Saturday, 31 May 2014

Crown Court - Trouble From London

Thumping new stuff, raw and blustery, the shoutalong momentum of Oi! combined with the melodic power of those early punks caught up in bashing in and fouling up early rock and roll templates like 999 or Slaughter and the Dogs, Chelsea or The Lurkers, sharp with the tang of public transport piss-stink, catchy but with the pinched edge of violence. Three London anthems, slapping down tedious crusties and their affectations on Hammer a Nail, screaming of endless nightbus journeys and the alienation and paranoia of the tube and its thousand watching eyes on TFL and BTP, songs pulled from the rusty arteries of the city sprawl, a transitory deadtime where you spend too much of your life, rolling from once grey suburb to another, overground, underground. Lately I've been fairly obsessed with a video of Jeff Turner kicking a Nazi out of a Cockney Rejects show, a video taken not in the bad ol' days of 1981 but in 20-fucking-14, where a performance of Are You Ready to Rucks switches immediately from the communal beery arm-in-arm singing to Jeff threatening to "punch the cunt outta ya", Jeff is totally fucking ready to ruck, that's the moment that Crown Court are living in, the snap from throaty bellowing ("OI! OI!") to dead-eyed threat. Howling roughs and bloody cunts.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hysterics - Can't I Live?

True roiling hardcore punk straight out of the early 80s, flailing with whip-quick shifts of emotion and tempo, Outside In screams, then sneers, then lifts from a spoken verse into rushing anger and manic laughter, each change-up throwing out waves of bitterness, alienation, the snap of frustration flowering into rage, dissent. Stomp-along or crash through wild riffs, matching crushing choruses with chaotic verses. "LEAVE ME ALONE. DON'T WASTE MY TIME. OR MY SPACE. CAN'T YOU SEE. I'M A HUMAN BEING." the chorus to Leave Me Alone bludgeons, force and bluntness, "DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, MAN?" it drawls, spitting derision and venom, ripping shithead cat-callers to pieces. Hysterics tear at crushing ills of every day, grievances mirrored and exploded, disconnected and uncomfortable on Outside In, scornful on Psychic Drain, tired on Now I See, enraged on No Vision. Classically corrosive, contemporarily barbed.

The pace slackens on Please Sir (I Want Some More), a mid-tempo thump at the smug grandiloquences of male supremacy, rolling along in scathing scratching punk, "PLEASE SIR/BESTOW UPON ME/YOUR INVALUABLE GIFTS/THE WORLD/AS IT IS THROUGH YOUR EYES". The vocals bite and sneer and then split into wordless retching, disgusted by the lines that they're intoning, however satirical they may be. It's like the truth behind the words, the truth of the obliviousness of dudes acting like that, marinating in their own self-delusion and fragile egotism, cuts through the mockery and, unable to play these caustic words with a straight face, the song explodes, the words breaking apart into a slurred scream, the guitar lacerating. I started writing this review at the end of last week and left it as I went off to spent the weekend getting fucked up and watching amazing bands and terrible bands. In that time the supreme vileness of male entitlement was expressed publicly in the worst possible way, several people are dead because of it. Hysterics rage at the world that allows those poisonous ideas to flourish and bloom into tragedy, they try to rip them up at the root, with the tools they have, sharp disdain and hardcore punk fury. Can't I Live? You can, but the bastards aren't gonna make it easy.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Aspects of War - The Presence of Death

Many shitty punk bands as they go on become more competent, almost by accident, improving musically through force of habit and locking into genre grooves. It seemed that's what Aspects of War were doing, moving from the lo-fi Total Disfuckers demo which buried the vocals almost totally to the equally killer, if slightly more competently put together, In Order To Satisfy Their Mania For Conquest Punks Are Squandered demo and then last year's 4-way LP with Disable, Truncheons and Total War: 全滅 - Annihilation: Konton Crasher Omnibus. They were perfecting their Kawakami-born attack, relentless onwards momentum, noise and volume.

Cos that happens, bands hit the style they want and run with it, using their improved musical abilities to crank out raw rockin taut assimilations of the noise that spoke to them first, using a deep knowledge of dis to lift from the best bits of -close and -charge and -fear and -konto and -honorable Discharge, not deciding to burst out of the genre in a throw of manic misguided self-destruction (people learnt their lessons from Grave New World). Aspects of War had found their place, and yeah it was pretty fucking awesome, one of the tightest rawest bunch of self-identified disfuckers doing it at the moment. Each release would tighten that formula, screw in deeper, ready to take the place of the knowingly named D-Clone as bearers of the true Dis-crown and then they release this, The Presence of Death, on Brain Solvent Propaganda‎, where they come out sounding like a band of teenagers who had d-beat roughly described to them and decided that it sounded really cool and wanted to play it without ever actually hearing it. And as such, it fucking slaughters.

