Tuesday, 20 January 2015

G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society's Shit) - Demo

I've been slumping lately. I've been not feeling too good. Spent more time in the last month watching TV shows about superheros with really great abs than writing. There's plenty of 2014 music I loved or liked that I didn't get round to exegesising but every time I come to sit down to write I feel wasted, worn out. Whenever I get into ruts like that writing feels something unknowable, impossible. I look at pieces of written without the slightest idea of how I wrote them.

Yesterday was the third Monday in January, the most-depressing day of the year according to the sort of meaningless pseudo-scientific studies that newspapers and/or advertisers like to latch on in their unending conveyor belt of half-arsed content and it didn't feel great, but then it didn't feel too different to a lot of other days the last four or five months. Shit's just been stale.

But this G.L.O.S.S. demo dropped a couple days ago and it burst like a bomb, immediately it was burning a bushfire across every internet platform, frantic reblogs and retweets, the name on everyone's lips, the message reverberating: "This is the one. This is the one. This. Is. The. One." This G.L.O.S.S. demo dropped a couple days ago and from the first screams of G.L.O.S.S. (We're from the Future) through the mosh of Outcast Stomp to the tear of Targets of Men, it ripped me apart, swept out some of that staleness.

Fierce as storms and tough as bike leathers, G.L.O.S.S. play hardcore punk that makes you feel it like the first time, it's got that struggle-born uncomfortable realness, like Anomaly's demo last year, that deep agony, that fearless kick and scathing punk swagger that transmutes pain into power, rage into revolution. Cos this shit is about way more than my dumb little problems and my shitty little blog, I can only imagine the fear and stress of living while trans, while queer, while female, but Girls Living Outside Society Shit do that every day, and they take all that and mold it into the hardest fucking shit, a carapace of  constantly-reinforced bitterness, a repeated retch of frustration, a punk packed with true heretic sputum, flicking acid into eyes. Full of the sort of lines that are gonna be scratched into desks and daubed on jackets, spraypainted on punkhouse walls, written in blood and sweat and stamped deep as wards onto souls so scarily renegade that the world just wants to crush them to dust: "THIS MAKEUP IS FOR MY EYES/THESE FISHNETS ARE FOR MY THIGHS/THIS WALK IS HOW I GOT THROUGH LIFE/YOU WANT THE PEPPER SPRAY FIRST OR THE POCKET KNIFE?!" goes Targets of Men. The singer Sadie was (is?) also in the amazing Peeple Watchin', a band just as lyrically tight but there working an aching yearning softer vibe, here just taking that keenness of feeling and blowing doors down with it. "THIS IS FOR THE OUTCASTS/REJECTS/GIRLS AND THE QUEERS/FOR THE DOWNTRODDEN WOMEN WHO HAVE SHED THEIR LAST TEARS/FOR THE FIGHTERS/PSCYHOS/FREAKS AND THE FEMMES/FOR ALL THE TRANSGENDER LADIES IN CONSTANT TRANSITION" cries Outcast Stomp.

As thrilling as it was personally for something this damn good to drop, to see the excitement it immediately stoked in friends and others, imagining a phalanx of tired-ass punx across the world breaking into grins at the fury and promise of G.L.O.S.S. (We're from the Future), kicking out chairs and bedroom slamming to Outcast Stomp, that's really nothing compared to its realest purpose, its highest potential. As cool as that is, it's secondary to the true power that I know music like this contains, dragging the world into the future, into 2015 and beyond, burning down the bullshit of the past, living adamantine hard, switchblade sharp shining and slicing in the process and progress. Killer punk at its world-warping best. For people still struggling under the weighty pressures of the shite that G.L.O.S.S. take deadly aim at, this message from the future, from the ones who've made a bright burning life outside society's shit in these five songs, might just not be another way-cool demo among the cool demos, the rambling stream of punk releases, the hype and the backlash, the peaks and troughs in the tapes and the records trickling out of punk minds globally. For the ones who haven't found a place yet where they can feel tough and hard and unbeatable, or who have maybe just forgotten that that place exists, this could be so much more. This feels like the sort of thing that could save a fucking life.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Rotten UK - Bat Shit Crazy 7"

Stuff that comes from far away is better than stuff that comes from near you. Everyone knows that. Celebrities looking for the latest eastern religion to latch onto, foodies searching out the latest imported food fad, bibliophiles admiring the intensity of feeling in a magic realist novel from across a couple of oceans, and punks excitedly chattering about some old hardcore record that got a pressing of like a hundred 30 years ago and 10000 miles away.

