The Skints – Live. Breathe. Build. Believe. CD

Live Breathe Build Believe coverThere are some who say that youth is wasted on the young. I beg to differ, especially when said youth are producing slabs of sound as sweet as this. This cheeky bunch have got musical smarts about them that’s for sure, being well versed in the bouncy reggae legacy of Bob Marley with more than a nod to the urban Midlands flavours of both Steel Pulse and UB40 (a balancing act they pull off with effortless ease). Their 21st century attitude rattles out in some slickly delivered MC action and sharp breaks from the drums, all smoothly mashed into a ska groove that borrows from and adapts that recognisable 2-Tone rhythm. Spirit of punk is what binds the whole lot together before kickstarting the chemical reaction that follows.

There’s enough lyrical grittyness on display to make it perfectly clear The Skints are directly connected with the world they share with their peers on the streets and estates of Grey Britain, with all the hard times that can entail. But, more than anything, they’re about hope, about freedom and fun wherever and whenever the opportunity arises or can be created.

The Skints are a voice for the future that deserves to be heard, danced to, enjoyed and acted upon in equal measure.

For people who also like: The Specials, Lily Allen, (Tottenham) AK47s

OP’s opinion: Four half

The SkintsDownload sample track – Murderer
The Skints webpage
Buy from Rebel Alliance

The Autonomads – No Mans Land CD

The Autonomads - No Mans Land CD

It’s great to see DIY is still being kept alive by bands like The Autonomads. This release comes in a hand-folded A3 poster inside a hand-sewn hessian bag with a hand-numbered tag showing which one of the thousand pressed you’ve got. Impressive enough before you even get to the content. When you put this much care into the packaging, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll put some serious effort into what’s inside too. Having seen the band live before picking this up I know they do exactly that when they plug in and turn on, and the CD doesn’t deviate from the script.

This is tight and energetic punked-up ska with a decent splash of dubby sauce. It’s set off perfectly with some nice upfront sax and crowd-pleasing singalong choruses. The lyrics are a mix of the personal and political, not too dissimilar to the creative wordplay favoured by Dick Lucas, which is exactly how it should be. Packed into the backroom of a pub with this lot on the stage gets the dancefloor hot n’ sweaty very quickly. Grab this release and chances are you won’t be able to resist a quick skank when you put it in the CD player too (although that’s not so advisable if the CD player is in the car and you’re driving).

For people who also like: Inner Terrestrials, The Blaggers, Sonic Boom Six

OP’s opinion: Four

Download sample track – GMP (Greater Manchester Police)
The Autonomads’ Myspace
Buy from Pumpkin Records or the band

I’d also like to point out how nice Pumpkin Records were when I bought this and a Warcoma EP (review coming) from them for a grand £8 including postage. There was a slight delay in getting the package sent as The Autonomads were still in the process of making the next batch of bags. As well as sending me very friendly email updates about the order, they also threw in a complimentary copy of ‘Is It Fucking Worth It?‘ by Paradox (review also coming) when they were eventually able to post the discs out. There was even a lovely little hand-written note thanking me for my patience. Now that’s punk as fuck!

Dirty Revolution – Before The Fire CD

Dirty Revolution - Before The Fire coverThere may still be a few grey clouds outside but, with a beat packing more bounce than Skippy and a voice that’s as enchanting as a baby’s laugh, this disc is a great way to kickstart the summer season.

Dirty Revolution hail from the not quite so exotic and distinctly untropical climes of Cardiff but sound like they’ve spent their lives fed on a Caribbean diet of no-nonsense rudeboy ska and laid back roots n’ reggae rhythms. Add in the fearless attitude to cultural cut n’ paste favoured by the youth of today and you get this belter of an album. There’s more than a touch of punk spirit at play across the whole affair, as well as a nod to Motown, a breath of husky jangly indie-pop and even a bit of a rock-out now and then.

