2017:     PAGE 1
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RECORD REVIEW INDEX
REVIEWS INDEX
PUNK ROCKER
RECORD REVIEW INDEX
REVIEWS INDEX
PUNK ROCKER
DARKO
'Bonsai Mammoth'
(Lockjaw / Blind Attack)
CD February 3rd 2017
These days promo Cd's are usually by
bands who have absolutely nothing in
common with punk musically or
aesthetically, but you have to review
them just in case they might surprise
you. I was hoping
Darko may prove
me wrong. 'Bonsai Mammoth' kicks off
quite melodically until the shouty
vocals of Dan Smith kick in, which have
a few less frantic moments during first
track 'Life Forms'. But I'm afraid it was
just the precursor for what we are
about to hear and it all went downhill
pretty fast from here on in. What
grates most about the
Darko sound is
definitely the gnarly vocals, which
really do put your audio attention span
through an endurance test just to sit
through even after one track. And lets
not forget there are 9 more of these
fuckers on this release. The music is
played tight and the production is bang
on, but theres no immediate flow. It
stops and starts with infuriating
monotony, then goes off on a tangent
with annoying regularity. A sound that
goes melodic one second, then rages
on in another, then goes into HM
twiddling country and thats all in one
song. It's like the
Darko philosophy is
to tinker with the song structure once
they hit on somert good, which is a
shame as they can play with precision
and power but their style is so mind
numbingly varied it becomes a mess. It
seems playing the same rivvum track
for any length of time is unacceptable
in this bands ideology. They are either
way too clever for their own good or
just like showing off, which just leaves
us the audience with a mass of audio
schizophrenia to deal with. I also get
the feeling we have a Heavy Metal
guitarist in their ranks just waiting to
explode from their stop/start hardcore
confines? Meanwhile Smithy screams
on and on and on in the foreground.
His vocals do have the capacity to
change direction, which could've saved
him from being the prime suspect, but
like the music its all too little or too late
before that mind numbing screech
takes over his sand papered
esophagus. There are some pop punk
elements too if your lucky enough to
spot em, but these are way too fleeting
to catapult these hairy fuckers for a
career of pop punk hits.
Darko are
destined to be touring the indie circuit
of skater spaces and empty swimming
pools across the globe, which is great
if thats what they really want or the
promo machine behind them want?
However they must be eternally
grateful to the Japs, who seem to like
em, but we all know Japan is dishpan.
'Set In Our Ways' seems to be the
story of this bands life. They aren't
about to offer a new direction or a
more anthemic style that we could
maybe wrap our ears around or
capture our interests. But I did like the
title of one song 'I Should've Taken A
Left At Albuquerque', but the title alone
was about it and I'm afraid they didn't
carry on driving to the Mexican border
and beyond. I reckon
Darko are a
romanticised wanna be 'road band'. If
they really wanna break America so
badly, they ain't gonna do it on this
offering. Besides i suspect there are
way more qualified bands doing this
routine in the States already and if you
know of any please don't point em in
my direction. I  did like the beginning of
'Hiraeth' for about 10 secs, but then
the singing kicked in and it all
deteriorated into more of the same. I'm
sure even the skater punks amongst
us (whom I'm told are
Darko's core
audience) must get sick and tired of
this particular sound. They hail from
Guilford but have about as much in
common with
the Stranglers IV as the
Guilford four. Was half hoping 'In The
Company Of Wolves' may just show a
glimmer of gold dust amongst the
torturous toons but who the fuck was i
kidding. This album should be used in
Guatemala Bay as audio torture it's
that unpleasant. 'Bonsai Mammoth'
ain't punk rock, its a student take on
fast songs for the
Darko fan club in
Tokyo or wherever they reside and
probably features like minded
individuals with bug bushy beards and
lots of sweaty testosterone growling
along in synchronised head banging.
PLASTIC!
