Today marks the beginning of BSTV’s weekly recommended Jukebox, compiled and composed by Trash.
1. Bubblegum Screw – ‘Play Some Fucking Stooges’
Find it on: Filthy! Rich! Lolitas! 2014: http://bubblegumscrew1.bandcamp.com/
Watch the official music video via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZSNaNzqDz0
Watch a live version on BSTV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qm1_r09so4
Electric Owls has worked with Bubblegum Screw on a number of occasions – shooting the band’s music video for ‘I Was A Teenage Fuck Up’ and, more recently, working with them on the pilot episode of TV programme ‘Bandter’ filmed at the Alley Cat on Denmark Street . As part of this latter shoot, the band also took part in a pretty hilarious interview which we hope to be able to upload fully in the coming month.
‘Play Some Fucking Stooges’ is the band’s latest single and a key feature of the Screw’s eagerly awaited second album, Filthy! Rich! Lolitas! which saw them cross over the Channel to record it, having spent a considerable amount of time gigging in France in 2013. The excess of ‘!’ in the title instantly reminded me of The Dictator’s Go Girl Crazy! album title from 1975. Furthermore, the band clearly draws it influences, at least in part, from the garage and proto punk scenes of which Handsome Dick Manitoba and his crew were a part in New York, as well as the Detroit scene and its practitioners, of which this track plays homage.
Bubblegum Screw has always worn its influences on its sleeve. Having watched them gig for over five years that’s always been clear to me, though I find their punchy, sometimes playful, and other times darker, fusion of glam, garage, punk and rock ‘n’ roll utterly credible. Appraisals on Bubblegum Screw’s material have often commented on its authenticity as an example of garage rock band that sounds like it could well have been kicking around Max’s Kansas City or CBGBs. Furthermore, in spite of changing line ups over the years (and indeed, since the filming of both the linked videos), there is a stick-to-its-guns rock n roll spirit in Bubblegum Screw that is totally unique within the contemporary music scene.
Watch the official music video for a fast-paced and punchy piece of footage filmed by Graham Trott and then veer over to the BSTV video, which was filmed by Electric Owls, for a vintage Top of the Pops circa. 1975 feel (only 100% live) and which sees the tiny stage at the Alley Cat only just big enough to hold them!
2. Healthy Junkies – ‘Cat Story’
Although an older example of the Healthy Junkie’s addictive brand of grungey punk rock, Cat Story is probably one of my favourite songs by the London-based quartet. The band was formed shortly after vocalist Nina Courson met guitarist Phil Honey-Jones in Soho, both of whom were in other bands at the time. Having tried to play their existing material from these bands together, the pair soon decided that they were keen to write brand new songs together, and so it was, with the drafting in of TJay Tarantino on bass and Steve Nightmare on drums, that the Healthy Junkies was formed four years ago.
The line-up has changed a little since then – and it’s actually Adam Lewis on the sticks in Cat Story. The Healthy Junkies have gone onto produce two singles and two albums, and The Lost Refuge is their latest effort and an excellent contribution to the roster of artists on Manchester-based STP Records.
The Healthy Junkies’ angsty rock songs, executed with great passion and conviction through their relentless gig and tour schedule, have earned them a bevy of bans, many of them dawning on the band’s home turf at its ‘Punk N Roll Rendez-Vous’ at The Unicorn in Camden, arguably one of the few unpretentious boozers left in the area. Although a sort of ‘punk community’ has ‘adopted’ the band in the words of Courson, its members are keen not to be pigeon-holed into being labelled simply ‘punk’ and have similarly challenged lazy comparisons to the Sex Pistols and Blondie. Neither of these are accurate in the slightest.
Although the band often employ full-throttle guitar riffs on faster, ‘punkier’ tracks like ‘Resistance’ (The Lost Refuge), ‘Trash My Love’ and ‘Manifesto’ (Sick Note), Honey-Jones’ background in Industrial psychedelia in the form of previous band HiroshAmour (also worth a listen), means that the soaring guitar passages are often prone to wonderful, deconstructive freak-outs. The effect isn’t unlike Killing Joke, musically speaking, although a little more complex in their arrangement, and ultimately, more comparable to the grunge bands like Hole and Nirvana that inform their music in a very central way.
Furthermore, Courson’s vocals are unique and versatile: spitting and angry one minute (‘Play Me’), softer and dreamy the next, as demonstrated by a gutsy cover in the form of ‘La Vie En Rose’, also on The Lost Refuge, as well through the narrative that unravels in Cat Story.
3. STASH – ‘Time Will Tell’
STASH’s headlining slot at the ‘Stranger than Paradise’ live music night at Brixton’s Hootananny opened with this killer track from the band’s eagerly-awaited album, Resistor, which is currently in the recording stages. The under-stated musical introduction comes courtesy of Nick Stash’s bluesy guitar; a sparse chord sequence that echoes some of the more improv-orientated Stooges recordings like ‘I’m Sick Of You’ or ‘Delta Blues Shuffle’ made in c. 1974 just after Raw Power (see The Stooges, ‘Original Punks’ LP).
Top-hatted glamazon Becky Stash brings not only unprecedented style but incredible rang and power in her vocals, which add richness to the song before picking up pace as the song gathers momentum and Cristian Stash’s drums feel the full force of his powerhouse tempos. The drumming is the absolute backbone to this and other songs in the STASH set, and completely critical to the way the band is able to quickly speed up and then deftly deconstruct to slide into blues shuffle territory.
Although fundamentally channelling garage rock elements, the psychedelic focus within STASH is profound, which serves as a perfect counterpart to the trio’s mixture of more playful and hard-edged material. Time Will Tell ultimately feels like a strong sentiment or proverb in manner of ‘ce sera sera’, but then STASH quickly raises the volume and quickens the pace, rendering it instead a mighty, impatient call to arms and an admirable nod to the band’s varied set of influences.