Reviews

Cleopatra

1919 Futurecide CD

The latest full-length from Bradford post-punk legends 1919 slinks forth with catchy melodic abrasion. Harmonies as mesmerizing as the CHURCH; serpentine cradle-shaking akin to BAUHAUS; contemporary angst reminding of the ESTRANGED, MOIRA SCAR, and SEX GANG CHILDREN; the twitching ennui of MIDNIGHT OIL; and even the pop spin cycle à la CULTURE ABUSE, with a slack standard of SUEDE. 1919 have composed at times an optimistic, albeit still-life and morose effort that’s smoother than their tribal ’80s death rock sound, exploring a goth-gazing that is absolutely worth checking out. Introduce yourself as if they were the newest sensation in this darkwave movement, as if they weren’t around 35 years ago already nailing that fresh pine coffin.

Adolescents Russian Spider Dump CD

A covers album, basically of songs that Tony (singer and original) really liked back in the day, and still likes now. Most of ’em are from the West Coast (including Canada’s SUBHUMANS, of course!) and from the late ’70s/’80s. Pretty much all the songs sound great, with modern production and playing. Though not sure the world really needs yet another iteration of “Fuck You” or the DILS’ “Class War,” but then again, mebbe there can’t be enough of either sentiment. I think the DICKIES’ “Just Say Yes” was improved immeasurably by this iteration, and it’s great to hear TOXIC REASONS again. HUMPERS, GERMS, F-WORD, REDD KROSS, SIMPLETONES, the MIDDLE CLASS, the DRAGONS and the FLYBOYS also get a good doing, too.

The Vibrators / Chris Spedding Mars Casino LP

I want to be kind about this record; I am genuinely glad that the gentlemen of first-wave English punk band the VIBRATORS are still at it, and happy enough that they have drafted lifelong comrade, erstwhile PISTOLS producer, “Motor Biker” and Womble CHRIS SPEDDING in for the session. The songs are written and performed well enough, by people who clearly know what they are doing; In his advancing years(!), KNOX is starting to sound a lot like NICK LOWE on his recent solo outings. However, I am not sure I can recommend this to MRR’s readership—there’s an almost total lack of urgency, immediacy, or energy. This album will be a useful stocking filler for punk dads who are bummed about missing Rebellion Festival because of lockdown, but after one or two plays it will likely be shelved in favor of one of the band’s essential early singles.

James Williamson & Deniz Tek Two to One CD

The second collaboration between JAMES WILLIAMSON (Raw Power STOOGE, IGGY POP collaborator) and DENIZ TEK (RADIO BIRDMAN). The music is pretty good. It’s got TEK’s signature guitar sound. WILLIAMSON and TEK know how to write a riff. There are some nice ones on here. They try to hit on some relevant topics (“Climate Change”) as well as personal stuff. It’s the vocals that are lacking. I hate to trash one of my all-time favorite musicians, but there was a reason TEK wasn’t the singer of RADIO BIRDMAN. That said, I give them both credit for trying new stuff and not just rehashing their infamous pasts. Keep making music, guys.

Rosetta Stone Cryptology CD

With a minimum of internet sleuthing, I discovered that ROSETTA STONE is a British “Gothic rock band” that would appear to have formed in the late ’80s. Which explains why they sound like a very deft marriage (of convenience) of SISTERS OF MERCY and JOY DIVISION. Bass-driven dark music, with Ian Curtis vocal stylings and spare synth and guitar. This is a new album, and is a return to their sounds of yore. No idea what they were doing in between, but if you have either of the aforementioned in your record collection, this’ll go down real easy.

The Fuzztones NYC CD

This CD is the FUZZTONES’ tribute to their hometown of New York City. They do covers of RAMONES, the CRAMPS, DEAD BOYS, HEARTBREAKERS, the FUGS, PATTI SMITH, among others in a mellow garage rock style. They have changed some song’s lyrics. “Microdot” instead of “Chinese Rocks”? “53rd & 3rd” sounds extra creepy done in this slowed down in the “Crimson and Clover” melody. They even cover FRANK SINATRA’s “New York, New York” as the album opener. This is for fans only.

The Members Version CD

Folks that might remember (or recognize) the MEMBERS for (the admittedly sublime) “Sound of the Suburbs” or even “Solitary Confinement” might be in for a bit of a shock. Not a rude one, but certainly a stylistic one. This is yet another covers disc, in this case, largely of classics from the ’60s and ’70s—BUZZOCKS, the RAMONES, the LURKERS, DAVID BOWIE, PRINCE, the VELVET UNDERGROUND, JOHN HOLT, GREGORY ISAACS, BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS, DILLINGER, GRANDMASTER FLASH and ABBA. A fairly eclectic mix, but which all make perfect sense for those lucky enough (and there’s still time!) to be familiar with the back catalog and oeuvre of THE MEMBERS. Unsurprisingly, the most faithful of the covers are the reggae and dub efforts, while the PRINCE, ABBA and punk songs get more of a FAD GADGET ’80s electronica treatment (along with some dub!). And it largely works. And I say this as both a huge ABBA fan, and a MEMBERS aficionado!

The Tea Set Back in Time for Tea CD

Time for tea! What we have here is a collection of singles and EPs by the TEA SET between ’78 and ’81, along with a couple of extra tracks tacked on. Often overlooked in the punk/post-punk pantheon (perhaps because they never released an album, although they did appear on a Messthetics comp), these art students specialized in DIY clatter with a dramatic flourish; channeling post-BUDGIE prog-punk on “On Them,” and making the everyday seem esoteric on the disco funk of “Tri X Pan.” While it’s great to have all these fantastic singles in one place, I would love to see them presented in a more elaborate package in keeping with the fantastic artwork that accompanied the original singles; The slim booklet that comes in the digipak CD doesn’t do them justice.

UK Subs Subversions II CD

A second album of newly recorded covers from these UK punk old timers. Still a great band after all these years, we are treated to versions of “Immigrant Song,” “Search and Destroy,” “This Is Rock ’n’ Roll,” and the uptempo version of “We Will Rock You” as well as eight other tasteful oldies. It’s a lot of fun, and it sure beats the usual “live cover” on the flip side.