Thursday 29 November 2012

Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru compilation cd 2005

No, in spite of its title, this record isn't some rare Japanese comp, but I wouldn't be surprised if the intent behind the name was to attract the nerdiest species of the punk spectrum. Judging from the cover, it is safe to assume that "Mizaru kikazaru iwazaru" means "Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing", which somehow rings a bell. Hardcore punk from the West Country and Wales is what you are getting here, with no less than 6 bands and 19 songs of fast and pissed punk music played with heart and bollocks from the 2000's.

For some reason, I have found little to no information about this record. It is not even on Discogs! This is an odd omission indeed since there are a couple of rather well-known names on this one like In The Shit and Poundaflesh... The cd was released on Blind Destruction records, probably in 2005, a very fine label created by John from Spite that has been active since the mid-90's and has released some cracking records by Spite (obviously), The Restarts, Concrete Sox or Haywire throughout the years.

The first band is Da Capo from Bristol. I must confess I don't know much about them other than they had a member in common with the mighty Gurkha (small world). The first song, "Made in Britain" is very reminiscent of Maggot Slayer Overdrive (very small world), albeit in a more refined version. Da Capo has a very "modern", polished sound which works very well with their brand of tuneful but tense hardcore punk, somewhere between aforementioned Maggots, Left For Dead and Debris. Unfortunately, Da Capo's lyrics are not included so you will have to listen closely if you want to know what this bloody racket is all about. The three tracks were recorded in 2002 and reflect what Da Capo sounded like at that time as they evolved into a more rock'n'roll band (or so I read) afterwards.

This System Kills are next and though you may not have heard of them yet, they have Pig and Mark from Rectify and Classified Protest as members, bands with whom you are probably more familiar. Originally, This System Kills were called I Oppose Thee, under which name they contributed a song to the "Barricades and broken dreams "Conflict tribute. Musically, it is not as modern hardcore-influenced as Rectify though the band is still looking in this direction. Despite my legendary dislike for USHC, there are enough good, moody, anthemic tunes to keep me interested. The sound is excellent and the singer sounds a bit like Neil from Debris and Ruin and even like the Templars' (a strange but not groundless comparison if you listen carefully). TSK are probably not a band I would play on a daily basis, but the song-writing is so good here that the three songs make me crave for more. The lyrics to "Red bricks" - the best song of the three - are included and like Rectify, TSK write great, original political lyrics. This one is about the new industrialization and urbanization schemes, how new homes are being built on a massive scale in the country to house the new middle-class and how former mining towns are transformed to welcome this new population obsessed with consuming. Clever stuff written from the heart.

Next are In The Shit, Wales' harder-hitting punk band with three tracks recorded in 2004. This was one of the band's last recordings: it had the bass player on vocals and, let's face it, the line-up wasn't quite as potent as the ferocious first one. This said, this is still solid metallic hardcore-punk in the vein of classic 90's British hardcore punk like Spite, Slander, Truth Decay, Broken (American, I know) or Beergut 100 but I would argue that when they were at their peak, In The Shit were probably the best band of the genre around with songs that were aggressive, angry and heavy - but never overproduced - but kept this typical punk spontaneity that is so often lacking in "real", bands who kneel at the altar of Mosh. More mohawks, less bandanas please. As always, ITS were a serious band as "Why?" is an antiwar protest song and "Abused" tackles the difficult subject of child abuse and how people who have been abused or mistreated as kids can turn into abusers when they grow up in a cycle of violence and pain.

I got to see Poundaflesh in Derby in 2003. As a local band, they were playing at the Gathering of the 5000 gig along with Conflict, Subhumans, Icons of Filth and Lost Cherrees (quite a night it was) and they were absolutely brilliant. Like In The Shit, they illustrate everything that is good about 90's British hardcore punk. Poundaflesh must have formed in 2000 and I think they are still going today in spite of the death of Mark (from Concrete Sox) who used to play the guitar for them a couple of years ago. Sonically, this is really "take no prisoners", "no frills", "in your face" punk-rock we are dealing with. Comparisons to 90's bands like Spite, Policebastard or Substandard are relevant but I would also throw 90's era Varukers, One Way System and Concrete Sox (especially for the recurring metallic parts) in the name-dropping contest. In terms of lyrics, "Paedophile' is about, well paedophiles, and how they should be tortured, their bones broken and burnt alive (they only forgot the disembowelment and the heads on spikes), "The pendulum" is about the dangers of political correctness and how it can affect our judgement, while "Bless the press" is about the media's schyzophrenic and epileptic treatment of "the news" and how the press is full of shit. An angry bunch of lads to be sure.

