Scanner – Splat

scanner_RingMaster Review

Seeding their own devilish riots in old school punk bred both sides of the Atlantic, Pennsylvanian rockers Scanner unleash their third album to keep the aggressive roar of nostalgic and organic punk rock snarling. There is plenty more essences to the thirteen tracks making up Splat, variety as keen as the attitude fuelling the release, but ultimately album and band is raw rock ‘n’ roll in heart and temptation.

Scanner was formed in 1979 by vocalist/bassist Joe Brady and guitarist/vocalist Junnie Fortney, the band name inspired by the David Cronenberg film Scanners after Brady read about it in a monster magazine. Pretty soon the band was stirring up attention and a loyal following throughout the Central Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington D.C. areas. Their sound embraces inspirations from 50’s rock and roll, 60’s hard rock and surf, and 70’s glam and punk, honing it into the band’s own horror/ punk rock, surf and garage punk exploits. 2012 saw the current line-up come together with the addition of drummer/vocalist Troy Alwine, with a year later the trio releasing debut album One Foot In The Grave, And More Pissed Than Ever. It was an acclaimed introduction to the band for a great many and confirmation of the qualities Scanner fans had been enthusing about for the previous pair of decades. Last year was marked by the release of Exploding Heads in Harrisburg – Live Recordings From 1982, a live album of old material as well as the Monsters Axes & Choppers EP from Brady’s other project, horror rockers Losers After Midnight.

With the Brady conceived and produced 45 band strong critically acclaimed benefit compilation album Assault & BATtery, which raised funds for Bat World Sanctuary, also on the CV for 2014, Scanner now set sights on the broadest attention yet with Splat, and as soon as opener Fist in the Air has ears gripped and emotions elevated the thought is that punk fans of all ages and eras need this encounter in their lives. The track quickly ensures the listener is following its title, its opening throaty bassline the lure into familiar yet refreshing punk riffs and sonic spicery. Attitude is ablaze as the plain but inviting tones of Brady incite lyrically and in expression, his bait an easy involvement within the more calm but forceful blend of crisp rhythms and raw riffs.

_0_SPLAT_Cover_RingMaster Review   The strong start is soon overshadowed by Just Like Bela, the band’s horror punk invention lining the predatory gait and design of the song. There is a healthy whiff of Misfits/Wednesday 13 to the encounter but its own character shines through, especially with the inventive mix of vocals and hard rock enterprise which frees itself. As it eclipsed its predecessor, so the track is outdone by the outstanding Living Life to the Emptiest. The third track has the edge and air of Dead Kennedys to its belligerent and anthemic confrontation, entwining it with great slithers of melodic acidity from Fortney’s guitar and punching it through with the raunchy bass and whipping beats of Brady and Alwine respectively.

A rapaciously commanding cover of The Angels’ Straight Jacket comes next, the song given a no frills make-over and emerging with a feel of The Saints to its richly satisfying punk ‘n’ roll, before Biker provides its own seventies inspired enticement. The song takes ears and thoughts right back into the breaking storm of punk rock, its DIY feel a bracing two minutes of raw endeavour and tenacity.

   Letter to the Government spills seventies glam and southern dirt rock revelry in its political attack within a bluesy entanglement of sound and enterprise whilst Running Riot sees Scanner take on the Cock Sparrer’s street punk classic to captivating success before haunting the psyche with Ghost Song. All three tracks have ears and emotions fully enlisted but it is the last of the trio which seduces the imagination and passions most. Its surf/psychobilly climate has echoes of The Meteors and Tiger Army to it but, as with all songs, variety is a vocal part, here punk and seventies garage rock bring extra juicy hues.

The Turbonegro meets Jello Biafra smelling Queen of the Stage has the body bouncing around next whilst a broad smile and further burst of pleasure is sparked by the band’s reworking of Bowie’s Suffragette City. The song has everything which you will have enjoyed in the original but roughed up and twisted around a bit, resulting in a great version to rival any other you may have come across.

Mischief and humour is as much a healthy asset as the flavours and invention of the Scanner sound and all give a fun time in Yeah We Suck, a round-up of ‘advice’ they and most bands will have gained at one time or another. That urge to have a ball continues in the album’s title track, an infectious brawl of virulence which is for the most instrumental but does have a lyrical bounty consisting of just its title being repeated with increasing relish. It, as most before it, has a claim for best song within Splat but the favourite spot gets grasped at the last moment by closing song Kaw-Liga. A country music song written by Hank Williams and Fred Rose, and covered by the likes of Johnny and the Hurricanes, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, and The Residents over the years, Scanner turn it into a dark rock ‘n’ roll predator. Riffs and rhythms almost stalk the senses as the outstanding blaze of vocals ebb and flow across its sinister surf spiced landscape. It is only half the adventure though, the band breaking out into cow punk devilry too, switching between both provocative contagions throughout for one riveting and thrilling romp.

The US hailing Scanner might be an unknown secret right now but they hopefully and should not be for much longer as Splat trespasses on increasing numbers of ears for an increasing awareness. Go get some is our suggestion.

Splat is out now.

RingMaster 26/08/2015

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Bill Parton Trio – Self Titled EP

BPT

     It is always a treat and thrill when a release comes from out of nowhere to play with and inspire the imagination and passions. Every year has a few of those moments when a band which has never even been a scent in the nostrils of attentions suddenly steps forward to light up the ears and the Bill Parton Trio is certainly an early one for 2014. With their debut self-titled EP, the trio from Adelaide, South Australia dance with and entice the senses with piano led pop and a passionate endeavour which is virulently catchy and unashamedly tempting. The accompanying press sheet for the release suggests the band is like a merger of The Beatles, Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, and Radio Head to which we would suggest a slice of Michael Bublé, none particularly inspiring if we are honest for our personal tastes meaning the encounter struggled to spark any eagerness towards it before a note was heard. It is a false description, though you can understand why comparisons are made, one not to be taken too accurately as the Bill Parton Trio have something quite distinct and memorable to them, a sound irrepressibly engaging.

     Consisting of William Parton (vocals, piano), Jeremy Martin (bass) and Andrew Partington (drums), the band has garnered a fine and increasingly potent name for themselves in their homeland through their insatiable appetite to gig and the successful release of the singles Going Away and Falling For You Again. Numerous festival appearances have also increased the stature of the band with the release of their EP in Australia last August accelerating their presence and success. Recorded with producer Darren Mullan (The Angels, The Beards, John Swan, Russell Morris), the release now gets its UK unveiling and it is hard not to assume it will find the same attention and success again.

     It does not take long for the EP’s opening track to bring appetite and attention to the boil. The initial piano beckoning of Falling for You Again builds to a mini crescendo before relaxing as it embraces the vocals of Parton for the parading of the song’s narrative. Even in its gentle stroll there is an open infectiousness which intensifies as the track swings its hips into a lively chorus clad in a harmonious embrace. A song you can join in easily with by the second return of its irresistible catchy main call, the encounter makes for an absorbing and masterful invitation to band and release.

   The following So Unfair brings a slower sultry glaze to its persuasion which smoulders and entices another flame of pleasure. As with a few of the songs there is something indefinably recognisable to the track, an admittedly appealing but definitely familiar bait which could be a take it or leave it issue for some. As Parton and song croons with expertise and emotive elegance it is something which certainly brought another tasty morsel to the table of the EP for us, a pleasing flavour soon matched and exceeded by Going Away. There is no disguising the Lennon and McCartney aspect to the song here but again it works rather than derails the suasion of the song, its contagion the primary lure to be enslaved and excited by though matched again by the keys and vocal prowess of Parton aligned to the rhythmic call of the rest of the band.

     If You’re Here With Me slows things down just a little next, though still there is a swerve to the body of the evocative tale. The bass of Martin adds its own captivating bait whilst the beats of Partington cast a crisp frame to the melodic resources of Parton, the trio once again leading thoughts into a sultry emotional encounter. That sense of familiarity once more only adds to the lure of the track, helping the EP play more like an old friend rather than an undiscovered new acquaintance, but a returning companion you always hold a full welcome for.

   The closing Stalker Man is more of the same, a familiar but refreshing breeze of melodic piano pop with vivacious harmonies and lyrical poignancy. It brings the release to a fine and enjoyable conclusion if without quite lighting the same depth of reactions as the previous songs. The EP is a thoroughly pleasing and attentive proposition with really only a lack of something mouth-wateringly original to its wares is a slight disappointment. Nevertheless with the quality and sheer infectiousness of its songs there is little to hold back making a full recommendation to check out the release and the Bill Parton Trio.

http://www.billpartontrio.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 17/03/2014

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