Social media is a wonderful tool. It can connect us with people across the globe; amuse us, inspire us and introduce us to music and films that might have otherwise escaped our notice. There’s a joy in interacting with people we wouldn’t otherwise meet – through being victims of geography, rather than any desire to do so – and discussing cult bands at length. As anyone moving in such circles will attest, conversations about Pink Floyd, Marillion and the Grateful Dead can effectively seem endless.
The negative side of social media is that to find the gold, we have to sift through the mundane, the verbal attacks, the political tensions and the endless moaning. Only last week, an insightful soul on Twitter suggested that if television was once considered “the idiots lantern”, then the internet could well be “the shitbag’s mirror”, effectively reflecting the bad side of all of us. It’s easy to pour scorn and derision on everything from a keyboard when you don’t have to hold your own in a face to face argument.
Man-Eaters are a hardcore punk band bringing together ex-members of Culo and Bleeding Gums. As you might expect from that heritage, their debut cassette isn’t light and frothy, or yet another release by an identikit pop-punk/Ramonescore act. Throughout its half-dozen tracks, speed is of the essence; but more than that, this Chicago quartet brings a vast amount of musical power to their work, creating an EP of adrenaline charged ugliness that’ll almost definitely appeal to lovers of Motorhead, Speedealer and early Electric Frankenstein.
Formed in 2016, Ditches are a Swedish band who mix garage rock, surf rock and punk. Their 2018 release ‘1000 Elephants’ was mixed and mastered by Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke (both previously of The Marked Men) and featured five frenzied rockers that filled the gap left by Hives when they became more commercial.
At the end of 2014, Tokyo punks The Nerdy Jugheads released their first recordings on an intense EP that took the core sounds of Screeching Weasel and transplanted them via Japan, creating music that blended fine Ramonescore with the nerdy oriental quirks of Hi-Standard. The result was an all-thrashing, all-bouncing five tracker that no pop punk fan should be without. The band returned in the summer of 2016 with three new tracks, issued as one half of a great split release with New Yorkers The Young Rochelles. It’s East meets West in this spit EP face off…who will win this global punk battle of the bands?!
A comprehensive five CD anthology telling the story of independent music from Scotland between 1977 and 1989, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ is an interesting box set. From the no-frills and DIY ethics of punk through to lavish alternative pop, Scotland had more than enough talent to make a huge mark upon music in the 70s and 80s and the country’s greatest bands were every bit as good – and better – than many of the hugely celebrated acts from Manchester and the south. The many independent labels had as much to give the world in terms of underground talent and beyond, so in lots of ways, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ isn’t so much a box set, an anthology or collection as a celebration.
For admirers of Cherry Red’s 2018 power pop and new wave anthology ‘Harmony In My Head’ and Edsel’s Gary Crowley curated box set of punk curios, the first two discs of this five disc set will alone be worth the purchase. Covering the period between 1977 and 1982, as you’d expect, these discs have more than a decent amount of punky fare and the nature of the source material means that various obscurities are released on CD for the very first time.