If you know a lot of christians, it might be harder to see the divine in the book that they follow when you're keenly aware that they're just as full of shit as anyone else, but if that wisdom comes from a far-off place, then it might just be sweeter, less messy. With distance it's easy to romanticise, to see things as purer, unencumbered by all the tawdry human trappings that make bands from round the corner seem so pedestrian, to imagine that these punks on this wax from that country in that year are the realest motherfuckers possible, no day jobs, no scene squabbles, no bad shows, just pure 100% uncut sewersnake attitude. Even if you know that's gonna be bollocks, it's just easier to pretend. Nicer sometimes.

Unfortunately in that desire for that illusion clarity of thought, of action, what is actually happening over there gets flattened, warped into something other than human, when it's often the human drive behind it all that's the most interesting part, the art, the religion, the food, the literature. These things, and all their attendant mess, get stereotyped into things they're not, bite-sized nuggets of digestible misconceived culture to lend a faded sense of exoticism to your interests. Imagine if you were a follower of a religion whose most well-known proponent for most of the world was Richard Gere. It'd be a bit shit.

Rotten UK are not from the UK. They are from Rochester, New York, not Rochester, Kent. They offer a brand of punk ripped from UK82's moronic beat, using the UK as just a lazy cultural signifier, a snotty punk trope akin to d-beat 'dis's or garage-punk 'thee's. They take this whole pulsing nation of 60 million people and reduce it to naught but a mangled Exploited song.

And that's great.

Fuck this country. Fuck this shit rain-drenched feudal outcrop, this shithead isle, choking on its own thankfully dying relevance. Take it all and bash it into a cackling Disorder rip-off. Fuck Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, the Snapping Bogseats are as close as the UK ever got to a voice of the nation, aggressively ignorant, simplistic snaps of shite.

A seven inch in which at least two of the songs are bloodily rearranged nursery rhymes, a thick-as-shit Macc Lads nursery rhyme like Mary Had a Little Goat and the violent fantasy of Burnt Church. That's all we've got, the inane mouthings of babes thrashed into a scrapheap bang of Chaos UK like aggro football chants constructed out of vulgarised pop songs, thousands of voices calling you a cunt in unison. The chugging cut of Slipping Into Darkness. The sneer of Broken Coffins. Death and decline. The end can't come soon enough, and when it does it's gonna sound like Rotten UK. Burn everything down. Smash it up. Weigh the country down with the concrete boots of tradition and sink it in the north sea. Support your local punk scene, vote Tory.

"God save the Queen and a fascist regime … a flabby toothless fascism, to be sure. Never go too far in any direction, is the basic law on which Limey-Land is built. The Queen stabilizes the whole sinking shithouse and keeps a small elite of wealth and privilege on top. The English have gone soft in the outhouse. England is like some stricken beast too stupid to know it is dead. Ingloriously foundering in its own waste products, the backlash and bad karma of empire" - William S. Burroughs, Place of the Dead Roads

Friday, 5 December 2014

Gaucho - Demo CS

Hispanophone dirt-beat hardcore from Toronto, members of S.H.I.T., rudimentary poundings, thick scratching as same scab that Mexico's Maquina Muerta, primitive, raw, laden-deep with anger and worldgrief. Brutalidad Policial shaking with drums to flatten buildings, scritchings in the murk, Maldita Sociedad hanging on a taut embryonic solo, snuffed out quickly in its squeakings, Sistema de Mierda circling a muddy drain, El Dia Final a monotonous thump through that viscous guitar burn, snagged on its rasping broken recitations: "MUERTE! MUERTE! MUERTE! MUERTE!" Cerebro Podrido similarly repetitive, the pain ground out through another elemental stomp. Five tracks on hardcore stripped down to its shivering skeletons, its gravelly bastard instincts, five tracks of shovel-blunt punk to stand with.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Frau - Punk is My Boyfriend 7"

