Reviews

Contra

Denim Ski Mask Justice EP

Wallop! This demo from a duo of Austrian recalcitrants ticks a lot of boxes for me—namely, it’s short, sharp and almost entirely lacks any fucking about whatsoever. Raw enough to cause salmonella, this is hard-as-nails Oi! stripped back to its component parts. Full of menace and the threat of aggro kicking off at any point, barely concealed within three songs that say all they need to in fewer than two minutes. Listen to this! You have been warned.

Faz Waltz Rebel Kicks LP

I don’t know what’s in the water in Italy, but they’ve been responsible for some of the finest cuts of pure bovver glam in the vein of peak-era SWEET (R.I.P. Steve Priest) or T. REX in recent memory. Like fellow compatriots GIUDA, FAZ WALTZ are of the particular school of thought that music peaked in about 1974, clearly worship at the altar of His Sainted Majesty Noddy Holder, and wholeheartedly believe that too much thinking gets in the way of having a good time; and this could not be more evident in their latest effort. Eleven tracks of defiant, hip-swingin’, foot-stompin’ glitter boogie aimed squarely at your pleasure centres. Do yourself a favour, put on your best clobber, switch off your brain and have a good old mirror strut for the next half hour or so. You won’t regret it.

Liberty and Justice Pressure LP

Streetrock ain’t dead! In their debut LP, Texan sorts LIBERTY AND JUSTICE have quietly released one of the records of the year. Taking inspiration from classic Oi! like the TEMPLARS and even the 4-SKINS, as well as dabbling in NEGATIVE APPROACH-style hardcore too, it’s actually a lot more expansive than your ten a penny plastic gangsters doing cosplay about the pub. Solidarity and anti-racism is the name of the game here, and collaborations with local ska/cumbia outfit LOS SKARNALES and Houston rapper FAT TONY are both highlights. Sledgehammer vocals and fist-in-the-air anthems all underwritten by a thunderous rhythm section, too. Completely took me by surprise, but undoubtedly a future genre classic.

Lvger Fvll Villain LP

Have you ever wondered what it’d sound like if HIGH ON FIRE’s Matt Pike decided to stop dicking about and get into full MOTÖRHEAD worship instead? Me neither, and as it turns out it’s a question that probably should remain unanswered; in the ether. LVGER’s debut full-length only clocks in at six songs but feels about six years; with several tracks pushing an agonising four minutes in length, the sheer lack of urgency or any self-control really begins to drag at stages. While the riffs are undoubtedly robust, there’s more than a little of the bootcut jean about this record and it’s hard to ignore. Not for me.

No Class Don’t You Worry About Us! EP

About as subtle as a cricket bat to the bollocks, Footscray’s finest are back with a four-pack of beer-soaked bootboy bangers, hairy-arsed rock’n’roll and glam stompers. Opener “1981” comes across as a snottier ROSE TATTOO, swiftly followed by “Don’t You Worry About Us,” a defiant arms-’round-the-shoulder anthem reminiscent of an antipodean FACES with its knees up piano accompaniment. With “Knuckle Dragger” we have a revved up ’77 rocker channeling the sneer of COCKNEY REJECTS albeit at twice the speed, leading into “Every Now And Then” which is total “Runnin’ Riot”-era COCK SPARRER rip-off territory and there’s no higher compliment. Fans of “having a laugh with your mates” will not be disappointed.

Oldfashioned Ideas Still Worth Fighting For CD

Swedish streetpunk here. Although the vocals here are gruff, this has a tuneful feel that borders on NEWTOWN NEUROTICS and the UK SUBS at times. Luckily the songs are not about raising a beer with the boys. Although this got a bit redundant by the end, I do give it a thumbs up.

Rough Cuts Nobody’s Fool LP

Sadly, not the latter-era SLADE ripper, Nobody’s Fool is instead the debut from Torontonian outfit ROUGH CUTS which delivers BISHOP’S GREEN and DROPKICK MURPHYS-esque street punk devoid of any real grit or menace. Admittedly, there are a few tracks to which you can bounce along in your adidas sambas and camo shorts should you be one of these modern Oi! types, and they seem to have their head broadly screwed on (small r) right politically-speaking, but some of the lyrics fit about as well as a new pair of 8-hole Docs and the vocals sound like a cartoon bullfrog. Not only this, but one of the riffs is lifted directly from GREEN DAY and they commit the cardinal sin of writing a punk song about an MLS team. Perfectly serviceable, but not essential.

The Elite Reason for My Sin EP

Debut outing from this new Buffalo trio, which starts promisingly with a BLITZ-esque riff but soon devolves into some bog-standard Oi!-tinged hardcore. It does whip along at a rate of some knots and there’s enough of a germ at the centre to suggest they might do something decent in the future. Fans of the BRASS and NO TIME may find something to like in this short EP, but sadly likely to be the last time I think about it.

The Royal Hounds NYC God Bless The Royal Hounds LP

One of my not-so-favorite musical genres is Oi!-pop… Popoye? Don’t know, but call it what you like, when you start mixing the QUEERS with the 4-SKINS, I’m headed to the door. COCK SPARRER can pull it off, but it took them a long time to grow on me with every song sounding like a drunken Christmas carol sung by a muppet. The ROYAL HOUNDS NYC do not sound like any of the aforementioned bands. To give them credit, they do a nice job of mixing Oi! with Too Tough to Die-era RAMONES or even the DICTATORS, which comes to an apex with the song “I Just Wanna Live This Way”—really the highlight for me here. The singer has a nice, gruff vocal range in a class with Carl from the TEMPLARS, Lemmy and Handsome Dick. The super flanged-out guitar (maybe a nod to the TEMPLARS) endlessly soloing gets grating after a while and I am left dreading the possibility of any more Popoye records heading my way.

The Young Ones Cream of the Crop LP

Alas, not a posthumous release from Rik Mayall (more’s the pity!), this is instead a Dutch outfit seemingly attempting to revive the “glory days” of Oi and breathe life into the sort of dated shite beloved of the haunted ghouls still going to Rebellion Festival in 2020. It sounds like bad COCKNEY REJECTS karaoke, retreading some already very well-trodden tracks. Hoxton Tom didn’t wear trainers mate.

Violent Way All Talk EP

From the ashes of the ELITE emerges VIOLENT WAY, refreshed and renewed to give the world a kicking. Some classic meat and potatoes Oi! from these Buffalo upstarts, and if you are a real American Oi! fan you’ll love this; willing to bet a couple of quid that these fellas had FORCED REALITY and TEMPLARS written on their pencil case at school.

Vis Vires The Fight Goes On LP

Never personally understood the fascination with some skins in pretending to be a Viking warrior (it was shit, lads! You couldn’t even get Wi-Fi or a decent lamb tikka bhuna!), and this record is unlikely to convince me, really. From its opening salvo of audio library sword-clashing, to its tough-guy vocals singing of victory, pride, and storms, it’s a quaintly macho record, more in common with MANOWAR than its Oi! labelling, all IRON MAIDEN wailing guitars and not enough grit. If you liked that BATTLE RUINS record, or think you’re from eighth-century UppÁ¥kra, this may be for you.