Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Harry Violet & the Sharks - 'Jungle Cavalcade'

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: January 2016

A dark, sax-driven rock and roll band– this is how Harry Violet & the Sharks define themselves, and rightly so. It’s delightful to see such a big revival of the saxophone; it played a vital part back in the golden days and it’s astonishing to see what the new bands are doing with this grandiose sax appeal. It doesn’t stop here, however, these new bands of young musicians like our Harry Violet & the Sharks have a sincerely deep knowledge of the classic beats of the 20th century, from rhythm and blues to garage rock, rockabilly to surf, free jazz to 12-bar blues, even from hard rock to punk. Rock and roll stands for them all, it glorifies each and every genre in an eternal musical haven embrace. These are joyful days we are experiencing in this fresh new music scene!

Harry Violet aka Rylott (vocals and guitar), Murdo Mackenzie (drums), Slim Tim Barrow (bass) and Mad Max Ellenberger (saxophone) are extremely focused on forming their own special sound. A DIY band that recorded, produced and pressed their single, and even shot a magnificent B-movie-like video. Harry says, “We decided to record it ourselves as we didn’t want it to sound overproduced and we didn’t want it to sound too glossy.” Their unpolished, wonderfully under produced raw sound comes from somewhere in the depths of the precious madness of Screamin Jay Hawkins, a delicious quick trait of Tom Waits, a whole lot of the garage rawness of The Sonics and The Cramps, the rockabilly wildness of Link Wray and Kip Tyler, and the ‘sax’iness of The Lounge Lizards. Their eclectic inspirations bring these crazy mix of late 1950s, early 60s rock and roll, surf and garage to a new sound with a lot of twilight-zone-jive fused personality. The band’s debut single “Jungle Cavalcade,” according to the bio on their website, “contains two original rock n roll numbers inspired by the wild and wacky adventures of Frank Buck and the dystopian youth madness of A Clockwork Orange.” And you will hear why.

Personality is the word here. Having so many disparate influences, Harry Violet the Sharks are creating a completely new wave. And, they could not be more resolute in this pursuit of an own sound. If they keep up with the pace I have no doubt they will succeed, as long as they don’t fall into the traps of the all-too-well-oiled music machinery of today, which has its very specific ways of professional alluring. They, too, can be Sharks. It was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that inspired the name Sharks for the band– the best possible allusion to all things corporate, fabricated, destitute of any primeval traits or instincts– the workingman’s masters.

“Jungle Cavalcade” has the funky sax doing the preliminaries of some New Orleans back alley voodoo blues, followed by steady drums and a very solid bass. Then, a bad Tom Waits impersonator comes along leaving almost immediately for a completely different register. Harry shows his versatility by starting with defying raspy-dusty mocking vocals to change it immediately to an admiringly clear and playful tuned-in voice. I wouldn’t mind hearing this song at some old bar deep in the Louisiana’s swamps.

The sax appeal comes in again full power in “Dance At The Korova.” Harry goes all Link Wray on us, waving graciously from high to deep notes. As for the lyrics, there can be a clear influence of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” which the band has mentioned as a good and timeless example of a song for the everyday workingman. All wrapped up with some howls and we got here a pretty tight rockabilly song.

Harry Violet & the Sharks came prepared and they will neither let routine bite them in the ass nor let the suits of London break their aspirations. And we, the avid listeners, are counting on them to make their dream of corporate freedom our own.

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

Harry Violet & the Sharks


Lucy and the Rats

Small introduction for Heatwave Magazine

Lucy and the Rats—Lucy from the Ramones influenced pop punk trio, the Spazzys, is the ‘Lucy.’ The Spazzys have made headlines not only in Australia, where they come from, but across the globe. But she didn’t stop there! Artists of this calibre need constant challenges, and so do the rest of the band members. The ‘Rats’ are Joe, Manu and Mike, who all have a bunch of other interesting projects. Trust me, you want to experience them all.

So, there’s a very cute mouse, some might call her a hamster but as those are domesticated, I say no! And three mighty rats that have come together to create what could be the next Blondie, only in a softer, sweeter, almost shy way.