What Aspects of War do here is to take all that proficiently molded dis fuckery and thump it to piss-sodden pieces, manage to sound noticeably shittier, more inept, more unhinged, cracking apart the genre into a rough approximation of itself, each identifier in place, but the feedback hiss viler, seething and eating the sound, the drums thudding clear but on This Is Hell working a weird off-kilter mid-tempo groove, nails to the forehead, the thick bass attack from before gone, halfdrowned in the ghastly mix. "This is hell/Hell is here". Here the solos whinier, more scatterbrained, sudden noiseburps and coughs of indeterminate origin come forth, the vocals desperate and burnt, everything fucked-up, destroyed, ugly past ugliness, into strange territory, loose and wild and incompetent. Presence of Death opens jangling practically like fucking sleigh bells. Sounding less sweeping and apocalyptic, more sawdust and stumblings. A pervasive sense of distaste with it all (NO SYSTEM WORKS!). Getting back to unlistenable fuck-off of dirty-handed youth. Regression as progression.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Secret Prostitutes - Welcome to Punk… Viva la Evolución… We Can Do Whatever We Want

Houston's Secret Prostitutes favour the unwieldy forthright title, on their first album they proclaimed Nevermind the KBD, This is A.D.D., seeking to take the already wildhouse spirit of that early 80s teensplat worldpunk, and fracture it further, manic and carefree, on their new album they sum up their fermentative steal-from-the-past/spit-at-the-future spirit, Welcome to Punk… Viva la Evolución… We Can Do Whatever We Want, which slipped out at the tail end of 2013 on Paha Tukka Elämä in Europe, Base Records in Japan and Torture Garden Picture Company in the US. I guess when you sing most of the time in a language (Indonesian) that most of the people who come to your shows don't speak and don't include lyrics sheets with your LP you've gotta stick the key to your noise right up their at the front, state the game and state your aims.

They continue their splattered palate of KBD-influenced punk rock, evoking that feeling of underground disconnected (in head and body) punk bands spraying haphazardly out in hundreds of bent and re-bent attacks at the Pistols/Clash/Damned/Ramones framework, dirtied up and individually weirdstrung from France's Gasoline to Denmark's Lost Kids to Italy's Hitler SS to California's Insults and countless other low-rent idiot punx dreamers and/or dickheads. This evocation feeling sometimes like the way Fucked Up explicitly created this false explosion of early 80s British music on their companion piece to David Comes to Life, David's Town, there there was a wider spread of sounds, but a more unified theme, that one city, one time, the Secret Prostitutes, with their flip from sharp sneerer, to scrappy slapper, desperate yelp to punk-pop pounce, run gleefully and tinnily around the world, mixing up their Indonesian with bits of Spanish, Italian, German and English (and some other languages, I think) They draw on the easy globeskipping sway of 80s Italo commie-artpunx CCCP De Fedeli Alla Linea (USSR Faithful to the Line) and their song Live in Pankow, covered here, running off "Live in Moscow, live in Budapest, live in Varsavia, live in Sofia, live in Prague, live in Pankow!". That red heart is shined and shown off too in songs like Manifesto Komunis and Partai Komunis Indonesia.

Shot and pulled together by the yappy vocals, both male and female, sometimes intercutting, sometimes not, The Secret Prostitutes live in a careless frailty as they jounce through 25 songs in under 30 minutes, getting instantly bored with songs, styles, modes of expression and dropping them, abrupt and without notice or regret. Übermensch employs dark deep German shoutings, guttural growls and melodramatic calls, repetitive dug-in riffs, slipping out of the sturdy thudding into backmasked snips drawn as feverish tongues. There's drawn out silliness of the extended overbearing count-in on Partai Komunis Indonesia and its idiot-Oi! broken off quickly, before the even the second chorus. Those blokey choral vox pop-up again on the scratch punk tickler of I Don't Need You, the urgent stamp of Asuranis Jiwa.

There are even odder, freer, moments, like Galaxie's gentle trills, soft disco-pop burblings like a watery dawn rising on the slowing dancers, breaking up the often breathless tempo of the album. And then there's the closer, The Secret Prostitutes Theme, a herky jerky tumbling of a chippy beat reminiscent of the chaotic pain-earnt joy of The Genuines' Die Struggle, horns swoops and whips, rattles, teasing guitar, soothing bass gives. And then, like much of the rest of the album, it just snaps off.

All that was laid out and lunged at in that title is achieved, the openness and delight, the changing, the revolution, the liberty. "I got friends down in Costa Rica/See guerilla wanna rock 'n' roll/I got a friend or two Tanzania/Communist Radio!" sang The Eat on their classic 7" Communist Radio, also found on (what else?) the second Killed By Death comp and that's the language that The Secret Prostitutes speak in Welcome to Punk..., whatever the grammars or lexicons slung this way and that. That of a world made small by the scamperpunk shivers and garage shakes, jabbing and moving quickly away from the counterpunch, ripping, hopping and devil-may-care the planet over, dancing on hot coals and getting away clean.