Its been a while. No doubt about it.

This is the Eleventh studio album from Pretenders and I can honestly say I’ve not felt a real buzz off one of their records coming out since the second one came out way back in 1981 almost forty years ago! Gulp.  sure they’ve hit paydirt in the pop charts since but they’ve not really dished out a record bristling with top tunes, until now that is. Damn, On the second single off the album ‘The Buzz’ shes even managed to recreate the vibe of ‘Kid’ on that guitar break. It appears that the past might have been embraced and maybe explored in order to strip back those past forty years to create ‘Hate For Sale’ which seems an odd title because there seems to be an overwhelming “love” going on.

The other noticeable feature is a sparkling production that lets everything breathe where it needs to and the crunchy dirty bits are backstreet dirty and not polished into oblivion fake dirty.

Hyndes vocals are as good as they ever were sounding fresh and captivating and at times comforting.

In the first four tracks, you have everything that made the original line up such a great band. A roaring call to arms on the intro track and album title followed by the more pop-friendly ‘The Buzz’ Something different and maybe a little risky in ‘Lightning Man’ and the rock-solid handclap heavy ‘Turf Accountant Daddy’ then to close off side one the retro pop ballad of ‘You Can’t Hurt A Fool’ which might be the weakest on side one with its soul trappings but Hyndes vocal is exceptional and delivers a stunning performance that elevates the whole song which is anything but tokenistic.

 

It’s great to drop the needle onto side two and hear the power chords clash and strut on ‘I Don’t Know When To Stop’ enhanced with some great gob iron blowing and a bowery staggering solo. Then to bump straight into ‘Maybe Love Is In NYC’ which makes a great dive bar buddie maybe not as strong but great to hear those guitars being rinsed with passion and some attack.

Chrissie Hynde might well have found her Mojo and really delivered a great record.  there isn’t one weak track on offer and whilst side two might lack the variety that you have on the opening few songs they are immensely enjoyable like the punky hand jive of ‘Don’t Want To Be This Lonely’. To be fair the piano balladeering of the albums closer ‘Crying In Public’ had to be and the strings and big chords make it listenable without becoming lush or too polished and it retains the feel of the rest of the record and has grit and charm.

Pretenders have turned back the clock and knocked out one of 202s finest records without any shadow of a doubt.  It’s short, sharp and exactly the pick me up needed during this oddest of summers. Something new with an old feel that’s comforting and downright bloody entertaining. ‘Hate For Sale’? Yes please.

 

Buy ‘Hate For Sale’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

 

Since their 2018 masterpiece ‘Here Come…’ Tommy and the gang have been knocking out their impressive Hooligan pop.  I like that, I like that a lot and I like Tommy & The Commies a lot as well and they play Hooligan pop for sure, its a perfect genre for their sound and captures what it is they do to a tee.

‘Hurtin’ 4 Certain’ is their time capsule to the global lockdown and kicks the shit outta any blues one might have for normal life being put into quarantine for the time being.  The opening track whilst the inevitable comparisons to Buzzcocks and The Jam ring out and so they should there is a real vintage Undertones clang happening here as well.  It’s like Tommy has slipped on some magical snorkel jacket and in the pocket there’s a magical mixtape to those that paved the way back in the ’70s & ’80s. but if you’re going to start your EP off with intent then ‘Hurtin 4 Certain’ is a bloody barnstormer.

‘Impulse Action’ is a snotty pogo with a chorus you want to punch the air too and lace up your martins and turn up the volume this is a blast.  From the Gatlin gun guitar chords being churned out the gang vocals are easy to remember and a lot of fun. ‘Power On Standby’ has a bit of a mod vibe about it imagine walking into a house party in Brighton in the ’60s and these goons are holding court in the backroom and ‘Power On Standby’ is churning the room as sweaty bodies cut loose.  Great stuff! This EP is shaking off any cobwebs or misery a pandemic can leave after three months.

