Archive for January, 2015

New Monthly Podcast!

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey, look, it’s 2015! And KTOTT has gone into the world of audio..! That’s right, as part of The Amp Session, at KTOTT towers, we are now doing monthly podcasts, mainly comprised of songs from new releases which will also be reviewed/featured on the blog. For more info. and to hear the first podcast (Jan 16th), click here:

http://www.mixcloud.com/TheAmpSession/keep-track-of-the-time-16th-january-2015/

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It’s been almost a year since I wrote the first “Classic Pop Punk Pick” which was Wiggle! I’ve had a lot of fun writing this column and I am quite happy with some of the picks, and sort of embarrassed by others. I don’t know how many people actually reads this column, but I’m always stunned that someone reads it at all! So I was extra stoked when I actually got a request! I was asked to do a Groovie Ghoulies album, and it’s not really a band I’ve listened that much to, but I’ve listened to Appetite for Adrenochrome some and even the covers on the album I really like what Kepi and the gang did with them! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pick a Me first and the gimme gimmes and write about famous pop songs, but I’m going to try for this album and as well write about Kepi’s originals that are pretty good too. I think the album Fun in the Dark is good as well, especially the songs “(she’s got a) Brain Scramblin’ Device”, “Carly Simon” and the cover of New York dolls’ “Lonely Planet Boy”; in fact, I think that cover is better than the original. I still like Appetite better even if I hate the album the title is based on.

Appetite for Adrenochrome was released in 1989 on Crimson Corpse records. The album cover is pink and has a monster sneaking its head out of a hearse. Usually when I think of horror punk I think of Misfits and dark images, but the Ghoulies mix this with something light and happy, and even childlike, and that makes the album cover very appropriate.
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1. “Lost Generation”: A punk rock opener! It almost has a Bad religion meets Social D meets the Ramones feel to it. The song starts a theme in the Ghoulies Horror-Punk repertoire, apocalypse and human decay. It’s a song where the protagonist fears being destroyed by radiation and that what lies ahead is destruction and that the generation will be the “lost generation” and how people are apathetic to this: “Maybe if we don’t talk about it, it will just go away”.

2. “Do the Bat”: “The bat” sounds like a fun dance. The song continues in the tradition of songs about dances, sometimes the song even starts the dance, I’m not sure if this is true for “the bat” or if people actually do the bat. It continues in the tradition of “do the twist”, “do the dog” and others. The song is about someone taking their baby out to dance, doing the bat. The song both adds to the pop punk retro oldies theme and to the horror theme, because bats are freaky. This dance seems rather unpleasant and bloody.

3. “Armageddon 2000”: A slower tempo and a really good song! The song continues all the themes of the previous numbers, the apocalyptic one, the horror one and the dancing one “then the world is gonna rock steady”. The song predicts the apocalypse of the new millennium 10 years before it (Gosh, we’re getting old, this is 25 years ago). The next song also predicts the new millennium, even it is a cover that goes way back.

4. “2000 man”: A cover of the Rolling stones from their weird and underrated Her Majesty’s Satanic Request. Kepi’s Mick Jagger impression is pretty cool! The Stones song was a look into the future and what the “2000 man” would be like. The Ghoulies version is a little closer to the “new” millennium, but still 11 years away. He sings “My wife still respect even if I really misuse her/I’ve been having an affair with a random computer”, this futuristic science fiction look of our time seems strangely appropriate.

5. “My Computer Says “Kill’”: This album has some similarities with the Screeching weasel album “Anthem For a New Tomorrow” as a theme from the previous song continues in the next, in fact there seems to be ongoing themes throughout the entire album. The idea of computers taking over in the future continues and goes even further: it says we will become extinct like the dinosaurs and pre-historic beings and computers will take over. We’ll just be mindless bodies who do what the computer tells us. The protagonist in the song just follows instructions and kills. I don’t know if this prediction has any truth in it, but how much computers are affecting our lives seems to be foreseen in this track. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point where the computer says “kill” and we say “all right” and then take a selfie, though.

6. “King Kong”(also known as “The King Kong stomp”): A cover of Gene Moss (singing as Dracula), the original is in the same genre as Dickie Goodman (who had songs like “My Baby Loves Monster Movies” and “Dracula Drag”) and Boris Pickett (who wrote and made the “Monster Mash” famous), horror-inspired comedy songs. The Ghoulies versions starts off with jungle beats and the arrival of King Kong. The song is simply about the giant gorilla monster King Kong causing destruction. Like “Monster Mash” the title is also a parody of popular dances and a pun, “the stomp” both referring to a dance and to King Kong actually stomping.
7. “No Blood”: A little love song, about how this girl is everything to this dude and that he would melt down a ring for her if he was a king, but he is not. She is also his link to sanity. She is all he is worth! He has no blood without her. A pretty good song.

