Saturday, February 15, 2020

Year-end Recommendations 2019

There were some truly stunning records released in 2019, especially when it came to albums.  GALILEO 7 was a band I had never been aware of before hearing 'There Is Only Now' and it would have walked away with the Best Album title had BOB MOULD not returned to stunning form to deliver the best work he's done since 'Copper Blue'. Sad to hear Portland's ABOLITIONIST has split up too, especially in the wake of the band's best two releases (and that's no disrespect to the older stuff - which is great).  The ever-reliable CHANNEL 3 easily got Best EP with 'The Bellwether' while Dirt Cult Records cranked out three stunning 7"s. Not really had a chance to listen to the three albums listed yet, so that Top 10 could change when I do. Add to that, I haven't heard either of THE MUFFS or THE FREEZE albums that were released in 2019... they'd be contenders for sure.
As for gigs, what a fail!!  2019 was the first year in decades where I never saw a live band at all.  I missed the New Zealand Punk It Up! festival as I left it too late to get tickets and FUCKED UP played Auckland when I was in the US! Oh well... might have been good to give the old ears a break!!
Anyway - hope you agree, and disagree, with my Top Tens of 2019. Have a peruse, take a chance on something you've not heard - and enjoy!!

1. BOB MOULD - Sunshine Rock {Merge}
2. GALILEO 7 - There Is Only Now {Damaged Goods}
3. PARANOID VISIONS - Adverse Reality {FOAD}
4. ABOLITIONIST - Ugly Feeling {1859}
5. GOOD RIDDANCE - Thoughts And Prayers {Fat Wreck}
6. SUBHUMANS - Crisis Point {Pirate's Press}
7. MEMBRANES - What Nature Gives... Nature Takes Away {Cherry Red}
8. SNUFF - There's A Lot Of It About {Fat Wreck}
9. SPERMBIRDS - Go To Hell... {Boss Tuneage}
10. SIGNAL CRIMES - Perfidious Albion {Network Of Friends}
Other Contenders: BRACKISH EDGE - The Cruel Dark Sea {DIY}; REDD KROSS - Beyond The Door {Merge}; STEVE IGNORANT'S SLICE OF LIFE - Don't Turn Away {Overground}; LONG RYDERS - Psychedelic Country Soul {Cherry Red}; DANGER!MAN - Weapons Of Mass Distraction, MOVING TARGETS - Wires, PANDEMIX - In Condemnation {Boss Tuneage}; WARP LINES - Human Fesh, MORE KICKS - S/t, BOTHERS - s/t {Dirt Cult}; PERSONALITY CULT - New Arrows, STEVE ADAMYK BAND - Paradise {Dirtnap}; LAGWAGON - Railer, CJ RAMONE - The Holy Spell {Fat Wreck}; CANDY SNATCHERS - Moronic Pleasures {Hound Gawd}; CASUAL NAUSEA - Demons {TNS}; HIP PRIESTS - Stand For Nothing {Digital Warfare}; JONNY MANAK AND THE DEPRESSIVES - Anybody Wanna Skate {God's Candy}; LENNY LASHLEY'S GANG OF ONE - All Are Welcome {Pirate's Press}; SWEET THINGS - In Borrowed Shoes, On Borrowed Time, JORDAN JONES - s/t {Spaghetty Town}; FONTAINES DC - Dogrel {Partisan}


1. CHANNEL 3 - The Bellwether {Hostage}
2. ABOLITIONIST - A New Militance {1859}
3. KIRA JARI - Spooky Freak {Dirt Cult}
4. SUSPECT PARTS - You Know I Can't Say No {Dirt Cult}
5. WEIRD NUMBERS - Minotaur Dreams {Dirt Cult}
6. MYSTERY GIRL - Heart Breaker {Brain Slash}
7. VULPYNES - Dye Me Red {FOAD}
8. CLEVELAND STEAMERS - Maga Maga Maga {Smog Veil}
9. FAST EDDY - Toofer One {Spaghetty Town}
Other Contenders: WET SPECIMENS - Haunted Flesh {Brain Slash}; CTMF - Marc Riley Session 2019, JOHNNY MOPED - Hey Belinda {Damaged Goods}; KONTACT - Life In A Cage {Militant Tendencies}; THE OUTCASTS - Stay Young {Violated}; GIGLINGER - Money Power And Corruption {DIY}

