Tag Archives: dub-punk

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Surplus Fest Sampler Volume 1 (Surplus 2017)

surplusCan’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)

MWSTARD: Cloc (Self Released 2017)

mwstardBass 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)

AOS3: Far and few

AOS3: Far and few (Self released -2015)aos3 far and few
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

Dub War @ Velvet Coalmine 2015

Dub war Blackwood Miners Institue 01/09/15
Dub war Blackwood Miners Institue 01/09/15

The lights went out, searchlights lit up the sky and the sound of an air raid siren pierced the air. But it was not the Luftwaffe that was coming, it was Dub War.

Twenty years ago Blackwood Miners Institute was an essential stop off for any touring band looking to make a name for themselves. It was also second home to Newport’s Dub War, who tore the roof off the venue several times in their short but explosive existence.

Fitting then, as the Velvet Coalmine crew try to reinstate Blackwood’s place on the national live music circuit, that Dub War, playing only their third gig in eighteen years, should step up to the plate. Continue reading Dub War @ Velvet Coalmine 2015

THE SPORADICS: Fight Truth Decay

THE SPORADICS: Fight Truth Decay (Pumpkin Records 2015)

sporadicsLaying 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.