I have in my hands a compilation of songs from a band that are reflected perfectly in the cover design. A collage of politics and punk, brightly-coloured and eye-catching, quotes from legendary musicians like Strummer and Guthrie, but most strikingly, emblazoned across the front in large letters, is the idiom “Stop making stupid people famous”. Something I can absolutely agree with 100%, in a world of Jedwards and Biebers multiplying like bacteria on a yoghurt that’s been left out in the baking sun, we need a band like the Media Whores! I’m not saying kill all the stupid people, but let’s remove the warning labels and let the problem take care of itself.
Sliding the CD into the machine I open a bottle of rum with a satisfying crackle of the seal, and a comforting gurgle as it is poured. Shrouded in a nebulous aura of clingy hashish smoke I prepare for what is sure to be an audio delight, as ‘A Decade of Defiance’ will take us on a tour of the career of the Whores, spanning three albums and a metric shitload of gigs, supporting some huge names along the way and gaining lots of recognition in the underground and mainstream world alike! Although not as much as they should in the latter, with commercial stations rejecting them because of their name, despite the fact it’s a very ironic name and despite the fact they’re quite happy to propagate the work of chauvinistic commercial rappers and the like.
Anyway, fuck all those commercial cocksuckers of Satan! Join me instead, as we delve into the back catalogue of a fantastic band to see what makes the Whores’ heart beat…
…Plunging in with ‘Cold War’; soaring solos from the offset, gloriously snotty vocals and catchy hooks as you may have come to expect from this band. Anti-war protests and songs of freedom, nuclear explosions of hard rock and the odd foray into other genres too. Behind the punk rock singing is a bluesy undergroove, and the bass and drums providing a steady and scintillating bellicose backbone.
Envision genre fission with a pop and punk collision, apocalyptic vision and surgical guitar riffs that cut with precision like a surgical incision, just the kind of stuff we love at the Gonzo Division.
A nod to Pink Floyd perhaps (just for a few seconds) at the beginning of ‘Money’ with the cash loop effect. But then the good ship Media Whore steers abruptly away from the sharp, jaggy (prog) rocks of Pink Floyd, and takes a hard starboard turn into the choppy, stormy ocean of gang-voc-punk and good ol’ rock & roll. I love this track ‘Money’, and I think it’s cos’ I’m a big fan of the Vandals and this song is very similar to their later styles.
‘Do You Think I’m Lying’ means business as it kicks in with some mean snarling guitar; ‘is this a tissue of lies that I detect through my x-ray eyes’. A sizzling guitar solo is never far away and it hammers home nicely about two and a half minutes in, taking the song out in a glorious cacophony of attitude, boldness and breakneck rock.
‘Indiscretion’ has a haunting melody to it that almost lends itself to something like Stiff Little Fingers meets The Cramps, rockabilly with attitude and some absolutely beautiful guitar-slaying which shreds right through my beating heart and adds so much depth to a divine song, a fave track so far! One I can listen to again and again.
Throbbing bass, eerie melody and pounding drums take us through the apocalyptic ‘Zombies of Mayfair’. A satirical switchblade in the kidneys down a dark alley, for the bon vivant upper classes and the greedhead politicians that dwell there. TMW are a good, balanced, mix of modern (poppier, polished) punk and old-skool (heavier, sloppier) punk, like how Greenday might sound if they started in the early 70’s, or how The Damned might have sounded if they’d started in the mid 90’s. ‘Frack Off’ is a good example of that, a rip-roaring rock & roll medley that cruises along with melody and harmony but retains that chaotic punkness at its core, kinda’ reminiscent of Bad Religion.
Some unexpected jazz and be-bop for ‘Black January’, which makes a refreshing interlude at these heady punk rock altitudes, a brewed melody zoning me out like Quaaludes, a euphony, before being plunged headlong back into a furious fast pace with ‘World at War’. An epic song; driven by passion and fuelled with anger. A political swipe at the beleaguered state of the world in general and its jingoists!
“…cranks, imbeciles, the demented, the vengeful, sadists, killers. Modern society has created its own kind and they feast on each other; it’s a duel to the death in a cesspool!” ~ Charles Bukowski.
‘The Girl From Alldays’ is a groovy little ditty, their dance number. A quixotic lament for the girl at the local shop with a fantastic rhyming pattern and those luscious licks of the guitar that we’ve come to love so much. This song has grown on me exponentially just in the four minutes it took to listen to it, it has a loveable appeal to it that puts me in mind of Squeeze or Costello or something, brilliant tune.
Another dark offering dripping with ominous deliverance in ‘Predators’. The Whores have a catchy, affable, happy-ish overtone that is perfectly juxtaposed by their dark, shattered, seedy underbelly. Gotta’ love the guitar for consistently offering a kick-ass solo for every magnificent track.
Sometimes TMW put me in mind of AFI (circa 2000) with many of their songs. Did I mention how brilliant the guitar solos are? ‘Class War’ is a blisteringly good four-minute assault on the senses! ‘Vinyl Head’ ululates on the history of punk over the years, with the powerful and true message that “music has the power to change”. I’m loving the unexpected nod to the Beastie Boys (who did start off as a punk band by the way, check out their EP ‘Aglio e Olio’ and you’ll see what I mean, or the article below ‘The Punk History Behind The Beastie Boys’ First Album’)
‘Affluenza’ sounds amazing from the outset, bass-driven, distortion-wielding; it’s an epic opus that builds like a prog-post-punk song into a five minute musical majesty with misanthropic malady as its central theme. ‘Big Pharma’ is a quality choon; “Big Pharma, no karma for you”. Lyrically astute, a fantastic Misfits-style, eerie, punk rock oeuvre. Evocative guitar and thumping drum and bass, another stand-out track on an album of stand-out tracks!
‘Can’t Say Whore on the Radio’ has always been a fave of mine, since the first time I heard them play it live. I wrote a full review of that song when it appeared on the first NHC compilation here; https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/5/21/nhc-compilation-review-now-thats-what-aye-call-music-vol1-c-t-herron
“You can’t say whore on the radio, but you can prostitute yourself from nine-to-five!” Damn right.
Two songs on this album share their name with ‘Darkside of the Moon’ tracks, ‘Money’ and ‘Time’… Coincidence? Probably.) ‘Time’ leads in with a nice bassline and is a haunting, lustrous lament, perfect harmonies, and profound lyricism, slow and creeping, but beguiling and dynamic, I dig the schizophrenic guitarwork.
“Black widow, black widow, black widow bit me, her poison circles in my brain”. Almost a ska-punk lilt to this track, socio-political commentary, with a mesmeric chorus and a melancholy charm. The end credits for this movie of the life of The Media Whores roll to the tune of ‘King Kong’, with a Stranglers-esque bass and characteristic spiralling guitar parts, the theme tune to a Media Whores album!
A brilliant record, coruscating with the gems of a decade-long career for the inimitable Media Whores. A hard-working, hard-touring band and it shows in their productivity and critical-acclaim (their brilliant album ‘Dangerous Minds’ was nominated for a Mercury Prize!) The Media Whores are true musicians of the punk rock ethos, they are anti-media, anti-government, intelligent, honest, and they do things on their own terms without pandering to the masses as so many do. A band choc-full of integrity, passion and choppy choons with memorable choruses and incisive lyrics. Sing-along anthems nestled alongside post-punk/prog-rock opuses. Plus political stabs and slashes spattering blood alongside bursts of hope and love, radiating through the darkness. One of the best punk bands to Quaaludes come out of modern Scotland!
The Media Whores are: Craig Anderson (lead voc and guitar)/Doogie Mackie (bass)/ Chris McArthur (guitar) and Andy Russell (drums). Follow them on social media here:
You can buy their music on their Facebook page and on Amazon Music.
And you can catch them live at these upcoming events:
Seeya’ in the whore pit!!!