10 Bands to See at Download Festival 2017

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We’ve always had a blast at Download Festival and this year’s line-up is stuffed full of treats old and new, along with the chance to join plenty of like-minded folks in raising a pint or two to another sadly departed icon (RIP Mr Cornell!). Main stage headliners System Of A Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith will no doubt draw legions of fans, but there are also plenty of great bands to be found on the smaller stages and in earlier slots. Here we are to shine a light on some the best…

Download 2017 runs from June 9th-11th at Donington Park, Leicestershire. Check downloadfestival.co.uk for more info and tickets.

1. CREEPER (Main Stage, Saturday)

Given that they recently sold out London’s Electric Ballroom, Creeper won’t be skulking in the shadows for much longer, so this could well be your last chance to catch the Southampton horror-punk crew before they leave lunchtime slots in their cold, dark wake. Taking the malevolent rage of prime Misfits, the anthemic choruses of Muse and My Chemical Romance, and a sense of occasion wherever they play, not even bright sunlight can stop this lot. (Ok, that’s enough gothic cheap shots from me). Remember Trivium’s set at Download 2005? Hey, y’never know…

2. FIZZY BLOOD (Dogtooth Stage, Sunday)

Hey, come back, their music’s much better than their name, honest! Seriously though, Fizzy Blood are well worth your time. One minute, they’ll be spooking you with vocalist/guitarist Benji’s cold croon, the next, they’ll be stomping all over your senses with the kind of desert rock riffs that would surely have Josh Homme nodding in approval. Slightly deranged, and all the better for it.

3. VENOM PRISON (Dogtooth Stage, Friday)

Arguably the band most likely to chalk up a score on the Richter Scale, Venom Prison are where doom and death metal collide, and sound gloriously malevolent on the likes of ‘Corrode The Black Sun’. We’ll be watching from the edge with nervous respect.

4. TAX THE HEAT (Zippo Encore Stage, Saturday)

Channelling the kind of blues-infused rock n’ roll that will never go out of style, Bristol quartet Tax The Heat play tight and loud on no-nonsense cuts like ‘Fed To The Lions’ and ‘Learn To Drown (You’re Wrong)’. Just what you’ll need to shift that hangover come Saturday lunchtime.

5. BLOOD YOUTH (Avalanche Stage, Sunday)

Some bands start out as friends having fun together, others are born as musical catharsis for those involved. Blood Youth fall into the latter camp, and the results are as thrilling as they are intense.
Close your eyes whilst listening to ‘Reason To Stay’, and you can imagine vocalist Kaye balancing atop a seething pit, as a packed tent bellow every word of that chorus right back at him. Go make it happen.

6. CODE ORANGE (Avalanche Stage, Friday)

This Pittsburgh quintet bring together elements of straight-up punk rock, metallic hardcore, granite-hewn sludge rock riffs and even melancholic, almost Cure-esque melodies. Recent LP ‘Forever’ was a refreshingly unpolished treat for my stereo, and should sound pretty damn fearsome live.

7. TRASH BOAT (Avalanche Stage, Saturday)

Considering the musical crimes committed in the name of pop-punk over the years, Trash Boat make for a welcome surprise; a young British band injecting fresh vitriol and vitality into the genre. Check out ‘How Selfish I Seem’ and ‘Strangers’, and get ready to whip up a big ol’ dust cloud.

8. LOVE ZOMBIES (Dogtooth Stage, Sunday)

We at Crossfire strongly suspect that Love Zombies are not genuinely undead, not least because it’s hard to imagine a band of zombies playing such colourful punky power-pop. Better scarper after their set, though; you never know when the craving for brains might kick in.

9. KROKODIL (Dogtooth Stage, Friday)

Ah, the vicious beast Krokodil stirs once again, possibly to practice its scales.* Apparently,”mostly beards and riffs” remains their modus operandi, and whilst we can’t (so far) comment on the length or density of the beards, we can assure you that the riffs are as raw, potent and poisonous as ever.

10. AARON BUCHANAN & THE CULT CLASSICS (Dogtooth Stage, Sunday)

Yes, the erstwhile Heaven’s Basement frontman has returned, and he’s armed with a slick but addictive debut album Imagine Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots bonding over some classic Aerosmith, and you’ve got a soundtrack to see out Download 2017 in fine style.

Written by Alex Gosman

*Sorry, that was terrible. Even for me.

