Last Years Youth

Subculture zine — Issue 4


Vacant Lot

Vacant Lot

Hi Chad. Where, when and how did Vacant Lot form? Were you all native Torontonians?

Paul & I were already playing & writing music together with like-minded individuals, did a few gigs under other names but it just never took. Really, it just started over a pint in our favourite local. 

What was the skinhead scene like in Toronto in the 80s and early 90s? In the early 90s, the ARA and various right-wing groups were all over the media – what was it like being part of a scene that was under so much scrutiny? What was the musical and political landscape of the era?

The early to mid-’80s was great. Some of the best times of our lives, meeting new people in which was a fairly new subculture for us. All the great music that was coming out etc… Then when the politics hi-jacked it, it divided a lot of people & for me personally, it was never the same. Wasn’t easy navigating the landmines for the band. 

What bands were big influences on you guys? I hear a lot of similarities to The Crack and mid 80’s era Business. Were there many other active Oi!/skinhead-related bands in the area at the time?

Ya, luved both those bands but for me & for the most part, I can safely speak for Paul. It was when I first heard “The Cockney Rejects” which led to other bands like “Red Alert” “Blitz” etc… that we wanted to give it a go ourselves & now we’re pretty close friends with most of them thru touring over the yrs with different bands especially the boys from “Red Alert”. The only other band I knew of back then who were close to what we were doing was Gassenhauer from Montreal but we didn’t know them & to be honest, I never heard any similarities between the two of us. 

How were live gigs for Vacant Lot – any memorable stories/highlights?

There’s a few but the one that sticks out for me was “Mid-west Punk Fest” in Detroit w/The Rogues & ALD. 

While you were only active for a few years, Vacant Lot managed to record the first Canadian Oi! LP and it’s an absolute banger and still holds up as one of the best Canadian ones to date. How did the record come to be put out on the controversial Rock-O-Rama label? Do you think the label choice may have been an obstacle for the band? Were there any regrets after the fact? Has it ever been reissued?

We knew they were putting out political records but they were the only label offering at the time. Us never having a record contract before as well as being young & naive at the time jumped at the chance thinking it wouldn’t really affect us as we weren’t a political band. How wrong we were as no punk bands would play or share the stage with us after that. I knew that was the beginning of the end. Yes, ROR has re-issued it twice (without our permission). Most recently in 2017 on Orange vinyl. They’ve done the same with “The Rogues” as well. Thieving bastards still robbing us from the grave. We’ve never received a penny & don’t want his money anyways. Hope the cunt’s rotting in his own private hell. That’s all I got to say about that. 

I’d imagine that considering how strong your sound was, there would have eventually been opportunities to gig in Europe etc. What caused the split of the band?

We’d lost our drummer (Wayne) due to Griffin’s ever-growing political leanings towards the far right. Paul & I wanted to give it one more shot. We didn’t really know anyone to replace Wayne so Griffin said he knew a guy & tbh I personally don’t remember if we even rehearsed with him, I think he just knew the songs. We had a 2 set show booked on a Sunday night at “Call the Office” in London, Ontario. We played the first set with no hitch, went on to play the second one & though there wasn’t any coming from the crowd, someone approached Paul and I afterward to tell us our drummer was throwing up the Heil Hitler salute between drum beats. Right then & there Paul & I said almost in unison that it’s done. It was that simple. 

After Vacant Lot finished, you went on to form Bitter Grin which to me sounds like a band that you built on the sound of Vacant Lot with, and you were also around longer with a more beefed up discography. What do you feel were the main differences between those bands, and how was the reaction to Bitter Grin compared to Vacant Lot? Are you more proud of one project than the other at all?