With its members coming from bands inspired by 60s garage and 77 punk, these melodic, warm and fuzzy harmonies get a special punch that turns the band into some kind of power-pop-punk reinvented-genre.

When you listen to Lucy and the Rats, the world is right again. Lucy’s voice is like a delicate flower, but don’t get fooled by its tenderness, for it is strong enough to face the hardest of winters. Her Rats are her dedicated backbone. They defend her gentle vocals with a trustworthy rhythm and a steady beat.

Prepare to be blown away, in the most docile way possible. These big rats and their little mouse have a lot in store for us to delight in. Make sure you see them live and if, for any insane reason, you claim you can’t go, check them out online. Better yet, do both. No excuses.

Lucy and the Rats are the cosiest band I have stumbled upon in the last few months, and I’m so grateful for them. I might seem a rough, all independent punk but hey, I got feelings, ye know? Lucy and the Rats understand people just like me.

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

Lucy and the Rats


The Coathangers

Interview for Heatwave Magazine

Atlanta-based band, the Coathangers, were a band before they became musicians. All they wanted was to hang out, jam out some tunes and have fun while they were at it.
So, ten years ago, a new exhilarating band was born, consisting of Julia Kugel (guitar/vocals), Meredith Franco (bass/vocals) and Stephanie Luke (drums/vocals). Growing from their early days of no-wave and primitive garage rock through classic rock, and even some country ballads, you can never miss their omnipresent ferocious and irreverent punk rock attitude.
Look out for this wonder group, for they know what they’re doing and they are insanely serious about having fun. And yes, the Coathangers are on their way to this side of the pond to promote their fresh new album!

Heatwave: The Coathangers have been around for ten years. A decade is a pretty round number. What do you see when you look back?

Julia: I see us growing up in a blur of shows and records, of new and fading friendships and relationships, fun times and trying times. Probably the same things you see when you look back, ha. Ten years is a long time…

Stephanie: Yeah, ten years is a nice round number! I see a lot of hard work, a lot of amazing experiences, traveling the world, meeting really great people, seeing and experiencing a lot of great other bands, and also getting to meet some of our musical heroes like Joan Jett, Ian MacKaye, Keith Morris, etc.

Heatwave: And what do you foresee for the next ten years?

Julia: More surprises and further successes. Watching each other turn 40! Ha! Damn. Records, songs, tours, life.

Stephanie: Hopefully more of the same and more albums!

Heatwave: Nosebleed Weekend, your fifth album, will be released on 15th of April. How was it to record your first album outside Atlanta, this time at Valentine Recording Studios in North Hollywood?

Julia: It was amazing and challenging. We isolated ourselves in Los Angeles and pushed ourselves to write and play better. It was a very focused effort.

Stephanie: It was a little weird feeling at first, not awkward or uncomfortable, just very different not being at the Living Room Studios in Atlanta. However once we really got to recording at the historic and retro-beautiful Valentine’s Studios, we felt right at home.

Heatwave: How much does this album differ from the other ones? Do you see it as a ten-year stepping-stone, perhaps?

Julia: This album has a warmth and focus that perhaps is different from the other records. Really, we always saw that each record is a snap shot of where we are in life at the time. That’s how the record is different – we physically and emotionally were at a different place.

Stephanie: This is the second album as a trio, so even though there’s only three of us, there’s a lot of volume and power behind these songs, very straight forward rock, but yet it still maintains our Coathangers vibe/sound. These qualities mainly stem from having an amazing producer/engineer, Nic Jodoin, who really made us work this album HARD! He helped with pushing us to our limits, song structure, etc., really amazing to be able to have worked with him!

Heatwave: Why this title? There must be a story behind this one too.

Julia: It really came about because Meredith (Minnie) kept getting nosebleeds on tour. It’s something that runs in her family. It kinda became an on running joke. Then one day I just kinda came up with the phrase and blam… funny, irreverent record title. Just our style.

Stephanie: The title actually refers to karma in a way, kinda. As in, if you talk crap about people maybe expect to see it come back to ya in a rough way.

