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THE MIGHTY CRAVATS release new seven-inch vinyl Shy on Overground Records on 6 September 2019.

Available for pre-order from the Overground Records site, this new slice of Cravatee goodness features the tracks Shy and Good for You.

The cover of The Cravats' single Shy, released in 2019

A new 7inch single from The Cravats? What does this one sound like then?

Really? Okay, it sounds like an invisible Land Rover full of grimacing stoats, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere backwards . . . .

Does that help? Nah, thought not. Best have a listen.

It’s called Shy and is a song of malevolent mutant Motown about er, being shy.

Shy? The Cravats don’t exactly come across as reticent, retiring members of the human race. For a start their frontman is the size of a combine harvester for heaven’s sake.

Well, they are. Everyone is, but some spend a lifetime pretending they’re not or they wear a clown mask.

Rather than locking it up, why not shout about it. Embrace Alan Anxiety in your head and wave it like a flag in the face of your flustered fellows.

Also it’s not necessarily a bad thing as those feelings of apprehension have stopped you doing a whole heap of damned stupid things throughout your life. Running across the road in front of that bloody big lorry, going to that party full of wassocks and of course wearing flip flops or bungee jumping.

It’s ruddy nature watching out for you so let’s dance in defiance.

The B Side, Good For You is the opposite and therefore not like Shy at all. Best have a listen.

Shy is taken from the forthcoming Cravats LP due for release on Overground Records in February 2020.

Whenever I start to feel important, I think ‘well, I never did much for The Cravats and I didn’t stop Toyah’ – JOHN PEEL

Great to hear a saxophonist playing riffs… This group are vicious in their intent, yet relaxed taste abounds – MARK E. SMITH

One of the greatest bands in the history of music – HENRY ROLLINS

I still have every Cravats record I know of – JELLO BIAFRA

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Slice of Life - Don't Turn Away - album - cover

Review: Slice of Life. 2019. Don’t Turn Away. Overground Records. LP | CD | digital download. Released 16 August 2019.

FOR A PROJECT that emerged from discussions amongst a bunch of musicians biding their time in airport departure lounges in the closing weeks of The Last Supper tour, Slice of Life has proved to be a remarkablly productive and a resilient musical collaboration. From the moment the band formed, its live and studio activities have wrapped around the other commitments of band members for whom it’s far from their only creative outlet.

As Slice of Life’s identity has crystallized, the band has shown itself just as home on the stage of major festivals as it has been at tiny, cramped punk shows or when holding court at art centres, micro-pubs and other quirky venues across the country and beyond. When it comes to longevity, by the turn of this year, Slice of Life will have been in existence longer than Schwarzenegger (1992-95), Stratford Mercenaries (1995-99) or, for that matter, Crass (1977-84).

As a live act, Slice of Life is definitively Ignorant’s show. He’s ably backed by his trio of talented musicians, but it’s Ignorant who fronts the act, handles the introductions, tells the jokes, delivers the side-stories and pulls the reminiscences and recollections from memory while the band await the next musical cue. Away from the live experience, when you listen to the band’s studio work, the material is immediately reframed in a more collaborative light.

This latest release shows the band growing in collective musical confidence… The result is a compelling mixture of the melancholic and the militant

Don’t Turn Away offers a collection of impassioned, emotionally literate, heartfelt songs which alternate between the empathic and the indignant with an equal sense of confidence. Extending the lyrical vista of 2014’s Love and a Lampost, this material sees Ignorant exploring the themes of personal frailties, of self-doubt and of mental resilience alongside wider concerns of resistance and righteous rebellion. This latest release shows the band growing in collective musical confidence, while frontman Steve Ignorant’s lyrical preoccupations see him move further into more personal, reflective areas alongside wider social and political concerns. The result is a compelling mixture of the melancholic and the militant.

The spartan, stripped back sounds of the band provide few hiding spaces and without the comfort of volume and projection it’s hugely important that they’re tight and rock solid. Carol Hodges brings both a power and a disarming, lilting quality to her work on keyboards, setting the emotional tone for many of the songs. She’s also an extraordinarily accomplished vocalist, although only gets the chance to really show those talents on a few songs here. Pete Wilson on guitar and Pete Rawlinson on bass have developed a great partnership, and in the studio it’s even more evident how effectively the pair craft a rich, full soundscape through clever musical choices and astute understatement.