Broken Social Scene

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Broken Social Scene
Halfway Home
Arts & Crafts

Marking their first recorded material since 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, the return of Broken Social Scene delivers everything you could ever want from their comeback single and more. An extended choir, a string section that doesn’t just back up the band, but carries them forth to heights otherwise unthinkable, and of course, an outro of rallying horns piping in high and true, a fanfare ringing with sheer joy. The gang’s all here. To miss them at Brixton Academy in May would be lunacy. Get tickets here.

New album ‘Hug Of Thunder’ will be released on July 7th.

The 9 lives of street walking cheetah, Iggy Pop

Ph: Getty / Richard Aaron

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Of the original army of rockers that dominated the sixties and seventies, Iggy Pop was never going to be high on the ‘those destined to make it to old age’ list, yet somehow, here we are today celebrating the Godfather Of Punk’s seventieth birthday. Although Mr Jim Osterberg’s wild stories of excess and destruction are legendary, the original ‘street walking cheetah’ hasn’t used up all of his nine lives yet. He is still performing high-energy rock n’ roll, still hurling himself into the crowd and still creating inspiring music, most recently with Josh Homme on last year’s excellent ‘Post Pop Depression’ album. Happy Birthday Iggy Pop, you freaking legend! There’s plenty of life in this ‘runaway son of a nuclear A Bomb’ yet.

1. This story quoted in Rolling Stone from Iggy’s manager, Danny Fields sums up his desire for living life on a knife edge perfectly from an encounter at the Whisky in LA:

“It was a very star-studded, Jack-and-Anjelica-and-Warren night. He was waiting for his dealer, to cop, intent on getting his shot of heroin before he went on. But he had no money. So he went to the VIP booths one at a time and explained the situation. He said, ‘Look, you’re here to see me, and I can’t go on until my dealer is here, and he’s waiting to be paid, so give me some money so I can fix up, and then you’ll get your show.’ He got more than enough money. He stood off to the side and shot up. The lights went down, the music went up, he stood onstage and collapsed. Without a note being sung. He’d OD’d in front of everyone. And had to be carried off. I think that was one of his greatest shows ever,” says Fields. “It was so minimally perfect. It just says a very great deal.”

2. Self-mutilation became Iggy’s favourite entertainment for crowds during his live shows after he once fell on a broken glass accidentally on August 29th, 1969. This unfortunate incident excited fans at the time so Pop decided that self-harming would be part of his stage show. Whether it was with knives, drumsticks or broken bottles he managed to let the blood flow for psycho-dramatical effect sharing his fluids with anyone who would watch him. He also found a love for puking all over people and himself on stage, inspiring the punk scene in the 70s that followed his gross, drug-fueled antics. Roadies were always worried he would end up slashing a vein in the wrong place as he writhed across shards of broken glass covering the stage but it didn’t stop him. It was common practice for Iggy to crawl off stage covered in blood, spit, booze and sweat, heading for the accident room to cut out the shards that were left in his skin.

3. Amongst the speed, coke, heroin, LSD, downers and uppers available, Iggy once attended a music festival in Goose Lake, Michigan where, “I was snorting something they said was coke but I learned later was ketamine. I couldn’t remember who I was for about 12 hours.”

4. Iggy was punched out cold in a bar by Detroit bikers in February 1974 who were incensed by his Danskin ballet outfit and big mouth so Iggy offered out the local chapter for a fight over radio airwaves at the final Stooges gig at Michigan Palace. The band were pelted with pieces of ice, eggs and beer bottles in response to Iggy’s audience baiting. You can hear the glass smashing against the stage on the infamous Metallic K.O. bootleg.

Ph: Guitarist Ron Asheton whipped Iggy on stage with electric wire and accosted him with a noose that Iggy made for this show. August 11th 1974. Getty / Michael Ochs.

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5. Iggy once found himself tucking into some prostitutes in the Mondrian Hotel in 1974 enjoying a jar full of exceptionally fine coke. When the stash ran out, Pop and one of the girls drove off to an apartment to score more when a gang suddenly burst into the room with loaded guns shouting, “everybody freeze!” Iggy then found a barrel pointed at his temple until they realised who he was and let them both go. Another lucky escape.

