Tag Archive | "Year Zero"

Dirty Water 2: More Birth of Punk Attitude

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Dirty Water 2: More Birth of Punk Attitude

Posted on 18 April 2011 by Joe

Veteran music journalist Kris Needs has been back to his record collection for a follow up to last year’s compilation Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude.

Once again he’s gone for an eclectic set of influences of punk, from Germany’s Faust to George Clinton’s Parliament and from 1960s obscure acts such as United States of America to the political charged folk of Woody Guthrie.

As with the previous collection it is a fine record of how punk developed and this time around features some of the earliest new wave and punk acts. Blondie’s 1976 track X Offender gets a spot and shows just how much 1960s girl groups influenced their take on new wave.

Across the 39 tracks there is also a welcome place for ‘Freakin Out’, another stormer from mid 1970s Detroit trio Death, and among our other highlights is the Tom Verlaine guitars on the intro to ‘Man Enough To Be A Woman’, by Jayne County.

There’s some familiar tracks ‘Suffragette City’ by David Bowie, ‘In The Street’ by Big Star and ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, but it is the obscurities that make this compilation such a stand out for us. ‘Children of the Sun’ by The Misunderstood and ‘The Story Of My Life’ by The Unrelated Segments are among our obscure highlights.

Also worth noting is the influence of reggae on punk. It is ‘Police and Thieves’ by Junior Marvin, which was later covered by The Clash, that is the welcome inclusion from the genre on this set.

As with any 39 track compilation it doesn’t all work. Jazz man Dizzy Gillespie’s style may have influenced punk, but his track ‘Bepop’ seems out of place here. The same can be said of The Silhouettes, who may have had a DIY approach to making music, but the barber shop track ‘Headin’ For The Poorhouse’ doesn’t quite work on this compilation.

These are small criticisms though. Dirty Water is fast turning into one of the best set of compilations around and we look forward to more obscurities being unearthed should a third volume be on the cards.

8.5/10

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude.

Veteran rock journalist Kris Needs has been back to his record collection this year for a follow up to last year’s excellent compilation Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude.

Once again he’s gone for an eclectic set of influences of punk from Germany’s Faust, to George Clinton’s Parliament from the 1970s, through to 1960s obscure acts such as United States of America and even further back to the political charged folk of woody Guthrie.

As with the previous collection its masterful shows how punk developed and this time around features some of the earliest new wave and punk acts. Blondie’s 1976 track X Offender gets a spot and shows just how even 1960s girl groups influenced punk.

Across the 39 tracks there is also a welcome place for ‘Freakin Out’, another stormer from mid 1970s Detroit trio Death, and the Tom Verlaine guitars on the intro to ‘Man Enough To Be A Woman’, by Jayne County are a thing of great beauty.

There’s some familiar tracks ‘Suffragette City’ by David Bowie, ‘In The Street’ by Big Star and ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, but it is the obscurities that make this compilation such a stand out for us. ‘Children of the Sun’ by The Misunderstood and ‘The Story Of My Life’ by The Unrelated Segments are among our obscure highlights.

Also worth noting is the influence of reggae on punk. It is Police and Thieves by Junior Marvin, which was later covered by The Clash, that is a welcome inclusion on this set.

As with any 39 track compilation it doesn’t all work. Dizzy Gillespie’s style may have influenced punk, but his track ‘Bepop’ seems out of place here. The same can be said of The Silhouettes, who may have had a DIY approach to making music, but their barber shop singing style and track ‘Headin’ For The Poorhouse’ don’t quite work on this compilation.

These are small criticisms though. Dirty Water is fast turning into one of the best set of compilations around and we look forward to more obscurities being unearthed should a third volume be on the cards.

8.5/10

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Sic Alps – Napa Asylum

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Sic Alps – Napa Asylum

Posted on 26 January 2011 by Joe

With Napa Asylum Sic Alps have created arguably the first genuine punk album of the year.

The San Francisco band of Mike Donovan and Matt Hartman, complete with extra guitars and drums from Noel von Harmonson, have stubbornly stuck with their eight track recorder to achieve the correct punk DIY feel. They have also served up an impressive 22 tracks, mostly around the one to three minute mark, to provide a sense of value for money that Joe Strummer would have been proud.

