IT’S GOOD TO SPEAK EVEN IF NOBODY IS LISTENING – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE HANDSOME FAMILY

by Lewis Martin

On March 20th I had the pleasure of interviewing The Handsome Family as a part of their tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Through the Trees. I interviewed Rennie Sparks, half of the band’s duo, about the difference the band offers from the usual Americana band (and if they are even an Americana band), what it’s like releasing music under your own label, and if being in the spotlight makes their message more powerful.Continue Reading

THE ONLY WAY WE KNEW HOW TO DO IT WAS THE WAY THAT WE DID IT – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE BELLRAYS

by Rowan Gavin 

Since their formation in the early ‘90s, Californian Rock & Rollers The BellRays have befuddled the expectations of music media and the industry, just as much as they have thrilled audiences. They’ve taken an open-minded approach to the genre that has defined American music for the past seven decades, and they’ve been an independent outfit that whole time.

The BellRays have self-published their nine albums through a variety of independent labels, including Upper Cut and Alternative Tentacles. 2017 saw the release of EP Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 1, the long-awaited follow up to 2010’s Black Lightning, and last month gave us the album-length Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 2. I caught up with Lisa Kelaula & Bob Vennum, the band’s permanent members, before they went on stage at Norwich Arts Centre last Friday.Continue Reading

HOLD A DANCE TO SOLIDARITY – LIGHTS DOWN, IN EVIL HOUR REVIEW

by Chris Jarvis 

Following up on the incendiary Built on Our Backs EP in 2015, Darlington’s darlings of hardcore In Evil Hour are back, this time with their second full-length release – Lights Down. In the age of an emboldened far right, intensified hawkishness in the international military arena, and revelations of the worst excesses of neoliberalism with the likes of the Grenfell disaster, Lights Down is a much needed and timely response.Continue Reading

SOUTH LONDON PUNK COLLECTIVE: INTERVIEW WITH MINDFRAME

by Tim-F

Sometimes you just stumble upon good things. Last year I went down to Stockwell to see Perma War and as per usual got there very early but on this occasion that was good. I got chatting to Ollie – one of the gig organisers, and the guitarist for Mindframe who were due to play that night.

Due to train times I had to leave early and missed their set but not before an interview was agreed. In the following months I listened to their music on Bandcamp and caught a couple of videos: intelligent, well crafted, danceable old school punk. Check out ‘Slumped and Dumped’ from the EP of the same name and try to keep your head still.Continue Reading

THE WHITE BOY’S GUIDE TO GANGSTA RAP

by Mike Vinti

Since its inception gangsta rap has been a thorn in the side of the establishment. Brash, violent and loud, its explosion in the late 80s and 90s tore up the rule book of hip hop and reshaped the genre in its own image, introducing the world to the harsh reality of life on the streets of black America. With the cinematic release of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ a week away (August 15th) it only seems fitting to look back at some of gangster rap’s greatest and explore its legacy thirty years on.

Gangsta rap is hip hop’s bratty younger brother, fed on the social conscious rhymes of early hip hop but filled with the anger of a generation excluded from the yuppie party of the eighties.  Like punk before it, its church is broad, ranging from the smooth, sun-drenched rhythms of G-Funk, to the hard edged, sample heavy boom bap of Wu Tang Clan. Frequently criticised by those on the left and the right for glorifying violence and misogyny, scapegoated for the prevalence of crime in black communities, and beloved to many a hip hop head, the story of gangsta rap is the story of poverty in America, as relevant to this day as it was back in ’86.Continue Reading

RADICAL REVIEW: VINCE STAPLES – SUMMERTIME ’06

by Mike Vinti 

Introducing the Radical Review; a semi-regular feature focusing on one artist or album in depth, getting to grips with the work in question and its politics.

Given the recent tragedies in the US, it seems appropriate to kick things off with California rapper Vince Staples’ debut album Summertime ‘06.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Vine Staples is no stranger to the dark and conflicted oeuvre that Summertime ’06 pedals. Emerging on the scene 4 years ago as a loose affiliate of Odd Future, Vince has always dealt with the harsh reality of life in his hood of Long Beach California (LBC to you Nate Dogg fans out there). His most known track ‘Nate’ deals with his childhood, watching his father hustle, selling drugs and going to prison in order to provide for their family, and much of his other work dwells on the same themes.Continue Reading

NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS

by Mike Vinti

Earlier this week it was announced that Virgin Money will be putting out a series of credit cards bearing classic Sex Pistols iconography. The reaction to this has been pretty much universally horrified, as well it should — but really, what did everyone expect?

From the start the Sex Pistols were more about the image than integrity, they swapped Glen Matlock, the band’s only songwriter, for Sid Vicious because Matlock wasn’t punk enough; they let Malcolm McLaren run the show so long as they got paid, and last time anyone even thought about Johnny Rotten was when he did those fucking butter adverts. Virgin Records was the home of the ‘Pistols following their split from EMI and released the bands only studio album to date, the only thing shocking about the new credit cards is the fact it took them 30 years to come up with the idea.

Now this isn’t to say that the Sex Pistols are without merit. Or that you shouldn’t be disgusted by the prospect of some yuppie Richard-Branson-wannabe popping into his local branch of ‘Champagne and Fromage’ to buy some brie with his new ‘Anarchy for the UK’ credit card. But can we please let go of the idea that punk begins and ends with Johnny Rotten and co?Continue Reading