It’s been 5 long years since The Hip Priests’ last studio album, but as some wise old sage once said “good things to those who hate”.
During that time events have certainly seen the UK become a more divisive place to live and as such ‘Stand For Nothing’ has never felt like a more perfectly timed record. It’s one the band said they’d never release but now felt compelled to, plus it’s also one that contains not a single song about the old in out … a true first in Priests terms.
But wait just a minute, because I’m getting ahead of myself here and forgetting you just might be someone discovering The Hip Priests for the very first time, sat there all comfy on your toilet (I mean where else would you read about the Hip Priests?) thinking that in those intervening 5 years the band’s core trio of bassist Lee Love, guitarist Austin Rocket and vocalist Nathan Von Cruz must have been hidden away on some tropical island paradise recording a masterpiece in studio fuckery with Muff Flange. Well, you’d of course be very wrong indeed, because during the past 5 years what The Hip Priests have actually been doing is working their arses off by relentlessly touring (with the likes of Zeke, The Dwarves and The Bitch Queens) whilst releasing a bazillion independently funded and released limited edition 7” singles. Whilst in the process of doing all this they also managed to lose 2 drummers (before arriving at current sticksman D.P. Bomber), decided to turbocharge their sound via the addition of a second guitarist (via the enigmatic Silent Mike – who has subsequently moved on to pastures new), and then came within a hair’s breadth of finally getting themselves signed to a major label. Something that would ultimately come to nothing when the A&R guy signing them was “let go” by the label.
Phew! That potted history reads like a draft film script doesn’t it, but this boys and girls is the harsh reality of being in a proper rock ‘n’ roll band, one that is driven to succeed at all costs.
So, after all that does ‘Stand For Nothing’ live up to my heady expectations as the record to propel them into 2019 as the number one independent rock band on the UK scene?
Well, it takes exactly one line of the album’s blistering opener ‘Welcome To Shit Island’ to answer this conundrum as Nathan Von Cruz venomously spits out “Small minds, dumb pricks – drop a bomb on this isle of shit” and I can immediately feel myself grinning from ear to ear whilst punching the air with absolute joy. YES! Someone is finally not afraid to speak the truth and there really is no time like right now (excuse the pun) to celebrate it. In fact, all joking aside if ever there was a sign that The Hip Priests were evolving into a much bigger and angrier sounding beast than ever before it was that 10 minute epic (which curiously doesn’t make the final track listing here) that well and truly pissed the line in the sand regarding the band’s musical ambitions.
The expansion of sound that was so evident during the horn-driven ‘No Time (Like Right Now)’ is thankfully driven headlong into this album too and the aforementioned addition of a second guitarist gives tracks like the stunning ‘Losers Of The Faith’ (which I must admit is my favourite track here) and the glorious one-finger piano-driven ‘Stand For Nothing’ an additional melodic edge, something that just might have been missing from previous Priests’ records where the band chose to simply bulldozer you into aural ecstasy.
Fear not though fellow Spasm Gangbangers because that old school Priests sound is still very much here in abundance during tracks like the caustic ‘Social Hand Grenade’, and the thundering album closer ‘Rock N Roll Leper’ plus let’s not forget the already firmly established live favourite ‘Cheers To Me’. It’s just that this time around I’m finding myself going back to the likes of the pounding ‘Deja F.U.’ and the dare I say it the “gothic sounding” ‘How Do You Get Off?’ (is that a hint of Farfisa I here in there lads?) time and time again as The Hip Priests truly spread their musical wings…sonically speaking of course.
What also really stands out on this record are the lyrics, and on the vinyl only track ‘U Okay Hun’ we get to rejoice in Lee Love’s lightning fast take on the world of the vacuous self-centred fucks that litter social media, a track which is without doubt one of his finest moments yet, and he’s written quite a few of those that’s for sure.
At the start of this review I stated that ‘Stand For Nothing’ contained no tracks about sex, which will be a total shock to any Priests fan’s moral system I know, but for those of you hankering for the ‘Saints Of Excess’ of old there’s still ‘Last Train Wrecks’ to look forward to, a glorious tale of self-destruction that comes complete with an intro from Happy Tom and actually revolves around some of the very people who will no doubt be rushing to buy their copy of this album when it goes on pre-sale on Feb 4th via the various labels involved and linked below.
Look, in ‘Stand For Nothing’ The Hip Priests have written one of, if not THE most important garage punk albums of 2019. Buy it now (via the links below) and help the band save Shit Island from forever falling into the sea of musical mediocrity. Essential!
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Author: Johnny Hayward