I am not sure what they mean exactly by that, but Gurkha's plan of "putting the cunt back in the West country" always puts a smile on my face that I shall not wipe. I was lucky enough to see them play in 2005 at the 1in12 club alongside Doom (with Wayne still on vocals), The Dagda, Extinction of Mankind, Bait, Ruin, After the Massacre and Burning the Prospect (show-off time) and they were an absolute highlight as I had never heard of them before. Hailing from Bristol, Gurkha was made up of people from Maggot Slayer Overdrive and, to some extent, there are similarities between the two bands, especially in terms of riffage. However, Gurkha was a much gruffier, crustier affair than MSO, a shift aided by the distinctive vocalic performance of Martin (now the singer for Warprayer and Bullet Ridden) that brings to mind the 90's era of Genital Deformities, Venom and hyenas fighting over a bloody carcass. To say that I think Gurkha was an underrated band is itself an understatement. They are one of the most crushing band I have ever seen with their very own brand of metallic punk fury and I can't understand why far lesser bands claiming the "metalpunx" label got a lot more attention when all they did was writing lazy metal riffs they must have found in Lemmy's bin. Meanwhile, Gurkha played songs that, though metal tinged, remained firmly rooted in the most beautiful parts of the punk territory. Just imagine SDS covering Broken Bones songs or try chopping some fresh Extreme Noise Terror and Debauchery and leave marinade in a 90's era Disorder sauce with GISM leaves and a spoonful of Hellkrusher's "Wasteland". The lyrics are not included here, but two of the songs also appeared on the split with Malignant Tumour, "Wipe that fuckin' smile off your face" and "Disgruntled ex-worker". The two songs have mad-sounding lyrics full of frustration and dementia: "Wipe that smile" is about death, fear of it and body decay while "Disgruntled ex-worker" is about a bloke who goes litterally crazy and wants to get revenge and go on the rampage.

Finally, we have Bomb Blast Men, possibly the most obscure band of the six. It was a post-Dumbstruck band from Nottingham but don't expect old-school hardcore from BBM as they play mean-sounding, direct metallic punk with rough, gruffy vocals that give the songs a crusty feel. I suppose it is not too far from Extinction of Mankind's side of the split with Misery, but with less darkness and more snot and cider, or like Policebastard's more metallic moments. These last three songs have the rawest sound on the comp and they are just perfect to close the record. The drum has this pummelling quality, the guitar is effortlessly dirty and aggressive and BBM's music has "Punk as fuck" written all over it. I remember seeing them in 2003 with Extinction of Mankind and some band from Norway in Leeds and they were pretty good but I always wondered if they were a "proper" band or more of a side-project. Wherever the answer might lie, they have actually reformed with a different line-up (different singer; to be noted that BBM's guitar player is also Bullet Ridden's) and released an Ep entitled "Who is the master here?" (also the name of one of the three songs) on Vex records. I do enjoy the Ep but I don't think it quite conveys the same energy and attitude as the songs on the compilation.


Friday 23 November 2012

Wartorn "Banzai" Ep 1994

No, not the current American crustcore band, the English hardcore one from glamorous Huddersfield active in the 1990's. The band had none other than Sore Throat's singer, Rich Militia, on guitar (he also does some vocals which inevitably brings to mind Sore Throat as he has a very recognizable voice), as well as Jim from Ironside and Hard to Swallow and a Dutch bloke who went on to play in Boycot. Actually there is even the following warning written on the A-side ring: "Repeated plays may result in cravings for chocomel + gouda, wearing clogs and living in a windmill!" and who doesn't like a punk band with a sense of humour (though this is to be expected from former Sore Throat people).

