CD REVIEWS (Guest Reviewers) Page 2


Take four middle aged working class blokes from London/South England, add a touch of disillusionment with the invasion of punk by American pop punk, and the current social economic climate and what do you get. Three tracks of pure old school British punk rock courtesy of UK Vacant.

'This Society' had it been released in 77/78 could have gone on to be a punk anthem with its snarling lyrics and fist in the air chorus tackling street violence. 'Watching Me' takes the band musically into the early eighties, again in yer face delivery of both vocals and the music gets the point over about the rise in CCTV surveillance. The Final track 'Never Change' again incorporates a catchy chorus and keeps up the tempo of 'Watchin Me' and brings to an all of a sudden close this first outing from UK Vacant, leaving me wanting more, just how it should be. Not overdone guitar solos, just short stabs of unadulterated punk rock.

To sum up, a great cross between 77 punk and Oi with a touch of early UK82 hardcore done bloody well!  and not one lecture to save the one legged anti-nuclear amoeba in Iraq anywhere to be heard, a joy! Yoghurt knitters beware punks going back to its roots.

Review by Humdrum Andy



Coming out of Stockton, California The Blameshifters rightly fly the DIY flag and this three piece happily promote themselves as good old fashioned melodic speed punk. An initial independently recorded and released album entitled ‘Feast Before Famine’ was inflicted on the North California scene in 2005 and again ‘Disenfranchised Anarchist’ is another true independent release.

After hearing a couple of taster tracks from the album, I had high hopes of an American band who did not go down the so predictable American pop punk route, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The album kicks off at a great high speed tempo with ‘Fish in a Barrel’ and gives a hint of the tongue in cheek sarcasm of the lyrics that flow through the album. Although all tracks on first listening give you a familiar feeling (NOFX, Bad Religion and even musically The Dickies flashed through my mind at some point) without sounding like anybody in particular, out of nowhere comes a riff that makes the track easily distinguishable from the next and a closer listen to the lyrics on future plays brings a wry smile with the bands take on American life.   It’s a difficult choice but ‘Not Religious’ is the highlight of the first half of the album with its catchy riffs, harmonies and anti-priest lyrics all packed in under two minutes two seconds. An irritating highlight as I had the tune and chorus in my head for the best part of a day! No mean feat if you know me and my short term memory.  

Riffs, melodies and harmonies are prevalent throughout the album and it’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into crafting each of the songs, without over doing it. A lot of albums suffer midway through, not this one. Some of the strongest tracks keep the attention span in check particularly ‘Our Flag Rules’ followed by the title track ‘Disenfranchised Anarchist’ and my personal favourite, ‘Those Guys’. With the very occasional drop in tempo this album comes to an all too sudden close with the final two tracks ‘We’re not that Dumb’ and ‘Stupid Drunk Kid’, both follow a similar format to earlier tracks, but again new elements are thrown in to drag your attention back

Overall a well crafted album with high quality production for a DIY release and a worthy addition to anybody’s CD collection. If two minute catchy melodic speed punk is your thing, then it’s a definite buy.

Check out the band:

Disenfranchised Anarchist by The Blameshifters will be the featured album on the Humdrumpunk Podcast FNA024 on November 29th 2008, tune in at

Review by Humdrum Andy



Lowlife UK has a solid ‘ruckus’ record, and with their established status around the scene,  maybe it’s true what they say - ‘the one who screams the loudest, gets notice,’ because their latest CD, ‘That’s Just How It is,’ will not be sitting alone on the shelf. As I began this CD review, I have been informed that there is yet another CD being recorded entitled, ‘The Hypnotized Never Lie.’  Now this is a band that seems to have something to say.  I decided to doe both CD’s because they each have equal rockin’ power. 

What a better subject than to write about broken promises, and an unrealistic future…eh?  ‘A Short Fuse,’ opens with an unpredictable beginning, but leaves me anticipating that big sound launcher.  It does.  Gliding on top of three long chords, Beaker, the lead vocalist, is in echoed spoken word as the sample is taken straight out of the movie, ‘Fight Club.’   In a clear ending of, “…very, very, pissed off,” the rollicking tempo jumps in.  Cascading into the three-chord changes, Beaker’s scratched-up lead growls in unison with the back-ups-only to having me refer my memory back to the similar vocal style of Sweeney Todd from The Dead Pets.  Fat Paul Enema is on guitar, exporting the in-yer-face metal start/stops prior to the screaming riff and twiddlings. The chorus and back-ups are catchy and now explosive repeats, all ready for the beat stomp.  Beaker’s recruited shouts end in one drawn out gargling growl.

The next song has my favorite sound-the rolling tribal drums.  Longer guitar chords switches to metal-punk angst gradually keeping that mid-tempo beat on, ‘Dead and Gone.’  It’s Gazz’s repeat tribal drums and Beaker’s growling bits setting up the chorus lead-in.  As the short stabbing guitar supports underneath that chorus, Beaker is effortlessly rattling off verse.  Just then, in chimes Fat Paul’s spotlighting lead-guitar quickly making a grand exit with one high-pitch pull at the end riff.  However, Beaker doesn’t appear to be finished. With one more round on verse with volunteering, ‘woh-oh’ back-ups, it’s the guitar-fused chords as well as the chorus that opens up the tune.  Although the lyrics are simple, it’s totally made for crowd shouts and for fists a-flyin’.

I like this next song, ‘I Do Not Fear.’  There is an AC/DC, ‘A Whole Lot of Rosie’ reference as Paul’s rock ‘n roll melody is the solo opener.  Just when there is a one-sear lead-in of drum pangs and longer bass notes, in pops up a mustering groove.  Beaker’s vocals are fiercer, bolstering a sharper tone; however, it is here that the rockin’ riff carries the melody.  On the chorus (with cymbal crashes and drums), real rock meets street punk.  I like Beaker’s two-timing growl-scowl as Paul launches his melodic riff-too bad it left me feeling it was all too short.  Pausing, Beaker croons a one split-second blurb before lending the melody to Papa Luigi on bass.  Here, it is the bass and drum that hoists the drum rolls two times before the sudden crash.

