CD REVIEWS (Guest Reviewers) Page 1
THE RIOTERS - A BETTER CLASS OF COCKTAIL
‘Cocktails In The Sun’ kicks off this EP and it is a catchy jagged number of dissent. With a structure somewhat Dead Kennedys and a sound somewhat 70's punk rock this is very familiar ground for a punk. However it has balls, a gruffness and a freshness to grab, twist and excite. In fact it is a corker of a number and done by youngsters who can play and play tight. Fan the fire and watch it burn. There are no descriptions which can be used to conjure up a picture of how good this track actually is. It's great, it gets in the head, it moves the feet and its youngsters doing DIYand having a go at the establishment. Thank fuck for new blood in a scene which so often looks like it could do with a transfusion. Take that as a hit.
‘Who Needs Royalty’ kicks off with some old skool punk rocker guitar, some pounding drums and some forceful twin vocals come in a very catchy chorus. Another fine slab of punkage albeit not as distinctive as ‘Cocktails’.The question is asked rhetorically then the royal family are told to go fuck themselves. Oh my goodness, it is a shame that the same questions have to be asked time and time again. Why do we need a bunch of parasites? A good little number carrying on the punk rock tradition.
‘Dark Days’ again reminds me of a Dead Kennedys opener musically but then vocals and music turns more towards Crisis or Joy Division. Intense unsettling number and sinister. A slow to mid-paced number with some interesting guitar and bass work. The drums keep it travelling and the voice is darkly interesting. Think the A&E department meets Hammer Horror but with an intense seriousness. Intriguing, angular and edgy just the way I like it. Great stuff indeed.
The album finishes with ‘Ignore Their Orders’ which kicks in with crunchy guitar then pounding drums to a sub skank. A solid adventurous start which leads us to a slab of punk sounding somewhere between SLF and a decent Oi band. A good sing- a-long chorus of ignore their orders and a racing foursome playing punk fucking rock like their lives depended on it. Another shit hot track. No criticism coming from this direction.
Overall then a splendid EP consisting of 3 great tracks and one good one. Here's a young band who have found their sound and a bloody good sound it is too. Buy their EP, go see em’ gig and if you are a promoter book em. Nuff said.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
THE BAND FROM COUNTY HELL - DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU
DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU is a good chunk of punky folk set in Lincolnshire about getting into situations. Upbeat with duel male/female vocals. A rocking and reeling with guitars, banjo, whistle and bodhran kicking up a fuss. A good kick off for the fen folk.
GLASGOW GANGSTERS is a bit slower but in that more intense. Female vocals tell us the sad story of gangsters and the poor who are at prey to them. A sad lamenting repetitive chorus and refrain about “nothing changes and nothing ever will”. A less punky but concerned number.
THE HUNGER is a fine tune about working hard but still struggling. It also has a concern for those even less fortunate. Probably less folk sounding and more theme tune sounding but played on the same folk instruments. Clever stuff indeed.
CHANGING has a familiar Pogues-ish harsher male vocals fronted sound but with the lass doing vocal back up duty to soften the effect. This works well and the bitter pill is easier to swallow. Upbeat and dancey but with the darker subject of separation. Something of a sad song about forced change and lost love. The use of repetition drives home the pain.
MARY FATARSE pronounced Fatarcey is an up-tempo number with a warm musical feel and fast paced lyrical style set to a racing, all embracing tune. It's about an ex-girlfriend with a rather large behind from Boston and lightens things up somewhat.
IN LOVE IN 2002 is slow and intense in a traditional folk love song style. The young lady sings with intensity and passion and the band carry her along. The listener is drawn in to a personal piece of reminiscence and is treated to the baring of a gentle heart.
NEVER GOING TO DRINK THAT STUFF AGAIN and where would a folk band be without booze and vomit. Musically this tune is expertly structured but free, rather like a folk version of The Keystone Cops. Most of us can empathise with where this song is from and have said the same thing on many occasions, but here TBFCH get us to dance to our past mistakes.
WHEELCHAIR has a Kirsty MacColl feel to it. A mid-paced number with the sweet/innocent vibe Kirsty did so well. A lovely intermingling of vocals and nice strings and whistle work.
DARYLL DAY GOES BY has a slow accordion and spoken word intro before the whistle sweetly joins. Tender vocals done by he and she treat us to a sad reflective lament. Another story set in Lincolnshire with references to The Exploited. A passionate tale about a lost friend. It is moving how these people wear their emotions on their sleeve. A precious piece of honest, open hearted, tuneage.