Sonically, Wartorn sit well with other English hardcore bands from that time when, to put it bluntly, quite a few of them were more influenced by US hardcore than by Discharge (I am thinking about the Voorhees, Stalingrad, Hard to Swallow, Ironside, and before them, late Ripcord and Heresy). In "Trapped in a scene", Rich Militia rates Wartorn as the best band he had ever played in by then and confesses that their main influences were Siege and Gauze. In fact, the very cover reflects this Japanese influence and there are a couple of - heavy - nods to GISM too. So you can expect twelve songs of short, fast and loud, hard-hitting hardcore-punk with a lot of twists in the songs and an almost obnoxious feel. This Ep was Wartorn's second record after their split with Nailbomb and it was released on Crust Records (I am not sure yet if this is a brilliant or a ridiculous name, but after all it can be both), a label that put out some remarkable records from bands like Apocalypse, Extreme Noise Terror, Disrupt or Dropdead throughout the years.

I wouldn't be surprised if Rich Militia was the one writing the lyrics as they share similarities with Sore Throat's, some of them being very serious and political but always from a non-conformist, critical anbd cynical point of view. And there are a couple of right laughs as well! My favourite lyrics on this are "Last among equals" and "Relapse to radicalism", songs criticizing the rhetorical stagnation of the punk scene and how righteous ideals can hide a desire for domination; "Conspiracy theory", a song that illustrates the madness and paranoia inherent in conspirationist circles; "Pledge of non-allegiance" is about saying "fuck off" to religion, nationalism and anyone who tries to control you; and "Remember Krondstadt" is a short one about Sovietic betrayal of anarchists. The last song on "Banzai", "Where's those ducks?" is a Sore Throat-type song which sees all the band - with the addition of Mark from Sarcasm/Wankys - quacking together after a 3 second long burst of noise...

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Revolt "Human abattoir" Ep 1996

The English North-East has spawned quite a few good hardcore bands throughout the year and today's record, with its Newcastle/Durham collaboration, is a prime example of that. Revolt were from Durham and the label, subtly named Smack in the Mouth records, was from Newcastle. It was actually run by a bloke who played in Shank, a Scottish powerviolence band, and also released the State of Filth/Slain and the Health Hazard/Sawn Off split Ep's.

Revolt might be the least-known band of the bunch though. "Human abattoir" is their only vinyl output though the legions of Terminal Sound Nuisance followers will remember that they had a track on the 1in12 cd compilation "Decade of Dissidence". They seem to have had a couple of line-up troubles as the line-up changed between the recording and the release of the Ep. From what I can gather, at different points of time Revolt included one member of Manfat and John Holmes (toward the end, on vocals), members of Offset and even one guy who played in dozens of bands, among which the Voorhees and Embittered. But anyway, this Ep reflects what Revolt sounded like before the big line-up change and if you are interested in what they would sound like after, I recommend checking out their song on the aforementioned compilation.

Revolt are often described as a grindcore band. However close to the grindcore genre they ended up sounding, this Ep is not an all-out grindcore record like you would expect from a mid-90's grind band. The main singer has a real hardcore feel and even the faster parts are more akin to the fastest brand of hardcore punk than to grindcore. This said, there are still a couple of nasty growls and dirty metallic parts that are typically grindy and the raw, almost fuzzy quality of the overall production brings Agathocles to mind. Grinding hardcore? A bit like a more hardcore Embittered or a more grinding Suffer. Whoever you want to compare Revolt to, it is obvious they were angry as the songs are really dark and aggressive. Unfortunately, the lyrics are not included, and apart from a few Carcass-oriented numbers, it is difficult to know what the singer is shouting about. Given the period, the genre and the aesthetics of the record, one could venture that they had misanthropic and angry lyrics about human abuse but that's mere guessing.

Visually, the record oscillates between hardcore and grindcore as well. If the hairy band logo is reminiscent of the grind beauty canons, the picture and the other fonts used scream "hardcore". Anyway, "Human abattoir" was made in a proud DIY fashion with a healthy "Fuck barcodes" sign on the backcover. There is also a flyer inside the record with two small texts from Andy Smack in the Mouth who explains his views about DIY and Punk. To him, it is no use complaining about DIY bands selling out because the scene is essentially transient and that we should focus on those bands who keep the DIY ethos. About Punk, it is an attitude, not a sound nor "the domain of angry adolescent males who can do a patented hardcore leap on command". That had me laughing!

A good record with the filthy sound we all love from a proper DIY band. What else?



Saturday 17 November 2012

Upheaval / Yan Tree split Ep 1989

Was playing bass guitar prohibited in Scarborough in the 80's? What if the absence of bass in Active Minds was not an accident but the result of a law against bass players? And were bands there forbidden to have more than two members?  What makes me wonder is that Upheaval, from Scarborough, didn't have a bass player and were a duo, just like Active Minds (I guess Satanic Malfunctions must have been acquainted with influential people on the Town Council since the rules didn't seem to apply to them).