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6. Iggy’s maniacal stage performances had impressed a famous Ford Agency model named Bebe Buell who was the girlfriend of musician Todd Rundgren. Around the release of Raw Power, Iggy found himself asleep on valium in their bath as it overflowed into the rooms downstairs. On inspection, Iggy was found with Bebe’s two dogs cuddled into his shoulders. He had fed them both valium too. All three of them survived drowning.

7. In a desperate attempt to get off heroin, Iggy’s parents helped him switch over to a form of methadone called Dolophine. Following a relapse one afternoon, Iggy was chased by cops whilst driving for over 7 blocks before crashing his car directly into a tree whilst traveling down a one way street the wrong way. When the cops busted him he fell out of the car door and was taken to hospital and tested. There was so much cocaine in his system that it had cancelled out the alcohol and didn’t register him being over the legal limit.

Ph: Getty / Michael Ochs

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8. Iggy once avoided death by gas explosion once after quite an impressive incident found by Danny Sugarman, as quoted in his book Wonderland Avenue:

“After we scored, we hurried to Wonderland. That’s when we found Iggy. Actually, we saw the mess first. We couldn’t have missed it if our eyes had been closed: we would have smelled it, we would have stepped in it. It began at the front door and continued down the hall: chicken bones, egg shells and crayons. The volume of garbage increased as we neared the kitchen. Crusts of wholewheat bread, Saran wrap out of the box unrolled across the floor, coming to rest at a broken mayonnaise jar, more broken eggs. The refrigerator was face-down against the bar counter, contents spilling and dripping out. The toaster was flipped over and open and there were three burnt slices of toast, cold, inside. The oven door was open and on top, all four pilot lights were out. Nothing was lit. The house reeked of gas. Had we decided at that moment that we wanted a cigarette and lit a match, we would have created a crater on Wonderland Avenue. And there on the floor, not more than six inches away from a broken jar of Skippy crunchy peanut butter, face down and bare-ass naked, lay my hero and friend. Iggy had pulled similar Cat in the Hat type stunts before, but never this severe.”

9. Just this week Iggy Pop was the victim of an internet death hoax. “On Thursday (April 20th, 2017) the singer’s reps officially confirmed that Iggy Pop is not dead. He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax. He’s still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the internet,” they said. To be fair, this is of the less dangerous threats to Iggy’s life. But he still survived.

Raise a glass to one of the remaining legends in the rock n’roll game on his 70th birthday. The music scene today and everything in between that is savage would not have been the same without his influence.

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Tips:

Watch the documentary Danny Says. It’s an amazing story where Iggy’s early career in the Stooges features heavily.

Pick up the book, Total Chaos by Jeff Gold book. Highly recommended.

Read Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugarman, it’s an incredible story of his life around the carnage of Iggy and LA rock stars in the 70s.

Iron Reagan

Iron Reagan
‘Crossover Ministry’

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While I’d been hearing the name banded around for a while previous, I first saw Iron Reagan at Mighty Sounds Festival in the Czech Republic in 2015. Amongst a bill which clung loosely to the totem of ‘punk and ska’ – an umbrella which encompassed the likes of Babylon-hunters the Cockney Rejects and laid back modern reggae and weed enthusiasts Dub Inc., NYHC veterans Sick of it All and whining fringe themed angst-peddlers Funeral for a Friend, OG ska innovator Derrick Morgan and Keith Morris rage valve side project OFF – they stood out over the majority of others we bore witness too.

This is undoubtedly due in part to vocalist Tony Foresta, who divides his time between Iron Reagan and thrash veterans Municipal Waste. Alongside having a solid dose of the stage presence necessary to make the crowd pay attention, he also comes across as a massive music nerd who genuinely loves the music he both builds on and pays homage too. This is something bought to the fore with Iron Reagan; while Municipal Waste bring more intricate song structures and guitar solos into every subsequent release, this project harks back to the D.R.I./The Accused worship of early Waste in the form of lo-fi, straight up headbangers. Their live appeal is also due in no small part to the tightness of the rest of the band, with a musical pedigree ranging from skate-thrashers A.N.S. to Cannabis Corpse.

This thankfully translates just as well to record – from the shouted chorus, murky production and breakneck speed of opener ‘A Dying World’ you know exactly where you stand, which is in about 1987, in the pit, spilling beer all over yourself. From then on it’s a full throttle onslaught of sound, with songs rarely breaking the two minute mark. ‘Dead With My Friends’ is by far the longest at nearly four minutes, but slots in perfectly as a chance for the band to demonstrate just how gut-crushingly heavy they can get. Follow up ‘No Sell’ makes up for such thrash sacrilege by lasting for a grand total of 14 seconds.

