Tag Archives: Punk

Metz – Metz (2012)

Metz - Metz (2012)

What’s Canadian and noisy?

Metz!

This debut album from Toronto noise-rockers is just great. Straight up great.

Each track is a short sharp shock to the system, of brutally noisey punk rock, with thundering drums. It’s unrelenting and it reminds me of early grunge. Despite the inherent looseness of noise rock, Metz are incredibly tight; an almost contradiction, like how the most talented can make the most impressive task seem pedestrian. That is the beauty of Metz.

Without sounding like a cheap rip off, Metz manage to suck in all the forerunners to what they are doing, Black Flag, Melvins, Nirvana, Big Black, and the like; taking them in, mixing them up like an industrial washing machine and spitting them back out.

I love it, it is a pure acerbic assault to your face.

Favourite tracks: Wet Blanket, Wasted,
Spotify link: Metz – METZ
Sneak peak: 

Advertisements

The Men – New Moon (2013)

The Men - New Moon (2013)

The Men are nominally a punk band from Brooklyn.

There seems to be an unusual evolution in the punk music that The Men present. In the same way that marsupials in the  evolved to fill the same niches with the same solutions as placental mammals did elsewhere. In this context, I feel as if The Men’s brand of punk evolved convergently from something other than rock music, perhaps even folk; certainly something more rootsy.

It is a measure of how good a band is, if they can evoke other bands while not sounding like some bad facsimile. And The Men, to me, evoke American roots-influenced grunge bands, such as country-punk proto-grungers Meat Puppets, but also, with a certain element of noisey guitars and an important dynamic between load and soft, seminal band The Pixies. Sometimes, this is turned completely on its head and they have a Ramones air to them.

Overall, I think this is a great album and one I am glad to hear. It is punk, but not necessarily as you might have expected, it’s catchy as hell and a real treat to hear.

Favourite tracks: Most of the album, to be honest!

Spotify link: The Men – New Moon
Sneak peak: 

Kvelertak – Meir (2013)

Kvelertak - Meir (2013)

Kvelertak are a Norwegian band who are part hardcore punk, part alt-rock, part black metal and 100% awesome. Kvelertak (Norwegian for “strangle hold”) formed in 2007, releasing their eponymous debut in 2010.

It is really hard to pin down a definitive sound to Meir (Norwegian for “More”), but while retaining a brutal heavy metal sound, they maintain a high energy, punky upbeat attitude. Vocals are more or less screamed in what seems to be a major black metal influence, while hardcore punk informs the music, with some diversions and a knack for a catchy hook, but ultimately heavy.

A fantastic album with a great sense of fun (just watch the video below).

Favourite tracks: Bruane Brenn, Evig Vandrar, Kvelertak

Spotify link: Kvelertak – Meir
Sneak peak: 

Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausage (2013)

Melvins - Everyone Loves Sausage (2013)

Well, I’m not going to lie to you, I love (the) Melvins; seminal grunge pioneers, friends of Nirvana, friends with Mike Patton, experimental rock legends, and bloody nice guys to boot. I’ve seen them a couple of times, including once performing a live soundtrack to three short films by Cameron Jamie after which we got to say hi to Buzz.

You never know what to expect with (the) Melvins, from their sludgey doomy early work on Gluey Porch Treatments (1987), laying part of the foundations for grunge, Houdini (1993), and   onward to experimental weirdness on The Maggot (1999) and The Bootlicker (1999), to collaborative efforts, even throwing in some country with Hank Williams III on The Crybaby (2000); joining forces with Jello Biafra for some more punky stuff on Never Breathe What You Can’t See (2004) and Sieg Howdy! (2005), or with Lustmord for some avant noise on Pigs Of The Roman Empire (2004). More recently changing line-up to join forces with stoner/sludge band Big Business, incorporating two drummers for an amazing and massive rocking sound.

So, when they announced a covers album, I wasn’t the least bit surprised, but I was excited! (The) Melvins have a list of influences as long as your arm, and I was interested to hear what made them tick.

To start with, the line up here is a bit of a hodgepodge. King Buzzo (Buzz Osbourne; guitars and vocals) and Dale Crover (drums) form the core of (the) Melvins, while Jared Warren (bass and vocals) and Coady Willis (drums) are the Big Business contingent. Another side to (the) Melvins is Melvins Lite, a touring band consisting of Buzz, Crover and including Mr Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Fantomas (which includes Buzz on guitar), and now Tomahawk (which he joined after Kevin Rutmanis, who used to be in (the) Melvins, left) bassist . Here, most of the tracks are (the) Melvins, and a few are Melvins Lite, as well having a slew of guest appearances.