GLASGOW PADDY THE PIGEON RACER - “you've more to do down there- repeat and repeat, you're going back because you care, you've to do down there” –repeat - you get the idea, set to a jig and a romp, a swing and a stomp. A great dancing number which I feel works better as a live tune. It's not a bad song it's just that after a few listens I find myself getting bored whereas I reckon it's one of those tracks folks would go ape shit to live.
SANTA CLAUS is an upbeat theme tune sounding start which wouldn't feel out of place on a Gerry Anderson classic. This is a very different song to the rest of the album but no less valid for that. At times the vocals remind me of Elvis. Excellent banjo playing with a chorus which makes me smile. It’s about some chap feeling richer than Santa Claus after a win and not telling her in doors. An excellent fun sounding track to uplift.
BOOM BOOM, BOOM is the last track on the album and is a great finisher. It has you jigging around your living room and singing along. It appears to be about the history of The Band From County Hell and is a story well told.
Overall then Do These Things Happen To You? Is another hit of an album for The Band From County Hell. Throughout the album the references to Glasgow and Lincolnshire effectively ground the album in space and time and encourages the listener to enter into the lives of the band. An excellent collection of tales of the folk.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
DH LAWRENCE & THE VAUDEVILLE SKIFFLE SHOW - SONS & LOVERS
YOU SAW ME FALL kicks off Sons & Lovers. A slow clicky, intense number with a Flannery O'Connor gothiness. Full of dark imagery of the devil and the grim reaper. Some beautiful guitar work with washboard which gives a bones vibe. Male and female vocals interacting to turn this tune of death into a bitter sweet love song.
DIANE has an almost swing feel with laid back percussion and violin. A wondrous number of another place and time. Broken hearts and love affairs which are lifted slightly but only slightly by the brass. The romantics believed melancholia was beautiful. This track proves them right.
EVERY CITY NEEDS A WHOREHOUSE is a song about the existential search for meaning (I think) and contains some very clever gob iron work. This pair of male and female vocalists might have been on their knees but the rest of us can't stop swaying. The rest of the skifflers lead this willing traveller on the way to somewhere his restless soul can find some rest in a place filled with fine Americana.
SONS AND LOVERS gives us an historical reflection of lovers and colliers caught up in penitence and haste. There is no hurry to go anywhere however it might be dark but the darkness is still. The Hillbillies might be friendly and there is deliverance for those who want to escape.
LADY CHATTERLEY’S BOWER has a slow intro leading to a laid back rambling ballad. Some tenderness and fondling before the killing without missing a beat. The ghost goes a rambling amongst the tenderness of slow skiffle then drifts to where dead lovers go.
CHEROKEE SHUFFLE is a short instrumental redneck jig to get your feet tapping here. Imagine yourself in a barn with a fine looking lass clad in gingham. Sweet dreams.
VAUDEVILLE SHOW is a Faulkner-esque reflective spoken word intro about a fair ground and its strange goings on. Leading to a knees up down by the river of life. Some strange use of a kazoo and some stomping. The DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show have the musical ability to take you to places to escape mundaneness and to escape your time and location. This time they take you to a crazy fairground full of bizarre characters where they show you a bloody good time but don't get too happy because you may well find yourself back in the land of the melancholic any minute.
A NEEDLE AND A CHRIST AND A SOUL GONE GOD KNOWS WHERE finds us back in the land of the melancholic. In a wonderfully sad love song about lost dreams, liquor, cigarettes, cocaine, broken relationships and death. A totally haunting song drawing on darkness and despair. The Tao says something along the lines of “Truthful things are seldom beautiful. Beautiful things are seldom truthful” Yet here we have a beautiful honest song of pain and loss. I am stunned.
SUPERMODELS AND SKIFFLERS has a more Parisian feel here yet still reflective and haunting. Like a class Tom Waits song which you know is coming from somewhere but have no idea where “Supermodels and Skifflers” is leading us on and telling us a story and although we are listening we are not quite getting what is happening. The uncertainty of our surroundings is unnerving but we are content to stay because intrigue has its virtues too and emotions cannot always be understood. Let us linger.
DRUNK ANOTHER BOTTLE begins with some quiet slow guitar plucking and tells us a story about a lost alcoholic chap. We are carried by strings whilst said gentleman drinks another bottle then things speed up and the rest of the skifflers join in. Then we are told about a lady who drinks another bottle which goes straight to her heart. Now we are swinging in a most incongruous way. A tale of the lonely meeting the lonely in another twisted love song.
