Zine of the week – Ablaze

ablaze

Zine of the Week
Ablaze
buy here
 

I picked up Ablaze *11 last week and have been enthused by its writings. SO much so that I did a radio show featuring solely bands that were in it. Karren has a a style of expression that is exciting and she wants you to like her bands. Wants you to know all about them. Not only are there some great interviews but there’sa breakdown of music and releases in there too. So we get the Sleaford mods talking about their outlook on British music scene and then get a critical analysis of their recorded output.

It’s just great. Want to know about Indian Music scene, mostly the post rock of aswekeepsearching well read ablaze. Want to remember Stereolab or read about Sleater Kinney and their conneciton to Sky Larkin? Read ablaze. Want to know about upcoming diy riot grrl influenced bands? Read ablaze. Want to know about Catalan diy band Trebat? Read ablaze. There’s so much in it. Buy for sure

The following piece is taken from Ablaze with the permission of both the editor Karren and the band Thee Faction. Thee Faction are proudly wearing their politics on their sleeves. They want this world to change and they are trying to use music to help effect it

Posterity Not Austerity
Thee Faction

There’s a bit of a myth around Thee Faction, which predates the current line up, but
suffice to say that some of the band have been doing their thing since the 80s, while some of us answered the call more recently. This incarnation is a direct response to the election of the 2010 Conservative government while our musical roots are in earlier influences. One is radical soul: that time in the late 60s/early 70s when the likes of the Staples Singers, Curtis Mayfield, and later Motown and the O Jays, put aside singing about love to write songs about the political struggle. Another influence is The MC5, for much the same reason, but we’re not promoting rock
cliché or looking for our next fix: we blend that aesthetic with the homegrown RnB of Dr Feelgood and the original punk/pub scene. Thee Faction are an urgent, wired-up
attack rather than some smug cod-blues lethargy. With Brass Kapital on horns, the
influence of the early Dexys sound comes into the mix too, alongside everything
from northern soul to hard rock.

The 80s hang over all of us, politically and musically, because we’re ruled by
people of that generation, and in pop-culture terms that was a deeply politicised
time, between Thatcherism and the Cold War. Everyone from Springsteen to the Style Council raised money for the miners, and it was standard for pop bands (Communards, Blow Monkeys, Fine Young Cannibals, Frankie, Depeche Mode) to write political songs and use soviet-chic sleeve design. But the underground scene aside, those bands were all supported by major record companies: the revolution was monetised. The situation now has us swimming upstream. Every month someone else in the media bemoans the lack of politics in pop music – or as is implied by omission, all music. We know therwise because we play events with political folk artists (Robb Johnson, Grace Petrie), political hip hop (Akala), political punk (TV Smith, Shocks of Mighty), political indie (Colour Me Wednesday, The Tuts) and socialist bands which defy categories like The Hurriers and the Protest Family. If that’s not pop enough, well, Thee Faction have been compared to Robbie Williams and One Direction as well as The Clash and Redskins. (We’ve been known to sugar the subversive pill). There are plenty of bands putting politics into pop formats, loosely defined (veterans like ADF and Anti-Flag, relative newcomers like Sonic Boom Six, brand new groups like Fight Rosa Fight) but whether their music becomes popular will always be partly down to media exposure, a media that still treats them as a novelty or just invisible.

There’s an element of music hall in Thee Faction. There are pseudonyms, there are parodies, there is an acknowledgment of the ridiculousness of being in a band, and in a revolutionary rock band. We’re from Reigate, because every band should be from somewhere. We’re Guild Socialists, or Marxist Leninists, or libertarian Left, depending on which album or song you listen to. There’s a punk rock “fuck you” in being everything the capitalist West hates. But our rhetorical refusal to take ourselves seriously has been countered to a degree by other people insisting on doing it for us. We’re asked to play benefit gigs and union rallies, political conferences and fundraisers. And while there’s no Faction party line – with 9-plus members all with their own stance on things we’re bigger and more democratic than some splinters of the Fourth International – we’ve bashed out a consensus: a united front, with guitars. We want politics in our music and we want fun in both. We want a progressive music & arts scene in every town, a counter-hegemonic culture promoting a different view and a different world. In Gramscian terms, we’re living through a war of position. Which side are you on?

How do we get through this – how does anyone get through a crisis? You do a combination of things. You reflect and regroup before you reassert. You remember who you are and what you believe. You link with others who feel the same, and take steps to re-assert control over your life and the world around you, with ideas and action. Without getting too inwardly-focussed, selfhelp is obviously important, in the sense of reminding yourself that you’re not alone. Enabled by a strong support network, you can make a start at taking on the world. The We Shall Overcome crew (Joe Solo, The Hurriers, and the hundreds of others who organised gigs and fundraisers for WSO on the first weekend of October 2015) have been very clear on this point: there is a great need, for our sakes as individuals, and as a political community, for a combination of progressive charity support (e.g. for foodbanks) and political solidarity work (with all those affected by cuts) alongside a collective assertion
of anti-austerity values. Small actions such as benefit gigs or demonstrations can obviously be good in themselves (there’s that idea of ‘temporary autonomous zones’ to help activists recharge their batteries) but are better still when they help to foster the spirit of solidarity, demonstrate it practically, have the potential to win converts, put our values into practice and spread the feeling of hope. At the same time, we should all join things that this government hates: libraries, community groups, campaigns, trade unions, political parties, however imperfect most of them are. If Labour aren’t for you, join the Greens, or Left Unity, or the solidarity Federation. If you can’t join PCS, join the IWW, or vice versa. To an extent some of these measures are survival strategies, ways to cope or alleviate symptoms, if only the personal feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness, of a deeper social problem. Whether it helps on a more abstract level for us to feel more empowered, or less alone, if the fundamental root causes of our problems go unchallenged, is merely a philosophical conundrum: people don’t live in the abstract, and we must protect our morale in the real and present moment, which is one reason why these small actions matter. Challenging larger social problems begins with such small steps.

However, we must prepare to go beyond survival into selfdefence and from there to intervention in political struggles. That in turn involves ideas, including an analysis of our current situation and of what kind of society we want instead. It is not enough to be anti-austerity, or anti-capitalist or anti-globalisation: we need to know and communicate the positives of what we are for. Ethical ideas such as social justice lead to political theories of socialism, despite the doubts some have over such labels. The fundamental question is still now as it has been for generations: what that socialism should look like – and that’s up to all of us. When people say that socialism is dead they may effectively mean, from historical example, that Leninism has failed to come to terms with democracy, that anarchism failed to counter power, that ‘social democracy’ is bankrupt. But socialism is the realisation of democracy and equality, it is something that has.not. happened. yet. and it cannot die as long as we aspire to those ideals. Anyone dismissing it as outdated should be reminded that “democracy” is pretty old, too. Those who claim that putting social justice back on the political agenda is a reversion to the politics of the past imply that right-wing politics are something new – but dog-eat-dog is the oldest rule in the book. The political norm or mainstream is not fixed, it changes. The centre is subject to unequal pressures from different directions; things fall apart, it cannot hold

There can be no more swings to the Right. Mainstream politics has now swung so far rightwards that a backlash has taken off in an organisation – the Labour Party – that many of us had given up on. Her Majesty’s Opposition now has a leadership and a membership committed to an anti-austerity programme; there’s just the awkward matter of the current parliamentary party being in opposition to that. Tens of thousands have joined Labour as a gesture of support or with the desire to get actively involved – and many outside the party have vowed to step up their activism and pile on pressure from the Left. Will those politics resonate with the small number of right-wing voters in key marginals who have recently dictated election results? Probably not, but they can and should be made to resonate with the 16 million stay-at-home voters, and many of the millions of protest-vote UKIP supporters. Because issues around housing, employment, and the cost of living sustain most protest votes, and this is the natural domain of the Left. If these issues don’t drive the politics of the labour movement then it has reneged on its duties. All progressive political activism puts pressure on mainstream politics, although for obvious reasons you won’t hear governments shouting about it. The Tories famously dropped the Poll Tax because of extra-parliamentary pressure, and more recently compulsory Workfare has largely gone the same way. (After antiworkfare demonstrations changed company policies, Cameron whinged that businesses should “stand up to Trotskyists”!) In the 90s a massive ongoing road-building programme was quietly abandoned due to policing costs from anti-road campaigns, and successive governments have been forced to reform policing in response to community struggles against institutional racism.

Not all campaigns are successful, but the examples show what can be possible. Some activists demand the impossible, some demand the immediately achievable, and at each point on the evolving spectrum between the two there is a dynamic, dialectical relation between public support for the status quo, and public support for change, as well as a question mark over who constitutes the ‘public’ and who gets to ‘represent’ their views – so that no political situation is static, change is a social fact and people who state that ‘things won’t change’ or ‘human nature this or that’ are not paying attention to history or the world around them. One thing is for sure, though: if we do nothing, our situation will worsen. If the 99% don’t put pressure on the political mainstream, the 1% alone will. The rich, big business, city lobbyists and special interests will run the world as long as we let them. Take heart in the knowledge that together we can – we have and we will again – stick a spoke in their gears today, and grab the steering wheel tomorrow.

Album of the Week – Membranes Dark Matter

Membranes-Dark-Matter

The Membranes

Dark Matter / Dark Energy

Cherry Red

 

Dark brooding atmospheric noise pop from the membranes 25 years since their last release. They have lost none of their manic soundscape or youthful abandon even if they have been unable to halt time and regain their youth.

As singer John Robb sings “I am a middle aged fucked up 21st Century Man, My Body is creaking but my mind is so alive”. He sings for all of us who listened to the band when they started taking Blackpool by storm in the 80’s but who couldn’t halt the tide of time. Not that we would have but when the mind is alive you can see and hear so much.

The membranes always experimerented with sound, they were part of the post punk explosion that believed in Death to trad rock. They were never a band for straight forward melodies and always tried to challenge the listener to join their madcap team with colourful antics and lots of noise. Deep down there was always a rhythm and there still is on this album.

It’s quiet at times, raucous at others but always feels one chord away from madness, maybe that sums us all up as people, one step away from abandon.

We get some sort of explanation of the universe with Dark Matter, I know now why I never listened to in Science Class in school, I would have the membranes to explain it all many decades later with a soundscape.

Songs like Space Junk which sees Robb spitting out the words while Rob Haynes bangs a cowbell to keep us moving to the guitar riff and dirty bass or Hail to the lovers with is fast bass riff driven song are more of a nod to the death to trad rock era and maybe some trex for good measure.

The bass driven Into The graveyard makes you feel like you are walking through a darken graveyard being led by a manic John Robb hopping aliong playing the bass talking about all thoise bodies deep down, a nine minute trip. And then there’s Magic Eye (To See The Sky) interwoven with almost a nod to sitar sound droning on.

5776 (The Breathing Sky) with its dub sounding bass or Money Is Dust which takes a funk beat and develops it through noise and then dust to dust it fades shows that this is a maturing Membranes, still not stuck in a box but taking their surroundings and trying to figure out what the hell is going on

A re-mix is on the way with versions of the songs being dones by guests, that should prove an interesting experiment, like life this band are always looking to evolve.


niallhope

Zine of the Week – Parish Punk

parish punkThe Parish Punk freesheet
theparishpunk@riseup.net
http://theparishpunk.tumblr.com/

It’s great to see the parish punk coming out with some regularity. This is issue 4 and clodagh’s writing style shines through. It’s like she’s sitting in her kitchen in rural ireland having a chat with each and every reader. And so we read about the sort of things that interest her. Things like GM food, direct provision, border controls, mental health and punk rock. Hard to believe it us just one sheet as there’s so much packed in.

niallhope

Roughneck Riot – Out of anger

roughneck

Roughneck Riot

Out Of Anger

TNS Records

Have you ever been in a situation where you are party to a conversation and just can’t hold back on giving the punchline? Or butting in where you shouldn’t? Are you one of those who can just let the story flow, hold your peace and come in a the right moment? Nah me neither. Let’s cut straight to the chase, Men They Couldn’t Hang, teaming up with the Levellers to try their hand at Dropkick Murphys.

Now that I’ve unleashed that I can get on with the review.

The problem using non traditional rock band instruments in favour of traditional ones means lazy comparisons are inevitable. Roughneck Riot are perfect for these lazy comparisons. This comparison would be like many of the injustices this band sing about.

We get banjo, mandolin and accordion joining up with upbeat high tempo Guitar, bass and drums but it never thrashes along. Good high tempo observations.

Listening to Out of Anger it becomes quite obvious that it is a collection spawned from anger at injustice but not an anger that has beaten the band. From the opening track, Animosity, that exclaims “Without Hope, we’ll never question why. Or seperate from anything that’s feeding you the lies” through Never Silenced, Never Stopped that passes on the wise words “Minds are filled with inspiration until they are saturated…Raise our voices to the night, Forever we will sing” we get a band still wishing for that better way.

The mandolin drenched Need I remind You is one highlight here. No need for a guitar solo when the mandolin can easily substitute. The last of the fourteen songs is a more poignant number “He Never Came Home”, it is a nice sing along number that tells the brutal truth for so many of us as time passes. Our all night teenage and early twenties talking sessions about ruling the world with high hopes and empty pockets to fuel us don’t last forever. Some people call it moving on, some say it’s maturing or many of us ruminate that they never come home.  Maybe they simply run out of anger which ironically is the anger that spurned them into doing things to begin with

Great record

 

niallhope

Cannibales and Vahines – Songs For a Free Body

cannibales

Cannibales and Vahines
Songs For a Free Body
Freddy Morezon Productions

All We Want
is that which makes
us less than free
should stop
now

Since leaving the Ex as its lead singer and troubador GW Sok has been as busy as ever. His artisitic output continues to grow as he collaborates with many around Europe.

This time it is with French artists Cannibales & Vahines. We get the trademark GW vocals, spat and spoken with a jazz improv background. The words are always meaningful and we start with Whatever, one of GW’s more downbeat opines. Almost like the lost activist or using the term we have all resorted to when dealing with what we perceive as ignorance…Whatever!!!

The lyrics generally are more downbeat than previous observations, more of an introspective nature. It reminds me of the thoughts that go through my head as I’m jogging along, solitary with the pavement, wondering why things are so bleak.

Musically the saxophone is prevalent amongst guitar bass and drums. Very much an improvised feel with a solid beat always prevalent. GW sings with his monotone drawl whilst the drum and bass travel solidly along. We then get the rhythm of the guitar vying with sax in a battle to join in, looking to participate, wanting to be on the drum and bass team. Many of the tracks are like those long walks you go on in a strange city (well some of you), where you aren’t sure where you are heading and get to the next corner to see what surprise awaits you.

It all finishes poignantly with a Free Body as GW simply reflects that all we ask for is that what makes us less free should stop

niallhope

Label Of the week- Drunken Sailor Records

Drunken Sailor Records is a label from the UK that has been releasing quality sounds from around the world since the Tiltwheel Teach Your Children Hell 7″

They released Marvellous Mark’s (ex Marvelous Darlings man) Bite Me 7″ earlier in the year and jumped at the chance to release Marks debut LP.  “Sounding a bit like Big Star with power-pop overtones and a pop-punk driving force,Crushin’ is a collection of songs bursting with feeling that sound like they were written while the sun was either going down or coming up.”

First 100 on Yellow Vinyl. Touring Europe in 2016. This is a pre-order, the records will ship on Friday 15th January.

 

Also out on the same day is the debut EP from Malos Modales.
The ‘Cronicas Terrestres EP (mastered by the ever awesome North London Bomb Factory Mastering) is the bands debut record. Garage/ powerpop with a definite nod to The Marked Men.
Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico.

Malos Modales are a punk band of people who technically aren’t old but could make some people question this very fact. Formed in Monterrey, Mexico, the band features some familiar faces in its lineup, namely Kiko Blake from División Minúscula (one of the most successful and emotionally charged bands from the past decade), and Johnny Vzz and Hugo “Scrap” Zapata from electroparty mainstays She’s A Tease (Chacho Zapata rounds up the band). They converged and recorded some demos, then decided to take the proper steps to formalize the band. They have recorded a self-titled EP at their rehearsal space with the help of a 4-track tape recorder.

 

Other bands on the label are the excellent lo-fi pop of Martha, the pop punk hilarity of Wonk Unit and home to the amazing soaring guitar of stay clean jolene

 

niallhope

Hard Skin – We’re the Fucking Business

hardskinHard Skin

We’re the Fucking Business

JT Classics

http://jtclassics.co.uk/product.php?id_product=142

 

So many football teams have them – players that don’t pull their weight but seem to get away with it.

Workplaces have them, people that turn up but do little and yet the bosses love them

Hard Skin are that player, that workmate. They are obnoxious, loud, practice very little and don’t care what you think. But yet we all love them. I know I do. I have sang along to hard skin songs that I wouldn’t dream of uttering anywhere else in public. And now they are back with a new record. Aptly title “We’re the Fucking business, Singles 1975-1977”, covering a time they weren’t even in existence.

Yet the name of the album does give something away. The Business were and are once more an Oi band reverred by Skinheads in their homeland of the UK and further afield. Hard Skin are similar in music but the background of both bands are mirror opposites. Whilst Mickey Fitz started the band as a working class release during his school days Hard Skin were formed late in the musical careers of Nipper, Fat bob and Johnny Takeaway. Whilst the business lived their musical lives on the streets Hard Skin can dream of those streets. And yet there are similiarites but Hard Skin through it all remain completely diy and honourable in their dealings.

JT records is their label and this is the 6th record on the label. It’s a collection of recent 7 and 12″s that are elusive so rather than cashing in this gives people a chance to get their releases.Punk rock, in your face and now you can get ready to sing aloing to We Are the wankers

Trouble Pilgrims – Instant Polaroid

Trouble Pilgrims

Instant Polaroid

Pilgrim Records

Any band that spawns from The Radiators deserves a mention here.  Any band that is supposed to play their classic album, released nearly 40 years and still a classic in many Dublin punks eyes, as part of a set opening for the Boomtown Rats and ditches a song in favour of a newly recorded one also deserves a special mention.

This band are the same in both instances and are called Trouble Pilgrims. Pete Holidai and Steve Rapid from the Radiators are now playing with Johnny Bonnie (Those Handsome Devils), Tony St Leger and Bren Lynott abd have released their second single, Instant polaroid.

The song is a guitar driven remembrance of the Man On The Bridge on Dublin’s O Connell Bridge.  Arthur Fields use to take pictures of couples crossing the River Liffey in Irelands Capital city and offer them to people on their journeys.  They are a story of a different Ireland, a time when the city shut at night in an era where Ireland was on the edge of Europe and we felt it.

Any flies on us?

Flies on You
Fan Base Repellant
diy digital only

Leeds avant garde punk rock duo have given us all a late Christmas present with the follow up to the excellent etcetera album which was released in march this year (still can just about say that)

They take a beat, repeat and doug talks acerbic over it, Some are catchy, some try and catch you out. The lyrics take in any punk rockers life, property and crass. At times I think maybe Chumbawamba could have headed down this road, its the kind of way they would head, if there were only two and a drum machine.

A great Christmas gift but even if not quite up there with the excellent etcetara

niallhope

Joe Solo – Never Be Defeated

Joe Solo

Never Be Defeated

Resolve Records

https://joesolomusic.bandcamp.com/album/never-be-defeated

joesolo

 

It is no secret that punk rock has been the main ingredient for the overall music that have gone through my ears through the past 30 years. It, as a genre, has helped shape my entire life. I haven’t eaten meat since Flux sang about it and the last time I knowingly took dairy was in the 1980’s.

At that stage the miners had been defeated but the struggle these people went through also had a profound effect on me. I remember vividly interviewing miners who SIPTU had brought to Dublin for my fanzine at the time. The stories of hardship and struggle were always interspersed with hope. They couldn’t countenance defeat and I most definitely decided what side I would be on for the rest of my life during that struggle. I watched Red Wedge grow from it, always had respect for any bands who sang the union tune.

Of course over the intervening period the real world has caught up with me and I am a proud union activist who has seen both sides of the angry comments about organised labour. I am also a proud punk rocker and have continued to try and spread the community at any given opportunity, hence this blog, numerous fanzines, a regular radio show and a book on the matter.

In the three decades that has passed since the defeat of the miners we are now at the juncture where the last coal mine shut down. The industry is gone in the U, decimated – communities have been devastated and neo liberal ideology is the order of the day. Of course there could be a case made that burning fossil fuels is not going to save the planet and maybe unions could have foreseen this earlier, however the smashing of the miners was about politics and not the longevity of the planet where it creeps towards ruin, just like the coal industry.

Another vivid memory I have is of hearing of Joe Strummer’s death. Ever since reading Glen E Friedman’s Fuck You Heroes I have been more of Threat By Example person. Sure, there are good people, but there’s no need to revere them. We all use the toilet on a daily basis. However there was something special about Joe Strummer, front man of the Clash. He spoke for my generation, I disagreed with many of his life choices but knew that he would always feature in my community. Ironic that 13 years after this death I receive a cd in the post. Never Be Defeated by my friend Joe Solo. Solo is also influenced by Strummer, his trajectory is by using his voice and guitar. One man railing against the world.

As the anniversary of strummer increases annually Joe’s output of albums seem to increase at the same pace. This year it is the commemoration of the miners strike that is the theme for all 13 songs. Joe’s Christmas is about Solidarity, standing by the workers and NEVER EVER pass a picket line. Never!!!

I am in a punk rock community and Joe is busy being active in our world. His sound is the folk music of Christy Moore or the agit prop of Thee Faction or Dick Gaughan still believing after all this time that there is a better way. Union people believe there is a better, fairer way. Joe believes that we will never be defeated, I am behind him all the way.

I hope you are too

 

Please support Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign by visiting otjc.org.uk