A round up of the latest punk releases

CD REVIEWS

PUNK ROUND-UP (Oct 2012) – TRASH TALK – THE CASUALTIES – THE CUT-UPS – PUNK GOES POP 5

THE CASUALTIES
Resistance
Season of Mist /
CD LP DL

Much loved and/or much maligned, the Casualties (born 1990, this is their ninth studio album to date) are basically an American tribute-to the Sploited / GeeBeeAitch’nt English Dogzzz and their brand of verymetalpunkrock. So, you’re gonna either love ‘em or hate ‘em, (whilst I try and sit on the fence and get confortable). They are great at-what-they-do on the basis of this, which is probably their best sounding album production-wise and is pretty good in a kind of streetpunk-rock no-effort-required easy-listening kinda way. There are some solid, pummelling tunes and great big Whoa-oh-oh backing vocals. It’s definitely good to see a nod to the persecuted South East Asian Rebels and the song Morality Police even sounds so raging that it brings to mind anarcho-punk brand-leaders Conflict. Life On The Line is probably the best song GBH never wrote and the sung-in-Spanish has a guitar hook so sharp you could fire it out of a harpoon-gun.

As an aside; My mate Ben is a fan of relentless angry punk like this, which belies his extremely polite, laidback and gentle nature. He is the-way-he-is though because this is how he externalises his anger; listening to and playing music like this; “If I didn’t I’d be a fuckin’ psycho-killer mate” he told me. So remember – keeping the Casualties in business may well be preventing real casualties on the streets!




TRASH TALK http://www.trashtalkhc.com/
119
(Odd Future)
CD / DL / Bundle

A lot of people seem to like Trash Talk, Sacramento, California hardcore dope-fiend skate-punks who’ve been around since 2005. The NME, Rolling Stone and the Guardian have all praised them. They’ve toured with LTW favourites OFF! and played with the best new-punks-on-the-block in-my opinion Cerebral Ballzy.

Trash Talk seem to pretty much talk the talk and walk the walk but somehow they haven’t convinced me (yet). Their music is brutal; hard & fast & angry; the vocals are throat-shredingly raw/roar. What they lack in my eyes are humour, personality and really memorable songs. They are sheer, cold, disciplined, muscular, text-book hardest of the hard-core. Their machismo and lack of any vulnerability turns me off. And now they’ve signed to and are working with Odd Future, the label of the bizarre/creative/offensive hip-hop horrorcore collective of the same name, featuring Tyler the Creator, who is some kind of fucked-up genius. The one track on this album that features Tyler and Hodgy Beats does stand-out as a collaboration that really does work and I wouldn’t mind betting that there will be a full on soundclash album to follow featuring both bands buzzing off each others energy. In the meantime, this is Trash Talk at the best, however it just aint good enough for me and doesn’t live up to the (constant) Black Flag comparisons. The lyrics about incitement to riot, don’t ring true enough, when their raison d’etre seems to be to get wasted, get noticed and get (in)famous.

THE CUT-UPS http://www.thecutups.com/
Building Bridges, Starting Here
Household Name http://www.householdnamerecords.net
LP DL

Great band name. Expected some retro-punk sleaze or garage rock trash but surprised to discover that this is the third album by an Exeter band on the Household Name label, featuring ex-members of Annalise (Boss Tuneage artistes who I remember being ‘Ok’ when I saw then a decade back or more.). They describe themselves as punkrock (all one word lower case) but are a triffle lightweight when compared to the Casualties and Trash Talk. Billy Bragg is a distinct influence songwise & vocally but musically its pretty much 1978/9-era power-pop-punk agit-prop-protest with a touch of Clash, Newtown Neurotics, the anarcho-libetarian sound of Zounds, the fraggle-pop of the Mega City Four, the lovelorn pop of Teenage Fanclub and a smidgeon of Dagnasty. What an old mate (with a narrow view of what punk should be) would’ve dismissed as a ‘student band’.

There is that element of worthiness and preachiness about the Cut-Ups which can get a bit annoying, probably just a personal thing as I’m known for my dislike of Billy Bragg, but a couple of guitar parts/chord sequences remind me of the Manic Street Preachers (of all people). It’s kinda like I don’t want to like the Cut-Ups but can’t help myself! Exeter – the opener, after a few listens does reveal itself to be a great song. The lyrics to The Gold War ‘Come friendly bombs, and never land on anyone’ I like too, and the personal politics of Building Bridges’ does have a classic pay-off line “ I’ve cancelled you as signatory “.

The fact that the Cut-Ups do make efforts to stretch the self-imposed boundaries of punk is cool, particularly when it manifests itself in the brass, strings and organ that adorn the songs, choruses, a distinctive vocal and lyrics with a bit of intelligence. Occaisonal vocalist Pippa adds a bit of variety with her Amelia Fletcher meets Kirsty MacColl style vocals – although ‘Another Bad Mood’ is really only fit for a twee/C86 compilation tape.

Overall though a really enjoyable album of mature, thoughtful protest-stroke-personal/political punk tunes.

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Punk Goes Pop 5
Fearless Records
CD/DL

Punk (Rock) cover versions have a long, illustrious and glorious history. The Damned sped-up & anhilated Help, the Pistols turned love into hate on Whatcha Gonna Do About It? The Clash introdued reggae to the Blank Generations by covering Police & Thieves. Injecting the speed and energy of punk into old-songs or pop-songs can be a wonderful thing indeed….

First band I ever saw at a RAR festival in the late 70’s was a Southampton group called K-Oz playing a disastrous unhinged version of Wild Thing with added swearing.

Billy Childish does great punkkovers and generally improves the songs tenfold. Even the Oizone compilation An Indifferent Beat http://damagedgoods.greedbag.com/oizone/ is a work of near-genius, where Pop Music gets a righteous kicking….

This though, the fifth volume of American bands covering contemporary pop songs by the likes of Beiber, Rhianna, Coldplay and Kanye is utter, utter rubbish. Cak by any other name. Worthless, bland, dull, rubbish. (I was gonna say trash, but that would make it sound cool and Dollsy.) You can hardly tell any difference between the cover and the original as the slick production, autotuned vocal, & disco-beat are the same its just the chunky GuitarHeroTM style guitar is a bit higher in the mix, and the vocal sometimes a bit more growly & scarey. Avoid this album like the plague. I would apologise to Fearless for the thirty seconds they sent sending me this album but apparently “In the twelve years since it’s launch, the Punk Goes… series has gone to sell over 800,000 albums and 4 million singles in just over a decade.” So I doubt very much they’ll be bothered by just one slagging….but if I can lose them just one customer then the pain of listening to this SHITE has all been worthwhile.

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