Yes, Bitter Grin was very much built on the sound of VL due to Paul & I writing 95% of it. Though Griffin will tell you different (chuckles to self), he only had a hand in helping write 2 songs being “Cheers To You” & “At The Border”. We grew musically with Bitter Grin though the 1st one turned into more of an experiment imo only knowing we wanted to stay in the genre but at the same time distance ourselves from how VL ended. The 2nd release was more directional when we brought in some talented musicians we knew growing up (Pat Ferrigan, Corey Atreo, JP McDonald, Justin McWilliams & the list goes on) However, the 3rd release that’s still shelved to this day due to lack of production is the one that could’ve possibly brought us to another level, our best to date imo. Lack of money has it collecting dust. Hopefully one day we can dig it out. We rode a great wave with BG touring the US and Europe but that 3rd release (unreleased) project being shelved took the wind out of us (too long a story to get into, there were many reasons) 

Can you tell us about Class Assassins and the band’s involvement with Insurgence Records?

I took a kind of hiatus from playing music for a while until the boys which came to be known as “The Class Assassins” come calling. It was basically an idea that Dan Farr (Hockey Teeth) started. He wanted to form a band with all his favourite (old school) musicians. I was the last member to join though it took a lot of convincing on Dan’s part as I didn’t want to just join a typical generic hardcore band which I thought it would be. I said make me a practice tape & I’ll let you know. It wasn’t anything like I expected so off we went. Did some demos & a 7″ on “Soap & Spikes Records”. I was mates with some of the boys from “Insurgence” already thru them attending TCA shows. We did what’s now known as the “No Justice” 7″ & then “TKO Records” responded well to our demos & then co-released the full-length “State of Emergency” with Insurgence. 

More recently – you’ve started a new band, Vacant Rogues. Can you tell us more about the band?

Yes, we’re all very excited about this new project. It’s made up of ex Vacant Lot/Rogues & of course, “Sunderland Pete” (ex roadie/tour manager of Red Alert) who co-fronts the band on vocals along with me. As we’ve maintained our friendships over the yrs, it just happened one drunken weekend near the border of Michigan & Indiana. Our first release is a 4 song EP called “Brothers in Arms” on KB Records (Germany) Nov 27th and will be available thru our website shortly afterward to distribute in N. America. 

What do you make of the current Oi! and skinhead scene of today – any newer bands that you rate?

Haven’t really been out lately due to this Covid-19 thing so hard to say. There’s a lot of good new stuff out there eg: The Mistakes UK, The Divided (ex Bonecrusher), The Berzerkers,  Riotgun etc… 

If you could, what would you say are your all-time top 10 influential albums?

Top ten in no particular order:
Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks
The Clash – s/t
The Clash – London Calling
Cocksparrer – Shock Troops
Cockney Rejects – Greatest Hits Vol.2
The Ruts – The Crack
The Damned – Black Album
Stiff Little Fingers – Nobody’s Heroes
The Jam – Setting Sons
Killing Joke – s/t

There’s defo a few honourable mentions which I could throw in but the list would be so long.

How is the current Toronto scene – any pubs, record shops etc you’d recommend checking out to visitors?

Again, there’s no live music due to Covid-19 but I generally shop for my stuff @ Kops Records on Queen st. West. Neurotica Records is very good as is “She Said Boom &” Rotate This”.

Thanks a lot for the interview Chad



When and where did Zanzara form? 

Zanzara was a project that originally formed in Salerno, Italy a few years ago. Some initial recordings were made then but it was fully-formed during the first lockdown around April or May 2020 in London. Due to the distancing restrictions in place, it was recorded segments. 

While you are London-based, most of you are Italian. How did you all end up in London? Are you all in the same borough or are you spread out? Did you meet there, or back home? If push came to shove, would you say you prefer classic English or Italian Oi! bands? 

I am the only Italian member but I was born here in London. Both of my parents are Italian so I have been fluent my whole life. Of course, growing up in London, English is my first language. I listen to punk from all over the world but, for me, my preference would be English or French-language Oi! There’s just something about the French language that lends itself perfectly to Oi! I love Camera Silens, Rixe, Syndrome 81, Durs Coeurs, Condor…loads of good ones! If it came to choosing between classic  Italian and English Oi! I would have to choose English…early Cockney Rejects and Cock Sparrer are untouchable in my book… 

Hearing your debut LP “Gli Occhi Dello Stato” recently, it was the most excited I’d gotten about a new Oi! LP in quite a long time. Musically you have the 80’s lo-fi aesthetic mixed with some serious melodies ala New Age era Blitz and heavy effects on the guitars. Along with the obvious references to Italians Nabat and even a bit of Plastic Surgery, modern bands it brings to mind for me are Pura Mania, Fuerza Bruta, Criminal, and Condor. What bands both old and current do you rate as both influences and peers, and do you think these comparisons listed above are accurate? 

