Reviews

Ben Marshall

The Adicts The Sound of Music LP reissue

The clown princes of clockwork punx are back…in reissue form! For the longest time, I actively avoided engaging with any of these droogy bands for the simple reason that the fans got on my tits to an almost cosmic degree—crystalised by one legendarily punishing pisshead at a COCK SPARRER show in Leeds, replete with plastic bowler hat and jockstrap. I, quite naturally, assumed it was annoying joke music for dickheads. Was I wrong in that assumption? To a certain extent, yes. While there is space for some joke music on The Sound of Music with a paean to Chinese takeaways, it’s an enjoyable camp romp through the poppier side of UK82, like the BLOOD and PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES had a scrap in a circus tent.

Newtown Neurotics Kick Out! LP

In the years immediately following World War II, Clement Attlee’s Labour government passed the New Towns Act 1946. It was emblematic of the Attlee ministry, typified by a series of post-war rebuilding projects including the establishment of the welfare state and the nationalisation of large swathes of industry. One of these post-war “new towns” was Harlow, home of the NEWTOWN NEUROTICS. It’s perhaps the perfect place for a band like them to be from; a living monument to the last great socialist government projects, now left to rot by a Thatcherite systematic dismantling of society. This compilation contains NEWTOWN NEUROTICS’ first six singles, and tracks their movement from bop-along ’77 acolytes to the nakedly political polemicists they became. Steve Drewett’s BILLY BRAGG-esque syllabic contortions are the perfect vehicle for his three-minute manifestos railing against the injustices of the increasingly fascist society in which he found himself. Stand out tracks like “Kick Out The Tories” and “Fools” still remain sadly relevant and resonant, but it’s the version of “Mindless Violence / Andy Is a Corporatist” with ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER from the Son of Oi! comp which stays with you. The follies of being a far-right skin, and one perhaps for all the silly boys at the shows wearing their naughty merch thinking they’re a big man. An utterly vital record.

Bullshit Detectör Bullshit cassette EP

A total lack of any frills, bells or whistles from these Texan Oi! types on this three track EP. Stripped back to the literal bare essentials, and then some more, BULLSHIT DETECTÖR takes an incredibly minimalist approach to their songwriting, clearly seeing anything more than three chords and shouting as petit bourgeois decadence; a viewpoint to which I have some sympathy. Larynx-lacerating vocals put me in mind of that CRIMINAL tape from a couple of years ago, and at fewer than seven minutes in length it doesn’t stick about long enough to get tiresome. That said though, if anyone can prove that any of the three songs included on this EP are different from each other in any demonstrable way, they’ve earned my respect and a firm handshake from yours truly because I certainly can’t tell the difference between any of them.

Barry Rolfe Look the Business / Molly Molly 7″

Tough-as-yer-like hobnail boot glam rock stomper from Baz on the A side here; I have a real fondness for this type of proto-punk bovver boy throwaway rubbish from this era, all pomp and bluster and latent menace. A paean to being a top dresser from a time when any kicking you’d receive on the terraces was likely to be administered by someone with a feather cut and bellbottoms. Scuzzy, mean and very silly. The B-side is a slightly different tempo, a slinky and saucy number replete with slide guitar, to suit the lyrical content; the joys of getting your leg over.

Nabat 1981 Laida Bologna Demo LP

This is the real stuff. At a time when a significant strain of European Oi! is milquetoast panto shite made by scruffy chancers in trainers, it’s nice to be reminded of what made it so exhilarating. This recently-rediscovered demo from 1981 represents some of the earliest recordings of the legendary Italian band and it’s truly great. It’s NABAT at their rawest, route one, kick-you-in-the-bollocks punk. Short, sharp and to the point like a jab to the kidneys; it’s the scuzzy and antisocial Oi! we all have come to love, all while they are seemingly having a complete laugh with their mates while doing so. A belter.