Anyway, Upheaval were a dynamic duo from Scarborough who played tuneful political hardcore punk, not unlike Active Minds' melodic moments, Visions of Change or Cold Vietnam. In fact, if The Next World hadn't been a moody post-punk band and had played direct, fast and catchy punk-rock, they would have come pretty close to Upheaval as the singer can really sing and his voice has quite a wide range of tone as well. The absence of a bass section confers to the song a spontatenity, a freshness that is very pleasant. The sound is very decent although you will hear that the record hasn't aged too well and there are scratches here and there.

Upheaval have four songs on their side, though I should probably say three songs, since the track "Aye" is a two-second long burst of noise (a tuneful Sore Throat? Really?). The first song is called "Inject to kill" and it is an anti-drug song depicting the dangers of substance abuse. Upheaval may have been straight-edge or they may have lost someone close to drugs or Scarborough may have been badly hit by drug problems at the time, but either way I find their stance on the issue a bit too radical and even harsh as they don't really consider the social factors that lead precisely to using drugs. The next song, "Skooldaze", is more to my liking as it questions the education system and the brainwashing it implies. After all, school is the first social place where you are taught to listen and obey. Finally "The end" is a quiet and melancholy folk song, a bit like that Karma Sutra song really, about poverty, evictions and the greed and selfishness of the government.

On the other side is Yan Tree, a folk-punk one-man band (is it even a band then?) from Leeds (well he used to live there at the time). From what I understand, he was part of the blooming 80's squat scene in Leeds, a scene that gave birth to bands like Passion Killers and, of course, Chumbawamba. Listen to Yan Tree's music, you can definitely see that he was into Chumba, a band notorious for mixing genres in general and having a folk influence in particular. While I am extremely suspicious of modern folk-punk (I know you already know), I usually really enjoy acoustic anarchopunk songs from that time and place.

The former owner of this record must have adored Yan Tree's first song, especially its first half as it sounds like it has been played to death, hence a rather rough and crackling sound. Fortunately, the rest of the songs sounds alright. Unfortunately, there are a couple of scratches, so I did my best getting rid of them but the result isn't exactly stellar. But, that's punk, innit?

Yan Tree's first song is entitled "Ain't no" and it was actually written in 1982. It is structured around the repetition of the phrase "Ain't no" which serves as a sort of incantation and gives the song a poetic quality. The text could be divided into two parts, dystopia and utopia, from dark till dawn basically, as it paints shows a bleak, hopeless, lifeless picture of modern society before imagining a world free from oppressions. The second one, "Martyrdom called slavery", is more complex and more elaborate. It is written with a flux of consciousness point of view and is about political prisoners and their treatment, the Apartheid regime, violence and criminality. It may sound quite dark but it is really a song about peace and freedom and I find quite clever the parallel between the notions of martyrdom and slavery - don't we all sacrifice our lives like martyrs on the altar of Work?

The record's artwork is excellent too on both sides, Upheaval going for a collage of cartoons reflecting the schyzophrenia and superficiality of modern life. Yan Tree uses pagan, celtic imagery that would have looked just fine on a Sedition or Oi Polloi record for the lyrics and the ring, and his side of the cover is a Blinko-influenced graphic metaphor representing a door or a pathway.

Top notch!


Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Sect "The voice of reason" Lp 1987

In the punk world, love songs are generally frowned upon, unless they are ironic or disgusting. Indeed, we seem content with listening to young blokes shouting against war, vivisection, nuclear weapons, the pigs, the millitary, the system and so on, and while there is nothing wrong with that, sometimes I think we all need lighter, cheesier music to warm our tiny little hearts. Saying this is not a call for going emo and dying your hair black but an invitation to listen to a proper pop-punk gem: The Sect.

