Friday, 31 October 2014

Snob - s/t 7"

Muddied up hardcore punk out of the pulsating current London scene. It's Crazy Spirit/Disorder trashthrash, early-Rudimentary Peni clatter and sputter, a thick guttural bass roll, a skinning guitar skid grouting over the gaps, occasionally slipping up and crashing into weird broken shards. Matter-of-fact vocals laying down tracks that build in spite. Harassed, like Hysterics Leave Me Alone, displays a burning anger stoked and compounded every day, rising from fear "CAN'T COUNT THE TIME/I'VE FELT TERRIFIED" to righteous destruction "RIP THEIR EYES FROM SOCKETS/RIP THEIR TONGUES FROM THEIR MOUTHS." Mother a terrifically dismissive snap sneering at the fuckwitted fedoraed ranks (actually, it's about ethics in games journalism). Piss a panicked primitive shout, the classic hardcore punk trick of sticking a puerile song about bodily fluids in with five furious attacks on shit that matters, like Send in the Mayor, wavering and whispering and darting forward, hanging out to dry every pub bore's favourite post-satirical bumbler. Buzzing with energy, trapped down in its shitty punk hole, kicking dirt into everyone's faces.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Perspex Flesh - s/t LP

Grimey anti-social anti-self hardcore from one of the UK's best bands doing it. Noise from dark places, the filth and pressures that life struggles forward and cracks apart under, all the little annihilations, all the real stones in your shoes, nails in your eyes, bubbles in your blood. It explodes with physical humours and decay, bile and bitterness, body and brain succumbing, betraying you. "CHEST TIGHTENS AND BRAIN BLEEDS BLACK/SKIN STRETCHES UNTIL IT STARTS TO CRACK." on Perspex Flesh. "WELLED INSIDE MY STOMACH CHURNS/A DARK FORCE STARTS TO BURN" on Cancer Black. It reels with streetviolence on Feeding Time, antithetical to a triumphalist hooligan stomp, panicked, bad nights and catastrophic consequences. "GLAZED HOOLIGAN EYES DESTINED TO FIGHT/38 BLOWS TO THE HEAD/LEFT IN THE GUTTER TO DIE."  There's anxiety physicalised as a destructive force, in the choking silence of Tongue-Tied ("WORDS TRAPPED/BITTEN TONGUE/TONGUE-TIED/ACHING LUNGS"), the warping terror of Prison of Glass "MAN AT THE MIRROR/HE DOES NOT SEE/IMAGE OF HIMSELF/PAITNED FEAR COMES FREE." All this pain and paranoia realised in apocalyptic swirl and clamor, shivers and screams, the clank and whistle, crash and convulsions, thumping hardcore assaults, frenzied punk retches, moments when the songs empty out into the drip and whisper of factory echoes, ugly necrotising emotions sucking in lifeforce and breathing out deadening threat. Unnamed things snarlsing and scuttering about in the murk.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Orden Mundial - Obediencia Debida MLP

Raw Mallorcan punk exploding with bite. Sharing members with Maquina Muerta but working with more range and space in their Wretched-raddled fury. Hardcore punk done up all screaming bright and staticky rough, the guitar tone a textured buzz, an undulating prickle of noise over quick shifts as the songs bark and scratch. The vocals matching the music torment for torment, rawness to rawness, deep and scathing and exposed. Son Fantasmas a scornful swagger, cracking apart into feedback squalls, grunts and drumrolls retreating like a spider into the dark. Gusanos a plodder and breaker, settling into a monotonous groove that builds in threat and promise, guitar scrawled over the top like wild childish graffiti, aimless tangle of noiselines obscurant. Accion Humanitaria has a similar dance, a steady streetpunk roll under morsecode blips, wild wirey guitar freakouts always ready to burst forth as on Camino Inevitable's manic scrabbling. Fosas Abiertas that wellworn ironic punk march amongst the din, the feedback pulled and roughly manipulated into sharp steel flowers of high broken vengeance, squeaks and peaks of rage for humanity, against leaders and wars and the putrefying grasp that is present in each trapping violence.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bishop's Green - Pressure LP

Bishop's Green could conceivably be described as 'old man streetpunk' which is a subgenre of punk that is usually responsible for the worst shit in the world, tepid, tedious, conservative blokery, middle-aged men with strong takes about what's wrong with society which revolve more around 'disrespect' and 'wimpiness' rather than 'patriarchal capitalist white supremacy'.

