The Spears Live DVD

The Spears are one of my fave bands, combining as they do the talents of former members of DRI [former drummer], Down by Law, Hated Youth and of course their fantastic lead singer, the legendary Chris Barrows, who used to sing for Pink Lincolns.  So enjoy, and await the new album that is rumoured to be in the pipeline – can it get any better than the last one?  Apparently it features the one and only Gregg Ginn guesting on guitar!  In the meantime they have released a live DVD which look like it is well worth a look.

And here is the Bandcamp stream of ‘Shove’, their debut album, which I have to say has hardly been off my IPod for weeks.  If you didn’t buy this album then check out what you’ve been missing – it’s the best, sleaziest punk rock I’ve blasted my eardrums with in ages!

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Wrong on Every Count! No. 1 – Individuals or Cattle?

The clock finally reached 13:00pm.  I palpably relaxed. Maybe it’s my Anglo-Saxon work ethic kicking in, but I am uneasy about the idea of drinking either inappropriately early, or indeed during the day on weekdays.  This was a Monday, and so it took some adjustment for me to get used to it [we were in Manchester to see OFF! playing, and unusually it was not a weekend show].  Nearby – the first pint, a more-ishly bitter pale ale.  To my left – DeHud and his chosen beer.  Outside the large windows, Manchester street life passed pleasantly by in the sunny, but nowhere near warm weather; students, workers on lunch break, and who knows what else.  Behind me, the bar displayed impressive rows of bottles from all over the world – Belgian beers, American Beers, whiskies.  The mid-day aroma of sweet, slightly stale beer hung in the air.  As I took a thirsty sip, the ley lines that supposedly converge on north western England suddenly focused their energies, and all was well with the world.

This moment, rather like the one when a millionaire extracts a fine Cohiba from his humidor and lights it for the first time on his yacht, was a great pleasure.  It was also the scene of an inpromptu Rip It Up board meeting, wherein the two of us gangly, ageing punks had stumbled upon the subject of Rip It Up’s first three months as an online publication.  What was good? How did it compare with the old, photocopied fanzine style of yore? What would we do next?  How we pondered.  We ended up with a few ideas, before the inevitable milestones of the day occurred: more beer, wobbly, lie down at hotel, punk rock, kebab, spill chilli sauce over new Vans, stumble drunkenly to bed.

The fanzine issues of Rip It Up back in the day were chaotic affairs, basically collecting our random, half baked thoughts, unconvincing views and poorly thought out arguments and presenting them in a dumb, fuck-you kind of style which interested few and impressed nobody.  Especially not girls.  Nothing we did seemed to impress girls.  But hey! We grew up on Maximum Rock ‘n ‘ Roll as our Punk Rock oracle.  Because founder Tim Yohannon and his merry band of eccentrics, Bay-Area ex-hippies and glue headed punks were never short of an opinion, they had LOTS OF COLUMNS.  And so THE COLUMN became a necessary, nay, mandatory part of any self respecting 1980s fanzine.  Most of these mini Daily Mail rants were bollocks.

That is to say most columnists in fanzines were indicative of the worst kind of people that were involved in ‘the scene’.  Self-righteous to the point of physical pain, their Taliban-like adherence to the basic principles of Veganism, Political Correctness, Anti War [not in any coherent sense, just a simple and endlessly repeated mantra that ‘War Is Bad], and of course anti any band or record label that dared to harbour any form of commercial ambition would inevitably be given an airing at any possible opportunity.

Yeah, by about 1993 I was so bored with reading the same old predictable crap that I drifted off from the punk scene for a while.  The same people were content to expound the same comfortable platitudes time and time again, all the time safe in the knowledge that:

a) they were preaching to, if not the converted, then at least an audience so scared of disagreeing and admitting that they held their OWN opinions, that they would never be challenged.

b) realising, a bit like the British Liberal Democrat party before they entered government, that whatever they said would never happen and thus their half baked ideology would never be subject to any truly rigorous scrutiny.

