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20.9.11

The Swine - 'The Shade of Shit To Come' (self released) 4/5

The Swine are in reality one Canadian guy by the name of Aaron M. whose mission statement is 'to commit artistic suicide' and describes his music as powered by "sleep deprivation, shitty broken guitars, vox amps, a microphone he bought at value village for 4 dollars,", yup we are talking 'bedroomcore' time.

Now after many years of being an avid John Peel listener, I've grown fond of this type of ultra low-fi stripped down DIY punk and hardcore, and while I will admit, there is nothing here that will ever bother anything but the ears of the most underground and adventurous listener, for those who like their music so far out of left field it is disappearing over the boundary fence, this tasty five tracker has a lot to offer.

The opening cut Neon Suicide 1997 comes over a bit like a stripped down Melt-Banana, or Rolo Tomassi after an Eve Spence sex swap opp, all angry and angsty sonic experimentation. On the next track, Radio Hit, we are heading into more traditional hardcore territory with a sound that comes across a bit like and early demo from The Oppressed. Enriching Your Life Through The Power of Grindcore is classic crust core in the vien of The Electro Hippies, whilst Everyone Dies wouldn't stand out of place on a Pissed Jeans release. However the real treat is the closer Armageddon Song, a dark and twisted little nugget that sounds like Billy Bragg doing a Tom Waits impression, or maybe its the other way round.

Now I know this isn't going to everyones cuppa rosy by a very long chalk, but this is grass roots music at it's rawest. And if the true spirit of punk is that everyone can be a band, express themselves and make music then this is punk in its purest form.

for fans of... Rolo Tomassi, Melt Banana, Rottern Noise, Take A Sledgehammer To Your Nan....

This album can be downloaded from here... http://theswine.bandcamp.com/

Streetfight Silence - 'Secrets' (self released) 2.5/5


Streetfight Silence are a young band from Berkshire and this is their debut ep, althought they have banged out a couple of singles over the past year or so.


This band play sort of wanna be commercial indie rock in the sort of Coldplay, Nickleback type of style, and sadly I'm finding this release sadly lacking. Don't get me wrong, these lads have some good ideas I particularly like The Police style intro to Promise I Will Stay, but they let themselves down in so many ways. First of all the production here does them no favours at all. This type of commercial rock thrives on the big chorus, the immense guitar sound and this is what this ep doesn't have. Those nice choppy indie guitar lines that should sound so big and epic are tinny over powered by the lead vocal. Vocalist Russ hasn't got that bad a voice, but he sounds very one dimensional and almost annoyingly lifeless. Backing vocals seam to to be gaffer tapped over the top of the mix rather than bedded in properly and add nothing to the sound other than extra noise. The guitars are well played but again lacking in depth, everything is at the same level, so when you want a big impact moment nothing happens. The drums, especially the snare are far too high in the mix, whilst the cymbals are all to often lost. I really hope Streetfight Silence produced this themselves and these errors can be put down to inexperience and youth, cos if they paid someone to produce and mix this they really should be asking for their money back.

It's a shame for there is the germ of a good band in here somewhere. The Rhythm section is tight and some of the tracks on here, like Shining Armour and Seeing Ghosts (the best track on offer here) show the glimmer of a bent towards good catchy songsmithing. Ok in other places such as the ballad Conquer The World they aint so hot, but these lads are still young and have a lot to learn. I really would like to hear this outfit after a visit to to a studio with a producer who knows what he is doing, cos then we could really tell exactly how good Streetfight Silence are.

In conclusion I don't think this ep is going to do this band any good outside being a rough demo to get gigs with, and I wouldn't advise any of them to quit the day jobs at the moment either. BUT I would also advise them not to quit music either, rather keep working at it, learning from their mistakes and to take reviews such as this as constructive criticism; cos even the very best had to start somewhere.

for fans of... Coldplay, Nickleback, 21 Against etc...

The Subways - 'Money and Celebrity' (cooking vynil) 4/5


OK guilty confession time. I have a bit of a soft spot for this type of lightweight home grown pop punk, recent releases by Zaptopeks,  Kiria and The Skuzzies have really rang bell. Now I am finding myself develop a strong liking for this the third album from Essex upstarts The Subways.

Now all to often pop punk gets a bad press, mainly due to the endless wave of Blink 182 clones that have been flooding out of the states over the past ten years or so; and this is a shame, especially for our home grown take on the genre. For like so many other musical styles before UK bands have a good knack of taking something from over the pond and giving it a distinctive British vibe.

This album is a case a point. There are 12 cuts on offer here, 11 of which are packed with nice, slightly cheesy, but hellishly infectious little commercial punk numbers, none of which are over three and a half minutes long, packed with crisp riffs, tub thumping drums,  loads of up beat choruses and plenty of woo woo woo and hay yeah sing along bits. All good, if slightly predictable stuff.

Over all I'm reminded of those classic early albums from The Zatopeks, especially on tracks like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Friday, Like I Love You and It's A Party.But there is more to this album than that, the more you listen the more you begin to notice a real depth to both the music and the lyrics. Popdeath is groovy and cutting look at the price of fame, Down Our Street is a slice of social observation that reminds me of The Monkees classic 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and Rumours is a bit of a rocker with some really tasty unison riffage on show.

Then we have 'the other track', Celebrity. Now I dunno if its a fault on my promo copy, but on this copy of the album the track is 3.23 of silence. It could be a pressing error, but even if it is, the effect is perfect - a song with nothing to say about people with nothing to say. 

Over all this album is very well done, highly listenable and while it may not be earth shattering it is good fun and wont do the reputation of either The Subways or British pop punk in general any harm at all.

Worth a listen or five.

For fans of.... The Zatopeks, The Skuzzies, Babyshambles, Kiria etc...