Ok, so we’ve been sitting on this album for a while at RPM…literally! I found it, seemingly forgotten, stuffed between a pile of unopened bills, unread Labour pamphlets, punk rock flyers and various promo CDs on my coffee table (yes, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll mess, I’ll tidy it one day I’m sure!).

Damn, how did I miss this fucker? But better late than never, I’m on it like Graham Bonnet. The brand new album from that self-proclaimed “hooligan rock ‘n’ roll” band known as Control.

‘Democracy Is Dead’ is the 5th long player from a band who look as mean as they sound. This band has a fire in their bellies for sure, but singer Iain Kilgallon and his band are more than bovver booted boys in combats and Harrington jackets. They have proper quality tunes as well as a message, and they are passionate about it.

 

Bells chimes and rousing beats introduce the album as the title tracks spews from the speakers. It’s “Oi-Oi” at full pace, the buzzsaw guitar riffs and low slung licks of Reesy and Ryan prevail, as Iain spits a diatribe of class divide, paranoia and overall disdain.

It’s over in a flash, the first of several anthemic songs that are rich in both melody and meaning. Don’t get me wrong, Control are angry fuckers, they have good reason to be, as do we all. They deliver their diatribes with a clenched fist in the air and a boot towards any authoritarian who questions their motives.

With attitude and melody dished out in equal measures, the likes of ‘Violent World’ and ‘Anti Social Media’ are both clever and well written songs that have staying power and an uplifting vibe, yet still retain the raw, punk rock power we desire. The production is spot on too and brings out the best in this band. The guitar sound is fantastic and the quality riffs are dished out again and again.

 

There’s something distinctly British about their brand of punk ‘n’ roll music, in part due to the accented delivery of the vocals. Only a British band could deliver tongue in cheek lyricism so well. “Toughen up, or take a long walk…off a right short pier” the singer spits on ‘Snowflake Generation’, reminding me of the Anti-Nowhere League. Elsewhere on the title track “Daddy was a banker. A crooked sod” is delivered in full on Steve Jones style. And if you can keep up with Iain on that tongue twister chorus of ‘American Gangster’ then hats off to ya!

It’s no surprise to find that Rancid’s Lars Fredrikson is a fan; they even supported The Old Firm Casuals recently. When you have a song as good as ‘Just Don’t Understand’ in your repertoire, it’s easy to see why.

 

In these trying times, with our country rapidly turning to shit and a government hell-bent on flushing us all down the Brexit toilet, it may be the perfect time for a band who wanna stand up and shout from the terraces and tower blocks of the working class Brits to say, they are not ok with the overly monitored police state we live in, and they are not ok with the lying, power-hungry politicians who run it.

‘Democracy Is Dead’ is a fiery beast of an album, choc-a-bloc with choruses that will incite you to chant, lyrics that could incite a riot and a defiant 2 fingers raised in the general direction of our crumbling government. Control could well have delivered the perfect punk rock soundtrack to broken Britain in 2019.

 

Buy ‘Democracy Is Dead’ Here

Author: Ben Hughes

 

The Membranes release the heaviest album of the year so far.  Not heavy in the way of an Iron Maiden (obviously) but heavy as in dense physical mass as it lurches from the shade into the light and back again like a beast that’s bee in the wilderness for decades and then suddenly it wanders into the metropolis as the opener will testify covering everything about this record in one track.

The title track is Robbs punchy throbbing bass line right front and center in the mix is a heaving throwback to the days when Joy Division was kicking up dust over the Northwest. These aren’t rounded soft and pleasant noises the band is throwing out there. ‘A Murder Of Crows’ is like the bastard child of Bow Wow Wow as the song jerks and leers towards the listener in an uncomfortable noise yet its compelling enough to keep you listening.  Like some sort of musical cooperative if you want in just turn up and shake a tambourine or blow a horn I’m sure there’s someone hitting a kitchen sink in there somewhere along with throwing a piano down a flight of stairs.

