Monthly Archives: March 2015

USA Nails – Sonic Moist

USA Nails
Sonic Moist
Smalltown America

usanails

10 slabs of discordant and manic noise. Cries of Drive Like Jehu or Circus Lupus, where you have screams, noise, tunes and manic playing. This is so good. They played Dublin late lat year and selfishy I can’t believe I wasn’t there. I hope you made it.

It’s full of energy, it’s frenetic with an attitude as sharp as the top of Dublins spire this St Patricks Day. I’m at home on this St Patricks day but I haven’t felt this energy since seeing the Pleasure Cell play an afternoon gig in the Underground in the mid 80s. Their sound has no similiarites but the attitude rings true. This is an exciting record, giving that feeling of excitment I had that very same afternoon. I love that people are in bands like this.

http://www.independentmusic.com/releases/usa-nails-sonic-moist

niallhope

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Cigarette Crossfire s/t

Cigarette Crossfire
Cigarette Crossfire
Waterslide Records

cigarette

Finland believe it or not has a great reputation for melodic hardcore. Manifesto Jukebox were my introduction to this countries capacity for playing such tunes and it has continued since with
Combat Rock Industry being the home to many Finish outfits. This is their second album and first for Waterslide Records. It hasn’t been a stable line up in that time and many bands would have decided to fold under the pressure. Founder member and drummer of the band, Hennka, passed away tragically last year, soon after this records release. Santtu has now taken the sticks and plays them in Hennka’s honour at each gig. Incredibly brave for them to continue after such a tragic accident (Hennka joined those we miss daily after a skateboarding accident).

It is Hot Water Music, Leatherface and Manifesto Jukebox but that is too simple. It is hard and heavy, we can scream along at times, we have tunes and plenty of anthems to raise our fists to.

niallhope

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The Slowest Clock – Smile Futurismo! All I heard was purple

The Slowest Clock
Smile Futurismo! All I heard was purple
Eye Unseen Records

slowest-clock-small

I may be in a small minority of Dublin music fans that has positive things to say about Slowest Clock. When Snuff had to withdraw from a gig they were due to play in Dublin in 1989 with US hardcore band Fugazi, Slowest Clock were ready at a heartbeat to fill in. They were always looking to play to new audiences back at a time when different genres weren’t always looking to join together.

Slowest Clock could pop up with any band at the time. Be that Something Happens to match guitarist Gerry’s psychadelic flowery shirts or A House pop sensibilities or Gorehounds psychobilly warblings. They found friends across the ocean in Australian guitar band Celibate Rifles and teamed up on many occassions, even popping up on bills with Paranoid Visions at times.

Of course some of the crowd that were expecting the hardcore fun of Snuff were disappointed with the nod to 60’s psychadelia of the Slowest Clock but many did give them the chance. 25 years later and this record sees the light of day. With no re-union to accompany it, no press sheet to accompany it, no web presence to accompany it, not even contact details on the record. Just a band with some strong songs.

How this record came to exist is a mystery to me. I was aware the four parts that made up the slowest clock were recording in Roundwood Studios in 1990 when they decided aheir day was called. It would seem most of the songs on here are from those sessions. Their post band existence is quite sparse too, only one member continued to be a fixture on the Dublin scene, guitarist Gerry Fahy went on to play in Candy Apple Red.

I recently watched a documentary on the legendary Wimbledon AFC who won the FA Cup in England in 1988. They played that final against Liverpool and most people expected the red of Liverpool to be the colours on the FA Cup when it was lifted that evening. The documentary told of the almost fairy tale journey that Wimbledon went on. Starting off on a tight budget that never really expanded the team from SOuth London fed of not being liked, thrived on being underdogs and wished to be in the minority. That all changed when they got sucess and these also rans became internationals and left to joing bigger clubs. One player, Eric Young, went on to play for Wales but he had no interest in talking about how he was part of the success story. Didn’t wish for the limelight, didn’t want to take any credit. Wanted to be left alone and let his football do the talking. Very few people know where he is now but they do have the memories of the games. The same can be said of the Slowest Clock, these songs – big hints to 60’s garage punk – are the memories and they can speak for themselves. You don’t like them? They don’t care. You want to listen to them? It seems they don’t care either

niallhope

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Slice Of Life – Love and a Lampost

Slice of Life
Love and a Lampost
Overground Records
slice of life

Steve Ignorant finally gets to sing, under the studio microscope. I’ve listened to him in various formats over the years, Crass and Schwarzennegar being the main two. Steve’s vocals have always been covered by the racous noise of Crass or the electric sound of Schwarzennegar. It is now stripped bare with acoustic accompaniment.

I have seen Slice of life live a couple of times and Steves anger and passion is to the fore (and sometimes an alcohol abetted voice and attitude), however there’s nothing to hide behind here. No Deko to counteract or PA’s guitar cutting in like when he did the album with Paranoid Visions.

And it is still spoken in many parts, prose poetry and art. There’s piano, acoustic guitar, upright bass and even a trumpet.

History has put many people up on pedestals, usually with an alternative version ready to knock them down again. Since the dawn of time many garden paths have been well worn with peoples footsteps being brought up them, and left. Abandoned. Thinking, “we were nearly there”, wondering “If only”. Music and culture changed the lives of many of those troubadors. We are the vegans, vegetarians and souls that were changed. Meat Is Murder, Coal Not Dole, Red Wedge or There is No Authority But Yourself are all clarion calls from the 70’s/80’s. It is a period in history that may be remembered for revolutionary statements on vinyl. Today our cassettes are on mp3, our fanzines digitised by blogs and some people on the edges are running ethical businesses.

