CD Reviews, December 2-ish.
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Live At The Astoria
F**k It We'll Do It Live
Here we have two twofers in the shock-rocking beast categories up for a best in show for the old dogs and young wags. Panto dames without props Twisted Fucking Sister unleash a classic, absolute storming classic set of their rampantly ludicrous but almost incessantly astounding fist-pumping, muscle car melting metal mixed with teen-anthems which should see any deserters dusted off and dissassembled with honours. As vital and electric as they ever were, several references to past glories are still shocking pink and this is no ailing nostalgia trail but up there with Live After Death and quite possibly No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith no less. Just goes to show you can't stop rock'n'roll...and if you watch the awesome tapped-er than spinal tap concert then you'll see you still can't argue with wicked witch Dee Snider, nor bassist Mark 'Animal' Mendoza as he pounds his bass and the stage and scares splinters into your face and spine.
The sprightly Mr 13, meaaaanwhile, riddles you with a spattering of wondrously smart brain dead anthems (aptly including Not Another Teenage Anthem which obviously like so is n' stuff) dripping with mirth and comical malice plundered from the guts of all that was unholy and unwholesome about WASP and that Alice cat culled from the caskets containing Murderdolls, Frankenstein Drag Queens (I Love To Say Fuck, 197666), his take on Tom Petty's Running Down A Dream and monstrous slices from his current best so far SKELETONS (like such sore-gut gore-groovers From Here To The Hearse, Gimme Gimme Bloodshed, Put Your Death Mask On). Live as you want it whether you like it or not, there's no death throes in sight as he rattles your bones with a non-stop slurry of horror pop. Concert-wise he can't compete with the kook-show that is TS but can you imagine any howls of complaint from all his ever-willing sacrificial lambs?
As ever for us discerning minstrels and miscreants, Alive/Bomp/Natural Sound etc etc manage to bring straight to your swamp or station of the sloshed the best of many if not any a mordantly decaying genre. In this case it's twee, chirrupy garagey rockity pop pop that emerges as a truly joyful rampage and not the irritating twaddle it could so easily be, just like yer true love would give to you in fact, what with farping keys a plenty and the high-pitched nasal whine of singerist Joshua Macero. Fortunately, one soulful nerd be he, the sort of dejected twit that might pass your science project for you but would also quite possibly extract crystals out of the arse end of the ether for you afore stabbing you sternum-wards whilst you're fully conscious and devoid of Sudafed based bathtub-infused products. I mean, if you knew these people, or saw them in your hometown, you'd want to kill them in such cantankerous ways the CIA may well smelt new awards for you. Barrett-esque whimsy meets They Might Be Giants sucking on The Dead Milkmen's lovely pop-noused soul, all soused on The Murder City Devils' vociferous bar-tab and Jonathan Richman's splenetic sweetness leaves this well on the right side of endearing, sneering over the fences all the while, giving the finger then running off leaving you to pay the difference.
The Sound Ex
Rebranded from their previous incarnation as The Sound Explosion, these north-easterners (UK) perhaps unwittingly now resemble a band named for their 'we are on good terms honest' erstwhile other. With a cheat sheet name checking both Shellac and classic rawk yawners like Led Zep they may well float yer boat with a stylish mix of scabrous angular juddergrind and rousing, robust, chest-beating, hair-curling crusts of anthemage or, should anyone ever listen to my cynical splutterings, rather more prosaic collection of snore-arousing snooze sludge that for all it's post-music posturing is more just slightly post-The Music. Yuss, rather this than The Answer gearing up to unleash another opus of classic dithering, but the staccato-shackling arrangements appear to be striving too hard for a slight detour from their earnest soup of usual Brit-rock fodder that is disappointingly reminiscent of Paul Weller or Stereophonics listening to mid-nineties Therapy? and resulting in aimless jangle blurs that Feeder would save for the end of century box-set.