Too often punk is torn up from its wild teenage anguish, this is a natural consequence of punk's age as a subculture, further away now from Sid Vicious donning a swastika than Sid Vicious was from Hitler donning it, despite it's self-renewing athanasia, its constant wave of teenagers discovering Discharge or the Dickies or the Dicks for the first time, there are many who have grown old with the same, uninterested in the punk of 2014, who couldn't give a shit for the fresh new shit bursting out of every corner of the globe, The Friday, Las Otras, No Form, Anomaly, Stranger, S.H.I.T., hundreds of other bands that keep me in a constant self-excoriating struggle to get on top of writing-wise, a hundred punk bands live every minute, and these reviews are a somewhat sisyphean attempt to try and do justice to this breathing spurting culture that sustains me so often.

But do those motherfuckers, those barpunk cunts give a solitary fuck? Nah, they're just listening to The Clash again, happy in the knowledge that this makes them radical, for many tedious old motherfuckers, just the idea that they're 'punk' is enough to justify themselves. And maybe that's inevitable, and maybe that's cool, the young need their new fresh spaces, the dismissive fuckery of old shits is just gonna give em fire, but it's still tiresome, to stumble across all those "they-don't-make-em-like-they-used-to" self-satisfied nods of people who came to awareness in a culture specifically aimed at smashing that attitude to pieces.

Why then have I listened to this oldman streetpunk album like 50 times in the past two weeks? Well, one thing is that the tunes are really fucking good. The other is probably that it's as far from self-satisfied as you can get. While it does have its choral moments, it offers picketline chants while not forgetting the picketline is a shit place to be, yes it's beautiful and communal, but you're hungry and cold, you're skint and angry. It's a place you don't choose to be, it's a place you're forced to be by circumstance and the strength you find there is in spite of your lot in the world, not because of it.

Bishops Green know bad days. They know the asphyxiating grip of labour. "Working all day, same old story. Watching the clock, I'm losing my mind." on Gross and Net. "You never had a chance to get ahead, no education/Got pushed down from the start, not many options." on Rat Race.

It turns on the wistful wryness of Cock Sparrer's Because You're Young, the battleworn hardiness of contemporary Cockney Rejects, the shit and youthful sneer and bark of Bad Man or Flares 'n' Slippers not there, but the big melodic sweep of Thin Lizzy-infused punk rock like Your Country Needs You or Back To My Roots. There is a sense of the road travelled in these songs, the nights and days spent dogtired and bonesick, beaten down by bosses, customers, aching feet, deadened minds, looking for oblivion as respite.

Those melodic basslines, those warm crunching guitars, the vocals smooth but laced with grit, the working class pride a deep needed succor not a smokescreen of shit and ignorance, unions and strength, in times of austerity, belt-tightening, downturns, whatever euphemisms given for the shit fucking state of things, the personal pains and tragedies of poverty engendered by the avarice of the city and the cowardice of the state. I mean that Rejects song Your Country Needs You, despite being utterly fuckwitted in the worst oldmanstreetpunk way possible, lyrically reading like something in the ballpark of UKIP Calypso, (sample lyric: "Stand up, beat your chest, when you hear God Save the Queen") really does kick shit with the best of them, it does get you fucking moving, and Bishops Green are much tighter, much sharper, lyrically, riding that line between drain-circling despair and forward momentum, avoiding easy moments, avoiding the angry populism of 'angry white man chants by professional musicians' that punkcritic/shitbucket Ben Weasel laid into on the song Tightrope, before he himself mutated utterly into that "I FORT PUNK WOZ SPOSED TO BE ABOUT PISSIN PEEOPLE OOFFF" caricature that live propping up the bar at shit dingy metal pubs across the country. With Bishop's Green, the reality of lines like "It's the same dance that we fight for/I'm telling you it's not enough" hit hard.

