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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wonkfest 3 - Review - The Dome, London

Wonkfest 3 

By rule of thumb, ALL DAYERS suck! The sound is shoddy because the sound engineer is working for too long and underpaid, the early bands tend to be shoddy local bands, all the bands start to sound the same and by the time the main bands are on you are usually too pissed to enjoy them. Not at WONKFEST!

What we got from start to finish is quality bands from all over the country, playing a different range of styles, with perfect length 25 minute sets, a free buffet & BBQ, and shit hot sound throughout. The beer was expensive, yet that’s just London – at least they had a range of bottled real ale on offer. This was how to do a mixed bill and it exposed the mundane nature of other established punk festivals who always stick to the same formula. The Wonkfest quite rightly labels itself as “21st Century Punk” – great keyring by the way! All in support of friends of the Wonk Unit, a local foodbank, and highlighting the plight of bees.

The Dome is a great venue. It has a large square hall with a wooden floor. The sound is loud, the set up means you can hear the music perfectly from everywhere in the room, and the lighting gives it a nice big show feel.

The first band we saw was BLACK VOLVO, a three-piece fast & heavy punk rock act, who had a singer seemingly sporting dyed blonde hair, and a drummer that enjoyed standing up. Then it was the turn of THE FUR COATS, one of the few bands from outside the UK, playing infectious pop punk. Back upstairs and it was time for Leeds’ TOSSERLAD playing fast rock n roll punk. It was great to hear some strong Yorkshire accents, and the guitarist had an amusing t-shirt that read: Curry makes you shit hot – appropriate Wonk humour. BOSCO ROGERS cancelled, so then it was 7 DAY CONSPIRACY, who shredded through a mix of mid 90s epifat riffs and skankable numbers. They had a good song with a catchy chorus about someone being a cunt. Their set was an important milestone for us, as we managed to keep up with our promise of not starting drinking until 2pm so that we could get through to the end of the night.

MEANSTEED then brought a welcome break from the punk-rock by thrashing their way some party metal hits. At one point the guitarist was being carried round the crowd on someone’s shoulders whilst still playing riffs: A great fun band. Then we were treated to a bit of Oi!/Classic Punk from THE REVERENDS, and it always heart-warming to see people in their 50s still rocking out on stage. Then it was the turn of SHEEPY playing some emo style pop punk. They had a song that only used the words relationship and no, which was quite amusing. Cute guys. Then it was the time for REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN who got the mother fucking party started. They blitzed through loads of songs, and managed to get the crowd doing circle pits, walls of death, and human pyramids! It wasn’t even 4pm and it was kicking off big time. BILLY LIAR didn’t play in the end, he was probably stuck somewhere writing another song about being in love with a crazy chick. PETROL GIRLS were a great discovery, a bit anarcho, a bit hardcore, and a bit Rage Against the Machine heavy awesomeness. The singer had a great homemade shirt with the words: Women Wonk Too, which had an anarchy sign inside the o of wonk. Things then started to wind down with an acoustic set from SIMON WELLS. Southport couldn’t play because the drummer couldn’t get any time off from his job a Pizza Hut. We got to hear three Southport and two Snuff songs, including the awesome ‘Martin’, which had a great back story about some dude from Leeds who used to hang out with the band and ended up being thrown in prison for selling drugs. I love it when punks go acoustic and during the spoken bits, go into more depth about the meaning / context of songs.

That brought about our designated half time break. We took a breather and went for a walk to the SOUTHAMPTON ARMS, which is the best ‘Ale, Cider, Meat’ pub in London. On the way back we stopped for a strategic piece of chicken and a can of Gin & Tonic with the crusties sat outside the local off licence.

MING CITY ROCKERS walked on stage looking like the bastard children of bad hair metal and the Libertines, yet treated us to a set of quality MC5 style, fast rock n roll. Then it was BEAT THE RED LIGHT who were playing one of their last ever shows, and they gave us some great ska-punk to boogie to. THE DEAD CLASS from Ireland reminded me of Alkaline Trio for some reason, they were really humble about being asked to reform for the show. WACO suffered from some technical difficulties which unfortunately lost the momentum of their set, they were good though. I have wanted to see THE ROUGHNECK RIOT for some time now and they were fucking class! Great celtic punk with celtic instruments and a raspy vocalist. They even played a cover of ‘You’ by Bad Religion, which pleased me no end. THE MURDERBURGERS were as class as ever, and then it was a nice novel surprise to see that the SLAVINKO WARRIORS was actually just a name for the secret set by SLAVES, who are adored by the music industry at present. They were really good, and appreciative to the Wonk for supporting them before they got big; so much so they are taking them on tour in big venues later in the year. Of course, WONK UNIT killed it and everyone was going mental for them. I somehow managed to stage dive and miss everyone completely, splatting my body onto the floor. We were both way too drunk by this stage, so unfortunately had to miss CULTURE SHOCK in order to head on back home, which was a shame.  