- Stu Gibson
Featuring Kaisa, erstwhile frontvampette of The Patsy Walkers, the nattily named new Fins on the frock block take a genre-surfing fling through planetary rings, pickling innards with inklings of icy Siouxsie imperiousness, the intergalactic inventiveness of the first two Blondie albums and whatever detached cool The Cardigans curiously mustered for around seventeen seconds in '97 (enough to force the thought of Saffron Republica from your mind) for a quirky pop pageant of polka dot pole dances on an icebergian lattice work of sci-fi horror tinges like the creepy crawl of Panic Attack and lavishly rancorous romance of Crash. With an overall feel of unselfconscious kitsch mingling with the glacial glitz and grandeur associated with their native scenery such inflections laudably detour from telegraphed pock marks on rockabilly ribbon rails.
- Stu Gibson
As metal lore set in stones and silly scales should dictate, no matter what what's her face from X-Ray Spex says, these mainstays of completely underground metal-tasia were never really shunted away, as dispiriting as their rides on shoddy support slot lighting rigs may undoubtedly have been at times. With their marvellously pun-fun name and with founder members Andy Pyke and Dave Martin at the helm they far surpass the eighties UK press' sidelining of them as mere would-be Priest usurpers, instead sending forth a maelstrom of scintillating sci-fi metal as epic as Maiden and Helloween and as siniciously malicious as many a Shaun Hutson novel of the time, enough to send Kai Hansen into convulsions. Hell, they may plummet heedlessly the depths of cliché with titles like Hell On Earth, Gods Of Deception, Necromancer, Devil's Anvil and Night Terror but they execute every last note with a knife-edge exquisite eagerness and a zeal and hunger that would shame the most proudly precise psychopath, no random slashings here. And no shame that you'll have a fair impression of the noise inside, though I'll slosh some brown ale in yer guts if this contains nay surprises. Result? - a rather wondrous feast for still crazily fervent fans famished for some classic metal gravel-crunching.
Stonewall Noise Orchestra
Constants In An Ever Changing Universe
Two sets of disparaging squall for the discerning from Scandinavian noise contortionists plying stoner seas and scabrous sludge. While never quite squaring up to their monstrous potential, neither are they constipated in the arts of colossal onslaught of the sort that float tankers, drift continents more than merely break icebergs, dredge canals on some other planets and perhaps even change weather patterns. Hate Gallery, a UK/Finn conglomerate certainly have space in the back for some surplus fuels to sump up their moniker and the curious promise their cutely cynical title points to, though Good Things Come To Those Who Hate is a meat-beating manifesto far less petulantly Marilyn Manson as you may be forgiven for assuming. Alas, their title, as so often, becomes some sort of epitaph or signifier for the overall impression as the possibilties for an aural piledriving pounding with riffs like raging appendages are expended like a mini-gun assault on sandbags composed of an entire desert. The S.N.O. on the other side of the abyss, plunge you into frequently thrilling sickly spillations of Sabbath / Zan Guerilla style vortices, swilling you round with hooks that stare you down into sink estates of sleeve-shorn splendour, riffs turning every turbine and industrial contraption in town and fermenting many a curious concoction into possible seizure stratospheres.
Long Tall Texans
Perhaps nowadays overshadowed by unsuspected powerhouses and long-unacknowledged lynchpins now uberlords like Demented Are Go, King Kurt, Frantic Flintstones and a bin-load full of infinitums, Brighton behemoths Long Tall Texans did in fact have a brief liaison with Radio One and even a short, if fruitless, skirmish with the nations staple The Breakfast Show way back when in the late 80's. Along with King Kurt they manned the turrets under the banner of boys out at the beach, picture postcard pissed on pitchers of cheap pils end of the psychobilly pier and surpassed the confines of that scene in a similar style. This further escapade in Cherry Red's laudable and loving 'Psychobilly Collectors Series' is a jolly little blighter and one well worth a (re)investigation, for it is a sloop deck sodden, soaking and scorched, scorched, I say, with an inventiveness largely missing from the spurious psycho slurry, especially as it was originally issued at the time when said scene split asunder into the more usual zombiecore furtive thrash-in-a-plastic-mac mucking about found in psychobilly common rooms in this day and age. Commercial, why sure, but replete with plenty of sonic curios for the musico's as well as chest rattling treasures like Bloody and No Tomorrow) rampantly reinforced with the inclusion of four extra tracks of unwholesome awopbopping, two of which may well be further takes of opening track and stink-curdling lurch Get Back Wetback but it all adds to the effect of the times eh? Talking of which, they were canny enough not to fall into the temptations of eighties production, thus cementing a quiet classic quite unlike the state after which they were named but one that could well cast a longer, taller shadow henceforth and forthwith.
