U.K. Subs play the Schüür, Lucerne, Switzerland
CHARLIE HARPER - vocals & harmonica
JET - guitar
ALVIN GIBBS - bass
JAMIE OLIVER - drums
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The following news story appeared on T&M:
One more brilliant review of XXIV
Dave Fungalpunk reviews the new Subs album XXIV on his fabulous 'fungalpunknature' website and concludes that the "...the acoustic side... wins hands down!"
"It seems almost pointless telling you to buy this because I have no doubt it will sell like hot cakes - and so it should - a strong effort with a few weak points but much to pogo to, much to chill to, and much to appreciate. Y please!"
Read the full review on the Fungalpunk website - click here
Archived on T&M below:
UK SUBS - XXIV
And still we travel onwards with the hardest working punk band of all time. No other crew even comes close to a band that have been my faves since the day dot. There has always been a believability about this unit and the continuation of one long slog against apathy and indifference is at last paying true dividends and the 'Subs' are cementing their place in musical history. The fact that they clock up numerous gigs, are still releasing CD's in accordance with the alphabet is fuckin' marvellous and the collect-o-maniacs amongst us just can't get enough. Who would have thought at such a late stage as this (2013) we would be getting a twenty six track release filled with a diversity of sound and with still more to come? Amazing but...is this album as good as the hype out here. Many are jumping on a band wagon they were happy to watch pass by many moons ago, many are claiming to be all time Subs fans when in truth they aren't - you gotta be careful tha' knows. I'll take this one as it comes and we'll be thoroughly fair throughout and try to remain as unbiased as possible - difficult but have no fear - honesty is always best and after all - it is just one mans humble, enthusiastic opinion!
There are 2 sides to every story and I like to dip into one, then out, then into the other - hence the approach of pinging back and forth here between the full on band and the acoustic (buy the album and all will become clear).
Track one and a savage machine-like lust spills out in multifaceted 'fuck you' fashion with electric heat supplied and then aggression bursting centre stage. We are pelted with many grenades before a nail-gun takes us into the piston pumping radioed thrust of the first manic verse - the chorus is a simple matter of course statement with Harpers recognisable nasal grunt a pleasure. Rawness ensues, we are shaken up with a unorthodox racket, fuck-wits will miss the point - this is no easy bastard to grab and throttle. We enter a haunting where guitar is left to ponder amongst a myriad of needful whisperings. All hell explodes, the riff on to an orchestral showdown, the emotions rise from deep within the gut and spill out through tears of excitement - do not judge too soon - this is hefty artillery. As a counterpunch to this opening blast is the beginning of the acoustic set, with the crystallised clarity of 'Angel Of Eighth Avenue'. This is a solid song as crisp and dreamy as you could hope for with every strum a seeming tactile tug on the heart strings. The vocal input is precise and yankified somewhat, the layers of feeling within reach, the professionalism (still hate that word) noticeable - the band have much to offer this time around. 1 - 0 to side one I feel!
'Coalition Government Blues' is laden with harmonica angst and surges in with mighty munching of the melodic maw. We clear out, gob states against the dirty drip of the six-string tap - the chorus increases flow - nasty man! The effort breaks into a high sun-roasted instrumental, the bands heart is beating with the toon dude, we have lyrics that spout against the political piss-take we find ourselves in - yeah - throwback stuff that the crew do well when they want to. Forward and in opposition is 'Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind', Gibbs puking out his ravings against a scuttling string piece full of lucidity and exact routine. The oral offering falls and rises in tone, the intonation is of sub-desperation/apology, the switch off midway when a reassessment takes place is thoughtful - yes - keep throwing these spanners in the one way works. Close call - I am calling this CD all level at this stage!
