Category Archives: album reviews

Maid of Ace S/t

Maid of ace s/t
Www.maid-of-ace.com
image

Shamefully I have to say I was sceptical when I saw maid of ace for the first time. How can a band be this good and I have heard nothing of them? Not only was I unaware of their existence but the fact that the four siblings from Essex hadn’t a history of punk that I could rattle knowingly about was somehow an impediment.

Thankfully that prejudice dissipated by the second time I saw them. If I listened to much metal growing up I would know a bit more about Girlschool as it would seem that would beta good reference point here. 4 women thrashing out songs that sound like they are stuck to a gutter. The songs however are trying their best to scrape themselves off that metal pipe and make their way into your soul. It’s dirty, it’s heavy and at times fast.

The ramones never feature far from any discussion on punk rock and maid of ace have scuzzed up that influence, I’m sure there are influences a plenty here as the 11 songs dip into various punk genres down through the years but always end up coming back to that dirtier punk rock and roll sound. It can’t get away from it. With song titles like sick of you, spittin blood, cannibal and dirty girl you get a good feeling where maid of ace are coming from. With a dirty fuzzed up guitar sound on top of snarling vocals to accompany such titles you may get anoucture of these four siblings.

Bone Deth is the highlight for me. When Aison proclaims “when boredom and poverty has taken its toll, losing all control to this rock’n’roll, we’re goin’ down” as the rest of the family scream “Bone Deth” I do wonder what Christmas dinner must be like in their home.

The album finished with the old “we’ve got a fuzzbox and we are gonna use it” song, ‘Rules and regulations’ the fuzz is still there but the pop sparkle has been replaced by grime and maid of ace are made to keep it that way

Niallhope

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Strange Wilds – Subjective Concepts lp

Strange Wilds
Subjective Concepts
Sub Pop

strangewilds

It’s amazing how few members are required to be in a band to make an unholy racket. There’s three in Strange Wilds and have a force to be reckoned with. Pounding drums behind a solid riff laden bassline with explosive rock guitars provide the background to vocals being screamed to be heard.

It’s a nirvana, holy rollers tool mix. Plenty of hair, plenty of heads bopping and lots of riffs. THis is the debut album from the Olympia based band. They are a self proclaimed power trio and that goes to a certain distance in explaining the sound.

It’s a sweat laden journey of dirty rock and roll with some Seaweed or Torche shining through. I haven’t really heard much of the term grunge in recent years and don’t want to make it seem that Strange WIlds are somehow retro in their playing. Throughout the 11 songs there are hints to the sound that defined Sub Pop and may bands from Seattle, close neighbours to Olympia. Whilst Olympia were looking to Kill Rock Stars, Seattle was creating them and Strange Wilds sound closer to their stately Washington neighbours in Seattle.

It’s not all grunge and power, tracks like Don’t Have to roll along at a slow pace but you just know the power is going to kick in and snarl

niallhope

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Dune Rats s/t

Dune Rats
Dune Rats
Ratbag Records

I always wonder about the term ‘dumb’band. It seems to be a description doing the rounds for Brisbanes Dune Rats. I’m not sure what quantifies as dumb but to me this is a clever bunch of surfers.

Sorry, I’ve no idea whether they surf or not it’s just the impression I get. There’s a punding drum beat with tunes a plenty and the bizarrerst lyrics I’ve seen in a while.

They have the tunes the Jesus and Mary Chain were hiding and have been partying with the Ramones and Beach Boys. it’s uptempo and loud and would be a far better way to go round a grand prix circuit than a car. The speed wold carry you long as you reach hair pin bends singing at the top of your voice “Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana” (yep that is a line from the opening track.

It’s anthemic at times and never ones to take themselves too seriously the Dune Rats sing about Drugs, Superman and ET.

When I played in my first band we had a song about people being in the Army, we knew we wanted to say that we don’t want to be soldiers when we grew up and just had to find any words that rhymed once we could proclaim that Soldier Soldier is this what youy wanna be. I get that feeling at times with the Dune Rats, I guess they don’t ever wanna grow up and once they can sing “Drugs, make you lose yourself” they will be forever happy.

