STALLED MINDS.

10 12 2017

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France is home to two of my great loves- Rimbaud and the Born Bad record store in Bastille. It is also home to exceptional musicians who have undoubtedly been an influence on the bands I listen to. Paris has an insanely great Punk scene. It’s enough to make you sack off all responsibilities and move there to really immerse yourself in it. Or you can live vicariously through others. It’s the cheaper option.

I’ve written about loads of bands from Paris over the past few years. I don’t seek them out on purpose, it just happens. Accidents are sometimes alright. One band I found today that have immediately won me over are Stalled Minds. Easily one of the loudest and best bands around right now- even though their self-titled release came out two years ago, they still have this exciting and new sound. They make you want to break stuff, they make you want to start a band that is part Bad Brains and part whatever the hell you want so long as it is loud. I’m currently writing this with my housemate’s cat on my bed. I’m looking after him until tomorrow evening, and he’s currently having another nap. Every so often he lets out a snore and I tell you what, he manages to fit it in time with the music. He’s got good taste.

Stalled Minds are the kind of band you want to join and trash basement bars with. You want to lob lukewarm beer over the crowd and go insane to their song, Shit City. They have this energy in their songs that you’ve never quite heard or felt before. They’re a band that you’ll wonder why on earth they aren’t huge, but you treasure them and play the music as loud as your ears can stand.

From what I’ve heard so far, and yes I am late to the party, I just absolutely love their sound. I love how the vocals are sometimes distorted. I love how furiously they play and how it feels like a collective riot. There is such a united sound, and I think that it is one of the many reasons why I love them and why they just sound so great. It’s an impeccable sound that they have crafted and they just sound so effortlessly cool.

A couple members of Stalled Minds are in the equally great Youth Avoiders. I’ll be writing about them real soon too. Both bands play with this infectious fury that sort of eases the mind but also unleashes everything you’ve pent up. Music should be a release, and Stalled Minds take good care of that notion.

If you’re looking for a band to blow your mind and eardrums then listen to Stalled Minds. Listen to them as loud as you can handle, then push yourself to go a little louder. They’ll make you want to start a band, they’ll make you want to go to every live show they ever do. But until you see them, you’ll imagine the show in your mind- covered in sweat and beer.

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NIGHT SHADES: Evil Dreams.

14 11 2017

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Some bands take a while to reach peak greatness. Others just do it immediately. Night Shades are one of those bands who have done it instantly. London’s finest band. A band that sound like they have creeped out from the underworld and have come to take our souls and gnaw at our eardrums. They possess the wonderful manic tones of The Cramps, which for me is just absolutely brilliant.

Last month they put out the remarkable Evil Dreams. It is one of the best things you will hear all year. It will make you forget all the things “critics” have told you to enjoy earlier in the year. Anything you have heard before this may well be ignored. Anything you hear after it just won’t measure up. They make every day feel like a ghoulish holiday. Darker than Halloween. Sinister, eerie and nothing short of hypnotising. For me, they are probably my favourite band in London right now.

Evil Dreams lives up to its title. It has this gloriously evil and twisted feel to it. You feel like you are in a Jack The Ripper biopic. You feel like you are in an Edgar Allen Poe poem- you feel like you are living out historical horrors. You are totally immersed in their wonderful sound. Niall makes the drums sound like gentle crashes against the soul. Clare and Shaun’s vocals are chilling. You feel a cloak of mist fall down as you listen to Golden Hair which then goes into the glorious Cara Mia which shows just how ethereal Clare’s voice is. Their songs are like haunting lullabies. Every single part of you just falls madly in love with each song on this mind-blowing body of work. It feels like you have waited decades and decades to hear something as truly brilliant as this. I am super annoyed I missed the launch of Evil Dreams. Now I just play it constantly and create my own world in my head.

As the days are getting shorter, this is the perfect record to listen to as you make your way home from work as it gets dark. You feel like you’re walking through the underbelly of evilness and possibly moonlighting as Columbo in your head. Stalking the streets to seek out evil. Maybe you’ll stomp it out, maybe you’ll be part of it. Whatever sordid tale you wish to conjure up and be part of, Night Shades have fitting songs on Evil Dreams for you to take part in.

It is easy to get caught up in something when you play it just once, then after a few listens you partially regret how you were so quick to declare something as being great. Night Shades do not make you feel that way. Evil Dreams is something you play and instantly realise you have found something nothing short of perfect, and will undoubtedly be something you keep playing in years to come. Evil Dreams has songs that remind me of hearing The Mummies and The Cramps for the first time. It’s been a while since I felt that, and Night Shades make the waiting worthwhile.