And all the time, they spewed forth the same platitudes in their columns:

INDIVIDUALITY [as long as you dress the same as me and like the same bands]

EQUALITY [but I’m mates with all the players in the scene so I get into shows ahead of you, sorry]

LIBERTY [except the freedom to hold an opinion that is not the same as mine]

…..aaaaay! Drooling mules! Gimme a frickin’ break already!

So, anyway, back to the story.  DeHud and I agreed that Rip It Up is threatening to become an online record review/news site, which is not really what we wanted.  Yes, we need to bring exciting new bands to the world’s attention, but we also need to bring back that challenging attitude that made the original publication such fun.  Irreverence, you could call it.  Hence the idea to include regular columns and even resurrect some of DeHud’s excellent cartoonage as well.  To make this thing complete, we’ll have to work a bit harder.  We celebrated this fact by finding another comfortably shabby bar, ordering up draughts of foaming ale, and adopting the haughty manner of a man whose greyhound has come in.

And that really is what leads me to the subject matter; the marrow, if you will of this column.  Diversity.  But not diversity in the sloganeering, know-nothing sense – diversity in the truly musical sense, which is something I hope that Rip It Up will come to stand for, a beacon of righteousness in the swamp of mediocrity.  You may already realise that we cover a range of musical styles – from the darkest doom metal, through crust punk, barking, circle-pit based straightedge, slow stoner rock and bouncy pop punk.  This is because we both love these kinds of music – nothing is off limits.  Yet I read so many webzines which define themselves purely by one little genre.  I mean, I actually read a statement on one of them recently that said ‘only thrash punk bands need contact us – no [repeat list above] accepted.  Fair enough, if that’s your thing, but we’re flying the flag for everything good.  For example, how can ALL thrash punk be good, and EVERYTHING else be bad, already? Do the math, dufus!

I really value various people who have made my musical education complete, and influenced me in positive ways.  Back in 1982, when I was still a goofy school kid, my pal Peter forced me [such was his, and soon my, excitement] to listen to this new American band on his stereo.  The band was Black Flag, and the album was Damaged.  Nothing, it is fair to say, was ever the same again.  The same thing happened again when DeHud, at about the same time, played me GBH.

Later, whilst living an idyllic life of beer and laziness as a student in Huddersfield, I became friends with an unlikely looking character who wore, initially at least, a pair of winklepickers and a paisley shirt, his hair a mass of curls.  Rich was a cat whose music collection was as absorbing to me as a sweet shop is to a small child.

As we became friends, Rich played me the Stooges, the MC5, the Moody Blues, The Fall, the Nuggets compilations, the Stones from their few respectable periods; he filled in all the gaps in my musical knowledge, in terms of where my favourite music had come from.  This enriched my soul, and opened my eyes to the path of Righteousness in rock’n’roll, a fact that I only became aware of when I later read Lester Bangs’ authoritative book ‘Psychotic Reactions and Carburettor Dung’.

What was so cool, however, was that Rich also dug punk rock and would often comment in his Sheffield accent about obscure bands on various compilations – such as Denmark’s Electric Deads.  Over the years he ditched the paisley and pointy boots, and adopted a uniform of white t-shirt, blue blouson, bleached jeans and plain black Dr Martens shoes – a kind of utilitarian anti fashion statement that would have made Mark E Smith proud.  Sadly I lost touch with Rich over the years, and have no idea what he is digging these days!

Then fast forward to the present day.  You only have to check out the fascinating ‘Now Playing’ thread on the forum of Sydney’s mighty Hard Ons to see what those guys are all about.  The Hard Ons are able to move in a single middle eight from bubblegum girly pop to all out death metal, and then back to a gorgeous harmonised chorus that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  They listen to bands as diverse as Sun Ra, Cannibal Corpse, The Guess Who, Iron Maiden and, to quote lead singer/guitarist Blackie’s current rave,

“I’m obsessed with Os Mutantes at the moment!

So I hope you can see a little bit of the thinking behind Rip It Up.  Limiting yourself to one set of views, one type of music, well it’s up to you but that’s exactly the kind of behaviour that killed off the whole punk scene the last time around!