PRETTY SONG next in which the vocalist tells us all he wanted to do was sing a pretty song for you but all his songs turn out blue. Someone's been snorting cocaine, someone's been drinking whiskey, the cops are on the make, the whorehouse is open for business, there's a blues man at the crossroads and all our poor chap wanted to do was sing a pretty song. Someone's burning at the stake, a war veteran pushing a trolley and on it goes. Yes the world is dark and pretty songs are almost impossible to write but the band has achieved it here. They even mention Tom Waits another purveyor of dark beauty. “Pretty Song” is a masterpiece in song writing which finishes off a masterpiece of an album.
Overall then SONS AND LOVERS is one of the finest albums I have ever heard. It is full of darkness and light, sadness and depth, storytelling and truth. Real treasures are often found amongst the shit of life. DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show are experts in drawing out the beauty and polishing the diamonds which are found in the muddy rivers of life. I am blown away.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
THE BAND FROM HELL COUNTY – SHIFTS AND CHANGES
To give you some idea of what is going on here I am going to tell you what instruments are played on the album:- Guitar, male vocals, female vocals, bodhran, fiddle, accordion, whistle, drums, trombone, saxophone, triangle, bass, mandolin, banjo, trumpet, piano, various percussion.
PUSSYCAT kicks off the album with pounding drums which are soon followed by a sweet but strong female voice. Then come catchy guitar hooks and delivered here is a class tune about London's apathy. It is of a Celtic folky nature but you can tell these people were also weaned on a solid diet of punk rock. We get into the song and a gruff male voice joins us sounding somewhere between Shane McGowan and Tom Waits to give us a nice bitter/sweet contrast. Finishing with an almost militaristic drum sound and repetitive vocals of 'don't care'. Top notch folky tuneage indeed.
LATE LOST SOULS has a slow musical intro with ethereal echoey, male and female vocals and a twin whistle to aid us on our travels to some twisted heaven. Then we are joined by that gruff vocal (which has a kind of Lars Frederiksen with a Scottish twang sound) to give the proceedings bite. The pace increases until we have a slower early Pogues feel before drifting with a slower Home Service feel. LATE LOST SOULS is a well crafted piece of story-telling which sucks you in to the bands psyche.
MEET THE FOLKS is upbeat and swingy again with interchanging male and female vocals. This is a good feel number and I am guessing it comes from that space where punk meets folk. It has references about green hair, Exploited tattoos, long black coats and folk music. Sweet music to my ears.
SHIFTS AND CHANGES begins with some very nice guitar plucking progressing to melodies reminiscent of The Men They Couldn't Hang. The blend of keys with other instruments give this song a beautifully sad, melancholic feel. It sounds nothing like Leonard Cohen but has the same effect of making you feel warm whilst at the same time sorrowful. Enchanting and wondrous.
BUT IT DID starts with a slow whistle then gathering speed results in a jigging, Levellers-ish kind of number. A very repetitive chorus which adds to make a very straight forward folky song halfway through but it does not lose its way. The mundane cocooned in the supernal. The mundane is a sweet beautiful place to be. It reminisces about times and places regarding a certain loved one and requests that the one sang about makes them whole and makes their day. Overall a fragile beauty of a song.
LIBERTY finds us in a more political place with dishonest judges and hypocrisy. A song about injustice which one can dance to. It is honestly resistant whilst at the same time complex and free. The incongruity between subject matter and musical feel gives it dimensions beyond the sum of its parts. Emma Goldman would be in her element.
SAD DAY makes me think of Kirsty Maccoll. It has that innocent feel Kirsty did so well. It is a sad day for progress and it's a sad day where ‘selfish folk are dictating what's to be’. The song talks about cloning and Florence but I cannot confess to totally grasp what it is about. What I do know it is done with passion and craftsmanship. One to ponder and reflect on me thinks.
MAMMY is the last song on the album and it has a slow swinging, folky, strutting start. Some nice mandolin bits and again an honesty which typifies The Band From County Hell. The lass appears to have gone off the rails and wants Mammy to help stir her back on course. It is a long rambling song and the band seem to be taking a long way back home but they arrive. Then a nice musical close down and the album is complete.
Overall a fine, well constructed album with depth and breadth. Honest and open, sensitive and stomping. SHIFTS AND CHANGES is a hit for me.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
STATIC KILL - WE ALL BLEED THE SAME
I was asked to review the latest Static Kill album a few months ago but hadn't had chance due to illness and other time consuming stuff, namely my own gigs, Punk 4 The Homeless and my studies. However over the past few weeks I have been listening to it in the car over and over again. It’s a great disc and I have been loving it. Why? Well I will tell you track by track:-
'Green Gold and Black' – oozes passion and commitment. It kicks off with an acoustic intro reminiscent of The Clash's 'English Civil War'. The song talks about the hypocrisy within political campaigns and politicians not really believing their own propaganda. It has a feel good, sing-a-long factor despite being about serious stuff. Static Kill might be an acoustic outfit but they draw on plugged in classic punk with good effect and the opening track chucks us straight in there.