This is very much in the mode of Scum Of Toytown and Back To The Planet (and even has hints of Chumbawamba with the power and presence in Reb’s lead voice), although The Revs’ own style makes them sound both more fulsome and spacious than either. There’s a wicked streak of humour, some cutting commentary and even a bit of sorrow gleaned from everyday life, albeit sorrow coloured with hope and optimism from the lessons learned. When I hear lyrics written with such obvious passion and delivered with even more, my faith in the future burns a little brighter.

And, although there was an April shower while this was playing, all I could see was the sunshine breaking through the clouds.

Dirty RevolutionThe limited edition pre-order version in my hands (500 copies pressed and lovingly hand-numbered) has two bonus tracks on it and is printed to look like a mini bit of vinyl. The CD is stylishly black instead of silver on the ‘shiny’ side just to complete the effect. There may still be a few copies available if you hurry, but the standard version still has ten tracks worth raiding your rainy day fund for. And, like most of the Rebel Alliance roster, they’re pretty good at taking their sound out to the masses, so make sure you seek ’em out or entice them down your way sometime.

For people who also like: King Blues, AOS3, Los Fastidios

OP’s opinion: Five

Download sample track – 50p
Dirty Revolution’s webpage
Buy from Rebel Alliance


A recent chat about things people love over at the Red & Anarchist Black Metal forum led to someone (thanks Starcide) sending me this delicious recipe. Mafé, or peanut stew, is a traditional dish eaten by the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia. They have no hesitation in adding chunks of dead stuff to theirs, but it’s simply a matter of replacing that bit with life-friendly ingredients to make it suitably vegan. I used tofu, but a tin of beans is equally as good.

This is a substantial dish and will easily serve four with some rice, bulghur wheat, couscous etc., and salad.

  • 125ml veg oil
  • 250g firm tofu, drained and marinated (I used shoyu and vegan Worcestershire sauce) or a 400g tin of beans (kidney are good)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 225g peanut butter (no added sugar)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (I liquidise mine)
  • 2 tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 fresh red jalopeño chilli (left whole for mild heat or, as I prefer, finely sliced for a bit more punch)
  • 300g (chopped and) cooked veg e.g. carrot, potato, squash, aubergine (I used a mix of carrot, sweetcorn and mushroom)
  • 250ml light stock / water (use any leftover veg cooking water)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)
  • Shredded fresh herb (e.g. basil, coriander, parsley) to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil, preferably in a large pot, and fry the tofu (if using) over a medium-high heat first. Remove when nicely browned, then add the onion to the same oil. Once it begins to soften, add the red pepper, chilli and any other fryable veg (such as mushroom) and fry for a few minutes more. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomatoes and tomato pureé, bring to a simmer then add the peanut butter, lime juice if using and enough stock to make a thickish sauce. Simmer again for a few minutes, then add the tofu / drained  beans and the rest of the veg. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly and adding more stock / water if needed.

Serve over whatever carb you’ve chosen, sprinkle on the herbs, give it a grind of pepper and scoff.

New Kids On The Plot

One of the posters over at the Profane Existence forum was looking for some beginners tips as they set out to grow for the first time in a new plot this year. I came up with a few suggestions and, as an avid recycler, I’ll put ’em up here too.

Check out your garden’s micro-climate. What’s the garden’s aspect? Are there damp / dry / shady spots?  What plant hardiness zone are you in? Which way are the prevailing winds and how strong can they be?

What sort of soil have you got? Clay-like, sandy, loamy (the best sort)? It may be worth doing a pH and soil test using a kit similar to this.

Look at what your neighbours are growing, talk to them, and see if there are any community gardening groups operating. They’re a good source of plants / seeds (often free) and knowledge.

Start a compost pile. This will become black gold!

Allow some space for wildlife. Either grow a small ‘wild’ area, or incorporate wildlife-friendly plants. And put out bird food in safe places for the birds. The natural food chain created will help with any bug problems later in the year.

Put in a small pond with suitable plants. In no time at all, things will find their way to it. Introduce frogs suitable for your area if they don’t find their own way (a blob of spawn is a great way to do this) – frogs are great at eating slugs and other annoying things.

