Archive for January, 2011

Best of 2010: I Don’t Give Two Fucks About Your Review…

Posted in Opinions on January 13, 2011 by Billy Shears

2010 was kind of blah. It wasn’t shit. It wasn’t amazing. It just kind of was. For me anyway. Whatever. Since I never post anything anymore, I thought I’d wrap up the not posting year by giving a short assessment of my favorite shit of 2010. Without further adieu, here is the BEST OF 2010 according to this stupid blog.

I know I’m missing things – obvious things likely – so if your feelings are hurt, send in your choices and I’ll print ’em up in the upcoming BEST THING I HEARD ALL YEAR 2010 feature.

This picture is the best thing I saw all year. PERIOD.

BEST EP: HAMMER & THE NAILS 12″ Maxi ep

The debut ep from HATN was one of the most anticipated records of 2010, and it did not disappoint. From the  war-drum opening, to the final note, it was an instant classic, leaving in it’s wake all generic “streetpunk” and setting the standard for modern day oi! bands.

Runners up: Tommy & the Terrors “Problem. Reaction. Solution.”, The Templars/New Chords split, The Rival Mob “Hardcore For Hardcore”, Vaccine “Human Hatred”,  Battle Ruins s/t, The Heartbreaks “I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt to Think of You”, Pressure 28 “Spirit of 69”, 45 Adapters “DTAWDD”


BEST RECORD: PAUL WELLER: WAKE UP THE NATION

Runners Up: Len Price 3 “Pictures,” Marching Orders “Days Gone By”, Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”, Manic Street Preachers “Postcards From a Young Man”

Probably not a surprise that Weller gets my nod for Wake Up the Nation. His previous two records, and especially 22 Dreams, were fantastic, but Wake Up the Nation finds Weller re-inspired and  experimenting with styles as he never really has before. This record is closest in spirit to The Jam’s Sound Affects, and just as he did then, when he took inspiration from peers like Wire and Gang of Four, this LP finds Weller at his most modern as well. Collaborations with Kevin Shields  and former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, as well as spiritual guidance by infamous DJ Simon Dine yield the best results of 2010.

Hot on Wake Up the Nation’s heels is Len Price 3’s “Pictures” which is probably the closest approximation the the early years of The Who that I’ve ever heard. Also short-listed, Marching Orders Days Gone By, probably my favorite oi! record of the year, the majestic indie folk of Mumford and Sons debut, and Manic Street Preachers Postcards From a Young Man which kicked out the anthems like it was 1995 again.

 

 

BEST DEMO: Sydney Ducks.

Runner up: Boston Strangler. This shit is seriously good. Boston early 80’s soundalike. Best cut is the last one, which throws a little oi! bent into the game. Not sure what other demos I heard in 2010. But these two are good enough. Waiting for that MFP demo to drop….

Sydney Ducks seemingly came out of nowhere to provide  a burst of much needed originality in a somewhat stagnant scene. At first listen, a Templars-like approach would be a good starting point, but further listens reveal a multi-layered delivery that is all their own, highlighted by guitar sound that owes as much in places to The Beatles and The Jam as it does early Skrewdriver. Eagerly await the first official release by the band. Demo tape coming soon from Rock’n’Roll Disgrace records.

 

 

BEST REISSUE: ORANGE JUICE: COALS TO NEWCASTLE box set

Runners up: Superyob “Aggrophobia” LP, Negative Approach “Friends of No One”, The Jam “Sound Affects”, Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels”

The reissues this year were many, and surprisingly, the quality level on most of them is fairly high. Extra tracks, live sets, live DVDs, demos, are all order of the day on as many bonus discs as one may care to wade through. The Jam’s Sound Affects, Dexy’s Searching For the Young Soul Rebels, Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, Dylan’s Mono box, The Stones Exile on Main St, Bowie’s Station to Station, all were serious contenders for re-issue of the year, but ultimately, Orange Juice’s Coals to Newcastle came out as my favorite. An exhaustive 6 disc set, it covers everything the band did and then some, with requisite DVD included. An underrated band that literally launched the careers of most indie bands, pick up this box set and see where the likes of The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand, The Heartbreaks, etc, got their inspiration from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST BAND: HAMMER & THE NAILS

Runners Up: Paul Weller Movement, Len Price 3, The Rival Mob, 45 Adapters, New Lows, Mumford and Sons, Sydney Ducks et al ad nauseam.

Hammer & the Nails are the best band playing today. The addition of one of only two fans in the world of the second DYS record should make them that much more – ahem – masculine. However, the list of great bands playing today is near endless. From the band everyone loves, Rival Mob to the original bent 45 Adapters come with, to Mumford and Sons,New Lows and Sydney Ducks, pretty much every band I’ve mentioned in any category on this entry is a favorite.

 

 

BEST LIVE ACT: THE LOVELY LADS

Though their esteemed bass player may disagree with my choice, The Lovely Lads reunion set at PLAY IT LOUD II was my favorite single set of 2010. Having never seen them live before, they didn’t disappoint. Brendan is the best singer in the scene. Period. End of. The band sounded suitably tight, and crushed their set that included most everything from their LP as well as covers of Public Enemy and Absurd.  TOPS.

Runner up: THE TROUBLE. PLAY IT LOUD SET(s). Take your pick between day or night set, but the day set had the honor of being first (obviously) so the ‘wow’ factor was in full effect. Band sounded tight as ever, and people went nuts for both sets. The PLAY IT LOUD show was easily the best live event I hit all year. Hat tip to Sound Action, LTD for making it happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST LABEL: ROCK’N’ROLL DISGRACE. The only brand that matters. ’nuff said. (What can you say, obviously I picked this label.)

Runners up: Painkiller, Triple B, Six Feet Under, Longshot.


Gallagher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERSON OF THE YEAR: LIAM GALLAGHER

Runners up: Jimmy Flynn, Robert Belmonte

It was tough to decide between Liam Gallagher, Bob Belmonte and Jimmy Flynn. Liam’s band Beady Eye kicked it with 3 solid tunes (sure, “Bring the Light” gets a little tedious, and “The Roller” is very “Instant Karma”-ish but still…) and he launched a clothing line, PRETTY GREEN that got him the Draper Award for Best Men’s Line. A good year for Gallagher Jr that ultimately trumped Jimmy’s moxy, work ethic, and promotional savvy as well as Bob’s stunningly quality record label and rapist wit. Believe me, if i had to choose personality wise, Liam would come in dead last.

Flynn

Belmonte


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Top 50: The DUECE

Posted in Opinions on January 2, 2011 by Billy Shears

Onward and upwards I go. For those of you not following along, I decided to undertake a thankless (and kind of douche-y) blog entry:

Top 50 Oi!/street punk songs of the last 15 Years.

You can find the first entry of my questionable selections below, and here, dear friends, is the second part, which will take me through 20 picks. Oh the humanity.

(I did want to clarify a few points: though there are several bands on this list that could easily have 5-10 songs included, my list is a one-entry-per band thing. And second, because many of you have asked, no this list will not include RAC or it’s more overt brother-in-arms. Sketchy merits of included bands can be debated and debated, but that is beside the point…)

As you were.

Straw Dogs. “Another World.” Another World single. In my opinion, the early to mid 90’s in Britain belonged to Another Man’s Poison and Straw Dogs. Simple as that. Straw Dogs were polar opposites of AMP musically – rather than punchy and melodic, they were more than rough around the edges. In your face, and ploddingly heavy, they were the musical equivalent of being slowly bludgeoned versus being knocked out quickly. It was difficult picking one tune from this time period for this band, as they no doubt have several tunes that merit inclusion on such a list as this, and mine might not be the most popular choice  (today, it was this tune, “Wasted Life” or “Alright Boy”) but on we go. I picked “Another World” because of it’s epic Who-style guitar intro, and then jarringly, it becomes as weighty as anything the band did. A bold political statement wrapped up in smart lyrics, the tune is a nice representation of several of the things that made Straw Dogs top of the heap.

Strong Style. “Akashi.” Akashi ep. Heavy, SSS-styled Japanese oi! Crushing, yet somehow still melodic, SS are a true force of nature, and this song represents them well.

The Hawks. “Waiting on the Time.” Trueforce Official Rules ep. The Hawks are one of my favorite Japanese bands, and this is one of their stronger tunes. Chiswick records sound via Japan. No idea what lyrics they are singing, but the overall sound and tone make this an easy selection for this list.

The Beltones – “Fuck You Anyway” – Ah, the ever elusive Beltones. Likely in my Top 5 BANDS of the Last 15 Years, this outfit put out a few ripping singles, a kind of comp thing on TKO with re-recorded singles (and a few new tunes) and then one LP Cheap Trinkets. It’s tough to pick their best song, as most everything they did is a “best of” but today I’m going with the ultimate kiss off, “Fuck You Anyway.” Part Stiff Little Fingers, part early Skrewdriver, it is angry, frustrated and real. An open message to Bill Beltone: For God’s sake, can you play some shows that aren’t Texas?

The Troublemakers – “Pax Americana” – Pax Americana LP. To this day, this is one of the most original LPs within the scene that I’ve heard. The playing is flawless, and I’m not sure where to begin to descibe its nature. I’m not overly familiar with RIF, but the folk-ish elements at play here lend themselves to the tougher edge the oi!-ish slant delivers. The has been in rotation since I got it, and though the lyrics and politics may be a bit dodgy, I’d have no clue as I don’t speak French.

Alternate Action – “Dead End Street.” Over the years, Canadian oi! bands have been nothing if not esoteric. As with the French (and maybe therein lies the reason, because Canada’s heritage can lay claim to a huge segment of French ancestery) I have always felt that Canadian oi! bands have that something about that that was easily identifiable as “Canadian.” Even when aping other bands, the elements still made them uniquley Canuck. Regardless, Alternate Action come together as seasoned vets of said scene, and having this time under their belts has certainly boded well for Alternate Action. Taking the best of their forebearers in Britain, like Stiff Little Fingers, melded with their own experiences in other bands (like The Subway Thugs, The Lancasters, etc), Alternate Action have emerged as one of the best Canadian oi! bands I’ve yet to hear, in any designated time period.

The Veros – “The Way I Feel” – The Way I Feel ep. Upon hearing Boni, original drummer for classic French heroes Snix was putting together a new band, my expectations were through the roof. Expecting something similar to Snix’s delivery, I was surprised to hear that while elements remained, the bulk of the influence here was British oi! and even modrock. The Way I Feel ep was The Veros (named after the bassist and co-founder, obviously) debut offering, and while they have put out a wealth of great material since, I still feel this is their best tune; maybe it’s because it was the first thing I heard from them, but I have always thought the flow of the song, it’s catchiness, as well as the lyrics (“they don’t know about me!”) were something unique, making the tune deserving of a spot here.

Evil Conduct – “Home Sweet Home” – Home Sweet Home ep. 2009. Consistent and catchy, Evil Conduct deserve a mention for staying true to their vision. This is likely the catchiest thing they ever did, and is one of the genre’s best recent efforts.

Dropkick Murphys – “Barroom Hero.” Dropkick Murphys/Ducky Boys split single. 1996. The introduction to the scene for Dropkick Murphys, this is the first song of theirs I ever heard as well, and what a debut. It’s been tough for them to top. Before they expanded and developed their musical prowess, it was just 4 of them, delivering basic rock’n’roll.

The Wretched Ones – “Going  Down the Bar.” Likewise, I’m pretty sure this is the first WO song I ever heard as well. Who doesn’t like the Wretched Ones? Simple, methodical delivery, catchy as hell, and consistant. the AC/DC of the scene, in that you know what you’re getting every time, but every time it sounds pretty great. This tune got the nod today, but there’s an endless supply to choose from. Almost listed “Nothing Wrong” from this same record. Great tune there as well.