There has to be a Bauhaus influence in there as ‘Black Is The Colour’ about the dark epicenter of winter bloody well sounds it.  Not what you might call TOTP material for a single unless its the post-apocalypse TOTP with a chaotic reverb emanating of Robbs jagged bass line it’s uncomfortable yet listenable and they’ve got the levels spot on.

this double album is an ambitious project and it’s often dark yet alluring uninviting and cold yet warm at the same time one thing it is for sure and that’s epic.  If you’re trying to take it in in one sitting then strap yourself in it might be a bumpy ride just listening to the Janes Addiction sounding chaos of ‘The 21 St Century Is Killing Me’ from its choir on the chorus to the juddering riff its a whole load of epic in one track. the final track ‘Pandoras Box’ is like a headfuck with Choirs, strings, thumping bass, Dead Kennedy’s riff, at times it sounds like a lost Stranglers track and others it sounds like a gift from above its exhausting listening but in a good way.

Another feature of this record is the guest list Kirk Brandon (Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny) and 84-year-old folk singer Shirley Collins.  TV presenter Chris Packham also contributes to ‘Winter’, also Jordan turns up, yes she of the Kings Road and a woman who practically invented the punk Rock shock look in 1975. Half the tracks also feature the 20-piece Choir.  So you can’t fault the band for trying to include the Jewson lot into this record besides it doesn’t always work but what the hell they’re trying and that’s a strength.  when it works its a beautiful thing I can’t tell you where it works that’s for you to decide but I would suggest you at least give this a try you never know it might reel you in.

 

The band must have driven themselves half round the bend recording this but I bet once they had the record in their hands and dropped the needle in that first groove they’ll feel it was all most definitely worth it.

 

Buy What Nature Give Here

Author: Dom Daley

As of today, ‘What Nature Gives … Nature Takes Away’ will be available on vinyl and CD, and digitally from stores such as iTunes and streaming platforms. There is also a deluxe double vinyl ultra limited edition of 150 copies.

This summer, cosmetics company Lush will also release a Membranes perfume called ‘A Strange Perfume’ after the album’s opening track. I bet you weren’t expecting that were you?

Being together as a band for almost 40 years now – I guess it’s safe to say that D-A-D would have to be very comfortable in their own skins to have survived quite so long.
It’s hardly surprising then that ‘A Prayer For The Loud’ the band’s first new studio record in eight years is grounded in this ethos, the band having graduated from their humble Disneyland After Dark cow-punk beginnings into major label arena rock contenders who then, through their own hard work and helpyourselfishness, managed to survive the onset of grunge when most hard rockers perished through to eventually becoming the band they are today and have been since the release of ‘Everything Glows’ back in 2000. An album which coincidently not only saw the band change their name to D-A-D but also saw the band’s newest member Laust Sonne join the core trio of the band (singer/guitarist Jesper Binzer, bassist Stig Pedersen and guitarist Jacob Binzer) behind the drum kit.
So, what does almost two decades of being (this version of) D-A-D actually sound like?
Well, remember those days when new albums by the likes of Aerosmith and AC/DC used to leave you thrilled and wanting more? That’s instantly how I felt about ‘A Prayer For The Loud’, as both those hard rock giants sprung to mind during the first couple of spins, but of course this is always going to be a D-A-D record what with the instantly recognisable rich and raspy vocal tones of Jesper Binzer ever present and ready to strike.
Of the eleven new cuts on offer here at least nine of them are total bangers, pure four to the floor rock n roll music, with even glimpses of the mighty Gluecifer and The Cult (circa ‘Electric’/’Sonic Temple’) creeping into the mix during the simply immense ‘The Real Me’.

The album itself gets off to a blazing start with ‘Burning Star’ and the throbbing ‘A Prayer For The Loud’ and I challenge anyone to listen to either of these tracks and not draw an immediate arc back to the band’s commercial peak (here in the UK) of ‘No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims’ and ‘Riskin’ It All’, two albums that any connoisseur of quality guitar-driven rock music will have had in their collections for decades now.

Elsewhere with ‘Musical Chairs’ which crops up just past the halfway mark, the guys have written the song Airbourne have been searching for since they floundered for a sound to take them to the next level, whilst ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ and ‘The Sky Is Made Of Blues’ are the perfect soundtrack for top-down summer driving.

Of the two slower moments on ‘A Prayer For The Loud’ album closer ‘If The World Just’ is my preferred choice over ‘A Drug For The Heart’ purely because the latter sails a little too close to a certain Backyard Babies track for its own good, albeit with Jesper at the mic this is much more Aerosmith than Social Distortion ballad territory.