DARKO  
THE CRAVATS
'Dustbin Of Sound'
(Underground)
CD September 29th 2017
Had this sent in from Overground
Records who are fast becoming a
really diverse punk label,
concentrating on a more wide
spectrum of bands and sounds that
erupted from the initial wave of punk.
Unlike most review material its an
actual CD (not a download) but this is
also available on vinyl too. Was a bit
dubious as to how
The Cravats was
gonna sound after hearing some of
lead singer Shend's solo material on
the
'Outsider Artist' 45 back in 2011,
But I have to say 'Dustbin Of Sound' is
the Cravats as I remember them from
my sole
Cravats 45 'The End' back in
'79. They're older and they're not
necessarily wiser, but they still have
that unique saxophone driven punk
orientated sound, along with the trashy
guitar and rumbling bass. The sound
we loved so much on the John Peel
show. When you think punk and sax,
X-Ray Spex usually springs to mind,
but this is way more
Neon Hearts
/Jame Chance
in style, but with that
quirky transistor guitar and the
baritone wacky outbursts flavouring
the proceedings. It certainly becomes
something more. 'Dustbin Of Sound'
brings back all those sounds, smells
and DIY jobs from towns like Redditch
that littered the UK music scene back
in the late 70's. So if your a
Cravats/
Very Things
fan you will love this.
Even cunts like me like it!
For a band to capture that unique
spark and allure they had 35 years
ago is truly exceptional. The only
difference is production, which is bang
on and pristine with today's technology
and throws light on the individual
sounds.
'King Of Walking Away' has a
sinister deep sax growl courtesy of
Svor Naam that I can't get enough of.
It's mean bass riff by Joe 91 means
you'll probably love it, but as the lyrics
say
'hate me one day'. Air Raid sirens
are always great to hear on records
and ushers in
'Batterhouse' with its
shimmering guitars and grinding sax
that conjures up some neat chugging
power. Lead singer the Shend goes on
a Nick Cave, as the bass rumbles and
the drums pound by the delightfully
named Rampton Garstang. 'Motorcycle
Man' makes the pleasure of cruising
on your chopper, whilst overtaking
hearses (tee hee), and
'kissing the
wind'
with just 'the flick of his wrist'
never feeling so good. It's not quite as
gritty as
Motorheads 'Iron Horse' but
more Marlon Brando in feeling.
'100
Percent'
highlights Shend's word play,
a talent of conjuring outta thin air a
topic from everyday sayings,
statements and life in general. He also
has a knack of creating songs which
make you think! However it used to be
the 1% in punk folk lore, but in
the
Cravats
universe its 100% all the way.
Last years single
'Blurred' is probably
their most commercial song to date. Its
made even more accessible with its
neat promo
video which is probably the
most up to date snap shot of what
the
Cravats
are like live these days, if you
haven't seen them already. Morse
code introduces 'Power Lines Up',
which is a majestic ode to electric
pylons that stand tall and poke into the
sky all over the UK and give us and

the Cravats
the power to turn up the
amps and turn on our consciousness.
See what I mean about this bands
every day observations, which only
the Cravats excel in. 'Jingo Bells' the
other 45 from last year is a glorious dig
at the rich, the wealthy, and the people
in power and boasts a mischievous
cameo role in the
video of Penny
Rimbaud
collecting fares. 'Bury The
Wild'
has hints of James Chance if he
come from Redditch or Brighton and
not Milwaukee, it positively stinks of an
attack on carnivorous carnivores with
psychotic sax and those rabid guitars
as the penultimate
'cattle bomb' is
deployed.
'Big Band' speeds in as the
Shend teases us with a short lived
croon of
"aaaahhh aaah aaah
uuhhh"
which we wanted more of but
was sadly denied.
'Whooping Sirens' is
the slowest track and features a rather
eerie sci fi vibe or is it a mental state,
who knows? But i like it a lot.
'Hang
Them'
...'shoot them, electrocute
them'
the lyric concludes is all about
the opposite sex according to Shend.