All in all, it was a fantastic festival, with a range of quality bands and positive people. Long live the Wonk! 10/10



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ten anti-capitalist songs of the Pet Shop Boys

Ten anti-capitalist songs of the Pet Shop Boys

You can hardly call a band that has sold 50 million records anti-capitalist, yet underneath all the glitz, glamour, and partying, there are many subtleties behind some of their lyrical content, which direct apply to many of the problems of living in a capitalist system. What follows is an analysis of some of their more outspoken lyrics in relation to the contradictions of capitalism. There aren’t many artists that make a living based on contradictions, yet the Pet Shop Boys remain one of them, combining elements of sad lyrics with happy melodies, and vice versa.

West End Girls (1984)

The bass line of this song is sampled from “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, which is a protest song in itself, commenting on the harsh realities of living in a ghetto and the lack of opportunities available. In contrast to New York, the Pet Shop Boys cough up their own thought on London life. The chorus kicks in with “In a western town, a dead end world”, where “no-one knows your name”.  It seems like a great existence in two of the supposed richest cities in the first world. It’s a critique of the concept of the individualism, “If, when, why, what, how much have you got?” and Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’, with “We’ve got no future, we’ve got no past”, which are both key influences of the ideological infliction of capitalisms most extreme model: neoliberalism. 

In an interview, Chris said that it was about the mixing of the classes during their time off work, for example a group of likely lads stumbling into a wine bar, it's about the rough getting some posh. In the past it was rare for different classes to mix - there were clear distinctions between residential areas. When the class system became more blurred and the middle class grew, alongside intensive gentrification, more and more people found themselves in an unfamiliar environment, mixing it up with other classes. This caused many people to develop new psychological states, such as "existential anxiety" and "urban neurosis". It's a song that is deeply entrenched in class politics, which would naturally fit in with an anti-capitalist narrative.

Furthermore, the video to the song has clips from an anti-apartheid vigil, which was still a controversial issue at the time. In the endless pursuit of profit at the expense of human exploitation, South Africa during the apartheid era was one of the worst case modern examples of openly racist state policies. Even now, with supposed equal human rights, there is still a huge class divide between white and black in South Africa. 

Left to my own devices (1988)

This is clearly an autobiographical account of Neil's experiences whilst growing up. The inner rebel is revealed when he sings about his ambition to be "Che Guevara and Debussi to a disco beat". Ironically enough, Neil worked for the teenage pop music magazine 'Smash Hits' before giving it all up to focus on the Pet Shop Boys full time. Perhaps that retrospective wisdom is confounded in the line "if you pass the test, you can beat the rest, I didn't want to compete or talk street street street". With most organisations now, following a scientific capitalist mode of production with a market based on competition, perhaps the best environment where one can still be openly creative, conscientious and critical, is the arts.

Go West (1993)

This was released a few years after the collapse of Soviet communism, and the imagery used in the video makes plenty of artistic references to this period. On the flip side, images of the West provide a stark contrast. The musical arrangements of the song even have thematic elements from the national anthem of the Soviet Union. Perhaps that was the reason why the song was so popular in Russia, invoking popular nationalism to go west. Unfortunately many Russians were duped during the hope of the post-Soviet era, which promised that change would be gradual and it would lead to people being better off.  What ended up happening was the poor getting poorer and the arrival of a filthy rich oligarch class. Think about all those billions of roubles belonging to the Russian taxpayers, embezzled and spent on stupid projects such as lining the pockets of footballers at Chelsea - surely this was the greatest working class rip-off? 

With it being a Village People cover, it’s likely to be more about a promised land, a gay utopia that isn’t achievable in a system that so heavily favors heterosexual relationships and families. In the past, being gay was demonised. They were an exploited class that didn't fit it with the ideal capitalist family unit. Of course things are very different now, those vultures working in media and consumer industries have found a way to make profit from gay identities and lifestyles.

Love etc. (2009)

It’s about greed and wanting more “you need more, you need more, you need more”, it’s a simple message, wealth does not put you in any better position to find true love. This relates to the issue of surplus value absorption: if capital can not be invested to make a further surplus, then the capital moves on to another place where it can. If we relate it back to the song, then if love cannot be reinvested to deepen it, then it becomes surplus to requirement and will find elsewhere to invest. Perhaps true love can never exist living under capitalist relations of production, because our souls are nurtured to always want more.   