Start organic, then stay that way. If you’ve got an established major weed problem, a one-off hit with glyphosate may be worth considering if you’re comfortable with that sort of thing. If not, look at mulching (although be prepared to have the land out of action for quite some time for this to be really effective) and, in some cases, be prepared for digging out every piece of root you can find.

Look at no-dig gardening techniques for an easier life and a healthier garden. Let the worms, bugs and microbes do all the hard work.

Use the web to look for local / regional gardening-related websites.

Take it at your own pace, learn from what doesn’t work and go with what does and, most importantly, just enjoy it. Relaxing in the garden is an essential part of the whole thing.

That should do for starters. Now get out there and get dirty!

Credit To The Nation – Pay The Price 12″ EP

Artist: Credit To The Nation
Title: Pay The Price
Source: Vinyl 12″ EP
Format: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 00:16:35
Size (mb): 109
Label: Agit-Prop (defunct)
Year: 1991

Veering slightly off the beaten track, here’s a bit of early 90’s radical hiphop in a UK stylee. CTTN were made up of three youngish kids from the Midlands, an MC and two dancers, who could move from a mainstream poppy R&B sound one minute, to some pretty cutting political rap the next. But they always did it with a cheeky grin that you can really pick up on in Fusion’s delivery, and they had some slick stage moves too! Remember, this was a time when pit piles were seen as the height of suave self-expression through the medium of dance.

For only three tracks, you get a nice feel for how this mob effortlessly switched around the sounds they made. Time to get down, homies.

OP’s opinion: Three half

Click here to request the download link.

If you are the copyright owner and want us to take down your music, just click here and let us know. We’re really not trying to piss anyone off, we just want to share rare and out-of-print music with people who want to hear it.

Millions Of Dead Cops / The Restarts – Mobocracy Split LP

Mobocracy vinylWith two of my favourite bands on one record, I knew the chances of me being impressed were high even before the needle hit the groove. The splatter vinyl and top notch sleeve illustrations by Kieran Restart simply added to the thrill of anticipation. And thrilled I was once the technology did its thing and launched the noise into my living room (and, probably, my neighbour’s too).

It’s hard to believe that MDC have been doing their thing for over thirty years when you hear the youthful urgency and energy contained on their side of the wax. They’ve certainly not taken their foot off of the accelerator as the time has passed by. As well as the usual political targets left bullet-ridden by Dave Dictor’s verbal crossfire, MDC also allow themselves to get more personal at times, sharing salutory tales from the scars they’ve picked up along the way. You’d be wise to listen to such wisdom. The intricacy in the music, especially when played so fast, shows a natural affinity between the band and their instruments that can only be acquired through having spent so long in each others company. The only slight criticism I have is that the sound is a little flat for my tastes, and some bits could do with stronger back-up (rhythm guitar?) when the fret-shredding begins in earnest. But the overall power of the whole thing is undeniable, especially when Dave’s vox kick in. I’d even go as far as saying that this is the strongest release they’ve done since that classic first album and EP.

OP’s opinion: Four

Download sample track – Patriot Asshole
MDC’s Myspace

While The Restarts don’t have the length of service of their American friends, they’re certainly a familiar part of the punk rock furniture. Listening to this cuddly threesome bark out their heartfelt and down-to-earth thoughts and feelings about the world is both uplifting and comforting, like a big bowl of stew and dumplings on a cold winter’s night. Sure, it might be grim outside but, with the right fuel inside you, you can face it head on and with a smile. Many bands try and pull off the straight-up street sound and no-nonsense attitude combo with varying degrees of success (and, more often, failure *cough* Casualties *cough*), but The Restarts manage it effortlessly because that’s exactly what they are – straight-up no-nonsense punks. Whether it’s at the ‘punk Glastonbury’ affairs that help pay the bills, or in a squatted basement raising cash for any number of causes that need it, they give it their all. They’re on the road as often as they’re not, so be sure to go and say hello if they pass anywhere nearby. Until then, grab this gem and turn your own humble abode into the next best thing.