This next song begins with a smuggled American recorded dialog out of the movie track of, “The Shining,” with Jack Nicholson. It begins… “Here’s to five miserable months on the wagon…and all the irrefutable harm that it’s caused me…,” as it begins the next song, ‘Live To Drink.’  Off-beated and off-handed drum rolls palpitate with syncopations, cramming in the chorus and a catchy bass-pluck solo.  Beaker’s croon-in-the gut scratches the third verse along with his gang posse on the chorus-all on the off-beat which has the guitar fading underneath.  With the beat slamming on the brakes to a full stop, it is the drum that doesn’t hesitate to take the reins in one more round leading to the ultimate burdened crash.

A two-noted rhythm takes the grand stand with Papa Luigi’s bass in, ‘One Foot In The Grave.’  Paul maestros his sharp-metal chords, to have Beaker following suit with grizzly shouts on the verse.  Gang vocal participation, for sure, as the chorus is wrapped up into initiated primal aggression.  It’s after the chorus repeats that the guitar, bass, and drum are all on the rhythm together.  Further, as the drums spearhead the framework, it is like a cliff hanger-ending the song before I know it.

What makes this next song the best song on the CD is its attitude.  ‘Cut You Down,’ begins with three ticks before the three-chorded metal melody, and all before the first verse, Beaker’s clear but angry-filled vocals produce a great faded echo.  As heavy guitar baptisms are sandwiched between the lyrics, a circle of swirling guitar and gang chorus is unquestionably poignant.  The hornet-scream adds contrast, leaving space for bass and drum as the bridge builds to crescendo-with alternating guitar.  Excellent revolutions of drum pangs on the clever beat of, “Wipe that smile…,” reiterating Lowlife UK’s flat lining angst.

Ending the CD with the self-entitled song, ’That’s Just How It Is,’ a surprise of solemn fuzz-chords begins forcing the drum to kick the ass back into the drum-beat.  Paul adds a proper riff this time around, jamming out while suspending that beat. The MC5 rock ‘n’ roll leanings are beefy and driving.  To wrap it up, Beaker catches his breathe to belt out a growled-out, “yeah!” as Paul loses control in the guitar wa-wa reverb, pulling all the stops in character form.  What a crackin’ warm up for the new CD.

[As an honorable mention: The Ramones cover tribute, ‘Glad To See You Go,’ gallivants into a sequenced 1-2-3-4 of heavy-handed drums maligned with signature harmonies that target with poetic pop-license all at the expense of Lowlife UK having fun.  It’s fast, it’s sardonic, it’s pop

Review by Jillian Abbene



Well, I'm not going to lie to you - 'The Hypnotized Never Lies,' CD threw me off.  I wasn't prepared for Beaker’s vocals - not strained in the higher-registered metal-shriek/shout of Lemmy that seems to come naturally; rather than the darker guttural voicings produced on the previous album.   With it comes a different attitude and a different sound.

I just couldn’t digest this album all in one listen. Cancelling out any assumptions, these songs are still  hemmed on the angst - just as the last album, however, they are given musical liberties of pushing the ‘DIY’ to all things rock.  Like a chronic internal boil of solid melodies from Fat Paul, and concentrated rhythms from Gaz and Andy, each song undeniably maligns Beaker’s style of growl/scowl as a cleaner sound.  It changes the whole CD.

Let’s start with the first song, ‘Insomnia’.  It kicks off in 2/4th rhythm on heavy guitar chords harnessed by convulsive syncopated thrash drum-pounds that hit on that off-beat.  On impact, Beaker's sharp and scratchy vocals along with back-up chorus-shouts, is slotted for air-punchin’ with fists a-flyin'.  As the M8 splinters off with Andy’s (Papa Luigi) solo bass-line, Gaz’s drum pedal is accompanied by four-noted guitar-squeals and guitar feedback.  It crescendos and breaks away into a mini-guitar riff confirming that this is full-tilt rock ‘n’ roll.  With the bridge moonshining into high-registered squeals, all the elements of Metal swing back to the tempoed guitar on the third verse.  With repeated gang chorus, fast-fusion guitar, plumped-bass, and thudded-drums, lead vocals add to the fierceness in a shouted, 'Insomnia!' to the end. 

The opening second song begins with four-bar guitar chords and Paul’s faded echo-shout accapella is a precursor on, ‘Down In The City.’  Impaling in that syncopated time, Beaker’s scowley-growl trails off after each verse.  Just then, rebel-guitar busts into rhythm, giving this song real grit.  After the second round of chorus, the bridge of the song is in slo-mo, as Beaker now speaks with conviction on, “This dog’ll fight…”  A haunting one-noted guitar-pull pierces through the chorus as the melody punctuates on beat to have it all crash at the stop.  This is one of my favorite songs on the CD.

An interjection of regulated street/Oi, ‘Don’t Let Them,’ is a catchy, steady tune.  It is noted that the guitar lead is in unison with the lead vocals.  The unrestrained emphasis is then tacked on the end of each verse, and the lyrics are escorted as brazen insults from a job gone wrong. I totally relate to this song.  In the middle of the song, there is a hold-off on the lead vocals before the chorus repeats one more time before the last verse, ‘…such a little shit.’  With the accapella guitar-melody strums, a one high-noted squeal drifts to trail off to the end of this song.

This next disenfranchised song, ‘Anti-You,’ is more of a scampering rock ‘n’ roll beat that reforms to a punk/metal vibe.  With readily appointed shouts and uncoiling rhythm, Fat Paul’s signature tune is techniqued with slide guitar while taking over on the M8 as a revolving door.  At the end of the chorus, Beaker lets out one helluva belt!  It’s all in an old-school framework with a contemporary guitar melody - which I think are the secret ingredients to their sound. Now back to the third verse - the repeat chorus alongside the nostril-flaring guitar before the reprieve, repeats to a slow-burn fade out.

In savaged sexual aggression, snarled growls in, ‘Glad Your Name,’ slashes out more identifiable rock ‘n’ roll (think Motorhead).  The melodic chorus is culminated by cymbal tings together with Paul’s bookended echo-bellows.  Gaz’s drumbeat is really the master of this domain, as the second verse catnips the M8 to a crescendo then into the harrowing chorus.  Beaker’s lower-register vocals trade off on shouts of, ‘’No More!” and switching off that bristled motor-mouth growl.  A swirl of Andy’s guitar riff makes this song a ‘must have’ favorite.

