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VA – Terminal Decay LP / Artcore Fanzine #29

AKA ‘Artcore Vinyl Fanzine Volume Five’. Punk rock fixture ‘n’ fitting Welly is back with yet another broadside in his war against mediocrity in the zine scene. And he’s a veteran in every sense – this is issue #29 of the exceptional ‘Artcore‘, an organ that he’s been thrusting into the hands of grateful punks since 1986. But with the printed word becoming harder to sell to the internet masses, Welly’s risen to the challenge and occasionally produces a vinyl fanzine to bring something a bit different to the table. Like this one.

Artcore zineThe mag is as jam-packed as ever and, with Welly’s experienced eye, beautifully laid out. All of the bands on the album are covered within, some with full interviews and the rest with smaller info panels, there are a few dozen quick reviews (I wish I had the ability to be both that brief and informative), a couple of Wellian polemics (the one on ‘knowing your place’ is outstanding), a bit of ranting banter from a few mates, some history lessons (MDC and more German punk), interviews with a range of deviant types (the highlight for me has to be the one with Rob ‘The Baron’ Miller of Amebix), and all tail-ended by some lovely ’50s horror comic style artwork courtesy of Dirty Donny, who also gets to say a few words.

Crammed on to the large round thing that accompanies the mag (AKA ‘Terminal Decay’) are twenty tracks that showcase a load of new(ish) bands from across the punk spectrum who are taking punk forwards on their own terms (whilst respecting the traditions that preceded them). Like any comp, there will almost certainly be a track or two that don’t quite gel with your ears. It’s music, it’s a personal response, that’s what happens. But, to these ears, this one hits the spot far more often than not, and even the ‘worst’ of the tunes is alright.

Other great things about the comp are that the bands represent 12 countries between them, thirteen of the tracks are previously unreleased while, for two more, it’s their first vinyl outing. That’s proper old-school, when comp albums would be made up almost exclusively of new songs and / or unknown bands from all over the place.

Welly wants to keep this deal as analogue as possible, but has kindly agreed to let me upload the title track (as used in the above video). If you want to hear the rest of it (and you’d be bonkers not to), you’ll have to grab this quick.

OP’s opinion: Four half

Download ‘Terminal Decay‘ (FLAC) by Burning Sensation (on hiatus)
Visit Welly’s website
Buy from Iron Column Records

More Misery Makes Me Happy!

Misery cover

Responding to the earnest demands of aged aesthetes, veteran crusters Misery have had their recent DIY download-only release pressed on to vinyl by the good people at Inimical Records. Not any old vinyl, of course. It’s a double album, cut at 45rpm to ensure maximum heaviness, on beautiful grey splatter vinyl (limited to the first 200 who mailorder from Inimical, plain black after that), with a weighty matt card gatefold sleeve illustrated by Leffer that reflects the intricate monotones of the contents. Grey has never been so dynamic or intense.

The whole deal is only twelve Yankee bucks. Even with the postage across the pond, I got this beast for the equivalent of twenty quid. And that’s a price I’m more than happy to have paid.

OP’s opinion: Five (it gets the extra half an @ over the download for being a proper record with loads of class).

Anthrax – One Last Drop 7″

Anthrax cover

Click for larger image

No, not that one, the proper one.

This is a limited vinyl pressing (300, each numbered) of their first new studio tracks in 25 years, originally released on MCD in 2009. The band have put this out to raise money for Bradford’s legendary ‘1 in 12 Club‘, who are facing large bills for essential safety work on their building.

Which means the first thing you’ll get for your money is a warm glow from having helped out a punk institution.

You’ll also get a heavy fold-out card cover with a piece about the club, lyrics to both tracks and some classic Anthrax artwork. They even include the MCD for free. Oh, and there’s a record.