Thank you! And you have nailed the Zanzara sound and influences! Blitz is a very important reference as there are definitely aspects of both their punk and post-punk style in Zanzara. I am a huge fan of ‘Second Empire Justice’ and ‘The Killing Dream’. Another big influence is Camera Silens who mixed in so much melody in their sound without losing any of the aggression. As far as modern bands – you have nailed that too! Condor is a definite favourite… an amazing mix of power and melody. I love NY Hounds too…I think it’s the bands that aren’t afraid to incorporate melody into their sound that I really go for – I love the tough aggression but when it’s mixed with some addictive melody it’s just unstoppable in my opinion. 

Zanzara - Gli Occhi Dello Stato

What do you make of the UK skinhead scene? While London is very international, it’s fair to say the rest of the British scene isn’t. Do you guys plan to get around the country when you’re able to for gigs, or will you be focusing on London and mainland Europe?  

In London the scene is very mixed and it overlaps…so you get the same people at the shows – punks, skinheads, post punks etc…even if you go to a classic band’s show like, say, The Damned, there will be tons of skinheads there and vice versa for a classic Oi! Bands show where there will be a lot of punks. I think that’s great that it’s not segregated. I can’t say much about the rest of the country as I don’t know how it works there but in London it’s a very co-existing scene. It would be great to play shows when the world gets back to normal! 

What do you think of current newer British bands, and how do you think they compare to the often younger scene in Europe? 

I think there are currently some really good British bands…Chubby and the Gang, The Chisel, Dead Meat, TV Crime, Drug Victim, Incisions, Rat Cage…loads of cool stuff. I think the British scene is getting heavier and tougher-sounding in general…there’s a more hardcore-tinged sound weaving its way into the music whereas I’d say that a lot of European bands still do the classic ‘77 sound which we seem to have moved away from here I’d say.  

Can you tell us about the Italian scene in London? 

There isn’t much of an Italian scene here in London…there’s a great Spanish scene! Of course, London is super multi-cultural so there are people from all over in the scene but I’d definitely say that the strongest national scene outside of English is definitely Spanish. Overall I’d say that Spanish and Spanish-speaking punk rock is my favourite… Spanish post-punk is phenomenal, the leaders of the genre for sure. I absolutely lobe South American punk too who currently have some amazing bands like Muro, Ignorantes, Las Ratpunks, Inyeccion, Farmaco, Burako… 

How did you come to release your LP on Common People Records from Spain? Could you tell us a bit about the release, and how to get a hold of a copy? 

I have known Jordi who runs Common People for a while. I run No Front Teeth Records and we have traded and talked in the past. I love the stuff he puts out so I sent him the songs and he was into putting it out which I was super-happy about. If people are after a copy they can go to the Common People website while there are still any left! The release really came to exist because of having a gap with my other bands during the first lockdown. It gave me time to revisit the earlier recordings that would probably never have come out otherwise…it probably would have been left as an unfinished, unreleased project. 

What are 10 current bands you’d recommend checking out? 

White Stains, Kaleidoscope, Biznaga, NY Hounds, Bad Nerves, Karpatos, Cadenaxo, Puppy and the Handjobs, Minima and Rata Negra. 

Outside of the Oi! world, what genres would you say seep into Zanzara’s sound? 

There is definitely a strong post-punk element that I mentioned earlier – this is something I just can’t seem to escape in anything I write! It sort of lies underneath everything I do…I specifically chose a rough and raw guitar sound for Zanzara but added a bit of phase, flange and chorus to give it a slight post-punk edge so I’d definitely say that that’s a big element of the sound. If you were to describe that, it kind of sounds like it wouldn’t work but it does! The end result doesn’t lose any of that raw Oi! aggression even though it’s a more layered sound overall.  