Finally taking this bad boy home is the juddering riffola of ‘One Arch Town’ and I’m hearing early gen X going on as the song unfolds towards the chorus it’s a beautiful thing hearing a bunch of hooligans kick up a shit storm of Rock and Roll like this.  sure it’s nothing new and it’s not groundbreaking but you know what?  Sometimes, it’s nice to just kick out the jams motherfuckers and this hooligan pop lark has got me a buzzin’  Check em out they deserve that much at least.

 

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Author: Dom Daley

Is this Power Pop?

A question that is often all caps shouted across screens by keyboard warriors defending their record collection decisions.

Power Pop. A holy grail whose contents are loudly proclaimed obvious (depending who ya ask) and essential.  Apparently sacred (yet neverendingly argued) since the storied days of Peter Case losing his Nerves to then lace up his Plimsouls. Somehow important yet almost impossible to achieve… one wrong move, a drink too far, a chord eschewing a jangle and you’re “just rock n roll”.

Or so it seems…

The Speedways. The members languidly lean on the bars of darkened London pubs or float like spectres in corners of Some Weird Sin and Garageland gigs. Striped shirts and leather jackets. Dirty street-tamed Chucks and scuffed Thunders boots carry them from one late night heartache to another.

They are true believers who take their turn on stage with hearts outshining the Cheap Trick badges.

Heart.

How do you capture it? How do you?

This album is a stellar example of doing just that. It is the emotion, the essence of love (lost and yearned for) that makes special songs, damn the torpedoes and neat classifications.

This is their second full-length album and the growth since ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is apparent right off the opening track. ‘This Ain’t A Radio Sound’ opens with a playful ‘80’s Cars ‘Heartbeat City’ keyboard that is somehow right at home alongside the dirty street jangle of Mauro Venegas’ guitars. Then Matthew Julian saunters in, his vocals accomplishing a feat in common with that of my favourite singers. It is instantly recognisable. Equal parts world-weary and up to the fight. Like how Phil Lynott would somehow whisper your thoughts back to you. At once like a friend and someone you wish you had the nerve to approach. A very rare and special dichotomy that gains trust from the listener. People will say you’re born with that. I can see here that you can earn it.

‘The Day I Call You Mine’ shakes off the skinny tie and gets tough. And sweet. The rhythm section of Kris Hood and Adrian Alfonso are like a modern day Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Taking the gorgeous songcraft and walking it home like schoolyard best friend bodyguards. In fact, every melody and arpeggiated chord on this long-player is kept safe in their scrappy hands.

“Daydreaming’ opens with razor-sharp back alley chords and a streetwise snarl that has me all of a sudden thinking, “Is this ROCK N ROLL???”

Speaking of that… ‘Your Brown Eyes Look So Blue’ comes dangerously close to sounding like a forgotten outtake from the soundtrack to “Grease”. High School dancing itself right to the edge of the parking lot of kitsch to puke, but teetering there and miraculously feeling much better, thank you! It was a close one boys, but then again, some imminent peril makes albums and nights out exciting.

The track order on this album has a great arch to it. The way it builds to a cinematic centrepiece starting from the dreamy fade into focus intro of ‘This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun’. It builds wonderfully into widescreen guitar pop. The song takes you off the dusty and noisy summer city streets and into the cinema to catch your breath and “to stop taking it out on yourself” as Matthew reminds you in the lyrics.

The exuberance of ‘Number Seven’ kicks the cinema doors wide open and the sunlight comes streaming through. We’re in The Speedways’ neighbourhood now, and there’s a place they know that’s perfect for an afternoon drink. Matthew puts his arm around you on the walk and lets ya know that you’ll get by… it doesn’t matter who believes you.

Another standout track is the band next door sound of ‘Empty Pages’. Effortlessly cool and just the right riff for just the right lyrics (“On Halloween I couldn’t hide”… who hasn’t felt that way? Vulnerable and surrounded by Pound Shop devils and clowns) The song is the sound of hanging out. Pure and simple.