With red-hot immediacy, the odd-noted chorus and syncopated drums in, ‘Dead From The Neck Up,’ can be declared the black horse of the album.   An encompassing surge of guitar in between unexpected rollicking drum beats converge with swells of heavy guitar chords along with surprising melodic sharp and flat notes on the gang chorus.  Stopping with just enough guitar squeal, a reprieve gives enough space to burn a speed-metal riff.  The expansive insurgency swings back like a pendulum cutting off the beat at the end.

After a four-bar tinned-out guitar melody, Andy’s thumpin’ bass and Gaz’s heavy-handed drum-pounds are the beef.  The chords are longer strum-intervals underneath the framework of polyrhythms.  Switching beat, the bridge launches a set up with a group-chorus shingled by Beaker’s vocal shouts.  Naturally, Beaker ends the song with him having the final say.
With a howl, a crash of guitar (infused with wa-wa chords), a guttural ‘yeah!’ and Beaker’s bristled shout, ‘I’ve got a Fuckin’ Right!’ is an impressive version of Iggy and The Stooges' original.  Splitting into squealin’ guitar notes and then a guitar riff, Beaker shouts, growls and shrieks to the accapella drum-pedaled beat.  Frogging up in echo resonance, it’s full throttled cadence - made for fist shakin’, cussin,’ moshin’ and head bangin’.

Further, just as I thought this song was over, it bleeds into, ‘Outro.’  A four-minute jam of high squeals and wa-wa pedal repeats.  Separated by feedback and a tromped beat, the entire song morphs into a melancholic bend, dispelling into a white wall of fuzz. Nice!

Now that Lowlife UK has exercised some real chops on this CD, I wonder..."can they top this?" For me, no worries...I've been convinced for some time now and remain a loyal fan. As for the rest of you - you'll just have to listen to these two awesome CDs in the meantime and wait for the next one. 

Review by Jillian Abbene



It is the bludgeoned drums,  the shoveling guitar chords encrusted over slapped-bass workings, and the support of the political rantings for one infuriated message that gives Refuse/All the reputation for bringing a 'too punk' of an audience to their local venue.   It is clear why they hold their margin of success alongside great bands such as, The Restarts, GBH, The Varukers, The Rabble and Argy Bargy.  You can’t argue with that.

Since 2005, they have been bashing out their own brand of DIY London-based punk with tenacity. These guys definitely are not the kind of band that would just throw it all together at the last minute for just a simple jump-around. It is within their newest CD, ‘What Lurks Beneath,' Refuse/All exudes as a serious band.  They certainly haven’t run out of enough material calculating into chunked-up fury.  With their interesting mix of street punk, thrash, and even punk ‘n' roll, no listener can even try to guess who they sound like because it’s a different measure weighing of style within each song. 

Their first song, ‘Fear Of Freedom,’ opens with a steady accappella drum pedal followed by Gary’s prevalent tinny rhythm guitar - just like they used to sound in the old school days.  Shea’s lead guitar style is high-pitched yet scratchy as it sets up the ‘breather’ before the lead vocalist Kev, gives out the belter.  There is something about Kev’s vocals particularly that makes him sound exceptionally angry.   Projecting in his deep, gravelly vocals all with booming awareness, he is coupled with the rest of the band, and yet he contributes with definable tuneage.  Holding no bar in his bellow, the cadence is held by Charlie’s drums (a left-handed drummer at that!) all in a counter-argument of dense guitar and rapid-fire beats. 

Leon’s rollicking bass and drums in between verse keeps the song in somewhat of a metal fair.  Bypassing the chorus, the lead riff twiddlings apex to the M8 with a clear switchblade flick before it turns back to the first verse tune inclusive of Kev’s grated, guttural tantrums.  UK tailored; it’s all in an infuriating cockney-accented message.   

A metallic guitar intro in, ‘Not Just A Dream,’ begins in a semi-distant fade before a gargantuan beat-stomp that leads to one solitary guitar sear.  Kev’s ominous guttural stream of high-registered vocals along with Shea’s mimicking guitar riff, makes this an emotive song.  You can tell Kev is really exuding the state of alert, with the repeat verse on the third time around as the stream of lyrics is all in one spontaneous growl.  There is no second guessing as the ending plateaus with pounding drums on chorus and a spitting red-alert riff is pressed between Gary and Leon’s musical structure to a sudden halt.  

The next song has clean guitar chords that begins with Leon’s heavy-dubbed bass. It’s a beefy stand-out against the ranking-ska beat of the drum in, ‘Sad Man.’ Interestingly, it’s all metal - but a unique sound.  With Leon keeping the pace, nice drum rolls in before Kev delivers calculated fierceness possessed with two bars of vocal animation, and two bars of drum and guitar grooves, all grouped together with a start and stop stance.  It’s a nice set up for the upcoming chorus.  Breaking from cadence from 2/4 metered time to ½ time; the guitar is now in fuzzed-up chords swinging into a pendulum of a gang-chorus back-beat.  The constant smashing drums wraps up the song as Kev lets out at the last guttural verse.

This next song entitled, ‘What Lurks Beneath,’ really puts the stamp on this CD as a keeper.  The sinister yet slower intro unfolds slowly.  Jumping in, the buzz-saw guitar chords follow with sear-guitar slides.  It’s a circle-pit dream.  Despite the fact that Kev is intentionally less tuneful, the fuzzed guitar chops unexpectedly, picking up the pace and plows right through - creating a path for the tune to carve out a nice groove.  With vocals just coasting on verse,  Shea shoots off a pronged crazy-guitar riff. The rallying gang-chorus repeats on, “I will not accept your version of...reality!” gives birth to that tribe-like vibe.  Really poignant.  As it sounds as if their message aims directly at the listener.  For good measure, the lyrics here shell out their stance of today’s UK government - that there is no assurance in the government system, that the wealthy are in control, and the daunting dismay that the rest of us is not exempt from struggle in adversity.   

In the next song, ‘Computer Literate Illiterate,’  hydraulic drum ‘n' bass rev up the guitar chords.  Kev’s graveled belts grate over tight-guitar fury.  I especially like the M8 with a brief rock ‘n roll riff as the chords crank hard to the third verse.  The drum-beated solo reacts similarly to how silly string is dispensed from a can - the nozzle on the can is held down as it lets all of its contents go.  Sometimes it is in steady spurts, sometimes it is in one long stream that runs out at the stop. It is a nice touch.

