Noise Annoys: The Descendents do Dublin, plus new music from No Matter, Sister Ghost, Axis Of and Mob Wife
:: Descendents Dublin show
IT'S a veritable punk rock special this week in Noise Annoys, not least because it's high time we mentioned that southern California's finest pop punk pioneers the Descendents are playing at The Academy in Dublin next month.
It's now a mere 25 years since I sprinted out of a QUB exam hall in order to make a flight to London to see their first ever English date at The Garage on my 19th birthday – an instantly sold-out show for which I did not have a ticket. Ah, the optimistic enthusiasm of youth.
Happily, a friendly tout was all too happy to flog me a ticket at a mere four-fold mark-up on its £7.30 face value.
I'm pretty sure the June 9 date in Dublin may actually be the band's first ever Irish gig (corrections/complaints to the usual address) so it will be nice to collect that 'set' of landmark shows by an outfit I've loved since they first assailed my ears on the soundtrack to the classic skate video Speed Freaks, along with drummer Bill Stevenson's 'other' band Black Flag and loads of SST Records labelmates.
Black Flag do, of course, rule, but the nerdier, funnier, hyper-caffeinated bent of the Descendents has always spoken loudest to me. Their classic 1982 debut LP Milo Goes To College was one of the first albums I was determined to buy on vinyl rather than CD, just so I could "hear it the way people heard it back then" or something equally ridiculous.
Anyway, I cannot wait to see them again on home soil playing tunes from their recent 'new recordings of old songs' album 9th & Walnut and all the old classics. Hopefully, the Dublin show gets the Euro portion of their Tourage 2022 jaunt off to a flying start – avoid the touts by grabbing one of the last few tickets right now at Ticketmaster.ie.
:: No Matter – In Spite of You (single, Brassneck)
ONWARDS to some modern, locally sourced pop punk from Belfast's No Matter, who are currently gearing up for the release of their new album In Spite of You.
Their new single is the title track from the upcoming release on Brassneck Records, a fast-paced catchy crunchy singalong with emotionally resonant break-up/betrayal themed lyrics sung by the bass-wielding Cat.
It fairly rips along and in fact isn't a million miles away from the kind of thing the aforementioned Descendents have been doing so well since their mid-90s reactivation, with added vocal harmony sauce. Support slot offer, anyone?
In Spite of You is out now on all digital platforms and you can hear it played live when the band support Epitaph recording artists Off With Their Heads at Voodoo in Belfast on May 18. Keep abreast of all things No Matter at nomatterband.com.
:: Sister Ghost – Cut Like a Thorn (single, Third Bar)
THERE'S yet more quality homegrown punk rock for you to enjoy in the form of the new single from Derry grrrls Sister Ghost.
If Cut Like A Thorn's title seems familiar, that's because this stompy, handclaps n' surfbeats-powered earworm first appeared on the Ghost's excellent Stay Spooky EP last year.
However, as chief spook Shannon O'Neill explains, it's getting a special standalone re-release today in honour of the woman who inspired it – her late grandmother, whose first anniversary falls this weekend.
"Cut Like A Thorn was my first experience of writing to cope with grief," explains the band's singer/guitarist and songwriter.
"I will be giving any money raised through Bandcamp sales of the song to the Foyle Hospice as they do so much for cancer patients and their families here in the North West. It is also Bandcamp Friday this week which means more money raised for the charity."
:: Mob Wife – Eat With Your Eyes (album, self-released) / Axis Of – Bella Pacifica (album, No Dancing)
A DOUBLE-serving of locally sourced punk for you now in the form of two excellent and distinctly different new albums.
The third Axis Of record Bella Pacifica has been out for a couple of weeks now and it just refuses to get old, while the debut LP from Mob Wife, Eat With Your Eyes, was released last Friday and has been in heavy rotation at Noise Annoys Towers ever since.
Each serves/creates a contrasting mood: Belfast trio Mob Wife are angrier sounding and more prone to violent introspection, salving their existential wounds with a soothing balm of shapeshifting, pleasingly scruffy/scuzzy alt-rock meets post-hardcore, as previewed on the cracking singles Petri Dish, Brand New House and Cutting Teeth On Suburban Curbs.
"Right as rain, right as rain" howls Chris Leckey, somewhat unconvincingly, on the latter album opening tune, from beneath a maelstrom of noise: "Catastrophe, inside of me" he yells on the speedy 'my life's a mess, but hey, there's pills for that' skronker and album highlight, Wrist, before pleading about how "next time, it won't be the same" on the delightfully noisy stew of broiling guitars that is Hungry Ears.
Perhaps he's still yearning for the "different times and different hair" and "FIFA 10 on a tiny TV" of his salad days living in south Belfast squalor, detailed on playfully queasy quiet/loud banger Brand New House, or maybe it's something to do with the toxic relationship/environment detailed on the seasick hardcore balladry of Comfort In Your Sheets ("when the boot is on the right foot, we can all be happy").
Epic album finale The Dinner Lady, The Driver, The Fire borrows half a riff from Nevermind's closer Something In The Way and adds expertly deployed guest vocals from Elaine Malone for its noirish, slow building tale of murder-suicide by burning car. "Sit down, breathe easy and this will be easy", indeed – I for one, cannot wait to hear this one live at the Ulster Sports Club on May 12, with support from Lauren Ann and Smallmint.
If Mob Wife sound like they still sometimes have trouble leaving the house/sofa, the great outdoors-obsessed Axis Of have long specialised in translating negative waves into uplifting 'seize the day/world' musical exultations.
The north coasters' third album, Bella Pacifica, is chock full of Axis Of's signature lazerbeam guitars, sing-songy gang vocal hollering and crashy-bashy percussion, a musical forumla tailor-made to blow away their/your angst-clogged cobwebs in the manner of a bracing cliff-top walk or exhilarating cold ocean dip.
Current single and album highlight Blackcomber is a typically uplifting blast of wailing guitars, fuzzing bass, pounding drums and soaring emotive vocals from singer/bassist Ewen Friers. There's even an excellent trumpet fanfare courtesy of horn-for-hire Steve Bland, just for good measure.
Named for a popular campsite in beautiful British Columbia, the suitably rousing title track offers us an epic tale of passing seasons/emotions with a simple but effective single word chorus – "Bella!" – and yet more bonus brass.
"Sing a song for an audience of one / hike the hill the rain's been p***ing on / For a year your life just took you prisoner, I spent that year just watching you endure," croons Ewen on the thumping quiet/loud anthem Little Squamish, the chorus of which is simply "tough luck / It's tough love".
Other highlights include the mosh-pit friendly 'move any mountain' anthem Alpine Way ("Shadows stalk me every year, but I'm going up the slopes renewed – climb to the highest heights with you"), the uber-catchy single Beach Light, Skaha Behemoths's epic class war call-to-arms and the seismic yet slinky groove of San Juan Renfrew.
A more experimental late-album moment, Millar's Ridge is another stand-out, its poppier synth-enhanced charms offering an exciting glimpse of how Axis Of might further evolve their sound in the future, as is the indie rocking sound of urgent album closer Okan Set.
The band will finally get to launch their latest record at The Limelight on May 20, with top supporting turns from Brand New Friend and Big Daisy. Tickets for that frankly unmissable show can be had in advance from via Ticketmaster.ie, while Bella Pacifica is waiting for you at axisof.bandcamp.com.