Monday, January 30, 2017

Year-end Recommendations 2016

I’m a little late in posting this, it has to be said. Why? Ohh... Lots of things got in the way. Lots of good music was heard in 2016, travelled a bit during the course of New Year and then there was the return to work...
Anywhoo... 2016 was an odd year. David Bowie passed away early on which was a major downer for me. I went to Vancouver - my first ever trip to Canada in fact - and caught SNFU live in their hometown. Then I headed back to the UK and saw... Nothing!! Caught up with lots of great friends of course, but in terms of gigs, it was quieter than a mortuary. Oddly, it was the first trip back that made me think the UK was no longer home, but it was also very, very hard for me to walk away from family and long-standing, loyal friends.
Best gig of 2016 had to be GRANT HART blasting a set of classic after classic songs with a New Zealand backing band. Joyous, uplifting stuff and old golden tonsils Hart still has it.
Anyway - year-end Top Sounds!! An awful lot of quality albums were released - and I guess there were HEAPS I haven’t heard. I should point out that some of the below were apparently released in 2015... The versions I cite however were released in 2016 and only came onto my South Pacific horizons in 2016.
So... Let the ceremony begin...

1. RUTS DC - Music Must Destroy {Westworld}
2. TOYS THAT KILL - Sentimental Ward {Recess}
3. RED DONS - Dead Hand Of Tradition {Deranged}
4. SPECTRES - Utopia {Deranged}
5. ROUGH KIDS - s/t {Sorry State}
6. CULTURE SHOCK - Attention Span {Alternative Tentacles/ Blurrg}
7. CULT VALUES - s/t {Deranged}
8. STEVE ADAMYK BAND - Graceland {Dirtnap}
10. SHIP THIEVES - No Anchor {No Idea}
Also rans: EXTERMINATORS - Product Of America {Slope}, RIKK AGNEW BAND - Learn {Frontier}, SHATTERED FAITH - Volume III {Hostage}, DANGER!MAN/ LUCKY MALICE - Handicap, WONK UNIT - Feel The Wonkness {Boss Tuneage}, DAYLIGHT ROBBERY - Accumulated Error {Deranged}, DRAKULAS - Raw Wave, BAD SPORTS - Living With Secrets, MIND SPIDERS - Prosthesis {Dirtnap}, PANSY DIVISION - Quite Contrary {Alternative Tentacles}, MEAN JEANS - Tight New Dimension, DIRECT HIT - Wasted Mind {Fat Wreck}, JOHNNY MOPED - It’s A Real Cool Baby {Damaged Goods}, LEE HARVEYS - Bullet For The President {FOAD}
2. DEAD ENDING - Class War {Alternative Tentacles}
3. VIOLENT ARREST - Authors Of Our Own Demise {Artcore}
4. MEAN JEANS - Nite Vision {Fat Wreck}
5. RUTS DC - Psychic Attack {Westworld}
6. COLOR TV - Color TV {Deranged}
7. DOA - Fucked Up Donald {Sudden Death}
8. NOFX - Sid And Nancy {Fat Wreck}
9. DOMESTICS - Brutal Regimes {Kibou}
10. PANSY DIVISION - Blame The Bible {Alternative Tentacles}
Also rans: OAF - Oaf {Deranged}, NIGHT BIRDS - Who Killed Mike Hunchback {Fat Wreck}, PAGANS/ GIILLOTINES - Split {Just 4 Fun}, TRANSMITORS - Cuppa Jarra Brozza, MOTOSIERRA - Buzo Nuevo {Spaghetty Town} 
1. VARIOUS - Action Time Vision {Cherry Red}
2. HOLLYWOOD BRATS - Sick On You {Cherry Red}
3. THE SUSPECTS - Voice Of America {Grave Mistake}
4. VARIOUS - Dope Guns And Fucking In The Street Vol. 1 - 11 {Amphetamine Reptile/ MVD}
5. VARIOUS - Mild In The Streets {Fat Wreck}
6. THEATRE OF HATE - Do You Believe In The Westworld {Cherry Red}
7. RIPCORD - Defiance Of Power/ Poetic Justice {Boss Tuneage}
8. TENEMENT - Bruised Music Vol.2 {Grave Mistake}
9. GRANT HART - Oeuvervue {Bang}
10. THE ENEMY - The Enemy {Westworld}
Also rans: FACE TO FACE - Reissues {Fat Wreck}, GBH - Hahaha, RUTS - Babylon’s Burning {Westworld}, COWS - Reissues {Amphetamine Reptile/ MVD}

