New album from one of Cardiff’s most eccentric artists, on Tantrum Records
It’s quite possible that many of you will have seen Ninjah perform live and not have realised it. He is the dude with the white dread locks often seen around Cardiff city centre playing random objects, such as bins or benches, with his ever present drum sticks.
Everyone that matters on the Cardiff scene will know him for a different reason though. As well as random drumming he is an accomplished singer, video maker and just all round creative type. Continue reading NINJAH: Keep Britain Lively (Tantrum Records 2018)
Question: What do you get when you put a shed load of Cardiff’s most unhinged creative types in a room together? Answer: Clusterfuck. And this is their latest release. Thirteen slices of deranged floor fillers.
The biggest problem with ‘techno’ (or whatever you want to call it) is that many artists find their killer beat and just rework it time and time again resulting in – erm – repetitive beats. Clusterfuck can never be accused of falling into that trap.
What we have here just shy is fifty minutes of phat beats and dope breaks that get ya ass shaking and head spinning, with each track taking you in a new direction. The common denominator is that the bass lines are deep and heavy throughout, causing involuntary bobbing up and down but the BPM counter always manages to stay below the red line of ‘gabba’.
It helps to fend of the repetitiveness by bringing in a host of ‘special guests’. Efa Supertramp, Keef It Real, Captain Hotknives and Donald Trump are just some of the crew that help this paddle this album down the crazy river. Their irreverence and cheeky sense of humour also prevents this becoming just another boring techno record. Nothing is too serious, too hot or too heavy for these guys.
Drugs, death and Swansea are just a few of the topics covered here. They somehow manage to demonstrate that they are anti-establishment without really saying it. They are probably anarchists but don’t even know it, cos they are too busy having a party to contemplate shit like that. Which is how it should be really.
Get it on, bang a gong, get it on – ow – get it on.
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One day, in the dim and distant future, Efa Supertramp will sit down, take a breather, or even possibly sleep. Until then, she is gonna run around fuelled on adrenalin with fingers in all sorts of pies, like this latest project, Killdren.
Not satisfied with running her own record label, writing zines, travelling all over Europe playing solo gigs, setting up squatted art galleries, sticking it to the ‘man’ and doing a degree, last year she teamed up with a sampler, a lap top and Nick Ronin from Tunbridge Wells to form rave outfit Killdren. Continue reading KILLDREN: Overkill is Underrated ep (Self released, 2018)
John Baine (AKA Attila) is not really a Stockbroker. Ray Burns is neither a Captain, nor Sensible. Rhiannon Crutchley, however, really is a Brewer’s Daughter.
When not helping dad out with bottling craft beers her time is split between recording and gigging on her own as The Brewer’s Daughter, playing fiddle with Tarantism, touring with the likes of Back to the Planet and Hawkwind, or just sailing up and down the canal in the narowboat she calls home. She even played the legendary 100 club in 2017. Continue reading THE BREWER’S DAUGHTER: Make Believe (Self Released 2016)
South Wales based electro pop band HEAD NOISE with their fourth release; a six track mini album – ep – ish – thing.
This has the vibe of that arty period in the early eighties when post punk was going off in different directions and no-one had quite worked out what synth pop was supposed to sound like. Continue reading HEADNOISE Special Effects Improves The Defects (Self released 2017)
With their third album, Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) remind us that concept albums do not need to be about Topographic Oceans or operas about pubescent mods coming of age. This album looks at the social impact of the fall and rise of an industry on the local community.
PSB’s modus operandi is to create funky instrumental music with occasional rocky outcrops, then layer over the top vocal samples. In the past that has included public information films (hence the band name), audio from NASA and specifically recorded interviews.
For Every Valley the focus is very much the south wales mining communities, how the coal industry provided hope, dreams of a job for life, and provided the glue that held a whole community together. It also document’s the decline and the death of the industry – and how the sole of the community also goes into decline when the main source of employment is ripped out of it. Continue reading PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: Every Valley (PIAS Recordings 2017)
Their first album, ‘Push’, laid the foundations. This second album, builds the walls and puts the roof on. Regime are the complete package, reggae, hip-hop and rock, all tightly delivered with conscious lyrics laid over the top.
They groove better than many strictly party bands, and deliver a message with more style than any other band we can think of.