What do your lyrics tend to be about? 

When I write Zanzara lyrics I have a specific subject or theme in mind but I try to convey it as vaguely as possible so that it is hard to dissect the lyrics and work out exactly what the song is about. I do this with other bands I sing in like La Rabbia and Miscalculations as well. Much of what I write will have aspects which can be quite hard to decipher and that’s what I look for in lyrics as a songwriter and listener. I’ve never been one to want to be directly moulded by other people’s words – it’s much more exciting to listen and make your own mind up from what you have heard and learned. 

Thanks for answering these, anything you’d like to add? 

Thank you! I am overwhelmed with the response the Zanzara album has had and how fast the press is selling out! It is about to go into a second press with some alternate artwork. There are also some new recordings in the works so stay tuned! 

Roy McMurter

Roy McMurter

Could you introduce yourself?\

My name is Roy, I’m 50 and I have yet to grow up but I have lived in 16 different towns and cities so far, the longest being the city I currently reside in, Victoria. Previous cities I have lived in are Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

How and where did you get introduced to the skinhead cult? Were you a punk before, any gateway subculture?

Although I originally got into punk I don’t really consider that I ever was a punk but rather just into punk. Yeah, I might have sported a Mohawk for a few months and even had a stint with some flower-coloured hair as a teen but I think it was really just in exploration of figuring out who I really was. The original skinheads I met and knew were all Nazis but they were actually also dressed well, not the American Boneheads you always hear about whose only resemblance to skinhead culture is a pair of boots. I liked the prim and proper working class look they sported even as their political ideals and world views were lacking, to say the least. They appreciated my fearlessness and willingness to fight until it was them in my sights.  Let’s just say that our loosely based alliance became evermore strained as I learned more about true skinhead culture.


What was the nature of the scene like in Western Canada back then? Were there regional distinctions?

When I first got into the skinhead scene in the ’80s there wasn’t much of a scene, maybe around 3 skinheads in Calgary and 5 or 6 in Edmonton which could have been about the same in any other city in Canada (other than Toronto and Montreal). There were, however, lots of semi-organized racist groups that called themselves skinheads at that time; obviously, I’m not counting their numbers.

What were the staple bands that got you hooked, and what would you say were the popular bands of the day back then? Was the American “hardcore skin” a thing, or just purely Oi? How did you manage to get the gear at the time, were there any shops catering to the skinhead/mod scene?

When I first heard The Business I was immediately so hooked that I honestly can’t even tell you what my favourite band was before. I mean when I was 12 and into metal, it was Judas Priest, then 15 and into punk it was Subhumans (UK) but I first heard Suburban Rebels when I was 17 and it changed my entire interest in music altogether. Shortly after being introduced to The Business, I got the Carry On Oi! compilation just because the Business were on it and it became my introduction to every band on the album, especially the Gonads, the 4 Skins and my next favourite band The Last Resort.

It was spring 1988 and one of the skinheads I knew actually went to Oi! The Main Event, all the music that I ever knew that was associated with the scene was Oi! I never even heard of any American Skinhead Hardcore for another couple of years.

In the beginning, I lucked out with clothes, always able to buy second hands but most of the new stuff was all mail order. There were stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto that you could buy Doc’s from but only in very limited selection. Private record shops at the time carried almost everything and what they didn’t have they were always willing to try and get so as long as you knew what you wanted it could be found. The shop in Toronto had the most/best gear, as far as I knew at the time, they were the only shop that had Fred Perry’s and Ben Sherman’s as well.

Can you paint a picture of what it was like in Vancouver and/or Calgary in the 90s?

So, like I said earlier, there was a bit of a bonehead scene in the late ’80s. Real skinheads were sparse.  In Winnipeg, there was a loose-knit crew that flip-flopped what they were as they pledged allegiances back and forth but it was all sorted out somewhere around 1990. In Calgary, there was The Final Solution Skinheads who decided to go to war with me and well, let’s just say it didn’t go as they had anticipated. A couple Nazis from America showed up in Edmonton and turned the entire scene upside down for a while, challenging the skinheads there to conform to them or drop the scene. Nazi’s from Toronto and Montreal travelled to Calgary and Vancouver and challenged those scenes as well.

