Saturday, January 14, 2017

Playlist: We Are The Mods

A 35 track playlist of various songs that define the mod generation from The Chords, Manual Scan, Richmond Sluts, Long Tall Shorty, The Teenbeats, Small Faces and more

play it.... HERE

Saturday, January 07, 2017

What Arab Strap Meant To Me.

Choose bitterness. Choose love gone wrong. Choose melancholy at 3am. Choose heartbreak. Choose social realism. Choose the fundamental conflict of what you want and what you find. Choose adultery, infidelity and shameful truth. Choose the unflinching honesty that defines your own fuck-ups. Choose pornography. Choose post-coital vulnerability. Choose inner conflict. Choose a fury for revenge that runs bone deep. Choose hopeless love affairs, Choose jealousy. Choose being broken. Choose strangers. Choose dying a million times. Choose being up all night crying over someone who had no trouble falling asleep. Choose venom. Choose unrequited love. Choose the worst of you. Choose the best of you. Choose being more profound than any heart could dare understand. Choose falling in love. Choose apathy. Choose mutual apathy. Choose blind perseverance, Choose stolen glances. Choose cutting out your tongue to stop a name ever coming up in conversation. Choose Aidan Moffat. Choose Malcolm Middleton, Choose Arab Strap.

The detailed insight was always poetic, In its brutal honesty we took comfort. The nod to the everyday man on the street...always. Nobody could untangle, decipher and narrate the cloying intricacies of human emotion quite like Arab Strap. They wrote anguished symphonies for every post-drug comedown, every wet eyed public bar loser, every broken hearted council estate Romeo and every disenfranchised street urchin, Aidan Moffat the impeccable wordsmith and storyteller weaving it all seamlessly into the narrative, Malcolm Middleton the gifted composer. That pissed off despair, the hangovers, the comedowns, the vitriol....all side effects of intrinsic motivation...and we know this because we are no different. Arab Strap never sang about heroin addiction. They weren't some Irvine Welsh soundtrack.. they lived the same lives we did. The same recreational habits...the same losses and the same victories. Every melodramatic hate opera dictated by nihilistic philosophies...wanting to kill your love rival and escape the realities that intimidate you.A million poetic metaphors to define you...and an orchestra of trippy/lo-fi minimalistic weirdo nothing/ everything layers of sound to serenade you.

In no particular order....5 of their greatest songs you need to hear before you die.

Dream Sequence
'And now I love you more than that, and now I love you more than this
So just stay over on your side, and go to sleep and dream of piss
Tomorrow you can tell me all the things you've done with boys
Blushing as you recount tales to satisfy my see-through ploys'

The Shy Retirer
'These people are your friends
this cunted circus never ends.
 I won't remember anything you say'

Here We Go
'And I don't doubt you wouldn't touch him now
But let's face it, you always used to go for that kind
And if you ever really wanted two men at once
All I'm saying is I better be one of the guys you've got in mind

Love Detective
'I don't know
I suppose I've had my doubts for a while there's been
Hushed phone calls virtually every night
Her friends stop talking when I come in the room
They look at each other, and I don't know
It's just a feelin'

Fucking Little Bastards
'I used to think they loved me, now I know it's pity
And they know that they can always flee this fucking city'
Arab Strap formed in Falkirk in 1995 and released six studio albums before splitting up 11 years later...playing their final gig in Japan in December 2006. They reformed briefly last year for a series of reunion shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album The Week Never Starts Around Here. A double album of singles and rareities was released in September alongside a special re-worked version of their first single The First Big Weekend. Both on the Chemikal Underground label.

Writer: Alan Baillie

Monday, June 20, 2016

Album Review: Razor Sharp Death Blizzard

Razor Sharp Death Blizzard
'You Will Burn'
(Digital Release)

The thundering apocalyptic serenity of chaos

When a band has been put together by former members of hardcore punk giants Swellbellys and brutal metal band Ridgeback then you can be assured their music will never be heard playing softly in the background of some upper class drawing room on a lazy Sunday morning while an elderly lady relaxes with a cup of imported Italian coffee and the newspapers. Razor Sharp Death Blizzard are as insolently turbulent as their name suggests. They have no hidden surprises (who does that shit anyway?) and are as brutally aggressive as you suspected they'd be...consider a terrain of heavy wasteland where the vitriolic sound carves out trenches and drains colour from horizons.

It's the sheer weight and supremacy of the sound that you become aware of's the first thing to reach you..a towering wave of thundering drumbeats and insubordinate guitar riffs stampeding a way forwards on an unstoppable barrage of menacing savagery. Juggernaut sized in both volume and presence...a tirade of head mashing riffs unfolding for war. Yet for all it may appear disjointed and without direction...and in less competent hands I have no doubt it would very easily become just that...when you bring all its parts together in a right is shows how brilliantly well it all work

There are so many catchy moments just don't expect to find them on an album like this. But I'm wrong. Little flourishes of musicianship...from the smallest of unexpected chord changes to the sudden change of tactic/direction in a between verses riff...and it's when those twists and spins and neat turns catch you that you realise it's a much cleverer, structural piece of songwriting than the three chord noise monster people dismiss the products of this genre as being. The lead vocals are a violation of decency...a gore drenched, raw throated abrasive growl of unsettling power-violence that burrows into the floor to prowl caverns beneath mighty at times than the force of nature, the scum eloquence criss-crossing pathways below stirring an ambience of violent intent and nightmares rehearsed.

Definite standout moments on this album...and there are the swaggering guitar of Christian Sun...the complete change of style, pace and tone for the brilliant Right Wing Scum...all out punk rock bluster of Meet Your Maker with guitar and drums meshing together brilliantly...and the melodic riff that dominates Defstein which is almost endearing enough to suit Whitesnake. Maybe Razor Sharp Death Blizzard will unleash a wrecking ball of  fresh air into a scene filled with shitehawk revivalists whose limp wristed symphonies shall implode internally and black rivers of blood will gush from their ears and drown a city forever? Failing that they'll possibly just fucking kill you.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

5 Reasons To Love: HOLE

The most commercially successful female fronted grunge band in the history of music.

( from the album Live Through This)

  "and some day you will ache like I ache"

A raw disjointed start/stop ballad where you can almost touch the excruciating self loathing that resonates from the harrowing acoustic despair of unfurled honesty. It almost drops to a whisper...this subdued restraint of a broken spirit...before pleading its way to an end on a vocal of bone-crushing agony. The distraction is cataclysmic...a brooding overflow that hacks out a valley in her voice and renders the life from her bones. Her naked vulnerability.. the most beautiful truth on earth...She ends the song by repeating the line "some day you will ache like I ache" over and over with gaining intensity until she is almost screaming the words.

(from the album Pretty On The Inside)

 "'Ive seen the things you put me through and I, I wish I could die"
 Her vocal is a howling turbulence of outrage battering an exit through the thrashing heap of  heavy grunge-fuelled uncongenial chainsaw fuzz. Distorted guitars add to the wrecking ball of brutal angsty-punk banging against the pile-up of  mangled ear-bursting fuck-ups! This is Hole still very much at the fledgling part of their career...gloriously wide-eyed, rebellious upstarts who weren't intending to be forgotten once they'd been heard. The racketing grunge/rock distortion of this wasn't ever again quite as unchecked as it was here.

(from the album Celebrity Skin)

"oh cinderella they aren't sluts like you"
A complete move away from their earlier grunge/punk sound...the instrumentation is more civilized and targeted..and the production is sharper and refined. Celebrity Skin is a brilliantly catchy alternative rock song with shimmering guitar riffs and tons of bouncing energy. Courtney's vocals are lazily tuneful...skipping across the melodic cruise-control pace and structure of the song with perfectly suited relevance. The lyrics are a scathing swipe at the superficiality of Hollywood glamour where celebrity is defined in body shape, skin tone and plastic surgery...and the line  'oh look at my face/ my name is might have been/ my name is never was/ my name's forgotten" is a reference to the impossibility of retaining value when the next 'star' is being manufactured to replace you, This was the band's most commercially successful single as was the album of the same name. And another example of how good a songwriter she really is.

(from the album Live Through This)

"Go on take everything, take everything, I want you to"
The greatest song Courtney Love has ever written. The delicate opening chords are a soothing embrace..tender in their manner...a tranquility promised...the poetry of the lyrics sketch serene imagery "and  the sky was made of amethyst,,,and all the stars looked just like little should learn when to go"and then she has're unready and flatfooted.."YOU SHOULD LEARN HOW TO SAY NO!" like a howled battlecry and suddenly it swivels into a tearing onslaught of rattling hostility "GO ON TAKE EVERYTHING! TAKE EVERYTHING I WANT YOU TO!" volleying forwards, relentless...the shout/scream/howl vocals..the feral snarling of the guitars..."I told you from the start just how this would end" the most ferociously barbaric piece of  creative brilliance

(from the album Celebrity Skin)
"The darkest secret of your heart I'm gonna follow you
  A straightforward mid-tempo romanticised pop song that skips and hops on a catchy hook laden feel-good summertime breeze. Incredibly melodic and beautifully understated.....It was a creative change of direction from the brutal grunge/punk anger of debut album Pretty On The Inside and follow up Live Through This...Criticised by some for what they saw as her selling out to the mainstream in a desperate bid for success this is simply great songwriting ability and creative versatility. Courtney Love is a truly superior songwriter who just doesn't get the recognition she deserves.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright casually delivers one of the greatest live performance in the world...just because she can.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Album Review: Discharge - End Of Days

'End Of Days'
(Nuclear Blast Records)

The unflinching disturbers of the peace return

The "Fight Back" EP released by Discharge in 1980 was the most powerful statement of youthful resent I had ever heard. Nothing else of that time came anywhere near to matching it for fury and aggression. They were the outraged pacifists writing culturally specific protest songs in a thundering vortex of words and noise that became the architecture of their identity. The scrapping backbone of their razor-sharp hostility was a dogmatic anti-establishment venom that voiced the unflinching scorn of their intellectual conceit. Of every era they've been involved in none sums their importance up better than the two year period from their 1980 debut Realities Of War to 1982 single State Violence State Control  the music they released during that specific time defined history, generated it's own sub-genre and instigated a movement that grew up around them. A perpetual echo of shuddering perfection as significant now as it was then. Rebellious malevolence never sounded so good.

It's now almost 36 years since their historic debut and...following several unfortunate line up changes and long periods of directionless inactivity Discharge are back....their recent signing to Nuclear Blast Records has already produced several single releases and now comes a brand new album End Of Days.. their first since Disensitise in 2008. With new front-man JJ Janiak (from Broken Bones) joining drummer Dave Caution and original members Tezz, Rainy and Bones..Discharge are, for the first time in their history..a five-piece band.

Album opener New World Order begins with a stop/start hammer of disjointed buzzsaw guitar that lurches in forward/backward agitation amid a squalor of feedback and pounding drumbeats...poised to charge.. it bristles in a repetitive 20 second distortion of stammering false starts before eventually exploding into a brutal head mashing racket of thrash laced hardcore. and surging double bass drumming, an undeniable heaviness that suddenly veers to a change of pace and reveals a softer centre of guitar solo rock-catchiness. The scathing Raped And Pillaged is a venomous anti-war song railing against the belligerent Islamaphobic Bush regime and their power-crazed invasion of Iraq "invaded in the name of corporate interests" growls JJ with a sneering derision. The title track opens with a sample of dialogue from Patrick Allen's grim nuclear voice-over narration in the public information film Protect And Survive which leads into some shattering  guitar work amid a crushingly powerful drumming barrage.

And onwards they march..the verbal aggressors and their voracious iconoclastic discourse, through...The Broken Law...False Flag Entertainment...Meet Your Maker...with demented intensity and into recent single Hatebomb a catchy lyrically simple detonation of hairtrigger anti-social aggression for the sake of it..frontman JJ's volleying bare boned spite "your opinions make me sick"  as a rollicking  D-Beat drumming thunders its way through..the guitar playing is especially good on this song with some catchy riffs enhancing the entire sound. Killing Yourself To Live is a hard edged viciously fast whirlwind of thrashy guitar/drums while the brilliantly titled Looking At Pictures Of Genocide features a complete change in guitar output. The album hurls towards its end with the frenetic divebomb of Population Control...slightly slower paced The Terror Alert which includes waves of sweeping guitar solos and final track Accessories By Molotov (Part 2)  is a hyperbolic mix of muscular thrash metal and visceral guitar driven buzz punk.

Discharge have always been capable of accurately representing a mood by being in tune with the mindset and here is no different. This is their best album since Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing and a glorious return to form. The volleying sociopolitical agit-prop sermons backed up with..furiously heavy thrash/punk/metal guitar riffs.. pounding D-Beat drumming artillery and rumbling bass chords..all deployed at breakneck a powerhouse of uncompromising contempt. From simmering frustration to screaming outpourings of vicious anger...they are still the vocal subconscious of  non-conforming nihilists..That this 15 track album takes just 33 mins from beginning to end is another 'typically' Discharge trait....they've always been very good at putting all their strengths into the smallest of spaces. JJ Janiak has slipped instinctively and without fault into a role so ingrained in nostalgic regard it must have been easier to get things terribly wrong than it ever would be to achieve something even close enough to being acceptable.  Discharge haven't just continued, they've intensified.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Album: Mother Feather.

Mother Feather
'Mother Feather'
(Metal Blade Records)
The debut album from New York's flamboyant pop cock rockers. Too creatively versatile for the confines of a specific genre Mother Feather are a compendium of styles....they are glam rock and they are dance pop...they are grunge and they are jangle indie....thundering rock and club funk. They are all that...and more.
Their self titled debut is released May 13th on Metal Blade Records


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Looking Back.....The Dogbones

Some of you may never have heard of them...and for those who may have forgotten,,,,

From the ashes of consequential alt-punk/goth-disco sleaze trash glam squalor they came..and it was a mightier breed of consequential alt-punk/goth-disco sleaze trash glam squalor that did emerge…and the sneering symphonies of chaotic discord they brought were proficiently crafted and remarkably tuneful. This resurrection of sorts…. for The Dogbones were all former members of Daisy Chainsaw and Queenadreena....Nomi Leonard (vocals and guitar) Michael Vakalis (bass) and Johnny Orion (vocals and guitar) were all in Queenadreena...with Johnny also in Daisy Chainsaw alongside drummer Vince Johnson.

Their 2010 self titled debut album was a brilliant converge of gritty rock, dark glamour grunge and muscular garage/punk…..with walls of fuzzy distortion, ragged, grit-edged guitar riffs, solid bass thrum, tribal drumbeats and the schizophrenic vocal style of Nomi Leonard veering from brain shredding grunge power to post-punk howls and unhinged broken harmonies….it was unconventionally beautiful….

Wherever have they gone?

(Original unedited photograph of Nomi Leonard found at


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Remembering: Therapy...'Diane'

So much better than the Husker Du original..and is surely the only ballad that contains the line ‘But I think I’ll just rape you and kill you instead’.  Therapy? make such a brilliant job of this song from beginning to end. Far superior on every level to the original which pales so badly into insignificance it should never have been written first. Andy Cairns expressive vocals plunder the ground between menacing (hey little girl wanna go for a ride) and psychotic (You're the cutest girl I've ever seen in my life/but it's over now with my knife) to echo across the tender string arrangement that drops to an earth scraping  bass tone before climbing upwards on bursts of tormented cello staccato. The song is about the abduction and rape of Diane Edwards from a shopping mall in the USA and is sung from the perspective of the abductor which, in this case, is brilliantly voiced with sinister edginess.

The song was written by Husker Du drummer Grant Hart and featured on their Metal Circus EP (1983)

The cover by Therapy? is featured on their 1995 album Infernal Love and was also released as a single by the band on 6th November of that year, 

Hey little girl wanna go for a ride ?
There's room and my wagon is parked right outside
We can cruise down Rober Street all night long
But I think I'll just rape you and kill you instead.

Diane Diane Diane
Diane Diane Diane

I hear there's a party at Lake Cove
It'll be much easier if I drove
We could check it out,we can go and see
Come on take a ride with me

Diane Diane Diane
Diane Diane Diane

Lay down together for a while
I'll put all your clothes in a nice neat little pile
You're the cutest girl I've ever seen in my life
But it's over now with my knife

Diane Diane Diane
Diane Diane Diane


Saturday, January 09, 2016

A Thought On Karaoke.

Nobody gets it tighter than the karaoke singer and rightly so. As a member of the crowd it is your responsibility to commence heckling about 30 seconds into the song, regardless of how good or bad they may be, and continue the unprovoked verbal slaughtering with a relentless determination  to send the tuneless loon on a humiliating ride aboard the public shame train! But of course by the end of the night, rattling with reckless alcohol-fuelled stupidity, you will make an idiot of yourself by bounding onto the stage beside them, ignoring their attempts to carry on in spite of you trying to wrestle the mic from their grasp mid-song, bringing the entire performance to a sudden end as a scuffle breaks out and the DJ switches everything off!!! As if filling in the request slips all night in other people's names wasn't sabotage enough, eh!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lemmy. RIP

If you're going to be a fucking rock star, go be one.

Lemmy might have been fed broken bottles and rusty blades as a child washed down with sulphuric acid and salt water - and that'd be how he got to have the most distinctive vocal growl in rock & roll. Motorhead were, well, Motorhead. A 40 year career dedicated to the art of their craft with no hidden agenda or technological trickery, no cop-out change of direction or carefully edited output...and don't ever look for complexities - there were none of those either. With Motorhead you always got the feeling that you WERE actually getting what you assumed you were....and that's because you always were. With the greatest of respect they were a reliable constant.

Lemmy's death is an end that will always feel too soon, Too soon for goodbyes. Too soon for understanding. Too soon to ever prepare for. It's exactly how he'd have wanted it.

Rest In Peace You Legend x

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Album Review: Beans On Toast.

Beans On Toast
'Rolling Up The Hill'
(Xtra Mile Recordings)

The philosophies of an introspective binge thinker

Essex born singer/songwriter Beans On Toast (real name Jay McAllister) began his career playing acoustic nights as part of the London folk scene in 2005 and, following a Glastonbury slot in 2007, has gone on to build a huge underground following in the UK. His straightforward social commentary with equal measures of jocular wordplay, self deprecation, genuine cynicism and wide-eyed storytelling may seem endearingly impolitic...but it's's cultural anthropology. Though not quite the pissed off outsider he does have opinions and is opinionated enough to express them. Beyond any accurate definition..he's a hip-hop pub rock/social philosophy folk punk/ acoustic indie hippy rant poet.

 New album Rolling Up The Hill is his seventh and, in keeping with his own quirky tradition, released it on Dec 1st, his birthday, as he has done every year since debut album Standing On A Chair in 2009. Recorded in Kansas and produced by husband/wife country duo Truckstop Honeymoon who introduce their own distinct brand of sound with the inclusion of a double bass, mandolin and banjo alongside Beans' usual  acoustic infrastructure.

 It brings a subtle Americana bluesy tinge to the songs, especially so on catchy opener The Mudhills Crew a breezy harmonica driven accolade to nostalgia with fond recollection (Teenage kicks and teenage dreams/ We were the best of friends/And tonight I've been thinking about them) while the cleverly crafted poke at capitalism on Robin Hood Costume is a class conscious political protest rap strung across a simple repetitive beat.

His adoration for girlfriend Lizzie B creates uncomplicated boy/girl love songs like I'm Home When You Hold Me...tender with honesty and beautifully innocent (I know you love the ocean baby/ I know you love the sea/ Well you know that I love you/ And I know that you love me) It's unsophisticated schoolyard chalk heart poetics...and isn't that as it should be...Why should we ever complicate what love makes simple? It's the song of the year for me! 

God Is A Cartoonist is a vitriolic swipe at the instigating iconoclastic concepts of religion, conjouring from him  his most acidic backbiting volley yet (Every christian, every muslim and every atheist/ Has a god giving right to take the piss/Hallellujah god is good, god is great/God is a terrorist/ while  recent jaunts across the USA are chronicled in the foot-tapping travelogue of lead single The Great American Novel, a fond name-check through popular American culture with infectious storytelling enthusiasm in a charming framework of subtle bluegrass music 

His songs are a fascinating sojourn through jigsawed pieces of modern culture without wandering too far from the realities of modernity, The witty, observational lyricisms are intoxicating..and there is no evocative metaphors or idiotic unthinkable visions of a better world. This is an album of profound sincerity, genuine reflection and astonishing, spot on, social essaying with heart on sleeve integrity.

Written by: Alan Baillie
Published at BBC Music

Monday, December 21, 2015

EP Review: Billy Liar

Racing through nine songs with the spirited intensity that defines him...this voracious cultural expressionist from within a turbulence of monologues...the skewed artiness of his freewheeling folk punk and true, rough-edged DIY. At times he is, for sure, the charged up narrator of his own frustrations snatching up personal wreckage from the alleyways of emotional squalor in a bombardment of impulsive eulogies. But he is as tender as he is proactive, a deep seated idealist, philosophically subjective enough to not always be ploughing at us with rebellious objection.

Opening song Some Nights is a whirling, hair-trigger of frenzied guitar that clocks in at just under two minutes long....followed by recent EP track Change his glorious homage to contempt through frustration (Is that too much to ask?/ Probably!) he sneers with a backbiting, vitriolic dismissal. The quick/slow/stop/start of Who I've Become nurtures poetic reflection underneath the blustering,hard faced exterior its delivery encourages it to adopt. Lyrically he flits between the wry and the clever, his storytelling narratives creating from the space between thought and expression.

His derisive, post-relationship break up summary The Coast Is Clear rattles with a contentious indifference (I will see you again/ And we'll pretend to be friends) its barely veiled subtleties dashed with realistic cynicism. Further songs include All I've Got, Is It Me?. Noose and a nod to the brilliant Withered Hand with a cover of No Cigarettes. 

Recorded one night in April at Edinburgh's Banshee Labyrinth...songs of urban adolescence and prevalent adulthood from the iconic roaming troubadour in the prolific style and resplendent sharpness of instinctive creativity.