Passing the Buck…
Rosey reviews this half term's pick of the Predatory-Power-Punk-Pop

Buck Brothers - Me (

Buck Brother press release includes lots of exciting and revealing facts. Such as the fact that Daniel Radcliffe (he of nudey horse riding fame) is a big fan - he's 'addicted to the CD' apparently. That they met at a suburban Buddhist Disco, whatever one of those is. That they're the world's first Anglo-Irish-Swedish band and are going for the world record by playing 30 shows in 12 hours. That their bassist's bass was once owned by Bruce Foxton and that the drummer is cousins with Jarvis Cocker.

But what of the music? It's described as Predatory-Power-Punk-Pop, and I suppose that's right. Only it seems to lack the power implicit in that description. Maybe it's the recording technique, maybe it's the Zeitgeist that bands have to have scratchy guitar parts in, maybe it's my ears, but these songs all sound remarkably tame. That's not to say that the boys lack the knack of writing a good tune, some of these are remarkable hummable - 'One Day I'll Say It' has a top hook, while 'Gorgeously Stupid' is just that, a gorgeously stupid song that would be quite at home on a Bloodhound Gang CD.

Which maybe the problem. While aiming for Blink 182 (surely dated?) power-punk pop formula, they've actually hit on something else they're better at.

So, who's going to tell 'em, me or you?

+44 : When Your Heart Stops Beating (
And here's how this power-punk pop thing should be done. I almost tried to review this without listening to the CD, just as I guess that many of you (dear readers) will skip the review as you already know how the song will sound. But I'm glad I listened; it's well written, powerfully performed with coherent lyrics, a definite step forward from Blink 182 and a lesson from the masters for The Buck Brothers.

Not as promising as some of these though…

Kunk : Hey Hey Hey (
If anyone were ever to ask me why I let da kidz loose on our precious review CDs, I'd only have to mention the name Kunk. They were reviewed by one Joey Eyebank Ramone, who was aged about 12 at the time, and his completely justified and literate enthusiasm got me all excited about this band, so much so that I invited them up to play a R*E*P*E*A*T night where they converted a sceptical audience into big fans.

And here they are again, justifying all that confidence we put in them. Great slabs of riffing guitars, snarled vocals, simmering choruses and frantic drumming, Kunk sit aloof somewhere between The Foo Fighters and Pavement attending Mark E Smith's nth birthday party. While Mark would probably chuck the Foos and Pavement out of the room before the candles were lit, I feel sure the Kunk kids would be welcome to stay right til the jelly and ice cream had all been eaten and thrown around.

It's the marriage of powerful punk melodic guitars and hooks (revealing Buck Brothers for the lightweights they are) with the angular and unexpected, that appeals to me so much in Kunk.

Don't tell Daniel Radcliffe, he'll be all over them like a horse.

The Horrors : Gloves (

I suppose do or die time for The Horrors is pretty close at hand. No longer able to snipe at indie popsters from the safe sidelines of their own ghetto, The Horrors have been catapulted into mainstream attention and are now on the NME tour, sharing the stage (and the attention) with some of those skinny indie kids they'd have sneered at only a few months ago.

I do love The Horrors' sound; the gushing almost throwaway fairground organ which somehow manages to pack an unsettling, disturbing punch, allied to distinctive guitar work, marks The Horrors out as special. As does the image and subject matter. A bit like Nick Cave's Birthday Party going to a Garage Punk snuff movie accompanied by The Cramps, driven there by the keyboard player from The Beach Boys.

Refreshing, challenging, different.

And anyone who can annoy the fuck out of the indie emo establishment is OK by me.

Bring on the album in March and we'll really see the strength in depth of The Horrors.

The Total Drop : Your Excellency (

This is refreshing too. Quirky girl powered DIY pop from New Cross. The cooing vocals preen and pout atop of some deliciously left field beats, carefully counter-pointed bass parts and colliding keyboard lines with a chorus I'm sure I won't get out of my head all night. The flip side, Altitude, also boasts some choppy guitar which drives the track on like a good 'un. Reference points are I suppose the 80s synth pop bands, but I'm also reminded of the left field weirdness of earlier acts such as The Delta 5 and The Modettes, bands who managed to be new and challenging while still keeping a heart of pop.

Your Excellency? Yes indeed!

Attila the Stockbroker /David Rovics, The Loft Cambridge, 14.2.07

If you ever think that culture is all mainstream, that the kids all have their brains mashed by Myspace, celebrity TV and Blairite bullshit, then you need to come to an Attila gig. Tonight, a venue in Cambridge was packed with young (and not so young) people raging against the machine that seeks to make us all just cogs in its money-making operation. Attila the Stockbroker was on top form, showing why he's been able to establish himself as an anti-establishment, widely respected and very funny rebel voice over the past 25 years, railing against subjects as diverse as the war, celebrity culture and the 'Donkey Sanctuary' at Cheslea Football Club, while the slightly more reflective David Rovics articulated in a more restrained, more melodic manner, similar sentiments, finishing with a moving a-cappella attempt to put these manifestoes into human form in 'Behind the Barricades'.

Huge respect to Attila and David (and the support acts who I missed) for showing that the protest song is far from dead and that music can be used as an organisational tool, and to the organisers of tonight's gig for helping to spread the word to a new and appreciative audience in Cambridge.

Johnny Panic : The Rebel (

Thanks to Myspace, this has already become a long-term favourite of mine. And how great it is to hear it in all its fully-fledged glory. I don't know what it is that lures me back to this song all the time: the stop start chugging guitars, the impassioned heart felt vocal or the lyrics mourning the lack of teenage rebellion or young dreams or aspirations for anything beyond the conventionally mundane, in a sort of 21st Century update of The Specials' "Too Much Too Young". Whatever it is, it exerts a strong pull, I think this song is just fantastic, the perfect example of all the things (moshing, indelible pop hooks and making a point, just for starters) you can achieve within the confines of a three minute pop song.

To paraphrase Jane Austen (which I do all the time), if you're sick of Johnny Panic, then you're sick of the world.

Apparently this song is available to download for 75p from The Rebel himself Mr Bill Gates via MSN music, but he wouldn't let me buy one, the big Tory meanie. Not to worry, I seem to be able to listen for free to my heart's content.

Do you really know what's on your mind?

The Might Roars : Swine and Cockerel (

And here to finish is another band recommended by Joey Eyebank, and another gem it is too. Despite having had time for all the stuff I've written about in this piece (in what is these days an all too rare foray into the world of review writing myself), this has to be my favourite (well this, Johnny Panic and Kunk). And what this is, is powerful and messy and punk powered (forget the pop bit); to quote Radio 4 (something else I do all too seldom!) this is "rapid, loud, in-your-face punk rock". And to quote Joey, The Mighty Roars are "A distorted mix of bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Be Your Own Pet with an extra punch". And to save me thinking for myself at all (I'm rusty you know), here's our very own Anna C to close with: "Yes, finally here is a band are THAT chuffing brilliant. Purely amazingly powerful punk rock and roll, yet with an angry bleach-blonde adulteress "woo-ooh" of such punch rarely seen since Blur's 'Song 2'"

Redundant, I'm off to leap around the room.

Care to join me?

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