8. “Don’t Go Out Into the Rain (You’re Gonna Melt)”: A cover of Herman’s Hermits, which is a band I love. The original of this song have, however, always seemed a little tame to me, but the Ghoulies cover is pretty much perfect and they even made a music video for it. This is the best thing the Ghoulies did in my opinion! It’s miles ahead of the original and to me this is a perfect recording. The nature sounds in the beginning are rad!

9. “The Blob”: The song continues the monster theme. The protagonist is likening someone to the Blob and seems like kind of a bitter song about someone seeming OK in the beginning and then becoming shitty. The song could easily have been a Sham 69 song and there’s a cool drum solo in it. One of my favorites on the album!

10. “Dead End”: This is probably my least favorite on the album, it’s not really great or terrible; it’s just there. What is interesting about it though is that he sings “I can go out into the rain” which alludes to the Herman’s hermits cover.

11. “Blood Beach”: This song also has that Social D sound to it, but has a super catchy chorus more reminiscent of the Ramones or the Queers. The song is about a beach where everyone gets killed by zombies. It’s also a super short song. The drum intro also sounds a lot like Tommy Ramone’s drumming in the Ramones. The song has the kind of the depressing lyrics “there’s nothing on the beach that isn’t dead”.

12. “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”: A cover of the Monkees, and though I heard the Ghoulies cover first, it’s my favorite Monkees song. It’s written by Neil Diamond, so no one can say that boring dude can’t write awesome tunes! The song is about someone who has to choose between two girls, Mary and Sandra, but he can’t because he loves them both and he wishes tomorrow will never come. The song starts off like the Ramones’ “the KKK took my baby away”.

13. “Ghoulie Chant”: Every band needs a dance or a stomp or a chant, Ghoulies seems to have them all! This is maybe the weirdest song on the album! And the slowest. I can’t even make out the lyrics, even Satan is in the song! Some weird stuff is going on in the song and the bass line is pretty sweet. The song is their weirdest, not sure if that’s a good thing in this case.

14. “Beth”: A cover of Kiss. No use for a name did a better cover of this Peter Criss “classic”. It’s one of the most loved and most hated rock ballads of all time and NUFAN and the Ghoulies both did punk versions of the song. The best part of the Ghoulies version is the outro! Which is also the outro to the entire album. Kepi says afterwards “Stop, What where those “oh’s” like? Where they off?”

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So overall this record is pretty damn good, Kepi is still going strong and he even made albums for kids and I think he wrote a book! This was the first Ghoulies’ album and I think they went on until at least 2007. The next album will be an older one, Love bites by the Buzzcocks! Going back to those old classics is always fun!

Twisted- Utopia (Specialist Subject)

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Reviews

Utopia cover art

After releasing a couple of 7”s in Leeds a few years ago, guitarist Jon Mohajer returned home to South Wales and reformed his band Twisted with a completely new line-up. From what I have heard of their older material, Utopia, their first LP, is pretty different. Twisted are a band that can be roughly put in the genre of ‘garage-punk’, but there is more going on than that label would suggest. There is definite influence from classic ‘70s punk rock, newer garage punk and the darker material from The Wipers, but I would probably just shelf Utopia under ‘punk’. There is something Stooges-like in the chaotic, unstable way that Twisted unravel during the record, where the band seem to be working outside of their comfort zone.

There are a few quieter, introspective moments dotted throughout Utopia, when the listener is allowed a breather from the seemingly relentless, anarchic wall of sound pummelling their ears. This is punk down to its bare bones. I don’t mean that it is simplistic or dull; rather, it’s raw, unpretentious and free of any bullshit. This is as pure as punk gets in many ways, and I found that a little over-whelming at first. Upon first listen, I felt that Utopia was a scuzzy, barrage of noise, with not much to distinguish one song from another, but many listens later and I realise that this is a pretty damn diverse album. For instance, the mid-tempo, melodic yet gritty closer “Elixir” is different enough from the choppy-change-y “The Gulf” to distinguish, yet both are clearly from Utopia by Twisted. Livi Sinclair’s vocals are probably the link between each of the songs and perfectly fit the chaotic nature of the music: passionate, gritty, irate. I love how there are underpinnings of seeming desperation in the vocals, too. It adds another layer to the lyrics. The vocals perhaps get a little much at times, but so suited as they are to the music, it doesn’t really matter too much. All in all, this is a challenging, yet unpretentious, truly punk record that is pretty special for a debut album.