I feel like an album can be done a disservice by not picking out too many high points, but to be honest this one is a solid dose of carnage from start to finish. ‘Fuck The Neighbours’ is obviously destined to be a live classic, an obnoxiously enjoyable, 80s frat film-channelling slice of metal of the variety rarely seen this side of 1990. Title track ‘Crossover Ministry’ stands out by dint of the solid groove which it suddenly falls into in the midst of the chaos, reminding you of the band’s wider musical pedigree. Elsewhere, the maelstrom draws you into its centre and gives your aural cavities a serious seeing too. The final test of an album of this sort is, obviously, does it work as a suitable shot of adrenalin to make me want to go out skateboarding – a fairly irrefutable test, with the clear exemption of skateboard hating thrash luminaries Lunatics Without Skateboards. The answer? Too fucking right it does!

Jono Coote

Buzzbombs – 11 tunes that are on our stereo

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HCBP – The Patriot (s/r)

May as well kick this off with a bang. Matt Reynolds and Tom Marsh from Heck (formerly Baby Godzilla) started a side project that absolutely rips. This first thunderous slice of stoner wizardry paints a very fuzzy and dirty world that we are intrigued to find much more about. Turn it up to 11 and jump around your living room.

Brad Pot – Air Strike – Slovenly Records

If you’ve not come across Melbourne garage-punkers Brad Pot yet then here’s a taste of what opens their new LP. Sneering, gritty punk rock with a subtle stench.

Career Suicide – Machine Response – Static Shock

Toronto’s rip roaring punk’s Career Suicide, who have never put out a duff release, are back with another totally in-your-face, razor sharp slice of spitting and sneering hardcore in full length format. Don’t you dare miss this.

Pissing Match – Break The Seal – Feral Kid Records

The Dead Kennedys once said “I Like Short Songs” and with hardcore, you can’t really go wrong. This album in particular is all over in 5 mins. Fill your brains with some Pissing Match and then go shred a bowl.

Pissed Jeans – The Bar Is Low – Sub Pop

Pissed Jeans getting fit-as-fuck is a pleasure to watch. Pick up their new album, Why Love Now on Sub Pop for another classic dose of raging punk rock from this lot. It’s not their best release but you will certainly hear more melodies than usual.

All Them Witches – Internet – New West Records

Let’s take this down a level and appreciate some serious jamming. This lot take blues in its traditional form and spit it back at you with desert dust and marshmallows roasted on open fires. A proper musicians band for real music fans. This is lifted from their new album, Sleeping Through The War of which will suck you in and leave you wanting to move that needle straight back into the first groove. Pick it up on vinyl for the best results.

Part Chimp – MapoLeon – Rock Action Records

Part Chimp are back after eight (!) years’ gestation. They found the artwork to their new album in a bin, but that’s fine, ‘MapoLeon’ will knock your sonic socks clean off with its potent riff that, in an altered state, could well sound like Big Business covering ‘Molly’s Chambers’. Don’t miss what’s sure to be a release show of beyond earth-shaking volume levels at London’s 100 Club on April 28th.

Japandroids – No Known Drink Or Drug – Anti

How do you follow up an album like Celebration Rock? Write another one in exactly the same totally anthemic, uplifting, heart-breaking, heart-warming, inspiring, tear-inducing, fist clenching, scream-along-and-blow-your-voice-out vein, that’s how! Shepherds Bush Empire, May 6th. You’d be insane not to be there.

Gentle Woman, Ruby Man – Everybody Loves The Sunshine – Glassnote

Some would say that to mess with the work of Roy is blasphemous and perverse, but White & Morrissey’s take is as close to the original as you could get and all the better for that. See this band live at any opportunity and look out for their guitar player’s remarkable stage antics.

The Courtneys – Minnesota – Flying Nun

The Courtneys’ self-titled debut was a cult classic. Ever understated but massively anthemic, restrained but similarly gung-ho, new album ‘II’ confirms their dreamy, fuzzy, garage pop remains irresistible.

Duke Garwood – ‘Sal’s Paradise’ – Heavenly

Duke Garwood’s enchanting take on the blues arrives even further refined, minimal and mesmerising on new album ‘Garden Of Ashes’. But tunnel further underground to ‘Sal’s Paradise’, the B-side matching new single ‘Cold Blooded’, and revel in the dimly lit, swampy echoes. The simplicity here is wonderful.