'People' - has a similar intro but is a tad faster. Bouncy and punky with a more edgy and faster vocal style. The song seems to be about different kinds of people written from an empathic view point. There is a warmth to this song despite people having to drown their sorrows therein. With the songs inclusivity it mirrors the Poison Girls 'Persons Unknown' (although very different musically). Everyone has value, which is a spot on philosophy.
'Soul Town' - intentionally or not the intro reminded me of The Jam's 'Strange Town'. A bit slower this one but well crafted with a few instrumental bits. The vocalist sings about shallow bastards and fucking junkies and sounds a bit pissed off that this town in particular has no soul and “this town is on the dole”.
'Those Boys (wouldn't hurt anyone)' - a great slab of irony about the 'boys that stole the face'. Musically there's a wonderful contrast between the songs more crunching elements and its more folky guitar work. This is a great tune with a great message but you have to work to understand where the band are coming from. It’s worth digging for. Musically it fits somewhere between The Men They Couldn't Hang and Headsticks. Which is more than fine by me.
'Timothy' - this song comes over as a simple acoustic punk ballad about someone who is pissed at the world. There is a certain beautiful sadness to the song with its crystal highs and prescription suicides. A loner, a lost soul. The writer has to give a fuck to write the song. For me punk should always be about inclusion not exclusion. Sadly that's not always the case. To me this song touches on that stuff and does so with concern.
'Band of Brothers' - Don't get me wrong. All the tracks before we get to this last track are great but this one does it for me. A powerful bit of acoustic punky reggae. Totally in the groove and skanking. The song follows a similar story to Spear of Destiny's ‘Micky’. It’s about a youngster of 16yrs who joins the forces and ends up in a war zone. It looks at the horrible nature of war. The lad’s brother has already lost his legs and the kid himself is stuck in the insanity of the situation. He hasn’t seen his mother, his boots are too tight and his radio doesn't work. All set to quality catchy reggae tuneage. Then the last line ‘kneeling down with a black blind fold’. Then the song just stops. Harrowing indeed - the realities of war.
Track down this EP and play it to death.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
THEIR THROATS ARE EMPTY TOMBS - SELF-TITLED
This album consists of exceptionally short tracks of unconventionality. All I can hope for is to conjure up some feelings and a few pointers. Here it is track by track in the brevity which mirrors the tracks.
'The Rich Shall Fade Away' - OK so the first track is not danceable unless your feet move to the dark ambient noise of bands like Autopsia or Nurse With Wound. Like a broken aircraft spitting out truth this track rumbles for 35 seconds then crashes.
'Congratulations You Got It Half Right' - Slightly more musical. Somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and Love, Peace and Pitbulls. Guttural vocals and industrial noise. Uncle Eagle likes.
'Note To Self' - 14 seconds of gastro explosion. It's good but it ain’t nice.
'Rust and Moth' - “your treasure is where you put your heart, the rust, the moth will tear you apart” growls in after a couple of seconds of neo classical tuneage... the noise and the unhappy vocalist is joined by someone as equally pissed off. Not for the faint hearted.
'Spoiled For The Ordinary' - brief, gravelly and confrontational.
'Of Camels and Needles' - loops of darkness somewhat akin to Coil. Feels like swimming with metal sharks in the tar factory.
'Repent!' - A rant about materialism over the top of noise reminiscent of an Alec Empire production during his most pissed off phase.
'True Faith is Tested' - A sampled sermon, mixed with jaggedness, slating the most negative aspects of Christendom. The far right prosperity doctrine. The venomous sound of this track vs the real poison. Crushing and claustrophobic.
'Hope In Dystopia' - The Scottish drawl of Dougle McMysteron (yes he of 100 Philistine Foreskins fame) is clearly evident on this track. The voice less filtered. In a world populated by broken Megatrons and rusty mammoths this track could almost be seen as tuneful. However thankfully noise is the order of the day with this outfit.
'Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell' - Beautiful, in your face, slab of industrial noise which comes pretty close to the genre the majority call music. But not quite.
'Sunday School For The 1%' - repetition of “If your healthy and your wealthy clap your hands” by two vocalists sounding like the tortured offspring of Sexton Ming and Diamanda Galis. Sing-a-long for the disturbed. Then the volcanoes tremble.
This album is brilliant but I can't review it in the same way as albums with verses and choruses. It is not meant to be popular but angular and emotionally challenging. It hits the mark. Check it out but be warned, it will damage you.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
NOT RIGHT - YOUR TURN
In my opinion what I am reviewing here is one of the most important punk albums for a long time. Intelligent, compassionate and raw.