The Clinch Basecamp LP

Melbourne streetpunk/Oi! types the CLINCH return with an album full of pint-spilling, get-yer-mate-in-a-headlock-at-last-orders anthems which completely took me by surprise. It has all the hallmarks of a classic album of the genre replete with full-throated gang vocal choruses and soaring no-nonsense riffs that touch upon ROSE TATTOO or COLOURED BALLS at their rock’n’rolliest in parts. So far, so streetpunk. However beneath this beer-battered exterior lay some unexpectedly nuanced and thoughtful lyrics, far far beyond the usual fare for your garden variety streetpunk. Stand out track “Basecamp” has a chorus that is so catchy I’ll end up humming it for years to come. Well worth a spin, good on ya lads.

Force Majeure Encore Debout EP

More brickwall francophone Oi! from LAST CRUSADE and ULTRA RAZZIA alumni, this latest FORCE MAJEURE offering continues their celebratory blend of the classic French Oi! sound with TEMPLARS-style good time skinhead rock’n’roll. Stripped back of frills like a cutdown Lambretta, it still provides all the fun of the fair that one would come to expect. Fans of REICH ORGASM and NABAT will have a lot to enjoy here, as I did.

Off the Clock For You 12″

Another release from the fertile and verdant Vic City Skins mob, and with members who’ve done time with big hitters such as NO HEART and LAST CRUSADE among its ranks, there’s little surprise that OFF THE CLOCK deliver some classic hard-as-nails Oi! with hardcore influences that packs a steel toe cap kick to the knackers. Vocals are as rough as a badger’s arse, but just about stay on the right side of tolerability, and the riffs are as no-nonsense as they come. Music to have a pint spilled on you to.

Zone Infinie Dégats EP

Saint-Étienne-based rock urbain outfit ZONE INFINIE is back with a new EP of soaring melodic streetpunk. Like their contemporaries SYNDROME 81 and LITOVSK, their post-punk flourishes temper the gruffness one normally associates with the scruffy bastards in streetpunk, and these nuances only help to add some light and shade to the proceedings. It’s a pleasantly mixed bag, especially for a genre that can lend itself to one-notedness too, with cacophonous drums and spartan guitarlines accompanying the more recognisably streetpunky vocals too. Worth a go.

Denim Ski Mask Justice EP

Wallop! This demo from a duo of Austrian recalcitrants ticks a lot of boxes for me—namely, it’s short, sharp and almost entirely lacks any fucking about whatsoever. Raw enough to cause salmonella, this is hard-as-nails Oi! stripped back to its component parts. Full of menace and the threat of aggro kicking off at any point, barely concealed within three songs that say all they need to in fewer than two minutes. Listen to this! You have been warned.

Lion’s Law The Pain, The Blood, and The Sword LP

The latest full-length from Parisien Oi! stalwarts LION’S LAW; the venerable Wattie at the helm as is de rigueur for most contemporary French skinhead bands worth their sel, and backed by a motley crew of skins and punks they serve up a thoroughly modern take on Oi! Dabbling as much in E-TOWN CONCRETE style hardcore as it does KOMINTERN SECT style oi! traditionnel, it’s varied enough to stop it being one note as so many releases can be these days. Vocals in both English and French are reminiscent of MOTÖRHEAD in parts, a suitably gruff accompaniment to the rugged riffs ’n’ rhythm underpinning the whole thing. Decent stuff.

The Young Ones Cream of the Crop LP

Alas, not a posthumous release from Rik Mayall (more’s the pity!), this is instead a Dutch outfit seemingly attempting to revive the “glory days” of Oi and breathe life into the sort of dated shite beloved of the haunted ghouls still going to Rebellion Festival in 2020. It sounds like bad COCKNEY REJECTS karaoke, retreading some already very well-trodden tracks. Hoxton Tom didn’t wear trainers mate.