High-pitched tinny guitar and drum pounds lead to a crescendo of triplicate tribal drums in, ‘Beatles Bequest.” From guitar chords to foot pedal, the first verse crashes with a more melodic vocal.  The spotlight aims at the lead guitar riff.  Heavy-handed tribal drums push the dismayed mammoth chorus on impact.  Kev has plenty to say regarding the government and its inability to fulfill its job at taking care of their own, as Charlie joins in on the message with pounds on those triplicate drums.  The guitar tune is the reprieve as the tinny guitar is introduced just one more time.

This next song is a honorable mention.   Just when I think I know what to expect, Refuse/All switch to a rock ‘n roll song entitled, ‘Terror Stormtroopers.’  Skewed with a catchy opening of revved up guitar, the first verse in the chorus makes a leap with politically charged chorus shouts of, “Terror storm troopers!”  Packed in with simultaneous angst, the chunked-up gang support emanates a darkness making this song a heavy hitter.  Kev’s staccattoed gasp along with the M8 is a high-rollin’ riff that totally makes this song.

Who would have known that Refuse/All could also deliver a ballad? Not only do they deliver it, but they deliver it with haunting success in, ‘Rise Non-Believers'.   Personally I believe that this song is the perfect closure for the CD.  Kev’s monotone balladry is a crooned and haunting battle cry.  Shea’s equally melancholic guitar is solemn and solitary.  The second verse is crammed with heavy-chorded strokes that shifts from despair into a fast cadence of fury.  It is noted that Kev actually jumps an octave - not an easy task for someone with such deep vocals. There’s a mint rock and roll riff packed with fierceness as the song lowers itself back into the slower solemn beat inclusive of a cymbal shimmer and Kev’s accappella to the fade.

Refuse/All isn’t swayed by commercialism, nor are they bullied by the government, and they certainly do not accept those who cannot hold their own.  There’s no doubt these guys dwell mightly in the trenches.  I can only imagine what their live set sounds like - most likely fast, intense and loud.  Get their CD first before you see them live though - these guys have the kind of sound you need to take it all in. 

Kev sums it up by stating, “If there’s something to refuse, we bloody well would, and we’d do it louder than anyone else. We will play anywhere, in any country not just UK (if practical), in any building, anywhere with electricity, really. ”  So there you have it.   Anyone wanting to book these guys for serious punk, get a hold of them on MySpace.

Review by Jillian Abbene



Let me tell you why I write reviews…it is the band(s) such as The Kirkz that have been around since 1998 that never ever reach the USA music market. Hell, I’m just finding out about them, and I’ll tell you what—I don’t think I’ll forget them.  While christened by the TNS record label and their spit-fire mates The Revenge of the Psychotronic Man and The Shadowcops, these guys have managed to jump onto The Rebellion Fest stage this past August in Blackpool, UK without even finishing a full CD (due to launch January 2010).  I can tell you that after listening to some of their old stuff that The Kirkz are consistent with their signature elements with assurance that these guys have found their sounded niche.  

Listening to The Kirkz is one thing, describing their sound is a bit of another.  However, just imagine for a minute that you have fallen overboard off a boat and have plunged into the sea.  You feel your body sinking lower and lower as you hold your breathe—then suddenly, everything comes into focus as you panic, grasping for air.  Instinctually, you paddle frantically and relentlessly to reach the top.  That’s how it feels when I listen to The Kirkz.  They give the listener that same sense of unmistaken able urgency/emergency.  I can probably guess too, that if I saw them live, I would need to pay attention more so, as they have many twists and turns crammed within each song.  It’s that signature hurtling melody pocketed into a light-hearted angst that guarantees ignition for an action-packed circle pit filled with half-crazed punks. 

The Kirkz’ CD entitled, ‘Ratz,’ is a four-song taster-teaser.  Despite the four tracks, it drives on all 6 cylinders, and not on all fours.  The first song—you guessed it, ‘Ratz,’ is lead by Max’s lead vocals and a 1-2-3- beat on Ian’s comparable bass-line intros carbonating into a choppy, rollicking hyper ‘Dead-Pets’ mimic.  Hard thuds by G-man on drums and searing guitar from Caesar screams as Max binds it all together with his scratched up snotty melody.  It starts and stops more than once throughout the song.  The beat is amazingly catchy as the tune halts, and then spurts back into the surgey tune as Caesar and Ian switch off on mutual shouts. With Max holding up the chorus rasps, the hyperventilating synco-beats bottle neck into the M8 all with tumbling drum acrobatics and an entourage of heavy chorus shouts.  Conjugating into a coagulated force of guitar surges, a 10-second reprieve for the guitar leaps at the opportunity for a one-ended wild-twanged note.  

However, it’s after the second verse that the M8 repeats in counter clockwise.  Accapella, it switches to Max crooning in tinny nasal-vocals before the melodic mini M8 sweeps up the tune, and magnetically pulls back into the ever-angsty chorus.  Holding the rasp vocals on a long-noted croon, the ending delays in a 3-chorded stop to the end.  I personally think this is the best song they’ve written.

One long sear incorporates textures with each musical instrument.  That urgency is also on the second song, ‘Brain Dead,’ in a jacked-up beat as G-man’s precision thumps navigate the verse with every other word emphasized by MJ top-croons.  Led by guitar strums and drum thuds, a hypersensitive solo bass-beat adds a nice variety as the verbal spoken comment, ‘All right you little fucka,’ interjects just in the nick of time before the let’s-go impressive guitar sear and surge into a crescendo of rock ‘n’ roll riff.   In really fast metal guitar chunks, MJ’s growl seems to control the beat, as it slows just enough to head bang on the M8 chorus, ‘woh’s.’ It’s all shoved before the way is paved for a brick-wall stomp.

 ‘Born To Serve,’ is an emotive twist unleashing convulsive beats palpitating with intense swirls of tornadic fury.  As the guitar twiddle-dee and diaphragmed, ‘heys’ derive on one solo bass pluck, the energy ques with hard-hitting drums and guitar strikes.  This is all before the first verse, and MJ scratches a croon-tune with shouted response in between.  It’s all sandwiched into a compact beat as the vocals change the surge to ½ time, and the chorus melody is more simple and catchy in its theme.  Further, because it is in slower cadence, you can hear the lyrical intent and content.  I like this!

The croon-out on the key melody takes high stances, as a second round house of shrapnel verse-shouts chunk into the M8 in accapella style.  Quickening guitar-chord successions enable MJ to let out a mighty quasi-roar before the stabbing chorus of, ‘Help me, Help you!’ in four-time repeat as one single guitar strum finishes the job.