Sure there were real skinheads scattered all around but they were few and far between. The ‘80s were not a real good time for the skinhead scene in Canada in my experience. There were no real Oi! shows although I did get to see UK Subs and Broken Bones. I mainly got my chops in the scene from fighting than from supporting venues as one was so much more available than the other.

What made you hang up your boots in the end, and do you think it counts if you still associate with the scene as you do?

By 1997 I had a pretty big falling out with most of the scene. Everything changed in the ’90s, there was a new generation of skinheads that took music and fashion far more seriously and it seemed snobby to me. I had experienced it before, when I first started out in the ’80s, meeting a couple of Edmonton skinheads who challenged me for wearing shorts and runners in the summer instead of button-downs, jeans and boots (as they were wearing). I ran into them again at a show that fall where I finally fit the fashion criteria and they patted me on the back, “oh, you really are…” It always annoyed me, I never got into the scene to be critiqued for my appearance or appropriate music choices, I told them to fuck off. Funny enough, I never saw them again.

By the ’90s people were forming bands and actually trying to make a go of having a real scene, it wasn’t anything I was used to. I got fat in my early 20’s and couldn’t find shirts that fit me anymore so just gave up on that. I got my chops in the scene by fighting nazis not from supporting local shows (as there weren’t any) but by the mid-’90s there weren’t many nazis left. At the time I felt like the scene had become weak; the new skinheads weren’t fighters and my own arrogance had me quietly removed. I had a falling out with the entire scene and I knew it and lost interest in anything skinhead-related for about 10 years.


Standard and obligatory scene veteran question – How do you think things have changed (scene-wise) over the last 30 years in BC? Are they good or bad changes, in your opinion?

It’s funny how everything has no choice but to change over time. I think the fact that there is any skinhead scene around at all is a great thing. This is a deeply misunderstood scene that is rarely even talked about outside of its own circles. Nothing advertises to become a skinhead so anyone that takes interest in it does so on their own volition and I love that. There are still lots of skinheads around from the ’90s too unlike most of the ones I knew in the ’80s which speaks a lot about each of those generations.

It takes a big man to admit he was wrong but I can look back now and say it. The scene didn’t need more thugs but it did need musicians and supporters and to retain its own fashion sense which the ’90s did and is still doing far better these days than it was pre-1990 in western Canada. I don’t consider myself a skinhead but only because I don’t want to disrespect those that are doing it far better than I ever did. I don’t think that there is anyone who just likes every single skinhead or every single band but all in all I think the scene today is pound for pound as good as it’s ever been since I first joined. I’m happy just to hang around these days.

How are things in Victoria for gigs/pubs/etc?

HaHa! You tell me! I come out when I can and I definitely get along with everyone much better these days. I’d say gigs were going pretty good until 2020…

What bands are you listening to these days?

Although I do listen to some Oi! still, it’s just mixed in with all kinds of shit. I’d have to say Nine Pound Hammer is what I listen to most often but I am constantly mixing up punk, metal, old country music, funk, soul, old ska, whatever the mood suits me. I doubt there is another person that could listen to my entire playlist and enjoy everything on it.

Any final comments?

I just want to add that my most memorable moment as a skinhead was going to see Desmond Dekker and the Aces in 1994. Our crew walked in and not only were we the only skinheads but we were pretty much also the only white kids. We got stared down pretty good as we took a table right up front, until Desmond Dekker walked out on stage, took a look at us and said, “I would like to thank the skinheads for coming out tonight, you have supported me throughout my entire career.” And just like that, pitchers of beer were sent to our table and everyone was talking to us as if we were all old friends. Good times. 

DJ Scene – Vancouver

Hi, can you tell us a little about yourself- who you are, where you’re from, where you spin records?

JG – Jonny Grayston, East Vancouver. Last spot I played was the Heatley, but there’s not a lot going on these days obviously. Previous residences include The Astoria, The Waldorf, The Biltmore, and the Cobalt/Boxcar.