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Obituary - Micky Fitz

On Friday 2 December 2016, Michael Fitzsimons - better known as Micky Fitz - vocalist with UK Punk/ Oi! band THE BUSINESS passed away. The cause of death appears to be cancer of the Lymph Gland.
Born in 1959, Fitz was among the school friends who formed THE BUSINESS in Lewisham, South London in 1979. The band’s first appearance on record was via the ‘A Sudden Surge Of Sound’ compilation released in 1980 on VU Records. The classic ‘Harry May’ single followed in 1981 via Secret Records. The same label released the ‘Smash The Discos’ EP the following year and the debut album, ‘Suburban Rebels’ in 1983.
Although the band appeared to remain active ever since, releasing records on labels like Burning Heart, TKO, Taang! and Captain Oi!, there was the odd disruption. Soon after the ‘Harry May’ single, all of the original members left Micky high and dry as they went on to form Q-BOW, which morphed into SMACK. Then, following 1988’s ‘Welcome To The Real World’, the same occurred. Move on a few years and Micky reappeared in THE ELITE which performed several BUSINESS songs. From there, in one form or another, THE BUSINESS never let up. Their song ‘England 5 – Germany 1’, became a football anthem for England and appeared in the 2004 comedy movie Euro Trip. The band’s most recent release was the ‘Back In The Day’ single in 2014.
Fitz was diagnosed with cancer late in 2015 and underwent radiotherapy treatment. In January 2016, Fitz made a public update via Garry Bushell’s Facebook page. It states he had finished the ‘intense Radiology and Chemotherapy treatment’ which followed a throat operation to remove an aggressive tumour that was working its way through his neck. This was to be followed by dieticians and neck and throat specialists who were to get him eating again.
I have to confess I was never the biggest of BUSINESS fans. I never saw the band live and only have the debut album and a Complete Singles Compilation in my collection. That said, I know just how important the band has been and the sincerity with which it operated, and appreciate the vitality and energy that was in every track they recorded - and a lot of that vitality was down to those charismatic and formidable vocals of Fitz.
Fitz is survived by his partner, Kim and son, Jamie.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Show Time!

The Shit Talkers
SNFU - MODERN TERROR - THE SHIT TALKERS - The Venue, Vancouver, Canada - 20 August 2016
I literally heard about this gig the day before it happened, after only being in Canada for about three days. Considering The Venue was within walking distance of where I was staying (and thanks to the guys at the stellar Neptoon Records who gave me expert directions to the gig), it was a total no-brainer that seeing the legend that is SNFU in their home town was something I had to do.
Unfortunately, I’m writing this over a month after the actual event due to my successive travels after I left Canada. One thing I do recall is that The Venue is a great place to see bands. Probably holds about 700, has a great PA, a stage that could easily hold a seven-piece but without making a trio look lost and it has a bar on both sides of the room. SWANS was playing soon after I left unfortunately; I imagine they would be brutal in this kinda place.
Anyway, first on stage was THE SHIT TALKERS, a grungy Punk 5-piece made of four ladies and a dude in drag (at least, I hope it was a dude in drag!). I can’t recall song titles but remember a sound akin to an amped and Punked BREEDERS. The main singer had a few technical issues with her guitar but didn’t let it get the better of her. Was good to see a number of people had turned out to support the band too.
Modern Terror
A couple of beers down (there was some kinda Canuck beer on sale which was not only cheap, but pretty good too) and I was feeling that neat beer buzz that occurs just as the alcohol starts to kick in. Great timing too because on next came MODERN TERROR. The band is a trio and played a fusion of M.D.C.-style political Hardcore but with a Fat Wreck kinda twist. Throw a little THE ‘INBRED in there too and you’ve got it. Among titles I recall were the potent ‘Let America Burn’, ‘Boys In Blue’ and ‘First World Problems’. There was a bit of black humour too in ‘Junkie Punker Mom’ and the ode to blowing up Vancouver Island in ‘Let’s Bomb The Neighbours’. They had the heads of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on sticks (unfortunately, not the named persons real heads - THAT would’ve been fucking stunning!!) as part of the stage set and, best of all, the vocals were delivered with clarity - especially those of bassist Jamie Swann - which made the message of the songs that much more powerful. They were giving away CDs at the end of the gig too - yes I scored one and a review will be posted soon. A band that did everything right in my eyes... Looking forward to seeing what lays ahead for them.
SNFU vocalist Mr Chi Pig had been wandering around the crowd for much of the gig, shaking hands and conversing with those he knew. Surely looked like time (along with drugs and hard living) had taken a bit of a toll on the guy. That said, when the band hit the stage, the jams they cranked hit all the right places.
I have to admit, I lost interest in the band a bit after the ‘Better Than A Stick In The Eye’ album from 1988 and that probably explained the reason that there were a bunch of songs I didn’t know. That said, the band nailed it pivoting around a monster rhythm section and a couple of guitarists who slammed out the riffs with serious ferocity. Songs? ‘You Make Me Thick’, ‘What Good Hollywood’ and the trio of classics from the debut album, ‘Broken Toy’, ‘She’s Not On The Menu’ and ‘Cannibal Cafe’ all could claim to be highlights. A little bit of a scuffle broke out and after the main set one of the guitarists grabbed the mic from Chi Pig and threw it to the floor... Pretty standard events for an SNFU gig, as were the beaming, sweaty faces at the end of the gig.
I picked up the SNFU biography written by Chris Walter and received a kiss on the ear from Mr Chi Pig after he signed it. Oddly, that seemed a fitting end to a blazing night of Canuck Punk Rock. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Obituary - Brandon Ferrell