There’s always been elements of the punk pioneers from the 60s counter culture in Sic Alps music and that’s particularly the case on Napa Asylum, their fourth album. With its fuzzed up 60s melodies, it’s at times reminiscent of the likes of The Deviants, who featured on last year’s excellent Dirty Water punk pioneers compilation from Future Noise Music’s punk label Year Zero.

There’s a lot of similarities with Guided By Voices as well, melodic lo-fi pop delivered in tight, short bursts. But for our money Napa Asylum could be perhaps best described as Deerhunter without the slick production or perhaps even Wavves, but with more melody and likability.

Not all tracks work, but like one liners from a good comedian, there’s so many of them that it doesn’t matter. Wait a while and a gem will soon emerge.

Among the best are a run of tracks in the first half from the surf punk of ‘Cement Surfboard’ through to ‘Zeppo Epp,’ including the album’s standout ‘Saint Peter Writes His Book’.

But others such as (the overlong by Sic Alps standards) ‘Trip Train’ and the thoroughly unpleasant ‘My My Lai’ lack the melody and  garage punk chic of this album’s many other highlights.

Also , the lo-fi doesn’t always work. The bass can judder in the ears at time. But overall this is a giddy, heady slice of fuzzed up garage rock with some welcome punk attitude.

7.5/10

by Joe Lepper

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Dirty Water: The Birth Of Punk Attitude

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Dirty Water: The Birth Of Punk Attitude

Posted on 25 November 2010 by Joe

Speaking on BBC 6Music recently former Sex Pistol John Lydon listed his many influences. This included German band Can, but then he surprised the interviewer by fixing a piercing stare, pausing then adding, “don’t you dare leave out Abba.”

In compiling ‘Dirty Water: The Birth Of Punk Attitude’ journalist and DJ Kris Needs has thankfully chosen to leave out Abba but has provided us with no shortage of other surprises.

Can are included, so too are other more obvious influences on punk Dr Feelgood, New York Dolls and The Monks. But in mining music from the 1950s to the mid 1970s he has looked for punk roots in all sorts of other places.

For every obvious choice such as MC5, represented here with a live version of ‘Rocket Reducer No. 62′, there’s an off the wall selection like the DIY doowap sound of ‘Get A Job’ by The Silhouettes or ‘Elemental Child’ by T Rex.

There’s also some real discoveries on here for us at Neon Filler. I feel cheated to have lived so many years on earth without hearing the fantastic mid 70s metal sound of Detroit black punk trio Death, whose ‘Politicians in My Eyes’ is featured here. This is one of a number of standout discoveries, as is The Pink Fairies’ track ‘Do It’, from their 1971 debut album Never Never Land.

The Standells ‘Dirty Water’ is a downright dirty slice of mod influenced rhythm and blues as is The Hollywood Brats’ version of The Kinks’ ‘I Need You’, which appears here on CD for the first time.

For Needs, who is a former editor of the fanzine ZigZag, punk pioneering is about both musical influence and attitude. This explains the appearance of Gene Vincent, whose punk attitude and love of a good riff shaped The Cramps and much of Jon Spencer’s output. It also explains the appearance of  1960s counter culture  band  The Deviants, whose track ‘Garbage’ is featured here.

Mick Jones from The Clash’s favourite Mott the Hoople gets a place as does reggae act Culture’s ‘Two Sevens Clash,’ which influenced much of The Clash’s work.

Across the mammoth 33 tracks  all show a glimmer of the punk music to emerge in the late 1970s and indicate this wasn’t a music revolution at all – punks had been around for years.

This is now the third compilation to be sent to us through the Future Noise Music’s punk label Year Zero.  The previous two, under the ‘Bustin’ Out’ tag and focusing  at punk’s influence on electronic music, were also excellent collections but this latest is by far the pick of the bunch. Even the curmudgeonly Lydon would be hard pressed to find room for Abba on such a collection.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Bustin’ Out 1983: New Wave To New Beat

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Bustin’ Out 1983: New Wave To New Beat

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Joe

Just a few months after releasing the compilation Bustin Out 1982: New Wave To New Beat Volume 2, Future Noise Music’s Year Zero post punk label is back with the third instalment of their look back at the glory days of electro pop.