Never mind the 25 year gap, this is about as fresh as punk gets. The pace may have slowed a fraction but the urgency hasn’t diminished one bit. The A side has a really powerful sound, almost an Oi! feel but with more depth to it. The flip is more traditionally moody @-punk, perked up with a simple semi-acoustic refrain along the way. The whole thing is like the second EP on steroids, and I’m really impressed with the progression. I’d even go as far as saying that, as a whole package, it’s the best thing they’ve done to date.

The whole deal is £4 plus postage direct from the band at anthrax_uk@hotmail.com or buy it on ebay for a little bit more.

OP’s opinion: Five

Squat The Lot!

Squatingt benefit CD poster

I’ve been using whatever remnants of knowledge and wisdom I have in my head to help a young punk put this benefit compilation together. And I’m very excited by how it’s turning out.

There are some great acts involved, covering the whole gamut of punk, ska, folk and other related noise, and they’ve all given their time and tracks for free. Things like this just reinforce why punk will always be a central part of my life and why it’s about so much more than just the music.

Stay tuned for the release date, you’ll hear it here first.

Opposition Rising – Aftermathematics LP

Opposition Rising posterThis is the first vinyl release from the rapidly-expanding Riot Ska Records collective (among others), and it’s a great start for them.

Opposition Rising hail from Boston and band members have been heavily involved with the scene for many years. Their diverse tastes are reflected in the sound they’ve produced here, a pleasant cocktail of sharp old-school hardcore and dismetal with touches of what is probably best described as ska-crust. The production job is crisp without being too clean, very well suited to what they’re doing, and everything fits nicely into place.

The band have matched the noise to some creative and intelligent lyrics, which is exactly what you’d expect from folk who’ve been around the block a few times. There’s an an uncompromising attitude that could only really come from veterans of the social war. They’ve also made some conscious positive decisions about what DIY means to them when it comes to putting out their music in this day and age. It’s nice to see the old guard (still) setting the pace in political punk rock discourse.

Being a vinyl nut, I scooped up the limited edition swamp green version from Riot Ska. The other labels involved – Active Rebellion (UK), Crash Assailant Records (US), Pirates Press Records (US), Rodent Popsicle (US) and Tankcrimes Records (US) – have each got their own limited colour pressings too (and they’re all really nice). There are (not-so-limited) black copies available from the band’s own label, Opposition Records, and all of the above.

You may also be able to track down the free CD version or, if not, you can download it for absolutely nothing from the Bandcamp page.

For people who also like: Varukers, Toxic Narcotic, Mouth Sewn Shut

OP’s opinion: Four half

Opposition Rising website
Buy from the labels or from Iron Column Records (black version).

NB: the band also appear on a 4-way split 7″ with Embrace The Kill, In Defence and Hellmouth, which is also available from ICR.

These Days Will Never Come Again

All that remains for me to say is cheers ‘n’ beers for the last twelve months and

New Year 2012

A Year In My Ears 2011

Although I don’t think I’ve spent so much on new music this year when compared to last, what I have bought has been immensely satisfying. These ten releases have ended up doing multiple revolutions on various stereophonic devices around my house, and have definitely earned their keep.

Amebix – Sonic Mass LP (Easy Action Records). An album that was more than two decades in the making, and one that surpassed every expectation. There were some who didn’t ‘get’ this release, but I wasn’t one of them. Awesome on every level.

The Rebel Spell – It’s A Beautiful Future CD* (Rebel Time Records). Rebel Time have turned me on to some mighty fine noise coming out from the land of lumberjacks, and The Rebel Spell have continued that trend. Brilliantly tuneful and full of energy.

The Astronauts – Survivors LP (La Vida Es Un Mus). While the tracks on this release (a collection of their first 2 EPs and their side of a rare split) may be thirty years old, Paco at LVEUM has given them a new lease of life on this album. Off-the-wall kinda-folk-flavoured tunes for those willing to go on a punk rock adventure.

