zero Again take it all and forge a distinct sound of their own, a sound that is both punishing and energetic, precise yet bursting with fury and rage. This is one of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard, it’s powerful, it’s fast and it’s dark, with anguished vocals, great lyrics, and top notch musicianship. The recording is sharp and clear, and that can sometimes dull the impact of a band, but not here, it just amplifies the ferocious delivery of both music and lyrics. From the very start of punk, there have been albums that have defined an era (pick your favourite), and this is one for the 2020s, it’s a righteous soundtrack to our anger; whether it’s the abuse of animals, the monarchy, government, police brutality or racism, Zero Again are raging against it here. Not bad for a bunch of old punks. Sanctus Propaganda are doing the vinyl while Engineer Records are putting the CD out, which will include all the tracks from their previous EPs too. Pre-order here: https://sanctuspropaganda.bandcamp.com/album/a-deep-appreciation-of-suffering (Tony)

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Convoy Cabaret Compilation Album Vol.1 LP - Grow Your Own
You will find Convoy Cabaret at various festivals bringing you performances from circus performers, DJs and bands. Some of the artists they are linked with appear on this GYO released album. It’s a mixture of different styles, some I already like, Split Dogs, Menstrual Cramps, Anarchistwood and Dogdhite, along with others I’m unfamiliar with who bring a mix of punky ska, reggae, electronic sounds that bring to mind Sleaford Mods and other stuff that I don’t really have the reference points for. You may think that with all that going on this would be a bit of a disjointed album, but it isn’t at all, it works perfectly together and there isn’t a track I feel like skipping. Despite some serious subjects being covered this album feels joyous, and I can imagine happy people having good old dance in a field or tent somewhere, maybe because the centre pages of the full colour lyric booklet has lots of photos of people doing just that. 

...The Message

A COUNTRY FIT FOR HEROES: DIY Punk in Eighties Britain by Ian Glasper - Earth Island Books
Ian Glasper continues his quest to fully document the UK punk scene of the 1980s, this time focussing on bands who are, maybe, a little less known because most didn’t release anything more than a couple of demos and the odd compilation track, and often didn’t get out of their local area. In many ways these are the bands who really grabbed hold of the “anyone can do it” attitude and despite a lack of funds, equipment or even an audience, formed bands, wrote songs and did it just because they could and because it was fun. It doesn’t mean that these bands were any less worthy than those who did have records out, it’s just that they stayed underground and local, so therefore went under the national radar. The two Southampton bands featured are a good example; Nox Mortis could have been better known, they were certainly good enough and very important to the fledgling local DIY punk scene, but circumstances and tragedy intervened and all they left was a demo, some comp tracks and a lot of memories. Then there was Suburban Filth, and band of teenagers who got together in a small town just out side Southampton and, not letting a lack of musical ability stop them, had a lot of fun making a racket and writing songs with anti-war, anti-monarchy, anti-police type lyrics, recording a 20 track demo in drummer Rut’s front room. This is what made punk great, the Suburban Filth story is repeated through the book, and there are close to 700 pages full featuring over 140 bands, most of whom you’ve probably never heard of but who deserve to have their story told. As with Ian Glasper’s other books, this is our history and he does a great job in documenting it. Punk meant something to those of us who were teenagers in the early 1980s, it informed us and entertained us and set our course for the rest of our lives. The punk explosion may have only lasted a short time in the minds of the mainstream, many declaring it dead by 1979, but it had opened the door for hundreds of kids in not only the UK, but the rest of the world as well, and this book shows that while the original bands shouted their slogans from major label releases, the real heroes got on with putting those sentiments into practise and recorded them on hand held cassette players. Those heroes are in this book, looking to Discharge and Crass rather than the Sex Pistols and The Clash for their inspiration, showing that punk really flourishes when sticking two fingers up to the mainstream rather than trying to embrace it. Every home should have a copy of this book.

