Old Distro Closed, New One Open!

Iron Column Records logoSome of you may have noticed that I had a small distro hidden within these pages. Many of you probably didn’t. So, in an effort to make things more visible (and make it easier to spread the word), I’ve removed the page here and given it a makeover and domain all of its own. So please go and check out


Not only is it a distro for fine anti-fascist music and merch, within the next month or so I’ll also be co-releasing the debut album from radical ska-punkers Spanner (on limited edition coloured wax, obviously) under the ‘Iron Column Records’ label. Exciting!

It’s being run as a non-profit project, with 100% of all proceeds going to anti-fascists in need. Feel free to spread the word far and wide, and maybe even spend a little bit of your hard-earned dosh on the gems contained therein.

Random Hand – Seething Is Believing CD

Seeting Is BelievingI was fortunate enough to catch Random Hand when they supported Propagandhi a while back, and was mightily impressed with their energy and presence. So when I was given the opportunity to review their latest offering (thanks Donagh), I jumped at the chance. And I’m very happy with what I’m hearing.

Random Hand have their roots firmly in the third-wave skacore approach to sound generation, but aren’t limited by the style. As a result, it’s a very non-generic sounding disc and shows what can be done with a little more thought and application on the part of musicians. Stuck in a rut it most certainly ain’t.

The music is a nicely complex mix of heavy punk-metal drum patterns interspersed with some nifty ska off-beats, a guitar that shreds one minute and skanks the next, bass work that’s rock steady with the occasional touch of rocksteady, with the whole affair punctuated throughout by some very sweet silver-tongued trumpet and trombone (the vocalist is responsible for this and must have lungs the size of a whale). Vox are overlaid with just the right amount of in-yer-faceness that really do justice to the lyrical flow, with the rest of the band chipping in at opportune moments.

Talking of the lyrics, these are definitely a cut above the usual mustard. It’s obvious that RH have put a lot of thought into what they want to say and aren’t afraid to go outside the sometimes staid confines of political music. A story of time spent in the Balkans (‘Tales Of Intervention’) hits hard at the military complex that visited destruction on the peoples of the region, but manages to find hope from the fact that ‘borders don’t mean anything when people can connect…we are not our leaders’. People are people, it’s governments that fuck us up. Other songs tackle the curse of wage slavery, pointing out both the futility of compliance with the ‘do what the boss says and make what you can’ mentality (‘But I know we’ll have the nicest grave, the little perk of my salary’ – ‘Start The Fans’), and why the working class can and must push back against the inhumanity of capitalism at every chance (‘We’re not a number sitting on a page and we’re not gonna settle for the minimum wage’ – ‘Not A Number’). There are well-aimed attacks on small-minded prejudice and a smart ability to make the personal political as they spread their underlying message of optimism.

But what I really like is the cleverness of their construction. While the delivery is clearly cut from punk rock cloth, the rhymes give an explicit nod to hip-hop culture in the way they’re pulled together. It’s a refreshing approach and one that ensures your attention doesn’t drift. After all, that’s the whole point.

While similar bands may cut it up on stage, they don’t always pull it off when they commit themselves to disc. Random Hand deftly avoid that pitfall and have no problems packing their attitude into a few inches of shiny plastic. As an added bonus, the accompanying artwork and booklet proves that the CD format doesn’t have to be boring.

For people who also like: Link 80, Capdown, The Ruts

OP’s opinion: Four-half

Download sample track – Tales Of Intervention (FLAC)
Random Hand Facebook
Buy from Bomber Music

The Freebooters – Ordinary Level Oi! CD

Freebooters coverThe Freebooters play no-nonsense ska-tinged streetpunk with a big fucking smile on its face! This is one infectious album, full of life and energy. It’s clear to hear that these Irish girls and boys have a burning desire to stand up and shout ‘Shut the fuck up! Listen! Dance! Change the fuckin’ world!’, a task they take on and complete with admirable ease.

While they’re not afraid to take a political stance, they manage to do it with a healthy dose of humour, particularly when it comes to their no-nonsense anti-fascist position. Just check out the chorus to ‘Paddy Hitler’ –

Paddy Hitler was a man who just couldn’t understand
Why things never came together in his master plan
Was his head too fat? Or his brain too small?
Either way he knows fuck all

or the amusingly titled ‘Stormfront In A Teacup’ that mercilessly rips the piss out of pasty-faced cyber-nazis. Putting their money where their mouths are, the band and label are also allowing antifa groups to buy a bundle of the CDs at a heavily discounted wholesale price and will throw in a load free aswell so that anti-nazis can raise some much needed cash (get in touch with Distro-y Records for the lowdown).