Fuerza Bruta Verdugo CD reissue

I don’t know about you lot, but I, for one, am sick to bastard death of this trend of anaemic pop punk dressed in a cheapo relco button-down, creases from the packet still visible, being passed off as skinhead music just because the lyrics mention “the pub.” Thankfully, there are bands like FUERZA BRUTA kicking the teeth out of establishment with their unique blend of back to basics hardcore-tinged (proper) Oi. Blunt-force riffs, furious vocals, all underwritten by a rhythm section as tight as properly-laced derby boot. Vital stuff.

Savage Beat Trench Warfare EP reissue

The Deadly Dutchmen SAVAGE BEAT are back with a reissue (including two added tracks) of their debut 12” of extremely fun bootboy rock’n’roll. Reminiscent in parts of ROSE TATTOO or turbo-charged SLADE, all with a glam stomp running through the middle of this record like a stick of Blackpool rock. Daft yobbo music for people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Bromure / Squelette Aux Bon Amis split EP

Two of the finest contemporary Oi! bands from la Ville Lumière join forces for this split EP. There’s some real firepower behind these two, consisting of various members of the formidable Bastille Skinhead Crew as well as RIXE, LIONS LAW and MARABOOTS between them. SQUELETTE’s side presents a more rough ’n’ ready approach to Oi!, with fists-in-the-air gang vocals and pleasantly lumpen riffs; whereas as soon as BROMURE’s tracks start we get the reassuringly gallic saxophone lick, and are treated to some fine Oi! in the vein of CAMERA SILENS or WARRIOR KIDS. Great stuff.

The Elite Reason for My Sin EP

Debut outing from this new Buffalo trio, which starts promisingly with a BLITZ-esque riff but soon devolves into some bog-standard Oi!-tinged hardcore. It does whip along at a rate of some knots and there’s enough of a germ at the centre to suggest they might do something decent in the future. Fans of the BRASS and NO TIME may find something to like in this short EP, but sadly likely to be the last time I think about it.

Faz Waltz Rebel Kicks LP

I don’t know what’s in the water in Italy, but they’ve been responsible for some of the finest cuts of pure bovver glam in the vein of peak-era SWEET (R.I.P. Steve Priest) or T. REX in recent memory. Like fellow compatriots GIUDA, FAZ WALTZ are of the particular school of thought that music peaked in about 1974, clearly worship at the altar of His Sainted Majesty Noddy Holder, and wholeheartedly believe that too much thinking gets in the way of having a good time; and this could not be more evident in their latest effort. Eleven tracks of defiant, hip-swingin’, foot-stompin’ glitter boogie aimed squarely at your pleasure centres. Do yourself a favour, put on your best clobber, switch off your brain and have a good old mirror strut for the next half hour or so. You won’t regret it.

Lebel Passe à l’Assaut! EP

FrancOi!phone rage from Montreal. Rough and raw, but with skeletal basslines that don’t sound dissimilar to the spartan noise of Lille’s TRAITRE or Brest’s SYNDROME 81 in parts. Short and to the point, like a proper haircut, and at under a tight ten minutes it doesn’t outlast its welcome either. Just the right side of unpolished, too. Worth your time.

Rough Cuts Nobody’s Fool LP

Sadly, not the latter-era SLADE ripper, Nobody’s Fool is instead the debut from Torontonian outfit ROUGH CUTS which delivers BISHOP’S GREEN and DROPKICK MURPHYS-esque street punk devoid of any real grit or menace. Admittedly, there are a few tracks to which you can bounce along in your adidas sambas and camo shorts should you be one of these modern Oi! types, and they seem to have their head broadly screwed on (small r) right politically-speaking, but some of the lyrics fit about as well as a new pair of 8-hole Docs and the vocals sound like a cartoon bullfrog. Not only this, but one of the riffs is lifted directly from GREEN DAY and they commit the cardinal sin of writing a punk song about an MLS team. Perfectly serviceable, but not essential.