For starts, the last song, ‘Decapitation Policy,’ is just that - a decapitation of beat, vocals and content.  It’s unpredictablely plunky with the guitar opener emerging without allowing the listener a queue or a clue on what is next.  As MJ takes hold of the melody with one great yell, templating the rest of the song with rockin’ guitar riffage. 

However, that’s just the beginning.  Bass and drums in that accapella style, (with only the lead vocals in the chorus shouts) they planted at the end of the verse.  As the guitar instigates the crescendo of drum thuds and chorus invites, the vocal overlap is set in a roundabout.  Now with the punctuated drums on the second verse, it is more intense as it crests with guitar and full-fledged ganged chorus.  Surprisingly, again it twists and morphs into a form of scratched rap-meter, and is topped by a long guitar strum derailing MJ into a repeat of echo shouts sounding more like real hard core than anything else.  This song has great flexibility and versatility as it has added genre elements.

Ending the CD with the changing wind, the pack has made a different tune all lead by tribal drums, echoed lyrics and harmony ‘woh’s,’ bridging the gap while MJ belts out one last echo shout.

The Kirkz exhibit an air of fun-fair and mayhem—successfully transferring their energy and attitude onto their CD.  With the attitude of having fun being their main course and motto, I have just been told that their new CD will be released in the first couple of weeks in December as they are in the studio for more intense-filled creations.  Can’t wait to hear it! 

Review by Jillian Abbene



Although younger bucks, Gimp Fist have the maturity, intent, and spirit that are beyond their years.  Their musical structure is as solid as the more associated big Oi! guns they support.  Bands such as UK Subs, Last Resort, Millions of Dead Cops, Angelic Upstarts, and Keyside Strike give an impressive raised eyebrow despite their early beginnings.

Better yet—their newest CD, ‘Your Time Has Come,’ supersedes even their past releases.  With more surgance, and more cohesive melody structure, there’s an emotive element—not just barky angst.  Big claps to the lead vocalist Johnny, for developing a more defined vocal (in comparison to his tunes over the past couple of years.)  Heavily influenced by The Clash, The Ramones, Cockney Rejects, The 4 Skins, Argy Bargy, Desmond Decker and Pressure Point, it’s all wrapped up in Oi—with just a throw of street punk without losing their own identifiable sound.  With that, it is convincing and catchy. 

You can’t get more real that the first song, ‘Fighting To Survive,’ that starts with an amped squeal before quickly surging into pulsating three-chorded guitar.  Jumping right in, Johnny belts out clean verses.  You can make out the first bar in the beefed-up chorus by the backup vocals.  Even syncopations land on the drum/cymbal combo-crashes as the M8 approaches into an all-contained precise guitar riff, closing out with one guitar sear just in time for the second verse.  The triplicate drums after each line gives that extra little kick in the ass of the mighty surge that ends in a repeat chorus croon. 

Written about what’s important, their next song, ‘Working Class,’ has roots embedded within their lyrics. Chris opens with bass and carries the melody three bars in.  Johnny and Jack Millward add guitar (Jack is an additional honorary Gimp member) emphasizes the chugs by throwing in a bit of rhythm guitar.  Straight into the first verse, the cymbal crash and drum pounds between each verse pushes up against the cadence.  The backups are more subtle in the crooning shouts as the guitar has longer chorded strums.  Johnny’s raw vocals are dead-on croons while punctuated lyrics of, “…against the power and the greed,” match the quiffy M8.  The lead riff cleans up in a slightly tinny guitar, all the while Johnny’s lead guitar screams in the background.  The last few verses chuck in a bit more fervor, queuing up in urgency to be thrown into a sudden crash.

Ramones laddened, ‘Whatever Happened,’ begins in accapella with faster cadenced guitar plucks.  Johnny’s vocals are clear as the second verse adds substance to the rest of the bass-pulling beat leading right into the chorus. The bridge is a rock ‘n roll double-drum beat that fades back into the first verse repeat.  Anticipated drum rolls give a leg up to a more shouted chorus.  A nice mid-riff sets up the 2nd round of Johnny’s slight Joe Strummer influence vocal accapella that is exclamated in his shouts before colliding with harder drum-thuds rollicking into full-force rock ‘n roll guitar screams.  Before winding down, Gimp Fist get that last word in with Oi! Oi! shouts at the end.

This next song, ‘More War Stories,’ takes a break from the routine and is probably the best Clash-inspired song I’ve ever run across (in my humble opinion).  It’s all in the raw. Drum ticks and guitar-melody plucks open in an even metered Ska beat.  Although this song is the black sheep, there is a nostalgic flair to the Ska-toned strums. A jolted surge before the first verse adds a nice delinquent echo splitting the melody with harmonies on the, “La-La’s” within the chorus. The bridge flashes a more simplistic guitar riff before the Ska beat rolls back into the second round of Argy Bargy influenced chorus harmonies.  Veering off from the uncoiling guitar swells, the tune snaps back from the M8 to wrap up the final chorus echo. 

‘Skin Deep,’ opens in accapella street punk complete with a catchy guitar melody. As the slamming earnest guitar and steady-beated cymbal crashes, Johnny’s textured raspy vocals are sharp against the guitar-threaded melody giving off a sense of happy disenfranchisement.   As the chorus is crooned out with accompanied vocals by Big Neil Mortal and Stoney Strike from Keyside Strike, the vocals are culminated by the steady surge of guitar chords skipping a beat on the M8.  Immediately after the belted growl, the guitar riff takes center stage before shooting off and allowing the bass plucks to end in a shabby chorus toss-up. 

A filleted guitar-strummed melody intros into a quick chiseled syncopated snare beat in, ‘That Day Will Come.’ Johnny gives a shouted and passionate stance on verse.  With the call-and-response gang chorus, it methods in a regurgitated melody as the M8 breaks off into rollicking triple drum beats as it crashes its cymbals, and guitar melody expands to a blur at the end.

‘Heart Full Of Pride,’ is a very solid rendition from the original band, Perkele, that quietly accapellas in Johnny’s rasp.  Guitar plucks crescendo with each verse, and high registered vocals on the last four words of each verse create once again, that emotive element.  A really nice touch!  Alongside the ascending crashes on beat, the song opens up for the gang chorus.  Notably, the guitar riff in the middle seems as if it is part of the refrain, as it is an eased transition of beat-pound swells that brings in one more chorus-round.  Pushing through the drum shuffles, guitar and bass underscores in beat-crashes leading to the anticipated finale at the end.