Turn up the volume, forget abut the lyrics and surf along

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The Helio Sequence s/t

The Helio Sequence
The Helio Sequence
Sub Pop

helio

Half a dozen albums. 6 whole albums. That’s what the helio Sequence have produced in their admirable life thus far. 6 records in and they’ve ran out of titles. Most bands can’t think of an album name the first time around. Either that or so reviewers can state eponymous release. But no, not good enough for the Helio Sequence. They have re-invigorated themselves and have started again.

The process behind this record is a good tale. Brandon and Benjamin, who make up the band, had an idea for a record. Rather than writing songs and rehearsing them until they are as tight as a wetsuit in the middle of the North Atlantic they decided to let things flow this time around. Turn up for work, express themselves musically as individuals and see what happened. They did this for a couple of weeks and then merged them together, see what worked. After a month they had 26 songs. For many bands this could have made up a concept triple album but the duo sent these tracks to a collection of their friends and said “hey, listen to these and rank your top ten. The result was 31 votes and Eurovision style 10 tracks won out.

I guess that’s where my interest drops out. For a two piece you may guess there are many effects and keyboards in the mix. If you were of that persuasion to make such a guess you’d be correct. If you like bands of that ilk you may enjoy this, it just doesn’t grab me. It’s clean, well produced and extremely well constructed. Electronic dream pop wrapped in and indie rock flavour. However they seem like such a nice duo I don’t want to rain on that parade. Like the wet suit in the north atlantic you will want it if you are close to the cold sea and have an affinity for the water. If you have any interest in electronic music and haven’t been tainted by punk rock protest songs then chances are this will fit you very snugly.

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Steve Drewett – Jenga Society

Steve Drewett
The Jenga Society
Cruel Binary

drewett

With a history of music between us, playing for Steve and listening for me, it is hard to be objective about this release. I wrote to Steve over three decades ago trying to get his band of the time over to Ireland to play some gigs. His band were the Newtown Neurotics and he was going to travel over with Attilla THe Stockbroker. We swapped missives but eventually he decided that the but ferry costs would beat us. I had been listening to the band since their debut Beggars Can Be Choosers album which followed a couple of great 7″s. The sound was a clash of punk and soul bits and had me hooked as a teenager. Every track carried a message, they sang of a world where the general populace were being beaten down but we weren’t gonna be beaten, no way… only short term losses by ferry prices would be contemplated

And here we are, 15 years into the 21st Century and neo-liberalism grew from the Tory roots and is flourishing but we are still not contemplating defeat. We will not be beaten down is still being sung but so are tales of love and reflection.

This is a solo record, acoustic warblings and to be honest they are not fully suited to a voice that has led protest songs for many years. I keep expecting a drum beat to kick in with bass and electric guitar. Steves acoustic has the treble turned up and unfortunately, for me, I wish it would be turned down. If I had of been a soldier in the 80’s then Steve Drewett would have been my Sergeant Major – I feel like I’m a deserter now – a traitor by not glorifying in this record.

I saw the Neurotics earlier this year and those songs still make the hairs on my neck stand up, still as majic and inspirational as ever but sometimes you need to use the weapons you are best at and these weapons should be plugged in for this man.

If you haven’t heard the Neurotics or listened to them in a while please make up for the loss by seeking them out

niallhope

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Vanilla Pod – Seeing Out The Sunshine

Vanilla Pod
Seeing Out the Sunshine
TNS / Dry Heave

In 1995 Vanilla Pod started pushing their brand of hardcore on to the masses. That included a trip to ireland as they tried to woo audiences with that fast US influenced sound, harking back to New York. They seemed to pop up on so many line-ups which goes to detail how involved the band were collectively in the dit music scene in the UK in the 90’s. 5 albums later over different time spans and we ow have a new offering. Whilst the real world has played a part in each individuals life it has meant less time for touring and sleeping on floors however time has been found for Seeing Out The Sunshine and we are lucky it has.

The hardcore influence is there as strong as ever. No need to tinker too much around the edges, plenty of power and passion. 7 tuneful blasts of hardcore. Here’s to the next 20 years

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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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