BLOK 1A - Violent City CD (self released)
BLOK 1A are a bunch of dutch mohawks playing punk in the fine tradition of UK82 bands like EXPLOITED and ONE WAY SYSTEM. The opening title track has even got a touch of good old swedish style kvalitetsmangel like MOB47, so this is good solid stuff, though it's more Beat The Bastards than Punk's Not Dead. Had this been released some 20 odd years ago this would have been considered somewhat metalish.
They supported THE VECTORS when we played their hometown Rotterdam earlier this year so I knew what to expect when I got this in the mail. The fact that the CD is as good as it is was still a surprise as this kind of punk tends to go on a bit live, especially if it's played on cheap equipment in an old squat which is the way I first heard the songs.
17 tracks are usually a few too many on a CD but almost all of the songs have good, catchy and distinct choruses making it sound a lot more varied than it actually is. Most of the songs are sung in english, but there's a few done in their native language too. HTM is especially good, and as my dutch is somewhat limited I'm guessing here but I think it's about public transportation ticket inspectors and how to fool them. I'm sure Stemhol is about voting, or rather; not voting. Speaking for yourself instead of giving your voice away to some politician, and all that.
The english lyrics are a lot of DISCHARGE type stuff about war: seeing the remains of a shattered head and the earth is burning from war and diseases. You know the drill. Unless you're very new to punk you gotta be able to sing along to stuff like Final End - Ripped up corps! Final End - With no remorse! without having heard the song before. Which is both a good and a bad thing I guess.
They give the USA a steel capped boot in the nuts with Fuck America and Christianity gets a studded fist in the face with Religious Cult. You've all heard A.C.A.B. (bastards) and A.C.A.C. (cunts). They add All Cops Are Cows to that. All Cops Are Cows. Meeeeuuuw . Made me laugh anyway.
There's the odd track I don't like and sometimes the vocals tend to be a bit on the metal growl side, which is a too common mistake in punk and hardcore tody. It doesn't make you sound strong or tough, it just sounds like something you hide behind because you're afraid of your own voice. Aside from that I can't find much wrong with this release.
Everything is delivered with speed and aggression. No attempts to sugar coat it. This would scare the bondage pants off OXYMORON. The CD booklet incudes lyrics and tons of photos of angry screaming mohawks. Extremely generic, I know, but still a pretty good punk party record.
Available from their website. Check it out.
KOMMUNEN - Demo CDR (self released)
KOMMUNEN (the name means THE COUNCIL in swedish) play fairly fast old school swedish punk rock with somewhat theatrical vocals that are sometimes cool and to the point and sometimes not. It works really well when it ridicules the subject, as it does in Nya Partiet (The New Party - a short lived swedish right wing party in the late 90's), but not really at all when it's just the singer trying to sound tougher than he is.
I guess their main influence is KSMB, whom they cover with the classic Atomreggae. A way to show their colours maybe, but not an easy one to improve - and they don't, though they do it faster. This may come as a shock to some, but simply speeding a song up isn't enough. Opening track Reinfeldt (leader of the swedish Tory/Republican party) is the best track on this. Good, juvenile punk rock lyrics with a healthy dose of nazi references. Accusing leading politicians of being 'just like Hitler' is punk rock 101. Balls full of Zyklon B is a new angle, and one I like too. A+.
There's a song about yet another political party in Sweden (the neo-liberal one) and one about capitalism (they think it's - surprise surprise - bad). As you probably have guessed already KOMMUNEN are a bit to the left. Some of my friends ran a monthly punk rock club at an opera bar and that was not appreciated by this band, so that gets a song too. The main complaint is that it was too expensive, and to be fair I'll admit that it was, but most of us still had a good time there anyway. It's just money, you know.
The whole thing is very DIY, cheap and anti-commercial. Recorded for no money at all and sold to you through their website for 10 SEK (roughly a dollar or a euro). Comes with a lyric sheet. Drummer Victor runs a distro too.
MATT MARTIN - Piechest CD (Paradeco Records)
The CD starts off with a minute or so of vibrating noise. Then it's a slow singer songwriter 60's badda-bah-pap-pah number that goes on for too long. The next is a rythmic almost punk song with every sound effect known to man added to the vocals. It dies down into a light weight 70's rock riff. This never ends.
The next track is a constant barrage of talking/singing only interrupted by high pitch oooohh's . Like THE STREETS but with an american half talking half singing instead of a brit semi rapping.
Next track opens with All we want is results, results and damn the consequences and though the rest of it is kinda funny too, the music is just accoustic guitar and a synth in the back ground. The line independent as a hog on ice was great when TOM WAITS first used it.
This is a very laid back CD that really should be reviewed by someone else than me. I'm too restless a person to listen to something like this. It just never goes anywhere and it never ends. There's some backwards playing that goes on for several minutes. Not sure that was such a good idea. Looking at the track list there's 24 songs on this. There's no way I'm gonna review it all.
Some of the music sound like early CURE. If you ignore the student-intellectual-tries-to-sound-weird vocals these songs are enjoyable, though only in contrast to the rest really. He plays some accoustic guitar and interviews himself. He adds some sound affects to a repeated phrase, cuts a song in mid sentence in favour of some uninspired instrumental jam. Then does 30 seconds of synth noise. Throws in two minutes of TV sound samples. Plays a little. And it goes on like that.
Maybe I'm just a stupid punk rocker who doesn't understand his well thought out concept, but to me it sounds like a guy with an accoustic guitar who wants to make himself more interesting by adding some off-the-rack-weird effects.
I don't know. A white middle class californian male in his late 20's is trying to figure himself out, I guess. Not very interesting. Loads of references to his mum in the lyrics.
MIKE & THE RAVENS - Four Aces & A Joker Promo CDEP
Would you believe that this 4-song CD came with a 13-page promo sheet? Appearantly a full double CD will be out later this month and this EP is just a teaser.
MIKE & THE RAVENS were a late 50's to mid-60's US band and most of the promo sheet deals with how they had THE BEATLES' vocal sound long before anyone had heard of THE BEATLES (or THE BEETLES as they're disrespectfully called in the text). That's probably true, too. Who cares? I think THE BEATLES are absurdly over rated.
The 4 tracks on this one were recorded in 1962 and early 1963. It opens with a fairly slow ELVIS PRESLEY meets ROY ORBINSON type number called Mr Heartbreak. The next track is a bit more up-tempo song that sounds like another early 60's pop track, but I can't place which one (great man, thanks for the information). Never mind. Some early british invasion band that had overdosed on BUDDY HOLLY.
The third number, One Of These Days, has a good rythm'n'blues feel to it. The end bit of the song reminds me of Five Live era YARDBIRDS. Maybe She's So Respectable? The fourth one is more or less an up-tempo 12 bar blues with some decent CHUCK BERRY leads, called Oobie Doobie Do (it's not Do The Oobie Doobie). This CD is pretty good, though I've never been a fan of harmony singing and there's some of that. I like the guitarist. Sometimes he's got that ehh.. I don't know.. DUANE EDDY twang, if you know what I mean? If you don't, this record won't interest you anyway.
The bonus track - or joker if you want - is one about the summer that I doubt was recorded as early as the rest. If it is from 1963 they were really ahead of their time. This sounds like a lot of bands did a few years later. I don't know, like THE TURTLES as hippies maybe.
The 4 first songs are short and have a very basic but good production. They probably did the recordings real quick. Beauty must be instant, especially in rock'n'roll. MIKE & THE RAVENS either understood that, or they just couldn't afford lengthy studio sessions. I'm waiting for the 40+ song double CD and the 1957-1962 stuff.