Kudos must also be given here to the production team of Nick Foss and Rune Nissen Petersen who have taken heavy hitters like ‘No Doubt About It’, ‘Time Is A Train’ and ‘Happy Days In Hell’ and given then an enormous sound that instantly fills your head with rock ‘n’ roll melodies that will live with you for days, no make that years, to come.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m so surprised by how amazing ‘A Prayer For The Loud’ is because D-A-D have always produced quality albums, it’s just this one is right up there with their very best work and is as a said at the beginning of this review the sound of a band very comfortable in their own skins.

Hands down this is the best classic/traditional (label it what you will) album I’ve heard in 2019.
BUY IT!!!!

Author: Johnny Hayward

Buy ‘A Prayer For The Loud’ Here

One of the albums of the year gets a re-press on Blood Red vinyl for those who missed out on the initial press.  RPM  reviewed it Here and we urge you not to sit on your hands a second time as this will sell out as the first run did.  Go Go Go!
Alvin says, “For all you vinyl junkies that missed out on obtaining my solo album ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ on 12 inch vinyl earlier this year due the initial 300 being sold out in short order, Time & Matter Records have manufactured a new batch of 300, this time on blood-red vinyl and minus the accompanying CD and download code. This release will, therefore, be sold at the lesser price of £17 (the first pressing was priced at £22) and can be ordered from this Here”

It features twelve songs written by yours truly and an array of very talented guest musicians that reads like this: Brian James – The Damned / Lords Of The New Church; Leigh Heggarty – Ruts DC; Mick Rossi – Slaughter & The Dogs; James Stevenson – Generation X / Chelsea / The Cult / The Alarm; Barry ‘Barrington’ Francis – The Saints; Timo Kaltio – Johnny Thunders band/Hanoi Rocks / Cheap ‘N’ Nasty; Mel Wesson – Keyboard player & Ambient music designer – TV Smith’s Explorers/The Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ / U.K. Subs ‘Diminished Responsibility’ LP / Films Mission Impossible 2, Batman Begins, Hannibal etc; Steve Crittall – The Godfathers; Jamie Oliver – U.K. Subs.

“I would advise interested parties to get their orders in sharp to avoid what occurred last time, which was a lot of people missing out due to the speed that the original batch sold at. In fact it was due to so many people voicing their disappointment at not being able to get a vinyl copy in time that persuaded T & M Records to go with this colour-altered second run. For those of you that are not so disposed to a bit of vinyl, there is also a CD version of the album available from the same link. Ta! A x”

When I saw Aussie punks Amyl & The Sniffers live recently, singer Amy Taylor launched herself into an excited and sweaty pit to sing and mosh with her fans for the first of several times…the band had been on stage less than a minute.

Part Yolandi Visser, part Wendy O Williams, Amy Taylor is a tiny, platinum-haired Aussie whirlwind of fun. Along with her mullet sporting flatmates; Declan (guitars), Bryce (drums) and Gus (bass) whom she formed the band with back in 2016. They have steadily been making waves since writing, recording and releasing their debut EP in the space of 12 hours.

These waves have made it across continents since the vinyl release of their ‘Giddy Up/Big Attractions’ EP, culminating with the band recently touring the States and the UK to rave reviews and packed clubs.

 

They don’t fuck around when it comes to music and live they are a high-octane blast of energy guaranteed to incite riots. That riot-inciting attitude is captured perfectly on their debut, self-titled album.

Just look at that goddamn album artwork and tell me you don’t need a piece of that in your life right now? Imagine a mash of The Rezillos, The Dead Boys and X-Ray Spex covering The Breaking Glass soundtrack and you might get close to their sound.

No one is doing late 70’s punk right now with as much balls, as much energy and certainly with as much authenticity as Amyl & The Sniffers are.

 

‘Starfire 500’ is simply one of the best album openers of the year, what a track! It blasts from the speaker with a statement of intent, riding on some out-of-this-world  Ramones-a-like riff. In Sniffers terms it’s an epic beast; Amy’s distinctive, snotty vocals don’t even start until the 1 minute 30 mark.

It’s clear from the off that the band have taken things up a level and they have come a long way since that lo-fi debut EP. While the production has improved, the songs are still full of raw, undiluted garage rock goodness.