If you’re looking for something to scare you a little bit or if you’re in need of something to give you the creeps to reassure you that you’re still alive- Night Shades are the band for you. Easily. They create this amazing atmosphere on their record that makes you feel as if they are right there in front of you, extending their hand out to yours in order to grab you into this world they have created. Take their hand, don’t let go and allow yourself to delve deep, deep into this charming and creepy world they have created.





THE CRAMPS: Fiends Of Dope Island.

19 09 2017

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So here we are, the last record by The Cramps. In 2003, The Cramps released Fiends Of Dope Island- their eight full length record. It isn’t my favourite record, but thankfully it still has THAT sound that we all knew and love. The sound that defined them. The sound that made them so important and so influential.

I thought writing about all their records would have taken me longer than this. However, from the start I knew it was something I would have to see through. Besides, what else am I going to do with my spare time?

Fiends Of Dope Island opens with Big Black Witchcraft Rock. It’s a heavy song in comparison to what they have previously done. This record is a heavy sounding record and in some parts of the record, it doesn’t completely sound like The Cramps. I know a band shouldn’t make the same sounding record over and over. The Cramps never did that, but you always knew it was them. There is no fault at all in Ivy’s raucous guitar skills- you never could fault her or Lux at all.

There are some great songs on this record such as Dr Fucker M.D (Musical Deviant), Dopefiend Boogie and She’s Got Balls. It is still a brilliant record by them, don’t get me wrong. But I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one. I mean nothing is going to beat A Date With Elvis or Stay Sick! for me but it is still a strong record that sits nicely with their lengthy list of releases.

I love the slick sounds on Taboo, and how Chopper Franklin truly adds something special to this cover. It also shows just how fantastic Lux’s voice was. He sings slightly different on this one. It doesn’t typically sound like him, and I think that’s why this cover really stands out on this record. It is one of my favourite covers they’ve ever done also. I love Hang Up. It’s got Lux sounding quite snarly, and I really love that. I love how he could do anything with his voice. The way he’d sound like every part of him was shaking as he sung. The banshee-like wails he makes on the end of the song are just excellent. It’s one of the best moments on the record for sure. I also think Oowee Baby is one of the songs on the record that sounds typically them. It’s got a sound that reminds me a little of their earlier records.

I feel that Fiends Of Dope Island is slightly darker than their previous records. This record does feel quite heavy. I don’t know if they knew this would be the last record they were going to make or not. It’s hard to tell.  The artwork to the record is creepy. Lux has this demonic look, and it kind of gives you an impression of how they wanted this record to sound. It is dark and it is menacing. I don’t know how this record sits amongst other fans of The Cramps. I’ve played it a few times in a row now prior to writing this and it has grown on me. I really love Dr Fucker M.D- there’s something brilliantly eerie about this song. It sounds like something you would hear playing in a horror film. You can imagine Dr Fucker being this wild doctor who just causes absolute mayhem.

From listening to all of The Cramps records, it has just made me love and appreciate them even more. No other band is ever going to make something as wonderfully sleazy as I Want To Get In Your Pants or something as decadent as Kizmiaz. The Cramps were one-offs. Every single record shows that, and maybe they knew with Fiends Of Dope Island it would be their last. I think they did set out what they had and needed to do. Of course we would have taken more. I wish I was one of the lucky ones who got to see The Cramps. Any line-up, I don’t care. I’d have just loved to have seen them.

So there we have it. All eight records written about. All eight records listened to more carefully than usual, and loved more than before.

Viva The Cramps!

 





THE CRAMPS: Big Beat From Badsville

18 09 2017

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Here comes record number seven with a blazing smack to the choppers. Big Beat From Badsville is the coolest sounding record I ever did hear. Does the record sound as cool as its name? It’s The Cramps! Of course it does! Now, let me give you a few hundred words about why this record will ease any mood, why this record feels like it could be up there as one of the best things you’ll ever hear.

The most important thing to note about this record is that it is the only record by The Cramps that doesn’t have any cover songs in. the brilliant thing about The Cramps is that they make you forget that a chunk of their songs are actually covers. They make it their own. They made whatever genre of music you want to lump them in their own. They are the loudest band you’ll ever need. Hell..they’re the only band you’re going to need.

Big Beat From Badsville came out in 1997. Its 20 years old, and it sounds like it easily could have been one of their first records. Maybe just after A Date With Elvis. The songs are as smutty as ever. They are wonderfully sleazy especially on songs like I Walked All Night, It Thing Hard-On and of course, Like A Bad Girl Should. This record has ALL the hits. It has the songs that you need to play at any party. Just play this record, and go have a great time. You can play it loud whilst at home by yourself, play it to a lover or force friends to listen to it. Whatever your mood, just play this record as loud as you can. If they turn their noses up at these genius-like songs, then kick ‘em out. Then kick out the jams!