Pop-punk is a bit of a dirty word and for good reason as the term has been used callously to talk about such horrificallu horrendous horrors as Sum 41, Blink 182 and other gringo nonsense. However, if you really think about it, many early British bands could be called pop-punk bands as they took the energy of punk-rock and blended it with British pop-rock tunefulness. After all, what are the Buzzcocks if not a pop-punk band? Couldn't the term fit later bands like Leatherface and Snuff too? And Chumba? The Lost Cherrees? Naked? The Britpop influence is undeniable but we never think of them as "pop-punk" bands. The Sect are a band whose recorded outputs go from 1986 to 1992, but I think they kept playing or at least reformed as I have seen rather recent videos of them gigging in Japan (apparently they are quite litterally big in Japan!).

"The voice of reason" is their first Lp, recorded just after the excellent "A free England" Ep that contains one of the best punk song I have ever listened to (for real). The cover is probably one of the ugliest to ever adorn a punk record. I really don't know what went through their head but don't let the imagery get in the way of the beauty of The Sect's music. Let's say that the cover is as ugly as the music is incredibly catchy. The more melodic sides of the punk sound embodied in The Buzzcocks, The Stiffs, Cock Sparrer, Satan's Rats or Last Stand and Ulster bands like Victim, The Outcasts or Rudi are good points of comparison, but The Sect's singer has an even more nasal voice. It is a bit of a Marmite deal on that level because if you don't like his vocal style, you are going to think he sounds like Brian bloody Molko. However, if you are into this very British singing style, The Sect is your new favourite band. Apart the from disappointingly instrumental song that ends the record, every song is an absolute hit, filled with the loveliest tunes and the catchiest chorus you can imagine. Sonically, The Sect were influenced by the first wave of punk-rock and must have been a breath of fresh and perfumed air whereas their peers were busy going faster and faster and being as gruffy and scruffy as possible. Well, this may not be entirely true as you also had bands like Dan, Joyce McKinney Experience or Indian Dream, but as tuneful as these may have been, they had still grown from a hardcore-punk background, and were very far from The Sect's simple, anthemic, old-school punk-rock. Lyric-wise, the band was not afraid of singing about broken hearts, the wonders of love and being rockers (in love). Cheesy maybe, but don't we all need some cheesiness in our lives?

Sunday 11 November 2012

Designer Fear "Survivor" Ep 1990

It is still unclear who wrote the song "Two years too late". Was it Anti-Pasti or the Epileptics? Whoever wrote that song, one thing is certain: Designer Fear were a couple of years too late. They missed the second wave of British punk-rock by eight years and the metal-punk one by four, a discrepancy that may account for them vanishing into punk obscurity.

Designer Fear were an English band from the very late 80's/very early 90's, but apart from this, I know very little about them. This is their only record, released on the always reliable Looney Tunes records in 1990. That and apparently, two siblings played in the band together, Rebecca and Mike. And that's it really. Judging from the inclusion of Charlie Harper, Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys and Trench Fever on the thank-list, they could have been from London, but then they also thank a bloke from Ottawa and SNFU, so there might be a Canadian connection as well for all I know. Sonically, Designer Fear play a mix of UK82 punk-rock and early thrash-metal. This said, the sound is sufficiently raw - some would say weak - to make it lie firmly on the punkier side of things. Imagine a sloppier early Broken Bones or Picture Frame Seduction trying to play metal riffs or Aftermath during their first rehearsal, then add a healthy spoonful of British melodic hardcore like Depraved and voilà!

Designer Fear seemed to have been a rather political band and their lyrics are really good. "Banned from the UDC" is about the class divide in terms of accomodation and how fancy houses are always being built for the toffs while the poor have to deal with shabby housing; "Survivor" is a Mad Max tribute song about a bloke who manages to survive the nuclear apocalypse thanks to his fallout shelter and finds himself the sole survivor in the wasteland; "Cardboard city" is about homelessness and street survival tactics in the face of government neglect; finally "The enemy within" is an attack against sexism and racism within the punk scene and a statement that such behaviours should be fought.

The artwork is good-looking and the red spots - meant to represent drops of blood - are superimposed over the cover so you actually have the impression that somebody bled on your record (granted the blood doesn't look dark enough but I like the intent). On the whole, this is not a crucial record and the songs are definitely impaired by the recording budget, but it is honest, intelligent punk-rock nevertheless and should please lovers of the 80's British punk scene.

Designer Fear    

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Decadent Few "They shoot children..." Ep 199?