The whole set does an excellent job of establishing a recognisable sound while crossing gang lines into territories that may feel like defection. The early Petty and almost ‘50s stomp intro of ‘Had Enough This Time’ giving way to a sun shower of cascading guitar shimmer and a riff that steps right off a beach to join in? Really? It works. Really well.

The album closer, the rather magnificently titled ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’, is a perfect bookend. A pocket symphony of guitars that shine like the afternoon sun reflected off a Camaro’s dashboard. Its harmonies sonically answer Julian’s proclamation, “I thought I was the only one to feel this way, until…” with the easy embrace of a close pal.

No. You’re not the only one who does, Matthew. You just have a timeless way of expressing it. Your band is right there with you bringing these songs into brilliant focus as well.

Pretty happy that a band like this exists, making albums to this calibre.

It sounds awfully good with a cold one or a double too!

OH! Power Pop?

I ain’t getting’ into that! Whaddya think, I’m crazy?

 

Buy Beluga Records Here / Speedways Bandcamp Vinyl Here

Author: Rich Ragany

Feels a bit weird yet fitting that I’m reviewing the Doojimans debut record (of sorts) second after reviewing their second release first.  Cofused? You will be but I doubt Doojiman and the gang would want it any other way.

Doojiman and his side kick Woogie Wombach grabbed a few space cadets and space cakes before heading into outter space to see if they could pull together something from the influences they had here on earth like The Ramones, MC5 and The Stooges but they weren’t just going to ape their idols they were going to throw their own shapes into the bowl and mix a fucked up salad all by themselves

With a bunch of EP’s, singles and two full-length albums under their belts (including ‘Electric Boogaloo’, released in January of this year by Beluga Records), Heavy Medication is bringing Stockholm’s D&TE’s debut digital-only e.p. from 2014 to vinyl for the first time and rockin up at Heavy Medications Door seems just about right and par for the course, to be honest.

From its opening chords, the “Watch Out! Look Out!” EP is everything as good as the ‘Electric Bugaloo’ album make no mistake about that. Its not just the debut EP though to be fair it also has the added bonus of four extra tracks (including a Nobunny cover) to make this another album they will certainly have orbiting around the end of the year best albums list. From the fuzzed-up organ heaving of opener ‘Woogie Wombach’ this record just motors. ‘(I Wanna Go) Take Me Away’ is a throbbing mass of Ramones angst being whipped by a Quo like twelve-bar chug.

They fly the Hives flag on ‘Doojiwoman’ and that filthy bass on ‘I Love It When You Hate Me’ would have been terrifying in the swinging ’60s where it was surely born.  It’s like the Kinks on bad Acid but they’ve still got their mojo baby.

It’s not all crash bang wallop though kids, of course, it’s not as the band tackle the Nobunny tune ‘Apple Tree’ with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and some tasteful percussion and shimmering electric to puncture the chorus. but before things are brought to a close they venture off through late seventies NYC where they tune their antenna to something Blondie used to ply through the airwaves.  Basically another top tune amongst an album full of top tunes but I expected nothing less.  Sign me up scotty for the next one I can’t get enough of these crazy cats.  Signing off starlog 2020 scribe Daley signing out!  Buy it.

Buy ‘Watch Out Look Out’ Here or from Beluga Records outta Sweden Here

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Author: Dom Daley

Nick Marsh was known best as founding member of ’80s Goth Rockers Flesh for Lulu, singing lead vocals and playing guitar on hits like ‘I Go Crazy’ and ‘Postcards from Paradise’. He was also a vital ingredient in the Urban Voodoo Machine’s “bourbon-soaked gypsy blues”, Perhaps the perfect foil for Frontmany Paul-Ronny Angel his cool smoldering guitar licks added a fine blend of quality and panache. Sadly, all that had gone before was brought crashing to a halt as Nick battled with illness. Tragically Nick died of cancer in 2015, He left the world this celebrated musical legacy and in 2010 he released the dark classic record that was ‘A Universe Between Us’, his much-loved solo debut.