1. VARIOUS - 1977: The Year Punk Broke {Cherry Red}
2. THE REPLACEMENTS - Dead Man's Pop {Sire}
3. THE DAMNED - Black Is The Night {BMG}
4. JOHNNY THUNDERS - Madrid Memory {Cleopatra/ MVD}
5. D.O.A - 1978: Unreleased Tracks/ Singles {Sudden Death}
6. VARIOUS - Optimism/ Reject {Cherry Red}
7. ADRENALIN OD - The Wacky Hi-Jinx Of... {Beer City}
8. LEFTOVER CRACK - E-Sides And F-Sides {Fat Wreck}
9. EARTH MOTHER FUCKER - I Fuck Therefore I Am {Antigen}
10. REVILLOS - Compendium Of The Weird {Damaged Goods}
Other contenders: DINOSAUR JR - Where You Been {Cherry Red}; BILLY CHILDISH - Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot!, REVILLOS - From The Freezer {Damaged Goods}; RAMONES - It's Alive {Sire}

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Obituary - Kim Shattuck

On Wednesday 2 October 2019, Kim Shattuck - best known as founder and vocalist in THE MUFFS - passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles, America. She was aged 56. The cause of death was due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease - a nerve condition), a disease she had been fighting for the last two years.
Shattuck was born Kimberly Dianne Shattuck on 17 July 1963 in Burbank, California. Her parents, Kent and Betty, raised Shattuck and her siblings (brother Kirk and sister Kristen) in Orange Country, California. While at Orange Coast College, she began playing guitar while studying photography.
Shattuck’s first band of note was as bassist for the all-female band THE PANDORAS from 1985 through to the 1990.  The band’s sound mutated from Paisley Underground-esque Garage Rock through to Hard Rock. Judging by Shattuck’s comments, she had little influence on the band’s direction.
In 1991 she switched to guitar and formed the band with which she would be most known for, THE MUFFS. The band released six albums, achieving peak popularity in 1995 with the ‘Blonder And Blonder’ album and a cover of Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’ which was included in the Clueless soundtrack. 
In 2001, Shattuck formed side project, THE BEARDS with Lisa Marr and Sherri Sollinger, releasing ‘Funtown’ in 2002.
In 2013, Shattuck replaced Kim Deal as bassist in THE PIXIES; however she was dismissed after a mere five months, a decision she has said she was “super disappointed” with. No reason was given, but it has been cited that that she thought it was possibly because the rest of the band were ‘more introverted people.’
Shattuck also guested on a number of other releases; when NOFX recorded ‘Punk In Drublic’ she sang on ‘Lori Meyers’, BOWLING FOR SOUP’s 2009 track ‘I’ve Always Remember You (That Way)’ and THE DOLLYROTS ‘Some Girls’.
THE MUFFS reformed in 2014 with the come back album ‘Whoop Dee Doo’. A new album entitled ‘No Holiday’, was recorded while Shattuck was fighting the disease that ultimately took her life,  and is due for release late in October 2019.
Only this past July, another project was announced in THE COOLIES which reunited Shattuck with original MUFFS member, Melanie Vammen. With a six-track EP released the same month, ‘Uh Oh! It’s...The Coolies’, Shattuck announced that all proceeds would go to ALS - although she abstained from revealing she was suffering from it herself.  Asked why they had chosen an ALS research charity, Shattuck responded, “Sadly, it runs in my damn family, and that disease is a mystery to just about every scientist! We are definitely interested in finding a cure for ALS! Cure it already!” Other interviews also mentioned that ALS had afflicted her father’s side of the family.
Shattuck is survived by her mother, two siblings and husband of 16-years, Kevin Sutherland.