Slow and Low with Compel

If you are a regular reader of Rip It Up, you will know of our great love for slow, instrumental doom amongst other things.  Bands we have so far featured in this little sub genre include the marvellous Thorun from Wales, Slomatics, and Poland’s excellent trio of Major Kong, Belzebong and Dopelord.  There is something satisfying about digging heavy music that does not have the distraction of a lead singer and lyrics; you may think it leaves the song incomplete, and I agree that there is less ‘personality’ in such musics, but on the other hand, you can get down and nod along, as happy as a short legged labrador in mud. 

In this vein, I have been contacted by Joe Horne, guitarist in Summerville, South Carolina based doom band Compel; he informs me that this two – piece, which is made up of him and drummer Tim Davis, have a similar lack of need for a vocalist.

Compel released a three-track, eponymously titled ep in April this year, and it is an intriguing listen.  Eschewing identikit doom, the band show their musical chops in the way they trade complex, technical licks and structures.  No fools, they know that a doom band should be part heavy, part dreamy, part rocking; this music moves from psychedelia through straightforward heavy rock and into slow, battering stoner grooves with applomb.  I will let you make your own judgment on this band by including, as usual, their tracks below.  They are a pay what you want download, so give the boys some encouragement, and inspire them to further doom!

The Other Flex….

Some time back, DeHud featured a Leeds, UK based punk band called ‘The Flex’.  They rage with a basic, brutal, hot punk assault and seem to compromise for nobody.  This is admirable, but I have found that a few thousand miles away is another band called Flex, but they call Los Angeles, California, home.  A very different thing from Leeds, then.  So, in a show of friendly competitiveness before we meet up to slam to Off! in Manchester tomorrow, I have decided to throw down the well worn hardcore catchers’ mitt and represent!

I choose to feature the other Flex this evening because I like their sound – much more mellow than the Leeds band of the same name, but reminiscent of good old US hardcore from our generation – the 80s.  A five – piece on Money Sink records, the band have this year released an 8 track album which deals out hardcore rations to those hungry for fast, tight and focused music.  They cite bands such as Gorilla Biscuits, Minor Threat and the Descendents as influences, and this shows in their music.

Flex…..and Life Support!

Chanted choruses, fast paced verses and slow chorus breakdowns all feature in their songs, and whilst they break no new ground, they do a really enjoyable version of the format we know and love – and if it’s done right, then that’s enough for me.  This is a cracker, and the guys have clearly spent far too long in their bedrooms listening to their hardcore collections, because they show their knowledge of the genre in every song!  It’s a free download, and frankly, you need to drop whatever it is you’re doing and download and listen to it right now!

There’s also a cracking video clip here of a full live set played in the tiniest room ever to host live music, including the singer being pushed around by his buddies before they start raging!

But wait! I’m not finished yet!  Like many of the bands we feature in Rip It Up, this one has another incarnation, meaning that you actually get two for the price of one.  In this case, Flex! also perform as Life Support.  Far more melodic and less frantic, this incarnation of the band trades in many of the same sounds, but perhaps at a slower and more considered pace.  They have one track, ‘Broken Record’, on showcase at Bandcamp and I thought that you should hear it.  Released in  May this year, it’s another cracker, and it also allows us to feature a close up picture of a cat’s face.  How can this be wrong?

Skraeckoedlan – Äppelträdet LP

Try pronouncing that after a few beers! This morning I had a message waiting for me from the mysteriously named ‘K’ at Gaphals Records from Sweden.  The Scandinavian scene is becoming a bit of a recurring theme on Rip It Up at the moment; there is a healthy punk/hardcore/metal scene going on there for sure!  Anyway, I checked out a couple of releases from the label and thought I would mention this one, which is actually an LP that has been around for a while, although the release date is given on the label’s Bandcamp page as April this year because Gaphals have now released it in gatefold sleeved vinyl glory.

Skraeckoedlan is a doom band from Norrköping in Sweden, comprising Henrik Grüttner on lead guitar, Martin Larsson on Drums, Robert Lamu on vocals and guitar, and Tim Ångström manhandling the bass and providing backup vocals.  They have been cranking out heavy jams since 2010, having already produced two eps prior to Äppelträdet, their debut album.  It’s good to see something quite diferent from what is ostensibly a hardcore label – myself and DeHud were beginning to think that Eastern Poland was the only place where doomy riffage was being practised!