If Kylie had been mentored by GG Allin instead of Pete Waterman she would probably have come out with a song like ‘Gacked On Anger’, a furious diatribe set to a wall of fat distortion.

Previously released singles are present and correct. The brilliant ‘Cup Of Destiny’ has a hook that will embed itself in your brain instantly and album closer ‘Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)’ is like some anti ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. A “fuck you!” song to an ex about his new bird (or dog in this instance). Amy even throws in some choice “woof-woofs” for good measure.

The band bashes out 3 chord bangers like they were born to do it, with every track worthy of 7” release, like old school punk classics. ‘Monsoon Rock’ rides on a stabbing Dr. Feelgood style riff before descending into a power trip of Dead Boys proportions. The vocals spat with venom and the dirty guitars delivered with the power of a DC 10. The Stooges-like ‘Control’ is a chaotic, death trip jam, and ‘Angel’ is as close as the band gets to a love song…at least I think it’s a love song, but it sure ain’t no ballad, folks!

‘Got You’ sounds like an early Adam & The Ants b side. Riding on a rumbling bass line and a great chanting chorus, the lead vocals delivered with a most nonchalant punk rock attitude. The accompanying video features the boys in the band on leashes being walked by their singer. You gotta love it, and I have so much love for this tune right now.

 

Garage rock bands are two a penny, but Amyl and The Sniffers are the dirty penny you want to scrub up and keep for good. They have the tunes, the style and the attitude to match. They also have a growing fan base, a ferocious live reputation and now a killer album to boot. How can they possibly fail? An essential purchase.

Buy Amyl And The Sniffers Here

Facebook

Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setzer, Rocker and Phantom back together in the same room recording kick-ass rock and roll after forty years together.  who’d have thought that?

Whilst they might be plying their tried and tested trade they’ve never been about reinventing the wheel they just want to preserve 1950’s Rock and Roll as best they can and look cool as doing it.  Whilst techniques have changed and equipment has changed dramatically – Hell, how we listen to our music has also changed significantly over the last decade never mind forty years!

I guess it doesn’t matter what decade or timeline you’re preaching from if it ain’t got no soul it can’t Rock and Roll and the one things The Stray Cats can still do all the decades later is Rock and Roll and they’ve never forgotten how to write a tune or two either.

The album was recorded as a live band in a room in a couple of takes, pretty much as you’d hear them live I guess which in today’s money is a nuts way to do things and would puzzle a new bunch of kids.  Most people don’t even spend time in the studio together they post in their parts and record ’em at home for the most part. To go back to the old school is a brave move even for these cats but the rewards are a rich sound that full of vitality and vibrancy.

Twelve cuts of prime lean Stray Cats is expected and to be fair the trio duly delivers the goods  No special guests, no studio trickery – No autotune no sirs. It’s not so much the standard Rockabilly tunes that do it for me either, it’s the curveballs that I’m gonna champion.

Sure they kick off in super safe territory with the familiar shuffle of ‘Cat Fight’, ‘Rock It Off’ and ‘Got Love If You Want It’.  All fairly safe even if they’re done to perfection this is the stuff these three can do in their sleep.  It’s the rougher ‘Cry Danger’ that sets this record alight for me with its rolling guitar lick from Setzer and the cool backbeat that makes it a fine fine tune. Some impressive guitar playing from one of the greats but very understated.  A top tune.

To follow that with the excellent ‘I Attract Trouble’ which is the coolest song they’ve come up with for many a year.  again a great riff and throwing in a ‘pipeline’ riff as the swamp tone is smokin’.  You can settle down then for some classic rock and roll fifties style with ‘When Nothing Going Right’ being an uptempo song that’s cool as but I’m not sure there was any need to throw in a mid-tempo instrumental in the middle with ‘Desperado’ but hey nobody said it was perfect.

If you’re looking for that smoldering ballad to close this bad boy then have a word with yourself because ‘I’ll Be Looking Out For You’ is a mean uptempo scorcher and one of the best tunes on offer and its a joy to hear Setzer let rip on that old Gretsch of his but they leave no room for a soft song for tough guys instead ‘Devils Train’ is swashbuckling and a really good ending to a well above average record.  I was hoping it was going to be good but I think to be fair its exceeded my expectations, by including a few really good songs that aren’t so formulaic and honoring that traditional 50s structure is great to hear even after all these years that The Stray Cats can challenge themselves whilst keeping the quality of the songs so high.  So ’40’ is a big Yes from me and if you like a bit of old school teaching you new tricks in these fast-moving times then you won’t go far wrong with this new Stray Cats record.

