Ben Hughes.

It’s nearly 30 years since Sweden’s finest funk n rollers the Electric Boys first hit our TV screens (if like me you caught the low budget promo for ‘Get Nasty’ on The Power Hour back in the day, that is). Anyway, I always had a soft spot for Conny Bloom and the boys, their debut album ‘Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride’ received heavy rotation on my boom box, courtesy of a second generation tape recorded off a mate’s vinyl copy..I still have it too.

Although they had a bit of a cult following in the UK and heavy MTV rotation, the rise of Grunge was too much and ‘Groovus Maximus’ and the following ‘Freewheelin’ failed to set the world on fire, they lost their deal and the band sadly…disbanded. It’s a familiar story, right?

After a 4 year stint in the rejuvenated Hanoi Rocks, Conny and Bassist Andy Christell reformed the Electric Boys and released ‘And Them Boys Done Swang’ in 2011. Now with the original line up intact, they return with the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2014 album ‘Starflight United’.

Although they were given the funk tag, the Electric Boys were never really that funky were they? If anything there may have been a touch of Sly & The Family Stone to their sound but their hearts and souls were firmly planted in 60’s pop and groove-heavy 70’s rock rather than anything else. And that is the direction this album follows, although they do touch on their funk in places, this is a straight-edged rock album.

Recorded and produced in Stockholm at Ghost Ward studios by David Castillo, better known for his work with metal bands such as Katatonia and Opeth, ‘The Ghost Ward Diaries’ is a continuation of where the band left off 4 years ago.

The first thing I take from ‘Ghost Ward Diaries’ is how instant it is and how good it sounds, sonically. While it’s a traditional sounding rock album, the crisp, punchy production gives it an edgy modern feel. There’s a cocksure confidence to it. It’s full of swagger, and more importantly, full of stadium-sized choruses. If you are familiar with the recent Michael Monroe solo albums, then you may understand what I’m getting at.

Opener ‘Hangover In Hannover’ is a classic Bloom rocker with a simplistic riff and hook. I had to do a double take on that verse, as it could’ve easily been lifted from one of those post-Millennium Hanoi or Monroe solo albums, yet the bridge is pure Electric Boys. A perfect album opener. “Cold, outta money, heartbroken and pissed” sings Conny, as the music stops momentarily. A down on luck, rock ‘n’ roll road tale.

‘There She Goes Again’ has a classic, rousing verse that catches the attention from the off, before a sing-a-long-a-chorus comes on full of sentiment. A Chuck Berry-styled solo over glorious riffarama makes this an early highlight.

The ballads are full of sentiment; they’re catchy and melodic in all the right places. ‘You Spark My Heart’ takes the classic 80’s power ballad formula and gives it a modern twist, the guitars sound massive. ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ is the big ballad, acoustic guitars, sweet choral backing vocals, a face shredder of a solo and a big chorus. What’s not to like here? Yep, they nailed it.

There is plenty to keep longtime fans happy as well. The funked up, bluesy groover ‘Love Is A Funny Feeling’ nods its head to the debut album, as does the slide-infused ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’. The band continue to get their funk out on the groovy ‘Knocked Out By Tyson’, with its killer riff and soulful backing vocals that remind me of The Black Crowes classic single ‘Remedy’, it’s an absolute belter.

While the instrumental ‘Swampmotofrog’ is a more experimental jam that I can take or leave, the likes of album closer ‘One Of The Fallen Angels’ with its euphoric chorus is essential listening. Yep, you could say the fine art of a catchy chorus has not been lost on these boys.

While Scandinavia has consistently blessed us with new and exciting underground bands for the past 20 years, you could call Electric Boys the old guard. They have been at this game, albeit inconsistently, for over 30 years, and while they may not have the legendary status or even the back catalogue of the likes of Hanoi Rocks, they hold their own, have adapted to the times and are making music as fresh and as vibrant as their debut sounded in 1989. Lyrically, Conny Bloom is in a darker place with these stories inspired by tales on the road but ‘The Ghost Ward Diaries’ is a euphoric testament to a band of survivors who refuse to lie down. Three albums into their comeback, it’ll be interesting to see where the band go next.




Dom Daley.

These Bay area punks have been doing this now for over twenty-five years and show no sign of letting up as they release their new album for Fat Wreck Chords they’ve toured relentlessly and consistently made records on their own terms and done so with class and a style that has delighted thousands of fans around this globe and on this evidence shows no sign of slowing down.

‘Undertaker, Undertake’ begins with a huge fat bass line that isn’t so much rumbling but thundering through the speakers at a fierce pace with a great hook its a hell of an opening salvo – the Swingin’ Utters are coming out swinging haymakers and this sounds fantastic!