Kings Cross (1987)

There is a spine chilling lyric at the start of the song: “the man at the back of the queue was sent, to feel the smack of firm government” and the chorus ends with “Wake up in the morning and there’s still no guarantee”. I guess this relates to unemployment and it being an inevitable aspect of capitalism, as without it employers aren’t able to drive down wages in order to keep competition for jobs. Kings Cross is symbolic of escaping to Londoners. Neil Lowe in an interview stated that, "King's Cross is an actual train station in London that, at least at the time, was crime-ridden and dingy...prostitution, drug addicts, and a lot of tramps come up to you there. I just thought that was a metaphor for Britain - people arriving at this place, waiting for an opportunity that doesn't happen...it's about hopes being dashed...It's an angry song about Thatcherism."

Suburbia (1986)

“Stood by the bus stop, with a felt pen, in this suburban hell”. Town planning was a condition of the industrial revolution. It created new urban sprawls full of people hanging around with nothing to do but get in trouble, whereby workers had no fruits of their labour to revel in. The capitalist soon realized that and started to create new forms of leisure and consumption to absorb the little of amount of surplus we create from our own labour, all in an attempt to escape the alienation our labour produces. In this day and age, it is those people that create alternative forms of recreation, devoid of a price and rebellious in nature, which are the ones that find true happiness and freedom.

It doesn’t often snow at Christmas (1997)

This is a rare outing of a song from a fan club single. It’s about the commercialisation of Christmas and how the original meaning of love and family has been lost. This relates to commodity fetishism and creating false desires. “Now it’s all about shopping, and how much things cost”, leads the bridge to the chorus. Anyone with a large family Christmas list will understand.

Rent (1987)

The video is about an older rich woman supporting a younger poor man, which relates to dependency theory, the 99% being dependent on the 1% for money, and the 1% being dependent on the 99% for an escape. Rent itself as a tool for exploitation and capital accumulation. Perhaps in the later periods of the capitalist epoch, A new form of love based on economic dependency has emerged, and this permeates through the themes of the song.

Opportunites (Let’s Make Lots of Money) (1985)

It’s about the neo-liberal opening of the London Stock Exchange. “Ask yourself this question: Do you want to be rich?” and “If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime” – and that’s what the event was, a legalization of previously criminal activity. In a way it’s a satire of Thatcherism and its embodiment of Yuppie culture. According to Neil Lowe, “It’s actually a joke that the two people in the song won’t actually make any money – it represents the fa├žade of capitalism that anyone can make it big”. Classic PBS Irony.

Shopping (1987)

“We check it with the city then change the law”, “It's easy when you got all the information, Inside help, no investigation, no questions in the house, no give and take, there's a big bang in the city, we're all on the make”, “I heard it in the house of commons, everything’s for sale”. In the 1980s, shopping moved from being a necessity to a leisure activity to absorb capital surplus back into the capitalist class. Christ Tennant actually said that the song is about the government selling off national industries, which they were personally against. In the great neoliberal public sector grab, everything was for sale.  

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Manchester Punk Festival 2015 Review Poem

Manchester Punk Festival 2015 

So Manchester Punk Festival was a mind blowing experience. 
Years of experience of attending Fest, meant those at the helm could provide us the best
Set up, where those at the Sound desk were master full in Control,
And a squat simulation basement to sing and shout 'Woah'.
No need for a stroll beyond a 100 metre radius of Oxford Road
Without townie eyes needlesly prying.
An overwhelming turn out had settled the soul,
With the Murderburgers signing off nicely with 'all my best friends are dying'.
Acoustical joy in the Thirsty Scholar, with Captain Hotknives, Joe McMahon, and Billy Liar.
Even the heckle was coaxed out of retire
Much to the merry ment of a joyful choir.

Quality starter and mid session ales,
In the Salisbury's well kept cellar, that never fails.
To warm the springtime with some FC United fans in session
from Mansfield and beyond, who taught us a lesson.
About punk football, and sticking it to the man
A lovely paper programme kept us in the plan.
To teach us a lesson about pop and punk,
Where the Wonk Unit pumelled to an outstanding pop
With their disco punk getting the old punks to bop
To the songs and the sounds of sparkling donkeys
In a haze and a blur of Parklife meets Musical Monkey
Joseph Holt Maple Moon and strategic Old Rosies
Double Whiskey Noise Cokes on the cobbled streets a cozy.
To an unimaginable day of Mancunian sun.
A burrito and cocktails to ensure the nights fun.
New establishments bound so we didn't Peveril of the Peak.
I wish we could do this, every week. 

