10 new groups to refute ‘Retromania’

10-New Groups To Play to Simon Reynolds by Simon Morgan

In his latest blockbuster, ”ËœRetromania’, Simon Reynolds (LTW Review) argues that ”Ëœthe past is calcifying contemporary music. More than that, he suggests, it threatens to disable the possibility of new or futuristic music being created’ (Sukhdev Sandhu, Observer: 29/04/11).

OK, OK, stop sniggering at the back! Just because the geezer’s past his sell by date and therefore feels the need to reduce contemporary culture to a series of generational signifiers, that don’t mean he’s lost the plot and bought a farm, does it?

That depends on which side of the generational fence you’re sitting. What does happen when you hope you die before you get old, and then you get old? Apparently, you write books like ”ËœRetromania’! Meanwhile, back at the plot, it’s perfectly feasible to believe in the future of rock and roll, because it’s happening all over the place, obviously without Simon Reynolds’ express permission!

With that in mind, I’ve dug out 10-bands and 10-lables that argue effectively that new music is being created, much of it transcending it’s influences, to stand alone: better, bigger and braver than anything that came before it. Joe Strummer once said that the future is unwritten, and, for his next book, I suggest Mr Reynolds appropriates the phrase for the working-title of that much-anticipated work. In the meantime, any one that fancies feeling like they’re almost sixteen again, follow me down to the virtual vinyl vendor:

BRAIN F≠ – (Website)

Over the course of 2-blistering 45s, Brain F≠ have written themselves large as one of the most invigorating punk rock groups out there, right here, right now. Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, this 3-piece tick every box, scrunch the questionnaires into a ball, and shove them up the arses of cultural archaeologists, without the aid of a lubricant. Lurking deep beneath the squall of over-driven, treble-heavy, six-string cacophony, boy-girl vocals compete in deviant melody. Energy-laden, shambolic, and utterly indispensable.

Something Fierce – (Website)

Another 3-piece, this time out of Houston, Texas, Something Fierce have progressed to sophomore LP, ”ËœDon’t Be Cruel’, slowly building a reputation as a vessel of tunes worthy of the greats of any dynasty. Taking the chassis of later era Clash, and welding it to a split-gender vocal-approach that emits a purr of the kind I’d imagine scientists are searching for so that electric cars can be heard by pedestrians, Something Fierce have produced an album that has assimilated its influences by osmosis without the use of a Petri dish. The subsequent changes in molecular structure these sounds have endured in the process has rendered them original all over again.

Title Fight – (Website)

Kingston, Pennsylvania, is home to Title Fight, a four-piece who’ve evolved via a series of 45s & EPs since their teen-formation, building up to their stunning debut long-player, ”ËœShed’, released earlier this year. It’s a masterful collection that utilizes the group’s youthful exuberance, whilst exhibiting a staggering maturity for a band so young. Post, obviously, hardcore, unquestionably, this is thoughtful punk rock seen from an entirely different angle, and I like it.

The Tranzmitors – (Website)

The Tranzmitors hail from Vancouver, British Columbia, and have been plying their trade since 2006. Their trade, by the way, is powerpop, and the quality of their fair is measurable by the fact that their debut LP appeared on the revamped Stiff Records label, home of the hits! The world may not have yet listened in any quantity, but that hasn’t stopped The Tranzmitors from getting better and better, effectively cornering the market in Undertones shaped Jammery. As the very great Rich Perri recently observed: “The Tranzmitors are rarely off my turntable”. I know what he means. Do you?

Tyevk – MySpace

Tyvek have hardened up over the course of their first two LPs. From twitchy art-core types to the future of punk rock saints in one foul swoop. ”ËœNothing Fits’ is the kind of LP future Simon Reynolds will be hailing as seminal in 25-years time. It sounds like lots of things that have come before it, I can’t be arsed to list them, you see how many you can spot! Then again, much first wave punk sounded like bits of 60s garage punk puked up all over a fluorescent parquet floor. Hurray for recycling! If you set out to be anti-boring, your records will always sound better than those who set out to make lots of money. The new groups, you see, they are concerned with what there is to be learned.