The Thunder might have passed momentarily but ‘Sirens’ is a smooth rolling melodic song that breaks out for the chorus and is like a rainbow pouring out of the speakers filling all available space with its happy go lucky sounds. ‘Louise And Her Spider’ is only the third song in and its another string on the bow and an altogether piece to the opening two tracks. As the rhythm stutters behind the hypnotic riff. With a new drummer and bass player seemingly working some magic in these tracks, a new dawn for The band is given a real shot in the arm and a vibrancy that is noticeable.

I love ‘Constant Companion’ and then to follow it up with the laid-back opening of ’Deranged’ before that rhythm section takes ownership of another belter. Jonny Bonnel stated that this would be a political affair and when sexism, racism, and fascism were on the agenda it was time to speak up and boy do they speak up. All power to the Utters I say.

‘Human Potential’ is the first single off the album and a fair indicator for fans as to how this record generally pans out. It’s a touch of class and has all the hallmarks you’d want in a new record by the band. ‘Yes, I Hope He Dies’ is as to the point as punk rock has ever been and another reason to pick up a copy of this new record. It’s no surprise that this is full of surprises and contains plenty of great songs ‘Imitation Of Silence’ sounds vital and that rhythm section is fuckin’ thunderous as it pummels through the final throws of this great twisting and turning song.

To throw a final curveball ‘H.L.S’ is acoustic guitar and voice of Jack Dalrymple as he pays tribute to Heiko Schrepel who he played with him in One Man Army who sadly passed away in 2015 and its a fitting and warm tribute even when the band joins him to take this record home. Swingin’ Utters hit the spot with ‘Peace And Love’ and deliver one of the years finest punk rock records right up there with The Adolescents proving that class will always stay and when you’ve got it man you’ve fuckin’ got it. Still killing it in 2018 pace and love indeed.

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Dom Daley.

Hooligan Pop is a new one on me but I’ll take it when it sounds this raucous and bursting with energy. Of course, they hail from Canada most of the best purveyors of this style come from that part of the globe. If you’re wondering what the cut of their jib well, imagine some small dash of The Jam poured over a large slug of Buzzcocks then stir in a healthy amount of pop suss like say oh the small faces. And you’re on your way guv. Its sharp and to the point and has a tonne of melody in its eight songs.

‘Devices’ kicks things off with a cool raw riff and a backbeat this is like a majestic blend of Wilco Johnsons raw Tele wrestling with Wellers Rickenbacker but it’s all wrapped up in a bit of bovver like early Sparrer with the pop of the Undertones. Regardless it’s a great way to kick things off that’s for sure. Worry not pop pickers because ‘Straight Jacket’ is up next and like Houdini, it breaks free of its shackles easily and strikes a pose with a rollicking melody and we’re under no pretense as to what we’re listening to – this is indeed hooligan pop.

‘Permanent Fixture’ is busy making noises like prime time ‘Cocks and has a Shelly like melody but the magic really takes a grip on the great lick that falls from the guitar neck on ‘Hurtin’ Boys’ which is something special. you have those band stabs around that hypnotic lick and gang vocal chant of the title and you’re ready for a Saturday night down the footy like the 70’s never ever happened.

To be fair the standard is set early on and the fact that Tommy and the boys can maintain that til the end is a wonderful thing and they’ve nailed the production and style of this album. ‘So Happy’ is an apt title because I’m feeling perky from playing this at ear-splitting volumes as the outro riff shakes the floorboards I’m only stopped in my tracks that there is only one more punk rockin’ hack and slash as ‘Reggie Rocks’ takes this album home. With no soft focus or stylized edges smoothed over by big production Tommy has gone for edge and relying on the tunes to chicken dance this bad boy onto your turntable and take up residence.

‘Here come’ might well be a throwback with little finesse but it contains a bunch of well-crafted stompers that are packed with tunes and an attitude that it’ll dance to its own tune and won’t have its head turned by anybody because Tommy knows he rocks and I can tell you that now – we also know Tommy & his commies kick ass!

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Craggy Collyde.

While London may have its fair share of decent punk bands, Healthy Junkies have been one of the more notable in recent years. This hard work has led them to share the stage with many iconic punk acts that are among the influences contributing to the sparkling brew which makes up Delirious Daydream. Recorded at Bark Studios by Brian O’Shaughnessy (Primal Scream/My Bloody Valentine), Delirious Daydream offers hints at a range of inspirations.

The album kicks off with one of the strongest tracks on the record, a storming goth-tinged rocker ‘When All is Said and Done’. This hard, streetwise sound remains present throughout the album, but it doesn’t dominate it. While songs such as ‘Sound of My Guitar’ are heavy and hard hitting, the band are always reaching to other influences such as on the Blondie-esque ‘Juliet’s Call’ or the heavily grunge inspired ‘Johnny Demented’.

What is particularly impressive about the album is how many of their influences just seem to pop up in small amounts without disturbing the overall sound of the record. A little pop, for example, goes a long way in ‘This Condition’, whereas the goth hints reappear in ‘Without A Soul’, another of the highlights on the album, with a chorus reminiscent of Roxette (certainly meant as a compliment).