Listen here: http://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/utopia

DB

Pears- Go to Prison (Self-released)

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Reviews

Go To Prison cover art

Go to Prison is the self-released, debut album from New Orleans-based new-ish hardcore punk band Pears, and it has been getting a ton of hype in the underground punk scene. And after listening to it a fair bit, I am struggling to see why. It’s kind of a mash up of sub-par ‘90s Fat Wreck (think early Propaghandi) with average-as-fuck hardcore punk. Yeah, it is angry and passionate, but I feel nothing from listening to Go to Prison; it feels like one of those sterile hardcore records I grew up nonplussed about. What’s more, it’s pretty formulaic. Pretty much every song lasts around 2 minutes, begins with a scream-y hardcore section, before leading into a melodic, skate-punk-y chorus. It’s all pretty predictable. I do appreciate the song “Forever Sad”, where the urgency seems to fit well with the melody and the chorus is actually kind of good, but when you hear that formula repeated a further five times, it kind of loses its charm. Don’t get me wrong, this album is not terrible; it’s just plain boring and average. As middle-of-the-road as punk gets. Don’t let the hype machine fool you. The only song on this record I will likely return to is their cover of “Judy is a Punk”, which manages to add something to the original, being more aggressive, faster and in your face. And that’s nice, but if the best song on the record is a cover, then it does not reflect greatly on the originality of the rest.

Listen here: http://pearstheband.bandcamp.com/album/go-to-prison

DB

John Allen- Sophomore (Gunner Records)

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Reviews

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This album is the second album of folk-punk singer John Allen, which I guess is obvious as it’s called Sophomore. The first one was Sounds of Soul and Sin. John Allen is from Hamburg, Germany. He recently went on a tour called Allen Ginsberg tour with Joe Ginsberg, and the name of the tour is pretty cool. Sophomore starts off with “New Year’s Eve”, which is a really good and catchy tune. The song has clever lyrics about how pointless the day really is and how it’s just an excuse to get loaded, and how everyone wants this year to be different, when it probably won’t be, while finding pictures of yourself that you can’t remember the day after. The instrumentation in the song is great! At first listen I wasn’t too keen on the voice, but it gets a lot better with time and there’s much warmth and honesty in it. However, in the end, it does get too monotonous for my taste. Although he is German, I think there is something Irish about his accent, which I find cool for a folk-punk album that isn’t in the style of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphy’s. “Night Falls Over Reno” is a great song, Allen sings “All our accidents have meaning”, which is a great line when you think of it. I can hear a Chuck Ragan influence throughout the album. “Blood brothers” is long, but the lyrics are beautiful in a Frank Turner serenading way. And Frank Turner is also someone I can hear a lot of influences from. This is most particularly heard in the song “Home”, which I feel would fit in on Sleep is For the Week. Both the lyrics and melody seems very Frank Turner-esque; not only that, but Mr. Turner also does guest vocals on it.

The strength of the album is its ability to be both slow and upbeat, and the lyrics are of good quality. “Rock ‘n’ roll Romeos” is an upbeat and fun song about Rock n roll Romeos looking for Juliet’s love, but she’s gone. While “It’s Raining Every Day” is a slower folk song, it has the lyrics “Dying is much simpler than it looks like/Living is much harder than it seems”, which struck a nerve in me. It also has a Joan Jett reference, I think (“I hate myself for loving you”). The album’s weakness is that some of the songs are a bit long and that the vocals get monotonous and the melodies sound a bit too similar. “Lessons I Have Learned” is another great track, which to me resembles the Frank Turner song (here he comes again!) “Take You Home”. I’m not sure if it’s a reference or blatant plagiarism, or they could both be based on an old folk song. “Take You Home” is alongside “Tell Tale Signs” my favorite Frank Turner song. The last song of the album is the piano based “Famous Last Words”, which is beautiful and sincere and later a string arrangement builds up the song to its climax. To me, it is reminiscent of another Turner, Alex, from Arctic monkeys, who wrote the music for the movie “Submarine” that is way better than his band. The song also has a later era Billy Bragg feel to it mixed with Sun Kil Moon. So I think this is a pretty nice folk punk album that fans of Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Paul Baribeau and probably Sun Kil Moon, too, should love!

RH