SLUG GUTS (Website)

Australia has rarely asked for anyone’s permission, yet alone Simon Reynolds’. It’s the Antipodean Way to act all out-of-kilter with the rest of the world. It’s the job of groups from places like Brisbane to re-invent the wheel, over and over again. Following in the tradition of The Saints, The Scientists, The Birthday Party, The Triffids and countless others, Slug Guts add Crime’s wardrobe, The Cramps aesthetic values, and something indefatigably their very own, to fashion a dramatic new vista of punk rock in a gothic style.

Sharks (Website)
Hailing from my neck of the woods, I’ve watched Sharks/// grow in stature and intent ever since their inception, back in 2007. Mining a seam not unfamiliar with ”ËœCost Of Living’ era Clash, and sifting in their own blend of blue-collar romanticism, Sharks/// are quietly becoming the most important rock and roll band this country has produced in nigh on 30-years. Bristling with invention, riddled with melody, fired by passion, and guided by voices from a stereo, Sharks/// will get out their money and make a bet: they’ll be seeing you down the launderette.

The Wind-Up Birds (Website)
Leeds mavericks, The Wind-Up Birds, have the wit & wisdom of John Cooper Clarke, the song writing abilities of a young Pete Shelley, and an approach to promoting their art that’s up there with The Desperate Bicycles. Prolific beyond compare, The Wind-Up Birds have already released 27-songs, including their classic new 45, ”ËœMeet Me At The Depot’ b/w ”ËœPopman’, and Simon Reynolds has absolutely no idea what he’s missing. Who’d have thought that a single group could ever convey every single great idea to ever have come out of post-punk (sic) in one handy band? The Wind-Up Birds are that entity: go find your new favorite group.

The Homostupids (Website) are the kind of band that drive serious critics insane with a heady blend of hatred and vitriol. These disrespectful Americans take terrible liberties with the corpse of punk rock, forcing it through fractured tubes and rusting valve amps, and then screaming all over it with barely a concerted effort to formulate a tune. Marvelous. Need I say more?

Suedehead – (Website) Finally, Costa Mesa, California, is home to Suedehead, a band defiantly in tune with The Attractions and the pre-beard years of the popular song constructivist, Elvis Costello. Add to the mix an awareness of Dexy’s Midnight Runners circa ”ËœSearching For The Young Soul Rebels’, and a nodding acquaintance with ”ËœSetting Sons’ era Jam, and Suedehead are about ready to hit you with a packet of three quality EPs and an LP before the fall. Pop music was always meant to be this good, but, for some reason, nobody’s bothered to make any of it since the mid-80s. Thankfully, the future plays wonderful tricks on the past, and now that most everyone that was there when it almost mattered is long dead and gone, and it’s safe for the tunes to come out to play with those who care for them once again. All’s well that ends well!

10 New Labels To Introduce To Simon Reynolds.

Of course, there are loads more than 10-essential new groups in this global music jamboree we call the world (circa 2011). Don’t let tedious pseudo-academic careerists tell you any different. After all, what would have happened if instead of the world going apeshit over the antics of the young Bob Dylan back in 1962, they’d simply thrown their hands in the air and said: “Woody Guthrie . . . heard it all before, get outa here!”

The 10-labels below will doubtless alert you to many new groups you haven’t discovered as yet. These groups hold the future in their chords, and, thanks (sic) to 35-years of neo-liberal conditioning, you have the choice! It’s all about choices, you know? That’s something dudes like Simon Reynolds always tend to ignore.

Deranged Records

Dirt Nap Records

Grave Mistake Records

Hockey Dad Records

In The Red Records

Nominal Records

No Way Records

Sacred Bones Records

Sorry State Records, Punk / Hardcore / Metal / Noise Records

Static Shock Records

And, finally, if you’re looking for further guidance, you could also bookmark: Terminal Boredom ”“ the best zine that isn’t trakMARX!

Simon Morgan ”“ Louder Than War ”“ 31/05/11

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I think Brew Records (think they’re based in Leeds) are well worth a mention in terms of putting out exciting forward-thinking bands. The first time I heard (one of their bands) Castrovalva I got really, really excited.


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