Kicking straight into a no-nonsense, bass heavy jam, the band excites at once and brings to mind a more lively feel that some of the recent Polish stuff we’ve been featuring.  This appears closer to Fu Manchu, or some of the early SST bands in terms of its lively pace – but it offers the same gorgeous layers of riffing and traces of psychedelic guitar.  In fact it’s almost a perfect synthesis of melodic hardcore and doom – which is a pretty damned good mixture of you ask me.  This is available as a download or as a vinyl release from Gaphals by clicking on the link.  I’ll bring you more releases from this label in due course!

The Record Story Pt 2: Britcore Sunday

If you’re from the UK and of a certain age, you will recall the dreaded term ‘Britcore’ with, I would imagine, disgust.  For the rest of you. let’s jump back in time to 1988, and take a look at the British Music Press.  Traditionally, there had been three ‘broadsheet’ music newspapers publishing in the UK on a weekly basis.  Right from the early 60s, you had Melody Maker, New Musical Express, and, later in the 70s, Sounds.  They had all managed to get by quite nicely by feeding schoolboys and girls their fix of teasing facts – which make of cymbals Neal Peart of Rush preferred to use – [probably Sounds], which left-wing dialectics Cabaret Voltaire preferred to discuss in dingy Sheffield pubs [New Musical Express] and which hair care products David Sylvian of Japan preferred to use [almost certainly Melody maker].  But, by the late 80s, things had changed.

Sounds had pretty much gone the way of all decaying music papers – the taint left by Oi! and the demise of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal had done for  them.  Melody Maker had changed page size, and had long since abandoned any pretence of serious music journalism, preferring instead to emulate Smash Hits and cater for the more teen-focused readership.  And the NME had ditched its round glasses and long rain coat, and embraced the music that was happening in the provinces.  It would shortly drop all of this when Acid House broke through and undergo a year-zero reinvention for the nth time.

Perfect Daze from Ipswich

But back to the story.  Via certain journalists based out of London in the sticks, the NME had become aware that kids were into a strange kind of music known as hardcore.  John Peel was playing it, and even London venues were pulsating to the sounds of bands like The Stupids.  However, instead of simply covering this genre of music, the NME did what all ‘rock’ journalists do, and tried to come up with a new box to put this strange, suburban movement into.  Ergo, Britcore.  This vile term was then used hundreds of times per issue to categorise bands as diverse as Napalm Death, Perfect Daze and in fact any band who smelled vaguely of hardcore.

In the tradition of O.C.D list makers, the paper had soon constructed an out of the box toolkit that identified social origin [generally middle class males], dress codes [checked shirt, band t-shirt, combat pants, Converse All Stars], and attitudes [anti corporate, vegetarian].  Pretty much the same as what Maximum Rock n Roll did, then.

But once the movement had lost its impact, and the ever hungry-for-a-fad journos had got bored of stagediving and moved on, what of the bands who laboured under the misnomer of ‘Britcore’?  I’m here to point a few out.  Eyes top left please!

FILLER: M.Y.H.C and ‘No Aims No Desires’ eps [1988 and 1989].

Filler was a band hailing from a village in Nottinghamshire, comprising Richard Bramley, Jonathan Barry and David Skeen.  Previously they had been involed in a band called Eyes on You, but in Filler they found their voice as  a full on DC-style hardcore band whose sound had a pleasing influence from Rites of Spring, maybe even the great Squirrel Bait with that same kind of vulnerable, pre-emo core theme to it.  I got these from Selectadisc in Nottingham and Tez Turner’s Full Circle – the ‘No Aims No Desires’ ep was issued on Pigboy records, which was in fact an imprint of Vinyl Solution from London.

The Shape of Things to Hum: V/A [4th Dimension Records, 1989]

This is a veritable compilation 7″ released on 4th Dimension records, and containing an array of bands sharing a similar sound.  Playground, featuring label guy Richo, were from Kent and proffered a vaguely USHC – influenced sound with thin production.  Moving on, we also have ‘One Thing for Sure’ by Ipswich’s Perfect Daze, which was the usual trashy mix of Hanoi Rocks, Ramones and general punk rock we had come to expect from The Daze.

