Some of you will already know my fondness for Insurgence Records, and my joy at the news that Randy (part of the Insurgence crew) has also set up his own label, Rebel Time Records, with co-conspirator Phil Broadcast Zero. I’ve already reviewed their early releases, but I recently got a bundle from Randy with everything else put out to date. And what a damned fine bundle it is.
This is The Brats fourth album, and I don’t know how the fuck I missed the other three. This is anthemic rebel noise done right proper! Clearly designed to upset our enemies and fire us up in equal measure, the tracks are a finely-tuned and targeted assault on the stupidity that constitutes the current social order. It’s a big target, but The Brats main-line their attack straight into the system’s nerve centre. This is music that goes well beyond the meaningless clichés often found in lesser offerings. This mob know it’s 2009 not 1979 and, while they’re clearly well versed in our history, they’re also fully aware of the reality of the struggle today. ‘Those Who Sow Sorrow…’ is a beautifully angry response to the situation we currently find ourselves in.
That’s not to say they’ve forgotten their roots – there are definitely nods to the likes of Aus Rotten and The (English) Subhumans in their approach, but there’s also a strong flavour of bang-up-to-date melodic streetpunk underpinning the whole lot. Of course, without the intelligent, witty, and straight-talking lyrics, this would be nothing more than pleasing ear candy à la Rancid, and there’s more than enough of that sort of nonsense in the world already. The Brats are clearly not a part of that poseur punk mindset. It’s abundantly clear that they’re willing to accept the challenge of making punk rock a threat again.
The accompanying promo sheet nicely summarises the whole package as ‘a hummus-powered, positive & purposeful punk rock radical-left political primer… [that’s] even got melody, hooks & a catchy chorus or two!’. This is the sound that fills you with hope as you put a match to the Molotov in your hand and in your head.
Download sample track – ‘This Police State Causes Urban Genocide’
I love this band! I want to have their babies and breed an army of punk rock superheroes hell-bent on creating regime-changing anarchy! OK, I know that I don’t have the appropriate ladybits required for babymaking but, if I did, my womb would be theirs. These young soul rebels have revolution etched into their genetic make-up.
This disc picks up from where the last one left off without simply being more of the same. It keeps all of the energy, urgency and humour that hooked me first time without sounding in the least bit rehashed. You could quite happily play their entire recorded output back to back and enjoy every fist-pumping, life-enhancing, sweat-soaked second of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if you then pressed ‘repeat’ and did it all over again.
Even at their most serious, The Kids aren’t afraid of making you laugh while they fire you up. When they tackle sexual indoctrination and self-restriction in ‘Cherry Poppin’ Conservatives’, they do it with a literal ‘fuck you’ attitude, happily asserting that ‘it don’t matter who’s into penis or vagina, if you like ’em both, best of ya!’. The remedy is to ‘whip it out, slap it around’ while also making sure that Christian Conservatives get their ‘ass cherry popped!’. Sounds like one hell of a party.
The funnies don’t always fit the theme, and that’s where the poetry of their message shines through. ‘The reason I’m so angry is because I’m so in love, I won’t give up but one heart can only bleed so much for a world so fucked up’ (‘Love & Anger’) captures the essence of why we feel so compelled to scream out, and how we’re building a future based on love as we kick down the world around us.
This whole package brings to life Raoul Vaneigem’s lesson that ‘people who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth’. In true punk rock style, The Kids spat the corpse out a long time ago.
Download sample track – ‘Common Threads’
On first listen, I was a bit underwhelmed by this offering. But I quickly realised that my mistake was playing this straight after the other two and not giving my brain a chance to reset. Much like wine appreciation, you need to clean your aural palate when enjoying fine music.
Suitably refreshed, I hit play again. What a difference a cup of tea makes to your ears. The Rotten may not have quite the same the musical or lyrical prowess of their label breathren, but that doesn’t stop ’em expressing themselves in no uncertain terms. The noise is stripped down, punked up and gobbed out in the finest tradition of the old school style. There’s a decent dose of street politics and wrong-side-of-the-tracks anger aimed at the ‘great and good’, as well as tongue-in-cheek humour and the desire to just have fun. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The influence of Canuck punk pioneers DOA courses through the veins of these 21st century (angelic) upstarts, underpinning but not overpowering this rough diamond of a record.
The Rotten – they’re anything but.
Download sample track – ‘K.W.D.P.’
You can buy all of these titles from Iron Column Records for the princely sum of £7 each plus a bit for p&p. All profit goes to antifa groups. Just use the order form to let me know what you want, and I’ll get it sorted.
And apologies to Randy, Phil and the bands for the delay in getting these reviewed. Your efforts are much appreciated, even if I’m a slackarse sometimes.