The album kicks off with ‘Tory Scum’ which begins with the chant “here we come Tory scum”. A tin drum marching band leads us to a pissed off vocalist who derides the hateful spite inflicted by the government on various minorities. The vitriol is from the gut but a gut which can articulate. A fine slab of unnerving anarcho punk, which gives a shit, to kick the album off. Just the way Eagle Spits likes it.
‘Balls’ is track two. An in your face serious track about transgender and not missing your balls, dick, chest, voice or the boys club which is sexist shit anyway. Ranted and chanted, simple and powerful. Those with prejudiced minds can fuck off at this point. Riot grrrl vibe meets Dagmar Krause on Crass Records kind of feel.
‘The Revolution Is Not Complete’ is a feminist belter about making progress but being a bloody long way still to go. “ When sexist jokes are still let loose, And irony’s used as an excuse. When the Coalition try to take us back, It’s time for a feminist counterattack”. There is a beautiful stripped down brutality in Not Rights music. The revolution will not be glamorized. Say it as it is and say it in a couple of minutes or less and get on to the next growler of a track, although this track is one of the longer ones, 2.31. That's the track time not your wake up call. You get that in the form of Not Right.
‘My body is not up for debate’ is sang, spat, growled as the opening line for Freedom of Speech. Lydon once sang “anger is an energy” but he hadn't heard the anger and energy oozing from Not Right. When people aren't accepted in our society then its time for us all to get fucking angry. Especially in the punk scene which prides itself in its tolerance and acceptance. But we all know that's bullshit. So when Ruth Pearce screams “My life is not up for debate. Fuck your freedom of speech. You unrepentant stinking shower of cunts”. We all know that we should be standing alongside and speaking out for anyone who's marginalized. Else our scene is fucked (Eagle Spits rant sorry). Articulate, edgy and IMPORTANT.
Starting with a Zounds sounding guitar riff. Slow, intense and dark with mockingly sweet vocal. Lyrically dealing with tansgender issues and personal trials “Intersectionality Song” is less straight forward musically than previous tracks and is the longest track on the album 03.38. So could they be Wire moving from Pink Flag to Chairs Missing in a minute way. Probably not but it is powerful and does have echoes of that Post-Punk stuff of the early 80's. The lyrics are again honest and painful “Had a troubled childhood, Something on my mind, Pain through teens, self-hatred grows, I know my freakish means”. I am a man who loves words. Few bands touch on the excellence of Not Right for lyric writing. The haunting otherness of the music here frames the lyrics like Tim Burton frames a fairytale. Disturbingly.
‘Anti-Social Media’ begins with a fucked up monk chanting about mobile phones and social media. Short bursts of anarcho tribal punk with chanting between ranting. Yes social media is shit, well said.
‘Kirstys PHD’ is a 23 second track about Kirsty’s PHD being in punk. I think.
Thump, thump, pound, chant, growl, articulate. ‘Never Back Down’ is another forceful anthem about getting crap off an audience because of who you are and taking the philosophy of never backing down into the whole of life. Stand your ground. An excellent couple of minutes of finest quality punk rock to boot.
Every time I have been on a demo the police have been there to protect empire and evil, whether it be hassling protesters when the far right march or breaking up a peace camp. Therefore I can relate to “The Facilitation of Lawful Protest” again the lyrics are angry with good cause “Policeman doing a bailiff’s job, Facilitation of lawful protest, Dragging Christians from a church, Facilitation of lawful protest”. Catchy riffage, pounding drums, sing-a-long punkage. Awesome, rounded track. Get in the pit and think.
So to the final track ‘My Body’ another slow haunting number until it turns into an in your face stand-off then relaxes into its slow scary pace. “Mine is the body of fantasies, dreams, Shemale pin-up, late night TV. Mine is the body you hate to love. Wanking alone, I warm your blood”. The track gets inside the twisted psyche of prejudice and asks questions without closing the discourse. Just where do some people get off?
Not a comfortable album. When did comfort enter punk rock? Probably about the same time as nostalgia. Well its duvet and Never Mind the Bollocks time for me so fuck off.