Buy ’40’ Here

Facebook

Author: Dom Daley

The Making Of ’40’

Watch behind the scenes of the making of '40'

Posted by Stray Cats on Monday, 11 March 2019

Not been so wet recently as summer seems to have graced Shit Island so let’s give you a few tunes to mull over on your Monday travels to work.  first up from Derby brothers Johnny and George Marriott, PET NEEDS play fractured party music (apparently)  so you decide but we think ‘How To Perfectly Pretend’ is a pretty good introduction to the band that I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a lot more form.

 

 

If that didn’t impress you how about this bunch of loons. Dboys is the name punk fuckin’ rock is their game.  Check out this video before we hit you with a live review this very week.

Finally, take a squizz at this absolute cracker courtesy of Hillbilly Moon Explosion.  Sparky from Demented Are Go features on ‘Jackson’ taken from their new album out this week on Jungle records.

 

When this tour was officially announced I think just about everybody connected with RPM, booked their tickets for a venue somewhere in the UK, not just for a re-invigorated Wildhearts, but to check out the late addition of Towers of London to open the proceedings.

 

As the time approached I got really excited by the thought of a night with such a variety of music on one bill!

 

It’s been a while since I caught up with the Wildhearts live, I’ve dipped in and out of them since the early days, (I remember catching them supporting a fledgling Manic Street Preachers in Cardiff University) as well as numerous festival and venue appearances, even catching Ginger on his Ghost in the Tanglewood foray into Americana. But the real kicker for me was the addition of Towers of London to this 3 band bill. I’d never managed to catch them back at the height of their notoriety, when they were being touted as Britain’s answer to G’N’R, it seemed like every week they’d hit the press with their latest outrageous incident or behavior, building to a frenzy that resulted in the group exploding, the music they created actually getting lost in the carnage.

Opening with “I’m a Rat” I think you could have picked my jaw off the floor, and I think the smile just got bigger as the gig went on. I couldn’t believe how tight and in your face the music sounded, how focused the musicianship and how much the band seemed to be enjoying things. Do you know what that enjoyment spread to an ever-increasing crowd and by the time we hit set closer “Fuck it up” the audience was well involved. To me, it seemed that the band had relaxed, stopped playing up to a tabloid image and were there for the music, for the crowd and to give things a real shot. It will be interesting to see in the future the support slots they pick up and if rumours are confirmed there’s a real biggie coming up which will connect them to an audience better suited to their brand of Punk/R’n’R. But ultimately if the new LP due hits the heights of this live performance they’ll be headlining SWX in their own right.

 

In the lull between Towers of London and Massive Wagons, I had cause to smile at a conversation between two Massive Wagons fans, noticeable by the T-Shirts about how easy it had been to get tickets for the Pink gig in Cardiff! Made me think about how diverse their audience is and how easily they could cross into the mainstream, which they seem to make a hell of a fist of doing. Now at this point I feel I have to be upfront and honest, I don’t particularly like their take on classic Rock, don’t get me wrong they are great at what they do but for me music has to have a sprinkle of stardust, something that sets it aside, an edge if you like, there is no edge to Massive Wagons.

Nothing I saw in the stage show changed my mind in any way, but I was very much in the minority, they went down a storm.

Waiting for the main Act to hit the stage thoughts drifted to what type of Wildhearts performance we were going to get, I needn’t have worried, with the p.a. turned up to 11 they hit the stage to a storming version of “Dislocated” from the new LP Renaissance men, and the drive and energy of the band hit you straight away, what an aural onslaught! Every time I catch the Wildhearts live my thoughts is always how clever the band is, how catchy the songs and how huge they should be, maybe this LP will put them right on the top of the pile.

Rolling into “Suckerpunch”, leading on to “Sick of Drugs” you could feel the paint peeling from the wall’s, this was one of those performances that made a statement. Without going into every song, I don’t think there was a weak track played or performed tonight, standouts in the main set for me? “Urge”, “Caffeine bomb” and “Love you til I don’t”.