MF – My name is Mike Flintoff, I was born and raised in the suburbs outside of Vancouver. Close to 20 years now East Vancouver has been home. I’ll be found playing records under the name Your Man Flint as well as playing in local bands, the Tranzmitors being my mainstay long-running band. As for where I am playing records, basically any current musical bar or venue that is able to survive in the Vancouver climate.

Where did your love of music come from?

JG – Do I love music because I’m miserable? Or am I miserable because I love music? Couldn’t tell you which came first, but my first emotional responses to records came from stuff played by my older sister in the early/mid-80s. Platinum Blonde, Depeche Mode, then LL Cool J? That one scene from Pretty In Pink with Ducky Dale spazzing out to Otis Redding was my intro to real soul. Punk brought me to 2Tone and then someone told me The Specials’ best songs were covers, and so on came the OG reggae.

MF – It all started with my parents, their love of music was shared with me from day one. The first step to any family road trip as a child began with my Dad making a mixtape from LPs. In fine tradition, it would kick off with Elton John Crocodile Rock! (Elton fan or not, you can’t mess with the infectious driving melody of that tune). My Dad educated me on British R&B; Kinks, Them, Stones, Yardbirds, Zombies, etc. Fun fact my Dad was born and began his life in the same town that The Zombies are from, St. Albans, England North of London. My mother introduced me to the likes of T-Rex and Bowie. When I heard the needle drop on T-Rex cranked up full on the family stereo, it meant get out of the house and stay out of my Mom’s cleaning path! Like a Swiffer ad dancing with a mop but in the 80s to a kick-ass soundtrack.

What got you into collecting?

JG – That’s hard to say…I guess it’s just what was done? Coming up in the 90s, being into old-timey shit, vinyl was the format. Sure we bought a lot of comps and represses, and then if a song was particularly significant you’d try to cop a 45. Obviously, we were broke and value-oriented, so more songs for less money was the M.O. but once you buy that first $10 45, the $20 45 becomes easier to justify…and it just goes up from there

MF – Not only were the classics of the 60s and 70s filling my musical education subconscious, my parents also consistently added a current record of the time to their collection on paydays that allowed for it. A portion of that record collection resides with me to this day. I would have to say it began there. Collecting music just seemed like a normal thing I thought all families did. That tradition is now being carried on with my daughter!

How did you get into DJing?

JG – I’d played house parties for fun here and there, dropping whatever genre, but it wasn’t until I was living in Portland and I went to Mattie and Chazz’s Ghost Town Soul Club that I saw what a proper night could be like. I figured I had some records – nothing close to theirs, mind – and when I ended up back in Vancouver someone asked me to do a soul night. Long story short we ended up packing out the Astoria for a couple years and then moved onwards and upwards.

MF – I was late to the game with playing records. The focus for me was writing and playing live music with bands. I was first exposed to records being played in bars when DJs played between bands. This would become another outlet of musical education for being introduced to music. The first time I had the opportunity to select and play records would have been from DJ Ska-T who I met when playing in bars. He gave me the opportunity to sit in on his University radio show and take a crack at DJing on his show. Usually, Scotty was hungover from DJing the night before and let me take the wheel. From there I got the bug and slowly began playing records sneaking on the tables at friend’s DJ nights.

Reggae or Soul?

JG – Soul was my mainstay for decades but honestly, after seven years of the trials and tribulations of the East Van Soul Club I just couldn’t hear it for a while. Running a night that turns into a business changes how you listen to music, and not for the better. I took a good while away and now if I’m listening to soul it’s slow jams and mid-tempo heartbreakers. Reggae on the other hand…nonstop forever.

MF – Damn this question…..Reggae!!! Other than the records I learned as a kid from my parents, 60s Jamaican music hit me hard like no other! Found my way there backwards via the covers of 2 Tone ska.

Top 5 tracks?