I notice that the Perfect Daze section of the sleeve notes mention ‘Ripped Up Paul Dude‘ and ‘Long Gone Hud‘, which gets our namechecks in for this ‘zine and acts rather like the provenance of a Napoleonic commode at an antique auction.  Did I mention that Lorenzo Bell, now head honcho of Domino Records, was the lead singer of the Daze?  I’ll mention it again in a minute.

Furthermore, we have ‘I’m on Black & White’ by Richmond, London’s Senseless Things – a band who garnered some appreciation in the mainstream press with a mix of Stooges image and Ramones pop-punk and tuneful sensibility.  Making up the rear is a track by Exit Condition, who I always knew about, but rarely if ever bothered to listen to.  In summary, a diverse and commendable low budget split ep.

Sink: ‘Blue Noodles’ ep [1989]

Sink is next up with their ‘Blue Noodles’ ep.  Main man Ed Wenn, previously on guitar and vocal duties in The Stupids, then in DC-influenced Bad Dress Sense, had by now formed a new band.  Ironically the cover is a photo of a train, with the sign in front of it saying ‘4 Tracks’.  But in our jaded view, Sink had gone off the rails in a big way.  Bereft of most of the enjoyable urgency of Bad Dress Sense, who had in effect produced a template DC Hardcore album a couple of years previously, Sink lost it completely and began to produce a lot of countryfied, Neil Young influenced songs that just used to confuse me: their maxim seemed to be ‘if we can make a simple, effective song complicated and tortuous, then we will’.

Perhaps because of the Stupids connection, the band would often end up on the bill with bands who were either British and brutal, or from DC and dealing with emotional issues.  They would appear on stage wearing pyjamas and proceed to play a version of the blues amongst their more lively songs, leading the audience to conclude that, like jazz musicians, they were enjoying themselves far more than the crowd.  I bought two Sink eps, indeed I once had a tye-dyed t-shirt as well.   Trivia section – Lawrence Bell was singer in this band for a while, too – and Tommy Stupid played drums on a few of their recordings.

Sink

PSSST e.p. [1989]

Remember I mentioned that Lorenzo, flamboyant lead singer of Perfect Daze, has now ended up as head man at Domino, and is therefore one of the top chaps in the music biz? Well here is one of his early outings.  You may not know this but Lawrence had record label aspirations long before he started Domino.  For example, one of his earliest enterprises was Extreme Noise Terror’s initial LP, released on his ‘Head Eruption’ labelette.

He also released this ep on ‘Hoss 45′ recordings.  It is again a 4 way split, with the added novelty of having the four bands covering each others’ songs.  So what we got was Senseless Things covering ‘Break It Away’ by Perfect Daze, The Daze covering ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ by Sink, Sink covering ‘I’m Not Listening Anymore’ by Snuff, and finally Snuff covering ‘Blue Noodles’ by Sink [Ed discusses the ep here].  A great little period piece, and of course of all these bands [to my knowledge], Snuff are the only ones still going.  Unless you tell me other wise.

And there we are, in a flash.  The ‘Britcore’ generation defined by some hoary old records of mine.  I hope you enjoy ’em.

Accelerators: Netherlands Punk Rock

Back in the day, as it were, the Dutch ‘scene’ was always quite an active one, with classic bands such as B.G.K. making a name for the low country, whilst the increasingly DIY ethos that the Dutch applied to their squat scene and their general social liberalism filtered through to make a hardcore scene that all visiting UK, European and US bands would remark upon.  However by the early 90s, the Dutch music scene appeared to have become subsumed in Techno and its various offshoots, with all the high profile musical commentary being directed towards the dance scene.  So it’s refreshing to see that The Accelerators, from Rotterdam, are on the way to releasing a new LP later in the year.

