Noise Agents – Noise Agents (Step-1)
CD / LP / DL
From the mean streets of Gloucester, where “Oi” is a way of referring to yourself, not some thing herberts shout to get your attention, comes this example of an under reported but still vibrant scene.
This CD kicks off with “Together We Stand” – a track that immediately brings to mind The Business from their late 90s era. All shoutalong chorus and big guitar sound with crisp drums. Then we have “Bullets” and “School Daze” which could both have been lifted off any recent UK Subs release, the latter having a Blitz style guitar intro. This should give you a fair idea of the territory Noise Agents inhabit. As the CD progresses there is a definite “street punk” vibe with shades of bands such as Angelic Upstarts, Newtown Neurotics or Contempt – and a couple of “woah woah” choruses for good measure. They can certainly do melodies. I was trying to work out what “We’re gonna waken the punk rock dead and kick them out of bed” reminded me of, and I realised it was Captain Sensible, the melodymeister in punk rock circles in my not-so-humble-fuck-you opinion. We are in the land of the melodic and consequently Noise Agents sail close to the Bloke Rock line.
I should explain.: A mate of mine sidled up to me at an all day gig about 8 years ago and, referring to the aging act playing before us, said “They’re alright, but….it’s a bit Bloke Rock, innit”. Thus was a new genre of music born. These days it seems wherever you go you can’t help for tripping over a bunch of old gits giving it their all. Bloke Rock is played well, in fact maybe a little TOO well. And it’s rockin’ enough so the young punks can nod their drunken heads and the leather jacket wannabe-bikers can raise their fist, but it’s melody allows the gang who never leave the bar at the back of the gig to wave their pint jugs in time. Which means the Dire Straits loving bigot down the pub will say “that sounds alright” rather than look at you as if you are from another planet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not only youngsters who should be able to have fun playing in a band but Bloke Rock lacks something which I can’t put my finger on. Edginess? Anyway, Noise Agents (I keep wanting to spell it “Noize”) manage to avoid the Bloke Rock trap that others have fallen into, but they come close. Stay away lads. Keep your edge!
I get the impression that Noise Agents are totally genuine with their socio-political lyrics rather than delivering the standard “The Kids Are Alright” and “I just wanna rock ‘n’ roll” fare that is becoming all too ubiquitous. You would expect as much given that the singer Andy and drummer Marcus have previous form in Demob (of “No Room For You” and “Anti-Police” fame”), back in the days when terms like “Oi!” were first bandied about by journalists in an attempt to control and pigeon-hole the punk rock scene. Okay, so they sing about fighting and about the kids hanging out together but you know this is reminiscence not mythologising. We’re talking Shane Meadows not Guy Ritchie. “Don’t need a reason to fight for Liberty”….damn right! “Still a Class War”, “Riots in The City”…can’t complain at that.
I’ve not seen this bunch live yet but I’m willing to bet they are a lot heavier and more raw than this recording. It has all the hallmarks of a great band who have probably suffered at the hands of the studio engineer who thinks his job is to make everything sound “clean”. Where’s the “dirty” and the “nasty”? I can tell it’s just gagging to get out. And judging from the shadowy gang staring out from the back cover of the CD (right), they might be quite happy to use it on some cheeky reviewer hiding behind the safety of a web page. As they sing on Indestructible “..be careful what you say, we are sure to make your day, keep it quiet, button it, we take no prisoners and we take no shit”. Oh well, I never liked my kneecaps much anyway.
All words by Nathan Brown. You can read more from Nathan on LTW here.