But the band weren’t done we had a monster encore with “The Renaissance men” followed by “Someone that won’t let go”, “You took the Sunshine from New York,” “Mazel Tov Cocktail”, “My Baby is a Headfuck” and the evergreen” I Wanna go where the people go”.

The Earth definitely needs the Wildhearts/ Rock and Roll needs the Wildhearts, especially a Wildhearts, flat out, throttle down, focused and delivering an LP as consistently powerful as this newbie. Happy days!!!!!

Author: Nev Brooks

Buy ‘Renaissance Men’ HERE

 

 

 

 

 

The Wildhearts are riding on the crest of a wave right now. ‘Renaissance Men’, their first album in 10 years is an absolute monster, it’s currently at number 11 in the album charts and at least 3 of these 8 dates to promote it are already sold out.

It’s not just a good time to be a Wildheart either; it’s a good time to be a Wildhearts fan. With a sizeable chunk of the back catalogue getting re-mastered and re-issued on deluxe vinyl and the promise of plenty more dates this year, it is also an expensive time to be a Wildhearts fan, but we wouldn’t want it any other way would we? In 2019, there is more interest and more excitement about this band than I can ever remember.

Re-united and re-invigorated, the classic line-up of The Wildhearts is back, but are they back for good? Only time will tell. While this current wave of excitement could open doors and see great opportunities for a band who, let’s face it, have certainly paid their dues, I keep getting this niggling feeling that it could all go drastically tits up at any moment. So let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Talking of things going tits up… fuckin’ Towers Of London are back! Where the hell did that come from?  The original line-up that recorded the most excellent debut album ‘Blood, Sweat & Towers’ and then proceeded to burn out in a blaze of arrests and fisticuffs, are back together. There’s new music on the way too, they have unfinished business to attend to. What a time to be a rock ‘n’ roll fan!

Donny Tourette and the boys take to the stage with air raid sirens blaring and fire straight into ‘I’m A Rat’. It sounds fuckin’ ace! Dressed in matching black boiler suits and shorn of the gravity-defying hair of ten years ago, they may look a bit different, but with a newly reinstated The Rev delivering cool licks and a bare-chested Snell bashing seven shades of shit out of his kit, the band are on fire and looking like they really mean it.

While Donny’s nonchalant punk attitude is more Gallagher than Iggy, the delivery is still fantastic. ‘Beaujolais’ is punked-up to the max goodness, and newbie ‘Get Yourself Out Of Here’ with its chanting chorus and sleazy delivery is full of the right kind of attitude, it promises much for the new album.

A blistering version of ‘Fuck It Up’ surely silences any non-believers in the room and ends a high energy set from a band that is truly back to their best form.

While Towers Of London are not the fucked up kids of yesteryear, they have matured, learned a few things, but still have that edginess I desire from sleazy punk rock. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no one can deny they were spot on tonight.

Whether they’ve got the new songs to rival the likes of the fantastic ‘Air Guitar’ or ‘On A Noose’ we will see, but I for one can’t wait to find out. Bring on new music, headline gigs and world domination then.

Now, if someone could please explain the appeal of Massive Wagons I would be most grateful, as I don’t get them at all. I’ve tried, but they are just not for me. A band fronted by a diminutive Game Of Thrones extra who sounds like Biff Byford, backed by a band who look like they scan your shopping in Aldi, call me fussy but…

Joking aside, in a live setting I can’t really fault them. They have energy, I’ll give them that much. Baz is an animated frontman and a loveable character, who can work a crowd and The Wildhearts crowd seems to love them. But that’s not enough. It would probably be ok if they had the songs, but for me, Massive Wagons just don’t have the songs, pure and simple.

I’ve seen them live several times now and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m afraid to say I head for the bar not long into their set. Most Massive Wagons reviews I’ve read are positive, with many citing them ‘retro’. Me, I cite them ‘dated’. And in my defence I present their closing song ‘Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum’ as evidence, the cheesiest song I’ve heard in many years, and on that note I rest my case.

In all my years of seeing Wildhearts live shows, I can honestly say I have never seen a bad one, come to think of it I have never seen even an average live performance from Ginger and co, whatever the line-up has been.