Sometimes, bands are remembered for a particular guitar sound or for a specific drumming pattern (you know what I mean). But Decadent Few will be remembered for the quality and the uniqueness of the vocals (assuming they will be remembered at all!). My obsession for British anarchopunk has been paralleled by a certain fondness for female-fronted punk bands, which makes sense when one considers the large number of anarcho bands that had one or several female vocalists. In fact, I cannot really think of another punk genre with such a strong female presence (except the Riot Grrrls movement obviously). You could find a whole range of vocal styles among the singers as well, from high-pitched rather tuneless screams (Dirt, Honey Bane), tuneful poppy voices (Hagar the Womb, Lost Cherrees), haunting dirges (Hysteria, The Dead), to angry shouts (Sacrilege, Potential Threat). But Decadent Few's singer, Kay, may have had the most unique voice of all.

First, she can actually sing. She is really a great singer. The comparison might not be totally relevant since the vocal styles are not the same, but Decadent Few is the same kind of band as APPLE: tuneful punk-rock with a lot of personality, driven by powerful vocals. Decadent Few started in 1984 after Youth In Asia disbanded. While Youth In Asia didn't record much during their time, Decadent Few went on to record an Lp in 1991, two tape albums in 1987 and 1988, and of course, this Ep. I cannot be sure when this was released and recorded, but I am under the impression that it could have been recorded in the late 80's (the songs are from two different recording sessions) then released in the early 90's. The fact that the two labels responsible for the Ep, Fluffy Bunny and Inflammable Materials, were active in the early/mid 90's tends to confirm this hypothesis (Mick from Inflammable Materials also played in Decadent Few and Youth In Asia).

If Decadent Few can be seen as the follow-up of Youth In Asia, were it not for Kay's voice, the two bands would probably not be put in the same esthetic bag. Youth In Asia was a bouncy punk-rock affair whereas Decadent Few has a darker, more haunting style reminiscent of post-punk bands. "They shoot children, don't they?" is a catchy, mid-paced song not dissimilar to Paralisis Permanente, with a Siouxsie-like chorus, only with much lower, deeper vocals. On the other side, "Heaven to hell", the real hit of the record, blends Killing Joke/early Amebix drumming with Smartpils' creepiness and Rubella Ballet's power into a song that is dark and moving and yet very lively and energetic. The lyrics are very serious, "They shoot children" deals with the situation in Belfast and the military occupation. It is a story told from the point of view of a young girl whose sister was shot by British soldiers with their supposedly "non-lethal" plastic bullets. "Heaven to hell" is a rape story, a tale of gender violence, the kind that takes place everyday, everywhere. Heavy topics but you can feel the words come from the heart and when it comes to punk-rock, that's all that matters.

The artwork relevantly reflects the two undercurrents flowing through the band: the front cover wouldn't be out of place in a goth-rock record store, while the inside cover is a sloppy punk-as-fuck drawing that any fan of Chaos UK would hang above his bed and the back-cover is a picture of war planes. I recently read that Decadent Few were pretty much back again and that they were in the process of re-recording some songs. That is great news indeed and I think that, given the strength of all their materials, they should really make some sort of discography cd.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, post-punk - but goth-punk might be more correct - is back in style and there are a couple of worthy female-fronted bands tackling the genre like Belgrado, Dekoder or Moral Hex. I have lit several candles in hope that one of them might cover a Decadent Few song one day but no avail so far. C'est la vie...

Sunday 4 November 2012

Blyth Power "Out from under the king" cd 1996

Just a quick word about the blog before we start. The suspension of my mediafire account has not dispirited me at all, and I have switched to another server. I have spent the last 24 hours re-uploading all the files so technically, everything is back in order.

Folk-punk is one of these subgenres that makes me extremely wary and suspicious whenever it is mentioned in a conversation. In recent years, bands describing themselves as folk-punk were nothing short of horrendous to my ears: cheesy music about as threatening as an organic cucumber, very little anger and far too much joy of living, lyrics about how awesome and subversive cycling is, how great it is to have friends and making bloody vegan cookies for your friends. I don't dislike folk music, I definitely love punk-rock and I could eat cookies all day long, but when European bands start to fake American accents in order to play "folk-punk", you just know that something has gone terribly wrong. Anyway, Blyth Power are sometimes refered to as a folk-punk band, and if you take the term in its strictest sense, it is actually true. But please, leave Against Me and Defiance Ohio out of any Blyth Power-related conversations.

