What can I tell you? I’m an old guy who’s been listening to way too much music way too loud for way too many decades. I regret nothing. Especially not cranking up these albums. Here are the best punk and noise discs I heard this month, in alphabetical order. Click on the cover picture to go to the original review page (where you should also be able to listen to the album in full):
“I’m gonna need you to fuck off.” These Portland noisemakers don’t mince words on their debut album. Nor are they just shooting off their mouths. Over the course of this eight-song, 20-minute firecracker they back up that shit-talk with an impressive arsenal of searing guitar licks, primal drumbeats and a singer who channels the rage and angst of classic British punk. But like those oldsters, they’re also clever enough to lace their tunes with plenty of catchy melodies, singalong choruses and razor-wire hooks.
A great band needs a great origin story. And The Bobby Lees surely have one: Singer-guitarist Sam Quartin formed the band after vacating NYC for Woodstock and recruiting a bunch of skilled teenagers from the local School of Rock. No, seriously. And here’s something else to take serious as cancer: Their highly combustible sophomore album Skin Suit. Rambunctiously swaggering, gleefully unhinged and feverishly blistering, the 13-song set veers wildly between punk, garage-rock, blues, funk, noise and whatever combination of the above they decide to spew at any given moment — along with choice covers of the Chicago standard I’m a Man and Richard Hell’s Lower East Side anthem Blank Generation. Throughout it all, Quartin’s paranoid lyrics and sweaty, wild-eyed bray dose these tracks with an unpredictable, disturbing dementia reminiscent of Royal Trux’s Jennifer Herrema having a psychotic meltdown while fronting Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion.
Good old Boris. The long-running, ultra-prolific Japanese noisemakers are firing on all cylinders on the contrary-soiunding NO, their 27th studio album (and third release in less than a year). On the menu: Their usual homegrown blend of plodding sludge dirges, hard-charging punk and hardcore salvos and cacophonous noise-rock maelstroms — all topped with a mix of torture-victim screams from singer-guitarist Takeshi, with the occasional hit of dark, sweet crooning from keyboardist Atsuo. Just say yes, dammit. Assuming you know what’s good for you.
These fantastically named Australian punks graciously sent me a download of their first album — which I promptly forgot about until they released their second disc in less than a month. On the plus side, it shouldn’t take you nearly as long to get up to speed, since nearly all their songs are short, sharp shots of old-school speed-demon punk, complete with all the piss, vinegar, snot and grit required by unwritten law. But don’t let their provocatively sophomoric handle and self-deprecating shtik fool you — these guys know exactly what they’re doing. And they do it damn well.
Get ready for a hit of primo noise-rock propulsion delivered with searing instensity — with a hefty dose of Krautrock mesmerism — from some North Carolina weirdoes. The next time your next-door neighbour is partying until 3 a.m., crank this up full blast at 6 a.m. They’ll either be hammering on your door begging for mercy — or begging to know who this is.
British folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner has apparently never heard a song he didn’t love. Whereas American pop-punk troublemakers NOFX have apparently never heard a song they didn’t love to fuck with. You might think that makes them a poor match for a split covers album. But you’d be wrong. The 10-track West Coast vs. Wessex is an unexpectedly enjoyable meeting of musical minds that allows both artists to express their admiration for the other while also expressing themselves.