Crossfire Albums of the Year 2016

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CLAIRE ALLEAUME

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)
2. Logan Richardson – Shift (Blue Note Records)
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd)
4. Plague Vendor – Blood Sweat (Epitaph Records)
5. David Bowie – Black Star (Columbia Records)
6. Theo Croker – Escape Velocity (Okeh Records)
7. Lambchop – FLOTUS (City Slang / Merge)
8. Júníus Meyvant – Floating Harmonies (Record Records)
9. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Columbia Records)
10. PUP – The Dream is Over (Royal Mountain Records)

Honourable mentions: De La Soul, The Coathangers, Paul Simon

Song of the year: Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting

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JONO COOTE

1. Minneapolis Uranium Club – Human Exploration (Static Shock Records)
2. Serious Sam Barrett – Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose (Yadig? Records)
3. Dinosaur Jr – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar)
4. Sheer Mag – III (Static Shock Records)
5. Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph Records)
6. Clean Shirts – Marginal (Kids of the Lughole)
7. Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits (Castle Face Records)
8. Skiplickers – Skiplickers (Kids of the Lughole)
9. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic Records)
10. Anxiety – S/T (La Vida es un Mus)

Song of the year: Serious Sam Barrett – ‘Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose’

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HENRY CALVERT

1. King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – Nonagon Infinity (ATO Records)
2. DIIV – Is There Is Are (Captured Tracks)
3. Savages – Adore Life (Matador Records)
4. Fat White Family – Songs for our mothers (Fat Possum Records)
5. Bad Breeding – Bad Breed (S/R)
6. Jamie T – Trick (Virgin EMI Records)
7. YAK – Alas Salvation (Octopus Electrical)
8. Honeyblood – Babes Never Die (FatCat Records)
9. Eagulls – Ullages (Partisan Records)
10. The Wytches – All Your Happy Life (Dine Alone Music Inc.)

Honourable Mentions: Strange Bones, Sleaford Mods, Parquet Courts, Pink Kink.

Song of the year:
Cabbage – Uber Capitalist Death Trade

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JAMES SHERRY

1. Poison Idea – Calling All Ghosts (American Leather Records)
2. Ruts DC – Music Must Destroy (Westworld)
3. Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exists (Castle Face Records)
4. David Bowie – Blackstar (Columbia Records)
5. Bad Breeding – ST (s/r)
6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (Heavenly Recordings)
7. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista Recordings)
8. The Minneapolis Uranium Club – All Of Them Naturals (Static Shock Records)
9. Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)
10. Wire – Nocturnal Koreans (Pink Flag)

Song of the year: Ruts DC – Psychic Attack

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DAVE PALMER

1. Diiv – Is The Is Are (Captured Tracks)
2. Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)
3. Goon – Dusk Of Punk (s/r)
4. Kikagaku Moyo – House In The Tall Grass (Gurugurubrain)
5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (Heavenly)
6. The Skiffle Players – Skifflin’ (Spiritual Pajamas)
7. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
8. Swans – The Glowing Man (Young God)
9. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love (Anti)
10. Steve Gunn – Eyes On The Lines (Matador)

Honourable mentions: William Tyler, Wrong, White Lung, Nails, Jambinai, Blown Out, Arabrot, Alex Cameron

Song of the year: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

king_gizzardKing Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
‘Rattlesnake’
Heavenly Recordings

It’s no question that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the crowned kings of contemporary psychedelic rock in 2016. With nine full-length albums released in only four years, their ethos and work ethic is both inspiring and immensely admirable. However, today they surpass all expectations with the news that they will not only be releasing their tenth album, the wonderfully titled ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’, in 2017 but also FOUR other records. In ONE year.

Let that sink in whilst first cut ‘Rattlesnake’ slithers into your ear canals. This can only be one of two things, suicide or pure genius.

Pre-order Flying Microtonal Banana here – http://heavenlyemporium.com/buy/flying-microtonal-banana/

Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains

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How low can a punk get? It obviously depends of course on state of mind, drug use, religious beliefs and fame and fortune to start with, but let’s digress for a second and introduce H.R to those who may not know him. Paul “H.R.” Hudson, aka Joseph I, is the unique frontman of the legendary and explosive hardcore band, Bad Brains, whose rise to fame in the 1980s saw them travel the world to perform their bone crunching music to thousands. H.R’s presence on stage is unforgettable. Whether he is screaming from the bottom of his soul to thrashing 200mph riffs or singing sweet dulcet Rastafarian tones over dope basslines, this enigma was born to emit electrifying energy to others that can be deeply infectious. Only a chosen few can say that they fronted arguably, the best live punk rock band of all time.