Well he does write the lyrics and sings
the songs so he should know. Viscount
Biscuits on guitar gives us an
East
Bay Ray
shimmer in amongst an lyrical
dialogue. Trashy guitars ring in on
'All
U Bish Dumpers'
as another Orson
Wellian like dialogue steers us through
a remarkably off the wall, out the back
of beyond
Dada Cravats Laboratory
lyric as the Shend informs us
"all you
bish dumpers will be rosecut'
which
was adapted from a sign they found a
few years back which was missing
letters and should've read 'ALL
RUBBISH DUMPERS WILL BE
PROSECUTED' HA!
WORTH A LISTEN!
THE CRAVATS
Overground Records
HOOLIGAN
featuring CHRISTY DIGNAM
'Teenage Rebel'
(Reekus)
CDEP October 18th 2017
Dublin punks Hooligan have teamed
up with Éire rock star Christy Dignam
from Aslan (who I wasn't familiar with at
all until now). Mr Dignam is a major
celebrity and definitely a colourful
character, but not someone you'd
immediately associate with punk.
However he certainly does this cover
justice by giving us a bonifide 21st
century twist of
the Outcasts classic
'Justa Nother Teenage Rebel', which
first came out back in
'78. This strange
collaboration with
Hooligan came
about through singer/guitarist Dave
Linehan and Christy crossing paths
back in the 80's with Dignam offering
advice and inspiration to young
Linehan. Nearly 25 years later they
met again by chance and Dave
recalled the story, which moved Christy
so much so, he agreed to collaborate
on a track, to which this is the end
result, and it works brilliantly. Christy
doesn't give us his regular
atmospheric crooning which he's
famous for,
but really goes for it and
probably puts a lot of punk cover
versions of this song over the years to
shame. And considering his eventful
past where he's had to endure rape,
handle stardom, over come Heroin
addiction and finally battle cancer
,
which he's still fighting. You really do
have to take your hat off to the guy.
What I like most is he offers a genuine
vulnerability only the young Greg
Cowan gave us on the original. Dave
Linehan of
Hooligan maintains a spot
on musical adaptation, with a brilliant
solo giving the song a catchy punch
very few has come close to. And
the
Outcasts
themselves have given their
approval. My only tweak would be Eoin
Page's bass could be more up front in
the mix. It comes with a great promo
video recorded at Fibber McGhee's
which really sells the song. So you
should check it out yourselves just to
see if I'm bullshitting or not. If that
wasn't enough, we also get 3
Hooligan originals which most
definitely are not a side dish on this
pink platter.
'Generation On Fire' kicks
off with a neat intro before moving into
a mid paced stomper with some juicy
guitar riffs along with Dave Linehan's
subdued, but rather compelling vocals.
This tight 3 piece always bring a good
tune to table, along with the added
back up vocals that really add
suspense to proceedings, as the
chords drop and rise to great effect.
'Calling Joe Strummer' has a ring of
the opening to
'Should I Stay Or
Should I Go'
with sole guitar and
singer
complete with an ambience of
echo
before the whole band jump in
and really give us something you could
imagine
the Clash doing. Even the
guitar sounds like Strummer's
telecaster and the drummer Paul Price
does his level best Topper Headon

impersonation with
fills and pounds. It's
even got the ghost of a Guy Stevens
production, with an almost neat Chuck
Berry solo thrown in for good measure,
powerful stuff. 'Gang War' is a more
loaded track with rowdy out of control
solo's that sound great, but with Dave
Linehan
's uncanny Srummer delivery
giv
ing it that great vibe along with the
"wooagh ohhhhh gang war" chorus.
Every time I hear a new release by
Hooligan they never fail to impress.
This one will get all the attention for
the lead track, but
Hooligan are a
band who can do it as good, if not
better than most of the punk acts
around today, and if you've a
penchant for Joe Strummer vocals,
which most of us have, and punk rock
with tunes and imagination. You'll
fuckin' love it! Comes in a fittingly
sparse take on the original sleeve.
WORLD CONTENDER!
HOOLIGAN
Reekus Records