This may be their second to last record, and it really doesn’t sound like a bad that had it in them to quit. I reckon if Lux was still here, they’d be busting up stages and giving the kids a seductive fright. Badass Bug is such a brilliant Rockabilly song. You can picture them recording this in the studio and possibly just having the best time imaginable doing so. It’s such a great song to let everything go to. Just flail your limbs about. Do whatever you want!

What I absolutely love about The Cramps is their ability to make you feel utterly free. You can be stuck in a situation that is ruining your soul, but as soon as you play this record it makes you feel so free. They just take you some place that nothing else can. Like A Bad Girl Should is such a filthy song, and if anyone else sang it- you’d probably just dismiss it but Lux does it in a way that just makes you smirk and probably think about the person you lust after. That lust shouldn’t ever fade if you’re with them. Like A Bad Girl Should is an unconventional love song.. I love how out there it is. I love how it sounds a little stalker-ish. Thing is, Lux doesn’t make any of this creepy. I love Devil Behind The Bush- you can easily tell what this is about. You’re probably a prude if you don’t get it. I reckon even the biggest prudes of them all could find a song by The Cramps that they love. Find one, and shock them with a song by The Cramps!

If I was ever looking for a record by The Cramps to reinforce or even justify (as if I need to) my love for them, I’d probably use this one. I love that it is all of their songs. I love how outrageous Lux got with the lyrics on this one. He truly lets it all go on this record, and you know what- it really makes you miss him.





THE CRAMPS: Flamejob

18 09 2017

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Record number six. What could The Cramps give us with their sixth record that they hadn’t already? They didn’t need to prove anything, they never did. Flamejob is one of their most underrated records, and it is easily one of their most boldest records.
If any song summed them up, it has to be I’m Customised. It just describes them fully. One-offs. Entirely rare. Nothing like them since. This is one of their most Rockabilly/Psychobilly sounding records. I think this might be evident the most on Sado County Auto Show. It’s a massively underrated record and it shows just how great Lux and Ivy were at producing records. Flamejob also came out on Creation. I didn’t know that and I feel that I should have. Silly me!

The Cramps took their time in between records, and it shows that a lot of thought, time and care went into these records. The magical thing about The Cramps records is that none of their records consist of fillers. Every single song deserves to be there. Every single song deserves to be heard loud and repeated over and over.

Yet again it is another record by The Cramps that shows just how underrated Poison Ivy is as a guitarist. She is one mean guitarist. Her style is so distinctive and raw. There is nobody else quite like her, and I adore her sound on Strange Love. With every record she just sounds stronger and more determined. Lux and Ivy have always had that. This determination they had together is shown on classic styled songs like Swing The Big Eyed Rabbit. There was something about them that made you realise instantly there was something special about them and what they were going to do.

I feel I haven’t discussed artwork to their records enough, and I know I could have easily done this with the records I’ve written about before. But, there is something about the artwork to Flamejob that really stands out for me. I love that Lux did the artwork, and took this photo of Ivy. I love her stance and how partially futuristic she looks. I love the orange and red giving off the fire background. I love her leather outfit and the way she looks like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Or you might. Depends on what you’re into. This cover is one of my favourites, and I just love everything about how you can tell a lot of thought was gone into it. It’s a precise piece of art- like everything they did. It’s nothing short of stunning.

You can’t help but really get into Mean Machine, Let’s Get Fucked Up, Inside Out and Upside Down (With You)- I could just list the whole record to be honest. Like I said, I reckon this might be one of their most underrated records. I love that Creation put it out also. I definitely need to find myself a copy of this record as soon as I get paid. Or ask someone nicely to get me it for my birthday. It’s got this feel to it that I hadn’t gotten before from their records. Maybe it’s sensing a heavier sound almost, I don’t know. But like I’ve mentioned before- The Cramps had a distinctive sound, and it is always a pleasure to just listen to them.

Flamejob again had Slim Chance on bass, but on drums there was the remarkable Harry Drumdini. The one thing I have always loved about The Cramps is that they always had loud drummers. I love drummers who are unapologetically loud and play with all they have.

Alright so that’s number six done! Go listen to it and make your Monday morning less painful.





THE CRAMPS: Look Mom No Head!

17 09 2017

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I’ve got a few reasons as to why I am excited to write about this record. The main reason being- Iggy Pop is on it! The Cramps AND Iggy?! Oh man..what a time to be alive! I also love the artwork to Look Mom No Head! I think it could be my favourite. This is definitely one of my favourite records by The Cramps too.

The record opens with the dominating Dames, Booze, Chains and Boots. It sounds a little different to what we’ve heard before by The Cramps. The guitar is a lot of heavier on this song, and it just shows how brilliant Ivy is. No one can really compare or compete with her, and she’s truly not given the recognition that she deserves.

There’s one other thing that I need to mention here. The drummer on this record is Jim Sclavunos. That’s right, THE Jim Sclavunos. You probably know him from being part of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. He’s up there as one of the greatest drummers of all time- ask anyone. In 8 days I will FINALLY get to see The Bad Seeds in concert. I’m so excited to see all of them. That’s the closest I’m ever going to get to The Cramps! Jim’s drumming on this record gave The Cramps a different and heavier sound. There is something about this record that takes you aback slightly. It feels like something got stirred inside the band, and Look Mom No Head! was born.

The record is made up of some brilliantly named songs such as Bend Over I’ll Drive, I Wanna Get In Your Pants and Eyeball In My Martini. These songs are just insanely great. Like I said, it’s definitely a heavier sounding record, but that sound of The Cramps that we all adore is still there. That sound never ever left. There was no way it could. They could have done an Opera record and you’d still know it was them. There is something so powerful and distinctive about The Cramps. No one else comes close.

Iggy features on the rowdy Miniskirt Blues. Their voices together is just ridiculous. It is such a fantastic song and the way their voices go together is just amazing. You can’t help but wish that they did more together. Imagine if they did a full record together and took it on tour. It would have been wild. It would have been so sordid and beautifully debauched. Lux and Iggy are two of the greatest frontman and singers of all time, and for them to do this song together is just such a great moment.

Look Mom No Head! is a wild record. Songs like Two Headed Sex Change and Blow Up Your Mind are so good. Two Headed Sex Change is such a ferocious song. I’d have loved to have seen this live. I really love Ivy’s guitar on this one. For me it is definitely one of those songs that make you realise how great The Cramps were. It really does show how amazing they all were and are, as musicians.

I adore how Lux’s voice sounds on I Wanna Get In Your Pants. I would have loved Iggy to have featured on this one too. It’s such a sleazy song, and you cannot help but laugh at some of the things Lux says.

Look Mom No Head! was ahead of its time, like everything The Cramps did. It’s such a filthy and smutty record, and I love it. It’s easily up there as one of my favourite. Not just by them, but of any record. I love how strong they all sound and how it has such a tight sound to it. I could happily play this record over and over. It definitely is the band at their strongest and strangest.





THE CRAMPS: Stay Sick!

16 09 2017

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The thing about The Cramps that I have appreciated more and more as I’ve listened to them and also written about them is that with each record; they got more and more weird. If that was even possible! They did it but by no means did it every sound like they were trying too hard- so far from it. It was just natural progression for them.

I spent a bit of time today watching some live clips, and I honestly don’t think anyone could actually compete with them. Apart from them obviously sounding great, Lux was just the greatest frontman. If you want to put someone up against him and how got the crowd going, that’s fine. But you will lose. He was and always will be the greatest.
Let’s now get into record number four- Stay Sick!


The way Lux controls his voice on The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon is one of my favourite moments on the record. I love that infectious shake he had in his voice. You can just imagine him recording this song, and typically deep-throating the mic to give out certain sounds. He’s the only person who could do it, and not seem like a creep in doing so.

This record is peak smut and filth. God Damn Rock ‘N’ Roll is the perfect song to emulate this, and it’s the way in which Lux sings and the Ivy’s glorious sounds she annihilates on her guitar that make it so perverse in the best way. It’s not the lyrical content in this one, it’s just how it all sounds. I love how Lux just takes down how bland Rock ‘N’ Roll had become. It took guts, especially then and Lux had guts by the tonne. Stay Sick! was produced by Ivy, and it was also the last record that Nick would appear on.

I love All Women Are Bad, and I absolutely love the line; “Save me the label of that perfume on the table. So I can remember what made a wreck of me.” If anyone else sung this, they would just sound utterly whiney. But Lux does it in his own charming way. A way that is evident in every single song/record. When I listen to The Cramps, I can’t help but imagine what it would have been like to have seen them create their records. To see what the atmosphere was like in the studio, to see them perform the songs in an intimate setting and what inspired the lyrics. They are a band that I am constantly intrigued by. For me, and probably everyone else that loves this band this constant wonder and admiration seems to grow and grow with every listen. I always feel like I am discovering them for the first time when I listen to them, and I think that is one of the reasons as to why they are just the best. No contest.

Everything Goes sounds like a sordid affair. It sounds like the aftermath of a bar fight. It’s a totally wild song. If you just read the lyrics, it reads like a beat poem. You can imagine these words being spoken as part of Beat Generation. As a song, it’s so far from that. It’s just a massive insight into nothing being held back. It’s brilliant.


Stay Sick! was released in 1990. If you listen to a lot of the music that came out then, The Cramps easily could have just thrown in the towel or given into the trends. They didn’t. They never ever did. They maintained just how relevant and influential they really were, and for a record like this to come out then was just incredible.

Stay Sick! showed that The Cramps were still going to dominate in a way that only they could- and boy, did they!