Other tunes deal with army recruiters targeting the unemployed, bar room pool-playing alkies, cops, priests, all-night partying and an ode to the fans of the finest anti-fascist football team on the planet, FC St Pauli.

Musically, it’s all as solid as a pint of Guinness – snappy basslines, brickwall beats, guitars that’ll get your Granny spinning and reeling on the dancefloor, and rousing choruses just begging for you to sing along with ’em. With the punk knowledge on display here it’s no surprise to learn that members have been part and parcel of the scene for a long time, having been involved with such luminary acts as The Dagda, Pink Turds In Space, Nappyrash, Toxic Waste, The Poke and Bleeding Rectum.

This is a bit of a departure for Distro-y, probably better known for putting out D-beat and crust flavoured outfits, and I take my hat of to Alex for spreading his punk rock wings in this direction. Diversity is one of the things that makes our culture so great, especially when it’s as sterling as this.

For people who also like: The Restarts, Stage Bottles, Runnin’ Riot

OP’s opinion: Five

Download sample track – St. Pauli (FLAC)
The Freebooters Myspace
Buy from Iron Column Records for £5 plus p&p (all proceeds to my local antifa friends), or Distro-y for €5 plus p&p

Prisoner Of War Benefit CD

Prisoner Of War coverJJ, the guitarist from Active Slaughter, is currently doing a 3-year stretch for his part in the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences. His friends in Trauma Unit have put together a benefit CD to get some cash together for him when he gets out. This is a ‘Pay What You Can’ release with 23 tracks from the likes of Extinction Of Mankind, Oi Polloi, Anthrax, Andy T, Doom (doing a Discharge cover) and loads of other noisemongers, with many of the tracks previously unreleased. It’s an absolute corker in every respect – the punk-as-fuck cover tells you everything you need to know about what’s gonna follow. It’s well worth at least a fiver, even if you have to raid your penny jar. You can find out more and order the CD here.

Please buy it if you can and help spread the word. Mutual solidarity ‘n’ all that…

OP’s opinion: Five

Spanner In The Manor

This is a quick heads-up to let you know that my good friends Spanner are on the verge of releasing ‘Crisis’, their first full-length album, in April. It’ll be available on both CD and 12 inches of shiny vinyl and is a collaborative effort between some of my favourite DIY labels – Active Distribution, Pumpkin Records and Maloka Records, as well as my new project Iron Column Records. Spanner logoYou can listen to / download four tracks from it on their Soundcloud page right now, and the rest of the album will be going up very shortly (all under a people-friendly Creative Commons licence).

Spanner knock out in-yer-face political punky ska, more spikey than skanky but still eminently danceable. They almost exclusively play benefit gigs at grassroots / DIY venues and band members aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty at the sharp end of the struggle. And, while work and families occupy a lot of their time, they try and get out on the road as often as possible, including the odd jaunt to Europe. If they turn up somewhere near you, go and check ’em out.

Rebel Fest In Your Own Home

Rebel Fest comp coverThis weekend sees the inaugural Rebel Fest event in Canada, put together by my mates Randy and Phil of Rebel Time Records and a plethora of assorted noise merchants. Along the way, they hope to raise a good chunk of cash for G20 political prisoners. Seeing as getting to the land of mooses involves a bit more than hopping on the number 43 bus, I’m very happy that Randy, Phil and the crew have put together a free download for those of us who can’t make the trip. Musically it covers all bases, from ’77 old school via no-nonsense Oi! to modern melodic hardcore. Lyrically, all the bands say a big ‘Fuck You’ in their own unique ways to the rulers and parasites who fuck with us on a daily basis. Rebel Fest is a way to redress the balance, to get together, drink, dance and celebrate the fact that, no matter what ‘they’ do, we are ungovernable.

You can grab the compilation here. You may also like to consider making a donation to the defence funds too, either the G20 Legal Defence Fund (for longer-term support) or the Guelph Anarchist Black Cross G20 Fund (for more immediate short-term needs).

OP’s opinion: Five