- Stu Gibson
The Punk Rock Anthology
Reeto, ditch yer old damned Damned records with the dishwater, curl yer old Clash records into ashtrays and if you actually own Pistols records go flog yerself like a Formula 1 bosses whore and revel in these blotchy delights. If the whirling splurge of memory serves The Boys were about the first on the UK punk block to either get a deal or an album out or some such. That they signed to a notoriously shite label (NEMS) is now incidental - though it did garner the gem that is Do The Contract - cos this is as ceaselessly essential a parcel as you may want, from the first sniff of single swings to old demos (including Sad Souvenir that finally surfaced on the lost Crybaby's album What Kind Of Rock'n'Roll as a fitting Thunders' tribute), offcuts and bristlingly pristine classics like Classified Susie, Brickfield Nights (and for any old Dogs hounds, a little wallflower by the name of Heroine). Formed from the dregs of the fabled London SS, whence warbled Mick Jones and Tony James, by Matt Dangerfield and featuring Casino Steele of The Hollywood Brats - whence they rescued Tumble With Me and Sick On You, very very quickly - The Boys eschewed snide scene sermon-sneering and pointless political point-scoring for classy rock'n'roll of the short, sharp, shimmering style like the slurred scurvy scaring administrations of The Heartbreakers (note You Can't Hurt A Memory...) and Dave Edmunds, as well as also having the equally immaculately named John Plain, Kid Reid and Jack Black. Simply, inelegantly glorious.
Black Diamond Heavies
A Touch Of Someone Else's Class
The return of the bromide n' bourbon boys brings their noxious, sulphurous suffusing of soul and blues suppurating from slabs of ozone-disintegrating organ and oil-drilling if not drinking rhythms to bear on second full-length outing and pushes their own already colossal choogle into the unruly realms of the utterly righteous, spitting any accusations of pastiche onto sidewalks like teeth from a drunk junkie's freshly bottled teeths. From opening skull-cleaving romparound rampage through Nutbush City Limits this wends all dramas and dread way out past all Wests n' red in Iggy's raw power eyes with a sound that sucks yer gravity and stews it out of thy solar plexus gargling the rancid germ of an idea that Cave and Sclavunos musta imbibed when they conceived Grinderman all the while. Veritable parking lots are to be said and pray tell it must be lo! for the grindfuck payload this pair pound out but the horns on Bidin' My Time and the lowdown lurch of Oh Sinnerman are dizzying spellbinders that shovel such self-deprecating titular concerns into the gravel-pit that James Legs voice is dribbling into - a coruscating, crack-paned rasp that could cripple Tom Waits' suspension at sniper distances to eddy and howl wolfishly around your gutsewers like a lascivious preacher scouting the parish desperate for a fetish to galvanise splenetic eruptions and judiciously save the poor sinners of congregations pleading to be secreted from Christ unatoned knows where. Inconclusive critical appraisal? Just fucking buy it and love it. This could feed thousands with a few defiled loves and the resultant loathings.
Yeah Right! Records
This is the fourth record from Vancouver-based band, The Spitfires, who gained some notoriety a few years back for getting thrown out of a Toronto club in the middle of a gig. That's rock and roll, baby. This album of blistering 70's-tinged hard rock songs, full of searing guitar solos, sizzling licks, and snarling vocals, is practically guaranteed to start a bar brawl, or at least a pretty intense living room air-guitar session. The title song, Aim Low, with its anti-establishment sentiment about, er, getting buggered by music industry-types ("aim low/shut up and lay down") would not be out of place on a Sons of Guns sleaze-comp, and The Day The Earth Died Screaming practically melted the plastic bits on my cd player. In case you missed the pattern in my adjectives, this record is hot, man. Hot.
- Holly Engel