Burnt Cross – Break The Law, Not The Poor EP* (various labels). Two brothers with a mic, a guitar and a portastudio give Conflict a run for their money. When you want your punk rock old-school, no-nonsense and full-on, the Marriott boys should be near the top of your list. Like here.

Spanner – Crisis LP* (Iron Column Records / various labels). Disclaimer 1 – I have a financial and emotional interest in this. Disclaimer 2 – I can’t be held responsible for any outbreaks of crazy dancing and/or revolutionary activity that may result from hearing it.

ATU / Oi Polloi split EP* (Profane Existence / Nikt Nic Nie Wie). The 7″ single has never been so dangerous! A handful of blitzkreig attack tracks from two of the hardest-working and most genuine bands in the scene, ripping into a range of very legitimate targets. Saw both bands this year and they rocked!

Defcon Zero – Music For Gluesniffers, Terrorists And The Mentally Ill CD* (Pumpkin Records). This would get a place for the title alone. As it happens, it’s also a cracking disc. No-frills rapidfire punk rock delivered with just the right balance of venom and humour.

Misery – From Where The Sun Never Shines DL (self-released on Bandcamp). This took almost 6 years to put together in a punk’s basement, in true DIY style. It was worth the time, for this is a mighty beast that sums up the band perfectly. Soon-to-be available on double-LP vinyl from Inimical Records (limited pressing on grey wax for mail order).

The Freebooters – Ordinary Level Oi! CD* (Distro-y Records). Every time I play this, I end up singing along at the top of my voice and smiling like a loon. Grade 1 Oi! for grade 1 haircuts.

VA – Prisoner Of War Benefit CD (no label). Released initially to raise funds for JJ (Active Slaughter’s guitarist who did time for animal lib activities), this CD is now carrying on the good work for anti-fascist prisoners. A great punk pick ‘n’ mix of tunes by a load of bands who haven’t forgotten what it’s really all about.

Not bad at all, eh?

* available to buy from Iron Column Records

Never Surrender, Never Give In!

In recent days, punks in Aceh, Indonesia, who were attending a benefit gig to raise money for orphans, were arrested en masse, humiliated, and put into 10-day religious fundamentalist ‘re-education’ programmes. Their crime? Being punks.

The Aceh state government implements a form of sharia law. Having a weird haircut, wearing black clothes, and hanging out with people of the opposite sex, apparently breaks that law. Never mind the fact that these kids, who generally don’t have much of their own to start with, were raising cash for those with even less. Or that, on the whole, punks tend to respect human dignity, embrace equality and show compassion to the wider world around them. No, the only thing that matters to these religious nuts is blind obedience to their own fucked-up ‘morality’.

In response, punks from around the world (including yours truly) are getting their shit together and doing whatever we can to show solidarity with our Indonesian brothers and sisters.

First off, protest. Most countries will have an Indonesian embassy or consulate that can be contacted. Check out this list for yours. Send them a polite email or letter protesting against the actions of the Aceh authorities. Here’s the one I sent if you need a starting point:

Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to you to express my concern at this report on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16176410

I find this action by the police in Aceh to be totally unacceptable, an affront to human rights that paints your country in a very poor light. I would suggest that the problem is not with the young people, it is with the intolerant people that they have to live among.

I was once a young punk, complete with the haircut and fashion. I am now a 46-year-old adult and would still call myself a punk, even if I no longer look like one (it’s not just about the clothes and hairstyles). As a punk, I have been to university and I am now a youth worker supporting homeless young people. I still love punk rock and go to many punk rock concerts, and I have met punks from all over the world (including from Indonesia). The young punks I meet are, without exception, kind and compassionate people. They are involved in human rights campaigns, many of them are vegetarians, they stand up against fascism and racism and believe in equality and dignity for all. Surely these are values that we all desire to see encouraged in our young people?

I would ask you to use whatever influence you have to persuade your government to intervene in the situation in Aceh, and ensure that the police service allows these young people to enjoy their punk culture and grow into happy and compassionate adults. Instead of imprisoning and humiliating them, I would suggest that people just take some time to talk to them.