Heatwave: Where do the ideas and storylines for your music stem from?

Julia: Life. People. I recently made a move to Southern California, which influenced the storylines – A sudden feeling of alienation, missing home, not knowing where home actually is. We toured quite a lot during the past two years and that always breeds ideas. Also there were some deaths, as there usually are. Love.

Stephanie: Our ideas and storylines always come from personal experiences and people we have met or had relationships with, sometimes we write a song that simply has no meaning, and we let the listener make up their own storyline for it.

Heatwave: After ten years of touring, did you develop any rituals of preparation? Maybe a quirky routine or even some kind of mantra?

Stephanie: We’ve got a few rituals, usually there’s always a group hug and of course a shot of tequila or a cheering of sorts! We also try and stretch beforehand, so we aren’t as sore the next show.

Julia: We usually do a group hug before the show. And Steph usually smacks us on the butt. ‘I love you’ is our mantra.

Heatwave: By now you are more sisters than most siblings. How does this bounding affect your development as musicians?

Julia: We encourage each other and are able to be brutally honest with each other when necessary. Therefore we are able to push each other as musicians and writers. This also enables us to be more generous with each other. Egos take a backseat to what is best for the group.

Stephanie: We are most definitely related now! Being as close as we are helps with lots of aspects in the band. It helps with everything from songwriting to working things out if we get in a tiff, etc. Definitely helps us be honest with each other on every level.
We are so close now, I sometimes don’t even need to look up or even hear exactly where we are while playing live, and I can literally go off the other girls’ vibes and know exactly what to do next.

Heatwave: How important were Black Lips at opening doors for your band?

Julia: In the beginning they were really encouraging and open to our sound and passion. They asked us to open for them and we even did a few short tours together. I think it gave us some kind of street cred, ha. They have always been championing our sound and we are really grateful to have that hometown support.

Stephanie: The Black Lips were very helpful in the beginning along with all the other local bands in Atlanta that helped us get on certain shows. We’ve tried to do the same for bands we enjoy as well, that’s how music should be – we are all one big family.

Heatwave: What is the music scene like in Atlanta?

Julia: Atlanta has a close, tight knit music scene. Everyone pretty much knows everyone else, crossing genre lines. Hip-hop is put on the same bill as rock n roll and disco. Everyone plays in side projects together. It’s a nice place.

Stephanie: The music scene in Atlanta is still going pretty strong although the types of bands playing might have changed a bit. There’s still a large group of punk, doomcore, hardcore, shoegaze etc. There’s also a “house show” part of the scene that has made a comeback, which is great, keeps it real.

Heatwave: What bands from your local scene can you recommend us?

Julia: Shantih Shantih, Black Linen, Predator, and the Bad Spells

Stephanie: Curtis Harding, NURSE, Shanti Shanti, Midnight Larks, and Illegal Drugs

Heatwave: Is the goal of living from music alone still alive and kicking?

Julia: Yes. Now the goal is to live without roommates!

Stephanie: Living from music is still alive and still just as difficult. Most of the money bands make from touring and record sales goes straight back into keeping the band going, so we all still have part time gigs when at home.

Heatwave: I know you have a lot of freedom on your current jobs when it comes to touring. That must be a relief. How do you manage to balance both worlds? And not to forget Julia’s other project, White Woods.

Julia: Coathangers is the primary focus, so you figure out how to make time for everything else. It just means that we are always working.

Stephanie: It’s difficult to balance both worlds, but it’s just like anything else in life, you simply make it work. Sometimes the most difficult thing to maintain is the special relationships we have with boyfriends, friends, and family. Being on the road it can be hard to find a place just to make a call home, so it can be frustrating.

Heatwave: There are a lot of strong visual statements in your videos. How important is visual communication in your music?

Stephanie: Visual communication is important because fans usually enjoy seeing the band they like as people, but we more or less just try to have as much fun creating and being a part of the past videos we’ve done. We always try and use friends to film and direct them because then they also get noticed for their creativity as well.

Julia: Well, it sets the tone and represents who we are and what we think (at the time, ha) so yes it is prettyyy important.

