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Egyptian Blue - ‘Salt’ (Single Review)

It's amazing what our brain's chemical makeup can do to us and for us. The imbalance, the fluctuations, the abundance or lack thereof can determine how we feel and perceive the world and our environment.  There will always be conflict and there will always be tension - great motivators for creating art and music. Maynard James Keenan quipped that "somewhere along the way, I found it in myself a desire - a calling - to embrace friction, tension, transitions, changes and to work with them. Life is change. Life is friction". Our collective consciousness has endured too much friction and tension over the past two years. It's been unwavering, and it's been suffocating, and not the sex kind either. Fueled by the ongoing discord of our times, Brighton, UK's Egyptian Blue have channeled that energy into the post-punk sonic assaults they are known for. The sneak preview for an impending debut album in early 2022 is titled 'Salt'. In the food sciences, salt is known for helping food taste more like itself. As such, the Brighton quartet have all the ingredients leading up to this point - the tension, the drive, and subsequent energy to produce a track for the times, and the best of themselves. The boys added their own salt, their tension and evolution from previous releases, to stranglehold your eardrums in attempt to relate. In the first second, the clanging of open hi-hats introduce the conflict at hand. Then rippling, delayed guitars and a cocaine-assisted, drumming death march enters to reset your circadian rhythm. But to allow singer Andy Buss' expression of constant social anxieties, the backing guitars are reminiscent of The Strokes, as if Omar Rodríguez-López conducted a writing session.  The duo of guitars are in no need of distortion, because the higher pitched chords are attacked, staccato without sustain, by fingers consistently pressing and releasing milliseconds apart amplifying said tension. Egyptian Blue hammer out the lead single for their debut album with aggression emulsifying through a wincing microphone and strained amps. If there's any chance Andy might be Joe Strummer's lost and forgotten son, at least he would make the man proud. Fingers crossed for a promising future for these boys of Brighton.  9 / 10 Follow Johnno on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/johnno.johnno/

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The Sellwoods - Two Stroke Smoke! EP

Portland-based garage-punk band The Sellwoods unleashed their much anticipated Two Smoke Stroke EP, via Spanish label Chaputa Records in February. Lucky for me I managed to get my mitts on the limited edition obstreperous orange vinyl which included a free fridge magnet - what more could a girl ask for?

The band have been around since 2011, and I discovered them quite by accident a couple of years ago, whilst perusing Facebook for some garage-punk action (as one does). The thing that first attracted me to this bonkers bunch was their obvious love for having fun with what they do, and adopting ‘60s kitsch in the form of drag-racing model kits, artwork along the line of Ed Roth, Horror, the striped t-shirts, the German helmets and iron crosses, bandit masks -  all things synonymous with ‘60s trashy counterculture and more recently bands of their ilk such as The Mummies, Thee Mighty Caesars and the budget rock end of garage-punk. So basically ticking all the boxes for me, and then some! On the top of my must see list for sure.

To the music. Guitarist Blind Baron delivers fuzz by the dumpster load whilst The Baroness and The Count provide tumultuous thumping from the rhythm section, complimented by Miss Kitka who kreates kooky key-work straight outta the ‘60s horror sitcom TV theme tune book.

Both ‘Two Stroke Smoke’ and ‘Want Me’ are a girl/boy efforts vocals-wise - both full of don’t give a toot attitude; he’s been left by his baby, she’s riding into the distance on her two stroke - and boy is she angry (of Collins Kids ‘Whistle Bait’ proportions). The latter (their version of The Night Crawlers‘ ’66 fuzz-and-shout monster) with it’s repetitive riff, proves yet again that simplicity is the most effective weapon. ‘No More’ brings a more ‘70s tinged punk flavour, and my favourite ‘Kimchi’ = Girls In The Garage at it’s trashiest best (trashi-best!).  

Do yourself a favour and go check out their back catalogue if you haven’t already. All deets available through their Facebook page and the EP is available via Chaputa Records who incidentally have other fab releases, so go take a peek.

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Thee Girl Fridays - The Love Witch EP

First off I'll start by declaring my interest as a friend of the band.

Secondly it's good to see a cover design which ably fits the bill has finally been agreed upon. But what about the contents of the sleeve?

Garage punk may not flow through the veins of the entire quartet equally but as a unit they've been a welcome feature on the Edinburgh scene (and further afield) since their inception. The Love Witch EP is therefore a deserved result of the hours put into practising, driving up and down the UK to perform, organising their own shows, networking & publicity and generally doing all that DIY entails.

Producer & all round nice bloke Angus McPake has crafted a fully authentic sound on the three songs (all blessedly originals), particularly the A side, an homage to the 2016 film of the same name by Anna Biller.  

A first, physical release is always a great step for any band but, having observed first hand the efforts made along Thee Girl Fridays' collective journey to this point in their career, it's very pleasing to see that they've made it to this point.

The Love Witch EP is available to buy from Spinout Nuggets here.

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Ho99o9 - Cyber Cop EP

It’s a Christmas miracle. An unannounced and unexpected seven-track mini album from New Jersey agitators, Ho99o9. Last year’s debut album, United States Of Horror, introduced their mix of hardcore punk, hip hop and noise to the world. Having seen them at close quarters, I can safely say they are one of the most visually and viscerally arresting bands you’ll ever see.

2018 saw them collaborating with 3teeth and The Prodigy. They are particularly suited to the latter. TheOGM’s vocal style has much in common with Keith Flint and Liam Howlett’s production suits the Ho99o9 sound. Like The Prodigy, Ho99o9 have been embraced by rock fans. They’ve played the Earache stages at Glastonbury and Boomtown, as well as the Download festival amid the more traditional Monsters Of Rock.