I got the tip-off about the band via the Twitter feed from Andrea, the leader of Italian band The Manges, and checked them out.  Formed in 2003, The Accelerators have traded in a brand of high energy punk rock that makes bands like The Manges, Weasel, The Queers and others their natural peers.  The band, comprising Ox – Vocals, Bass, Marlon – Guitar, Vocals, Simon – Guitar, Vocals and Erik – Drums, released their eponymous debut album in 2009, giving the world 12 tracks of crackingly tuneful Ramones-y punk with short, direct songs that hit the mark due to their buzzsaw guitar, stacatto drums and joyful tuneage.

And, after a UK and European tour this summer, we will be treated to the sight of their second album, on Shield Recordings.  Entitled ‘Fuel for the Fire’, the album is another 12 tracker – featuring 11 new original tracks as well as a cover from Cheap Trick’s Southern Girls. The top notch cover art is by the Riccardo Bucchioni from La Spezia, Italy, hometown of The Manges.

Check out the video to preview the new album, and also make sure you get hold of the first one, whose Bandcamp widget I have included below for your background research!

Finally, if you do get a chance to catch the band live, here are the latest tour dates:

UK
25-02-2012: London (UK) @ Underworld w/ Anti Nowhere League
26-02-2012: Brighton (UK) @ Prince Albert w/ Authorities
27-02-2012: Bristol (UK) @ The Croft w/ Dead To Me

GERMANY
29-02-2012: Mannheim (DE) The Mohawk

ITALY
01-03-2012: Faenza (IT) Capolinea
03-03-2012: Fidenza (IT) @ Taun
04-03-2012: Bresso (IT) @ Blue Rose

Descending into the Depths of Doom with Make

I’ve been sent a tip from Devouter Records, the UK based Doom purveyors, alerting me to the imminent release of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, drone-pysch-doom-metal trio MAKE’s debut album ‘Trephine’ on July 30th.  I’ve just driven home from Stansted airport – an hour’s journey in the car – listening to Thorun‘s excellent ‘Chorus of Giants’ ep, followed by Conan‘s ever more mesmerising ‘Monnos’.  So you can imagine the thick, dark clouds of doom that already surrounded me as I sat down at the Mac and clicked ‘play’ on this new release.  Boy, it really does bring a new level of doom to the word Doom!

A nine-track album, ‘Trephine‘ delivers slow, heavy stoner doom in spades.  The mandatory growl of the downtuned guitar and bass intimidates, whilst the listener is led into further uncertainty by the hovering, ethereal sound effects that resemble rogue spirits flying malevolently around some hot, parched post apocalyptic landscape.  The official story from Devouter actually makes it sound even more disturbing than I have already made out:

“With themes covering the concept of mortality, the infinity of death and the fragility of life, ‘Trephine’ is an assured debut that firmly stamps MAKE’s mark on the post-metal map.

After the death of a peer, MAKE guitarist Scott Endres (who also played on Horseback’s ‘The Invisible Mountain’ record) took to writing a concept album about a hospital resident regressing into a fantasy state after a psychological breakdown. This fantasy state is represented by a post-apocalyptic world, while the journey the protagonist embarks upon is hopefully the means to an end; his or her own personal trepanning.”

That’s not the kind of press release that Coldplay’s label are ever likely to put out, is it?  Trepanning, in case you are not ‘au fait’ with such practices, is the drilling of a hole in one’s skull, in order to release the pressure on the brain and – it is said – achieve a higher state of awareness.

This is a collection of varied, skilfully played songs that are genuinely atmospheric, melodic in parts, heavy as all get out in other parts, and to be honest – in some places – so utterly desolate and disturbed that you wonder if the sun will ever shine again.  But later passages hint at what I can only presume is some kind of redemption that the band hope to find in this bleak soundscape, and the black clouds part to offer some brighter rays of optimism.  The musical variety you get makes the album entirely listenable and the songs approach an epic quality in places, making this a case of the sum being much more than the parts.

This is a massive, involving and really quite mesmerising release and well worth a listen, but be warned, you won’t come out the other side and want to chat cheerily about the weather with your next door neighbour!

Gurt Top, my Babber!

….As they say in Bristol.  But right now, forget all about that.  The news I am here to tell you about concerns a release that has impressed me considerably – but first, indulge me and let me tell you a story.  It’s [kind of] relevant.