Heatwave: A little moth told me you are playing in London on May 5th. I can’t wait. What about you?


Stephanie: We love going to Europe, especially London! You guys definitely know how to have a great time!

Heatwave: Will you swap instruments this time? Do you do this to keep it interesting for you, for the audience or both?

Julia: Yes… probably. We started doing that to keep it interesting for us, but it also keeps it interesting for the audience.

Stephanie: We will be swapping instruments on a few songs, we do it because why the hell not? It also keeps us on our toes!

Heatwave: Could each of you tell me in one word what makes you go forward? In essence: what ticks you?

Julia: An overwhelming need to create.

Stephanie: One word that makes me tick? Revolution.

The Coathangers

Heatwave Magazine

MFC Chicken - 'It's... MFC Chicken Time!'

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: December 2015

It might be a master complot of these maniacs to make every living soul dance, but I gladly surrender. With that being said, their third album It’s… MFC Chicken Time! is yet again an extremely solid dance album.

The band consists of Spencer Evoy on magical tenor sax and vocals, Alberto Zioli on guitar and vocals, Ravi on the drums, Zig on bass guitar and as guest chickens: Reverend Parsley on the organ and vocals, Pastor McPake on the organ and Fernando Terror on bass guitar and vocals. MFC Chicken is a big band of big boys that love to play around.

All of their music has one important factor throughout and that is humour, which too many times doesn’t get the credit it really deserves. In this ridiculous world of anger and hatred, humour is much needed. It is vital, actually. I would go as far as to say it’s our only way of survival. Bear with me before starting in judgmental. Why do you go to work everyday? To help you and yours or those who really, really suffer? Exactly. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We have to first take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. And that’s where humour enters. How in hell could we wake up everyday, get in the tube, punch the clock, do our mundane work chores, go back home, eat, dump, sleep and do it all again the next day, if the horrors of this world were constantly in our minds? Simple, we wouldn’t. We wouldn’t be able to move a muscle. So, let us help wherever and whenever we can, but, foremost, live a life worth living. We fortunately can; therefore, we owe it to life to live it fully.

MFC Chicken helps us do exactly that. Their sound is so effervescent and jolly that you can drown all your sorrows in it, and the lyrics so insanely goofy you won’t even remember you had sorrows in the first place. So, let’s talk about chicken, shall we? After all, it is the main subject of this album. Bearing in mind, though, that the meaning is not what it seems. It is a fantastic nonsensical metaphor that came straight from the dirty chicken shop downstairs where they were formed in Holloway Road. If chicken can represent everything, then it surely can solve anything! You just have to reorder your formatted brain and you’re free to embrace the wonders of the chicken. Let the hilarity begin– all hail to the chicken!

The saxophone is undoubtedly the star, but without those vocals teasing us, teaching us what Joie de Vivre is all about, met with that delicious demented organ and the rhythm section leading our hips, feet and tumbling head to some kind of frenetic musical seizure, it wouldn’t be MFC Chicken now would it? Maniac raw garage rock ‘n’ roll fuelled with plenty of rockabilly flavour, lavished with primal jazz and a whole lot of good old rhythm and blues. Some bring Screamin’ Jaw Hawkins, Little Richard, Dick Dale, The Sonics, and many others to the pot. MFC Chicken has a lot of clear inspirations in their repertoire, yes, but as I see it, it comes from a deep understanding of their musical roots more than from any specific artist. They are but the sum of everything they’ve heard in their lives and they bring their own interpretation on their own terms. In chicken terms, of course.

“Study Hall,” for all those who don’t know their previous albums yet, is the first song and works perfect as a visit card. There is their core, the glorious saxophone, the speedy crescendo in the rhythmic guitar and drums, and the vocals messing up with your seriousness.

In “Gross People,” the Colonel urges you to listen to what he has to preach. MFC Chicken is providing you a most serious public service. Now, now, boys and girls– he preaches– keep your tongues to the comfort of your home, your wet affection is “Gross, gross!”