They craft a space in which Ignorant can make best use of the power of restraint or fully let rip. Ignorant is completely at home belting it out there, but here he allows the quietness of his vocals on different numbers to reveal the vulnerability of a voice pushed to the edges of this singer’s comfort zone. In thinking through his delivery, Ignorant makes great play in his phrasing of hitting (or deliberately sliding past) the subtle percussive beats of the band.

Title track Don’t Turn Away sets the tone perfectly; framing the album’s key creative tension between razor-sharp and sometimes bitter lyrics and beautiful, unfussy acoustic musical arrangements. The seething, barely contained rage of Your Day Will Come, its tense, terse invective pushing against the lightness of the jazz-infused melody, its disarming singsong textures and its rich vocal harmonies.

The Right Way shares a similar juxtaposition, its delicate musical motifs providing a perfect backing for Ignorant’s storytelling. This time his ire is directed towards the self-obsessed keyboard warriors of the web, whose arrogance and disdain can often hide resentful self-doubt. (Its simple but seductive chorus is also an irresistible earworm).

S.A.D. is a thoughtful and sensitive appreciation of mental health challenges, depression first among them. Its explores the sense of weakness and vulnerability that can overwhelm those afflicted by its darkness, and urges empathy and honesty in confronting the stigma and silence. It’s one of the most powerful and affecting moments on the album.

A thoughtful, personal statement of outrage which sees Ignorant push his voice to the point of cracking with the strength of his conviction

The Story Continues might sound more like the title of a Conflict song, but this is a more intricate and its layered affair, with the feel and texture of a confidential late night fireside chat about the iniquities of the world. Song for Myself sees Ignorant calling once again on the spirit of Alan Sillitoe (author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning) to deliver another melancholic and beautifully atmospheric reflection on self-doubt, loneliness ageing, endurance and personal resilience (“The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Gigger”, perhaps?)

The joyous Diffability sees Ignorant channelling Ian Dury’s songbook, in a riotous and sympathetic shout-out to the weirdos, the outsiders and the “non-normal” of the world in a celebration of uniqueness and individuality. It’s the most straightforwardly upbeat song in the collection, and benefits from that contrast.

Three songs on the album have evolved from the time that Ignorant was fronting Stratford Mercenaries. Slaughterhouse is as passionate an acoustic number as it was as the frothy singalong Won’t Get Me on the 1998 album No Sighing Strains of Violins. Originally appearing on the same album, Stretford Blue is always a highlight of the Slice of Life live set, lit up by Ignorant’s raging vocals as he takes aim at the posturing and plastic rebellion of those who profit from the system they profess to despise (Hodges’ singing is completely ace on this too). Stratford Mercenaries’ song This is Our World here morphs into the fantastic and fitting endpoint Whistle Down the Wind, a thoughtful, personal statement of outrage which sees Ignorant push his voice to the point of cracking through the strength of his conviction.

This is a powerful, assured, convincing set of songs that show Ignorant setting down a marker and asserting his own independence of thought. Back in 2011, The Last Supper tour generated criticism as well as excitement, but that sense of hostility seems to have quietened, affording him more space to perform and switch between whichever voice from his repertoire (from full-on punk to reflective acoustic artiste) he chooses. Next year’s tour of Crass songs will see him reinhabit the former; it’ll be fascinating to see where his experimentation with his other musical and lyrical personas will take him next. On the strength of this album, who the hell would want to turn away from finding out?

Slice of Life. 2019. Don’t Turn Away. Overground Records. LP | CD – Available from Overground Records.

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LAUNCHING AT REBELLION this weekend is a new six song vinyl, CD and digital download EP from Hagar the Womb.

Released by Grow Your Own Records, Hagitate will be made available as a 10-inch six track vinyl (pressed in a glorious red and black marbled design) complete with lyric booklet, as a CD (with gatefold cover and booklet) and as a digital download.

Hagar the Womb - Hagitate - Grow Your Own Records

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The Cravats - Precinct - single re-issue sleeve

THE LIMITED EDITION vinyl re-release of The Cravats’ Precinct single is selling out predictably fast.

First issued on the Small Wonder label in August 1980, Precinct has been re-issued by Overground Records (following on from similar loving treatment of the Gordon and Burning Bridges releases), with each numbered copy accompanied with a set of intriguing ‘Cravfacts’ and the previously not-that-easy-to-decipher lyrics.

Although The Cravats are forging forward into the future with an exciting new single and LP due in the coming months, they haven’t forgotten the past or the fact that few folk were lucky enough, at the time, to purchase their classic Small Wonder single releases.

First single Gordon was re-released last year.