THE BITE by Jim X Dodge - Earth Island Books
I’m not a huge fan of the Zombie genre, I only own three Zombie films on DVD; Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland and Return Of The Living Dead. That’s it. I can only watch non-zombies try to travel through a world full of slow moving, brains hungry undead trying not to get bitten so many times. So I have to say I approached this with some trepidation, as it is a story of the living traveling through a world inhabited by Goners (don’t say the Z word) trying not to get bitten. The main protagonist is a 13 year old with a childhood scar that a community of survivors thinks is a bite and that she is now immune. So a small party set out to get her tested, but they have a long way to travel and there are lots of Zom… er Goners about. So far so expected. However, things don’t go to plan, and as the story zips along at a good pace, you gradually start to realise that this is a little different and the end was definitely unexpected. So, even though I wasn’t expecting to like this, in the end, I did.
Earth Island (Tony)

MY PUNK ROCK LIFE by Marla Watson - Earth Island Books
This A4 hardback book is really ace, it collects Marla's photos taken at gigs mainly in LA in the early 1980s, with loads of great shots of locals like Channel 3, The Vandals, Circle Jerks, Youth Brigade, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Dickies, Redd Kross, The Bangs, Black Flag and so on. Plus bands that came through LA like Dead Kennedys, JFA, Crucifix, The Misfits, Minor Threat, GBH, The Damned, Toy Dolls, Discharge, The Adicts, 7 Seconds and so many more. Along the way are little stories and anecdotes from those that were there, which helps to bring the photos alive. Here and there you’ll get photos from the UK, bands like Angelic Upstarts, UK Subs, English Dogs, Abrasive Wheels etc playing at The Queens Hall in Leeds and the 100 Club in London. Towards the end of the book you get shots of the people who make the scene, the crowd, not just shots of stage dives but kids hanging outside and having fun. I liked the photos of cops too, they were violent and did so much to break up gigs and put an end to fun, but the punks wouldn't be stopped. This is a real snapshot of a moment in time, a historical document that should be treasured and loved by everyone even remotely interested in US punk, or just punk rock in general, and there are over 250 pages to keep you entertained.
Earth Island (Tony)

NEFARIOUS ARTISTS by Welly Artcore - Earth Island Books
“The Evolution And Art Of The Punk Rock, Post-Punk, New Wave, Hardcore Punk And Alternative Rock Compilation Record 1976-1989” is the somewhat lengthy subtitle of this huge tome, and pretty much tells you what you're going to get here. The compilation album was invaluable for those of us who discovered punk rock a year or so after the initial explosion, when we didn’t have the money to buy all the records we wanted, or the knowledge to know which bands to look out for. I started buying records in 1978, but I had to save up my pocket money to be able to afford a single, and that took a while, so I wasn’t able to get everything I wanted, however, by 1979 when we went to secondary school, there were people there who were also into punk, and some had older siblings who had records. I was able to borrow one of these records to tape, it was a compilation album called ’20 Of Another Kind’, it included bands I already knew, but it also opened my eyes to some bands I hadn’t yet discovered, including a song called ‘Suspect Device’ by a band called Stiff Little Fingers. This was what was great about compilations, there were so many bands bringing records out it was hard to keep up, especially when you didn't live in a big city and your local record shop was just a small chart return shop, so these records were invaluable. I loved compilations and more would follow, especially when I got a paper round and had a little more money of my own. I picked up ‘The Roxy London WC2’, ‘We Do ‘em Our Way’, ‘The Rare Stuff’, ‘Back Stage Pass’, the ‘Jubilee’ sound track (that I bought for ‘Plastic Surgery’ by Adam & The Ants), any thing that looked punk or had at least one band I knew on, then into the 1980s it was ‘Bullshit Detector’, ‘Wessex ’82’ and ‘Punk And Disorderly” and on and on. In Nefarious Artists, Welly does a good job in detailing these albums and showing just how many compilation records came out in the early years of punk rock, from all over the world. He has limited this to the years 1976-1989, and it’s still over 400 pages long. I think 1989 is probably as good a place to stop as any, there were some good compilations released in the 1990s, but once you got into the 2000s, with a few notable exceptions, the compilation seemed to lose it’s appeal and it’s value, as new music started to become easier to find elsewhere, but those early records still hold a special place in my heart, even if I bought them just for one or two tracks or bands. It’s amazing how many compilations there were during this time, and some of these I’d never heard of until I read about then in here, plus there are quite a few I wish I’d known about at the time and some that I would always see in record racks, but never picked up. It also highlights that punk rock was a global phenomenon, something that the records mentioned here no doubt had a big part in fuelling. More than once this book sent me to the end of my record shelves pulling out copies of compilations I’d just read about to have a listen, often for the first time in years. There is a lot of information here, each entry has the bands included, the sleeve design and pressing information and a little background if relevant. Welly doesn’t just limit himself to those releases he likes, there are compilations listed that he’s not keen on, but that also deserve a mention, even if just for context of what was going on in the world/punk at that particular time. I also like that 7” compilations are included too, as some of them were as important to me as the LPs; ‘Wessex ’82’ for example not only had exclusive tracks from Subhumans and A-Heads, but also a cool family tree of the bands featured. This is a reference book that will sit alongside Ian Glasper’s series of books as an important document of our punk rock history. 