Now a decade later we get the treat that is ‘Waltzing Bones’. Produced and co-arranged by his partner and musical collaborator Katharine Blake (Mediaeval Baebes and Miranda Sex Garden), the album includes tracks that were fully formed before Nick’s death as well as some that Katharine crafted around Nick’s vocals and his core melodies in a way she believes he would have liked.

The album features her vocal and instrumental contributions, as well as those of a stellar cast of some of the finest friends and musicians including David Ryder Prangley (Rachel Stamp), Ray Hanson (Thee Hypnotics), Nick Reynolds (Alabama 3), Paul-Ronney Angel (The Urban Voodoo Machine), Jim Jones (The Jim Jones Review and Thee Hypnotics), Clifford Slapper (Bowie Songs One) and Charlie Cawood (Mediaeval Baebes).

Waltzing Bones is eleven songs that soundtrack the late nights from the opening ‘Masquerade’  with its spiraling piano rolls on the intro its a perfect Nick Marsh track that’s painting landscapes with his softly hushed lyrics.  Like a fine accompanying red wine, it’s a faint hint of the smoldering ashtray as the skies break and a clear twinkling of stars smile in the black night,  it’s a beautiful opener that’s for sure. Real hair on the back of one’s neck stood to attention moment.

That panoramic widescreen feel was always one of Marsh’s fortes and even on the Hits, there was a grande world view like a chic Cannes flick as opposed to a popcorn Westend multiplex vibe it’s always been sophisticated subtitled black and white or sepia tones.

Blakes soaring vocals are the perfect foil for Marsh’s hushed style is a wonderful thing on ‘Gotta Run’.  It’s sometimes a worry when a recording is posthumously released but this is a joy, a real pleasure the wheeze box and horns of ‘Somma Ma Friends’ and its Jazzy vibe remind me of some of Daniel Ash’s work but I’d rather have some vocals if I’m honest.  The western desert-like feel of ‘Temptation’ is a chance for Marsh to pull off his best Barroom croon.  ‘The Day It Rained Forever’ could have fallen off the Suicide Twins Album or a lost Tom Waits album minus the bourbon-soaked piano top.  In contrast, the guitar amps are turned up to Bolan Boogie levels for ‘Crazy Eyes’.

‘Spider Woman’ is more of that old jazz then the ‘Shiny Void’ is an epic six-minute nylon strung and hushed soundscapes kinda’ tune. Which only leaves the title track to sign of this marvelous piece of work.  I don’t think Marsh ever made a bad record and I’m sure he’d be proud to have this released in his name at time beautiful, often tinged with sadness but always exceptional. Thanks to all involved there is a star that will shine brightly in the night sky every time I pour a red and toast the unique talent with another spin of this album. Buy It!

Buy ‘Waltzing Bones’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

Something for the Week sir? how about the brand new cartoon video from The Cutthroat Brothers?  Of course here goes.

Next how about some Dizzy Reed and his Hookers & Blow jazz up the Stones classic ‘Rocks Off’

Finally this week we bring you the brand new video from Bullets & Octanes  “Riot Riot N Roll” the band have released a new single and  video for “Ain’t Gonna Be Your Dog”:

This video was shot at the legendary Berlin punk club, ‘Wild at Heart’ on the first night of the tour. Burlesque troupe The Velvet Creepers joined the band on stage that night. The track is taken from their second album ‘Taste For Evil’ released on Hound Gawd! Records and was reviewed Here   During the global lockdown the band released an excellent live album recorded on their recent European Tour check out the review and link to buy it Here 

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Oh yeah, groovy baby! Australia seems to be at the centre of a lot of whats happening in rock and roll from punk and new wave to rock and further afield so when I got the new Datura4 album to review I kinda put it off for a while what with the psychedelic quotes and a few bits and pieces I’d heard but Alive has always put out quality music and I love some of the rock and roll records they’ve been behind so after reading up on these cats I decided to clear my schedule and dive in.

