With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Tough Crowd’ – Nervus September 3, 2019

Around eighteen months ago 3 Songs & Out gave me the opportunity to review Nervus’ 2018 album ‘Everything Dies’ and I found it to be a great album and I still listen to it now. The band is about to release their third album ‘Tough Crowd’, due to smash its way into the world on September 27th courtesy of Big Scary Monsters Records. It was recorded at the Ranch in Southampton and produced by Neil Kennedy Is it as good as their last album? No, it’s not, it is even better! There is social and political commentary, notably on the hook-laden slower tune “They Don’t”. There is perhaps slightly less anger in this album than in its predecessor, but it is still there and handled with great control which gives it so much more impact. The songs tackle subjects that really need to be addressed and confronted; austerity, fascism and the ecology to name just a few. This is most notable in “Piss”, which might well be about right-wing arseholes. There are some wonderful melodies, riffs, and hooks on show throughout ‘Tough Crowd’ and these often generate a feeling of hope set against the at times very dark lyrics. My favourite couplet is probably “you blame the hangman, but you’re holding the noose” from “Engulf You”. The chorus of “Fake” has Em singing “I Don’t Wanna Be Fake” in perhaps her best vocal performance on this record. I think it is clear from this LP and their previous releases that whatever you might see Nervus as they are never fake. This is a band that is not afraid to confront haters, homophobes, nazi wankers, self-centered, lying politicians and anyone else that deserves to be challenged and taken down. Nervus don’t just play to punk ideals, they live by them. Punk happened to allow newer bands to continue to fly the flag for the downtrodden and the oppressed. I am glad I am on the same side as Nervus!

The first single “Flies” deserves a much wider audience and contains an array of angry, venomous lyrics which I assume are about a soured relationship. “You’re Dead, at least you are in my head”, tells me that I definitely would not like to get on the wrong side of Nervus! “No Nations” is a song of hope for the planet and never giving up, whatever the obstacle. Not a bad mantra to live by in my opinion. For me, the most inspiring song on the album is “Burn”. This is what humanity should be about; listening more than speaking, sharing and “We don’t need heroes, we need faith” sums this song up perfectly and encapsulates all of its acoustic beauty and passion. The harmonies on this song are immaculate. This is a song that would not be out of place in the Levellers canon. I was reminded of Weezer back in their prime in the style and delivery of “Inconvenient Truth” although clearly, the lyrics are most definitely Nervus. Overall ‘Tough Crowd’ is the bands most accomplished album to date and on this evidence, this is a band that will just keep on improving. I am sure that Em, Paul, Kenny, and Luce are proud of this staggeringly good collection of songs and so they should be. As a footnote, I love interacting with Nervus on social media, particularly Twitter. They are eloquent, spunky, passionate and sometimes laugh out loud funny! Give this album one listen and if you feel that you don’t need it in your life after that then you probably need to have your musical taste examined!

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‘Year Zero’ – The Spitfires June 20, 2018

Watford ska punks (although they are far more wide ranging and eclectic than that genre suggests) the Spitfires have a new album, their third, coming out on 27th July on Hatch Records it is called ‘Year Zero’. If you like the Specials, the Ruts, Madness, the Clash, dub reggae and Paul Weller you will love this lot. They formed in 2012 and have released two previous albums; ‘Response’ in 2015 and ‘A Thousand Times’ came out the following year. I love a British band that doesn’t follow the cliché of enunciating rock music in a fake American accent and Billy Sullivan lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Spitfires is very British in his delivery.

The band lay down their political credentials throughout this record, opening track starts with a sweet, haunting, delicate keyboard piece from George Moorhouse and then kicks into a full on punky guitar riff and ska beat that drives the anger in the lyrics. “don’t you ever apologise for being young and speaking your mind” is definitely a mantra that today’s youth should stick to. The dub drone opening to “Something Worth Fighting For” is evocative of Big Audio Dynamite with Paul Weller on vocal duties, possibly the best song on this collection. Personally I love bands that are not afraid to make social commentary, protest and political songs and the Spitfires do all that with passion, conviction and soul.

There is an abundance of soul, passion and real emotion in the powerful ballad “By My Side” with an almost ethereal counterpoint vocal harmony provided by Emily Capell, a fresh new singer songwriter from North West London. The muzak styled organ sound on “Move On” would make Jerry Dammers proud. I can hear prime period Dexys Midnight Runners on “Sick Of Hanging Around” mainly in the brass and Kevin Rowland style vocal. Billy Sullivan’s anger at society hits its peak on the riff laden Jam-esque “The New Age”. Title track “Year Zero” is a synth driven ska noise fest that cannot fail to get you moving, although for me that title song is way too short. I have already mentioned singer Billy Sullivan and supremely talented keyboard wizard George Moorhouse, but the underlay that keeps this band together is the staggeringly brilliant rhythm section of bass man Sam Long and versatile drummer Matt Johnson. You need to buy, download or stream the album when it hits the world next month, you will not be disappointed. The band embark on a lengthy UK tour later this year and into 2019. If you haven’t seen them yet, get your damned tickets now! (dates below). I am planning on getting to the York show in February.

Fri 05 Oct – Southend, Chinnerys
Sat 06 Oct – Norwich, Arts Centre
Fri 02 Nov – Dover, Booking Hall
Sat 03 Nov – Brighton, Patterns
Fri 09 Nov – Leamington Spa, Zephyr Lounge
Sat 10 Nov – London, Islington Assembly Hall
Thu 15 Nov – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
Fri 16 Nov – Glasgow, Broadcast
Sat 17 Nov – Edinburgh, Mash House
Fri 23 Nov – Bristol, Fiddlers
Sat 24 Nov – Exeter, Cavern
Thu 29 Nov – Newcastle, Cluny
Fri 30 Nov – Carlisle, Old Fire Station
Fri 07 Dec – Leeds, Hi Fi Club
Sat 08 Dec – Northampton, Roadmender
Fri 25 Jan – Belfast, Limelight 2
Sat 26 Jan – Dublin, Workman’s Club
Fri 08 Feb – Sheffield, Plug
Sat 09 Feb – Manchester, Gorilla
Fri 15 Feb – Hull, Fruit
Sat 16 Feb – York, Fibbers
Fri 22 Feb – Cardiff, The Globe
Sat 23 Feb – Liverpool, O2 Academy 2


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