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15.10.11

The Skuzzies - 'The Skuzzies' (easy action) 4.5/5

London punks The Skuzzies, have been around for a few years now. Formed in a Deptford squat and making their live debut in 2004 supporting the Babyshambles at their notorious 'Battle Of Astoria' gig they have over the past seven years been building a solid reputation for themselves with some seriously dedicated road work and their critically acclaimed 2008 release of the 'Dissatisfied ep'. Now we have at last a full length album.

Now this lot are often pigeon-holed along with the current wave of pop-punk outfits that are the latest big trend at the moment (The Subways, Kiria etc); and I think this is a little unfair, for as good as The Subways and their ilk are, The Skuzzies are no mere band of pop-punk wannabes.

This is obvious from the moment you stick the CD into the player and the opener Hungry As A Hound  stalks snarling from the speakers. Make no bones about it, the sound that hits you is pure punk in the style of The Ruts, The Pigs and The Starjets. It may have a commercial edge to it, but it is still an angry glue bag full of attitude that has a distinctively 1977 sneer and stagger about it. And whilst in other places the Skuzzies do explore other areas of sonic entertainment, there are tracks like More Than This, Dissatisfied, Shotgun Romance and Rich Girls studded through out the album to keep reminding you exactly what the bands core mission statement is.

Even when The Skuzzies are wandering a little away from the more noticeable old school punk influences they still maintain the attitude and and keep true to the punk ethos. Brompton Cocktail sounds a little bit Velvet Underground, The Unknown Principle with its dark semi spoken vocal and lyrics like 'If blood is bondage then what is love, turn around throw a bomb and smash it down' hints at work of CRASS, Are You Sleeping has the spectre of The Boomtown Rats and The Clash about it; whilst album closer On the Corner (with a guest appearance from ex-Babyshambles main man Pete Doherty) is a great SKA influenced rock out that still maintains the spirit of 77 in its Special Brew fueled anarchic backbeat.

All this makes for a great album, one of the best punk albums of the last few years In my opinion and one that will do The Skuzzies or their steadily growing solid rep as being one of the most talented bands in the UK at the moment no harm at all. Very Highly Recommended.

For Fans Of... The Clash, The Subways, Kiria, CRASS, The Adverts, Bambi killers The Pigs etc...

Censored - 'Sunrise On The Checkered Horizon' (self released) 4/5

Now this is another interesting result of a bit of random net surfing. Censored, were a ska-core outfit out of Texas who formed around the turn of the millennium, and were only about for five or six years before splitting up. In that time they gigged a fair bit around their local area recorded a few demo eps and started demoing tracks for a full length album that never reached the recording phase. However now a couple of the bands former members have collected together the lost recordings and put out this collection in salute to the band and the album that never was.

Now although the recording and the production on this is a little ragged around the edges, these are demo recordings after all, I've gotta say the music on offer here is pretty damn good. It draws on influences from the classic two tone sounds of the likes of early Madness, the Specials and Selector, adds in a lot of King Prawn, Mighty Mighty Bosstones style modern punk SKA fusion and then sprinkles the whole lot with a good dose of crusty hardcore attitude.

All the tracks on offer are short and snappy, the longest being a shade over two and a half minutes, yet each one is a little gem, packed with high energy skanky guitars, viciously angry 'fuck the system' lyrics and some top rate danceable rhythms. The result is a snapshot of the great band Censored could well have been. Tracks like the glorious anti-military frenzy of Go Army, the slightly twisted Baby Killing Fiesta and the dub fueled Ghetto Boombox are all little gems that had they been properly recorded and released could well have become SKA-core classics. There is not a weak moment on offer and I defy all lovers of SKA, punk and hardcore not to find this album highly listenable.

However unless Censored decide to do the old reformation bit, tracks like these are set only to become lost gems, so I recommend all lovers of this kind of stuff to download this album (it is free after all) and keep this music alive before it is lost for ever.

A lost gem if ever there was.

For fans of... King Prawn, Madness, Dutty Luck, Operation Ivy, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones....

Download this album for free from - http://censored.bandcamp.com/album/sunrise-on-the-checkered-horizon

 Note - since penning the above I have received this message...
" Thanks for the kind words Jon! While the band is long gone, my love for ska and reggae remains. I'm glad that some fans of the genre can still find enjoyment in these recordings. The recording process is a storied one, for sure. We tried to track it three or four separate times. It seems each was interrupted by some new catastrophe; members in jail, stolen gear and more culminating in one of the recording studios getting burglarized along with our nearly-completed masters. This version of the album was created by making a rough master of some 30 minute mixes given to us leaving one of the earlier studio sessions to check out in the car. I left in all the talking before and after tracks, because why not?

If you get the chance and want to hear what I'm up to now, check out my current band Automorrow. Our new album is certainly more rock-oriented but you'll still find many traces of my love for ska and reggae within.

http://automorrow.bandcamp.com/album/no-rest


Cheers!

Michael DuFault"