Somehow, I missed out on ever seeing THE MUFFS live. I’ve loved the band ever since the self-titled debut from 1993, revelled in the mastery of the band’s ability, and more specifically Shattuck’s writing ability, to fuse raging guitars to near-perfect Pop moments and be constantly astounded at that wild, guttural scream that infuses every MUFFS album.
It’s well known Shattuck had a genuine and abiding love of THE BEATLES, and the influence can be directly heard on that debut album.  The very fact Shattuck’s songs are being talked about in the same breath as those of Lennon and McCartney without sounding trite is testament to the quality and originality of her songs.
To read a really intimate and sincere obituary about Shattuck, I’d like to send you to the LA Times where MUFFS drummer, Roy McDonald, has penned a deeply personal account of their friendship and experience recording the soon-due album.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Obituary - Damien Lovelock

On Saturday 3 August 2019, Damien Lovelock - best known as the vocalist of Australian band CELIBATE RIFLES - passed away at his home on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. He was aged 65. The cause of death was cancer.
Lovelock was born Damien Richard Lovelock on 21 May 1954 in Amersham, England, the son of Australians Joan Wilton (a Jazz singer) and Bill Lovelock (a television producer and musician). The marriage dissolved when Bill moved to New York while Joan returned to Sydney with Damien ,who was still but an infant.
Following the move to Australia, Damo (as he became known) joined a band named STREET NOISE. At the age of 26, he answered a ‘Vocalist Required’ notice and joined both Dave Morris and Kent Steedman in 1980 to form the band that became recognised as CELIBATE RIFLES - a band which started as a high-energy Garage Punk band and matured into a streamlined Alt. Rock band that retained that high-energy feel of the earlier years. Although Lovelock was ten years older than the rest of the band, he had no problem matching their energy.
Following the self-released EP, ‘But Jacques, The Fish?’, the band was signed to Hot Records for the release of the 1983 debut album, ‘Sideroxylon’. Following the album’s release Lovelock started a side-project with the acoustic NO DANCE which featured members of Australian luminaries NEW CHRISTS and DIED PRETTY and released a single in 1984 entitled ‘Carnival Of Souls’.
While Lovelock returned and remained the frontman of CELIBATE RIFLES through nine studio album, two live albums, a flurry of EPs, compilation albums, a video album (which included five solo Locklock tracks) and several international tours, he continued with solo projects. In June 1988 Lovelock released his debut solo album, ‘It's a Wig Wig Wig Wig World’, which was followed by the single, ‘Disco Inferno’, in April 1990. His second solo album, ‘Fishgrass’, was released in December 1991 following a single, ‘The Dalai Lama’, the previous October.
Lovelock had an interesting life outside music also, being a fan’s-perspective commentator on the Sunday afternoon sports programme The World Game that aired on SBS in Australia. In the 2000s, he was a regular member of the football panel on Sky News in Australia and also co-hosted ABC Radio Grandstand for a short period.  Another programme he co-hosted was Football Fever on Sky Sports Radio, the final episodes of which aired in March 2010.
Continuing the sports theme, he wrote two books about soccer (plus a cookery book!), was also a known Yoga instructor in Newport, Sydney (and was proficient to such an extent he was hired by the likes of Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC and the NSW State of Origin team) and had a love of Southampton FC.
Lovelock is survived by his son, Luke. 

I discovered the CELIBATE RIFLES quite late on - somewhere around 15 years ago after I’d already made the move to New Zealand.  I had heard of the band often but crossing paths only occurred on the purchase of ‘Blind Ear’, a late 80s album but one which impressed me enough to search out more. It was also this album which features my favourite CELIBATE RIFLES song - and one very fitting to be an epitaph for Lovelock - ‘Wonderful Life’. For those curious to hear the band, a great place to start is the 23-track compilation, ‘Platters Du Jour’, which collects all of the band’s early singles. Grab it and enjoy.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Year-end Recommendations 2018

2018 was a rather interesting and bountiful year in terms of good records. In fact, my Top Three albums all came from totally unexpected sources, with two of the bands being totally new to me, and the other not having released a record in five years or so.  Even taking the Top Ten out of matters, there was still a lot of good gear - and especially when you consider some of the releases I still haven't heard like the new albums by both THE DAMNED and THE DWARVES to name but two, and the TOYS THAT KILL/ IRON CHIC split. 
Also discovered Dirt Cult Records this year. The Portland label hasn't put out a bad release from the multitude I've heard and there is great variation among them too. Genuinely inspiring stuff. Great people to deal with too.
There were some stunning compilation boxsets released too with Cherry Red in particular pulling out all the stops on their ever-continuing run of thoroughly enjoyable collections. The Damaged Goods 30th Anniversary double set is also essential - varied sounds, all special.
Live events were restricted to older acts - THE STRANGLERS, RUTS DC, PETE MURPHY playing BAUHAUS and BOB DYLAN! RUTS DC was easily the highlight, although DYLAN was surprisingly satisfying and among the top three times I've seen him (and that's a few!). No apologies for the fact that that's not very 'Punk Rock'; if that's a problem for you then that really is your problem - not mine.
2018 was also the first year in many during which I never made an overseas trip, so no overseas gigs or record cratedigging experienced!
And of course, there were the sad passings of some legends - Pete Shelley and Steve Soto being the two most notable.  Both massive loses from two gents that gave us so much.
Anyway - 2018 Top Sounds as follows...