That's enough of me here's what Not Right say about themselves:-
“We are: punk attitude, riot grrrl aesthetic, queer feminist rage, the politic of “people” before “profit”. We are the lead guitarist who doesn't solo, the trombonist playing percussion, the singer who just shouts. We are hatred, we are joy, we are noise for the sake of noise. We are Not Right”.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
SEXTON MING - PROTECT AND SURVIVE
What I have in front of me is a beautiful (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) Sexton Ming Picture disc LP. I am the proud owner of a couple of Sexton's solo albums and a couple he did with Billy Childish. I have liked the chap, for some reason, for many years. For those who do not know the said gentleman, he comes over as Ivor Cutler, Scott Walker, Tom Waits, Quentin Crisp and Kurt Weill all caught up in an explosion in a chocolate factory as Edgar Lear is walking past. For me he is as punk as fuck and more so, in that he does exactly what he wants to do and is totally D.I.Y. Protect and Survive is best understood as a whole, but I will review track by track despite the whole being more than the sum of its parts. As a disclaimer I have no idea what is making some of the sounds on this album but I do know it’s not instruments you would find on an Exploited album. I also know there’s a Harmonium on here. Buy a copy and see if you can pick it out.
'The Look of Len' kicks off with some slow Discordia with a touch of Scott Walkers madness. There are pleasant small cymbal sounds of an unknown nature and the vocalist seems to be getting more irate as the song progresses. This moves easy into the second track 'Gentle', where we are treated to odd snippets of lyrics gentle, gentle, gentle, softly, softly catch ye monkey. This is sung to a semi-classical guitar and although I am enjoying the experience I have no idea what is going on.
'The Great Whale' seems to come from somewhere deep in Captain Ahab’s insanity. There are Tom Waits-esque vocals singing out of some well structured weirdness, which sucks you in with its possessed charm. 2The great whale forgive me” croons Sexton. We await to see if it does.
Moving on to - 'Midgets on Crowded Trains' which chugs along like Blain the Pain from Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. An eerie railway effect. The track has a tribal feel and should be played very loud in a fetish club (or not). The title track 'Protect and Survive' has some beautiful guitar work alongside an operatic vocal which together create a wonderful, supernal, soundscape. It’s as if Klaus Nomi had crept from his grave after chilling out some.
'Charlton Heston Has Hate In His Eyes' is a factual statement but it is also the name of the next track. It begins with an organ or piano (I cannot tell, but also do not know if I am supposed to) accompanied by an off kilter vocal the track morphs into a dialogue between an officer and a number (or God and Charlton, possibly) and ends in Charlton being flogged amongst the sound of rubber. And Lewis Carol is nowhere in sight.
'The Ghosts of Holloway Prison' has a Gavin Bryers type quality with the sounds of eerie goings on in a gothic prison. The organ accompanies the sound of a wrench whilst doors clang and an odd sample visits the proceedings.
Side 1 concludes with 'Mrs Hooley O’ Cooker'. This is the place where Ivor Cutler meets The Dubliners in a song about a child killing. We do not know why the said lady killed the child but we do know she has hairy legs and is going to hang.
Side 2’s first track reveals what an amazing sense of humour Sexton Ming has got. 'Grabbin Gran' begins with an almost subordinal vocal and a detuned silver machine (yes the Hawkwind track). However it is about a granny who lives next door who is after a toy boy. Sexton sings in first person as the granny. Granny growls at the young lad next door that she is old enough to be his mum as 'Silver Machine' clunks the outro. Splendid stuff indeed, indeed, indeed. 'Gold Sunlight on Dark Bathroom Tiles' - slow industrial piano somewhat akin to Dutch outfit Orpheus Machine. Another fine discordant soundscape. 'Jazzy the Serving Wench' gives us a more up-tempo, almost punk dance with pulsating beats. Klaus Nomi has been dug up again and has joined Anarchistwood for some mayhem-good chap.
It’s now time for some slower acoustic stuff of possibly a political nature (who knows) mixed with some nonsensical stuff. It’s about a medieval wife whose husband can’t wait for “the promiscuous sixties” – fair enough. 'The Church of Litton Cheney' starts with some strange and thunderous pleadings leading into some music which could almost have been lifted straight from Patti Smiths 'Horses' album. Moving on to some cool guitar and a steam/horror punk feel, all taking place in Ivor Cutler’s living room, where a medieval dialogue ballad is taking place whilst a German expressionist movie takes place within the same space. Then again it might be nothing of the sort and the feelings I just described might be due to some undetected illness within myself. Amazingly creative stuff none the less.
The penultimate track “Detention with Mr Revington” kicks off with an industrial start with pounding drums and whirring synth. Splendid in its repetitiveness. The track is interrupted by the man in the flat downstairs enquiring as to the noise. After explanations the track continues in the same vein of the industrial shit that I adore so much. The album finishes with 'Nerdy Girl'. A live acoustic punk track about a nerdy girl who has naked fights, likes mice and collects spark plugs.
