Slice Of Life – Love And A Lamp-Post

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Since co-founding and being the raging roar of punk band Crass in 1977, Steve Ignorant has challenged and examined life and society with voracious intent. It is a constant part of his art whether music or in other mediums, a skilled confrontation which never loses its potency it seems, certainly taking his new band and release, Love And A Lamp-Post ,as the freshest example. Slice Of Life is an acoustic project employing poetry and spoken pieces within a maybe best described as folk street punk embrace. It is a fascinating window upon life, a snarl at prejudices and wrongs with gentle personal contemplation. The album ebbs and flows in potency at times but at no point are ears and thoughts less than thoroughly involved and wanting more.

Slice of Life sees Ignorant linking up with pianist/vocalist Carol Hodge who also worked with Ignorant on the Last Supper project, guitarist Pete Wilson who again was part of Last Supper, and upright bassist Lucas Martin. The result is a release which swiftly sparks the imagination as it makes its reflections and incisive commentary on a life we are all part of in some form or other.

The album’s title track starts things off, a caress of acoustic guitar soon lying with a pungent expression of keys and dark bass shadows as vocals provide the crooning narrative. It is a tantalising proposition, melodies a tangy hue to the plainer but no less magnetic and eventful tones of Ignorant. There is a drama to the lyrical and musical character of the song which is more black and white TV play like than cinematic but certainly a visually sparking essence soaking the whole album and is reinforced as the opening of next up Killing Time lures with a smiling street bred skit. It reminds of the Johnny Wore Black album Walking Underwater from earlier this year which employs samples taken from a documentary based on the streets and real everyday life. As the opening to the second song leads into its captivating heart, the track also reminds and confirms something Ignorant said about Love And A Lamp-Post recently; “Years ago I read a book called Brighton Rock, for days the atmosphere of that story stayed with me and I’ve always wanted to create an album that would have the same effect on people.” Blessed with siren-esque harmonies from Hodge which seduce as this time Ignorant’s expression of piano keys colour his potent words, the song makes it easy for thoughts to slip into the small and imposing creative theatre and inescapable honesty of its incitement. The track mesmerises the imagination much as its successor Happy Hour with its initial sixties like melodic temptation leading to a more sultrily exotic 86701stroll of radiant keys and smouldering chords. The piano of Hodge is a lingering tempting providing rosy colour to the rawer reality of vocals and seductive bass.

Next up is You, a short spoken prose piece pointing an uncompromising finger at portions of society and those who govern it. Thoughts bring forth references to the recently released Waging War album from UK punks The Duel, which used a similar ingenuity to matching success between and to open songs. It is a potent piece benefitting from its brief presence, a short sharp poke before Here I Stand steps forward with its guitar and vocal questioning. It is richly effective bait for thoughts but spreads further into the passions with the delicious flames of trumpet provided by Dave Land.

Eleven Chimneys is like its predecessor a song which opens with strong appeal but finds greater compelling persuasion as other elements join the spine of provocative vocals, this time it being the temptress like harmonic breeze of Hodge, her voice as virulent a lure for ears as her rigorous piano charm and Ignorant’s lyrical prowess. The song serenades as it opens its personal angst, bass and guitar adding varied shades to the elegant yet unfussy nature of the excellent encounter.

From the wonderfully anthemic The Way Things Are where everything resourcefully colludes to raise an emotional call to arms, the album moves into the riveting spoken tale of The Home Coming. It is a sublimely descriptive portrait of a lonely soul, memories and bleak hues of life the persistent scenery for the heart of the track’s protagonist. With slim but complimentary hints of piano, the piece is a powerful moment on the album, though not one personally to explore with every listen of Love And A Lamp-Post, more a moment to use sparingly to keep its potency at full strength.

Final track Slice of Life leaves imagination and ears basking in another masterfully crafted embrace of low key but vivacious melodies with passion fuelled and uncompromising words. The song is an irresistible finale to an enthralling and thoroughly enjoyable release. There has been no diminishing of Steve Ignorant’s discontent and ability to challenge society’s ills over the past three decades and more, it just comes with broader invention and absorbing adventure as proven by the excellent Love And A Lamp-Post, which as the band name says is just a warts and all Slice Of Life.