Tonight is no exception, in fact tonight is probably the best I have seen them. It’s up there with the hot and sweaty Bristol Bierkeller show of ’94, its as heavy and loud as Edinburgh and Glasgow were in 2004, and it’s even as euphoric as the Chutzpah! show in Leeds 10 years ago.

From the moment Ginger cranks out that opening riff to ‘Dislocated’, the place goes nuts. Such a great response to a new song. A relentless cacophony of riffs and melodies that has the pit bouncing as one, signaling that this brand new song is already classed as a fan favourite.

It leads perfectly into ‘Everlone’, ‘Vanilla Radio’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ all delivered in quick succession, leaving no time to talk or even breathe. Going with the theme of ‘Renaissance Men’ it is a well chosen, heavy set of songs tonight. Mixing it up nicely, there are a few surprises in amongst the usual live favourites. ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ and ‘Jackson Whites’ are especially awesome and even ‘Urge’, which I imagined would be a disjointed mess, actually sounds amazing.

Bearing in mind that most people have only had ‘Renaissance Men’ in their ears for a week, the new songs get a great response. ‘Let ‘em Go’ was always going to go down well, it’s got a stadium-sized chorus that is up there with their finest hits. But it is ’Diagnosis’ that probably gets the best response of the whole night. What a fucking tune live! The way they build that AC/DC style riff to gain momentum, before releasing that main hook on an unsuspecting crowd, who in turn go absolutely bat-shit crazy for it. It’s a great feeling being right in the middle of the chaos for the duration. Like being a teenager discovering live music for the first time, all over again.

The band seems truly invigorated and on fire. Ginger and CJ’s vocals are spot on and the pair are full of energy, bashing out riffs and jumping in unison, giving photographers every opportunity to capture that elusive jump shot.

With bassist Danny McCormack now fit enough to make it through a whole set without needing his stool is a big, big thing. The loveable Geordie with a big heart and an even bigger bass sound just brings something special to The Wildhearts and it’s a joy to see him back where he belongs.

Post encore, the band mime through a version of ‘The Renaissance Men’ which is being videoed for a commercial single release on each night of the tour. Bit weird for all concerned, but the show doesn’t suffer or lose momentum.

A five-song encore is pretty good value at any show and with the likes of ‘Mazel  Tov Cocktail’, ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’  rounding the evening off nicely, who could ask for more?

 

Where The Wildhearts go from here is anyone’s guess, but my advice is to go out of your way, sell your children or steal money if you have to, but whatever you do, do not miss The Wildhearts live right now, as they are on top of their game.

 

Buy Renaissance Men HERE

Author: Ben Hughes

Photographs: Neil Vary

As part of one of my son’s activities at school, I was recently in a theater filled with elementary school age children and parents watching the new kids’ movie ‘Ugly Dolls.’ It obviously would not be a movie I would be watching if my wife and I didn’t have children, but the time as a family is priceless. I am sometimes amazed by how much I know about Peppa the Pig, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and the like. I have seen Thomas the Train and the Cat in the Hat get eclipsed over time with these other shows and movie characters.

 

I have lamented the lack of importance and value of music in today’s world. There seem to be fewer and fewer well-known bands and artists creating a legacy and leaving an imprint than in previous generations. Over the years, music has been a powerful tool for people from a personal level to a societal level. It has provided comfort to us when needed to help us in our times of need as well as been a soundtrack for great moments. It has courted the ire of the powers that be due to its ability to unite people behind a common goal   It has been condemned as a tool of a devil and the inspiration for teenage debauchery. I love going back through time and discovering old music. Time machines do not exist, but there is something magical about losing myself in old songs and imagining life at that time, whether it is Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, or another artist. I love knowing what was happening at the time, what inspired the songs, and information about the artists. Those artists have also transcended time and continue to be widely known.

 

I do not see music resonating with as many people the same way today though. Music has become an inessential afterthought to the mainstream in many ways. With the internet, we have lost some of the iconic moments such as what it meant to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, being the musical artist on Saturday Night Live, having a video world premier on MTV, etc. These were significant things in our culture in the past. Musical genre did not matter as there were stars in seemingly every genre who would cross lines in terms of popularity. For example, I did not listen to country but knew who the artists were. In the 80’s, I was mainly a metal head, but my seeds of listening to everything were also planted at that time. I was listening to oldies as well as bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, INXS, and NWA. I didn’t realize at the time just how costly this form of salvation would cost me in the years to come. I even got an electric guitar around the age of 14 and had to come to grips with a hard truth- I have not one ounce of musical talent anywhere in my body. It did not stop me though from creating my own rock band in my head, writing songs (lyrics), and imagining giving interviews. After all, I had read that was what Joe Elliot of Def Leppard had done when he was younger.

