Tag Archive | "Mission of Burma"

Evans the Death – Vanilla

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Evans the Death – Vanilla

Posted on 09 June 2016 by Joe

On album number three London act Evans the Death have upped, shredded, beaten up and garrotted the ante. It’s incendiary and full of rage, like their previous album Expect Delays, but while that focused on the anger of twenty somethings in Tory Britain this latest release is packed full of rage about just about everything.

The guitars are heavier, the vocals more fierce and the ambition turned to stadium sized proportions, with a brass section and even a funky bass added to the mix.

evans

The press release lists a raft of eclectic  influences. I can see some, such as Wilko Johnson’s choppy guitar. But what is not mentioned is the overwhelming sense that this is a long lost post punk album from 1978, dusted off and launched into 2016 like a rocket. There’s a hint of early Siouxsie & the Banshees  on Katherine Whitaker’s vocals, Mission of Burma in the nihilistic punks rhythms and X-Ray Spex and Theatre of Hate with the brass section. There’s even a potential hit single, on Hey Buddy.

The live production feel helps, as does a deliberate move by the band to book very little studio time to make it “full of chaos and restlessness”, according to guitarist and vocalist Dan Moss.

As well as Hey Buddy, other standouts include the pub rock plus No Imitations and Suitcase Jimmy, the chaotic opener Haunted Wheelchair and Hot Sauce, the one with the funky bass. By the end we can’t help but feel excited by the work of what could very well be Britain’s best current rock band.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Evans the Death – Vanilla is released by Fortuna Pop on 10 June, 2016. More details here.

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Mission Of Burma, The Haunt, Brighton (1st July 2013)

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Mission Of Burma, The Haunt, Brighton (1st July 2013)

Posted on 06 July 2013 by Dorian

Mission of Burma have lived a pretty unconventional musical career. Splitting after only four years and one album in 1983 due to guitarist Roger Miller’s tinnitus they looked destined to be a cult favourite but nothing more than a musical footnote in the history of American punk. However, since reforming in 2002 after an almost two decade long break the band have released four critically acclaimed albums and probably played live more often than in their original phase.

Mission Of Burma

This slightly unconventional career path may explain the rather thin crowd that they face up to on a Monday night in Brighton. They neither quite fit the mould of a new band or a classic come-back act which means they don’t neatly fit into any musical boxes. This does mean that the crowd that does show-up is a pretty partisan set who want to hear the bands songs both old and new.

The band, aided and abetted by Shellac’s Bob Weston (who has taken on the tape loop role since they reformed), play a set that picks songs from across their career including brand new songs as well as singles from their first wave. This is a band that knows how to make a noise, distorted guitars, crunching bass and skin pounding and shouting from drummer Peter Prescott (shielded behind a perspex screen).

As someone who has only listened to the band’s recent albums a few times I did suffer with a lack of familiarity with the band’s songs for most of the set. In the most part the songs are lacking in obvious hooks and the slightly muddy live sound means it isn’t always easy to here the melody and lyrics which meant feeling slightly detached from the band onstage.

When I did let myself get lost in the wall of noise and the energy of the band and crowd this mattered less and I started to enjoy the gig a lot more. And when the band played songs I was more familiar with they sounded pretty great. This does mean that the band are not likely to appeal to the virgin audience but they are unlike to disappoint their loyal fans, and this was demonstrated clearly in The Haunt.

I did feel slightly cheated that the band didn’t play their most famous track, the brilliant ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’, but given their growing post reformation catalogue it would seem churlish to expect them to play every one of their better known early songs.

Mission Of Burma make a great noise and their energy is pretty exciting to watch, but potential audiences might want to invest some time listening to their recent albums before going to see them live.

By Dorian Rogers

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Mission of Burma – Unsound.

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Mission of Burma – Unsound.

Posted on 17 July 2012 by Joe

Unlike so many classic American punk and indie rock acts Mission of Burma’s return in 2004 was not about churning out hits of yesteryear on an increasingly tiring indie rock heritage trail. They are perhaps unique among US punk pioneers; still trailblazing new songs, still raw and remarkably still sounding like a bunch of teenagers playing together for the first time.

Their renaissance following a 21 year break, when guitarist Roger Miller’s tinnitus forced the band to split in 1983 after just four years together, has been so successful artistically that when people see them now their  old and new tracks  are called out for in equal  measure. That was certainly the case when we caught their show at Pavement’s ATP Festival in 2010.

Among the highlights from this renaissance has been 2006’s album Obliterati, with its Husker Du harmonies, killer bass melodies and even the oddest cover of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love you are ever likely to hear.