I’m slightly biased here, as my 16 year old self decided to travel to the Marquee Club on Tottenham Court Rd in London back in 1989 to see them play on the ‘Quickness’ Tour. Bad Brains were the first legit hardcore band I had ever witnessed play live and their sheer sonic force and insane energy just ripped the place apart. Bodies flew off the stage all night long, beer was thrown everywhere, H.R was backflipping – someone even dived off the balcony. I had discovered hardcore from the kings of the scene, directly from the inner sanctum, instantly inspiring me to form my own band. They were that influential.

As Bad Brains grew in popularity, H.R’s erratic behaviour rose with it causing chaos within the band’s touring and recording schedule but his character was so compelling that his actions were not seen to be anything other than avant-garde to some. It took a while for those close to him to realise that maybe his abnormal social behaviour was actually out of his control and caused by a legitimate illness such as schizophrenia. This is the subject that forms the basis of this amazing documentary made by director James Lathos. As a lifelong Bad Brains fan, Lathos spent a lot of time with H.R in the US and Jamaica over the space of 10 years and decided to piece together this documentary without any prior experience of film making. A task that on reflection is an accolade in itself as his work sucks you in and turns you upside down revealing a detailed and personal inside view of the band’s struggle to keep their frontman focused throughout serious illness.

The film takes you through the early years of the Hudson family and their movements around the world from birth in Liverpool, England to Kingston, Jamaica, leading to various locations across America to their home in Washington DC, where the two Hudson brothers, Earl and Paul would meet guitarist Gary Miller (aka Dr Know) and bassist Darryl Jennifer. Strangely, both band members decided not to contribute to the documentary at all, leaving the sound bites to Earl Hudson, Bad Brains’ manager Anthony Countey, Positive Force founder Mark Andersen, Dischord’s Ian MacKaye, various members of Sublime, 311, Living Colour, Fishbone and many others, but for once, no Henry Rollins or Dave Grohl! In fact many key hardcore luminaries who we thought would be present in this flick discussing the good old days were not present.

In reflection though, Lathos’ followed H.R’s journey as a solo singer in the many collaborations and reggae projects that he formed around the US that toured Europe during the late 1980s and 90s. A mission that wasn’t all about survival, but a quest to find inner peace and happiness through leaving behind the somewhat negative, in-your-face force that punk rock is famed for. H.R struggled with this aggression and much preferred the more heartfelt, soulful Rasta vibes of reggae and dub leading him on various paths to write music with many other musicians within the genre.

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The director depicts H.R as a Shaman who drifted in search of new musical directions without managing to pay a single electric bill in his life. A deeply religious man who only needed a bed and bible but whose illness eventually lead him to homelessness. Sadly, his schizophrenia became so unbearable that one questioned whether he knew if he was actually on stage performing or not. Lathos’ goes deep into the dark side of the singer’s mental instability in true documentary form making uncomfortable viewing with H.Rs personal archive of self filmed footage confirming that he was stuck in his own hallucinogenic world. But from the depths of despair there is always light and the scene that explains the purchase of a white limousine, his wonderfully bizarre outfits and that unforgettable grin are quick to soften the blow!

From the incredible unseen live footage to learning how H.R invented the word ‘mosh’ from his Jamaican patois chants, ‘Finding Joseph I’ takes you on an inside journey through the success and turmoil of H.R and Bad Brains confirming why they’re included for induction into the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For a debut production in the world of music documentaries, Lathos’ film will go down as one of the best you will see within the hardcore scene. I literally cannot believe we managed to see the very first screening that H.R himself has not even seen yet, so thank you Doc’n Roll Film Festival for the opportunity. Apparently there was so much archive interview footage that a book will also be published next January, but as the director mentioned on the night at the Q&A, it’s too early to tell what Small Axe Films will be doing in terms of releasing it online or on DVD yet but it will happen. For now, watch the trailer and get yourself some PMA.