A glam riff opens up the excellent ‘All Talk’, while some songs such as ‘Meet & Greet’ are straight up punk. A grungy cover of ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ is not a bad addition, but it doesn’t really stand up to singalongs such as ‘Boy or Girl’, but then it doesn’t really need to. Healthy Junkies head to America this year, confidently taking a unique and strong album with them. Best of luck on the other side of the pond.

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Dom Daley.

Paul has been doing his particular Rock and Roll thing since way back in 79 and has endured many changes to the face of this business but one thing has remained and that’s his ability to write and play some of the finest power poppin’ rock and roll anywhere on this planet.

This his latest solo offering is choc-o-bloc with hooks melody drama and cranked up guitars something he learned early on when a member of the Nerves and right through the double figured releases of his solo career.

‘Out Of My Head’ is a real return to his roots and as well as singing he plays all the drums and most of the guitar parts so in almost every sense of the word this truly is a solo album. There is no studio trickery on display here and along with Paul Stingo this was taken back to the garage and recorded on Reel to Reel now that’s not something you’re gonna hear being done much these days and it’s not a hipster gesture these guys are the real deal.

Eleven songs in a shade over half an hour is just about right and the formula is pretty straightforward. Great songs laden with melody and hooks and played on authentic instruments by people who know their craft and not some digital illusion created in some spotty kids basement or bedroom these guys are professions god damn it and once the needle drops you’ll get my drift.

I guess Collins has done this for so long he can write these tunes in his sleep he must sweat classic power pop every time he pulls his skinny tie too tight – it might be too early to announce this a classic but given time we might just look back on another genre highlight.

As soon as ‘In And Out Of My Head kicks in it’s like welcoming home the prodigal son – you feel like it’s been here before and whilst it purposefully meanders towards the solo its exuding confidence and you know how good this is.

‘Go’ is altogether punchier with a 60’s Britpop feel and Collins influences shine through. It’s a struttin’ number and if he still had one – his moptop would be shaking like a shitting dog.

This seems to be the pattern for the next few songs with hooks aplenty and melodies everywhere you turn. ‘Stranger’ has some wicked keyboard playing for good measure and a solo that’s like a ray of sunshine.

It’s not until ‘Emily’ does the pace relent as the tone is guitar and voice for the intro and first verse with gang harmonies carrying this one home. The drums sweep in halfway but ‘Midnight Special’ is altogether a rougher tune. With a bit of distortion laid on top of the Rickenbacker.

‘Killer Inside’ has something of a Doors feel on the intro through to the first uttering of the title then cuts loose as the atmosphere gets dark and the sparse guitar break certainly adds to the haunting feel of the song.

Certainly, one of the albums highlights for me is the laid back chill out melancholy of ‘Lost Again’. Certainly, the tempo fades towards the final third of the record with this final three

being a gentle fading of the light with the Dylanesque curtain call of ‘Beautiful eyes’ being an emotional Collins lamenting with just acoustic and electric guitar with sparse bass notes punctuating the chords to perfection.

Sure this isn’t reinventing the wheel in any way shape or form but it’s one hell of a strong album that showcases Paul Collins and his huge songwriting talent.

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Craggy Collyde.

Following Matt Skiba’s interesting move to replace Tom DeLonge in Blink 182, the brakes appeared to come down on Alkaline Trio, leaving a five-year break between 2013’s break-up/make-up album ‘My Shame is True’ and their latest ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’, released at the tail end of August this year on Epitaph Records.

Led by the single ‘Blackbird’, you could be forgiven for thinking their ninth studio album might suffer from being a part-time record shoved between Blink 182 duties. However, ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’, produced by Cameron Webb (credited with assisting in Motorhead’s return to form on their later releases), offers up something both refreshing and familiar.

While all the dark trimmings of domestic unease remain ever present in the Alkaline Trio vocabulary, which is sure to please their loyal fans, they manage to retain a lively and erratic sound pushed to new limits and held together by Webb’s skillful production. And although this album is happily reminiscent of some of the Trio’s earlier work, the sharp production adds punch to a set of finely-crafted songs.

The opening title track sets the tone of the album, carrying some of the dramatic weight Alkaline Trio fans are familiar with, before leading into the excellent ‘Blackbird’ with guitars cutting sharply through the production. As to be expected, the dark tones are here all over the album summed up in titles like ‘Demon and Division’ and ‘Heart Attacks’, but this is a danceable collection which rarely dips into dullness. Swinging tunes like ‘Sweet Vampires’ and upbeat punk rockers such as the fantastic ‘Little Help’ really give the album a lift.

Far from suffering from Skiba’s foray into the world of Blink 182, this new Alkaline Trio offering keeps the band dynamic and relevant. ‘Blackbird’, ‘Goodbye Fire Island’ and ‘Stay’ are just some of the instant classics on offer among these artfully, and of course, gloomily, delivered 13 tracks.

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