I wasn’t thinking about any of this when the movie started the other night. I was wondering how loud all the kids would be during the movie, how bad the storm was outside, which way to go if one of my kids needed to go to the bathroom, and a hundred other thoughts. We sat through what seemed like 20 previews before ‘Ugly Dolls’ finally started. Almost immediately, we had the main character starting to sing a song and then other characters were contributing lines to the song. While I will say the poppy genre didn’t do it for me, I appreciated that it began with a song. Pretty soon, we had another song and then another.

 

Each song propelled the narrative in a way to engage the kids’ attention. My mind began to go down other avenues now where I thought about so many of the other animated movies and the songs that are attached to them. I have never been unfortunate enough to sit through ‘Frozen,’ but I know the hook from ‘Let It Go’ like it has been cut into my brain with a rusty nail. I can still hear the ‘Thomas the Train’ theme in my head. Just think of all the music in ‘Shrek,’ it is one of the reasons I really liked the movie. When ‘Trolls’ was recently released, both of my kids loved the music and wanted the soundtrack so they could sing along. If they hear any of the songs from the movie, they are dancing, singing, and letting me know it is from ‘Trolls.’ With all this flooding my mind, I started wondering where we are losing our passion for music and our willingness to support the artists. Kids obviously still love music. On a side note, one of my favorite scenes from ‘The Hangover’ is when Stu sings his short song while the tiger passes out from the roofies.

 

Twice per week, my son has a music class where he is exposed to different musical instruments and songs. They learn to sing songs, and some of them perform for us during the school year. I remember doing the same thing when I was in elementary school and thinking ‘Silver Bells’ was the best Christmas song in the world. I can’t tell you why; there was just something about it at that time. Band was important, even at that age to many students as they were already playing instruments, even if it wasn’t always what they wanted to be doing. Now, we have education budgets under fire with the arts being one of the first to always be on the cutting board. Perhaps, that was the same in the ’80s, and it just wasn’t part of my world at the time as I was too busy in sports to think about trying to play music. I can’t help but think though that it is part of where music as a cultural phenomena is struggling. It is being minimized, and that message is making it down to the kids.

Another possible factor is truly ironic to me. We have too much music which truly spreads popularity across so many artists that there are fewer and fewer icons. For those of us that love music, we are constantly discovering new bands and artists from all over the world. Within a day, I may discover several bands that I love such as the Dead Furies from Estonia or the Fadeaways from Japan. I might not have ever heard of these bands though back before the Internet. I am incredibly happy to have found them because I love the music. It can start to spread us thin though because there are only so many hours in a day. This month I find myself extremely excited that there are four new releases released I have been anticipating- the Darts, the Wildhearts, the Sweet Things, and the Glam Skanks. I imagine there will be someone else that suddenly appears which will also connect with me. How do I find the time to listen to all of them? Seriously, I am open to ideas on this one as the Darts and Wildhearts are already on constant rotation.

 

As the final song in ‘Ugly Dolls’ set up the final scene where the doll’s dream of being with a child is realized, I was pulled out of my thoughts and back to the hustle and bustle of getting out of the theater. I ultimately have hope that kids today will help us rediscover music and get it back to where it belongs in society. There is something to be said about people being able to remember more through the power of music such as recent studies of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have revealed.

 

I don’t think the platform to truly demonstrate the power of music has found itself again yet. Print magazines have sadly continued to disappear with the decline of book stores making that even more prevalent. We have wonderful music sites like this one, but we need to be in front of more people. We can be an excellent conduit for new music to the people who try and say there is no great music being made. It is being made, and it can be found all around the globe. It just takes a little more digging because it is not in heavy rotation on MTV or all over magazines at the check stands. People also do not have the record stores to lose themselves in and discover a hidden gem. The music is out there though. Let’s each make sure that we remember to tell others what music means to us, what music moves us, and why we need it in our lives.

 

Author: Gerald Stansbury