This pensiveness makes the times when it does break through, the times when it does see a light, "Cause I have walked with giants/Can't forget my past/Smash the shadows around me/There's no turning back." on Night Terror, the mantra of "Tomorrow brings us hope" repeated firmly on Tomorrow, more powerful, they're not aimless, naive, they're determined and rooted in pain, so a line like the title track's "Fucked up system/Burn it to the ground." is delivered as a soft growl of a rueful truism as much as a kick-the-doors-in rallying cry, following it not with a searing solo, but with a retreat back into quiet melancholy. It's left to sit and simmer, so you reflect on its impossibility as much as its opensky dreaming. Midtempo punk tunes, full of tense vulnerability and catchy power, full of wake singalongs, and bitter knowledge.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Party Plates - s/t EP

Real dirty Cleveland hardcore from Inmates people, a furious grubby bass ripping and curling underneath, holding it all together in rubbedraw anguish. Kidnapping Quatro pushed forward at a relentless pace, vocals breaking and screaming, the guitar reverberating out with a tone something like a death-rock shiver that's been beaten and bloodied, lost its airy grace in favour of bladed killing power. Disforeplay more midtempo, digging into thicker grooves. Intro walks with a deep drowning chugging like a steam engine, unintelligible screaming and bellows sing-songy children taunts before it breaks into the metalpunk rumble Galloping Ghost, motorpunk rhythms, that fuzzknackered bass murk, the guitar snatching and scratching, as it falls apart into demonic growls and a thick blush of unsteady self-destruction.

The Number Ones - The Number Ones

Scrappy power-pop from Ireland, living that Protex/Undertones feel, kicking with more modern bands like The Love Triangle, Sheer Mag, Nightmare Boyzzz. Golden-throated, broken-hearted, electrified emotions channeled and chopped into brief two-minute bursts of pure shuffle/shaking feeling, dancefloor punk classics with sugar and bounce, pop-rocks and cola spit, from the stab and stop Heartsmash, Sixteen's tumbling runner, He's Too Good whatever drawl, to the just 100% all-the-way banger Sharon Shouldn't, all itchy-fuzz scritchy and sweet-voiced in equal measure. Power-pop exists as pretty much the perfect singles genre, often tiring in full-length form, but The Number Ones don't outstay their welcome, keeping it at a nipped-and-tucked 20 minutes of tight, melodic and moody, smooth and stinging, crackling fizzbang whizzpunk. Timeless tunes with the eternal ecstatic energy of the turbulent and sparking emotional present.

Bitch School - Get Nasty On You EP

It sounds like Girl School. The fuck else you want?

The Combat Zone - s/t LP

Negative Boston hardcore coming with straight up ugly loner shit, built from the barbrawl-bruised scraps of Jerry's Kids energy, clattering train-track relentless and smacking with that real rudimentary broken energy, drum-thump to guitar snap, working at barely coherent purposes, strung-together with wire and contempt, stomping and slithering on Give Me War, pounding on Run and Hide, tense and taut on Fucked Up Head, rollin hard into the riot on Inevitable, the vocals a thick SSD snarl of grit and venom, breaking out into some shoutalong Iron Cross goonspite on Stay Away and Bottom of the Charles. "SOCIAL REJECTION! LEAVE ME ALONE!" bites Untamed, "NO EYE CONTACT DON'T LOOK AT ME/I DON'T NEED SOCIETY" on Stay Away, "I'M A CLASSY GUY/I'M AN ANTI-SOCIALITE" goes A.S.M.

