Mad Spanner – Wrong Shade Of Orange

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Label: Self-released

As I’ve noted elsewhere recently, the problem with most so-called comedy bands is that they aren’t actually all that funny, and rely on offensive or shocking “jokes” to mask a lack of decent songs. Wrong Shade Of Orange by solo act Mad Spanner makes no attempt to hide its absurd sense of humour – I mean, just look at that cover – but the thrashy punk/grind on the album is strong enough to stand on its own. However, the humour is of the kind that won’t be to everyone’s taste, and can be – to me – rather hit-and-miss. That said, there’s still more than enough here to have kept me entertained.

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Mirrored Lips – MOM

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Label: Cruel Nature Records

Punk rock means different things to different people; there’s no real common sound to it any more (if there ever was), and as would be expected some 40 years on from its inception, the genre has splintered off in to a huge variety of different scenes and styles. Arguably the only thing that can still reliably identify something as punk rock is a rebellious spirit, and that’s something Mirrored Lips have in abundance on MOM. You don’t need to understand the Russian lyrics to appreciate what the trio have created here, with the creative, rebellious soul of the band coming through clearly no matter what language you speak. A challenging, varied listen, MOM is noisy, difficult, and everything I like my punk rock to be.

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Planes Mistaken For Stars – Prey

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Label: Deathwish Inc

There’s few bands more important to me than Planes Mistaken For Stars (PMFS), and it was a sad day for me when they played their final (at the time) show in 2008. Though the band started playing live again in 2010, I never truly expected a new album to ever materialize; so, the release of Prey is welcome in that it represents the return of one of my favourite bands. But it’s also a release that should appeal to more than just fans of old, as this is a wonderfully passionate piece of post-hardcore, full of grit and melody, with the kind of definite roughness to the edges that speaks of bad decisions and good times. There’s no one who sounds quite like PMFS, and that’s as true on Prey as it ever was. It’s one of the most unexpected releases of the year, but also one of my favourite. My hopes for the album were high, and they have more than been met.

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Sessoviolento / Sorg – Split

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Label: Yamabushi Recordings

This is a bit of a bittersweet release. It’s not that one band on this split whilst the other is awful, as sometimes happens with splits. Nor does one band overshadow the other. Rather, it’s bittersweet because whilst both Sessoviolento and Sorg offer up excellent sides, it marks Sorg’s last release, as the band split up just over a week ago. A real shame, as the mix of black, drone, grind, and doom they offer is absolutely awesome; whilst Sessoviolento continue to be one of the best blackened crust/punk bands in the underground, with the four tracks they offer being hard, dirty, and a bit nasty, much like what their name translates to.

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Pale Heads – Headless

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Label: Poison City Records

Garage rock seems like it’s is the kind of genre that it’s hard to really go wrong with. Hard rocking, energetic riffs; vocals possessed of an urgency that says more than the lyrics every could; and plenty of distortion. What’s not to like? But, by the same token, what’s there to make a band stand out from their peers and contemporaries? Australian four-piece Pale Heads answer this question on debut album Headless in multiple ways. The result is an album that takes a few risks, looks beyond the expected conventions of the genre, combines honesty with humour, and as a result, has real lasting appeal. Considering I’m normally falling asleep after a few tracks by most bands in this genre, once the initial rush has worn off, it makes the achievements here all the more notable.

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Blest Mess – The Album

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Label: Street Urchin Records

If you’ve even the remotest experience with punk rock, then you’ll probably have an idea in your mind of what The Album from Blest Mess sounds like before you’ve even heard the first song. Street punk with plenty of old-school tendencies? Absolutely, and all the better for it. These scene veterans clearly know exactly what sound and style they’re after, and absolutely nail it. The only sign that The Album wasn’t recorded at some point in the 80s is the production, and you know what? That is a very good thing indeed. Full of attitude and energy, this is old-school punk done right.

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The Burnt Tapes – Wasted History

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Label: Self-released

Let’s be honest here: I’m probably not the kind of person that this record is aimed at. My tastes in hardcore and punk have, if anything, gotten even heavier and more negative over time. I have a denim jacket with a Minor Threat backpatch. I’ve only been drunk once in the last five or so years, and that was at a good friend’s wedding. So, an EP filled with melodic, sing-along punk filled with references to excessive drinking? Not the kind of thing I’d normally go for. Sure, I may enjoy something with more melody than normal now that it’s summer, but when it comes to punk, I’m still more likely to be listening to something political or negative than anything else (and most likely released in the 80s, too – or sounding like it wishes it was). But I’ll be damned if The Burnt Tapes haven’t released something in Wasted History that even someone like me can’t help but enjoy it.

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