Opener, Venom’s Warhead is brutal chugging metal, featuring Neurosis’s Scott Kelly on vocals, not straying massively from the original, slightly rounder sound and not as noisy. Next up, Tweak Bird’s Caleb Benjamin takes the vocal role on Queen’s Best Friend, starting with a Casio-keyboard styled intro, sounding not much like either band (though, not surprisingly); things get a bit more psychedelic in the middle section. They really sound like they had fun making this one.

Next up is a great Melvins-esque (if any part of their sound could be described as a definitive sound for them) version of Ram-Jam’s Black Betty; this one is fantastic. Post-punk pioneers, The Scientists are next with Set It On Fire, with Mudhoney’s vocalist/guitarist and grunge pioneer Mark Arm joins on vocals.

Following that, experimental/industrial legend J.G. Thirwell (AKA Clint Ruin, Foetus, Steroid Maximus) joins the fray. Thirwell had already joined forces with (the) Melvins on The Crybaby, where they performed Foetus’s Mine Is No Disgrace, possibly one of my favourite tracks on that album. Here they perform David Bowie’s Station To Station in a typically epic claustrophobic noisy manner. Blondie drummer Clem “Elvis Ramone” Burke takes over drumming duties on the Kinks’s Attitude, giving a rousing punky rendition that is worthy of the classic British band.

Female Trouble was originally by Divine, actor, singer and drag artist, and is the first to include Trevor Dunn on double bass. I’d never heard of Divine prior to this, to be honest, but the original track is a theatrical disco-bluesy lament, and is given a great treatment by (the) Melvins, who emphasise the bluesy elements to give one of the stand-out performances of the album.

Pyschedelic rockers, The Fugs’s Carpe Diem is next; another great rendition, as the style changes from Beach Boys-style harmonies to crunching guitar at the blink of an eye. Early American punkers, Pop-O-Pies’s Timothy Leary Lives is next. Pop-O-Pies are a notable inclusion, as former members of the band include Trey Spruance and Danny Heifetz, both of Mr Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3, which must be unusual for former bandmate Dunn, playing bass and singing on this one.

I must admit, when I saw the next track, In Every Dream Home A Heartache, I beamed. Roxy Music’s ode to an inflatable sex doll is one of my favourite tracks by them, and one that has also been covered live in a great version by Tomahawk. This version brings former Melvins’/former Tomahawk’s Kevin Rutmanis in on bass, and Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra on vocals. The original is a pretty left-field psychedelic outing anyway, even for the early-era art-rockers; I mean, you try and convince people that this is the same Bryan Ferry who performed Slave To Love. Melvins’ take on it is just spot on, dark and unsettling in the first half and noisy and rocky in the second half.

Next is Romance by Tales of Terror, a hardcore punk band cited by both Kurt Cobain and Mark Arm as influences. The sound is more reined in than the original and twisted into a more psychedelic ball. This is followed by The Jam’s Art School, with a decidedly oi! sound rather than the new wave punk style of the original. Vocals and guitar are courtesy of Tom Hazelmyer, founder of Amphetimine Reptile Records, renowned for bands, such as (the) Melvins, Cows (Kevin Rutmanis again!), Helmet (whose drummer John Stanier is in Tomahawk), etc.

And finally, Buzz takes on Throbbing Gristle’s Heathen Earth, condensing an album’s worth of experimental industrial weirdness into one 4-minute outing; and not doing a bad job of capturing the essence of it, to be honest.

Overall, a fabulous album; and just as I expected, totally unexpected. Not necessarily a great intro to the band if you’ve never heard them before, due to the multiple styles and line ups involved, but it might be interesting if you know the originals to see others’ interpretations of them. Everybody Loves Sausages is in no way cynical, you can tell that this is genuinely a band putting forward tracks and say “look, this is what we listened to and we want to share it with you”.

Favourite tracks: Black Betty, Female Trouble, Art School

Spotify link: Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausages
Sneak peak: 

Rachid Taha – Zoom (2013)

Rachid Taha - Zoom (2013)

Rachid Taha is an Algerian singer based in France, who was at the forefront of the Rai n’ Roll movement in Algeria (Rai being a popular music in Algeria), heavily influenced by The Clash. He has been active since the 80s and this is his ninth solo album.

