As Northampton Museum opens its music exhibition this week, over at The Black Prince the old and new schools of punk rock clash, and in cataclysmic fashion. Garage Band Heroes burst out of the original ‘77 scene (under the moniker Great British Hope) and since their recent reformation, they’ve picked up right where they left off. They dish out a lively brand of punk and a mixture of covers and old G.B.H. tracks makes the perfect soundtrack for a boozy Friday night, and it’s to their credit that those original songs stand up well alongside ‘Pretty Vacant’ (which is more Rich Kids than Pistols) and rowdy closer, the Clash’s ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’.
When UK punk first came to prominence in the late ‘70s, it was during a period of economic upheaval, social unease and political strife, and as Acme Sewage Co. prove, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Born in the blistering summer of 1976, Acme Sewage Co. are the very epitome of punk and the politically charged ‘(You Make Me) Sick’ and ‘I Don’t Need You’ are played with plenty of piss and vinegar and still sound pertinent over four decades since they were first put to tape. Newer tracks such as ‘Tory Town’ speak for themselves, and prove that Jenny Darling and the boys have lost none of their veracity. A nifty cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ comes drenched in feedback and ensures the whiff of Acme Sewage will hang around awhile.
A band dragging punk, kicking and screaming, into the 2020’s are The Dollheads, three siblings who peddle a nice line in pop-punk. Hailing from the sunny climes of Las Vegas, they are a power trio in its purest definition and create a sound far bigger than their constituent parts. I’m a big fan of the three-piece band; with no place to hide, each musician must step to the fore and, as is often the case, becomes more bombastic than a quart or quintet. However, don’t mistake volume for verbosity, because every song The Dollheads deliver comes liberally infused with melody, and if The Ramones and Shonen Knife had a batch of love children, I’d imagine they’d sound a lot like The Dollheads. The band have built up quite an impressive discography, and cuts like ‘Hallways’ and ‘This Bitch’ are wrapped up tightly and are played with the kind of telepathy that only siblings possess. There’s still room for a couple of covers, including Nena’s ‘99 Red Balloons’ (a rendition that brings to mind 7 Seconds’ version) and Rancid’s ‘Roots Radicals’, on which they amp up the ska angle, and claim ownership. It all adds up to an energetic, and more importantly, enjoyable set.
Much has been made of the band’s tender ages, and it does give them a unique angle, but I hope they’ll be able to carry things over into their adult years; this is one band who deserve to be around for the long haul.