Whilst many rappers concentrate on rattling off their lyrics at a million miles an hour, very often you can’t actually understand what they are banging on about. Not so with Regime, the lyrics are crystal clear and thought provoking.
The album opens with ‘Hard Work’, a tale of what some people have to do to keep a roof over their head, and a salute to those that make and build the things the rest of us take for granted. The lyrics are laid over a dubby vibe that induces involuntary skanking and foot tapping.
‘Robbing Us’, follows up with a harder, bouncy edge – often used to close their live sets. Who’s robbing us? ‘The Man’, obviously. Taxing us for the things we need, but also for things that we neither need nor want. “Schools and roads, yes we need those, but what kind of mother fuckers build torpedoes?”
It’s not all serious shit, ‘Fatman’, is about loving your body, no matter how it is built. “You might be big, but you still got it going on. He’s a fatman, he’s a fatman skanking”.
‘No Beef’ is probably the funkiest ode to veganism ever recorded, all with a sixties style funky wah wah vibe going on in the background.
‘Yes’, is a positive uplifting number about making the most of life, a declaration that, ‘Yes’ we are feeling good, feeling creative and yes to fighting back, with an appropriately upbeat in ya face soundtrack.
If it is not fair trade and workers are not paid, then Regime ‘Won’t Buy It’. If we prop up these companies that exploit workers and the planet by continuing to buy their shit, then they will just carry on regardless.
At all times the music is tight, funky and has you either slowly grooving or jumping up and down – sometimes in the same song. The addition of the conscious lyrics will always be a plus here at Iguana HQ. But more so with hip-hop, a genre where too many bands fall into the trap of sexist, homophobic or racist lyrics. Take note lesser mortals out there. Being right on is way cooler than being gangsta.
As the ballots papers were rolling in, hoisting Theresa May by her own petard, Public Service Broadcasting were in Ebbw Vale, launching their new album. ‘Every Valley’ reflects on the decline of industry in the valleys. Some would argue the decline was hastened by the last female Tory Prime Minister.
The timing was pure coincidence, the gig had been planned well before the snap election had been called, but the irony could not be ignored.
But hey, this is not a post about Westminster power trips, it is about a gig in Ebbw Vale that had ‘legendary’ written all over it from the moment it was conceived. Continue reading PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: Ebbw Vale Album Launch 08/06/17
Tucked away on the western fringes of the UK, hide the best ska band you have never heard. The Chalk Outlines. This is their long awaited first EP.
This sixteen legged outfit of seasoned performers from Cardigan in West Wales casually play upbeat twenty first century ska, occasionally poking it with rusty punk nails and prodding it with a dubby taser, but always leaving the true spirit of ska alive and well. Continue reading CHALK OUTLINES: Chalk Outlines (Self Released 2017)
Anyone that is stupid enough to let a dog have a bank account is in no place to complain when the dog goes bankrupt.
And this EP is an example of the beautiful anarchic funky chaos that ensues when a Pug goes bankrupt. Continue reading BANKRUPT PUG: I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing (self-released 2017)
Can’t wait for the festival season to start? Fear not, this fifteen track sampler from the Surplus Crew will help blow those winter blues away.
Given that most of the best bands on the underground festival circuit have played at Surplus, an album put together by the crew would inevitably be worth a listen. “Of course it will be good”, we thought to ourselves. But then – “Hold on – who are this lot?” Yes, fair play to the Surplus Crew, they have managed to dig out some bands we had not come across before – and boy is this album a belter. Continue reading VARIOUS ARTISTS: Surplus Fest Sampler Volume 1 (Surplus 2017)
Bass does not have to be sat in the back as part of a rhythm section. Lots of bands have worked that out over the years. And so have Mwstard.
When the three members of the band got together in a community hall in to see Jah Wobble and Keith Levine recreate metal box at the Laugharne Festival they decided to form a band.
They had all been around the block a bit before, so it did not take long for them to start making their bass heavy dub-jazz-post-punk racket. As Laugharne’s most famous resident, Dylan Thomas might have said, “ugly, lovely music … crawling, sprawling … by the side of a long and splendid curving groove. This music was my world” Continue reading MWSTARD: Cloc (Self Released 2017)
Dreadzone return with their 8th studio album of dubbed up grooviness.