Way back in the day, both DeHud and I were based in rural East Anglia, from where in true teenage tradition we were desperate to escape to the sunlit uplands of….well….anywhere more exciting than there, basically.  Gangly, punk and notably unlucky with the girls, our evening amusement generally involved going out to the nearest town, drinking some weak lager in a pub filled with trendy, wedge haircut wearing ‘smoothies’ as they were then known, becoming enraged that Howard Jones or Duran Duran were weakly broadcasting their anemic sub pop musical dirge from the pub jukebox, and then heading back to our respective homes – often in DeHud’s ageing, maroon Mini.

I mention this because, uniquely, his Mini had a cassette player – but not positioned where you would expect, nice and accessible on the dashboard, but rather bizzarely UNDER the driver’s seat.  This meant that every time he wanted to change tapes, it would involve a frustrating, complex and altogether dangerous manoeuvring which often led to him wandering out into the middle of the road while oncoming drivers watched bug-eyed with terror.  But it generally worked, and so our journeys were filled with tinny, compressed and in-every-way-upsetting-to-an-audiophile emissions of punk music – one or two times it would chew up the tape and go really fast, or just descend into a kind of quiet fuzz.  It raged!

Back to now, in the present day.  The above anecdote really just underlines the ‘oldness’ of the cassette medium – I remember the vast choice you had – from basic, ferrous tapes from Rumbelows right up to the fancy ‘Metal’ tapes that I only ever saw when a posh kid at school got a high end hi-fi for his birthday, and brought in a tape of some Rush album or other, on a METAL cassette.  He made sure everybody knew it was a METAL cassette as well, the smug cunt.

But issuing a new release on cassette?  I’ve only just got used to vinyl again!  It’s true, and according to Chris from Superhot Records, top UK stoner/sludge band GURT have just done it!

Says Chris: “Do you still drive a crappy old car that still has a tape player? Still got the same old NWA, Michael Jackson and Roxette tapes kicking around that are all stretched and warped? Well it’s time to update your collection with the first tape release on Superhot Records; The Gurt Collection.

Volume 1 on one side, Redwin on the other (both CD editions now sold out) and a some unreleased stuff to boot. Limited to 50 copies and pressed onto orange cassette tape, this is some of the heaviest, filthiest UK sludge around at the moment.”

It’s true, and you can get the release The Gurt Collection from the Superhot Records store here.  It is truly staggeringly heavy, and is great stuff, as we have come to expect from this band.

….and side 2 is also here:

Black Shape of Nexus – No Business Like Slow Business!

Holy Moley! DeHud sent me this tip by email last night and I was blown away by it.  Hailing from Mannheim, Germany is the slow, sludgy beast that some call Black Shape of Nexus.  Their double LP and CD ‘Negative Black’ was released a month ago, and contains seven tracks of pure, steamrollering heaviness. 

Forming in 2005, the band comprises six members – Jan [electronics, keys], Ralf Bernhardt [guitars, tech], Geb [guitars], Stefan Kuhn [bass], Malte Seidel [vocals] and Marco Hauser [drums].  Described by José Carlos Santos as “Pummelling you with painfully slow doom and finishing you off with acrid, harsh drones, B·SON give down-tempo a whole new meaning“.  That’s not hype, it is a statement of fact.

‘Negative Black’ is the latest release in a considerable back catalogue, which is available from the band’s website.  It is crushingly heavy, and song titles like ‘10000 µF‘ [try finding that character on your Mac keyboard!] give the tracks an anonymity that suggests that this band is all about the music.  Yes, they have a vocalist, but his voice is used more as an instrument, and it blends with the surging, powerful sound to whip up a foul-smelling, smoking, dark storm of anger.  With a larger line up than most bands and the use of non traditional instruments such as keyboards, BSoN achieve a unique sound.

This is a storming album, and demands your attention through the uncompromising heavy doom which, combined with the band’s professionalism makes me want to hear and see more!  Check ’em out on Bandcamp, this by the way is only a sampler of the LP, not the whole LP!! And visit their ultra-slick website here.