1. CLEVELAND STEAMERS - Best Record Ever {Smog Veil}
2=. SKEPTIC?- Hornet’s Nest {DIY}
2=. SONGS FOR SNAKES - Crystal Vapour Figure {Timid Crusher}
4. SWINGIN’ UTTERS - Peace And Love {Fat Wreck}
5. NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS - Claw Marks {Dirt Cult}
6. CASTRO - Infidelity {Boss Tuneage}
7. NIGHT BIRDS - Roll Credits {Fat Wreck}
8. FUCKED UP - Dose Your Dreams {Merge}
9. FUTURE VIRGINS - Doomsday Raga {Recess}
10. ABOLITIONIST - The Instant {DIY}
Other contenders: YOUTH AVOIDERS - Relentless {Destructure}, CLOWN SOUNDS - Preacher Maker {Recess}, RUBELLA BALLET - Danger Of Death {Overground}, PRETTY FLOWERS - Why Trains Crash, HARD FEELINGS - Side Ways, RADON - More Of Their Lies {Dirt Cult}, LAST GANG - Keep Them Counting {Fat Wreck}, D.O.A - Fight Back {Sudden Death}, SPOILERS - Roundabouts, NATTERERS - Head In A Threatening Attitude {Boss Tuneage}, BAD SPORTS - Constant Stimulation, MIND SPIDERS - Furies {Dirtnap}, DOWN AND OUTS - Double Negative {DIY}, SHADRACKS - The Shadracks {Damaged Goods}, ADOLESCENTS - Cropduster {Concrete Jungle}, THE HOLDOUT - The Things That Brought Us Here {Grafton}

1. CHARACTER ACTOR - s/t {Dirt Cult}
2. VANILLA POD - Goodbye My Love... {Brassneck}
3. NUMBER ONES, The - Another Side Of The Number Ones {Sorry State}
4. CASTRO - Personal EP {Boss Tuneage}
5. HARD SKIN - Not Messing Around {JT Classics}
6. BLANKZ- White Baby {Slope}
7. CORNER BOYS - Love Tourist {Dirt Cult}
8. ABOLITIONIST - The Pinnacle EP {DIY}
9. CHAIN WHIP - s/t {Dirt Cult}
10. BOMBPOPS - Dear Beer {Fat Wreck}
Other contenders: FAZ WALTZ - Julie {Spaghetty Town}, THE LURKERS - Electrical Guitar {Damaged Goods}

1. VARIOUS - Burning Britain {Cherry Red}
2. PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED - The Public Image Is Rotten {Virgin}
3. NEW YORK DOLLS - Personality Crisis {Cherry Red}
4. THE JAM - 1977 {Polydor}
5. JOE STRUMMER - 001 {Ignition}
6. VARIOUS - Damaged Goods 1988/2018 {Damaged Goods}
7. MARKED MEN - On The Other Side {Dirtnap}
8. REDD KROSS - Hot Issue / Teen Babes From Monsanto {Merge}
9. MOVING TARGETS - The Other Side: Demos And Sessions Expanded {Boss Tuneage}
10. JILTED JOHN - True Love Stories {Boss Tuneage}
Other contenders: HERESY - Face Up To It! {Boss Tuneage}, LAWRENCE ARMS - We Are The Champions Of The World {Fat Wreck}, REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN - That Was Just A Noise 2004 - 2018 {TNS}