As with the last volume this compilation, called Bustin’ Out 1983: New Wave To New Beat and once again created by DJ Mike Maguire, features some lost classics, some more well known numbers and some downright cringe worthy moments.

Among the rarities is NewYork act Liquid Liquid with their infectious ‘Optimo’, all driving bass and cow bells, this is the highlight of the compilation. Another obscurity to stand out is the afro-electro pop of ‘ Masimba Bele’ by Germany’s The Unknown Cases. Featuring former Traffic percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah this is a cross over that really works.

Like the previous volumes there’s a story to be told in the evolution of electronic music. The move from punk to electro-pop is probably the biggest part of this and on this compilation this is represented by New Order, probably the most successful act to make this transition.

Bustin' Out 1983

The band’s excellent ‘Your Silent Face’ from their second album Power, Corruption, Lies features here. This is a wise choice of track, among their most electronic as the band’s trademark five string bass is replaced by keyboards. While Blue Monday would have been the obvious choice to represent the band during this time, it is welcome that this relatively little known track is given the praise it deserves. Its inclusion makes this compilation far more interesting than other more mainstream compilations looking at this era.

The global movement of electro-pop is also represented, through Belgium’s Front 242, Denmark’s Laid Back and Germany’s Xmal Deutschland. As well as Liquid Liquid, New York’s scene is further represented by Jonzun Crew and Special Request.

It’s not all good. It was after all the early 1980s, an era of ludicrous quiffs and shoulder pads. Among the embarrassing is Neon Judgement’s ‘Fashion Party’ and the casio keyboard basic electronica of John Carpenter’s ‘The End’ and ‘Salsa Smurf’ by Special Request.

There’s also a track that on first listen fits into this category of shame, but over time I’ve grown to love. Anne Clarke’s ‘Sleeper in Metropolis’ sounds like the rant of a student about ‘the system’, but dig deeper and its a harrowing if dated account of urban life.

The album ends perfectly with Cocteau Twin’s ‘Sugar Hiccup’, a track I haven’t heard for years, seemingly about burping while eating Cheerios, although the exact lyrics are open to debate.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Bustin Out 1982: New Wave To New Beat Volume 2

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The Monks – Black Monk Time

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The Monks – Black Monk Time

Posted on 23 September 2010 by Joe

The Monks were among the most curious of bands. Formed in the mid 1960s they were completely out of their time, had haircuts of actual monks, dressed like The Beatles, sang like Iggy and the Stooges and punk bands of the late 1970s, dabbled in feedback and influenced a diverse group of artists from Jimi Hendrix to Henry Rollins.

Created in 1964 by five American Gis stationed in Germany they were originally called the Torquays before being taken under the wing of two aspiring music managers, design students Walther Niemann and Karl-H.-Remy.

Remy and Niemann spotted a difference in the band to other so called beat combos of the time. Put simply it was an edge, which they drew out with marked effect.

The Monks

Musically it was punk before its time all wrapped up with tribal drumming and screaming vocals.  Melody went out the window. Feedback, meandering organ solos, distorted bass and even an electric banjo. It was the most unusual of sounds.

As if that wasn’t enough to mark out The Monks Remy and Niemann’s bizarre sense of design saw the band ruthlessly remodelled. Ordered to dress entirely in black on and off stage at all times, they also convinced the band to even shave the tops of their heads into real monk cuts.

After leaving the army the band stayed and played relentlessly around Germany and picked up enough of a following to interest Polydor, who signed them up.

Within three years of touring and beset with in-fighting they were left exhausted and called it quits. What they left behind was some early demos, some average later singles and just the one album, the fantastic Black Monk Time, the only time the sheer insanity and trail blazing qualities of the band were captured on disc.

Recorded in the early hours after they had played in venues in Germany Black Monk Time successfully recreates the energy of their live shows.

It can sound niaive in places lyrically and now almost 50 years on a little old fashioned, but remember this was 1966. What is perhaps most striking is how basic it is. The break up song ‘I Hate You ‘offers no thoughts of melancholy and confused angst just in your face lyrics such as  “I hate you baby with a passion.”