Dreadzone were one of the original pioneers of the digital-dub-dance vibe, releasing their first album way back in 1993. Their third album, ‘Second Light’, from 1995, became a classic and was one of the best albums of the 1990s.
So the all-important question is, twenty plus years on, have they still got the magic touch. The simple answer is – yes. And then some. Continue reading DREADZONE: Dread Times (Dubwiser Records 2017)
Manchester’s Stone Roses have released their first new music in twenty one years – and it has divided the nation within hours of its release. Oddly, people who like the Stone Roses like it and People who don’t like the Stone Roses hate it. Go figure.
Music is a funny old business. The more successful a band the more people get passionate about them. Fans of a band will make an effort to like things that are not as good as the stuff that got them into the band in the first place. People who do not like a big name band will, rather than just ignore them, go out of their way to be hostile about them.
Then of course, you have to throw into the mix the ‘following the crowd’ factor. There have been some really dreadful bands that have reached the dizzying heights of headlining stadiums and festivals purely because the media have made them out to be cool.
So where do the Stone Roses fit into this? Continue reading STONE ROSES: New single splits the nation shock
DAMIDGE: Limitation (Self released 2016)
This four track EP is the missing link between the UK festival scene and the New York CBGBs scene of the early 1970s.
High energy grungy punk with chunky rhythms and guitar solos long enough to keep us closet rockers happy, but short enough to keep the three chord punk purists happy. Al Damidge’s vocals strut across the EP with a nonchalant swagger and if a voice could wear clothes, his would wear leather trousers and carry a flick knife. Continue reading DAMIDGE: Limitation
AOS3: Far and few (Self released -2015)
This album reviewing malarkey is not as easy as we make it look you know. Sometimes words to describe an album can be plucked from the tree of music criticism as an album is playing for the first time. Sometimes you have to patiently wait for the words to ripen before plucking them. Hence this review taking several months to formulate itself, cos this is what we call around the campfire, ‘a grower’.
It is clear the first time you listen to it that it is a special album, but you cannot quite put your finger on it. It will get your toes tapping, head nodding and on occasion your ass shaking, but it is too layered and complex to really take in straight away.
AOS3 are festival scene royalty. If Pete Loveday were to draw one of his rock family trees the shoots from this band would link in just about half the bands out there worth watching in festival land. Immediate family include Tarantism, P.A.I.N, Headjam, Nuke on Route and Less. That rich diversity of backgrounds always meant that this was never going to be a ska-punk by numbers album. Continue reading AOS3: Far and few
A THOUSAND SUNS Destroycreate EP (2007)
With so many decent ‘rock’ bands around in South Wales at the moment it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. You could be original, well there is nothing spectacularly original about this lot; you could be heavier than anything that has gone before, well they aint gone down that route either; or you can just outshine everybody else with your talent.
Now then…. this is where these boys stand out. Nothing too fancy, nothing pompous, nothing excessive, they have just taken a tried and tested formula of slightly metallic rock, filed off all the rough edges and polished it so you can see your face in it.
It is adventurous enough to be interesting and although we have already said it is not particularly original, it has to be said they do have thier own sound and don’t sound like anyone else. It is slightly understated but then they don’t need to scream and play at a million miles an hour to prove anything.
You get the impression though that if they really wanted to they could be an air guitarists wet dream. Nice chunky rhythms to get you grooving with slick guitar licks over the top, complimented by vocals where you can actually understand what the vocalist is signing. Not normally our sort of thing but we would be more than happy for this to sit on our shelves.
ASTRALASIA Volumes 1&2 (Voiceprint) 2004
Before becoming major players on the UK underground trance/rave scene, Astralasia were a side project for members of the Magic Mushroom Band. This disc is a collection of the first two cassette only releases, originally released back in 1988/89 when they played events alongside such artists as the Shamen and Mixmaster Morris.
Volume One is laid back psychedelic hippyish stuff that would have come under the banner ‘Ambient House’; more chill out lounge than dance floor. Continue reading ASTRALASIA: Volumes 1+2
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARADISO U.F.O. Does The Cosmic Shepherd Dream Of Electric Tapirs (Space Age Recordings) 2004
We here on Planet Iguana are determined to say “ hey man, have you heard, Acid Mothers Temple, they are well cool.” We are determined to like a band with a name that crazy… and no doubt we will persist in trying to like them for some time to come, and waste money on several more albums before we give up on them. But is going to be a long hard journey, because they are so damn wigged out it is unbelievable.
If this were on vinyl, we would check to see if it was playing backwards. They have released a shed load of albums, with different line-ups like some dysfunctional family living in a commune on Mars, there must be something listenable out there.
Our problem has recently been compounded by catching them live and discovering they are actually truly amazing on stage… but finding anything on disc to compare is hard work!
ALABAMA THREE: Outlaw (One Little Indian) 2005
Ten years and five albums in, this Brixton posse get better and better. They take their fascination for all things wild west to its natural conclusion and conjure up tails of train robberies, outlaws, gospel, six shooters and men who gotta do what a mans gotta do.
Their bluesy country techno rolls out of the speakers like the sound of an acid barn dance coming from the windows of the only saloon in a ghost town. These boys aint bothered about being in fashion, which is just as well cos their sound is peerless in its originality, nothing like it has gone before no one has dared to follow in their footsteps. A concept album? Maybe, but without all the pomposity that the term normally invokes. Down to earth rock ‘n roll that does not need to throw its weight around, it just leans up against the bar sipping bourbon and you know not to fuck with it. It gets the ladies arses moving left to right and the gangsters at the back feeling alright, all night
AKAHUM Electwistery (Worldvenue) 2007
It can be very difficult to get an ‘organic’ vibe going when making music with predominantly electronic ‘instruments’. Akahum have a bloody good go though and on the whole manage to pull it off.
The strange thing with this album is that, depending what mood you are in, it can be different things. Sometimes it is a psychedelic rock album, sometimes it is a techno album and sometimes it is a chill out album… and sometimes it is all of those things at the same time. Continue reading AKAHUM Electwistery
THEE FACTION: Reading Writing Revolution (2015)
The collected works of Karl Marx, trade union solidarity, protest marches – these don’t exactly sound like good subject material for particularly funky music. But hey – go figure!
Thee Faction have worked out how to write songs with names like GDH Cole dropped in casually, and still be eminently danceable. Not since the Redskins in the 1980s has unashamedly socialist music been so damn cool.
Taking a leaf out of the Dr Feelgood book of R’ n B, Thee Faction are a tour de force of rock and roll that gets your feet shufflin’, your hips gyratin’ and your head a thinkin’. Being angry has never been so much fun. Continue reading THEE FACTION: Reading Writing Revolution (2015)
THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX (2013)
This is the true story of two Scottish rappers, Silibil ‘n’ Brains, tired of the music industry not taking them seriously, who move to London, put on fake American accent, pretend to be from California and dupe the entire music industry into taking them on. On the face of it an amusing, if not entirely original story. But it soon develops into something very deep and thought provoking.
We start with the boys gigging around their home town of Dundee and trying to get signed. No label was interested. Then, for a laugh, they made some phone calls with an American accent and told people they were from California. Quicker than you can say “apple pie” they are signed to Sony records, playing gigs at Brixton Academy and blowing the massive advance they had been given on booze and women. Continue reading THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX
OTWAY THE MOVIE: ROCK AND ROLL’S GREATEST FAILURE (2013)
Those not familiar with John Otway – which let’s face it, is most of the population – could be forgiven for thinking this is a spoof documentary in the vein of Spinal Tap. Such is the nature of the crazy, wacky, bonkers, over the top, rock and roll extravagance that bounces around inside the head of one of rock’s greatest treasures.
But it is not a spoof, this is the story of a uniquely British eccentric rock and roll legend that has spent the last forty years reaching for the stars, not being put off by what anyone else thinks and, most importantly, not being put off by failure. Continue reading OTWAY: THE MOVIE
When the going gets tough, the tough get rockin’. In response to the refugee crisis that is being played out daily on our TV screens and in the media, this thirty track download only compilation has been put together to raise money for Refugee Action.