But, MFC Chicken has more in store. What about that harmonica in “Uncle Willy,” enticing the hillbilly inside of us all? There we are, doing the cowboy line dance in some barn in the middle of America’s nowhere.

“Sit Down, Mess Around” starts as a preaching gospel with the organ on an awe-inspiring pedestal just as they warm the audience yet again for a delicious dance of the senses with both sax and organ leading the vocals and the happy-spirited chorus.

“Tennessee Girl,” “29 Bus,” and “14 Girls” are all at full throttle. Throw yourself in the pit, shake your head up high, stop any reveries, any ruminations of any kind and let them consume your body in their full wacky splendour.

During “All Afternoon,” I could imagine myself sipping a Margarita, stomping one foot whilst resting for like a microsecond ‘til hitting the floor again– even better if there’s a nice guy willing to swirl you around, while you clap away with a coquettish silly smile.

“Bad News From The Clinic” makes you dance, don’t they all, but gives you the feeling that you’re somehow transgressing something. If not for the title, then from that saxophone that seems to watch your every move. It’s like, “Yeah, I might sound all happy and shit, but I’m on the lookout, doll, and it might just be you who I’m aiming for.” Well, stop that, you ain’t scaring me.

But then, oh my, what to do of “Kahuna Hoodoo Hoochie Coo Flu Blu?” Are you putting your crazy voodoo on me? Hey, now wait a minute, I just came here to dance and have a good time. Say what, no need to worry? So it’s just a delightful captivating scarecrow-like tune? That’s all the better.

My previous doubt is somehow answered in “Rumble Strip.” MFC Chicken are playing here straight from hell– wherever that is– and finally letting it all loose. Let them, it’s liberating, and we all should do it from time to time.

Having now exorcised their demons, they can finally breathe normally again. Actually, what is normal anyway? During this time, they give us another upbeat song with “Colonel Sanders’ Bastard Son.” These Bastard Sons are a thousand times better than the if-existing sons of the Colonel Sanders himself by showing their deep appreciation for the meat– the almighty wonders of chicken. The hysterical “Where Is The Meat” shows us precisely that appreciation– a song about their utter shock when entering a vegan restaurant where they seriously consider eating the waiter.

Humour, my friends, should rule the world. Wouldn’t everything be so much easier, more logical and more human? I apologise in advance for bringing a quote as my final statement. Take it as you want, I myself will take it as food for thought:

“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, History would have been different.” – Oscar Wilde

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

MFC Chicken


The Arrogants - 'No Time To Wait'

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: November 2015

So, you’re telling me that this band is from this very present. Like, from the now? Hmm… Let’s just say I believe you. *wink*

The Arrogants are five, allegedly from our lifetime, really cool French teenagers,who already supported such notables like The Pretty Things and Lenny Kravitz. Their album was produced by Healer Selecta (aka Yvan Serrano of The Dustaphonics), recorded at the studio of the National Belgian Corporation in just three days, and mastered by Pete Maher (The Killers, Rolling Stones, U2 and Jack White).

The Arrogants consist of Thomas Babczynski in the rhythm guitar and vocals, Louis Szymanowski in the bass, Martin Tournemire in the organ, Hugo El Hadeuf in the drums, and Emilian Mierzejewski in the solo guitar.

This sound is garage in its most raw form. And, although, The Arrogants like to explore Mod 1960’s sounds, Psychedelic, Blues, and RnB, you still feel that, in this album, there’s no place for flourishes of any kind– neither deep psychedelic hues nor intransigent solos shouting out of the boxes. This album is simple, minimal and gutturally authentic garage rock. Now you can see why I’m not falling for the whole “they’re from now” thing. But hey, let us acquiesce and just nod: “Oh yes, yes, but of course.”

The Arrogants’ sound is, well, arrogant, but in the most delicious way possible. It is spontaneous, wild and in your face. Thank goodness they are, supposedly, this young, for their naivety helps bring out an organic and captivating unpolished album. Ain’t no time to decorate that one. And we thank them for it.

