The Social Ignition The Social Ignition (self-published)
It’s been a while since I heard a ska album as instantly infectious as this. Bouncing 2-Tone rhythms rub shoulders with a laid back reggae groove, all underpinned by layers of brass and a driving bass line, giving a new twist on the tradition of mixing up the pace of the music. Occasional hints of a punkier sound try to emerge too, but rarely come to any prominence, just giving extra depth to an already heady mix.
Although managing to avoid the common trap of trying to sound like The Specials/Toasters/ Rancid/whoever, they have a certain instant familiarity about their sound, taking elements of all those (and more) and twisting them into something new and hugely entertaining. An early contender for my ska album of the year, it’ll take a lot to top this.
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The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Double Negative (Leather Apron)
I think this is possibly the first time Scootering has reviewed an album with its roots in Steampunk, but it’s such a good release that it would be rude to pass it by out of tradition. Dark themes of body-snatching, human sacrifice, murder most foul, baby farming, revolution and similar topics are treated with the massive amount of black humour that you would associate with some early Psychobilly bands. Musically, they straddle the thin line between punk and rock, alternating as the mood takes them, often combining the two to give a greater depth to the sound.
It’s not an album set in the here and now either; the tales the songs tell all have their roots in the Victorian age, with the feeling that the musicians have been reading penny dreadfuls between writing songs, as you would expect from a group who draw a large part of their following from the Steampunk world. In short, if you’re familiar with Jeff Wayne’s ultimately optimistic War Of The Worlds, then this is its darker, inbred cousin. Set against the same background of crumbling empire, it’s an album that is worthy of repeated listens and examination of the themes throughout.
The Senior Service King Cobra (Damaged Goods)
Fans of the Medway Sound will be familiar with most, if not all, of the personnel on the latest release for The Senior Service, and know what to expect. Graham Day, Wolf Howard, Jonathan Barker and Darryl Howard have a history of making instrumental music heavily influenced by the cool end of Sixties film soundtracks, and this is no exception. Following on from their previous release The Girl In The Glass Case, this is another raging example of a band who know what they want having a good time in the studio. Giving each other musical space to experiment and pay freely, there is an openness about the album that comes when musicians trust their band members to know what goes where and, more importantly, when to do it. It’s hard to describe the sound other than to say that it’s hugely organ led and largely upbeat. Echoes of Bond films, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Prisoner all resonate through the album, yet somehow it’s not a dated sound but still harks heavily back to the Sixties.
Nosebleed Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor (TNS)
Mixing old school rock and roll guitar riffs and punk enthusiasm isn’t entirely new; many bands have walked that path before. What makes Nosebleed stand above the rest is the sheer ferocity with which the admittedly brief album grabs you and shakes you to the ground. A pounding drum line and stripped back guitar essentials, this is a voodoo rhythm of grand proportions, the influences of Fifties and Sixties garage are mixed with almost Cramps style strangeness, and run through a Jim Jones Review filter in one glorious audio assault. No nonsense filler here. What you get is thirteen tracks coming in at a total running time of marginally less than 22 minutes, a blistering pace by anyone’s reckoning, but the listener doesn’t feel robbed at the end of it, a brief roller coaster ride that you’re ready to get off… But then, would it hurt to go round once more? Press play again. We’ve got all day. Enjoy the ride.
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