Compiled in just seven days, by music journalist David Owens, this mixes the cream of the current crop of Wales’ mainstream rock bands, some of the best of the upcoming bands and a sprinkling of previously unreleased and live tracks that have not seen the light of day until now. Continue reading REACH OUT: WELSH ROCK FOR REFUGEES
SICK LIVERS: Mid Liver Crisis (Glunk Records + Baldy Longhair Records 2015)
Ever since Chuck Berry first picked up his guitar the term rock ‘n roll has been evolving. It is now used to describe anything from a Motorhead gig, through the act of throwing a TV out of the window to cookery. The Sick Livers, however, are as close as you will get in the 21st Century to the true meaning of rock ‘n roll without donning beetle crushers and a drape jacket.
They kick off with a song about fashion – and giving a nod to the film Full Metal Jacket (This is my Denim), then rattle through songs about girls (You Make Me Wet), songs about drinking (One Man Stag Do) and sometimes about girls and drinking (I Wanna be a Jager Girl). Continue reading THE SICK LIVERS: MID LIVER CRISIS
THE SPORADICS: Fight Truth Decay (Pumpkin Records 2015)
Laying their cards on the table with the opening track, ‘Festival # 23’, The Sporadics make sure you know they are most at home in a muddy field with a crate of cider, surrounded by mates, falling over fires and turning sleeping comrades into human Buckaroos.
But this, their second album, is anything but crusty brew crew shouty nonsense. They knock out some of the finest ska-punk-dub you will find on any stage anywhere. The rhythm section produce dubtastic bass lines and driving, pounding drum beats. Layered over the top we have guitar that floats between sharp skanking chops and hard melodic riffs.
If that were not enough, the vocals have a clarity few punk bands even attempt, let alone achieve. The lyrics tackle issues few bands could take on without resorting to sloganeering or just sounding pompous. No pomposity here though, as singer Shaun has a knack for taking a serious subject and turning it into poetry, but still managing to keep it danceable.
The now sadly defunct independent news media outlet ‘Schnews’ gets a song named after it to make sure we do not forget it – as if we could. The famous strap line “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention”, says it all, but the point is slammed home with lines like: “The currency they pedal here, propaganda, lies and fear. It’s been the same from year to year, now here’s the latest news, question everything they do, turn your TV off today”.
‘VAT’ (Value Added Terror) talks of the big brother tactic of making you fear your neighbours, ‘Broken Britain’ references the dumping of working people on the scrap heap and ‘Conflict’ reminds us that the capitalist system thrives on war and – erm – conflict.
‘Itchy Dub’, as the name suggests, drops the pace a little and gets dubby. It talks of broken democracy and profit making from the services we rely on, but hints that the time of reckoning might not be far away. “You disregard and disrespect the people of this land, what goes around will surely come around, you try to take our dignity and kick us to the floor, then wonder why we burn your buildings down”.
‘Used to be a punk’, challenges the idea that you can be an ex-punk. With punk being an attitude, either you have got the attitude or you don’t. If you don’t, you were just a fashion victim who didn’t really get it anyway.
‘Debt Crisis’ is about what it says on the tin, whilst ‘National Lies’ talks of the scapegoating of Johnny foreigner that so often is used by the right during an economic downturn. “Our children don’t see colour, they just want to play with each other, hate is something learned, its time the tide was turned.” As the lyrics to ‘lies’ unfold we get some of the heaviest guitaring on the album mixing with some of the dubbiest moments, perhaps giving us the perfect introduction to the band for the uninitiated.
We return to the subject of reclaiming our country with ‘Tear down the law’, just before slowing down slightly and suggesting the positivity of ‘Love’ and hope may be the answer in the long run.
Winding up the album we have ‘Poem for the fallen’, a tribute to Crispin Baker, festival legend, who was taken from us earlier this year. It is basically a poem with minimal acoustic guitar and the sound of a crackling fire in the back ground.
And then it’s gone. Twelve tracks is not enough, you want more. But then again, if this were a triple album, you would still want more. At least you have the beautiful packaging and lyric booklet treasure and return to time and again while we wait for the third album (you can have minutes of endless fun looking for the deliberate spelling mistake).
Clearly the band have been influenced by a few notable big players on the ‘anarcho-ska-punk-dub’ scene, but it would be churlish to reference them here, cos these guys are no imitators. As Picasso once said, “good artists copy, great artists steal”, and these thieving bastards have stolen the crown jewels, melted them into something of their own and can stand proudly on stage next to the best of them.