To be honest, I think Blyth Power is my favourite Joseph Porter's band. I love Zounds and the Mob and Null and Void are pretty good too but I would argue Blyth Power is the most special, the catchiest and to their great credit they survived the 80's, the 90's, the 00's and are still putting out records. "Out from under the king" was released in 1996 on German label Blue Bowl and oddly enough not on the band's own label, Downwarde Spiral Records. While "Paradise razed" is, to the band's own admission, a rather disappointing record, "Out from under the king" might be their best one, and I don't say this lightly, considering how magical "Wicked women" or "Alnwick & Tyne" are.

On this album, the keyboard is much more present - and let's face it, the addition of piano sounds on a punk record is always a challenge - but it never distracts the listener. On the contrary, it enhances the songs' tunefulness and dynamism, the keyboard just blending effortlessly with the other instruments. The production is absolutely flawless, very clear but not overproduced, miles away from the stifled sound of "Paradise razed". That Blyth Power were able to release such a brilliant work at a time when the band's popularity had declined is impressive in itself. How many 80's bands were that good in the mid-late 90's?

In terms of influences, the band basically improved on their old formula and the great sound serves that purpose perfectly. The songs bounce between catchy UK punk-rock and traditional folk-music and the song-writing is stronger than ever. Even the long and mournful ballad songs like "Katherine's will", with its pipe organ melody, and "Battle of nations" are winners. The cd's artwork is also probably the most original the band has ever done. It consists of pictures of little clay (or is it plasticine?) characters with tiny swords engaging in medieval battles. The sculptures look aptly grotesque and twisted and reflect well the band's surreal atmosphere of slight dementia.

The lyrics are typical Blyth Power's tales about History. "God's orders" is about the Crusaders; "Lord Clay Cross" is a song of love, loss and betrayal; "Westminster and Wandsworth" is a protest song using metaphors to denounce the Poll Tax and the constant war on the poor; "Emma" is a funny unreciprocated love song; "Katherine's will" is a gross description of the last days of a king from the point of view of his bitter queen; "Lambert Simnel" tells the story of a lord's bastard who tried to seize power but miserably failed; "Owen's tail"'s meaning evades me but I'd say it is a song about a bad, brutish sod named Owen who demands that his "heroics" be sung; "Father O'Brien" is a new version of an older song that appears on "Pont au-dessus de la Brue"; "Swing" is a parodical execution song in which the man about to be hung is a despotic lord; "Battle of nations" is a bitter song about war and the lack of opposition to it; finally, "The holly and the ivy" is a witty text that stresses the absurdity of religious teaching and praying.

Now, put some Blyth Power in your life, will you?

Saturday 3 November 2012

Mediafire took my baby away...

I can't really say I haven't been warned by other bloggers, but Mediafire decided that enough was enough and suspended my account. All the links are therefore dead for now.

I am currently reuploading some files but it might take time until Terminal Sound Nuisance gets back on its feet.

Friday 2 November 2012

Blyth Power "Better to bat" 12'' 1989

As the cover will tell you, Blyth Power love cricket. In fact, they love it so much that they organize a yearly festival called the Blyth Power Ashes, where you can witness a live performance of the band and take part in a cricket match. Now, I am hardly a cricket expert as I don't even know the rules but the perspective of such a pleasant time could convince me to learn to bat.

"Better to bat" was the last record Blyth Power did for Midnight Music before the band created their own label, Downwarde Spiral Records. At the time of the recording, they had recruited a new female vocalist who happened to be one of Dan's singers. This is pretty much vintage late 80's Blyth Power, with epic and dramatic songs that will have you sing along in taverns of yore. There was also the participation of none other than Attila the Stockbroker. There is some keyboards and violin thrown in the mix as well and the songs are a bit slower and even more medieveval-sounding if that makes in the sense. Listening to them, I picture Blyth Power as a band of jesters, minstrels, some sort of postmodern trickster figures.

"Better to bat" is a song taking place in a justice court that has a man condemned to death because he won't say a word; "When a knight won his spurs" is an interpretation of a traditional song about the disappearance of knights and dragons and ogres, well this kind of things, and how evil creatures were metaphors for the evils of this world; finally, "The execution song" is a long song about the execution (captain obvious!) of a young man under communist rule. The song is quite moving as he is shot by the firing squad, he realizes that the rifles, the bullets and everything pertaining to his death have been made by his fellow workers and himself. A romantic revolutionary song.