On Tuesday 31 May 2016, Brandon Ferrell, a member of such bands as GOVERNMENT WARNING, CAREER SUICIDE, DIRECT CONTROL, WASTED TIME and MUNICIPAL WASTE, passed away.
He was born on 28 April 1984 and at the time of writing, the cause of death is unknown.
In addition to being involved with the Hardcore bands above in a capacity as drummer, guitarist and/ or bassist, Ferrell ran No Way Records. He also opened, and was the original owner of, Vinyl Conflict records in Richmond, VA. Ferrell also had his own thrash project on Tankcrimes called OBSESSOR, where he played everything. It's worth noting Ferrell did the artwork to IRON REAGAN's 2012 demo.
He is survived by his wife Lauren and their twins, Darby and Zoe.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Obituary - John 'Stabb' Schroeder

On Saturday 7 May 2016, John ‘Stabb’ Schroeder, best known as the vocalist with GOVERNMENT ISSUE, passed away at a Hospice center in Rockville, Maryland after a battle with stomach cancer. He was aged 54.
Born John Dukes Schroeder in Washington on 12 July 1961, he grew up in Rockville and graduated from Magruder High School in 1979. His first marriage, to Mika Ackerman, ended in divorce. On St Patrick’s Day 2016, he married his long-term partner Mina Devadas.
Stabb formed GOVERNMENT ISSUE in 1980 (originally called THE STAB) and remained the band’s only constant member.
GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s history is well documented elsewhere, but the band released six studio albums and a myriad of EPs, morphing from the DC Hardcore sound of the 1981 debut, ‘Legless Bull’ EP released on Dischord Records, through wider experimentation with psychedelic tones and slower rhythms, culminating with the final studio album, ‘Crash’ in 1988 and the ‘Strange Wine’ EP the following year when the band split.
Following GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s demise, Stabb continued to front several DC bands including STAIN, EMMA PEEL, WEATHERHEAD, BETTY BLUE, THE FACTORY INCIDENT and, up until shortly before his passing, HISTORY REPEATED.
Over the years, GOVERNMENT ISSUE played a series of reunion shows including 2007, 2010 and most recently in 2015.
Stabb was renowned for bucking the trend of Hardcore Punk fashion by growing out his hair, wearing all sorts of flamboyant, bright clothing and leisure suits. This is emphasized in the Going Underground book where he states: "I didn’t care if it was a purple velour women’s pants outfit with a vest with pleats for breasts; I’d wear it."
In recent years he had been working on his memoirs, entitled Hear The Scream which chronicles his troubled childhood, his time in GOVERNMENT ISSUE and recent life events.
Following a series of hospital visits at the end of January 2016, Stabb was diagnosed with malignant stomach cancer. At a HISTORY REPEATED show on 19 January 2016, he announced to the audience that he had appendicitis and would need to go to the ER after their set. After a misdiagnosis, he was rushed back to the hospital on 29 January, where doctors performed emergency surgery to remove two tumors from his gastrointestinal tract. 
Stabb is survived by his wife, Mina and his two brothers and two sisters.

While GOVERNMENT ISSUE never released a duff record, the two that always have most affect on me are ‘Joy Ride’ from 1984 and more specifically, ‘You’ from 1987. Dr. Strange Records released the band’s entire catalogue (bar the ‘Legless Bull’ EP which can be found easily on Dischord’s ‘The Year In Seven Inches’ comp) on two twin-CD packages in 2000, which remain a great place for the curious to start. 
Unfortunately I never got to see the band live, although I was aware of them playing in the UK. In fact, the insert of the ‘You’ album included a photo taken on Brighton Beach.