A monomaniacal devotion to topic, as hockey and beer are to the Hanson Brothers, as being awesome and snakes are to The Awesome Snakes, so is anti-social fervour to The Combat Zone. How do I hate the fucking world? Let me count the ways. Every song reaffirming its obsession with, its binding ties to, isolation and alienation, a hostile cough contracted inhaling the sickness of society with no filter, living its violence, withdrawing then spitting it back out with fierce simple disgust. Waking up every morning with an unmovable pissy scowl. Malice-drenched, grudge-tough and ready to ruck. "VIOLENCE IS REAL. HATE IS A DRIVING FORCE" proclaims the back cover. "ENJOY IT OR GO FUCK YOURSELF."

Friday, 17 October 2014

Tercer Mundo - Ser Nosotros Mismos

The first 12" from these Mexican punx, following on from their killer EP. Eight scrabbling hardcore punk tunes in a little under twelve minutes. Striking a balance between biting rawness and catchy rock and roll, Tercer Mundo have crafted one of the best punk releases of 2014. The title track opens mid-tempo, guitar whispers and a matter-of-fact sung-spoken vocals, before crashing apart, tumbling down into a pained bellowing. Similarly, Veijas Glorias runs an insistent post-punky riff around for a while until it as well blows up. Songs like Horrible Realidad are a thrumming tear from the off, but even then pulling back to redouble the scathing sonic attack. Tercer Mundo uses these punchy scuzz-forged hardcore punk to rip into the centre of a fucked society, to expose its ills, its crushing bleakness, and to find the dinged-up creaking human heart that lives and and burns within those fucked spaces.

 Opener Caidos sets the rage: "THEY HAVE FALLEN IN THIS WAR/THEY HAVEN'T GONE, STILL FIGHTING", closing in a defiant clatter: "THERE IS NO FEAR/THERE IS NO FEAR/THERE IS NO FEAR/FEAR DOESN'T EXIST" Not "I'm not afraid", but so burnt with the shitty state of things, with this "HORRIBLE REALITY OF HUNGER AND TORTURE/HORRIBLE REALITY OF DEATH AND INSANITY" as Horrible Realidad screams, as to transcend the terror of living, an zen fucked-offness, a purposeful unbreakable force. Maybe too broken right now, too beaten down by the work, the struggle ("ANXIETY TERRIFIES ME" admits Extincion, in an open moment) at times but still killing with feeling ("I DESPISE YOU WITH ALL MY STRENGTH" warns Te Desprecio) and still present in this place.

"WE DON'T FIT IN, IN THIS SHITTY SOCIETY! WE DON'T FIT IN, IN THIS STUPID CULTURE!" the title track states, but ending as a reaffirmation of the power of punk, in a society where violence infects each moment, to find a place, feeling the ugliness upfront and the strength buried deep within: "IN PUNK/WE WILL BE OURSELVES/IN PUNK/IT'S ALL WE HAVE LEFT/IN PUNK/WE WILL BE OURSELVES/IN PUNK/ALL FOR OURSELVES" That's where it is, that's where you can find the power, the drive, the last spark of energy to clench your hand into a fist and rise it to the sky. That's where they take all that balled-up fear, anxiety, stress at being cognizant in a shitstorm of cops and politicians and drugs, the swirling hateruck of capitalist violence, and beat it into rock to throw. "I HOPE THE DAY ARRIVES/IN WHICH MY SOUL EXPANDS" roars Sin Rostro Ni Corazon, cutting up streaming rawpunk brutality, with militaristic stamps. The world should be watching as the students and workers and people of Mexico explode with longheld anger at the sickening violence done unto them in the name of security and profit, as they continue the longstruggle that lives for and with us all, in many places, in many forms, in some places keener and far more dangerous than others, this is an album of frustration, this is an album of hope, this is an album of 'not yet', this is an album of 'but it will'.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Disguise - System Shock

