Une Vie Pour Rien Vinyles

Claimed Choice Conséquences / La Part des Choses 7″

Following up their killer mini-album from last year, CLAIMED CHOICE return with two bruising cuts of stripped-down French Oi! The top-side track, “Conséquences,” eschews the Bovver glam of their previous effort for a dour mid-tempo stomper replete with straightforward, effective guitar leads and gang vocals. While this should make fans of RIXE begin to salivate, the flipside contains the real gem. “La Part des Choses,” is a bonafide earworm with catchy guitar lines and anthemic choruses, picking up right where We Won’t Give In left off. Gritty, melodic, and tougher than steel-toes, this song epitomizes the appeal of French Oi! in the 2020s. I love a proper 45, and this one does not disappoint!  

Claimed Choice We Won’t Give In LP

I love old French Oi! It can often be a really beautiful thing. Catchy and streetwise but almost touching in sincerity and feeling, as heard in bands like CAMERA SILENS or SNIX. This new Lyon band goes for a less traditional sound than their elder statesmen, but it still rocks pretty hard to the shaved noggin. Well, only one of these folks has the proper haircut, but don’t hate, as they mix in nice glammy rock’n’roll guitar to some perfect, gruff “TEMPLARS meets R.A.S. marching through the French sewers”-style vocals. It’s a little like what CROWN COURT was doing early on. Fine by me, and it should be fine by you if you know what’s good for you.

Collision Immortels / La Vie S’échappe 7″

I hate for punk to get too squeaky clean, especially when it claims to be echoing the sleaziest era of the genre (late ’70s). This single definitely falls in that category, with all the rough edges sanded down for ease of consumption. Most of the fault lies in the production, which dampens the bite of the guitars that really would have put this over the edge. That said, the songwriting is pretty spot-on, hitting a sweet spot between an old school UK sound and an overall harmony-enriched power pop vibe. I just wish it hit harder because as it stands, it falls just short of something potent. Another quibble, and definitely one that comes from personal bias—the B-side “La Vie S’échappe” ends with a fade out. Please, all punks take note: write an ending to your song. Nothing packs less punch than a song just trickling away. Slam one last E chord or something and call it a night, it’s really not a big deal.

Collision Sur Les Trottoirs LP

COLLISION is a French band from Nantes who embrace their native tongue and write really catchy songs. Sounding like something that could have come out during the heyday of Lookout! or even a RANCID side project, COLLISION is able to fill a void in many people’s collections. Blending elements of Oi!, punk rock, and even a bit of two-tone into a raucous good time, COLLISION is contemporary rock’n’roll. I found Sur Les Trottoirs to be a nuanced album, but also something that brought to mind bands like CRIMPSHRINE, OPERATION IVY, and BRAIN FAILURE, while the French lyrics made everything fresh and just a little more interesting. Some downtuned moments of flanged guitars bring in a very minor element of post-punk darkness which only elevates the feelings of melancholy and angst swirling on this album.

Cran Samedi Minuit EP

CRAN is a French band that, at best, is trying to do some sort of melodic, more thoughtful Oi!, but ends up sounding like a confused up-tempo goth band with shouted vocals. The artwork is bland, two of the three songs drag on forever, and I don’t think the drummer plays a single fill. In CRAN’s defense, I’m not cosplaying as some wanna-be skinhead who could somehow conceive this as good. Giving it multiple listens for the sake of a fair review was one of the more arduous parts of my day.

Cran Natë LP

CRAN is a Parisian punk band that infuses their sound with a heap of Oi! and a little bit of post-punk. The resulting sound is reminiscent of a dark VICE SQUAD, or more similarly, contemporary fellow countrymen COLLISION. The song “Ad Vitam” has a slow opening that quickly jumps into overdrive only to close out with a slow, vicious beating. The gang vocals on “L’Amour” invite a communal feel while delivering a scathing treatise on the realities of love. This album is as equally strong on instrumental technique as it is on thematic content, making it easy to play on repeat.

Daltonz Hier, Demain, Maintenant LP

La République has always been a bastion of Oi!, and while the current crop of current cropheads waving the tri-colour are doing a lot to drag the genre in the direction of more spartan, post-punk influences, it’s nice to see grizzled vets DALTONZ steadfastly sticking to the old ways and sounding great twenty years in. Firmly in the tradition of the COCKNEY REJECTS or 4 SKINS, it’s eight solid tracks of full-fat, 100% not-from-concentrate skinhead rock’n’roll, and it sounds great. Vive La Oi! Vive Les DALTONZ!

Fracture Purgatoire EP

Kick-ass young punk/Oi! band outta Paris. Catchy as all hell, like a lost R.A.S. track or anything on a Chaos En France compilation. I imagine or hope they’re on the ins with the whole RIXE/CONDOR scene or else they should be, as they might give the old-timers a run for their baguette. “Imposteur” is my personal fave, with that mid-tempo menace that just screams trouble. All songs are perfect though, and I hope it’s not too hard to track down a copy. Kill!

Kronstadt Quai de l’Ouest LP

Lille punks KRONSTADT return for their second LP, bringing with them a more expansive, melodic sound and ambition along with them. Like their compatriots LITOVSK and SYNDROME 81 I suppose it is ostensibly Oi!-adjacent, but there’s a not insignificant dose of post-punk sheen on this release; a lot of the rough edges have been knocked off which is where, unfortunately, I find a lot of the charm. It’s perfectly good enough, serviceable punk but just slightly too polished for yours truly.

Lion’s Law The Pain, The Blood, and The Sword LP

The latest full-length from Parisien Oi! stalwarts LION’S LAW; the venerable Wattie at the helm as is de rigueur for most contemporary French skinhead bands worth their sel, and backed by a motley crew of skins and punks they serve up a thoroughly modern take on Oi! Dabbling as much in E-TOWN CONCRETE style hardcore as it does KOMINTERN SECT style oi! traditionnel, it’s varied enough to stop it being one note as so many releases can be these days. Vocals in both English and French are reminiscent of MOTÖRHEAD in parts, a suitably gruff accompaniment to the rugged riffs ’n’ rhythm underpinning the whole thing. Decent stuff.

Prisonner du Temps Comme un Lion en Cage LP

There’s a hard edge here, to be sure…but this is a hard world. But when frustration and anger are born from a desire for something better, it all presents as something more than fury, and you can feel that in PRISONNER DU TEMPS’ debut full-length; it hits hard and holds you close from start to finish. The record feels like the kind of thing that bands like SYNDROME 81 are trying to do—dark and brooding hardcore punk with street punk hooks that never sound dated or trite. This is to 2023 what NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS and CRIMINAL DAMAGE were to the mid-2000s: classic, timeless, and absolutely stellar.

Récidive Tripes d’Acier EP

Formed in 2019 in the mean streets of Paris, a breeding ground for new Oi! bands, RÉCIDIVE is a fairly new band with just the Planté Là x Jeunes Espoirs 7” previously under their belt (or should I say braces?!?). Back with Tripes d’Acier, this shaved-headed crew has done three songs that will get any skinhead on the dancefloor, swinging and slamming. You can hear CRIMINAL DAMAGE and BLITZ in their sound as expected, but they manage to sound mature with their well-crafted songs, bringing some sort of freshness to their catchy brand of Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Tchernobyl Face Au Mur EP

This is the second release from French Oi! band TCHERNOBYL and, as is the case for a lot of the country’s Oi! for the past 40 or so years, it’s a winner! Ruff ‘n’ tuff but packed full of hooks and melodic guitar lines in the grand French Oi! tradition. I dig this slab of sound a hell of a lot! Three tunes of driving punk rock’n’roll done very well. Music to shave heads to.

Tchernobyl Consumé Par Le Feu EP

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! Another week and another cracker of a French-speaking Oi! record for me to tuck into, this time from the perennially great scène Parisienne. While the Anglophone world may be slacking, these upstarts have been adding their spin on that classic French sound everyone loves (unless you are a cloth-eared bastard). Both lumpen and leaden while simultaneously whipping along at decent pace, it’s a great little record, and doesn’t stay around long enough to offend either.

Traitre Discographie LP+EP

Lille’s TRAITRE, on face value, seems to plough a well-trodden furrow in the field of Oi!: a heady mix of rough n’ ready NABAT-style riffs and gang vocal “woah-ohs” in the vein of their compatriots, the venerable WARRIOR KIDS and REICH ORGASM. There is, however, a certain melancholy that beats at the heart of this record, and almost touches upon Second Empire Justice-era BLITZ territory at points. Ennui and anger pulse throughout this record. Existential Oi! for the thinking skinhead; even boot boys get the blues. Well worth a spin.

V/A Paris on Oi! LP

A compilation by some of the leading lights in “La Ville-Lumière,” aimed at capturing a snapshot of its particularly vibrant and thriving Oi! scene following the pandemic. A noble cause, and one that I back, because it really is a cracker. BROMURE, SQUELETTE, and CRAN will all be familiar to those keeping an eye on the scene, but uncovering treats like RECIDIVE and CONTUSION is always a treat. Fair warning, it is French Oi!, so please don’t be startled by liberal applications of saxophone, but it’s a price worth paying for a dip into one of the better scenes in Euro-land.

V/A Oi! L’Album Volume 2 LP

Libertoi, égalioi, fraternitoi! Nearly ten years after the first installment, Nantes-based label Une Vie Pour Rien has put out a second course of delicious Oi morsels from the francophone world. Absolutely zero fucking about here, as the first track from parisian stalwarts BROMURE is straight in with the saxophone, because is it really French Oi without it? Stand-out tunes from ULTRA RAZZIA, BOGAN, COUPE-GORGE, follow and if you like your riffs hard as nails, your vocals gruff and your saxophone inexplicably present then this is the comp for you. Marchons! Marchons!