“No Time To Wait” starts with lovely simple chords followed quickly by a rhythmic organ. And it is as urgent as the title suggests. When you first hear the vocals you think, “Ok, this is some bloke who went to school with Mick Jagger.” I can imagine him playing defiantly with his micro whilst sticking his tongue out. And this image stays throughout the album, even when I know it’s not quite so.

“Move” and “Flashing Lights” are fast and loud. Their speed shifts keep us on our toes. Along with a nice punk chorus at the very end, “Flashing Lights” is the more danceable of the two.

The beginning of “I’m No Fucking Mozart” is not from today. No matter what they tell me. No, no and no. The organ is the major melody maker, the rest gets its back perfectly and the vocals give the final soft touch. While listening to “Too Much Lies,” I can’t stop being fixated with the vocals. It is all about them in this tune. Husky, infuriated, fed-up Thomas is singing straight to that not-so-special-anymore someone. It is powerfully sincere and innocent.

“The Arrogants Theme” is a groovy, ooh là là so very French, instrumental with sweet arrogant laughs. In “Velocity,” harmonica comes to the rescue. And, surprise, surprise, they still keep their un-tempered clear sixties sound, whilst embracing a more R&B tonality. With “Santraa,” they psyche out a tiny little bit with the help of a coy but insistent sitar.

“UFO” plays in a spaceship. Don’t ask me how they got one, but, then again, if they have managed to time travel to our time, I suppose anything is possible. They decided to keep it instrumental because the aliens wouldn’t understand the language anyway. And kept it short too, which is perfectly comprehensible. After all, do aliens even know what’s good music?

“Mr. Devil” doesn’t go far from The Arrognant’s mold: fuzzy, relentless and just hella fun. To end a perfect trip, comes a soft song, “I’m Gonna Leave You,” that gives room to each and every instrument in the band, which is a pretty nice goodbye.

The Arrogants might have come from the sixties to please our ears, but I hope we’re interesting enough for them to want to stay here. But hey, if they do know time travel, The Arrogants can come and go as they please, so long as we get to hear their pure and raw garage sound on the stages of today.

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

The Arrogants


Raw Fun - 'Won't Be Told'

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: December 2015

Raw Fun, for me, embodies sixties rock ’n’ roll on speed. This depiction was my initial thought when I first heard them and I’m sticking to it. Now let me tell you, this sound makes me happy, very happy. Raw Fun is raw fun indeed.

Raw Fun consists of singer, songwriter and guitarist Patrice Picard from The Cannibals, guitar player Manuel Santos from the infamously named band Michael Jackson and drummer Joaquin Gonzalez from the reborn Johnny Throttle. With impressive baggage, it’s no surprise that when these three met they were bound to have success. So much so that after publishing a demo on Facebook, Jim Diamond reached out to them and ultimately mixed their EP in his Ghetto Recorders Studio back in Detroit. The same Jim Diamond who played bass for the amazing Dirtbombs from 1997 until 2004, and has produced glorious bands such as the Sonics and White Stripes.

The EP “Won’t Be Told” is so danceable, vigorous and happy that it is hard for me to stay put on my chair whilst writing this review. Pure sixties cheer. What strikes me most is the easiness of Patrice’s vocals in his dynamic fervour. It’s like they’re playing to a group of good friends in a private party– no pretence, no putting on a show, just the love of music and dedicated joy in making it. How invigorating!

“Till The End of The Song” is a tad more down-to-earth in its arrangements, a good full-bodied rock ’n’ roll song. Trashy enough with an upbeat rhythm, it emphasises the drums and guitar of Joaquin and Manuel with the vocals accompanying them with a quirky wink, fun and flirtatiousness.

“Shades” is atmospherically languid; a sound as if taken straight from the wonderful hazy sixties surf. It twirls around your senses in a persistently flirty and enchanting dance. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw some hypnotized snake coming out of a basket at a live show.

Raw Fun has an uncompromising readiness with an easy and rough sensuality to it. And in the background, we see the mini skirts swinging lasciviously.

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

Raw Fun

Heatwave Magazine

Archie and the Bunkers

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: November 2015

I was pretty excited when I first heard two songs from these guys, imagine when listening to the whole album. How old are they again?