And it is an eclectic album to say the least!

Singing in French, genres covered include Gainsbourgeon Chanson (Wesh (N’amal) and  Zoom Sur Oum). Zoom Sur Oum (again), Jamila and Voila Voila are more electronically focused, reminiscent of David Bowie’s flirtations with electronic music, which seemed to miss the intended mark, but in doing so, invented something wholly new and exciting. The first is a tribute to Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum, sampling her voice for the track and singing a narrative style like Gainsbourg, while the Persian-style music sounds like Secret Chiefs 3, while Jamila is a more dubby number and Voila Voila is a little bit of an industrial-tinged remake of his own anti-racist anthem from 1993, here featuring Brian Eno and Eric Cantona (I kid you not).

It’s Now Or Never is a cover in English and Arabic of Presley’s version of the Neopolitan O Sole Mia, sang as a duet with Jeanna Added, a French singer and cellist. Presley is namechecked alongside Kurt Cobain and punk rock on rockabilly track, Les Artistes; this wearing of influences rather squarely on his chest is a feature of the album, as he goes on to explore the late British 70s on a couple of tracks which evoke The Clash: Fakir, a more punky track, and Algerian Tango, a more ska-infused track, which actually features The Clash’s Mick Jones. Finally Country is touched upon as well on tracks, Ana and Galbi.

It is testament to Taha’s talent and confidence that despite the input of these Western genres and sounds, this album is grounded in his Algerian heritage, with guitar and lute interacting beautifully. A totally eclectic mix of genres, pinned by an overwhelming sense of enjoyment and fun; Taha sounds like he is loving every minute, and I’m right there with him!

Favourite tracks: Wesh (N’amal), Jamila, Algerian Tango, Fakir, Voila Voila, Zoom Sur Oum

Spotify link: Rachid Taha – Zoom
Sneak peak: 

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People and the Damage Done (2013)

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - White People and the Damage Done (2013)

Jello Biafra is well-known as the vitriolic singer of the Dead Kennedys, as well as numerous other projects, including working with Nomeansno, the Melvins, DOA, Steel Pole Bathtub, Lard and 1000 Homo DJs (the latter two with Al Jourgensen of Ministry). This is the second album by his latest band, the Guantanamo School Of Medicine. Drummer Paul Della Pelle (Helios Creed, Creed-era Chrome) comes in to replace Jon Weiss, and Weiss’s brother Andrew (who has worked with Ween, Butthole Surfers, Pigface and Moistboyz, among others) has come in to replace Billy Gould, in light of the Faith No More reunion.

If you had ever listened to Biafra’s previous work, you have a fairly good understanding of what to expect from the Guantanamo School Of Medicine. The music is actually surprisingly like Dead Kennedys, not just your standard three-chord aggression-fest, but instead more bouncy surf-influenced punk, with Biafra’s sardonic wit dripping off every single syllable as he takes on the bankers (Werewolves Of Wall Street), religion (Crapture), and just about everything in the mundanity of modern life (Road Rage).

Yeah, that’s not much new but Jello is still angry, still mocking and still a lot of fun to listen to.

Favourite tracks: Mid-East Peace Process, Shock-U-Py!, Werewolves Of Wall Street

Spotify link: Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – White People and the Damage Done
Sneak peak: 

Pissed Jeans – Honey (2013)

Pissed Jeans - Honey (2013)


Pissed Jeans are a punk band from Pennsylvania. They wear their influences prominently and throughout the entire album, I am constantly reminded of three bands; Black Flag, Nirvana and the Melvins. High praise indeed.

For instance, the intro to Health Plan could almost be the intro to Nirvana’s Breed from Nevermind (1991), while You’re Different (In Person) could be a track off Bleach (1989). Such is the brutal heavy guitars and driving drums and vocals, that it is entirely appropriate to label them as sludgy, grungy metal. Chain Worker is so early Melvins-esque; and other tracks off Honey sound like Black Flag’s classic diversion into sludge/doom My War (1984).

I’m so glad that people are still making music that sounds like this; and while some might call it anachronistic, I prefer to call it classic, and I have absolutely loved this album from the very first play.

Favourite tracks: Chain Worker, You’re Different (In Person), Male Gaze

Spotify link: Pissed Jeans – Honeys
Sneak peak: