I often cite that I'm listening to a vinyl when I do reviews, even when I'm not. Why? It just sounds cooler, cos' it is cooler. So the great thing here is, the NHC Records debut compilation (‘That's What Aye Call Music Vol.1’) is exclusive to vinyl*. It really is a discophile's dream, given the rarity and oddity of some of the local bands' recordings on here. So I get to actually dust off my record player for real this time, and put this baby on for a spin (after much dusting, wiping and drying of the player, the needle drops snugly into the first groove of the album with that comforting scratch).
130 grams of vinyl and acetate mix, 1600 feet of grooves, 33 and a third revolutions per minute… The waveforms of the long-playing vinyl record cannot be beaten for richness of sound.
*I use the word vinyl because the word record has also come to mean CD, and it's easier to avoid confusion by just saying the V word, I know a lot of people are pedantic about it.
One flaw with this album, and not a major one, you don't know which side is 1, and which side is 2, cos' it doesn't say on the actual record, so I've determined it by listening to the opening tracks and identifying by the bands which side is which.
TRACK 1 – Harvey Wallbanger
The first track is really, really fast psycho-punk-NED-trance... Oh no wait, I had it on 45RPM instead of 33RPM, oops, my bad, back to the beginning and... Yeah, that sounds better now. It's actually a really hard-driven celtic-warrior of a song by Test The Waters. With lots of cool little guitar effects which you would miss if you were listening to it too fast! Haha.
I've turned it up much louder now and that was definitely a good move, this song is banging when loud, I love the vocals and the guitar and the constant change-in-pace. Furious, vengeful, visceral, rock that infringes on both 80s post punk and hardcore-metal, tingeing the edges of some solid rock music. A fucking cracking track actually, the more I get into it, and a great choice for the opening song, which is the opposite thought to the one I had when listening at 45RPM. There's some, dare-I-say, Slayer-esque guitar shredding going on here. A seriously good opener to the compilation, makes me want to hear more from this band, so I’ll be checking out some of their music.
TRACK 2 – Brandy Milk Punch
Second track on the grooves takes us down in speed but up in intensity, with tribal drums and a growling Tom Waites meets Ben Ottewell voice. Some really dirty melodies here from Luminous with ‘The Gambling Blues’, a New-Orleans-soaked-gin-ballad. A truly phenomenal track, it takes me on a brilliantly uncomfortable tequila-drenched acid-trip through some rowdy brothel in the Deep South. Luminous is Andy Isacsson and… That’s it, the vox, the keys, the guitars, the percussion and the production, so a very talented individual indeed! He also mastered the whole compilation.
TRACK 3 – Black Russian
Dave Sweeney follows in Queen's tradition of always appearing on side 1 track 1 of a compilation, by appearing for the second time on a comp. at side 1 track 3 with ‘Monsters’. I love the way the soundbite flows into the dystopian acoustic ripping-out-of-the-soul that Plectrum delivers, while also encouraging you not to be scared of the monsters! Hellfire has a dark master behind it in El Hefe Jamie McDermid, and this comp. is steeped in darkness, Dave’s track compounds this. But don't be afraid... That's just the devil doing his work.
*While listening to that track ^ it suddenly went all slow and distorted like satan was playing it backwards and delivering a message to spread the blood of the innocent. I got freaked out for a second thinking Is that part of the recording? Have I had too many cocktails? Or has this record just summoned Lucifer? Just for a few seconds, before I realised my terrapin was on the loose, walking past the record player on the floor with his shell catching the edge of the record and slowing it down! Damn you Terrence!
You can’t write that shit…
TRACK 4 – Dirty Vimto
Starts off nicely with some kind of 90s Pennywise-esque punk anthem all slowed down, but the awesome, sultry female vocs suddenly cast it apart from that feel, and more into the arena of a gothic Debbie Harry! It’s a great track and Sorrows Have Sails’ 'Little Emperors' offers a dark grungy feel for the fourth groove, which marries to the vibe of the record like wine to cheese, or in my case, wine to wine, Buckfast wine.
TRACK 5 – Tequila Sour
The Puzzlers are a critically-acclaimed local punk band that are keeping the spirit of 77’ alive. And this anthemic slice of punk rock is a flagship track for side one, and for progressive punk everywhere. A nice SLF vibe, and some modern punk harmonies that ascend into a Buzzcocks-like outro. Many punk styles vying for space here, creating a glorious cacophony. The song is really progressive, brilliant, very impressed with that one.
TRACK 6 – Espresso Martini
Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes' 2017 album ‘Goo Goo Shoom’ was an extremely close contender for my album of the year, definitely top 3. It even made it onto my iPod, and I find that a lot of the wonderfully weird songs in it are persistent earworms, like 'I'm Falling', 'Benny Lynch', ‘The Bible According…’, ‘Voodoo Blood’ and 'Don't Talk To Me'. The latter appears as the final song for side one.
You can find my “abstract” review of Goo Goo Shoom here http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2017/5/24/joe-bone-and-the-dark-vibes-goo-goo-shoom-album-review-ct-herron
Black is the new black as the Vibes deliver a disturbingly delightful demonic dischord of Dionysian dystopia. Like eating a bad E at a shady rave in The Arches in the 90s. A perfect way to round off the fantastic whitey-in-a-toilet on the best night of your life that is the A side of the NHC comp. Peel yourself off the linoleum and flip it over for side 2... Do not look anyone directly in the eye... That’s right, I forgot to mention, we’re in a public toilet… With bogs like the one Renton climbed down in Trainspotting, as depicted by the album’s sleeve which appears to be a cubicle door complete with a ‘glory hole’ and probably a bit of graffiti somewhere that says ‘emo pussy tastes like hamster’. (Renton only does that in the film by the way, in the book he just does his jobbie, retrieves the suppositories, and leaves)…
But I digress, side 1 earns an eight out of ten for me, with nine being the highest. Consistently good, dark-themed, with some innovative tracks and a good mix of genres that manage not to clash together harshly (as with a lot of multi-genre various artists albums). My faves were Test The Waters, Luminous and of course Joe Bone, but they were all great tracks. Straight on to side two then, and I know it’s gonna’ be good cos’ I’m on my sixth cocktail and we’re about to kick things back off with NHC favourites The Media Whores…
TRACK 1 – Dirty Whore’s Bathwater
The Media Whores barge-in with the absolutely fantastic 'You Can't Say Whore on the Radio'. The Media Whores are like Scotland's answer to the Vandals, with a little bit of the Dickies and a touch of The Cramps thrown in. Good to hear a punk band in Scotland purveying the more modern punk sound a'la NOFX, Lagwagon etc. The song is in a similar vein to NOFX's 'Please Play This Song On The Radio' not in sound, but in concept. In sound it is a well-delivered stab of anarchic satire, with a punchy chorus and some catchy guitar. Hey whore, let’s go! Hey whore, let’s go!
TRACK 2 – Whiskey Cobbler
Things mellow out for a bit with the second groove, but only for a bit, as the jangling sound of Marshall Chipped brings us a quixotic slice of Scottish pop melody with ‘Star’. A quaint soothing rock n’ roll medley with layered harmonies and a punky, ballsy edge somewhere underneath al l that jauntiness.
TRACK 3 – The Moody Blue
Another blues track now with The Big Nowhere offering a grimy slice of soulful life in ‘Couldn’t Keep Away’. A growling distorted Velvet Undergound of a blues track, complete with horns and a deep throbbing bass all nicely topped off with a little dirty piano ditty thrown in at the end and enriched throughout with great female backing vocs.
TRACK 4 – The Witch’s Heart
Tiny Vinyl keep the same sort of blues theme as the previous track with a very Black Keys-like song in the superlative ‘Wicked Witch’. One of my faves on the record, simple but effective indie-rock with a twist of tortured blues-soul and a hint of modern pop melody.
TRACK 5 – Triple Bourbon Sour
Back to punk now with the raunchy, recalcitrant, riotous, rebellious noise of Thirteen with the breakneck ‘Spirit of Resistance’ dropping like an atom bomb after Tiny Vinyl’s mellow blues track before. Very fast, serf guitar and snarling vocs spitting out the bars like a demon stuck in a piano. The fifth track bottles you over the head and kicks you in the stomach as you lay in the gutter, then it runs off laughing as you question your existence. Tremendous burst of energy from Thirteen there, which makes me want to check out more of their stuff.
TRACK 6 – Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon
A country vibe marks the end of the record as Stoney Broke croons out ‘Champagne Lights & Whiskey’. A powerful acoustic track, raw and rough, just the way we like it. Music to smoke twenty Marlboro and drink a bottle of Jack a day to. A lot of depth for a track that’s just acoustic guitar and vocs, but that’s the kind of thing you might expect from a compilation by New Hellfire Club, the best of a brilliant music scene that’s burgeoning with bright stars and becoming the centre of a new musical galaxy, a constellation of them have burned brightly right here on this record, a definite collector’s item! Side 2 also gets an eight out of ten with nine being the highest, fave tracks were Thirteen, Tiny Vinyl, and The Media Whores, but again, every track is great music.
It’s great to see NHC getting its own record label together, it’s been a long time coming, now just need a venue and the sky’s the limit! As always with NHC it’s a non profit venture that sees the artists are the ones who benefit, the way it should be, but unfortunately isn’t in most cases. This has always been the main point of NHC and something founder Jamie holds very close to his heart, as do all the team members (or they wouldn’t be team members).
If you’re in a band and you’d like to get on an NHC compilation all the details are in this article http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/3/16/welcome-to-nhc-records-now-get-involved-in-our-first-co-op-releases-and-get-yourself-on-a-record the band make a good profit and get to be on a record among other things, so it’s a pretty sweet deal! A second compilation is already on its way as we speak and others are planned for this year too, including some co-operative releases, so stay tuned to NHC for big things in 2018 and I’ll…
…Seeya’ in the pit
CTH (Gonzo Division).