SILENCE IS NO REACTION - Forty Years of the Subhumans by Ian Glasper - Earth Island Books
I can remember my introduction to the Subhumans, there was a short “new band” feature in Sounds and Gary Bushell made some snide remark about not liking their Politics, but did say that he loved their music. There was something about the photo and this write up that made me want to go out and get their first 7”, the ‘Demolition War’ EP. Of course, when I got the record home which I was instantly hooked. It’s a brilliant record musically, and who could question their politics? I mean if you don’t like the politics on this EP then what politics do you like? That EP seemed to me to be a pretty good comment on what it was like to be a teenager in the early 1980s, and also, ‘Society’ is one of the greatest punk songs ever, and then there was ‘Human Error’, just stunning. I was a fan straight away and each new record was bought and adored, I had that Sounds cover photo on my bedroom wall, and ‘The Day The Country Died’ is the album I have play most over the years, I Never tire of it. 
Apart from the brilliant music and inspirational lyrics I wonder if the attraction was also because they weren’t from a big city, they were from small towns in Wiltshire, and I was living on the edge of the New Forest, far away from the bustling city centres of the punk rock universe (or was it because, like me when I was with Gaz, they would often quote Monty Python at each other)? Whatever it was they clicked with me from the time I listened to that debut EP for the first time, and the affection I have for them has remained, undiminished to this day.
I have been looking forward to this book ever since Ian Glasper mentioned he was going to write it, it was always going to be a book I would be buying at the earliest opportunity. The fact that Ian is a fan of the band means that he has put everything into this, spending time with the band, going through diaries, collecting anecdotes and getting first hand stories from those in and around the band thought the years to tell the story of the band, including members of Vermin, Stupid Humans and The Mental as well as their friends in bands like A-Heads and Organised Chaos, their roadies and friends in the UK, US, Australia and Europe etc.. All his hard work has really paid off as this is wonderful read, it’s detailed but fast paced, and I found myself really captivated by it all. 
It’s all here, the genesis of the band, the practising, song writing, the records and the recording, the gigs (there is a full gig list at the back), the tours, the original split and the reformation. Throughout the book are some great photos going right back to the early days of their pre-Subhumans bands, as well as Dick’s original handwritten lyrics, gig posters, flyers, clippings etc. In fact everything you could possibly want to know about this very special band is in here.
With all that included, you won’t be surprised to hear that this book is huge, at over 600 pages, but I couldn’t put it down, at every opportunity I would go back to the book and completely immerse myself in the world of the Subhumans, I read the whole thing in a week.
Towards the end Dick talks about how he doesn’t really understand when people say that the Subhumans, or any band for that matter, has changed their life. Well, Dick, if the ‘Evolution’ EP didn’t change my life, it certainly had a huge and lasting affect on me. The title track helped me get some clarity about how I viewed the treatment of animals; I would call myself an animal lover, but still at that point ate meat and didn’t really think that I could do anything about vivisection. But the insert listing the companies that didn’t test on animals was a real eye opener. I could make a difference in my own little way just by where I chose to spend my money. It set me on the road to boycotting companies who’s ethical practises I found lacking, and also to eventually becoming a vegan. 
In March 2022 I went to see the Subhumans on my birthday. One of my presents was a hoodie bought in support of the Free The MBR Beagles campaign, it had the words End Animal Experiments across the top. So on my 56th birthday, I was wearing this garment while watching the Subhumans play ‘Evolution’, and I found myself getting a little emotional. It was the perfect birthday present.
There is always a worry that when you read a book about a much loved and admired band that they destroy all your preconceptions and you end up really disappointed and disillusioned. Not so here, the members of the Subhumans, past and present, prove to be really down to earth, principled and funny people, and Ian allows their personalities to shine through. They have their serious, political songs, but they also have a real sense of humour and they also just treat people properly. So, far from being disappointed, I came away loving them even more.
I expected this to be good as I like Ian’s writing and I love the band, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so thorough, in fact it’s better than I could have ever hoped for. Per-order using either link below.
Earth Island (Tony)

TANGLED LINES #1 & #2 / £2
Mike Head has been a long time contributor to SD and, more importantly, a friend. He did a music zine years ago, but now he has produced these two issues of Tangle Lines, which although featuring music, it’s more thoughts, stories and memories, with a sub title of “My fiction, my truth.” It reminds me on a more UK punk rock version of the books Dan O’Mahony wrote, but more down to earth, with its tales of gigs, pub, football as well as some fiction. I love the cut and paste style, the snippets of words and the clippings, it reminds me of the early zines that I found so inspiring. Issue one has a John King interview, while issue two has more contributions, more art and more pages. I’m looking forward to future issues of what issue two says is a “Raw Authentic Punk Lit Zine.” Check out Mike’s Musings Of An Old Punk page on Facebook. (Tony)

TEN POETS Vol.1 - Earth Island Books
As you may have guest from the title, this book features ten poets, and lots of poems. I have always liked a bit of punk poetry, it started off with John Cooper Clarke, and then a little later the ranters; Attila The Stockbroker, Seething Wells, Porky The Poet etc and because of that, before we started SD, I made a short poetry book of my own teenage political rants, but I only made one copy. Here you get the personal, the political, the weird and the wonderful, and although not all of it hits the mark for me, some of it very much does. But that’s the beauty of collections like this, everyone will have their favourites aa well as some that will go over their heads, and each one here will appeal to someone. The important thing is the creative process and Earth Island do a fine job in ensuring that there is an outlet for this creativity. The main think I took from this was that it has inspired an idea to start forming in my head.
Earth Island (Tony)

THREE AND A HALF MINUTES OF FAME by Alex Boucher - Earth Island Books
I was looking forward to this because, although I am a big fan of Travis Cut, seeing them a lot of times and got to know Chris and Mac pretty well, I never got to know Alex, their first drummer. There is quite a bit about his time with Travis Out, and it was nice to see mention of people, bands and places that I know well. However, I had never heard of his first band, Three & A Half Minutes, mainly because I was never really into that indie scene and aside from MC4, Senseless Things and Elastica the bands mentioned mean nothing to me. What was highlighted was that all the industry interest, managers and being flown to the US didn’t seem to enhance the enjoyment of playing music, in fact it was quite the opposite. After Alex left Travis Cut, he attempted to join a Boy Band on the quest for fame and fortune. Again this just highlighted how truly awful the music industry is, it has nothing to do with music, just business and drugs, sexual predators and miming. So although, Travis Cut aside, I wasn’t interested in the bands mentioned, it was a good read and just highlighted how important a DIY punk scene has been to me. Despite having no desire to “make it”, I’ve had many many years of fun, playing music with good friends and although I’ve never been flown to LA to tie up a record deal, I have sat round a table with my Abrazos bandmates, Nath and Alan, drinking tea and creating a lyric booklet and that sounds so much better than what Alex put himself through. Anyone who thinks that signing a contract is the route to fulfilling all your desires should read this book first. 
Earth Island (Tony)

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