‘This Is The Real World,’ caps as the last song on the CD.  As an opener, inserted is a recording of children shouting, “This is the real world!” intros into a smoother vocal melody as guitar glides above the slightly slower bass lines.  Just as you think it’s an even cadence, the song begins to bang on every other beat. The guitar progressions swell into the M8, laying out equal thumps of drum pedal and drum triplicates crescendoeing into the second verse. Laminating the beat in tribal drums, a dub-over movie clip ends rather abruptly with a sense of finality.

Gimp Fist manage to keep the framework still intact throughout the entire CD.  Although keeping in time with the Oi elements and gaining assistance from their friends, a fresh approach of street punk incorporated without the obvious blocked chopped sections, makes for a more tangible melody and for more noteworthy music writing.  Here they stand next to the rest of the memorable crew in the Oi brew.

Review by Jillian Abbene



In the eyes of those who are astute to the human condition, Paul Carter encapsulates the mischievous, facetious, raw view to his DIY lifestyle.  Like Billy Bragg, he knows the art of simplicity.  Further, his scamp-vintage punk rock may be glazed over by those looking for bells and whistles; however Paul’s humorous and offensive folklore is unplugged and unfiltered and has earned him respect across the UK.  His melodies are indeed catchy, and his gritty charm is punk-rock crude, rude and deviant - an enticing satirical liberation.

Paul’s newest CD, ‘I’m More Punk Than You,’ is clearly poking fun at those who compete in the punk scene, losing their own grit into looking commercial, manufactured and boring.  This CD is not so.  His suitably gravelly, gritted croon on each song has a subject that shows substance underneath.  With Paul’s tongue-in-check approach, it is literally displayed on the front of the actual CD for all to see.  Now that takes balls! Not many would fancy having a close up of their behind atop of a CD.

For openers, after a first song ode to Benny Hill entitled, ‘Benny Hill’, ‘X Factor,’ is the second song on the album that is unplugged and ques in a one-strum along with Paul’s hollowed yet serrated lyrics.  Mid-tempoed, he spits out meaningful lyrics about poser punks who bend their beliefs to an easier route for the sex chain gang - rather than taking the harder road in order to carve out a path of their own.  The chorus speaks volumes with, ‘I won’t give in to no one/I’ll keep on doing it my way.' The M8 has Paul’s guitar strums with a layer of electrical Gretch strut, all in cadence to the beat of the tune.

Although non-acoustic, this next song, ‘Following The Leader,’ can be easily punked out and plugged with its faster rhythm and fortitude.  It’s a four-chorded strum with Paul’s vocalization in higher register, emanating less gravel.  It’s safe to say Paul’s motto is to stop being a sheep and be a leader.  Enough said, because in steady lyrical rhythm, that launches the M8 into a nice Gretch rock ‘n roll twiddling.  The two-time chorus repeats as the song closes in guitar strums inserted with a, ‘ha!’ a last minute add-on to Paul’s four-time rhythm guitar repeat.

‘Wiggy’s Down The Pub,’ has that alcoholic bourbon-blues charm, composing of humorous and witty lyrics.  Definitely tuneful, interesting overlapping electric guitar twangs banter with simple two-noted octave repeats.  Running through the guitar melody, there’s a very brief electrical guitar riff between the lyrics of, ‘liquid lunch up.’  Patches of a carefully placed crude-n-clever lyric along with the four-strum ending will, no doubt, have the lyrics recited live in drunken participation.

If oi street punk was acoustic, ‘Don’t Trust Anyone,’ would be it.  Paul’s crooning teeters in irritation with catchy, cynical placement.  With the guitar carrying the melody between verses, the M8 is still in tact in the steady cadences of familiar elements of The Jam, [but with electric guitar added.]  Before Paul picks up the energy in his strums, a nice finish of higher harmonies are inserted in the chorus, and a four-strum bar abrupts to a stop.

‘The Addict,’ kicks off with an off-beat surprise planted with hot-rod strums and one-faded guitar squeal. Like blue veins underneath the steady strums of cocaine punk peers through blues-metered rock rhythms.  Quiet hand-taps keep the beat.  [Inclusive of hand drum rolls.]  After verse, the guitar ditty is faintly heard in the backdrop.  The cyclical chorus is sung in the ‘I’ tense giving a cheek with lilting parody about a stereotypical punk living the rocker-life.  I like this song.  Despite the electric guitar shearing off at the end of the strums, this song needs to be made into a fully-fledged electric.

The Who must have influenced Paul, because the song, ‘Kids,’ has this transplanted into punk rock ‘n roll sound much like their style.  Pasting his mark into acoustic strums and more graveled vocals, the chorus, ‘If the kids are united/they will never be divided,’ is custom-made for crowd participation.  It’s really a great line. After another rockin riff beneath, the statement is made on the bridge in more crooned spoken word.  Picking up the pace in the beat, the chorus repeats halts at one abrupt strum.

As if Elvis inspired a son, ‘Live For Today,’ has its’ rock n roll confessional that patterns into a familiar but not quite melody that is sung in lower registry alongside Paul’s gravels.  Paul manages to twiddle out a nice riff on the M8, and before the third verse, it crests with electric ‘alarm’ guitar overtop.  Paul brings it on home for the chorus, three times, to the end.

‘Rent A Ghost,’ named after the 1980’s British TV show, has all the spooky elements to make this an official Halloween song.  Engraved as a memorable tune a la ‘60’s, Paul rattles off humorous echoed lyrics in rapid pictorial success – all about ghosts and haunts.  There is a chorus join-in as the slide whistle, spooky ghost-moans, whining, that slide whistle, and Paul’s ghoulish laugh that completes the album.

My message here is simple everyone - do not underestimate Paul’s ability to write solid tunes.  Behind his potty humor, and gimpish/impish grin, the real talent belies in his lyrics and his refreshing capability to contradict punk rock and everyone, unapologetically.  Earning him a warm spot alongside the rest of the heavy weights at Rebellion Fest in Blackpool, UK this year, Paul doesn’t seem to falter at his well-known status.   Anyone wanting some real DIY with good quality humored entertainment, you might want to save your money on the list of CD’s to purchase and get this one.

