Reviews

Bluurg

A-Heads Forgotten Hero EP

The three mid-tempo rockers on the A-HEADS second EP explore distinctly personal concerns related to love, disillusionment, and isolation—and with some success. “Love or Pain” features rich female vocals and catchy musical changes of pace, while the other tracks are more workmanlike. Nonetheless, it’s a punky, thought-provoking, and heart-felt disc, so I recommend it.

Culture Shock Reality Stop No. 44 cassette

Ten songs from a new band made up of members from the ruins of Wessex punk bands, the outstanding one being Dick from the SUBHUMANS on vocals. The band surrounds itself with a strong reggae punk/ska sound that is based on flowing melodies and very catchy rhythms. Very refreshing and interesting without making compromises.

Culture Shock Go Wild LP

A good example of this band’s punk/ska/reggae sound, the material ranges from slow dub-mixes to upbeat tunes filtered with a wide range of tempo changes, all of which are backed up by great lyrics. The three best songs were originally on their first demo, and the remainder lack a certain catchiness.

Faction You’ve Got the Fire EP

FACTION reminds me of a cross between early vintage SIOUXSIE and the A-HEADS, and the themes here address issues of personal politics. “Turn Away” contains a pleasantly pop-punk ambience, though none of the songs cover any new ground with much authority or power. A fair, basic release.

Instigators Live at Bradford Vaults Bar cassette

Melodic mid-tempo Britpunk. Some of it’s all too typical, but the INSTIGATORS have a nice dense guitar attack and a few notable tunes. “Monkey Man” is a sharp critique of the macho goons who go out looking for trouble at someone else’s expense.

Instigators Blood is on Your Hands EP

A strong Britpunk release. Most of the songs are in the standard fast- to medium-tempo range, the lyrics are good, and the vocals are rather high-pitched, but it’s the quality guitar arrangements, some well-placed sound effects, and a clever bridge or two that make this EP stand out from the pack. “All Creatures…” is an exceptional track.

Instigators Nobody Listens Anymore LP

Simply one of the finest efforts I’ve heard in ages, a five-star rating for those of you who rate. The INSTIGATORS combine such a harmonious charisma in the music they create that the rhythms stay with you, bouncing through your head. Well-structured musical slices utilize crafty guitar work, pulsating bass boomage, drum smashings at the right moments, and a very unique vocalist whose voice travels with the music. Strong lyrical melodies have you humming along in no time. With each play, you’ll discover more magic and be totally hooked. The INSTIGATORS are a band to notice.

Instigators Phoenix LP

With an almost entirely new lineup, the music here is a mixture of their early sound with a “progressive” U2 feel which hangs some of the time, but I did find myself picking the needle up before a couple of songs ended. The vocals are also hard to deal with, carrying out each word with too much attention.

Naked One Step Forward Towards Reality EP

Most of the five tracks here don’t really grab me, though they’re not bad examples of mid-tempo Britpunk. However, “Frightened” has some real strength in its brooding, menacing development, and “Evil Faces” has nice drive to it.

Nick Toczek Britanarchist cassette

This guy’s material sounds sort of like the FALL. Most of the tape consists of literate ranting poetry, but three of the tracks also have tough instrumentation and funky rhythms. Interesting listening that’s probably best appreciated by native Brits.

Nick Toczek Nick Toczek’s Ulterior Motives: The Tape cassette

Highly political prose and poetry make this offering a pleasant surprise. No music here, just committed, clever, and anarchic words infused with a punk idealism. A breath of fresh air. Buy it.

Subhumans Evolution EP

Now here’s an English band and record that I do like. All of this material has that special feel of intelligence and commitment, whether the rock ’n’ roll of the title track, the thrash of “Not Me,” of the power-chording of the unlisted track. One of the best, no doubt about it.

Subhumans Time Flies… But Aeroplanes Crash 12″

It shouldn’t be necessary to describe the UK SUBHUMANS’ basic approach. Once again, their combination of semi-thrash tempos, peculiar guitar embellishments, and radical lyrics hits home, and in a 12″ format, the production accentuates their power. There’s a couple of turkeys on this record, but the roaring “Get Out of My Way” and the psychedelic “People Are Scared” really stand out; “I Don’t Wanna Die” is an OK Yank-style thrasher.

Subhumans From the Cradle to the Grave LP

The A-side is totally great, full of that powerful, cleanly produced, uplifting, and distinctive SUBHUMANS sound. The B-side revolves around the theme of the album’s title, and runs through many musical styles from lyrical point to lyrical point. As with most such ambitious ideas, some of it works and some doesn’t, but the higher moments remind me of nothing so much as ATV or CRASS. I can’t wait to see them live!

Subhumans Rats EP

The textured, and often virtuosic musical trappings of the SUBHUMANS augment four compositions not quite up to this band’s ultra-high standards. “Labels” is an energetic dose of British thrash, and the EP’s title track contains some bracing changes of pace—all with the great SUBHUMANS lyrics.

Subhumans USAT4 Live San Francisco cassette

A very hot performance from their US tour of last year, but unfortunately the sound quality makes you feel like you’re in the bathroom at the On Broadway instead of up front. Actually, it’s not quite that bad, but it isn’t good enough to do this band justice.

Subhumans Worlds Apart LP

Take a variety of musical approaches (yet still the style the SUBHUMANS have established for themselves), push it all together into 12 new songs and one instrumental, and the third LP release brings this band even higher in growth, creativity, and continuous stamina. Multitudes of paces and Dick experimenting with different vocal approaches has the SUBS into another serious exceptional effort.

Subhumans 29:29 Split Vision LP

Recorded a month after their final show, these 8 highly produced tracks are their last word. Many of their varied styles appear here: reggae punk, eclectic extended tunes, medium tempo punk, medium-fast tunes. While by no means throwaways, there are no immediate standout classics. And then came CULTURE SHOCK.

The Sears If Only… 12″

If only this wasn’t November 6th (the day before this issue goes to press and, coincidentally, election day in the US), maybe I’d find this British “peace punk” outfit inspiring. But it is, and as I watch Reagan taking 49 states on TV, I can’t help but wonder why the SEARS or anyone else even bothers to try to increase awareness. Unfortunately for all of us, the world doesn’t operate on the basis of morality or, indeed, rationality. Oh yeah, their music is alternately haunting and powerful, so try and ignore my pessimism.

V/A Wessex ’82 EP

Four punky bands from Wessex participate on this strong compilation EP. The SUBHUMANS connect with “No Thanks,” their vitriolic commentary on “making it” in the music biz, while the PAGANS’ track (“Wave Goodbye to Your Dreams”) provides the high-velocity excitement here. Even the A-HEADS mix a satisfying melodic approach with their anti-government tirade. A very fine effort.

V/A Dawn of a New Age cassette

A benefit tape comp for the Animal Liberation Front, this is a co-release from Bluurg and Sabotage tapes. Artists contributing are the SUBHUMANS, ATROX, INSTIGATORS, REALITY CONTROL, PSYCHO FACTION, POLITICAL ASYLUM, KULTURKAMPF, and several others. Good sound quality and good music and information.

V/A Open Mind Surgery LP

With such groups as DEPRAVED, INSTIGATORS, CULTURE SHOCK, SCREAM, CIVILIZED SOCIETY, and more, there’s a great variety of music on this worldwide sampler. Ranges from folk to punk, but there’s a nice edge to all tracks, and political lyrics. Recommended.