JG – Ouf, the worst question for my ADHD.
Pat Kelly’s “If It Don’t Work Out” always takes top spot, followed by Garnet Mimms’ “As Long As I Have You” and then the next three constantly rotate with recent pickups.
I did just cop the last piece of a killer Keith Hudson trilogy – Ken Boothe’s “Old Fashioned Way”, U-Roy’s “Dynamic Fashion Way” and now finally Dennis Alcapone’s “Spanish Omega (Amigo?)”. Also a ruthless Techniques double-sider, “There Comes A Time / It’s You I Love”.

MF – Top 5 tracks of my lifetime? Year? Month? Genre? …I’ll have to get back to you on this one. Seriously an impossible question! Come for a pint next time I play records and you decide.

Last words?

JG – Shoutout to the boys from Seattle’s Emerald City Soul Club, hugely influential in my DJ life, who just had what could be their last-ever weekender (at LoFi anyway). The world is in a weird spot and who knows what’s going to happen to our way of doing things when we’re eventually able to get out and play in the world. Honestly, this may be it for me and I can only hope there are some young fools who’ll keep it alive and do it up proper.

MF – Support your local record shops, bars, venues, artists, and make sure the next generation has the same if not better opportunities. Stay Boss!


Out Of Order – Life Sentence

2020 Bad Report / Randale / 8up
Out of Order - Life Sentence
Out of Order - Life Sentence

Out Of Order are what I suppose you’d call a street punk band nowadays, along the likes of Noi!se, Lion’s Law and others who have quite a heavy dose of 90’s American skatepunk/hardcore in their sound. These guys are from Montreal QC, and being active since 2013 you’d call this a sophomore release, and out of the gates I’ll admit it feels more like Pennywise then their presumed namesake Infa Riot, with octave chord solo’s and all. By the time the 3rd track Berlin Wall kicks in though, it’s firmly back in Oi! territory with catchy yet hard sounding riffs thruout and a good bark (worth mentioning – streetpunk/90s references aside, the vocals are gruff and barking thruout). There’s a lot of songs with fast palm-muted parts on here, and it’s these that bring to mind the 90s American punk sounds. Title track “Life Sentence” brings a more mid paced Oi! feel, with again good hooks but without going too poppy and the gruff vocals keeping it raw feeling and definitely reminding me of the good Pressure Point stuff. “Colour Of The Rose” is the next song that I enjoyed, mid-paced but a darker feel which was a nice change and still catchy – think early Lions Law or Ultra Sect. The next track, “Winds” caught me off guard – it’s got minor chords, a bit more of a singier and very melancholic vibe….and definitely the best song of the album for me. Very reminiscent of early Perkele, or for a more current reference Gimp Fist. I’d love to hear these guys go more this direction, it’d definitely make me a fan. There’s then a few more fast tunes that don’t do much for me, then back to a melodic stomper in “Wasted Days” which is strong from the off with a group vocal out the gate setting the tone – again a softer singing style but only slightly, reminding me of Joe Coffee at times. The album finishes on “Fate” and goes out strong – hard and in yer face, instantly reminding me of Seattle’s Junto. On the whole, I think this album has a lot of filler, but in the band’s defence I am just not a fan of the faster palm muted stuff that makes up half of their songs. There’s some very strong songs in here, and while the hardcore old school Oi! fans might not find this to their liking, I’m sure fans of the more modern sound will enjoy this one. If you like any of the reference points, I’d say this is a band for you to check out.

- Mike

Bent Out Of Shape – Who Laughs Last

2020 Demons Run Amok Entertainment
Bent Out Of Shape - Who Laughs Last
Bent Out Of Shape - Who Laughs Last

2nd release from these lot from Fryslan, Netherlands in a 4 song EP. The title track kicks in hard with a big sing-along chorus and a snotty yet beefy chorus. It’s like a mix of Bishops Green and Shipwrecked, both great bands in my opinion. “Paying Tribute” starts off and continues with big hooks and reminds me of Swedes Gatan’s Lag. These guys manage to have big hooks with a poppy undercurrent without sounding too slick or straying an inch from that classic Oi! feeling. “Lost In The System” is the fastest song of this EP, with a bit of a tougher, less bouncy sound that does feel a bit more “general punk” if you like. This EP finishes with “In Fryslan” – slightly faster again, but with a more Oi! sound to it, and the obligatory nod to Red Alert’s classic in the bridge which was fun. A short and sweet EP, but I really enjoyed it and look forward to what they do next.

