Animal Farm Model Soldier / John Julie 7″

For some reason, ANIMAL FARM sounds like a punkish band from the ’79 era (e.g. the SHAPES). They have a certain quirky melodic quality, a clever wit, and a cleaner guitar sound than one normally finds today. “Model Soldier” is a sarcastic look at enlistees; the flip seems to be a continuation of the Jilted John/Julie story. Neat-o.

Clockwork Soldiers Wet Dreams EP

The title song is a hilarious trashing of the EVERLY BROTHERS’ classic “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” with altered X-rated lyrics. The flip contains one slow, tuneless Oi cut (“In the Name of Science”) and a much better speedier number (“Suicide”). The production is absurdly muddy, and the B-side label has the wrong song order.

English Dogs Forward Into Battle LP

This album features the addition of Graham (ex-DESTRUCTORS) to guitar duties, whose work is sharp and noticeable. But when the ENGLISH DOGS changed singers and did the classic To the Ends of the Earth 12″, I expected a churning explosion of insanity on this one. Instead, I got half of that. Bummed, but trying to be fair, this has more approaches to mainstream metal than speedmetal, which is well-executed and craveable for all you fanatics. The speed stuff is great, storms with power and exertion.

English Dogs To the Ends of the Earth 12″

Yowsaaah! You say ENGLISH DOGS equals GBH clones, a ho-hum mucacho. You ain’t heard this! Blisters with speedcore franticness, mean with whining licks as it kicks into a maniac pace. Well-organized melodies that cry out in terrorizing metallic thrash. While some bands are trying to be metal, ENGLISH DOGS are just the dawning of speedcore. Put that on again, chalk one up for Rot!

Paranoia Shattered Glass LP

I was anticipating basic Britpunk, but instead this is a reasonably hard-edged release combining pop and post-punk song structures. PARANOIA’s crisp instrumentation is of a high order, and their haunting compositions grow on you with repeated listenings. One can discern some obvious SIOUXSIE influences herein, though a number of the songs are more driving (like “1984,” “Graveyards of Hell,” and “My World”). Good, if somewhat spotty.

Paranoia Dead Man’s Dreams / Man in Black 7″

While “Dead Man’s Dreams” mines a lackluster SIOUXSIE influence, the flip delights as a bouncy mid-tempo burst of catchy post-punk; it’s also very finely produced and executed. On this single, PARANOIA continues to explore some unusual and interesting musical directions. Pretty good!

Picture Frame Seduction Hand of the Rider LP

An English release that mixes bits of thrash with the sound similarities of GBH and ENGLISH DOGS, but with not the same amount of punch. Musically, it has a lot going for it, but nothing that makes it shine past the stack. Enjoyable and better than some UK releases, but needs that unique gusto to kick the brain around.

Resistance 77 Vive Le Resistance LP

As their name suggests, RESISTANCE 77 utilize a “classic” punk approach, one that’s rich with strong melodies, irresistible background choruses, and an aggressive guitar sound. “Will They Survive?” and “Advance Factory Units” are the most intriguing of the four tracks here and, although the lyrics aren’t as inspired as one might hope, aficionados of good ’77 punk will fond something to their liking. Very fine.

Resistance 77 Thoroughbred Men LP

A better release than I expected. While there’s some so-so stuff, many of the tracks have that “something special” that makes them jump out at you, and stick, too. Catchy tunes, powerfully delivered, and with zip!

Riot Squad I’m OK — Fuck You EP

Trad punk bands like this are best taken in small doses on 7″er instead of entire albums. “In the Future” is weak, “Society’s Fodder” really picks up the pace, and “Friday Night Hero” tops it off with great power. All the songs express progressive and hopeful sentiments, though.

Riot Squad No Solution / Government Scheme 7″

This new RIOT SQUAD record is in the predictable Britpunk tradition, but the damn thing sounds real good anyway. “No Solution” hits the mark due to its simple but classy chorus, while the flip relies more on speed. Both are improved drastically by a loud-as-fuck drum mix.

Riot Squad No Potential Threat LP

This new RIOT SQUAD release may display more of their standard Britpunk attack, but the amazingly powerful production lifts it head and shoulders above the norm. The guitars roar, the drums beat on your head, and their ringing choruses pick you up and drag you right along. Surprisingly strong.

Sune Studs Och Grönlandsrockarna VÁ¥r Dagliga DÁ¶d EP

On their second EP, Sweden’s S.S.G. reveal a startling schizophrenia. The A-side contains two irresistible tuneful numbers with sing-along choruses and a variety of crude yet fetching guitar segments, whereas the flipside contains a pair of hookless, dull songs. I guess it’s just one of nature’s many mysteries.

The Enemy Last But Not Least / Images 7″

The ENEMY have never managed to generate much excitement, and this new 45 doesn’t break with tradition. “Last But Not Least” is a fairly boring rock-oriented number with a dull lead and mannered vocals; the live flip isn’t much better, though it has a more piercing guitar tone.

The Varukers Massacred Millions 12″

Here be the newie of the VARUKERS, sounding more like their first LP than that last blast of a speedy DISCHARGE riffs. High snare in the mix, but that doesn’t hold this back. Fast, powerful, and clean in the VARUKERS tradition, but what happened to Bruce??

The Varukers Live in Holland LP

This limited edition (1500 copies) disc contains 16 songs recorded in a board mix with good sound quality. The vocals are up-front, with the drums and guitars vying in the background for your attention—not an ideal state of affairs—but the VARUKERS’ material saves this from being “just another live album.” Adequate.

V/A Two Ninety Nine LP

A whole lot of current UK bands (eleven to be exact), each with a track or so, and bizarrely, one US band (KILLROY). We get some mid-tempo tracks from ANIMAL FARM, SICK VICARS, ENEMY, RESISTANCE 77, THOSE OBNOXIOUS TYPES, and PARANOIA. Not earth-shaking, but solid Brit-punk.

V/A Have a Rotten Christmas LP

The up-and-coming Rot Records label presents largely unreleased tracks for your holiday “enjoyment.” Good, strong material from ANIMAL FARM, VARUKERS, NO CHOICE, SKEPTIX, RESISTANCE 77, ENEMY, PARANOIA, and RIOT SQUAD. What, no BOBBY HELMS?

V/A Rot in Hell LP

Rot’s international comp with 13 bands and 22 songs featuring the VARUKERS (always kicking ass), D.O.S., BLEED, OVERDOSE, OI POLLOI, ANGRY RATS, XXX, NO CONCERN, and more. Lots of good music in a melodic vein, some fast, most medium-paced. Enjoyable for a whole sitting. Check into this.

V/A Wet Dreams LP

A new collection of UK bands performing a variety of styles, including basic Britpunk (RIOT SQUAD, CHRISTIANITY BC, the X-CRETAS, DEAD MAN’S SHADOW, the CLOCKWORK SOLDIERS, and EXTERNAL MENACE), Oi (BREAKOUT), “classical” punk (RESISTANCE 77), and tense experimental punk (PARANOIA). RIOT SQUAD, the CLOCKWORK SOLDIERS, and the X-CRETAS each do one thrashed-out number, and RESISTANCE 77 have the most retarded lyrics. Although Wet Dreams represents a positive effort to give new bands more exposure, it doesn’t always satisfy from a musical standpoint.

V/A Have a Rotten Christmas, Vol. 2 LP

A compilation that features some well-established names in European punk and HC. With bands like the VARUKERS, NO CHOICE, RATTUS, and ENGLISH DOGS, you would think this would be a very powerful piece of vinyl. Well, it’s not, and most of the tracks are at the most average and leave no lasting impression. Nothing outstanding.