Fixin' To Die 5: a punk and trash column
And so we emerge, blinking in the sunlight.
It must be two years since we did one of these. Punk isn't dead, it just takes a little longer to get started in the morning - with the result a few albums have been kicking about in the office for a wee while, and they're starting to get a little agitated. And what it is we do here? A quick nose at stuff unafraid to be labelled. Bands with a bit of spunk and life, although nothing overtly noisy. If you get off on grindcore or metallic hardcore, we point you in the direction of our monthly column Dark Hemyspheres.
Steve Ignorant, he of long-time CRASS infamy, teams up with Dublin's Paranoid Visions for When? (Overground Records), delivering his unmistakable barrow boy bark with what turns out to be some pretty toe-tapping, if old-fashioned, punkery. Any fears that When? would sound dated are soon overcome, although the blunt lyrics ("When will we deny, defy! The corruption of the state!") will take many listeners right back to the early 1980s. They even find space for an acoustic number, 'Log On ... Bog Off', that could almost pass the 'lighters in the air' test. Mixing up the male and female voices helps add to the variety, but there are enough catchy riffs to maintain interest anyway. Although it can seem a little like a missive from another era, given the lack of any real political dialogue in alternative music, this is a genuinely worthwhile effort.
Rudimentary Peni were contemporaries of CRASS, working pretty consistently until an illness-enforced break in the late 80s. Reconstituted in the middle of the next decade, Outer Himalayan/Southern Records have been re-issuing some of the band's material, including 2004's Archaic. Truth told, by this point RP had d/evolved into a pretty one-dimensional outfit, content to recycle scuzzy, circular riffs, with guitarist/vocalist Nick Blinko squawking out his words like a pantomime crone. RP have a lot of cred Stateside especially, but on the evidence of Archaic, it's hard to understand why.
Southern are also continuing their Poison Idea catalogue revamp and have reached 1986's Kings of Punk, stuffing the 2CD package with a bunch of period live tracks to the point where it almost resembles the band's legendary waistlines. The eleven numbers that make up the original running order still sound pretty boss; their mix of post-Discharge thrash and homeland hardcore has certainly aged better than some of the punk that inspired them in the first place.
Not completely sure what's going on with the 'king of hellbilly', Hank3. Not content with putting out a double album of country stuff, Brothers of the 4x4, he's decided to put out a punk album, A Fiendish Threat (Hank3 Records) on the same day. Trading under the banner of 3, Mr 3 sticks to a pretty static cowboy punk format, the over-driven vocals get old real fast, and while he's supposedly tipping the nod to the likes of The Misfits and Minor Threat on this project, I don't remember them doing tracks of five or six minutes in length. So while you get the sense Hank3/3 might put on a sweat and phlegm-splattered live show (although they apparently sometimes last for three hours!) this just couldn't keep my attention.
One of the great pleasures of writing a folly such as this, is that you get to decide what the remit is. So, while Colour Me Wednesday don't look or sound like a punk band, by dint of spirit and operation, they meet our criteria splendidly. Behind the perky indie pop of I Thought It Was Morning lies a fiesty DIY spirit, fuelled by Riot Grrrl sensibilities and old school indie ethics. 'Purge Your Inner Tory' tells you all you need to know about where the London four piece are coming from, but CMW never hector or forget about delivering breezy tunes that sound equally fine via the Dansette in the attic or in the car on the way to the latest anti-cuts demo.
Exeter's Muncie Girls deliver four new numbers with the Sleepless EP (Specialist Subject/Yo-Yo Records) and it sees them further develop their keen way with wistful, yet upbeat tempo-wise, indie punk. Sure, they don't particularly re-invent the wheel but even within the confines of their chosen remit they find their own voice and, when everyone is singing the praises of Swearin', it's a little disappointing more notice isn't being paid to better bands we have on our own doorsteps.
If you ever had fantasies about the sweet love indie and emo might make together then Liverpool's Voo are here to tousle your hair and make you feel good about life. Their 2011 album, Songs We Used To Dance To, has had a swanky re-issue courtesy Rekordmeister, and it's a chance to reacquaint yourself with their brand of genuinely melodic, intricate work that will more than fill the hole left in your heart by Jimmy Eat World's recent efforts. It's hard to pick a favourite track but half-way through the instrumental 'Schnik Schnak Schnuk', it just lifts off into this glorious thing that gets us all a-flutter. They have no business being in a column like this of course, so do Voo a favour by checking them out and rescuing them from such inglorious coverage. Top effort.