OP’s opinion: Five

Download sample track – Square One
The Restarts’ website

A joint release between Rodent Popsicle (limited brown/white or splatter vinyl), Crash Assailant (CD), No Label (limited clear vinyl, black vinyl, CD) and Dirty Faces (same), or something like that.

It’s worth saying that I bought this from Rodent Popsicle Records, as there was a bundle deal on at the time which meant I got this, a Toxic Narcotic pic disc LP, and two limited 7″s (‘Human EP’ and ‘Solid EP’) containing the above two plus the likes of Phobia, Embrace The Kill, Citizen Fish and Mouth Sewn Shut shared between them, plus a free copy of Mouth Sewn Shut’s ‘Doomed Future Today‘ CD (Bill, RPR’s operator, also does the main shouty stuff for the band), all for $34. And twenty of that went on the airmail alone, plus another buck or so for the superb packing. I’m sure he must’ve lost money on this!  Bill is a lovely bloke to do business with and, even without the offers, the stuff he puts out is very nicely priced for such high quality items.

I’m sure the others are all equally as lovely too!



For the first time in many, many years, I’ve been left speechless. A few minutes ago, settling down with my first cuppa and fag of the day, I browsed to my email account for the site. There was one new message waiting. A quick click, a brief scan and my mouth dropped open. I still can’t shut it.

A ‘corporate’ group is offering to buy my web domain name. For $5000.

I can’t say who they are just yet, but it’s a familiar ‘brand’ in the mainstream ‘punk’ business. The sort of group I’d normally steer well clear of.

But it’s $5000, I don’t have a job and this place only cost me a few bucks in the first place. And, as long as I don’t use a similar-sounding replacement, I’m free to set up a new space elsewhere on the net.

It’s a no-brainer. There’s some paperwork to sort out first but, if all goes to plan, it looks like the new owners will be moving in on May 1st.

I’ll fill in a few more details later on, I’m a bit all over the shop right now, but this is some of the best and worst news I’ve ever had.

UPDATE: Things like this only work if you have any readers that are up before noon on April Fool’s Day, and who are daft enough to be taken in. I therefore declare Ernest the winner.

Interview With Active Minds Pt. 1

I’ve recently  been chatting with Mr Dee Fekt, drummer for the ageless Kismet HC and Death Zone pop combos. KHC went on a mini-tour a few weeks ago with Active Minds, old punks in their own right, and visited some of our nearby European neighbours. Seeing as they were sharing stage space and personal hygiene problems, I asked Dee if he would grab a few words from Bobs and/or Set about whatever took their fancy. He kindly obliged so here’s the first half, with questions based on conversations in the back of the minibus and answered by Bobs.

Active Minds Intro

by Steve Deefekt (Kismet Hardcore / Death Zone), April 2010

I am going to start this introduction with the first time that Active Minds had a real impact in my life.

I had known of the band in their previous incarnation as S.A.S and had pushed the snail mail back and forth with Set their drummer many times, but it was not until their first full length album came to my door that the importance of their work would come to my attention.

I had a box of these albums to sell to the local punk herberts of Stoke-on-Trent, which I like to think I did a good job and I also like to think is the reason that when the Active Boys come to Sunny Choke-on-Stench, they always have a favourable turn out and an eager audience.

The ‘Welcome To The Slaughterhouse’ 1987 album, which although can not be said to be a pioneer in studio efficiency is probably a landmark in the sheer force of the message contained, was for me and many of us at last a record that knew where ‘we’ were coming from, and had enough clout that hadn’t been seen since Crass, no compromise or striving for mass appeal. The post-core pretensions of punk rock were not adhered to, let alone a consideration, here was in all its basic form active rebellion in lyrical aggression that kicked against, spat at and generally raised the spirits of those who were at the time getting a bit pig sick of the characterised farce that had become UK punk.

This straight upfront approach to both their European-influenced style of hardcore coupled with their ‘in your face’ lyrics, backed up with integrity, were such a breath of fresh air to the stale and often insincere rock aspirations of current bands.