Starting off with the title track its less Psycadelic than I was expecting and whilst there are swirling keyboards and sound effects once they get their groove on it’s obvious that Datura4 know how to rock and roll. After the intro they step back into the ’70s for a punchy groove that they keep up towards the catchy chorus.  Impressive stuff to be fair and power pop with the melodies and roots that belong in the garage without it tucking up the MC5 or Birdman.  I think the titles might be a bit misleading and playful but the harmonica howling on ‘Wolfman Woogie’ is a great sound.  I think these cats like to Rock out rather than wig out and keep it laid back when they need to and cut loose when they want as well.

‘Mother Medusa’ sounds like the riff Lenny Kravitz had when he wanted people to go his way but it’s a great groove.  They come over all Gillan on the spacey ‘You’re The Only One’.  They sound like a Cream inspired barroom blues combo on the retro bustin’ ‘Rule My World’ now turn up those fuzz pedals and honk on that gob iron!

‘Give’ sounds like their take on Neil Young with added swirling organ which I’m sure Young would approve of. It’s classic retro Rock and Roll for sure but the acoustic guitar take it somewhere else other than down a simple rock route.

Before they check out ‘You Be The Fool’ is Bolan boogie and my pick of the pops on offer on this retro ride if it weren’t for the excellent barroom rocker ‘Get Out’ that follows.  Simple – melodic and a great bit of boogie woogie on that joanna.  I’ve enjoyed this trip and as a result, I’m digging into their extensive catalogue to see what else they have to offer.

Ten songs of variety and played by consummate professionals who’ve been doing this Rock and Roll thang for long enough they clearly love the sounds they create and live it to the max they give it that warm retro feel and are proud to don the aviator shades, bellbottoms and big furry handlebars If I’m wrong I’ll eat my Boss fuzz pedal and a whole Wurlitzer organ.

Buy ‘ West Coast Highway Cosmic’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

By 1980 the UK’s finest purveyors of ‘erbert rock Sham 69 were all but a spent force. Singer Jimmy Pursey having long since become disillusioned with Sham chose the start of a new decade and the release of the band’s fourth album (‘The Game’) as a platform from which to announce his intentions to pursue a solo career (by way of a previously failed attempt to team up with Steve Jones and Paul Cook as Sham Pistols in 1979). Thus, leaving the remaining Sham members Dave Parsons (guitar), Dave Tregunna (bass) and (drummer) Rick (Goldstein) Rock singer-less and wondering what the hell to do next.

Quickly hooking up with (ex-The Dead Boys) frontman Stiv Bators (I’ll not share the story here of how this came about as the excellent Dave Parsons penned sleeve notes included in this reissue pick up on the finer detail) The Wanderers were soon born and signing to (Sham’s old label) Polydor they were dispatched to write and record what would become their one and only album ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’.

Having long since been out of print on any format (copies of the original LP and the reissue CD are currently going for around £40 online) and as such deemed very much a “collector’s item” amongst fans ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is thankfully now being given a long overdue reissue on vinyl (pressed up on a variety of random colours) by US label Gutterwail Records. I myself finally picked up a CD copy (released via Captain Oi! here in the UK) over a decade ago at Rebellion Festival for the princely sum of £5 and it’s still very much one of those go to albums in my collection, when someone asks that well-worn conundrum of “what band do you think should have been huge but never actually made it?”

Expanded here to fourteen tracks and finally including the (rumoured to be) lost track ‘They Made Me A Criminal’ which bizarrely had its lyrics printed on the original Polydor LP sleeve but was never included in the final track listing, this reissue offers up the chance for a whole new generation of fans to experience perhaps the definitive version of this much overlooked “cult classic”.