The Chisel Deconstructive Surgery EP

Here we, Here we, Here we fucking go; the CHISEL boys are here to kick your head in and neck your pint while doing so. Lightning fast, convulsing with an anger that only growing up in Blackpool can give you, this blistering EP stomps from track to track with a palpable sense of malice and righteous fury. Class warfare, the sad decline of the seaside town and the great British tradition of a pint and a fight are all covered, and backed with thunderous drums, hefty bass and riotous guitars. One of the best of the year so far.

Lvger Fvll Villain LP

Have you ever wondered what it’d sound like if HIGH ON FIRE’s Matt Pike decided to stop dicking about and get into full MOTÖRHEAD worship instead? Me neither, and as it turns out it’s a question that probably should remain unanswered; in the ether. LVGER’s debut full-length only clocks in at six songs but feels about six years; with several tracks pushing an agonising four minutes in length, the sheer lack of urgency or any self-control really begins to drag at stages. While the riffs are undoubtedly robust, there’s more than a little of the bootcut jean about this record and it’s hard to ignore. Not for me.

V/A Oi! L’Album Volume 2 LP

Libertoi, égalioi, fraternitoi! Nearly ten years after the first installment, Nantes-based label Une Vie Pour Rien has put out a second course of delicious Oi morsels from the francophone world. Absolutely zero fucking about here, as the first track from parisian stalwarts BROMURE is straight in with the saxophone, because is it really French Oi without it? Stand-out tunes from ULTRA RAZZIA, BOGAN, COUPE-GORGE, follow and if you like your riffs hard as nails, your vocals gruff and your saxophone inexplicably present then this is the comp for you. Marchons! Marchons!

The Templars 1118-1312 LP

Grab yer Beauséant and yer cuirass, it’s only the bleedin’ TEMPLARS! The Lords of the Sword, for it is they, are back in reissue form. Pressing one of their finest cuts to 12”, half a dozen gruff skinhead rock’n’rollers from the mean streets of Long Island. At this stage, if you’re not on board with the TEMPLARS, this reissue is unlikely to change your mind, but who needs you anyway then, mate? “Skins & Punks” is an obvious highlight, as are some of the more tuneful numbers toward the end of Side B, but nothing sticks around too long as to become boring (anything more than twelve tracks is prog, lads). One for completists sure, but if you haven’t already heard this, you’d be well-advised to part with some hard-earned cash for it.

Traitre Discographie LP+EP

Lille’s TRAITRE, on face value, seems to plough a well-trodden furrow in the field of Oi!: a heady mix of rough ‘n’ ready NABAT-style riffs and gang vocal “woah-ohs” in the vein of their compatriots, the venerable WARRIOR KIDS and REICH ORGASM. There is, however, a certain melancholy that beats at the heart of this record, and almost touches upon Second Empire Justice-era BLITZ territory at points. Ennui and anger pulse throughout this record. Existential Oi! for the thinking skinhead; even boot boys get the blues. Well worth a spin.

Bent Out of Shape Demo 2020 CD

First release from this streetpunk outfit hailing from the Netherlands, and with any luck it will be their last. Workmanlike riffs twinned with anaemic attempts at barked vocals, laced with a series of increasingly cringe-inducing film quotes; so far so modern streetpunk. Vague and indirect small “p” political lyrics railing against authority and lying politicians, not to mention the prerequisite football tune, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard one thousand times before. One to miss.

No Class Don’t You Worry About Us! EP

About as subtle as a cricket bat to the bollocks, Footscray’s finest are back with a four-pack of beer-soaked bootboy bangers, hairy-arsed rock’n’roll and glam stompers. Opener “1981” comes across as a snottier ROSE TATTOO, swiftly followed by “Don’t You Worry About Us,” a defiant arms-’round-the-shoulder anthem reminiscent of an antipodean FACES with its knees up piano accompaniment. With “Knuckle Dragger” we have a revved up ’77 rocker channeling the sneer of COCKNEY REJECTS albeit at twice the speed, leading into “Every Now And Then” which is total “Runnin’ Riot”-era COCK SPARRER rip-off territory and there’s no higher compliment. Fans of “having a laugh with your mates” will not be disappointed.