From members of Crowd Control, Strong Boys: gritty nasty Irish raw punk, d-beats and reverbed screams in the deep murk. The burn and thump of degenerate disfuckers, Japanese hardcore influences, Gudon messy, Bastard heavy. No Release strikes, churns, tension built to breaking. Institution thrashes hard. No Chaos digs in familiar disgusting patterns, the trembling guitar creeping out of the noxious dust that chokes and swallows the songs. System Shock in particular feels in moments like a sweeter, more palatable punk burner buried under a weight of crushing slag, the screams searing through. A pure slab of anguished hardcore punk.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Maquina Muerta - Realidad Desesperada CS

From Guadalajara, Mexico by way of Mallorca, and sitting with bands like Cremalleras, Tercer Mundo, Dia Final and Peña Nieto as proof or Mexico's killer current punk scene, Maquina Muerta delve into rawpunk at its most primitive. Their seven inch last year was one of my favourite records of the year, and they maintain that fury here, rerecording a couple of the tracks and adding them to some new ones, here the sound is more a drilling buzz and less steamroller roar, but it's still got that relentless repetition, that uncompromising Discharge thrum, the drums eating at you like the turnover of a floodedengine and you're stuck on traintracks, the saltedearth choke in its scorchedthroat vocals, burning, breaking, with each anguish, nameable and unnameable, the guitar solos simplistic quiverings amongst the groan and drone.

I caught Maquina Muerta play in an torridly hot basement at the start of September. Barreling out of the venue into the street to cool down after the set a friend of mine asked me what I thought of it. "It was fucking great!" I breathlessly enthused "Every song was exactly the same!". 30 seconds later another friend of mine came out and was greeted with the same question "Eh... I wasn't too into it," she replied. "Every song was exactly the same." There's a particular groove, a certain dirty rut, that they're locked into and they're not breaking it, they're living with each scrap of terror and emotion and thunderous anger, at society, at authority, at politicians and the assorted scum that prop up these shiny venal gods, each last pusflecked bonemeal scrap that they can squeeze out of that ugly monotonous sonic wound.

Hard Skin - On The Balls & Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?

"Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi! Think about Oi! Oi! Oi!" - The Crested, Think About Oi
"STOP THINKING! START DRINKING!" - Hard Skin, First Day Angry Song

Like the Formby Channel, Hard Skin are a band that could only have emerged from this sceptred isle. And when I say sceptred, I mean shithole, grey bitter dank sarcastic nimby fading delusional shit-fucking hole-isle. Some real John King spirit imbues these songs, that mixture of soaring terrace community, the kicks and knocks of poverty, a familiarity with violence, a tense heartworn tearing underneath, a faded rug at your nan's with the colour scuffed out of it but the pattern still peeking through, the warmth in the brokenness.

Sure America has OIL! with their pumped up ridiculous violence, cliches stacked high and smashed down, Crucified Hammerskins, Proud of my Pride, Pulling on the Boots, but Hard Skin are cut through with sharper, more poignant silliness, beyond their bluntfuck singalongs, like Beer and Fags's loutish drunken joy in the face of the grim march of history on Hard Nuts and Hard Cunts, drawing on Cock Sparrer's England Belongs to Me, and its investment in the smaller twists of home, Cock Sparrer sang of England looking not at verdant fields and glory, but 'the dirty water in its rivers', the little grotty shit that you hold deep in your heart as signifiers of a private belonging, stake a claim to what you have, no matter how insignificant or crap it is.

Still Fighting Thatcher they roared twenty odd years ago, and she lies six feet deep but her stabbing hate lives on. Council Estate deals, with surprisingly affectingly, with the lasting brutality of her legacy on ordinary people. Dark fucking times when even your comedy Oi! bands are painting bleak landscapes of the grueling slog of austerity. A pained tale steeped psycho-geography, the malign concrete, infecting its residents with a certain hard heart. No jokes just a desperate cry. "EVERYONE DIES! BUT NOT EVERYONE LIVES! I'M SOMEBODY! I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO GIVE!" Real shit right there.

On The Kids Are Innocent that nebulous notion of 'the kids' invoked in that Upstarts, Blitz, Sham, way, they're the kids that you meet, they don't care and if they're united then they'll never be divided. A warm cuff-about-the-ear for scamps and tearaways, embracing the young as just weird fuckabouts, like they are, like we were, it's an idea that fights back against the real youthhate of mid-market tabloids, terror scattered across newspaper pages, feverish whispers of 'feral' and 'inherent criminality' burning with that eugenic tang. The Kids Are Innocent, the homeless are treated with the same warmth on You Still Here? and it's dismissive toss-off of PCSOs, as angry at the fact that it's not a real cop doing the bothering as it is at the fact that a cop's bothering them, and a lot of this album, is anti-nihilistic, a vaguely charming vision of Britain full of salt-of-the-earth cunts stumbling through interesting times, punches and police harassment.

Hard Skin bounce between modes. There's the storming self-mythologising of Another Terrace Anthem, boasting of "Bit of Sparrer, Rejects and Sham/I'm taking it back to where it began!" and cracking apart with purposefully lame jokes. There's the triumphal violence of rougher-uppers The Man Who Ran the Town with skins as avenging angels, puttin in a loan shark's head, and We're Gonna Do Them Cunts, rolling on that terse economy of threat, "I'm gonna do you" carrying more power than any super-specific murderous hyperbole. A take on I, Ludicrous's Preposterous Tales in That's Bollocks, Mate and its pissed-off pissed fuck-off of a mouth-running pub bore. The lonely swaying whisper of The Gipsy Hill, a wander round South London, a litany of a neighbourhood's comforting peculiarities. It all sits together in a cordial crash of streetlights and dogshit, belligerent barroom stompers, sidestreet serenade, flitting between cock-o'-the-walk swagger and softer more morose musings, but all invested with the slap of the pavement, the roots of meandering alleyways, the shortcuts and graffiti of a living city.

And even better, beyond the instant classic of On The Balls, is Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?, the same album, the same songs, but coming from a murderer's row of female vocalists, real punk sneer, relishing that snap of melody and power. The notion of guilty pleasures has been well wrung out to dry as a bullshit concept born of insecurity and snobbery, but if there was one thing I'd classify as that, it's the sheer amount of generic female-fronted streetpunk I can consume without tiring, no-one should have listened to The N.Y. Rel-X as much as I have. And this is far from that, Hard Skin's melodic chops, their songwriting skills, their ability to appropriate those bits of Sparrer, Rejects and Sham with total aplomb, make this play like a whole album of Action Pact's London Bouncers, something like Atlanta's Man's Ruin with better tunes, a beefed-up sweary Gymslips, from Joanna Newsom's (yeah that Joanna Newsom) cackle on the jubilant The Man Who Ran the Town, to Miki Berenyi's ire on You Still Here?, the runaway sting of Liela Moss's Police Car (Chasing You), 2013's second best song about a police car, Debbie Smith's bellow on the innuendo of Sausage Man, it's even better than On the Balls, feeling more chaotic (the cadence of the vocals, which were probably more hastily recorded than On The Balls occasionally slips and clatters up against the forward power of the songs) and more vital, rougher. While both albums are fucking great, I'm picking this one if given the choice every time.

Like Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, like Who's a Punk?, like Fuck You! Get Pumped!, it's a joke than runs deeper, hides truths in the smile behind its mugging and gurning, stiob vs slobs, the communal catharsis of screaming "TWO CHORDS! TWO FINGERS!" or "YOU STILL 'ERE? WE TOLD YOU WHERE TO GO!" is strong no matter how silly it is. I've seen Hard Skin live maybe half a dozen times over the past two years (one of the joys of seeing them in London is the chance that one of the vocalists from Why Do Birds... might pop up and sing a song) and every time I've felt better afterwards, running out into a city of council estates, police cars, two bob cunts; fulfilled, feeling deeper and more cognizant, feeling unbreakable, heartstrong and in possession of some hardy urban truths, at one with the bullshit. "SING LOUD! SING PROUD! LET'S GET AT 'EM! THIS IS ANOTHER TERRACE ANTHEM!"