Many of the venues that remain open are still driven by profit and alcohol, many of the promoters are using music as a means to pay their bills and few paths are being laid. We looked to bands like Crass and Fugazi to bring us on a different route which some of us took. Slice of Life have taken that musical route. The message is strong and the sound is pleasant. Ideally this band wouldn’t be looking to the mainstream venues and we would have an alternative built over the past 30 years. That doesn’t exist as we co-exist with those we rally against.

If only eh?

Time has moved on and it is good to hear Slice of Life bringing a sound forward. Long may that wheel move forward, open your mind and give this a chance punk.

niallhope

slice of life1

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ICTU Women’s Seminar 2015

ICTU Women’s Committee hold a seminar and conference on alternate ears. As last years conference was in Wexford it was the turn of the NI members to host this years Seminar.

It was two days, not of motions but of workshops and keynote addresses, an attempt to empower, inform and entertain delegates. As with previous years PSEU had a strong delegation in attendance.

After being welcomed by both the Joint Chairs and Belfast Trades Council who reminded us once more “Let us be the change we want to be in the world”, In fact Kerry Fleck from the trades Council went on to speak eloquently and passionately on the effects of austerity on Workin class women and how there are now a plethora of active women’s groups in Belfast. Kerry reminded us of the change in discourse of groups like the IMF who are calling for an increase in the minimum wage and that inequality is the achilles heel of neoliberalism.

Ethel Buckley from SIPTU spoke of the Ethical Work Initiative and of the involvement of President Michael D Higgins in pushing this valuable campaign. #ethicswork is their hashtag
David Begg then gave what is his last official speech as general Secretary of Congress befor Patrica King takes over on International Womens Day this weekend. David spoke of the “widening gap between rich and poor which may threaten economic and political stability….and so it should” He pointed to the Nordic countries as the most economically and social cohesive models and said that “our mission is to project ideas for a different, better, fairer, society.” On international Womens Day this year there will be women leaders of ICTU, TUC, ITUC and ETUC which is a great achievement for the movement.

ICTU President John Douglas reiterated this theme, these are the most challenging times in our history and welcomed the fact that Patricia King is taking over – “Patricia is the best trade unionist on the isand of Ireland” John opined.

Zuzanna Muskat-Gorsta from the ITUC spoke eloquently in her non-native tongue on Gender Equality. “From Poland it is deeply risky to say, ‘I’m a feminist”.. Zuzanna echoed Naomi Klein’s recent thoughts that climate change is strongly linked to Global Inequality and that Green Jobs is the way forward. We also heard how that Gender Based Violence is increasing and amongst that Forced Labour and human trafficking in a violent act.

The seminar split into workshops and the perception of women in Public Life heard of groups in both North and South that are sing education to help equalise the balance of gender participation in Political Life. Some startling figures came out. 16% of dail seats are held by women – an all time high! and 96th in world ranking. 0% of Senior Judges in Northern Ireland are female.
Belfast Lord Mayor then spoke of the way she never though of gender until becoming Lord Mayor and how suddenly her clothes seemed as important to print media as her actions. The office run Lord Mayor for a Day internships and Joanna gave an inspirational speech on disability and her hopes for the future.

Caroline McGuigan of Suicide or Survive gave the keynote address for the afternoon. This shows how the Seminar is different from so many. Suicide and mental health is a strong concern for society and obvioulsly then for trade unionists. We all konw people looking for help and were reminded that we need to listen to people because they are experts. http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie is there to assist people. Voices from the floor said how people are flat in the workplace, austerity has beaten them down. We have to try and assist in whatever way we can.

The day finished with a screening of Inez: A Challenging Woman – this documentary gave a short insight into the work and battles of human rights activist and trade unionist, Inez McCormack, ICTU’s first Woman President and trailblazer for many. It is a sad yet inspirational tale as, like so many other tributes, we wait for the people to pass away before celebraitng their life. The respect for Inez amongst people at the Seminar is palpable and it was a great way to celebrate her achievements.

****************
Day 2 had less time allocated but was no less informative. Annie Campbell from Womens Aid NI detailed awful statistics around Gender Based Violence. According to PSNI stats there’s 1 doemstic abuse incident every 19minutes with 1 domestic abuse crime every 41. IN the time it took me to write this there were 2 incidents and 1 crime. 2.5 times more domestic abuse than burgalry with over 95%directed at women. Austerity is bringing challenges as it can lead to unsustainability.
It’s hard when this is just a topic at a conference attended by hundreds of union activists to understand the severity if this issue but with these stats you can be sure there are victims and perpetrators as members of all unions in attendance. Awful.

The final piece before the wrap up which was given by PSEU’s Melissa Brennan was a panel discussion with guests from cosc, womens aid, white ribbon campaign, cpsu and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. There was a varied discussion on violence perpetrated by men and howmen avoid vulnerability. Most comments from the floor related to the proposed upcoming visit to Ireland by Juien BBlanc. Blanc has been denied access to the UK and Singapore. He was deported from Australis and is planning on speaking at a €2,000 per ticket event in Dublin in June. He is a self proclaimed ” leading international coach in dating ” and all impressions are that he condones violence. His social media diatribe is insulting and if he does make it to the country you can be sure there will be a strong presence outside the event.
http://www.dailyedge.ie/julien-blanc-barred-from-uk-1788904-Nov2014/

http://www.ictu.ie

niallhope

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