So overall a difficult album to review, not because it’s bad because in my mind it’s a splendid piece of art. It oozes with DIY enthusiasm, fun and originality, but difficult to review due to lack of reference points. It is that original. As much as I love his previous stuff this album has gone way beyond, it has more depth of sound, more musical angles and Sexton's quirkiness has been honed and sharpened. Enter into the journey which takes place on two sides of vinyl and your sanity might be tampered with - but it’s worth the risk. The majority probably will not get the point of this album but surely that is one of the points of DIY, you do what you want and wait for the rest to catch up.
At times I do not understand Sexton Ming. There are other times when I am not quite sure where he is coming from. All of the time this lack of understanding pleases me. It somehow makes me feel safe. But this one thing I know...I fuckin’ love this album.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
EXIT THE NETWORK - EVERYDAY OBJECTS
I have been asked by Johnny Vincent, front guy from Exit The Network to do an honest review of their forthcoming album. So honestly, here’s what I think:-
The album kicks off with 'Pondlife', which is a pounding and angular tune. Intense in a Munch's Scream kind of way, get ready to implode. It is punk but thank goodness not of the generic variety, think the jaggedness of Crisis (one of my favourite old school punk bands). The songs opening moment could almost be The Exploited (but Exit The Network are too intelligent to be followers) until the Mark E Smithesque vocals kick in and the Joy Division-sequel bass line. First time I listened to this track I thought it was good but the second time it hooked me in then fucking bit me. The lyrics “can't think” are repeated often throughout the song, they obviously can think to be able to produce a track this educated and crafted.
'Don't Need It is the next song to come under scrutiny. It kicks off with crunchy guitar and death beat drumming. Another track belonging to the days when being a punk band meant you could play whatever the fuck you wanted. The lyrics are well thought through and there are no empty one liners, no flexing of muscle, just musically tight determination. Smidgens of the better anarcho bands but still with the Joy Division/Crisis angles and Steve Lake meets Mark E Smith at a Gang of Four gig vocals. There is a personal politic etched into the song with the positioning of oneself in the wider world. Another winner.
The third song 'Run' is akin to a post-modern apocalypse in the world of The Pop Group and Foucault. Musically they are indeed approaching a “brand new age” with 'Run'. The track is musically very left of field but with punk rock intentions and attitude. Again crafted and very thoughtful. Exit The Network will, thankfully, never be found in a punk rock by numbers book and for this I love them. The song speaks gently with a third person political voice with real concern about the shit going down in the world “going to get you when you go on strike” the listener is warned. The band know there’s a class war going on but realize volume isn’t the only way of getting their message across. FOR YOU THAT’S HOW THE WORLD COULD CHANGE, NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHISPER.
'Design' is a quieter, slower number. Less angular, more in the groove. The vocals are pissed off but slowly determined. There is a beautiful use of repetition which gloriously reminds me of Can but a Can who have been sleeping with Crisis and Flux. I love this track but it took a few seconds to grab me. It is obvious that the band have a love affair with their music and here they smooch. Few bands achieve the musical depth and colour we see here, especially in the punk world and to add to this, it reminds me a little of Zounds - sweet.
'Behind You', begins with swirling guitar and a pounding drum beat. It conjures up feelings of otherness. Musically it reminded me of a place I vaguely remembered from years ago. Then it clicked, the place was Peterborough circa 1978, when a young band, The Dole were doing their thing. If anyone remembers The Doles single 'New Wave Love/ Hungry Men No Longer Steal Sheep But Are There Hanging Judges' then you will have an inkling where I am coming from. That is in no way indicating 'Behind You' sounds dated, it doesn't. This track excites me because although punk is my first musical love often the range of emotions it provokes are limited. 'Behind You' triggers a wide range of emotions and almost feels ethereal and for some reason reminds me of Iggy Pops 'Passenger'. It sounds nothing like it but evokes very similar feelings within me. It has its own distinctive sound which is complex and angular but definitely very punk rock.
'Turing Machine' swaggers on in with a tight drum opener and an attitude. The crushing guitar halts and vocals are semi-spoken. There is so much going on and Exit The Network jerk around like an Ian Curtis dance caught up in a 100 Philistine Foreskins song. The song also kind of gallops in a 100 Philistine Foreskins kind of way . Again splendid use of repetition “the more you speak, the less they seek” chants the vocalist in an earnest but unpretentious manner. The track is multi-layered and multi-faceted. Yet more proof that the band haven’t held anything back but have put their all into this album. Parole King once sang about life being a tapestry of rich and royal hue... Exit The Network come over as an intensely woven soundscape where every sound adds to the overall colourful sonic picture.