'Speed' is deliberate punkage, with a buzz saw cutting through resistance. An open wound with an overly stated style that lacks high melody. If one was a pig one could expect more - I am a swine and do expect more. When the song picks up the baton and runs more interest is kindled - but alas we go back to the screwed up automated approach - not the greatest track! To banish this lower point we have the opposing end of 'Metamorphosis', a fuckin' crackin' effort that bursts with hope, love, admiration. Charlie goes solo and whispers to lofty triumph with a gorgeous song dripping with tenderness and care. The whoa hoa's towards the final wind out add texture - an accomplished moment without too much fuss. The acoustic side goes ahead folks! 'Rabid' belts in after the first can is opened, spraying bullets of violence all over the whitewashed walls of indifference - this is a brutal episode of sub-hardcore with all foaming at the mouth and snarling strongly. The bass is muscular and backs up the guitar with loaded intent, the drums rape the rhythmic orifice and perpetually slam away and judder with nothing short of focused mania. This way, that way, up yours - have some! Totally wired and cramming so much into one frenzied explosion - classy! 'Sleeping Rough' has a lot to deal with and boldly strides to the fore with big pompous strums before getting its arse in the groove. A more honest delivery with the impetus attractive and the mode appealing with its busker-do openness. Again I am liking this bare wired offering and despite my preference for hot ass eruptions I am still calling the bonus babies one step ahead.
'Monkeys' I can almost guarantee is the song that will win most instant favour from the Subs army. It certainly got my ears pricked from the opening play and has all the old adornments this lot are renowned for. A real funky squelch guitar intro peels away and leaves a typical snotty verse. The wait for the chorus is rewarded by an absolute pip that just fuckin' does it'. Magnificent stuff, the Subs at their familiar best - no other band on this foul earth could take a song like this and better it - unsurpassable punk puke stinking high of rich intake and tough digested know how! 'Souls From Hell' is more sizzling blue boy danger, soaked in the devils spittle and may it be said...urine! A celebration of the damned, a joyous shout out for the ones with no hope yet every hope in the world. The harmonica is at it again, the fiendish oral organ of the horned one - you know the score - a number that gets ye jigging in a none too decent way! This CD is all square once again though - woo hoo - can we take it?
'Black Power Salute' brandishes a power whip, deeply grinds to balance a people warped equation. A song for the underdog, the oppressed, the ones with a fight on their hands. Strokes come thick and fast, the acoustic ocean is rocking and rolling and the heavens teem with hard rhythmic rain - a nasty moment that hits hard - ooomph. It's opponent is 'Stop Global War', a commune chant, a call to gather together collective minds who are against the horrors of conflict. Sandpapered vocals lead us into a chanted chorus burst, the texture and appearance of the wobbled wires is crisped and glistened, the solo is plucked out with a Wheedon-esque lilt - I like this one - in front goes the acoustic horse once more.
'Las Vegas Wedding' grabs the feel good factor by the hair, drags it around the dance floor, tattoo's it with Subsy ink, encourages fun and frivolity and ends up with a darn good vibe all round. Again typical puke from the overactive orifice of this fine crew and I for one ain't complaining. This is another fave for the 'live' pit. Across the way 'Four Strong Winds' jangles and blows and has a travelling nomadic essence that so often arises from pondering tuneage of this ilk. Slightly dreamy, a hint of fond hope, well aerated and loose wristed in its casualness (no insult intended). Again I find myself drawn to the less aggressive number and am just nudging the way of a 2 - 0 lead for the back end rhythms.
One of the most awkward moments on the CD is the clutterbucket mental health problem known as 'Stare At The Sun'. A Gibbs offering and one loaded with unorthodox routine which, even if I find difficult to digest (which I do), is always applaudable due to the fact that the same old, same old journey has been avoided and arms are chanced. This efforts takes some adjusting to and will be one to sit on further and ponder. I like the heavy handed approach, I like the intent but just feel it trips up here and there and the flow isn't as liquid as it should be - not for me at the mo! 'Higher Tide' pounces on this weaker moment and relates a tale of a restless soul who wants to be off and seeking fresher life. The vocal style is matter of fact and slightly icy, the lyrical content easy as you are, the bursting unity of gobs a nice injection - fuck it - I gotta say there is a lead of 3 now and I think this darn battle is all over!