I won’t go into too much history detail; I think Active Minds would say ‘Dis is getting ridiculously long now’. For those information junkies I suggest reading ‘Trapped In A Scene’ by Ian Glasper, so now read on for an insight on the current activities and mindset of Active Minds.

The Interview Part 1

Dee: Lets talk about records, it has to be said that both the Active Minds boys are known for their avid record collecting as much as their hard hitting political stance, is this hunger for new records still there? And how do you choose one record over another, when it seems that every person and his Nan seems to have a release these days?

Bobs:  I’m not sure the “hunger” is as much as it once was, but there’s still undoubtedly a fascination and very keen interest. I can only speak for myself rather than Set, whenever I get a big parcel of stuff for the distro that we’ve traded with someone I’m just like a big kid who can’t wait to open his presents at Christmas.

Yeah, there is a bit of an overkill in terms of new records available and I don’t even try to keep up with it all anymore – I frequently look at distro boxes at gigs and don’t have a clue who half the bands are. Set still tends to scrutinise Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll reviews to see what new stuff he’s after and then drags around pieces of paper with lists of releases he’s after on them. Personally I just go by some names I may have heard about on the grapevine, bands I may have seen somewhere, sleeves that catch my eye etc. Most of the records I get for myself come via the distro – stuff that we trade from other labels. That’s pretty much always been the case.

We talked about the Internet’s My Space/Face Book/ Youtube and its claim of being “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”. Allowing that search for a band just at your fingertips, does this cheapen the experience of owning a record, the anticipation of the arrival?

Not sure that it cheapens the experience of owning a record – a lot of people don’t bother to own records anymore in any case, and I wouldn’t criticize them for that.

The one thing that it does do, I think, is break down the barriers between people and bands in parts of the world that are vastly different to each. That can certainly be a double edged sword. It has advantages in allowing open communication across the globe in a way that wasn’t previously possible. However, it also disguises those very real differences in circumstances to a large extent. That’s not exactly “cheapening the experience”, but it can lead to a complacency about the modern world being more equal than it actually is.

When I first start writing and trading music with people across the world, it was very apparent in many cases that you were corresponding with people who were much poorer than you, and with bands who couldn’t afford decent gear or a recording studio. Getting hold of music from South America or the Eastern Bloc wasn’t easy, so it made you appreciate it more, along with understanding the circumstances in which it was made and the conditions in which people were living.

Now it can be just a bit too easy to get everything via the web that we can assume that everyone lives an equally privileged life.

The download ability and instant fix not having that lasting impact. Let’s face it, you don’t get bombarded by adverts for the world’s biggest capitalist brands with vinyl releases.

I find adverts on the internet to be a complete pain. They are the principle reason why my computer can’t keep up with the advancement of technology. Because I don’t play games, I don’t see why I should have to keep upgrading my computer to keep up with the demands of the latest graphics. But so many people put these flash adverts on web pages that they can completely jam my computer up, which is just another corporate plot to build obsolescence into everything as far as I’m concerned.

Yeah, you don’t get those adverts with vinyl releases, but they do come with their own downsides – such the amount of space it takes to store them!

The pros and cons of the Internet, making national boundaries a thing of the past, giving bands an open window to get their music out to people. Is it playing with the devil, with the enforced adverts and its ownership by capitalists?

See earlier about the getting rid of national boundaries – because to quite a large extent that can be an illusion, I think. As for the whole caper being owned by capitalists – that pretty much applies to most things in our society (including the companies that make stereos, guitars, amps and drum-kits). That doesn’t stop us from making good use of these things. We don’t have to get sucked in to all the bullshit. Consumerism is a state of mind as much as anything else.

Active Minds

Active Minds, The Old Bell, Derby, 2010 (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 1

Shredding in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 2

Bashing in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Many thanks to Dee and Bobs for sharing their time and thoughts with me and the other reprobates who hang out round these parts, part 2 will follow as soon as it drops into my inbox.