A virgin experience of Muncie Girls,
Whose wonderful vocals caused the brain swirls to unfurl.
The crazy pit antics from those at The Restarts,
With joyful songs about our rebellious upstarts.
And I never though I'd say it to this day,
Yet Apologies, I Have None killed the night away.
Spitfire and crusties singing songs outside about Whiskey.
Mellowed into beers in the park and a magic football kicksy.
And two old bums reminisced rheumy eyed whilst playing football tennis,
Marvelling at the Mancunian architecture without counting the pennies.

To the after gig at the Retro Bar, queuing by the door like 14 year old kids
At a NOFX concert, just to make sure of being in the mix.
Against Me! covers set was a League Apart,
Such a ridiculous affair, and a massive singing part.
As those did a great job with that their song selection.
Sent the night into overdrive without need for destruction
And then Out Come the Wolves in the moonlit eleventh hour
Then the last train back to Leeds with a cold can of red stripe to devour.
Straight into the taxi and tucked up in bed,
By 2:30am and a warm fuzzy head.
Not bad for the getting old timers 
2016 let's do it again.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FREE DOWNLOADS of all back issues of Ont Road Zine

Back issues of Ont Road Zine - FREE DOWNLOADS

Issue 11 featuring: Ont Road with Hero Dishonest in the UK & USA (Tour Reports), Stories about getting in trouble with Police, Non-League Football, Ont Rail & Road in Europe (Travel Report), Gig and Record Reviews. 40 pages, Approx. 20,000 words.

Issue 12 featuring travels in: St. Kitts & Nevis, Prague, Lisbon, UK & Eire. On tour with: Hero Dishonest, Sotatila, Ruidosa Inmundicia. Articles about: Public Transport Romance, Essential Travel Items, The Scene Today, The Manic Street Preachers, Fluff Fest. Plus: Fanzine & Record Reviews
20,000 words, 40 pages.

Issue 13 features a travel report to a darts tournament in Holland, in-depth band features on Teenage Bottlerocket, Leatherface & Manic Street Preachers, a Sotatila / Pisschrist Euro tour diary, crimethinc writings, football stories, zine and record reviews.

 Issue 14 - This issue is a special issue, which features a 20,000 word travel report of a 2 month long trip that I made, down the West Coast of the USA, and into Texas.

Issue 15 is another 20,000 word bumper issue featuring travels in Romania, Mallorca, Czech Republic, USA, as well as articles on Concrete Sox, Lady Gaga, Accidents, Manic Street Preachers, Bad Religion, and the1 in 12 club darts tournament.

Issue 16 is an extended piece on travel in Athens, Greece. Short articles on Romania, East Bay, Eggheads, and Punk football. Interviews with The Afternoon Gentlemen, Geoffrey Oi!cott, and Mouth.

Issue 17 is a bumper 30,000 words featuring articles on: Amsterdam, Glastonbury Festival, Deep South of the USA (Georgia, New Orleans, Texas - Wrestlemania, Lady Gaga, Defect Defect), Monster Bash in Berlin (NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket & Descendents), Hitchiking in Eastern Europe, Meeting your favorite bands, On tour with Leatherface in Germany, Eastern Europe (Czech, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Greece), and Punk Football (Dynamo Bucharest). Packed full of punk-rock anecdotes!

 The final issue 18 features an extensive tour diary with Leatherface in Russia & Finland, an interview with Cubesville Zine, mischief in the Baltic States, pub crawling in Mulheim, incidents with the police, and the Manic Street Preachers.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Concrete Sox - Live at the Kopi - Worst gig ever?

Concrete Sox Euro ‘Tour’ 2010 

(aka how to make a complete embarrassment of yourself) 

The most amusing sham of a tour you’ll read about for years to come.

Ont Road Exclusive Report

Not a band I’ve ever had a liking for and had an affiliation with; yet during a summer trip in Germany I soon discovered a set of circumstances that the band was involved in, which has now become legendary, and not for the right reasons. Following a series of interviews with veteran scenesters, Ont Road can exclusively reveal the events that lead to their infamous performance in Berlin being described as ‘the worst gig ever?’

