Tuesday, 30 August 2016

THE WOLFHOUNDS – UNTIED KINGDOM (…OR HOW TO COME TO TERMS WITH YOUR CULTURE) (Odd Box Records 2 x LP, D/L).

After all the years since the release of the NME C86 cassette, there is still a massive misunderstanding about its legacy. The lazy myth is that it was full of tracks by ungainly, precious, lo-fi bands that were part of a “scene” that ultimately lead to the birth of insufferably twee 90s bands such as Belle And Sebastian and their ilk………………..the reality is that C86 was a snapshot of that year’s burgeoning growth of independent labels inspired by Rough Trade, Factory, Beggars Banquet, etc, etc, etc, etc and the D.I.Y ethics of the time, very much like the earlier C81 cassette that carried tracks by the far more influential Pere Ubu, Orange Juice, Specials, Cabaret Voltaire and The Raincoats amongst other now legendary bands. Although there were a few delicate Indie Pop bands on C86, the cassette’s track list also included slightly shambolic Psychedelia from Primal Scream, Nuggets inspired Garage Rock from The Mighty Lemon Drops (still the last great band to emerge from Wolves), The Wedding Present’s Punky guitar pop, Half Man Half Biscuit’s Scouse sarcasm, angular Beefheart inspired strangeness from Stump, the unspeakably shite Soup Dragons, Age Of Chance mixing beats and guitars ahead of their time and of course ferocious Garage/Punk from the mighty Wolfhounds, with the only thing linking them together was that they were all “Indie” in the truest sense of the word, way before the label was stuck on any band of white boys with guitars and issues. Although considered to be a “C86 band” more by association than because of any musical style, The Wolfhounds began as a slightly askew Indie Pop/Rock band with a clutch of great singles on the Pink label……..their absolutely brilliant second single Anti Midas Touch still stands up today as a classic Garage/Punk influenced Indie Rock record……..evolving into a harder edged guitar band with a much denser sound by the end of the decade, they always stood out from the other bands on the compilation. Splitting in early 1990 and splintering into bands as diverse as the more experimental Moonshake and the Acid Jazz outfit Mother Earth, The Wolfhounds seemed to be destined to be yet another Indie Rock footnote with most of the other bands that were included on C86…………………….however…………………………..The Wolfhounds are back and better than ever!!!!  The band reformed properly in 2006 at the request of St Etienne’s Bob Stanley to celebrate 20 years since the release of C86, and inflicted a severe guitar noisefest on an unsuspecting Indie Pop crowd at London’s ICA, and since 2012 they have been recording and releasing new material. Still an abrasive guitar band with a Garage/Punk vibe they have continued to develop their sound without losing the fury that made their songs so memorable the first time round and after last year’s critically lauded recent singles compilation, Middle Aged Freaks, along with the almost simultaneous reissue of their 1986 debut Unseen Ripples From A Pebble, The Wolfhounds release their first standalone LP since 1990’s Attitude.

Released on the Welsh Indie Odd Box Records, the new album from The Wolfhounds, Untied Kingdom (…..or How to Come To Terms With Your Culture), is a logical progression from the previous recordings with raging guitars tempered with additional horns and keys and David Callahan’s distinctive vocals augmented with an outstanding trio of guest singers (Katherine M Whittaker (Evans the Death), Elin Grimstad (Je Suis Animal) and Astrud Steehouder (Paper Dollhouse)) creating a sound that is both squalling Punk Blues and something that is more spacious and modern in equal measures. It conjours up demons of the fiercest Rock’n’Roll along with the unfettered experimentation of singer Callahan’s previous band, Moonshake to form an expansive whole which catches the ear on every spin on our Dancette. Unlike many of The Wolfhounds C86 contemporaries/early 90s bands that are still gigging today they are not a nostalgia act feeding off past glories but continually pushing forward and still relevant…………Untied Kingdom is a modern as any young band could hope to be, but as wise and disturbed as any alert adult has to be. An apt comparison would be the recent output of Wire. This is the band’s most varied release yet, from the opening, acapella, iPhone-manipulated folk resurrection of ‘Apparition’ to the apocalyptic repetition of the electric violin and detuned guitar driven ‘Across The River of Death’ Untied Kingdom takes you on a 50 minute plus journey that takes in sample mangled dub (the fantastic ‘Lucky Heather’), intense Garage Rock (‘Now I’m A Killer’) and late-night unplugged lo-fi (‘Oppositeland’) along the way, going musically and lyrically pretty much everywhere all other underground bands can’t or won’t go. As someone smarter than us said “The album summons sometimes dystopic, sometimes frighteningly dysfunctional hallucinations of desperate working life and insecurity, while at the same time being raw and hardcore and celebratory as danceable blues”. Forget the C86 tag, that was a long time ago……………..The Wolfhounds are a vibrant, modern Rock ‘n’ Roll band that deserve your attention.

Due for release by Odd Box Records on 14th October on 2 x LP and as a digital download, Untied Kingdom (…..or How to Come To Terms With Your Culture) is available to pre-order from The Wolfhounds Bandcamp page here http://thewolfhounds.bandcamp.com/album/untied-kingdom-or-how-to-come-to-terms-with-your-culture. There are a few other bands from the C86 tape we would like to see back again, for starters it would be good to have Stump and The Mighty Lemon Drops doing a few gigs……….but please God, never, ever let the Soup Dragons reform!!!!!


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