Monday, December 31, 2018

Obituary - Pete Shelley

On Thursday 6 December 2018, Pete Shelley - best known as founder, singer and songwriter of British Punk band, BUZZCOCKS - passed away at his home in Tallinn, Estonia. He was 63. The cause of death was due to a heart attack.
Shelley was born Peter Campbell McNeish on 17 April 1955 in Leigh, Lancashire. His mother Margaret was a former mill worker in the town while his father, John, was a fitter at Astley Green Colliery. He was the eldest of two, with a brother named Gary John McNeish.
From an early age Shelley read BEATLES sheet music and wrote his first song in 1971. Two years on from that, he formed his first band, JETS OF AIR, whose set included early proto types of songs that would later find home in BUZZCOCKS’ set list.
By 1974, he had written and recorded a set of electronica and although virtually unlistenable, Shelley released it as ‘Sky Yen’ on his own label in 1980.
It was a January 1974 meeting with one Howard Trafford at the Bolton Institute Of Technology (where the young Shelley was Vice-President of the Student’s Union) however that would change the path of both individuals’ future. The pair rehearsed some STOOGES material but due to the two living in different towns, the project - at this stage - came to nothing.
What followed is the stuff of legend. In February 1976, they read a review of EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS at The Marquee, London. The support band was the SEX PISTOLS. With their interest piqued by the mention of an IGGY POP cover, the pair went to London to see the SEX PISTOLS for themselves. They saw two shows, which changed their musical horizon, adopting their now more familiar Punk names (Trafford became Devoto) and so the legend of BUZZCOCKS begins. This is incredibly well documented, so I’ll leave you to do your own research about the band should you wish to.
In 1981, Shelley called time on BUZZCOCKS, informing band mate Steve Diggle by post - an action which created friction between the two that lasted years. Shelley, however, scored an immediate solo hit with ‘Homosapien’ and the album of the same name released in 1981. Two years later, he released his second solo album in ‘XL1’. It was another three years before he released the ‘Heaven And The Sea’ album.
During BUZZCOCKS’ absence their influence and legend had grown to such a stage that, in 1989, they were offered a lucrative US reunion tour. The band continued from then on, with the final BUZZCOCKS album being 2014’s ‘The Way’.
2002 saw Shelley reunite with Devoto for the ‘Buzzkunst’ album while in 2005, following the death of the DJ John Peel, Shelley recorded a tribute version of the BUZZCOCKS classic ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ with a multi-star lineup including Elton John, Robert Plant, David Gilmour and Roger Daltrey.
Although Shelley was open about his bisexuality, he did marry in 1991 and had a son in 1993. In 2002, he got divorced. In 2012, he moved to Tallinn, Estonia with his second wife, Greta, to live a less hectic life than that in London. It was here, on the morning of 6 December 2018, that he suffered a heart attack and passed away.
He is survived by his wife Greta, his son from his first marriage and his brother, Gary.
In accordance with Pete Shelley's wishes, a private funeral was held in Maardu, Estonia on Thursday 13 December. It was attended by his wife and a few close family friends. As noted in his eulogy, "However we knew Pete, we will miss him sorely in all his shapes and guises, but his legacy will live on in our memories and in the ways he has touched our lives."  

I only ever got to see BUZZCOCKS the once, back around the time they got back together and released ‘Trade Test Transmissions’, at the Norwich UEA - 1994 I think and THESE ANIMAL MEN supported. Oddly, they played here in NZ a year or so ago; my thinking was I’d catch them next time - which obviously ‘next time’ now means never again.
The first time I became aware of the band was around 1982/83. I’m not sure which came first but it was either via the ‘Burning Ambitions’ comp which featured ‘Boredom’ or getting a copy of the ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ 7” from someone at school - it might even have been a freebie as it’s housed only in a plain white cardboard sleeve. I’ve still got it too (ditto for the ‘Burning Ambitions’ comp). I’m pretty sure I must have heard the band on the John Peel show, or even on Top Of The Pops prior to either of those, but they are the first definite memories of Pete Shelley’s wonderful songwriting appearing on my horizon. It didn’t take long from there to gravitate to the classic ‘Singles Going Steady’ compilation and then those first three stunning studio albums. 
I think it’s fair to say that BUZZCOCKS was a universally liked band within Punk. Be it the adrenalin rush of ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘What Do I Get’, the primitive yet revolutionary ‘Spiral Scratch EP’, through to the Indie-scene inspiring ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’ and onto the epic ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’, we all have our favourites. The band’s latter work should not be ignored either as both ‘Trade Test Transmissions’ and 2003’s ‘Buzzcocks’ are both well worth a listen and  indicate that of all the 77 bands to reform, BUZZCOCKS’ reformation birthed the best new material of the lot.
R.I.P Pete and thanks for being part of the sound track to not just our youth, but of our lives.