Review by Jillian Abbene



The Inca Babies…all trashed out in post-punk murder ballads that twang and shoot monochromatic drones into their sullen-sunken cheeks.  Possessed in sharp-edged yearnings of Americana, they are not of their roots, yet their style is captured in the time warp, circa 1982.  It’s the leftover stains of The Cramps, Link Wray, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave, The Gun Club, Tom Waits, Television and Siouxie & The Banshees, that blueprint the same timeless encrypted contemplated torture, branding the melancholic soul to keep churning out brooded rock ‘n roll.
Deriving from Manchester, UK, the lead vocalist, Harry Stafford, and Bill Marten, the long-standing bass player, formed Inca Babies in 1982.  Through the years, there have been transformations within the band line-up; however, it has been Harry and Bill who remain the glue.  The current members are as follows: Harry Stafford-guitar/vocals, Various drummers however, Rob Haynes (Goldblade/Who Shot Who) – is the current honorary drummer/backups, and Vincent Hunt (former member of A Witness) – is on bass, standing in for the late Bill Marten who is also a personal friend of the Inca Babies.

This is a band that is rising out of the ashes of the past and into the present with their new CD entitled, “Death Message Blues,” ready for release.  I can’t wait!  The Inca Babies’ sound carries beyond the predictable post-modern tune; it is now more tangible in the present music scene than back in 1982.  You can’t mistake texture or substance with their Link Wray references, demon-drunken writing, or their clever melancholic melodies. 

So let’s start off immediately with their first song from their CD, “Plutonium” entitled, 'Devil In My Room,' that digs deep into the belly-pangs of ominous western post-punk. Its slow-sludge beats and tinging cymbal takes a bite out of Harry’s electromatic semi-acoustic guitar wreckage.  In somber plucks of Bill's bass, the beat picks up after the first 2 verses, all within a 1/2 metered time.  The dismal ballad is walled-out by Harry’s melancholic recall boomeranging with his sharper vocals on the chorus, the second time around.

'Opium Den,' is a solid song that opens with a gust of kick pedals and drum thunks all slithering in a melody of thin-edged tinny chords.  [Link Wray reference here.]  Interestingly, the overall tone is more reminiscent of Siouxie yet still within the framework of guitar-rattling rock n roll.  Harry’s monotoned verse is straight-away - right after the chorus and guitar melody.  The reliable prevalent punching drums are right there in 1/2 time.  With the last verse-chorus in feisty brood, in rolls the M8.  This triste of verses in the emotive bridge is rattled off like a worded list all in a haunting twinge.  I never tire of this style as the last repeat chorus possesses a little more growl ‘n scowl collectively with the double-drum beats right to a hollow ending.
Known for their next song, 'Grunt Cadillac Hotel,' The Inca Babies’ scratch-chord in oil-slicked mid-tempos aside the Batman-bass crawls, and is listlessly in the lead as Harry hurtles a one-vomited, echoed yell.  The spoken lyrics (in Tom Waits style), are fluid from one word to another.  Craggily and guttural, the syncopated guitar perforatings and swells are in quick-successioning drum-pops.  The chorus is sped up - emphazing acid-drone, like an old engine revving, as the guitar chorded arpeggios scale in the background. That Batman-bass is catchy along with Harry’s truncated stir escorting the slither to a sudden end.

It’s all dirgy in a drunken plodded sort of way in, 'The Disease Stranger's Waltz.'  Unlike the traditional navigated waltz in 2/4th time, a notable heavy-beat clunks against cymbal tings.  Squalling hollow guitar overflows, climbing over the spiraling guitar chord-strumming in that tinny/hollow haunt, to swerve right underneath Harry's 1/2 croon, 1/2 spoken last verse.  "I am a stranger… from out of town," comes from the gut of the UK dank streets with a deserted western twang ending in guitar-slowing chords that sear off to a fade out.

Next - 'Big Jugular' is a really a great song!  Showing off uncoiling emphatic drunk n roll, the romantic post-punk theme is squelched by chopped up scratch and drawl.  It's solely Harry's vocals against the guitar melody that grovels along the beat.  A glorious guttural, drunken, chorus eclipses with a surly slurried swirl of verses peaking with high-pitched squeals trailing after each line.  Distorted warble guitar has just as much presence as Harry's gargling growls.  On the chorus, switching to intense tribal drums, as the M8 is maligned with filleting guitar twiddlings.  It’s full throttle to the beat. Harry’s lyrics are sung in soul-bearing low-register threads underneath the bridged drum pedal on verse.  Harry's tirade silences—as Bill's bass rises from the raw to deliver the haunting and meet the riding guitar melody. Spinning into a hollow riff, the song crescendos into a punctuating drum/bass/guitar twang all on one beat.  Unable to contain his discontent, Harry is allowed enough room to spout off one more row before the abrupt last note.

Although, 'The Lung Knives,' is a newer song, the opening rat-a-tat snare-drum syncopations is smack-dab between the quickened verse - parting the seas for Harry’s rendition in his twin Iggy Pop's stance.  Leading to a sudden accapella crescendo, the verse is topped with that dissonant guitar.  The lyrics are dark and with imagery, "--With both hands....You collapse my lungs,” before slamming into third gear, piling on the constant heavy-handed drum syncopations. Drum snares throughout as Harry's more nasal lead vocals rollercoaster to the end.

However, the song that I think best encapsulates the Inca Babies is, 'The Judge.'  It's all in that soul-preachin' hallelujahs and a conscious slap in the face ‘n forehead that wraps the guttural crazed and slightly perverted passion and takes shape. Harry accapellas in Jim Morrison leanings, but is far more riddled in demon power than Jim could ever match.  As Bill's signature bass pluck-crawls along cymbal tings, the catchy melody is christened as a punk rock penance.

I’m not finished!  It's the second verse that the song expands with drum pedal in rock n roll that has Harry's identifiable vocal terror in stereo-Cabaret, playing the role of an evil villain.  It's like it pulls up some kind of subconscious imagery that makes me just shutter.

The beat welds into a mini-jam of snare pops, overlapping tinny guitar, and increased cymbals that repeat on the first beat.  Harry's burning soul is on a-fire of donning squeals, bellows and howls that reaches all highs and lows in mini-explosive verses.  His high-pitched "Yee-ows," leaves a long trail of scratched up echo-growls, ending to the fade.  This is one hell of a smokin' song. 