Words: Zac
Photo: Zac (Unseen photo of HR backstage at the Astoria, London 2007)

Buzzbombs – 12 rad new tunes on tap

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Uranium Club – ‘Who Made the Man’ – Static Shock

Minneapolis-based punkers Uranium Club are in the UK this weekend to play the Static Shock Festival in London, not one to miss. These guys have an addictive, garage rock strut that is utterly infectious. Check out their ‘Human Exploration’ album out on Static Shock Records, and this, their new single ‘Who Made The Man’.

Flasher – s/t – Sister Polygon

Hailing from Washington D.C, Flasher’s lo-fi post-punk squall sounds like all your favourite bands bungled into one in the best possible way. The momentum of Moore & Ranaldo, Kim Deal’s thunderous tones, they’re all here. Stream their debut self-titled EP now and pray for UK shows.

GANG – ‘Dead’ – Ra-Ra Rok

Since we first met Brighton’s DIY trio GANG last year they’ve remained our absolute fav’s. The tangle of fuzz, sludge and psychedelic dirge they create is akin to no other. New single ‘Dead’ comes inspired by the grim epiphany that we are all, in fact, dying right now. And to match, their new video takes these grave themes to Wicker Man-levels of creepy. Grab the new single from Ra-Ra Rok as of November 25th and catch them gigging with WAND this weekend.

Wovoka Gentle – ‘All Exterior Dark’ – Yucatan Records

Wovoka Gentle’s new EP Red is nothing short of enchanting. Recalling the more poignant moments of Animal Collective or even Alt-J’s debut album, it’s a wonderful journey through atmospheric electronic realms that gently grips and entices. ‘All Exterior Dark’ is the perfect introduction.

Our Girl – ‘No Big Deal’ – Cannibal Hymns

Our Girl are leaving audiences in London and Brighton stunned with their dynamic and powerful live shows. A three-piece capable of jumping from whisper to wall-of-sound in an instant, their debut EP Normally is a triumph in song writing. Pick one up from Cannibal Hymns as of November 18th and listen to ‘No Big Deal’ right now. Then listen to it again!

Purling Hiss – ‘Follow You Around’ – Drag City

Yet again, Mike Polizze has delivered an absolute lesson in crafting the kind of subtle ear worms that plague your mind for days afterwards. The new Purling Hiss album High Bias is garage rock distilled. Jump from the towering riffs of ‘3000 AD’ into the thrashing ‘Notion Sickness’, and ride off into the sunset on ‘Follow You Around’. Out now on Drag City, you know what to do – http://www.dragcity.com/products/high-bias.

Run The Jewels – ‘Talk To Me’

Why does this new tune stop at 2.46? I wanted it to roll forever. New RTJ 3 incoming. Nothing more to add than go smash your room up.

Vanishing Life – ‘Thinking Is Weightless’ – (Dine Alone Records)

Whether you like the term ‘super group’ or not, you’d be foolish to ignore Vanishing Life with the pedigree of hardcore experience in the ranks. Walter from Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits has temed up with members of Trail of Dead, Bad Religion and Rise Against for an album that blows most current rock bands out of the water.

Code Orange – ‘Forever’ – Roadrunner

Things can only get heavier. And this week the words ‘new Code Orange’ cement that statement true and clear. Forthcoming Roadrunner LP Forever was joint-produced by Will Yip and Kurt Ballou – need we say more? This album is going to be utterly crushing.

Concealed Blade – Demo – S/R

Concealed Blade are an American hardcore band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania whose 2015 demo found its way into our ears this week and totally ripped them off. This is as raw and raging as anything that emerged from the golden age of early 80s USHC and essential listening. If you like that kind of thing of course.

Marching Church – ‘Lions Den’ – Sacred Bones

Marching Church twist and contort their post-punk heritage into something that sounds both fresh and retrospective. Swaying, swaggering and sensual, ‘Lion’s Den’s woozy atmospherics tap straight into that golden zone of being flawlessly tight and on the brink of collapse all at once. You’d be mad to pass on their upcoming gigs this month.

Shame – ‘The Lick’ – s/r

Shame have spent the past year establishing themselves as an unstoppable live band. And the fact that the five-piece have booked THREE different shows in ONE night to launch their new single is testament to that. ‘The Lick’ arrives angry, energised and doused in the spittle of Mark E. Smith. See them live in Soho, Hoxton & Peckham on December 8th for three consecutive sets of what promise to be utter carnage.

