REVIEW: Snuff – There’s a Lot of It About (2019)

This post originally appeared on the 10th Dentist blog on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020.

Have the UK melodic punk greats been ‘snuffed’ by their commercial American label-mates?

    Snuff have constantly been underappreciated and overlooked for their commercial North American label mates, and this should be added to an ever growing list of crimes ‘punk’ fans have committed to themselves. In a label scene of punk rock aesthetics, Snuff stands out like a sore thumb. Seems ironic that punks would like conformity, right?? but alas, Snuff’s non-sarcastic humor, bald heads, and lack of fake Irish paraphernalia have most likely kept them from being as big as their Fat Wreck Chords label mates.
    Where Burt Bacharach swaggered in, Snuff barged through with grit and boyish charm. The 30+ years running band delivers music that feels genuine, caring, and fun. Drummer/singer Duncan Redmonds’ unique approach to drumming comes through with his signature swung snare and kick hits, something I’ve only ever heard so frequently in the work of The Cardiacs and Madness. Simultaneously Loz Wong’s approach to guitar hasn’t changed much either, yet stays fresh. Wong roars and rips over rhythm and chord changes while staying open enough for Redmond’s dynamic drum work to come through without making any one track too busy.
     This album aggressively rivals what is sometimes considered the band’s late ’90s glory days of Demmamussabebonk (1996) and Tweet Tweet My Lovely (1998), though I find the album’s trappings in the occasionally dry songwriting and vocally centered mixing. Unfortunately, ‘Lot About’ ends in a weak manner with the track ‘Job and Knock’, an acoustic, low-energy track. While not a bad song in it’s own, I would have loved to see the preceding track ‘Gyoza’ swapped in the listing. ‘Gyoza’ is this special type of grand melancholic songwriting that only Snuff and Duncan Redmond’s solo material have ever been able to pull off so well.

For fans of: Marginal Man, Madness, Hard Skin

Like Snuff? Give these a listen: Nature Boys, Pleasures of The Ultraviolent, Drinking Boys & Girls Choir

REVIEW: Frustration – So Cold Streams (2019)

This post originally appeared on the 10th Dentist blog on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020.

Parisian punks living in a post-Devo world.

So Cold Streams, the 5th full length studio release by French post-punk band Frustration loses distinctiveness in an ever growing faux-goth world. Where influences of Wire, Devo, and Warsaw were more prominent, the band’s rigid originality gives to the standardized faux-nostalgia/goth worship era of post-punk.

     The album opens with Insane, an aggravated synth-disco track more reminiscent of LCD-Soundsystem than that of Frustration’s earlier rigidity. So Cold Streams brings with it an immediately noticeable built up and polished sound, a glaring departure from their previous dry and stripped production work. In turn, Frustration’s previously angular, minimalist approach to melody has been substituted for a more ethereal, layered melodic approach that has become the rampant go-to for newly found goth worship bands.

     This effort doesn’t fall completely flat though. Tracks such as ‘Brume’ and ‘La Grand Soir’ find Frustration’s vocalist and front man Fabrice Gilbert singing in the band’s native French; a rarity in their discography and a nice break for those looking to find non-anglophonic music. And notably, ‘Slave Market’ features a spoken bridge by Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods. So Cold Streams ends with its strongest track, La Grand Soir, a dynamic 5 minute piece shifting solely between verse and chorus, slowly building in grandiosity before disintegrating back into a void of silence.

     Maybe with the recent increase of Joy Division fetishization (a band who Frustration have been compared to way too often) punk bands have lost faith in their influences for a sound that’s retrofit hip. Overall the 5th installment in the Frustration saga has been a welcomed break in western punk uniformity, even if it nears ever so slightly to it.

For fans of: Joy Division, Malaria!, Killing Joke
Like Frustration? Give these a listen: Dame, Crack Cloud, L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation

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