Even before the band hit the mainland, all was not well at Camp Sox. Seven days before the tour, a desperate plea was put out as a facebook status update by Vic, guitarist, singer, and only remaining original member of the band, asking if anyone would to play drums on the upcoming tour - at this stage any rational musician would have pulled the plug - yet the war machine was still at work, so Vic pulled up his sox, and found a replacement to continue the nightmare.

Those with strong intuitions would have been concerned with what happened immediately after the band arrived at the German airport. Within 5 minutes of stepping into the van, Vic gave the driver a CD to play. Much to his surprise it was the limited edition, sought after, Concrete Sox instrumental greatest hits compilation. Looking into the rear view mirror, the driver said he was in disbelief, watching the guitarist trying to play along and learn the songs.

Three days later, Ont Road editor, Herr Schwarzbrennen, found himself on the streets with with nowhere to stay, after seeing the excellent Chicago garage band M.O.T.O. live in Berlin. Thankfully there was a show taking place at the Kopi, featuring Concrete Sox, who were labelled on the flyer as ‘legendary UK crust’. The expectation was high.

The most striking thing about their stage presence was a song sheet stand in front of Vic that held a folder, which he was urgently flicking through between songs. At one point, for a good 30 seconds, as the rest of the band were playing the start of the song, he was just bent over looking through the book. After 2 songs it was clear that the band couldn’t play together.

The German audiences are not well known for making wild or mildly enthusiastic crowd responses; yet the subdued and morose atmosphere during their performance was taking things to the extreme. Most people were stood in circles, having conversations with their friends, whilst the band plodded along, desperately trying not to acknowledge the fact that they were out of time, and sounded like dog-shit. In fact, the band looked uncomfortable together, and were regularly making awkward gestures towards each other.

They were so bad that a German punk defied belief by engaging in the art of the heckle. In an exhibition as pleasing as an unmade bed, Vic responded to a standard heckle of ‘Go home’, with the much thought out ‘No. You go home’. A tumble-weed then blew across the stage.

The set is best summed up, not by the few songs they managed to get through, or the crowd reaction; it is by their choice of songs to cover. Social Distortion was a bizarre choice, yet the song ‘Left me for dead’ by English Dogs proved to be prophetic, as Vic sang out ‘Leave me be, leave me be, I’ve had enough, can’t you see’ to the rapidly depleting audience.

Just as John Lydon of the Sex Pistols announced at the end of their final concert with reflective wisdom, uttering ‘Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’, this was probably running through the minds of all the paying punters, as the Sox set is cut drastically short and Vic sheepishly says, ‘I’d like to apologise, we’ve fucked up’...and so ends the show.

After the show, the band were spotted having a number of arguments with each other. However, the following morning the time came for the Sox to finally hang out and dry. The tour organiser, who had received complaints from the promoters of the two shows they had played on the tour, informed the band that he had cancelled the rest of the tour in order to save his reputation, and that this was the first time he has ever had to carry out such drastic action.

Geriatric Unit were supposed to play a show with them later in the tour, and when singer Gords, phoned Vic to see what time they were arriving, he was told ‘it’s all gone to shit mate, i’ll speak to you later’ before being cut off.

And so it remains, the calamity that was the Concrete Sox ‘Sham and no 69’ European Tour 2010. Concrete Sox (Live in Berlin) - The Worst Gig Ever? cassette tape is available from www.kickasstapes.jimdo.com, based in Berlin, Germany.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Punk Rock songs about Heavy Metal (Compilation)

Punk-rock songs about Heavy METAL!

A list of punk-rock songs about Heavy Metal and the best lyrics in brackets.

Diesel Boy – Cock Rock (I love the spandex that they wear, I saw Dio when he had hair. Well I know metal is dead, But I love to bang my head, and throw my fists up into the air, I know Ozzy Osbourne's old but I don't care)

Sack – Headbanger (And then this guy took off his denim jacket, and his shirt said 'Bark at the Moon'. He was a headbanger. He whipped his head around so fast He gave himself a concussion. Dude you better slow down, Before you break your neck, You know that shit can't be good for your brain)

Guttermouth – When Hell Freezes Over (You were good 20 years ago. Too much pot, A little too much blow! Now the bypass surgery, New hip At seisure world. Enjoy your stay. Shuffle Board, Bingo, Macrame. 3 hot meals liquified for you!)

No Use For A Name – Gene and Paul I hate you all (Gene and Paul I hate you most of all. Ace your the ace and Peter your the cat)

Descendents – Rock star (Rockstar. Poser. Asshole. Loser. Satisfaction. Recognition. Leave me alone. Let's see if we can exploit rock and roll to its fullest potential)

Frenzal Rhomb – Russell Crowes band (I don't get a million bucks for getting out of bed, I don't get a million fucks when I punch folks in the head, And even if we know we never get a billboard top 10 hit, At least we know Russell Crowe's bands a fucking pile of shit)

Guns N Wankers – 668 (Argh!)

NOFX – Kill Rock Stars ("Kill the rockstars" how ironic, Kathleen. You've been crowned the newest queen. Kinda like the punk rock Gloria Steinham. You can't change the world by blaming men. Can't change the world by hating men)

Propagandhi – Back to the Motor League (But what have we here? 15 years later it still reeks of swill and Chickenshit Conformists. With their fists in the ai . Like-father, like-son "rebels" bloated on korn, eminems and bizkits. Lord, hear our prayer: Take back your Amy Grant mosh-crews and fair-weather politics. Blow-dry my hair and stick me on a ten-speed. Back to the Motor League)

Screeching Weasel – I hate Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant is a slimy fuck. John Bonham man, he really sucked. Those greedy fuckers, those phoney shits. They made their money off idiots. I hate Led Zeppelin. 12 dollar concerts were all the rage. They bought cocaine for Jimmy Page. "Stairway to Heaven" makes me see red. Bonzo's buried, only three more left. I hate Led Zeppelin)

Nerf Hereder – Pantera Fans in Love (I'll bring the wine you bring the bread and cheese. It's hard to eat when you're headbanging. Makin' out in the middle of the pit. How come Slayer doesn't sing about this. If anything comes between you and me. Then heavy metal heaven, that's where we'll meet. We are Pantera fans in love)

Circle Jerks – American heavy metal weekend (The English, sure we'll give 'em a break. With their Hiwatts and their Marshalls. It started here make no mistake. It's alway real and never fake. Platform boots and puffy hair. Gotta raise and scare. Metal merchants peddle their wares. No U.S. made buyer beware)

Napalm Death – Cock rock alienation (Capitalism, racism, sexism. The foundations of cock-rocking idealism. Exploiting, sucking, manipulating. The wisdom of a starry-eyed nation. Making "idols" out of assholes. "Raunchy" "hunky" machismo type fools. "Who cares if they've got no brains. Just give us tits and tools!" Fantasy? Reality? Distinction? Satisfaction?)

Larm – Metal Attitude Sucks (Everybody’s going metal why shoudn’t you, 666 and sexism does it please you? Metal attitude sucks. High door prices major record company, rock star assholes making big money. Metal attitude sucks. Hardcore is generic, Metal is okay, but we know better so this is what we say: Metal attitude sucks. Better support Hardcore if you’re a punk)

Dayglo Abortions – Acting like Black Sabbath (Acting like black sabbath is lots of fun. Their records sound so heavy when I turn them on. I jump up and down and pretend I'm them. I can almost make the change. Tony Iommi is my god. His guitar solos have been osterized. Ozzy Osbourne is so out in space. That he'd probably love me if I pissed on his face)

Conflict – Metal Mania (Seen my bird, my Satan tattoos, I'm here to get fucked right out my nut, I'm jacking up, then falling down, but the lights, the dry ice, the stage act, Have you ever thought of directing energy towards action? "Action, I'd sooner fuck my motorbike",You pile of sexist, drugged up macho shit; you're a hindrance not a help, So go on bang your head harder, we hope it drops right off)

Scholastic Death - we think metal music is awesome, but everything connected to it sucks including you (what the fuck is going on? kids at hardcore shows wearing some fascist shirt, accepted since its "metal", why aren't you living up to your own ideals? screw all that fucking shit, punks shouldn't be supporting it,"hey dude, the music fucking rips", "i don't listen of music for the politics" well I call you out on your fucking shit)

© @Schwarzbrennen

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Music to remember dead friends by... a punk-rock compilation.

Music to remember dead friends by… 

Mumblings on those that have passed and contemporary observations on the songs that surround them.

It’s great to write a music article again, and for no apparent reason this article is peppered with photos of bands I’ve seen recently.

Over the past few years, a few people close and not so close to me have passed away. More recently, I was sat alone at a third division Danish football match, slighty morose after two beers that topped me up from the night before, and I spent the whole match in a day dream about all those whose souls had moved on. I found it therapeutic. This all came to ahead a few weeks ago when I heard two songs on shuffle, back to back, that reminded me of dead people, and thus the idea of the ‘Songs to remember dead friends by’ compilation came about. What follows is a run down of the tracks that made it, and why.

Disclaimer: It’s difficult to find songs that exclusively deal with death, outside of ones that are directly about an individual or a community, so I make no apologies that some of these songs may be about loss in general. 

