In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.
At the beginning of 2019, two forces of pop-punk came together when Kepi Ghoulie (previously of The Groovie Ghoulies) recorded with The Copyrights for a joint full length album. ‘Re-Animation Festival’ was a complete re-recording of the Ghoulies’ classic 1997 LP of the same name…and it more than showed how, over the intervening years, Kepi had retained his status as one of the true kings of cartoon pop-punk. Just as importantly, although in a slightly different format, it put a great set of songs back on catalogue for a new generation of could-be, should-be fans. For those who loved that disc, this companion split 7” should also be considered an important collection filler. Its four previously unavailable tracks put a new spin on the collaboration: as well as offering one new song apiece, The Copyrights cover one of the old Groovie Ghoulies classics and Kepi puts his own spin on something from The Copyrights’ catalogue.
Copenhagen’s Why Sun bill themselves as a “sleepy noise trio”. To most people, especially those old enough to be absorbed in alternative sounds circa 1986, this translates as “heavy gothic shoegaze with dream pop guitar”. There isn’t anything new in the noises Why Sun create – most of their influences come over like the proverbial sledgehammer – but what they lack in originality, they make up for with absolute conviction.
Life is capable of dealing out a surprise or two. One of the biggest musical surprises came in 2017 when ex-XTC drummer Terry Chambers returned from Australia and it subsequently announced he’d been writing and recording new material with his old bandmate Colin Moulding. The likelihood of any XTC members recording together had seemed about as likely as Roger Manning, Jr reforming Jellyfish, but it had quickly become a reality. Fans were, understandably, ecstatic. The resultant EP was good rather than great, but the fact that Moulding had seemingly returned to something resembling full time recording was good news enough.
TC&I then unleashed bigger news when they told the world they’d be playing a handful of live shows to support the release at Swindon Arts Centre. There was more at stake here than just a few new songs, of course; XTC had abruptly stopped touring in 1982 and Colin had a legacy of great material that had never been played in front of an audience. It was time to right that wrong.
Having previously released material mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper and taken musical cues from Sunn O))), Chicago’s Plague of Carcosa are no strangers to a heavy riff. Their 2018 release ‘Rats In The Walls’ required no more than just one track to make its point, but since that number was often delivered at a crawling speed and dragged out to almost fifteen minutes, the effect was like experiencing a full four song EP from most doom/sludge bands.