Subdued guitar from a fizzling station and then in we go to ‘Garden Of Good And Evil’. Regular rhythms, standard Subbage, chugging and opening up, a few clichéd riffs! It is highly listenable but nothing new under the U. K. S. sun. One for the stalwarts who want nothing too risky! 'The Outsider' therefore has little to compete with and foams up with swishing strings before ghostly susurrations enshroud the soul of the rebel and fill it with reinforcing spirit and conviction. This is one of my favourites as I seem to be forever on the external areas of many circles ( I love it there) and so can relate to this with ease. Having dropped out of the shitty routine for a few years once also helps me grasp the intention and the whole approach wins me over, especially with the fact the essence is traditionally wholehearted acoustica - nice one and that, if my calculations are correct, is a quadro lead.
Groovy twist in, a juddering ascent, a beltin' eruption - in we go to the emboldened first verse of 'Worker's Revolution'. The guitars and drums ram home their point and apply a layer of irresistible dinnage on which Chaz can hammer out his mouthy gruffage that comes loaded with a call to arms and candid desire. Less angular in structure than some other tracks, one of the songs I reckon will win most favour from across the broadest spectrum of nasty noise nutters. 'Thunders In The Rain' is at you from many cacophonic corners, especially so as this is another acoustic effort. One to sit on like a good egg and just wait for the favour to hatch! It does get there no matter how long your personal incubation period will be and hey just listen to the gob at work and the relish the salivating passion poured in.
'Wreckin' Ball' next and very much a song and rhythm I have heard before - a rock and roll number injected with a bit of punky filth - only a little mind you as well as some more bluesy vibes. Average indeed and that is all I shall say. I do like the words though - bah! 'Stormy Day' counterpunches and knocks this straggler off its feet with a sure fire winning effort that is absolutely spot on. Carefree, relieving, totally positive and lifting one above the negativity - this acoustic lark seems to be long overdue and after the recent delight that came from an Urban Dogs CD I really am becoming quite an addict. Overall I make this a big six to zero - shocking hey!
'Detox' paces within its own cell and sets a scene, the chorus slams in with easy statements and then we rise on the crest of many chords - the song is made. Repeat, we flow on, the resounding riffage cuts deep, squelching guitars crush resistance - over way too soon - a veritable slip up. What a shame! Luckily it outweighs the nursery rhyme slant of 'Little Black Crow' which I find a little corned within the weave of such six-string accomplishment. I am at the tail end here ya set of bastards - I have the right to be fussy. One back for the A-team.
The acoustica is all dried up, side B is done so we are left with two full on band songs to punch at their will and make the most of some free airspace. 'Failed State' winds itself up into a frenzy and is modern age rebellion that is brimming with a somewhat computerised mania. It gets caught up within its own rhythmic underwear and fails to move into any awkward arena and so stays as a straight ahead hammering - not my favourite. The finale, for this review anyway, the massive 'Momento Mori', a crackin' blemish on the arse of the whole music scene, a fuckin' painful sore one can't resist peering at. Aggressive bass opens, almost head-fucked with a motor one would suggest - we slam on through the routine power-packed verse, crash headlong into the bare-boned slash attack of the chorus - veer around in a frenzied instrumental, repeat, thunder to oblivion and burst into a crescendo of flame - big!
The acoustic side still wins hands down!
That is it, I came in from a different angle, tackled the tuneage of my favourite all time band and came away with a verdict of...! Well the question on most people’s lips is 'is this the best Subs offering to date' - my answer is a simple 'No'. They have some real classics out there and this is good, very good in fact but not a classic however...this may be there most assorted offering to date and that is where the real pride should be found. After all these years the Subs still push on now and again and although a fair bit of usual noise is offered there are many new strains trying to still reach beyond. It seems almost pointless telling you to buy this because I have no doubt it will sell like hot cakes - and so it should - a strong effort with a few weak points but much to pogo to, much to chill to, and much to appreciate. Y please!