Track One: No Use For A Name – On the outside

I’ve never given a shit about the death of celebrities or famous people. In fact, it nauseates me to see endless amounts of people posting links on social networking sites about the latest celebrity death, “Robin Williams RIP”. It’s like people are resorting to DIY journalism, to be first at the scene. Needless to say my comments on this received a tonne of criticism. Still, I stand by these words, and it’s typical of the society we live in today when people feel more sadness towards the death of a celebrity, rather than working class heroes or those in their local community.

Tony Sly was different. He was just a punk-rock songwriter that managed to write songs that resonated with me as a teenager growing up ‘out of step’ with the world. His death shocked and saddened me, and it brought back fond memories of a time in 1999 when we went to a gig in Sheffield to see some US bands, and afterwards we had an epic game of 5 a side with Tony & the rest of No Use For A Name in the adjacent car park. The amount of bands that contributed to the tribute LP is testament to how widely loved he was – RIP Tony Sly.

Choice lyric: “I'm dying on the inside, you're never coming back, and now I know whatever we go through, my heart is stuck with you.”

Track Two: The Murderburgers – All my best friends are dying

Perish the thought. I’ve never had a ‘best’ friend die on me, yet the impact some deaths have had on me, I dread to feel the sadness. This is a beautiful song, melodic and catchy music, combined with dark and regretful lyrics. A perfect song for a post- Gin & Tonic melancholic mindset.

Choice lyric: “Snap back a few years ago, we had loads of fucking time. All of our omens seemed benign, now all we see is warning signs.”

Track Three: Against Me! – Dead friend

Have you heard the new Against Me! Album ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’? If like many of us you disappeared from the horizon after some poor musical output during their time on a major label, then it’s time to re-visit. Tom Gabel’s transition to Laura Jane Grace, combined with band members leaving, has led to an introspective look at themselves, and this new record is a ‘return to the roots’ effort, full of pacey, catchy punk rock anthems, full of anger. They were incredible during their recent Leeds show, and once again proved how damn good they are. ‘Dead Friend’ is one of the new tracks, and it’s simple chorus serves as a poignant reminder not to forget those who have passed by the wayside.

On a side note, Tom Gable (now Laura Jane Grace) coming out into the mainstream as a transgender is one of the best things to happen in punk-rock recently. It’s great that these issues are permeating the mainstream, and hopefully it will inspire a generation of transgender punks to be more confident in themselves.

Choice lyric: “God damn, I miss my dead friend.”

Against Me!

Track Four: The Vandals – My girlfriends dead

A bit of a bizarre choice here: This is a tongue in cheek fictional song about someone who can’t cope with telling people that his girlfriend has left him, and the on coming questions that ensue, so he just tells people that she died to end the conversation. It’s classic pre-banter humour as we have come to know from the Vandals, and its inclusion on the compilation was merely to provide some light relief from the heavy content.

Choice lyric: “I say it's leukemia or sometimes bulimia, or a great big truck ran her over and chopped off her head.”

Track Five: Sage Francis – Jah didn’t kill Johnny

I’d been a fan of the ‘Crakpipes’ debut Sage Francis record since it’s release on Epitaph records, as it stood out on a punk label. Good quality ‘white man’ hip-hop that has deep socio-political lyrics. At a recent show at the Brudenell Social Club, Sage went on a long rant about paying homage to those of yesteryears, and how they should be remembered. I was expecting the usual homage to a dead rapper, yet out of the blue he announced the song was about Johnny Cash – it was a great cross over to see homage come to someone outside of the genre – this is creative hip-hop. The timely message is a denouncement of all the religious bullshit of ‘god give life, god take it away’, and eulogises the rebel heart in a way that he should always be remembered.

Choice lyric: “But God, God, God...would never...kill...Johny Cash. He had a train to catch. He had a date with death. And we've all got a train to catch.”

Sleaford Mods

Track Six: Leatherface – Not a day goes by

The obvious choice Leatherface song here would’ve been ‘Andy’ – a song about a former member that died – however, with the recent death of Leatherface driver and manager ‘Big Rock’ it felt appropriate to include an alternative track that symbolises the loss of a loved one. For more information on the life of Chris Schaefer, see my previous post: CLICK HERE

Choice lyric: “No I, didn't think you were wrong and I can still sing your favourite song. It's not as simple as forgetting presents that were bought. And not a day goes by when I don't spare you a thought.”