- Mike

Unite Against Society – U.A.S.

Unite Against Society
Unite Against Society

Veteran release for this Belgian band from Herantals. “War On Us” is an uptempo tune, with some European hardcore overtones that bring to mind Razorblade. “Roadkill” bizarrely musically veers into thrash metal yet still with Oi! vocals – not for me this one. “I Do Believe” brings it back into a mid-paced standard Oi! with some metal-inspired leads.”Braindead” starts out with a long guitar intro that sounds like 90’s Metallica, eventually giving way to an almost crossover thrash verse and a more typical UK82 chorus. This thrashy, metal-tinged punk sound continues yet the Oi! vocals prevail thruout the rest of the 8 songs. This wasn’t really for me, but if your a fan of bands like Cryptic Slaughter, the Abused, and to an extent Razorblade this may be up your street.

- Mike

Syndrome 81 – loubards sensibles

2020 Donnez-Moi Du Feu
Syndrome 81 - loubards sensible
Syndrome 81 - loubards sensible

Another release from Brest’s finest in melodic, broody and if you like, atmospheric Oi! Just a short and sweet single here. “Traffic” is a solid tune with a very post-punk lead echoing thruout the song, and follows the standard fare of S81 material. The b-side though, “Tu Ne Me Dois Rien”, dives into some different territory with beautiful guitar leads that instantly bring The Cure to mind, hooks abound on this one. The vocals are still in the punk camp but are definitely softer and a bit singier. Absolute belter of a song and one of my favourites they’ve done to date, especially being a non-skinhead band I’d love to see them grow in this direction as it sounds like they’re really hitting their stride. The artwork is very quirky, 80’s cartoon-looking with the same kind of camp-faced-Fonz featuring on all but one of what is presumed to be the band. It looks like it’s sold out but keep your eyes out for a scheduled re-press.

- Mike

Headcheese – s/t

2021 Neon Taste

Snotty, infectiously catchy and primarily mid-paced hardcore punk from Kamloops BC. These boys did a great demo last year (maybe the one before?) and this is a wicked follow up. 12 tracks clocking in at as many minutes, there’s no fucking about here. All the classic 80’s west coast influences shine thru, and brings to mind more recent bands like School Jerks, Career Suicide, Cloak/Dagger and Punch In The Face. For fans of short and not neccecarily sweet no frills punk rock.

- Mike

Skinhead – Fuck Fake Skins

2020 digital only release
Skinhead - Fuck Fake Skins
Skinhead - Fuck Fake Skins

Absolutely fucking hilarious project done by who knows who, and the most antagonistic thing I can remember hearing in ages. “Fuck Fake Skins” is a mid-paced stomper rallying against any new skins(likely too old to be starting) who subscribe to a cheesy adaptation – that is basically the theme for this whole EP though to be fair. “Old English” is a catchy as fuck oi number proclaiming “the old English is played out, and one of you looks like you’re on morphine – is this how you treat all your guests? I’m glad I’m not on your team!” Most of the tunes have a good segment where the vocals are basically spoken word shit talking – it’s like the high school bully mouthing off nerds that builds up to a hardcore shout. “U.N.S.H.” is a short burst of a tune about beating up an “unidentified skin”, then the last song on this EP which is absolutely the best musically and the funniest is “Bogo Skin”. With a spoken-word intro that had me in stitches, it’s actually a super catchy song reminiscent of the best tracks of Stars And Stripes and the oi-tinged Slapshot stuff. I can only imagine this is an absolute piss-take, but it’s a breath of fresh air from a lot of the squeaky clean stuff of recent years that sounds closer to Epitaph than Step-1, and a tongue-in-cheek homage to skins being just absolute thugs as opposed to a niche vintage look. Some readers will love this and some will despise it, but it’s definitely worth a listen and the kicker is that it’s actually a pretty good EP.

- Mike