Archive for the 'Punk' Category

Album – A Fifth of Nowhere – Jonny Dongel

Posted by admin on 22nd June 2008

Not wishing to insult Jonny, if “Jonny Dongel” is indeed his real name, but I can’t help but put him along side the likes of Jilted John and Buster Bloodvessel as names that conjure up fond memories. In Jonny’s case it’s the fact that his music takes me back to my last days of junior school, 1978, when Jilted John’s self titled single was riding high in the UK charts. This whole album, is full of pent up anger, aggression, love, hate and the kitchen sink. Think punk, new wave, powerpop and you’ll be pretty close to the album that is “A Fifth of Nowhere”

Nearly every song on this album, has that boozed up, chanting, singalong factor. The last tracks that I can remember sharing this same quality were Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall”. “Snocker Snog and Shag” alludes to many a favourite past time and really sets up the album very nicely. The title track “A Fifth of Nowhere” gives more of the same. “The Cause” with it’s high octane guitar and drums, takes a slightly different turn. With it’s slightly harder edge, it’s more rock than punk, but it still has that hallmark sound.

“Sorry Simon” is the track that’s garnered much interest, especially with podcasts and rightly so. This track kind of reminds me of a Sex Pistols track, with two fingers firmly raised at Simon Cowell, the acerbic and often downright cruel judge on both the US and Britain’s Idol talent show. It’s one of those tracks, like “Jilted John” that could very well take the charts by storm if given the chance.

Of the 11 tracks here, 4 really stand out, “Sorry Simon” being one of them. “Radio Caroline” is another, written about the pirate radio station, anchored off the UK coast during the 60’s. The others are “Mighty Irish” and the track that closes the album “Here for the Music”. The other tracks are all in the same spirit and while they’re all highly enjoyable, I can’t help but worry that this is an album that’s going to have a limited appeal, as if you tire with one song, you’ll probably tire of them all.

Conclusion : A real blast of an album, that’s fun and greatly captures the spirit of summer. While I do have concerns that as most of the songs are all pretty much in the same mould, you may tire of it more quickly than other albums. However I can well see this album being dusted off from time to time and reliving it all over again, with an air guitar and attitude, but most importantly a smile.

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Album – Mr Love and Justice – Billy Bragg

Posted by admin on 23rd April 2008

  • Band / Artist : Billy BraggmySpace
  • Genre : Folk Rock / Punk
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

Billy Bragg is one of those artists who makes no secret of his political affiliations. Even on his website, he describes himself as a political activist. Growing up, I had many friends whose political leanings were influenced more by music, than the actual issues surrounding the various parties, this left me a little jaded and I have to admit, barring a few of Billy’s big hits, I kept a pretty wide berth.

Forward wind a good few years, when eMusic was a newbie service, I was fortunate enough to be on at the ground floor, when my $15 got me unlimited downloads. Ah those were the days, loading up on anything that took even my slightest whim. I downloaded Warren Zevon, Joe Strummer and lo and behold, there were several albums by Billy Bragg. What did I have to lose, so I downloaded Don’t Try This at Home and William Bloke. These were the first albums I’d ever listened to of Billy’s and imagine my surprise when I found they were actually quite good. It seems as the years have rolled by, Billy’s angst and cynicism had eased and what is now bubbling through, is great singer songwriting. That’s not to say Billy hasn’t done anything in the preceding years, New England is a particular favourite and I’m sure there are many other tracks that have gone under my radar, but I think his accessibility is now less of a barrier to entry.

So several more years have passed since those purchases and a few weeks ago, I found a copy of Billy’s new album, Mr Love and Justice in my mailbox. I was looking forward to giving this CD a spin, but was still a little apprehensive. I was really hoping this was going to be a further development of those more recent albums and I was not disappointed. From the first song “I Keep Faith” , that unmistakable voice is fused with some wonderful lyrics and musical accompaniment that blends effortlessly into a magical combination. Admittedly Billy’s voice is not the sweet sound of todays boy bands, but it’s also no Leonard Cohen. This is an album more of narrative and emotion, than some airhead, pretty boy vocalist. “I Almost Killed You” has just a wonderful opening, with clapping hands, acoustic guitar and harmonica, evoking a strong atmosphere and resulting in a great song.

“You Make Me Brave” is a more mellow and reflective song, which is just a joy to listen to, even though the air of melancholia is heavy, it’s an air that smells sweet and fresh. “Something Happened” continues the downbeat mood, but now instead of mellow acoustic guitar, we have distorted electric guitars and blues harmonica. “Mr Love and Justice”, the title track, may not be the killer track, that I usually expect from a title track, but it’s hard to really have anything to say against it.

“If You Ever Leave” has a slightly different feel to the rest of the tracks, but it certainly doesn’t feel out of place. “The Johnny Carcinogenic Show” certainly stands out not just for it’s distinct name, but also it’s theme against smoking. I suppose Billy Bragg, wouldn’t be Billy Bragg, if it he didn’t at least have one in your face message track, but when the tracks sound this good, who cares. Rounding off with “Farm Boy” this is probably my least favourite track on the album, but it’s still an interesting track, if a little lacklustre.

Conclusion : If like me, you’ve ever steered clear of Billy’s works, now may be the time to get yourself acquainted. As the years have rolled by, so have the in your face political statements, although I’m sure there’s some there, waiting to be uncovered, you can take from this album what you want. I thoroughly enjoyed this album from the first time I put it on and the opening song begun. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

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