The End featuring Burning Bridges, The End and, the classic, I Hate The Universe also got the same treatment in 2018 with a whole art department of skilled craftsmen (The Shend) lovingly recreating the original sleeve and Small Wonder Records label until it looked close as dammit.

Now it is the turn of the much loved cacophonous classic from August 1980, Precinct with Who’s In Here With Me on the flipside.

Purloined from the BBC Peel session that first aired on 9th August 1979 and produced by the legendary Bob Sargeant, Precinct succinctly summarises the soulless shopping centre of Redditch New Town where the Cravats loitered and lounged about.

“If you like insanely fast, modernist punk – I can highly recommend this as being suitable for any form of physical activity.” Said somebody or other in Sounds on Oct 4th 1980 and they were right, as the thunderingly manic drums herald the start of this Orwellian onslaught.

Like the two re-releases that have gone before, there will only ever be 500 of these vintage vials of vinyl, each with an interesting insert of ‘Cravfacts’ as well as the near illegible lyrics to Precinct.

It’s only available through the Overground Records site or at forthcoming Cravats gigs (no bureaucratic business barcode soils this sleeve!) and won’t be around for long so pop one in your satchel, saunter home and file under, ‘Blimey, that’s rather ruddy good.’

While you’re waiting for the copy you ordered online to arrive by post, or you’re contemplating joining the lengthy queue at the merch stall at a Cravats gig to avail yourself of a copy, you’re welcome to enjoy the following aide memoire.
 

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THE SUBHUMANS WILL release a new album named Crisis Point on 13 September. “It’s a stormer,” says singer and frontman Dick Lucas. The new ten song release focuses on the themes of “terror/pollution/mind control… and similar reflections on a world in crisis.”

Released on Oakland’s Pirates Press Records, Crisis Point will be made available in CD, vinyl and cassette formats. Mindful that this is the first Subhumans’ longer player in a while, Lucas apologies about “the decade wait for something new”, suggesting that the band “don’t get to practice much!”

Cover for Subhumans 2019 album Crisis Point

The band, who still gig pretty relentlessly in the UK and Europe, will be heading out on a ‘West Coast’ tour of Canada and the US to coincide with the release.

Subhumans - Crisis Point album tour - US and Canada dates

  • 09/05/2019 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
  • 09/06/2019 – Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques
  • 09/07/2019 – Quebec City, QC – Envol Et Macadam Festival
  • 09/08/2019 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
  • 09/09/2019 – Somerville, MA – Once Ballroom
  • 09/10/2019 – Brooklyn, NY – Kingsland
  • 09/11/2019 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
  • 09/12/2019 – Durham, NC – Motorco
  • 09/13/2019 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
  • 09/14/2019 – St Augustine, FL – Sing Out Loud Festival
  • 09/15/2019 – Orlando. FL – Will’s Pub

Prior to that tour, the Subhumans will be finishing up a series of European dates this week.

Subhumans - tour dates - July 2019

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Oi Polloi - Saorsa picture disc (2 versions)

Oi Polloi – Saorsa
Picture disc (two versions)
UVLPEE61 – Urinal Vinyl Records

This is the sixth studio album of the long going scottish anarchist punk band Oi Polloi (ancient slang for “The Common People”) – 15 new songs recorded in 2014 with a retrospective of the many musically influences of previous Oi Polloi records. Here you find the anarcho charged sing-a-long Oi!Punk mixed with D-Beat-Crust and of course classic UK Anarcho Punk.

“Saorsa” means “Freedom” in scottish gaelic and “Freedom” or “Liberty” is the lyrical main subject of this album. Lyrics are mostly sung in English with little excursions into Gaelic, Spanish as well as Yiddish. With all the heavy political content, Oi Polloi never exclude humor in what they do and this is what makes them so sympathic in my eyes.

Responsible for the beautiful artwork was Sonia L. who already contributed to previous Oi Polloi records such as “Fuaim Catha”, and this album artwork has now been used to manufacture these amazing picture disc versions of the LP. Pressed in colour (350 copies) or black and white (a very limited 140 copies only!) Things of beauty they are, get one while you can!

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A-Heads - Ash to the Soil album - Mad Butcher Records

THE A-HEADS album Ash to the Soil secures a limited edition vinyl re-release later this month, courtesy of the German Mad Butcher Records label.

The twelve-track album was originally a DIY vinyl and CD release and was first issued in 2009. A total of 250 copies of the album will be re-pressed by Mad Butcher Records.

A-Heads
Ash to the Soil
2009
http://commerce.madbutcher.de/

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