Archie and the Bunkers, inspired by the funny Archie Bunker from All In The Family, is a couple of teenage brothers from Cleveland– Cullen on the organ and Emmet on the drums and lead vocals. No guitar, no bass, just a four-piece drum, an organ and two incredible mature souls with the energy of, well, teenagers.

They call their sound Hi-Fi Organ Punk and I couldn’t agree more. I’m a sucker for rock ’n’ roll organs and steady clear drums. I can hear reminiscences of The Cramps, Dead Boys and The Damned, but also The Stranglers, Doors and even Murder City Devils. To create such a full atmospheric sound with just two instruments gives me goose bumps. To all those who say music will never be what it once was, shut the fuck up and listen to Archie and The Bunkers.

I put my headphones on and started listening to the entire album. The first two songs are so mature that I almost have to check in again to see if it’s them. It is. The song “Sally Lou” has a soul in Cullen’s voice of someone who has loved and lost. The drums are straightforward with the organ playful, but the voice is desperate. Vocals grow from desperate to thoughtful to almost resignation and back to fierce urgency. It has wonderful mood swings, much like any other song on this album, which I find not only exceptional but a true mirror of everyone’s psyche.

I somehow put “Lady RKO” in the same category as “Sally Lou,” although it is different at its very core. Not so atmospheric like “Sally Lou,” as Cullen’s voice is defiant. It’s sex, an à lá Jim Morrison infused song.

The next song, “I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Going To Do,” has a beginning that reminds me of The Cramps. Marching through comes then a deeply ironic and almost rage-filled vocals that make you sit up straight in your chair. It is one of my very favourites, if it’s even possible to categorise.

“Knifuli Knifula” is ok. After listening to the whole album, this one doesn’t quite spark anything inside me. Nevertheless, it’s good filler.

“You’re The Victim,” oh yes. It’s a true confrontational song with political hues. As soon as you hear, “I’m an American but I’m not free,” you’re hooked. Starting with a dominant military drum rolling and a twirling organ melody, it enthrals you in its very depths of possible interpretations.

“Different Track” is a vigorous party song. I can imagine people dancing and singing to it without giving it too much thought. But, when you listen to it closely, you can’t stop to be awed again by the depths of their lyrics, like “But my mind will start to wear out […] This world really has gone mad.” How old are they again?

“Miss Taylor” is a rhythmic feast with no time to let you breathe. It’s fast and full with a steady drumbeat holding the organ spirals going frenetically up and down.

“Austria” is as steady as it goes. Its repetitive background chords help to warp you in a never-ending loop, where the vocals achieve a higher urgency to be heard.

“I Wish I Could”, which is actually sung by Cullen, must be the poppiest of them all– the album’s hymn so to speak. It’s got all ingredients: well-known beat, catchy chorus and a sweet melody at large. A punk power pop song par excellence.

“Trade Winds” follows the same scheme as “I Wish I Could,” albeit being a whole lot more punk. It is a robust song that in its hurriedness shows a dominant attitude.

If the last one was fast, “The Last Stooge” takes no longer than a heartbeat. The intro has a delicious crescendo, rising up to vocals with a frenetic insistence that reminds me of some songs of Murder City Devils.

And dear “Joanie.” What a delightful way to end a perfect album. An instrumental aerial atmospheric piece that takes you to that place you know exists but never saw.

Archie and the Bunkers is a revelation. Let’s just hope they continue to amaze us because, for now, it’s difficult to imagine anything coming out better than this one. But then again, remember those who say good music is no more and how terribly wrong they are.

Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York

Archie and the Bunkers

Heatwave Magazine

Victor Torpedo Karaoke Live Show

Review for Heatwave Magazine
Some Weird Sin – George Tavern – 20 November 2015

Among a mix of mesmerised faces, transfixed eyes, and some odd bewitched stares, all of us had, at some special point, one thing in common– the glorious laughter of pure ecstasy. There were a lot of excited jaw-droppers on this first cold night of winter.