While Unsound follows the same path as this excellent example of a veteran band reborn (except for the Donna Summer covers) it still feels different and cutting edge. Play Unsound to a bunch teenage indie kids and they may well picture it being played by skinny jean teenagers rather than a trio of middle aged Boston-ites.

Take opening track Dust Devil, perfect three piece punk rock in action, bass carrying the melody, guitar and drums chopping around it and vocals with just the right level of distortion.

One of the key aspects of Mission of Burma is their desire to push the guitar, bass, drums and vocals template to the limit. The harmonics and wah-wah on second track Semi-Pseudo-Sort-Of-Plan may on paper not sound earth shattering but in this trio’s hands it sounds fresh as a daisy.

This is Hi-Fi is among is among the best on an album that has no duff tracks. Another highlight, Part the sea, has one of the best power chord openings of the year.

As well as the band’s trademark wooshing loops and background noises, including some backwards loops in places, they also add trumpets to the mix on a handful of tracks such as Add in Unison, which sounds like an unlikely blend of Canadian rockers No Means No and a Northern brass band. It was the band’s regular fourth member Bob Weston (of Shellac) who took trumpet duties on Unsound,  in addition to  providing his more usual production and looping work for the band.

On Unsound Mission of Burma continue to excite and challenge the punk and indie rock genres that they helped invent.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Mission of Burma – The Obliterati

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Mission of Burma – The Obliterati

Posted on 23 September 2010 by Joe

Among the best US punk bands to emerge in the late 1970s and 1980s was Boston’s Mission of Burma.

Just a look at their first 1979 line up shows they were no mere spirit-of-1977 wannabes, Roger Miller (guitar), Clint Conley (bass), Peter Prescott (drums) and Martin Swope (tape manipulator). How many bands of that era could boast a manipulator of tapes among their ranks?

After 1981’s seminal debut EP Signals, Calls and Marches, 1982’s debut album Vs and some spell binding live performances they split in 1983, in part due to Miller’s increasing problems with tinitus caused by the band’s notoriously loud gigs.

Mission of Burma - The Obliterati

A bunch of solo and side projects, such as Prescott’s band Volcano Suns, followed and then in 2002 Mission of Burma reformed, some twenty years after splitting. But this was no ordinary reunion offering a bunch of forty-somethings the chance to rake over past glories and earn fat pensions. The reformed Mission of Burma, which included Bob Weston from Shellac replacing Swope as manipulator of tapes and producer, emerged as fresh as a bunch of teenagers playing together for the first time, bustling with creativity.

OnOffOn, their first album since Vs, came out in 2004, but it is the band’s third album The Obliterati, which came out two years later, that we are focusing on here. The Obliterati is a mini-history in punk and its influences, showing the band clearly revitalised as individuals by being back together. Across the album Mission of Burma’s past present and future are laid out. Their own UK punk influences, in particularly Wire, are there, as is the music of their 1980s contemporaries such as Husker Du. They’ve also taken on board the music of the bands that they influenced throughout the rest of the 80s and 1990s, such as Pavement, Sonic Youth and Guided By Voices.

The opening three tracks are three of the best openers around. ‘2wice’, ‘Spider’s Web’ and ‘Donna Sumeria’, across all Miller sounds like Husker Du-era Grant Hart at his best. Donna Sumeria is wonderful stuff, slower pace with a great guitar hook that merges into the oddest version of Donna Summer’s disco classic ‘I Feel Love’ you may ever hear.

Across all of The Obliterati’s 14 tracks there something of interest. Take track ’13’ for example, with its violins at the beginning it sounds more like folkster Richard Thompson, before the bass and drums pile in. Another standout is ‘1001 Pleasant Dreams’, the most Husker Du sounding on the album.

The Obliterati is also highly political, recorded in the midst of one of the US’s most absurd ever governments, led by clown-in-chief George W Bush. ‘Man in Decline’ for example offers superb mock Bushisms such as, “continentalistical prophilaxis.”  The track ‘Nancy Reagan’s Head’ leaves the listener in no doubt as to Mission of Burma’s stance on US politics under Bush.

Feedback, violins, cellos, loops, pounding drums and melodic bass  – The Obliterati manages to sound like classic punk but something entirely new altogether.  With such energy it’s hard to fathom that this is a bunch of middle aged men that have been playing music for more than two decades and had only been back together for two years. As an introduction to Mission of Burma The Obliterati is a good place to start, merging the band’s original punk zest with a contemporary feel that gives the great bands they ended up influencing a few more lessons.

by Joe Lepper

For more information visit Mission of Burma’s homepage.

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