Sounding not unlike a poppier version of the band Bators and Tregunna would go on to form just a few years later it’s the Mick Glossop production on ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ that immediately has me wondering if had been building himself up for the bass and drums onslaught he would bestow on Waysted’s classic ‘Vices’ album just a few years later,  as here it’s the keyboards and trebly edge on cuts like ‘It’s All The Same’ and the parp-tastic ‘A Little Bit Frightening’ that tend to catch the ear.

In fairness (keyboards aside) the same production does give the album a kind of “timeless” charm and cuts like the Sham Boys crescendo of opener ‘No Dreams’, the glorious two minute pogo-pop overload of ‘Beyond The Law’ plus the superb proto Lords punks of ‘Ready To Snap’ all have me wondering what it would have been like to have seen The Wanderers live with the energy levels cranked to the max. Likewise the likes of ‘Sold Your Soul For Fame’, ‘It’s All The Same’ and  the aforementioned (faithfully restored from cassette) ‘They Made Me A Criminal’ add a depth and maturity to the songwriting that belies the band’s fledgling tenure.

I’m not entirely sure where the source of this reissue was taken from but my promo MP3s feature a couple of light pops and crackles – something that the Captain Oi! CD never had – and this makes me think it must have been taken from the original vinyl or perhaps the promo itself is a rip from a re-pressed LP? Either way, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is an excellent album, and is most certainly one every self-respecting fan of Sham 69 and The Lords Of The New Church should have in their collection.

Buy the record: Here (USA)

Buy the record: Here (Europe)

Author: Johnny Hayward

Their first album in almost 30 years, since releasing 1991’s World Outside and splitting up soon after. Reuniting early on in the Millenium, existing as a touring entity only, I was genuinely surprised to hear that the band had signed an album deal as I always assumed there was no appetite to record new material. With the bands last commercial peak being 1987s Midnight to Midnight they were seemingly destined to remain a nostalgia act spending a majority of their time on the road in the U.S.
 
A strong opener in “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll”, a great layer of brooding synth showing growth in their song output and even having a bit of a Dark Wave element. “Don’t Believe” is the established first single released back in January. It really sits in the foundations of classic non-pop Furs, which makes recent single “You’ll Be Mine” even more of a disappointment. It’s a limp number at best.
“Wrong Train” kicks off like a New Order football jingle though quickly detours into a bitter-sweet, epic confessional. Speaking of pills, car crashes and turmoil amid filthy guitar and sax duels. An absolute stand out track. The only low here being when it finally ends, though “This’ll Never Be Like Love” drags you into a somewhat beautiful pit of despair. The track really does hark back to the sound of their last two (criminally overlooked) albums.
“Ash Wednesday” has the same level of brood, but at over 5 minutes it never really goes anywhere and it’s a bit much to take. It’s the same case for “Come All Ye Faithful”, trying to be direct and edgy but coming across very much like filler material. “No-One” thankfully grabs us by the scruff of the neck and puts us back on course, giving us Richards Butler’s dark cacophony of lamenting croons.
“Tiny Hands” is very American rock radio commerciality straight out of the gates. It’s not terribly unpleasant, just very questionable production. The production here is provided by former member Richard Fortus (G’N’R fame). Not slighting Fortus’s role here, though I am disappointed the band didn’t go with someone who potentially could of put them to work. Someone with a similar background such as Flood or Alan Moulder?
“Hide The Medicine”, a very dreamy number that builds and builds but ends very abruptly almost as if it had never even begun? “Turn Your Back On Me” has really grown on me after several listens, revealing itself as a subtle but epic number. Album finisher “Stars” rolls in. Another dreamy composition, building in parts, taking us to a collage of sounds, distorted guitars and synths melding together only to disappear bluntly. A surprising track to place at the end, not really giving much as a send off.
Overall the album is a bit of a mixed bag. Not a classic but certainly not disappointing. My lingering thoughts only that I hope they try their hand at another release sooner rather than later. Definitely seek out this new album but be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
Buy ‘Made Of Rain’ Here
Author: Dan Kasm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncz9b2dIHkU&feature=emb_logo