Cyber Cop is a concept album of sorts, with song titles like ‘Is It Safe To Internet?’ and ‘Internet Thuggin’. It’s a digital release, naturally, so in the absence of a physical cover there is an accompanying ‘zine with liner notes, lyrics and punk style collage art. It’s well worth a look if you’re a fan of Winston Smith’s Dead Kennedys covers.

The music itself is exactly what you would expect from Ho99o9; a mix of hardcore (‘Is It Safe To Internet?’/ ‘Leader Of Pain’), hip hop (‘Mega City Nine’/ ‘Delete My Browser History’) and weirdass electro punk, (‘Forest Fires’/ ‘Punk Police’). Yeti Bones and TheOGM work with different producers on each track and it makes Cyber Cop a varied and engaging listen. N8n0face makes a stunning impact on ‘Punk Police’, raging against punk gatekeepers; “so many rules to follow/that shit don’t sound very punk”.

The short format also means the repeat button gets pressed a lot, which is a good sign for any record. Over the course of the EP, there are nods to Boo Yaa Tribe, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Slipknot, Dalek and others, but mostly it’s the pure sound of Ho99o9. With so many punk bands, new and old, retreading old formulae, Ho99o9 are a reminder of what punk should be. Cyber Cop is collaborative and inclusive. It’s got guitars and drums but also keyboards and samplers. It’s abrasive and staccato but it can also groove. It’s full of aggressive noise but the real tension stalks its moments of silence. The only limit to music is imagination and this band haven’t yet found the limits of theirs.

Cyber Cop is available here. 

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The Dirty Contacts - The World's End

Hastings five-piece The Dirty Contacts (a dirty contact being an electrical term I am told) roll out their debut single on thee prestigious State Records label, recorded and produced by maestro Mole, and mixed by Jim Riley at Ranscombe Studios no less.

You may recognise drummer Mr. Greensmith from his most excellent recent appearance with The Nuevo Ramon Five (for those of you lucky enough to catch them at Beatwave this summer). There's also an ex-Cannibal in the mix - bassist Mr. Forrester and Sinelabs/Fratcave/Beatwave and self confessed Robo-man, Mr. Ellis on keys. Will all this name dropping ever end I hear you say? And do these tracks live up to such exalted credentials? In a word, yes!

Title track ‘World's End’, for those of a churlish disposition, could be assumed to refer to living in Hastings, and indeed the cover art depicts a scene of the pier on fire. Frosty The Fuzzman does not restrain himself in unleashing the fuzz; cutting like a buzzsaw, it’s heavy, scuzzy, almost grungy, and it screams, crackles and pops like a bowl of apocalyptic Rice Krispies* whilst Mr. Rees has his wailing down pat to compliment this. I admire (very much) a band who are not afraid to go into the red.

It’s worth a mention that these tracks were both recorded live to 8 track - and it shows - the sound production is second to none. The whole composition feels like it's being pushed to it's very limits. In short, it's ordered chaos, contained madness and it’s also quite different from what I expected. This isn't your standard garage-by-numbers offering (and for that reason it's a little lost on me), which doesn't mean to say that it's not an outstanding track for all of the above reasons and in and of itself.

On the B side you'll find a cover of the Billy Childish penned ‘When You Stop Loving Me’ (oh, that riff). But why a cover? TDC are clearly more than capable of writing their own stuff. It's brave to take on Childish - the Medway god of garage punk himself. However, they nail it good and proper (I almost want to say exceed the original, but can’t bring myself to do it!). The organ adds another dimension to the overall sound, which the original lacks, and brings us back into more familiar territory (and 3,2,1 I'm back in my wee garage comfort zone). So if the title track is a little too off piste for your tastes, the flip side is definitely worth the purchase alone.

 

*did I really say that?

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The Winachi Tribe - Transition

 

I’m heading off to Derbyshire this weekend for Bearded Theory and one of the things I am most looking forward to is seeing Winachi Tribe live for the first time. Having followed the band for a few years now, this new single is a great appetiser for the full show. It’s impossible to talk about the Winachis without mentioning Sly Stone, Black Grape and Grandmaster Flash. Similarly, it’s hard to hear the band without being reminded of the aforementioned bands.

The Manchester dance vibe is strong with them. Ian Brown prompted them to choose the name of the group and Brown’s percussionist Inder Goldfinger is a central member of the Tribe. Like Brown’s solo work, The Winachi Tribe mix funk guitars and ‘90s synths with irresistible grooves. ‘Transition’ is exactly what you would expect from the band based on their track record. They haven’t let their time in Hollywood effect the music either. The production on ‘Transition’ sounds like a step up from previous recordings but they recorded it themselves.

Winachi Tribe sound like a sister group to our Blogtober headliners, Makings. The combination of intelligent lyrics and infectious beats make for a heady buzz. Liam Croker’s lyrics are singable but original; at least in their subject matter. Speaking to him recently, he pointed out the influence of Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker in the chorus, and also credits his Mum with some inspiration. The bridge of “Don’t let the grass grow beneath your feet” is Croker paraphrasing one of his mother’s favourite idioms.

‘Transition’ is a booty shaker with a positive message. It’s exactly what we need in these trying times. If you’re at the showcase stage on Saturday, and see a sunburned Irish guy, dancing like an eejit, come and say hi!

Transition can be purchased from beatport.

 

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