Check out the lyrics to ‘Complication’, “people cry, complication, people die for you, complication, people kill, complication.” This was pure punk, 10 years before the Ramones, Pistols and others.

Black Monk Time is one of the oddest record you will here. Of its time, with its Vietnam lyrics and 60s sound, yet so ahead of its time with its do-it yourself garage band punk ethos. The album was re-released in 2009 on Light in the Attic Records in a pretty good package that features a booklet about the band and a bunch of extra tracks that show the toned down direction Polydor wanted them to take through the singles ‘Cuckoo’ and the lame ‘Love  Can Tame The Wild’.

Perhaps Black Monk Time was the best the band could ever manage. It’s hard to tell, as the band were left shattered by touring leaving little energy for further creativity. The Monks singer and guitarist Gary Burger said of the break up. “All of us were skin and bones. Worn out physically and mentally, It was hard business and The Monks really took everything that we had.” They certainly gave it all on Black Monk Time, one we recommend for the most bizarre slice of medieval 60s punk you will ever hear.

By Joe Lepper

For more information about The Monks visit here

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Bustin’ Out 1982 New Wave to New Beat #2

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

There are many joys  of a good, well thought out compilation. The discovery of something wonderful and new or perhaps remembering long lost favourites.

For me one of the joys of hearing Bustin’ Out 1982 New Wave to New Beat #2, the latest compilation from Future Noise Music’s Year Zero post punk label, has been the chance to remember the sheer wonderfulness of  Gary Numan’s 1982 semi-hit ‘Music for Chameleons’

The three minute or so version charted at 19 in the UK singles chart in 1982, but it is the longer six minute version from his album I, Assassin that is such a welcome feature on this album.

It’s a remarkable track, conceived by the perfectionist, electro music pioneer and aviator Numan after hearing the rhythm of plane engines over water, and features some gloriously squelchy bass hooks, innovative (for the time) synth work and Numan’s familiar robotic, futuristic vocals.

Among the other gems across this compilation are Planet Rock’ by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force, which according to Year Zero was the first hiphop record to use a drum machine

Early house track Klein & M.B.O.’s ‘Dirty Talk’ and Dub Syndicate’s ‘Pounding System’, which was the opening track on their The Pounding System [Ambience in Dub] are other standouts.

Among the less well known nuggets is ‘My Spine Is My Bassline’, by former XTC keyboards player Barry Andrews and gang of Four bassist Dave Allen’s band Shriekback. This electro funk track will particularly please fans of XTC’s remixes and dub versions such as 1980’s Take Away/ Lure of Salvage.

There’s also some rarities to get the new wave collectors in a froth. Front 242’s ‘U Men’ is among these, with copies fetching around £300 according to Year Zero.

It’s not all jolly synths and marvels though. There are a few duffers. Among them is ‘Four Minutes’, the 12″ b-side of early 80s Athens, Georgia, band Pylon’s single, ‘Beep’. Fellow Athens natives REM famously said Pylon were the best rock and roll band in America but you’d be hard pressed to find a rock or dance groove in this dour and misguided track for the band.

Die Krupps ‘Goldfinger’, while interesting as a peak at electro Kraut rock, sounds, well, kind of silly 28 years on.

There’s some undoubtedly great songs peppered by some bad ones but without fail every track is at least interesting, and deserving of its place as an example of this odd transitionary time for post punk electronic music.

7.5/10

Available direct from Future Noise Music.

Full track listing
1. Goldfinger (Extended Version) – Die Krupps
2. Moody (Cut Down) – ESG
3. Dirty Talk (Radio Version) – Klein & MBO
4. Hip Hop Be Bop (Dub) – Man Parrish
5. Music For Cameleons (LP Version) – Gary Newman
6. U-Men – Front 242
7. Liberty City – Mark Stewart
8. Pounding System – Dub Syndicate
9. Dans Les Jardins – Bejamin Lew / Steven Brown
10. My Spine Is The Baseline – Shriekback
11. Breakdown – Colourbox
12. Planet Rock – Afrika Bamaataa & Soulsonic Force
13. Impulse – Chris & Cosey
14. Fiends – Portion Controle
15. Four Minutes – Pylon

by  Joe Lepper, May 2010

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