Following on from their killer demo turned 12", a devastating 7" from one of the UK's very best, bustedmachine feminist punk, cogs and pistons moving in different directions, skittering to a stop, spitting off bolts and washers. Goofier than the first release somewhat, but still packed with that same frenetic jerky energy, bristling with stabbing power. Punk is my Boyfriend a defiant punk tantrum, moving from a tightly coiled bassline to a staccato thrash to a driving drumbeat as the vocals take over: "PUNK IS MY BOYFRIEND! PUNK! I DON'T NEED NO MORE FRIENDS!" Snakeskin and Orca winding with animal rules, Snakeskin that of consumption and rebirth, Orca of imprisonment, freedom, self-affirmation. Snakeskin rumbling and stomping, Orca leading with a sinewy guitar line skidding it's way razor-keen across a wavery danceable rhythm, the song building with frustration, repetitions devolving in clarity, rising in fury and feeling: "I DON'T BELONG IN THIS POOL/I BELONG WITH MY PACK/CAPTIVITY'S FOR TEACHING/AND I'M BITING BACK." it screams. "I BELONG IN THE DEEP/I BELONG IN THE DEEP/I BELONG IN THE DEEP". An unstoppable live force, their annihilating fire is here on full display.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Arms Race - Gotta Get Out EP

Meanmugging rough London hardcore bursting with hoarse fury and Oi!-toughened conviction. 6 tracks of storming anger, packed with righteous violence, simplistic solutions for pederast politicians and corrupt cops. Hang the Scum, Kill the Bill, no words minced, just fury in scything guitars, stomps and leers, aggression unbound. Bastard a tear of online alienation, dropping into a muddy half-singsong trudge. Gotta Get Out thumping in like a terrace chant, ripping apart a life with fucked-off spit "HATE MY JOB/HATE MY LIFE", aware of it's own futility but also cognizant of the fact that that doesn't really mean shit when you're living in a blank hole of depression and drudgery, like a half-asphyxiated mutant digging out of the old Animals song. "SAME OLD STORIES YOU'VE ALREADY HEARD/IT'S TIRED, IT'S RECYCLED BUT IT'S FUCKING TRUE." On My Face showing up rage as a wild unhinged form of vulnerability, cos that level of guttural rage comes from a deep dark place, one usually sublimated in the day-to-day mechanics of survival, it gathers together the angers, personal and political and bites them off one by one. "IT'S ONE LAW FOR THEM AND ANOTHER FOR US/AND THERE AIN'T A CUNT ON THE STREETS THAT I CAN TRUST/GIMME A PEOPLE THAT CAN FUCKING FEEL/SHOW A CITY THAT'S FUCKING REAL."

What really pulls the songs here together though is the final track, Mongrel Crew, and its flailing leviathan of a fucking singalong, one of those huge gang-lore screamers that gets right down into your bones with its hooligan bundling, laying waste to the stress and shite drawn on the other songs just through the sheer obliterating power of that punk/hardcore communal violence, packed with self-mythologising, the city geography so loathed on On My Face marked as territory, a couple punk nods to past and present (Conflict's The Ungovernable Force, the band's own label Quality Control). A chorus that makes the personal anguish of Gotta Get Out and On My Face slip away, the societal wrongs-rightings of Hang the Scum and Kill the Bill be just a swing of a fist away, a tangible arm-in-arm possibility. "OI! OI! MONGREL CREW/WE'RE MONGREL ARMY AND WE'RE COMING FOR YOU!" While most of the songs here make you wanna break the world, rearrange it with kicks and glassings, 45 seconds into Mongrel Crew and you fucking can.