Track Seven: HDQ – Hand me downs

It had to be a back-to-back Sunderland song choice. This song is about the author’s brother who fell to addiction. It brings tears to the eyes, even without that context. We don’t want another one from the clan disappearing – if you’re reading son, steady away tiger.

Choice lyric: “Brother, where art thou? I feel like the Soggy Bottom Boys without the voice. Your hand me downs I’ve long since grown out of, I miss you, I’m missing you”.

Rocket From The Crypt

Track Eight: Descendents – Jean is dead

A track about suicide? Henry Rollins got a lot of shit for calling the act selfish for those that are parents. As a parent myself, I can empathise with these thoughts. I have never seen eye to eye with the man, yet this time round I think he had a point. See link here for more background on the story: CLICK HERE

Choice lyric: “I would have done anything, I would have taken you with me, or brought you a ring, but now you're gone and, I'm alone!”

Track Nine: Bad Religion – Pity the dead

A punk-rock compilation without a dissecting look at the issues of looking at death from the outside wouldn’t be complete? We could have had other Bad Religion songs here: ‘Better Off Dead’ – how often do we feel this towards those that anger us? Or ‘You don’t belong’ – an analysis of some of those that faded away during the early days of the LA punk scene. However, ‘Pity the Dead’ is a classic Bad Religion thinking song, which begs the question, is life actually better here in the living?

Choice lyric: “Well, you've seen the disease, suffering and decay, and you whisper to yourself blissfully "it's okay", and you still refuse the possibility, that the dead are better off than we.”

Evil Blizzard
Track Ten: Body Count – The winner looses

‘You wanna get high out the sky, you’re kissing your life goodbye’  - a great chorus line, almost better than ‘No Coke’ by Dr Albarn which offers ‘Cocaine will blow your brain, and ecstasy will mash your life!’ Who needs straight edge hardcore when you have Ice T and other cultural icons offering these pearls of advice? Experimenting with drugs can be a positive eye opening experience for some, yet along hard addiction has seen too many break on through to the other side.

Choice lyric: “He took the money to the dope man, and he said he had the best,
next thing ya knew, cardiac arrest!”

Track Eleven: NOFX – We threw gasoline on the fire…

There is a reference at the end of the song to the death of former Maximumrocknroll editor Tim Yohannan, which is quite a turnaround from their song ‘Im telling Tim’ which is a critique of his manner, and written whilst he was alive. I guess in this day and age when everyone is a NOFX henchmen, Fat Mike really does miss those that were able to call him out on his shit. 

Choice lyric: “Remember the good old days, remember the sound, remember the sweet mustiness underground. No, I don't feel the need for reliving. Some things are better off dead.“

Track Twelve:  Teenage Bottlerocket – Without you

The kings of pop-punk songs about being a looser and failed states to do with women. There could’ve been a number of songs from these guys. I just went with an obscure song for something different.
Choice lyric: “And those nights we talked for hours on the phone, but now you're gone and I feel so all alone.”
Means to an End Festival
Track Thirteen:  The Phoenix Foundation – To a lost friend

This track is about someone the author considered a best friend when they were younger, and as they grew up, they grew apart. It’s a beautiful song, and not by any means a familiar Phoenix Foundation number. Ironically when they crossed paths again in the future, and the person in question had heard the song and asked if it was about them.  The relevance of the song to the article just goes to show how easily people can drift apart, and be easily forgotten.

Choice lyric: “What are you thinking now. When all we had is gone. What if you’d see me now. Would you act like nothing’s wrong.”

Track Fourteen: Manic Street Preachers – Further Away

You have to wonder how many Manic Street Preachers songs are about missing Richie Edwards. This is a candidate, and considering it’s on their first record since his disappearance; it almost has to be. Without an official post-mortem, and no record of death, it must be even harder to deal with the loss, and Richie Edwards has almost become a metaphor for those lost without explanation.  

Choice lyric: “The happier I am when I'm with you, the harder it gets when I am alone.”

Track Fifteen: Bad Astronaut – The Passenger

Supposedly written from the perspective of a passenger on the 9/11 flight, which in itself is an incredibly challenging topic to base a song on, it’s even more haunting that in the outro there is a recording of a voice reading a passage from the Koran. Many religions believe in some kind of ‘life after death’, ‘re-incarnation’ or a ‘transition of the soul’ kind of thing. Yet for the rational among us, we know this is a load of old shit. When you are dead, that’s it. Gone. End.

Choice lyric: “I'm held accomplice to man's will, the faith transcending reason,
the passenger descending, and in an instant time stands still, fade, planet heartbreak , Stop thinking.” 

Manic Street Preachers