Love And A Lamp-Post is available now via Overground Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/love-and-a-lamp-post/id925320410

https://www.facebook.com/SteveIgnorantSliceoflife

RingMaster 02/2/2014

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Rubella Ballet – Planet Punk

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It is probably fair to say that most punks know the history of, impact, and importance to the genre UK’s Rubella Ballet has made since forming at a Crass gig in 1979. Built around the nucleus of Sid Truelove and Zillah Minx the band brought intensive colour musically and visually to an anarcho/gothic punk scene. Their subsequent course saw the band perform two John Peel sessions and release from the first dramatic Ballet Bag cassette only unleashing of 1981, a trio of albums, and a mass of singles and 12” encounters as well as numerous collections. Live the band toured and supported the likes of Crass, Death Cult, and the Poison Girls amongst a great many whilst helping upcoming bands such as Ritual, Sex Gang Children, Ausgang, and Skeletal Family. As said most know the background to Rubella Ballet and their presence, the band summed up recently as, “They were the band who bridged the gaps between The Sex Pistols, X Ray Spex, and Crass.”

That is history though, important but belongs to the past. What is relevant to the now is the release of their new album Planet Punk, the first release of new material since 1986’s album If, an album declared by the majority as their finest moment. That was until the uncaging of Planet Punk, a quite extraordinary and fascinating provocation which sits boldly on the frontline of the pinnacle of punk releases in recent years. A release which provokes thought, passions, and feet like an ingenious puppeteer; a sonic devil which sits on the shoulder inciting and teasing until it has wormed under the skin and is riding the psyche in an irrepressibly diverse punk rodeo. Sid Truelove and Zillah Minx have conjured one of the most riveting and invigorating rebellions to sit alongside the likes of the recent Steve Ignorant with Paranoid Visions album When…? and the new Waging War full-length from The Duel as important propositions within punk rock.

From the opening title track the London band and release strikes at the heart of world and social wrongs, the like of banks, the illuminate, RB coverand the Hillsborough Stadium disaster amongst many things under a spotlight in the fifteen track creative tempest. The songs never preach and shove opinions down the throat though, just inform, inspire, and give their own premise. The first song instantly takes the listener and imagination back to the band’s early days, its old school stomp and breath a pervading suasion entwined with middle finger bred grooves and combative vocals which have a modern day eyeballing maturity. With sharp hooks and fiery dynamics, the song is a glorious spark to set Planet Punk off, its title track an instant trigger to the agonist dormant in us all.

The excellent start is swiftly matched and pushed to a new plateau by both All Potential Terrorists and Run Run. The first, spawned by 9/11, thrusts angry riffs and rapacious rhythms at the ear as the magnetic tones of Minx ripple with intensity and antagonism. Clad in contagious resourceful sounds, the track rampages irresistibly but then twists the scenery into a delicious darker incitement as Truelove adds his vocal suasion into a mix now coursing with warnings and sirens as well as startling enterprise. It is hard uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll at its best, guitars flaming with a reserved yet bright flame within the imposing scenario. Its successor stalks and prowls around its victims, the banks. Again samples as in the previous pair colour the landscape, their information courted by throaty basslines and predatory riffs which Minx manipulates further with her vocal confrontations. There is a raw air to the song; every aspect ablaze with a caustic glaze which only adds to the narrative whilst within the unrelenting menace the essences of bands like Fatal Microbes and The Molesters only enhances the pleasure.

The album continues to get stronger and more dramatically thrilling as each track infests senses and imagination, the next up Killuminati climbing another step with its voracious heavily weighted riffs which ooze ravenous hunger. The rhythms are just as full of rabidity but as ears succumb to their pressure the band suddenly explodes with a kaleidoscope of invention and ingenuity, the imposing Truelove vocal lead joined by soaring flumes of Minx’s symphonic seduction. At its core the track is an antagonistic brawl but with all the riveting twists of invention now at play equally soaked in the predation which drives the song from the start, the encounter is one of those moments you can only use the word classic for.

The bewitching Pandora’s Box has its designs on that mantel too, and achieves it with a sirenesque portentous hymn. It is a song which seduces and slowly swarms all over senses and passions, a mix of Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Duel, but as in all cases any references are just a hint to the startling originality. The album’s greatest offering, the track is as sinister and compelling as the science it is prowling, Minx at her glorious whilst the songwriting and invention of the band could be best described in literary terms as Frankenstein meets Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Both the equally chilling and ominously glazed Anonymous and the insatiable Hellbilly Heroin fire up body and emotions next, the first a captivating slice of bleak cyber punk and its successor, a track seemingly looking at Truelove’s own health problems and issues with drugs, their effect and ownership, is a honest and uncomplicated punk rock roar which pulls no punches. Both songs without matching the previous tracks, a level always going to be hard to maintain, easily ignite another wave of hunger in the appetite for the album which Bio Hazard instantly reinforces with its accusing web of sonic enterprise aligned to the temptress tones of Minx, its bait and lyrical canvas enthralling.

Through the absorbing stark infectious lure of Silver Or Lead, a song with aspects of calling All Astronauts to its presence, and the heavy rock smog of Wonderful Life, the album continues to find new impressive ways to light the passions, the second of the pair an incitement thick in intensity and robustly smothering sound which is speared and lit with the oppression tempering croon of Minx. It is a mouthwatering intimidating mix which is equalled in success by the coarse pop punk vivacity of You’ll Be Sorry and then the crunchy charred sound of Sedition. Both tracks in their unique ways embroil sounds of the late seventies and modern multi-flavoured punk into an irresistible uncompromising proposition. It is fair to say that the album is not as strong in its latter stages as its blisteringly inventive start, the songs at this point, more direct and straightforward then strikingly dramatic but still wholly addictive.

The final trio of songs are a mixed bag starting off with the outstanding Victory For The Victims. The imposing heavy bass within seconds flicks the switch to return the imagination to the heights which opened the album, quickly contradicting our just mentioned thought at that point. It is a minimalistic song in many ways looking at Hillsborough, but stunningly effective as it enslaves and invigorates thoughts and emotions. Its triumph is then matched by the brilliant Vampire Wedding, a dark gothic waltz equipped with Sister Of Mercy like rhythmic seduction and Sunglasses After Dark shadows which is then transformed further with bloodlusting angelic charm and vocal imagination.

The album concludes with Starship Transporter, a spatial flight of acidic colour and celestial sonic weaves narrated by Minx. It is a decent enough song but fails to come anywhere near the other tracks on the album though admittedly it still makes a provocative and skilfully sculpted end to an exceptionally tantalising and thrilling release. There may be a vast amount of time between new material but Rubella Ballet has not been resting on laurels instead designing and honing an evolution of presence and sound which in so many ways sets a new template for punk bands and fans to been inspired by. Planet Punk is the band’s best release with ease and a definite album of the year contender.

Planet Punk is available via Overground Records on all formats now!

https://www.facebook.com/rubellaballet

9.5/10

RingMaster 26/05/2014

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Goldblade- The Terror Of Modern Life

photo by Wullie Marr

photo by Wullie Marr

This year has already treated us to some exceptional and passionate punk adventure through the outstanding new releases from UK Subs and Dirt Box Disco; the legends bringing not only their sound but equally the genre into a startling and exhilarating new peak and the ‘new kids on the block’ showing punk n roll can be a masterful contagion bringing riot and fun into an irresistible union. Now we have the thrilling new Goldblade album which stands somewhere in between the two, the release an exceptional thirteen track brawl which snarls and provokes thoughts and senses whilst unleashing prime punk rock irresistibility. The Manchester band has always challenged and stood tall before injustices and social destructions but The Terror Of Modern Life, their sixth album, just might be the quintet at their most potent and venomous yet, quite possibly their finest hour.

The Overground Records released album is a titan of hooks, riffs, and attitude, a combative riot of energy and passion which leaves aGoldblade-the-terror-of-modern-life-296x300 deep mark whilst showing others how to be a potent inciting weapon against complacency and apathy, musically and socially. It opens with the mighty This Is War!, and instantly casts a web of belligerent and carnivorous bass corrosion over the ear. Bassist Keith Curtis immediately owns the senses, the barracuda throaty tone of his bass glaring eye to eye with the listener whilst aggressively seducing and intimidating. As the guitars of Peter Gorgeous and Andy Taylor sculpt out their share of the air with sonic precision and infectious flaming, the compelling canvass is set for vocalist John Robb to prowl and make his, as ever, enjoyably imposing and striking declaration. Complete with grooves and hooks which reap seeds in the same well of virulence as those conjured up by the likes of Buzzcocks and Dead Kennedys, and enslaving rhythmic excellence from Rob Haynes, the track ignites a fierce fire and hunger for the album with ease and makes a shout as one of the best punk songs in a long time.

It also sets a high bar for the rest of the release to emulate yet seemingly it is a simple test as the following Psycho Takes A Holiday and the staggering The Shamen Are Coming show. The first of the pair is a scorch of rock n roll with anthemic enthusiasm and undiluted melodic enterprise, its uncomplicated punk fuelled dance upon the ear as mischievous as it is energetic for two minutes of easy to ride and devour enticement. The second song is another startling highlight, a track which whips the passions up into a frenzy of rabid excitement. As soon as the opening scrub of acidic riffs, soon accompanied by the ever primal bass growl, lay their acerbic touch upon the ear greedy anticipation is sparked and sated impressively by a breath-taking mix of post punk and pure punk alchemy. Like a mix of The Adicts and The Diagram Brothers, the track twists and taunts the ear with scintillating flesh flailing sonic and rhythmic invention. As impacting as it is the scarring is subsequently soothed by the adjoining expression of group vocal harmonies and discord swept melodic caresses. Earlier it was said the opener was the best punk song in a long time, the fusion of all mentioned within The Shamen Are Coming ensures it stands as its equal.

The dub infested Serious Business swaggers in next with a loud whisper of Ruts to its courting, though as with all references they are mere colours to the distinct Goldblade flavour, whilst both We’re All In It Together and Someone Stole My Brain get the job done with straight forward accomplished craft, the first an uncomplicated old school punk bruise and the latter with another predatory tempting with again that delicious carnally bred bass spine making pure persuasion within sinister grooved riffs. With a maniacal hunger to its chorus and a compelling lure to the continual aural bulldozing offered, it is another immense treat which makes its predecessor, sandwiched between two such great songs, seem a little underwhelming despite its open strengths and appeal.

Through the likes of the all impressive Sick / Tired, They Kiss Like Humans, Act Like Machines, and the raw abrasion Guilty the album slips a little but only because of the excellence of the mountainous pinnacles it unearths. These and every song on the release are undeniably stirring and deeply pleasing assaults on the senses and thoughts but a few when placed beside a track like the immense and epidemically hooked The World Is Fucked Up Nowadays just have to take second place on the glory podium. This last song has a breath which leaves distrust and sonic malevolence on the tongue, but spiced up by impossibly tasty grooves which again would have made Shelley and Diggle drool back in the day, it leaves the strongest rapture making play with the emotions.

Completed by another furnace of ardour inducing punk majesty in the brilliant Hey You! Elastic Face, the ever caustic tones of Robb grazing up emotions whilst the barbed discord laced hooks fire up every other aspect of the listener, and the oppressive and threatening title track, a song which is dark, heavy, and intrusive like the world spawning its intent and ripples with essences of The Pack within its merciless consumption, The Terror Of Modern Life is quite brilliant. Simply it is an album which takes band and genre onto an explosive new anarchic plateau whilst fusing vintage punk and new uncompromising creativity into one frighteningly scintillating fury.

www.goldblade.com

10/10

RingMaster 19/05/2013

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