Victor Torpedo, as one-man band with his Karaoke Show, is definitely not your type of showman. Hell, I don’t even think there’s a type out there that can label exactly what Torpedo did on that stage. Coming from a long and steady background of exceptional bands, like Tedio Boys, 77, The Parkinsons, Tiguana Bibles, Blood Safari and Subway Riders, we know that whatever Torpedo has in mind will be great. And hot damn, so it was! He doesn’t only have the skills, the passion, and the dedication; Torpedo has also the heart. Once you’ve seen him, you’ll stay hooked forever for on top of all of his many talents, he also has that trademarked inviting smile that can and does brighten an entire venue. He loves his fans and his fans know it.

Fiddling with pop rock, splashing it with reggae and smearing it all with electronic music, he reconstructs his acts into a totally new concept. As if supported by the big screen in one of those dodgy karaoke bar’s private rooms, Torpedo frantically flicks the as if karaoke dossier, as if searching for the next karaoke song. These ‘as ifs‘ depict his insanely out-of-this-world Karaoke Show.

Yet he pushes it further, dramatising a karaoke goer after a long dreadful day at work. The grey reality stayed out and he’s here to bloody sing his heart out. Let the drinks pour and forget all about rules, obligations, and all the derivatives. On a Friday night, he is the master of the microphone; the player has taken over the worker, or the bon vivant over the submissive labourer. But not completely though, as these two are fighting, and they are fighting hard: the despair of the blue-collar ascends whilst the irony of the bohemian tries to kick him in the balls. Love and hate mate in an orgy of contradicted emotions. It’s all or nothing.

After an intoxicating battle on stage, amidst the exhilarated crowd, the enfant terrible has finally won. The society’s slave is free. And we all went free with him, even if just for one night.

Victor Torpedo

Heatwave Magazine

My first encounter with Lou Reed... and last.


John Zorn himself was counting us in with an old small palm held counting device. John. Zorn. The punk jazz avant-garde performer and great saxophonist. In flesh.

Running directly from school with laptop and all I got my 10 pm ticket at the very last second. The first show at 8 pm was naturally sold out by then. After me just three others got in and already over the limited number. I couldn’t believe I was going to experience a performance of Lou Reed in such an independent atmosphere like taken directly from the 70s of NYC. C'mon, Lou Reed in NYC in the most underground and experimental place you could possible imagine! I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the whole world!
The quintessence of NYC rock and roll was right there. Something surreal for this era, something so special that someone like me born so much later could never ever experience. But there I was.

It wasn't even a ticket, just the normal stamp on my wrist plus a red circle around it. The most expensive ticketless stamp of my life but for sure the most handsome of them all.
I needed to go back in line soon enough for the second show at 10 pm if I wanted to take a good look at Lou. I left my backpack at home just a couple of blocks away, and went for a quick beer at a nice bar nearby.
The venue place, The Stone, is incredibly small, no sign, no bar, no nothing. Just a few rows of chairs aligned with the performance being at the same level. Do you see it? It's like they're all only boys just starting the whole revolutionary movement of Warhol freaking pop culture! Holy moly guacamole! And I’m right here in the city where everything happens. I don't want to leave. Ever.

While waiting in line, the people from the first show were leaving the place with big smiles spread all over their faces. The thrill of anticipation was rising to the point of no return. Excitement was the word of order in that line of ours.

I got front row for I was the third to enter the room.
The first sound tripped down the spine while Lou seated right next to me. Laurie was already seated at her place. At first it was hard to concentrate on the young musicians but they were good so I gave them all my attention. Buke and Gass, he played a guitar-bass hybrid and she a modified baritone-ukulele plus ankle bells. She sings high but softly, a kind of prog-punk anthems and has a sweet presence radiating a constant smile. Comprehensible as she told us how dreadful excited they were to be there with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson.

And then it was time for the Valentine’s special duo to play. Experimental prog-jazz music with Laurie’s electric violin, Lou’s keyboard and guitar, a pianist with long smooth fingers and with Buke and Gass joining later along too.

Like John Zorn was the new Warhol, that tiny space the new Factory and Lou Reed was simply jamming. And I, a mere rock and roll lover in trance.

Pictures of the performance: