Punk Album Round Up: NoFX, Gallows, Fang, White Lung
With great new releases coming thick & fast in the late summer of 2012 Ged Babey gives us a personal round-up of some of the best new punk releases currently floating his boat.
Ok, all these releases deserve a full review, but after a slow start 2012 seems to be great year for punk-derived musics, let alone interesting new releases from the likes of the genius that is Amanda Palmer, the return of the Orb (feat Lee Scratch Perry) and the ever-brilliant Raveonettes. So I’m trying to play catch-up. My opinions incidentally are not necessarily shared by others on LTW!
Gallows – Gallows (Venn Records)
Firstly Gallows ”â now without ginger pipe-cleaner man Frank Turner and with a new lead roar-er and Blutto (from Popeye) look-a-like. It’s a great doom-thrash hardcore punk album full of hooks and aggression but on-balance nowhere near as good as the opus that was Grey Britain and somehow I can’t shake the feeling that Gallows are a confused band who really want to be Fucked-Up in terms of credibility and sound but can’t help themselves in terms of the way they allow themselves to be marketed.
Once you accept that Gallows brand of hardcore punk is purpose built for the Metal Mags Inked-up Generation who prefer their music Loud, Dumb and Awesome Maan then you can sit back and enjoy them.
Take stand out track Outsider Art with its; ”ËTime is a bastard / routine a whore / the sun is exploding / we’re heading for war’ lyric and its video where supermodels gambol, one gets raped so dons tight leather & crash-helmet, picks up a sledgehammer, gets on her iron-horse and wreaks her revenge. Schoolboy fantasy stuff to sell pretty decent sounding punk rock.
On initial hearing White Lung seem like your average fast and furious hardcore punk band. But when you really listen there are a few differences and quirks. The female singer sounds a bit like a young Lydia Lunch and maybe Courtney Love in the early days of Hole, but don’t let that put you off. The main thing is the guitar sound; steel-y reverb-y, vaguely East Bay Ray but different. Not so much fuzz or distortion but a clean but harsh but beautiful sound. Kinda as if Andy Gill joined the Circle Jerks.
Some of these songs sound like a race between the bass, guitar and drums, to finish first. Its is neck and neck; the guitar, like a blowtorch with sparks flying off at all angles, East Bay Ray style echo, seems to be the fastest. The bass is a frantic rumbling rhythm a split-second behind and the drums, the fastest, loosest hardcore beat, seems to lag behind but make a sterling effort to hold it all together and keep up.
The songs are around the two-minute mark. Nearer pop-song length rather than Circle Jerks / Off! Style self-imposed brevity of a minute. White Lung aren’t quite ”Ëpop’ though ”â the singer sounds too pissed off and couldn’t pull off a catchy chorus if she tried and the band are named after a horrible disease. (No doubt inspired by The Germs). Nineteen minutes of near-perfect post-punk hardcore for the here and now. (Touring Europe soon)
Buy / stream the album here.
Big thanks to Sean Smith for pointing this band out to me. Sometimes all the press releases and hype in the world can’t beat a personal recommendation from a mate of a mate.
I could state the case for NOFX being America’s most consistently great punk rock band in terms of good tunes and combining humour and serious issues with bollocksy guitar”Â¦ but it’d take too long. Celebrating their thirtieth year next year, this is a real return to form and possibly one of their finest works. The formula hasn’t changed. It’s pop-punk, fast and funny with songs covering jihad and blow-jobs, divorce and addiction, sycophants and politics. Fat Mike still has a teenage whine of a voice but is some kinda genius when it comes to off-the-wall songwriting. Opening song ”Ë72 Hookers’ concerns the idea that seeing as “terrorists are 16 year old kids”Â the way to stop them becoming suicide bombers is for the US Army to “enlist a million hookers”Â to “blow the sheiks”Â so that once “everyone is getting blow-jobs finally we’ll have world peace”Â. It’s a novel idea and worth thinking about. (snigger)
My personal favourite is the divorce song ”ËI’ve Got One Jealous Again, Again’ where the record collection gets divided up and is an excuse for Mike to list all of the cool influential records he owns. (Wreckless Eric wrote a song called Thirty-Threes and Forty-Fives on exactly the same theme) “If I didn’t grab my records, they may’ve all been smashed to bits”Â. I, for one, would make sure I grabbed my NOFX CD’s including this one.
You might remember Californian punk-as-fuck band Fang from such compilations as 1982’s Not So Quiet on the Western Front or Rat Music For Rat People, Vol.2 from ’84 or then again you may just know their song The Money Will Roll on in as it was covered by the Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney and Nirvana. Or perhaps you’ve heard Green Days version of I Wanna Be On TV? If you haven’t then I suggest you watch this on YouTube. The story of the legendary band and its singer Sam’Sammytown’ McBride?
A complicated history of line-up changes, prison sentences and re-issues is difficult to follow to be honest but this is their first proper album for a decade or more. It’s a good one if you like a bit of Grunge Metal-edged Oi! Stroke Junkie Rock’n’Roll. Leave any idea of political-correctness at the door when you enter Fang’s world.
That Bitch Is Gonna Blow would be rejected by Lemmy as being too corny but certainly ”Ërawks’. Burn Hippy Burn is another example of their violently pitch-black humour and the intro to Stop Bleeding seems familiar as its very like the Antz Zerox (Mo-sheen).
The two actual cover versions chosen for the album though are both a welcome surprise. New York poet Jim Carrolls ‘People Who Died’ is reduced to a one minute thirty Ramones Metal prayer to the departed. And Girlschools debut single Lets Go is re-worked nicely”Â¦ if the word nice can be included in a review of a band whose singer is a convicted murderer.
It’s a sad and fascinating back-story to a band who have become a footnote in punk history when their music was consistently erratic but visceral and as brutally hardcore as it was brutally funny. The antithesis to Minor Threats Straight Edge, this was Wasted-core and Here Come the Cops is more likely than not a fitting way to end their career rather than a new beginning.
All words by Ged Babey. You can read more from Ged on LTW here.