Crophead Record Roundup #1

With so many releases coming out every month, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. We pride ourselves on being independent and incorruptible. Therefore, dear music industry, keep your filthy money, your freebies and your cocaine – we’ll write nothing but our honest opinions on your output (though if you offered a million, we could talk about it I guess).

Keeping his ear close to the streets, our new contributor Abdul Bleach Boy has reviewed a whole bunch of records for you. All of the ones below, actually, except for the one reviewed by yours truly.
Crombieboy

Rixe: Bapteme de feu 7’

If you’ve not come across this band that burst onto the scene two years ago – well, where have you been? This band is one of a number that restored my faith in Oi. As a kid, I’d go to sleep with Blitz, The Business and The Blood on my walkman, excited about this new scene I had discovered. Rixe, and a number of their fellow Frenchmen give me that buzz 25+ years on. Featuring members of Oi greats Lion’s Law and The Sultans, this is the best Oi band on the planet. And one of the best ever. Short, brutal, bass heavy blasts that hit you like a sledgehammer. It sounds familiar without reminding you too much of anyone. Bit UK Subsish in places, but only if they were on steroids. A great band. If you only buy one of the releases reviewed here, make it this one. 10 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Tyrant: Demo

This Danish band is described as “super catchy hardcore with Oi! influences”. I’m going to be pedantic and say it’s more hardcore-influenced Oi. Reminded me of US band No Time, with hints of the old Headache Records bands too. Great chuggy verses and some blistering guitar work. The choruses are a slight letdown, though, they just don’t ‘take off’ as they promise to. Overall a solid effort. 7.5 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Lethal Dose: Demo

Great release, this. The best thing I’ve heard in ages that isn’t French (readers will note in due time your humble reviewer has something of a love affair with French Oi music). Imagine if the Dicks had been born 30+ years later and obsessively listened to The Wretched Ones. This is probably what they’d sound like. Pulsating, old school Headache Records style Oi with great lyrics railing against the police, the rich, and even a song called ‘Fuck the KKK’. Too perfect. 10 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

PMS 84: Easy Way Out LP

The cover was sort of a giveaway here. The graphics just scream political old school UK hardcore punk (or, as a term I loathe dubs it, UK82). There’s a good dose of the punkier end of Oi in here, too. It’s got hints of early Oi Polloi, Blitz, Conflict, and also newer bands like No Time. The musicianship is of a high standard for the genre, and there are some ace songs with great mob choruses. This style is so easy to fuck up, but this release is excellent. 8.5 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

[What’s with the ‘84’? Condemned 84 formed in that year, so their name makes sense. But Combat 84 already existed in 1981. In the second half of the 80s, there was a French nazi band called Bunker 84 and an Italian redskin band called Ghetto 84. Now we’ve apparently got an RAC band from Liverpool called Order 84 – a covert reference to the order number of their favourite kebab dish on the local halal joint’s menu perhaps?  – and the hardcore punk band, PMS 84. What’s up with that?  – Editor]

Voraces in Sta Prest: Demo 2016

At first listen, this band from Lyon didn’t impress me simply because their demo sounded a bit too ‘bedroom’ and not ‘garage’ enough – i.e. there wasn’t enough reverb, which made them sound less like a band playing in a room together and too much like individuals plugging their instruments straight into a laptop.

Just so happens I’ve now given it another shot, and production aside, I like it much better this time around. What we have here isn’t metal guitars or a grunting vocalist trying hard to sound ‘hard’, but a punkish lightness that some of my fave French Oi bands, such as Warrior Kids and the West Side Boys, also had. The songs charm you with a certain ‘beginner’s freshness’ that makes Swingo Porkies spring to mind too. Needless to say, a saxophone is also present (French Oi bands that don’t use sax are actually in breach of a skinhead-specific penal code first passed by president Mitterrand in 1982).

Now, historically the French have a lot to be proud of, and by that I don’t mean kings and queens and castles, but – apart from their Oi bands – an assertive working class that knows how to drive fear into the hearts of the establishment. The name of this band is derived from Voraces, a group of weavers from Lyon, who in the mid 19th century organised thousands of proles from the local slums into fearsome militias, wreaking havoc upon low-paying looms and terrorising their ‘betters’.

To be honest, I didn’t know any of this history until I looked it up 10 minutes ago, but I like it. This is no Uncle Tom ‘working class’ bullshit, but the working class as it should be, administering the proverbial kick in the bollocks to anyone who stands in its way.

Next time the cluttering footsteps of prole battalions reverberate on the pavements of Lyon, I surely hope modern-day Voraces will be decked out in the sharpest Sta Prest available. As the saying goes, nothing is to good for the working class.

I’m giving this demo a modest 7 out of 10 – mainly because I don’t want these guys to rest on their Perry laurels. Instead, I want them to get their act together and deliver better recorded new material pronto. It’s been a year since this one came out, after all.
Crombieboy

Public Service: Demo

Hard to define this one. Not really skinhead related, but I hope some of the more eclectic readers who don’t decry Second Empire Justice by Blitz as high treason will warm to it. Basically, it’s got elements of cold wave and electronic, as well as melodic anarcho-punk. Imagine early Killing Joke combined with elements of The Mob and modern cold wavers such as Douche Froide. Atmospheric and enjoyable as something different for a cold night in when Oi, hardcore or ska aren’t satisfying. 8 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

King Cans: Demo

This lot hail from Montreal. The opening number has some great guitar work that promises a lot – an anthemic stomper with gruff as fuck vocals. Sadly, after that it goes downhill pretty fast, turning into tuneless, sub-par North American Oi. It’s not that they’re doing anything wrong per se, it’s just that you’ll have heard a hundred average bands just like this. Unspectacular, formulaic and ultimately going nowhere. I couldn’t wait for it to finish to put something with a bit of life to it on. Still, they aren’t bad musicians, and at least one song was decent. Hopefully, over time they’ll find an identity of their own and move up a few notches. 5 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Rogue Trooper: Boots on the Ground 7’

This is from last year, but I’m including it, as no doubt it will have passed many of you by. In a US scene where a high number of morons walk a dangerous line along the ‘fence’, bands like Rogue Trooper and Lethal Dose really stand out. This is great, old school Oi not a million miles off Niblick Henbane or the early Bruisers’ best stuff. Hints of Boot Party too. Lyrically, it covers drinking, work, being a skin, and a great fuck you to the far right with Bonehead, my favourite track on here. None of the songs is two minutes long. It’s just great, no nonsense Oi. 9 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Various Artists: Oi the tape Volume 3

Another one in the series from Crowd Control media, and maybe my favourite in the series. Features Oi bands from the UK, Europe and East Asia, but most of the faces here are from North America, and bands featured include Junto, 99 Bottles, Hardstride, Reckless Upstarts, Wolf Bites Boy, The Brigade, and loads more. Like all comps there’s the good, the average, and ‘sweet fuck! That’s godawful’, but for me it’s mainly good. Some of the standouts were the Unruly Boys with some blistering skinhead hardcore/Oi, Reckless Upstarts with the brilliantly anthemic Kiev [the lyrics are naive at best, though – Editor], Out of Order with the glorious fist-pumping Insomnia, and All Worked Up with the No Future recs-ish Waste of Life. Overall, a decent addition to anyone’s collection. 8 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Various Artists: They Came From Boston #1

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of ska punk or US street punk. I find it all a bit lightweight and lacking in aggression. However, this comp, featuring Stray Bullets, Blood Staining Brindles, Duck & Cover and the Warning Shots isn’t half bad. The Stray Bullets play some good ska punk. Not exactly the Bosstones at their best, but it’s fun and lively. Duck and Cover are more a mix of melodic punk with some glam metal and hard rock thrown in. Some of the guitar work is pretty Helloween-ish (remember them…?). The Warning Shots are very easy listening, with hints of the Eagles and Tom Petty. The most Oi are the Blood Stained Brindles, but the only band on here I didn’t like at all. Again, very rockish us Oi with rockabilly influences. Overall, not an earth-shattering comp, it’s hardly Oi! the album or This is Boston not LA, but decent enough. 7 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

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