The last song on the CD, 'The Interior', is fittingly a more upbeated rock ‘n roll melody.  Harry's twanged, sharp-shouting vocal gives that morbid edge.  Accapella guitar introduces the 1st verse as the drum ‘n cymbal joins the piling on of beef.  Harry's lyrics punctuate the last line after each section of verse before splitting into an echo-crooned chorus.  This is where the beat trollops.  The Gretch guitar chords are only with drum/cymbal - no bass, rolling into the M8.  The guitar’s revenge encompasses the echo making Harry croak, choke, and spew out the chorus. As the guitar recedes on the riff, the bass takes over.  Harry's croon on queue, picks up the pace as the drum and guitar quickly evaporate at the end.

Surprised how The Inca Babies squeezed in jazz influences and Cabaret vocals, its balance is entwined unaware, trancing this listener by their sound.  Somehow there is a twisted sophistication within the song-structure that spotlights in the raw.  With their sudden tragic loss of Bill Marten, the bass player, I feel as if his spirit is within those bass lines.  Dedicating this write up, despite the fact that I did not know Bill Marten personally, I can appreciate his laid-back song writing talent that proves a musician doesn’t have to succumb to a stereotype. John Peel got it right when The Inca Babies recorded four sessions for his BBC Radio 1 programme between 1984 and 1987.

With this write-up, I am paying homage to Bill Marten - wherever you are… along with the rest of the Inca Babies - here is your recognition you so deserve.      

[Note: You can purchase The Inca Babies CD, 'Plutonium' here:
Keep your ears open…they will be touring soon after their album release.]

Review by Jillian Abbene



This Swindon, UK duo has been gradually collecting loyal followers at every show. Not bad—considering they are a two-piece band consisting only of a bass that is played like a guitar, and drum, and manages to land a lucky beginning supporting Primal Scream.  They are truly innovative.

Opening for big names such as Anti-Nowhere League, Subhumans, Discharge, Buzzcocks, Goldblade and even The Restarts, 2 Sick Monkeys have gained respect, standing on their own—with their might and distinctive style of punk.

Their natural, instinctually raw and mood provoking post-punk elements, was discovered on their previously released CD, ‘Curse Of The Monkey’ where I was instantly floored.  Guess what? I still am.

The first song off of their new album, ‘Why?’ winds up in the first couple of bars of their first track, ‘Why?’ Pete Tower, gargles out in raw old-school 80’s vocal resonance.  Following, the guitar strums and syncopated snare drums that hit on the off-beat, subtle flashes pass for nimble guitar twiddlings.  Pete rattles off crystal clear, politically charged lyrics, ‘Why Do We Have To Fuck Iraq? ‘Why Do have to suck so much American cock?’ all before the chorus [and he’s dead serious].  Cutting through the bullshit, Pete voices out loud what many have dared to ask…and this hits on all levels.  At the M8, the vocals are absent until the second meter where the vocals are accapella, in a more shouted spoken word with sharp significance.  Building upon angst, Pete belts a drawn out plea—‘Why?’ – in a one more time around, ripping through the first verse repeat as the snare hits the beats as one last proverbial, ‘Why?’ lingers pass the halt.

A creeping bass crawl is all in suicidal rhythm guitar successions in, ‘Big Words,’ lined with Fred’s blurted lyrics as Pete belts on the chorus backups.  Starts and stops triplicate drum rolls and Fred’s long drawn out, ‘No!’ fills the gap to the M8.  Switching, triangle drum tings with jazz undertones morph into a slower almost reggae beat, speeding back to the energy for the repeat.  With the lyrics undermining pretentiousness in their effective simplicity, it conveys just what the song is about.  There is a chase to the fluff as the main vocals are more guttural and the blast reaches its end.

‘Walk A Fine Line,’ is a great jam confessional.  It’s a blend of punk - with what I can only classify as a southern rock/country twist.  The micro-fast twiddlings and snare hits on the beat.  Brusque guitar strokes roundabout in beefy channeling coupled with high notes and that signature snare.  It is all running on sheer energy.  The bass is front and center on the bridge, carrying the entire melody.  A surgically tight hybrid of entanglements with bass twiddlings could possibly be replaced by a fiddle, making this song so damned memorable.  The precursor of cymbal, snare, and plucky bass crashes to a full stop.

‘Retro Age,’ is about making people realize you can’t stay stuck in the past, or you’ll be left behind.  Surely, this song guarantees their permanency in the here and now.  The intro accapella bass is much like the influential post-punk leanings.  As bass chugs throughout, Pete is more into spoken verse than shouts as Fred holds the harmonies.  Back up croons integrate with Pete’s chorus shouts as dirgier bass plucks has the snare panging off beat all on the second verse.  It ends with a joining chorus finale shout, ‘backwards!’  (Nice touch.)

Triplicate snare and bass strums roll quickly into mid-tempo levels on, ‘Me Me Me,’ with the lyrics cleverly humorous and all done in sardonic full snotty flavour.  It had me chuckling at the first verse.  Triplicate snare and guitar strums are rolled into quickened tempo.  High register vocalled back ups adds texture while the choppier second verse digs deeper energy, and the scratched up bass is in higher notes.  The pluck-drums are more stunted.  There are no restraints as the repeat renditions oddly, reminding me of the days of New Order, are stripped down to the confessional, ‘Me’s’ belting all the way through.

The beauty of the next 3 songs if that they are recorded live as you feel like you are in the same room.  On a high note, it is fitting that ‘Fuck Off,’ would end the EP.  Rock ‘n roll base strums open the song, all before the “Einz, zwei, drei, vein,” ques in the beat-shouts on the chorus—inclusive with live crowd participating and Pete’s raspy vocals.  Drum pedal, cymbal and multiple bass strumming unwinds with the final bar of the Looney Tunes classic, ‘That’s All Folks,’ on the last notes as this live version ends with all cheers.

‘Why?’ is just a taster.  Their full length EP will be released sometime this summer as well as a full fledged European tour with The Dead Subverts [Pete plays bass]. 

Pete and Fred are keen and not to be underestimated by size.  [Size doesn’t matter!] Playing a bass like a guitar, gives an emotive resonance of the past melding with the present.  This is a great triumph for 2 Sick Monkeys who live up their name of being one small outfit but with a big sound.

Review by Jillian Abbene

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