Yours faithfully

People are also starting to organise protests at Indonesian embassies / consulates, such as this one planned for the UK next week. Keep an eye on the social networks, or organise one yourself and get spreading the word.

Depending on where you are, other options could be available. The important thing is to make sure that the Indonesian authorities know that we’re watching them while we watch each other’s backs.

Secondly, put a solidarity mixtape / CD-R together and pass it on to the folks at Aborted Society Records. They’re collecting as many as they can, ready to be packed up and shipped out. At some point early in the New Year, they should be off on their journey to punks who could do with a bit of moral support right now.

Making mixtapes for each other is something of a punk tradition, one that I’m proud to have maintained (albeit with more modern media), and I’m putting a vinyl selection together as I type. Once it’s done, I’ll post it up here too.

For an absolutely brilliant insight into the positivity some of these misfits generate, with not much more than a bunch of ukeleles, watch this:
Marjinal Punks doc

Potato & Watercress Soup

Another quick, cheap and easy recipe for a nice lunch or as part of a hearty winter banquet.

Serves one as a lunch (well, it does if you’re like me and can happily devour a pint of soup) or two as a starter.

  • Knob of marg / 1-2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed (optional)
  • 1 medium potato (around 200g), diced into 1cm pieces
  • A good large, loose handful of watercress, stalks and all, roughly chopped
  • 500ml hot light stock / water
  • 1 tsp fresh herb of choice, chopped (parsley and basil are both good)(optional)
  • A few tbs milk / vegan cream / stock / water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the marg / oil in a pot over a medium heat for a minute then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the spuds (and garlic if using) along with a grind of pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.

Pour on the stock / water, bring to a soft boil then cover. Cook until the potatoes are just about soft enough to eat then add the watercress, cover again, and cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove from heat, add the herbs then liquidise everything. It’ll probably be slighly too thick, so add your choice of liquid to get it nice and creamy – you should end up with around 500ml of soup. If you can do it in a proper liquidiser, you’ll end up with a silky smooth and slightly frothy liquid that’s a joy to shove in your gob.

Pour back into the pan and reheat briefly while stirring gently until just starting to bubble. Give it a quick taste and season some more if needed. Pour into bowl then pour into self.

Pasta With Walnuts And Mushrooms

This one’s dead simple, dead quick and dead-free.

Recipe for 1 hearty appetite, scale down / up as needed.

  • 100g pasta of your choice (I like conchiglie)
  • Knob of margarine or 1/2 – 1 tbs veg oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced (use chestnut mushies if possible)
  • 60g shelled walnuts (pieces are fine)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 125ml vegan cream (or 1 tsp cornflour mixed in with 125ml soya milk)
  • Fresh shredded basil (optional), salt and pepper to taste

Get a pan of water on the boil and cook pasta according to instructions. If you’ve got the rest of the ingredients ready(ish), you should be able to get it together in around 10 mins easily. If the pasta finishes before the rest of the recipe, just drain it then leave it covered until you’re ready.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, shaking or stirring often, until starting to darken, then pulse them in a food processor for a few seconds so they’re chopped into small bits and set aside.

Add the marg / oil to the pan and melt / heat for 30 seconds or so, then add the onion and fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to fry for a few more minutes, again stirring regularly, until the mushies are cooked to how you like ’em. Add a good grind of black pepper, throw in the walnuts and stir through for 30 seconds, then add the lemon juice and give it another 10 seconds of mixing.

Add the cream and stir through for a minute until it’s hot. If you use the milk / cornflour combo, pour in slowly while continually stirring to avoid lumps.

Finally, throw the pasta in the pan along with the basil and mix until everything’s coated with everything else. Give it a taste and add any extra salt and pepper if you need it. Slop into a big bowl and eat. Make sure you’ve got some salad on hand too. And a nice glass of wine.

Walnut & mushroom pasta