The Sea Nymphs

Sea Nymphs
‘On Dry Land’
Alphabet Business Concern

sea_nymphs_dry_coverFrom the ground and in the air…everything is easy.

Well not exactly. Some things are downright tricky, and it’s fair to say that Sea Nymphs’ second album has made its way into existence via a somewhat tortuous but nonetheless rewarding route.

Sea Nymphs were/are an offshoot of the wondrous and sometimes baffling punk/pop/prog/kitchen-sink band Cardiacs. The world of Cardiacs can, to the outsider, seem a little daunting. The in-joke chanting at gigs, the symbolism, the ever so slightly intimidating stage presence; it can all be like being presented with a cult to the uninitiated. Then, there’s the music. First impressions can lead to the conclusion that it barely makes sense. There are ridiculous time changes and key changes, wonky little fiddly bits and heaps of ungodly noise. After a little time and immersion something will click and everything becomes blindingly clear or a strong antipathy will arise. It’s a love/hate thing, there is no middle ground.

Except, maybe there is, the works of Tim Smith were not merely confined to Cardiacs output. There was his wonderful solo album Oceanlandworld, and then there was The Sea Nymphs, a project with Cardiacs cohorts William D Drake and Sarah Smith. Whilst there could be some delightfully gentle and beautiful moments in Cardiacs songs, they’d usually be surrounded by carefully crafted chaos (if such a thing can actually exist). Sea Nymphs comes from a different place altogether. The Big Ship might have been sailing on the high seas where the wind and rains is cold, but under the surface, in the depths, there was something far more quaint occurring.

The original Sea Nymphs album appeared back in 1992 and the trio created a series of creaky yet catchy shanties that were far more delicate than perhaps might have been expected. For those put off by Cardiacs’ usual output, Sea Nymphs offered a new way into their world. Drawing on folk and pastoral classical music, Sea Nymphs were still a strange proposition, but they were dreamy, sprite like and utterly charming.

the-sea-nymphs_press

Their second album had been recorded around the same time as the first, but for some reason best known to themselves it has taken until now to see the light of day. Its appearance now is worthy of celebration. Firstly, it is always a pleasure to hear new material from any Cardiacs related project. Secondly, it sees the return of Tim Smith to the creative arena since becoming unwell in 2008. Over the last year he has taken to the studio in order to add the finishing touches to the album, and the notion of his return to music in any form is something to be cherished.

As might be expected, this album occupies a similar sonic space to its predecessor. Whilst the title suggests that the band is resting their seafaring legs for a while, the call of the sea is strong and there is still that strange sense of oceanic depth and mystery that pervades almost every song.
The opening seconds of After set the tone for what is to come. Sarah’s altered vocals hang spirit like, fading in and out over delicate tinkling chimes. It’s almost impossible to grasp such is its barely there nature. Eating A Heart Out is a little easier to grasp, but retains a soft-focus feel. Like a naïve nursery rhyme, there’s a beguiling innocence to it that would break the heart of even the sturdiest (which would make it easier to eat). Big River, effectively an acoustic guitar and vocal performance from Tim is more straightforward, it’s a stark reminder of his ability to draw emotion from even the sparsest arrangements. Sea Snake Beware meanwhile finds William D Drake taking the lead with his piano and vocals and it sounds very much like his own solo work: dainty, precise, and surprisingly complex by the close.

The first four songs might represent the individuals and their nuances, but Sea Nymphs most definitely operate as a band within the band as can be seen on the likes of the jaunty folk of Cut Yourself Kidding or the sci-fi tinged meanderings of Bye Bye Spirit. It’s on The Black Blooded Clam that things really come together however. Its chaotic structure, classical motifs, and slanted whimsy are absolutely perfect. Sounding like a scuttling mouse trapped within a wicker man, there’s a slightly sinister side to it.

As the album draws to a close, there are a couple of songs that might have found their way onto a Cardiacs album. That’s not to say that they don’t fit into the Sea Nymphs’ ethereal oeuvre, but it’s possible to imagine The Sea Ritual finding its way onto On Land In The Sea as elements of it sound not unlike The Everso Closely Guarded Line. Similarly,Liberated And Handsome’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it interjection could easily have nestled in the behemoth that was Sing To God.

This then is a welcome return to the vaults and an absolute gem of a record whose depths and delights deserve to be heard. It is encouraging to see the wheels turning in the Cardiacs camp again.

Sam Shepherd