Next we have 'Shoe' another almost laid back song which isn’t so edgy as the rest of the album. Although musically different it has the same kind of force as an early New Model Army song. The band don’t need noise, volume or speed to score. Instead they disturb the listener by tunefully making them feel uncomfortable, occasionally provoking the same feelings caused by the discordant compositions of some neo-Austrian composers. There are undertones of The Stranglers circa The Black and White album but Brunel and the boys have been knocking about with Joy Division and Wasted Life. The track ends with some excellent riffage which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Clash's first album. All the time echoing the sentiments coined in the songs line "nothing left, no human rights”
The penultimate track 'The Wall' perhaps coincidently, reminds me of 'New Way' by The Wall. The band aren’t afraid to take chances and the track kicks off with a biscuit tin drum intro which sounds tinny but tinniness is what’s required, there is nothing wrong with clangs and echoes. There are riffs, fuck there are riffs. This machine is well oiled and precise. This is not four blokes it is a single unit, as tight as Cameron conducting an Atos assessment. If this track was a hospital ward it would be where schizophrenia, mania and paranoia were inappropriately treated. Yet there are traces of UK Subs left in the packet and on the flip-side Exit The Network certainly ain’t no suckers. The Stooges 'No Fun' kind of creeps in and Johnny Vincent sings “the drugs don’t work they say and the alcohol has lost its taste”. Yes there are echoes of other bands in this song but they are just echoes or possibly even phantoms captured and trained by the band to perform new musical manoeuvres.
'Fixed' is the title of the last track which has more of a generic punk intro but musically the track could be Zounds playing The Exploited's “Dogs of War”. It has a more straight ahead feel but the vocals remain edgy and angular with the musicianship being top quality. Again there is the Kraut Rock repetitiveness with Johnny chanting “that’s the reason it will never be fixed”. Overall another fine track.
The Verdict - If I was going to mark this album out of 10 I would give it 9 ½, they would loose the half just so I didn’t come over as kissing arse 100%. The album is brilliant, no bullshit, its just brilliant. The band obviously put a lot of time, effort, emotion, conviction etc. into the album and it paid off. I would like to thank them personally because I was asked for an honest review, under the circumstances I would have felt a right twat if I had to give them a bad review. I have seldom heard a punk album of this quality and for me it touches all the right places. It is original but fits in well with the musical evolution of left of field punk rock. It takes quality influences and twists them to fit its own direction. It is deeper than Loch Lomond and has more angles than a many multi-sided mathematical shape. The work is polished but the edges merely got sharper with the polishing. If Adult Orientated (punk) Rock meant not being a childish twat but presenting as thoughtful, thought provoking, educated and clued in, then this could be A.O.R. or punk music for the thinking man (or woman, in days of equality). Buy two copies of this album, one for your pleasure, the other to force feed to the next generic punk band who are to inspire some other generic punk band. Like I say, brilliant, just fucking brilliant.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)
MANTA BIROSTRIS - BOG UROJONY EP
Ok so what on earth have we got here? None other than a polish punk EP with industrial overtones. This strange beast was sent to be by polish punk rocker Adam Sokół so I am going to try and review it.
Track 1 – Wiosna (pronounce it and anything else any way you want, even tomato). This is a piece of eastern mystic chant with grind punk, God Fleshy sounding guitar. This I like YES for those who don’t like hippy crap. Reminiscent of Killdozer and Kalinger Co if they were to have a car crash with Ravi Shankar. ‘You’re my sitar hero’.
Track 2-Bóg urojony more polish language chanty punk rock but this time it makes me think old French punk band Komintern Sect. To really unsettle you there’s slight hints of industrial repetiveness thrown in. I think I will start drinking tea again.
Track 3- Preludium. This track is more anarcho industrial, think The Ex and chuck in a Slab of sub tonal dance with Front 242, Front Line Assembly vibes. The vocals are tuneful and growly and the effect is unsettling in an early Einsturzende Neubarten kind of way. It’s nice to hear some experimentation in punk still. Hey Ho Lets Go and let’s eat Depeche Mode for breakfast.
Track 4- Klamca - Polish spoken word intro. I do not know what’s going on but things might be scary. Aaaagggghhhhhhh they got scarier (sorry did I frighten you?). The noise sucks me in and I have no idea where I am. No reference points and no Sat Nav, best enjoy my stay. Hark I hear the rumblings of familiar punk rock yet the growls and echoes keep my senses keen and my mosh pit worn body jerking.
Track 5- Wczorajsi królowie - Acoustica chanting. There is a strange tale being told in a language I do not understand.
Overall - I thoroughly enjoyed this dance with the unfamiliar in a land we call DIY punk rock.
Review by Gary Eagling (Eagle Spits)