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Buzzcocks: Buzzcocks (2003) August 16, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Buzzcocks: Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks: Buzzcocks

Many of the first wave UK punk bands tried to make comebacks well after their late ’70s heyday, and for many, the results were mixed at best. They was true to an extent for the Buzzcocks as well. They broke up in 1981 after three albums and a string of singles (many collected on the Singles Going Steady collection).

The band reunited in 1989, though for most of the time since then singer/guitarist/songwriters Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle have been the only constants. I like the albums they’ve done, despite thinking that they recycled a bit too much material and wandered away from the more experimental approach they seemed to be taking on their last album before the breakup, A Different Kind of Tension.

I suppose it’s ironic, then, that for my money the best album they’ve recorded since the 1970s has recycled material and adheres pretty strictly to the punk formula. Their self-titled 2003 album is the reunited version’s strongest and most consistent album, with a lot more energy and aggression than the previous reunion albums. Some of the songs have the catchiness of their pop punk peak, others are just fast, hard, loud in a way they weren’t always. Combined with the fact that the album is named after the band, it feels like a statement of intent. They’re demonstrating just how much energy and power there still is in this band.

Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle both contribute songs to the album, and Diggle, who seems to be considered the lesser light of the band, contributes one of my favourites, the catchy and propulsive “Sick City Sometimes.” As for the recycling, where in the past they’ve sometimes gone back to unexciting Pete Shelley solo singles, both recycled tunes have a connection to former Buzzcock and later Magazine leader Howard Devoto. There’s a redo of “Lester Sands,” once only available on the Time’s Up bootleg by the first Buzzcocks lineup with Devoto on vocals, and a punk take on “Stars,” which appeared in a very different form on the Shelley/Devoto Buzzkunst album a couple years earlier.

It may not be the place to start for someone who’s never heard the Buzzcocks before (try Singles Going Steady), but you could cetainly do worse. It doesn’t show the range the band is capable of but it’s a success nonetheless. It’s not just a damn good album by a band a couple of decades after its glory days, it’s a damn good album, period.


More eMusic downloads March 30, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Miss Kittin and the Hacker: Two

Miss Kittin and the Hacker: Two

It’s that time of the month when the downloads refresh and I download too much, too quickly. (It’s a subscription site, and on my plan I get 90 tracks a month.)


Miss Kittin and the Hacker: Two. Miss Kittin and the Hacker appeared on my radar briefly during the electroclash moment a few years back, but so much of that scene came across as cynical and contrived that I stuck with Ladytron, the one band that had the right sound and influences (Kraftwerk, John Foxx, and other circa 1980 electronic/new wave stuff) that wanted nothing to do with the electroclash scene, and who survived the electroclash implosion just fine. Anyway, this is surprisingly solid electronic dance pop with some of the same influences, plus some Italo disco and mid-’80s industrial/EBM.

Pylon: Gyrate Plus. I’ve only heard bits and pieces, but this reissue, with bonus tracks, seems to be considered a new wave/postpunk/American college rock lost classic. Though Pylon came out of the same scene as R.E.M., they sound a lot more like UK bands like Gang of Four or the Au Pairs, or New York bands like Television. If I’d actually heard this in the early ’80s I’d’ve liked it.

Steve Diggle: Some Reality. Steve Diggle is one of the founding members of the Buzzcocks, one of the first and still one of the finest (and smartest) pop punk bands from the first wave of UK punk. He tends to get overshadowed by Pete Shelley, who writes and sings most of the Buzzcocks’ songs. On this solo album first released in 2000, Diggle plays a more dadrock/classic rock set of songs that wouldn’t alarm anyone who likes Oasis or Paul Weller. Haven’t heard it enough yet to know if any of these songs will stick with me like his best Buzzcocks songs like “Sick City Sometimes.”

Disrupt: The Bass Has Left the Building. Fun, but maybe more novelty album than regular listening. Imagine a 1980s video game with a dub reggae soundtrack and science fiction movie samples (most prominently from Dark Star).

Caspa: Everybody’s Talking, Nobody’s Listening. I wasn’t sure I’d bother with this, because Caspa’s one of the people making a lot of the more dumbed down dubstep that’s popular on dance floors but not terribly interesting for home listening. But this sounds like a proper album, with a few dancehall, reggae, and grime vocals in the mix. Won’t necessarily supplant Pinch or Burial in my affections, but certainly better than I expected. It’s never a bad thing to be pleasantly surprised.

Tombs: Tombs. This showed up on the emusic main page as part of a group of metal albums influenced by shoegazer, and I like some stuff that draws on those sounds (Jesu, Alcest, Nadja, Angelic Process). Not hearing it so much here, though. Sounds more like metal-influenced modern hardcore. I may like it a bit more on future listens with adjusted expectations.

Max Richter: Henry May Long Soundtrack. Richter gets mentioned when people talk about electronic musicians making sort of modern classical music, like Johann Johannsson. This is a film score and is probably less experimental than some of his other work. Haven’t really listened to it yet, but a couple tracks in, it sounds good so far.